In most parts of the United States, real estate is – over time – a good investment. And while we all know that to be true, often this nagging question remains unanswered: “How do I get started buying Boston area investment real estate?” For some millennials and others the answer is, “Just do it.” Let’s look at how you can make a start in building your Boston area Investment real estate portfolio.
Though it seems somewhat ironic to use millennials as a segment of the population perhaps best suited to start a modest Boston area investment real estate portfolio, let’s look at a few salient points. Millennials comprise roughly 50% of all current homebuyers in the marketplace, according to the Zillow Group Consumer Housing Trends Report. And given that most millennials buy their first homes or starter homes with the intention of living there fewer than seven years, potential real estate investing could be in their future. Why? Millennials or other first-time homebuyers are in a unique position to buy their second home and maintain their first as a rental property. This can most often be accomplished by leaving the owner-occupied original mortgage intact without selling the property. Hopefully, the mortgage was acquired with a modest down payment and is accompanied by a low interest rate.
Obviously, if a borrower is able, it’s much better to keep the first property and rent it rather than trying to purchase a non-owner-occupied rental property. Financing for rental property usually requires a higher down payment – 20%-25% – and will likely have a higher interest rate, as much as .50%-.75% or more. In summary, it will almost surely cost less to arrange for your current house to become a rental property and purchase a second home to use as a primary residence than to buy a second property for use as a rental home.
Quite naturally, in order for this growing Boston area investment real estate portfolio to be successful two factors need to be considered:
1 ) You must be able to find a tenant for your first home. This is important not only for the additional rental income to pay for the mortgage, but many millennials or first time homebuyers may find it difficult to qualify for a mortgage on the second home unless they have a tenant under lease.
2) You must be able to come up with the necessary down payment for the second home. With low down payment financing available for as little down as 3% in some cases, this is possible. Most first time homebuyers rely on the equity from the sale of their first home to be able to afford the down payment on their new one.
There are certain tax advantages to be enjoyed by renting one of your properties. We recommend discussing them with an accountant in order to make sure you’re up on the latest tax rules regarding Boston area investment real estate. As a normal rule, the best tax advantages come in the form of depreciation of the rental property along with being able to deduct both the mortgage interest and the maintenance expenses of the rental property.
Choosing the Best Rental Property
If you’re contemplating turning your first home into a rental property, it’s probably best to consult with a Boston area investment real estate professional first to better understand the market and establish a strategy of what you want to accomplish. In addition, there are considerations to discuss regarding whether there is a viable rental market for your home. Experts say homes with one to three bedrooms are likely to rent more easily and more often than larger homes. Lastly, and the real estate rental professionals can better help with this, it’s important to understand who the typical tenants are in your market as well as the type properties they usually rent. That will give you insight as to where to advertise, what rents to charge, what terms to ask for and other decision-making factors.
Assessing Rental Rates
As is the case with rental properties across the country, Boston area investment real estate rental rates have been on the rise in the last year or so. In addition, rental rates vary widely in the single-family home and condominium rental market. Most real estate professionals agree that one of the most challenging aspects of renting a home is being able to establish a rental rate low enough to be competitive in the market yet high enough to pay the mortgage and related expenses while making a small profit each month. Again, consult your local Boston area investment real estate rental professional for the most current information on what the market will bear and what you can expect to rent your home for.
Aside from the financial considerations, one of the most important things to remember about renting out your first home is becoming a landlord. You’ll need to budget both your time and money in order to be able to take care of your tenant’s needs as they arise. Of course, you can hire a property management company to handle the typical chores of a landlord, but there are expenses involved with such an arrangement. Still, it may be worth looking into to see if the rental market will enable you to cover a portion of the rental management fee by raising the rent.
Most experts say when it comes to starting a Boston area investment real estate portfolio comprised of rental property, “buy and hold” is usually a good philosophy. However, there are precautions you should take if you’re thinking about making the leap. If you find yourself in a sellers market, just realize that it may be more difficult to buy the second home without getting the needed equity out of the first. However, there are other options such as refinancing.
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