Category Archives: real estate

I am so excited about this…

For over 5 years I have always wanted to be more involved in investing in real estate.  I have helped out many people with their investing, but the amount of investing that I have done for myself was not enough.  Sure I bought a few properties but nothing that was a turnkey money making solution….well that is UNTIL NOW.

Over the last few months I have spent countless hours educating myself, working on my connections, and working on a new website for Capital Active.  Well it is done now.  I have a functional site up and running.  But the REAL work was done finding and securing assignments on over 30 awesome wholesale deals.  You heard me right, you can now click HERE and find over 30, way below fair market value properties that you can invest in or simply buy for your own use!!!  This has me really excited.  It was a lot of work but it is worth it.

On top of having all of these great deals, I also have lined up people to help home buyers buy these homes, and if you are an investor we can help you find a tenant.

The readers of this blog will have the FIRST shot at buying these houses from me.  If you are interested in any of these please contact me ASAP, I hope these will go fast, they should because they are killer deals.

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The truth about Millionaires.

Everyone wants to be a millionaire.  I always had it as a goal, a first step.  First I wanted to do it by the time I was 25, then I set it for 30.  Now I have a goal of doing it while I am 35.  But this time I have a firm plan to get there.

First off most people think that if you are one you will be set for life.  In many cases that is correct, but in most cases it took risk to get the million and most people who have it take those same risks and lose it.  There are ways to earn without too much risk, but mostly that is very slow.  Other people simply go crazy, they get the money too easily and spend it all.  Over 80% of lottery winners have a negative net worth just 5 years after they win.  They get this huge lifestyle, and then spend spend spend, and when the money runs out they borrow like crazy.

I personally know a lot of millionaires.  I don’t know of any who made the money trading time for money or having a job.  I know a few who won it, but the VAST majority worked hard, ran a business and invested the profits.  Some are in farming, some are in insurance, other have a business in one form or another but most are in real estate.  And all of the millionaires that I have asked about this invest heavily in real estate.  Time and time I hear that no matter how you make your millions that real estate is the best place to store the money.  Another common factor among those that have made and kept millions is that they live WAY below what you expect.  They drive older cars, they don’t shop at the fancy shops.  Most of them live on less than 60k per year.  That is still 5,000 per month.  While they were making their money they lived on much less.  Those people you see shopping at all the ritzy malls and spending thousands of dollars are usually people who earn a lot, and spend even more and have a negative net worth.

So what does it take to have a net worth over a million dollars.  I define it as all assets, at the price you could sell it for today minus all debt.  It is hard to value a business so I usually set that as valued as 8 times last years earnings as long as you project those earnings to go on.  Using that measure I actually was a millionaire once during the years that my business was really profitable, but I could not project that computers would become a commodity and that my business would start to lose money at huge rates until I was in the hole.

Also you can only grow your net worth from your personal profits each month.  If you have $3,000 in monthly expenses you need to deduct that from your income before you see if you have enough.  For me I have about $3,000 that I must spend each month to stay current.  About half of that is servicing debt, and could be gone if the interest rates were not so low.  If I am starting with a net worth of zero and I want to be a millionaire in 2 years I need to pack away about $42k per MONTH.  That is a crazy number, and that is why people with jobs don’t hit it.  Even if you had 8% interest on your side and you wanted to do it in 10 long years you would need to save over $7,000 per MONTH.  This is why less than 1% of the people are millionaires.  Even if you earned $120k per year and spent only $3k per month it would take you 10 years of constant effort.  The biggest problem is that when you earn that much, you usually hang out with other people who earn that much, and they start talking about their new cars, second homes and their vacations, and you feel “less than” for living on such a meager $3k per month and you can not maintain it.  It is like a bucket with a ton of holes in it, the more water you pour in the faster the holes take it out, and it never really gets full.  So the answer is clearly not a job, even a high paying one.  You have the limit of how much you can earn because of who you work for and with.  So a business is really the only answer, but to have a good business you need to be as good or better than all of the other businesses out there, or you need to have an idea that really sets you apart.  If you have a really great idea that can duplicate all over the world you can even become an instant billionaire.  This is what they folks at YouTube, Facebook and Twitter have done.  The first ones cashed out when the company was only 7 months old.  The second two have yet to cash out, though twitter just sold 2% of the company for $200 million, making the company worth over $10 billion.  But it is hard to come up with such an idea, most usually stumble upon it early.

So now we all have an up hill battle to climb.  So if you want to be a millionaire in 2 years from today you need to come up with an idea that makes you $50k per month on a constant basis.  Or if you want to build and sell a business you need make one that earns $125k-$150k next year, and that number is AFTER your take from the company because the company will need your or someone like you after you sell it.  The way you design a million dollar company is much different than the way you design a company that just pays your bills.

When you are looking for a large net worth you need to keep in mind the laws of large numbers.  One of the easiest ways to get there is to sell a product over and over.  Even if you only make $10 each time you do it, that means that you need to sell 100,000 items.  So plan your business accordingly.  If you need to sell 100,000 items that means that about only one out of every 1,000 households needs to buy your product.  Depending on your product that may mean that only 1% of the population even needs to know about your product.  But to even get 1% penetration may be a hard thing to do.  But one good viral video could do it for you, or one good endorsement.  Thousands have made it rich this way.

You can also get there by helping others reach for their dreams.  Imagine if you could help people earn a living and you got a cut of what they did.  For me this was always by hiring sales people.  I basically would set their wages to where they would get 40% of the profits that they generated.  I would pay for their phone, a place for them to work, I would help them close deals and I would design the products that they sold, I would even pay for them to have a base salary in case sales were slow that week.  The more successful they would be the more successful I would be.  If I have 3 or even 4 of these people it would keep me busy.  Imagine if I had 30 or 40, and if they averaged making $2000 for themselves per month, that means that each one would make me $3000 per month.  That alone is a million in a year!  Becoming a millionaire is REALLY a team sport.  I don’t know anyone who has worked to get a million who did not have a team behind them.  Most people I know help out people all of the time because the more people they help the more they make in the long run.

If you want to make it rich selling something, or helping other people get rich you need a system to manage the entire thing.  A system is really the key.  The good part is with a little math you can start to think about the system now, you can design the system now that will take you to the millions you want to have.  A good system with the right principles will take you there.  Run a simulation on your system, if it does average will it get you to where you want to be, is your system too small?  Is your system too hopeful, does it require that something unknown will happen to catapult you into your success, if that is the case it probably will not happen.  You can’t predict such things.

I really hope this helps you put your dreams in perspective.  And I hope you start to think how duplicating a successful system will get you there.  You need to focus on people, you need to focus on results.  Your plan must have the muscle to get you to your goals.

When you get your millions remember the little guys, remember to give back.  Millionaires are some of the nicest, most humble and most generous people I know.  Most millionaires are not they greedy people the movies and media make them out to be.  They usually are very humble because they know that peopled helped them along the way, and that being nice to people and helping others is the key to their success.  They feel lucky that they made it.

As always, please subscribe, and if you liked this blog please comment, I read them all personally.

