If you want to be a better real estate investor, you have to overcome common challenges. The two biggest problems that real estate investors face is finding the property and then actually getting the funding to acquire it. However, it doesn’t have to be as hard as it used to be. Here is how technology is changing the way people solve these issues:
Finding properties is one of the biggest challenges that investors face. After all, the market value of an area is not set it stone. In order to understand if something will pay you back, you need to know the area.
You can now know about an area and what kind of demographics it has easier than before. First of all, with online maps, you can scout it on your laptop. Secondly, people on the ground can be hired to walk around and film with a drone to capture video so you can really get the feel for the location.
You can look into the local economies of locations that you are considering. See how their local businesses have been doing in recent months with sales. In addition, find out the employment rates to make sure there is an economy that is healthy enough to support the investment you are looking to make before just jumping in without the information.
The Need for Capital
You might have the best information in the world, but you still need funding to get that property. Therefore, raising capital has always been a burden to investors. Thanks to technology, there are new options, however.
Using public sites you can raise funds from investors, large and small, all around the world. This lets you act quickly on properties without breaking the bank. In addition, you might find properties that you didn’t otherwise think you could afford.
When it comes to real estate investing, it can be one of the most lucrative opportunities in the world. However, to make money with real estate, you need to find the property first. Then, you need to get the funding to purchase it. Technology has made these two things much easier than they ever were in the past. Therefore, you should look to utilize this technology in your own career to leverage the benefits contained.
While many people are rightly skeptical of going into debt, experienced real estate investors know that the judicious use of leverage
can dramatically boost their bottom line. Leverage is used by real estate investors to boost what is known as their internal rate of return. This is simply a reflection of the fact that the less capital one has invested, the higher their potential return on invested capital is.
How does leverage increase returns?
If a new real estate investor had $50,000 to put towards the purchase of a property, they would have a number of options on how to best invest that money, starting with whether or not they wanted to use mortgage financing or pay cash. Some people may opt for the latter option, deciding that the risk of taking on mortgage payments is beyond their tolerance levels.
However, for the astute investor, using mortgage financing can provide a much higher rate of return. In the case of buying a property for $50,000 in cash, if that property nets $5,000 per year of income, then the total rate of return on capital for the property will be 10 percent. However, if that same $50,000 is used on a down payment to buy a $200,000 property with the same 10 percent return on the purchase price, the return on capital for the second deal will be 40 percent! This is because the investor is earning $20,000 per year of income but has only invested $50,000 of their own capital.
It is important to understand that leverage works best, by far, when rents and property values are rising. Using leverage can still work in other markets, but investors need to have sufficient liquidity to cover downturns, such as high vacancy rates or declining overall property values. Generally speaking, investors should stay away from using leverage in markets with a negative macroeconomic outlook for the short to medium term. While these investments can still prove to be highly profitable over the long term, the short-term capital requirements can bankrupt smaller investors.
The best way to mitigate the risks of using leverage is to perform in-depth due diligence on the local macroeconomic trends. Study trends in property values, employment quality, and quantity and net migration trends. Try to avoid entering into leveraged real estate deals near market peaks.
There’s an age-old debate in the real estate market as to whether primary residences should be viewed as investments or simply as a place to live. While this debate is something that every homeowner should carefully consider, it is clear that there are reasons for buying a nice home, no matter the market conditions, other than simply to maximize one’s wealth. After all, everyone needs a roof over their head.
The same cannot be said, however, for professional real estate investors or anyone who is investing in a property that has the main purpose of income generation. These investors need to be much more careful about things like market timing. Real estate cycles can often last even longer than business cycles, meaning that an investor that buys into an overheated market could be waiting decades to realize any returns at all.
Unfortunately, there is currently ample evidence that real estate markets from coast to coast are overbought. While there still may be opportunities for solid long-term returns that can be located by savvy investors, the current trends in real estate prices indicate that there will be a reversion to historic averages in the near-term future. Buying into a market at a peak like the one we’re very likely seeing now can have disastrous consequences for the long-term performance of any real estate portfolio.
One of the key indicators that the real estate market is well above sustainable price levels is the number of hours that the average wage earner needs to work in order to buy the median home. In some cities, like Los Angeles and San Francisco, the average wage earner would need to work the majority of their waking hours in order to afford minimally decent housing. Contrast that with the norms of the 1960s when many American families only needed a single wage earner to work for 10 hours per week in order to afford the median home.
