Changed Littleton Foreclosure Picture Still Presents Opportunities

2-20-foreclosureThe Littleton foreclosure situation is a good deal different from what we were discussing a few years ago when the tidal wave of 7.3 million foreclosures and short sales swept the nation. When The New York Times “Dealbook” recently pronounced that the supply of cheap foreclosed homes in America is dwindling, it came as news to…well, no one.

Let’s face it: Littleton investors wouldn’t need to look up the latest statistics to guess that number of offerings would be down. The continuing rebound in home values, slow but steady improvement in the overall economic picture, and even just the passage of time has to mean that the glut of subprime-crisis-era foreclosures would have worked their way through the system.

But there are always new foreclosures, and for anyone hoping to make a bargain buy in today’s Littleton foreclosure market, the same qualities that brought post-crisis success still apply today:

  • Knowledge of (or willingness to research) comparable neighborhood values
  • Realistic appreciation of rehabilitation costs
  • Decisiveness (willingness to act swiftly)
  • Ready access to investment capital

The principal difference in today’s Littleton foreclosure milieu is that far fewer are available, and the difference between market value and listing price has narrowed. There may be fewer competitors to worry about, but some are still out there, as always. Today sees fewer institutional investors—in fact, some are leaving the market altogether, taking their profits and selling out to groups more committed to long-term property management.

Aside from the qualities described, there is still no blanket formula for landing the best Littleton foreclosure deal. But among other observations, there are two that are worth considering.

First, despite the lessening of the impact institutional investors previously had on the market, it may still be necessary to prepare to offer more than the listed price. The dwindling number of foreclosed homes tends to create an imbalance between supply and demand. If other buyers are offering higher amounts than the asking price, it can easily result in a bidding war situation. As always, by researching underlying values, the best investors avoid foreclosure buys that wind up being little more than break-even propositions.

Another wrinkle to be aware of is the possibility of future cost increases. For instance, it can transpire that an investor succeeds in purchasing a property significantly below its true value, only to find that a reassessment by taxing authorities raises its property tax bill through the roof! Canny investors prevent this surprise by finding out how the local Assessor’s office sets rates and schedules appraisals.

The Littleton foreclosure picture changes constantly. If you are interested in the investment possibilities—or are looking for a buy on your next home—don’t hesitate to give me a call to discuss the latest offerings!

Littleton Rental Property Choice Involves 6 Key Factors

2-20-rental-300x199Just about any investor on the lookout for a promising Littleton rental property has a number of assumed criteria in mind—often arrived at without bothering to sit down to list them. Remember, this is already a successful individual, usually with ample business experience—and always with the financial acumen to be able to make a substantial investment. For them, creating a written decision matrix really isn’t necessary.

Still, there’s a lot of literature on the web offering opinions on what are the most commonly agreed-upon factors for choosing a rental property. Quite a few “Top 10”s. Going over them, it turns out that some are only slight variations on a single theme, so I’ve boiled them down to a “Top Six.”

The first one is barely ever mentioned. It’s this:

1. Most investors have predetermined the price range that his or her Littleton rental property must fall into, but that can turn out to be a false step. If the goal is to garner the maximum return, it’s possible that some humbly-priced Littleton rental properties can actually turn a greater annual profit—even in absolute dollars—than some higher-end homes (particularly those that suffer extended periods without suitable higher-end tenants). So Number 1 is SET YOUR INVESTMENT GOAL. Cash flow return can be a very different goal than long term property appreciation.

2. LOCATION LOCATION LOCATION. This is the one that combines a half dozen factors, variously listed as Neighborhood, Proximity to Jobs, Amenities (parks, malls, gyms, movie theaters, public transportation hubs, etc.), Crime, Schools, and even Property Taxes. This factor might be chosen for convenience, as when a rental property investor wishes to be able to supervise the property; or for an expectation of value appreciation in a Littleton area which is gaining popularity. As everyone has had heard from time immemorial, L.L.L. is always important!

3. HEALTH OF THE PROPERTY. If the underlying structure and mechanicals have been intelligently designed and well maintained, this one is of no importance. If not, a thorough inspection with top-grade recommendations and cost projections is a must.

4. VACANCY RATES. The number of rental homes listed and the number of vacancies should be considered highly important for determining a promising rental property in Littleton. In newly expanding communities, sometimes you can spot a man parked near an intersection, clicking away on a counter as the autos pass by. He’s measuring traffic to see if the volume is great enough to support a gas station, or market, or mini-mall. The turnover of rental listings—how long rental properties stay vacant from week to week—can provide guidance about the same kind of information.

