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
In a blog on RentCafe, by Nadia Balint, from April 2018, this is some of the information shared:
“The U.S. housing market has gone through nothing short of a transformation in the last decade. The number of people renting their abode has increased significantly, in some cities surpassing the number of homeowners. The housing market quickly responded to this shift by adding millions of rental units in just a few years, with many U.S. cities witnessing a frenzy of apartment construction.
The most interesting part of this transformation, however, was the fact that the rental market expanded even faster horizontally than it did vertically. For the better part of the decade ending in 2016, single-family homes for rent were the fastest growing type of rental in the U.S., outpacing the formidable apartment boom seen throughout the country.
According to U.S. Census estimates, the number of single-family rentals (SFR) in the U.S. grew by 31% in the ten year period immediately following the housing crisis (2007 to 2016), while multifamily rentals (MFR) grew by 14%. In net numbers, single-family rentals in the U.S. increased by 3.6 million units in ten years, more than rental apartments, which increased by 3.2 million units. As of 2016, the U.S. Census counted a total of over 15 million single-family homes for rent in the United States and a total of over 26 million apartments for rent.”
Oklahoma City leads the 10 Top Metros with the largest share of Single Family Home Rentals:
his is very likely helped by the tendency of many Millennials to rent instead of buy. Millennials have not been valuing home ownership as much as previous generations. Many of them value flexibility and the ability to move. Nevertheless, many Millennials are getting into the family-formation phase of their lives, and thus prefer single-family homes with a yard for the kids, dog etc.
All this dovetails perfectly into our investment philosophy: buy single-family homes in good areas in good large metropolitan areas, finance them with 30-year fixed rate loans (which never keep up with inflation) whenever possible, and hold. That will vastly change and improve your financial future.
We will discuss this and a lot more at our ICG Quarterly 1-Day Expo on Saturday 5/19/2018 near the San Francisco Airport. I will be teaching and holding extensive Q & A sessions. We will have expert speakers on Asset Protection, 1031 Exchanges, and Financial Planning overall. There will be lenders present, 5-star networking, and presentations from market teams from the most relevant markets in the U.S. You can attend free, with a guest by emailing us at email@example.com, and mentioning this blog. Looking forward to seeing you!
#real estate, #real estate investing, #interest rates, #single-family homes, #rentals, #retirement, #college costs, #wealth
Interest rates are rising. In the past year mortgage rates went up by over 0.5%. Homeowner mortgage rates are now about 4.4%; investor rates are always higher, and are currently at about 5.25%. Historically, these are still very low rates. Even in the past 20 years, which saw some of the lowest interest rates in nearly a century, the average rate is about 6%; based on the past 7% and even 7.5% are considered low.
In the 1980’s there were periods where interest rates were over 14%. For many years, rates were in the “double digits.” There was a lot of joy when rates finally got down to a “single digit.” I recall everyone running to refinance to get the amazing new rate of 9.95%!
For the single-family home investor, given their ability to get a 30-year fixed rate loan, which miraculously never keeps up with inflation, these recent changes in interest rates should mean very little. I have seen thousands of people’s lives change dramatically over the years buying good solid single- family home rentals. The trick is to hold them for a long time (leaving it be–no refinancing for debt consolidation) and let inflation erode the fixed loan to the point of ridiculousness, while natural average price appreciation happens steadily (that includes booms and busts – on average single-family home prices have appreciated at least 1.5 times the rate of inflation historically).
That has to do with human behavior. I have seen many cases recently, of investors who understood the powerful future benefit of buying single-family rentals, and as it happens, were looking during the period when rates were super low (investor rates were 4.7%). A few months later, when investor rates are now 5.3%, I have been hearing investors saying “Well, I don’t want to invest anymore, since rates went up from 4.7% to 5.3%”.
THIS is how you can ruin your financial future. Over the years, I have seen it time and time again – investors not taking action, not cementing their future by actually investing in a single-family home rental. Rather, they would find a reason not to do it – “interest rates are too high now”, “I read the economy will tank”, “it’s too late”, “I am too old” etc.
Using a minute change in interest rates as an excuse not to move forward, especially at a time when rates, even for investors, are supremely low – like today, is simply not going to let the powerful effect of rental homes change your future for the better.
I have seen many such cases in the past, for example: two friends were considering investing in houses, one thought “the interest rates were too high” and didn’t do anything. The other went ahead and invested. Once he saw it was easy and profitable, he invested again, and again. Today, the financial difference between the two friends is staggering. The one who owns the rental homes, bought over 15 years ago, is retired with great ease, has sent his kids to great colleges, and is wealthy. His friend – not so much. It’s almost heartbreaking.
Don’t let these minor perturbations in interest rates ruin YOUR financial future.
