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225: Ask Buck

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Buck: Welcome back to the show everyone and welcome to another episode of Ask Buck. You know I will say that one of the things that people ask me all the time is where do I start with this stuff? I had a friend of mine visiting from San Francisco and he’s a very very smart guy, one very very smart guy works for Apple et cetera. But this is not his space and we were talking a lot about some of the concepts we deal with on a regular basis here and he said well what do I read and I said to him you know you know I might start with like the Cashflow Quadrant or something like that right because that really sort of gives you some of the basic fundamentals but I can’t think of any book right now off the top of my head that really goes into the types of granular detail on okay once you get the big picture yeah you read Kiyosaki etc. Now how can I put some of these things into action? I do believe quite honestly that we have the best show when it comes to alternative investing strategies and that kind of thing anyway with that being said let’s start we’re going to do all voice questions this week and I’m doing it a little bit different usually I spend a little you know a bunch of time listening and prepared answers but I’m going to make this more conversational this time. So first question here, I’m gonna roll.

Adam: Hey Buck how’s it going? I’m a big fan of your work and the content you put out. I had a question about a comment you made on your podcast with Dante Andrade. You made a comment that you and your investment partners maybe not including Dante as it seems he might have some investments in Oklahoma had made a conscious decision not to invest in the state of Oklahoma. I’m an ER doctor living and working in California but I am from Oklahoma originally. My spouse and I have been looking into investing in single-family homes in Oklahoma given my connections to the state and the low cost of the homes located there. I know you’re very busy and understand if you have time to answer this question, but could you possibly elaborate on why you decided not to invest in Oklahoma? I’m curious because it is a red state with similar politics to the other states you mentioned you invest in including Arizona, Texas and Florida. Any response would be greatly appreciated. Thanks for all you do. Adam.

Buck: That is actually a great question and there’s a few different reasons that I’m not a big fan of Oklahoma as an investment market and part of it is just you know the fact that I have a certain kind of buy box and I have a certain kind of desire for you know certain kinds of performance. So the issue with Oklahoma in my view is that there really is no true significant demographic growth. There’s not a huge amount of growth in terms of you know different industries, there is a lot of there’s a fair amount of oil dependence but it’s not like a Dallas Fort Worth or you know Phoenix Scottsdale where you know the u-haul numbers of people moving in are like off the charts and when you have like huge population growth that is usually because of jobs and when those people need to move in that’s usually when there’s a need for housing and then ultimately that pushes up prices on rents and when rents go up that increases the prices of our assets right because we’re driving up an NOI cap rates become more compressed in those areas et cetera. Now what happened over the last couple of years was that these markets that I think that I’m describing that are very in my opinion very desirable like the Dallas Fort Worth the the Houston or you know it was Phoenix Scottsdale or even you know Atlanta some of the Florida markets the the thing is that everybody was you know everybody’s buying stuff there so the cap rates were compressing more and more and more and that forced a lot of people to go into what we would call tertiary, what I would call tertiary markets. Oklahoma city being one of them and even in Oklahoma city you’re seeing some level of cap rate compression but the difference in that market is that there really is no fundamentals to back up that compression okay so that’s why I did not want to go anywhere near oklahoma city at least from the multi-family standpoint. Now understand too that again my buy box is really something where I can add value and where we think that we can continue to increase rents and then ultimately divest because of you know we’ve driven up NOI tertiary markets are not all bad right the thing is that I would say that if you’re looking you know the area this is your space except you know and you know it’s your backyard you know it understand that oklahoma city and other tertiary markets I think you can sometimes look at them more as coupon cutters right so say for example your you know you buy a property for seventy five hundred thousand dollars which is you know and I know you can do that in some of these markets just don’t expect that property to appreciate very much right I mean it may not appreciate much at all in the next 10–15 years if you’re looking at it purely as a yield play that you’re just gonna hold on to and you know collect coupons and say you know seven eight percent per year or whatever and you’re okay with that then by all means it’s just not part of what we do and I think from the standpoint of multi-family in commercial real estate it’s in my opinion is not a very good business but you know coupon clippers in your own backyard hey there’s nothing wrong with that but I certainly wouldn’t I certainly wouldn’t go in there and create a big business plan around Oklahoma city. Hopefully that answers your question. All right let’s see next question.

