Bitcoin, gold, oil, stocks, real estate, and popcorn …

It’s hard to watch the financial news these days and not get the feeling the fragility in the financial system we’ve been concerned about … is starting to show.

We grew up in California and learned as kids how to react to an earthquake …

Get away from glass and hide under the shelter of a desk or doorway … because stuff was probably going to start falling.

Fragile things shatter in an earthquake.  They can’t handle the pressure.  The key to safety is to get to the sturdiest parts of the structure until the shaking subsides.

Of course, when it’s clear and bright … the windows are the most fun.  You can bask in the sunshine of hope and opportunity.

But when the foundation is shaking, it’s time to find shelter … FAST.

You’ve probably noticed stock prices slipping.  Even the fabled FAANGs (Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix, Google) are ALL now in bear markets.

So what?  After all, we’re real estate investors.  What do we care about stocks?

We don’t.  At least not directly.  But all these markets are like gauges on our financial dashboard … and when they start flashing red, it’s wise to investigate.

This is a newsletter, not a seminar, but let’s see what we can reason together in the next few minutes about what’s shaking in the financial world … and where it might be headed.

The first place to look is the most important financial market there is … bonds.

Of course, real estate investors should watch the bond market for clues about the direction of interest rates.

But while interest rates are interesting … credit markets are what REALLY matter.

That’s because credit markets both create and price the currency which fuels everything else. 

Credit markets are like the big reactor core in the Star Wars Debt Death Star.  They’re both the fuel source and the weak spot at the same time.

To take the metaphor a conspiratorial step further … credit markets are also the source of the Emperor’s power.

And as Peter Schiff persistently points out … when the original Debt Star blew up in 2008, the Emperor wasted no time in building a bigger, deadlier version.

The obvious implication is the next explosion could be a LOT bigger.

Now in a plain vanilla stock market dip, some (usually innocuous) event spooks highly-leveraged paper traders.  They sprint to the exits … and stock prices fall.

But then they calm down and the next day they’re back out there snapping up bargains.  This “buy-the-dip” strategy has been the name of the game for several years.

But the longer-term downtrend suggests something is different this time.  Perhaps worries the Debt Star is running out of power?

The Bitcoin crowd has been chanting “buy the dip” also … but here too, it seems the Farce is strong … and the downtrend has more gravitational pull than past dips.

Clearly, nervous stock investors aren’t piling into Bitcoin for safety.

Of course, the usual safe space for snowflake stock investors to hide is bonds.

But if gobs of money were pouring into bonds … interest rates would be falling.

While rates have certainly moderated the last few weeks from their upward trend, it’s hardly a serious decline.

So … nothing happening now has us disagreeing with our recent conversation with David Stockman on the direction of rates.

And we certainly would NOT be using short-term debt on tight-cap properties hoping to re-fi to lower rates in a year or two!  If that’s your plan … be careful.

Then there’s oil.  You’ve probably heard the price has fallen.  We’re guessing your tenants like it at the pump.  Businesses too.

Obviously, energy costs … just like interest and taxes … RAISE the costs of operating a business, a household, and an economy.

President Trump’s a business guy.  So to no surprise he prefers ALL three lower … so more profit gets to the bottom line.

But oil … like gold … is MUCH more than just a commodity. 

Both have significant connections to the future of the U.S. dollar … and all three are powerful tools in geo-politics.

Just last year, we pointed out China’s noteworthy moves with both oil and gold.

And just because things are moving slowly, doesn’t mean they aren’t moving.

All that to say … we’ve been paying close attention to this for several years … and it seems to us things are picking up speed.

We keep them on our radar … and yours … for TWO reasons …

First … major financial events often seem to show up suddenly and shock the world … but they usually had a long and obvious (in hindsight) build up.

We’ve learned to look further out so we have more time to re-position.  After all, the blessing and curse of real estate is it moves slowly.

So real estate investors are wise to pay attention to early warning indicators … and then rearrange portfolios to both mitigate risk and capture opportunities.

Second … when economic and financial earthquakes first tremble … it’s smart to seek shelter under sturdy structures.

For that reason, we think it’s likely to see MORE money moving into real estate in search of stability (and tax breaks).

But just because real estate is stable doesn’t mean YOUR portfolio is.

As we learned in 2008, bad portfolio structure crumbles when hit with tremors from a Debt Star explosion.

However, when those market forces clean out weak portfolios, there are bargains galore … for those who are ready, willing, and able to take advantage.

Ironically, consumers are tapping home equity like it’s 2007.  We’re guessing holiday shopping will be solid.  But it won’t make those borrowers wealthier.

Savvy investors are grabbing equity too … and using it both to purchase strong cash flows … and to hold in reserve.

It’s always good to have some cash if market tides turn.

YOUR mission is to be among the aware and prepared … and NOT among the unaware and unprepared.  It could be a good time to increase liquidity.

Are we saying another crash is coming?  No.  But we can’t say it’s not.

Right now, there are tremors.

So while you’re thinking about your goals for next year … including how to invest your educational time and money …

… we encourage you to make getting better educated, better connected, and better structured a top priority … so IF things turn quickly …

… YOU can sit safely inside your reinforced portfolio chomping on popcorn and watching the fireworks.

