As a home buyer, you braved the real estate buying circus when you bought your first home, and you have a great place to show for it. You’ve trudged through the open houses, experienced exactly how stressful closing can be, and dealt with legions of moving trucks. And still, a part of you wants something more: an escape in the mountains, a beach cottage, or a pied-à-terre in the city. You want to buy a second home.
With current mortgage rates at a historic low, you might be tempted to jump in. But beware; buying real estate as an investment property or second home won’t be the same as your first-time home-buying experience. Here are some differences and advice to keep in mind.
First things first: Can you afford to buy a second home?
If you scored a sweet deal on a mortgage for your primary residence, don’t expect lenders to give you the same offer twice.
“Second-home loans generally require more down payment and a better credit score than owner-occupied home loans,” says John Lazenby, president of the Orlando Regional Realtor Association.
You may have to pay a higher interest rate on a vacation home mortgage than you would for the mortgage on a home you live in year-round, and lenders may look closely at your debt-to-income ratio. Expect a lender to scrutinize your finances more than when buying a single-family primary residence.
“Lenders look carefully to ensure that second-home buyers are financially capable of paying two mortgages,” Lazenby says.
Make sure to review your budget with a second mortgage payment in mind, and make adjustments if necessary after you know what interest rate you will receive. And make sure you can afford the real estate down payment—a healthy emergency fund and cash reserves are essential if an accident or job loss forces you to float two mortgages at once.
Evaluate your goals
Understand exactly how you plan to use the property before you sign on the dotted line.
“Buyers should consider their stage of life and that of their children to ensure they are going to actually use the home for the amount of time that they’re envisioning,” Lazenby says. “A family with young children may find that their use of a second home declines as the kids grow older and become immersed in sports.”
If you’re certain you’ll get enough use and enjoyment out of your new purchase, go for it—but make sure to carefully consider the market.
For most homeowners, a second home shouldn’t be a fixer-upper. Look for homes in high-value areas that will appreciate over time without having to sacrifice every weekend to laborious renovations on your “vacation home.”
Buying in an unfamiliar area? Take a few weekend trips to make sure it’s the right spot for you. In the long term, you’ll want it to be a good investment property, as well as a place to play. Pay close attention to travel times, amenities, and restaurant and recreation availability, otherwise you might spend more time grousing than skiing and sipping wine. And make sure to choose a knowledgeable local real estate agent who will know the local real estate comps and any area idiosyncrasies.
Understand your taxes
You may be familiar with a bevy of home credits and tax breaks for your first home, but not all of them apply to your second.
For instance: You might be planning on using your new home as a vacation rental when you’re out of the area. If that’s the case, you need to calculate the return on your investment property purchase price that you can expect over the course of a year. How much can you charge per night or per week for your rental property? How many weeks will you rent out the property? And what expenses will you incur?
“Property tax rules and possible deductions for second homes used as rentals are complicated and vary widely, depending on both the number of days per year that the owner occupies the home and the owner’s personal income level,” says Lazenby.
A vacation home offers more flexibility to buy based on your potential property tax burden—for instance, if you’re looking to buy in an area of high real estate taxes, consider widening your real estate search to another county, which can save you thousands of dollars. Your real estate agent should be able to help you find property you as a buyer can afford.
Lazenby recommends consulting with a tax professional about tax implications, especially if you’re planning on renting out the house.
A vacation home you use part time and also rent out may be considered rental property for tax purposes, depending on personal-use days as the homeowner, and the number of days you rent it out. If you rent out the vacation property for more than 14 days in a year, you must report the rental income on Schedule E of your individual tax return, and you can deduct the rental portion of expenses such as mortgage interest and property taxes. However, renting out your home as a short-term vacation home for 14 days or less in the year means you cannot deduct rental expenses, but the income from your renters is tax-free.
When a series of tax and mortgage rules was introduced in Canada in 2016 to prevent a housing market bubble, activity slowed down significantly in the years that followed. Given the current circumstances, is it still viable to invest in property?
In a think piece in Macleans, market watcher Romana King said even with fears of a global recession, real estate is still a smart way to invest.
“For investors, the key to making strategically smart decisions is to consider the underlying economic factors that impact your investment,” she said.
King said the housing market could climb out of negative growth forecasts this year. Citing figures from the Canadian Real Estate Association, she said the national sales activity was on target to increase by 5% in 2019 and could expand further by 7.5% in 2020.
“Canada boasts strong population growth, and government budgetary decisions are acting as stimulants for the national housing market, all of which point to a healthy future for Canada’s real estate market,” she said.
Investing in real estate, however, is not without risks. For investors, it is crucial to know some strategies to lessen the potential risks, King said. The first is to be aware of additional debt. Investors must keep an eye on their credit scores and pay bills on time.
“Most investors will require a mortgage to purchase rental real estate. This can alter your debt ratios, which can impact whether or not you get the best mortgage or loan rates. Talk to an advisor before applying for new credit or renewing a current loan,” King said.
