When an actor finishes a stint on one of the most successful television shows of all time, you would expect him to sit back, travel and enjoy his well-earned riches. But when Wayne Rogers left MASH, where he portrayed the lovable Trapper John and – with Alan Alda’s Hawkeye – comprised one of the most-loved TV duos of all time, the last thing he did was sit on his laurels.
Instead, he became a Broadway producer, news contributor to the Fox Network and owner of multiple businesses, including several real estate subdivisions and commercial office developments in Florida, Arizona, California and Utah.
But when you talk to him about today’s real estate market, you won’t hear a laugh track or a punch line. Instead, you’ll get a no-holds-barred view of a market that he learned about, not through schooling or employment, but by reading. “Any moron can read,” he says – and reading the tax laws is how he gains the upper hand in his investments.
Rogers says that real estate is a hard asset – an investment with intrinsic value. Although the value may fluctuate with the economy, it will improve over an extended period of time. And with some seed money and a healthy dose of background knowledge, an investor can do well in the real estate market.
“My first venture was based on the tax laws of that time,” he says. If a buyer properly understood and took advantage of tax deductions and other incentives, “it basically meant you were in the property for free. That’s … how I got my first one.”
Since then, he’s taken advantage of other little-known investment laws, such as the Gulf Opportunity Zone Act. He explains, “It said that anyone who invested in an active business in the Gulf Zone could write off the investment in two years, so a friend and I bought some property in Tuscaloosa, Ala.”
Rogers says the biggest obstacle he has encountered in developing his real estate portfolio was the entitlement process. “We buy dirt and go to the planning commission and start the process, and that’s where you end up in a Kafka novel if you’re not careful,” he says. “When I developed a parcel in the California coast, I had to deal with 27 regulatory authorities, including the California Coastal Commission. It took three-and-a-half years to get property approved, and that was unusual. Today it would take seven to 10 years.”
If you’re interested in investing in real estate, Rogers advises buying an existing building with an existing lease. “[Start with] a small multifamily complex where the rents are stabilized, there is very little downside risk and you can project your cash flow,” he says. “You have to do your homework.”
Back in 1988, Rogers says he testified in front of the banking committee. “I could foresee that we were headed to a crisis allowing the banks to become commercial and investment banks; giving them unlimited lending power,” he says.
Looking at 2013, Rogers anticipates an improvement in the housing market, despite the current tight lending environment. He is disheartened to hear that young folks may be considering renting instead of buying. “It’s still a good investment and better than renting” he says.
The greatest deterrent to homeownership, in most people’s eyes, is the “entry fee.” Rogers says, “It prevents many people from owning a home. If everybody could qualify, [real estate is] a wonderful investment – the best you will make in your life.”
For more information on Rogers including an excerpt from his book, “Make Your Own Rules” (AMACOM Books, 2011), visit waynerogers.webs.com.