And if the fireworks turn out to be a dud … you’re really no worse off for being prepared.

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!

Think like a big dog …

Whether you’re an active real estate investor out there finding and managing deals in your own account …

… or you’re a passive investor looking to invest in someone else’s deals …

… or you’re a syndicator putting together deals on behalf of your passive investors …

… it can be smart to think like a big dog.

After all, major players have big research and due diligence budgets.  They hire big brains to study the market and make smart strategic decisions.

YOU can learn a LOT … just by watching what they’re doing.

Sometimes you can get in front of a big wave they’re about to create and ride it.

And sometimes you can front run them … buying what they want BEFORE they get there … selling to them at a premium when they arrive.

(We think there could be a particularly good opportunity to get in position to do this in the residential assisted living space right now.)

So even though you can’t play at their level, you can still get in the game by paying attention and being more nimble.

For example, this headline caught our attention …

Apollo is Targeting $1 Billion for U.S. Real Estate Fund Bloomberg 11/20/18

Apollo Global Management LLC has started talking to investors about its third U.S. real estate fund …

Hmmmm … $ 1 billion is a chunk of change.  And apparently it’s not their first rodeo.

In fact, Apollo has been around since 1990 and has over $270 billion under management.

Not that we’re promoting or vouching for them.  We’re just saying it seems like they’re qualified to have an opinion about investing.

So back to the article …

“Investment will be in senior housing, hotels, retail”

A little deeper down we discover … in addition to these three … Apollo is also into industrial real estate and manufactured housing.

Of course, this doesn’t come as a big surprise to us or our long-time followers.

We’ve been paying attention to sub-niches in senior housinghotelsretail,industrial and manufactured housing for quite some time.

But even though it’s affirming to have a big dog like Apollo see what we see … it’s not like we’re geniuses.

The clues in the news, trends, data, and our discussions with our boots-on-the-ground contributors make it easy to see the opportunities.

Of course, seeing the opportunity and knowing someone in the space … is just the beginning.

It’s also important to think about your personal investment philosophy … build great relationships with a solid team … and structure things to endure in both good times and bad.

Recently, the wild ride in the stock market is reminding 401k owners how fickle paper equity can be.

It’s no surprise smart fund managers are looking to real estate as a way to find high risk-adjusted returns … and stability in a volatile world.

Right now, we’re watching Wall Street investors race each other to the exits … leaving a flood of red in their wake.

And while history doesn’t necessarily repeat itself, it often rhymes.

Remember, after the dotcom bust at the turn of the century … frightened capital found a safe haven in real estate.  It just might be happening again.

For those already there, it could make for a fun ride.

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!

Working with Real Estate Agents Who Understand Investment Property

The world is full of real estate agents and brokers eager to do a deal … but only a small handful of those agents are qualified to service your unique needs.

The best partnerships between agents and investors create mutual success. How do you find an agent that works FOR you and WITH you?

In this episode of The Real Estate Guys™ show, we chat with Bob Helms, the Godfather of Real Estate. His experience as both an investor and a broker spans decades … and he knows how valuable relationships between professionals are to successful deals.

You’ll hear from:

  • Your play-maker host, Robert Helms
  • His playful co-host, Russell Gray
  • Bob Helms, the Godfather of Real Estate

Listen

 


Subscribe

Broadcasting since 1997 with over 300 episodes on iTunes!

real estate podcast on itunesSubscribe on Androidyoutube_subscribe_button__2014__by_just_browsiing-d7qkda4

 

 


Review

When you give us a positive review on iTunes you help us continue to bring you high caliber guests and attract new listeners. It’s easy and takes just a minute! (Don’t know how? Follow these instructions).

Thanks!


This is a relationship business

One of the most critical relationships you have as an investor is with your real estate professional.

Whether you’re working with an agent or a broker … and we’ll use the terms interchangeably … the partnership you have with the individual legally representing you in a deal is vital to your success.

We call Bob Helms the Godfather of Real Estate … and for good reason. Bob has spent decades actively brokering properties, teaching and managing agents, and investing in deals himself.

“This is a relationship business,” Bob says. And it’s absolutely true.

Your agent isn’t your enemy. The very best deals we’ve ever been involved in have been with real estate professionals who know their stuff.

When it comes to real estate brokerage, it’s about cooperation … not competition.

“It’s urgently important that you not practice business by trying to take advantage of the person on the other side of the transaction,” Bob says.

Both sides have to win

So many investors think they have to squeeze every last dime that they can out of a deal in order to call it a win. They think they have to get the upper hand to be the winner … which means the buyer or seller is the loser.

The best transactions are when a deal closes and everyone in the room gives each other a high five.

Those are the deals you want to do again. And real estate investment is a long-term game.

Unlike the typical homeowner … who moves every four to seven years to a different marketplace … investors do multiple transactions over time in the same market. And you do more business more often.

There’s a good chance you will do additional deals with these same people, so your attitude is important, Bob says.

If you’re the guy who is trying to exploit the other guy, no one will want to work with you again.

