A few times a week I talk to investors planning on putting a large down payment on the purchase of a single-family rental home. The goal is to have a better “cash flow”. It may sound logical – the greater the down payment, the smaller the loan, and hence the monthly payments. However, the foundational piece of buying rental homes in the United States is the “gift” called “the 30-year fixed rate loan”. This loan sounds like a miracle to most foreigners, since neither the monthly payment nor the mortgage balance EVER keeps up with the cost of living around the world, while everything else does.
The magical 30-year fixed rate loan
The 30-year fixed-rate loan is at the heart of life transformation for investors when the homes are held for 10 years or more (preferably over 15). The loan keeps getting eroded by inflation (or CPI– the cost of living), while the home, rent, and everything else keeps requiring more dollars to buy (hence in dollars, their value goes up – even without intrinsic appreciation). The 30-year fixed rate loan starts looking quite puny after 12, 14, 16 years. It may be years before it is paid off, but since it never keeps up with the cost of living, inflation hammers the real value of the loan.
These loans are a great financial gift, with future-changing potential. Why, then, would you want to make the gift smaller? Especially at today’s low rates? The answer is, you don’t. A larger down payment will mean the magical loan will be smaller.
May be wise not to exceed 20% down payment
This is not fully utilizing the power of the fixed-rate loan, and it means the borrower has expended more of their scarcest resource: cash! Even very wealthy people, who can afford to put down a large down payment or buy for cash, choose to put down less money. They do this to leverage their cash with the 30-year fixed-rate loan.
I think that in normal cases, a 20% down payment should not be exceeded. The small additional cash flow due to having a smaller loan is insignificant at the present time. Right now, your main “cash flow” should come from your own earnings (salary). It is later in life during retirement that the rental homes can replace your income.
In cases of big 1031 exchanges, with not enough properties to identify, or in cases of not being able to get the FNMA loan anymore, then larger down payments are merited and that is a different blog post. I still think the down payments should be less, rather than more, in any circumstance. Currently, in our Membership area on our website, we have podcasts and a webinar that discuss loans and cash flow in depth. You can learn more about it at icgre.com/members
In a podcast I recorded recently, I gave my take on the question I get asked almost daily: “Before I start buying investment homes, should I create an LLC?” I begin by stating that this is a legal question and should be posed to a lawyer.
The 30-Year Fixed Rate Loan
As a non-lawyer, I point out some issues: We talk about the benefits of getting the fixed-rate 30-year loans. These loans are referred to as “FNMA loans” ( since they follow the FNMA – Federal National Mortgage Association guidelines). The FNMA loans will not be given to a new LLC. They will be given to an individual with income, a credit score, etc. Thus if you create a new LLC and buy the property in the name of the LLC, you will likely be giving up on one of the most powerful pillars of single-family rental investments: the 30-year fixed-rate loan.
Also, again, speaking as a non-lawyer (always fact check with a lawyer), an LLC has protective qualities only if it adheres to being a completely separate entity from you. It needs its own bank account, checks, (checkbook) books (bookkeeping or software like Quickbooks), etc. If there is a shortage in the LLC, you cannot just transfer money to it. That would be commingling funds and may destroy any protective qualities the LLC might have had.
In addition, lawyers have been telling me that court cases indicate more and more that for meaningful protection, you need to have a multi-member LLC and not just a single member one.
A single-member LLC is liked because it is a “pass-through” entity. That means the financials of the LLC flow through to the owner’s taxes and no separate tax return is needed for the LLC. However, a multi-member LLC needs its own separate tax return, K-1’s issued to the various members (and who is that other member, by the way?). That means more costly accounting fees and time spent.
In addition, some states require (besides a tax return), a yearly fee. California, for example, charges $800 per year per LLC.
I also mention that when you buy a home for $180,000 and put 20% down, you have a loan of $144,000. If a lawyer considered suing you and looked at this home, it would be unattractive – since the lawyer may not be a real estate professional, and he or she would assume that selling a $180,000 that has a $144,000 loan on it, will yield virtually no money after commissions, expenses, and perhaps selling quickly (it is not always an ideal time to sell). Thus the very existence of the mortgage is already a good protective measure.
Knowledgeable lawyers I know recommend using insurance as the first line of defense. Get good liability insurance on the home, and get umbrella insurance to cover up to your entire net worth.
Recently, I interviewed one of the best lawyers I have met on this subject, Brett Lytle, partner at McDowall Cotter out of the San Francisco Bay Area. Brett is also one of our expert guest speakers at our quarterly Expo once or twice a year. The podcast interview can be found in the Member’s area on our website: www.icgre.com/members
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 email@example.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.
Also on the pro side, people are confused as to where money should operate. The knee-jerk
reaction is to have money sit as cash (with close to zero yields). However, when people are scared of stock markets, real estate and (especially) single family homes usually become more interesting as a safe hard asset that produces income, which we tell our clients at ICG as well.
In a Wall Street Journal article (front-page) by Laura Kusisto, May 12, 2015 titled “Home Prices Start to Heat Up” we learn that home prices rose year-over-year in 148 out of 174 metro areas in the United States, as measured in the first quarter of 2015. Fifty-one of these metro areas increased by double digits.
There is no doubt that most U.S. markets, including essentially all the markets real estate investors are investing in, are on an upwards trajectory. (If you are not a real estate investor… you may want to take advantage of as many opportunities as you can to learn about this market and determine what might work for you as an investment in your future.) The reasons are many, including low interest rates and loans becoming even easier to obtain over the past year (and this trend continues). Buyers (no doubt) know that the low rates will not be there forever, and feel compelled to jump in. And they are doing just that. A better employment picture also helps.
