Another Hard Money Loan Started

Hard money loan #16 kicked off a few days ago. This is a loan on a property bought at foreclosure auction in Antioch, California, which is east and a tiny bit north of San Francisco. The borrowers are two people who have borrowed from us before. They purchased the property for $220,000. (The bank took a $400,000 loss on this one - ouch!) Our loan, secured by a first mortgage, is for $162,000, giving a LTV ratio of 73%. The borrower tells us he already has a buyer in line for the property at $270,000. (Until we're in escrow, I wouldn't hold my breath. Deals fall apart all the time.) My partner figures it's worth between $270,000 and $280,000. This seemed like it was a fairly hot property at the auction - there were a total of 8 parties bidding on it. The property is a two story single family home of about 2,300 square feet. It was built in 2000 and has 4 bedrooms and 2 baths. A nearby comp is currently in escrow for around $255,000 and it sold quickly at that price with multiple offers. And it still needed paint and carpet and is a slightly inferior model.

Standard loan deal - 1 year, interest only payments, 9% net to investors.

Apartment Had A Bad December

The financial report from the Houston apartment complex for December was not good. Occupancy dropped to 88% due to a large number of move outs in November. About 40% of the move outs were people who left without notice. This most often happens after a job loss, so it would seem November was a bad month for unemployment in Houston. The good news is occupancy is currently back to 92% with 96% leased. Still waiting for the clarification on the difference between "occupied" and "leased," but I'm guessing "leased" includes people who have signed leases but have not yet moved in or started paying rent - for instance, people waiting for the first of the month to move in.

Rent concessions, which I wrote about last time as something I hoped would be able to be reduced, went up, due I'm sure, to the large number of unexpected move outs. New playground equipment was installed, which should attract more renters. One half of the cost of that was paid for from funds in the lender's replacement escrow account, so it did not affect cash flow.

Hopefully, December was just momentary setback on the path to recovery. Management expects January revenue to be only slightly improved due to the increased rent concessions, but they think February will see a decent increase in revenue. The loss for December was approximately $7,500 compared to a loss of just $1,500 in November. The biannual investor conference call is coming up soon, so hopefully, we will get some more detailed information then.

Risk Factors That Will Increase Your Mortgage Rate

Fannie Mae has a matrix (PDF) that shows what risk factors will increase your mortgage interest rate and by how much. Of note to real estate investors: investment properties will add at least 1.75%. (But then, we all knew mortgages for investment properties cost more.) The matrix also shows how much your rate will increase based on your credit score. They also give the adjustments for condos, manufactured homes, 40 year loans (as opposed to the normal 30 year) and some other scenarios. Interesting reading.

Common Sense Prevails

Last Friday, the Massachusetts Supreme Court ruled that two banks did not have the right to seize homes from two parties because they could not prove the banks owned the mortgage at the time of foreclosure. While this will undoubtedly slow down the foreclosure process and reduce the inventory of properties for investors who make money off foreclosed homes (of which I am one), I have to applaud this decision. It seems like a pretty basic idea to me - in order to foreclosure on a home, you must be able to show proof you are the mortgage holder.

Hard Money Loan #14 Paid Off

The property behind hard money loan #14 was sold and closed escrow on December 30 and I received my final payment today. The loan lasted about 6 months. My principle is sitting with my partner, waiting for the next opportunity.

In other news, my wife and I are starting a remodel of a couple rooms in our house. We're paying for this using our HELOC, which I had previously been using for investing. Actually, I'll still be able to use my funds from that for investing and the remodel will be paid for from the unused portion of the HELOC, which will now be maxed out. The HELOC payments are interest only and the payments I receive from my investments will still cover the entire HELOC payment, even including the funds I use for the remodel, plus a little more. So my remodel costs will be paid for by the investments. My HELOC is at 3.25% and I'm investing at between 9% and 10% and pocketing the difference. Although, since it's not my money I am investing, my ROI technically is infinite.

Of course, as I feel compelled to say every time I bring this up, this is not without risks and I don't recommend everyone do this. If interest rates go up, I could end up losing money. But I don't think rates will rise anytime within the next year and the investments I make are for one year or less, so I could get my money back and pay down the line of credit rather quickly if I have to. There is also a pretty large spread between what I am being charged and what my investments are earning, so rates would have to jump by a large amount before I start losing money. Also, I opened this line of credit during the real estate bubble, so the maxed out HELOC plus my outstanding mortgage balance total more than the home is currently worth - meaning I would not be able to sell the home, should I have to. But that's not something we are planning on anyway. And again, my investments are pretty short term, so I could pay down the HELOC in fairly short order if I did need to sell for some reason. And, in the worst case scenario, I could still make the HELOC payments should all my investments go belly up.

Still, it's exciting to think that my passive income will pay for our remodel! The real estate investments I've made over the past two and a half years have also been paying for the loss I took on Rental #1. That loss has been just over 50% recovered. It's been slow going, especially since the apartment investment payments have been suspended for almost a year. (If they hadn't been suspended, my loss would be about 80% recovered.) But still, it's nice to know that all these things are being paid for from investment income and not from any money out of my pocket. (Yes, you could argue it is money out of my pocket since I don't get to keep my investment returns, but you know what I mean. I'm not writing a check to pay them.)