Quarterly Articles

  • Lessons from Wars, Office Buildings, and Inverted Thinking


    2022 was a brutal year for most investors as this headline conveys. And when bond returns are factored in, the loss of market value is even more dramatic.... Read More

  • An Anti-Curious Jay Powell and His Kamikaze Fed


    I’ve been wrestling with the outlook for 2023 for our apartment portfolio because of the highly unusual global economy as we come out of Covid, overlayed... Read More

  • Sun Showers


    If the tremendous demand for apartments is an economic indicator, then the weather conditions are quite pleasant and favorable to remain that way. This... Read More

  • Stress for Success


    In last quarter’s article I discussed how the operational trends we were experiencing were quite positive and that higher revenues should help offset rising... Read More

  • Passing the Baton


    In my 34 years at CWS I have never seen such significant rent increases as we are experiencing today. For example, in the fourth quarter of 2021 we had... Read More

  • Initial Conditions and the Road to Development


    We have been spending a lot of time internally discussing why there has been such a dramatic increase in rents throughout most of our portfolio, as well... Read More

  • Here Comes The Sun


    As we have communicated over the past year, we felt as if we had built up strong defenses to help weather the Covid storm. Of course when it started we... Read More

  • The CWS Platform - Addition Through the Elimination of Subtraction


    When people ask me if I have any advice for them as they contemplate starting a real estate company or have a relatively new one that is trying to gain... Read More

  • 2020 - The Year of Living Dangerously


    2020 was clearly a year that was unlike any I had experienced. We entered the start of the Roaring 20s in good shape economically. Unfortunately this was... Read More

  • The Right Stuff But Still More Questions Than Answers


    The situation we’re in today lends itself to thinking about the famous Donald Rumsfeld soliloquy about known knowns and known unknowns and unknown unknowns.... Read More

  • The Power of Resilience


    I don’t think one can overstate the importance and value of resilience in life. Events will take place that we are not prepared for financially, emotionally,... Read More

  • What did the farmer say when his horse dropped dead?


    …Never did that before. I think that is a trite, apt description about the economic and social impact of the response to COVID-19. Our economy had gone... Read More

  • The Roaring 2010s (For Apartments)


    One of the great things about CWS and our 50+ years of longevity is that we have a tremendous amount of content that we can fall back on to review the... Read More

  • Going with the Flow


    At CWS we subscribe to apartment market reports produced by Witten Advisors. Ron Witten, the principal of the firm, has spoken at our Annual Investor Meeting... Read More

  • Capitalizing on a Slow Down


    With approximately 75% of our loans at CWS being floating rate, we have a strong interest (pun intended) in following the direction of short term interest... Read More

  • 50 Years and Still Going Strong


    The following is an excerpt of my presentation at CWS’ annual investor meeting. 2019 is CWS’ 50th year. This is quite an accomplishment and worthy of celebration.... Read More

  • Positioned Well for a Slowdown


    Warren Buffett has dramatically outperformed the market and his peers over his 50+ year investment career. This has been the case more so because of his... Read More

  • In the Kingdom of the Blind, the 25 "I" Investor is King


    Bill Williams is fond of quoting Erasmus when he says “In the kingdom of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.” Of course this means that very few people... Read More

  • AIM 2018 Recap


    There has naturally been a lot of concern over rising interest rates as approximately 80% of our debt is variable-rate. Until this point we have been able... Read More

  • Lessons From The East


    One of the mantras we like to say at CWS that is borrowed from Buddhist thought is “Eat when we’re hungry and sleep when we’re tired.” We want to design... Read More

  • Tax Reform: Very Favorable for Renters


    Tax reform is a big deal and that is why it does not happen very frequently. It can also have some very large unintended consequences. The 1981 tax law... Read More

  • Houston: Back from the Abyss


    Some time has passed since the devastating flooding that took place in Houston. This has allowed us to wrap our arms around the damage and to formulate... Read More

  • Stay to Play


    I just celebrated my 30th year with CWS and I have been so fortunate to have worked in one place with such great people for all of these years. It has... Read More

  • The Next 30+ Years


    This is my 30th year at CWS so I thought this would be an appropriate time to look back on some important trends during my three decades at CWS and to... Read More

  • CWS - My Family Office


    2017 should be quite an interesting year. We have a new President for which there is very little historical parallel. Donald Trump has clearly shown he... Read More

  • CWS and the Success of Founder-Led Firms


    “To live in a great idea means to treat the impossible as though it were possible. It is just the same with a strong character; and when an idea and a... Read More

  • $50 Million and Counting


    Since late 2011 I have been tracking how the cost of our variable rate loans have compared to the fixed-rate options we could have chosen at the time of... Read More

  • Better Than We Thought


    Over the years I have found that it is good discipline to take the time to articulate in writing the hypotheses that are the basis of making an investment.... Read More

  • Weathering the Storm


    2015 was a pretty interesting year and so is the beginning of 2016. 2015 was so challenging from an investment perspective that, according to a report... Read More

  • Lessons From Andrew Carnegie


    Over the years I have written about individuals who have had a great influence on my thinking in business and life. Examples include Shakespeare, Charlie... Read More

  • From Fare Thee Well to Keep on Truckin'


    In a recent blog post, I wrote about my trip to Santa Clara, CA to see one of the final "Fare Thee Well" shows for the Grateful Dead, commemorating their... Read More

  • Positive Optionality


    One of the most important pieces of advice that I could give for not only positioning oneself for success in the world of investing, but probably in life... Read More

  • Houston, Do We Have a Problem?


    It would be naïve and utterly foolish to believe that Houston won’t be negatively impacted by the significant drop in oil prices in such a short period... Read More

  • Cleaning the Fish


    It’s important to me that our investors, current and prospective, have an understanding of how CWS operates. A lot goes into making investment decisions... Read More

  • The CWS Circle of Life


    The focus of this article is to illuminate two important ways CWS generates long-term return for our investors. The first way is providing investors with... Read More

  • Looking Back and Looking Ahead


    I have heard someone ask the question, “How do you avoid an avalanche?...Don’t be on the mountain when one occurs.” If an investment drops by 50%, then... Read More

  • Is CWS Right for You?


    A few years ago I came across letters written by Warren Buffet to his investors prior to Berkshire Hathaway being his sole investment vehicle. Between... Read More

  • Let the Numbers Do the Talking


    This article will be shorter than others as I would like the numbers to do the talking as well as Bill Gross from PIMCO. For those of you who have paid... Read More

  • Shoot First, Ask Questions Later or Read My Lips: Stay the Course


    We had people over recently and I was distressed to pull a bottle of wine out of the wine cooler to find that it was not very cool. I impatiently tried... Read More

  • How Did We Do?


    There is a line from a Talking Heads song that says, “Say something once, why say it again?”. I am usually a firm believer in this “less is more” communication... Read More

  • Silver Linings Playbook


    I really enjoyed the movie Silver Linings Playbook. In fact, I saw it twice I liked it so much. Rather than discuss what the movie is about, I thought... Read More

  • Heraclitus, Jung, and the Road to Damascus


    The graph at the top of page 2 speaks volumes about the collapse in the lending market for owner-occupied home purchases in the United States. This picture... Read More

  • A Labour of Love 25 Years and Still Learning


    This July I will have completed my 25th year at CWS. Having just returned from a great trip to England that ended with a couple of days in Stratford-upon-Avon,... Read More

  • The Renter Generation


    The following article is a summary of the key points and charts I presented at our annual investor meeting that took place on April 2, 2012 Read More

  • A Political Calculation


    The economic system had pulled out of its sinking spell of 1929-33 only to become a chronic invalid, whose temperature was lower now in the mornings but... Read More

  • Collapse Into Now


    For many people in my world, the most shocking event of last quarter was the collapse of Treasury yields which led to the 10-year Treasury note yield dropping... Read More

  • Enhancing Lives the CWS Way


    For a long time I have felt that to be successful in business, and in life for that matter, one of the necessary traits is to be an effective hypothesis... Read More

  • Tectonic Shift


    Note: If you attended our Annual Investor Meeting then this article may be repetitive since it was the basis of my presentation.​ Read More

  • A Picture Worth 1,000 Words


    Sometimes there is a picture that really is worth 1,000 words, or in my case, closer to 1,400. CWS has owned apartments on an uninterrupted basis since... Read More

  • A Paper Blog


    I’ve been thinking about starting a blog. Blogging is pretty much a 24/7 endeavor for it to be relevant and fresh. So rather than doing that right now,... Read More