Tariffs, Taxes and Trade Wars – Insights for Real Estate Investors

There’s a lot of talk in the media about tariffs, taxes, and trade … what does all of that really mean for real estate investors?

As a real estate investor, you need to understand what is going on economically. What’s happening at an international level can trickle down to your local playing field.

To help you navigate the news, we brought in our good friend Peter Schiff. Peter is an author, stock broker, and financial commentator … and he has some strong ideas to share.

Learn to more successfully sail the economic sea and weather financial storms.

In this episode of The Real Estate Guys™ show, hear from:

  • Your financial seafaring host, Robert Helms
  • His economically seasick co-host, Russell Gray
  • Author, stock broker, and financial commentator, Peter Schiff

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Tariffs and the big picture

If you’re the type of investor who reads the headlines … and you should be … then you’ve probably seen lots of talk about tariffs, taxes, and trade.

But most investors don’t understand what these headlines mean for their money.

What’s the deal with these three big “Ts” … What are they? How do they work? And why do they impact your business?

As a real estate investor, you’ve got to understand the economic and financial sea that you swim in.

You need a basic understanding of all things economic.

Tariffs … in particular … are a great place to start.

Before 1913, the United States didn’t have an income tax. Instead, we funded our federal government through tariffs.

A tariff is a tax on people that want to sell in our markets … and today, President Trump is using tariffs as leverage in negotiations to level the international playing field.

You may agree or disagree with these politics … but whatever your personal opinions, you still need to know what such action really means for you.

Any kind of tax or tariff affects how much things cost in our economy … and it can also affect where jobs are created … which affects where people live.

By instituting tariffs, the federal government hopes to bring more manufacturing jobs back to the United States … potentially resurrecting manufacturing ghost towns.

Real estate investors need to look out at the horizon and see the bigger picture. You want to be riding the wave … not chasing the trend.

That’s why we asked our good friend Peter Schiff to share his knowledge and experience with us.

The US-China trade relationship

Peter says a great place to start increasing your understanding of the current economy is to look at the US relationship with China.

According to Peter, China does TWO big things for the US … they supply us with real goods, and they lend us money.

We get everything from China. It’s all manufactured products that make our lives better.

People go to Walmart and buy cheap stuff … and where is it coming from? China, of course.

China is also the biggest buyer of US bonds … which means they are our lender. They are lending us money that we would otherwise not have.

While the federal government talks about losing $500 billion a year to China, Peter thinks the US is still getting the better end of the deal.

China supplies us with real goods … and in exchange the US gives them a stack of paper that is arguably worth less every day that they hang on to it.

So, if the US places tariffs on China and enters a trade war, who is worse off in the end?

Peter says the Chinese will still have all their stuff … and we’ll just have a stack of paper.

The US government hopes that by instituting tariffs, companies will make their products in the US instead. Peter says that is easier said than done.

Pulling together the infrastructure, raw goods, and man power to manufacture these products in the US could take years … and it will cost businesses more money … not to mention a major shortage of goods in the meantime.

Peter explains that switching the US back over to a more manufacturing-based economy would require tremendous changes … and most likely result in a huge depression until the new economic flow was established.

“When we were a big manufacturer in the past, we had limited government, lower taxes, fewer regulations, a lot of savings, and a skilled workforce. We don’t have that stuff now,” Peter says.

Peter does mention that the US is probably going to have to make some of these changes eventually … but proposed tariffs and trade wars would accelerate the timeline in a painful way.

And the United States doesn’t realize how painful it will be.

If tariffs make it harder for the Chinese to sell stuff to America … they’ll sell it domestically instead.

As the Americans get poorer … the Chinese would be getting richer.

Right now, the Chinese labor, and we get the fruits. Suddenly, they would get both.

And what about our intellectual property?

“They’re going to keep ripping off our intellectual property because we can’t stop it, but now they’re not going to be giving us this big subsidy by loaning us money and supplying us with goods,” Peter says.

Preparing for a drop in the dollar with gold

Another notable headline today … the Chinese and Russian governments are buying gold and putting it away.

Peter says that the Chinese and Russian governments recognize that the dollar’s day as the reserve currency are numbered.

Nobody knows when the dollar’s time will be up … but if it loses its role as the primary reserve asset for central banks, what will take its place?

Right now, what gives a currency value are the foreign reserves … we’ve got this huge pile of US dollars that gives currency value.

Before central banks used other currencies as their reserves, everybody used gold. That’s what backed up your paper.

Originally, the transition from the gold standard to the dollar standard happened because the dollar was as good as gold.

US Federal Reserve notes were obligations of the Federal Reserve to pay. So, foreign central banks held Federal Reserve notes, which were redeemable on demand in gold.

Then, in 1971 the US said it would not give other countries gold for these reserves. The value of the dollar went down … and the value of gold went up.

All the central banks kept holding the dollar as a reserve even though it wasn’t backed by gold anymore.

Peter says that the US has borrowed so much money … and printed so much money … that it is heading for a currency crisis.

“In that environment, central banks are going to have to show that their currency is backed by something,” Peter says.

Some banks are buying more of other currencies … like the euro or the yen … but if people lose confidence in the dollar, the same could go for other currencies.

“I think that central banks are thinking they better have actual money in gold, because in the future, gold could be a much more important component of their reserves,” Peter says.

And if the price of gold continues to rise, the appreciation alone is going to increase the percentage of their reserves that are in gold.

Preparing yourself for the future

So what’s an investor to do?

Peter recommends getting out of US stocks in general … and bonds are way over-priced right now.

“If you’ve been fortunate enough to have invested in US stocks and seen a big gain, you need to cash in. Take that gain before the market takes it away from you,” Peter says.

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t own stocks … Peter says it just means to think about moving out of dollar-dominated US stocks.

Consider taking a look at foreign stocks … emerging markets and developed markets are looking really good right now.

