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Posts Tagged ‘Florida real estate’

Price Gains Slowing; Markets May Stabilize

In a Wall Street Journal article from December 31, 2014, by Kathleen Madigan, it is mentioned that overall in the United States (as per the Case-Shiller 20 City Index) prices were up 4.6% from the previous year by the end of October 2014. The pace of growth has slowed from 4.8% in September and 10% in the first quarter. The article goes on to say this could indicate the markets are moving toward stabilization.

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.

No doubt newer homes will figure more prominently in 2015. The classic investment thesis holds strong in 2015 with an extra HUGE bonus: super low interest rates are still here – but many think they will vanish in the coming years.
Happy New Year!
Below is the article in its entirety for your review:

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:

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The Incredible Power of the 30-year Fixed-Rate Loan

The 30-year fixed-rate loan does not usually get its due as an amazing financial tool that should be utilized by any savvy investor who can get it. For many foreigners, it’s incomprehensible that in the U.S. we can get a loan that will never keep up with the cost of living for 30 years. During that period, essentially everything else DOES keep up with the cost of living, including rents. Only the mortgage payment and balance (which also gets chipped down by amortization) do not keep up with inflation. 

You can talk to many borrowers who have taken 30-year fixed-rate loans and after, say, 16 years, realized that although there are 14 years remaining to pay off the loan, the loan balance AND the payment seem very low relative to the marketplace rents and prices. The remaining 14 years is almost meaningless since in many cases (statistically and historically) the loan balance will be a small fraction of the home price and not very “meaningful.” Just to get some perspective, most other countries on earth have loans that constantly adjust based on inflation. Both the payment and the balance track inflation all the time, usually with no yearly and lifetime caps as adjustable loans have in the U.S.
 
The power and positive effect on one’s financial future get magnified when you consider that in 2016 we are still in a period in which interest rates are very low.  While investors cannot get the same favorable loans as homeowners, it is nevertheless quite common nowadays to see investors getting a rate of between 4.25% and 4.75% on Single Family Homes (SFHs) investment properties. 

From a historical perspective, these are extremely low rates. Most experts think that in the future, mortgage rates will rise; from a historical perspective, even 7% is considered a low rate. Thus, these days, you can “turbo boost” the great power of the never-changing-30-year fixed-rate loan by also locking in these amazing rates which will never change. If in the following year’s interest rates indeed go up, you will feel quite good about having locked under-5% rates forever.

Once you secure your fixed-rate loans, two inexorable forces start operating incessantly: inflation erodes your loan (both the payment and the remaining balance), and the tenant occupying your SFH pays rent which goes in part towards paying down the loan principal every month. These two forces create a powerful financial future for you.
 
Many investors think that if a 30-year fixed-rate loan is good, then a 15-year loan must be better. I actually beg to differ. You can always pay a 30-year loan in 15 years (or 14 or 20 or 10 or 8) if you wish – just add some extra to the principal payment. However, you cannot pay a 15-year loan off in 30-years. Thus the 15-year loan FORCES you to make the higher payment while the 30-year loan gives you the important flexibility of keeping your payments low OR making them high based on your financial situation and other considerations. 

Some would say that the 15-year loan is also better since it has a better rate. True, the 15-year rate maybe 0.25% or even 0.5% better than the 30-year rate. However, in my opinion, this is not enough to justify the enormous loss in flexibility. In addition, having the loan for a longer time allows inflation to “erode” the loan even further. This last consideration greatly minimizes the argument some investors make that “…with a 30-year loan I pay hundreds of thousands of dollars more over the life of the loan.” 

One factor missing here is that they neglect the TIME VALUE OF MONEY! These extra dollars paid in year 20, 22, 28, etc., are in fact extremely “cheap” dollars in the sense that their buying power is greatly lowered over time. If the value of these future dollars were to be calculated based on the PRESENT buying power of the dollar, some of the later payments may be worth mere pennies on the dollar. 

In summary, I recommend getting a 30-year loan and then choose how long to take to pay it (anywhere between zero and thirty years – you choose!).
 
While interest rates are low, it would behoove the smart investor to buy SFHs and get 30-year fixed-rate loans on them while this “window” is open. Investors can finance up to 10 residential properties using conventional 30-year fixed-rate loans (if their credit permits).  With some maneuvering, married couples may be able to stretch it to 20. If you are under that 10  (or 20, as the case may be) property barrier, it would be quite a smart move to buy SFHs and utilize the incredible loans you can get. You may wish to pay the loan off in 16 years to pay for your kid’s college education (SFHs are effective at this – especially if they don’t go through a crazy 10-year cycle as we had from 2004-2014). You could aim for the properties to be paid off at your retirement date (or the savvier move is just realizing how low they have become and let inflation keep eroding them as equity grows into your retirement years, providing financial growth well into the future in the face of ever-increasing lifespans, and the need for our finances to keep up with our life expectancy).
 
Thirty-year fixed-rate loans are available on 1-4 residential units, which mostly means Single Family Homes – the ideal investment for most individual real estate investors, as we have covered in a previous blog.
 
We will discuss this topic, as well as many other crucial topics for investors, at our Quarterly 1-Day Expo on Saturday, May 21st near SFO. We will have market teams present, including a new exciting market… We have also invited top-notch experts to lecture. We will have experts on Property Management, 1031 Exchanges and Proper Insurance – the first and most important barrier in protecting your assets, including nationwide umbrellas. 

Everyone mentioning this blog is invited to attend for free, with associates. Just email us at info@icgre.com to register, and in the subject line write, ‘Read your blog!’ Then give us your contact information. We will respond with a confirmation for your free entry. AND that is all. We hate spam as much as you do. See you there.
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Appreciation Rates Slow Across the US

Multiple sources report slower appreciation rates in the U.S. overall, year-over-year. The amounts vary from an average of a mere 2.6% all the way to 6%.
It’s hard to attribute that much importance to such general overall numbers. However, the U.S. is not one real estate market but a few HUNDRED local sub-markets. The state of Florida continues its march upwards in the aftermath of the recession and the price improvement that followed. Due to the much slower judicial foreclosure process in and due to the strain on the state’s court system, there are still numerous foreclosures that started as far back as 2008 and are not resolved. This creates a steady “diet” of freshly foreclosed homes, adding to the supply equation and mitigating super-fast rises like we have seen in Arizona and Nevada.

The FL numbers should be superior to the average U.S. numbers reported.  In addition, stable markets are becoming more popular. Texas is becoming a sellers’ market and Oklahoma City is attractive due to its stability, low unemployment rate (reportedly 3.8%), VERY low property taxes and the newly-found reserves of oil & gas; reportedly 3.5 times that of the reserves in North Dakota.
We will discuss this, as well as the ever-changing lending landscape (for the better that is), 1031 exchanges and year-end tax strategies at our upcoming 1-Day Expo on Saturday, December 6th from 9 to 5 p.m. near the San Francisco Airport (click here for details).
Mention this blog and you can attend free with up to two free guests (just email us at info@icgre.com). As always, there’s lots of learning, networking, extensive Q&A’s and meeting the market teams. This time, Dallas will be present in the new markets. Looking forward to seeing you there and Happy Holidays.
 
Appreciation Rates for year end must attend for real estate investors!
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