Home-building bust … good, bad, or ugly?

One reason we write is because very little mainstream financial commentary addresses the unique needs of real estate investors.

Most financial pundits think of real estate merely in terms of home prices, home builder stocks, and maybe real estate investment trusts (REITs).

Their preferred investment strategy is buy-low-sell-high … usually based on divining things wholly outside an investor’s control.

It’s more like gambling than investing.  They even call their positions “bets”.

Of course, the buy-low-sell-high trading mentality encourages the churning of holdings … which generates commissions and short-term capital gain taxes.

That’s nice for Wall Street firms and the government which protects them, but not so much for Main Street investors trying to build reliable retirement income.

And if you watch the financial news, you’ll notice any discussion of yields and earning is generally in the context of their impact on share prices.  So back again to the buy-low-sell-high mentality.

But long-term income-property real estate investors look at the world VERY differently than the players and pundits of Wall Street.

For real estate investors, it’s all about acquiring streams of cash flow …

… collecting contracts (leases) with people and businesses who work every day and send us a piece of their production.  It’s a beautiful thing.

And even though we LOVE equity … we know REAL equity growth is driven by cash flow.  More cash flow equals more equity.

Of course, the purpose of equity is to acquire more cash flow.  Managed properly, they feed each other.  It’s a virtuous cycle of compounding wealth.

Best of all, with real estate, many of the factors affecting cash flow are very much within the control of the investor.

With that said, we still watch mainstream financial news for clues about what’s happening with the financial system, geo-politics, and macro-economics …

… and we carefully consider how those higher-level factors can directly impact Main Street investors.

So when the June new housing stats came out, here are some of the headlines that popped up in our news feed …

Weak Housing Starts Hurt Homebuilder Stocks
– Barron’s, 7/18/18

Housing Permits Soften, Starts Plummet
– Mortgage News Daily, 7/18/18

Slump in London House-Building Weighs on UK Housing Starts – U.S. News & World Report, 7/25/18

There are lots more, but you get the idea.  Pretty gloomy.

But these stories are just clues in the news.  We still need to figure out why it’s happening, what it means, and how it affects Main Street real estate investors.

Big picture, there are those who think housing is a leading indicator of a healthy economy.  So when housing is doing well, it drives economic growth.

We’re not so sure.  It seems to us housing is a trailing indicator … a reflection of economic growth.

After all, who buys a house so they can get a job?  Buying a home is sign of economic success, not a creator of it … at least not for consumers.

So we think a weak housing market is a reflection of a weak home-buyer.

This begs the question … WHY is the home-buyer weak?

We tossed in the UK article to highlight this weak housing-start situation may not be reflective of issues at merely the local or even national level.

So even though real estate is LOCAL … certain factors affecting it are MACRO … perhaps even geo-political or systemic.

But because we’re news hawks at every level … local, macro, geo-political, and systemic … we’re aware of some of those potentially contributory factors.

But let’s start with the basic economic principle of supply and demand. 

And remember … we always break out “capacity to pay” from “demand” because it makes us focus on factors of affordability.

Think about it …

“Demand”  alone for housing is fairly universal.  Nearly everyone wants a home … a bigger home, a better home … so demand in terms of desirability is almost a given.

But just because someone WANTS a home doesn’t mean they can AFFORD one.  So much of housing demand pivots off of demand’s “capacity-to-pay”.

And then there’s inventory … of both houses (supply side) and people (demand side).

Generally speaking, the world is increasing in population, though not always in any given geographic area.  So it’s certainly possible for an area to lose population, and demand for housing along with it.  Think the fall of Detroit.

But because the slowdown in home-building appears to be occurring in diverse locations, we’ll toss out the notion it’s driven by a slump in the supply of people and a shrinking demand for homes.

We’ll assume there’s plenty of people who want housing.

Now on the housing supply side, we find another clue here …

U.S. home sales sag as prices race to record high
– Reuters, 7/23/18

“ … a persistent shortage of properties on the market drove house prices to a record high.”

Hmmmm … that’s weird.

Low inventory explains slow sales and higher prices.   But wouldn’t both of those things entice home-builders to build MORE … not less?

After all, if buyers are bidding prices UP, the opportunity to earn profits should entice builders to increase production to cash in.

Yet there’s a reportedly low supply of houses, and apparently strong demand reflected by rising prices … and for some reason home-builders are slowing down.

Again, the market’s natural reaction SHOULD be to increase supply … which then drives down prices … and makes housing more affordable to more people.

But that’s not happening.

We think it’s because it can’t.  After all, a home-builder can only drop prices so far before it’s no longer economical to build.

As we’ve discussed previously, one of the first casualties of tariffs was lumber costs.  Steel is another.  And of course, there’s the labor shortage driving up costs in residential construction.

To top it all off, there’s the well-publicized increases in interest and energy expenses … which add costs to almost everything.

So with nearly every component of cost on the rise, builders can only drop prices so far … then they either can’t build, or they need to charge more.

But charging more means buyers must be able to pay more …

Maybe when builders are looking at their market studies, they’re not seeing an increase in buyer’s capacity to pay.

When mortgage rates are going up faster than paychecks … and inflation, gas prices and tariffs squeeze consumers … it drags DOWN their capacity to pay more for housing.

So after digging deeper, it seems there’s some understandable logic to the slowdown in housing permits … in spite of low inventory and rising prices.

Is that bad?  It depends.

Remember .. when people can’t afford to buy, they need to rent … from YOU.

When housing crashed in 2008, it was a huge BOON to investors in affordable housing.  The demand for rentals went UP.  Many real estate investors made fortunes.

So the lesson remains … the flip-side of problems are opportunities when you’re aware and prepared.

