The One Common Secret of the Super Rich

It all began with a few tennis lessons . . .

Frank McKinney arrived in Florida at the age of 20 with just a few dollars in his pocket. He went to work digging golf-course sand traps for $2 an hour at a local resort. When he learned that a friend was making $40 an hour teaching tennis, Frank convinced the resort manager to pay for a course where Frank could get certified as an instructor.

Soon, he built a successful tennis-pro business, targeting affluent residents of new oceanfront condominium developments. He was making $100,000 a year in his early 20s, teaching tennis and living in South Florida. Life was good. But Frank wanted to do more — he just wasn’t sure what it would be. So he decided to learn from his students.

He ran his wealthiest tennis students ragged for 45 minutes of their scheduled one-hour lessons. The last 15 minutes, they were happy to just sit, sip water, and recuperate. During that time, Frank would pepper them with questions. “How did you become successful?” “What do you need to succeed?” “What are the best investments?”

Since his students had made their money in many different fields, he got quite a few different answers. But he soon realized that every one of his wealthy clients had either made a good part of his money — or had invested a good part of his fortune — in real estate.

It was the one moneymaking strategy of the super-rich.

It was also the inspiration for Frank to buy his first foreclosure. He learned everything he could about real estate. Not only from his tennis students but also by reading everything on the subject that he could get his hands on. He researched the local market and attended foreclosure auctions for 10 months. Then, he scraped some money together and bought his first investment property.

It was a roach-infested former crack house. He paid $30,000 for it, fixed it up, and ended up making nearly $20,000 on it. He was just 23 years old — and that was more money than he ever thought he would see at one time!

But he went on to do hundreds of these types of deals and made money on every one. Then, six years later — still shy of his 30th birthday — he bought and renovated his first oceanfront home. He made nearly $1 million profit on this single deal.

That’s a pretty quick rise to success. But the former tennis pro was only getting started.

Frank continued to do bigger and bigger deals until, seven years later, at the age of 36, he built a 30,000-square-foot home on the Atlantic Ocean. And sold it for over $28 million!

According to The Wall Street Journal, it was the most expensive home built on spec in “the history of the world.” But it didn’t remain Frank’s crowning achievement.

This year, at the age of 41, Frank sold one of his custom homes in the $40 million range. And that’s on top of the $17 million and $7 million homes he built and sold in the last year.

Frank’s enormous success has been due — at least in part — to the fact that he discovered early the one common secret of the super-rich: real estate.

Bought right, nothing produces returns like real estate. That’s because of the power of leverage. A 10% rise in a property where you’ve put 10% down gives you a 100% return. And when you do it right, the rents from the property will more than pay for the mortgage and all other carrying costs.

Plus, when you know what you’re doing, there are ways you can buy property with no money down. And when you buy right, this can provide almost inestimable (see “Word to the Wise,” below) profit leverage.

This is why — if you look at the Forbes 400 (“The Richest People in America”) — you’ll find that more multimillionaires and billionaires have made their money from real estate than from stocks, shipping, technology, and insurance combined.

Even when you look at people who’ve made money in other areas, you’ll find what Frank McKinney discovered almost 20 years ago. The one common secret of the wealthy is that they either made their money in real estate or invest a good portion of it in real estate to become even richer.

When you read Forbes’ bios of the 400, you learn interesting tidbits like these:

* Ross Perot ($3.2 billion net worth) has his son manage his “extensive real estate holdings.”

* Lowell Milken, the brother of Michael Milken (net worth of over $500 million) invests in real estate.

* D.H. Murdock ($1.3 billion) was a high-school dropout who made his initial fortune building homes after WWII.

* The sons of Norman Hascoe ($720 million) manage the family’s real-estate portfolio.

* Former cotton picker Jim Clayton ($620 million) made his fortune in mobile homes.

And the list of connections between wealth and real estate goes on . . .

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