A big story keeps getting bigger …

We’re just two weeks removed from an epic educational and networking experience at the New Orleans Investment Conference.

While we were there, we threw a little private party and Robert Kiyosaki, Peter Schiff, Chris Martenson, and Brien Lundin all showed up to hob-nob with our listeners.  Very fun.

During the conference, Robert Helms emceed a fascinating panel called The Future of Money, with panelists Doug CaseyDanielle DiMartino Booth andChris Martenson.

(Side note: Chris Martenson, Brien Lundin and Peter Schiff are all confirmed for the 2018 Summit at Sea™ … and we’re still recruiting several other VERY notable speakers.)

It’s clear the future of money and wealth is on the threshold of MAJOR change.

For most people “the dollar” is synonymous with money because their income and wealth are denominated primarily in dollars. So the future of the dollar is an important topic.

Right now, the U.S. dollar is the world’s reserve currency … and Treasuries are considered the safest, most liquid place to save excess dollars.

Treasuries are Uncle Sam’s IOUs.  They’re technically called bills, bonds, and notes … but they’re all debt.

Treasuries also play a major role in how market interest rates are determined … so if you’re a user of debt, the future of Treasuries affects you also.

Yields (rates) and prices of Treasuries are a function of supply and demand.

Like apartment buildings, when investors bid prices UP, yields (like cap rates) fall. 

You may already know it, but just in case, the math is simple:  Income / Price = Rate

For example, $60,000 net operating income on an $800,000 property is a 7.5% cap rate. 

If investors bid the property up to $1 million, it’s $60,000 / $1,000.000 = 6% cap rate.

So high demand creates upward pressure on prices, and downward pressure on yields (cap rates).  Make sense?

The same with Treasuries.  As long as demand is robust relative to supply, interest rates are low.  Strong demand for Treasuries means low interest rates.

If anything substantially alters the supply / demand equilibrium in Treasuries, YOUR asset values and interest rates will feel it.

Lots of government debt means lots of Treasuries for sale.   We’re pretty sure that’s not changing soon.

But TOO MUCH supply means lower prices.  Just like when lots of houses in a neighborhood are for sale at the same time.

DEMAND for Treasuries comes from private investors (small and large), and political investors (governments and central banks).

Private investors buy Treasuries to park large amounts of cash, use as gambling chips in the Wall Street casinos, or serve as collateral in complex financial transactions.

Governments also buy Treasuries as a place to park their reserves.  China and Japan are at the top of the list with over $1 trillion each. 

Treasuries are denominated in dollars.  So countries buy dollars with their own currency, or sell things to the United States and get paid in dollars … then use those dollars to buy Treasuries.

To keep the worldwide economy going, Uncle Sam issues lots of Treasuries and the Fed prints lots of dollars.

As long as everyone trusts the dollar, it’s all hunky-dory.  And this is why so many of our big-brained friends are concerned. 

As we chronicle in our Real Asset Investing special reportChina’s been making substantial moves to undermine the dollar as the world’s reserve currency.

We recently commented on this … and the story continues to unfold.

Here’s the quick backstory …

When the dollar became the most trusted currency on earth in 1944 it was backed by gold.  In 1971 Uncle Sam defaulted on the gold backing.

Not surprisingly, the world dumped dollars which triggered excessive inflation (rising prices, loss of purchasing power).  The U.S. quickly came up with a plan to save the dollar.

Uncle Sam made a deal with Saudi Arabia … for oil to ONLY be sold for dollars and the Saudi’s would invest their profits in Treasuries.  Clever.

Then the Fed raised rates to nearly 20% to “break the back of inflation.”  If you wonder why inflation is scary, look at life in Venezuela right now.

Inflation is caused by too many dollars in circulation relative to goods and services available.

High interest rates slow borrowing.  It’s a long story, but new dollars are born when you borrow.  Reducing borrowing slows the birth of new dollars.

High interest rates also suck excess dollars into banks and Treasuries, as people and nations save for yield (interest).

These moves shifted demand for the dollar from Uncle Sam’s savings (gold) to the oil and bond markets. 

Back then, the U.S. had the biggest manufacturing economy, most productive workforce, the strongest military, and very little debt.

Of course, MANY things have changed … and more change is likely coming to an economy near you.

Today, no one cares about gold … except China and Russia, who are accumulating hundreds of tons a year.  Hmmm… that’s interesting.

Coincidentally, Russia and China are the #2 and #3 military powers in the world behind the United States.

China is now the largest manufacturing economy and top importer of oil.  Russia is the #2 seller of oil … behind (wait for it …) Saudi Arabia.

Russia and China recently made a deal to trade oil in Chinese currency (the yuan) … instead of dollars.   

China already has major oil producers Iran and Venezuela on board the petro-yuan train.

And now there’s talk China will “compel” the Saudi’s to deal in yuan too.  When you’re the big customer, you have negotiating leverage.

China also recently announced plans to create a yuan-denominated oil contract, which some say is a big step towards creating a robust yuan-backed bond market.

And to top it all off, it’s been reported China is flirting with the idea of backing those petro-yuan contracts with gold.

The Chinese are infamous for seeing a good idea and copying it. 

Right now, it seems China has reverse-engineered the dollar’s rise to dominance and is simply copying it … and it looks like they’re making steady progress towards their goal.

The BIG questions are …

What does it mean to YOU and what can YOU do to grow and protect YOUR wealth?

Of course, that’s a HUGE discussion and we’re working on something BIG to address it.

For now, when you think about the future of money and wealth, here are some things to consider …

Investors, many probably born after 1971, are piling into Bitcoin … driving it up at an insane rate.

Motives we’ve heard for Bitcoin-mania include moving wealth into an “asset” which can’t be simply printed out of thin air.

Interestingly, Bloomberg reports that online searches for “buy Bitcoin” have exceeded “buy gold.” 

Some use the border-less nature of Bitcoin to escape capital controls and discreetly move wealth out of totalitarian jurisdictions. 

Of course, some are buying Bitcoin simply because “it’s going up” and they want to strike it rich in dollar terms.

Meanwhile, plans have been announced to launch a Bitcoin futures market … just like already exists for gold.  

Ironically, futures markets are the very mechanism many pundits claim gold prices are suppressed with … to discourage those concerned about the dollar from seeking safety in gold.

We’ll see what happens to Bitcoin.  Meanwhile, Russia, China and several other nations continue to accumulate gold.

As for the U.S., it’s all about the red-hot stock market.

Of course, as our friend Simon Black points out, the top performing stock market is Venezuela. So a booming market isn’t necessarily the bellwether of a healthy economy.

Where does real estate fit into all this?

History says real estate fares pretty well when shift happens.

Even in chaotic financial times, people still need a roof over the head, crops still need to grow, commerce goes on … and real estate is at the center of human activity.

Of course, that doesn’t mean all real estate investors everywhere make it. 

We took it hard in 2008 because we weren’t prepared for a sudden shift.  We’re working hard to be better prepared today.

One thing’s for sure … there’s never been a more important time to get SERIOUS about your financial education and strategic network.

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.

Halloween Horror Stories 2017

Halloween may be yesterday’s news, but we’ve collected a killer bunch of horror stories that will give you a good spook … no matter what time of year it is.

In this annual segment, we’ll share seven tales of real estate investing gone horribly wrong … and the lessons investors took away from their nightmarish experiences.

This blog post features four of the stories … to hear the full collection, including stories about downed trailer parks, burning buildings, and more, listen to our podcast episode!

