By Adiel Gorel

Many investors are asking, now that interest rates have gone up by 2% relatively quickly, and home prices are up significantly from a couple of years ago, whether buying single-family rental investments is still something to consider. 

The main point, at the heart of the matter, is that we can get a 30-year FIXED rate loan when buying single-family homes (technically 1-4 residential units) in the United States. This point is so dominant, it supersedes any other consideration. Surprisingly few investors seriously take this dominant factor into consideration. 

For some who have read other materials I have written, the following is a bit of a repetition, but it’s well worth understanding this point fully. 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 is incomprehensible that in the US 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, 14 years, realized that although there are 16 years remaining to pay off the loan, the loan balance AND the payment seem very low relative to marketplace rents and prices. The remaining 16 years are 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 or lifetime caps as adjustable loans have in the US. 

The power and positive effect on one’s financial future gets magnified when you consider that in 2022, we are still in a period in which interest rates are very low. While investors cannot get the same favorable rates as homeowners, it is nevertheless quite common nowadays to see investors getting a rate of between 5.75% and 6.25% on single-family home investment properties. From a historical perspective, these are very low rates. Most experts think that, in the future, mortgage rates will rise further. From a historical perspective, even 7.5% is considered a relatively low rate.These days, you can “turbo boost” the great power of the never-changing 30-year fixed-rate loan by locking in these still-low 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-6% rates forever. 

Once you have gotten 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 of us have been “spoiled” during the COVID Pandemic that started in 2020. The Fed lowered rates to the very lowest point in the history of the US. Homeowners could get loans at 2.75%, and even a bit less. Investors could get loans at 3.5%, 3.75% or 4%. Happy times. Recently, rates rose quite quickly. Homeowners now get loans at 5% or slightly more. Investors get loans at about 6%, depending on credit. It feels like the sky is falling, but it’s important to retain the historical perspective. These rates are still historically very low. Recall also that currently, inflation is at 8.5%. Inflation is your “best friend” when you have a fixed-rate loan since it constantly erodes the true value of your payment and remaining loan balance. Getting a 6% FIXED rate loan when inflation is over 8% is quite favorable. 

The 30-year fixed-rate loan is so meaningful in changing your future that it works well over the long term, almost regardless of the interest rate. Obviously, the lower the rate, the better. However, by way of an example, when I began investing in the 1980s, interest rates on mortgages were at 14%. Every single investment home I bought back then (and I always made the minimum possible down payment) started out with a negative cash flow. Nevertheless, it was clear to me that since the loan was FIXED, the payment would remain the same, but everything else would keep up with inflation. That meant, to me, that within a couple of years, the negative cash flow would turn into break-even, and a couple of years after that, it was likely to turn into a positive cash flow. A couple of years after that, the cash flow was likely to be a stronger positive, etc. 

Those notions came to fruition exactly as I had seen them. I started celebrating every time one of my homes got to “break-even.” I knew that from then on, the cash flow would be even more positive, on average, as the years would go by. Even with a 14% interest rate, the system worked. Those homes changed my financial life enormously. 

Of course, when rates went down, I refinanced. First, I refinanced down to 12%, then came the magic “single-digit” time, when I refinanced to 9.95% and was ecstatic about it. 

I have thousands of investors’ success stories that I hear all the time. One small example is the Silicon Valley engineer who bought 16 homes, then 13 years later saw his loan balances were under 30% of the home values, despite there being 17 years still remaining on the life of the 30-year loan. He sold 4 of the homes, paid his taxes, and used the proceeds to pay off the small remaining 12 loans, retiring on the strength of 12 free and clear homes. Many of these success stories, including his, are from people who started buying when rates for investors were between 7.75% and 8.25%. 

Many investors are also taken aback by the price increases that took place during the Pandemic. They feel they are being hit by high prices AND higher interest rates. 

One very important thing to remember is that while I am writing this (May 2022), inflation is at 8.5%. 

Some people are concerned about starting out with only a break-even, or a very slight positive cash flow when making 20% down payments. They have gotten accustomed to starting out with a healthy positive cash flow, even with a mere 20% down payment, during the super-low rates era. However, the INITIAL cash flow is just that: initial! 

