Today’s market offers investors a plethora of investment opportunities across numerous industries. While having multiple options can help improve an individual’s investment strategy, they can also cause uncertainty, raising questions about which investment suits the person’s financial objectives. To help provide direction on which investment is right for you, we will outline the basic elements of today’s most desired investments and briefly review the pros and cons of each one.
For this article, we will divide the information into two sections. First, we will look at more traditional investment options, such as investing in stocks or bonds. Next, we will review alternative investments. Although less known among today’s investors, alternative options offer potential perks that many traditional investments lack.
Traditional Investment Options
Historically, investors have relied upon a 60/40 portfolio composition to help them achieve their long-term financial dreams, such as building a nest egg for retirement, repaying a mortgage early, or paying educational expenses for their children. According to this model, an investor’s portfolio should consist of roughly 60 percent stocks and 40 percent bonds. This model historically tended to deliver investors stable growth and income to help them meet their financial goals.
Stocks, or equities, are securities that represent fractional ownership in a corporation. Investors buy stocks and rely upon the corporation’s growth to increase their wealth over time. Additionally, stocks may offer investors dividends – or payments to shareholders – for passive income. On the other hand, bonds are debt securities offered by a corporation or government entity looking to raise capital. Unlike stocks, bonds do not give investors ownership rights, but rather they represent a loan. The most significant difference between stocks and bonds is how they generate profit: stocks must appreciate in value and be sold later on the stock market, while most bonds pay fixed interest over time.
While stocks offer investors the potential for higher returns than bonds, bonds are generally considered a less risky investment. As a result, many investors turn to investment funds, such as mutual funds, exchange-traded funds, or closed-end funds, to diversify their portfolios while maintaining a 60/40 composition. These investment funds pull together capital from multiple investors, which is then invested into a portfolio of stocks and bonds. Investment funds offer investors the potential to mitigate risk through a more balanced portfolio.
A Change in the Portfolio Model
Due to ongoing volatility in the stock and bond market, rising prices for commodities, and high equity valuations, the traditional 60/40 portfolio model is no longer serving investors to the same degree it once did. As a result, many financial experts are now recommending that investors diversify their portfolios with 40 percent alternative investments to help potentially improve their financial position.
While numerous types of alternative investments exist, we will focus on alternative real estate investments due to the benefits they can possibly offer investors in today’s market.
Why real estate?
Real estate has long been one of the most sought-after opportunities for investors. As a limited commodity, real estate has historically afforded investors the potential for long-term security, great returns, passive income, tax advantages, and a hedge against inflation. However, real estate investments also come with certain disadvantages. Getting started in real estate investing typically requires an extensive amount of capital and strong financials for those who are leveraging debt. Furthermore, real estate generally requires active participation – investors are required to manage their assets to ensure optimal performance.
Therefore, alternative investments in real estate have started growing in popularity among the investment community. While they can often offer similar advantages to real estate investing, they deliver a passive opportunity, meaning they have zero management responsibility. Here are a few options for investors seeking alternative real estate investments.
Real Estate Investment Trusts
A real estate investment trust (REIT) is a company that owns and typically operates income-producing real estate or related assets. REITs incorporate all asset types, including multi-family, retail, senior living, self-storage, hospitality, student housing, office, and industrial properties, to name a few. Unlike other real estate investments, REITs generally purchase or develop real estate for a long-term hold.
Investors rely on a REIT professional’s understanding of the real estate market to diversify and stabilize their portfolios. Many REITs are publicly traded, meaning that all investors, including unaccredited investors with limited capital, can invest in them.
While publicly-traded REITs deliver many advantages associated with traditional real estate investing – such as income potential, diversification, and possible inflation protection – they also come with some distinct disadvantages. For example, REITs often experience slow growth. Because REITs must pay out at least 90 percent of their profits in dividends, new acquisitions and developments are limited. To determine the strength of an investment, potential investors should conduct due diligence – with the help of an expert – on the REIT prior to purchasing shares.
