Torcana Investment Blog

What the decline in homeownership means for US real estate investors

Posted by Colin Murphy on Apr 18, 2017 7:17:49 PM

In todays blog (also recorded as a podcast) I share my thoughts on the serious decline in homeownership in the United States, the key factors that are driving this trend and how real estate investors can leverage it to their advantage. 

The American Dream...
Screen Shot 2017-03-01 at 18.03.07.png

Owning a home, owning a piece of America, was always something that people strove for historically in the United States. In the past 30-40 years, most US Presidents (Democratic & Republican) have given major speeches and approved legislation that made it easier for people to purchase their own property. However, that has all changed since the Great Recession and homeownership rates have been falling for more than a decade. 

Back in late 2004, homeownership in the USA peaked at a rate of almost 70%. Today, the rate of homeownership is less than 64%. While a 6% drop may not seem all that substantial, in a country this size we are talking about millions of households.

More importantly than this headline fall, the majority of new households that have been created since 2004 are renters rather than home owners. More specifically, of the 14 million new households added in the past 10 years, 80% of them are renters! That is a massive shift hidden behind the overall drop from 70% to 64% homeownership.

So what are the factors driving this trend towards renting versus owning? There are many interlinked causes and I have summarized them as follows:

1. Tight credit markets
2. Huge student debt
3. Declining housing affordability
4. Low personal savings rates

1. Tight credit markets
This is a big fallout from the Great Recession. Lots of people (particularly bankers and builders) got very greedy between 2000 - 2006 and the economy was only saved by massive government bailouts. Nobody wants to go through that pain again and one of the consequences is that it is now much more difficult for regular people to obtain a mortgage. I don´t see it getting better any time soon either.

Put simply, you need a much better credit score than before to qualify for a mortgage. When you count the credit scores of millions of people that took a big hit between 2007-2016, the gap between the "can borrow" and "can´t borrow" gets even bigger.

According to the latest data from Core Logic, the average credit score for borrowers is 739. Even the lowest 1% of borrowers in 2016 had better credit scores than the average back in 2001. With a threshold that high, large numbers of potential borrowers that would have qualified in the past won´t qualify in today´s market.

While you might think that having mortgages with tiny rates of defaults is a good thing, the flip side is that very strict credit requirements will reduce the pool of potential borrowers and increase the pool of potential renters.

Can´t they just improve their credit?
Can I envisage a situation where millions of people can improve their credit scores and qualify for these loans? When you are thinking in that kind of scale, peoples credit scores will improve when the economy improves. The good news is that US is pretty strong now with solid economic growth and solid job growth.

However, a growing economy usually leads to inflation and to counter inflation, we increase interest rates. So while a rising tide will increase the number of people with high credit scores, the factors that caused that will eventually increase the cost of borrowing as well.  

2. High student debt
People haven´t been talking about this as much as they´re going to be, but the big noisy elephant in the room for the US economy is exploding student debt.

In the last 10 years, the total student debt in the US has almost tripled from $480 billion to $1.4 trillion! Needless to say, the population didn´t increase threefold during that time and there certainly aren´t three times as many students now compared to 2007. The vast majority of this increase is simply down to universities charging much higher fees and to students borrowing a lot more money to pay their way through college.

Swapping one bubble for another
While housing debt is $1 trillion dollars below its previous peak in 2008, the increase in student debt and car loans has made up for that decrease. Back in 2003, student loans made up 3.1% of total US household debt. Now it is 10.4% and growing fast. (See graph below).

You could argue that we have swapped a housing bubble for a student debt bubble. Back when student loans were a small part of the US economy, most of them were underwritten and held by the private sector. Not any more though - 90% of new student loans are originated in the Department of Education. Sound familiar to anyone?


Let´s get away from the billions and trillions of dollars and back to numbers we can all understand. There are 44 million people with student debt and the average debt is $34,000. Compare that with what students were borrowing 20, 15 or even just 10 years ago. It is like night and day!

That $34,000 debt is real money that can and will severely restrict a persons ability to save for a deposit and buy a house. While there are many valid reasons for people in their 40s and 50s to give out about the attitudes of the young people or "millennials" of today, the fact remains that these kids are saddled with debt that older people just didn´t have to deal with.

3. House affordability

We are all aware that home prices have been appreciating substantially in practically every major US metro area since 2011. 

In Tampa Florida where I am an active real estate investor, median sales prices increased by 14.4% between December 2015 and December 2016. That is a big increase which is great news for landlords who like to see their assets appreciating, but not so much for people trying to get on the property ladder in the first place.

With house prices increasing quarter after quarter, people need bigger deposits and they need to qualify for bigger loans. Again, that restricts the pool of buyers, increases the pool of renters and with very limited new construction, it also increases the rents that landlords can charge.

4. Low personal savings rates
Personal savings rates are strongly linked to student debt and rising house prices. Put simply, if people aren´t saving for deposits, they won´t be able to afford a house. Nowadays, the average American household saves 5-6% of its personal income, which is certainly higher than it was during the boom but it is starting to fall again.

Some of this can be explained by changing technology and habits. People today are spending way more money on gadgets, holidays, cars and all sorts of leisure activities than previous generations. That is only part of the answer though. 

There are plenty of sensible hard working people out there who do not buy a new iPhone every year, who live quite sensibly but still don´t have enough left over to save for a deposit on a house after they have paid their rent, their student & car loans and their regular bills.

So we have a situation across the country where banks make it very hard to qualify for a loan, where house prices, rents and student debt are all increasing very quickly and where wages are either steady or rising at a much slower rate. You don´t need a degree in Economics to figure out that this is a combination that will create a huge new generation of renters.

The good news for investors

You might think that I´m painting a pretty bleak picture here but I´m not trying to because (a) I believe the current environment is excellent for property investors and (b) I think we have an important role to play by renting stable, long term properties to people that deserve them.

America is a bit obsessed with home ownership (it´s not the only country) but there is no need to be. A high percentage of owner occupiers doesn´t mean an economy is healthy and history has shown that there is little to gain (and a lot to lose) by making it easy for people to buy their own home. I don´t think convincing more Americans to buy their own homes is necessarily a good idea, because it often makes things worse (think of the millions of foreclosures we´ve witnessed recently) and home ownership isn´t for everyone. 

Look at Germany. Economically, it is right up there with the most powerful countries in the world right? Well, if you are worried about homeownership in the US falling from 70% to 64%, consider that the homeownership rate in Germany has been steady at 52% and most Germans are perfectly happy with that. In Switzerland, which is one of the richest countries in the world, it is just 44%.

When I was a kid growing up in middle class Ireland, there was a bit of a stigma attached to renting. If the people down the street were renters, people just assumed it was because they were a bit poorer than the rest and that they didn´t have great jobs.

There has been a big shift in attitudes since then and not just among younger generations either. In any urban area across America, you can be a successful professional with a lovely family and a happy long term renter all at the same time. I know plenty of people with good jobs that are renters and I´m sure most of you do too.

Win win situation
At the most basic level, everybody needs somewhere to live. I´m guessing that plenty of you will remember Maslows Hierarchy of Needs from your student days. Shelter was right there on the first level beside food and water.

Investors have a huge opportunity to be key suppliers of inventory as America continues its shift away from homeownership and towards renting. Investors can provide great rental properties to people who want a safe place to live. In exchange for doing that, the renters will pay back their mortgages, build equity in their homes and provide passive income streams to fund their lifestyles and retirements. 


At the moment the US economy is very strong and yet we still have large and growing numbers of renters due to the tight credit markets, high student debt, low savings rates and low housing affordability described above.

What do you think will happen if/when the economy gets worse? Will you see less people renting and more buying houses in a recession? No way! If the economy is in trouble, people will just start downsizing and/or renting cheaper houses.

If you want my recommendation on how best to take advantage of this changing market then it would be to invest in properties that can be rented or bought by lower middle class families and younger renters. You don´t want to be renting a big house for $4,000 a month to a software engineer, because he is just going to move somewhere else whenever the market turns on him. Much better to own property rentals that will always be affordable. For my money, that includes nice suburban houses in the $90,000 - $150,000 range that rent for $1,000 - $1,400 per month.

These are the Goldilocks properties that aren't so expensive that people will stop renting in a crisis but they aren´t so cheap that you´ll be continuously stuck with problem tenants either. There are lots of places in the Tampa Metropolitan area that meet these criteria and these are what we buy, renovate and sell to investors every month.

If you can take one thing away from this blog it is that the pool of renters in America is going to continue growing no matter what happens in the general economy and that you can make a lot of money by finding the right kind of homes for them.

Some useful links



* you can also subscribe directly by searching for "Torcana" in the podcast app of your iPhone or Android device



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Topics: Florida Property Statistics, USA Mortgages, Buying Real Estate, tampa homeownership trends

Is investing in rentals outside your home market a good idea?

Posted by Colin Murphy on Nov 3, 2016 6:12:08 PM

The pros and cons of buying rental properties outside of your home market is a topic I have come across a lot in the past few months, so I thought I´d cover it in today´s blog (and in a brand new podcast recorded this morning). I hope you enjoy my take on the issue and would certainly welcome any feedback afterwards. 

It is easier to keep an eye on your own neighborhood
There is a lot to be said for investing in your home market. Here are just a few of the benefits:

1 You have already accumulated a lot of local knowledge just by living there for many years.
2. You probably have a network of friends and family who could help you out of a tight spot.
3. You can visit the property regularly and be on hand to assist with emergencies.
4. You can view every property personally several times before buying.
5. You can network with other local investors in the area.

However as we all know, sometimes it is just not practical to buy rental properties in your local town. Prices in most big American cities (especially the east coast and practically all of California) are REALLY high.

- That means it can take a long time to save enough money to buy even one home, never mind a diverse portfolio.

- That means rental returns are much lower. All things being equal, a $500,000 property doesn´t rent for 5 times as much as a $100,000 property.

The grass is sometimes greener on the other side of the country

If your goal is to build up a passive income stream through affordable rental properties with a steady cashflow, then the only option for many people is to look further afield. If you have made that decision, then I don´t think it really matters much if best location is a 2 hour drive away or on the other side of the country. 

However, there are a number of steps you need to follow if you don´t want to lose your shirt. If it is easy to lose money buying the wrong property in your local market, it is even easier to do it in a market you have never lived in at all. If you are serious about investing in locations far away from where you live, then here are my 7 recommended steps to get started.

1. Get control of your savings and get pre qualified
In fairness, this applies to everybody no matter where they want to invest. I´m writing it as step number one because there is absolutely no point in looking at other peoples houses if you don´t have your own house in order first. By definition, real estate investors live below their means and have acquired the habit of saving money. Getting on top of your household budget and getting pre qualified for a conventional loan (if you choose to go that route) are essential first steps. 

2. Find a market

I am a big believer in focusing on pro landlord states with growing populations, diverse open economies and naturally strong cashflow returns. If these fundamentals aren´t in place, then you will have to work very hard to convince me that they are worth looking at as a long term investment. If you can also find a place you would actually enjoy traveling to, that´s a big bonus as there are tax deductions for many of those flight, hotel, restaurant and car rental expenses incurred (speak to your CPA).  