These stocks are international and derive their revenues outside of the US. If the dollar crashes … these stocks will rise in proportion to that decline.

Peter also believes that investors should have some sort of gold in their portfolio. It’s a good way to get diversified.

There’s no sure way to know what will happen in the future. We can only do our due diligence and make an educated guess.

Remember that not every strategy works for every investor. Find what works best for you. Always talk to an expert that understands your financial needs and situation.


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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Finding stability in an unstable world …

We’re just winding up a multi-part real estate investing webinar series we’re doing for our friends Chris Martenson and Adam Taggart at Peak Prosperity.

The webinar series is called Real Estate Investing for Profit and Safety 

The first episode, The Case for Real Estate, is nearly two hours long and free of charge.  You can check it out here.  If you love it, share it with your friends.  If not, let us know.

Our theme, which we think is an important one, is how real estate creates RESILIENT wealth when strategically located and structured.

Of course, if you’re a seasoned real estate investor … meaning you’ve lived through at least the 2008 financial crisis … you may already be convinced.

Even if you’re in the group who lost a bunch in 2008 (we feel your pain), hopefully by now you’ve realized there were lots of people who not just survived … but THRIVED.

So obviously, real estate wasn’t the problem.

If you’re an active or aspiring syndicator, you may find the series useful for explaining to your prospective investors why real estate is an attractive investment vehicle … and the value YOU bring to them by helping them get in the game.

Of course, for anyone who cares about their financial future, the daily news is full of reasons to look for ways to create stability in their portfolio.

Wild stock market price swings … rampant (seemingly systemic) corruption in large financial institutions … highly uncertain geo-political tensions

… unprecedented levels of government, corporate, and consumer debt … severely underfunded private and public pensions … Social Security

Yikes. 

So there’s a LOT to be worried about … IF you’re betting your financial future on fickle and fleeting asset PRICES.

And with “safe” havens like banks and bonds paying very low to no interest for over a decade, many Mom & Pop investors (and their financial planners) have succumbed to “buy low, sell high” as the means for creating spendable cash. 

Think about that.

“Buy low, sell high” is an investment strategy that tempts amateurs into the rigged casinos to compete with the pros.  

Trading also produces commissions for Wall Street, capital gains for the IRS, and cash float deposits for bankers (who lever it up 10-20x for fat profits so they can afford all those big fines).

And the challenge with “buy low, sell high” is it’s SUPER volatile and unpredictable.  Unless you’re tethered to the news with lightning fast judgment and reflexes, it’s easy to be late to enter or exit the party. 

The “solution” offered Mom & Pop investors is to buy trading software to compete with the pros … 

… or “invest for the long haul in a well-diversified portfolio” because the long-term upward (inflationary) “trend is your friend”.

Thanks to the Fed’s printing press, buy and hold works for boosting your balance sheet.  But it’s only PAPER wealth … unrealized gains.  You can’t spend it. 

To have real spendable money to live on, folks need CASH.

To get it … and avoid capital gains taxes … they borrow (confident in their paper wealth).

Or they liquidate capital (eating “the golden goose”) …. or take on substantial counter-party risk by purchasing higher yielding, riskier bonds.

Of course, if you’re a real estate investor, this is all foreign to you.  It’s a game you don’t play.  But MILLIONS of people do. 

And as baby boomers pile into retirement in a debt-ridden world where low and falling interest rates are a necessity of systemic survival 

… finding inflation-hedged, asset-backed sources of reliable, resilient, high-yield, tax-advantaged income is the Holy Grail. 

While not perfect, there’s nothing better than income-producing real estate to meet this huge and growing need.

Of course, as we often point out, small-time real estate investing is far too troublesome and inefficient for busy or retired folks to take on personally.

That’s why we keep beating the drum for the HUGE opportunity for real estate savvy entrepreneurs to get into the syndication business. 

Syndication isn’t just about making money.  It’s an important industry to help solve some of the most pressing economic problems facing the United States.

In fact, it’s SO important that both the Obama AND Trump administrations took bold action to remove barriers and stimulate the flow of capital into real estate syndications.

THAT alone should tell you something.

You may wonder why the mainstream financial press isn’t reporting on this. 

But think about it …

How many mainstream financial journalists are real estate investors or syndicators?

Not many. 

And who buys all those expensive ads on mainstream financial programs?

Big Wall Street firms.

But whether there’s some grand conspiracy to herd an unsuspecting public into the sheering pens of the Wall Street / banking cartel’s casinos …

… or if it’s just big money using their clout to buy ads and exposure for their products and services …

… it’s clear most Main Street investors don’t understand or appreciate the power of income producing real estate to create resilient wealth. 

But if YOU do, then YOU have a BIG opportunity … both as an investor and as an entrepreneur.

So be careful about getting paralyzed by the daily drama of mainstream financial news … especially when it’s related to real estate.

After all, most real estate commentary on mainstream news is directed at homeowners and people buying home builder stocks.

But when home ownership is down, prices are high, or builders aren’t building and selling as much … it’s all GOOD for landlords.

Besides, no matter what happens economically …

As long as there are people, they’ll need real estate … for homes, offices, food, and distribution centers to get products to consumers.  And people always needs places to relax, play, and heal.

Your mission is to acquire the skills, knowledge, and relationships to build a resilient portfolio …

… whether you manage only your own investments, invest through others, or create a business to help others take advantage of all that real estate provides. 

Time will tell … but it seems the global financial order is in the process of concurrent major disruptions. 

For some it will be traumatic and chaotic.  For others it will be exciting and profitable.  

The difference, of course, depends on awareness, preparation, and effective action.

And if it all turns out to be a lot of hype over nothing … well, better to be prepared and not have a crisis … than to have a crisis and not be prepared.

Chaos or calm, real estate is a historically proven place to effectively build, protect and pass on real, resilient wealth.  Tell a friend.

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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Self-Directed Accounts: No Longer A One Size Fits All

 Self-Directed Accounts: No Longer A One Size Fits All

 

Free up cash flow to invest with self-directed, tax-advantaged accounts!

