Forecasts, fallacies and fortitude …

As of this writing, the Fed hasn’t yet announced their economic forecasts or whether they’ll raise interest rates.

The talk on the street says the Fed will raise by 25 basis points (.25%).

History says a recession is coming … because 10 of the last 13 times the Fed engaged in a rate hike campaign, that’s what happened. They’re not particularly skilled at “soft landings”.

The Fed also has a dismal record for economic forecasts. They chronically see sunshine even when clouds are forming. But that’s not why Wall Street pays attention to them.

Day traders, hedge fund managers, and other players in the Wall Street casinos fixate on the Fed … hoping to be on the right side of whatever flow of cash results from anything they do or say.

Their mantra is “buy low, sell high” to generate cash flow. It’s a fast-paced, high stakes game perfect for adrenalin junkies.

It’s also a game which generates brokerage fees, highly taxable capital gains, and big bonuses. So both Wall Street and Uncle Sam love it.

Meanwhile, real estate investors sit off to the side … casually interested in what the Fed does … but much more concerned with collecting rent, watching expenses, and managing cash flow.

Cash flowing real estate is pretty boring. And super sexy. Like a faithful wife or girlfriend.

But if the Fed’s likely hike is signaling a higher probability of recession, what’s a real estate investor to do?

Here are some thoughts gleaned from a Business Insider article quoting legendary real estate investor Sam Zell

“Sure, I’m always looking for unlocked potential … but everybody wants to look at how good a deal can get. People love focusing on the upside. That’s where the fun is. What amazes me is how superficially they consider the downside.

For me, the calculation in making a deal starts with the downside. If I can identify that, then I understand the risk I’m taking. What’s the outcome if everything goes wrong? What actions would we take? Can I bear the cost? Can I survive it?”

Zell also says, “… taking risks is really the only way to consistently achieve above average returns … in life, as well as in investments.”

In other words, success is not about avoiding risk, but rather in understanding, accepting and managing risk … and only taking it on when the upside is worth it and you can afford the downside.

Here are some things for real estate investors to think about in preparing for the possibility of recession …

Consider increasing liquidity

Right now, there’s a lot of equity in both stocks and real estate. If you’ve got excess equity on your balance sheet, it could be an ideal time to convert some of it to cash.

Yes, it’s tempting to be fully deployed in good times. But if things slow down, cash is king. And if asset values fall, the market’s going to take the equity anyway. Better for you to grab it first.

Emphasize durability of cash flow

It’s a lot more fun to push rents to increase net operating income, and you should always look to optimize income. But earn it by delivering better value and not just by riding a hot economy.

If times get tough for your tenants, they’ll start looking for value. When they do, make sure they find YOU at the top of the list.

Look for ways to trim expenses, lock in solid tenants with competitive longer-term leases, and restructure debt with an emphasis on stability.

You may leave a little on the table, but consider it recession insurance.

Gravitate towards affordable markets

If recession comes, businesses and households will be much more aggressive in seeking value.

Once you know you’re competitive in your current markets, consider expanding your portfolio into markets that are likely to be popular with people and businesses looking to save.

Over-priced markets and properties will probably recede. While affordable markets and properties will likely benefit from increased demand.

Watch for “Sea Change”

Sometimes recessions are just bumps on the road of business-as-usual.

Sometimes recessions are part of a much broader transformation.

There are MANY things going on in the world which are far from business-as-usual. Like recessions, they can be unnerving, but they also create opportunity.

The dollar’s future as the world’s reserve currency, technology’s impact on labor, unprecedented global debt, the ascent (and now slowing) of China … are some of the many macro-factors we pay attention to.

Each of these has the potential to change the investing landscape in substantial ways.

Consider this CNBC headline …

‘Made in China’ could soon be ‘Made in the US’

“Contrary to widespread belief, China isn’t the cheap place to manufacture that it once was, and rising costs have been forcing manufacturers to explore new countries to make their goods.”

The article quotes the president of a Chinese textile firm …

“Add in the possibility of a lower corporate tax to as little as 15 percent, as proposed by Trump, and the U.S. becomes a no-brainer for many manufacturers …”

Could hard times in China lead to a resurgence of the U.S. rust belt?

Here’s the point …

Recession in and of itself isn’t necessarily a “bad” thing. It’s an event. In fact, it’s a regularly recurring event.

Recession isn’t necessarily universal or global. In other words, it doesn’t affect all industries, people or locations the same way at the same time.

A recession in one place can lead to a boom in another and vice-versa as people, businesses and money flow to and from challenges and opportunities.

Like winter, a recession is a season. It may not be as fun as the sunshine, but for the prepared it’s not a big deal.

Going back to the wisdom of Sam Zell … acknowledging the reality of the downside isn’t a reason to hunker down and do nothing. Doing nothing has its own downside.

The world is full of very real threats … and that’s GOOD. It creates movement from which pockets of opportunity emerge.

Because, as Sam Zell says “… taking risks is really the only way to consistently achieve above average returns …

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to become a well-informed and diligent risk-taker.

Until next time … good investing!


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The Real Estate Guys™ radio show and podcast provides real estate investing news, education, training and resources to help real estate investors succeed.

The future of growth …

Put on your thinking cap.  This one’s going to use some brainpower.  But if your investment plans involve money and the future, it’s probably worth the effort.

During our 2017 Investor Summit at Sea™, Chris Martenson warned that a financial system dependent on perpetual growth is unsustainable in a world of finite resources.

We’ll forego discussing “finite resources”, though there’s probably a lot of opportunity there.  The New Orleans Investment Conference is a great place to learn more.

For now, let’s consider “a financial system dependent on perpetual growth” … one of the most important, yet least understood, concepts about the eco-system we all operate in.

It’s simple, yet confusing.  Here it is in two sentences …

When dollars are borrowed into existence, the only way to service the debt is to issue more debt.  If the debt is paid off, the economy ends.

Imagine playing Monopoly and each player starts with $1,500.  With four players, the “economy” of the game is $6,000.  This “start” money comes from the banker.

New money is introduced two ways:

When a player passes Go and collects $200 from the banker … or when a player mortgages a property by borrowing from the banker.

Notice all the money to play comes from the banker.

So let’s MODIFY the game ever-so-slightly …

Let’s have the banker LOAN the start and payday money to each player at 10% interest per turn.

We still have four players starting with $1,500 each for an “economy” of $6,000.  But at the end of the first round, each player now owes the bank $150 of interest.

(We’ll forget about the additional payday loans … it just complicates the math and isn’t necessary to make the point)

But borrowing money into circulation creates three (hopefully) obvious problems …

First, there’s only $6,000 in circulation.  With total debt of $6,000 borrowed plus $600 of interest owed, it’s now IMPOSSIBLE to pay off the debt using only the money in the game so far.

And if the only way players get NEW money is borrowing, this creates a cycle of perpetually expanding debt.

Second, if each player paid ONLY the interest out of their $1,500 start money, after ten turns, they’ll have no money left at all.  But they still owe the original $1,500!

So you MUST GROW your asset base by more than the interest expense or you’re consumed by the debt.

Third, if all players try to free themselves from debt, they would take ALL the money in the game and give it to the banker, the game would end, and each player would still be in debt.

In this system, it’s physically impossible to extinguish the debt without extinguishing the economy and ending the game. 

Naturally, to keep the game going, the banker continually extends credit to the players.

It’s basically the way the global money system works and why people way smarter than us say it’s unsustainable.

It’s also like a Venus fly trap because any attempt to reduce overall systemic debt is deflationary, making existing debt even more burdensome.

Deflation means borrowers pay debt down with dollars worth more than those they originally borrowed.

Worse, any assets borrowed against have dropped in value.

Think of 2008 when the credit bubble deflated.  Property values fell, while the outstanding debt remained fixed.  Property owners were “underwater” (negative equity).

