Saturday, July 31, 2021

Stick With Properties—For Now

Photo by Laura Tancredi from Pexels
It is an interesting time in real estate—we stand on the precipice of the ending of a national foreclosure moratorium, interest rates are extremely low, the housing market is red-hot, and the commercial market is still unpredictable. What should a real estate investor do now? While there are a number of options that can lead to success, there is one caution—stay away from whole loans.

Cautioning against whole loans almost goes against the very nature of this blog, which promotes all profitable methods of real estate investment. Whole loan trading and valuation is the very reason why I started this blog and whole loan investing can be a great way to find hidden value real estate. That said, the following are various reasons why whole loan investment is not the best strategy in the current market:

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Press ‘Home’ — Selling Properties With Smart Tech

 Image by Unsplash

Please enjoy this article from guest author Suzie Wilson  of  Happierhome.net

There are many advantages to home automation: ease of use, better accessibility, and let’s face it — there’s something cool about a fireplace that starts up when you clap. What you may not have foreseen, however, are the benefits that technology provides when selling a property.

The Role of Tech

 In almost all areas of life, it’s clear that the pandemic has increased our reliance on tech. This is no less true in the housing market, where the need to actually step inside a property has been somewhat reduced by the use of 3D walkthroughs, video-chat tours, virtual open houses, and Zoom realtor consultations. This is good news for prospective sellers as, in the wake of COVID, housing sales have bounced back to levels unseen since pre-2008. If you are looking to sell your property, physical limitations need not slow you down.

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Foreclosures and the Moratorium

Photo by Monstera from Pexels
The Biden administration has extended the COVID-19 moratorium on foreclosures to July 31, 2021. Totally avoiding the policy and ideological discussions that could be had about such a decision, one thing is apparent—the additional month extension will increase the backlog of foreclosure and eviction cases that courts around the country will face once this moratorium has ended. Absent any legislative changes, the implementation of creative government programs mitigating distressed loans or both, foreclosure filings, executed foreclosure judgments and foreclosure-related evictions are all set to see an uptick over the next year.

An increase in residential foreclosures and evictions is certainly bad news for affected homeowners and tenants, who will have to find new living arrangements, undergo costly moves in short timeframes, uproot their lifestyles and, in some instances, face long term financial effects. Increasing foreclosures will also serve as a market correction in the real estate market, which is currently driven by inventory scarcity. Amidst the market change and its social implications, many real estate investors can be left wondering which strategy to employ. The answer is simple—any or all of them.

Monday, May 31, 2021

Calculating the Cost of Delay

Photo by Sora Shimazaki from Pexels
Happy Memorial Day to all and a heartfelt thank you to all those who serve and have served our country. Your sacrifices are truly appreciated by TRET.

Let us quickly discuss, on this last day of May, the value of Delay. Late payments, be they intentional or not, are costly, no matter how late they are. Time has a calculable value and delayed payments provide a monetary benefit to the payee and punish the lender or vendor. This value is easily observed in the world of retail, where giants like Wal-Mart, not only connect the speed with which they pay their vendors to the success of the products in their stores, but also fine retailers for late shipments. In retail, late shipments equate to lost sales. In real estate, late payments lead to increased opportunity costs and decreased value of money.

Sunday, April 4, 2021

ARMs: A Quick Look

Adjustable-Rate Mortgages (ARMs) are a viable financing option for both single, multifamily and owner-occupied commercial property owners. Ever since their formal establishment by Title VII of the Garn–St Germain Depository Institutions Act of 1982, ARMs have offered the opportunity to link mortgage payments to marketplace activity. Coupled with the rate collars, ceilings and floors, these financial instruments have the potential to lock in the conditions of a favorable interest rate market, at interest rates that are typically lower than a fixed-rate mortgage. In the world of retail real estate, lower rates can translate into increased purchasing power. For the real estate investor, however, rate fluctuations and potential for sustained above market-rates usually tends to also lead to an early refinance. With the January 3, 2022 deadline for ARMs to decouple from the LIBOR index imposed by Fannie and Freddie, now is an opportune time to take a look at ARMs and their role in the mortgage market.

