A friend named Bob told me that he knows a guy who owns a shopping mall. I asked him how his friend owns this shopping mall, but he doesn't know how. How does one just own a shopping mall?

I've been told that people buy assets with assets -- but why buy an asset that's worth the same as the asset I gave? Obviously the guy who owns the shopping mall didn't just hand over the money to buy it -- he "acquired" it some other way. If anyone could just buy a shopping mall, what's the advantage of having it then? Clearly you know that what you can get is not what makes you richer.

You get my point, right? An asset that is "acquired" not for the same transfer of another asset is an asset SOUGHT AFTER. Nobody seeks something they already have -- they reach for more. So how do people acquire assets worth more than what they already have? Can anyone help me understand this? Everywhere you look you see someone who owns something worth more than what they had before they owned it. If they had enough money to buy it, that would be no different than having the money, sans business that may bring in more. If they didn't have it, where did it come from? I'd like to own a shopping mall and a bridge and acquire assets, but I can't afford them.

4 Answers 4


Assets can be acquired in different ways and for different purposes. I will only address common legal ways of acquiring assets.

You can trade one asset for another asset. This usually takes place in the form of trading cash or a cash equivalent for an asset. The asset received should be of equal or greater value than the asset given in the eyes of the purchaser in order for the trade to be rational.

Take this example:

I am selling a bike that has been sitting on my porch for a few months. It's worth about $25 to me. My friend, Andy, comes by and offers $90 for it. I happily accept. Andy valued the bike at $110. This transaction produced value for both parties. I had a value benefit of $65 (90 - 25) and Andy had a value benefit of $20 (110 - 90).

You can receive an asset as a gift or an inheritance. Less common, but still frequent. Someone gives you a gift or a family member dies and you receive an asset you did not own previously.

You can receive an asset in exchange for a liability. When you take out a loan, you receive an asset (cash) which is financed by a liability (loan payable).

In your case: Why would I buy a mall if having assets worth the same amount as the mall? I must value the mall more than the assets I currently have. This may stem from the possibility of greater future returns than I am currently making on my asset, or, if I financed the purchase with a liability, greater future returns than the cost associated with payment on the principal and interest of the liability.


Your question seems to be premised on your personal understanding of economics, and asking that people present to you an explanation of business transactions that is consistent with your own personal worldview. But your premises are flawed, so an accurate answer should not accept them. The basics of trade is that something is worth more to one person than another; a wheat farmer has more wheat that they could possibly eat, and so it has no value other than what they can get by selling it, while an accountant will starve if they do not have any food and thus is willing to pay what the market demands. The two parties can both be better off by having a transaction. The other motivation for transactions is that parties may disagree as to what something is worth; even if one party will lose from the transaction, they may both believe they will profit.


You don't start out buying a shopping mall, you have to work up to it. You can start with any amount and work up to a larger amount.

For me, I saved 30% of my salary(net), investing in stocks for 8 years. It was tough to live on less, but I had a goal to buy passive income. I put down this money to buy 3 houses, putting 35% down and maintaining enough cash to make 5 years of payments. I rented out the houses making a cap of 15%. The cap is the net payment per year / cost of the property, where the net accounts for taxes and repairs. I did not spend any of the profits, but I did start saving less salary. After 5 years of appreciation, mortgage payments and rental profit, I sold one house to get a loan for a convenience store. Buildings go on the market all the time, it takes 14 years to directly recoup an investment at a 7% cap, which is the average for a commercial property sale. Many people cash out for this reason, it's slow, but steady growth, though the earnings on property appreciation is a nice bonus. Owning real estate is a long term game, after a long time of earning, you can reinvest, but it comes with the risk of bad or no tenants.

You can start both slower and smaller, just make sure you're picking up assets, not liabilities. Like investing in cars is generally bad unless you are sure it will appreciate.


There are a number of ways someone acquires assets without buying it. People could have inherited assets. They could have been gifted assets. They might have won assets in a lawsuit (unlikely to be a mall, but not impossible). They could have married into the assets. So there's other ways of acquiring assets without purchasing them.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .