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All, I'm creating this site to let you know about my real estate investing experiences, particularly focused on using Jason Hartman's Platinum Properties real estate investor site, with the goal of helping you learn from my journey.  When I first took the plunge into investing with Platinum Properties I tried to find online reviews and was not able to find many.  So my hope is after reading this review, you can better determine if this is a good investment strategy for you.  All opinions are my own. 
 
NOTE:  Originall I planned to make this page an ongoing blog, but instead this page is going to just contain my original experiences and impressions with Jason Hartman's Platinum properties, and a few other of my early real estate progress.  I will still be doing an on-going blog style journal at http://realestateinvestingjourney.blogspot.com/
 
Jason Hartman's Platinum Properties Overview:
Since this site focuses on using Platinum Properties for real estate investments, I figured I should give a quick overview.  For those of you don't know, Jason Hartman an entrepreneur.  He has multiple podcast, businesses, and even a charitable foundation.  What I'm going to focus on here is Platinum Properties, for which Jason Hartman is CEO.  The homepage can be found at http://www.jasonhartman.com, from this site you can find out more about Jason Hartman, links to his real estate podcast, find educational material, and of course see the current listening of properties. 
 
Jason dubs his strategy as the complete solution for real estate investors, an accurate description in my opinion.  Here's the gist as I understand it.  Jason and his team find what they consider to be the best markets in the United States to procure and own income producing properties.  They try to find local market specialists in these areas that are trustworthy, able to find great deals (such as foreclosures), able to rehab those create deals, and able to connect investors up with quality local property managers, insurance agencies, mortgage providers, etc.  So basically they are trying to find great property flippers in great cash flow markets. The properties for sale by these local market specialist are listed on Jason's site along with a proforma giving best estimates on property financial details such as rent, taxes, management fees, HOA fees, and loan to value ratios.  I believe Jason and his team may even validate the provider's listings to make sure they meet the value required to be listed on the site. 
 
The theory behind all this is that real estate is arguably the best investment out there.  It appreciates, there are a lot of tax benefits, and there is that wonderful cash flow!  But, you may not live in a market that is particularly great for real estate investing.  And even if you do, it may not be best to have all your properties in one area.  There can be downturns in markets.  What if by 2005 your entire real estate empire was located in Detroit?  Diversification helps mitigate this risk.
 
Noob Real Estate Investor: 2009-2011
I started my real estate career in 2009.  I was living in a townhome in Chambersburg, PA, I was also getting married.  My soon-to-be wife happened to live a few hours away so we decided to move to a location where we could both commute to work.  I initially looked into selling my home, but due to the economic downturn I was not going to be able to get as much out of it as I'd like, so without putting as much thought into it as I probably should have, I decided to just rent it out. It just so happened that my neighbor's daughter was looking for a home at about the same time so I ended up renting the townhome to her. I threw some stuff in a lease I got from http://legalzoom.com, get signatures and then suddenly I'm a landlord! She stayed for maybe two years or so and then moved out. Luckily at the same time, I knew someone that I worked with that was looking for a bigger place to rent; so for about a year he's been renting the Chambersburg home from me. 

I've managed this property on my own.  Though take "managed" for what it's worth.  I've been lucky in that I've had great tenants that I've either known personally or had a great reference for.  So they really never gave me any problems, they've taken care of little things themselves, and for bigger issues in most cases we've worked it out that they took care of it and I just paid the bill.
 
First Experiences with Jason Hartman and Platinum Properties: 2012
Most of this section was taken from an email to a friend, so sorry if it sounds a bit jenky or out of place with everything else on this site but I'm lazy and don't really want to rewrite it :)
Early in 2012, I had a fair amount of my Chambersburg property paid off and my rent wasn't actually covering the mortgage. So even though my net worth was going up because of the equity going into the property, I was paying into it out of my pocket every month. What I decided to do was refinance my Chambersburg rental and pull out about 30k in equity in the process. So what that got me was a way lower mortgage payment so instead of paying in every month I was now getting positive cash flow. With the $30k and with what I had saved already I was also now going to try to put down payments on two new rental properties.

I was starting to study more about real estate and investing. In general, I read stuff like Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki, and started listening to podcasts weekly like Creating Wealth with Jason Hartman and The Real Estate Guys Radio Show.

The site I ended up using to purchase my real estate investments was at http://www.jasonhartman.com/ or specifically http://www.jasonhartman.com/propertIes/. The site could be built better, it's laid out well but sometimes when browsing the listings the page will error out.  They are kind of a middle man, they find what they think are good markets where they also find good local market specialists. For Instance they have properties listed In Atlanta because they think Atlanta Is a good rental market (based on things like property cost, average rents, and landlord/tenant laws) and they find a group there that buys foreclosures, bank owned properties, etc then rehabs, and then sells them. If you buy from them, that local market specialist will also let you know a good local bank for a mortgage, property management company, and insurer, if you want any of that. If not you can use whoever you want for those services is my understanding. I've pretty much gone with who they recommended other then for insurance as I've kept everything under the same insurance company I have for everything else. I also did an umbrella insurance coverage for all the properties for coverage above and beyond the standard insurance. Which is good since I'm liable if someone hurts themselves on a property I own and they try to sue me.

