Harry Gross: Is real estate really the best investment?

Money down the drain
Money down the drain
Posted: December 14, 2012

DEAR HARRY: I have a good pension plan where I work, and I have been contributing right up to the maximum allowed. The company matches my contributions up to 6 percent of my pay. Today, I saw some guru on TV telling people that any money above what the company will match should go into real estate. He was even going to the point of telling viewers to move to a bigger home with a bigger mortgage. With low interest rates and the threat of inflationary policies in Washington, he insisted that this was a no-brainer. He insisted that stocks and bonds will come nowhere close to matching real-estate investing over the next few years. As an alternative to buying a larger home, he suggested real-estate mutual funds over all other mutual funds. What's your take on this?

WHAT HARRY SAYS: There is a possibility that his take has some truth to it. However, the adage is still correct: Never put all your money in one basket, no matter how good the basket. Warren Buffett would disagree, because almost all of his vast fortune is in Berkshire Hathaway. But Berkshire's investments are so diversified, that the adage hardly applies. Certainly, some of your investments should be in real estate. There's nothing wrong with having real-estate mutual funds in your pension portfolio or your personal portfolio, but buying a larger home as an investment is quite a bit too far. Homes-as-investments have failed miserably since the bust a few years ago.


Write Harry Gross at the Daily News, 801 Market St., Philadelphia 19107 or email harrygrossDN@gmail.com.

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