Sunday, 28 February 2010

3 Surefire Ways To Sell Your Homes On Steroids, While Other Investors Can't Give Away Their Homes

So you need to sell your home?

This article is exactly what you need to do, to sell your home or create a bunch of leads of individuals, who are HOT prospects to buy your home.

Before, I share my 3 steroid ideas on selling your homes; you need to take a few simple steps...


1. You need to locate and interview an aggressive Mortgage Broker, very knowledgeable, with a GREAT TRACK RECORD of closing deals, especially difficult ones.

I cannot stress enough the importance, of having a great broker on your power team. I own and run, the R.E.I.A. (real estate investor club / in my area, so whenever I hear a member, say they got a difficult deal closed, I always make sure to inquire for an introduction, because this might be the broker who can get most of my deals funded.

Remember, you can sell a home ten times, if you can't get the buyer funded by a mortgage company...who cares, your wasting your time.

2. You should make some effort in fixing the home up; even if it's a hunker, I'd still get the lawn cut and maybe throw a coat of paint on the property. You'd be amazed at the improvement to even an ugly property, with a simple coat of paint on the front of the property.

3. Go to your local community financing office or local grant and home buyer bond office. For example in my area (South Florida and Palm Beach County), both counties run a FREE class for your buyers on becoming a first time home buyer and when they take the class, they then get a voucher from the county, giving them $10,000.00 toward the purchase of their first home. The best part is sometimes the loans are even forgiven, when certain criteria are met by the new homeowner.


Let's be frank, your going to have to be more aggressive, smarter and persistent than 99% of all your homes neighbors.

There's no magic pill, but this has been working for both my students and me, for the last year, and we're always testing and fine-tuning the system.

And I can tell you, that while every other investor, is sitting with their heads in their butts, my students and I are able to sell all of our properties, during one of the worst RE slowdowns in history, and this is in South Florida, one of the most depressed markets in the Country,

1. Buyer First System

Basically you create your own buyers. The best example would be converting a lifetime renter into the American Dream a homeowner. Just so happens, that while becoming the American Dream, they also end up buying your home.

Very simply, create a flyer or postcard, and market to communities of people who would be a great prospect to buy your home.

Who doesn't want to be a homeowner in America? Nobody, that's a stupid question, everyone wants to be a homeowner, and it's bred into us as kids.

The real key is you must understand, that these individuals renting, most are under the impression they CAN'T get a mortgage. They might have tried in the past, and we're shutdown and embarrassed, only to believe they would live the rest of their lives as a RENTER.

These are the best leads you can focus on, because it's not a matter of IF they'll buy your home, they will, the key is can you get them funded or is it the right house for them, financially affordable.

I must also share with you, this strategy will take some of your time and initiative, because their is hand holding involved, mortgage brokers, and helping them get any government help in First time homebuyer money.

2. Fish in some one else's pond!

Go where the most prospects are for your home. I'll give you some examples, you need to go where the most and the best prospects are to buy your home, assuming it's a good deal (priced right, and there's still built-in equity for your buyer).

If you have any contacts or a friend of a friend, now is the time for using it and your expectations are for these contacts to open doors for you, to their sphere of influence.

For Example, one of my students, Courtney, leveraged a contact he had, his cousin (she was a middle school teacher), and she introduced him into the schools, where it just happened that the schools are in the same area, that he was selling a great starter home.

He sold the home that he needed to the most, but then, once word spread of what he was able to do, the rest of the teachers came out of everywhere, wanting him to help them. He's since helping the 1st teacher, sold another 5 homes, to 5 different teachers, earning him over $30,000.00 for this simple, leveraged relationship.

So what ponds can you fish in, with your marketing? Think about whom you know (friends, family members, and associates)?

BEST: Teachers, Cops, Firefighters, Government Employees, Bus Drivers, Department of Transportation. (These careers are loved by lenders, they mostly have good credit, and their income is basically guaranteed and very stable.)

GOOD: Large local employers: Supermarkets, Local telephone company (Bell South), Home Depot, Wal-Mart, etc.

3. Use the Internet...

You should definitely have an individual website for your property.

You can get a simple site built for under $100.00.

ü Use or : Two great sites, for getting your site created, they are both similar to EBay. You post an auction about your project (your home website), and then companies bid on your job, and you get to see samples of their work and read all their feedback, after you decided who wins your job, you choose a winner. Oh by the way, both of these services cost you nothing, their completely FREE. ü Take some pictures with a digital camera of your home and you'll end up emailing them to the site designer, to post on your site. (good example, is ü Treat this as an online, digital brochure, basically being able to do whatever you can conceive. ü You can take a video of the home, with you walking through the home and then have it placed on your site. If you're intimidated by video, like I was at first, don't be, because your web site designer can do it for you, very easily.

Now, when ever you talk to someone on the phone or in person, they can quickly look at your property, on the web. This will be the best $100.00 you'll ever spend on marketing of your home.

4. BONUS: Promote and hold your own, "First Time Homebuyer Seminar".

Before you say anything, I don't expect you to be Tony Robbins, if you can get 10 to 15 people in a room, your going to be successful.

We shared this strategy with my mentoring students, and it's been working excellent for them, from the results I've been receiving back from my future millionaires. In fact, one of my students from Miami, Alex, has been executing this strategy like gangbusters.

