A Housing nightmare, can it happen again?

Have we really turned the corner on housing since the 2006 , in Tucson- yes? Some neighborhoods have  certainly recovered and some NEVER will go up that high again. High prices were on paper only and in channels of loan mortgages rather than in value. Always be aware of the difference.  Even though you have a lot of positive housing numbers, rents high, endless tenants available, but housing can be sensitive to politics.

Consider CHOP zone ,in Seattle, inner city land taken over by protesters, you as the owner still pay  ownership costs – taxes, insurance, interest mortgage, and repair costs, however you have NO access. Just like that your value went down- can it recover?  It depends on a lot of outside factors you have no control over- remember you are still paying. Owning real estate  is serious business ,you still need to buy  property from an accounting  perspective and always have emergency funds in reserve.

Fourteen years ago the worst economic housing  pattern occurred in history, without anyone realizing it.  The collapse of the U.S. housing market, has now recovered from the  14 year low , but in 20 states it has begun a slow tick upward from .47% to 3 %   that is something to watch, especially the high priced rental market. Watch the rental market for the next 6 months- does it stabilize as people go back to work. Remember owners have to pay mortgages/repairs even as tenants are allowed to default.

Good points to remember: only buy what you can afford- don’t speculate. Buy CASH flow properties, remember taxes , insurance and utilities continue to go up. Repairs and good maintenance cost money, and must be done to keep up value. Remember rental properties tend to go down before single family- pockets of weaknesses will begin to occur.

Be aware buying a property takes a lot of time, it can be  affected by things you can’t imagine and , pay attention to your local markets.

Owning Real Estate learn to think like an accountant!

It is a difficult plan to build immediate cash flow  in ownership, it COSTS money,  most of the time when people buy real estate as investments they don’t realize the cost of becoming a landlord. Often the money you put into the property does not come back in your pocket- keep itemized records. Between taxes, insurance, utilities and maintenance, often the cash flow just isn’t there. Be aware increased taxes  and/or  the sale of the property , often brings more losses if not carefully planned.  So, at least get some appreciation in the property- buy at the right time, and timing IS everything for a little mom and pop rental business. At the end of the year there should be cash sitting in your rental account checkbook, that is a good time for repairs and capital withdrawal.

Understand your MARKET area. Tucson is volatile and goes soft  quickly. Over the years of owning  properties , especially after 10 years, (unless you have managed to PAY OFF THE MORTGAGE) the cash flow may get harder.  Large repairs begin to occur then. Thinking back over the years with my experience, I almost wonder if it would of been better to sell after ten years- moving into something newer and use my equity to buy more. The more units you have the more cash flow, balancing of vacancies is easier, and perhaps greater equity growth occurs,  however  more knowledge is needed.   Money floating, carry overs,  expensive repairs, and  income accounting  are extremely important in managing your own units. Try to calculate your return on money: if you spend $ 100,000 on a unit can you get a 5% net return? $5000.00 a year. That means after mortgage, utilities, taxes, and expenses. It was EASY with 3% interest rates, now it is way more difficult,  because of insurance and taxes.

Real estate appraisers take income, leases, and  management into account when looking at the value for a rental property. If you are under rented on your unit  your appraisal could be less. If the rental neighborhood property price is less,  your property is worth less, even if you have spent a lot in the property.  Usually a cost approach is how an appraiser evaluate the value of the property. All costs are evaluated in the cash flow.

Sometimes holding isn’t a good choice if the neighborhood is changing. What is the competition out there? Watch for neighborhood gentrification. Tucson has seen a great deal of change in different areas of the city. Competition is a killer  sometimes good, sometimes bad.  Areas  often change by zip code, where DO students now want to rent? retireres? young families, young professional?

Know your target  market and how to be a landlord.  Watch your cost on updates- keep them in line with the neighborhood, keep informed of the community,  hire people you trust to do repairs, run credit reports, have strong leases that protect you, be an active landlord- it is your job!  Never buy a property unless it can cash flow from the beginning.

Remember: What do you expect to get in return for your particular property?

Home Rentals go corporate!