Right now, in spite of reports of a booming economy and high consumer confidence, it may not translate quickly into a boom in home-buying or home-building.

That might make Wall Street worry, but for Main Street real estate investors focusing on affordable markets and product types …

… or specialized niches like residential-assisted living or resort property which cater to affluent people …

… there’s still a lot of opportunity to build reliable long term wealth through real estate. 

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.

Lessons from Facebook’s face-plant …

No doubt you’ve heard Facebook’s stock face-planted recently. But just in case, here’s the whole gory story in just three headlines over five days …

Facebook stock hits record high ahead of earnings – MarketWatch 7/25/18

Investors … continue to shrug off … gaffes … with privacy and security … Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg … said … the company has not seen an impact on the company’s top line.”

Facebook’s stock market decline is the largest one-day drop in US history

– The Verge 7/26/18

“Facebook’s market capitalization lost $120 billion in 24 hours.

Facebook’s stock set to enter bear-market territory after third straight decline – MarketWatch 7/30/18

“The stock has now fallen 22% from its record close … on July 25.”

Of course, if you’re a real estate investor this may seem like only a moderately interesting side story buried in all the news flying across your screen.

And maybe that’s all it is.

Then again, maybe there are some things to be gleaned from this epic implosion … even for real estate investors.

Lesson 1: Just because everyone else is … doesn’t mean YOU should

Your mom probably taught you that. But it’s good investing advice too. It’s never smart to be late to an equity party … or late leaving.

The so-called FAANG stocks (Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix and Google) are the “must have” stocks for … just about EVERYONE.

The problem is popular assets often get bid up well past their fundamental value … as speculators jump in hoping to ride the upward trend for awhile …

… and hoping to be fast enough to get out before the trend turns.

Of course, hope isn’t a very good investing strategy.

Lesson 2: Don’t ignore problems just to keep hope alive

Notice the quote about investors continuing to shrug off bad news … ignoring the obviously developing problems at Facebook.

So when Zuckerberg comes out right before the bad news … even as Facebook’s stock was heading to a record HIGH … and says the problems aren’t affecting the top line …

… investors apparently chose to believe him, … and not heed the clues in the news that clearly showed Facebook was headed for stormy seas.

Now, investors are suing Facebook and Zuckerberg for misleading them.

But investors should also look at the big picture, and consider the motives of these who claim as is well.

Remember this classic assurance from the world’s foremost banker?

“Importantly, we see no serious broader spillover to banks or thrift institutions from the problems in the subprime market.”

– Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke on May 17, 2007

Just a year later the financial system all but imploded.  But the danger signs were there …

Peter Schiff and Robert Kiyosaki were warning people. Most didn’t listen.

We didn’t. But you can be SURE we listen today.

Lesson 3: Momentum is a condiment … not a meal

With real estate, sustainable profit is all about the income.

Sure, it’s great when things get hot and people want to pay MORE for the SAME income.  But at some point, the numbers don’t make sense.

You can bad fundamentals and invest primarily because “it’s going up.” But when momentum fades, prices snap back to fundamentals.

If you’re on the wrong end of it, it’s painful.

Of course, if you see it coming, you can cash out via refinance or sale, and store up some dry powder for the soon-to-be-coming sale.

Lesson 4: Trends and indexes are interesting, but the deal’s what’s real

We have a big, diverse audience … so we talk about big picture stuff. It’s important to see the big picture.

After all, every asset you own is floating in a big sloshing economic sea.

If you’re not aware of weather patterns and watching the horizon, you might not see storm clouds and rough waters forming.

But investors make money in EVERY kind of economic environment, so it’s not the conditions which dictate YOUR success or failure.

It’s your attention to being sure each individual deal YOU do makes sense.

That means the right market, product type, neighborhood, financing structure, and management team.

Keep the deal real … and have plans for what you’d do in a variety of economic situations …

… so when conditions change you’re not caught unaware and unprepared.

“The time to repair the roof is when the sun is shining.”

– John F. Kennedy

Lesson 5: Train wrecks in stocks can be tee-up for real estate

This is our favorite.

It’s not that we take joy when the stock market reveals its true character … but we know it’s a wake-up-and-smell-the-coffee moment for many Main Street investors.

As our friends Chris Martenson and Adam Taggart recently pointed out

… if you take the FAANG stocks out of the stock indexes, the highly-touted stock index returns would have been NEGATIVE.

It’s hard to diversify when you you’re exposed to the hot stocks everyone’s piled into … directly or indirectly.

So as Main Street investors come to suspect the disproportionate influence just a few arguably overbought stocks have on their TOTAL net worth and retirement dreams …

… history says people’s hearts turn home to an investment type they instinctively understand and trust. Real estate.

So for those raising money from private investors to go do more and bigger real estate deals, a stock market scare can make it easier for your prospects to appreciate what you’re offering them.

Lesson 6: Do the math and the math will tell you what to do

Very few paper asset investors we’ve ever met actually do the math.

They either buy index funds based on trends and history, and don’t realize most are exposed to the same small group of hot stock everyone owns …

… or they buy stocks based on a hot tip, a gut feeling, or a recommendation from someone they think is smarter than they are.

But real estate math is SO simple to understand and explain.

And when you can quickly show a Main Street paper investor how a 15-20% annualized long-term return on investment real estate is quite realistic … with very moderate risk …

… real estate is the CLEAR winner.

Even a modest 3% per year price appreciation on 20% down payment (5:1 leverage) is 15% average annual growth rate.

Add to that another 2% or so a year in amortization … paying down the loan using the rental income … you’re up to about 17% annualized equity growth.

Toss in another modest 3-5% cash-on-cash and some tax benefits and you’re pushing 20% annualized total return pretty fast.