Before writing this article, I received permission from Alex to share some of his feedback with you, on the Homebuyer seminars that have been very successful for him.

He's now doing 1 a month, every month. Also, since he's has a few successfully under his belt, he's now selling sponsorship space to his seminars, to Mortgage brokers, credit repair companies, and he's even worked out a joint venture with two different realtors, whom pay him for every property they sell to one of his prospects.

If you're curious how he's filling the room, all he's doing is as follows...

-Flyers in Parking lots, I.E. Wal-Mart, Publix Supermarkets, and local churches.

-Free Advertising on

-He uses bandit style signs on the side of the road, 18 x 24, corrugated plastic signs.

-He's even put up a website that the attendees, can pre-register for the seminar. (Sorry, he didn't want me giving out the site, for obvious reasons)

-He also is giving them an ethical bribe for attending the seminar; he gives them a few nooks and tapes just for making it to the event. The best part is he received the books for free on the internet, and he's also allowed to give them away for free and even rebrand them as his own books.

Saturday, 27 February 2010

3 Pitfalls to Avoid When Playing in the Real Estate Game

So you’ve seen your umpteenth infomercial with the guy in his neatly pressed button-upped white T-Shirt grinning ear to ear waving his rock-solid no-money-down rags-to-riches real estate investment course for 3 easy payments of a gazillion dollars (but only if you call now) and now you are thinking, "wow this looks like a great deal, I better get it fast before the special offer expires." You notice how there’s always a special offer? Anyway, I am not saying this guy isn’t telling the truth, however regardless of which course or school of thought you buy into there are several key areas that one must avoid when engaging in any real estate related transaction.

Pitfall Number 1: Don’t Overpay!

The whole point in investing is to find properties that are undervalued. How does one find out what is undervalued versus overvalued? Without getting into technical details, the bottom line is you need experience. Yes much like shopping for anything else, real estate is essentially one of the highest ticket items in the shopping center of life. It’s advisable to stick with one market, perhaps the one closest to you in proximity as a starting off point. Through your experience and asking the right questions, you will eventually have a feel for the pulse of the market you are looking after, and of course identify what is considered a good buy.

Pitfall Number 2: Know the Market

Yes, you are actually going to have to do more work! This part is really common sense though, but executing it where the beauty and the payoff comes in. How do you make money in real estate? The most basic way is to buy low and sell high. So from the first step, you have identified general trends in the value of homes, and are pretty good at spotting undervalued homes. Assuming you acquire that home, you may want to profit from it by selling it off to someone else for a higher price. How can you do this? Well there are many ways. For one, most markets appreciate in value over time so if you want a longer term approach that will work. Making upgrades to the property will automatically raise the price of the home as well. Think in terms of what the market wants, not what you personally want. You aren’t the one buying it; you are trying to sell it to someone else for a higher price than you bought it.

Pitfall Number 3: Know Your Budget

It may be a fine philosophy to go through life on a whim, but real estate is serious business, and thus diligent financial planning and budgeting is critical to your success. Don’t worry you don’t need to be a finance geek, however you need to be disciplined and know your budget from the onset, or you may be finding you are learning that you need to make certain renovations or upgrades, and didn’t anticipate it going over to a certain cost. Think ahead as to what is needed before actually going forth with investing in real estate.

Friday, 26 February 2010

3 of the top 9 reasons that the real estate bubble is bursting

If you own real estate or are thinking of buying real estate then you better pay attention, because this could be the most important message you receive this year regarding real estate and your financial future.

The last five years have seen explosive growth in the real estate market and as a result many people believe that real estate is the safest investment you can make. Well, that is no longer true. Rapidly increasing real estate prices have caused the real estate market to be at price levels never before seen in history when adjusted for inflation! The growing number of people concerned about the real estate bubble means there are less available real estate buyers. Fewer buyers mean that prices are coming down.

On May 4, 2006, Federal Reserve Board Governor Susan Blies stated that "Housing has really sort of peaked". This follows on the heels of the new Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke saying that he was concerned that the "softening" of the real estate market would hurt the economy. And former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan previously described the real estate market as frothy. All of these top financial experts agree that there is already a viable downturn in the market, so clearly there is a need to know the reasons behind this change.

3 of the top 9 reasons that the real estate bubble will burst include:
1. Interest rates are rising - foreclosures are up 72%!
2. First time homebuyers are priced out of the market - the real estate market is a pyramid and the base is crumbling
3. The psychology of the market has changed so that now people are afraid of the bubble bursting - the mania over real estate is over!

The first reason that the real estate bubble is bursting is rising interest rates. Under Alan Greenspan, interest rates were at historic lows from June 2003 to June 2004. These low interest rates allowed people to buy homes that were more expensive then what they could normally afford but at the same monthly cost, essentially creating "free money". However, the time of low interest rates has ended as interest rates have been rising and will continue to rise further. Interest rates must rise to combat inflation, partly due to high gasoline and food costs. Higher interest rates make owning a home more expensive, thus driving existing home values down.

Higher interest rates are also affecting people who bought adjustable mortgages (ARMs). Adjustable mortgages have very low interest rates and low monthly payments for the first two to three years but afterwards the low interest rate disappears and the monthly mortgage payment jumps dramatically. As a result of adjustable mortgage rate resets, home foreclosures for the 1st quarter of 2006 are up 72% over the 1st quarter of 2005.

