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Mark Cuban Says the Best Investment Is Paying Off Your Debt — Is He Right?

Mark Cuban Says the Best Investment Is Paying Off Your Debt -- Is He Right?

Image credit: Invision/AP/REX/Shutterstock via GOBankingRates

Billionaire investor and Shark Tank star Mark Cuban said that the safest investment you can make right now is to pay off your debt, according to an interview with Kitco News earlier this year.

 

“The reason for that is whatever interest you have — it might be a student loan with a 7 percent interest rate — if you pay off that loan, you’re making 7 percent,” said Cuban. “And so that’s your immediate return, which is a lot safer than trying to pick a stock, or trying to pick real estate or whatever it may be.”

Cuban is mostly right: More often than not, paying down debt as fast as possible is going to provide the most value in the long run. And perhaps more importantly, it will do so without any real risk that comes with most investing. That said, each person’s financial situation is different, so it is worth a closer look at when it’s better to pay off debt or invest.

Debt is like investing but in reverse.

One important thing to note is that the same principals that make investing so important also make paying off your debt similarly crucial. As Cuban points out, the interest rate on your loan is essentially like the rate of return on your investments but backward. In fact, many investments are simply ways you’re letting your money get loaned out to others in exchange for them paying interest.

As such, it’s important to keep in mind that as satisfying as it might be to watch your money grow in investments, it’s doing just the opposite when you have debt.

Every loan is different.

Although debt chips away at your net worth through interest, it’s important to note that different types of borrowing do so in very different ways. Every loan is different, with some offering terms that are actually quite favorable and others that can be excessively costly.

An overdue payday loan can lay waste to your financial health in no time, but a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage with a competitive rate can be relatively easy to manage with good planning. Borrowers should be sure they understand what kind of debt they have and how it’s affecting their finances.

 

Focus on the interest rate.

The key factor to take note of when considering how to allocate funds is the interest rate — usually expressed as your APR. Debt with a high APR is almost always going to be better to pay down before you focus on any other financial priorities beyond the most basic necessities.

The average APR on credit cards as of August 2018 was 14.38 percent. That’s well in excess of what anyone can reasonably expect to sustain as a return on most investments, so it shouldn’t be hard to see that investing instead of paying down your credit card is almost always going to cost you money in the long run.

Does your interest compound?

Another crucial factor in understanding how your debts and your investments differ is whether or not your interest is compounding. Compounding interest — like that on most credit cards — means that the money you pay in interest is added to the amount due and you’ll then have to pay interest on it in the future. That can lead to debt snowballing and growing exponentially. So, not only do credit cards have high interest rates, but they also make for debt that’s growing faster and faster unless you take action to pay it down.

However, that same principle can work in reverse. Gains on something like stocks will also compound over time, so there’s a similar dynamic at work when comparing your investment returns to fixed interest costs.

Know your risk tolerance.

Another factor that plays a big part in the conversation is your level of risk tolerance. Note that the question Cuban was responding to earlier was about what the “safest” investment was. For most people, erring well on the side of caution when it comes to something like personal finance just makes sense, and in that case, focusing on paying off debt is pretty crucial.

However, others might decide that the long-term payoffs that are possible make it worth rolling the dice on their future. Borrowing money for investments is common despite the risks associated, with everyone from massive investment banks to investors with margin accounts opting to take a calculated risk that their returns will ultimately outpace the cost of borrowing.

 

Costs of debt are set, investment returns often are not.

One important aspect of understanding the risks involved is that the cost of your debt is usually set and predictable, but the returns on your investments are not. It might be easy to look at the historical returns of the S&P 500 at just under 10 percent a year and assume that it’s worth it to put off paying down debt for an S&P 500 ETF or index fund as long as your APR is under 10 percent.

However, that long-term average does not reflect just how chaotic the markets really are. Sure, it might average out to about 10 percent, but some years will be in the negative — sometimes over 30 percent into the red. Even with bonds — where your rate of return is fixed — there is always a chance that the borrower will default and leave you with nothing.

If you have a variable rate loan

Of course, if your loan has variable interest rates, the equation changes yet again. You could see your interest rate rise or fall depending on what the Federal Reserve does, adding another layer of uncertainty to the decision — especially when it’s impossible to say with certainty which direction interest rates are headed in for the long run.

So, although debt will typically have more certainty associated with its costs than investing, that’s not always the case and variable rate loans could change things for some borrowers.

Don’t forget taxes.

You should also remember that the tax code includes a number of provisions that promote investment, and those can boost the value of investing. In particular, contributions to a 401(k) or traditional IRA are made with before-tax income, meaning that you can invest much more of that money than you would have with your after-tax income that would be used to pay down debt.

That’s especially true when you have an employer who matches your 401(k) contributions. If your employer matches, you’re essentially getting a chance to not just avoid paying taxes on that income, but you’re doubling its value the moment you invest — before it’s even started to accrue returns.

