Ecuador Property Insights


Yesterday’s message looked at insights on patience and value. If  you missed that message click here.

Patience and the never ending quest for value are vital in investing and buying real estate in Ecuador or anywhere.

Value is really hard to understand in the real estate and equity market now because the bubble of 2007 created many false illusions.  This creates the need for even more patience.

The value of a house is twofold… the value of a roof overhead and the value of whatever price it can be resold.

These are unpredictable times.   Basing a potential resale on previous inflated bubble prices can be a great error.

For example,  after months of searching, Merri and I made our first offer for property in Florida.  Our offer is half the seller’s asking price.

This was really hard for me to do, but after looking at everything I had to come in with this price.  Here is the note I sent to the broker with the offer.

We appreciate your help and attach our offer for the property.

In today’s market, value is really hard to determine because of the economic instability and uncertainty of when markets will rebound. History suggests we won’t see a full recovery for six to ten years… but there is no guarantee.   Because our offer is substantially less than the asking price, I have tried to apply some logic looking at this as a value oriented investor.  So here are the seven reasons for our offer price.

First, our main goal is as investors and we expect to buy at good value. Since there is so much uncertainty we will err on the low side rather than take risk.  We are in no hurry and there are plenty of houses we have seen that we could enjoy for our winters.  If this offer does not work we have several more houses we are ready to make an offer on.    A really fair value is an important part of our offer and in this market we expect to get one.

Second, this property is valued at an even lower by eppraisal.com at realestate.yahoo.com.

Third, we offered more than the lowest appraisal.

There are two other higher internet appraisals but we have gone with the lower of the three for the reasons above and below.

Fourth, as you can see at http://www.trulia.com/real_estate/Eustis-Florida/
The median sales price in Eustis has dropped over 35% in the last year and there are 496 properties for sale.

This page says:  “Average price per square foot for Eustis FL was $71, a decrease of 45.8% compared to the same period last year. The median sales price for homes in Eustis FL for Feb 09 to Apr 09 was $122,000 based on 115 home sales. Compared to the same period one year ago, the median home sales price decreased 35.3%, or $66,600, and the number of home sales increased 42%.

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Fifth, we are buying into a market with falling prices so prices may go even lower as you can see in the zillow.com estimate below. This chart estimates the five year value of this house.

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Sixth, we are buying into a market with a large inventory.

There are currently 496 resales and new homes in Eustis according to Trulia, including 299 homes in the pre-foreclosure, auction, or bank-owned stages of the foreclosure process.

All of this means that this property could be hard to sell and that any price rise could be a long period of time away.

Seventh, this offer is more than the current debt the owner holds so though it leaves them with a loss on their purchase price, it does provide a mortgage payoff and leaves them with some cash. Otherwise they could be holding this property, and all the expenses,  for quite some time.  In a year’s time the property could still be unsold with a lower value and the owners would have had to outlay more in cash.

This places the sellers’ (who bought in 2004) position in a better circumstance compared to having invested in the Dow Jones Industrial Index.
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As the chart from finance.yahoo below shows had they invested in the Dow instead of the house in 2004 the index was 10,410 then.  The Dow rose to 14,093 by late 2007.  Had they sold then in 2007 they would have gained a 40% profit. Then within a year the index fell to 6,626, 36% below the 2004 level.  A 36% loss in the Dow instead of real estate their investment would be worse then the loss they will take if they sell at the price I am offering.

This stock market comparison is important. As an investor, I have a choice. I can buy property or equities.  If I buy equities they are about 50% less than they were and they are mostly lower than five years ago. 

Now we will be patient.

Before I made the offer, I reviewed the deal with a close friend who has been a real estate broker and developer for many years.

He wrote something worth reading:

“Gary, As a realtor, I rarely find a fellow realtor who has good appraisal methods. The research and valuation methods you have employed in your study are in the 98th percentile of methods used by professional realtors.

If a seller wants to sell, there are three things that do not affect the selling price: (1)What they paid, (2)What they owe, and (3)What they want. Try to explain this to a seller though.

Please stick to your guns because as you pointed out, this is a buyer’s market. Don’t get emotionally attached.  The key is to be ready to offer on numerous properties. As you evidently are. Sometimes walking away and coming back a few weeks later puts the seller in a different frame of mind. Sometimes another property is waiting around the corner.

It is always a good idea to have a neutral party representing the transaction, if not an agent representing your interests only.

Make sure that you choose the title company, not the selling party. This will avoid many conflicts of interest.  Any deposit money should be held in escrow at that title insurance company. Do not give earnest money to any other party. Never give any money directly to the homeowner, no matter what they might request in the contract. Real estate companies should not hold the deposit money because I have seen them try to get a piece of the leftovers if a transaction fails to close. Oftentimes it is not their fault that a transaction does not close. They figure they have already done their work. They still want their fees. Don’t let that become your problem.

Whoever gets the deposit money, ask them specifically if they have any fees due if the transaction does not close. Ask what those fees are. Neither me nor any of my clients have ever paid a fee if the transaction does not close.

This is good advice when you buy property in the USA, Ecuador or anywhere!

Gary

Join us at an upcoming Ecuador or North Carolina course or tour.

July 3-6 Ecuador Import Export Expedition

July 8-9 Imbabura Real Estate Tour

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it is in a quiet place and it has a garden directly below the house.

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Here are Ecuador real estate tour delegates checking the house.

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We also look at property around Lake Quicocha for sale.

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July 10-13 Ecuador Coastal Real Estate Tour

July 24-26 IBEZ North Carolina

Sept. 17-21 Ecuador Spanish Course

Sept. 23-24 Imbabura Real Estate Tour

Sept. 25-28 Ecuador Coastal Real Estate Tour

Oct. 9-11 IBEZ North Carolina

Oct. 21-24 Ecuador Import Export Expedition

Nov. 6-8 IBEZ Ecuador

Nov. 9-10 Imbabura Real Estate Tour

Nov. 11-14 Ecuador Coastal Real Estate Tour

Attend any two Ecuador courses or tours in a calendar month…$949 for one.  $1,349 for two.

Attend any three Ecuador courses or tours in a calendar month…$1,199 for one.  $1,799 for two.



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