5. COMPETITIVE MARKET. The average rent amounts advertised for comparable properties can be the decisive factor for whether a rental home investment makes financial sense.

Of course, another factor that can make a big difference is the experience level of your Littleton Realtor®. That’s actually key factor #6—and (I hope) where I come in!

Four Reasons Englewood Real Estate Investments Beckon

1-21-realestateinvestment-300x195Good investors tend to be cautious souls. For those who prior to 2007 had never ventured into the realm of Englewood real estate investments, the ensuing downturn might have been enough to discourage any curiosity about that direction (even if their other investments had also suffered during the global financial crisis).

Nonetheless, at this juncture those same cautious investors might well assume that the value of real estate investments in Englewood have rebounded so substantially that it’s now too late to bother looking into them. But as National Public Radio has just pointed out, there’s an excellent argument to be made that conditions are now highly conducive for real estate—with real estate investments in Englewood being no exception. I could tick off three solid reasons that immediately leap to mind, but stand corrected: NPR points to four:

1. Employment.

Employers are hiring anew, and “when companies are hiring, would-be homebuyers feel more confident about taking on mortgage debt.” Unemployment rates have (finally!) come down to 5.6%, and with employers having added 252,000 jobs in December, consumer confidence is up nearly 20% over a year ago.

2. Prices seem more rational.

NPR points out that from January to October, prices rose 4.5% nationally; a “subdued” gain compared with the 11% burst of the year before. They project that the slower price appreciation may have set the stage for a “buying surge in 2015.” From an Englewood real estate investments standpoint, too, gains from last year’s run-up in equities markets combined with mortgage rates still holding below 4% would seem to create the key elements many investors would consider favorably.

3. Demand for rentals is high.

There is a healthy demand for rental accommodation across the country due to a tight supply of quality accommodations. USA Today tells us that between 2009 and 2013, the national vacancy rate for apartments dropped from 8% to 4.1%. Over the same period, the effective rent increased by 12% to $1,083. As one potential consequence vis-à-vis Englewood real estate investments, new landlords might expect to be more selective about the tenants that they choose. That would mean fewer headaches for landlords with troublesome and slow paying tenants. It might also portend that investment properties will stand vacant for briefer periods.

4. Millennials are sick of Mom’s basement.

NPR points to a Census Bureau report that says only 36% of Americans under age 35 own a home, down from 42% just seven years ago. The recovering employment picture might not enable young people to save up for a down payment for a while yet, but renting quality digs should soon be more doable than was previously the case. That could set the table for a continuing robust rental environment, with Englewood real estate investments benefitting proportionately.

NPR’s four reasons for optimism in 2015 are actually only the tip of the iceberg. If you have ever had the thought that it could be worthwhile to take a look at Englewood real estate investments, this is a great time of year to give me a call!

Year-End Review Shows Institutions Exiting Investment Picture

12-31-investment-237x300At 2014’s year end, it’s as good a time as ever to look back over the real estate investment landscape to see if any new trends or directions may have become apparent. It does look as if one development in the country as a whole may cause ripples that could affect Englewood real estate investment hunters in the coming year.

This is a development with roots that go back to the 2008 upending of the housing market. That triggered a glut of foreclosures, so that banks, already up to their vaults in turmoil, found themselves holding uncomfortably large numbers of repossessions. Bright-eyed executives at private equity firms and hedge funds were quick to spot this as a new opportunity: they could scoop up the repossessions for a song, rent them out, and then just wait to sell until the economy improved.

By 2013 The New York Times was reporting that the Blackstone Group now owned some 26,000 rental homes—with Colony Capital picking up more than 10,000 single-family residences. Warren Buffet had endorsed the idea; J.P. Morgan and Morgan Stanley had set up new real estate investment funds earmarked for the purchase of houses. Vague concerns about absentee investor landlords were waved away—this was like some kind of newfangled Institutional Investor Gold Rush, and as any ‘49er could have told you, in a gold rush, there isn’t time to worry about the details!