The foreclosure situation will only worsen as interest rates continue to rise and more adjustable mortgage payments are adjusted to a higher interest rate and higher mortgage payment. Moody's stated that 25% of all outstanding mortgages are coming up for interest rate resets during 2006 and 2007. That is $2 trillion of U.S. mortgage debt! When the payments increase, it will be quite a hit to the pocketbook. A study done by one of the country's largest title insurers concluded that 1.4 million households will face a payment jump of 50% or more once the introductory payment period is over.

The second reason that the real estate bubble is bursting is that new homebuyers are no longer able to buy homes due to high prices and higher interest rates. The real estate market is basically a pyramid scheme and as long as the number of buyers is growing everything is fine. As homes are bought by first time home buyers at the bottom of the pyramid, the new money for that $100,000.00 home goes all the way up the pyramid to the seller and buyer of a $1,000,000.00 home as people sell one home and buy a more expensive home. This double-edged sword of high real estate prices and higher interest rates has priced many new buyers out of the market, and now we are starting to feel the effects on the overall real estate market. Sales are slowing and inventories of homes available for sale are rising quickly. The latest report on the housing market showed new home sales fell 10.5% for February 2006. This is the largest one-month drop in nine years.

The third reason that the real estate bubble is bursting is that the psychology of the real estate market has changed. For the last five years the real estate market has risen dramatically and if you bought real estate you more than likely made money. This positive return for so many investors fueled the market higher as more people saw this and decided to also invest in real estate before they 'missed out'.

The psychology of any bubble market, whether we are talking about the stock market or the real estate market is known as 'herd mentality', where everyone follows the herd. This herd mentality is at the heart of any bubble and it has happened numerous times in the past including during the US stock market bubble of the late 1990's, the Japanese real estate bubble of the 1980's, and even as far back as the US railroad bubble of the 1870's. The herd mentality had completely taken over the real estate market until recently.

The bubble continues to rise as long as there is a "greater fool" to buy at a higher price. As there are less and less "greater fools" available or willing to buy homes, the mania disappears. When the hysteria passes, the excessive inventory that was built during the boom time causes prices to plummet. This is true for all three of the historical bubbles mentioned above and many other historical examples. Also of importance to note is that when all three of these historical bubbles burst the US was thrown into recession.

With the changing in mindset related to the real estate market, investors and speculators are getting scared that they will be left holding real estate that will lose money. As a result, not only are they buying less real estate, but they are simultaneously selling their investment properties as well. This is producing huge numbers of homes available for sale on the market at the same time that record new home construction floods the market. These two increasing supply forces, the increasing supply of existing homes for sale coupled with the increasing supply of new homes for sale will further exacerbate the problem and drive all real estate values down.

A recent survey showed that 7 out of 10 people think the real estate bubble will burst before April 2007. This change in the market psychology from 'must own real estate at any cost' to a healthy concern that real estate is overpriced is causing the end of the real estate market boom.

The aftershock of the bubble bursting will be enormous and it will affect the global economy tremendously. Billionaire investor George Soros has said that in 2007 the US will be in recession and I agree with him.  I think we will be in a recession because as the real estate bubble bursts, jobs will be lost, Americans will no longer be able to cash out money from their homes, and the entire economy will slow down dramatically thus leading to recession.

In conclusion, the three reasons the real estate bubble is bursting are higher interest rates; first-time buyers being priced out of the market; and the psychology about the real estate market is changing. The recently published eBook "How To Prosper In The Changing Real Estate Market. Protect Yourself From The Bubble Now!" discusses these items in more detail. For more information visit <a html>

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Thursday, 25 February 2010

“Try On” Your New Home Before Buying

It’s commonplace to try on suits, dresses, trousers or shoes before buying them. People instinctively know they need to try on clothes to be sure they fit, feel comfortable and are attractive on them. What about a home?  It’s probably the most expensive purchase you’ll ever make. Isn’t it even more important to “try on” a home before you purchase it?

What on earth do I mean?  Well, it’s usual to look for a home in places that are convenient to work and schools. Most folks take the daily commute into consideration when shopping for a home. Why not take the daily, weekly, and even monthly activities of family members consciously into account, too?

Case Study

I once helped a young, single woman named Wendy to find and buy her first home.  She worked for Geico, was rising very nicely in the company and wanted a home of her own and the tax break home ownership affords.  She asked my advice about choosing, and we had a conversation in which I mentioned many of the sorts of things I’ve said here. We made a list of what mattered to her. Then we went shopping. We looked at a lot of houses. After we came out of each one, we had a talk about how it measured up to Wendy’s list.

One of the houses we looked at belonged to the young woman who later became my daughter-in-law. It was brick, all on one level, had a fireplace in the living room, and had patio doors from the master bedroom and dining rooms to an enormous deck with a hot tub. It was beautifully decorated in a sort of “pared down Victorian” style. There was a brass bed, some wicker, lots of healthy house plants, and a few Victorian pieces of furniture that were actually old, family pieces. Silver framed family photos were clustered on top of the piano.

After we emerged from the house, Wendy started down the two steps to the car and then froze in place. She had the oddest expression on her face. I asked what was wrong, and she began to look sheepish and confessed, “That house is so pretty and so nicely decorated, I just enjoyed looking at it and didn’t give any thought to how I’d live in it.  I just wanted it.”