 

Some opportunities are unique.

Another important factor to consider is what type of investments you can make. In some very specific cases, you might have access to an investment opportunity that brings with it huge potential returns that could tip the scale. Maybe a specific local real estate investment you’re particularly familiar with or a startup company run by a family member where you can get in on the ground floor.

Opportunities like this usually come with enormous risks, but they can also create transformational shifts in wealth when they pay off. Obviously, you have to gauge each opportunity very carefully and make some hard choices, but if you do feel like it’s a truly unique chance to get the sort of returns that just don’t exist with publicly-traded stocks or bonds, it might be worth putting off paying down debt — especially if those debts have fixed rates and a reasonable APR.

What really matters with debt and investments

At the end of the day, you certainly shouldn’t opt to invest money that could be used to pay down debt unless the expectation for your returns is greater than the interest rate on your debt. If your personal loan has an APR of 15 percent, investing in stocks is probably not going to return enough to make it worthwhile. If that rate is 5 percent, though, you could very well do better with certain investments, especially if that’s a fixed rate that doesn’t compound.

But, even in circumstances where you might have reasonable expectations for returns higher than your APR, you might still want to take the definite benefits of paying down debt instead of the uncertain benefits associated with investments. When a wrong move might mean having to delay retirement or delay buying a home, opting for the sure thing is hard to argue with.

Which decision is right for you?

Unfortunately, there’s no magic bullet for knowing whether your specific circumstances call for you to prioritize paying down debt over everything else. Although paying down debt is typically going to be the smartest use for your money, that doesn’t mean you should do so blindly.

Putting off paying down your credit card balance to try your hand at picking some winning stocks is a (really) bad idea, but failing to make regular 401(k) contributions in an effort to pay off your fixed-rate mortgage a couple of years early is probably going to cost you in the long run — especially if you’re missing out on matching funds from your employer by doing so.

So, in a certain sense, Mark Cuban is right: Paying down debt is very rarely going to be a bad idea, and it’s almost always the safest choice. But that said, it’s still worth taking the time to examine the circumstances of your specific situation to be sure you’re not the exception that proves the rule.

Source: Entrepreneur – Joel Anderson , 

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The 10 Best Big Cities to Live in Right Now

You don’t have to empty your savings account to afford city living in America—at least not in these locations.

Urban areas offer a gateway to culture or a medley of activities, but they typically come with a high price tag. That’s why MONEY crunched the numbers to find big cities—those with a population of 300,000 or more—with the best of all worlds: attractions, iconic neighborhoods, a relatively low cost of living, and promising job growth.

Here are our top 10 picks for best big cities to live in. (See MONEY’s full 2018 ranking of the Best Places to Live in America.)

1. Austin, Texas

  • Average Family Income: $87,389
  • Median Home Price: $326,562
  • Projected Job Growth (2017-2022): 10.9%

Texas’s delightfully bohemian capital nabs the list’s top spot because of the thriving job scene, coupled with memorable food, music, and a startup culture.

Not only is Austin projected to see a whopping 10.9% increase in jobs over the next four years, but the current unemployment rate of 3% also sits below the national average. The city’s median family income is $87,389, and the median home sale price is $326,562, according to realtor.com. Much of its job growth comes from small businesses and the tech sector—Dell, IBM, and Amazon are some of the biggest employers. Entrepreneurs, take note: CNBC ranked Austin as the No. 1 place to start a business, while Forbes named it one of the top 10 rising cities for startups.

Once you do land a job, you won’t have to worry about how to entertain yourself. Dubbed the Live Music Capital of the World, Austin is bursting with talent and more live music venues per capita than anywhere else in the nation. Visitors flock to the annual South by Southwest festivals, featuring concerts, speeches, and comedy showcases.

And then there’s the food. Restaurant-rating powerhouse Zagat named Austin the second-most-exciting food city in the U.S. last year, thanks to mainstays like Franklin Barbecue and new favorites such as ramen restaurant Kemuri Tatsu-ya, which combines Texan flavors and Japanese techniques for a meal as distinctive as the city itself.

2. Raleigh, North Carolina

  • Average Family Income: $82,021
  • Median Home Price: $263,000
  • Projected Job Growth (2017-2022): 9.6%

Part of North Carolina’s tri-city university hub, called the Triangle, along with Durham and Chapel Hill, Raleigh is home to a relatively young, diverse, and educated population.

Like Austin, Raleigh is a hotspot for employment seekers: Moody’s Analytics projects the area’s jobs will grow 9.6% by 2022. Forbes this year ranked Raleigh among the top 10 cities for jobs, owing in part to its 17.25% job growth over the past five years. And people are listening: There’s been a 13% increase in population since 2010, according to MONEY’s Best Places to Live database.

Your wallet will feel the benefits too: With an average sales tax of about 7.25% and average property taxes at $2,632, the city’s cost of living is relatively low compared with our other big cities.

