Ask The Guys – Infinite Returns, Gold, Cap Rates, and Cash Flow

It’s your questions and our answers.

That’s right. It’s time for another segment of Ask The Guys … when we hear about the real-world challenges investors like YOU face every day.

We have another great collection of questions from our loyal listeners … covering everything from infinite returns to gold, proper reserves, compressed cap rates, and cash flow.

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 in-the-know host, Robert Helms
  • His go-with-the-flow co-host, Russell Gray

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The ins and outs of infinite returns

Our first question comes from Sean in Durango, Colorado, who wants to know more about the ins and outs of infinite returns.

This is a topic we are pretty passionate about … it was even the theme of this year’s Investors Summit at Sea.

The idea of an infinite return is pretty simple. It means that you’re investing on the house’s money.

In other words, you put up some money for a deal … to buy a property or be in syndication or grow crops … and at some point the deal has paid you back … and you’re still making money.

Maybe that takes a year or five years … but once you get all of your initial capital off the table, everything else that comes in is an infinite return.

Infinite returns are easy to do in real estate … but it DOES take time.

There are lots of different ways to chase an infinite return, like getting creative with financing and syndication … but the core concept remains the same.

You’re earning a return on no money at risk.

Purchasing real estate with other people’s money

Teresa in Claremont, California, wants to know more about using other people’s money to leverage the purchase of real estate.

Does it only work with people who have lots of money for a downpayment? Are there any lenders willing to finance 100 percent of a deal for a buy and hold?

Using someone else’s money doesn’t mean breaking into their house in the middle of the night or stealing from their bank account.

It means showing them the opportunity.

One of the primary sources of other people’s money are lenders. They’re in the business of putting capital to work for their depositors, for their shareholders, and sometimes for themselves.

Lenders put up some of the money for a deal in exchange for some portion of the return or a predictable income stream, like an interest payment.

You can also leverage other people’s money through syndication. If you need $1 million to do a deal, you can raise $100,000 from 10 different people.

There are lots of legal and ethical implications to a syndicated route like this … but it can be a great way to get started passively or if you’re interested in being a full-time real estate practitioner.

A lot of people think they have to have some sort of money to start with to do a deal. It helps … but you don’t have to.

What you do have to have is a deal that makes sense … because it’s going to end up being the collateral or the investment that your equity partners come to.

No matter what, you’re going to have debt … and you’re going to have equity.

The key is to look at how much profit is in the deal and figure out how much of that you can give away to different people for their participation.

And when all of that is done … is there enough leftover for you?

Finding a lender who will cover 100 percent of deal through a loan is tough … and the ones that do will usually be for a primary residence.

Protect your cash flow with reserves

Gary in Scottsdale, Arizona, owns four single-family rental properties.

The question on Gary’s mind is how to deal with the reality of net cash flow … one major expense can wipe out your entire annual cash flow.

It’s real and it happens. It has even happened to us.

We always … always … put contingencies and reserves in our pro formas.

A pro forma is your plan for the property … what you think the income and expenses are going to be.

There are two major places where you will need reserves.

When you buy the property, you can’t put 100 percent of your cash into the down payment and the property. You need to have some in reserve.

Most lenders require this. When you close escrow, they’ll want to make sure that you still have money in your bank account.

We also recommend that you take some reserve capital out of every month’s payment as the rent comes in.

Perform your vital functions … and then put a little bit aside. That amount depends on your projected plan for your property and what needs you anticipate.

The cause and effect of cap rates and interest rates

With cap rates compressing across the country, it has been said that investors should be careful to still maintain a good spread between the cap rate and the interest rate.

Drew in Chicago, Illinois, wants to know if there is a direct correlation between these two factors or if it’s just a general rule of thumb to indicate when a market might be overpriced.

We think this is a great question.

Capitalization rate … or cap rate … is determined using net operating income.

Cap rate doesn’t include anything to do with leverage or your loan … so there is zero correlation between cap rate and the interest rate.

But there CAN be cause and effect.

If interest rates are low and you can borrow money for cheap … you want to borrow more.

And if you want to go out and find a property, you’re going to find a lot of competition because rates are low.

So, you’ll bid up the price for the same amount of income … making the cap rate go down.

Leveraging from gold and real estate

Debra in Alpharetta, Georgia, wants some further insight into leveraging from gold and real estate combined.

Assets like gold and oil are basically proxies for the dollar.

We borrow in dollars. We lend in dollars. We invest in dollars.

When you start looking at the dollar, you see a long-term trend in loss of purchasing power … it’s called inflation.

Real estate investors use inflation to get rich by borrowing money from the future and bringing it into the present when it’s worth more.

So when you borrow … you have effectively shorted the dollar.

You can accelerate that process with gold.

If you look at the history of gold relative to the dollar, it basically stays the same as the purchasing power of the dollar declines.

Gold gives you the opportunity to hold some liquid wealth outside of the banking system and hedge against the falling currency.

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.


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America divided…

America Divided…

As much as Americans clamor for a UNITED states and ONE nation under (pick the deity or political leader of your choice)…

From a financial perspective, and in particular in terms of real estate, America is anything but uniform.