Meanwhile, the dollar was STRONG.  It took a whole lot LESS dollars to buy anything.

Everything was on sale and cash was king.  Lots of people got rich buying things with cash when others couldn’t borrow to buy.

Deflation is awesome when you’re sitting on cash.

You’d think lenders are happy to be paid back with better dollars.  And they are … IF they actually get paid.

But underwater borrowers often decide to default on the loan so they can keep their dollars.

So bankers HATE deflation.  No wonder the system they set up in 1913 demands perpetual expansion of debt and prices.

In fact, the Federal Reserve overtly targets 2% per year INFLATION:

“… inflation at the rate of 2 percent … is most consistent over the longer run with the Federal Reserve’s statutory mandate.”

Here’s the problem with perpetually expanding debt … it weakens an economy.

Sure, it drives inflation, but inflation weakens consumption.  When things cost more, people buy less.

Debt also requires interest.  Even at minimal rates, HUGE balances require big payments.

Interest on public and private debt take money away from production and consumption … causing both to shrink.  Just not at the beginning.

When first injected into an economy, debt gooses activity and provides a temporary high.

And as in our modified Monopoly game, once deployed, more NEW money is required just to keep the interest from consuming the economy. There’s a point where new injections produce diminishing returns.

Whew!  Thanks for staying with us.  Tape an aspirin to your forehead.

With that backdrop, consider this headline from Investor’s Business Daily

Here’s Why China’s Latest Growth Scare Should Worry You – May 30, 2017

Credit has been growing twice as fast as nominal GDP for years. The diminishing returns suggest that many loans are going to unprofitable ventures. They also signal that sustainable economic growth is far less than current growth rates. Such a rapid deceleration from the world’s No. 2 economy would sap demand and prices for raw materials such as copper, exacerbate overcapacity issues and act as a drag on an already-sluggish worldwide economy.”

Uh oh.  “Diminishing returns” and “deceleration” in the face of rapid credit growth.

When a junkie can’t get high, they either increase the dosage to the point of toxicity … or they wean themselves from the drug.

China is getting serious about weaning its economy off torrid credit growth, and data and financial markets already are showing early withdrawal symptoms.

Hmmm… sounds like they’re leaning towards weaning.  We like the addiction metaphor.

China and the United States are the two biggest economies.  What either does affects the world.

Right now, headlines say China is slowing its use of debt, which in turns slows its economic growth, with a ripple effect on other economies.

Meanwhile, the Trump Administration is talking bigly about reducing the deficit and debt. Will he do it? Can he do it?

Who knows? But if the global economic system sustains itself on ever-increasing debt. and the two biggest borrowers are going on debt diets … who’s willing and able to take on a bigger share of global debt?

And if no one does, then what happens to asset values?  Is deflation on the horizon?

Last question … then you can take a nap …

Would the Fed and other central banks allow deflation … or do they roll out QE4ever (quantitative easing) in an attempt to stop it?

Meanwhile, now seems like a good time to consider repositioning equity from properties and stocks with high asset values into properties with sober valuations and strong cash-flows.

After all, stocks and even real estate values might be a roller-coaster ride, but rents are more of a merry-go-round. Boring, but a nice place to hide when feeling queasy.

Until next time … good investing!


More From The Real Estate Guys™…

The Real Estate Guys™ radio show and podcast provides real estate investing news, education, training and resources to help real estate investors succeed.

Trump’s budget and your real estate investing …

In case you missed it, President Trump just announced his proposed budget. 

Two items caught our attention.

First, there are big cuts to social programs.  With 43 million people on food stamps and many of those being renters, there’s an obvious ramification for landlords.

As we said back in 2015, “…if the government subsidy goes away or is reduced…or if interest rates on your tenants’ consumer credit goes up…then it becomes even harder for them to pay you rent.

Hopefully, it’s both an obvious conclusion and one you’ve seen coming.  It hasn’t happened yet, but it’s inevitable because of the math behind the problems. 

So be cautious about a portfolio overly dependent on government subsidies.

