By: Shmuel Shayowitz

Almost 300 people came out to experience the inaugural Kosher Money Live event this past week in Lawrence, New York. The energetic crowd was eager to learn from the experts discussing strategies to maximize their money. The evening was led by keynote speaker Naftoli Horowitz, Managing Director, Private Wealth Management, at Morgan Staley. Horowitz’s interview on Kosher Money quickly surpassed 1 million views and helped propel the podcast to the attention of Jews and non-Jews worldwide.

The panel discussions with Simi Mandelbaum, Mitchell Eisenberger, and Isaac Goldsmith provided a wealth of insights on money, investing, and financial disciplines. Unquestionably everyone left with multiple takeaways and a thirst for more. The networking before and after the event allowed guests to mingle amongst themselves and speak more freely with experts about their personal circumstances. The feedback was incredible, and the Kosher Money team is already in discussions to do similar events in Lakewood, Brooklyn, Teaneck, Baltimore, Cleveland, and Boca Raton – to name a few of the areas being scouted.

When introducing me for my presentation, Eli Langer, Kosher Money host, noted how the podcast and event received an exorbitant amount of inquiries about homeownership strategies and real estate investing, which were the focus of my talks. Indeed, owning a home is the “American Dream, “ which many strive to attain as quickly as possible.

When polling the audience, a majority of those in attendance were already homeowners, despite the relatively young age of the crowd. I discussed how most homeowners who bought a home over the past 10-15 years have only seen their home appreciate drastically, and it is without question the largest asset most people amass in their lifetimes. Most people fail to recognize, however, that their home is also the most significant liability they will unquestionably ever have. Furthermore, that appreciation is slowly stalling, so the playbook needs to change as well.

New data from First American Data show that 63% of outstanding mortgages in the U.S. have interest rates that start with 2 or 3%. An additional 20% have mortgages with a rate of 4% or less. After procuring the lowest mortgage rates in history, most homeowners have a “set it and forget it” approach regarding their home financing. Granted, with over 80% of the outstanding mortgages in the marketplace holding rates less than 4%, there is no reason to discuss refinancing opportunities. That said, in doing “annual financial reviews” with many of my clients, we uncover a myriad of financial benefits and improvements they can consider that help them continue to build wealth and maximize their equity.

When it comes to real estate investing, even in the transitional 2022 year, when rates more than doubled from their historical lows, one-in-six real estate transactions were for investment purposes – and still going strong in 2023. Most people have the preconceived notion that investing in real estate is only for the ultra-wealthy and uber-connected. That couldn’t be farther from reality. While some lack the funds and some lack the analytical prowess, anyone can get started with their real estate empire with a lot less than they think is necessary.

Overall, the Kosher Money Event left everyone with much to consider and new education to help further their fiscal journey. It was a great start, and just the tip of the iceberg to what I am sure will be so much more to come! Special thanks to Eli Langer, the team at KosherMoney, Yaakov Langer, Zevy Wolman, Simon Taylor, and the OU-Living Smarter Jewish team, who are each incredible with what they do.

Shmuel Shayowitz (NMLS#19871) is President and Chief Lending Officer at Approved Funding, a privately held local mortgage banker and direct lender. Approved Funding is a mortgage company offering competitive interest rates as well as specialty niche programs on all types of Residential and Commercial properties. Shmuel has over 20 years of industry experience, including licenses and certifications as a certified mortgage underwriter, residential review appraiser, licensed real estate agent, and direct FHA specialized underwriter. He can be reached via email at Shmuel@approvedfunding.com.

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