And that’s just bread-and-butter buy-and-hold rental property.

There are all kinds of specialty niches and value-add plays which allow active investors to goose returns …

… or for a syndicator to put a lot of meat on the bone for their passive investors … and still take a piece for doing the work.

Lesson 7: Monitor your portfolio for weak links and over-exposure

Lots of paper investors who didn’t even know they were exposed to Facebook are finding out the hard way …

… just like when we didn’t realize our whole investing and business model depended on healthy credit markets.

So be aware …

When you’re overly exposed to a critical factor like interest rates, credit markets, a tax law, a specific industry or employer, or even a currency or financial system

… you run the risk that a single unexpected event can take a BIG bite out of your assets.

And while you might not be able to fix everything right away, the sooner you’re aware of the risks, the sooner you can start preparing to mitigate them.

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.

Trade war heats up and America’s Achilles heel

The Art of the Deal meets the Art of War

You’ve probably heard about the escalating trade war between the United States and China.

Maybe you think it doesn’t really matter to you … or you aren’t sure how.

But it’s a story we’re paying close attention to because we think there’s more to the story than meets the eye … with potentially HUGE ramifications.

Here’s a summary of the story in a series of headlines …

Okay, so what? What does any of this mean to a Main Street real estate investor?

Think of it this way …

If this was a military war and not a trade war … and there was a chance a bomb could land on YOU … would you pay attention?

But a bomb isn’t really the best analogy. It’s more like biological warfare.

There are financial diseases which could be unleashed into the financial system … and YOUR portfolio and future opportunities might get infected.

So now it’s not as simple as just watching out for dropping bombs.

Now you need enough expertise to recognize the symptoms of diseases while there’s still time to apply an antidote.

But when you KNOW the threat is real and the stakes are high, isn’t it a top priority to get knowledgeable fast?

In Greek mythology, when Achilles was born it was foretold he would die young.

To prevent this, his mother dipped him in magic water which made him invincible.

But the magic water didn’t coat his ankle where his mother held Achilles over the water, so that small part of his body remained vulnerable.

Achilles grew into a mighty man who survived many fierce battles. But one day, someone figured out his weakness … and shot a poisoned arrow into his heel.

Achilles died from the poison.  Today, the term “Achilles heel” is synonymous with a weakness, which in spite of overall strength, can lead to downfall.

In a trade war with China, is it possible Uncle Sam has an Achilles heel?

And if you’re an investor depending on any aspect of U.S. strength for your prosperity, it’s important to be aware and prepare for a possible downfall.

However, China may not actually be interested in destroying the United States.

Nonetheless, they could well be working on a plan to gain advantage over the U.S. … with potentially severe ramifications for Main Street investors.

We realize most American press is filled with reassuring commentaries about Uncle Sam holding all the trump cards (sorry, we couldn’t help ourselves) …

… and that China’s going to back down in this trade war.

And we’ll concede that might APPEAR to happen. But what if China’s playing a different game?

Consider these quotes from famed Chinese military strategist and philosopher, Sun Tzu, in his classic book The Art of War …

“An army may be likened to water, for just as flowing water avoids the heights and hastens to the lowlands, so an army avoids strength and strikes weakness.”

“Therefore, those skilled in war bring the enemy to the field of battle and are not brought there byhim.”

So even if Uncle Sam is more powerful … virtually invincible, as Achilles was … it’s possible for a strategic adversary to strike a victorious blow …

… just like the biblical story of little David taking on invincible giant Goliath.

The counter-argument is that China’s self-interest precludes it from inflicting serious harm on the United States … because China needs the U.S. to buy all it’s stuff.

True … but back to The Art of War 

“ … the best policy is to take a state intact; to ruin it is inferior to this … To subdue the enemy without fighting is the acme of skill.”

“Take advantage of the enemy’s unpreparedness; travel by unexpected routes and strike him where he has taken no precautions.”

And since we’re in the mood for quoting … here’s something we wrote heading into our Future of Money and Wealth conference …

A very interesting book we just finished is Exorbitant Privilege by Barry Eichengreen. He’s Professor of Political Science and Economics at Cal Berkeley.

Eichengreen published this book in 2011, which means he probably wrote it in 2010. Keep this in mind as we share these excerpts …

“What if foreigners dump their holdings and abandon the currency [dollar]? What, if anything, could U.S. policymakers do about it?”

“… it would have to start with what precipitated the crash and caused foreigners to abandon the dollar.”

“One trigger could be political conflict between the United States and China. The simmering dispute over trade and exchange rates could break into the open … American politicians … could impose an across-the-board tariff on imports from [China].”

Eichenberg wrote this at least FIVE years before Donald Trump even announced his candidacy, much less started his Presidency.

He’s basically saying the U.S. dollar could be America’s Achilles heel. One that Uncle Sam may not be taking adequate precautions to protect.

So …. did China “bring the enemy to the field of battle”?

We don’t know.

But as discussed in detail at Future of Money and Wealth, it sure seems there’s a bigger game being played.

For individual investors to understand all this and take appropriate precautions takes an investment of time, money, and energy.

It’s a bit more complex than just watching for big bombs to drop.  And sadly, it’s too much effort for most folks.

So they’ll just hope for the best, and trust the people in charge to have the skills and motivations to do the right thing.

But after hearing Ben Bernanke tell everyone in 2007 that the sub-prime crisis was contained and there’s nothing to worry about … we’re not convinced.

So we’ll close with this final quote from Sun Tzu …

“To rely on rustics and not prepare is the greatest of crimes; to be prepared beforehand for any contingency is the greatest of virtues.”

