Chris Dodd and Barney Frank have long since retired, but the namesake legislation they crafted four years ago is about to unleash sweeping changes in the mortgage and real estate markets.
According to real estate attorney Shari Olefson, who also wrote the book Financial Fresh Start, the changes took effect January 1st and few people even know about them.
“It’s not a bad idea to have less risky loans,” she says in the attached video. “The problem is folks are just not really ready for this. Banks have been preparing for this for a while, but folks on the street are just not aware of it.”
What she’s talking about is the coming dawn of the qualified or ‘’safe harbor’’ mortgage era.
“Here’s the problem. In order for banks to benefit from a ‘safe harbor’ against lawsuits by borrowers, the loans they issue now under Dodd Frank have to be considered qualified mortgages,” Olefson says.
Specifically, she says that means debt-to-income ratio cannot exceed 43%, points and costs cannot exceed 3% and banks must independently verify that a borrower “has the ability to repay” via eight different criteria.
While the all sounds logical and well intentioned, Olefson foresees some problems.
“Here’s the catch, about 20% of people who have mortgages right now, will not be able to get qualified mortgages. So what’s going to happen to those people is they’re going to have to go elsewhere for the new mortgage loans, or banks will have to price them more expensively because they don’t have these protections against lawsuits.”
What that means, she says, is that “it’s starting to sound like we may be seeing what used to be sub-prime loans again,” as well as the reality that more people will be pushed into the rental market.
Again, while this may be news to Mom and Pop, institutional money has been pouring into residential, single-family homes for years, and Wall Street is now poised to collect rent-checks until the real estate market rebounds enough for a suitable return on investment. As she frames it, private industry is stepping in exactly as Uncle Sam is easing out of the mortgage business.
Olefson also points out that all of this comes at a time when homeownership levels are already falling, from a peak of 69% to just 63% today. It’s a trend she fears could carry huge societal ramifications given the fact that 75% of American wealth has historically come from home ownership, or as she calls it, “essentially a forced savings account.”
Mess with that safety net, and it’s easy to see why she says the ripple effects of unintended consequences could easily outweigh the benefits of a four year old law.
What we think you will see and how we recommend you act on it in the coming new year!
As my real estate mentor always did tell me, “My opinion and a dollar will buy you a cup of coffee.” But for all those who care to listen, here is the way that I see the real estate market as a whole going in 2014, and some strategies that in my humble opinion could benefit our users as well as a little review of some of the highlights of 2013 real estate, and ListedBy.com specifically.
To start, I will give some background to my opinions and what I have done so far to capitalize on the market. At the end of the year in 2011 and the beginning of 2012 I told all of my friends, clients and all those who would listen that I strongly believed that the bottom of the market had
come and gone and that we would look back at 2012 and ask how much did we capitalize on it. If you look at the stats and all of the trends, that has proven to be true. If you are one of our long term members of the site you likely remember my predictions and strategy email blast we sent out last year at the end of the year 2012 where I predicted prices to continue to rise dramatically in 2013 and the stats seem to have backed that up and then some. In 2013 I had projected that you would specifically see BIG increases in home purchase prices in target areas such as California, and Las Vegas. From June 2012 to June 2013 I am thankful and proud to note that condos in Las Vegas were up an astonishing 80%!! You can read the predictions email from last year on our blog HERE if you want to review, and you’ll see that thankfully we did hit it pretty much right on. The market at that time was in a slow upswing nationally that has now turned in to a full on roar as we had projected, and in those target markets we mentioned the increase in home purchase prices has soared beyond even our expectations. This means that now more than ever the market is changing and evolving at a rapid pace, and this creates a BIG opportunity to make a lot of money, but also creates some risk, as the more fluctuation there is in a HOT real estate market, the more you need to really pay attention to your strategy and your execution of that strategy.