 

Spending can be fun … but saving is important.

You could stash some cash in a box under your bed … or bank it alongside the local teens into a standard savings account … or you could do things the smart way.

Save money and pay fewer  taxes with self-directed, tax-advantaged accounts.

From retirement accounts to Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) and Education Savings Accounts (ESAs) … there are a variety of ways to protect your savings and free up cash flow to invest.

Jason DeBono and his team at NuView Trust Company spend their days helping people get more out of their savings accounts … and they are sharing their tops tips with you!

In this special report discover:

✓ The different types of self-directed savings accounts

✓ How to determine if a specific account is right for you

✓ What tax advantages are available to investors

✓ And more!

Take control of your financial future with self-directed accounts! Get started by filling out the form below to access Self-Directed Accounts: No Longer A One Size Fits All …

Are these two commodities trying to tell you something?

We’re still just a little more than a week removed from a mind-blowing 9-day mind-meld with brilliant thought leaders, niche experts, and seasoned investors and entrepreneurs …

… so we’ve been busy catching up on the news and looking at the world through our freshly expanded paradigms.

There are two things bouncing around our brains we think are important, but few real estate investors are paying attention to …

Gold and oil.

Sure, both these “commodities” fit well with real estate in a strategic real asset portfolio.  And if you’re not sure how all that works, you can start with these past podcasts about gold and oil.

But bigger picture, both gold and oil probably drive more of geo-politics than most casual observers realize … and both are quasi-proxies for the dollar.

In other words, when you understand what’s happening with gold and oil, you have insights into the future of the dollar … and some of the things governments are doing to either defend dollar dominance … or break free from it.

Of course, if you earn, invest, borrow, or denominate wealth in dollars, the future of the dollar should be of great interest to you … even if you think of the dollar as being as permanent and reliable as air (it’s not).

As real estate investors, our primary interests (besides occupancy and cash flow) are demographics, migration trends, local economic strength, interest rates, taxes, and the supply and demand dynamics in our local market.

But all of that sits on the foundation of a functional financial system with two primary components … credit and currency.  Gold and oil provide insight into both.

Oil is important at both the macro and the micro level.

In the macro, it takes energy to drive economic activity.  When energy’s expensive, it drives up the costs of everything and is a drag on economic activity.

At the micro level, high dollar-denominated oil prices drive up the cost of living for your dollar-denominated tenants.

But for metros where oil is big business, oil also means local jobs.  Remember, Texas and its robust energy sector were the primary driving force for U.S. job creation coming out of the 2008 recession.

Investors who realized this (like our pal Kenny McElroy) strategically invested in those markets while most people were hiding under the sheets.

So whether or not you’re interested in oil as a direct investment, paying attention to the oil business can be a great way to pick markets likely to hold up well if oil prices rise.

Oil also has a potential impact on credit markets and interest rates.  Billions of dollars of debt has been created to fund shale oil production.

If oil prices drop, it both undermines the ability of regional oil economies to grow … but also for those employers to service their debt.

In the macro, if a big chunk of the debt goes rotten, credit markets could tighten.  Think about what happened in 2008 when sub-prime mortgage debt went bad.

So again, whether you’re an oil investor or not, the oil industry has a direct impact on your real estate investing.

Watching oil helps you see what’s coming sooner … so you have time to position yourself to capture opportunity and mitigate risk.

Of course, the good news and bad news about real estate is it moves slowly.

So while you have plenty of time to be proactive IF you’re paying attention, it’s really hard to act fast if you’re not.  That’s why we pay attention.

What about gold?

On the macro level, gold is a good gauge of how the world feels about U.S. Treasuries and the dollar.

When things get choppy in stocks, paper investors worldwide tend to flee into Treasuries for safety.  After all, Treasuries are backed up by the Fed’s printing press.

Of course, what does the Fed print?  U.S. dollars.

But to quote Watto from Star Wars – The Phantom Menace … 

“Republic credits are no good here.  I need something more … real.”

That is, when investors worldwide are looking for safety … and they don’t trust the paper … they go into gold.

So what does that mean to real estate investors?

Remember, mortgage rates and availability derive from healthy bond markets … most notably, U.S. Treasuries.

The 2008 Great Financial Crisis had its genesis in a broken bond market … mortgage-backed-securities.  When those went bad, frightened investors worldwide piled into Treasuries … and rates fell.

But what happens if investors worldwide don’t trust Treasuries?

You don’t have to wonder.  China came out in 2009 and scolded Uncle Sam about the size of the deficit and all the dollar printing doing on.

Why did it bother them? Because they own TRILLIONS in U.S. bonds.  They don’t want to get paid back in diluted dollars.

But Uncle Sam’s debt, deficits, and printing have BALLOONED since then.

So it’s no surprise that China … along with Russia and several other countries … have been diligently accumulating and repatriating gold.

They’re getting out of dollars and Treasuries to do it.  And who can blame them?

Paper money has an atrocious long-term record as a store of wealth …

 

Interesting Image

Source:  World Gold Council 

Consider this when you think about where you’re storing YOUR long-term liquid wealth.

Meanwhile, there’s just a little more to the developing story of gold … and the story behind the story.  It’s a little complicated, but interesting and noteworthy.

After the 2008 crisis, the world’s bankers got together in Basel, Switzerland to come up with voluntary rules to prevent another financial crisis.  The agreement is called the Basel Accord.

A provision in the agreement, known as Basel III (the agreement’s rolled out in phases) allows financial institutions to consider gold “Tier 1” capital.  So adding gold is supposed to make banks more liquid and stable.

This is a bit of a promotion for gold.  Some observers think this means demand for gold will increase, but we’re not smart enough to have an opinion on that.

But there are a couple of things we are thinking about …

Perhaps most obviously, international bankers apparently consider gold more valuable than simply a “barbarous relic” with no place in a modern monetary system.

