Promoting Municipal Bonds Is Extremely Costly And Cumbersome

In the event you’re interested by holding particular person municipal bonds as a secure and liquid supply of funds, suppose twice. Proudly owning highly-rated municipal bonds is low threat. Nonetheless, promoting particular person municipal bonds may be extremely costly and cumbersome.

Not like shares, which now have $0 buying and selling charges and ample liquidity, municipal bonds have a a lot much less liquid market. Because of this, when you ever need to promote municipal bonds, you might need to promote them for means beneath market worth.

The important thing takeaway from this put up is that when you plan to put money into particular person municipal bonds for tax-efficient passive revenue, it is best to plan to carry them to maturity. Don’t depend on particular person municipal bonds as a simple supply of liquidity if an emergency comes up or if you wish to purchase a big ticket merchandise like a home.

Please observe I’m differentiating between proudly owning particular person municipal bonds and shares in a bond fund, which often has way more liquidity, however no maturity date.

Counting On Municipal Bond Proceeds For A Home Down Fee

The nearer you’re to purchasing a home, the better the share of your down fee ought to be in money and low-risk investments equivalent to Treasury payments. While you discover the house you need to purchase, you typically must put down not less than 20% to be aggressive.

Given the excessive value of houses today, 20% down is often some huge cash. It might be unwise to gamble your down fee within the inventory market given its volatility. The extra it’s a must to stretch to provide you with a suitable down fee, the extra conservative you need to be with your home down fee investments.

A few of you might need thought of investing in particular person municipal bonds as an alternative of money or Treasuries as a consequence of their tax benefit. You do not have to pay federal or state revenue tax if you’re shopping for municipal bonds issued by your state of residence. Due to this fact, the upper your marginal tax fee, the extra engaging the asset class.

Nonetheless, regardless of a possible increased web yield, I would not park your down fee in particular person municipal bonds. You won’t have the ability to promote them as a result of there is probably not a marketplace for them. And when you do promote them, you’ll seemingly need to promote them at a steep low cost.

Bond Desk Sorted By Period

Earlier than I share with you my municipal bond-selling expertise, let me shortly share why somebody would like proudly owning munis as an alternative of Treasuries or different bonds. Check out this bond desk beneath.

You may get a two-year Treasury bond yielding 4.91% and a two-year Aaa-rated municipal bond yielding 3.98%. In case your marginal revenue tax fee is 37%, the online yield in your Treasury bond is 3.09% because you pay federal revenue tax on bond revenue.

Given 3.09% is decrease than 3.98%, an individual within the 37% marginal revenue tax bracket could choose to personal a two-year Aaa-rated municipal bond as an alternative. On this instance, the breakeven level is if you’re within the 19% marginal revenue tax bracket, which there’s at the moment no such factor.

The marginal revenue tax fee jumps from 12% to 22%. Due to this fact, anyone paying a 22% marginal revenue tax fee or increased would profit from shopping for the municipal bond in the event that they maintain to maturity.

Municipal Bond table

Holding particular person bonds to maturity protects you from principal loss in case rates of interest rise through the holding interval.

Since early 2022, all forms of bonds have gotten pummeled since inflation and rates of interest have surged increased. Due to this fact, if it’s a must to promote bonds now it isn’t an optimum time.

First Unanticipated Drawback Holding Municipal Bonds

After I submitted a suggestion with contingencies for a home, I assumed round $400,000 of the proceeds would come from municipal bonds I’ve held for over six years. Though I’d take a loss on the bonds, I wanted some losses to offset some features I’d have from promoting shares.

What I did not anticipate was not with the ability to promote about $200,000 out of the $260,000 municipal bonds I held at my Citibank brokerage account! My wealth supervisor tried for 2 weeks to promote a few my massive municipal bond holdings to no avail. There have been merely no bids, even at decrease and decrease costs.

Uh oh. How on earth was I going to provide you with the $200,000 shortfall on this account?

Purpose #1 for not relying on particular person municipal bonds for liquidity. You actually won’t have the ability to promote them!

When you have no different sources of funds to provide you with your home down fee, you may fall out of contract. You may even lose your earnest cash deposit when you launch financing contingencies earlier than realizing you’ll be able to’t liquidate your municipal bonds. Beware.

Second Unanticipated Drawback Holding Municipal Bonds

I then went to my Constancy brokerage account, the place I additionally held some municipal bonds. Anticipating I’d have a tough time promoting my municipal bonds right here as properly, I gave the rep a name to see what he might do.

He walked me by the method of promoting a municipal bond, which required a number of steps. Step one was to click on the person bond holding, then click on the Promote button. Then I needed to scroll right down to get a Bid Request.

Selling municipal bonds is cumbersome - Bid request example

The Bid Request was not instantaneous. It takes the system about one hour to find out whether or not there’s demand for the variety of municipal bonds I need to promote. I’d get notified both by textual content message, e-mail, or each.

This was inconvenient as a result of I so occurred to be on the seaside with my daughter. As well as, the Constancy cellular app did not have the performance to promote municipal bonds. I needed to name Constancy again as soon as I acquired my bid request alert.

If I did not assessment and settle for the bid requests inside 5-10 minutes after they got here, they might expire. I’d then need to undergo all the course of once more. What a ache within the a$$!

Instance Of Muni Bond Bid Request Outcomes

Beneath is a snapshot of my Bid Requests, most of which expired as a result of I wasn’t paying rapid consideration an hour later.