Another key factor that may bode poorly for the performance of real estate prices over the next five years is the almost certainty that interest rates will soon begin rising. The real estate market is exquisitely sensitive to interest rates, and worst-case-scenario interest hikes could put a big dent in the price gains that housing has seen nationwide since the financial crisis of 2008.
Real estate investing offers a great way to grow your savings and build wealth. While many people want to get involved in this possibly lucrative venture, the responsibilities that go along with owning property may be keeping them from acting on their interests. However, there are many options for investing in real estate that don’t include becoming a landlord.
Buy Real Estate ETFs
As mentioned in a previous post, an ETF is an exchange-traded fund that’s comparable to mutual funds in that they consist of stocks relating to a particular theme. However, unlike mutual funds, an ETF is traded publicly on the exchange. Vanguard’s VNQ is one such real estate themed ETF. This fund invests in REITs, or real estate investment trusts, which focus on stocks concerning commercial real estate, such as office buildings, hotels, and similar buildings.
Real Estate Mutual Funds
A more traditional route may be to invest in real estate mutual funds, which provide the possibility of growth without the high risk. DFREX is a favorite in this category, partly because it offers lower fees than other funds. Additionally, DFREX consistently performs well. The fund shows great promise for future gains, because it’s supported by decades of professionally driven research. Nobel Prize winners help to develop the fund’s strategy.
Invest Directly in REITs
This is another option for investing in real estate without taking actual ownership of any property. REITs are like funds in that they stick to a general theme, such as commercial real estate, so you can opt for whichever category appeals to you the most. If you choose to explore this option, do so with caution. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) recently issued warnings against REITs that aren’t publicly traded. The agency highlighted a lack of liquidity, lack of value transparency, and high fees as factors that create unnecessarily high risk.
Invest with Commercial Real Estate Developers
These can be hotel corporations, resort or timeshare operators, or commercial contractors. By buying stock in these types of organizations, you can benefit from their growth without having the responsibility of buying property yourself. You will have to thoroughly research each company to ensure you’re making a sound investment, but, otherwise, this can be a promising alternative.
These are just a few ways you can invest in real estate without getting your hands dirty. Most people live lives that are too busy to add maintaining a rental property to their schedule, so these options let you reap the benefits of real estate investing more freely. As your money grows, you may find more opportunities for investing in real estate centric funds, stocks, and companies.
There are two ways investors make money in real estate: renting and selling for profit. Of course, the savvy investor can use both methods, even on the same property. Here we will go over some details of each method.
It should be emphasized that whether renting out a property or selling for raw profit, the importance of location can’t be overemphasized. The fact is that nearly any model of residential or commercial building can be replicated in many locations. However, the local amenities, culture, atmosphere, weather, or historical value cannot be duplicated. It is such factors that give rise to widely different prices and rents for otherwise identical structures.
Cash Flow: Rent
When renting, the first priority is attracting and retaining tenants. Generally, home-like rental properties or long-term commercial leases are a better option than short-term rentals that, admittedly, fetch a comparatively higher monthly rental. This is because vacancies take their toll and are bad for cash flow. Make sure to specify clear lines of responsibilities for tenants and the property owner. Maintenance, repairs, utilities and tax responsibilities accrue as costs to the property owner, so make sure that rental cash flow at least matches maintenance and other necessary expenditures.
Fix and Flip
Buying low and selling high is the holy script of investing. When buying real estate, beware that the purchase price essentially traps liquidity upon sale completion and for as long as it takes to renovate and resell the house. Also consider the opportunity cost of other income-producing activities, including renting, that the property owner could be doing. Such opportunity costs can add up, but if the buyer were to completely outsource the “fix” to others, the added cost would reduce or even eliminate the profit margin upon resale.
Note that both methods of making money from real estate entail unexpected costs along the way. Vacancies, irresponsible and toxic tenants, as well as competing units can take the steam out of anticipated cash flow from rental properties. Costly repairs, illiquid funds, and all-in marketing and resale costs can deflate profit margin from fix-and-flip properties. Consider the time and expertise required for each investment method and pick whatever works best. Real estate can be lucrative, but is not risk-free.