How to Buy Rental Property Sight-Unseen

Buy turnkey house sight with confidence

It sounds scary, right? Committing to something as significant as a real estate purchase — often with a large mortgage — and you have never even seen the property.  Yet busy professionals who don’t have time to jet around the country looking at potential investment properties do it all the time.  Why? Because their local real estate market may not be booming … but that doesn’t preclude them from profiting from a market that is. 

Look … seeing is believing, but it’s not always possible, and incredibly,  20 years ago no-one would even think of buying a house without seeing it, but we live in a virtually abundant world now.  So if you’re considering buying a rental property sight-unseen, here’s a quick guide on how to do it right. 

“What if they’re selling me property that doesn’t exist?”

This question comes up a lot, and it’s honestly not an issue at all. Even if you don’t get on a plane to inspect the property yourself, it’s almost impossible to close a transaction on a property that doesn’t actually exist. Multiple people will be able to attest to the fact that there is, in fact, a house on the property in question and to the condition of that house. 

There’s the appraiser and other people who report to the lending company about the collateral they are lending against. There’s the home inspector you may hire for the physical due diligence. The insurance agent won’t be able to track down the house for their purposes, and finally it will raise some serious red flags in the title work, if the house doesn’t actually exist.  It is actually more likely that the house does exist, but there’s a flaw in the title or the seller is not the actual owner.  It’s something that can happen even if you’re buying a house next door to where you live. At MartelTurnkey we make sure you have a clear and free title before you close. 

Bottom line — don’t worry too much about signing for a house only to discover you are actually getting a burnout or an empty plot of land. There are several professionals confirming the property is-what-it-is along the path.

Build a Local Team

Real estate investing is a team effort, whether you buy down the street or in another state. The key to successfully buying real estate sight-unseen is to have a team on the ground along with a trusted turnkey partner.


Your team could consist of:


Realtor or wholesaler.

Local realtors and real estate wholesalers can be valuable “boots on the ground,” especially if they want a crack at selling the property at the end of the investment cycle. 


Contractors and handymen.

You need these guys in place for the inevitable repair tickets your tenant will file. They can also be your “eyes and ears,” giving you checkups on the condition of your property after closing.  Of course when you work with a property manager, they have a Rolodex of professionals and often an internal team too. 


Property manager.

You don’t have to hire a professional property management company, but doing so can go a long way to making an out-of-state rental property a truly “passive” investment.  All MartelTurnkey properties come with a property management team in place. Read more about this here.


Having a local team makes particularly good sense if you plan to buy multiple deals in the city,  building an out-of-state turnkey empire.



Being an “out-of-state” landlord is not as difficult as it sounds. MartelTurnkey makes it even easier by providing out-of-state investors with already-tenanted deals to purchase at competitive prices with a property manager in place. No renovation, no rehab, no long vacancies to weather — just close the deal and start collecting rent, all from the comfort of your own home!  Financial freedom can be yours. 

How to Do “Due Diligence” on a Rental Property, in 3 Easy Steps

Due Diligence MTK

“Do your due diligence!” If you have heard it once, you have heard it a million times — often from someone who has never done “due diligence” in their lives.


It sounds good, but no one ever stops to think about how unhelpful that platitude is. Okay … I should do my due diligence. Granted. But what does that mean?


Honestly, there is no need to be cryptic. When it comes to real estate, “due diligence” means three things … and none of them are rocket science. In many cases you will have professional help.


Here are the three critical stages of due diligence.

1. Financial Due Diligence

Financial due diligence is the process of “crunching the numbers” on your investment. This is how you determine whether or not it is a “good investment.”


Here’s how to do it …

Market Analysis

Analyze the current conditions of the local real estate market and determine whether or not you are getting the property at a good price. A real estate agent may be able to help, or you can do it yourself using online tools like Redfin or Zillow.

Cash Flow Analysis

Determine the gross potential rent the property can produce (based on prevailing market rents for similar properties) and subtract the total expenses. We break down the major expenses a landlord should account for in this article.


Check online to see what market rents are for similar properties. Look at utility bills and maintenance contracts. Examine any current leases and property tax bills. Try to corroborate everything with documentation.


If you are conservative in your estimates and come out with a positive number, you have a reasonable chance that your rental will produce positive cash flow, not negative cash flow.

Tax Savings Analysis

Figure out how much you will be able to save on your taxes every year as a result of owning this property. If you have a CPA or tax prep specialist, they may be able to help. Details to look at include which expenses in the cash flow analysis can be deducted, and how much depreciation you can take. We  explain depreciation in this article.

