This week I met Sam who has been an astute real estate investor over the last 7 years. He’s been strategic about his real estate purchases, focusing on good locations and positive cash flow.

Although he’s retired, Sam still has a significant mortgage of $250,000 on his primary residence and carries a secured-line-of credit (SLOC) of $70,000.  Don’t be surprised at this debt level, because more and more baby boomers are not paying-off their mortgages before they retire.  In this case, Sam went through a divorce almost 10 years ago where his assets where divided, which is the main reason he still carries a mortgage.

The great thing about Sam’s situation is that he has a stable teacher’s pension and he’s done a good job at managing his real estate investments.  He has enough equity in his real estate investments to pay-off his secured line-of-credit. This SLOC could be an issue in the future, given that rates on SLOC’s show a 10-year historic average rate of about 6%.

Sam’s meeting with his accountant this week to determine how to minimize the tax implications of this restructuring.  But I’m a big believer of using the equity in your real estate to help your personal finances, while still maintaining a positive cash flow on the properties.