MANY lessons from Amazon’s HQ2 search …

You’ve probably noticed Amazon is taking over the world.  There’s a lot we could say, but we’ll narrow our focus to lessons for real estate investors …

In the May Housing News Report, there’s an article about Amazon’s ongoing search for their second headquarters (HQ2).

Even from just a real estate perspective, Amazon is a fascinating company to watch.  There are SO many lessons to be gleaned from watching what they’re doing … and how the world is reacting.

In case you’re new to the Amazon HQ2 story …

In 2017, Amazon put out a Request for Proposal (RFP) to bait cities across the U.S. into falling all over themselves to win Amazon’s coveted second headquarters …

… and the 50,000 high-paying jobs (average salary = $100,000 per year) that come with it.  We commented on this story at the time.

At first, there were hundreds of cities in the hunt. We said at the time we think there’s an excellent chance Amazon will pick Atlanta.

Early in 2018, the race narrowed to 20 finalists … and Atlanta’s still on the list.

Which brings us to now …

In the Housing News Report article, there’s a link to an analysis by Daren Blomquist of Attom Data Solutions.  Daren ranked the 20 finalists by comparing the cities on certain criteria defined in Amazon’s original RFP.

It’s the same process we did, except Daren used actual data … we just guessed.

Here’s Daren’s actual chart for your viewing pleasure …

Notice Atlanta’s ranked #2.  So our hunch is holding its own … so far.

Meanwhile, there several useful things to glean from this chart and the story behind it, so let’s dig in …

Single family homes are NOT an asset class

We’ve said it a thousand times, but just look at the median prices.  They range from $130,000 in Indianapolis to $1.445 MILLION in New York.

When people say, “Housing is in a bubble!” … what housing are they talking about?  Indy?  Seems pretty cheap based on median price and affordability.

And when high-priced markets start hitting the top of their affordability range, people MOVE … to more affordable markets.  People ALWAYS need a place to live.

So while it’s true that migration patterns drive prices … demand rises or falls as people move in or out … it’s often economics that drive migration patterns.

So an alert investor can get in front of growing demand and ride a wave up. That’s exactly what the folks who got into Dallas five years ago have done.

Equity happens … but not evenly

Look at the disparity in five-year appreciation rates among these markets … from just 8% in Montgomery County to 246% in Dallas.  HUGE difference!

Even in markets where median prices are similar … say Dallas and Miami… the five-year appreciation variance is substantial … Dallas coming in at 246% and Miami at “only” 71%.

So price doesn’t seem to be the deciding factor for appreciation.

And neither does property tax … as Dallas is second highest behind New Jersey (hey, New Jersey had to win at something), but Dallas is still king of appreciation.

Meanwhile Denver has the lowest property tax … half of Atlanta … yet their appreciation rates were about the same.

And price-to-income ratios don’t seem to make the difference either … as Los Angeles and New York are both equally unaffordable, yet New York has half the appreciation.

Keep it simple …

Obviously, this is just one chart … and it’s easy to get lost in the weeds.  We don’t want paralysis from analysis.  So charts like these are just the start of a deeper dive.

But it doesn’t have to be complicated.  Here’s what we look for …

What do winners have in common?

Dallas and Austin are both triple-digit appreciators … even though Dallas grew at twice the rate of Austin.  Is it just simply they’re both in Texas or is there more to the story?

Of course, 10 years ago, Dallas was coming off being one of the slowest appreciating markets in the country.  So something changed that dramatically…

What’s driving appreciation?

Prices get bid up when supply is growing more slowly than demand with capacity to pay.

So though you can see affordability based on income on this chart, you can’t see supply and demand drivers.  Neither can you see the economic drivers.

But you need to look at them.

That’s why we say you can’t study 20 markets well.  It’s too much.  Use a chart like this to pick your top three … and get to know them very well.

What markets are poised for growth?

Once you understand what makes a market like Dallas tick … and how it went from no growth to explosive growth … you can watch for similar factors in sleepy markets.

When you spot something interesting, you go in for a closer look.  If things go your way, you get there before the masses … and you get to catch a rising star!

What are the big players doing?

Big players can do research you can’t.  But that’s okay because you can piggy-back on their hard work.  It’s like cheating off the smart kid in school, except you don’t get detention.

Amazon is a juggernaut in American business … and their power is impacting real estate of all kinds … retail, industrial, and even office and housing in markets where they have a footprint.

That’s why SO much attention is being paid to their search for HQ2.

But another reason to watch is they’re leaders in business decision making too.  Other employers are watching what Amazon does and being influenced by it.

So when Amazon ultimately picks a city, we’re guessing other companies will cheat off their homework … and pick the same city.

The reason we bet on Atlanta is because many other Fortune 1000 companies had already chosen Atlanta as a great place to set up shop.

We don’t know what process they went through to get there.  We just know they did.  So as Amazon goes through its process … they may reach similar conclusions.

Of course, Raleigh is also home to a comparable number of big companies.

But based on the world-class airport, huge labor pool, access to higher education, major distribution, and a business-friendly environment … though it’s close, we still think Atlanta has the edge.

Then again, Jeff Bezos isn’t consulting with us, so we’ll just have to wait and see like everyone else.

Meanwhile, as the field narrows, we’ll continue to learn where corporate leaders think the best location is for their businesses, employees, and new job creation.

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.

Ask The Guys – Unraveling the Mysteries of Real Estate

It’s one of our favorite segments … answering YOUR real-world questions about real estate investing.

In this batch of mail, we run through where to start with syndication and investing to how to think about self-directed retirement funds and everything in between.

As a reminder, our show is about offering ideas and information, but we are not legal or tax professionals and do not give advice. Always see a pro for advice on your specific situation.

