Tag Archives: real estate investment

5 Do’s and Don’ts of Investing in Real Estate

Owning real property is a goal for many investors. When done properly, investing in real estate can offer a number of benefits for individuals including the ability to diversify income streams and capture long-term capital appreciation. However, there are a number of ways investors get it wrong when it comes to real estate and the costs can be quite significant.


As you consider whether investing in real property is right for you, keep these key considerations in mind.


Do: Consider real estate as a diversification tool. One of the benefits of owning real property in addition to traditional investments like stocks and bonds is the diversification it can provide to your income and asset holdings. Having multiple sources of income helps reduce the impact on your finances, should one stream dry up. The real estate market isn’t directly correlated with the stock market either, so holding both types of assets can be a good thing.

Keep in mind that real estate can only help diversify your assets if it’s a component of your net worth – not a big piece of it. Also, consider location as part of your diversification strategy as physical location is a main driver of a property’s relative value. It is important to be familiar with the local market, but don’t overlook the added risk if your own home is in the same community. Of course being a long-distance landlord carries a different set of risks, so try to find a balance.

Don’t: Over-concentrate in one asset class. Just as real estate can provide diversification, it can just as easily concentrate your holdings in one volatile asset class. Investors just starting out may have a higher risk of real estate concentration risk as the property may represent a much larger piece of their overall net worth. Why may this be a bad thing? The real estate market can be volatile and while you can control how the property is maintained, the majority of factors that drive local and national markets are outside of your control. These factors can range considerably. Consider the impact of a major employer moving in (or out) of a community, changes in interest rates, sharp increase to property taxes, and changes to the public services offered in a community.

Do: Consider an investment property if your cash flows are already strong. Real estate can be quite cash-intensive so if you’re holding too much excess cash and find yourself with a large surplus each month, an investment property can be one way to put those funds to work for you. Real estate is unique in that it requires a lot of cash upfront (down payments greater than 20 percent are common) and ongoing cash reserves to maintain and cover for ordinary expenses, but the investment self is highly illiquid. Unlike a traditional investment where you can sell off some of your stocks as needed to raise a lump sum, you cannot sell a room in your property. Unexpected repairs, prolonged vacancies, or past-due tenants can lead to financial problems if cash reserves are light.


Don’t: Rush through your cash flow projections. As any professional real estate investor would tell you, the numbers have to work. Particularly when investing in a buy-and-hold property, your cash flow assumptions must be solid to help ensure you’re making a good investment. Do extensive research to obtain accurate income and expense figures and consider building out a model to tie it all together. A standard model should include provisions such as the cost of capital, expected vacancy rate, taxes, and a discount rate, which is essentially your required rate of return on the investment.

Cash flow modeling is a critical step before making a purchase, as real estate investing carries more risk than traditional investments. Not only is real estate illiquid, but it can actually have a negative value (being “underwater” for example) whereas with stocks, you can’t lose more than your investment.


Finally, consider scenario analysis as part of your cash flow projections. What if you were to invest cash in the market instead of buy property? What tax benefits may you sacrifice by renting your former primary residence instead of selling it? Depending on your specific goals, real estate may or may not be the best way to get there, and cash flow modeling can help you figure that out.


Do: Talk to someone who already owns an investment property. One of the best ways to educate yourself is to speak with someone who’s already faced the same challenges. New real estate investors are often surprised how much work being a landlord can be. It isn’t as easy as it looks on HGTV!


Hiring a property manager is an option, but will impact your cash flows. As a landlord, you’ll also need to ensure compliance with the numerous local and federal laws. Some states, such as Massachusetts have very strong tenant rights laws. Landlords may expose themselves to financial and legal risks if they don’t comply with housing discrimination laws, proper escrow procedures, building codes, and so on.


Investing in real estate is attractive to many individuals who like the idea of having a tangible asset with passive income potential. However, it is important to objectively assess the opportunity and be realistic about your potential net income after taxes. As an individual investor, it can be challenging to find properties with sufficient cash flow potential to justify the risk and opportunity cost, especially as there are many professionals with a whole infrastructure behind them that are trying to do the same thing.


Why You Need A Professional On Your Team When Buying A Home

Many people wonder whether they should hire a real estate professional to assist them in buying their dream homes or if they should first try to go through the buying process on their own. In today’s market: you need an experienced professional!

You Need an Expert Guide If You Are Traveling a Dangerous Path

The field of real estate is loaded with landmines; you need a true expert to guide you through the dangerous pitfalls that currently exist. Finding a home that is priced appropriately and is ready for you to move into can be tricky. An agent listens to your wants and needs, and can sift through the homes that do not fit within the parameters of your “dream home.”

A great agent will also have relationships with mortgage professionals and other experts that you will need in order to secure your dream home. 

You Need a Skilled Negotiator

In today’s market, hiring a talented negotiator could save you thousands, perhaps tens of thousands, of dollars. Each step of the way – from the original offer to the possible renegotiation of that offer after a home inspection, to the possible cancellation of the deal based on a troubled appraisal – you need someone who can keep the deal together until it closes.

Realize that when an agent is negotiating his or her commission with you, they are negotiating their own salary; the salary that keeps a roof over their family’s head; the salary that puts food on their family’s table. If they are quick to take less when negotiating for themselves and their families, what makes you think they will not act the same way when negotiating for you and your family?

If they were Clark Kent when negotiating with you, they will not turn into Superman when negotiating with the buyer or seller in your deal. 

Bottom Line

Famous sayings become famous because they are true. You get what you pay for. Just like a good accountant or a good attorney, a good agent will save you money…not cost you money.

Post courtesy of keepingcurrentmatters.com


6 Amazing Tips on Turning Real Estate Into a Real Fortune

At least 30 U.S. billionaires made their money from real estate; some say that it’s the greatest way to create real wealth and financial freedom.

These six tycoons and members of The Oracles suggest how you can invest $100,000 or start with nothing.

1. Start small.

Although I’m a businessman first, I’ve always been a part-time real-estate investor. You can do both, too. Have a business or career that creates positive cash flow, which you can diversify into part-time real estate investing. I’ve done it for many years.

If you’ve never invested in real estate, start small and don’t use all your money. No one’s ever looked back and said, “My first deal was my best.” You’ve got to learn how to read the contracts, build your network of specialists—for example, lawyers and realtors—and develop a good eye for it. This only comes from experience.

The beauty of real estate is that you can learn the ropes while starting small: find some cheap properties, like single-family homes, renovate-and-flips, multi units, or commercial properties. Try to commit as little as possible while you get some notches under your belt. Joel Salatin, my mentor, always said, “Make your mistakes as small as possible without catastrophic consequences.”

If you have zero cash, maybe do wholesale deals. A business partner, Cole Hatter, and I created a real-estate program teaching you how to put a property under contract for very little money down, sometimes less than $1,000; you sell that contract to another buyer before the contract expires. Worst case: you just lose under a grand. Best case: you make $5,000-15,000 positive cash flow that can be reinvested in long-term holdings. Tai Lopez, investor and advisor to many multimillion-dollar businesses, who has built an eight-figure online empire; connect with Tai on Facebook or Snapchat.

2. Think big.

It’s easy to give up on the real-estate game because you don’t have any money, but it’s the deal that matters, not how much money you have. Chase the deal, not your budget.

I know a guy who saved $50,000 and started chasing $200,000 deals. First of all, you can’t buy more than four units with that budget. The problem with four units is that each can only produce maybe $1,000 or $2,000 per month. And that’s only after you’ve done thousands of dollars in work around the units to make them rentable in the first place. That math isn’t difficult—there’s just not enough money to make it worthwhile.

Raising Rent Without Feeling Guilty

Year-over-year inflation means that raising rent is inevitable for most landlords. However, it can be hard to pass the financial burden along to tenants, especially if they’re long-term and have a good track record.

Here are three ways to increase rent without resentment:

  1. Add a clause in your initial rent agreement.

    Telling tenants ahead of time that rent will increase 2-3% each year is a good way to alleviate any shock that comes from raising the rent when their lease expires. If they ask, explain that a small increase each year helps cover taxes and minor repairs.

  2. Include details in a letter.

    Typically landlords send out a letter at the end of a lease to renew or go month-to-month. This is a good time to introduce the new rent price and explain your reasons. Did you install new countertops or upgrade the storage in your building? Make sure your tenants know that!Pointing out improvements can help take away the sting a price increase, and helps tenants feel confident that their money if going back into improving the living conditions.

