Friday, September 2, 2016

Loan Resets to Start Kicking in – Will Your Payment Jump Up? What Should You Do?

In the period between 2006 and 2008, a large number of interest-only loans were taken.

These loans are not really interest-only for all eternity. These are typically loans that were interest-only for 10 years, and then were due to become fully amortized until the end of the loan period. One detail that many borrowers may have missed, is that if the total loan period is 30 years (the most common), and the loan is interest-only for 10 years, then the amortization that follows the 10 interest-only years will be amortization OVER 20 YEARS!

Thus when the loan resets to being fully amortized after the first 10 years, the borrower will experience the high payment jump of going from interest-only to going to a 20-year full amortization. For a lot of borrowers, this will be a shock! Of course the “silver lining” is that principal is being paid under the new fully amortized schedule, so the loan balance gets lower every month. However even when the loan was interest-only, inflation was constantly eroding it anyway.
What is the borrower to do?

If the borrower can afford the increased payment with no problem, there is not much that needs to be done. Let the loan be paid off and just continue as before. If the payment load is too heavy, and the owner’s credit and income are good (especially if the owner has under 10 properties with loans on them), a refinance would a be a logical step – good credit can get 30-years fixed rate loans at a bit over 4% - fixed for 30 years. The payments will be higher than the interest-only payments from before, but the low interest rate and the 30-year amortization (as opposed to 20 years), will likely make the payment far lower than the alternative. Another benefit – the old loan is likely NOT a true fixed-rate loan so as interest rates climb in the future (if they do), the already-high payment is only going to get higher still. With a 30-year fixed-rate loan, such a thing cannot happen.

If a refinance is not possible, the next thing to look into is the possibility of selling the house. In some markets, over the past few years, much equity was built as home prices appreciated significantly. A sale will pay off the unpleasant loan, and most likely will generate a profit (perhaps a handsome profit at that).

One thing to do if a sale is not possible, if the house is underwater (can still be the case in some markets), or if the equity is thin so the sales expenses will create a net shortage, is to consider selling to an investor for essentially no-money-down on a contract-for-deed in states that allow it. That investor may be attracted to the no-down (or low down) purchase and may have the resources to pay the 20-year amortization loan while increasing his/her equity via doing so.

Of course, an option of last resort is to simply walk away. There are lots of investors whose credit is still damaged from the aftermath of the recession, so the credit hit is not devastating to an already-low credit score. Nevertheless, such an act will increase the time it will take for the investor’s credit to bounce back and start the count from zero again. This is not a recommended action to take.

Most important is to be aware of the upcoming reset, and prepare before it hits.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Affordable New Construction Homes Getting Scarce

In an article in the Wall Street Journal from May 7th, 2016 by Chris Kirkham, we learn how builders of new homes have to focus more on the second-tier and higher product. The reason is that land costs (including local fees) have increased, as well as building costs. Builders have a harder time squeezing a profit from the lower-priced new homes.

This is becoming an issue with families seeking to buy new affordable homes.
As investors, this points to a certain window in time in which we can get brand new homes at reasonable prices.  We are still buying new homes for $130K-$170K, mostly in the middle of this range. Rentals are strong (partly because some would-be-owners become tenant due to lack of affordable homes to buy), and needless to say, if the more affordable homes will become scarce, it is likely to bode well for their appreciation, as the higher priced home in a subdivision will provide comparable values which will help the appreciation of the more affordable homes. This is how it happened historically.
The ability we still have as investors to buy the more affordable (yet quality) product, coupled with the still-low mortgage interest rates, create a sweet spot in time to add to our real estate investment portfolio. 
The WSJ article by Chris Kirkham can be found here
We will discuss this , as well as a host of other relevant and important issues, at our quarterly ICG 1-Day Expo near the San Francisco Airport THIS SATURDAY – May 21st. For details, see: www.icgre.com/events. Anyone mentioning this blog can attend free – just email us at info@icgre.com and write in the subject line, "Read your blog on construction homes getting scarce." We will have experts about complete insurance and umbrella coverage nationwide, 1031 exchanges, property management, and lending, among others. Looking forward.

Monday, May 16, 2016

The Incredible Power of the 30-year Fixed-Rate Loan

The 30-year fixed rate loan does not usually get its due as an amazing financial tool that should be utilized by any savvy investor who can get it. For many foreigners, it's incomprehensible that in the U.S. we can get a loan that will never keep up with the cost of living for 30 years. During that period, essentially everything else DOES keep up with the cost of living, including rents. Only the mortgage payment and balance (which also gets chipped down by amortization) do not keep up with inflation. 

