1-Day Expo

Some Markets Starting to Shift from Seller’s Markets to Buyer’s Market

In a Fortune Magazine article by Chris Morris, published in February,  it is reported that in January 2019, there was more inventory available and houses sat on the market about a week longer than in January 2018.

As of January, there was an available inventory of 1.59 million homes overall, versus 1.53 million in December 2018.  Of course, the article is lacking by treating the entire country as one monolithic real estate market. Needless to say, there are hundreds of markets, and they don’t always perform in lockstep.

Nevertheless, there is a subtle shift, even in mentality, that is more favorable to buyers as opposed to sellers, who until recently reigned supreme. Since we are primarily buyers  (and then we hold for the long term), a buyer’s market is a positive for us.

Adjusting expectations

It is interesting to note, and one of the reasons I am posting this blog based on an article several weeks old is that while in January 2019 sales were flat, in February 2019 sales surged up, but then dropped only slightly. This is likely to continue to lower rates and sellers having to adjust expectations. Overall, we can see that while there is a shift towards buyers in many markets, the market is still hovering near a relatively stable point. With the low-interest rates and more friendly sellers, this becomes a positive for the investor.

We like to buy brand-new homes. Clearly, the sellers for us are builders. Some builders don’t want to sell to investors. Our market teams successfully convince the builders that it pays to work with our investors, as they get good volume from us. As the mood changes, these very builders may become more receptive to working with buyers, and perhaps even offer more incentives.

This will be discussed in more depth in a podcast on our Premier Members area soon. We will also talk about this during our next ICG Real Estate 1-Day Expo on May 18, 2019

Is a Downturn in the Air?

As we head into spring, there is a saying, “…spring is in the air.” And that is not the only thing being felt in the air. There seems to be a persistent notion that the “real estate market” has been going up for too long and is due for a correction. People also point out that the last big recession started in 2008, and perhaps the “cycle” is indicating that the new one may be upon us.

Of course, there really is no “real estate market” in the United States. There is the Phoenix market, the Dallas market, the Kansas City market, and the markets in every other metro area, such as Los Angeles, San Francisco, and so on. Not every local real estate market behaves in the same way others.

 

All markets do not experience a boom

Even during the major boom of 2004 to 2006, not all markets went through the boom. Some entire states “sat out” that of that one.  Similarly during the big recession, between 2008 and 2011, not all markets tanked. In fact, most of the markets that tanked were the ones which had boomed before.

Some states did not move down very much, even during the recession. This is an important point. If the San Francisco Bay Area (for example) does go down and corrects for its fast rise over the past few years, it is not “an automatic” that affordable markets like the Sun Belt states, (like the markets in which we invest) will do the same.

During past recessions, the rentals actually were better than usual. The reason is likely that if a tenant had been saving up to buy their own home, during a recession they are likely to shelve those plans till better times. Thus, even more, people rent than during stable conditions. Even if a downturn hits, the investor would likely benefit by just sitting and doing nothing, letting the loan balance pay down and get eroded by inflation, while enjoying lower vacancies.

How the Dodd-Frank bill helps

In addition, measures taken by congress after the last recession, like the Dodd-Frank bill, have mitigated the unbridled risk in lending that existed prior to the 2008 recession. My belief is if and when a downturn occurs, its magnitude is likely to be lesser than the last time.

One of the riskiest things, ironically, is that people delay buying solid investment homes, especially with today’s fantastic interest rates. I have met people from my past who never got started because there was always a recession around the corner, or a boom, or some other news item. Some of these people can be quite regretful 14 years later, realizing they could have changed their financial future but didn’t.

We will discuss this and many other issues at our 1-Day Expo on May 18th. I will also address this topic during our first webinar tomorrow–our official launch of the Members area on our website! Learn all about it and get on board at icgre.com/MEMBERS. Join us and stay informed!

Should You Buy Your Own Home First or Rent And Buy Investment Homes?

