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I’m 66, own 5 properties, and wonder if selling might offer ‘a better retirement than being a landlord.’ But I’m struggling to find an adviser to help who isn’t ‘trying to sell me’ something. What should I do?


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Question: I’m looking for a financial advisor who’s not looking to just sell me some annuities or equities. I have five properties; three are not producing as they should because they’re in a tough location, so I’m looking to see if liquidating them would provide a better retirement than being a landlord. I’m 66, not yet collecting Social Security, which will be fairly low as I took losses for several years as I renovated these properties and kept experiencing vacancies due to eviction. Two of the properties however are in the Boston area and are just condos but they would provide good basic income. One problem I have is being able to finance a place for myself to live once I liquidate the other properties. What should I do? (Looking for a new financial adviser too? This tool can help match you with an adviser who might meet your needs.)

Answer: First up, it sounds like you need to find a financial adviser who has experience helping clients make decisions with their real estate — and who can also help you create a comprehensive financial plan for yourself. “Real estate decisions can be difficult because they often involve timing, weighing the pros and cons of keeping and maintaining properties for income versus selling them, determining the amount of cash to have on hand for the uncertainties of real estate ownership, figuring out tax questions and other factors related to your planning needs,” says certified financial planner Jud Mallini of Together Planning. That said, some advisers are versed in this, and can help you build a plan and take into account the cash flow and risks of real estate, pros say.

Not only do you want a person with real estate and comprehensive financial planning experience, you may want an hourly or project-based adviser. The reason? Someone working under the assets-under-management (AUM) model might be more inclined to earn their fee based on how much money they’re managing for you.

Looking for a new financial adviser too? This tool can help match you with an adviser who might meet your needs.

To avoid getting hawked annuities, you may want to find a fee-only adviser working only for a Registered Investment Advisor (RIA); an RIA has a fiduciary obligation to clients to only give investment advice in the clients best interest. RIAs can’t sell annuities, stock options or bonds the way broker-dealers or insurance companies can. “This should prevent the sale of annuities. Regarding equities, I am assuming you are referring to a broker selling securities on commission and again, an RIA will not do this,” says certified financial planner Sam Rouman of BerganKDV Wealth Management. (This guide offers 15 questions to ask any adviser you might hire.)

Have an issue with your financial adviser or looking for a new one? Email

Whatever adviser you choose, work with someone who can provide you with objective advice and prepare different scenarios. “It’s important for you to see the impact of your cash flow in the short-term and long-term. A CFP professional can work with you and your tax adviser to determine the impact on your cash flow and taxes based on your decisions,” says certified financial planner Marguerita Cheng. They also should be able to perform an analysis on these properties to determine the return on equity (ROE). “That analysis will help direct decisions on assets, income and Social Security,” says certified financial planner Daniel Forbes of Forbes Financial Planning.

Be sure you get a feel for whether a potential adviser’s values and mission align with what you need. “Interview three of them. Your odds of getting the advice you need are good,” says Mallini. (Looking for a new financial adviser too? This tool can help match you with an adviser who might meet your needs.)

Have an issue with your financial adviser or looking for a new one? Email

The advice, recommendations or rankings expressed in this article are those of MarketWatch Picks, and have not been reviewed or endorsed by our commercial partners.

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