Ask The Guys — Smart Moves with Equity, Liquidity, and Debt

It’s time for Ask The Guys … the episode where you ask and we answer!

People are facing perilous times and wondering what to do to prepare.

Today, we’re tackling questions about tapping equity while it’s still there, getting liquid just in case, and dealing with debt decisions in an uncertain economy … and MORE!

This edition is all about making smart moves in a crazy world. 

But remember … we offer commentary, education, and resources … not advice. 

Always consult with tax or legal professionals before making any investment decisions. 

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

  • Your equitable host, Robert Helms
  • His indebted co-host, Russell Gray

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What is up with debt?

Our first question comes from Tim in Grand Haven, Michigan. He is currently learning all he can to switch from investing companies to investing in rental properties. 

But … Tim wants to know, what is up with debt? “I keep hearing and reading how it can be used for good,” he says. 

How can the upside of debt outweigh the downside of the risk that it brings?

This is a great question because it is a fundamental principle of real estate investing. One of real estate’s great benefits is leverage … the fact that we can use debts. 

First, there’s nothing wrong with being debt-averse. When you are talking about consumer debt … paying interest out of the sweat of your own back … then, yes, you don’t want to be in debt. 

You only want to be in debt when there’s a positive arbitrage … meaning that you are going to make money on the borrowed money. 

The reason this is so important today is that we’re in an inflationary environment … where inflation is the cause of your equity growth on your property, and you aren’t REALLY making progress. 

The only way to make progress is to grow faster than inflation. Debt allows you to do that. 

The last reason to use debt is when you have equity in the property … it’s exposed to predators and creditors, and there’s no way to shelter or hide it. Debt can actually help with asset protection. 

We will point out to Tim … and to all of you … that interest rates are at record lows, so your borrowing power is incredible right now. That’s another reason to consider debt. 

To be clear, we’re not here to talk you into going into debt. We know that people that invest in real estate with cash, and they do just fine. 

But, leverage can magnify returns. 

Where to go for equity

Kenny from Indio, California, wants to know if it’s better to do a takeout cash loan from his home or from a rental property. He has equity in both. 

If you have a lot of equity in the home you live in and you have a lot of equity in your rental home, you could go with either. 

But, there are strategic reasons why one or the other makes sense for your situation. 

It’s going to be cheaper to get equity out of your home … it’s not better so much in terms of cost but in terms of risk. 

When you put more debt in your home, you’re taking a risk … one that is going to be predicated on what you do with the proceeds. 

If you invest the proceeds into something that will provide enough cash flow to cover the cost of acquisition and make a profit, it might make some sense. 

We are personally big fans of converting equity into precious metals … but whatever you choose to do, you want to be more conservative with whatever you do in respect to your own home. 

For the rental property, you won’t be able to get as high a loan to value … meaning you won’t have access to as much of the equity. It’s going to cost you a little bit more. 

Like your own home, the risk depends on what you’re doing with the loan proceeds. 

Ultimately, you just need to take a look at the cost of pulling out equity, what you’re going to do with the money, and how secure you are in the rest of your portfolio, balance sheet, and cash flow. 

Getting liquid

Randy in Reinholds, Pennsylvania, has been hearing a lot about getting liquid by tapping equity, credit lines, or selling marginal assets. 

But, he wants to know how to balance the need for cash versus the likelihood of a falling dollar eroding your cash purchasing power. And he is wondering what other liquid assets … besides precious metals … where we would look to park dollars. 

There’s an old saying that the bank will never loan you money when you need it … but when you don’t need it, they are willing to loan you a ton. 

It often does work that way. 

If we’re sailing into headwinds, we want to have some cash. But if we know that the value of every dollar in our wallet is going down steadily over time … like it has been for over a hundred years, then we don’t want to hang on to too many dollars. 

Our good friend Robert Kiyosaki says, “Cash is trash.” 

It’s not that he doesn’t LIKE the things money will do for him. It’s that when you HOLD your money in liquid cash form, it virtually goes down in value all the time. 

Precious metals can be a great place to hedge up some of your wealth. But remember … metals don’t really change their value. 

When you see the price of gold go up … it means the value of the dollar has gone down. 

There are reasons to have cash where you won’t lose all the value as the dollar continues to erode … like real estate. 

If you’re aggregating cash in anticipation of real estate prices falling, then really, in terms of your purchasing power, your dollar is going up in value. 

We also like to have both cash in the bank and out of the bank. Keeping your cash in the bank under the $250,000 limit will also protect you during a crisis. 

Another relatively liquid asset to park dollars is an apartment building … because every month an apartment building converts that month into dollars. 

And guess what? As the dollar erodes, the value of rent goes up … giving you more cash flow. 

The demand for apartment buildings … more than single-family homes, more than almost any real estate … has been so strong that if you were willing to list it at anywhere near market, you could get a fast sale. 

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 – Smart Moves with Equity, Liquidity and Debt

People are paying attention to these perilous times and wondering what to do to prepare.