Another must-have strategy is budgeting. King said investors need to control how much they spend on maintenance and repairs to ensure that their rental properties are cash-flow positive.
“An investor needs to budget for a contingency fund. If the anticipated monthly rent covers all monthly expenses, including a repair fund, then the property is cash-flow positive, which is fundamental for a good investment,” she said.
Getting insurance could also mitigate the risks of catastrophic events.
“Virtually all insurance policies will cover a catastrophic loss of a building, but as a real estate investor, you must also consider the loss of income due to damage or destruction. A comprehensive rental policy will provide a landlord with income to replace lost rent at fair market value,” she said.
Overall, investors need to treat real estate investing as a business. Citing Edmonton-based investor Jim Yih, King said the key to successful real estate investing is positive cash flow, and not just the purchase price and the potential sale price.
Source; Canadian Real Estate Magazine – by Gerv Tacadena 12 Nov 2019
From 1948 to1970, close to half a million people from the Caribbean were invited to what was commonly referred to as the ‘mother country.’ Arriving as British citizens (despite never living in Britain) is a trait rooted in the legacy of the Empire. Whilst there were many reasons for their arrival in Britain, many were seeking superior opportunities for themselves and their offspring. Early settlers spoke about a five-year plan to save money and return back to the Caribbean. Prohibited to find suitable accommodation, many migrants were confronted with signs such as, ‘No Coloureds or Blacks’, which was routinely used alongside the use of ‘No Irish and Dogs.’
Where Caribbean’s were permitted to rent, the standards and conditions of the dwellings were typically unsavoury. Consequently, there was a determination to purchase one’s own properties using a system popularly known as pardner, which involves the collaborating of resources to provide access to funds. This system was particularly useful when banks would not loan to black people. Early settlers from the Caribbean owned houses in what are now some of the wealthiest locations in Europe, such as Notting Hill and Paddington. It was not rare for these residents to own more than two houses that were rented out, characteristically large three or four story Victorian terraced houses. As the decades proceeded, many of these houses were sold due to the owners returning to the Caribbean, or simply moving. Similar trends occurred in Shepherds Bush, Balham and more recently in Dalston, Brixton, Peckham, leaving a decline in property ownership amongst succeeding Caribbean heritage peoples within the UK.
While the cost of properties has been exorbitant in London, where according to the last Office for National Statistics’ (ONS) Census for England and Wales, 58.4% of black people reside, the cost of properties in locations such as the West Midlands (which is said to host the second largest population of black people) at 9.8%, is considerably lower.
Black Landlords UK (BLUK) in Birmingham aims to revitalise the calibre of not only black home ownership, but also the number of black landlords. Founded in late 2017, one of the committee members Garfield Reece revealed how the organization came into fruition. ‘’It evolved (BLUK) from conversations that Rod Shield (senior investor in Birmingham) had during his networking meetings. People were asking him the same questions wherever he went.’’ Some of the questions that Reece cited were ‘’How we got into property management? How to turn a single let property into a high yielding HMO (House Multiple Occupation)? How to resolve issues and conflicts with tenants.’’
Initially, Rod Shield decided to establish a Whatsapp group to address the myriad of questions he was bombarded with and to mobilize the engagement of black people within the community. The Whatsapp group quickly demonstrated the demand for such an organization and according to Shield, “The Whatsapp group numbers exceeded the allowable quote on Whatsapp; well in the excess of 200 investors in the group. So that’s really where it all started.’’ It was during this time that the committee (who volunteer their expertise for free) decided to galvanise all those that expressed an interest in property to congregate in one room. This lead to BLUK’s quarterly meetings; “The first meeting was held back in January this year,’’ declares Reece.
The first BLUK meeting in January 2019 had approximately 50 people in attendance, and numbers have been growing rapidly. At BLUK’s last quarterly meeting for 2019, the committee expect to have 120 investors. “We are giving service providers and businesses within the community, an opportunity to sell and promote their businesses,’’ Reminiscent of a market stall, there will be six tables with businesses each discussing topics such as finance and how to raise mortgages. Half of the meeting will consist of Keynote Speakers, who will talk about the process one has to go through when acquiring property. The other half of the meeting will be dedicated to roundtable discussions, “It will be like mini workshops,’’ states Reece. “Each roundtable is going to talk about a different investment strategy,’’ Reece adds.
The next BLUK meeting will take place on Saturday, November 23rd, 2019 from 14:00 – 18:00 at the Legacy Centre of Excellence (formerly known as the Drum) 14 Potters Lane Birmingham, B6 4UU.
Making money through cash flow versus capital gains
How do you currently make money? By going to your job every day and collecting a biweekly paycheck in exchange for your work? Most people make money this way, because it’s what they are taught to do by their parents or teachers. Also, it feels like a safe and secure path because it’s the traditional route.
Well, what if I told you that there’s another way? Another path in life that doesn’t require you to trade time for money? A path that allows you to follow your passion, achieve financial freedom, and reach your life goals? Now I’ve piqued your interest, right?
