Investing in 2023: Three Things to Do This Year

Markets are always changing. Going into 2023 many investors are looking for answers for the year ahead and want to know how to invest in a correcting market. While no one knows for certain what the year will bring, there is one thing we do know — there will be opportunities to invest in 2023. Investors should always educate themselves on their local market and make strategic decisions. But what else should you do this year?

Don’t overpay to get a deal!

Let me repeat it for those who just glanced over that — DON’T overpay to get a deal! In the heated seller’s market of the last few years overpaying to get your foot in the door was becoming common. In a correcting market overpaying just to get a deal is setting yourself up for problems, especially with very little equity (or none!) to cushion from market swings, unforeseen repairs, additional holding, and any number of issues that can arise. Do not let a fear of missing out lead you to make rash financial decisions. There will be other deals out there, and if you build a business on overpaying you may not be in a position to buy the good deals once you find them. 

Stack your capital.

We’ve all heard it before, and in this uncertain market it still stands as true: cash is king. If you have the ability to save cash now, do so. You never know when a great opportunity might come along and you’ll be able to secure it because you have enough cash on hand to make an offer. If you can’t beat your competition on price, you can compete by having the money to make a deal happen. If you have cash-flowing assets in your portfolio or are cashing in equity, be sure to stack that aside and be ready to invest in what opportunities this year will bring.

Build your network.

One of the most important things in investing (in every market cycle) is to build your network. Having a strong network will help you learn more about the industry, find partners with skills that complement yours, and get advice on how best to invest your money.

Investors who are successful at building their networks have one thing in common: they’ve worked hard at it. They’ve made it a priority and spent time reaching out to people they don’t know (or barely know), asking them questions about themselves and their businesses or careers — and then listening carefully as those people answered those questions. And not just any questions: good ones. The more you know about the people in your network and what they do, the more valuable they’ll be as resources when you need advice or help with something specific.

Four Habits to Become a Millionaire

For many people, the beginning of a new year is an occasion for taking stock and considering one’s financial situation. What do you hope to have accomplished by the end of 2023? Will you be in a better position than now? Will your family’s life also be improved? If you are like most people, your goal is to one day be financially free. You want to build enough wealth to weather any economic changes while knowing you and your family have the freedom to choose what you do with your time and money.

This may seem like an impossible task. But if you are willing to make some changes in your life, it is possible. Financial habits shape our future financial picture. The choices you make today will leave an impact for years to come, whether positive or negative. This goes beyond just financial habits and decisions — building wealth requires persistence, hard work, and whole-life habit changes. The sooner you start creating good habits, the better off you will be in the future. But to grow enough wealth to be financially free, what habits matter most? 

#1 Consistently Investing

Even during times of economic uncertainty, there are still opportunities to invest. Whether it’s investing in real estate, funds, or other assets, millionaires prioritize investing and consistently find ways to put their money to work. Investing in anything intelligently takes time and requires continuous education to know what is happening in that particular market. Millionaires don’t wait for perfect market conditions, they seek opportunities and make calculated risks. 

#2 Patiently Watching it Grow

Building wealth is a long-term game with most investments, and this means being able and willing to let that money work without wanting to spend it. It takes discipline to watch your investment grow and leave it be, not allowing the temptation to spend all your earnings to take root. Don’t let the high-spending lifestyle eat away at all the passive wealth your money was building just to appear wealthy or successful. 

#3 Being Persistent, Not Giving Up in the Face of Setbacks

Will you always make perfect investments? Of course not. Even with education and experience, you will still face obstacles as you work to build your wealth. Having grit, determination, and the will to keep going when things go wrong is necessary. Let setbacks be an opportunity to learn and grow rather than an excuse to stop trying.

#4 Being Open to Opportunities, Willing to Take Calculated Risks

Investing is different from just saving money for a reason — you’ve bought into an opportunity when you invest. When you save, your funds are stashed away but they are not working for you. Millionaires stay open to new opportunities and investment ideas but do their due diligence before leaping. Investing involves risk, however, those risks can be mitigated by intelligent investing and diversifying where you invest your money. 

If you’re just getting started building wealth and working towards financial freedom, let this year be the start of new habits that help you on your way. It is never too soon or too late to change the way you look at investing, spending, saving, and working towards the financial goals you’ve laid out for yourself for the years ahead. 

