Investment Planning

Is there a loss when a municipal bond purchased at a premium matures at par value?

The Center Contributed by: Center Investment Department

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Investors often erroneously believe that they will lose money when purchasing a bond at a premium and allow it to mature at a lower par value.  In order to understand why this is not the case we should step back and explain some bond basics.

Coupon and Par Value explained

Bonds pay interest to you, the investor. A coupon is simply the amount of money that you receive at each interest payment (typically every six months). Par value, or the issuer’s price of a bond, is typically $1000. If a bond has a 5% coupon, then you receive 5% of $1000 every year; or $25 every 6 months.  The price you pay is often expressed as a percent of par value.  So if it is selling at $103 you are paying 103% of the par value, or $1,030. (1,000*1.03).

Why would you pay a premium?

When you buy a municipal bond at a premium price (or more than the $1,000 par value), you may be doing so because you are getting a higher coupon rate.  For example, let’s say the going market interest rate for a par value bond you are looking at is 3%.  If you found a bond that is paying a coupon of 4% with the same maturity you may think, “Jackpot!”  However, in order to buy this bond you are going to have to pay more than the $1,000 par value for the 3% bond. To better understand this we use the measure of yield to maturity (the rate at which the sum of all future cash flows from the bond is equal to the current price of the bond).  Ultimately, the yield to maturity should be very similar between the two bonds, you will just get more current income from the premium bond as it has a higher coupon, but you pay a higher price to get it.  Unfortunately, you don’t get to write off this “loss” when the bond matures and only pays you back the $1,000 par value.  The premium of this bond is amortized down each year and is being returned to you in the form of the higher coupon rate.  See the example below.

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Once the bond finally matures, you have amortized out all of the premium over the life of owning the bond and your cost basis would ultimately be the par value now.  Fortunately, you don’t have to worry about calculating this yourself.  IRS guidelines require your custodian to calculate and report this on your yearly 1099 Form.

The foregoing information has been obtained from sources considered to be reliable, but we do not guarantee that it is accurate or complete, it is not a statement of all available data necessary for making an investment decision, and it does not constitute a recommendation. Any opinions are those of Tim Wyman and not necessarily those of Raymond James. Bond prices and yields are subject to change based upon market conditions and availability. If bonds are sold prior to maturity, you may receive more or less than your initial investment. There is an inverse relationship between interest rate movements and fixed income prices. Generally, when interest rates rise, fixed income prices fall and when interest rates fall, fixed income prices rise. Investments mentioned may not be suitable for all investors. Investing involves risk and investors may incur a profit or a loss. Please include if clients are able to click on the link: Links are being provided for information purposes only. Raymond James is not affiliated with and does not endorse, authorize or sponsor any of the listed websites or their respective sponsors. Raymond James is not responsible for the content of any website or the collection or use of information regarding any website's users and/or members.

Volatility Isn’t Always a Bad Thing

Kali Hassinger Contributed by: Kali Hassinger, CFP®

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If you’ve been paying attention to the markets this year, you’ve certainly noticed that the days of 2017’s slow and steady positive returns have disappeared.  Instead, 2018 has been full of daily market ups and downs, which, it turns out, is actually normal! 

With the calm and comfortable markets of 2017, it’s easy to let our short term memory overshadow previous years.  2018, on the other hand, has created feelings of investor anxiety as the markets switch between red and green on a daily basis.  The word volatility alone often has a negative connotation.  However, in relation to your portfolio, volatility also includes positive returns! 

Post 2008, overall portfolio and market returns have been positive. However, as presented in the chart below, each year since then has been filled with daily market movements of 1% - both up and down!  2017 is by far the greatest outlier within the most recent 10 year average.

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Investors have to be willing to endure the occasional market rollercoaster in order to reach long-term goals.  Even though we work to minimize volatility over time, avoiding it altogether isn’t realistic.  Try to remember that we never base your plan on market returns of a single day or calendar year.  Staying disciplined and committed to your financial plan can help you filter out the noise and focus on your long-term goals. 