In our 2017 edition of Halloween Horror Stories you’ll hear from:

  • Your far-from-frightening host, Robert Helms
  • His co-host, an all-around scary guy, Russell Gray
  • Formidable five-decade investor, Bob Helms
  • Our formerly frightened guests

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Drugs, guns, and squatters

Peter and Monique bought a property … only to find out it was quite a nightmare. The pair bought a C-class apartment building about a year ago.

“The issue was not the fire, or the landscaper that was shot, or the gun that was pulled on the on-site manager, or the homeless people who set up in one of the empty apartments for Valentine’s Day,” says Peter. “No, the problem was even worse than that … it was the property management company.”

Peter and Monique thought they did their due diligence.

Their property management company, which the last property owner had also used, was the biggest and best in the state.

But the numbers started telling a different story.

Still, when Peter and Monique spoke to the people at the property management company, they were pleasant and reassuring.

The numbers kept sliding … for eight months, until the couple finally decided to hire a new property management company.

The pair discovered after the fact that the former management company had been negligent on all fronts. Although the company had a set of policies and standards that looked great on paper, they hadn’t been following them.

The property managers were not screening tenants, paying important bills, or handling maintenance issues. Some leaks hadn’t been fixed for MONTHS.

One of the most difficult parts of the situation was saying goodbye to the former company, who Monique and Peter had been friendly with and liked personally.

But today, Monique and Peter have contracted with a smaller boutique property management company that an investor acquaintance recommended to them.

They have weekly check-ins with the property management company, which has been staying on top of issues, so far.

Lesson: Don’t trust a property management company just because someone else trusts them. Do your due diligence … and then let the numbers inform your decisions. And always keep tabs on your property manager with regular check-ins and in-person visits.

The money pit

Felicia is a doctor and frequent traveler. She’s also a real estate investor.

She’s a busy lady. So, when her real estate agent found a great deal on a portfolio of eight homes while Felicia was out of town, Felicia didn’t hesitate to say yes.

Four properties were in good condition and already had tenants, while the other four were fixer-uppers. Not a problem … Felicia figured she could use the profits from the first four homes to fix up the second set of four.

The fixer-uppers were in C- and D-class neighborhoods, and Felicia discovered that her attempts at repairs were constantly thwarted … because every time her contractors left equipment and materials outside, they were stolen.

She was sinking money into the properties at a horrifying rate. Finally, Felicia asked how much it would cost to do all the repairs.

She got a $50,000 loan from her bank and used it to complete the repairs … only to discover that her 50k was gone and the buildings still weren’t ready for tenants.

At that point, she had to decide whether to keep digging herself into an even deeper hole. She decided to sell.

Felicia says if she could have done it differently, she would have made sure her investing partner was on board before proceeding with the deal. She found out after the fact that her partner hadn’t even made on-site visits while she was out of town.

She also would have had a general contractor or inspector go through the fixer-uppers and give her a quote and a time frame for repairs.

And finally, she would’ve made sure she was well capitalized so she could finance the repairs.

Lessons: Do your due diligence before purchasing a property. Understand your partner and make sure they’re all in. And if you do get into a bad situation, make sure you have the awareness to know when to stop.

The chilling chop saw massacre

Michael M. was driving by his property one day when he saw something truly horrifying … his tenant had fired up a chop saw and cut a ragged hole into the brick wall of his building.

An apartment on top and mini-market on the bottom, the property didn’t have any big problems … until one hot day when the mini-market tenant to put in an air-conditioning unit themselves.

Michael said he did a few things when he found out.

He was tempted to be offended that his tenant had permanently altered the building … so his first order of business was to get over his initial shock and anger.

Next, he talked to the tenant. He collected the tenant’s hefty security deposit and made it very clear that any unapproved alterations would be cause for removal.

Then, he hired some professionals to fix up the hack job done by his tenant. The tenant paid the bill.

Lesson: Make sure tenants are aware of the provisions of their lease and the consequences for violating those provisions. And make sure you’re covered by collecting security deposits from tenants.

A killer of a deal

BJ and Pauline’s problem started with their quest for a 1031 tax-deferred exchange.

The couple wanted to use the equity in their four-plex to buy a larger multi-unit apartment building.

They found the perfect property … or so they thought. It was a 12-unit building that fit all their criteria.

While doing their due diligence, however, the couple hired an inspector and began to realize the building would take a lot of work to get up to par.

All right, they thought … we can handle that.

Then BJ decided to do a few walkthroughs himself, without the real estate agent. On one visit, he ran into the maintenance man and got the real story about the building.

Apparently, the current property manager had recently been murdered in one of the building’s units. No one had disclosed that detail to the duo!

That manager had been involved in some “extracurricular activities,” says BJ, and most of the current tenants were there because they’d been connected to the manager’s illegal side job.

Despite their chilling discovery, BJ and Pauline didn’t throw in the towel. Instead, they used the building’s problems to their advantage.

They started by negotiating a rock-bottom price with the owner based on the information they’d discovered.

After purchasing the property, they got started on renovations and hired a new property manager. Their new manager had all the current tenants complete an application and sign a lease … so most of the former tenants moved out.

Although cash flow wasn’t great for a few months, the pair now have 7 out of their 12 apartments filled with vetted tenants. They’re hopeful for the future.

Lessons: Always visit and inspect properties yourself before purchasing. Get someone on the inside to give you the real scoop about the property and area. And at every point in the process, make sure you have a good team in place, including a quality lawyer and a diligent property manager.

Don’t get scared off …

We hope you’re not too scared. The goal of these stories is to encourage, not discourage.

Hopefully this year’s horror stories illustrate that real estate has ups and downs … and that nothing is wrong with you if something goes wrong with a deal.

We also hope you learn vicariously from these lessons and develop strategies for mitigating risk in your own investments.

End up with a horror story of your own? Like our guests, we want you to be able to shift from thinking “Oh no!” to asking, “What can I learn from this?”

Push yourself to fail faster, get better, and always keep learning.


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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.

Amazon’s primed to ignite a real estate market …

You’ve probably heard Amazon has been shopping for a second home.

In typical corporate fashion, Amazon put out an RFP (Request for Proposal) and many North American cities have been falling all over themselves hoping to win the big prize.

And who can blame them?

After all, Amazon is projecting FIFTY-THOUSAND jobs … with an average annual salary of $100,000 … which is $5 BILLION per YEAR … PLUS another $5 BILLION in capital investment.

That’s a LOT of new economic activity to cram into one metro.

Think about it.  Fifty-thousand jobs is enough for every single man, woman, and child in the cities of Cerritos, CA; Harrisburg, PA; or Galveston TX.

Of course, none of those cities are in the running because they’re too tiny.  But the potential impact on whatever metro wins is substantial.

Amazon says they aren’t going to announce until 2018, so we’ll have to wait and see where they end up … and what kind of incentives they get out of the deal.

A quick perusal of the RFP outlines what Amazon is looking for.

Here are some highlights about what Amazon wants in a market …

  • A metro with more than 1 million people
  • A stable and business-friendly environment
  • Urban or suburban locations attractive to technical talent
  • An international airport within 45 minutes with direct flights to key cities
  • Close to freeways
  • High capacity connectivity (fiber optic and cellular)
  • Access to large, educated labor force
  • Attractive community and quality of life for employees

Here’s what Amazon wants in a deal …

  • Access to mass transit to the site
  • “Scale and creativity” in real estate options (it’ll be interesting to see what this looks like)

There’s more, but these are the biggies.

