Get Control of Your Finances Before You Start Real Estate Investing

If you are slipping further and further into debt each month and you think real estate investing is going to save you, I have bad news for you. It won’t. Let me tell you first hand that if those testimonials on late night t.v. for no money down courses are even real, those people are the exception, not the rule. That’s the bad news – the good news is that there are lower risk ways to buy real estate and you don’t have to have money to do it.

From too many bad experiences doing no money down deals, I’ve come to the conclusion that beginner real estate investors should avoid 100% financing on property purchases. They are very risky and while there are people who’ve gotten very rich doing them, there are probably more that lose a lot of money. That’s what happened to me. And, no money deals still cost money! It just means you don’t have to spend money on a down payment.

In my view, there are only 3 ways you should consider coming up with a down payment to get started real estate investing, but the good news is that only one of them requires that you to use your own money:

1. Your own savings (cash out stocks, GIC’s, and even retirement savings in some cases)
2. Equity in your home
3. A partner with cash.

Notice credit cards and lines of credit are not on that list?! DO NOT USE YOUR CREDIT CARD TO FINANCE YOUR REAL ESTATE INVESTMENTS!! Just the other day my wife Julie reminded me of one of the first things we did at a “Get Rich Quick” real estate course we took many years ago. During our break the real estate guru told us to call our credit card company and get our credit card limit raised and a percentage knocked off the interest rate!

The room was buzzing with excitement after the break. Everyone proudly told stories of getting credit of $5,000, $10,000 and even $20,000 added to the limits on their cards! And some even excitedly reported that they now would only be paying 18% interest instead of 21%.

What if something goes wrong with your investment and you end up paying that 18% interest on that $20,000 for years to come? Do you want me to do the math on that?

So, if you’re a renter and don’t have any home equity and you don’t have any savings, the only option left on our list to get started is finding a partner. Finding a partner will be next to impossible if your own finances are ugly. If you have no experience investing in real estate, you are deep in debt and you are trying to get rich on someone else’s money, what exactly is in it for them, as your potential partner? It just sounds risky to me.

If you were to approach me with an investment opportunity and you said “Dave, I have found this property that I think is a great investment. I don’t have any money because when I graduated from University two years ago, I had $30,000 in student loans. I only have $5,000 left to pay off, but I really want to get started real estate investing and I think this deal will be great,” I, personally, would be more interested in working with you.

See what I am saying? This person has no money, but they have the right mindset about money. They are in debt for a good reason AND have been diligent about debt repayment.

So, if you want to become a real estate investor, but your up to your ears in debt and have a negative net worth, get focused on fixing your money mess at the same time as you start learning about real estate. By the time you have a better grip on your money, you can be educated and ready to make your first purchase too!

Will the Popularity of Costa Rica Real Estate Remain High?

Costa Rica is a Central American country with great sandy beaches, volcanoes, and tropical mountains.

With the Caribbean on one side, the Pacific on the other, and wonderful warm blue seas teeming with fish, it is an ideal vacationing spot. In fact, it is one of the most visited countries in Central America. The tourist influx has created a booming industry with many hotels, resorts, golf courses, restaurants, casinos, pubs, and locales catering to adult activities.

As it is being discovered, more and more Americans, Canadians, and Europeans are retiring or living here with thousands owning second homes along the spectacular beaches or tropical mountains. Unlike Mexico, foreigners can own property in Costa Rica and tens of thousands live here year-round because of its democratic government, tropical climate, reasonable land prices, and spectacular laid-back natural environment.

All this in turn led to an increase in Costa Rica real estate prices, particular along the magnificent Pacific coast where most of the tourists go.

Costa Rica is a tiny country with its land mass constituting just one tenth of one percent, 0.1%, of the land on the planet. This relative scarcity of available real estate in the face of development growing out of tourism has led to a boom in the real estate business over the last decade along the coasts, in the mountains, and in urban areas.

Additionally, the massive influx of retirees and folks who choose to live in a tropical paradise and leave behind the pressures of day-to-day life has also contributed to the increase in property prices in some coastal areas.

Plenty of investment has been coming into real estate from outside the country. The U.S. has led the way, of course, but there are lots of investors from Canada and Western Europe.

My belief is that these countries will soon be joined by China which has been increasing its presence in Costa Rica dramatically over the last few years. In addition to beach-front property, the main areas of investment are farms, called fincas, which are being developed into subdivisions, mountain properties, and vacation rentals.

Real estate prices soared along the Pacific coast and some other parts of the country because expatriates and people wanting second homes have realized just how cheap, relative to the U.S. and Europe, land is.  But, the little country has not been immune from the recent worldwide economic slowdown and prices in the expat beach areas of the country have softened substantially in some areas, 

Nevertheless, Costa Rica real estate has been, and continues to be, a good investment because the country has a very stable political system and a growing economy.

Unlike Mexico, foreigners can own free title to land. The crime rate in Costa Rica remains low, though increasing, and human development indices are very high compared to other Central American countries.

The tourist influx has also seen the country evolve to accommodate the international community. More and more international investors have come to the conclusion that Costa Rica is a great place to invest in real estate and their returns on investment have borne out that faith.

Despite today’s uncertain economic climate in the States and Europe, the general perception is that there will be a large rebound in Costa Rica real estate.

Why? One reason is the incessant flow of investments based upon the lucrative returns to be had from property development. Another is that, in comparison to the Unites States and Europe, real estate prices, particularly on sunny, tropical coastlines remain incredibly reasonable. Land prices along the coasts are still just a fraction of the cost elsewhere. Further, real estate investors have found extraordinary returns on their investments over the last decade.

The steepest rise in property prices and the steepest decline (due to the U.S. and European recession) have been along the Pacific coast. The beautiful Caribbean coast remains largely undeveloped so the run-up in prices was slower. And real estate prices in the Central Valley containing the largest city, San Jose, and some 40% of the country’s population have not been significantly affected because of the acute shortage of available land and continuing demand as more and more Ticos move to the urban areas.

Before investing in real estate here, I strongly recommend taking a Costa Rica vacation.  Tour the country a bit.  Take your time deciding.