How to Value a Freehold Property

There are no yardsticks to measure the value of a freehold property. This is because evaluating a freehold is not an accurate science. However, you can follow certain guidelines on what you need to take into consideration when valuing a freehold, which is produced by the advisory services that give free advice to leaseholders. You must also take these three factors into consideration:

1. The current value of the property

2. The annual ground rent

3. The number of years currently left on the lease

Also, evaluate the expected percentage increase in property value that results from extending the leases of different lengths, along with forecasted long term interest rates and inflation rates.

Take help from an expert valuer rather than trying to work out a figure all by yourself, to present before the freeholder. An expert valuer will be able to give you the best advice, which will enable you to make a practical offer.

You will find expert valuers online. They will help you with the entire process of negotiation and buying the freehold.

For the benefit of the freehold, most surveyors add a little extra to a property’s value. This is done after comparing it with similar property with the same number of years on the lease but no freehold.

First, approach your freeholder informally, before you serve him with a first notice. This document should include your preliminary offer for the freehold, which starts off the legal process of buying it.

A word of caution. Never produce an initial notice without obtaining an expert valuation. If you make the wrong evaluation in the initial notice you won’t be able to take back the offer. After the initial notice, wait for the freeholder to reply to it with a counter notice by a date that you have given. The freeholder must be sanctioned at least two months from the date the initial notice is served.

If the freeholder is not sending his counter notice within this period, the leaseholders can take matters into their hands. They can apply for a vesting order at a court. It is now up to the court to move the freehold to the leaseholders. So freeholder’s should respond on time to the initial notice for their own benefit.

Buying a share of freehold will make little profit if you already have had a decent length lease. You would still have to give the same authorized costs as someone with a short hire, but would lead to a drop in the value of the property.

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Your Big Why and Planning the Future

A while back at an event I got the opportunity to sit across from a couple of brand new investors. As I usually do, I asked them what they were investing in; they admitted that they were newbies and weren’t really sure where to begin. We discussed their level of knowledge and expertise, and I found the conversation drifting away from real estate and more into the lifestyle design arenas. I started asking them about their “Big Why” – why were they wanting to leave their corporate jobs, what they wanted to do with their time, and what would make them happy.

We started putting a dollar value to that lifestyle and level of comfort. I saw their eyes get a bit wide as the reality of what they were up against hit them. I quickly reassured them that real estate was a great choice to attain the lifestyle they envisioned if they were willing to work hard and put in the hours, but how? We didn’t get into too much detail on the spot, but we talked about breaking those big goals down into time frames and smaller milestones. We discussed assigning how many and what type of deals could get them to those milestones, as well as what were they comfortable doing and how their personalities would help them to achieve their goal. They made notes on what types of marketing and how many offers they would have to make each month, week, and day in order to acquire the number of properties to hit their goals.

We then went back to their “Big Why” and discussed if it was really big enough. By that, I meant to talk to them about whether their choice to pursue real estate would be big enough to get them up and out of bed every day? Big enough to push them to tackle that daily task list? Big enough to hit those smaller goals knowing that as each milestone is hit that they are that much closer to the lifestyle and freedom they want? They made some more notes, and I think they had some talking points to consider as they pursue their real estate vision.

So what is your “Big Why”? Why are you a real estate investor? Is it big enough to get you out of bed each morning with a smile on your face, ready to face the day? Is it big enough to motivate you after 3 months of busting your butt without finding the right deal? This isn’t something you can come up with overnight if you haven’t spent any time on it already, so let your mind wander. Dream big! Dream really big and write it down. Look at it every day and see yourself living that lifestyle. Then break down how you will get there. Get really specific, all the way down to daily tasks. Now you’ve put goals and milestones on paper and you have created a map showing you how to get to that big dream and lifestyle you desire.

To be honest, this isn’t easy. The dreaming part of this puzzle may be easier than identifying the “Why”, especially when you analyze and determine if your “Why” is a solid vision to which you can remain dedicated. Nevertheless, I promise, if you work hard to identify the “Why”, develop your vision, and stay focused, you will be set up to achieve the vision you set for yourself.

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Should Long Term Real Estate Investors Focus On Cash Flow or Growth?

