Finding profits under the radar …

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

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

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

Makes sense.

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

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

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

Sovereign Wealth Funds, Private Equity Step Up MOB Acquisitions

For the unfamiliar, MOB stands for Medical Office Building.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now THIS is interesting!

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

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

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

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

That’s a clue.

How can Main Street real estate investors play?

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

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

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

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

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

Sounds like a tall order …

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

Single-family homes!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Another investing adage is, The trend is your friend.

Check.

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

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

No special zoning.  No commercial location.

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

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

Check.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Think about it …

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until next time … good investing!


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Uber announces plan to disrupt real estate …

This press release just hit the wires …

Uber Real Estate is Now Disrupting Real Estate with Their Uber Model

Okay.  That’s interesting.  Uber certainly disrupted the taxi business, so anyone interested in real estate should probably pay attention.

What’s the angle?

Well, according to their press release they’ve come up with the innovative value proposition of cutting commissions …

“Uber Real Estate is disrupting the traditional real estate brokerage brick and mortar business model by reducing the transaction cost by up to 50 percent using their unique on-demand model.” 

Of course, no one in the history of real estate has ever thought of that before … besides Help-U-SellPurple BricksAssist2SellRedfin, and probably many more.

BUT … we should be open minded.  After all, we were snarky about Bitcoin and missed out on a big pile of free money for adding no value.

Oops.  Sorry, more snarkiness.

Back to Uber’s press release …

“You will never again pay a full commission using Uber Real Estate.”

“Consumers receive Uber – Like Execution with only experienced professionals, no more drama and only substantive yes or no, answers.”

“Uber Real Estate provides Broker and Broker Attorneys with ten to thirty years of experience to the company’s clients.”

They actually do provide agency and work for the clients of the company as it should be …”

Consumers just want to go online and get it done with Uber – Like Execution.”

“ …we are completely website driven. An Uber, mobile application, for Real Estate, is under development.”

So let’s consider what all this really means …

From a practical standpoint, for real estate investors, we’re not sure there’s much direct impact.

Maybe if you’re flipping homes on thin margin, shaving a few bucks off the listing commission means more beer money … and extra profit is always nice.

Of course, we think if you need the agent’s commission to make your deal pencil … you don’t really have a deal.

But that’s not the point.  There’s a MUCH bigger picture here, which is why this blip of news caught our attention.

Uber’s a big brand with a powerful reputation for disruption.  They claim they can disrupt real estate.

But they are NOT real estate guys.  They’re tech guys.  Just ask us to fix a website, and you’ll realize there’s a HUGE difference between the two.

And THAT’s the point …

We often say that what you think and believe will affect your actions … and your actions produce your results.  So beliefs are at the root of strategy.

In this case, we see the solution being presented as the fruit of a core belief held by tech people … and many in the paper asset investing world as well …

… that real estate is a commodity, and brokerage is about facilitating transactions.

They think that’s a given.  We’re not so sure.

But because SO many people outside real estate believe this also, from time to time they attempt to enter the real estate arena with solutions which don’t really fit the actual problem.

In fact, the problem they’re trying to solve is actually what gives Main Street real estate investors opportunity.

Further, we’d argue that if they actually could solve the “problem”, it would dramatically change the opportunity that so many Main Street investors THRIVE on …

Real estate brokerage is inherently inefficient.  And the reason is because real estate is NOT a commodity.

EVERY property, ownership, and location is UNIQUE.

Even two houses on the same street, built by the same builder, are different …

… based on their condition, modifications, seller motivations, financing, and many other factors unique to the property and people involved.

In this case, Uber is focusing on properties marketed to and by owner-occupants, which means the idiosyncratic preferences and financial capacity of the buyers come into play.

Last time we looked, no two buyers are the same either.

Even if you’re talking income properties (which Uber isn’t, so to Uber “real estate” is just houses for homeowners) … there’s the tenant mix, payment history, property management skill, expenses, etc.

On other words, real estate is a diverse, complex, messy hot-bed of drama, inefficiency, and opportunity.

It’s why the paper guys can’t figure it out on an individual property basis.

Paper guys have to pool everything together into a REIT or mortgage-backed security, so they can blend it all into a single commodity they can focus on.

