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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
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 email@example.com, 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.
As far as markets, there may not be large appreciation swings in most markets during 2016. In a funny way the ever-solid Texas is appreciating decently now, but people have some questions about its overall economy.
Oklahoma City with brand-new homes (under 50% of the property tax bite of Texas; it is poised to provide better cash flow on similar rents and home prices – which it has) is a very serious candidate for solid investments.
Happy New Year!: