Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Buyer Beware (of banks)

Bank short sales of residential property are everywhere today. Some investors who have purchased a DVD from middle-of-the-night infomercials are pondering when to swoop in and pick up a discounted property.

Granted I am biased that buyers should use an experienced real estate agent who understands investment real estate. I am concerned about people jumping in, planning to get their feet wet, and instead winding up to their neck in basement water.

Check out this piece from Minnesota. It talks of poor maintenance by institutionally-owned residential real estate. I do not know of similar situations in this part of Ohio, but it could be coming. Cleveland has a huge crime problem due to street after street of empty homes. In southwest Florida, one out of every four homes in Lee County is vacant.

Just be careful about the properties you want to invest in. I prefer multi-family properties, for if a renter leaves, only 1/4 or 1/6 of your property is temporarily vacant. But if your house renter leaves, an owner has no income from that property until a new resident moves in. And yet, there are going to be some great properties in many urban and suburban areas that can be picked up for a song for the next 24 months. But if buyers are smart, they will hold them and not try to flip them in two or three years.

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