We went back inside.  Wendy still admired what had been done with the house, but decided it wasn’t right for her.

Knowing what’s important to you can save costly mistakes.  The process of “trying on” a house helps you evaluate what’s important.  I think you’ll find it’s worth the effort.

Word Count:

It’s commonplace to try on suits, dresses, trousers or shoes before buying them. People instinctively know they need to try on clothes to be sure they fit, feel comfortable and are attractive on them. What about a home?  It’s probably the most expensive purchase you’ll ever make. Isn’t it even more important to “try on” a home before you purchase it?

buyin a home

Article Body:
It’s commonplace to try on suits, dresses, trousers or shoes before buying them. People instinctively know they need to try on clothes to be sure they fit, feel comfortable and are attractive on them. What about a home?  It’s probably the most expensive purchase you’ll ever make. Isn’t it even more important to “try on” a home before you purchase it?

What on earth do I mean?  Well, it’s usual to look for a home in places that are convenient to work and schools. Most folks take the daily commute into consideration when shopping for a home. Why not take the daily, weekly, and even monthly activities of family members consciously into account, too?

Case Study

I once helped a young, single woman named Wendy to find and buy her first home.  She worked for Geico, was rising very nicely in the company and wanted a home of her own and the tax break home ownership affords.  She asked my advice about choosing, and we had a conversation in which I mentioned many of the sorts of things I’ve said here. We made a list of what mattered to her. Then we went shopping. We looked at a lot of houses. After we came out of each one, we had a talk about how it measured up to Wendy’s list.

One of the houses we looked at belonged to the young woman who later became my daughter-in-law. It was brick, all on one level, had a fireplace in the living room, and had patio doors from the master bedroom and dining rooms to an enormous deck with a hot tub. It was beautifully decorated in a sort of “pared down Victorian” style. There was a brass bed, some wicker, lots of healthy house plants, and a few Victorian pieces of furniture that were actually old, family pieces. Silver framed family photos were clustered on top of the piano.

After we emerged from the house, Wendy started down the two steps to the car and then froze in place. She had the oddest expression on her face. I asked what was wrong, and she began to look sheepish and confessed, “That house is so pretty and so nicely decorated, I just enjoyed looking at it and didn’t give any thought to how I’d live in it.  I just wanted it.”

We went back inside.  Wendy still admired what had been done with the house, but decided it wasn’t right for her.

Knowing what’s important to you can save costly mistakes.  The process of “trying on” a house helps you evaluate what’s important.  I think you’ll find it’s worth the effort.

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

“Renting Back” After Your Home Is Sold

Sometimes it’s helpful to sell your home before you really want to move. This often happens when you are having a new home built, but aren’t sure of the completion date. Is there any way you can sell your home so you’re sure of the funds available for the new purchase, but continue to live in your old home until construction of the new one is complete. Yes, there is with the renting back strategy.

Enter the Lease-Back or Rent-Back Agreement

The particulars of this strategy vary from state to state, but in the strong seller’s market we’re experiencing, buyers will often agree to let the seller stay in the home for a period of time as long as rent is paid. In a competitive situation, the buyer willing to do this will often have the winning bid even though there is another offer as high as his.

The agreement covering the situation states the length of time the seller will remain.  It can be done with a specific date named or wording that allows the seller to remain up to a specific date with the possibility of her moving sooner. The amount can be a fixed figure paid out of the proceeds of settlement or a monthly amount, or a daily amount. It is usually, but not always, tied to the amount of the mortgage payment under the buyer’s new loan. Sometimes there is a deposit against damage, sometimes not.  There is usually a clause saying the seller will hold the buyer harmless for any damage to himself or his property which occurs after the sale is consummated and before the seller moves.

The attorney who draws up your contract offer can create such an agreement. If you’re using online forms, you should be able to find one for this situation. If you’re working with a real estate broker, he or she can handle it for you.  

An Example

I’ve recently seen a very pleasant example of this idea in action. An elderly widow contracted to have a one level condo unit built in a new community which provides all exterior maintenance. She had had hip replacement surgery and wanted to get away from the drawbacks of the home in which she’d reared her children. The home was large, had stairs and was located on a large, partially wooded lot with many mature perennials and shrubs. Both the home and garden were beautiful, but high maintenance.

Her contract to purchase required a series of deposits and a firm indication as to her source of funds well before settlement on her new condo. The widow put her home on the market. A young couple with two sons was very anxious to buy it. The situation was competitive. They made the widow an offer. She countered their original offer. She did not raise their offer price, which was slightly below her asking price.  She did not believe the young couple would qualify for a larger loan. Instead, she did something rather creative.

The widow countered with a proposal that she “rent back” for a period of “up to” a certain date (a date beyond her scheduled competition date on the condo) in exchange for a modest flat sum to be paid to the buyer at settlement. The total rent back period was less than two months. The flat fee was less than the amount of the new mortgage payment for the buyers. However, since they made no payment on their new mortgage the first month, it wasn’t too far out of line. The couple really wanted the home, so they accepted the counter offer.

Another win, win situation was created. The widow only had to move one time and the young couple got a house they probably wouldn’t have in a straight bidding war. If you find yourself in a situation similar to either the widow or the young couple, perhaps you can work out a similar solution.

