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Across The Pond

Veteran international investor John Corey comments

I asked the editor what I should focus on for this article. The response was the USA real estate market, post-covid work trends and implications for city living. Other than currently spending more time in the USA than in the UK, my views are unlikely to be anything more than a personal bias, limited observation, and anecdotal. But when did that ever stop me from sharing my thoughts?

2023 is my 40th year as a real estate investor, so I do have a bit of perspective. When I started, a repayment mortgage loan came with a 10.75% interest rate. Before that, the oil price shocks
1 and 2, fuel shortages, and inflation in the 1980’s made the present look quite tame in comparison.

Property investing - what really matters?
The simple answer is location, location, location. Buy a building in a pleasant area where people want to live or work, and you are halfway to the success goal. Be conservative with the leverage, maintain it, so people want to live in your property, and then let time work its magic. The secret sauce is inflation - it will reduce the debt burden and inflate both the rent and asset value over the long term. Compounded inflation is why the baby boomers built up so much equity. The pound is worth less now than it was, and real estate is an excellent inflation hedge (income and asset value respond positively to inflation over the long term).

If you want time and inflation working for you, pick a good location. Tenants do not want to live in a bad area and will move the first chance they get. Keep the property occupied, and someone will pay all the running costs. Limit the use of debt, so the property is cash flow positive. Sell if you cannot cover the costs.

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