Did you check the price of your home today? Did you get a text on your phone that your home appreciated 5%? Did the commentators on CNBC mention it on TV?
Zillow, and a few other real estate sites, let you check the price of your home daily. When the value rises, do you call your real estate agent to sell it? When it falls in price, do you panic?
The S&P Case/Schiller Index tracks home values across the country. The 12-month return for the 20-city index was 6.31%, the 10-year return was 2.42%. The index fell 20.5% from May 2008 to March 2012. Did you sell your home because of these price changes? I doubt it. If you’re like most real estate investors, you did nothing.
Home owners are the ultimate buy and hold investors because it’s not easy to move in and out of houses on a regular basis. On a recent trip to Los Angeles I noticed a friends’ home was for sale. He purchased it about 50 years ago for $35,000; it’s currently listed for $850,000. On a gross basis, he generated an average annual return of 6.58% – a decent return. However, if he invested $35,000 in the Investment Company of America mutual fund, he’d have $5.7 million today!
Stock investors are obsessed with daily price movements. A tick up, they get excited. A tick down, they get depressed. Stocks are expected to rise so when they fall, investors want to know what’s wrong with the market. Why is it down? Is this the beginning of a correction? Should I sell? Has the market peaked?
Did you know the S&P 500 fell 23% from August 5, 1974 to September 30, 1974? The market lost about a quarter of its value in less than two months and I bet a few investors panicked and sold their stocks. If you apply short-term thinking to long-term problems, you’ll make catastrophic mistakes. The S&P 500 has risen 4,574% since September 30, 1974.
Here are a few suggestions to keep you invested for the long haul.
- Think generationally. Focus on decades, not days. You may work for 40 years and be retired for another 35. Once you start working and contributing money to your investment accounts, it’s possible you won’t touch your money for 50, 60 or 70 years.
- Plan. A financial plan will keep you focused on your short and long-term goals. If you know where you’re going, you’re less likely to get distracted by bumps in the road.
- Buy the dip. The market does fluctuate, so take advantage of down days. Historically, the stock market has risen 73% of the time. When it does drop, use it as an opportunity to buy great companies at discounted prices.
- Disconnect. TV shows, radio programs and social media sites that report on the stock market cause angst and stir the pot. If you disconnect from TV and social media, you won’t get caught up in the hype. Real estate investors are fortunate because they don’t have to listen to commentator’s pontificate about price movements or stare at a ticker tape scrolling across the bottom of their TV set.
- Diversify. Purchase several low-cost mutual funds and hold them forever.
Most real estate investors succeed because they think long term and they don’t make thoughtless sell decisions. When they purchase a home, their intent is to own it for several years. Stock investors would be wise to follow their lead. Who cares if the market fluctuates because in the end, it usually wins.
“It fluctuates.” ~ J.P. Morgan
August 30, 2018
Bill Parrott is the President and CEO of Parrott Wealth Management firm located in Austin, Texas. Parrott Wealth Management is a fee-only, fiduciary, registered investment advisor firm. Our goal is to remove complexity, confusion, and worry from the investment and financial planning process.
Note: Investments are not guaranteed and do involve risk. Your returns may differ than those posted in this blog.
 Morningstar Office Hypothetical Tool – 7/1/1968 to 7/31/2018.