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My very steep mountain I plan to climb. (My Mission in life)

This entry is about my mission in life, and my mindset right now.

My goal, is to be very wealthy.  I don’t really have a personal need to be wealthy but I have felt for a long time now that it is my calling in life to be so.  The reason for this is that I can help many people out, so that I can leave a legacy for my children and their children and to help the Kingdom of God in all of this.  I want to be the one who builds schools, churches, community housing projects and so on.  I have had a desire for this for many years but have gotten distracted a few time.  Now I feel like I am behind schedule, I have this huge goal and to accomplish it I need to act now and act aggressively.  I need to have a very steep slope to my net worth mountain.

The good news is that in times like this, with economic turmoil and such it is actually easier for a smart person who sees the trends to gain massive wealth.  I can buy stocks in good companies for huge discounts.  I can buy houses for cents on the dollar.  These things will always rebound, they may take some time but they will.  I can take advantage of the huge wave of people who are eager to snatch onto the dream of finally being their own boss, I can consult with them and make tools for them to get there easier, because I have been there my whole life.  Of course I will charge for this service.

My goal is to have a net worth of $5 million dollars by the time I am 40 years old, and $10m by the time I am 45.  (I am 33 now)  I will consider any donations I have made to be part of my net worth.  To get there I would need to earn a huge amount of money.  I will invest most of that money until I get to my goal.  This is a very steep mountain to climb.  I have made money at this rate in the past buy I grew my company too fast and trusted people who screwed me and soon I was bleeding 10k+ per month.  I have learned that lesson but I do know that I can not do all of this myself.  I need to use other peoples money and other peoples time to get to where I need to be.  If I do everything that needs to be done I will never make it, never even get close, I have to hire others to join me.  For over 10 years now I have always had at least a few people who work for me, people who I can call when I make a sale.

So to make this goal I need to really start to climb, to earn huge amounts of money.  Well that is actually much easier than you may think it is.  There is more opportunity now simply because the market is totally inefficient right now.  This means that prices are all over the place for the same item, mostly caused by crazy desperate people who are selling things at fire sale prices.  This lets us take advantage of research and work to find the best price on something and sell it to someone who does not do the research.  This can be done on houses, cars, computers, information, labor, and almost anything else that can be bought and sold.   You can buy cars for $5k that sell for $10k the next week.  You can buy houses for 20k that were once worth 200k and sell them for 80k with ease.   I just bought over $1500 in computer parts from a guy for $100 simply because he got them from a guy who went out of business and had no idea what they were worth.  Money is just sitting there everywhere waiting for someone to pick it up.

Right now is the best time I have ever seen in my life to buy Real Estate, and probably the best time there will be.  You can buy a house now for such a low price that you can rent it out and have the rental payments cover the entire cost in under 5 years.  You can then hold on to these houses for 10 years and sell it for many times the purchase price.  This is the main way I plan to make my long term money, but I need to fund this with short term money.  My plan for this is to sell websites, sell business opportunities, such as this one or this one.  I have another huge idea in the works that I think will make a million dollars in the next 3 years as long as it is done right.  I need all of this because I have a high goal.

Mindset is Key.  mindset

Less than half of a percent of the population in the US has a net worth over $1 million dollars, and with the current market that number is falling.  Most of the population is deep in debt and the ones that are not don’t have a huge net worth.  Most people simply do not posses the entrepreneurial spirit, they do not have the mindsets required.  They do not even have this as a goal.  There is probably less than 2% of the population that is serious about being an entrepreneur, about being truly wealthy and free.  For me and these others like me we must have a different mindset from the rest of the world.  What works for the normal, happy to have a job, people in this world actually hurts us.  And what works for us does not work for them.

There is about 10% of the population that thinks that they are an entrepreneur, people who have gone out and created for themselves a business, or they dabble on the side trying to run a small home based business but most of these do not have the correct mindset.  They simply do not see it.  For years many of my friends have fallen into this group, and for years I have talked to them, tried to show them the way.  Given them books on the subject like the awesome E-Myth by Michael Gerber.  All with very little result, they almost never get it, and they just can’t figure out why even when I tell them directly, so for the most part I have stopped.  I love to deal with the people who have the right mindset already.  You can tell someone simply does not get it when they keep saying “You can’t do that” but in reality there is very little we can not do.  We can buy houses for 10 cents on the dollar and not use one cent of our own money, we can sell a service to a client for one price and then hire someone else to perform that service for a much lower, yet still fair price.  We can do something once and get paid for that work for a long time to come.

entrepreneurTo have the correct mindset you must realize that there are different rules for us.  I have found that people like Donald Trump, Robert Kiyosaki, Ric Edelman, Dean Graziosi and Adrian Cartwood can equip you with the correct mindset.   For the other people who are not entrepreneurial they can listen to people like Suzy Orman, Clark Howard and David Ramsey but for us much of the information they say is toxic to our mindset.  They focus on what to do with the money that you earn, how to divide it, how to save it and such, and they focus very LITTLE on simply making more.   They focus on how you should not used debt at all.  I agree with all of this for “normal” people.  I think that normal people should only take on debt to go to college and buy a meager house, and maybe to buy a first car.   They should save their money for retirement and live a very frugal life.  They should max out their 401k and invest in mutual funds.  (For all people even these I strongly suggest that they separate their home equity from their home, it make much more sense.)

But for us E-Type people this is crazy talk.  I know I can do much better in life than that sort of existence.  If we have a good idea we should borrow to make it happen if we don’t have the resources ourselves.  We should keep an eye out for the needs of others and look for ways to fill those needs.  We should delegate anything that we can to free up our time to focus on growing our business.   We should focus on increasing our income 10 times as much as we focus on where it all goes.

E-Type people should give away money with abandon to worth causes.  I personally believe in Christian education and I help out many children go to private Christian schools, third world children who would not have a good education if I did not help out, now they have a chance to be something great in the future.  Almost every millionaire I know gives away more money per year that most people earn.  I remember a few years ago my Grandfather walked into his local church and gave them $100,000, just a few months before he died.  I remember growing up with my uncle and seeing him write checks for $5,000 when a missionary came to his local church.  I remember he would always give us $10 or so every time the offering came by and we would dump it in, teaching us to give.  I have a good friend locally who makes over $50k a month and gives over $10k of that away each month.    We are blessed to be a blessing, the more you send out the more you will get — people just don’t get it.

Final Thoughts

I really hope that you have gotten inspired by all of this.  I was inspired by the 7m7y project recently.  And just this week by two other great guys.  We really

It is the cashflow stupid.

My friend Adrian posted a very good blog entry about cash flow.  His blog is one that everyone who is serious about being wealthy should subscribe to.  I made and answer to him that point out how stupid so many investors are.  I wanted to share it with all of my readers also so here it is.

Read his entry HERE.

Here is what I replied with….

