Tag Archives: US Real Estate

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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Flipping Houses for Profit – Tips for How to Flip a House

Several years ago, I became friends with a young woman who was just getting started in real estate. She became a real estate agent, learned about renovation, and made a ton of money flipping her first house. Thanks to some luck and some serious persistence on her part, she ended up on an HGTV show about flipping houses, where she appeared in several episodes as part of an Atlanta investor team.

The show made it look simple: find a cheap home for sale, put some money and sweat equity into fixing it up, then resell it for a huge profit. So I asked her if flipping houses was as easy as it looked on TV.

She laughed and shook her head. “We make it look easy,” she said. “But it’s risky, backbreaking work. It can be fun, but if you don’t know what you’re doing, you’re sunk.”

So how do you know if you’re up to the challenge?

What Is House Flipping?

House flipping is when real estate investors buy homes, usually at auction, and then resell them at a profit months down the road. Can you make money doing this? Yes. Can you make a lot of money doing this? Yes. But you can also lose everything you own if you make a bad decision.

Risk vs. Reward

Imagine buying a house for $150,000, investing another $25,000 in renovations, and then…nothing. No one wants to buy it. You now have to pay for your own rent or mortgage, plus the mortgage for your flip property, as well as utilities, home insurance, and property taxes. You might also have to pay for home staging and realtor fees when the house finally sells. All of this cuts into your potential profit.

According to CNBC, house flipping is the most popular it’s been in a decade, yet the average return for flippers is lower than in previous years. Thanks to a hot housing market that’s raising prices, low inventory, and soaring rents (which drive even more people into home buying), it’s getting harder to make huge profits.

The average gross profit on a house flip during the third quarter of 2017 was $66,448, according to ATTOM Data Solutions. That’s more than many people make in a year, and it lures plenty of newcomers who dream of quitting their day jobs and becoming full-time investors. However, the investors making this much money really know what they’re doing — and even they still go bust sometimes.

RealtyTrac found that in 2016, 12% of flipped homes sold for break-even or at a loss before all expenses. In 28% of flips, the gross profit was less than 20% of the purchase price. According to RealtyTrac senior vice president Daren Blomquist, 20% is the minimum profit you need to at least account for remodeling and other carrying costs.

House Flipping Requirements

If you’re still reading, it means you’re relatively unfazed by the high risks of house flipping. Here’s what you need to get started.

Great Credit

You can’t get into house flipping with lousy credit, end of story. Unless you have enough cash to pay for a home and all necessary renovations, you’ll need some kind of loan. And lending standards are tighter than they used to be, especially if you want a loan for a high-risk house flip.

Your first step is to check your credit report to find out your score. Federal law allows you a free credit report from each of the three national credit reporting companies every 12 months, so this won’t cost you anything. You can get your free credit report from AnnualCreditReport.com or by calling 1-877-322-8228.

If you don’t have great credit, it’s time to start building a good credit score now. Pay your bills on time, pay down your debt, and keep your credit card balances low. There are plenty of other ways to improve your credit score, so take the time to do everything you can. The higher your credit score, the better interest rate you’ll get on a home loan. This can save you thousands when you start house flipping, freeing up more of your money to invest in the house itself.

Last, make sure you know what hurts your credit score. For example, taking out too many credit cards at once lowers your score. You don’t want to do anything to hurt your score in the months before you apply for a loan.

Plenty of Cash

If you want to flip a house, you need cash. New investors get into financial trouble when they buy a home without a sizable down payment, then use credit cards to pay for home improvements and renovations. If the house doesn’t sell quickly, or if renovations cost more than expected, suddenly the investor is in way over their head.

Don’t be that guy. If you want to flip successfully, you need plenty of cash on hand. Most traditional lenders require a down payment of 25%, and traditional lenders are where you’ll get the best rate. When you have the cash to cover a down payment, you don’t have to pay private mortgage insurance, or PMI. Most PMI costs between 0.5% and 5% of the loan, so having to pay this each month can really cut into your profits.

Loans for flips also have higher interest rates. According to TIME, most investors take out an interest-only loan, and the average interest rate for this type of loan is 12% to 14%. In comparison, the interest rate for a conventional home loan is typically 4%. The more you can pay in cash, the less interest you’ll incur.

