Monday, 20 September 2010

Charleston’s Best Places to Grab a Bite to Eat

The Wreck of the Richard & Charlene
Although settled in an old icehouse, this seafood restaurant has all the warm southern charm it needs.  The Wreck of the Richard & Charlene is one of Charleston’s local favorite food establishments.  As hurricane Hugo swept through back in 1989, it plowed over the same spot the restaurant now stands.  Directly in its path was The Richard & Charlene, a North Atlantic trawler.  As the winds and the water did their damage, the trawler was slammed back and forth into the neighboring dock.  This restaurant was named in memory of that stormy day.  If you want a true southern experience, this is the place to come.  To the citizens of Charleston’s, it truly is one of their prized gems. 

Gullah Cuisine
Charlotte & Frank are famous for their traditional Gullah cuisine.  The food became so popular while they were in the catering business that they decided to open up their own restaurant in 1997.  If you are not familiar with the term Gullah, it stems from a unique and rich heritage. The Gullah are African Americans who have settled into the Low Country region of<a href="”> Charleston, South Carolina </a> and down into Georgia.  When you come to Gullah Cuisine you will find a plethora of good ol’ country food.  Collard greens, okra soup, green beans, macaroni, succotash, cabbage, candied yams, barbequed chicken and of course, Charlotte’s famous fried chicken.  If you’re looking for Pork Chops, you’re also in for a treat.  Once you’ve eaten here, you’ll be coming back for more.

Cru Café
One of a Southerner’s favorite past time is sitting on the front porch enjoying a glass of sweet tea.  Why not come to Cru Café and do the same?  With both indoor and outdoor porch seating, you can enjoy Charleston’s food at its finest.  Cru Café is known for their upscale comfort food and indulging desserts.   Renowned Le Cordon Bleu Chef John Zucker opened Cru Café in 2002 and since Charleston has been in love with the place.  The café has won multiple awards for their catering crew and is ranked as a top eatery by locals and tourists.  Get a little taste of heaven while enjoying downtown Charleston and all it has to offer

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Changing times of Land Investments UK

Times seem to be changing in "Land Investments Uk" after the Kent Land Scams, Sussex Land Scams and London Land Scams, owe to the initiatives taken by the people of <b>Sussex Farmland</b>, that now companies have started refunding to the dissatisfied customers, which means, that if you are unhappy with your investment in Land you will be refunded your investment amount. There was a time when people of <b>Sussex Farmland</b> were afraid of scamsters and they were making money while being in the broiler rooms. As the idea of an investment thrills the investors' mind with lots of returns, scamster were chasing the concept to flourish their business.

Companies now offer Land at competitive prices and are ready to refund the full amount in case the customer is dissatisfied and doesn't find it a good investment avenue.

Furthermore, as awareness is increasing with the "Land Investments UK" people are getting an idea what to buy and where to buy from, scamsters are basically getting chaffed away.

Government also seems to be in the process of taking this whole process into consideration as this concept has been brought up into the Parliament of UK.

But as the expansion of London continues the buying may not stop and land continues to provide an investment opportunity.

Saturday, 18 September 2010

Changes afoot in the broader real estate market

It's finally happening. The recent repeated warnings of economists and industry watchers predicted the housing boom of the 2000s is winding down. The recent news is full of reports about slowing existing home sales, rising inventories, longer selling cycles and lower asking prices.

So if the housing market finally appears to be cooling down, commercial real estate investors should take notice. Here’s why: There's a strong connection between the residential boom and the health of the four key commercial sectors — retail, multifamily, office and industrial. Soaring home prices and low interest rates have enabled millions of homeowners to take out home equity loans and cash-out refinancing and the resulting wealth effect has percolated through the economy.

The big beneficiary was retail real estate, where owners of malls and shopping centers have seen valuations skyrocket, along with retail receipts. The boom also has helped drive growth in industrial construction, particularly on the West Coast, to handle incoming Chinese goods. It has also bolstered office occupancies in hot residential markets as the mortgage business expanded. Finally, the housing boom has whipsawed multifamily properties, first crushing occupancy rates as renters became owners and more recently boosting occupancy rates as the condo craze cull units from the rental inventory.

Changes are afoot. Existing home sales plummeted 2.7% last month — more than double the 1.1% that analysts predicted in September — and 2.87 million unsold homes are now on the market (which represents the largest unsold inventory since 1986, reports the National Association of Realtors). Even David Lereah, the chief economist at the National Association of Realtors (NAR), stated recently that the housing sector “has passed its peak.”

With home-equity cash running dry, homeowners will reign in retail spending next year.

This could materially impact retail REITs, particularly those with large holdings in pricey markets such as Southern California and the Northeastern cities. According to PricewaterhouseCoopers’ most recent Emerging Trends In Real Estate 2006 report, the only factor that will keep consumer spending afloat are wage increases. However, energy costs and rising mortgage rates could zip pocketbooks. Retail has all the risk.

After retail, multifamily is the most directly affected sector in the housing slowdown. And, in this case, the news could be good. With apartments dropping out of the rental pool and more renters priced out of the purchase market, national apartment vacancies dropped from 6.4% to 5.8% between midyear and the end of September, the largest quarterly drop that Manhattan-based Reis Inc. has measured since it began tracking the apartment market in 1999.

There is one caveat, however: Overhanging the rental market is a potential glut of condos. If converters fail to sell recently converted condominium units and throw them back into the rental market, occupancy rates could fall again.

A housing slowdown could also ripple through pockets of the office market, especially those where residential mortgage firms have aggressively staffed up in recent years. No market exemplifies this trend better than Orange County, Calif., where heated demand to buy homes and refinance existing loans has fueled a leasing binge on behalf of these firms.

This won’t help, either. Roughly 37% of all recent homebuyers in Orange County are using interest-only mortgages (requiring the first few years of the mortgage to be just interest payments). Orange County is the third most expensive housing market in the country after Los Angeles and San Diego, so it’s obvious why so many new owners are resorting to creative financing methods.

Much like the office market, the industrial market is also exposed to ripple effects from a housing slowdown. The difference here is that any negative effects will be delayed for several months because the industrial market tends to move at a much slower pace than its peers. To Bob Bach, national director of research at Grubb & Ellis, the industrial market is possibly the least exposed property class for one simple reason — imports.

Of course, the biggest threat to commercial real estate would be a national recession, sparked by a slowdown in retail sales (consumer spending now accounts for roughly 72% of GDP). The gloom scenario is a downward spiral. Consumer spending falters because the cash-out boom ends and the situation is made worse by rising fuel prices and higher interest rates on all consumer debt. That triggers falling profits, layoffs, deeper cutbacks in consumer spending…

That suggests parallels to the bust — an economic watershed that the real estate industry misjudged.

On the other hand, the housing market is not the same as the equities market—for all the paper gains and stories of speculation, residential housing is illiquid and most homeowners are invested in keeping a roof over their heads. Indeed, the other news has been a surging stock market, strong durable goods orders and a rebound in consumer confidence. Stay tuned for the next NAR home sales report.

Good luck to you,

Friday, 17 September 2010

Ceiling Fans - Are you a Fan?

You might have seen them in restaurants and hotels: those large fans, fixed to the ceiling, that rotate and keep the whole room cool. But have you ever considered getting one for your home?

Maybe you thought that a ceiling fan would be too expensive, or too difficult to install, but that’s a common misconception. Really, ceiling fans are competitively priced with the best freestanding fans, and installing one is about as difficult as putting in a new light fitting. Additionally, you might not have realised that ceiling fans are also useful in winter: as warm air rises, they can blow it down again, thus saving on heating bills.

The average home ceiling fan rotates about three times per second on the highest speed setting, for safety reasons. To rotate faster, as industrial fans do, the fan would need to have sharper blades, which poses an obvious health hazard. Still, three complete rotations per minute isn’t that slow, and larger fans especially can really make their presence felt.

One thing to consider, if you’re thinking of getting a ceiling fan, is getting one with a light integrated. As the fan will be taking up a space on your ceiling where there used to be a light fitting, it can be good to have a light as part of the fan, so the room doesn’t end up dark. Don’t worry about having to leave the fan on just to use the light, as they can be turned on and off separately.

Another common fear with ceiling fans is that they might fall down and injure someone. However, if you think about it, have you ever seen a lamp fall down from the ceiling? It’s very unlikely that you have, because things that are fixed to ceilings have to be fixed up to certain safety standards, with failsafe mechanisms to keep them from falling down even if one of the connections breaks.

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Cedar Village – Apartments of Choice

There are rumors and opinions that the Las Vegas real estate market is heading for a crash. I beg to differ. I agree that the rise in rates has not been as high lately as it was in the dizzy days of the past two years, but that is because certain projects were overpriced and if there is a drop, it is only making the prices more realistic. Investors in Las Vegas properties will still make a decent profit because the number of people coming to Las Vegas is only increasing everyday. Las Vegas real estate investors should expect a lower rate of appreciation compared to the last two years.

Nevada has shown the fastest population growth in the nation for the past eighteen years and in 2005, about 7,200 people moved here every month making that almost 86,500 in just one year. The number of tourists in 2005 touched a staggering 40 million.