Needless to say, the phenomenon of price appreciation by itself can create upwards price pressure, as buyers prefer jumping in sooner rather than later, to get a better price. As I have always discussed and predicted, retiring baby boomers are starting to be a major force in some of the sunbelt states as they seek homes for retirement in warmer climates and friendly tax situations.
For the investor, new and seasoned, what is happening now is not strong enough not to invest. Learning how to take advantage of all of this is optimal at this time. It is a reminder that buying with a fixed-rate 30-year loan that never changes with inflation – and I cannot emphasize that enough – is one of the best financial moves one can make for their financial future! The tenant and inflation will bring the loan balance down as the years go by. Home prices AND rent are NOT fixed, only the mortgage payments are (the loan balance is also fixed and in fact is paid a bit off each month, even nominally due to the amortization).
I will discuss this in greater detail as well as many other factors critical to our real estate investing strategies, during our ICG quarterly 1-Day Expo near SFO airport on Saturday May 30, 2015. We will have market teams from the best markets in the U.S. at the Expo with vendors present for one-on-one discussions. Lenders will tell us about the new loans we can get, including new loans for foreign investors and U.S. investors with over 10 homes. We will also have experts on insurance, credit optimization and repair, and overall financial planning. For more detail on these experts, visit us at ICG Real Estate Investments and click on the button about our upcoming event. To register you may email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, and mention where you saw this blog, to attend for free with two guests. If you would rather register through Eventbrite, feel free (although ticket price applies).
See you soon; I look forward to learning from our experts right along with you.
Investors who have been buying older homes from bank foreclosures during the recession are now realizing some of the benefits of buying new homes built this year, in 2015 direct from developers (or minimally a massive renovation – like new). The lower future incidence of repairs, the warranties, the potential developer giveaways–possible only in new home purchases (a builder can give the buyer a covered patio which may be a $6,000 option, but only costs the builder $2,000 to build) and the modern amenities and floor plans are starting to attract more investors.
For more information, you are invited to attend our quarterly ICG Real Estate 1-Day Expo this Saturday. You will not only meet teams from the most relevant markets and see the possibilities for yourself, but there will be expert speakers on important topics such as the new twists in Asset Protection (you must know about this), buying real estate from your Self-Directed IRA, and getting real estate financing for purchases from within your IRA.
There will be information for new investors and established investors on how to move forward powerfully. There will also be lenders to update us as to the ever-improving loan possibilities for investors (domestic and foreign), and lots of great Q&A and networking. The event is near the San Francisco Airport this Saturday, March 7th, from 10 AMinfo@icgre.com or call us at 415-927-7504.You may also register by emailing us at
Understandably, in Florida, there is likely to be more price appreciation, as the state as a whole reflects the recession effect due to the ultra-slow judicial foreclosure periods. All in all, however, it’s definitely time to look to the stable markets with great economies and low unemployment. It is time for the classic long term hold of houses, where the tenant pays off the (very low) fixed-rate mortgage while inflation keeps eroding it.
SLOWING PRICE GAINS SUGGEST STABLER MARKET
By Kathleen Madigan (WSJ)
Updated Dec. 31, 2014 12:41 a.m. ET
Yearly growth in home prices across the U.S. continued to moderate early in the fourth quarter, suggesting the housing market may be settling into a more sustainable recovery.
Prices nationwide increased 4.6% in the year ended in October, according to the Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller home-price report released Tuesday. That was down from 4.8% in September and a far cry from the 10%-plus gains in the first quarter. A 20-city measure more closely followed by economists increased 4.5% over the year in October, also down sharply from double-digit gains earlier in the year.
Demand for housing has slowed significantly in recent months despite stronger job growth, a rebound in consumer confidence and falling gasoline prices, which puts more money into consumers’ pockets. Sales of both new and existing homes fell in November. Yet the slowing trend is a positive for the 2015 housing outlook, say economists who follow the industry.
Price appreciation of about 5% is close to a sweet spot where more buyers are able to purchase a home and current owners accumulate housing wealth, but the market avoids a price bubble that could trigger a financial crisis, as happened in 2007.
“It’s a healthier market because first-time buyers feel more comfortable about coming in,” said Bill Banfield, vice president of capital markets at mortgage lender Quicken Loans, adding that the industry needs more first-time buyers to buy smaller homes that allow existing owners to move up into new construction or to an existing house that better suits their needs.
For 2014, however, first-time buyers accounted for only 29% of existing-home sales, according to data from the National Association of Realtors, much less than the historical norm of 40% for sales of primary residences.
Economists at IHS Global Insight agree slower price appreciation is positive for the housing outlook. “Home appreciation at a reasonable pace makes homeownership an attainable dream,” said Stephanie Karol, a U.S. economist at IHS Global. A repeat of the double-digit growth seen in early 2014 “would risk producing a bubble,” she said.
But just as each real-estate market is local, she pointed out the Case-Shiller price index of 20 cities masks the individual pricing experience going on across the country.
“Prices are rising fastest in cities such as San Francisco where geographic or legal constraints limit new construction,” Ms. Karol said. Cities with fewer zoning laws and more space—such as Charlotte, N.C., and Phoenix—are seeing smaller price gains.
Still, the average home-price gain of about 5% is good, she said, and IHS Global is upbeat about home demand and prices in 2015. The forecasting firm projects home prices, as measured by an index compiled by the Federal Housing Finance Agency, will increase 5% over the course of next year and sales of new and existing homes will average 5.92 million, up from 2014’s current pace of about 5.3 million.
Here is a link to the Wall Street Journal U.S. Housing Market Tracker: