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Be the Intel Inside of Real Estate

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By Greg Rand

I’m not talking about a computer chip. “Intel” in this case means market intelligence; a higher degree of product knowledge, competence and resourcefulness when servicing the asset class of American housing.

Today’s consumer is thirsting for a better understanding of Main Street. Our industry has made some serious progress in providing the raw tools needed to understand the asset class, but without naming names, the providers of those tools fall into one of two categories:

The first group is creating noise. Housing databases have gotten so complete in the past few years, and integration with other databases has provided the basis for an incredible leap forward in our understanding of housing as an investment. There are now tons of great data, scores of charts and not much guidance on what they mean. The emphasis has been placed on economic indicators, which are rear-facing and cold. A great starting point, but not intelligence.

The second group is drawing conclusions. They’ve developed algorithms that purport to tell you, “This is a great investment property.” Their systems are designed to comb through the vast data sets and bring back recommendations to investors and home buyers. But how do you make a recommendation like that without even knowing the client’s goals and situation? It’s like walking into an investment advisor’s office and hearing, “Hi, I’m Greg, and do I have a great investment for you!” before he asks your name, age, number of kids and dreams.

Our industry needs to understand the investment value of residential real estate, and so does our customer. How powerful would it be to truly grasp how a house creates wealth? What are all the moving parts and how do they work together so harmoniously for so many people?

Yes. I said it. Owning houses works for most people.

I understand why the conversation has been dominated in recent years by cases where real estate ownership was done wrong and led to disastrous results, but that is still the minority of instances in the aggregate. Notwithstanding a proliferation of underwater mortgages and foreclosures, owners of residential real estate have, on the whole, enjoyed more financial success than in any other asset class on the planet. But do they (and we) understand how it happened?

Intuitively, we all get it. Buy a home you like in a place you like. Live in it or rent it out for a long time. Pay the mortgage off and live mortgage free or on rental income later in life. Pass the wealth on to your kids.

Just writing this down makes my head spin. Do you realize what we have here? The greatest wealth-creation device known to mankind! Let’s decide to learn and teach how and why it works.

Go to OwnAmerica.com/Investor and check out the “Case Study Calculator.” This is a device created to enable all of us to plug in our real estate assumptions and see how they play out over 30 years in terms of building equity, cash flow and return on investment (aka wealth). It’s like a video game for real estate junkies. It’s free. Try it out, have fun and let us know what you learned.

Greg Rand is CEO of OwnAmerica.com.

For more information, visit www.ownamerica.com.

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