The economy is booming here because of tourism and the construction jobs available. A growing economy and population will continue to drive real estate prices upward. Inflated prices have created a demand for housing under $200,000 and there are over thirty high-rise condominium projects currently under construction. This has also led to the conversion of 15,000 apartment units to condos. Out-of-town buyers will pick up most of these condominium units that range in price from the low $200,000s to several million dollars.

The high-rise development has not had a direct affect on the local housing market. The strong economy has seen to that but the dramatic increase in price of starter homes has resulted in many young families and retirees seeking rented accommodation. The city has a growing labor force of construction workers and workers to fill new positions in the growing entertainment and hospitality industry. Most of them seek rental housing at least to begin with. There is an acute shortage of apartments in Las Vegas and apartment demand is expected to increase rapidly. One of the most incredible rises in the real estate market was the 346-unit apartment complex that sold for $12,750,000 in April of 2004 and then resold in January for $40,500,000.

There is very little land available for development in the central part of Las Vegas and if you are working in the city, you may not want to move too far out. In east central Las Vegas near Stewart Avenue and Mojave Road, you could find just what you are looking for in Cedar Village Apartments on East Cedar Avenue. This is a gated community with a gated entrance having remote controlled access. Security is further enhanced by the presence of foot patrol. The apartments range from one to three bedrooms and have large eat in kitchen, well equipped with dishwashers etc. The rooms are fitted with vertical blinds, air conditioning and free satellite TV. Most have either a balcony or a patio and there is laundry facility as well.

Common facilities include playgrounds, a swimming pool and hot tub and spa and there is convenient public transport as well. The only snag for animal lovers is that they have a no pets policy. Nevada Housing Division recommends the complex and assists in finances.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Categories of Real Estate Investment

Below are ten categories of real estate, and different ways to invest in them. The best one for you is something only you can decide, according to your particular needs. To help you do that, I list a couple good points and bad points for each type.

 1. Renting single family homes. Good points: An easier way to get started, and good long term return on investment. Bad points: Being a landlord isn't much fun, and you typically wait a long time for the big pay-off. You also lose all your income when a house is vacant.

 2. Fixer-uppers. Good points: Fast return on your investment, and it can be more creative work. Bad points: More risk (many unpredictables), and you get taxed heavily on the gain.

 3. Low income housing. Good points: Similar to any other rentals, but with higher cash flow. Bad points: Similar to any other rentals, but with more repairs and tenant problems.

 4. Selling rent-to-own houses. Good points: If you buy, then sell on a rent-to-own arrangement, you get higher rent, and the buyer is usually responsible for maintenance. Bad points: Bookkeeping can be tricky, and most tenants don't complete the purchase (this can be an advantage too, but it does mean more work for you).

 5. Commercial properties. Good points: Multi-year triple-net leases mean little management and high returns. Bad points: A tough market to break into, and you can lose income on vacant storefronts for a year at a time.

 6. Land, split and resold. Good points: Simpler than some real estate investments, with the possibility of great profits. Bad points: It can be a slow process, and you have expenses, but no cash flow while you wait.

 7. Boarding houses. Good points: You'll generate more cash flow renting a house by the room, especially in a college town. Bad points: You'll generate more headaches renting a house by the room, especially in a college town.

 8. Invest cash, sell with terms. Good points: A high rate of return is possible by paying cash to get a good price, and selling on easy terms to get a high price AND high interest. Bad points: You need a lot of cash, and you tie up your capital for a long time.

 9. Invest, live in it, sell it. Good points: The tax law lets you fix it up, and sell it for a big tax-free profit after two years (if you live in it), then start the process again. Bad points: You may become attached to your investment, and you'll have to move a lot.

 10. Pure speculation. Good points: You can make large profits buying in the path of growth and holding until values rise, and it is a low-management investment. Bad points: Growth in value isn't always predictable, you have expenses with no income while you're waiting, and transaction costs can eat much of the profits.

There are many ways to invest in real estate. These ten are just to get you thinking about what is possible, and what type of investing suits your personality. Once you figure that out, you may want to look into other categories of real estate investment.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Carefully Consider the Real Cost of that Fixer Upper

If you watch television, you have seen the shows that turn dumps into pristine dream homes. Fixer uppers can return good profits, but be careful when calculating repair costs.

Carefully Consider the Real Cost of that Fixer Upper

Flip it! Ah, the American Dream to the road to riches. The goal is to find a decent to nice neighborhood with one home that can charitably be considered to have a lot of “character.” Translating this infamous real estate term, the place is a dump and needs lots of work. Homebuyers can be suckers for these homes. They tend to see a low price when compared to the rest of the neighborhood and think they can make a killing when they fix the home up. This can, in fact, happen, but you must be very calculating.

Can you make a ton of money flipping fixer uppers? Yes and no. If you can do the work yourself, the profit potential is much better. If you must hire contractors to do it, you really need to take a moment and break out the calculator. Many people fail to do so and regret getting into a fixer upper.

One of the place people make mistakes with fixer uppers is failing to consider code requirements. The “code” refers to regulations requiring the use of certain materials and products in a home. Many older homes are not in compliance with code requirements, but often do not have to be as long as nothing is changed. If changes are made, however, the code can become a problem.

For instance, assume you make some change to heating or air conditioning in the home. In an older home, you may be forced to also update all of the electrical wiring. The same goes for plumbing where older pipes may need to be replaced with new ones to meet code. Obviously, these can be expensive fixes and run your cost in upgrading the home through the roof. What was one a tremendous real estate deal quickly becomes a money pit.

Flipping a home that needs some cosmetic repairs can be very profitable. If you do not understand the full costs associated with the upgrade, however, it can become an emotional and financial nightmare.

Monday, 13 September 2010

Capital gains

When you buy a  <a href= >real estate in Maryland </a>and sell it for a higher price, the difference between the selling price and the purchase price is known as capital gain. In other words, profit from selling a property for a higher price is the capital gain on the property. Capital gains may be short-term or long-term.

Short-term gain: If you sell your  <a href= >property </a> within 3 years after purchasing it, the gain is called short-term capital gain.
Long-term gain: When a gain occurs from selling a property after 3 years of its purchase, it is a long-term capital gain.

Calculation of capital gain: Capital gain is the difference between the selling price or the transfer price and the total cost of acquisition of the property.

The cost of acquisition includes purchase price of the property, cost incurred in registration of the real estate property in Maryland, its repairs, storage expenses, etc. In short, all the expenses of capital nature are part of the cost of acquisition.

The transfer price includes commission or brokerage paid by the seller, registration fees, cost of stamp papers, traveling and litigation expenses incurred while transferring the  <a href= >real estate property in Maryland. </a>

Capital gains tax:
Capital gains tax is charged on the gain that you make on selling a real estate for profit in Maryland. It is calculated by subtracting the cost of acquisition of real estate from the transfer price of the property. The difference is added to your taxable income and charged according to the tax bracket you fall into.

The tax rates for short-term and long-term capital gains are often different. You must be alert of the tax structure of Maryland to know what tax bracket you fall under and what tax rates are applicable for your capital gains. 

Criticism: It is often argued that capital gains tax results in double payment of taxes. The property’s value that is sold might have been included in the value of assets sold by you while calculating wealth tax. Thus, including capital gain in the income tax statement in the same year may result in double-payment of taxes.

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Sunday, 12 September 2010

Canadian Realty Holding Its Own

The annual winter lull in the real estate market means that the time is good for prospective buyers who like to take their time. With Canadian unemployment at a 33 year low, the realty market looks like holding strong.

It is difficult for many of us Canadians to accept that while the US realty market may be floundering, the Canadian market is steady. In fact, due to the strength of our dollar and the weakness of the US dollar against International currencies, many Americans are actually buying into Canada to preserve their funds.

While coastal and lake areas would seem an obvious choice for American speculation, many are buying properties simply as an investment project. Renting a condo is one of the easiest way to make money and have the property 'buy itself', and condo sales everywhere have jumped as people are realizing the enjoyment of life without maintenance!

Condominium prices in Ottawa have been climbing upwards all year, with an increase of 7% over this time last year. The strong job market was partly the cause of this. The increase in national employment has marked the 15th. straight year of national employment growth.

In Calgary, condos are also a good investment and offer a reasonable price range if you are trying to get started on the property ladder. The increased inventory of all properties has slowed the market at the moment, so now is a good time to look for a condo. Some builders have even dropped their prices, so brand new ones can be snapped up by the shrewd buyer.

Despite the changes emanating from the famous revisions to the oil royalty revenue, Calgary has a strong economy and has seen a large population increase. According to one national forecast, it is poised to experience moderate growth and a sustainable real estate market though 2008.

Average house prices in Calgary are set to increase by 4% and in a slower moving market, first time buyers may be encouraged to put their toe in the water.

One of the mandatory requirements for a mortgage for first time (or any other) buyers is a good credit rating. If there is no credit rating recorded against you then apply to a bank for a credit card. They may require you to deposit $500.00 or $300.00 and then you will be required to leave that untouched in the bank as security.

By using your card every month, and paying it every month - on time, you will begin to build up a good credit history. Of course, other data is required by a lender. You will need tax forms showing your income and a letter on headed notepaper from your company stating your earnings.

It is always advisable to get "pre-approved" before looking for a house. This means you sort out the finance before checking out the realty. If you proceed in this order, you will know if you have to save more money for the down-payment, or which price range you can look in when choosing.