There are several ways to build cash in your savings account. Use an automatic savings plan to make saving money each month effortless. Or find ways to earn extra money on the side and then use this money to build your cash reserves for an investment.

If you’re buying a foreclosure from a bank or through a real estate auction, another option is to take out a home equity line of credit (HELOC), if you qualify. If you have enough in savings and manage to find a bargain-priced home, you can buy the home and then take out a small loan or line of credit to pay for the renovations and other costs.

What Makes a Good Real Estate Investment?

Not every house makes a good flip. Just because a home is selling for a rock-bottom price doesn’t mean you can put money in it and automatically make a fortune. Successful flippers are very discerning about the homes they choose to invest in. Here’s what should you look for in a potential house flip.

Great Location

Expert house flippers can’t stress this enough. Find a home in a desirable neighborhood or one that’s on its way up. You can improve a house all you want, but it’s next to impossible to improve the personality and safety of a neighborhood on your own.

Start by researching local cities and neighborhoods. Look for areas with rising real estate sales, employment growth, and other indications the town is thriving. Avoid neighborhoods with a high number of homes for sale; this could be a sign of a depressed local economy or a sign that neighbors are leaving due to crime or development.

Next, research the safety of each neighborhood you’re considering. Homes located in or near high-crime areas will be next to impossible to sell at a profit. Use crime mapping services like Crime Report and Spot Crime to find out what’s happening in the neighborhood. You’ll also want to check the National Sex Offender Public Website to see if any registered sex offenders live near the home.

According to Fortune, in 2016, flippers in the following cities saw gross profits of 80% or more of the price they paid for their homes:

  • East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania (212.1%)
  • Reading, Pennsylvania (136.4%)
  • Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (126.8%)
  • Flint, Michigan (105.8%)
  • New Haven, Connecticut (104.8%)
  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (103.7%)
  • New Orleans, Louisiana (97.6%)
  • Cincinnati, Ohio (88.5%)
  • Buffalo, New York (85.1%)
  • Cleveland, Ohio (83.8%)
  • Jacksonville, Florida (81.8%)
  • Baltimore, Maryland (80.8%)

That said, there are also some markets that show signs of over-investment. This means inventory is so low and demand is so high that flippers are paying above-market prices for homes, which can drastically reduce net profit. According to Fortune, these ultra-hot markets include:

  • San Antonio, Texas
  • Austin, Texas
  • Salt Lake City, Utah
  • Naples, Florida
  • Dallas, Texas
  • San Jose, California

If you’ve found an affordable home in a neighborhood that’s on its way up, your next step is to research the local schools. Homes in good school systems sell faster, and command higher prices, than homes in mediocre or poor school systems. Use websites like GreatSchoolsSchoolDigger, and Niche to see rankings and reviews of local schools.

When considering an investment home’s location, you also need to think about its proximity to your primary residence. Remember, you’ll be working on this house daily in the weeks and months to come. Don’t invest in a house too far away from where you live or work; you’ll spend more money on gas and it will take longer to fix up.

Sound Condition and the Right Renovations

If you’ve ever done a home renovation project, you know some nasty surprises can be lurking just below the surface. And nasty surprises like black mold or a cracked foundation can ruin you financially.

Look for structurally sound homes, especially if you’re considering buying an older home. You may not have the opportunity to have a home inspected, especially if you buy it at a real estate auction. So you need to learn what to look for or bring someone knowledgeable about building, electric, and plumbing to look at the home with you and determine if it’s a good buy.

Focus on homes that only need some quick updates to resell.  Refinishing kitchen cabinets, adding new hardware, fixing up the yard, and updating paint and carpeting are all relatively inexpensive projects that can transform a home.

What should you avoid? A house that has mold, needs a roof replacement, or needs rewiring will require some serious time and cash to update and sell. Make sure you know which updates and repairs you can afford to make, which repairs you can’t afford, and which home improvements will increase the selling price of the house. Bear in mind that some home improvement projects can decrease resale value.

When you estimate the cost of any job, experts advise adding 20% to the final total as it will always cost more than you think it will.

