By Fuquan Bilal
As the nation comes to grips with the next tax plan, new solutions for minimizing the hit are being floated. Like, should property taxes actually be considered a fully deductible contribution to charity?
Several New Jersey towns are in favor of making things easier for residents, by allowing them to make charitable contributions instead of annual property tax payments. Under the new tax rules, only $10,000 in local, state, and property taxes (combined) are deductible on federal income tax returns. Charitable contributions have no limit. According to the New York Times, if local taxing authorities set up charitable trusts, homeowners could make annual contributions of equivalent amounts, allowing them to retain their full deduction on itemized returns.
This makes a lot of sense in other ways too. The truth is that in many ways property taxes are a form of charity. This money is used for public community programs, many of which may not be used by those that pay the taxes. Revenues can be used to help combat homelessness, build affordable housing, and provide education and health care. Plus, most people would rather help a charity than ‘pay taxes’. Who knows, it may even inadvertently create more accountability among those administering the funds.
Other states are looking for solutions in completely switching types of taxes; for example, going from relying on property taxes to payroll taxes. There could even be potential for some to finally follow the lead of other forward thinking countries and ditch annual property taxes altogether.
Individuals, and especially real estate investors can find many other ways to reduce their tax exposure this year too. That can include renovating distressed properties as affordable housing and negotiating multi-year tax breaks, and using the new pass-through provision that eliminates 20% of income for taxes for small businesses, entrepreneurs, and sole proprietorships.
Self-directed IRAs and 401ks, and 1031 exchanges all still offer investors tax deferring or tax free benefits and gains on real estate investments.
Others who don’t want to deal with the property tax debate can choose to invest in mortgage notes or funds, and simply let homeowners and borrowers deal with paying property taxes and maintenance.
Ultimately, smart homeowners and investors still have many tax saving tools at their disposal. It will also be interesting to see how local taxing authorities handle it. It may take some time to work out details, but in the end this could be a very good thing for property owners and investors.
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Thank you for being a part of our publication, we appreciate your time and connection as we close out the year 2017. Looking back at the past 12 months, I cannot but also reminisce about the past 10 years of business in leading Realty411.
When I started this publication in 2007, I sincerely wanted to share as much information about investing as possible. At the time, my family and I owned dozens of rentals across the country already, and I had personally realized the power that real estate can have, especially as a vehicle for building long-term wealth.
This is why our publications have always been free online and continue to be – this in itself is a miracle to sustain, trust me! Plus, we don’t charge for our educational, informative and jam-packed events, even though we provide breakfast and lunch!
This year, Realty411 hosted 27 events in 9 states, as we look toward 2018, we know our growth will only explode further. Realty411’s rise will be propelled by the hundreds of thousands of dollars we will be infusing into our company this coming year.
You see, we are taking it to a WHOLE NEW LEVEL by investing in our business like never before. We have national media campaigns running, our original TV pilot PROPERTY PITCH is being filmed in a few weeks, plus we will begin offering our monthly digital magazine in print as well.
Additionally, we are adding new events in new cities to our calendar, so bookmark this website, plus Realty411Expo.com for up-to-the-minute updates.
Oftentimes people come up to me at our expos and ask me point blank: “How are you able to do all this?” What they want to know is how am I able to host free events and feed guests and provide complimentary magazines. Well, it’s because we really do own real estate investments, several businesses, and invest in stocks and FOREX, so that we are able to pursue our goals and passions.
But it wasn’t always like this. Many of you who know me on a personal level, know that I grew up under impoverished circumstances. When my parents lost our home, due to a failing business, it devastated me. I think the trauma still affects me to this day, and it’s the reason I am a self-described workaholic.
I was 15, and already working to buy my own clothes so I could keep up with my friends, when we became homeless. Oftentimes, I pondered why all of my friends’ parents had money and we didn’t. What did we do not to deserve to have prosperity and security? It was an ongoing internal dilemma. Having to witness my parents squabble over money and endlessly struggle, made me depressed. I felt scared and powerless, it was horrible. I vowed, in my teens, never to feel that way ever again!
