Ask The Guys – Markets, Growth, Condos and Credibility

You’ve got questions. We’ve got answers. 

That’s right. It’s time for another segment of Ask The Guys … when we host our most favorite guest … YOU!

This time we’re tackling listener questions about choosing a great real estate market, building a bigger portfolio, whether or not an office condo makes sense, and creating a rock-solid reputation in the real estate business. 

And … there’s more!

We never tire of hearing what is on your mind. 

Remember … we aren’t tax advisors or legal professionals. We give ideas and information … NOT advice. 

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

  • Your rock-solid host, Robert Helms
  • His rocking out co-host, Russell Gray 

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To office condo or not to office condo

Our first question comes from John in Houston, Texas. He’s considering purchasing an office condo for his investment management business. 

“I’ve been doing research, and I get mixed feedback about these being a good investment,” John says. 

Is purchasing an office condo really better than leasing if you plan to be in the space for over 10 years? 

It’s a great question. 

Let’s start with what an office condo is. Maybe it’s obvious, but just like you would own a condominium home, you would own a part of an office complex. 

It could be the third floor in the corner or it could be its own building. It really depends on the development and its structure. 

These types of properties appeal to landlords who want commercial tenants instead of residential. The incentive for a business owner is that for what they are paying in rent, they could be working toward owning a building. 

Office condos can be really great investments. 

The biggest consideration for owner users is that not everyone has part of their business plan dedicated to owning real estate. 

But one of the great things about owning the business and owning the real estate is that you can do those two things separately. 

Your business doesn’t have to own the building. If you own it instead, you have the flexibility of just selling the business but keeping the building to lease out or selling the building and staying as a tenant. 

It also provides some asset protection benefits and other flexibility in terms of taxes. 

At the end of the day, talk with your legal or tax professional and run the numbers. Figure out the cost of ownership and if it makes sense for you. 

Growing bigger, faster

Casiana in Battle Creek, Michigan, wants to know how to grow her portfolio fast. She currently owns four rental properties and is interested in syndication. 

The whole premise of syndication is being able to do more … faster. 

Every property only cash flows so much … and to get to a really great passive income could take a lot of houses. 

Syndication isn’t the only way to go … but it is the next step for many folks, because it allows you to use other people’s expertise, money, and resources. 

You can also take advantage of great networking and education events like our Annual Investor Summit at Sea™. Come prepared … reading books by the instructors beforehand is a great start. 

Remember … education for effective action.

The main message is don’t trade time for dollars. Put your money to work for you. 

Money doesn’t buy happiness … but money can help take the things that make you happy and bring more of them into your life. 

Making sense of markets

Alex in Poulsbo, Washington, is looking to buy a first investment property … but doesn’t know where to begin. Maybe markets outside Seattle?

Well, you can make money in Seattle … but Seattle is very expensive. It’s one of the more expensive places to try to buy in the U.S. 

You may find out that investing in your home market means the numbers don’t work out very well … and since you are thinking about other markets, you’ve probably figured that out already. 

For those of you that live and invest in the same market … good for you! There’s no reason to go outside your market if you live in a place where the numbers work. 

Market analysis starts with listening to the industry buzz … what markets other real estate folks are excited about. 

Then, you look at each market and the key market drivers … factors that create vitality, jobs, and the need … or want … for more tenants to be there. 

Then, you need to look at the market in terms of your personal investment philosophy. 

What are you trying to accomplish as an investor? And what are you willing to do and not willing to do to achieve those goals?

Once you’ve found a market … or three … that look good to you, get on the ground. 

Go see things in person, and work on building a team. Latch onto a great property manager. 

Find experts who know the area. They should know where the path of progress is, where demand is going, and where the good tenants are.

They will help you drill down to the neighborhood where you should look for property. 

Carefully building credibility

Mike in Buffalo, New York, wants to know how to build credibility in his brand new real estate investment company as a wholesaler or investor. 

Credibility takes time to build. It’s like a reputation. 

You have one reputation. It takes you years to build it … and the whole thing can topple down in a minute. 

So, you’ve got to be very strategic and careful about building your credibility. 

It starts with presentation … how you show up, look, walk, and talk. 

Then, look at who you associate with. Seek out experts in the industry who are top notch quality, and find ways to enter their circles. Offer your help. Ask them questions. Find mentors. 

And … of course … do great work. 

In the end, credibility takes time and consistency. 

More Ask The Guys

Listen to the full episode for more questions and answers. 

Have a real estate investing question? Let us know!  Your question could be featured in our next Ask The Guys episode.

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!

Podcast: Ask The Guys – Markets, Growth, Condos and Credibility

A litany of listener questions about how to choose a great real estate market to invest in, how to build a bigger portfolio faster, whether or not an office condo makes sense, what it takes to create a rock-solid reputation in a relationship business, and more.

So listen in as The Real Estate Guys™ answer listener questions!


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!

California screaming …

In August 1971, President Richard Nixon went on national television and shocked the world by defaulting on the gold-backed dollar system created at Bretton Woods in 1945.

Up to that point, dollars were essentially coupons for real money … gold. Foreign dollar holders could turn in their dollars and walk away with gold at $35 per ounce.

Nixon repudiated that deal without warning, promising it was only a “temporary” measure. That was over 48 years ago … and the world is still waiting.

