How Real Estate Can Beat Inflation

Former president Ronald Reagan once remarked, “Inflation is as violent as a mugger, as frightening as an armed robber and as deadly as a hit man.” While there’s a fair amount of hyperbole in that statement, the comparison of inflation to a robber is an apt one. As a market force, inflation can and will devalue your investments. Fortunately, investors have a powerful tool to restore some balance.

Understanding inflation

What exactly is inflation? The simple definition of inflation is “a general increase in prices and a fall in the purchasing power of money.” The rate of inflation is measured by the Consumer Price Index and reflects the average change over time in the prices paid by consumers for goods and services. There are three things that lead to inflation:

  • A cost push, which is an overall rise in prices
  • A demand pull, which is a surge in demand for something
  • Printing money, which happens when a government is facing a shortfall


The housing market, like all other economic sectors, is impacted by inflation. If there’s a reduction in the available inventory or an increase in demand, prices will go up, as we’ve seen. The price of a house can rise because the actual structure itself may be worth more due to rising lumber costs, but also because people see value in it as an investment.

How to Outperform Inflation

If you were to take your money and leave it in a savings account, you wouldn’t even get a one percent return. Simultaneously, the rate of inflation between August of 2020 and August of 2021 was 5.25%. Your money would actually lose its purchasing power by sitting in a savings account.

An excellent way to combat inflation is through real estate investing, especially in the rental property market. Real estate appreciated well above the general rate of inflation in the past year. While that year-over-year increase could be an anomaly, the demand for rental housing clearly is not. In a study earlier this year, mortgage-finance company Freddie Mac estimated that the national deficit of single-family homes stood at 3.8 million units at the end of 2020. While that shortfall could eventually be made up for, it’s not likely to be soon. In the meantime, a lot of would-be homeowners will remain in the rental market.

Even if you were to finance your rental property, you’d still be better off financing a rental property than putting your money into a savings account. It sounds counterintuitive, but your debt would be fixed while the rent you could charge would increase with inflation. With tenants paying off your loan, you’d be able to capture the benefits of inflation, both in the rent you could charge, and when you eventually sell your property.

While we don’t know how long we’ll be facing high inflation, investment properties will hedge against inflation for as long as you own them.


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