How Does a Home Inspection Work?

The inspection phase of a home will vary from county to county, state to state in the US, but in general, all inspections will involve evaluating certain aspects of the home before a seller can sell their home to a prospective buyer.

Health and safety are the most important considerations. Basic amenities expected of a modern building should also be in place and functioning properly

Inspections can be crucial to help arrive at a final sale price as well. This process should be used when you are looking to buy a rental property to see If there are any serious issues, and can then determine if the seller needs to fix them before the sale can go ahead. In some cases, you might agree to make the repairs, but would also expect to get the house for a lower price in consideration for the work and money you will be putting in. This process then can also occur if you are looking to sell a property as well, on the other side of the fence. Often though, as the property you are likely selling has been fully renovated, there usually will be less issues.

The usual areas of inspection are:

  • Structure
  • Exterior
  • Roofing system
  • Plumbing system
  • Electrical system
  • Heating system
  • Air conditioning system
  • Interior
  • Insulation
  • Ventilation
  • Fireplaces
    They will also look for problems like radon gas, carbon monoxide, asbestos, termites and more.

Inspection Standards
The American Society of Home Inspectors, ASHI, has “Standards of Practice” which stipulate what must be inspected, and how far home inspectors need to go to report those findings. Sellers who want to get a clear idea of the state of their home and what needs to be attended to urgently can hire their own inspector, who will then give them an evaluation of all that needs to be done. Inspections usually take 2 to 3 hours depending on the size of the house.

Hiring an inspector will cost money, but it can also prevent your sale from falling through further down the road because “deal breakers” have been discovered. I would also certainly recommend when purchase a property you do not intend to renovate

Buyer Inspections when Selling your house
Once a buyer makes an offer on your home, they will come with an inspector to assess the property. This is bound to make most sellers nervous, but if you’re worried, you can book yourself an inspection using your inspector beforehand and ensure you give yourself some time to get the urgent issues sorted in time. This can be a clever strategy to ensure the inspection does not pose issues for you, but again, if the property has been fully renovated, you shouldn’t have too many issues. The prospective buyer may also walk through with the inspector if the buyer is in town.

The Report
When the home inspection is complete, the inspector will write a report and give a copy to the prospective buyer detailing everything that has been found. If there are major causes for concern, they will usually require immediate attention before the sale can go through. They might also report on potential future issues, such as the boiler or furnace or roof, only having another three years under warranty. You probably won’t be required to buy a new boiler etc, but you may have to lower the price of the house.
Remember, the inspector’s generally will always find issues, even with a complete renovated property. I do feel that it is to justify the cost of their inspection with the buyer, but if the items are minor, it does get you a good indication that the property is in good condition

You will have time to fix the issues, and there will be a follow-up inspection. Once all the parties are satisfied that the house is in good condition or agreed price has bee reached, the sale can proceed.

How to Educate Yourself to Flip Houses Successfully

House flipping is something to get into that has the potential to create a lot of money for you. But there are some things that you have to know going into it. Anyone who’s successfully flipped houses will tell you that you are going to have to have the money to buy the property.

This is something that makes most people pause and think that they don’t have the kind of money up front that it takes to buy a property. You don’t have to use your own money.

You can get the money from lenders and these can be family members, friends, real estate investors and other money lending businesses. You can find some lenders through investment groups.

Just watch the interest rate. If you have good credit and your debt ratio is low, you can take out a loan against property you have, or a line of credit. Some people get creative with their financing for a flip house.

They use a little of theirs, some from family and some from a loan. Some people create a joint venture and split the financing costs. When it comes to deciding the financing amount, always plan on spending more than you think you might need because there are always glitches.

You need to understand how real estate works. You can educate yourself about this by having a mentor in the real estate business or by taking classes in it. But you must know how buying and selling works, how to determine which location is good to buy a flip house in, and what the market is doing.

You need a good figure on what the house will be worth on the market once everything’s said and done. Look for foreclosed homes, homes that look rough but are basically in good shape and homes in sought after locations.