Last, when considering a home, don’t forget to factor in the cost of building permits. These can cost anywhere from a few hundred up to several thousand dollars, depending on the type of work involved and the city you’re in. Not accounting for permit costs is a rookie mistake that can quickly ruin your renovation budget.

Market Value

Make sure the price of the home is below its value on the local market. Try to buy the worst house in a great neighborhood, versus the best house in a lousy neighborhood. The worst house in a great neighborhood has nowhere to go but up in value, due to the value of the other homes in the area.

Although you can search the web and see millions of foreclosed homes for sale, never buy a home without seeing it in person. This is the biggest mistake new flippers make. Keep in mind that an online photo gallery only tells part of the story. Out-of-date photos, awful neighborhoods, and black mold are just a few of the horror stories of foreclosed homes found online. Always investigate a property yourself before you decide to buy.

When you buy a home to flip, it’s important not to over-value the home by investing too much in renovation. You want to improve it just enough to make a healthy profit and keep it on par with what’s selling in the neighborhood. If you put too much into the home, you won’t make your money back.

home made from wood with word written market value

How to Flip a House

If flipping were as easy as finding a cheap house online, buying it, and selling it for a profit, we’d all be real estate billionaires. You must educate yourself before you even start looking at homes. Here’s what you need to know.

1. Learn Your Market

First, research your local real estate market. Where do people want to live right now? What kind of house do people want to buy right now? Don’t speculate about up-and-coming neighborhoods. Remember, you want this house sold fast.

2. Understand Your Finance Options

Next, become an expert on home financing options. Will you buy a house with cash? Will you apply for a home mortgage loan or take out a HELOC? Make sure you understand the ins and outs of home financing before you apply for a loan or make an offer on a house. This will allow you to make the best decision for your circumstances.

3. Follow the 70% Rule

Analyze how much house you can afford and how much you can afford to lose on any deal. Experienced flippers follow the 70% rule when analyzing how much they’re willing to pay for a house. This rule states that investors should pay no more than 70% of the after repair value (ARV) of a property minus the cost of the repairs needed.

Let’s say a home’s ARV (or value after necessary repairs) is $200,000, and it needs $30,000 in repairs. The 70% rule states that you should pay no more than $110,000 for this home:

$200,000 (ARV) x 0.70 = $140,000 – $30,000 (repairs) = $110,000

This rule is a good guide to follow when you first get into house flipping as it can help you avoid overpaying for a home.

4. Learn to Negotiate

The less money you invest in a house, the more money you can earn during the flip. Good negotiation strategies will help you effectively haggle with contractors and other workers.

5. Learn How Much Average Projects Cost

Do you know how much it costs to recarpet a 1,000-square-foot home? Rewire a house? Build a deck? Landscape a yard?

Every project is different, but with some experience, you can learn how to estimate the costs of many home renovations and get an idea if a particular home is a good buy or not. One of the best ways to build your experience with this is to do some renovations on your own home. This can also give you a general idea of the type of projects you like to do and which projects you’re better off hiring out.

Know which home improvements increase a home’s value and focus on these projects first. These might include upgrading kitchen appliances, repainting the home’s exterior, installing additional closet storage space, upgrading the deck, and adding green energy technologies.

6. Network with Potential Buyers

Network extensively and talk to potential buyers before you even start looking for a house to flip. Do whatever you can to build relationships with future buyers. If you have a buyer lined up when you purchase an investment home, the home sells as soon as the updates are completed.

You can also save money long-term if you take the time to get your realtor’s license, which will enable you to broker your own deals and avoid paying another agent.

7. Find a Mentor

If you know a successful house flipper, ask if they’d be willing to mentor you. You might even want to consider offering this person an incentive to be your mentor.

For example, ask if they’ll mentor you in exchange for a small percentage of your first successful flip. This way the mentor is motivated to tutor you, and you’ll be sure to get a high-quality education. Offering a financial incentive also enables you to approach experts you don’t know personally since being compensated for their efforts will make them more receptive.

