Is this a cure for coronavirus?

There are SO many things happening in the financial news and markets right now, it’s hard to focus on any one thing and say it’s the biggest story.

Obviously, the coronavirus panic is dominating headlines and airwaves everywhere.

And many of the other major stories such as stocks, bonds, interest rates, and oil prices all seem to be considered somehow a derivative of the coronavirus.

Of course, we just keep asking … what does all of this mean to real estate investors?

Two weeks ago, we posited interest rates would fall as investors piled into U.S Treasuries for both safety and speculation.

Of course, we were right … but not because we’re brilliant, but because it was SO obvious.  As Treasury yields collapsed, mortgage rates followed.

And because you never know how long these “sales” on cheap money are going to last, it’s a good idea to watch for clues … and then move quickly when opportunity presents itself.

The odds are the coronavirus scare will last months … but your uber-cheap mortgage can last for decades. Nice.

Last week, we dug a little deeper into the WHY behind collapsing rates after the Fed came out with an “emergency” rate cut.

Though billed as a preemptive strike to stop recession, most pundits viewed it as a lightly veiled attempt to calm traders and boost stock prices.

How’s that working out so far?

Of course, WAY before coronavirus, we’ve been pointing out …

… the financial system is fragile,

… the Fed’s intervention in the repo market is a potentially ominous sign,

… and gold could be flashing a “bridge is out” warning even as the U.S. economy is hurtling down the highway at a decent clip.

In other words, the coronavirus might not be a cause, just a catalyst.

Which brings us to the theme of today’s muse …

Insulation matters. And when the climate is extreme, people who don’t have it, want it.

Right now, MANY people are discovering their portfolios are naked and exposed to the extreme hots and colds of publicly traded financial markets.

Equity investors are experiencing nauseating drops and dizzying bounces … all within an overall trend which is flirting with becoming the mother of all bears.

Income investors are watching yields collapse 30-50% from already anemic levels. Savers and income investors were already suffering. Now it’s torturous.

When yields aren’t enough to live on, you have no choice but to consume equity.

And it’s hard to ride the equity roller coaster back up if you to get off at the bottom to eat.

It’s like a starving farmer who eats his seed corn has nothing to plant for food in the future. He eats now but is doomed in the long term. Equity consumption is suicidal.

So while the coronavirus might threaten your physical health, the vast majority of people who catch it will survive and go on to thrive.

But the effects of the panic on fragile financial markets are definitely making paper asset investors’ portfolios sick … and recovery could take a LOT longer.

Of course, most real estate investors are doing what they often do when these things happen … much popcorn, watch the fireworks, and cash rent checks.

Sure, if the storm is bad enough, it can blow your insulated, brick real estate portfolio over too.

But compared to the poor folks living in straw portfolios built only for sunshine, real estate looks pretty darn secure.

So it’s no surprise, that even the mainstream financial media are pointing out the safety features of real estate … at least what they think is real estate …

Don’t Panic – Buy REITs
Forbes, 3/9/20

These are the safest and highest dividend-yielding REITs as the coronavirus spreads, BofA says
– MarketWatch, 3/7/20

REITs And Bonds Rose Last Weeks As Global Stocks Fell
Seeking Alpha, 3/10/20

Of course, REITs are still publicly traded stocks … essentially a mutual fund collection of individual properties all put into one fund and offered in the Wall Street casinos.

So, while real estate is attractive in times like these, REITs are still subject to Wall Street volatility …

REITs fall in February amid broader market sell-off
Institutional Real Estate, 3/10/20

Perhaps obviously, the further you are away from Wall Street, the more insulated you are from insane volatility.

Of course, as a real estate investor, YOU already know this. That’s why you read commentaries like this, and probably don’t have much exposure to Wall Street.

But remember there are MANY MILLIONS of people who haven’t discovered real estate investing … yet. Or only think of it as Flip This House.

