Honoring Sacrifice

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Since the earliest ceremonies in small American towns following the Civil War, we have gathered on Memorial Day to honor and remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice in service to our nation. As in those early days of laying wreaths and placing flags, our national day of remembrance is often felt most deeply among the families and communities who have personally lost friends and loved ones.

Since World War I, more than 645,000 men and women have given their lives in defense of our freedom here at home and around the world. 

This national holiday may also be the unofficial start of the summer season, but all Americans must take a moment to remember the sacrifice of our valiant military service members, first responders and their families. Memorial Day is a day of both celebration and grief, accounting for the honor of our heroes and reflecting on their tragic loss.

This Memorial Day, join us in remembering those who bravely sacrificed their lives for our country. 

At NAMCOA we pay tribute to Honor, Duty and Sacrifice.  

April Recap: Narrative Changes

Stocks rose a fraction of a percent, gold fell 1%, and the bond index fell 1% in April, continuing the very choppy sideways price movement we’ve experienced this year.   The month ended just below middle of the price range we’ve seen since the market top on January 26th.

Over the past few weeks, earnings have been spectacular, growing over 20% on an annual basis.  Unfortunately, stock prices have not reacted well to this great news.  Earnings season appears to have a ‘sell the news’ feel to it.  This could support the notion that stocks were priced to perfection going into reporting season.    The decline in prices and increase in earnings has reduced the market P/E (Price to Earnings) multiple, which could allow stocks to rise back to January levels.   Tax Reform has accounted for about 1/2 of the earnings growth.  There are two issues going forward.  One is that continuing

to grow at that pace will be difficult since we cannot cut taxes every year (and the tax changes to individuals are front loaded—the reductions we have seen will fade in the coming years). Secondly, earnings’ growth slowing, even from 20% to maybe 12%, can be seen as a negative: “slowing earnings growth”.   Surprising positive economic data because of tax reform needs to show up immediately, otherwise, the ‘hope’ baked into stock prices may be removed in the coming months.

Through the month of April, the narrative of ‘global synchronized growth’ has changed as European economic data has come in softer than expected and the US economy has pressed on.  So now we see the US as a main driver of global growth.  In the very short term, this narrative change has given the US Dollar a boost up.   Over the past few months, ‘dollar short’ and ‘rates higher’ have been very popular trades and have begun to unravel.   A stronger dollar will do harm to future US corporate earnings, make $-denominated emerging market debt more difficult to pay back, and serve as a headwind to ex-US assets (emerging, Asian and European stocks and bonds).  And slower growth will not support higher rates for longer term bonds.

The change in the growth narrative/data has been substantial enough for the Federal Reserve to remove from its FOMC Statement, “The economic outlook has strengthened in recent months.”   Often the Fed will change a word or two in certain sentences.  They could have change it from ‘strengthened’ to ‘remains strong’ or ‘continues to expand’.  Instead they dropped it altogether.   This is influencing perceptions of how many times more this year the Fed will raise short term rates.  In the WSJ today the front-page headline, “Fed is On Course for Rate Increases”.  Given the boldness of this headline, its odd to see in the article an inference that even if inflation was stronger, the Fed wont raise rates more than already indicated, which is twice more this year.  There is a dichotomy in the Fed’s statement: taking out the growth story but keeping to the idea that rising inflation is OK, or even good.  Last time I checked, slowing growth and rising interest rates weren’t a good combination: stagflation.   The Fed needs to review the difference between ‘cost-push’, and ‘demand-pull’ inflation.

AAII sentiment for the week ending May 2 came out this morning and Bullishness declined, and Bearishness increased.  This is as expected given that stocks were down over those survey days.  Bullishness isn’t quite as low as I’d like to see for a good bottom, but if stocks can undercut February’s lows, we should see Sentiment get negative enough to support a rally in stock prices going into the late Spring.

Adam Waszkowski, CFA

What is a “Cap” rate?

The capitalization rate, often referred to as the “cap rate”, is an important fundamental concept used in the world of commercial real estate. It is the rate of return on a real estate investment property based on the income that the property is expected to generate. This metric is used to estimate the investor’s potential return on his or her investment.

Commercial real estate investors use capitalization rates to value properties. When you can raise rents without increasing expenses, your net operating income (NOI) increases. Since cap rate is a ratio of net operating income to the property’s value, this is a positive thing.

