Imagine you have finally reached the point where you want or need to quit working. You look at your bank account and fret each time you need money for groceries, not to mention when the car breaks down, or your home needs a new roof. Sure, you have significant assets in the bank, but you also hope to have several decades of spending ahead of you. Your money needs to last long enough to cover the rest of your life. Every penny that comes out feels like it brings you one step closer to being broke, or to surviving on dehydrated noodles and memories of happier days.
That’s a pretty bleak picture of what are supposed to be the “Golden Years.” Thankfully, you can avoid retirement meals of ramen seasoned with your tears. It is essential to focus on ways to have funds coming in so that you have to withdraw less of your nest egg to fund your daily life. One of the best ways to have income long after you’ve stopped working is to own investment properties. A retirement investment property can be the difference between that stressful, culinarily-deprived existence and a retirement spent enjoying life. Here are some of the factors to keep in mind when selecting properties.
Ideally, the homes you purchase will have positive cash flow from the day you sign the lease with your first tenant. But one of the incredible things about rental properties is that the investment improves over time. Rents increase while your expenses stay nearly the same. Property taxes and maintenance costs may rise, but your fixed-rate mortgage payment remains the same. That means the net profit on the property increases over time. To take best advantage of this, you should start investing as soon as you can afford that first rental property. The longer you own it, the better it performs.
And once you have one property, focus on what you need to do to purchase the next one. The sooner you establish a portfolio of investment properties, the more time you have to see those net profit numbers increase before you need to use the income in retirement. Prioritize buying investment properties sooner rather than later to give them as much time as possible to increase their profitability.
Buy Before You Retire
Right now, your retirement years may seem far away. While choosing to purchase real estate can speed up the time it takes for you to have enough money to retire, the end of your working years still may be a decade or more away. But putting off the purchase of a retirement investment property until you blow out the candles on the cake at your retirement party is a mistake.
Unless you plan to pay cash for the property, you’ll need to qualify for a loan. While getting financing based on assets is possible, it is more challenging, and you may pay higher interest rates. Many lenders will only look at monthly income. They aren’t sure what to do with you if you don’t have a regular paycheck. So it’s critical to build your real estate portfolio before you hand over your security badge and leave the office for good.
Good Property is More Important Than Cheap Property
If you are a novice investor, looking for the cheapest properties available to get started can be tempting, especially with that “Start Early” rule in mind. However, cheap properties often come with more problems. They are cheap for a reason. It might be because they need significant work, which means you will spend more fixing them up than you would have if you’d just bought a home in better condition. Or perhaps that “deal” is in an area where few people want to live or on a floor plan most people find awkward. In that case, you may struggle to find tenants, market rental rates will be lower, and your tenants may be more likely to miss payment or vacate early. Spending half as much isn’t better if you only bring in a third as much.
Choosing a solid rental property is an art. You need to understand market conditions and what renters in a specific neighborhood are looking for. A roommate-friendly layout may be best if the property is near a university. If it is in an area known for great schools, your most likely tenants will be families. In that case, you’d want something attractive to people with children. When in doubt, work with a real estate investment group. Their expertise can save you time and stress when determining which properties will be the best long-term bet.
Plan to Hold
Retirement-funding real estate will perform best if you plan to buy and hold. Your goal should be to buy for the long-term. Then add more properties as you are able rather than selling to upgrade. This long-term perspective makes selecting the right properties even more critical. You don’t want to be forced to sell an underperforming property in a few years. That restarts the clock on all the benefits that time buys you in the investment property market.
Additionally, selling properties can have tax consequences. While you may be able to do a 1031 exchange, that’s not always possible. If you continue to hold your properties, you don’t have to worry about capital gains, depreciation recapture, or any other complications from selling your investments.
Holding your properties long-term also means you don’t lose some of your profits to the transaction fees associated with selling and buying. Realtor fees, inspections, closing costs, and other expenses mean less money in your pocket or your retirement accounts.
If you see another property that you think will make even more money than your current one, explore leveraging your existing properties to make that purchase. In other words, don’t swap your current rental for a new one; find a way to own both.
Focusing on these factors when buying investment real estate can mean more comfort and less stress in your future. As you look ahead to your retirement years, these tips can help you choose properties that will make your retirement dreams come true. You’ll have the funds to spend enjoying life, living comfortably, and perhaps even traveling to Japan for the perfect bowl of ramen.