Delaware Statutory Trusts
A Delaware Statutory Trust (DST) is a legally recognized real estate investment trust where investors purchase an ownership interest, or fractional ownership, in a real estate asset or real estate portfolio. DSTs are commonly relied upon by 1031 exchange buyers since they qualify as a like-kind property per the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
In addition to providing investors passive income potential through a management-free investment, DSTs enable investors to invest in institutional quality assets to which they would not otherwise have access. These assets may be able to deliver higher returns and longer-term stability. Furthermore, the debt structures of DSTs are attractive to many investors. People who invest in DSTs have limited liability equal to their investments; however, they are able to take advantage of the often attractive financing obtained by the sponsor companies. Unfortunately, only accredited investors can invest in DSTs.
Opportunity zones (OZs), defined by the IRS, are “an economic development tool that allows people to invest in distressed areas in the United States. This incentive's purpose is to spur economic growth and job creation in low-income communities while providing tax benefits to investors.” OZs were introduced under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, and investors interested in investing in an OZ must do so through a qualified opportunity fund (QOF).
QOFs can be a superb option for investors due to their tax benefits, which depend on the length of time an investor holds a QOF investment. We have previously explained these benefits, which we refer to as OZ triple-layer tax incentives. Here’s a snapshot of the tax benefits a QOF offers an investor:
- Deferral: Those who rollover their capital gains into a QOF can defer capital gain recognition from the original investment until December 31, 2026.
- Reduction: The amount of capital gain recognized from the original investment is reduced by 10 percent after achieving a five-year holding period, as long as that five-year holding period is achieved by December 31, 2026.
- Exclusion: Long-term investors are eligible to pay no tax on the appreciation of their QOF investment upon disposition of that investment, regardless of the profit size, if the assets held in that QOF are held for at least 10 years.
While opportunity zones are considered a risky investment, given their purpose, they can potentially deliver investors higher returns when compared to other alternative real estate investment options.
An additional alternative investment option worth mentioning are interval funds. These funds are not limited to real estate but instead can be used to invest in many securities, including real estate. Similar to previously mentioned funds, interval funds pull shareholder capital together to invest in different securities. However, they offer a lower degree of liquidity. Instead of being able to trade shares daily, investors are typically limited to selling their shares at stated intervals (i.e., quarterly, semi-annually, or annually). The benefit of interval funds is the flexibility they offer the funds – they allow the fund to execute longer-term strategies, creating the potential for a more stable investment. As a result, interval funds tend to deliver higher returns and a more diversified opportunity.
Now, where do I invest my money today?
While the above information offers a snapshot into the pros and cons of various investment options, you should consider additional aspects. Rather than immediately trying to identify which option is best for you, the key takeaway here is to understand that today’s market offers an array of investment options that were previously unknown to many. Investors can diversify beyond stocks and bonds, which can possibly provide them with higher returns while seeking to mitigate risk. To develop an investment portfolio that meets your financial goals, we advise you to speak with a financial professional at Perch Wealth.
Not an offer to buy, nor a solicitation to sell securities. Information herein is provided for information purposes only and should not be relied upon to make an investment decision. All investing involves risk of loss of some, or all principal invested. Past performance is not indicative of future results. Speak to your finance and/or tax professional prior to investing.
Securities offered through Emerson Equity LLC Member: FINRA/SIPC. Only available in states where Emerson Equity LLC is registered. Emerson Equity LLC is not affiliated with any other entities identified in this communication.
1031 Risk Disclosure:
• There is no guarantee that any strategy will be successful or achieve investment objectives;
• Potential for property value loss – All real estate investments have the potential to lose value during the life of the investments;
• Change of tax status – The income stream and depreciation schedule for any investment property may affect the property owner’s income bracket and/or tax status. An unfavorable tax ruling may cancel deferral of capital gains and result in immediate tax liabilities;
• Potential for foreclosure – All financed real estate investments have potential for foreclosure;
• Illiquidity – Because 1031 exchanges are commonly offered through private placement offerings and are illiquid securities. There is no secondary market for these investments.
• Reduction or Elimination of Monthly Cash Flow Distributions – Like any investment in real estate, if a property unexpectedly loses tenants or sustains substantial damage, there is potential for suspension of cash flow distributions;
• Impact of fees/expenses – Costs associated with the transaction may impact investors’ returns and may outweigh the tax benefits