Phoenix

Phoenix

 

In this desert paradise … demand for rentals is heating up!

 

In the heart of the Sonoran Desert sits the “Valley of the Sun” … and this valley is golden for so many reasons. 

Phoenix consistently ranks as one of the most affordable areas of the United States …

So naturally rents have outpaced national growth since 2016

In 2018, rent growth in the greater Phoenix area was more than double the national average … but overall rent prices remained significantly lower than the rest of the country. 

The 2017 tax law changes had far-reaching impacts for Phoenix and the other Sun Belt  states. 

People living in high-tax states on the East and West Coasts used to mitigate tax costs by deducting state and local taxes from their federal income tax. 

With that option removed, those same people are moving to low-tax jurisdictions like Phoenix instead. 

The resulting steady population growth has made Phoenix one of the most popular markets for multifamily investments. 

Demand for rentals is strong and supply is low … so there’s nowhere to go but up!

And since the ‘08 market crash, Phoenix demand and pricing has been doing just that … steadily going up and up. 

Industrial space in the metro area fills up fast, rents are rising in the office sector, vacancy numbers are healthy, and the retail market is BOOMING. 

In 2018, major retailers Costco, Lowe’s, Sprouts, TJ Maxx, and Nordstrom Rack announced plans to build new stores in the metro area. 

The following year, Phoenix saw employment gains at nearly five times the national rate.  Major industries in the area include finance, biomedical, and software development. 

The western part of the valley is a popular location for warehouse and distribution space. Major distribution centers for Dick’s Sporting Goods, SubZero, and REI, Inc. operate from the region. 

The surge in population since 2017 has jumpstarted the revitalization of downtown Phoenix, with revamped buildings housing expansions of University of Arizona and Arizona State University.

When it comes to recreation and entertainment, Phoenix has something for everyone … professional sports teams, national parks, and all-around wonderful weather.

Explore the resources below to discover what opportunities await in this one-of-a-kind desert paradise …

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Clues in The News

The foundation of liberty …

As the United States celebrates its independence this week, it’s a good time to consider something of utmost importance to real estate investors …

Property rights.

After all, if you can’t safely, securely own private property … then there’s no hope of accumulating wealth and personal prosperity.

Private property ownership is the foundation of personal wealth.

Of course, most Americans today assume the right to own private property is the natural order of things … like the sun coming up every day. It’s always been there and always will be.

But a quick trip back through history shows that until the United States shocked the world with the radical notion of sovereign individuals …

… most people lived in societies where only royalty and elite owned and controlled property.

In fact, many of the terms we use every day are derived from this very system of elitism.

Contrary to common belief, the “real” in “real estate” doesn’t mean real or tangible … it means royal … as in king.

So “real estate” really means “the king’s property”.

The king’s subjects (the common folks) didn’t own any property … they only worked the king’s property in exchange for keeping 75% of the literal fruits of their labor.

Of course, by contrast to modern society’s tax rates, you could make the argument that keeping 75% is pretty good! But that’s a discussion and debate for another day.

Another common term, which is somewhat self-explanatory, is “landlord”.

Because even though the land was owned by the king, he needed loyal insiders to help him manage it all … keeping the workers (serfs) productive and paying their taxes.

The “lords” of the land were effectively agents of the king, conveniently positioned in the flow of revenue from the produce of the land to the coffers of the king.

Ironically, even though today there’s technically no “king”, and individuals can “own” private property, the system is still essentially the same.

Working class folks go to work and then pay about 25% of their paycheck to the landlord.

So if you’re not King Uncle Sam and collecting a slice of the workers’ pay through direct taxation (which was originally unconstitutional) …

… the next best thing is to own rental real estate … where as both a property owner and landlord, you collect a piece of the worker’s productivity too.

And as Tom Wheelwright so accurately explains, the tax code is a big part of what aligns the individual property owner with Uncle Sam.

The “king” shares a slice of his tax revenue with the landlord in the form of tax deductions … which incentivizes you to provide housing to the working class folks.

The BIG difference between the old feudal system with its kings, lords, and peasants … and the American experiment where individuals are sovereign … is in the old system, there was no path for a peasant to become a lord.

But the American Dream is where the common people, through their own initiative and efforts, have the right and opportunity to go from rags to riches without regard to birthright.

It may not be a perfectly level playing field, but it’s a heck of a lot better than what most people throughout history have had access to.

This revolutionary concept has unleashed more innovation and productivity than any other economic system in history … and people worldwide are largely all better off because of it.

So while the United States is far from perfect … and today’s adaptation of the American system has probably deviated quite a bit from what the founders originally envisioned …

… the American Dream still has people worldwide striving to get into the United States to get in on the action.

And every time YOU exercise your unalienable right to own private property and create prosperity for yourself and your family, while providing housing for working class people who aren’t ready to be “lords” yet …

… you celebrate and reinforce the system that makes your prosperity and theirs possible.

Sure, we may disagree about a lot of the strategies and tactics for keeping opportunity open for all, but if you’re truly interested in individual prosperity …

celebrating, exercising, and protecting private property rights should be something we can all agree on.

Until next time … good investing!


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Is THIS the next crisis?

We’re just back from yet another EPIC Investor Summit at Sea™.  If you missed it, be sure to get on the advance notice list for 2020.

It’s hard to describe how transforming and powerful the Summit experience is.  So we won’t.

Instead, today’s focus is on the flip side of the Fed’s flop on interest rates … in context of the #1 thing Robert Kiyosaki told us he’s MOST concerned about.

We recently commented about the Federal Reserve’s abrupt reversal on plans to raise rates and tighten the supply of money (actually, credit … but that’s a whole other discussion).

The short of it is … there’s more air heading into the economic jump house. 

