- Lender/Broker: First and foremost are your own finances. If you are looking to branch out into the investment territory it will mean throwing in a bit of your own monies, whether borrowed or from savings/investments of your own. Make sure that your own credit is also up to snuff, the last thing you want to have happen is to find an embarrassing or unknown blight on your report. Being declined for your first loan is hardly an ideal way to get your investments tools in gear. After speaking with colleagues and acquaintances, try to get a few names for potential brokers/lenders. After all, having someone recommended by a trusting friend, might be reason enough to set up a meeting. Make sure to have at least three candidates, it wouldn’t hurt to hear about other’s track records and approaches when it comes to investment opportunities.
- Real Estate Hunting: Yes, you might go the realtor route, or you could get in the hunt yourself, sometimes hitting the classifieds and just walking through your target neighborhood can sometimes reveal that hidden gem. Keep your ears open, you never know when a deal could literally fall on your lap, a friend of a friend could be in dire straits and wanting to unload a property quickly, but you’ll never be able to get in there without a little effort on your part as well.
- Be Determined: Sometimes the difference between your bid and the next guys is persistence. Be willing to work and compromise to make a deal that was heading south, climb out of the frigid waters of Failures Ville and into the calming pools of success! And sometimes you just have to learn to walk away. As a savvy investor, you will soon have the ability to pick up on properties that are worth the extra effort.
- Tricks of the trade: This means having a good list of appraisers and inspectors, reputable people that you can rely upon to give an honest assessment. If you are at a point that you are considering making an offer on, be smart and above all, patient. The last thing you need for your profits is to get stuck with a property in dire need of major renovations; repairs you could have potentially avoided had you taken the proper time and techniques for fleshing out riskier investments. Have a team approach to your investments and make sure you’ve got all areas covered, from finances and assessments to contractors and agents.
Wednesday, March 6, 2013
Below is a guest post by Tiffany Walker. This is a continuation on our discussion on real estate investing. If you would like to write a guest post, please contact me. Click on the About Me link for my contact info.
Tiffany Walker is a former real estate agent who now enjoys freelance writing. She primarily focuses on the issue of real estate investing. When she isn't writing, Tiffany enjoys dabbling in graphic design projects and oil painting.
Mistakes can be looked at as lessons in disguise and true knowledge is gained by either personally experiencing said mistakes or by living vicariously through someone else’s (my preferred method). Regardless there is something to be said about the way you choose to look at your mistakes as well. One popular notion that is attributed to this creed might be, “nothing ventured, nothing gained”. And when speaking about the world of commercial real estate investments, this might be a good way of getting your feet wet in the business.
It’s true, commercial real estate investments offer a wide array of avenues to venture off into and for the savvy investor they can appear to make great choice after great choice, but how is this possible?
Let’s look at a few tips below to help the novice investor get a foothold in the real estate door:
At the end of the day, purchasing commercial real estate can be a worthwhile opportunity to watch your saving grow and be an active participant in your own investments.
Be smart, patient and persistent.
Wednesday, February 20, 2013
Below is a guest post by Doug Chapman from HomeDaddys. As I mentioned in my previous post, real estate investing is a viable way of making good money; this post will give you some more insight on that topic. If you would like to write a guest post, please contact me. Click on the About Me link for my contact info.
When you are thinking about buying real estate, it sometimes gives us all a little bit of an uneasy feeling of whether or not the investment is going to be profitable or not. It isn’t just about buying your dream home anymore; it has become something that many people have done on the side to make an investment both personally and professionally for their future.
I’m at stay-at-home dad but I also do real estate investing on the side, so I have direct knowledge of what are the best ways to go about investing in real estate. It is more complicated than we all think, but it also has the chance to make profitable gains. Don’t get me wrong, there are risks involved and not everything will always pan out, but if you follow the right guidance there is a chance for success.
When I first started an investing real estate gig on the side to help provide more financial support for my family, I got to pick the brain of Del Walmsley, who is big in and around the Houston area after he successfully made his real estate investments a major success in a very short amount of time. His advice, along with hours and hours of research online and in print, got me to where I can confidently speak about what the best practices are for investing in real estate.
Investments as a Rental Property:
This is pretty much the most common practice of investing in real estate. If you buy the property and are the landlord, you obviously are in charge of paying the mortgage, taxes and upkeep costs of maintaining the property. However, being the owner, you will charge enough rent to make up for the costs of these mentioned items as well as possibly making a small chunk of change above the monthly costs for general maintenance. One method that typically works though for the long-term investment is to exercise patience, charging the bare minimum at first to cover the definitive costs of the property and wait until the mortgage is paid off. At that time, the most profits come into play because not only will the property have upped it appreciation value over time, it will also have stood the test of time where it will be a more established property down the road.
