The rental market in Houston Texas is hot. Rents have been rising steadily for the last 4-5 years with average time on market dropping to under 30 days. Landlords are in the driver’s seat and the high demand for their properties allows them to ask for longer term leases, higher credit tenants and rent escalations built into the deal. What’s most important is that this rush of demand is fueled by real economic and job growth, not some artificial inflation. Under the current conditions you could literally close on any property on Friday and have a long term tenant in place the following Friday. And he probably had to fight off four or five other applicants to get accepted.
In the current market, it is easy for an investor to feel invincible – feel like they can’t go wrong. All the talk about quality of neighborhood, school district, amenities, upgrades etc. seems irrelevant. After all why would you go and spend 40% more money on a “better property” when you can buy cheaper, lower grade assets for a fraction of the price. With rental demand as strong as it is now, they will both rent out quickly and your ROI will be much higher on the lower end stuff. Right?
Mark Cuban said: “Everyone’s a genius in a bull market. Recessions are the great equalizer”. These are good times for investors but they’re also dangerous times. The euforia produced by the rental bull market can fool shortsighted investors into dropping their guard and skimping on asset quality. Incoming rent will cover all the cracks in your asset selection for the time being. There’s a funny thing about cracks though. No matter how often you patch over them, sooner or later they always show through in times of great tension. So ask yourself this: What would happen to your portfolio if the rental market weren’t this hot? If there were fewer tenants looking for properties and competition among assets, would they pick yours? In other words, would your portfolio withstand the test of time and all the changes in market conditions it brings?
If you are a long term investor, the number one factor you have to seek when building your portfolio is Quality. Don’t listen to the siren calls of cheap properties in cheaper locations. Build a portfolio that will perform no matter the market.