As time goes by, the mortgage payments remain the same. However, rents rise, on average, with inflation. These days there is a huge demand to rent single-family homes in the suburbs, with a yard and room for a home office. There is more demand than supply in the rental space, and rents are going up quite furiously across the nation. Even if rents only rise with inflation, inflation these days is quite high. Either way, the cash flow gets better and keeps getting better as the years go by, while you build equity in the home, changing your future. I look at these investments as long-term. They will very likely change your future, but they need 10, 12, or 14 years to get to the desired result. In the beginning, the “cash flow” that has the most meaning is your own income: the income from your W-2 job, or your small business, in addition to what your spouse may earn as well. THAT is what pays for your food, transportation, utilities, and kids’ expenses at the present. In the future, when the rental homes can get you to retire powerfully, the equation flips, and then the rental homes will provide the very meaningful “cash flow” you can retire on, as I describe in the example above. 

The mistake many new investors make is thinking that they MUST have immediate large positive cash flow at the outset, despite not really needing it, since they generate sufficient “cash flow” in their jobs. This thinking may create a situation whereby an investor never gets started. Possibly a book the investor had read might have put the idea in their head that initial cash flow is the primary thing to look for. Ten years later, I see people expressing great regret at never having started due to these notions. Some people resort to buying inferior properties in inferior locations, seeking a “better initial cash flow.” Buying bad properties usually doesn’t end up that well. 

Today, as in any time I have seen, is an excellent time to acquire single-family rental homes, finance them with the astounding 30-year fixed-rate loan, and then let time pass while inflation does its thing. We will talk about it in more detail at our upcoming quarterly event, complete with a Q&A. 

 

© 2022 Adiel Gorel 

The Pandemic Has Changed the Dynamics of the Real Estate Business

 

One of the things that would-be investors want to know is this: how long will the whole investment process take? After all, we are busy people and we want to know how much time and effort we would have to put in, right? This is a reasonable ask, and in fact you should be asking your realtor or your investment guide all of these questions. A lot of investors simply want to know how long the loan application and approval, the actual paper work etc. is going to take.

How long does the investment process take?

There are a few options that will determine the time frame of your investment process. We are assuming here that one is opting for a brand new single family home (which in my view is simply the best choice). So you can opt for a home that is nearly ready; which the builder is ready to hand over possession of. Here, the thing that will take time of about 40 to 45 days is the loan process. The process of closing the deal will take about a month even in the unlikely event of someone buying the property in cash.
Sometimes you would opt for a property under construction where you can add the time of two or three months to the time frame, within which you can finish off the loan formalities. However, I find that the most common scenario is investors choosing a model and the builder starting to build based on this after finding a buyer. This can take as little as four months in my experience but could take up to a year.

Why things have changed now during COVID.

What has changed recently is the pandemic throwing the supply chains off track. Lumber is an issue. Labor is an issue. The supply and delivery of raw materials and fittings such as doors and windows is an issue. What this does is, it creates significant delays in the whole process of building and handing over possession to the buyer. Right now, the supply chain issues remain and delays are not uncommon.
So if you're planning to invest, remember to factor in at least some delays, and, in cases, delays of up to several months over the usual time taken for the investment process. It starts with house hunting where you survey a lot of options and narrow them down to what suits you in terms of price, location, aesthetics, and your financial goals. You then apply for and get the loan, close the deal and find a property manager and then, as I always say, do nothing!
If you have any more questions about how long the investment process takes or indeed any question about real estate investing, we are here to answer those questions for you. We are ICGRE, a real estate company designed to help empower you with the knowledge you need to create a safe, financially secure future. Remember, even if the process does take a bit of time, choosing to invest in real estate is going to be life changing – in a very good way! Call us to set up a free meeting and we will take you through the whole process. 

Do You Pay Utility Bills For Your Investment Property Or Does Your Tenant Pay?

So here’s a question that I get sometimes from careful investors – about utility payments in the case of investment properties. If you own a property and you live in it, there is no question that you pay for the utilities. But, if you're the owner of a home you’ve bought as an investment and there is a tenant you’ve leased the property to, who pays in these cases?