However, there are risks as well that you will need to take it upon yourself to manage properly. The amount of time you invest into the property may become a factor, maintaining it appropriately to get the most of the investment. And you need to make sure you always have a tenant, because if not your monthly value cash profit diminishes. A good marketing plan is needed to ensure you always have a tenant, and a property manager, whom you would have to pay, can easily take on the basic upkeep and maintaining of the rental property.
In-Depth Knowledge of Property Investments:
This all sounds fine and dandy in taking the calculated risk of making profits on investing in real estate, but you need to make sure that you don’t just jump into the process before doing all of the proper research. And I’m not talking about just leafing through the internet and reading a few articles. I’m talking about gaining the expertise that will be necessary in making the most off of your investment. This includes understanding the laws and regulations of managing a property, as well as having someone who is already in the business in your back pocket to guide you along. Too many times people that have a few extra bucks and want to instantly try making a profit on real estate investing, and they turn out to have major financial losses because they didn’t do the diligent work on the front end to help in the long run.
You need to know whether you want a residential property compared to an office space, industrial or retail. There are so many minute details to each separate property that you want to make sure you focus on just one of the potential properties, rather than trying to explore many different options, at least from the start.
When you join an investment group, you are placing your property into a pool of investments with other investors, allowing the company who operates the investments run the many different properties among your group. This might alleviate the hassle of the daily/monthly upkeep of the property that you personally are invested into. The company will do the dirty work and take a portion of the profit, but by being in the investment group it takes away the pressure of having vacancy in your property while still making enough profit to survive in the short term.
In the investment group, members typically work together to understand the current market trends and how to best maximize the profits from them. The group also allows members to become more and more familiar with how to manage your property best, and you also tend to gain extensive information about investment practices.
To conclude this brief, Cliff Notes version of investing in real estate, please make sure you realize that there is definitely a ton of potential in investing, but you need to make sure your decisions are based on what you’ve learned throughout proper research rather than just making a knee-jerk reaction. Your profits will benefit greatly by taking the extra time to learn exactly what the ins and outs of investing in real estate are.
Author: Doug Chapman is a staff writer for HomeDaddys, a stay at home dad blog. He specializes in diapers and sippy cups, but is a successful real estate investor on the side.
Wednesday, March 7, 2012
For those of us who are on Canada, the value of our condos and houses was left luckily unscathed after the Great Recession. In fact, the prices took a breather during those dark days and continued its upward trajectory shortly thereafter. As an example, the value of the townhouse we bought back in 2006 gained about 30% in value by 2011.
If we factor in the leveraging effects of owning a mortgage, my return of investment would have been about 100% in 5 years. That's about 15% per year, not a bad investment at all! Naturally, the question that gets frequently asked is whether investing in real estate or in stocks is more profitable. Obviously, circumstances play a big role, but in general, which gives better returns?
Was the Last Decade a Particularly Good Decade for Real Estate in Canada?
Most of us have very good short term memory. In fact, we tend to extrapolate scenarios to predict future events. Tell me that you've never looked at a stock chart and extrapolated the line to see where the price would be 6 or 12 months in the future!
Here at The Catholic Investor, we look for hard and fast data to back up our claims. I'll use a website that I frequently visit to obtain this data. It's the Toronto Real Estate Board website at http://www.torontorealestateboard.com/. They publish, on a monthly basis, a summary of the transactions made in the prior month. They also show the average price of homes in the Toronto Area for the past 45 years on a yearly basis.
If we look at the long term trend of the Toronto house prices (i.e. from 1966 until 2011), the average home price has grown from $21,360 to $465,412. This translates into an annual growth of 7.1%. Although it feels like the last 15 years have been exceptional in terms of real estate price appreciation, the fact is the average annual growth was only 5.9% per year during this period. Looking at Figure 1, where housing prices are plotted on a log scale, we can readily see that the past 15 years have actually been pretty average. On the other hand, housing prices went through the roof in the late 1980s and quickly came back down in the early 1990s.
Figure 1: Average GTA Housing Prices Over the Last 45 Years
So, the conclusion I will draw is that the last one and a half decade had been pretty average in terms of housing price appreciation. Perhaps it was because of the downturn in the early 1990s that made the last decade seem like it was too good to be true. That's just not the case. In some major US cities, housing prices doubled between 2003 and 2006, during the peak of the housing bubble. That translates to approximately 20% growth per year. We were nowhere near those numbers in Toronto.