But something else popped up which is perhaps less obvious … and more exciting.

President Trump proposes selling off half of the U.S. strategic oil reserve to raise cash to pay down the national debt.

We’re not here to say whether that’s a good or bad idea.  We’re not that smart. 

Besides, our orange Trump phone isn’t ringing, so the White House hasn’t asked our opinion anyway.

But when things are happening which have direct economic ramifications, we’re interested in how they might affect real estate investors.

It’s a bit of a rabbit trail.  But because oil is an impactful component of economic activity, we think it’s worth the effort. 

To start, the immediate benefit of selling the reserves is reducing interest expense.  This is especially beneficial when interest rates are rising … or threaten to.

Of course, money saved on interest can be redirected into paying down more debt … OR,  it could be used for investing into income producing activities and infrastructure.

Now we’re not inside Donald Trump’s head, but we are real estate guys. 

So we wouldn’t be surprised to see the president direct more money into income producing activities and infrastructure. After all, that’s how real estate guys think … we don’t spend, we invest.

Of course, this begs the question … what kind of activities and infrastructure are most likely to get attention, and what kind of jobs will they produce … and where?

Real estate investors want to get to popular places and product types BEFORE they become popular.

So putting on our orange comb-over thinking cap, we think the-real-estate-guy-in-chief wants to create domestic manufacturing jobs.  It’s just a wild guess … based on what he overtly says he wants to do.

But the challenge for a domestic manufacturing agenda … as our good friend Peter Schiff points out … is the factories and supply chains needed to support it have long gone to China to take advantage of cheap labor and lax environmental laws.

So while a viable long-range strategy might be to create a more factory-friendly environment in the United States … the U.S. needs good, solid middle-class jobs NOW … or as close to now as possible.

So what kind of industry would be ideal for creating U.S. based jobs fast?

It would need to be something that could ONLY be done in the U.S., so there’s no temptation to take the jobs off-shore. 

And ideally, it would be for a product with both domestic and global demand.  

After all, a nation can’t get rich selling to itself.  It needs to export.

Of course, demand would need to be big enough to make a real contribution to economic activity. 

And it would also need to be a product with supply and distribution chains which either already exist or could be ramped up quickly.

Hmmm … we think it all points to energy.

After all, the U.S. has huge oil and natural gas deposits.  So the jobs to harvest, process and distribute them would all have to be created right in the United States.

And even though global demand for energy ebbs and flows, the long-term need for energy grows steadily along with global population and economic activity.

Remember, it was the energy sector which dominated the post-2008 U.S. job growth.  Many real estate investors rode that wave … especially in Texas.

Price wars with Saudi Arabia curtailed that growth, but with the Saudi’s still hurting over the last oil price war, maybe they won’t want to get into another.

And if the U.S. oil strategic reserve “savings account” is low, Uncle Sam’s in a better position to step in and provide some extra demand if prices need a boost.

So if a Trump Administration is pushing a pro-energy agenda, it checks a lot of boxes, even though it may miff staunch environmentalists.

Again, we’re not advocating one way or the other. 

We’re just observing and speculating about what might be happening, how it might play out, and how real estate investors might find opportunity.

So we went digging in our news feed for any interesting developments in the world of energy. 

Here’s something we found a little off the beaten path … 

First Ever U.S. LNG Cargo Set Sail For Northwest Europe

LNG is Liquified Natural Gas.  And it’s headed to Europe … one of Russia’s biggest customers.  Interesting.

But more interesting is this quote from the OilPrice.com article, referring to a report by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) …

“According to the EIA, the U.S. is set to become a net exporter of natural gas on an average annual basis by 2018, due to declining pipeline imports, growing pipeline exports, and increasing LNG exports.

By 2021, four LNG export facilities that are currently under construction are set to be completed.”

Okay.  So this is probably a bazillion dollar business emanating from somewhere … where lots of people will need to do lots of work to make it all happen.  Jobs!

This took us on a hunt to find additional information about WHERE this LNG was coming from … because maybe those real estate markets are about to experience growth.

