Common Risks Involved in Real Estate Investments

While a good many millionaires will agree that their fortunes were made in real estate, the honest ones will also tell you that they’ve probably lost a few fortunes in real estate along the way. This is a risky business and every property purchased doesn’t always pan out to become a successful investment. There are many risks involved in real estate investing and you would be going to battle unprepared if you didn’t take a moment to carefully study these risks and work to avoid them when planning your property investment strategy.

Unfortunately, there are very few one size fits all risks for real estate investing, as each type of investing is inherently different. This means that each type of real estate investment will involve a new set of risks. Below you will find a brief overview of different styles of investing and the common risks that are involved in each.

Rental Properties

This type of investing offers some risks that are unique and some that are also risks when investing in properties that are lease-to-own or rent-to-own as well. First and foremost is the risk of failing to make a profit. If the property in question cannot achieve an adequate monthly income to cover the expenses of operating the property then it is not a solid investment.

Other risks include the risk of getting bad tenants. This is particularly hard on first time investors. Bad tenants are costly and in some cases destructive (which leads to even greater expense). Vacancies are another risk for rental properties. These properties are only costing money as they sit empty rather than earning money as they were intended. Short turnovers are in your best interest as are long-term tenants.

“Flipped” Properties

This is one of the most enjoyable types of property investments for many ‘hands on’ investors. This allows the investor to roll up his or her sleeves and take an active role in creating the masterpiece that will eventually bring in serious revenue (at least that is the hope). This is also one of the riskier investments, particularly when trying to turn a profit in what is known as a buyer’s market.

The risks are simple but often overlooked and they can have a significant impact on the overall success or failure of the project. First of all, the biggest risk is in paying too much for the property. Other risks include underestimating the costs of repairs, over estimating the ability of the investor to do the work him or herself, taking too much time, experiencing a down turn in the housing market, making the wrong judgment call for the neighborhood, becoming overly ambitious, and getting greedy. Sometimes it is much better to walk away with a lesser profit than to end up loosing money by holding out.

Personal Residence

Keep in mind that your personal home is essentially an investment. The intention is that your home will gain in value over time and that equity in your home will build as you age. There are risks involved in this transaction as well. Buying a home that is in a ‘borderline’ area or one that is not showing obvious signs of growth is one of the biggest risks. This puts your home in the position to lose rather than gain value. This can make your home a burden rather than the investment it was intended to be. Other risks involve is becoming involved in a loan situation that is not at all beneficial (such as an adjustable rate mortgage or an unreasonable balloon payment).

Perhaps the biggest risk of all when purchasing a personal residence as an investment is failing to get a proper inspection that could rule out potentially costly and even dangerous problems within the home your purchase for you and your family. Toxic mold is one problem that comes easily to mind that most proper home inspections would almost immediately rule out. Others include structural problems that are costly to repair and dangerous to leave in disrepair. Each of these risks should be considered before an offer is made on any property.

Seek Recommendations When Re-Financing

Homeowners who are re-financing their home for the first time may need a great deal of advice to assist them during the process. While homeowner can certainly research the process of re-financing by themselves, this can be a cumbersome task which is difficult, if not impossible. While it might be possible for a homeowner to educate himself enough to make informed decisions, it is unreasonable to expect a homeowner to be up to date on the most current information in the re-financing industry. It would also not be reasonable for homeowners to learn enough to make a definite decision regarding re-financing. The homeowner may still require some direction regarding which options are best suited for the needs of the homeowner.

Fortunately there are two simple steps homeowners can take to tips the odds of obtaining the most favorable re-financing in their favor. These simple steps include consulting with friends and family members who have recently financed and turning to industry experts for assistance.

Consult Friends and Family when Re-Financing

Believe it or not consulting with family and friends is one of the first steps a homeowner should take in the refinancing process. Those reading this article might be somewhat confused by this suggestion because in the previous section we stressed how it would be virtually impossible for a homeowner to thoroughly educate themselves on the re-financing process. Surely, we are not implying every homeowner has a friend or family member who is capable of given detailed financial advice in regard to re-financing. However, friends and family members can be helpful in a different capacity.