This path is precisely how the rich make their money — and it’s not from an hourly wage or salary. Instead, they make their money from their investments. In fact, the best way to make money is as an investor — but the question I’m often asked is: How do you make that money? If your monthly income as an investor does not come from a job, then where does it come from?
Making Your Money Work for You
If there’s one thing the rich do differently than the poor, it’s that they put their money to work instead of working for their money. What does that mean? Their money isn’t just sitting around in a savings account, accruing little-to-no interest, waiting for a rainy day. Their money is being invested — and delivering a return!
Different investments produce different results. The question is, what results do you want?
There are two primary outcomes an investor invests for:
Investor Income #1: Capital Gains
If you enjoy watching those “fix it up and flip it” TV shows, you’re probably already familiar with the concept of capital games — essentially, it’s the game of buying and selling for a profit.
In real estate, let’s say you buy a single-family house for $100,000. You make some repairs and improvements to the property, and you sell it for $140,000. Your profit is termed “capital gains.” Any time you sell an asset or investment and make money, your profit is capital gains. Of course, there are also capital losses (which occur when you lose money on a sale).
The same concept holds true outside of real estate. If you buy a share of stock for $20, and sell it once the stock price increases to $30, that’s also a capital gains profit.
The Problem with Capital Gains
While there is money to be made through capital gains, it’s also important to note the risks.
First, it’s a formula you have to keep repeating over and over again — you have to keep buying and selling, buying and selling, and buying and selling, or the game and the income stop.
Second, if the real estate market takes a nosedive, “flippers”— people who buy a real estate property and quickly turn around and sell it for a profit, or capital gains — can get caught with inventory they can’t sell.
Before the housing bubble burst in 2008, the mindset for many was that the market would continue to go up. So, when the market reversed and crashed, the properties were no longer worth what the flippers bought them for, and there were no buyers to flip the properties to. This led to a record-breaking number of foreclosures, and people simply walking away from homes.
Most investors today are chasing capital gains in the stock market through stock purchases, mutual funds, and 401(k)s. These investors are hoping and praying the money will be there when they get out. To me, that’s risky.
As long as market prices go up, capital-gains investors win. But when the markets turn down and prices fall — something nobody can predict — capital-gains investors lose. Do you really want that gamble?
Investor Income #2: Cash Flow
Cash flow is realized when you purchase an investment and hold on to it, and every month, quarter, or year that investment returns money to you. Cash-flow investors, unlike capital-gains investors, typically do not want to sell their investments because they want to keep collecting the regular income of cash flow. If you aren’t already familiar with my motto, cash flow is queen!
If you purchase a stock that pays a dividend, then, as long as you own that stock, it will generate money to you in the form of a dividend. That is called cash flow. To cash flow in real estate, you could purchase a single-family house and, instead of fixing it up and selling it, you rent it out. Every month you collect the rent and pay the expenses, including the mortgage. If you bought it at a good price and manage the property well, you will receive a profit, or positive cash flow.
The cash-flow investor is not as concerned as the capital-gains investor whether the markets are up one day or down the next. The cash-flow investor is looking at long-term trends and is not affected by short-term market ups and downs — what a great position to be in!
The Advantage of Cash Flow versus Capital Gains Investing
The best thing about cash flow is that it’s money flowing into your pocket on a continual basis — whether you’re working or not. You could be on the golf course, jet-setting around the world, watching Neflix in your jammies, or building a business, and your money is busy working for you. And generally, cash-flow investing is based on fundamentals that aren’t as susceptible to market swings like capital-gains investments, which means that even in bad times, money still flows into your pockets.
Additionally, cash flow is what is known as passive income, which is the lowest taxed type of income. This is not always the case with capital gains taxes, which vary depending on the type of asset you’ve invested in and how long you’ve owned that asset. In some cases, the taxes can be very high.
You’ve decided, for whatever reason, that you want to invest outside of your local area or state. Your next question is—where should I invest?
I’m going to offer you a list of things that you can consider when trying to figure out what market to invest in. These things are in no particular order, and some of them may not apply to you or your particular situation. My intention with each one is to give you something to think about and hopefully some ideas on where and how to start looking for a market that suits your investment needs.
Here we go!
Step #1: Narrow Down Your Market Options
First, if you are brand new to out-of-state investing and don’t have a clue where to start, your location choices are likely going to feel extremely overwhelming. I have two things for you to think about that will hopefully at least get you moving in some kind of direction.
Where do you have friends and family?
Are there any cities where you have friends or family who might be good assets to have on your “team” on the ground? I’m not necessarily saying go into business with your friends or family or make them an official part of the team. But if you already have ties to any particular cities, maybe take a little time to decide if any of those cities might be good ones to get started.
Even if your friends or family there aren’t part of your team, they may be able to occasionally drive by your property once you own it and tell you if anything crazy seems to be going on. It never hurts to have an extra set of trustworthy eyes on an investment property!
Where are other investors buying?
