Archive for the 'Real Estate Investing' Category

Don’t you love reading all that good news about the the Phoenix real estate market’s recovery? Guess what? You’re being lied to — as always.

This is what’s really happening: FannieMae and FreddieMac are holding foreclosed houses off the market, in anticipation of “selling” them to campaign donors.

Meanwhile, the town is being picked clean, with prices being bid up by buyers convinced that houses are going out of style — a story we’ve heard before, yes?

As an example, my BargainBot search, which is shared with hundreds of investors all over the world, is at less than 5% of it’s peak. A search I use to select premium rental homes produces one listing this morning, where it stood at 45 homes in April of 2011.

If Fannie and Freddie “sell” the homes they own to politically-connected “investors,” the rental market in Phoenix will be slaughtered.

And if they release the homes they have been hoarding into the MLS, Phoenix will hit a third bottom before the market can finally recover.

You can call the news media idiots or you can call them liars. But any news from any official source about Phoenix real estate is dangerously misleading.

Meanwhile, if you need to sell, your house will go for top-dollar at blinding speed.

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The philosophy that informs our real estate practice is the same one that will drive our property management business: Do everything we would want done, if we were the landlord or the tenant, and nothing we wouldn’t.

Everything we do as Realtors is informed by two simple ideas:

  1. We want to do everything we would want done for us if we were the buyer or seller, not the agent.
  2. We want never to do the things we hate when we see other agents doing them.

That’s a pretty simple ethic, a hard target to miss. And it is the philosophy we will deploy as we enter the property management business.

Despite many requests from our investors over the years, we’ve avoided doing this, primarily because we have never liked the way that other companies handle property management. Real estate is an active pursuit, best undertaken out in the world, where property managers have always seemed to me to be much too interested in working office hours and taking weekends and holidays off.

But that creates a market niche, doesn’t it?

We bring years of careful thinking to our representation of suburban Phoenix rental home investors. We go to great pains to find the right houses in the right neighborhoods, homes that will rent easily and stay rented to premium tenants, and then we prepare those homes to make sure they will be appealing to those tenants. I don’t blow smoke up anyone’s nose, and I don’t let the investors I work with make profit-killing mistakes. We have gotten so good at this, over the years, that the homes we are involved in routinely command the highest tier of rents, among comparable properties, attracting their first tenants in less than twenty days on market.

And we want to bring that same level of commitment to the property management business. We know what we don’t like, in the way this business has been done until now in metropolitan Phoenix, and we know what we would want done, if we were the landlords or the tenants. So now we’re going to put our philosophy to the test, to see if we can’t reinvent property management, just as we have reinvented investor representation.

We’re starting with one house, a four-bedroom ranch home in Avondale’s Coldwater Springs. We represented the buyer in the purchase of the home, and we got it at a deeply discounted price, because no one else wanted it.

Handyman of Phoenix Mark Deermer whipped the home into shape, and we were able to put in on the MLS system just a week after we had closed escrow.

Do you want to take a moment to sharpen your pencil? The home was leased for two years at full price in twelve days on market. We got $1,050 per month in rent, even though there are two competing homes in Coldwater Springs in that exact same floorplan languishing on the market at $995 and $895 a month. We had our choice of applicants, and the house was showing so much I took the lockbox off once we signed the lease.

Your mileage may vary, of course. Every house is unique, and no one hits a home-run every time at bat. But we’ve always been able to select and prepare houses that rent well and stay rented, and we are confident that we can apply the same kind of intelligence and diligence to the job of keeping our tenants happy and our landlords profitable.

Even so, this is a work-in-progress, and we’re boot-strapping the business, rather than trying to take on hundreds of properties all at once. But the systems we’re putting in place will be unprecedented in the Phoenix real estate market. As an example, every landlord and every tenant will have a page on our computer system. Tenants can log-on to post maintenance requests — or to pay their rent electronically. Landlords can check into the system to see an up-to-the-minute accounting of their funds. Every dollar of inflow and outflow will be accounted for on-line, with instantaneous posting. No more waiting to find out where your money is. No more float games with your proceeds.

There’s more — and more to come. You can see our Property Management Agreement by clicking this link. We’ll be working with the court-tested Arizona Association of Realtors Rental Lease, modifying its terms with our custom Lease Addendum, which you can review by clicking this link. The bottom line is, we’re going to do property management the way it’s never been done in greater Phoenix — happy landlords, happy tenants, happy neighbors.