You can talk to many borrowers who have taken 30-year fixed rate loans and after, say, 16 years, realized that although there are 14 years remaining to pay off the loan, the loan balance AND the payment seem very low relative to marketplace rents and prices. The remaining 14 years is almost meaningless, since in many cases (statistically and historically) the loan balance will be a small fraction of the home price and not very "meaningfu." Just to get some perspective, most other countries on earth have loans that constantly adjust based on inflation. Both the payment and the balance track inflation all the time, usually with no yearly and lifetime caps as adjustable loans have in the U.S.

The power and positive effect on one’s financial future get magnified when you consider that in 2016 we are still in a period in which interest rates are very low.  While investors cannot get the same favorable loans as homeowners, it is nevertheless quite common nowadays to see investors getting a rate of between 4.25% and 4.75% on Single Family Homes (SFHs) investment properties. 

From a historical perspective, these are extremely low rates. Most experts think that in the future, mortgage rates will rise; from a historical perspective even 7% is considered a low rate. Thus, these days, you can “turbo boost” the great power of the never-changing-30-year fixed rate loan by also locking in these amazing rates which will never change. If in the following years interest rates indeed go up, you will feel quite good about having locked under-5% rates forever.

Once you secure your  fixed rate loans, two inexorable forces start operating incessantly: inflation erodes your loan (both the payment and the remaining balance), and the tenant occupying your SFH pays rent which goes in part towards paying down the loan principal every month. These two forces create a powerful financial future for you.

Many investors think that if a 30-year fixed rate loan is good, then a 15-year loan must be better. I actually beg to differ. You can always pay a 30-year loan in 15 years (or 14 or 20 or 10 or 8) if you wish – just add some extra to the principal payment. However you cannot pay a 15-year loan off in 30-years. Thus the 15-year loan FORCES you to make the higher payment while the 30-year loan gives you the important flexibility of keeping your payments low OR making them high based on your financial situation and other considerations. 

Some would say that the 15-year loan is also better since it has a better rate. True, the 15-year rate may be 0.25% or even 0.5% better than the 30-year rate. However, in my opinion this is not enough to justify the enormous loss in flexibility. In addition, having the loan for a longer time allows inflation to “erode” the loan even further. This last consideration greatly minimizes the argument some investors make that “...with a 30-year loan I pay hundreds of thousands of dollars more over the life of the loan." 

One factor missing here is that they neglect the TIME VALUE OF MONEY! These extra dollars paid in year 20, 22, 28 etc., are in fact extremely “cheap” dollars in the sense that their buying power is greatly lowered over time. If the value of these future dollars were to be calculated based on the PRESENT buying power of the dollar, some of the later payments may be worth mere pennies on the dollar. 

In summary I recommend getting a 30-year loan and then choose how long to take to pay it (anywhere between zero and thirty years – you choose!).

While interest rates are low, it would behoove the smart investor to buy SFHs and get 30-year fixed rate loans on them while this “window” is open. Investors can finance up to 10 residential properties using conventional 30-year fixed rate loans (if their credit permits).  With some maneuvering, married couples may be able to stretch it to 20. If you are under that 10  (or 20, as the case may be) property barrier, it would be quite a smart move to buy SFHs and utilize the incredible loans you can get. You may wish to pay the loan off in 16 years to pay for your kid's college education (SFHs are effective at this – especially if they don’t go through a crazy 10-year cycle as we had from 2004-2014). You could aim for the properties to be paid off at your retirement date (or the savvier move is just realizing how low they have become and let inflation keep eroding them as equity grows into your retirement years, providing financial growth well into the future in the face of ever-increasing lifespans, and the need for our finances to keep up with our life expectancy).

Thirty-year fixed rate loans are available on 1-4 residential units, which mostly means Single Family Homes – the ideal investment for most individual real estate investors, as we have covered in a previous blog.

We will discuss this topic, as well as many other crucial topics for investors, at our Quarterly 1-Day Expo on Saturday May 21st near SFO. We will have market teams present, including a new exciting market... We have also invited top notch experts to lecture. We will have experts on Property Management, 1031 Exchanges and Proper Insurance – the first and most important barrier in protecting your assets, including nationwide umbrellas. 

Everyone mentioning this blog is invited to attend for free, with associates. Just email us at info@icgre.com to register, and in the subject line write, 'Read your blog!' Then give us your contact information. We will respond with a confirmation for your free entry. AND that is all. We hate spam as much as you do. See you there.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

The Ideal Properties for Real Estate Investment for The Busy Professional

As a busy professional, it is likely that your income will be sufficient to qualify for loans on investment properties – especially Single Family Homes – in most of the U.S. markets.  A high percentage of busy professionals also have good credit scores, which bodes well for getting good financing.

