As we begin the long recovery in real estate sales and prices, many real estate investors are coming back to test the waters. The primary motivation seems to be that they can buy inexpensive homes now, rent them at a small negative cash flow for three years and then turn the investment over for a nice total return.
Where I have questioned this practice is whether buying the low-end homes will give the best total return. It seems to me that buying mid-range homes on a golf course or on waterfront lots would seem to give more acceleration on price looking down the road. Several investors I have talked to say "Yes, but I like to stick to the bottom rung on the ladder."
The rents are another issue that I have thought about. Right now rents have crashed due to the large number of homes for sale. Interesting, though, that many renters have already been burned by renting homes in pre-foreclosure or in Short sale status. If the bank evicts the owner, the renter gets swept away with the same broom (or Sheriff). Not nice to get thrown out on short notice after you paid the rent for the month. So what I see happening is that for stable situations, rents have already started to creep up. Ii would expect this situation to accelerate over the next year as more homes are foreclosed and inventory continues to shrink.
I tried to find a Cape Coral Golf Course Home For Rent for a client last week and found NOTHING withing a half mile of the Golf Course. Even called several owners I knew to see if they would have interest. NOTHING. To be sure, there are still several beautiful vacant homes on the Coral Oaks Golf Course, but they are all either builder product or short sale offerings that won't be rented. Two vacant homes sold recently on Coral Oaks, and neither will be a rental.
The Coral Lakes Development had their infamous "sale" last month, adroitly handled by a top Real Estate Professional. All of the builder inventory was sold, mostly to homesteaders. Low-Priced Rentals at Coral Lakes have virtually disappeared from the MLS. Ditto the situation at Tarpon Point and Sandoval. The remaining single family dwellings for rent on the MLS seem to be dominated by the $100 commission generosity, which just might be a reason why nobody has tried to show them.
Talking to a couple of rental agencies recently, I hear a lot of complaints about the workload, due mostly to foreclosures popping up unexpectedly. All of them say that they could rent anything they can get their hands on right now if it is a clean deal.
Where this leads me is that I think rents may move sharply upward in Cape Coral when the "snowbirds" come back in the fall. While few "snowbirds" will look for year-round rentals, they will sop up a lot of seasonal rentals at good prices, thus drying up availability.
The next logical extension of this thought process is that our overall residential real estate recovery will probably accelerate in the fall of 2008. Already, we have had a better April than anybody expected. Very little of the activity came from snowbirds. Just the previously mentioned Investors and homesteaders. And in April, I noticed that REOs are not coming to market quite so aggresively priced. Anything under $100,000 in good condition attracted multiple bids. Hooray!
I'm VERY bullish on the Cape Coral Real Estate Market right now. It looks like the long dry spell is coming to an end.