As we all observe and fear the Coronavirus, we see many cities under “shelter-at-home” restrictions, and many “non-essential” businesses closing. Then on the other hand, the Fed lowered rates almost to zero, and mortgage rates, after a short spike, are starting to settle down near the lowest point ever. Some people fear a recession is likely to follow, and if we remember the recession of 2008, I think it’s quite possible. That depends, of course, on the length of the lock-down.
If a recession does occur, let’s point out some of the differences between the recession of 2008 and the next recession, if it hits.
Before the 2008 recession happened, there was a major boom in many states. Home prices in states like Arizona, Nevada and Florida went through the roof. The media was shouting “It’s a bubble! It has to burst!” Prices of homes in Phoenix, for example, nearly doubled from the beginning of 2004 till the middle of 2006. Not all states participated in the party, for example, Texas and Oklahoma have not gone up very much during that time.
When the 2008 recession hit, the markets that went down precipitously were, of course, the exact markets that had participated in the 2004-2006 boom. Places in Arizona, Nevada, Florida, and other states. Prices tanked and crashed quite a bit. However not across the board, states like Texas and Oklahoma did not go down very much during the recession of 2008.
By contrast, at the present time, especially in affordable markets like Oklahoma City, Tulsa, Baton Rouge, Central Florida, parts of Atlanta, Raleigh and others, there are currently no price bubbles. No major boom has happened, Thus the likelihood of a major price crash in such markets is much slimmer than the markets which crashed in the 2008 recession. There are very high priced markets now, the expensive markets in San Francisco, for example (which has already started going down in price last year). In such markets, there may be a stronger effect on prices. Also, when you invest in a brand new home in a good area in Oklahoma and pay $170,000. You are buying the home not much over the basic construction and land cost. Again, the probability of an “intrinsic value” home like this going down much is small. By contrast, a $2M home in San Francisco, which cost $900K to build, has a lot of “air” in the price, with a higher likelihood of prices going down in San Francisco.
The recession of 2008 was created by housing. Lenders released all limits, and loans were made to virtually anyone that was human, almost regardless of credit or ability to pay. Some loans were up to 125% of the value of the house. This bad debt, called “sub-prime”, was then packaged among other debt, and amazingly, the credit agency gave these packages high ratings, as if it was a quality debt product. Then these faulty packages sold on Wall Street, and financial wizards found way to leverage them enormously. Once defaults on the bad loans started to hit, the entire structure unraveled.
By contrast, at the present we are still under the Dodd-Frank Act, which was drafted after the 2008 recession. Borrowing is now much harder and lengthier than it was before the 2008 recession. Even borrowers with great credit are finding the current loan processes frustrating. The amount of sub-prime loans is minuscule relative the period preceding the 2008 recession, and steps were taken to make the abuses with rating agencies be much harder to repeat. Thus the next recession is likely not to be caused by bad loans. It is clear that if another recession comes, its effects on rental home investing will be quite different than the recession of 2008.
I believe that the best way to invest in real estate is to buy brand new homes, in affordable large metropolitan areas, where the rent numbers match well with prices. Then finance the homes with a fixed-rate loan. To the best of my knowledge long term fixed rate loans like we get here in the US don’t exist elsewhere. The monthly payment and the mortgage balance never change with the cost of living, while everything else does. That means inflation constantly erodes the true buying buyer of your debt, making your debt ever smaller in real dollars.
For these kinds of homes, purchased anywhere from $150K to $250K, I believe the effects of the next recession will be minimal. Rates are very low, however, so fixed rate loans will retain these great rates forever.
The act of buying good rental homes in large metro areas and holding them as rental for the long term, where the loan erodes, is a future-changer. It does not change your future instantly or even within a short time, but over the long term, this strategy is a powerful future changer. I have seen people retire well, send kids to college, and look much stronger financially thanks to these simple yet powerful investments.
Since these investments show their power over the long term, and since the interest rates are so favorable now, and since a possible impending recession is unlikely to have effects on prices like the 2008 recession, I believe this would be a good time to invest.
As an extra “bonus”, the virus fear creates more flexibility with sellers, including builders, and the ability to negotiate better prices.
I would be happy to discuss it with anyone who may wish to inquire further.
As we read, daily, about the spread of the Coronavirus (now also called Covid-19, but I will use Corona throughout), we are all concerned about the spread, mortality rates, means to protect ourselves and so on.