The 2014 Real Estate Market represents to us a still powerful buying opportunity, but we advise all real estate investors that are not as experienced to proceed with caution and please do NOT make the mistake of thinking this is simply another boom market that any idiot can buy a house, do nothing to it, and make a huge ROI. If you are experienced, have a strategy, know how to execute and have access to opportunities then THIS is the market for you, because a hot real estate market like this can turn a typical 23% ROI on a deal in to a 200% ROI literally in a hurry. I am projecting that the market continues to have a steady rise in 2014 and we are looking at the peak coming in the summer of 2015 and then either leveling off a bit at that point, or perhaps even crashing to some extent in 2016, or 2017 depending on what happens with interest rates and inflation. Having said that here are a few tips that hopefully help you a bit in the coming year:
- This is the type of market where you want to get more creative with your strategies, search for those off market deals, look at creative structures of the purchase.
- See the deals that others don’t see! When I look at a house, or any real estate investment I am going to analyze it probably from a completely different angle than most real estate investors because my strategy is so different. I can walk away from the negotiation table and have both parties feeling like they got a good deal because I am not focused on the same things the owner is.
- Have a set strategy and STICK TO IT! Don’t try to one week be a house flipper, the next week be buy and hold. It will mix up your buying strategy too much and you risk ending up with neither. If you are buy and hold long term, buy with as much leverage as you can and focus on rapid inflation to kick in at some point. If you are short term, focus all your energy and look for the off market deals, I recommend this awesome little site called ListedBy.com for that.=) Look at your marketing program for your properties after you buy them, and do NOT be cheap with your gameplan. If spending an extra $250 on marketing your properties gets you exposure to an extra 1,000 buyers and from that gets you an extra 5% on your purchase price YOU just made out BIG on that investment.
- This is a business like anything else and this type of market IS going to go up more in the coming year that is all but guaranteed the only question is can YOU capitalize on it. The answer to that question depends on how effective your strategy is and how much energy and time you have to dedicate to the execution.
- That leads me to my last silly little somewhat obvious bullet point which is EXECUTION IS KEY! I have bought apartment buildings where the guy was loosing thousands every month and we turned it around and made it cashflow positive within 2/mo. The difference wasn’t anything with the buildings, it wasn’t the tenants, it was simply we cared, we had a plan, we had a property manager that did their job and as a team we all executed. The plans are important but a great strategy does not guarantee you anything, the execution is what gets you the profits.
Having typed all of that happiness and my rambling as I tend to do I want to sincerely thank all of you once more for all you do as members of our site and our network here on ListedBy.com, and our groups on LinkedIn. YOU and your use of our site is truly what keeps us alive as a site and a company. In 2014 we look for more of the same success we had in 2013 to be continued hopefully the same with even more profitability and we hope that this silly little article might help at least some of you to benefit from the coming real estate market. You can see below some exciting highlights and thank yous for ListedBy for 2013 and some exciting things coming also.
ListedBy.com Thank Yous
- Special thank you to our advertisers that allow us to be free for our site members. We’re still a really small company and you guys help us grow and took a chance on us and for that we’ll always be thankful!
- EquityBuild – Members if you haven’t already you can download their free real estate investing eBook here to help you in the coming year!
- Auction.com – Free home valuation from our partners at Auction.com which is in my opinion worth it’s weight in gold!
- Quicken Loans
- Many Others THANK YOU SO MUCH!
- More than 250,000 hits to the site, and now more than 300,000 active members!
- Partnered with Foreclosure.com to add an extra 2 million foreclosure listings to the web site for our members
- Fastest growing real estate groups on LinkedIn with our 2 groups “ListedBy.com – Online Real Estate”, and “Real Estate Extreme”
- Made the cover of Realty411 Magazine
ListedBy.com Exciting Things To Come
- ListedBy.com version 2.0 to launch with a new site with exceptional features such as live chatting between members, detailed reports of members viewing your user profile and listings to generate targeted leads for agents and real estate investors
- ListedBy Concierge – The much requested program that helps real estate agents and investors get UNREAL targeted exposure for their listings to hundreds of thousands of buyers from around the world! See details HERE!
Thanks so much and sincerely to you and yours have an exceptional holiday and lets hope for the happiest, healthiest and most prosperous year we have had so far! There is strength in numbers and strength in sharing knowledge and helping each other as a group we can achieve exceptional things in the coming year and beyond as we grow. If there is ever any way that we can help you and support your business as you do ours please let us know.
CEO and Founder of ListedBy.com site
In an extended interview on Real Estate 360 Radio, ListedBy’s founder and CEO Stephan Piscano shares key information about the online auction movement and discusses specifics related to ListedBy.com.