As the historically significant birthplace of Andrew Johnson, Raleigh is host to dozens of museums, earning it the nickname Smithsonian of the South. The North Carolina Museum of History reaches back 14,000 years into the state’s past, and at the massive North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, general admission is free.

There’s a strong sense of community as well. Every fall, the North Carolina State Fair draws 1 million visitors to Raleigh for a 10-day festival featuring rides, music, games, and crafts from local artists. Tickets cost about $10 for adults and $5 for children.

3. Virginia Beach, Virginia

  • Average Family Income: $82,927
  • Median Home Price: $255,000
  • Projected Job Growth (2017-2022): 2.6%

The living is easy in Virginia Beach, also named one of MONEY’s best beach destinations last year. The area’s unemployment rate is about 3.1%, below the national average, and crime, relatively low among the big cities here, is also well below the national average. Despite an only 4% increase in population since 2010, the area is booming for retirees: The number of people age 50 and over grew 22% over the past eight years. But perhaps best of all, there are 213 clear days a year, giving residents plenty of time to enjoy six major beaches over 35 miles of coastline.

There’s a sandy stretch for nearly everyone, starting with the family-friendly First Landing State Park at Chesapeake Bay Beach. For surfing, head to Virginia Beach Oceanfront, or for a quieter, picturesque view, go to Sandbridge Beach.

The Sandbridge area is also home to Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge, where you can learn about the region’s snakes, frogs, and turtles during a guided nature hike on Bay Trail. Nearby is First Landing State Park, the most visited state park in Virginia, named after the arrival of English colonists in 1607. First Landing offers outdoor activities as well as cabins, a boat launch, and swimmable waters.

Culture vultures won’t feel left out: Renowned symphony orchestras play the Sandler Center for the Performing Arts, and comedians headline at the Funny Bone Comedy Club.

4. Mesa, Arizona

  • Average Family Income: $64,455
  • Median Home Price: $246,000
  • Projected Job Growth (2017-2022): 8.1%

Seeking a sunny city with easy opportunities to escape to the outdoors? It pays to head west.

Mesa, just 20 miles outside Phoenix, has experienced a 12% growth in population over the past eight years and is projected to see jobs increase 8% in the next four years. The majority of new job offerings here, unlike in Austin, are in the investment and manufacturing sectors rather than tech.

Local government leaders say businesses are moving to Mesa, as well as the surrounding East Valley area, for its low tax rate and relative affordability. Average property taxes are around $1,444, the second lowest among MONEY’s big cities, and the median home sale price is $246,000 as of March.

Once you’ve settled in, you won’t have to look far for an outdoor retreat. Mesa gets an impressive 296 clear days a year, and a whopping 115 campsites surround the area. Camping reservations for county parks can be made online as early as six months in advance. You’ll pay $32, including a reservation fee of $8, for a developed camping site with electricity and restrooms or, if you’re a bit more daring, $15 for a site with no amenities.

To learn about the area’s history, visit the Mesa Grande Cultural Park, which preserves ruins believed to be the religious center of the ancient Hohokam civilization, dating back to 1100 A.D. Admission to the ruins costs $5 for adults and $2 for children. For more insight into the Hohokam ancient people, you can check out the Park of the Canals, which features 4,500 feet of an extensive canal system used to farm corn, beans, squash, and cotton.

5. Seattle, Washington

  • Average Family Income: $112,211
  • Median Home Price: $676,889
  • Projected Job Growth (2017-2022): 7.5%

The Emerald City enjoys a growing job market and vibrant cultural attractions but at a cost—the median home sale price, $676,889 as of March, is the most expensive among the cities on this list. But the high price tag might be offset if you could score a lofty job at Amazon, which employs more than 40,000 Seattle residents across its 8.1 million square feet of office space. The company’s dominance has spurred other major tech giants to build their own offices—and poach local employees.

Despite the relatively high cost of living, the area provides plenty of affordable attractions. Nearly 200 wineries cover the region and are ideal for visits. Check out the Charles Smith Wines Jet City tasting room for offerings from one of the state’s largest wine producers. Be sure to also try the famous cream cheese–covered Seattle-style hot dog at Monster Dogs.

To live like a tourist, get a two-in-one ticket to Seattle’s iconic sites: the towering Space Needle and the glass-sculpture garden at Chihuly Garden and Glass. They happen to double as ideal date spots. If you’re young and looking for love, Seattle is the perfect match. MONEY named it one of the best places for millennials and singles.

6. San Diego, California

  • Average Family Income: $91,199
  • Median Home Price: $555,000
  • Projected Job Growth (2017-2022): 4.4%

With 1.4 million residents, San Diego is the most populous city to make the list. It’s also one of the more racially diverse cities in the country, with 40% nonwhite residents.

