Is THIS what China and Russia are REALLY doing …

It’s no secret the United States has been at odds with both China and Russia lately.

So what?  What does it mean to Main Street entrepreneurs and investors?

Maybe nothing. Or maybe a lot more than you think.

Just a few months ago, Russia dumped a majority of the Treasury holdings.

Three out of the last four months, China has reduced its Treasury holdings.

And now Market Watch reports … 10-year Treasury yield hits 4-month high as bond market sells off …

“ … investors fear China … could sell its Treasury holdings to push the U.S.’s borrowings costs higher.”

Not TWO days later, Market Watch reports … Mortgage rates jump to four-month high as housing hits a bump. 

That’s because, as any credible mortgage professional will tell you, mortgage rates track VERY tightly with 10-year Treasury yields.

So you don’t need to be Sherlock Holmes to see …

… there’s a direct connection between what Russia and China are doing and YOUR Main Street real estate investing.

But it’s bigger than interest rates.  Interest rates are more a reflection of currency and bond markets.

The United States has enjoyed … and some might say abused … a privileged status because of the U.S. dollar’s status as the world’s reserve currency.

China and Russia have both publicly proclaimed their upset over how the U.S. the dollar system … and they’re working to dethrone it.

Some people who are well-qualified to have opinions think …

… there’s a HUGE danger to dollar-denominated investors if the dollar LOSES reserve status.

According to Bloomberg, famed billionaire hedge fund manager Ray Dalio spells out America’s worst nightmare … warning the U.S. “not to take its reserve currency for granted.”

“The idea that the U.S. dollar would lose its status as the world’s reserve currency is an existential threat unlike just about any other to the U.S. government and financial markets as a whole.”

“ … for just about everyone’s sake, we should hope that he’s wrong.”

Last time we looked, hope is not a strategy.

We don’t make this stuff up.  We pull it right from the headlines.  In fact, we’ve been covering it closely for more than five years.

The good news is these things move S-L-O-W-L-Y.  The bad news is these things move S-L-O-W-L-Y.  It’s easy to fall asleep at the wheel.

It’s also easy to ignore or dismiss the people who keep sounding the alarm.

But if you earn dollars, borrow dollars, measure asset values in dollars, or use credit markets in any way … the future of the dollar impacts YOU.

Most Main Street investors aren’t paying any attention at all … 

They don’t study history.  They don’t recognize the warning signs … even though there are clues in the news every day.

They won’t see a dollar crisis coming and won’t know what to do if it happens.  It will strike them like a thief in the night.

But it doesn’t have to happen.  In fact, the more people who are aware and prepared, the less likely it will happen.  And the less severe it will be if it does.

Of course, warnings are only useful if understood and heeded.

Otherwise, you wake up one day and credit markets seize up … asset prices collapse … and all those TRILLIONS in paper wealth everyone is celebrating is WIPED OUT.

Think about how hard you work and study to create profits in your business and investing.

How much time do you invest in studying how to avoid LOSING it all?

If you’re like most investors, it’s not very much.

Riding an uptrend is an easy way to FEEL like a genius … but TRUE investing genius is revealed in the BAD times.

Warren Buffet’s famous quote sums it up …

“Rule #1:  Don’t lose money.  Rule #2:  Remember rule #1.” 

Okay, so you’ve read this far.  Now what?

Well, you probably know we can’t possibly give you a useful answer in just a few hundred words.

If you REALLY want to know, you’ll need to dig in … and invest some time and money in getting up to speed.

It starts with getting your mind around the situation.

If guys like Ray Dalio are paying attention to the future of the dollar … maybe YOU should too.

When it comes to China and Russias attack in the dollar, we created a VERY affordable 48-minute video and two downloadable PDFs which many people have found helpful …

Click here for info about The Dollar Under Attack video and two related special reports.

The video features the opening presentation from our 2018 Investor Summit at Sea™ … which kicked off with two full days focused on the Future of Money and Wealth.

Not only has nothing changed since the original presentation, but the news continues to indicate things are picking up speed.

So it’s not surprising savvy investors like Ray Dalio are concerned and making contingency plans.

Perhaps you should too.  After all, better to be prepared and not have a dollar crisis than to have a dollar crisis and not be prepared.

Until next time … good investing!


