It’s that time again!

As we deliver daily ideas to you — with our usual unconventional slant — it’s inevitable you’ll have questions.

Good questions. Deep questions. Sometimes just fun questions.

And I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t take a few moments now and again to answer the questions that come up the most.

So that’s exactly what I’m doing today!

These are all real questions we’ve received. And if you ever have one you’d like to see answered, you can write to us at feedback@unconventionalwealth.com.

I really enjoy your emails.

Tax liens seem to be the ultimate investment. I am interested in your guide, but I have one question. 

Tax liens seem to be limited to the U.S.

I live in Denmark in the EU.

Is it possible for a European like me to invest in tax liens in the U.S.?

— Mikkel J.

Hi, Mikkel. Glad to hear you’re enjoying the newsletter. And that we’ve got a fan in Denmark!

I’ve got some good news for you: Tax liens on U.S. properties have zero restrictions based on location or citizenship!

In the U.S., anyone can own property. For that reason, anyone can purchase tax liens. As far as the local governments are concerned, they don’t much care where the money is coming from. They just want to get paid.

Now, there are a few things you should bear in mind if you’re investing from overseas…

  1. There may be added costs. If you don’t have a U.S.-based bank account, there could be extra expenses involved in paying for your tax lien. Whether you need to convert money into U.S. dollars, pay for wire transfers or cashier’s checks or do something else that isn’t included in the standard options
  1. You can’t attend live auctions. Some tax liens are only available at auction. And while leftover lots will go online, the best liens will get snapped up beforehand. Most of these auctions will have a phone or online component. But even with that in mind, time differences can create a headache
  1. It pays to be prudent. Finally — it’s much harder to do your due diligence on a property if it’s thousands of miles away. Google Maps Street View is a great tool, as are satellite photos and neighborhood review sites. But if you aren’t local and can’t check out a place in person, it pays to use extra caution.

As long as you bear these hurdles in mind — and prepare for them — there’s no reason you can’t invest in tax liens from anywhere in the world, no matter who you are.

My husband and I invested in tax liens through a tax lien agent. We did see some profit but are currently owners of an empty lot in another state, which we don’t want and have to pay taxes on, as well as mowing fees. And we cannot seem to even give it away! (This after about 12 years of off-and-on marketing.) 

— Lyn W.

Lyn, I hear ya. Tax liens are a great investment as long as you’ve done your research and know enough about the underlying property to determine if you want to actually own it.

Unfortunately, using a tax lien agent is not something we recommend — precisely because of your situation.

You see, tax lien agents get paid by moving tax liens. They are a volume business — they want to move as many tax liens as possible.

So their interest isn’t aligned with yours. They want to sell tax liens; you want profitable tax liens. There’s a subtle but vital difference. Strike one for tax lien agents.

Strike two — they are often brought in to move the least desirable tax liens. After all, the good ones are eagerly snatched up in early auctions or soon after being offered online. In many cases, it’s only the worst properties that wind up in the hands of tax lien agents.

And finally, because someone else is doing all the legwork, many investors don’t do their due diligence. Indeed — you might not even know what property you’re investing in until after you’ve already bought into it! Strike three.

What’s the worst that can happen? You get stuck with a lemon of a property like yours.

My suggestion — lower your price and get out of it, even if you take a slight loss. That’s better than getting bled dry little by little through yearly maintenance and taxes.

For the past year and half, I haven’t been able to work due to two painfully bad hips that were replaced in late February ’19 and late May ’19. During that time, I lived on my $45K of credit cards and Social Security.

The cards are maxed out. Now I’m $45K in debt, still not working, but recovering! Since I have no income, yet, other than Social Security, it’s impossible to acquire credit cards. True?

But I am taking courses (since last year) and joined AWAI. I started a business as a B2B and B2C writer for direct-mail letters, case studies, white papers and brochures, so there is light at the end of the tunnel. Any other advice? 

Thanks, again!

— Erika R.

First, congratulations on getting your new hips, Erika! I hope you’re feeling spry and back on your feet at this point.

Now, in answer to your question — you aren’t necessarily barred from getting a new credit card just because you don’t have any income showing…

What really matters is your credit score.

After all, there are plenty of trust fund babies who have never earned a dollar in their lives but still get the AmEx Black Card. Because trust fund babies tend to have great credit scores.

That said, if all your credit cards are maxed out, you probably don’t have a great credit score. After all, credit card utilization — the percent of your available credit that you owe as debt — makes up nearly a third of your credit score.

My advice — get your credit card balance back to zero. If you can’t get new credit cards to roll the debt over into using balance transfer offers, look into a debt consolidation loan through a company like Lending Club.

Banks and peer-to-peer lending services loan money out at much better rates than credit cards.

By taking your credit card utilization back down to zero, you’ll set yourself up to see your credit score rise. Which will give you much more wiggle room — in all sorts of ways — including the potential to add new credit cards.

As for the courses and further learning you’re doing — keep it up! And put as much of it into practice as you can.

The more potential income streams you have, the better.

Unconventionally yours,

Ryan Cole

Ryan Cole
Editor-in-chief, Unconventional Wealth

P.S. Want to learn more about how you can invest in tax liens — and reliably, predictably grab the best investments in the market? Check out our comprehensive guide, created by the No. 1 expert in the tax lien industry. You can grab yours here.

Ryan Cole

Ryan Cole is the editor-in-chief of Unconventional Wealth. He’s been covering the alternative investment space for nearly a decade and writing about finance and investment for almost 20 years.

Ryan has walked the walk for years, living a very unconventional life. He’s led snowmobile tours through the mountains of Colorado, settled in Japan for five...

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