Keep that in mind when you hear people criticize the placement of gold in a portfolio. If gold can make a bank more stable and liquid, can’t it do the same for you?

To be clear, we’re not fans of gold as an investment.  It’s just an alternative to cash … a way to store long-term liquidity while hedging against a declining dollar and bank counter-party risk.

But the more interesting aspect of gold’s now elevated role in bolstering the banking system is why it’s necessary in the first place.

Is it because the banking system is still fragile and in need of support?  Is it because the world needs more leverage to expand … and so more collateral to lever?  Why not just use Treasuries?

We don’t know yet.  But we’ll be checking in with our big-brained gold experts to see what they think.

Meanwhile, we encourage you to think outside both the real estate and mainstream financial media boxes.  It seems like oil and gold might be trying to tell us something.

Are you listening?

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.


Love the show?  Tell the world!  When you promote the show, you help us attract more great guests for your listening pleasure!

The mid-term morning after …

If you’re an American, unless you’ve been in a coma or living under a rock, you know the United States just had one of the most energetic mid-term elections in quite some time.

The day after, both sides are disappointed … and both sides are claiming victory.

One of the advantages of being older is we’ve seen this movie before.

In our younger days, when elections didn’t go our way, we thought it was the end of the world.  Today, not so much.

It doesn’t mean we don’t care.  We do.  And certainly, politicians and their policies have a direct impact on our Main Street investing.

But it’s in times like these we’re reminded of the beautiful, boring stability of real estate.

Because while all the post-election drama and speculation plays out, people still get up and go to work and pay their rent.

And though the Trump-train just got slowed … like Barack Obama before him, big chunks of his agenda got pushed through early … and are likely here to stay for a while.

In other words, it doesn’t look like Obamacare or the Trump tax reform will be repealed any time soon.

More importantly, investors of all stripes … paper and real … now know what the lay of the land is for the next two years.

Early indications (based on the all-green dashboard of Wall Street) reveal there’s cash on the sidelines waiting to see what happened … and now that gridlock is the answer… money is pouring into everything.

We know that sounds counter-intuitive.  But while political activists push change … too much change too fast makes money nervous.

Investors and entrepreneurs need to make decisions about long-term risk and reward.  And when the world is changing too fast, those decisions are harder to make.

Way back in the lead-up to the 2010 mid-terms, we penned this piece about a concept we call “healthy tension.”  Just change the team colors and it’s just as applicable today as it was back then.

The point is that money and markets like gridlock.

At this point, from an investing perspective, it doesn’t really matter if any of us like or dislike what happened … politically.  It’s done.

Now we all just need to decide what it means to us and how to move forward … because life goes on.

So bringing it all back to Main Street …

We’re guessing all the great Trump-tax reform benefits for real estate investors… from bonus depreciation to Opportunity Zones … are here to stay.

And as we said just a week ago …  there’s probably a lot more money headed into real estate.  Nothing about this election appears to change that.

So gridlock inside the beltway means stability on Main Street.

Sure, it might be a little boring.  But real estate investors are used to boring.  And when it comes to long-term wealth building … boring is 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.


Love the show?  Tell the world!  When you promote the show, you help us attract more great guests for your listening pleasure!

There’s MORE money headed into real estate …

In the swirling sea of capital that makes up the global economic ocean we all invest in …

… big fund managers are pay close attention to a variety of factors for clues about the ebb, flow, and over-flow of people, business, and money.

Right now … it seems like a BIG wave of money could be headed into real estate.

Of course, compared to stocks, these things aren’t simple to see and track.  And they’re even harder to act on.

Stocks are easy … if interest rates fall and money floods into stocks, you just buy an index fund and enjoy the ride.

Just remember … the dark side of easy and liquid is crowded and volatile.

So unless you’re a seasoned trader, trying to front run the crowd to both an entrance and exit in stocks can be a dangerous game.

But real estate is slow.  It’s inefficient.  It moves slowly.  There’s drama.

And yet, the BEAUTY of real estate is its messiness.  Embrace it.

So here’s why we think more money could be flowing into real estate soon …

Opportunity Zones

We’ll be talking about this more in the future, but the short of it is the new tax code creates HUGE incentives for current profits from ANYTHING (including stocks) to make its way into pre-identified geographic zones.

According to The Wall Street Journal,

“U.S. is aiming to attract $100 billion in development with ‘opportunity zones’…”

“could be ‘the biggest thing to hit the real estate world in perhaps the past 30 or even more years’ …”

 Private Equity Funds

 Another Wall Street Journal article says …

“Real estate debt funds amass record war chest

“Property funds have $57 billion to invest …”

Pension Funds

This Wall Street Journal article indicates BIG pension funds are getting into the game too …

“Big investors like the California teachers pension are backing real-estate debt funds …”

One reason savvy investors watch economic waves is to see a swell building … so they can paddle into position to catch a ride.  It’s like financial surfing.

Time will tell where all these funds will land, but it’s a safe bet it won’t be in smaller properties.  MAYBE some will end up in residential mortgages, but don’t count on it.

So what’s the play for a Mom and Pop Main Street investor?

Start by watching the flow …

We’ll be watching the markets and product types the money goes into.

Then we’ll be watching for the ripple effect … because that’s probably where the Main Street opportunity will be.

For example, if money pours into a particular geography, it’s going to create a surge of economic activity … especially if the funds are primarily used for construction.

But we’d be cautious about making long-term investments in any place temporarily benefiting from a short-term surge … so it’s best to look past the immediate impact.

Think about the long-term impact … which is a factor of WHAT is being built.

Fortunately, major projects take many months to complete … so they’re easy to see coming IF you’re paying attention.

We like to plug into the local chamber of commerce to track who’s coming and going in a market place … and why.  The local Business Journal is also a useful news source to monitor.

The kinds of development that excite us include factories, office buildings, industrial parks, and distribution centers.  Those mean local jobs.

We’re less excited about shopping centers, entertainment centers, and even residential and medical projects.

Because even though they mean jobs too … they don’t DRIVE the economy.  They feed off it.

Of course, we’re not saying those things are bad … but they should reflect current and projected growth … not be expected to drive it.

Hopefully, developers are doing solid market research and are building because the local population and prosperity can absorb the new product.

Then again, when money is aggressively pumped in, sometimes developers get greedy … and areas get OVER-built.

So don’t just follow the big money.   Be sure you understand the market.

Watch for the over-flow too …

Sometimes money moving into a market creates prosperity only for some … and hardship for others.

Silicon Valley is a CLASSIC example.

As billions flood into the market through inflated stock prices, many people get pushed off the back of the affordability bus.

But even though it’s hard for those folks, they end up driven into adjacent markets which are indirectly pushed up.  It’s overflow.

That’s when you see headlines like these …

Boise and Reno Capitalize on the California Real Estate Exodus –Bloomberg, 10/23/18

“Sky-high housing prices in the Golden State bring an echo boom—and new neighbors—to other Western states.”

Sure, in Silicon Valley’s case, the flow of money is cheap capital pouring into the stock market and enriching tech companies … and their employees.

But it doesn’t matter which door the money comes in when it flows into a market.  That’s why it’s best to look at ALL the flows into a market.

And when the flow of capital drives up investment property prices in a market (depressing cap rates), even investors will overflow into secondary markets in search of better yields.

The lesson here is to watch the ebb, flow, and overflows as capital pours into both the debt and equity side of real estate through Opportunity Zones, private equity funds, and increasing pension fund allocations.

You never quite know how the market will react, but you can be sure it will.

The key is to see the swell rising early so you can start paddling into position to catch the wave.

We do it by looking for clues in the news, producing and attending conferences, and getting into great conversations with the RIGHT people.

We encourage YOU to do the same.

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.


Love the show?  Tell the world!  When you promote the show, you help us attract more great guests for your listening pleasure!

The future of interest rates …

WOW … the news is FULL of things to keep an investor awake at night.

Some of it’s so exciting, you can’t wait to seize the opportunity.  Other things are so spooky, you want to pull the covers up and hope it’s just a Halloween gag.

Right now, stock market investors are learning it can be a mistake to try to ride the bull all the way to the peak … squeezing every drop of paper profit out …

… falsely believing you can beat the bears to the exit.

Stocks fall for 12 of the last 14 trading sessions – Yahoo Finance, 10/23/18

Yeah, but that’s Wall Street …

Existing-Home Sales Decline Across the Country in September – National Association of Realtors, 10/19/18

Oops.  Meanwhile …

Homeowners poised to start tapping $14.4 trillion in equity – CNBC, 10/19/18

Big banks reveal challenges in consumer credit, mortgages – Yahoo Finance, 10/15/18

“banks are seeing challenging headwinds … as charge-off rates – a measure of defaulted balances –  continue to rise.” 

So while there are MANY things to like about what’s going on in the U.S. economy …

U.S. named world’s most competitive economy for the first time in 10 years– Washington Post c/o The Chicago Tribune, 10/17/18

We remind you (and ourselves) … the economy and the financial system supporting it are two VERY different things.

That’s why you can have two camps … one saying the economy is strong … and another saying disaster is looming.  And they’re BOTH right.

Of course, “disaster” does NOT mean the end of the world … or a descent into some Mad Max post-apocalyptic anarchistic society.

Disaster can be as simple as a rapid shift in asset or currency values that the majority of people are on the wrong end of.

Just like the 2008 crisis ( a warm-up for what Peter Schiff calls The Real Crash which is yet to come) …

… those who were not aware and prepared got CRUSHED … while those who were made MILLIONS.

So “disaster” isn’t a universal experience when the economic winds shift suddenly.

It’s more a personal choice (often by default from neglect) and depends on the set of YOUR personal financial sail.

You’ll either get capsized, face severe headwinds … or you’ll catch a gust of wind at your back and sail on to new fortunes.

So watching the changing economic winds is an important responsibility of any serious investor.

Interest rates are the barometer which signals a change in the economic winds.

That’s why pro investors fixate on every move or utterance of the Federal Reserve, which is ONE of the most powerful influencers of interest rates … but NOT the only one.

No investor left behind …

 Interest rates are a by-product of the bid on bonds, which are debt securities.

So if the U.S. Treasury decides to borrow money (which they do ALL the time), the bid on those securities sets the yield.

The lower the bid, the higher the yield and vice-versa.

Falling interest rates (yields) come from a STRONG bid on bonds.  That is, there’s lots of buyers for bonds relative to the supply of bonds for sale.

When the Fed wants to push rates down, they add to market demand by BUYING bonds … bidding UP the bond price and driving DOWN the yield.

Are you with us so far?

But when the Fed wants to push rates UP, they do NOT bid on bonds (leaving demand up to the open market without the Fed’s bid).

Sometimes, the Fed will even SELL bonds they already own (“unwinding their balance sheet”) … adding to the supply offered by the Treasury (and other sellers like RussiaChina and even Japan).

And more supply and less buyers means bids go down … so yields go UP.  Make sense?

Apparently, government officials aren’t concerned about soft demand for Treasuries …

Treasury Secretary Mnuchin: I won’t be ‘losing any sleep’ if China dumps US bonds in retaliation over trade – CNBC 10/12/18

“If they decide they don’t want to hold them, there are other buyers …”

Okay then. No worries.  But …

Foreign Buying of U.S. Treasurys Softens, Unsettling Financial Markets –Wall Street Journal, 10/23/18

“Yet it is clear that the foreign pullback has helped fuel a bond selloff this fall, which has driven the 10-year yield to 3.17% and has shaken the nine-year-long rally in U.S. stocks …”

There’s a reason stocks are tanking and it has little to do with the economy.  That’s why President Trump is so upset with the Fed.