It reminds us of Ben Bernanke’s promise that quantitative easing was only temporary. Yet, here we are 10 years later and it’s still here.

Yes, we know Jerome Powell doesn’t want to call it QE. Most people forget Ben Bernanke didn’t want to call the original QE “QE” either.

So Nixon tried to take the edge off the gold default by saying it’s only temporary, but he knew the world would react by dumping dollars … crashing the dollar and causing prices to rise.

If that’s confusing, just think of dollars like stocks. When something happens to trigger people to sell, the price falls.

When the dollar falls, it takes more dollars to buy the same products. That’s called inflation. And it hurts people who do business in the falling currency.

So while foreigners were upset about Uncle Sam’s broken promise, those paying attention could sell their dollars quickly and buy gold in the open market.

American citizens were not so fortunate.

That’s because back then it was still illegal for U.S. citizens to own gold. And the government had already taken all the silver out of the coins in 1965.

So even if Americans were smart enough to know what was happening, the best escape routes were blocked. Real money wasn’t readily available to them.

Being aware the American voter would be facing rising prices and falling purchasing power headed into the 1972 election cycle, Nixon attempted to stop inflation by executive order.

In fact, at the same time he defaulted on the gold standard, Nixon also ordered a national freeze on prices and wages.

You read that right.

In the United States of America, the land of the free, bastion of free market capitalism …

… by executive decree, and without warning, it became immediately illegal for a private business owner to raise prices on a customer or increase wages to an employee.

Of course, it didn’t work.

In fact, as discovered through his now infamous penchant for tape recording everything, it’s well-documented Nixon knew it wouldn’t work when he did it.

On February 22, 1971 in a recorded conversation with his Secretary of the Treasury, Nixon said,

“ The difficulty with wage-price controls and a wage board as you well know is that the God damned things will not work.”

“I know the reasons, you do it for cosmetic reasons good God! But this is too early for cosmetic reasons.”

But by August 12, 1971, the Secretary of the Treasury apparently convinced Nixon the time had arrived to put lipstick on the pig …

To the average person in this country this wage and price freeze–to him means you mean business. You’re gonna stop this inflation. You’re gonna try to get control of this economy. …If you take all of these actions … you’re not going to have anybody…left out to be critical of you.

In other words, it was all political theater to pander to pundits and voters. It doesn’t matter if it works … or if you even think it can. It only matters that you’re seen trying.

So just 3 days later, Nixon went on TV and pulled the trigger.

What does all this have to do with YOUR real estate investing?

Maybe more than you think. History often has valuable lessons for those who take the time to reflect on it.

You may have heard … California just enacted state-wide rent control.

California’s not the first to do this … Oregon holds that “honor”, having enacted their own version of state-wide rent control last February.

Of course, this is a governmental policy, so any discussion of it runs the risk of turning political and divisive.

But it doesn’t matter whether you or we agree or disagree with the spirit or letter of the law. That’s irrelevant.

The rent control laws are here like them or not, so the more germane discussion is about what rent control on this scale might mean for real estate investors … regardless of political stripe.

Now if you think none of this matters to you because you have no intention of investing in California or Oregon … think again.

Because even though each state’s law is different, the motives are similar … to “do something” (or at least appear to be trying) to address growing homelessness presumably created because “rent is too damn high.”

If this way of thinking catches on (and it seems to be), state-wide rent control could be coming to a market near you.

And like California, rent control laws could be RETROACTIVE.

Think about that.

Let’s say you’re a value-add real estate investor and you find an older, run-down, poorly managed property in a decent area.

You put together a plan and invest generously to improve the property to the benefit of the tenants and the neighborhood, expecting to earn higher rents for a better product.

But AFTER you make your investment, the government decides to make it illegal for you to raise the rents to your projections. And it’s retroactive.

You made a plan and took a calculated risk based on the rules in place … and wham-o! The government changes the rules after the fact.

Ouch.

Call us crazy, but that doesn’t seem fair. At least Oregon “only” made their rent control effective immediately. California’s law is retroactive seven MONTHS.

We understand politicians are trying to pre-empt landlords from jacking up rents before rent control kicks in.

Of course, this reveals a paradigm of how politicians view landlords … as greedy takers looking for every opportunity to screw over their customers.

Funny, some people see politicians the same way … but we digress.

It’s painfully obvious these lawmakers don’t understand real estate investing.

While it’s true, the laws allow rents to rise a “generous” spread of 5-7% over the (artificially low) CPI.

Maybe this is okay for new or fully renovated properties. No cap ex needed.

But the law specifically targets properties over 15 years old … the very ones most likely to need substantial renovation.

Worse, the law does NOT make an exception for capital expenditures, so the limit on rental increases potentially caps the incentive to fix up old, ugly properties.

Will rent control create a greater divide between the nice and not-so-nice areas as existing properties are starved of cap ex?

History says it will. Time will tell if it’s different this time.

Meanwhile, it’s wise for real estate investors to pay attention to laws in places like Oregon and California … even though they may not apply to you … yet.

Because when you look at California, it seems like they got some of their ideas from Oregon. Like Hollywood, politicians tend to copy each other.

And because affordable housing is a national problem heading into a heated election year 

… it’s likely other states are looking at the “leadership” of California and Oregon … and could be considering a rent control law variation of their own.