Eric: Hi Buck this is Eric from San Diego long time listener and part of the Investor Club. Just want to thank you for all you do with the podcast and Investor Club bringing all the great investment opportunities to the community. So my question is with 5g still in the early development stages here in the united states have you looked into any related investment opportunities such as data centers or cell towers and if so are you aware of any syndication opportunities out there? Thanks Buck.

Buck: Thank you Eric. Here let me answer it this way. I think that you know the Investor Club with me sort of leading that Investor Club thesis and investing we start with what we know and what I know is you know this space and apartment buildings really well we’re doing really really really well in that as as you know and you know we’re doing some self storage as well, however I think that over the course of the next decade we are going to start looking at some things that are more opportunistic. I think for the last few years you know our group has, I have specifically been concerned about the fact that we are in the longest expansion of GDP in US history that some sort of you know recession was imminent and therefore decided not to do anything that I considered sort of a little bit more of a shiny object or something like that. However the data center issue that you bring up is something that smart money is looking at. I had lunch with a guy who represents a big chinese investor group and they’re buying up data centers across the country right now. So do I know of any syndications or groups and stuff like that doing that at our retail level? I do not. However that doesn’t mean that we may not get involved in this kind of thing ourselves in the next you know couple of years. One thing that I’ll say is that what you know what our group is going to start focusing on is going to be based on a Covid economy and I think a post Covid economy means some coming off of a very steep recession and knowing that we have some runway knowing that there’s going to be things that are discounted we’re not seeing any discounts in multi-family in fact we’re seeing cap rate compression right now but we we may see some discounts and things that we know are going to come back we may see technologies like towers and stuff that we know hey we can buy this now and we think that the economy is going to boom in the next 10 years. So yeah I think it’s all on the table data centers are definitely on my big list of possibilities that including I’m also potentially looking at the the you know the hotel market and I’m not talking about offshore stuff I’m just talking about basic stuff you know like local small hotels you know that you would stay in you know like the Hiltons and and things like that that are just getting crushed right now and we’ll have a show on that pretty soon but that could be another space as well. But yeah to answer your question right now I don’t know enough about it but it is something that we will look into, but thanks for your question. All right next question.

Eric: Hi Buck this is Eric from San Diego. I have an interesting question for you, a little off topic but I know you’re a sports fan so do you think the NFL could pull off a reasonably successful 2020 season if they adopt some of the NBA strategies? For example all the NBA players coaches refs and support staff are located in a basically a bubble environment down in florida right now for the season and maybe the NFL could adopt this strategy by NFL division or even conference in combination with a shortened schedule maybe that could lead to a successful season it does seem like major league baseball is struggling in comparison to the NBA so just as a fellow sports fan and retired medical professional who’s just curious of your thoughts. Thanks.

Buck: Yeah it’s funny Eric I think he these are the kinds of questions I think about a lot too as you know I’m a big sports fan. Yeah I think the challenge in my opinion that’s gonna happen with the NFL is that a lot of these guys you know unlike professional basketball and unlike professional baseball a lot of these guys have really you know they’re these guys are overweight. A lot of them have got these massive you know body mass indexes and so that’s what creates I think additional risk for them and you’re seeing that I think you know some of these guys opting out and they know they’re kind of overweight and they’re you know overweight and african-american those are you know a couple of what seems to be right now fairly significant risk factors once you get covid having some bad outcomes. I am hopeful that given their you know what they’re doing right now and you know they’re being careful that we can have a season but honestly I just I don’t know I mean the reality is if if they you know I think the problem is I think once you get one guy on a team who’s got covid and they’ve been practicing with them I don’t know what they’re gonna do with I mean they’re gonna have to like quarantine for a couple weeks. It’s going to be a big mess let’s just hope for the best and yeah I’m with you the the sports is kind of freaking me out a little bit and although I will say that I am kind of enjoying baseball again I haven’t watched baseball since the old strike back in the 90s I used to be a Minnesota Twins fan when I was in high school and in middle school. They won a couple world series. I used to love watching baseball. Stopped watching it all together but now it’s like the only thing that I’m really you know that I mean there’s hockey now I don’t really have a hockey team but the dodgers are kind of fun to watch anyway yeah thanks for the question let’s move on here.

Jyoti: So my question is you know definitely a first world problem type of question and then you know we’re really grateful for everything that we have as a dual physician household I have been is graduating radiation oncology residency next year and I’ve been in practice sub-specialized for six or seven years trying to improve on the financial side of things since we have a two-year-old now and trying to balance work and some of these investments trying to think about you know what is best is it best for us to get REP status, one of us to get REP status which would mean cutting back on work and you know I guess owning real estate forcing that appreciation increasing our net worth that way or you know doing that to some extent just enough to get REP status and then kind of putting the rest of our efforts into syndications because at that point once I have rough status or one of us has REP status we could shelter active the syndication losses would be active losses as far as I’m thinking and therefore we could shelter active income I guess that’s my biggest thing trying to figure out at what income number where does that you know like is it and I guess that also depends on the type of properties I’m able to find but I haven’t really sat down to do the math yet just because I don’t know what opportunities I’ll have available to me whenever we pick our next place to move once my husband graduates next year. Kind of a lot of moving parts also I’m thinking oh you know w2 employees don’t have any deductions maybe I should look at a 1099 position work part-time and then be able to do some of the you know purchasing of property get REP status and then also do a combination of that and syndications both as limited and general partner that was kind of my main question and then as a secondary question, any thoughts on conservation easement has anybody done it tried it does it work? I know there are some pitfalls that I’ve read about but you know all of this is in theory and just trying to look for somebody who’s done it in real life. Appreciate your time and energy into this question. Thank you so much for answering this question.

Buck: Thanks for the question. There’s a few different ones there and let me just clarify when she’s talking about REP status REP she’s talking about the real estate professional status so this is an IRS designation that basically if you have material activity in real estate of 750 hours or more per year and that you don’t do anything else more than that, that you you’re considered what’s called a real estate professional. Now the value of that is say you’re married to you say you’re a real estate professional and you have a spouse who is a high paid W-2 professional because you’re filing jointly all of these passive losses that you would get as a real estate professional that ordinarily would have to stay in the passive basket and could not be applied against W-2 income could then actually be applied. So it’s actually a huge opportunity for people who fit this category. I mean for example if you have you know if you had a hundred thousand dollars of bonus depreciation one spouse did and the other spouse was making you know 300 or 400,000 a year that K1 showing the hundred thousand dollars loss could be applied against the w-2 and decrease AGI. Without that real estate professional designation that passive loss could not be applied against the w-2 so that’s the whole concept that Jyoti is trying to get at. You will have to do the math on this because I think it depends on a lot of things but I will tell you that a number of people in our group have made a conscious decision where one spouse you know because they were involved in real estate already and they realized that maybe they were making you know one spouse was making a lot more than the other and you know the one who was making less was like well you know we actually would come out making more money on the ba at least if you think about it how much you take home at least if we could just have those deductions from the real estate activity rather than taking the you know 50 75 grand whatever the spouse is making you might end up with you know two hundred thousand dollar deduction against four hundred thousand dollar income. So those kinds of things I mean honestly it’s just about sitting down and doing the math. I don’t know that there’s a magic number or magic way to do that other than to you know figure out but generally speaking this will be advantageous if one if one spouse is making significantly more and again we’re talking about you know a few hundred thousand dollars on one side and maybe 50 000 or 75 on the other well you’re probably better off you know just really focusing on real estate and trying to get the real estate professional designation, building your net worth with real estate and ultimately taking those deductions along the way. To your question about you know you know potentially just decreasing hours, you know and being a 1099 I think being a 1099 in general over being a w-2 is going to be advantageous no matter what. I mean you you really if you have an entity that is receiving the 1099 you got to make sure you do that so you don’t end up with a bunch of self-employment taxes do an s selection you’re going to be in much better shape you’re going to be able to do a lot more stuff than you are as a w-2. Let me just back up here and let you know that I am not a CPA, I’m not a tax professional so don’t take anything I am saying as to you know tax advice I don’t want to you know have you guys come and try to sue me or anything like that but this is my understanding and I think part of what you may need to do is you may need a very good CPA because a lot of these a lot of these things ultimately coming you know your decisions on you know becoming a real estate professional whether or not you’ll use a you know a 1099 versus you know being a w-2 versus you know the conservation easement option that you brought up. All of these are highly reliant on a CPA who’s confident and feels comfortable with you doing these types of things there’s nothing illegal about what we’re talking about but not all CPAs are created equally. As to your question about conservation easements conservation easements are a hot topic. The IRS sees them as sort of you know blatant tax mitigation or tax of avoidance and we’ve talked about them before but in effect what happens is you give up you know you you buy into property, that property that instead of going into development is given gives up its rights for building on and because of that you can take the deduction typically that’s on the valuation of the property that would be there, that’s a mouthful go listen to it again. But bottom line is what it has allowed people to do in the past is you know if you had an investment of or you know say a hundred thousand dollars or something potentially take a deduction you know up to four or five times that because the valuation came out that way. I’m not going to talk about it too much right now. It’s a hot button issue. We will have more clarity on it later. I will say yes you know many people in our group have done this the the devil is in the details it really you have to use a reputable group you have to use a reputable operator there’s a this is the wild wild west and if you’re not careful you’ll do something wrong and you know it’ll end up costing you a lot of money that’s the bottom line. Conservation easements are real they’re used left and right by the affluent and if you are part of Investor Club if you’re an accredited investor you know we talk about this stuff and we’ll continue to talk about this in the next year. If you’re not accredited you’re not going to be able to participate in anything like this anyway so hopefully that’s helpful. I know I was just being a little bit circuitous about answering that but you know that’s it’s a little tricky on that one so. Okay here’s another question from Eric