Based on the mostly green lights flashing in Wall Street casinos since then, it looks like the paper traders agree.  Let the good times roll.

Real estate investors care because the flow of money in and out of bonds is what determines interest rates.

When money piles into bonds, it drives interest rates LOWER.

Not surprisingly, as we speak … the 10-year Treasury is yielding about 2.3% … compared to nearly 3.3% less than six months ago.

While a 1% rate change may not seem like much, it’s a 43% decrease in interest expense or income (depending on whether you’re borrower or lender).

So as a borrower, your interest expense is 43% lower.  Obviously, with record government debt and deficits, Uncle Sam needs to keep rates down.

But as a lender (bond investor) you’re also earning 43% less.  And yet, lenders (bond buyers) are lining up to purchase.

That tells us they probably expect rates to fall further and are speculating on the bond price.

But whatever the reason, they’re buying, so bonds are up and yields are down.

As you may already know, lower Treasury yields mean lower mortgage rates.  So this headline was quite predictable …

Mortgage Rates are in a Free Fall with No End in SightWashington Post, 3/21/19

Falling mortgage rates are bullish for real estate values because the same paycheck or net operating income will control a bigger mortgage.

This purchasing power allows buyers to bid up prices … IF they are confident in their incomes, and IF their incomes aren’t being directed towards rising living expenses.

So lower interest rates don’t automatically mean a boom in real estate equity.  But they help.  We’ll probably have more to say about this in the future.

For now, let’s take a look at the other side of falling rates …  the impact on savers and especially pension funds.

Remember, if you’re investing for yield, your income just tanked 43% in only six months.  Unusually low interest rates creates problems for fund managers.

During the Summit, Robert Kiyosaki revealed he’s VERY concerned about the global pension problem.

Low interest rates are only one part of the problem.  A much bigger part is the demographics and faulty model underneath the pension concept.

The net result is there’s a growing disparity between pension assets and liabilities.  And it’s not a good one.

Like Social Security, both public and private pensions worldwide are on a collision course with insolvency … led by the two largest economies, the United States and China.

This problem’s been brewing for a long time.  But it’s a political hot potato and no one has a great answer.  So the can keeps getting kicked.

But we’re rapidly approaching the end of the road.  And this is what has Kiyosaki concerned.

Yet few investors are paying attention … probably because it all seems far away and unrelated to their personal portfolio.

However, the pension problem has the potential to affect everyone everywhere.

The reasons are many, but the short of it is the problem is HUGE and affects millions of people.  The pressure for politicians to do SOMETHING is equally huge.

Peter Schiff says the odds of them doing the right thing are very small.

Our big-brained pals say it probably means 2008-like mega money printing and bailouts … except even BIGGER.

So what does all this mean to Main Street real estate investors?

Keep in mind that some of the biggest pension problems are states and local municipalities.  California and Illinois come to mind.

Unlike private corporations, public pensions don’t have a federal guarantee.

But even if they did, Uncle Sam’s Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) is in trouble too.

According to this government report, the PGBC will be broke in 2026

“ … the risk of insolvency rises rapidly … over … 99 percent by 2026.” – Page 268

Sure, the Fed can simply print all the money needed to save the PGBC … and Social Security … and more … but at the risk of ruining faith in the dollar.

As we detailed in the Future of Money and Wealth, China’s been systematically moving into position to offer the world an alternative to the U.S. dollar.

Will they succeed?  No one knows, but it’s yet another story we’re paying close attention to.

Meanwhile, unlike Uncle Sam, states and municipalities can’t just monetize their debts away with a little help from the Fed.

Of course, we’ll bet if the stuff hits the fan, the Fed will “courageously” attempt to paper over it … just like they did with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in 2008.

But many observers contend the Fed’s recent inability to “normalize” either rates or their balance sheet means they might not have the horsepower.

In other words, it may take MORE than just the full faith and credit of the United States to persuade the world the dollar is still king.

Oil and gold might be more convincing.  Perhaps this explains some of Uncle Sam’s recent foreign policy moves?

Of course, that’s conjecture FAR above our pay grade.

But until the pension problem becomes a full-blown crisis and federal policy makers attempt to ride in on their white horses …

cash-strapped states and municipalities are on their own … and likely to do desperate things in their attempts to stay solvent.

Some will adopt policies designed to attract new business and tax revenue.

But we’re guessing most will push the burden onto consumers, businesses, and property owners.  That seems to be the way politicians roll.

So when you’re picking states and cities to make long-term investments in, pay attention to the fiscal health of the local governments.

And if your tenants are counting on private pension benefits, they may not be aware of 2014 legislation allowing a reduction of those “guaranteed” benefits.

If YOU have any direct interest in private pensions, you should read this page.

You’ll discover that plan participants can vote against a reduction. But even if most who vote reject it … if not enough people vote, it can pass anyway.

For retired carpenters in Southwest Ohio, benefits drop on April 1, 2019 … along with their ability to pay you rent.

The bad news is the pension problem is a slow-motion train wreck.  It’s rolling over small groups of people a little at a time … but it’s building momentum.

The good news is it’s slow-motion right now, so  there’s time to watch, learn, and react.

But Kiyosaki says it’s a big deal that’s probably going to get a lot bigger. 

From a real estate investor’s perspective, some markets will lose, and others will gain.

Choose carefully.

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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Trade war heats up and America’s Achilles heel

The Art of the Deal meets the Art of War

You’ve probably heard about the escalating trade war between the United States and China.

Maybe you think it doesn’t really matter to you … or you aren’t sure how.

But it’s a story we’re paying close attention to because we think there’s more to the story than meets the eye … with potentially HUGE ramifications.

Here’s a summary of the story in a series of headlines …

Okay, so what? What does any of this mean to a Main Street real estate investor?

