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Run the Numbers Before Buying an Investment Property

by Kimbrough Gray

People talk about running the numbers before buying an investment property, but what are the numbers and how do you get accurate numbers? Running the wrong numbers can make the difference of making $500 or losing $1000 per month. In this article, we will go through the costs and factors to consider making your investments successful.

RENTAL INCOME

Rental income is not as straightforward as it seems. Sometimes properties are under-rented and sometimes properties are over-rented, so be sure to find out the market rents when you consider a property. When we bought our first fourplex, we looked at comparable leases and realized our rents were too high, so instead of assuming we would continue to receive $3600 of rental income, we had to be realistic and assume it was more like $3200.

MORTGAGE INTEREST

A huge cost is mortgage interest. You should definitely sort out the details of your loan options and get an idea of current rates before running the numbers. It could make or break a deal. If you are getting a duplex or a house, the loans are generally similar to other home loan programs. Triplexes and fourplexes tend to have higher rates, and commercial is a whole other ballgame. One thing to consider is to put more down because the more you put down, the less your loan will be, which means less monthly interest to pay. Another consideration is the type of loan. We usually recommend people to get a fixed rate mortgage these days because the current ARM (adjustable rate mortgage) rates are not all that much lower than fixed rates.

Just get educated about the loan options and run the numbers with them. Oh, and do not just take advice from one mortgage person. The best way to get educated is to talk to a variety of mortgage brokers and banks to find your best solution; not all loan places have the same programs.

TAXES

People frequently use the taxes from the year when they purchased the property, assuming the taxes will stay the same. Taxes change every year. Taxes can go up drastically after a purchase. For example, an owner occupied property usually has tax breaks, so unless you intend to owner occupy too, your taxes will go up.

In addition, the county appraisal that your taxes are based on could go up after your purchase. For example, if you buy a property for 100,000 but the tax appraisal last year was for 50,000, don't count on it remaining at 50,000. In fact, I have seen cases where a year after a property was purchased the tax assessor increased the appraisal value to the purchase price. The safest approach is to look at the tax rate and the purchase price to determine your future taxes.

VACANCY COST

For some reason people tend to forget to take into account vacancy rate. Even when looking to invest in a desirable rental area, it's best to always take into account at least an 8-10% vacancy rate. Do some investigation, look at your market and find statistics on the average vacancy rate.

TENANT TURNOVER COST

We have personally found the biggest surprise to be the expense of tenant turnover. This includes advertising for a new tenant, cleaning, repainting, replacing carpet, etc. If you expect to have high tenant turnover, like next to a college campus, anticipate this to be a significant cost.

INSURANCE COST

Insurance on investment properties are typically higher than owner occupied, single family properties. So get an insurance quote on the property instead of basing your expected insurance off of the insurance bill for your house. You also should purchase liability insurance, which can be expensive.

MAINTENANCE COSTS

This is by far the most difficult number to estimate. It depends on the property, whether you fix some of the problems yourself or hire outside help, and random luck. So we can't give you a hard and fast number but we can look into different factors to take into account.

**Property Type - When you evaluate different properties remember to take into account the type of property. If it's brick you won't have to paint or worry about wood root. Decks need constant maintenance. A property with wood or concrete floors will be easier to clean and will not have to be replaced when a tenant moves out. Just think about the aspects of the property and their maintenance costs.

**Property Size - A smaller property is easier to maintain than a larger property. For instance, say there are two properties for sale for 200,000 and each have a combined rent of 2000. A property with 2 units and a total of 1000 square feet will be cheaper to maintain than a property with 6 units and 3000 square feet. The larger property will be more expensive to maintain when you are replacing the larger roof, painting the interior walls etc. More units mean more money spent on advertising, make-readies, and more appliances to repair.

**Property Location - Consider your proximity to the property. If you buy a property 30 miles away, over the course of a year you can spend a decent amount of gas money driving back and forth.

**Your personal management style - How often will you do maintenance work yourself vs. hiring help? For instance, when a unit needs painting will you paint the rooms or hire a painter? Hiring professionals is definitely more expensive, but you have to be realistic about how much you will personally do, especially if you are looking at many units.

UTILITY COSTS

Be sure to check what the tenants pay for and what the owner pays for. This includes all the utilities and lawn maintenance. In addition, there may be owner expenses like parking lot lights and trash bin service.

PROPERTY MANAGEMENT COSTS

If you are going to hire a property management company, definitely get their rates. We personally choose properties that we can manage ourselves.

SUMMING THE NUMBERS

We wrote a investment property calculator which is located here Investment real estate calculator. Once you add all the numbers up, you often find the property has 0 cash flow or even negative cash flow. This doesn't necessarily mean you should not purchase the property. There are positive tax benefits to rental properties and depending on your situation, a property with technically 0 cash flow could still put more money in your pocket due to tax benefits. If you think the property is going to appreciate in the future, a zero or negative cash flow property could still be appealing.

