What You Should Know About Investing In Commodities
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    HOUSE MEDIAN ASKING PRICES AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney $1,516,817 (-0.06%)       Melbourne $971,359 (-1.00%)       Brisbane $819,969 (+2.77%)       Adelaide $731,547 (+1.72%)       Perth $621,459 (+0.34%)       Hobart $751,359 (-0.46%)       Darwin $633,554 (-4.02%)       Canberra $1,005,229 (+2.77%)       National $966,406 (+0.40%)                UNIT MEDIAN ASKING PRICES AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney $700,089 (-0.30%)       Melbourne $470,277 (-0.26%)       Brisbane $404,718 (+2.58%)       Adelaide $332,602 (+1.44%)       Perth $348,181 (-0.09%)       Hobart $551,005 (+2.68%)       Darwin $355,689 (-3.55%)       Canberra $477,440 (+4.12%)       National $484,891 (+0.89%)                HOUSES FOR SALE AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney 8,451 (-507)       Melbourne 12,654 (-279)       Brisbane 9,158 (+847)       Adelaide 2,765 (-40)       Perth 9,974 (+39)       Hobart 595 (+36)       Darwin 247 (-1)       Canberra 666 (-49)       National 44,510 (+46)                UNITS FOR SALE AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney 8,895 (+164)       Melbourne 8,149 (-24)       Brisbane 2,260 (+33)       Adelaide 649 (+5)       Perth 2,489 (-21)       Hobart 101 (-3)           Canberra 430 (+13)       National 23,351 (+167)                HOUSE MEDIAN ASKING RENTS AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney $630 $0       Melbourne $470 $0       Brisbane $460 ($0)       Adelaide $495 (+$5)       Perth $500 ($0)       Hobart $550 $0       Darwin $600 ($0)       Canberra $700 ($0)       National $562 (+$)                UNIT MEDIAN ASKING RENTS AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney $540 (+$10)       Melbourne $410 (+$2)       Brisbane $460 (+$10)       Adelaide $380 $0       Perth $440 (-$10)       Hobart $450 $0       Darwin $500 ($0)       Canberra $550 $0       National $473 (+$2)                HOUSES FOR RENT AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney 5,470 (-50)       Melbourne 7,404 (-70)       Brisbane 1,986 (-122)       Adelaide 875 (-29)       Perth 1,838 (-38)       Hobart 254 (+18)       Darwin 70 (-3)       Canberra 388 (+17)       National 18,285 (-277)                UNITS FOR RENT AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney 10,652 (+58)       Melbourne 9,001 (-180)       Brisbane 1,567Brisbane 1,679 (-62)       Adelaide 403 (+4)       Perth 1,050 (-21)       Hobart 87 (+1)       Darwin 131 (-10)       Canberra 453 (+43)       National 23,344 (-167)                HOUSE ANNUAL GROSS YIELDS AND TREND       Sydney 2.16% (↑)      Melbourne 2.52% (↑)        Brisbane 2.92% (↓)       Adelaide 3.52% (↓)       Perth 4.18% (↓)     Hobart 3.81% (↑)      Darwin 4.92% (↑)        Canberra 3.62% (↓)       National 3.03% (↓)            UNIT ANNUAL GROSS YIELDS AND TREND       Sydney 4.01% (↑)      Melbourne 4.53% (↑)        Brisbane 5.91% (↓)       Adelaide 5.94% (↓)       Perth 6.57% (↓)       Hobart 4.25% (↓)     Darwin 7.31% (↑)        Canberra 5.99% (↓)       National 5.07% (↓)            HOUSE RENTAL VACANCY RATES AND TREND         Sydney 1.5% (↓)       Melbourne 1.9% (↓)       Brisbane 0.6% (↓)       Adelaide 0.5% (↓)       Perth 1.0% (↓)     Hobart 0.8% (↑)        Darwin 0.9% (↓)       Canberra 0.6% (↓)     National 1.2%        National 1.2% (↓)            UNIT RENTAL VACANCY RATES AND TREND         Sydney 2.3%ey 2.4% (↓)       Melbourne 3.0% (↓)       Brisbane 1.3% (↓)       Adelaide 0.7% (↓)     Perth 1.3% (↑)        Hobart 1.2% (↓)     Darwin 1.1% (↑)        Canberra 1.6% (↓)     National 2.1%       National 2.1% (↓)            AVERAGE DAYS TO SELL HOUSES AND TREND         Sydney 31.2 (↓)       Melbourne 30.9 (↓)       Brisbane 35.7 (↓)       Adelaide 27.6 (↓)       Perth 40.5 (↓)       Hobart 30.2 (↓)       Darwin 27.1 (↓)     Canberra 28.1 (↑)        National 31.4 (↓)            AVERAGE DAYS TO SELL UNITS AND TREND         Sydney 33.7 (↓)       Melbourne 32.6 (↓)       Brisbane 34.8 (↓)       Adelaide 29.5 (↓)       Perth 46.6 (↓)       Hobart 27.4 (↓)       Darwin 38.2 (↓)       Canberra 30.2 (↓)       National 34.1 (↓)           
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What You Should Know About Investing In Commodities

Recent strong performance has attracted a lot of neophytes. They may have much to learn.

By Simon Constable
Thu, Mar 10, 2022Grey Clock 5 min

After years in the investing wilderness, commodities are hot again. And it looks as if the rally may continue for at least the foreseeable future, some analysts say.

The speed of the rally has been striking. The Refinitiv/CoreCommodity CRB Index, which tracks a basket of commodities selected to represent prices of futures contracts across the whole sector, doubled from April 2020 through mid-February.

That performance follows a yearslong period when the index trended lower. And the surge is now attracting investors of all types—from veterans to neophytes.

The latter would do well to understand some of the basics in how commodity investing works. Commodities typically get grouped into three broad buckets: energy, foodstuffs and materials. Each has endemic risks, including weather, local and geopolitics.

Each also offers the possibility of direct investment, in the commodities themselves, or indirect investment, through vehicles such as mutual funds and exchange-traded funds. For the relatively inexperienced, direct investing in commodities can be particularly challenging, in part because of additional costs and risks generally not found in other types of investing. We’ll get to those details in a moment.

What follows is a look at some of the basics of commodity investing.

Complicated economics

The price of each commodity gets determined by the supply and demand dynamics for that item. For instance, last year bad weather in Brazil hurt the coffee crop and pushed up the cost of beans. Likewise, an attack on an oil-refining plant in the Middle East will tend to disrupt supplies and spark an energy-market rally.

Commodity markets are global. What happens in one country can have an impact on commodity prices world-wide. Therefore, all commodity investors should keep an eye on what’s happening not just in the U.S. but around the world.

While even just the risk of war can send prices higher for commodities, particularly those that originate in the countries directly involved, actual invasion tends to send those prices even higher. That is exactly what happened with the conflict between Ukraine and Russia as both countries are leading exporters of foodstuffs. Although the invasion began on Feb. 24, prices were rising long before. A bushel of wheat is fetching $13.48, up 77% from $7.61 at the beginning of February on fears that global supplies would be disrupted. Likewise, corn prices have rallied 21% over the same period. Such surges added to those already happening in the commodity markets. Even before the war, unfavourable weather- and pandemic-related disruptions across the world were reducing supplies and sending prices higher when production couldn’t keep up with demand.

Sometimes a price change in one commodity causes the cost of another one to move as well. One typical example is in livestock farming. Farmers sometimes switch from feeding hogs or cattle with costly grain to less-pricey alternatives. They might decide to buy corn from arable farmers instead of wheat or vice versa depending on the relative prices. In turn, those prices change to reflect the new demand for each product. This phenomenon shouldn’t be too surprising. Imagine if the cost of aged blue Stilton increases at the supermarket; at least some people will likely switch to a less-expensive cheese.

Price swings

Unlike commodity traders and other professionals whose direct positions in oil or grain might change from second to second, average investors in commodities will have longer time frames in mind for their commodity-related holdings. But a simple buy-and-hold strategy here won’t help you accumulate wealth as it would in the stock market.

