Anyone looking for a strong shot of unvarnished reality need look no further than Patrick Bet-David. The California-based financial services adviser is to romantic notions — like homeownership and dating — what sunshine is to fog.
Thank you for reading the MtDemocrat.com digital edition. In order to continue reading this story please choose one of the following options.
If you are a current subscriber and wish to obtain access to MtDemocrat.com, please select the Subscriber Verification option below. If you already have a login, please select "Login" at the lower right corner of this box.
Special Introductory Offer
For a short time we will be offering a discount to those who call us in order to obtain access to MtDemocrat.com and start your print subscription. Our customer support team will be standing by Monday through Friday, 8am to 5pm to assist you.
If you are not a current subscriber and wish not to take advantage of our special introductory offer, please select the $12 monthly option below to obtain access to MtDemocrat.com and start your online subscription
His outlook may be just what America needs.
“I was sold an American dream,” said Bet-David, who immigrated with his family from Iran in 1990. “What I saw as an immigrant was a place we could have freedom of religion, and run a business in a free market with free enterprise.”
And today at age 34 Bet-David owns The PHP Agency, a financial services firm he founded four years ago, which has 30 employees and 200 full-time independent contractors nationwide. Bet-David does very well.
He also rents his home.
“My employees come over and wonder, ‘Why does our CEO rent his house?’” he says.
Because he’s following his own financial rules, that’s why. One of those rules: Just because you have the money, doesn’t mean you should buy a house.
His wife of nearly five years knew early in their courtship that owning a home was not going to be part of the plan for a long time. That discovery occurred shortly after their second date. They went to church, then to breakfast, then to a bookstore where he bought her a book: “101 Questions to Ask Before You Get Engaged.”
Talk about cutting to the chase. “I figured, I liked her, she liked me, so let’s flush out any problems before some deal breaker comes up a year from now.”
I’m telling you, this guy is practical in the extreme. “After that, I knew I would marry her.”
His no-nonsense approach to courtship applies to home buying, too: Logic first, emotion second.
“I’ve worked with thousands of families struggling to make house payments, which leads to arguments, all because they bought a house prematurely and spent too much,” said Bet-David, who wanted no part of that.
Because lately I’ve been hankering to buy a home again, I thought I’d call Bet-David for a reality check. For the first time in more than two decades I am not living in a home I own. However, I do own a home in another state, which I rent out, making me both landlord and tenant — as well as crazy.
“While I like having the flexibility of not being tied to a house,” I tell Bet-David, “being a tenant just isn’t the same as owning. I want to paint my way, add built-ins and moldings, put up window treatments, plant a garden, have a dog, get to know the neighbors, nest.”
He’s heard it all before.
“What you’re doing — owning a home you rent out and renting where you live — is perfect right now,” he tells me. “You get the benefits of a rising market, but can be nimble.”
“Perfect?” I’m not sure I heard right. That would be the first time anyone has ever used that word to describe my investment strategy.
“What you’re doing has a lot to do with the phase of life you’re in. Your kids are taking off. Your career is blooming. You’re charting a new course.”
“You think I planned it this way?”
“You’ve built houses from the ground up. You’ve bought and sold. Been landlord and tenant. You know about the different phases and stages of life and houses. I want to teach other people to do what you’ve done,” he says.
I can’t talk for laughing.
“I work with a lot of millennials just getting started. They think buying a house is the next thing to do. But they saw what happened to their parents.”
“Please tell me they learned something from the spend, extend, pretend era.”
“My message isn’t don’t buy a home,” he says. “My message is the American dream is not homeownership. The American dream is freedom.”
“I want both,” I said.
Bet-David is about to have both. In four months, he and his wife and their two sons, ages 20 months and three weeks, are moving from their rental home in Woodland Hills to a house they’re buying in Dallas. (He chose Texas partly because it has no state income tax so is friendlier to business.)
But he followed his own home buying rules, which are these:
Syndicated columnist and speaker Marni Jameson is the author of “House of Havoc” and “The House Always Wins” (Da Capo Press). Contact her through marnijameson.com.