The main real estate investment targets centered on certain markets: Minneapolis, Atlanta, Detroit, Los Angeles, Englewood, New York, and Phoenix saw the most activity. In some regions, 2012 and 2013 saw bidding wars for repossessions and lower-priced housing, until by July of this year, The Times could report that in some areas “prices of the least expensive homes have more than doubled” in two years. As Forbes reported in 2013, “Wall Street has been bullish on real estate.”

Sellers (mostly banks) were happy. The institutional investors were happy. However, ordinary people looking out for the same kind of real estate investments found themselves competing with institutions. They were largely beaten out or priced out of the market.

By the end of 2013, though, those earlier “details” that had been ignored were beginning to rankle. Individuals whose real estate investments were hands-on propositions may not have had the same kind of problems, but a company like Colony American Capital had to report that it had found renters for only 51% of its properties. Many private equity firms and hedge funds began to report losses. As the CEO of Carrington Holding wrote, “We just don’t see the returns there that are adequate to incentivize us to continue to invest.” (Translation: Good-bye.)

With institutional investors bidding adieu to the areas they’d previously targeted, any repercussions felt Englewood ’s real estate investment landscape can only be to return to a more familiar market scenario—one where individual investors have the last word.

If 2015 will see you in the hunt for suitable real estate investments in Englewood , that should come as good news…as well as a good reason to give me a call!


When a Real Estate Investment Beckons, the Question to Ask

12-17-investmentIt happens: an all-but-irresistible Englewood real estate investment crops up when you’re least expecting it. You may have been actively searching for your next family home when you happen across a particularly good bargain—but it’s not a good fit for your own family. “Holy cow,” you think to yourself, “that’s a ridiculously great property at an absurdly low price!”

That can start the wheels turning. If you have the financial resources (or enough experience to know how to corral them), it can be the genesis of a lucrative real estate investment in Englewood. There is, however, one question to be asked before taking the idea to the next level.

It’s a question familiar to experienced investors in all walks of life. Whenever a phenomenal opportunity presents itself, it’s the first question that venture capitalists, stock market analysts, even small business entrepreneurs automatically pose. There are scores of ways this question might be worded, but they all boil down to pretty much the same kernel of an idea—which is to question the assumptions that make this new venture so seemingly irresistible. In short, at its core the question is simply, “What’s wrong with this picture?”

Applied to any real estate investment in Englewood, it’s a valuable opening question. Finding a great property at an unbelievable price—one that unmistakably flashes ‘profit!’ for either renting or reselling—does happen, of course. But it’s never wrong to take a step back for a reality check. Remember, there are alert competitive forces at play in the local market. Other real estate investors are constantly on the lookout for the next promising Englewood real estate investment opportunity.

You may well be among the first to notice a prime offering, but even so, you’ll be well served to look hard for a reason why it hasn’t already been snapped up. The fact is, there is a well-developed, reliable mechanism at play that should lead a seller to have a good idea of what his property is worth—and therefore, what to ask for it. The comparable property value numbers—the ‘comps’—make the market fairly well ‘regularized.’ They make greatly underpriced offerings rare.

Asking yourself what’s wrong here? is a shorthand way of reminding yourself to curb your enthusiasm as you exercise all the due diligence steps: verifying the condition of the property inside and out and spelling out title and lien issues and location, neighbor, neighborhood and historical matters. The curbed enthusiasm should last until those inquiries come up with the right answers…at which point, even the most jaded real estate investors tend to put the pedal to the metal. When everything begins to check out, they know a crowd will soon be forming!

It’s my job to help facilitate every phase of a good Englewood real estate investment—from discovery and investigation through offer, negotiation and all the documentation steps. It’s what happens when the answer to, “What’s wrong with this picture?” turns out to be, “Absolutely nothing!” If you’re looking to buy an investment property in Englewood this winter, call me today!

Buying a Home in Englewood While Avoiding a Money Pit

For many decades, Hollywood has made box office gold creating comic films about the hilarious possibilities that nightmarish house remodels present: from Mr. Blandings Builds his Dream House to The Money Pit (and even Under the Tuscan Sun), audiences delight in the shifty tradesmen and rotting timbers that define the genre.

If you’re an energetic Do-it-Yourselfer without much remodeling experience, Job One is to gather professional opinions to minimize the likelihood of costly discoveries. But before you even get that far, there are some general concepts that veteran turnaround investors know. These are disqualifiers that make it much more likely that buying a home in Englewood will be a shrewd investment instead of dollar demolisher.