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

2006 US Census: Cape Coral Florida real estate - 5th Fastest City in Growth

No, there's no Starbucks here. And you won't find a regional mall or any big name bookstores either.

But according to the latest U.S. Census Bureau News report issued on June 21, 2006, Cape Coral Florida remains the ffifth-fastest growing city in the country! Owners of Cape Coral Florida real estate are rejoicing.

Why? Because Cape Coral Florida real estate values are poised to continue it’s double digit growth.

The Census report, released on June 21, 2006, said the city grew at 9.2 percent from July 1, 2004, to July 1, 2005, reaching a total population of 140,000. Almost a year later, 154,000 people live here, based on city estimates. Cape Coral also was No. 5 on the census growth chart in 2003-2004.

Florida had three cities among the 10 fastest growing in the nation: Port St. Lucie (third), Cape Coral (fifth) and Miramar (eighth).

For buyers wanting a waterfront lifestyle, Cape Coral real estate offers miles of canals to the Gulf of Mexico, and is in great demand.

Bordered on the east by the Caloosahatchee River and on the west by the Gulf of Mexico, Cape Coral Florida real estate provides thousands of waterfront property opportunities with access to the Gulf.

Founded in 1970, Cape Coral Florida’s year round temperature averages 76 degrees. Cape Coral can very well be known as the "new Naples".

The second largest city in the state spanning 115 square miles, Cape Coral has been coined the “Venice of the West” as it hosts 400 miles of canals.

Real estate buyers can take advantage of the unique Cape Coral Florida real estate opportunity by locking in at yesterday's prices. Says one local Realtor, “Instead of saying, 'I can't afford it,' why not ask yourself 'How can I afford it?'"

Cape Coral Florida real estate provides abundant lifestyle opportunities to raise a family, start a business, or get a job with one of the new companies that have also recently relocated to the area.

Cape Coral Florida is also a wonderful place to retire with some of the best golfing and boating to be found anywhere.

Considering all that Cape Coral has to offer, it's no surprise that the Cape Coral real estate market is healthy.

Whether it is the boating, fishing, golfing, restaurants, or great weather Cape Coral Florida real estate offers, this beautiful city does not seem to disappoint.

Monday, 22 February 2010

Alabama Real Estate – A Southern Air

Alabama is undeniably a stereotypical southern state, but the state and real estate market hold undeniable surprises.


Alabama is distinctly southern and darn proud of it. If you have a taste for college football, country music and NASCAR, Alabama is a paradise defined. To the surprise of many, Alabama also has a more modern flavor with Huntsville being the home of a major chunk of the U.S. Space Program. For golfers, the collection of golf courses winding through the state, known as the Robert Trent Jones golf trail, make Alabama one of the top golfing destinations in the continental United States. Personally, I prefer the annual iron bowl college football war between the Auburn and Alabama universities, but to each their own…


Home to the U.S. Space and Rocket Center, Huntsville is undoubtedly the pyrotechnic capital of the south. With a distinct southern charm, the city is laid out well with parks, botanical gardens, lake areas and a close proximately to numerous outdoor activities such as fishing, hiking and hunting. While many cities make a haberdash of mixing in the new with the old, Huntsville gets it just right.


Pronounced “Moe beel”, Mobile is a busy port city with a little known history. If you’ve ever thought of going to Mardi Gras in New Orleans, you’re better off going to Mobile. Yep, the city was the first to celebrate Mardi Gras in the United States and maintains the tradition to this day. In fact, Mobile looks striking like New Orleans, having been established by the French. It is a beautiful southern city, with spring being the best time as a bevy of flowing plants awaken from their winter slumber. The colors and fragrances are simply amazing.

Alabama Real Estate

Alabama real estate prices are very reasonable when compared to the rest of the country. Throughout the state, an average home will run you $200,000 or less. The appreciation rate is a little low, but still a respectable 7.5 percent for 2005.

Sunday, 21 February 2010

All you Should Know Before Buying Commercial Real Estate.

All you Should Know Before Buying Commercial Real Estate.

Buying or renting,  such is the question many business people ask themselves around the 1st of the month,  when comes the time to write their rent's check.

With the interests rates being what they are and prices being affected by the commercial paper crisis,  the answer might very well be yes if the right property becomes available and you can afford a relatively important cash down.

Owning  commercial real estate does have it's advantages.
Choices:  as the owner,  you can decide whether to select a building that matches your current needs,  has enough room for future expansion or maybe is large enough for you to lease parts of it.

Equity: every month,   your payments are applied to paying down your mortgage and building some equity which could be useful eventually to secure a loan for new equipment,  to finance an acquisition or simply as an asset.

Appreciation: not withstanding any unforeseen occurrences,  your building should appreciate with time.  This appreciation could,   just as the above mentioned equity,  be used to get better financing conditions.

Power:  as the landlord,  you are the person in charge of deciding how to finance the building,  picking the tenants,  choosing the decorations,  selecting entrepreneurs for the work to be done,  improving the building.  You even have control over your rent's rate.

If it's so great,  why doesn't everyone do it?

The main reason why not everyone owns the commercial space they're using is that,  in real life,  thing don't necessarily go exactly as in late night's infomercials…

You can buy commercial real estate with no money down,  especially if it's because your money is bringing you more in another (safe) investment. 

On the other hand,  if it's because your cash flow doesn't allow you any flexibility and that you don't have anything aside should things go a little unexpectedly,  then you may want to seriously consider all the ramifications of the deal you are considering.