But you can’t do that with individual properties owned by individual sellers being marketed to individual buyers.

So Uber’s going to cut commissions “by up to 50 percent” so sellers will “never again pay a full commission”.

Yet somehow with 50 percent less, Uber will attract “only experienced professionals” who will deal with real estate transactions in a drama-free, binary, “yes, no answers” way?

Yes/no binarism is the epitome of tech think … but not real estate.

Real estate at the homeowner level is about feelings … yes, “drama” … and it’s quite the opposite of binary.  It’s more complexity theory.

Real estate agents are negotiators, not transaction facilitators.  It’s all very squishy.

Maybe Uber’s next project will be to automate hostage negotiations, corporate mergers, or international diplomacy.  Good luck with that.

Tech is GREAT for eliminating transactional inefficiency … and certainly there’s some of that in real estate brokerage.  But 50 percent?  Probably not.

The bulk of inefficiency in real estate transactions is the HUMAN component of the negotiation.  The art of the deal.

The skill-set of a great agent is that of uncovering and understanding the unique circumstances of the property …

… AND the unique needs, wants, desires, goals, and objectives of at least two (sometimes there’s family, advisors, and other influencers involved) very different principals …

… and then negotiating through the extremely non-binary thoughts and emotions of both sides.   And then, ultimately, getting a deal done.

This is why a SKILLED negotiator can get a GREAT deal.

So we don’t think there’s an app for that … nor will there be anytime soon because computers don’t do empathy very well.

Just ask anyone who’s called in to an automated attendant.

So while tech people bark up the wrong tree trying to solve the “problem” of transactional inefficiency in real estate brokerage …

… Main Street investors are busy CAPITALIZING on the opportunities created by the true cause of brokerage inefficiency …

Real estate is not a commodity and brokerage is not about transactions. 

Just like the properties and people involved, EVERY single transaction is unique … and full of drama.  Get used to it.

But that’s why real estate is both fun and profitable for those with the skills and temperament to embrace it for what it is.

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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Robert Kiyosaki on the Financial System, Fake Teachers and Real Assets

This summer, we spent time at events like Freedom Fest and the Red Pill Expo … where we bumped into some of our mentors and friends … folks like Peter Schiff and Robert Kiyosaki.

It’s not by accident we keep running into the same people. These folks all have the same desire … to read between the lines and find the TRUTH about what’s really happening in the world. And they don’t jump to conclusions.

Robert Kiyosaki has helped us see both sides of the story for decades. This time around we chat with him about his views on the financial system, fake teachers, and the importance of real assets.

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

  • Your very real host, Robert Helms
  • His faking-it co-host, Russell Gray
  • Best-selling financial author Robert Kiyosaki

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Get a REAL education

We spoke with Robert Kiyosaki at Freedom Fest. “I come to learn,” he says.

Freedom Fest and similar events … like the New Orleans Investment Conference are like a mental gym. “They challenge the way I think,” says Robert.

That’s one reason educational events are so important (like our Future of Money and Wealth webinar series, which features talks by Robert and many more financial gurus).

REAL education is more than just listening to the salespeople. It’s getting outside your cocoon and seeking out new information.

Invest in your PASSION

One idea Robert thinks is really essential in the investing business is to invest in what you love and enjoy. “I do think real estate is the best,” says Robert … that’s why it has been his bread and butter for years.

But maybe avocadoes are your passion … in that case, perhaps you should consider investing in an avocado farm.

You should always do your due diligence and work with a good financial planner … but investing in your PASSION will always be more successful than investing in something you’re “meh” about.

REAL assets, REAL money, and REAL teachers

“We don’t have a prayer as long as we’re working for money,” says Robert. He believes investors should steer away from money … in favor of REAL assets.

Investors should also surround themselves with REAL professionals … those who’ve done their research and know what they’re talking about.

A lot of people are in trouble because they’re learning from FAKE teachers, says Robert … people who don’t have a real conception of cash flow.

Two other things investors should be aware of … FAKE money and FAKE assets.

Be wary of a monetary system that isn’t backed up (by gold, for example), and don’t rely on traditional assets, Robert advises.

