Finding a Financial Planner who understand Real Estate Investing

23 Replies

My husband and I just met with a Financial Planner who had the deer in the headlights look when we talked about our rental properties and real estate notes. We are about 3 years from retirement and trying to get as much passive income as we can via Real Estate Investing.  My feeling was he thought this was too risky at this point in our lives. He also stated that the people he sees that have real estate investments and are close to retirement have paid off the properties so the are not in debt.  I got the feeling he thought the debt we have with the properties we have is too much of a liability at this point in our lives.  I wonder if there are any Financial Planners who "get it!"  Have any of my fellow BP members had difficulty finding a Financial Planner that understands the Real Estate Investor?  Of course, he has never heard of Bigger Pockets either. :(

Unfortunately the vast majority of financial planners are just rebranded stock brokers, a lot of them are only compensated by commission from terrible mutual funds they can get clients to invest in.  Make sure whoever you are dealing with is a fiduciary, even then because RE investing isn't in the retirement orthodoxy unless you get someone who does it themselves as well you will have a tough time finding someone.

@Joni Martin

there are very Financial Planners that understand real estate and want to work with real estate investors because they don't get a commission on real estate. 

You should look at hiring a fee-only Financial Planner who won't try to sell you any products. You should also consider working remotely with a  Financial Planner if you can't find someone local. I sent you a PM with a recommendation for a Financial Planner that works remotely with clients. 

Good luck and let me know if you have any questions. 

Yes, there is a real shortage of financial planners that really specialize in real estate as an asset class.

@Joni Martin . I think the first thing a financial planner does is read Ramsey's books. I'm literally months from retirement. I'm doing what I call an equity shift. I'm doing cash out Re-fi's on some properties (10 year balloons and owner carry's). And paying off others. Guess which ones get sold if I have trouble?? Had I been younger I would have done 20 yr loans but I want the cash flow. Interestingly I picked up about $300 a month cash flow. another thing I been doing is living off my rental income and not using my wages for bills etc. I've got a year under my belt doing this. The goal is pay the bills with rental income and my SDIRA ( in real estate too) money and SSI is for extras. I've eliminated ccrd debt, car debt, and have monthly bills and real estate debt only. The tough one is insurance for my wife. Haven't crossed that one yet. I have Medicare. I did reduce my leverage the past few years. I usually ran about 65-70% debt. I'm down to about 40%. I know lower ROI but higher cash flow. Double edged sword. My house is a brand new loan all loan very little equity but I bought it a year ago and just refinanced it. Interest had dropped and I bought it down another point. Result was a 200 a month payment reduction, and a 30 year low interest rate loan. Add that to 300 increased cash flow and I gained 500 a month. The car payment was 400 a month. Now I've gained $900 a month and never bought a property in this high market. No tax on a loan either. Fact is I'll write off the loan costs. Selling wouldn't have worked. ( pay off the properties that will increase your cash flow the most IE higher rent lower maintenance re fi the ones that won't raise the payment much). Please don't think me a fool for having a car payment. The car was almost paid for. I needed cash for a down pmnt on a property so I cash out re-fied the car. The car loan cost 2.5% and I got 18k twords my down payment. Been hanging on to that low rate loan for 3 yrs. one lender laughed at me!! Dunno if this is good advice or not. It's how I'm setting myself up. 14 years ago I went to Alaska with a dog 3 duffel bags and $100 dollars. No retirement either. 52 years old. bought a one way ticket. Worked out ok and best of all I did it MY WAY! Forget that financial adviser. I've had 2 or 3 tell me real estate is bad. Maybe if you pay one instead of going to one that sells mutual funds? I dunno. He can join the hundreds that told me this wouldn't work. Most people don't say that anymore. RR

@Joni Martin financial planners make money on the stock market and life insurance, not real estate. Obliviously some understand real estate better than others, but they are going to push what makes them money. 