Things often 'heat up' in the housing market in the spring, so now may be a good time to invest in some Canadian realty.

Saturday, 11 September 2010

Can You Spot The $596,000 Difference In Identical Homes?

Can you spot the difference? Let me give you a hint; it’s not the landscaping. It’s not the location. It’s not the gold plated fixtures in the master bathroom. In fact, it’s not anything you’d ever notice with the naked eye. The $596,000 differences are in how much the buyers unwittingly may pay for this home if they aren’t careful.

 I recently met with a gentleman who was referred to me by his financial advisor to receive some consulting on how to best structure his mortgage in preparation for retirement. He wanted to retire in 13 years and he had refinanced his mortgage last year to a 15-year fixed rate loan, taking advantage of the low rates, and wants to own his home free and clear right about the time he retires.

 Most home owners have the misconception that the wisest method to accelerate the pay-off of their home is to simply pay extra principal payments to their mortgage by utilizing a 15-year mortgage, bi-weekly payments or even by adding an extra $100 each monthly. In actuality, none of these methods usually proved to be the wisest method to accomplish a “free and clear” home.

 You can accumulate sufficient cash in a conservative tax-deferred mortgage acceleration plan to pay off a home just as soon or sooner than utilizing the methods described above. In addition you can accomplish the goal of paying off your home just as soon (typically in less than half the time) plus you will have the following advantages: 1) Maintain flexibility, liquidity and safety of principal by allowing the equity to grow in a separate side fund where it is accessible in case of emergency, temporary disability, or unemployment. 2) Maximize the only real tax-deductible interest allowed by tax reform by keeping the loan balance as high as possible until you have the cash accumulated to pay off your home in a lump sum.

 Let’s look at our example above…by strategically refinancing and taking advantage of the tax deductibility of mortgage interest we were able to accumulate enough money (at only 6% rate of return) to pay off the home in 8-1/2 years instead of 14 years. If he continued to invest his monthly saving he would have $596,000 more than the balance his mortgage at the time he was ready to retire. Don’t be fooled into giving up the liquidity, safety and potential rate of return on your money by giving it to your mortgage company. Get the facts and structure your mortgage to give you the greatest advantage from the start.

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Thank you!

Friday, 10 September 2010

Can You Make Milions in Real Estate?

There are several shows on television that feature people buying properties and then flipping them after minor repairs. Many people make a profit doing this, but if you really pay attention, you will often only see what the house could make the owners. The shows often leave out when and for how much the home sold for.

Many of the richest people in the world started out in real estate. That's why real estate investment is so popular. But what are some essential things you should know before jumping into real estate?

1. Know how market timing works.

This means that you need to not only research how market cycles work, but that you need to sit back and watch them for yourself. The fact is that markets go up and markets go down. A lot of successful investors aren't looking for a three-month buy and flip. They buy when the market is low and sell when it is high.

2. Know how to analyze real estate numbers.

You have to be able to identify all of the factors that are affecting your profit.

There are four major parts of real estate investing: cash flow, appreciation, loan reduction and tax benefits. You need to understand how the four factors work together to produce a rate of return.

Real estate isn't simply making you a profit when it appreciates. And it isn't necessarily loosing money when it depreciates.

3. Know the economics in your area.

You have to look beyond the simple growth of the neighborhood you are investing in to the overall health of the city, state and country. For example, if interest rates are rising, you need to understand that borrowers are being cut out of the market.

The six aspects of economics you must understand are: mortgage interest rates, affordability indices, supply and demand, demographic information, commercial real estate and the job market.

It helps potential investors to take classes in both macro and micro economics. Macro will help the investor understand the large forces that impact real estate, such as recessions, national interest rates, war and demographics. Micro will look at individual sectors and focus on the local real estate market, such as local disasters, local recessions, unemployment rates, supply and demand, new housing starts, housing for sale and types of vacancies.

There is a lot that you need to know before you jump into being a real estate investor. Yes, if you are just buying and fixing up and selling one house, you have the potential to make money. But if you plan to do this as an investment, you need to obtain the necessary education. Otherwise, you are gambling with your money.

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Can A Lender Profit From A Short Sale?

With the escalating number of foreclosure happening all around the nation, homeowners from around the United States are looking for effective ways to avoid this whole fixating situation. Moreover, it is not just the homeowners who are affected by this trying situation of foreclosure, but also the lender organization has to bear a lot of trouble due to these unfortunate, yet in most cases inevitable, situation. Although the consciousness is still not so overtly acclaimed as yet, there are ways to combat situations like these, an assured one of which is short sale of the property under question.

Short sale in the real estate industry refers to a situation where the homeowner sells of one’s property at a reduced rate (that is, less than the loan balance) in order to make for the mortgage upon the agreement of the lender. Like this, the homeowner can avoid foreclosure in its entirety and subsequently save up some money if the deal is good enough. However, it is not only the homeowner who is profited by short sale of property but also the lender entity. The lender can directly make up for its losses or even when the short sale does not keep up to its due balance, save a lot of money and labor, which conducting a property foreclosure would have otherwise induced.

Real estate foreclosure sales and auctions are indeed trying and tiring! In most cases, the lender entity tries to make all sorts of arrangements for a successful closing of the property deal, but to its utter disappointment, suffers only irrecoverable loss due to insufficient bids in the auction. At certain occasions, the property might not sell at all and the lender has to suffer major losses with the property left to no use of its own. It is, therefore, why the lender entity easily gives in to a minimum loss in cash with approving the short sale of the property under consideration.

So how can a lender get profited by property short sale? In general terms, the lender is free from any risk due to the potential un-saleability of the concerned property, which can be made sure with short sale. The loss thereby incurred is minimal and can be recovered with ease by the lender, whereas a virtually unsalable property is of no use to the lender. The entire procedure of foreclosure is also very demanding both in terms of money, time and labor, and by approving to the short sale of the property under question, the lender can ensure that it saves all of that.

Along with the easily dealing of the otherwise expensive and lengthy foreclosure procedure, the lender saves excessive loss of money. Since foreclosure auctions induce far less property price in comparison to the industry standards, short sale is an easy option, which ensures a respectable and, of course, a predictable property evaluation. The lender even does not have to bother with the refurbishment and repair of the property before the auction. No marketing, no selling - short sale maximizes profit and efficiency in all possible ways! And with the best loss mitigation negotiating and short sale negotiating service like, things are even easier.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Can a Foreigner Own Property in Thailand?

Retirement in Thailand is the dream of many foreigners and mine too.  I plan to settle down there in about two years and have been checking out the rules for acquiring property in the land of smiles.

The easiest solution for a foreigner (farang) is to buy a condominium.  There is a percentage requirement as to the total number of farang and Thais in the condo complex.

Foreign land ownership is forbidden in Thailand.  So, the best that a farang can do is to lease the land and own the house.  The lease is good for 30 years and beyond that is anyone’s guess.  Some web sites say you can get an additional 30 years and other sites say that there is no guarantee.

Another option is to incorporate yourself as some sort of company and lease the property back to yourself as an individual. This is in the gray area of Thai law and one that I wouldn’t use.  I have friends that have done this and so far it is Ok but I worry about the future.

Lastly is something called a usufruct.  Googling this will probably give you more information and a better explanation than I can provide.  All I know is that is the option that a lawyer recommended to me and I will pursue further on my next trip to Thailand.  He claims it is similar to a lease but has some better advantages.  He will have to convince me. 

Regardless, it will be the lease or the usufruct.  Either one should allow me to have a place in Thailand until the day I die or whatever happens to the property after that I really don’t care about.

There is one final solution that I highly DON’T recommend.  You can place the property in your Thai wife or girlfriend’s name.  She will then own the property outright.  There is a minor technicality that she has to prove that she provided all the funds for the real estate – but that is an easy lie to cover.  The problem with this solution is that since she is the owner, she can do whatever she wants with the property.  You could take a two week vacation and come back and find that your house has been sold and your honey is gone.  This is definitely not advised.

Check with your lawyer and find the way to purchase/lease property for your retirement.  While you have your lawyer’s ear, check on pre-nuptial agreements and an enforceable will.  Don’t conduct any transaction of this nature without the advice of a lawyer.

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Calling a Lawyer Should Be a Private Home Sellers First Move

You are selling your own home because you think you’re up to the task, that it can’t be that difficult? You’re right of course; however you want to make sure you abide by some basic common sense guidelines to help ensure your success. It’s not all about putting a sign on the lawn and an advert in the paper.

Your first step should be calling a lawyer. If you don’t have one you will need to find one. A good bet is to get a referral from friends or family. A lawyer at this stage of your sale will give you all the legal information you need to enter into the sale with a confidence that would be lacking otherwise. Your lawyer can do a title search on your home to make sure it’s free of encumbrances that may only turn up on closing i.e. an encroachment. Do you have an up to date survey? These can be deal killers at the last minute you want to avoid. You’ll need a search done anyway to close your sale.

Lawyers can also advise you on any new by-laws or regulations you should be aware of for your home and area. Every jurisdiction seems to have rules that need to be followed when preparing an offer to purchase form. A lawyer can make sure these special clauses are written into your offer to purchase form. Have your lawyer provide you with copies of the offer to purchase in hard copy format and also on disk so you can print them off your home PC when needed. Ask your lawyer how he would prefer to see your offer set up.

Ask your lawyer to give you any information you will need to make the closing of your sale timely and without any surprises. If there is anything that will hold up or quash your deal you want advance notice so you can take care of the problem now. Count on being charged for your lawyers’ services but it’s the old adage pay me now or pay me later.

Ask your lawyer to give you some insight into your mortgage situation. He can give you details and options based on your current loan that perhaps will help your sale. At the very least the lawyer can give you questions to ask at your lending institution i.e. is your mortgage assumable? If the interest rate and terms are attractive the purchaser may want to assume your current mortgage. All good stuff to know in advance of your sale. Likewise your mortgage may need to be removed so the purchaser can arrange their own financing. What are the ramifications with this, will it be expensive to remove?

When you recruit a real estate agent to help you sell your home, the good ones know all this information in advance. Any information they don’t have that can create problems generally surfaces at closing thanks to the lawyers. Your agent acts in your best interests along with your lawyer to sort out these problems at closing and many issues are usually dealt with to either parties’ satisfaction one way or another.

Not having an agent working for you means your chances of having a problem sometime during the process of trading your real estate is a real probability. The best way to mitigate your chances of potential headaches is to spend the money up front for a legal professional to sort through the landmines before you step on one and your deal disintegrates at the worst possible time. You’ll be investing a great deal of time selling your home. Make sure you are prepared. It is fairly simple to sell your own home. Closing that sale cleanly is another matter entirely.

Monday, 6 September 2010

California Real Estate - Appreciation on Steroids

For the last five years, owners of California real estate have been hitting the ball out of the appreciation ballpark. Yes, a real estate market on steroids.


California is heavily populated from north to south along the coastline, but they state offers significantly different ecologies. In Northern California, one is much more likely to see signs of the four seasons, get cold temperatures and more historic feel in locations such as San Francisco. Southern California, on the other hand, has an extremely moderate climate with temperatures rarely dipping below 60 degrees even in the winter. Rainfall is also scant with San Diego receiving roughly 11 inches a year. If you are considering moving to California, there are two constants throughout the state.


So many people have moved to the state that traffic can be a real issue even on weekends. Los Angles traffic is legendary, but San Francisco and San Diego have their own congestion problems.


Earthquakes are a constant throughout the state as the San Andres Fault bisects much of the state. Earthquakes happen all of the time, but they are typically very small. If you live in California for more than a month, you won’t even notice them.

Beaches, Sun and Culture

There are serious benefits to living in California. Foremost, of course, are the beaches. If the thought of spending weekends and evenings on the beach appeals to you, this is the place. You’ll pay a premium for it, but there is nothing like it. For example, the temperature in San Diego on October 5, 2005, the day I am writing this, is 79 degrees!   

California Real Estate

California is an incredible place to live and real estate prices reflect it. Single-family home prices average as follows for the three major metropolitan areas - $620,000 for San Diego, $1,300,000 for central San Francisco and $750,000 for central Los Angeles. As a general rule, the closer the home is to the ocean, the more it will cost.

As shocking as the prices are, the rate of appreciation is downright impossible to believe. In the last 12 months, California real estate has appreciated over 25 percent. For a 500,000 home, that is a gain of $125,000 in 12 months. Steroids indeed!

Real estate is all about location, location, location. While this is certainly a cliché, there is no doubt it is true in California.

Sunday, 5 September 2010

California Real Estate – Appreciation on Steroids

For the last five years, owners of California real estate have been hitting the ball out of the appreciation ballpark. Yes, a real estate market on steroids.


California is heavily populated from north to south along the coastline, but they state offers significantly different ecologies. In Northern California, one is much more likely to see signs of the four seasons, get cold temperatures and more historic feel in locations such as San Francisco. Southern California, on the other hand, has an extremely moderate climate with temperatures rarely dipping below 60 degrees even in the winter. Rainfall is also scant with San Diego receiving roughly 11 inches a year. If you are considering moving to California, there are two constants throughout the state.


So many people have moved to the state that traffic can be a real issue even on weekends. Los Angles traffic is legendary, but San Francisco and San Diego have their own congestion problems.


Earthquakes are a constant throughout the state as the San Andres Fault bisects much of the state. Earthquakes happen all of the time, but they are typically very small. If you live in California for more than a month, you won’t even notice them.

Beaches, Sun and Culture

There are serious benefits to living in California. Foremost, of course, are the beaches. If the thought of spending weekends and evenings on the beach appeals to you, this is the place. You’ll pay a premium for it, but there is nothing like it. For example, the temperature in San Diego on October 5, 2005, the day I am writing this, is 79 degrees!   

California Real Estate

California is an incredible place to live and real estate prices reflect it. Single-family home prices average as follows for the three major metropolitan areas - $620,000 for San Diego, $1,300,000 for central San Francisco and $750,000 for central Los Angeles. As a general rule, the closer the home is to the ocean, the more it will cost.

As shocking as the prices are, the rate of appreciation is downright impossible to believe. In the last 12 months, California real estate has appreciated over 25 percent. For a 500,000 home, that is a gain of $125,000 in 12 months. Steroids indeed!

Real estate is all about location, location, location. While this is certainly a cliché, there is no doubt it is true in California.

Saturday, 4 September 2010

Buying Your First Home is a Big Decision

Buying a home is one of the greatest investments you will ever make. The best -- and least stressful -- way to purchase a home is to be well educated throughout the process.

Before you even start looking for a house to buy, you need to review your financial situation. This will let you know how much of a down payment you can afford and how large a monthly mortgage payment you can handle. Lenders will look at the ration of how much you make to how much you owe. Most will require that your monthly housing costs remain under 28% of your total monthly income and that your total debt is less than 36% of your monthly income.

But you should look at what fits into your budget, not what the lender says you can afford. If you are currently making a rent payment of $1200 a month and barely getting by, how could you expect a mortgage of that size with the added insurance and maintenance costs of owning a home? You have to go with what works for your budget and finances. Remember, you can always work your way up to a larger home over time.

Once you have determined how much home you can afford, you need to check on your credit report and score. Lenders will rely heavily on your credit score when deciding whether or not to lend to you. It will also help decide how much interest you will pay. Your credit score is determined by the information in your credit file. If something is incorrect, your score will be affected.

Your score is made up of your payment history, your outstanding debts and how often you apply for credit. Most lenders will use your FICO score. If you have a score of over 700, you should have no problem finding financing.

The best way to improve your credit score is to pay your bills on time. You can also pay off your credit card debt and hold off from applying for new credit to raise your score.

It is best to review your report to make sure it is accurate well in advance. It may take time to clear up any errors before you apply for a mortgage.

In today's real estate market, sellers like to work with buyers who are pre-approved for a mortgage. Pre-approval means that you have submitted a complete loan application and that the lender has verified your information, checked your credit and determined how much mortgage you can borrow. When you are preapproved, the lender is saying that you can borrow a certain dollar amount.

With pre-approval, the seller knows you have financial backing and you know exactly how much you can spend. This keeps you from a lot of stress of worrying if you will be approved for a mortgage for your dream home. You already know what you can afford.

Take the time to prepare to buy a home before you even start looking, it will save you a lot of stress and make the process much easier.

Friday, 3 September 2010

Buying Your First Home in Sarasota Real Estate

Wanting to buy a home in Sarasota real estate? If yes, this is the biggest decision one could ever make, so you have to be careful and alert.

Definitely, each of us want to have their very own home, so if you desire to buy one, you have to consider some factors needed in order to have the best home you want. Buying a home doesn’t mean you simply look for home and viola that’s it. There are certain things that you need to do and settle to make sure you could buy the home you want and need.

First of all, you need to apply for a mortgage in order to have the finances you need to purchase a home. Applying for a mortgage is not that easy, you need to make sure of course that you will be working with the right lender. So you need to make simple research in order to find the right lender. You have to contact few lenders and ask several important questions until you finally found the right lender that can provide you with the best loan.

If you work with a lender, you have to make sure that he/she will provide you with plenty of options and not let you focus on a particular one. You have to weigh the options given to you; understand each until you come up with the right one for your situation.

In applying for a mortgage, you need to sign up an application form, make sure to answer all the questions honestly and correctly. It is advisable to write legibly as well in order to avoid problem and misunderstanding.

First you will be having pre-qualified for a mortgage, but to not go on to the next step until you won’t be having pre-approved for a mortgage. As soon as you have been pre-approved, that is the time for you to move and start looking for home you want in Sarasota real estate.

Of course, before you actually look for home in the market, you have to decide the features you want and need in a home. Do you need a huge yard or small one will be better, how many rooms do you need and the likes.

If it is your first time in Sarasota real estate, you can work with a real estate agent. But take note, do not just work with a real estate agent, make sure that he/she is the right one for you. Take time in finding the right one, you can do this by asking for recommendation and contact few of the real estate agents and interview them until you will have the right one.

With the help of the real estate agent, you can soon find the home you desire in Sarasota real estate. But of course, you need to conduct home inspection before actually making an offer. If the home is in good condition, you and your agent can make an offer than close the deal.