3. Start Researching
Taking the time to study both the macro and the micro data is important. I wrote a blog a while back listing my "Top 8 websites for researching USA property" which is worth a look if you have a spare few minutes. Another tip - subscribe to local newspaper alerts in the city you are focusing on. For example, I receive an email every day from the Tampa Bay Times and have key word alerts for real estate related items. 

4. Do your number crunching houseinvestor.jpg
A lot of people don´t realise this, but the only way to get good at analysing deals is to practise analysing deals. Even if you aren´t ready to buy anything for 6 months, use that time to study 10-15 homes per week. Don´t jump all over the map either, stick to a relatively concentrated area. I can guarantee that after analysing 50+ deals, you will be ahead of most people. Tweak your formulas as you go along. Biggerpockets has a good calculator to get you started, but if you start buying seriously, you will have to develop your own template.

5. Network
Note that I´m putting this as number 5 and not number 1. Sometimes people start calling agents, investors and property managers in multiple cities before they have done their homework, and they´ll just end up annoying the people who can potentially form part of their investment team. I think you can get a lot more out of networking if you can show that you´re serious and have done a lot of homework yourself first. I get a few "teach me everything you know" requests and most of them get ignored because I don´t want to invest my time helping somebody before they´ve invested their own time first.

6. Build a team

Millennials Work.jpgYou could write a book on this alone, but I´m just going to touch on it very briefly* here. It goes without saying that you need a trustworthy team on the ground. If you are interested in the Tampa market, then we can certainly help as we have a very well established team of partners in place who help us buy, renovate and place tenants in a wide range of great rental properties

* See Torcana Podcast 10 for services you need as an out of state investor

7. Take action 

This is where a lot of people (understandably) fall short. You can dedicate months of evenings in front of a computer screen researching everything important but if you can´t find the courage to pull the trigger then nothing is going to happen. It is called analysis paralysis and it´s just something most of us have to work though. 

- If you are waiting for a perfect deal to fall on your lap you´ll be waiting a lot time.
- If you´re waiting until you´re not scared before investing, you´ll be waiting a long time.
- If you want to know every single thing in advance, you´ll be waiting a long time.

Research prior to buying is essential, but remember that lots of important lessons can only be learned from experience. We have bought dozens and dozens of houses and have made plenty of mistakes. But we made less mistakes this year than we did last year or the year before. There is nothing wrong with mistakes and you shouldn´t view making them as a sign of failure. It´s actually the opposite if you learn from them and keep moving forward. The experience gained from taking action is invaluable and we always had enough research done beforehand to make sure that the pros always outweighed the cons. 

Torcana Podcast 16
Earlier this morning I recorded Podcast 16 which discusses the topics described above in more detail (it´s 20 minutes long). Please click here or on the image below to listen to it directly, or better still, subscribe to all of our podcasts via Soundcloud or just search for "Torcana" on the podcast app of your iPhone or Android device.

That´s it from me today, thanks for tuning in and don´t hesitate to contact us directly (investments@torcana.com) if you´d like to discuss our forthcoming investment opportunities and/or how we can help you achieve your real estate goals. 

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Topics: Real Estate Investing, tampa rental property, out of state rentals

These are the reasons you should be investing in Tampa Florida real estate

Posted by Colin Murphy on Oct 14, 2016 5:46:02 PM

In todays blog I´d like to take the opportunity to share some really interesting facts we have unearthed regarding the Florida, and particularly the Tampa Bay markets. If you are still considering several different states from a property investment point of view, perhaps this information might convince you to take a closer look at our local market. 

Some of the reasons we love Florida..

- It leads the nation in job growth (ahead of Texas)
- The unemployment rate is just 4.8% (full percentage drop compared to last year)
- It is an extremely landlord friendly state
- No state income tax and very low property taxes (usually in 1-1.5% range)
- Low cost of living, great infrastructure and competitively priced homes
- Great lifestyle, climate, beaches, people, food and amazing sunsets!

What is so special about Tampa?

- It is by far the most important area in Florida after Miami. Local economy is worth $130 billion!
- Consistently one of the Top 20 fastest growing metro areas in the county with population of 4 million
- Four Fortune 500 companies headquartered here, plus 15 others with turnover of more than $1 billion
- Diverse economy with financial services, education, military, avionics, tourism and telecom sectors
- Tampa MSA added more than 44,000 new private sector jobs during 2015

Some key economic facts about Tampa

1. Jeff Vinik (Billionaire investor and owner of NHL Tampa Bay Lightening team) has teamed up with Bill Gates´ Cascade Investment in a $2 billion investment to transform 40 acres of downtown corridor into an entertainment, residential and business hub.

2. Port Tampa Bay is partnering with a range of private firms in a $1.7 billion project on 45 acres of port owned property near the Jeff Vinik & Bill Gates site. The port envisions 9 million square feet of mixed use space over the next 15 years.  

3. Tampa International Airport is halfway through phase one of its $1 billion renovation. This will help the airport accommodate up to 35m passengers per year (double the amount in 2013). It includes a 1.4 mile people mover track, a 2.6m sq ft car rental facility and a massive overhaul of main terminal with dozens of new restaurants and retailers.

4. Visitor spending in Tampa sustained over 48,000 jobs last year and generated sales of $5.6b in Hillsborough County alone. That is well above pre recession levels. Taxes from tourism are equivalent to $727 per household, one of the reasons Tampa is such a low tax environment for investors and local residents.

5. The University of South Florida in Tampa is one of the largest public universities in the nation and holds the distinction of being a top-tier research institution. With an annual operating budget of over $1.5bn, 48,000 students and 9,000 faculty staff, the USF has a major impact on the Tampa economy.

6. Tampa is home to US Central Command and the enormous MacDill Air Force base, which contributes $5 billion annually to the economy and employs over 15,000 people.  

What is Tampa MSA made up of? tampa-map-arrow.png

It´s important to remember that we deal with Tampa as a large metropolitan area. This is made up of many different towns and cities, each with their local authorities, permit offices, schools and other spheres of influence. It includes St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tarpon Springs, Sarasota, Bradenton, Spring Hill and key commuter towns in the center of it all: New Port Richey, Port Richey and Holiday. The latter three are where we are most active.

These are great neighborhoods where we specialise in sourcing concrete build single family homes. We renovate them thoroughly, usually with new roofs, HVAC, kitchen, floors, paint and bathrooms. The average sales prices range from $90,000 - $120,000 and rents from $900 - $1200.  

Our Latest Podcast

Earlier this morning I recorded a 20 minute podcast drilling down into the reasons why Florida, and particularly the Tampa Bay area is such a hot destination for rental property investors right now. We cover the business, tourism and educational sectors, the big infrastructure improvements that are underway and why we focus in community towns like New Port Richey & Holiday.

If you regularly listen to podcasts, just search for "Torcana" to view our entire archive, otherwise, you can click here to listen directly on soundcloud.  

That´s it from me today - happy investing!



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Topics: tampa property investment, tampa rental property, investing

How hot is the Tampa FL real estate market?

Posted by Colin Murphy on Oct 1, 2016 10:50:46 AM

As always, there is a lot going on behind the scenes in Torcana. The turnkey 3 bed property we promoted on 7211 Potomac Dr recently (pictured below) went under contract straight away and our buyer has already closed.  

Aside from Potomac Dr which is now finished, we are also renovating 4 properties and we have another 6 under contract. Strange as it may seem, many of these won´t be listed in our newsletters or on our website. Why? Because they are reserved off market by clients who are already well known to us. Many have bought from us a few times and/or have made a trip down to Tampa to see us, but most of all, they keep in regular contact with us by telephone. It is always the people who call us on aregular basis who get the inside information. 

To give you an example; just yesterday morning a client called my colleague David when he was at a property we´d purchased last Wednesday. He liked the look of our Potomac property above, but said he´d prefer a home located in the same Seven Springs area he purchased in back in January. It just so happened that this home was in that area and now it looks like we will be selling exclusively to him when the renovations are completed. 

It is just amazing how hot the Tampa Bay market is right now. Not just for homebuyers, but also for people who specialise in buying and rehabbing. We may have negotiated the resale of the Seven Springs property above just after we bought it, but it took six months of torturous short sale negotiations with a bank to get it in the first place. We didn´t even know when we were buying it until two days before the closing date! 


Other times it´s the complete opposite - if you can´t make a decision within an hour or two of seeing the home, somebody else will buy it from under you. It´s a bit like looking for a needle in a haystack, but whenever a needle pops up, there is 20 hands rushing to grab it. They are all cash buyers who are willing to take significant risks with the property renovation in order to realise a profit on resale. 

This can be hard to appreciate if you´re looking at active listings on Zillow, Trulia, RedFin etc, but I can assure you it´s the truth. There are a lot of nice looking properties for sale with outdated roofs, air conditioning units, electrical systems and water heaters that aren´t included in the glossy photos. Our renovation standards are as high as anybodies and we are very transparent about the important stuff under the bonnet (i.e. roofs, a/c, electrics).  

In conclusion, if you´re seriously interested about adding some turnkey rental properties producing terrific cashflow to your portfolio, please give me a call sometime on 727 302 1422. If I don´t answer, just leave a message and I will try to call you right back. Below you´ll find some additional information on Tampa and the areas we focus on. 

Why Tampa? 

Located on the west coast of Florida, Tampa Bay is a densely populated metro area comprised of Pinellas, Hillsborough, Pasco and Hernando counties. Major cities within this area include St. Petersburg, Largo, Clearwater, New Port Richey and Tampa. You could compare it to the San Francisco Bay area with its long bridges connecting various large urban areas. The Greater Tampa Bay region has a population of over 4 million and it is a $130 billion economy that is consistently ranked among the top 20 fastest growing metro areas in the country.

The Tampa metro area has a bustling business sector and offers a wealth of employment to its residents and commuters. Many corporations and Fortune 1000 companies such as financial services companies, healthcare, research, education facilities, avionics, information technology and telecommunications companies maintain national and global headquarters in Tampa. This area is now the biggest job generator among Florida metros, adding more than 44,000 during 2015.

There is a large volume of military contractors and naval bases concentrated in the area and Tampa is home to United States Central Command. Tampa also has a huge port, which is the 7th largest in the nation.

Situated along Florida’s Gulf Coast, the Tampa Bay region boasts an enviable quality of life with year round sunshine, a unique cultural heritage and a diverse business climate. It has a highly developed infrastructure with a network of road, air, water and rail transportation. It also boasts a multilingual, highly trained workforce supported by outstanding educational institutions, including the main campus of the University of South Florida with 50,000 students. With a low cost of living, no state income tax and affordable housing and health care, there’s no shortage of people who want to live and work here.

About Pasco County Tampa-Bay-Map.png
Through hundreds of hours of on-the- ground research, we have identified a huge pent up demand for newly renovated rental properties in the major Pasco County neighborhoods of Holiday, New Port Richey and Port Richey. After Miami, the Gulf Coast is the most densely populated area of Florida and there is a continuous stretch of urban and suburban communities stretching from Sarasota in the south all the way to Spring Hill in the north. The areas we focus on are in the center of this area and are within an easy commute to the major cities and cultural amenities of Clearwater (15 miles), Tampa (17 miles) and St. Petersburg (30 miles).

