80 Damon Rd, Northampton, MA 01060
Although most people think of real estate investments in terms of real property that they can see and touch, buy and sell, or rent and manage on their own, there is a popular form of real estate investment that is not as personal and interactive.
In many ways, it is easier, featuring the expectation of a steady, long-term income stream, and requiring less cash, almost no worry, and little concentrated effort. Buying shares in a real estate investment trust (REIT) is one way to create a diversified investment portfolio, and such investment opportunities are now widely available even to those with limited cash reserves and minimal investment expertise.
Instead of holding the deed to a specific piece of property, an investor in an REIT holds shares in a corporate entity that operates under strict guidelines established by the Internal Revenue Service. The law that governs such investment was actually passed in 1960. Today, it is estimated that about 80 million Americans own shares in the hundreds of REITs that are publicly traded through the SEC or offered privately by brokers and financial advisers. In recent years, there has been substantial growth in REIT investment through pension and retirement plans.
For the individual investor considering REIT investment, there are some cautions as well as some decided advantages.
Advantages of REITs
First, on the plus side, a relatively small investment is required. Buying individual properties either to rent or for resale typically requires a substantial cash outlay, but REIT investment can begin with little cash outlay. This may be the prime advantage. Because one of the regulatory provisions limits major shareholder presence in any REIT, there is a great deal of opportunity for small investors.
Additional advantages include:
- Liquidity: Particularly with publicly-traded REITs, buying and selling is as easy as contacting a licensed broker and issuing the order.
- Steady Income Stream: REITs are required to return 90% of taxable income to investors each year, in the form of dividends.
- Regulation & Transparency: Corporations operate under strict governance, and must be managed by trustees or a board of directors.
- Beneficial Risk-adjusted Return: With initial due diligence, the risk of loss over the long-term is very low.
- Minimal Growth: The possibility of capital appreciation is less than that of other investment types.
- Tax Consequences: REIT Dividends are taxed as normal income under IRS rules.
- Market Risk: All real estate value is market driven, and REIT's are no different. Investors should be aware of current trends, and take those into account when comparing various REITs. Certain segments are perennial high performers, while others are location and use-driven.
- Associated Fees: Pay attention to management and transaction fees, not only those charged by investment brokers, but also the operating expenses of the REIT itself.
Investment decisions should always be made following due diligence, and with personal goals and objectives in mind. But for investors who wish to get into the business of real estate investing, even on a limited basis, REITs can be a first step.
48 Amity Place, Amherst, MA 01002
120 Tracy Cir, Amherst, MA 01002
Whether you’re a movie buff, like playing the latest video games, or just appreciate high-quality video and audio when you’re binging shows in Netflix, your experience can be greatly enhanced with a home theater system.
Technologies are ever-changing when it comes to home audio and video. The quality of DVDs now seems laughable next to 4K resolution HD videos. Similarly, bulky home audio systems that once required several huge speakers have been reduced to small “sound bars” that sound excellent and take up hardly any room at all.
If you’d like to turn your living room, basement, or any other room in your home into a home theater, read on.
Location of your home theater
The obvious choice for many when it comes to choosing a location for their home theater is the living room. And that might make the most sense for people who have small or mid-sized houses who spend much of the time in their living room.
However, if you’re looking for an immersive, distraction-free viewing experience, you may want to consider other rooms in your house, such as a finished basement or office.
What you’ll need
If you’re starting from scratch, you’ll need to invest some time and money in your home theater. First, you’ll need an HDTV or projector and screen. Projectors can be a fun way to achieve the movie theater experience and are particularly useful in large rooms where you’re sitting far from the screen. However, quality projectors are quite pricey ($600 or more, not including the cost of a screen).
Choosing a television
If you go the television route, you have several options. Shopping for a TV is no easy feat. There are LED, OLED, 4K Ultra, and curved televisions. If you’re looking for the highest video quality and plan on streaming HD video with a high resolution, a 4K Ultra would be the best option.
However, if you aren’t particular about video quality and will be happy with anything that plays your old DVD collection, most LED televisions will do the trick at an affordable price point.
When it comes to audio quality, you might be surprised with the variety of systems on the market.
For the classic home theater experience, a multi-speaker surround sound system is the closest you’ll get to the cinematic experience. Since the rise of the sound bar, home theater systems have become much more affordable.
However, with most surround sound systems you’ll need to buy a receiver. You’ll need to set it up and find a place to put it (they tend to be pretty large).
If you don’t want to go through the trouble of installing speakers around the room and finding a place for a big audio receiver, a sound bar could be a great alternative. Starting at around $100 and scaling up to $1,000 depending on your audio quality needs.
Most decent sound bars come with a small subwoofer, but other than that they are small, lightweight and typically Bluetooth-ready, so you can just plug them in and start listening.