From The Spring 2019 Issue of Realty411 Magazine:

Recap of the March 9, 2019 ICG Real Estate 1-Day Expo

Our ICG 1-Day REAL ESTATE Expo took place on Saturday, March 9th. It was a huge success; thank you to everyone who joined us. Throughout the day, we had 750+ attendees, with over 550 people in the main room at the same time. Great energy! Some of the attendees were KQED donors, who purchased the Remote Control Retirement Riches with Adiel Gorel Master Package. The donors received two tickets as part of their donation to KQED. It was an honor to have KQED members at the event, and what a thrill to explore our tried and true method with so many new folks. There was a good mix of investors: brand new investors, very experienced investors, and everything in between.

Market teams, property managers and expert guest speakers

The questions from the audience at the ICG Real Estate 1-Day Expo were excellent and I enjoyed answering all of them. I had the main market teams present, and some of the property managers within our national infrastructure there as well. Scott Webster from All Western Mortgage described regular FNMA (Fannie Mae) 30-year fixed-rate loans (some at just under 5%, which, for investors, is a low rate). He also described loans available to people who can’t get the FNMA loans, by virtue of owning more than the FNMA limit. He also outlined loans available to foreign investors. The attendees enjoyed the three expert guest speakers: CPA Joshua Cooper talked about the Opportunity Zone and other tax issues. Joyce Feldman talked about using insurance as the first and probably most important line of defense, and Lucian Ioja talked about optimizing real estate investing in the larger context of financial planning.

New offering on our website

Many new investors joined our QUICK LIST, to whom we send property sheets when we get them from the various markets. Those who joined the list will also receive event invitations and updates, throughout the year. (You can also join us, by texting QUICKLIST to 57838, or by emailing info@icgre.com and request to be added.)

I also introduced the NEW Members Area on our website. The Members Area will be an exciting treasure trove of information, offered in two tiers. It will be fully populated with podcasts, FAQ’s, and other useful information. It is a work in progress right now that we are truly excited about. There will also be webinars on specific subjects offered, as well as special one-on-one “Connect for Success” meetings with Adiel Gorel. We enabled people to join the membership area at a special discounted rate, as an “early member” which is good until April 10th only.

If you were not able to attend the ICG Real Estate 1-Day Expo you can still take advantage of our early member discount. Just use the code MARCHEXPO at checkout to receive 20% off, only available until April 10th. Also, for our early members (at either level), you will be able to attend two LIVE webinars that I will be recording before the “official” May 1st launch.

Everyone’s “membership clock” will only begin to tick on May 1st. Thus, by taking advantage of this discount you are getting a “backstage pass” as we get all our content loaded, and your payment will cover the time starting May 1, 2019. We are excited to have you join us, and will be working diligently to provide useful content to help you secure a strong financial future.

Next Expo May 18th

Many of the attendees from the March 9th Expo registered for the next 1-Day Expo, on Saturday, May 18th. We will have a new market available, three expert guest speakers, and of course loads of Q & A. You can register now for the May Expo here.

Buying a Home to Live in Versus Renting

A classic question I get when talking to a would-be real estate investor is: “Shouldn’t we buy a home to live in first before buying investment homes?”

The answer is – it depends on where you live.

When considering owning your own residence, there are various layers of reasoning.  Some are logic and numbers-based.  Some are emotional, traditional and familial.

Owning your own home can be associated with safety, security, having “arrived”, satisfying family members’ aspirations, the stability of having a (hopefully) permanent place to live, and so on.

Of course, everyone has a different set of emotional considerations when it comes to owning a home.  These vary from person to person and, needless to say, are hard to quantify.

In this post, I will address the logical, numbers-based approach to the question of whether to buy your own home as your first real estate move, or rent and buy investment homes instead.

The numbers tell the story when considering buying a home

If you are considering buying your own home, the price of the home matters, the rent required to rent that same home matters, the local property taxes matter, the mortgage interest rates matter, dwelling insurance rates matter, and even the new 2018 tax law weighs in.

If you live in a market where property taxes are relatively low (say, between 1 and 1.7 percent of the home price per year), and insurance rates are reasonable, then if you are considering buying a home under about $400,000, that should be a “no-brainer” as your first step.  Between $400,000 and $500,000 would still be a reasonable range to consider buying the home.  In such a market, once you step up to the $500,000 range and above, the math may well start to turn as you climb higher in price, in favor of renting a home in the area in which you live.  Following that, owning rental homes in more optimal markets makes sense.