Appreciation Analysis

Decide how many years you expect to hold the property. Three years? Five years? Ten years? It’s up to you. You can always change it later; this is just for the purposes of due diligence.


Determine how much you expect your property to appreciate in value each year. Also, set a number for how much you expect your rent and expenses to increase each year, and project those numbers for however many years you decide to hold the investment.


Now take the total appreciation, cash flow, and tax savings over the time horizon you identified and add it all together. Throw in the mortgage principal paydown you expect over that period while you’re at it. How much bigger is that number than your down payment, closing costs, and initial repair budget? Use that number to determine your total projected return on the investment.

2. Physical Due Diligence

Physical due diligence means inspecting the property itself to determine its condition. Our lenders do not require a professional property inspection but you are able to coordinate one if you choose to do so.


Issues relayed in the inspection may affect the calculations that go into financial due diligence, including your budget for future repairs and maintenance.


3. Legal Due Diligence

Legal due diligence determines whether the property can legally be transferred to you. Determinations from legal due diligence include verifying that the seller is the legal owner and has the right to sell you the property. Legal due diligence also reveals whether the property is subject to any easements, liens, covenants, or other encumbrances that might affect the sale or the value of the property.


Legal due diligence is actually the easiest part — the title company handles this for you, during escrow.




As you can see, there’s no great mystery to due diligence. It has defined stages, and you can rely on professional help at most of those stages, especially if you are new to the landlord game.  MartelTurnkey makes it even easier. With our portfolio of available turnkey rentals, we have done much of the due diligence for you. Contact us today — we’re happy to show our work and explain everything to you until you are ready to buy with confidence, satisfied that you have “done your due diligence.”

Expenses of Running a Rental Property — a Cheat Sheet

Rental Property Expenses Cheat Sheet

Many people make big mistakes when they try to determine the cash flow potential of a rental property. Basically, they think that if the market rent for the house is higher than the mortgage, they’re in the money.


It’s not that easy. If it were, anybody could do it. Lots of houses can be purchased with a mortgage payment lower than the market rent.


But as any homeowner can tell you, the expenses don’t stop at the mortgage. If you want positive cash flow for your rental property, your rental collection needs to cover all expenses.


Here’s a cheat sheet of expenses to make sure to account for when doing your cash flow analysis for a prospective rental property:

Mortgage Payment

First and foremost, you need to know your monthly mortgage payment. This is usually where people start, but the expense rabbit hole goes much deeper. 

Property Taxes

Property taxes to the county are mandatory; otherwise, the county can foreclose on your property, just like your lender. Property taxes are usually due once or twice a year, but your lender may require you to pay monthly into an “escrow” account to make sure there are funds available to pay those property taxes.


Property insurance is usually required by a lender so a fire doesn’t destroy the collateral — at least not without an insurance policy to claim against it. 


If the property is in a FEMA-designated flood-risk zone, the lender may require flood insurance, as certain flood damage is not covered by homeowner’s insurance. 


Landlords may also want to consider liability insurance, which will protect them in the event of a lawsuit filed by a tenant. The lender may require payments into the escrow fund to cover insurance as well.

Fees and Assessments

Property taxes may not be the only assessment against your property. Condo association or homeowner’s association fees are common offenders. Yes, your HOA can foreclose on you if you don’t pay your HOA fees! The lender may require you to fund HOA fees in your escrow account too — they really don’t want someone else foreclosing your property before they can.


As the landlord, you are sometimes responsible for some utilities, like water, electricity, or gas. You may be able to bill these back to the tenant for extra income.

Repairs and Maintenance

Maintenance of the property falls to the owner, not the tenant. Maintenance emergencies can arise out of nowhere and be very costly in terms of contractor costs, handyman costs, and replacement of major appliances like a refrigerator or HVAC. Smart landlords don’t pocket every dollar of excess rent — they usually pay some or even most of it into a “maintenance fund” to cover any big expenses that may arise. 

Contract Services

Contract services are recurring maintenance services that might include gardening and landscaping, trash collection, pest control, and routine maintenance (changing air filters, flushing water heaters, etc.)

Professional Services

Professional services might include tax preparation and legal fees. Legal fees could include contract review, litigation costs, and eviction fees.  

Property Management

If you decide to hire a property manager to free yourself from operational responsibility for the property, you will usually need to pay that manager a percentage of the gross rents collected. Current rates are typically 8% -10% of the gross rents.