Payment of utility bills of an investment property.

There are a lot of recurring /monthly payments that one has to make in respect of any property. As the owner of the property you are typically required to make timely payments of your mortgage installments, property taxes and insurance premiums. You would also pay for property management, and as owner, repair expenses as and when required. However, this is all you have to pay for. As owner or lessor, you are generally not required to pay for the utility bills.
Apart from the other expenses, there are these utility bill payments to be made: There are electricity bills, gas bills and water bills, payments to be made for garbage collection or disposal, sewage management etc. You pay for what you use – this is the rule of thumb. So in the case of rented properties, nine times out of 10, it is the tenant who pays for these utilities. In the case of practically all single family homes or duplexes, it is the tenant who will pick up the tab for the utilities. However, there are exceptions.
In some of the big apartment complexes, it is the landlord or property owner who pays for utilities. The reason for this is that a lot of these complexes do not have separate meters. This means a lot of extra expense for the landlord that invests in apartments rather than single family homes. Suppose you have a tenant who loves having tub baths twice a day or who has no regard for shutting off electrical appliances – this would mean a lot of extra expenses for the landlord. Knowing that the landlord is picking up the utilities tab could be why that tenant doesn’t care.

Another reason to opt for single family homes.

And this brings me to one of my favorite bits of advice to give real estate investors: choose to invest in single family homes rather than condos or flats in big apartment complexes. Right now, it is the sunbelt states that are offering good opportunities for real estate investors.
The large metropolitan areas in the sunbelt states are where the commercial activity is, where the industries are. This is where the jobs are, and where young people and families are looking to rent homes. With COVID still lurking in corners, people are still wary of being in close proximity with others; they prefer independent homes to apartments with common or shared areas.
So for these and more reasons, the single family home is your best bet if you're looking to invest in real estate. Tune in to my latest video for more details.

Here's What We Know About Real Estate Two Years into the COVID Pandemic

 

 
How we live and where we live – this is a big part of the American Dream. The spacious suburbs, a corner of the world to call one's own, a yard to throw around a ball with the kids or maybe pets… these are all part of the American Dream. In other words, people want single family homes in good localities, with good schools nearby, a secure and peaceful life for the family. Now, two years of living with COVID, this is more so than ever before, as I explained to a gathering of Silicon Valley investors recently.

Realty 411.

I have always recommended brand new single family homes as the best option for real estate investors. Brand new is best, because you have a brand new heating and cooling system, a new roof, and things are still within the builder’s guarantee. Owners will have little trouble with renters when everything is new and not likely to break down or need repairs. So in my view brand new homes are always a good idea, and I have nearly four decades of experience and hundreds of my own investments to back me up!
Right now, with our experience of COVID, single family homes have become even more desirable. Families do not want to live in shared spaces with common areas such as in apartment buildings. Independent houses are the best bet; preferably new homes where no one has stayed before seem very attractive indeed. This is something I have explained via magazine articles, TV shows and our live events as well.

My advice for real estate investing – Warren Buffett agrees!

The real game changer in my view is the Fannie Mae loans or the 30-year fixed-rate loans that are unique in the USA. I often have to convince non-Americans that this is real because it simply doesn’t exist in most other countries! These loans are impervious to inflation and the 30-year long term of repayment makes them a gift that no American can afford to pass up if they are serious about creating wealth for themselves.
Think about it… 30 years ago, a postage stamp was 4 cents, today it is 55 cents. In New York City you could watch a movie for $2 then; today it costs you 16 dollars! Thanks to inflation, that loan is going to become easier and easier to repay over the 30 year duration. So Warren Buffet and I agreed on the merit of the 30-year loan, as Entrepreneur Magazine reported recently. Buying as many single family homes as possible is going to help you pay for your kids’ education, buy that fancy car, and basically live out your retirement years not just comfortably, but wealthily!
Another aspect of real estate investing that I now recommend is choosing to invest in the metropolitan areas of the Sun Belt states. Addressing the Realty 411 event, I explain how I started out my investing career and why today, states like Nevada, Arizona, Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Alabama, Georgia, and Florida are a better option than the northern states. Check out the video, and learn more about securing your future and achieving your financial goals. 