Of course, a business doesn’t have to be Amazon to want these things.  They just have enough clout to make a public spectacle of it.

Meanwhile, there are some things to think about as you watch this unfold.

Primary jobs create secondary and tertiary jobs.

Amazon boasts it’s “been a catalyst for development in downtown Seattle with an abundance of restaurants, services, coffee shops …”.

So it’s not just 50,000 Amazon jobs at stake … it’s billions in local commerce as Amazon’s employees spend big chunks of their salaries in the local community and create lots of non-Amazon jobs.

Amazon claims every dollar they invested in Seattle generates an additional $1.40 for the city’s overall economy.

So on a $5 billion investment, that’s ANOTHER $2 billion in economic juice for the winning geography.

And while local landlords may not rent directly to many of Amazon’s $100,000-per-year workers … Amazon employees’ spending will create lots of lower paying jobs for potential tenants.

It’s a safe bet Amazon’s presence will be good for landlords.

Other employers may follow the leader.

Most companies aren’t big enough to do the kind of research Amazon is doing.

We’re guessing more than a few employers looking to expand or relocate may just decide, “If it’s good enough for Amazon, it’s good enough for us.”

Some businesses may move to the area specifically to be near Amazon.  That’s even more primary, secondary and tertiary jobs.

Again, all very good for landlords.

Don’t end up paying for the farm the city gives away.

Sometimes in their zeal to notch political points or a marquee win, government officials can blow their budgets landing a big fish.

But the big fish … in this case Amazon … doesn’t pay the price.  They’re usually exempted through “incentives.”  Instead, the bill ends up with the locals.

We’re not saying that’s happening here.  We don’t know the terms of any deal.  But it’s something we’ll look at closely when the final deal’s announced.

It’s been reported San Antonio dropped out of the running because of concerns they “would not be highly competitive from a ‘real estate and incentives perspective.’”

San Antonio’s mayor is quoted as saying, “Blindly giving away the farm isn’t our style.”  It probably shouldn’t be yours either.

So pay attention to what the winner pledges … and whether it’s likely to affect property owners or small businesses.

If you’re not careful, you may end up moving in just in time to pick up your share of the tab for the incentives.

The real estate opportunity will develop slowly.

Even though all this is in the news, there’s no easy way for Wall Street hot money to front-run investors into Main Street real estate.  It’s too cumbersome.

So even though you’re watching the opportunity develop on the front page of mainstream financial news, you have a good chance to get in while the getting’s good.

As plans are announced, the impact on local housing, land, retail, and commercial space will become more apparent.

Once the market is announced, the FIRST thing to do is get boots-on-the-ground and build a team.  They’ll help you find the pockets of opportunity.

Our bet is Amazon will pick the best LONG-TERM deal.  They’ve been playing the long game for their entire existence, and Wall Street seems fine with it.

We’d be shocked if the final criteria for Amazon’s decision are primarily financial incentives, which are most important early.

We think the front runners are probably those cities with great infrastructure in terms of airport, freeways, mass transit, education, population, and connectivity.

Cities who don’t already have all this in place probably can’t make investments big enough fast enough to win … no matter how much tax savings and real estate they give away.

Another reason to think the winner will be a bigger metro is the burden of any incentives must be borne by the people and businesses already there.

Many hands make a light load.  If each voter’s slice of the burden is too big, the politicians and Amazon might have a big PR problem.

Amazon’s smart.  If they want big perks without upsetting the locals, they know they’ll need a bigger population to share the load.

But since you’ve read this far, we’ll go out on a limb and say if we had to place a bet (and we don’t), our money would be on Atlanta.

It’s huge, has great everything, and gives the new HQ proximity to both Latin America and Europe.

Of course, we could be dead wrong (and often are), but it’s fun to speculate.

Is Amazon a prime opportunity for real estate investors?

Time will tell, but it’s certainly a story worth watching.  The odds are good.

Any time this much economic activity is pointed at a single market, there’s certainly going to be a lot of opportunity.

The big question is when and where.  Stay tuned!

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.

Ask The Guys – Raising Money, Refinancing, Retirement Funds and More

In our most recent edition of Ask The Guys, we weigh in on topics that are relevant to YOU.

From how to leverage retirement funds to how to get started in real estate without much capital, our questions have been handpicked with our listeners in mind.

Keep in mind that we are not legal or tax professionals. We do not give advice. The ideas in this show are simply that … ideas.

In this edition of Ask The Guys you’ll hear from:

  • Your infinitely wise host, Robert Helms
  • His wise-guy co-host, Russell Gray

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Question: I want to get started in real estate investing, but I don’t have a lot of capital. What can I do to get started now?

Two of our listeners, Miles from Atlanta, Georgia, and Jose in Mesa, Arizona, asked us this question … and it’s no surprise.

When we think about investing, we think about money. But currency doesn’t always mean dollar bills.

Relationships, opportunities, and knowledge are all valuable currency in the real estate investment game.

Find more experienced investors who have equity but don’t have a lot of time. Unlike them, you have time to be boots on the ground and make things happen.

Find a network where you can gain knowledge. Then, bring ideas to the people with cash and show them how to use YOUR hustle for THEIR benefit.

Here’s a quick example … and remember this is just an idea. Always consult professionals before taking action.

You may find someone who owns a dilapidated house. The owner is equity rich but the cash flow is poor. Maybe you could take the opportunity to partner with him. You could say, “I don’t have the money to fix this up, but if it were fixed up, you could get steady cash flow. You have a good credit score and income, so you can borrow. You get the cash, and I’ll do the deal.”

You do the work and fix up the property. You supply the hustle. You make the deal … and then you both split the profits!

The one thing you can always do … right away, everyday … is build your brand, build your reputation, and build your network.

Question: The market for multifamily properties is so competitive. How do I find a property?

Our listener Sid owns a business in Daphne, Alabama. He’s wondering whether he should give up on his search for a multifamily property and focus on setting up a hard location for his business.

Multifamily is SUPER, SUPER COMPETITIVE. It’s hard to find deals that work and even harder to get one of those deals.

The first question to ask when it comes to multifamily properties is, “Am I in the right space?” If you’re like Sid, and the market is hopping, the answer is probably yes.

If you’re in the right space … but it’s a little picked over … try looking off the beaten path to see if you can find a property that will offer more than just financial returns.

If you own a business, consider buying a building bigger than you need and housing tenants adjacent to you.

Find one-off deals that meet your unique set of needs. Be careful with your numbers and have a good plan.

Keep your business and your real estate investments separate.

This gives you flexibility down the line. You may decide one day that you’re going to sell your business and keep the building because you have nurtured and created great tenants. OR, you may decide to sell the building and get some cash but keep your tenancy to operate your business.

Question: What’s the mock real estate game you reference on your show and recommend playing?

Rob in Circleville, Ohio, wants to know about this game we’re always talking about.

It’s called CASHFLOW 101 and was invented and developed by Robert and Kim Kiyosaki.

Now, it isn’t a real estate game necessarily … but it IS a financial game.

When you play a board game you have mental and emotional reactions. If you take the time to dig in and find out why you are reacting in certain ways, you can discover a lot about your mental makeup … and how to change it.

So, this game isn’t as much about information as it is about transformation. It’s a chance to identify your strengths and weakness and take risks in a low-stakes setting.