But it seems to us rising interest rates could be bigger than the Fed.  And the world looks different if the Fed loses control of interest rates.

Head spinning yet?  That’s okay.  It can be complex.  But there’s a reason big money watches the bond market like a hawk.

We try to keep is simple and just focus on the big concepts and how they trickle down to our Main Street investing …

More bonds than buyers mean rates are likely to rise.

For real estate investors, it means downward pressure on values … and more caution when using short-term financing.

Of course, when you can lock in long-term rates, today’s debt actually becomes an asset over time.  But that’s a topic for another day.

And just in case the ramblings of two dudes with mobile microphones and a fetish for news articles don’t make the case …

Last Saturday, we paid a visit to the New York home of former Director of the Office of Management and Budget or OMB (like the OMB numbers you see on your tax forms) … David Stockman.

Of course, we plunked down our mics and recorded a FASCINATING interview at his kitchen table … looking out his penthouse window at the stunning New York City skyline.

If you have any doubt Stockman is a world-class brainiac, buy a copy of his EPIC tome, The Great Deformation.

Bring your lunch and dictionary, but it’s totally worth it.  Only Robert Kiyosaki’s copy is more highlighted and marked up than ours.

You may not agree with Stockman’s politics, but he’s well-qualified to have an opinion on economic matters.  So we listen carefully.

Stockman believes even higher interest rates are coming to an economy near you.

So if there’s any doubt all this airy-fairy macro-economic babble matters to YOUR Main Street investing … think again.

And be VERY thankful these things roll out slowly.

There’s still time to re-arrange your portfolio and activities to fall squarely in the “aware and prepared” camp … and NOT in the “WTF is happening?” camp.

Of course, you can’t just float along with the crowd … unless you’re very careful to pick the right crowd.

But even then, it’s dangerous to fall asleep at the controls of your portfolio.

If you’re super studious, you can probably load up on books, podcasts, newsletters, video courses, and news articles … and you’ll be ahead of most.

And if you’re like us, you’ll do all that.

But you’ll ALSO invest to get in the right rooms with the right people so you can have portfolio-saving conversations.

Since you’ve read this far, you should consider joining us at both or either theNew Orleans Investment Conference and the Investor Summit at Sea™.

It’s where we go to get around a lot of REALLY smart people for SUPER enlightening conversations.

And it’s arguably more important RIGHT NOW than in recent memory …

,,, because for many investors, this is the first time in their investing career they’ve faced a rising interest rate environment.

You can learn by trial and error (expensive and painful) … or by gleaning wisdom from seasoned investors and well-qualified subject matter experts.

It’s probably obvious which one we advocate.

Until next time … good investing!


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Six lessons from Sears’ bankruptcy …

Your reaction to the news of Sears’ bankruptcy would tell us a lot about your age and economic status growing up.

But whether you’re sad and nostalgic because there’s another nail in the coffin of an iconic piece of Americana …

… or you’re completely oblivious because the Sears brand has no meaning or relevance in your life …

… there are several important lessons for real estate investors to be gleaned from the slow, painful demise of this 125-year old retail institution.

We could do an entire series on this topic … as each lesson could be an article in its own right.

But with so many things to comment on, we’ll keep each lesson short …

Lesson #1:  Evolve or die

Sears revolutionized retailing when it pioneered catalog sales.  Sears was the Amazon.com of its day.

But Sears failed to evolve with technology … and with a shrinking middle-class.

So pay close attention to emerging trends in your niche and do your best to stay ahead of the curve.  Attend conferences.  Talk to other active investors.

Because the world is constantly changing.  For example, the services and amenities desired by today’s tenants are very different from even 10 years ago.

And as the Millennial demographic wave rolls through the seasons of life, don’t assume they’ll mirror the needs of the boomers before them.

Surveys are already indicating it’s a whole new ballgame.  So be prepared to evolve … or die.

Lesson #2:  Don’t let the fox guard the hen-house 

Maybe this is a little harsh … and we’ll admit we only have visibility into the situation from what we’ve read in the news …

… but it sure seems like the head guy at Sears had a huge conflict of interest.

We’re not here to accuse or defend.  Time will tell if he wins or loses, but it seems clear he’s on both ends of the deal … so at the very least, the temptation is there.

As your portfolio grows, and more people are involved in helping you operate it, be VERY aware of when someone may be tempted to enrich themselves at your expense.

And be EXTRA careful when you’re managing investor money.

Lesson #3:  Consuming equity to pay operating expenses is a cancer.

Because Sears failed to evolve, it managed to lose money for SEVEN YEARS in a row.  It made up the shortfall by going into debt and selling off assets.

We know this is a bad plan because we’ve done it. (See Lesson #4)

It’s one thing to see your net worth shrink as a result of fluctuating asset values.  This is par for the course when you denominate net worth in dollars instead of doors.

But as long as you’re playing the long game, fluctuating asset values is a side-show.

And if your cash-flows are solid and your holdings of real assets (doors, tenants, properties, ounces, etc.) is growing, you’re on the right path.

When the market gives you a temporary spike of paper equity, it can be smart to quickly convert it into more units of real value.  But that’s a lesson for another day.

Our point now is when you start using equity to debt-service or pay operating expenses, your portfolio has cancer.  And you better fix it FAST.

If you don’t, your negative cash-flow will eventually consume you … like it has Sears … even though it may take many years.

Lesson #4:  Don’t let a strong balance sheet make you lazy.

With lots of assets, including real estate, Sears’ management could handle the financial problems their business problems created.

It’s like a football team with a big lead that stops playing to win and just tries to protect the lead.

They use the scoreboard to make up for not scoring points on offense or giving them up on defense … hoping the game-clock will win the game.

When your P&L and cash-flow reports tell you that your properties are failing, don’t kick the can down the road with your balance sheet just because you can.

Because when your balance sheet is really strong, you might be able to avoid dealing with the real problems for years … sometimes decades.