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Buying Tips for France - Part 2

11. Buying land in France

Any purchase of a French property covering more than a hectare (2.47 acres) has to be referred to the Société d’Aménagement Foncier et d’Etablissement Rural (SAFER), a body which has the right to pre-empt the sale if it feels that the property should remain in agricultural use; the notaire handling the sale will notify SAFER of the impending sale. SAFER rarely exercises its right, but if it does object to the sale, any agreement is null and void, so prepare yourself for disappointment; you will however be entitled to the return of your deposit.

12. Buying French property near a listed building

If your dream home is near a listed building or site, there may be restrictions on the extent to which it can be altered or renovated (in some cases you may be told what materials and colours you can use). Check with the local Mairie. An organisation called Bâtiments de France is responsible for issuing and enforcing restrictions; each département has its own Architecte des Bâtiments de France, or ABF.

13. French property and planning permission

Planning permission (un permis de construire) is needed to make any external alterations to a French property. If you are planning to buy a French home and alter it in this way, ensure that a conditional clause (clause suspensive) is included in the preliminary sales contract (compromis de vente), stating that the purchase is subject to obtaining planning and building permission; this way, if your planning application is turned down, the sale becomes null and void and your deposit will be returned.

14. Buying a French home with a septic tank

Most homes in rural France have individual sewerage systems (fosse septique). Have an approved specialist carry out an inspection before you agree to buy, and get a cost estimate for any necessary works. According to French legislation, most homes in French village centres were supposed to be connected to mains drainage (tout à l’égout) by the end of 2005, with owners paying connection charges; check with the vendor whether this has happened, and if not, ask at the Mairie to find out if this applies to the property you are considering.

15. Owning a French property with a swimming pool

Installing a pool increases a property’s rental potential and letting rates; however, pools need regular cleaning and maintenance, which will add to the running costs of your French home. Planning permission is needed to install a pool of more than 20 square metres, and all new pools and existing pools in rented properties must have an approved safety system; all other pools will have to be fitted with the same by January 2006.

16. Building your own home in France

Buying a plot and having a home built to spec is popular with the French. If you want to follow their lead, you will need to obtain a certificat d’urbanisme (confirming that the land may be built on) and planning permission (un permis de construire). Be prepared to supervise the construction, or hire an architect to do it for you. Building costs vary from €500 to €1,500 per square metre, depending on design and build quality.

17. Buying a building plot in France

Known as terrains à bâtir or terrains constructibles, French building plots are usually 1,000 to 3,000 square metres, and cost between €10,000 and €40,000; naturally, prices vary according to location, and whether mains services are connected. They can be bought from estate agents, direct from the owner, or from builders (insist on separate contracts if you opt for a package deal from a builder).

18. Buying a French property off-plan

The advantages of buying a new home in a development that has yet to be built include price (off-plan properties are often cheaper than homes that are already built); brand-new fixtures, fittings, insulation, ventilation and heating systems; lower deposit and registration fees, and exemption from property tax (taxe foncière) for two years from January 1 following the completion date. New build homes are generally high on comfort, and low on maintenance ideal for DIY dunces, older folk, and those who value the lock-up and go aspect.

19. Buying a resale property in France

Buying a new (i.e. modern, as opposed to brand-new, yet to be built) home means you see exactly what you get. The value will depend on the build quality and design, the age of the property and how well it has been maintained (ask to see copies of invoices and details of any work carried out). Resale homes within mature developments may offer the benefits of well-established services and amenities.

20. Buying a French home for retirement

Older folk planning to retire to France should look carefully when purchasing a home, checking for proximity to services and amenities, public transport, shops, doctors and hospitals, and the availability of transport links back to the UK (you may be planning to retire permanently to France, but unforeseen circumstances can prompt a quick cross-Channel trip). A modern, low-maintenance home in an accessible town with good facilities might be a wise choice.

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Buying Tips for France - Part 1

1. Why buy a place in France?

Buying a French home is a major financial decision, so it’s important to be clear about your objectives. Are you looking to make an investment, or do you plan to relocate and work, set up a business, or even retire? If your purchase is a holiday home, will you make long weekend trips, or lengthier stays? Answering these questions will help identify the type of property best suited to your needs, and its ideal location.

2. Where to buy your French home

Obviously we’re big fans of the Languedoc, but France has 21 other regions too! France is a huge country boasting a wide variety of landscapes, several climatic zones and numerous micro-climates; narrowing down your search area is key, and clarifying your criteria will help. Joe Laredo’s “The Best Places to Buy a Home in France “(published by Survival Books, £11.95, is a good starting point. Note that plural on “Places…” – there are so many great spots in which to look, so keep a sense of perspective: you can’t visit them all. Why not try the Languedoc for starters?

3. The location of your French property

It’s been said a hundred times, but it’s worth repeating: location is all-important. You can renovate, restore, rebuild, modernize, extend and transform a house, but its location cannot be altered. Our advice is to plump for a property in reasonable condition in a popular, accessible area, rather than a dream home in a remote spot. You can always do some DIY to turn a modest home into a fabulous French pad, but no amount of cash will transform an isolated spot into anything else. Lost in France was a hit record – but you don’t want it to become Your Tune.

4. Buy your French home according to your life stage

For retirees, sunshine may be a “must”; being within walking distance of a doctor, a post office and a couple of shops could be very helpful in later years. Having neighbours nearby can provide a helping hand and some extra security for older folk. For young families planning to relocate to France, access to schools and leisure facilities will probably be important. When buying a French property, take into account your current needs - and also how they may evolve as years go by.

5. French property - what does it cost?

As a general rule of thumb, the closer you are to a major town or the coast, the higher prices will be. French property is at its cheapest in the countryside; city homes can cost two or three times as much. Property in chic resorts on the Mediterranean coast can cost as much as €3,100 per square metre, but Paris takes the biscuit at an average €4,385 per square metre. In some rural areas it is possible to buy an old home in need of extensive work for as little as €50,000, but budget at least the same again to make it habitable. For a family-sized home with several bedrooms, a garden and pool, allow upwards of €200,000, depending on the area.

6. French property price trends

Annual increases of up to 20% have been seen in the most popular areas of France since 2000. For Brits, French property still offers excellent value; prices are typically 35-60% of those in the UK, peaking where the demand for holiday homes is the strongest, i.e. the Atlantic and Mediterranean coasts and Alpine ski resorts. Check the prices of French property advertised online or in specialist magazines to see how they vary from one region to another.

7. Travelling to your French home

Before settling on your French property purchase, ask yourself: how long will it take to get there, door to door? Are there any direct travel options? How much are they, and how frequent, year round? Is travelling by car a possibility? There’s arguably little point buying a dream home in a highly inaccessible spot; more time travelling means less time relaxing, and you may have problems when it comes to selling on.

8. House hunting in France: try before you buy

Unless you know exactly what kind of French home you want, and precisely where it should be, it can be wise to rent a property. If time allows, give yourself the chance to experience an area, its inhabitants, weather, services, amenities and cost of living, throughout the year – or at least out of the high season. Spending a week’s summer holiday in a pretty French cottage is one thing; living in a damp, drafty old house in the height of winter is quite another.

9. French property types

Hunting for a home in France? You’re spoiled for choice, as France offers a wealth of property types, from older, period homes with charm to more recent constructions with all mod cons. A third option is a brand new, off-plan purchase (in other words, reserve a home within a development and then wait for it to be built; completion time is typically 12-18 months). If you prefer your French home to be made-to-measure, a maison individuelle can be built to your specific design.

10. Buying an old French home

For a French home with character, ripe for renovation, with land and maybe outbuildings, you will inevitably be looking at an older (pre-1945) property. Remember that renovation or modernisation costs are nearly always higher than estimated, and the price of many renovated properties does not reflect the time and money invested. Older buildings inevitably cost more to maintain. Still, what price the charm of vieilles pierres (old stones) and original features?

Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Buying Revolution


TO $567,500! This is up over $200K from the previous loan limit. This will allow for much better pricing than JUMBO loans up to $567,500.

Can you imagine a JUMBO scenario where the borrower doesn't need to show
any seasoned assets and only has to make a 3% down payment, -which can be money contributed from any family member AND their interest rate would be 5.625% on a 30yr?? (today's rate) This is almost a FULL point better than a JUBMO, non-conforming 30yr fixed!

UNREAL. .we will be seeing MANY more FHA loans in the following years to come.

Also to help BOTH Buyers and Sellers.  I have a special program that give the commission back to the buyer looking for any type of Real Estate.  Thats right, you find the property and I will write and negotiatie the contract and then see it through to the end.  North West RE will keep $2,500 and the rest will go to YOU!   for Sellers I have a Flat Fee listing for $2,500. You will get your property listed on the MLS and Full a Service, completely Marketed listing. Best of all you pay nothing till your home sell.

Feel free to call me with any questions.

Scott Doppke
Investing Realtor

Monday, 30 August 2010

Buying Rental Property - Avoid Seller's Tricks

Be careful when buying rental property. We stayed at a motel for a week one winter. The bill showed twice what it should have, but since I already paid the correct amount in cash, I thought nothing of it. When we noticed that the lobby and swimming pool were unheated, we thought it was frugality. Only a year later, when I read a news story about a new owner struggling to make the motel work, did I realize what was going on.

The owner had been planning to sell. To prepare, she was using the two most basic ways to inflate the appraised value: decrease expenses and increase reported income. By stopping repairs and quietly adding $100 in income every day, she may have shown $45,000 more net income for the year. At a .08 capitalization rate, that means the appraisal would come in $562,000 higher than it should have. Oops! The poor guy who overpaid!