Thanks to technology and the internet (and websites like BiggerPockets!), you can easily and quickly network with other out-of-state investors. Ask people which markets they are buying in, and if they seem friendly and interested in chatting more, find out why they are buying in those markets.
Don’t struggle to reinvent the wheel when experienced investors are already out there succeeding with out-of-state properties. I did secretly throw a keyword in there—experienced. Don’t take just anyone’s word for what they claim to be a good city to invest in. But remember, you’re just trying to get a list started. You can dig into details later as you go along.
Start there. Make a list of the cities that come up when you consider those two things. Again, this isn’t your final list, but at least your list is much shorter now than it was when it had all 19,354 U.S. cities on it as investing options.
You may not have known you had a list of 19,354 cities on it, but if you were starting from scratch, the whole country was a possibility! That would have to be intimidating and overwhelming—and almost an impossible point to start from. Now you have a less intimidating starting point. Related:What Moving Out of State is Teaching Me About Remotely Managing Rentals
Step #2: Analyze Those Markets
So, you are looking at your list of some number of cities or major markets, and now your question is—how do I know a good city to invest in from a bad city?
In my mind, there are only two major questions I ask to determine whether I want to invest in a particular city:
Do the numbers work?
How likely am I going to be able to sustain those numbers?
If you don’t know what numbers I’m talking about, I’m talking about your returns. Returns (aka profits) can be generated in two major ways: cash flow and appreciation. This is at least true for rental properties.
If you are flipping out of state, some of this will not apply to you, and there are some slightly different considerations that you’ll need to incorporate into your analyses. You’re on your own, though, for those—I’ve never flipped, so I definitely shouldn’t be the one to tell you how to rock that method out.
Most likely, if you are wanting to invest out of state, you’re probably doing so because you want cash flow. Most of the investors who invest out of state do so because the numbers locally don’t pencil out. This is often the case in a lot of the bigger markets—Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, etc.
And while those markets don’t usually pencil out for cash flow, they are the bigger players when it comes to appreciation. So, in thinking of anyone who lives there and wants to buy out of state, it’s probably because they want cash flow. See my logic?
Either way, let’s assume you are going after cash-flowing rental properties out of state because you can’t find cash flow locally. If that’s the case, the numbers need to work in the market you choose to invest in. Otherwise, what’s the point?
So, let’s think about the numbers. What kind of numbers do you need to understand when it comes to cash flow?
In addition to the equations in that article, a term you will want to be familiar with is “price-to-rent ratio.” This term compares the price of a property to how much rent it can collect. The reason these two things matter is because they will determine whether you can cash flow on the property or not.
As you saw in those cash flow equations, you need the rental income you collect on a property to surpass the expenses of buying and owning that property in order to have positive cash flow. If the expenses of buying and owning that property are higher than the rent you can collect from the property, you’re in a negative cash flow situation and losing money (on the cash flow front at least).
Knowing this term now, if someone asks you if you’re interested in a particular market for investing, your first question might be—how are the price-to-rent ratios there? What you’re ultimately asking here is—is there an option for cash flow in that particular city?
For instance, I can tell you that hands-down the price-to-rent ratios in Los Angeles are not supportive of cash flow. I can tell you that the price-to-rent ratios in Indianapolis are generally favorable for cash flow. In no way does that mean every property or every location within Indianapolis will cash flow, but it does mean there is an option for it—whereas in Los Angeles, there’s really no option for cash flow.
Now, let’s say a particular market has generally favorable price-to-rent ratios for cash flow.
Oh wait, I just heard you ask—how do I know if a market has favorable price-to-rent ratios? Great question.
The fastest way to find that out is to network with other investors. You can either ask other people where they are investing, which I already mentioned, or let’s say you have a family member in a particular city and you’re curious about whether or not you can cash flow there. Post in a BiggerPockets Forum and ask people if they have any knowledge of cash flow potential in said market.
Look for people investing there, and find out the best places for cash flow there. If all of that fails, start looking up properties and running those equations I taught you, and see if you’re coming out ahead on cash flow.
Let’s say a particular market has generally favorable price-to-rent ratios for cash flow. This is where that second question I asked comes in—how likely am I going to be able to sustain those numbers?
The answer to this question is lengthy, so I’ll just give you one basic thought to consider for now. Is the market you are looking at a growth market or a declining market? The reason this matters is because you can project cash flow numbers until the cows come home, but if certain factors come into play with your property, you may never see a single bit of that projected cash flow materialize.
Bad tenants, for example, can cause you to not see a penny of your projected flow because they can cost so much in expenses—IF they are even paying the rent.
Your list of potential markets should be even shorter now than it was when you narrowed it down from 19,354 cities to either cities you know people in or have ties to or cities other investors recommend. It should only include markets/cities where the numbers not only work but also where the numbers have good potential of sustaining themselves. (That last part is purely my own personal investment strategy preference—it’s certainly not a requirement.)
You may have one market on your list at this point, or you may have a handful. Which one you ultimately decide on may just come down to personal preference at this point—or it may depend on your situation and your resources.
