Housing market expert Predictions for 2020
Jason Hartman, in my humble opinion, is the greatest housing market expert there is, and one who gladly shares his insights on buying and selling a home during times of crisis.
He explains how the pandemic affects the home prices, gives advice, and shares highly important pointers to take into account when making real estate decisions.
This interview was specially made for all the homeowners out there or people who were thinking of buying a home for their family, but Corona got in the way, not necessarily real estate investors.
What's happening to real estate in 2020?
George Gammon: All right guys.
It gives me a great deal of pleasure to welcome someone back to the Rebel Capitalist Show that I have a tremendous amount of respect for, who is a good buddy of mine and he is the foremost expert on real estate in the United States, in my humble opinion.
Jason Hartman, welcome back to the Rebel Capitalist Show.
Jason Hartman: Thanks for having me, George, and thank you for all the kind words.
That's very nice of you. I'll try to offer whatever value I can.
George Gammon: Yeah. Well, I've been listening to your podcast since 2012.
I mean, you've been doing it since what? 2006.
I mean, you've got over 1000 episodes on real estate and investing, but today I know normally we talk about real estate investing, how to make money in the market, but I know with what's going on with the… We'll call it the Cerveza Sickness.
Jason Hartman: Yes.
George Gammon: Everyone out there, whether they're an investor or not, maybe they're looking to buy a home for their own family.
Maybe they're just an average Joe or Jane that might own a home. Maybe they've got some equity.
They're asking themselves, “Shoot, should I take out this equity now because the market might go down? Should I keep some dry powder?
Do I take a line of credit? Do I take out a fixed-rate mortgage?”
Then for the other people that may be on the sidelines and saying, “Okay, well I've got to buy a house for my family. I just had a kid, I just got married.”
Whatever, “And should I buy now or should I wait to buy?” And again, it's from the standpoint of just building a family and what you're doing for your personal self, not necessarily how to make money.
So I'll kind of hand it off to you and let you run with that.
Jason Hartman: Yeah. So, thankfully nowadays, many people view their own personal family home as an investment.
As they should. It's more than an investment, obviously. It's where you live and you spend your life and hopefully it's a low-density environment so you can stay away from the Cerveza Sickness. Okay.
And properly socially distance. I know it's like, I feel like I shouldn't laugh when I say stuff like that, but I kind of do… We got to have a little level of levity.
What's going on in the world now is absolutely crazy. So the first thing I want to say George is, predictions are usually worth what they cost, but now more than ever, predictions are very likely to be extremely wrong.
And so the first thing I want to say is, where's the market going?
I don't know. That's the most honest answer I can give you. Okay.
It really is. But I do know of some strategies that will definitely help and that I think I can share.
So the first thing, most of your listeners are a pretty darn sophisticated people because your content is very sophisticated.
And, you have a great way of taking sophisticated wonky, complex content and making it understandable to the average person who isn't interested in studying economics. And that's fantastic.
That's a great skill. It's kind of like Reagan was known as the great communicator because he could take complex things and make them sort of simple and understandable, which is awesome.
One of the things I'm guessing, although I don't know for sure, is that most of your viewers probably live in one of the three markets I've talked about, when I've been on your show before.
George Gammon: Right.
Jason Hartman: So what's important first I think is to understand the differences between these three types of real estate markets. Okay.
And the whole world, everywhere on planet earth can be categorized into one of these three types of markets. Linear market, cyclical market, hybrid market. Okay. That's it. Okay.
You can really, really categorize into one of those three. So the linear market, that's where we like to invest. It's where you like to invest. It's where I like to invest.
It's where I tell all of my podcast listeners and followers to invest. These are the boring markets.
You don't hear much about them on the news and they're inexpensive. They have good rent to value ratios, which is kind of like the PE ratio, the price to earnings ratio for stocks.
It would be a comparison to that.
Cyclical markets are the opposite. They're the markets that you hear about on the news.
They're the markets that comprise 75% of the Case-Shiller Index which I think is very misleading by the way, the Case-Shiller Index.
Because the major index, which is most often quoted when people talk about real estate prices, only consist of 20 markets and give or take, 15 of those are cyclical markets, okay?
That I would not recommend investing in. So it's weighted toward those markets. Therefore, it's very misleading.
When in the US there's about 400 markets. Then around the world, of course, thousands and thousands of markets, if you will. And all real estate is very local.
The old saying in real estate is that, all real estate is local. It drives me absolutely crazy when these bobble-heads get on CNBC and they talk about the housing market or the real estate market.
George Gammon: I do that too. I'm guilty of that, as well.
Jason Hartman: Yeah, you have to. I understand. But at least you drill down on things.
And the reason TV it's called the idiots medium is because everything has to be a sound bite. So I'm not totally faulting them.
I know they have to kind of do that. Okay. But we're to drill down so that there's a deeper level of understanding.
Okay? That's what we'll do today.
Investing In Different Types Of Real Estate Markets
George Gammon: So let's look at it from a standpoint of you're a guy or gal that's making, let's say just a household family. It's got $65,000 a year.
I think that's pretty much the average. So you're doing that, you're maybe… Let's look at it from the standpoint of someone who owns their own home.
Let's say they've got 100% equity and you're making 65 grand a year, and let's look at it from the standpoint of that individual living in those three markets and walk us through what your decision-making process would be if you were in that situation.
Jason Hartman: Absolutely. Well, just to back up for one more thing on what I was saying.
George Gammon: Sure.
Jason Hartman: The reason I started off with this is because I'm guessing that most of your viewers live in cyclical markets, right?
Because those are more expensive markets and your viewers are more affluent than the average Joe.
Okay. Now, not all of them but hey, there's a lot of average Joes out there who are really attentive and really smart and paying attention to stuff.
But broadly speaking, a lot of them aren't paying attention to it either, right?
George Gammon: Well, I think the majority of the population of the United States would live in a cyclical market, just in general.
Jason Hartman: Well, that's… 84% of the US lives in urban markets. So urban markets would skew cyclical, but not necessarily.
George Gammon: Okay.
Jason Hartman: But that's a good point. I don't have statistics on that, so I really can't speak to it for sure. So here's one way.
You can decide whether it's best to rent or buy. Okay. Right now as we record this and this will change as prices change and going up or down in this point.
Before we could say, “Well, they're just going to go up.” Now we can't say that with any degree of certainty, with the pandemic.
And so if the house, if the value of that house is below 250, maybe 300 or $250,000, then, it's generally speaking, going to make a lot of sense to own that house rather than rent it.
George Gammon: Okay.
Jason Hartman: If it's above 250 or 300,000 in value, it's almost always going to be a better deal to rent it than to own it. Okay.
Just from a rent value perspective, and we can drill down on that if you'd like. One of the things we've said to people, because most of our clients live in cyclical markets that are more expensive. Okay.
Almost always in those markets, it's better to be a renter. Good market, bad market, market going up, market going down, pandemic or not, it's just a better deal to rent those more expensive properties.
George Gammon: So you're saying, I just want to clarify there. So, would you say a better deal?
You mean just financially?
If you just add up all the numbers, you're going to save money by being a renter?
Jason Hartman: Yeah.
Here's a quick example of that.
If it's a $1,000,000 property for example, or let's take a $500,000 property to make it more widely realistic. Okay.
So if it's a $500,000 property, along the West Coast of the US somewhere or in the Northeastern part of the US or South Florida, those are the expensive markets around the United States and around the world. There's many more.
In those markets, that $500,000 house, most of the time, you could rent that property for about $2,500 a month. In other words, that's a 0.5 rent to value ratio.
Whereas if you bought rental properties, hopefully, you would be buying them in markets where you could get a one percent rent to value ratio.
Meaning that if you bought five $100,000 houses, the same portfolio value, 500,000 you would get a thousand dollars a month for each of those houses.
Meaning you would get $5,000 a month versus $2,500 a month if you bought a rental property in that market.
So reverse it now, if you're living in the property, if you can get… Look at all of us in life, I remember one time I was sitting in church and the pastor made a great point and he said, “Look, none of us own anything. We're all here as trustees from birth to death.”
Okay, we just get to play with stuff, but we're not taking any of it with us. Okay? Right.
And we come in with nothing too, okay? So we come into the world with nothing, we leave with nothing. In the middle, we get to be trustees of an investment portfolio, right?
So the point is to get the benefit of the house, you don't necessarily need to own it to get the benefit of it, right?
You just need to live in it.
And if you can control that property for only $2,500 per month and buy five other properties that you can get 5,000 in income from, you're much better off renting it and controlling it and getting all the same benefits. Right?
That's my point. Cyclical markets almost never makes sense to buy in them.
They do make sense to rent in them. If most of your listeners live in these cyclical markets, then almost always you're going to be better off renting.
George Gammon: Okay. So just so I'm clear. Let's assume for the moment that someone didn't want to take their additional capital and invest it in the linear market, they didn't want to invest it all.
All they wanted to do is just get a home for their family.
Would it still be a better financial decision for them to go ahead and rent that as opposed to purchase it?
Jason Hartman: In the linear market, you're almost always better off owning it and buying the house you live in.
Because, the rent value ratio is always going to be good.
If you get a $250,000 house in Atlanta, Memphis, Little Rock, Indianapolis, any of the markets you'd find on my website that we would sell as investment properties, you're going to be fine.
You should buy that property. At the rates we have today, I mean, it's a great deal. Okay, just buy it. Okay.
Buy it, enjoy it, live in it. When it gets to be above 250 or $300,000, you start to think about it.
You start to ask yourself, “Is it better to buy or rent?” Then if it's above $500,000 for sure you're going to be better off renting it.
George Gammon: Got it. Okay.
Does that include what's going on right now with the Cerveza Sickness or excluding that?
Jason Hartman: Well, what's going on right now makes things even more precarious.
It doesn't make it more precarious in the sense of if that's a good linear market property, an inexpensive property that would have a good rent to value ratio if you were renting it.
Even though you're living in it, think of it like a rental. Okay. Think of it.
What does this asset… What would it produce if it were on the open market?
If you ask yourself that question, how much would my house rent for?
What would the rent to value ratio be? If you don't rent it, then you're the renter. That's the deal, right?
So if you look at it that way, you're going to help yourself make better decisions.
But in any linear market property, a house under $300,000 for your own personal residence, I would buy it, live in it, take advantage of these incredibly low-interest rates.
30 year fixed rate mortgage, put a minimum down payment. 10% down, no more than that and get leverage. Now you asked before when we started to, what if you have equity in your house?
Should you get a credit line? Should you get that equity out in this environment? I think you were asking about that, right?
George Gammon: Yeah.
Equity stripping and foreclosures
Jason Hartman: I very much believe in the idea of equity stripping. One of the many reasons for that is that if the shit really hits the fan, pardon my swearing. Okay.
Which it may, I mean, we don't know.
We are in uncharted territory, all of us and all of the shows you do where you expose that all the acronyms that the Fed is coming up with and the massive amount of helicopter money going into the economy.
I mean, this is incredible. I mean, the era we are in is nothing short of mind-boggling. So given that, you want to be in the position of control.
How do you get control, if the crisis worsens dramatically? Okay. And save values to client a lot.
The traditional thinking would be, don't have much debt, have a lot of equity. That thinking is wrong.
Listen, I've been in business for a long, long time. I've been through many, many cycles in the real estate market.
I started selling real estate in my first year of college. I bought my first rental property when I was 20 started in the business at 19, part-time.
So I've seen many cycles.
George Gammon: 25, right now.
Jason Hartman: Well yeah, exactly. I know I'm 29 actually. Actually quite a bit older than that, but we will leave that to people's imagination.
So, I've been through a lot of cycles, and George, one of the things I tell you I've always seen is that there's this old concept in banking and the idea is: He who has the gold makes the rules.
He who has the gold makes the rules. It's the golden rule of finance.
What that means is that when the bank or the lender has the gold and they want to… And you want to borrow it from them, they're making all the rules.
Because, they're going to make you jump through hoops to borrow that money. But after you've borrowed it, now you have the gold. So you make the rules. Okay.
You make the rules on whether or not you decide to pay it back.
Because, literally the contract someone signs when they get a real estate loan is as simple as this, “I will pay the mortgage or I will give you back the collateral.”
That's the agreement you make. Okay?
So if worse comes to worst and you have to exercise the nuclear option, as I have seen in the last three cycles of down real estate markets, the people that have the least equity have the most bargaining power.