Your business' cash flow's growth stage.

Is your business bringing you comfortable and predictable income  which you are looking to invest or would spending an important part of your income hinder any growth possibility for the near future ?

Will you be able to afford any substantial and sometimes unexpected expense should you have to do unexpected maintenance on your building?

Usually,  a commercial property will require a 15 cash down which,  in some cases,  can end up being a lot of  money.

Don't forget you also have to factor in the price of insurances, taxes and legal fees.  Due to the importance of the figures involved in most commercial real estate transactions, I recommend you surround yourself  with adequate representation meaning:  a real estate agent with experience and a positive track record as well as financial and legal advisers.

Examining the tax perspective.

Since I'm not a CPA and that all situations are unique,  I strongly suggest you meet with a competent financial advisor who will help you evaluate your particular situation.

For now, keep in mind that in most situations, you will be able to use some of your expenses as depreciations to reduce your taxes or some of the rent as a personal income.

You make your money when you buy, not when you sell.

One last but extremely important factor to consider before making your decision is that you make your money when you buy but realize it when you sell.

Paying more than the fair market value,  not taking into consideration your cash flow factors (mortgage, interest rates, insurance, taxes and repairs VS incoming rent, other income possibilities such as parking for example) or letting your feelings dictate a purchasing decision may negatively affect your exit strategy for year if you are not careful.

Though appreciation is quite probable, we suggest you don't factor it in when crunching your numbers:  if the deal is still a good deal without factoring in appreciation,  you are likely to make a favorable ROI (return on investment) when you decide it's time to go for your exit strategy.

If you absolutely need appreciation to justify your purchase,  be extremely careful as no one really knows what will happen in the future and, in the present, you may be paying too much.

Discuss the situation with a real estate agent know for his or her integrity such as Anne-Marie Perno from

What you should remember.

So we looked briefly at the different aspects of buying a commercial property.  Remember the advantages of being a landlord are:
?    Choices
?    Equity
?    Appreciation
?    Power

?    Make sure you carefully evaluate your future cash flow.
?    Purchasing the property won't hinder your growth strategy.
?    You can afford unexpected and sometimes quite expensive repairs should they                  be needed.
?    You can afford the cash down.

?    Get advice from a professional financial advisor about your tax situation.
?    Get advice from a professional law adviser.
?    Get advice from a professional real estate adviser.
?    Avoid free advice as it often end up being the most expensive kind.

?    Evaluate the building's cash flow.
?    Make sure the purchase makes sense even without appreciation.
?    Find a reputable real estate specialist.

Saturday, 20 February 2010

Advertising Your Home

Have you ever wondered why that beautiful and well-kept house at the corner is still up for sale after almost six months? You’ve been there, asked around (no murders there), found the price reasonable, and yet … they have not received an offer to sell. You look around, and you notice nothing.

A house, no matter how beautiful or how ideal it is, will definitely not sell if it is not properly advertised. If you are selling your home through an Agent, the Agency will handle most (if not all) of the advertising and marketing needed to sell your home. If you are doing everything by yourself, you have to make sure that no stone is left unturned. This doesn’t mean that you have to spend an entire fortune on advertising alone; you just have to know which advertising methods will bring the maximum media mileage for your property at a cost that is agreeable to you.

The easiest and most economical way of advertising your house is to put up a “For Sale” sign in your yard and putting up posters in areas that generate a high volume of foot traffic (supermarkets, post office, etc). However, even if you put several posters in several key places, you will most likely, not reach the right market. Mind you, there is a chance that you will, but it will be very small.

Putting up an on-line ad is another fast, easy and fairly economical way of marketing your home. For a small amount, your home and some photos can be uploaded onto the World Wide Web for a specific amount of time for everyone to see. Unfortunately, since it is available on the net, you are most likely to attract a wide range of people. It may take time before you can sift through all the inquiries your ad has generated.

Placing an advertisement in a newspaper or a magazine that specifically dedicated to homes may be old fashioned, but it still is still one of the most effective ways of marketing your home. You have the option of putting a photo and you can lure buyers in by writing an interesting description about your home its features and amenities.

You are not limited to just one form of advertising method. You can use just one kind, or all three. It really depends on you and your budget. In addition to the marketing effort, you should also prepare a Fact Sheet about your home. The fact sheet should contain all the pertinent details about your home. Don’t just put the number of rooms and toilets in your abode; make sure that you include the year the home was built, and the year when the last renovation was made.

Friday, 19 February 2010

Apartments, One Man's Dream Is Another's Nightmare

Apartments. Usually somebody's first home after getting married. Can't really say they're relatively cheap anymore. Depending on where you live, apartments can run you anywhere from several hundred to several thousand dollars a month.

So what does one do when looking for an apartment? Believe it or not, there are many different types, styles, and pay plans involved. We'll try to cover the basic types in this article and what you can expect to find with each.

Starting off small there is your basic studio apartment. A studio apartment is usually 1 room with a kitchen and bath. Let's first off define what a room is when getting an apartment. A room is any room other than your kitchen and bath. Bathrooms do not count as rooms at all because they are required by law. Kitchens are a little different. Most walk in kitchens are considered a half a room. If the kitchen is simply an area in the apartment that is not cut off from the other rooms then it is not counted as a room. So a studio 1 room would have a kitchen area that's part of the 1 room, meaning it probably comes with just a refrigerator and a stove and sink. A studio 1 1/2 room would have a kitchen that is actually separated from the rest of the apartment by a wall and has a doorway. Most studio apartments are 1 room.