8. Research Listings and Foreclosures

Many websites provide foreclosure listings. Some of the most popular include:

You can also find foreclosure listings through real estate company websites like Re/Max. Under search filters, select the option for “foreclosures.”

Your local newspaper is another source of foreclosure listings. Legitimate auctioneers put notices in the legal section of local papers, and you can usually find their specific listings by visiting their websites.

Another way to find foreclosures is through a bank. Search for a particular bank along with the letters “REO,” which stand for “Real Estate Owned.” This simply means that the homeowner no longer owns the home; the bank does. This search will take you directly to each bank’s foreclosure listings.

Once you find a home you want to buy, check out its background with BuildFax. For $39, BuildFax provides a comprehensive background check on a home. You can review extensive details about the home’s history, including repairs, remodeling, and additions. This can help save you money.

For example, let’s say you want to buy a home whose listing indicates its furnace was replaced 10 years ago. When you run a report on BuildFax, you learn the furnace is closer to 20 years old. You can now go back to the seller and negotiate a much lower price.

9. Make an Offer

Once you find a home you like, it’s time to make an offer. If it’s a great house selling for a low price, you might have competition. For many flippers, flipping is a full-time job, and they will likely know about this house too. You can sneak by the competition by targeting a neighborhood and going door-to-door making offers.

Before you make an offer, make sure you know the highest price you can pay for a house and still make a profit. This includes your estimate for repairs, interest, and taxes. Remember to pad your estimate by 20%. If the homeowner or bank won’t sell to you for this price, walk away. It’s better to keep looking than risk going broke from a bad investment.

10. Find Good Contractors

If you have some solid DIY skills, you might opt to do some or most of the renovations yourself. This can save you a significant amount of money – if you know what you’re doing.

Knowing when to DIY and when to hire a contractor is crucial. You should only tackle projects you’re sure you can do well and on budget. For projects you can’t do on your own, you need to find a great contractor.

A general contractor, or GC, is a building professional who manages the whole renovation project and hires their own subcontractors to do the necessary work. Hiring a GC can be expensive; they’ll add 10% to 20% onto what their subcontractors charge when calculating your final bill. However, they can be worth their weight in gold if you find a great investment opportunity, can’t do the work yourself, and are willing to incur the extra expense.

A good contractor can help you avoid costly renovation mistakes and save you a significant amount of time on a project. This means you can get the house up for sale faster and make fewer mortgage payments. If you’re flipping a house while working a full-time job, hiring a GC is probably a necessity; someone has to be available at the house to oversee the work at least part-time, or the project will never get done.

A general contractor will also be in charge of obtaining the necessary building permits. This means their name will be on every permit, and they’re responsible for making sure the job is done right for every inspection. Make sure to apply for permits as soon as the sale is final to save time and get the process moving.

Start building a network of contractors you trust, including plumbers, electricians, and landscapers. Services like Angie’s ListPorch, and HomeAdvisor can help you find reliable professionals in your area. When you interview a contractor, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Did they arrive on time? Contractors who are habitually late will waste your time and slow up your renovation project.
  • Do they have quality references? Ask for references and call them. If a contractor doesn’t provide references, don’t waste your time dealing with them.
  • Did they reschedule your appointment multiple times? Again, if they have a problem with time management, it will affect your renovation.
  • Are they organized? Disorganization wastes time.
  • Can they supply a professional, accurate bid? Any bid they provide should be detailed and on paper. A verbal quote and a handshake won’t cut it with a flip, at least at the beginning of a relationship when you’re just learning whether you can trust this person.

It’s a smart idea to start building a network of quality contractors before you make an offer on a house. Remember, it can take a long time to find good help, and you don’t want to start this process after you invest in a home and are making two mortgage payments each month.

Keep in mind that most experienced flippers try to have a home bought, renovated, and relisted in 90 days. That’s a quick turnaround time, and for your first few flips, it might be out of reach. But the longer your home is tied up in projects, the less profit you stand to make; that’s why it’s so important to carefully weigh whether you should do the work yourself or hire help. Doing it yourself might save you money upfront, but if it takes you three times longer than a professional, it might not be worth it.