Okay? Because if a lender, think of it, if you're Bank of America or Chase and you're looking at a portfolio of 100,000 real estate loans and a half of that portfolio goes bad, meaning people stop paying the mortgage. Okay?
As happens in every recession, and instantly what you're going to do is have your analyst analyze that portfolio of those 50,000 nonperforming loans and one of the first analyses they will make is they will divide it into a percentile of equity in each of those properties.
They will do a valuation on those properties in that loan portfolio and they'll say, “Okay, we've got a 20,000 of these 50,000 nonperforming loans that have no equity. They're underwater.”
Okay. So we better reach out to those people and say, “Hey, what can we do to help get this loan performing? Can we give you a loan modification?
Can we do a short sale and help you sell the property? We'll reduce the loan balance and wave the amount you're underwater so that you can exit the property and we can get paid off whatever we can.”
Then they'll look and they'll see that maybe 10,000 of those nonperforming loans have 50% equity.
You know? These were the people that did the right thing. They were prudent. They were careful. They were cautious. They paid down their mortgage. They didn't borrow more. I agree.
They did the right thing, but they will not be rewarded for it. In fact, the opposite is true.
They will be punished for doing the right thing. We live in this upside-down ridiculous world where saving money, doing the right thing, delaying gratification as a consumer, we do not get rewarded for that.
We get punished. Okay?
So the people that have more equity have a higher probability of being foreclosed?
Jason Hartman: They become foreclosure targets, literally.
The lender literally targets their properties and say, “Look, there's these 10,000 people in our nonperforming loan pool.
They've got tons of equity. If we foreclose on that property, we're going to be able to sell it. We're going to get all of our money and it's going to be great for us, as the lender.”
Now think like the lender.
Okay? And the lender is going to be swift in starting foreclosure. They're going to file notices of default.
They're going to take those properties as quick as they can and they are not going to do loan modifications. They are not going to do short sales.
Why would they? There's no incentive.
For the homeowners with 100% equity
George Gammon: Right. But what if… Okay, and that's a fantastic point.
But I also want to address the people that might have 100% equity in their home to where they don't have any debt.
They're not really concerned about losing their home because they own it outright. Would you suggest…
So again, going back to your $500,000 example, would you suggest those people take out 70% LTV?
So they've got some cash in their back pocket, so if the real estate market goes down by 50%.
They've got the cash and maybe they've got dry powder to invest in something that might be cheap at that time.
But then of course they have the carrying costs of having the loan and the interest that you're paying until something's cheap.
Then you've got the psychological component of wanting to maybe put that money to work faster than you otherwise should have because you're paying the interest.
Or would it be smarter maybe to take out a line of credit just so you've got it at your disposal, but then you're kind of risking that the bank says, if it gets bad enough, the bank says, “Okay, that $200,000 line of credit.”
Jason Hartman: They could pull it in.
George Gammon: “Yeah, forget that. That's no longer good.” So what are your thoughts there?
Jason Hartman: That's a fantastic question, first of all.
Unequivocally, refinance the property and pull the cash out. Okay.
If that person or that couple loses their jobs and they need cash for living expenses. Okay, forget about investing, just living expenses.
Good luck getting a loan with no job, it won't happen. Okay?
George Gammon: You're right.
Jason Hartman: So, you must get control of that equity as quickly as possible, okay.
You don't want a line of credit because like you said, rightfully so, the bank can call in the line of credit, otherwise known as a HELOC, a home equity line of credit. Okay.
The line of credit, if you don't borrow… Now, once you take the money on the line of credit, so you've got that $500,000 house.
Say you put a $200,000 HELOC line of credit on it, whatever you want to call it, just a line of credit.
If you borrow the $300,000, the bank in almost every case is not allowed to just say, “Give the money back.”
George Gammon: If you've already spent it, you mean?
Jason Hartman: Well, you don't have to have spent it. You could just stick it in your bank.
Now, another rule, I want to say as an aside, never bank where you borrow. Okay.
Because banks have been known to come in and sweep accounts at their own bank. So if you borrow your money from Chase, do not put your bank accounts at Chase.
George Gammon: I didn't know that.
Jason Hartman: Yeah. If you borrow from BofA, do not have your savings account at BofA. Okay? Or your checking account. Okay?
I'm not a lawyer, so refer to an attorney for legal advice. But I have heard of instances where people bank and borrow at the same place and they default on a loan and the bank will literally just sweep their account.
Now granted, they can do that anyway through the legal system if they sue you and get a judgment for what's called a deficiency. Okay.
If they go beyond the property, which they rarely do, so don't worry too much about that. It's pretty rare actually. But they could do it through the legal system, meaning they have to do a whole lawsuit.
They could get a judgment and they could sweep an account at any bank if they have a judgment. Okay?
George Gammon: Okay.
Jason Hartman: But they can do it much more easily at their own bank. Okay. Yeah. Okay, so that's that. What we're talking about before that?
George Gammon: So going back to the person at 100% equity.
Jason Hartman: Yeah.
George Gammon: And I asked…
Is it better for them to take out that equity?
You're saying, absolutely do so because if you do lose your job, then at least you've got some money there.
Because, if you don't have control over that equity in the form of liquidity or just cash in your bank account, then if you've lost your job, going to the bank or doing whatever and saying, “Hey, I need the money now.”
And they're going to look at you and say, “Well, you don't have a job. Forget it. You're not getting it.”
Then you're high and dry.
Jason Hartman: You are. Then you've got a property with a ton of equity that is soon, if you have a small loan and you default, they're going to take it.
But remember something else, the idea of free and clear is a myth.
Almost everywhere on planet earth, the government maintains a perpetual loan on your property. It's called property taxes.
George Gammon: That's right.
Jason Hartman: If you have a homeowners association, they also have a lien on your property.
If you have a natural disaster and your insurance, maybe the policy lapsed, you forgot to pay it, maybe you couldn't afford to pay it.
Maybe your insurance company is just trying to weasel out of providing coverage. Guess what?
You've got to fight with him. If your property is wiped out in an earthquake, you probably don't have insurance for earthquakes, almost nobody does.
But say it's a hurricane or tornado or a fire, you got to go fight with your insurance company.
