Single-Family Update and Hot Market Spotlight

We taped this episode of The Real Estate Guys™ show at the Single Family Rental Investment Forum in Scottsdale, Arizona.

This is our second year at the event, and while it features many big institutional investors, we’ve also spoken to a number of mom-and-pop investors who are looking at the big picture for single-family investing.

That’s a great thing to do…it means you get a look at what your competition’s doing so you can jump into market niches before they do.

In this show, we talk to a guest who has found a market niche and perfected the process for investing in single-family homes there.

Learn all about this hot market … and get an update on the state of single-family rentals. You’ll hear from:

  • Your singular host, Robert Helms
  • His singled-out co-host, Russell Gray
  • Single-family expert Patrick Grace

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Kansas City, Missouri, market drivers

We always say live where you want, but invest where the numbers make sense.

Well, our guest today happens to live and work in the same market. He has spent so much time with his boots on the ground … 20 years! … that he has his market down cold.

Our guest is syndicator and investor Patrick Grace, and his market is Kansas City, Missouri.

Pat works exclusively on the Missouri side … but there is a Kansas City, Kansas, right across the river, in case you were curious.

We asked Pat to give us a market spotlight, so let’s start with the basics. Why does Kansas City make sense?

  • The cost of living is low. Housing, groceries, and basic necessities are affordable for residents.
  • It’s a low-risk market. KC doesn’t go through big ups and downs.
  • It’s a booming metro area. KC is centrally located in the U.S., making it a transportation hub for trucks, trains, and boats. Both the Missouri River and the nation’s second-largest railroad pass through KC.
  • It’s packed with thriving educational institutions. Pat says there are almost 47 four-year colleges within 30 to 40 miles of the KC metro area. Many college grads come to the area for school, then stay to work and live.
  • It’s business-friendly. Not only because of its great location and low cost of living, but also because of labor availability.

Are there any weaknesses to KC? Pat says most jobs are fairly low-wage, which makes sense, based on the city’s cost of living and economic base. That’s actually a good thing for single-family rental investors … it means people stay renters.

Kansas City single-family rental profile

Pat is a syndicator in Kansas City. He currently owns and/or manages over 700 single-family homes in the market.

His focus … his niche … is finding distressed properties or properties on auction and bringing them back to life.

His business is a vertically integrated, one-stop-shop for investors. He has an in-house real estate company for finding homes along with construction and property management businesses.

Investors can invest in anywhere from 1 to 100 homes, and Pat’s team handles the entire process … from finding the property, to fixing and renting it.

Properties in Pat’s portfolio usually fit a standard profile … 2-bedroom, 2-bath homes with 3-car garages, sold for $130-150 thousand.

Investors usually put down 20 to 25 percent of the sale price, for which they have a variety of loan options, including Fanny Mae, IRA funds, 1031 exchanges, and private loans.

“Renters are plentiful,” Pat says. And rents are reasonable for both renters and investors seeking cashflow. The sweet spot, Pat says, is between $800 and $1,500 per month.

What about the tenant-landlord law? “Missouri is favorable to landlords,” he says.

Landlords can get in front of a judge within a month and get non-paying tenants out within 30 days of the court date, typically … although usually, it doesn’t come to that.

And occupancy is high. “Our portfolio is 97 percent occupied,” Pat notes. He says he gets a pile of rental applications every day, which means he can be selective about screening and vetting tenants.

The turnkey rental model

Pat’s business functions on a turnkey rental model. In fact, he says, 90 percent of his investors live outside of Kansas City, simply because Pat and his team are so good at handling every component of the buy-rehab-rent-manage process.

Investors don’t have to use all of Pat’s services, but most choose to once they buy one (or more) of the properties within his portfolio.

Most investors come in after Pat has found, rehabbed, and rented the property, but some like to get involved earlier. That’s the “skinny cow” rental model.

In those cases, investors are involved from the beginning. They know exactly how much the property costs and have a say in rehab and construction. They still work with Pat’s vetted crews and companies, but they get to see the process from beginning to end and have a say in tenant placement.

This allows investors to get some education on the process.

Pat’s business model works well because he’s exploiting a niche. He says most hedge funds and bigger investment companies go after more expensive homeowner-sold, ready-to-rent properties instead of choosing the more intensive value-add option.

By working with distressed properties, Pat can force equity. And he’s learned that by choosing premium-grade materials during rehab, he can also charge premium rents to tenants. That means spending maybe $1,000 more than he could to put in quality tiling, fixtures, and appliances that draw more, and better, tenants.

And because Pat owns his own rehab and construction companies, he can use the same materials in bulk and renovate quickly and efficiently.

Tenants usually sign one- to two-year leases. Pat says his contracts have automatic lease renewal clauses along with 3 to 5 percent yearly lease escalators.

Low-entry, high-cashflow investing

What does Pat wish people knew about Kansas City?

“Kansas City is low-entry and high-cashflow, but we also have a duel-exit strategy,” Pat says. Owners can rent for cashflow or sell rehabbed properties for equity.

Pat also says he wished people knew how metropolitan KC is. It’s a big metro area with a revitalized airport, great infrastructure and transportation, including over 1,000 miles of bike lanes, and a growing number of commercial and retail facilities.

Yet despite its growth, KC remains affordable to the tenants that are Pat’s bread and butter. He says he primarily serves service workers, medical professionals, mechanics and truck drivers, warehouse and distribution center workers, and tech professionals. Most tenants work blue-collar jobs, making them reliable long-term renters.

And the growth shows no signs of stopping … millennials and college grads are flocking to KC and settling down there. KC is the perfect combination of affordability and lifestyle.

Kansas City sounds pretty great to us, but if you want even more information, check out Pat Grace’s exclusive webinar, which you can access by listening in to the podcast. He also created a market report just for our readers. Check it out here!


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Ask the Guys – Long-Distance Landlording, Property Management and More

Welcome back to an all-new edition of Ask The Guys!

Today, we’ll be answering listener questions. So listen in for our best real estate tips and tricks!

A disclaimer … we are not tax advisors or legal professionals. In our Ask The Guys series, we give ideas and information … NOT advice.

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

  • Your tipster host, Robert Helms
  • His tricky co-host, Russell Gray

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How do I find a property management company?

This question comes from Lee, in Bay City, Michigan. He wants to know whether we have any advice for finding—and vetting—management companies.

He says he’s investing in his area, but the only management companies he can find are run by real estate agents on the side. He has a day job, and doesn’t have time to manage on his own … so he wants to find a reputable company that’s up for the task.

He also asks whether he should move out of his local area, since there aren’t many management companies.

We always say you should invest where the numbers make sense … but you also need to invest in places where you can find a great team.

In the long term, your property manager is the most important person on your team. So if there aren’t any great property management solutions where you live … perhaps it’s time to expand your geographic investing boundaries.

Start by refining your personal investment philosophy, then look for a market that both matches your goals and has the management companies to fill your needs.

You don’t want single-point failure. Make sure the company you choose aligns with your philosophy. Ask them, “Who supports you, and how?”

You want to make sure their compensation model is aligned with your best interests. In other words, when you earn money, they do too.

And choose your property management company BEFORE you buy your properties. They can be an excellent resource for finding properties and asset class types that will work well for both of you.

Remember, you can’t scale up without putting the right team in place. Getting a great property manager on your team helps you find the professional distance you need to run your business properly.

How do Section 8 rentals work?

Laura, from Naples, Florida, wants to know how Section 8 rentals work and how she can acquire affordable housing in her investment market.

First, a few things about Section 8. Section 8 is housing subsidized by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). But it’s administered by local public housing agencies, so it’s not always available and differs across the country.

Section 8 can be great because a portion of the rent is paid by the government. You basically have a guarantee you’ll get most of your rent on time, regularly.

But tenants in this housing can be a tough crowd … sometimes they don’t blend well with other, non-Section 8 tenants. For that reason, we like a property to be all Section 8 or none.

A great resource for learning about Section 8 is Mike McLean, who has published a book called the Section 8 Bible and has some great online resources, too.

Affordable housing can be a good place to be because of stagnant purchasing power … but make sure you’re playing close attention to the program from which funding comes.

And keep in mind … the devil is in the details. If you’re not managing the property yourself, make sure your property manager is well acquainted with Section 8.

Should I invest now, or later?

Casey, in Lehi, Utah, has been listening to the podcast, and now he has a pressing question.

Casey has saved up $100,000 to invest, but he wants to know whether he should invest now or wait until the market takes a dive. He mentions worries such as rising interest rates, an unstable dollar, and inflation.

Let’s start with a premise … markets will either do well or poorly in the future. We know that. We also know that when the market hits the bottom, you can only go up.

Real estate is a long-term, buy-and-hold business. But it is interest-rate sensitive, so you want to make sure you lock in long-term financing if you invest now.

It’s also good to keep some liquidity for if and when the market does go downhill.

Something we like to say is, “Opportunities are like busses. Another one will always come along … but you have to get on the bus at some point.”

The way we see it, Casey has a few options …

  1. Invest in things that are likely to do well, even when the market is bad, particularly mid-level rentals and below. There will always be demand for housing, especially mid-range housing.
  2. Invest in a forced equity situation … a neighborhood or property that has room for improvement, which you can force upward in value. This will help you mitigate downward pressure to the dollar.
  3. Invest in a bigger market … this provides stability, as these markets have more ballast during tough times.
  4. Step in on the debt side of the market by lending money to other investors.
  5. Work with an experienced syndicator who is more likely to get investments right, even when times are more precarious.

Remember, when you’re in property for the long haul, most of the time you’ll be fine. The key is to structure deals so you can weather the ups and downs.

Another thing to consider … the price only matters when you buy and when you sell. In between, it’s all about cashflow.

Real estate is one of the best inflation hedges if you structure the financing properly relative to cashflow … but you can’t fledge against inflation if you don’t do anything at all!

How do I create residual income with little savings?

Jeff, in Fountain Hills, Arizona, says he is in an interesting situation.

He doesn’t have any income, but he has enough cash to live on for 24 months. In the meantime, he wants to figure out how to create residual income that will pay for his living expenses going forward.

Jeff is looking at building a balance sheet of passive income sources.

But right now, he has time, labor, and energy he can put to work. And since he’s not holding on to a chunk of cash, the active investor route is a good one.

Some options …

  1. Force equity by fixing and flipping.
  2. Earn cashflow by fixing, holding, and renting.
  3. Become a syndicator and use other people’s money to make great investments. It’s our favorite way to go full-time, fast.
  4. Try wholesaling.

Basically, what Jeff needs to do right now is to build up his investment capital so he can start getting some cashflow.

But before he does that, we suggest he invest in education and build relationships. Get the right tools in your toolbox and the right advisors at your back before you go big.

Can you recommend turnkey management companies?

Keith hails from East Sandwich, Massachusetts. He recently bought a home through Mid South Homebuyers and is ready to buy another.

The problem? He’s on the waitlist at Mid South. In the meantime, he’s looking for another turnkey company that manages the houses it sells.

One disclaimer … we don’t know anybody quite like Terry Kerr at Mid South.

But we do know lots of other great folks.

The idea of a turnkey provider is that they do the whole thing … find the properties, get them in great shape, put tenants in, and manage the rentals.

But before you look for a provider, think about the type of property, market, and team you want.

Then go ahead and search our provider network for someone who can help fill your needs. We don’t guarantee anyone on the list, but we do promise we’ve spent a lot of time with them on the ground and have seen enough to trust them.

Should I attend Secrets of Successful Syndication now, or later?

Gene, in Boston, Massachusetts, is an investor who owns two duplexes. He wonders whether he should attend our signature Secrets of Successful Syndication conference now, or later in the year when he has more experience.

We’ve gotta say, we really think the key is for investors to come early and often.

This conference is designed for investors who already have a portfolio and are ready to take the next step.

But even if you’re just starting out, it’s a great way to get around what we call “evidence of success” and learn the power of networking.

Experience is something you can accumulate through other people. And syndication is all about having the experience to make good investment decisions.

So, for those who want to move forward, we recommend you start as soon as you can.


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Making Fast Money with Wholesaling

Real estate investing is the process of building a portfolio of properties that produce passive income.

But to build a portfolio, you need to be able to purchase properties … and to purchase properties you need cash.

So what can someone without a ton of equity who’s just getting started in real estate do to earn the money for a down payment?

Wholesaling.

This real estate-adjacent technique is a low-risk way to quickly convert hustle and relationships to cold, hard cash. Listen in as we discuss the ins and outs of wholesaling with an industry veteran.

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

  • Your wholesome host, Robert Helms
  • His wholly absurd co-host, Russell Gray
  • Educator and wholesaler Tom Krol

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What is wholesaling?

Wholesalers play an important role in the food chain of real estate.

Let’s start with a definition. A wholesaler is someone who finds properties and gets them under contract … but then finds a buyer to clinch the deal. The wholesaler gets a fee for doing the work of finding low-priced properties and getting them to buyers.

You may notice signs in your neighborhood that say something like, “We buy houses!” Probably a wholesaler.

It can be a brilliant way to go if you’re committed and excel at building relationships.

By building up pipelines of hard-to-find deals and committed buyers, you can make real money … fast.

Why does wholesaling work?

Tom Krol got his start in real estate by wholesaling.

Actually … he got his start in lawn-mowing, but then he got fired. His brother convinced him to try wholesaling, and he has never looked back.

Tom has now done hundreds of transactions. We sat down to chat with him about how YOU can get into the wholesaling business.

Wholesaling is “more like a pawnshop than a real estate business,” Tom says. That’s because your main task is to form relationships with homeowners who want to sell quickly.

When owners are selling, they can choose two out of three criteria … speed, price, and convenience.

Wholesalers are looking for sellers who are willing to give up a high price for a convenient, quick sale. “We’re the ‘this week’ guys,” Tom says.

People sell for different reasons … divorce, bankruptcy, job changes, disrepair. Another type of seller wholesalers look for are absentee landlords looking to get out of a property.

Wholesaling works because if you can find a discounted property, there will always be SOMEONE who has the cash and is willing to pay.

Finding sellers and buyers and valuating properties

“A common stumbling block for wholesalers is valuations,” Tom says. “I always suggest you just use your gut.”

He says most people have a good feel for what homes are worth in their market and what prices are good and bad.

Knowing the local market is helpful. “The best deals are in your backyard,” Tom says.

A good rule of thumb is to shoot for a selling price between 40 to 60 percent of the home’s valuation on Zillow or other property appraisal sites, although that will vary by area.

You get a feel for what will work over time, Tom says … but the key is finding a deal and jumping on it. Ultimately, a wholesaler’s job is to find and seal deals quickly.

Plus, you risk very little by mis-estimating a price for the home. Price a home too low, and you simply get more money. Price it too high, you just don’t get a contract. You’re not putting any money down yourself.

“What’s great about wholesaling is it produces a lot of cash in a short amount of time, and then it provides a pipeline of cherrypicked properties you can choose for your own portfolio,” Tom says.

What about finding buyers? Tom says as long as you can find consistently discounted properties, you’ll always be able to find a buyer.

“The art is just to get really good at finding discounted properties. You can then go into any room and someone will say yes.”

All you need is grit

From wholesaling, it’s very easy to make the transition to traditional real estate investing. Wholesaling allows you to accumulate cash … and find great properties on the way.

“What keeps people out of wholesaling is belief that homeowners don’t sell at a discount,” Tom says.

But that belief is a myth … if you have the tenacity, there will always be owners looking to sell quickly and conveniently.

Tom now teaches other folks how to wholesale. It takes a lot of work, a lot of persistence, grit, and determination to get started, he says.

And while it doesn’t cost a lot to get started, it does cost a bit … you have to spend the money to market yourself properly.

It’s a great business for people who are just getting started in real estate, or those who are already landlords or rehabbers and want to step up their game and find great deals.

And, if you’re starting from nothing, don’t worry. “Rock bottom is the strongest of foundations,” says Tom. You have nowhere to go but up if you really want it.

Tom has created a special report for our listeners on the five big things he wishes he had known when he was starting out in wholesaling. You can access that report here.

Now go out and make some equity happen!


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The big story for 2019 will be …

As we’re winding down 2018, it’s time to rub our crystal balls and peer into the new year … and we see …. 

Taxes.

For most high-earners, taxes are their biggest expense.  And almost everyone who has to pay taxes would prefer not to … or at least pay less.

So while there are MANY trends and developments real estate investors should pay attention to in the new year …

… the biggest story may well end up being how market participants respond to their growing understanding of the revised tax code.

Thanks to tax strategy advocates like Tom Wheelwright, many people ALREADY investing in real estate are cashing in on the amazing tax benefits the new law gives to real estate investors.

But as investors of all stripes close the books on 2018 and start looking for tax breaks in the new year, we’re guessing many will discover real estate for the very first time.

Meanwhile, it’s quite possible stock investors will trade in their “buy the dip” strategy for “drop the falling knife” … and look for other, less volatile places to invest the proceeds.

While YOU may not be interested in the stock market, its recent tribulations are noteworthy because it may portend a shift of capital from Wall Street stocks to Main Street real estate.

And if you’re a syndicator talking with prospective investors, you should really have more than just a cursory understanding of what puts downward pressure on stocks.

After all, some of the jittery money still stuck in stocks just might be inclined to move your way … if you’re able to explain the case for real estate.

Besides tariffs and rising interest rates, there are two factors putting pressure on stocks but aren’t discussed much on mainstream financial news.

First, as interest rates rise, it’s less profitable for corporations to borrow heavily to buy back their own stocks.

Besides, many have already gorged themselves on cheap money while taking corporate debt to record levels.  This alone is causing some concern.

And if rates resume their climb, debt service will begin to take a toll on corporate earnings as interest expenses rise. 

There’s a second factor sucking the wind out of the corporate buyback sail …

The big tax break offered to corporations enticing them to bring their offshore money back to America has already worked most of its magic.

And a lot of the money ended up in stock buybacks.

But with the dual air pumps of cheap debt and repatriated offshore funds both losing pressure, stock buybacks are slowing … letting air out of the stock bubble.

Remember, asset values (prices) are largely based on “air pressure”.  There always needs to be more money coming in to keep prices elevated.

On the other hand, income producing assets … like rental properties … derive their value from income.  And because those incomes are relatively steady, so are the prices.

That’s why jilted stock investors often migrate into real estate. 

Sure, they like flirting with the hot stocks when the punch bowl is full.  But when the bowl runs dry, many investors choose to go home to old faithful … real estate. 

And when you add in the new tax breaks, old faithful got a face lift … and is even MORE attractive.

But it gets better …

The world is really starting to buzz about Opportunity Zones

O-zones promise huge tax breaks … and much of it is likely to provide long-term benefit to real estate in those designated areas.

Of course, like anything new, it takes time for folks to figure it out, to get in position, and make their moves.

That’s the advantage of being small.  You can study fast and out-hustle the big money to get into position. 

Then when big money finally shows up, you get to ride a wave.

So when we look at the upcoming year, we think the impact of the tax laws will continue to magnify a movement of money into real estate.

And even if the overall economy slows, it’s our guess real estate will continue to attract its unfair share of investor interest.

Now we’re starting to understand why Tom Wheelwright and Robert Kiyosaki get so excited about taxes, real estate, and infinite returns.

Until next time … good investing!


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Precious Metals for Real Estate Investors

In our latest episode, we’re chasing shiny objects. Gold, silver, palladium, and platinum, to be specific.

Now, you might be wondering how precious metals investing is relevant to you as a real estate investor. But guess what? When people want somewhere to hide equity, and don’t want to put money into stocks and bonds, they turn to gold.

Precious metals play an essential role in the worldwide economic sea. They act as a hedge against falling currency and a way to diversify.

So, we invited a special guest to explain how the precious metals business works … and give you the information you need to decide whether gold and silver might be a great investment for YOU.

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

  • Your golden host, Robert Helms
  • His silvering co-host, financial strategist Russell Gray
  • Precious metals expert Dana Samuelson

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Basics of precious metals investing

We met with Dana Samuelson at the 44th annual New Orleans Investment Conference. It’s our 6th year attending, but Dana’s been around since 1983, when he started working in the precious metals business for Jim Blanchard.

Dana owns a national mail-order business, through which he buys and sells modern bullion coins. He is also an expert in classic U.S. and European gold coins.

We asked him to explain the goal of precious metal investments.

Gold is not necessarily an investment, Dana says. But, “We live in a world of enormous debt, so precious metals are a good insurance policy,” he says.

Dana says investing 5 to 10 percent of your net worth in precious metals offers a way to keep your equity solid, even when the value of paper assets is fluctuating.

He calls gold a “safe, proven, real money investment.”

There are different ways to invest … you can collect precious metals bit by bit over time, or you can pick up larger amounts during periodic price dips.

Gold and silver are slightly different investments. For one thing, gold is more portable than silver. A handful of gold equals a wheelbarrow of silver.

Another difference … people tend to put their equity in gold over silver when the stock market and the dollar aren’t doing well.

The gold-silver price ratio can be used to determine the relative value of gold to silver. To find the ratio, simply divide the gold price by the silver price.

Traditionally, this ratio has been 20:1. Today, it usually hits somewhere between 60:1 and 80:1. Right now, the ratio is on the high end, about 85:1, which means silver is cheap relative to gold.

It’s a good number to look at when you’re trying to figure out what … and when … to buy.

Different methods for precious metals investing

Gold and silver come in many forms.

There are gold bars, which are now mainly produced by mints around the world and have to meet purity and weight integrity standards.

There are also smaller American Gold Eagles and Canadian Gold Maple Leafs, modern bullion coins that are sold by the ounce, half-ounce, quarter-ounce, and eighth-ounce.

Since these are smaller than gold bars, you don’t have to report to the government when you buy them, typically.

Dana calls these bullion coins “bread and butter” products. They’re reliable, widely available, competitively priced, and have long-term value and viability.

You can also buy generic 1-ounce rounds from private mints, usually silver.

Many people like to have a viable alternative to paper money, Dana says. Aside from widely available bullion coins, investors can also go the numismatic route.

