Hidden costs that hike housing prices …

As the political cycle ramps up, housing affordability might get some attention. And it’s more complex than you might think.

Obviously, housing policies have the potential to affect YOUR real estate investing … so it’s smart to pay attention.

Of course, there’s always risk in talking politics. Everyone has heroes and talking points. Sometimes it’s hard to take the filters off and consider all perspectives.

Fortunately, we’re not here to promote or protest a policy or a politician. Life’s too short for that.

Instead, our focus is on what people in power are thinking and doing … and how it affects our strategic investing.

In case you missed it, President Trump recently signed an Executive Order to take on the lack of affordable housing.

According to the announcement, the EO establishes a White House Council tasked with “tearing down red tape in order to build more affordable housing.

This ONE sentence reveals much about how the President views the problem … and reflects his background in real estate.

So let’s put our red or blue foam fingers down and consider the landscape the way it’s being planted by the powers that be … and how things might change if a new sheriff comes to town.

Components of Affordability

Housing affordability is a relationship between incomes and mortgage payments or rents. It’s not about price as much as it is the gap between income and housing expense.

It’s no secret housing prices and rents have been rising faster than real wages.

And the longer this goes on, the more people get pushed off the back of the affordability bus.

Ironically, it’s often the attempts at creating affordability which inadvertently makes things unaffordable. Will that happen this time?

Past national policy efforts focused on increasing the availability of financing, while many local efforts include legislating lower rents.

History shows easy financing actually makes housing more expensive … just like student loans made college more expensive.

This confounds typical politicians.

But it’s simple. Financing increases purchasing power … and newly empowered buyers bid prices up. Of course, sellers are happy to oblige.

Consider what happened to housing after the Clinton Administration lowered government lending standards in late 1999 …

Looser lending combined with the Fed’s then unusually low interest rates (trying to reflate stocks after the dotcom bust and 9/11 attacks) …

… drove real estate prices up, up, up in the early 2000s.

Everything was great until derivatives of those sub-prime mortgages imploded the bond market and crashed not only real estate prices, but the global economy.

So again … easy money doesn’t make things affordable. It inflates price bubbles which eventually collapse. Not a great plan.

Interestingly, President Trump is badgering the Fed to drop rates.

He says lower rates are necessary to keep the U.S. competitive in international trade … and to lower the interest expense of ballooning federal debt.

Some claim Trump’s trying to prop up the stock market heading into the election cycle, which is probably true.

In any case, based on this EO, Trump’s push for lower rates doesn’t appear to be intended to drive housing prices UP.

Of course, that doesn’t necessarily mean he wants to drive prices down either.

After all, there are many constituencies with vested interests in keeping values stable or growing.

Banks depend on property values to secure the mortgages they make.

Local governments depend on high values for property tax calculations.

And of course, property owners (who also happen to be voters), use high property values to feel rich or to tap into for additional purchasing power.

On the other hand, there are a growing number of disenfranchised voters who struggle with rising rents and are watching the dream of home ownership become more elusive.

When we asked then-candidate Donald Trump what a healthy housing market looked like in a Trump Administration, he simply said, “Jobs“.

Fast forward to today, and we know President Trump has been trying to re-organize the economy to produce more higher paying jobs.

Of course, the jury’s still out on whether he’ll succeed. But that’s the plan. And if he is successful, it will help close the housing affordability gap.

Of course, rising wages are useless if housing prices continue to outpace them … which brings us back to this affordable housing executive order.

When we put all this in a blender and hit puree, it seems to us crashing housing prices can’t be the goal.

Instead, we suspect the purpose of increasing supply is to moderate excessive price growth … while giving incomes a chance to catch up.

So on the housing supply side, President Trump’s Executive Order presumes to stimulate development by REDUCING regulation.

This is an unusual tactic for a politician. Politicians of both stripes are infamous for MORE government, not less.

Maybe Trump is still thinking like a real estate developer.

In any case, we visited the National Association of Home Builders website to see what active home builders think of the Trump approach.

