FIRE YOUR REAL ESTATE BANKER! MARK WILLIS Ain’t that the truth? As we look ten years back on the Great Recession, we can see how much has changed, and how much more has stayed pretty much the same. Home values are up again to 2007 levels. Unemployment is down to precrisis levels. The stock market is hitting record highs as I write these words. And yet, not much has changed since 2008 or since Mr. Twain wrote those humorous words bankers control the money supply, and just when you need the money most, they are there holding all the umbrellas. I have no problem with bankers, personally. Some of my best friends are bankers! In fact, as investors we’ve been taught to use “other people’s money” (also known as OPM) as leverage to help us gain traction in real estate or to get ahead in our business. Other solutions include getting a business line of credit to buy new equipment, or securing a mortgage on an investment property to renovate and flip a property. These are the standby solutions used by many Americans. But ask yourself who are the “other people” when OPM is your strategy for leverage? (Remember, leverage can work both ways for and against you!) And what do other people want so badly that they’re willing to part with their money and hand it to you? Were you just handed an umbrella on a sunny day? When banks control the environment where your money lives, they win every time. When you control the financial environment in which your money lives, you win. 34% of all American income goes to servicing debt. If time is money, as the old saying goes, that means a full onethird of the day is spent working as slaves to a bank! Think of how many folks you know who are in debt up to their eyeballs and working 60+ hours a week, or stressing over nonpaying tenants, or feverishly rushing from property to property, hoping they can sell a property before the balloon payment comes due. For many real estate investors, the road to becoming a wealthy landlord turned south toward the highway of serfdom, with their banker holding the upper hand.