In this episode of The Real Estate Guys™ show you’ll hear from:

  • Your problem-solving host, Robert Helms
  • His unraveling co-host, Russell Gray

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Question: I’m a real estate agent and would like to start investing for myself. How do I get started?

Kristen in Seattle, Washington, brought us this wonderful question. First of all, hats off to you for wanting to be your own best client!

Starting with the right education is so important and so is developing your network. You might consider joining an investment club, but you could also think even bigger and start your own!

Starting a syndication or investment club can be very successful if you surround yourself with the right people and experts. Here’s a few people you’ll probably want to include:

✓  A CPA to help with understanding tax benefits

✓  A mortgage broker to extract excess equity

✓  Other real estate agents … especially those with investment knowledge

You can convert your pursuit of education into a profitable business. Start by going to events with meetups and investment clubs. Remember, it’s not just the presenters who have a great story. It’s also the people in the seats. Make lasting connections with other attendees, and bring them into your network.

Question: Which materials … books and blogs should I read for getting educated in investing?

Our best advice to Luca in Croatia, who submitted this question, is to not just read a book … STUDY a book. Prepare your mindset to start thinking like an entrepreneur.

What does this mean? Find a group of people who are interested in investing, and get together and discuss a book.

You’ll learn by listening to what others have to say AND teaching different concepts. Repeat the process of learn, study, teach, and use these discussion groups to build your network.

Recruit people who are further along in the investment process than you to learn from them. You want to discover not only the technical aspects of what they do, but also how they think. Explore their mindset and examine how it makes them successful.

Question: I want to self-direct my retirement funds after I leave my job. How can I use this money to invest in real estate?

This question comes from Jason in Stokesdale, North Carolina. Some aspects of this type of investing can get a little tricky, so remember to always seek advice from a tax and legal professional.

For money that’s in a 401k from an employer, you might have access to what’s called an in-service withdrawal. You might also consider taking out a loan on your 401k.

As with any investment, make sure that the numbers add up, especially since there are important tax considerations to make when you’re investing borrowed money. This is also where a CPA will come in handy.

The vast majority of custodians do not allow for traditional investing and don’t charge a lot in fees and maintenance charges because they make a piece of what you’re investing in. Non-traditional custodians may charge more fees upfront because they do not make a piece of anything you invest in, but they can offer more flexibility in what you invest in.

If you want to know more on this topic, we have a couple reports that might be helpful on Qualified Retirement Plans (QRP) and Individual Retirement Accounts (IRA). You can get both of those by emailing QRP (at) realestateguysradio (dot) com AND IRA (at) realestateguysradio (dot) com.

Question: For those who don’t like all the work of real estate investing, how do you find a trusted syndicator?

Roy in Bridgewater, New Jersey, and Patrick in San Diego, California had similar questions about passive investing through a syndicator. They both want to break into the bigger real estate deals, but are worried about putting their money into the wrong hands. Syndication is a powerful tool that we’re big fans of here on the podcast, but vetting your syndicator is key!

First, look up all the info you can on your sponsor and know who you’re dealing with. Ask them upfront if there’s anything important you should know about them or their business, and then, go searching.

Referrals are a good way to get to know your sponsor. Careful Google searching (watch out for false information on the internet!) and looking up professional licenses and potential trouble with regulators are also essential before doing a deal.

Also, make sure their attorneys and legal documentation all checks out.

As we’ve said many times before … develop a relationship with the sponsor. Take the time to get to know them and the types of deals they do to make sure it’s a good match.

We’d love to talk to you more about syndication at our Secrets of Successful Syndication event on September 13-14. Register now!

Question: I have a commercial property near the end of its lease. Should I sell it or keep the passive income?

Colleen in Savannah, Georgia, has had a triple-net (commercial) property for 13 years, but the lease will be up in 4 years. She enjoys the passive income from the property, but wants to know if it might be time to let it go.

We discussed the advantages of commercial property in detail with Tom Wilson in our Profitable Niches series, and the longer leases and steady income are definitely big pluses!

Lease negotiation can happen before a lease is up, so that’s an option to make the deal sweeter for a potential buyer. But, here are a couple questions we would ask to determine if selling is the right choice:

✓  Knowing what you know now, would you buy it?

✓  If you did sell it, what would you do with the money?

Ultimately, the decision to sell or keep the property is up to you, but evaluating the lease with fresh eyes is a good way to keep your investments in line with your goals!

Question: How can I make some of my assets more liquid to prepare for an economic downturn?

Marty in Richmond, Virginia, has some real estate investment experience, but he’s concerned about a possible negative turn in the economy and how to protect some of his assets he’s received after selling a property.

We discussed the state of the economy and how to protect and grow wealth at great length in our video series: The Future of Money & Wealth. Take a look at that seminar for valuable insights from incredible experts.

To answer the question, if you think the market is going to downturn, you’ll want to play your investments differently. There are pros and cons for stock market investment and even bank investment, and they all carry different risks.

If you want something that is liquid and fairly stable in relation to the dollar, you could consider a couple options like currencies, precious metals like gold, or putting your money in the bank or a safe.

Some other creative strategies are looking into a private mortgage or note or even paying cash outright for a property. As long as you’re able to cover property taxes, having a property in a stable market is a good way to keep cash flowing in a down market. Even in a poor economy, people need a place to live.

Question: How many times a year is your syndication class given?

This was an easy one from Floyd in Las Vegas, Nevada. We do our Secrets of Successful Syndication podcast twice a year. The next one is coming up in September, and we’d love to see you there!


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.

Beware of bubble genius …

Hard to believe it’s nearly 10 years since Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac collapsed and were taken over by Uncle Sam.

Time flies when you’re getting rich.