The opportunity could be in the overt and implied exemptions …

… like mobile home parksresidential assisted livingself-storage and other niches outside the cross-hairs of perhaps well-meaning, but sometimes misguided politicians.

Remember, markets are dynamic, complex systems affected by fiscal, tax, monetary, and regulatory policy as much or more than local demographics and economics.

It’s smart to pay attention to ALL of it … and objectively evaluate how each factor might impact you and your portfolio.

Unconventional Funding Solutions for Real Estate Investors

Lending is a big part of real estate investing … but sometimes your situation doesn’t fit the traditional lending mold. 

If you … or your deals … require out-of-the-box funding … have no fear!

There is a great, big, wide world of alternative funding solutions just waiting to be discovered. And the payoff can be just as big. 

Today, we’re sitting down with a veteran loan broker who is here to share the details of some of the creative loan products available for unconventional real estate investors. 

It’s time to optimize your portfolio … and find new ways to claim needed capital. 

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

  • Your fund-finding host, Robert Helms
  • His fun-loving co-host, Russell Gray 
  • Investor and financing strategist, Billy Brown

Listen


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Locating leverage and getting cash for deals

One of the most important questions in real estate is … where do you get the money?

Great news! Things have changed in the lending world … and today, there are opportunities like never before … all while protecting your equity. 

One of the first challenges many investors have to figure out is leverage. Leverage is what helps us magnify returns. 

In a nutshell … it means the bank loans you money so you don’t have to come up with all the money to buy real estate. 

Leverage is like a chainsaw. It’s a great tool … but if you use it wrong, it can cut you. 

So, today we’re going to focus on alternative funding solutions. 

True investing is about focusing on cash flow. If you do that, then you can weather pretty much any storm. 

Right now, the market is pretty hot. There are people out there who have wisely built a nice portfolio … but now they have five, six, seven, or more loans and they can’t get any more. 

And yet the rates are down. That leaves those investors staring at a lot of cheap money that they can’t get their hands on. 

So, those investors look at the equity they have in their current properties … and they want to get at that equity. 

If you’re not liquid … you’re going to be like a kid locked out of the candy store. 

If the credit markets seize up … all that fabulous equity that you have disappears. But if you have strong cash flow … you’ll weather it. 

How can you liquefy equity? How can you take advantage of lower rates in your portfolio and free up money so you can continue to invest? 

Loans designed for investors

Billy Brown is a seasoned investor and loan officer who specializes in helping investors and syndicators figure out the finances of investing. 

One of the big problems Billy sees is that investors get successful, start to build their portfolios … and then get what we call Fannie-d and Freddie-d out. 

They no longer conform to those guidelines Russ was talking about. They suddenly have a hard time getting a loan. 

Billy has the ability to sit down with these people and help them be able to take individual loans and restructure that in a way that frees up their qualification. 

“I love infinite returns,” Bill says, “so that’s how I wear my hat. I focus on how we can use the tools available to us inside lending and our lending partners to go create infinite returns.”

Billy has a few different strategies in place to help people access equity. 

The first is portfolio lending. 

There are a lot of portfolio lenders out there. Banks and non-banks will do it. The idea is to take everything and put it together as an investor loan. 

The rates might be a little bit higher … but what it buys you back is the qualification of those loans. Plus, you get the option of one loan servicing multiple properties. 

This type of loan is better than going through Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac because it is designed for the job you are trying to do. 

You go from 9 or 10 loans with 9 or 10 mortgage payments that may or may not be escrowed down to one mortgage with escrow … and a whole bunch of cash. 

Billy says that if you have a simple written rule or schedule of real estate owned and your personal financial statement, he can come up with a plan fairly quickly. 

“Usually within 48 hours I have a pretty good idea of whether I can get you a recourse or non-recourse option and set out the strategy,” Billy says. 

Billy also says that these portfolio loan options are fun because they are designed for investors and have a cash flow of their own. 

Special considerations for special loans

What happens if you want to sell one of your properties?

Billy says that is one of the first questions he asks when he consults with investors. “Are there any ugly children in this portfolio that you want to get rid of? If so, leave them out of the loan.”

This type of lending option is really designed for the investor that wants to buy and hold a portfolio and keep hanging on to it for at least 3 to 5 years.

The reason there is a prepayment penalty is that lenders put a certain amount of resources, time, effort, and capital to be in a position to collect the interest rate from you. 

Lenders want to make sure they’re making a return … so you can’t use this type of portfolio strategy and then turn around in 10 days and sell it without paying a heavy fee. 

So if you’ve spent the last several years acquiring a portfolio of single family homes that are working for you … but you would like to have access to the capital … this is probably a great tool. 

Each lender has their own set of circumstances … and most require you to have property management. 

The property manager is the least respected and most important person on your team. 

If you have commercial properties, you probably already have management in place … but if you have single family homes, you could still be managing yourself. 

“That’s a great way to learn for the first couple of years, but eventually you want to hand that job off,” Billy says.

Discover the method that works for you

No matter what your circumstance is, Billy and his lending network can help. 

“We can do anything from $100,000 cash out refinance of a single family rental up to a $100 million CMBS loan,” Billy says. 

To learn more about unconventional funding solutions for investors like YOU, listen in to the full episode!

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!

Bank of America just made the case for real estate …

In this week’s perusal of the news, this headline caught our attention …

Bank of America declares the “end of the 60/40” standard portfolio 
Market Watch 10/15/19

We know it SEEMS like a pretty benign article … irrelevant to real estate investors. But au contraire mon frère …

There’s actually quite a bit of useful intelligence packed into BofA’s thesis.