The capitalization rate of an investment can be calculated by dividing the property’s net operating income (NOI) by the current market value or acquisition cost of a property, expressed in the following formula:

Capitalization Rate = Net Operating Income / Current Market Value

In summary, the capitalization rate (aka cap rate) is defined as the first year “stabilized” net operating income (NOI) divided by the present value (or purchase price).

What is the Advantage of Using Cap Rate to Analyze an Investment?

The cap rate is a convenient and quick method to determine if the value or purchase price of an investment meets the investor’s criteria. The cap rate alone, however, should not be the sole reason to purchase a property. Investors must perform proper due diligence and consider other factors such as location, demographics, growth, supply vs demand, loan-to-value and debt coverage ratios to determine if an investment is worth the risk.

What are the Disadvantages of Using Cap Rate to Analyze an Investment?
The main disadvantage in using the cap rate to analyze an investment property is that the cap rate only shows the value of a property based on the first year’s stabilized net operating income. If the NOI of a property changes in subsequent years, the cap rate changes, therefore the value. The cap rate has an inverse relationship to value. Assuming the NOI remains the same, if the cap rate increases, the value decreases and vice versa.

Is it Better to Have a Low or High Cap Rate?
The answer to this question depends on who is evaluating the property, and why. Investors (buyers) want to have a high cap rate, meaning the value (or purchase price) of the property is low. Conversely, landlords (sellers) want to see a low cap rate because the selling price is high.

Factors such as loan amount, property type, age of the property, tenant, location, credit history, economic condition, etc. all play a significant role in determining appreciation rate, and ultimately value, of commercial properties.

Therefore, before investors rush out to purchase a property, do not just analyze the investment based on the cap rate. Proper due diligence needs to be performed to see if decisions are made based on real data.

Investors (buyers) want to have a high cap rate, meaning the value (or purchase price) of the property is low. Conversely, landlords (sellers) want to see a low cap rate because the selling price is high. … Even though Property A has a higher net operating income (NOI), the interest is higher.

If NOI rises while the market value does not, the capitalization rate will rise and, if the opposite happens, the capitalization rate will decline.

For a real estate investment to remain profitable at a certain level, NOI needs to increase at the same rate as the property value increases, or at an even greater rate.

Time Heals

In the near term, cap rate increases can have a dramatic impact on property performance. But, real estate performance is less sensitive to cap rate changes as the investment horizon lengthens. Time has the potential to heal most, but likely not all, wounds from rising cap rates through the magic of compounding annual NOI growth rates.

NOI growth can have a powerful impact on property values; the stronger the growth, the greater the protection against adverse movements in cap rates. This last point has important implications for property and market selection and suggests a strong preference for investments with solid NOI growth.

Ask a dozen economists about the effects of rising mortgage interest rates on the housing market, and you’re likely to get two dozen answers. You see, it isn’t simple marketplace, and the interaction between interest rates and performance is really dependent on who has a stake.

For example, home buyers obviously don’t like seeing interest rates rising, unless they’re lucky enough to already be in a transaction with a mortgage rate lock. It makes homes less affordable and forces decisions about buying less of a home or continuing to rent. Those potential buyers who are saving for a down payment or working on repairing their credit are at risk of rising rates during their preparation.

The home buyer perspective is simple, the lower the interest rate, the lower the payment, and the more I can get for my money. When rates fall, it spurs home buying. But, rates have been historically low for years now and the housing market has only experienced what many would call a weak recovery. When rates rise, it certainly doesn’t help overall.

For Real Estate Investors it is more of a glass half full for real estate investors when mortgage rates are rising. Sure, if you’re getting a mortgage to purchase a rental home or commercial property, you’ll incur greater expense and lower cash flow. But, this negative is usually fully offset by benefits to investors.  But when buyers aren’t buying, they have to live somewhere. They rent, and the rising demand for rental properties increases occupancy rates. This reduces vacancy costs, with more renters renewing leases rather than shopping again and moving when properties are scarce.

Rental Rates are related to occupancy, it’s just good old “supply and demand” in action. Reduce the supply and/or increase the demand and prices rise. When occupancy rates are high, rents can usually be increased without a significant effect on vacancy costs.