Commodity prices can frequently trend lower for decades. New technologies, such as better farming techniques or methods of mineral extraction, have allowed supplies to increase over time, depressing prices.

For instance, oil hit a record high of around $147 a barrel in 2008 versus the current price of $115.68. Likewise, Arabica coffee prices peaked at $3.35 a pound in 1977 versus $2.24 now. When these prices get adjusted for inflation, the declines look starker.

Thus, even for individual investors in commodity-related investments, timing in these markets can be critical. Whether you think of your investment as short term or long term, investors need to pay attention to buy at the right moment and sell at an auspicious one. Lean-hog prices tripled from 37 cents a pound in April 2020 to $1.20 in June 2021 before collapsing to 72 cents in October. Anyone not ready for such swings will be in for a shock and an emotional roller coaster.

Adding commodities to a larger balanced portfolio can also help reduce risks as commodity prices tend to have low correlation to other assets such as stocks and bonds. That means when the S&P 500 falls, commodity prices may go up, or down, or not move at all.

One more advantage to investing directly in commodities rather than commodity companies is that a layer of risk is removed. When investing in stock there is always the possibility that management may make mistakes even when the underlying sector economics are favorable.

The futures market

Commodity investors typically don’t operate in the cash market, meaning they don’t purchase physical materials such as metals, oil, or foodstuffs. Instead, traders mostly buy or sell futures contracts in the hope of benefiting from the increase or decrease in prices. These contracts are legally binding agreements to buy or sell a specific volume of a commodity on a specific date in the future.

Ultimately, the prices in the futures market and those in the cash market will tend to converge. That’s why commodity producers and consumers use futures to hedge the risks of market price movements.

 

 

No dividends

Most stocks pay dividends to investors, meaning you can make money even if the share prices don’t move. Pretty much the opposite is true for commodity investors. It costs money to own commodities. For example, a buyer of 100 ounces of gold bullion will need to cover the costs of storage and insurance for the metal. While such expenses can be low for precious metals, they can stack up faster for crude oil and grains such as wheat and corn as more extensive facilities are needed to hold the stuff.

Mutual funds & ETFs

For fund investors, there are many choices. More than 150 mutual funds and ETFs cover the sector. Unfortunately, that means much due diligence is required. In short, it’s essential to understand what the fund owns and what its strategy is.

Just as with stocks, there are both passive funds (those that track a benchmark index) and active ones (those that follow a discretionary investing strategy).

In the passive category, some track the price of single commodities, such as SPDR Gold Shares ETF (GLD) and Invesco DB Gold Fund (DGL), which track slightly different benchmarks. Likewise, there is an ETF for wheat, Teucrium Wheat (WEAT). There are also passive funds that are designed to track groups of commodities, such as Invesco DB Base Metals (DBB), or the whole sector, such as iShares S&P GSCI Commodity-Indexed Trust (GSG).

Actively managed funds, such as the active ETF First Trust Global Tactical Commodity Strategy Fund (FTGC), make decisions on what commodities to buy or sell.

A warning on leveraged funds

There are a couple of wrinkles to watch out for with all types of funds. First, average investors should avoid any fund that uses leverage to enhance performance. Such funds often promise to deliver two or three times the performance of a given commodity. While that means such funds can deliver multiplied profits, they also magnify losses.

Other funds claim that they’ll mimic an inverse performance so that if a commodity’s price falls, the fund will increase in value by a similar amount. This isn’t the same as a hedge against losses unless the trade is made specifically to diversify risk within a larger portfolio. Another problem with these funds is that there can be significant tracking errors. These funds are best left to sophisticated investors.

It’s also worth being cautious about exchange-traded notes, or ETNs. This type of investment can expose investors to the risk that the fund company goes bust. ETFs and mutual funds protect investors against such events.

As with all investing, investors should find funds with low expense ratios. Annual fund expenses mainly range from 0.5% to 1%. Leveraged funds tend to have expenses of 1% and more. These compare with costs of 0.09% for SPDR S&P 500 ETF, which tracks the S&P 500.

