Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Relocating To Same Area? Consider Your Existing Home As A Starter Investment Property

A lot of times, people who want to make the jump into investment property don't have the time, or patience, to go through a simple counseling session to determine which types of properties will help them toward their financial goals.

Occasionally, some of these same people are planning to relocate in the same area where they currently live. It might be moving up, or downsizing. A thought to the old "killing two birds with one stone" phrase is to purchase the second residential property, and convert the first residential property to an investment property.

No financial analysis as to the merits of an investment purchase is necessary because the owner already owns and even better, knows how the property has been maintained.

All that is left is a financial analysis of the area to determine market rents, advertise for and locate a new resident (I really dislike the term "tenant" in residential investment management) and determine whether the owner can withdraw some equity from the property to help with purchase of the "replacement" residence.

Monday, February 25, 2008

The Interest Rate Conundrum

A pretty good primer on interest rates, and the relationship with bond yields.

The piece also gives a lesson on how reducing interest rates only reduces mortgage rates so far. At some point they begin to rise. And fuel inflation.

But then, inflation is an investment property owners best friend. It is akin to having wealth forced upon you, as one of my colleagues likes to say.

Read the full report on interest rates at CNN Money.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Food For Thought

Politicians and others will often say that the way to even things out is to tax the rich. Okay, but who are the rich? What does "even things out" mean? Where is the line between merely being rich, and being highly affluent?

Here's a thought. Have you ever thought about the fact that the government taxes only income? What do the feds NOT tax? What about net worth? In fact, net worth is not taxed -- a reason why so many independently wealthy people (not the dripping wealth of Donald Trump, but the tens of thousands of "Buick Millionaires" who can be found throughout the U.S.) invest in commercial real estate.

Think about it. Your investment is building, and every five years or so you trade up to a larger property. During this time your property will have appreciated in value, you will have had the use of someone elses money (their monthly rent) to pay the mortgage on your investment, and when you buy something else, you can utilize a 1031 tax-deferred exchange and indefinitely defer payment of any capital gains taxes. The government taxes nothing, except your income from rents. But the "cost" of those taxes to you is offset through depreciation (what investment specialists like myself refer to as "cost recovery."

You don't have to trade just one property either. As your equity grows, you can pull money out of one investment, and use it to leverage the purchase of a second or third property. The portfolio builds, the incomes build, and with outside management at a nominal fee, you have "Mailbox Money" coming in for the rest of your life.

Building wealth does not have to be complicated. Using Commercial/investment real estate to build wealth is a means to take advantage of that whole "net-worth vs. income" tax dilemma.

Any questions?

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Definition For The Day

Wraparound Mortgage:

A wraparound mortgage is a mortgage that includes in its balance -- an underlying mortgage. Rather than having distinct and separate first and second mortgages, a wraparound mortgage includes both. For example, you might have an existing first mortgage of $100,000 at 6 percent interest. A second mortgage can be arranged for $50,000 at 10 percent interest. Instead of getting that second mortgage, the borrower arranges a wraparound for $150,000 at 8 percent.

The first mortgage of $100,000 stays intact. The borrower pays the wraparound lender one payment on the $150,000 wraparound, and the wraparound lender remits the payment on the first mortgage to the first mortgage lender.

Monday, February 18, 2008

No Posts Until Wednesday (Probably)

Posting will be minimal until Wednesday because I am attending a marketing session the next two days hosted by the Ohio Commercial Realtors Exchange Association. While the event is taking place here in Columbus, as a member in the host city and president of one of the state's regional exchange organizations, my schedule is pretty tight.

Nearly 100 brokers and agents from eight states are in town. Much networking ahead. And somehow I've got to shoehorn in a quick road trip down to Hocking County Tuesday afternoon to introduce a client there to some auctioneers. As I mentioned, posting will be light to say the least.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Bernanke Comments Drive Stocks Even Lower

"Stocks tumbled Thursday as investors reacted to Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke's Congressional testimony that economic conditions are likely to get worse before they get better."

He also noted that the Fed may be looking at another interest rate cut in the near future.

