“Income Property Opportunities”
I am doing more and more preapprovals for clients that want to buy an investment property, normally 3-4 families. Many are looking at all the great values that are out there, the cash flow—compared to the expenses. The profit margins are crazy in many cases.
My concern is always, lack of experience and unreasonable expectation. The numbers sound good, but until you have dealt with the tenants, the numbers may not be so important. Not everyone has the right mindset for this kind of venture.
Three years ago, a young lady came to me to get preapproved for the purchase of a 3 family home. She told me that her dad used to own multifamily properties and she decided this is what she wanted to make this her livelihood. Even though she had a good paying job, she planned on transitioning to a real estate investor. Fast forward, almost 3 years later, she owns 6 multifamily homes, a total of 21 units. She has definitely made a believer out of me. Next year sometime, she plans on giving up her job to be a real estate investor full time. She is one of the exceptions, that will make it.
MONEY Magazine) -- Most of the news lately about real estate has been dismal: Home prices are swooning, foreclosures ballooning.
There is, however, one bright spot: the rental market, where demand is up and rents are rising. That's partly because those foreclosures have turned more than 4 million former homeowners into renters, but also because many other prospective homeowners, worried about losing their jobs or housing prices falling a lot further still, are reluctant to buy now.
As with many investments, the best time to get in is when most others are sitting on the sidelines. To figure out whether you can benefit by investing in rental property, here's what you need to know.
THE CASE FOR BUYING NOW
Many factors make this a great time to invest. Mortgage rates are at a 40-year low, and homes in many areas are ultra-cheap. Meanwhile, demand for rentals has risen in more than 500 cities, according to recent Census data. That, in turn, has enabled landlords to charge more. Hotpads.com, a real estate research firm, reports that rents nationwide jumped 11.6% in 2010, to $1,320 a month.
You'll need that rental income to tide you over until home prices bounce back; in fact, the typical investor today plans to hold for 10 years, according to a survey by the National Association of Realtors.
If you can hang on that long, you've got a good shot at solid gains, especially if you're financing the home purchase. "Whereas leverage is dangerous when buying stocks, it can be a good long-term strategy with real estate," notes real estate investor and Columbia University adjunct finance professor Marshall Sonenshine.
The big catch: "Can you afford to hold the property that long and not need the equity for your kid's college fund?" says Sonenshine. Or whatever other pressing need might crop up.
You'll also face some tough financing rules. Most banks now require a down payment of at least 20% to 25% and evidence you have enough cash to cover six months' worth of mortgage, tax, and insurance payments.
HOW TO FIND A GOOD DEAL
Investment real estate is like produce: It's best bought locally. "Buy something you can get to in 10 minutes," says Seattle real estate investor Bill Snyder.
Familiarity with the neighborhood also limits nasty surprises like a noisy bar or a nearby development competing for renters.
Work with a local realtor who has experience with rentals and can help you assess how attractive a given home will be to tenants.
And while prices on multifamily dwellings haven't dropped as much as they have on single-family homes, don't ignore plexes: Intake from a few rents instead of just one will boost your cash flow; a single vacancy won't hurt as much; and you could benefit from economies of scale for things like appliances and painting. But stick to buildings with four units or fewer to avoid stricter financing requirements, such as a bigger down payment and higher mortgage rates.
Once you've identified candidates, crunch the numbers. The goal: to make sure your rental income will at least cover your loan payments, plus a 20% cushion to handle repairs, vacancies, and property management.
To figure out what you'll garner in rent, ask sellers for recent leases, says Snyder, and double-check their numbers by perusing sites like Rentometer and Craigslist for similar rentals in the neighborhood.
Assume your mortgage rate will be at least a half-point higher than rates on owner-occupied properties. Factor in insurance and property taxes, and bank on a 5% vacancy rate. Otherwise, "one empty month can kill you," says Ellie Berlin, a broker with Houlihan Lawrence in Larchmont, N.Y.
KNOW WHAT YOU'RE IN FOR
Brush up on your people skills: Owning rentals also means responding to tenant complaints, like the 2 a.m. phone call about a broken toilet. Want to palm off the grunt work? You can hire a handyman (around $45 an hour) or a management company (8% to 10% of monthly income plus a half-month's rent for filling vacancies), but the luxury will eat into cash flow.
To find your own tenants, creative ads on Craigslist are your best bet. Run credit and reference checks (National Tenant Network, at ntnonline.com, can help). And invest in small touches to make your place stand out, such as cool lighting fixtures or antique door hardware. Those will pay off when it's time to sell too.
Joe Petrowsky, NMLS #6869
Right Trac Financial Group, Inc. NMLS #2709
110 Main St.
Manchester, Ct. 06042
Office: 860 647-7701 x116
Fax: 860 647-8940
Cell: 860 836-9294
Joe Petrowsky does not guarantee nor is in any way responsible for the accuracy of the information provided herein, and provides said information without warranties of any kind, either expressed or implied.
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