You also need to know how to work on a house. It’s okay to hire those who know what they’re doing when it comes to working on a house, but you need to know what should be done and what a good job looks like on a repair or renovation.

Because otherwise, you won’t understand what has to be done or if it’s being done correctly and up to code. You can have a contractor come out and look at the flip house to tell you what’s going to be involved in fixing it up.

This will help give you a ballpark figure of what you’re going to spend to get the house ready. Just keep in mind that renovation estimates are just estimates. As the work progresses, problems are usually uncovered – so give yourself not only a financial buffer, but a time buffer for getting the project done as well.

When the home is done, make sure it has market appeal by staging the home. There are certain people you’re going to need to be successful with house flipping.

You need someone who’s knowledgeable about the market if you’re not. You need someone to handle the paperwork when you sell the house. You need someone to handle the financial side who can keep the project within budget and moving along.

You need people who are skilled in all areas of home flipping. That includes people who can work on bringing the yard up to a condition that’s appealing to buyers.

You need someone who can put in a floor or renovate a kitchen. You need electricians, plumbers, heating and air experts and any other skilled person to handle areas outside of your expertise.

Understand that time and problems equal a demand for more money. The longer it takes to complete and the more problematic a flip, the more it eats into your profits.

Hit us up if you want any more information on any of these areas!

Is Flipping Right for You?

A handful of shows on TV have featured house flipping as a way of life. They show the ups and downs of getting into the business. It looks like fun and you might be wondering if it’s something that you should get involved with.

You can decide if that’s the case by taking inventory or your personality and what you have to put into it. Flipping houses is going to be a pretty serious time commitment.

Though it looks quick on TV, reality is different. You need to be someone who has the amount of time that it’s going to take to dedicate to a project. If you’re stretched too thin right now, then you need to wait until you have the time or have someone Do it For you (like us!).

You’re going to have to hire someone to help you. To get involved with house flipping you need to have a team that you can work with. You may have an electrician, a plumber and several other people who can professionally do whatever task is needed. A general contractor can handle a lot of this for you

You must to look at the cost involved. You need to be able to know how to find a good home to invest in. A good flip home should be priced low enough so that after you repair what needs to be fixed, you have a tidy profit.

That means you can’t pay market value for a home. You will need to find the “fixer uppers” that don’t have serious issues in established or even high end neighborhoods that you can afford i, buy, bring the condition up and then sell.

You do have to be able to buy that house, which means you must have some sort of financing ready. This is a step that should be decided before you even look at homes to buy.

To decide if house flipping is right for you, you want to examine your reasons for going into it. If it’s because you think it’s something that’ll make you rich fast, then that’s a wrong reason. This is certainly a good way to make money, but takes time and effort for sure…

You can make a lot of money flipping houses, but it’s not something that you can rush. It’s something that builds your income house flip after house flip. Your first flip or two is to get you started.

There will always be risk involved in real estate properties just like in any other venture, but the rewards you stand to reap can be substantial. If you have some money already on hand that you can invest in buying a flip house, you’re a hard worker and you don’t give up easily when faced with challenges, then home flipping is probably right for you.

Give us a call, or hit us up on Facebook to discuss your options

Is Investing in Rentals still good in a softening market?

The current state of the market both in Australia and the US is always a big talking point when I meet and chat to investors. Just this week, we held a workshop in Brisbane (great to have met a lot of you!) and I was asked if investing in rentals was still a good strategy if the market is starting to soften.

My personal opinion is “Absolutely!” From what I have found over the years is that in a softening market we have a number of factors at play. Firstly home owners can sometimes get nervous, particularly if the softening is also being accompanied with rising interest rates (which is what is happening in the larger markets in the US). These homeowners can then sometimes sell, and rent for a while, waiting for the market to improve and didn’t want to get stuck with a home that the value had dropped and/or couldn’t afford (the GFC has made many Americans very gun shy on owning homes). This puts more people in the rental market often increasing the demand and therefore, rents.