I have seem this time and again in commercial real estate.  People are willing to leave a strip mall mostly empty, they are unwilling to do short term leases, or even to discount the leases.  So what happens, there are tons of strip malls, and office buildings here in Arizona that are empty.  They have this mindset that if they get a nice long lease that it will be better than the money now.  This may have been the case in the past but to me it just seems so stupid.

An example is a building I was thinking of renting back in 2002.  It was perfect for a business idea I had, I had the backers and was ready to go, I just wanted 6 months rent free and then to rent it for $12k per month, going up 5% per year.  They would not budge on their price of $18k.  It was too much so I passed.  Well now it is 2009 and it is STILL empty, no one has EVER rented it.

Another example is a strip mall that I know of.  It is very poorly designed but has over 400k square foot in total.  Less than 50k square foot is rented out.  A guy I know rented a 8k square foot space, and put a Filipino restaurant and grocery there.  Soon the space next door was rented by another Filipino to build a karaoke club for Filipinos.  It was all located in a part of the strip mall that was totally empty.  The grocery store invested everything they had, over 300k into building out their store and stocking it.  Then the economy hit them, and they could not pay the rent.  On the 15th day of the month the landlord locked them out, charged a penalty and the guy could not come up with the 20k needed, over 50k in food spoiled and they guy was promptly out of business, and the guy next door also moved out  The place is now empty.  So what did the owner of the property have to loose to give the guy some time to catch up, maybe some discounted rent.  He would surely not be making less than he is making right now, he has over 300,000 sq foot of other places to rent out, most of which are better.  It was dumb and short sighted, but that seems to be the majority of commercial landlords, especially the distant ones who never even see the property.

I think of tenants as clients.  They pay you and you should keep them happy.  You have only limited supply so when you are full you can be more selective and follow the rules to the letter, but when no one is buying your product you need to sell at any price to make money, they still like to keep rent high, and if it not rented then they take the tax break at the higher level.  That is illogical to me, but maybe that is why I am not as wealthy as they are.  Or maybe they are just huge REITs playing the game with other peoples money and they don’t really care that much.

Recession is a good thing if you have knowledge.

Ok, maybe this title is a bit shocking.  In easy time it only really takes money to make money.  In good times you can use a dart board at a page of stock symbols and make a decent return.  But when times get bad, like they are for many right now, most of the money gets really scared.  They don’t invest in the great companies that still exist, they don’t short the walking dead, they don’t buy the houses that are dramatically reduced.  They simply sit there and they buy bonds and Gold or just keep the money in CD’s if they can find a bank they trust.  Bike Race up Cat's Hill

It is said that on a long marathon, or in a long bike race that the best racers are hopeing for the hills to come, because it is the hills that lets them show their mastery and where they can gain ground on the competition.  When it course is flat and easy it is much harder to get ahead.  In the same way a recession is a great time for the smart and knowledgle person to get ahead. I am confident that if I was given $1 million dollars to invest as I see fit I could turn it into $3 million or more before this recession is over.  More self made millionares are made during a recession than during any other time.

During any time of significant change those that figure out the new way things will work and form a profitable business plan around it first are very likely to succed.  The people who are failing the most now are all the people who still have not found themself in the information age, the ones who still think that we live in the industrial age, you know the people who like to work for a factory, get a pension and live forever.  That age has been gone for 15 years or more, but most americans still live in it.  During this time there will be many people entering the information age, maybe for the first time.  People who will make a living online.  And there will be people like me there to help them, there to show them the way, and of course I will make a small profit on the activity.  This actually has been my main source of income for some time now.

So what would I do if I had a million dollars right now.  Well first I would build some online businesses, and make oppertunities for those who want to join the information age to do so with me.  But most of my readers can not do that I would guess.  So what would I do if I was them, and I just wanted to invest.  Well first I would take most of that money and start looking for good real estate.  There is plenty of it around, and there is plenty of it at prices that are lower right now than where the bottom will settle.

Just last week I was presented with a deal on a rental house, it sold for $180k only 3 years ago.  It now sat ready to buy for only $37k, and it could be rented for over $800 per month.  Using simple math that means that in less than 4 years your rental income should pay for the entire house.  That is like getting a stock with a P/E ratio of 3.8.  Sit on this one for 4 years and you get all of your money back, and by then housing prices will be out of the whole and you could sell this house for $120k or so, pure profit.  Do that over and over with half of the money and you could buy over a dozen houses, worth at least 1.5 million total 5 years from now.  Now that you know how to buy them cheap maybe other investors would like in on the deal, and you can let them buy some of the houses from you.  So lets say you buy 10 houses at an average of $40k each (Something that is easy in the phoenix market if you know where to look.) You invest another 5k in to making them nicer, and in getting them rented out to nice tenants.  Then you sell the house, and the future cash flows, you can do this at a rate of 10 times the projected yearly earnings, this is what investors look for.  That would be near $90k or so per house.  Now do this as fast as you can.  Lets say you buy 5 each month and sell 5 of the other houses each month, that would be an income of over $200,000 per month.

I am confident that I could do this already, I have the connections, I have the renters, I have the knowledge, my only problem is that I don’t have the money, because I was distraced with my other businesses, and my investment in them does not let me walk away.    My plan is to work hard in my current business, make $100k or so and then get started buying, filling and then flipping houses to other investors who don’t want all the trouble.  Take all procedes from each sale and buy more houses with it, do this until I am so busy that I can’t sell all the houses, so then start to keep some of them.  Do this until the recession is over then ride the wave of the readjustment back up, it will not be as large but should be good.  Now these rentals are my retirement fund.  Sell one when I need money.

This is a lot of work, and the key to success is partnerships.  This was my plan back a few years ago but things happened that distraced me, a wife and two kids later I was ready to go, but I got stunned by the economy a bit, but now I am over it and ready to go.  Anyone want to join my team and work with me.  Send me an email.

One Simple Change that will rock your world.

I am sure that you have noticed that the media, and what people talk about has really become a bummer recently.  I mean all that I hear is doom and gloom.  It is a fact that the economy is slowing down and things ARE going to be much different in many different areas in the future.  Two main areas will be the availability of credit and the profit margins that companies have.   Many companies simply are too inefficient to stay afloat in this time.  Many companies will close and make all their employees go home, others will cut costs by eliminating employees, both of these factors will result in much higher unemployment.    Bills will go unpaid, people will be evicted, and the masses will feel generally negative.

So what can you do about all of this, for yourself and for your business?  Well the truth is that you must change the way you think about all of this.  Here is the real situation, there has been a shift happening for a while in the way business is done, the way money is made.  Knowledge is the key, creating a better system to do something and then implementing that system is the road to wealth in America now.  It has been so for a long time but the majority still can not see it.  In a time of change, like the one we are going through, there is unprecedented opportunity everywhere.  The larger the crisis the larger the opportunity.  And we are in a huge crisis, it is most likely that the opportunity will never be larger in your lifetime to make serious money, have serious success or to change the world.