Looking For An Investment Road Map You Can Trust? Look No Further

How long should you research before you decide to start implementing your plan to invest in real estate? 10 years? 20 years? 30 years? And what resources do you need and which bootcamps do you need to attend before you finally take the plunge? It may surprise readers to know that a lot of people think all of this is necessary, but it really is not! Real estate investing is actually a lot simpler and much less intimidating that you may think it is. You will find that things readily fall into place when you use what they call The Adiel Method.

Read my book!

When people ask me for a resource that will help to guide them on their quest to create future wealth for themselves and their family, I recommend a book. Full disclosure, that book is written by me, but it is an excellent resource for those looking to learn how to start investing in real estate – even if I do say so myself! Read the book Remote Control Retirement Riches: How to Change Your Future with Rental Homes,” which you can get off of Amazon right now for a few dollars. This is a simple road map that will help you achieve your financial goals. Whether it is your kids’ education, a fancy car, elder-care for your loved ones, or even just a truck load of fine chocolate if you so wish!
The point I'm making here is that you don’t really need a lot of resources to start investing. Do your due-diligence by all means – read up about the markets, read up about the documentation required, find out about the local regulations etc. But the formula for real estate investing is fairly simple and you don’t need to go to bootcamp for it – just attending one of our quarterly expos could resolve your questions and help you get started.

Anyone can do it.

We have had young people and middle aged people and senior folk start on their investing journey. We’ve had people who want to buy one home and we've had people who want to buy 10, 20 or 100 homes. My formula is simple: choose to buy single family homes in large metropolitan areas of the Sun Belt states. Avail the 30-year fixed-rate loan and make the minimum down payment. Then hand over its management to a property manager so that you start to earn yourself a tidy amount in rent; which will also help you in repaying your loan. And now prepare to do absolutely nothing – because that is how you prepare for your retirement riches: by doing nothing!
Still want some guidance on this whole business of real estate investing? Well, we at ICG Real Estate are happy to help. All the resources you need to learn more about real estate investing, we make available to you for free.  Call us or meet us in person. Remember, real estate investing is simpler and more rewarding than you think!

There Are Many Reasons To Hire A Real Estate Agent – And No Reason Not To!

Oftentimes, people think that a real estate agent is an unnecessary indulgence. You are just buying property after all; it’s not rocket science! For my money however, I would go with a real estate agent every time – and as someone who has decades of experience and hundreds of properties as investment, I’d say I know what I'm talking about!

There are 5 reasons why involving a real estate agent is a great idea.

  1. Expertise – In the real estate space, market insight counts for a lot. It tells you where to buy property, when to buy, the sort of documentation required. A real estate agent is basically someone to show you the ropes so that you don’t end up making some very expensive newbie mistakes. This is very important when you're buying a home as an investment; something that you hope will increase in value over the years. The agent is aware of current market trends, whether a particular region is growing or stagnating, and will be able to make educated predictions.
  2. Contacts – They work in the area and in the real estate space so they have all the right contacts with the builders, with property managers, and so on. This can ease a lot of processes for you; smoothen your path so to speak. The personal equation a real estate agent has with these people could even get you a better deal in some cases.
  3. Local knowledge – This one is especially important if you're living in one corner of the country and investing in a whole other corner thousands of miles away. Now you definitely need someone with insight and contacts, who will guide you about local regulations and so on. If you're looking to have your property start to generate a passive income in the form of rent, this local knowledge comes in very handy.
  4. Experience – As a professional you're surely good at your job. This is because you have training and knowledge, and you have done it for a while. In the real estate space as well, on-the-job experience is invaluable. Wise counsel from a seasoned, experienced real estate professional could make the difference between a great investment and a dud.
  5. It is free – Also, what reason could you possibly have not to hire a real estate agent? You're not going out of pocket on this; you pay nothing. It is the seller who will be paying, so there is really no reason not to involve a real estate agent in the process.
Finally of course, it is your call whether you want to use the services of a real estate agent or not. For my money, I would absolutely use the services of such an expert. Not only would I save myself a lot of headaches, I even stand a chance of getting better deals because of the collective bargaining power some of these guys have! Reach out to us to know more about our expo events or services, or if you have any questions. 