 

Benefits of the Tenant-In-Common Vs. Delaware Statutory Trust

Real Estate Tenant-In-Common or TIC Offerings 

Technically there are two types of Proportional Ownership products referred to as Tenant In Common  (TICs), which are structured as a securitized TIC or a Real Estate TIC.

Since the favorable ruling by the IRS in 2004 allowing a Delaware Statutory Trust, under specific restrictions, to be eligible for a 1031 exchange the use of securitized TICs has diminished.  Some security professionals have abandoned the TIC structure for the more lucrative business model that the DST format offers. For the sake of this comparison we will focus on the Real Estate TIC and how it compares to a DST.

A tenancy in common investment (better known as a real estate TIC) is an investment in real estate which is co-owned with other investors. Since the taxpayer holds a deed to real estate as a tenant in common, the investment qualifies under the like-kind rules of IRS Section 1031.

This type of an investment can appeal to taxpayers who are tired of managing real estate. TICs can provide a secure investment with a predictable rate of return. Real Estate TICs are often developed by commercial real estate professionals with an emphasis and expertise on the underlying real estate asset. They are marketed by real estate professionals and not security brokers.

A small number of TIC sponsors take the steps necessary to structure their TIC so that the investment is a real estate investment not subject to state security laws. Usually this means that the TIC sponsor will not be responsible for management of the investment and independent management will be employed by the owners.

Real Estate TICs have significant limitations when it comes to leveraging the properties with debt or investing in large complex commercial real estate that require ongoing management where the quality of the return is reliant on a third party. These limitations force Real Estate TIC sponsors to invest in debt-free high-quality Triple Net Leased properties. These limitations tend to produce a simple structure with a high level of safety and security.

The largest draw back to a Real Estate TIC is that each owner must take an active roll in decision making. This can be cumbersome with even a modest number of owners. The need for decisions can be mitigated up front by not taking out debt against the property and engaging in long term Triple Net Leases with investment grade tenants. This structure effectively eliminates the need for decisions in the near and intermediate term.  The tenant in common agreement for each property sets forth the structure whereby these decisions are to be made. Some can be structured with drag rights or other provisions to facilitate decision making.  Investors should closely review the tenant In common agreement.

Delaware Statutory Trust or DST Investment Offerings

In an effort to create an instrument that would increase the profitability for securitized TIC Sponsors as well as facilitate the placement of debt on properties the securities industry joined with commercial lenders and invested significant resources in developing a complex alternative fractional ownership structure that would overcome what they saw as the weaknesses and limitations of the traditional Real Estate TIC Investment Property offerings.  The result was the fractional ownership structure known as the Delaware Statutory Trust or DST.

The Internal Revenue Service issued Revenue Ruling 2004-86 on August 16, 2004. This ruling offered seven significant management limitations that if followed, permitted the use of the fractional ownership structure of the Delaware Statutory Trust or DST to qualify as replacement properties as part of an investor’s 1031 Exchange transaction.

Each co-investor owns an individual beneficial interest in the Delaware Statutory Trust. The DST itself shields the investor from liability with respect to the underlying investment property owned and held inside the DST.  These instruments are created and sponsored by securities professionals with expertise and an emphasis on creating a quality security instrument. They are sold by securities brokers with no required training, experience or education in real estate and are governed by the SEC.

As discussed above individual investors in a Real Estate TIC structure must vote on all major property decisions. Without a majority owner and appropriate structure, it can be somewhat dysfunctional to get the individual TIC Investment Property co-investors to agree on major decisions. To address this issue, the individual investors or beneficiaries in a Delaware Statutory Trust are not permitted to vote. In the DST structure partners relinquish the agency and authority to make all decisions regarding the management and wellbeing of the property and investment and vest it in a single trustee – the sponsor. However, for the DST to be 1031 qualified the Trustee must relinquish the right/ability to make major property decisions. This can create an even more difficult situation than the TIC structure.

Financial institutions can loan to a DST entity. Because the loan is made to the Trust there is no need for a lender to separately underwrite each co-investor for purposes of loan qualification since the DST is the borrower and not each individual investor. This structure allows DSTs to hold multiple properties with multiple and varied debt structures. This can provide a false sense of security to investors. Although individual investors are not underwritten by the lender or personally sign on a loan, their investment is used as collateral and is 100% at risk in the event market conditions, fraud or other issues create a default. The debt structure of any DST should be thoroughly evaluated and understood by each individual investor.

