We tend to ignore the costs associated with entry, exit and the speed of the transaction
A friend who runs a small business was hit by a series of events post the North Atlantic financial crisis of 2008. The crisis wiped out a large chunk of the overseas market, hitting his business badly. Next, a series of poor business decisions and external events prevented him from recovering in the next few years. Just as he was getting it back together, GST (goods and services tax) compliance and bribes for refunds dealt the next blow. Thinking that the end was around the next quarter for many years, he got into a debt trap with unpaid dues to banks, suppliers, family and friends. The only way out of this tight financial corner was to sell some land bought more than a decade ago, the price of which had gone up exponentially, with lakhs now worth crores. The sale will more than clear the debt and then leave some capital for restarting the business or just retiring. But one year later, he remains in the market looking to liquidate the land. This story is a text-book example of why real estate is such a clunky, and sometimes dangerous, asset to own, maintain and dispose, and why it is a poor asset for an emergency bail-out situation.