The phone as of late has been ringing off the hook with investors looking to claim their piece of the inclining real estate market that we are experiencing. On the surface this is a great thing. The problem is that everyone has the same idea, thanks in part to the plethora of HGTV flip shows we see. Everyone wants to quit their job and flip homes for a living. Now I believe that this is entirely possible in certain markets, particularly the buyers market we just came through. Two years ago you could negotiate a great deal with an anxious seller. Now the market has shifted to the advantage of the sellers, homes sell quickly and for top dollar, often for bidding wars as inventory has dipped to near 2007 levels.
A successful flipping venture requires you to find a distressed property and purchase it at a deep discount. You then must renovate and control your costs to eventually sell at a new premium. The challenge now, is that anything cheap goes into multiple offers and contractors if you can find them at all, don’t do anything “for cheap”. This makes executing on budget and on time a real challenge. Again not impossible, you are just swimming against the current.
That aside, I want everyone reading this column to understand that you don’t flip your way to prosperity. Anyone who has created serious wealth through real estate has done so by holding properties that cash –flow. Now here comes the good news, this market that may not be so great for flippers, is a hell of a market to be a landlord in. In Kelowna, you have near a zero vacancy rate, which means you can have your pick of quality tenants willing to pay premium rent for decent units and you have mortgage rates that just got even lower making your mortgage payments well below what you can rent for.
“But AJ, I want to showcase my amazing design skills” you say, “I want the big before and after reveal.” No problem, buy a home that needs your TLC, showcase your design skills and impress the heck out of your friends, realtor, appraiser and most importantly the lucky tenant that will occupy the property for the next few years.
With a buy fix hold strategy, you still profit from your hard work, in fact you get even more sweat equity, because you don’t pay real estate commissions or capital gains tax. All of the value increase would be immediately available to you on a line of credit.
Let me illustrate:
You purchase a 5 bedroom home on a decent street for $400,000 with 20% down you invest $80,000 of your hard earned savings into the property when you purchase. You wisely spend $20,000 on the home updating floors, paint, trim, fixtures etc and raise the value of the home to conservatively $450,000. This is doable even if you paid market value for the home on the way in. This may sound like a profitable flip, but If you sold now you would at best break even after fees and carrying costs. A better plan is to hold and utilize a STEP mortgage. To remain a conventional mortgage you can access up to 80% of the appraised value.
(80% x $450,000 = $360,000)
Since your original loan was for $320,000, this means that you can draw $40,000 out. You spent $20,000 to profit $20,000. The cost to access the profit is an interest only payment on the 40k at 2.75% which equates to $91 dollars per month.
By investing in the cosmetics you attract a high quality tenant willing to pay a minimum of $500 more per month than the time warp you started with.
Example: A 5 bedroom home with wood paneling and stinky old carpet would rent for approximately 1800/mo. The same home with new floors, paint and fixtures will fetch 2300/mo. all day long.
Your annual net on the $40,000 you pulled out tax free is nearly five thousand dollars in increased revenue. ($6,000 increased annual income subtract $1,092 annual interest cost.)
So not only do you make a 100% return on the investment and receive it tax free, your $20,000 invested continues to return $5,000 per year infinitely. If all of that wasn’t sexy enough on its own, you get the massive benefit of the tenant paying down your mortgage to the tune of $10,000 per year. You get to participate in the market appreciation we are seeing this year of at least 5% approximately another $20,000.
Now add it all up:
You created $20,000 profit on the renovation
You received $20,000 in market appreciation after a year
Your mortgage got paid down by $10,000
And you saw positive cash flow of $5,000 per year even after hiring a property manager
That’s $55,000 on an $80,000 investment!
Do that twice this year and you create the magic $100,000 per year that you wanted to make only in this example you aren’t spending it as it comes. You are building an impressive net worth.
This is an important distinction and to be candid, a life lesson I learned from watching my dad in his real estate dealings over the years. To his credit, he was an amazing flipper, he made well into the 6 figures renovating ordinary homes every year that I could remember even long before I became a realtor. He was masterful at adding value and creating equity, but because he didn’t hold any of the properties, he never realized the full promise of real estate investing. He needed his profits to live so nothing ever accumulated.
By adopting a Buy – Fix – Hold strategy you can have your cake and eat it too. You will utilize your god given talents to design wonderful spaces adding all kinds of value to your properties, but you will also realize the dream of building a portfolio of rentals that will, before you know it, be paid off providing a steady stream of cash-flow that will truly allow you to quit your job, not just trade it in for a more stressful one without the guarantee of a pay check.
A quick tip for knowledge thirsty folks out there, of the hundreds of books and courses I’ve devoured over the years, the book HOLD remains the authority on the strategy discussed in this article.