One benefit of real estate investing is being able to take your initial capital out of the deal and still own the property. My wife and I just did this through a cash out refinance on investment property we’ve owned. It is fairly straightforward, but let me try to explain the mechanics and benefits we saw.
The simplest example would go like this: Let’s say you bought a $100k property and put 20% down, so you have $20k of equity and $80k of debt. you bought extremely well and it turns out your property just so happened to be the next hot area. You appraise the house and its new market value is $175k. Because total assets = liabilities + equity, if your mortgage was still $80k (in real life, it would probably be paid down some), your implied equity would now be $95k!
You could sell the property and take the proceeds or you could do a cash out refinance of your investment property.
How much could you take out?
Since this is an investment property, a lender will typically only lend up to 75% LTV against the property for it to qualify for Fannie / Freddie backing (which gives you access to low interest rate, 30 year loans).
The way the lender looks at it is, if you were to buy the property today we’d feel comfortable giving a 75% LTV loan, so we shouldn’t care where the money is going per se. You could still sell the property and take the money so in this case, they are agnostic.
The mechanics are pretty simple. A new mortgage is done on the new property value, they pay off the original mortgage and cut you a check for the difference. In this scenario, you could take out $51,250! That’s 2.6x your initial investment and you still own the property!
Now, obviously you may decide that taking all the equity out is better for you, but for us, we didn’t want to sell the property and wanted some liquidity so it added up for us.
To be clear, this is real estate we are talking about here, so don’t expect to be able to take out your equity immediately. We did ours after owning the property for 10 years. We could’ve done it earlier, but the timing lined up and rates moving lower made it an attractive time. There are closing costs that can be a few thousand dollars, so you want to make it worth it.
So some of the benefits of a cash-out refinance are obvious, but let me lay out my favorite:
- Able to Take out Initial Equity with Limited Tax Consequences
As shown in the example, we were able to take out our initial equity, which we can now use for other investments. But the even better part is that the cash doesn’t count as taxable income or a gain on sale, because we are technically taking out a loan.
That is a sweet benefit. You will also be able to claim the interest as a expense on your tax statements going forward to reduce taxable income. I view it as a win-win-win.
- Can Redeploy in Another Investments, including Real Estate
Many people use cash out refinance proceeds to invest in other real estate properties, but my wife & I decided that we should (i) put some money back into the investment property (ii) use some of the proceeds for some projects around our personal home and (iii) fund tuition savings account.
I personally like the idea of building a real estate empire on cash out refinances. Personally, our proceeds that we received could easily go to buy two new properties. In about 8 years, we probably could take our equity out of all three again and go buy two more properties. You can do a cash out refinance many times, as long as you have enough equity built where it makes sense to cover closing costs. Its a “Get Rich Slowly” scheme.
At the end of the day, you could use it for whatever you’d like!
- More attractive rates than a Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC)
I often see people debating a HELOC vs. a cash out refinance. We went with a cash out refinance because we had built up significant equity and even though we were refinancing a primary residence loan with an investment property loan, since interest rates have gone down our total monthly payment didn’t move much.
The interest rate on a cash out refinance can typically run 50-100bps wider than what the primary residence market is (we got ours at 4.25% when market rates for primary residences were around 3.60%) and will obviously depend on credit score.
HELOC’s are akin to getting a second mortgage on a home, because you are tapping the equity behind the existing mortgage. Therefore, if first lien mortgages are already higher than primary, you should expect second lien mortgages to have an additional risk premium built in (i.e. come at a higher rate).
In our situation, a HELOC was going to be high-4%-5% range and has faster payback terms (5-25 years). We preferred to lock in a new 30 year mortgage at an attractive rate. HELOC interest also isn’t tax deductible anymore.
HELOCs do have lower closing costs, though, given in a cash out refinance a lender will want the typical closing items: appraise the property (fee), you’ll need a real estate attorney in many cases (another fee), a title search for the lender (fee) and other closing costs.
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