Archive for June, 2007

An apartment in Manhattan

Tuesday, June 26th, 2007

One of my dreams has always been to own an apartment in Manhattan (in addition to one in Seoul, one in Rome, one in a Canadian city like Ottawa or Toronto, and now I’ve considered adding Brazil) so I was recently checking out Stuyvesant Town where, at least on this official site, it seems like you can only rent but not buy. $3,000/month for a 1 bedroom (which is all I need so far) tells you why I haven’t achieved my dream yet…

I’ve been considering a more attainable dream, like an apartment in Morris Park or one on Arthur Avenue. These are also fun areas and I have a good friend who lives in and highly recommends Morris Park.

While most of New York’s best attractions are in Manhattan, the island is easily accessible from the Bronx (subway or bus) and the Bronx does have it’s zoo

Are stocks like China Telecom going to keep up their big gains?

Monday, June 25th, 2007

In late January 2006 I sold China Telecom when it was arount 38 because a Standard & Poors report talked of significant risk. Now it’s around 62.

I replaced CHA with Ebay, which has gone up around 15% for me. But still, I couldn’t help wondering if I’d overreacted to the S&P report.

I think it’s still risky. Here’s an article comparing modern China to the tech bubble that cause a poor college student / amateur investor many sleepless nights.

Perhaps this article on emerging market ETFs will give me some direction. Many include stocks in Brazil, South Korea, and China. I want some of each please.

How to close a TD Ameritrade acocunt without paying a fee?

Wednesday, June 13th, 2007

Someone recently asked the following question:

Could use some help with the company. TD Ameritrade took over Waterhouse and customer service has gone in the toilet. When I called about transferring accounts to another firm, they said there’s a $75 closure fee per account and we have about 5 accounts. Does anyone know how to avoid the fees? I can’t get information from the company and every time I call them, there’s a 1/2 hour wait to talk. Does anyone known what to do?

One of my friends said he worked for Ameritrade for 3 years prior to leaving to go to Citi, service used to be good but in order to meet their synergy numbers for the street they laid off a ton of people, mostly those in the call centers in Omaha and Ft. Worth Not sure how to avoid the fee, what you can do is ask the firm you are transferring the accounts to for credits or fee waivers to off set those, most firms do this.

I thought this was an interesting one because I started with TD Waterhouse and left for Ameritrade because of crappy customer service plus a technical problem with their website that messed up one of my trades. So I thought it was funny when the company I left was bought by the company I joined. Now the company I joined is becoming the company I left…

A lot of house for $200,000 on 5th Ave. in Pittsburgh

Saturday, June 9th, 2007

Pittsburgh didn’t make the list of most resilient real estate markets, but some investors call real estate in Pittsburgh undervalued.

Anyway, this much house in or near a city for $200,000 is new to me:

The carefully restored 1871 town house boasts 14-foot ceilings, three bedrooms, 31/2 baths, original pine floors and oversized molding, furniture and artwork. But the real surprise is the 28-foot-long in-ground swimming pool surrounded by mature trees and shrubs in the side yard. Next to the pool is a 20-by-20-foot deck shaded by wisteria, with a two-car garage beneath.

The neighborhood is supposedly getting better but they still say not to go for walks at night or take your abby out for a ride in the stroller by day…

Here’s an article about Pittsburgh working to improve a problem area.

Pittsburgh real estate and sports

Thursday, June 7th, 2007

I’ve blogged about Pittsburgh real estate before, including residences that seem too cheap, the city targeting niche markets, and that Forbes thinks Pittsburgh is not overpriced.

Today I’ve got a few more articles involving Pittsburgh sports and their effect on real estate. This one is about a Charlie Batch project (he’s the Steelers QB) while this one is about the North Shore where Jerome Bettis (the Steelers retired running back) just opened a restaurant.

And of course we also have the Penguins staying in Pittsburgh (for at least 40 years) and the new arena being built. All this seems to bode well for Pittsburgh.

Monday, June 4th, 2007

Here’s an interesting article on how the increasing number of foreclosures in Philadelphia isn’t having a large negative impact on real estate there.

Of course, buying a house to live in is not really an investment (buying a house and renting it out is clearly an investment however). This all depends on who you ask.

In other real estate investing news, Miami condo owners who can’t sell their properties are looking to rent to vacationers.

I’m still dreaming of buying a nice vacation home in Brazil but office space might be the best investment there.

Retirement planning = real estate + stock

Saturday, June 2nd, 2007

I thought that this page on IRAs was very interesting. They have a lot of information on rollovers and things but what I really liked were the examples (find them at the bottom of the page I linked to). These downloadable PDF files show what would happen to a 55-year-old with a million dollars in a taxable retirement account (that person would run out of money at 84).

Considering that many people live longer these days (my grandfather is 95) it’s no wonder people can’t retire at 55. From watching my grandfather, I think I’ve realized that a good retirement comes from stocks going up, real estate (rental income and appreciation), and not spending money. The last one of course is the hardest for someone who likes to travel as I do.

Anyway, this link above comes from a retirement planning company. I’ve never tried their services, but I do like their informative website.

And I want to add that you can own real estate in your IRA – it’s recommended, especially if you can make the purchase without taking out a mortgage thanks to some complicated laws from the IRS (who would’ve guessed that the IRS would make our retirement planning more complicated?).

The article says that real estate works particularly well in a Roth IRA thanks to the way the Roth IRA avoids taxes. So you could have rental income (not taxed) and sell the real estate any time (no capital gains tax).