How to Research Investment Properties Before You Buy

How to Research Investment Properties Before You Buy

There’s a level of risk inherent to any investment, but successful investors can tell you that making money in this manner should never be a game of chance. Research constitutes a significant portion of any investor’s job, and that’s especially applicable when dealing with real estate. Any number of factors could affect the value of your property, but these tips can help you get some sensible grounding in the industry.

Learn the Lay of the Land

The value of a property is about a lot more than the size and quality of the home. The neighborhood and city it occupies is just as important, and getting a feel from the street level can help you not just predict what the property is worth now but what it might be worth in the future. If possible, you’ll want to make sure to visit the house itself so you can get an understanding of the local traffic situation, aesthetics, and access to entertainment and public facilities. Driving around can give you a big picture understanding, but going out on foot is just as important. Speak with local business owners and residents to get an understanding of the attitudes and get to know about upcoming development projects. This can be a good barometer for how well you can expect your property’s value to grow.

Assess the Market

There are a number of online resources that can help you determine if the property you’re looking at is a smart investment or a money trap. Check with a local Realtor or with online rental directories to get an understanding of typical rent in the area, and then evaluate that against your budget and the cost of your investment. Zillow can be a great resource here. You can also dig up the mortgage and lien history on your property directly. This information is public record and can be uncovered online without too much effort.

Scope Out Total Expenses

Figuring out the cost of your investment is about more than just comparing the cost of your mortgage to the average rent. You also have to take utilities, maintenance, and insurance into consideration. This will help you more accurately determine what your overall costs can be. And while some owners may be reticent to give up this information, the promise of a reliable buyer can often encourage them to be transparent with that data.

After putting these tips to use and conducting thorough research, you are ready to make your investment!

The Best Country for Real Estate Investment

The Best Country for Real Estate Investment

As humans, we like things orderly, and it’s in our nature to look at all the important things and rank them. But life is generally more complicated than that, and “the best” is often subjective and subject to any number of different factors. That’s as true for the world of real estate as anywhere else. In short, the best place for investing in real estate is determined by your own situation, your unique ambitions, and your interests. In short, everyone’s best country for real estate investment is different.

That means that you should be asking yourself some important questions when it comes to deciding where you’d like to invest your money. You’ll want to begin with the practical considerations of what resources you have available to you. Finances are a big factor here. The Georgian market, for instance, won’t pay sizable returns on investments that aren’t in the six figures, but less developed countries could see a better return with a smaller investment. Just keep in mind that these regional markets are always shifting, so staying abreast of shifts in the market and assessing your finances is of critical importance.

It’s also important to consider that while less developed countries than the U.S. can result in more generous profits, the onus will be on you to do more of the heavy lifting. That means that you need to consider your education level within the industry and how much time and effort you’re willing to devote towards your investments. These will serve as a major determinant factor in your ideal country for investment. Frontier markets can make you a lot with relatively little cash upfront, but you’ll be working that much harder to get yourself set up.

And while frontier markets may be great in the long term, you’ll want to consider whether yield of appreciation is more important to you. Investors with more money to spare and less need for cash upfront will find the best results in economies like Georgia that are likely to see substantive increases in property value over the course of years or decades. Those just looking for some quick monthly income could look as close as Rust Belt states in The U.S. where they can easily earn between 20 and 40% yield.

It would be insincere to make a list of the best investment markets, both because these change regularly and because they’re highly circumstantial. What works for you is going to be decided by your situation, and that means undertaking a level of personal research to track down the market that meets your needs.

How to Figure Out if Your Investment is a Good Deal

How to Figure Out if Your Investment is a Good Deal

Investing in real estate can be a lucrative experience, but it doesn’t come without its share of risks. Before you invest your savings in any real estate venture, it’s important to do enough research to help you feel confident that the risk is small compared to the potential gains. Even then, employing certain tactics, such as those listed here, can help you determine if you’re taking a good risk.
Follow the 1% Rule
The 1% rule states that you should be able to rent the property out for 1% of the purchase price. Following this rule means that you can expect to generate a positive cash flow, which will make the investment profitable and worthwhile. If you can’t reasonably expect tenants to pay rent equivalent to 1% of the property’s value, you’re better off looking for a more promising investment.
Ignore the Media Hype
There are a number of television shows that push the idea that you’ll make a fortune off every investment. Instead of buying into that, concentrate on turning a profit. Even a small profit is better than nothing. The best way to do this is to buy the worst property in a good neighborhood and fix it up as cheaply as possible. Go for the less expensive countertops and appliances. After all, these items are easily replaced.
Calculate the Cap Rate
This is an equation investors use to determine the profitability of any investment. It compares the purchase price to the potential income. The cap rate helps you determine if you will be able to earn back your investment within one year of owning the property. If not, this would be considered a bad or high-risk investment.
Look at the Listing
If there’s a noticeable lack of photos and information in the listing, you can expect to do more work on the property. That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a bad risk, if you’re willing to do the work. In many cases, these types of properties are priced to sell and the seller just wants to get rid of it. This is an opportunity to save money on the purchase price and maximize your investment, although the location of the property should still be considered.
There are many more strategies for identifying the risk of investment properties. As you become more experienced, you’ll develop your own ability to identify good and bad risks. Even when you estimate something to be a good risk, you may still misjudge the opportunity. Mistakes will happen, but perseverance will help you turn those bad investments into profitable learning experiences.
Your Guide To Understanding Property Investment Lingo