So here is the basic change that you need to make.  Every time you hear someone say “Challenge” or “Crisis” or “Recession” or any of the other negative things you hear every day, constantly think “OPPORTUNITY”. Think about how the change has displaced old players and has make openings for you and your business to move forward.  When you hear about how someone can’t get a new car because of the credit mess, think about how money can be made keeping their old car looking like new.  When people talk about going out of business or they are clearing out their inventory to make payroll think about what a good deal you can get, and how you can buy more than you need and then mark it up to others once the sale is over.  (I do this on Laptops, buy at the clearance sales, and sell after the sale is over, or online to those that don’t know about it.)  When a company goes out of business you can look at the strong companies in the same industry and you have just found a good investment.  Best Buy is going to do great in 2009 when Circuit City is gone, that was the thorn in their side and it is gone.  And what about all those people who are out of work?  Well MLM sign-ups are at record levels, everyone is looking for an opportunity to own their own business, and people are putting much more effort into building those business.  Because of this so many new MLM companies have popped up, but many of them are not very good, please read about what makes a good MLM here.  When you see the real estate market just think about the fact that in the long run housing always goes up, and many cities have already started to show signs of recovery.  You can easily find houses that are great deals, get a tenant in there, and have much larger positive cash flow than has been possible for over two decades.  I know people buying houses with 20% down for under $120k and having payments less than $600 a month, then they rent it out for $1,200 a month.  Rental prices have not seen the drop that ownership has had.

So in every area that I can think of there is huge opportunity for the person and company that can see what if going to happen, figure out the correct change to make and implement that change quickly.  During this time you will need to break some ties with your old cash cow that has been paying your bills for the last few years, and focus on what is going to make you money in the future.  Many people will never be able to do this.  I know a very rich and successful guy who has not changed the way he has done business in years, his company has recently had to move out of two of their buildings, fire half the people and make some other huge changes, but they did not change the core of their business, and their business focuses on Luxury Construction supplies in Arizona, and I fear that this is not a market that will come back before this company is out of business.

So look for the opportunity in every crisis, embrace change and reap the rewards.

The SOLUTION to the mortgage mess!

The other day I was watching the nightly local news like I usually do and they said that the city I work in was just given over 6.5 million dollars from the Federal Government that is earmarked to help stop foreclosure in the city.  This is a city of 400,000 and is in Arizona, the state with the third most foreclosures.  I figure the city of Glendale has had a bit under 1000 foreclosures this year.   (Yes we were the city that hosted the Super Bowl this year, if you were wondering.)  The thing that made this meeting pop out to the local media was the fact that the city council had NO idea what to do with the money so they were asking the General public to think of ideas and to go to the council meeting on Nov 25 to present their ideas.

For me this was a challenge.  I have been thinking about this for a long time, now there is a forum where I can actually be heard.  Very cool.  So I have been thinking about it for a week or so now, I will write down in this blog all of my ideas.

The federal government has mostly been focusing on the banks and helping them by buying bad loans or doing other things that really have not worked much so far.  For all this effort they have spent billions and the rate of foreclosure is still going up.  Some banks have stopped putting many clients info foreclosure simply because they can not afford the write downs.  The best hope of stopping it is really focusing on the people who are going into foreclosure.

Foreclosure happens for two main reasons.  The first reason is that a house is too far upside down, and the owner simply makes a business decision and walks away, willing to let the bank take the loss because then he does not have to. Many of the houses that fit into this reason are owned by investors who simply are making a business decision that is hurting all of us. There is little we can do in these cases, for these people it is simply a numbers game.  The best thing we can do is find a way to help this person sell this house through a short sale.  The best buyer may be the tenant that is currently living in the house.  As a city we could help these tenants with their down payment and get the bank to lower the amount of the loan enough so that their new payment will be the same or lower than what they have been paying in rent.

The second main reason for foreclosure is because the payments are more than the home owner can afford, this is either because the payments went up or the income went down.  There has been a lot of focus on loans that have “Adjusted” and spiked to a much higher payment amount, but only about half of foreclosures are this type.  In many cases the home owner has had a change in income from a business failure or job loss and can not afford the payments at this time.  Remember it only takes 90 days of missed payments to be put into foreclosure but it takes much longer to replace a job or a business.

So what is the solution?  It is in everyone’s best interest to avoid the foreclosure process and banks are very willing to work with customers that ask for help.  The best way to help people is to help them take action and to give them the tools to help themselves out of the situation.  I would propose that some of the money would be set aside to create an office where people can come to and help writing a hardship letter to their lender, this office would also give advise.  There would also be a city website where this information could be accessed.  This office could also hold seminars for the public and market these events.  All of this should cost well less than $250k per year to run.  Once a hardship letter is written most banks will apply 3 months of payments to the account and simply move them to the end of the term.  Also many banks are also willing to lower interest rates, reduce payment amounts and even reduce the total outstanding balance.  By writing these letters alone it could stop as much as 50% of the foreclosure in the city.

But then we need to go a step farther, I would propose that once the hardship letter is submitted that the city would help would help these people get a loan.  Most of these home owners are good hard working people and they will find a way out of their situation soon by either starting a new business, getting a job, or solving their problem another way.  By the time people pay late on their house they usually have already paid late on everything else and in our current system that means they can not get a loan to save their house.  Miss a few credit card payments, or a car payment, then get a bit behind on your mortgage the only loan you can get it either a short term payday loan or a credit card for $500 at 24% interest, and both of these help little to stop foreclosure.  The loan that these people need would be a line of credit that is easy to qualify for, has good terms and is long term so that they don’t need to worry much about it until after they have fixed their problems.  In most cases a loan in the amount of 10-15k would be enough to ensure that that household would not go into foreclosure.

Of course the City is not in the business of giving loans to its citizens.  But financial institutions are not willing to give loans to these people who need them the most because of lack of credit or income.  The solution is a guarantee by the city to pay these loans.  I think that the best idea would be to select one financial institution, that already has at least two offices in our city.  I would also go a step further and look for a locally owned institution.  It should also be a credit union because these non-profits give back to the community more than out of state banks do.  You then deposit $5,000,000 of the funds into a CD at the financial institution and make that the guarantee for the loans.  With long term, loans that are fairly easy to pay back the defaults could be quite low, well under 20%, and the financial institution could loan out 15 or even 25 million dollars and still not loose a penny on these loans because the first losses will be taken from the $5,000,000.  The financial institution also stands to gain because they will only have to pay 1-2% interest on the $5,000,000 but will receive 9% interest on the loans.  This interest will allow them to pay for the marketing and administration of the program while making a fair profit.  You should select the financial institution based upon the criteria above but mostly on how much they are willing to lend out to Glendale citizens once this $5 million security is in place. Most any financial institution would be willing to write 20 million or more in loans based on a government guarantee of covering the first 5 million in losses.

So who should qualify for a loan? If we give out loans to the wrong people it will not be as effective.  Well the plan is to stop foreclosure in Glendale so they first would need to be a homeowner of a house located in Glendale.  Next they should actually live in the house, investors should simply do a short sell and give the house to the tenants.  Next they should be people who are at risk of default, people who are at least 60 days past due on their mortgage.  They also should be people who can not afford their payments, people with payments more than 40% of their household income.  Right now there are probably less than 2000 home owners in the city who meet all of these requirements, and if they all received loans for $10,000 it would total only $20 million.  There should be no check of credit history or income sources.  A credit check could be done but only used to establish that they are using a valid SSN and that they live in Glendale.