I maintain that the ideal property for real estate investment for the busy professional is the Single Family Home (SFH). SFHs are almost a perfect property for the individual investor who also has a regular job or business. SFHs are still the “American Dream” for most people. They are also a relatively attainable dream in many large metropolitan areas in the U.S. where prices are quite affordable, even in 2016.
SFHs are essentially the “liquid” real estate since when it is time to sell your potential buyer pool is the largest – effectively all home-buyers in the marketplace.  These homes are the real estate investment on which you can get the most powerful loan in the real estate universe – the magical fixed-rate, 30-year loan. 

Technically this loan is available on 1 to 4 residential units so duplexes, triplexes and four-plexes also qualify. However, SFHs are usually superior to the 2-4 unit properties. In good areas you will usually find only SFHs, while you may have to travel to another part of town to see the “plexes” and they will usually be surrounded by many other “plexes."  The “plexes” are more likely to present management challenges, have more short-term tenants (statistically) and to top it off, may not necessarily provide as good an appreciation over the long term. 

One exception is new duplexes in white-collar areas, but overall the SFHs are superior. I have been buying homes for well over 30 years, and helped people buy nearly 10,000 homes in dozens of markets. During these decades, I have witnessed many “plexes” and their performance as well as many thousands of SFHs. My experience, and the experiences of thousands of investors, leads me to favor the SFHs over the “plexes.”

Buying larger residential properties – apartment complexes – can be a good investment, but there are areas where the investor needs to be an expert. The optimal apartment complex size, based on the experience of most apartment complex investors, is between 100 and 300 (many say 150-300) units, so economies of scale can be utilized to improve cash flow. 
For example, you may need one full time on-site manager and one full-time maintenance person for a 110-unit complex, but if you have a 60-unit complex, you may STILL need to use one full-time on site manager and one full time on site maintenance person – but with 50 less rents coming in! That is NOT using economies of scale very well.  There is a lot to discuss on the subject of large apartment complexes, but for the scope of this article, they require deep expertise to run properly.  
They may take up much more time than a busy professional has available; they are NOT financed with the magical 30-year fixed rate loans, and they usually call for a large investment upfront. For the busy professional, Single Family Homes present a simple, effective, and very powerful investment, with outstanding financing that cannot be found anywhere else and a time commitment, which is relatively low. 
We will discuss this topic, as well as many other crucial topics for investors, at our Quarterly 1-Day Expo on Saturday May 21st near SFO. We will have market teams present, including a new exciting market. We have also invited top-notch experts to speak on Property Management, 1031 Exchanges and Proper Insurance – the first and most important barrier in protecting your assets, including nationwide umbrellas. Everyone mentioning this blog is invited to attend free, with associates. Just email us at info@icgre.com to register, and in the subject line write: Saw your blog! See you there.



Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Do You Think You Can Never get College Aid For Your Kids Due to Your High Income?

Many of you may automatically assume that you will get no college aid when your kids arrive at that age, due to your income, which you assume is too high (especially if you are in Silicon Valley) and crosses all the threshold.

Surprisingly, it is not a matter of just how high your raw income is. It is a much more complex matter of how your overall financing looks, is arranged, even optimized.

For this important knowledge, we have invited Gary Sipos, MBA, AIF, to educate us (no pun intended) on the subject. Gary has helped numerous families get into college in ways that were much more beneficial and frugal than they had imagined.

I always talk about real estate investments, the way we do it at ICG, as a means for a stable financial future with two main items: retirements and your kids’ college. I like to explain how Single Family Home investments done with a long horizon can assist both these goal in a very powerful way.

It is only natural that if we can optimize one of our biggest potential expenses, we would like to know about it.

Gary will be speaking THIS SATURDAY, March 5th, at our ICG 1-Day Expo near SFO. There will also be experts on financial planning, special lenders and loan programs, and market teams from choice U.S. markets for us to meet, learn from, and be exposed to some great properties.

Anyone mentioning this blog can attend for free (with guests who can come for free as well). Just email us at info@icgre.comto register. See you this Saturday.


Wednesday, January 13, 2016

2016 and the Real Estate Investor

The year is off to a decent start--the fears many investors had that mortgage rates will go up very quickly due to the Fed’s raising the short-term rates recently have not only not materialized, but actually mortgage rates have gone down twice. I will address it in a separate blog entry but as you can see there is no immediate correlation. Needless to say mortgage interest rates WILL go up at some point which in part serves to frame the most important aspect of 2016.

During 2016 mortgage interest rates are likely to remain quite low for the entire (or most of the ) year. As single family homes investors, those of you with decent credit and not a huge portfolio can still qualify and get these coveted 30-year fixed rate loans that you can only get on Single Family Homes (technically 1-4 residential units).

