Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Suzie Orman and Her Wife Pay Cash and Live Small

With interest rates as low as they are and current housing prices fairly low, this is one of the very few times I consider it okay to borrow heavily to buy a house, That said, there is nothing wrong with paying cash.  WSJ profiles the house buying formula of CNBC's Suzie Orman:
The Plaza Hotel’s most prized apartments offer sweeping views of New York’s Central Park. Suze Orman wasn’t sold.

Instead, in 2007 Ms. Orman and her wife, Kathy Travis, bought a 1,275-square-foot apartment in the Plaza that faces the courtyard for $3.6 million. “The same apartment on the other side with park views was $3 million more,” Ms. Orman explained...

Ms. Orman, the 63-year-old personal finance expert and television personality, has made a name for herself giving Americans straight-talking, tough-love advice on saving money, investing cautiously and not overspending. Her oft-repeated mantra: “People first, then money, then things.”

She takes a similarly pragmatic approach to her portfolio of properties, which includes a South Florida condo, a waterfront parcel in the Bahamas and a condo near Johannesburg, South Africa. Ms. Orman said she doesn’t try to invest in real estate, saying it isn’t “my forte.” Instead, she buys places she likes—often relatively modest homes in nice locations—and is willing to pay market rate for them. Despite current low interest rates, for her own homes she likes to pay cash. “If I can’t write a check for it, I can’t afford it,” she said...

When they bought their apartment in the Plaza Hotel—the building had just converted to condominiums—Ms. Orman said they initially found the grand-dame French Renaissance-style building, with its gold accents and white-gloved butlers, “too fancy.” They thought the apartment, in contrast, was too basic. Its heat and air-conditioning were delivered via metal wall units and it had cheap aluminum fixtures and finishes. “It was like a Motel 6!” said Ms. Orman.

Still, the Plaza had sentimental value—Ms. Travis, who grew up in New Jersey, had stayed there with her family—and both liked the building’s location and amenities, including room service, housekeeping and a high-end food court, which opened since they moved in. “It could be like a nursing home,” Ms. Orman joked. “But really, when you’re 63 you start to think like that!”

They spent almost a year renovating the space, and moved in shortly thereafter. Today, the one-bedroom feels like a plush pied-à-terre with thick white crown moldings and herringbone hardwood floors, and Venetian plaster and marble in the hall bathroom. There is a desk just off the living room, where Ms. Travis often works while Ms. Orman works on her laptop in the bedroom. A Murphy bed folds down from the wall of the living room.

Ms. Orman said she lowered the ceilings in the master suite and closet to install central heat and air-conditioning but left the living room ceilings high. “When you have a small unit, what gives it grandeur are the high ceilings.” Small closets have been added to hold everything from the couple’s china to leather-bound, first-edition copies of Ms. Orman’s books. She’s even stored her two Emmy Awards. “Suze can’t live with clutter,” said Ms. Travis, 62, who is also Ms. Orman’s manager.

1 comment:

  1. The government lied to her, she still isn't married.