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Post Boom Real Estate Investing

Aug 17, 2007
The boom times of buying a single family home or condo and quickly flipping it for a profit has passed. In spite of warnings of housing bubbles and a real estate market waiting for disaster, investors this time last year were feverishly buying up real estate in Florida, Las Vegas, Arizona and other hot spots. One year later what has happened? Have these people gotten burned? Have they made Hugh profits? Well it all depends on the market. There is not just one real estate market in the US but many local markets. Yes market conditions have changed. The stories have also changed.

Investors who got in early indeed have made profits. Latecomers have not been as fortunate. Dreams of real estate riches for these people likely have not materialized. Why? Because of the timeframe people were looking to make money in and their finances. If flipping for profit was not a goal, many investors bought investor homes, planning to rent them out to cover the cost of the mortgage on the investment home. Well what if there are no renters? Then the investor must have the funds available to pay the mortgage while looking for a renter. As a last resort the investor could always sell the home. Suppose there are many investors in one area facing the same problem and they all try to sell their investment homes at the same time? Now the home values start to drop, homes sit on the market for a long time and overextended investors are facing a financial nightmare. This has happened in some areas of the country. This is how an overheated real estate market unravels. Are we seeing those kinds of markets now?

Not too many. One of the real estate markets that saw the greatest influx of investors was in the Phoenix area. When you get too many investors buying up homes, the local market becomes more volatile. As a result some zip codes in the Phoenix area are seeing a decline in prices and some are not. One thing in common is a slower appreciation of home prices. In the worst hit areas there are price declines.

Looking at the nationwide picture we see foreclosure rates rising in areas like southern California. In spite of the rising foreclosure rates, they are still well below historical highs. The situation bears watching, however at this point it is not ominous.

The main point for real estate investors is their timeframe and financial situation. We just had our boom. Making large profits in three years just isn't going to happen. If investors are looking at holding properties for ten years of more they should be fine.

Investors need o lookout for real estate 'gurus' pushing investment homes and the prospect of managing and renting the properties for the investor. If you can't afford to carry the mortgage for many months if renters cannot be found, don't invest. Finding renters has to do with many factors. Areas with a large increase in job growth are most likely to support a strong rental market. Don't believe real estate property pushers who give high rental rate figures based on recent years. The markets have changed and finding renters may not be as easy. Buying in areas that are flooded with other investors buying properties may also put you at risk. There is no single national real estate market, just local markets. Do your research before you invest.
About the Author
Andrew Goldman is president of Metal Rabbit media services, the operator of Get Real Estate Info He has written a number of articles on finance and environment over the last ten years.
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