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                  News & Views

Could It Be? Rising Home Values In The United States?

Determining The Value Of Your Home In Today’s Market

Finding Home Values Online

How To Get The Most Value For Your Home In Today’s Market

How To Stay Afloat During Times Of Declining Home Values

Five Steps To Getting An Accurate Appraisal

Most Metro Area Homes See Price Gains Since Last Year







How To Stay Affloat During Times Of Declining Home Values

If you’re a landlord or real estate investor you might have mixed emotions about the current national housing market. For people looking for super bargains, now might be the time to accumulate some excellent properties while home values are down. I know what you’re thinking. How can we be sure we’ve really reached the bottom? The truth is, we can’t be. But still, there’s an investing strategy that can keep you out of trouble during times of uncertainty.


Before I go any further, allow me to clarify that statement. There is a method that will remain safe for investors as long as we don’t see a complete and total collapse in our economy. Barring such an event, what I’m about to explain has allowed people to weather many real estate downturns over the decades.


Buy and Hold

I’m referring to buying bargain properties and renting them. See, in many markets where you find home values suffering, rents have stayed relatively stable. That’s just one item of good news. The other is, as home values continue to decline investors can obviously buy decent properties for much less. This means debt service is cheaper, which, in many markets brings a mortgage payment well under the average rents in that market.


I’ve been around long enough to weather several down cycles using this approach. The first was the terrible real estate market of the early 1990s in California. Prices had risen more than 50 percent in only a few short years and I’d purchased a condo along with a single family home very near the peak. My intention was to flip these properties for a quick profit but the market went flat almost overnight. I was faced with two large mortgage payments on these properties and no buyers. It was trial by fire. I was forced to go into the rental business due to the severe drop in home values.


Riding Out The Storm

I was able to locate an individual who had just moved to the area with his family from Atlanta, Georgia. He wanted a house, had some cash but also had terrible credit. We worked out a lease option deal where he’d pay me a set price for the home within or at the end of two years. He gave me $10,000 as option money. His payment to me more than covered my mortgage along with tax and insurance. I also credited $250 of each payment toward the purchase price.


This was a good arrangement for both of us, however, when it came time to exercise his option to buy two years later, he still wasn’t able to qualify for a loan. So I extended his option. This ended up happening every year for eight years and finally, he was able to qualify and did close. The nice part of the deal was that he’d paid my mortgage down $65,000 over the course of the eight years. And when all was said and done we were both happy campers. As for the condo, I simply rented that out on a month-to-month basis until the market rebounded.


There are several key points to making this strategy work for you. You almost need declining home values for this to work otherwise high-priced markets will still demand higher mortgage payments. The other critical factor in making this work is you’ve got to be a fair but strict landlord. If you’re tenants aren’t paying you, this method will turn into the nightmare from hell.


The best way to avoid negative situations such as this is to very carefully screen your tenants before allowing them to move in. Most of the landlords I’ve know who had problems with their tenants were people who accepted the first warm body who showed up with first, last and a deposit.


They often took the first applicant so they didn’t have to come out of pocket to pay the mortgage. In my experience it’s far better to have to cough up a payment or two in the short term than to have nightmare tenants in the long term. Now get out there and start picking up nice homes for twenty-five cents on the dollar and get them rented out. When the storm is over you’ll be glad you did!



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