I would love to talk to you more about this. We can discuss taking on the management of your existing rental properties, when their current management contracts come up for renewal. Better yet, we can go out shopping for suburban Phoenix rental homes and put them under Bloodhound Realty’s management from the first tenant. If you want to explore your opportunities, contact me by email or give me a call at 602-740-7531.

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When I write the book on earning profits on suburban Phoenix rental home investments, this house will be my example of what not to do.

That’s a nice looking home, isn’t it? It’s in Coldwater Springs in Avondale, Arizona, one of my favorite subdivisions in one of my favorite suburbs of Phoenix. I have sold many homes in Coldwater Springs, both to owner-occupants and to rental home investors, always with happy results.

So what’s wrong with this wannabe rental home? A lot, as it turns out.

For one thing, the home is facing straight west. The entire front of the house is going to get blasted by the brutal desert sun all summer long. That means much higher air conditioning bills. Tenants can glower at their bills just as well as homeowners. The result is that west-facing homes in Coldwater Springs sit vacant an average of 21 days longer than comparable north- or south-facing homes. That’s three extra weeks on market — if you’re lucky — every time the house goes vacant. Money talks: Call it a $750 loss in real cash money every time the home has to find a new tenant.

That’s a bad mistake on the investor’s part, but here’s a worse one:

Yes, that’s a major thoroughfare right behind the home. The house will always suffer from traffic noise — but never quite so much as when potential tenants are rejecting the home and moving on to the next candidate on their shopping list.

It gets worse. The house is oriented toward the corner in such a way that anyone heading south at night will flash their headlights right in the living room window. Dozens of times a night, every night. Tenants may learn to ignore the traffic noise, but they’re never going to learn to love having headlights in their home all the time.

There’s more. Check this out:

At $1,095 a month, this rental home is overpriced, but not by a huge amount. Facing north, without the headlights and traffic noise, it would be worth around $1,050 a month. Discounting for the truly awful location, it’s going to rent for less — maybe $975 if the landlord gets very lucky.

So what’s the benefit of pricing this house at least $120 a month over the rent it can reasonably be expected to earn? No pesky phone calls — to the landlord’s phone in Riverside County, California. The “marketing strategy” of posting two hardware-store signs in the window is just the icing on the cake.

Just think! Tenants can over-pay on the rent in order to have a home in a poor location. They can suffer traffic noise and headlights in the living room all night. They can pay at least $1,000 more a year in air conditioning costs. And they can deal with a remote-control landlord who, to all appearances, is committed to demonstrating in his every decision that he can’t get anything right. Why would they ever even consider renting another home instead?

In real life, the only tenants who will apply to lease this home will be the folks who have been turned down by every other landlord they have approached. All of the premium tenants — good jobs, good credit, good rental history — will be living in premium homes, while the tenants who land in this home could easily be slow-pay — or no-pay — candidates for forcible eviction. And remember, this home will cost an extra $750 in vacant days, on average, every time it goes vacant.

All of the identifying details about this property have been obscured to avoid humiliating the guilty party. But this exercise is a slam-dunk demonstration of the reasons why rental home investors need representation — expert representation.

I’m a salesman, that’s a fact. I make my money selling houses. But I don’t ever sell the wrong house, and I don’t ever let my investors make even minor errors, much less boneheaded mistakes like these. I have lots of ideas about how to make money investing in rental homes in the suburbs of Phoenix. If you would like to explore every idea I have for getting things right — buying the right house in the right location and then marketing that home to premium tenants, all at very substantial annual cash-on-cash returns — drop me an email or give me a call at 602-740-7531.

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I went shopping today in Coldwater Springs in Avondale and found some great rental-home investment properties.

I pick properties that rent quickly and stay rented to premium tenants. I know what works for rental properties, I know what they will rent for and how much to pay in acquisition costs. Handyman Mark Deermer whips them into shape in scratch time, so we can minimize vacant days. Our track record is excellent.

Phoenix is crawling with investors who are making spectacular mistakes — buying bad houses in the wrong neighborhoods and dealing with the headaches of too much competition and inadequate rents.

These are better choices for Phoenix-area rental home investors, by far. I know exactly what I want, and I’m always shopping for new opportunities. If you would like to be a subscriber to my shopping list, say so.

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Practical examples of how we cherry-pick profitable rental home investments in the near-suburbs of Phoenix.

Phoenix handyman Mark Deermer and I took a look at five relatively inexpensive homes in Surprise, a northwest suburb of Phoenix, that could work well as rentals properties.

Our findings — with photos, links to MLS listings and projected financials — are linked here: Rental home investment possibilities in Surprise, Arizona.