Even by saying the words life insurance in a forum post, I just summoned the "financial planners" to come and try to sell you something. Sorry...

Don't worry about if your financial planner understands real estate. Use them to manage your other investments and keep them hands off the real estate.

@Joni Martin

Hello Joni,

I believe there are advisors who are knowledgeable about real estate, but they are few and far between.

Full disclosure, I am a stock broker based out of Montreal, Canada and I also personally invest in real estate in the states.

It has been mentioned before that most advisors are not fond of their clients' task estate because they cannot earn anything on those assets. Most will try to get you to sell those and invest in high fee mutual funds but PLEASE resist. In my personal opinion, fees can have a significant impact on your retirement assets, that's why I try to stay away from those in my practice.

Your best bet is to find an advisor who understands real estate and also has some himself. I'm sure he wouldn't sell his real estate assets if you asked him to, so why should you?

Best of luck in your search and don't hesitate if you have any questions.

There have been other threads in recent years where people have named a couple of financial advisors by name that can likely help. You might also do a search online for hourly fee financial planners. There are a couple different sites where you can search for such individuals and include "real estate" in your search criteria. www.garrettplanningnetwork.com is one. NAPFA.org is the other.  Check them out. Good luck!

@Joni Martin  I am having the same problem you are, and am frustrated by the lack of knowledge on how to best utilize my real estate assets to enable me to transition to self employment soon. Have you had any luck finding someone yet? If so, please post any contact info with me! I'm comfortable working remotely with whomever, as long as they are well recommended.

@Bill Hampton You mentioned you'd PM Joni a pointer to someone, would you please share the same with me? 

Thank you all! Tim

I am late to the conversation. 

Most Financial Advisors have little actual experience with active real estate so their knowledge is limited.

In general, look for a Financial Advisor that is 

  • Fee Only - Fee based can work as well, really it depends on the firm
  • Independent - They don't work for an insurance company and are not limited in their investment options
  • Fiduciary - Legally required to put your interests ahead of their own
  • Certified Financial Planner - CFP is the preferred designation
  • Personally investing in real estate - This is pretty rare. In fact, I can't think of any other advisor I've ever met.

And make sure to check their FINRA record on Broker Check...It's suprising how many people go around calling themselves financial advisors without even registering with FINRA... Stay away from those guys...

Broker Check (FINRA)

XY Planning Network, Garrett Planning Network, and NAFPA all have "Find an Advisor" sections you can use to try to find someone that fits your situation. You can search by location and hopefully find someone that is a good fit.

The CFP Board has put together a list of questions to ask a prospective financial advisor. Obviously make sure to ask questions about how they would incorporate Real Estate into your overall plan.

Ten Questions to Ask Your Financial Advisor

Best of Luck!  Feel free to reach out if you have any questions.

Hey, Joni!!

Hope that these fine fellows have helped you see where you might find more success with an advisor who has YOUR interests in mind. I personally am newer to the REI scene, however I LOVE it as a means to build residual cash flow as well as a means to retire.

I am a financial advisor, and I work with an array of business owners who prefer to use most of their income as a means to invest more in their business and this is great! However, times have been extremely GOOD right now, but if something were to happen in the economy again and you are financially diversified, you can suffer greatly. My dad was doing AMAZING in the real estate market, 2008 happened, and we lost everything. My grandma was really good with money, and because she had a great advisor behind her who helped her to diversify her risk among various assets (including an entire mobile home park) my family came out okay in the end. 

I think you are doing the right thing seeking out professional advice with retirement coming up (my parents are in the same boat!) and working with someone who has your best interests at heart and who can see the value in what you do is CRITICAL! If you have any other questions I would love to talk to you about my personal stance on what you have done thus far to prepare for retirement! Best of luck either way, Joni!!

For any on this thread, I'd love a few referrals to a FP who personally invests in RE as well. While I really like my FP he has zero knowledge of RE investing....he tries to advise me but really it's not helpful. Thanks.