Riches and rags

Investing guru Jim Rogers famously made a boatload of money during the 1970s investing in the commodity markets while material prices and food costs jumped. And there will likely be other people who do similarly again.

However, even the most sophisticated investors sometimes come unstuck, such as the Hunt brothers. In 1980 they accumulated major positions in the silver futures market using borrowed money. But a change in exchange rules led to a price drop, and quickly the brothers couldn’t cover their obligations. In other words, be careful in the commodity markets.

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Private club memberships and luxury cars are some of freebies on the table.

By SHIVANI VORA
Mon, Aug 15, 2022 6 min

When Ryan Wolitzer was looking to buy an apartment in Miami Beach late last year, several beachfront properties caught his eye. All were two-bedroom homes in high-end buildings with amenities aplenty and featured glass walls, high ceilings and an abundance of natural light. But only The Continuum, in the city’s South of Fifth district, came with a gift: a membership to Residence Yacht Club, a private club that offers excursions on luxury yachts ranging from a day in south Florida to a month around the Caribbean. Residents receive heavily discounted charters on upscale boats that have premier finishes and are stocked with top shelf spirits and wine. Mr. Wolitzer, 25, who works for a sports agency, was sold.

“The access to high-end yachts swayed my decision to buy at The Continuum and is an incentive that I take full advantage of,” Mr. Wolitzer said. “It’s huge, especially in my business when I am dealing with high-profile sports players, to be able to give them access to these incredible boats where they experience great service. I know that they’ll be well taken care of.”

Freebies and perks for homeowners such as a private club membership are a mainstay in the world of luxury real estate and intended to entice prospective buyers to sign on the dotted line.

According to Jonathan Miller, the president and chief executive of the real estate appraisal and consulting firm Miller Samuel, they’re primarily a domestic phenomenon.

In the U.S. residential real estate market, gifts are offered by both developers who want to move apartments in their swanky buildings and individuals selling their homes. They range from modest to over-the-top, Mr. Miller said, and are more prevalent when the market is soft.

“When sales lag, freebies increase in a bid to incentivize buyers,” he said. “These days, sales are slowing, and inventory is rising after two years of being the opposite, which suggests that we may see more of them going forward.”

Many of these extras are especially present in South Florida, Mr. Miller said, where the market is normalizing after the unprecedented boom it saw during the pandemic. “The frenzy in South Florida was intense compared with the rest of the country because it became a place where people wanted to live full time,” he said. “Now that the numbers are inching toward pre-pandemic levels, freebies could push wavering buyers over the finish line.”

Kelly Killoren Bensimon, a real estate salesperson for Douglas Elliman in Miami and New York, said that the gifts that she has encountered in her business include everything from yacht access and use of a summer house to magnums of pricey wine. “One person I know of who was selling a US$5 million house in the Hamptons even threw in a free Mercedes 280SL,” she said. “They didn’t want to lower the price but were happy to sweeten the deal.”

A car, an Aston Martin to be exact, is also a lure at Aston Martin Residences in Miami’s Biscayne Bay. Buyers who bought  one of the building’s 01 line apartments—a collection of 47 ocean-facing residences ranging in size from 325 to 362sqm and US$8.3 million to US$9 million in price—had their choice of the DBX Miami Riverwalk Special Edition or the DB11 Miami Riverwalk Special Edition. The DBX is Aston Martin’s first SUV and retails for around US$200,000. It may have helped propel sales given that all the apartments are sold out.

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An Aston Martin came with the sale for some buyers at Aston Martin Residences in Miami’s Biscayne Bay. Aston Martin Residences

The US$59 million triplex penthouse, meanwhile, is still up for grabs, and the buyer will receive a US$3.2 million Aston Martin Vulcan track-only sports car, one of only 24 ever made.

“We want to give homeowners the chance to live the full Aston Martin lifestyle, and owning a beautiful Aston Martin is definitely a highlight of that,” said Alejandro Aljanti, the chief marketing officer for G&G Business Developments, the building’s developer.  “We wanted to include the cars as part of the package for our more exclusive units.”

