Investing Using an IRA – Is it for You?

Ever thought of investing in properties using an IRA? For many investors, it’s a viable option, but it can come with a price if not done correctly. U.S. News and World Report recently tackled this subject in an article highlighting the benefits and pitfalls of investing using funds from an IRA.

Described as “not a passive investment,” the author suggests that only experienced investors should buy property using an IRA. Part of the reason for this advice is the “hoops” investors have to jump through as well as the requirement for investors to use a custodian in the transaction, which is a company that can hold their assets, or a trustee.

On the other hand, for savvy, high-net worth investors, using a self-directed IRA can serve as a tax deferment strategy. In addition, using a Roth IRA allows investors to transfer their property tax free. For a traditional IRA, investors will pay taxes when the account is paid out, whereas with a Roth IRA, investors can withdraw without having to pay taxes under the condition that it is a qualified distribution (a five-year holding period and the investor must be 59.5 years of age or considered disabled).

Despite the tax benefits, the author advises that the average investor shy away from using this strategy, stating that concerns include illiquidity and following detailed laws from the IRS. For example, one cannot use an IRA for a rental and then end up using the home for personal reasons.

Also, there are guidelines regarding how the property can be repaired and how much compensation can be collected to name a few. Violating these rules can cost big, with one prohibited transaction triggering a business tax, causing the full IRA to become taxable.

One final word of advice? Take note of the fees involved with a transaction such as this. Trustees charge transaction and other fees, and with so few trustees specializing in IRAs, they often charge several hundred dollars per property. To read the full article, click here.

Foreclosures Down from 2015

According to CoreLogic’s 2016 National Foreclosure Report, the country’s foreclosures, both inventory and completions, is down from one year prior. Inventory was down 29.1 percent, while completions were down 16.5 percent from July 2015.

Foreclosure completions totaled 34,000, down from 41,000 in 2015. In September 2010 at the peak of the housing crisis, there were 118,009 foreclosure completions. Foreclosure completions indicate total homes lost to foreclosure, while foreclosure inventory refers to homes at any stage of the process.

Foreclosure inventory in July 2016 totaled 355,000 or 0.9 percent of homes with mortgages, down from 501,000 or 1.3 percent of total homes last year.  

Study of Craigslist Ads Shows State of the Housing Market

Craigslist, love it or hate it, has become the resting place of all kinds of housing ads in markets across the country. Large homes, small homes and apartments are all listed on the site, posted by everyone from mom and pop shops and independent landlords to large companies and nationwide realtors.

That’s why researchers at the University of Berkeley chose to look at millions of Craigslist posts to uncover details about the housing market in a new way. With more rental cost data than commercial providers can give and better real-time information than the Census Bureau, Craigslist seemed like the best place for the Berkley Urban Analytics Lab to start to gather housing market data.

What they found, reported on in the Washington Post, reveals familiar news—New York, San Francisco, Boston and North Dakota have the most expensive rents in the country. The data also showed some new trends including the monetary difference between the most expensive and least expensive rents in each city.

It also found the differences in each market as to what is available in lower-cost options. For example, a renter will have a hard time finding a San Francisco apartment at the running cost of Atlanta housing. For many more expensive cities, lower-cost units are not widely available.

Researchers identified some problems with the data, including that not all landlords/apartments use Craigslist for advertising, some markets rely more heavily on brokers and others had more plentiful posts. But by taking 1.5 million posts from 2014, they believe that they reported some very useful insights.

To read the full article published in the Journal of Planning, Education and Research click here.  

Financing a Short-term Rental (Vacation) Property

By: Jeff Ball, CEO, Visio Lending


So, you’re taking the plunge and buying your dream vacation property. You and your family will love it, and you plan to rent it out to help cover expenses. Or, maybe you already own a vacation rental and have done so well on short-term rentals (STRs) that you are interested in buying one, two or even many more. What are your financing options?