The stock market has taken a massive plunge over the past few days, on Coronavirus fears and how they may affect the economy.
Certain industries are already affected, the Olympics may be cancelled, and vacation spots are suffering due to flight and vacation cancellations.
As the stock market goes down, people who own stock feel less wealthy. However, it is reported in many sources that heavy stock concentrations in one’s portfolio occur in the upper quarter of income in the US.
Due to the virus fears, people become less mobile, fly less and stay put more.
The lure of the safety of one’s home gets more into focus.
In the affordable markets in which we invest, the type of homes we buy as investments are the type of homes purchased by homeowners who are squarely in the middle of the pack in terms of income, and even below. It is quite possible that a good segment of this population may not feel less wealthy. Their desire for a home will likely not diminish, and that means the demand for the type of homes we invest in is likely to stay strong.
The Fed is Already hinting that they are considering lowering interest rates to help the economy in the aftermath of the Coronavirus economic effects. That is at a time when interest rates are already some of the lowest in history. If rates go further down, the homes will become yet more affordable, with a potential for even greater demand, and even price appreciation. It is also possible that demand may be increased as some people move out of stocks and seek an alternative investment.
The organic need for families to have a place to live is not likely to diminish in the face of the Coronavirus. If people buy these affordable homes, especially with lowered rates, it bodes well for us investors. If people rent them, it also bodes well for us, as our vacancy rates go down.
There may well be adverse effects such as a dearth of workers due to tighter border controls and less travel, a dearth of building materials which usually arrive freely from all over, including the far east, and other shortages. Ironically, even these adverse effects are likely to increase prices, as supply may struggle to keep up with the usual demand.
This is a good lesson for us about the risk of investing in “vacation rentals”. Many younger investors may not be aware, or have forgotten, the devastating effect of the last recession on vacation rentals. I constantly talk to investor wondering why they shouldn’t buy vacation rentals. Just as in a recession, vacations are a luxury, and this luxury is one of the first to get dropped when circumstances are difficult. Even Airbnb’s may experience pain during a recession, as well as, possibly, in the face of the virus scare.
Investing in single family homes in good areas in large metropolitan areas in the Sun Belt states for affordable prices, looks even more solid in the face of difficult circumstances, relative to vacation rentals. That is one of the reasons this is what we focus on.
One of the reasons I have been so steadfast about investing in single family homes is their vast future benefits, in addition to their great relative safety.
Morgan Stanley just released, on February 28th, a 3-scenario report as to how the virus spread may affect the economy. Currently they are estimating what they call “Scenario 2”, in which the recovery we now experience is stunted in a relatively minor way before means are attained to stop the spread of the virus, as the most likely senario. The 3rd and worse scenario may lead to a recession (albeit after all the checks and balances congress installed after the major 2008 recession, I believe a future recession to be quite a bit milder than the last one, especially since one of the reasons for the severity of the 2008 recession was the massive amount of sub-prime loans, a phenomenon that has been greatly reduced by congress since, and is not nearly as prominent currently.
We have seen prices of homes in many markets drop sharply during the recession, but we also know that simply holding on to the homes, while the 30-year fixed rate loan continues to be eroded by inflation, gets us out of that cycle and into the correction. I myself have already experienced it several times in my investing career.
Investors who have been buying older homes from bank foreclosures during the recession are now realizing some of the benefits of buying new homes built this year, in 2015 direct from developers (or minimally a massive renovation – like new). The lower future incidence of repairs, the warranties, the potential developer giveaways–possible only in new home purchases (a builder can give the buyer a covered patio which may be a $6,000 option, but only costs the builder $2,000 to build) and the modern amenities and floor plans are starting to attract more investors.
For more information, you are invited to attend our quarterly ICG Real Estate 1-Day Expo this Saturday. You will not only meet teams from the most relevant markets and see the possibilities for yourself, but there will be expert speakers on important topics such as the new twists in Asset Protection (you must know about this), buying real estate from your Self-Directed IRA, and getting real estate financing for purchases from within your IRA.