Question: I need to learn how to raise money. What would you recommend I do?

Jim in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, was bummed to learn that our next Secrets of Successful Syndication seminar isn’t offered until March 2018.

Jim wants to get started in with residential assisted living, but he feels he needs to learn how to raise money first.

There are plenty of things you can do now to learn this valuable skill.  

Syndication is the most entrepreneurial form of real estate. Entrepreneurs go out into the market and find a problem to solve. Then, they convert that problem into an opportunity.  

To create opportunity as a real estate investor, you need to organize your resources … money, people, and ideas.

Get in an environment where you can learn from people who are already syndicating.

Find someone who is successfully doing syndication and say, “Hey, I love to learn. Is there something that I can do to help you?”

Offer your skills … whether you’re good at market research or social media promotion or building websites. Build relationships.

A key to success is learning how to talk to people one-on-one about money.

To raise money, you need to learn the language of investing AND get really comfortable asking the right questions in order to understand another person’s financial situation.

There are a few things you can do to get started:

  • Come to our event How to Win Funds and Influence People.
  • Pick up a book by Sam Freshman called Principles of Real Estate Syndication. This is NOT a motivational book. It’s literally the textbook on syndication and a great way to learn the nuts and bolts of the topic.
  • Listen to syndication-focused episodes of our show on our website. Simply go to the search bar and type in “syndication.”
  • Listen to general financial podcasts. You need to learn the language of money to communicate with other investors about your projects.
  • Sign up for Secrets of Successful Syndication in March. Get on the advanced notice list here to be the first to know when tickets are available.

Question: How can I be sure I’ll have money to refinance a commercial loan when the balloon is due?

Charles in North Palm Beach, Florida, owns a handful of small apartment buildings and a multi-use building with no mortgage. He plans to purchase a 20-unit building when he finds a deal … and he wants to cash out by refinancing his multi-use building when he does.

But Charles … like many of you … keeps thinking about 2008. Because commercial loans now have short terms of 5 or 10 years, he wants to be sure he’ll have money to refinance when the balloon is due.

There is nothing you can do to completely ensure there will be a loan available 5 or 10 years down the line. But even if there isn’t, you WON’T be lost in the woods.

Private capital is always an option.

In order to take advantage of private capital, you need to make sure you have a strong operating property that is generating good cash flow. Cash flow is the price you pay to get your hands on capital.

The other thing you can do is check your balance sheet and make sure you can cross collateralize your loans.

One perk of private lenders is their flexibility compared to other sources. Lenders are more willing to consider multiple sources of equity. And if a private lender doesn’t bite, consider using syndication to refinance instead.

Don’t sit out of the market. You don’t make money sitting out.

Be proactive. Don’t be paranoid.

Charles also asked how we’ve found our best deals.

The answer is relationships. Build your brand. Build your network. Every great deal we have done is with people who know us and understand us.   

Question: Where can I find the “Prepare” report by Chris Martenson that you mentioned on a recent podcast?

Maryanne from Newburyport, Massachusetts, is referring to a recent show that included a special conference call with Chris Martenson and Brien Lundin.

On that call, we discussed a major announcement from China.

China is proposing to deal in the oil trade using a gold-backed currency. This could be a game changer in a worldwide system that isn’t backed by anything.

At the end of that discussion we addressed what you can do to prepare. Listen in to get access to Chris Martenson’s special report.

Chris Martenson will be on the investor Summit at Sea™ with us this year … we also recommend his book Prosper!

Question: Will there be a Belize discovery trip in summer 2018?

Bob in Rio Rancho, New Mexico, and his wife wanted to know how far out we schedule our Belize discovery trips. They want to include a discovery trip in their anniversary vacation … now that’s a good anniversary!

We don’t have the dates for upcoming Belize discovery trips yet, but we do schedule them several months in advance. For a trip in June, check our website in March or April.

Get on the advanced notice list to be notified as soon as dates are announced!

Question: Can I use money from my retirement accounts to make updates to my house?

Daniel in Livermore, California has both a Roth IRA and a traditional IRA. His goal is to maximize his tax deductions and avoid using cash savings to make updates to his home.

We’re not tax advisors … BUT … our understanding is the answer is no.

When it comes to retirement accounts there are lots of things you CAN do, but one of the prohibited transactions is anything to do with your own personal residence.

We suggest talking with a CPA or a lawyer before making any decisions.  

Question: Do you know of anyone who has purchased training for the Residential Assisted Living Academy, and have you heard about subsequent real world successes?

Our final question comes from Lou in Rancho Palos Verdes, California.

You’ve probably heard us interview Gene Guarino on our program. He’s the founder of RAL Academy and teaches folks how to do residential assisted living.

We have been to his trainings and know dozens of people who have not only taken his classes but also found success in the RAL market.

A reminder … we don’t gain anything from Gene’s success … except happiness for him and everyone else.

We love that Gene actually practices what he preaches. You can tour his properties and meet his staff. He has all sorts of resources and services available on the back end if you’d like more help beyond his classes, too.

If you’re serious about being in this or any space … you need a mentor. If you don’t have a mentor in a particular field, hire someone!


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.

This market metric may matter most …

“Live where you want to live, 
but invest where the numbers make sense.”

– Robert Helms

Nice quote.  But it assumes you know what numbers to look at … and whether or not they make sense.

Many times, investors focus primarily on numbers related to the PROPERTY …

… things like rent ratio, gross-rent multiplier, cap rate … and of course cash flow after debt service.

Those are all SUPER important … and you should pay attention to those.

BUT (you knew it was coming) …

Individual properties exist in local markets, which are affected by both macro and regional factors.

Macro factors are things like interest rates, tax rates, and how other markets compare to yours.  Sometimes people move to find greener pastures.

Regional factors include local taxes, landlord laws, economic drivers, supply and demand fundamentals, net migration trends, etc.

So it could be a mistake to focus solely on the property’s numbers.  The market’s numbers matter too.

If your prospective property is in an area with downward trending regional factors, you might end up … as stock traders say … catching a falling knife.

Think Detroit many years ago …

Once the RICHEST city on the planet, Detroit boasted a population of about two million people.  Strong incomes, lots of prosperity, a robust real estate market.

Slowly … for many reasons we won’t delve into now … Detroit’s regional drivers began to weaken.

So even though the numbers on a property in Detroit back then might have looked good at some point during the decline …

… the regional market trend was working against you over the long term.

And just as a rising tide lifts all boats, a receding tide lowers them.

So we think it makes a lot more sense to pick your market BEFORE you pick your property.

Our approach is to pick a market first, then build a local team, and then let the local team help find the right properties.

This way, when you’re running numbers on a specific property, it’s in the context of a market you think has a stable or rising tide.

One market metric we suspect will become increasingly important going forward is rental affordability.

That’s because the long-term trend of net “real” prosperity for working class people has been down … and that’s probably not changing any time soon.

Of course, even if we’re wrong … and we’d love to be … being in affordable markets isn’t a liability.  Again, a rising tide lifts all boats.

But if an area is NOT affordable, you may not have a healthy supply of tenants able to pay your rent …

… and you risk being on the wrong end of a price war to maintain occupancy.

Of course, determining a market’s rental “affordability” is a tad more complicated than just running a pro forma P&L on a specific property.

For example, if rents are low, is the area automatically “affordable”?  Or if rents are rising, is the area becoming less affordable?

Not necessarily.