Here’s what they have to say …

“Investors have long been told that the ideal portfolio should carry 60% of its holdings in equities and 40% in bonds, a mix that provides greater exposure to historically superior stock returns, while also granting the diversification benefits and lower risk of fixed-income investments.”

This, as they say, is “conventional wisdom” for paper portfolio strategy. It’s basically a straddle between principal risk (stocks) and safety of principal with income (bonds).

Except in today’s topsy-turvy financial markets, BoA admits this no longer makes any sense …

“ ‘The relationship between asset classes has changed so much that many investors now buy equities not for future growth but for current income, and buy bonds to participate in price rallies,’ [says Bank of America] …”

Stocks for income and bonds for price speculation? That’s a substantial role-reversal.

Before we dive into the real estate ramifications, let’s dig a little deeper into the essence of their position …

It’s easy to understand the first part … an ideal portfolio hedges both inflation and deflation while positioning for equity growth, yield, and protection of principal.

Of course, real estate can do all that MUCH better than stocks and bonds. But we’ll come back to that in a moment.

The bigger revelation in this article is BoA’s admission that paper assets aren’t working properly right now.

This is something most Mom and Pop investors (and their financial advisors) aren’t fully aware of. If they were, this BoA research note wouldn’t be newsworthy. But it is and that’s telling in and of itself.

Here are the problems in a nutshell …

Bonds are producing next to no yield. They’re next to useless for the production of income, as any pension fund manager can tell you.

Bonds are in a bubble … significantly over-priced. That’s why bonds produce no income …

(A bond’s price is inverse to its yield, so low yield equals high price … and ridiculously low yield equals ridiculously high price.)

When any asset price exceeds fundamental valuation, there’s a possibility … in fact, a high probability … the bubble will deflate, and the price will fall.

This means as a vehicle for adding income and preservation of capital to a balanced portfolio, bonds are failing on both counts.

Bonds have now devolved into nothing more than gambling chips for speculators in the Wall Street casinos …

… and tools for economic intervention vis-à-vis interest rate manipulations by central banks.

In fact, it could be argued that central banks aren’t even focused on the economy. After all, why lower rates when the economy is “booming”?

More likely, the financial system is far more fragile than anyone cares to admit … and central banks are trying to prevent collapse.

Remember, bond values are inverse to yields. If rates rise, bond prices fall.

With TRILLIONS of dollars of bonds leveraged throughout the system, falling bond prices could trigger a chain reaction of margin calls.

Think 2008 on steroids.

Once you understand all this, the logical conclusion is …

“ ‘there are good reasons to reconsider the role of bonds in your portfolio,’ and to allocate a greater share toward equities.

Ya think?

By now you may be thinking, “So what? I’m a real estate investor. I don’t own bonds.”

Smart. But most real estate investors make liberal use of credit markets. When bonds implode, they often take credit markets with them.

Real estate is a lot more challenging when credit markets are broken. And it’s downright deadly if you’re not structured IN ADVANCE to weather frozen credit markets.

But why does BoA sound the alarm now? Because …

“ ‘…this is happening at a time when positioning in many fixed-income sectors is incredibly crowded, making bonds more vulnerable to sharp, sudden selloffs when active managers re-balance,’ ”

In other words, as portfolio managers wake up to the risks of bonds and scramble to get out before the crowd … they become the crowd … and WHAM, the bottom falls out.

The credit market collapse of 2008 converted us into avid bond market watchers. But there’s also some opportunity here.

The core message of the BofA research note is …

“ [BoA] advise[s] investors to add more exposure to equities, particularly stocks with high dividend yields in under-performing sectors … which can be bought at inexpensive valuations.”

To translate this into real estate investor …

Stocks or “equities” represent ownership in operating businesses.

In real estate, operating businesses are things like an apartment building, a self-storage complex, a mobile-home park … or on a small scale, a rental home.

“Dividend yields” are operating profits distributed to shareholders … just like real estate rental income distributions to property owners.

“Under-performing sectors” could be likened to regional real estate markets or product types and price points which aren’t over-bid.

Of course, BoA doesn’t speak real estate investor, so they’re talking paper assets.

But the economic conditions they see and the actions they recommend in response not only make sense, they make the case for real estate investing.

After all, real estate provides a hedge against inflation. Over time, as the currency loses value, real estate’s value denominated in currency tends to rise.

And FAR better than bonds, whose yield is fixed, rents also tend to rise over time in response to inflation.

Of course, if deflation occurs, the value of the income stream becomes more valuable. And as prices fall, tenants purchasing power increases.

And even if a property falls in value 40% and never comes back (unlikely) …

… if you only put 30% down and the tenants eventually retire the 70% loan, you’re still “up” … apart from the tax breaks and cash flow along the way.

Best of all, real estate investors can use lots of relatively inexpensive long-term debt without fear of a margin call.

Of course, mortgages are only available when credit markets are healthy, so now’s arguably a good time to stock up on cheap long term debt.

However, just because real estate is awesome, it doesn’t mean real estate is without risk. Pay close attention to cash flow.

Still, compared to nearly every other investment vehicle, real estate arguably offers a lot less risk and more resilience against a variety of economic changes.