The Future of DSCR Loans

Over the last year, we have seen a massive increase in interest rates on DSCR loans. DSCR stands for debt service coverage ratio and is one way the lender analyzes a loan. Real estate investors use DSCR loans to build a rental portfolio. Credit score, experience, loan -to-value, and asset type are other factors used to analyze it.

Let’s examine how a DSCR loan came to be. Most generally, hard money lenders and real estate mortgage brokers will sell these loans to real estate investors utilizing the BRRR strategy, which stands for buy, rehab, rent, and refinance. The BRRR strategy has been widely talked about over the past few years, and with rental rates rising and interest rates being so low, this has become one of the most popular strategies in real estate investing. These loans are usually brokered to a handful of large national non-QM lenders using warehouse lines of credit as their capital. The DSCR loan makes up as much as 40%-60% of the business for hard money lenders today, and this may be changing quickly.

The DSCR loan capital comes from Wall Street. Aggregators will generally write loans using their warehouse lines of credit. Then, they will pool hundreds or thousands of these loans together into a product known as a mortgage-backed security. These will be purchased by institutional asset managers like REITs, pension funds, insurance companies, etc. The purchasers of the mortgage-backed security DSCR loan packages are looking for a fixed-rate investment, something they can count on. It is an alternative to US treasury bonds, other types of bonds, and even conventional mortgage-backed securities written on owner-occupied properties. As inflation has soared out of control, investors are demanding higher returns. Uncertainty in the real estate market also commands a higher return. Lastly, the cost of capital is climbing with rising interest rates, which also increases rates on the DSCR product.

The spread in value between conventional mortgage-backed security and a DSRC mortgage-backed security has risen to double what it was recently. In the past, you could expect a rate differential or value differential of anywhere from 75 to 100 basis points, and now that differential has risen from 1.5% to 2%. Because of this, coupled with rising interest rates, the interest rate charged on a DSCR loan has doubled over the past year. A quick internet search on DSCR loan interest rates shows advertised rates anywhere from 7.5% to 8.5% on a 30-year DSCR loan at a 75% LTV and a 1.2 DSCR. Of course, this hinges on good credit of over 720, and any of those missing factors will make that interest rate climb even higher.

So, the question for real estate investors is this: can I purchase a home today, rehab it, rent it out, and then refinance at an interest rate that still allows me to cash flow on my rental property? The short answer is no because that process takes time. Depending on how much rehab that house will take, it could take months to complete. With rates rising as quickly as they have, it’s challenging for us to predict where interest rates will be once your property is ready to refinance. If rates climbed another full percentage point, would your property still cash flow? If so, maybe you take the chance, perhaps you can make it through, and possibly the deal still cash flows for you. But if you’re buying at the peak of prices, where people are bidding against each other for this property, it may not make sense to continue the BRRR strategy.

If you want to move forward with this strategy in such an uncertain and volatile time, my first advice is to make sure you have a lot of cash available to you in case you have to cover a negative cash flow for a while on your new rental property. Number two, I would also make sure you’re buying deep. In other words, the days of buying at 80% of value or 1% rent-to-price ratios are over. Those properties are not going to cash flow at these higher interest rates going forward. Buy it deep. Paying too little will never hurt you in real estate investing but paying too much certainly will. And third of all, buy deals that have a very short timeline. In other words, a quick rehab and a solid rental base so that you can rehab it quickly, fill it quickly and refinance it quickly as rates continue to climb.

With the most recent PPI and CPI numbers this week (Oct. 14, 2022), the FED is almost certain to raise rates again. While the Federal Reserve rate does not necessarily impact the 30-year owner-occupant or conventional mortgage rate as much as it does other loans, a DCSR loan is not a conventional one. It is considered a commercial loan and is directly affected by the FED funds rate. Any increase by the FED can almost guarantee that DSCR products and hard money products will rise accordingly. It may not be a point-for-point rise, but it will rise. Over the coming months, I would expect the rates on DSCR loans to get as high as 9% and 10%, which rivals what we were paying for hard money rates on the fix and flip loans not that many months ago.

In my humble opinion, this will kill many DSCR lending programs. This market shift will shift the focus of hard money lenders from the rental loan programs they broker to the fix-and-flip product—their flagship (and most profitable) product, to say the least. The national non-QM market is filled with undercapitalized lending companies that will not be able to navigate the changing market with current capital reserves and will fold under the pressure of rising rates. Let’s face it; their rates were the only thing they had going. Once that is gone, the writing is on the wall.