Vacancy Expense

Few rental properties can maintain 100% occupancy at all times. With proper management you can get close, but it’s usually wise to factor in at least some vacancy expense — time when your property is vacant and not collecting any rent. Cities usually have a prevailing market vacancy rate which you can use to be conservative, but somewhere between 5% and 10% of the gross rent potential is standard.




If you calculate all relevant expenses and come out with a number that is less than the gross rent potential, congratulations! You have identified a property with strong potential for positive cash flow, all the while appreciating in value.


Having trouble estimating expenses? Martel Turnkey can help! We have extensive experience making accurate calculations of real estate expenses. Every property in our inventory includes detailed expense projections, which we can back up with evidence. Want to do cash flow analysis the easy way? Reach out to us — we’re glad to help!

The Fed is Raising Interest Rates … What Now for the Real Estate Market?

We’ve enjoyed bottom-of-the-barrel interest rates for years, but that may be about to change. The Federal Reserve raised its key interest rate by a quarter-point last month, and we expect that to be the first of at least three interest rate hikes to happen this year.


So is the party coming to an end? What will happen to the real estate market — for homeowners and investors — in an environment of rising interest rates?

What Happens When the Fed Raises Interest Rates?

First things first, the Fed doesn’t dictate what interest rate your bank can charge you for a mortgage. That’s not the interest rate they control. 


What they do control is the Federal Funds Rate, the rate at which FDIC-insured banks are allowed to lend money to each other. 


Does this affect the interest rates you pay on your mortgage, car loan, or credit card? It can, but it’s not guaranteed. 

Why Does the Fed Raise Interest Rates?

The Fed may not directly control the interest rates banks pay, but by making it more expensive for them to lend, they are hoping that these interest rates trickle down to consumers in the form of higher interest rates on consumer loans, credit cards, and other loans. 


Why? Why raise interest rates at all? Don’t we have enough to worry about in terms of rising costs? Are the Fed just committed to being killjoys and party poopers?


Raising the Federal Funds Rate is one of several tools the Fed uses to try and control the supply of money in the economy. If it’s more expensive to lend to each other, banks will likely flood the economy with less financing. If money becomes scarce, it will become more valuable — which means it acts as a counterweight to inflation.


Considering inflation has tipped the scales at nearly 8% over the past year, you can see why the Fed would want to take this kind of action. Paying a little more interest may not be fun, but compare that to the recent increases to the price of gas and food, costing the average household over $5,200 extra out of pocket compared to last year.

What Will Happen to the Real Estate Market Now?

So if our historically low interest rate market is coming to an end, what’s next for real estate markets?


Actually, the real estate market has done relatively well in environments of rising interest rates, like those we experienced from 2004-2006, as well as 2018. Both of those eras experienced hot real estate markets.


The interest rate you pay for a mortgage has less to do with the Federal Funds Rate, and more to do with the demand for mortgage bonds — big bundles of mortgages that banks package together and then sell as an investment. If the demand for these bonds is high, it puts downward pressure on mortgage interest rates.


Right now, mortgage bonds are being bought up en masse by the Fed, of all things. Since the pandemic, the Fed has bought over $40 billion worth of mortgage bonds per month in an effort to keep the housing market hot.


Ultimately, the real estate market responds to the laws of supply and demand. Inflation and foreign conflicts have made the demand for US real estate high, while the demand for mortgage bonds is likely to slow any coming increases in mortgage rates.




If you want to take advantage of historically low interest rates while they last, Martel Turnkey can help you act fast by putting the right investment property in front of you — rehabbed, rented, and ready to buy.  Lock in for now for 30 years and you will be glad you made this decision.

Is the 30-Year Mortgage Worth It? (The Answer May Surprise You)

30 Year Mortgage

In the era of bitcoin, everyone wants to be a disruptor — an iconoclast that tears down the old and ushers in the new. That’s how people become billionaires — right?


In that kind of entrepreneurial environment, the 30-year mortgage seems like a dinosaur. “Thirty-year fixed rate?! That’s what my grandfather told me to get! And he still refuses to get into an Uber.”


Well, sometimes you need to listen to your grandfather. Maybe this will blow your mind, but it shouldn’t. The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage is the best deal in the financial world. If you want to turn a good credit score into generational wealth, it’s your best friend.