Watch out for high property tax and high insurance rates

In markets where the property taxes are high (like in Texas and Oregon), and insurance rates are high (Texas again, for example), the “no-brainer” number may shrink to $300,000 or so, while the range above which you may consider renting your own home while buying affordable investment homes in other markets, will likely be $400,000 or above. This is because with high expenses for property tax and insurance, (which as a homeowner you would be paying) the overall numbers and logic “turn the corner” faster.

Certainly, in expensive areas like the San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles, San Diego, New York City and others such markets, it is usually far more logical to be a renter, while owning rental properties in affordable markets, where rents are actually quite high as a percentage of the home purchase prices.

Our next quarterly expo is December 1st near San Francisco Airport. Email us at info@icgre.com and add “Read your blog post” in the subject line and come as my guest. We will get back to you with registration information. Learn more about the event at icgre.com/events.

Inflation Helps Single Family Home Investors

In an article published in the San Francisco Chronicle from February 7th by Christopher Rugaber (AP Economics Writer), called  “Why Investors’ Fear of High Inflation is Probably Overblown,” Mr. Rugaber explains inflation by going into the pros and cons of higher and lower inflation.  He provides an overall concise glimpse of the situation as it is currently.  The Fed’s dilemma with increasing taxes in the face of strong employment and rising wages is certain to bring inflation to the economy. However, he also discusses how inflation assists borrowers.

ICG Educates Investors

Of course, at ICG, we constantly talk about how inflation erodes the 30-year fixed-rate loan. This, in turn, becomes the borrower’s ally in reducing the real buying power of the loans fixed dollar amount. We will talk about this and many other important topics during our ICG Quarterly 1-Day Expo near SFO on Saturday 3/3/2018.

Topics to be covered

Our expert speakers will cover topics including the new tax law and how it pertains to real estate investors, how to buy rental homes out of a self-directed IRA, and how to use insurance as the first line of defense of protecting your assets.  There will also be lenders available to discuss what they have available and what you can expect over the next several months. Property management, legal expertise, and one-on-one’s can be found as well. And as always, we offer a lot of question and answer time.  Market teams from the most relevant metro areas in the US will be present. Everyone mentioning this blog will receive free entry. Please email us that you read this at info@icgre.com.

Single Family Homes in Suburbs Ever More Popular as Downtown Affordability Wanes

An article in Forbes magazine by Joel Kotkin on August 31st titled “U.S. Cities Have A Glut Of High-Rises And Still Lack Affordable Housing,” Mr. Kotkin tells us how urban high rise condos in many cities are completely unaffordable to the middle class. He talks about objective metrics showing the Millennials and others prefer buying single-family homes in the suburbs.
This makes perfect sense, as these are better environments for families, and the affordability can be far better. As always, we recommend buying homes in suburbs of large metropolitan areas and use them as rental properties, preferably being financed with 30-year fixed rate loans, which are not pegged to inflation.
We will discuss these issues plus much more in our ICG quarterly 1-Day Expo near SFO THIS SATURDAY 9/9. There will be market teams from all over the US, as well as expert speakers on issues critical to all investors. You can attend for free with guests – just email us at info@icgre.com and mention this blog, or call (415) 927-7504.
I am enclosing Mr. Kotkin’s article in its entirety.

U.S. Cities Have A Glut Of High-Rises And Still Lack Affordable Housing

Joel Kotkin , CONTRIBUTOR

I cover demographic, social and economic trends around the world. Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own. 
A view of new residential buildings under construction in the Hudson Yards development, August 16, 2016, in New York City. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
Perhaps nothing thrills mayors and urban boosters like the notion of endless towers rising above their city centers. And to be sure, new high-rise residential construction has been among the hottest areas for real estate investors, particularly those from abroad, with high-end products accounting for 8o% of all new construction.

Yet this is not an entirely high-end country, and these products, particularly the luxury high-rises in cities, largely depend on a small segment of the population that can afford such digs.