Are you ready to compete with BIG business? Rentals have been taken over in America by corporations and they can compete.  The buying spree was a big bet that home ownership was trending downward and the rental market looked good for take over.Currently home ownership is at a five-decade LOW and will stay that way for awhile as rents continue to rise.  Investors are also wagering that many people no longer see home ownership as an essential part of the American dream- specially the mellinnials.  People are realizing houses are NOT necessarily the best way way to gain wealth.

For many years the rental home business was owned by mom and pop and small business investors, most of whom owned one or two properties.  Big investment firms concentrated on other types of property- that all changed in 2008 and the financial  crisis. Swaths of suburbia were sold on courthouse steps- big investors were there waiting too- with lots of cash to make quick deals. Big investors accumulated thousands of houses across the country, they built renovation companies, property management firms, and other companies that could be directly related to  the rental business. Bulk buying brought millions of properties back to life in good neighborhoods that could be affordable to buy, but easy to rent. Many companies now  offer an “aspirational living experience”. Change has quietly come to the rental market and few see it. It has become harder to manage small properties to compete with floating cash from big corporations.  Approximately 200,000 homes are corporate rentals since 2010, with the top market in the country for rentals being Atlanta with 24,075 probably more now. Phoenix is third with 13,300.  Tucson’s market has changed too , especially since money is still cheap, investors are STILL buying and the prices are softening in specific areas. Watch for signs, rental signs stay up year round. People start to place many ads in several locations, people stop putting money into their properties in certain areas. These are visable signs, rents go up at first like crazy, unreal – then a lull- then begin to drop unless you are in a community with a lot of jobs to support higher prices.  Average increase in rents is 3.5 % a year for tenants renewing and larger for new tenants.  It is always a cycle weather you realize it or not a 7 year housing cycle. Then absorption begins, we are not there yet in Tucson.

Think carefully about who is going to manage the properties and how much CASH FLOW really exists. You are in BIG business now.

What about University RENTALS?

The rental market has been a tough one in the University of Arizona’s  targeted area. Several large high rise towers have been built over the last 5 years and MANY Mom and Pops have gone in purchasing a couple units, especially since interest has been so low. Now we are going through absorption and rents have dropped, this in turn LOWERS resale value too. If cap rate is affected the sales price is affected too- beware- selling isn’t always a good idea when units are hard to rent. Many people both in 2005-2006 and now can barely cash flow, between insurance, taxes, water, maintenance, security, and several other costs it has been growing harder and harder. Properties begin to look poorly maintained, , neighborhoods go downhill, crime increases-

I decided to drive around the U of A area to see really what was going on- on every block there is at least 2-3 rental signs- not good! Now the prices are by the bedroom, when did that start? With the towers $600- $800 a bedroom, sounds like California pricing to me.

When did college kids get so rich?  We have managed units for 30 years,  and it has become BIG business, it is tough if you have 2 or 3 units and hope to compete. Vacancy rates are high, college kids are hard on the property , turnover rates are high too, on top of that utility rates keep going up- sewer, water, electric. Good luck for the next couple of year while absorption happens.

Buy in  a GROWING part of the city, watch the price factor, cash flow, and location. Northwest might be a good place. Remember single family homes for middle class people is a good category. ONE refrigerator, stove, oven, AC unit, is cheaper to repair. Make a lease that protects you , check out your prospective tenants very thoroughly. You don’t always make monthly money owning a rental, however, for now, you get a tax right off. You may not make appreciation owning rentals a long time either, costs are high and so is management. Sometimes I think equities are better, ha, ha, ha, at least over 25 years they tend to average 6%.

Just remember it has turned into a BIG business in University areas! Be prepared to wait it out and lower your rents, fix up properties that are empty, or sell at a loss. Be prepared to compete with commercial management teams and  facilities that offer swimming pools, bus pick up, game rooms, happy hours/bars, weight rooms and A LOT more.

Buy or Sale? and rent? Where are the buyers?

It may be time for many of you to think about buying or selling, the national markets are busy- however, be careful of how and what you buy in Tucson. It is a different market all together. Tucson tends to be affected by employment, Tucson lacks the availability of good paying jobs. Tucson has a low resale market value, in fact many cities are experiencing this- an increase in the rental markets, less interests in purchasing.