There are really two sides or two strategies to this debate. I lean one way for sure and will explain why but, I am also open about this and understand that other people have goals and strategies that differ from my own. In this article I want to briefly talk about both strategies and then give you some ideas to expand what you are trying to accomplish.

I want to define a long term investor as someone who is purchasing real estate with the strategy to hold onto it for at least 5 years but in most cases much longer. This is a great way to grow wealth and although it can be slow, it will guarantee financial freedom if the strategy is done correctly.

When we discuss lending the staple in the industry is the 30 year fixed rate loan. The advantage to this loan is that your principal and interest payment will remain constant for 30 years even though rents should increase. This loan also comes with the lowest payment in the market helping you to maximize cash flow. I put 30 year loans on my properties whenever possible. (This becomes more difficult as you get more properties which might be a topic for a different article). I like the cash flow because it gives me control and I can choose where to invest it.

The disadvantage to a 30 year loan is that it takes 30 years to pay off the house, assuming you make the minimum payment. If you are a believer in paying off your rentals then a shorter term loan might be a better strategy and will give you the discipline to actually do it. Because interest rates are important to a lot of investors it is important to know you will get a much better rate with a shorter term loan.

My personal belief is that if you are leveraged on your properties you can buy more properties and more properties create more cash flow and more growth. It is the best of both worlds. This is true only IF you are buying quality deals and have reserves and plans in place for the unexpected. As many of you know when I started investing with my wife we would leverage as much as we could and we purchased as many houses as we could. Needless to say that back fired and we lost almost everything. I share this because I want you to know that I understand that leverage creates additional risk. However, if you are purchasing properties that cash flow AFTER vacancies and maintenance there really is not much of a down side.

As you can see I am not a fan of paying off your real estate when you are in your growth strategy period. I believe this strongly for several reasons and have been quoted in major publications sharing my view. I do, however, think you should start paying them off as you get closer to retirement or when you are in a position that income becomes more important than growth. I also understand that many people have a different risk tolerance than me.

There is one thing I want to caution you about. I would not recommend purchasing property on speculation. Again, we learned this the hard way. If you purchase for cash flow, whether you choose to pay off the property or not, you won’t get hurt. If you cash flow and the house decreases in value, you keep it and enjoy the cash flow. If it goes up in value… well, you either keep it to enjoy the cash flow or you can sell it and take the cash. Don’t get caught up on any of the hype. In Denver the big thing right now is the light rail expanding North, West, and Northwest. Several new lines going in could of course increase the value of real estate, but that is speculation and if the market turns or the lines get delayed you could suffer.

In my opinion, if you are trying to grow your money quickly and are less concerned with the income, you should purchase as many properties as you can, especially those of you in Minnesota. Inventory is not as tight as other parts of the county and it is still easy to buy rentals with no down payment. To purchase as many properties as you can you need to leverage as much as you can.

I want to close by sharing one last opinion. Although I am a strong believer in leverage and being smart about it, I understand that it is not always the best way to go. In Colorado specifically, there are not many deals. Travis, Justin and I talk about this frequently. We all want more deals in Denver but cannot find them. If there are limited deals in the areas you want to buy, you need other investment vehicles to put your money. For some that is investing outside your area, which is what I am doing and for some it is paying off your loans, which I am also doing. If you want to buy more but cannot find the deals, by all means focus on paying off the loans. That is much better than leaving your money in the bank doing nothing.

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Time to Get Out of Real Estate

Talk about exquisite timing.

Even today, a decade after the fact, the leveraged buyout of Equity Office Properties Trust remains one of the largest of all time: $36 billion for nearly 600 office buildings in New York, Washington D.C. and dozens of the nation’s largest cities.

But in late 2006, some wondered if the billionaire who sold the REIT was being a little rash. After all, the real estate boom was in full swing, and the S&P 500 was primed to hit new all-time highs. “Is he cashing out too early?” asked a Bloomberg headline when the deal was announced.

We all know the answer, of course.

Billionaire Sam Zell deftly sidestepped the coming real estate carnage. Then, with prices at generational lows a few years later, Zell bought hundreds of apartment complexes at dirt-cheap prices.

And today? Well, that’s the ominous part…

Once again, Zell is selling his real estate holdings. Last fall, he unloaded a quarter of his portfolio, buildings totaling about 23,000 rental apartments, to Starwood Capital Group for more than $5 billion.

