Using Asymmetrical Investment Strategies To Maximize Real Estate Returns

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Paul Daneshrad is CEO of StarPoint Properties, a real estate & investment firm, and author of the Amazon bestseller ‘Money and Morons’.

Asymmetrical investment strategies in the real estate market seek opportunities where the potential for gains significantly outweighs the potential for losses. Some refer to these returns as alpha.

These strategies appeal to a wide range of investors, from opportunistic venture capitalists and private equity firms to individuals. Asymmetrical investing should be one of the key objectives of all investors, in my opinion, due to the potential for lower risk and increased returns. It sounds simple, but it is not.

Achieving asymmetrical returns requires strong expertise in your industry in conjunction with a meticulous and strategic approach throughout every phase, from acquisition to sale. As Warren Buffett aptly said, “Risk comes from not knowing what you’re doing.” Therefore, the key is to know the real estate industry, thoroughly identify potential risks and devise a well-crafted plan to mitigate them.

In this article, I will discuss four asymmetrical investment strategies and share unique insights from my vast experience in real estate investing.

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Asymmetrical Investment Strategies In Real Estate

Four typical asymmetrical investment strategies are core, value-add, opportunistic and distressed. Let’s explore how these strategies operate on the asymmetry principle and offer unique risk-reward profiles.

Income-Producing Core Real Estate Investments

Income-producing real estate investments offer more stability and less risk than other asymmetrical investments. Their essence lies in their resilience and productivity of being an income-producing asset with the ability to increase value, as well.

For instance, upscale apartments in metropolitan areas such as New York and Miami exemplify this investment strategy. They’re attractive because they’re in prime locations and have a history of increasing rents and values. This typically means less risk, steady income from higher rent and a greater chance that the property’s value will increase.

Since the primary return on such asymmetrical investments comes from the constant flow of rental income and property appreciation, the potential for significant appreciation is immense.

Value-Add Real Estate Investments

Value-add real estate investing zeros in on properties with high improvement potential. In this asymmetrical investment strategy, investors buy properties for refurbishment, focusing on flipping opportunities.

Investors boost property value by modifying layouts, updating fixtures and finishes or adding extra units, aiming for substantial returns, which are generally higher than the returns one would see with a core investing strategy.

However, this strategy carries higher risks. Effective renovation planning and property management are essential. Mistakes in either area can diminish profits or lead to losses.

Opportunistic Real Estate Investments

Opportunistic investment strategies target high returns by investing in new developments or drastically transforming and repositioning existing properties. They lean heavily on capital, often beginning with land purchases or property acquisition in areas poised for growth.

Securing funding to guide the project from start to finish, covering concept, construction, leasing and property management, is vital. Any setbacks in the project life cycle can put completion at risk, leading to losses.

Unlike other asymmetrical investment strategies targeting immediate income, opportunistic investing seeks significant long-term gains by transforming properties. To do this successfully, an investor needs specialized knowledge and a visionary perspective.

Distressed Real Estate Investments

Distressed real estate investment targets properties in financial or legal difficulties, such as foreclosure or neglect, across residential, commercial and undeveloped land segments.

These properties are sold at a discount and offer the potential for substantial returns to savvy investors. However, this asymmetrical investment strategy carries risks due to legal complications, severe property issues, functional or economic obsolescence and structural flaws. Because of these risks, it requires meticulous due diligence and profound market knowledge, along with sophisticated management and execution.

After considering asymmetrical investment strategies and their potential for returns, let’s look at how emerging market trends and government actions mold investment opportunities.

Connecting Trends With Investment Opportunities

The future looks bright for asymmetrical real estate investments. For instance, the Biden Administration’s plan to create tech hubs in underserved areas could support opportunistic investments. This move could turn these places into high-growth zones, which can be good places for investing in new or existing properties.

The changing work environment means some office buildings might not be fit for reuse and might demand a complete overhaul. This situation opens up options for opportunistic investments, where transformation and repositioning can generate significant returns.

Despite the growth of online shopping, the ongoing demand for retail spaces shows the continuous value of investing in prime shopping centers and experiential and destination retail. The potential is even more significant when focusing on locations poised for job growth and benefiting from new economic forces.

The federal government’s Green Building Tax Incentives, aimed at promoting sustainable construction to lower carbon footprints, align with opportunistic investment strategies, offering a lucrative avenue for ESG-compliant investments.

These elements highlight the potential for strategic investments. Whether exploring new tech hubs, adapting properties to new uses, focusing on ESG standards or finding distressed assets, informed investors have many opportunities to succeed.

The Importance Of Risk Evaluation And A Good Partner

An investor’s most common mistake is the lack of understanding regarding risk evaluation and underwriting. Before moving forward with a deal, you need to consider how sensitive the investment is to market changes, including economic downturns and sector-specific shifts. Additionally, you should determine which legal or regulatory frameworks could affect the investment, including zoning laws, environmental regulations, etc. It’s also important to consider how easily the investment can be converted into cash without significantly impacting its market value.

Besides thorough risk assessment and strategic mastery, generating asymmetrical returns requires diligent execution. Given the expertise required, not all firms are appropriately positioned to achieve this level of success. When vetting potential investment firms to work with, make sure the firm you choose has a long and stellar track record, proprietary risk assessment models for property selection, a vast network of brokers, access to the best deals, operational excellence in property management and financial agility to seize opportunities.

The information provided here is not investment, tax, or financial advice. You should consult with a licensed professional for advice concerning your specific situation.


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