We will discuss this and a lot more at our ICG Quarterly 1-Day Expo on Saturday 5/19/2018 near the San Francisco Airport. I will be teaching and holding extensive Q & A sessions. We will have expert speakers on Asset Protection, 1031 Exchanges, Financial Planning overall, as well as lenders, 5-star networking, and market teams from the most relevant markets in the U.S. You can attend free (or with a guest), by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org, and mentioning this blog. Be sure to give us your name and the name of your guest. Looking forward to seeing you.
In an article published in the San Francisco Chronicle from February 7th by Christopher Rugaber (AP Economics Writer), called “Why Investors’ Fear of High Inflation is Probably Overblown,” Mr. Rugaber explains inflation by going into the pros and cons of higher and lower inflation. He provides an overall concise glimpse of the situation as it is currently. The Fed’s dilemma with increasing taxes in the face of strong employment and rising wages is certain to bring inflation to the economy. However, he also discusses how inflation assists borrowers.
Of course, at ICG, we constantly talk about how inflation erodes the 30-year fixed-rate loan. This, in turn, becomes the borrower’s ally in reducing the real buying power of the loans fixed dollar amount. We will talk about this and many other important topics during our ICG Quarterly 1-Day Expo near SFO on Saturday 3/3/2018.
Our expert speakers will cover topics including the new tax law and how it pertains to real estate investors, how to buy rental homes out of a self-directed IRA, and how to use insurance as the first line of defense of protecting your assets. There will also be lenders available to discuss what they have available and what you can expect over the next several months. Property management, legal expertise, and one-on-one’s can be found as well. And as always, we offer a lot of question and answer time. Market teams from the most relevant metro areas in the US will be present. Everyone mentioning this blog will receive free entry. Please email us that you read this at email@example.com.
In an article in the Wall Street Journal from January 3rd 2017 by Chris Kirkman (yes it’s from over a month ago but this is an important and relevant trend which is intensifying as time passes), we learn that buildable lots for developers are becoming scarce. One tactic builders are reverting to is buying whole subdivisions that were abandoned during the crash and which were never fully completed. While there is a lot of remedial work to be done, it is still a better deal in many cases to fix up the existing unfinished subdivision, than to start the zoning and approval processes from scratch.
The relevance to us as real estate investors is that as buildable lots become more scarce, undoubtedly their cost increases. This reliably raises the price for finished new homes and creates comparable sales which usually push the median market prices higher.
Given the fact that interest rates are still low (historically they are very low, Trump-bump notwithstanding), and since 3.5%-down FHA loans are still widely available to homeowners buying at the price ranges we are interested in ($100K-$200K), the writing is on the wall: home prices in many cities (certainly the key cities we look at as investors), are likely to keep appreciating in the near future (possibly 1-2 years).
This points to a potential window in which to ‘stock up” on quality investment Single Family homes: with low interest rates (don’t forget to get a 30-year fixed-rate loan if you can), an upwards price trajectory (if only due to the scarcity of buildable lots), still-available low-down FHA loans and still-affordable prices in many key metropolitan areas, investors are enjoying a ‘sweet window” in which to buy, finance their purchases well, and then rent and hold.
We will be talking about this and many other points, including entity formation and asset protection, investing in real estate form one’s self-directed IRA, the types of loans available to investors, which markets stand out and why, and a whole lot of expert information. Q&As and networking are always in abundance, at our Quarterly 1-Day Expo near the San Francisco Airport on March 4th. Anyone mentioning this blog entry can attend for free – please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to register. Just tell us in the subject line, “Read your blog,” and your information in the body of the email.
The full WSJ article is presented here:
National home builder Lennar Corp. has tried the model in one of its master-planned communities outside Reno, Nev. RSI Communities, a home builder in California and Texas, is testing out two fully leased new communities outside San Antonio and is considering expanding the model to other markets.
John Bohnen, RSI’s chief operating officer, said the for-rent approach allows the company to build homes at a faster and more efficient pace than its traditional for-sale operation. That is because builders don’t have to wait to start construction until a sale is completed, giving construction crews that are in high demand more certainty about the number of homes they will build in a given time-frame, thus providing more of a guaranteed pay schedule.
Matt Blank was a former hedge-fund investor who moved to Phoenix in 2011 to start snapping up distressed properties. He was soon crowded out when major investors like Blackstone Group LP entered the market and prices shot up. He instead turned his attention to buying empty lots and building affordable homes that adults could rent.
His company, BB Living, has since built about 350 rental homes across the Phoenix area, some in stand-alone communities and others alongside owner-occupied homes in large master plans. All six projects he has completed initially sparked controversy from neighbors worried their property values could be impacted by inadequately maintained rentals. But he said he got buy-in after assuring them the properties would be professionally managed and look no different from the surroundings.