Zell next sold off apartment buildings in South Florida and Denver, with complexes in Phoenix, Boston and other metro areas expected to be sold before the year is out.

“No one has ever accused me of not being a realist,” Zell told CNBC’s talking heads recently.

Reality Bites

Few things are more real than the threat of rising interest rates. Concerned about the Fed’s late-to-the-party threats and distorted capital markets drunk on years of the zero-interest-rate policy, Zell is getting out while the getting is still good.

In the past few months, new-home sales hit their highest level in eight years. Pending home sales rose by the largest percentage gain in a decade.

Even home flipping is back in vogue again. RealtyTrac, measuring 2015 data, estimated a 75% increase in active home flippers – the highest since 2007.

Nationally, the average gross profit on a flipped home was $55,000 – the largest since 2006.

But for the realists like Zell, the widening cracks in the facade are plain to see.

For instance, apartment rent is starting to come down in New York and San Francisco – two of the hottest markets in the country. There is simply too much supply and not enough demand.

A few weeks ago, the head of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston warned about overheated speculation in the commercial real estate market. “We care about potentially inflated commercial real estate prices,” said the bank’s president, Eric Rosengren, “because they might risk a bout of financial instability.”

Translated from “Fedspeak,” Rosengren was saying: Get out now.

Even those ultra ultraluxury homes in the $100 million and up range aren’t selling. It’s a rarefied market, for sure, but The New York Times recently noted that a record 27 properties, each with a nine-figure price tag, are languishing unsold on the market. According to figures kept by Christie’s International Real Estate, 19 such homes were on the market in 2015 and 12 in 2014.

Late last year, I wrote about one of those massive palazzos here in Florida – the beachside $159 million, 60,000 square foot Le Palais Royal. It’s still for sale.

Perhaps the extra gold leaf they painted on the front security gate will help.

Beware the Peak

I can’t see Sam Zell taking up residence in Le Palais Royal. But then again, he sold his office properties in 2006 and watched the market crack wide open a year later. Now he’s unloading his real estate portfolio again, so, who knows?

If history repeats, Zell just might find his next great distressed real estate bargains in the palatial homes of the (once) superrich – dazzling jewels of the “new” gilded age now past its prime.

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Real Estate Statistics Explained

Basic Real Estate Statistics Explained

We are going to define some of the basic real estate statistics that get thrown around on a regular basis. To do that, we will use one real estate market, located in Hood County Texas. Even more granular, we will use the single-family numbers for homes in Granbury Tx, a small town of approximately 8,000 residents which has seen substantial real estate growth in the past 12 months. It is important when reviewing real estate statistics to use a group of numbers large enough for consistency, but granular enough to tell your story.

The statistics that we will be referencing are true and accurate for the year discussed but are being used to define the real estate statistic itself.

We have chosen Granbury Tx as our example because the growth of the local real estate market there make the statics stand out.

Anytime you are evaluating statistics, especially in real estate, the source of the numbers are extremely important. In most instances, the MLS (Multiple Listing Service) provides the most accurate numbers when referring to real estate. This is because they have all listings by all local real estate brokers in their database. For the sake of explanation of the data, we will be looking at the numbers for home sales in Granbury Tx, directly from the MLS. These numbers are meant to give an example of how to read the statistics themselves. Anytime you evaluate real estate numbers, its important to pay close attention to how the numbers are gathered. In this instance, we will be using ONLY single family properties in the city of Granbury.