11. Relist and Sell

Many flippers end up listing their homes with a realtor. Realtors eat and sleep real estate, have access to buyers, and can list your house in the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) database. They also know the current market fluctuations and have the skills and network to get you the best price quickly.

You can also choose to sell your house yourself. You’ll save money in realtor fees, but in some markets, you might end up waiting a long time for the house to sell. In addition, listing and showing a house takes time. If you can’t be available every time someone wants to see the house and you don’t want to host open houses, working with a realtor might be the best choice for you.

Final Word

There’s no doubt that flipping houses is a risky business. If you make smart decisions, you can make a lot of money flipping. But you can also lose everything if you make a bad investment.

Before you get into the world of house flipping, do your research to make sure it’s right for you. Books like “The Flipping Blueprint: The Complete Plan for Flipping Houses and Creating Your Real Estate-Investing Business” by Luke Weber can tell you everything you need to know to get started and avoid some rookie mistakes.

Have you ever flipped a house? What was your experience like? What do you wish you’d done differently?

Source: Home Value Plus – By Heather Levin  May 23, 2018  –  

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Calling in the pros – Implementing a successful property management

Implementing a successful property management system is vital to the longevity, health and overall profitability of your growing portfolio of investment properties. Property management systems come in all different shapes and sizes, and can be completely tailored to your specific portfolio needs and wants. Rather than examining these different systems, which could take up an entire magazine, I want to explore three ways to increase your ROI by taking advantage of professional property management.

1. Set realistic expectations from day one
In my view, hiring a professional property manager is very similar to hiring an employee. You wouldn’t give a new hire a vague description of their tasks and responsibilities and then let them manage their job any way they want. You would give your employee a clear definition of their role and show them the kind of results you expect.

The same is true when engaging a property manager for the first time. The following are five simple questions to ask your PM – and yourself – as you’re working out the relationship. If everyone can answer every question definitively, you know you’re on the right track:

  • What is needed?
  • Who is doing what?
  • When will it be done?
  • How will it be done?
  • How much will it cost?

This may seem like a lot of work when you’re just getting started, but completing the above exercise will eliminate the roadblocks, misunderstandings and accidents associated with starting a new professional relationship, and will ultimately improve your ROI.

A professional PM will usually have all these roles pre-defined in their contract, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be challenged or negotiated to better suit your needs. Communicate above and beyond to maximize your results.

2. Hire a superintendent
This can be a hot topic depending on who you talk to – some investors dismiss the idea of hiring a super outright, and some absolutely can’t operate without theirs. I believe that if handled correctly, using a superintendent can be an effective management strategy for a medium to large building, especially if done in tandem with professional property management.

The greatest advantage of superintendents is that they live on site. This is extremely convenient when small issues arise that need immediate attention, like a spill in the hallway that needs cleaning or a tenant who needs to give you cash. For small, more regular tasks like mopping hallways and shovelling walkways, a super is usually the most cost-effective and efficient method. In my experience, waiting for your PM to deal with small items can take too long and not be as cost-effective.
I prefer my super to have a smaller role, meaning my PM handles all maintenance calls from tenants, major renovations, rent collection, tenant placement and regular reporting to me. It’s important to ensure the super is not impeding the job of your PM and vice versa. Each have their roles and should be complementary to each other. The PM is in charge, and the super is there to assist when needed, along with tending to a short list of responsibilities.

This PM-plus-super system frees up more time for me to focus on strategy, grow my portfolio and create value in my current assets. My accountant also appreciates the efficient system, as we save a fair amount of money on minor property maintenance with a super in place.

3. View property management as a service, not an expense
This is more of a way of thinking than an operational guideline. This particular piece of advice stems from years of wrestling with the same question over and over with my group of investors: “Paul, I like the property, and the numbers make sense to me, but when you factor in the cost of property management, the cash flow decreases, and the numbers are just average or below par. What do you think?”

There is no way to avoid the cost of property management. Either you are going to engage a professional to do it for you and pay for it out of the property’s cash flow, or you will handle the property management all on your own. You may think this will save you money or make your property more profitable. If you have spare time and energy and want to learn the business, I would encourage you to take on the PM responsibilities. However, if you’re busy with your career, family and lifestyle, like many of us are, by taking on the day-to-day management of your properties, you’re doing yourself a massive disservice.