Affordability is about the ratio between wages and incomes, how many people in an area can afford the area’s rent, and comparing one market to another.

Maybe in an area where rents are rising, wages are going up even faster.  More people start moving in to earn those higher wages, which increases the number of people who can afford the rent.

So rents could be rising, yet the area is becoming more affordable.

Like we said … it’s a little complicated.

Fortunately, there are smart people who study these things and produce fancy reports we can peruse for clues … about markets, trends, and where opportunities are.

New York University’s (NYU) Furman Center cranks out all kinds of research related to housing … including their recently released 2017 National Rental Housing Landscape report.

Page 10 of this report caught our eye because it charts 53 big city areas (“metros”) and compares “share of renter households that were rent burdened” in 2015 versus 2012.

They define “rent burdened” as those tenants paying 30% or more of their income on rent.

Obviously, when a smaller percentage of people in a region are rent burdened, it means a greater percentage can afford to pay whatever the going rent is … and absorb increases in rent or other living expenses.

This puts a little recession insulation in your income property portfolio.

So a number that “makes sense” for a market could be a low percentage of renters who are rent burdened.

Of course, it’s also wise to understand why rents are low relative to incomes.

It could be driven by falling rents (bad), rising wages (good), increases in rental stock (maybe bad), net in-migration (good), or any combination of those and other factors.

So we’re not here to suggest simply because an area is becoming more affordable, it’s automatically a great market to invest in.

But it’s a clue … and worthy of further investigation.

What’s nice about the NYU Furman report is it compares 2012 to 2015 … so you can see whether a metro is trending better or worse for this particular metric.

If a market is more affordable in 2015 than it was in 2012, it’s positive in terms of the number of people who can afford to pay the going rent.  More qualified prospective tenants is a good thing.

Of course, if affordability is driven by primarily by falling rents and rising vacancies, it’s a red flag.

But markets with increasing affordability, and stable rents and occupancies, should probably end up on a short list of markets to pay a visit to.

We’d probably further narrow the list to cities where median rents are in the middle to lower price range compared to other markets …

… because if there’s macro-pressure on renters … say rising expenses in food, energy, healthcare, taxes, or interest … they may move to more affordable areas to find some budget relief.

In tough times, people don’t typically move to more expensive areas. They look for places that are more affordable compared to where they are.

Again, it’s EASY to invest in a rising tide.  But it’s always smart to be ready for if (when) the tide goes out.

All things being equal, a market with rents to the mid-to-low range on a national scale is probably safer when sailing into uncertain economic seas.

So have some fun in the report … toggling between page 6 (median rent by metro) and page 10 (share of rent burdened households).

Look for metros which are affordable locally based on a low percentage of rent burdened population, with increasing affordability from 2012 to 2015 …

… and also affordable nationally when compared to the average rents of other metros.

Kansas City is best for lowest population of rent burdened, with a solid improvement from 2012 to 2015 … and it’s more affordable nationally than two-thirds of the list.

Oklahoma City, Cincinnati, Louisville, and Salt Lake City all also look pretty strong based on these metrics.

Again, this isn’t a final conclusion about great housing markets.  But it’s one set of numbers to consider when looking for markets to investigate.

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.

Certainty in uncertain times …

Sometimes when the world seems to be spinning out of control and not much makes sense, it’s helpful … even necessary … to cling to something stable.

Headlines are filled with wars, rumors of wars, natural disasters, senseless murders, endless divisive vitriolic political rhetoric, greed, corruption, hypocrisy …

And that was just last week.

No wonder so many Americans love to just veg out and get away from it all by watching some football … oh wait.

When it comes to investing, it’s easy to go “full turtle” … retreating into our shells, hunkering down until the storm passes.

History says that’s not a winning strategy.

After all, there have ALWAYS been wars, disasters, corruption, and a zillion reasons to pull the covers over our heads and wait for morning.

But is there ever a time when looking back 20 years, you wish you would NOT have bought more real estate?

We’re guessing folks in 2015 wish they bought more in 1995.  And those in 1995 probably wish they bought more in 1975 … and those in 1975 wish they bought more in 1955 …

You get the idea.  And if you know history, there was a LOT of crazy stuff that happened in the world during each of those 20-year periods.

But one thing’s been SURE … real estate’s been among the safest places to build and protect wealth from the storms.

Yes, the cynics out there can point to individual cases where a real estate investor took some lumps in a downturn.  We’re on that list for 2008.

But it wasn’t real estate’s fault … it was how the portfolio was structured.

Otherwise, how do you explain people like Ken McElroy and many others who THRIVED with real estate investing during the same period?

It’s easy to ride an upside wave on a sunny day when a rising tide is lifting all boats.  Everyone’s an expert sailor in good weather.

But when the storm comes, you find out who really knows how to sail and has prepped their ship for the INEVITABLE tough times.

However, there’s a BIG difference between being in just a rowboat versus a truly seaworthy vessel.  The rowboat is much more easily tossed about in rough water.

So with everything going on in the world … and real estate getting tossed into the conversation of bubbles about to burst in all “asset classes” … we thought it’s a good time for …

Making the Case for Real Estate

This could be a book, so we won’t expound each point.

We’ll leave it to you to think, research, debate, and discuss these items with your friends … even and especially those who are prone to disagree.

Real estate is eternal, essential, and easy to understand. 

It’s been around forever and will continue to be necessary to support human existence.

The business model is simple … people or businesses use your property and pay you rent.  No Ph.D. needed.

Real estate markets are inherently inefficient.

That might sound bad, but it’s good.  The less of a commodity something is, the easier it is for pricing to be more subjective than objective.

Real estate markets are really hard to manipulate.

Many paper asset markets are “influenced” by power players to create spreads through profitability.

Because traders can’t deal in large blocks of properties to push prices around … they don’t.

Real estate is supported by the power players.

To the extent real estate can be manipulated, all the incentive for anyone big enough to do it … government, central banks, industry … is to support it.

No one attacks real estate to drive it down.

Real estate is financeable with cheap long-term debt.

Even 20% down with an 80% loan, producing 5 to 1 leverage, is considered “conservative” … and qualifies for some of the cheapest long-term money in the market.

There’s no margin call if a property’s value drops.  As long as you keep making those payments … using the tenant’s money … you’re okay.

Real estate mitigates counter-party risk.

This is a REALLY important point because we’re guessing the VAST majority of paper asset investors are quite unaware of the counter-party risk pervading their portfolios.

Bank accounts, brokerage accounts, insurance contracts, bonds (and any mutual fund or investment containing bonds) are FULL of counter-party risk.

When you own real estate, you own it.  It’s a real asset, not a promise.  It’s not someone else’s liability, where if they default you have nothing but an IOU.

Real estate allows you to switch out debtors.

Some might argue if a tenant defaults on their lease, it’s the same as if a bond issuer defaults on their payments.

No.  Real estate is VERY different.

To our previous point, if a bond issuer defaults, your bond is worthless.  It’s only a promise whose value is dependent on the counter-party (the bond issuer).

When a real estate tenant stops paying, you still have the property.  You can evict the tenant and replace them with someone who will pay.

Good luck doing that with a bond.

Real estate provides a hedge against both inflation and deflation.

You might have to put your thinking cap on for this one.

Obviously, with inflation, real assets go up in dollar value.  Inflation is why a 3-bedroom home purchased in 1960 for $10,000 is worth $200,000 today.  The dollar got weaker.