Head to the east side, and you’ll find mountains and canyons perfect for hiking, mountain biking, and fishing. The area also boasts Las Vegas–style casinos and resorts, including Viejas Casino, home to 2,200 slot machines and an outdoor concert venue. California beaches outline the city’s west side, from mile-long La Jolla Shores, perfect for children and seal lovers, to bonfire-friendly Pacific Beach, often referred to as “the Strand.” And don’t forget to visit the rare giant pandas at the world-renowned San Diego Zoo.

7. Colorado Springs, Colorado

  • Average Family Income: $75,795
  • Median Home Price: $285,000
  • Projected Job Growth (2017-2022): 7.1%

About 70 miles south of Denver, Colorado Springs was recently ranked one of the country’s best tech hubs by the Computing Technology Industry Association. The city will see projected job growth of 7% by 2022, and the cost of living is relatively low among big U.S. cities, according to PayScale.

Skiers enjoy the region’s proximity to major ski getaways like Aspen and Vail, as well as the area’s surrounding resorts, including Eldora Mountain Resort, which offers 680 acres of terrain and 300 inches of snowfall a year.

Here’s a summit for the courageous: the 2,000-foot-high, one-mile hike up the Manitou Incline. Climb all 2,744 steps, and you’ll be rewarded with gorgeous views of the city below. Nonathletic types are welcomed too. The annual Labor Day Lift Off features hot-air balloons and a festival with live music, skydiving demonstrations, and a doughnut-eating contest.

8. Lexington, Kentucky

  • Average Family Income: $74,531
  • Median Home Price: $131,000
  • Projected Job Growth (2017–2022): 4.3%

Good news for potential residents: Lexington has some of the lowest taxes among the cities on this list, with a sales tax of 6% and average property taxes nearing $1,921.

Moving to Lexington means embracing equestrian culture. Nicknamed the Horse Capital of the World, Lexington was the first U.S. city to host an FEI World Equestrian Games, in 2010, drawing half-a-million attendees. Residents and visitors alike can ride horses and ponies at the Kentucky Horse Park.

For a crash course in bourbon distilling, the Town Branch Distillery offers tours and tastings, and one of the South’s best bourbon bars, The Bluegrass Tavern, is home to Kentucky’s largest bourbon collection.

If you’re looking to root for the Wildcats, the University of Kentucky’s basketball team where NBA All-Stars Anthony Davis and John Wall got their start, head to Winchell’s Restaurant for 25 TVs and passionate fans.

9. Jacksonville, Florida

  • Average Family Income: $63,735
  • Median Home Price: $196,000
  • Projected Job Growth (2017-2022): 7.7%

As the largest metro area by landmass in the continental U.S., Jacksonville, like many other cities on our list, claims a growing job market and population. In the past eight years, the city’s population increased by nearly 9%, with a projected job growth of 7.7% by 2022. Those seeking employment, specifically in the tech industry, should head to the area’s growing job market, say ZipRecruiter and Indeed.

Visitors can support the home team by attending a Jacksonville Jaguars game at TIAA Bank Field. The coastal city also features 22 miles of mostly public and dog-friendly beaches. Learn to surf at Atlantic Beach, or brave souls might try a taste of alligator at nearby Mayport’s historic fish camps.

For a combined farmers’ market and artists’ hub, head to the Riverside Arts Market, which attracts thousands of people every Saturday. You’ll listen to live musicians, eat local bites alongside the St. Johns River, and support local artists, all in one day.

10. Columbus, Ohio

  • Average Family Income: $61,513
  • Median Home Price: $185,000
  • Projected Job Growth (2017-2022): 5.7%

Columbus is one of the fastest-growing cities in the U.S.—and in the Midwest—with a population increase of nearly 11% in the past eight years and job growth of 14% in roughly the same period.

Big 10 Ohio State University is the city’s biggest employer, and you can take advantage of the college town’s vibrant culture by attending a football game at Ohio Stadium, which seats over 100,000 people. Following the game, head to the Thurman Cafe and indulge in its massive, double-patty Thurmanator burger for $21.99.

If college athletics aren’t your thing, check out one of the area’s 96 museums, such as the hands-on Center of Science and Industry, or the Columbus Museum of Art, featuring modern and contemporary works.

Methodology

To create MONEY’s Best Big Cities ranking, we looked only at places with populations of 300,000 or greater. We eliminated any city that had more than double the national crime risk, less than 85% of its state’s median household income, or a lack of ethnic diversity. We further narrowed the list using more than 8,000 different data points, considering data on each place’s economic health, cost of living, public education, income, crime, ease of living, and amenities, all provided by research partner Witlytic. MONEY teamed up with realtor.com to leverage its knowledge of housing markets throughout the country. We put the greatest weight on economic health, public school performance, and local amenities; housing, cost of living, and diversity were also critical components.

