Rental homes can be a natural alternative investment choice for homeowners because they are already familiar with houses. Maintenance on a rental is not that much different than on your personal home. The same plumbers, painters and other workmen can be used to make repairs.
Single family homes offer an investor high loan-to-value mortgages at fixed interest rates for long terms on appreciating assets with defined tax advantages and more control than other investments.
- High loan-to-value mortgages – most investments require that you pay cash but rental properties can be purchased with 20% down payment.
- Fixed interest rates – most commercial loans are based on a floating rate such as prime interest plus one or two percent compared to real estate loans as fixed rates for the term.
- Long terms – commercial loans are generally short-term such as six months or a year with the possibility of being renewed for another six months or a year unlike real estate where a 30-year mortgage is commonplace.
- Appreciating assets – real estate has a long-term history of going up in value.
- Defined tax advantages – many investments are taxed as ordinary income but rental real estate enjoys a non-cash deduction called cost recovery, the profits from sale are taxed at lower long-term capital gains rates or may be eligible for a tax-deferred exchange.
- Control – rental homes don’t require partners and afford the investor more options than investing in mutual funds and other traditional investments.
The demand for good rentals is strong and the rents continue to go up in most markets. There are people who choose not to buy or cannot buy a home who would prefer to live in a single family home rather than an apartment.
It is estimated that seven million out of 50 million homeowners could save money by refinancing their existing mortgages. Obviously, if the replacement mortgage has a lower rate than your existing one, you will save money.
If you bought a home before 2011 and are paying mortgage insurance, you should investigate refinancing to eliminate that requirement. Even if you don’t get a lower interest rate, the savings could amount to hundreds of dollars a month.
If a home you purchased since 2011 has appreciated enough, it could easily justify refinancing to eliminate the required mortgage insurance. Most loans don’t require mortgage insurance if the loan-to-value is 80% or less. There are some programs for 90% mortgages that don’t require mortgage insurance. It is certainly worth investigating with a trusted mortgage professional.
Continuing to pay mortgage insurance that could be eliminated is like having a broken cell phone and continuing to make the monthly payments for something you can’t use and don’t need.
If your current mortgage is several years old, instead of getting a new 30 year mortgage, you might consider a 15-year term. The money you save with a lower interest rate could help you to retire your loan in a shorter time so that your home would be paid for.
You’ve saved the money and are ready to pay cash to build a new pool for your home. However, that’s just the beginning of your soon to be increased expenses which will include maintenance, higher utilities and higher taxes.
Homeowners obviously benefit by a larger equity when their home increases in value due to appreciation. A not-so-obvious effect that will also more than likely take place is that their property taxes will increase. In most cases, a property’s assessed value is generally tied to market value to calculate the property taxes based on the tax rate for that year.
Similarly, a homeowner can affect the value of their home by making capital improvements. Some small items may never be recognized by the taxing authority but items that require a permit, certainly are brought to their attention. Items such as a fence, roof, remodeling, windows, new rooms or swimming pools can easily increase the assessed value of a property.
Most states have an established time frame in which to challenge the current tax assessment for that year. The process is relatively simple and doesn’t require professional representation. It generally involves showing that there is an error which has overstated the value or that current comparable sales indicate a lower value.
If you’d like more information or need the comparable sales data, please let us know. We would be happy to help you investigate the possibility of lowering your property taxes.
Real estate lost a lot of value during the recession but most areas have rebounded considerably. In some cases, the homes are worth more than they were before the housing bubble burst.
The dynamics are classic for this type of market: inventories are low, mortgage rates are low and demand is high. All price ranges are on the rise with some at an even higher rate because the short supply is causing competition among buyers.
Another reason many homeowners’ may have more equity is simply not staying current with what is going on in the market. In a recent FNMA study, it indicates that 23% of owners believe they have negative equity in their home when actually, it is 9%. 37% believe they have greater than 20% equity in their home when actually 69% of homeowners do.
Even if you’re not planning to sell your home, knowing the value helps you understand your financial position better. The interest on home equity debt up to a $100,000 limit is tax deductible and can be used for any purpose. Owner’s commonly refinance to eliminate mortgage insurance, consolidate mortgages, pay off higher interest rate debt like credit cards or student loans or to buy out an ex-spouse’s equity.
Be aware that an automated value model like Zillow Zestimates uses algorithms to determine a price and while it might be in the ballpark, AVM results may only be accurate about 20% of the time. A comparable marketing analysis or broker’s price opinion will be more accurate due the subjective approach that will be used by an agent with personal experience in the area. An agent will consider factors like condition, floorplan, marketability and demand.