Quick sale investor promise?

Is a quick sale to a real estate investor worth it?

House flipping is a misunderstood industry.  Sure, these investors promise a quick sale, but legitimate home flipping is valuable to the real estate industry and the community.  Home flippers revitalize run-down homes, and market appealing homes to home buyers.  In a low inventory housing market, home flips have become a significant percentage of home sales in a low inventory market.

House flipping data

quick sale
House flipping is a significant portion of home sales (Home Stats infographic from nar.realtor)

ATTOM Data Solutions (attomdata.com), the data solutions behind Realtytrac, recently released its Home Flipping Report for Q1 2018.  The report indicated that there were 48,457 U.S. homes that were flipped, which represented 6.9 percent of all home sales.  Although the number of homes flipped decreased 3 percent from last year, the percentage of flipped homes in the home sale inventory increased!  The number of flipped homes decreased to a two-year low, but the home flipping rate is the highest since 2012.  The average gross profit of $69,500 is at the highest point since ATTOM started collecting the data in 2000.

Given the stats and profits, it was just a matter of time for the mom and pop home flipping business to become corporatized.  Using the power of the internet and corporate financing, companies such as Opendoor, Offerpad, and recently Zillow have become players in house flipping business.  Whether corporate flippers are profitable or have a sustainable business model is for another column.  But, there is no doubt that home sellers are seduced by one-click instant offers and promises of a quick closing.

How real estate  investors operate

House flippers are known to buy foreclosures and other financially distressed properties.  However, these real estate investors also go after other properties too, as long as it’s financially feasible (it’s a business after all).  Other types of targeted homes include estate sales, divorce sales, long-time rentals, and outdated or obsolete homes.  So, if you haven’t already received a letter offering you a quick offer and fast closing, it’s just a matter of time.

For some home sellers, a quick sale to an investor is fitting.  The seller is disposing of a home that would otherwise continue to be a financial burden and deteriorate further.  However, many realize they can sell for more on the open market (MLS).

Is a quick sale to an investor all it’s cracked up to be?

If you’re thinking of selling your home (or even currently selling), you might be fascinated by the idea of a quick sale.  But for most, the dream of selling for a large sum and closing quickly is just a fantasy.  You should realize that home flipping is risky business, and the investors build their costs into their offer.  So, be prepared for a really low offer.  A typical investor offer is about 70 percent of the home’s value minus rehab, carrying, and marketing costs.

Before you sell to an investor, do your due diligence.  Compare multiple investor offers.  Verify that the investor is legitimate.  Be wary of investors who include extended contingencies.  Be aware that “wholesalers” will tie up your home while looking to sell their purchase contract to other investors.  Although most investors promise “cash” deals, the reality is that most investors actually borrow money.  It is not uncommon for investors to back out or default on a deal because their financing doesn’t come through.  Most important, have your attorney review any contract before you sign.

Also, talk to a Realtor.  You could possibly sell your home for more than the investor’s “instant” offer.  Marketing your home on the MLS at a price appropriate for its condition could net you more.

Original is located at https://dankrell.com/blog/2018/10/11/quick-sale-promises/

Copyright© Dan Krell
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Disclaimer. This article is not intended to provide nor should it be relied upon for legal and financial advice. Readers should not rely solely on the information contained herein, as it does not purport to be comprehensive or render specific advice. Readers should consult with an attorney regarding local real estate laws and customs as they vary by state and jurisdiction. Using this article without permission is a violation of copyright laws.

Vacation homes declining

vacation homes
Vacation homes sales decline (infographic from nar.realtor)

According to the National Association of Realtors 2017 Investment and Vacation Home Buyers Survey (nar.realtor), last year’s vacation home purchases plunged 21.6 percent!  Last year’s decline in vacation homes sales comes at the heels of a huge drop in 2015, and has tumbled about 36 percent since the post-recession high marked in 2014.  Are the statistics telling us it’s a good time to buy that vacation home you have been thinking about?  Or is it that Americans are rethinking their view about vacations and retirement?

Of course, Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, feels that the decline is due a very tight vacation homes market that may likely make a comeback in the ensuing years. In an April 11th NAR press release he stated that “In several markets in the South and West – the two most popular destinations for vacation buyers – home prices have soared in recent years because substantial buyer demand from strong job growth continues to outstrip the supply of homes for sale. With fewer bargain-priced properties to choose from and a growing number of traditional buyers, finding a home for vacation purposes became more difficult and less affordable last year.”  He added, “The volatility seen in the financial markets in late 2015 through the early part of last year also put a dent in sales as some affluent households with money in stocks likely refrained from buying or delayed plans until after the [2016] election.”

However, another explanation given by the NAR is short term rentals, including airbnb.  Short term rentals allow people to visit vacation and resort towns without committing to buy a home.

To give perspective about the tight vacation homes market, NAR stated that vacation home sales were only 12 percent of all transactions in 2016, a decrease from 16 percent in 2015 (and close to the recent low of 11 percent in 2012).  Additionally, low vacation home inventory pushed sale prices higher.  The 2016 median vacation home price increased 4.2 percent, which is a decade high of vacation home price growth.

A lack of inventory and rising home prices are sure to put a damper on the vacation homes market.  But the slump could be a manifestation of something else.

Bloggers and columnists have reported a shift in the younger generation’s home buying habits for about a decade.  The trend seems to be a rejection of the accepted industry standard home buying cycle set by older generations.  For decades, the Baby-Boom generation has set the bar for home sales.  Their views on home ownership and vacation homes have guided the experts.  However, millennials have a different perspective, having a more conservative take on home buying and exhibiting a strong sense of value.

The NAR’s 2017 Investment and Vacation Home Buyers Survey pointed out that that the top two reasons to purchase a vacation home are for a family retreat and for retirement.  However, just like the trend in home buying, millennials are redefining their retirement and vacation needs.

Expecting to work longer, Millennials’ idea of retirement is not perceived the same as the Baby-Boomer’s vision of retirement.  Staying relevant and engaged is now more important than leisure.

Having a regular spot for the family to congregate and vacation is no longer highly desired.  Millennials want the option to travel rather than visiting the same vacation spot every year.  Millennials are also savers. They may view vacation homes as exorbitant and expensive.  Even though the vacation is only a small portion of the year, there are regular expenses that may include a mortgage, property taxes, HOA fees, and maintenance.

Original published at https://dankrell.com/blog/2017/07/23/vacation-homes-declining/

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Disclaimer. This article is not intended to provide nor should it be relied upon for legal and financial advice. Readers should not rely solely on the information contained herein, as it does not purport to be comprehensive or render specific advice. Readers should consult with an attorney regarding local real estate laws and customs as they vary by state and jurisdiction. Using this article without permission is a violation of copyright laws.

Vacation home buying

Buying a vacation home

Vacation Home
Vacation Homes (infographic from realtor.org)

A trip to the beach or mountains may have you wondering about owning your own vacation home.  And as it happened you’re not alone!  An April 1st 2015 National Association of Realtors® press release estimated that vacation home sales bounced back to peak levels in 2014.  There was a massive 57.4% increase over 2013 sales!  In contrast, during the same period there was an estimated 7.4% decrease in investment home sales. And an estimated 12.8% decrease in owner occupied home sales (realtor.org).

Although your motivations may be personal, the NAR’s 2015 Investment and Vacation Home Buyers Survey revealed that there are various reasons to buy a vacation home.  Not a surprise, a majority of those surveyed (33% of respondents) indicated the primary reason they bought was to use for vacations or family retreats.  However, 19% of respondents indicated their purchase was for a future retirement home, while 11% or respondents bought for the home to be used as a rental property.

Do the research

You’ll find vacation homes in different styles, sizes and prices.  However, your favorite destination may dictate the price range and style.  You may realize that although you are able to afford the week’s rental at your favorite retreat, you can’t afford to buy a vacation home there.  However, if you broaden the search area, you may find suitable and lower priced vacation home nearby.

Benefits

You may have heard others talk about the benefits of their vacation home, such as being able to visit any time they desire without having to worry about reservations, or restrictive check-in and check-out times.  They usually don’t have to worry about having too many guests either, as they can invite whomever they wish to keep them company.  And they don’t have to worry about special accommodations – it’s their home after all!

Disadvantages

There are benefits of owning your own vacation to be sure.  However, it’s probable that you may not hear vacation home owners talk about the downside.  Jeff Brown, writing for US News and World Report, stated: “A second home can produce a wonderful family tradition or turn into a stress-inducing money pit.” (The Pros and Cons of Investing in a Vacation Home; usnews.com; February 10, 2016).  Brown quoted Alison Bernstein, founder of Suburban Jungle, saying: “It is less expensive to stay in hotels in various destinations than it is to upkeep a home, including the hidden expenses of caretaking, overall operations of a home and property taxes…However, for those that are able to enjoy it, it is definitely worth it.”

Brown points out the increasing costs of ownership.  Property taxes, insurance, and possibly a condo or HOA fee can increase.  Additionally, the vacation home requires regular maintenance just like your primary residence.  Repairs may compel you to make extra trips to work on the home rather than being a relaxing holiday.

Brown cautions that a vacation home may not be the best vehicle for investment because of the volatility of resort property.  Additionally, if you need the money, it’s more difficult to tap the equity in a second home.  Applying the tax advantages can be tricky too, so consulting with a tax professional before buying a vacation home would be wise.  Self-managing the property can become aggravating, as it can be difficult to find tenants during the off season; however, hiring a management company can be pricey.

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Regardless of investment value – homeowners do better than renters

million dollar homes

Many years ago, buying your first home used to be a rite of passage that usually coincided with starting a family. Your first home was not just a place to live; but was considered an investment that was expected to grow and provide a “nest egg” for your later years.

Several generations later, a lot has changed. We view investments differently, and have become amateur number crunchers trying to get the most of our money. But what was once considered a sound long term investment has now been deemed as poor judgment.