Second factor is that as some of the areas soften, the cost to get into rentals can get cheaper, more affordable as well, and with rents rising, this gives even more increased ROI on your investments!

Here is an article written recently by Abhi Golhar from Forbes Real Estate Council on this exact topic…Enjoy!

https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesrealestatecouncil/2019/02/20/rental-real-estate-is-a-sound-investment-for-any-market/#60b7a5c72c26

For any more information on this or if you have any other areas you would like me to cover in these newsletters, feel free to book a call with me to chat!

Multi Family Property Investing Strategies

I have been asked a lot about looking at Multi-family properties as options for investment, something that is relatively unique to the US. I have done a couple of articles here on this but also now going to run some small workshops on this topic on the East Coast. First one coming up will be Brisbane! We use an app called Meetup to manage these workshops, so if you haven’t already found us on Meetup under US Property Investors look us up! We have groups in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane so far and soon to open up in Adelaide and Perth!

Next upcoming workshop is in Brisbane on Monday March 11th, 5:00 pm – 7:00 pm at the Novotel in Creek St Brisbane. We do a 50-60 minute meet and greet/networking to start then around 6:00 pm start the workshop with a 15 minute Q&A at the end.

If you want to come along, click on this link below and sign up. It’s free and bring your business cards to network! We also usually have some seasoned US investors or experts in each of the their particular areas come along and are there to answer questions etc.

http://meetu.ps/e/GpmVj/BHqNf/f

The following one will be in Sydney in late March, dates to be announced, then Melbourne early April! So jump in whichever group is best for your location and stay tuned for updates.

Brisbane – http://meetu.ps/c/3ZFQv/BHqNf/f

Sydney – http://meetu.ps/c/3ZFN3/BHqNf/f

Melbourne – http://meetu.ps/c/3wzf5/BHqNf/f

For any more information on these or if you have any requests for future workshops, feel free to book a call with me to chat!

Infrastructure Growth – What is it and how to find it!

I have spoken the past few weeks about tips to help when analysing a deal to determine if the area is good. One of the key points to look for was infrastructure growth. Areas where the City or council is spending money, enhancing the services, or upgrading roads etc can certainly help spark growth in the real estate sector in that area.

A number of websites can be used to research what growth is occurring in particular areas, including the city websites themselves, local news and current affairs sites, even entertainment websites for the regions. For serious investors, subscribing to a number of business journals like Forbes or Business Today (most are all online now, no need to get an actual magazine) these can link to articles in certain cities or regions that can give good indications on upcoming large business or projects going into a certain city.

As a lot of you may know, we do a lot of our work in Michigan, and attached below is an example of a recent article I flagged as important. It shows some of the growth corridors in Detroit, Michigan and which areas are under going good infrastructure growth. You will see from the link below that the regions undergoing the growth are also near a number of the ZIP codes, or neighbourhoods we invest in. Areas like 48224,48221, 48227 etc are all near a number of this growth centres. Downtown prices are starting to get too expensive to purchase but these outlying areas are perfect neighbourhoods to get into now and can help ride that wave of growth that new infrastructure can bring:

https://www.crainsdetroit.com/economic-development/greenways-shared-streets-detroit-revamp-7-business-corridors-starting-spring

If any of these areas appeal to you and you would like to look to add some properties in these neighbourhoods to your portfolios, book a call with us today!

Investing Strategy – Doing Due Diligence on a Prospective Investment

You may have seen a couple of deals that we put through this week, we have had an amazing response of interest in these! It was fantastic to see so many people wanting to get more information. I did get asked a lot, that people wanted to do their due diligence and ensure the deals were good, but were not sure how to go about this.

