Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Is your state taxing you fairly?

How do you feel about paying state and local taxes? I’m talking about income taxes, sales and excise taxes, property taxes, and more.

There’s a good chance you think you’re treated unfairly. And you might be right. On the other hand, compared to residents in other states you might not have it too bad. 

To see where your state ranks on the tax-fairness scale, check out this survey by Wallethub

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Student housing taking off!

In July, I gave you the preliminary results of a survey of real estate experts showing the types of commercial properties offering the best potential for investors. Student housing came in as one of the top sectors. And so far this school year is shaping up pretty good.

Occupancy is running around 96 percent, up from 94.4 percent last year. Rental growth is up, too, at 2 percent with many properties seeing 3 percent or greater. And developers have 48,216 new beds under construction. (Click here for more details.) 

Educational Realty Trust (EDR) and American Campus Communities (ACC) are the largest REITs specializing in student housing. You might want to check them out. 

Friday, September 25, 2015

Survey reveals 2 crucial ingredients for a regret-free retirement

E*TRADE released its recent quarterly tracking study of experienced investors. Not particularly surprising is that many wished they had learned more about saving and investing for retirement.

The financial firm includes a survey of top concerns participants have, why they’re saving for the long term, and how they’ve managed their retirement investment funds. 

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

“Holy toxic toilet, Batman!”

That’s what Robin might have screamed to the Caped Crusader if he had seen the results of a recent Aflac study.

The insurance company found that 25 percent of working Americans would rather clean their toilets and 20 percent would rather do their taxes than select a health care plan.

However, despite the painful task of researching benefits and reading the fine print, spending the time to understand what’s available from your employer could result in long-term benefits for you and your family. 

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Self-storage on the rise

Over five years ago I wrote about one of my favorite real estate sectors: Self-storage. And I added a few paragraphs on Public Storage (PSA). Since then PSA shares have risen 130.9 percent, for an annualized return of 16.3 percent. That does not include the attractive 3+ percent dividend.  

The future looks good for the sector.

According to MJ Partners, a Chicago-based real estate brokerage and investment banking firm, private owners of self-storage facilities are reporting 89 percent occupancy. And the five major public-traded firms, like PSA, have seen 92 percent occupancy. Strong demand for storage and limited supply are driving these record numbers. 

If you didn’t jump into PSA when I suggested it in back in 2010, now might be a good time to give it a second look. As vacancy rates fall and rents grow, investor demand for this cash cow is bound to improve. 

Friday, September 18, 2015

Moscow mansion rental sets record

On Wednesday, I wrote why experts say the U.S. residential real estate market is the place to be. Well, it looks like select properties in Russia are doing pretty good, too.

According to The Moscow Times, news website reported the most expensive Moscow mansion currently on the rental market can be yours for 2 million rubles ($29,000) per month. 

That sets a rental record for the year, and is two times more expensive than one month ago.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

The U.S. residential real estate market is the place to be

The U.S. economy is in its fifth year of recovery, and the housing market has now seen three years of growth from its lows of 2009. As of April 2015 prices were up 31.2 percent from their 2009 trough, and stand within 12.9 percent of their 2006 high. The prime markets of cities such as San Francisco and New York have already exceeded their former peaks.

What’s ahead for the rest of the year and into 2016?

Savills World Research recently released its forecast for residential markets across the world. You’ll get an in-depth look at which markets have seen the end to the boom and bust cycle, who’s buying where around the world, where investors are seeking higher yielding secondary property, and much more. 

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Social Security: Get the maximum benefit

To receive the maximum Social Security retirement benefit, a worker’s earnings must equal or exceed the current base of $118,500.

That’s almost 50 percent higher from 1994, when it was $60,600.

The maximum monthly benefit if you retire in 2015 at full retirement age is now $2,663; the average for January was $1,328. 

Source: Social Security Administration 

Monday, September 14, 2015

NY landlord breaks into apartment

If you own rental properties, there is a right way and a wrong way to gain access to your units. This NY landlord obviously didn’t know that. 

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Will you carry the extra load?

As summer draws to a close and those jockeying for the White House stump harder for your support, you might keep this in mind:

According to the U.S. Debt Clock, federal tax revenues are now $3.2 trillion. And they’ll jump to between $3.8 and $4.1 trillion in four years. So where do you think our elected officials will get the additional bucks? Will it come from those who have no money, or from people who are already paying taxes?

The clock also shows that over 76 million people (24 percent of our population) are on Medicaid, which along with Medicare is the largest budget item. And 45 million receive food stamps. Do you think those numbers will drop?

I doubt it.

That tells me that Washington will continue to be under pressure to support more people. And every dollar that politicians spend, it’s a dollar they took from taxpayers.

To sum it up, expect taxes to rise … no matter who ends up on Pennsylvania Avenue.

Your best course of action is to carefully consider the tax implications of your financial decisions. That includes when to begin Social Security benefits; when and how much to withdraw from tax-deferred accounts, such as your IRA and 401(k); and how to pass assets to your survivors. 

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Baby boomers, not millennials, will drive strong rental market

If you are a landlord with a handful of properties in your town, I don’t recommend spending a lot of time studying macro-trend reports. What’s happening in your area is much more important to your cashflow.

Still, taking a look at what experts say is going on around the country can give you an idea of the overall long-term state of the rental market, which last year looked pretty good with a 4.6 percent growth rate. And there is no sign of it slowing down.   
According to a recent report by the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA), by 2024, demographic and economic changes will bring what could be one of the largest expansions in the history of the U.S. rental market.
The MBA claims baby boomers will drive that increase, with 33 million more renter households in 2024 headed by someone 60 or older than there are today. That’s because as boomers age, they’ll want to downsize into smaller, maintenance-free, living that rental housing offers.
What does that mean to you as a landlord?
The rental market is good now and should continue to grow with newly-employed millennials pushing that growth. However, based on the above forecasts, the longer-term growth will continue due to demographic shifts rather than the economic cycle.
As you consider investing in a single-family house, a duplex, or an apartment complex, picture what your prospective tenant will be looking for a few years from now so you can keep ahead of the curve.
There’s a good chance she’ll be in her late 60s or early 70s. She just sold her home and doesn’t want to be bothered with all repairs and the maintenance that come with home ownership. She’ll want to be near a hospital, doctors, a grocery store, and an airport. An elevator for above ground-level apartments is a must. 
A park within a short walking distance will be important. Plus she’ll need an enclosed parking space or at least an easily-accessible bicycle rack. And you’ll have to allow her to have a small pet. Security will also be at the top of her list, which could mean providing a security system for the home and exterior lighting. Free Wi-Fi to keep in touch with children, grandchildren, and friends would be a plus.
Keep the above features in mind when shopping for a new property. You might even consider adding one or two of them to your existing rentals to put you a notch above the competition and justify a higher rent. 

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Landlord killed over $58 ...

Attention landlords: Here’s a perfect example on why you should pick your fights wisely.

What office amenities do tenants want?

If you’re considering investing in an office building, even a small one, you might make sure it has at least some of these amenities.