Remember, it’s about relationships. There IS a better way!

Working well with your agent

How do you work with an agent or broker to get the best deals at the right prices?

The first thing to keep in mind is loyalty.

You might think it’s a good idea to have several agents working for you in a single marketplace. But more often than not, this competition doesn’t work in your favor.

If an agent knows you have other agents working for you too, they are less likely to invest time in finding you the best deals.

On the other hand, if an agent knows you are invested in a long-term relationship with them, they’ll work hard to impress you and keep you around.

Exhibit loyalty to your agent, and they’ll be loyal to you.

Find the best agent you can, and set up a meeting. If they are at the top of their market, they probably already have a full portfolio of clients.

Show the agent you are worth their attention. Be able to articulate why you are qualified, why you are serious about making things happen, and how you can add value to their business.

Can’t get an appointment? Try taking the agent to lunch. Everybody has to eat!

You may have to start with a “C” agent and work your way up to an “A” agent … and that’s ok.

Even if your agent of choice isn’t ready to take you on, take advantage of their experience.

“Say, ‘I want to be your best client in five years. If you were me and starting over today, what would you do? What do you wish your current clients knew?’” Bob says.

Show you’re there for the long haul, and start building a relationship.

Why agents should work with investors

The majority of real estate agents sell houses to people who want to live in them. But the investment property niche can be very profitable.

So, if you are reading this from the perspective of a real estate agent, here are four big reasons to get involved with investors …

  1. Do more transactions. Investors purchase properties in the same market again and again.
  2. Get more referrals. Investors tend to work in multiple marketplaces. They rely on a network of agents to help them. You can pass clients to other agents and have clients passed on to you. That saves you money you would have spent tracking down new buyers and sellers.
  3. Earn bigger commissions. Investors graduate to bigger and bigger properties over time. That means bigger and bigger commissions for agents.
  4. Become an investor yourself. Be your own best client. Learn from the investors you work with. Make a living selling to other people and get success by buying yourself.

Keep brokering real estate deals, but invest your money into deals of your own.

Investors love working with agents who invest too. That means the agent knows the rules of the game, and will bring investors the deals they can’t do … but would do … themselves.

Most real estate agents don’t work with investors because they don’t know how.

Bob Helms’ new book Be in the Top 1%: A Real Estate Agent’s Guide to Getting Rich in the Investment Property Niche is a great resource for getting started.

The book is aimed at agents, but investors can benefit from its lessons too … because by working together, agents and investors can form long-term relationships destined for success.


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!

Passive Income Investing – Equity Versus Debt

Real estate prices and interest rates are rising. Cap rates are compressing. As a result, some investors are switching from equity investing to debt investing.

So in this episode, we’ll take a deep dive into the world of debt investing.

Equity investing is a way to capture growth and get capital gain. Debt investing, on the other hand, means loaning money to other investors as a way to generate income.

There are great reasons for both strategies. As we like to say, “Different investment philosophies for different folks.”

But in times of financial uncertainty, debt investing can be a way to reduce risk and generate predictable incomes.

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

  • Your pro-debt host, Robert Helms
  • His indebted co-host, Russell Gray
  • Managing partner at American Real Estate Investments, John Larson

Listen

 


Subscribe

Broadcasting since 1997 with over 300 episodes on iTunes!

real estate podcast on itunesSubscribe on Androidyoutube_subscribe_button__2014__by_just_browsiing-d7qkda4

 

 


Review

When you give us a positive review on iTunes you help us continue to bring you high caliber guests and attract new listeners. It’s easy and takes just a minute! (Don’t know how? Follow these instructions).

Thanks!


A new option for investors in tight markets

John Larson is a turn-key provider at American Real Estate Investments (AREI) in Dallas, Texas. He’s worked in Dallas and other markets for many years … but now he’s seeing something new happening in Dallas.

Prices and interest rates are now higher than they were in 2006. The cap rate is compressing, and as a result, cashflow is decreasing.

And rents are starting to plateau, which puts investors in a bind. Larson says this isn’t enough for him to start moving into C and D class neighborhoods … cash flow on paper doesn’t mean easy cash flow in reality.

Instead, he’s come up with a different option … syndicated money lending.

John manages the development opportunities … investors just have to put in the capital. In return, they get a fixed, passive income stream each month.

“It’s a way to play a strong market AND get cash flow,” John says.

How debt-investing works

Which is safer … equity or debt?

In terms of rate of return, the debt investing model allows investors to get a specific, predictable rate of return.

John uses a trust deed model, where lenders get deeded the trust to the property … but in this case, there are multiple lenders.

For each deal, John raises 2 to 3 million from a group of 25 to 35 lenders.

Investors get double-digit fixed returns … 10.5 percent of the amount they’ve invested, paid out over 15 months or until the loan is complete.

Usually John’s loan deals last from 18 to 36 months. And John pays out returns on a consistent monthly basis.

It’s private lending, redefined.

John calls the solution a “win-win” for both AREI and the lender groups. Lenders get great returns … and John gets funding for many different types of development opportunities.