Your Guide To Understanding Property Investment Lingo

Real estate is one of those industries that has plenty of jargon. Some terms may sound like a totally different language. For regular consumers, it is not critically important to understand all the jargon. For real estate investors, industry jargon matters. Here are some of the terms investors should add to their daily vocabulary.

Net Operating Income

Known as NOI, this term defines how much cash flow investors generate if there is no lien or mortgage on the property. Most investors calculate NOI on an annual basis minus vacancy rates and expenses. Experts say investors should see a 40 to 50 percent NOI when compared to net rental income.

Cap Rate

The capitalization rate, also known as the cap rate, is used to determine an investment’s annual return based on the estimated profit generated from a property in one year. To calculate the cap rate, divide the above mentioned NOI by the sales price or the appraised value of a property.

Real Estate Owned

When investors use the term real estate owned (REO), they are referring to a property that is currently owned by a bank. In most cases, the property went into foreclosure, and the bank listed the property for sale at a public auction. When a property does not sell at auction, the bank must maintain possession of the property. REO properties are popular among real estate investors since banks often list these homes for much less than their appraised value.

Capital Gains

The goal of any investment property is to make money by renting or by capital appreciation, also known as capital gain. To determine the capital gain of a property, subtract the current value of the investment by the purchase price. If there is a gain in value, investors must pay a capital gains tax. However, the tax is not applicable until the asset is sold

.Debt-to-Equity Ratio

This ratio helps investors determine how much real ownership they have in a property. The ratio, expressed as a percentage, compares the total debt owed on an investment compared to its equity. For example, if an investor buys a property valued at $100,000 and used an $80,000 mortgage plus $20,000 of their own money as a down payment, the investment would have an 80 percent debt-to-equity ratio. Many banks and mortgage lenders prefer a ratio of 80 percent or less.
Now that you have a better understanding of some of the most frequently used jargon in the real estate investment industry, you are ready to tackle your next investment with ease.
Is the Winter the Best Season to Make an Investment?

Is the Winter the Best Season to Make an Investment?

Real estate agents have long known that the winter months provide a slight softening in the prices of homes. This is due to a number of factors. One is the simple fact that people, especially those in the more northern regions of the country, do not want to deal with the many hassles of moving when they have potentially sub-zero and blizzard-like conditions to contend with. Another factor is that people who have kids of school age typically will avoid removing their kids from a given school halfway through the year.

But even higher-end properties and condominiums tend to see slight reductions in prices over the winter months. More importantly, real estate prices almost never rise throughout the winter even in years with significant appreciation. The universality of this trend across the entire gamut of real estate offerings means that for those who can deal with the impositions of buying a new home between November and March, doing so may have some nice rewards.

recent article went through some of the hard evidence that there is a secular decline in home prices throughout the winter months. The most compelling of these pieces of evidence is an index known as the Case-Schiller Price Index, which tracks general real estate prices throughout the country, independent of the underlying composition of the property types that are selling.This index provides a way to adjust for the seasonal composition of home types, which can vary quite a bit. It shows that, even adjusted for the types of properties that are sold, there is a clear secular decline in home prices throughout the winter months. And this can often amount to a three to five percent savings for homebuyers that are willing to close transactions in this period.

Of particular interest is the fact that the Case-Schiller Price Index almost never increases throughout the winter months. And this is true even in years that have experienced tremendous appreciation in home prices, like 2012. This means that in years where sharp appreciation in home prices is likely, buying between November and March could save buyers more than 10 percent on their purchase price.

This is a good strategy to keep in mind, especially for those who may need to buy using a mortgage. 10 percent differences in the purchase price can make a huge difference in the overall returns on investment.

Waterfront Property: What to Avoid When Investing

Waterfront Property: What to Avoid When Investing

Buying a luxurious waterfront property will reap the long-term rewards of enjoyment on the property. With that said, people must understand a few key facts to know what they must avoid when buying beautiful waterfront properties. Waterfront properties can turn into a hassle if not bought under the right conditions. From the ongoing battle with rust and mold to being in a potential flood zone, waterfront properties can present a number of challenges. Potential home buyers must do their due diligence to make a solid real estate investment.