There are a few key things to look at when analysing a deal to ensure that it would be a good fit for your portfolio. And remember, each of these criteria, and the importance of each is different for ever investor. One of the most important things you need to identify first is your “Risk Profile”. This is what level of risk in any investment are you comfortable with based on the return available. With any form of investing there is always some level of risk and each investor is happy with a particular level. Those that invested in crypto-currencies recently for instance, have a relatively high risk profile (that is they understand the risk is higher, but happy to take on board that risk given the rewards could be very high) and some have done well in this area. Others with lower risk profiles would look more towards blue-chip shares or real estate as lower risk investments. Even within each category there are various levels of risk. There is no “right” or “wrong” answer here, it is simply identifying what your risk profile is, so that you can ensure not to over reach yourself and get involved in a particular investment that is beyond your risk profile. If you want help to determine this, give us a call, we go through all this in our strategy sessions as well!

OK, so once you have determined your risk profile, there are a couple of key areas to analyse and ensure a deal is a “good” one for your risk profile:

1. Actual Return on Investment (ROI) after costs

I think always the first thing we should always look at is what is the estimated return we will get from the deal after costs are taken into account. This is essentially “running the numbers”. Confirming the costs and profits on the deals can be relatively easy, and I will run through a couple of strategies to determine this in the next few points. But we need to ensure that the return we are likely to see, conservatively, matches our risk profile and the risk of the deal. Don’t forget to take into account costs that may not be on any feasibility analysis – like vacancy rates, possible applicable taxes, and interest on loans if you are borrowing money to make the deal happen

2. Determining Comparable Prices

Comparables are one of the most popular way to determine the market value of a property. It is used in most real estate markets world-wide and the process is essentially the same. Look at what other properties are on the market for, and more more importantly, have recently sold for, in the same area of comparable standard (same number of bedrooms, bathrooms, similar size, same neighbourhood etc). In the US though, one other factor plays a huge part in comparables, and that is condition.

In Australia, we would generally see that most properties are of a similar standard, particularly in the cities and metro areas. In a number of areas of the US, the condition of the houses may vary so much as to have a dramatic impact on the price of the home. A particular home might be fully renovated to very high standard and be selling for $125,000.00. Next door the house might be gutted inside and need complete remodelling and be on the market or sold for $12,500.00.

This does not mean that the more expensive home is not worth $125K nor does it mean the “tear-down” is a steal at $12.5K either so be careful to ensure that you are taking into account the “condition” of each of your comparable properties. Websites that can be good for this are Zillow (www.zillow.com) and Trulia (www.trulia.com) but make sure also to look only a properties sold or on the market recently.

It can also be a good idea to look up in google a realtor that works in that area, and have a chat to them about the neighbourhood and get their thoughts on comparables. Bear in mind they may try to sell you other properties though too, so best to keep the discussion general as they may run down your possible purchase to try and sell you one of theirs instead.

3. Region demographics and area

Trulia (web address above) is also a good website as it can also give some regions demographic data. You can look at crime rates of the area relative to the surrounding districts; the median age of the households; average education level; average income level; percentage of owner occupiers vs renters etc.

All good data to review to ensure the area you are investing in, you are comfortable with. Remember, this is a region your are likely never to set foot in, so it it good to be comfortable with the demographics of the area. It can also be a good idea to search the address on Google maps and even scroll right down to street level and “walk” the streets some.

Make sure the property is not across the road from a factory, or refuse centre etc.

4. Rental rates and vacancies

Understanding the rental rates for an area is as important as determining the market value as this is the “profit” that the property will give you as a rental option. There is a website for US property rentals called Rentometer (www.rentometer.com) which is great in helping to determine what a property may rent for and other valuable data. The particular property you might be looking to purchase may already be rented, but its still important to understand the market rental value, in case your tenant was to leave, to make sure you can get the same rent return again, or is it possible to increase the rental return. This website reviews all properties within the neighbourhood of similar size and number of bedrooms, bathrooms etc to give you the average rent. Again you need to take into account condition. If your property is fully renovated to a high standard it is quite likely that you can get higher than average rent.

