High housing prices continue to be a concern in many major markets.
While there are varying opinions on how to solve the problem, history says … and recent headlines concur … that adding fuel to the fire will be the likely “solution.”
Here’s how it works and why it’s likely to create a lot of equity right up until it doesn’t …
First, it’s important to remember prices are “discovered” when willing buyers and sellers meet in the marketplace and cut a deal.
Buyers want the lowest price and sellers want the highest. They meet somewhere in the middle based on the supply and demand dynamic.
When there are lots of buyers for every deal and a seller has the ability to wait for the best price, buyers compete with each other and bid the price up.
When there are lots of sellers relative to buyers, sellers compete with each other by dropping the price or offering more favorable terms and concessions.
Duh. That’s real estate deal making 101.
Of course, the real world is a little more complex … especially when you have powerful wizards working to manipulate the market for whatever reasons.
To our way of thinking, “capacity to pay” needs to be broken out of “demand” when looking at the supply and demand dynamic.
After all, if you’re crawling through the desert dying of thirst and you come across a vending machine with bottled water for sale at $100 per bottle, you’re probably willing to pay.
But if you don’t have any money in your pocket, limited supply and high demand alone don’t matter. You have no capacity to pay.
When it comes to housing, capacity to pay is a combination of income, interest rates, and mortgage availability.
To empower purchasers with more capacity to pay, you need higher real incomes, lower interest rates, money to lend, and looser lending guidelines.
Of course, these do NOTHING to help make housing less expensive.
In fact, they actually make housing more expensive because they simply increase the buyers’ ability to pay MORE.
Yet, this is where the wizards focus their attention. And to no surprise, they have an excellent track record of creating real estate equity (inflating real estate bubbles).
And that’s exactly why real estate is such a fabulous hedge against inflation.
While renters watch prices run away from them, owners ride the equity wave up … and up … and up.
And when paired with debt, real estate becomes a super-charged wealth builder … growing equity much faster than inflation, while still hedging against deflation.
After all, if you put $20,000 down on a $100,000 property and the price falls to $80,000 and NEVER recovers … eventually the tenants pay the property off.
Now your $20,000 investment has grown to $80,000 … even though the property deflated 20 percent.
But it’s hard to imagine any serious sustained deflation will hit real estate absent a catastrophic sustained economic collapse.
Of course, it’s probably smart to have some cash, gold, and debt free real estate as a hedge against catastrophe … but probably not the lion’s share of your portfolio.
That’s because the history and headlines favor higher prices over the long haul.
This brings up a very important point for every serious student of real estate investing …
The ONLY real way to truly lower housing prices in the face of growing population is to increase supply.
But there’s NO motivation for the wizards to reduce housing prices.
They’ll SAY they want to, but they can’t deliver.
Think about it …
No politician wants to face home-owning voters who are watching their home values fall.
No banker wants to have a portfolio of loans secured by homes whose values are falling.
And in spite of their sometimes-public spats, politicians and bankers have a long track history of working together to enrich and empower themselves.
So does it make sense that politicians and bankers are really going to do anything meaningful to cause housing prices to fall?
We don’t think so. All the motivation is to cause housing prices to rise.
And as we saw in 2008, on those rare occasions where housing prices fall, bankers and politicians rally to revive them as quickly as possible.
Your mission is to structure your holdings to maintain control if prices take a temporary dip. And of course, positive cash flow is the key.
Meanwhile, the Wizards are hard at work to make expensive housing more affordable …
Are these acts of frantic Wizards desperate to keep the equity rally going into an election year? Maybe.
But until and if a total financial crisis happens again (which you should be diligently prepared for) …
… we think the bubbliest markets will see softness, even as nearby affordable markets increase as priced out home-buyers migrate.
Nonetheless, keep in mind that real estate is not an asset class … even a singular niche like housing. Every market, property, and deal is unique.
So it’s possible to find deals in hot markets, and it’s possible to overpay in a depressed market. Think big, but work small.
And while the financial media complains about over-priced housing and rings the bubble bell, consider that if housing remains unaffordable to buyers, it only creates more demand for rentals.
The properties you lose the most on are the good deals you pass on because you’re focused on price and not cash flow.
Is the housing boom … like the stock market boom … late in the cycle? Probably. But that doesn’t mean there’s not a lot of opportunity out there right now.