And that’s GREAT NEWS!

This is why real estate is such an effective investment vehicle… and why so many financial professionals don’t understand it.

Real estate is NOT an asset class or a market like financial pros are used to.

Properties aren’t uniform. They don’t trade in bundles on highly efficient high-speed electronic exchanges.

Every property is different.  The inefficiencies of real estate ARE the opportunity.

Ironically, the headline which triggered today’s topic comes from none other than Money:

The One Big Real Estate Trend You Need to Understand in 2017

The opening paragraph says it all…

“Forget a tale of two cities: Extreme housing market fragmentation is now creating different experiences for home buyers and sellers in a wide range of locations and segments.” 

News flash…  it’s been like that forever.  And it’s what geographically diverse investors THRIVE on.

But here’s an interesting observation from the article, which reinforces important lessons… some of which we’ve been commenting on for some time:

Small homes have seen a much sharper price growth than larger ones…” 

Makes sense.

With both nominal and real wage growth fairly soft, healthcare costs on the rise, and many workers still burdened with student debt… even with crazy low interest rates, it’s hard to buy the bigger home.

So although those are largely economic negatives, the consequences don’t hit housing equally.

That’s because less prosperity lessens demand for HIGH priced properties, while simultaneously INCREASING demand for affordable properties (and markets).

Nice.

Just like the 2008 financial crisis created a BOOM for landlords.  It was primarily the housing speculators who got crushed.

When people lost their jobs and homes, they rented smaller homes and apartments, found new (often lesser paying jobs), and though America become poorer in the aggregate… landlords of the right properties in the right markets became wealthier.

So bad times for the masses doesn’t necessarily mean bad times for YOU.

The bottom line is we don’t know what the future will bring.

Maybe Trump’s policies will make America great again.  Maybe they’ll crash the economy.

Maybe Peter Schiff is right (he was right about 2008), and no matter what Trump does… or if Hillary overthrows the vote and claims the Presidency… or if Obama declares himself emperor and refuses to leave… the amount of debt, deficits and promises will eventually overwhelm the economy and we’ll get the MOTHER of all crashes.

Yikes.

Just remember… real estate has survived depressions, recessions, high interest rates, currency collapses (yes, 1971 was a collapse), stock market crashes; Presidential assassinations, attempted assassinations and impeachments; hanging chads; AIDS, Ebola, Zirka; civil unrest, Reefer Madness and disco.

You get the idea.

Real estate isn’t going anywhere short of a revocation of private property rights or a life-ending collision with an asteroid.

The key is whether YOU and YOUR portfolio will survive.

We’d argue the fat spot in the middle is a safer bet… even though many say the middle class is being wiped out.

True.  But that’s only financially.

So instead of owning a big home in the suburbs in a pricey state, the no-longer middle class might need to rent a smaller home in a more affordable market.

And if YOU build a great boots-on-the-ground team in those more affordable, low tax, strong infrastructure markets… you’ll be there to meet their needs.

Sure, you could make more money faster playing at the margin… IF you get it right.  And maybe there’s some high risk room in your portfolio to play there.

It’s REALLY exciting when you buy a property for $500,000 and sell it a year later for $650,000.

But back to our article…

“Inventory has also risen at the higher end of the market, climbing almost 8% for homes in the $500,000 to $750,000 range.”

Sure, that’s just a data point on a curve.  But it’s a trend worth noting.  It says the higher end of the market is slowing down.

We got lots of lessons in 2008.  Many the hard way.  But we got them.

Speculators… people buying at a high price in a hot market hoping to sell quickly to the next guy or pull out free equity with cheap financing… got stuck with underwater properties and negative cash flow.

Ouch.

So we think it’s really smart right now to be hyper-attentive to YOUR market selection, team, property, financing structure, CASH FLOW… and maintain some liquid reserves both inside and outside the banking system.

Then pay attention.

If times are good,  the mega wave of Millennials, lower-middle class folks, immigrants attracted by opportunity (assuming we let them in), will all push up into the middle markets and price points.

But… you’ll have to work harder to find good deals.

This is where a GREAT local team who LOVES you is awesome.  They’ll help you exploit micro-inefficiencies and find great deals at the street level.

And if times are bad… even really bad… then all the folks who are riding high on today’s bubbles in the stock market, or have high paying jobs in debt-driven industries, might see the music stop.

They’ll move DOWN from the top… into more affordable markets and product types.

But good deals will be plentiful during the transition… just like in the wake of 2008.

Back then, those who had soundly structured portfolios, even if they were underwater, could hold on through the down trough.

And those who were both soundly structured AND liquid could go shopping to ADD to their portfolios at below-replacement cost prices.  Ah, the good old days!

As investors, we’re thankful the market isn’t level.  The schisms are where all the opportunity is.

Best of all, it’s guilt free profit.  

Because the only way you really succeed in income property investing is by collecting a portfolio of properties you’re committed to maintaining, and collecting a portfolio of tenants you’re committed to serving.

In other words, you do well by doing good…and we hope you do.

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.