It is the way the property is used that determines the type of property it is, not what it looks like. Based on the intent of the owner, the property could be a principal residence, income property, investment property or dealer property.
A principal residence is a home that a person lives in. There can be only one declared principal residence. It is afforded certain benefits like deducting the interest and property taxes on a taxpayers' itemized deductions, up to limits. Up to $250,000 of gain for a single taxpayer and up to $500,000 for a married couple filing jointly can be excluded from income if the property is owned and used as a principal residence for two out of the previous five years.
An income property is an improved property that is rented for more than 12 months. The improvements can be depreciated based on a 27.5-year life for residential property or 39-years for commercial property. This is a non-cash deduction that shelters income. When the property is sold, the cost recovery is recaptured at a 25% tax rate.
An investment property could be an improved property or vacant land that does not produce income and is not eligible for depreciation or cost recovery. The gain on both income and investment properties are taxed at a lower, long-term capital gain rate and are eligible for a tax deferred exchange.
Second homes are properties that a taxpayer primarily uses for personal enjoyment but is not their principal residence. For IRS purposes, it is treated as an investment property in that the gain is taxed at preferential long-term rates if it is held for more than 12 months. However, it is not eligible for exchanges because personal use properties are excluded from that benefit.
Properties that are built or bought to make a profit are considered inventory and are labeled dealer properties. The gain is taxed at ordinary income rates and they are not eligible for section 1031 deferred exchanges.
The financing available differs considerably based on the intent of the owner which determines the type of property. Owner-occupied homes, used as a principal residence, are eligible for low down payment mortgages like VA, FHA, USDA and conventional ranging from nothing down to 20%.
A second home, in most cases, requires a minimum of 10% down payment. Investment and Income properties, generally, require 20% or more in down payment with some possible exceptions. There is not any long-term financing available for dealer property.
Home improvement loans provide a source of funds for owners to finance the improvements they want to make. These are usually, personal installment loans that are not collateralized by the home itself. Since there is more risk for the lender with this type of loan, the interest rate is higher than a normal mortgage loan.
In today's market, the rates on home improvement loans could vary between 6% and 36%. A borrower's credit score will determine the interest rate; the lower the score, the higher the rate and the higher the score, the lower the rate.
Smaller loan amounts are under $40,000 with larger loan amounts over $40,000 based on the extent of the improvements to be made. With all things being equal, a larger loan may have a lower interest rate.
Besides the interest rate being higher than a regular mortgage, the term is shorter. Similar to a car loan, the term can be between five and seven years. A $50,000 home improvement loan for a borrower, with good but not great credit, could have a 12% interest rate for seven years. That would make the monthly payment $882.64.
An alternative way to fund the improvements would be to do a cash out refinance. These types of loans are collateralized by the home. The current mortgage would be paid off with the new mortgage plus the amount for the improvements. Lenders will usually require that the owner maintain a minimum of 20% equity in the home.
Assuming a homeowner owed $230,000 on the existing mortgage and wanted $50,000 for improvements. The new loan amount would be $280,000 and the home would have to appraise for at least $350,000 for the homeowner to have a 20% equity remaining.
Another thing that occurs on a refinance is that the standard term for mortgages is 30 years which means the owner would be financing the improvements for 30 years instead of a shorter term. The advantage would be a smaller payment.
Let's say in this example, the owner originally borrowed $250,000 at 4.5% for 30 years with a payment of $1,266.71. After 54 payments, the unpaid balance is $230,335. If they did a cash out refinance at 4.5% for 30 years for the additional $50,000 and financed the estimated closing costs of $8,700, the new payment would be $1,464.50.
Using the home improvement loan, the combined payments would be $2,149.35 which would be $684.85 higher. While the cash out refinance produces a lower payment, it adds $8,700 to the amount owed and stretches it out over a longer period. Home improvement loans have lower closing costs than regular mortgage loans.
Another alternative loan is a HELOC or Home Equity Line of Credit which can be explored and compared to the two options mentioned above. If a homeowner is going to finance improvements, a comparison of different types of loans and payments can be helpful in the decision-making process.
A trusted mortgage professional is a valuable resource to assist you with current and accurate information. If you need a recommendation, please call me at .
House-hacking refers to buying a multifamily property on an owner-occupied mortgage, living in one unit and renting the others. If you're thinking about becoming a rental mogul, starting early is an advantage. Not only will you have longer to accumulate a larger portfolio, you can increase the leverage on the first acquisitions if they are owner-occupied.
Leverage is the use of other people's money to finance an investment. The higher the loan-to-value, the greater the leverage which can increase the yield.
A $200,000 rental property with an 80% LTV at 4.5% for 30 years producing a 16.88% before-tax rate of return would increase to a 23% return on investment by increasing the mortgage to 90%. A typical down payment on an investor property in today's market is 20-25% but, in some cases, a higher loan-to-value is possible.
Owner-occupied, multi-unit properties, two to four units, allow a borrower to occupy one of the units and rent the others out. The cash flows from the rental units subsidize the cost of housing for the unit occupied by the owner. VA will guarantee 100% of the mortgage for eligible veterans, while FHA will loan up to 96.5% for qualifying borrowers.
Consider a four-unit property was purchased as owner-occupied and the other three units were rented for $800 each. If an FHA loan was obtained, the owner could live for roughly $355 a month after collecting the rent and paying the expenses. Assume the owner lived in it for two years and then, rented out the fourth unit for the same $800 per month. The cash flow would rise to $4,800 a year with a before-tax rate of return of 30% based on a 2% appreciation.
Rental properties offer the investor to borrow large loan-to-value mortgages at fixed interest rates for up to 30 years on appreciating assets with tax advantages and reasonable control that many other investments don't enjoy.
Some people consider rental properties the IDEAL investment with each letter in the acronym standing for a benefit it provides. It provides income from the rent which many investments do not have. Depreciation is a non-cash deduction from income that increases cash flow. Equity buildup occurs as each payment is made by reducing the principal owed. Appreciation happens over time as the value of the property increases. L stands for leverage that was explained earlier in this article.
You may be able to buy another four unit as an owner-occupant before you need to start using a normal investor's down payment. In the meantime, you could have eight units that are increasing in value while the mortgage balance is decreasing with every payment made. If there is sufficient equity in the properties by the time, you're ready to buy more, you may be able to take cash out of the existing ones to use for the down payments.
This can be a great way to turbocharge your net worth by becoming an owner and a real estate investor at the same time. To learn more about rental properties, download the Rental Income Properties guide and/or contact me at to schedule an appointment to meet to discuss the possibilities.
Read helpful articles and real estate resources shared on behalf Realtor® Broker, BIC Jennifer R. Rhodes of Premier Island Properties LLC