How To Buy More Homes to Reach Your Financial Goals

For a lot of people, it is a bit of a leap of faith to commit to real estate investment, even though they know that this is their best chance to create future wealth for themselves and their families. This is a question I often get from people who may be hesitant about taking the plunge into real estate investing: “Is real estate investing easier if I already own property?” There is the idea that once I take the plunge, things will get easier. This is only partly true.

Does it get easier?

If you’ve bought property before – to live in, to make an office or to run a business, or as an investment, you know the nuts and bolts of it all. Buying property involves getting a loan, signing documents, and generally going through the closing process. Basically one knows what the whole exercise entails.
So yes, you do have the comfort of being familiar with the process and the next time around will be less intimidating and more familiar. However, beyond the psychological edge over a complete newbie, there are no major benefits. There are other factors that will decide how easy or difficult it is for you to get a loan, and how many loans you will be able to obtain.

Other factors that influence investing

The number of loans you can take out as an individual is limited, which is up to ten Fannie Mae loans per person. As I often joke with my clients, not even Warren Buffet gets more than ten loans! However if you're married, you can, as a couple, take out up to 20 loans, thereby increasing your chances of wealth creation for your family.
Lenders look at a potential borrower's income, type of employment, and credit history, as well as tax returns to decide whether or not to grant loans. A lot of lenders will prefer to lend to people who have already taken out loans to buy homes as investment over those that have not. This is because those who have already invested may already be generating a rental income for themselves. This makes them a more attractive type of borrower in the eyes of the lender. So if you're financially sound, you may be able to get up to ten, and as a couple, up to 20 home loans.
More details on this here. 
If you have questions about buying homes to create retirement riches for yourself, we at ICG Real Estate are happy to answer them for you. We can help you take that plunge! If you like you can attend one of our quarterly real estate investment events before you decide. 

Why Direct Real Estate Investments Win Out Over REITs

I often get questions about REITs (Real Estate Investment Trusts), and whether investing in these is a better idea than actually buying homes as an investment. In my experience, REITs are a good option and may be a good way to figuratively dip one’s toes into the real estate space. However, I would recommend direct real estate investments over REITs for several reasons. You can click here to learn why I say so.

What are REITs and how do they work?

Investing in REITs is a little like investing in the share market or investing in gold in dematerialized form. You don’t actually own X piece of land or Y address. You, along with others, own a share of what are usually huge commercial properties. The fund managers usually raise tens of millions, even billions via REITs, and make massive investments.
However, this does not give you the benefit of the 30-year fixed-rate loan; something that I am always waxing eloquent about – and with good reason! This is a gift that keeps giving in a sense over the entire duration of repayment. The amount never increases – rather it keeps getting easier and easier to repay as the years go by, as inflation rises and everything around becomes more expensive. This is something that Warren Buffet himself recommended when speaking with me. Read more about it in this Entrepreneur Magazine article.

Why invest in single family homes?

And then there is another reason why I believe direct purchase of single family homes is the best kind of investment – and that is rental incomes. When you buy homes in some of the larger metropolitan areas in the Sunbelt states, you are creating a source of passive income for yourself by way of rental income. While the rent income will follow inflation and keep increasing over the years, the repayment amount of your 30-year loan remains the same.
In just about ten years, you would find that your loan balance is just about a quarter of the value of the home you own. This makes it possible for you to repay the loan early, even to buy several homes as investment. Owning several homes can help you create valuable assets for yourself while at the same time generating a passive rental income for you for life.
So, for all of these reasons, direct purchase of real estate is a better option than REITs investments for those who want to create wealth and achieve their financial goals. You can listen to my latest episode about this, and if you have any questions, feel free to contact us at ICGRE. 
How A Few Months' Waiting Doesn’t Impact Your Property Investment Prospect
 
There are a lot of questions that come my way during or soon after our lively, exciting ICGRE Events – our quarterly real estate expos. Where do I invest? What market is good for me to buy in right now? What markets should I avoid? And then I get this question from all the impatient people – what to do if I get on a waitlist for buying property? So here’s what I tell them about waiting lists...