Friends and family members who recently re-financed their own home likely did a great deal of research and legwork before making their decision. They also likely formed useful opinions, either negative or positive, about the lender they used in the process. It is this information which can be very useful to homeowners who are considering their own re-financing. Homeowners can obtain information such as which lenders are currently offering the best rates as well as which lenders are easy to work with and responsive to the needs of the homeowners as well as which lenders do not take a vested interest in helping the homeowner to succeed.

Ask Experts for Advice when Re-Financing

One piece of advice which cannot be overlooked when re-financing a home, is asking an expert in the re-financing industry for advice. These experts may have costly consulting fees associated with their assistance but most homeowners would agree these fees are certainly worthwhile especially if the result in a significant cost savings for the homeowner.

We previously stressed how the issues associated with re-financing can be quite complex and difficult for those outside of the industry to fully understand, however, those in the industry spend their days devoted to learning more about re-financing, keeping up to date with changes in the industry as well as new developments and figuring out how to best serve the customers. All of these characteristics make it clear that homeowners should really consider employing the services of a financial planner with a great deal of experience in re-financing when they are making decisions regarding the best re-financing option for their situation.

Again, friends and family members who previously consulted with an industry professional can supply candid opinions about those they met. This can save the homeowner a great deal of time by eliminating potential candidates who friends and family members thought performed poorly.

Financing with an Interest Only Mortgage

Interest only mortgages are a relatively new phenomenon in the re-financing industry as well as the home buying industry. While the appeal of an interest only mortgage is typically a greater monthly cash flow, this increased cash flow can come with a hefty price tag. In exchange for more cash flow each month, the homeowner may be sacrificing the ability to obtain a fixed rate mortgage as well as the ability to build equity. This article will further examine these features to provide the reader with more information on the subject of interest only mortgages.

Greater Monthly Cash Flow

The one main advantage for many homeowners in an interest only mortgage is the ability to increase monthly cash flow. Homeowners who re-finance by utilizing an interest only mortgage will likely have more money available each month because they will only be paying interest on their mortgage initially. The reduction of the principal payment can make it easier for the homeowner to either afford a larger house or have the ability to live more extravagantly on their budget. However, there is often a significant price to pay for these types of re-financing options.

While interest only loans may not be ideal, they can be beneficial in the situation where the homeowner is having a great deal fulfilling his monthly obligations. In this case, the homeowner may be willing to sacrifice an overall financial loss for the ability to continue to pay monthly bills in a timely fashion.

Unknown Risks of an ARM

Interest only re-finance loans are typically offered with an adjustable rate mortgage (ARM) this means the interest rate is not fixed and may fluctuate with the rise and fall of the prime index. This risk can be quite costly for the homeowner if the interest rate rises significantly. There is usually a cap placed on the amount, in terms of percentage, the interest rate can rise in a certain period but this can still be a very costly mistake for the homeowners.

An ARM re-finance option with an interest only component may be worthwhile in some situations. For example if the homeowner has a hybrid mortgage which features a fixed interest rate during the interest only portion and an ARM during the principal and interest portion of the loan they might benefit from this situation if they do not plan to stay in the home for longer than the interest only period. This period may vary depending on the lender and the circumstances. Homeowners who plan to sell the house before the interest only period ends and the ARM period begins enjoy the benefits of lower monthly payments and the security of fixed interest rates before they ever have to worry about repaying the principal or dealing with the varying interest rates.

No Equity in the Home

Another disadvantage to the interest only re-finance loans is they do not allow the homeowner to build equity in the home during the initial period where only the interest on the loan is repaid. This can be a problem for homeowners who are looking to profit through the sale of their home. These homeowners may find the participation in an interest only re-finance has had a damaging effect on the profit they are able to generate from the resale of their home.

Lease to Own Real Estate

Credit problems plague people across the globe. These problems can lead to many other problems not limited to difficulty purchasing vehicles, getting jobs, opening checking accounts, and purchasing or renting a home. For those who are experiencing credit problems hope seems like a long lost commodity when it comes to the very American dream of owning a home of one’s own.

The good news is that there are some savvy investors around that are willing to take the risk on those who have had credit problems but are attempting to get their lives back in order. The bad news is that this good will often comes at a rather high price to the consumers. Getting into trouble with credit takes a while from which to recover. For many the process is long and filled with pitfalls and missteps along the way. For those that are living the nightmare of poor credit there are times in which the situation must seem hopeless.