If you’re doing everything “right” … working a 9-to-5 job, putting money in your 401k, investing in stocks … you’re being screwed by the system, says Robert.

SMART investors have to learn to work WITH the system.

For more on FAKE versus REAL, check out Robert’s upcoming book FAKE, which will be released as an entirely digital series.

REAL talk about our financial system

Central banks control paper money … and that’s dangerous, says Robert. He cites people like Jim Rogers, who believes we’re headed for the worst crash yet because we have an abundance of printed money and debt.

“Tragedy follows printing money,” says Robert.

But it doesn’t matter how bad the system is … what matters is the actions YOU take. We like to say BE the Fed … don’t BEAT the Fed.

That means figuring out how to make the most of our financial system … knowing the tax laws and figuring out how to make them work for you.

“The next collapse will look like something we’ve never seen before,” says Robert.

But investors don’t have to be scared … if they prepare for the inevitable BEFORE it happens.

We talked with Robert about digital currencies, like Bitcoin. “Gold and silver were here before us and will be here forever,” says Robert.

But investors need to look at real assets (like property and gold), cybercurrency, AND paper money when they’re investing … because they’re the three big components of our current monetary system.

Smart investors work to figure out what is real and lasting.

For more from Robert Kiyosaki, read the classic book Rich Dad Poor Dad … if you haven’t already. And check out the Rich Dad Radio Show.

A REAL financial expert

Robert has been studying the financial system forever. He remembers the history of money and has watched the financial system change.

As we often say, “Those who fail to remember history are doomed to repeat it.”

You HAVE to understand financial fundamentals and the structure of our financial system before you can read the news and really SEE between the lines.

Like Robert says, a crash is highly likely … we can’t predict WHEN it will happen, but we CAN hedge against the eventuality of it.

Get educated … so you can stay on top of the wave when the tsunami comes.


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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.


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Don’t get lost in the lag …

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

At least for a while …

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oops.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And it happened FAST.

Which bring us to today …

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We just keep listening.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until next time … good investing!


More From The Real Estate Guys™…

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

Growing Profits Naturally with Farmland Investing

A diverse portfolio offers you a cushion … if one investment suffers, you won’t feel the impact across your entire portfolio. One method for portfolio diversification is to step outside home or apartment investing … and into farmland investing.

Investing in a commodity like produce or cattle allows you to lose your focus on an individual market and start focusing on the GLOBAL market for your product.

Like any real estate investment, there is a learning curve to figuring out agriculture … especially when you’re growing and exporting produce outside your home country.

But agricultural investments are worth the effort … they offer the best of all worlds, combining agricultural income with land banking and offshore strategy.

In this episode, global investor Carsten Pfau discusses his journey into the world of agricultural investing … and offers ideas on how YOU can get started as a passive investor in this low-risk option.

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

  • Your orange-loving host, Robert Helms
  • His like-a-lemon co-host, Russell Gray
  • Carsten Pfau, manager of a thriving international real estate business

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How Carsten Pfau got planted in Paraguay

Trees don’t understand what’s happening at the Fed. They just grow. And the fruit, vegetables, and nuts they produce fulfill a fundamental, permanent human need for food.

Bread-and-butter commodities like agriculture will be valuable forever … that’s one reason we were so excited to chat with agricultural investor Carsten Pfau.

Carsten’s family is established as real estate developers and investors in his native Germany and in South America.

He decided to shift from traditional real estate to agricultural investing for one big reason … “You can sell agricultural products word wide.”

That’s one reason agriculture is so great. It’s less about getting the MARKET right, and more about getting the PRODUCT TYPE right.

For Carsten, the primary product is oranges. He also grows vegetables and grazes cattle.

When he stepped into the Paraguayan market with his brother Michael Pfau, Carsten quickly realized oranges were a great choice. Eighty-five percent of the oranges sold in Paraguay are imported, so there’s a huge market for locally grown produce … and potential for favorable margins.

Why Paraguay? One reason is its competitive cost structure. Because it is a developing country, costs are low, but there’s tremendous opportunity to innovate and bring in new technology … resulting in excellent profits.

Paraguay is great, but in order to do business there, Carsten says he had to learn the language … and the mentality. Every nation has different cultural mores, and identifying and learning them is essential to business success.

