One of the first questions you need to ask yourself when you’re buying an income property is: Am I an investor or am I a homeowner? While those two terms are not mutually exclusive for everyone, they are for most people.
Most folks like you with enough cash to buy an apartment building don’t want to live in an area that is “up-and-coming” or not yet gentrified. But you are willing to invest in them because that’s where the deals are. Why are there solid investment deals in up-and-coming neighborhoods and not “good” neighborhoods? Because in good neighborhoods you’re competing with homeowners.
It’s pretty simple, I’ll admit. Today I had a meeting with a homeowner who wants to sell his West Hollywood duplex, and I described why the same principles of GRM don’t apply to his duplex the way they do to my upcoming fourplex listing in Rampart Village. In West Hollywood, investors are competing with homeowners, who are paying for the privilege of living in the neighborhood. In Rampart Village, investors are competing with other investors, who are all in it for the same reason: money. If the numbers don’t make sense, they won’t buy it. In West Hollywood, numbers matter less because it’s harder to put a number on a lifestyle choice.
So while it feels good to have a property in a neighborhood where you would live, instead imagine whether you could live in that property 10-15 years from now. Because the homeowner I met with today will sell his duplex for $1.2M. Back when he was an investor and Melrose was as sketchy as Rampart Village is now, he bought it for under $500k.Read More
When a bank owns a property due to foreclosure, different rules apply. Here’s one worth knowing:
Sometimes, banks won’t collect rent from tenants while they own an income property. Sometimes they do; it depends what their priorities are. When you enter escrow for an REO property, find out whether the bank has been collecting rents. If they haven’t, you, the new buyer, can collect all past rent not paid by the current tenants.
Other than cash, what does that buy you? Leverage. If these tenants are low paying tenants, and your priority is to relocate them in a rent controlled building, the money they owe you in past rent is leverage in your negotiation to relocate them. Imagine thinking you don’t have to pay rent for six months and then you find out you owe $4,000 in back rent. If you don’t pay you can be evicted. Would you rather scrounge up $4K or get paid $4K to move somewhere else?
Man, I know this sounds harsh and most tenants aren’t in the real estate business like you are. But when you’re making the biggest financial decision of your life, it’s important to know all of the rules involved, and which of them may be on your side.
Sorry for not posting in a little while, but I just got into escrow with a client on an awesome fourplex in Virgil Village near Silver Lake. This is a FHA client, which makes me even prouder of our accomplishment! My client was aggressive in his offer and we were patient in our hunt. That’s how you make FHA deals happen.
While I’ve become the go-to agent for FHA deals at our brokerage, I don’t know if this is quite my future. I do love a good challenge, and while helping those with less cash is something I feel passionate about, the amount of work to get into escrow is about three times that of a conventional loan, and probably ten times that of cash buyers. And because FHA buyers in L.A. all look at the same deals, it’s hard to take on more than one buyer at a time.
Meanwhile, my broker Moses Kagan is writing up a storm over at kagansblog.com – check out some of his latest posts, too. And tell him I sent you. ;)Read More
While interest rates have dropped back down to a respectable 4.5% for investors, there just aren’t that many good deals out there. I’ve seen a few 8-unit buildings with around 11.7 GRM, which can be a decent investment, but nothing that screams goooooaaaalll or home run or whatever sports metaphor you like. If you’re interested in making around 6% on your money and you have about 250K-300K to invest, let me know because there are some decent deals.Read More
Well, the end of an historically low interest rate era has come. My recent client in escrow just locked in a 3.75% interest rate, but he’ll be the last for a while. Rates for FHA have climbed to about 4% and for investors at about 5%. While this might change our game plan, it also means a lot of middling, half-interested, opportunistic investors have dropped out of the market. That will make prices drop and opportunities for committed, patient buyers rise. I’m excited to see how the market reacts and I’ll keep you posted.Read More
Looks like we played our cards right, because we got into escrow without an auction nor a duel! Upon hearing the good news, my client asked when he had to deliver the OMD.
“You mean, the EMD?” I asked.
“Oh, sorry, I guess you don’t know the band OMD. Generational gap.” More than just a generational gap, my friend.
My client just emailed me this video to clarify:Read More
With income property, you, the buyer, often cannot inspect the subject building(s) before the seller accepts your offer. The reason is that people live there, and the owner doesn’t want to disturb her tenants with serious and non-serious buyers alike traipsing through their homes. Understandable. You can read about this in my entry Subject to Inspection.
A good listing agent will schedule for us to see the interior of the property the same day or day after your offer is accepted, and before your earnest money deposit (EMD) is due. That way, he doesn’t have to open escrow and take the property off the market if, for some reason, you hate the interior and want to cancel escrow immediately.
Well, the listing agent I’m working with now has taken this idea one step further. He’s asking his top two offers to do our preliminary interior inspection before our offer is even accepted. This could be okay, but it isn’t preferable. My first concern with this preemptive inspection is that there may be something wrong with the interior that the seller is extra worried we’ll balk at. Secondly, having the two top buyers and the seller in one place is very strange (and a little tactless). Perhaps the listing agent hopes we’ll hold an auction at the property, bidding each other up? Or maybe he’s just buying time, expecting another offer to come in higher and with more favorable terms while we’re checking for water damage.
While more than likely this is a good faith measure, this unique inspection feels a little Old West to me, and my buyer and I are bringing our figurative guns. Because the seller will be there, my buyer is bringing his EMD check, and I’m bringing our offer on good old-fashioned paper for the seller to sign. Oh, and a quill and ink bottle. Should be fun.
Read the UPDATE!Read More
I almost never advise my buyers to look at buildings in Santa Monica, Venice, West L.A., Beverly Hills or West Hollywood because rents there just don’t justify purchase prices. You’ll almost never cash flow with an apartment building in those areas. What does that mean? If you want to live in an apartment building in that area, don’t buy it, rent it.
However, if you want to live in East Hollywood, Mid-City, Echo Park, Silver Lake, or even farther east, buying is your best bet. Rents in certain pockets are just as high as Venice and Santa Monica, but they can sell for half as much.
So what if I want to live on the west side but I still want to buy a building? Simple: buy on the east, live on the west. The west side is a renter’s market. The east side is a landlord’s market. While there’s a certain pride of ownership in owning property in your favorite westside neighborhood, it’s not the most financially sound decision.Read More
Nowadays, with so many buyers, we’ll often see multiple counters requesting “best and final offer.” This is an interesting negotiating strategy because it’s basically saying: we’re too lazy to request something tangible from you, so just tell us what you’ll pay now that you know how many bidders there are. Then we’ll pick one.
When I get this kind of counter I know the seller is not a business person, but rather someone who wants to be done with their property. And that makes my job easier and harder at the same time.
On one hand, my negotiating ability is taken away…mainly because the agent is not negotiating. So I can’t do what I normally do and read the agent to steal the deal for my client. On the other hand, the offer falls on my client’s lap now. What Moses says is: Decide what price you will be happy to walk away from and bid one dollar less than that.
At this point, I go over the spreadsheet with you, look at comparables, and help you figure out what you can afford given the property’s pros and cons. Then, the number is up to you.Read More
I imagine if I had been in real estate 10 years ago, I would be doing a lot more driving. I write up, on average, 2 offers per day, and getting signatures and initials on all of these offers would mean adding many more miles on my car than I use now. Yes, gas would’ve been cheaper, but I would have used more of it with a less efficient car. Either way, Docusign has helped the environment. Docusign is a website that allows you to sign a document simply by clicking. I upload the offer to the site, tag where you’re supposed to sign, and you just click away. It definitely helps when you have to send in offers ASAP in this market.Read More