Think of it this way …

If this was a military war and not a trade war … and there was a chance a bomb could land on YOU … would you pay attention?

But a bomb isn’t really the best analogy. It’s more like biological warfare.

There are financial diseases which could be unleashed into the financial system … and YOUR portfolio and future opportunities might get infected.

So now it’s not as simple as just watching out for dropping bombs.

Now you need enough expertise to recognize the symptoms of diseases while there’s still time to apply an antidote.

But when you KNOW the threat is real and the stakes are high, isn’t it a top priority to get knowledgeable fast?

In Greek mythology, when Achilles was born it was foretold he would die young.

To prevent this, his mother dipped him in magic water which made him invincible.

But the magic water didn’t coat his ankle where his mother held Achilles over the water, so that small part of his body remained vulnerable.

Achilles grew into a mighty man who survived many fierce battles. But one day, someone figured out his weakness … and shot a poisoned arrow into his heel.

Achilles died from the poison.  Today, the term “Achilles heel” is synonymous with a weakness, which in spite of overall strength, can lead to downfall.

In a trade war with China, is it possible Uncle Sam has an Achilles heel?

And if you’re an investor depending on any aspect of U.S. strength for your prosperity, it’s important to be aware and prepare for a possible downfall.

However, China may not actually be interested in destroying the United States.

Nonetheless, they could well be working on a plan to gain advantage over the U.S. … with potentially severe ramifications for Main Street investors.

We realize most American press is filled with reassuring commentaries about Uncle Sam holding all the trump cards (sorry, we couldn’t help ourselves) …

… and that China’s going to back down in this trade war.

And we’ll concede that might APPEAR to happen. But what if China’s playing a different game?

Consider these quotes from famed Chinese military strategist and philosopher, Sun Tzu, in his classic book The Art of War …

“An army may be likened to water, for just as flowing water avoids the heights and hastens to the lowlands, so an army avoids strength and strikes weakness.”

“Therefore, those skilled in war bring the enemy to the field of battle and are not brought there by him.”

So even if Uncle Sam is more powerful … virtually invincible, as Achilles was … it’s possible for a strategic adversary to strike a victorious blow …

… just like the biblical story of little David taking on invincible giant Goliath.

The counter-argument is that China’s self-interest precludes it from inflicting serious harm on the United States … because China needs the U.S. to buy all it’s stuff.

True … but back to The Art of War 

“ … the best policy is to take a state intact; to ruin it is inferior to this … To subdue the enemy without fighting is the acme of skill.”

“Take advantage of the enemy’s unpreparedness; travel by unexpected routes and strike him where he has taken no precautions.”

And since we’re in the mood for quoting … here’s something we wrote heading into our Future of Money and Wealth conference …

A very interesting book we just finished is Exorbitant Privilege by Barry Eichengreen. He’s Professor of Political Science and Economics at Cal Berkeley.

Eichengreen published this book in 2011, which means he probably wrote it in 2010. Keep this in mind as we share these excerpts …

“What if foreigners dump their holdings and abandon the currency [dollar]? What, if anything, could U.S. policymakers do about it?”

“… it would have to start with what precipitated the crash and caused foreigners to abandon the dollar.”

“One trigger could be political conflict between the United States and China. The simmering dispute over trade and exchange rates could break into the open … American politicians … could impose an across-the-board tariff on imports from [China].”

Eichenberg wrote this at least FIVE years before Donald Trump even announced his candidacy, much less started his Presidency.

He’s basically saying the U.S. dollar could be America’s Achilles heel. One that Uncle Sam may not be taking adequate precautions to protect.

So …. did China “bring the enemy to the field of battle”?

We don’t know.

But as discussed in detail at Future of Money and Wealth, it sure seems there’s a bigger game being played.

For individual investors to understand all this and take appropriate precautions takes an investment of time, money, and energy.

It’s a bit more complex than just watching for big bombs to drop.  And sadly, it’s too much effort for most folks.

So they’ll just hope for the best, and trust the people in charge to have the skills and motivations to do the right thing.

But after hearing Ben Bernanke tell everyone in 2007 that the sub-prime crisis was contained and there’s nothing to worry about … we’re not convinced.

So we’ll close with this final quote from Sun Tzu …

“To rely on rustics and not prepare is the greatest of crimes; to be prepared beforehand for any contingency is the greatest of virtues.”

If you think it’s a good idea to be aware and prepared for the ramifications of what the news is only hinting at …

… consider investing the time and money to watch the Future of Money and Wealth.

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.

MANY lessons from Amazon’s HQ2 search …

You’ve probably noticed Amazon is taking over the world.  There’s a lot we could say, but we’ll narrow our focus to lessons for real estate investors …

In the May Housing News Report, there’s an article about Amazon’s ongoing search for their second headquarters (HQ2).

Even from just a real estate perspective, Amazon is a fascinating company to watch.  There are SO many lessons to be gleaned from watching what they’re doing … and how the world is reacting.

In case you’re new to the Amazon HQ2 story …

In 2017, Amazon put out a Request for Proposal (RFP) to bait cities across the U.S. into falling all over themselves to win Amazon’s coveted second headquarters …

… and the 50,000 high-paying jobs (average salary = $100,000 per year) that come with it.  We commented on this story at the time.

At first, there were hundreds of cities in the hunt. We said at the time we think there’s an excellent chance Amazon will pick Atlanta.

Early in 2018, the race narrowed to 20 finalists … and Atlanta’s still on the list.

Which brings us to now …

In the Housing News Report article, there’s a link to an analysis by Daren Blomquist of Attom Data Solutions.  Daren ranked the 20 finalists by comparing the cities on certain criteria defined in Amazon’s original RFP.