  3. Keep rent raises to a minimum.

    In the case of owner-occupied buildings, many landlords choose to take a low maintenance and reliable tenant over a small increase in rent each month. If you’re in it for the long-haul, it might not be worth it to potentially drive good tenants out. However, if you make the yearly increases small there’s a very good chance they’ll stick around.

  4. Distribute the costs.

    If you feel uncomfortable about raising the rent with a monthly fee, you can always consider changing how you charge for utilities. For example, if you currently cover water and electricity, inform the tenants that they will now be in charge of paying the bill and include it in their new lease. This is an especially good option if part of the reason you need to increase rent is higher utility bills.

Post found on fourwalls.rentler.com

5 Things to Consider When Shopping for an Investment Property

Real estate investments can be challenging, but also very rewarding. Passive income, stability, return on investment, tax benefits, appreciation – the financial advantages of hold-to-rent real estate can’t be denied. Understanding what type of investment property you’re looking for and who your target renters will be is essential in delivering a desirable product to the rental market.


Focus on these five critical criteria when shopping for an investment property to ensure your money works for you.


1. Desirable location. Location, location, location. In real estate, that timeless phrase holds true. Your property’s location will ultimately determine the overall success of your investment, affecting the amount of rent you can charge, the types of renters applying and your vacancy rate. Offering a rental surrounded by attractive amenities, shopping, convenient traffic routes, parks, entertainment and more will draw a steady stream of prospective tenants.


Before purchasing, research the local school ratings, job market, shifts in the rental market, design trends, local crime rates and any city codes that could potentially affect your property. The more desirable your location, the lower the risk becomes.

2. The numbers. Underwriting is a critical element of deciding which investment property to purchase. Allowing emotion to drive your decision making when searching is a detrimental mistake. Separate yourself from your likes and dislikes and focus on what the market is demanding in a rental. Positive cash flow is the end goal, as this is a source of income for you, not the home you’re planning to live in.

Constructing a financial plan and budget prior to purchasing is key as you’ll be covering not only the mortgage, but also taxes, maintenance, design costs, improvements and unforeseen complications. Accounting for overhead and average vacancy rates is something to be factored in when underwriting a potential purchase. Calculating what your true profit will be against your initial investment is what matters.


3. Low overhead. One key way to ensure you maximize your return is to choose an investment property that won’t require much maintenance and overhead. Commonly, longer-term rentals are lower maintenance than, say, vacation or student rentals. Steady long-term tenants will yield the best returns on your investment.


Often the less flashy, more median-priced rentals yield the steadiest returns year-over-year as compared to high-end, luxury rentals that require more maintenance. Also, consider whether you’ll be hiring a property manager or if you’ll be doing any maintenance yourself. Proximity to your income property will be important if you’re handling this aspect on your own.


4. Appreciation. The smartest investment is one that appreciates in value. As an investor, appreciation is two-fold: When you buy the property and when you sell it. The best approach is to find a property where only a few cosmetic updates will allow you to charge more per month and won’t cost you a lot. You will also save on your initial investment rather than hiring contractors to do the work, like a fresh coat of paint.

Generally, most land is going to appreciate a little over time, but you want an investment that increases in value more than the rest. Try and find an up-and-coming or already desirable area that has plans for future development. On the flipside, a neighborhood that’s safe and quiet for families could be just as desirable.

Consider the specific location of the property within its community. Is it on a busy thoroughfare or on a private cul de sac? Close to great local schools or in a high-density urban environment? These are all things that will help you forecast your property’s appreciation over time.


5. Practical wins the race. Of course you want your income property to be aesthetically appealing, but there’s a smart way to approach this aspect. A long-term rental is a strong, stable investment, but only when not trying to reinvent the wheel. Low risk equals “normal.” You don’t want to limit your audience of potential tenants by purchasing a highly specific property such as a historical Tudor-style home with unique interior features. You should be aiming for bright, open, clean and tasteful.


The more specific the rental is, the higher the risk your investment becomes. A practical rental property will ensure a steady flow of tenants, like a two-bedroom traditional house with 2 1/2 baths in good shape, close to shopping centers, local schools, nearby parks and on a quiet street. Or a more modern one-bed, one-bath in downtown with open layout and building amenities such as a gym and pool for a younger crowd. Educate yourself on the market where you’ll be investing, and choose a property that meets the demand and is appealing to a wide audience.