No surprise, then, that we see reports of declining prices in areas as attractive as New YorkMiami, and San Francisco, where a weakening tech market is beginning to erode prices, much as occurred in the 2000 tech bust, John Burns Real Estate Consulting notes. There have been big jumps in the number of expired and withdrawn condo listings, particularly at the high end; last year, San Francisco saw a 128% spike in the number of withdrawn or expired listings for condos over $1.5 million.

Several factors suggest the high-rise residential boom is over, including a growing recognition that these structures do little to relieve the housing affordability crisis facing middle-class residents, the inevitable aging of millennials and their shift to suburbs and less expensive cities, and the impending withdrawal of some major foreign investors who have come to dominate the market in many cities.

Cost And Affordability

One common refrain among housing advocates and politicians is that high-rise construction is a solution to the problem of housing affordability. The causes of the problem, however, are principally prohibitions on urban fringe development of starter homes. Critics also note that high-rises in urban neighborhoods often replace older buildings, which are generally more affordable.
One big problem: High-density housing is far more expensive to build. Gerard Mildner, the academic director of the Center for Real Estate at Portland State University, notes that development of a building of more than five stories requires rents approximately two and a half times those from the development of garden apartments. Even higher construction costs are reported in the San Francisco Bay Area, where the cost of townhouse development per square foot can double that of detached houses (excluding land costs) and units in high-rise condominium buildings can cost up to seven and a half times as much.
Almost without exception, then, the most expensive areas are precisely those that have the most high-rise buildings: New York, San Francisco, Seattle and Miami. More to the point, these buildings don’t tend to be occupied by middle-class, much less working-class, families. And in many cases, these units are not people’s actual homes; in New York, as many as 60% of new luxury units are not primary residences, leaving many unoccupied at any given time.
Even worse, a high-density strategy tends to raise the price of surrounding real estate. As Tim Redmond, a veteran San Francisco journalist, points out, luxury apartments often tend to be built in areas with older, more affordable buildings. The notion that simply building more of an expensive product helps keep prices down elsewhere misses the distinction between markets; the high-rises in Washington, DC, are not the affordable units that the vast majority of city residents need.
Other cities favored by luxury developers – like VancouverTorontoSeattle and San Francisco – have also seen deteriorating affordability and, in some cases, a mass exodus of middle- and working-class residents, particularly minorities. San Francisco’s black population, for example, is roughly half of what it was in 1970. In the nation’s whitest major city, Portland, African-Americans are being driven out of the urban core by high-density gentrification, partly supported by city funding. Similar phenomena can be seen in Seattle and Boston, where long-existing black communities are gradually disappearing.

The New Demography Works Against This Trend

It is common in retro-urbanist circles to maintain that more Americans, particularly younger ones, will opt to remain customers for ever-greater density, a preference that could sustain an ever-growing market for high-rises. Yet that notion may be past its sell-by date, with demographic evidence suggesting that most Americans, including younger ones, are looking less for an apartment in the sky than for a house with a little backyard. 

Suburbs, consigned to the dustbin of history by many urban boosters, are back. Demographer Jed Kolko, analyzing the most recent Census Bureau numbers, suggests that population growth in most big cities now lags that of their suburbs, which have accounted for more than 80% of metropolitan growth since 2011. Even where the urban core renaissance has been most prominent, there are ominous signs. The population growth rate for Brooklyn and Manhattan fell nearly 90% from 2010-11 to 2015-16.

The real trend in migration is to sprawling, heavily suburbanized areas, particularly in the Sun Belt. To be sure, there are high-rises in most of these markets – quite a gusher of them in Austin, for instance – but the growth in all these regions is overwhelmingly suburban.

The most critical factor over time may be the aging of millennials. Among those under 35 who do buy homes, four-fifths choose single-family detached houses, a form found most often in suburbs. Surveys consistently find that most millennials see suburbs as the ideal place to live in the long run. According to a recent National Homebuilders Association report, more than 66%, including those living in cities, would actually prefer a house in the suburbs.