If you think it’s a good idea to be aware and prepared for the ramifications of what the news is only hinting at …

… consider investing the time and money to watch the Future of Money and Wealth.

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.

Can you handle the truth?

“You can’t handle the truth!” 

 – Jack Nicholson in A Few Good Men

Neither optimists or pessimists can handle the truth.Optimists refuse to acknowledge the part of reality that’s negative …

… while pessimists can’t see the ever-present opportunities hidden behind the problems.

While we’d rather be optimistic than pessimistic, maybe it’s better to be BOTH.“The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.” 

 – F. Scott Fitzgerald 

Here are some thoughts about risk and opportunity from legendary real estate investor Sam Zell …

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.   Can I bear the cost?  Can I survive it?” 

You can only take calculated risks if you look carefully at both the upside AND the downside.

Today, the entire global financial system is largely based on “full faith and credit” … primarily in the United States dollar.

And there’s a gigantic investment industry that’s built on perpetual optimism …and a belief non-stop debt-fueled growth FOREVER is actually possible.

Even worse, the entire financial system’s fundamental structure literally REQUIRES perpetual growth to avoid implosion.

That’s why central banks and governments are COMMITTED to debt and inflation … at almost ANY cost.

But as Simon Black points out in Future of Money and Wealth 

History is CLEAR.  Empires and world reserve currencies don’t last forever.

And irredeemable paper currencies and out-of-control debt ALWAYS end badly … at least for the unaware and unprepared.

Optimists can’t see this.  So they take HUGE risks they don’t even know exist.

Pessimists can’t act.  So they miss out on the HUGE opportunities that are the flip-side of the very problems they obsess over.

Robert Kiyosaki stresses the importance of being REALISTS …

… standing on the edge of the coin, seeing BOTH sides … and then being decisive and confident to ACT in pursuit of opportunities while being keenly aware of the risks. 

We created the Future of Money and Wealth to gather a diverse collection of speakers and panelists together … to examine the good, the bad, and the ugly …

… so YOU can have more context and information to make better investing decisions. 

Chris Martenson opens our eyes to the physical limitations of long-term perpetual exponential growth which depends on unlimited supplies of clearly LIMITED resources.

Of course, as these critical resources dwindle, they’ll become very expensive as too much demand competes for too little supply.

When you see nation’s fighting over scarce resources, it’s a sign of the times.

But of course, there’s OPPORTUNITY hidden inside of crisis.

And to seize the opportunity, you must understand it … or it just sits there like a hidden treasure under your feet.

But it’s not just recognizing trends.  It’s also TIMING.  And being a lot early is much better than being even just a little late.

To beat the crowd, you can’t wait for the crowd to affirm you. 

To get timing right, it’s important YOU know what the signs are.

What does it mean when Russia dumps Treasuries and buys gold?  What caused Bitcoin to sky-rocket in 2017?  Why are there bail-in provisions in U.S. banking laws?

Peter Schiff saw fundamental problems in the financial system back in 2006 … and screamed from the rooftops that the financial system couldn’t support the then red-hot economy.

Few listened … then WHAM!  In 2008, the weakness of the financial SYSTEM was exposed … and MANY people were CRUSHED.

Peter insists the REAL crash is still yet to occur … and everything that made the financial SYSTEM weak in 2006 is MUCH WORSE today.

Yet small business and consumer OPTIMISM is at all-time highs.  The ECONOMY appears to be BOOMING … again.  And Peter’s still screaming out his warnings.

The Fed is RAISING interest rates to cool things down.  But history says EVERY SINGLE TIME the Fed embarks on a rate raising campaign it ends in RECESSION.

In Future of Money and WealthFannie Mae chief economist Doug Duncan reveals when he thinks the next recession is coming … and WHY.  We listen to Doug because he’s got a really good track record.

The 2008 crisis exposed real estate investors to the REALITY that what happens on Wall Street, at the Fed, and in the global economy … can all rain down HARD on Main Street. 

Ignoring it doesn’t make it go away.  And you’ll die of old age waiting for the storm clouds to blow away.

There will ALWAYS be risk.  There will always be OPPORTUNITY. 

It’s not the external circumstances which dictate what YOU get.

It’s really up to YOU … and your ability, like Sam Zell, to see both opportunity and risk, so you can aggressively reach for opportunity while carefully navigating risks.

Education, perspective, information, and thoughtful consideration are all part of the formula.

That’s why we created the Future of Money and Wealth video series.

Future of Money and Wealth features TWENTY videos … over fourteen hours of expert presentations and panels …

… covering the dollar, oil, gold, real estate, crypto-currencies, economics, geo-politics, the new tax law …

… PLUS specific strategies to protect and GROW wealth in the face of potentially foundation-shaking changes to the financial system.

Just ONE great idea can make or save you a fortune. 

Future of Money and Wealth might just be one of the best investments you’ll ever make.

To order immediate access to Future of Money and Wealth … 

Click here now >> 


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.

Appraisals – Find, Negotiate and Fund Better Deals

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder … and in real estate, an appraisal is what gives you the unbiased, third party opinion on a property.

Appraisals happen whenever a lender is involved in a transaction, but that’s not the only time you’ll need or want an appraisal.

We’ll examine the three ways appraisers can evaluate a property, why you shouldn’t accept an appraisal as gospel truth, and how you can use an appraisal to SAVE money on your next deal

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

  • Your valuable host, Robert Helms
  • His admiring co-host, Russell Gray

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Understand what an appraisal is

Nearly everyone who has purchased a property has dealt with an appraiser. In most all cases involving a lender, an appraiser is involved.

A lender is one of several parties interested in the value of a property. The seller, buyer, and lender all have an interest in knowing about value for different reasons.

