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Posts Tagged ‘best investment markets’

Do You Think You Can Never get College Aid For Your Kids Due to Your High Income?

Many of you may automatically assume that you will get no college aid when your kids arrive at that age, due to your income, which you assume is too high (especially if you are in Silicon Valley) and crosses all the threshold.
 
Surprisingly, it is not a matter of just how high your raw income is. It is a much more complex matter of how your overall financing looks, is arranged, even optimized.
For this important knowledge, we have invited Gary Sipos, MBA, AIF, to educate us (no pun intended) on the subject. Gary has helped numerous families get into college in ways that were much more beneficial and frugal than they had imagined.
 
I always talk about real estate investments, the way we do it at ICG, as a means for a stable financial future with two main items: retirements and your kids’ college. I like to explain how Single Family Home investments are done with a long horizon that can assist both these goals in a very powerful way.
 
It is only natural that if we can optimize one of our biggest potential expenses, we would like to know about it.
 
Gary will be speaking THIS SATURDAY, March 5th, at our ICG 1-Day Expo near SFO. There will also be experts on financial planning, special lenders and loan programs, and market teams from choice U.S. markets for us to meet, learn from, and be exposed to some great properties.
 
Anyone mentioning this blog can attend for free (with guests who can come for free as well). Just email us at info@icgre.com to register. See you this Saturday.
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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.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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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!
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Affordable Homes with New Construction Getting Scarce

In an article in the Wall Street Journal from May 7th, 2016 by Chris Kirkham, we learn how builders of new homes have to focus more on the second-tier and higher product. The reason is that land costs (including local fees) have increased, as well as building costs. Builders have a harder time squeezing a profit from the lower-priced new homes.

This is becoming an issue with families seeking to buy new affordable homes.

As investors, this points to a certain window in time in which we can get brand new homes at reasonable prices.  We are still buying new homes for $130K-$170K, mostly in the middle of this range. Rentals are strong (partly because some would-be-owners become tenant due to lack of affordable homes to buy), and needless to say, if the more affordable homes will become scarce, it is likely to bode well for their appreciation, as the higher priced home in a subdivision will provide comparable values which will help the appreciation of the more affordable homes. This is how it happened historically.
The ability we still have as investors to buy the more affordable (yet quality) product, coupled with the still-low mortgage interest rates, creates a sweet spot in time to add to our real estate investment portfolio.
The WSJ article by Chris Kirkham can be found here.
We will discuss this, as well as a host of other relevant and important issues, at our quarterly ICG 1-Day Expo near the San Francisco Airport THIS SATURDAY – May 21st. For details, see www.icgre.com/events. Anyone mentioning this blog can attend free – just email us at info@icgre.com and write in the subject line, “Read your blog on construction homes getting scarce.” We will have experts about complete insurance and umbrella coverage nationwide, 1031 exchanges, property management, and lending, among others. Looking forward.
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The Sun Still Shines in Florida!

Florida has emerged as the “Go To” state in 2014.
 
While Arizona and Nevada are excellent; Texas, Oklahoma and a slew of other states, are relatively stable. It’s Florida that embodies the post-recession sweet spot.
 
The home prices in Florida markets are still way below the bare construction costs. Even though there is steady price appreciation, values are still very attractive relative to new homes. We have already touched upon the reason: the foreclosure process in the state of Florida is judicial and has been extremely slow. As a result, the flow of homes into the marketplace is more steady than in Trustee Sale markets.
 
Despite the great demand, this balancing out of the supply of homes has created a more tampered growth environment for the state of Florida. Many great markets will emerge after the recession effects wear off. For now, the sun shines on Florida!
 
Don’t forget to visit us at our incredible 1-Day Expo THIS SATURDAY, March 8th, near the San  Francisco Airport. Details are on our website: www.icgre.comWe will have rare speakers, tons of education, lots of Q&A and many experts present. In addition, some of the hottest markets in the nation will be represented. A day not to be missed!
 
Looking forward to seeing you on Saturday!
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Where to buy now?

Some of the markets that had gone down significantly have registered great price improvements, especially between Q1 2012 to Q3 2013. Phoenix led the pack followed closely by Las Vegas and many California cities. Florida has provided steady appreciation but did not go crazy (most likely due to the slow judicial foreclosure process which modulates home supply into the market and helps avoid spikes).

It is important to bear in mind though, that even in Phoenix and Las Vegas the prices, even after appreciation, are still low. In most cases, the prices reflect just a small premium to construction costs and are certainly very far from the peak (although that is a somewhat nebulous standard). This would be the time to remember that real estate is a classic investment, especially when powered by a 30-year fixed-rate loan.

It is now almost a consensus that interest rates will rise (most say significantly) in the next few years. Needless to say, anyone who has the ability to qualify for a good low-interest-rate 30-year fixed rate loan should get one! These are 100% inflation-proof. In fact, once you have these loans inflation becomes your “best friend” by eroding the loan since the loan is not inflation-adjusted.

Florida still supplies a steady diet of below-construction-cost homes. That would be a place to explore purchasing. However, the power of getting a fixed low rate becomes such that as long as you buy in a decent market with decent demographics, it is not bad to “get moving” and do it. 

New homes by builders are still not that popular among investors but in some markets, they are not that much above the used-home fray AND they provide a certain peace of mind related to their very newness, warranties and so on. Many builders help out with the loan in some way (buy down the rate for example) so that may add to the attractiveness.

All in all 2014 should be a year to be active and purchase, especially if a 30-year loan can be had.
Should you go for a somewhat lower rate on a 15-year loan? I believe the 30-year loan provides important extra flexibility. You can always choose to pay a 30-year loan in 15 (or 14 or any other number you choose), but you cannot go the other way. You also retain the flexibility to revert back to the 30-year amortization schedule if cash flow becomes tight.

Happy buying!
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Two Mini Real Estate Investment Expos in Seattle, Wednesday February 5th & Thursday 6th!

We are excited! ICG Real Estate Investments (International Capital Group) are going up to Seattle to put on a mini-version of our quarterly Real Estate 1-Day Expo that is usually held near SFO in South San Francisco. As most of you know, we have been doing these expos for 20 years and there is always so much information. I personally return home more knowledgeable every time, as everything in real estate and real estate investing changes weekly, if not daily it seems. I am putting information about his event in a blog, as I want to share it with many new people as possible, and I know I will be connecting with many new folks on LinkedIn as well.

I have not spoken in the area for about six years, and it is going to be great to re-connect with so many that I used to connect with on a continual basis. Building relationships is what we are about and the excitement is mounting! It will be like a family reunion. (Hopefully, that is a pleasant thought to most of you!) Based on demand we are looking forward to two evenings, which will allow folks to attend twice or pick a day that works best for their schedule.

These two evenings will not be easily forgotten, and we are available to talk before or after and even during the events, as well as meeting over the phone, well after the event. The Mini Real Estate Expo (s) is a great way to start out the new year with hard-hitting information you can use to be a better investor. This action-packed event will be held from 6-9:30 pm on two nights, Wednesday, February 5th and Thursday, February 6th. This way, busy Seattleites have two options to work the event into their schedule. Many of you requested that I have the event in two different locations for added convenience, so we have provided that. You can also come to both nights if you desire!

Patricia Wangsness and Adiel Gorel will be the expert presenters, and you will hear from expert loan sources and learn from market teams across the country that will be flying in to tell you about the hottest markets and the proven methods to use for success. Here is a taste of what you can expect:

  • How to identify the best markets for investments
  • How to invest when you are “too busy to invest” (step-by-step)
  • Learn how your properties can be rented and managed well from afar
  • Pay for your children’s college education using real estate (or for your own education)
  • Secure a powerful retirement using real estate
  • How to benefit from recession prices in 2014, and where to do it
  • Learn how to acquire loans you did not know you could get
  • How to benefit from special market situations few people know about and how to use it to your advantage
  • There are ways to successfully own multiple properties and manage them–we will show you how

There will be extensive Q & A time. There will also be teams there in person to meet with you one-on-one; they will also be speaking about the hottest markets in the U.S.

This will be one of the premier networking events in 2014 so far!

Date and location of the mini expos:

Click here to register! If you have any questions prior to the event, please call Adiel Gorel at (800) 324-3983 or (415) 927-7504.

Any additional questions about the venues or if you have trouble on the day of the event, please call our public relations pro, Lynette Hoy on her cell (415) 694-3004 or at her office in the Seattle area (206) 455-9366. Lynette will be at both events, so please call her cell phone between 4-9: 30 pm on those nights if you need assistance.

Look forward to seeing you there. I can’t wait!

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5 Things to Watch in Housing in 2014

In an article in the Wall Street Journal by Nick Timiraos on January 7, 2014 an attempt at predicting various scenarios for housing at large in the U.S. for the year is made. Of course, the 5 points are general. I personally believe (and am actually seeing) that markets that are still reflecting post-recession pricing (like Florida) and where houses can easily be bought under bare construction costs AND the future demographics are promising – should show a far more bullish trend this year versus other markets. Here is what
Mr. Timiraos says:
 
“For housing, it was a tale of two halves in 2013. During the first half, unusually low supplies of homes and low rates spurred bidding wars, pushing prices up sharply. During the second half, the frenzy cooled amid a sudden spike in interest rates. While more markets are now reporting increases in inventory, the number of homes for sale remains quite low.”
 
The bull case for 2014 goes something like this: those low inventories will support rising prices. Below-average levels of household formation, the argument goes, must ultimately pick up, boosting construction. Mortgage rates, while higher, are still historically low. Credit standards will stop getting tighter and might loosen as home prices rise. Finally, mortgage delinquencies are dropping. While some states still have elevated foreclosure inventories, the worst of the distressed-housing problem is in the rear-view mirror.
 
The bear case, meanwhile, says that the recovery is a mirage built on the back of the Federal Reserve’s stimulus that has done little more than inflate asset values, including home prices. Record low-interest rates, the argument goes, unleashed demand from both borrowers and all-cash investors seeking returns on something—anything—with a decent return. These investors built large rental-home companies that remain untested at scale. How can first-time buyers take the baton from investors at a time when prices are up almost 20% in two years and when interest rates are rising? 
 
Other problems loom: Mortgage rates could jump, choking off housing demand and curbing new construction that remains mired at 50-year lows. Investors could unload their homes if the rental-home thing doesn’t pan out. And don’t look for much help from mortgage lenders that face a cocktail of new regulations, which could keep credit standards stiff.

 

So which view will carry the year? Here are five wild cards to watch this year:
 
(WSJ: 7 Jan 2014 By Nick Timiraos)
1.  WILL INVENTORY RISE?

Prices have risen largely because of shortages of homes for sale. While there is growing evidence that inventories hit bottom last year and that some markets are moving back in favor of buyers, the number of homes for sale remains relatively tight still. Foreclosure-related listings have plunged, and traditional buyers haven’t flocked to list homes—at least not yet. New construction, meanwhile, won’t be back to normal historical levels for years. The consensus view is that price growth continues at a somewhat slower pace, but that consensus view could be wrong—for the third year in a row—if there aren’t more homes for sale.

 
A graph showing fewer homes on the market have resulted in higher prices for housing
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

2.  WHERE IS THE HOME-CONSTRUCTION RECOVERY?
While home prices have recovered strongly, new construction activity hasn’t. Part of this may have to do with the fact that home prices are still too low to justify construction, particularly given land, labor, and materials costs. For smaller builders, credit may also be harder to come by. Some economists say new-home demand could remain muted because many move-up buyers don’t have enough equity to “trade up” to that new home. Key issues to watch here: What happens to household formation, and do builders begin to throttle back price gains in favor of selling more homes in 2014?

 
A graph showing New-Home Building Slowly Returning
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 



3.  WHAT HAPPENS TO MORTGAGE CREDIT?
Lenders could begin to ease certain “overlays”—or additional credit and documentation checks—that have been imposed over the past few years. Mortgage insurance companies are getting more comfortable insuring loans with down payments of just 5%. So don’t be surprised if, at the margins, it gets a little easier to get a mortgage—especially if you have lots of money in the bank.