Kali Hassinger, CFP® is an Associate Financial Planner at Center for Financial Planning, Inc.®


The MSCI World Index is a free float-adjusted market capitalization weighted index that is designed to measure the equity market performance of developed markets. As of June 2007 the MSCI World Index consisted of the following 23 developed market country indices: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Keep in mind that individuals cannot invest directly in any index, and index performance does not include transaction costs or other fees, which will affect actual investment performance. Individual investor's results will vary. Past performance does not guarantee future results. Investing involves risk and investors may incur a profit or a loss. The foregoing information has been obtained from sources considered to be reliable, but we do not guarantee that it is accurate or complete, it is not a statement of all available data necessary for making an investment decision, and it does not constitute a recommendation. Any opinions are those of the author and not necessarily those of Raymond James.

Sustainable Investments and Your Portfolio

Laurie Renchik Contributed by: Laurie Renchik, CFP®, MBA

Planning for a sustainable retirement is one that will financially support you for a lifetime. The financial planning process is dynamic as life unfolds and is subject to new information and changing circumstances along the way. 

One of the changes I see happening today is that a growing number of retirement savers are thinking more seriously about how a sustainable investment strategy fits into their overall investment plan. 

In tandem, the sustainable investment landscape is also evolving and growing.  Once a niche market, sustainable investing is becoming mainstream moving from a limited universe of investments focused on screening objectionable exposures to a range of solutions to achieve sustainable outcomes.  In fact, US investments focused on sustainable objectives grew 135% in the four year period from 2012 through 2016.**  With this volume of growth comes opportunity.  Demographic shifts, government policies and corporate views on environmental and social risk are the primary forces driving growth and change today.

For example, sustainable investing today includes Exclusionary Screens, ESG factors and Impact Targets.  Exclusionary screens avoid exposure to companies who operate in controversial sectors such as fossil fuels, tobacco or weapons.  ESG Factors invest in companies whose practices rank highly by Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) performance standards.  Impact Targets invest in companies whose products and solutions target measurable social or environmental impact.

If your goal is to create a sustainable retirement and in tandem allocate a portion of your investments to supporting a sustainable global future we can help. 

Our top priority is to create the best plan coupled with the best investment portfolio for you.  If that means taking sustainable investment preferences into consideration we have the resources and solutions available to build on traditional portfolio analytics to understand your current exposures and relevant sustainability factors.  We can set targets to improve the sustainability of your portfolio based on your personal objectives and measure performance data over time.

Contact us today to learn more!  Sustainable investing can drive positive social or environmental impact alongside financial results, allowing investors to accomplish more with their money.  Opportunity awaits.

Laurie Renchik, CFP®, MBA is a Partner and Senior Financial Planner at Center for Financial Planning, Inc.® In addition to working with women who are in the midst of a transition (career change, receiving an inheritance, losing a life partner, divorce or remarriage), Laurie works with clients who are planning for retirement. Laurie is a member of the Leadership Oakland Alumni Association and is a frequent contributor to Money Centered.


**Year over year growth in sustainable assets in the U.S. 2012 to 2016. Source: Global Sustainable Investment Alliance. Views expressed are not necessarily those of Raymond James Financial Services and are subject to change without notice. Information contained herein was received from sources believed to be reliable, but accuracy is not guaranteed. Information provided is general in nature, and is not a complete statement of all information necessary for making an investment decision. Past performance is not indicative of future results. There is no assurance these trends will continue or that forecasts mentioned will occur.  Investing always involves risk and you may incur a profit or loss. No investment strategy can guarantee success.

2018 2nd Quarter Investment Commentary

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Helping our clients achieve their goals is truly a team effort here at The Center.  You may not have met or spoken to the investment team here at The Center, but we are an important resource leveraged to help you achieve your goals.  Watch the video below to learn more about the investment team and how we help you reach your financial planning destination!   We are always here to help so please don’t hesitate to reach out to us! 

