In 2007, back when buying houses seemed like a good idea, Seattle-area real-estate broker Howard Bono was leading the charge, telling everyone within earshot to buy, buy, buy! Now that the housing bubble has long since popped, forcing millions of people into foreclosure and doing untold damage to their credit, Mr. Bono is back. And once again, he's got some great advice.
Bono's original MO was supposedly helping people "become millionaires." His advice was that everyone should buy a second home and hold onto it for a couple decades, thereby guaranteeing a cushy retirement.
. . . Bono suggests, in addition to preaching everyday financial fitness, that people use property as a tangible investment for retirement.
His rationale? Real estate values in the Puget Sound region grow, on average, by 7 percent a year. Which means if you buy a second property and hold onto it for a couple of decades, its value is bound to grow to three or four times what you paid. In the meantime, the second home can be rented out for additional income to cover its mortgage.
So now Bono is sending out blast e-mails to brokers that tout his new business, which amounts to a consulting firm of sorts. He claims that he will "coach" people on how to deal with their underwater mortgages and get out from under the crushing weight of their unsustainable investments, like, say, a second home that they bought back in 2007 hoping to get rich.
From his e-mail:
We coach people who are underwater in their homes.
We don't do loans, we don't sell real estate.
We teach our members how to deal with their underwater homes.
If you have to deny a loan for an underwater homeowner, we are the next logical step for them.
Once you deny them, you're done. You can't help them. If you can't close it, you can't make a commission on it. On top of that, you may never get them back again.
Now you can tell your client that the banks don't have a solution for them but you do. You can refer them to the only company in the region that specializes in helping underwater homeowners.
The gist of all this isn't only that Bono is shamelessly offering mortgage advice to the very people who, if they had followed his previous advice, are likely in the midst of financial ruin. That, on its own, is laughable.
But, as Seattle Bubble points out, Bono is offering legal information, dressed up and charged for like legal advice. Information and advice are two very different beasts. And seeing where following Bono's advice got people the first go-round, it's difficult to see how anyone could trust either.
Plus, as a general rule, one shouldn't trust anything someone who looks like Ron Jeremy says unless it involves techniques on growing one's penis.