With transparency and low cost environments being key drivers for buyers and sellers to explore auctioning residential or commercial real estate assets online, Stephan, an accomplished property investor in his own right explains how the free business model can benefit both buyer and seller, and how it can create a new opportunity for the representing real estate agent on both sides to capitalize on the auction trend.
In the interview Stephan offers to listeners an extremely compelling and complimentary downloadable eBook on real estate investing that is helping new and established investors generate double digit returns.
Listen to the interview at http://bit.ly/1eckLl7.
An indispensable tool for real estate professionals looking to estimate the current market value of a property, comparables have definitely experienced a growth spurt in terms of popularity. But as is the case with pretty much every online service, not all comparables tools are as efficient and accurate as they claim to be. So how do we know how to spot a good one? Here are a number of features to look for in a good comparables tool:
- Accurate data and frequent updates – no use in comparing properties sold years ago or looking at transactions with fictional or non-existing sales prices; make sure the platform you’re using for comps has a frequently updated database and that it collects its property records from reliable sources.
- Look for advanced filtering options – the very purpose of doing a comps search is to pull out prices paid for recently sold homes similar in size, characteristics, and location with your targeted property in order to determine its estimated market value. But as you already know, property characteristics can differ greatly, even for homes lined up on the same street. Advanced filtering—ranging from number of bedrooms to year built, zoning and more—will enable you to perform a more precise search, while also returning a more accurate result.
- You only need arm’s-length transactions for your comparables search – transfers and package deals are not relevant for your search and will most likely alter the estimated value of your property. So look for tools that allow you to choose arm’s-length transactions alone!
- User-friendly, personalized search tools – as more and more real estate websites have popped up in the past decade, competitiveness motivated them to create a number of useful, user-friendly tools and features in order to set themselves apart. Some service providers now allow you to perform comps searches by defining a polygon of your choice on a local map; you can even plot your comps results on a map so you can present it to a client afterwards.
- Additional services to complement your research. For instance, PropertyShark.com, a real estate research website, complements its offering of comparable services by allowing users to look at extensive property reports for each property included in the comps search, to tap into the area’s foreclosure stats, while also offering accurate data on neighboring school districts, FEMA flood zone maps and more.
So how do you know if a certain comps tool meets all of these conditions? Well, normally you wouldn’t have to do a lot of research, as most online real estate services providers are really proud to offer such complex and user-oriented tools; so they will advertise them heavily! Furthermore, each platform has a description of services you can refer to before deciding whether or not to use it.
When you meet Philip Chan, a pharmacist by profession, you quickly realize his passion for real estate. We recently caught up with him to get his views on the investment market specifically in the commercial real estate space, and to get a glimpse into his investment strategies.
Q: Philip, thank you for taking time to meet with us today. Would you please share a brief background with our readers on your career and involvement in real estate investing?
R: Thank you. I have been investing in real estate for ten years in both conventional and creative deals. My first commercial real estate deal was in 2006, involving a commercial lot in downtown Sacramento where I leased the space to a developer of one of the largest redevelopment projects in California. Three years ago I got involved in a mixed residential and commercial deal that cash flowed very well. But in 2012 was when I hit commercial real estate investing in a big way. 2012 was the bottom of the market and everyone was very fearful of commercial real estate. However, I analyzed the numbers and charts, and jumped in the deep end. That was one of my better moves I’ve made and it has now opened a lot more opportunities for me in both commercial and residential real estate.
One of my inspirations was Cherif Medawar. Cherif is a commercial real estate investment guru. I caught up with Cherif in Puerto Rico last year. Cherif spent some time showing me his commercial properties and what he did with them to build and accelerate value and potential. That was extremely inspirational. When I got back to California, one of the commercial deals near downtown San Jose I had been working on came through. The bank I was trying to get the property from gave me a deal at a significant discount at around $67 per square foot. Today that investment is worth about double that, just one year later, following a combination of both forced and market appreciation. At that time, other than Cherif, experienced real estate agents and investors said I was crazy to do the deal.
