What areas of the country, if any, are poised to benefit the most?
I personally go where the jobs are. I'm investing right now in Oklahoma. If people are losing jobs or jobs are leaving the area, I wouldn't invest in there. The beauty of real estate is it's area by area. Since I live in Phoenix, I'm the expert on Phoenix, and I'm an expert on Tulsa, Okla., but I'm not an expert someplace else. You can be an expert in your own area and know which areas of town are growing and which are getting worse. Real estate is really area by area, and jobs and then financing. It's not just a matter of interest rates.
Where should people who are interested in buying a second home be looking for good deals?
A home in my opinion is not an investment -- a home is where your heart is. You should invest where you love. A lot of people (advise you to) live below your means. I don't believe in that. I believe you should live in whatever standard of living your heart desires, but you've got to do it responsibly and have enough money to afford it. A home should be someplace that makes your spirit and your heart sing.
What's the best way Americans can prepare for retirement? How should people invest their money?
As some people know, my rant is: "Why doesn't our school system teach kids about money and investing?" Rich or poor, smart or not smart, we all use money. Really that's where it starts. I know 95 percent of the people don't do that; they turn their money over to a financial planner. If you have no financial education, then I would follow the financial planner's advice of start young, save and invest in a well-diversified portfolio of probably index funds, but that's not the way I do it. I'd rather invest in my education.
Let me say it this way: I have a friend who buys a new set of golf clubs every year, but he won't spend a dime on golf lessons. And he can't understand why his golf game is still terrible. It's not the golf clubs, it's not the stock, it's not the bonds, it's not the real estate that makes you a better investor, it's your knowledge, it's your wisdom. So I would rather invest a lot of money in golf lessons and none in golf clubs and I'd have a better chance of winning the game.
But in the world of investing, most people would rather invest in a stock and a bond and nothing in their brains and that's why they don't get those high returns. Or they say such silly things as "investing is risky" or "get out of debt and save money" and all those little platitudes that the financial planners teach you, which is good advice for a person who really has limited financial training.