If you have a loan against that property, guess who's going to fight for you? Your lender.
Okay. Do you think your insurance company is going to take advantage of Bank of America or you?
Who do you think they're going to… Bank of America's got a battery of lawyers to protect their collateral. Okay.
The lender basically becomes your partner. They're a great partner because when things are good, they don't ask for anything more than their measly little interest rate. Okay.
When things are bad, they bail you out. Helicopter money. It's another form of helicopter money.
George Gammon: Yeah. Well, that's a great point.
Because I was looking at it from the standpoint of do you take that, that equity out?
So you maybe have some dry powder to invest, but also having it there in case you do lose your job.
In case you have a medical emergency or something, if we can't go back to work for three months, six months, who knows?
I think that's a very good point that people should think through.
Jason Hartman: One comment on that.
So look, I have another podcast that used to be my second most popular podcast called the Holistic Survival Show.
I started during the great recession. And George, I interviewed all these preppers and survivalists and some of those people are a little nutty?
But they're not all wrong. They have some good points.
What they basically say is, “Look, store some water, store some food, have a first aid kit, have some supplies.” That's rational. Everybody should do this.
Similarly, when it comes to fiscal, your own internal fiscal policy, you should store some money. In a recession, cash is king. Okay?
The sooner you get your money out of your property, then you've got some supplies.
Your money is part of your supply, your war chest. So, of course, we can talk about investing and getting good deals, if the economy collapses. Absolutely.
But just on your own personal level, you are better getting that money out of the property.
Real Estate Markets Current Situation
George Gammon: Yeah. Okay. That makes a ton of sense.
Now, let's kind of get your opinion on what you see happening in the markets.
When I say the markets, let's start with a linear, let's go-to hybrid and then cyclical from a standpoint of nominal prices.
I don't want to get too confused here with the adjusting for inflation and whatnot, but just nominal prices. You've been through several of these cycles…
Jason Hartman: But not a pandemic. This is my first one.
George Gammon: Well, yeah. But you've been through several downturns.
Jason Hartman: Oh yeah.
George Gammon: Where nominal prices have declined.
How do those usually play out? Then how maybe might this one be different?
Jason Hartman: Well, that's another good question.
So, usually they play out as we all remember them. The economy becomes sicker than it normally is.
It's sick always, because it's a house of cards. Okay?
But contextually every economy is a house of cards. The whole world is built on a house of cards.
So let's just compare them all in a normal wise term, to each other.
The economy goes into recession and things get bad, stock markets go down, other assets suffer, businesses suffer, businesses close their doors, bankruptcies increase, and real estate starts to decline in value.
The thing about real estate though is it moves much more slowly than the other asset classes.
Which is one of the things I love about it. It's much less volatile. Everybody should remember the concept that liquidity creates volatility.
Now the stock market people will tell you, “I don't like real estate. I like stocks because I can go and I can trade my stocks on a mouse click. They're very liquid. I can react fast. I can buy fast, I can sell fast.”
Okay, great. But that creates volatility because everybody else in the market can do that too. Okay?
With a house, it takes time to sell it. The whole process is slow and it gives you time to think.
That's good. Okay? So the prices go down and they go down the most in cyclical markets, they go down the second-most in hybrid markets, which as the name would imply are in between linear and cyclical.
Hybrid markets, just as an example, are places like Austin, Texas, Denver, Colorado.
They're good cities that are what Richard Florida, who's an author, I haven't interviewed him on my show, but I need to get him on. He calls them creative class cities. Okay?
These are cities that are very attractive to sort of the new generation of internet entrepreneurs, creators, like yourself.
You're a YouTube creator and intelligent people who can't afford to live in Los Angeles for example, necessarily. Okay?
Those are mostly the hybrid markets. So those have some risk to them.
Less so than cyclical markets like Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, New York, right? And Miami and more of them.
George Gammon: Right.
You and I talked about it, when we did two and a half hours last weekend, which was a lot of fun, George.
George Gammon: Yeah. Do you have that up on your website?
Just for everyone, Jason had the brilliant idea, of securing the URL pandemicinvesting.com. So guys, check that out.
I think you already have some content.
Jason Hartman: It is. Our interview is there.
George Gammon: Oh, our interview?
Jason Hartman: Yeah.
George Gammon: Okay.
Jason Hartman: Yeah. So the full two and a half-hour interview and it's totally free.
You can just go to pandemicinvesting.com and George and I, we had to… It was so long our talk, we split it up over two days.
So there's a change of clothes in there. Change of wardrobe. It was such a long interview.
George, I think we ought to do a one-week marathon interview maybe sometime.
George Gammon: Yeah. Right.
When I say that, I mean there are two big forces in the world that are going to decide, and this is very general. Okay.
It's much less technical than what you cover on your channel with your awesome whiteboards. Okay.
But two major forces that decide whether or not the future is inflationary or deflationary. Okay.
Here's what they are. One force is the terrible fiscal and monetary policy that our governments and central banks have. It's absolutely immature, what they do. It's pathetic.
It's ridiculous what they do, right?
Because they spend, spend and then they just do helicopter money and bailouts and every Austrian economist is rolling over in their graves. Okay.
It's ridiculous. Right? So the one side, fiscal and monetary policy would indicate, we're going to have inflation. Inflation is going to run rampant. It's going to be terrible. Right?
But the other force, the other big force is technology and technology is deflationary. Okay.
Look it. We are all so used to everything getting faster, better, cheaper, and more convenient. Okay.
Over the past 10 years, over the past 40 years, whatever. Right? It's like we just expect things to get cheaper and better all the time.
Every time I buy a new phone or computer, it's just so much better than the last one and the price is the same.
So, hedonically indexed as I'm sure you've talked about on your show, it's only half the cost.
But that's not really true because that's a misleading thing.
Those are the two forces battling out and we don't know which one will win. Will technology win?
Will the future be deflationary? Or will monetary and fiscal policy, bad monetary and fiscal policy win and make the future inflationary? They're opposing forces.
Well, what's interesting about the linear markets is this, during the pandemic. I have predicted and I am sure this prediction will come true.
I haven't been quite so sure about many of my predictions as I am about this one. As soon as this blows over, the really bad time and this is going to be a bad month, George.
