Building a Portfolio versus Building Equity

Unknown

“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!

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Single Women Leading the First Time Home Buyer Charge!

Single-Women

Skip the spouse, buy a house.  Right?  Recently the National Association of Realtors found that single head of household females were outpacing their male counterparts in the first time home buyer surge going on across America.  The percentages from today’s infographic speak clearly to the fact that women value home ownership and are wiling to use a greater amount of disposable income to maintain housing ownership.  In Australia, woman are outpacing their male counterparts also because they no longer need a guarantor for they are encumbering against the home they are purchasing (https://www.westpac.com.au/news/money-matters/2018/02/women-holding-the-keys-to-the-housing-market/).  According to data released in 2006 by the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University, the three main reasons a single woman would buy a home are:
1. A strong desire to own her own home.
2. Needing more space or wanting smaller home.
3. Relocating closer to job, school or family.

And a 2012 blog post on Redfin revealed that women buying a home are more focused on whether they love it — 46 percent of women first evaluate a home based on this, compared to 24 percent of men. Fifty-four percent of women and 76 percent of men evaluate a property based on cost and value (https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/10/single-women-buying-homes_n_3573801.html).

I am all for more woman becoming homeowners.  Neighborhoods that are predominantly owner-occupied tend to be maintained better, safer and maintain higher asset values.  Want to learn more about becoming an owner for the first time?  Send me a message at paul.krause@kw.com Today!

The Price is Probably Right

California-Hot-hi-res

In 2017 home prices in California were priced right at market more than 2/3 of the time.  WAIT?  Is that what this data is telling us?  Well . . . YES!  If you look closely at the percentage of homes in 2017 that sold above asking price was 32.9%.  That also means that 67.1% of the homes were price at or below market.  One of the greatest challenges for home buyers is feeling comfortable long after the escrow closes and the movers have left that the price paid for that new home was a deal.  Isn’t it?  For most homeowners their home IS the largest asset they may ever own in their life so it strikes home, no pun intended!  Although the data in this share today indicates California is getting to be a very warm market, at least for those that already did buy they can rest assure they at least paid a market price.  And if they didn’t, there was a good chance that another buyer right around the corner probably would have.  Unsure if now is a good time to buy or sell a house in California?  I can help!  Feel free to message me to learn about options that are available to you!

Down Payment Assistance Through Grants!

Buy v Rent

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

Garage Conversion Flop

garage-conversion

Although the concept of converting an unused garage into a livable dwelling is not a new idea, Gerry Brown signed the Wieckowski bill into law which actually promotes the idea http.  See http://bit.ly/2dSK7rc.  However if your conversion is not done right, not only can it be a disaster for your tenant, local laws can sting a homeowner financially.  In Los Angeles there are local housing laws like the Los Angles Rent Stabilization Ordinance that must be  followed in addition to state law.  One garage conversion I remember went so badly for the owner that they ended up paying over $14,000 to the tenant.  The situation was like this:  A new owner bought a property sight unseen in the city of Sylmar California.  The house was a 3 bedroom 2 bathroom with a detached garage in the back yard.  There were tenants living in the front house and the detached garaged which was converted into a 1 bedroom apartment.  The back tenant had a child who was getting very sick living in the back house because the ventilation was very poor in the bathroom.  Add that the front house tenant was also the previous owner who had been foreclosed and had not yet surrendered possession of the property to the new owner.  The previous owner was very upset about losing his house so he would let the 2 pit bull dogs living on the property roam the yard. Unfortunately for the back apartment tenant the dogs were unfriendly towards people so the dogs would intimidate and often try to hurt the back tenants. So now we have a back tenant who has a very sick child because of the ventilation problem and they couldn’t come and go as they pleased, essentially entrapped in the garage. Eventually I was able to negotiate with the owner to leave the front house (since he was living rent free from the resulting foreclosure) but the back tenant wouldn’t leave. As it turned out, she had hired an attorney who hired a professional licensed mold testing company who took samples throughout the garage and verified the existence of black mold spores. It wasn’t short after that the attorney wrote a letter to the owner stating that, under LARSO rules the owner MUST pay the tenant as much as $18,000 to relocate the family and even threatened with an additional $36,000 of health related damages suffered by the tenants child! Although the owners attorneys responded and disagreed with some of the claims, a settlement was quickly reached of over $14,000 in favor of the garage tenant. Although the previous owner had probably never foreseen the potential disaster that ensued, new home owners must be aware of how local laws can impact a planned garage conversion. Had the previous owner used sound building and construction practices, the ventilation issue would most likely not have been an issue and would not only have kept the family safe, but the new owner from having to pay a large settlement to move the tenants out.

NOT Slowing Down at the Holidays

Holidays

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 buyorrentmyhomes@hotmail.com!

Paul Krause is a licensed California Realtor #01835890 and General Contractor #1029575 and is based out of Los Angeles, California.

 

Housing Affordability Trends

Studio Apartment

California’s passing of SB1069 (link here: http://sd10.senate.ca.gov/news/2016-09-27-gov-brown-signs-wieckowskis-accessory-dwelling-units-bill-provide-more-affordable) took the old concept of renting out one’s garage/storage space and made it legal.  Although restrictions exist, the new law is one more sign that housing affordability is just as much a concern for Californians as housing availability.  Homeowners looking to reduce the cost of home ownership have always considered whether to rent out a room or make an illegal garage conversion.  With the law being put into effect it is likely to keep the residential fixer-upper contractors busy for a while.  There are 3 BIG advantages a garage conversion has over renting out a room in your main house.  My top three are:

PRIVACY – There is nothing more odd than sharing a space with a roommate in your home, if its your home and its been years since you have non0family roommates.  The occasional run in at the bathroom or refrigerator can be as meaningless or annoying as you make it out to be, but you have to prepare for it either way.  For some that will feel odd and even find yourself asking “why am I sharing this house with this person?  Oh yeah, that’s right – Because its the only way I can pay the mortgage and have enough money left over to have a life!”  The detached garage/storage space solution eliminates the social complexity of sharing space because everyone has their own space and well defined boundaries.

SCHEDULES NEVER CONFLICT – Come and go as you please in a detached garage/storage space situation but NOT so when you rent out a room.  If you have a renter that keeps off hours, to some extent so will you.  An owner really needs to focus on lifestyle questions in the renter interview process to better understand if a roommate will functionally “work out” or result in a toxic living environment.  Additionally, schedules can change.  A change in a persons job, profession, relationships, etc. can turn a once functional lifestyle arrangement into dysfunctional arrangement if both parties are not willing to make compromises.

PAYING YOUR FAIR SHARE – A detached garage/storage space arrangement makes it easier for the renter and the owner to determine what a fair rent is because the market can be compared much more easily for a converted garage.  Renting a room is almost impossible to find a comparable rent because no two houses are the same.  Additionally some owners do not want renters using in-home laundry facilities and would rather they go to the local laundromat to help keep utility usage down.  Splitting utility billing can also be tricky because renting a room (maybe 100 square feet) is not really renting a room but also the hallway, the living room, the family room, the kitchen, etc.  By going the converted garage/storage space route an owner and renter can agree more easily on what parts of the property will be included in the lease and which ones are not.

Thanks for reading!