Sunday, March 21, 2021

How to Navigate Legal Structures in Real Estate

As the real estate market attempts to move past the COVID-19 pandemic and progress toward a “New Normal,” federal moratoriums have become a way of life in real estate. Navigating the legal landscape of a local market has always been part of creating wealth in real estate. Every real estate marketplace is subject to its own local laws, as well as its state law and federal law. At the highest level, real estate investment and development is a game of understanding the rules—the applicable laws, ordinances, building codes, etc., and knowing when you can bend them in your favor through variances, court cases and lobbying. Although much of this may seem a little nefarious, it need not be, as our legal system was designed to establish a certain set of default rules for real estate, with a mechanism to allow for change in the event that either some rules are inapplicable generally or inadequate for a given situation. That stated, below are some ways to capitalize, navigate or at least survive the laws of any real estate market:

Monday, February 8, 2021

Why Most People Don't Get Rich In Real Estate

Initially, I intended this post to be a continuation of my prior post on how to get rich in real estate. I was going to address the barriers to entry that most people confront when attempting to begin a career in real estate and offer some suggestions on how to get around them. I am still going to address some of those barriers, but upon further reflection, I think that there is a common theme amongst most of the reasons why most people do not succeed in real estate when they wish to do so—motivation.

This may seem harsh, but please let me qualify my statement by saying that it is not easy to maintain consistent motivation. Having sufficient motivation to push through real estate losses, market downturns, bankruptcies or even years of unfruitful prospecting takes inner strength. During down times and after particularly difficult lessons in real estate, it can often feel like the experience was a sign to quit or move in a different direction. It takes true motivation, self-confidence and some self-delusion to look at a negative real estate experience, learn from the experience and continue on. This motivation is intrinsic and it only comes from a goal-driven approach to make it in a real estate. Quitting can never be an option. To that end, I want to share the following link to “The Strangest Secret” by Earl Nightingale, in the hopes that it is helpful to someone.

The Strangest Secret: Earl Nightingale

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

How To Get Rich In Real Estate: The Proven Method

Photo by Anete Lusina from Pexels
Welcome the first post of the New Year! A number of years ago I wanted to start a business purchasing residential mortgages in the secondary market. This was a significant time after the Great Recession of 2009 and although the smoked had cleared from that downturn, enthusiasm in the mortgage secondary market had not yet fully recovered. I knew that if I were to market my business idea, which I was positive was sound, I would have to not only formally document it in a presentation and a business plan, but would also have to show actual positive implementation results. I realized that I would have to raise a small amount of capital to implement this strategy on a small scale, so that I could present it to larger investors upon its successful completion.

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

The End of 2020: Now What?

2020 has been a life-changing year for everyone, literally everyone. From the global pandemic, to the fluctuating economy, not to mention the seismic shift in the perception of "going to work," it is safe to say that the world is different place than it was 12 months ago. Now what?

Every year Bloomberg Business Week puts out its "Bloomberg 50"--a list of 50 individuals that have made their mark during the prior year. Although this year's list contains a number of impressive men and women who were able to quickly mobilize and make moving, positive contributions during this tumultuous year, it is notable that not one member of this list was mentioned for contributions to the real estate market. In fact, there are many executives on the list that are touted for reducing the size and/or the footprint of their companies, which in many instances includes real estate divestment. Furthermore, Blackrock, a private equity that is well know for its real estate investments, has made the list, not for real estate, but for its renegotiation of national debts in South America.

Monday, November 30, 2020

Let’s Not Forget the Expenses

When either forecasting, underwriting or simply checking the figures on a deal, it is important to account for expenses. The mere mention of the word expenses immediately brings certain images to the mind of most real estate professionals, such as taxes, labor and materials. Proper accounting for such expenses, however, can make or break a financial model and skew underwriting assumptions. That said, it is important to employ the following practices to ensure that your expense estimates are accurate and reflective of the market.

Friday, October 30, 2020

Adverse Possession: Why It Makes More Sense Than You May Think

Photo by Louis from Pexels
As we wrap up the months of October, many images of the month come to mind—Fall, Halloween, pumpkin season, apple season and Columbus Day. Nearly two weeks ago, we all experienced the ever-evolving view of both Christopher Columbus and the celebration of his holiday. In contemplating my thoughts on Columbus’s role in American history and his appropriation of land, I couldn’t help but make a connection to the real estate concept of adverse possession

Adverse possession is the legal ability to take over the land of another person by openly and notoriously acting like you are the owner over a number of years. The ways that a person in adverse possession can demonstrate open and notorious occupation of land differ from locale to locale. Some examples of open and notorious possession have been constructing a fence, maintaining the lawn, receiving mail and, the most open and notorious of all, paying property taxes.

