Real Estate Options for Real Women: Managing the Mortgage on Your Own
In today’s market, with prices so astronomical, it’s no wonder women often find themselves struggling to buy a house, or sustain the house they either already purchased or had to fight tooth and nail to keep when divorce or the death of a spouse occurred.
If a woman is struggling, it can lead to a feeling of being trapped and on the verge of a financial crisis, with her FICO score dropping and not enough income to cover expenses; terror sets in. But if that isn’t enough, owning a house is not just about paying the loan down. There are many other expenses often not factored in: the weekly upkeep, insurance, repairs, housekeeping, taxes, utilities, etc. …
But, with a little savvy planning, and the counsel of an expert real estate agent, women can experience a positive outcome and set themselves on the road to independence, wealth accumulation and newfound freedom to owning a home.
Most people think of real estate as only single family residences (SFR). But as an interesting option, women need to consider other housing choices, such as “multifamily units” (as in duplex, triplex or quadruplex, which are attached homes) as desirable. The loan qualification for a home of four units and under is easier to get, so start smaller. If you buy a multifamily unit, live in one and rent out the others, and you have benefits to gain. The tax advantages are many when it is an “owner-occupied” building; plus you get preferred rates with lenders.
To make it even more “sweet,” and unlike a house that is totally dependent on you making the payment each month, your tenants’ rents pays the mortgage, taxes, insurance and upkeep of the property so you essentially live there for free! Even if one of your units is empty you’ll still have a positive cash flow from the other units to service the debt (and keep in mind there are always more renters than qualified buyers).
There are good deals on these types of properties out there and depending on how much “sweat equity” aka “elbow grease” you’re willing to invest, the upside potential is terrific. With the right property acquisitions, honest and knowledgeable advisors and a clearly defined plan, you’ll be on the road to financial and personal independence. Adding a real estate professional as part of your financial “power team” just makes good sense as he or she can guide you in the purchase and financing of an income property. They know how “motivated” the seller is, how to negotiate the price to maximize your budget, where the best areas for ROI (Return on Investment) are; they know how much, how little and where to invest your efforts to see “forced appreciation” (any improvements made to the property that increase it’s value), which will turn your investment into a sustainable source of income.
To Ease Your Purchase Transaction
- Interview Realtors with a track record and experience. Make sure they are clear on your goals to buy an income property with a lot of upside potential.
- If you currently own, arrange for them to give you an analysis of your property, as to its resale value. If they’re not making suggestions on improving curb appeal or staging to get maximum dollar, look for another Realtor! You want top dollar for your house, so go with someone who knows how to get it for you.
- Evaluate your own individual credit and financial condition. Make sure “you” exist as far as credit worthiness is concerned. This is what lenders will be looking at. You’ll also have a clearer picture on what you can spend.
- Find a Realtor who knows where the paths of progress are heading and where you’ll see the greatest return on your investment. Don’t be afraid to try new areas outside of your frame of reference or comfort zone. You’ll parlay this purchase into bigger and better properties. Be adventurous!
- Go into your new life with the brave new attitude that you are going to build your own financial & property portfolio starting — today.
Andrea Jacobs has been a Realtor for 21 years at Coldwell Banker in Westlake Village, California; she can be reached at 805.230.3348 or 818.606.7515