Eric: Hi Buck. This is Eric in San Diego. Long time listener and part of the Investor Club. First off just like to thank you for all the great content incredible guests you have on your show as well as all the investment opportunities you bring to the Investor Club community. So my question is, it is often described that there are really only four asset classes: paper, business, real estate and commodities. So which of those would you say is the best for cash flow investing? What might be the best for growth or appreciation investing? And what might be the best for just simply wealth preservation? Thanks Buck.

Buck: Okay yeah it’s not an easy question Eric and you know a lot of it’s just because I’m biased right? I mean let’s just try to do this methodically. But if you look at what you’re talking about okay well let’s start with cash flow okay and go down the list that you talked about businesses commodities paper real estate I think that if you own a business it’s probably gonna it’s gonna probably be the highest if you have a successful business and from my personal experience that is your opportunity for the highest level of cash flow but it is highly often highly volatile and and risky other than that of course you know commodities you’re really not going to get any cash flow there. Paper is going to be dividend stocks or something like that that’s about it. So bing bing bing bing it looks like I think real estate probably is in my opinion your best opportunity for cash flow that is you know reasonably a reasonable yield but yet still pretty safe. That’s not to under undervalue businesses because I will tell you if you can be an entrepreneur and you can do some high you know cash flowing businesses, definitely a great way to go but I don’t really consider businesses as, the way I do them, I don’t really consider them investments as much as vehicles where I’m generating income to then use for investments. In other words my businesses actually fund my investments so that’s the way I look at it. As far as you know growth and appreciation again if you are somebody who can take a business from scratch and you know turn it into something of value I mean you know that you can get huge valuations but again it is one of those things where you know it’s not easy to do, it’s not really in my opinion necessarily an investment. I mean obviously for a limited partner and you can get in early on something then great but again high risk potentially high reward because again you’re dealing with valuations and business you may get lucky and invest in the next facebook the next unicorn etc but more often than not you’re going to invest in things that fail and you lose all your money. But so business for growth and appreciation I would say that commodities well gold I don’t know that I would call it a growth in appreciation if you look over the last 20 years or 30 years I mean from an inflation standpoint I don’t know that it’s really moved at all you know paper growth and appreciation again stocks and stuff like that. Sure I mean I think that you know growth and appreciation at least from a statistical standpoint you know having a portfolio of stocks has been worthwhile for that but again for me the growth and appreciation I mean if you look at where what we’re doing and you know in Investor Club we’re getting growth we’re getting appreciation it’s you know enormous amounts of of growth and appreciation we’re getting with without you know frankly as much volatility and again just having you know real assets so again real estate wins for me there again. Finally for wealth preservation I think you know I don’t think businesses necessarily in my view are wealth preservation tools. Okay gold commodities you talk about gold sure I mean I think statistically or historically we should say if you look at gold it’s probably the the greatest wealth preservation tool in the history of the world right because in the times of Christ an ounce of gold would you would buy you a nice toga you know in a pair of sandals and now an ounce of gold will buy you a pretty nice suit and a pair of shoes. So there is a there is that wealth preservation aspect for gold in particular you know I don’t know, paper I think it’s you know depends I mean yeah I think if you look historically again in the stock market over time it is going to it has grown right so but I would say if you’re talking about you know if you invested in in something now and didn’t plan on divesting for 100 years from now it might be better to be in gold if your purpose was to preserve wealth the last part of that though again for wealth preservation and I’ve made this point several times on this show before and I’ll still stand by it is that the value of gold is a real asset and ultimately hedge against inflation and you know it’s sort of the anti-dollar that’s my view and I think that’s a view of a lot of people and to me I don’t see a significant difference if you’re talking about you know holding real estate versus holding gold. I don’t see a big difference I don’t see why I would hold gold instead of real estate and in fact I don’t hold gold because real estate again is a massive hedge against inflation. If you look at what a lot of foreign groups are doing you know they just go in in Dallas and they plop down 25 30 million dollars and buy an apartment building and it’s barely cash flowing but they don’t care because they’re just looking at it as a big piece of gold that’s what they’re looking at it is so again for wealth preservation I would say real estate and for me personally real estate but but also gold but yeah I mean it’s a tough question. I think different people will give you different takes on that. All right let’s see next question.

