I remember a lot of comments from readers and also from people I meet in person who tell me that they are just looking for a place to live and are not really interested with investing in real estate. My default answer is “Why not treat your first home as an investment?”. Let me enumerate the reasons below.
1. In reality, once you buy a property, you become a real estate investor
Before anything else, let me say upfront that buying a home is often considered to be the biggest investment one can make, so like it or not, you become a real estate investor when you buy a property. If so, then it’s best to treat it as a real investment — one which will give you reasonable returns if and when you do decide to turn it into a rental property or flip it down the road.
2. It can provide reasonable returns
Normally, when a person buys a house which he intends to live in, he does not consider how much rent he would earn if he decides to rent the property out, and whether the possible rental income would be more than his monthly amortization and other expenses.
With that said, It is also common for a homeowner who moves up the corporate ladder or improves his situation, to move to a better home, but keep his first home for sentimental reasons.
Thus, if in the future, the homeowner decides to move to another house and converts his first house into a rental property, the rentals are often not enough to cover the monthly amortizations and other costs, thereby producing a negative cashflow situation.
Had the homeowner considered his first house as a real investment, he could have dedicated more time to finding a property that would fetch better rental rates which could cover the monthly amortizations and other expenses, thus giving the owner a nice positive cashflow.
More often than not, factors that may affect market values and appreciation are not given too much attention by a home buyer as the primary goal is just to have a place to live in. When the time comes to sell the property, it is very likely that there is little or no room for significant profits or capital gains.
At times, the homeowner may even have to sell at a loss. This situation could have been avoided had the home owner considered buying a property that was way below market value*.
*-“Market Value” is the estimated amount for which a property should exchange on the date of valuation between a willing buyer and a willing seller in an arm’s-length transaction after proper marketing wherein the parties had each acted knowledgeably, prudently, and without compulsion.
Buying a property below market value would be in alignment with what Robert Kiyosaki often says which is “You should make money when you buy, not when you sell”. Money is made in the form of equity* at the time the property is bought and the profit is realized when the property is sold. Robert Kiyosaki is the bestselling author of Rich Dad Poor Dad.
*- Equity is the difference between a property’s current appraised value or market value and the loan principal balance
So the reasonable returns I am talking about are in the form of cashflow or capital gains.
3. Don’t waste the opportunity to learn how to invest
Everyone at one point or another will really have to buy his or her own home so why not make the most out of the opportunity to learn how to invest in real estate and find a good investment property?!
If done well, one could get passive income in the form of positive cashflow, or significant profits if you flip the property, or both.
At the very least, the education one can gain from treating his first home as a real estate investment is priceless.
4. It is virtually risk-free
Since the primary goal of the home buyer is to have a place to live in, he would not really be concerned with holding costs associated with properties that take time to lease or sell. He/she lives in the place anyway so this makes it virtually risk-free in my opinion.
In fact, I apply the same strategy to all of the deals that I have done this year as my last fallback would be to live in the property just in case I am unable to sell or rent it quickly. Of course, it is obvious one can only live in one house… keep this in mind!
There is also a challenge with deciding to live in one’s investment property…
If one decides to live in his/her own investment property, chances are one will have the tendency to fall in love with the property and over-improve it. I guess that’s the only risk that one should manage. Falling in love with a property can cloud one’s judgment and introduce costly improvements that one might no longer be able to recover.
5. A first home can lead to more investment properties
If one buys his first home and it turns out to be a good investment and not just as a place of residence, it can help ensure that more real estate investments would follow.
At the very least, it won’t prevent the home-buyer from buying more investment properties later on as it can provide the cashlow or capital gains that can finance a future deal. With that said, one must choose wisely to avoid buying a property that costs too much and can turn out to be a liability that can hinders one’s ability to build enough capital to buy the next investment property.
Believe me when I say that buying a home can either be a good opportunity to start investing in real estate, or an experience full of regrets (This is based on first-hand experience).
So do you think you’re ready to buy your first home? I hope this article has helped point you in the right direction.
I wish you successful investing!
To our financial freedom!
Real Estate Investor
Real Estate Broker License #: 20056
Text by Jay Castillo.Copyright © 2009 All rights reserved.
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