Whether you pay a professional PM or not, it’s still going to cost you the same or more. By taking on the PM role, you’re going spend your own time, energy and gasoline and take away quality time for other activities you could be pursuing, like spending time with your family, getting some exercise (mowing the lawn doesn’t count), reading a book or sleeping. This may not sound like traditional ROI, but since most investors get into real estate to improve their lives, not just their bank balances, finding a good property manager will provide these other, highly attractive returns.

You cannot avoid the cost of property management. You either pay in dollars or you pay in your own time and energy. Either way, it must be done properly.

Source: Canadian Real Estate Wealth Magazine –  Contributor 14 Nov 2017

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Major mistakes investors make when buying U.S. real estate

 

There are still opportunities to take advantage of U.S. real estate, according to one veteran who has penned a guide for Canadians interested in purchasing property down south.

“The number one mistake is they don’t own it the way they need to own it based on their circumstances. For example, they may own it as a Canadian corporation; well, that’s perfectly legitimate in Canada but owning real estate in that way in the U.S. causes double taxation,” Dale Walters, author of Buying Real Estate in the US: The Concise Guide for Canadians, told Canadian Real Estate Wealth. “If you get a U.S. advisor, they may recommend they use an LLC. Hopefully the word is out now that in Canada that would cause double taxation.”

Walters’ book focuses a great deal on tax implications for Canadians who purchase real estate down south as well as information on the best way to own a property.

“The book is informational; it’s a tax book primarily. How do you own real estate in the U.S., what’s the proper way of owning it, the options, what are the tax consequences of the various ways of owning it because each way is a different tax outcome,” he said. “How do you deal with rental income and what are the tax consequences of that. You’ve got potential liability issues, how to protect yourself, non-resident estate tax potential – all of those things I cover.”

It can be daunting to purchase real estate overseas, but Walters argues there are still opportunities for all different kinds of investors; including deals for those looking to own vacation properties, become full-time landlords, and those interested in commercial properties.

There are also various markets that provide different risk profiles.

Walters believes there are two major reasons Canadians are still interested in U.S. real estate: Diversification and the availability of bargains.

“The usual markets that have market appreciation potential which would be, generally speaking, the sun belt. Southern California, Arizona, Texas, and Florida, primarily,” Walters said. “If you’re looking at some higher-risk, possibly higher opportunity, you still have places like Detroit and places like that.”

Source: Real Estate Wealth –by Justin da Rosa26 Oct 2016

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HIGH NET WORTH – Why the wealthy are heavily focused on real estate

Real estate averages 27 per cent of the investments of the ultra wealthy. (Sheldon Kralstein/Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Real estate averages 27 per cent of the investments of the ultra wealthy.
(Sheldon Kralstein/Getty Images)

With markets roiling in 2016 and commodities lingering in low-price limbo, the holdings of high-net-worth investors can serve as indicators of where the rest of us might consider parking our nest eggs. It turns out that a good chunk of wealthy peoples’ investments is in real estate.

“Real estate is generally accepted as an alternative investment [by high-net-worth investors],” says Simon Jochlin, portfolio analytics associate at StennerZohny Investment Partners, part of Richardson GMP in Vancouver.

“It has the characteristics of an inflation hedge: yield, leverage and cap gains. It does well in upwardly trending markets, it pays you to wait during market corrections and typically it lags equities in market declines – it buys you time to assess the market.”

While the definition of high net worth can be flexible, in Canada and the United States it is generally considered to be someone who has at least $1-million in investable assets.

Thane Stenner, StennerZohny’s director of wealth management and portfolio manager, says a good way for determining what the wealthy do with their investments is to look at reports from Tiger 21, an ultra-high-net-worth peer-to-peer network for North American investors who have a minimum of $10-million to invest and want to manage their capital carefully.

Every quarter the network surveys its members, who number about 400 members across Canada and the United States. Some of the participants are billionaires, and most have a keen eye for business, Mr. Stenner says.