It was a difficult struggle to get to that point to where I am now. For years I worked as a waitress in a restaurant while I paid for my own college education; I have a bachelor’s degree in journalism. After rent, tuition, books, food, my car payment…. there simply wasn’t anything left. I learned to be frugal and make every dollar count.
I ended up marrying my boss’s cousin and soon began to learn about real estate from several members of his family. I came to find out they had made their fortune in real estate, as well as by owning several businesses. So I signed up for a real estate course at Santa Monica College and stumbled upon what I thought was a good investment — It was a fixer-upper home that nobody else seemed to want, but it was in a great neighborhood. I put the word out, and some of our family members lent us $50,000 for a down-payment, which helped us get into the property with zero down. We paid them monthly interest on the loan and refinanced them out of the property after five years. By then the home had doubled in value!
That kindness and generosity from family members made all the difference in our lives, and it is in this spirit that we publish our magazines and produce our events. Our extended family still owns numerous successful businesses in Southern and Central California.
When our first property tripled seven years after our initial purchase, we wanted to buy our first rental. We took a risk, refinanced money out again, and purchased our first multifamily property, which we still own today.
As they say in real estate: Rinse and repeat! We used leverage and equity to strategically build our national portfolio, and YOU CAN TOO!
Fast forward many years later, and by now, I’ve seen a huge change in our lives, thanks to our entire family’s continued interest and passion for investing: We’ve owned properties in five states, we have been mortgage-free since I was 39, and now we have the cash flow necessary to allow us the FREEDOM to do what we want…
Everything we do is complimentary because we want to make sure we impact the lives of as many people as possible. We honestly feel so grateful to be in a position to GIVE BACK knowledge, information, and to be able to motivate others. We know how important the right MINDSET is for success.
Touching upon being of right mindset, I would like to share the downside of this business. Although publishing is extremely rewarding, especially when I personally see our readers, subscribers and fans. Trust me when I share this: My family and I have given up a lot to for me to do this business!
We’ve given up our privacy and tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees due to the abusive behavior I’ve had to endure from numerous older men in the industry for the past 10 years, such as stalking, gawking, and aggressive behavior at other industry events. This bullying behavior started in 2008, all in an effort to intimidate me out of the business.
In years past, a former colleague would show up uninvited to our events in his area, forcing me to hire security in that city. At one conference a few years ago, someone threw an object at the back of head while I was speaking with a potential client. My family and I have had to retain an attorney for many years to protect my rights and for legal advice.
Having to endure repeated and harassing phone calls, texts and email messages, defamation and slander, and outright business bullying, has been the worst part of this journey. It’s kept me awake at night, made me break down due to severe stress… plus cost us tens of thousands of dollars.
Last year, I received a message on LinkedIn from a staff member at a competing magazine stating that, “the gloves” were going to come “off”. When I questioned the CEO about it, he did not give me any straight answers as to why such a distressing message was sent to me.
My family certainly did not appreciate that, especially after that same CEO sent his son to be an “apprentice” at my husband’s business for four months, prior to starting a competing magazine against us. In hindsight, I now believe this was orchestrated to collect information about me and my family, which is wrong on so many levels. As is choosing a brand title for a magazine that is so similar to the one I had spent many years building. I also have evidence that numerous competing companies have attempted to infiltrate our events around the country. I have to constantly be on the defense. Wow, I cannot even conceive of how low one must have to stoop to actually hire people to crash a competitor’s event to collect information.
I like to maintain a level of privacy and don’t want to seem weak or like I’m yearning for attention or sympathy. However, I’m writing this because I would like to inspire others who may be facing business bullying. And, I plan to continue to be vocal about business bullying. I am sure this transparency will help others, especially women in our industry.