Your financing options fall into three main buckets: conventional, portfolio and alternative. We’ll start with the simplest case. If you are buying your first vacation property, you probably should start by looking at a conventional mortgage (Quicken, Wells Fargo, Chase, etc.) similar to the loan you have on your primary residence.  Rates and fees will be pretty similar to what you can expect on your primary residence.

To qualify, you’ll need to put 10%-20% down, have two to 12 months cash reserves (the amount depends on your credit score and down payment), and your monthly combined mortgage payments on your primary residence and second home (including taxes, insurance and any HOA dues) cannot exceed 45% of your gross monthly income. In meeting this requirement, the lender will assume you won’t generate any income from renting your new home. So you’ll need to meet the gross monthly income requirement without any rent credit. Plan on 60-120 days to close. Also plan on providing your full tax returns, a lot of income and asset verification documentation, and a variety of letters of explanation.

But what if you are self-employed, or maybe asset-rich but with little taxable monthly income, or maybe you already own a number of rental homes? In these situations, you should skip conventional and go straight to evaluating portfolio and alternative mortgage solutions. Portfolio is just a fancy way of saying, “community bank.” If you have a good credit and have an ongoing relationship with a local bank, then you should talk to them to see if they might finance your new home purchase.

Typically, these loans will be a bit more expensive in terms of fees and rate than a conventional loan. Also, they usually will amortize over 15 or 20 years rather than 30 years, and include a “balloon” payment after five years. But your local community bank will hold this loan in their loan portfolio (hence the name), so they can be a bit more flexible than a conventional lender. Again, plan on a lot of documentation and 60-120 days to close.

Alternative mortgage lenders typically offer a faster, smoother process with more approval flexibility, but at higher costs. At Visio Lending, we offer our 30-year STRPro that has a fixed interest rate for seven years. On the STRPro, we need to know your credit score and then we underwrite your loan on the potential rental stream your vacation property could generate if used as a short-term rental property. 

Our rates and fees are higher than a conventional or bank portfolio lender, but our process is fast (usually 21 business days or less), simple (less documentation) and dependable. And because we offer a full 30-year term, the monthly payment on the STRPro will be similar or maybe even lower than with a portfolio loan. With our STRPro, an investor can build a portfolio of cash flow generating short-term vacation rental properties as part of their overall investing strategy.

STRs, including vacation rentals, are an exciting and rapidly growing new asset classes. Airbnb and HomeAway, among others, are raising awareness of this exciting new opportunity. Others are building next-generation property management tools and companies to help owners efficiently manage their STRs.

For example, adds an interesting twist by enabling property owners to solicit competitive bids from property management companies, including bids that guarantee monthly rental cash flow to the owner. Using sites like can help you plan your STR strategy even better.

To find out more, visit and

U.S. Foreclosures Lowest in Nearly Two Decades

Some good news came out of the housing market this month, with the Federal Reserve Bank of New York reporting an 18-year low in new foreclosures.

"Mortgage originations grew, to $427 billion. About 83,000 individuals had a new foreclosure notation added to their credit reports between April 1 and June 30, a new low in the 18-year history of the data," the Fed said their report.

Several factors are at play in the downward trend, including continuing low interest rates, improving labor market and wage growth, higher mortgage credit requirements and improving housing market. These factors have contributed to the lowest foreclosure rate since 1998.

In addition, the New York Fed found the mortgage delinquencies are also declining, down to 1.8% at 90 days late in 2016 Q2, from 2.1% in the previous quarter. 



We’ve Changed Our Name: VFS is now Visio Lending

We’re excited to announce that we are now officially Visio Lending. Previously referred to as Visio Financial Services (VFS), we’ve made this change to better reflect what you do—lending to real estate investors just like you! With nearly 3,800 loans funded since we opened our doors in 2011, we’re leading the industry in loans for investors. Check all of our loan products and test your own scenarios on our website at