Q: I've heard that REIT's (Real Estate Investment Trusts) took a nose-dive in the slump market a few years ago. Are they still a high risk investment for someone in the 50 percent tax bracket? Do they offer the same tax advantage as a rental property? What are the standard commission and management fees? Where would I go for additional information?
A: There was a very substantial shake-out of REIT's in the 1974-75 economic recesion. It resulted in the reorganization of many, as well as the demise, merger or acquisition of others. There are, however, some well-structured, well-financed, well-managed REIT's in existence today. Return, on shareholders' investments (from current income and capital gains) have not been particularly rewarding, however. It doesn't matter whether you're in the 50 percent or other tax bracket. They don't offer the same tax advantages as rental property.
From the general tenor of your questions, I suspect you have an erroneous conception of a REIT from the investor's standpoint. Some of the more successful ones are listed on the New York Stock Exchange and the American Stock Exchange.
Shares of others are sold in the over-the-counter-market. In some cases, these shares are selling at less that the value of a proportionate share of the assets of the trust. For information on the names of leading REIT's, share price, earnings, price-earnings ratio, assets, etc., contact your stockbroker.
For more information on the industry and the REIT's themselves, write or telephone Director of Research, National Association of Real Estate Investment Trusts, Inc., 1101 17th St. NW, Washingtonn 20036, telephone 202 -- 785-8717.
Q: I'm 85 years old and my wife is 73. We're both retired. Our monthly income is $900, all from social security payments. Our apartment rent is $300 a month.
Fifteen months ago I bought my widowed daughter and her three children a condominum. It has an $18,000 first mortgage on it with a 20-year term. I have $30,000 in 6-month certificates of deposit. I get about $225 a month income from those. This pays city taxes on the condominium ($50 a month), interest and the monthly condominium fee ($115).
Would you advise me to pay off the $18,000 mortgage so they could have a clear title? If I did this, I would still have $8,000 in my savings account and one $10,000 certificate.
A: Providing your daughter with a mortgage-free condominium would be very generous of you and your wife. The question is whether it would leave you and your wife so stripped of liquid assets that one or both of you might face financial problems in the figure. If you and your wife feel reasonably certain you can handle any possible future financial need and still pay off the mortgage, do it.