Anyone looking seriously at investing in the commercial space ought to take some time to listen to Michael Bull’s commercial real estate radio show at http://commercialrealestateshow.com. The link and additional resources, like real estate charts, are also on my website at www.mpcvilla.com. I relied on the show heavily as I was learning about commercial real estate – the radio show definitely helped propel me from a novice to an astute commercial real estate investor.
Shortly after the bank owned deal, I completed another 10,000 Sqft commercial property deal mostly retail and some office space, and took it over at the beginning of 2013 in a lease option agreement. I put 3% of the purchase price as option money and got the deal signed. The property was half empty and I was able to bring in a tenant quickly. I negotiated a few rent-free months with the owner which helped me recoup my option money. The investment has worked out great. I get a strong cash flow that generates more than 200% cash-on-cash return. When I exercise the option in three years, the down payment would have been accrued from the cash flow. I’ll be able to acquire the whole building without any of my money, and that’s excluding the benefits of any price appreciation on the asset. Basically, astute investors who apply the right strategies that take advantage of the downturn in the commercial real estate market can do amazingly well.
Q: Philip, what is your sentiment on the commercial space now that we have seen a major rebound in the market overall? Has the opportunity for investors passed or are there still good deals to be had?
R: I think there are still a lot of opportunities. My main geographic focus is the San Francisco Bay Area in California. But you can find many great deals elsewhere as well, since opportunities in the Bay area are harder to find. Seller financing and lease option deals and wrap around deals are out there. In this market, the owners in commercial are generally a lot more flexible than residential property owners, although the commercial market has already heated up quickly. I say take advantage of the opportunities now because they won’t last forever.
Today most investors look at residential. There is such a shortage of places to rent that rentals have gone significantly higher and vacancies have dropped to near historic levels. So residential is very hot and various market forces, including low inventory, increasing material and labor cost should continue to drive this uptrend.
At the same time, not as many investors are looking at commercial real estate, which I think is based on fear and lack of experience with commercial real estate. Within commercial there is office, retail, industrial and multi-family, and all operate a little differently. At some point the commercial space was very attractive and in high demand. That has now reversed but at some point it will re-establish its norm, which is already starting. In the mean time, investors have a wonderful opportunity to structure great terms.
Q: Of all the commercial opportunities you have been involved in, what do you think are the most lucrative and worth pursuing for new investors?
R: Each person’s comfort level and geographic location play a difference. The ability to align themselves with resources and expertise is important. It also depends on the deal. Retail for example is under performing. So if a person came across a retail property and it’s something where they can get an owner financed deal put together, or a lease option with some free rent and a low base rent, then lease it out and make money, I’d say it’s a good deal even though the retail sector is considered underperforming.
Most commercial real estate loans, other than the SBA loans for owner users, will require a fair amount more down payment, such as 30%, than residential deals. So more out of pocket and the loan terms are shorter, like 5, 7 or 10 years with 5 years fixed being more typical. So someone new to commercial real estate in my opinion has a generally lower risk opportunity and flexibility through lease options on a commercial property. In part because they are putting a smaller investment up front. The option allows the investor to gain control of the property for a small amount with the legal right to own it/purchase it later on. You can lease it out or sell your contract, if structured accordingly.
Another thing investors should keep in mind is that residential real estate as a vacant asset commands a higher value while commercial is the opposite. Get a vacant commercial deal structured well and fill it with tenants and see the value skyrocket.
Q: What parts of the country do you see more opportunity for commercial deals over the rest of the year and into 2014?
R: It will depend on the risk tolerance and what investors want. Hard hit areas like California and Florida will continue to grow and appreciate. I have never invested outside California but I think if I were to go out of state, it will likely be a commercial deal. I would go for larger corporate and well recognized brands as tenants, which tend to stay in one spot for a long time. They pay all taxes, insurance and maintenance. That I would categorize as an opportunity for a very secure income stream with low maintenance and it would be a great option, although competition for such deals is strong.
In terms of specific areas, based on what I’ve learned, you want to go to areas in high demand. Properties in lower demand areas will take a lot longer to find tenants. Commercial business districts are higher demand areas, as people and businesses tend to want to be close to those areas. Market trends also play a factor. With industrial properties, trends have been changing. Corporate tenants like Amazon and others want very new high end properties so they can run their businesses more efficiently. In the end it comes down to getting a property at either a discount and/or with great terms. An active investor should be able to make such deals work.