Here is one of the properties we saw, as an example of the kinds of things we’re taking into account:

17410 West Lisbon Lane, Surprise, AZ 85388

17410 West Lisbon Lane, Surprise, AZ 85388

List price: $79,900. 3 bedrooms, 2.5 baths. 1,578 square feet. Courtesy of: RE/MAX Professionals. Google map. Schools: Elementary, Junior High, High School. Property tax record. MLS listing. Nearby homes for sale.

Estimated repair costs: $7515.

Estimated rent: $850.

Initial offer: $75,000.

I don’t hate offering less than that, but getting an offer accepted on a lender-owned home is always a game of double-think. The longer a property has languished — which usually means the worse its condition — the more flexible the bank will be on price.

Handyman Mark Deermer is touring these houses with me. His repair estimates take into account everything we see — stipulating that unseen problems may turn up when we do the home and wood inspections. But his estimate is the cost to turn any candidate home into a turn-key rental — a home you will be proud to own and your tenants will be proud to maintain.

When I project rents, I’m working from recent closed leases in the MLS for that size and style of home in that subdivision. I deliberately understate the numbers, because I want any variation to come as a happy surprise.

Also, I am hand-selecting the properties we look at. I eliminate a lot of towns and subdivisions because the tenant pool is not as deep as I want. I rarely even consider a home with a poor western exposure, since this will increase the air conditioning costs for the tenant — which will induce the tenant to rent someone else’s house instead. I tend to favor easy access to schools and shopping. And even when we visit a house that meets all these criteria, I may eliminate it if I don’t like the floorplan — or just the feel of the home.

This is the lay of the land: Phoenix has always been a soft rental market, but the homes I pick tend to rent quickly to premium tenants, they tend to stay rented, they tend to suffer little vacancy between tenants, and they should sell quickly and at a premium price to owner-occupants on the way out.

We’re doing everything we can to maximize the profit potential of the homes we sell. If you click through to this weblog post and follow its links, you can find out a lot more about Bloodhound Realty’s rental property investment philosophy. But the bottom line is the bottom line: You’re investing in rental homes to make money. We’re cherry-picking (and cherry-polishing!) just the right houses to make sure you do.

There are 30,000 Realtors in Metropolitan Phoenix. Why should you work with us when you’re ready to invest your heard-earned dollars? Because we’ve thought this problem through, and we’ve arrived at what we think is an optimal solution to maximize your profits and minimize your headaches. Prices are low, interest rates are low, and, if you get just the right house and serve it up just right to the marketplace, there is money to be made in suburban Phoenix. Drop me an email or phone me at 602-740-7531 and let’s talk about making some of that money for you and your family.

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Buying a Phoenix-area rental home? It all comes down to the math.

Phoenix handyman Mark Deermer and I have been prowling potential rental homes in the western suburbs of Phoenix. I’m looking for all of my usual stuff — all the factors that make the Metropolitan Phoenix rental homes we sell rent quickly and stay rented. And Mark is going through the homes to get a quick estimate of the cost to refurbish the homes, bringing them into rent-ready condition.

This is an easy world to live in right now — for buyers, at least. The quantity of available homes is rising, and the quality of those homes seems to be going up, too.

Here are six properties we’ve seen lately.

This all about strategy: We start with homes that might work and that are not insanely overpriced. Working from a projected rent, we know what the maximum entry cost should be. Mark’s refurb cost is subtracted from that gross number, which yields the ideal purchase price. We make the offer on that basis. If we get the house, we get it. If not, we move on. But if we do get the property under contract, we know that it will be profitable from the first tenant.

Ready to make your move? Send me an email or phone me at 602-740-7531 and I’ll help you buy a Phoenix-area rental home like one of these.

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My kind of rental home investment in Avondale’s Coldwater Springs

I’ve been watching this house for months. I wanted to snag it for one of my investors when it was a short sale, but the bank foreclosed on it before I could get an offer in play.

I took pictures of the home when I was in it then. Since it was relisted as a lender-owned home, I’ve been back in to see how it’s holding up.

The home is the Lavender floorplan by Fulton Homes, three bedrooms and two baths in 1524 square feet. It’s a greatroom floorplan, so the common spaces are abundant. There is no space wasted on hallways, and the home feels open and bright everywhere.

Even better, it’s in Coldwater Springs, a subdivision I have loved since it was built. The Coldwater Springs Golf Course threads through the community, and the Collier School, grades K-8, is right in the middle of everything — a short bike trip from this home.

The home is listed at $87,500. Handyman Mark Deermer estimates that it will take around $8,000 to make the property rent-ready. Total entry cost would be $95,500. With anticipated rents of at least $950 a month, that puts this home at a Gross Rent Multiplier of 100 months, right where I want to be.

And that’s just one house. In the weeks since the tax-credit lapsed, inventories have come back strong. These kinds of houses — premium homes attractive to premium tenants — are being offered at breathtaking prices, with plenty of room for investors to show ample positive cash-flow. Meanwhile, lender Connie Moss can do investor loans at 5.75% or better with 25% down.

I talk to a lot of folks who say they want to invest in rental homes in Metropolitan Phoenix. Many follow through, but some people seem to sit on the sidelines, waiting for someone to pull them along. This I can’t do. I am very good at identifying properties that will rent profitably and stay rented. Mark Deermer can refurbish them so they are irresistible to tenants. But if you want to get in on a house like this, you need to assert yourself.

Shoot me an email or phone me at 602-740-7531 and I’ll help you line up a rental home like this one.

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Buy and hold investors in Phoenix-area rental homes want to know: Is now the time to buy?

One of my rental home investors asks:

How are things looking one week past the expiration of the home buyer credit? Time to plan a trip?

My answer: I should track this number daily, instead of relying on memory. These numbers are approximate, but reflective of reality. This is from the BargainBot search many of my investors are subscribed to:

October 2008 — ~1,500 listings
October 2009 — ~350 listings — this was the first tax credit
January 2010 — ~650 listings — somewhat replenished
May 4, 2010 — ~420 listings — second round of tax credit
Today — 492 listings — replenishing

I’m watching particularly for houses I would want to buy for investors, since these are the ones that were picked over the most by tax credit shoppers.

It’s not my style to say, “No, don’t spend any money!” But it remains that you’ll do better if you wait for the inventory to replenish.

May 21? May 28? The big jump this week is not so much new listings but contracts that failed — usually because the contracted price was above the appraised value. We want for there to be more good houses than qualified buyers.

That’s where I’m at for now.

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A more active kind of real estate investment: Fixing and flipping distressed homes for fun and profit.

Handyman Mark Deermer and I have been planning for this for a while: We’re going to ride the Phoenix real estate market back up by fixing and flipping some of the (many, many) distressed homes we work with. We’ve fixed up quite a few homes for buy-and-hold investors, and this is the logical next step in our praxis.

As with buying rental homes, it’s a matter of property selection before anything else. The right home, in turn-key condition, will sell at a substantial premium over its distress-sale price. By buying the right MLS-listed and court-house-steps properties, we can net out significant returns after all expenses.

Buying right is everything, of course. If we overpay on the way in, we’ll have trouble extricating ourselves on the way out. We’re doing this now because the market in Greater Phoenix has reached a point where the math works fairly consistently. Houses that will flip profitably are still not common, but we’re to the point where they’re one among hundreds, rather than one among thousands.

The second step in the process is handling the refurbishing wisely and well — and quickly. Our goal is to get our properties back on the market within four days of taking possession of them. And we won’t be doing wish-and-a-promise fix-ups. Every house we do will have all new interior paint, all new flooring, all new window treatments and all new kitchen appliances. We want to give our buyers that model-home feeling — because they’ll pay more for homes that are white-glove clean and move-in ready.

And the third step is marketing, a process we get better at with every passing day. The homes we’ll be flipping will be completely refurbished, but they will also be staged for sale, with the kind of tasteful decorator touches that make people feel at home. We’ll build a marketing web site for each home, showing off what we’ve done with before and after pictures, and documenting the remodeling — both to defend the sales price and to assist the appraiser in seeing our justification for the sales price.

We’ll be pricing aggressively to the market, as well, thus to turn the money over more quickly. Our goal is to go from sold to sold in two months or less — with each investor’s money turning over six or more times a year.

Do you have stars in your eyes? The profit per home will not be huge. But because the money is turning over so rapidly, the annualized return-on-investment could be very substantial.

Why am I writing this? Because we need money to make this work. I’m going to be the marketing partner in the partnerships we’re putting together. Mark is going to be the work partner. What we need are finance partners.

The kind of houses we’re going to be working with are going to require around $100,000 in capital each. That will pay the acquisition costs plus the cost of refurbishing the home. Everything else — closing costs and unpaid liens — can be paid out of the resale proceeds at Close of Escrow. But each Limited Liability Corporation we put together is going to want $100,000 in seed capital. This can come from one or more finance partners, and the seed capital will be restored to the LLC after each house is sold, before any profits are disbursed.

Here’s the way to figure this: Even if the investor’s ROI is only 5% per flip, if we can turn that money over six times in a year, that’s a 30% annualized return. That’s good money by anyone’s standards — and the returns only stand to improve when the Phoenix real estate market finally gets back to an upward trajectory.