And you've really done a good job on your show, with Eric Townsend talking about that flattening the curve and overwhelming the healthcare system and all of that stuff, right?
Jason Hartman: This month will probably be the really ugly month that is going to be pretty tough. So get ready folks.
But when this blows over and it will blow over, okay? Maybe it'll be six weeks from now, maybe three months, people are going to migrate out of high density, expensive cyclical markets.
I think there is a sea change coming in the mentality of people around the world, especially in the US or in places like London.
Places that are very financialized cities, where people are living the high life and they're just making more money than they could ever spend. Okay.
People in the financial industry, London, New York, right? That's what I think of.
I think there is going to be a move toward a simpler life and I think there is going to be a move out of high density urbanized environments that are almost always expensive.
Okay. 84% of the US is an urbanized to one degree or another high-density place.
So even if the real estate market crashes and prices collapse.
If we have a really bad recession, which we might, even if that happens, the opposing force for these linear markets and to some extent hybrid markets, but less so there, is the mass migration that I predict out of high-density expensive markets.
What people are seeing now is that we are one of the… And this is one of the silver linings in all of this, we are seeing that technology can really allow us to work remotely. We all sort of knew that before.
Some of us knew it completely. Like you and I, we've been doing it for years, but now the rest of the world has been forced into it.
Jason Hartman: Our parents who are older and not as tech savvy, they've been forced into it.
Big corporate execs. I mean, look, Joe Biden is streaming. If he can do it, anybody can. He's an idiot. Okay.
Joe Biden, have you seen him streaming with his little podium in his den. It's hilarious. So now, we've realized that the emperor has no clothes. Office spaces aren't needed. Okay.
People don't need to live in these big expensive cities.
Now they're afraid that every time they touch the elevator button or they're in the crowded coffee shop or the crowded everything because subway, everything is crowded in a big city. Okay.
You're just crowded. It's very dangerous to live in these places. You can't socially distance and I don't know, I think this is a sea change.
I don't think we're going to forget this anytime soon. Okay. I think this is going to be with us for a long, long time.
There's going to be the force of this mass migration out of high density, usually expensive environments into suburban environments and I have predicted the rise of suburbia.
So, in other words, even if the overall real estate market declines in value, the mass migration force moving into these suburban markets will buoy that value. Maybe even make it go up relatively.
Maybe even in inflation-adjusted dollars, those markets will become a lot more expensive. I don't know how big the trend will be. I just know it will be a trend.
George Gammon: Okay, so the takeaway here is if you are that average person, maybe looking for a home to purchase, if you're in a cyclical market, you might want to think twice and maybe rent for the time being.
Even if you're gung-ho and a lot of people have significant others, let's say, that might not be as… That might not prioritize the numbers and the financial component of it as much as you and I do.
Jason Hartman: Right.
George Gammon: I was going to say, you're a single guy. I'm a single guy. It's a little different decision-making process there, granted.
So those people, but at least for now maybe rent if you can, to ride out what happens with the Cerveza Sickness. So we know a little bit more in three months, six months.
If you're in a hybrid market, maybe do the same thing. If you're in a linear market, well maybe if you find a good deal, it might be wise to go ahead and pull the trigger anyway.
Because you may have some tailwinds there from the migration of people moving from these tightly packed areas like San Francisco, New York, going out to the suburbs more.
And just to be clear, there could be very linear markets in New York.
Jason Hartman: Well, in New York State, but not anywhere near the city, yeah.
George Gammon: That's what I'm saying. That's what I'm saying. So just when we say New York…
Jason Hartman: Right. We're talking about the city, usually.
George Gammon: Yeah, we're talking about New York City. There could be Albany or something like that.
Jason Hartman: Yeah. Absolutely.
George Gammon: It could be much more linear.
Jason Hartman: Yeah.
George Gammon: So I think that's kind of the takeaway right there.
Then going back to the equity components…
If you do have a lot of equity, 100%, it may be time to think about pulling that out while you can, just not only to keep dry powder, but then also to just, as a worst-case scenario, you've got some cash there and if you do lose your job and need to buy some time, or the Cerveza Sickness to be in the rearview mirror to where you can start making some money again.
Okay, so we're there right now. Next step, let's discuss the government programs that could change a lot of what we're talking about.
So I know the $2 trillion stimulus package had some component of it that was applicable to people that have mortgages, not just investors but homeowners themselves.
But from what I understood, it was only people who have mortgages through Fannie and Freddie, or when the debt has been sold to Fannie and Freddie.
Can you expand on that?
Jason Hartman: Yeah. This is all pretty new.
Forgive me that I do not have like super specific details, but basically, conceptually speaking, the government-backed debt, meaning pseudo-government-backed or whatever. Okay.
The agency loans, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, the government-sponsored entities, and then also VA and FHA. Okay. There are two more. Right?
Basically, if you're listening to this and you have one of those mortgages, and you probably do, almost everybody listening has one of those types of mortgages.
They're the vast majority of all mortgages. Okay? You can get a forbearance. Okay.
Meaning, what a forbearance means is that they're not waving the payments, but literally by contacting your lender and saying, “Due to economic circumstances.” That's like all you have to say. It's incredibly easy.
You don't have to give them your tax returns. You don't have to give them a hardship letter. You don't have to tell them that you lost your job or anything.
They will give you a forbearance easily for 90 days. Meaning you can skip the next three payments. Probably not much harder to get it for six months or even one year.
George Gammon: Right.
Jason Hartman: Okay. So they will just take those payments and tack them on the back of a loan.
They won't report any negative reporting to your credit bureaus. Okay. And be sure you… By the way, if you're a good consumer, investor, borrower, always check your own credit score, okay?
Do not ever leave it to the lenders. You should subscribe to one of those services that allow you to check it. Okay? So, that's your bailout. Get your bailout.
Now there's a lot more we can talk about because I'm sure many of your listeners, could qualify for the SBA financing for their business. Okay.
There's more bailouts than just the real estate stuff, but yeah, the real estate is, is pretty easy and I think the bailout that's being offered today, the forbearance is going to… The next, there'll be another round.
It's even going to be better.
George Gammon: So how do you think that will affect nominal prices? Going back to what we were just talking about with the three markets.
Jason Hartman: No, I haven't thought much about that. It'll slow any decline.
George Gammon: You're right.
