Thursday, December 21, 2006

Investment Property: The Hedge Against Inflation

Inflation is on the rise, and investment real estate is the hedge against it. At my weekly Columbus Real Estate Exchangors (CREE) meeting this morning, we noted that the federal government is reporting wholesale prices surging in November by the largest amount in more than 30 years. So what does inflation have to do with real estate? Its simple. The key is property appreciation.

Property appreciation is truly "wealth forced upon the property owner."

A property gains in value about 2-5 percent annually without the owner doing any work. (Of course, if you make improvements your appreciation can be greater). With that, owners can pull money out through a re-finance, tax free, for use in any way they see fit. Remember, when you pull money out of an investment property you own, it is a tax-free loan that you never have to pay back. Your renters (office tenants, multifamily renters, industrial tenants, etc.) pay it back for you.

So for example, if a $100,000 investment appreciates $10,000 over a couple of years, you can pull out about 75 percent of that amount, or $7,500. Pay for kids' braces, college loan, trip, down payment on another investment property . . . whatever. All this helps insulate investors from the effects of inflation.

Inflation is actually a good thing for investment property owners. Inflation forces wealth upon them. But as one of my colleagues noted at the meeting this morning, you can't exploit this "hedge" if you don't own anything.

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