It’s been a GREAT run for residential real estate investors … especially apartment investors.  Free money in the punch bowl can really juice up a profit party.

But after 10 years of equity happening to real estate bull market riders … it’s a good time to think about where we are, where things are headed, and what to do next.

And looking forward comes in two parts:  external and internal.

The external is the world of variables outside your control.  Like driving down the freeway, there are lots of other drivers whose actions affect YOUR safety and progress.

But the key to your success isn’t what’s going externally. It’s how YOU navigate those external circumstances … based on what’s going on inside of you.

It’s about financial and emotional intelligence.

Because what you think and believe affects what you do … and what YOU do has the greatest impact on the results YOU experience.

One of the biggest dangers of riding a wave of easy money into gobs of equity is thinking you’re an investing genius.

We know … because it’s happened to us … and we see it happen all the time.

It’s much harder to be humble, curious, teachable and innovative when you already think you’re smart.

It’s important to know the difference between luck and skill.

True financial genius is being able to make money when everything externally is falling apart … like a pro race car driver deftly navigating a multi-car melee at 180 miles an hour.

That’s REAL skill.  Anyone can rocket down an open road.

Fannie Mae’s chief economist Doug Duncan told the audience at Future of Money and Wealth he thinks recession is likely in the not-too-distant future.

And Doug made those comments after reminding everyone his last year’s Summit predictions were all essentially spot on.

So based on both his pedigree and track record, Doug’s qualified to have an opinion.  And we’re listening.

“The time to repair the roof is when the sun is shining.” 
– John F. Kennedy

The sun’s been shining on real estate investors for ten years now.  Maybe you’re one of the many who’ve made tons of money.  We hope that trend continues.

But as our friend Brad “The Apartment King” Sumrok reminds us … it’s time to approach today’s market with a little more sobriety.

Money and margins are both getting tighter.

This means paying better attention to detail, increasing your financial education, and being careful not to rationalize marginal investments to bet on positive externals.

In other words, beware of being a bubble market genius … and thinking what worked in a bull market will work when things change.

Better to work on sharpening your skills at finding and creating value.

Of course, real estate is FULL of pockets of opportunity … the polar opposite of a commodity or asset class where everything’s the same and moves together.

Real estate’s quirkiness befuddles Wall Street investors … but thrills Main Street investors.

A case in point are apartments …

On the one hand, lots of brand new inventory is coming on the market … and it’s putting pressure on landlords to offer profit reducing concessions.

On the other hand, more affordable existing stock is attracting lots of interest… from both tenants and investors.

So “housing” isn’t hot or cold.  And neither are “apartments”.  Real estate defies that kind of simplistic description.

Of course, it takes financial education to recognize the difference between momentum and value.

It also takes time, effort, and relationships to actually find the markets, team and properties to invest in.

For most people, that’s way too much trouble.  They’d rather sit in their crib with their trading app … or turn their financial future over to a paper asset advisor.

That’s all peachy until rates rise, recession hits, and paper prices plunge.

History … and Doug Duncan … says the inevitable bear market is getting closer.

Of course, as we’ve previously commented … when paper investors get nervous, one of their favorite places to seek safety with return is real estate.

So for active and aspiring syndicators … it really doesn’t get any better than right now.

Think about it …

MILLIONS of baby-boomers are retiring.  They need to invest for INCOME.

And they’re sitting on stock market equity, home equity, and retirement accounts …

… holding many TRILLIONS of wealth needing to (literally) find a home withreliable income and inflation protection.

Their paper asset providers will try to meet the need, but their toolbox isn’t properly stocked.  They can’t do private real estate.

But as boomers struggle at squeezing spendable money out of sideways or stagnant stock markets, they’ll look towards dividends and interest.  Cash flow.

The challenge with dividend stocks is … in a volatile market, investors face capital loss on share prices.  Worse, dividends can be cancelled.

Compare this to rental real estate, which produces far MORE reliable income than dividends with LESS price volatility.  And no one is cancelling the rent.

So dividend stock investors would LOVE income property … IF it just wasn’t so darned hard to find, buy, and manage.

What about bonds and bank accounts for income?  (Try not to laugh out loud)

Remember, a deposit is a LIABILITY to a bank.  When you deposit money in the bank, the bank needs to create an offsetting ASSET … a loan.

But the Fed has stuffed banks full of reserves … and there aren’t enough good borrowers to lend to.

Banks don’t need to offer higher interest to attract deposits.  So they don’t.

As for bonds …

Yes, it’s true bond yields are edging up, which means bond holders earn a little more income … but at a what price?

Rising bond yields also mean falling bond values.  So bond buyers are understandably very nervous about capital loss on their bonds.

WORSE …, bonds carry the added risk of default or “counter-party risk.”

A bond default is TOTAL loss. Yikes.

Real estate to the rescue …

The relative safety and performance of income property or income producing mortgages secured by real estate is extremely attractive right now.

The biggest problem for passive paper investors is real estate is hard to buy, messy to manage, and takes more financial education than just knowing how to click around an online trading app.

And THAT is the BIG opportunity for skilled real estate investors to go bigger faster with syndication.

Whether you decide to explore the opportunities in syndication or not … it’s important to stay curious, alert and proactive.

Most real estate investors we know are preparing for the next recession … because that’s when true financial genius pays the biggest rewards.

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.

Profitable Niches – Investing Through Others

As a busy professional, chances are you’ve got people trying to bend your ear constantly about investment opportunities. And sure … some of them sound amazing, but how do you know you’re getting in with the right people? Or maybe real estate investing is what you want to do, but you don’t have the time for it.

That’s where our guest Dr. Buck Joffrey found himself as a busy surgeon. Now, 10 years later, he’s killing it with a successful podcast and real estate syndication organization.