Finally, reporters researched each spot, searching for the kinds of intangible factors that aren’t revealed by statistics. To ensure a geographically diverse set, we limited the Best Big Cities list to no more than one place per state.

Source: TopBuzz.cum November 19, 2018 6:12 AM

 

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The Best Cities To Own Rental Property In Florida

 

Credit: Getty Royalty Free | Miami Beach. Florida. USA. The Miami metro area is a hotbed for investment property investing.

Florida is an intriguing state when it comes to buying and owning rental property. On one hand, demand for homes — especially single-family homes — has been consistently on the rise in Florida. Yet despite the demand, it doesn’t necessarily convert to more homebuyers. Instead, even though Florida boasts fairly low housing prices statewide, many people are still opting to rent instead of buy. As a result, rental rates are skyrocketing.

Now add into the mix low property taxes and insurance, as well as no state income tax. Great climate and top-of-the-line healthcare are bonuses that help make Florida one of, if not the best, states for America’s retiring Baby Boomer masses.

Here’s a look at the best places in Florida to own rental property and turn a solid profit.

Tampa

Although Tampa home prices have risen in recent years, the city still has plenty of neighborhoods and zip codes where investors can find properties at affordable prices, and rent them out for $1,405 to $1,527 a month on average.

Tampa’s economic prospects really boost the city’s appeal to rental property owners. Tampa’s year-over-year employment growth beat the U.S. average. According to Bureau of Labor Statistics data, U.S. nonfarm employment increased approximately 1.6% from 2017 to 2018, while Tampa managed a 2.3% increase.

Healthcare and social assistance is the dominant employment sector in Tampa. This isn’t a bad thing considering jobs such as home health aides, personal care aides, physician assistants and nurse practitioners all rank among the top-10 fastest growing occupations in the country, according to BLS Employment Projections.

Here’s a breakdown of some important figures to consider before buying property in Tampa:

  • Median list price – All Homes: $312,995
  • Median list price – Condo: $239,900
  • Rent list price: $1,527
  • Median rent: $1,405
  • 1-year job growth rate: 2.3%
  • 5-year population growth: 12%
  • Average 30-year fixed mortgage rate: 4.40%
  • Rental yieldSee rental yields for Tampa

The trajectory of Tampa’s population growth is very conducive to potential future property owners. Since 2013, Tampa’s population has risen by an impressive 12%, one of the highest rates in the country. With a local economy worth well over $130 billion, Tampa is easily one of Florida’s best markets to buy and own rental property. For a more in-depth look, or just to explore, take a look at this interactive map of the Tampa real estate market.

Jacksonville

Robust job and population growth as well as great affordability greet prospective investment property owners in Jacksonville. Florida’s largest city is also home to a first-rate healthcare system, and burgeoning biological sciences sector. The population in Jacksonville has grown about 8% from 2013 to 2018, and 24% since the year 2000. Plus, the median home price is $210,000 in Jacksonville, which is 33% cheaper than the national average, $278,900.

Jacksonville’s average rental yield is among the highest in the U.S. Rent growth is also healthy. The city’s 2.6% increase is better than the national year-over-year average of 0.5%. Specific markets within the Jacksonville metro area, such as Butler Beach, are displaying rent growth rates in excess of 10%.

Here’s a breakdown of some important figures to note before buying property in Jacksonville:

  • Median list price – All Homes: $210,000
  • Median list price – Condo: $134,950
  • Rent list price: $1,250
  • Median rent: $1,345
  • 1-year job growth rate: 3.2%
  • 5-year population growth: 8%
  • Average 30-year fixed mortgage rate: 4.40%
  • Rental yieldSee rental yields for Jacksonville

The reasons for all this growth and development are manifold. Jacksonville’s cost of living is below the national average. And to this is we can add the usual Florida amenities, like warm weather, conducive business climate and no state income tax.

See interactive map of Jacksonville real estate market >>

Orlando

In terms of both employment and population growth, Orlando really outshines. From summer 2017 to 2018, employment increased 4.3%, which is almost three times the U.S. average growth rate. Its population surged by 14% from 2013 to 2018.

The most common employment sectors for those who live in Orlando are accommodation and food service (12.3%), which includes workers of Orlando’s world-class resorts like Disney World and Universal Studios Orlando. Second most common sector is healthcare and social assistance (11.9%), followed by retail trade (11%).

Here’s a breakdown of some important figures to consider before you buy property in Orlando. Also, here’s an interactive map of Orlando’s real estate market to help out.

  • Median list price – All Homes: $285,000
  • Median list price – Condo:$140,000
  • Rent list price: $1,600
  • Median rent: $1,478
  • 1-year jogrowth rate: 4.3%
  • 5-year population growth: 14%
  • Average 30-year fixed mortgage rate: 4.40%
  • Rental yieldSee rental yields for Orlando

Rents grew 2.3% in the last year, which is well ahead of the U.S. overall growth rate. Rent yield in Orlando is markedly higher than in most other cities. Comparatively low home prices combine with relatively higher rent prices to create a city that is especially suitable to owning rental property.

