Real Estate Investment – How to Profit During a Housing Market Slump

Currently, real estate investment is a hot subject matter. Nearly everyone is wondering if they should sell, buy, trade or avoid investing altogether. In recent weeks, the topic of trading real estate has made headline news. With the lack of qualified buyers and housing market slump, many investors are discovering it is sometimes smarter to trade like-kind properties.
 
When a real estate investment is traded for like-kind property, it is referred to as a 1031 exchange. In order to participate in 1031 exchanges, real estate investors must retain the services of a Qualified Intermediary (QI). Investors engaging in 1031 exchanges must adhere to Internal Revenue Service guidelines set forth in Section 1031 of the IRS code.
 
1031 exchanges allow investors to exchange properties while deferring capital gains and depreciation recapture taxes. Real estate is not the only property that can be exchanged through 1031. All types of investment property including equipment, boats and airplanes can be traded.
 
1031 exchanges prohibit the exchange of houses used as personal residences or vacation homes. However, if the real estate is rented out on a regular basis, houses can be traded for other rental homes.
 
Another popular real estate investment strategy is purchasing distressed properties such as foreclosure or bank owned houses. Distressed properties typically require considerable repairs or renovations, but this is not always the case. Foreclosure homes are sold under market value through public auctions. If no one bids on the property, it is returned to the bank.
 
Currently, bank owned homes are being sold for around 80 cents on the dollar. Also referred to as real estate owned or REO properties, investors must negotiate with the bank’s loss mitigation department. Purchasing REO homes generally requires more time and effort than investing in foreclosure homes. Investors should be prepared to engage in multiple counter-offers with lenders offering REO houses for sale.
 
Many real estate investors purchase bank owned and foreclosure homes for the purpose of house flipping. Flipping houses for profit is not nearly as easy as the popular television shows portray it to be. Simple repairs oftentimes turn into major expenses. Major repairs require licensed contractors, permits and inspections. Before investing in distressed properties, make certain to estimate the true cost of repairs. Otherwise, you could end up with an investment nightmare.
 
A lesser known real estate investment is probate properties. When a person dies, everything they own must pass through the probate process. Probate can last between six months and three years. During this time, the estate is responsible for taking care of the real estate. This can include paying mortgage payments, property taxes, insurance, and maintenance. If the estate does not have sufficient funds, a probate judge can order the probate executor to sell the real estate.
 
Probate properties are oftentimes profitable gems, but locating them does require a bit of detective work. Real estate investors will need to visit the court house where probate matters are handled. Probate information is a matter of public record and contains valuable information about the estate, as well as the contact information of the estate administrator.
 
Many estate executors are unaware they can sell real estate during probate. Offering to buy their property can eliminate financial burden and help the executor expedite the probate process. If multiple heirs are entitled to probate property they must all agree to sell the real estate unless a judge has ordered the administrator to sell the property.
 
These are but a few real estate investment opportunities. While the media projects constant gloom and doom, it is important to remember that real estate has always been one of the most valuable investment opportunities. Those who invest now can potentially reap massive profits later. Just remember, don’t invest more than you can afford to lose.