And unlike stocks and bonds which are essentially commodities traded in global exchanges where it’s hard to find a “hidden deal” … real estate trades in extremely inefficient local markets.

And because every property, neighborhood and ownership is unique, it’s much easier to buy a property at an “inexpensive valuation”.

So whether you’re only investing in your own account, or profiting from sharing your expertise with other investors, it’s encouraging to realize …

… real estate is a powerful solution to the challenge of building a resilient portfolio in changing times.

Getting to the Next Level with Your Real Estate Investing

The real estate game is all about the long game. It’s a process of learning … and often a rollercoaster of rapid growth, steady plateaus, dips, and rising back. 

The key for investors is to always be pushing to the next level. 

So … we’re talking about how to do just that. 

We’re ready to talk getting started, getting out of ruts, and getting yourself to the next level of the real estate game. 

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

  • Your level-headed host, Robert Helms
  • His on-the-level co-host, Russell Gray 

Listen

 


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Broadcasting since 1997 with over 300 episodes on iTunes!

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A natural evolution in real estate

Where are you as a real estate investor?

Whether you’re just starting to think about it, getting started, or a seasoned professional ready to make a jump into a new niche … we’re here to help you get to your next level. 

Not all investors are created equal. Not all investors start in the same place or end up in the same place … but there IS a natural progression and evolution as a real estate investor. 

Part of that transformation is about knowledge and information. The other part is about actually changing. 

If you remain who you’ve always been, you’re going to do things the way you’ve always done them, and you’ll get the same results. 

What we’ve learned through observing many people at various stages of their development is that everything starts with your personal transformation … what you THINK and what you BELIEVE. 

Pretty soon, that starts to manifest in the decision you make and the results you produce. 

No matter where you’re at in your own evolution, there are several standard stages … and several standard ways to move to the next level. 

Is real estate for you?

The first stage is when you’re not sure you want to be a real estate investor … but you think you might. 

You’re exploring whether real estate is a possibility for you. 

Most people do it part-time and are looking to get cash flow. But there’s a lot you have to learn. 

The good news is that real estate is really relatively easy if you keep it simple. You accumulate properties over time and pay attention to details like cash flow. 

You can compress time frames to accelerate the process. Part of that is developing a vision. 

If you put strategy and effort into your real estate dealings, you can create more wealth faster. 

Start by getting around people who are already doing what you would like to be doing and learning from them. 

This principle applies to everyone. Find someone who is playing the game at a higher level than you and learn from them. 

There are also lots of great books out there about getting started that can teach you the minute details of real estate deals. 

All of this knowledge contributes to establishing what we call your personal investment philosophy. 

Just like every investor is different, you want to set up your real estate investing process as something that supports who you are and your skill sets … not the other way around. 

Buying your first property 

After you’ve decided to take the leap into real estate, it’s time to buy a property. 

Buying your first property is awesome and exciting … even when the property itself might not be that fabulous. 

For you to qualify for loans on property, it really helps to have a dependable income … aka a  good job. 

That’s why so many beginners in real estate do it part-time. You might be ready financially to go and quit your job, but having an income and a credit score can help you. 

A few years after buying your first property, you may be ready to buy a second … and a few years later you buy a third. Hopefully over time they produce income and go up in value. 

Direction is more important than speed. Set your course and then get moving. 

Remember … you’re working on your reputation as an investor, which is more than just your credit score

Most people start off in single family homes … but you don’t have to. 

Our good friend Brad Sumrok bought a 32 unit apartment building as his first investment. We know folks whose first investment was an agricultural property. 

But still, most people invest in a townhouse or a condo or a single family home. It’s small, reasonable, and easy to understand.

Then the next part of the natural evolution happens … you look for a second or a different asset class within real estate.  

Moving into different niches

So many people start investing in single family and then start to look at a multi-unit property like an apartment building and think … maybe I want to go into multifamily next. 

Or maybe you want to focus in on another marketplace like retail or industrial. 

Real estate is made up of so many different niches that behave differently depending on what is going on in the economy. 

As you observe what is happening in the world around you, you can be strategic in catching where you think the wave of real estate demand is flowing. 

As you move into a new niche, there is a little window of opportunity where a bunch of buyers run in and buy. They bid things up, and things slow down a bit. 

You can learn to spot this window over time as you start paying attention. 

Expanding into different niches lets you diversify and helps you build your experience resume. 

And to get really juicy returns, most investors need to make the shift into these types of bigger markets. 

Going full-time in real estate

When you reach the point that your passive portfolio can provide the income you need without working … it’s time to ask yourself if you want to go full-time into real estate. 

When people see that their passive income from their real estate portfolio exceeds their full-time income, they usually want to retire. 

But so many people find that they actually want to stay busy. 

So, you use your real estate portfolio as a base … and you start reinvesting your own money. 

You can also start sharing your expertise with other people and partnering with them. Or, you may take on private investors. 

You may decide to invest your time and money into learning a whole new asset niche and developing your expertise there. 

Something many people forget is that there is a particular tax benefit that comes along with being a full-time real estate professional. 

You’ll want to talk to your tax professional about that, but it’s definitely a benefit of being full-time alongside setting your own schedule and being your own boss. 

The point is that there is no one way to take your real estate experience to the next level … there are MANY ways!

And that’s what makes it exciting. 