By also looking at the numbers of property currently available for rent in your area, and the length of time the rentals have been on the market, you can get an idea of vacancy. If the particular area in question has many many properties available and days on market for rent is 30+ or more on average, this can show a poor rental area. If there are only a few available, and days on market is low, this can indicate a better area. You can also look up in google a property manager that works in the area your are looking to purchase in and have a chat to them. They should give you a pretty honest appraisal of the region.

As we discussed earlier, if all these options are still good based on your risk profile, that can indicate it could be a good deal for you. If you are not comfortable with any of these areas, then might be worth looking around for another deal that suits your profile better. Remember, there is no such thing as THE deal. There is always another and never fall in love with any particular one, just analyse the numbers and determine your comfort level.

If your looking at starting or adding to your investment portfolio and would like to discuss options and strategies, or want help to determine your Risk Profile, book a call with us today!

Investing Exit Strategy – When top Flip and When to Hold?

I get asked all the time by investors when looking at property deal feasibility reports as to what is the best exit strategy for US property – flip it (resell) or hold it (rent)? Often though, the answer is not as black and white. One of the most important things I look for in any and every deal we do, or recommend to an investor, is to have TWO exit strategies. Have a plan B. This can be one of the most important parts of analysing any deal. We always want to have the preferred option, but have a backup in case circumstances change.

Now, there are a number of factors you need to take into account when looking at which exit strategy is best for any particular property deal. No one particular point is the most important, I generally look at all aspects and rate them, seeing which way a particular deal leans towards (flip or rental). Particular areas to look at are:

1. ROI – Rental return vs Flip profit

I think always the first thing we should always look at is what is the estimated return we will get from renting the property or selling the property. We also need to take into account when selling costs such as realtor commissions, taxes applicable, title company charges and settlement/closing costs. If a particular property is going to give a high rate of rental return (i.e. over 10% net after costs) then it could be a great addition to your portfolio to keep. If on the other hand, the rental return is down around the 6-7% but the profit from sale (again look at net after costs noted above) is over the 20-25% range, then it’s possible the best strategy may be to flip and invest the money into another deal.

2. Region Demographics & Market Forces

Demographics and market forces of a particular region or neighbourhood can play a role in what is the best exit or outcome for a particular deal as well. Certain areas may be heavily owner occupier properties, often giving higher property prices as it may be a popular area people want to live. This may lean a particular deal towards looking to do a better level or renovation/rehab and plan to flip the property. Other areas might be very strong rental areas; very low vacancy and high rental returns compared to the price of the properties might tend a particular deal to be a good rental. If you have properties in rougher or less affluent areas of a city, it may be best to renovate and sell, with the demographics of the area not conducive to getting good solid tenants. Don’t forget also to check sale prices in the region over the past 3-6 months, to see if the area is getting any capital growth. Maybe a boom in infrastructure or businesses is seeing prices rising, so again, it can lean a deal towards rental, to hold onto while the prices in the area appreciate.

3. Affordability or Price/Cost of the Deal

How much capital you have in the deal (or would have if you were to purchase) and the cost of funding (if applicable) is also a critical factor to look at. If the property cost is relatively affordable then it may be good to hold the property and look to purchase another for flip or hold. If on the other hand, a particular deal will tie up all your available capital, and if returns are such that you are unable to continue investing (stuck so to speak), then getting a chuck profit from sale, to enable you to continue to invest in your strategy might be the best option

4. Type of Property

The type of property you have or are looking at can also play a big part in the favourable exit strategy for the deal. Large 4-5 bedroom properties with 2-3 bathrooms possibly on large blocks, are not as generally favoured by renters, and/or don’t really get the rental return they deserve with rental demand more for the 2-3BR /1BA homes or apartments. Larger two storey properties though, could look to be turned into multi-family residences (MFR) with possibly a 2 BR unit upstairs and 2 BR unit downstairs depending on the layout. This can significantly increase the rental return a property can give. Occasionally, property layouts could even support 3 separate units, vastly increasing return – these would lean strongly to rentals.

