As much as American workers look forward to retirement, many of them also worry that retirement is a luxury they can’t afford. In fact, about one-fourth express concerns about running out of cash in retirement, according to a survey by the Indexed Annuity Leadership Council.
The problem, says Marco Kozlowski, (www.marcokozlowski.com) an entrepreneur and business consultant, is that too many people lock themselves into a few limited options for funding their retirement nest egg.
Social Security provides a small amount of income, but after that people rely on what little savings they can muster after paying bills and taking care of other daily living expenses.
When they realize their savings are coming up short, they consider alternative retirement plans, such as delaying Social Security so monthly payments will be higher, working in retirement, or turning to investments such as real estate to provide a different path to security.
Kozlowski is a proponent of the real estate alternative, but he warns that real estate comes with its own caveats.
“People think when you are talking about real estate that it’s going to be some get-rich-quick situation,” Kozlowski says. “It’s not. To be successful at it takes effort and education on how to do things correctly. Buying a home and buying investment property have completely different rules.”
Those willing to get educated and to put in the hard work will find that real estate can be the ticket to healthy retirement plan, he says.
He has a few tips to help those interested avoid some common pitfalls:
• Buy it right. Be on the lookout for the best deals. Ideally, you want to find properties that you can buy at a discount. If you really know what you are doing, you can get 20 percent or more off the actual property value. Don’t worry about the seller’s asking price. “If you make an offer and it gets accepted, you paid too much,” he says.
• Don’t fear negotiations. When it’s not something you do on a regular basis, negotiating can seem intimidating and uncomfortable. Some people just don’t like it, but good negotiations are critical and inevitable for success in life and real estate, so Kozlowski suggests just having fun with it. “Negotiations are nothing more than a conversation with another person, but with a goal in mind,” he says. “Remember that money is made on the buy. I’d rather get 100 rejected offers and one accepted at the right price. Rejection is free; a bad deal is costly.”
• Consider hiring a management firm. Owning and maintaining real estate can consume a lot of time. It’s best to get a management company to manage the properties and tenants for you so you can devote your time to other more important things – like making more offers to get more great deals in your portfolio
• Explore financing options. There are many ways to finance a real estate purchase. You don’t have to use your own capital and you don’t have to go through a bank. For example, you can seek out private money. You may pay more in interest, Kozlowski says, but there’s no limit on how many loans you can get as is the case with many banks.
Kozlowski cautions that real estate investing can be risky – especially if you don’t educate yourself before taking the plunge.
“The way to reduce all risk is through knowledge,” he says. “Everything we learn helps use avoid some sort of risk. In that sense, real estate investing isn’t much different from anything else in life.”
About Marco Kozlowski
Marco Kozlowski (www.marcokozlowski.com), author of the ebooks “WTF Wealth: The Formula” and “10 Myths of Investing in U.S. Real Estate,” is an entrepreneur and mentor who offers financial education on how to maximize real estate investing in the United States from anywhere in the world.