It’s the same process we did, except Daren used actual data … we just guessed.

Here’s Daren’s actual chart for your viewing pleasure …

Notice Atlanta’s ranked #2.  So our hunch is holding its own … so far.

Meanwhile, there several useful things to glean from this chart and the story behind it, so let’s dig in …

Single family homes are NOT an asset class

We’ve said it a thousand times, but just look at the median prices.  They range from $130,000 in Indianapolis to $1.445 MILLION in New York.

When people say, “Housing is in a bubble!” … what housing are they talking about?  Indy?  Seems pretty cheap based on median price and affordability.

And when high-priced markets start hitting the top of their affordability range, people MOVE … to more affordable markets.  People ALWAYS need a place to live.

So while it’s true that migration patterns drive prices … demand rises or falls as people move in or out … it’s often economics that drive migration patterns.

So an alert investor can get in front of growing demand and ride a wave up. That’s exactly what the folks who got into Dallas five years ago have done.

Equity happens … but not evenly

Look at the disparity in five-year appreciation rates among these markets … from just 8% in Montgomery County to 246% in Dallas.  HUGE difference!

Even in markets where median prices are similar … say Dallas and Miami… the five-year appreciation variance is substantial … Dallas coming in at 246% and Miami at “only” 71%.

So price doesn’t seem to be the deciding factor for appreciation.

And neither does property tax … as Dallas is second highest behind New Jersey (hey, New Jersey had to win at something), but Dallas is still king of appreciation.

Meanwhile Denver has the lowest property tax … half of Atlanta … yet their appreciation rates were about the same.

And price-to-income ratios don’t seem to make the difference either … as Los Angeles and New York are both equally unaffordable, yet New York has half the appreciation.

Keep it simple …

Obviously, this is just one chart … and it’s easy to get lost in the weeds.  We don’t want paralysis from analysis.  So charts like these are just the start of a deeper dive.

But it doesn’t have to be complicated.  Here’s what we look for …

What do winners have in common?

Dallas and Austin are both triple-digit appreciators … even though Dallas grew at twice the rate of Austin.  Is it just simply they’re both in Texas or is there more to the story?

Of course, 10 years ago, Dallas was coming off being one of the slowest appreciating markets in the country.  So something changed that dramatically…

What’s driving appreciation?

Prices get bid up when supply is growing more slowly than demand with capacity to pay.

So though you can see affordability based on income on this chart, you can’t see supply and demand drivers.  Neither can you see the economic drivers.

But you need to look at them.

That’s why we say you can’t study 20 markets well.  It’s too much.  Use a chart like this to pick your top three … and get to know them very well.

What markets are poised for growth?

Once you understand what makes a market like Dallas tick … and how it went from no growth to explosive growth … you can watch for similar factors in sleepy markets.

When you spot something interesting, you go in for a closer look.  If things go your way, you get there before the masses … and you get to catch a rising star!

What are the big players doing?

Big players can do research you can’t.  But that’s okay because you can piggy-back on their hard work.  It’s like cheating off the smart kid in school, except you don’t get detention.

Amazon is a juggernaut in American business … and their power is impacting real estate of all kinds … retail, industrial, and even office and housing in markets where they have a footprint.

That’s why SO much attention is being paid to their search for HQ2.

But another reason to watch is they’re leaders in business decision making too.  Other employers are watching what Amazon does and being influenced by it.

So when Amazon ultimately picks a city, we’re guessing other companies will cheat off their homework … and pick the same city.

The reason we bet on Atlanta is because many other Fortune 1000 companies had already chosen Atlanta as a great place to set up shop.

We don’t know what process they went through to get there.  We just know they did.  So as Amazon goes through its process … they may reach similar conclusions.

Of course, Raleigh is also home to a comparable number of big companies.

But based on the world-class airport, huge labor pool, access to higher education, major distribution, and a business-friendly environment … though it’s close, we still think Atlanta has the edge.

Then again, Jeff Bezos isn’t consulting with us, so we’ll just have to wait and see like everyone else.

Meanwhile, as the field narrows, we’ll continue to learn where corporate leaders think the best location is for their businesses, employees, and new job creation.

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.

Beware of bubble genius …

Hard to believe it’s nearly 10 years since Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac collapsed and were taken over by Uncle Sam.

Time flies when you’re getting rich.

It’s been a GREAT run for residential real estate investors … especially apartment investors.  Free money in the punch bowl can really juice up a profit party.

But after 10 years of equity happening to real estate bull market riders … it’s a good time to think about where we are, where things are headed, and what to do next.

And looking forward comes in two parts:  external and internal.

The external is the world of variables outside your control.  Like driving down the freeway, there are lots of other drivers whose actions affect YOUR safety and progress.

But the key to your success isn’t what’s going externally. It’s how YOU navigate those external circumstances … based on what’s going on inside of you.

It’s about financial and emotional intelligence.

Because what you think and believe affects what you do … and what YOU do has the greatest impact on the results YOU experience.

One of the biggest dangers of riding a wave of easy money into gobs of equity is thinking you’re an investing genius.

We know … because it’s happened to us … and we see it happen all the time.

It’s much harder to be humble, curious, teachable and innovative when you already think you’re smart.

It’s important to know the difference between luck and skill.

True financial genius is being able to make money when everything externally is falling apart … like a pro race car driver deftly navigating a multi-car melee at 180 miles an hour.

That’s REAL skill.  Anyone can rocket down an open road.

Fannie Mae’s chief economist Doug Duncan told the audience at Future of Money and Wealth he thinks recession is likely in the not-too-distant future.

And Doug made those comments after reminding everyone his last year’s Summit predictions were all essentially spot on.

So based on both his pedigree and track record, Doug’s qualified to have an opinion.  And we’re listening.

“The time to repair the roof is when the sun is shining.” 
– John F. Kennedy

The sun’s been shining on real estate investors for ten years now.  Maybe you’re one of the many who’ve made tons of money.  We hope that trend continues.

But as our friend Brad “The Apartment King” Sumrok reminds us … it’s time to approach today’s market with a little more sobriety.

Money and margins are both getting tighter.

This means paying better attention to detail, increasing your financial education, and being careful not to rationalize marginal investments to bet on positive externals.

In other words, beware of being a bubble market genius … and thinking what worked in a bull market will work when things change.

Better to work on sharpening your skills at finding and creating value.

Of course, real estate is FULL of pockets of opportunity … the polar opposite of a commodity or asset class where everything’s the same and moves together.

Real estate’s quirkiness befuddles Wall Street investors … but thrills Main Street investors.

A case in point are apartments …

On the one hand, lots of brand new inventory is coming on the market … and it’s putting pressure on landlords to offer profit reducing concessions.

On the other hand, more affordable existing stock is attracting lots of interest… from both tenants and investors.

So “housing” isn’t hot or cold.  And neither are “apartments”.  Real estate defies that kind of simplistic description.

Of course, it takes financial education to recognize the difference between momentum and value.

It also takes time, effort, and relationships to actually find the markets, team and properties to invest in.

For most people, that’s way too much trouble.  They’d rather sit in their crib with their trading app … or turn their financial future over to a paper asset advisor.

That’s all peachy until rates rise, recession hits, and paper prices plunge.

History … and Doug Duncan … says the inevitable bear market is getting closer.

Of course, as we’ve previously commented … when paper investors get nervous, one of their favorite places to seek safety with return is real estate.

So for active and aspiring syndicators … it really doesn’t get any better than right now.

Think about it …

MILLIONS of baby-boomers are retiring.  They need to invest for INCOME.

And they’re sitting on stock market equity, home equity, and retirement accounts …

… holding many TRILLIONS of wealth needing to (literally) find a home withreliable income and inflation protection.

Their paper asset providers will try to meet the need, but their toolbox isn’t properly stocked.  They can’t do private real estate.

But as boomers struggle at squeezing spendable money out of sideways or stagnant stock markets, they’ll look towards dividends and interest.  Cash flow.

The challenge with dividend stocks is … in a volatile market, investors face capital loss on share prices.  Worse, dividends can be cancelled.

Compare this to rental real estate, which produces far MORE reliable income than dividends with LESS price volatility.  And no one is cancelling the rent.

So dividend stock investors would LOVE income property … IF it just wasn’t so darned hard to find, buy, and manage.

What about bonds and bank accounts for income?  (Try not to laugh out loud)

Remember, a deposit is a LIABILITY to a bank.  When you deposit money in the bank, the bank needs to create an offsetting ASSET … a loan.

But the Fed has stuffed banks full of reserves … and there aren’t enough good borrowers to lend to.

Banks don’t need to offer higher interest to attract deposits.  So they don’t.

As for bonds …

Yes, it’s true bond yields are edging up, which means bond holders earn a little more income … but at a what price?

Rising bond yields also mean falling bond values.  So bond buyers are understandably very nervous about capital loss on their bonds.

WORSE …, bonds carry the added risk of default or “counter-party risk.”

A bond default is TOTAL loss. Yikes.

Real estate to the rescue …

The relative safety and performance of income property or income producing mortgages secured by real estate is extremely attractive right now.

The biggest problem for passive paper investors is real estate is hard to buy, messy to manage, and takes more financial education than just knowing how to click around an online trading app.

And THAT is the BIG opportunity for skilled real estate investors to go bigger faster with syndication.

Whether you decide to explore the opportunities in syndication or not … it’s important to stay curious, alert and proactive.

Most real estate investors we know are preparing for the next recession … because that’s when true financial genius pays the biggest rewards.

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.

Rising rates, oil, and an angry Amazon …

Even though the Fed skipped a rate hike last meeting, someone forgot to tell the 10-year Treasury yield, which has broken over three-percent … DOUBLE where it was just two years ago.

In case you don’t know, the 10-year Treasury yield is arguably the single most important interest rate on Earth … certainly for real estate investors.

Of course, oil broke over $80 a barrel last week also … in spite of dollar strength.  So while dollar-denominated gold dipped … oil rose.

It makes us wonder what oil will do if (when) the dollar starts falling again!

Now before you check out, let’s consider what all this means to Main Street real estate investors.  

Obviously, interest rates matter because most real estate investors are liberal users of mortgages.  Higher rates mean higher payments and less net cash flow.

But as we often point out, rising rates also affect your indebted tenants.  Higher rates mean bigger payments on credit card, installment, and auto debt.

And speaking of auto-debt, sub-prime auto loan defaults have spiked above 2008 levels.  It seems consumers at the margin are starting to struggle.

Now back to oil

If you’re an oil investor … or you buy real estate in areas whose economies are

strongly supported by the oil industry … higher oil prices can be a GOOD thing.

For everyone else, it means gas … and all petroleum derived products … andanything produced or transported with oil-derived energy … are all getting more expensive.

And for your working class tenants … the cost of filling up their commuter cars is getting worse too.

So until all this “wonderful” inflation makes its way into wages, working class people are still getting squeezed.

All that to say, it’s probably a good idea to tread lightly on rental increases unless you’re very sure your tenants can handle it.

But of course, these are the fairly obvious concerns.  But there’s something even MORE ALARMING circling on the horizon …

Pension Problems Potentially Pinching Property Owners

(Sorry.  Peter Piper purposely pressured us to print that prose. ‘pologies …)

In a recent post, we highlighted a SHOCKING proposal by the Chicago Fed to punish property owners by imposing an additional one-percent property tax … to pay for Illinois’ severely under-funded pension plan.