Studio apartments, contrary to what most people think, are not cheap. A studio in New York City can cost you $1000 a month. In some areas you can get a studio for about $500.

Then there are your basic apartments that are normally 3 or 4 rooms.

A three room apartment has a living room, dining area and 1 bedroom. Again, the difference between a 3 and a 3 1/2 room is the kitchen being either part of one of the rooms or cut off.

A four room apartment usually has a living room, dining area and 2 bedrooms. If a family needs a third bedroom the dining area is usually converted. The problem with dining areas is that they don't normally have doors to separate them from the other rooms. So to ensure privacy some kind of sliding door is usually installed. Actually most 4 room apartments, because of the extra room are really 4 1/2 rooms because in almost all cases the kitchen is cut off from the other rooms.

In apartments there is seldom a basement. Most apartments are assigned a basement area in a main basement used for the entire complex. In some cases each apartment section or group of apartments has a basement nearby.

Aside from the number of rooms there is also the issue of layout. Most apartments are single level, meaning all the rooms are on one floor. But in some cases there are apartment complexes that are what they call duplexes. These are two apartments side by side in each complex and each apartment is two floors as opposed to the 4 apartment complexes where each apartment is on a single level. In two level apartments the living room and dining area are usually downstairs with the bedrooms upstairs. Most two level apartments are 4 1/2 rooms.

Then there is the issue of what services come with the apartment and what services have to be paid for separately.

In some apartments your gas and electricity and water utilities are included in the cost of the rent. In other apartments only the water is paid for and your gas and electric are paid to your local public service company. Some apartments don't cover any of your costs. So when you get an apartment make sure you find out just what your rent covers. The reason for this is that an apartment for $900 a month with all utilities paid may actually be a better deal than an apartment for $750 a month if the latter apartment doesn't include any utilities at all.

Finally, in securing an apartment many require a security deposit equal to the rent of the apartment. Some require one month security and some require two months. This is paid back to you when your lease expires if you decide to leave. Breaking a lease will usually mean forfeiture of your deposit.

Which brings us to apartment rules. This is why there is nothing like owning your own home. Most apartments allow no pets. Playing music after a certain hour will bring complaints from your neighbors. The list goes on and on but I'm sure you get the point. Your freedom to do what you want in an apartment is limited.

Some people love the idea of not having to worry about repairs, as the super usually takes care of that, and live in apartments their whole life. Others can't wait until they can get into their own home. That's the wonderful thing about this world. One man's dream is another man's nightmare.

Thursday, 18 February 2010

Appealing Business Personal Property Tax Assessments in Texas

"Collecting more taxes than is necessary is legalized robbery." These words of wisdom, spoken by the 13th president of the United States, Calvin Coolidge, still ring true in today's society for homeowners and business owners. Robbery may seem like a harsh word, but what would you say if someone tried to sell you one-year-old motel sheets for 90% of the original cost? Based on the appraisal district's depreciation schedule, this is a fair deal.

Most people would not consider this a fair deal and either reject the offer or request a lower price. This should be the same thought process when the appraisal district overassesses your business personal property (BPP). Texas law requires business owners to report BPP, personal property used for the production of income, to the appraisal district for assessment and taxation. Although there are no criminal penalties for not complying with the law, there is a penalty of 10% of the taxes. For example, if you have a BPP account assessed for $100,000, your annual BPP taxes are $3,000, based on a 3% tax rate. The 10% penalty for this BPP account would be $300 ($3,000 times 10% equals $300).

The huge range of assessed value for business personal property (BPP) makes obtaining substantial property tax reductions highly probable. It is not unusual for the range of assessed value for BPP accounts for similar properties to vary by 5,000%! For example, furniture and computers for companies within the same office building sometimes vary from $1 to $50 per square foot. Market value and unequal appraisal are two options for appealing BPP assessments. Given the inequity in BPP assessments and the subjectivity of valuing BPP, property owners have a high probability of success when properly prepared for a BPP assessment appeal. Protest both market value and unequal appraisal.

How to appeal?

To appeal your BPP, you can either use the Comptroller's form, or send a letter to the appraisal review board (ARB) on or before May 31st of each year. The protest letter to the ARB should identify the property and the reason for your protest (section 41.44d of the Texas Property Tax Code).


·    Since the appraisal district's staff tends to become more motivated to resolve appeals later in the season versus earlier in the season, it is better to appeal or protest on May 31st or shortly before the deadline date.
·    Even if you do not receive a notice of assessed value for your BPP account, it is still important to send a written notice of appeal or protest. The appraisal district does not have to send a notice of your assessed value if the value does not change by more than $1,000. If the notice of assessed value gets lost in the mail, and you do not send a protest notice, you lose your right to appeal for the current year.
When sending a notice of appeal to the ARB, also send the appraisal district a House Bill 201 request. House Bill 201 refers to section 41.461 of the Texas Property Tax Code that allows property owners to obtain a copy of any evidence the appraisal district plans to use at the ARB hearing 14 days before the hearing. This request prohibits the appraisal district from using any information that was not provided to the property owner 14 days before the ARB hearing.