The US$800,000 furniture budget for buyers of the North Tower condominiums at The Estates at Acqualina in Sunny Isles, Florida, is another recent head-turning perk. The 94 residences sold out last year, according to president of sales Michael Goldstein, and had a starting price of US$6.3 million. “You can pick the furniture ahead of time, and when buyers move in later this year, all they’ll need is a toothbrush,” he said.

Then there’s the US$2 million art collection that was included in the sale of the penthouse residence at the Four Seasons Residences in Miami’s Brickell neighbourhood. The property recently sold for $15.9 million and spans 817sqm feet. Designed by the renowned firm ODP Architects, it features contemporary paintings and sculpture pieces from notable names such as the American conceptual artist Bill Beckley and the sculptor Tom Brewitz.

But it’s hard to top the millions of dollars of extras that were attached to the asking price in 2019 of the US$85 million 1393sqm  duplex at the Atelier, in Manhattan’s Hell’s Kitchen neighbourhood. The list included two Rolls-Royce Phantoms, a Lamborghini Aventador, a US$1 million yacht with five years of docking fees, a summer stay at a Hamptons mansion, weekly dinners for two at lavish French restaurant Daniel and a live-in butler and private chef for a year. And the most outrageous of all: a flight for two to space.

It turned out that the so-called duplex was actually a collection of several apartments and a listing that went unsold. It did, however, generate plenty of buzz among the press and in real estate circles and was a marketing success, according to Mr. Miller.

“A listing like this that almost seems unbelievable with all the gifts will get plenty of eyeballs but is unlikely to push sales,” he said. “Empirically, it’s not an effective tactic.”

On the other hand, Mr. Miller said that more reasonable but still generous freebies, such as the membership to a yacht club, have the potential to push undecided buyers to go for the sale. “A nice but not too lavish gift won’t be the singular thing toward their decision but can be a big factor,” he said. “It’s a feel-good incentive that buyers think they’re getting without an extra cost.”

Examples of these bonuses include a membership to the 1 Hotel South Beach private beach club that buyers receive with the purchase of a residence at Baccarat Residences Brickell, or the one-year membership to the Grand Bay Beach Club in Key Biscayne for those who spring for a home at Casa Bella Residences by B&B Italia, located in downtown Miami and a residential project from the namesake renowned Italian furniture brand. The price of a membership at the Grand Bay Beach Club is usually a US$19,500 initiation fee and US$415 in monthly dues.


The Grand Salon at at Baccarat Residences Brickell in Miami.
Baccarat Residences

Still enticing but less expensive perks include the two-hour cruise around New York on a wooden Hemmingway boat, valued at US$1,900, for buyers at Quay Tower, at Brooklyn Bridge Park in New York City. The building’s developer, Robert Levine, said that he started offering the boat trip in July to help sell the remaining units. “We’re close to 70% sold, but, of course, I want everything to go,” he said.

There’s also the US$1,635 Avalon throw blanket from Hermes for those who close on a unit at Ten30 South Beach, a 33-unit boutique condominium; in Manhattan’s Financial District, a custom piece of art from the acclaimed artist James Perkins is gifted to buyers at Jolie, a 42-story building on Greenwich Street. Perkins said the value of the piece depends on the home purchase price, but the minimum is US$4,000. “The higher end homes get a more sizable work,” he said.

When gifts are part of a total real estate package, the sale can become emotional and personal, according to Chad Carroll, a real estate agent with Compass in South Florida and the founder of The Carroll Group. “If the freebie appeals to the buyer, the transaction takes on a different dynamic,” he said. “A gift becomes the kicker that they love the idea of having.”

Speaking from his own experience, Mr. Carroll said that sellers can also have an emotional connection to the exchange. “I was selling my house in Golden Isles last year for US$5.4 million and included my jet ski and paddle boards,” he said. “The buyers were a family with young kids and absolutely loved the water toys.” Mr. Carroll could have held out for a higher bidder, he said, but decided to accept their offer. “I liked them and wanted them to create the same happy memories in the home that I did,” he said.

The family moved in a few months later.