But, an appraiser has no vested interest in a property’s value, making them the neutral third party. However, even though they are neutral, it’s good to keep in mind that their appraisal is an opinion of value.

While lenders are often interested in an appraisal to check out the value of the home versus the loan, it’s a FANTASTIC tool for investors, too.

Appraisers can determine the value of a property based on future use. Depending on what improvements or changes an investor plans to make, the value of a property changes.

So, why would you need to understand valuation?

  • To secure a loan
  • To evaluate a deal
  • To understand your portfolio’s value

An appraisal doesn’t only happen when evaluating or completing a real estate deal. It’s a way to understand your portfolio and properties at any point along the way.

Decode the jargon

An appraisal has a very specific purpose. Its job is to solve a problem: what is the highest and best use for this? That’s the challenge.

Appraisers in many countries use the same methods and standards to solve this problem. The Appraisal Standards Board (ASB) develops, interprets, and amends the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP).

The appraisal report is created using a combination of three methods:

  1. Sales comparison method. Look at similar properties and what they’ve sold for recently.
  2. Capitalization approach (income approach). This is the value the property based on the income it generates. What are people renting for right now? Where else could they go locally? In some cases, there aren’t many comps to look at, so the income a property is currently generating might be more appropriate.
  3. Summation approach (Cost segregation approach). Look at the income from the property and ask: What would it cost today for the land, construction, and development? This is a way to appraise a large, one-off or unique building.

The appraisers job is to look at the value based on these approaches and to weigh them properly.

How to use an appraisal report

Since appraisal reports are a third-party opinion of value, they aren’t set in stone, and shouldn’t be taken as the gospel truth.

Once you know what goes into an appraisal report, you can think critically about them and extract the parts that are useful.

And, it can be a valuable tool for negotiation.

In some cases, if an appraisal comes back LOWER than the offered price, it’s appropriate to go to the seller and start with that valuation in the negotiations.

Or, if you’re planning to go in on a deal with someone else and need to split the property value later, an appraisal is that neutral party that provides the numbers.

As with any expert, appraisers have a WEALTH of knowledge, and it’s worth learning a little about their craft. Some appraisers have some impressive niches, including airports, commercial buildings, and even haunted properties!

If possible, try to be on-site for an appraisal and learn what the appraiser is looking for. All of this information feeds into your education and foundation on how to improve properties to get the best bang for your buck … especially in a refinance or a sale.

Appraisals are a valuable tool for an investor. Whenever possible, be sure to spend the money on an experienced, well-respected appraiser. Then, when you get your report, understand the value AND the limitations of a report as you make your important investment decisions!


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.

Headlines say real estate funds performing well …

Regular followers know we’re news hawks.  We scour the headlines for clues about opportunities and threats facing real estate investors.

We look at the good, the bad, the ugly … and consider things at the micro, macro, geo-political, and systemic level.

Even though we watch a broad range of real estate niches … we tend to look at the world through the eyes of a syndicator.

We think raising private capital to invest in real estate is the single BEST opportunity for real estate investors … and one of the best business opportunities in ANY industry.

So it didn’t surprise us when the following headline popped up on page one ofYahoo Finance, the most visited financial website on the internet …

Closed-End Real Estate Funds Are Performing Well

The real estate market is booming … Not surprisingly … funds that focus on real estate have been posting good numbers …”

A “closed-end fund” just means a fund which raises a specified amount of money, then closes to new investors.

This is different than a typical “open-end fund” like a mutual fund which continually accepts new investors.

Our point today is … 

Mainstream headlines are informing the market real estate is a winner …

…and that individual investors can access real estate through funds … versus taking on the personal hassles of tenants, toilets, and termites.

Of course, the aforementioned article is talking about publicly traded funds, which come with a host of risks most Main Street investors are unaware of.

But if YOU are thinking of investing in real estate through a publicly traded fund, OR …

… if you’re talking to Main Street investors about investing in YOUR real estateprivate placement (syndication) …

… then you’ll find it VERY helpful to understand the risks in public funds.

Publicly-traded real estate funds can be used as gambling chips in Wall Street casinos … just like any publicly traded stock.

This means speculators (gamblers) can short-sell, trade on margin, and use options … all of which add volatility to the share price.

So even if the underlying asset is as stable as the rock of Gibraltar … the share price can bounce all over the place as it’s traded in the casinos.

Of course, if you’re a long-term buy-and-hold paper-asset investor, maybe that doesn’t matter to you … just don’t watch the share prices or you might get nauseous.

But MUCH less understood is the counter-party risk every paper-asset investor faces because of the way paper-asset trading is facilitated.

In short, counter-party risk is the exposure you have when an asset on your balance sheet (a stock, bank account, a bond) which is simultaneously someone else’s liability.

In other words, they own the the asset and OWE it to you.  YOU own an IOU.

If the counter-party fails to perform or deliver … you LOSE.

Most people understand the concept of counter-party risk … but many don’t understand all the places they’re actually exposed to it.

And it’s a LOT more than you might think.

In the case of publicly-traded securities, like closed-end real estate funds, you’re NOT the registered owner … your broker is.

You get “beneficial ownership” through what is effectively an IOU from your broker to you.  The fund doesn’t even know you exist.

Of course, this is all fine as long as the financial system supporting all this is sound.  But in a crisis, if the broker fails, you might end up a loser.

It’s not unlike what happened in the 2008 financial crisis …

In short, individual mortgages … which are great assets to own … were pooled into securities and made into gambling chips in the Wall Street casinos.

Because the “beneficial ownership” of the mortgages changed hands so quickly, it was all facilitated through a system called Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems (MERS).

