The Four Pillars of Real Estate Investment

Hopefully, you’re someone who owns not only their own home, but also another asset that generates cash flow.  If you are a real estate investor, you’ll realize many benefits when done correctly.  The four pillars of real estate as an investment vehicle are:

  1. Cash flow:  Simply put, if you can rent the home or apartment out for more than it costs to pay the mortgage, keep it in good repair, and account for vacancy (months with no income, but still expenses) you have an asset that is making you money while you sleep.  If you want to invest in rental property, having an agent like myself who personally invests & understands the costs are more than (rent) minus (mortgage, taxes & insurance) is vital!  Things like vacancy, repair, capital expenditures, and management are important to consider, even if it’s a new home and you plan on self-managing.
  2. Mortgage pay-down:  Simply put, if you’ve answered yes to the previous criteria, your tenants are paying off your property a little bit every month.  If you’re on a 30 year fixed mortgage, your payment is the same every month.  Initially, most of that dollar amount is going to interest, but as time goes on, more of it pays down the amount you borrowed, called principle which by the end of year 30 will have a balance of zero.
  3. Tax-favored investment environment:  Residential improvement on property is calculated by the IRS to depreciate to nothing in 27.5 years (though the value of the land does not depreciate).  That means every year you can write off 1/27.5th of the amount you purchased the home for (minus the cost of the land), as well as the mortgage interest, property taxes, insurance and repairs.  Due to new tax law changes, the first 20% of your income is tax free.  Meaning if you made $10,000.00 in one year, the basis for taxation begins at $8,000.00 before those other benefits.
  4. Appreciation: We suggest buying for cash flow not speculative appreciation like so many did in the early to mid 2000’s (especially on Adjustable Rate Mortgages!).  However let’s dig a little deeper into how this works, as it is a potential benefit of Real Estate investment.  Let’s say you buy an investment property for 25% down; you’re into it for 1/4 of the cost and the rest is financed (with tax-deductible interest). If the property appreciates 5% in one year, the appreciation applies to the entire purchase price, not just the 1/4 of that you paid for in cash.  So this means your actual return on cash put down would be four times that.  For simple math, lets say your bought something for $100,000.00, put $25,000.00 down, and it appreciated 5% in one year; or $5,000.00.  Now that $5,000 is 5% of $100,000.00, but it’s a 20% return (or 4 times that) on the $25,000.00 you put down.

Understand that there is so much more to all of this, and this brief synopsis is only meant to start you thinking.  In no way are we offering legal, tax, or investment advice.  Please consult your professionals in those areas for specific advice as it applies to your situation.  If you’d like to speak with me directly about these or any other real estate related ideas, we’re happy to share more of our personal experience, contacts for professionals, resources & real estate sales experience with you. Reach me directly on our Contact page & let’s speak soon.


We Need to Talk About HOA’s & Las Vegas Real Estate

The majority of homes in Las Vegas have Home Owner’s Associations. This can be a benefit or a detriment when shopping for a new home, or selling one. In theory, the HOA will provide at a minimum, protection for your home’s value based on the homes around it being kept up rather than falling to disrepair and negatively affecting your home’s value. In reality, the HOA can be seen as an additional cost to home ownership that can vary in benefit as widely as buying a great or terrible stock of a company. In a way that analogy is very on point, as management of the HOA and it’s assets, legal status and financial standing can cover a wide range.

Using a Realtor who understands HOA’s is a great starting point in helping you find the right community to live in, but now your due diligence doesn’t have to end there. When you buy a home you’ll have an independent, qualified, licensed home inspector verify the condition of the structure and it’s components. You’ll have an independent, qualified, licensed appraiser verify the value of the home. When you buy in a HOA, you’ve previously received a sometimes 500 page resale package delivered to you before you close. It’s really been on you personally to read and interpret the bylaws, restrictions, and financial condition of the association your buying into. Sure a Realtor can give you their opinion of a community’s standing.. but they are not qualified or licensed to interpret legal documents for you. Read More