Rebalancing

The investment team monitors and rebalances your portfolio, in addition to portfolio construction.  It is equally important to continue to monitor portfolios and their compliance with your investing preferences and objectives as it is to determine what the proper investments are.  Rebalancing is a key part of this process.  See our recent blog post on how to rebalance a portfolio to understand the reasons and mechanics behind the process.  The most important way to be successful is to get invested and stay invested.  Rebalancing your portfolio on occasion will help you stay the course for the long-term.

Market Update

The story has stayed much the same over the past quarter with trade tensions remaining center stage.  Volatility remains, while trade war talks have spilled over into action and interest rates continue to rise.  Synchronized global growth is slowing but is not yet slow; so, do not expect growth to immediately fall off the cliff from a peak to a trough. 

U.S. markets remain in consolidation mode after a strong 2017 as investors waffle between getting comfortable with the lower rate of growth while having a strong economic and earnings outlook.  The U.S. market ended the quarter on a higher note up 3.43% for the S&P 500 despite the ups and downs throughout the quarter with China and U.S. relations.  Despite being up as much as 6.6% and down as much as 4.4% throughout the year so far we are up 2.65% through the end of the second quarter for the S&P 500. 

Bond markets have continued to struggle with bonds giving back what they are earning via interest payments, and then some, as the Bloomberg Barclays US Aggregate bond index is down 1.6% year to date.  Interest rates continue to increase at a well-telegraphed pace by the Federal Reserve with two more increases expected this year. 

In contrast to the U.S. market, international markets are struggling for the year with the MSCI EAFE posting a -2.75% so far.  In stark contrast, domestic small company stocks are enjoying a nice tailwind from the corporate tax reform so far this year.  The Russell 2000 is posting a startling 7.6% return year-to-date, all of which occurred in the second quarter.

Inflation continues its slow creep back into our economy with wages slowly starting to increase.  Just as slowing growth in the economy is not yet slow, rising inflation is not high inflation.  We are still at very low levels of inflation when you look at the history of our domestic economy.  Our investment committee has decided to add an allocation to an inflation-focused real asset strategy.  We want to add exposure within the portfolios to a strategy that would have the potential to respond more favorably than the broad equity markets to rising inflation. 

Preview of exciting changes

The investment team has been working on some exciting developments for your experience.  We will soon have a “Center for Financial Planning, Inc®” app for your smartphone where you can view returns, asset allocation and even your probability of success for your financial plan.  This new portal will be available to all who are interested.  More information and training on how to set up and view information will be coming later this year so watch your inboxes!  As always, please feel free to reach out if you ever have any questions.

On behalf of everyone here at The Center,
Angela Palacios, CFP®, AIF®
Director of Investments
Financial Advisor 

Angela Palacios, CFP®, AIF® is the Director of Investments at Center for Financial Planning, Inc.® Angela specializes in Investment and Macro economic research. She is a frequent contributor The Center blog.


The information contained in this report does not purport to be a complete description of the securities, markets, or developments referred to in this material. The information has been obtained from sources considered to be reliable, but we do not guarantee that the foregoing material is accurate or complete. Any opinions are those of Angela Palacios and not necessarily those of Raymond James. Expressions of opinion are as of this date and are subject to change without notice. There is no guarantee that these statements, opinions or forecasts provided herein will prove to be correct. Investing involves risk and no strategy can ensure success. The process of rebalancing may carry tax consequences. Raymond James and its advisors do not offer tax or legal advice. You should discuss any tax or legal matters with the appropriate professional. Diversification and strategic asset allocation do not ensure a profit or protect against a loss. The S&P 500 is an unmanaged index of 500 widely held stocks. The Bloomberg Barclays US Aggregate Bond Index is a market capitalization-weighted index, meaning the securities in the index are weighted according to the market size of each bond type. Most U.S. traded investment grade bonds are represented. Municipal bonds, and Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities are excluded, due to tax treatment issues. The index includes Treasury securities, Government agency bonds, Mortgage-backed bonds, Corporate bonds, and a small amount of foreign bonds traded in U.S. The MSCI EAFE (Europe, Australia, Far East) index is an unmanaged index that is generally considered representative of the international stock market. These international securities involve additional risks such as currency fluctuations, differing financial accounting standards, and possible political and economic instability. The Russell 2000 index is an unmanaged index of small cap securities which generally involve greater risks. Inclusion of these indexes is for illustrative purposes only. Keep in mind that individuals cannot invest directly in any index, and index performance does not include transaction costs or other fees, which will affect actual investment performance. Individual investor's results will vary. Past performance does not guarantee future results. Bond prices and yields are subject to change based upon market conditions and availability. If bonds are sold prior to maturity, you may receive more or less than your initial investment. Holding bonds to term allows redemption at par value. There is an inverse relationship between interest rate movements and bond prices. Generally, when interest rates rise, bond prices fall and when interest rates fall, bond prices generally rise.

