“My portfolio is growing! I just closed on my fourth house and I just got a promotion at work – things couldn’t be better!” On the outset this sounds great. Until you ask, “do you have any debt on those properties?” The eager up-and-comer quickly responds “well, yes, but I have renters, so I’m building equity!” As the onion peels away we start understanding the situation much better. “I took advantage of a low down payment loan program to buy the houses so my renters (as they pay their monthly rent) are paying down my mortgage for me. These houses will be my retirement portfolio one day.” If this sounds familiar, then I agree with you. I am learning about more and more “investors” who are buying homes at or near market price, adding some fresh paint and carpet, replace a few kitchen cabinets and toilets and then rent their properties out. This strategy is only one paycheck (of the renter) away from becoming a disaster for the owner. Simply put, the only viable reason to rent out a single family house is because either (a) you are using your own money, and (b) the rental rate is so far above your holding costs that your net profit is better than any other investment alternative on a return-on-cash basis. Otherwise, if you are buying a house near or at market price, one missed rental payment (and usually will at the wrong time) can spell disaster for the owner. The cost of eviction and missed payments will eat up any “discount” you bought the property for. So now you have to ask yourself, DID YOU GET INTO REAL ESTATE TO BUILD A PORTFOLIO OR TO BUILD EQUITY? The purchase of a rental home should made at a steep enough discount that lost rents, non-paying tenants, and expensive repairs do no cut significantly into PROFITS. Remember profits are why you got into real estate investing to begin with! Four home purchases made at or near market price with a low to zero down payment is speculation. The buyer is speculating that the renter will not default, that the house will not need repairs, that economic circumstances won’t change, that a host of factors will not cut into profits. Homes in several hot markets during 2007-2012 including Las Vegas, Phoenix and Tucson went through a boom/bust cycle that wiped out half the value of the residential market. Short sale properties were so common few people wanted to buy them and so many more couldn’t because the banks were barely lending to even the top tier borrowers in the country! Build a portfolio Yes, if you bought equity on the day of closing. But, depending on a series of factors that are not under your control No. Equity is bought on day one. Having a strategy to cash in on that equity will be in my next article! To your prosperity!
The headline read “U.S. stocks plunged to their lowest levels in nearly three years Monday, and the Dow Jones industrial average suffered its worst point-loss in history…” That day in history was September 17th, 2001 (http://money.cnn.com/2001/09/17/markets/markets_newyork/). Imagine trying to market time a stock investment the week before? Whether your investing in stocks or real estate, planning is the process that prepares consumers for the possibility that timing works against them. If you look at the chart above you can see how home prices in southern California topped out in July of 2007. County wide, prices lost as much as HALF their values by April 2009 with the median home price finally recovering by 2017. Good planning is how you get through the tough times so that your not forced to sell if the market sells off. For example, imagine if you had purchased a house in June 2007 and then one of the following happened to you:
- Loss of a job/income
- Health emergency not covered by insurance
- Auto accident not covered by insurance
- Home repair not planned that drains savings
- Tax levy from the IRS or State taxing board
- Legal settlement not covered by insurance or savings
- Family emergency not covered by savings or insurance
I could go on with this list but each of these items can severely impact a homeowners ability to pay the mortgage. And consider this, NONE of these factors are market related! They are all issues that happen in LIFE. It goes to say “Plan for the worst, hope for the best.” Homeowners who carefully plan out the monthly payment including taxes and insurance are less likely to struggle during the tough times because they have “plans” in place to take care of such emergencies. For example, private disability insurance can protect a homeowner from the possibility of becoming unemployed from a disability. Drafting a will and living trust can make the process of losing a loved one a little more manageable to deal with a families daily affairs. An umbrella insurance policy can cover owner liability and certain potential lawsuits claims. Hiring a qualified CPA who is also designated as an enrolled agent(EA) can protect a homeowner from the potential conflict of filing a frivolous tax return. Home warranty programs can cover home repairs that are costly and unforeseen. The same goes with product warranties that are sold as “extended warranties” from resellers. Boosting an auto policy coverage can ensure that an unforeseen accident doesn’t leave a homeowner in massive debt from health care bills. This is just a short list of plans are designed to address unforeseen emergencies, not market pricing. Yes it’s still possible to buy a home at the top of the market. But, by working with a professional you can structure a plan to ensure that if the market turns, you still have a roof over your head, enough money to pay your mortgage and avoid being forced to sell your home. Need a plan? Contact me and I can help you get started!
Recently I heard from some customers that rented a home in a very nice neighborhood that they want to begin the process of stepping up into home ownership. But there was one problem. When my customer’s spoke with their mortgage lender they were told they would need a seasoned down payment in order to qualify for the mortgage. Although it is not uncommon for lenders to want to see a home buyer with some skin in the game, there are programs today that can even help with a home down payment! So what is a seasoned down payment? Simply put, its the amount of money that is in your bank account that will be used to cover the down payment and has been in your account greater than 2-3 months. The reasoning behind the seasoning requirement for this article is not important because what my customer needed is to find the amount of money they don’t have saved with the amount the lender demands to qualify for the mortgage. The loan my customer wanted was the First-Time Home Buyer loan which only required to have 3.5% of the purchase price in their savings account as a down payment. Having only been able to save up 1% of the amount (because my customer is renting an expensive house) I told them about programs that are available that could help them obtain a grant towards the down payment. And best yet, would not have to pay the grant back! Not everyone will qualify for a grant, but just typing in “house down payment assistance” yielded no less than 2 million results! Although no one has the time to research (nor will they need to) I am familiar with at least 20 programs in Los Angeles that home buyers can research to determine if they qualify for a house down payment grant. It is important to note that no matter what direction you chose for down payment assistance, it is vital to communicate which program you chose with the realtor your working with so that when your offer to purchase is submitted that appropriate closing deadlines are planned so that you have enough time to receive the grant funds to fund your escrow. To become more familiar with down payment assistance this Freddie Mac resource written by Danny Gardner is a perfect first step to understand the options home buyers have available to them. Go here—–> http://bit.ly/2od7yBQ
The holiday season is such a festive time of year. December is full of events “all-things-social.” Mix in holiday shopping, traveling, preparing to travel, packing to travel…life gets busy this time of year! I recently called a good friend in Phoenix who told me three quarters of her real estate office is out of the office. I asked “is the office having a holiday party?” Her response was amusing. “No, they are out. Everyone’s coming back after the 1st.” As we continued to talk I mentioned to her that real estate can slow down this time of year. Without missing a beat she responded, “We slow down, but some of us have to get things done. I’m having one of my best months right now with customers who need to close before year end.” She made a really good point. For some sellers, renters, exchangers the holiday season doesn’t give their obligations a break till after the New Year. For example, I’m still getting calls from customers who really need a house rental by the 1st of January. Add that two local agents contacted me recently with two new listings in which the sellers need to close quickly. Then I was contacted by two loan officers who are featuring special loan deals this month including no money down and no document programs for new home buyers. So much for taking a break at the in December! The amazing thing that I have learned over the years about real estate at the holidays is this: buyers and renters have so little competition they practically control the deal! If you think about it, where are most people you may know today? Online shopping? Traveling? Running down to the grocery store to pick up holiday food supplies and beverages for the big meal? Getting ready for tonights party/concert/program? One example I can share recently was on a new home lease listing in Inglewood. After speaking with the owner he explained to me, that even with the house only on the market for 3 days he would be willing to drop the asking rent $100/mos. just to get a renter in by year end. 3 days on market! It takes AT LEAST one weekend and a full week for the public to find a new listing, let alone set up an appointment for a showing! This rarely happens in the spring, summer or early fall in my market. Another example is of a seller that I made an offer on a single family house that needed major remodeling work. A real fixer upper as you can imagine it. Needs everything. I asked the seller for several concessions including a very delayed closing to allow the bank (which FOR SURE will be working slowly at the holidays) to fund the deal into early February if needed. The seller’s response was very generous and said “this sounds fine to me.” WHAT OTHER TIME OF YEAR WOULD THIS HAPPEN?!?!? Ahhh the holidays. Yes, even with the shopping, the parties, the meals, those oh-so-social events that make the spirit of the season so rich and festive, there is still work to be done and deals to be had. Except this time of year, it can really feel like a one person audience. I don’t know about you but I like the odds of getting deals closed at the holidays more than any other time of the year. Happy Holidays everyone and a joyous New Year!
Need help getting your deal done? Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Paul Krause is a licensed California Realtor #01835890 and General Contractor #1029575 and is based out of Los Angeles, California.