They describe Trump’s EO as “a victory for NAHB” because “it cites the need to cut costly regulations that are hampering the production of more affordable housing…”

According to NAHB, regulations add SIGNIFICANT costs to development

“… regulations account for nearly 25% of the price of building a single-family home and more than 30% of the cost of a typical multifamily development.”

Think about that. These are YUGE numbers. 😉

Of course, the odds of reducing regulations and their costs to absolute zero are … absolutely zero. There’ll always be some regulation.

But even if regulatory costs are substantially reduced, there are other factors to consider (we told you it was complex) …

Components of Cost

When bringing a real estate development to market costs include land, material, capital, labor, taxes, energy, and regulation.

Once built, you can tack on marketing, sales, and costs of operation until the product is sold or leased up. So, regulation is just one of many pieces of the equation.

Watching President Trump operate, it seems he attempts to manipulate components of cost as you’d expect from a typical real estate developer … making trade-offs to get things done in time and on budget.

The Opportunity Zones program is an attempt to move economic activity to where land is less expensive.

As mentioned, he’s aggressively calling for lower costs of capital (interest rates).

And the already passed Trump tax reform is delivering tremendous tax incentives for real estate investors.

As for energy, Trump opened up domestic oil production while pushing for lower oil prices.

And with his recent EO, Trump is going after costly regulation in the home building sector.

All that checks a lot of boxes.

Of course, there’s the issue of tariffs … which (at least temporarily) are adding to the cost of building materials.

(There’s much we could say on the touchy topic of tariffs … but we’ll save it for another day.)

Meanwhile, we’re chomping popcorn watching this play out … and trying to decipher what it means for Main Street real estate investors.

Here’s our bottom-line (so far) …

While interest and energy costs are macro-factors which affect the broad market, a reduction in federal regulation makes a smaller dent.

That’s because regulation is both a federal and regional phenomenon.

Our guess is markets with more local regulations will continue to attract less investment than those with less. Conversely, markets with less regulation will attract more.

This push to stimulate development is an obvious opportunity for real estate developers.

Meanwhile, we’re not staying up at night worrying about a supply glut collapsing housing prices any time soon.

If housing prices fall, it’ll probably be because credit markets collapse again.

For that reason, we continue to think it’s a good time to liquefy equity, lock in long term cheap financing, and tighten up operational expenses.

If prices do happen to fall … for whatever reason … as long as you have resilient cash flow and low fixed-rate financing you can ride out a storm as an owner.

And with some dry powder, a collapse isn’t a crisis for you … it’s an opportunity as a buyer.

Of course, you can stand at the plate all day waiting for the perfect pitch. Meanwhile, the market might continue to boom.

You can’t profit on a property you don’t own.

So even though there’s arguably some frailty in the financial system, it’s an ever-present threat you need to learn to live with and prepare for.

But as long as deals you’re doing today are structured to weather a storm, you’re probably better off collecting base hits than taking strikes.

Until next time … good investing!


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Forecasting the Future of Real Estate in 2019

Are you prepared for the future?

In our annual yearly forecast episode, we explore the future of real estate in 2019. We don’t have a crystal ball … but we do have great resources and smart friends.

Hear from three real estate experts on the state of the housing market, the effect of changing interest rates, the outlook for commercial real estate, and MORE.

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

  • Your forward-thinking host, Robert Helms
  • His fraidy-cat co-host, Russell Gray
  • Consultant and new home expert John Burns
  • Podcaster and real-estate expert Kathy Fettke
  • The Apartment King, Brad Sumrok

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In the news …

We’ve scoured the news sources and industry journals to see what might be coming in 2019.

The National Association of Realtors predicts in their 2019 Forecast that home sales will flatten and home prices will continue to increase.

The report also says not to expect a buyers’ market within the next five years except in the case of a significant economic shift.

On the other hand, the forecast cautions sellers to be mindful of increasing competition. It notes inventory growth, particularly in high-end housing, but reminds readers of the current housing shortage.

We’ve looked at predictions from various experts. Several of those experts predicted home prices will stabilize or rise at a much slower rate than in previous years.

One expert predicted listings in entry-level markets will remain tight. Yet another predicted industrial markets will continue to sizzle, interest rates will keep rising, and apartment rents will steadily moderate.