Q: Do you see more opportunities in residential or commercial over the coming year?
R: I’d say an investor ought to consider both residential and commercial. I’d look at both but in the end it will depend on the deal. As long as you are active in the market, you’ll always find deals no matter what the market situation is like. Interestingly, in this down and now improving market, some opportunities today are even more profitable than deals I transacted during the market rise to 2006.
Q: You have been applying the lease option strategy to many of your investments in residential and commercial real estate. How does the strategy work?
R: A lease option is a great way for an investor to get involved without too much money. It’s a lease or tenancy like renting, and the option is an additional agreement that gives the tenant buyer the option to buy the property without being obligated to do so. Within the option you have tremendous flexibilities, if structured right. Alignment of incentives among both parties makes lease options a great strategy.
Think about a car. If a car is rented out, the user won’t typically care for the vehicle very much. But if it is a lease to own, the driver will more likely take care of the car and be more responsible. Expand this concept to an even larger asset: real estate. The tenant may even improve on the property along the way, knowing that one day they may decide to buy it. In the end if the tenant doesn’t exercise the option, the owner keeps the option money, plus any tenant buyer improvements to the property. As a seller, you can even get a rent premium if you give out a lease option. 10-20 percent rent premium, plus a lump sum upfront would not be out of the ordinary. If the tenant buyer completes the transaction, everyone is happy. However, given that a majority of the tenant buyers do not exercise the option to buy, the owner is at a huge advantage. Imagine repeating the lease option cycle over and over. The same thinking applies to both commercial and residential assets. In summary, the strategy is all about relatively low out of pocket money with low risk and lots of flexibility.
Q: What should a new investor in real estate know about lease options? Give us some of the watch outs, do’s and don’ts.
In concept a lease option is pretty simple but the structuring and execution of it can get a little more complex. Each deal is a bit different because each landlord is different and their situation is different. One thing to keep in mind is protecting your interest as a tenant buyer by ensuring the deal is financially sound. Don’t acquire a property that eats you up financially. So you’d want to request a proof of payment such as on the mortgage and taxes for example, maybe quarterly. At least such due diligence with on going tracking gives you early notice on key things that may be going off track. When you exercise the option to buy, that’s when it becomes a traditional sale. When in escrow you make sure the property is transferred free and clear (marketable title).
I am still learning, applying and building. One of the biggest dangers about commercial real estate to watch for is long term vacancies. If the investor cannot withstand an empty commercial asset for at least one year, they should likely not get involved. That’s because some properties may stay vacant for quite a qhile, even as long as 4-5 years. However, you just don’t want to be in a deal like that. If you structure the deal right, you should be able to lease the asset at an attractive rent, in worst case scenarios and still make money or not be out of pocket until the asset appreciates and demand increases in the area. If you have that ability, then the deal would likely make sense. The key is getting the deal terms right. Commercial real estate involves a business to business arrangement, unlike a consumer residential deal. The mentality is completely different and the landscape is totally different. Businesses are usually more financially sound and publicly traded companies and big name brands make for great long term tenants. Deals around such tenants can get pretty exciting.
Philip Chan, pharmacist and active real estate investor, started his real estate investment business in 2003 (10 years ago). Philip conducts both creative and conventional real estate transactions with residential and commercial properties. Philip entered his first commercial real estate deal in 2006 and has been extremely active with commercial properties since 2012. One low cost way for investors to get involved in real estate is to use lease options, a strategy Philip has successfully used for both residential and commercial real estate in the San Francisco Bay Area.
To obtain Philip’s 10 Step Lease Option Protocol, visit www.mpcvilla.com, send him a request by e-mail or contact him by phone. Let Philip know if you are also interested in working with him on deals. You can also check current deals Philip is marketing on ListedBy, at http://listedby.com/Listing/Browse?Seller=mpcvilla.com or other commercial real estate auctions and over two million foreclosures at http://www.listedby.com/listing/browse.
Solving Real Estate Problems Creatively and Positively
- Cash. Lease Option. Benefits.
No doubt about it: mobile technology helps us save time and increase productivity; and while some industries may not see an immediate need to turn to such technological advancements, savvy real estate agents know better.