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


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Nine lessons from Lehman Brothers …

This past September 15th marked the 10th anniversary of the collapse of the iconic Wall Street investment bank, Lehman Brothers … after 158 years in business.

While there were several notable events which heralded the arrival of the greatest financial crisis since the Great Depression of 1929 …

… Lehman’s failure can arguably be considered the “shot heard around the world”.

As recounted in David Stockman’s epic tome, The Great Deformation, the guys in charge of the Federal Reserve and U.S. Treasury at the time, Ben Bernanke and Hank Paulson, proclaimed …

… “the financial system had been stricken by a deadly ‘contagion’ that had come out of nowhere and threatened a chain reaction of financial failures that would end in cataclysm.”

Apparently, Bernanke and Paulson weren’t followers of Robert Kiyosaki or Peter Schiff.

Because both Kiyosaki and Schiff appeared on national television warning people … that in spite of all the rosy economic reports, there was BIG time trouble brewing.

In fact, in this now infamous interview with Wolf Blitzer on CNNKiyosaki specifically warned about a Lehman Brothers collapse.

And in this contentious TV appearance, Peter Schiff was mocked by well-known economist, Art Laffer, for his passionate concerns about the dangerous proliferation of sub-prime mortgages.

Of course, Kiyosaki and Schiff both turned out to be right.  But as you may have noticed, they’re not on financial TV too often any more.

We’re guessing it’s because their viewpoints don’t fit the Wall Street “sunshine” narrative.

That’s why we make it a habit to get together with these guys … and others … who aren’t singing from the Wall Street hymnal.

Meanwhile, it’s hard to believe Lehman collapsed 10 years ago.

There are Millennials now well into their business and investing careers who were just in high school back then … and have no real recollection of what happened or why.

So just as Americans commemorate the anniversaries of tragic events such as Pearl Harbor and 9/11 to honor heroes, mourn victims, and remember important lessons …

… perhaps the anniversary of the fall of Lehman is a good time to consider what can and should be learned from economic policy gone bad.

“Those who fail to remember history are doomed to repeat it.” 
– George Santayana

We’re certainly NOT mourning the loss of Lehman.  Extinction is a healthy part of the cleansing process when cancerous enterprises infect a financial system.

And there’s probably an argument to be made that Goldman Sachs, AIG, and other foolish actors should have been allowed to fail too.

After all, when you look at how and why they got into trouble, to bail them out is essentially absolving them of the consequences of their reckless behavior.

Worse, it creates moral hazard … enticing Wall Street gamblers to continue to take big chances with their clients’ savings …

… knowing they keep all the upside but can push the downside to Main Street, both directly and indirectly through government bailout.

And as many real estate investors discovered the hard way, Wall Street’s gambling addiction absolutely impacts our Main Street investing.

Real estate didn’t cause the Great Financial Crisis … it was a victim of it.

Of course, the crisis also created fabulous opportunities for the aware and prepared.  There’s ALWAYS a bright side for the aware and prepared.

Investors like Kiyosaki and his real estate guy, Ken McElroy, made fortunes buying up bargains in the wake of the crash.

It’s usually the smart money that cleans up messes made by dumb money.

But we’re not here for a post-mortem on the 2008 financial crisis.  We’ve covered that extensively and you can find those episodes and blog posts in our archives.

Today is all about facing the future empowered with important lessons from the past …

Lesson #1:  Listen to all points of view with an open mind. 

Be mindful of normalcy bias, confirmation bias, echo chambers, and of course, sales agenda.

When the downside is left out of the discussion, you’ll end up with potentially disastrous blind spots.

But if all you see is doom and gloom, you don’t act.  And that’s bad too.

Lesson #2:  Study and think for yourself. 

Your financial future is too important to rely solely upon the Cliff’s notes and conclusions of financial pundits.

There are plenty of understandable investments, including our obvious favorite … real estate.  There’s no reason to abdicate the responsibility of understanding to others.

Sure, you can delegate the work of investing to others.  But not the understanding.

YOUR financial education is important, whether you get your hands dirty with the deals or not.  So make financial education a priority.

Lesson #3:  It’s never as good as it seems … and it’s never as bad as it seems.

It’s easy to get lazy in a boom … and paralyzed in a bust …  so keep looking for opportunities and keep your money working … in both economic sunshine and rain.

