Is the current US housing market a buyer’s market – or do sellers prevail? The mixed messages from different areas of the housing market are enough to give any investor pause. Is the market improving? What about mortgage lending standards? And are their still good bargains to buy? All the contradictions aside, real estate experts maintain that now is still a smoking time to get started investing in income property. Here are some reasons why:
1. Mortgage Interest Rates
As we’ve said before in this space, current mortgage interest rates are at or near historic lows, hovering around 3% for some types of loans. Although some analyses of housing trends suggest that these rates may rise slightly in the next year or so, there are good reasons to expect they will still remain relatively low
since the Federal Reserve expects to continue its plans, begun in 2012, to buy up as much as $85 billion monthly in mortgage backed securities in an effort to keep stimulating the housing recovery.
Some projections see no major rise in interest rates until at least 2015, when the Fed will most likely be phasing out its mortgage securities plans. That means that an investor who takes out a 30 year fixed rate mortgage of the kind recommended by Jason Hartman, will be locking in rates low enough to create a
significant asset for the future.
2. Availability of Low-Cost Properties
Even if mortgage interest rates have never been better it may seem that the easy availability of cheap investment properties has dried up. The massive numbers of foreclosures that glutted markets all over the country in the aftermath of 2008’s housing collapse are now out of the system. And mortgage servicers such as the government’s Fannie Mae have undertaken bulk sales of its foreclosures to large investment groups, locking out independent investors.
But foreclosures are still percolating through the system –
the so-called “shadow inventory” of foreclosure cases that were stalled due to the backlog created by so many mortgage defaults between 2008 and 2011. Those homes are now trickling into various local and regional markets. Another source of bargain investment property is the short sale market, in which struggling homeowners sell the property for less than the mortgage is worth simply to get out from under it. And since the US housing market is actually composed of many markets, prices in some areas of the country may be lower due to specific conditions there.
3. Rising Rents
In general, the rental market is thriving. Since mortgage standards are tighter in reaction to the 2008 housing crisis, fewer people are actually able to buy a house. Former homeowners who lost their homes to foreclosure are now long-term renters, as are numerous others with credit problems or not enough money for a down payment. These kinds of renters join the expanding pool of traditional renters, creating a demand for rental housing that’s reflected in higher rents.
Gazing into the future has its drawbacks. But new investors and those considering taking the first step need only look at present circumstances to know that now really is a good time to get started in income property investing.
The American Monetary Association Team