Financial Literacy 2007 - Mortgages
photograph of Bob Greene
A conversation with ... Bob Greene

q_v2.gifYou were able to get into these foreclosures with minimal down payments?

a_v2.gif They were near to foreclosure. In a couple instances, yeah, the first one or two rental properties I did were a breath away from foreclosure.

q_v2.gifWhen did you "get the bug"?

a_v2.gifI remember, I was in grad school in Tucson, Ariz., my parents certainly helped me go through my undergraduate school, but in grad school I had a scholarship, but I was working to pay the bills. I found a house that had a guest house and it had a lot that could be separated and sold. This was 20 years ago, and it was $52,000, which I didn't have, but I knew in my gut it was such a great deal: Oh my God, I could fix it up and I would have a rental and I could have income and a house and I could have a lot I could even sell out. It was my first experience, I tried to beg, borrow and steal and just didn't have enough for the down payment and wasn't able to get it. A year later, when I was finishing grad school, I visited the house and it was for sale for over three times that price. And from that day on, I said, the next time I know it in my gut that it's a good deal, I won't hesitate, I'll do whatever it takes to buy the property.

q_v2.gifIs there a knack to flipping houses?

a_v2.gifThere's a lot of risk. You need to be a little bit of a risk taker because you're dealing with large sums and no matter what level you're dealing on, you're always kind of pushing to be in the best area because common sense tells you location, you're always trying to push to get the best possible location you can. So no matter where you are on that spectrum, you're always trying to push the envelope. So it involves a little bit of risk, and it certainly involves a lot of hard work and being able to read people and not be taken advantage of.

q_v2.gifAre there similarities between fixing up houses and fixing up people?

a_v2.gif The irony about this is, the two things I love most -- a career in health and fitness and real estate -- most people say jeez, that's such a disconnect, those are such different worlds. But quite the contrary: It's about maximizing the potential, whether it's a property or a human being. If you start with a sound foundation, whether you're talking about a human or a house, and you build from there, you can never go wrong. Most people don't get that and think it's a stretch, but it really is the same mechanics.

q_v2.gifNow that you have comfortable homes in Florida and Hawaii, do you still get the urge to buy a fixer?

a_v2.gif Always. I am always looking for this little gem that is in need of repair but sits on the most perfect lot in the neighborhood. That never goes away; it only gets stronger.

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