Learn more about getting to the next level with your real estate investments by listening in to the full episode. 


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The system is dead. Long live the system!

The ghosts of the Great Financial Crisis of 2008 still linger (as they should) in the minds and hearts of seasoned real estate investors …

… even though it’s been a an equity party for the last 10 years.

Of course, no one wants to hear it might be ending. Then again, every new beginning comes from another beginning’s end.

And as we recently noted, a bend in the road isn’t the end of the road … unless you fail to make the turn.

Right now, it seems like the global financial system is flashing caution lights all over the place.

Consider these recent headlines …

U.S. Treasury bond curve inverts for first time since 2007 in recession warningReuters, 8/14/19

Ex-Fed boss Greenspan says ‘there is no barrier’ to Treasury yields falling below zeroMarketWatch, 8/14/19

China Prepares Its “Nuclear Option” In Trade WarOilPrice.com, 8/13/19

Some real estate investors see these headlines … and yawn. Probably a mistake.

Experienced real estate investors and their mortgage professionals know mortgage rates pivot off the 10-year Treasury yield.

And because mortgages are the most powerful tool in a real estate investor’s toolbox and interest one of the biggest expenses, interest rates matter.

Regular listeners know we like fixed rates now because the risk of rates rising is greater than the benefit of them falling further.

It doesn’t mean they will. There’s a LOT of effort to keep them down.

In fact, just a year ago, 10-year Treasury yields were nearly 3.5 percent and today it’s half that. But at just over 1.5 percent, how much lower can they go?

You’d be surprised.

After all, the venerable Alan Greenspan himself is publicly raising the possibility Treasury yields could fall below zero.

How is that even possible?

Who makes a loan (buy a bond) not just for free (no interest income), but knowing they’ll get paid back LESS than the principal amount?

You might think no one in their right mind would do that, yet …

Negative-Yielding Debt Hits Record $14 Trillion as Fed Cuts
Bloomberg, August 1, 2019

And in Denmark, home-buyers can get a 10-year mortgages at NEGATIVE .5 percent interest

More good news for homeowners: Mortgages below 0% at fixed interest rates

(Unless you’re fluent in Danish, you’ll need to run this one through Google translate)

Home-buyers are being PAID to borrow.

So you can add negative interest rates to the list of items under “this time it’s different” … because this has never happened before.

What does it mean?

We’re still working on figuring that out. but we think it’s a clear sign something is broken … or least seriously different.

One of our favorite Brainiac economic commentators and an unconventional thinker is Keith Weiner at Monetary-Metals.

In a recent essay, Keith argues that based on the Net-Present-Value calculation, when interest rates hit zero, the value of assets become infinite.

We’re not sure we agree, because the limiting factor is the ability to debt service … even if all you’re doing is repaying principal.

But we do agree the result of cheap money is equity growth.

And this creates a HUGE and unique opportunity for income property investors.

That’s because when you get a mortgage to buy an income property, you’re also purchasing the income to pay down the loan.

Of course, this doesn’t mean it’s a risk-free ride.

If you lose your self-control and pay more for the property than the property’s income can service, you’ve transitioned from investor to speculator.

Now you’re banking on the equity growth in the property to compensate you for the negative cash flow … a subsidy that must come from someplace else.

This structure is most likely to occur with 1-4 unit residential properties because those lenders will let you supplement the property’s income with your own.

A word to the wise …

Unless you have a very specific, high probability plan to raise rents post-purchase …

… be VERY careful about buying a negative cash-flow property in an uber-low interest rate environment.

It’s doubtful lower rates will come along to reduce your interest expense and boost cash flow.

Of course, most commercial lenders won’t make a negative cash-flow loan, so if you’re playing at the pro level, you’re less likely to step on that landmine.

But the aforementioned headlines have some even MORE CONCERNING things to consider

First, yield-curve inversion has preceded the last five recessions.

Fortunately, those recessions don’t usually show up for about year and a half.

So if you pay attention today, there’s no reason to be blind-sided in two years. Hopefully, you’ve got time to prepare. But the clock is ticking.

Recessions mean softer employment and less Main Street prosperity.

Remember, when things are tight, people and businesses tend to move where the cost of living and tax burdens are lower.

Keep this in mind when picking markets, property types, and price points.

It’s always good to have some people above you on the food chain, who will move down and bolster demand in your niche during tough times.

Of course, that’s just your run-of-the-mill market-cycle awareness. Nonetheless, it’s always good to remember the basics.

But what if the system breaks down? What if the “this time it’s different” items tell a different story?

We’ve been watching this for quite a while.

We first spoke about it at the New Orleans Investment Conference six years ago.

We got into more detail on it at our Future of Money and Wealth conference. Of course, we’ve been writing about it regularly.

Now we’re talking about it even more because mainstream financial media is finally taking notice. Maybe we’re not crazy.

So even though we just wrote about it last week, when you hear about “nuclear options” in a trade war between the two biggest economies, would you rather hear the warnings multiple times … or risk missing it altogether?

And what if the Fed is really lowering interest rates to preemptively buffer the impact of China pushing the nuclear button? Will it be enough?

There’s a lot of hype about “the best economy ever” … and perhaps statistically it’s true.

But if interest rates spike suddenly, all that “best ever” talk goes away, along with trillions in equity … and it’s a whole new ball game.