Of course, Illinois isn’t only the place with pension problems, so be on the lookout for a punitive tax proposal coming soon to a neighborhood near you.

This is why we continually point out it’s REALLY important understand the markets you’re in.

It’s like buying a condo in a troubled complex, but never bothering to review the HOA financials …

YOU might be hyper-responsible, but if the HOA’s in trouble … you could be too, because they have the the power to assess YOU to pay for it.

As we pointed out at Future of Money and Wealth, governments sometimes do desperately dumb things when they’re facing financial challenges.

Don’t Slap an Amazon

The latest case in point comes to us from the super-city of Seattle … home of Amazon, Starbucks, Boeing and several other mega-employers.

You may have heard, the city council of Seattle voted 9-0 to impose a “head tax” on all businesses doing over $20 million in GROSS revenue.

The original tax proposed was over $500 per person.  But after businesses complained, they backed off to “only” about $275 per head.

The purported purpose of the tax is helping the homeless, which is a noble cause.  But regardless of how you or we feel about it, what matters is how the employers feel … and they’re NOT happy.

Amazon fuming after Seattle votes to tax high-grossing corporations to help the homeless

“ ‘We are disappointed by today’s city council decision to introduce a tax on jobs,’ [Amazon Vice President Drew Herdener] said in a statement.

 “ ‘While we have resumed construction planning… we remain very apprehensive about the future created by the council’s hostile approach and rhetoric toward larger businesses, which forces us to question our growth here…’ ”

 Starbucks Corp., another of the 300 businesses that will have to pay the job tax, seconded that.

 Think about this …

These are two pre-eminent brands and major economic drivers for Seattle and its surrounding neighborhoods … and there are 298 other big businesses also affected.

While they’re not likely to all pack their bags and move out in the middle of the night, Amazon’s comments make it clear they’re also not committed to staying or growing.

Again, it doesn’t matter how YOU feel about these companies, the homeless problem, or the role of government in redistributing wealth …

… what matters is how employers feel and what they choose to do when slapped with taxes or regulations.

Because if these companies go in search of a friendlier environment, one area will lose current and future jobs … and others will gain them.

As real estate investors, we want to be on the right end of that shift.  That’s why we’re always watching for clues in the news.

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.

Profits, jobs, and opportunity …

In spite of rising rates and concerns about bubbles … real estate is looking pretty good right now.  At least the right real estate in the right markets.

Of course, “real estate” can mean a lot of different things.  In this case, we’re talking about good ol’ fashioned single-family residences.   Houses.

Yes, we know mortgage rates are rising.  But that just means it’s harder for renters to buy a home … which keeps them renting … from YOU.

And if you proceed with caution, there are some reasons to pursue single-family homes even though prices have recovered substantially from the 2008 lows.

Consider this Yahoo Finance headline:

Small business earnings hit all-time high, NFIB declares

“Small business earnings rose to the highest levels in at least 45 years last month, according to the results of a survey from the National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB) …” 

“ …  the 17th consecutive month of ‘historically high readings.’”

That’s good news for small business owners … and for the U.S. economy.  It’s commonly believed that small business drives a majority of job creation.

So perhaps this CNBC headline isn’t a big surprise …

Job openings hit record high of 6.6 million

Of course, job creation is good for landlords.  It’s a lot easier for tenants to pay rent when they actually have jobs.

But there’s the issue of wages.  Even though the unemployment rate fell below 4% … which is considered “tight” … wages still haven’t risen substantially … yet.

Meanwhile, life is getting more expensive as rising interest ratesgas prices and healthcare premiums are among several factors squeezing household budgets.

While jobs are good, it’s hard to save up for a down payment when living costs are going up faster than paychecks … which keeps people renting.

And if all that isn’t a big enough challenge, there’s the problem of high housing prices.  Obviously, higher prices also make it harder for renters to become homeowners.

So all that’s not horrible news for landlords … especially those who are investing in more affordable markets and property types.

But there are two more parts to the story …

First has to do with a deeper dive into the jobs market.  The April jobs report didn’t seem great at first blush.

But in the past, the reports looked great at first, then you’d drill down and discover the jobs created were low-wage service industry jobs.

Notably, recent jobs reports reflect a subtle but important shift in the composition of jobs.

So while the quantity of jobs created might be not bad … the quality is actually looking pretty good.

According to this Wall Street Journal article, manufacturing added 24,000 workers in April … after adding 22,000 and 31,000 in the last two months.

“While manufacturing employment has been generally declining for decades, hiring picked up in the sector over the past year.” 

Way back our 2011 blog, What Washington Could Learn from Real Estate Investors, we argued that not all jobs are equal. We like what’s happening.

Seems to us if the American economy can keep this up, it’s a tailwind for housing … in spite of rising rates, inflation, and high debt levels.

And speaking of wind …

As we discussed at length during Future of Money and Wealth, the entire financial system is based on debt.  So to grow the economy, debt MUST grow.

The why and how of all that is too big a topic for today’s discussion, but if you take it at face value, it really explains a lot.  It also has some big ramifications for real estate.

After 2008, lenders ran away from real estate … but debt still needed to expand.  So new debt-slaves borrowers were needed.

Student debt soared.  Sub-prime auto loans spiked.  Credit cards hit record highs. Corporations borrowed heavily to bid up their own stock.

But today, students are reconsidering the value of a financed college education.  Auto sales are slowing.  Credit card losses are mounting.

Corporations are slowing down their borrowing … with nearly 14% of the largest companies unable to pay their interest payments from earnings.

In fact, a recent Bloomberg article quotes Gregg Lippman of “Big Short” fame as saying corporate debt will trigger the next financial crisis.

“ … corporate debt and equities will face the biggest pain when the next downturn comes. Investments linked to consumer debt, unlike the last crisis, will be relatively safe …”

“The consumer is in much better shape than corporates. Consumers are less levered than they were pre-crisis. Corporates are more levered than they were pre-crisis …”

So let’s wrap this all up and put a bow on it …

If it’s true debt MUST expand, lenders will be looking for where they can make loans.  Remember, your debt is their “investment”.

There are already tremors in the debt markets.  Lenders will be looking for quality.

Similarly, there are tremors in the stock markets.  Investors and consumers will be looking for an alternative for their wealth building (remember, consumers consider their home an investment).

So we think there’s a good chance the focus will shift to real estate again.  Just like it did in the early 2000s.

Yes, we know the run-up from 2000 – 2008 ended badly.  But not for everyone.

If you buy the right markets, use sustainable financing structures, and pay attention to cash flow, there’s an argument to be made that single-family homes still have solid potential for long-term wealth building.

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.

The margin is calling …

Shhh … do you hear it?  It’s the margin calling …

“Margin” is a term we hear all the time but can be a little confusing … because it means different things depending on the context.

But margin comes up often in financial conversations because it’s an important concept … and worth taking a look at.

In stock trading, margin is debt secured by the stocks you’re buying.  It’s like the way real estate investors use mortgages to acquire property.

Typical margin leverage with stocks is fifty percent.  So you put in half and borrow the rest.  If the stock goes up, you get to keep ALL the gain … just like real estate.

BUT … if the stock goes DOWN … you get a “margin call” … which means you need to bring in cash to restore the loan-to-value ratio.  No fun.

We’re sure glad that doesn’t happen in real estate!

The term “margin” has another important meaning.  It’s the “edge” or “fringe” … things that are farthest from the center of the target.

So when you think about your personal budget, you have things at the core … food, clothing, shelter, medical care, etc.

Out at the far edges … the margin … are highly discretionary, non-essential expenditures.  These are things you can easily live without, but you enjoy when you’re flush.

These are the first things to get cut when you’re squeezed.

Households, corporations, even governments all have “core” expenses and activities … and “marginal” expenses and activities.

Again, when prosperity recedes … things at the margin fall off the target.

Our point in all this is you can learn a lot about the direction of the economy simply by watching what happens at the margin.

Make sense?

That’s why this headline caught our attention …

Rising Home Prices Push Borrowers Deeper Into Debt

– Wall Street Journal, April 10, 2018

“ … higher mortgage rates make homeownership out of reach for many,

pressuring lenders to ease credit standards.”

“ … rising debt levels are a symptom of a market in which home prices are rising sharply in relation to incomes, driven in part by ahistoric lack of supply that is forcing prices higher.”

Hmmm … some of that doesn’t make sense to us.  But before we go there, consider this headline …

Home builder confidence slides for fourth straight month

– MarketWatch, April 16, 2018

“The 69 reading is still quite strong. In the go-go days of the housing bubble, between 2004 and 2005, sentiment averaged 68. Still, the fact that confidence is declining so steadily is notable. When NAHB’s index started to fall in late 2005, it was one of the signals that foreshadowed the coming housing bust.”

“ … builders are keeping the pace of construction slow and steady. And they’re worried about their costs.

And then there’s this one …

US home building rose slightly in March, led by apartments

– Associated Press via ABC News, April 17, 2018

“… driven by a big 16 percent gain in apartment buildings. Single-family home construction slipped 3.7 percent.”

“There is a severe shortage of existing homes, which has pushed up

prices in cities around the country … That’s lifting demand for new homes.”

Again, a few things here that don’t make sense to us.  And we could probably write a book just on the excerpts from these three news articles.

But let’s see if we can unpack all this briefly …

First, rising mortgage rates and prices are causing people at the margin of prospective home-ownership to remain tenants. Not great for them, but not bad for landlords.

Usually when prices rise based on DEMAND, builders ramp UP production to profit by selling into the increased demand.

So it seems to us home-builder confidence should be growing.  But it’s not.

That makes us think the number of people who can afford to buy isn’t growing either … it’s shrinking.

That’s because when prices rise faster than incomes, the ability to borrow eventually peaks.  Falling interest rates can delay the problem by getting more mortgage for the same payment.

But now that rates are rising, it seems people at the margin are getting pushed off the back of the affordability bus.

That may also explain why apartment building is growing, but single-family home building is declining.

It may also explain why Freddie Mac is lowering lending standards.

They can’t create jobs or increase incomes, but they can make it easier to borrow in spite of rising rates … and they are.

Freddie’s making it easier for first-time home buyers to get in and push up the market from the bottom.  It’s like the air inlet in an inflatable jump house.

The concern is when lower lending standards act as the air pump trying to compensate for higher interest rates and insufficient income … how long can the debt inflation go before it tapers off … or worse?

Don’t get us wrong.  We LOVE passive equity.  It’s fun to buy a property and just watch the equity grow.

But the market giveth and the market taketh away … unless you’re smart enough to get your equity off the table with cheap long-term debt while both are still available.

As John F. Kennedy said, “The best time to repair the roof is when the sun is shining.”

The sun is shining on real estate right now.  Enjoy it. But be sure you’re preparing your portfolio for stormy weather.

It’s probably smart to have some cash on hand … to be prepared for credit markets to tighten unexpectedly … and to lock in long-term rates where you can.

It’s also wise to pay close attention to cash-flow and avoid dependence on market factors to increase rents or values.

Make sure your deals pencil TODAY … based primarily on things you can reasonably control.

Sure, you might have to walk on some marginal deals … even though they’d be “winners” as long as the tide is high and the sun is shining.