The point here is that if you are buying a property with zero or negative cash flow, it's best to know beforehand instead of after the property has been purchased.

Broker Agent News, October 2, 2007


Wondering what your home is worth?   C lick the "Contact Me" or "Home Evaluation"  for more information!

 


REALTY TIMES


 

Six Signs That You're Ready To Buy

Figuring out whether you're ready to buy a house -- whether you're a renter or are aiming to move up or size down -- can be a daunting task. But there are signs that will indicate whether you're ready to take the buying plunge.

If you are thinking about buying, you're not alone.

David Lereah, NAR's chief economist, said the housing market has reached a new plateau. "Over the last few years, it's become apparent that the level of home sales will generally remain at higher levels than what was common in the mid-1990s," he said. "The fundamental change is a growing population with a rising number of households entering the age in which people typically buy their first home. In short, we have the need, desire and ability for people to buy homes."

So are you ready to make the move? You might be if you:

  • Are familiar with the market. If you've been paying attention to how much houses are listed for in the neighborhoods you're eyeing and have a realistic view of how much a house will cost you, you're in good shape. But if you're dreaming about that big corner house with no clue about it's asking price, you may want to spend some more time becoming familiar with the market and how much houses are going for.

  • Have the money for a down payment and closing costs. The down payment is a percentage of the value of the property. Freddie Mac says the percentage will be determined by the type of mortgage you select. Down payments usually range from 3 to 20 percent of the property value. Also, you may be required to have Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI or MI) if your down payment is less than 20 percent. Closing costs include points, taxes, title insurance, financing costs and items that must be prepaid or escrowed and other settlement costs. Generally, buyers will receive an estimate of these costs from your lender after you apply for a mortgage.

  • Know how much you can afford. Freddie Mac says that as a general guide, your monthly mortgage payment should be less than or equal to a percentage of your income, usually about a quarter of your gross monthly income. Also, your income, debt and credit history go into determining how much you can borrow. As a general rule, your debt -credit card bills, car loans, housing expenses, alimony and child support -- should not be more than about 30 to 40 percent of your gross income.

  • Know what additional expenses will come with owning a home. This includes homeowners insurance, utility bills, maintenance costs -- roofing, plumbing, heating and cooling.

  • Have your credit in good shape and make sure your credit report is accurate. Potential lenders will view your credit history -- how much debt you've accrued, how many accounts you have open, whether your payments are made on time, etc. -- to determine whether they'll give you a loan. You should get a report from each of the three credit reporting companies: Equifax, Experian, and Trans Union.

  • You haven't made any recent major purchases, particularly a vehicle. If you do, you may have a harder time getting a loan -- or it could potentially lower the amount you'll be approved for.

    Once you decide you're ready, you'll need to be prepared to move quickly if you're aiming to buy in a sellers' market.

    The next steps involve hiring a real estate professional and getting preapproved for a mortgage loan. This way you'll know if you can get approved and how much you can spend on a house. It also puts you in a stronger position when you ultimately make an offer on a house.


    Written by Michele Dawson


    Wondering what your home is worth?   Click the "Contact Me" or "Home Evaluation" for more information!



  • REALTY TIMES


    What is a "Buyer's Market"?

    Most real estate practitioners consider a typical market to be one in which homes take an average of six months to sell. Realtors keep track of this number by keeping up with the days on the market (DOM) of every home listed and sold.

    If the number rises above six months inventory on hand, then the market is swinging into a buyer's market. If it falls below, it is becoming a seller's market.

    A buyer's market is one in which there are too many homes on the market for the number of buyers. Homes take longer to sell and prices fall.

    Sometimes buyers believe that winter time is a buyers' market. Homes offered for sale during slower times of the year are generally aggressively marketed, and may not sell for a significantly lower price than they would if they were marketed in a busier period.

    In the spring, a seasonal adjustment occurs, and more homes come on the market. Buyer activity picks up as families with children (still the single largest buyer demographic) buy homes so they can move during summer vacation.

    A buyer's market can easily exist in the spring, if conditions dictate that there are more homes than buyers, falling prices, and longer DOMs.

    Sometimes a buyers' market can be created that lasts for a long time. The exit of one or more major employers from a community, a natural disaster such as a flood or earthquake, or some other catastrophic event can affect home values in an area for years.

    As homes become more competitive, buyers realize that their interest is at a premium and they will increase their demands to sellers. Those nice chandeliers that normally would not be included in the purchase price of the home, now become a bargaining chip for the buyer.

    The buyer may ask the seller to provide a home warranty at the seller's expense, or for the seller to pay more of the closing costs than usual out of the settlement proceeds, or any number of other contingencies.

    The one certainty that can always be counted upon is that one side of the market will never stay on top forever. In fact, it can turn on a dime. The same area that remains depressed for a period of time can make a comeback as lower prices stimulate reinvestment. Contact your REALTOR® for more information about market conditions in your area.


    Written by Realty Times Staff


    Wondering what your home is worth?   Click the "Contact Me" or "Home Evaluation"  for more information!

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