#1: Failure to Examine the Bulkheads

The bulkheads require a specialist to inspect the bulkheads because this protects the property from the water. Bulkheads could be logs, large stones or a concrete slab. Ensuring its integrity from the start is a great way to protect a real estate investment.

#2: Not Preparing the Financing

Before an individual goes out to buy a waterfront property, they should first understand how the financing must be there. Waterfront property classifies under a specialty loan, and they will normally cost more than a regular property. Because of this, home buyers shouldn’t wait until the last minute to try to put the financing together because it will cost more.

#3: Not Checking That It Can Withstand Harsh Weather

Waterfront property will normally put up with more abuse than a regular home because it sits on a waterfront. Because of this, the property could face more wear and tear from mother nature. Check to see that the property uses stainless steel, and they have storm shutters for the home.

#4: Not Securing the Right Property Insurance

When an individual owns waterfront property, they must secure the right type of property insurance to protect themselves. Living near the water opens the home to the potential for flooding, so an individual should have the right kind of flood insurance to protect them. Not to mention, they should look carefully at the terms of the flood insurance. Insurance often comes down to someone’s level of risk tolerance, but when someone owns waterfront property, flood insurance is a must.

These are a few things that people should avoid when it comes to buying a waterfront property. These mistakes can cost a homeowner thousands of dollars. Many times, when someone goes to buy a property like this, they feel excited to own it, but they have to keep their wits about them and examine it carefully.

4 West Coast Cities That Are Worth Your Real Estate Investment

4 West Coast Cities That Are Worth Your Real Estate Investment

With its sprawling natural wilderness set next to cities booming with high-tech business ventures, West Coast cities are increasingly viewed as a real estate entrepreneur’s dream come true when it comes to outstanding investment opportunities. Here are just four great cities with amazing potential for investors looking for properties that will provide healthy profits and rising value in the years to come.

1. Portland, Oregon
Smaller and more approachable than its sibling cities Seattle and San Francisco, Portland still has a booming real estate market thanks to its quality of life and its setting as the headquarters for industry titans like Nike and Intel. Portland is especially popular for young people, who have moved to the city in droves for its vicinity to natural wonders such as Mt. Hood and the Oregon coast and its numerous bookstores, coffee shops, and fine dining restaurants.

2. San Francisco, California
With its proximity to Silicon Valley and Stanford University, San Francisco is a powerhouse location for the tech world, with tech billionaires driving a market for great real estate opportunities and wonderful standards of living. With its beautiful views and charming hillside apartment buildings, San Francisco should be at the top of any real estate investor’s list for high-value opportunities.

3. Seattle, Washington
The birthplace of Microsoft and Starbucks, Seattle truly has it all for savvy real estate investors: A large professional class eager to move to the city for its stunning natural wonders and high culture, and a real estate market that is set to continue its astounding arc in value as companies like Amazon move to the city for its tech-friendly culture and high standard of living.

4. Napa, California
When most people think of Napa Valley, they think of sprawling vineyards and Michelin-starred restaurants. The high quality of life in Napa, the largest city in the region, is driving a booming real estate market that provides incredible deals for entrepreneurs aiming to rent out properties. The added bonus of owning property one of the most beautiful regions in America is also a big plus for investors!

For these reasons, the West Coast is home to some of the hottest real estate markets in the world. For the right investor, the region presents unbelievable opportunities for growth and personal satisfaction in the foreseeable future. Combining high quality of life and an entrepreneurial spirit that fostered business geniuses like Bill Gates, Howard Schultz, and Steve Jobs, the West Coast truly has it all. For real estate entrepreneurs, that is business done right!

Making Real Estate Investments in a Competitive Market

Making Real Estate Investments in a Competitive Market

Building a profitable real estate portfolio is a proven way to attain financial freedom. However, finding profitable investments on a continuous basis is a challenge, especially in red-hot housing markets. When demand is greater than supply, housing prices rise causing many investors to struggle with finding those lucrative discounted properties. Here are some tips that will help investors find profitable deals in competitive markets.

Search for Less Competitive Markets 

Although the housing market is hot in many locations, there are still regions in the U.S. where competition is minimal and prices are low. However, to find these markets, investors will need to step outside their comfort zone and look for areas where they do not normally invest. The Midwest, the Deep South, and some Southwestern locations are still affordable. Additionally, these regions are at the least amount of risk to see deep losses in value if the housing market does tank. Because properties in these regions are affordable and are typically not subject to the regular up and down cycles of appreciation and depreciation, investors can find profitable properties that can help them shore up their portfolios.

