Investment Diversification with Real Estate

Investment Diversification with Real Estate

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By Elaine VonCannon, ABR, SRES, Associate Broker, Notary, Team Leader, Property Manager, Award Winning Agent

This year, investment in the stock market is making many downright jittery. Though overall the stock market does seem to be hovering around the 10,000 mark, many investors are plagued with uncertainty about short and long term investments in the stock market. Will stocks go up or down this week? Is now to time to keep money in the market? Or take money out of the stock market?

As a real estate professional, I always advise people to continue to invest in property. With so many bank owned properties flooding many different markets, real estate investors are actively purchasing homes and investment properties and obtaining some great deals right now.

John Starke, an Investment Advisor and Financial Principle with American Beacon Partners, says that many investors have grown tired of the risk involved in purchasing equities, mutual funds, and other types of investments. Prior to the sharp downturn in the market in 2008, investors' goals were to accrue money through appreciation. "Rather than nervously watch their portfolios go up and down, investors want a more stable income," noted Starke. He sees a rise in interest in Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs), Tax Free and Corporate Bonds, and even some Corporate CDs. "Many investors are pulling their money from equities and mutual funds and opting for investments that pay a decent, regular return on their money," said Starke.

In my everyday real estate transactions, I see investors pulling large sums of money from the stock market and putting it into the purchase of homes and properties in Virginia. I have taken the time to ask real estate investors their opinion about stock market investments. Many have decided that the stock market is not for them right now. One investor, J. D., purchased a property in King William County, Virginia that was in foreclosure for $90,000. She will spend approximately $4,000 to prepare the property for the rental market and be able to collect a monthly income of $1,000 from her investment. J.D. told me "I feel the time is right to start investing in real estate again. I stopped four years ago when property prices got out of hand. I intend to do even more real estate investment now."

Another client, who plans to retire in a few years, is selling one commercial property investment in order to purchase a strip mall in the Western Virginia town where he plans to retire. He will pay the purchase price and invest approximately $40,000 into the strip mall to prepare it for the commercial rental market. He told me, "I am tired of having a business that I have to work at everyday. I want to have an investment that will work for me as I am planning to retire in about two years." His upcoming shift in lifestyle is motivation for his new commercial property investment. Note that he's not selling one business and putting the money into the market. This may have been the trend for a retiree five years ago - but not in the new economy.

Finally, H.G. in Hampton, Virginia made a wise move with money he once had in the stock market. He purchased a condominium for $50,000, invested $2,500 in the property renovations, and is now receiving $850 per month in rental income for the unit. HG said, "I am making more of a return from my property investment than I would in the stock market, and I also receive a tax deduction to boot."

There are of course risks in real estate investments. A tenant could default on the rental agreement, or a property could remain vacant for months on end. That is why it is imperative that real estate investors hire experienced and knowledgeable property managers to maximize their investment. All of the property investors mentioned in this article are using my property management services for their real estate investments. Other risks include unforeseen maintenance and repair issues. This is why it is important for property investors to put a portion of their profits aside to reinvest in the home, condominium or townhouse they purchase.

Where property investment is concerned, even these risks, when anticipated and well-planned for, are small compared to the uncertainty of stock investments.

Shawn Tully, Senior Editor at Large for Fortune magazine, published "2010's Coming Stock Market Crash: 1987 all Over Again" in May 2010. He states that stocks are still overpriced. He predicts a low return on investment (or a loss) as an inevitable outcome of this scenario. Tully bolsters his opinion with these astute observations: "Here's how I see the odds. The chances are about one in three that we suffer a huge, wrenching correction in the next year or two similar to the one in 1987. That possibility is so high because stocks are so startlingly expensive. Another high probability event is that markets go on a long sideways grind, with smaller drops along the way. What's extremely unlikely is that the market rises substantially from current levels and stays there for any extended period."

Experts within the financial industry may be reluctant to put forth the strong opinion that Tully articulates. Still, there is no denying that investors have undergone a major shift in perspective since the financial crisis of late 2008 culminated in a recession, took hold of the United States and spread to other countries.

People will always need a place to live. With more and more families sadly experiencing foreclosure and dislocation, renting will be their most likely option. More rental properties will be necessary to fulfill housing demands. Investors need to take a serious look at property investment in their areas, and take steps to purchase viable homes even if they are in need of some repair or upgrades.

Visit VonCannonRealEstate.com to view potential investment property listings in Virginia in Williamsburg, Hampton, Newport News, Yorktown, Richmond and Northern Neck areas such as Matthews, Northumberland and King and Queen Counties.