4 Important Real Estate Lessons From the Super-Rich

Story Highlights
  • Lesson #1 - Be willing to pay for professional advice
  • Lesson #2 - Take full advantage of the tax code
  • Lesson #3 - Use the government programs
  • Lesson #4 - Be careful of emotions clouding your decisions

Quite a number of years ago, I read an article about the aggressive (yet legal) tax reduction strategies of Mr. Ronald Lauder (Estée Lauder’s son). It made me realize how the tax code is used quite differently by the top 5% than for the remaining 95% of the population.

Bottom line: these super-rich not only have cash but also access to the many loopholes and advantages hidden in the tax code.

How about, “if you can’t beat them, learn from them” line of thinking then?

Here are the 4 real estate lessons we can learn from the top 5%:

Lesson #1 – Be willing to pay for professional advice

It truly is amazing how many buyers, sellers, and homeowners I talk to who said to have received their real estate advice or knowledge from their neighbours, parents, or in-laws.

This is without even bringing up those who heard something on the news the night before or read some headline in the paper.


There’s no doubt in my mind that Mr. Lauder has a small army of accountants and attorneys in service, helping him with his tax issues.

So, why shouldn’t we hesitate to get some solid professional advice on real estate, bonds, or tax law when very important financial matters are about to be decided on our end?

Lesson #2 – Take full advantage of the tax code

We all dread doing our taxes. Most of us probably wait till the last week before the deadline to have a closer look. Sure, it’s complicated and ‘no fun’ with all its exceptions.

Mr. Lauder has reportedly deferred hundreds of millions of Rand in taxes by using the loopholes in donating art to his own (charity) foundations, hereby deducting millions of property taxes in his real estate portfolios.

How about we make an effort or ask for tax advice next time we have a property write-off question? Or property rental deductions? Or work-related expenses?

I’m sure we’ll be surprised by the number of deductions available to us that we were not aware of.

Lesson #3 – Use the government programs

When the major banks worldwide started to get into serious trouble about a decade ago, their executives were throwing their hands up in the air, crying foul or innocence or whatever.

It resulted in those banks getting billions of Rands in government bailouts. Yet, many individuals who were hit by the economic crisis that ensued, with a lot less to lose, relatively speaking, were struggling with bond repayments on their homes.

More recently, many of us are trying to cope with the COVID-19 effects on our businesses. How can we alleviate some of the financial pain?

Why not research which (government/bank) programs are available to you as a homeowner in such situations?

Lesson #4 – Be careful of emotions clouding your decisions

The majority of people (which happens again to be that 95%) cannot emotionally remove themselves from their homes, despite fighting a losing financial battle, where all the data are contradicting otherwise.

On the other hand, the 5% will realise what’s going on and remove themselves from the situation, by for example divesting in a house or lowering the sale price of their home, if it makes business sense.

Easier said than done, I agree, but if you see how these 5% people are almost making money through the housing debacle, they must be onto some truth there.

A short-term sacrifice for a long-term financial good.

About the author: The above article 4 Important Real Estate Lessons from the Super-Rich was written by Xavier De Buck, your top-producing Johannesburg real estate agent with Keller Williams Realty. Xavier has been nationally recognized and awarded for providing service excellence, exceptional property sales, whilst exhibiting the highest level of professionalism. With over 17 years of combined experience as a real estate agent, real estate investor and landlord, if you’re thinking of buying or selling a home in Johannesburg, Xavier would love to share his property knowledge and expertise.

Make sure to connect with him via his favourite social media platform: Instagram.

© 2020, Xavier De Buck. All Rights Reserved.

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