Of course, true real estate investing is about using low cost, long-term debt to acquire passive income and generous tax breaks …

… and enjoying superior cash-on-cash yields (compared to bonds), while benefiting from long term inflation … insulated from short term deflation.

Real estate is slow, boring, and STABLE. And right now, stable is sexy.

As we’ve said before, you’re not seeing headlines announcing rents have collapsed 50% in the last 90 days because of coronavirus. That’s short-term deflation.

And ten years from now, when this current panic and its ramifications have joined all the other freak-outs of the last 100 years in the dust bin of history … do you think it’s more likely rents and real estate values will be up … or down?

History says “up” in dollar terms … because the dollar has a 100+ year history of losing value against REAL assets.

And most of what’s going on right now … more printing, more debt, more deficits … is BAD for the dollar in the long term.

Sure, most people can’t escape the temptation to gamble. “Buy low, sell high” brainwashing makes it nearly impossible to resist Wall Street volatility.

But SOME people … especially more seasoned folks … will decide the Wall Street roller coaster is more nauseating than intoxicating … and they’ll want off.

So while we’re concerned about the coronavirus panic and its near term effects on the economy and the financial system …

…. we’re SUPER EXCITED about the lessons being learned by Main Street Americans.

Because when more of Main Street gets back to real investing … in real assets and cash flow …

… it could create a big flow of funds out of Wall Street into Main Street … where the real wealth comes from and belongs.

Last time we looked, there’s usually BIG opportunity when money starts moving. The key is to put yourself in a good position to help facilitate it.

So whether you choose to borrow lots of money flowing into bonds and acquire properties in your own account …

… or you decide to start a syndication business to raise private equity to pair with abundant and cheap debt …

… this isn’t a time to be hiding under your sheets with a bottle of hand sanitizer.

Yes, be careful and stay healthy.

But keep your eye on the long-term big picture. It’s easy to get lost in the hype and miss big opportunities that grow out of the chaos.

WORST investing advice ever … or is it?

Do you know how five of America’s richest families lost it all? 

Neither did we … until we saw an article in our news feed promising to tell all. So down the rabbit hole we went. 

After all, we’re STILL stinging from the 2008 wipe out. So any lesson about landmines on the road to building and preserving wealth is an enticing topic. 

And if mega-wealthy families can lose nine-figures, it makes street rat investors like us feel less bad about our six-figure screw-ups. 

The author of the article briefly describes the lost fortunes of Cornelius Vanderbilt, John Kluge, George Hartford, Joseph Pulitzer, and Bernhard Stroh. 

Aside from Vanderbilt (as in University) and Pulitzer (as in prize), you might not recognize the others. 

Hartford was a retailer … creating what’s described as “Walmart before Walmart” … the biggest in the world in 1965. 

But the fortune he built was squandered by heirs who could act like wealthy business moguls because they’d inherited the trappings. 

But they didn’t really know what they were doing. If you’re going to fake it ’til you make it … keep the stakes small until you know you know you’re capable. 

Stroh was a beer-maker (we like him already), but when he died, his sons took over and decided to expand faster than their cash flow could support. 

Their $700 million fortune went flat … along with their beer. Tragic. 

Kluge was a media mogul who sold a network of TV stations to what is now Fox for $4 billion. That’s a lot of popcorn. 

Divorce divided the Kluge fortune, and the ex-wife dumped ALL her money into a down payment on a vineyard … to which she added a big mortgage. 

Perhaps unsurprisingly the business failed, the land was lost in foreclosure, and some true real estate investor named Trump picked it up for pennies on the dollar. 

The lesson? 

Well, according to the article’s author, the former Mrs. Kluge should have put her fortune into … wait for it … 

“… low-risk investments like certificates of deposit (CDs), which are insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) up to $250,000 per individual.” 

Really? 

But then an astonishing admission … 

“…CDs are promissory notes — essentially IOUs …” 

We’re guessing this author has never heard of counter-party risk, interest rate risk, or inflation risk. Savers take on ALL those … plus lost opportunity. 

