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The potential downside of a core plus real estate investment is that the cash flow is less predictable than a core investment, and these properties require active participation by ownership. A 15-year-old apartment building that is well-occupied but in need of light upgrades is an example of a core plus investment opportunity. The property will produce ample cash flow but some of the cash will be used for future deferred maintenance such as roofs and parking lot repairs.

Core plus investors tend to use between 40% and 60% leverage and expect to achieve returns between 9% and 13% annually.

‘Value Add’ is synonymous with ‘growth’ in the stock market and is associated with moderate to high risk. Value add properties often have little to no cash flow at acquisition but have the potential to produce a tremendous amount of cash flow once the value has been added . These building often times have occupancy issues, management problems, deferred maintenance or a combination of all three. These investments require a deep knowledge of real estate, strategic planning, and daily oversight by their owners.

Value add investors tend to use between 60% and 75% leverage to generate annual returns between 13% and 18%.

Opportunistic is the riskiest of all real estate investment strategies. It is also synonymous with ‘growth’ in the stock market, like ‘value add,’ but it is even riskier. Opportunistic investors take on the most complicated projects and may not see a return on their investment for three or more years. These investment strategies require years of experience and a team of people to be successful. Ground up developments, acquiring an empty building, land development and repositioning a building from one use to another are examples of opportunistic investments.

Opportunistic properties often have little to no cash flow at acquisition but have the potential to produce a tremendous amount of cash flow once the value has been added. Opportunistic investors tend to use leverage of 70% or more, but the amount of leverage can vary based on the ability to obtain debt. For land development, banks simply won’t lend more than 50%. Opportunistic investors expect to generate annual returns in excess of 20%.

It’s important for investors to know the difference of each strategy because the actual risk of an investment and the advertised risk may be very different. A conservative investor focused on income generation should be investing in higher-quality properties with low leverage or in a debt fund that lends money. Those with a bigger appetite for risk and a longer time horizon should consider value add or even opportunistic strategies. Dialing leverage up or down will reduce or increase the financial risk and the risk profile. There is a private real estate investment strategy for virtually every individual investor and finding the investments that suit their personal risk/return profile is essential.

This article was abridged from “Why Every Investment Portfolio Needs Private Real Estate,” our comprehensive guide for accredited investors. Click here to download your copy .

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Learning Objectives

By the end of this section, you will be able to:

How does a complex organism such as a human develop from a single cell—a fertilized egg—into the vast array of cell types such as nerve cells, muscle cells, and epithelial cells that characterize the adult? Throughout development and adulthood, the process of cellular differentiation leads cells to assume their final morphology and physiology. Differentiation is the process by which unspecialized cells become specialized to carry out distinct functions.

A stem cell is an unspecialized cell that can divide without limit as needed and can, under specific conditions, differentiate into specialized cells. Stem cells are divided into several categories according to their potential to differentiate.

stem cell

The first embryonic cells that arise from the division of the zygote are the ultimate stem cells; these stems cells are described as totipotent because they have the potential to differentiate into any of the cells needed to enable an organism to grow and develop.


The embryonic cells that develop from totipotent stem cells and are precursors to the fundamental tissue layers of the embryo are classified as pluripotent. A pluripotent stem cell is one that has the potential to differentiate into any type of human tissue but cannot support the full development of an organism. These cells then become slightly more specialized, and are referred to as multipotent cells.


A multipotent stem cell has the potential to differentiate into different types of cells within a given cell lineage or small number of lineages, such as a red blood cell or white blood cell.


Finally, multipotent cells can become further specialized oligopotent cells. An oligopotent stem cell is limited to becoming one of a few different cell types. In contrast, a unipotent cell is fully specialized and can only reproduce to generate more of its own specific cell type.

oligopotent unipotent

Stem cells are unique in that they can also continually divide and regenerate new stem cells instead of further specializing. There are different stem cells present at different stages of a human’s life. They include the embryonic stem cells of the embryo, fetal stem cells of the fetus, and adult stem cells in the adult. One type of adult stem cell is the epithelial stem cell, which gives rise to the keratinocytes in the multiple layers of epithelial cells in the epidermis of skin. Adult bone marrow has three distinct types of stem cells: hematopoietic stem cells, which give rise to red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets ( Figure 1 ); endothelial stem cells, which give rise to the endothelial cell types that line blood and lymph vessels; and mesenchymal stem cells, which give rise to the different types of muscle cells.

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