When the financial system nearly collapsed in 2008, the flaws of MERS were exposed … as the legal documentation required to affirm clean title to the asset wasn’t properly maintained.

Some of the beneficial owners of the mortgages couldn’t prove legal ownership and lost when property owners challenged foreclosure in courts. Huge mess.

So there’s a BIG difference between “beneficial ownership” and actual ownership.  And the difference isn’t exposed until it matters.

Sometimes that’s ugly for investors.

The GREAT news for you and your investors is … it’s NOT necessary to play in the Wall Street casinos to get into a real estate fund.

In fact, we’d argue it’s better if you don’t.

If you’re following The Real Estate Guys™, you’re probably already a fan of real estate and may already be a successful individual property investor.

Maybe you’re considering, or have already started, putting together groups of investors to syndicate bigger deals.

Or maybe you’re tired of being an active investor … and now you’re looking to stay in real estate, but as a passive investor in another investor’s deal.

In any case, it’s important to understand the BIG differences between public and private real estate fund investing.

As an investor in a private offering, you directly own the entity which directly owns the asset.  There’s no counter-party who owes you the shares. YOU own them.

We think when you delve into the differences, you’ll agree private offerings are arguably a MUCH better way to go.

Of course, if you’re interested in starting your OWN real estate investment fund, the timing couldn’t be much better.

Headlines are telling the marketplace real estate funds are performing well.

And when you explain the important differences between public and private funds, we’re guessing you’ll get more than your fair share of investors interested in investing with YOU.

Main Street investing in Main Street … outside of the Wall Street casinos.  We like it.

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.

Brad Sumrok’s Apartment Investor Mastery National Conference

Dallas, Texas USA

August 18, 2018

 

Join Brad Sumrok, Grant Cardone, Robert Helms, Russell Gray, Tom Wheelwright, and John Sebree at Apartment Investor Mastery’s National Conference!

 

Click here now to register today >>

 

HOT – HOT – HOT!

 

Apartments have been the hottest sector of real estate investing for the last decade. Dallas has been one of the hottest markets.
And Brad Sumrok’s Apartment Investor Mastery program has become one of the hottest apartment training programs in the nation!

Check out this short video featuring Brad Sumrok …

 

 

Brad’s Apartment Investor Mastery Training has EXPLODED … and for good reason. Brad’s the real deal. He walks the talk … and his training delivers results.

At his first ever national conference, Brad’s put together a powerful line-up of outstanding speakers … covering hot topics and attracting investors from all over the country.

 

Great things can happen when you attend AIM NAT CON …

 

  • Discover how the new tax laws make apartment investing EVEN BETTER … and how Brad personally saved over $800,000 in taxes with just ONE tax tip from Tom Wheelwright

  • Find out how small-time investors can GO BIGGER FASTER when they discover the secrets of successful syndication

  • Network with hundreds of other investors … just ONE relationship can change your life

  • Meet and hear from some of the most knowledgeable, connected and successful investors and syndicators in the nation

 

SPACE IS LIMITED and SEATS ARE SELLING FAST

 

Click here now to register today >>

 

Save a Million Dollars in Taxes with Apartments

Death and taxes are the two things you can count on in life. But, there is no need to pay a penny more than you owe. And, while we talk a lot about ways you can grow wealth and do bigger deals faster, today we’re talking about how to reduce one of your biggest expenses … taxes.

With tax reform and other favorable policies for real estate investors, now is the time to look at your strategy and make some changes to reduce your liability.

This week’s guest did just that … he took a piece of advice from our Summit at Sea and turned it into a BIG win. After making a big apartment deal, he saved over $1 million in taxes across ALL his earnings.

Remember, we aren’t tax or legal professionals. We think you’ll get some great insight from this story. But, when it comes to your OWN personal tax situation, be sure to find a pro to guide you.

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

  • Your tax-wise host, Robert Helms
  • His tax-free co-host, Russell Gray
  • Guest, Brad Sumrok, apartment investor and coach

Listen

 


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Real estate investment returns are more than just cash

When we buy investment property, we most often look at the cash return. But, there are so many other benefits and things to consider when looking at a deal:

  • Cash flow. This is the big one. You want more income than expenses.
  • Long-term capital appreciation. The equity in the property gets bigger as the loan gets smaller.
  • Amortization. Every month you’re paying principal and interest, and your principal is decreasing.
  • Tax benefit. The government wants to incentivize real estate investment, and there’s a HUGE opportunity to reduce your liability.

Why look at your taxes now? For the first time since the ’80s, Congress has made significant changes to the tax code.

We definitely don’t suggest letting the tax tail wag the investment dog, but this year is the perfect time to dive deeper.

But, definitely don’t go at this alone. The best thing you can do is seek out an expert to guide you through these tax changes and give you the best advice for your specific situation.

Saving a million in taxes … it’s possible

Brad Sumrok is a long-time friend and a well-known player in the apartment investing space. He has thousands of doors and teaches students how to syndicate and buy into big apartment deals.

He also has an AMAZING story to tell about how he recently  saved big on his taxes.

“I had a goal in the past that I wanted to pay $1 million in taxes,” Brad said.

But, he recently realized that just because he was earning more, it didn’t mean he had to PAY more in taxes. And he learned how to look at real estate as more than just appreciation and cash flow but also as a way to reduce his liability.

But first, let’s talk more about the deal.

Brad was evaluating a deal for a 124-unit apartment building. The returns were on the lower end of what his threshold is, and he almost walked away.

But, after taking into consideration the tax savings earned from depreciation, Tom realized that a marginal deal was actually a fantastic deal.

One of the reasons this deal worked out so well was because of bonus depreciation. While apartment buildings have a depreciation period of 27.5 years, for certain improvements and components, you can take 100 percent of the depreciation in the first year you own a property.

