Promoting Municipal Bonds Is Extremely Costly And Cumbersome

Should you’re desirous about holding particular person municipal bonds as a protected and liquid supply of funds, assume twice. Proudly owning highly-rated municipal bonds is low danger. Nevertheless, promoting particular person municipal bonds will be extremely costly and cumbersome.

In contrast to shares, which now have $0 buying and selling charges and ample liquidity, municipal bonds have a a lot much less liquid market. Consequently, for those who ever wish to promote municipal bonds, you may need to promote them for approach under market worth.

The important thing takeaway from this put up is that for those who plan to spend money on 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 notice I’m differentiating between proudly owning particular person municipal bonds and shares in a bond fund, which normally has way more liquidity, however no maturity date.

Counting On Municipal Bond Proceeds For A Home Down Fee

The nearer you might be to purchasing a home, the higher the share of your down cost must be in money and low-risk investments corresponding to Treasury payments. If you discover the house you wish to purchase, you typically have to put down a minimum of 20% to be aggressive.

Given the excessive worth of houses nowadays, 20% down is normally some huge cash. It will be unwise to gamble your down cost within the inventory market given its volatility. The extra it’s important to stretch to provide you with an appropriate down cost, the extra conservative you need to be with your own home down cost investments.

A few of you may need thought-about investing in particular person municipal bonds as a substitute of money or Treasuries on account 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 price, the extra engaging the asset class.

Nevertheless, regardless of a possible greater internet yield, I would not park your down cost in particular person municipal bonds. You won’t have the ability to promote them as a result of there will not be a marketplace for them. And for those who do promote them, you’ll doubtless must promote them at a steep low cost.

Bond Desk Sorted By Length

Earlier than I share with you my municipal bond-selling expertise, let me rapidly share why somebody would favor proudly owning munis as a substitute of Treasuries or different bonds. Check out this bond desk under.

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 price is 37%, the web 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 might choose to personal a two-year Aaa-rated municipal bond as a substitute. On this instance, the breakeven level is if you’re within the 19% marginal revenue tax bracket, which there’s presently no such factor.

The marginal revenue tax price jumps from 12% to 22%. Due to this fact, anyone paying a 22% marginal revenue tax price or greater 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 kinds of bonds have gotten pummeled since inflation and rates of interest have surged greater. Due to this fact, if it’s important to promote bonds now it isn’t an optimum time.

First Unanticipated Downside Holding Municipal Bonds

Once I submitted a proposal 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 beneficial properties I’d have from promoting shares.

What I did not anticipate was not having 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 giant 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!

You probably have no different sources of funds to provide you with your own home down cost, you may fall out of contract. You may even lose your earnest cash deposit for those who launch financing contingencies earlier than realizing you possibly can’t liquidate your municipal bonds. Beware.

Second Unanticipated Downside Holding Municipal Bonds

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

He walked me by means of 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 all the way 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 may be demand for the variety of municipal bonds I wish 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 received 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 must undergo your entire 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 fast 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 might promote them, the method was extraordinarily cumbersome. I needed to dedicate a minimum of an hour of my time to promote a municipal bond in comparison with promoting a inventory instantaneously by means of a cellular app.

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

Last 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. Nevertheless, when my dream home reappeared a yr later at a cheaper price, 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.

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

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

However then I took a step again and paused. Paying 1% – 4% to promote my municipal bonds felt like freeway theft! I’d slightly 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 worth of $59.801 for a zero-coupon municipal bond presently buying and selling at $61.643. The distinction is $1.812 for a diffusion/charge 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 important to promote, you will have to promote at a steep low cost.

Some Brokerage Homes Are Higher Than Others

It seems that Citibank is not an awesome platform to promote municipal bonds. Not solely is its buying and selling platform expertise 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 price of municipal bonds at Citibank, I spotted I may merely switch my Citibank portfolio over to Constancy. This course of would take about 7-10 days whole. I’ve executed it earlier than.

Given I’ve a protracted escrow interval with contingencies, ready 7-10 days to port my Citibank portfolio over wasn’t an enormous deal. However for those who 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.

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

I additionally do not plan to promote $200,000 price of municipal bonds in my Constancy portfolio both as a result of charges. Actually, I wish to construct a bigger bond portfolio to lock in greater 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 may 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 known as the 60-day rollover rule from the IRS web site. Fortunately, my rollover IRA has sufficient funds to cowl your entire 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 will couple this lively work with chopping 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 every part collectively. However we additionally earmark sure funds particularly for retirement to remain disciplined. In any other case, we may 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 is just not price it.

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

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

Therefore, if you wish to park your own home down cost in bonds, purchase 3-month or 6-month Treasury payments. Should you do, the influence of upper charges, in the event that they occur throughout your holding interval, will likely be negligible. Additional, the Treasury bond market is extremely liquid, not like the municipal bond market.

Once I used to work in finance, bond merchants have been a few of the wealthiest staff at my agency. Now I’ve a transparent understanding why. The fastened revenue bid-ask spreads are so giant, bond merchants are capable of make a killing if they’ll efficiently meet market calls for.

Should you plan to spend money on particular person municipal bonds, attempt to maintain them to maturity for those who can. Provided that rates of interest plummet and the worth of your bonds skyrocket, must you contemplate promoting them earlier than maturity.

Reader Questions and Suggestions

Have you ever ever needed to promote a person bond on account of liquidity wants? In that case, why? If you’re an skilled bond investor, what are another issues we must 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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