At this point, here are a few more things you can look at.
You just might not have enough capital to invest in all of the good options out there. For instance, I know of some amazing deals in Baltimore and Philadelphia, but those particular deals require a minimum of $90,000 up front.
You may not have $90,000. You might only have $20,000. Well, good news—$20,000 can get you a great cash-flowing property in other cities!
So, for your budget, you may stay focused on one area over another. I used to work with triplexes in both Chicago and Philadelphia. At that time, you could get a good cash-flowing triplex in Philadelphia for $130,000. The triplexes in Chicago at the time were bigger and nicer, and they were around $270,000.
The cash flow on the Chicago properties was higher, of course, but not everyone’s budget would support buying one of those triplexes. But many of those people could get one of the Philadelphia properties. So, more than anything, your available capital may further limit you on where you can invest. This isn’t always the case, but it is a consideration.
This is simply a personal preference factor. For example, some markets like Philadelphia and Baltimore tend to have properties with more of an urban feel. They are often more of the row house-type of structure. Not everyone likes the urban feel, and not everyone likes adjoined buildings.
The other option would be properties with a suburban feel that are free-standing. You can find lots of these in the Midwest. Additionally, some markets offer a lot of multifamily (MFR) options, and some markets only have single-family (SFR) options that will cash flow. So, if you prefer urban or suburban over another, and if you prefer SFR or MFR over another, those personal preferences will steer you toward particular cities and away from others. Related:Forget the Demographics and Focus on Researching THIS Before Investing Out-of-Area
Look! You’re continuing to narrow down your list! Here’s how to further narrow it.
Returns vs. Risk
At the end of the day, some cities and property types will be more risky than others. Even if you are looking within stable growth markets and none of the areas you are looking in are majorly dangerous, some may have significantly better schools than others, etc.
Maybe one market is slightly more in a “gentrifying” stage than another more matured market. It’s always fine to take on a little more risk, but make sure the proposed returns are high enough to justify it. Or if you are more risk-adverse, you may choose to accept slightly lower returns in exchange for staying with a less risky market and property. That’s totally fine as well.
So, you want to have a feel for the returns versus the risk available to you in each potential market and weigh that against where you are on your own personal scale of desire. What’s more important to you: returns or playing it safer? That should help you further whittle down your list.
Ease of Commute
This one may be less significant than others, but it could play a role. If you have narrowed your list down to say, two markets, and those two markets are weighted pretty evenly against each other—which one is easier to get to? If a nonstop, not-too-lengthy flight is available to one and to get to the other would require a couple stops and a longer travel time (which would also probably be more expensive), go with the one you can get to easier!
Ultimately, the most important thing about whichever market you decide on is whether or not you will lose sleep over investing there. Maybe it’s because you can’t stomach your investment property being so far out of reach, maybe it’s because the market is a little riskier, maybe you hate single family homes and really wanted a multifamily. Whatever the situation, go with what will put a smile on your face (and hopefully some cash flow in your pocket).
A quick summary on the steps you can take to help you decide on a market:
Step 1: Narrow down your market options.
Where do you know people?
Where are other people investing?
Step 2: Analyze those market options to further narrow down your list.
Is it a good market to invest in?
Do the numbers work?
Will you be able to sustain the numbers?
Step 3: Choose what you like!
Decide on your personal preferences and see which markets fit those.
Then, once you have your market decided on, go shopping! Even if you only narrowed your list down to a couple of cities, that’s fine. Two cities is easier to shop in than 19,354.
And here’s one last tidbit for you. At the very end of it, no matter how or why you chose the market(s) you did, you need to confirm one last thing. Are you ready?
The last thing that matters is that you can form a good team in the market you choose.
If you can’t find good team members to help you with your property, go to another market. If you don’t have a solid team as an out-of-state investor, you’ll be up that famous creek without a paddle.
If you’ve narrowed your list down to a couple of cities you’d be willing to invest in, choose the one that offers the best team. If you’ve narrowed your list down to one city you want to invest in but then you can’t form a solid team of good people there, start over and choose a new market. You must have the team!
New York City’s reputation as one of Earth’s most expensive—and daunting—real estate markets is well-earned, thank you very much: $1.8 million studio apartments? Check. Full-cash offers everywhere you look? Check. Freakishly competitive open houses? You bet. Welcome to the big time—with the prices and killer views to match. It’s little wonder that housing is top of mind for just about all of the nearly 8.4 million folks who call the Center of the Universe home.
Everyone, it seems, is angling to hit the NYC trifecta: a decent space in a good neighborhood at an affordable price. That’s why it’s so important to get a handle of what’s going to be the next big neighborhood, before it explodes in popularity and prices get out of reach.
To find out which neighborhoods in this bellwether, nationally scrutinized market are seeing the biggest price climbs—and the biggest falls—we teamed up with real estate appraiser Jonathan Miller, co-founder of Miller Samuel. He compared the median home sale prices in all of New York City’s neighborhoods throughout the five boroughs in 2017 and 2018. We included only the neighborhoods with at least 25 sales in both years.