Pasco is outpacing the rest of the Florida in terms of new employers and employment opportunities and was recently named a “hot bed” for small business and entrepreneurial growth. The Florida Office of Economic and Demographic Research estimates that population growth in Pasco County will exceed 20% in the next ten years.

Our specialty is sourcing concrete single family homes built from 1970- 1985 located well away from the title flood areas on the coast. We purchase properties at below market value from auctions, wholesalers and distressed sellers, renovate them to a high standard and deliver strong rental returns to a wide range of out-of-state and overseas buyers.

Give us a call if you´d like to learn more!

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Topics: florida real estate, rental property, tampa

How are investors sourcing great USA rental property in 2016?

Posted by Colin Murphy on Jul 29, 2016 12:57:29 PM

I´d like to write about something a little different than the norm in today´s blog. As many of our readers will be aware, most major markets across the USA are in full recovery mode and waves of cheap money are chasing a shrinking number of opportunities. As a direct consequence, many investors are struggling to add to (or even start) a portfolio of rental properties that generates solid cash flow.

Therefore, I thought it would be interesting to write a short summary of the methods successful investors use to source great value rental properties REPEATEDLY no matter how competitive or distressed their local market is. I realise there are large funds out there who buy hundreds (and sometimes thousands) or properties every year, but I´m focusing on the tools investors who are interested in purchasing 1-10 units can use.

As you will see, there is nothing complicated about what these people do, although discipline, focus and a strong work ethic are certainly common factors. I´ll start with the most obvious & simple ways and will finish with the more sophisticated ones.  

Public Listings (MLS/Zillow/Trulia/RedFin)

These are the properties that are listed for sale on the open market. The majority are in decent condition and are being sold by licensed realtors. The multiple listings system (MLS) is what realtors, brokers, property managers and other professionals use to buy and sell properties. Within Torcana, we use the MLS quite a lot for research purposes (and sometimes for resales) but we don´t use it much to buy properties any more.

The reason is very simple - there is too much competition. Properties listed on the MLS (which are then widely distributed on open websites like Zillow & Trulia) are the most difficult way of securing a home at a great price. I still place bids on MLS properties regularly, but they would be short sales, bank sales (REOs) and another "distressed" homes. Anybody placing low ball offers on homes that are in good condition is going to end up wasting a lot of time.  

Wholesalers are specialists who secure properties and then sell them "as is" for a modest mark up. For example, they might put a property under contract for $50,000 and then assign it to somebody else for $55,000. You will find wholesalers on Zillow and Craigslist, they send a lot of direct mail and you´ll see their "we buy houses for cash" signposts everywhere. They will also be at local REIA and other networking events. I am on the mailing lists of 40-50 local wholesalers and every now and again we will buy a property from them. This is a very typical way for people who want to be full time investors to get started, as you don´t need much money to begin with (although it certainly requires a lot of effort).

Yellow letters / Direct marketing

Nowadays, anybody can access very sophisticated databases of potential private sellers using free public records and specialist websites like listsource.com. Aside from being able to target specific neighborhoods and property types, you can also carefully select your criteria to target both financially distressed sellers (pre-foreclosure, tax liens, code violations) and sellers motivated to sell for non-financial reasons (recent inheritance, recent divorce, recent eviction issues, winding down for retirement). 

Torcana sends direct marketing campaigns regularly to specific zipcodes in Tampa Florida. There is a decent amount of trial and error involved and you need to be prepared to stick at it over many months. A lot of people give up too early with direct marketing and/or persist with poorly designed mailing lists. 

Coincidentally, we put a property under contract earlier this week (26 July 16) from a direct marketing campaign. It is a 3 bed 2 bath in an area of New Port Richey we know very well. It is owned by two sisters who have been going through a lot of personal family issues and on top of that had major problems with tenants. The property has been vacant for six months and there are significant unpaid tax and utility bills. For the sellers, this property has been nothing but trouble and a source of significant stress. We were able to negotiate a cash "as is" offer for the property and I am getting it professionally inspected today. If we proceed to purchase, we will probably spend $30,000 - $35,000 on renovations and transform it from one of the worst homes on the street to one of the best homes on the street. 

Private auctions

There are many private auction platforms available : Hubzu.com, Auction.com, Hudhomestore.com, Hudsonandmarshall.com, Homepath.com and Homesearch.com are just a few of the ones we have used to successfully purchase Florida properties in the past year. They are all very different to each other. Each one has different terms, conditions, fees and contract submission platforms. For example, Hubzu charges 4.5% of the purchase price plus a $299 technology fee.

More importantly, some will provide inspection periods while others deduct immediate and non refundable deposits. We have successfully navigated these waters for several years and have converted a lot of neglected properties into beautiful turnkey gems.

Public Auctions

Many people hear about the great bargains available in the online USA foreclosure auctions. There is some truth to that, although there is certainly nothing easy about securing them. Unlike private auctions, there is no title insurance given against any tax or lien defects in public auctions, so you are taking on a lot of additional risk by bidding on them. 

That includes anything from a second mortgage, to tax liens, utility liens, code violations and even alimony liens. For example, we might find a lien for $10,000 attached to the property and so we would adjust our bid price by $10,000 as this would have to be settled before I could take clean ownership. You can mitigate this by carefully researching public records for evidence of liens, second mortgages, complex ownership structures, unpaid HOA and utility bills and other complications.

You need to brace yourself for a lot of frustration with public auctions are well - at least 60% of the properties tend to get cancelled or repurchased by the banks as opposed to sold to 3rd parties. In other words, this is for people with a lot of time on their hands and a healthy appetite for risk. We bid on public auctions regularly, but it is really time consuming. Click here for a longer blog I wrote on public auctions back in April 2015. 

Where should you get started?
Getting started depends on what way you want to buy property and how much time you have on your hands. Most people never get started - they just spend loads of time thinking and reading about it.  

I´m lucky in that I can afford to spend 60 hours a week doing this full time and work closely with a big team of partners and colleagues on the ground. That means we can pursue all the above sourcing avenues simultaneously and deal with the purchase, renovation and resale tasks for a constantly changing stream of properties. 

If you are investing in real estate part time you should probably take it a little slower than I do. In other words, master private auctions before moving onto public auctions and get your wholesaler list up and running before you start working on direct mail campaigns.  

What people do you need in place to build a rental portfolio?
Nobody has been successful in real estate by working on their own. That´s a fact. There are severalessential people any professional investor will need which include:

- Property Manager (finding, processing and managing tenants)
- Contractor (overseeing necessary renovations and all the headaches that come with it)
- Handyman (to fix the multitude of ad hoc issues)
- Property Inspector (to ensure roof, HVAC, plumbing, electrics and structure are sound)
- Administrator (to process all the paperwork involved)
- Title Agent (to perform lien & permit searches and deliver clean title)
- A good CPA and lawyer to make sure you aren´t breaking any rules or paying unnecessary taxes

What about purchasing turnkey instead?

If you don´t have the time to build a team that sources, renovates and manages properties but still want to put your hard earned money to work for you, then there is an obvious alternative which most of our clients already use. It is simply to deal with a turnkey operator like Torcana.

Unlike the vast majority of realtors who sell direct to home owners, Torcana have always specialised in delivering turnkey rental homes to out-of-state and overseas investors. That is our business niche and not very many people are doing it.

We already have a great team of people in place who have worked full time in this business for many years and we take all the risks involved in buying properties using the methods above so you don´t have to. 

We run a tight ship that enables us to deliver rent ready properties at competitive prices and strong cashflow returns in the 8-9% net range. Most of our properties are 3 bed 2 bath single family homes with a garden and attached garage priced in the $90,000 - $100,000 range.

If you are interested in learning more, then please reply to this email and let´s schedule a time to discuss further. It is always the people that make an effort to speak with us and stay in touch afterwards who receive priority access to our best opportunities.

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Topics: USA Property, tampa property investment, rental property, pasco

New law passed which will change the Florida condo market dramatically

Posted by Colin Murphy on Jul 22, 2016 10:50:59 AM

There was some great news for condo owners announced last week when the US Senate passed the "Housing Opportunity Through Modernization Act," by unanimous consent. 

I´m guessing very few people are going to read the small print, but it´s actually a pretty big deal as it eliminates many of the barriers to affordable mortgages for condo owners.

This bill will considerably loosen the existing restrictions on condominium financing. As well as making the FHA's recertification process substantially less burdensome, it also lowers the FHA's current owner-occupancy requirement from 50 percent to 35 percent. 

In other words, if you had a condo community with 100 units and only 35 of them were owner occupied, then you couldn´t get finance as an owner. In the near future, you can. In addition to first-time buyers, the bill will help current condo owners who hope to move up to single-family housing by making their current condominium much easier to sell (and therefore more valuable).

More importantly for Torcana clients, these changes will also make it easier for landlords of condos to sell them on the open market to owner occupiers. 

Tom Salomone, president of the National Association of Realtors said that "Condominiums often represent an affordable option that's just right for first-time and low-to-moderate income homebuyers. Unfortunately, overly burdensome restrictions on condo financing have for too long put that option out of reach for many creditworthy borrowers. This legislation meets those restrictions head on, putting the dream of homeownership back in reach for more Americans."

The bill has passed the House & Senate and is now on the Presidents desk. Once signed, it becomes law, so stay tuned.

Florida is stronger than ever house-for-sale.png
The Florida real estate market continues to go from strength to strength. If you had told me in 2010 that average house prices in Florida would rise continually for the next 4.5 years, I´d have said you were being ludicrously optimistic. With median salesprices for single families, condos and townhomes all increasing for 54 months in a row, that is exactly what has happened.

If you want the latest figures: the
Florida Realtors Association recently reported higher median prices (up 10.5%), more sales (up 4.5%) and dramatically fewer pre-foreclosure sales (down 37%) compared to this time last year. 

This really is a great market, and the turnkey rental homes we are selling to investors with price ranges of $90,000 - $120,000 and estimated NET rental returns of 8-9% are TERRIFIC value. 

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Topics: florida real estate, tampa rental property, florida condos

We look at what Brexit means for the US & Florida property markets

Posted by Colin Murphy on Jul 6, 2016 4:23:01 PM

It has been almost two weeks since Britain voted to leave the European Union and the economic and political shockwaves are still reverberating strongly around the world. I must admit I was very surprised by the result.


With all of the British political parties in turmoil, a dramatically weaker currency, tens of billions wiped off the UK stock market and multi-nationals canceling or downsizing investment programs, the Leave campaign slogan of "Let´s take back control" looks grimly ironic. 

As reams of articles are being published daily on this huge event, I´m going to restrict myself to commenting on how Brexit might affect the Florida and the wider US market. While they might seem far removed from the Brexit referendum, there is no doubt that it is going to have an impact. In my view, it will mostly be a positive impact, for several reasons.

1. Lower Mortgage Rates
The most obvious boost is that US mortgage rates have fallen to a three year low because the Federal Reserve will drag its feed on rate increases when there is so much uncertainty in the global markets. Lower mortgage rates increases peoples buying power, increases demand for homes and gives a boost to average house prices. 

2. US real estate looks even more stable and attractive now 
Uncertainty in Europe will increase demand in safe havens like the US, pushing prices higher. With a strong dollar and government bond yields close to zero (and negative in some places) investors will also naturally increase their exposure to US real estate as it can offer higher returns and much lower volatility than the stock market. US REITs (Real Estate Investment Trusts) are already seeing an immediate increase in interest from institutional buyers. To put it simply, nervous investors have always turned to real estate during times of volatility. 

