Everyone is talking about record-low interest rates these days. Freddie Mac reported earlier this month that the average 30-year fixed-rate hit a low of 2.88%. That's a 50-year record! And, there is still the possibility of rates moving lower in the coming months and years.
Real estate investors should be positioning themselves to take advantage of the current environment to better position their businesses amidst market uncertainty. Beyond the standard refinance advice, there are several other tactics investors should deploy: portfolio-wide analysis, stress testing, and understanding and leveraging supply and demand.
Here's an overview of where we're at with interest rates and what real estate investors should do about the low-interest-rate environment we find ourselves in.
With interest rates at historic lows, now is the time to conduct a portfolio-wide analysis of all your loans, the interest rates as well as the terms and conditions. Here are a few considerations as you conduct your analysis:
When does your mortgage come up for renewal, or when will the interest rate change in the case of an adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM)? If you are close to a period where you need to renew, it might be worth exploring with your broker your options now given the low rates.
Fixed vs. adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM)
Depending on the interest rate spread, you will need to consider one over the other. At the moment, there isn't a significant difference between these two types of mortgages in terms of rates, so a fixed rate is more appealing as it gives you more certainty and you can adjust the length of your loan more easily.
Do you pull out equity upon refinance to redeploy elsewhere? Given that housing prices are at historic highs, it would be a good idea to not overleverage your real estate assets so that you can weather any forthcoming economic downturn in housing. Already we are seeing a move from urban centers to less populated areas, meaning landlords in those cities will have a smaller renter pool and decreased rental rates. For investors who are overleveraged, they have less cash flow and less of a buffer to withstand extended vacancy. Be cautious; don't put yourself in this position.
The rate you have is also important. Generally speaking, if you can get a rate of at least 100 basis points lower than your current rate, it makes sense to break a mortgage and lock in a new rate. That said, run the numbers in your pro forma, and be sure that this new mortgage and rate fulfill your investment criteria.