Source: Forbes –
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Here’s how much money you have to make a year to afford an ‘average’ home in the hottest US cities

Business district area of downtown San Jose, California.

Mark Miller Photos | Getty Images
Business district area of downtown San Jose, California.

The median U.S. household now earns about $61,372 a year, up nearly 2 percent from 2016. Still, in order to afford to buy a home in one of the country’s hottest and most expensive cities, like San Jose, California, you’d need to make more than four times that amount.

That’s according to financial website How Much, which crunched numbers from the National Association of Realtors and mortgage-information website HSH.com to determine where it’s most expensive to buy an “average-sized home.”

Researchers found the median price of homes in the 50 most populated metro areas across the country and “calculated monthly principal, interest, property tax and insurance payments buyers have to pay for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage,” says How Much.

They then calculated what salary would be needed to afford each home, assuming a 20 percent down payment and that the total housing payment would not make up more than 28 percent of gross income.

How Much: Annual income needed to buy a home

Based on the data, here are the top 10 cities where you to earn the most money to buy a typical home:

1. San Jose, California

Annual income needed to afford a home: $274,623

2. San Francisco, California

Annual income needed to afford a home: $213,727

3. San Diego, California

Annual income needed to afford a home: $130,986

4. Los Angeles, California

Annual income needed to afford a home: $114,908

5. Boston, Massachusetts

Annual income needed to afford a home: $109,411

6. Seattle, Washington

Annual income needed to afford a home: $109,275

7. New York, New York

Annual income needed to afford a home: $103,235

8. Washington, D.C.

Annual income needed to afford a home: $96,144

9. Denver, Colorado

Annual income needed to afford a home: $93,263

10. Portland, Oregon

Annual income needed to afford a home: $85,369

“Median household income across the United States recently reached a record high, which is great news for workers,” says How Much. “The bad news is that isn’t enough to afford a typical home in 25 out of the 50 cities on our map.” That’s especially true on the West Coast.

“Our map reveals three tiers in annual income workers need to earn to afford a median home. First, the West Coast stands out as by far the most expensive market in the country,” the report says, “with four out of the top four markets in California alone.”

In Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco and San Jose, California, median homes range in value from $618,000 to more than $1.3 million, according to real-estate site Zillow. The U.S. national median home value, by comparison, is just above $216,000.

“Median household income across the United States recently reached a record high, which is great news for workers. The bad news is that isn’t enough to afford a typical home in 25 out of the 50 cities on our map.”-HowMuch.net

“The second tier of expensive locales is along the East Coast,” How Much reports, “led by the familiar hot spots of unaffordable housing like Boston, New York and Washington, D.C.

In Portland and Denver, meanwhile, homes aren’t as expensive as they are in California or New York, but workers would still need to make about $85,000 a year to afford to buy.

Some lower-profile American cities do still offer professional opportunities and good deals. In these three up-and-coming metro areas, for example, jobs are plentiful yet housing is affordable.

No matter where you fall on the map, though, living within your means and employing common-sense budgeting tactics can help you save in the long run. If you’re looking to buy a home, be sure you’re ready to transition from renting and if you’re going to continue to rent, check out these savings hacks and other ways to make your money stretch further.

 

Source: CNBC.com –  

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Five Financial Benefits of Owning Residential Real Estate Investments

Financial-Benefits

 

For the last 25 years, I have been helping families and individuals identify goals, establish a plan and determine a clear vision of their financial future. While a financial plan is a future road map that is normally put into writing, it is also a guideline that is used to track results, and make adjustments when needed. Since this is an ongoing process, there are several areas which should be discussed.

When it comes to investments and cashflow, many financial planners will focus on the Equity, Bond or Alternative markets, but I feel it is important to also be aware of the power of investing in cash-flowing residential real estate in areas of the country which make sense.

An important part of many people’s financial plan is the home they live in. The choice between buying a home and renting is among the biggest financial decisions that many adults make. But the costs of buying are more varied and complicated than for renting, making it hard to tell which is a better deal.

Owning a home is potentially the largest investment most people will make during their lifetime. Many purchase homes with the hope that the value will appreciate, and they will be able to build a sizable amount of equity, sell one day and live off the proceeds after investing in a 1 percent Certificate of Deposit (CD).

Homeownership Tougher in High-Priced Markets

 

While homeownership is great for some, there are segments of the population which find that renting a home and investing instead in income-producing real estate is a better financial decision.

Home-Owners

In many areas of the country, home prices are reaching unaffordable levels for many homebuyers, especially in California. According to an article in the Los Angeles Times, California’s median home price is now $537,315, reflecting a compounded annual growth rate of nearly 10 percent since 2012, according to real estate website Zillow. During the same time period, the median rent for a vacant apartments jumped an annual rate of nearly 5.5 percent to $2,428.

As a result of rapidly increasing housing costs in California, more people are leaving, according to a study conducted by Beacon Economics and Next 10, cited in the LA Times article. In 2016, 41,000 more households left the state than moved in, according to the study referenced in the article.

What this means is that people need a place to live no matter what the economy is doing. Unlike the commercial, retail and industrial real estate markets, the residential rental market (in many areas of the country) is less likely to drop as far down.

Money Out of Your Pocket

So is owning a home for your primary residence a good investment? To answer that question you need to understand that your personal property takes money out of your pocket each month. Every month you have to pay the mortgage, insurance and property taxes. Even if the house is paid off you are still spending money maintaining the house and paying your taxes and insurance. The house is still taking money out of your pocket, not producing income.

While your paid-off house might make your net worth look good, the equity is locked up in the home. If you actually need to access that money, you either need to refinance or sell the house, and then you are back to having mortgage debt or looking for a place to live.

A growing numbers of Americans — millennials, baby boomers and Gen-Xers in particular — are showing less and less interest in owning a home, according to new data from Freddie Mac.

Colorful-Houses

The study released by Freddie Mac Multifamily, found that while economic confidence is growing among renters, affordability concerns remain the dominant driver of renter behavior. The study found that 63 percent of renters view renting as more affordable than owning a home. That includes 73 percent of baby boomers. And 67 percent of renters who plan to continue renting said they would do so for financial reasons. That’s up from 59 percent two years ago, according to Freddie Mac.

Additionally, recent trends indicate that segments such as the millennials and baby boomers are electing to rent where they want to live and invest in a single family residence to create cash flow in another, more affordable market. The following are five advantages to such an approach:

1. Leverage

If you pay 10 percent to 30 percent as a down payment, a bank, lending institution or private party will provide the rest of your funding. That means you can own a $100,000 piece of property for just $10,000 to $30,000.

2. Cash flow

If purchased and managed properly, your property can offer long-term positive cash flow, and this ongoing stream of income you receive from an investment offers other benefits — see below.

3. Appreciation

If the value of your property has gone up, and you decide to sell, your profit is called appreciation. Cash flow and appreciation are two forms of revenue from rental properties. Remember, even though you aren’t buying in hopes of selling to earn a quick profit, you should always have an exit strategy in place.

4. Fewer highs and lows

A cash-flowing property is not subject to the daily ups and downs of the markets. It is typically a longer-term play — as opposed to paper assets or the Equity/Bond Markets, where you can have daily ups and downs of up to 10 percent.

5. Tax advantages

Tax credits are available for low-income housing, the rehabilitation of historical buildings, and certain other real estate investments. A tax credit is deducted directly from the tax you owe. You also get an annual deduction for depreciation, which is typically a percentage of the value of the property that you can write off as an expense against revenues. Finally, in some countries, the gains from the sale of real estate can be postponed indefinitely as long as the proceeds are reinvested in other real estate, known as a 1031 exchange.

Important factors to consider when choosing a real estate market for single family rental property investing include population and employment growth and home value appreciation. When buying single family rental properties located in a different city or state, investors also research purchase prices, taxes, and housing regulations.

Other investors also look at the percentage of the population that are renting. For instance, D.C., New York, and California have the most renters in terms of percentage of the population. Another important consideration is that you want to use the 1 percent rule, which means that the monthly rent generated is at least 1 percent of the sales price of the home. For example, if you have a house worth $250,000, you want to be able to generate around $2,500 per month in rent. This is going to eliminate a lot of areas of the country — in particular coastal California, New York and even some middle-America markets such as Denver, Colorado.

Source: ThinkRealty.com – Glenn Hamburger | 

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Buyers of new condos get twice the space in Waterloo as in Toronto

Cities west of GTA gain ‘notable traction’ in sales in first six months

New condominium buyers deterred by soaring Toronto prices are apparently venturing further afield to Hamilton, Kitchener and Waterloo, which offer more bang for their buck and the promise of new transit links that will improve accessibility.

Sales of new condominiums in these areas gained “notable traction” in the first six months of the year as regional economic activity picked up and Metrolinx moved forward with its $43-billion expansion plans, according to Altus Group, a market intelligence firm.

In Kitchener, sales between January and June rose to 806 units, up 93 per cent from the same period a year earlier, while 262 units were sold in Waterloo, a 51-per-cent jump. Though sales fell more than 20 per cent in Hamilton to 360 units, the city’s condominium market remains one of the most active outside Toronto, suggesting a continued flight to affordability, said Ray Wong, vice-president of data operations at Altus.

 

“The amount of demand in downtown Toronto, especially in the office market, has been well known for the last number of years and with that, demand for housing has steadily ratcheted up,” he said. “As these outlying areas are developed with more infrastructure in terms of restaurants and retail, it’s made them a lot more attractive.”

