I, for one, admire Winter Texans. They’ve got the right idea: Come to our piece of paradise, spend a few months, spend a few bucks, then repeat! Some come in RVs, others have a home/townhome/condo to which they retreat. The time is coming to welcome our Winter Texans back, and it’s the Winter Texan “way” that reminds me of one powerful investment tool – real estate of course! We are lucky enough to live in a place where many come to vacation. Whether you live here and want to capitalize on the growing rental market, or you’ve got relatives and friends to whom you’d love to persuade to do the same or invest in a vacation home…Get your own piece of Padre Island Pie!
But WHY is now a good time, and WHAT makes real estate this aforementioned “powerful investment tool”?
With the population of the Coastal Bend steadily increasing, more businesses coming to the area, and the increasing amount of national attention we’ve gained over the past few years, it’s no wonder investors and second home buyers have piqued interest.
Most would agree that the spring and summer are the good selling months. But I say, why discriminate?! Winter has its perks, too! The crowds looking to invest that haven’t already are coming at a good time…price reductions are common this time of year, and sellers aren’t competing with as many other homes for sale as, say, the spring time.
First thing is first, what are your goals? To be an investor, or to use the property for vacation and enjoyment? There is certainly NO wrong answer here!
But what are the elements of value to an investor? Well that depends on their commitment: Do they intend on having a long-term or short-term investment? Will they live there part-time themselves or will they use it as a rental? Property values and their projected appreciation may play a large role in a buyer’s intentions. So may tax depreciation, capital gains, and inflation hedge. As important as these matters are, they may be a little snooze-worthy. So let’s make it quick.
Let’s take a look at each of these potential advantages:
Projected Appreciation: This is a percentage that estimates what your property will be worth in the future. Of course nothing is promised, but the numbers could aid in the decision process.
Tax Depreciation: COULD help you maximize your tax savings. This is the depreciation that can be listed as an expense on a tax return, the gradual charging to expense of a fixed asset’s cost over its useful life.
Capital Gains: Another key tax advantages of owning investment property. Capital gains on investment real estate is the difference between the sales price and the cost of purchase and improvements. They’re taxed at either a short-term rate or a long-term or reduced rate.
Inflation Hedge: This has to do with the rent that’s charged to the tenant. Some leases have provisions for rent increases to be indexed to inflation. In other cases, rental rates are increased whenever a lease term expires and the tenant is renewed. Either way, real estate income tends to increase faster in inflationary environments, allowing an investor to maintain its real returns.
Selling: When rental properties are sold, the proceeds can be rolled into other rental property without paying capital gains taxes. This is called a 1031-Tax Exchange.
Now, what about those who’d like to get away from their primary residence and invest in a second home? Fortunately for many of us, you don’t have to be a part of the ultra rich to own a second home! This, too, could be wise, even if it will only be used for family and friends and not as a rental.
Here are some helpful tips that may guide you in the right direction:
- Have money. This may seem obvious but daunting, but let me explain that it doesn’t mean millions in the bank. Unless you’re paying cash, your lender’s underwriter needs to see that you have adequate reserves (as often your downpayment will be larger for a second property).
- Consider your debt-to-income ratio. If it’s too high, this may be an issue for your lender.
- Spend time in the area, first! Know that you love the region and foresee wanting to be there often before buying there. Do your due diligence on the right neighborhood, the costs of maintenance, HOA dues, taxes, insurance, etc.
- Double the fun, but potentially double the work! Assess the yard – will you need someone to mow it while you’re not there? Will the pool need weekly maintenance?
- Work with an agent that is very knowledgeable about the area. Here in our Coastal Bend, most agents are accustomed to working with investors/second home buyers.
If you meet the less-than-14-day-or-10% test, you can write off all the usual expenses associated with owning a rental property. Or, if you rent the house a quarter of the time, for instance, a quarter of your mortgage interest, property taxes, utilities, insurance costs, and repair expenses are deductible against rental income.
The options and advantages seem to outweigh the fear of dabbling in real estate investing or owning a second home. Try it, you may become a mogul! So come and stay and play at your leisure, then make the money, honey!