Since the bonus depreciation wasn’t subject to passive loss limitations, Brad was able to use the depreciation loss to offset their total income … which meant he saved $1.2 million!

“It took a marginal deal and turned it pretty much into a home run,” Brad said.

Taking hold of a good idea

After you read Brad’s story, remember not to get too caught up in the numbers. Every deal and tax situation is different.

But, what Brad did was remarkable. He took a conversation he had with an expert at one of our events and put it into action.

What is the value of one great idea or one good relationship? You never know what you don’t know. Put yourself in a position to find that great idea and explore it.

Sitting in a seminar room, attending a webinar, or listening on a phone call will never be enough. Putting an idea into practice is what saved Brad thousands of dollars, earning the cost of his attendance at an event several times over!

If you want more exposure to new people and new ways of doing things, we invite you to attend Brad’s Apartment Investor Mastery National Conference on August 18.

The Guys will be there talking about apartment investing and it’s sure to be a valuable, exciting event. Register by going to the events section on our website or sending an email to bradconference [at] realestateguysradio [dot]com.

We hope 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.

SWOT are you worried about …

A common adage is “treat your investing as a business”.  

Good advice!  And at first blush, you might think it means …

  • Figuring out your mission, vision, values …
  • Establishing clearly defined goals and objectives …
  • Developing strategies, tactics, processes, policies and procedures …
  • Recruiting, training, and leading a team …
  • Setting up communication and accountability rhythms, and processes for evaluating progress and making adjustments

All true.  But it’s also very important to pay attention to the economic environment you’re operating in.

A popular business planning tool is SWOT analysis … which stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats.

SWOT helps you make better decisions about where to focus time, attention, and resources.

Most amateur investors focus only on opportunity.  They look for it.  They chase it.  They stretch their limits reaching for it.

And sometimes they end up in dangerous deals by not leveraging their strengths, acknowledging their weaknesses, or recognizing external threats.

In Am I Being Too Subtle?, multi-billionaire real estate investor Sam Zell says a big part of his success is the ability to understand the DOWNSIDE … and still proceed.

Most people ignore threats because they’re a downer.  It FEELS better to focus on sunshine.  It’s just not smart.

Risk is gloomy.  It doesn’t sell seminars, books, or video-courses.  And it can chase away an audience.

So investors are under-served by most gurus, media, and pundits because few talk candidly about threats.

Yet it can SAVE YOUR FINANCIAL LIFE.  So we do it anyway.

Besides, the flip-side of most risk is opportunity.  So when you frame looking at threats as searching for opportunities, it’s not so bad.

Part of SWOT is about assessing the environment you’re operating in.

We divide investing environments into four categories … Micro, Macro, Geo-Political, and Systemic.

Micro factors include …

  • The property, parties to the transaction; financing, etc.
  • The neighborhood, local economy; local laws, taxes, customs, etc.
  • The local team … property manager, on-site staff, etc.

Micro factors are where most investors start and finish … because micro factors are easiest to see and handle along the shortest path to getting the deal done.

Macro factors include …

  • Interest rates and factors which drive them
  • Federal taxes and laws
  • Policies affecting job creation, living costs, real wages, consumer and business confidence
  • Economic factors affecting energy, materials and commodities costs, currency strength, etc.

Sure … this is some heady stuff …

And if you’re only going to play small and VERY conservatively, maybe not worth all the effort to watch and interpret macro factors.

Then again … many small investors got killed when the Tax Reform Act of 1987 changed the tax treatment of rental properties.

They probably wish they’d been more aware and prepared.  When things are changing, a “wait and see” approach can be painful.

But if you plan to play big … and especially if you’re going to raise money from private investors … you’ll definitely want to invest in your macro education.

Remember … the 2008 crisis which crushed many unprepared investors started at the macro level … before crashing down on the micro level.

Most micro-players (including us), didn’t see the storm forming at the macro level until the monsoon hit.  Bad scene.

So … how much advance notice do YOU want when something major is lurking on the horizon?  More is probably better.

Geo-Political factors include …

  • Currency and trade wars
  • Oil and energy policies
  • International treaties (trade, land-use, etc.)

Most people hear about geo-political factors in the news all the time … but don’t consider or understand their impact on Main Street micro-investing.

Systemic factors include …

  • The financial system … currency, banking, bond market, etc.
  • The environment … energy, climate, water, etc.

We think systemic factors just might be the BIGGEST threat most investors aren’t paying any attention to.

Yes, it’s a lot to consider.  And maybe you doubt it really matters to your daily real estate investing.

That’s what we thought … before 2008.

Then we found out the VERY hard way these things DO affect Main Street investing … so thinking about them isn’t just for wonky paper asset pundits.

Let’s look at some recent headlines … how they might affect our Main Street investing … and let’s just focus on oil …

Is The Oil Industry Repeating A Critical Error – Oilprice.com 7/14/18

 “ … Wall Street has been subsidizing the consumption of oil on Main Street.”

“… the punishing price decline in oil from 2014 to 2016 … resulted in deep cuts in exploration and development throughout the industry …”

“… there isn’t an oil price … both low enough to avoid economic stagnation …  yet high enough … to prevent a decline in the overall rate of production worldwide.”

Let’s break it down …

Energy is essential to economic activity.  No energy, no growth. Restricted energy, restricted growth.  Expensive energy, expensive growth.  You get the idea.

Energy is a key input into the cost of EVERYTHING.  When subsidies mask rising costs, economic numbers look better than they really are.

Remember …  a strong economy is NOT the same thing as a strong financial system.

Investors make mistakes when they deploy capital based on false readings or temporary circumstances.

