SPC064 – Fundamentals – Ask Lane – LLCs, Helocs vs Cash Outs, Working in a Sellers Market, Hedge Fund


Whats up Chip, thanks for the questions!

I have become convinced over the past several weeks that i should get into my first SFH rental. [Can’t say I agree since I don’t know your situation]

My first question is, i keep hearing the market is overheated and the experienced guys are taking a break. That obviously concerns me. Should i be extra cautious? My thoughts are if the numbers work (i.e. good cashflow on paper) the market should not matter, am i being naive? Since i am just learning, if i break even and someone else pays off the note and i get the tax breaks (one of my primary goals) am i not still ahead of the game? My problem is I am new and may not see a good vs. bad deal. Are there some good resources you can guide me to on rental unit analysis. Is there a big risk people see that the mortgage tax deduction will go away in the next couple of years? That could be a big negative.

[First people say that we are going into a near (6-18 month correction/recession) is based of some true historical evidence. Typically market cycles last 8-12 years. The past does not predict the future. The future my be a correction in a near term or could be the greatest 4-6 year bull run. Things have stopped making any sense after coming off the gold standard and everything is based off emotions/fear.

I personally think that people who say they are taking their chips off the table and staying in cash are ‘playing the game not to win’. The big dogs can do this because they have substantial amounts of cashflow coming in. You may not – especially if you are in the beginning stages of building a portfolio. If you heard the chat I had with Jorge Newberry on May 31st we briefly discussed the “Art of the Deal” where you make deals based on sound underwriting. Because I work in apartments, the deal needs to be undervalued with under market rents to support a 20% IRR with conservative expectations of the market. That means that the current reversion cap rates don’t continue to decrease like how they are. That means you don’t speculate like a flipper that the market is going to go up. It means in one respect that you are operating independently of the market. LOL Easily said than done and requires you to find the needle in the haystack deal and be able to have the dealmaking abilities to take it down. There is definitely a divide between investors who buy (Good) turnkey SFH, (better) some value add MFH, and (best) value add MFH in distress.

Here is some If-then engineering speak:
If you are buying turnkey, then you are buying the (Good) deals and expect to make very little. If a correction happens, then you will be tested which makes it very important that you buy with proper due diligence and with adequate cashflow. So basically there is a razor-edge margin for error. But hey… its better than the stock market… as long as you can hold on to the home in times of trouble.

So you play this game between optimizing your liquidity and deploying in the Better and Best deals which rarely see the light of day in this Seller’s market.

The Real Estate Guys call this quantum (inefficiently deploying funds) the cost of insurance in times of uncertainty.

Me and my business partner were looking at some 8-50 unit properties in Dallas that looked pretty good but ended up not pulling the trigger because the numbers did not meet our standards. The funny thing is after we got a budget from the property management company, we went over our underwriting with them and the property management company told us point blank that we were underwriting these properties correctly and the deal did not make sense. Unfortunately, 95% of investors are buying things 20% more than they should. These are the suckers who are doing deals just to do deals. Part of the problem is that these investors are not investing their own money and are getting lazy but I’m speculating there.

But it frankly sucks how I am sitting here with my fishing pole in my hand not getting any action 🙁 No one likes a dry spell.

On the other hand be a treasure hunter and do anything unless its gold.

In that theme what are some big mistakes you have made or heard about that might help the next guy to avoid.

Buying from the wrong provider
Even if buying from the good provider, not being educated
Not having a mentor to hold your hand and get every cent in due diligence and to pull you back when the deal does not make sense

Next should i form an LLC? As i researched some select turnkey property tax data i see that only about 30-40% of the final buyers have an LLC. Why such a little percentage? Is there a big disadvantage? I of course will seek professional help. But before i do I would like to have a bit of a baseline to hold an intelligent discussion and to detect poor advice.

Let me first say that I am not a lawyer and everyone has different levels of risk tolerance and more or less to lose. Second, this is a #newbie question that signals indecision as someone thinking more about the “how” and the bad things instead of the why. Its a signal that you are heading down the road of no action. That said, I did not start with an LLC but then grew my entity structure and insurance levels to grow with my portfolio. You have to have balance, don’t put the cart in front of the horse but don’t leave yourself vulnerable. That’s basically a non-answer 😉 and I can go more into it as a coaching client if I know your situation but at the risk of people taking me literally in everything I say, I will not answer this directly because sometimes people fail to think for themselves and this is a highly individual advice. Here is some advice from a real lawyer and http://markjkohler.com/how-many-properties-should-i-put-in-my-llc/?inf_contact_key=7798f73b03f34189c37a4fa58d0e0c94b558ac75c935fe8c2a2a87fad33fdded

And check out his live events. I have been twice and going again this year: https://markjkohler.lpages.co/lane-kawaoka-seattle-wtw-2017/

How do i get good local answers? for example here in Houston a 20-year roof may only last 12-15 years, or so the roofers say. Would someplace like biggerpockets be the best place for questions like those?

Network with local investors.
Add value, don’t be an ask-hole
Sometimes you are going to operate in the dark. Like the disclaimer says “in everything there is risk”. If I take anything from my construction management jobs we always eat up the 10-25% project contingency because you never know what the unknown and unknowable is. Its funny because if you don’t spend your contingency then that is a sign that you are over designing (wasting money) and not accelerating schedule enough. You can mitigate it with a mentor looking out for your best interests but that’s about it. Buy right with cashflow and take into account contingency.

Lastly, I am quite nervous over this new unknown but i have the W2 income to cover a rental so its really just head vs. gut. Any links to general info you could pass my way would be greatly appreciated. I am also trained as an engineer and so you probably can sympathize with the need to analyze things to death.

Cool, you can keep doing what you are doing and you know what is going to happen. Or you can follow the less beaten road and follow in the footsteps of people who have what you want.

Really enjoyed the topics on the last podcast. Wouldn’t mind a more in depth analysis and discussion. I’ve been thinking a lot about lease vs buying a used car (a la Millionaire Next Door). Also the renting vs buying a house. What do you think about with buying, you are locking in your payment for 30 years whereas the rent you’ll pay will go up with inflation. Also, when there’s some equity a HELOC can be pretty powerful. Plus, as a physician, I can get a No money down loan with no pmi. Do you think that changes the decision to buy?

I’ll add this to the ask Lane. But I am not a fan of a Heloc cause you cannot get the whole equity amount as a loan. Normal maximums on Helocs are 80% therefore 20% is never really tappable. So when you are comparing the ROI make sure you are accounting for the 20% that just sits there.

People have been showing me a lot of development deals.

I am sure some people would be interested… personally, I just want stable cashflow in this market. I bring up this vague concept of the Sharpe Index. Part of this is that I know what is a 20% a year deal in MFH and that is all I need… I just need to be patient do what I do and I will hit my goals in a few years. It would be unacceptable for me to blow it just to get there in 1.5-2 years.