Savings in the bank is FAR from safe. 

And while $250,000 of FDIC insurance is great … up to $250,000 … we’re pretty sure Mrs. Kluge was dealing in more sizable sums. 

So the advice in this article is HORRIBLE. 

Or is it? 

As dumb as it is to make a giant unsecured and uninsured low interest loan to a bank, for someone with no financial education, it’s almost reasonable. 

Of course, in the real world, when big money needs a place to “deposit” huge sums of cash … i.e., make low interest rate loans … they go straight to the source: government bonds. 

After all, if the bank fails, they’ll turn to the FDIC (which is woefully underfunded and arguably insolvent), which would then turn to Uncle Sam (ditto), who would turn to the Fed … who just funds everything with inflation (stealing from the workers and savers). 

Read that all again and REALLY think about it. 

But the bigger lesson from the article is … 

“Make informed investments …” 

However, rather than dumb down your investments to your current level of financial education … 

… we think it makes a LOT more sense (and dollars) to RAISE your financial knowledge by investing first and foremost in yourself, your advisor network, and an investor mastermind group. 

In other words, get smart and surround yourself with smart people. 

Money doesn’t make you smart. But smarts can make you money. 

The tragedy of our time is millions of people are facing a bleak retirement because of the pervasive fraud and mismanagement of pensions … 

… the hidden and misunderstood wealth-stealing cancer of inflation … 

… a dangerous ignorance of the important difference between speculation and investing … 

… and a false focus on net worth over passive income as the ultimate metric of wealth. 

You can read the referenced article yourself for the rest of the stories of the rise and fall of the rich families. You’ll find they’re all variations on a theme. 

Our reason for drawing all this to your attention is to remind you that most mainstream financial media is loaded with dumb ideas and devoid of any understanding of the wealth-building power and resilience of income property investing. 

Yet the need for Main Street investors to tap into the power of real estate has never been greater … 

The Fed continues to DESTROY savers. 

Yet ignorant (though perhaps well-meaning) journalists promote saving in banks … loaning money to broke and corrupt institutions which are backstopped by broke and corrupt institutions … as a panacea of safety in uncertain times. 

Wall Street continues to promote “buy low, sell high” speculation as an “investing” strategy. It’s not. 

Besides, Main Street investors are ill-equipped to swim in the shark invested waters of Wall Street for long without losing a few pounds of flesh … which is the entire reason they keep being invited to swim. 

Of course, we’re preaching to the choir. You’re probably already sold on real estate investing. 

But our point is the world needs YOU to be an outspoken, well-prepared, advocate for REAL real estate investing. 

Average people can produce WAY above average results with much less risk though well-managed income producing properties in solid markets and properly structured with optimal leverage for resilient cash-flow, inflation-destroying leverage, and tax-defying deductions. 

If you know real estate, we encourage you to teach it. 

And if you’re a proven producer of real estate profits, consider starting a syndication business to partner your skill with other investors’ money. 

No matter how you do it … join the crusade to move money out of banks and Wall Street and back where it came from, belongs, and does the most human good … on Main Street. 

Until next time … good investing! 

The world’s out of control …

The second decade of the last century are known as The Roaring Twenties.

Good times were fueled by abundant currency from the newly formed Federal Reserve … and the resulting debt and speculation which ran rampant.

As you may know, it ended badly.

The Great Depression ensued … an event which ruined lives, fundamentally changed the United States government, and took decades to recover from.

Today, we’re on the threshold of the second decade of this century.

And once again, the United States is “enjoying” a Fed-fueled party of absurd debt and speculation.

Will it end badly this time?

Or will the lessons learned from the 1929 and 2008 debacles provide the necessary wisdom to ride the free money wave without an epic wipe out?

No one knows.

But as we say often, better to be prepared for a crisis and not have one … than to have a crisis and not be prepared.

Last time,  we discussed some of the gauges we’re watching on the financial system dashboard such as gold, oil, debt, the Fed’s balance sheet, bonds, and interest rates.

