Property Investing
- Managing Risk 2

Real Estate Investing

Property Investing - Managing Risk 2

Investors have a hard life. Rising insurance rates, legal liability, security concerns and increasing interest rates may not be actually conspiring to give them early heart attacks, but it can seem that way. Managing risk is in large part about how to lower uncertainty by dealing appropriately with those and other stress factors.

Start by exercising common sense and gathering as much information about the local market and the general economy in addition to the specifics on an interesting property. Study the numbers on rates of new home construction and the ratio of new to existing property sales. Narrow down to your local market(s) by looking online at existing comparables, but also talk with other local property owners about their concerns and plans.

When building new structures, manage risk by reviewing trade area demand - by demographic and daytime population for commercial structures, for example. Look also at site characteristics and examine local competition and contrast with regional differences. Take some time to find out about upcoming environmental regulations.

Be sure to set aside the needed amount for insurance, and err on the side of too much insurance rather than too little, if minimizing risk is an important goal.

Go into a deal with the maximum available capital by not spreading your resources too thin. Keep borrowing low and avoid ARMs (Adjustable Rate Mortgages) unless they're longer than three years and you expect to sell well within that period. ARMs are inherently higher risk, and the 'interest only' type even more so. Rates tend to rise more quickly than they fall, over the long term.

If you have an ARM and rising monthly payments occur, due to interest rate increases, while the market price is dropping (as may soon be the case), consider selling. Even stocks have to be sold sometimes during a period of declining prices. Capital preservation is important for long term investing, and part of that involves keeping liquid during a 'market correction'.

Some lenders allow borrowing more than 100% of the value of the property. Unless you can use the extra cash in a way that more than compensates for interest and other charges, that's burdensome debt.

Take the time to seek out trustworthy and competent people - don't settle for an uncooperative or arrogant Title company or an unreliable contractor because you're busy. Think in terms of long term relationships. Otherwise, the long term will involve counting financial losses.

Risk can be spread by forming partnerships and, in come cases, by incorporation. Incorporation can allow you to separate personal from business assets, protecting you in case of severe decline. But there are limits - you don't automatically get to walk away from debts by being incorporated. Partnerships though, if you can find reliable and compatible individuals with whom you'll feel comfortable over the long haul, can strengthen your position.

Partners can help fill in gaps in your knowledge and experience, provide additional capital and someone to bounce ideas off of. But choose carefully. Differences of outlook can lead to stagnation when it comes time to take action. Remember, risk can never be reduced to zero.


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