Basic Real Estate Statistics

  • Number of Sales – This one is pretty self explanatory. It is simply the number of single family homes sold in a particular month. In January of 2015, they had 51 single family homes sold. One thing to pay attention to when looking at this statistic is are they using the Under Contract date or the day the property actually went to closing. These two dates are usually between 30 and 60 days apart, so its critical that you know which one is being referenced. In addition, many of the homes that get calculated, if you are using the “under contract” number may not actually close! In our example, we are using the number of homes that actually closed. In January of 2016 they had an increase of over 49% which brought the total to 77 from 51. Growth of that level is very seldom ever seen.
  • Sales Volume – Sales Volume is simply the total amount of dollars spent on single family housing within that month. Once again, when reviewing this statistic, its important to keep the property types consistent. If you are comparing two areas to see which one has grown more and you include vacant land in the number for one area, you must include it in the other too. As previously mentioned, our examples only include single family properties. With Number of Sales looking at the units, you would expect the Sales Volume to go up appropriately, but in this instance, it went up even more than the units (by percentage). The total Sales Volume of single family homes in Granbury in January of 2016 was $15,191,500 as opposed to the January of 2015 number of $9,281,915. That is an increase of over 63%. Because the Sales Volume went up at a larger rate than the number of units, this reflects the average home sale being much larger in 2016 than 2015.
  • Months of Inventory – This is a commonly referred to statistic when examining a real estate market. This statistic refers to at the current rate of sales, how long will it take to sell through the existing level of inventory. This reflects the supply and demand for the market. In our example, in January of 2015 the level of inventory was 9 months and in January of 2016 it had dropped to 6 months. That is a 33% drop in available inventory! This means if you are looking to buy a home in Granbury Tx, it will be a little tougher in 2016 as there is less inventory available to buy.
  • Median Days To Sell – This stat simply refers to how long it takes for single family properties to be put under contract. Don’t let the “to sell” confuse you. To accurately show the demand for active homes, you really want to track how long it takes to go “under contract”. The process of acquiring final lender approval, insurance and getting to a closing can vary on a variety of factors. In January of 2015, the Median Days to Sell was 88. That number dropped by over 30% to 61. Once again, this tells you if you are looking for homes in Granbury TX, you better get your offers in quickly as the most desirable homes are going fast!
  • Average Price – This statistic can be derived in a variety of ways. We are going to use it in its most raw form and simply be the Average Price of Homes Sold within that month. Be careful when looking at this statistic printed anywhere as how the user defines the date sold can vary. Needless to say, Average Price can be used for active homes for sale or for the homes that sold. The Average Price of ACTIVE homes for sale is generally a pretty useless number as you can list a home for any price, without any possibility of it ever selling. Many homes listed for sale are at unrealistic prices thus the Average Price of Active homes for sale can fluctuate dramatically and give little insight into the market. You will want to look at the Average Price of SOLD homes. In January of 2015, the Average Home Sale was $181,998 and it jumped to $199,888 in the same month in 2016. This is an increase of almost 10%. This is not a number that truly tells the increase in home values across the board, but simply of the homes sold in that month, what the average was.
  • Median Price – The Average Home Sales Price can be skewed by a variety of factors. All it takes is one 5 million dollar home sale to throw those numbers off. To get a better view of the overall increase in value, it can be better to look at the Median Sales Price. Median Sales Price takes the number that is perfectly in the middle. For instance, if you have 11 homes that you are using in your statistic, you would take the sales price of the 6th one. This leaves 5 homes sold higher and 5 homes sold lower. In this instance, they are pretty close as the Median Sales Price increase from January 2015 to 2016 was 9.69%. This shows that we didn’t have the Average Price skewed too much because of an extremely large or extremely small sale.

There are hundreds of ways to look at the same numbers, when referencing to real estate, so be very careful to read the fine print on exactly what numbers they are using. When making comparisons, you will want to make absolutely sure that both are referencing the same property types, dates etc. It like the old saying says… there are lies, damn lies and statistics.

In an effort to describe some of the most basic real estate statistics, we are using the market statistics from Granbury Tx as they have seen some extraordinary growth.

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Pressures That Dominate Real Estate Value

When people usually think of real estate value they think of two forces; supply and demand. Yes, this is correct; however supply and demand only fall under the one of the four main categories that drive/depress real estate value. Supply and demand fall under the economic category of influences in real estate value. The other three include; social impact, government subjection and environmental forces.

When looking at social impact, there are a few things one would want to consider determining the effect it will have on real estate value. Most of all the value would fluctuate accordingly with population characteristics. This tie into the potential for demand in the economic section of value; the more demand, the more value a property can derive. Population however should be looked at in more depth by breaking down the sample by age and gender, rate of household formation and partition, as well as analysis of the social values such as education, law and order, and lifestyle preferences. Careful consideration of these factors will help establish trends in what would be reflected in real estate values.