Bad house, bad neighborhood

Is it worth buying a fixer-upper in a rundown or otherwise somewhat undesirable neighborhood? It can be tempting—especially when the asking price makes buying such a home a seemingly unbelievable value. But ignoring the ‘location, location, location’ truism is risky business. In many cases, such an investment may yield a diamond in the mud—a renewed structure that will never rise in value until the whole neighborhood rises in value (which could be never). Safer choices will be found in neighborhoods that don’t need remodeling themselves.

Bad house, good intentions

Buying a home in Englewood—especially when the neighborhood is fine and the price is more than right—can give rise to overly emotional decision-making. It can be tempting, when a property is almost okay, to make an instantaneous decision…but if you find yourself making excuses for this or that drawback, or finding yourself indulging in a bit of wishful thinking here and there, take a breath! Hopeful eyes may easily transform to fixer-uppers into mansions, but that’s the only time ‘easily’ will apply. Buying a home that needs major renovation is a probable mistake for home buyers who are uncertain about the money, time, or construction expertise that lie before them. A realistic mindset is the first ‘tool’ you need as you transform a fixer-upper into a winning investment.

Bad house, bad budget

Sometimes, buying a Englewood home as a fixer-upper seems exciting not for the challenge of the remodel but simply because you can’t afford that much house in any other way. Sure, fixer-uppers offer the tantalizing prospect of more house for less money—but down-to-earth budgeting for big repairs such as a new roof, a cracked foundation, or all-new floors will produce a realistic bottom line. Sometimes less house (but good house) is the call that yields a lot more restful nights!

Bad house, bad house

Finally, buying a house that seems like a fixer-upper—but would more accurately be called bulldozer fodder—is actually pretty easy to avoid. If your home inspector tells you about critical issues with a home’s bones (foundation, roof), infestations, or dangerous wiring issues, it’s most likely one of those.

Have faith: your home is out there! Remodels can be (in fact, often are) great investments. With a clear vision and a savvy team, you could be one renovation away from your dream home. Give me a call to check out the best of today’s Englewood prospects.

Investment Properties’ Unique Advantages Revisited

11-5-investmentIt’s the perpetual ebb and flow. Sometimes the popularity of investment properties in Englewood begins to rise, sending them toward the head of the pack against rival investment ideas. A Englewood investment property’s basic allure has always been its unique attribute as the most “real” of real goods (investment property is pretty close to the very definition of the word ‘substantial’). But as a haven for capital, its place in the pecking order of investment ideas depends a lot on the performance of the competition—especially stocks and bonds.

When the predicted long term returns from the stock market begin to look lackluster, or if market factors begin to seem more volatile than usual, investment property gains in comparison. When the uncertainty gauge starts twitching upward—and that seems to be happening lately—some of the underlying benefits Englewood investment properties offer get renewed attention. Items that register in the calculus—

Item: Inflation hedge

Because rental rates can rise with (and lately, ahead) of inflation rates in general, that constant worry is less of a factor. Investors factor in the real inflation rate (not always the official one) when they look at their portfolio’s performance.

Item: Cash flow

Properly managed, a Englewood investment property can produce ‘dividends’ that are substantial without diminishing the value of the principal investment. (There’s no board of directors to make sweetheart deals with management, either!).

Item: Predictability

Investors know that no one can guarantee what the future will bring—but it’s harder to picture a time when people won’t need shelter than one where they won’t be bidding up stocks or bonds. The rental performance of any one Englewood investment property may be more reliable than another (a mid-range apartment complex vs. a top-notch luxury residence, for instance); but in overall predictability, investment property rates highly.

And then there’s one that’s sort of counter-intuitive:

Item: Flexibility

Everyone is familiar with the most obvious inherent drawback to investment properties: namely, their relative lack of liquidity. You can sell stocks or bonds rapidly because their markets are comparatively transparent and active. Capital is ‘stuck’ in real estate until buyers appear. But what that analysis doesn’t take into account is that the equity manifested in Englewood investment properties can actually serve as a lower-risk springboard for financing other opportunities. Real estate can be relatively easy to borrow against since its value is less volatile than, for instance, that which buying stock on margin entails—especially when ‘iffy’ market conditions suddenly develop. Furthermore, the deductibility of mortgage interest makes this form of financing less expensive.

If this fall finds you reevaluating your own portfolio, I can show you some of Englewood’s investment properties that offer exciting possibilities. Call me!