This week, we’re talking about passive real estate investing … passing the heavy lifting to someone else while YOU get the return.

In this episode of The Real Estate Guys™ show you’ll hear from:

  • Your hands-on host, Robert Helms
  • His second-hand co-host, Russell Gray
  • Guest, Dr. Buck Joffrey, host of the Wealth Formula podcast, real estate syndicator, and board-certified surgeon

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Get returns … without getting your hands dirty

Real estate is a messy, hands-on type of business. And while you can do all kinds of research beforehand, the best learning is on the job.

If you don’t have time to manage your own deals, passive investing could be the right move for you.

Passive investing gives you the benefits and returns of real estate … taxes, income, and diversification as well as the turn-key ease of setting and forgetting your investment.

The appeal of real estate investments is partly because your assets are tangible. You can go visit your building, and it occupies more than just a piece of paper or line on a ledger.

But, real estate takes time to understand the market, vet the deals, go through all the paperwork, and then manage a property afterward. You might be thinking, I don’t have time for that, I’m running my own business, and it’s taking all my time.

Joining up with other investors is how to leverage the expertise of others and even tag along to become a student yourself, all while getting in quickly and easily. It really can be whatever you want to make it be for yourself!

Find your investing tribe

As a busy professional himself, Dr. Buck Joffrey discovered early on in his real estate investing journey that he wanted to find like-minded people to invest with.

“If I got involved with a good syndicator who knew what they were doing, those returns and all those benefits I wanted out of real estate were there anyway,” Buck says.

And, once he found people he knew, liked, and trusted in the real estate space, the hardest part was over.

“What I realized is that if I could invest in such a way that if I did a lot of vetting and due diligence and I knew other people were involved … my chances of success went way up,” Buck says.

It wasn’t long before Buck’s friends started asking what he was doing and how they could get in on it too. All of this relationship building is what Buck calls tribal investing. And this approach is key to his success.

“Your network is your net worth,” Buck says. “I look more at the team than I do the deal. If you know, like, and trust somebody and you know their track record, then you can get to the point and can look at a pro forma.”

The relationship is just the building block to a good deal … Buck also notes that while there are lots of folks who he knows and likes, he may not be excited about the deals they’re doing. Just a little education about the types of investments you’re considering will go a long way.

Condensing your education timeline

As with any investment, you need to know enough to ask the right questions so you don’t get burned. But, as a busy professional, adding in time for that education can be a heavy lift.

That’s why Buck’s networking style translated perfectly into his new course, “Your Roadmap to Real Wealth.” It’s not just Buck teaching the course … he’s tapped into his deep network to bring in experts that share with you what he learned over a decade over a condensed timeline.

“One thing that everyone has in common who is on the show is that I have a relationship with them,” Buck says. “This is my tribe talking to me as a young physician.”

Buck has gathered experts in real estate … INCLUDING yours truly, The Real Estate Guys™ as well as estate planners, and many, many more.

We asked Buck about how passive investing works into the diversification angle. Buck mentioned he was initially interested in apartments as a first investment.

“What I realized was that I was trying to get at scale,” Buck says. “With syndication, you can take the same two or three hundred thousand dollars and now you’re in four, five, six buildings, and you’re in thousands of doors, and you’re across the country!”

Syndication gives you the opportunity to allocate your risk, and use your capital more efficiently. And all of that diversification collapses your time frame and gets you more cash flow sooner!

To learn more about passive investing and Buck’s course, “Your Roadmap to Real Wealth,” send an email to roadmap@realestateguysradio.com. We’ll hook you up with all the details!


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.

Rising rates, oil, and an angry Amazon …

Even though the Fed skipped a rate hike last meeting, someone forgot to tell the 10-year Treasury yield, which has broken over three-percent … DOUBLE where it was just two years ago.

In case you don’t know, the 10-year Treasury yield is arguably the single most important interest rate on Earth … certainly for real estate investors.

Of course, oil broke over $80 a barrel last week also … in spite of dollar strength.  So while dollar-denominated gold dipped … oil rose.

It makes us wonder what oil will do if (when) the dollar starts falling again!

Now before you check out, let’s consider what all this means to Main Street real estate investors.  

Obviously, interest rates matter because most real estate investors are liberal users of mortgages.  Higher rates mean higher payments and less net cash flow.

But as we often point out, rising rates also affect your indebted tenants.  Higher rates mean bigger payments on credit card, installment, and auto debt.

And speaking of auto-debt, sub-prime auto loan defaults have spiked above 2008 levels.  It seems consumers at the margin are starting to struggle.

Now back to oil …

If you’re an oil investor … or you buy real estate in areas whose economies are

strongly supported by the oil industry … higher oil prices can be a GOOD thing.

For everyone else, it means gas … and all petroleum derived products … andanything produced or transported with oil-derived energy … are all getting more expensive.

And for your working class tenants … the cost of filling up their commuter cars is getting worse too.

So until all this “wonderful” inflation makes its way into wages, working class people are still getting squeezed.

All that to say, it’s probably a good idea to tread lightly on rental increases unless you’re very sure your tenants can handle it.

But of course, these are the fairly obvious concerns.  But there’s something even MORE ALARMING circling on the horizon …

Pension Problems Potentially Pinching Property Owners

(Sorry.  Peter Piper purposely pressured us to print that prose. ‘pologies …)

In a recent post, we highlighted a SHOCKING proposal by the Chicago Fed to punish property owners by imposing an additional one-percent property tax … to pay for Illinois’ severely under-funded pension plan.

Of course, Illinois isn’t only the place with pension problems, so be on the lookout for a punitive tax proposal coming soon to a neighborhood near you.