Look for “Quick Flips” 

Finding a property that produces huge profits in a competitive market is a rarity. Therefore, many successful investors turn to “quick flips.” Essentially, they scale down the size of their projects and look for smaller investments that produce smaller returns. Foreclosures, short sales, and distressed properties will always sell at discounted prices in any market, so it should not be any trouble finding properties at reasonable prices that investors can flip in a short time frame.

Narrow Searches to “Off Market Properties” 

The bottom line in today’s real estate market is many sellers want to market their properties privately. Instead of all the headaches of dealing with an aggressive marketing strategy, some sellers just want to go through the process quietly. This is good news for real estate investors who are struggling to find quality deals with “on market” properties. To find quality off-market deals, investors should contact agents in their chosen regions and ask for information about properties for sale that are not listed on the MLS. A few other tried and true methods to find profitable deals is through networking, word of mouth or to just keep looking around.

Keeping these tips in mind when you are looking to make your next investment in this competitive market, will make your next investment a breeze.

How Flipping Houses Is Profitable For Investors

How Flipping Houses Is Profitable For Investors

Television reality shows, like Flip This House, give a skewed impression of the reality of flipping a house. Unfortunately, many new investors jump right in, believing they will make those big paydays. They often end up disappointed and taking huge losses. While every house won’t sell for as much as reality television implies, there is still money to be made, if you act wisely.
How Much of a Profit Can You Really Expect?
It’s difficult to give an accurate estimate because the only way to measure this is by looking at all home sales. The sales in a given region within a specified time frame provide the general home sale price for properties in that area. For instance, ATTOM reports that housing sales averaged $65,520 in the second quarter of this year, but that number doesn’t differentiate between fix and flip investments and other residential sales.
When going directly to investors for information, it’s estimated that they make an average of $30,000 on each fix and flip. This is acknowledging that some investments may bring in less, while others may bring in more. It depends on the overall value of the home, the resources invested in its renovation, and the health of the market in that area.
How Can You Maximize Your Potential Profits?
While you may not be able to do much about the health of the market, you can act to affect the home’s value by renovating wisely. The real trick is to spend as little as possible on repairing the property and getting it back on the market quickly. As a general rule, the more time you spend fixing up a property, the bigger the chance that something major will eat up your resources.
One thing to keep in mind is not to update features that won’t boost the home’s resale value. When a buyer is interested in the property, their lender will send an appraiser out to inspect the property. If the appraiser doesn’t agree with your estimate of the home’s value, you’ll likely lose money on those upgrades. It’s a good idea to consult a realtor, or a private appraiser, for insight into the upgrades you want to make.
Overall, you will want to keep upgrades simple and cost-effective. Bear in mind that major upgrades may not appeal to homebuyers, who will likely remodel to add their own style, anyway. Look for properties that can be made sale-ready with just some simple and relatively cheap improvements to maximize your return on investment.
How To Protect Yourself Against Sketchy Turnkey Rental Property Companies

How To Protect Yourself Against Sketchy Turnkey Rental Property Companies

A growing number of investors have decided to flee the volatile stock market seeking safety, and they will find this in hard assets like in real estate. Nevertheless, many people wish to stay a passive investor, and they don’t want to knock on doors seeking foreclosures and fixing toilets while working as the landlord. A simple search on Google for passive real estate will equate to people becoming the victim of online advertising in a market property known as turn-key rental properties. But what is a turn-key rental property? And is it truly worth your investment?

Turn-Key: What Does It Mean?

To most investors, turnkey sounds like nothing more than a buzzword, and a lot of people throw it around. Many times, the people who throw it around are the new companies that don’t have a definition of what this means. What’s the standard that defines this word? For the uneducated buyer, you might assume that turnkey properties mean that you don’t have to do anything. Don’t let something that looks too good to be true pull you in. The false belief that someone else will renovate, buy, lease and manage the property while all the other people have to do is deposit the rent check is false.

The Truth

Some companies will sell a turnkey property that will be fully renovated to what looks like-new condition. You will need a property manager who understands how this works. Some companies only slap on a little paint, calling it turnkey. They have hopes that they will attract buyers from out of state.

How Can Investors Protect Themselves

People have to learn how to disregard the marketing in the message. The marketing is what investors have to stay alert to the most. People don’t want good marketers to manipulate them simply because they understand how psychology works. Beware of messages that say, “This is turnkey, and you won’t have to lift a finger.” In addition, investors should go to see the property before they buy it because of what it looks like in photos might be misleading in person.

What’s the bottom line with these investments? Although a may look like it has a cheap and reasonable price, chances are that there will be more work and time you will have to put in. If investors decide to pursue turn-key rental properties, they should always check to make sure that they will be receiving the best price.