Friday, April 04, 2008

Chasing Success - Our Florida Real Estate Experience

We were in Florida last month attempting to purchase some real estate we could cash flow. It was interesting, and good learning process for a market we hadn't visited before. We were actually poised to pick up as many as 1000 houses - and didn't end up buying a thing. I hope some insights from our trip may help you in the Florida market - or any other southern US market during this troubled time.

I'll be putting up several posts about our experience, but here's a few highlights of what we encountered:

• The Florida market was still in a massive slide with the bottom a long ways off. Many brokers, asset managers, and other investors kept talking about "what a great time to buy". This was at best wishful thinking and at worst complete lies.

• Exit strategies are king - ignore at your peril. For example, if you are renting, get your renters and costs lined up immediately and know it all before you buy. With housing prices, rental prices are also crashing. We were surprise witnesses to another investor's "moment of truth" after he purchased 2 homes.

• In Lee County (Fort Myers, Cape Coral, part of Boca Grande, Lehigh Acres) property taxes were out of this world, from our perspective. Average tax costs for a 3 bed/2 bath were around 400 to 500 per month. There there were special assessments.

• Some areas have greater potential than others - Orlando is a far better place to be than Jacksonville or Cape Coral. Having said that, I would rather be in Arizona or Calgary. There's a bunch more that we could say - and that will come out in the next few days and weeks. Keep posted.

Mike Fears
VP, Purchasing - TAT Investments International Ltd.

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