Why Real Estate Appreciates In Value?
We take for granted the notion that real estate appreciates in value. It’s why so many people yearn to be homeowners — not just to have a place that they “own,” but because it turns your personal residence into a vehicle for wealth creation. Not because you pay yourself rent, but because the property itself grows in value.
But why does this happen? It’s worth understanding the mechanism behind the appreciation of real estate, if for no other reason that it’s not guaranteed. Real estate can and does lose value. As we speak, some property somewhere in the US is becoming less valuable.
Understanding why real estate becomes more valuable (or less valuable) can help us make good investments by only buying property that is likely to appreciate.
To figure out why does anything have value let’s go back to Econ 101 — supply and demand.
What is the Demand?
Let’s start with demand. For something to have value, people have to want it or need it in the first place.
Real estate obviously fits the bill. People need shelter in which to live … soil in which to grow things … buildings in which to do business. Humans need space, and as long as space is a thing that can be owned, people are going to want to buy it.
Follow The U-Haul Trucks
If you want to pick which real estate is going to appreciate, follow the demand. We sometimes say “Follow the U-Haul trucks” of the people moving out of one city and into another. If a city is growing economically — if big employers are bringing new jobs to that city, if people are flocking to move there in droves, if it’s a burgeoning tourist destination — demand for real estate in that city will almost certainly drive the prices up. Even ugly, outdated, or distressed property will increase in value.
What if jobs are leaving a city or a neighborhood? People are moving out? The town is dying? Even the most beautiful homes and commercial buildings will start to lose value, because the demand just isn’t there.
How Much Money Can This Property Make?
Another key factor to the demand for any given piece of real estate is its economic value — how much income can a particular class of property generate? Consider the booming eCommerce industry. It had a profound effect on the value of real estate. Warehouses to store all these products along the supply chain came into heavy demand, so the price of warehouses went up. Meanwhile, with fewer and fewer people shopping in stores, retail property has struggled to appreciate and even lost value.
What is the Supply?
A resource can’t just be in demand to be valuable — it has to be in limited supply too.
Humans have an inelastic demand for breathable oxygen. We need it to survive. So why don’t we have to pay for it, like we have to pay for bottled water or heart surgery? Because (for now), breathable oxygen is in abundant supply. No supervillain has yet figured out how to take us all hostage by monopolizing the supply of breathable oxygen … so despite our insatiable demand for it, breathable air has no market value and remains free.
So what about the “supply” of real estate? It’s an old cliche — you can always print more money or issue more stock, but they aren’t making more land. Real estate is a kind of real asset — a tangible resource that is in limited supply.
Let’s talk about printing money while we’re on the subject. Real assets tend to gain value in times of great inflation of the currency (like the one we find ourselves in now). As currency becomes more plentiful, it becomes less valuable. It takes more of that currency to buy things. One of those things you can buy is real estate. Because of inflation, it takes more money to buy the same piece of real estate — meaning inflation has inherently forced its value higher!
What About All That Undeveloped Land?
But is real estate really in short supply? Over 96% of the United States is undeveloped land! Let that sink in. That’s a lot of real estate. Doesn’t that disrupt the supply/demand balance?
Not necessarily. Remember, some of that land is on the sides of mountains. Or hostile to the cultivation of crops. Or just so far away that it would be prohibitively expensive to run roads, power lines, water lines, and sewer lines to them. Or it’s just too far away — no one wants to live there.
We come full circle back to demand. Yes, there is a lot of land … but how much of it is in demand, for one reason or another?
The Real Estate That Is Most Likely to Appreciate
We can start to look at the supply of real estate in terms of “pockets of demand.” Suppose a city has a thriving urban core full of arts and entertainment. Lots of people want to live there or open a business there … but there are only so many homes and commercial spaces in that space. The demand is high, but the supply is limited … so that real estate is likely to appreciate.
What if a school district is widely recognized as the best in the city? Every family is going to want to live in that school district so their children get the best education. But there’s only so many houses in that neighborhood. Limited supply plus high demand equals appreciation.
You have to be careful about chasing school districts into the suburbs. Thriving suburbs tend to have lots of new houses under development. If builders are constantly adding new houses to the market, they are increasing the supply, which pushes values down. If the demand is strong enough, this may not slow down appreciation, but there’s always a chance that the neighborhood will get overbuilt, with more houses than there are people who want to buy them — especially if a recession hits unexpectedly.
By contrast, urban core areas tend to have a much more limited supply. You can tear down old buildings and replace them with new ones, but the property supply is what it is. Homes in nice urban core neighborhoods in growing cities are some of the safest bets for appreciation.
As you can tell, supply and demand is much more than numbers on a page. It’s a story — the story of a city, a neighborhood, a piece of property. Understand the story, and you can glimpse the future.
MartelTurnkey goes the extra mile to understand the story of every turnkey rental in our inventory. We don’t just buy any property in any city. We specifically look for the markets, the neighborhoods, and the property classes most likely to generate cash flow and appreciate in the near future.
Reach out to us today and let us fill in the gaps so you can invest with confidence — and grow your net worth!