What we found is a city going through churn, much of it due to the flurry of luxury development in some areas that traditionally have had older—and more affordable—homes. Prices go up, an area gets saturated, the luxury stock sells out, then prices go back down. Rinse and repeat. Meanwhile, the megadevelopment causes people to search out nearby areas that might be cheaper.
It’s the NYC circle of life, and it’s accelerating.
“Developers have left no stone unturned and developed wherever they could,” says Miller. “They went everywhere there was an opportunity. And that caused a lot of price fluctuations, especially in more modestly priced neighborhoods that saw a lot of new, high-end development introduced.”
But New York City hasn’t been immune to national trends. The overall market is slowing throughout all of its five boroughs of Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, and “can’t-get-no-respect” Staten Island. The city has been particularly affected by the national tax changes that make it more expensive to own a home in pricier parts of the country, says Miller.
More fun still: This month, New York state’s new mansion tax went into effect, upping the amount of taxes on properties $2 million and up. Sales had been down earlier in the year, but the prospect of giving more to Uncle Sam resulted in a rush of higher-priced home sales. Going forward, the number of sales is expected to fall back down again. Phew … Dramamine, please.
High price tags are pushing many New Yorkers farther out into cheaper communities such as the Bronx, which doesn’t have the hipster cred or water views of Brooklyn. But dollars can stretch way further there.
“A large shift or decline [in a New York neighborhood] is generally not a reflection of weakness,” says Miller. “It’s more of a reflection of … now it’s back to business.”
So which neighborhoods are seeing the largest real estate price spikes? And which expensive communities are getting (a bit) more affordable?
Annual median price increase: 122.7% Median 2018 home price: $612,500
When folks think of the Bronx, the mix of grand Tudors, Georgian Revival estates, and midcentury modern homes and lovely winding streets in suburban Fieldston are rarely what come to mind. Homeowners in this privately owned enclave of tony Riverdale pay property taxes and fees to their property owners association, which maintains the streets and sewers and pays for its own security patrol.
Prices are surging because word has gotten out: Buyers are increasingly drawn to its seductive combo of urban and suburban living. The historically designated community is near top private schools, which include the Horace Mann School and Riverdale Country School. It’s also only steps away from the Hudson River and the 28-acre green oasis of Wave Hill Public Gardens in the northwest swath of the Bronx.
“In Fieldston, you are part of the city but you have the real suburban feeling,” says Chintan Trivedi, a licensed real estate broker with Re/Max In the City. “Here you’re getting a real home, a backyard and a private community.
“For a good house with a larger backyard, a complete renovation, and maybe a pool, you can expect to pay $1.5 million to $2.5 million,” he says. But there are six-bedroom homes listed in the $1 million range. Just tryto get that in Manhattan. (Spoiler: You can’t!)
Annual median price increase: 41.2% Median 2018 home price: $275,000
Just south of Fieldston are the middle-class communities of Kingsbridge and University Heights, where buyers can score deals for a fraction of the price. But the lack of homes for sale and little turnover are causing prices to heat up. And investors are buying up whatever lots and houses they can for new development or rehabbing.
“The Bronx is the new Queens in the sense that there’s been an expansion of demand moving out from Manhattan as consumers search for affordability,” says Miller.
The neighborhood’s become popular with 20- and 30-somethings looking for a reasonably priced community with an urban vibe. Hilly Kingsbridge is filled with century-old, single-family houses and midrise co-op and apartment buildings as well as plenty of shopping, parks, and public transit.
These buyers “are[part of] the new generation that’s learning that real estate should be part of their planning,” says Trivedi. “They want to feel like they’re in Manhattan—a place where they can still go right downstairs and get a smoothie.”
Annual median price increase: 38.7% Median 2018 home price: $1,535,000
Over the past couple of decades, lower Manhattan’s East Village has shed its image as a sketchy, open-air drug market to become a sought-after place known for lively bars, great restaurants, and a defiantly boho vibe—as well as a slew of new, high-priced developments, causing prices to jump. They’re going up everywhere you look.
Annual median price increase: 36.1% Median 2018 home price: $1,226,750
Like the East Village, Prospect Heights has been rapidly gentrifying. Professionals, families, and a few stray hipsters are drawn to its charming rows of stunningly restored early 19th-century, multistory brownstones on tree-lined streets. The neighborhood is near several main subway lines and in close proximity to the 526-acre Prospect Park and the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. It also borders Barclays Center, home to the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets (and soon the team’s new dynamic duo, superstars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving).
In recent years, Prospect Heights has become popular with folks priced out of neighboring Park Slope, a community long popular with upper-middle-class families. They gravitate to the brownstones as well as the new high-rises and the used bookstore, artisanal bakeries, and constant stream of new restaurants.
Not surprisingly, the Prospect Heights neighborhood has attracted a slew of developers putting up luxury condo and apartment buildings wherever they can. Those high-end housing developments are skewing the neighborhood’s median prices up to new heights.