But if the tide goes out and the storm comes, then marginal boats sink.  And if they’re tethered to your best boats, they ALL sink.

Now if you just can’t resist taking a chance on a marginal deal … consider structuring it so it can’t take down the rest of your portfolio if things don’t go as planned.

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.

Home prices surge … and subprime is BACK …

We’re just two weeks removed from our incredible Future of Money and Wealth conference … an it was an EYE-OPENER.

(If you missed it, you’ll be glad to know we video-taped the ENTIRE event and it’s in postproduction right now.   Click here to pre-order at a really great price.)

Meanwhile, now that we’re getting back to our normal routine, we noticed some real estate related news that looked interesting …

Home prices surge to a near four-year high, Case-Shiller shows 
– MarketWatch, April 24, 2018

“Rather than moderating, as many economists expected, home prices are accelerating.  The 6.8 percent annual gain … was the strongest since mid-2014.”

“ … finally broke above the peak it last touched in 2006.”

Hmmm …. is that good?

It kind of feels good.  Then again …

Subprime mortgages make a comeback—with a new name and soaring demand
CNBC, April 12, 2018

“The subprime mortgage industry vanished after the Great Recession but is now being reinvented as the nonprime market.”

A rose by any other name?

“allow … borrowers to have FICO credit scores as low as 500 … can take out loans of up to $1.5 million … can also do cash-out refinances … up to $500,000. Recent credit events, like a foreclosure, bankruptcy or a history of late payments are acceptable.”

“ … will also securitize them for sale to investors.”

Uh oh.  We’re having flashbacks …

“Big banks are also getting in the game, both investing in the securities and funding the lenders …”

Like “too big to jail fail” banks?

“It’s large financial institutions. A lot of people with private capital sitting on the sidelines …” 

Okay.  Let’s take a deep breath and try to figure out what’s really happening, and how it might impact all us lowly Main Street real estate investors …

First, does this mean another grandiose sub-prime implosion that drags the global economy into yet another Greater Recession?

Not sure we’d bet on that happening again.  At least not the same way.

Peter Schiff tells us he thinks the real crash will be the dollar.  He thinks when the debt markets implode, central banks will destroy the dollar in a vain attempt to reflate asset prices and save banks.

Wow.  That’s pretty apocalyptic.  But hey, it’s Peter Schiff.

James Rickards thinks the stage has been set to replace the dollar on the world stage with the IMF’s SDR.  Not sure what that means?  Read Currency Wars and The Death of Money.

But no one we’ve talked to think it’s all going to happen in a day. It’s a process.  And if you’re paying attention, you can see it coming and take pre-emptive action.

Of course, that’s a big topic and too much to dissect in this missive.  That’s why we hosted Future of Money and Wealth … and video-taped the whole thing.

Some of what we learned is that as the dollar begins to fail, dollar denominated bonds would fall out of favor.  After all, who wants to loan “strong” dollars today and get paid back late with weaker dollars?

Foreigners buy fewer U.S. longer-dated Treasuries at auction 
– Reuters, April 23, 2018

Well, THAT’S interesting.

Less bidders on bonds usually means interest rates rise …

Mortgages, other loans get pricier as 10-year Treasury rate tops 3% 
– USA Today, April 24, 2018

Okay, that’s getting closer to home … literally.

But usually when the world isn’t buying bonds (and yields rise) … the money goes into stocks and stocks go UP.  But they went DOWN.

Hmmmm…. it seems the paper players of the world aren’t wild about bonds or stocks.

Since stock investors aren’t piling into bonds for safety, where are they going?

Could be cash … for now.  That would explain the aforementioned, “… a lot of people with private capital sitting on the sidelines.”

We can’t claim to be paper asset experts … far from it.  But it seems to us if there’s cash on the sidelines, the issue isn’t liquidity as we’ve heard some say.

And if there’s plenty of cash … and plenty of stocks and bonds to buy … then maybe the issue isn’t liquidity or inventory, but quality.

Think about Detroit real estate at it’s worst.  There was PLENTY of properties.  And they were cheap.

You could buy a whole house for $2500.

But few did.  In fact, they bull-dozed lots of properties because on one wanted them.

The problem wasn’t price or availability, it was quality … or lack thereof.  No sale.

So MAYBE paper asset investors are a little afraid of stocks and bonds right now.  Maybe they’re starting to look for more real alternatives.

That’s what happened at the turn of the century.  Stock and bond investors poured into real estate and mortgages.  From their perspective, they’re safe.

Real estate is like that loyal, sometimes boring best friend in high school.  When things are free and easy, you hang out with your party pals … but when life gets hard, it’s that old faithful best buddy you lean on.

There’s a LOT of debt in the world right now.  More than ever before.  Much of it created in the last 10 years … providing the jet fuel for some pretty powerful paper pricing runs.

Of course, some of the cheap money has also made its way into real estate.  So real estate’s been good too.

But it’s quite possible the party is coming to an end.  Rising rates and declining stock prices could be warning signs.

And yes, a slowdown will probably impact real estate PRICES … especially for homes, which get overbid in good times.

However, incomes and rents are often less affected by downturns, making income producing properties much more stable in slowdowns.

And if you’re smart enough to lock in low cost long term financing, you’ve got a real competitive edge in a rising interest rate environment.

Meanwhile, if history is any indicator, when the paper party ends … it usually means an increased interest in real assets … especially real estate.

At least for now, it seems to us the volatility caused by rising interest rates is a MUCH bigger deal to the paper crowd than for real estate investors.

BUT … even Main Street investors should be paying attention to Treasuries, interest rates, the dollar, gold, and energy.  They’ll provide early warnings for bigger concerns real estate investors should be aware of.

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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