Growing from the ground up

Carsten says growing his business was an “amazing process.” When he opened up his orange plantation to investors, he expected 10-15 people to join in.

Instead, he ended up with 500 investors.

Agriculture requires a scale approach … the larger you are, the more efficient you can be, and the higher your profits. That’s why Carsten started syndicating.

He also says demand for oranges is growing so quickly that the biggest challenge is growing more. It’s the opposite of traditional real estate … instead of recruiting buyers and renters, he can sit back and CHOOSE from all the buyers who are coming to HIM.

We asked Carsten how he figured out the science of agriculture.

Carsten told us every plant he buys for his home dies … so his oranges aren’t thriving because of his green thumb!

They are thriving because he has compiled a team of the best experts in the business. His advice for investors is to “never think you know it all.” Instead, admit your strengths and weaknesses and join forces with talented people.

Plant your feet in a plot of your own

Agriculture can be daunting because it requires a lot of specific knowledge. One option for investors who want to get involved but don’t have the time or interest to get their hands dirty is passive investing.

“People are interested in two things,” says Carsten, “owning land and getting a cut of the action.”

Carsten combined these two things in his own business by offering investors the opportunity to buy the rights to their own parcel of land … and then sign a farming agreement with his management company, which plants, cares for, and harvests the trees.

This type of investment offers the best of two worlds … a land investment that appreciates over a long period of time, PLUS regular income from the produce.

Investors do have to wait about four years after their initial investment to start seeing proceeds. That’s how long it takes orange trees to mature and start bearing fruit.

Parcels start at 1.2 acres. For an initial $35,000 investment, clients get payroll for the Pfau’s workers, pest control, watering, and the trees themselves … and they never have to pay anything again.

Profits range from $5,000 to $12,000 per plot per year … and continue for 25 years, the span of the trees’ life. That’s a pretty good ROI!

Why agriculture?

“I like traditional real estate and still do it,” says Carsten. But the approach is very different. Marketing, financing, and selling are all different challenges.

The upside? “Here we can sell nation- and world-wide.”

“I like that I can lean back and choose when to stop,” says Carsten.

And he’s confident in the longevity of demand for his product. The middle class across the world is growing … and they’re hungry for high-quality food and water.

Whether you’re in Latin America or on the other side of the world, food is a fundamental human need. Succeeding in the food production business lies in getting the right scale.

The right way to do it is to find a pipeline of deal flow that will allow you to leverage your due diligence into MORE deals.

In many international markets, new technology and techniques allow forward-thinking investors to create massive economies of scale … allowing both syndicators and investors to get decent returns.


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This is getting old … and that’s good

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

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

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

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

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

Or this one …

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

Or this one …

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Consider this quote from the “appreciation” report …

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

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

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

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

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

BUT …

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Residential assisted living homes.

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

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

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

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

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

Think about it …

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

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

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

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

Contrast this to a RESIDENTIAL operator …

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until next time … good investing!


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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.

Cover Your Assets Part 2 – International Structures for Extreme Protection

We live in a big world … one that offers benefits to those willing to step outside of their comfort zones.

In Part 1 of Cover Your Assets, we discussed domestic structures that can isolate and protect your assets in the case of legal trouble.

In Part 2, we’ll look at the bigger picture of asset protection.

We’ll discuss international asset protection structures and long-term wealth protection strategies … and we’ll also talk about what investors can do to protect their privacy and take advantage of tax laws.

It might sound complicated … but luckily, our guest Kevin Day is an expert in offshore asset protection and came on the show to simplify the topic for us.

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

  • Your world-traveling host, Robert Helms
  • His channel-surfing co-host, Russell Gray
  • Best-selling author and lawyer Kevin Day

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Trusts 101

Kevin sat down to chat with us in breezy Belize.

He points out that U.S.-based investors have to be on their A game … because in this country of extreme litigation, “A lawsuit is equivalent to a lottery ticket” … for the person suing YOU.

One way to protect your wealth from lawsuits? Trusts.

Kevin took us through a brief history of trusts in the U.S.

Trusts were formerly designed solely to transfer wealth from one person to another. Revocable trusts were invented in the 1930s to allow people to set up a way to transfer their estates … and make tweaks to the structure along the way.

