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BillBraskey

Valuation of market rent & purch price of rural property?

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I am preparing a lease purchase proposal for an unusual home in a rural area. It is a smallish house (2BR/2BA) with a hangar and workshop building on a private airstrip in the boondocks. All the lots around the airstrip extend to the centerline of the runway, so it is communally owned with access protected by the HOA rules. The home is FSBO, and they have no appraisal, inspection, or anything. They built the home 10 years ago (paid cash, so no mortgage on the property), and recently decided they would rather live in their second home in the mountains permanently.

 

I have three main problems:

 

1. The asking price is $300k (no appraisal, mind you). This is twice what the tax assessor valued the house at last year. There are other properties currently for sale at the airport, some vacant lots, some with a hangar only, and one with a mobile home. Nothing is over $150k. There are no recent sales within 40 miles, other than tiny lots with mobile home selling under $30k and giant farm estates over $500k.

 

2. There are no rentals within 40 miles. Not even on Craigslist. Not even apartments, rooms for rent, etc. This is farm country bordering wilderness. How am I supposed to determine market rent rate? Zillow suggests $1100/mo.

 

3. The property is deeded as a Life Estate (the owner is elderly and it's set up to pass to his son). I don't know anything about life estates, but from what I recently read, they seem simple enough. Will this have any bearing on the situation?

 

I may have the opportunity to sandwich this for 2 years and actually net money by leasing the home and hangar separately.

 

Thanks in advance!

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Hi, Bill, and welcome to The Naked Investor.

No cookie cutter, subdivision homes for you, eh? Unusual doesn't do this property justice.

 

1. The asking price is $300k (no appraisal, mind you). This is twice what the tax assessor valued the house at last year. There are other properties currently for sale at the airport, some vacant lots, some with a hangar only, and one with a mobile home. Nothing is over $150k. There are no recent sales within 40 miles, other than tiny lots with mobile home selling under $30k and giant farm estates over $500k.

 

I never pay attention to values from the assessor's office. They are not a reliable indicator of FMV. In my experience they are typically well under value. . .which is a good thing as far as the tax bill is concerned.

 

2. There are no rentals within 40 miles. Not even on Craigslist. Not even apartments, rooms for rent, etc. This is farm country bordering wilderness. How am I supposed to determine market rent rate? Zillow suggests $1100/mo.

 

Zillow is another source I ignore as far as values and rents. They are notorious for being inaccurate.

 

3. The property is deeded as a Life Estate (the owner is elderly and it's set up to pass to his son). I don't know anything about life estates, but from what I recently read, they seem simple enough. Will this have any bearing on the situation?

 

Good question, as these things can always become more layered than expected. In simple terms, it means that the son is now an owner while the parent(s) are life tenants. To be safe you would want your lease option agreement to include both parties.

 

Clearly, this is a property where the best determining factor for price and rent value will be the market itself. You take your best shot at values, put it out on the marketplace, and listen. The market will tell you if you're assessment is correct. Your safety net, Bill, is that the agreement you use will, (should), include an out in case you are unable to find a tenant/buyer for such a unique property. So if you're approaching this longer term, as in a sandwich lease, be sure your agreement allows you time to find a t/b and an out in case you can't.

Or, if your risk aversion is such, approach it as an assignment. Either way, there should be close to zero risk for you if done correctly.

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I want to buy this place for myself. The sandwich idea arose from something the seller told me about an offer they got from someone who wanted a 2yr lease only. They want to sell, not rent, so they rejected it but passed it on to me in case I wanted to lease it after buying from them. I wasn't looking to buy, but I stumbled on it by accident & it fits nearly all the criteria for my dream home. Residential airfields are very rare in my area. I live 50 miles away and would move there tomorrow if I could.

 

I also don't put much faith in tax assessor or Zillow valuations, but I mentioned them because there is nothing else to go on.

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Dream home? Be careful, Bill. We want motivated sellers. We don't want to be motivated buyers. Did you ask the seller how he arrived at his asking price? Let him know you are serious and interested, but that you haven't been able to find any sales data to support the asking price. Then be quiet and hear what he has to say.

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Dream home? Be careful, Bill. We want motivated sellers. We don't want to be motivated buyers. Did you ask the seller how he arrived at his asking price? Let him know you are serious and interested, but that you haven't been able to find any sales data to support the asking price. Then be quiet and hear what he has to say.

Clearly this forum is one-dimensional. I am not a seller; never have been. I found a property that meets almost all of my eccentric criteria, and I want to live in it until I die. Since I wasn't ready to buy yet, the only way I can make this happen is to lease-purchase it. I found this forum after reading extensively on the web about lease-purchases.

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Not sure what you mean about the forum being "one-dimensional". True, the focus here is about lease options. However, some of the underlying tenets of real estate investing apply. For example:

1) when looking for a deal we look for problem ownership, an owner who is motivated for one reason or another. Often that means they are in need of debt relief.

2) on the opposite side of that is that we try not to be the motivated buyer. We should keep our emotions under wraps when looking and negotiating. To do otherwise costs money.

Bill, if I'm the homeowner and I sense the gent in front of me wants to live in my house until he passes to the Great Beyond, how flexible do you think I'm going to be. No, my attitude becomes "take it, or leave it".

