For more visit: A Professional’s View of Ray Lucia’s Non-Trade REITs
In 2010, radio talk show host Ray “Buckets of Money” Lucia threatened to sue me for $300,000 for defamation over a blog post on this website. My post pointed out Lucia’s relationship to a securities firm that paid $2 million to settle U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission charges.
Nothing ever came of the threats and, coincidentally, (or not?), Lucia shortly thereafter told the SEC that he would no longer register with them as investment adviser. Lucia still hosts his radio show and rounds up new clients at his free seminars with actor Ben Stein.
I was content to leave things alone until last week when I heard from a client of Lucia’s son, Ray Jr., who now runs the investment business started by his illustrious father.
This person, whom I’ll call Joe, is, runs a small home repair based business and is approaching retirement age. Joe attended one of Lucia Sr.’s “Buckets of Money” seminars 18 months ago and entrusted his money to Lucia Jr. He wishes he had read this blog beforehand.
Today, they are illiquid. About $80,000 of Joe’s money — 30 percent of his net worth — is locked away in real estate investment trusts (REITs) that aren’t traded on any exchange and therefore can’t be sold for years.
Joe’s wife is ill and may need to take early retirement, which leaves Joe wondering how he’s going to pay the bills.
For some retirees, REITs can be a good investment. REITs are required to repay at least 90 percent of taxable income to investors or the forfeit their tax exempt status. So, they are sort of function like bonds but with much better rates, something like 6 percent.
So what’s the catch? The REITs Joe is invested are non-traded REITs. This is an investment that can’t be sold for years — at least not without taking a big loss. FINRA, the financial industry self-regulatory body, last year issued an investor alert warning about the dangers of these non-traded REITs.
Both Ray Lucia Sr. and Jr. are big believers in these non-traded REITs. What they don’t tell you is that it’s a great deal for the folks at RJL Wealth Management. Brokers love non-traded REITs for the whopping commission a sale generates, which can range between 10 percent and 15 percent (!). If you really feel that you need a REIT in your portfolio, then buy a publicly traded one on Charles Schwab or some other online broker where the commissions run $8.95.
Joe never found out what the commissions were on his non-traded REITs including Behringer Harvard Multifamily I, which for years has combined high fees with poor performance. (For more, see reitwrecks.com’s Non-Traded REIT Forum.)
But that’s not all! For getting Joe in this predicament, RJL Wealth Management, Lucia Jr.’s company, collects a 1.9 percent fee — more salt on the wound. Buyer beware.