Do you want to avoid a mistake like that when buying rental property? You need to watch for tricks like these. You also have to understand the basics of appraising income property.

It starts with the capitalization rate, or "cap rate." If investors in an area expect a return of 8% on assets, the cap rate is .08. Net income before debt service is divided by this to arrive at the value of a property. I explain this further in another article, but the primary point here is to remember that every dollar of extra income shown will increase the appraised value by $12.50 with a cap rate of .08, or by $10, if the cap rate is .10.

Sellers Dirty Tricks

If sellers of rental properties increase the net by honest means, then the property should sell for more. Unfortunately, there are many dishonest ways, both legal and fraudulent, that are sometimes used. Unlike sellers of houses, who may cover foundation cracks with plaster, the tricks used by sellers of income properties aren't about appearance. They are about income and expenses.

Income can be inflated by showing you the "pro forma," or projected income, instead of the actual rents collected. Ask for the actual figures, and check to see that none of the apartments listed as occupied are actually vacant. Also, be sure that none of the income is from one time events, like the sale of something.

Income from vending machines is a gray area. Smart investors subtract this from the net income before applying the cap rate, then add back the value of the machines themselves. If laundry machines make $6,000, for example, that would add $75,000 to the appraised value (.08 cap rate), if included. Since they are easily replaceable, adding the $10,000 replacement cost instead makes more sense.

Hiding expenses is the most common of seller's tricks. Paying for repairs off the books, or just avoiding necessary repairs for a year, can dramatically increase the net income. Demand an accounting of all expenditures. If a number in an expense category is suspicious, replace it with your own best guess.

Analyse each of the following, verifying the figures as much as possible, and substituting your own guesses if they are too suspect: vacancy rates, advertising, cleaning, maintenance, repairs, management fees, supplies, taxes, insurance, utilities, commissions, legal fees and any other expenses. This is how you make buying rental property safe.

Sunday, 29 August 2010

Buying Rental Properties - Some Tips

Buying rental properties can be a great way to build your wealth. However, as in most real estate investment, it is sometimes difficult to know if you've found a good deal - especially the first time. Here are some things to look for to be sure that rental is a great investment.

<P>1. Location. If traffic is heavier, rentals are easier to rent. A sign will often pull more response than an ad in the paper. If it is a nice locale, it will usually rent faster. This is also true of places close to amenities.

<P>2. Numbers. Run the numbers. Get every last expense figured into your calculations, and be sure that you will have positive cash flow from the start.

<P>3. High home prices. Look in towns with high home prices, as this creates rental demand. What do people do when they can't afford to buy? They rent.

<P>4. Low maintenance buildings. Avoid cedar-shake roofs, and wood-sided buildings. Look beyond current expenses to how much maintenance the building will need. Low maintenance means less headaches and more profits.

<P>5. Good rental history. Ask to see the rental history. Note how long residents are staying on average, and how well they pay on time.

<P>6. Below market rents. Buying rental properties with below-market rents means you get to raise rents. Raising rents means you imediately raise the value, because rental property values are based on income.

<P>7. Complies with zoning and fire codes. Have it inspected, and ask local officials if there are any problems.

<P>8. Less than 20 years old. This is somewhat arbitrary, but if you limit your search to newer buildings, you will be less likely to have building code and maintenance problems.

<P>9.Owner/manager that is out of state. These properties are often the best deals, because it is tough to manage a property from far away. An out of state seller is often more concerned with a quick sale than a high price.

<P>10. Neighborhood is stable or improving. Stable is okay, but if you can buy in a neighborhood that is improving, you'll rent the units more easily, and therefore get automatic appreciation in value with time.

Saturday, 28 August 2010

Buying Real Estate That's Not For Sale

Buying real estate can start with a look in the newspaper, a visit to a broker, or a search online. These are all good ways to find your next investment property. You're looking at the same properties as every other investor, of course, so it's not always easy to beat the competition to a great buy.

A better way to find good real estate investments is to look for properties that aren't yet for sale, and make an offer. I bought my first home this way. I put an ad in the paper stating what I was looking for, and soon had a call from an old couple that had been thinking about selling. I bought their place at a good price, and they saved a broker's commission.

Buying investment real estate that isn't for sale starts with a three step search process. First decide what you are looking for. Single family rentals or apartment buildings? Then start looking for properties that fit your criteria. Then contact the owners.

Buying Real Estate From Non-Sellers

Don't limit yourself to "fixer-uppers" or other "problem" properties that seem more likely to have owners willing to sell. Many owners of investment real estate have thought of selling, so you can start with almost any building you like.  You never know beforehand if or why a landlord is ready to call it quits. You find out by asking.

Tact is necessary here. Call the owner and tell him you're an investor, not a broker. Let him know that you like what you see. Tell him you can have an offer ready in a week if he's interested. If he's not interested, thank him politely and hang up, but send him your card or a letter. Many investors have bought from owners that changed their minds.

If there is some interest, explain that you are an investor, so your offer will have to be based on your return on investment. This means you'll need to see the books. Specifically, you'll need to see the rent roll, listing the units and what they rent for, plus current occupancy, and operating expenses for the last year.

Have a confidentiality agreement ready before you call. Let the owner know that you'll sign it and deliver it to him before you see the books. He may not want to let the tenants know he's thinking of selling, so inspecting the units may have to wait until you make an offer. Just make an acceptable inspection a contingency in the offer.

Why buy investment properties this way? No competition and no sales commission means you may get a better price. Also, instead of waiting for that perfect property to be listed for sale, you just find it now. Why wait until it's for sale before buying real estate?

Friday, 27 August 2010

Buying property in Spain! Got all necessary information?

Did you know that Spain is the largest country in Europe after France but with just over 40,400,000 people, it is one the least densely populated!

Did you know that over 1.2 million foreigners have chosen to settle and buy properties in Spain, which attracts more than 52 million visitors each year!

Did you know that 640,000 new homes were built in 2004, a higher number than Germany, France and Italy combined. Predictions show that another 2 million homes will have to be built over the next 6 years to meet the demand for Spanish property! 

It is not simply Flamenco or Bull Fighting or the San Fermin Festival or lots and lots of bright sunshine that is attracting more and more tourists and tempting people to settle in Spain from around the world.

Even if we ignore that Spain, for last thousand years or so, is the cultural center of the Europe, she has much more to offer to the world’s citizens, many of whom are looking for Spanish villas for sale.

The local Spanish developers had something different in their mind, the majority of the apartments or properties are bought for the good financial returns a buoyant market returns.

There are around 2,750,0000 empty flats around the country and most of them are not even for rent. Owing to this problem, a good number of Spaniards are not finding homes to live in though construction is one of largest employment sector there.

Never the less, the situation is changing. The government is trying to fix this problem by clamping down on planning permissions, although these measures for reform only started recently this will serve to build a financially secured Spain in future.

Currently those who invested in the past have largely disappeared and the houses and flats are now being owned by overseas clients and Spaniards who are buying them as relocation properties or holiday homes.

In any case the situation for foreign buyers is as lucrative as it is precarious. The Spanish property business, like any other business in any corner of the world, has attracted a number of middlemen, who, unfortunately, are as always eager make a fast ‘buck’ with prospective buyers. Experience has shown that when a person is trying to buy some property from a broker he or she runs the risk of overpaying and even fake buying. It is not always possible for an outsider to know the full history of these agents and we should not forget the old saying ‘seeing is believing’.

The Spanish property market changes frequently, before buying property in Spain a cautious buyer should primarily try to gather all relevant information regarding the property and the-then market scenario. A good place for research is always the internet where there are plenty of good helpful sites on buying property in Spain.

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Buying Property in Spain - Glossary

Buying Property in Spain

Although any expatriate intending to buy property in Spain would be advised to use the professional services of an estate agent and a translator and must legalise the transaction before a Public Notary, the following glossary of terms commonly used either to describe properties in Spain or during the transaction  process is a useful aid for non-Spanish speakers.

