Here’s 3 Reasons Why Real Estate is Superior to Stocks

Posted on 13. Aug, 2010 by in General

Real estate and stocks are two popular investment vehicles. It is always important to have a balanced portfolio, therefore it is worthwhile to invest in both. However, if you are trying to decide between the two, you might find that real estate provides the better returns more consistently.

We believe that real estate serves as a better investment than the stock market for a number of reasons. Most importantly, real estate generally is not as volatile as the stock market. Stocks can plummet for any reason at any time, leaving investors at the mercy of things beyond their control. Global events, such as terrorist attacks, natural disasters, corporate bankruptcy, and high-profile white-collar crimes, can all negatively affect the value of stocks. The reality is that many things can determine the daily value of stocks, far beyond the fundamentals of a company’s financials.

Here are the top 3 reasons we believe real estate is a better investment than stocks:

1.) Real Estate is a Tangible Asset. It is a physical investment that you can see and touch. Shares in a company are nothing more than a piece of paper giving you an interest in the underlying company. Although a company’s shares can be valuable, because real estate is tangible it generally provides more value because people can use it in everyday life, and more importantly it is essential!

People must have homes to live in and businesses must have places to operate from. You can live in a house or an apartment, but you cannot live in a share of stock from Google. You can operate a business in a retail shopping center or an office building, but you cannot open and operate your business just because you own stock in Wal-Mart (unless of course you bought the stock way back when and your capital has increased 20X!).

2.) Real Estate allows for Leverage. Now leverage can be a double-edged sword, and over-leveraging a property can cause your asset to become a “money pit” faster than you can say “Bubble”. The over-leveraging of properties coupled with greed is the primary reason why we are experiencing the effects of the recent real estate market crash.

However, responsible leveraging can allow an investor to put up 20-30% of the purchase price of a property and borrow the remaining 70-80% of the purchase price. This leverage will generally allow the investor to realize gains much higher than that of the stock market. For example if you have $100,000 dollars to invest in real estate, you can generally leverage that into a $500,000 property. So your $100,000 will serve as a 20% down payment on a $500,000 property and you will get a mortgage for the remaining $400,000.

If the property appreciates at 5% ($25,000) over the course of a year, that is an unrealized gain of 25% on your invested capital of $100,000. In addition, if the property was generating a positive income, which is always advisable, then your returns would be greater.

Now just to be straight forward, this is the broad view of the investment. It doesn’t take into account closing costs, loan costs, illiquidity of the investment, etc. So there are more costs that would be associated with this investment that would take away from that 25% return and you would still have to sell or refinance the property to realize that 25% return, however, over the course of a few years with responsible leverage, real estate returns far outpace stock market returns. Feel free to contact us if you would like us to justify that claim in more detail.

Stocks can generally only be leverage at a 50% – 100% ratio if you are trading on margin. So if you have $100,000 to invest, you can generally purchase $150,000 – $200,000 worth of stock. Assuming you purchased $200,000 worth of stock and it appreciated 5% ($10,000) over the course of a year, that is an unrealized gain of only 10% on your invested capital of $100,000. And similar with the real estate investment you still have additional fees that will take away from this gain, primarily brokerage fees and interest on the borrowed capital in your margin account.

3.) Real Estate allows for more Control. When you invest in real estate, you generally have control in how that investment is to perform. You can implement strategies to operate the investment more efficiently in order to maximize returns. Unfortunately, with stocks you really don’t have any control in how the company operates in order to maximize your returns on your investment. At best you can submit suggestions to the board of directors, and maybe they will implement some of your suggestions….MAYBE!

Real Estate also provides other advantages for the risk averse, and in terms of how gains are realized and in terms of the overall volatility and manipulation of the markets, which we just don’t have enough time to delve into with great detail in this post, but we can always carry on the conversation.  Please feel free to contact us for any further information.

To Your Investing Success

Jane & Richard Killeen-Payne

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