Friday, March 28, 2014

Investing in Real Estate: Risks VS Rewards

With limited knowledge that the real estate market has tanked over the last several years, you might be hesitant to pull the trigger to make what should be an excellent investment today. With some fortitude and patience, today is likely the best opportunity you’ll have in your lifetime to make a hefty profit from a real estate investment.

Generally, your options are to either rent out your investment or flip it. This article focuses on flipping properties. Consider Your Risks Adjustable rate mortgages were a huge problem in the real estate melt down a few years ago. Still, today some investors are going back to adjustable mortgages as a less expensive source of finances for flipping properties. Adjustable rate mortgages are being advertised as low as 2.6%.

However, the national average for adjustable mortgages is hovering around 4.2% at this time. There are two general categories of adjustable mortgages. Each comes with its own risk and reward. Each adjustable mortgage is attached to a third party index that determines the current interest rate. Also, each adjustable mortgage has a margin above the index that must also be paid.

One general category is tied to an index that moves slowly, meaning your interest rate will go up or down slowly. However, the margin that you pay above the index will be higher. The other general category attaches the adjustable mortgage to an index that fluctuates much more often, commonly on a monthly basis. The reward is that the margin paid above the index is less. The risk is that your payment fluctuates much more.

Because your reward is reflected in the risk you take, be aware of some of the traps these adjustable rate mortgages come with:
·         Your payment could go up (a lot) even if interest rates don’t go up very much.
·         Your payment may not go down much even when interest rates go down.
·         There are several scenarios built into these loans where you end up owing more than you borrowed even when you make all of the payments on time.
·         Adjustable mortgages often have a built in penalty if you pay them off early – not good when you are flipping houses.

Consider a 15 Year Fixed I think you can be sure that the super low adjustable mortgage rate will have built in advantages for the lender. They will make their money one way or another. Your financing decision needs to be made based on how much you can afford to pay each month. Besides an adjustable mortgage, you want to consider a 30 year fixed mortgage and a 15 year fixed mortgage. The 30 year fixed mortgage will have lower payment because it is spread out over a longer time period.

However, 15 year fixed mortgages have a lower interest rate than both adjustable mortgage rates and 30 year mortgages. This makes the 15 year mortgage the most attractive if you can afford the higher monthly payment. Today’s 30 year mortgages are averaging around 4.85%. Your monthly payment will be around $528 (not including insurance and property tax). If you can complete the flip in six months, the total interest you’ll pay is $2,417.48. Today, the national average for 15 year fixed mortgages is about 3.98%. Going with this loan gives you a monthly payment of about $739 (not including insurance and property tax).

If you complete this flip in six months, the total interest you pay is $1,969.66. That’s a $ 447.82 savings over the 30 year mortgage. Flipping houses is a business and you should be looking to cut expenses anywhere you can. With average 15 year mortgages lower than the average adjustable mortgage and with a lower risk, the 15 year mortgage looks the most attractive today. However, read the fine print of any mortgage carefully so you understand the risk to reward equation. 

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

California Real Estate: Not So Distressed

Vastly improved home prices over the past five years have changed the landscape of California's distressed housing market, which is now just a fraction of what it was during the Great Recession, the California Association of Realtors said today.

In January 2009, 69.5 percent of all homes sold in California were distressed, which includes short sales and real estate-owned properties, REOs. Five years later, that figure has shrunk to 15.6 percent, CAR said in a statement.

REOs comprised 60 percent of all sales in January 2009, while short sales made up 9.1 percent of all sales but rose to as high as 25.6 percent in January 2012. Short sales currently make up 9.2 percent of all sales, according to CAR. During the same time period, California's median home price has soared more than 64 percent from $249,960 in January 2009 to $410,990 in January 2014.

"The dramatic drop in the share of distressed sales throughout the state reflects a market that is fully transitioning from the housing downturn," said CAR President Kevin Brown. "Significant home price appreciation over the past five years has lifted the market value of many underwater homes, and as a result, many homeowners have gained significant equity in their homes, resulting in fewer short sales and foreclosures." The statewide share of equity sales hit a high of 86.4 percent in November 2013 and has been above 80 percent for the past seven months.

In some of the hardest hit California counties, the distressed market in January 2009 was 93.6 percent in Stanislaus County, 93 percent in San Joaquin County, 89.5 percent in San Benito County, 86.1 percent in Kern County, 85.6 percent in Sacramento County, 84.2 percent in Fresno County, and 83.6 percent in Monterey County.

The distressed market now has shrunk to 24.8 percent in Stanislaus, 25.1 percent in San Joaquin, 17.5 percent in San Benito, 18.4 percent in Kern, 19.9 percent in Sacramento, 26.3 percent in Fresno, and 16.9 percent in Monterey counties, CAR said.