Jason Hartman: Okay? Because it will allow people who would be in peril to not be in peril because they're not paying. Okay? So, yeah.
George Gammon: Then to add on to that, I think it's a misconception that some people have.
Let's just say a hundred percent of mortgage holders stop paying their mortgage right now, today.
I think it's a misconception in the general public that everyone would be kicked out of their house in 30 days, like a renter.
But I think they need to understand that the foreclosure process can take a long time. I know it's different from state to state.
Jason Hartman: Right.
George Gammon: And not only combining that on top of what you said earlier with the bank coming in and maybe adjusting the loan, a modification, maybe the government comes out and says, “Okay, time out. Here, guys, we're going to try to the Home Owner Act or something.”
Where banks were not allowing you to foreclose for at least a year on top of the forbearance that you just spoke of. So how would that potentially play out?
Jason Hartman: Well, actually kind of tying it in with our previous conversation of owning versus renting, this is one of the advantages of owning.
Is that you can play the game with your mortgage company. Okay.
You mentioned rightly so George, that it depends on the state. Okay, in some states, the foreclosure process works pretty quickly. California for example, it's 121 days.
But they never really go that fast in real life, but they can go that fast. They can't do it now because there's a moratorium.
But generally speaking, it's a 90 day period of when you can make up the back payments and then there's a 21 day period after that where you have to pay the entire balance. That's the legal requirement.
But the reality is usually different. Okay. Especially if you don't have much equity, then the reality is much more in your favor so you can negotiate with the lender.
But in places like New York and Florida, and I live in Florida by the way, they have to do judicial foreclosures, meaning they basically, when they foreclose on you, they have to sue you. Okay?
George Gammon: Right.
Jason Hartman: That can take two, three years. Okay.
I mean, people last time around in the Great Recession, they were sitting in their houses not making a payment for a year or two years, three years sometimes.
There are even cases that are longer than that. I know of one, friend of a friend's in California that's been still even in the booming market for some reason, the lender hasn't foreclosed.
They've been sitting in the house like 10 years without making a payment. I mean, how ridiculous.
Talk about moral hazard. This is the moral hazard of moral hazards.
George Gammon: Yeah.
So the point is people not only do have this one-year moratorium where you don't have to make delayed payments, then on top of that, it could be…
Let's call it another six months, maybe even another two years before those people get kicked out of their homes, if they stop making payments today.
Jason Hartman: Right.
George Gammon: They didn't have the money to pay starting today. So it's like a giant ship.
It's very difficult for real estate prices to just drop by 50% in two weeks like a stock market or something.
Jason Hartman: Yeah. It's a much slower, more gradual process, which is great for investors.
You can think, you can make decisions. It's not high-frequency trading. It's the exact opposite of that. Okay?
George Gammon: Yeah.
Jason Hartman: So it's super low-frequency trading.
Japan's Housing Market Bubble and the GFC
George Gammon: One thing I'd like to point out there, Jason, is in one of my videos last week, I used a chart of the Japanese housing market and I think that's a great lesson.
It's one of the charts that I used when I decided to get involved with real estate investing back in 2012.
They hit their peak around 1990.
Jason Hartman: Right.
George Gammon: But they didn't bottom out in the market until 2005.
Jason Hartman: Isn't that unbelievable?
George Gammon: 15 years. And that was one of the biggest bubbles we have ever seen in human history.
Jason Hartman: Right.
George Gammon: So 15 years to go from the top to the bottom.
So I'm just for… I know there's a lot of people out there that are saying, “Okay, I'm going to hold off on my purchase because maybe in three months or six months, I could get it for half price.”
Jason Hartman: That's crazy thinking.
George Gammon: Yeah. There's no certainties. I mean, who knows what could happen.
We'd go to 100% unemployment and the whole thing could implode, but it's not a real high probability that even if we do come down 50% it happens in three months or six months.
Even going back to the GFC, it took what? Three years.
Jason Hartman: It took longer than that. A good three years for sure. Yeah.
And in the linear markets, it wasn't that pronounced. Here's the other problem with trying to time.
The market timers generally do not succeed. Okay? Rarely do they ever succeed.
Actually I mean, in any sort of market, whether it be cryptocurrencies, stocks, precious metals, certainly not real estate. Market timing is a bit of a fantasy. Okay? It just doesn't really work.
Ask Warren Buffet, he doesn't try to time the market. He just invests. He just buys value and waits.
See, something I talk about on my podcast, you've heard me say a lot is, you can't hear the dogs that don't bark. You can't hear the dogs that don't bark.
In the investment game, real estate, or any other asset, if it's an asset that produces cash flow or pays dividends, people might think, “Well, I'm a genius. I got lucky.” They will never say they got lucky.
They'll usually say they're a genius, but the reality is they just got lucky. Okay? And they timed the market.
So say they're sitting here today and they think, “Oh my gosh, we're going into this massive recession. It's going to be terrible. Every asset price is going to be cut in half.”
Okay, great. Say you're right. Okay, maybe that'll come true.
So, you're looking at an investment property or a house for yourself in a good solid linear market in an inexpensive house under $300,000, and you've got super-low interest rates and you don't pull the trigger because you think it's going to go down in value by 30% or 50%, right?
Which would be an extreme drop by the way.
It's unlikely that it would drop that much in one of those markets, but say it did. Okay?
What you never calculate when you have that conversation three years or five years from now is you never calculate the income or the return on investment you lost, that you did not gain those three or five years you were sitting in cash.
George Gammon: Right.
Jason Hartman: Okay?
George Gammon: Yeah. For an investor.
Jason Hartman: Right. But even on a homeowner. You have to treat your house like an investment, right? To do it properly.
If it drops that much by then, the likelihood is that if you buy right at the bottom, you'll be buying during the comeback phase when it's sloping up again. Okay?
Well, when you have that happen, you're unlikely to have these incredibly low rates.
You've lost three years of return on investment because guess what? You had to rent a house. Okay? And you had to pay for the rental.
If you didn't buy it as an investment property, you lost the cash flow and the income on it.
You lost the tax benefits, you lost the inflation-induced debt destruction. If we have inflation between now and then. Consumer inflation, I mean.
How to determine when the market is cheap and if it’s a good deal to buy
George Gammon: All right Jason, so I'm totally on board with that. I totally get it.
My next question would be, if I'm an investor, well, if I'm a homeowner, just the average Joe looking at this and sizing it up just through the numbers like an investor would, although I'm buying this for my family.
How would you determine at what point something is cheap? What metrics do you use?
Let's say I'm in a linear market, I'm in the market for a home that's under $300,000 but maybe I kind of want to stay on the sidelines right now. Just wait it out.
Rent for the next three months, six months.
When we're done there, how do I know if something's cheap?
Do I look at its historical chart, going back to 1900?
So how do I get that for that specific market? Or…
Do I look at the cash flow, and do a cash flow analysis and then extrapolate that forward or extrapolate that up into the actual home price, or do I just look at the debt component of it?
Jason Hartman: I'm so glad you mentioned that.
George Gammon: Yeah.
How do I determine if something is cheap right now or if it's a better deal right now?
Jason Hartman: You are fantastic at explaining that when it comes to stocks and precious metals.
You've talked about that on your show many times. I don't know if you've gone into it in terms of cryptocurrencies. With real estate, improved real estate, we're talking about, with a house sitting on the land or an apartment building sitting on the land, there are a couple of things want to bring to people's attention.
One way you know if it's cheap is if the ingredients and the assembly of those ingredients cost more or about the price you're paying.
In other words, we did a show on what I call packaged commodities investing or what I developed around that called the Hartman risk evaluator, which is basically the cost of all the raw materials and you got to think of what are the ingredients of a house?
They are copper, wire, petroleum products, and look at how cheap oil is right now. Right?
Energy in general, lumber, concrete, steel, glass, all of these items are ingredients of a house, plus the labor to assemble them, right?
The labor may be cheap or expensive at the time.
So if you're buying a house at or close or below, ideally, the cost of construction, which depends on where you are.
But The Building Industry Association or The National Association of Home Builders and we've done some shows with him on my podcast, where we've profiled different parts of the country and the cost of construction in those areas.
Generally speaking, you can't build a house anywhere today for less than about $75 per square foot. Okay?
George Gammon: Yeah.
Jason Hartman: Plus and that's cheap. Okay. I'm talking about a cheap crappy house.
George Gammon: I was going to say 125.
Jason Hartman: Yeah, no. It's more for anything nice. Okay? Or the more highly regulated the area, the more expensive it is to build.
So if you want to build in the Socialist Republic of California, it's going to cost you dramatically more than that.
George Gammon: 300, yeah.
Jason Hartman: Because you're going to have to do 27 environmental impact reports, worry about some bug that might live on that land. It's crazy, right?
But in normal places that aren't crazy like California, it's not as hard. So the cost of construction is one thing.
So remember, cheapest to build is about $75 per square foot and the cheapest market to build the cheapest house. Okay. Usually it's more. Plus the cost of the land.
So let's just do some math on that. I think it might be illuminating to your listeners or viewers. Okay?
George Gammon: Also, when you're doing the math, can you explain why?
It's really because there can't be any more supply come on the market until prices go up, because there needs to be a profit for the home builder.
Jason Hartman: Very good. Look, builders don't build unless they can make money. Okay?
George Gammon: Right.
Jason Hartman: Now, that's not completely true and I'll tell you why.
At the end of the cycle, they're usually still spending money from investors that already paid them and they've already got financing for the project.
So you might think, “Okay, the market's terrible. Why are they still building?” Well, because they have to keep the machine going, but usually that fizzles out about six months later.
It doesn't go for very long. Okay. Then construction comes to a halt. I just want to illustrate that there's a time lag. That's it. Okay?
George Gammon: Got it.
Jason Hartman: Okay. So look, we're taking a 1500 square foot house. Okay. There we got 1500 on the calculator times $75 per square foot. That's $112,500.
George Gammon: Jason, I want to make sure people understand this. Because I know a lot of markets where I've looked at real estate, they'll include the basement and all these other things.
So you'll look at it, you say, “Oh my gosh, there's a $50 of square foot.” They don't understand that they're including the street and the parking lot and the sidewalk.
Jason Hartman: And the garage, or the balconies.
So tell us what we should be including in the square footage when we're trying to calculate how much am I paying per square foot?
Jason Hartman: The usual custom is what in the house or in the structure is heated and cooled. Okay.
So if it's got the air conditioning system, which the garage doesn't have in most places.
Now, I always thought, if I ever build my own house, I've got some means, I've got some money, okay, I'm going to heat and cool my garage.
Especially in Florida, I'm going to cool, I'm going to put air conditioning in my garage.
I know all the environmentalists now hate me, okay? But whatever.
I just like going into a nice, cool air-conditioned garage. So it's 112,500 plus the cost of the land.
So let's say the land is $20,000. Okay? And that's about the cheapest land you're going to get. Okay? $20,000 for the lot. You've got 132,500.
Now, what we want to do is we want to again, divide by the square footage. So we get the total price per square foot. And oops, I did it wrong.
So I said one 32,500 divided by 1500 equals that's $88 and 33 cents per square foot, okay?
Remember the construction costs you 75, which is about the cheapest you're ever going to see.
But then when you put the land in, the effective cost is $88 and 33 cents per square foot. Okay?
At 75 I'm assuming the builder could build at a profit at 75.
George Gammon: Well, okay.
Jason Hartman: Okay? But that's a very skinny deal. Realistically it's going to be a hundred bucks a square foot. Okay. I'm just going super cheap here. Okay?
George Gammon: Okay, got it.
Jason Hartman: So, then what you know there is, if you can buy that 1500 square foot house for around… If you can buy it anywhere between 150 and $130,000, you're probably okay in terms of the cost of the construction approach.
George Gammon: Yeah. Long-term, right. Yeah.
Jason Hartman: Yeah. You're going to be fine. Especially with the cheap debt. Okay.
So that is another point. Another point of how do you know it's cheap? Most people, George wrongly focus on the price of the house.
They don't focus on the price of the mortgage. Okay. And you very rightly do that and so do I.
So you might overpay for the house slightly, don't overpay too much. But let's say you do overpay for the house a little bit, right?
But if you get an incredibly cheap three-decade-long fixed-rate mortgage, where you're getting paid to borrow the money, you're literally getting paid to borrow it.
George Gammon: Because of inflation.
Jason Hartman: Because of inflation and taxes because mortgage interest is deductible.
So one of our investors, we just did a show on this about… He was on my podcast about three, four weeks ago.
George Gammon: Jason, could you mention the name of your podcast for those who might not know your main podcast?
Jason Hartman: My main podcast is called The Creating Wealth Show.
George Gammon: Okay.
Jason Hartman: A few weeks ago I had one of our clients, our investor clients on the show, and he bought a property from us and his mortgage was 3.5%.
George Gammon: Wow.
Jason Hartman: I said to him, I showed on the show how if he never rents that out, even one day, if a renter never occupies that house and produces any income for him, because of inflation and taxes, he's literally getting paid to borrow that money. Okay?
The way you do that math, just very quickly on a thumbnail is you say okay.
If you live in a state where you have state taxes and federal taxes and your combined tax bracket just for round numbers is 50%, okay?
If you're buying a property like that, your income is probably fairly high. So you're paying somewhere in the neighborhood 50%, maybe a little less, okay? But if you live in California, it's not far off. Okay?
So for round numbers, 50%. So take three and a half percent interest and take… Since in the beginning of the loan it's amortized, almost all of that is interest.
So 1.75% is the deduction you get on the interest. Okay?
George Gammon: Right.
Jason Hartman: Half of 3.5. And then if inflation is two percent, okay? 1.75 plus two is 3.75.
But he borrowed the money at 3.5.
So he's getting paid a quarter percent to borrow the money, even if he never puts a tenant in the property.
George Gammon: Yeah. And that's a pretty low rate of inflation too. I think moving forward, that bumps up to three, four, or who knows? We go into the 1970s and it's a…
Jason Hartman: 13%.
George Gammon: Yeah.
Jason Hartman: Right, right. So, the three things I would say, George, to answer the question is the cost of construction, cost of money.
Then the last one is rent to value ratio. If you want to determine if it's cheap, you should look at the cost of the debt, the cost of construction, and the cost of the rental income.
George Gammon: Even if you're not an investor.
Jason Hartman: Even if you're not an investor, even if you never rent it, how much rent would the asset produce?
I mean look, appraisers, when they appraise a property, they have multiple approaches to determine the value of the property. One is the cost approach.
How much would it cost to build this house today? That's the cost approach.
Another one is the comparison approach. What are other houses in the neighborhood selling for?
A third is the income approach. How much income would this property produce? One of those three ways they can arrive at the value of the property.
George Gammon: Yeah, and I know too that the reason that should be important, an important metric for just a homeowner in their consideration process of when is a good time to buy is, I just remember going back to 2012.
I just happened to buy at the bottom there, I bought a lot of properties.
Jason Hartman: Good for you.
George Gammon: And one of the main reasons that I was there buying was for the cashflow and a lot of other investors, private equity, a lot of other groups that kind of took the same approach.
But my point is that put a floor in the market.
Jason Hartman: Right.
George Gammon: Because once you get that return, the cashflow return of call it 10, 12, 14%, were compared to… Especially if interest rates stay low, compared to a 10-year treasury, you're at two percent.
You're going to have some kind of buyer come in, whether it's an investor or a homeowner, and buy that property. And so that's kind of putting a floor.
So I think, the takeaway there would be the cost of construction, puts in kind of a floor. Because there can't be any more supply come online until prices go up.
The cost of the debt is something you've got to consider.
Then the cash flow would also put in a theoretical floor from the standpoint of the investor getting such a good return that they're going to come in and buy, regardless of the price or anything like that. So, yeah.
Metrics To Consider Before Buying A Home
Jason Hartman: Yeah. George, actually you just made me think, I have a bonus metric, okay?
We had three. We basically looked at it like an appraisal. We did the cost approach, we did the income approach, we did the comparison approach. Okay?
George Gammon: Okay.
Jason Hartman: So now there is one more bonus metric that you might want to use and I'll call it the compared to what metric. Okay. Compared to what?
George Gammon: Right.
Jason Hartman: One of the things I always try to ask myself with everything in life, financial decisions, or any decision, compared to what? Okay?
And if you ask yourself compared to what? You've got to think, “Well what else could I do with the money?” Because that question elicits what's called the opportunity cost response.
If you can't do anything better with the money, then even if you're not getting the greatest deal, even if the market goes down a little more and maybe you could buy it cheaper in three years, but we don't know for sure, you're probably making a pretty good decision, if compared to what is not better.
Now, what you in fairness have to ask yourself.
Well, you have to say, compared to the S&P 500, compared to the stock market, right? Or compared to cash, right?
Keeping it in cash, or compared to gold or compared to cryptocurrency or whatever else, compared to investing in someone's private placement memorandum, which is highly risky by the way.
So there's always the compared to what question. That's another sort of bonus round.
George Gammon: All right buddy. Well, I want to be cognizant of your time.
So for any of the viewers or listeners who might not know how to reach you, where can they go?
Jason Hartman: Yeah, thank you.
Jasonhartman.com is my website. That's J-A-S-O-N H-A-R-T-M-A-N .com. Also we mentioned the sort of secondary site, which is just a one-off thing, pandemicinvesting.com that they can get that full long interview that you and I did, two and a half hours of it.
George Gammon: Yeah. Also I'd highly, highly recommend Jason's podcast, his main podcast, all of them, but his main podcast, we're referring to it throughout the interview.
That's The Creating Wealth Show on iTunes.
He's got well over 1000 episodes going all the way back to 2006 almost any type of question you may have for real estate is going to be answered on one of those videos.
So make sure you check that out as soon as this video's done. So, buddy, I appreciate your time and like always, I cannot wait to do it again, man. Let's see how that plays out.
Jason Hartman: Hey, thank you very much. Be safe. Stay well.
Everybody listening, be careful out there and listen, keep the faith. This will not last forever.
In fact, one of the things I'd say to people is you got to stop watching the news day-to-day.
We are so… Everybody in the world is addicted to this daily news. We got to step back, get a little perspective, and just in a month, in six weeks, everything's going to change. Okay.
So it's just changing so fast.
George Gammon: Wear your face mask, social distance, wash your hands, don't watch the news.
Jason Hartman: Yeah. And keep your eye on the ball, on the big picture. So be safe, everybody. Happy investing.