Why? For three reasons …  

1. The Interest is Absurdly Low

Interest is the cost we pay for credit. If you have ever gone mortgage-shopping, you’re probably used to seeing interest rates in the 4-4.5% range. On a good day, you might see rates below 4%.


Compare that to as much 10-20% for personal loans, 5-14%+ for student loans, up to 13% for small business loans from a bank, up to 60% for invoice loans, and as much as 200% for merchant cash advances, according to Value Penguin. And don’t even get us started on credit cards, where interest rates of 20% or higher are the norm.


Yes, we’re in a low-interest-rate environment, and that may come to an end one day … but even if mortgage rates go up, other loan rates will too. The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage will still be among the best deals in town.

2. Your Payment is Locked for a Ridiculous Period

In addition to this low interest rate, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage locks this rate in for a ridiculously long period of time. 


How many businesses get to lock in their cost of credit for 30 years and never have it change? With the 30-year mortgage, your debt service repayment never changes, making it easy to budget compared to other forms of business credit.


Almost no business can take advantage of 30-year fixed-rate financing … but the owner of the lowliest rental house can. 

3. It Provides Insane Leverage

Return-on-investment allows businesses to grow … but leveraged ROI makes them grow quickly


In this article, we demonstrate how adding a simple mortgage to a simple rental house increases the ROI from 6.5% to 17.5%, rocketing past the S&P 500 in terms of annualized return. And that’s before you take into account the many tax advantages of real estate ownership.


Other assets and businesses can be leveraged, but not with the ease that anyone with credit and income can achieve by walking into their local credit union. 




The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage is the secret weapon behind the millions of Americans who have become millionaires simply by owning rental property. With terms this good, it’s actually fairly easy to do.


Martel Turnkey makes it even easier by providing you with the properties themselves —rehabbed, rented, and ready to go. We can even provide you with detailed profit-and-loss statements so you know exactly how big a mortgage you should get to avoid going into the red. 


Want to put this Holy Grail of a business credit solution into practice, fast? Contact Martel Turnkey today!


Can I Buy Real Estate with my IRA or 401(k)?

REI with retirement accounts

Can I Buy Real Estate with my IRA or 401(k)?” If you ask a traditional financial planner, they will probably say “no.” Not unless you buy a share of a REIT … which they can sell you for a fee or commission. What a coincidence.


Surprise surprise — this is not the whole story. The truth is, the sections of the tax code that create these tax-deferral vehicles for retirement savings make no prohibition of what kind of assets you can use to make tax-protected investments. 


These financial advisors are only telling you that you can’t hold rental real estate in your IRA or 401(k) because that’s not a thing they can sell you. 


So what does it take to invest in real estate with your IRA or 401(k)?

What Kind of IRA or 401(k) Do I Need to Hold Real Estate in my Retirement Accounts?

Self-Directed IRA

This is actually the easy part. If you have an IRA with a custodian who tells you that you can’t use it to buy real estate, all you need is a self-directed IRA from a custodian who creates and maintains these accounts for a small fee. A simple Google search will yield tons of these guys.


You can get a self-directed version of any IRA in your arsenal — traditional IRA, Roth IRA, SEP IRA, SIMPLE IRA, IRA BDA, whichever. 


Just remember, you need to find a like-kind IRA to do this. If you have assets in a SEP IRA, you can’t move them to a Roth IRA without penalty. It has to be SEP-to-SEP, Roth-to-Roth, etc.


Once you have a like-kind self-directed IRA account set up, you can transfer cash from your old IRA to your new self-directed IRA and use that cash to start buying real estate!

Solo 401(k)

If your employer set up your 401(k) you almost certainly can’t use that account to start buying real estate. It was probably set up by a money manager who will tell you “no.”


But if you leave that employer and get to take that 401(k) with you, you can get a “solo 401(k)” from the same custodians that offer self-directed IRAs. You can then transfer assets from your old 401(k) into the solo 401(k) and start buying real estate with those funds.

Are There Special Rules I Need to Know to Hold Real Estate in my IRA or 401(K) Account?

First of all … you can’t buy your own home. If you try to do that, the IRS will view this as a withdrawal from the retirement account for your own benefit, and you will face taxes and penalties. Sorry.


Secondly, you can’t “actively” manage your real estate investments. Well, you can, but this will open you up to UBIT — unrelated business income tax. The whole point of these accounts is to avoid taxes, so subjecting yourself to UBIT defeats the purpose.


Here’s how it breaks down:


Fix-and-flip, rentals you actively manage yourself = UBIT. Bummer.