U.S. coins minted before 1964 are 95% silver by weight. And gold coins minted before 1933, when the U.S. went off the gold standard, are increasingly valuable.

The coin-collecting route is great because of basic supply-demand principles … as time goes by, fewer older coins are available, so not only are these older coins made from precious metals, but they also hold an inherently higher value because they’re increasingly scarce.

How to get started with precious metals

Gold has been a form of money literally since the concept of money first originated. It’s a currency of last resort because it’s one of the few forms of currency that doesn’t need a government guarantee to back it.

Gold and silver are the most popular precious metals. We asked Dana about the other two sister precious metals, platinum and palladium.

These are much, much scarcer than gold, Dana says, but they’re valuable because they’re scarce … and because they’re necessary. Both metals are used in catalytic converters for automobiles.

How can someone new to precious metals get started? “Find a reputable, long-term dealer,” Dana says.

He offers his precious metal trading business as an example. They follow principles of transparent pricing, guarantees for sold items, and guaranteed buy-backs for anything they sell.

And perhaps consider staying away from eBay.

“I can tell a counterfeit a mile away,” Dana says. eBay can be sketchy … and it’s harder for amateurs to tell real from fake. To be extra safe, stick with established, hard-to-counterfeit products like bullion coins.

Investors also need to think about storage. “Gold is pretty compact. It doesn’t take up a ton of space,” Dana notes. Silver, on the other hand, is bulkier.

Some banks are writing coins out of safe-deposit box charters. So you have a few options for storage …

  • Find a bank that offers storage options for coins and bullion
  • Get a secure home safe
  • Go with a storage company … new storage options around the country are a great option for those dealing with a high volume of precious metals

Also consider that there may be reporting requirements when you move money in and out of the country, due to the Patriot Act.

“The most important thing is to think about what you’re trying to do and find a dealer to help you walk through your options” for purchasing, storage, and selling the asset in the future, Dana says.

“Use common sense.” After all, Dana points out, “You’re your own best doctor.”

A final note for those still dubious about precious metals.

We know it might not seem immediately logical to take your equity … and then just put it away in gold and let it sit. There’s no cashflow, there are no tax benefits … so why do it?

A few big reasons. Putting your equity in precious metals allows you to …

  • Invest outside of the traditional banking system
  • Get away from inherent risk and keep your equity stable
  • Diversify your equity in terms of currency types
  • Parks your equity until you need it in a low-risk currency form

To learn more, check out Dana’s report on investing in precious metals.

Now, go out and make some equity happen!


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


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Seven lessons for better investing …

With less than 7 weeks remaining in 2018, we’re taking a short break from our obsessive-compulsive perusal of the financial news.

Because with an exciting New Year about to begin … full of hope, challenges, and opportunities … it’s a great time to focus on some important fundamentals.

Lesson# 1:  Invest in yourself first and frequently

Think of the amount of money you put into fixing up a property in the hopes of generating a few thousand dollars of profit or cash flow.

How much MORE important are YOUR education, skills, and network over the rest of your career?

For a fraction of what you’ll spend sprucing up just a single property, you can increase your sales skills, gain more strategic clarity, expand your economic education, and grow your professional network.

Any ONE of those things can pay you back 10x or more in just a few years.  Plus, investing in your education and networks sets you up for …

Lesson #2:  Focus on relationships, not transactions

Sure, we understand you need to do deals … to produce profits … so you can pay the bills and keep investing.  But transactions are really just a by-product of great relationships.

When you put the transaction over the relationship, you risk killing the goose that lays the golden eggs.

And remember, every person you know knows MANY more people you don’t.

So even if the person in front of you isn’t ready to do a deal today, someone they know might be.

This is where YOUR education and network come into play …

When you know things other people don’t, but need to … or when you know people other people don’t, but need to …

… YOU have something of great value to enhance a relationship or work through one contact to reach another.

Most people won’t give you a referral if they think you want to sell their referral something.

But they’ll happily connect you if they think you will HELP their referral.  That’s based on trust, which is based on the relationship.

It sounds so easy … and it is.  But for some reason, most people focus on the small value of the transaction and miss the HUGE value of the relationship.

Lesson #3:  Emphasize mission and values

The old adage says, “People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.”

It’s true.  But it goes further …

People do business with people and brands they trust.  And when you focus on mission and values, and filter all you say and do through them …

… over time, you’ll create a trustworthy reputation.

Of course, a good, trustworthy reputation will attract more people into your life … and that means more relationships, and ultimately, more deals.

Lesson #4:  Build a business and portfolio that works for YOU … and not vice-versa

We’re old enough to remember when Michael Gerber’s now classic title, The E-Myth, was the hot new business book.

But the timeless lessons are as applicable today as ever.

Too many people … employees, entrepreneurs, and investors … do the “two-step.”

They set out to do whatever they can find to make money based on the belief that if they can just make enough money, THEN they can go do what they REALLY want.

The problem is when you don’t love what you do, either you let off the gas and never really succeed …

… or worse, you lose yourself in service to a business, portfolio and lifestyle you don’t really enjoy.

And then you just hold your breath until the day you can sell it or retire on your investments.

Better to ask yourself EARLY what’s really important to you … how you want to live … what you love to do … and then build a business and/or portfolio around THAT.

It’s a harder problem to solve, but you’ll LOVE the answer when you find it.

Lesson #5:  Develop and maintain a clear vision

We all run around with pictures in our mind. How we see the world … how we see ourselves … what we’re working to accomplish.

The challenge for many is the picture is fuzzy.

It’s like driving in the fog.  You have a sense of direction … but aren’t exactly sure how to get there.

You’re feeling your way … scared to go too fast and miss a turn or fall into a ditch.

Yet some people are taking bold action and moving aggressively through life.

What’s the difference?

Clarity.

Bold action takers can “see” exactly where they’re going, what they’re building, and WHY … and that vision inspires and emboldens them to move towards the goals with enthusiasm and confidence.

We say, “When you have clarity of vision, strategy and tactics become evident.”

So when you’re not sure what to do, focus on your vision.  Just seeing the end from the beginning is often enough to tell you what to do next.

Lesson #6:  Always see the downside

Really?  Doesn’t focusing on the negative create paralysis?

Only for amateurs.  Pros are more afraid of what they DON’T see than what they do … because you can’t avoid or manage risks you aren’t aware of.

Billionaire real estate investor Sam Zell says everyone sees the upside.  That’s what they look for and what motivates them to go for it.

But Zell says his success comes from being able to see the DOWNSIDE too …  and then making plans to mitigate it … even if it means walking away.

Pessimists ONLY see the downside and can’t act.  Optimists only see the upside and hope for the best.

We’re pretty sure hope is not an investment strategy. Be a realist and get good at seeing and managing risk.

Lesson #7:  Always pay attention to cash and cash flow

Profit and net worth are important.   Cash and cash flow are essential.

A business mentor of ours once taught us that cash is like oxygen, while revenue is like water, and profit is like food.

You can survive for a long time without profit … if you have revenue and cash.

You can survive for a little while without revenue … if you have cash.

But run out of cash … and you’ll be dead very soon.

Pre-politician Donald Trump once told us it’s always good to have cash in the downtimes. We say, “Cash Flow controls and Cash Reserves preserve.”

So have some liquidity at all times. Write off the lost opportunity cost on the cash as an insurance premium.

And do NOT count on credit for liquidity. We did that once … and it didn’t end well.  Lenders tend to cut off credit when you need it the most.

Bonus Lesson:  Use firewalls to avoid portfolio contagion

Let’s face it.  Some investments are more risky than others.

But if you don’t have firewalls, then just ONE risky investment can implode your entire portfolio.

You might have a solidly built, cash-flowing portfolio of properties, and a high net worth with good liquidity, and hedges against inflation and deflation.

But just ONE lawsuit, or personal loan guarantee on just ONE risky deal, or pulling money out of performing property or business to feed a loser …

… and EVERYTHING goes … UNLESS you use legal structures, mental discipline, and emotional control to isolate risk.

It’s a bigger topic than we have time for here, but we address it in ourIntroduction to Strategic Real Asset Investing webinar.

You can get the webinar as a free bonus when you order the Future of Money and Wealth video series … which is a great primer on several risks ALL investors should be paying attention to right now.

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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Why Apartments Now

Why Apartments Now

 

When it comes to investing in apartments, there’s no time like the present! Learn how to earn more and pay less from apartment king, Brad Sumrok.

There’s a reason we call Brad Sumrok the apartment king.  Over the last 16 years, Brad has owned over 4,000 apartments in seven different states!

He was named the Independent Rental Owner of the Year in 2012 from the prestigious National Apartment Association, and he has made MILLIONS by investing in apartments.

Brad believes investing in apartments is the best way to become financially independent … and he’s on a mission to share his most valuable lessons with you.

Watch his video presentation to learn…

  • Why apartments are a smart investment RIGHT NOW
  • Proven principles for apartment investing
  • How to use depreciation to save money
  • And more!