This is why we continually point out it’s REALLY important understand the markets you’re in.

It’s like buying a condo in a troubled complex, but never bothering to review the HOA financials …

YOU might be hyper-responsible, but if the HOA’s in trouble … you could be too, because they have the the power to assess YOU to pay for it.

As we pointed out at Future of Money and Wealth, governments sometimes do desperately dumb things when they’re facing financial challenges.

Don’t Slap an Amazon

The latest case in point comes to us from the super-city of Seattle … home of Amazon, Starbucks, Boeing and several other mega-employers.

You may have heard, the city council of Seattle voted 9-0 to impose a “head tax” on all businesses doing over $20 million in GROSS revenue.

The original tax proposed was over $500 per person.  But after businesses complained, they backed off to “only” about $275 per head.

The purported purpose of the tax is helping the homeless, which is a noble cause.  But regardless of how you or we feel about it, what matters is how the employers feel … and they’re NOT happy.

Amazon fuming after Seattle votes to tax high-grossing corporations to help the homeless

“ ‘We are disappointed by today’s city council decision to introduce a tax on jobs,’ [Amazon Vice President Drew Herdener] said in a statement.

 “ ‘While we have resumed construction planning… we remain very apprehensive about the future created by the council’s hostile approach and rhetoric toward larger businesses, which forces us to question our growth here…’ ”

 Starbucks Corp., another of the 300 businesses that will have to pay the job tax, seconded that.

 Think about this …

These are two pre-eminent brands and major economic drivers for Seattle and its surrounding neighborhoods … and there are 298 other big businesses also affected.

While they’re not likely to all pack their bags and move out in the middle of the night, Amazon’s comments make it clear they’re also not committed to staying or growing.

Again, it doesn’t matter how YOU feel about these companies, the homeless problem, or the role of government in redistributing wealth …

… what matters is how employers feel and what they choose to do when slapped with taxes or regulations.

Because if these companies go in search of a friendlier environment, one area will lose current and future jobs … and others will gain them.

As real estate investors, we want to be on the right end of that shift.  That’s why we’re always watching for clues in the news.

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.

Profitable Niches – Commercial Property Investing

There are many ways to invest … and one way isn’t necessarily better than the other. Real estate is nuanced. It’s always a good idea to broaden and expand your expertise into different markets.

That’s why we’re THRILLED to talk to our returning guest, Tom Wilson, about commercial real estate investing. His engineer’s mind can deconstruct this intimidating topic into bite-sized pieces … the perfect size for inspiration!

In this episode of The Real Estate Guys™ show you’ll hear from:

  • Your seasoned host, Robert Helms
  • His underseasoned co-host, Russell Gray
  • Tom Wilson, a long-time friend of the show and expert in commercial real estate investing and syndication

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Add more commas and zeros to your thinking

Commercial real estate investing feels more advanced because the deals are bigger. But the truth is that it takes nearly the same amount time to learn how to do big and small deals well.

One of the beauties of commercial deals is that you’ll get more leverage. And, this will put you on the road to adding commas to your thinking and diversifying your real estate knowledge … a must in dealing with a changing market!

Of course it takes time to get educated on a new market. Many commercial real estate deals are funded through syndication. Jumpstart your education by joining forces with people who know their stuff.

“I think the best thing I’ve done over the years is to adjust to different markets and asset classes as they’ve progressed,” says Tom Wilson, an expert in commercial real estate investing and syndications. “It’s awfully easy to get really comfortable in something that has worked before.”

Since Tom has a background in engineering, he approaches problems from a research and numbers perspective. But even he knows the value of bringing in the experts.

“I got some advice early on: Don’t try to do everything yourself,” Tom says. “You can accomplish more in life if you gather experts around you. I like to constantly be learning from others.”

Understand tenants and leases

One of the things that can initially seem foreign to new commercial real estate investors is what tenants look like in a commercial building.

Just like families live in residential areas, businesses make up your tenants in a commercial real estate deal, but with a few key differences:

  • Leases are longer for commercial deals. It’s not uncommon to see a commercial lease for 15 years or longer on a single-tenant building. You know that businesses are going to stick around in one location for a long time.
  • Maintenance is handled by the tenants. These leases are called triple-net leases, which essentially means that the tenants pay all real estate taxes, building insurance, and maintenance.

“Many of us who have had rental properties understand about turnover, tenants skipping overnight, having to do evictions. These elements are rare in the commercial arena,” Tom says.

With the right expertise, managing commercial can be much easier. The tenants are higher-quality, and you have lower turnover in your buildings. And, you’ll likely know well in advance before a vacancy happens.

When you’re looking for a commercial space, you need to know who your tenants are. This is even more crucial when you have a single-tenant space.

“It’s important to do a deep dive into the tenant’s financials and the market they’re in,” Tom says.

With big-name brands, remember that there may be low risk, but there’s also low returns. However, the tier below that offers a real opportunity for some good deals, as long as you’ve done your homework.

Know the market

Just like there’s diversity in the types of residential properties, the options for commercial real estate are just as rich. And, e-commerce has definitely caused a bit of a shift in the commercial real estate space.

“You still need to get a product to the door,” Tom says. “You’ll need more distribution centers and smarter distribution centers. We need more last-mile distribution centers.”

Not only that, but the increase in demand for these industrial distribution locations have removed some of the supply for other commercial properties, which means the market for industrial and commercial real estate is healthy.

We also know that brick and mortar stores aren’t going away. You can’t get your hair or nails done online. You still drop off and pick up your dry cleaning, and your pets go to the vet!

And, commercial real estate doesn’t stop at brick and mortar stores or even distribution centers. Large manufacturing plants, refrigeration, R&D, and many other options are out there for types of commercial real estate.