We’ve also read an article covering the State of the Market Panel hosted by Real Estate Journals.

The panelists agreed 2019 will be a big year for commercial real estate, including some new industrial and distribution/warehousing opportunities. They noted commercial rates will keep inching up.

Investors should consider opportunity zones and changes in the tax code in 2019. There are far different incentives for investors than for homeowners, and expensive housing means even more people will be pushed from buying to renting.

Predictions for the new home industry from John Burns

John Burns runs John Burns Real Estate Consulting, and he aims to help people in the new home industry understand trends.

In 2019, John says he is, “confident we won’t see construction grow that much.” He notes sales slowed dramatically in 2018, and he believes people will continue to be cautious.

What are builders paying attention to? They’re trying to build smarter with strategies like offsite construction and materials efficiency. They’re also building better by integrating smart-home technology and pivoting toward lower price points.

What about trends in home ownership? John says he thinks ownership is ticking back up. He says the millennial generation has some unique considerations … most want homes, but compared to previous generations, it may take them a bit longer to commit, especially because of increasing student loan debt.

And how do interest rates affect home builders? “It takes a big bite out the market,” John says. If people can’t get mortgages or can’t afford a new mortgage, they’re less likely to invest in a new home.

Take advantage of opportunity zones in 2019, says Kathy Fettke

Investors should look for jobs and opportunities in 2019. There will always be certain companies and cities that will thrive through a recession, says podcaster and Real Wealth Network founder Kathy Fettke.

These areas can provide investors with both equity and cashflow … and with new opportunity zones, there’s also the potential for tax breaks.

Neighborhoods that are flooded with investors because they’re opportunity zones WILL see equity growth, Kathy notes.

But just because an area is an opportunity zone doesn’t mean it’s a guaranteed good deal, and Kathy cautions investors to make sure deals make sense by investigating if they’ll hold out in the long run. That means job sources, stable and growing infrastructure, and good prospects for revitalization.

“You need the city on your side,” she says.

In 2019, Kathy is looking for stable employers that can thrive through a recession … she mentions Netflix. She warns investors not to get ahead of themselves by investing in areas that aren’t likely to improve within 10 years.

Employment is low, and interest rates are rising. We asked Kathy what she thinks will happen in that arena.

She says that while it’s hard to predict what will happen with the Trump administration, investors should keep their eye on corporate debt.

The ’08 recession happened because of a big consumer debt problem … corporate debt might cause trouble in the future. So, take a close look at the businesses that employ renters when investigating a market.

“Our world is changing so quickly,” Kathy notes. “Today is no longer a world where you can invest and forget about it for 30 years.” So in the housing realm, make sure you’re looking beyond the current tenant to say, who’s next? And will they have a job? Look for stability.

Demand and supply in multi-family, with Brad Sumrok

Last, we talked to the Apartment King, Brad Sumrok, educator and investor in the multi-family housing realm.

“I’m still proceeding with caution,” Brad says. But he notes there are many indicators that multi-family will continue to be a good asset.

We asked him whether some of the signs of doom from ’07 and ’08 are happening again in the multi-family space. The short answer? No.

Back then, there was a huge oversupply of housing. Now, there’s a 2-million-unit shortage. Most building now is happening in the A-class luxury space … but that’s not where the demand is. That means there’s an oversupply of luxury housing … but still some great opportunities to provide housing for working-class tenants.

Most people in the B and C class aren’t renters by choice … it costs, on average, $339 more per month to own a home than to rent. For blue-collar tenants, that’s a huge difference. And strict financing is further reducing the number of buyers.

That means more renters, and more demand for housing.

An increasing number of investors are looking at multi-family, which does inevitably mean cap-rate compression. But tax laws are on the side of investors.

“As the market changes, you have to temper your expectations,” Brad notes. Investors can’t expect to triple their equity in three years, and returns are likely to align with historical models.

That means there’s less of a cushion for making mistakes. It’s a strong case for investors to educate themselves before getting into an asset class.

To get educated on the multi-family market, check out Brad Sumrok’s 2019 Apartment Forecast! We wish you lots of equity in the new year.


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Looking Ahead with Our Predictions Panel – Part 1

There’s a lot of change on the horizon as we sail into the new year.

