With interest rates rising and economic uncertainty ahead, many investors are looking for ways to protect and grow their money. Two popular assets that often come to mind are real estate and gold bars. Among gold bars, it could be helpful to be aware of the most popular gold bars on the market. But which one makes the better investment? Keep reading as we dive into the pros, cons, and key factors to consider.
Investing in real estate or gold bars allows you to diversify your holdings beyond stocks and bonds. Over the past 10 years, real estate prices have increased over 50% nationwide. In the same period, gold prices have risen over 25%. While past performance doesn’t guarantee future returns, real estate and gold have historically offered investors inflation-beating appreciation during times of economic instability.
The Stability of Real Estate
Real estate is often viewed as a stable, long-term investment. Here are some benefits real estate offers:
- Appreciation potential – Values tend to increase over time.
- Steady rental income – Tenant rent payments can offset costs.
- Leverage – You can often finance a large property with a small down payment.
- Tax advantages – Such as depreciation and 1031 exchanges.
- Hedge against inflation – Home values tend to rise with inflation.
Real estate also gives you an asset you can live in or one that produces income. However, it can be challenging to find good properties or tenants. Maintenance and property taxes also eat into profits.
The Portability of Gold
Here are some potential benefits of owning gold bars:
- Tangible asset – You possess a physical precious metal.
- Inflation hedge – Gold has historically held its value against inflation.
- Portability – Gold bars are easier to store and transport than real estate.
- Strong global demand – Gold tends to hold universal value and liquidity.
- Diversification – Gold prices often move independently from stocks and real estate.
However, gold doesn’t produce income like a rental property can. Its value also fluctuates and may underperform other assets for long stretches. Storing and insuring large amounts of gold has costs too.
Key Factors Impacting Returns
When weighing real estate against gold bars, keep these key factors in mind:
- Location – Where you buy real estate is critical. Properties in growing areas see the most appreciation.
- Leverage – Using Other People’s Money (OPM) allows you to magnify returns through rental income and appreciation on a larger asset.
- Physical form – Bars allow easy storage while coins carry higher premiums. Larger gold bars can also be hard to sell quickly.
- Demand drivers – Low interest rates and instability often drive investment demand for gold.
How these assets are taxed also influences net returns:
- Real estate income and gains are usually taxed at the lower capital gains rate.
- Depreciation deductions used to shelter rental income can defer taxes.
- Gold is taxed as a collectible at a higher 28% rate if held for over a year.
So real estate tends to get better long-term capital gains treatment. The tax benefits for real estate investors are significant.
Volatility and Risks
Gold and real estate have different risk profiles:
- Gold prices can have wild short-term swings. But long-term returns are more stable.
- Bad tenants, maintenance costs, vacancies, lack of cash flow create real estate volatility.
- Both are illiquid assets that can take time to convert to cash.
- Leverage amplifies risks for real estate investors.
So while real estate prices tend to move gradually, the risks of ownership can unsettle investors. Gold’s fluctuations passively affect holders, so the risk feels more remote.
Most Popular Gold Bars
The most popular gold bars among individual investors include:
- 1 oz gold bars – Easily traded and stored.
- 10 oz gold bars – Offer lower premiums per ounce.
- 1 gram gold bars – Allow acquiring gold in small increments.
Reputable mints like PAMP Suisse and Credit Suisse offer popular branded bars investors can resell easily.
Is One Better Than the Other?
There is no definitively superior option between real estate and gold bars. The best investment depends on your goals and risk tolerance.
Real estate provides opportunities to add value through upgrades and management. But it requires hands-on effort. Gold offers easier ownership but its price is purely speculative.
For most investors, a balanced approach combining both real estate and gold holdings is prudent. This allows you to diversify your portfolio while harnessing the strengths of each asset.
Real estate and gold each offer unique benefits and risks for investors. While past performance doesn’t guarantee future results, they have historically delivered solid long-term returns. Combining both assets allows investors to balance portability and cash flow. Carefully weigh the pros and cons against your investment goals before deciding which is better for your portfolio.