The largely anecdotal media accounts of millennial lifestyles conflict with reality, Kolko notes. Although younger Millennials have tended toward core cities more than previous generations, the website FiveThirtyEight notes that those ages 30-44 are actually moving to suburban locales more than in the past.

The China Syndrome

Given the limits of the domestic market, the luxury high-rise sector depends heavily on foreign investors. Already, harder times for some traditional investors – Russians and Brazilians, for example – have hurt the Miami market, long attractive to overseas buyers. There is now three years’ worth of inventory of luxury high-rises there, with areas such as Edgewater, Midtown and the A&E District suffering an incredibly high inventory of seven and a half years. Miami Beach is faring a bit better but is still a buyer’s market at a little over two years of inventory.

Still, the greatest threat to the luxury high-rise market may come from the Far East, the region of the world with the most surplus capital and, given the rapidly aging society, often the fewest profitable places to put it. Korea and Japan have lots of money sitting around looking for a home. Japan and its companies, according to World Bank data, are hoarding more than $2 trillion in unused liquid assets.

But as in all things East Asian, China stands apart. Last year, the country had a record of $725 billion in capital outflows, according to the Institute of International Finance. China is now the largest foreign investor in US real estate.

But now the Chinese government has placed strong controls on these investments, which could leave some places vulnerable. In Downtown Los Angeles, according to local brokers, many of the new high-rise towers are marketed primarily in China. (LA claims to have the second-highest number of cranes, behind only Seattle.)

These expensive units are far out of reach for the younger people who tend to inhabit the neighborhood, instead of serving as what one executive called “vertical safe deposit boxes” for people trying to get their money out of China. If the new crackdown on such investments is strongly enforced, this could leave a lot of expensive units without buyers. Prices have already softened, and with several new luxury buildings coming up, Downtown is likely to experience a glut.

Even in Manhattan, another market long dependent on foreign investment, projects are now stalled, including some once-hot properties in Midtown that are delaying their sales launches. Overall sales of condos over $4 million dropped 18% last year from the high levels of the previous three years. The ultra-premium market for condos over $10 million saw a 5% sales decrease in 2016.

Changes Ahead

The current slowdown, and perhaps longer-term stabilization, could lead to lower rates of migration out of the expensive cores. Yet this trend is not likely to reverse the movement of younger people to less dense areas. Luxury high-rise units were not built for families, and they are often located in areas with poor schools and limited open space. They may simply become high-priced rentals, attractive no doubt to childless professionals but not to middle- and working-class families.

In the end, the real need is not for more luxury towers. What is needed, particularly in America’s cities, from the urban core to the urban fringe, is the kind of housing middle- and working-class families can afford.

Younger Renters Turn to Buying

In a Wall Street Journal article from May 11, 2017, by Laura Kusisto and Chris Kirkham, we read that millennials and other younger buyers are becoming much more focused on BUYING rather than renting in the past year. This trend is likely to continue.
It is not surprising with lower unemployment, still-low interest rates and FHA loans with 3.5% down payments available to home buyers (*buy to OWN, not as an investment). What effect does this have on us as investors?  Seemingly it will drain the rental pool.

In reality, however, there is a great shortage of good single family homes since housing starts have not yet made up for the gap in new construction created during the recession. Thus renters are still likely to be quite plentiful. Prices, however, are likely to get a boost from this increased buying activity. The home buyers using the 3.5%-down FHA loan are less price-sensitive and willing to pay more for a home they like (after all the difference for them is only 3.5% of the extra amount which is negligible).

Appraisals will track higher as sales prices increase, creating a virtuous cycle of appreciation, also fueled by the inaccurate, but popular sites like ZillowTrulia (etc.) which reflect the increasing prices in their estimates.
In some of our markets, it may not be a bad idea to sell and take profits. Some markets have already appreciated quite a bit in the past few years, markets like Phoenix, Las Vegas and Dallas. In other markets, as prices increase our equity builds up faster.
Another benefit is since the younger generation of buyers seeks less expensive homes, the builders are creating more and more of those see in the WSJ (article below). Since these homes have exactly the kind of size and price we seek as investors, it will widen the inventory pool from which to buy, as investors are sometimes faced with tight selections.