Of course to real estate investors, housing is a commodity; they take risks to reap rewards. Short term real estate investors (“flippers”) are often viewed as opportunists, buying homes at a discount and selling at retail value. The flipper’s goal is to have a quick turnaround between the time of acquisition and resale (flip), avoiding as much carrying cost as possible. The risk for the flipper is very high, especially in fickle markets; but the payoff can be very rewarding. It is not unusual for a flipper to lose money on a project because of delays, unexpected costs, and/or poor timing.

Long term real estate investors acquire homes to be used as rental properties, banking on the properties’ appreciation when it comes time to sell. Although the financial reward for this investor is long term, the risk is considered to be leveraged over time as well. However, unexpected costs and loss of rent can make such an investor rethink their plan and cut their losses.

For the rest of us, however; housing may not be such a great investment after all, according to many financial pundits. One such pundit, Morgan Housel (of Motley Fool fame), wrote about his meeting with Robert Shiller (of Case-Shiller fame) to give some telling insight about home values (Why your home is not a good investment; usatoday.com; May 10, 2014). Shiller told Housel that the housing market is “a provider of housing services” and “not a good provider of capital gains.”

According to Shiller, home prices from 1890 to 1990 (adjusted for real inflation) are “virtually unchanged.” Housel further added that home prices between 1890 and 2012, adjusted for real inflation, “went nowhere;” and decreased 10% from 1890 to 1980, when adjusted for real inflation. Shiller even suggested that “real” home prices could decrease over the next 30 years, due to a number of factors including obsolescence and advances in construction techniques.

With all the stats and figures, are those who touted the investment value of long term home ownership – wrong? Not necessarily. The consensus is that home ownership offers stability as well as many other benefits including: a place to live, a place to raise a family, and belonging to a community. These intangibles may be responsible for the research conclusions by Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies, that indicated there is an association between home ownership and growing wealth; where home owners fared better than renters (Herbert, McCue, and Sanchez-Moyano; Is Homeownership Still an Effective Means of Building Wealth for Low-income and Minority Households? Was it Ever? Joint Center for Housing Studies Harvard University, September 2013).

Is buying a home a bad investment? Housel pointed out that even Robert Shiller owns a home, and (at the time of the interview) indicated he would buy a home if he were in the market.

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The shared economy under pressure – localities put the squeeze on Airbnb

real estateAre you interested in cashing in on the “Airbnb” trend? Make sure you are in compliance with local zoning code and other legal requirements.

What started out as a web platform in 2008 to help people advertise their short term rentals during tough economic times, has become what seems to be a glamorous business. Besides becoming a phenomenon of the shared economy, Airbnb has also become vernacular – where the use of “Airbnb” refers to anyone offering a short term rental.

Rooted in the sharing of underutilized resources, the shared economy has become big business. People are creating incomes from sharing their homes, sharing their cars, and even sharing talents and skills one project at a time.

It may have been subtle in its growth, but the shared economy has become substantial. And considering that wage growth has been a letdown since the great recession, and the labor force participation rate is the lowest it has been since 1977 (bls.gov); it’s no accident that the popularity of Airbnb and other components of the shared economy (also known as “peer to peer” economy and is often mentioned in combination with “gig economy” or “online economy”) have become part of our daily lives. As the economy struggled the sharing economy grew; and entrepreneurs have grasped at the opportunity to create the likes of Uber, Fiverr, and Airbnb that established specific internet platforms that bring consumers and sellers together.

And as some blame the shared economy for taking away from traditional businesses, the Airbnb phenomenon has been criticized for adding drag to a struggling housing market (consider that the fourth quarter 2014 home ownership rate is the lowest since 1995) by keeping would be home owners renting. But the reality is that the shared economy has always existed; and expands during times of economic uncertainty (you can look at the growth of boarding homes in the 1930’s during the Great Depression). The growth of shared housing is not necessarily the choice that most would consider a preferred lifestyle, as much as it is a personal response to current economic conditions and opportunities.

And while the popularity of temporary shared housing has become a glamorous trend for some, many are trying to cash in. In addition to renting out empty rooms in their homes, some are even buying homes to be used as short term housing. Today’s boarding home is an alternate option for business-persons and tourists visiting cities where hotel rooms are expensive or in short supply.

Although operating an Airbnb would not necessarily attract protest the likes that Uber has seen, it does have the attention of local governments. Although San Francisco and New York were the first to regulate Airbnb’s, Santa Monica CA has recently implemented some of the toughest regulations on short term rentals. Andrew Bender reported (New Regulations To Wipe Out 80% Of Airbnb Rentals In California’s Santa Monica; forbes.com; June 15, 2015) that the new regulations could wipe out 80% of Santa Monica’s operating Airbnb’s by requiring the owner to: stay in property with renter; obtain a business license; and collect an occupancy tax.

Locally, Montgomery County is also trying to grasp the idea of the Airbnb. Changes to the zoning laws earlier this year prohibit such activity in a home, and yet recently enacted legislation regarding room rental and transient tax provides for taxation of short term rentals in homes.

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