Individual and small investors are a big swathe of homebuyers these days, moving in and buying up homes with cash even as the institutional investors are taking flight.
RealtyTrac reported that the percentage of all-cash buyers has soared in the past year, with 42.7% of all U.S. residential property sales in the first quarter all-cash purchases, up from 37.8% in the previous quarter and up from 19.1% in the first quarter of 2013. (This is the highest level since RealtyTrac began tracking all-cash purchases in the first quarter of 2011.)
Meanwhile, institutional investors are walking away from housing. Institutional investors — entities that have purchased at least 10 properties in a calendar year — accounted for 5.6% of all U.S. residential sales in the first quarter, down from 6.8% in the fourth quarter of 2013 and down from 7% in the first quarter of 2013 to the lowest level since the first quarter of 2012.
Click below to see the chart.
So who are these cash buyers?
“Strict lending standards combined with low inventory continue to give the advantage to investors and other cash buyers in this housing market,” said Daren Blomquist, vice president at RealtyTrac. “The good news is that as institutional investors pull back their purchasing in many markets across the country, there is still strong demand from other cash buyers — including individual investors, second-home buyers and even owner-occupant buyers — to fill the vacuum of demand left by institutional investors.”
So to help out those newly minted landlords and the mom-and-pop operations that are growing, here are five ways to maximize your returns on rental housing, courtesy BiggerPockets blog.
1) Decrease vacancy even if it means cutting your rent
Maximize profits by minimizing vacancy sounds obvious, but the strategies to do it are not easy.
Every month of vacancy costs you 8.3% of your potential yearly revenue, so you would be better off renting every property one month faster for 5% less rent, two months faster for 10% less rent, and so on.
I once had a vacancy problem that cost me almost six months in rent. By my calculations above, I would have made out much better if I had lowered rents by 30% and found a good tenant immediately! Of course, I was not expecting such a problem in the beginning.
2) Minimize turnover
The price of rent is not the only factor involved in tenant retention. The other key that is in your control is customer service. Whether you personally manage your properties or have a property manager, make sure that your tenants are treated with respect and professionalism, their concerns are valued, and matters are dealt with urgently and to their satisfaction. A good tenant/landlord relationship keeps tenants from thinking about moving.
3) Increase rent, strategically
Once you have acquired a tenant, there is a cost for them to move. If the value of their current rental is significantly better than the value of a new rental plus the cost of moving, you still have the upper hand.
Make sure that you know the rents in the area, researching sites such as Zillow, rentometer, Craigslist, and the MLS if you have access. You may find that there is plenty of room to increase your revenue a small percentage each year (1-3%) while remaining competitive, and there is no reason to give this up.
4) Be prompt about late fees
Showing kindness and respect to your tenants does not mean being a pushover when it comes to rent collection and late fees.
Collections are not the most enjoyable part of being a landlord, but are an essential part of running a profitable business. Make sure that your tenants understand that this is a business, they have signed a contract, and it is your job to complete this transaction, following the contract and all applicable laws
5) Add revenue streams
If you are particularly entrepreneurial, you may even find additional revenue streams in your SFRs. An idea that I have had is to offer house cleaning and landscaping services to my tenants at the time they sign the lease. These are responsibilities that they have per the lease and may not be excited about taking on.
Basically, you become a one stop shop for taking care of their home. You can negotiate the rates of independent landscaping and cleaning services, contract them out, and collect a fee as the contractor. For instance, if a cleaner agrees on a $75/month fee, you may offer the service to your tenant for $85/month, increasing your annual revenue by $120.
The full report with more details and ideas can be read here.