Sunday, May 18, 2008

Diamonds in the Rough

Conditions favorable for income property purchase

Current conditions in the real estate market are resulting in favorable circumstances for those looking to buy income property. As more subprime loans reset in 2008, anticipate another wave of short sales and foreclosures to appear, and with the Feds announcing that their priority is the economy, expect interest rates to stay relatively low.

Low interest rates and almost bottom-out prices are creating new investment opportunities and a healthy correction for the real estate industry. Investors have no trouble finding bread and butter properties that create cash-flow with a down payment of 20% or less. The only problem is that the best of these properties under $250k go pending very quickly, and investors are competing with multiple offers that are often above asking price and sometimes involve all cash.

As homeowners lose their homes, how is the rental market affected? We all require the basic necessities of life, and one of them is shelter. With the rise of foreclosures, the transition from homeowner to renter has become more common, and it’s been difficult not only on FICO scores, but on many egos. Most homeowners refuse to move out of their 2500 sq ft home into an apartment or condo, preferring to rent a house, and even then, most will not even consider anything under 1300 sq ft. These new renters are willing to pay a premium for a house that is clean and shows well. 

FICO: More than a number

Screening Tenants 

There may be some concern, as a landlord, that if potential renters defaulted on their mortgage, they will default on their rent. The truth of the situation is, the majority of transitioning homeowners were doing just fine paying their mortgage until their loan reset.  Their new monthly payments almost doubled, while their income remained unchanged; one can easily see how their new mortgage payments became an issue for them.

So how do you screen these tenants? Rather than focusing on the FICO score, look at their other trade lines, such as car loans, credit cards, etc. If the majority of their trades are in good standing with zero to very few 30, 60 and 90 day late payments, and/or they have only a foreclosure, you may be screening a sound prospective tenant who has a history of paying on time. On the other hand, unfortunately those who have tried to survive through a foreclosure nightmare by sacrificing their trades in good standing have made it almost impossible to qualify for a rental. So, if you decide to consider an applicant who has foreclosed, don’t neglect to verify your other objective rental standards. Although many have made a huge financial mistake that has cost them homeownership, we have found that many ex-homeowners still take pride in their homes.

Optimistic Outlook

With a struggling economy and record-setting foreclosures, many paint a picture of bleak times. For those with a more optimistic viewpoint, looking to purchase a new income property or fill a vacant one, there are many “diamonds” waiting to be found. The current real estate market, as with the rest of the economy, will undergo changes, but for those with an optimistic view, the current inflation can be looked upon as an opportunity that can include good prospects in buying rental property at favorable interest rates, along with an increase in rents.

By Robert A. Ortiz, President/CEO
For more information regarding
RNB Property Management, Inc. please call 916-435-2424 or visit us online at

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