We will discuss this issue, as well as much more, including the improvement in FNMA’s loan guidelines affecting investors, during our 1-Day Expo on Saturday, May 20th near the San Francisco Airport. Mention this blog and you can attend free. There will be market teams, lenders, expert speakers on issues critical to investors, and lots of networking. To see some detail, please go to www.icgre.com/events. To register or contact us, please email info@icgre.com

 

The Wall Street Journal article is copied in its entirety below:

The Next Hot Housing Market: Starter Homes

Millennials are buying homes, steering builders toward lower price points

Home buyer Darin Fredericks and his wife Summer Fredericks in the kitchen of their new home in Ontario, Calif., last November. PHOTO: PATRICK T. FALLON FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

 

Chris Kirkham
Updated May 11, 2017 8:09 p.m. ET
First-time buyers are rushing to buy homes after a decade on the sidelines, promising to kick a housing market already flush with luxury sales into a higher gear.
Tracking home sales to a particular age group is hard, but a series of data points form a mosaic of a generation of young people ready to buy: The number of new-owner households was double the number of new renter households in the first quarter of this year, the share of first-time buyers is creeping back toward the historical average, and mortgages for first-timers are on the rise.
“They’re crawling out of their parents’ basements, they’re forming households and they’re looking to buy,” said Doug Bauer, chief executive of home builder Tri Pointe Group Inc., which operates in eight states.
In a shift, new households are overwhelmingly choosing to buy rather than rent. Some 854,000 new-owner households were formed during the first three months of the year, more than double the 365,000 new-renter households formed during the period, according to Census Bureau data. It was the first time in a decade there were more new buyers than renters, according to an analysis by home-tracker Trulia.
Homebuilders are beginning to shift their focus away from luxury homes and toward homes at lower price points to cater to this burgeoning millennial clientele. Demographers generally define millennials as people born between roughly 1980 and 2000.
In the first quarter of this year, 31% of the speculative homes built by major builders were smaller than 2,250 square feet, indicating they were in the starter-home range, according to housing-research firm Zelman & Associates. That is up from 27% a year ago and 24% in the first quarter of 2015.
“There’s an increasing confidence level in that part of the market,” said Gregg Nelson, co-founder of California home builder Trumark Cos. “The recovery is finally starting to take hold in a broader way.”
The shift reflects a reversal of a pattern that has driven the five-year housing-market expansion.
Up until now, the luxury market has soared, while the more affordable end of the market has struggled. Tough lending standards, slow wage growth, growing student-debt obligations and a newfound fear of homeownership have combined to crimp demand among millennials in particular.
Now, the return of first-time buyers is allaying fears that millennials might eschew homeownership permanently. But it also provides an infusion of new demand while housing supply is tight and home price growth is significantly outstripping wage gains.
Home prices in February increased by 5.8% over the same month a year earlier, according to the most recent S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price Index.
The return of first-time buyers is accelerating. In all, they have accounted for 42% of buyers this year, up from 38% in 2015 and 31% at the lowest point during the recent housing cycle in 2011, according to Fannie Mae, which defines first-time buyers as anyone who hasn’t owned a home in the past three years.
While economists and builders said lending standards have started to ease, getting a mortgage remains challenging for young buyers with shorter credit histories and, in many cases, student debt. Mortgage rates are also expected to rise further this year, posing an added challenge. Rates for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage has risen to 4.05%, up from about 3.5% in November, according to Freddie Mac.
In Orange County, Calif., Trumark’s Mr. Nelson said he has been selling entry-level homes at nearly double the rate of his higher-end ones. He is even gaining confidence to build homes in more far-flung locations. The company is about to begin construction on a 114-home project in the Inland Empire east of Los Angeles and another development in Manteca, Calif., about 80 miles east of San Francisco. Both areas were hard-hit during the housing crash and were among the slowest to recover.
Builders largely avoided the exurbs after the bubble burst in 2006. But because the land there is cheaper, they can build lower-end homes more profitably.
“Most builders really preferred to stick straight down the fairway, right at the corner of Main and Main. They were afraid to go back into the rough where they built a lot of homes in the prior cycle,” said Alan Ratner, a senior home-building analyst at Zelman.
Outside Las Vegas, Tri Pointe has introduced a new home design that is specifically targeted to millennial buyers, featuring indoor-outdoor patios and deck spaces, as well as a separate downstairs bedroom-and-bathroom suite that could be rented out to a housemate. Mr. Bauer said the homes, geared toward first-time buyers, have been selling more rapidly than pricier homes.
Joey Liu, a 28-year-old technology worker, purchased his first home in San Jose, Calif., earlier this year. He said it is more expensive than renting but that he is getting to the stage in life where it was time to buy.
“A lot of friends of mine bought a home so I started thinking maybe it was time to buy a home and stop paying rent,” said Mr. Liu, who settled on a three-bedroom townhouse for $690,000. He plans to rent out a room to help with the expenses.
He had three housewarming parties to celebrate his newfound status. “This is my first house, so it definitely feels different,” he said.
Builders say their return to the starter-home market shouldn’t invite comparisons to the fevered construction of the mid-2000s.
“One of the misconceptions is that here we go again, this is another 2005, 2006 where all these builders are going to build hundreds of thousands of homes. We’re not going crazy,” said Brent Anderson, vice president of investor relations at Scottsdale, Ariz.-based Meritage Homes Corp. Mr. Anderson said that last year the company was building four to five speculative homes per community and is now up to 6.4 on average.
Building executives said one challenge is that many people are buying first homes later in life, meaning they have higher incomes and greater expectations molded by years of living in luxury downtown rentals. Such buyers also appear wary of driving farther out to get more space.
Sheryl Palmer, president, and chief executive of Scottsdale-Ariz.-based Taylor Morrison Home Corp., said to cater to this demographic the company is building more three-story townhouses or single-family homes on narrow lots. She said about one-third of the company’s buyers this year are millennials, up from 22% last year.
Even Toll Brothers Inc., which typically builds homes for the top end of the market, is venturing into lower price points. In Houston, the company is building homes starting in the mid-$300,000s range, while a typical Toll home in the area costs around $850,000.
Write to Laura Kusisto at laura.kusisto@wsj.com and Chris Kirkham at chris.kirkham@wsj.com
Appeared in the May. 12, 2017, print edition as ‘Generation of Renters Now Buying.’