Deflation is the opposite.  The dollar gets stronger (try not to laugh) and it takes LESS dollars to buy the same real asset.

So now, a $200,000 property might fall to $100,000 or less.

But if you only put 20% down … or $40,000 … and the tenants (whose paychecks goes farther as prices are falling) pay off your property …

… at some point, you have a property that’s paid for.  So you’re in for $40,000 and the property is “only” worth half what you paid for it, or $100,000.

Did you lose?

Real estate provides certainty in an uncertain world.

We could go on and on, but there’s the point …

There’s no guarantee with investing.  It’s about taking thoughtful, mitigated risks for an attractive risk-adjusted return.

And while you can’t just throw a dart at a map, pick any property and haphazardly structure the deal, financing, and management …

… history says properly structured properties in solid markets are proven long-term winners no matter what’s going on in the world.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to …

… focus your education and networking on finding markets, teams, and properties which provide a high level of certainty in uncertain times.

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.

Private Money Markets – Loan Options for Real Estate Investors

The key to successful real estate investing is your understanding of financing and lending. You MUST be able to leverage the money you own (or borrow) so you can put your capital to work.

There’s a lot of money churning around out there. Many different sources provide loans. The government and big banks are two options … but they may not be the best options for your particular situation.

That’s why we’re talking about private loans today … a smart option for non-owner-occupied properties that may not be eligible for a traditional loan.

We’ve invited an expert guest who’s worked in financing for decades. Listen in for a show that’s jam-packed with information! You’ll hear from:

  • Your loan-happy host, Robert Helms
  • His loanable co-host, Russell Gray
  • Private lender, Tony O’Brien

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What are private loans?

Tony O’Brien worked as a stockbroker after graduating from Michigan State. In 1995, he formed his own hedge fund. Today, he helps investors who are looking to buy properties by providing financing.

He’s got his thumb on the pulse of lending markets. We asked Tony the state of lending markets today.

Tony told us the market has gone through a number of twists recently, all of which are good for individual investors.

Government and big banks, wary after the crash of ’08, no longer provide money to real estate investors who want to rehab or flip properties. Thus the rise of private lending markets.

Most traditional loans operate inside Dodd-Frank guidelines, while most private loans operate outside, giving them more leeway. That means more leeway for you to find a loan with low rates and loan-to-cost ratios that range from 50 to 90 percent.

And there are more people willing to make private loans than ever before.

When Tony says private loans, do you hear high rates? Think again. Although rates are typically higher than traditional loan rates, private money pays off because it’s quick and nimble.

How do private loans work?

Tony gave us the nitty-gritty on how private loans work.

First, what do lenders look for? Tony says that first of all, they look for integrity and trustworthiness.

“There’s no such thing as a no-doc loan,” he notes. Investors must have documents to back up their financial status.

But people who come to Tony with a property that makes sense and the right amount of money can make a deal work.

What about making sure a property is the right investment?

If a property needs work, Tony expects investors to have a rehab budget in hand. Then he’ll appraise the property to see if that budget makes sense.

Including the appraisal process, Tony’s goal is to close in 10 days … a quick and painless process for both lender and borrower.

We asked Tony about rates, fees, and points. He told us borrowers will always pay two to four points for loans.

With a credit score above 650, borrowers can expect competitive rates.

Although interest rates may be higher than rates from traditional loans, Tony emphasized that if real estate investors can borrow money at one percent a month or less, they’ve hit a home run.

Especially for short-term loans, private money markets offer money that investors can’t obtain anywhere else.

But what about long-term rehab loans? We asked Tony how he deals with refinancing.

Longer-term loans … with terms ranging from 5 to 30 years … have to be rolled over to a different lending business. Tony offers his investors a free roll forward to 30-year mortgages and shorter-term flex loans.

While Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac may look like good options, they’re only available to buyers with W-2 income … something many real estate investors don’t have. And there is a limit on the number of loans you can get.

Why use financing?

We’re always mystified when we see investors who own the majority of their properties. They’ve tied up capital in their properties instead of leveraging financing to get the most bang for their buck.

It’s not a smart move.

Private lenders like Tony WANT to give real estate investors money … in fact, Tony tries to avoid rejecting investors who don’t qualify. Instead, he mentors them and helps them look for a team or another solution so they can achieve their dreams

“We’re careful, but also optimistic,” says Tony of his approach to lending.

Eighty-five percent of his borrowers come back to borrow again.

Tony recently published a book, The Comprehensive Guide to Private Money Markets. Want to get some more serious knowledge from Tony on how to borrow private money … without worrying about your rate? Listen in to get access to Tony’s guide … and more info geared toward helping YOU make more money in real estate.

More on private money markets

As opposed to a traditional mortgage application, Tony’s loans require minimal information … a simple application, documentation of your current employment, and a statement that shows what you currently have in the bank.

“It’s not intrusive, but it does make you accountable,” Tony says of the process.

We’ve talked on the show about the role of investors in helping areas bounce back from natural disaster.

We asked Tony how he’s positioned to help investors in markets like Florida and Houston that have large numbers of flood- and hurricane-damaged properties.

“We aren’t afraid of damage,” Tony told us. “It’s a numbers thing.” His lending company is positioned to start lending heavily in both locations.

Tony also told us about his new program, Money Club.

Tony realized that investors are a breed unto itself … and wanted to create an organization that benefits real estate investors specifically.

Members in his club get access to no-point loans, market information, and foreclosed property listings that are priced to sell by banks.

“It’s a one-stop shop,” says Tony.

For our last question, we asked Tony to tell us the most important things investors need to know about private money. He said:

  1. “It’s available, and there’s no limit.” With the right deal, investors have a sure-fire way to get money. Tony says he can offer a loan 85 to 90 percent of the time.
  2. “Money isn’t free.” Rates are higher than those you’d get from the government. Points and paperwork will always be part of the equation … you can’t expect something for nothing.

Hard-to-buy properties aren’t so hard to buy anymore … not with private money.

Unraveling the mysteries of money

Big-brained people like Tony O’Brien help us unravel the mysteries of money.

Many of you may have thought there’s only one on-ramp to the investors’ highway … we hope learning about this lending category has changed your minds.

Almost 10 years later, we’re still digesting the fallout of the 2008 financial crisis. The key to success is getting money to market.

Private money markets provide a huge opportunity to do value-added real estate.

And although you may pay slightly more to get access to that capital, you get the opportunity to invest in otherwise un-buyable properties with money that is quick and easy to access.

Enlightened? Then go out and make some equity happen!


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 Puerto Rico for real estate investors …

“Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

   – George Santayana


This is one of our favorite quotes.  It’s simple yet powerful wisdom … useful for individuals, businesses, governments … and certainly for investors!

We could take this theme in a thousand different directions, but this CNBC headline caught our attention this week …

Here’s how an obscure tax change sank Puerto Rico’s economy

With tax reform in today’s financial headlines … and our memories of what happened to real estate after the 1986 tax reform …

… we think it’s a good time to consider the impact of tax policy on the economy, jobs, and real estate.

As for Puerto Rico … it’s a huge mess after Hurricane Maria.  Lots of infrastructure and real estate have been destroyed.

Of course, the financial mess in Puerto Rico was in the news long before Maria showed up.  The natural disaster just made the financial disaster a whole lot worse.

Let’s dig in and look for lessons for real estate investors …

The CNBC article points out, “Even before a devastating hurricane … the government was struggling with an economy in shambles …”

And, “That fiscal mess has its roots in the repeal of a controversial corporate tax break that helped spark an exodus from the island that sent its economy into reverse.”

