Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Real Estate Investment

So, I am about to take a very big step this week closer to the point of no return when it comes to real estate investing. I had briefly considered doing it a couple years ago when an investor bought the house next door with a group of people, but that group was doing flipping, buying and selling houses within months in a very speculative market. I looked into it a little but it sounded very risky and the stakes were just too high in my very expensive housing market. Fast forward a couple years to October of this year. At work, a friend of mine recommended and lent me Robert Kiyosaki's book "Rich Dad, Poor Dad". It talks about various topics, some of which was financial advice that I already, some of which was old advice emphasized in a new way, some of which was new to me. He spoke of real estate as being a great basis for long-term wealth, and had a lot of figures to back it up. I looked more into it, and bought a few books myself, the best of them being "Real Estate Investing for Dummies". Another excellent one was "What Every Real Estate Investor Needs to Know about Cash Flow". I'm still reading that one.

I decided I needed to get started, but I needed to find a good place to do it. My options were fairly limited. I needed to either do it locally, or someplace where I had connections and felt comfortable with. That meant either the DC area where I live, Asheville, NC where my parents retired to, or upstate NY where I am originally from. Housing prices are very high in this area compared to rents. I would barely even be able to afford a down payment on one small property with the home equity line of credit that I got, and even then I would probably not even break even on rents because of the high mortgage payment. Asheville prices are more reasonable, but even there it looked like the ratio was not very favorable and the city's growth has been more recent, so the most desirable properties were again very expensive because they were quite new, so I went with upstate NY. Yes, I won't get a lot of appreciation in that market on the property, however because the mortgage/rent ratio is so favorable, it gives me a great opportunity to pay off the HELOC as soon as possible and buy more property.

I got my team together, a realtor, a property manager, a mortgage broker, a lawyer, and an accountant. All of them are in NY except my accountant who is local. I've identified the properties that look like they will give me the best cash flow, and on Thursday I will be flying up there to take a look at them. I plan on buying two initially and then deciding my next move in a few years when I pay off the HELOC. We'll see how it goes!

The election. Ah, yes. I helped elect Jim Webb and put the Democrats over the top in the Senate. I was ecstatic, needless to say. I thought Allen would somehow pull it out, but he did not! The same went for Talent in MO who was beaten by McCaskill. As for the House races, it looks at this time like there will be 31 total seats picked up by Democrats, more than my prediction of 19-23, and right in the 30-36 range that Stuart Rothenberg guessed. Governorships, I was dead on. The total was a gain of 6 for Democrats. Now I hope we can prove in the next couple years that people were correct to give control back to us. Social conservatism has hit the high water mark for the foreseeable future, and not a moment too soon. Of course, I think that it was already heading toward that end well over a year ago, but the people didn't get a chance to voice it much until now. All of the stupid moves that Republicans have pulled in the last couple years, Schiavo, Katrina, "stay the course", various scandals, finally came home to roost. Now it's time to prove that we Democrats can do a better job! Obama in '08? Has a ring to it, but honestly, I could live with McCain or Giuliani as president, and they are the Republican front-runners, so maybe it's win-win? We'll see!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

More Election Coverage

I was listening to some Fox coverage and some CNN coverage on the way home. On CNN they had James Carville, who is just awesome. He has a very quick wit, doesn't take himself too seriously, and is a very tough guy when it comes to defending his positions! He doesn't melt in front of formidable opponents.

They released some exit polling data on CNN and for a second I was thinking "Oh no, not early exit polling data again!", but it turned out to be generic data on which issues people saw as most important and whether the race was "nationalized" or not. On Fox, some Republican was on talking about how Republican turnout was ahead of Democratic turnout from 2004 by 35.9 to 35.4. I have no idea where he was getting that, but I highly doubt it. Soon some of the first races will end. I can't wait to see how things are looking!

Election Day!

Need I say more? Well, I will say more, of course... I just can't believe it's finally here! After two major elections of seeing Republicans making gains in an election in 2002 and 2004 (2000 was mostly a wash aside from the top of the ticket), finally today should be a different story. I still am trying to figure out if there is some rabbit that the Republicans can pull out of their hat at the last minute once again. I don't see any rabbits, but I guess we'll all start finding out in a couple hours.

A site I have been watching closely is the Rothenberg Report. It is non-partisan, and has been predicting big gains for Democrats, which is great, but sometimes I think it's even a bit overboard. He is predicting:
+ 30 to 36 seats for Dems in the House
+ 4 to 7 seats for Dems in the Senate
+ 7 to 9 governors for Dems

I would love for him to be right, but I think the ground game for Republicans continues to be strong, and races always seem to tighten up along partisan lines right before the election. My predictions are:
+ 19 to 23 seats for Dems in the House
+ 4 seats for Dems in the Senate - Dems Cardin and Menendez hold, Santorum, Burns, Chafee, DeWine gone, Allen, Talent, and Corker hold on to win
+ 6 governors for Dems

A friend of mine at work thinks Republicans pick up five net seats in the House, and hold even in the Senate. He's a Republican of course, but he thinks the polls are wrong. I guess we'll see! Lunch is riding on the outcome. As long as we gain seats overall I win! I like my chances. Now it's time to go home and wait for the returns.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Karma Police, Arrest This Man!

I was listening to some Radiohead on the way to work, thus the random lyrics. Here's another... "She's a rebel, she's a saint, she's the one that they call oh, whatshername..." Something like that. Name that tune!

Yes, it has been many months since I blogged. I guess I just kind of fizzled out on the politics kick, and wasn't sure what to replace it with. I have some ideas here and there. I don't promise it'll be enormously exciting, but you can bet that it will be sometimes!

I have been thinking a bit recently about good old upstate NY, where I was born and raised (Auburn specifically). It was not the hub of fun and excitement for sure, but I have lots of great memories from there, and I'm kind of mentally going through the ones I don't think of often so that I don't lose them. I remember Roseland. The link you see here is to the new Roseland, which I just found out existed in the same small city, Canandaigua. The old Roseland was a regular non-water amusement park for the most part. We would go there every year until it closed back in 1985. Then we went to Darien Lake after that, which was a bigger park, but never had the same feel. It is now "Six Flags Western New York" or something. The old carousel was then purchased to be part of Carousel Center in Syracuse. It's an enormous mall that also has convention space and so on. Hardly the same though as when it was at Roseland though. I will always remember the music that it made with the little mechanical drums and other instruments that you could see behind the wooden facade for just a fraction of a second as you went around the circle. Cotton candy, candy apples, Skyliner, which was the old wooden rollercoaster. It was a dwarf by today's standards, but at the time I thought it was the most amazing ride. The Gold Nugget was actually my favorite. It was a Haunted House, and you would get in little open cars that would take you around it. That was closed during their last year because of a fire that killed a few kids in WV that caused those types of rides to be required to have sprinkler systems. They knew they were closing anyway, so there was no point in spending the money I guess.

Wow!!! Check it out! Skyliner still exists! They moved it to someplace in PA! I would love to go there just to take another spin on it. It's in Lakemont, which seems to be near Altoona. Hmmm.

On another note, yesterday was the last day of Zarqawi's miserable excuse for a life. It could hardly have happened to a more deserving person. I doubt it's going to make a huge difference in anything in Iraq, but it might help some. We'll see. By the way though, did it seem a little strange how they put an enormous picture of the guy's face on a picture and even bothered to frame it for media consumption? Seems like they're trying a bit too hard, but hey, it's been a tough year or two for them. I guess we can expect a little showboating.