Kevin: Hi Buck. This is Kevin calling from San Jose California. Just so near you thank you so much for your podcast I’ve only recently found it and been listening every day on my commute to work and it’s been a real like an earthquake for me a little bit about myself, I’m in my early 30s I’m a physical therapist so a more modest income than maybe most of your listeners but still love to learn from high net worth individuals like yourself and how to think about building wealth. So out of school I was given the script of try to max out my 401k contribute to a roth IRA, don’t get life insurance, six months emergency fund and savings account invest in low-cost index fund and buy a house as soon as I can which where I live is just… Anyway, I was wondering what you would suggest I do to transition into a more Wealth Formula mindset should I stop contributing to my 401k and Roth IRA and put money into whole life insurance and things like real estate crowdfunding. Do you have a six-month emergency fund or do you use your life insurance cash balance for emergencies? Any insight on these mainstream personal finance scripts would be greatly appreciated. You are really an inspiration and I don’t wish for much, just that maybe one day I can live a more financially free life. Thanks.

Buck: Well hey thanks for the question again I want to just start out by saying I don’t want to I you know won’t give you financial advice per se I can just give you some thoughts but don’t think of it as advice because again I am not a certified financial planner and apparently that if you do that you know three months or so you can give advice but I’m not going to give advice. So listen here’s here’s what I’ll tell you I think that it’s a change in mindset right. You live in you know you live in San Jose houses are very expensive et cetera et cetera et cetera. There are ways to invest outside of the traditional paradigm you know in ways that you don’t even have to be accredited, I mean let’s just take our sponsor AHP Servicing for example I mean these guys are pushing out you know 10 annualized 10 per year and did you get a monthly check and you know it’s something that you can participate in right that is an income yielding product. I do think that going back to you know my own roots as being a resident, my own thinking was very much of okay how do I start building assets? How do I create assets? I think in your situation it’s a little bit hard because you know buying real estate you know cash flowing real estate in Silicon Valley is no joke but the thing is that there’s the saying that you know live where you want to live invest where it makes sense and so you need to start looking at that there are various ways to you know begin that process even if it means you know investing in turnkey type properties etc. So I think there’s lots of opportunities for somebody who’s not you know high net worth to change their paradigm a little bit so I don’t think you’re stuck there. As far as the 401ks and all that and the iras and stuff here’s my take and again this is my opinion right. So let’s talk about you know the idea of using a 401k or an IRS. The concept is that you’re going to defer you know today’s taxes and pay them later in life right. So there’s a couple of assumptions there that I don’t like one is that when people give you these kinds of great numbers and projections of financial advisors they presume that the tax rates are not going to be higher when you retire and you assuming you’re in your you know 30s or 40s or whatever I would ask you to look at the condition that our country’s in right now I think what 23 trillion dollars now in debt you know it’s it it is a you know huge budget deficits et cetera and we’re really at a point in history in the US where we’re probably the lowest tax rate we’ve ever been at. So the question is do you think paying tax now while taxes are relatively low makes sense or do you want to wait until they’re much higher I i would personally think that if you’ve got to pay them, I would pay them now and and not think of this as a tax deferment for the future when you know when taxes are going to be a lot a lot higher in my opinion. So in that regard if you’re choosing between an IRA and a Roth IRA, I would take the Roth. Okay now that being said a roth IRS doesn’t do you any more good than a permanent life insurance policy does, you know specifically speaking