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Grant Cardone says buying a home is a ‘terrible investment’ — uses Elon Musk and Warren Buffett’s unique housing situations to make his point. But would the billionaire investors agree?

Grant Cardone says buying a home is a ‘terrible investment’ — uses Elon Musk and Warren Buffett’s unique housing situations to make his point. But would the billionaire investors agree?
Grant Cardone says buying a home is a ‘terrible investment’ — uses Elon Musk and Warren Buffett’s unique housing situations to make his point. But would the billionaire investors agree?

Real estate investor Grant Cardone has once again taken a swipe at homeownership — one of the cornerstones of the American dream — calling it a “fantasy,” a “trap” and a “terrible investment” in an interview with Moneywise.

His comments followed a controversial Instagram post — that he claims to have gotten “a lot of hate” for — where he wrote: “Buying a home without a doubt is the WORST investment people can make, yet it’s also the most common one.”

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What’s behind the multi-family real estate investor’s home-investment vendetta? He says: “A house is never going to pay you. You're going to pay the house and keep paying the house” — adding that the four walls of your family home are never going to make you rich.

“If you look at Elon [Musk] … or Warren Buffett and ask them how they got wealthy, none of them mention their house,” he says. “Elon doesn't even own a home today [and] Warren owns one home.”

This is a somewhat skewed view, given that Musk and Buffett are two of the wealthiest people on the planet, who made their riches through business enterprises and investments. For them, a house is a small purchase — but for the average American, it could be the biggest investment you make in your life. Here’s where they all stand on homeownership.

Cardone says a home is ‘not a good investment’

In Cardone’s opinion, “under no scenario” would a home investment outperform investing in the S&P 500 or in gold, cryptocurrencies or even his wheelhouse of commercial real estate.

However, it’s important to remember that such blanket statements on investing should be taken with a grain of salt as the performance of any asset — whether real estate or traditional stocks and bonds — depends heavily on market conditions, the price at which you buy and sell, the timing of your investment and many other factors.

It’s also worth taking the advice of these gurus and experts with caution in general — but especially when they’re promoting specific products. Cardone has been the subject of litigation in recent years over allegations of misleading investors and followers while promoting products that ultimately fell short of the promised returns. However, this most recent of the two class-action lawsuits that have been brought against the investor in recent years was dismissed by an LA judge in October.

Cardone calls out people who think buying a home for $100,000, living in it for 20 years and then selling it for $200,000 is a financial success story.

“You forgot about the property taxes [you paid] for 20 years,” he says. “You forgot about the interest rate of 7% for 20 years. You forgot about the maintenance, the upkeep, the problems, the situations, and the fact that you lost your mobility for those 20 years.”

The real estate mogul says he regrets buying a house, aged 28, with a 30-year mortgage — because his dad and “some financial planners said [he] should own [his] own home.”

“It's crazy! I wouldn't take a loan to grow my business, to grow my marketing, to hire employees, to buy machinery [or] to expand my brand. I would not borrow money to do that — [despite] knowing it will produce income,” he says. “But I borrowed money — [and] not a short-term loan — to own a house.”

He points out homeownership had no impact on his ability to build a business and create wealth — instead, he sees it as a financial “trap.” But would Buffett and Musk agree?

Read more: Thanks to Jeff Bezos, you can now use $100 to cash in on prime real estate — without the headache of being a landlord. Here's how

Warren Buffett’s house of ‘memories’

Buffett, aged 93, has lived in the same modest home in central Omaha, Nebraska, for 60-plus years. He paid $31,500 for the five-bedroom family home in 1958, which is around $329,194 in today’s dollars.

To Cardone’s point, Buffett didn’t generate enormous wealth through his house — and yes, he does have a lot of “money in investment vehicles that can pay him,” as Cardone put it.

Currently the sixth richest person in the world — with an estimated net worth of around $114 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index — Buffett made his billions through his multinational conglomerate company Berkshire Hathaway (BKR.B) and his long-term investments in companies like Apple (AAPL), Bank of America Corp (BAC), Chevron (CVX), The Coca-Cola Company (KO), and American Express Company (AXP).

But that’s not to say the home he bought 65 years ago wasn’t a good investment. In fact, unlike Cardone’s position of regret, the so-called Oracle of Omaha still describes his home as one of his best investments.

According to Zillow estimates, the property — which is just a five-minute drive from Berkshire Hathaway’s corporate headquarters — is now valued at about $1.2 million. But for Buffett, the home’s value stretches beyond the dollar signs.

In his 2010 letter to Berkshire Hathaway shareholders, Buffett wrote: “All things considered, the third best investment I ever made was the purchase of my home, though I would have made far more money had I instead rented and used the purchase money to buy stocks. (The two best investments were wedding rings.) For the $31,500 I paid for our house, my family and I gained 52 years of terrific memories with more to come.”

‘Will own no house’ — Elon Musk

Musk — currently the richest man on the planet, with a net worth of $195 billion — is an interesting case when it comes to homeownership.

Like Buffett, he reportedly lives a very minimalist lifestyle — to the extent that he famously tweeted in May 2020: “I am selling almost all physical possessions. Will own no house.”

He then started offloading his sizable real estate portfolio — which consisted of at least seven houses worth a combined $100 million, including six mansions in Bel Air — and he moved into a tiny rental home worth $50,000 in Boca Chica, Texas, where SpaceX’s development and testing site is located.

At the time, Business Insider reported some speculation that Musk sold his properties in the Golden State and moved to Texas to avoid a massive tax liability (of 23.8% by the IRS and an additional 13.3% by the state of California) after the sale of 10% of his Tesla shares.

He confirmed his housing situation in a 2022 interview with the non-profit organization TED, known for its popular TED Talks. “I don't even own a home right now,” he said. “I'm literally staying at friends' places. If I travel to the Bay Area, which is where most of Tesla engineering is, I basically rotate through friends' spare bedrooms.”

Regardless of why he sold his property portfolio, Musk clearly views his business interests as his most important assets. He uses his billions to invest in companies that he either started or controls. For instance, he currently owns a 12.95% stake in the electric vehicle maker Tesla (TSLA) — with his shares valued at just under $90 billion. He also invests in cryptocurrencies — with his favorite digital assets reportedly being Dogecoin (DOGE-USD) and Bitcoin (BTC-USD).

But most of Musk’s wealth is tied up in private enterprises like SpaceX, tunnel engineering company The Boring Company, neurotechnology start-up Neuralink and the social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter.

Cardone claims to take a similar approach with his business enterprises. He told Moneywise: “It’s simple for me. I own a number of businesses [and] I basically reinvest in all my companies.” And any money that's leftover, he then invests it in multifamily real estate.

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This article provides information only and should not be construed as advice. It is provided without warranty of any kind.