Sunday, August 16, 2020

Lesson From the Pandemic For Residential Landlords

The effects of Covid-19 on the residential rental market are apparent—many jurisdictions have enacted rent freezes, landlord/tenant courts have been shut down and moratorium on evictions and foreclosures have been set. Moreover, the accompanying downturn in the economy has left many without the ability to pay rent on time, if at all.

Considered rationally, the need for all of the social safety nets put in place for renters is obvious. The only way to truly survive a global disaster is to band together and implement a series of solutions. Radical measures had to be taken to mitigate the global pandemic. “We’re all in this together,” is not just a motto, it’s a reality. As a society, we are tasked with taking care of our most vulnerable populations, because the repercussions of not doing so are far more expensive than the costs of their protection. In this instance in particular, increased homelessness and/or a wave of relocations due to a rise in home displacement would only serve to exacerbate infection rates around the nation. That said, here are some clear lessons that residential landlords can learn in the wake of this global event.

Friday, June 26, 2020

Real Estate in the Time of Pandemic

Photo by CDC

With our country beginning to find its way to a new normal at the end of months of quarantine, we in the real estate market are all left with one nagging question—What should we expect from here? 

Like most people, I do not have definitive answer. If you are over the age of thirteen, however, this pandemic is certainly not the first market disruption that you have experienced and with each such occurrence, we all learn some valuable lessons about the real estate industry. With that said, here are a couple of lessons that we can learn from this particular time of change: 

Friday, June 12, 2020

Social Justice Real Estate


I try my best on this blog to focus on the issues effecting the real estate market and offer a perspective uninfluenced by political factors. To the extent that social factors effect the real estate market, I am happy to address them, but I work diligently to ensure that this blog does not serve the dual purpose of promoting any particular political ideology. With that said, we are all contextual creatures and I, as an African-American male, cannot ignore the current outcry regarding police brutality against my fellow brothers and sisters.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Back in the Saddle Again

Hello Readers/Subscribers of the Real Estate Think Tank,

I once read that it's not how many times that you fall off the horse, but how many times you get back on. With that said, I want to announce that I am back on "the horse" and will once again begin to deliver to you once again real estate content from an industry-insider's perspective. 
I have been blessed to have had the opportunity to try my hand at a few occupations and have had success in a couple of careers, but one thing remains consistent--no matter how far I try to stray, real estate is my calling. That said, I am going to begin to deliver content on a regular basis. In doing so, I will try my best to both be more technical, as well as more topical and will look to strike a balance between the two. 

It's great to be back at the Real Estate Think Tank and like a pair of well-worn jeans, it just feels right!

Yours Truly,

Stephon Martin

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

The Real Estate Sales Game (Part 2)

In Part 1 of this post, three aspects of real estate sales were addressed--lead generation, asset valuation, asset management. These real estate sales characteristics require a specific approach when applied to real estate sales. In this post, the remaining two aspects of real estate sales will be discussed--marketing and customer relations. These aspects of sales are more uniform across all sales profession, both in and out of the real estate industry.

As a reminder, the term real estate salesperson includes all real estate professionals that spend a significant portion of their time selling real estate assets, including property salespeople, real estate capital markets sales professionals and commercial and residential loan officers. 

Monday, August 6, 2018

The Real Estate Sales Game (Part 1)

Interestingly, I have over 10 years of experience as a real estate salesperson and attorney and have yet to write a post on the mechanisms of real estate sales. An understanding of real estate sales can be useful in informing the perspective of a real estate investor. Real estate salespeople have an intimate understanding of market activity, market trends and asset valuation that can prove valuable to all real estate investors.

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Change Is A Coming: How Current Economic Conditions Should Affect Real Estate Investment


Many economist and market pundits are predicting a market downturn, beginning some time in 2019 or 2020. All of the indicators of an overheated boom seem to be present--increasing margin debt, decreasing dividends, stock market price inflation and increased levels of corporate debt. Essentially, low interest rates have made credit more accessible. As a result, businesses are using credit to buy back some of their outstanding stock. In response to the relative decrease in availability of stock, stock market prices are rising, increasing household wealth across the nation. Spurred on in part by technological development, the economy seems to be booming at present, but it is important to note that mechanism that is fueling this increase in wealth is debt.