To help us process it all, we dialed up some of the biggest brains we know to share their insights, perspectives, and predictions.

In part one of our two-part Predictions Panel, we’ll have these smart guests take a look into their crystal balls and introduce the hot topics that will help YOU inform your investing decisions in 2018.

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

  • Your future-predicting host, Robert Helms
  • His predictable co-host, Russell Gray
  • John Burns of John Burns Consulting
  • Frank Holmes from U.S. Global Investors
  • Money Strong’s Danielle DiMartino Booth
  • Peak Prosperity’s Chris Martenson

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What is 2018 going to be like for investors?

This is the big question on everyone’s minds. As real estate investors, there are a lot of factors that impact our marketplace. So, we need to look beyond the real estate market and examine the broader economy.

There are many variables that will determine how 2018 plays out … like the new tax law, the second year of the Trump administration, a new chairman of the Federal Reserve, record high stock markets, the rebirth of U.S. manufacturing, and international trade deals.

And that’s just the beginning!

Any of our guests today could fill an entire show … and most of them have! But today we are just hitting the highlights. It’s part one of our 2018 Predictions Panel.

What the Trump administration means for real estate investors

“Trump is a disrupter,” says Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors, “but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Many positive changes can come because of that.”

We’ve seen how other great disrupters … like AirBnB, Amazon, and Uber … have boosted marketplaces in the end.

“I think the government won’t be able to raise rates too much and is going to do everything they can to maintain economic growth,” Frank adds.

One of the biggest changes the Trump administration is facing in the new year is at the Federal Reserve. Money Strong’s Danielle DiMartino Booth reminds us that President Trump has three vacancies to fill at the Fed. And A LOT is riding on who he chooses to fill those positions.

“2017 was clearly the year of the natural disaster, so we are seeing a ‘sugar high’ from the rebuilding that is happening in places like Puerto Rico, California, Florida, and Texas,” Danielle says. “But we are also starting to see signs that the U.S. household is simply buckling under the strain of inflation.”

How these Fed appointees choose to adjust rates could have a major impact on the economy … and that means the real estate market too.

What about the new tax cuts? John Burns of John Burns consulting predicts that the new tax cuts will be a boost to the economy, particularly to entry level buyers looking for median-priced homes.

Get educated on cryptocurrency

Cryptocurrency is a hot topic in the investment industry. From Bitcoin to Ethereum, it seems like everyone is rushing to get a piece of the pie. But what do our experts think?

“I am completely in love with the technology itself,” says Peak Prosperity’s Chris Martenson. “But it’s hard to predict who is going to be the winner in the end. Which piece of cryptocurrency will survive and still be viable 10 years from now?”

For Chris, it’s really too early to say. He likens it to when the technology to record movies and play them back at home hit the scene.

The core technology was amazing, but who could have predicted that it would evolve from VHS to DVDs to Blockbuster to Netflix?

“My advice would be to understand that when it comes to cryptocurrency, you are speculating,” Chris says. “If you’re interested in these assets, have a small portion of your speculative money there. This isn’t investing at this stage. It really is just speculation.”

Danielle agrees, “The exchanges of the world are not your friends. When it comes to cryptocurrency, I’m not saying avoid it altogether. Just remember that there is nothing backing this right now, so be careful.”

Watch for signs of an economic downturn

They say what goes up must come down. So, it’s natural in times of good economics to wonder when the next recession will arrive.

The number one most important thing in real estate is the economy. If any other sector collapses, the real estate industry will suffer too.

Pay close attention to other industries to spot indicators of economic change.

“After Hurricane Harvey, one of the things I will be watching most closely in 2018 is car sales,” Danielle says. “They’re a good sign of where the economy is heading.”

Danielle also suggests monitoring economic conditions internationally. With so many geopolitical ties and trade deals, our economy relies heavily on the economies of other countries.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if the catalyst for the next American recession came from somewhere overseas,” Danielle says.

Real estate investors can also look within the U.S. market to monitor conditions. For John, one area to keep an eye on is the growth and supply of new homes coming to market.

