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Here’s What $280 Trillion of Real Estate Looks Like

Andrew Syrios
2 min read
Here’s What $280 Trillion of Real Estate Looks Like

Visual Capitalist is probably the best creator of financial infographics around. One of their latest productions is particularly interesting and rather humbling, as it charts the entirety of (estimated) world wealth by highlighting each $100 billion with a small square. As it notes (and is rather obvious), $100 billion is a rather large number.

“…The entire annual GDP of Cuba could fit in one square ($97 billion), and the Greek economy would be roughly two squares ($203 billion).

“Alternatively, if you’re contrasting this unit to numbers found within Corporate America, there are useful comparisons there as well. For example, the annual revenues of Wells Fargo ($103.9 billion) would just exceed one square, while Facebook’s would squeeze in with room to spare ($70.7 billion).”

Even still, Facebook’s market capitalization (total value of all their stock) is an enormous $756 billion at time of writing. This infographic was made a little while back when it was just shy of $600 billion. Regardless, look at just how big the tech giants are compared to the rest of the Fortune 500 (Alphabet owns Google).

all the worlds money 2020 01 1

Remember, Cuba’s entire GDP is less than one square. Or to give this visualization even more context, the following can all fit inside a single $100 billion square.

1 square

Chicago’s operating budget is looking rather puny when shown this way.

Following is each asset class’s total value, as well as the source from which Visual Capitalist extracted this information.

syrios VC 2.2

Derivatives having a high-end value of $1 quadrillion may seem rather ridiculous, but it should be remembered that derivatives are bets (put and call options). Since those options are in both directions (some will win when the asset goes up in value and some will lose), that absurd number includes bets that effectively cancel each other out (for society on the whole, not for the individuals and organizations who bought the options, of course).

More importantly for the BiggerPockets audience, however, is the value for global real estate. While the source is different and accurate measurements are obviously difficult, you will notice that they estimate global wealth at $360.6 trillion and the value of all real estate in the world to be $280.6 trillion. Or in other words, real estate is 77.8% of global wealth.

I suspect that is high, but needless to say, real estate makes up an enormous percentage of global wealth.

Visualizing global real estate

When comparing the estimated value of global real estate to basically everything else, it becomes clear as day how much value resides in the land, buildings, and infrastructure around the world.

The value of silver ($44 billion), every billionaire (a surprisingly “small” $8 trillion), gold ($10.9 trillion), the money supply ($35.2 to $95.7 trillion), and all stock markets in the world ($89.5 trillion) pale in comparison to real estate’s value ($280.6 trillion). Only global debt comes close at $252.6 trillion—much of which is attached to real estate with mortgages, trust deeds, and the like. (I am disregarding derivatives for the reasons mentioned above.)

It’s also still amazing that the two major U.S. stock exchanges (the Dow Jones and Nasdaq) still account for almost 50% of stock market value the world over (46% according to this analysis). But while that is interesting, the sheer size of the real estate market is what really jumps out to my real estate-focused mind. And given there’s a gigantic pile of $280.6 trillion in real estate out there, perhaps you should go get some of it!

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Note By BiggerPockets: These are opinions written by the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions of BiggerPockets.