This isn’t the kind of place where you’ll find buzzed-about restaurants—you’re more likely to stumble upon a dollar store than a bougie boutique. It’s a more down-to-earth community, populated by old-school Brooklynites, hipsters, as well as Pakistani, Orthodox and Hasidic Jew, Mexican, Chinese, and Latin American immigrant groups.
Annual median price increase: -40.7% Median 2018 home price: $915,500
Once grim downtown Brooklyn has been booming in recent years. It’s become home to a slew of glassy, luxury high-rises. So why are prices in such a vibrant area plummeting?
Well, now there’s a glut of new construction, giving buyers more negotiating power as buildings compete against one another to lure residents. Plus, builders are putting up towers with some smaller, less expensive units. But in NYC, less expensive is relative. Buyers might save themselves a couple hundred thousand on a million-plus-dollar condo.
But many of the condos here, some designed by famous architects, come with just about every amenity imaginable, including sun decks, hot tubs, dog runs, saltwater pools, and even music studios. This two-bedroom, 1.5-bathroom abode in a 57-floor building is going for $2,040,000.
Some believe developers overshot their market.
“Developers there created a mountain of homogenous product,” says agent Blumstein with the Corcoran Group. Buildings in the area “were built on the thought that people are demanding amenities. But the old-school, prewar neighborhood vibe is what’s in.”
Annual median price increase: -39.3% Median 2018 home price: $3,200,000
Even many lifelong New Yorkers have never heard of the Civic Center neighborhood in lower Manhattan. The tiny community encompasses City Hall and courthouses as well as some high-rise co-op, condo, and apartment buildings. It’s just west of ultradesirable Tribeca, where prices are sky-high, and just below Chinatown, guaranteeing plenty of good Asian eats.
Prices are down because the wave of development has pretty much played itself out, says Miller. Many of the older brick and limestone, midrise office buildings had been gut-rehabbed and turned into pricey condos. That led to a spike in prices. Now that those units have been bought, the real estate for sale is a mix of lower- and higher-end properties.
It’s “run its course,” says Miller of the wave of development in Civic Center.
Annual median price increase: -30.2% Median 2018 home price: $450,000
Like Civic Center, Javits Center as a neighborhood isn’t very well-known—but that’s likely to change. Named for the sprawling convention center on the west side of Manhattan where the community is located, it’s wedged between trendy Hell’s Kitchen and Chelsea and abuts Hudson Yards.
Even nonlocals have probably heard of Hudson Yards, Manhattan’s newest neighborhood, built on a formerly desolate stretch of disused train tracks. It’s a glam (and critics say overly generic) development of ultrahigh-priced condo and rental towers overlooking the Hudson River, complete with its own weird tourist attraction, the beehive-like Vessel. The Javits Center’s proximity to this buzzy development will likely have an impact on sales with prices shooting up.
But in the meantime, prices fell because there simply isn’t much of the first wave of luxury real estate left on the market. Now what’s selling is less expensive, older condos.
That’s likely to change as sales heat up in Hudson Yards.
“Sales [in Hudson Yards] will help to increase values in the surrounding area,” says New York real estate agent Matt Crouteau. The place “was designed so people don’t have to leave.” Ever.
Annual median price increase: -30% Median 2018 home price: $997,500
Just south of the Civic Center is the Financial District, home to Wall Street and the World Trade Center on the tip of Manhattan. Like all of the other neighborhoods on this list, FiDi (as it’s called) experienced a spike in development, then a market saturation.
“It’s not that prices are collapsing,” says Miller. “The early wave of high-end new development drove prices higher. … After that activity cooled, the prices for the neighborhood are less than what they were.”
But there are still plenty of new units to choose from, including this three-bedroom, four-bathroom condo going for $5,300,000. The unit features granite countertops, a waterfall island, high ceilings, and floor-to-ceiling windows. On the lower side of the spectrum, buyers can snag this studio with plenty of closet space for $480,000.
The neighborhood is home to a few cobblestone streets, giving it an old-world charm, as well as the South Street Seaport, a tourist fave.
Annual median price increase: -29.6% Median 2018 home price: $1,550,000
Thank the long-awaited Second Avenue Subway line for prices falling in the upper portion of the Upper East Side, from about 96th to 110th streets. Developers flooded the neighborhood putting up buildings near the new train extension, which opened in 2017 after being discussed, planned, and replanned for nearly a century. They believed—rightly so—that this least fashionable part of the Upper East Side would become far more desirable thanks to its close proximity to the new train line.
“That’s essentially East Harlem, which has benefited from a significant amount of new development,” says Miller. Now development is mostly over and there’s fewer sales.
“You’re not seeing the same amount of high-end [sales], because there’s not as much new housing being introduced,” he explains.
The Upper East Side/East Harlem now has a mix of sleek towers, brownstones, low-rise brick buildings and townhomes, and apartment and public housing developments. This new one-bedroom, one-bath condo clocking in at just 609 square feet, which is near the new subway line, is on the market for $786,161.