No matter where you choose to crack into commercial real estate, here’s a few nuggets of wisdom from Tom’s long resume of commercial real estate deals:

  • Get educated enough to ask tough questions.
  • Surround yourself with people who know more than you do and don’t feel intimidated.
  • Delegate and spread out responsibility so each person has a manageable piece to take on.
  • Stay rational when the stakes are high.

If you’re ready to take on commercial real estate, Tom has prepared a special report packed with important details on how to be successful in this niche. To get your free copy, email us at commercial@realestateguysradio.com.


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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.

Pension Crisis Threatens Property Owners

Pension Problems Piling Up …

Anyone paying attention knows the world is facing a global pension crisis.  And if you don’t think it will affect you … think again. 

Consider this report recently issued by the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago …

How Should the State of Illinois Pay for Its Unfunded Pension Liability?  The Case for Statewide Residential Property Tax 

“The State of Illinois has a very large unfunded pension liability and will likely have to pay much of it off by raising taxes.” 

And guess what?  Illinois isn’t the only place with pension problems.  California is a HUGE mess too … as is much of the country.

According to this report from The Pew Charitable Trusts, only four states had at least 90% of the assets needed to pay promised benefits.

It’s BAD.  And the Federal Reserve apparently wants to tax property owners to fix it. 

“In our view, Illinois’s best option is to impose a statewide residential property tax …”

“ … the tax rate required to pay off the pension debt over 30 years would be about one percent.”

 But it gets WORSE … are you sitting down?  This is SHOCKING …

“There are good reasons to pay off … pension debt through … residential property tax … home values go down …”

“ Current homeowners would not be happy, but … would not be able to avoid the new tax by selling their homes … because home prices should reflect the new tax burden quickly.”

In other words, prices will crash, and upside-down homeowners are trapped.

Nice.

In a presentation at Future of Money and Wealth, we warned that financially strapped governments would turn desperado.  This is a classic example. 

This isn’t hyperbole or conspiracy theory.  We don’t make this stuff up.  These are the Fed’s OWN WORDS.  You can (and should) read them yourself. 

Here’s a link to a PDF we highlighted to make it easy for you.   And here’s a link to the Chicago Fed’s website where you can see the source with your own eyes.

The writing is on the wall.  Property owners are easy prey because the asset is right out in the open.

BUT … the low hanging fruit are properties in jurisdictions where the desperado taxman has authority.

That’s why many savvy investors park wealth in non-domestic property … in countries where the tax burden is small.

If you’ve been following us for any length of time, you’ve been bombarded with invitations to come to Belize.  And this is another one. 

We don’t understand why EVERYONE reading this wouldn’t drop everything and immediately register for the next Belize discovery trip … and learn how to invest in offshore real estate.

You don’t need to be a multi-millionaire to diversify your wealth internationally.  But you do need to get educated and connected.   

The Belize discovery trip is a great way to start.

And the trip is not just relatively affordable … it’s FUN! You get a multi-day semi-private educational tour personally led by our very own Robert Helms.

And one last suggestion on the educational front …

We videotaped the entire 14 hours of the Future of Money and Wealth conference … and you can click here to order the entire collection of Future of Money and Wealth presentations and panel discussions.

In spite of all the rosy economic rhetoric … and yes, there are some good things happening … there are still some BIG landmines out there.

This latest trial balloon from the Fed should be a wake-up call for all real estate investors.  Isn’t it prudent to explore options while there’s still time?


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.

Profitable Niches – Lifestyle Investing

You may have heard that it’s bad to mix business with pleasure. But, when it comes to lifestyle investing, part of the fun is owning property in a place you love.

Yes, it is possible to make lifestyle investing make sense for you … as long as you follow some important guidelines to line up the numbers, location, and opportunity.

In this episode of The Real Estate Guys™ show you’ll hear from:

  • Your vacation ready host, Robert Helms
  • His in dire need of vacation co-host, Russell Gray
  • Guest, Nick Rohrbach, from The Grove Resort and Spa in Orlando, Florida

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Why a lifestyle investment might be a good fit

Life is too short to be involved in an asset class you don’t enjoy. Too many times in real estate, we get hung up on the ROI and let it rule the day. Lifestyle investing spices things up by adding personal enjoyment and personal use into the mix.

With the right strategy, you can tap into a FANTASTIC opportunity for growth. Premium properties fetch a premium price from renters and vacationers. Of course, you’ll also be able to enjoy the property with your family and friends.

We’ve all been on vacation and experienced that “I never want to leave” feeling. But remember, just because a place is nice to visit doesn’t mean it makes sense from an investment point of view. Here are a few recommendations to keep in mind.

 

  • Know the market

 

As with any real estate investment, your research into the market will be worth its weight in gold. This is especially true for lifestyle investing where the durability of rent, the ability to fill occupancy, and the property’s long-term profitability will be the difference between a fun investment and a bust.

With a good location, property, and market your investment has the opportunity to weather downturns. People in higher income brackets can afford to go on vacation even if the economy is down.

 

  • Bring on a stellar management team

 

The difference between a fun, hands-off lifestyle investment that you’ll love visiting and a drag is a good management team. Property management comes at a higher cost than single-family homes … sometimes upwards of 50 percent … but it gives you peace of mind AND access to amenities that delight and excite high-end vacationers and renters.

Your management team will handle all the bookings, and they have access to wholesale outlets such as Travelocity, Hotwire, Priceline … all the big names people use to get their vacation rentals.

And bonus! When things break, they fix them.

Opportunities abound in Orlando

Orlando, Florida, is the #1 traveled to place in the world. Thanks to Disney World, Universal Studios, and a THRIVING convention market, there’s no end of things to do for business travelers and families. And did we mention it’s a no income tax state?