The Seven Deadly Sins of a DST

Internal Revenue Ruling 2004-86, which forms the income tax authority for considering a Trust as Real Estate for use with a 1031 Exchange has extensive prohibitions over the powers of the Trustee of the DST. In a 1031 qualified DST structure, the trustee is restricted from many actions that would otherwise be normal in typical ownership structures such as an LLC. The trustee may not renegotiate leases, make capital calls, or even re-finance the property. These IRS imposed restrictions are sometimes referred to as the “seven deadly sins,” and include the following:

  1. Once the offering is closed, there can be no future equity contribution to the Delaware Statutory Trust or DST by either current or new co-investors or beneficiaries.
  2. The Trustee of the Delaware Statutory Trust or DST cannot renegotiate the terms of the existing loans, nor can it borrow any new funds from any other lender or party.
  3. The Trustee cannot reinvest the proceeds from the sale of its investment real estate.
  4. The Trustee is limited to making capital expenditures with respect to the property to those for a) normal repair and maintenance, (b) minor non-structural capital improvements, and (c) those required by law.
  5. Any liquid cash held in the Delaware Statutory Trust or DST between distribution dates can only be invested in short-term debt obligations.
  6. All cash, other than necessary reserves, must be distributed to the co-investors or beneficiaries on a current basis, and
  7. The Trustee cannot enter into new leases or renegotiate the current leases.

The Springing LLC aka The Nuclear Option

These restrictions are significant. They are put in place to enable favorable consideration by the IRS and may even seem to provide protection for individual investors. However, they place significant limitations on the trustee in the event tenants default or market conditions require deviation from the management plan. In the event any of the above seven restrictions need to be violated, there is a way out. Delaware law permits conversion of the trust to an LLC. This is referred to as a “springing LLC”. This will allow for any or all the prohibited actions to be performed by the trustee without the consent of the members. This is the ultimate safeguard, but it comes with a massive price. This action will disqualify any of the tax-deferral benefits afforded by Section 1031 to the initial investors. The springing LLC clause is required in most DSTs because it gives the lender additional comfort that the trustee can perform necessary actions in the best interest of the bank even though activating this clause will have detrimental tax consequences to all 1031 investors in the fund. The alternative to having a Springing LLC clause is not pretty and typically does not provide the Trustee the tools necessary to react to even slight deviations in the anticipated investment course. This could result in a catastrophic failure of the Trust during a market correction.

For more information on 1031 strategies, please contact us.

 

Real Estate Agents and 1031s

According to the National Association of Realtors, in 2017, 60% of all real estate agents in the US participated in one or more 1031 replacement transactions. 

The history of 1031 exchanges goes back to 1921. Most people in the real estate industry have heard of them and seem to have a good working grasp of how they work, and what the requirements are. Occasionally we get calls from someone who has not heard of a 1031 exchange, or has no clue what the rules are. So now would be a good time to do a refresher on the basic rules of an exchange.

People ask, “Why should I do a 1031 exchange?” I can answer this question in two words: “Financial Leveraging.” By doing a 1031 exchange, the taxes you would have paid to the government are now working to earn you money.

A 1031 exchange allows a taxpayer to postpone their long-term capital gains tax when selling an investment property by exchanging both the basis and the gain into a new investment property. This gives an investor financial leverage. If you have a property used for investment or business and you plan on buying another property used for investment or business, then yes, you need to do a 1031 exchange.

In simple terms, a 1031 exchange moves the gain from the sale of an old investment property into the purchase of a new investment property. By moving the gain into a new property, you defer paying tax on that gain into the future.

A 1031 exchange is NOT ‘a-sale-and-a-purchase,’ but an exchange of one property for another. There must be a written exchange agreement that shows that ALL the steps, from the transfer of the old property to the receipt of the new, is part of an overall plan.

For more information, please contact us to discuss your situation.

