What Maslow and eCommerce Mean to Your Investment Strategy

Question:  Now that you are such a large company, why do you still focus your investment dollars on single-family residential properties?  Don’t you want to get into the commercial realm? 

That question, or a variation thereof, is asked of us nearly every day.  To us, the answer has always seemed obvious…regardless of the economy; people ALWAYS need a place to live.  Very recently articles published by the Wall Street Journal and Morgan Stanley have helped strengthen that position.

Commercial properties have a tremendous amount of appeal.  The thought of driving by an office building or a strip center and calling it ‘yours’ is attractive, and it’s certainly easier to show off a commercial property than it is 100 single family homes.  As the Wall Street Journal points out though, the future for commercial properties is weak at best.  The success of a commercial investment rides with the success of the overall economy and the good fortunes and business success of your tenants.  The simple movement of our society towards eCommerce, the ability to buy goods from home without having to actually visit businesses, calls into question how important an actual storefront will be in the future.  When your investment is dependent upon the success of a business, and yet that business’ success isn’t dependent on your property you find yourself in a precarious investment scenario.

Our philosophy on investing is quite simple – for any Real Estate investment to work, the rent must be paid.  The best way to ensure that the rent is paid is to tenant the property with the highest quality tenant…a tenant that not only wants to be in the property, but needs to be in the property.  Maslow wrote long ago that one of our top needs as humans is shelter.  From caves to Country Club Hills, people have always sought out adequate places to call home.  And as Morgan Stanley points out, more and more people are choosing to rent that home.

With a growing tenant base, the clear need for housing, a society moving towards rentership, and a populous moving away from buying goods in stores, we feel good not only about our current portfolio position and but also that of our growth strategy.  Do you?

– Eric Workman

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