Buying rental property is always a good strategy if it is purchased at the right price and you have available capital at a cost that allows your property to be profitable. My suggestion is to get to know local lenders and build a network of local capital. That could include local banks, local hard money companies with their own DSCR programs that are not brokered, and private money investors. The cheap national companies provided a great opportunity for a time but continuing that reliance may prove to be detrimental to your growth. Having a plan B in case your lender leaves you at the closing table is a good strategy in any market, this one in particular.

Why Private Money Lenders Won’t Lend on Mobile Homes

Recently, I was on a panel for the Ohio Real Estate Investors Association. A fellow investor asked me why it was so difficult to receive funding to invest in mobile homes. Listen to this video and let me know your thoughts on my answer.

Investor Loan Source, a hard money lending company, provides high-quality investment property loans to private real estate investors at the lowest costs possible. Our process for providing real estate investors with private lending is unique. We place emphasis on the hard asset and value of the collateral (property) and less on the borrower. Our asset-based real estate investment loan model means we can provide more money lending to more investors than is available from standard bank loan models. At Investor Loan Source, providing real estate investors hard money loans is our business; it’s all we do. We offer several business real estate loans products designed to serve a variety of investors and property profiles, including hard money lending for properties to sell on owner finance. 

To learn more about Investor Loan Source, visit our website or follow us on LinkedInFacebook, and Twitter. To apply for a loan, click HERE

How the Recession Impacts Real Estate Investors

The real estate market is changing rapidly. While we can never be sure which direction the economy is heading, investors can make smart decisions to navigate uncertain times. In the video below, I talk about what investors should consider in this changing market.

Investor Loan Source, a hard money lending company, provides high-quality investment property loans to private real estate investors at the lowest costs possible. Our process for providing real estate investors with private lending is unique. We place emphasis on the hard asset and value of the collateral (property) and less on the borrower. Our asset-based real estate investment loan model means we can provide more money lending to more investors than is available from standard bank loan models. At Investor Loan Source, providing real estate investors hard money loans is our business; it’s all we do. We offer several business real estate loans products designed to serve a variety of investors and property profiles, including hard money lending for properties to sell on owner finance. 

To learn more about Investor Loan Source, visit our website or follow us on LinkedInFacebook, and Twitter. To apply for a loan, click HERE.

Deal Evaluation: What Makes a Deal a Good Deal?

By Tom Berry

When evaluating a real estate deal, you should always start with the end in mind. For example, with a single-family Fix and Flip, the end goal is selling that house. When you’re looking at a single-family deal you want to flip, always ask yourself, “What can I get out of this house and what is the end value going to be?”  This is where real estate investors may make a mistake.  Some investors will look at comps in the general area of the subject property. However, they are usually comparing their house to houses that are at a different level.  You want to use comps that are of similar size and similar nature to determine what your house is going to sell for when it’s done.  

Additionally, some investors use comps with a high-end fit and finish, but use their rehab budget or a very low-end fit and finish to calculate the value. You can’t put vinyl laminate floors in a house and expect to get the same ARV as a house down the street that has travertine or expensive wood floors. This also goes for kitchen countertops, appliances, etc.  Use houses that are similar to how you’re going to make yours.

The next step is evaluating the rehab budget. A huge challenge I see often when real estate investors look at their deal is that they calculate the ARV and then look at their rehab budget to find that the numbers don’t work. At this point, they don’t want to walk away from the deal, which they could do, and they don’t want to go back to the seller and try to renegotiate a better price on the house. Instead, they just cut the rehab budget and try to make the deal work.  If you cut your rehab budget, you’re never going to reach your expected ARV.  Cutting the budget just to try to make the numbers work on paper, might work on paper but it is not going to work in practice. Understand that the rehab will need to reach a certain level to hit your expected ARV.

After evaluating the price of the home and the rehab budget, most people think we’re done with an evaluation. The truth is that we are not done! There are other costs that we call hidden costs.  A great example of hidden costs would be the holding cost.  The holding cost includes the cost for an investor to own this project until it is sold. These hidden costs include interest, property taxes, property insurance, utilities, and lawn care. As a real estate investor, you must pay those bills the whole time you hold that property. All these costs add up. Before buying a house, it is important to calculate the monthly holding cost. This is done by adding up the monthly cost and dividing by 30 to get the daily cost of holding a property.