This is the year to focus and be effective in buying solid homes financed by these 30-year fixed rate loans at these incredible interest rates and lock them forever. You will feel like a genius later on after rates have climbed and here you are with an under-5% loan fixed forever, and never changing with the cost of inflation. In a continuous manner, inflation erodes your fixed loan, and the tenant is paying it off one little month at a time.

Do this in 2016. Do this several times. You will be setting up your financial future.

As far as markets, there may not be large appreciation swings in most markets during 2016. In a funny way the ever-solid Texas is appreciating decently now, but people have some questions about its overall economy.

Oklahoma City with brand-new homes (under 50% of the property tax bite of Texas; it is poised to provide better cash flow on similar rents and home prices – which it has) is a very serious candidate for solid investments.

Jacksonville, Florida is the market least appreciated in the state so far and carries the best appreciation potential. Also in 2016 the Panama Canal project is slated to be finished, potentially generating major large-ship traffic into the Jacksonville port. Will they finish this gargantuan project on time? Will it drift over to 2017? Regardless, it is a dominant event.

Get those good single family homes and finance them with low 30-year fixed rate loans. Rinse and repeat. You will very likely be quite happy in the future when you look back at what you have done. We will be discussing this in detail, along with market teams and incredible experts, during our next quarterly 1-Day Expo near SFO on Saturday March 5th. Everyone citing this blog can attend for free with guests. Just email us at info@icgre.com or call us at 415-927-7504.

Happy New Year!:

Monday, November 30, 2015

Can We See Real Estate Trends by Media Headlines?

Media headlines have been a pretty good gauge on the overall mood and trends in the real estate industry.  During the big boom of 2005 and 2006, the headlines were screaming, “When is the bubble going to burst?” (A sage point to ponder as it turned out.) During the dark ages of 2008 - 2010, the media headlines took pains to emphasize just how much prices were down in so many markets – a good tip for the savvy buyer.

What does it look like these days?

Within the past couple of months here are a few headlines: October 20th in the Wall Street Journal, the headline to an article by Jeffrey Sparshott says, “Builder Optimism Hits 10-Year High.” I believe you can guess what the article is about. In any case due to the blessed internet – you can just look it up. Another headline, again from the Wall Street Journal, by Anna Louise Sussman and Laura Kusisto says, “Home Sales Head for Best Year Since 2007.” Again pretty self-explanatory.

The above two articles convey good optimism and strong home sales. For real estate investors this may not always be the best news, as naturally they hunt for bargains. Nevertheless having a strong real estate market in many cities lends itself to strong occupancy, builder (built) homes (always an attractive investor buy due to builder incentives, and new homes bode well for a long hold with minimal potential repairs, and usually the best financing). Having solid real estate markets is a strong backdrop for our tried-and-true-buy-and-hold-with-a-30-year-fixed-mortgage strategy. Add this to low rates still existing today and you have some very good opportunities to expand your portfolio, lock in super low rates forever and change your financial future.

And about those rates – isn’t the Fed just about to raise rates? Let’s look at this headline from the November 24, 2015, San Francisco Chronicle article by Kathleen Pender, “Rate Hike Won’t Hit Too Hard – At First.” I concur—rate hikes will most likely begin by ¼ of a point for short term debt. In addition this anticipation may already be baked in the current mortgage rates. It will most likely be a while before the needle moves on mortgage rates in a significant manner.

With that being said the Fed’s intention highlight yet again that we operate within a “golden window” of super low mortgage rates. For new investors this seems like the norm. For veteran investors, we recognize these rates as the lowest in decades. If anyone has the ability to fix these rates forever in a loan that never keeps up with inflation – now may be the time.

During our quarterly 1-Day Expo THIS SATURDAY – December 5, 2015, we will have a sophisticated asset protection attorney—back by popular demand—Brett Lytle, who will speak on asset protection. Brett always has the most cutting-edge information on protecting our assets and the pros and cons of the type of entities we form.  Ron Stempek, MS-Tax, CPA, will speak on optimizing your taxes for reporting 2015—important must-know information for optimizing tax dollars, and actions to take going into the new year. Christopher Orr, Director of Institutional Products at PENSCO will be speaking on retirement savings goals by using self-directed IRAs, buying properties from a self-directed IRA, and using this vehicle to further your wealth.  As always, we have cutting edge markets teams, lenders, networking and lots of Q&A time. 

Anyone contacting us and mentioning this blog can attend free (email to info@icgre.com or call us at 415-927-7504). If you email us, put in the subject “I read your blog on Blogger” and give us your name and phone number so we can confirm with you.

Looking forward to seeing you, and Happy Holidays!