Under the Hood: Investment Allocation for 529 Savings Plans

Contributed by: Matthew E. Chope, CFP® Matt Chope

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As many parents and grandparents know, 529 plans can be a wonderful strategy for families to help build college tuition savings for their children.  Not only do the plans benefit students, but they also carry advantages for the account creators or donors. The student can potentially enjoy tax-deferred growth with federally tax-free distributions if used for qualified educational expenses. Advantages to the donor include complete control of the account, high contribution limits, and no age restrictions or income limitations to inhibit investing.  It’s no surprise that 529 savings plans have become popular savings vehicles.

Have you ever wondered how 529 college savings plans are invested to meet time-sensitive tuition expenses? 

Age-based investment funds make this challenge easily manageable.  The graph below shows the glide path of equity allocations for 529 savings plans at various ages of the beneficiary from 2010 to 2013.

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  • Generally, 80% of the portfolio is invested in equities at age 0 and reduces to 10% by the time the beneficiary is enrolled in college. 
  • Since 2010, plan investment managers have become more conservative in the beginning (age 0) and end (age 19) stages of plans.
  • Investment managers have become 6-7% more equity aggressive during ages 5-15 to meet tuition goals. 

To meet tuition needs within 18 years, the graph reveals that investment managers are becoming more aggressive during the middle of a student’s investment time horizon, but they are also growing more cautious about preserving money closer to the end of the student’s investment time frame.  Interestingly, the graph also reveals that investment managers still rely on bonds as one of the safest places to preserve money (90% of the portfolio by age 19), despite the negative reputation bonds have received in our current rising rate environment. 

The glide path is designed to allow for an outcome with minimal surprises to all investors, no matter the economic environment when it’s time for college.  Some cycles will end on a poor note with markets crashing, while in other times markets will be soaring as students begin to tap the funds.  Ultimately, the guide path is designed to gradually reduce investors’ risk and exposure to market disruptions in the final years of saving, when investors are closest to needing the money they’ve worked so hard to save.  

Investors should carefully consider the investment objectives, risks, charges and expenses associated with 529 plans before investing. This and other information about 529 plans is available in the issuer's official statement and should be read carefully before investing. Investors should consult a tax advisor about any state tax consequences of an investment in a 529 plan.

As with other investments, there are generally fees and expenses associated with participation in a 529 plan. There is also a risk that these plans may lose money or not perform well enough to cover college costs as anticipated. Most states offer their own 529 programs, which may provide advantages and benefits exclusively for their residents. The tax implications can vary significantly from state to state.

Matthew E. Chope, CFP ® is a Partner and Financial Planner at Center for Financial Planning, Inc.® Matt has been quoted in various investment professional newspapers and magazines. He is active in the community and his profession and helps local corporations and nonprofits in the areas of strategic planning and money and business management decisions.


The foregoing information has been obtained from sources considered to be reliable, but we do not guarantee that it is accurate or complete, it is not a statement of all available data necessary for making an investment decision, and it does not constitute a recommendation. Any opinions are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Raymond James.