Lesson #4:  Take what the market gives you.

The market’s bigger than you are, so you can’t make demands.  It’s going to do what it’s going to do.  And it will change.

So when the world changes, you’ll need to adapt.

Resist the temptation to doggedly adhere to a now less effective strategy simply by taking on excessive risk … or reducing your return on investment targets.

There are almost always alternative opportunities you can move to.

Sure, it takes time and effort to learn new niches.  But so does recovering from a bad deal, or earning back lost opportunity from putting your portfolio in sleep mode until your preferred niche comes back to life.

Lesson #5:  Cash reserves aren’t idle. 

They’re actively providing insurance coverage for a liquidity crisis.  That’s worth something.  Think of the lost opportunity cost as an insurance premium.

So no matter how hot your niche is, be cautious of being over-invested.  If you think having cash reserves is expensive, try being illiquid when credit markets seize up.

Besides, it’s no fun staring at a market full of bargains, but without any purchasing power left.  You never know when the market’s going to have a BIG sale.

(That’s another reason why we LOVE syndication.  When YOU don’t have the resources to capitalize on bargains, you can always find investors who do.)

Lesson #6:  The economy and the financial system are NOT the same thing.

There’s a big difference between economic indicators … and the strength and stability of the financial system.

Study BOTH for clues about opportunities and risks.  In the boom leading up to the financial crisis, the economy was HOT.  But the financial system was frail.

Sound familiar?  It should.  History may not repeat itself, but it often rhymes.

Lesson #7:  Defense wins championships. 

The old sports adage very much applies to investing.

Billionaire stock investor Warren Buffet says Rule #1 is, “Don’t lose money” and rule #2 is, “Remember Rule #1”.

Billionaire real estate investor Sam Zell says a secret to his success is his skill at understanding the DOWN side.

Remember, there’s ALWAYS a downside.  Ignoring it doesn’t make it go away.  And if you don’t see it, it just means you’re not seeing the while picture.  Get experienced eyes on the deal to help you.

Lesson #8:  You can’t make a profit on property you don’t own. 

If you fail to buy property because of fear … or you lose a property because of greed … you’re not going to grow your portfolio or achieve your financial goals.

So yes, look at the downside.  But then look for ways to mitigate it.

When you’re done, weigh the upside against the downside … compare it to other opportunities concurrently available … and if it looks good, do it.

Over-thinking can be just as bad as not thinking.

Lesson #9:  Never over-expose your portfolio to any one deal … no matter how good it looks.

Firewall sections of your portfolio through entity structuring, selective and restrictive use of personal guarantees, and syndication.

As you can see, there are MANY lessons to gleaned from reflecting on financial history … and listening to smart people with diverse perspectives, experiences and expertise.

Until next time … good investing!


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


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Don’t get lost in the lag …

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

At least for a while …

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oops.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And it happened FAST.

Which bring us to today …

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We just keep listening.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until next time … good investing!


More From The Real Estate Guys™…

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

This is getting old … and that’s good

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

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

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

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

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

Or this one …

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

Or this one …

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Consider this quote from the “appreciation” report …

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

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

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

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

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

BUT …

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Residential assisted living homes.

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

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

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

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

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

Think about it …

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

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

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

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

Contrast this to a RESIDENTIAL operator …

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until next time … good investing!


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 dichotomy economy …

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

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

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

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

That all sounds awesome.

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

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

All that sounds mostly scary.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The bottom-line is …

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

How are YOU preparing?

Until next time … good investing!

More From The Real Estate Guys™…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Think about it …

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hmmmm … that’s weird.

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

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

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

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

But that’s not happening.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Is that bad?  It depends.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until next time … good investing!


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.

Headlines say real estate funds performing well …

Regular followers know we’re news hawks.  We scour the headlines for clues about opportunities and threats facing real estate investors.

We look at the good, the bad, the ugly … and consider things at the micro, macro, geo-political, and systemic level.

Even though we watch a broad range of real estate niches … we tend to look at the world through the eyes of a syndicator.

We think raising private capital to invest in real estate is the single BEST opportunity for real estate investors … and one of the best business opportunities in ANY industry.

So it didn’t surprise us when the following headline popped up on page one ofYahoo Finance, the most visited financial website on the internet …

Closed-End Real Estate Funds Are Performing Well

The real estate market is booming … Not surprisingly … funds that focus on real estate have been posting good numbers …”

A “closed-end fund” just means a fund which raises a specified amount of money, then closes to new investors.

This is different than a typical “open-end fund” like a mutual fund which continually accepts new investors.

Our point today is … 

Mainstream headlines are informing the market real estate is a winner …

…and that individual investors can access real estate through funds … versus taking on the personal hassles of tenants, toilets, and termites.

Of course, the aforementioned article is talking about publicly traded funds, which come with a host of risks most Main Street investors are unaware of.

But if YOU are thinking of investing in real estate through a publicly traded fund, OR …

… if you’re talking to Main Street investors about investing in YOUR real estateprivate placement (syndication) …

… then you’ll find it VERY helpful to understand the risks in public funds.

Publicly-traded real estate funds can be used as gambling chips in Wall Street casinos … just like any publicly traded stock.

This means speculators (gamblers) can short-sell, trade on margin, and use options … all of which add volatility to the share price.

So even if the underlying asset is as stable as the rock of Gibraltar … the share price can bounce all over the place as it’s traded in the casinos.

Of course, if you’re a long-term buy-and-hold paper-asset investor, maybe that doesn’t matter to you … just don’t watch the share prices or you might get nauseous.

But MUCH less understood is the counter-party risk every paper-asset investor faces because of the way paper-asset trading is facilitated.

In short, counter-party risk is the exposure you have when an asset on your balance sheet (a stock, bank account, a bond) which is simultaneously someone else’s liability.

In other words, they own the the asset and OWE it to you.  YOU own an IOU.

If the counter-party fails to perform or deliver … you LOSE.

Most people understand the concept of counter-party risk … but many don’t understand all the places they’re actually exposed to it.

And it’s a LOT more than you might think.

In the case of publicly-traded securities, like closed-end real estate funds, you’re NOT the registered owner … your broker is.

You get “beneficial ownership” through what is effectively an IOU from your broker to you.  The fund doesn’t even know you exist.

Of course, this is all fine as long as the financial system supporting all this is sound.  But in a crisis, if the broker fails, you might end up a loser.

It’s not unlike what happened in the 2008 financial crisis …

In short, individual mortgages … which are great assets to own … were pooled into securities and made into gambling chips in the Wall Street casinos.

Because the “beneficial ownership” of the mortgages changed hands so quickly, it was all facilitated through a system called Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems (MERS).

When the financial system nearly collapsed in 2008, the flaws of MERS were exposed … as the legal documentation required to affirm clean title to the asset wasn’t properly maintained.

Some of the beneficial owners of the mortgages couldn’t prove legal ownership and lost when property owners challenged foreclosure in courts. Huge mess.

So there’s a BIG difference between “beneficial ownership” and actual ownership.  And the difference isn’t exposed until it matters.

Sometimes that’s ugly for investors.

The GREAT news for you and your investors is … it’s NOT necessary to play in the Wall Street casinos to get into a real estate fund.

In fact, we’d argue it’s better if you don’t.

If you’re following The Real Estate Guys™, you’re probably already a fan of real estate and may already be a successful individual property investor.

Maybe you’re considering, or have already started, putting together groups of investors to syndicate bigger deals.

Or maybe you’re tired of being an active investor … and now you’re looking to stay in real estate, but as a passive investor in another investor’s deal.

In any case, it’s important to understand the BIG differences between public and private real estate fund investing.

As an investor in a private offering, you directly own the entity which directly owns the asset.  There’s no counter-party who owes you the shares. YOU own them.

We think when you delve into the differences, you’ll agree private offerings are arguably a MUCH better way to go.

Of course, if you’re interested in starting your OWN real estate investment fund, the timing couldn’t be much better.

Headlines are telling the marketplace real estate funds are performing well.

And when you explain the important differences between public and private funds, we’re guessing you’ll get more than your fair share of investors interested in investing with YOU.

Main Street investing in Main Street … outside of the Wall Street casinos.  We like it.

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.

Clues In The News – Crisis and Growth Opportunities

Warren Buffet. Also known as the Oracle of Omaha, this investing heavyweight spends a lot of his time doing one particular thing.

