The United State rental market is in full swing and the opportunities today are headed upwards. Real Estate cycles favor certain classes of properties depending upon the state of the economy as well as demand. During the housing boom of 2007, home ownership was very popular, of course buying at the peak would have spelled financial disaster as home prices have now plummeted from that all time high point. According to the Federal Reserve 60% of all homes are currently underwater.
With so many people losing their homes, high divorce rates, high unemployment and lack of lending from banks the consumer is very fearful of home ownership right now. An uncertain stock market that is artificially high complicates most consumers’ emotions as well. The result is a growing demand for rental properties. If you read my previous article rental properties are becoming popular with banks as well. Bank of America recently introduced a pilot project of 1000 homes in the Phoenix area to perform a deed in liu of foreclosure with lease back for select customers. The rental market is good for both nervous consumers and also for property owners. The rental market allows owners to cashflow properties in a buy and holds position and enables them to be able to perform a long term hold plan that will allow them to sell their properties for more when economies recover. Banks are encouraged to hold property so that they can manipulate housing demand and sell these same houses for more latter when they can also increase lending rates. Banks also need to manage their dead weight loss as well, so dumping properties on investors for low prices only hurts their perceived equity and increases their loss. Therefore a long term buy and hold position for banks is good for banks and selling properties through REO or pre foreclosure is not a favorable transaction for banks. Don’t expect a lot of pricing concessions from banks in the future.
Most investors understand how to buy a property and sell it for more, that might be challenging in this economy. But if you can cash flow a property and wait for more favorable lending then you are getting paid today- cash on cash and also benefit tomorrow- return on investment when you sell. Most people are speculators and typically invest only in their own local neighborhoods. Recently National Association of Realtors (NAR) reported that rental property sales have increased 65% (1.23Million units) for 2011, while owner occupied sales fell 15% over the same period. According to NAR 41% of these buyers purchased more than 1 property and half of them were distressed. The average house price was quite remarkable at $100,000 per property and planned to hold the property for at least 5 years. Most experienced cash flow investors never pay more than $100k/door, so many of these buyers are probably new to real estate buying. Rents need to be high enough to make payments and also provide cash flow to the buyer. Long term buy and hold is in fashion right now and is expected to increase, the Federal Reserve has stated that 2million houses are currently at REO status. This number is set to double thru end of 2013. So it’s very safe to say that rental properties are the highest demand asset class in real estate right now.
More evidence to increased demand is in the mature markets for apartment rentals. Mature market, Class A levels on both coasts are nearing all time high levels in occupancy. Occupancy in this class is up to 95.1% its highest mark since 2001, according to Reuters. In addition rental rates rose 0.5% from 4q11 to 1q12, and an increase of 0.9% from month to month which is largest increase in rental since 2008. All of this growth has occurred in high demand areas, as B and C levels are increasing in occupancy but not in rental rates. San Francisco saw the largest year over year increase of 5.9%, a high demand mature rental market. Commercial office leasing was also on the rise in high demand markets closing in on 94% occupancy. High demand A markets always start real estate trends and as the cycle progresses lower level classes in B/C/D markets do follow. Southern California is a mature A level market as well, but just not as pricey as Northern California and rental occupancy rates are expected to rise by 1.5% to 96.4% and rates to increase 4.8% per year. Nationally occupancy is expected to increase by 1% and rentals rates to increase by 4 to 5% in all markets.
The stock market is poised to fall again; the DOW is currently at 13,000 points. Most people expect markets to rise on speculation and they should fall when the larger numbers of foreclosures hit the market through 2012 and 2013. Stock markets are manipulated to rise and fall so that traders can benefit, not so that the average investor can profit. Rental properties can increase your monthly cash flow and then provide you capital appreciation when markets rise.