“If you look at the numbers of new homes coming into the marketplace, you’ll see that those numbers are pretty stagnant,” John says. “Construction costs have gotten so out of control that many homebuilders aren’t able to grow their businesses over time.”

However, John says that right now, he feels there aren’t any major markers pointing toward recession in the real estate industry. But it’s always a good idea to keep an eye out for potential risks.

In the words of Frank Holmes, “A lot of money has gone into real estate, so I think it is going to remain attractive to investors.”

Now you … the investor … get to take all these ideas and ask, “What does it mean to me?”

And there’s more information to come next week in part two of our Predictions Panel. Tune in so you can gather even more facts and be ready to make a plan for a profitable 2018.


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The future of growth …

Put on your thinking cap.  This one’s going to use some brainpower.  But if your investment plans involve money and the future, it’s probably worth the effort.

During our 2017 Investor Summit at Sea™, Chris Martenson warned that a financial system dependent on perpetual growth is unsustainable in a world of finite resources.

We’ll forego discussing “finite resources”, though there’s probably a lot of opportunity there.  The New Orleans Investment Conference is a great place to learn more.

For now, let’s consider “a financial system dependent on perpetual growth” … one of the most important, yet least understood, concepts about the eco-system we all operate in.

It’s simple, yet confusing.  Here it is in two sentences …

When dollars are borrowed into existence, the only way to service the debt is to issue more debt.  If the debt is paid off, the economy ends.

Imagine playing Monopoly and each player starts with $1,500.  With four players, the “economy” of the game is $6,000.  This “start” money comes from the banker.

New money is introduced two ways:

When a player passes Go and collects $200 from the banker … or when a player mortgages a property by borrowing from the banker.

Notice all the money to play comes from the banker.

So let’s MODIFY the game ever-so-slightly …

Let’s have the banker LOAN the start and payday money to each player at 10% interest per turn.

We still have four players starting with $1,500 each for an “economy” of $6,000.  But at the end of the first round, each player now owes the bank $150 of interest.

(We’ll forget about the additional payday loans … it just complicates the math and isn’t necessary to make the point)

But borrowing money into circulation creates three (hopefully) obvious problems …

First, there’s only $6,000 in circulation.  With total debt of $6,000 borrowed plus $600 of interest owed, it’s now IMPOSSIBLE to pay off the debt using only the money in the game so far.

And if the only way players get NEW money is borrowing, this creates a cycle of perpetually expanding debt.

Second, if each player paid ONLY the interest out of their $1,500 start money, after ten turns, they’ll have no money left at all.  But they still owe the original $1,500!

So you MUST GROW your asset base by more than the interest expense or you’re consumed by the debt.

Third, if all players try to free themselves from debt, they would take ALL the money in the game and give it to the banker, the game would end, and each player would still be in debt.

In this system, it’s physically impossible to extinguish the debt without extinguishing the economy and ending the game. 

Naturally, to keep the game going, the banker continually extends credit to the players.

It’s basically the way the global money system works and why people way smarter than us say it’s unsustainable.

It’s also like a Venus fly trap because any attempt to reduce overall systemic debt is deflationary, making existing debt even more burdensome.

Deflation means borrowers pay debt down with dollars worth more than those they originally borrowed.

Worse, any assets borrowed against have dropped in value.

Think of 2008 when the credit bubble deflated.  Property values fell, while the outstanding debt remained fixed.  Property owners were “underwater” (negative equity).

Meanwhile, the dollar was STRONG.  It took a whole lot LESS dollars to buy anything.

Everything was on sale and cash was king.  Lots of people got rich buying things with cash when others couldn’t borrow to buy.

Deflation is awesome when you’re sitting on cash.

You’d think lenders are happy to be paid back with better dollars.  And they are … IF they actually get paid.

But underwater borrowers often decide to default on the loan so they can keep their dollars.

So bankers HATE deflation.  No wonder the system they set up in 1913 demands perpetual expansion of debt and prices.

In fact, the Federal Reserve overtly targets 2% per year INFLATION:

“… inflation at the rate of 2 percent … is most consistent over the longer run with the Federal Reserve’s statutory mandate.”

Here’s the problem with perpetually expanding debt … it weakens an economy.