Historic Decline in HomeOwnership affects Economy, Bodes well For Investors

In a Wall Street Journal article from March 27, 2017, by Laura Kusisto, as well as in a few blog entries on WSJ, the point is made that homeownership in the US is at a historic low. At 63.7% homeownership, it is the lowest such number for the past 48 years!
The reasons given for it include more strict lending practices following the recession. Perhaps another issue is that the recession is still fresh enough to have taken the belief away that your home will “always appreciate “ in value and will serve not only as a residence but as a major lifelong investment. Some people may no longer think so.
Add to that the natural desire of people to be free to move at will, and we have only 63.7% of homeowners in the US as of the 4th quarter of 2016.
As investors, of course, we are quite familiar with the powerful financial effect owning houses can have on our future, especially if we finance them with the incomprehensible 30-year fixed loans still available, and at still super low rates.
Having 63.7% homeownership percentage means, of course, that a full 36.3% of the population are renters! That is about 117,000,000 people!
Those of us who know the value and power of investing in houses and holding them as rentals can only look at this statistic as a positive – obviously, these renters need a place to rent and we will have a larger renter pool available for our homes. Sure some single people may want to rent an apartment, but families usually prefer renting a single-family home.
Coupling this data regarding the highest number of renters available to us in nearly 50 years, with the still-low interest rates available on 30-year fixed rate loans, means this is an excellent time to stock up on single-family homes as investments.
Interest rates are on the way up. The fed keeps reminding us they will continue to raise rates. Having a period of such low rates (despite the small “Trump Bump” we experienced recently), makes it a special time to buy and hold.
If you are under the FNMA allotted 10 loans per person (20 per married couple if they buy separately), it is high time for you to go out there and purchase brand-new single-family homes in good areas, finance them using these great 30-year fixed rate loans, which will never ever keep up with inflation (thus they will get eroded by inflation as to their real dollar value). The homes will be managed by local property managers we use ourselves in the various cities in which we invest.
We will discuss this as well as many other important topics for investors, at our quarterly ICG 1-Day Expo near the San Francisco Airport on Saturday, May 20th. We will have experts lecturing on important topics, lenders, market teams from the best markets in the U.S., and lots of Q&A, networking, and learning. Just send us an email at info@icgre.com. Just put in in the subject line, “Saw your blog on homeownership” and list your name and those of your guests. We will confirm!  See you on May 20th. 

