Bisnow published an insightful article that touches on the ongoing yet sensitive subject of California's affordable housing crisis, a crisis that is threatening the economic vitality of the state.
For those who invest in real estate in the Golden State, it makes sense to ask where the greatest need for investment lies. But the most pressing need is likely for additional housing close to jobs, which therefore represents the most interesting opportunity for investors. Jan Brzeski, Managing Director and Chief Investment Officer of Arixa Capital shares his insight to the growing opportunities in California.
This weekend, the LA Times published a front page article detailing how celebrity muscle is behind some of the biggest real estate makeovers in Los Angeles. Arixa Capital's Jan Brzeski was invited to share his insights regarding the luxury flipping market as Arixa Capital is a private lender that provides financing to developers in California who are purchasing luxury homes to renovate and resell.
On August 16th, Bloomberg published an article entitled "L.A.'s Trophy Homes Starring in Sequel for Luxury Market" exploring the spike in buyer demand for move-in ready luxury homes in Los Angeles. Jan Brzeski was tapped to discuss lending to spec builders in the luxury market and the types of loans available through Arixa Capital. Read the full article
Arixa Capital has released a new white paper focused on the U.S. housing market and single family homes as an asset class for investors to consider. The white paper is based on Arixa's concrete experience investing in this area in recent years, working with local operators who buy properties in a specific geographic area, renovate them, and either lease the homes or resell them.
The white paper explains various ways that investors can gain exposure to this asset class, which Warren Buffett recently endorsed as underpriced and attractive. The author explains the advantages and disadvantages of various investment strategies for both active and passive investors.
The white paper also explains that the activity of thousands of local operators is already helping to work through the backlog of foreclosed homes. Attracted by appealing profits, local operators will help the housing market to heal over the next several years. Policies that aim to solve the problem on a mass scale are neither needed nor advisable.
For a copy of our white paper, please click here.
This edition of Arixa's newsletter includes:
- The growth of our investment programs and the launch of our second fund
- Our annual panel discussion at UCLA in conjunction with the Ziman Center and the Anderson School
- An update on Arixa's first assignment as a court-appointed receiver; and
- Information on a new white paper by Jan Brzeski
To all who registered for and/or attended our event last week, thank you for coming. If you were able to attend, we hope you found it valuable. If you are interested in the photos that were taken of the event, please click here.
To read more about the event, please click here.
The unique value proposition for this event series is the high quality networking and educational opportunity combined with the very low registration fee ($15 for pre-registration or $20 at the door). The fact that beer, wine and appetizers are included in the price is also popular with participants.
For those of you who were unable to attend, or would simply like to listen to the discussion again, the UCLA Ziman Center was kind enough to record the event again this year. We plan to post this video very soon, so please check back on this blog for that link.
If you have suggestions for making the event even better next year, or would like to reach us for any other reason, we would love to hear from you. Please email Jan Brzeski at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This year's event is set for Wednesday, February 8 at 6:30 p.m. at the Anderson School. For details, including speakers and registration, please visit the conference website: http://arixacapital.com/conference. What Makes this Event Special Last year, our event drew over 220 attendees for networking, refreshments and a lively panel discussion among some of Southern California's most established and interesting real estate investors. The reason our event has succeeded while other conferences sometimes draw limited attendance include three main factors:
(1) Great Panel. The panel discussion is unusually candid, as we track a core group of investors through the full real estate market cycle. This "longitudinal study" aspect of our event is unique. We are told each year that our panel is one of the best, or the best, among all the California conferences.
(2) The Price is Right. At only $20 per person ($15 with pre-registration), including food, beer and wine, there is no better value than our conference. We thank our key sponsors including the Ziman Center at the Anderson School, and Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, for keeping the cost to a minimum.
(3) Excellent Networking. Our event starts with a one-hour reception during which you will meet valuable contacts in a collegial atmosphere. At the reception and after the discussion, you can meet the panelists and other professionals and investors in our industry.