How to Rebalance a Portfolio

Contributed by: Center Investment Department The Center

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An investment strategy that uses asset allocation must rebalance, or realign the weightings of the portfolio assets; the question is not if, but how.  Rebalancing is a type of active portfolio management strategy we employ either to potentially enhance returns, control risk, or both.  There are several ways to rebalance a portfolio: on a calendar basis, using cash flows, and opportunistically.  We utilize a combination of Cash Flow and Opportunistic rebalancing.

Calendar Rebalancing

Calendar rebalancing is done by choosing a specific date (usually arbitrarily such as on a quarterly, semiannual or annual basis) to rebalance portfolios. Studies have shown that there is not much performance differential between the different frequencies of rebalancing.  By utilizing a set calendar date to rebalance, often the best buy-low/sell-high opportunities are missed. 

Cash Flow Rebalancing

In contrast, cash flow rebalancing is prompted when cash is moving into or out of the accounts.  For example, if a cash distribution is needed, the asset category or categories that are the most overweight will be sold to raise cash.  Within the overweight asset category, we will sell the security with the lowest preference first to generate the needed cash.  If cash is flowing into the account, we will purchase the asset category or categories that are the most underweight.  Within the underweight category, we will purchase the security with the highest preference first. Security “preference” is determined opportunistically within our investment committee.

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Opportunistic Rebalancing

When an asset allocation is determined after the financial planning and risk assessment, a set of drift ranges are also assigned.  The highest level strategic allocation (i.e., stocks to bonds) is allowed to drift a total of 10% either direction from the overall target.  On a more granular level, each asset category is allowed to drift 20% in either direction.  For example, if the US Large Cap allocation is at 25% of the portfolio, it could drift to as low as 20% or as high as 30% of the portfolio before rebalancing would occur.  The idea behind this is to help your winners continue to grow before you are flagged to rebalance and “sell high”/”buy low”. This can also be referred to as range or threshold rebalancing.  Range rebalancing occurs when at least one asset category is outside of the range bands.  At this point, the out of tolerance band is brought back to target. 

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Rebalancing is an important tool for long-term investors to stay on course.  A Financial Planner can help you employ these more sophisticated strategies outlined above!

Daryanani, Gobind CFP®, Ph.D.”Opportunistic Rebalancing: A New Paradigm for Wealth Managers.” 2008.   Journal of Financial Planning.


Rebalancing a non-retirement account could be a taxable event that may increase your tax liability.  Illustrations have been provided for educational purposes only and are not intended as investment advice.  Investing involves risk, investors may incur a profit or loss regardless of the strategy or strategies employed.

The information contained in this blog does not purport to be a complete description of the securities, markets, or developments referred to in this material. The information has been obtained from sources considered to be reliable, but we do not guarantee that the foregoing material is accurate or complete. Any opinions are those of the professional of the Investment Department at The Center and not necessarily those of Raymond James. Every investor's situation is unique and you should consider your investment goals, risk tolerance and time horizon before making any investment. Prior to making an investment decision, please consult with your financial advisor about your individual situation. Future investment performance cannot be guaranteed, investment yields will fluctuate with market conditions.

What are Time-Weighted and Dollar-Weighted Returns?

Contributed by: Center Investment Department The Center

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Monitoring investment performance is pretty important.  It can help identify positive or negative investment decisions and help determine whether your investment goals are on track.  For many investors, reading investment performance statements can be very confusing.  Your rate of return on one statement may look different from another.  The truth is that those differences can largely be attributed to the way the rate of return is calculated.  There are two basic performance calculation methods: the time-weighted rate of return (TWRR) and dollar-weighted rate of return (DWRR).

Key Differences

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Each method is designed to measure different scenarios.  The time-weighted rate of return calculation method (top of diagram) was originally developed so fund managers could measure the performance of their portfolios independent of an investor’s actions.  It isolates the manager’s specific performance from investor timing of contributions and withdrawals. TWRR depends only on the length of time money has been in the portfolio and not on the size of the investment – hence the term “time-weighted.”  Performance is broken down into smaller pieces when cash flows occur and then linked together so the cash flow itself doesn’t have an impact on the return calculated. This way if an investor were to make a large deposit halfway through the year, the performance of the second half of the year doesn’t hold more weight than the first half. The opposite would be true for withdrawals.