Sure, it drives inflation, but inflation weakens consumption.  When things cost more, people buy less.

Debt also requires interest.  Even at minimal rates, HUGE balances require big payments.

Interest on public and private debt take money away from production and consumption … causing both to shrink.  Just not at the beginning.

When first injected into an economy, debt gooses activity and provides a temporary high.

And as in our modified Monopoly game, once deployed, more NEW money is required just to keep the interest from consuming the economy. There’s a point where new injections produce diminishing returns.

Whew!  Thanks for staying with us.  Tape an aspirin to your forehead.

With that backdrop, consider this headline from Investor’s Business Daily

Here’s Why China’s Latest Growth Scare Should Worry You – May 30, 2017

Credit has been growing twice as fast as nominal GDP for years. The diminishing returns suggest that many loans are going to unprofitable ventures. They also signal that sustainable economic growth is far less than current growth rates. Such a rapid deceleration from the world’s No. 2 economy would sap demand and prices for raw materials such as copper, exacerbate overcapacity issues and act as a drag on an already-sluggish worldwide economy.”

Uh oh.  “Diminishing returns” and “deceleration” in the face of rapid credit growth.

When a junkie can’t get high, they either increase the dosage to the point of toxicity … or they wean themselves from the drug.

China is getting serious about weaning its economy off torrid credit growth, and data and financial markets already are showing early withdrawal symptoms.

Hmmm… sounds like they’re leaning towards weaning.  We like the addiction metaphor.

China and the United States are the two biggest economies.  What either does affects the world.

Right now, headlines say China is slowing its use of debt, which in turns slows its economic growth, with a ripple effect on other economies.

Meanwhile, the Trump Administration is talking bigly about reducing the deficit and debt. Will he do it? Can he do it?

Who knows? But if the global economic system sustains itself on ever-increasing debt. and the two biggest borrowers are going on debt diets … who’s willing and able to take on a bigger share of global debt?

And if no one does, then what happens to asset values?  Is deflation on the horizon?

Last question … then you can take a nap …

Would the Fed and other central banks allow deflation … or do they roll out QE4ever (quantitative easing) in an attempt to stop it?

Meanwhile, now seems like a good time to consider repositioning equity from properties and stocks with high asset values into properties with sober valuations and strong cash-flows.

After all, stocks and even real estate values might be a roller-coaster ride, but rents are more of a merry-go-round. Boring, but a nice place to hide when feeling queasy.

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.

Trump’s budget and your real estate investing …

In case you missed it, President Trump just announced his proposed budget. 

Two items caught our attention.

First, there are big cuts to social programs.  With 43 million people on food stamps and many of those being renters, there’s an obvious ramification for landlords.

As we said back in 2015, “…if the government subsidy goes away or is reduced…or if interest rates on your tenants’ consumer credit goes up…then it becomes even harder for them to pay you rent.

Hopefully, it’s both an obvious conclusion and one you’ve seen coming.  It hasn’t happened yet, but it’s inevitable because of the math behind the problems. 

So be cautious about a portfolio overly dependent on government subsidies.

But something else popped up which is perhaps less obvious … and more exciting.

President Trump proposes selling off half of the U.S. strategic oil reserve to raise cash to pay down the national debt.

We’re not here to say whether that’s a good or bad idea.  We’re not that smart. 

Besides, our orange Trump phone isn’t ringing, so the White House hasn’t asked our opinion anyway.

But when things are happening which have direct economic ramifications, we’re interested in how they might affect real estate investors.

It’s a bit of a rabbit trail.  But because oil is an impactful component of economic activity, we think it’s worth the effort. 

To start, the immediate benefit of selling the reserves is reducing interest expense.  This is especially beneficial when interest rates are rising … or threaten to.

Of course, money saved on interest can be redirected into paying down more debt … OR,  it could be used for investing into income producing activities and infrastructure.

Now we’re not inside Donald Trump’s head, but we are real estate guys. 

So we wouldn’t be surprised to see the president direct more money into income producing activities and infrastructure. After all, that’s how real estate guys think … we don’t spend, we invest.

Of course, this begs the question … what kind of activities and infrastructure are most likely to get attention, and what kind of jobs will they produce … and where?

