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By Art Valenzuela, Real Estate Faculty Published August 2014
Since the housing and financial crisis of 2008, U.S. real estate investing has hit all-time highs. More than 30 million Americans today consider themselves Investors with a third of them reporting that they will be actively investing in the next 12 months.
Why is real estate investing so popular today? Like so many trends in America, pop culture is a huge influence. Look no further than the massively popular HGTV (Home and Garden Television) channel. Show after show portrays buying, rehabbing, and flipping real estate for a large profit in a 30-minute broadcast.
Additionally, distressed properties (foreclosures and short sales) initially provided a cliff-like drop in values, as much as 60 to 70 percent in some parts of the country. This created a frenzy-like buying effect, but did not immediately cause values to rise, which is a perfect storm for investors. While distressed properties have declined and leveled off, many parts of the U.S. continue to be plagued by them. Most notable are Florida, Maryland, Nevada, Illinois, and New Jersey, where foreclosure filings range from 1 out of 130 homes to 1 in 273.
The pure economics of real estate investing also are extremely enticing. A common example of a real estate flip in Southern California before home prices started rising in 2012 would be as follows: purchase price of $200,000; rehabilitation cost of $50,000; closing cost of $20,000; for an all-in amount of $270,000. With a sale price of $350,000, resulting in a 30 percent return on investment (ROI) in about a 90-day period, if a single investor could do something similar just four times in one year, that would result in an annualized ROI of 120 percent. While finding great deals is becoming increasingly more difficult, for the aggressive and savvy investor, 10 to 20 percent margins could be found in local markets or across the United States.
Real estate investment clubs have risen in popularity in the past several years. Here, investors can find, network, and team up with real estate investment trusts (REITs), real estate private equity hedge funds, private money lending, and real estate partners. In Southern California alone, there are at least 100 real estate investment clubs with an average membership of 50.
Another benefit to investors, or potential investors, has been the Dodd-Frank Act that went into full effect January 10, 2014. The Dodd-Frank Act puts limits on the mortgage industry that have kept many homebuyers out of the market. Eliminating 100 percent financing (with the exception of USDA and VA loans), requiring 3 years of stable income, and limiting the debt-to-ratio income to 43 percent, some would argue is preventing many people from buying a home to live in as their primary residence. With fewer owner-occupied buyers to compete with, investors have an easier entry into buying available inventory at the best prices.
Indications show that real estate investing is expected to grow the foreseeable future and should help to continue to stabilize the real estate market while improving neighborhoods and providing rental housing for those who need more time to save money and establish longer employment histories. Others, whether first-time homebuyers or established homebuyers, could benefit from purchasing rehabbed and turn-key properties that investors put back on the market at slight increases.
Art Valenzuela is a full-time faculty member at Kaplan University. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not represent the view of Kaplan University.
By Cynthia Waddell, PhD, CPA, CFE
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