3. London´s loss will be America´s gain

There is no question that Brexit is going to be bad for the London real estate market, especially the upper end. As banks and other multinationals downsize operations, local demand will suffer and the overseas buyers who have been investing huge sums of money in prime London real estate will startmoving cash to alternative property markets like New York and Miami. This was happening already, but Brexit will accelerate the pace. The share prices of major UK REITs & UK house builders have fallen by 20-30% in the past two weeks and nobody is predicting that they will recover to pre Brexit levels. 

4. Florida is stronger than ever house-for-sale.png
The Florida Realtors Association reported higher median prices (up 10.5%), more sales (up 4.5%) and dramatically fewer pre-foreclosure sales (down 37%) compared to this time last year.

Median sales prices for single families, condos and townhomes have all increased for 54 months in a row. If that isn´t a stable market, I don´t know what is! 


Nova Scotia Drive: Back on the market! 

When we advertised this beautiful home last week it was immediately reserved by one of our regular buyers. Unfortunately he has just canceled for personal reasons and so it is available to reserve today. Below you´ll find the full details...


Nova Scotia Drive is a three bed two bath property that has just been transformed by a renovation budget that exceeded $30,000. With a new roof, paint, air con, kitchen, floors and bathrooms; this is essentially a brand new home and it will make a superb rental property. 

Jasmine Estates is one of our favorite neighborhoods in Tampa and we have bought at least 8 properties in the immediate area this year (see map opposite). They have always rented quickly.

In addition to three bedrooms and two bathrooms, this home also has an attached one car garage and a newly fenced backyard. The purchase price is $105,900 and estimated net rental returns are 8.4%.

You´ll find plenty more details below including property description, video, photo gallery, map links, financial breakdown and renovation details. I would recommend that you REPLY QUICKLY if you are interested in securing.

About the Property


As you can see from the “before & after” photos below, this home is in superb rental condition. We have put together an 80 second video slideshow which is worth reviewing.

The home itself is a 3 bed 2 bath built in 1980 with over 1,890 sq ft (1,310 of which is heated) with a one car garage and fenced backyard. These are the properties every Realtor wants to get their hands on as they are easy to sell and easy to rent. This is a completely off market property that is exclusive to Torcana clients.

Nova Scotia Renovations (more than $30,000 worth)

Major items
- New a/c unit
- New roof
- New flooring (vinyl planks throughout and new carpets in bedrooms)
- Newly painted both inside and outside

- New cabinets, sink and faucets
- New granite countertops and tile backsplash
- New light fixtures and crown molding

- New granite counter and cabinet in main bathroom
- New vanity and back splash in second bathroom

- New smoke alarms, blinds, fans and interior doors
- Landscaping and new fence in back yard

Financial Projections


Important Links

1. Video SlideshowClick here

2. Photo Gallery

BEFORE Renovation

AFTER Renovation

3. Market Analysis
A quick analysis of the current properties listed for sale within 0.25 miles of this location shows only one house under $100,000. With a high quality renovation and estimated 8.4% net return, our house is excellent value at $105,900.

A quick analysis of resent sales of renovated homes in the area also shows several in the $80-83 per sq ft range, which is what this home is priced at. 

4. Google Map Link

5. Reservation Process
We are seeking cash buyers for this property (you can always refinance afterwards) with a 20-30 day closing. Initial deposit is $5,000 (payable to local title company) and we are happy to provide a 7 day inspection period, which can be extended for a buyer who wishes to visit personally. Happy to discuss the process further if you´d like to call us on 727 302 1422. 


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Topics: USA Property, tampa rental property, brexit

If you are waiting for the US housing market to slow down, you will probably be disappointed

Posted by Colin Murphy on Jun 16, 2016 2:37:30 PM

In today´s blog post..

- Feedback from a fascinating conference I attended in Miami recently
- How the economy and foundations of the current real estate market are different to 2006
- PLUS: Details of the new Torcana.com website

Will there be another housing correction in the US? 
Interesting Image

I was in Miami a couple of weeks ago (16-18 May 2016) at a large B2B conference. It was a terrific networking event full of real estate investors (large & small), lenders, insurance firms, renovation companies, specialist technology platforms and much more besides. The entire event was geared towards people who work in the business of single family home rentals. 

Aside from having 20-30 face to face meetings during an intense three day period, I also attended a dozen or so seminars with titles such as

"The Single Family Home Market in 2016 and Beyond"
"Buying in bulk vs buying individually"
"Major markets for foreclosures and property rehabbers"
"Exit strategies for small investors"

One of the major lessons I took away with me was that those who are sitting on the sidelines until the next correction in the US housing market comes along are going to be waiting a long time. There are several reasons for this, which I´ll try to explain briefly.


In the last 7 years we have seen a HUGE transfer of ownership from unqualified owners getting "no doc" loans to highly qualified owners passing stringent tests. The people who have been purchasing US property since 2009 are probably the most qualified in the last 50-60 years. Indeed, the default rates of the "post crash" borrowers is just 0.5%, which is half the long term average of 1%.

These buyers have high FICO scores, solid incomes and many have secured ultra fixed interest rates over 25-30 years. There is no way they are going to be forced to sell at fire sale prices the way the previous generation was.

Investors who are currently building rental portfolios are also in an extremely strong position. Rental demand from millennials, retirees and regular people with solid incomes is higher than it has ever been. Average values of the rental homes they´ve purchased have increased for 50+ months in a row and rental rates are on a steady upward curve. 

Torcana is on the coalface of the single family home market in Tampa, and I can tell you that inventory is extremely scarce. It is a constant battle to secure great value rental properties and competition is fierce. A typical three bed, two bath single family home with a fenced yard and 2 car garage is incredibly difficult to purchase as everybody wants to buy them.

I am under no illusions that buying rental properties is going to get easier in the near future. It will get more difficult and I´ll have to work harder and get more creative to find them. The Torcana team are well aware that this is a dynamic market with lots of buyers.

As for builders? They aren´t building anywhere NEAR enough to cope with natural demand and they show no signs of doing so. One of the facts I picked up during the Miami seminar was that there were 5 million existing homes sold and less than 500,000 new homes sold last year. In other words, there are 10 times more second hand properties being sold than new properties.  

Tampa is the real deal

Affordable real world markets like Tampa are not going to drop any time soon. In terms of prices and rental income, this is the most stable market I´ve seen in my 15 year career. The trend of high demand and limited supply is absolutely set to continue.  

The last two homes we advertised in our newsletters both sold within 1-2 days. We have several more really great houses in the pipeline and we´re confident they will sell equally quickly.

If you´d like to schedule a call to discuss what we have coming up, please let me know and I´ll be happy to fill you in. 

Finally, a quick word on our new website..

The Torcana website was redesigned recently, and I thought you might appreciate a quick preview! We have been working hard behind the scenes to provide a great source of information for anybody interested in learning more about buying turnkey rental properties in the USA, particularly Florida.

Here is a quick summary of what is available and any feedback would be very welcome indeed. 

1. A wide range of free to download market reports including:
- Buyers guide to Tampa Florida
- Comprehensive 77 page track record with before & after pictures
- 20 Things to know when investing in the real estate market
- The five biggest real estate mistakes to avoid
- General guide to investing in the US rental market

2. Access to our Podcast Archive (I´ll be recording another one later this week)

3. Hundreds of articles on the Torcana Blog

4. A new look property listings section with interactive maps, photo slides and videos
(full details of new homes will be added very soon)

5. Detailed articles on each of the investment property types we target (public & private auctions, bank owned foreclosures, distressed sellers etc.) will be published in the near future. 

That´s it from me today!  

Kind Regards,

Colin Murphy

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Topics: florida real estate, real estate, tampa property investment, tampa rental property

Thinking of buying real estate from out of state or overseas? We explain what you will need..

Posted by Colin Murphy on Apr 17, 2016 1:00:51 PM

At Torcana our specialty has always been catering to the requirements of out-of-state and overseas buyers keen to purchase turnkey rental properties. Surprising at it may seem, most locally based sellers are simply not tuned into the specific needs of potential buyers located thousands of miles away. They find it difficult to educate them on the market or inform them of what they need to be aware of as a non US resident. They find it difficult to cultivate business relationships with people they rarely (and sometimes never) get to meet in person.  

While most sellers would not be happy with the idea of answering continuous questions and building relationships with potential buyers who may take months (and often years) to take the plunge and invest in a property, it is actually what we thrive on. 

We have always gone out of our way to offer a high quality of customer service which includes:

- A regular supply of blogs, ebooks and podcasts to teach you about our real estate markets
- Providing turnkey rental properties with high renovation standards and competitive pricing
- Optional introductions to vetted property managers, insurance brokers & accountants
- Spending quality time with people that wish to visit the areas we operate in
- Being genuinely available to answer questions before, during and after your purchases 

Our Track Record

Back in January you may remember that we promoted a 30 page PDF that contained detailed information on 14 single family homes we had recently purchased, renovated and resold in the Tampa Florida area. They ranged in price from $70,000 - $100,000 with estimated net rental returns of 8-9% after all fixed and variable overheads.

We have been updating our records and next week (w/c 18 April)  I´ll be presenting a 75 page "Torcana Track Record" information pack which will contain details on no less than 36 properties worth $4.5 million that we recently transformed into beautiful turnkey homes.

The information pack will include a property description, financial breakdown and before & after photos of each home that was purchased, renovated and resold. They range from small 2 bed 1.5 bath properties in the Tampa suburbs worth $70,000 to two storey pool homes in affluent St. Petersburg neighborhoods worth $400,000. 

To give you a quick preview, here are details of three properties completed in the last couple of weeks ...

1. Valley Court, New Port Richey (Tampa FL). Status: Sold 

This home probably had the best curb appeal of the 30+ properties we have purchased in this part of Tampa. With great neighbors and bordering the Magnolia Valley Golf Club, his three bed two bath single family with a 2 car garage and large garden has excellent capital appreciation potential.

VIEW TWO PAGE BROCHURE (financials, description, before & after images) 

2. El Camino Paloma Ave, Port Richey (Tampa FL). Status: SOLD

A beautiful 3 bed 2 bath home in Port Richey which features fresh paint, new flooring, new third bedroom, bathrooms with new granite counters, an open plan living/dining combo and family room. There is an entertainment deck off the family room and the backyard is privacy fenced with a storage shed. Conveniently located near the bus line, shopping and restaurants.

VIEW TWO PAGE BROCHURE (financials, description, before & after images) 

3. Lakewood Drive, Hudson (Tampa FL). Status: Under Contract

Lakewood is a 3 bed 2 bathroom single family home with a huge garden in a quiet peaceful neighborhood. This lot size is three times bigger than the average property we purchase! The home features a brand new kitchen with granite counters, new air conditioning unit, new floors throughout, a screened front porch, attic and oversized garage.

VIEW TWO PAGE BROCHURE (financials, description, before & after images) 


As you can hopefully tell from the photos and financial breakdowns above, these are high quality renovations in genuinely nice neighborhoods. More importantly, all three of these properties sold for less than $100,000 and they all have high estimated net rental returns in the 8-9% range.  

