Real Estate: Why we're still living in the Dark Ages
Musings on Medieval Feudalism and the Business of Modern American Real Estate Ownership
Feudalism is alive and well in America and the world in general. We call ourselves "modern man" and somehow think we have evolved mentally beyond where we were a thousand years ago but the evidence is just not there. We may have much cooler toys than we did in the Dark Ages and we may have better health and a better standard of living but there is one concept that has remained the same; he who owns the land makes the rules.
I remember when I was young... I was obsessed with the Dark and Middle ages... Medieval Times. The days of Lords, Ladies, Knights and Kings. The days of peasants and serfs, castles and cottages. I remember reading about the serfs and thinking "wow, I'm so glad we live in a free country where this sort of thing doesn't exist anymore and we have the freedom to live and do whatever we want." Well that wan't necessarily the case.
For those of you who have never delved into the interesting world of the Middle Ages, here are a few concepts to get familiar with so you are not lost by this post:
Does that sound familiar at all to you? Fast forward to modern day United States of America. You need a place to stay closer to work so you jump on Craigslist.com or Apartments.com and seek out a place that is a bit more spacious and closer to your job. You'll only be paying your Landlord about 1/3 of your monthly income to stay there. It's in a nice apartment complex with an elevator. It has a security guard on staff and is super close to the local grocery store. The terms of the least state that you have to keep the common areas clean and a portion of your rent goes toward common area cleaning and maintenance.
We are living in a modern day Feudalistic Society. The importance of the Lord or Lady depends on the amount of "in demand" Real Estate that he or she owns. The Tenants (Serfs) pay tribute to the Lord or Lady on or before the first of the month... and if they don't, they will face exile from the land and may have a rough time finding another Lord or Lady to take them in.
Now, let's talk about the brighter side of things...
One of the huge advantages of the Modern Feudalistic Society that we live in is that we can actually choose whether we would like to be a Lord/Lady or a Serf.
When you decide to rent a place, you are a Serf. No questions about it. You are paying a Lord a large chunk of your money to live on his/her property.
When you buy a house to live in and use a mortgage for the purchase, you have made the decision to be a Serf. "But wait!" You may be saying. "If I bought the house, then I own the land and I am a Lord." Not unless you have paid off the mortgage. Until you pay it off, you are Serfing it up for the bank... oh yeah, and the tax man. Once your mortgage is paid in full though, you can't really be a Lord because you have no Serfs. So we'll call you a Baron.
Okay, so I'll buy a house to live in but I'll also buy a duplex to rent out to tenants. Now you are stepping in to the realm of the Lords and Ladies. You will have 2 Serfs under your wing.
The funny thing about modern day Feudalism is that even the Lords and Ladies tend to have a Lord or Lady above them, usually a bank, investor or mortgage company. So maybe we call the banks and lenders the "Kings and Queens" of our modern Feudalism.
There is no denying however the fact that a smart Serf can make his or her way into Lordship without investing much money or having been born in to that status. Those of us who started this game as peasants have a significant advantage over our historical counterparts and we can choose to leave this game as Lords and Ladies and give our children a head start in the world of Feudal America.
Would you like to learn how to become a landlord with little to no money? Tell me what you would like to read next in the comments below!
Dustin Nulf is an Associate Broker for Keller Williams Realty in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania. He has been in Real Estate Sales and Investing since 2008 and has had his hand in over 500 real estate transactions since then. Dustin is the CEO of The Dustin Nulf Team and acts as a coach, trainer, mentor and adviser to sometimes hundreds of agents a year.