Taking the plunge requires stability, jobs, good increases in home values, and disposable income. Some people who have lost their homes, went through short sales or foreclosures are now able to buy. They have repaired their credit, saved money, have the capability of getting(or got already) a good job.  Foreclosures that occurred between 2006-2010 may be able to buy now- but what is happening – few are interested in a purchase. They are happy to rent, save money and NOT spend income on repairs.  Boomerang buyers are a strong part of some national markets,but participating in Tucson in smaller numbers. WHY, because jobs are narrow and limited in Tucson.

The Tucson rental market has changed serving a variety of tenant needs by increasing  small upscale individual houses, with amenities,  building more apartment  complexes, and becoming family and pet friendly. Many people have stayed in the rental markets. Eliminating  expensive costs of utilities, repairs and taxes. This type of market is here to stay- so it puts pressure on the pricing of the resale housing market. Tucson is a less sophisticated market with downward resale pressure and upward housing costs.  It is unrealistic to maintain this type of environment without good increasing jobs.  This market in Tucson is under pressure and still has areas that are considered downward trending.  The prices in Tucson WILL NEVER be as high as 2005-2006 again. Values can’t be compared to those prices any more- they are off the radar as comparable sales. Realize the new  resale prices are your neighborhood comparables. You can list your house for whatever you believe your house is worth, but consumers are wise careful buyers, they now judge the market in new ways and have everything at their fingertips to compare old  prices, interest costs, and taxes. Buyers can check the property histories- see your loan balances, know what the old house looked like. They know if it is a quick fix up or a careful remodel.  Sixty days is the average selling time for most homes (depending on price). If you don’t get an offer within six months , you are over priced- lower it. Keep lowering your house until you begin to see interest, don’t waste time and money. The market dictates the price of your house, NOT your realtor.  Sometimes you will get a great salesman, but not a SALE.  Remember with many people continuing to rent, you still have to be proactive to sale your house. At strong rental market is here to stay.  This is the last componet of the 7 year real estate cycle.

The REAL price and value of owning a rental!

A lot of people in 2005, 2006, 2007 bought rentals and thought it was the way to get rich fast. Realtors were fast talkers, everyone thought it was easy money. Now people are struggling to pay their first mortgage, and their second, their rental mortgage and second home, ouch! The reality is it takes many years to really accumulate money and wealth from rentals. It is a balancing act most people don’t understand.
First the high cost of the loan, depreciation, taxes, interest, insurance, utilities and then the dreaded turnover. If you don’t accumulate reserves early you will never be able to balance the cash in and out.
Rentals are meant for people that understand how money really works. It costs money to make money, or it takes careful budgeting and allowances to manage the property. It takes a specific type of personality to collect the rents each month, call tenants, check the property, understand needed and timely repairs. Besides the Arizona Landlord laws, a lot of legal issues can occur with a poorly managed rental.
For an average $200,000 property you need to understand what CASH FLOW really is…After paying the mortgage, insurance, taxes, and maybe utilities you better have money left over. Money in case the tenant splits and leaves the house a mess: $130.00 cleaning, couple new blinds, a little paint here and there,new refrigerator, landscaping, maybe carpet, seasonal maintenance, water and utilities. Wow, you could be out $3000.00 and now your paying the mortgage until ( say a month and a half) a new tenant comes along you trust! Out $4200.00.
-repairs and two payments. Fortunately, rents are stable and have gone up , but so has utilities, taxes, insurance. That may mean no extra money in your pocket. Don’t ever buy a property without cash flow, check all the continued costs, don’t assume the previous rents are now current rents. Make calls yourself, call
talk to a real estate accountant, understand the real costs. After owning a rental 10 years and stocks ten years you are more likely to have made MORE money in a stock fund than owning a piece of property- dollar for dollar rentals eat money. Make a big down payment, (or pay cash), make the tenants pay all costs, water, gas, electric, get a big security deposit (one and a half rents as allowed). Write a careful lease that requires some small repairs be done by the tenants. Screen your tenants carefully.
There are good reasons to own property- It’s a negative bond- pay down your mortgage- you earn money, it gives you leverage, it could be back up emergency funds(if you have equity),it makes inflation your friend, you profit from falling interest rates, it can build wealth, building equity builds financial security.
Building equity in property takes buying the property at the right time! Timing IS everything in this market!