Finally, here is a similar property that is available to purchase TODAY

Castanea Drive, Port Richey (Tampa FL): Available for $83,900 with est. 9% net returns


Castanea Drive is an immaculate home in the sought after Regency Park neighborhood in West Tampa (New Port Richey neighborhood). It two bedrooms, two bathrooms and a bonus room that could be used as a home office or playroom. This is completely rent ready with gorgeous flooring, new bathrooms, newly painted rooms and a huge fenced in backyard. 

The local property manager we work closely with on all our homes in this region paid a visit to the house a short time ago. We spoke on the phone and he said "it was probably the tidiest and most rent friendly home we´ve sent him to yet".

When we told him we were also going to add a dishwasher, some granite counters, new vanities and other miscellaneous items, he just shook his head and said it would be a pleasure to find tenants for it.  

This really is one of the cleanest properties we have secured for quite a while and would make a perfect rental home. With Tampa getting more competitive than ever, this is a rare opportunity to secure a quality, high yielding rental for just $83,900. 

To put this price in perspective - it equates to $48 per square foot! You couldn´t build a house for anything NEAR this price. Big national homebuilders with significant economies of scale could not deliver homes to clients at these prices either. 

Castanea Images: Click here to view full gallery of images 
Note: These images DON´T include the additional renovations we will completing before resale! 

Financial Breakdown (estimate only)

Four Point Inspection
(Click here for full image gallery)

This house is very sound with all major items in solid working order with many years of useful life remaining. Here is a brief summary of our professional inspection:

- Structure: Reinforced masonry
- Foundation: Slab
- Water heater: 8 years old 
- Roof: 9 years hold
- Air conditioning unit: 12 years old (est. life is 20 years)

Each star in the map below represents a home we have purchased and renovated in the past few months. While we also purchase in other parts of West Tampa & St. Petersburg, we know this area extremely well and the properties we have renovated here have always been rented quickly and efficiently. In short, it is one of our favorite neighborhoods for safe and profitable rental properties.   


Next Steps

If you are interested in reserving the above home (or a similar one), please try get in touch with me by telephone or email as soon as possible to discuss the next steps. 

Finally, please feel free to call me anytime for a general chat. If you are interested in learning more, but aren´t sure when or how you will be in a position to invest, it will still be our pleasure to make ourselves available to offer any guidance we can. 

Colin Murphy
727 302 1422

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Topics: Buying Real Estate, tampa rental property, investing from overseas

Our top 10 real estate stories from the last 10 years

Posted by Colin Murphy on Apr 1, 2016 6:16:36 PM

Every now and again I write a newsletter that takes a step back from the hectic day to day schedule of sourcing, renovating, promoting and selling turnkey rental properties in the Tampa Bay area. 

It is hard to find the time, but I enjoy the process of searching for a theme that has an interesting real estate angle that might offer our patient readers some respite from the constant barrage of promotional emails. 

Inspired by a Zillow article I read a few months back, this week I´ve decided to write about the "Top 10 Real Estate Stories of the Past 10 Years". Whether the last ten years have been good or bad to you financially, there can be little doubt that the period from 2006-2016 was one of the most disruptive in living memory.

Please read on if you´d like to take a short trip down (recent) memory lane to relive the changes caused by the market crash, the Fannie & Freddie bailouts, the record low interest rates and the rise of the internet as the dominant source of new sales and rental listings.

Each one of the ten stories below is more than interesting enough to merit its own newsletter, but I´m going to go through them extremely briefly in this email. However, I did record an indepth 20 minute podcast talking about each one in detail earlier this morning that I hope you can find time to listen to it. 


1. The real estate market collapsed
A huge 10-12 year housing bubble fueled by sub prime mortgages, reckless Wall Street traders, low interest rates and a range of misguided government policies finally burst with a huge BANG in early 2008. Washington Mutual was one of the first dominoes to fall, but things really took a dive after Bear Stearns was sold for peanuts to JP Morgan and Lehman Brothers was allowed to fail. 

2. Fannie & Freddie received a massive bailout
During the chaotic fallout from the Lehmans Brothers crash, the stock price plunges of both Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac brought both semi government entities to near collapse. As they guaranteed such a huge portion of mortgages at the time, they were deemed too big to fail and ultimately received a $187 billion bailout (which has since been repaid). They continue to guarantee more than 50% of all new US mortgages and are the main reason why so many investors and home owners have been enjoying 30 year fixed mortgages. 

3. Government policy forces mortgage rates to historic lows
I think late 2012 was the record for mortgage lows when 30 year fixed rates were as low as 3.3%. That is a ridiculously low rate and a direct result of federal policies to stimulate the housing market. Smart investors, particularly higher net worth ones, were also able to access very low mortgage interest rates to expand their portfolios. 

4. Detroit declares bankruptcy 
During the summer of 2013 and after some very nasty and protracted arguments with creditors, Detroit filed the largest municipal bankruptcy (by far!) in US history. It exited a year or so later, but a city with a shrinking population of 700,000 still has more than 100,000 vacant properties and a long list of pending foreclosures. While local real estate experts can and do make lots of money, it is not an ideal "turnkey" market for out of state or overseas investors, despite what the glossy emails and brochures might promise.   

5. The Internet turns property search and lead generation upside down

Stating that the internet is the most important tool for people searching for a new house seems like the most obvious thing in the world now. However, back in the early 2000s many people still relied on newspapers and property magazines as their main source of information. Detailed real estate information (e.g. sales prices of similar houses, days on market, property taxes) used to be available to professional insiders, and even what they had was nothing compared to what is available to everybody online now. Buying, selling and renting a property is far more transparent now thanks to the internet (although it contains a lot of inaccurate real estate info too!). 

6. Rebuilding in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina
Back in 2004, Katrina was first and foremost a human tragedy with more than 1800 people losing their lives. However, it is also a huge real estate story as over a million homes were destroyed. The federal, local and private initiatives to rebuild this area have already started to pay dividends, but it will take a lifetime to replace all those properties. 

7. People stopped getting so obsessed with "bigger is better"
One of the positive side affects of the real estate crash was that people realized they didn´t always need to buy huge properties. In Florida especially, there was an alarming trend towards 4, 5 and 6 bed single family homes. I live in quite a modest sized house and can´t understand friends who buy these huge properties that cost a fortune to purchase, maintain and pay taxes on. People seem to be changing now though, and the same holds true for renters. If you have a well renovated property in a nice area, people will be more than happy with 1000-1300 sq ft in the areas we operate in. 

8. Real estate TV shows start to flourish 
I have always found it very amusing that real estate shows only really started to flourish during the biggest real estate crisis in living memory. For the last 5 years, HGTV and other channels have been showing dozens of popular programs showing (good looking) people finding that diamond in the rough and transforming it into a beautiful home. They are good fun and I tune into them every now and again, but they are completely divorced from reality. 

9. Millennials and Baby Boomers drive migration back to urban areas
As discussed in a Torcana blog a few months ago, Millenials (lucky people born after 1980) show a distinct preference for urban accommodation close to transport links, amenities, universities, bars, shops etc. Many of them rent and like to keep flexible for job relocation and other lifestyle reasons. Conversely, many retiring baby boomer generations are moving back to the cities they left 40 years ago when they bought a big house in the suburbs to raise a family. 

These are just two of many different trends, and while some builders are capitalizing on them very well, the fundamental truths don´t change. In other words, when people want to settle down and have families, the default choice for most is still to buy (or rent) a more spacious house in the suburbs with a nice garden. That is the market Torcana is involved in. 

10. Return of cash buyers and massive portfolio builders
If you rewind the clock back to 2002-2007, practically nobody was buying properties with cash. To do so would have seemed completely insane at the time as prices were rising so fast and finance was so easy to come by. Fast forward to 2012-2016 though and in places like Florida you´re still seeing fully 40% of all real estate transactions being funded by non conventional means. Also, companies like Blackstone, Carlyle Group and KKR all have property portfolios worth many tens of billions of dollars. They barely existed as residential landlords ten years ago. 

Don´t let other peoples fears infect your drive to succeed as an investor

Before I let you go to enjoy your weekend I wanted to touch briefly on something important. Earlier this week I had a conversation with a client that seems to repeat itself once every couple of months. An investor who has been reallyenthusiastic about starting their journey as a property landlord had their confidence dented by the opinion of a third party close to them.

Just like everybody else who wants to start a new business or do something different from the crowd, property investors have to combat their fair share of naysayers as they begin their real estate journeys. Keeping other peoples fears from infecting your drive to invest can be a challenge, particularly when they come from close friends and family members who have our best interests at heart.

I finished a very well known book recently called "The Millionaire Real Estate Investor" which has a large section at the back with mini biographies of successful people. One of the chapters that stuck with me was the story of a young woman called Renata Circeo. Just after graduating college, Renata was told by her father that "she was too young" when she approached him for a loan for a down payment on her first rental property.

Faced with that kind of feedback from such a trusted authority figure, most people would have postponed their real estate dreams then and there. But to her credit, this young lady took it on the chin and simply said "I know Dad, I just wanted to give you first refusal" before going ahead and finding the funds elsewhere. Fast forward 10 years from that conversation and she had a diverse portfolio comprised of 5 single family homes, two duplexes, six condos and an 18 unit apartment building.
Clearly Renata had an uncommon drive, but I just wanted to illustrate that while there are many kinds of bumps on the road to building a real estate portfolio, it is absolutely worth it if you are willing to put in the time and research to make it happen. Torcana can help provide you with the right tools and options and we are  always available to talk to people who are interested in this business. 

I´ll leave it at that for today, but thanks for reading this far, and don´t forget to tune into our latest podcast

Kind Regards,

Colin Murphy

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Topics: real estate, tampa rental property, tampa homeownership trends

The 13 things you should know before investing in real estate

Posted by Colin Murphy on Mar 7, 2016 1:10:17 PM

Last week was another hectic one for the Torcana team with two new properties purchased and renovations on several more underway. 

We will be releasing a detailed summary in the next day or two, so if you have been thinking about building up or starting a rental portfolio - please keep a close eye on this blog (or just call us). 

In the meantime, I have finished recording the sixth Torcana podcast and it is now available on all our platforms. As a lot of our readers are thinking about taking the plunge for the first time in the Florida market, I decided to compile a list of 13 actionable tips that are important to consider when buying rental properties. I talk about what you need to get in order before looking at properties, what you need to do before buying them and what you should be keeping an eye on afterwards. Enjoy!

New Podcast: The 13 things you need to know before investing in real estate

Please click here or on the image below if you´d like to listen now (also available on iTunes & Android). As always, feedback would be very welcome! 


That´s it from me today.. and as mentioned above, keep an eye out for a new blog post containing the juicy details on the great rental properties we are currently working on.

Colin Murphy

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Topics: podcast, real estate investment, rental property,

Would you like a home like this? Summary of our last six renovation projects.

Posted by Colin Murphy on Feb 24, 2016 11:00:00 AM

It has been an exceptionally busy six weeks for the Torcana team and we have recently completed renovations and resales for a wide variety of properties in the Tampa Bay area. 

Below you´ll find brief descriptions, including some great images, on the homes we have been working on over the past few weeks. Each of these four homes is priced between $89,000 - $115,000 with estimated net rental returns of 8.7% - 9%. 

(PS: I did find time to record a short podcast earlier today, so please click here if you´d like to listen to it now). 

7964 Putnam Circle, Port Richey, FL 34652 (Under Contact)

A very spacious 3 bed 2 bath property measuring 1478 sq ft. Renovations included a new roof, a brand new kitchen (cabinets, countertops, appliances), upgraded bathrooms and new flooring throughout. It is currently listed for rent for $1,250 per month and we expect tenants to be in place shortly.

Expected net rental return: 8.9%.  
Photo Gallery: Click here 

7207 Fairfax Drive, Port Richey, FL 34668 (Under Contract)

Another great 3 bed 2 bath single family home measuring 1326 sq ft. Renovations included a new roof, new floors, painting throughout, new granite countertops  and other cosmetic updates. Our local property manager is in the final stages of screening new tenants who have already signed an application and agreed to pay $1,075 per month.  

Expected net rental return: 8.7%.  
Photo Gallery: Click here 

7020 Ingleside Drive, Port Richey, FL 34668 (Under Contract)

A 3 bed 2 bath property located just two blocks from the busy Embassy Blvd and very close to the huge Gulf View Square Mall. Renovations included a completely new kitchen with granite counters, upgraded bathrooms and significant landscaping. It will shortly be listed for rent for $975 per month and demand is expected to be very high. 

Expected net rental return: 8.7%.  
Photo Gallery: Click here 

5004 Sherwood Drive, Port Richey, FL 34652 (Under Contract)
A large 3 bed 2 bath measuring 1524 sq ft in a great location just off Cecelia Dr with easy access to Downtown Tampa, Clearwater and St. Petersburg. The renovations are well underway and include new granite kitchen countertops, paint throughout, upgraded master bathroom, significant plumbing and electric work and a new garage door with motor. 

Expected net rental return: 8.7%.  
Photo Gallery: None available as it´s still under renovation

Next Steps
If you would like to reserve properties similar to the four homes described above, all you need to do is schedule a call to discuss your individual preferences, budget, timings and general objectives. 

Sometimes we will purchase and renovate homes that are more suitable for resale to the local "owner occupier" market, so we don´t usually include them in our newsletters. These properties can take longer to sell and the rental returns will be modest, but the scope for capital growth is often higher.

Below you´ll see two great examples, but don´t compare them to the properties above as these are worth over $400,000 each!

235 Snell Isle Blvd NE, St Petersburg FL33701 (Sold)

This is a very special home that we have owned for several years and just sold earlier today. It is a beautiful 3 bed 2 bath single home with a large garden and swimming pool located in one of the most desirable and historic neighborhoods of St Petersburg. We added a new bathroom in the master bedroom, a new kitchen with granite countertops, new light fixtures, baseboards, doors, and a new 4 ton air conditioner with new duct work.

There is a lounge area and a main salon which boasts a gorgeous reception and formal dining area. The three large bedrooms are all doubles with one located downstairs and two upstairs. It has been newly painted throughout and has stunning finished hardwood floors, newer windows and lots of natural light. Finally, the yard is beautifully landscaped with lush plants, palm trees and a swimming pool and deck area. 

Photo Gallery: Click here (make sure you look at these, it´s a stunning home).

3210 Gulf Blvd #304, Belleair Beach FL33786 (For Sale)

This is a beach front condo with incredible direct views of the Gulf that we purchased about 18 months ago and just listed for sale two days ago. We have been inundated with calls from realtors ever since.

It is a beautifully staged and freshly painted home in immaculate condition. It features ceiling fans in every room with newer wiring, HVAC, light fixtures, crown molding, appliances, California style closets, Soltillo tile, granite & Corlan countertops and custom maple kitchen cabinets.

The community itself is extremely well run with significant exterior renovations completed in 2009. There is a large community pool, assigned parking (room for 2 cars) and direct beach access. Overall, this is a fabulous location in one of the most sought after low rise condo communities on the Gulf Coast. Watch the sunset every day from your private balcony overlooking Belleair Beach!

Photo Gallery: Click here (check out the views!)

Next Steps
Please don´t hesitate to pick up the phone and speak to us if you´d like to learn more about this business and more about building your own property portfolio. 

Free 14 page guide to the Tampa Florida real estate market

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Topics: florida real estate, rental property, tampa

Three ways you can build a great passive income stream

Posted by Colin Murphy on Feb 22, 2016 8:08:38 AM

I recently read an article that described the three main ways to earn passive income. For a lot of people (myself included), the holy grail of a career is figuring out how to build up a large passive income stream.

Want to listen to the podcast version instead?



I love the idea of working hard and building up sufficient assets so that my family will receive a regular income stream no matter what happens to me. Striving to achieve that goal is a great source of daily motivation. 

So, what are the three ways to build a passive income?

first of the three ways is to start or invest directly in a business and bring it to a point where others can run it for you. I have HUGE admiration for people that are able to do this. 

The second way is to buy stocks and bonds that pay regular dividends and (hopefully) increase in value over time. Some people (Warren Buffett for example) are naturally brilliant investors that know how to make double digit returns year after year no matter what the market throws at them. However, most have no control over what happens to the funds they have tied up in the stock markets and just keep their fingers crossed that they can exit on a high tide.   

No prizes for guessing that real estate is the third way, and in my opinion, it is by far the most straight forward and controllable of the three main methods to make a passive income.  

One of the best things about real estate is that it is a concept most people can easily understand. You buy a property, get it fixed up and you rent it out. You set aside some money for repairs, be respectful of your tenants and then sit back while the rental checks arrive every month. With a bit of luck and a lot of patience, the value of your rental homes will increase nicely over time.


While real estate may be an easy concept to grasp, that doesn´t mean sourcing, buying and preparing the right kinds of homes is easy. As I mentioned last week, it requires a lot of discipline and attention to detail.  

Fortunately, I happen to work in a business that helps busy people build strong rental portfolios. The better we get at helping people build these passive income streams, the easier it is for us to build our own.
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Topics: real estate, rental property, passive income,, tampa

Our 7 step process to buying an amazing Florida rental property

Posted by Colin Murphy on Feb 9, 2016 2:49:23 PM

In todays blog, I will outlining the seven steps we take every week to source, analyze, purchase and renovate homes throughout the Tampa Bay area in Florida. Last week alone, I analyzed 50 different homes, 19 of which were personally visited by my colleagues. We followed up those visits with nine cash offers and had two of them accepted.

The aim of this article is to really drill down into the nuts and bolts of buying and owning real estate. While the day to day reality is far less glamorous than the depictions of the popular tv shows, purchasing your own rental properties has the potential to transform your life in more ways than any other investment I know of. 

I have tried to write a valuable step-by-step guide for anybody interested in learning more about the real estate business. It hopefully gives some useful insights into what the Torcana team actually does every day, including all the number crunching, the hundreds of miles we clock up every week and the financial risks we take in the weeks and months before we present a turnkey property to you. 

Remember: You can now subscribe to our weekly AUDIO & VIDEO podcasts

Step 1: Finding and analyzing potential houses

When you first start looking at properties for sale, it is very easy to get overwhelmed by the sheer volume of options out there (see local map above listing homes currently available in our target areas). That´s why it´s important to focus on very specific property types, price ranges and locations.

Last week (1-5 February) I carefully studied 50 potential single family homes listed for sale in the Tampa Bay area. That included the MLS (official website used by real estate agents), Zillow, Craigslist and several online auction sites such as hubzu.com and auction.com. We also get calls every week from local property owners who receive letters from us asking them to call if they are interested in selling their property for cash.

By “carefully studying” I don´t mean reading the listing information and looking at the photos a couple of times. In the Torcana office it means inputting details into an in-house designed spreadsheet, which contains more than 70 rows of data on each property. As you´d expect, this includes the basics such as beds, baths, sq ft, year built, asking price and market rent. It also includes fields for outstanding permits, liens, rehab estimates, holding costs, tax records, closing costs, running costs, map links and much else besides.

Step 2: Visiting the properties 

After the initial numbers were crunched, the initial list of 50 properties was whittled down to a shortlist of 19 that were to be personally inspected. After visiting hundreds of them you get pretty efficient at this and we can usually get in and out in less than 45 minutes per property. We use Google maps to plan our trips as efficiently as possible. It is also helpful to see where prospective properties are located in relation to others we have already purchased.

Draft renovation budgets are quickly calculated during these initial inspections, which usually includes a new kitchen, floors, roof, paint and bathroom vanities. Feedback is provided to me using a note sharing app which also includes observations on the local area. These observations can either be positive (neighbors with nice gardens and clean cars) or negative (neighbors with pit bull terriers and gardens full of junk). My spreadsheets are updated accordingly and 9 of the 19 properties inspected last week were given green lights to make offers.

Step 3: Making an offer 

I am not a big fan of verbal offers – I prefer to send a signed document with a proof of funds to the seller or their representative. It shows that we are serious and ready to move quickly. We don´t wait around to make offers either – I will usually send a contract to the seller the same day we visit the properties. The best opportunities are rarely available for more than a couple of days.

Many of the sellers we deal with are banks, which have their own online systems for submitting offers. As you´d expect from a bank, most are pointlessly inefficient and almost seem to be designed to discourage people from making offers in the first place.

Step 4: Offers accepted 
Getting an offer accepted
Of the 9 offers made last week, 2 of them were accepted, which is actually higher than average (about 1 in 10 would be the norm). Once the sellers returned the signed purchase agreements, I immediately ordered property inspections from a licensed professional. We have been working with the same property inspector for a couple of years and he knows we need them quickly. If I order one on a Monday morning, he usually visits the property that same afternoon and emails me the official report the following morning. 

These reports (which cost $90 each) contain the following information:

- Dwelling (observations, comments and concerns on the exterior structure)
- HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning details)
- Plumbing system (age of pipes, water heater, valves and condition of appliances)
- Electrical (condition of electrical panels, types of wiring present)
- Roof (type – shingle, tile etc, roof age, estimated remaining life, signs of damage)inspection.jpg

The important thing to note about property inspections is that they focus on the non-cosmetic stuff that can actually cost you a lot of money. Anybody can see that a kitchen needs upgraded and you will know the cost in advance. On the other hand, a roof, water heater or air conditioning unit on their last legs could cost you many thousands of dollars. Serious issues with the structure, the foundations or a buried septic tank could cost you tens of thousands to repair.

Of the two inspection reports ordered last week, one of them came back with a clean bill of health. The report on the second property (see image opposite) mentioned that there was aluminium wiring in the house, which could mean spending an extra $1,500 on special alumi conn fuses to bring them up to code (we learned that the hard way on a previous house). There were also some damaged water valves spotted.

A layman (even one who buys properties for a living) would probably not have noticed either of these items. As you can appreciate, these are issues that need to be identified quickly – ideally before your purchase deposit becomes non-refundable!

Today we will have to get a professional estimate to address the aluminium wiring and the damaged valves. If the seller is unwilling to renegotiate the price accordingly, we will cancel our contract, request a refund of our deposit and move on. 

Will will visit the inspected houses again early this week with a general contractor and will spend about an hour with them in each home designing a detailed renovation scope of works, which is inputted online in real time. Again, I will adjust our calculations accordingly.