We found the EIA’s Annual Energy Outlook for 2017Actually, it was easy to find … because the OilPrice.com article linked to it.  Yeah, we’re sleuths.

The EIA report is 64 pages long with charts, graphs and maps.  On page 46, one map shows which U.S. regions they project to “lead growth in tight oil production.”

On page 60, there’s similar information about natural gas.

Now, we’re not saying these are treasure maps telling you where to invest in real estate. 

But it is a starting point for an investigation into where future job growth might occur … through natural economic forces, geo-politics, and a new U.S. administration eager to stimulate domestic production job creation.

But don’t just stop there.  Consider also the supply chain.

It takes big, heavy, expensive equipment and infrastructure to harvest, process, store and ship energy. 

These suppliers and sub-contractors might not necessarily be tightly geographically linked to the natural resources.  So look for them not by geography, but by working your way through the supply and distribution chains.

Because while energy production might create a surge of “primary” industry jobs, primary industry growth often gives rise to “secondary” (supply and distribution chain) jobs … sometimes in other areas.

Could this be the beginning of a resurgence of job growth in rust belt states? 

We don’t know.  But that’s another box President Trump would like to check, so it’s a development worth watching.

Until next time … good investing!


More From The Real Estate Guys™…

The Real Estate Guys™ radio show and podcast provides real estate investing news, education, training and resources to help real estate investors succeed.

Kiyosaki, Griffin and Black on Paying Attention and Choosing Wisely

Our latest show was recorded with you in mind – it’s a special one, unlike anything we’ve ever shared before! It takes place while cruising the open seas during our 15th annual Summit at Sea™.

You get to be a fly on the wall during an organic, non-scripted conversation with three of the world’s smartest experts in real estate and investing. (Lucky you!)

The way we see it, life is a buffet. And it’s up to you to choose wisely about what to put on your metaphorical plate. Our guests are here to help you choose the right portions. They will be dishing out juicy tips about how to get ahead of the game … and stay ahead.

In our latest show you will hear from:

  • Your bold Master and Commander, Robert Helms
  • His co-captain, Russell Gray
  • Mega bestselling author and investing expert, Robert Kiyosaki
  • Legendary author and film producer, Edward Griffin
  • International entrepreneur and founder of “Sovereign Man,” Simon Black

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The buffet is open

Every year at the Summit at Sea™, we witness an interesting paradox. Some of the brightest people gather onboard a beautiful cruise ship and we spend our time sharing wisdom and learning from each other.

But when we come out of our classes and go on deck, we see the other side of the coin. We see people lined up at the buffets and bars who are just waiting for things to happen to them.

“I call these people the victims,” Simon Black says. “The world is changing so fast. Demographics are changing. We have to make decisions on a daily basis about how to create capital. When you have uncertain times, there is something to be said about getting together with the tribe at an event like Summit.”

That’s is something we can all agree on: property sharing at its finest. Intellectual property, that is.

“The truth of the matter is all the great shifts in history have been driven by 1-2% of the population,” G. Edward Griffin says. “The rest were just followers.”

Look who’s talking

We all want to affect real change. Events like Summit at Sea™ are a catalyst for change. The power is palpable.

Ed, Simon, and Robert are three of our outstanding faculty members who use their life experiences to engage the minds of millions by creating valuable educational tools.

Ed’s work is astounding. His books, such as The Creature from Jekyll Island and The Fearful Master have changed how we think about the world around us.

Simon’s international entrepreneurship training teaches others how to make more money and keep that money, which ultimately increases personal freedom.

Robert is best known for his little purple book that continues to cause a financial revolution. Rich Dad, Poor Dad has been motivating people around the world to reshape their financial goals for 20 years.

History repeats itself

The best way to prepare for the future, whatever that may be, is to look to the past for answers to today’s economic and geopolitical questions.

“Everything that is happening has happened before to some extent,” explains Simon. “If we think about the Ottoman Empire, we see that the people existed to support the Empire rather than the other way around. I hope this isn’t our future, but we have seen similar instances in our own lives.”