Even if it gets easier to get a loan—by no means a given—borrowing costs and fees could rise. Banks also face new mortgage regulations that could keep most of them cautious. Borrowers with more volatile or harder-to-document incomes, including the self-employed or those who make a lot of money on commissions, bonuses, or tips, could continue to face tough sledding.

A red for sale sign in front of a house
Bloomberg News

4. WHAT WILL INVESTORS DO WITH THEIR HOMES?
A handful of institutional investors have purchased tens of thousands of homes that are being rented out. These homes tend to be concentrated in a few of the regions that have been hardest-hit by foreclosures over the past five years. Investor purchases played key roles in stabilizing prices, especially because investors were wolfing up homes at a time when supplies were already dwindling. A key question now is what happens after the initial rush to invest subsides. More lenders and investors are extending debt financing to some of these property owners, which should help boost returns. Can owners perfect the expense management associated with maintaining and leasing tens of thousands of individual homes?
Can owners perfect the expense management associated with maintaining and leasing tens of thousands of individual homes?

5.  WHEN DOES HOUSING HIT A TIPPING POINT ON AFFORDABILITY?
Rising home prices are a double-edged sword, especially in pricier coastal markets such as San Francisco and Los Angeles. On the one hand, rising prices are giving many homeowners equity in their homes again—an extremely positive development to the extent it means these borrowers are less at risk of foreclosure.

But price inflation is making housing less affordable. This will be a bigger problem if cash buyers retreat from the market in 2014 and/or if interest rates rise in a meaningful way. Consider: In Los Angeles, prices have jumped by nearly 30% in the past two years, to a median of $448,900 in the third quarter. Assuming a 20% down payment, the monthly payment of principal and interest on the median-priced home has jumped from $1,255 in the third quarter of 2011 to $1,823 in 2013—a 45% increase.

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Don’t Forget to Get a Fixed Rate Loan!

I encounter many investors still tempted to get some flavor of an adjustable loan when using their available investment loans. There are extremely low-interest rates being offered on many shades of variable interest loans such as 1/1, 5/30 and so on. 
Given that there is a virtual consensus among economists that we are headed to a high inflation period, it would not be the wisest move. When inflation is looming the need for fixed rate loans becomes even greater than it usually is. Fixed-rates are still very low, not far from the lowest rates in over 50 years. At this point, and before inflation rears its ugly head, it is definitely the time to lock in a rate forever. 
Once you have locked in your 30-year fixed rate loan, inflation actually becomes your ally. It erodes the real monetary value of your loan, which never changes with inflation because it’s, well… FIXED! In a way, the very process of inflation will hasten the real-life pay down of your loan balance. 
Many of you are eligible for a lot more investment loans than you might think. We will talk about this in detail, and also share strategies to increase the number of investment loans you can get at our incredible Real Estate 1 Day Expo on Saturday, December 7, 2013, near San Francisco Airport. More details can be found on our website www.icgre.com.  We have been producing these events for over 20 years, and we always have the most useful experts to assist you.  
This time there will also be a discussion of the new Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) and strategies on what to do, credit enhancement and repair (to be able to get all these loans), and an amazing lawyer battling the banks in court to share his insights and wisdom. In addition, market teams from the most relevant markets in the US will be there. Looking forward to seeing you!
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Many Homes No longer Underwater – Good for the Investor?

In a recent article written by Kenneth Harney in the Los Angeles Times, we learn that four million homeowners are no longer “underwater” on their loans. As many of us know, a good number of these homes may be investor-owned. Obviously, this is good news for the economy at large.

It is also good news for real estate investors — if someone is in the process of foreclosure, rising prices lower the deficiency exposure for the individual (this is true for homeowners as well as investors, of course). In addition, investors with clean credit can use the rising equity to refinance and get the great rates that can be obtained today, and in many cases improve their cash flow (possibly) quite significantly.

Needless to say, in some of the markets investors may even begin to think about selling and if they bought in 2009-2011, they may already realize nice gains. Most investors are more interested in keeping the homes, as appreciation is likely to occur in markets that really overshot down during the recession (like in Arizona, Nevada, and Florida, which are specifically mentioned in the article as still carrying a lot of underwater properties). Nevertheless, the rising prices create a sense of success (not to be trifled with) and in some cases, more options and room to maneuver assets.