More nitty-gritty details about private lending

When you go into a debt-lending deal, there are two important questions you NEED to ask yourself before you say “yes” …

  1. How will the borrower pay me back?
  2. What happens if they don’t?

Typically, debt syndicators will use money from private loans to rehabilitate or develop a property. Once construction is complete, lenders get their principle PLUS proceeds back.

Debt investing is a lot different from the traditional equity route … and investors need to get their heads around that.

Do investors need to be syndicated? At AREI, the answer is NO.

Most of John’s investors are not accredited, because loans are not securities.

But often, private lending requires a minimum principle amount. John says his investors come in at around $100,000 on average, and the minimum is about $50,000.

Passive investing pros

We mentioned John works in the Dallas-Fort Worth area … but we didn’t mention WHY. Dallas-Fort Worth is top-10 metropolitan statistical area … and it hits all the right notes.

“I feel safe about this market,” John says. He notes that data shows continued demand in the area, along with multiple companies in a variety of industries. The population is expected to continue increasing in future years.

But investors DON’T have to be located in Dallas or even Texas to take advantage of John’s debt-investing program. That’s the great thing about passive investing.

For more from John, check out his podcast, The Real Estate Cowboys … which is all about how you can capitalize on passive income investing.

And listen in to this show to get access to a special report from John with more information about passive private lending opportunities.

Capitalize on a bull market

When people think about real estate investing, they usually dream about owning a ton of properties.

But debt investing is a way to expand your portfolio and bring in monthly cashflow … without having to manage a physical property.

It’s also a way to capitalize on a tight market.

With property investments, cash flow changes as rents, and rates, rise and fall. Cash flow from debt, on the other hand, is more stable.

And lending money in a hot market is a great way to help investors get around rising interest rates … while taking in great returns, yourself.

Just like equity investing, debt investing can be done many ways. You can make small loans and be more hands-on … or you can work with someone like John and be totally passive.

Regardless of the option you choose, you’ve got to look at what the market is giving you. Right now, it’s giving you rising interest rates for the first time in decades … but that doesn’t mean there aren’t great investment opportunities if you look closely.


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!

Finding profits under the radar …

You’ve probably heard the popular adage, “Get rich in a niche!

But what does that really mean?  And how do you do it?

The premise is when you work or invest in something with a high barrier to entry, or that few strong players know about, you face less competition and can therefore enjoy better profits.

Makes sense.

The challenge is finding and mastering the niche.  And common sense says a profitable niche doesn’t stay secret for long.  So when you find one, it’s wise tomove quickly and capitalize ahead of the crowd.

Of course, all that sounds good on the chalkboard.  But how do you make it work in the real world?

We look for clues in the news … and this headline caught our attention …

Sovereign Wealth Funds, Private Equity Step Up MOB Acquisitions

For the unfamiliar, MOB stands for Medical Office Building.

Obviously, MOB is a niche, and sovereign funds and private equity are BIG players … with big research budgets and smart analysts.

So watching what big players are doing is one way to identify a hot niche.  Then you look for a niche within a niche where Main Street investors can play.

But first, let’s look at why the big boys like MOB …

“ … increasingly view medical office space as a core property type with strong fundamentals.

“ … demand for space continues to grow amid an aging population in need of more medical services …”

 “This particular sector of commercial real estate benefits from one of the largest and fastest-growing components of the U.S. economy: healthcare … ”

That “aging population” they’re referring to are the baby-boomers.  This huge demographic wave is sometimes called “the silver tsunami” because of its economic size and impact.

It’s something we’ve been following closely … including which industries and geographies stand to benefit.

But if the big boys are already in the space, is it too late?  Or is there still opportunity for Main Street investors?

We think there is.  And clues in the article support the thesis …

“ … risks facing medical office investors …  tenants are increasingly facing reimbursement pressures from insurers and government payors such as Medicare and Medicaid … ” 

“…  medical office facilities do not offer tenant diversification … tenants are exposed to the healthcare sector, unlike conventional office buildings …”

 “ … a shift of providing high-quality care … [in] alternative settings …” 

So let’s consider how these clues might fit together to spell opportunity …

First, it’s not MOBs that big money is excited about.  It’s the demographic and industry that the properties support.  It’s about elderly people and healthcare.

The properties are actually a problem because they’re specialty use.  A medical building is typically only suited to medical uses.  That can be risky.

So, even though medical buildings appear strong for the long haul, it’s still a one-trick pony.  If the sector cools, you’re trapped in a property that’s not of much use for anything else.  Yikes.

Next, the tenants of MOBs are healthcare providers whose income is largely derived from insurance and government reimbursements, which are facing downward pricing pressure.

Savvy landlords always look past the tenant to the tenant’s ultimate source of income.

In this case, “commodity” healthcare providers are getting squeezed by stingy insurance companies and social services.  Not good.

Lastly, the article reports a “shifting preference” by tenants (healthcare providers) towards “providing high quality care [in] alternative settings …”

Now THIS is interesting!

It seems those providers being squeezed are moving towards sub-niches where there’s more profit.

In fact, people we know in healthcare say a popular strategy for combating the declining margins of “commodity” healthcare …

(commodity healthcare are the kinds of services major insurers and government programs aim their cost-cutting strategies on)

… is to focus on boutique services for affluent clients who pay by cash or through private insurance.