Post courtesy of realestate.usnews.com

Flip, Rent, or Hold: What’s the Best Path to Real Estate Riches?

Maybe you’re addicted to those home-flipping shows on HGTV where glam couples buy grim shacks, spend 22 minutes smashing down walls and adding funky kitchen backsplashes, and then make tens of thousands selling the refurbished places on the open market. Or perhaps you’re jonesing for a steady stream of extra income and feel certain you’ve got what it takes to be a landlord.

Or just maybe you’re on the prowl for a hands-off way to make serious real estate money with financial investments that don’t require laying down new flooring or screening prospective tenants.

Whichever option floats your boat, you’ve got plenty of company. After the epic boom-and-bust of the speculative home-flipping market in the aughts, everyone again seems to be looking to make a quick buck by becoming a real estate investor. But these days, there are a dizzying variety of different takes on the once-simple idea of property investing—all requiring varying levels of blood, sweat, tears—and risks. Which one might be right for you?

“Over the generations, real estate has proven itself to be a pretty good, time-tested investment,” says Eric Tyson, who co-authored “Real Estate Investing for Dummies.” “Like investing in the stock market, people who follow some basic principles and buy and hold over long periods of time should do fairly well.But, of course, there’s no guarantee.”

And that’s why the thrill-a-minute world of real estate investing isn’t for everyone—especially when life savings are involved.

OK, now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s go shopping.


1. Home flipping: Not exactly like reality TV

First half of 2017 gross returns: 48.6%*
2014 gross returns: 45.8%
2012 gross returns: 44.8%

If the Property Brothers or Chip ’n’ Joanna can do it, why can’t you? Real estate reality TV has made the “fixer-upper” flipping market seem fun, very sexy—and mostly foolproof. But becoming a successful home flipper is a lot harder than it looks on television. And it isn’t always as wildly profitable as you might think.

The returns appear deceptively high, as they don’t account for hefty renovation costs, closing costs, property taxes and insurance. Flippers should figure that about 20% to 30% of their profits will go straight toward such expenses, say experts. The median returns above only reflect sale price gains—not net profits.

Newbie investors need to make sure they’re thoroughly familiar with a neighborhood before they consider buying a potential flip in it, says Charles Tassell, chief operating officer at the National Real Estate Investors Association, a Cincinnati-based investors group. This means looking at what kinds of homes are located nearby, what sort of shape they’re in, and how much they’ve sold for. Wannabe flippers should pay attention to the quality of local schools, transportation, and the job market—just as they would for their own home. Those are the things that can make or break a sale. And an investment.

A market where homes are still affordable but appreciating rapidly is ideal. Once they’ve settled on an area, flippers need to focus on the basic structure of prospective homes. Special attention should be paid to a home’s heating and cooling systems, foundation, and roof—the things that are most expensive to fix.

Then they need to create a realistic budget. Experts recommend setting aside 10% to 20% to cover any unknowns—like what’s inside the walls. Costly surprises are par for the course.

“The biggest hurdle of flipping is: The costs are never what they seem to be on HGTV,” says flipper and landlord April Crossley, co-owner of Crossley Properties in Reading, PA. She owns the business with her real estate agent husband, and they do 8 to 10 flips a year. “In fact, they’re always way more.”

Flippers are gambling that the housing market stays strong in their target area—at least long enough to resell their investment home.

“You’re constantly anticipating what the market will be doing 6 to 12 months in the future,” says Daren Blomquist, senior vice president at ATTOM. So if you miscalculate, and it drops, you could lose a lot of money.

2. Investment (rental) properties: You, too, could be a landlord

First half of 2017 returns: 13%*
Three-year returns: 9.9%
Five-year returns: 11.67%

Perhaps flipping homes, and all the varied costs and stressors associated with it, isn’t for you. But you’d still like to be a hands-on real estate investor. Why not consider buying investment (rental) properties?

One big advantage is the tax deduction folks get for their rental properties. They can write off their mortgage interest, property taxes, and operating expenses, as well as repairs.

Like home flippers, landlords-to-be should look at growing areas with new jobs moving in, says Steve Hovland, director of research at HomeUnion, an Irvine, CA–based company that helps smaller investors buy and manage properties.