I've bought two properties I found on the Jason Hartman site so far, one near Atlanta, one near Houston. I have a mortgage for the one In Atlanta, I paid cash for the one in Houston but that was an oops on my part. I actually wanted a mortgage and just wanted to pay the minimum down payment, but I guess I didn't communicate that well (or look at the documents close enough) so when I went to close I figured out they expected me to come with all the cash! Luckily it was a pretty low cost property (50k) so I was able to pull together enough just in time but I did borrow from my self-directed solo 401k to do it so I have to pay myself back that portion (20k).

My future plans are to move the Atlanta and Houston properties out of me and my wife's name and into LLCs. Basically that's some extra cost but another layer of protection. So if I ever got sued and they actually won, it protects my personal assets or other LLCs from the lawsuit. I would move my Chambersburg property as well but Pennsylvania has a 2% transfer tax so it would cost me 2% of the property value to transfer it from our names to an LLC. Boo.

My future plan for the Chambersburg property is to sell after my current tenants move out then get other properties with the cash. The only reason is I could get a better rent to value ratio. I want to get at least 1%. For instance the Chambersburg property is renting for $750 and it's worth about $130k so ratio is about 0.57%. For the Houston property I also get $750 rent but I bought it for only $50k, so the ratio is 1.5%.  The Atlanta property was about 1%.  So if I could trade the Chambersburg property for two other properties that I could get over $700 a month rent each from, that seems like a better value.

Other future initiatives are to decide if I want to leave the Houston property paid off or try to pull some equity out to put toward another property and pay my 401k back quicker.  I've done some initial research on this and it's turning out to be more difficult then expected.  A few places won't loan until I own it for at least a year, a few won't loan unless I borrow at least X amount, and the few options I did find have a higher rate then those historic low rates that are currently available.  And of course since the property was only about $50k, if I pull 80% of the equity out, that's only $30k, and I'll probably pay $3k in closing costs.  That's about a 10% fee for borrowing.  The math may or may not work, but I just don't like the idea of losing 10% off the top like that.  I think I'll end up keeping this one free and clear. 

Again, all this stuff is basically what I've done based on my research, I make no guarantees it's the best way to go about things and I haven't done it long enough yet to really know how well it's all going to work out but so far so good.
 
Review
I have to say when I stumbled upon Jason Hartman's Creating Wealth podcast on iTunes I had no idea how lucky I got or how it would end up affecting my future.  I've learned a lot listing to the Creating Wealth podcast.  I has a pretty good idea already that real estate was probably a good investment choice, but listening to Jason really taught me how good and how many benefits real estate really does have.  He also taught me why having propties leveraged (using mortgages) is a good thing.  That's something I never really understood but now I see how that is a good stategy to grow your property portfolio more quickly and how it the inflation happening in our current economy basicaly eats away at those loans to make them an even better option. 
 
As far as the purchasing of property from Platinum Properties, the experiences have been good so far.  Procuring real estate is not as simple as clicking buy on E-Trade, so there were some bumps and kickups both in the buying and owning stages.  I'll talk about these more on my blog (link below) but I've run into no issues that have made me want to quit real estate investion or quit using Jason's site. 
 
I recommend Jason's Platinum Properties if you are investor like me.  What's an investor like me?  I'm new to real estate, I don't live in a market where the rent to value ratio is good at all, I've got a full time job that keeps me very busy, and I love investments that cash flow. So with the free learning material available (particularly in podcast form), helpful investment counselors, knowledgable and professional local market specialists, and easy to research turn-key cash-flowing rental properties listed, I can't recommend Platinum properties enough if you're an investor like me!
 
Final comment, even though my experience is good and I trust Jason and his team, I would not recommend you limit your research to the properties listed on his site.  It is your responsibity to do your due diligence.  Check with property mangers or other professionals in the market or neighborhood you're looking to invest in, research on google, trulia, and zillow.  Ask lots and lots of questions!  And if possible, go see the property and neighborhood.  Don't take the purchase of rental properties lightly in any situation, do your research before you leap! 
 
NOTE: Originall I planned to make this page an ongoing blog, but instead this page is going to just contain my original experiences and impressions with Jason Hartman's Platinum properties, and a few other of my early real estate progress. I will still be doing an on-going blog style journal at http://realestateinvestingjourney.blogspot.com/
 
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