So what should the rules regarding this loan be? We should create a system that helps people stay in their house so this is what I suggest.  The loan can only be used for making mortgage payments, homeowners insurance payments, property tax payments, and to cover electrical bills and city service bills.  When the loan is originated the homeowner would provide a list of these companies.  Money can only be withdrawn by going to the financial institution and getting a cashiers check directly payable the company, or by using the financial institutions bill pay service.  The loan would be a line of credit with a set limit.  People could choose to pay down the loan at any time and even pay it off.   For the first 3 months there would be no payments required.  After that and for the first 3 years a payment of only 2% (Or $25, whatever is more) would be required.  After that the customer must pay 4% (Or $50 whatever is more) each month until it is paid off.  The homeowner would only be able to withdrawal for the first 2 years under this program.  Using this system all loans that are paid on time will be paid off in under 8 years from the date withdraws stop.  These loans would also have a clause that if the house is sold or refinanced some time in the future these loans would be paid off in full from that sale.  If a payment is made late there will only be a late payment fee equal to 10% of the missed payment amount or $10 whatever is more.  The customer would then have to make up this payment by paying extra on the next two months.  In the case of the first mortgage still going into foreclosure in the future this loan would be paid by the security (The $5,000,000).  If there are any clients who are more than 90 days past due then the minimum payments for these accounts will be paid for by the security until the homeowner starts paying again or until the loan is paid off.   The security would still retain the right to collect funds from any future refinance or sale of the property.  An added benefit for the homeowner would be the reporting of this larger loan on their credit reports, for most of them this could be the largest non mortgage they have and if they pay on time could give them a needed boost.

With such a system it will be easy for the financial institution to manage, easy for the client to get a remedy to their problem and it would be the best use of the governments money to help as many people as possible avoid foreclosure.  After 10 years the program will be over and there is a very good chance that the city will still have much of the $5 million left, allowing other programs to be done at that time.  This system will help between 1,500 and 2,500 household, a number higher than the amount of foreclosures in the past year, putting a stop to most avoidable foreclosures.  This is a total win win situation, the city win, the home owners win and even the financial institutions win with lower foreclosure rates and for our partner institution new customers and income from the loans.  We also must act fast because every day the situation is getting worse and our fix should not be kept on hold.


14 Choices

My Choices and Why.

You have the freedom of choice, you can choose who you do business with, where you shop and what you think and believe.  Every dollar you spend is a vote for the way that company does business, are you rewarding a company for having good prices or good policies.  The choice is yours.  The important part is the WHY, why do you choose to do these things.  It is very interesting to see what people pick and why they pick it.

Please post your what who and why on these following subjects.  If you pick more than one please state them.  Some are very important and some are trivial but will shine insight on how you think.

My Choice of Political Party (If none state why)
My Choice of Operating System
My Choice of Religion
My Choice of Grocery Store
My Choice of General Merchandise Store
My Choice of Vehicle
My Choice of Housing Type
My Choice of Primary Bank
My Choice of Brokerage Account
My Choice of Gas Station
My Choice of ISP
My Choice of TV Service (Bonus Entry)
My Choice of Wireless service
My Choice of Cell phone
My Choice of Drinking Water
My Choice of Browser (Bonus Entry)

If you fill this out and make a post with your answers please post a comment on the blog where this all started, at so that everyone can read it, if you don’t have a blog of your own then put your whole answer as a comment on that blog.  Simply copy and paste the above section to start your blog, then copy the subjects again and answer them.  Also use the tag “14 Choices”.

My Choice of Political Party (If none state why)
Republican.  I generally think that government should be smaller.  I think that the republican party still stands for smaller government.  Democrats stand for more services but more taxes, which is why people who need more services often vote democrat.  In general both parties mostly are the same on most issues.

My Choice of Operating System
I choose Windows Vista.  If you asked me a year ago it was Ubuntu, and before than windows xp.  The reason I use vista is because it is more stable than XP, able to run more things than XP, and simply works better than XP.  The reason I don’t use Ubuntu any longer is because I needed to be compatible with windows to run all the software I need for my business, and the games I like.  Too many things still did not run with Ubuntu, but as an OS for stability, and fun/ease of use Ubuntu was by far the best OS.  If I was making a computer to for office us and the internet I would go with Ubuntu for sure.

My Choice of Religion
I am a Christian. I have been my whole life, I grew up in it.  Mostly I still choose to be because I think it is the right choice for my life.  I think that it is true, and that Jesus actually did die for my sins.  It also gives a good way to live and a great community to be a part of.

My Choice of Grocery Store
This is complex for me, I choose different stores for different reasons.  I like a local store called LeeLee’s for asian food.  I also shop often at Fry’s (Owned by Kroger) for the sales, but the stuff that is not on sale is often too much money.  I also buy some items from walmart but often they are not a good deal on food.  My favorite store recently is Fresh and Easy.  They have great quality and they make home made meals you can just microwave, and if you use the coupons they always give out they really are cheap.

My Choice of General Merchandise Store
Well we find ourselves at Walmart at least 4 times a week.  The main reason is that they are only 200 yards away from our house.  I like target a bit more but they are simply too far, and they have too small of a food section, there is no super target near where I live.  Walmart seems to have at least 80% of the items I am looking for and usually at a good price.  They also usually have a good amount of stuff on clearance, I have noticed that prices change a lot there and there are a lot of things that are usually too much.

My Choice of Vehicle
The Vehicle I drive is a Pontaic Aztek.  It is an odd vehicle.  It is what is called a cross over.   I originally bought it because it had huge cargo space, good gas milage and it was high profile so I could see over all the cars out there.  I also really liked how unique it was and it was very comfortable for me to drive.  It has been, by far, the best vehicle I have ever owned, but it is getting older and I should replace it soon.

My Choice of Housing Type
I live in a nice large house, in the suburb of a Major US city.  I love close enough that I can go downtown is under 15 minutes yet far enough that it is nice and yuppie.  I bought a house larger than I needed so that I could rent rooms out if I wanted, and also have room for a large office and a workshop.  I don’t really care for houses too much because there is no community, no one here talks to each and I have only talked with my neighbors a few times.

My Choice of Primary Bank
My primary bank is really a Credit Union.  They are cheap, no fees and such, and they usually have no line or a very small line.  I also banks with Wells Fargo, US Bank and B of A just to have flexibility but none of them are my main bank.

My Choice of Brokerage Account
I have tried a few out there but I have stuck with eTrade for quite a while.  They have great software that gives you a ton of information.  Some other places out there have been advertising better prices for trade, and also have built great software tools so I may try them.

My Choice of Gas Station
By far I like QT (QuickTrip) the best.  They usually have good gas prices but the reason I like them is that their gas seems to work better in my Aztek.  I get better mileage when I use their fuel vs most other brands. I also really like their drinks, they have a ton of unique and very good drinks, including a Horchata shake, and a Hot Milk drink, both only $1.09 for a very large cup.

