"My Take" article from ATTOM Data Solutions
For the last 25 years, I have been helping families and individuals identify goals, establish a plan and determine a clear vision of their financial future. While a financial plan is a future road map that is normally put into writing, it is also a guideline that is used to track results, and make adjustments when needed. Since this is an ongoing process, there are several areas which should be discussed.
When it comes to investments and cashflow, many financial planners will focus on the Equity, Bond or Alternative markets, but I feel it is important to also be aware of the power of investing in cash-flowing residential real estate in areas of the country which make sense.
An important part of many people’s financial plan is the home they live in. The choice between buying a home and renting is among the biggest financial decisions that many adults make. But the costs of buying are more varied and complicated than for renting, making it hard to tell which is a better deal.
Owning a home is potentially the largest investment most people will make during their lifetime. Many purchase homes with the hope that the value will appreciate, and they will be able to build a sizable amount of equity, sell one day and live off the proceeds after investing in a 1 percent Certificate of Deposit (CD).
Homeownership Tougher in High-Priced Markets
While homeownership is great for some, there are segments of the population which find that renting a home and investing instead in income-producing real estate is a better financial decision.
In many areas of the country, home prices are reaching unaffordable levels for many homebuyers, especially in California. According to an article in the Los Angeles Times, California’s median home price is now $537,315, reflecting a compounded annual growth rate of nearly 10 percent since 2012, according to real estate website Zillow. During the same time period, the median rent for a vacant apartments jumped an annual rate of nearly 5.5 percent to $2,428.
As a result of rapidly increasing housing costs in California, more people are leaving, according to a study conducted by Beacon Economics and Next 10, cited in the LA Times article. In 2016, 41,000 more households left the state than moved in, according to the study referenced in the article.
What this means is that people need a place to live no matter what the economy is doing. Unlike the commercial, retail and industrial real estate markets, the residential rental market (in many areas of the country) is less likely to drop as far down.
Money Out of Your Pocket
So is owning a home for your primary residence a good investment? To answer that question you need to understand that your personal property takes money out of your pocket each month. Every month you have to pay the mortgage, insurance and property taxes. Even if the house is paid off you are still spending money maintaining the house and paying your taxes and insurance. The house is still taking money out of your pocket, not producing income.
While your paid-off house might make your net worth look good, the equity is locked up in the home. If you actually need to access that money, you either need to refinance or sell the house, and then you are back to having mortgage debt or looking for a place to live.
A growing numbers of Americans — millennials, baby boomers and Gen-Xers in particular — are showing less and less interest in owning a home, according to new data from Freddie Mac.
The study released by Freddie Mac Multifamily, found that while economic confidence is growing among renters, affordability concerns remain the dominant driver of renter behavior. The study found that 63 percent of renters view renting as more affordable than owning a home. That includes 73 percent of baby boomers. And 67 percent of renters who plan to continue renting said they would do so for financial reasons. That’s up from 59 percent two years ago, according to Freddie Mac.
Additionally, recent trends indicate that segments such as the millennials and baby boomers are electing to rent where they want to live and invest in a single family residence to create cash flow in another, more affordable market. The following are five advantages to such an approach:
If you pay 10 percent to 30 percent as a down payment, a bank, lending institution or private party will provide the rest of your funding. That means you can own a $100,000 piece of property for just $10,000 to $30,000.
2. Cash flow
If purchased and managed properly, your property can offer long-term positive cash flow, and this ongoing stream of income you receive from an investment offers other benefits — see below.
If the value of your property has gone up, and you decide to sell, your profit is called appreciation. Cash flow and appreciation are two forms of revenue from rental properties. Remember, even though you aren’t buying in hopes of selling to earn a quick profit, you should always have an exit strategy in place.
4. Fewer highs and lows
A cash-flowing property is not subject to the daily ups and downs of the markets. It is typically a longer-term play — as opposed to paper assets or the Equity/Bond Markets, where you can have daily ups and downs of up to 10 percent.
5. Tax advantages
Tax credits are available for low-income housing, the rehabilitation of historical buildings, and certain other real estate investments. A tax credit is deducted directly from the tax you owe. You also get an annual deduction for depreciation, which is typically a percentage of the value of the property that you can write off as an expense against revenues. Finally, in some countries, the gains from the sale of real estate can be postponed indefinitely as long as the proceeds are reinvested in other real estate, known as a 1031 exchange.
Important factors to consider when choosing a real estate market for single family rental property investing include population and employment growth and home value appreciation. When buying single family rental properties located in a different city or state, investors also research purchase prices, taxes, and housing regulations.
Other investors also look at the percentage of the population that are renting. For instance, D.C., New York, and California have the most renters in terms of percentage of the population. Another important consideration is that you want to use the 1 percent rule, which means that the monthly rent generated is at least 1 percent of the sales price of the home. For example, if you have a house worth $250,000, you want to be able to generate around $2,500 per month in rent. This is going to eliminate a lot of areas of the country — in particular coastal California, New York and even some middle-America markets such as Denver, Colorado.