There will be information for new investors and established investors on how to move forward powerfully. There will also be lenders to update us as to the ever-improving loan possibilities for investors (domestic and foreign), and lots of great Q&A and networking. The event is near the San Francisco Airport this Saturday, March 7th, from 10 AMinfo@icgre.com or call us at 415-927-7504.You may also register by emailing us at
We are excited! ICG Real Estate Investments (International Capital Group) are going up to Seattle to put on a mini-version of our quarterly Real Estate 1-Day Expo that is usually held near SFO in South San Francisco. As most of you know, we have been doing these expos for 20 years and there is always so much information. I personally return home more knowledgeable every time, as everything in real estate and real estate investing changes weekly, if not daily it seems. I am putting information about his event in a blog, as I want to share it with many new people as possible, and I know I will be connecting with many new folks on LinkedIn as well.
I have not spoken in the area for about six years, and it is going to be great to re-connect with so many that I used to connect with on a continual basis. Building relationships is what we are about and the excitement is mounting! It will be like a family reunion. (Hopefully, that is a pleasant thought to most of you!) Based on demand we are looking forward to two evenings, which will allow folks to attend twice or pick a day that works best for their schedule.
These two evenings will not be easily forgotten, and we are available to talk before or after and even during the events, as well as meeting over the phone, well after the event. The Mini Real Estate Expo (s) is a great way to start out the new year with hard-hitting information you can use to be a better investor. This action-packed event will be held from 6-9:30 pm on two nights, Wednesday, February 5th and Thursday, February 6th. This way, busy Seattleites have two options to work the event into their schedule. Many of you requested that I have the event in two different locations for added convenience, so we have provided that. You can also come to both nights if you desire!
Patricia Wangsness and Adiel Gorel will be the expert presenters, and you will hear from expert loan sources and learn from market teams across the country that will be flying in to tell you about the hottest markets and the proven methods to use for success. Here is a taste of what you can expect:
- How to identify the best markets for investments
- How to invest when you are “too busy to invest” (step-by-step)
- Learn how your properties can be rented and managed well from afar
- Pay for your children’s college education using real estate (or for your own education)
- Secure a powerful retirement using real estate
- How to benefit from recession prices in 2014, and where to do it
- Learn how to acquire loans you did not know you could get
- How to benefit from special market situations few people know about and how to use it to your advantage
- There are ways to successfully own multiple properties and manage them–we will show you how
There will be extensive Q & A time. There will also be teams there in person to meet with you one-on-one; they will also be speaking about the hottest markets in the U.S.
This will be one of the premier networking events in 2014 so far!
Date and location of the mini expos:
- Wednesday, February 5, 2014 – Redmond Marriott Town Center – 7401 164th Ave. NE, Redmond
Phone: (425) 498-4000
- Thursday, February 6, 2014 – Verity Credit Union in Northgate – 11027 Meridian Ave. N Suite 102
Seattle, Phone: (206) 440-9000
Any additional questions about the venues or if you have trouble on the day of the event, please call our public relations pro, Lynette Hoy on her cell (415) 694-3004 or at her office in the Seattle area (206) 455-9366. Lynette will be at both events, so please call her cell phone between 4-9: 30 pm on those nights if you need assistance.
Look forward to seeing you there. I can’t wait!
Up until the beginning of 2012 there were some states that lead the way as far as investor interest: California, Nevada, Arizona and Florida. That interest on the part of investors was justified, as these four states were the most clearly noticeable examples of recession housing prices. These four states were the “poster children” for extreme housing price collapse.
During 2012 and 2013 all four states exhibited strong housing price appreciation. Phoenix led everyone with a 70% jump. Las Vegas wasn’t far behind and California process improved rapidly. Florida prices went up but the uptick was tempered by far slower judicial foreclosure processes in Florida, as opposed to the quick and efficient trustee sale in the other three states.
Now, in the middle of 2014, Florida prices have improved quite a bit and yet, due to the slow foreclosure process, which creates a steady trickle of supply into the marketplace, Florida is still a place where investors look to buy. However buying in Arizona, Nevada and California has slowed significantly for now.Other states, which have not experienced such extreme price swings, are now becoming attractive investor destinations.
A prime example is Oklahoma City, with low unemployment and the benefit of the oil & gas industries. Rents are high and property taxes are low. Similarly, other “middle of the country” markets in states like Kansas and Missouri are starting to attract more buyers, as is the state of Texas (with a strong economy, high rents, but also very high property taxes and insurance rates) and states like Ohio.Overall it is possible that soon the effects of the recession will no longer be dominant and marketplace demand by investor will revert to parameters before 2008.