Next is the government subjection, accounting for a large aspect of real estate value. This includes political and legal activities on several levels of government. These government influences have the power to overwhelm natural market forces such that you would find in the economic category. Government has their hand in providing facilities and services that affect values as well as a one of the main contributors to patterns of land use (zoning, by-laws, etc). The following are some things to look out for when assessing the government subjection of a market; fire and police services, garbage collection, transportation arrangement, utilities, zoning, building codes, health codes, and fiscal policies. Also the legislation that is set forth by the governmental factor must be accounted for, this would include; rent control laws, rights to farm, rights for managing forest, rights to agricultural land, restriction on ownership, new development laws, control of hazardous and toxic materials, and laws affecting investment power, loan terms, and mortgage lending institutions. All in all this is quite the category and its understanding will provide for a great idea of where values are currently and where they are headed.

In addition to the social impact, as well as government subjection, the environmental forces also play a part in real estate values. These can be natural or man-made and are analyzed by observing several aspects. Climatic conditions (snowfall, rainfall, temperature, humidity) would be an obvious one that would affect the values of building somewhere as well as maintenance and carrying costs, as well as the quality and type of build. Topography, soil and consideration of any toxic contaminants would also be of great importance as well as natural barriers, such as rivers, mountains, lakes, etc.

Just to get out of the 4 factors of real estate value; it is important to mention that there are some overlying factors that would be part of 2 or more of the categories. Once such factor is location, this is the link of a property in time/distance to any given origin or destination of a resident/user of the property. Location could fall under for environmental and economic, if not all categories. Due to the area and property type, properties access to public transport, schools, hospitals, stores, employment, suppliers, recreational and cultural facilities, parks, and places of worship would of importance.

This would also lead us back to the economic factor of influence on real estate value. The fundamental aspects to look for here include: employment, price levels, wage levels, industrial and commercial expansion, mortgage credit availability and cost, stock of vacant property, stock of improved property, occupancy rates, construction costs and rental/price trajectories of existing properties.

And there you have it, the 4 major pillars of real estate value; social, governmental, environmental, and economic. Taking a deep look at each of these sections one would assemble the entire spectrum of current real estate values and more importantly future real estate values.

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The Best of Milton Real Estate

How special it feels to be living or moving in to a place which is the fastest growing municipality in the Golden Horseshoe. Fastest growth means more development, better opportunities and modern architecture. You will be able to find various kind of flats, apartments and houses fulfilling all of your needs.

Whether you want compact apartments and houses for your single-use or your small family, maybe you want a massive house built with wide rooms and bedrooms for your large family, or maybe you want to go for more luxurious villas.

Population

Milton is the fastest growing municipality according to the census conducted in 2006 and 2011. The census showed that Milton is experiencing approx. 71% rise in population from the year 2001 to 2006 and saw roughly a 56% surge in population from 2006 to 2011. The population of Milton, in 2014, is approximately 100,000, but as it is growing rapidly, its population in 2031 is forecasted to be approx. 220,000.

You will also have no problem communicating with the people in Milton as approximately 70% of the population are native English speakers, according to the census of 2011. The remaining 30% people can also communicate in English as their secondary language.

Residency and Growth

With population, the residential growth also saw a massive increase in Milton. This is also due to the successful completion of the project dubbed “the big pipe”, which was about making a piping structure which will deliver water from Lake Ontario to Milton.

By 2006, Milton had 7 new subdivisions, which included Hawthorne Village. Many new subdivisions from the list are developing, which means that there will be constant development – which is the secret of developed regions.

The council of Milton, in 2014, approved the making of more homes in Milton, which saw a surge of 25,000 residents. Moreover, there are vast numbers of home constructions at any given time in Milton, which is attracting more and more residents. In the numbers of residents, there is a fair amount of people coming from other areas of Ontario too.

Transportation

The town has an easy access to the highway 401 and 407 from Oakville and Hamilton. The town has its carriage railway lines for consignments. It has railway transportation service for passengers from Go transit and Via Rail.

If you take the highway 401, you are only 40 km far from the largest International airport (according to the passenger volume) Toronto Pearson. However, the town has a closer airport in the neighboring Burlington, the Burlington airport. The airport does provide passenger services but the services are not regular.

Why it is Becoming So Popular among New Residents?

1. Many people want to live in Toronto or near it. As Milton is 56 km away from Toronto, it is becoming a favorite choice of many.