But of course, we can’t control any of these things.

That’s why we think it’s very important to control those things you CAN control … so you’re better positioned to navigate the things you can’t.

Fortunately, real estate is an investment vehicle which is MUCH easier to control than the paper assets trading in the Wall Street casinos.

And if history repeats itself, as Main Street investors who are riding the Wall Street roller coasters get spooked … many will come “home” to the Merry-Go-Round of real estate.

For those of us already there, this migration of money creates both opportunities and problems.

Like any investment, when lots of new money floods in, it lifts asset prices.

While this generates equity, unless you sell or cash-out refinance, your wealth is only on paper. And equity is fickle. Cash flow is resilient wealth.

Meanwhile, when prices rise higher than incomes, finding real deals that cash flow is much harder. We’re already seeing it happen.

The key is to move up to product types and price points where small, inexperienced investors can’t play.

Of course, this takes more money and credit than many individual investors have. That’s a problem, but also an opportunity.

Another strategy is to move to more affordable, but growing markets.

This also takes an investment of time and money into research, exploration, due diligence, and long-distance relationship building … unless you happen to live in such a market.

So once again, this is better done at scale … because the time and expense of long-distance investing is hard to amortize into one or two small deals.

Bigger is better.

It’s for these reasons, and many more, we’re huge fans of syndication

Syndication allows both active and passive real estate investors to leverage each other to access opportunities and scale neither could achieve on their own.

But whether you decide syndication is a viable strategy for you …

… to take more control going into what history may dub “The Tumultuous Twenties” …

… it’s important to have a game plan for developing both yourself and your portfolio.

So here’s a simple process to take control of your investing life, business and portfolio heading into a new decade …

Step 1: Cultivate positive energy

It takes a lot of energy to change direction and compress time frames.

Building real wealth with control requires learning new things, taking on new responsibilities, and building better relationships.

So it’s important to put good things into your mind and body …

… be diligent to put yourself in positive environments and relationships, while limiting exposure to negative ones …

… and stay intentional about focusing your thoughts and feelings.

That’s because what you think, how you feel, and what you believe all affect your decisions and actions. And what you do directly impacts the results you produce.

Improving results starts with a healthy body, mind, and spirit. More positive energy allows you to pack more productivity into every minute of the day.

Step 2: Establish productive structure

This also takes effort. That’s why we start with cultivating energy. But being effective isn’t just about expending energy.

There’s a big difference between an explosion and propulsion.

Structure helps focus your energy to propel you to and through your goals.

Structure starts with getting control of your schedule. Time is your most precious resource … and you can’t make more of it.

But structure also includes your spaces … your home, office … even your vehicles and devices. They should be organized to keep you focused and efficient at your chosen tasks.

Yes, you can and should delegate to get more done faster.

But even if delegation is your only work (it’s not … learning, monitoring and leading your team, making decisions … those stay on your plate) …

… you’ll need spaces conducive to focus, with access to resources and information, so you can organize and delegate effectively.

Then there’s legal, financial, accounting, and reporting structures.

Once again, all these take time and energy to get together. So start by cultivating energy and taking control of your schedule.

Step 3: Set clear, compelling goals with supporting strategies and tactics.

You might think this comes first, and perhaps it does.

However, you can cultivate energy and establish fundamental structure as a universal foundation for just about any goals.

But whenever you choose to do your goal setting, it’s important to establish a very clear and compelling mission, vision, set of values, and specific goals for yourself, your team, and your portfolio.

This clarity will help you more quickly decide what and who should be in your life and plans … and what and who shouldn’t.

When you have clarity of vision, strategy and tactics become evident.

Step 4: Act relentlessly

We think it’s important to “keep your shoulder to the boulder” … otherwise it rolls you back down the hill that you’re working so hard to climb.

Fortunately, as you use your newfound energy and structure to act relentlessly towards your goals, you’ll eventually enjoy the momentum of good habits.

