The fastest growing commodity in the United States is real estate. In 2005, it increased in value by 12% compared to other goods and services that increased by only 4.5%. With such a high return on their investment, many people are purchasing real estate instead of stocks and bonds.
Some investors choose to invest in run down properties. They buy for a low price and hope to sell for a higher price once the necessary improvements to the house and yard are made. Many investors choose to do the repairs themselves, saving on labor costs. Others hire contractors to do the work. Either way, it is expected that the cost of repairing the home will increase its value. The new value is anticipated to exceed the original cost plus the cost of repairs. If the owner can rapidly sell the property, he/she can recoup their investment, make a profit and move on to another real estate purchase.
Other investors purchase properties that are vacant and require little repair to make them marketable. These houses can be resold or rented out. Here the owner has made the decision that the investment will be reimbursed over time. The monthly rent on the property must exceed the owner’s monthly payment on the loan. In the case of property rentals, the owner assumes responsibility for maintaining the property. He/she will act as the landlord, collect the monthly rent, make any necessary repairs, and handle the paperwork for obtaining tenants. If the owner does not have the time to invest in being the landlord, he/she can pay another person or real estate agency to act on his/her behalf. This saves the owner time and aggravation but it costs money to pay the substitute landlord a salary. This has to be figured into the rental price. Thus the monthly rent should be the monthly cost of the loan plus the monthly cost of maintaining the property plus the cost of the landlord plus a profit for the owner.
Sometimes an investor may choose to buy an apartment building or condominium complex and rent the individual units out. Here the formula for determining the monthly rent should be the monthly cost of the loan divided by the number of units for rent plus the monthly cost of maintaining the property plus the cost of a landlord plus a profit for the owner. If any units are vacant, the owner must make up the difference in the loan payment owed that month. This can be quite expensive if the units remain vacant over time or the number of vacant units grows in number.
There are times when the housing market has slid. This is called the bubble effect. Prices go up until, at last, they burst like a bubble and begin to decline. This can be a serious problem if you have all your money tied up in real estate. If you were depending on your new property to earn enough equity to make you a profit and the value of the property fails to increase or decreases, you may be in financial trouble. Make sure in advance that you can make your monthly payments. You should not depend entirely on the equity to make your payments. Financial experts suggest that, if you don’t have to sell the property and you can make the payments, don’t sell. Wait it out and see if property values rise again.
Financial experts say that an informed consumer will know what is happening in the market place and be prepared for it. Instead of borrowing again to meet the downturn in real estate, they recommend that you cut back on your expenses where you can. Use the extra money to step up payments and reduce the amount of the loan.