Our pal Peter Schiff thinks the Fed will create trillions of dollars in a desperate attempt to reflate asset prices and keep rates down.

Gold is suggesting foreign central banks are preparing for trouble.

Those aware and prepared will make fortunes. Those unaware and unprepared will likely take a hit … or worse.

It’s not the circumstances that are good or bad. It’s how well you’re prepared and how quickly you respond when things start moving quickly.

The warning lights are flashing. Better to be prepared and not have a problem, than to have a problem and not be prepared.

Now is the time to expand your education, understanding, and network … and fortify your portfolio, just in case.

Until next time … good investing!


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The Avengers Endgame and YOUR real estate investing …

You probably know The Avengers Endgame is the culmination of a 22-film decade-long extravaganza of EPIC story-telling.

What you may not know is how many great real estate investing lessons surround The Avengers Endgame.

Here are just a few … and don’t worry, there are no spoilers!

Lesson 1:  Businesses and their jobs will move to seek a better environment.

The Avengers Endgame was filmed at Pinewood Studios in Atlanta, Georgia … and NOT in Hollywood, California.

The Pinewood Studios website says Georgia is “the number one filming location in the world” according to this industry report by Film LA.

One of the reasons is ” … the highly competitive nature of tax credits …”

Over five years ago, the Los Angeles Daily News reported this trend …

Why TV, Film Production is Running Away from Hollywood

“ … they’re running away from here … primarily due to tax incentives offered in … states with rich tax credits such as Georgia …”

But it’s not just taxes, though they’re a BIG part.

As New York discovered when Amazon abruptly backed out of plans to bring 25,000 jobs to Long Island city for their much sought after HQ2 …

… it came down to a long-term environment that Amazon did not care to work in …”

And they’re not talking weather.  It’s the political environment.

So while YOU may or may not agree with Amazon’s or Disney’s politics or business practices … it’s important to remember how the businesses feel.

Learn to look at markets the way employers do … even if you disagree.

Lesson 2:  Get rich in a niche.

This is where LOCAL knowledge really helps.

As you might guess, creating a blockbuster film like The Avengers Endgame requires hundreds … perhaps thousands … of talented, highly-paid people.

While some workers are local to the studio, many come to town temporarily during production … which can last months.

These folks aren’t going to live in a hotel room or a trailer all that time, which means they need nice, local housing.  But they aren’t buying.  They’re renting.

Some investors we know figured this out … and developed an entire business model catering to the unique temporary housing needs of the film producers.

“What?  You didn’t see that coming?”

– Hawkeye to Quicksilver in The Avengers – Age of Ultron 

We learned about it during an Atlanta field trip years ago … and it made perfect sense then … and it still does.

After all, when a producer is driving hard and fast to execute on a high-stakes timeline to get a 9-figure film over the line …

… they’re deploying a LOT of capital really fast … and they need to get things off their checklist quickly.

Focus on the REAL needs of your customer and you don’t need to compete on price.

Lesson 3:  Primary drivers create secondary and tertiary jobs.

Even if you’re unable to get into the primary path of cash, there’s still a lot of opportunity to get in on the action … a little downstream.

When money is being drawn into a geography by a large enterprise or industry … the money flows through the primary driver to the locals.

So even though not all real estate investors are renting directly to members of The Avengers Endgame production team …

… there are plenty of employees of secondary local vendors who are also being paid out of the fat production budget.

Of course, it’s not just The Avengers Endgame budget, which is temporary.

The real driver is the CONSISTENT stream of production budgets drawn to Pinewood Studios.

But whether you’re deriving rental income directly tied to those production budgets via primary and secondary employees … there’s yet a third tier.

Even your tenants who don’t get paid directly from the production are working for the restaurants, shops, and other local businesses who serve those who are.

Just remember … it all starts with the PRIMARY drivers.

Pay attention to primary drivers and the rest will usually follow.

Lesson 4:  Always begin with the end in mind.

You may recognize this adage as one of The Seven Habits of Highly Successful People by Stephen Covey. It’s a powerful concept.

The Avengers Endgame is the capstone of a world-class case study in what “beginning with the end in mind” looks like in the real world.

Every film over a decade painstakingly added new characters and story-lines carefully woven together into a powerful tapestry of cinematography.

It’s a testament to thinking ahead.

Of course, there’s probably been many course adjustments along the way … as talent, opportunity, and even adversity, all manifested on the road to success.

In that regard, The Marvel Cinematic Universe is a lot like life and investing.

Yet very few folks we know are thinking that far ahead.  But perhaps they should be.

In the Create Your Future Goals Retreat, one important outcome is to define your personal mission, vision, values and most important goals … for ALL areas of your life.

With clarity of vision, you can make better small decisions about how you want to live and fund a life you’ll be pleased with when you put you head on the pillow for that very last time.

Take time to plan a happy ending for YOUR endgame. 

Lesson 5:  Big dreams take time to build.

In the 22 films from Iron Man to The Avengers Endgame, Marvel Studios patiently constructed an entire “cinematic universe”.

It made the concept of a trilogy seem tiny.  It was (and is) a BIG vision … and it took over a decade to develop.

In real estate, whether you’re assembling a powerful portfolio of properties or building a mega-million-dollar master planned development, it takes time and consistency to get it done.

Most people can’t think that big … and still pay attention to details at the same time.  And many that do, can’t stay the course.