It’s not scoping out new investments. Not chatting with folks in the investment industry. Not attending board meetings … although we bet he does spend a bit of time doing all of those things.

This investing genius spends 80 percent of his time reading.

From trade-specific journals to general financial news, reading and listening to the headlines is essential to staying informed. But just as important is reading between the lines.

That’s why we bring you Clues In The News … our take on how recent headlines affect real estate investors like YOU. In this edition, you’ll hear from:

  • Your media examiner host, Robert Helms
  • His (slightly OCD) news peruser co-host, Russell Gray

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Mortgage rates for single-family homes rising

Many articles are saying it … mortgage rates continue to climb and show no signs of stopping soon. Note, this information applies specifically to single-family homes.

This is important news … but before you react, stop and ask yourself the question, “If interest rates were guaranteed to rise, what would I do?”

The answer is probably buy a deal that makes sense today and lock in the interest rate so you get a competitive advantage.

Data from this Redfin survey shows less than 4 percent of potential homebuyers would cancel their decision to buy if interest rates increased … so people will keep buying even if it squeezes their bottom line.

But buying at a too-high interest rate means high cost inputs, higher rents, and potentially more vacancies. Getting in while the interest rate is lower is an important factor for success.

We also suggest you consider the advantages of adjustable-rate mortgages versus fixed-rate mortgages. Adjustable-rate mortgages may start lower depending on the market, but have no certainty of staying the same.

Fixed-rate mortgages, on the other hand, allow you to lock in a predictable rate that won’t rise or fall with the market. And when you’re locked into a rate for 10-15 years, having consistency is particularly important.

An equal concern is the strength of the dollar. If rents are sliding upwards faster than wages, your tenants are in trouble.

That’s why investing in A-class properties can be a poor strategy (more on that later).

Tighter guidelines plus higher mortgage rates can mean good things for landlords because fewer people are buying their own homes. So pay attention and think strategically … because a large part of success is getting in at the right time.

Is the multifamily sector overheated?

Multifamily properties have attracted a lot of money. We’re now hearing from many investors who wonder whether the sector is overheated.

Interest rates are rising, and since multifamily properties typically have 10-15 year loan periods, investors do need to be careful here.

If you’re a multifamily investor, you also need to keep in mind that rising interest rates not only affect you … they affect your tenants too.

According to a CNBC article, half of all renter households pay more than 30 percent of their income in rent. That means there’s no real wiggle room for inflation … and no real wiggle room if YOU need to raise rents.

One apartment developer interviewed in the article above says, “There is an acute crisis headed our way.” We can see this in the high numbers of luxury apartments being developed … and then standing empty.

At the same time, we’re seeing a shortage in B- and C-class housing.

Because of today’s costs, it’s difficult for developers to build new buildings for non-luxury buyers. And Wall Street investors see luxury as a safer investment … even though it typically brings 2-3 percent yields.

If you’re a syndicator, all of this information can help you understand the economic world you’re operating in. A development explosion in the high-end apartment space DOES NOT mean you should be investing in that space.

This information should be the start of your research. Read between the lines, look for the wise voices, and start following them … but mostly importantly, talk to the people who have boots on the ground.

And remember, just because the economy looks bad does not mean investment options are bad. In fact, a downturn can be the best time to buy.

What’s happening on Wall Street?

We like to read trade-specific news. But we also think it’s important to read and watch mainstream financial news because that’s what everyone else is seeing.

The difference, though, is that we always attempt to delve into what’s beneath the headlines.

An article published by Bloomberg notes that Wall Street investors are beginning to snap up cheaper single-family properties they had formerly ignored.

After focusing on a particular niche … “safer” luxury-class homes and apartments … Wall Street is now lowering expectations.

Realize that what Wall Street investors are essentially doing is speculation.

They’re trying to “buy low, sell high” without investing the time and effort to research their product and control outcomes the way real estate investors can do.

But Wall Street’s foray into single-family homes affects YOU … because sourcing inventory is harder when there are more hands in the game.

It is possible to get in front of Wall Street investors … in fact, Wall Street by nature is essentially following in the steps of smart real estate investors.

But now you know what the big players are doing … and you can think about where you can step in before the market becomes saturated.