Those areas offer another powerful draw: the chance to secure a much larger space with a limited budget.

A buyer in Toronto with $500,000 to spend would likely have to settle for a one-bedroom unit of about 521 square feet, said Kruti Desai, manager of national research insights at Altus. But the same budget in Waterloo would secure a two-bedroom unit of 967 square feet.

Those in search of even more space could consider Barrie, Brantford, Cambridge, Guelph, Kitchener and St. Catharines, where $500,000 will buy a two- or three-bedroom unit with more than 1,000 square feet of space, she said.

“Individuals can get more bang for their buck when looking outside the Toronto market,” Desai said, adding that Hamilton, Kitchener and Waterloo are seeing the greatest amount of activity.

Momentum in Kitchener-Waterloo was linked both to affordability and to the economic growth kickstarted by Kitchener’s innovation hub and Waterloo’s Idea Quarter, a growing cluster of startup and technology companies operating in former BlackBerry Ltd. buildings.

Located close to the University of Waterloo campus and a future light-rail station, the Idea Quarter has attracted a range of firms — including OpenText Corp. and Auvik Networks Inc. — that “are now successfully competing for talent against Greater Toronto Area companies, helping stimulate condominium development,” Altus said in its report.

Hamilton, meanwhile, is expected to remain an attractive place to live for professionals working in Toronto, especially those who can take advantage of flexible working arrangements, Altus said.

A spike in new condominium sales in the city during the first three months of the year was credited to Television City Phase I, a 30-storey tower released in May 2017 that has since sold 80 per cent of the units on offer. Phase Two of the project, released in March, had sold 50 per cent of its units by the end of the second quarter.

Source: Financial Post – Naomi Powell August 8, 2018

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OSFI to take new measures to address equity-based mortgage loans

The federal regulator plans to address uninsured mortgages granted only on the equity of the property and loans where the lender didn’t apply other ‘prudent underwriting principles’

OSFI is taking measures to tighten the scrutiny of mortgage lending practices.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

A federal regulator says it will have to take further action to address mortgage approvals by Canadian banks that still depend too much on the amount of equity in a home, and not enough on whether loans can actually be paid back.

The Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions telegraphed the move in an update released Monday on the effectiveness of new underwriting rules it announced last year. Those rules included a new “stress test” for uninsured mortgages, where a borrower makes a down payment of 20 per cent or more.

According to OSFI’s October newsletter, the tweaks were needed after the regulator identified possible trouble spots caused by high levels of household debt and “imbalances” in some real estate markets that could have added more risk for banks.

There have been improvements in the quality of new mortgage loans since the revised B-20 guidelines came into effect this past January, OSFI says, “including higher average credit scores and lower average loan-to-value at mortgage origination.”

But even though OSFI said the new rules “are having the desired effect of helping to keep Canada’s financial system strong and resilient,” the regulator claims more work is needed.

“Although reduced, there continues to be evidence of mortgage approvals that over rely on the equity in the property (at the expense of assessing the borrower’s ability to repay the loan),” the newsletter said. “OSFI will be taking steps to ensure this sort of equity lending ceases.”

OSFI spokeswoman Annik Faucher told the Financial Post in an email that the regulator was referring to uninsured mortgages that were granted based only on the equity of the property — the difference between a property’s value and the amount remaining on a borrower’s mortgage for the property — as well as loans where the lender did not necessarily apply the other “prudent underwriting principles” laid out in the B-20 guideline, such as those aimed at proper documentation of income.

“Sound underwriting helps protect lenders and borrowers and supports financial system resilience,” Faucher said. “Having a larger amount of equity in a property does not mean sound underwriting practices and borrower due diligence do not apply.”

She added that OSFI “has a number of tools in its supervisory toolkit, and when we identify potential issues, we intervene and require financial institutions to implement remedial measures that are commensurate to the risk profile of the institution.”

OSFI said in its October newsletter that there are signs “that fewer mortgages are being approved for highly indebted or over-leveraged individuals.” According to the regulator, the amount of uninsured mortgage originations with loan amounts greater than 4.5 times the borrower’s income has dropped from 20 per cent from April to July of 2017 to 14 per cent for the same period of 2018.

In general, the Canadian housing market has cooled following intervention by regulators and various governments. But OSFI also said it realizes that its tighter underwriting rules might cause some would-be homeowners to use less-than-truthful means to obtain mortgages.

“OSFI recognizes that tightened underwriting standards may increase the incentive for some borrowers to misrepresent their income, while it has also become easier to create authentic-looking false documents,” the newsletter said. “Given that the revised B-20 calls for more consistent application of income verification processes, financial institutions need to be even more vigilant in their efforts to detect and prevent income misrepresentation. This is particularly important for financial institutions that depend on third-party distribution channels.”

Source: Financial Post – Geoff Zochodne October 9, 2018

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