Though the Tiger 21’s Asset Allocation Report for the fourth quarter of 2015 found that its members were becoming cautious about Canadian real estate, they still on average put 27 per cent of their investment into real estate, the largest portion of their allocations. The next largest were public equities (23 per cent) and private equity (22 per cent) with smaller percentages going to hedge funds, fixed income, commodities, foreign currencies, cash and miscellaneous investments.

The real estate portion declined by 1 percentage point from the previous quarter. “While this is the lowest we have seen this year, it is at the same level observed in the fourth quarter of last year, which consequently was the high of 2014,” the report said.

“Real estate is very popular and one of the reasons, in my opinion, is that investors can actually see and touch their investment,” says Darren Coleman, senior vice-president and portfolio manager at Raymond James Ltd. in Toronto.

In his experience, real-estate investors, wealthy or otherwise, seem to behave with more logic than those who focus on markets. “For example, if you own a rental condo, and the one across the hall goes on sale for 30 per cent less than you think it’s worth, you wouldn’t automatically put yours on the market and sell, too, because you think there is a problem. Indeed, you may actually buy the other condo,” he says.

“And yet when a stock drops on the market, instead of thinking of buying more, most people automatically become fearful and think they should sell.”

Real estate also allows for considerable leverage, Mr. Coleman adds: “Banks love to lend against it. Over time, this lets you own a property with a much smaller investment than if you had to buy all of it at once.”

At the same time, Mr. Jochlin says there are disadvantages to real estate that investors should beware of. Property is not particularly liquid, so if you need to sell you could be stuck for a while.

“It’s also sensitive to interest rates and risks from project development,” he says. There are administrative and maintenance costs, and an investor who buys commercial rental property will be exposed to the ups and downs of the entire economy – look at Calgary’s glut of unleased office space, for example.

“Timing is key. You do not want to chase the performance of a hot real estate market,” Mr. Jochlin says.

“Buying at highs will significantly reduce your overall return on investment. You want to buy in very depressed markets at a discount. In other words, look toward relative multiples, as you would an equity.”

As to how one goes about investing in real estate, Mr. Jochlin says it depends. The factors to consider include determining whether your investment objective is short- or longer-term, your liquidity requirements, your targeted return and whether you have any experience as a real estate manager.

“Sophisticated high-net-worth investors have a family office, and thus a specialist to manage their real estate assets,” he says.

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How the rich buy real estate

The wealthy don’t necessarily buy and sell real estate the same way ordinary investors do, says Mr. Stenner. Ordinary people buy something and hope that when they sell it they’ll get a better price. Meanwhile, they like to do things like live on the property or rent it out, whether it is residential or commercial. If it is vacant land they might build something. Not always so for high-net-worth (HNW) investors, Mr. Stenner says. While everyone who invests hopes their investment will rise, Mr. Stenner says that in real estate, HNW people tend to fall into four categories:

Developers

“The real estate developer is looking for substantial returns from individual/basket real estate projects, typically 30-50 per cent IRRs [internal rates of return],” Mr. Stenner says. Developers are highly experienced investors who often take big risks, looking at a raw, undeveloped property and envisioning what it could look like with, say, a shopping mall or office tower. This requires lots of access to capital and a strong stomach, as there can be huge delays and setbacks.

Income Investors

“These HNW investors typically look for a stable, secure yield, tax-preferred in nature and structure if possible, with modest capital growth potential,” Mr. Stenner says. They take the same businesslike approach to property as the developer-types, but they’re more conservative, focusing on cash flow and long-term profit as opposed to getting money out after a development is complete. Often they’re building a legacy that they hope to pass down through generations. Mr. Stenner says lower net worth people can emulate income investors, for example, through REITs that are based on apartment buildings.

Opportunists

These HNW investors tend to look for more short-term higher risk, higher return “asymmetric” payoffs. Income from the investment or project is secondary — they’re in it for the quick buck. Often they see real estate in contrarian terms – investments to look at when the market is low and to sell on the way up, rather than hold. After 2008, many HNW investors bought up depressed-price housing in the U.S. Sunbelt. The sizzling Vancouver and Toronto markets might be the opposite of what they’re looking for right now; commercial property in the stagnant Canadian economy that can be purchased for low-trading loonies right now might be more interesting.