But you risk losing the momentum, resourcefulness, and relationships you need to turn it around.

As Jim Collins says in Good to Great, you must “confront the brutal facts.”  And the sooner, the better.

Uncle Sam, are you listening?

Lesson #5:  You’re in the people business, not the numbers business.

Your brand (your reputation … how people feel about you) is your MOST important asset.

When you have lots of people who know you, like you, trust you … then even when you need to change what you sell because of market dynamics … your customers will buy.

Over-time, Sears … like MANY big companies … became more focused on the numbers than on the customers’ experience.

When this happens, you not only break trust with your customers … you forget how to innovate.

Innovation comes from looking at everything through the eyes of the customer and asking, “How can we make this better for the customer?”

When you do this, you grow revenue, retention, referrals, and profit. It’s an abundance mindset.  And it takes faith.

But when it’s only numbers, you ask, “How can we squeeze more profit out of what we’re already doing?”.  It’s lazy (see Lesson #4).

It’s also a reflection of scarcity thinking.  It’s rooted in fear, and asks the customer to conform to the company’s needs.  Bad plan.

Your tenants are customers. They have needs.  They aren’t just rent mules who exist to pull your financials to the next plateau.

When you take care of the people and your business model, your numbers take care of themselves.

Lesson #6:  It’s not over until it’s over.

We got hit HARD in 2008.  In many ways, we’re still recovering.  For Sears, Chapter 11 provides some relief while they work on re-inventing themselves.

Sometimes no one believes in you and you’re on your own to keep grinding it out to save things.

We don’t know anything about Sears’ team or relationships.  So we have no opinion on whether they have what it takes to make it or not.

But there are many companies who go into bankruptcy, re-organize, and get back on their feet.  American Airlines is a fairly recent example.

For Main Street real investors and entrepreneurs, it’s like Les Brown says …

“Any day you wake up and there’s not a white chalk line around your body … it’s going to be a good day!”

In other words, where’s there’s life, there’s hope.

So whether you’re crushing it now … or being crushed … it’s wise to never take anything for granted.  Just keep pushing forward because neither good times nor bad times last forever.

Until next time … good investing!


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Forming a real-world investment thesis …

We all have beliefs that guide our investment decisions … even when we don’t put much thought into them.

Sometimes we don’t even know what we believe, until we’re sitting in a pile of rubble asking ourselves, “What the heck was I thinking?”

So sometimes it’s smart to slow down to go faster … investing time to form a more cogent investment thesis.

That’s why we do our annual goals retreat, and make it a high priority to get away together with other serious investors at conferences and summits.

Plus, you compress time frames by listening to and talking with others … especially those with different perspectives and experiences.

Honest investors will tell you some of their hypotheses proved true, while others didn’t.  We’ve never met anyone who’s ALWAYS right.

But if you can be right more than you’re wrong … you may lose a few battles along the way, but you’ll win the war.

That is as long as you NEVER risk it all on any ONE thesis or deal.

For example, before 2008, it could be said U.S. housing prices had never declined.

Sure, individual properties … even certain areas … had pulled back or dipped.

But across the United States, the average and median prices of homes had been on a 40-year upward trajectory.

So everyone from Wall Street to Main Street had investment strategies based on the premise that U.S. housing prices were highly stable.

Of course, in typical fashion, the wizards of Wall Street leveraged their investment thesis to the extreme … using multiple derivatives of mortgage-backed-securities …

… and by so doing changed one of the important dynamics of stability (sound loan underwriting) … with catastrophic results.

Some saw it coming.  Most didn’t.

So again, never bet the farm on one deal, one market, or one thesis.  We know … because we’ve done it.

Way back in pre-2008, Dallas Texas was one of the most boring major real estate markets in the nation. B-O-R-I-N-G.

But on the 2009 Investor Summit at Sea™, Robert Kiyosaki’s real estate advisor Ken McElroy … the master of simple brilliance … told us his investment thesis.

Ken said he thought that coming out of the recession, energy producing economies would create the most jobs, attract the most people, and lead to steady demand for working class housing.

He reasoned those jobs are linked to where the energy is … because you can’t move an oil field or huge refineries to China or Mexico to take advantage of cheap labor.

So any region heavily involved in energy would probably do well.

In the fullness of time, Ken’s thesis proved correct.  Texas led the nation in job creation and the energy sector was a big part of it.

Dallas … along with other energy markets … boomed.

We understood the concept and wondered what other industries are geographically linked?

We came up with distribution and healthcare.  After all, people need supplies … and those supplies need to be shipped.

People also need healthcare, especially as boomers age, and they’re not going to China for it.

And neither supplies or healthcare are highly discretionary either.  People need them in good times and bad.

So things that are necessary at all times, and linked to geography and/or extremely hard to build or move infrastructure …  are more likely to remain stable.

Based on that thesis, we took an interest in distribution markets like Memphis and Dallas (energy AND distribution) …

… which both turned out to be great residential real estate investment markets to this day.

This is just another real-world example of starting with a conversation with a smart investor … forming a simple investment thesis (focus on markets with geographically linked jobs) …

… doing some research, using common sense, and then stepping out and testing the thesis in the real world.

Over time the thesis is either proven or refuted.  In this case, so far so good!

Of course, the “geographically linked jobs” thesis is only about regional industry.

There’s also demographics and economics to consider …

Robert Kiyosaki has been warning for years about a shrinking middle class.

Robert’s a smart guy.  So we listened, we researched, and we reasoned.

And because it made sense to us, we rolled the premise of a shrinking middle class into an investment thesis described in this 2011 article.

Later, building further on our studies of the shrinking middle class, we found opportunity in something we call the dumbbell effect.

We won’t rehash those musing here, but they’re worth reviewing today … now that you have the benefit of hindsight.

Lastly, this very recent news article provides perspective supporting another long-held thesis we’ve had about affordable housing markets.

