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Real Estate

What you need to know about home loans: FHA, VA, and Conventional Loans

For many, owning a home is an exciting dream, and one of the best ways of achieving that is through a mortgage. Taking on a mortgage is necessary if you don’t have the cash to pay the cost of a home upfront. Several real estate investment consulting firms offer incredible benefits, such as investment in property opportunity zones.

In fact, when choosing the best mortgage option, it’s crucial to have clear facts about how much money you’ll need to present, how high your credit score should be, and whether you’ll need extra money to pay for the mortgage insurance.

If you’re considering taking a mortgage but are unsure where to start, let alone which loan to take, keep reading. In this article, we discuss three of the best mortgage options–conventional loan, FHA, and VA loan–their differences and advantages.

FHA Loan

The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) insures an FHA loan. If you have low credit scores, then you should probably apply for the FHA loan. Moreover, FHA loans require a lower down payment compared to conventional loans.

To borrow the value of a home using FHA, arm yourself with a 580 credit score and a 3.5 % down payment.

With an FHA loan, you don’t get the loan directly from the FHA. Instead, the FHA guarantees and insures your loan from approved lenders, banks, or financial institutions. As such, your lender is at a lesser risk because the FHA will pay the claim if you default.

FHA borrowers who get approved must purchase mortgage insurance and make premium payments to the FHA.

FHA Loan requirements for 2021

The FHA-approved lender will gauge your qualifications as it would any mortgage applicant. However, instead of evaluating your credit report, a lender may scrutinize your work history and payment records for the past two or three years.

Additionally, you need a front-end debt ratio (your monthly mortgage payments, mortgage taxes, and insurance) at a maximum of 31% of gross monthly income and a back-end debt ratio (your mortgage payment plus all other monthly debts) at a maximum of 43% of gross monthly income.

However, it’s crucial to note that the lower your credit score and down payment, the higher the interest rate you’ll need to pay on your FHA mortgage.

Advantages

● You don’t need exceptional credit scores.
● Low down payments.
● You can build your equity sooner and stop renting earlier.
● Suffering from bankruptcy or foreclosures does not hinder your ability to get an FHA mortgage.

Disadvantages

● Since you have a poor credit score, one requirement is paying mortgage insurance upfront and annually to protect the lender from default risks.
● You’ll have to meet stringent property requirements.
● You will pay higher interest rates to compensate for the low down payment.

Conventional Loans

Like any other ordinary loan, the government does not back or insure this mortgage loan. Instead, private lenders guarantee it, while the borrower pays the insurance. Conventional loans are available through various mortgage lenders, such as banks, credit unions, and online lenders.

There are two types of conventional loans–fixed and adjustable-rate loans. A fixed-rate conventional loan charges constant interest, while an adjustable-rate conventional loan changes interest rates according to market conditions.

Conventional loans are riskier because the government does not back them. Therefore, it can be harder to meet the requirements than FHA or VA loans.

Conventional Loan qualifications

Build up your credit score to 620 and have at least a 3% down payment to be eligible for a traditional mortgage loan.

The private lenders will verify your documentation, including recent payment records, bank statements, tax returns, and other financial information. They want to ensure you have a solid income that can meet monthly mortgage payment obligations on time.

Next, the lender will evaluate your debt-to-income (DTI) ratio (other debts you need to pay each month, including loans and credit card debt). The DTI ratio should not exceed 43%, although some might exempt a ratio of up to 50%.

Advantages

● You can cancel the mortgage insurance once you reach 20% equity in the home.
● They offer flexible repayment terms.
● The conventional loan rate is lower than FHA loans.
● Conventional loans are flexible and offer options for second homes and other similar real estate investment opportunities. This means the borrower does not have to occupy the property.

Disadvantages

● They do not allow projection-based financing
● Require a lot of collateral
● They feature restrictive agreements.

VA Loans

A Veterans Affairs (VA) loan is a mortgage loan established and backed by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. They are available to service members, veterans, or those who were discharged.

Private lenders, such as mortgage institutions and banks, provide these loans. However, if the borrower defaults, the VA offers a settlement.

Who qualifies for a VA loan?

You must complete 181 days of active service during peacetime and at least 90 consecutive days of active service during wartime. Alternatively, you must be the spouse of a service member who lost their lives in the line of duty or who has a service-connected disability.

Advantages

● No down payment
● Lowest interest rates
● No mortgage insurance
● You can finance the total value of the home

Disadvantages

● Mandatory funding fee
● Strict appraisal and inspection

Which is better?

To find the best option between FHA vs. Conventional vs. VA loans, you need to consider your preferences, needs, finances, and qualifications.

While the VA is exceptional as there are no down payments necessary, only war veterans or their spouses qualify. You don’t need exceptional credit history to get an FHA loan, but that also means high-interest rate payments and mandatory insurance payments.

On the other hand, a conventional loan offers flexible repayment terms, and you can opt-out of insurance payments once you get to 20% equity. Choosing one over the other will depend on your financial situation.

Apart from that, one can avail several benefits through diversifying their portfolio. For example, you can save money on taxes by following the 1031 exchange process and making wise investment decisions.

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Real Estate

Commercial Real Estate Investments: Understand the Risk and Reward

Commercial Real Estate Investments: Understand the Risk and Reward

Every seasoned commercial real estate investor knows that all investments are prone to risks. While real estate investing is not as risky as penny stocks, options, and futures, the sheer amounts involved mean that if things go belly up, you stand to lose a lot.

