Advice for the beginner investor
Novice property investors should be cognizant of these quick and simple property investment tips. They will keep you pointed in the right direction. Always refer back to them when you hit a snag in the process… (It also makes sense to try to memorize them, and recall them as you begin searching for new investments to acquire.) In this way, you too, can become a savvy, experienced property investor.
Purchase for retention
Make sure you always purchase rental properties for retention purposes. The longer you hold, the better equipped you’ll be to take advantage of long term appreciation in the property. You’ll also concurrently be writing down any mortgage note you’re paying off, thus increasing your equity valuation in the property. If you make a plan for purchasing a property at set intervals (for example, every couple of years – or yearly, even better), then you’ll be able to slowly accumulate a portfolio of properties (your “stable”) that will continue to throw off ever-increasing amounts of cash flow, as well as capital appreciation.
The power of leverage
Make sure you take advantage of leverage, when possible. While making all cash offers on properties may be advantageous to netting the best price on any one property, it is not advantageous to utilizing other people’s money to grow your investments through the concept of leverage. If you can obtain a mortgage, by all means do so. The greater the loan to value ratio the lender will allow, the better. Just make sure you don’t overextend yourself, and that you’ve double-checked your expense numbers properly. You want to ensure you have a comfortable positive cash flow on any property you’re thinking of acquiring.
Beware the bargain basement
While the concept of “stealing” a house in an auction or other competitive bid situation sounds really appealing, always be wary of the cost of a “steal.” Finding a great bargain in a poor location is like finding fool’s gold: you’ll end up paying for it down the road. Long term difficulties with obtaining market rent, high vacancy rates, and terrible capital appreciation tend to make that “steal” a steal for the seller! So be very, very careful when a deal feels too god to be true. It probably is.
The location axiom
Naturally, more desirable neighborhoods will yield greater upside potential in terms of capital appreciation. This does not mean buying a property in a rundown area is bad. Just be aware that a cheaper price for a lesser neighborhood will require you to understand the vagaries of dealing with the neighborhood…which will probably be run down in five or ten years, or whenever you will be selling the property. Keep your sights set realistically. If a bad neighborhood is all you can afford, make sure you don’t expect much from the property n terms of its capital appreciation over time. Or, at the very least, buy in a changing neighborhood – one that’s experiencing the start of some gentrification. (Hint: let the changing face of local stores be your guide here.)
Cash flow is great, but…
Make sure you always keep an eye on the capital appreciation rate in any given area you’re searching in. It’s the holding and growth of the marketplace of houses surrounding your building that will add value to your property in the long run. Be very mindful of this fact. Your year-to-year cash flow is obviously important to paying the bills and allowing yourself a profit on a regular basis. But it’s when you are ready to sell the building that most of your profit should be made…
Create an individualized investment strategy, and stick to it
Critical to this concept is that you’ll need discipline. In addition, you’ll need a plan. And most importantly, you can’t have discipline and a plan without also being scrupulously devoted to research and numbers-crunching for any potential property you are looking at. Simple math errors, not doing total due diligence on a property, accepting seller information only – these are like death to a property investor. You cannot tolerate mathematical mistakes. If you know this is not your strong point, then enlist the aid of a partner – or at the very least, seek the outside help of a trusted, math-oriented friend. Either way, this is the simplest way to mess up. So don’t.
photos courtesy of worldpropertychannel.com, images.cisdata.netmlsNY, pooboy.com, dminotes.com