For this reason investors that offer lease to own real estate to those with less than spectacular credit are often viewed as saviors on the one hand and villains on the other. However, they are taking a risk that others are unwilling to take on a person that has proven not to be the best credit risk in the business. In other words, many would find that they are justified by charging a higher price or interest rate than traditional lending institutions will charge. After all, it is their money that is on the line if the lessee decides to default on the contract. It is also their money that will be required to make any repairs that will be needed if eviction becomes a necessary conclusion.

For investors who are interested in ‘buy and hold’ investing this is one way of making that system work in their favor. Many times the ‘buyers’ will find another property after a couple of years and will have essentially rented the property for a specified amount of time. At other times they will seek alternative financing once they have been able to straighten out their credit situations. Either way there are many occasions when the property is returned to the investor and has turned a relatively decent profit while holding those who took some degree of ‘pride of ownership’ in the property during that time rather than ordinary renters who often have little or no regard for the condition of the landlord’s property.

There is more than one way that a lease to own deal can work. The most common however, is that there is a specified amount of time typically 2-5 years in which those that are leasing the property can live in the property with a portion of the monthly lease being applied towards a down payment for the property once they are able to get traditional financing. If a twenty percent down payment is achieved during that time the odds of them being approved for a loan are greatly improved. If they (being the lessees) combine this opportunity with serious efforts to improve their credit scores then there should be no problem achieving this.

As a real estate investor this situation is so much more attractive than renters for many reasons. First of all, the maintenance in these cases becomes the problem of the lessees rather than your problem, you have ‘renters’ that are hoping to have ownership of the property in time, and you can charge a little more each month for rent in order to cover the money being applied to the down payment on the property.

Are You Committed to Your Real Estate Investment?

There are many questions that should be asked before embarking upon a career of real estate investment. The first and foremost question however should be whether or not you are truly committed to making real estate work for you. This is not a business for the faint of heart. In order to truly turn a profit you must be at times ruthless when dealing with buyers and sellers but ethical to a fault when it comes to the work that must often be done in order to get a property in sellable condition.

The reason a serious commitment is needed in order to make real estate work for you is simple. There will be ups and downs along the way. The stock market experiences rises and falls on a regular basis. Just as you cannot dump all of your stock over one bad day the same holds true even more so in the realm of real estate investing. Property values in general rise gradually over time. This means that even if the values in a community falter chances are that they will eventually recover.

Those who bank on the slow and steady growth in the value are referred to as buy and hold investors. These investors are truly committed to their investment. Some of them elect to hold the property as a vacation property while others opt to earn an income on the property by renting it out to other families or vacationers, whatever their choice may be.

This is a great way for many people to enjoy the luxury of a vacation property without absorbing all of the expenses involved in owning a vacation property as the rentals will help compensate some of the costs when the owners (investors) are not in residence. This is a fairly common practice in high demand tourist areas in which people often enjoy vacationing. These types of investors are what some people refer to as serious real estate investors though all real estate investors need to take their purchases seriously.

Those who own rental properties must also be committed to making their investments work for them. Rental properties are not a ‘hands off’ type of investment, as they will need to be maintained in order to remain in demand by tenants. You must also make constant efforts to keep these properties managed and filled along with remaining certain that you are collecting your rent each month and that the properties aren’t falling into a state of disrepair or abuse by tenants.

Many investors retain the services of property management agencies in order to handle the minutia of month-to-month details and collections. This is a great idea whether you have one lone rental property or a vast portfolio of rental properties. Even better however, is the fact that if you keep your rental properties in reasonable repair throughout the years they can become liquid assets in time. In other words, they may actually pay for themselves a few times over if you invest for the long-term rather than focusing on the moment.

No matter what type of real estate investment you intend to have it is important that you are prepared to make the commitment to profit or profitability that is necessary in order for your venture to be deemed a success.

Tips For Buying Your First Home

For a first time home buyer, the process can get quite overwhelming, giving you the feeling that the financial decisions are rapidly spinning out of control. When it comes to real estate, most people don’t have a lot of experience or know a lot about it. In all actuality, buying a home is actually a simple process. All you need to do is understand the basics, which will go a long way in helping you buy your very first home.

The first thing you should know is to avoid pre payment penalties at all costs. What this means, is that if you buy the home then later want to sell it before the balance of your mortgage is due, you’ll have to pay a penalty. You can find a variety of great loans that don’t include these types of penalties. If you find a loan that does include pre payment penalties, you should immediately turn it down and look for another loan.

You should also be on the lookout for good ARM’s. If you have a good ARM, then your interest rate and monthly payment will adjust at the exact same time. This will make sure that your interest doesn’t affect your monthly payment. If your interest rate does affect your payment, then you will notice the unpaid interest reflecting the overall amount of your loan balance.

You’ll also want to get pre approved for your house as well. This lets the seller know that you are serious about buying, and will normally work in your favor to give an edge – which is especially handy if there are several others interested in purchasing the home. Getting pre approved will also save you a lot of time as well. If you can’t get approved for a loan, you shouldn’t waste your time inspecting it, trying to get a good interest rate, or negotiating with the seller for your ideal price.

Before you purchase a home, you should always be aware of how much you can afford. Before you attempt to purchase a home, you should always go over your budget and figure out how much money you can spend on a mortgage payment. If you manage your money smart and know your finances, this shouldn’t take you hardly any time at all. On the other hand, if you don’t know your finances, this will take you a long time indeed.

If you’ve already purchase your first home, you should always avoid taking any type of home equity loan. These loans can be very tempting when you get in an emergency and need cash, although most home equity loans add up to more than the value of your home. You should never, under any circumstances take a home equity loan, as there are many other ways that you can clear up your personal problems without having to jeopardize your home.

Keep in mind that the above are just a few basic tips and that there are many other things you’ll need to know before you buy your very first house. You’ll need to be familiar with private mortgage insurance, special loan programs, fixed rate and adjustable rate mortgage, and several other things. Buying a home is an easy process, once you know a bit about it. If you familiarize yourself with buying a home and learn all that you can about what is involved, you’ll find the home buying process to be easier than you ever thought possible.

Common Risks Faced by Property “Flippers”

The first thing that should be noted is that flipping houses is a great way to bring home a rather large profit in a relatively short amount of time when doing so in a seller’s market so to speak. The problem is that we currently seem to be experiencing what is known as a buyer’s market from one end of the United States to another. Foreclosures are at an all time high, which means that the market has suddenly been saturated with properties for sale.

While this is excellent news (believe it or not) when it comes to getting your hands on a property at a lower price, it also makes a difficult time of convincing buyers to pay top dollar when there are better bargains down the road. This of course is one of the primary risks involved in the real estate investment venture that is known as flipping properties. The massive profits that most investors seek cannot be accomplished if the property cannot be purchased, rehabbed, and sold quickly.

Unfortunately, at the moment, very few properties in any city are selling too terribly quickly. The worst case scenario in a situation like this is that you are forced to either absorb the loss (which can in extreme cases result in serious financial hardship or bankruptcy) or rent the property out (which will in most cases negate all the efforts that were made to rehab the property. An inability to sell the property that is being flipped is probably the worst fear of every property investor who engages in this sort of investment. In these cases it is often better to drop the price and take a loss than hold out for a better price risking further losses in the future.

These are not the only risks associated with flipping properties unfortunately. Another risk would be the risk of seriously underestimating the amount of money that will be required in order to do the necessary work. This is something that many first time investors find is a fairly common occurrence. Most people have unrealistic expectations of exactly how far their dollars will go when it comes to investing in the materials and labor needed to properly rehab a property. Even minor cosmetic repairs throughout a house can easily run into several thousands of dollars in order to repair. The flip side is that once these repairs are made the potential profits run into several tens of thousands of dollars.

Another risk that isn’t often considered is the risk of overestimating abilities. This is one risk that costs not only precious time but valuable money as well. Not only is material wasted in the process of discovering you aren’t exactly skilled in any particular tasks but also there are further expenses (often unplanned) involved in hiring the professional to repair the damage and replace the material that was wasted. When in doubt, it is almost always best to hire a professional if at all possible. This also leads to missing deadlines, going seriously off schedule, and adding yet another mortgage payment (if not more than one) to the overall price of the project.

The final risk is often something that simply cannot be seen or anticipated. This was experienced in the days immediately following 9-11 and should not be forgotten. The unforeseen happens every day. Markets crash; local economies can be devastated by the announcement of a major employer that it is going out of business (thinks of the collapse of companies such as Enron and World Comm and what they did to local economies). In these instances, the market will take quite a while to recover from the shock to its system and ‘flippers’ among other investors are often left feeling just as lost and devastated as those that were victimized by these companies-both through no fault of their own.

Stuff happens and those things that we have absolutely no control over are almost always the things that affect us most profoundly. The same holds true when it comes to property investment. The state of the economy, the housing market in an area, and sudden announcements that affect either can often have the most profound impact on those who are investing in property in those areas whether for better or for worse. The trick is in deciding which risks are acceptable.

Has Television Changed the Face of Real Estate Investing?

If you take a look through the television stations on almost any given day there is a television show somewhere that features home improvement, real estate investing, or some sort of combination of the two. From shows that teach people how to sell homes that have lack luster reviews to shows that teach viewers that it is possible to purchase, repair, and re-sell a home in a matter of weeks for astronomical profits, there are shows that appeal to the entrepreneurial wannabes in audiences around the globe.

These shows have made and lost fortunes a few times over by convincing viewers that they too can do the wondrous things seen on television. The truth is that many viewers are capable of doing these things but television never really shows how hard the work actually may be. The television cameras do not always show the blood, sweat, and tears that go into making these projects successful and rarely mention the countless complete and total failures that occur along the way.

The cameras are also not to keen for showing up at 4 am and rolling well after midnight when the work for the day is finished. It doesn’t catch the heart attacks and nightmares as credit cards are going dangerously close to being completely maxxed out while dreams of quick riches fade right in front of investor’s eyes.

This does not mean that every project is doomed to failure only that things are not always as rosey as they may appear to be on the television shows. Flipping houses may seem to be a bit glamorous and a lot hands on. The problem with that is that too few people really realize how much work goes into the hands on part of the program. This is not easy money no matter how much the television cameras would like to convince you otherwise.

It is very possible to turn a substantial profit in a relatively short amount of time if you keep your cool, use your head, and buy and sell in the right conditions. The problem is that so many people do not consider the big picture and find themselves in over their heads and out of money before the project is anywhere near completion.

One thing that television has definitely done for this line of work is make competition for the flappable houses a little fiercer. The early bird in this business gets the worm and while the cheapest house isn’t always the best candidate the less competition you have driving the prices up, the better in this situation. The goal is to buy low and sell high. Most people do not have a terrible amount of competition, as of yet, on the selling high portion of the program. The real trouble at this point in time lies in the buying low portion as there are many more would be real estate investors that are interested in buying the inexpensive properties than there are that will actually see the projects through from beginning to end.

So yes, television has greatly changed the way people invest in real estate. Whether this is truly good or bad for the overall real estate market remains to be seen. In light of the recent down turns in real estate it is to be expected that some of the popularity may diminish. The sad thing is that this is still one of, if not the best ways to make a large sum of money fairly quickly that is legal in the world today. Fortunes can be made and lost in real estate; the trick is always in placing your bets on the right property at the right time. For those who are willing to take the risks associated with this type of investment in today’s market and those that are willing to wait for a slight upturn in the market the profit potential is phenomenal.

Things to Avoid When Flipping Real Estate

Flipping property is rising in popularity as a form of real estate investing. The truth of the matter is that this is one of the more entertaining methods for many investors that are simply ‘itching’ to get their hands a little dirty. The sweat equity involved in these transactions, while attractive, can also be daunting when skills are inadequate and out and out dangerous in some situations.

If you are one of the many around the world who consider the appeal of flipping property with huge dollar signs in your eyes, you should take care to avoid the following things in order to minimize your risks while maximizing your potential for success.