That’s a clue.

How can Main Street real estate investors play?

Since we’ve already identified the demographic (boomers) and economic sector (healthcare), let’s focus on the property.  After all, we’re real estate guys.

We’re looking for a property well-suited to a boutique healthcare for an affluent, self-paying, or privately insured sub-demographic.

Of course, Main Street real estate investors aren’t healthcare professionals.

So we either need to find tenants who are, or find a simple healthcare service we can deliver through readily out-sourced operators.

And we’ll need to pick a property type that works well for the healthcare service … but also other things, so we don’t get trapped in a single-purpose property.

Sounds like a tall order …

Or maybe the answer is right in front of you … or next door … or down the street.

Single-family homes!

But not just ANY single-family homes … residential assisted living homes.

This is an exciting sub-niche of the healthcare real estate niche that checks a lot of boxes …

First, your tenants are the parents of boomers (today) … and will soon be the boomers themselves.  That’s a substantial long-term pipeline of tenants.

Plus, boomers are the most affluent demographic right now … and paying for Mom or Dad’s care is a TOP budgetary priority.

It’s always good to be at the front of the line for getting paid.

Also, care fees (rent) are often paid out of a combination of the parents’ estate, private long-term care insurance policies, or incomes and assets of the adult children.

So when you’re in what our residential assisted living guru Gene Guarino calls “the sweet spot” … you’re not dependent on government reimbursements.

Residential assisted living homes are boutique, high-quality, “alternative setting” healthcare … which, as the article points out, is the trend.

Another investing adage is, The trend is your friend.

Check.

Next, residential assisted living homes are NOT big, single-purpose commercial buildings well-suited only for use as a medical facility.

Residential assisted living homes are operated in single-family houses located in regular residential neighborhoods.

No special zoning.  No commercial location.

So if for some reason the bottom falls out of the sector … the home can be rented to a residential occupant (albeit at a much lesser rent), or simply sold on the open market to an owner-occupant.

In other words, you’ve got multiple exit strategies.  You aren’t trapped by your niche.  This mitigates one of the major risks the big boys fear.

Check.

But perhaps one of the greatest advantages in the sub-niche of residential assisted living homes is the ability to QUICKLY right-size to changing market conditions.

Big-box commercial properties are all-or-nothing propositions.  That’s another worry for the big guys.

When you have a 120-bed medical facility and profits get squeezed or things slow down, you still have 120-bed facility … and all the fixed costs which come along with it.

There’s no throttling capacity up or down based on demand.

But when you own ten 12-bed homes and things pick up a little … you simply add one more home to your collection and increase capacity to 132 beds.

Compared to a big-box, the properties are easy to find, set up, and get optimized.  You can catch an “up” wave sooner and ride longer.

Even better, if things slow down, you simply consolidate your residents into fewer homes … and sell or rent out the excess properties individually.

Again, there a multiple exit-strategies, and when it comes to real estate, single-family homes are arguably the most liquid.  A big-box?  Not so much.

This is HUGE in terms of maintaining profit margins … even in a declining market.

Think about it …

A big-box can’t cut facility overhead.  They either own the whole property or they don’t.  It’s all or nothing.

So the only way preserve margins when occupancy is down is to cut back on staffing, care, and amenities.  Not good for the resident under care, nor the staff or brand.

Meanwhile, the residential assisted living home operator has an advantage …

While the big-box cuts services, the more nimble RAL operator can right-size and maintain or even improve services … and attract an unfair share of residents in a competitive market.

Big check.  And who doesn’t like big checks?

But whether or not residential assisted living is for you … (though it probably will be some day … we all get old) …

… there are still great lessons to glean about strategic sub-niche investing to find profits under the radar (at least temporarily) of the big players.

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!

Don’t get lost in the lag …

Investors and economists often talk about cycles … business cycles, credit cycles, even news and legislative cycles.

Cycles are the ebb and flow of causes and effects sloshing around in the economic sea we all swim in.  They’re big picture stuff.

For nose-to-the-grindstone Main Street real estate investors, cycles are barely interesting, seemingly irrelevant, and mostly boring.

But a danger for Main Streeters is not seeing something dangerous developing on the horizon.  Another danger is getting lost in the lag.

The lag is the gap between when a “cause” happens and when the “effect” shows up.

For example, in a typical supply-and-demand cycle, a shortage of homes could cause prices to spike.    The effect of the supply-demand imbalance is higher prices, which in turn becomes a new cause.

Rising prices causes builders to increase production … and existing property owners to put their homes on the market … thereby increasing supply.

As supply grows, price escalation slows. If supply overshoots demand, prices might actually fall.  If you’re structured for only rising prices, you might have a problem.

Of course, there are other factors affecting pricing such as interest rates, wage growth, taxes, labor and material costs, availability of developable land, and on and on.

But our point is … an amateur investor often doesn’t see the cause for price escalation (or anything else) until the effect happens.

Once prices rise, they jump in to ride the wave … believing prices will go up tomorrow because they went up yesterday …  and their speculation only adds to the demand and fuels the fire.

At least for a while …

What’s often overlooked is the production pipeline … until the supply shows up and softens pricing.  Near-sighted investors often get lost in the lag.  They’re not sure where they are in the cycle.

It’s what happened to “GO Zone” investors after Katrina and Bakken investors during the shale boom.

Folks bought in during a boom, not considering the “production lag” … and didn’t structure for a slowdown.  When it happened, they didn’t have a Plan B.

It’s a simple example … and before 2008, that was about as deep as our analysis ran.

But the pain of 2008 opened our eyes … and 10 years later they’re still as wide open as we can keep them … because we know there are cycles as sure as the sun comes up.

That knowledge isn’t bad.  In fact, it’s good.  Because when you see the bigger picture, you also see more opportunity.

So we study history for lessons … current events for clues … and we talk with experts for different perspectives.

It sounds complicated … and maybe it is a little … but it’s like the old kids’ game, Mousetrap.

There’s a lot of fancy machinery hanging over our heads …and it’s just a series of causes and effects.  “A” triggers “B” triggers “C” and so on … until it’s in our faces.

But even at the street level with our nose on the cheese, if we watch the machinery, we can see events unfold and still have time to react appropriately.

So let’s go past a simple supply-and-demand example.

Back in 1999, Uncle Sam decided to “help” wannabe homebuyers get Fannie Mae loans … so the government lowered lending standards and pushed more funds into housing.  It seemed like a nice thing to do.

But at the time, observers cautioned it could lead to financial problems at Fannie Mae … even to the point of failure.  It took nine years (lag) … but that’s exactly what happened.  Fannie Mae eventually failed and needed a bailout.

But before things crashed, it BOOMED … and people made fortunes. We remember those days well.  It was AWESOME … until it wasn’t.

Folks were profitably playing in the housing jumphouse from the time the easy money air pump switched on until the circuit blew.  Lags can be a lot of fun.

Because few understood why the party started and why it might end … most thought the good times would roll forever.  So they were only structured for sunshine.

Oops.

People who urged caution at the height of fun … like Peter Schiff and Robert Kiyosaki … were derided as party-poopers.

Of course, they both did well through the crisis because even in the boom they were aware of the lag and the possibility of a downturn … and were structured accordingly.  Smart.

Now, let’s go beyond supply, demand, and mortgages … and look even further up the machinery …

In late 2000, Congress passed the Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000.

Doesn’t sound like it has anything to do with real estate … BUT …

This was the birthplace of unregulated derivatives … like those infamous credit default swaps no one in real estate ever heard of …

… until they destroyed Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers in 2008, while bringing AIG to the brink of bankruptcy, and nearly crashing the financial system.

This mess got ALL over real estate investors in a big and painful way … even though there was an 8 year lag before it showed up.

Remember, for those 8 years a lot of the money created through derivatives made its way into mortgages and real estate … adding LOTS of air to the jumphouse.

Back then, real estate investors were riding high … just like today’s stock market investors.

And those who only measured the air pressure in the jumphouse … ignoring other gauges … didn’t see the circuits over-heating … until the system failed.

Then the air abruptly stopped, the inflated markets quickly deflated, and the equity-building party turned into a balance-sheet-destroying disaster.

And it happened FAST.

Which bring us to today …

The Atlanta Fed recently raised their GDP forecast for the booming U.S. economy.

Stock indexes are at all-time highs.  Unemployment is low.  The new Fed chair says, “The economy is strong.”

Some say these are the effects of tax cuts and a big spending bill.

Makes sense … because when you measure productivity by spending, when you spend, the numbers move.  Spending, or “fiscal stimulus” is an easy way to goose the economy.

But some are concerned this is a temporary flash fed by debt and deficits.

Others say it’s fiscal stimulus done right … kindling a permanent fire of economic growth and activity.

Could be.  After all, Trump’s a real estate guy, so he understands using debt to build or acquire long-term productive assets.

Real estate investors know better than most that not all debt and spending are the same.

Of course, government, geo-politics, and a national economy are a much different game than New York City real estate development.

And there are certainly some cracks showing in all these strong economic numbers …

A strong U.S. dollar is giving emerging markets fits.  Home buyingbuildingappreciation, and mortgages are all slowing.

We’re not here to prognosticate about what might happen.  Lots of smart people are already doing that, with a wide variety of opinions.

We just keep listening.

Our point today is … there’s a lag between cause and effect smart investors are wise to consider.

When lots of things are changing very fast, as they are right now, some are tempted to sit out and see what happens.  Probably not smart.

After all, the air in the jumphouse could last a while.  No one likes to miss out on all the fun.

But others put on sunglasses, toss the umbrella, and go out and dance in the sunshine … without watching the horizon.  Also not smart.

Dark clouds could be forming in the distance which might quickly turn sunshine into storm.

The best investors we’ve met take a balanced approach … staying alert and nimble while enjoying the sunshine, but not getting lost in the lag.

Changes in economic seasons aren’t the problem.  It’s not seeing them coming and being properly prepared.

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.

This is getting old … and that’s good

Even though there are many interesting economic developments to talk about, we’re going to focus on an oldie, but a goodie … senior housing.