2. As it is one of the developed towns out there in Ontario, people here can earn better and can improve their lifestyle.

3. As it is a town, it is getting much attraction from people who don’t like the city thing, but still want to live in an advanced but less ‘noisy’ place.

4. For retired and rich people, this place has its attraction as a suburb where they can live in peace and tranquility.

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The Next Real Estate Collapse

As daily commutes go, I have nothing to complain about when I point my car toward Sovereign HQ each morning. The traffic congestion on Interstate 95, South Florida’s main artery, is horrendous. So I take the scenic route, the coastal beach road known as A1A.

The views of the Atlantic Ocean are nice. But more recently, I enjoy the drive for a different reason. It’s a ringside seat to the extravagance of the now-deflating luxury housing bubble I warned about three months ago. Recent data point more ominously to a serious problem in this sector.

Each day, my drive on A1A takes me past what is the single most expensive new home for sale in the United States: Le Palais Royal, under construction for the last five years.

Situated on 4.4 acres of beachfront, the “spec mansion” features the Atlantic Ocean as its backyard. The front yard is a nearly 500-foot deep-water expanse of the Intracoastal Waterway – perfect for even the largest private super yacht.

The mansion’s soaring front gates, accented in 22-karat gold leaf, make it sort of hard to miss as you drive by. Just beyond the gates is a 60,000 square foot home with 11 bedrooms, 17 bathrooms, an 18-seat IMAX home theater (with its 50-foot-wide screen), and a 30-car subterranean garage. The building plans call for a second phase on the vacant beachfront lot next door. That’s where the ice-skating rink, go-cart track, bowling alley and private nightclub are supposed to go.

And it can all be yours for just $159 million.

But the tide of money fueling the purchase of luxury homes, big or small, is receding as we speak.

Luxury Homes: The Next Real Estate Collapse?

Largely ignored in the holiday rush was the news that luxury home prices fell 2.2% during the third quarter – the first such decline in nearly four years.

According to the Redfin real estate brokerage, wealthy clients are stepping back out of fear from stock market volatility, and are worrying about tying up too much of their wealth in non-liquid assets, especially if another real estate collapse appears.

The decline is even more notable because luxury homes serve as something of a bellwether for the rest of the “non-lux” real estate market (which still rose just under 4% for the same period).

The original housing-bubble stocks of a decade ago might offer a clue on the timing. Shares of Toll Brothers (NYSE: TOL), the nation’s largest builder of luxury homes, peaked in July of 2005 before starting their precipitous decline. But the stock prices of builders focused on the low- and mid-priced ends of the market stayed strong – at least at first. For instance, the shares of Lennar Brothers (NYSE: LEN), one of the biggest homebuilders in the country, didn’t crack until April of 2006.

Interestingly, Toll Brothers’ shares today are down nearly 25% from their post-recovery highs (to the lowest price in 13 months), while Lennar shares are just starting to break down.

California Dreamin’?

Chinese buyers have been key players in the run-up of America’s luxury home prices. And their influence is felt most strongly in California and the San Francisco Bay area, the hottest of America’s real estate markets this go-round.

Not coincidentally, it appears Chinese buyers may now be pulling back there as well, possibly ushering in the next real estate collapse. Home sales in California fell 20.5% in November – more than twice the monthly average (it’s traditionally a weak month prior to the end of year holidays). October’s home sales also fell a little over 5%, while dropping 1.5% in September.

For now, the real estate community appears to be dismissing the collapse of sales as the result of changes in new loan disclosure rules by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and what is usually a softer seasonal period for home sales anyway.

I don’t blame them. As a media consultant once told me back in my reporting days, “Never let too many facts get in the way of a good story.”

But the “Chinese buyers” real estate gravy train is grinding to a halt fast. Last summer’s 40% decline in the Shanghai Composite Index should have been the first clue. The second was the relentlessly positive “it’s just temporary” narrative spun by so many brokers and property developers who don’t want the ride to end. The third clue may be upon us here at the start of 2016 as the Shanghai index lurches lower yet again.

So what’s it all mean to you?

As Jeff Opdyke has warned, don’t get comfortable with the Federal Reserve’s spin on things. As Chinese buyers retreat from American real estate, it kicks out yet another leg of support for the U.S. economy.

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