What does this do?  It puts a sense of urgency on the investor to get in and out as quickly as possible.

Lastly, it is important to ask yourself the following questions:

  • Are you going to need permits?
  • Are you going to need plans?
  • When can contractors start?
  • When will you be ready for contractors?

It is important to realistically evaluate how long it will take to rehab, market, and close on the project. There are a lot of steps to take, and those steps take time and money. 

Hopefully, this gives you greater insight into what it takes to evaluate a single-family fix and flip deal. As always, if you have a project and you’d like for us to help you with your hard money and private money needs, reach out to us today at 409-735-6267.

Is This a Good Time to Invest in Real Estate?

By Tom Berry

This is a question I have heard over and over every year since I started investing in real estate. And this question comes in many forms. My favorite is the negative form that goes something like this: “With home prices going up every year for the last decade, why would you want to get in real estate now?” Real estate, like any other investment asset, does fluctuate in price. However, this happens much slower than most other assets. When real estate falls in value, it tends to be for a shorter period, and then up it goes again. 

And of course, all real estate is local. Some high-growth areas didn’t even see price declines in single-family homes during the great recession. Others saw modest short-lived decreases. For these reasons, real estate has been seen as a great long-term investment for centuries. But there are other reasons why I always answer our original question with a resounding YES. 

When someone thinks of investing in real estate, they typically think of flipping or holding rentals of single-family homes in their town or neighborhood. When I think of real estate investing, I divide it into five columns. Then I pick one or two from each column. Here are the categories: Asset Class, Investment Strategy, Market / Sub-Market, Price Point, and Target Profit.

Here are a few options that I may pick from each category. But understand, some of these columns could have dozens of options to choose from.

Again, this is a very short list to show examples of what each list would have. What we are doing here is creating something the professional investors call a buy box. This buy box. Is used as a tool of discipline and efficiency. The buy box helps with discipline because you have set the criteria for what you will buy before ever looking at the first property. Now, all you need to do is stick to your own rules. The buy box helps with efficiency because the second I see a potential property that doesn’t meet my buy box, I discard it and move on to the next one. This allows me to analyze large numbers of potential deals in a short period. 

How many times have you heard someone say, “I think we can make it work if we just…?” You can fill in the blank for yourself. This is undisciplined investing. How many times have you heard someone beating that same project up for months trying to make something out of nothing? This is a time-waster and is incredibly inefficient.

Now, taking this conversation full circle, I would also argue that using a buy box allows us to be profitable investors in any market. All we need to do is pick different options from the columns above for the market we are facing at the time. 

Let me explain, in 2008 when I first got into real estate investing full time, we were fixing and flipping single-family homes in greater Houston. We found out quickly that our geography choice was way too large for a two-person team, and we re-adjusted to focus on Galveston County, TX. Mid 2008, as our flips sat on the market, we quickly realized we needed to change direction and switched to single-family homes and traditional rentals in Galveston County, TX with an after rehab value of $120,000 or less with $30,000 equity or more. 

After piling up 28 of those, we changed again in December 2010 to apartment buildings and apartment complexes in Galveston County, TX. This included traditional rentals: $25,000/ door all in or less, 12% CAP Rate or higher. I know! I haven’t seen those numbers since then either. 22 months later, the apartment market started going up again and we stopped buying and went back to houses. 

After accumulating around 425 houses and apartment units, we changed direction again and started selling off the apartments. A couple of years ago, we started selling off the rental houses. Some on owner finance terms and some outright. In the years between, we have bought office buildings, self-storages, single-tenant commercial buildings, a mobile home park, and shopping centers. As the market changes, I change strategy and asset class. This gives us the maximum opportunity to make money at any time. 

Make no mistake, I consider myself a buy & hold investor. I like to hold long-term and rent assets. This allows me to capture appreciation and let my tenants buy my properties for me through rent payments. BUT, if someone offers me more than what I think my property is worth, it’s SOLD! I am not going to hold a 70’s vintage apartment complex for 20 years. I’ll take the upside, and when the market gets hot, I’ll let someone else take on the ownership risk. Then, I will move my chips (equity) to a different table.

So, should you get into real estate investing right now? I don’t care if you are reading this in 2022 or many more years from now; the answer is YES! Although, the HOW you invest may be completely different answers in each case.