Follow in Brad’s footsteps to get out of the corporate rat race and earn some serious cheese.

Simply fill out the form below to access Brad’s presentation … Why Apartments Now

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!

Opportunity Zones – Reduce Taxes by Investing in Main Street

It’s easy to figure out where tax incentives lie in wait. Just study the tax code.

The latest version of the tax code introduces a new tax shelter … opportunity zones. But … what are opportunity zones?

In this episode of The Real Estate Guys™ show, we dive into what we know about opportunity zones … including three MAJOR benefits.

You’ll hear from:

  • Your opportunistic host, Robert Helms
  • His inopportune co-host, Russell Gray

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Opportunity zones: The basics

There’s a way to pay no tax on certain investments AND heal struggling communities. We’re talking about opportunity zones.

These new geographic tax shelters are encoded in the version of the tax code passed in 2017 … but they’re not totally finalized yet.

That doesn’t mean they’re not important … savvy investors will be absorbing all the info they can BEFORE opportunity zones go into action.

The idea of opportunity zones is to offer a tax-favored investment vehicle for people who already have capital gains in other investments.

Opportunity zones will be located in low-income communities ripe for revitalization … and will be located in every state in the U.S.

The fundamental purpose of opportunity zones is to encourage long-term investments in struggling communities.

Congress has established an incentive framework that is flexible and unique. This is essentially a new class of investment.

These opportunity zones complement existing community development plans. In essence, the project is treating the U.S. like a giant rehab project.

You’ll basically be moving yourself into a pre-identified path of progress. There hasn’t been a ton of incentive for investors to come into these run-down, lower income areas. But NOW there is.

The benefits of opportunity zones

Like we said earlier, the idea of opportunity zones is set, but the legislation is not in action yet. The appropriate documentation and legislation will be in place by the end of 2018.

So NOW is your time to prepare for the future.

There are definite differences between this opportunity and other investments. Generally, you’re required to pay tax when you liquidate capital gains.

But investing in opportunity zones provides three unique tax benefits. Before we get into those, we do want to clarify … this investment is only available for investors who already have capital gains from previous investors.

But not to worry … if you’re a newer investor who doesn’t have any capital gains yet, there are ways to get in on the action. We’ll get into those in the next section.

Now, the three tax benefits …

  1. You can defer your original capital gains tax for up to 10 years. As you probably know, it’s always better to defer taxes than to pay now.
  2. You also get a 10 to 15 percent discount on your original capital gains tax.
  3. AND …when appreciated capital gains are put into an opportunity zone investment, the gains you make from that investment are completely tax free.

There is a timeline. You have to sell the appreciated assets and invest the capital gains into one or more opportunity zone investments within 180 days.

But we want to emphasize … your capital gains from properties in opportunity zone areas will be completely TAX FREE.

No capital gains? How to invest in opportunity zones

The government has a goal here … they want to bring a ton of investment capital to certain areas and swing them around.

In that vein, there is a certain requirement you have to follow to invest in opportunity zones … there is NO tax incentive if you own property in an opportunity zone under your own name.

You have to invest in opportunity zones through opportunity funds.

If you don’t have appreciated assets, you may be wondering how you can start an opportunity fund and get in on this great opportunity.

There are a few options …

  1. Invest in an area near an opportunity zone. You’ll be boosted up by the wave of capital increasing asset values all around you.
  2. Invest as a syndicator. Set up an opportunity fund … and get other investors to contribute their capital gains.

This last point is something to seriously consider … especially when you start thinking about the stock market.

The stock market is hot, but it’s showing signs of faltering. People want to take their capital gains out … but they don’t want to pay taxes.

A fantastic solution? Opportunity funds.

All about opportunity funds

What does it take to put together an opportunity fund?

Opportunity funds do not have investment limitations.

They must be organized as a corporation or a partnership.

They do not require official IRS approval … the fund manager can self-certify the fund simply by submitting a form to the IRS.

The process is designed for speed. It cuts out bureaucracy … and brings locally driven change to areas that need it.

But it also requires investors to make REAL change … for example, one requirement we expect to see is that investors put as much into rehab and construction as they spent to acquire the property.

Opportunity zones mean sending money to the bottom of the market … and making the subsequent changes LAST for the long term.

For a map of tagged and categorized opportunity zones, plus more information, simply send us an email at opportunityzones [at] realestateguysradio [dot] com.

And don’t think this is the last you’ll hear about opportunity zones … we expect this to be a BIG wave in the real estate investing sea, and we’ll be providing more information to our listeners as this new opportunity develops.


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!

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