Lastly, be aware that this is a circular process … not a linear one.

You’ll keep doing it over and over and over. That’s why having an annual goal setting retreat is an important time commitment on your calendar.

We don’t know if the 2020s will be terrible or terrific at the macro level.

But history says those at the micro level who prosper in good times and bad are those who are aware, prepared, decisive, and able to execute as challenges and opportunities unfold.

Those are all things each of us can control.

Ask The Guys – Cash Offers, Crappy Properties, and More

We’re back again to tackle the questions we missed in our last Ask The Guys episode. We love these episodes and the opportunity we get to talk through some of YOUR real-world investing opportunities and challenges.

We hear from listeners dealing with tenant damage and security deposits, 1031 tax-deferred exchanges, nontraditional lending ideas and TONS more.

First, the ground rules.

We talk about ideas and information. When you’re dealing with real money in the real world, you want to consult a professional. We don’t offer legal, investment, or tax advice.

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

  • Your problem-solving host, Robert Helms
  • His trouble-making co-host, Russell Gray

Listen

 


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Question: How soon can I move in after a cash offer, and how low can I go under the asking price?

Joseph in Tacoma, Washington, asked this question. The important concept to understand here is price versus terms.

Whether or not you offer cash or take out a loan, the outcome is essentially the same for the seller. What cash offers is a quicker payout with certainty.

But, this isn’t attractive to every seller. In some cases, a quick closing isn’t what a buyer wants at all, so the promise of quick cash won’t be an incentive.

When you’re negotiating with cash, make sure what you’re offering lines up with the seller’s priorities. A cash offer doesn’t automatically mean a 20 percent discount.

Question: I rehabbed a rental property in Detroit, and now I’m ready to sell. My tenant wants to purchase the property, but she has limited cash on hand. How can I find a lender to do the deal?

Wilbert in South Field, Michigan, brings us this question. He wants to sell the home for $38,000, but the appraisal came back at $20,000. That price gap, as well as the location has made it difficult to find a traditional lender.

The first problem is that many banks won’t do a loan for less than $50,000. If the lender is going to go to all the trouble to do the paperwork for a percentage of the loan amount, then the loan amount needs to be enough to get their attention.

Here are a couple alternatives for Wilbert to consider:

  • Find a private lender. This might mean a higher interest rate for the buyer. But, that higher interest rate will be more likely to attract a lender.
  • Be the private lender. Rather than finding an outside investor, work a deal with the tenant to have them pay the loan to you instead. If they pay off the mortgage, you’ve still had that steady stream of income. If not, you’ll get the property back to rent or sell to someone else.
  • Find a different buyer. If finding a private lender isn’t possible, consider finding a different buyer who is able to get financing or purchase the home for the price you want to sell.

Question: When a tenant in our out-of-state rental moved out, they caused a lot of damage. Why don’t tenants take care of their rentals better, and why are they surprised when they don’t get their deposit back?

Renters view their home differently than an owner. How else do you explain that it feels like no renter owns a vacuum cleaner?

Damage to property is part of doing business as a landlord. But, Lauren in Charleston, South Carolina, did a lot of things right. They documented all the damage with photos before the tenant moved out, had a third-party realtor do a final walkthrough with the tenant, and got estimates from contractors to repair the damage.

Here are a few other things you can do to deal with damage:

  • A picture is worth a thousand words. Take photos of the property BEFORE the new tenant moves in and get their initials on the photos. Then, when they’re ready to move out, you can use those photos to justify the cost of any damage.
  • Open up a pet policy. Many landlords are hesitant to allow pets in a rental. But, with a hefty pet deposit and even a little higher rent, you can come out on top.
  • Get a read on your renters. As you screen applicants, be perceptive. We’ve also known people who will meet with potential renters at their current residence to see how they treat their current space. This may not be possible for everyone, but get creative and thoughtful about how you screen new renters.

At the end of the day, renters are more likely to treat a rental home with less care than you do. Damage and repairs are a cost of doing business, so make sure you build that into your budget.