Jamie Golombek: The CRA’s ability to hunt you down over your real estate transactions is better than ever; this tax case looks at what constitutes a flip
If you plan on selling a home or condo that you bought fairly recently, especially if you never actually moved into it, be wary as the tax man will be carefully watching how you report any gain on your tax return, lest it be seen as a “flip” and be fully taxable as income, rather than a half-taxable capital gain.
The Canada Revenue Agency’s ability to hunt you down over your real estate transactions has improved thanks to the recent $50-million boost in funding over five years announced in the 2019 federal budget to help “address tax non-compliance in real estate transactions.” The CRA uses advanced risk assessment tools, analytics and third-party data to detect and “take action” whenever it finds real estate transactions where the parties have failed to pay the required taxes. Specifically, the CRA is focusing on ensuring that taxpayers report all sales of their principal residence on their tax returns, properly report any capital gain derived from a real estate sale where the principal residence tax exemption does not apply, and report money made on real estate “flipping” as 100 per cent taxable income.
But what, exactly, constitutes a real estate flip? That was the subject of a recent Tax Court of Canada decision, released this week.
The case involved a transit operator for the Toronto Transit Commission who, along with his brother, bought and moved into a two-story, three-bedroom townhouse in Vaughan, Ontario, in 1999. His brother contributed toward the initial down payment, lived with him and together they equally shared all household expenses, including the mortgage payments. In 2003, the taxpayer’s brother met the woman who would become his future wife, whom he married in April 2007. She moved into the townhouse and they had a child together in February 2008.
Sometime prior to this, the taxpayer and his brother began discussing going their separate ways. The taxpayer testified that he wanted to sell the townhouse and move to a place that was smaller and closer to work. Indeed, in 2006 he found a smaller place, a two-bedroom condo, which was in the pre-construction phase. The tentative occupancy date of the condo was April 2008, but that date was pushed back several times, ultimately to 2010.
Prior to taking possession of the condo, however, circumstances changed. In December 2008, the brothers’ father passed away while in Jamaica, where he lived together with their mother for about six months each year. Following their father’s death, their mother did not feel safe living alone in Jamaica and in March 2009 she moved into her sons’ townhouse. The taxpayer testified that his brother and his family shared the master bedroom, while the taxpayer and their mother each occupied one of the remaining two bedrooms. This living situation didn’t last long and the taxpayer refinanced the mortgage on the townhouse in order to buy out his brother’s share of the property, enabling him and his family to move out.
In August 2010, the taxpayer took possession of the condo and immediately arranged to list it for sale, realizing that it would be too small for both he and his mother. No one lived in the condo in the interim. He sold it in October 2010 resulting in a net gain of $13,412, which the taxpayer reported as a capital gain, taxable at 50 per cent, on his 2010 tax return. The CRA reassessed him, finding that the $13,412 should have been reported as fully taxable income and slapped him with gross negligence penalties.
The common question of whether a gain from the sale of real estate is on account of income or on account of capital always comes down to the underlying facts. The courts will look to the surrounding circumstances and, perhaps most importantly, the taxpayer’s intention.
The judge reviewed the facts in light of the four factors previously enumerated by the Supreme Court of Canada by which these types of cases are decided: the taxpayer’s intention, whether the taxpayer was engaged in any way in the real estate industry, the nature and use of the property sold and the extent to which the property was financed.
The taxpayer testified that he purchased the condo with the full intention of living in it after his brother moved out of their shared townhouse; however, when his father died and his mother wished to return to Canada to live full-time, the taxpayer “changed his plans to move so that his mother could live with him at (the townhouse), which was a larger space.” He testified that since he could not afford to own both homes, he listed and sold the condo shortly after assuming title. As he testified, if not for his father’s death and his mother’s return to Canada, he would have carried out his plan to sell the townhouse and live in the condo as his primary residence.
The judge concluded that the taxpayer’s intention with respect to the condo was indeed to live in it as his primary residence. He had no secondary intention of putting the condo up for resale at the time of purchase.
The judge therefore concluded that the sale of the condo was properly reported as a capital gain and ordered the CRA to reassess on that basis and cancel the gross negligence penalties.
One final note is warranted: while justice was ultimately done and the taxpayer prevailed, it actually took him nine years and three separate visits to court to get relief. The CRA originally reassessed his 2010 capital gain as income back in 2014. The taxpayer filed a Notice of Objection to oppose the reassessment, which was reconfirmed by the CRA in January 2016. The taxpayer then had 90 days to appeal the CRA’s reassessment to the Tax Court. For a variety of reasons, he missed that deadline and ended up in Tax Court seeking an extension of the deadline to file an appeal. The Tax Court denied his request for an extension. He then went to the Federal Court of Appeal which, in June 2017, reversed the lower court’s decision and allowed an extension of time to appeal to Tax Court, which heard the case in March 2019 and released its decision this week.