“I’m very bullish on high-growth markets, like Texas, the Southeast, Arizona. You’re always going to have new renter demand,” he says. But coastal cities can be tough for aspiring property owners because they’re just too expensive.

First-time investors may want to target middle-class neighborhoods near top-rated schools, where stability rules and tenants are more likely to hold steady jobs. These homes often require less maintenance—a boon to landlords who don’t live nearby.

Landlords who aren’t local or don’t want to deal with 3 a.m. calls about an overflowing toilet will want to consider hiring a property manager who will find tenants and coordinate (but not perform) maintenance. But that eats into profits, costing about 7% to 12% of the monthly rent.

And the payoff you get, as compared with flipping a home, isn’t in one lump sum, and isn’t always steady. For example, landlord and flipper Crossley rents out multiple single-family homes, duplexes, and apartments in the Reading, PA, area, and once had a couple stop paying their rent for six months after they went through a divorce. She had to eat those losses, as well as attorney fees, while she went through eviction court to get them out.

Landlords also need to have insurance on their properties and set up their rental companies to protect their personal assets, in case they get sued.

And like other investors, owners also run the risk that home prices—along with the rents they were counting on—could plunge. “You have to be prepared for the worst. When something goes wrong in a tenant’s life, you’re the last person to get paid,” Crossley says.

3. U.S. REITs: Buying shares in real estate instead of companies

Year-to-date returns: 2.75%*
Three-year returns: 8.39%
Five-year returns: 9.79%

Those who’d like to own apartment and office buildings like a legit mogul but don’t have the bank balance to do so may want to turn to Real Estate Investment Trusts. Don’t worry if you’ve never heard of REITs. You don’t need a fancy finance degree to understand how they work.

Most REITs are publicly traded corporations that investors buy and sell shares in—just like stocks. Only instead of buying shares in Apple, you’re buying shares in real estate. Shares can range in price from just a few dollars to hundreds of bucks. Investors can buy into them on certain exchanges.

As with stocks, investors can make money by buying shares at a low price and selling them at a higher one, and by collecting quarterly dividends (payouts are made every three months).

There are two main kinds of publicly traded REITS. Equity REITs own rental properties ranging from homes to business space, and make money collecting income on them. Residential and commercial mortgage REITs allow investors to buy mortgage debt where investors profit from the interest.

4. Crowdfunded real estate: Like Kickstarter for property

Year-to-date annualized returns: 8.72%*
Two-year returns: 8.89%

Crowdfunded real estate is like the younger, cooler cousin of REITs. Simply put, it allows ordinary folks to pool their money to invest in things like apartment complexes, office buildings, and shopping centers. It’s like a Kickstarter for buying real estate—instead of funding your college roommate’s feature-length documentary about Furries.

Previously available only to uber-wealthy accredited investors, crowdfunding only became open to the general public in March 2015. That’s when the government enacted new rules opening up the investments to folks without ginormous bank balances. So there isn’t much data available yet on how these investments perform over the long term.

While REITs can hold tens of thousands of properties and be worth billions of dollars, crowdfunding companies are often significantly smaller, holding just one or a handful of properties. And they often require a long-term commitment from investors.

As with REITs, the two main options in crowdfunded real estate investing are equity or debt. Equity, the riskier of the two, involves investing in a fund connected to commercial or residential development. It makes money from the income the property generates and the increase in the value over time. The investment is usually tied up for about five to seven years. Debt is the loan used to get the project off the ground and continue to finance it through the life of the project.

“These are long-term investments, so if you pull your money out early, there’s usually a financial penalty,” Ippolito says. That’s a big difference from REITs, which can be sold at any time. “Retirees who need the money soon probably should look elsewhere.” Debt is a bit safer, but the payouts may not be as high.

5. Home appreciation: The investment you can live in

One-year appreciation: 10%*
Three-year appreciation: 26.7%
Five-year appreciation: 44.8%

Folks don’t need to flip homes or pour money into crowdfunded projects to make money as a real estate investor. Instead, they can search hard for the perfect home, get their finances in order, negotiate smartly, and close the deal for the best possible price.

And then live in it.