Jan Brzeski is a contributor to Seeking Alpha. The article below is a copy of what he posted on August 30, 2011. To access his article on Seeking Alpha, please click here. In the first article in this series, we explored how "replacement cost" analysis suggests that single family homes in Phoenix are undervalued, and why they are much more likley to go up in value in coming years, rather than moving down.
In this article, we explore a second, independent, strong signal that single family housing in some areas is undervalued. For this article, we will switch to inland Southern California rather than Phoenix, since I know the rental economics better in this area.
Single Family Rental Economics Below is a home about an hour from Los Angeles that was purchased for a little over $100,000 in early 2010.
The buyers of this home are a father and son team who have purchased about 100 homes in the same area in the past two years. They have sold about sixty homes after rehabilitating them, and they have held onto the other 40 homes to create rental income.
They spent about $13,000 rehabilitating this property, so their total cost basis is about $115,000. Today, the house is rented for $1,450 per month. Assuming one month of vacancy each year, rental income is about $16,000 per year. Operating expenses are about $5,000 per year. Net income is about $11,000 per year. On their cost basis, the owners are getting about a 9.6% cash-on-cash return ($11,000/$115,000).
If they bought a similar home today, in need of repairs, direct from a bank, the market is more competitive and they would pay more--probably $130,000 instead of $100,000. Even so, they would still have well over a 7% cash on cash return. Once rehabbed, the property would be worth in the high $100s. This property is appraised at a retail value of $195,000 today.
A Quick Look At Multifamily Rental Economics Let's compare the single family home "fix-and-rent" strategy with buying apartments.
If one were to buy a 100 unit "Class B" apartment building in the same area as this home, it would trade at a capitalization rate of about 6.5%. That is, the income before debt service would represent a yield of about 6.5% as compared to the purchase price.
Given today's low interest rates on multifamily properties courtesy of Fannie Mae (currently under 5% for a 10-year maturity), the cash-on-cash return would be okay from the apartment property--probably about 5% after accounting for principal payments required by the mortgage, reserves and other factors.
However, if interest rates go up, or Fannie Mae stops subsidizing the apartment market by providing such low rates for apartment owners, the value of such assets could easily drop. Investors look at their cash-on-cash returns after debt service, and apartment values have been driven up by very low interest rates for apartment loans. If these rates were to go higher, apartment values would drop, just like bond values.
The Risk Of Buying Apartments Today The bottom line for apartment investors is, they can enjoy low single digit cash-on-cash returns. However, in my view, there is a substantial chance of capital loss, even if rents keep going up, because higher interest rates will lead to higher capitalization rates which means lower values.
For example, suppose we have a change in cap rates from 6.5% to 7.5% (which is historically a more typical cap rate for Class B apartments in secondary markets). A property with annual cash flow before debt service of $300,000 drops in value from $4.6 million to $4.0 million--a 13% drop in value. Now suppose that the property has a loan of $2.3 million. The $600,000 drop in value now equates to a reduction in equity from $2.3 million to $1.7 million, or a 26% drop in equity.
Apartments are currently a favorite asset class for real estate investors, but as the numbers show, there is real risk for apartment buyers when cap rates are at historic lows, as they are now.
Apartments vs. Single Family Home Rentals If, instead of buying a 100 unit apartment building, one were to purchase, say, 60 homes in the same area, there would be certain advantages and disadvantages.
The apartments would be much easier to manage, since they are all grouped together and there are economies of scale. Also, it is easy to get financing to buy apartments, while financing to buy single family homes as an investment is difficult to find and expensive.
The single family homes have the advantage that the current yield (cap rate) is a little higher than the current yield on apartments. Say, 8% vs. 6.5%. They also have one other important advantage. The homes can be sold individually, and if they are purchased from a bank by an experienced operator, they can be bought at "wholesale" prices.