It wasn’t until the 1980s that the U.S. allowed people to name themselves as the beneficiary of a trust for the first time.

These trusts allow you to segregate your assets … so you still have a decent lifestyle and you can reduce your liability.

“It’s a way to firewall the various parts of your life,” says Kevin.

Trusts are unique because they don’t have an owner … they exist independently from you. That’s why their lawsuit proof, says Kevin.

If you set up legal structures, including trusts, while the seas are calm, you’ll be able to handle the lightning when it comes.

And once you go through the process, you can pay more attention to MAKING money than PROTECTING your money.

Getting started

Although setting up trusts can seem tricky, it isn’t that overwhelming if you take it step by step. Investors should get started early.

Most lawyers don’t teach clients about inter-entity planning … but when Kevin gets new clients, he takes them through a step-by-step process to help them protect their assets.

Kevin starts by completing a liability assessment to see how much liability the investor holds.

He looks at what protections that investor already has in place. This includes projecting the investor’s future plans to develop a streamlined structure. Assets are divided into three categories:

  1. Zero-liability assets, like your cash portfolio.
  2. High-liability assets; for example, a company that has employees or uses third-party providers
  3. Assets that are in between, like real estate … high-value, high-liability assets are included here.

He uses these three categories to see how exposed clients are. He then checks to see whether investors are holding the proper insurance … usually a moderate amount.

After that, he works with the client to set up the appropriate structures that will provide the most protection in the simplest way.

Are you an investor wanting to get started with a trust? Kevin suggests building up to an offshore trust by setting up a domestic trust with decanting provisions that will allow it to move offshore gracefully.

The WHEN and WHY of international trusts

We asked Kevin when it was appropriate for investors to consider offshore trust options.

He told us that investors with a net estate of over more than 4 million … and that includes their home, business, and rentals … should absolutely set up offshore options.

That’s the point where all your creature comforts are taken care of and any extra money you’re taking in goes toward growing your real estate business.

Under 2 million, an offshore trust is not appropriate, simply because of the cost-to-benefit ratio.

Between that 2 and 4 million mark is where there’s some leeway. If you have a high-liability business, you probably shouldn’t go international. But if you’ve just hit a home run and you’re growing exponentially, then you should consider an offshore account.

Offshore options allow investors to lower their profile in case of a lawsuit, says Kevin. Lawsuits feel like blackmail … and what you look like from a public view will change the lawyer’s perspective.

Trusts can help you manage privacy concerns about how much of your wealth shows up on the public record.

Why is this so important? If you’re sued, there’s a discovery period where the other attorney can look at your assets.

Eighty percent of the time, says Kevin, those attorneys don’t look into how your assets are structured … and the other 20 percent of the time, they see international structures and think getting that money is more trouble than it’s worth.

Worry less with offshore trusts

Kevin says investors have three things to worry about:

  1. Taxation
  2. Privacy
  3. Asset protection

According to him, the great thing is that trusts help in all three areas.

Lawsuit protection trusts are tax neutral … and don’t rely on keeping secrets from the IRS. They also offer complete bars to anyone who wants access to your money.

What if you own property offshore? Americans who own foreign companies don’t have to pay tax until their income is repatriated. Setting up your income to be non-subpart F can be very easy, says Kevin … with the right professional help.

There’s no point in building up your assets without also protecting them so you don’t lose everything when disaster strikes.

Exploring your opportunities for asset protection means looking at offshore options.

So much real estate education is fun and aspirational. Asset protection is a down-and-dirty topic … but it’s SO important.

Being a real estate investor means dealing with real threats and the possibility of bad deals and mistakes. It’s essential to discuss what could go wrong … while everything is still going right.

That’s why we’re so glad to have an expert in offshore protection in our fold! We want YOU to know your options for asset protection so that if the lightning hits, you can have one piece of your business fail without everything else falling apart.


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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.

The dichotomy economy …

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

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

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

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

That all sounds awesome.

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

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

All that sounds mostly scary.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The bottom-line is …

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

How are YOU preparing?

Until next time … good investing!