In contrast, the dollar-weighted rate of return calculation method (also referred to as money-weighted return) measures the size and timing of cash flows, in addition to the investment performance of the funds chosen by the investor. Periods in which more money is invested contribute more heavily to the overall return – hence the term “dollar-weighted.”  Investors are rewarded more for larger investments made during periods of greater price appreciation or penalized less for negative returns that occur when a lower amount of money is invested.  The internal rate of return is synonymous with the dollar-weighted rate of return, but the term is typically used in corporate finance to predict the rate of growth a project is expected to generate.  It is the rate of return that equates the present value of costs and benefits of an investment.  You often see internal rate of return calculations used for private equity investments or when determining the viability of investing in a project.

Which Method Should You Monitor?

Dollar-weighted returns can be thought of as investor-centric because they do not isolate the portfolio’s underlying performance from an investor’s luck and timing. This is what is shown on Raymond James statements because it is a more helpful representation of what the investor actually experienced during the time period.

The information contained in this blog does not purport to be a complete description of the securities, markets, or developments referred to in this material. The information has been obtained from sources considered to be reliable, but we do not guarantee that the foregoing material is accurate or complete. Any information is not a complete summary or statement of all available data necessary for making an investment decision and does not constitute a recommendation. Any opinions are those of professionals of the Investment Department at The Center For Financial Planning, Inc. and not necessarily those of Raymond James. There is no guarantee that these statements, opinions or forecasts provided herein will prove to be correct. Investing involves risk and you may incur a profit or loss regardless of strategy selected. Future investment performance cannot be guaranteed, investment yields will fluctuate with market conditions. Every investor's situation is unique and you should consider your investment goals, risk tolerance and time horizon before making any investment. Prior to making an investment decision, please consult with your financial advisor about your individual situation.

Charitable Giving Reminder Due to New Tax Law

Contributed by: Timothy Wyman, CFP®, JD Tim Wyman

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Are you making charitable contributions in 2018? 

There are three parties to every charitable gift; the charity, you, and the tax man. Due to the increased standard deduction, many folks will NOT receive an income tax benefit when making direct contributions to charities.  For those over the age of 70.5, consideration should be given to making charitable contributions via your IRA. For those under the age of 70.5 you should consider “bunching” your contributions into one year; a donor-advised fund can be quite useful. 

If we have not had an opportunity to discuss either of these strategies, and you expect to make charitable contributions, please feel free to contact our team to discuss your options in making tax-efficient charitable contributions.   

Here are two links to articles outlining the QCD strategy. 

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Timothy Wyman, CFP®, JD is the Managing Partner and Financial Planner at Center for Financial Planning, Inc.® and is a contributor to national media and publications such as Forbes and The Wall Street Journal and has appeared on Good Morning America Weekend Edition and WDIV Channel 4. A leader in his profession, Tim served on the National Board of Directors for the 28,000 member Financial Planning Association™ (FPA®), mentored many CFP® practitioners and is a frequent speaker to organizations and businesses on various financial planning topics.


The information contained in this blog does not purport to be a complete description of the securities, markets, or developments referred to in this material. The information has been obtained from sources considered to be reliable, but we do not guarantee that the foregoing material is accurate or complete. Any opinions are those of Timothy Wyman, CFP©, JD and not necessarily those of Raymond James. There is no guarantee that these statements, opinions or forecasts provided herein will prove to be correct. This material is being provided for information purposes only. Any information is not a complete summary or statement of all available data necessary for making an investment decision and does not constitute a recommendation. Every investor's situation is unique and you should consider your investment goals, risk tolerance and time horizon before making any investment. Prior to making an investment decision, please consult with your financial advisor about your individual situation. You should discuss any tax or legal matters with the appropriate professional.