 

Here is the article:

 

4 million homeowners climb out of negative equity

 

 

More owners transitioned from negative equity into positive territory last year, a good sign for the economy overall. But many remain underwater on their mortgages.
By Kenneth R. Harney
March 16, 2014, 5:00 a.m.

 

WASHINGTON — The economy may be growing at a frustratingly slow pace, but one piece of it is booming: American homeowners’ equity holdings — the market value of their houses minus their mortgage debts — soared by nearly $2.1 trillion last year to $10 trillion.

 

Big numbers, you say, and hard to grasp. But look at it this way: Thanks to rising prices and equity levels, about 4 million owners around the country last year were able to climb out of the financial tar pit of the housing bust — negative equity.

 

Negative equity gums up people’s lives and the real estate marketplace as a whole. It makes it difficult or impossible for many owners to refinance out of a higher-cost mortgage into a more affordable one. It makes it painful to sell — you’ve got to bring cash to the table to pay off what you still owe to the bank. Plus almost no one wants to lend you money, at least not at reasonable interest rates secured by your real estate, when you’re deeply underwater. So you’re likely to spend less and invest less, and you’re probably not going to buy another house. Nor will potential new buyers be able to purchase yours.

So when 4 million owners manage to transition out of negative equity into positive territory, that’s significant news not just for them personally, but for the economy overall.

 

Two statistical studies released this month offered a glimpse of where the country is in terms of homeowner equity, seven years after real estate began to tumble and crash. The first was theFederal Reserve‘s quarterly “flow of funds” report. Among many other segments of the economy it toted up, the Fed found that homeowner equity has rebounded to its highest level in eight years — though it’s still not quite back to the $12 trillion it was during the hyperinflationary high point of the housing boom in 2005.

 

The second study, from real estate analytics firm CoreLogic, focused on the flip side — the impressive shrinkage of negative equity. According to researchers, nearly 43 million owners with mortgage debt have positive equity. Roughly 6.5 million owners are still in negative equity positions, however, down from more than 10 million a year ago and 12 million in 2009.

 

Who are they and where are they? Not surprisingly, they are heavily concentrated in areas that saw the wildest price run-ups, the heaviest use of toxic loan products and the steepest plunges during the crash. In Nevada, 30.4% of all owners with mortgages are underwater. In Florida, the percentage is 28.1%, and in Arizona, it’s 21.5%. Still, all three areas have improved sharply over the last two years.

 

Although non-costal California markets suffered some of the most dramatic declines in property values during the bust, researchers found that the state as a whole is nowhere near the top of the latest negative equity list. With 12.6% of mortgaged homes underwater, California has a lower overall negative rate than the national average (13.3%), and has relatively fewer underwater homes than Maryland (ranked 10th worst in the country with a negative equity rate of 16.2%), Ohio (19%), Illinois (18.7%), Rhode Island (18.3%) and Michigan (18%).

 

Among the best markets if you’re measuring for positive equity: Texas, where just 3.9% of owners are in negative positions, Alaska (4.2%), New York (6.3%), Oklahoma (6.4%) and the District of Columbia (6.5%.) Higher-priced houses generally have lower rates of negative equity compared with houses in lower-priced areas, many of which saw construction booms for entry-level, low- and moderate-cost homes in the suburbs of major cities during the boom years. Just 8% of mortgaged homes worth more than $200,000 have negative equity, compared with 19% of homes under $200,000.
Having positive equity is one thing, but do you have adequate equity? Or are you, as CoreLogic refers to the phenomenon, “under-equitied”? Researchers define under-equity as mortgage debt that is in excess of 80% of your home’s resale value

 

This is important in practical terms, they say, because having less than 20% equity makes it more difficult for you to pursue potentially helpful financial options, such as refinancing your primary home loan or obtaining an equity credit line. About 21% of all mortgaged homes nationwide are currently in this situation, and 1.6 million owners have less than 5% equity.
Distributed by Washington Post Writers Group
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