Wednesday, January 28 2015
Despite the improving economic outlook, for many families, finding an affordable house can still be a challenge. According to a study by the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University, more than a third of today’s families have had to devote at least 30% of their combined household income to the monthly mortgage payment—and that figure exceeds the generally accepted standard. In other words, even though mortgage interest rates remain pegged at historically low levels, landing an “affordable” house (just as in the rest of the country) can take some doing. Here is one five-step approach that has rewarded house-hunters in the past:
1. Define Affordable House in dollars
The first step to finding an affordable house should be to work out a target budget. The Wall Street Journal currently recommends spending no more than 28% of monthly income on your house). Make sure to include additional fees such as legal fees, repairs, maintenance, and closing costs in your calculation. The bottom line you come up with isn’t one set in stone, but it’s a reasonable goal to have in mind.
2. Set space requirements
Space will be a prime consideration for the entire time you'll be living in your home. If you are planning on expanding the family in the near future, having a spare room is close to a necessity. If it's just something that would be nice to have, it’s not a requirement—and recognizing the distinction can be all-important.
3. Balance travel time against housing costs
Often you can offset the purchase price of a home by expanding your search radius to include a reasonable commute. Get out your pencil: you'll need to compare the savings in the house payment against the additional cost of an extended commute.
4. Include properties that need some TLC
One of the best ways to zero in on an affordable house is to keep an eye out for otherwise-eligible "fixer-uppers." You can avoid any serious structural problems, such as plumbing, electrical, and roof issues, yet still focus on properties that just need a little cosmetic revamp can put you across the affordability finish line.
5. Investigate home buying programs
In a limited number of instances, there are some generally underpublicized home buying programs that might be available. For instance, there is the Good Neighbor Next Door program. For teachers, medical professionals, firefighters, and law enforcement officers looking in revitalization areas, as much as a 50% discount from a HUD-listed property can make a house more than affordable!
Most observers believe residential prices are likely to continue to rise—so it’s not outlandish to suspect that today’s affordable houses may become less so as time passes. Give me a call if you are thinking of taking advantage of this winter’s bargains in our area. You can reach me on my cell phone 812-499-9234 or email: Rolando@RolandoTrentini.com
Monday, January 19 2015
Good investors tend to be cautious souls. For those who prior to 2007 had never ventured into the realm of real estate investments, the ensuing downturn might have been enough to discourage any curiosity about that direction (even if their other investments had also suffered during the global financial crisis).
Nonetheless, at this juncture those same cautious investors might well assume that the value of real estate investments have rebounded so substantially that it’s now too late to bother looking into them. But as National Public Radio has just pointed out, there's an excellent argument to be made that conditions are now highly conducive for real estate—with real estate investments being no exception. I could tick off three solid reasons that immediately leap to mind, but stand corrected: NPR points to four:
1. Employment. Employers are hiring anew, and “when companies are hiring, would-be homebuyers feel more confident about taking on mortgage debt.” Unemployment rates have (finally!) come down to 5.6%, and with employers having added 252,000 jobs in December, consumer confidence is up nearly 20% over a year ago.
2. Prices seem more rational. NPR points out that from January to October, prices rose 4.5% nationally; a “subdued” gain compared with the 11% burst of the year before. They project that the slower price appreciation may have set the stage for a “buying surge in 2015.” From a local real estate investments standpoint, too, gains from last year’s run-up in equities markets combined with mortgage rates still holding below 4% would seem to create the key elements many investors would consider favorably.
3. Demand for rentals is high. There is a healthy demand for rental accommodation across the country due to a tight supply of quality accommodations. USA Today tells us that between 2009 and 2013, the national vacancy rate for apartments dropped from 8% to 4.1%. Over the same period, the effective rent increased by 12% to $1,083. As one potential consequence vis-à-vis real estate investments, new landlords might expect to be more selective about the tenants that they choose. That would mean fewer headaches for landlords with troublesome and slow paying tenants. It is might also portend that investment properties will stand vacant for briefer periods.
4. Millennials are sick of Mom’s basement. NPR points to a Census Bureau report that says only 36% of Americans under age 35 own a home, down from 42% just seven years ago. The recovering employment picture might not enable young people to save up for a down payment for a while yet, but renting quality digs should soon be more doable than was previously the case. That could set the table for a continuing robust rental environment, with real estate investments benefitting proportionately.
NPR’s four reasons for optimism in 2015 are actually only the tip of the iceberg. If you have ever had the thought that it could be worthwhile to take a look at real estate investments, this is a great time of year to give me a call! You can reach me on my cell phone 812-499-9234 or email:Rolando@RolandoTrentini.com