My Choice of ISP
Again the choice is clear, I choose Cox, they have the best service, best uptime and best prices.  Internet over Cable is always much better than DSL.

My Choice of TV Service
For this I also use Cox, they have a fairly good Digital Converter with a nice list of HD channels.  I have been looking into Dish Network recently, they have even more HD, and more channels for an even better price, the problem is that I have three other TV’s on analog that may not work, I will find out soon.

My Choice of Wireless service
I use T-mobile. They have far and wide coverage, great customer service and a plan that perfectly fits my lifestyle.  I have a family plan with 4 phones, that has unlimited texting, unlimited nights, unlimited weekends, unlimited in network calling, and each phone can pick their 5 favorites and call for free but the killer feature is that when I am near a hotspot (such as at home) my phone will connect using the Wi-Fi and all those minutes are free.  Because of so many free minutes I am on a plan with only 700 any time minutes, and we have never used more than 400 of them.  I get all of this for only $140 including taxes, and I have sub leased two of my phones for a total of $80 per month so my out of pocket cost is only $60 per month.   Quite nice.

My Choice of Cell phone
I have chosen the Samsung Katalyst, I have been a huge fan of Samsung phones for a few years now, they simply are much easier for me to understand.  I also love the slide feature, and the Wi-Fi compatibility that is a must for my service.  It has a nice crisp 2.1 inch screen, and has a great camera and a great music player with good sound.  Call quality and battery life is also excellent.

My Choice of Drinking Water
I choose Reverse Osmosis Water.  I like the clean taste.  I also like the fact that there is no fluoride in it.  I think fluoride is really a bad thing.  I get it from the local water store down the road and they charge only $1 for a 5 Gallon refill.  They have filters that are larger than my car and the taste is great.  I often fill up bottles with it and take it while I drive.

My Choice of Browser
I have chosen Firefox, it works great, and is much more stable than IE.  It also shows the websites better.  It has a ton of features I can set and generally work well.

Thanks for reading, be sure to post your answers also.

How to get office or retail space on the cheap

In the last decade I have chosen office or retail space for quite a lot of businesses. Much of this is about Arizona but it should mostly ring true for most of the nation.

Of course, if you have the credit the BEST space is one you can buy.  If you have enough cash and credit to buy a building 3-6 times larger than you need and then rent out the rest you are very lucky and this should be done whenever you can.   I know many businesses that decided to buy and they rent out the rest of the building for more than their entire mortgage.  Remember, the same is true in commercial as in residential, when you rent your cost will always go up but when you own you lock in your mortgage payment at the start, and you are paying it back later and at the same monthly rate for the term of the loan. (Usually)  I also know a few business that, after 10 years or so, hit a bump in the road and were able to take out some of the equity in their building to keep their business going.  Lack of access to credit is a quick way for a growing business to fail, or for an entire economy to falter.

Now if you must rent you still have many options.  You are the one picking the building so you get to pick your neighbors.  Spend a day talking to them before you lease, ask them how the foot traffic is, ask them about the amount and types of customers they have.  See if they sell products that will attract customers that may buy your products.  Back in 2001 I located a computer store next door to a cad software and training company, during the first few years we received many of our customers from them simply because they needed a computer to run their cad things.  In 2006 that company moved away.

You also get to pick your landlord.  I have found time and again that you really want a local landlord, the smaller the landlord the more they need you and also the more willing they will be to break the rules when and if you need it.  Also they are much more likely to be helpful if you get behind because they need you.  If you are dealing with a property management company with distant owners they don’t care if you live or die really, the property management gets paid both ways.

You also get to set the terms of the agreement.  Many landlords like to hide tons of little details in their contracts.  One even tried to tell me what hours I needed to have a store open.  Another told me where we could park.  Before you sign the contract you can negotiate on anything you like, and most of these clauses are easily removed.  But one thing that has saved me tons of money is agreeing to take units as is in exchange for many months of free rent.  Many landlords will pay people to fix up the space but if you are willing to take it as is you will get exactly what you want and you can save thousands of dollars.  In one example we got into a location in 2004 and received 4 months of free rent in exchange for taking the unit as is.  All we needed to do was paint, put in new carpet and run our networking cables, which would we have had to have done no matter what.  We got the carpet 24 months no interest, we had some of our employees paint the unit and our total immediate out of pocket cost was less than 1 month of rent.  We now had 3 months for free, leaving us money to get some nice furniture and such.  Another term we always have looked at is about competition.  We don’t want someone to open up who is going to take away our customers so we make a long list of things we do and put in the contract that no one else who does these things can move in. Another clause that we put in that is helpful is the first right of refusal.  Basically this states that if the units adjacent to yours are empty and someone is looking at renting it that the landlord must call you and tell you that someone new is getting ready to move in, you then have 48 hours to decide if you want it or not.  This is very important if you ever plan to expand without moving.  If you foot traffic mostly comes from an anchor store you should also put in a clause saying that if the anchor store goes out of business you will receive rent at half price, and after three months you have the option to dissolve your lease at any time in case you want to move out.  We used this clause once in 2006, and it saved us a ton of money when the albersons wanted to leave, we got out of the lease 2 years early.

Getting a buyers agent is a great idea, the landlord is going to pay for one no matter what so don’t just call his agent, get one of your own who will work for you and have them talk to the landlord.  They will fight harder and you will end up with a much better deal in the end.

Once you have the unit there are a ton more ways to save money, more on that in another blog.

The Mortgage Crisis in Plain English

Hello, my name is Jason Dragon.  You may be a long time reader of my blog, or like many people you may have found this simply by doing a search, if that is the case then welcome.  I plan for this blog entry to be one of the largest in scope of any entry that I have every done.  We are going to talk about the current Mortgage Crisis.  I will talk about it in 4 areas.

  1. The Boom
  2. The Bust
  3. The Current Situation
  4. The Way Forward

If you are wondering, I do have a degree in Business and I spent a lot of time studying economics. For a short time I even sold mortgages.  I will try to keep the text as simple as I can, I want you to not get bored and to read the entire things. Some of this will be my educated opinion, but most is simply fact.

The Boom

At the start of 2000 there was a bust in the stock market, millions of people pulled out a total of billions of dollars.  When 9/11 came they did so even more.  All of these people needed a place to put the money and the new trend was to put it into Real Estate, housing prices started to rise.  By 2003 and 2004 many real estate gurus arrived on the scene, showing common people how to make money in real estate.  It was a great time.  Prices were going up each month.

To add to this information, for the first time, was easy to get and compile.  It was easy to find a good deal on a house online, you could even find out the estimated value of your house or any other by going to sites like Zillow.  It was also easy to get a loan.  Because home values were expected to keep going up you could get a house for $150,000 and get 100% funding because by the time you get close to closing it was already worth $175,000.