National Real Estate Investor just released their latest Seniors Housing Market Study and the headline hints that opportunity in the niche might be … growing old …

“High construction levels are tempering some of the enthusiasm in the seniors housing sector.” 

Although cautionary, it’s hardly doom and gloom compared to this cheery report from Attom Data Solutions …

Foreclosure Starts Increase in 44 Percent of U.S. Markets in July 2018

Or this one …

One in 10 U.S. Properties Seriously Underwater in Q2 2018

Or this one …

U.S. Median Home Price Appreciation Decelerates in Q2 2018 to Slowest Pace in Two Years

BUT, as we’re fond of pointing out, the flip-side of problems are opportunities.

And because real estate is NOT an asset class any more than “Earth” is an asset class, there are lots of niches, sub-niches, and micro-trends to dig into to find deals.

Besides, every time some casual observer scans a scary headline and walks away, it leaves even more opportunity unclaimed for those willing to look a little closer.

So let’s see what we can glean from these articles …

First, the “underwater” report illustrates the point that real estate can’t be an asset class because even a sector as broad as “housing” behaves very differently in different places …

“… the gap between home equity haves and have-nots persists because home price appreciation is certainly not uniform across local markets or even within local markets.”

As long as this is true, there will always be “haves” and “have-nots.”  We’re not sure about you, but we’d prefer to be “haves.”  So that means picking the RIGHT markets.

Of course, “markets” aren’t just geographic.

A market can be a product type … single-family housing, multi-family, mobile homes, student housing, senior housing, medical, office, retail, resort, and on and on.

A market can also be a price-point.  “Low-income” is different than “work-force,” which is different than “executive,” which is different than “luxury.”

Consider this quote from the “appreciation” report …

“Price-per-square foot appreciation accelerates for homes selling above $1 million.

You get the idea.  As you continue to parse real estate into geographic, demographic, and economic niches, sub-niches and localities, you can uncover hidden opportunity.

This kind of analysis is the “work smarter, not harder” alternative to simply looking at hundreds of properties along with all the other deal-hunters.

So with that backdrop, let’s go back to our lead headline about what’s happening in seniors housing …

“Seniors housing has carved out a larger place in investors’ commercial real estate portfolios due to the compelling demographics and a track record as a steady performer in both up and down market cycles.”

BUT …

“… survey indicates a note of caution creeping in because of how much new supply is coming into the market.” 

First, “hint of caution” isn’t “OMG, the sky is falling” … so that’s good.

We’ll just hit one more quote, then look at how to go sub-niche as a way to mitigate the potential negative consequences of “too much supply.”

“…respondents in this year’s survey remain confident in seniors housing’s stable fundamentals.  A majority are optimistic that both occupancies and rents will continue to increase …”

So clearly, there’s a LOT to like about the senior housing space.

Of course, it’s this very bullishness which attracts new development and increased supply.

HOWEVER, there’s an angle to consider … and the hint is that this article is written to, and about, commercial … largely institutional … investors.

To them, senior housing means big buildings … like those featured in this report from the American Seniors Housing Association.

And remember, when big institutional money is looking for yield, they need big institutional properties to buy or build.

But as our good friend Gene Guarino tells us, there’s a sub-niche of the senior housing niche that’s too small for the big players, but plenty big for Main Street real estate investors …

Residential assisted living homes.

RALs are where you take an existing McMansion in a residential neighborhood, make some modifications, bring in a specialized manager,  and house a small group (8-16) of seniors who need assistance with their daily care.

But unlike a regular boarding house, these things cash-flow like CRAZY.

We won’t get into the mechanics of all that now.  You can learn more here.

Our point is this is RALs are a sub-niche where you can ride a demographic wave (boomers’ parents … and eventually boomers themselves), an economic niche (million-dollar plus homes), a hot niche (seniors housing, and especially assisted living) …

… and avoid the challenge of excessive inventory created by big institutional money.

Think about it …

There’s not yet a practical way for institutional money to come in and build large supplies of residential assisted living facilities.  They can only build “big box” facilities.

If and when they overbuild, it will mean the big box facilities will be forced to lower prices to attract residents from each other.

BUT, the big box operator has a BIG, all-or-nothing facility, meaning it can’t easily reduce room count to match demand. They either own and operate the entire big building or they don’t.  There’s no in between.

So over-supply means they’ll need to cut SERVICES in an attempt to preserve profitability.

Contrast this to a RESIDENTIAL operator …

Let’s say you have six of these houses in an area where the big boxes overbuild.

Will YOU feel the price pressure?  Sure.  At least a little bit.

BUT … remember, the senior resident who ends up living in a big box is often a different customer than the one in a residential assisted living home.

Many will pay a premium to live in a home rather than an institution.

So right out of the gate, your sub-niche of the senior demographic is arguably less price-sensitive, and your residential home is a very different value proposition.

But let’s say you do get squeezed and lose a few residents.  If you can’t replace them with profitable residents, you can always sell one of your six homes … into the single-family home market.

After all, it’s not like you’ve got a 125-bed single-purpose property.  In other words, you have a Plan B exit strategy that feeds into a different niche …. home-owners.