Often it is not just one of the these points above that will decide for you the best option for your deal/property. It may be a combination of 2-3 points that gives you that Plan A, but you should always have ready that Plan B in case circumstances change. On the other hand, one particular point might be so strong in one direction, that it is easy to see the best outcome for the deal.

If your looking at starting or adding to your investment portfolio and would like to discuss options and strategies, book a call with us today!

Investing in US Apartments – A Good Strategy?

In my opinion, investing in Apartments in the US has always been a good strategy for cashflow and even growth. Apartments are almost a hybrid of residential and commercial real estate. In the US, anything over 4 apartments in a building is classified as a commercial investment, but still driven by residential trends and demographics. On the other hand growth or appreciation of apartment buildings can be more linked to the Net Operating Income (NOI) of the building, more like the CAP rate of a commercial property. As much as capital growth in residential, particularly in a large number of US markets is not something you bank on, in apartment buildings, it can be something you have more control over.

For instance, if the rental returns in an area are rising or if you are able to rehab/renovate some units to increase the rental return, then the overall value of the apartment building will also increase, regardless of whether residential property is softening in the market or not. Its kind of having the best of both worlds in one investment. If the market in a region is booming and more and more people are buying homes, then house prices appreciate, and often apartments can “rise with the flow”. On the other hand, if markets are softening, becoming more of a buyers market than a sellers market, people get nervous, start selling and renting for a while. Rents can often increase as the demand for rentals rise, which can then increase the NOI of the building and hence, its value. Win – Win!

Now, there is a number of factors though, you need to take into account when looking at apartment buildings as an investment:

1. Management

Firstly, there is much more management involved. Apartment buildings are not necessarily for the “passive” investors, or those that want to sit, and forget their portfolios and just let them be. With the higher number of tenants involved in one building there is always a lot more management needed, even if you have a property manager in place.

2. Vacancy

You always need to factor in a vacancy rate for your portfolio, apartments particularly. Now one of the major advantages of apartments over houses, is that if you own 1 house and the tenant leaves, you now have a 100% vacancy rate on your portfolio until you are able to tenant the property again. If you have a one 7-apartment building for instance and one tenant leaves, that’s only a 14% vacancy rate. But understand, there is a good chance, particularly if you have a couple of apartment blocks that there will always be a couple of units vacant at any one time.

3. Affordability

Apartments can be much more expensive to purchase upfront, and costs such as property management, maintenance, insurance etc can also be higher as these are often treated as commercial investments if 4+ units. Need to ensure you factor in these costs when determining your returns and cash flow. Which brings me to the last point…

4. Returns

Returns on apartments can often be higher than single family or multi-family homes. Given the higher management and increased costs, the returns though can be better. If a particular area is giving 7-8% ROI in Single Family Residences (SFR’s) you may find apartment buildings can be 12%+, sometimes even higher!

If you are looking at a passive rental portfolio, and not afraid of the increase management and costs/affordability of apartment buildings, they can make an excellent addition to a portfolio. We have clients realising returns of over 17% on some apartment buildings and have seen EBIT’s (earnings before Interest and Tax) of over 25% possible – making sure to factor in increases in costs, maintenance and a vacancy rate.

If this is something you are interested in adding to your portfolio, book a call with us today!

the best and most expensive homes sold in Detroit in 2018.

Lets have a quick look back at some of the best and most expensive homes sold in Detroit in 2018. Even though most of these are not investments, and most likely out of our reach but does show what is available and what areas buyers are paying top dollar in. We can use this information to source good properties in these areas and ride this wave. A couple of the regions will surprise you and a few of the better areas of Detroit are strangely missing (Grosse Point, Boston Edison) that were there last couple of years. Harper Woods is a great area near University District & Bagley where there is still some great deals available; and I was lucky enough to stay only a couple of blocks away from the Indian Village mansion when I was there in November last year!

Click the button below for the full article from “Curbed Detroit” or you will also find it posted on our Facebook site – Enjoy !!

Read the Article Here