There is a common strategy in real estate investing that can increase your growth and that is rental income. If you are one of the few people who can afford to buy a second piece of property and rent it out, it seems like it's a no brainer.
In Toronto, a typical 1-bedroom condo apartment typically costs around $250-350K, depending on location, amenities, etc. That same condo unit can fetch around $1000-1500 per month in rent. After deducting property taxes, maintenance fees, one has about $600-900 left per month, which would be enough to cover the payment of a mortgage if one had put 25% down payment and a 25 to 30 year amortization in a mortgage. It's essentially free money, as they say! The unit is self sufficient and as it grows in value, so does one's net worth. One assumption, and a big one at that, is that mortgage rates would remain relatively low. If mortgage rates were to rise, one may have to put money into the investment as rent would not be able to cover the expenses.
So, what do the numbers looks like if we were to buy a condo unit and rent it out today? Let's say we buy a 2-bedroom unit for $400K and we rent it out for $1500. I'm a little conservative on the rent, but let's see what we get. Assumptions made are also shown below. The one thing that I want to point out is that I have not factored in inflation into the mortgage payments. Since the mortgage payments are locked in and do not rise, they effectively get cheaper and cheaper in the future as prices of everything else rises. As for the monthly rent and taxes/fees, they would likely rise with inflation. So, the present value of these would be whatever they are currently. If I've lost you on this...not to worry, in the end, the annual growth would only deviate by a percentage point or so.
I've used 4 different scenarios. The first is an optimistic one where variable mortgage rates would remain at around today's rates for the next 10 years. The second is a very realistic scenario where one can get a 10-year fixed mortgage at 3.8% (this is available today and is likely a smart move if you were to lock in today for 10 years). The third is a pessimistic scenario where the average mortgage rate is seen to be at 6.5%. The last is if we had purchased the property outright from the start. The average return per year are 13.5%, 11.7%, 8.2%, and 9.6%, respectively. Not bad at all! In fact, it's a pretty good investment, especially since I had used a quite conservative rental income.
What's the Catch?
From the scenarios above, it does seem like investing in real estate is free money. As we know, there's no free lunch in this world, what's the catch? There are a number of disadvantages with real estate investing that do not exist with investing in stocks or funds. They include finding renters and collecting rent, work in maintaining the property, using the "room" that you could have used in buying a bigger house for yourself, etc. However, the biggest catch is quite apparent, especially to home owners across the border, in the United States. They would quickly tell you that the housing bust of 2008 wiped out a huge portion of their net worth.
By owning a mortgage, one is essentially leveraging up on the investment. By taking advantage of the low mortgage rates (Scenario 1 and 2), we were able to increase our returns. But as we can see in Scenario 3, if the rates rise, it actually hurts us to borrow. In any case, because we are likely not able to buy a property outright from the start, we would have to leverage up. It's great when the market goes up, but if we see a repeat of the US housing market in 2008 here in Canada, it would be disastrous. Let's say the market goes down 20%...doesn't sound too bad, right? Wrong. In our case, 20% of $400K is $80K. We put down $100K initially. So, if we were to sell the house right there and then, we would have banked a -80% return! Yikes!
In fact, this is the main reason there are so many foreclosures in the US. It's not that people could not afford the mortgage payments, it's because the house value has dropped so much that it makes no sense to keep paying the payments because the home owners are so deep in the red. So, the biggest risk in real estate investing is a housing market downturn.
So Which Is Better? Real Estate or Stocks?
It is true that the real estate market is less volatile than the stock market, but it is also important to remember that volatility does not equate to risk. While some may argue that real estate investing is safer, a much longer debate is required for that topic. Here's the summary for real estate investing: 1) it takes more work (renting out, etc.), 2) there is less volatility, 3) if you own a mortgage, in the less likely event of a market downturn, your losses are amplified.
As for stocks, since most people do not buy on margin or trade options exclusively, the leveraging effects are not as large. Individual stocks and even the market in general are more volatile than the real estate market. However, if you know what you are doing, you may be able to capitalize on this volatility.
In the end, it's about your comfort level. Most people feel safer with real estate, because of its tangibility and the notion that people always need to live somewhere. Fair enough. However, if you look at the richest people on the planet, a large majority got there by owning awesome businesses, and only a handful got there through real estate. I believe that speaks volumes. As such, I'm still a stocks kinda guy!