More From The Real Estate Guys™…

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

Cover Your Assets Part 1 – Protecting Your Wealth Today and Tomorrow

An essential element of real estate investing is protecting the assets you’ve worked so hard to acquire.

When you’re just starting out, your investment business is pretty low liability. But as you acquire properties, the liabilities build up … and a legal problem with one property could cascade and affect your other assets if you don’t have the proper protections in place.

In this show, we’ll talk with a Rich Dad advisor on how to sort your assets into buckets so you NEVER lose everything at once.

Part one of this two-part series is for beginners and experienced investors alike. As John F. Kennedy said, “The time to repair a roof is when the sun is shining.” NOW is the time to put in place protections to keep you safe if troubles arise.

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

  • Your host, asset Robert Helms
  • His liability of a co-host, Russell Gray
  • Garrett Sutton, best-selling author and legal advisor to Robert Kiyosaki

Listen


***

 


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Firewall your assets

The society we live in is very litigious … and that’s not going to change any time soon. So what can investors do?

We talked to Garrett Sutton about precautions YOU can take to protect your assets as they grow.

Your best option, Garrett says, is probably an LLC, simply because they provide the best asset protection. An LLC allows you to firewall your assets so one lawsuit doesn’t set off a chain reaction that leaves you asset-less.

Why is an LLC better than a corporation? Besides better asset protection, LLCs offer more tax flexibility and charging order protection.

Charging orders are legal judgments that allow creditors to access the money you make through your business. But some states offer charging order protection to LLCs.

And, Garrett says, most lawyers prefer to go through insurance so they can collect right away. So ideally investors have two firewall protections … an LLC or corporation AND insurance to back them up.

Some states, like Utah, California, and New York, don’t provide great asset protection for LLCs. Creditors can blow through the LLC and force the sale of assets … not ideal.

What can you do if you live in a state that doesn’t have the best rules for entities? Garrett reminds us you DON’T have to form an entity in the same state as your property or your residence.

How to set up your own LLC

While setting up an LLC may sound onerous and difficult, Garret says it’s really not that hard. There are two main steps:

  1. Set up an LLC in the state you want.
    1. Pick a name and make sure the name is available
    2. File your articles of organization, operating agreement, and certificates.
  2. Transfer the title of your property into the name of your LLC. This is NOT a sale … simply a transfer.

While there are plenty of websites advertising do-it-yourself LLC help, it’s much better to talk to an attorney, says Garrett.

A certified legal professional can walk you through all the steps and help you understand which business decisions are right for you.

And, an attorney will help you stay aware of formalities … the easy-to-follow rules that will keep your LLC safe from legal troubles.

Fine-tune your asset protection strategy

Garrett is a best-selling author. His books on starting your own corporation or LLC cover the strategies and techniques YOU can use to increase wealth and reduce risk.

A technique SOME people use is changing their LLC from partnership taxation to C or S corporation taxation.

That’s fine, says Garrett … as long as you don’t forget to amend your operating agreement.

Business decisions as simple as tax changes have many permutations we don’t even think about … another reason an asset protection attorney is essential.

Other investors are looking into offshore asset protection trusts. Something some investors don’t realize is that more than 10 states have created onshore trusts. But while these trusts make your money bulletproof, recent cases have demonstrated that it’s only bulletproof in the state where you’ve set up the trust.

Although there are many tricks for upping your protection level … and your wealth … investors don’t need 17 layers of LLCs.

They also don’t need to spend a ridiculous amount of money to form an LLC. For example, a Wyoming LLC provides great protection levels, for only $50 a year (plus any legal fees).

And LLCs don’t mean you’re locked into operating decisions. You have the latitude to make changes. LLCs are flexible!

Interested in delving deeper into the legal realm of asset protection? Delve into what Garrett has to offer on his website.

And while Garrett provides affordable asset protection and legal services, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t seek out your own legal help … just make sure the people you work with are serious about helping small investors stay on top of corporate formalities.

In part two of our asset protection series, we’ll delve deeper into the legal world with a discussion of offshore asset protection strategies. Listen in for info on taking your profits outside of the States!


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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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Think about it …

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hmmmm … that’s weird.

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

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

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

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

But that’s not happening.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Is that bad?  It depends.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until next time … good investing!


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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.

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