Home Prices Pass Peak, Go Down In Most Expensive Markets

Since 2012 there has been significant home price appreciation in many U.S. metropolitan areas. Some markets reached levels of unaffordability and continued on a tear until recently. Markets such as San Francisco, New York City and parts of Miami have reached unprecedented highs, accompanied with worries about social clustering, lack of affordability, and the need for long commutes for “regular” (most) people.
In the markets we are interested in and are investing in, there are more diverse scenarios. In the Phoenix and Las Vegas metropolitan areas, prices have indeed gone up quite a bit since 2012 (Phoenix over 100% and Las Vegas almost 100%).  In these two metropolitan areas, affordability is still not an issue. Prices started going up from an exaggerated low point that was the knee-jerk reaction to the Big Crash. Even at today’s prices in Phoenix and Las Vegas, affordability is still not an issue. Most buyers are homeowners and they can use the amazing FHA loan with a 3.5% down payment and the lowest possible interest rate, which makes them less price sensitive.
For investors, Phoenix and Las Vegas are less interesting to buy in at this time, as rents have not moved up very much while prices essentially doubled since 2012. Cash flows are nowhere to be found (and investors can’t use the special FHA loan).
The Texas markets have started their ascent around 2013. In the major metro areas in Texas, prices went up significantly (around 40% in many cases). This is not as extreme as in Phoenix but enough to make investing in the major TX markets less attractive, especially with the high property tax in the state of Texas.
Florida is a bit of a mixed bag. Expensive properties in Miami Beach are through the roof. Parts of Orlando are up about 50%. However, areas in the larger metro area may still be appealing for investment, such as Winter Haven and perhaps Deltona. Tampa is up about 40% but further areas like Zephyrhills are only starting to roar.
In Jacksonville, there has been some price appreciation but in the areas, we primarily look at, prices are still attractive. Partly this is due to foreclosed homes still hitting the market in an AS-IS condition, pulling comparable sales down. The foreclosed properties showing up in the market is an All-Florida phenomenon, as Florida is a judicial foreclosure state and well-defended foreclosures can last many years.
Oklahoma City has been relatively stable with so-far modest price appreciation. It is close to Dallas and the prices are much more affordable, rents are similar, and property taxes are 40% as much! It is a market that is appropriate for investing in at this time. The large oil reserves in the South Central Oklahoma Oil Province (SCOOP) area, which is not far from Oklahoma City, may bode well for future economic upturn (despite the city already being a strong economic market).
While the most expensive metro area prices are beginning to sag somewhat, investors interested in the range of $100K-$200K can still find appropriate places to buy. Couple that with the still super-low interest rates (get 30-year fixed rate loans – inflation starts eroding them from day 1 so the latter years are almost meaningless in terms of the real buying power of the dollar), and you get an excellent combination for the savvy long term real estate investor in the right markets.
Feel free to contact us to discuss. I delight in talking about these subjects. info@icgre.com
We will discuss in further detail, including having market teams talk about these and other issues, as well as expert speakers on important investment subjects, during our ICG 1-Day Expo on Saturday, December 3rd. Everyone mentioning this blog can attend for free (email us at info@icgre.com). These events have been very useful to the attendees, and I learn a lot every time as well. The event is near the San Francisco Airport and starts at 10:00 AM so people can fly in from Los Angeles, San Diego, Seattle, and Portland and so on.
Looking forward to seeing you!
1 2 3