Abogado - Lawyer<br>
Actos Juridicos Documentados (AJD) - Stamp duty<br>
Adosado - Semi-detached house <br>
Agencia Inmobiliaria - Estate Agent<br>
Agencia Tributaria - Tax office<br>
A.P.I. (Agente de la Propiedad Inmobiliaria) - Officially licensed estate agent<br>
Aire acondicionado - Air conditioning <br>
Aparcamiento - Parking <br>
Apartamento - Apartment <br>
Arras - Small payment given to the seller to guarantee that the property transaction will be completed within an agreed time limit.<br>
Asesor Fiscal - Financial Advisor<br>
Aval - Loan underwriter<br>
Ayuntamiento - Town hall<br>
Balcón - Balcony <br>
Baño - Bath/WC <br>
Caja de Ahorros - Savings bank <br>
Calefacción central - Central heating <br>
Campo - Countryside <br>
Casita - Cottage <br>
Chalet - Villa <br>
Cocina - Kitchen <br>
Comedor - Dining room <br>
Compra - Buying<br>
Compra-Venta - Promise to Purchase <br>
Contract Comunidad de propietarios - Comunity of property owners <br>
Constructor - Builder <br>
Copia Simple - Copy of the Mortgage Deeds<br>
Cuarto de Baño - Bathroom <br>
Cuotas de comunidad - Community fees<br><br>
Cuenta de Banco - Bank account<br>
Documento privado - Private document<br>
Documento público - Public document<br>
Dormitorio - Bedroom <br>
Ducha - Shower <br>
Duplex    - Apartment over two floors <br>
Edificio - Building <br>
Escritura - Deeds of ownership <br>
Finca - Farm house or small estate <br>
Garaje - Garage <br>
Habitación - Room <br>
Hacienda - Tax office<br>
Hipoteca - Mortgage I.B.I Rates <br>
Inmobiliaria/agente - Estate agent
IVA - VAT <br>
Jardín - Garden <br>
Ladrillo - Brick <br>
Libre de cargas - Debt free <br>
Licencia de obra - Building permission<br>
Licencia de Ocupación - License to occupy a property<br>
Metros cuadrados - Square metres <br>
N.I.E. - Identity Number for Foreigners <br>
Notario - Notary Records legal documents and transactions<br>
Nota Simple - Certificate from Land Registry <br>
Obra nueva - Document certifying a new building <br>
Oferta vinculante - Bank document specifying mortgage conditions <br>
Pago en efectivo - Cash payment <br>
Parcela - Lot or plot <br>
Piscina - Swimming pool <br>
Piso - Apartment <br>
Plan Parcial - Town hall plan for building plots<br>
Playa - Beach <br>
Plusvalía - Municipal Capital gains tax on sale of property <br>
Poder - Power of Attorney <br>
Préstamo - Loan <br>
Pueblo - Town or village <br>
Registro de la Propiedad - Land Registry <br>
Representante fiscal - Foreigner's official tax representative <br>
Residencia - Residency permit <br>
Residente - Resident <br>
Sala, salon - Lounge <br>
Se vende - For sale <br>
Se alquila - For Rent <br>
Solar - Lot for building <br>
Solana - Utility Room <br>
Sótano - Basement <br>
Tarjeta de Banco - Bank card <br>
Techo - Roof <br>
Teja - Roof tile <br>
Terraza - Terrace<br>
Terreno - Land plot <br>
Tipo de interés - Interest rate <br>
Título de propiedad - Property ownership deeds<br>
Trastero - Storeroom <br>
Venta - Selling <br>
Vista de mar - Sea view<br>

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Buying Property in Spain

Every year many thousands of properties in Spain are sold to foreign investors. What is the attraction? Firstly the country has a great climate and that is particularly appealing to those people living under the grey skies of northern Europe. Getting there is both quick and relatively cheap. A flight from London in the United Kingdom to Malaga on the south coast of Spain takes only a little over two hours. It is possible to get some very cheap flights with either one of the well known budget airlines or by picking up a spare seat on one of the hundreds of charters that fly to Spain every day.

There is a wide selection of property to choose from both in type and numbers. Consideration of the following points will help to narrow the search. Size of the property, the garden and the number of rooms required. People planning to emigrate with children should check out what schooling is available locally. Consider the local health & social services. Choose between a built up area or open countryside. How near is the beach, a town, the shops, the bars and restaurants, public transport, its frequency and what time does it stop in the evening?

Many developers looking to improve their own cash flow will offer property for sale off plan. The potential buyer may be able to view a show home but in many cases they are literally shown a development plan or a scale model. An initial deposit is payable followed by several stage payments. A couple of advantages, if property prices rise between purchase and the completion of the project the buyer will own a property worth more than they have paid for it. Secondly, most developers will allow the buyer some say in style and design of both the inside and outside of the house. The down side is the amount of time buyers will have to wait until the development is completed, often in excess of 12 months. And of course they don't know what they are getting for their money until the property is completed.

The cheapest property available in a finished state is likely to be an apartment. These are often on an urbanizacion or housing estate that will often include other types of property such as townhouses and villas. These small communities will include a pool and landscaped gardens. Some kind of security is often employed either in the shape of guards or CCTV cameras. A community charge is payable to cover these facilities. A word of caution. Many of these properties are let to holidaymakers during the summer months. Some to English people with children. The noise these guys make while on holiday has to be heard to be believed. If it's not the kids during the day it's their drunken parents in the early hours of the morning.

A detached, purpose built villa offers more privacy and seclusion but it will cost more than a comparative property within a community.

Buyers looking for a more of the Spanish experience should look at properties within an established town or village. Many of these properties look small but are surprisingly spacious once inside.

A Finca is a property standing on a plot of land in the countryside. It may be a tumbledown farmhouse or a just completed villa. Many fincas have a good deal of land and this may have fruit orchards or olive groves.

Finding the right property should be no more than a question of looking. Once a decision has been made on the location and the type of property it is time to talk to the estate agent. Make certain this person is registered with the authorities and holds a license. Many estate agents have a background in time share developments so the hard sell can be expected. Any claims made by agents should, wherever possible, be substantiated by an independent source.

Any offers to purchase a property should be made in writing and include the following: The price, how it is to be paid and in what currency. The amount of the deposit, to ensure the property is withdrawn from the market, and when it is to be paid. The completion date. Who is responsible for the payment of which taxes. And a detailed list of what is included in the price, furniture, fixtures and fittings and a proviso that all systems, air conditioning, etc. are in good working order. It is vital that this is done in conjunction with a solicitor. Many English speaking solicitors are to be found throughout Spain. No document provided by an estate agent or others should be signed without a solicitor having prior site of it. This cannot be stressed enough.

When an offer is accepted the solicitor should firstly make a check with the land registry. If all is well a private contract binding both parties to the deal is prepared. Following that is the preparation of the public deeds (Escritura de Compraventa) which must be signed before a Spanish notary. Upon completion the solicitor will fax the title deed to the local land register confirming the identity of the new owner and ensuring that the property cannot be sold a second time.

There are certain charges involved with yearly maintenance of the property and these may include, community fees, electricity, real estate tax, rubbish collection charges, water. If the property generates rental income the owner will be liable
for property income and wealth tax. The estate agent should be able to provide this information.

A mortgage application in Spain is relatively straightforward. The following original documents need to be shown, passport, if employed, the last three months payslips and if self employed, accounts of the last 3 years, an accountant's reference, and tax returns.

A further 10% of the agreed price will have to be found to cover additional fees that include: Legal fees of approximately 1%, Notary and Land Registry Fees of approximately 1%, Title Deed Tax of 0.5%. A Valia tax, payable on any increase in land value may be payable. On a new construction IVA tax is levied at 7%. It is charged at the full rate of 16% for purchases of land. Purchases of used property are subject to a transfer tax and this like the IVA comes in at 7%.

People planning to move to Spain for a period in excess of 6 months must apply for residency. Spanish property owners' who do not have residency should appoint a financial representative and they must be resident in Spain. This can be a lawyer or tax adviser or to save a few Euros a neighbour or friend. It is to this person that all correspondence regarding the property will be sent.

Consider appointing a gestor or legal representative. They will look after all the paperwork and in Spain there's plenty of it to look after. There's that residency to begin with. People planing to work will need a work permit. If opening a business they can assist with the licenses and permits that will be required. They will also advise on the import of pets, cars, furniture and electrical goods. And they can sort out pension payments in Spain.

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Buying property in Greece is the greatest desire of many persons nowadays

Buying property in Greece seems to be rising up to the top of many persons “to do” lists for this life and this is why there has been an increasing surge of interests in the estates found in this magnificent country. Since the turn of the century, property for sale in Greece has become a great attraction for foreign persons who are willing to invest in real estate and this has turned the action of buying property in Greece like a gold hunt.

The greatest deal of buying property in Greece represents the propriety that is usually used as a holiday estate. Apart from this, there are also lots of retired persons that consider buying property in Greece a good opportunity to spend their rest of life there. Moreover they can finally unwind, enjoy their unique twisting of the ordinary and get rid of the flurry of activity from the big cities.

Greece is now encompassing a great place of investment in real estate, in sundry areas, such as commercial, industrial, residential. After the Olympic Games had been held in Greece there was a boom in buying property in Greece. This high interest has not been quenched yet. Although the foreign persons that are ferreting out for property for sale in Greece might find the process of actually owning a propriety an intricate set of rules and regulations, it is important for them to be acquainted with the fact that grasping and taking in all the things required and of course trying to meet them will very soon help them be the possessors of a property for sale in Greece.

Due to a new adjustment to the Greek law, foreign citizens can now dare to dream at the wonderful proprieties situated in Crete and Corfu, areas that once were considered very sensitive. Therefore, if you desire to have access to a property for sale in Greece, apart from checking various sites on the internet it is advisable to resort to specialist agencies that are accredited to give you unobtrusive pieces of advice concerning your desire of buying property in Greece.

Moreover, there if you want to acquit property for sale in Greece, are imposed no restriction it is a great asset for you. However, it is imperative to take into account that prior to buying property in Greece a prerequisite for you is to be granted the permission to purchase a real estate in the Greece by a local authority. After this you will be a real freehold owner, and therefore a good advice for you is to crack while the iron is still hot and to take advantage of this desirability.

It is true that buying property in Greece may require you to put aside a lot of time but it is really worthy, and apart from this there are a plethora of sites and agencies ready to buttress your actions and to help you get hold of a suitable property for sale in Greece.