1) Do not fail to have a qualified inspection of the property before any money changes hands. If you do not have any idea of the types of work that needs to be done then you cannot possibly make an educated estimate of the costs involved in rehabbing the property.
2) Do not underestimate the budget for repairs on the flip. This is one of the most common mistakes that even seasoned professionals make and it can mean the difference between a profit and a loss on the property if you aren’t careful and do not stick to the planned budget.
3) Do not overestimate your abilities. This is another common mistake. The fact that you’ve seen something done on television doesn’t mean that it is something you can do on your own. It costs more money and time to have someone come in and repair your mistakes than to have had a professional do the work from the beginning. This doesn’t mean that you can’t learn how to do some of the work or that doing so would be cost effective. The trick lies in determining where your skills and abilities can really take you rather than where you hope they will take you. Plumbing, electrical, and structural work are generally best left to the professionals unless you have specific experience or training in these fields.
4) Do not fail to hold yourself accountable to your timetable and your budget. Real estate investing puts you in the bosses seat and while that is often simple when it comes to driving others, we often have a bit of difficulty when it comes to holding ourselves accountable for time and money along the way. Unfortunately, failing to do so can be a very costly blunder.
5) Do not forget to keep up with receipts, bills, etc. and reconcile the facts and figures daily. It is far too simple to allow a couple of trips to the local home improvement center escape careful scrutiny. Add a couple of these trips per day and you could easily find thousands of dollars missing from your budget with no paper trail to explain the transactions. You could also find that some tools will not work or be needed for the project. Those items cannot typically be returned without the original receipts.
6) Avoid having too many chiefs on the project. If this is your ball game then you need to run with it rather than having 10 people giving contradictory orders. Schedule meetings regularly to discuss progress and any adjustments or changes that may need to be made.
7) Avoid poor planning. This is one step that is the difference for many would be house flippers between success and failure. Plan out every step of the project in an order that makes sense. You do not want to paint the ceilings or walls after you’ve installed new floors. Nor do you want to rip out walls in order to replace plumbing after you’ve painted them. Plan things out in the proper order and allow a day or two between subsequent projects in case extra time is needed. The last thing you want to do is pay a group of contractors to stand around waiting for the paint to dry so they can begin the next step in the process.

Buying Real Estate for Your Family

The very best and most enjoyable reason to purchase real estate by far is in buying a property in which your family will live and grow together. There is a lot of fun involved in finding the perfect place for you and your family to call home. There is also a great deal of stress involved as well and that should not be overlooked.

Some things to keep in mind when searching for the perfect property for your family are the following:

1) Make your first step the step of finding a realtor or buyer’s agent that you are confident has your needs, desires, and best interests at heart. Your realtor can prove to be a lifesaver when you’ve reached the final hours before closing and the sky looks as though it’s going to fall. Far more than that though, your realtor can help you find the home that you simply cannot see your family living without.
2) Once you’ve found a real estate that you trust to help you find a home for your family it is time to identify the things that are absolute necessities in your search and those things you can live without. The most important thing to decide upon is a budget that you are comfortable living with.
3) Once you’ve established a budget you need to decide the features that are important to meet the needs of your family. The number of bedrooms, bathrooms, square footage, and yard space. Do you need a fenced in yard or a basement? These things are important as they do affect the comfort and in some cases safety of your family.
4) Another important thing that must be considered when purchasing a home for your family is the neighborhood. This is more important than many people may realize. It is well worth having a smaller home in a neighborhood that is poised for growth rather than a larger home in a neighborhood that is in the state of decline or on the verge of the state of decline. Crime rates in the neighborhood and the school district are other things that need to be considered as well before deciding to view a potential home.
5) You should also take the time to look at several properties before deciding on one property over another. The more properties you see, the better the chances are that you will actually find the one perfect property for the needs of your family home. The more homes you see the more you will learn about your likes and dislikes. You will also get ideas about possibilities and things that can be added on to the home you eventually select. Regardless, the more homes you see, the more choices you have when the time comes to make a decision.
6) Never offer the asking price right away. Even if you are willing to pay the full asking price, offer something a little lower and allow some negotiating room. Be sure, if you truly want the house in question not to be insulting with your offer but make the offer just the same. Some things you may want to consider when you make your offer is how quickly you are likely to need a new roof, new flooring, new heating or air conditioning, and countless other improvements that may need to be made on the property. Each of these things costs money and they add up over time. If everything is fairly recent and in good working order you may want to consider that when making your offer as well.