Yikes.  Will people and businesses really move just because of some “tiny” tax law?

Yes.  Yes, they will.  It turns out taxes (and avoiding them) are kind of a big deal to people and businesses.

In this case, a tax break, “enacted in 1976, allowed U.S. manufacturing companies to avoid corporate income taxes on profits made in U.S. territories, including Puerto Rico. Manufacturers … flocked to the island.”

This lead to an economic and employment boom in Puerto Rico.

Of course, when politicians see money they just can’t help themselves.  The Puerto Rican politicians started spending, and borrowing to spend even more.

Meanwhile, back in the U.S., the CNBC article says …

But by the early 1990s, the provision faced growing opposition from critics who attacked the tax break as a form of corporate welfare.”

So in 1996, a ten-year phasing out of the tax break began and “plant closures and job losses followed.

Which bring us to tax policy and real estate investors …

The law had nothing to do with real estate or investors … but then again, it had EVERYTHING to do with real estate investing …

… because real estate investments are highly dependent on JOBS.

And whether you think it’s fair or not, corporations make decisions about where to do business (or not) based partially on tax policy.

In this case, tax breaks attracted corporations to set up shop and were good for jobs and real estate.  The removal of those breaks had the opposite effect.

Of course, the law in question was passed and repealed at the federal level.  It wasn’t under Puerto Rico’s control.

But Puerto Rico got the lesson.

So in 2012, Puerto Rico passed Act 20 and 22 … effectively becoming an attractive tax haven for both businesses and individuals.

We first heard about this from Summit at Sea™ faculty member Peter Schiff … who moved his asset management company and himself to Puerto Rico to save taxes.

He’s not the only one.  We have several other friends who’ve done the same thing.

Right now, the tax law still exists … though much of Puerto Rico doesn’t.

We think there’s probably a way to combine those two circumstances to create an opportunity for real estate investors.

Of course, back in the U.S., tax reform is in the air again …and corporate tax breaks are in the mix.

Will corporate tax breaks bring businesses to the U.S. and create an employment boom? If so, where?  And will the breaks be permanent or temporary?

It’s too soon to tell, but it’s something we’ll be watching closely.

Meanwhile, there’s another lesson from the Puerto Rico story …

We know a tax break brought in a tide of corporate investment, and the removal of the tax break decades later took the tide back out.

But there was a lot of opportunity in between.

Of course, to catch a wave, you need to be watching the horizon.  And when you see the wave forming, you need to paddle quickly into position.

In Puerto Rico, as in Florida, Houston, and the several Caribbean islands all decimated in varying degrees by the back to back hurricanes …

… there’s going to be a big tide of capital flowing in to repair everything.

And because of the scope of the problems, the season of rebuilding could last quite a while.

Recently, we talked with our boots-on-the-ground turnkey property provider in Orlando, and he says he sees a lot of opportunity in his market right now …

Problem properties are popping up with pricing that leaves some meat on the bone for investors.

That’s good news … not just for investors, but for the community at large … because investment capital is needed to help with the recovery process.

The same is true in Houston, Puerto Rico and other areas ravaged by the storms.

Of course, conditions in each market are different.  Orlando is in far better shape than Houston which is far better shape than Puerto Rico.

All that to say there are different levels of distress, bargains, risk and reward in each market.

Unfortunately for the average individual part-time investor, the gap between seeing opportunity and being able to take advantage can be too big to bridge.

For most U.S. citizens, their “investment” into these disaster zones will be a de facto donation through their taxes, as federal relief funds pour into each area.

Of course, many kind-hearted individuals will make modest personal donations, which is admirable.

But to get LARGE amounts of private capital into each area to help rebuild, it’s going to take an investment opportunity.

And we think private syndicators have a role to play.

Motivated real estate entrepreneurs with skills and availability have an opportunity to start a private investment fund to aggegate private capital and make profitable investments in each of these areas.

Busy qualified investors who don’t have the time or skills, but see the opportunity, can make an investment in these private funds and earn a profit while helping heal ravaged markets.

This is the kind of capitalism that makes a positive difference in the world …  people helping themselves by helping others.

Or as our good friend Gene Guarino often says, “Do well, by doing good.”

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.

Expecting the Unexpected – Investing in Uncertain Times

Real estate investing is full of ups … and downs. If you haven’t experienced the downsides, we guarantee you will eventually.

As a real estate investor, you have to be on top of your game. You didn’t get into this business to pull the sheets over your eyes … you’re here to build wealth, and that requires planning and preparation.

You can’t bet on disasters NOT happening … they most likely will. Careless investing is a sure recipe for a crash. Careful investing, on the other hand, will help you survive crashes without losing the wealth you’ve accumulated.

In this episode of The Real Estate Guys™ show, we discuss how YOU can prepare for storms that come out of nowhere. You’ll hear from:

  • Your careful host, Robert Helms
  • His criminally cautious co-host, Russell Gray

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The nature of real estate

The real estate market is naturally volatile. Economies change, local markets evolve, natural disasters arise … sometimes overnight.

The downsides are ALWAYS looming.

But real estate investors are always looking for the upsides … sometimes so intently that they forget to look at the downsides too.

We caution you to do your due diligence AND have a back-up plan.

Some excellent words of wisdom are to always have a little cash on hand. The downsides are rarely in your control … but you can control your ability to react when they arise.

Four ways to be prepared for a downturn

As real estate investors, we weigh risk and reward every time we look at a deal. But some risks aren’t so obvious.

Being a successful investor means playing defense and offense at the same time.

While you can’t predict the future, you can take practical steps to make sure you’re ready to fend off threats and take advantage of smart deals.

Step No. 1: Get in touch with a demographic that can weather a storm.

Tapping into the right demographic is the key to recession-resistant investing.

It’s a smart idea to look at markets where someone who is a bit under the median income can afford to live.

In tough times, people who are well-off can downgrade to your market. And in good times, people on the lower end of the income scale can move up.

Either way, your area will be in demand.

Many factors can cause a downturn … rising interest rates, slow wage growth, tax increases, or geographic factors to name a few.

Downturns aren’t solely due to nation-wide economic slowdowns. Make sure you pick a demographic that can resist small ebbs and flows in your market.

Step No. 2: Invest in towns that have multiple “stories.”

Every town has something it’s known for.

Even better is a town that’s known for many things … the stories that draw people and growth.

A big industry would be one story. Two big industries? Even better. A major sports team might be another story.

Don’t bet on a single story. Make sure the jobs in your market are tied to multiple industries … that way, when one industry fails unexpectedly, you won’t see a mass exodus or decline.

And be sure an area is appealing for more than one reason.

Step No. 3: Monitor your inputs.

Look at what inputs make the numbers on your financial statement move. These are the inputs to keep track of.

Compile data, set up alerts, and don’t be remiss about digging deeper when an alarm goes off in your head.

All the information you need can be found in one way or another. The internet is a treasure trove of data. Your local Chamber of Commerce is another resource for keeping track of essential information.

Don’t be casual … especially if you’re an experienced investor. Treat every deal like it’s your first.

Monitoring your inputs can help you stay ahead of the curve and react to changes before others even know there’s a threat.

Can you see the advantage?

Step No. 4: Key into experts.

We live in the information age … it’s almost ridiculous how much information is available.