The housing market was a great investment, it is one of the only investments that you can get almost total leverage in. Figure this, you buy a house for $150,000.  You only put $10,000 as your down payment, you get a tenant in the house and they pay for all the expenses giving you a zero cash flow but no expenses.  Now you sit, wait a year in this market and the price of the house goes up by 10%, BUT your return was not 10%, because the price goes up on the whole value of the home, not just your down payment.  You now have $25,000 equity in the house, a return of 150%.  This is the reason that investors flocked to houses, huge returns.

For many people, the more passive kind who usually invest in bonds and such this was way too risky for them, so they decided they would simply buy mortgage backed securities.  100’s of billions of dollars flew into these.  What these were was baskets of mortgages, and you could buy shares in this basket just like a stock, they had sold and predictable returns.  If you were used to getting 2% on your money in a CD or government bond, now you could get 5% on your money by buying one of these.  It was great for pension funds and foreign banks to sock away money because it had a higher yield and was still considered very safe.

The reason it was considered so safe was because of the very low default rate in mortgages caused by a booming housing market. Most people would simply sell their house for a nice profit before they went into foreclosure.  The investment banks reduced the risk even more by bunching 1000’s of mortgages together.  They would then break them up into different levels.  If there were any defaults the investors at the lowest level would be wiped out first, and the investors at the highest levels would still receive their full returns even if 20% of the mortgages defaulted.  It was a great system.  The investment banks bought up over a 100’s of billions of dollars worth of mortgages using this process, and they charges a hefty fee for all of it, making them some of the most profitable companies in the world.

For almost 70 years there was been a set of two companies, founded by the US government to facilitate the flow and resell of mortgages, these are Freddie Mac and Fanny Mae.  Basically these were huge companies that would buy mortgages from banks.  If a bank could not resell the mortgages they would need to get deposits to cover all the mortgages that they wrote and that would be nearly imposable.  About 92% of all mortgages are resold.  Freddie and Fanny purchased over half of them.  They would buy them from the bank, the price was set by the value of the house, Credit of the home owner, zip code of the house and a few other factors.

This created a great system for the banks.  They would sit there and advertise that they can get you a great deal on a mortgage, they would help you with all the paperwork, they would send your information to underwriting, where they would basically see what was needed to make your loan sell for the highest price to Freddie/Fanny.  They had some rules such as the first mortgage could only be 80% of the value of the house, or else the homeowner would need to buy PMI (Private Mortgage Insurance).  The bank would then take your entire mortgage packet and find out how much they could get.  On a $200,000 loan at 6% there is someone making $12,000 in interest every year.   The buyer of the mortgage would pay a premium for the loan, but they wanted to make sure they would get their money back.  So what the banks did was to get the home owner to sign a pre-payment penalty clause.  Basically this was a clause saying that the bank would get 2 years worth of interest from the customer, that the customer would still have to pay 2 years of interest even if they sold or refinance the house before 2 years was up.  So on that $200,000 mortgage at 6% interest the holder of the mortgage was guaranteed $24,000 in interest payments.  Because this $200,000 mortgage was really worth $224,000 for the first 2 years they would offer to buy it for $215,000 from the bank.  The bank where you got your mortgage made $15,000, paying some of that out as a commission to your mortgage broker.  They also usually would agree to service the loan, meaning they would send out statements and collect the money on behalf of those who owned the mortgage.  If a loan had a longer pre-payment penalty the bank would get more money, if they sold it for a higher interest rate they would also get more money.  The more income they could show for the client the more they would sell the loan for.  The interest of the bank and mortgage broker was to get as much from the client as they could so that the resell value would be as high as possible.  A few banks even started to lie about some of the details to drive up the price.

Mortgages were sold almost instantly.  This allowed banks to generate mortgages as fast as they could.  It was a great deal, get someone to come in and fill out some paperwork, show that paperwork to the mortgage buyer, get the buyer to agree to fund the deal and then you close on the whole deal and walk away with huge profits.  Do this a few times a day and a little office with a handful of people can make millions per year.  And that is exactly what happened. The banks had every incentive to get you into a mortgage, and they would do whatever was needed to do so.  It was easy to get a loan, even if you had no money to put into the deal, they simply would do a 20% second mortgages, or even if you really had no income, you could just do a stated income loan.  People were buying houses who could not pay for them.  Their main plan to pay as little as they could each month, and refinance when that 2 years was up and they would have a ton of money due to the value of the house going up.  It was a great system that worked for millions of people.

All of this easy money was causing housing prices to sky rocket.   I live in Phoenix Arizona and between 2003 and 2006 prices for most of the city doubled, people were bidding against each other in attempts to get houses, simply because the house was a good investment.

Where was this money coming from?  Well as I said much of it came from people who got out of the stock market, and needed a new place to keep their money, a large chunk came from foreign companies.  Remember we are buying at least 700 billion dollars more of stuff each year than we export.  So many nations, China, India, Saudi Arabia have billions of dollars that they need to invest somewhere.  They want us to keep buying to they make it easy for Americans to buy things on credit, then we buy more and they sell more.  It is a great spiral that put America in huge debt while at the same time sending millions of jobs all over the world.  The is the greatest transfer of wealth in the history of the world, but more on this in another blog.

The Bust

In mid to late 2006 the prices started to get very high, and there were signs of problems.  Some of these no money down investors who bought on stated income loans started to not pay their mortgages and the prices were not going up fast enough to still leave the buyer of the loan with a profit.  The buyers of these loans started to change their guidelines on who they would give money to, they started to make it harder.  This was a sign to many investors to start to sell, and the number of houses for sale started to go up.

Some of the hottest housing markets were Southern Ca, Phoenix Az, Vegas Nv , Atlanta Ga, and Miami, Fl.  These markets saw some of the largest gains, they were all nice warm places to live and people have been moving here for decades.  But they also had something else in common, they were all major places where Illegal immigrants would flock.  In late 2006 and early 2007 there was a huge national debate about Illegal Immigration,  and many of those here illegally owned houses but decided to simply leave, they dumped their houses, many others just borrowed as much as they could and walked away.  And the prices in these markets started to fall.

Once prices started to fall it changed all the numbers for the banks and the buyers of the mortgages.  If you get that same loan for $200,000 the buyers have more risk now, they don’t have a security of the house itself because the value will likely be less than $200,000 if the customer defaults.  So they said that they would only take the best and most qualified borrowers.  No more stated income loans, no more loans to people with sub-prime credit.  Suddenly most Americans could not qualify to buy a house.   All of these people were pushed out of the market, demand for houses plummeted, and when demand goes down price is soon to follow.

To make matters worse some of the Sub-Prime loans started to default.  Many were from investors who were upside down on the loan, they borrowed in a corporate name so there was no ill effects to them to simply walk away and give the house to the bank.  So thousands of them did just that, it was smart for them to do so.  The people who used the system the most were mostly the smartest and best at it, and when things started to go down they were the first to get out.