Passive investment in syndications, rental real estate in the hands of property managers = No UBIT. Super!

What Are the Downsides of Buying Real Estate in an IRA or 401(k)

All income must stay in the IRA or 401(k), and all property expenses must come out of funds from the IRA or 401(k). You can’t commingle funds outside of the account to make repairs or pay the property taxes. It all has to stay within the IRA or 401(k). Anything that goes in must follow the rules of contributions, and anything that goes out may be subject to taxes and penalties.


One big drawback of buying real estate with an IRA or 401(k) is that you usually can’t get a traditional mortgage, which means you lose the power of leverage. You may be able to find an unconventional or private lender, but this may trigger UBIT, so be careful.


Finally, since money in an IRA or 401(k) is not taxed, you don’t get the tax advantages of real estate investing. 




If you want to buy real estate without a mortgage loan with your IRA or 401(k), the turnkey rental properties we source for clients at MartelTurnkey make an excellent choice. Our houses  are rehabbed, rented, and under the care of a property management company when you close. Contact us to see what we have that might fit your needs!

A Tale of Two Investors (Apple vs Real Estate) Part 3 of 3

Welcome back to our third installment of A Tale of Two Investors. Make sure that you read Part 1 and Part 2 if you haven’t already.


In Part 2, our investors survived 2 major financial crisis’ and here is a comparison of their equity position.


In 2012, the housing prices nationwide stopped going down and investors began to slowly warm up to investing again. Interest rates were low, the banks and the auto industry were saved. At the end of 2012, Mr Moore had accumulated a significant amount of cash as shown by the table below so he decides to refinance his portfolio and use his cash to acquire 80 more rental units.


Mr McIntosh also has some amazing news. The Apple stock soars to $700. Here is a comparison of our 2 investors.


Our two investors appear to have very similar returns but let’s not forget that Mr. Moore is receiving positive cashflow as shown below.


In 2012, Apple started paying dividends again and Mr McIntosh reinvested his dividends at the end of each year by purchasing additional shares. When Apple announced a 7 for 1 stock split in 2014, Mr McIntosh had accumulated 1802 shares. The price price per share after the split is $93.70. Mr McIntosh is extremely pleased with the result of his investments so far.



During 2013, Mr Moore acquires 30 more rental units and at the end of 2014 he is able to acquire an additional 47 rental units.


As Apple continues to pay dividends every quarter, at the end of each year Mr McIntosh uses the proceeds to acquire more shares and in 2018 Mr McIntosh managed to accumulate 13,411 shares of Apple. Currently, each quarter Apple pays $0.63/shares so Mr McIntosh receives annual cashflow of $34,000. We put a question mark beside that cash flow number because this cashflow is uncertain since Apple decides how much it will pay in dividends. In fact, Apple can decide to stop paying dividends altogether like it did in 1995.


To summarize Mr McIntosh’s equity position increased from $4,400 to $2,264,000 over 37 years which represents an annualized returns near 18%. This is a much more significant return than the S&P which is 11.3% with dividend reinvestment (See calculator here).



On the other hand Mr Moore has achieved financial freedom and beyond. He continued to reinvest his cashflow every year and at the end of 2018 Mr Moore is the CEO of a Real Estate empire holding $27M in assets. Mr Moore not only generated $10M in equity with a 22% annualized returns he also has created a company that generates almost half a million a year in net cash flow.

Next 10 years

Above is the hypothetical equity position of our two investors today. Now really put yourself in their shoes. If you are Mr. McIntosh, do you continue to hold? What will happen to Apple in the next 10 years? Will they continue their dividend program? Will the revenue continue to rise at the same rate? Where do you get your information? How do you affect the direction of the company? I think we all agree that the future is uncertain for Mr. McIntosh and most of us would sell at least some of the portfolio. Remember that this is not the strategy he used to get these unusual results.


Now put yourself in Mr. Moore’s sandals. What do you do next? I think many of us would be thinking of how to allocate the cash flow. More acquisitions, more loan payout, more vacations.


It should be clear by now that even an investor who choses a stock that they knew would be a winner is no match for a disciplined real estate investor. No investors know in advance that a stock will be worth 534 times more 37 years later. As we’ve demonstrated not many investors would stick to the same investment for 37 years considering that the company changed CEO, started to lose money and market share, on top of the regular ups and downs of the market and the economy. We’ve seen that a real estate investor:
– has choices over the direction of his investments because he is the CEO of his enterprise
– can leverage his cash to accelerate the equity growth and net cash flow with consistent reinvestment strategy
– can easily survive the worst financial crisis and could even take advantage of such crisis to acquire strategically
– can obtain financial freedom with positive cashflow
– can build an enterprise with significant asset that can be passed on to his descendents


If you want to get started on your real estate portfolio just like Mr. Moore then check out our current inventory and schedule an advisor call with us.