 

Waiting lists are not a bad thing.

 

Yes I know waiting can be frustrating. First you go and make that all important decision to invest in real estate – congratulations! This is probably the smartest decision you’ve taken for your future financial security. Then you go ahead and do your due diligence and you research the property market to see where you should invest. The research seems to point in a particular direction. The trade pundits also seem to indicate that X or Y market is a great investment opportunity because it is poised to grow in times to come. So you make up your mind.
Then when you want to take the plunge, someone tells you to wait – they put you on a waiting list. Frustrating? Maybe. A problem? Not necessarily. So, first ask yourself: why are there waiting lists in the first place? This means that it is a good market to buy real estate and a lot of people are seeing the sense of investing in this particular market. This probably means that you're making a wise choice.

 

Look at the bigger picture.

 

What is the aim of your investment? It is that you should be able to secure your financial future, right? Maybe you're looking to finance the education of your grandkids or create the sort of retirement riches that help maintain a great lifestyle even in your later years? Whatever your aim is, the fact is that with real estate you're investing for the long term. You're looking at returns 10, 15, maybe 20 years down the line.
So when you take that long view, a few months here or there doesn’t really matter. My advice is that if you're really interested in a particular property market, you shouldn’t let yourself be dissuaded by some waitlist. Just wait for a while and do absolutely nothing. And remember, even after you’ve bought your property, you need to do absolutely nothing! At ICGRE we take care of all the nitty gritty for you. 
Check out this episode to know why wait lists don’t really matter; and why you shouldn’t worry about waiting a few months to make the right real estate investment. If you like, you can also check out some of our Investor Stories to know how we literally work to put cash in your pocket. 
Simple Reasons Why Foreclosure Investments Are a Bad Idea
There are some people who are convinced that investing in foreclosures is the way to go; that this is the way they are going to make the millions that they dream of. I would gently disabuse people of this mistaken notion. Foreclosure investments are neither as common nor as simple as people believe them to be. For a number of reasons foreclosure investments are not advisable. In this economic climate, the idea of making big money off of foreclosures is going to remain a pipe dream mostly. I explain why here.
 

What are foreclosures and when do they happen?

Simply put, foreclosures happen when a person is unable to make payments on a property loan they have taken. In such a situation, the bank or financial institution, who is the lender /mortgagee in this case, will ‘foreclose’ the property. They will auction off the property to recover their dues. Theoretically, it makes sense to invest in such foreclosures because banks and other lenders basically want to sell off and get the property off their hands. They don’t want to be stuck with a non-liquid asset that they cannot lend or otherwise monetize, so you can buy cheap.
But think about it – when does a foreclosure actually happen? Well, first the borrower or mortgagor defaults on their payments. Then the lender sends notices and then proceeds with the foreclosure – a process that will typically take months. In the meanwhile the property owner has other options – especially now when it is more or less a seller’s market. Our recent experience has been that in a lot of markets, people receive multiple, excellent offers as soon as they put a property up for sale.
So why would any homeowner let it get to the foreclosure stage when they have other, better options? In the past, when times were tough, banks were foreclosing thousands of properties. So during the 2008 recession and for years after that, this would have made sense. However, it doesn’t anymore, particularly now in these COVID times as I explain in this short video. And that is why I say that right now foreclosure investments remain a bit of a pipe dream.

 

Still thinking about foreclosure investments? You must be brave!

Why brave? Because buying foreclosures is a lot more complicated than it seems. If you decide to bid for a property that is undergoing foreclosure or intervene in a suit, there is a lot you would have to check – are the property titles clear? Is there some other lien or pledge on the property or IRS issue? Foreclosure investments need significant expertise and experience. Plus in my experience, parties sometimes collude with each other as well. I have seen people being financially destroyed as a result of this.
For all of these and other reasons, I advise people against investing in foreclosures. There are other sounder, better investment opportunities out there for you. Get in touch with us to know more.
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