Rental homes are the IDEAL investment because they offer a higher rate of return than other investments without the volatility of the stock market. With certificates of deposit and bonds at less than 2%, people need an alternative investment that they understand and with a reasonable amount of control.
In this case, IDEAL is an acronym identifying the advantages of rental properties.
- Income from the monthly rent contributes to paying the expenses and a return on the investment.
- Depreciation is a non-cash deduction that shelters income for some investors.
- Equity buildup occurs with amortized mortgages because each payment is composed of interest owed and principal reduction to retire the loan by the end of the term.
- Appreciation is achieved as the value of the property goes up.
- Leverage can increase the return on investment by using borrowed funds to control a larger asset.
These individual benefits working together make rental real estate a good investment for today’s economy. Increased rents, high rental demand, good values and low, non-owner occupied mortgage rates contribute to positive cash flows and very favorable rates of return.
To find out more about how rentals might complement your current investment plans, contact your real estate professional.
Single-family homes offer an investor the ability to borrow large loan-to-value amounts at fixed interest rates for long terms on appreciating assets, tax advantages and reasonable control. Some of these characteristics are not available through other investments.
75-80% loan-to-value mortgages are available on most residential properties up to four units. Comparatively, the stock market allows you to borrow up to 50% on a stock but if the price goes down, they will require additional cash to keep the ratio at or below 50%. If it isn’t available, your stock can be sold to satisfy the loan.
Real estate investors call getting a long-term mortgage putting an investment to bed. The fixed-rate and the 20-30 year terms are exceptions to loans for most other investments, if they’re available at all.
Real estate tends to go up in value over time. There can be a lot of variables that affect the price like supply and demand, condition and available mortgage money, in addition to the general economy.
Rental real estate has several different tax advantages. The profits are taxed at lower, long-term capital gains rates for investors who have owned the property for more than 12 months. While the property is being rented, investors are given a non-cash deduction based on cost recovery of the improvements. Tax deferred exchanges can also be available if specific conditions are met which allow an investor to postpone paying the tax on the gain.
It isn’t necessary to have a partner with most rental homes if the investor can qualify for the mortgage. This allows investor control to make all the decisions that an owner is entitled such as setting the rent, making improvements and determining when to sell.
Rental real estate can earn a much higher rate of return than other available investments while providing income during the holding period. It certainly is worth investigating the possibility with a real estate professional who understands and works with rental properties.
It’s a Big Difference
Let’s say that you just won $8,750 on a lottery scratch-off ticket. You’ve decided to be frugal and invest the money and have decided on three alternatives: buying a certificate of deposit, a mutual fund or use the money as a down payment for a $250,000 home.
To compare the three alternatives, let’s look at the equity in each one three years from now.
The certificate of deposit can be invested at 1.3% in today’s market and you believe you can reasonably earn 5% on a mutual fund. You expect the home to appreciate at three percent a year.
The certificate of deposit would be worth $9,096 at the end of three years and the mutual fund would be worth $10,129. However, the equity in the home at the end of three years would be $45,204. That is a four time’s higher yield on the home.
One of the main reasons for the big difference is that the buyer benefits from leverage: the use of borrowed funds to increase the results. The $8,750 down payment is controlling a $250,000 investment. The appreciation is determined by the price and not merely by the cash invested. Another factor is that the loan balance is smaller at the end of five years than originally borrowed due to amortization.
There are certainly other factors to consider such as maintenance and other expenses but when the financial benefits are as strong as they are, it certainly deserves a much closer investigation. One of the first things to consider is whether the borrower can qualify for a mortgage and the only satisfactory way to be certain is to get pre-approved by a trusted mortgage professional.
Use the Your Best Investment calculator to make your own projections.
During campaign season, it is not unusual to hear a candidate criticized because they make a lot of money but pay little in income tax. While it might not seem fair, taxpayers are allowed to arrange their affairs so that they minimize the amount of tax paid.
Salary, wages and commissions, along with interest and dividends are taxed at ordinary income rates which can range from 10% to 39.6%. However, capital gains rates, for property held more than 12 months, are much lower ranging from 0% to 20%. Taxpayers in the 25-35% brackets pay LTCG rates of 15%.
The profit on rental property enjoys the lower long-term capital gains rates as compared to the profit on “flipped” property which is taxed at ordinary income rates.
Investments in rental homes generate income, provide depreciation for tax shelter, have equity build-up due to the amortizing loan, leveraged growth due to the borrowed funds and appreciation. The profits could be considerably higher than alternative investments and the profits taxed at lower rates.
The advantage is available to people who understand the tax laws and choose to arrange their activities so they pay a minimal amount of tax. The advantage is available to all taxpayers, not just the rich. In fact, implementing these types of strategies could lead to an increase in wealth.
In the last few years, some people who were unable to sell their homes, rented them instead. The market has improved in most places and the home may easily sell now and possibly, for a higher price.
Even though the opportunity to sell in the near future might not change, there could be another opportunity that could quickly disappear for some homeowners.
Most homeowners are aware that there is a capital gain exclusion on the profits of a principal residence of up to $250,000 for single taxpayers and $500,000 for married taxpayers filing jointly. The rule requires that you must own and use the home as your principal residence for two out of the last five years.
A homeowner can rent their home for up to three years and still be eligible for the exclusion. As an example, if they had owned and lived in it for two years and then rented it for two and a half years, they would need to sell and close the transaction before the remaining six months expired.
If there was a $200,000 profit in the home that didn’t qualify for the exclusion, a 15% long-term capital gain tax of $30,000 could become due depending on the tax bracket of the owner. With some careful planning, the tax could be avoided. Awareness of the time frames and the right team of tax and real estate professionals could save a considerable amount of the homeowner’s equity.
It’s surprising to realize that most people spend more time planning their next vacation or cell phone purchase than they do on their own retirement. Let’s look at a hypothetical situation where you have $35,000 to invest for your retirement in 15 years. Have you compared where you might have the best opportunity?
The safest place to put it might be a certificate of deposit because it’s insured but unfortunately, rates would be less than 2%. The value would grow to $47,233.26 at the end of the 15 year holding period.
Investing in a mutual fund has more risk but also a greater opportunity to earn a higher rate of return. An estimated 7% return would project an accumulated value of $99,713.14.
Using the $35,000 for a 20% down payment and closing costs on a $150,000 rental home could realize much higher proceeds. Using a familiar investment analysis spreadsheet, the $35,000 could grow to a future wealth position of $153,302. This analysis considers leverage, 3% appreciation, re-investing cash flows, 7% sales expenses and paying applicable taxes which the previous examples do not.
The rate of return on these three examples are 2% for the CD, 7% for the mutual fund and a comparable 14.19% return on the rental. As the rate of return increases on investments, additional risk is reasonable.
Most people are much more familiar with homes than they are with mutual funds, bonds and other similar investments. The same REALTOR® who helped you with your home can help you invest in a rental home.
Real estate is the overwhelming preferred choice by Americans as identified in a recent survey. With the Dow Jones industrial average reaching record highs, it might be expected that the stock market would be the favored choice but that wasn’t the outcome.
Analysis of the report suggests that the popularity for houses could be that they are tangible assets that you can see where your money is actually invested compared to stocks and bonds which tend to be unclear where the money is invested.
There are several distinct advantages of homes as investments over other popular alternatives.
- High loan-to-value mortgages available
- At fixed interest rates
- For long periods of time
- On appreciating assets
- With definite tax advantages
- And reasonable control.
Another advantage of rental homes is that most people are comfortable with them. It is the same type of property that they live in but used as a rental. They have a tendency to understand the key components such as value, appreciation, rent, maintenance and financing.
Special consideration is made by IRS for the sale of a jointly-owned principal residence after the death of a spouse. Surviving spouse may qualify to exclude up to $500,000 of gain instead of the $250,000 exclusion for single people if certain requirements are met.
- The sale needs to take place no more than two years after the date of death of the spouse.
- Surviving spouse must not have remarried as of the sale date.
- The home must have been used as a principal residence for two of the last five years prior to the death.
- The home must have been owned for two of the last five years prior to the death.
- Survivor can count any time when spouse owned the home as time they owned it and any time the home was the spouse’s residence as time when it was their residence.
- Neither spouse may have excluded gain from the sale of another principal residence during the last two years prior to the death.
If you have been widowed in the last two years and have substantial gain in your principal residence, it would be worth investigating the possibilities. Time is a critical factor in qualification. Contact your tax professional for advice about your specific situation. Contact me to find out what your home is worth in today’s market. See IRS Publication 523 – surviving spouse.
During the Great Recession, some homeowners elected to rent their home rather than sell it for less than it was worth.
IRS tax code allows for a temporary rental of a principal residence without losing the exclusion of capital gain based on some specific time limits. During the five year period ending on the date of the sale, the taxpayer must have:
- Owned the home for at least two years
- Lived in the home as their main home for at least two years
- Ownership and use do not have to be continuous nor occur at the same time
If a home has been rented for more than three years, the owner will not have lived in it for two of the last five years. So the challenge for homeowners with gain in a rented principal residence that they don’t want to have to recognize is to sell and close the transaction prior to the crucial date.
Assume a person was selling a property which had been rented for 2 ½ years but had previously been their home for over two years. To qualify for the exclusion of capital gain, the home needs to be ready to sell, priced correctly, sold and closed within six months.
All of the gain may not qualify for the exclusion if depreciation has been taken for the period that it was rented. Depreciation is recaptured at a 25% tax rate.
A $200,000 gain in a home could have a $30,000 tax liability. Minimizing or eliminating unnecessary taxes is a legitimate concern and timing is important.
Selling a home for the most money is one thing; maximizing your proceeds is another. For more information, see IRS publication 523 and an example on the IRS website and consult a tax professional.