It’s Only A Paper Moon, And It’s Only A Paper Loss

img_0083-1Take any basic accounting class, or go to Vegas for the weekend, and you’ll soon get the concept that financial losses are bad. Which is why you might scratch your head when I tell you that some of my most successful property investment clients ask me to find them properties that will show a loss.

I was recently discussing this concept with a colleague, when he smiled knowingly and said, “I get it, your client’s getting divorced and wants to hide some money.” After assuring him that this wasn’t some film noir-style fraud scheme, I explained that my client was talking about “paper losses.” The quizzical tilt of his head told me that I had some ‘splaining to do. Continue reading

A Multi-Family Investment Portfolio, One Unit At A Time


Somehow, I never get to be the Top Hat.

I have clients who want to own investment properties. And even though they may own several personal and vacation homes, the idea of putting all of their property investment eggs in one building basket is counter to their successful track record of spreading the risk across different assets.

Regarding real estate, individual investors generally think of the three most common property holdings: office buildings, shopping centers and apartment buildings. And the easiest of these investments to manage and understand is the apartment building — people pay rent, you subtract your expenses and voilà, there’s your net taxable income. (The CPA then works his/her magic by factoring in mortgage interest and depreciation deductions, but that’s something for the next day.)

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Bragging Rights Of The Fraudulent Kind

Morning Coffee

Enjoying my morning coffee and   LA Times, NY Style.

I never thought the Treasury Department’s thresholds for reporting the people behind cash purchases of residential real estate would make me face my bi-Coastal allegiances.

Having grown up in New York, and having lived in Los Angeles for more than half of my life, I’m conflicted. I read the New York Times (electronic edition) every day. I also read the Los Angeles Times (print edition), which, jonesing for a NY experience, I fold in the manner I learned in fourth grade so as to more easily read it on the subway. [That this was taught to me in school as part of the curriculum says volumes about the veneration of The Times. But I digress…]

I identify as a New Yorker, especially when it comes to claiming unparalleled authority on topics such as bagels and pizza. Even more so, I wear the mantle of having grown up in Manhattan with unwarranted snobbery over those from Long Island or New Jersey ― unwarranted as I was simply lucky to have parents cool enough to live in the city, and did not attain that rank of my own merits. Continue reading

Is There Too Much Housing In Downtown LA?

Los Angeles skyline

Even more lights are slated to join the DTLA skyline.

LA is a city with an identity crisis, mainly because it has more identities than “Sybil.”  The “city” part of LA is the downtown area that reached its glory days in the 20s and 30s, hit a decline in the post war years, laid fallow for about 50 years and began its renaissance starting in the late 90s. For what’s supposed to be the economic hub of the city, people can go their whole lives without setting foot in downtown (and truthfully, they’re missing out, but that’s a topic for another day).

Downtown has had a huge residential population boom, going from approximately 14,000 denizens to more than 50,000 over the past 15 years. The tipping point was the introduction of a name brand supermarket that allowed people who always thought it would be cool to live downtown, but were wary of the inconvenience of not being able to get the emergency carton of milk for their Sunday morning coffee, to feel more comfortable. As more units came on line (either through new construction, or the redevelopment of iconic buildings) restaurants, stores, clubs and even a Soul Cycle followed. Suddenly, downtown was a viable place to live. It may also be a victim of its own success. Continue reading

Technology Leads To More Transparent International Property Investments

Money-PostProperty advisor firm JLL has issued a report stating 75% of international real estate investments are made in transparent marketplaces.  It took me a re-read of the headline to realize that they were not saying that 75% of real estate markets are transparent, but rather that 75% of real estate investment was in those markets.

On it’s face, it’s not much to report — of course investors prefer markets in which the fundamentals are clear, rather than risking funds in obfuscating markets that feel like the 3-card monte table on the corner of 39th and Eighth. [And why is it that I can never find the queen “and take home the green?” Does anyone actually win at that game?] Continue reading

The Election Cycle vs. The Housing Cycle

Screen Shot 2016-08-12 at 11.48.24 AMThere’s a conversation that real estate agents and their clients have every four years, usually starting in July (sometimes August, and in some cases, even September) based on the question, “So, how do you think the election is going to effect the real estate market?” My stock broker tells me his clients ask him the same thing about the stock market. That said, since you may be interested in asking the question, I’ll reply with the same ever hedging answer I get from him whenever I ask about the market: “it depends.” Continue reading

Beverly Hills Courts Self-Driving Cars (Which Will Ruin Everything)

Beverly Hills Sign

A recent article in the Hollywood Reporter reported that Beverly Hills is courting the manufacturers of self-driving autonomous vehicles as a way to reduce traffic congestion and to be a beacon of modernity to the nation… And I just don’t trust it. I don’t trust it at all.

Here’s the thing: People in LA are called “Angelenos,” those residing in Santa Monica are “Santa Monicans,” but people living in Beverly Hills are… “people living in Beverly Hills” which makes me wary of this whole “self-driving car” thing. Continue reading

“Dear Rams, Please Go Home!”

Dear Rams,Print

I know we’ve been talking about moving in together for the past 20 years or so, and we were really flattered when you said you would, but truthfully, we didn’t really think you’d be doing it. And now that you’ve given your thirty day notice and loaded up the U-Haul, there are a few things we need to get off our chests. Continue reading

Jaded, Or Just Living In L.A.?


Un-retouched Photo of Beverly Hills

Living in Los Angeles does things to a person… and selling real estate on the Westside of Los Angeles does even more. Please remember that I live and work in a city where restaurant valets begrudgingly park a BMW because they’re used to “driving” Buggatis, Aston Martins, Lamborghinis and MacLarens (albeit for only a few feet). Many women carry handbags with price tags that could have otherwise provided food and water to several underdeveloped nations. When those sort of things become your reference point for normal (or, at least “accessible”), the actual normal world can take you by surprise. Continue reading

“Pay Much Attention To The Man Behind the Curtain” – All Cash Purchases to Reveal Names Behind LLCs.

As a result of several recent investigations of money laundering through the use of shell companies buying real estate, the Treasury Department is implementing a pilot program in Los Angeles that requires the the controlling members of an LLC or other corporate entity to be identified by name, when making an all cash purchase in excess of $2 million.

The majority of people that buy real estate and hold title in what I’ll refer to as a business entity do so for openly legitimate reasons. For instance, the owner of a rental property might want to shield him or herself from liability buy holding the property in an LLC, and getting the legal protections such ownership offers. Celebrities, wealthy individuals and anyone else might also buy property in the name of a corporation or other entity because they value their privacy. Continue reading