“Repeat after me: Your house is not an asset.” ~Robert Kiyosaki
We’ve discussed home ownership and the home building industry in the last couple of chapters (see the Table of Contents). In this chapter, I want to visually display how complex the home building industry is by oversimplifying it. All the amounts are fictional and rounded. All the percentage rates will also be fictional and easy to calculate. We’ll ignore all the extra stuff like taxes, fees, and insurance. Let’s dive into the home building industry oversimplified.
Like nearly everything in the Financial Genome, it starts with the federal government, specifically the Federal Reserve and Treasury Department determining interest rates and how much a bank must have in reserves (or actual cash). Let’s say we have a bank with $10,000,000 dollars in cash. The federal government says banks must have 10% reserves at all times before loaning money to people. This bank has $10,000,000 which means it can loan out $90,000,000. Just like that, $90,000,000 appeared in our economy.
Now, let’s say there’s a home building company. It wants to buy land, build homes, and then sell the homes. The company has $10,000,000 in cash and applies for what’s known as a jumbo corporate loan. The bank requires a 10% down payment, so with the $10,000,000 in cash it has, the company takes out a $100,000,000 loan. The home builder gives $10,000,000 to the bank in cash as a down payment and the bank gives the home builder a $100,000,000 loan (technically, the home builder only took out a $90,000,000 loan, but this is an oversimplification). Wait, how did that happen? Didn’t we just say that the bank only had $90,000,000 to give out because it has to keep $10,000,000 in reserves? Yes, but with the home builder giving the bank $10,000,000 in cash as a deposit, the bank now has $20,000,000. It can now loan out $180,000,000 dollars. And just like that, with only $20,000,000 in cash, there’s $180,000,000 extra dollars in the economy.
So, now the home builder company has a $100,000,000 loan. The bank charges a 1.2% annual interest rate on the loan. That’s .1% a month. Remember, this is an oversimplification, which as I’m typing this, I realize I’m failing already. So, .1% interest rate on a $100,000,000 loan is $100,000 a month. Home builders usually take 1-2 years before selling their first home, so they ask for additional money from investors. Let’s say investors give the home builder $1,200,000 in cash to pay the bank for the first year of home building. In month 1, the home builder pays the bank $100,000 in cash. With only being required to maintain 10% cash reserves, the bank can take that $100,000 and loan an additional $900,000. $900,000 isn’t enough money to give to home building companies, but it is enough to loan individuals money to buy homes.
After year 1, the home builder paid $1,200,000 in cash, which allowed the bank to loan out $10,800,000 to individuals ($12,000,000 less the 10% cash reserves). In one year, an additional $190,800,000 appeared in our economy from only $21,200,000 of cash. The home builder completed its first home and is ready to sell it to you. The bank only requires a 3.5% down payment (not exactly fictional). Your new house costs $200,000, so you need $7,000 in cash. You give the bank $7,000 in cash and the bank gives you $200,000. The bank can now loan an additional $63,000 ($70,000 less $7,000 is $63,000). You give the home builder $200,000 and the house in yours. Congratulations!
The home builder’s monthly payment to the bank is only $100,000 a month and you just gave it $200,000. That $100,000 difference is the home builder’s oversimplified profit. In reality, the homebuilder determines profit by taking what it sold that individual house to you for less the cost of the individual house to build. In my oversimplified explanation, I’m actually showing what’s known as the Statement of Cash Flows.
As you can see, as long as the home building industry is operating positively, the true money maker is the bank. The more loans it gives out, the more cash it generates, which allows the banks to loan out more money. This process can keep going until something changes.
The Federal Government has complete control of the home building industry, and ultimately, its citizen’s ability to buy a house. If the reserve requirement goes up, less money can be loaned out. If interest rates go up, loans become more expensive. Additionally, if the Federal Government doesn’t properly address employment, less people will buy new homes or will default on their loans. This limits cash in the system and reduces the ability for banks to loan money.
I wanted you to have a solid, albeit oversimplified, understanding of this concept because the next chapter will be slightly controversial. Readers of Robert Kiyosaki’s “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” were shocked to hear that their home was not an asset. The American Dream of owning a home wasn’t what we thought it was.