Choosing a Down Payment Option on a House: Beyond the Numbers

Contributed by: Robert Ingram Robert Ingram

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Whether you’re buying your first home, looking to downsize or are considering that ultimate dream house, you’re probably facing a couple of common questions. How much should I put down on the purchase?  How much should I finance through a mortgage?  A 20% down payment is typically recommended as a good starting point because amounts less than 20% will likely subject you to private mortgage insurance (PMI) in most conventional loan programs, which increases your mortgage payment.  However, as financial planners we’re often asked if it makes more sense to put down larger amounts and carry smaller mortgages, or to keep those extra funds and invest them.

Making a larger down payment

There are several benefits to increasing the amount you put down on your home purchase.  Having a smaller mortgage balance that you repay over time lowers your monthly payment.  This can provide more flexibility in and control over your monthly budget with smaller portions being committed to servicing debt. 

The smaller mortgage also means you will pay less interest on your loan.  For example, if you put an additional $25,000 down on your home purchase, you are borrowing $25,000 less and you save interest that you would be paying had you borrowed it.  This interest cost savings is like a return on the $25,000 that you are not borrowing.

There are, however, some important considerations when taking more of your assets and putting them towards the home purchase.

  • Those resources are no longer as accessible for your other needs or financial goals.  Is your cash reserve still intact in case of unexpected emergencies?  Would you still be on track to retire or to fund that college plan?  
  • Changes to your financial circumstances or in the economic environment could make it difficult to access the equity in your home through future borrowing.  Unfortunately, we saw this all too often during the financial crisis in 2008-2009 when many banks and lending institutions cut home equity lines of credit and drastically tightened their lending standards.
  • Having to fall back on other assets such as your qualified retirement plans or IRA accounts could result in additional taxes and/or early withdrawal penalties depending on your age and other circumstances.  Not only could this negate some of the cost savings from making the larger down payment, but it may also derail your retirement.

Smaller down payment and investing the difference

Choosing to make a smaller down payment and investing the additional dollars rather than adding them to the down payment can make sense financially if a key assumption holds true. This assumption is that your investment’s returns outperform the interest cost of your mortgage.  Consider a bank that pays depositors an interest rate (its borrowing cost) and then lends those funds to borrowers for a charged interest rate (its investment return).  If the bank pays 2% interest to depositors and earns 5% interest on the money it lends, its potential earnings exceed its costs, a profitable financial move.

A risk to this strategy of investing the additional funds in lieu of a larger down payment, however, is that earning the required investment return is not guaranteed.

When thinking about making the investment decision, there are some important points to consider.

  • What kind of investor are you?
    Investors should have the appropriate risk tolerance and willingness to invest in a portfolio of different asset categories that may provide the opportunity to earn their required rate of return long-term.  For very conservative investors it may be more difficult for their portfolios to outperform the mortgage interest costs. (It may be especially difficult if the mortgage interest rates are higher than historical averages)
     
  • Following your investment strategy also takes discipline over the long-term.
    It can be challenging to avoid some of the emotional buying and selling decisions that in hindsight can lead to under-performance, and to keep your investments invested.
     
  • How do you handle debt?
    If the mortgage without the larger down payment is not a burden to your cash flow and you have been successful in limiting other forms of consumer debt, this strategy may fit. If you are prone to getting overextended or have a large part of your budget allocated to paying off debt, reducing your potential mortgage debt may be the appropriate option.

As you can see, many factors can play into the down payment decision depending on your own unique circumstances and values.  As always, consult your planner when considering these financial moves.  We are here to look at the big picture to help you make confident decisions.

Robert Ingram is a Financial Planner at Center for Financial Planning, Inc.®


Any opinions are those of Bob Ingram and not necessarily those of Raymond James or RJFS. Information contained herein was received from sources believed to be reliable, but accuracy is not guaranteed. Information provided is general in nature, and is not a complete statement of all information necessary for making an investment decision, and is not a recommendation or a solicitation to buy or sell any security. Asset allocation and diversification do not ensure a profit or protect against a loss. Past performance is not indicative of future results. Investing always involves risk and you may incur a profit or loss. No investment strategy can guarantee success. Raymond James Financial Services does not provide advice on tax, legal or mortgage issues. These matters should be discussed with an appropriate professional.