Lenders

This refers to HNW investors who lend capital to developers or opportunistic investors, for a fixed return, plus as much asset coverage from the property as possible. They fund mortgages, invest in real estate financing pools or put money into companies involved in this type of investment. “Because wealthier investors tend to have more liquidity, this also creates more optionality to deploy capital in various ways, while using the real estate as collateral or protection,” Mr. Stenner says.

Being a lender is a way to diversify. In addition, money lent in this way puts the lender high up in the creditor line if something goes wrong. If things go right, it generates income as the mortgage is paid back to the HNW investors or the funds they buy into.

Source: DAVID ISRAELSON Special to The Globe and Mail Published Thursday, Feb. 18, 2016

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Have you committed one of the seven deadly sins?

No, I’m not referring to gluttony, wrath, or sloth. I’m talking about the Seven Deadly Sins of Real Estate Investing.

Ok, maybe they aren’t physically deadly – but they are possibly catastrophic to your business.

If you are concerned about the health of your investments, make sure to steer clear from these seven sins:

  1. Buying Based On Future Value
    Also known as “pro forma” numbers, many investors buy property based on what it “could” be worth, not what it is worth. Real estate agents are especially known for emphasizing the future possible value (they are the eternal optimists) but neglecting the facts on the ground. Make sure you don’t fall victim to this sin and always know exactly what the current value is and don’t buy anything for what could be.
  2. Blindly Following A Guru
    Real estate investing is not a system. Anytime I see that phrase I cringe just a little bit. The typical real estate guru would have you believe that by simply following a step-by-step system you can make millions in real estate. Millions can be made, but its not by following a system – it’s from following your brain. Investing is about solving problems, and if your “system” is unable to account for flexibility or challenges – your dead in the water.
  3. Being Unrealistic With the Math
    The one deadly sin nearly every investor has made is not being realistic with the math. Whether overestimating future value, underestimating the repair costs on a project, or simply not taking the time to actually do the numbers- poor math will destroy an investment.
  4. Relaxing on the Record Keeping
    For many investors, “record keeping” is nothing more than an attic full of vintage Barry Manilow albums (get it? “record keeping”… no? Okay, easy – I’m an investor, not a stand up comedian!) If you don’t know the health of your investments – how can you make informed decisions for the future of your investments? By keeping adequate records and staying up-to-date with your finances, you position yourself to know exactly how well your investments are performing while also ensuring the long-term stability of your investment plan. Additionally, keeping good records makes tax time a breeze as well as simplifying the process when applying for a loan. For more information on record keeping for investors, check out Arthur’s post on record keeping.
  5. Confusing Investing with Gambling
    Do you invest or do you gamble? Do you even know the difference? Buying something with the hopes that it may someday bring a profit is gambling (or speculating). Flipping, building spec homes, and investing in raw land often resemble gambling much closer than investing. Notice I didn’t say that gambling was one of the Seven Deadly Sins of Real Estate Investing. The sin is not in gambling, but in confusing the two. Each strategy requires a different skill set and different financial resources. Be sure of what you are trying to accomplish and make sure you have the tools necessary.
  6. Over Leveraging Yourself
    Perhaps the most common real estate sin over the first decade of this century, over leveraging is the act of carrying too much debt than what the properties can maintain. If you are financing everything to the point that there is no cashflow, it is very difficult to weather the storms when they rise up. Just ask the thousands of bankrupt investors who learned this lesson the hard way.
  7. Getting Bored and Getting Fancy
    The path to wealth through real estate investing is not difficult, but it also isn’t super fast. In an earlier post on BiggerPockets, I mentioned how real estate investing was like playing a game of Super Mario Bros. The game is fairly simple and straightforward, thus easy to master. The difficulty, however, is that once the system has been mastered it is easy to get bored and decide to get fancy. Many investors know that wealth and retirement can be created using real estate, but get bored and try to hurry the process up by speculating and buying deals that don’t fit their plan. This is a sure-fire way to lose most or all of one’s wealth. Remember, it can take years to build up a solid retirement portfolio but only one stupid mistake to lose it all.

Source: Business Insider; Sep. 10, 2012

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