I have not wavered from my mission for the past 10 years of sincerely wanting to help educate, inform, motivate and inspire new and existing investors, just like we were helped years ago. Although we have LOST TENS OF THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS defending my right to be in business! I’d like to now ask for a small favor: If you can simply share the word about our magazines and events, it would really make a valuable difference for REALTY411.
Your referral and support may well help us stay in business for generations to come! This legacy belongs not to me, but to my daughter, and my future grandchildren. As mentioned in the beginning of this post, we are investing heavily like never before, so PLEASE help us by spreading the word about our complimentary resources.
Thank you, and see you in person in 2018!!!
805.693.1497 – OFFICE
PS: We are reaching thousands of people with our newly-updated websites!!!
Explore them at your leisure and don’t’ forget to spread the word.
By Stephanie B. Mojica
The hit reality show “Flip or Flop” has not only changed Tarek El Moussa’s life, it literally saved it. “2013 was a life-changing year,” El Moussa said.
He and his wife Christina are prolific real estate “flippers” and host a related reality show on HGTV. One of his viewers — a registered nurse — noticed a lump on El Moussa’s neck, which turned out to be thyroid cancer. Fortunately, it did not spread beyond his neck and he considers himself to be well on the road to recovery.
“The worst part was the radioactive iodine treatment where I was confined away from my family,” El Moussa said. “Today I feel better, my energy is lower, but I won’t let that slow me down. I will keep chasing my dreams.”
At age 32, El Moussa never expected to host a popular television show and battle cancer. It’s a drastically different lifestyle from seven years ago when their brokerage business dried up as a result of the market shakeup, forcing them to reinvent themselves. In 2010, they took a huge gamble and started flipping homes. “We went from selling to flipping,” he recalled. At first, the couple was forced to significantly downscale their lifestyle, trading in a $6,000 a month mortgage for a $700 a month apartment. “Being on TV is the last thing we ever imagined doing in our lives,” he said. “I always tried new ways to grow our business and one night I said, ‘Honey, I am going to get us a TV show,’ kind of as a joke. She laughed and told me to go to bed. I looked online and randomly found a casting and here we are three and a half years later. It was the biggest long shot in history and somehow it worked out.”
Those brief but still vivid days of scrimping and saving are over, as the El Moussa family has moved into a luxurious Orange County home due to their business of flipping houses along with their television show.
The best thing that has come from this experience is our family creating something that years from now we can go back and watch. It is so exciting to watch our baby girl on TV and see how much she grows and changes throughout the season. Basically, it is watching our family and business grow and develop, and we are able to go back and watch the progression. It is also amazing to spend so much time with my wonderful wife.’
El Moussa wants newcomers to the art of flipping houses to understand what exactly they are getting into before they start purchasing properties in hopes of making a hefty profit.
“It is not as easy as it looks. Learn and study a lot of real estate before jumping in,” he said. “You make your money when you buy, not when you sell.”
The biggest piece of advice El Moussa offers to people at all levels of real estate investment is to never give up. “The truth is everyone will fail and fail and fail until it happens and you get that win,” he said. “Once you get that one win, you can do it over and over again.”
With or without the television cameras rolling, flipping houses is sort of like a legal “high” for El Moussa. “I enjoy the chase of the properties, the rush you get when you find them, the design and transformation, and the profit at the end,” he said. “There are many stressful steps in between with a lot of gambling but this is the best way I can simplify it. I study real estate and pricing all day every day and in order to become successful at flipping you must commit to learning every aspect of the business and understand failure is the path to success.”
There’s a saying that behind every successful man there’s a strong woman, and that definitely applies to El Moussa’s life. “We are pretty much together 24/7,” Christina El Moussa said. “We have been together for over 7 years and we are still best friends. He keeps me on my toes and there is never a dull moment with him. It is fun and rewarding to start a business and a TV show together and watch it grow. We both have a lot at stake and we provide a strong support system for each other. Plus, we both know our own strengths and weaknesses and they play well together.”