Trade War or Negotiation Tactic?

Contributed by: Center Investment Department The Center

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In March, President Trump announced tariffs for the steel and aluminum industry (25% tariff on steel and 10% tariff on aluminum) outside of the approval from his advisors.  He stated these tariffs are to protect industries in the U.S. and protect national security. Trump’s campaign focused a lot on trade with China and Mexico. This announcement lead to the departure of Gary Cohn who held the top economic advisor position to the President.  Since then, potential exemptions or grace periods for some countries were created softening his initial threat.  These exemptions are designed primarily for Canada and Mexico with whom; by the way, we are in the middle of re-negotiating NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement).  This exemption is contingent on a NAFTA deal.  This type of threat is exactly the type of shock and awe we have gotten used to from the President as a bargaining chip.  While the stock market initially had a strong negative reaction as this news came out, it has since recovered.  The market also took in stride the news of Gary Cohn departing and threats from other countries to retaliate with their own tariffs.

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Following is some insight from our team into what tariffs are and why we need to pay attention to a potential trade war and how it may affect portfolios.

What are tariffs?

Let’s start from the top – a tariff is a tax placed on imports from another country. The idea is to make goods from other countries more expensive to encourage consumers to purchase domestic goods.

Who wins and who loses?

Winners:

  • + Domestic industries whose competition has been limited
  • + Workers in those domestic industries
  • + The government which collects the revenue from the tariff

Losers:

  • - Foreign exporters whose goods are less attractive to the domestic country
  • - Domestic consumers who see prices rise
  • - Secondary industries who rely on the imported product (in the case of steel think automobiles, heavy duty equipment, etc.)

On what products/countries does the U.S. currently impose tariffs?

The U.S has tariffs in place on thousands of products including animals, food, other commodities, but most tariff revenue in the U.S. comes from apparel and cars (https://www.cnbc.com/2016/12/07/trump-tariffs-countries-and-products-that-pay-the-highest-us-tariffs.html). The countries that pay the most to the U.S. from tariffs are China, Vietnam, and Japan. Canada and Mexico import more than every other country besides China, but do not come close to duties paid compared to the other countries because of current agreements through NAFTA.

China is currently the world’s largest producer of steel, but according to the International Trade Administration (https://www.trade.gov/steel/countries/pdfs/imports-us.pdf), less than 2% of the U.S.’s steel came from China. Mexico and Canada are large exporters of steel to the U.S., but are currently exempt from the tariff, for now, while NAFTA negotiations are underway.

The impact on markets and portfolios

Steel and aluminum market capitalization is less than $50 Billion (or about 1/10 the market cap of Facebook Inc.), so direct implications on stock prices may not be the cause of much worry. The fear comes from the uncertainty of a global trade war. Countries can retaliate and place tariffs of their own on products imported from the U.S., which could disrupt any number of markets.

So what is going to happen? Whenever you restrict the flow of goods and services, you risk causing inflation and a deterioration in global trade. Low and rising inflation is usually good for stock markets, and we are starting from a place of low inflation.  Initially, there could be some market jitters as inflation creeps back up.as we witnessed in early February but those should abate as investors realize that inflation is still quite low.  The deterioration in global trade is what could have a more significant impact on stock and bond markets.  The question of whether or not this is just a bargaining chip for President Trump remains to be seen.  If this is the case, it will likely not be pushed to the point where it starts to meaningfully affect global trade. The last time the U.S. took a similar step to impose tariffs on steel was back in 2002 and retaliatory actions from other countries caused President Bush to halt the practice after only 19 months.  In an economy that has a strong fundamental footing, as the U.S. does now, higher inflation and even interest rates should not be too punitive for stocks.  We recommend maintaining a well diversified portfolio in this environment.  If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out!


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