Housing Price Index
History of Apple
Mortgage rate history
Inflation Calculator
Consumer Price Index

A Tale of Two Investors (Apple vs Real Estate) Part 2 of 3

Welcome to part 2 of A Tale of Two Investors (Apple vs Real Estate).  If you didn’t read part 1 please click here.


Part 1 ends in December 2000, Mr. McIntosh benefited from a stock split back in June, while Mr. Moore reinvested his passive income and acquired additional properties. The table shows the equity difference between our two investors.



At the end of 2000

Only a few months after their meeting, Mr. McIntosh’s financial picture has changed significantly. The stock market crash of 2000 saw Apple stock price go down to $14.80 by the end of December. Mr. McIntosh’s equity goes from $48,611 to $12,935 which is significantly lower than what it was in 1987. This is a significant blow to Mr McIntosh finances. He doesn’t have too many choices, he could sell and realize a loss, invest more but he doesn’t have the money. For the purpose of our story, he continues to hold on. Many investors moved out of the stock market and headed for bonds or Real Estate.


Mr Moore on the other hand is unaffected by the crash and decides to take advantage of the low mortgage rate to refinance his rental units and use the cash to acquire additional rental units. Mr Moore can get a loan for about $435kk (80% of $544,620). The net proceeds of the loan would be about $117k (435k – existing loan 318k). So Mr Moore now has $138k ($117k plus cash on hand $21k) to acquire additional rental units. The current price of the units are about $39,000. Mr Moore needs to put a down payment of $7,780 for each rental unit. Since Mr Moore has $138k cash he can purchase 17 rental units! At the end of the transaction Mr Moore’s balance sheet looks something like this.




With this kind of cash flow and considering that he needs $8,300 as down payment, Mr Moore continues to acquire rental units very rapidly. In fact he is accelerating the pace of his acquisitions.

2001 to 2005

Things are going well for Apple during that time. Apple introduces the iPod in 2001, opens retail stores and iTunes in 2003. On February 28th, 2005, Apple announces a 2 for 1 stock split. The stock closes at 44.86 after the split. Mr McIntosh ’s equity position now looks like this.


Mr Moore uses his net cash flow to acquire additional rental units. At the end of 2001 his $27k of cash flow allows him to acquire 5 more rental units with a down payment of $41,881. The net cash flow increases every year and by the end of 2005 Mr Moore has 54 rental units in his portfolio with $84k of cash on hand and a net cash flow of almost $60k per year. Below is a table comparing each investor’s equity and their respective annualized returns.



At the end of 2005 Mr Moore decides to refinance and reinvest the cash by acquiring additional rental units. Each rental unit needs about $11,000 in down payment so Mr Moore acquire 14 rental units. The table below outlines his position before refinance, after refinance, and after refinance and acquisition.


After this acquisition, Mr Moore’s net cash flow is raised to $25k (as shown below).



At the end of 2005, Mr Moore continues to reinvest in his business. He uses the $10k in cash left after the acquisition in addition to the $25k of cashflow to acquire 5 more rental units.


Financial Crisis 2008

We started seeing the effect of the Financial crisis in 2007 where the real estate values went down by 5.6%. In 2008 the housing value went down by 8.5%. These reductions were the sparks that ignited the financial crisis. The reduction in asset value along with subprime mortgages, Mark-to-Market rule, derivatives valuation, and other factors brought the biggest financial crisis ever seen.


Mr Moore didn’t escape the crisis. The table below illustrates how the Mr Moore’s asset was impacted with the first column showing the balance sheet at the end of 2006 representing the highest asset valuation while the next 2 columns shows how the drop in real estate affected his equity. You will notice that the reduction in equity is dampened by the positive net cashflow and the principal payment on existing mortgage.


Like all investors, Mr Moore is concerned by the events unfolding and he does not acquire additional properties until 2012 when the real estate market started recovering. This very conservative assumption means that Mr Moore will not be able to acquire assets at a lower price. Mr Moore could also use the cash to pay down his loans but he just sits on his cash at 0% interest. Some homeowners seeing their property value underwater decided to stop paying their mortgage, and the banks began widespread foreclosure. This is the impact to Mr. Moore’s equity between 2006 and at the bottom of the market in 2012.