All it takes to spot the right clues is a bit of attention.

How does the tech industry affect investors?

The retail apocalypse has caused a huge shift in the industrial and office space. Products are being sold online … instead of in buildings.

But the industry behind this shift can bring boons to real estate investors.

According to the National Real Estate Investor, tech firms continue to seek out new markets for expansion.

Expanding tech companies bring huge job numbers wherever they go … and with jobs comes a need for housing.

Other markets, like office and retail space, are also impacted directly and indirectly with population and industry shifts.

To get ahead of the game, look at what factors make a market appealing to tech CEOs. A great example is Amazon’s list of market criteria, although each company will seek out different qualities.

A tech hub creates critical mass. Tech companies not only create tech jobs, but attract and are attracted to various other industries, like airlines and shipping companies.

As you pay attention and understand where businesses are growing, your ability to align yourself strategically with market shifts and new hot spots will improve dramatically.

The headlines in this episode of Clues In The News bring both challenges and opportunities. Now it’s your turn … get out there, do some research, and start reading between the lines! It’s the only way to get ahead of the game.


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.

Trickle down Trump-style …

In a financialized economy, it’s easy to obsess over the dollar, Bitcoin, gold, forex, the Fed, interest rates, stock indexes, etc.

Financialization is when an economy emphasizes making money from money … as opposed to making money from making things.

Think of it as the difference between Wall Street and Main Street.

But there’s currently a subtle shift taking place we think is noteworthy.  We call it …

Trump-style Trickle-down

It’s said Donald Trump got elected by working-class people … those who aren’t at the financialization party.

These are folks whose manufacturing jobs trickled overseas for the last three decades.

When you’re underemployed with no savings, you can’t play financialization.  Your balance sheet is missing all those paper assets being pumped full of air from cheap money.

Wall Street’s trickle-down has been Main Street’s “bleed out.”

Does 3-D printing trump paper printing?

When we first asked then-candidate Trump about his plan for the American real estate dream, he simply answered, “Jobs.”

Since then, Trump has been emphasizing manufacturing jobs.  We think the distinction is important.

Manufacturing jobs … or the lack thereof … is something multi-time Summit at Sea™ faculty member Peter Schiff has railed about for years.

Peter insists no economy can print its way to prosperity.

Peter contends a prosperous economy MUST produce things …  and not just blow up paper asset bubbles.

Simply making money from money isn’t enough to keep Main Street off the welfare rolls. There’s no role for them in play in a financialized economy.

Main Street needs good-paying jobs … the kind that come from production and not just consumption.

For residential real estate investors, it’s more than just a philosophical discussion.

It’s central to strategically selecting the right geographic markets, demographics, and product-types.

After all, real estate is about the local economy … and the flow of cash from productivity into rents.  In short, the best tenants have jobs.

Not all jobs are created equal.

While any rent is good, to really understand your real estate investing, it’s a good idea to look further up the food chain … to see what’s trickling down and from where.

People who pour coffee, clean clothes, mow lawns, cut hair … activities we call tertiary employment … usually do so for folks with primary or secondary employment.

So if Acme Manufacturing sub-contracts to Dan’s Welding … and Reuben the welder is buying coffee from Bonnie the barista (your tenant) …

… where does YOUR rent REALLY come from?

And what’s the core economic strength of the local economy … the coffee shop, the welding shop, or the manufacturing company?

What happens to the local economy if Acme moves away?  Who does Reuben weld for so he can buy coffee from Bonnie?

Sure, Acme might not be the only primary employer in the market …

… but if the reasons Acme moved also motivate others to leave … the market loses eventually its anchors and starts to bleed out.

Financialization vs Industrialization

“Trickle down” can be a polarizing term.  But it doesn’t mean the same thing to everyone.

President Trump has the White House, so whether we like or agree with him or not, he’s pulling the levers and we aren’t.

After a year of observing, it seems like Trump’s got his own version of trickle-down and is pushing it forward.

Trickle-down Reagan-style was running up the debt and military spending, which pumped lots of cash into the economy and created a boom.

Yes, tax reform was involved … which blew up real estate and the savings and loan business.  But that’s a discussion for a different day.

Reaganomics “worked” because starting out, the US had a good balance sheet, lots of manufacturing capacity, and high interest rates.