It’s MUCH easier for you to navigate the ramifications of an over-build … so you can ride the hot wave with less risk.

Even better, if the big box operators’ profit margins get squeezed, don’t be surprised if they take notice of your high profit margins and make you an offer.

We could go on, but you get the idea.  There are always niches and sub-niches when you’re willing to dig a little deeper.

So when you read headlines about macro-trends, keep in mind opportunity is often micro … and often requires more thought.

In this case, the cautionary headline about over-building serves as an example of how to ride a macro-trend, while avoiding dangers created when big money overcrowds a space.

Until next time … good investing!


More From The Real Estate Guys™…

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

The dichotomy economy …

Have you noticed a bit of division in the news … over just about EVERYTHING?

As you may know, we obsess on all things economic and how they affect Main Street real estate investors … and try to steer clear of the more divisive topics.

But even the financial news is a polarized collection of confusing banter.

On the one hand, we see reports about low unemploymentGDP growth over 4 percentrising consumer confidence, and record high small business optimism.

That all sounds awesome.

On the other hand, we read about record levels of household debtstagnant real wages, and growing government deficits … at a time when interest rates are rising.

Then there’s the ballooning corporate debtgrossly underfunded pensions even as boomers are retiring at 10,000 plus per day … and the hard-to-understand impact of a strong dollar on pretty much everything.

All that sounds mostly scary.

Sure, you could say it all blends together into a balanced and comfortable investing climate …

But that’s like saying if you have one foot in a bucket of boiling water and the other in a bucket of ice water … on average you’re comfortable.  Probably not.

But before you pull the sheets over your head and hope it all blows over, consider this pearl of wisdom from Atlas Shrugged author, Ayn Rand …

“You can avoid reality, but you cannot avoid the consequences of avoiding reality.”

Of course, we’ll never unpack all this with today’s simple commentary …

… but we hope to encourage you to watch what’s happening, get in conversations with similarly engaged folks, and consider how all these things can and do affect YOU and YOUR investing.  Because they do.

For now, let’s just take a VERY simple investing principle and see if it helps us make sense of this schizophrenic financial world …

Would you borrow money at 2 percent if you could invest it at 4 percent?

 Most investors and businesspeople would.  So on its face, the borrowing isn’t the big problem.  It’s maintaining a positive spread.

This is the world real estate investors live in … borrowing and investing at a positive spread.

Of course, it gets a little trickier when rates are rising.   But the fundamentals of the game remain the same.  When rates rise, you MUST increase earnings, or you lose.

So it’s not just how much you borrow, but what you do with the proceeds.  If you borrow to consume or retire less expensive debt, you’re in trouble.

If you borrow to invest in growth, to acquire higher-yielding assets, to start profitable businesses … debt can be your most valuable tool.

Right now, Uncle Sam is borrowing and spending at a wicked pace.  The multi-trillion-dollar question is whether the borrowing will pay off.

The most recent 10-year Treasury auction saw a record amount of U.S. debt offered and scooped up by investors … at a yield under 3 percent.

(We watch the 10-year because it’s the most correlated to mortgage rates)

So it seems bond investors aren’t overly concerned about Uncle Sam’s debt-levels and capacity to repay with a comparably valued dollar.  For now.

And in spite of the highly touted tax cuts, federal income tax receipts actually GREW nearly 8 percent in the first 10 months of 2018.

BUT … while income is up, deficits and debt are up MORE.

As investors, we understand it sometimes takes time for investments to pay off, so it’s probably not time to judge … yet.

However, this is something we’ll continue to watch carefully.

If the investments pay off, especially in a way that resurrects rust belt markets… there could be some serious real estate investing opportunities on the horizon.

If they don’t, and this is all just a debt-driven faux boom, the end game could be a collapsed currency, ugly recession, and interest rates even the Fed can’t hold down.

Of course, if all the “bad” stuff happens, there’ll be lots of quality assets available at fire-sale prices … for those with enough foresight to liquefy some “boom” equity and keep it at the ready.

Of course, probably the BIGGEST opportunity in either scenario is to have a large network of aware and prepared investors on speed-dial … so you can put together investment funds to ride the wave or pick up the pieces after a crash.

The bottom-line is …

… it’s not external circumstances that primarily control individual success or failure, but rather the individual investor’s awareness, preparedness, and propensity to ACT as circumstances unfold.

How are YOU preparing?

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Think about it …

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hmmmm … that’s weird.

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

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

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

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

But that’s not happening.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Is that bad?  It depends.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until next time … good investing!


More From The Real Estate Guys™…

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

Lessons from Facebook’s face-plant …

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

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

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

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

– The Verge 7/26/18

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

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

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

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

And maybe that’s all it is.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

– Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke on May 17, 2007

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

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

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

Lesson 3: Momentum is a condiment … not a meal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

– John F. Kennedy

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

This is our favorite.

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

As our friends Chris Martenson and Adam Taggart recently pointed out

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

… real estate is the CLEAR winner.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So be aware …

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

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

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

Until next time … good investing!


More From The Real Estate Guys™…

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

Next Page »