As you can see from the table above, the asset value was reduced by almost 20%. The negative of housing value was dampened by positive net cash flow, and normal reduction in principal from mortgage payment. The tenants renting Mr Moore’s apartments still needed a place to live so the rental income was not affected by the crisis, Mr Moore continued to pay his mortgages even if some of his properties were under water so the bank didn’t foreclose on him. As you can see below Mr Moore is still generating strong positive cashflow.



Mr McIntosh is jubilating at how well Apple stock is doing. Only a few years ago his position was worth $78k and his equity nearly doubled every year in 2006 and 2007. By the end of 2008 however Mr McIntosh saw the value of his portfolio cut in half only to see astronomical growth until 2012. We’ll get to that in the next section.


Conclusion for Part 2

In this article we reviewed the impact of 2 major financial crisis on the equity position of our 2 investors.


Once again it is pretty clear that Mr. McIntosh is at the mercy of the stock market, the economy, the news, the banks, the government, the federal reserves.  Mr. Moore is still impacted by the same entities but has more flexibility to protect his assets or take advantage of an opportunity.

Please continue reading Part 3

A Tale of Two Investors (Apple vs Real Estate) Part 1 of 3

We were discussing the other day how rich one would be if they had invested in Apple stock as soon as it became publicly available on December 12, 1980.  Many articles have been written on the subject highlighting the astronomical returns an investor would have made on this iconic company.  Some articles compare Apple returns against the “investment” one would make in their home over the same period.  As we know being a homeowner is very different than being a real estate investor.  I want to go beyond the numbers in this article. Looking back at 1980, it is an easy decision to invest in Apple.  Which of today’s stock is the Apple of the future? Welcome to a tale of two investors…


I thought it would be fun to contrast how a real estate investor would have faired against a hard core Apple investor who would keep the stock for 37 years no matter what.  Remember Apple had its share of problems: product failure, market share decline, change in CEO, poor acquisitions, financial issues, lawsuits, Microsoft bailing them out, stock market crash, financial crisis, etc.  By the end of this article you will able to determine the best investment for the next 37 years.  To better illustrate the two investment strategies, let me introduce our two investors.  Mr. McIntosh who will be investing in Apple Stock and Mr. Moore who will be investing in real estate.


Our story begins in December 1980, when Mr McIntosh tells Mr Moore of a hot tip he received from his stock broker (remember those) about this new company, Apple. They have been making and selling personal computers for about 3 years and they were about to launch their initial public offering (IPO which means that they issue stocks to the public for the first time). It was not clear at that time if PC had any use beside playing games.  (Check the PC landscape of the 80’s here ).  Both investors believe that computers will be the wave of the future even though neither of them have any idea why people would use a personal computer at home.


In order to be fair I setup some guiding principles for our investors:


  • Their ultimate goal is to maximize net equity.
  • They can reinvest the revenues derived from their investment.
  • They are not speculators so do not profit directly from the ups and downs of the market or interest rate.
  • They cannot use what we know today to take advantage of the market, or the economy.
  • We also included the depreciation tax advantage in our calculations.



On December 12, 1980, Apple stock hits the market and Mr. McIntosh decides to purchase 200 shares at $22/share ($4,400 total or about $14,000 in today’s dollar) and tries to convince Mr. Moore to do the same.  I chose $4,400 as initial investment so that Mr. McIntosh would start with 200 shares even.  Mr. Moore is a more traditional investor and purchases a single family rental for $17,000 and uses his $4,400 as a down payment (25.8% down).  Mr. Moore optimized his house purchase so it would provide a small positive cashflow annually. Mr. Moore manages to secure a mortgage at 13.74% (Source: FreddieMac).  The house is rented for $250/month. After all expenses, property management costs, and the mortgage are paid Mr. Moore basically breaks even with a small Net Cash Flow of $10.  This represents a 10% capitalization rate (CapRate) which is the average of the properties that we sell on our site.

At the end of the day, our two investors meet for dinner and discuss their respective investments.  As shown in the table above, both investors have $4,400 in equity.  Mr. Moore was able to use leverage to secure a bigger asset position.  A few days later, Apple’s share price dropped to $19.40.  On paper, Mr. McIntosh lost $500 in equity but he continues to hold the stock because he is a value investor and is not concerned by these short term fluctuations in stock price.



