Some thoughts on Renting and Owning

Yes, owning some very tangible assets that are no doubt needed in the future is great (who doesn’t need shelter?). However, in today’s market renting and investing the difference will usually net you greater returns. Dividends on your holdings are also taxed much more favorably than rental income. If you want to own “pieces” of real estate assets without worrying about a property manager or sketchy tenants than REIT’s are a great option. REIT’s also usually offer higher yields than current rental yields (8-10% vs 4-6% after expenses).

Being a landlord is hard work, and until it offers better yields than owning REIT’s, it’s very hard to find a reason to own and rent a property out instead. Buying and selling real estate also costs a lot as I’m sure you all know. A ~10$ commission getting in and out of your REIT investment is miles better than the ~6 percent of the house value you lose on realtor commissions.

The whole REIT vs actual real estate problem comes in when you look at your ability to leverage your money. It’s much easier and incurs lower interest to take out a mortgage on a first house than going and trading REIT’s on margin. My takeaway is to re-evaluate the market every time you plan to take on an investment. Once you own a house and build some equity, you now have better options to put other people’s money at work through HELOC.

Although a little unrelated to REIT’s and Real Estate, I wanted to share my favorite book on investing, which has taught me just about all I know about value investing. The Intelligent Investor from Benjamin Graham. You can pick it up here: The Intelligent Investor: The Definitive Book on Value Investing

Quick look at REIT’s.

442805746_6d0b948a04_oFor older people searching for good safe yields, it is hard to beat certain REIT’s. Many even pay dividends monthly for income investors, great for using DRIP.

Real estate investment trusts (REIT’s) own and usually operate income producing real estate. This isn’t just commercial and residential real estate. There are REIT’s that specialize in healthcare and data centers. Ratios you want to consider especially with REIT’s are Debt/Equity ratio and Payout ratio (% of earnings paid out as dividends). Payout ratios of over 100% mean the company is paying out more in dividends than it’s earnings. The main point to get out of this post is to know that, for the coming years, it would be smart to avoid just about all the mall and retail REIT’s, as Amazon is increasingly winning the fight for shoppers income. Healthcare, Office and Data Centers are definitely here to stay, compared to the mall/retail REIT’s.

Disclaimer: I own shares in NWH.UN. You are taking a risk buying stocks no matter how informed you feel that you are. I am not responsible for your decisions.