Technology Investor 

Harry Newton's In Search of The Perfect Investment Newton's In Search Of The Perfect Investment. Technology Investor.

Previous Columns
8:30 AM EST Thursday, February 1, 2007: Time to look in your own backyard for today's best investments -- distress housing and cheap land. The housing boom is busting as banks retrieve houses (and land) from borrowers they never should have lent money to. Bought at the right price, the land and the housing will prove bargains. Trust me. My reasons:

Key one: Inflation in the housing business It's staggering. Everything costs more today than it cost yesterday. Far more. The replacement cost of good housing is skyrocketing. I know intimately. I'm building a new house. You will never be able to build for what you can buy distress today -- nowhere close. This alone will ensure housing is a great investment.

Second: No one is making new land. You can't even outsource its manufacture to India, or China.

Third, this time may be your last opportunity before the next housing bubble takes prices up again. The demand for housing is not dead. It's just ebbing. Remember someone has to eventually house those 150,000 new jobs we're creating every month.

1. Don't buy in an area you don't know.
2. The one-in-a-hundred rule applies. The people in the bank will get the first bite at distress property. What you see -- unless your brother works in your local bank -- may be a secondhand opportunity. One that no one else wants -- for a sound reason. Be wary of most of what you see.
3. Develop a check list. Run the property against it. Saves time. Tell your brokers what you're looking for and assure them you'll move fast.
4. Don't borrow heavily. Do not underestimate how long you might have to hold this property before you can sell it.
5. There are heavy carrying costs with real estate -- taxes being primary. But also the interest and principal on the loan you took out to borrow the property.

Delhi Belly and its solutions: Also called "The Internet as doctor." Son, Michael, goes to India, eats the local food in local restaurants. Gets "Delhi Belly," (also called "Montezuma's Revenge" in Mexico). It's an stomach upset with diarrhea. He panics, visits local doctor, who prescribes strong drugs. Son emails yours truly, "What's with these drugs?" I check them out on the Internet. None are permitted in the U.S. There are strong warnings on the drugs. I suggest son "tough it out." He does. Two days he's feeling better. Meantime, the lesson is simple: Before swallowing strange concoctions, check the Internet. You may be surprised what you'll find.

Yahoo! versus NetVibes. A personalized home page is typically the first thing your browser goes to when you first open it. They're good because they'll have news, stock prices, local weather, local movies and tonight's TV schedule. Walt Mossberg in today's Wall Street Journal waxes about NetVibes, a new competitor to Yahoo!. NetVibes is a nice beginning and a great potential competitor to Yahoo! I spent some time with both last night. Conclusions:

1. Everyone should have a personalized home. They're too useful not to.
2. Yahoo! is still better. It has more things you can put on your home page. But I really like NetVibes. It has things you can't get on Yahoo! -- including tying into Items you're watching on eBay. It looks prettier, too, and, thankfully, has no advertisements (yet).
3. You need to spend a little time configuring the front page you want. These things can be really useful. They save you going to a dozen different sites.

For NetVibes, click here. For Yahoo!, click here.

The Fed held interest rates steady yesterday: The stockmarket liked that and boomed. The Fed was optimistic. I think it has its head in the sand about not seeing excessive inflation. Next time it will tighten, I bet. Its entire statement:

Recent indicators have suggested somewhat firmer economic growth, and some tentative signs of stabilization have appeared in the housing market. Overall, the economy seems likely to expand at a moderate pace over coming quarters.

Readings on core inflation have improved modestly in recent months, and inflation pressures seem likely to moderate over time. However, the high level of resource utilization has the potential to sustain inflation pressures.

The Committee judges that some inflation risks remain. The extent and timing of any additional firming that may be needed to address these risks will depend on the evolution of the outlook for both inflation and economic growth, as implied by incoming information.

Daylight savings time extends: To note: This year Daylight Saving Time (DST) extends by approximately four weeks. In compliance with this provision in the Energy Policy Act of 2005, DST dates in the United States and Canada will start three weeks earlier (2:00 A.M. on the second Sunday in March) and will end one week later (2:00 A.M. on the first Sunday in November).

Twenty dollars:
On their wedding night, the young bride approached her new husband and asked for $20 for their first lovemaking encounter.

In his highly aroused state, her husband readily agreed.

This scenario was repeated each time they made love, for more than 30 years, with him thinking that it was a cute way for her to afford new clothes.

Arriving home around noon one day, she was surprised to find her husband in a very drunken state. During the next few minutes, he explained that his employer was going through a process of corporate downsizing, and he had been let go.

It was unlikely that, at the age of 59, he'd be able to find another job and therefore, they were financially ruined.

Calmly, his wife handed him a bank book which showed more than thirty years of steady deposits and interest totaling nearly $1 million. Then she showed him certificates of deposits issued by the bank which were worth over $2 million, and informed him that they were one of the largest depositors in the bank.

She explained that for the more than three decades she had 'charged' him for sex, these holdings had multiplied and these were the results of her savings and investments.

Faced with evidence of cash and investments worth over $3 million, her husband was so astounded he could barely speak, but finally he found his voice and blurted out, 'If I'd had any idea what you were doing, I would have given you all my business!'

That's when she shot him.

I need to tell someone:
An elderly man walks into a confessional.

Man: "I am 92 years old, have a wonderful wife of 70 years, many children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. Yesterday, I picked up two college girls, hitchhiking. We went to a motel, where I had sex with each of them three times."

Priest: "Are you sorry for your sins?"

Man: "What sins?"

Priest: "What kind of a Catholic are you?"

Man: "I'm Jewish."

Priest: "Why are you telling me all this?"

Man: "I'm 92 .... I'm telling everybody."

This column is about my personal search for the perfect investment. I don't give investment advice. For that you have to be registered with regulatory authorities, which I am not. I am a reporter and an investor. I make my daily column -- Monday through Friday -- freely available for three reasons: Writing is good for sorting things out in my brain. Second, the column is research for a book I'm writing called "In Search of the Perfect Investment." Third, I encourage my readers to send me their ideas, concerns and experiences. That way we can all learn together. My email address is . You can't click on my email address. You have to re-type it . This protects me from software scanning the Internet for email addresses to spam. I have no role in choosing the Google ads. Thus I cannot endorse any, though some look mighty interesting. If you click on a link, Google may send me money. Please note I'm not suggesting you do. That money, if there is any, may help pay Claire's law school tuition. Read more about Google AdSense, click here and here.
Go back.