But when you do, you have a chance to accomplish something extraordinary.

Think big.  Plan small.  Stay the course. 

Lesson 6:  Together Everyone Achieve More.

TEAM is a huge theme both inside and outside The Avengers Endgame story line.

From the first Avengers film, where a self-absorbed Tony Stark transforms into someone willing to make the ultimate sacrifice …

… to the violently divisive Captain America – Civil War and The Avengers – Age of Ultron where division nearly destroys the team …

The Avengers discover time and again their best chance for success is teamwork.

Of course, out in the real world, it took teams of writers, directors, actors, special effects, stunt people, production and marketing staff …

…  all working together with diverse skills, backgrounds, personalities and perspectives …

… to make The Avengers Endgame the BIGGEST box-office success in history.

If you have aspirations to build a great real estate investing business or portfolio … ESPECIALLY if you’re syndicating, you’ll need a team.

Build a great team.

Finally, to paraphrase Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow when she unleashed The Hulk to smash the baddies … Go be an investing hero.

Until next time … good investing!


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Powerful lessons from a simple saying …

It may sound like a medical condition, but an aphorism is actually a concise, memorable expression of a general principle or truth. 

We learned one of our favorites from a carpenter … (no, not THAT carpenter, though He had some good ones too) who advised … 

“Measure twice, cut once.”

That’s a LOT of wisdom in four tiny words. 

But even if you can’t tell the blade from the handle on your saw, there’s still much to be gleaned from considering this simple saying. 

The perhaps obvious message is it’s better to double check your plan BEFORE taking an action with permanent and potentially expensive consequences.

After all, measuring is fairly quick and inexpensive compared to rendering a valuable resource useless due to an incorrect irreversible action.

Of course, the flip side of double-checking everything is it takes twice as long to get things done.  That’s expensive too.  Time is money as they say.

So while we were sitting outside enjoying a frosty IPA and contemplating cloud formations and the meaning of life … 

… we wondered if there’s a way to measure right the first time so you can take quick and accurate action.

Because no matter what kind of market you’re in … the BEST deals go fast.  

And while you’re busy double-checking your math … someone else who’s faster and more skilled is writing the contract.

Measure twice and miss out.  Ouch … that’s no fun either.  Missing out on a great deal is a double hit … wasted time and missed profit.

So whether you’re a carpenter, tailor, flooring installer, or an ambitious real estate investor, it’s probably a REALLY smart investment to learn how to move faster with precision.

It comes down to education and experience. 

When you know what you’re doing and you’ve reinforced accurate actions through real world practice, you’ll make good decisions and take effective action faster. 

That’s a huge advantage in any market … especially hot ones.

Of course, this begs the question … how to gain the right education and experience?  And here again, we look at the trades. 

Craftsmen learn by doing.

Yes, there’s some classroom training to get familiar with concepts and terms.

But the REAL learning happens as they work as an apprentice under the watchful eye of an experienced mentor or “master” … and then as a fully qualified journeyman honing his craft through practice on a daily basis.

Some journeymen take on an apprentice and further develop their craft by mentoring as a master.  They learn by teaching in the real world.

Business and investing are much the same way … or should be.

So you can and should , listen to , and attend .  Ingesting good ideas is a great start. 

Sadly, this is where it ends for many people. 

They learn enough to get excited … maybe even take some action … and quickly get overwhelmed with information … or in over their heads in difficult deals.

Without experienced advisors and mentors to turn to at this pivotal stage … it’s easy to back away for fear of making an expensive mistake … or to press forward on sheer enthusiasm, only to hit a wall and lose both money and hope.

So here’s a tip …

When you consume content in the privacy of your own mind, consider that the primary purpose might not be to simply memorize answers or even stimulate ideas … although both are important.

Content is most useful for helping you recognize when you need some help in the real world, discovering who you can call, how to ask great questions, and for better understanding the answers your mentors and advisors give you. 

That’s why the mentor / apprentice model is arguably far more effective for developing mastery than the teacher / student model. 

Of course, finding the right mentor is a challenge.  Not all masters love to teach and not all mentors are masters.  

And in today’s complex world, you may need more than one … which is an even taller order.

The key is to focus on building good relationships with a network of masters and peers … people who have mastered or are mastering the same skills and activities you aspire to master.

And while you may need to invest money into some of the relationships you’ll need, it’s also possible to find good relationships in groups you join or .

We think content is a great tool to bring the right people together and give you things to connect on and talk about.   

And don’t be surprised if you end up doing some business together.  Although we’ve found if you make transactions the focal point, you’ll dilute the learning.

Our suggestion for your interaction with mentors, apprentices, mastermind groups, and even investment clubs … is to focus on learning, sharing, encouraging, and edifying each other. 

We think you’ll find any deals which happen based on this mutually edifying relationship will often be much better than deal speed-dating.

Of course, like most things valuable, it’s hard work to build a great network and endear yourself to a group of high-performers.  It can be a little intimidating.

But when you push through, you’ll have a powerful support network that helps each other find opportunities, navigate obstacles, and solve the most pressing challenges … faster.

And because it’s so hard, most people won’t do it.  So once YOU do, you’ve got an extremely rare and valuable asset.

Some investors do deals.  Others build a portfolio.  Some build a business.  

Those that build a tribe create something more valuable because it accelerates the development of all those things … and more.

Until next time … good investing!


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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.


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