But what about down markets? God help us, it could happen. But this is why we’re working to sell the properties so quickly — and at aggressive prices — to get our money in and out before we can lose too much to declining values.

I’m not blowing smoke up anyone’s nose. We’ve been working on this problem for a year-and-a-half, all to make the numbers work. I’ll be documenting out projects here, so you can see what we’re up to.

Meanwhile, if you want to get in on this opportunity, speak up. We’re going to put together up to twenty of these partnerships, flipping as many as ten homes a month. This is a lot more aggressive than buy-and-hold investing — and a lot more risky, of course. But we’re offering the potential for truly astounding annualized returns. If you want to get involved in real estate on the supply side, here’s your chance.

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For rental home investors in metropolitan Phoenix, the perfect storm is almost upon us.

I have a lot of investor clients, folks who want to buy rental homes in greater Phoenix — to buy and hold them as long-term investments. Early last fall and again late this spring I have advised many of them to sit tight, to wait the market out.

What are we waiting for?

The final lapsing of the first-time home-buyers’ tax credit. We can be quietly delighted for all the nice folks who were able to get into houses because of the tax credit. But it remains that those sweet people were driving up home prices, making it difficult for investors to latch onto better-quality rental homes.

All that changes this week. The tax credit lapses on April 30th, so we should start to see a significant increase in available properties. Still better, it will be easier to negotiate deals with sellers, and prices should be more attractive.

The first round of the tax credit, last summer and fall, had a much more profound impact on the real estate market. For the kind of stucco and tile suburban homes I like to buy for investors, prices last fall looked like this:

September 2009: +3.15%
October 2009: +2.14%
November 2009: +2.22%
December 2009: -8.03%

That’s a $10,371 drop in average sales prices from November to December. Demand from first-timers has been lighter in this second installment of the tax-credit, but inventories of the homes I’m most interested in for investors have declined by 20% from the start of the year. More significantly, it’s the choice homes that are being cherry-picked, the ones that need the least work to make them rent-ready.

All of which means that we are on the cusp of a perfect storm for real estate investors: Good homes at very attractive prices. Money is still every cheap, if you need a mortgage, and rents are holding firm. There is no appreciation in sight, of course, but positive cash flow is easy from the first tenant.

I’ve written a guide about how out-of-state investors can make good money investing in Phoenix-area rental homes. If you want to discuss this in detail, you can phone me – Greg Swann – at 602-740-7531 or shoot me an email.

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Rental home investment possibility in Goodyear, Arizona: 15814 West Papago Street, Goodyear, AZ 85338

Short sale, very aggressively priced against the comps. The downside is that it might need more work than it’s worth.

Needs window treatments, paint, landscaping, repairs.

For more details, click here.

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Channel 15 News: “Arizona real estate being snapped up by Canadian buyers?”

Further notice on Canadian real estate investors buying real property in Metropolitan Phoenix, this time from Channel 15, ABC-TV News in Phoenix:

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Rental home investment possibility in Goodyear, Arizona: 15262 West Taylor Street, Goodyear, AZ 85338

A short sale offered at a deep discount on the comps. No telling if that price will sail with the bank, but there’s no commitment until the lender gives full approval.

Nice overall, needs carpet, paint, landscaping.

For more details, click here.

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Got Loonies? Barrack Obama is the best American president Canadian real estate investors have ever seen!

The Canadian Loonie is trading at parity with the once-robust American dollar.

If you’re a Canadian real estate investor interested in buying rental homes in Metropolitan Phoenix, it would be hard to pick a better time to make your move.

Depending on your point of view, the Barrack Obama administration has been either great or lousy for Americans. But there is no doubt that Obamas’s “creative” management of the American economy has been a huge benefit to Canadians and other foreign investors.

Even if you’re buying with dollars, don’t let that stop you. Bargains abound, and the prospects for the greater Phoenix real estate market are sunny — not to pun. I shop every day for premium value in potential rental homes in the Phoenix metropolitan area. If you would like to explore your opportunities, shoot me an email or give me a call at 602-740-7531.

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Rental home investment possibility in Goodyear, Arizona: 15246 West Jefferson Street, Goodyear, AZ 85338

It’s offered as a short sale, but, for now, lender-owned homes are a tough get: Too much competition from first-time home-buyers looking for that $8,000 tax credit.

Nice overall, a lot of tile but needs some carpet, paint can just be touched up in many places, some new paint needed, needs landscaping. No range, no fridge.

For more details, click here.

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