We could go on and on about the many reasons why Florida is a consistently hot market and one of our favorite places to visit:

  • It’s centrally located to beaches
  • It has access to direct flights out of many places from the beautiful Orlando airport
  • The weather and attractions are top-tier
  • Convention business is strong and growing

Nobody knows this better than Nick Rohrbach, our guest from The Grove Resort and Spa.

Beyond tourism, Florida has a vibrant, booming economy. “There are 19 [amusement or theme] parks in central Florida alone,” Nick says. “Medical City is booming, we have one of the largest universities in the country, University of Central Florida, and over 150 VA hospitals.”

Plus, unlike many destinations, Orlando is not seasonal. The average occupancy is about 75 percent year round. Even during the economic recession in 2009, average occupancy never fell below 60 percent.

All of these elements make Orlando a place you might want to keep your eye on.

Filling a niche in the lifestyle investing market

When you’re looking for a lifestyle investment, one of the important questions you need to answer is how a particular property sets itself apart from competitors.

Florida’s economy is one of the reasons The Grove is such a unique opportunity. Rohrbach explains that the project was originally built in 2007, 2008, and 2009, and all the units were sold to UK investors without closing on a transaction.

While all the units were structurally built, only 184 condos were completed. With some additional cash, amenities, and building out the insides, these units are essentially brand new.

The new ownership at The Grove Resort and Spa has a couple strategies to fill a niche in Orlando:

  • Amazing amenities including restaurants, 800 sq. ft. of convention space, and a newly opened water park.
  • Spacious condos with 2-3 bedrooms perfect for families.
  • Close proximity to Disney World … only 3 miles away!

For potential investors and owners, there are plenty of opportunities as well. The Grove has a stellar management company that keeps the property looking fantastic, takes care of you and any guests, and manages all the bookings, repairs, and maintenance.

“The key is really the management,” Nick says. “When you talk about having everything in place for lifestyle turnkey investing, you need that professional management so you don’t have to deal with anything. The guest experience is very important.”

Not only that, but The Grove is continuing to expand, with 878 total units coming online at completion. Only 450 rooms are available now, and they’re at 100 percent occupancy! As demand goes up, so will rates … and cash flow from a potential investment.

Make sure the deal works for you

Lifestyle investing can sound like a dream come true, but it still has to make financial sense for you.

Look at a market that appeals to you personally, and then start running some numbers.

For instance, syndication might be the right way to go. You could get creative and discover investment opportunities in a few locations so you’ll have access to a bunch of prime vacation spots.

Blurring the line between a pure ROI, detached investment and something you get to enjoy too doesn’t have to be out of reach. If the numbers, market, and property make sense, don’t be afraid to go for it!

Want to know more about turnkey lifestyle in Orlando, Florida, and things to avoid in the marketplace? Send an email to lifestyle@realestateguysradio.com. We’ll hook you up with a special report with all the details. 


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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.

Profits, jobs, and opportunity …

In spite of rising rates and concerns about bubbles … real estate is looking pretty good right now.  At least the right real estate in the right markets.

Of course, “real estate” can mean a lot of different things.  In this case, we’re talking about good ol’ fashioned single-family residences.   Houses.

Yes, we know mortgage rates are rising.  But that just means it’s harder for renters to buy a home … which keeps them renting … from YOU.

And if you proceed with caution, there are some reasons to pursue single-family homes even though prices have recovered substantially from the 2008 lows.

Consider this Yahoo Finance headline:

Small business earnings hit all-time high, NFIB declares

“Small business earnings rose to the highest levels in at least 45 years last month, according to the results of a survey from the National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB) …” 

“ …  the 17th consecutive month of ‘historically high readings.’”

That’s good news for small business owners … and for the U.S. economy.  It’s commonly believed that small business drives a majority of job creation.

So perhaps this CNBC headline isn’t a big surprise …

Job openings hit record high of 6.6 million

Of course, job creation is good for landlords.  It’s a lot easier for tenants to pay rent when they actually have jobs.

But there’s the issue of wages.  Even though the unemployment rate fell below 4% … which is considered “tight” … wages still haven’t risen substantially … yet.

Meanwhile, life is getting more expensive as rising interest ratesgas prices and healthcare premiums are among several factors squeezing household budgets.

While jobs are good, it’s hard to save up for a down payment when living costs are going up faster than paychecks … which keeps people renting.

And if all that isn’t a big enough challenge, there’s the problem of high housing prices.  Obviously, higher prices also make it harder for renters to become homeowners.

So all that’s not horrible news for landlords … especially those who are investing in more affordable markets and property types.

But there are two more parts to the story …

First has to do with a deeper dive into the jobs market.  The April jobs report didn’t seem great at first blush.

But in the past, the reports looked great at first, then you’d drill down and discover the jobs created were low-wage service industry jobs.

Notably, recent jobs reports reflect a subtle but important shift in the composition of jobs.

So while the quantity of jobs created might be not bad … the quality is actually looking pretty good.

According to this Wall Street Journal article, manufacturing added 24,000 workers in April … after adding 22,000 and 31,000 in the last two months.

“While manufacturing employment has been generally declining for decades, hiring picked up in the sector over the past year.” 

Way back our 2011 blog, What Washington Could Learn from Real Estate Investors, we argued that not all jobs are equal. We like what’s happening.

Seems to us if the American economy can keep this up, it’s a tailwind for housing … in spite of rising rates, inflation, and high debt levels.

And speaking of wind …

As we discussed at length during Future of Money and Wealth, the entire financial system is based on debt.  So to grow the economy, debt MUST grow.