But some of the best information comes from people who have been in your situation and figured out solutions.

Listen to and read information from multiple sources … even if you disagree.

Learn what other people are saying BEFORE you interject your own opinion.

You can’t expect the unexpected if you only listen to people who share your point of view.

Navigating the three rings of risk

We’ve learned a lot over the years.

One piece of advice we think highly of is to always own a property or two with no loan. The return won’t be as high … but you can sleep at night.

In investing, it all comes down to the rings of risk.

Every investor should have three rings of risk in their portfolio.

The center ring is your livelihood. It should be isolated from all the other risks you’re taking.

The second ring is those bread-and-butter properties that bring cash flow and provide long-term equity growth from modest appreciation.

The third ring is where your risky investments happen. You should only expand into this area after you’ve established the first two rings of your investment portfolio.

In the outer ring, you can be more speculative. You may lose quite a bit in this ring … you’re taking on way more risk. But you could also win big.

Another thing to keep in mind is your Plan B.

In any short-term play, make sure you have a Plan B and even a Plan C to take you through the long term.

Sometimes the market changes in the middle of your play. In that scenario, financing structures and a property’s ability to cash flow can be really important.

If you are house rich and cash poor, it may be time to sit down with a financial advisor and considering refinancing so you can leverage the equity you have in your properties.

You may also want to consider selling and buying new properties so you can get some cash on your balance sheet.

When the market turns, you want to be in a position to snatch up a bunch of cheap real estate … and you won’t be able to do so unless you have cash on hand.

Another consideration to take is whether to diversify your liquidity. If the dollar falls, precious metals will retain their value … and the more wealth you have, the more important it is to put your equity in a stable medium.

Your best strategy is a strong network

Knowing how to sell is the essential survival skill in a tough market.

We’re hosting our yearly How to Win Funds and Influence People event this year … a workshop that teaches participants negotiation strategies that result in win-win deals.

We host events like these because networking is SO important. The best way to prepare for the unexpected is to get around smart people and take note of their strategies.

Getting around people who’ve been in your shoes is essential … and most successful real estate investors are more than happy to share what they’ve learned.

We don’t only host events for investors like you … we also attend them! We’ll be at the upcoming New Orleans Investment Conference learning about all things investing with some of our most knowledgeable investor friends.

Join us!

Your net worth is defined by your network. Make those crucial connections, and you have the key to staying strong through ups AND downs.


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.

Tech, stocks, and real estate riches …

Imagine you’re the proud owner of a modest 50-year old, four-bedroom, two-bath home … less than 2,000 square feet.

You put it on the market and it sells FAST … for $728,000 MORE than the asking price!!!

That’s not the sales price … just the premium OVER what you listed it for!

You might think this happened in that mythical marketplace … Fantasyland … but according this report, it just happened in Sunnyvale, California.

This average home was listed at $1,688,000 … which is RIDICULOUS in and of itself … but the actual sales price was a WHOPPING $2,470,000!!!

WOW.  Equity happened BIG TIME for that lucky owner!

But HOW?  And more importantly, what does it mean … and is there a way to get in on the action?

Let’s break it down …

First, equity is always about the right mix of supply, demand, and capacity to pay.

When there’s too little of something that lots of people can afford to pay more for … prices get bid UP.

In this case, the San Francisco Bay Area has next-to-no capacity to increase the supply of homes.

There’s an ocean, a bay, mountains, a green belt … and most of the available land has already been developed … or can’t be.Next, there’s a robust tech industry, great weather, and other attractions bringing an influx of immigrants from around the country and around the world.

Next, there’s a robust tech industry, great weather, and other attractions bringing an influx of immigrants from around the country and around the world.

So there’s lots of demand for housing relative to supply.But … $2.4 million for a run-of-the-mill house in an average neighborhood … bid up to $728,000 over asking price???

But … $2.4 million for a run-of-the-mill house in an average neighborhood … bid up to $728,000 over asking price???

That’s ALL about “capacity to pay” … and not from cheap mortgages.

No home lender is going to finance a mortgage on a home for $728,000 above asking price … no matter HOW great your credit score is.

So this huge overbid didn’t happen because some high-tech earner levered a fat paycheck into a fatter mortgage payment into an obese mortgage.

Without knowing the details of the transaction, we think it’s a safe bet this was a CASH purchase.  But that doesn’t mean cheap debt wasn’t involved.

Here’s how the Fed, tech, the stock market, and real estate all intersect …

It’s no secret the stock market has been on an epic bull run for quite some time.  It’s a bubble that just keeps inflating.

Inside the stock bubble are the FAANGs …  Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix, Google … the tech sector.

These have been the horses pulling the stock market higher and higher.

Another part of the story is the long-term crazy low interest rates provided by the Fed.

Big corporations (like the FAANGS) then borrow cheap money to buy back their stocks … pushing up stock prices (and executive bonuses).

Of course, if you’re a compulsive-obsessive financial news watcher like we are, we’re not telling you anything you don’t already know … but stick with us …

Because what many people outside the tech industry aren’t aware of is a very common compensation incentive tech companies offer employees … called stock options.

Simply stated, a tech worker takes a slightly lesser salary, which aids cash flow for a start-up, while accepting options to purchase the company’s stock at a future date at a fixed price.

The employee is now motivated to work hard and stay long to drive the company to profitability … and a higher stock price.

When those options eventually vest, they’re what options traders call “in the money”.

In some cases, it’s a LOT of money.

Long-term Silicon Valley residents are accustomed to spurts of fast real estate equity caused when a booming stock market creates tech stock-option millionaires … and fuels bidding wars for scarce housing.

Of course, you don’t have to be in the tech industry or have stock options to be the beneficiary of explosive real estate equity.

You just need to be in the right market.

After all, what do you think the home next door to this $2.47 million property is now worth?

Of course, all this is intellectually interesting … but is there real world opportunity here for real estate investors?

We think so.

Way back in 2012, Forbes put out a list of top tech cities.  Among them were Seattle, Washington DC, and San Jose.

Today, with the benefit of hindsight, we know those markets have all seen substantial appreciation.

But there were other markets on the list, which didn’t have the same pop. So simply being a tech town isn’t enough.

Take a look at the list, then go back to our initial set of required conditions … low supply, high demand, strong capacity to pay.
Not all those places have a supply problem.  It’s tight supply, high demand caused by population growth, and capacity to pay … a lot … through high pay and stock options.

Here’s a 2017 list of top tech hubs for you to peruse.  You’ll see some familiar names at the top of the list.

But here’s something to think about …

Several top-of-list cities have become so expensive, tech companies are looking for new, more affordable places to move.

So cities lower on the list could be the beneficiaries of migrating and expanding companies.

Your mission (and ours) is to identify those “goldilocks” markets where the conditions are “just right” …

The market needs to be affordable today … and make sense on a cash flow basis, because if the rest doesn’t happen, we need to be able to hold the property long term and grow equity the old fashioned way.

The market needs some limitation to supply expansion, which will manifest in bidding wars, as tech wealth provides capacity to pay beyond easy mortgages.

There needs to be a solid combination of established tech companies and start-ups.

That’s where competition for talent forces small companies to offer options, which the bigger companies then need to respond to.

There are a few markets on this list that we have our eyes on … and some we’ve already developed relationships with.  So stay tuned for updates.

Meanwhile, do your own homework.  As much as we love cash flow, sometimes a big shot of equity can just brighten your whole day … and portfolio.

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.

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