That said, if this is a property you want, make your lease purchase offer with terms that benefit you:

1) minimal option consideration

2) the longer the lease, the better

3) right to sublet and/or assign

4) a few weasel clauses to provide an out, if necessary

 

By the way, where do the owners stand with regards to a lease purchase? Are they open?

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Sorry, I interpreted your first reply as a sign that you misunderstood my intentions. I am not an investor. I am one of those poor fools who has a credit rating damn near two digits thanks to a confluence of unfortunate events and no safety net a few years ago. I found this forum because of its technical focus on lease purchasing, which is my only option if I want to take advantage of this opportunity. I already have a 2-year plan to restore my credit rating and buy a home, but the likelihood of an airfield home (which is my singleminded goal; don't try to talk sense into a pilot) being available in my area is pretty slim.

 

To update the situation, I spoke with a friend who actually hails from that rural area and is a realtor. She said that land is no more than $8000/acre and a modern home is no more than $70/ft2. At 1600 ft2, this equates to $120k total. The hangar and airstrip access could add $10k to that.

 

The sellers will be in town this week to show me the place and I will bring up the LP option to them at that time. In the meantime, I'm trying to gather intel on why half the properties there all went up for sale in the past 2 months. Something is fishy. I hear two rumors yesterday: there is landfill project slated for somewhere in that county, and the nearby military base may be expanding its restricted airspace boundaries to encroach on that airstrip.

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Bill, a poor credit rating ain't the albatross it used to be. Much like a divorce back in the day, a foreclosure on one's credit history was scandalous. Now, not so much. In fact, after the bubble burst in '07, sitting around the table with a few beers. foreclosure war stories became all the rage. So, my friend, all is not lost. Granted, you won't be buying traditionally. But it doesn't mean you can be buying creatively. It's a matter of finding the property you want and a willing homeowner.

This particular property has pushed your buttons, obviously. Not a bad thing, but don't show your hand. For starters, you need to determine how the owner arrived at their asking price. If you get confrontational and suggest they are way out of line, they dig in their heels and the deal is long gone. Instead, I like to take the humble, aw-shucks approach:

"Joe, it's probably me, but I haven't been able to find any sales data that supports your asking price. Can I ask you how you arrived at that figure? Can I see the sales data you used?"

Something along those lines isn't going to offend, and places the onus of justifying their price on the owner.

Regarding the sudden flush of homes for sale, indeed this needs to be looked into. Could be nothing more than coincidence, or something much bigger. Do your due diligence!

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The least confrontational and most obvious way I plan to question their asking price is: how do they expect a lender to write a mortgage without an appraisal, and once appraised, how would one get a loan for more than the property is worth? Perhaps they only plan to entertain cash buyers; they paid cash, so that could be shaping their assumptions about what is "normal".

 

Bad credit is only half of the equation. No cash for a down payment is the other. I was severely underemployed for 3 years, and have finally returned to a salaried job in my field. Hence, the need for a lease purchase so that I can build cash and rollover an old 401(k) into my Roth IRA, which I can then use for a down payment (I qualify for the penalty-free distribution under those rules).

 

The other lots for sale at the airfield do not have homes on them; just empty lots, a few hangars, and one mobile home. Perhaps I should look into buying one of the lots and sitting on it while I position myself financially to build on it. The only thing better than buying a home on an airfield is designing and building your own custom home on an airfield ;)

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More twists and turns. I looked at the place today. It's nice in many respects but the home itself has some strange characteristics that I did not expect from a home built only 10 years ago, and would be major negatives for valuation:

  • Master BR is located right off the great room and has no attached bath. It's across the hall, shotgun layout, and only has a 3/4 [tub] length stand-up shower.
  • Master BR only has two tiny closets 36" across by 24" deep.
  • Upstairs "bedroom" is really an enclosed loft, with ceilings slanting down on the sides to a wall height of 5'. I'm 6'4" tall, so this really pisses me off.
  • It's carpeted everywhere.

I also stumbled across some public information last night while looking for zoning maps. I need to confer with someone who understands all the implications of these land use and development plans, but some things I found:

  • The industrial-zoned land a couple of miles to the north is scheduled to extend through rezoning to the lot line on the other side of the street facing this house.
  • The military base 2 miles to the south has some sort of strategic land use plan for which the county is basically ceding the ability to impose zoning restrictions throughout the county to the USAF. The USAF apparently needs to protect its training airspace and reduce light pollution because they train at night wearing NVGs. This could be a death blow to the airfield.

I didn't even discuss the lease purchase idea with the owners today. First, I need to be reasonably confident that I am not going to move in and find out a few years later that my airstrip is nothing more than a big, grass backyard.

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This is a unique property, to say the least. From your description it doesn't sound like a good fit, (literally: 6'4" vs a 5' ceiling. . .ouch). If the airstrip wasn't a part of this package, would you have any interest?

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If the airstrip wasn't a part of this package, would you have any interest?

Absolutely not. My plan for homeownership has had an airstrip in it from its inception. That's why I'm nervous about the rumors surrounding the USAF's master development plan.

 

My contingency plan, if I couldn't find an airstrip home, was to buy a large enough plot of land (100s of acres) that I could make my own airstrip later on. You can't do this with a 1 acre lot.

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