Monday, 23 August 2010

Buying property in Bulgaria

Bulgaria has attracted a lot of attention over the last two years, as foreign buyers and investors flock to its emerging property market. In 2004, foreigners invested over Euro 500 million  in Bulgarian property, compared to Euro 98 million in 2003.  Frequently listed in the top 20 places to buy a foreign property, Bulgaria is now firmly on the property investment map.

With EU entry forecast for 2007 investors are keen to buy into the Bulgarian market to reap the inevitable rewards of capital appreciation and establish a rental income in a country that has demonstrated increasing tourism over the last few years.  In the first 6 months of 2005 alone, over 2.7 million tourists visited Bulgaria; with a 42% increase in the number of British tourists.  By 2020 the World Trade Organisation has predicted that the number of foreign tourists visiting the country will increase to 10 million.

The most popular regions for foreign property investors can be broadly categorised into 3 sectors: the Black Sea Coast, Sofia and the mountain ski-resorts.  Other buyers are attracted by the old houses inland that can start from as little as £1,700 and the medieval charm of picturesque cities and villages like Veliko Turnovo, Arbanassi and Tryavna in central Bulgaria.
Enjoying over 300 days of sunshine a year, boasting a coastline that stretches over 380km, spectacular mountains, eco-tourism and some of the most affordable property in Europe, there is no wonder that Bulgaria is attracting such interest. Property prices in some regions have doubled in the space of the last two years alone – though new apartments on the coast are still available from as little as £20,000.

Despite recent bad press about developers and estate agents in Bulgaria over-estimating rental returns and exaggerating capital growth rates, Bulgarian property remains under-valued and is a good investment.

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Buying Pre Construction at The Bluffs on Cape Fear

The North Carolina coastal area is a wonderful place to vacation, retire or build a second home. It is packed with adventure, romance and fun. The North Carolina coast has long been a favorite vacation spot for families who like to return again and again.

Bluffs Cape Fear

Developers are now working on a project called The Bluffs on Cape Fear. This unique waterfront community is located on the Cape Fear River. It's only 15 miles from downtown Wilmington, NC. This exclusive gated community will be a retreat for many vacationers and retirees. It consists of 600 to 700 acres of rolling tree covered land. There will approximately 700 lots and home sites.

This area offers a host of activities that will please everyone. Access to the Atlantic Ocean and the Intra Coastal waterway make this a paradise for water activities. Boating, fishing, jet skiing, and beaches are on-hand for your enjoyment. Brunswick County is rated one of the top 10 vacation spots because of its stunning beauty and attractions. Once you have visited, you will want to return again and again.

Buying Pre Construction Property

Whether you want to retire or vacation in North Carolina, there is a splendid opportunity at Bluffs Cape Fear. By buying NC Pre Construction, you can be in on the beginning of this outstanding project. As a result of buying this NC investment property, you'll see your property values rise.

In these uncertain times, many people are putting their money into real estate investments. Bluffs Cape Fear gives you a chance to do this at pre construction prices. With a small amount of earnest money, you can reserve your lot at the rock bottom price. Then while you are preparing to build, you can watch your land value increase. Prices will never be this low again, and as development progresses, selling prices will escalate.

Besides being a great investment, The Bluffs Cape Fear gives you many desirable attributes. The amenities for this gated community include a beach house, a river clubhouse and a swim and tennis center. For nature lovers, there will be interior lakes, walking trails and conservation areas.

Bluffs - Wilmington NC

The Bluffs are close enough to Wilmington to enjoy the attractions there. You will find fine dining, golf courses, parks and museums. The history buff can tour Civil War battlefields, and the shopper can browse the boutiques and shops. Nearby beaches are readily accessible for days of sun and relaxation.

This is the best time to buy pre construction and be part of the growth and expansion of this locale. At this point, you can reserve your property and arrange financing with a small deposit.  Whether you want property for your second home, retirement, or to resell, this opportunity would be hard to duplicate anywhere else.

Saturday, 21 August 2010

Buying older property in Bulgaria - An insiders guide

Bulgaria is a big country, despite what some sellers will say there are actually still plenty of properties around to buy at really good prices. Places still cheap include Razgrad and Dobrich which I happen to think are only long term investments, I think they are very poor areas often with not much going for them, not the sort of place where you want to leave an empty house, even empty I have had windows stolen, doors etc even from an empty house.

Although on Ebay some sellers say "Near the sea" you wouldn’t exactly call 34 Miles from Brighton near the sea, besides the sea isn’t everything and in Bulgaria winters don’t help the coastal areas considering that temperatures in winter is similar to London in winter. On the note of the sea, note that there has been a barrage of oversubscriptions to new apartments and houses by the sea, so rentals may be hard because there is simply too many properties by the sea for rent - Some developers are offering guaranteed rental, but these promises are rarely stood by. Buying plots by the sea is equally risky, with Natura 2000 allowing only certain parts to be built on; many speculators who bought land a while back are seething because what was once a development opportunity has now become pretty much a nature reserve. Prices are way huge beside the sea anyway, compared to the market price increases of inland property. Remember, Bulgaria is not Spain; Bulgaria is Bulgaria with its seasons, hot and cold. Nessebar is an exception to my rule, totally stunning, if you can buy there, buy.

In my view, Ski properties are good, but watch out because there have been some flouting of planning laws to get rich quick, so if you don’t do your homework you may just see your dream holiday home getting pulled down before you can say resell. Buying near or in the "established" (I’m saying established because these places haven’t got started yet, I recommend doing some homework and buying in or near these areas).

Although a big sprawl with little thought to planning and streetscape, I think central Sofia is a good investment right now. Given that it is the capital city of Bulgaria, its expanding airport and wealth concentration, I think it’s a safe bet, but be careful because prices are hiking quickly. There is some great architecture in Sofia, so if you can dodge the raging traffic, don’t forget to go have a look. Buying in towns and villages around Sofia, especially to the West, may be a good idea, think Surrey to London.

 Around cities like Veliko Tarnovo, Rousse and Vratza are a good buy. Make sure things are happening in the villages (New houses, renovations, flash cars etc) before buying there, otherwise take a long term view as your property value flourishes slowly.

Picturesque Vratza (Just over 70 Miles to the North East of Sofia) has the backdrop of the Vratza Balkan (Huge mountain range) and Leva River running to the front of the city.

Veliko Tarnovo with its amazing Tzarevetz Castle (Watch the famous light show) and Great River Yantra running through the city is a great city with a huge amount of things to do for everyone.
Rousse is the gateway between Romania and Bulgaria. In my opinion, Rousse is a hotcake of the future, along with Veliko Tarnovo (Which in my opinion is a better place to invest in)
Don’t let the prices you see guide you to what the prices are and will be when you get to Bulgaria. Prices on EBay, on catalogues and anywhere else vary wildly, so there is no guide price etc for property in Bulgaria.

Quick tips:

Local prices are often different from so called tourist prices - Don’t look like a tourist and you minimise on paying like a tourist.

Don’t make decisions on the spot, take your time. Buy what you like, in an area you like with the money you would like to spend - Not the max you can

Remember - Bulgaria is not cheap, it’s only cheap to us, so don’t go saying "£5000, that’s cheap" because the estate agent may just think you have loads more to spend and price the houses as he wishes.

When buying, see if there is a regional airport, while it may not be operational now or small, it may expand in the future; think Luton, Inverness and Stansted before they became international airports.

Make sure there are "things" around your village or town to make it an interesting place for renting or prospective future buyers, is there a mountain nearby, a ski range (Or future ski range)

When you are looking for a Bulgarian property, especially since distance buying at auction, you need to look closely at the photos to see if the house you are looking at is the one you really want.

Bulgarian properties were built without much planning in the past, generally they have been built by local (Often unskilled) tradesmen using traditional teqniques that are sometimes forbidden in todays cautious building world.

When looking at photos of houses at auction, check:

-The corners, the bottom of the walls, the top of the walls. Is there dark spots (Could indicate dampness), is there painted spots (Could indicate an attempt to "paint over" the dampness). Obviously there is dampness somewhere or another with older Bulgarian properties, but not in every room, you may as well live in a dirty sauna! If a whole houses has been painted, look carefully at what has been covered up, it could be large areas of dampness or cracks, at least if there are cracks you should see then to work out if they need sealed or pinned.

-The roof. Is it slanted, is it not straight or bowed at some point? If a roof is not straight it may mean just bad design (Remember these houses were generally built with little or no actual physical plans) or it may mean that it could collapse because it is weak (Could be woodworm, weak joist etc) so this may cause issues in the future. As a general rule of thumb, we check the roofs are straight and even before selling to others, sometimes the roof is solid though and able to withstand some more years or rain, heat and cold.

-Check the village in the background. Is there people, is there modern cars, do the houses around the house you are looking at look like they are well looked after? It depends what you are looking for, but you generally want a village which is vibrant (Or is aspiring to be vibrant) and that money (Or skills, or love...) are coming into the village.
The walls. Is there large cracks on the houses, if they have been painted you may not see them.

-The floors. Many Bulgarian properties (Including many we sell) have compressed mud floors rather than plain old concrete or wood. Although traditional Bulgarians have been happy with these for years, you dont really want to put a new wall to wall carpet down on these. If a floor has mud on it instead of wood or concrete, then it may be necessary to dig out the mud and re-lay the flooring, which actually isnt so expensive.