Real estate investors want to get to popular places and product types BEFORE they become popular.

So putting on our orange comb-over thinking cap, we think the-real-estate-guy-in-chief wants to create domestic manufacturing jobs.  It’s just a wild guess … based on what he overtly says he wants to do.

But the challenge for a domestic manufacturing agenda … as our good friend Peter Schiff points out … is the factories and supply chains needed to support it have long gone to China to take advantage of cheap labor and lax environmental laws.

So while a viable long-range strategy might be to create a more factory-friendly environment in the United States … the U.S. needs good, solid middle-class jobs NOW … or as close to now as possible.

So what kind of industry would be ideal for creating U.S. based jobs fast?

It would need to be something that could ONLY be done in the U.S., so there’s no temptation to take the jobs off-shore. 

And ideally, it would be for a product with both domestic and global demand.  

After all, a nation can’t get rich selling to itself.  It needs to export.

Of course, demand would need to be big enough to make a real contribution to economic activity. 

And it would also need to be a product with supply and distribution chains which either already exist or could be ramped up quickly.

Hmmm … we think it all points to energy.

After all, the U.S. has huge oil and natural gas deposits.  So the jobs to harvest, process and distribute them would all have to be created right in the United States.

And even though global demand for energy ebbs and flows, the long-term need for energy grows steadily along with global population and economic activity.

Remember, it was the energy sector which dominated the post-2008 U.S. job growth.  Many real estate investors rode that wave … especially in Texas.

Price wars with Saudi Arabia curtailed that growth, but with the Saudi’s still hurting over the last oil price war, maybe they won’t want to get into another.

And if the U.S. oil strategic reserve “savings account” is low, Uncle Sam’s in a better position to step in and provide some extra demand if prices need a boost.

So if a Trump Administration is pushing a pro-energy agenda, it checks a lot of boxes, even though it may miff staunch environmentalists.

Again, we’re not advocating one way or the other. 

We’re just observing and speculating about what might be happening, how it might play out, and how real estate investors might find opportunity.

So we went digging in our news feed for any interesting developments in the world of energy. 

Here’s something we found a little off the beaten path … 

First Ever U.S. LNG Cargo Set Sail For Northwest Europe

LNG is Liquified Natural Gas.  And it’s headed to Europe … one of Russia’s biggest customers.  Interesting.

But more interesting is this quote from the OilPrice.com article, referring to a report by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) …

“According to the EIA, the U.S. is set to become a net exporter of natural gas on an average annual basis by 2018, due to declining pipeline imports, growing pipeline exports, and increasing LNG exports.

By 2021, four LNG export facilities that are currently under construction are set to be completed.”

Okay.  So this is probably a bazillion dollar business emanating from somewhere … where lots of people will need to do lots of work to make it all happen.  Jobs!

This took us on a hunt to find additional information about WHERE this LNG was coming from … because maybe those real estate markets are about to experience growth.

We found the EIA’s Annual Energy Outlook for 2017Actually, it was easy to find … because the OilPrice.com article linked to it.  Yeah, we’re sleuths.

The EIA report is 64 pages long with charts, graphs and maps.  On page 46, one map shows which U.S. regions they project to “lead growth in tight oil production.”

On page 60, there’s similar information about natural gas.

Now, we’re not saying these are treasure maps telling you where to invest in real estate. 

But it is a starting point for an investigation into where future job growth might occur … through natural economic forces, geo-politics, and a new U.S. administration eager to stimulate domestic production job creation.

But don’t just stop there.  Consider also the supply chain.

It takes big, heavy, expensive equipment and infrastructure to harvest, process, store and ship energy. 

These suppliers and sub-contractors might not necessarily be tightly geographically linked to the natural resources.  So look for them not by geography, but by working your way through the supply and distribution chains.

Because while energy production might create a surge of “primary” industry jobs, primary industry growth often gives rise to “secondary” (supply and distribution chain) jobs … sometimes in other areas.

Could this be the beginning of a resurgence of job growth in rust belt states? 

We don’t know.  But that’s another box President Trump would like to check, so it’s a development worth watching.

Until next time … good investing!


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