All across the nation, real estate purchasing is on the rise fueled primarily by historically low interest rates. As the stock market continues its sluggish course, it's not surprising that real estate tops the list of the nation's safest, most promising investments. With everyone from first-time buyers to professional investors getting in on the action, the housing market has hit an all-time high. From the glitzy lights of Las Vegas to the sunny suburbs of Tucson, the following cities offer some of the hottest prospects for real estate investing.
Las Vegas, Nevada
Not only is Las Vegas known for its lights, entertainment and gambling, it's also one of the fastest-growing real estate markets in the country; many properties sell in less then a week. No other real estate market in the United States has seen a greater increase in home sales than Las Vegas. Homes for sale in 2004 have seen more than a 40% increase in sales price from 2003, and the median price of a Las Vegas home is more than $250,000. Compare this to the national median home price, which is under $200,000. Presales of luxury high rise condos in the area are also on the rise, with over 30 new high-end projects already in progress.
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
Real estate investors continue to flock to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, as real estate sales activity in the area has been climbing for more than a decade. Ocean front condos are selling at a rapid pace, and the overall sales activity for the area continues to look strong. Sales of single-family homes have risen between 50% and 80% in Myrtle Beach and its surrounding areas, and building permits for condos and single-family homes are increasing in the double-digits. Many experts have attributed this strong growth to population increases, wealthier families moving into the area and South Carolina's low interest rates.
With its year-round warm climate, booming economy and ultra-relaxed lifestyle, Tucson is attracting new residents daily. Although homes in Tucson are reasonably priced, they are beginning to climb at double digit rates, with properties appreciating at an average of 10% per year and the average price ranging from $200,000 to $300,000.
Florida Part I - Miami
The Miami area continues to be one of the hottest real estate markets in the nation with prices appreciating approximately 61% during the last ten years. Low mortgage rates and steady sales volume, driven by population growth from Latin America and other surrounding areas, have helped keep real estate prices on the rise. While Miami prices have increased rapidly, the growing number of households can still take advantage of a median single-family home price of approximately $215,000.
Florida Part II - Sarasota
Many real estate investors are looking past the hot strip of Miami to the "City of the Arts," also known as Sarasota. Downtown Sarasota's bay front condos are in high demand, with prices ranging from $300,000 to $10 million depending on location. Because much of Sarasota real estate is within walking distance of theaters, restaurants, upscale shopping, specialty stores, cultural centers and the Gulf of Mexico, Inc Magazine recently named Sarasota "Florida's next big thing."
Another hot area for real estate investors is Austin, Texas. The area remains affordable for first-time investors with Austin homes and condos available in the $100,000 to 300,000 range. Austin's attractive reputation has also prompted many investors to spend more time "discovering" the area. According to Austin Realtors, the market is set to take off this year.Ready to Invest in Real Estate?
If you've already found your ideal city and are ready to purchase real estate, there are a number of factors to take into careful consideration. The following tips can help make your real estate purchasing experience easier and more profitable:
- Do your homework
Purchasing real estate is not always as simple as it seems. As with any large investment, it pays to do your homework before jumping in. The good news is there is a wealth of information right at your fingertips. Start by using the Internet, "how-to" books, and any real estate professionals you know to familiarize yourself with the purchasing process.
Whether you are looking to purchase your dream home or a new office, check out the surrounding area before committing to a purchase. Is your future home located in close proximity to your work? How is the school district? Are there shopping areas within driving distance? What are the zoning laws in the area? Is there room to expand? These questions are not only important to your purchase, they will be important to the next person who may buy the home or office from you.
- Make a list
Create a "wish list" of features that are important to your real estate purchase, as well as a list of undesirable features. When looking at homes, make another list of each of the property's important features and eliminate any real estate options that do not meet your wish list requirements.
- Mortgage research
Take the time to find out the size loan you qualify for, what your current credit rating is and how much, if any, you will need for a down payment. It is also a good idea to get "pre-approved" for a loan so that you can move quickly on a property should it meet all of your criteria. Often, having your financing already in place can mean the difference between landing the property of your dreams and losing it to another, better-financed bidder.
- Get it in writing
After you find your perfect location and property, make sure you are familiar with the purchase agreement, and take your time to go over any and all clauses with your realtor. When you are ready to make an offer, do it in writing. A verbal agreement does not carry the same amount of weight as a written offer and can be easily misunderstood.
- Personal Liability Protection
If you're investing in real estate—either by yourself or with partners—placing your new property in a Limited Liability Company (LLC) will help shield your personal assets from creditors and other liabilities such as lawsuits. This is especially important if you plan to rent or lease your investment property. Other benefits of forming an LLC include increased tax benefits, minimal paperwork, easy transfer of ownership rights and privacy—the names of LLC members are not a matter of public record in many states, and they are not shared with the IRS. Forming an LLC doesn't require an attorney and in most cases can be done from your home or office. With low-cost, reliable legal document services such as LegalZoom.com, you can set up your LLC entirely online in just minutes.
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