Just like a household with very little debt, lots of income, and adjustable rate loans in a falling rate environment …  you can rack up a LOT of debt for a long time before it starts hurting.

Trickle-down Greenspan / Bernanke / Yellen style was financialization.  De-regulation opened the door, but cheap money from the Fed fueled it … and continues to.

Advocates of trickle-down financialization say pumping up paper assets will make uber-rich people uber-richer … on paper.

Then, the theory goes … the uber-rich will lend to Main Street, who will then spend on Main Street … and eventually the cheap money ends up with Bonnie the barista.

Sounds a little like leftovers to us, but you can decide for yourself if it’s working.  We think Trump’s shocking win says Main Street didn’t think so.

Trickle-down industrialization appears to be Trump’s game plan.

The idea is to create an environment attractive to Acme Manufacturing to start, return, and expand … on Main Street.

It’s a mix of Reagan-style tax cuts and military spending, more Greenspan / Bernanke / Yellen-style cheap money pumping the stock market …

… but it’s all strategically aimed at boosting domestic manufacturing.

If Trump can get his agenda implemented, only time and math will tell if it works.

Oh, and about that math …

How do YOU measure success?

Now that we’ve got you jazzed about… okay, moderately interested in … paying attention to the direction of domestic manufacturing …

… we’re going to complicate things ever so slightly. But for good reason!

We live in a world of perverted units of measure.  It’s something Steve Forbes warned us about the very first time we talked to him.

Most reports we read measure productivity in dollars.  But a fluctuating dollar can give false readings.

Think about it …

If your business produces 1,000 widgets per month at $100 each, you have a $100,000 per month business.  Good job.

If inflation (a falling dollar) causes your widgets to go “up” to $120, you’re a $120,000 per month business … BUT, your production is the SAME.

Have you grown?  Not in terms of real production.

THIS is why it matters to real estate investors …

If at the $120 price, 10% of your customers can no longer afford your widgets, your production falls by 10% to only 900 widgets per month.

At $120 each, 900 widgets sold is $108,000 per month.

Hmmmm …

Measuring in dollars, your business is UP by 8% … from $100k/mo to $108k/mo.  Your look good on paper (there’s a lot of that going around) …

But by production, you’re DOWN by 10% …  so you need 10% less labor, supplies, space, sub-contractors, etc.

It’s like reverse-trickle down, but not really.  Money isn’t flowing up.  It’s really more like bleeding out.  This is why some folks don’t like inflation.

Here’s the point … and thanks for sticking with us …

The U.S. economy looks good … measured in dollars.  But some say there’s still a LOT of work to get real productivity up.

Still, the November jobs report had a ray of sunshine with a spike in manufacturing jobs …  and this article says U.S. manufacturing executives see growth in 2018.  Good.

But if those indicate this is the front-end of trickle-down industrialization that brings prosperity to Main Street, it could be a fun ride for real estate investors.

We’ll keep watching … and so should you.

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 TRUTH about the June jobs report …

Last week’s U.S. jobs report has been largely reported as positive. 

Of course, real estate investors prefer their tenants actually have jobs, so we agree … any economy creating jobs is preferable to one which isn’t.

Here’s a few of the headlines and some notable excerpts …

June U.S. jobs report beats expectations – Yahoo Finance, July 7, 2017

“The economy added 222,000 jobs in June, more than expected, while …”

“… the unemployment rate rose slightly to 4.4%.”

Weird.  So it looks like the U.S. is still creating more job seekers than jobs. 

Meanwhile …   

“ … the labor force participation rate also rose slightly, to 62.8% from 62.7% in May …”

That’s pretty slight.   

So there’s more people back in the game,  but labor force participation is still among the lowest in 40 years.

Wage gains in June, however, were disappointing with average hourly earnings rising 0.2% over the prior month and 2.5% over the prior year.” 

In May, wage gains were disappointing, rising 0.2% over the prior month and just 2.5% over the prior year … revised down in Friday’s report to show gains were just 0.1% over last month and 2.4% over last year in May.”

Okay …  let’s take a breath and digest some of this …

First, these are just macro numbers … but all real estate is local.  So don’t get too happy, sad, or confused. 

Also, these numbers are seasonally adjusted (no one knows what that really means) and are frequently revised later (as you can see with the May wage gains).