As a result, a home bought for $130,000 and rehabbed for $15,000, for a total cost basis of $145,000, might be worth $185,000 once it is fixed up, because it can then be purchased by a family and once fixed up, the home will qualify for Fannie Mae or HUD financing (which increases the affordability for families substantially). After accounting for broker fees, there is still maybe $25,000 or $30,000 of equity created in the home, by virtue of a favorable purchase and an efficient rehabilitation, both of which create real value.
By contrast, there is almost no way to purchase apartments at "wholesale cost", at least not within an hour's drive of Los Angeles. Anything worth owning will become a competitive auction led by the large number of opportunistic investors who have been trying to buy apartments since the downturn began. The most common complaint from these savvy investors is that there is too much competition, and not enough product available to buy.
Conclusion Most members of the Seeking Alpha community have no interest in being landlords, let alone being landlords for a portfolio of single family homes. The point of this article is two-fold:
The attractive economics of the "fix-and-rent" market today, as compared with the apartment investment market, suggests that home values are near a floor in the most beaten down areas of the Southwestern U.S. It is hard to see values falling much further when already the numbers are compelling for investors to purchase these properties at current prices, given current rents; and The "fix-and-rent" strategy outlined in this article can be accessed by passive investors as well, but only if they know the right people. The key is to find trustworthy operators with a demonstrated track record, and to be able to structure a mutually favorable program to deliver cash flow and a portion of any equity created to the investors. And to insist that the operators have real "skin in the game" in the form of capital alongside the non-operator investors. The Best Of Times For Single Family Home Investors Who Can Execute
For those seeking to gain exposure to real estate intelligently, "small is beatiful." In other words, unglamorous investments like a portfolio of single family homes in a blue collar neighborhood trumps "trophy properties" like pricy Manhattan office buildings--if one is looking for current cash flow and solid risk-adjusted returns.
Several years from now, many investors will look back at the investments that are being made today by obscure but hard-working teams like the father and son team that bought the property pictured above, and they might ask themselves, "why didn't I put some money into that?"
The answer is, this is a truly contrarian strategy and it is non-scalable, so you won't hear about it from any mainstream firms who need to invest on a large scale.
Alternative Investment Seminar
Instructor: Jan B. Brzeski
Date: Thursday April 21, 2011
Time: 5:00 - 7:00 p.m.
April 21st Alternative Investment Class
Please join us Wednesday, February 2nd at the Anderson School at UCLA for an evening of networking and insights from a group of prominent Los Angeles-based real estate investors. Our confirmed panelists include:
- John Brady, Head of Global Real Estate, Oaktree Capital Management
- Sam Freshman, President and Founder, Standard Management Company
- Bill Lindsay, Founding Partner, Pacific Coast Capital Partners
- Ray Lowe, Senior Vice President, Wells Fargo Real Estate Banking Group
- Jesse Sharf (Moderator), Partner and Co-Chair of Real Estate Department, Gibson Dunn & Crutcher
Once again we are providing wine, beer and hors d'oeuvres all for just $15 if you pre-register. The event starts at 6:30 p.m. at Korn Hall at the Anderson School at UCLA. To learn more or to register, please go to www.stndcap.com/conference or feel free to call me if you have questions about the event. We hope to see you in February.
This event is brought to you by the following sponsors: UCLA Ziman Center and Real Estate Alumni Group; Gibson Dunn & Crutcher; Stanford Professionals in Real Estate; Dartmouth Club of Los Angeles; the Los Angeles Venture Association; and the Anderson Real Estate Association.
The story below highlights what is going to become a frequent occurrence--city and state budgets will be strained by large payments that need to be made to public employee pensions. In this case, the City of L.A. is paying $500 million into the pension of fire and police employees for the next fiscal year One reason for the huge payments is that pension fund administrators made overly-optimistic assumptions about the returns they could generate on their investments. As pensions adjust their assumptions to match today's lower return reality, look for more announcements like this one. Los Angeles City Pension Costs Jump Again | FOX 11 News.