Step 5: Purchasing the house

Now that our due diligence on the house has been completed and we have a detailed renovation scope of works, it is up to our title company to make sure that clean title is transferred on the day of closing.

If any unpaid utility bills or taxes are found during their searches, they will have to be paid by the seller before the closing date. This sometimes causes needless delays – a property I was supposed to buy on 18th January is closing today (8th February) because of an unpaid $150 water bill. As usual, the owner (a bank) and the utility company did their level best to make this as complicated as possible. In the end we just lost patience and visited the water company ourselves, wrote them a check, got a receipt, sent it to the seller and told them to get on with it.

Sometimes liens are placed on the property – which is more serious. I recently had a purchase delayed by 6 weeks because the seller had an unpaid $1,800 credit card bill. Mastercard were able to hold up the sale until it was satisfied. You´ll also see liens placed by local tax authorities, local municipal authorities, home ownership associations, mortgage companies and even child support authorities. 

As you can probably guess, this is an important part of theprocess and not the time to take your eye off the ball. The most dangerous way to purchase a property is at a public auction as you will not have any time for any formal title checks or title insurance. You might think you got a bargain for $60,000 only to find that you are on the hook for a $70,000 second mortgage that came with the property. It happens every week. Professionals can spot the second mortgage in the public records before they bid. Newbies often don´t know where to look. 

Starting your property investment career by purchasing at a public auction is a little bit like heading straight for the advanced black rated slopes on your first day skiing - probably not a good idea. You´d be better off starting with the REO auctions that come with the liens already cleared.

Step 6: Getting the property rent ready and tenanted

Before I go any further, thanks for reading this far! I´m not going to go into much detail about getting a property rent ready as I have discussed renovations in other blogs (and will do so again in the future).

I will simply summarize by saying that we do whatever is necessary to present the property to our buyers and their future tenants to a higher than average standard. When we list our properties for rent, the quality of the kitchens (usually with new cabinets and granite counter tops), bathrooms, flooring, paint and landscaping are all higher than average for the local area.

To be clear, that doesn´t mean they are nicer than your $400,000 house, just better than the other $90,000 properties in this particular area. Over renovating can be a very easy way to lose money. 

The upshot of our renovation policy is that we get lots of inquiries and the properties are quickly rented. I remember we finished two big renovations in late December and our property manager was able to place tenants in both homes by the 7th of January. Pretty quick right? Demand in these areas is naturally high and when we advertise a renovated home with great photos you´ll always generate a lot of interest.

Step 7: Selling turnkey to our clients

The whole point of this entire process (the sourcing, the number crunching, the property visits, the negotiations with sellers, spending money on houses in disrepair, dealing with contractors and title agents) is to enable us to provide great turnkey rental homes to our clients.

All of our offers and renovation budgets are calculated with the end goal in mind – presenting a rent ready property at a fair price that will generate an estimated 8-9% in net cash flow per year.

In other words, if you buy a property from us for $100,000, we want you to receive $8,000 - $9,000 net every year. That is net of your expected property management, property tax and home insurance costs. It also includes setting aside another 10% for vacancy and maintenance reserves. The properties you see advertised with 15% returns usually forget to include this stuff (and will probably need a new roof within 2 years).

We don´t just sell and then leave you alone either. We make sure you have a great property manager (who uses software that lets you login and view status of your income & expenses 24/7) an insurance carrier who understands what coverage landlords need, and we are always available to answer your questions before, during and after the purchase. 


We do all the work (and believe me, doing this properly requires a lot of work) so you don´t have to. It is difficult to source, renovate and purchase rental properties as a hobby or part time. Most people don´t have 60 hours a week like I do to stare at spreadsheets and make offers all day long.

The vast majority of our clients have full time jobs doing something completely different to real estate investing. What they have in common is that they recognize the importance of putting some of their hard earned cash to work for them. After all, having a passive income stream is crucial to anybody who wants financial freedom and it requires long term planning.

Buying rental properties is the best way I know to protect and grow your wealth without subjecting yourself to the volatility of the stock markets and the unacceptably low returns from bank deposits and government bonds. 

Right now, we have four properties under renovation and another three under contract. The properties being renovated will be reserved in the coming days and the others within a few weeks. If you are interested, please don´t sit back and wait for the information to come to you, as most are sold to people who reach out to us in advance.

I´d love to hear from you today! 

Click here to schedule a call

Colin Murphy
Torcana Ltd

PS: You can now subscribe to our weekly AUDIO & VIDEO podcasts

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Topics: Real Estate Investing, Research Guidelines, Property in Florida, tampa rental property

Five crucial tips most realtors and property sellers do not like talking about

Posted by Colin Murphy on Feb 5, 2016 11:44:41 AM

As mentioned at the beginning of our special video podcast last week, we have decided to work harder at helping people access to great real estate information while on the move. 

Earlier this week I recorded a second podcast, one that discusses five important issues that most realtors and sellers will avoid talking about.

1. What is the actual step by step process for buying a home after you´ve agreed a price?

2. How do title companies protect your funds and ensure you don´t get a shock after you´ve taken ownership?

3. How are closing costs broken down and what do you need to look out for?

4. What are the three most important things you need to do after closing on a property (hint: insurance and property management are two of them)

5. What are your tax obligations as a landlord, explained in plain laymans English?

Whether you are just starting out on the property ladder or have a few rental homes under your belt, this recording could save you thousands of dollars and help you get to the next level.

There are four ways you can access this information right now. Here you go!

1. Subscribe to our podcasts on iTunes or Playstore! Torcana on iTunes

As of this week, you can now access the Torcana podcasts directly from your Apple or Android smartphone. That means new episodes will automatically appear as soon as I record them.

If you already listen to podcasts, all you need to do is search for Torcana. If you are new to this, download a podcast app first (Podcast for iTunes or Podcast Addict for Android) . Feel free to call me if you´d like a quick tutorial on getting started! 

I love listening to podcasts. I always subscribe to 8-9 different shows. Unsurprisingly, real estate and investment podcasts are my favorites, followed by current affairs. 

Direct link to iTunes: Click here

2. Watch the Video Version

If you have the time, the video versions are the best way to enjoy these. I try to insert as many helpful images, graphs and titles as I can.

Please click here if the link above does not work for you.

3. Listen to the Audio Version

Audio is the easiest way to enjoy these podcasts. Listen to them in your car, on the train, in the gym etc. If you want access all the time, it´s best to subscribe directly from your smartphone (see instructions above), but you´ll always find the latest versions on soundcloud.com as well. 

Please click here if the link above does not work for you. 

4. Download a PDF version

To me this is the least useful of the four, but if you want a very quick summary of a 15-25 minute podcast, then you might like to view and read this PDF. (Immediate access, no forms).


As of today, we have three properties under renovation and another three under contract. Two of those have already been reserved and it´s likely another two will be in the next few days.

It would be fair to say that a majority of the turnkey rental properties we sold last year were allocated to buyers before we even advertised them for sale. The people who had made the effort to speak with or visit us, who did their research and clearly outlined their budgets and goals, were our most active buyers and they secured terrific properties. 

Click here to schedule a call

If you would like to be on this "pre-sale" list, all you have to do is make an effort to speak with us and ask a few questions. We´d love to hear from you! 

Hope you enjoy the podcast above - your feedback is very welcome. 

Colin Murphy

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Topics: Real Estate Investing, tampa rental property, podcast

Special video podcast on building a Florida real estate portfolio

Posted by Colin Murphy on Jan 29, 2016 5:36:26 PM

man-running-earphones.jpgOne of the biggest changes I have noticed in the last 10 years are the tremendous opportunities people have to entertain and educate themselves while on the move. Everywhere around the world, you will see people in cars, gyms, parks, train stations and airports watching or listening to a bewildering array of programs on a portable device. I personally spend a lot of time listening to real estate & business podcasts (email me if you´d like to know what they are) and I figured that it was high time we started delivering information to our clients in video & audio formats in addition to our emails, blogs and smartphone app platforms. 

Earlier this week, I recorded a 25 minute podcast which may be of interest to anyone who: 

- Wants to put their put their savings to productive use
- Is interested in building a cash flow positive rental portfolio
- Would like to learn about the tremendous opportunities available in Tampa Florida

Torcana´s Video Podcast (audio only also available)
With the aid of graphs, bullet points and images, this podcast clearly outlines:

- Exactly why we are investing our own funds in Tampa Florida
- Our property sourcing methods 
- Why economic, cultural and demographic conditions for landlords have never been better
- Full details of three recent turnkey properties
- Frequently Asked Questions

Please click here or on the image below to view our video presentation. 


Audio Only VersionPodcast_logo.png
If you´d like to listen to an audio version of the podcast while on the move, please click on the link below. It should play directly on your iPhone & Android device. 



It would be fair to say that a majority of the turnkey rental properties we sold last year were allocated to buyers before we even advertised them for sale. The people who had made the effort to speak with or visit us, who did their research and clearly outlined their budgets and goals, were our most active buyers and they secured terrific properties

Click here to schedule a call

If you would like to be on this "pre-sale" list, all you have to do is make an effort to speak with us and ask a few questions. We´d love to hear from you! 

Hope you enjoy the podcast above - all feedback very welcome. 

Colin Murphy
Torcana Ltd

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Topics: florida real estate, tampa property investment, tampa rental property, podcast

Stunning Tampa FL rental home with 9% returns. Look at these photos!

Posted by Colin Murphy on Jan 25, 2016 5:22:05 PM

Over the next couple of months, I will be sending shorter, more frequent blogs compared to the longer "newsletter" type ones sent recently

The aim of these posts is to give our readers an insight into the day-to-day business of buying, renovating and selling properties in the Tampa Florida area, plus more images and details of the individual homes as they become available. Here is a prime example of the turnkey homes with high rental returns that we offer to investors:

Avery Rd, New Port Richey (Tampa Florida)

A recent property we completed in late December was also one of the complicated renovations we have undertaken in Tampa. 

Avery Rd is located in a quiet neighborhood just off the major route 19 and is full of well kept lawns and owner occupiers who take pride in their homes. This is a huge 4 bed 2 bath property measuring over 2,000 sq ft. A very nice mix of retirees and young families live in this middle class suburb which is within commuting distance to downtown Tampa, Clearwater, Palm Harbor and St. Petersburg.

Within 35 days of purchasing this home, we had completely transformed it with a $37,000 renovation which included a new roof, new painting throughout, brand new kitchen, new flooring, new wall lights and ceiling fans, creation of new master bedroom and extensive landscaping.

Before & After Photos

More "Before" Photos
More "After" Photos

Rent and Financials
This property was listed for rent on 29th December and a qualified tenant was secured at the full asking price ($1250 per month) by January 7th. The new owner can reasonably expect to earn a 9.1% return on their money, after fixed and variable overheads. 


The property above was sold to a Torcana client in late December. They had been in regular contact with us throughout the year, had done their research, and were prepared to move quickly once an opportunity landed on their desk. 

The good news is that we are working on more properties that are just as profitable (and a little cheaper) than Avery Rd. In fact, we are in the process of purchasing & renovating five 3 bed properties right now, all of which should be rent ready within 4 weeks. 

We strongly encourage anybody interested in this concept and these types of high yielding single family homes to call us in advance. Many of our turnkey homes are sold in this manner before being officially listed for sale. We are also happy to meet you and show you around the area if you´d like to fly down.

In our experience, the people who are most comfortable and successful in building rental portfolios are those who take their research seriously, who engage with us regularly and who build relationships on the ground.

Want to read more about homes like Avery Rd?
Over the past few weeks, our marketing team has been busy putting together a 30 page brochure with very detailed information on 14 properties like Avery Rd. Aside from detailed financials, we have also included property descriptions and terrific "before and after" renovation photographs. 

Tampa Florida rental properties: Free 30 page brochure
Note: Free 14 page report on Tampa Florida included with above brochure!


If you are interested in having a conversation regarding the five homes we are currently preparing for resale, my advice is to download the 30 page brochure above and then schedule a call with me directly. 

Click here to schedule a call now

Colin Murphy



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Topics: florida real estate, tampa property investment, tampa rental property

2016 Dilemma: Stable rental income vs treacherous stock market?

Posted by Colin Murphy on Jan 20, 2016 3:59:30 PM

I recently returned from another visit to booming Tampa Florida and as you´d expect, I spent a lot of time examining properties and meeting various real estate colleagues. Nothing unusual there. 

More unusual were the networking conversations I had with wealthy professionals who work outside the property industry, who previously had little interest in real estate investing or in rental properties. Last week I spent several hours with people who had been investing for retirement over the past 10-20 years. Many had substantial sums invested in equities and bonds. They are knowledgeable people whose opinions I respected.
All were worried about what 2016 had in store and were nervous about the global stock markets and commodities. Perhaps you have had similar discussions with your friends about how to protect your portfolio?

It is official that stock markets have had their worst start since 2008, and both investors and savers are rightly getting nervous about what might happen to the value of their portfolios. They have enjoyed nice dividends and rising shares for five years but 2015 was a bad year, and the outlook for 2016 is very uncertain.

In contrast to the equity boom of the last five years, large numbers of people are now viewing the income and capital growth from rental properties as far safer and more profitable than the falling dividends and share prices in the stock markets. 

Now more than ever may be the time to serious consider rental properties

It is worth remembering that the stock market is not the economy and the economy is not the stock market. As stock markets have fallen or stalled over past 12 months we have simultaneously witnessed strong job growth, strong population growth and the strongest rental demand in our lifetimes.

Some markets have been heavily inflated with cheap debt - think prime locations in New York, London or LA. We don´t think they are good value. The opportunities are in regular neighborhoods that elitist speculators stay away from. In other words, the places where you and your parents grew up. 

We buy and renovate concrete build, single family homes in middle class areas where regular young familes can afford to rent. They are close to good schools, shops and transportation. They have newer roofs, kitchens and fenced in backyards.

If you know where to look, there are ample opportunities to protect and grow your wealth through real estate. The easiest way to illustrate is to show you a summary of the properties we have recently purchased, renovated and sold turnkey to investors. These single family homes are all rented and the 8-10% rental returns are based on the actual net income after overheads. 


Want to read more about the homes above? 

Over the past few weeks, our marketing team has been busy putting together a 30 page brochure with very detailed information these 14 properties. Aside from detailed financials to show you that the returns really are this good, we have also included property descriptions and terrific "before and after" renovation photographs.

If you read this brochure and decide that you´d like to buy one or more similar rental properties, all you have to do is schedule a call with me. We have just started renovations on five more properties exactly like the ones above. 

Tampa Florida rental properties: Free 30 page brochure

We strongly encourage anybody interested in this concept and these types of high yielding single family homes to call us in advance. In our experience, the people who are most comfortable and successful in building rental portfolios are those who take their research seriously, who engage with us regularly and who build relationships on the ground.

A typical three bed single family home after renovations

Our full time job is purchasing and renovating single-family homes in Tampa Florida to a higher quality than other local landlords. As you can imagine, buying right and renovating right is very time consuming and we go the extra mile to provide items like fenced back yards, new roofs, modern kitchens and modern bathrooms. Demand for these types of properties is extremely high and they are easily rented. For example, we finished renovations on our last two properties after Christmas and they were rented by January 8th. 

If you are interested in having a conversation regarding the five homes we are currently preparing for resale, my advice is to download the 30 page brochure above and then schedule a call with me directly. Hope to hear from you soon and thanks again for reading! 

Colin Murphy

Click here to schedule a call

Kind Regards,

Colin Murphy

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Topics: tampa rental property, stock market, stable rental income

Tampa Florida Property Investors: Check out these major local trends

Posted by Colin Murphy on Dec 4, 2015 1:18:12 PM

We speak with local Tampa real estate investors all the time in our business. One issue which we hear again and again in networking events is that it is increasingly difficult to find good quality homes to purchase at the right price. 

Conversely, if you did a straw poll of tenants looking for good quality rental property in Tampa at a reasonable price, they would tell you the exact same thing. It is getting more and more difficult for regular people to find a nice home to rent. This is the niche we are working hard to exploit. 

Our full time job is purchasing and renovating single family homes in Tampa Florida to a higher quality than other local landlords. We go the extra mile to provide items like fenced back yards, new roofs, modern kitchens and modern bathrooms. Demand for these types of properties is extremely high and they are easily rented.    


Our opportunity lies in the fact that homeownership rates are at their lowest levels for a generation and rental occupancy rates have never been so high. There are many reasons why these conditions currently exist in Tampa Florida and many other parts of the USA. Here are a few of them:

- College debt burdens
- Higher utility costs
- Stagnant wages
- Desire to be more mobile in case of job relocation
- General lack of trust in banks & home ownership after previous downturn

The older generations also are surprisingly reporting many of the same sentiments. The desire of many to downsize after the downturn and budget for higher healthcare costs is converting huge number of over 55s into renters.


While these trends are undoubtedly unfortunate for many of those trapped in them, real estate investors are well placed to meet the demand being created for rental properties in what remains a very strong housing market. O
ur niche caters precisely to this space and anybody who takes the time to study and invest in the concept can achieve terrific long term capital growth and cashflow.   

Real estate may be local, but the big macro trends are what really matters in the long term. Today I´m going to discuss two of them in particular.

1. Home Ownership Trends
Consider the following: Firstly, home ownership is at its lowest rate in more than a generation and is widely expected to fall further. Secondly, population growth (both in Tampa Florida and the wider USA) is at an all time high. Thirdly, new construction is still a small fraction of what it was ten years ago. What does that combination tell you? It tells me that there are a lot of people looking to rent a shrinking supply of homes!

Just look how home ownership rates have been falling. When you combine this with a rising population and low levels of new construction, you are left with very fertile ground for landlords. 


These low home ownership rates are not just the result of younger Americans struggling to save for a down payment on a home. It is increasingly the result of middle-aged, higher income Americans choosing to rent. According to a recent Harvard study, families or married couples aged 45–64 accounted for twice the share of renter growth as people under the age of 35.

2. Millenials
If you go to any conference full of real estate professionals in America today, chances are that you will hear a lot of builders, realtors and city planners talking about "millenials".

What are they? In a nutshell, millenials are young people under the age of 35 who tend to be well educated and technologically savvy. According to the US Census, there are 80 million of them. 80 million!! Like every other generation before them (GI Generation, Baby Boomers, Generation X) they display distinctive economic, political and social traits which have profound impacts on the economy.  

To illustrate how important millenials are becoming, look no further than the graph below. 


Millenials attitude to real estate
At the moment Millenials love renting modern apartments in city centers near bars, restaurants, parks and fitness centers. They are the main reason so many of them are being built in Tampa and other major metropolitan areas right now.

However, despite the obvious demand, I´m not particularly keen on purchasing expensive downtown apartments in Tampa Florida with low rental returns. I am much more interested in what Millenials will be doing when they hit their late thirties and early forties.

While every generation thinks they are unique, some things are universal. As Millenials get married and start families, many of them will aspire to the exact same thing as their parents did: houses with gardens in the suburbs. The key difference is that this demographic tends to rent rather than buy, so the spike in city center apartment rentals they are provoking now is going to move onto the suburbs.


In conclusion, rental demand is already very high for the single family homes we are purchasing in the middle class suburbs of Tampa Florida. If recent home ownership stats and demographic trends are anything to go by, this trend is set to continue long term. In other words, this is a great time to build a rental portfolio and Torcana are perfectly placed to help. 

Next Steps
Over the next few weeks, I wil be publishing full details of the properties we are currently renovating in Tampa Florida. However I can confirm that the sales prices of these rent ready homes will range from $87,000 - $105,000 with estimated net rental returns of approx 9%.

We strongly encourage anybody interested in this concept and these types of properties to call us in advance. In our experience, the people who are most comfortable and successful in building rental portfolios are those who take their research seriously, who engage with us regularly and who build relationships on the ground. 

I´d like to invite all of our readers keen to speak to us about our forthcoming rent ready homes to click on the link below and schedule a call with us. It is a very simple piece of software that allows you to select a suitable time that is available on my calendar. (If it doesn´t work for you, just send an email to investments@torcana.com). 

Schedule a call with Colin Murphy

Finally, if you haven´t had a chance yet, please feel free to download our 14 page guide to buying in Tampa Florida. 

Click here for full information pack
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Topics: tampa property investment, tampa real estate investment, tampa rental property, tampa homeownership trends, tampa millenials

You could lose your home if property taxes are not paid. Follow these simple steps to avoid it.

Posted by Colin Murphy on Oct 5, 2015 6:08:40 PM

In the past couple of weeks, two clients of ours have had serious problems due to a failure to pay their property taxes on time. One of them lost a property at a foreclosure auction and the other came very close do doing so. In both cases, the amounts owed for quite minor (less than $10,000) and both owners would have had no problems paying them if they realized how serious the issue was. For that reason, I thought it would be useful to write a short blog on the importance of keeping on top of your US property tax obligations. 

Many of you will have accountants or property managers who pay these taxes and other fees on your behalf every year. However, you should always carefully read any letters received regarding your properties. Also, please don´t assume that everything will always go smoothly - even something minor like a change of address or personnel can result in several warnings passing unnoticed. 

What are property taxes?

As you may be aware, every type of building in the USA is subject to property taxes. They are usually payable annually in one instalment during the first quarter of each year. These local taxes are calculated by the County Tax Appraiser and are based on local services, amenities and average property values within the vicinity. In October each year an estimate of the current years’ property taxes is published on the County Tax Appraisers website. They must be paid by the following March and discounts are often offered for prompt payment.

Note: Please bear in mind that property tax is completely different to income tax (which is based in income earned rather than the value of the building). 

Is it easy to check what property taxes are owed?
Yes, it is very easy! All you need to do is find the website for your local tax appraiser. For example, owners in South Carolina could Google "York County Tax Appraiser" and owners in St. Petersburg (FL) could google "Pinellas County Tax Appraiser". 

If you are not sure which county your property is located in, then this website containing a full list of US Counties by State will help. Each tax appraisers website is slightly different, but it is generally quite easy to search by owner name, street name or Tax ID number. Most offer easy options to pay by credit card or Paypal. 

How can I refresh my memory on the important issues an investor needs to keep on top of?
We published a short 10 page guide a couple of years ago highlighting the most important steps in the purchase process, the running costs and your annual filing obligations. Whether you own just one property or a large portfolio, there should be some useful informaton in here for you.

guide to complex real estate

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