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The Failing of Stock Market Investments: Human Nature

September 5, 2015 by  
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In last week’s blog I talked about the wild stock market moves and the huge sell off, which was followed quickly by a rebound of prices. Since then we’ve had another pull back of prices once again erasing some of the gains. Some people would point to the big spring back of prices and make the argument against my conclusion that for most people investing in ‘real estate’ is a much better place for their money.

It is true that, in most cases, the market does rebound and in the long run you can make some money there as long as you buy good growing companies. The key here, as Warren Buffett has preached for years, is to buy the right stocks and hold them for the very long term. The big problem, however, is most people don’t do that. Why? It seems to be connected to our human nature. You see, when many, if not most, people buy a stock and they see it gain, say 50%, they sell it because, as I heard hundreds of times when I was a stock broker, “Hey, you can’t go broke taking a profit!” But the thing is, that stock may end up being the next Microsoft or Apple Computer company, subsequently moving up another 50% or 100% or 1000% or more over time.

On the other side, there’s the typical part time stock investor who buys a stock at $20 only to watch it drop to $10 a share, says to themselves, “I am not going to take a loss on this so I won’t sell it now.” So they hold on and wait. Over time I think you can guess what will happen. Yep, those kind of investors end up with a portfolio full of crummy, terrible, loser stocks. They kept the ones that went down and sold the ones that went up.

A big part of the problem with stocks is anyone can quickly and easily buy or sell with very little effort and that can lead to impulsive decisions. Greed and fear can cause that quick buying and selling of stock reaction–usually not a good idea. However with income producing real estate, impulse buying or selling doesn’t usually happen since it all takes more time and, of course, more effort.

But because of that ‘time and effort’ factor, most people that buy income producing properties buy and hold for the long term and if they’ve done it even half right they are collecting enough income in rents to more than cover their expenses which gives them the great benefit of being able to wait–sometimes for a very long time–until they can sell the property for a sizable gain! That’s why I love real estate.  It is also what primarily got me to leave the stock business and move into the real estate investing business. I do hope if you are not already investing in real estate, you’ll start very soon.

A Case for Diversification

August 28, 2015 by  
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Wow! What a wild stock market we’ve had the last few days. Over a trillion dollars in lost value. Can you imagine having virtually all your asset held in stocks? I was asked the other night at a party, by a person that apparently was hurt pretty badly by this, how much money this huge sell off of stocks cost me. I answered that it had virtually no impact on my assets and or net worth. How is this possible? Well, it’s simple … I own just one small position in one publicly traded stock. Maybe in the long run the market drop will have an effect on real estate property values–that’s where I have almost all my net worth– but I very much doubt it.

Yes, I used to be a stock broker many, many years ago and would buy and sell stock for myself frequently, but I learned the hard way that even very smart people can lose money very quickly in the stock market. Even if you buy great stocks and those companies are making money and doing well, if the overall market takes a big hit like it has done the last few days, your good strong company stock usually goes down with the market. One of the big reasons I moved almost all my assets into improved, rent generating real estate is because I had a least some control over the asset that I owned. You see, with stocks, you not only don’t control the company or the people that are running the company, but you have no control over what the overall stock market is doing.

You may be thinking, “Okay, I agree with all that but putting my money in improved real estate takes a lot of work and effort.” And you would be correct. It does take work but the rewards can be so great and much of the work can be turned over to others. I’ve certainly found that to be true and the huge surprise and benefit to me was that I found people that do a better job finding, fixing and managing the properties than I do, or I should say “did”. I’m a big time delegator now.

At a minimum, I would encourage you and anyone that will listen to not put all your eggs in that one ‘stock basket’. Diversity is the smart thing to do and, yes, even though I own very little stock, I do make sure I diversify my asset by owning different kinds of real estate. I own everything from triple net lease buildings with national company tenants to development of storage units to small retail strip malls and even a bit of raw land. A bit of cash always being set aside is a good idea too.

I encourage you to take time to plan out your asset strategy. Don’t be like the majority of Americans who seem to spend a lot more time planning their vacation that they do planning the financial life!