Most of these banks only put a 1-3% budget in for losses and some are getting much higher losses than that.  These foreclosed houses had to be sold so the banks simply dumped them on the market.  But banks are not in the business of selling houses, and they do a very poor job of selling houses.  They are risk adverse so they only want buyers who they feel will actually close the deal.  For the most part they sell the house as-is.  They do nothing to make the house look good and nothing to try to sell it.  For most buyers, buying a REO (Real Estate Owned)(Bank Owned) house is not appealing.  People with good credit who can buy a nice house want that house to be ready, and come with a warranty.  So these houses sat on the market for a while and the only choice for the banks was to keep slashing prices.  This was the main cause for housing prices to plummet.  This caused even more people to realize that they are upside down on their house and more of them simply walked away.  From the middle of 2007 until now this process has been happening, and it keeps getting worse.

These banks then saw their stock start to melt down.  Imagine a company that has 250 billion in mortgages but they owe 200 billion in debt on those mortgages, lets call them Mega Bank.  It was great for them in the boom time, they borrow money at 3% and loan it out at 7%, making 4% on 200 billion dollars, or 8 billion per year.  They had every inventive to do this as much as they could.  This company would have a value of 50 billion dollars or so in book value, the stock market almost always prices your stock well above book value so the Market Cap (The total value of all stock of the company) may be 100 billion or so.  With earnings of 10 billion or so it would be at a Price to Earnings ratio of 10, something that wall street loves to buy.   This company would be a star.  Now what happens if there is a ton of risk in the mortgages that the company owns, the company figures out that 5% of their loans are defaulting, but for one loan that is a total loss it wipes out the profits from 10 other loans.  So their accountants do figure out on average how much are all of the loans that they company owns worth.  If that number is lower than what they currently value the loans at they restate the value of these loans and do a write down of these impaired assets.  If you have 250 billion of loans on the books your accountants may feel that they are only worth 200 billion.  50 billions dollars, on paper, just disappeared.  Some companies bought insurance for such a thing to happen, the largest company that sold such insurance was AIG, they have as much as 300 billion dollars of insurance losses out there that may be paid.   So if you are Mega Bank the value of your company just went down by 50 billion dollars, but in reality all the rest of your assets you owe so your stock crashes, your market cap is no longer 100 billion but maybe more like 10 billion, or even 1 billion.  Investors on the stock market don’t know what to do, all they know is that they can’t value your stock.

The Current Situation

At the start of 2008 there were 5 major investment banks in the US, and three banks acting as mortgage clearing houses.  These were the banks that were selling mortgages to investors.  The investment banks took most of their profits by keeping some of the most high risk and high profit mortgages for themselves.   4 of the 5 investment banks saw huge losses, and all three mortgage clearing houses saw major losses.  1 of them went out of business, Indy Mac, they simply took so many losses that they could not pay depositors any longer.  Freddie Mac and Fanny Mae lost almost all of their stock value and had to be propped up by the government to stay alive.

Of the 5 investment banks Bear Sterns was the first to fall, they went from a 100 billion dollar company one week to being bought out by JP Morgan Chase for only 1.1billion the next.  The next to fall was Lehman Brothers.  They lost billions in sub-prime mortgages.  Their book value was negative.  They has a lot of really good assets though and tried to sell to a bank in Korea, but it did not work and in September of 2008 their stock went almost to zero.  They declared bankruptcy On Sept 13th, and are being sold in pieces to different companies, stock holders will probably get nothing.  On the same day the third Investment, Merrill Lynch was purchased by Bank of America for $50 billion.  Bank of America stock fell 15% that day because investors thought that they had over paid.   That only left two Investment banks,  Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley.  On September 22nd 2008 these two bank, under new government requirements converted to traditional banks.

None of this was helped by the hedge funds, these are basically large pools of money that often bet that something will fail.  These hedge funds helped drive the price down of many of the companies I wrote about today.  But many hedge funds also lost money on the mess.

The government has decided that for the most part they are going to bail out many of these companies, they are also considering a new govenment agency that will, for a short while, buy up this bad debt for pennies of the dollar, allowing the banks to write off these losses and move on.

During this whole time it has gotten harder and harder to get a loan, basically unless you put 30% down, have perfect credit and tons of income you are not getting a loan.  The government put in a program to help some home buyers which helped out a bit.

Even with all of this going on our economy is still fairly sound.  Employment levels have only gone down a bit, and many other parts of our economy are still stable.

The Way Forward

I have always been a free market guy, I think that the system works best when there is freedom to be successful and freedom to fail.  The government is really taking the failure and greed of these companies and helping them out.  They are doing this to save the normal people and the economy as a whole and to fix our broken mortgage system.  The government, and our President have seen how large this problem is and that they only way to fix it is a huge government bail out, and I AGREE with them.  The bail out will put stability into the system, it will prop up all the banks, and it will resolve the credit crisis allowing money to start flowing again.  They are looking at up to 1.5 TRILLION dollars in loans, and buy outs.

I think that we need to do this, if we don’t our economy is sunk, but this is NOT a progam that I think will cost the taxpayer any money, in fact I think it will make our government the highest profits that we have ever made.  Think of it this way, they are not just giving money away, they are going to be buying mortgages at the low of the market, the current talk is to buy them for 50-60 cents on the dollar.  If they do that they will set a low in the market, these mortgages are still backed by the actual real estate and the economy will turn around.  So one of three things will happen to each of these mortgages.  They will either get forclosed on and the government will sell off the house, most houses are still valued at over 60% of the value of the mortgage so they will still make a bit of money.  Option two is that later on they may sell back the mortgage for a profit, maybe 70-80 cents on the dollar.  The last thing that will happen to some of these loans is that the home owner may sell or refinance the house, and the government will get 100% of the value of the house, basically doubling their money.  I think that if the government does this that they will make at least a 20% profit on the money.  They are talking about buying 700 billion in mortgages, making them about $150 billion.

For AIG they are giving them a 2 year loan for $75 billion.  In the termns of the loan the government gets a 11.25% return each year AND they get stock options where they can buy 80% of the company at a very low price.  The company was worth over $200 billion last year.  If it goes back up to even 100 billion the government will make almost 80 billion from their stock options, and still make about $17 billion from the interest on the loan.  This bail out could make the government almost 100 billion dollars.  The owners of AIG see how much they will loose if the Government loans them the money so they are still looking for other lenders to help them out.

Almost everything that they are doing is set up in such a way, this whole bail out system as a whole, will probably cost out government nothing and make us at least half a TRILLION dollars in the next 2-3 years.  This could wipe out our deficit and radically change our government balance sheet.   It is not enought to totally wipe out our deficit but it will reduce it a lot.  If the economy really picks up so will taxes and the government has a good chance of being in the positive.  Of course this positive change will not happen until 2009 and if a democrat wins as president will probably say that it was them that made this change and that they are the reason that the government is suddenly so profitable, but we know the truth.

On a side note the President does very little to effect the economy.  Most of what is done is done by congress or the treasury department.  Also anything that the president does do takes 2-3 years before it really goes into effect.  Such as the losses in 2000 were not caused by Bush, he just took office.  All I know is that I would never vote for someone who thinks that raising taxes in a time like this is a good idea.

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