about Wealth Formula Banking or you know leveraged like velocity plus you can check both of those webinars out at wealthformulabanking.com. In my opinion, again this is me and my I don’t have an IRA, I do not have a 401k, but I do have a lot of permanent life insurance products and it’s not just for my kids, it’s for me and growth and retirement but if you look at what you know Wealth Formula Banking does for you or what Velocity Plus can do for you it’s like having a roth on steroids without restrictions. So again emphasizing that I’m not giving you financial advice personally rather than contributing to these things I would be doing I would be looking at the Wealth Formula banking products. Now the exception to that is in some situations if you have an actual match from your employer well then you really have to do the math there because then it gets a little bit trickier because I think if somebody’s going to give you more money and they match you dollar per dollar which you know I’ve seen these kinds of things then I think the the idea of doing the traditional root of you know qualifying funds might make more sense the math might make more sense than that. Anyway hopefully that answers your question but good luck to you I think you know one thing that Tom Wheelwright says to me and says to people in general tom said this to me many years ago and and he says he said it to many people who have changed their situation is if you want to change your tax you got to change your facts so you know learn what the tax law is learn about the cCashflow Quadrant read you know kiyosaki’s book and if you know if you’re compelled to do so start making some changes in your life that will help you with your financial goals because you know it doesn’t not everybody needs to quit their day job. Most people shouldn’t quit their day job, but a lot of people can significantly improve you know their quality of life their financial situation just by understanding what you know the quadrant is and what the tax laws are and how you can keep more of your money or make more money. Okay let’s see.

Terry: Hi Buck. I see that the 2020 charitable contribution limit was increased to 100 percent of AGI. I’m wondering if the non-cash for example conservation easement limit has gone up with that also. Thanks.

Buck: Terry, good question. In fact I think we just talked about this in Wealth Formula network the yesterday and by the way if you’re interested Wealth Formula Network is our private group our you know it starts out with a course and then we have this bi-weekly zoom video calls and we also have a facebook group et cetera, it’s a tight group if you like this kind of stuff you’ll definitely love that group if you want to check it out go to wealthformularoadmap.com we’d love to have you there. Terry as far as your question goes again I’m not a tax professional I am not a cpa and therefore not qualified to give you an answer, however I will tell you that I asked the question of my cpa myself and unfortunately that increase in limitation for charitable giving does not apply to conservation easement. So again conservation easements are this magical tool that have been used by the wealthy. Basically the idea is you are donating the rights of building on land you know you’re giving those up in exchange for a deduction of the valuation for the potential of that land. So for example you may have have a property that you acquired for a million dollars and there’s a bunch of mining capability there’s a bunch of ore or you know precious stuff underneath the ground and you say I’m not going to drill for that stuff and I’ll never drill that and there’s a value to that and all of a sudden the value might be that land and everything included in it might actually be 5 million instead of the 1 million that you paid for it so by giving up those rights you could potentially take a deduction of you know five million dollars instead of the one million, anyway that’s the concept with conservation easement once again. It is something that the IRS hates there’s a lot of you know controversy around it we’ll be talking about it more in Investor Club there are some other things that might be you know potentially a little bit less controversial. Anyway that’s it I think for this week of questions because we’re you know we’ve got a bunch more but I think we’ll start over next week and so with that we’ll be right back