I have always been partial towards equity investment and my Father, towards real-estate investment. We keep debating on this topic.
Finally, last year we did some number crunching and I convinced him that equity was better. Let’s see which one would be a better one between Real Estate vs Equity.
Dad: We sold a house in 1998 for 6 lakhs and now it’s valued at 4 crores, so it is almost 70x. Will equity ever give you such returns?
Me: Let’s look at Sensex in 1988, it was ~400 and now it’s ~ 28,000. Suppose you had invested in Sensex, you would have got 70x. You would have also been free from the unnecessary hassle that surrounds real estate.
Dad: That could have been a coincidence as well. We bought a commercial plot in Gurgaon for 8 lakhs in 1989 and now it’s valued at 4 crores. It is almost 50x.
Me: Let’s look at Sensex in 1989, it was ~700 and now it’s ~ 28000. If you would have invested in Sensex, you would have got 40x.
Dad: See, real estate generates much higher returns than equity!
Me: That is not a fair comparison, mainly due to 2 reasons:
2. You are looking at the best property investment, whereas I am looking at Sensex, which is a generic measure.
I really liked one stock, Eicher Motors (bullet fan), do you know what amount this stock was priced at? It was ~50 in 2000 and today, its price is ~24,000 that’s ~ 500x!
Dad: Okay, But I don’t know which stock can perform as good as Eicher Motors. Whereas in real estate, I will understand the dynamics.
Me: I know, that’s why I have never recommended you to invest directly in stocks.
Instead, you should buy equity mutual funds. There are so many funds which provide you with exemplary returns.
Overall, mutual funds have provided 3-7% extra returns. I recently did a study on this, which you can check out here.
Dad: These returns look great. But what about the risk? Real estate rarely goes down, you know?
Me: That’s not true. Do you remember we checked the price of the same house that gave you 70x returns before and during the recession? It was almost down by 50%. Equity mutual fund was down ~60%, which is slightly higher.
Also, if you think about the other issues like :
Dad: Historically, this is fine. But how can you be sure the record will continue in the future as well?
Me: That comes down to the basics! Both real estate and equity are investments and their returns can be divided into two parts:
|1.||Rental Yield||Dividend Yield|
|2.||Capital Appreciation||Price Increase|
(Dividend earned on shares divided by the value of shares). For Sensex, it is around 1.5%. This is the net of all taxes.
(Rent earned on the property divided by the value of the property). In India, it is around 2-3%.
Let’s assume it to be 2.5%, after deducting income tax, property tax, maintenance, etc, it goes up to ~1.5%. Almost the same as a dividend yield.
It depends on two factors P/E (Price of share, divided by profit per share) and earning growth.
If we assume P/E to be constant, we only need to project earning growth. It is assumed that in the long run, earnings growth will affect the sum of real GDP and inflation.
(GDP + Inflation)
(increase in the price of the property) depends on rental yield and increases in rent. If we assume rental yield to be constant, we only need to understand the increase in rent.
I have mostly seen a growth of 5-10% in rent. Therefore, if you believe that rent can grow by more than 12%, real estate can perform better but it’s unlikely.
|Rental/ Dividend Yield||1.5%||1.5%|
|Price/ Capital Appreciation||8%||12%|
Dad: But, there are other benefits of buying a house.
Me: That was my point all along, investing in real estate might not be a great idea, but I completely agree that buying a house is!
I think in a country like India, we can’t depend on the country to provide us with the basic necessities. Hence, everyone wants to be secured in some way or the other, especially with respect to food, clothing, and shelter (Roti, kapda, makaan).