So don’t get too attached to the numbers either.

Still, the numbers are important for a few reasons … 

  • They provide a general idea of the overall direction of things … probably more positive than negative.  It’s the macro sea your investments are floating in.
  • Power players like Wall Street, the Fed, the politicians, corporate CEOs, and credit issuers all think these numbers are important … and they use these numbers to make ivory-tower decisions about interest rates, lending, taxes, and expansion … which affect Main Street investors like YOU.
  • The numbers START you on the path of digging down into LOCAL challenges and opportunities … jobs, migration, taxes, etc.

For example, the Fed sees low unemployment, higher wages, increased labor force participation as a trigger to raise rates and tighten money. 

This sets off a chain reaction  

Wall Street’s extended love affair with bond speculation might be coming to an end … because when rates go UP, bond prices go DOWN.

Conversely, when bond prices go down, rates go UP.

And if you go talk to your friendly neighborhood mortgage professional, you’ll discover that mortgage rates very often pivot off ten-year bond yields.

So headlines like these mean more to real estate investors than you may realize … and sure enough …

10-year Treasury yield highest in 8 weeks as global debt selloff resumes –MarketWatch, July 6, 2017

Why a surge in bond yields could be around the corner – CNBC, July 6, 2017 

We could go on and on … but you get the idea.  

As we’ve been saying for many months, it’s probably a REALLY good idea to carefully review all your debt … and make sure you’re prepared for the potential of rising rates.

The window of opportunity to tighten things up may be closing.  And it’s usually MUCH better to be a lot early than even just a little late.

So that’s some of the macro-picture. 

Now let’s dig into the jobs report and see if there’s some intelligence we can use to identify local challenges and opportunities.

We like this chart from the Yahoo Finance article …

A few observations …

Notice the BIG gainer is Education and Health … followed by a fairly distant Leisure and Hospitaity, which is closely followed by an effective tie for third with Government and Professional and Business Services. 

The TINY contributors are (smallest to biggest) … ManufacturingTransportation and Warehousing, and Utilities.

You can see who the biggest LOSER is … and who’s in the middle.

So what useful insights can we glean from all this?

Big picture, you need to wonder about the REAL strength of an economy which is “growing” in education, healthcare, leisure, hospitality, government, and business services.

Think of it this way …

Is a business that’s hiring file clerks, bookkeepers, IT workers, human resource managers and trainers … actually “growing”?

Sure, they’re growing payroll and overhead.  But who’s bringing in outside revenue?  Who’s actually making things and filling orders?  

These are the activities which make a business profitable.

No wonder the U.S. runs a trade deficit.  The economy is largely overhead and consumption. 

So be careful about buying into a sustainable growth argument about any country, state, region or business that’s not growing by creating products and selling them.

Everything else are support services which should only grow in SUPPORT of real growth … not in place of it.

With that said, it’s obvious from the chart which sectors have the job growth, so regions strong in those areas are probably positioned to have more demand for real estate.

And while it’s smart to cautious in these markets, there’s nothing wrong with taking advantage of growth in areas heavy in support industries … especially if the region attracts money from outside.

For example, government pulls money in from it’s entire jurisdiction.  So properties near government hubs can do well, even if the real productive engine is located elsewhere.

Mining and Logging is interesting for that reason also.  Those commodities are usually sold outside the region.  So they bring money in from afar.  

Meanwhile the jobs are tethered to the geography.  It’s hard to move a forest, natural gas well, or copper mine to China or Mexico.

Also, when it comes to commodity-based real estate investing, you can not only play at the residential and industrial property level … owning the building people live, work and shop in …

… you can actually own the very land that’s producing the commodity.

Leisure and Hospitality businesses located in the right place can also produce jobs and profit locally from prosperity located elsewhere.

If a hotel or resort location has broad and unique appeal, it can pull customers and money in from around the globe.  

 It’s why we like certain parts of Belize, and Orlando.

The lesson here is to dig past the headline numbers and look for the geographic, demographic, and product niches that are out-performing … or have the potential to.

Then start watching from afar.  When you think you see an opportunity, it’s probably time to go on a field trip and build boots-on-the-ground relationships to help you find and manage that uniquely profitable property.

Until next time … good investing!  


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