Bonnie Springs Development Near Red Rock National Park

Bonnie Springs Ranch, nestled between the quaint town of Blue Diamond, and Red Rock National Park in West of Las Vegas’ Valley has been contracted for purchase by developers. Many Las Vegas locals are upset, recalling their childhood memories of riding the train to the petting zoo and old mining town recreation. We are loosing a bit of Nevada history, a family outing that provides something of value to those looking for a fun family afternoon with a bit of historical culture for the area.

https://youtu.be/9q_5drSVtd0

We’re also loosing a bit of the pristine natural wilderness and the feeling of being ‘out there in the desert.’ One thing is certain, Las Vegas has always developed from the center, out. As time goes on, the newer suburbs are always being built out where ‘just a few years ago there was nothing but one road, and open wilderness.’ As you move to the center of the city, the older homes become a bit of a time capsule, as my broker, Jack LeVine at VeryVintageVegas.com employs a bit of tongue-in-cheek humor with our still relatively young city while promoting the benefits of these older homes. Things like bigger backyards, unique mid-century architecture, and central proximity to the vibrant energy of our entertainment capital. If you were to look at a maps of the Las Vegas area throughout the decades you would see these concentric circles of development.

Many families have been flocking out to Bonnie Springs Ranch for another visit, one last chance to enjoy the site of their childhood memories. We were among those visiting last weekend, taking our one year old son even though he likely won’t remember. We wanted to at least give him the experience while we could. It was great to spend the day with some friends & family enjoying the glimpse of Nevada’s past, but I can’t say I’m upset that the nature of development is taking it’s course. Maybe not everyone will be in the market for one of these 2-3 acre home sites, but on a macro level, if development weren’t to take place, competition for homes would be outrageous as supply and demand would drive home prices through the roof.

At the end of the day, what we have is a seller wanting to sell, a buyer wanting to buy, and we wound up with a situation that is much better than it could have been. This proposed development will be much less crowded that previous proposed developments in the area have been. Yes, we’ll be loosing a piece of our history, but the area will be much more open than even zoning would allow.

There will be restrictions on what can be built there aimed at preserving the natural beauty of the area, including a lack of fencing around each home site’s perimeter as is so common in our more dense subdivision tracts in town. Also at least 8.5 acres of the land is planned to remain public use. More of details can be found here: https://lasvegassun.com/news/2019/jan/10/planned-housing-at-bonnie-springs-wont-kill-charm/


Las Vegas Economic Forecast, or “I’m going to wait until the market crashes!”

I’ve heard it from a few people. One of them is sitting on over $130,000.00 in cash. Waiting for another 2008 market collapse.  The thing is, that money under your mattress, it’s loosing value every year due to inflation. Sure, real estate goes up & down cyclically but nobody knows exactly when those cycles hit.  There were a lot of investors in 2000-2005 who cashed out, assured we were at the peak.  I’m not telling you to time the market.

What I am saying is that the devaluation of your money is non-cyclical, and certain.  Grandpa always says when he was your age a gumball was a penny, not 25 cents.  Are you planning on buying a home, moving in, making it your own & moving out next year?  Probably not.  5-7 years maybe.  Long term inflation average between 1913 & 2013 according to InflationData.com is 3.22%.  Here’s the kicker.  Inflation of 3.22% doesn’t seem that bad to those who don’t understand the power of compounding, but as the article goes on to mention, that compound effect means an actual item that cost $100 in 1914 would now cost you $2,375.00.  As we keep printing money, homes will always be built from materials, on land, the cost of both will be affected by inflation.  So, if you need 200 2×4’s, 2,000 sq ft of flooring, etc. to build a home, and then the cost of the land.. it’s total price is all affected by inflation or the compounding devaluation of the dollar.

So yes, home prices will go up, and they will go down.. and then they will go up again but buyer’s aren’t getting homes at the prices of 30 years ago. What won’t change is your need for a place to live.  If you’re currently renting a decent 3 bedroom home in Las Vegas, and say you’re paying $1,600/month.. you’re paying $19,200/year and when you move you’ll have nothing to show for it but a U-haul bill.  If over that statistical 5-7 years you’d be in the place, you could have been paying $96,000-$134,400 towards ownership of an asset that will adjust with inflation (among other factors).  Yes, there are other factors that will adjust the value of your home than inflation, however when you look at something like gold, which some say is a solid hedge against inflation… there are other factors that affect the price of gold as well (such as stock market dips and advertisements on how safe gold is); and you can’t live in your gold.

“I’m waiting for the price of homes to drop due to rising mortgage rates!”  This is another one I’ve heard.  Thing is for most primary residence buyers, if there were a direct correlation of price reduction to interest rate hikes, the result would be no change in your monthly payment.  Unfortunately for those who haven’t dug a little deeper, there is actually an inverse correlation historically.  I could explain, but there is already a good article posted here on First American’s website.

The link above references a strong economy making housing less affordable.  As we look locally, the Las Vegas area economy is seeing over 13 billion in new capital investment, and people moving here (your competition when home buying) are younger and wealthier than before.  For more of these figures and data, see research posted here at California Credit Union League’s research on Southern Nevada.

So with a growing local economy, rising interest rates, rising home prices year over year, your savings devaluing annually, and about $19,000.00 you’re paying in rent each year, tell me again why you’re waiting to buy?

As you drive around the valley, I’m sure you’ll notice a ridiculous number of apartment projects being built.  Do you think the companies pouring millions into those projects didn’t do their homework?  They know plenty of people won’t take action today, and will be mailing them checks every month so we can ‘afford’ to live and work here.  Don’t be one of those income streams for these corporations.  Call or email me today and let us help you get on a better path to financial freedom and home ownership, Las Vegas.


It May Be Cold Outside, But January is a Hot Time To Buy Las Vegas Real Estate.

This time last year, our family purchased a new home in Mountain’s Edge, a great community in the South West of Las Vegas.  We were scouring the MLS for two months looking for a perfect place to call home for an expanding family.  Our first contract was on a home a bit bigger than we needed.  It was owned by a California investor who’d let deferred maintenance pile up and was unwilling to negotiate for repairs that would be needed.  The balcony had a crack in the flooring that the inspector said may or may not be a big issue.  Luckily it rained two days before the end of our due diligence period & I was able to bring a moisture meter to check the absorption.  Turns out the entire plywood surface under the stucco had absorbed so much water it would present and un-safe structural issue.  This repair alone would total about $10,000.00.  The rest of the drywall, plumbing, and stucco repair would be about another $10,000.00!

Because of this blessing in disguise, we had already been approved by our lender’s underwriter, meaning they had checked off all of the boxes they needed to be sure they could loan us all the money we’d need.  Once we decided we weren’t going to buy a home that the seller wouldn’t concede on cost to make it fit, we canceled the contract.  What we lost was the cost of inspection, and appraisal; about $1,000.00 in total.  What we kept, by navigating our contract properly was our earnest money deposit.. and our underwriting approval.

We took both and continued our shopping.  Viewing a few more homes with more clarity on what was necessary, and what was negotiable in our wish list. We found a home more nicely appointed and certainly more well cared for in the same area.. for $40,000.00 less.  Because we’d narrowed down what we really needed and where we wanted to be, we found our new home before the sign was even up in the yard (use the MLS, not Zillow!)  We submitted an offer with prior underwriting approval from the last deal that went south.  This isn’t the same as coming in with cash, but it is a close second meaning the likelihood of our contract coming to fruition is much better than those competitors who have only a pre-qualification.

By getting the home under contract in January when competition is less than the peak season, we were able to purchase the home before the busy summer months when it had already appreciated $15-$20,000.00 due to the competition driving prices up.  By having our financing in a more secure position than many others, our seller’s agent told the 4 other offers that came in to not even bother submitting.  Assurance we CAN close can be better than even a few thousand hypothetical more dollars to the seller (it’s not always about the highest bid!).