Remember what happened to real estate investors who flocked to North Dakota because of the oil boom … a boom only possible because of high oil prices.

When oil prices crashed, so did the North Dakota real estate boom.  Investors only watching micro-factors … and even macro-factors … didn’t see it coming.

Whether it was Saudi Arabia attacking U.S. frackers … or the U.S. directing an economic assault on Russia’s oil revenue … oil prices fell because of what was happening at the geo-political level.

So today, knowing oil prices affect economic growth, consider these recent headlines …

It takes cheap energy to grow an economy fast.  And with the Fed raising interest rates, Trump’s using tax cuts and cheap energy to goose the economy.

He’s got to out-run ballooning deficits and rising interest costs.  Cheap energy … even if only temporary … buys some time.

But cheap energy doesn’t fund the exploration necessary to replace oil being consumed.  Very few people on financial TV talk about this.

That’s why we hang out with brainiac Chris Martenson.  He’s a fun guy … a positive guy … but he’s a realist.  It’s sobering.  Brutal facts can be that way.

At some point, supply and demand take over and prices rise … slowing or reversing economic growth, driving up costs, and probably bankrupting marginal businesses.

Many billions in oil industry debt could go bad.  Remember when sub-prime mortgage debt went bad?

The financial system today is rife with counter-party risk, so bad debt can spread like wildfire through credit markets.

We’re not saying it’s going to happen, but we’re watching.  If something starts to break, we want to see it sooner rather than later.

Of course, we’re also watching oil, like gold, for its role in currency wars.  We remain convinced the dollar will be a major story in the next ten years… or less.

A little spooky.  But pulling the sheets over our heads doesn’t make it go away.

The good news is there are smart people watching all this … and thinking deeply about what it all means.

That’s why we get together with them regularly on our Investor Summit at Sea and the New Orleans Investment Conference.

These are voices mainstream sunshine-sellers don’t promote.  It’s bad for ratings.

But we put together nearly 14 hours of presentations and panels with all the big brains from our Future of Money and Wealth conference …

So if you missed the live event, you can still see and hear what everyone has to say. Click here to learn more.

Smart business people and investors practice SWOT… and invest in growing their education and network … so they can make better, faster investing decisions … in ANY economic environment.

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.

The Economy is Great Except for One Problem

As real estate investors, we’re always looking toward tomorrow. We’ve had a long, sustained recovery since the market crash in 2008. Many indicators show the economy is on the right track … the stock market is up, unemployment is down, and the dollar is strong.

So, what could be the problem?

We’ll talk about what we’ve learned since 2008 and how we’ve changed the way we look at the economy AND the financial system.

Learn how you can repair your financial roof now while the sun is still shining so when the next downturn comes, you’ll be in better shape to protect and grow your wealth.

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

  • Your weather-any-storm host, Robert Helms
  • His fair-weather co-host, Russell Gray

Listen

 


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Broadcasting since 1997 with over 300 episodes on iTunes!

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Inspecting the financial foundations

From the outside, the economy looks like it’s in good shape. But, just like when you’re evaluating a house, it takes an expert to understand what shape the foundation is in.

While it’s easy to look at the structure and assume everything is going well, a failure to inspect the foundation could cost you dearly.

One of the most important things we learned from the 2008 market crash is the difference between the economy and the financial systems it’s built on.

In order to do that, we knew we needed top-notch inspectors. We changed who we hung out with and started to learn from economic experts outside of real estate.

They taught us about the cracks in the foundation and how we could better prepare for economic downturns. Because while we didn’t see the scope of the crash, there were experts who did!

Through serious study, we’ve learned that this is something that anyone can learn.

So, how did the investors who weathered the storm in 2008 do it? And how can we all be better prepared for next time?

Digging into debt

Our financial system is built on debt. The amount of debt on corporate and government balance sheets is staggering.

When consumer and business confidence is high, everyone borrows to consume more. Eventually, this leads to too much leveraging and over-allocated capital. And the higher the boom, the bigger the bust.

The Federal Reserve has tools in place to help smooth some of the dramatic rises and falls. When the economy slows, they lower interest rates to free up lending. As recovery builds, they raise rates to tighten and restrict lending.

For individual investors, one of the biggest problems was that our portfolios were built for perpetual sunshine. And while the next crash won’t necessarily look the same, there are plenty of similarities.

Shoring up your investments

Learning from the past means you’ll be in a better position to profit from the next downturn. Don’t let the good economic numbers lull you into doing nothing. Use the good times as a wake-up call!

  • Don’t spread your equity too thin. Make sure your deals make sense on paper and that you aren’t lowering your standards. The bigger your portfolio, the more careful you need to be and the fewer mistakes you can make before a market downturn tumbles all your holdings.
  • Keep cash on hand. Don’t over-rely on your credit lines for liquidity.
  • Have your foot near the brake. Keep an eye on your assets, credit, and future deals. There’s no need to panic, but be cautious and thorough.
  • Consider having some properties paid for in cash. If you have a property without a loan, it won’t be a target of or subject to the swings of the market.
  • Acquire recession-resistant real estate. Look for properties in the middle of the market where there’s nearly always demand. Also consider niche investments like long-term storage, luxury properties, or assisted living opportunities.

If you’re looking for a fantastic primer on the financial system, how it is the foundation for the economy, how to recognize the warning signs of a downturn and how prepare for it, check out our video series The Future of Money and Wealth.

We captured some of the best and most relevant information from expert financial minds in 20 sessions you won’t want to miss. The information in this series is a head start into understanding the underpinnings of the system and how to build and protect your wealth in a changing economy.

To learn more, send an email to future [at] realestateguysradio [dot] com.


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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