Now, tell me again why people want to invest in the stock market?

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Congress Poised To Badly Alter Like-Kind Exchange Rules For Farmland

The U.S. Senate recently passed a bill, HR 2419, originating in the U.S. House of Representatives, that would disqualify like-kind exchanges of "improved real estate" with "unimproved real estate."

The National Association of Realtors sent a letter to the full Senate noting that the proposal has the effect of depriving many farmers of any opporunity to use the exchange technique to reconfigure their holdings. The bill is now before a joint House-Senate conference committee to discuss differences in the language of legislation as passed by the two houses of Congress.

The change comes as a result of Congress' interest in "paying for" several incentives that would preserve wildlife habitats. This provision in the 2007 farm bill would not allow the owner of an improved investment property to use a tax-deferred exchange to acquire unimproved farm land. Similarly, owners of unimproved farm land could not exchange it for improved investment property. Unimproved agricultural real property is defined as land owned by aperson engaged in a farming business who receives specified commodity payments associated with the land.

I'll keep on eye on HR 2419 and let you know the results of the conference committee meetings.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Military Status Is Now Protected Class in Ohio Fair Housing Laws

Federal fair housing prohibits discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, handicap or disability, and familial status. The Ohio Civil Rights Act added ancestry, and now with HB 372, Ohio Governor Ted Strickland has recently added “military status” as a protected class.

"It is illegal, pursuant to the Ohio fair housing law, division (H) of section 4112.02 of the Revised Code, and the federal fair housing law, 42 U.S.C.A. 3601, to refuse to sell, transfer, assign, rent, lease, sublease, or finance housing accommodations, refuse to negotiate for the sale or rental of housing accommodations, or otherwise deny or make unavailable housing accommodations because of race, color, religion, sex, familial status as defined in section 4112.01 of the Revised Code, ancestry, military status as defined in that section, disability as defined in that section, or national origin or to so discriminate in advertising the sale or rental of housing, in the financing of housing, or in the provision of real estate brokerage services. It is also illegal, for profit, to induce or attempt to induce a person to sell or rent a dwelling by representations regarding the entry into the neighborhood of a person or persons belonging to one of the protected classes."

So if you own residential investment property in Ohio, no matter whether it is a rental house, double, 4-family or mega-multi-unit complex, you cannot discriminate against a potential or current renter because they are in the military. Actually, most owners don't do this. But an unscrupulous few have been giving many property owners a black eye with their antics.

Word is that complaints have been rolling in from around the nation from individuals who were being denied rental housing because they are on active duty, or reports alleged that property owners were refusing to accommodate former military personnel based on their type of discharge. With Gov. Strickland's signature, House Bill 372 becomes effective March 24, 2008, and provides benefits to members of the Armed Forces, one of those being that military status is now a protected class.

This bill is long overdue, IMHO.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Estate Planning Humor

Some real estate humor to send you into the weekend.

Dan was a single guy living at home with his father and working in the family business. When he found out he was going to inherit a fortune when his sickly father died, he decided he needed a wife with which to share his fortune.

One evening at an investment meeting he spotted the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. Her natural beauty took his breath away.

"I may look like just any ordinary man," he said to her, "but in just a few years, my father will die, and I’ll inherit $20 million dollars."

Impressed, the woman obtained his business card and three days later . . .

. . .she became his step-mother.


Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Latest News Story Calls Near-Campus Housing A Captive Market

One of my clients forwarded me this news story from Bankrate.com, by way of MSN Money.

And it echoes what I have written in this journal for more than a year now . . . campus housing is virtually recession proof (those are my words). The Bankrate.com story puts it slightly differently, but the message is virtually the same:

". . . If you buy right, you may be purchasing a hedge of sorts against the rocky housing markets of the present and future . . ."

"Unlike some neighborhoods, where a disproportionate number of homes that are converted into rentals may signify an impending downturn, that's generally not a worry in college neighborhoods. You are placing yourself in a community where there is a constant churn of demand every semester."

BTW, it doesn't have to be a house. It can be a multifamily building --multiple units under one roof.