 

 

Observations and Outlook April 2018

First quarter of 2018 turned out much differently than investors had been expecting at the turn of the New Year.  In January’s note, there were many sentiment indicators that had eclipsed their all-time highs. The highest percentage of investors expecting higher prices in twelve months was recorded.  Equity markets peaked on January 26 and fell 12%, followed by a large bounce into mid-March then subsequent decline that left us at quarter end about 4% above intraday lows from February.  We may be seeing the first stages of the end of the 9-year-old bull market.  Looking back at 2007 and 2000, the topping process can be choppy with market gyrations of +/-10%.   This is a complete 180 degree turn from the past two years where volatility was non-existent and equity markets went the longest period ever without a 5% decline.  Expect continued choppiness as the impact of Tax Reform filters through the economy and if corporations can continue the blistering pace of earnings growth going forward.  At the same time for mostly the same reasons, interest rates are likely to be range-bound.  Very recently the price of oil climbed on a news release that the Saudis would like to see $80/bbl oil.  Rising oil prices would be akin to a tax on consumers and hamper US growth.

Sentiment as seen by the AAII % bullish rolling 8-week average has declined from its euphoric high at 49% in January, down to 33%.  At the bottom of the last correction in early 2016 this average was 23%.  The current correction may be over and a lot of selling pressure has been exhausted there is room to the downside still. A reading in the mid 20% has been a good area to mark a low in the markets.  Sentiment is often a lagging indicator.  Investors are most enthusiastic after large price gains.  The opposite is true too in that sentiment numbers go low after a price decline.   It can be helpful to take a contrarian view as sentiment measures move to extremes.

aaii rolling bulls 4 2018

Blame for the downturn in January was due to a slightly hotter than expected print of Average Hourly Earnings (AHE), and the resulting concern over how quickly the Fed will raise interest rates.  The rapid change in AHE has not followed through into February and March, yet stocks remain well off their highs.  Analysts have been looking for wage pressures due to very low unemployment numbers for a long time.  The lack of wage growth is likely to the re-entrance of discouraged workers back into the labor force.  As a discouraged worker, who ‘hasn’t looked for work in the past month’, they are removed from the workforce.  When the number of unemployed decreases (the numerator) along with the total workforce (the denominator), the unemployment percentage rate goes down.  A low unemployment rate at the same time there is little wage pressure is due to the workforce participation rate being very low.  Focusing on the total number of people employed, which is still growing on a year over year basis, may give us a better read on employment situation without looking at the unemployment rate.  Any impact from Tax Reform should show up in an acceleration of year over year Total Employees growth.

total employed 4 2018

A more telling chart, and perhaps the real reason behind President Trump’s fiscal stimulus is the following chart. Using the same raw data that created the above chart, the chart below tracks the monthly, year over year percentage change in total nonfarm employees in the United States.  There are no seasonal adjustments etc.  While we are growing, the rate of increase in the total number of people working, is slowing.

% change in total employed 4 2018

Forward guidance from companies will be critical.  Expectations are still quite high regarding full year earnings and end of year price target for the S&P500, currently about 3000, 15% higher than todays price level.  During the first quarter, when earnings from Q4 2017 were reported, companies beating earnings estimates were rewarded only slightly, while companies missing earnings had their stock prices pushed down.  It seems there is still a ‘priced to perfection’ hurdle that companies must overcome.

 

The largest macroeconomic driver for the remainder of the year is the now global shift from QE (quantitative easing) to QT (quantitative tightening).   This global liquidity spigot the Central Banks have been running on full blast for the past 9 years has begun to end.  The US Federal Reserve stopped buying bonds (adding dollars to markets) and began raising rates.  These are tightening liquidity.  While in 2017 the European and Japanese central banks more than made up for the Federal Reserves actions, both have been broadcasting plans to temper their liquidity injections.  China is tightening as now in preparation for increased stimulus to coincide with the Communist Party’s 100th anniversary in power in 2021.

Over the past 9 years global liquidity additions has been the key driver to global asset prices.  As these additions slow and become subtractions, one must assume it will impact financial markets.  Most importantly global US Dollar-liquidity is the most important as the Dollar is the global reserve currency.  Recently the LIBOR-OIS has been in the news, having risen dramatically over the past few months.  This index is a rate that compares the overnight cost of interbank dollar borrowing in the US vs Europe.  The cost to borrow US Dollars in Europe has gone up dramatically.  A low cost would reflect ample Dollars for those who need them, a higher cost reflects a shortage of dollar-liquidity.  The TED Spread compares the interest rate on 90-day treasury bills and the 90-day LIBOR rate.  The TED spread is 90-day rates and the LIBOR OIS is overnight rates, and they follow each other closely.    The crux of it that they both measure the availability of funds in the money markets.  If these rates go up, it is seen as a decrease in available funds.