According to ATTOM Solutions, one of the industry’s biggest and most reputable data crunchers …

 “At the moment, demand for rental homes is strongest in less expensive housing markets, which serve households with lower incomes.”

“The weakest demand is in the high-end and the strongest demand is in the low-end …”

A “booming” economy might low unemployment and rising wages.

But it can also mean higher interest and energy expenses, which are cost components of EVERYTHING people need to buy.

So the national economy might be booming … but is it showing up for the working class folks on Main Street?  Maybe.

But when it comes to residential real estate, we still feel safer in affordable markets and property types … things like B-class apartments and mobile homes.

Right now, the data seems to support the thesis.

But what about going FORWARD?

Today, investors are facing a rising interest environment for the first time in decades.

At the same time, and perhaps related, the dollar is under attack with a global resistance led by China, Russia, Iran and other nations.

Mainstream financial news pays some attention to these things … but only from Wall Street’s perspective.

Yet these events all directly or indirectly roll down to Main Street investing … creating both challenges and opportunities.

While we’re still formulating our theses for today’s changing world, it seems likely that product classes and markets with higher-yields will become capital magnets …

… eventually driving the yields down, but also creating gobs of equity for people already in the space.

That means now could well be a land-grab opportunity in those key markets and product types.

There’s also the changing of the demographic guard as baby boomers sail off into their rest-home years and Millennials become the new pig in the python.

So paying attention to Millennial trends will become increasingly important.

That’s why we have an Investor Summit at Sea™ Young Adult Program to get more young people into our conversations.

Another developing trend is the current drive to rebuild America’s manufacturing capabilities.

As this leads to a revitalization of the rust belt, it could create a convergence of affordability, demographics, and capital attraction … with lots of opportunity.

The point of all this is the world is changing … as it always does.

Our experience is the most successful investors pay close attention, get lots of qualified input, and then make important adjustments to their core theses so they can stay ahead of the curve.

Until next time … good investing!


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Housing horror … or hallelujah?

Regular readers know we follow the news pretty closely. Well, okay … we’re obsessive compulsive news junkies.  But for good reason!

The economy and underlying financial system (two VERY different things) form the environment all our money-making ventures exist in.

When the financial winds change, alert investors adjust their sails to put the wind at their back.

Today’s “booming” economy is creating asset price inflation … including stocks and real estate … depressing bond prices (which in turn, drive interest rates UP).

PLUS the Federal Reserve continues to tighten monetary policy by raising its target rate.

Unsurprisingly, as we discussed last time, mortgage rates are rising along with the 10-year Treasury … and this adds to downward pressure on rising real estate prices.

Mainstream headlines tell some of the story.  But we also watch trade publications for clues that don’t always make it to the mainstream.

So we opened up our news archive and scanned industry headlines for the last few months to see if there’s a discernible trend …

Worst home affordability in nearly 10 years – June 19, 2018

U.S. home prices appreciating at slowest pace in two-years – July 24, 2018

Foreclosure Starts Increase in 44 Percent of U.S. Markets in July 2018 – August 17, 2018

Home flipping returns drop to 4 nearly 4-year low  – September 4, 2018

Rent jumps cool in hot markets, but for how long? – September 11, 2018

Down payments rise with stiff competition for homes – September 20, 2018

Without digging into the weeds of each article (though they’re all interesting reads) …

… it seems like home prices have risen to a resistance point … slowing their upward trajectory … while marginal owners are getting pushed off the back of the bus.

Meanwhile, real estate “day traders” (flippers) are finding it harder to get in and out quickly because the rising-price gravy-train is tapering off.

Okay, let’s take a breath here and process …

If you’re buying real estate for short term passive equity growth, this is probably bad news.  The market isn’t just dumping generous portions of equity on to your balance sheet.

Also, if you’re in at the high end of hot markets, you may have to hold longer than you thought.  Hopefully, the cash flow is there to help you ride out this phase of the cycle.

Those who went into the high-end of hot markets with thin or negative cash flow … whether as an investor or a home-owner … could find themselves land-locked and bleeding for a while.  No fun.

We’d need to dig deeper, but these are often the source of increasing foreclosures.

BUT … if you’re in the middle price range of moderate priced markets, you may end up being the beneficiary of INCREASED demand …

… as folks from higher priced properties and markets, both as buyers and renters, crowd into your space.

Remember, when you’re at the top, there’s no one above you to move down in tough times to boost demand in a soft market.

That’s why we’re fans of middle markets … where there are people below you to move up in good times, and people above you to move down in bad times.

And when it comes to apartments, nearly all new builds add to the top of the market …. increasing competition and pushing down prices at that level.

But it’s not feasible to build new middle market inventory, so while it’s more competitive to buy those properties … there’s also good demand from renters once you have one.

Whether it’s rising mortgage rates, rising consumer interest rates, price inflation, or rising home prices …

… it seems the stars are aligned for strong demand for rental properties.

Just like the financial crisis, housing horror can be landlord hallelujah.

All that to say that the right properties in the right markets with the right financing, while harder to find, still make a lot of sense.

Just be SURE your underwriting is realistic … because right now, the market is saying the easy money gravy train is slowing down.

It’s also probably wise in any market, but especially now, to project growth ONLY on those things you can control (added value) … and not count on a rising tide to lift your boat.

And if you’ve got great properties with equity … and you want to keep them for the long haul … it might be a good time to look at liquefying some of that equity to keep as dry powder if prices soften.

With rising rates, you can probably lend out some of the proceeds on desirable properties for a high yield (first position with a good chunk of protective equity!) …

… or invest into high-yielding properties or pools (mobile homesresidential assisted living, etc.) where the income from only portion of your loan proceeds can cover the ENTIRE loan.

This lets you store the rest for picking up bargains when the falling tide flushes speculators who are out of position to make it to the next up cycle.

Bottom line is those who are great at managing cash flow will win.  Those who aren’t will get flushed.

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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