Submit bid request for bonds

Therefore, my second unanticipated shock from attempting to promote particular person municipal bonds was that when I discovered a brokerage that would promote them, the method was extraordinarily cumbersome. I needed to dedicate not less than an hour of my time to promote a municipal bond in comparison with promoting a inventory instantaneously by a cellular app.

Purpose #2 for not relying on particular person municipal bonds for liquidity. The method just isn’t instantaneous.

Ultimate Unanticipated Shock Promoting Municipal Bonds

I by no means deliberate to promote my municipal bond holdings earlier than maturity, not to mention through the worst bond bear market in current historical past. Nonetheless, when my dream home reappeared a yr later at a lower cost, I made a decision to go for it. The low cost I might get from the home would greater than cowl the loss from promoting the bonds.

After I lastly acquired to assessment my bid requests, I used to be shocked by how a lot decrease the bid value was in comparison with the market value. We’re speaking a bid / ask unfold ranging between 1% – 4%, with the common hovering round 3%.

In different phrases, if I needed to promote $10,000 value of municipal bonds, I needed to pay between $100 – $400 / settle for between $100 – $400 much less. At first, I held my nostril and offered some bonds as a result of I used to be initially so relieved to seek out out I might really promote a few of my bonds by Constancy.

However then I took a step again and paused. Paying 1% – 4% to promote my municipal bonds felt like freeway theft! I’d relatively simply maintain them to maturity and discover different sources of capital that did not have such egregious promoting prices.

Beneath is an instance of a bid value of $59.801 for a zero-coupon municipal bond at the moment buying and selling at $61.643. The distinction is $1.812 for a variety/price of two.94%. Not low cost!

huge bid ask spread for selling a municipal bond

Purpose #3 for not relying on particular person municipal bonds for liquidity. If it’s a must to promote, you might have to promote at a steep low cost.

Some Brokerage Homes Are Higher Than Others

It seems that Citibank is not an incredible platform to promote municipal bonds. Not solely is its buying and selling platform know-how inferior to Constancy’s, it additionally by some means cannot faucet the identical pool of municipal bond liquidity Constancy can.

Given I could not promote $200,000 value of municipal bonds at Citibank, I spotted I might merely switch my Citibank portfolio over to Constancy. This course of would take about 7-10 days complete. I’ve performed it earlier than.

Given I’ve an extended escrow interval with contingencies, ready 7-10 days to port my Citibank portfolio over wasn’t a giant deal. However when you want the liquidity sooner, then this resolution will not work. As a result of after you promote a municipal bond, you will not get the proceeds for 2 days (T+2). Therefore, plan forward.

On reflection, I am grateful I could not promote $200,000 value of municipal bonds at Citibank. Promoting them would have value me $4,000 – $8,000.

I additionally do not plan to promote $200,000 value of municipal bonds in my Constancy portfolio both as a result of charges. In truth, I need to construct a bigger bond portfolio to lock in increased rates of interest for extra passive revenue.

Discovering New Capital To Make Up For The Shortfall

How will I provide you with the capital shortfall if I do not promote my municipal bonds?

One thought is to ask for a bridge mortgage paying a 5.5% rate of interest to the Financial institution of Mother & Dad. However I am uncomfortable asking for extra money as a result of I am presupposed to be serving to them, not borrowing from them.

One other supply of funds might come from my rollover IRA. Supposedly, I will use funds from my IRA as long as I return the funds inside 60 days. That is referred to as the 60-day rollover rule from the IRS web site. Fortunately, my rollover IRA has sufficient funds to cowl all the shortfall. The issue with this resolution is paying again the cash inside 60 days. Extra on this in a future put up.

One other supply of funds is to get a job or do some consulting work. I am going to couple this lively work with slicing our bills aggressively. However these actions will not even make up for 10% of the cash that is wanted since I solely have a month left. However I ought to strive anyway.

The ultimate supply of funds is to ask my spouse to faucet into her taxable retirement portfolio. We purchase all the things collectively. However we additionally earmark sure funds particularly for retirement to remain disciplined. In any other case, we is likely to be tempted to spend an excessive amount of cash on too many luxuries we do not want. Equivalent to this nicer home!

We do not plan to use for a mortgage. The excessive rates of interest, time it takes, and value to use just isn’t value it.

Do not Rely On Your Municipal Bonds To Pay For A Home

In conclusion, do not consider municipal bonds as a liquid different to money. It’s not as a consequence of its excessive promoting charges and problem of promoting. The longer the period of the municipal bond, the extra worth it is going to lose if rates of interest go up.

Therefore, if you wish to park your home down fee in bonds, purchase 3-month or 6-month Treasury payments. In the event you do, the affect of upper charges, in the event that they occur throughout your holding interval, shall be negligible. Additional, the Treasury bond market is very liquid, not like the municipal bond market.

After I used to work in finance, bond merchants have been a number of the wealthiest workers at my agency. Now I’ve a transparent understanding why. The mounted revenue bid-ask spreads are so massive, bond merchants are in a position to make a killing if they’ll efficiently meet market calls for.

In the event you plan to put money into particular person municipal bonds, attempt to maintain them to maturity when you can. Provided that rates of interest plummet and the worth of your bonds skyrocket, must you think about promoting them earlier than maturity.

Reader Questions and Suggestions

Have you ever ever needed to promote a person bond as a consequence of liquidity wants? If that’s the case, why? If you’re an skilled bond investor, what are another issues we ought to be privy to when shopping for and promoting bonds, not simply municipal bonds? Anyone shopping for bonds now to benefit from excessive rates of interest?

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