The why and how of all that is too big a topic for today’s discussion, but if you take it at face value, it really explains a lot.  It also has some big ramifications for real estate.

After 2008, lenders ran away from real estate … but debt still needed to expand.  So new debt-slaves borrowers were needed.

Student debt soared.  Sub-prime auto loans spiked.  Credit cards hit record highs. Corporations borrowed heavily to bid up their own stock.

But today, students are reconsidering the value of a financed college education.  Auto sales are slowing.  Credit card losses are mounting.

Corporations are slowing down their borrowing … with nearly 14% of the largest companies unable to pay their interest payments from earnings.

In fact, a recent Bloomberg article quotes Gregg Lippman of “Big Short” fame as saying corporate debt will trigger the next financial crisis.

“ … corporate debt and equities will face the biggest pain when the next downturn comes. Investments linked to consumer debt, unlike the last crisis, will be relatively safe …”

“The consumer is in much better shape than corporates. Consumers are less levered than they were pre-crisis. Corporates are more levered than they were pre-crisis …”

So let’s wrap this all up and put a bow on it …

If it’s true debt MUST expand, lenders will be looking for where they can make loans.  Remember, your debt is their “investment”.

There are already tremors in the debt markets.  Lenders will be looking for quality.

Similarly, there are tremors in the stock markets.  Investors and consumers will be looking for an alternative for their wealth building (remember, consumers consider their home an investment).

So we think there’s a good chance the focus will shift to real estate again.  Just like it did in the early 2000s.

Yes, we know the run-up from 2000 – 2008 ended badly.  But not for everyone.

If you buy the right markets, use sustainable financing structures, and pay attention to cash flow, there’s an argument to be made that single-family homes still have solid potential for long-term wealth building.

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.

Profitable Niches – Investing Internationally

Is investing offshore right for you?

International investing can be both exciting and daunting. In our fourth installment of the Profitable Niches series, we hope to demystify the process for investors looking to cross some borders.

Every investment has a risk … you just have to learn how to evaluate the risk and the reward so you can choose wisely.

In this episode of The Real Estate Guys™ show you’ll hear from:

  • Your world-traveling host, Robert Helms
  • His petrified-of-planes co-host, Russell Gray
  • CEO of Mahogany Bay Village and international investor, Beth Clifford

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Expand your horizons with international investing

Our guest has made a name for herself in international investing.

The CEO of Mahogany Bay Village and a pro at international resort investing, Beth Clifford started expanding her own real estate business by moving into different states.

It wasn’t long before she got an itch to start looking outside the United States.

She’s a great example of someone who’s become a success by opening up her geographic horizons.

“It’s always convenient to live and invest in the same place, but real estate is about location,” Beth says. Investors have to look beyond what is outside their bedroom windows.

International investment also provides an opportunity to diversify and put your assets into different baskets.

Whether you’re an investor looking to expand beyond your state of residency or your country, Beth says the methodology is the same.

To invest smartly, you have to understand the market, laws, and culture of the place you’d like to invest in.

And just because there might be a learning curve doesn’t mean you should shy away from good opportunities.

Take what you’ve learned and expand it into another arena, whether that’s a new asset class in the same location or the same asset class in a new location.

Either way, you expand your world—and get the chance to become an expert all over again.

When you’ve learned one new market, it’s easier to get to know a second one, Beth notes.

And … “It’s all about teams,” she says. As someone who owns, invests, and develops in multiple countries, Beth has learned the value of a talented team.

Let’s talk about taxes

As soon as you cross a country border, you have to understand an entirely new tax system. That’s why Beth has separate development companies for properties inside and outside the U.S. … and why she enlists professional help when it comes to accounting.

Although taxes can be tricky, owning property and businesses outside of the United States can reap great tax benefits.

Despite that, some tax professionals still make a habit of creating fear, uncertainty, and doubt for investors who would like to make some money across country lines.

Beth recommends shopping around for an informed professional … because although the attorneys make it seem hard, there are really only three documents you need to complete each year.

She recommends professional assistance for at least your first two years, until you have a solid understanding of the basics.

One thing to be aware of? Currency arbitrage and exchange. If you’re unaware of currency issues, they could bite you. Make sure you understand whether you can easily exchange currency and whether the jurisdiction you’re investing in is neutral.

A relationship business

Real estate is a relationship business. And especially when investing beyond your familiar boundaries, building local relationships is key.

We asked Beth how to she expands her network across borders.

“I ask for help when I go into a market,” she says. Investors should have “an attitude of humility, not hubris.”

The first thing Beth does is look for the Class A players in a given market. Who are the top three law firms, employers, development companies?

Beth seeks out the movers and shakers … then picks their brains for advice.

“A players fly with A players,” she says. “It’s the rule.”

Networking doesn’t cost you money … and it gets you into the contact database of the best and brightest.

Once you’ve sought out the best, go in with the intention to learn. Ask these bright business people how they’ve obtained their success and where they see YOU going wrong or right.

The goal is to find team members who provide value to you … and are excited to do so.

And one business relationship can net literally millions of potential customers.

It’s all about leveraging yourself.

Is making connections any different in a foreign country? “People are the same everywhere,” says Beth.

Basic human connection is the key, no matter where you go. People want the same things … so connect on a common level.

Thinking about making the leap?

Wondering whether you’re cut out to be an international investor?

Beth recommends starting by test driving the market. Do a due diligence tour outside of the U.S. … like one of our discovery trips.

It’s a great way to get to know the area in which you might be investing, educate yourself on the culture and special considerations, get to know local movers and shakers … and have some fun.

Seeing how others put together international investments can be eye-opening, says Beth. Discovery trip attendees get a year of education … in four days.

So get there … and see what awaits you beyond the horizon.


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.

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