In this edition of Ask The Guys, we tackle questions about tapping equity while it’s still there, getting liquid just in case, and dealing with debt decisions in an uncertain economy … and a whole lot more!

So tune in as we talk making smart moves with equity, liquidity and debt in a crazy world.


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!

Something weird is happening with mortgages …

Real estate investing is largely the business of using debt to acquire streams of income and build oceans of equity.

In the hands of a professional real estate investor, mortgages are like a super-charged power tool … making the job of wealth building easier, faster, and more profitable.

Of course, powerful tools in the hands of amateurs can do a lot of damage … hacking off chunks of equity or creating wounds which hemorrhage cash flow.

But in all cases, for any investor who has, or is building, a lot debt in their portfolio … it’s wise to pay close attention to the condition of credit markets.

Sometimes new tools create opportunity. Sometimes there are hints that something might be breaking down.

In a little more esoteric corner of our news feed, we noticed a potentially concerning headline …

MBS Day Ahead: Another Chance to Watch MBS Suffer
Mortgage News Daily, 8/27/19

For the uninitiated, MBS isn’t referring to the controversial crown prince from Saudi Arabia. They’re talking about Mortgage Backed Securities.

Mortgage-backed securities are the vehicle Wall Street uses to funnel investment dollars into Main Street real estate.

As you may recall, it was Wall Street stuffing toxic sub-prime mortgages into the MBS they sold to institutional investors that triggered the 2008 financial crisis.

So it’s well known that MBS suffering can lead to serious Main Street suffering, especially for aggressive users of mortgages … like real estate investors.

The notable takeaway from the article is this chart which shows mortgage rates have decoupled from 10-year Treasury yields …

image

Source: Mortgage News Daily

According to The Real Estate Guys™ secret decoder ring, this means mortgage rates aren’t falling as far as fast as those of the 10-year U.S. Treasury bond.

This is notable, because it’s generally accepted among mortgage pros that the two are inextricably linked … because it’s always been that way.

But not now. Weird.

Of course, it begs the question … WHY?

According to the article, bond “traders are citing increased supply … with an absence of buyers …”

Now you can see from the chart, this has only been going on for a couple of weeks … so perhaps it’s just a little anomaly and nothing to freak out about.

But just like some war vets have panic attacks when a backfiring engine pops like live ammo, we get a little spooked when the bid on MBS dries up.

After all, it was MBS going no bid was the nuclear bomb which ignited the 2008 credit market collapse.

No one is saying another Great Financial Crisis is imminent … although for the aware and prepared, it could be a HUGE opportunity …

… but softness in MBS demand is a dot on the curve worth noting.

Looking at some other dots …

US home price growth slows for 15th straight month
Yahoo Finance, 8/27/19

“The market for existing-home sales remained soft in June despite some boost from lower mortgage rates as consumers remain wary of high home prices …”

Remember, home prices reflect the value of the collateral for mortgages being packaged up and put into mortgage-backed securities.

When property prices are rising, lenders (the buyers of MBS) see their security go up in the form of greater “protective equity” which insulates them from loss in the case of default.

Also, equity gained from rising property values creates greater incentives for the borrower to make the payments.

Sometimes, in a rising price environment, as lenders compete to make loans, they’re willing to take on more risk at inception …

… because they believe rising property values will increase their security over time.

So whereas a lender might really want 20-25% protective equity (75-80% loan-to-value) … they might be willing to originate a loan at only 10-15% to get the loan.

Then, as prices rise and equity builds, the lender quickly ends up with the protective equity they’re looking for.

But when prices slow or reverse, you’d expect the opposite …

FHA sets limits on cash-out refinancing
The Washington Post, 8/27/19

“Beginning Sept. 1, FHA borrowers will now be limited to cash-out refinancing a maximum of 80 percent of their home value.”

We’ve also heard rumors that Fannie Mae will be limiting access to cash-out loans on multi-family properties.  Stay tuned on that one.

Is this a meltdown? Hardly. But it’s a subtle shift in the wind which bears watching.

Meanwhile, rates are GREAT. Loans are still largely readily available.

And if you’ve got lots of equity and cash flow, now could be a great time to liquefy equity using long term debt while paying careful attention to cash flow.

If there’s a chance prime properties in solid markets will be going on sale in the not-too-distant future, you’ll want to be prepared to go shopping.

Meanwhile, there are still affordable rental markets offering reliable cash flows TODAY.

Repositioning equity from high-priced markets to affordable cash flow markets or product niches can be a great way to make your balance sheet work harder … without having to wait for a recession (or worse) to provide bargains.

After all, sometimes markets don’t crash suddenly or at all. They simply recede slowly for a season before ratcheting back up.  So sitting on the sidelines waiting for “the big one” could take your entire career. Base hits win games, too. Never swinging means you’ll never get on base.

Meanwhile, it’s probably a good idea to pay close attention to credit markets on the macro level and cash flow on the micro level.

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!