Civilizations have come and gone. Ancient Rome. Babylon. Greece. Once thriving metropolises left in shambles because people weren’t willing to read the signs.

What are the signs to look for?

“We need to watch for the corruption of money,” says Robert.

As a kid, Robert would collect dimes, quarters, and half dollars because he had a suspicion money wasn’t exactly as it once was. Turns out, he was right.

“In Roman times they would steal silver by filing it off coins,” Robert says. “In 1964, the U.S. did a similar thing by using cheaper metals to plate the coins. And as a kid, I knew what was happening just by the looking at my money.”

Like Robert, we know human beings are intuitively smart about their money. Sometimes their education just needs a little fine-tuning.

“We are smart enough to read the signs,” Robert adds. “We know that when bad money comes into circulation, good money goes into hiding.”

Taxation without representation

What about the new hot-button topic? Taxes.

We want people to start thinking differently about taxes and their income in general. Once people can see innovative answers to basic questions about taxes, debt, capital gain, and investing, we’ll have a nation armed with the keys to success.

“Tax is one of my favorite topics,” says Simon. “Many people still believe the idea of paying taxes is moral. That we are somehow morally obligated to pay. But if we look, we’ll see an overwhelming level of waste and fraud.”

Robert has also been thinking unconventionally about taxes for years. And his financial journey ultimately turned his investments, savings, and other capital — maybe even the coins he collected as a kid — into millions of dollars.

“My whole game is to make millions of dollars while not paying taxes — legally, of course,” Robert says. “The reason the rich are getting richer is because they have no debt and they don’t pay taxes.”

Outsourcing our problems

Ultimately, what we want our listeners to gain from hearing these experts is they have the power to choose. With education and proactivity, they can earn millions, find true success, and make the world a better place.

Today’s problems might reflect our past, but they don’t have to be our future. We CAN’T sit back and let the changes just happen. We CAN’T outsource. We have to be it all — the manager, CEO, and owner of our destiny.

We have to think differently. Past generations may have faced similar issues to our current wealth gaps, stock inflation, and housing bubble, but it’s our job to discover new answers.

At the end of the day, we’d say humanity is something you can always bet on …

… and take straight to the bank.

“I think all the trends point out that we are on the verge of a financial emergency,” Ed explains. “But the root word of emergency is emerge … and those who plan and think will emerge from the rubble better than before.”

The sweetest reward

The buffet of life is spread across the table and you get to choose your reward. So will you take the Jell-O or go for the crème brûlée? There is no better time than now to take control of your life. And there is no better way than joining us and other field experts at our next annual Summit at Sea™ event.

To learn more about upcoming registration, please visit our website for information about the advance notice list.


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The Real Estate Guys™ radio show and podcast provides real estate investing news, education, training and resources to help real estate investors succeed.

Weird happenings and the squish factor …

We got a fascinating boots-on-the-ground report from a friend of ours traipsing about Hong Kong … and no, this isn’t about Hong Kong.

“My Big Short moment …” was the subject line.

“The Big Short” refers to Michael Lewis’ book and the recent movie of the same name, which both tell the tale of events leading to the 2008 financial crisis.

Our friend went to an “open house” for a pre-development condo tower. Prices STARTED at $700,000 USD for a 216 square foot condo. Crazy.

Non-Hong Kong residents pay an ADDITIONAL thirty-percent “speculation” tax. Ouch.

We’re guessing government is trying to discourage global hot money from bidding up properties and pricing out locals who need places to live.

Our friend reports these condos are only fetching $2,000 per month rent. Even with today’s low interest rates, those numbers make NO sense.

Nonetheless, our friend says bank financing is available … with 40% down.

Apparently, the banks aren’t completely insane.

However, he says the developer is offering much more attractive 30-year, 15% down, “teaser rate” financing. It starts at prime less 2% for years 1-3, then prime less 1% for years 4-5, and then prime plus 1% for years 6 forward.

