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I employed a simple technique in acquiring them. I selected areas where the existing homes were mostly encumbered with assumable Federal Housing Authority (FHA) and Veterans’ Administration (VA) loans, where I merely paid the seller the difference between my purchase price and the unpaid principal balance of their loan. In the early years my wife and I picked up houses – all in California – for as little as three or four thousand dollars each. By the early 1980s we owned 19 rental houses, and thanks to much maligned inflation, our equity value in the properties proved to be well in excess of the cash amounts we expended in their purchase.
Though we spent considerable time and energy in overseeing the operation, our efforts were satisfactorily rewarded; California was, as advertised, a truly Golden State in which to seek prosperity; obviously, officialdom respected enterprise. During the next couple of decades, we simply tended our rentals as their values drifted upward and rents increased. With spare time on my hands, I returned to school to fulfill a lifelong aspiration. At the University of California at Irvine, I earned both
bachelor’s and master’s degrees in chemistry and then taught the subject at a community college for ten years.
By the turn of the century a new opportunity presented itself. I met a most impressive young man, John Lee, involved in acquiring and managing apartments. He convinced me these were superior to individual houses as an investment, so over the next six years I systematically disposed of my rental houses as I partnered with him in the acquisition of small to medium-sized apartment buildings. John proved to be a shrewd purchaser and a fine manager; and as he predicted, our investments did remarkably well.
Sadly, not everything in life turns out as we might choose. John died in an airplane crash in 2006. Though I had managed property effectively in the distant past, I no longer considered myself able to take charge. Luckily, I found a competent manager who has been handling things effectively for the past 11 years. And up until late-February of this year, our seven apartment complexes, with more than 150 units – all in the lower to middle-income category – performed admirably. We maintain our
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