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
At the end of March 2019, it became known that the White House is pressuring the Fed to lower its benchmark federal-funds rate by half a percentage point, according to an article in the Wall Street Journal by Nick Timiraos and Kate Davidson. There has been no movement yet.
We now see homeowner rates for mortgages at the 4.1% range; some of the lowest in history. If the White House succeeds, the benchmark federal-funds will not translate to lower mortgage rates right away, but mortgage rates will inevitably drop. Possibly even lower than at any time during the past decade. It is a waiting game and time will tell over the coming months.
This would likely create more buyers, push prices higher in most markets, and create an upward push in strong economy cities (and even not-so-strong).
The magical 30-year fixed rate loan
Since we are aware of the uniquely special anomaly called the 30-year fixed rate loan, (we are the only country that has this type of loan) where neither the monthly PI (principal and interest) payment (not the loan balance) keep up with inflation and the super low rate will be locked for 30 years, we are fully protected.
If you qualify for the best loan, under the FNMA (Fannie Mae, officially the Federal National Mortgage Association, or FNMA is a government-sponsored enterprise (GSE)—that is, a publicly-traded company which operates under Congressional charter—that serves to stimulate homeownership and expand the liquidity of mortgage money by creating a secondary market.) guidelines this is a great time to buy where the numbers make sense. Taking action is important.
Many are not aware that they can purchase up to 10 homes with this type of loan. Married couples (if they qualify separately) can purchase 20. This is already a great time to lock these rates in with the magical 30-year fixed rate loan. If the White House succeeds in lowering rates, the terms will become more attractive.
In my experience, I have seen people look back and lament over not making use of these great circumstances to build a solid portfolio for their future. I hope you are not one of them.
This summer in our Membership area we will have a couple of podcasts where I will talk about this solo and in interviews with experts. I will also be talking about the 30-year fixed rate loan in detail in my show produced for public television called “Remote Control Retirement Riches with Adiel Gorel” that will be airing over the next several days across the country. Take a look at our website here for details and to check for showtimes in your area.
Here is a recent video on the show currently posted on my YouTube channel: https://youtu.be/8eiUYcsOPiQ
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.
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.
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).
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.
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
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 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 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 , 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 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.
Appeared in the May. 12, 2017, print edition as ‘Generation of Renters Now Buying.’