ted spread and us dollar 4 2018

The chart above tracks the TED spread and the US dollar.  The relationship is loose but fits well over multiple quarters.  If this relationship is correct, the US dollar should dramatically increase in value in the coming months.  An increase in the US Dollar will push the prices of non-US assets lower, make dollar denominated debt widely used in emerging markets more difficult to pay back and have further repercussions in debt markets.  A weak US Dollar is the underpin of global asset prices, and a stronger dollar, along with Quantitative tightening will be a strong headwind to asset prices in the second half of 2018.  If earnings can continue to growth strongly and more workers can be added at a strong pace, both leading to more credit growth, this headwind may be able to be offset.

In addition to international money market rates, the slowing velocity of money has been a constant impediment to economic growth.  Or, rather, the low velocity of money is indicative of an economy that continues to languish despite massive amounts of new money put into the system.  If the pace of money flowing through the economy slows, GDP can be increased by putting more money into the system.  More money moving slowly can be like a small amount of money moving quickly.   If money is removed from the system via tightening measure from central banks, and we do not see an increase in the velocity of money, GDP will decline.  The slowing of VoM has been a problem since 2000 and is likely directly related to ‘why’ the Fed keeps rates extremely low for very long periods of time.  Of course, if VoM were to return to 1960’s levels, interest rates would be substantially higher, causing a re-pricing of all assets—which is a topic for another day.

fredgraph

Adam Waszkowski, CFA

awaszkowski@namcoa.com    239.410.6555

This commentary is not intended as investment advice or an investment recommendation. Past performance is not a guarantee of future results. Price and yield are subject to daily change and as of the specified date. Information provided is solely the opinion or our investment managers at the time of writing. Nothing in the commentary should be construed as a solicitation to buy or sell securities. Information provided has been prepared from sources deemed to be reliable, but is not guaranteed by NAMCO and may not be a complete summary or statement of all available data necessary for making an investment decision.  Liquid securities, such as those held within managed portfolios, can fall in value. Naples Asset Management Company, LLC is an SEC Registered Investment Adviser. For more information, please contact us at awaszkowski@namcoa.com

DST as a 1031 Solution

A Delaware Statutory Trust (DST) is a legally recognized trust that is set up for the purpose of business, but not necessarily in the U.S. state of Delaware. It may also be referred to as an Unincorporated Business Trust or UBO.

This type of investment structure was created in Delaware in 1947, and in 2004 the IRS issued Revenue Ruling 2004-86 which permits real estate investors to perform a 1031 exchange into and out of a DST that holds title to real estate.  Today, DSTs are used for fractional 1031 exchange investments, offering investors an alternative way to benefit from management-free ownership while still potentially deferring up to 100% of the taxes that would otherwise be due from the sale of an investment property.

DST Investments are offered as replacement property for accredited investors seeking to defer their capital gains taxes through the use of a 1031 tax deferred exchange and as straight cash investments for those wishing to diversify their real estate holdings. The DST property ownership structure allows the smaller investor to own a fractional interest in large, institutional quality and professionally managed commercial property along with other investors, not as limited partners, but as individual owners within a Trust.

DST held properties are passive real estate investments that have professional asset management firms overseeing property acquisition, due diligence, loan sourcing when financing, asset management, property management when not triple net (NNN) leased, and property disposition.

Interests in the trust can be purchased, sold and otherwise transferred without affecting title.  Allowable transfers include donations to charity and transfer to heirs as specified in wills. Also Sellers of their interests in DSTs are eligible to invest the proceeds in other real estate investments via 1031 exchange.

Interests in DSTs are also available to buyers looking to satisfy 1031 exchange requirements.  As with an LLC, DSTs provide liability protection to investors in the trust.  Each DST may own one or more properties, and up to 499 investors may invest in a single DST (though most DST trustees limit the number of investors to fewer than 499).

Investors do not have voting rights over the operation of property owned by a DST.  Instead, a DST trustee (also known as an asset manager or sponsor) maintains 100% of the managerial duties of the asset(s) held by the DST.

For more information, please contact us.