Real estate typically appreciates over time. That means that buyers who buy a home in a decent area and keep it in good shape should make money when they decide to sell. Depending on the market and the home, sometimes a lot of money. But they should plan on being in that home for at least five or so years, so they can build up enough equity in the home to net a profit once real estate agent fees and closing costs are accounted for.

“In general, buying a home is a good investment and a way to build wealth and equity over a lifetime,” says Joseph Kirchner, senior economist at realtor.com®. “[But] even if you’re buying it to live in the house for the next 30 years, it is always better to buy when prices are low.”

And as folks build equity in their home, through appreciation and paying down their mortgage debt, they can take out home equity loans or home equity lines of credit against their property.

But of course, just as with the other investments on this list, there are risks. The country could enter into a new recession, or there could be a local housing market crash if a big employer leaves the area. Or homes in your area could simply be overvalued.

However, when home prices fall, they do generally rebound—eventually.

“Good markets aren’t going to last forever,” says real estate investment author Tyson. “Even the best real estate markets go through slow periods.”

Post courtesy of realtor.com

Buying a Short Sale: 4 Tips to Make Yours the Winning Offer

Bargain shoppers know that buying a short sale can score you a sweet deal on a home. Since the sellers are set on avoiding foreclosure, buyers can jump in and nab a house below its market value. It might even sound like the easiest transaction ever: The seller is determined to sell a house and you have the means to buy it. It’s good as gold, right? Not necessarily.

Though they might appear simple, short sale transactions are different from traditional home sales. There are a number of pitfalls and extra costs that can arise with a short sale.

What is a short sale and how does it differ from other sales?

Simply put, a short sale is when a home sells for a price that won’t cover the cost of the outstanding mortgage.

Short sales are different from both traditional home sales and foreclosures. In a traditional home sale, you work with only the seller and the seller’s agent to make an offer. In a foreclosure, the lender has already bought the property, so you’ll make an offer directly to the lender, without a buyer involved.

In a short sale, the home is being sold at a loss. So, while the seller still owns the property, the lender must approve any offers.

Below are tips on what to expect and how to have your offer stand out from the crowd.

1. Have your finances sorted

Solid financing always makes an offer appear stronger, but this is especially true in a short sale.

According to Mark Ainley of GC Realty Investments in Chicago, “You can increase your chances of having an offer accepted by either being a cash buyer or having a pre-approval letter from a lender. The pre-approval will carry more weight than a pre-qualification letter because it shows that a lender has already vetted your finances and approved you for that loan amount.”

In addition to the pre-approval, being prepared to put down a sizable earnest money deposit can help move your offer to the top of the pile.

2. Be ready to wait for approval

The approval process is a bit different with short sales. The seller first has to approve your offer, as usual, but then it must be sent to the lender for review before the sale can move forward.

“Be patient. Banks take their time approving a short sale,” advises, Kathryn Bishop, a Keller Williams agent in Los Angeles.

Several individuals, including the lender, will need to look at your offer before a consensus can be reached. The lender must decide how much of a loss it’s willing to take on the loan and it’ll likely vet your finances to make sure you are financially sound enough to buy the home.

This process could take weeks, but in most cases, it will take three to four months.

3. Don’t expect contingencies

In a typical home sale, you can negotiate contingencies with the seller to reduce closing costs, cover fees, or make repairs before you finalize the deal. However, in a short sale, the lender also needs to be taken into consideration, and it is less likely to approve your contingencies.

Keep in mind that the lender is already taking a loss on the loan and won’t want to lower its profits any further.

The lender “is the one making the final decision on whether or not to accept your offer,” says Karen Hanover, a former short sale negotiator with a major lender. “They are going to look at the net after all costs of sale, not just the asking price. They also want to see the properties sold as is.”

4. Don’t navigate a short sale alone

The bank will be trying to recoup as much of its investment as possible, and the seller will be focused on unloading the property before it’s foreclosed. So who has your interest at heart? It’s important to have someone in your corner who can advocate for you and make sure you leave the negotiating table satisfied.

“The buyer must be able to control who does the short sale negotiation and have the legal right to communicate with that negotiator and receive status reports,” says James Tupitza, a real estate lawyer with Tupitza & Associates in West Chester, PA.

Before you even consider making an offer, make sure to bring on a real estate agent—or even legal council—who specializes in this type of transaction.

Post originally found on realtor.com