One of the most frequently asked questions I get from property investors is whether they should tell their friends and family about property investing?
My answer: It depends…
Let me use my personal situation as an example.
We bought our first home in 1995 with a typical home owner’s thinking, so our property selection was based mainly on whether we liked the home, it was within our budget and had easy public transportation to the city.
The investment aspect of the property was not part of the consideration. I remember we looked at over 200 properties in a period of 3-4 months, then ended up building a new home from scratch. That property only took 10 years to double in value.
In my first year of the mortgage business, about 6 years after we bought our first home, one of my clients came to refinance his house which was purchased at a similar price in the same year when we bought ours.
His property was in one of the streets we looked at, but didn’t buy due to personal preference. My wife and I were shocked to see that this client’s property took only 5 years to double in value.
It took twice the time for ours to do the same!
Knowing what I know today, after quite some study in property and finance, I would have picked a much better first home…which is usually most people’s biggest investment. I wish more people would think of their home as not only a place to live in, but also an investment they can enjoy the financial benefit of in the future.
In 2000, I started our family’s wealth creation journey in the shares and options market just like most people, not knowing anything about the power of property leverage to create wealth. After 12 months and $100k in trading courses and seminars later, I had lost more than $10k in the market, just like majority of the beginners.
During this time I was catching up with a good friend. They inadvertently talked about how they had bought quite a few residential properties in the last few years. Moreover they had done this with almost no money because they used their home equity to leverage into other properties.
They also told me how much money they had made so far and how much tax they had put back into helping their investments. We had been friends for 15 years and they had been investing and using finance to build their wealth for about 4 years and never told us about it. We were on a similar income (tax bracket) and had a similar equity position at the time they started investing in property.
I hate to admit that when my wife and I heard their success story, we felt that they should have at least told us about it a few years ago when they started looking into this. We had just missed the strongest growth period Australia has seen, a few years of valuable time, and we were so far behind them.
It’s not fair! How could they do this to us? I thought we were best friends! We told them all the good stuff we knew, and they hid this secret from us!
Obviously we have long since taken responsibility for our own situation, let go of blaming them for our financial problems and have made up our lost ground. Knowing that we started late is a strong motivator to work harder to catch up!
Today after speaking to so many property investors who are hesitant to tell their friends and family about what they do in property investing, I now understand that there are quite a few reasons why investors don’t want to tell their friends and family about what they do, here are a few:
- Personal finances are a very private matter, it’s very hard to bring it up during social occasions;
- People don’t feel like telling other people what to do, especially what to do with their money, as this can be seen as intrusive;
- Many investors want to prove themselves first before telling others what to do;
- Many people get the cold shoulder from family and friends when they talk about getting wealthy, so they’d rather not talk about it at all;
- Money is a shameful subject to discuss among friends and family.
All of the above are good reasons for investors not to talk about property investing and spread the word amongst friends and family, even when they have done very well in property themselves. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that.
I guess some of the above could be why my friends didn’t tell us about property investing when they first started. On the other hand, even if they had told us about it, we probably wouldn’t have listened to them if we were not ready. But at least we would remember that they did tell us at the time…and we didn’t listen.
Learning from that experience I realized that people are ready when they are ready and you can’t force the issue. So over the last few years, I have made sure that I have conveyed the message to all of my friends and family in a subtle way.
What I usually do is give books, DVDs, CDs and forward interesting emails and information to friends and family, and simply say ‘check this out’ without making them sound like a ‘must’ or how ‘brilliant’ it is, etc. Basically all I want to do is to let them know that there is another option in life, as people don’t know what they don’t know.
Regardless of how passionate I am about property investing and how fantastic I think it is compared to all other types of investment, that’s just my opinion; it should be up to the other person to decide whether it is suitable for them and when they will be ready for it.
In such a way, I am just a messenger with no expectation for a specific return from my friends and family, knowing that I will feel good about myself for doing the right thing (pretty good return!).
Hence I hold no disappointment if my friends and family do nothing about my message. When you feel good, you can do it again and again, your message will get spread around further, and someone will eventually hear you.
Bill Zheng is founder of Investors Direct Financial Group, a leading property finance company providing financial solutions for property investors and developers. Bill is a keynote speaker at many property and finance conferences throughout Australia. www.investorsdirect.com.au
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