If you’re thinking of buying a new home at any point this year, the best time to start getting a plan together is right away.  There is a lot to consider and a lot to prepare, especially for your financing if you’re not planning to buy with cash.  A good Las Vegas area Realtor can assist you with this checklist so you’re in the best position to buy, be it this month or further down the road.  I look forward to hearing from you & seeing how we can best prepare you for a great transaction, and a smooth transition to your new home.  You can contact me at SteveChristmas@gmail.com or call me at the number listed in our Contact section.


Bonita Rental

Thanks for your interest in our downtown 3 bed/ 2 Bath rental home.  604 Bonita sits on just under a quarter of an acre & has new ceramic & LVP flooring through out.  This home boasts a large kitchen with double ovens, plenty of counter space, custom cabinets, a dishwasher,  and upgraded cooktop.  Appliances are included in the $1,600.00/ month rental price.

Large family room and living room provide plenty of living space, and a formal dining room is also featured.  All bedrooms are ample sized so all residents will have a comfortable space to call their own.  It is pre-wired with ADT security system, as well as exterior security cameras, and custom iron bars on all points of entry, making it one of the most secure living options in the centrally located downtown area.
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Buying a New Construction Home, The Right Way.

When you’re looking to buy a home, you have many options.  If you’re looking at a new construction home rather than a pre-existing one, you’ll be given an entire list of options, much like buying a new car.  Many of these upgrades offered by builders are places for them to maximize their profits.   By positioning themselves as a “one stop shop” they can make the process as simple as checking boxes with dollar signs next to them.  The simplicity of saying ‘I’d like quartz counter tops, this tile flooring, these cabinets, etc’ can be alluring, but you’re trading your time for top-dollar prices on materials & labor.

How many smaller items do you purchase without shopping around? If you’re furnishing your home do you walk into a store & “say I need a couch”, take what ever they bring out to your car & pay what ever they’re asking?  If you do, stop reading, I can’t help you.  These upgrades, while much smaller in price than say a car, or a home itself, can add up very quickly.  Perhaps you could assess the upgrades offered & select the ones most important to you, then buy the new home from a builder,  and get multiple bids from quality contractors that can even do a better job, with better products, for less money.  Doing this means you’ve added value to your home for less expense thereby creating net worth for yourself when it comes time to sell or refinance.

Now one more thing to keep in mind, is the idea of diminishing returns.  Meaning Read More


Buying a Home – The Financially Responsible Way.

If you’re like many people who just moved to a new area, or decided you’d like to stop making your landlord rich & start building some real wealth for your family, you may be getting excited about buying a home.  You’ve got a lot of things to consider before you jump into a car & start looking at something you saw online.

Firstly, are you qualified to complete a purchase?  If you haven’t spoken with a mortgage lender yet, you may be getting excited for nothing.  Do you know what your credit score is, do you know what credit score you’ll need to secure a decent loan?   How about a good loan?  There are many ways to get an idea of your credit score & credit history if you’re just getting started.  The easiest is by using a site such as CreditKarma.com.  Keep in mind, nothing is truly free, your credit information is provided to you here in exchange for the ads offering you credit cards & other loans.  Provided you can avoid any temptation to to get a card you don’t need (which may actually temporarily hurt your score, depending on your situation) you may be well served to keep an eye on your score & find ways to improve it before making a large purchase such as a home.

Once you know where your creditworthiness lies, it’s time to think about down payments & closing costs.  Yes, you may be able to get an FHA loan with very little money down.  Again, nothing is free, since March of 2013 this now comes with a PMI (private mortgage insurance) monthly fee that will now stay on your loan until it is paid off or refinanced.  That being said, if you can get into a property in an area where appreciation will result in your equity growing substantially over the next few years, your ability to refinance out of the FHA into a conventional loan may happen more quickly than if you were just paying down 20% of what you bought it for.

For example, I buy a $100,000.00 house with 3.5% down My loan would be for $96,500.00 . In the first few years, most of your monthly payments are going to interest, not paying down the principle much.   However if in a few years, appreciation has been good in the area, maybe my home is now worth Read More