Mr. McIntosh was seriously concerned to read in the financial newspapers that Apple CEO, Steve Jobs, was kicked out of Apple.  Steve Jobs retaliated by starting a new company, NeXT that will compete directly with Apple.  What will happen to Apple without its co-founder?  How will it affect the stock price?  How big a threat is NeXT?  Mr McIntosh has a lot of questions but no one can really answer.  He continues to hold on to the stock.



Our two investors stay in touch over the years, and on June 6th, 1987 Mr. McIntosh invites Mr. Moore for dinner to celebrate the $0.12/share dividend he had received a few weeks earlier and the recent Apple stock split.  After the split, Mr. McIntosh has 400 shares valued at $41.50/share and decides to reinvest his $48 dividend by buying one additional share of Apple.  Mr. McIntosh’s equity is now valued at $16,641.50 representing almost 21% annualized return which is significantly higher than S&P or Dow Jones estimated returns.  Below is a comparison of our investors’ positions at the end of 1987.  Please note that Mr Moore’s asset number includes the value of his property ($24,078) and $3,058 of cash accumulation (without interest) of net cash flow and the tax impact of depreciation.

However, Mr. Moore has built more than just equity, he also created a passive stream of income (Net Cash Flow) from his rental property.

Mr Moore explains that his house value appreciated at the same rate per year as the US national House pricing index.  His property manager always kept the rent current and increased them annually based on inflation.  The next day, Mr. Moore decides to take advantage of the much lower mortgage rate 10.34% to refinance his property for 80% of its value or $19,262 and pays back the balance of his previous mortgage of $11,973 leaving Mr. Moore with net proceeds of $7,289.   Coupled with his $3,058 in cash, Mr. Moore has $10,347 cash and he decided to purchase 2 more identical rental houses for the current market price of $24,078 each.  He finances the two houses and put 20% down or $9,631.  After these transactions are completed, Mr. Moore is left with $716 in cash and the details of these transaction to his balance sheet are printed below.

From 1988 to 2000

During that period, Apple stock went up and down as stocks do and Apple continued paying dividends until November 1995.  Mr McIntosh stays abreast of what Apple is doing by reading newspapers and news on the internet.  Apple announces multiple acquisitions including the acquisition of Steve Jobs’ company NeXT in December 1996. Apple retains Mr. Jobs as an advisor and in 1997 Steve Jobs steps in as interim CEO.  The company is near bankruptcy and is bailed out by Microsoft in an astonishing deal.  In the face of all this uncertainty, poor company performance, product failures, change in leadership, Microsoft bail out, etc Mr. McIntosh not only continues to hold Apple stock but reinvest the dividends by purchasing 36 more shares of Apple.  In June 2000, Apple splits again and the price after the split is $55.62.  Here is the Mr. McIntosh’s position after the split.

Mr. Moore on the other hand continues to receive positive cashflow and uses the cash flow as down payment to acquire additional properties.  To illustrate, in 1990, Mr. Moore owned 3 properties for a total rent of $12,940 a year which provides a net cashflow of $1,360 once all expenses and mortgage are paid.  The 3 properties also give Mr Moore a tax credit for depreciation of $710.


At the end of 1990, Mr Moore has $5,800 in cash when you include the $3,700 in cash he already had at the beginning of the year.  Mr Moore has enough cash to acquire another rental property at $27,911 ($5,582 as down payment).


At the end of 1991, Mr Moore receives $1,924 in net cash flow.  At the end of 1992, Mr Moore receives another $2,248 in net cash flow and when combined with $1,924 in previous year’s cash flow and cash left at the end of 1990, Mr Moore now has $6,415 which affords him the down payment for another rental unit.


Mr Moore continues to acquire as many rental units as he can afford each year and at the end of 2000 Mr Moore managed to acquire a total of 14 units in his portfolio.

When comparing the $247k in equity created by Mr Moore’s with the $48k created by Apple for Mr McIntosh’s, there is no denying that Mr Moore is in a better position. This comparison does not even consider the present value of future cash flow for Mr. Moore.

Mr. McIntosh continues to follow the hot tip that was give by his stock broker 20 years ago.


Conclusion Part 1

I hope that at this point you already feel that Mr. McIntosh had to endure a lot of drama.  It was not easy for him to stay with the Apple stock.  I believe that Mr. Moore’s life was a little bit more stable. We are ending Part 1 a few months away from the stock market crash of 2000 so this is when we will start in Part 2.