Question: I want to sell my rental home in California, and I’m interested in the 1031 tax-deferred exchange to buy a new property in Texas. I’m confused by the IRS form and want to know if this will eliminate my taxes in California?

Cindy in Fort Worth, Texas, is definitely an A student!

First of all, we want to be clear that with this kind of complicated tax question, you need expert opinion and advice. A 1031 tax exchange intermediary will be well worth the cost and can answer all your questions.

The intent of the 1031 tax-deferred exchange is that if you sell a property and then purchase another property, you can defer the tax. As you buy and sell properties, you can continue to defer the tax, but there isn’t a way to eliminate the tax completely.

Finally, try not to let the tax tail wag the investment dog.

Real estate offers many great tax benefits, which is one of the reasons we love it! But, when you’re dealing with real money and the IRS, you need a team of experts to guide you.

Life is short, and you don’t want to spend your valuable time reading an IRS form.

Question: How can I learn more and get coaching on real estate syndication?

Addie in Seattle, Washington, brings us a question that is near and dear to our hearts!

We recommend our Secrets of Successful Syndication seminar as your first step. Whether you want to be a syndicator and learn how to leverage money with a group of investors or invest passively in real estate, this is an event you’ll learn a lot from.

In this seminar, we’re teaching the strategies that have been a part of our investments for years.

We do have a coaching program, but you can only learn about it at the seminar during an OPTIONAL session after the two days are done.

If you want to register for the event and see if syndication is right for you, we’d love to have you!

Question: My wife and I have a real estate investment company with 23 doors under rent. We’ve found traditional lenders to be slow and cumbersome and want to simplify our lending process. How can we do this?

John and Karen in Troy, Ohio, are having trouble scaling their business because of lenders. They write that they’d be willing to pay a higher interest rate to make the process easier and more streamlined.

For traditional banks, the process is often necessarily slow. They need to do due diligence to make sure the investment is a good one.

Private capital is easier and faster, but it comes at a higher price. This can be done through syndication or networking to find interested investors. Make sure you’re well advised and working with big deals, and you’re well on your way.

We’d also suggest that with the rollback of some of the Dodd-Frank provisions, some of the restrictions on community lending have eased. If you haven’t checked in with your community lender recently, it’s worth getting to know them. They’ll get to know you and your entire portfolio of properties and could be a valuable resource.

Question: I wasn’t able to attend your events for the Future of Money and Wealth in Florida. But I’d sure love to get access to that information. How do I do that?

A listener in Hawaii wants to learn from the incredibly faculty we brought in to talk about how to keep up with the changing times in the economy.

This was a one-off event, and it was an incredible gathering of some of the best minds in a variety of subjects all focused on how to protect your wealth.

We recorded the event with a professional video crew and now have 20 different panel discussions and presentations available to watch.

You can visit the Future of Money and Wealth website to learn more or send us an email to future [at] realestateguysradio [dot] com. We’ll get you all the details on how to access these videos.

Question: My schedule seems to be always booked up by the time I hear about the Belize discover trips. Do you know the future trip dates for later in the year?

Tim in Silverton, Oregon, like many of us, has a busy schedule and needs to plan ahead!

To find out events as soon as possible and to get them on your calendar, get on our advanced notice list. Head to the events tab on our website. If you find an event there, and the date doesn’t work out, get on the advanced notice list and you’ll get an email letting you know about future dates.

Our next Belize discovery trip will be August 24-27, and registration is open now! We hope to see you there.

Question: What is the definition of a performing asset?

Matthew in Nacomin, Florida, asks us the shortest question in our inbox!

Simply put, a performing asset is something that puts money in your pocket. The more cash flow, the more equity. If you have something on your balance sheet that doesn’t put money in your pocket, it’s not a performing asset.

When you consider an asset you can go for a fat cow, a performing asset that will come at a premium but continue to deliver, or a skinny cow, a non-performing asset that needs some work to get it performing again.


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