That’s why it pays to identify the kind of risks attached to each real estate investment vehicle before you ink a deal. Industry leaders created categorization labels to help investors identify the amount of risk each investment poses.

According to Tal Peri, head of U.S. East Coast and Latin America for Germany’s largest open-ended fund, Union Investment Real Estate, these labels help him focus on the losses spectrum that matches parameters for the fund he is deploying capital.

If you’re a new investor to the game, you might want to pay attention to the labels—they indicate under what category an investment falls. That might be the difference between scoring a great deal and losing money.

As usual, the higher the risk, the higher the investors’ returns. This article helps you understand the risk and returns involved in Commercial Real Estate Investments (CREIs).

Risk vs. Return

Before discussing the different categories of CREI’s, it’s first necessary to define what risk and return are and their relationship to each other in building an investment portfolio.
Risk refers to the possibility of financial loss or some other adverse outcome. It’s wise as an investor to put strategies in place to help you recognize and manage risk better.
Return is the amount of income or profit made on an investment. In real estate, returns usually come in rental income, property appreciation, beneficial tax treatment, or some combination of all three.

As mentioned above, the relationship between risk and return is the higher the risk an investment poses, the higher the potential profits. The reverse is also true.

Risk-Reward Categories for Commercial Real Estate Investments

There are four categories for real estate investment strategies as highlighted in the diagram. These contain the factors to consider when investing in real estate:

Strategy 1: Investing in Core Real Estate Assets

Many consider this a low risk real estate investment, and it rightfully takes its place near the low risk-low return spectrum.
Core real estate assets investment often consists of established high-rise office towers and apartment buildings. You will find them downtown in major cities like New York City, Chicago, and San Francisco.

Tenants in this category have excellent credits and commit to long-term leases. As a result, investors are guaranteed reliable cash flow, making it a risk-free investment.
The characteristics of core investments are:

● The buildings are relatively new, efficient, and well-maintained.
● Bears attractive and functional design.
● Has top-quality building finishes.
● The property is in an accessible and highly desirable location.
● Relatively low degree of leverage since they might range from 0-50% of the asset’s value, but rarely higher.
● Properties are fully or mostly leased (close to 90% occupation).

Suppose your primary investment objective is to protect your assets from a decrease in purchasing power while at the same time securing long-term wealth for your family. In that case, this is the investment strategy for your needs.

Core investments have a low risk of principal loss and generally provide returns in the 4% to 8% range. However, that also means they have a low chance for significant price appreciation.
In addition, the major reward to such investments is that a slowdown in economic activities won’t affect them since their tenants are financially stable and unlikely to face unemployment.

Strategy 2: Investing in Core-Plus Real Estate Assets

Think of core-plus as those in the second place, a step higher than core assets, in the risk ladder. That means it’s slightly riskier but offers better returns.
There’s increased opportunity since investors can renovate the properties and, in turn, hike the rent. However, there may be a risk and opportunity since the property may be in the suburbs and not fully leased.
The characteristics of such projects are:

● Historic building rather than new construction.
● Building in relatively poor condition.
● It faces a dip in tenant credit.
● The property is in a not-so-great location.
● There’s a slender opportunity for price growth.

Annualized leveraged returns on these assets generally range from 10% – 14%.

Strategy 3: Investing in Value-Add Real Estate Assets

Value investments pose a mid-level risk since they generally have a problem that needs fixing.

Value-add real estate projects incur a higher level of risk alongside the greater potential for driving operating revenue growth and capital value appreciation.

The potential for rental growth in such assets could be discovered by:

● doing moderate renovations to attract higher-paying tenants
● higher rental rates in the immediate neighborhood
● brilliant business plan to reposition the anchor space/tenant
● adding additional square footage
● upgrading building systems
● improved finishes and installing new amenities
● changing of property managers

Remember, the goal is to give the property a refreshed look and, in turn, attract quality tenants who would afford higher rent rates.

Since you put in more effort to execute this business plan successfully, these investments typically provide leveraged returns between 15–19%.

Leverage with value-add: 65% – 85% of asset value/cost. Unleveraged returns on value-add assets are high enough to entice further use of leverage to enhance leveraged returns further.

Strategy 4: Investing in Opportunistic Real Estate Assets

It’s the riskiest investment strategy. Most of the projects in this category are new developments that you have to build from the ground up. In other instances, it necessitates a total turnaround.

These projects can include significant design, engineering, construction costs, legal fees to navigate repositioning and obtain entitlements, and brokerage fees to market and lease space or sell units.

In addition, the major downside to opportunistic real estate assets is that investors could go months or years before receiving any income.

However, opportunistic investments offer more than 20% in returns due to the value-addition renovations or new constructions to a vacant lot.

Conclusion

Investors need to understand the risk and return relationship when scrutinizing a potential real estate purchase. The level of the return should be proportional to the amount of risk taken.

If you’re a risk-taker, and investing in commercial real estate makes you tick, it’s advisable to implement these investment strategies labels.

According to real estate gurus like Tal Peri, you should actively mark all potential investments using the labels to alleviate risk. Thankfully, the label strategies real estate investment risk analysis doesn’t require experience, expertise, and full-time focus to accomplish.