Now, for those around pre-2008, these loans sound hauntingly like the infamous 2/28 loans which triggered the mortgage meltdown.

But it gets better.

Apparently, the demand for these tiny, grossly expensive condos is so high, the developer set up a lottery system for buyers.

A prospective buyer must pay $100,000 HKD to enter for the CHANCE to buy a unit. And there’s nearly THIRTY wannabe buyers for each unit!

Does all that sound just a tad overheated?

Of course, Hong Kong’s not the only place real estate values are out of control. Last week, we made mention of growing concerns about Canada’s housing boom.

Does this mean real estate investors should hibernate until things calm down?

We don’t think so. But we certainly aren’t suggesting anyone buy into over-heated markets or product types.

So what’s going on?

When an economy gets flooded with cheap money, prices get bid up because the ratio between money (technically currency) creation and product creation favors money.

More money chasing the same goods means prices rise.

But prices don’t rise everywhere on every item across the board. It depends on who gets the cheap money and what they do with it.

There’s a bazillion factors affecting how excess money gets into circulation. No one really knows for sure where it’s going to pop-up.

We call this “the squish factor.”

If you squeeze a water balloon that has enough elasticity, it will squish out between your fingers … somewhere. But you don’t always know where.

And if you push it back in one place, it pops out another. Again, you don’t always know where.

Speculators try to guess where it’s headed, and front-run it. They’re called the “hot money”. Their goal is to get in and out early, and let the late-to-arrive and late-to-leave crowd take the lumps.

And you never know where the next bubble will pop-up … or recede.

The reason bubbles recede is because there’s nothing REAL underneath them creating value.

So when the hot money leaves to front-run the next asset class, the air comes out of the current bubble … and it’s pricing recedes to the true value based on income.

The big short of it (sorry, we couldn’t help it) is … value is based on income.

Rents of only $2,000 per month can’t possibly justify a $700,000 value. All the excess value is from hot-money “air” … and the only exit is the greater fool or the poorhouse.

So what’s an investor to do?

First, let’s make a distinction between an “investor” and a “speculator”. The former focuses on cash-flow, while the latter focuses on capital gains without adding value.

“Investors” use currency to acquire assets which produce cash flows. Acquiring assets is the objective.

Conversely, “speculators” trade assets to acquire currency. Acquiring currency is their goal. Buy low, sell high, collect currency. Repeat. The cash flow comes from the sale of assets, not the holding of assets.

By those definitions, an “investor” would NEVER buy one of those Hong Kong condos. The numbers preclude it. They just don’t make sense.

But hot money speculators will … and apparently are. At the margin of the hot money is the dumb money. The dumb money gets in and out late … if they can get out at all.

We know. We’ve done it. It’s VERY tempting because the profit can be BIG and FAST. And when you win, it feels GREAT. But …

So, YES … it is possible to make HUGE gains getting in and out of a bubble asset. Be it stocks, bonds, commodities, currency or real estate.

It’s also possible to make a lot of money in a Ponzi scheme or at the craps table. But it’s not investing.

We’re NOT saying capital gains are bad. Far from it! We LOVE equity. But REAL equity comes from CASH FLOW and holds up MUCH stronger when the tide of hot money recedes.

So while speculators are drunk with cheap money in the bubble casinos … sober investors are poking around boring markets looking for cash-flows and value-add opportunities with multiple exit strategies.

The great news is cheap money spends just as well in the boring markets and product types, but there’s no hangover after a binge. Values up. Values down. Cash flows fairly steadily.

With all the weird happenings in the global financial markets, it’s more important than ever to stay sober and focused on finding real value … markets with sustainable drivers and nice boring cash flows.

The irony is that when the air comes out of the over-heated markets, some of the hot money will flow into those boring markets. Which is a fun ride for those already there.

Meanwhile, many of those markets aren’t over-crowded … yet.

Until next time … good investing!


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The Real Estate Guys™ radio show and podcast provides real estate investing news, education, training and resources to help real estate investors succeed.

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