With both buyers and sellers now having access to countless ways of researching properties and inspecting the local real estate market, agents often have to step up their game and find new ways to stay ahead. Smartphone and tablets may assist them in this quest, but in order to truly benefit from the mobility these gadgets have to offer, the property information already available must be properly adapted.
Here’s where responsive design steps in, ensuring that a website is optimized for a great deal of devices, operating systems, and browsers, while also retaining all of its design features. Basically, responsive design shuffles and realigns content to fit the screen of the device, so that the user can easily access the most important features of a webpage and find the most relevant information regardless of the screen’s size.
This is exactly what PropertyShark did. Catering to the needs of users looking to get their information on the go, PropertyShark.com has recently updated its website design so that all available property reports can easily adapt to any type of mobile device. With home buyers now being able to research homes on their own, PropertyShark acts as a secret tool for all real estate professionals, offering immediate access to a great deal of property information and instantly boosting an agent’s credibility.
Offering in-depth reports for over 90 million properties around the U.S., PropertyShark provides real estate agents with instant access to wealth of property data, gathered from hundreds of public and proprietary sources. Depending on the area, users can find detailed property characteristics (when the property was developed, who owns it, its exact characteristics, up-to-date sales history, property value estimates, information about current zoning, air rights, and much more) as well as information on title documents, property ownership information, FAR, permits, tax assessment, all neatly gathered in one place.
Same goes for many other PropertyShark services, including its up-to-date foreclosure listings, pre-foreclosures, comparables, a real estate lead generation tool, even REOs for New York City. To find out more about what PropertyShark.com has to offer, check it out via laptop, desktop, smartphone or tablet.
And PropertyShark is merely one of many online providers of real estate services, all betting on the changing scenario of the industry; fortunately, this works in favor of real estate agents, providing them with countless tools meant to help them stay up-to-date at all times, whether in the office or not.
No matter how hard anyone tries to convince themselves, the same people who look at their computer screens or smart phones today are the same people who would have spent that same time watching TV or listening to the radio, a few years back. They react the same way and internalize information the same way.
So the base a brand is targeting today is pretty much the same it used to target ten years ago. Except the channels for delivering the message have evolved.
Building a solid brand has always required the application of fundamental building blocks. Thinking, strategies and activities that have stood the test of time and remain central to this day.
The challenges of building a powerful brand like Coca Cola, BMW and other mega brands include the relative shortage of marketing professionals with the background and experience that can only be cultivated around the offices and boardroom tables of marketing giants like these and the multi-national advertising agencies that service them.
Knowledge imparted throughout these organizations represents many, many decades of experience, trial, error and learning. You just don’t weave your way around this kind of experience coming out of university with a marketing degree. Or a diploma that may be taught by individuals who do not have the depth of a proven brand builder who spent decades building mega brands around the world.
Today’s PPC (Pay Per Click) driven thinking, combined with widespread lack of deep marketing experience, compounded by an instant gratification generation and mentality are making it extremely hard to build true brands and brand equity.
PPL (Pay Per Lead) has now gained serious traction too. A click through is no longer enough as a measure of campaign ROI. Marketers are calculating and evaluating an advertising medium based on cost per lead, or even conversion. If I don’t sell this many tools, then your medium doesn’t work!
The worst part is that as marketers we tend to forget that the concepts we create and the ideas we generate are critical to advertising and marketing results. Click throughs, lead capture and conversion.
At ListedBy.com, a growing online real estate auctions marketplace, we constantly remind ourselves of these basic fundamentals as we work to build the next mega real estate venue on the Web.
A new age marketer, reporting to a superior who relies on the young professional’s ‘knowledge’ of new Web technologies and trends, may find it easy to default to blaming the advertising medium or channel, before they look internally at their own work. Like their landing pages, lead capture incentives or their lead incubation and conversion systems.
This spells trouble for the brand and the organization over the long haul.
Unless we put a stop to promotion driven PPC / PPL advertising and focus on messages that build brands, we will continue to drive our brands and sales primarily based on price and events. That is a recipe for failure. And often, disaster.
Price and promotion driven marketing is the antithesis to building a brand that stands for value – and the test of time.