Market Value, Book Value & Comptroller Schedule

Three popular options for describing value for BPP are: market value, book value, and the Comptroller's schedule. Market value is defined in section 1.04(7) of the Texas Property Tax Code that reads as follows:

"Market value" means the price at which a property would transfer for cash or its equivalent under prevailing market conditions if:

(a) exposed for sale in the open market with a reasonable time for the seller to find a purchaser,
(b) Both the seller and the purchaser know of all the uses and purposes to which the property is adapted and for which it is capable of being used and of the enforceable restrictions on its use, and
(c) Both the seller and the purchaser seek to maximize their gains and neither is in a position to take advantage of the exigencies of the other.

Let's compare the differences in value resulting from using market value, book value and the Comptroller's schedule. The BPP for a typical motel room includes items such as bedding, linens, window air-conditioning unit, towels and a television. Based on market value, after one year, these types of items could probably only be sold for 10% to 30% of the original cost. Book value, based on federal depreciation schedules, indicates a value of 80% of the purchase price after one year. The Texas Comptroller's schedule for BPP for motels has an eight-year life with 10% depreciation for the first seven years. Hence, the Comptroller schedule indicates one-year old hotel furnishings are worth 90% of their original purchase price. This is clearly inconsistent with market value for these items.


There are a number of controversial issues related to how inventory is assessed. These include shrinkage, damage, functional obsolescence and economic obsolescence. For example, what is the market value of merchandise returned during the week after Christmas on January 1st (the effective date for valuation)? Since returned merchandise has usually been opened, damaged, missing parts or may be an unpopular item, it is worth less than cost in many cases. Market value is relevant in determining the assessed value for inventory for Texas BPP taxes.

Preparing A Summary For Your Hearing

 The appraisal district would prefer to see a fixed asset listing, which includes the original cost and date of acquisition for every asset purchased. However, a fixed asset listing is not required. This is good news for small businesses that do not maintain a fixed asset listing.

Unequal appraisal

Assessed values for BPP accounts often range from ten-times to fifty-times on a per square foot basis for companies in the same industry. For example, real estate brokerage offices, which have 10,000 square feet of office space, may have assessments ranging from $10,000-$500,000. It seems unlikely that the computers and furniture in one brokerage office are 50 times as valuable as those in a competitor's firm on a per square foot basis.

Appraisal districts tend to accept the assessed value rendered by property owners. Many large companies render using fixed asset listings. Appraisal districts use the cost basis information and the Comptroller's schedule to calculate the "market value" for property. The valuations for these rendered accounts tend to grossly distort the actual value of these properties. Property owners who do not render have values on the lower end of the range of value. While it seems intuitive that appraisal districts would penalize owners who do not render by sharply increasing their assessed values, the practice is the opposite. Appraisal districts tend to reward property owners who do not render by leaving their assessed values at modest levels. This creates a disincentive to render. It also unequally taxes property owners who render with a fixed asset listing. These factors have caused a high degree of dispersion in BPP assessed values.

How To Appeal On Unequal Appraisal

Contrary to popular belief, it is possible to appeal BPP utilizing unequal appraisal, a concept that is fairly new. Most property tax consultants and large property owners have not considered or utilized unequal appraisal regarding BPP. Appraisal districts are resistant to the concept of appealing BPP based on unequal appraisal. (It is inappropriate to tax property owners who render using a fixed asset listing at the highest level, based on utilizing the Comptroller schedule, when allowing property owners who do not render very lean levels of assessment.)

Preparing an appeal based on unequal appraisal for BPP is simple and straightforward. Start by obtaining information on the assessed value, and amount of office space/manufacturing or warehouse space for property owners similar to the subject property owner. This is typically done by using companies with the same Standard Industrial Code (SIC) as the subject property owner. You can obtain this information by sending an open records request to the appraisal district. When appealing, research the assessed value for your competitors. Compile data regarding the assessed value and building area for the subject and comparable accounts into a summary:
When should you appeal?

Appeal annually on market value and unequal appraisal. To effectively appeal on these two options, research unequal appraisal based on assessment comparables on the appraisal district's web site and evaluate the market value of your BPP. After reviewing both the unequal appraisal and market value options, determine your primary focus for appealing your BPP account. If neither market value nor unequal appraisal provides a basis for appealing your property taxes, you can withdraw the notice of protest or just skip the hearing.

Tips for your hearing (Informal & ARB)

Informal hearing

·    First meet with the appraiser and politely explain the basis for your adjustment. Give the appraiser a copy of your evidence and explain it in a methodical way.
·    The appraiser will review your information and the information he/she has available, and will then likely make an offer to settle. Consider the appraiser's offer and explain why your evidence is better than his/her evidence, and again request your value or a value between your value and his/her value.
·    You will quickly learn the lowest value the appraiser is willing to accept. At this point, you need to either agree to that value or proceed to the Appraisal Review Board (ARB) hearing.
·    If you settle the appeal at the informal level, you will not be able to pursue an ARB hearing or a judicial appeal. However, it does resolve the issue in a timely manner.

ARB hearing

·    Introduction of the two parties at the hearing
·    Explanation of the hearing process
·    Property description (address any errors in the description of your property after the appraiser's description of your property)
·    Property owner presentation
·    Questions from the ARB panel members
·    Appraisal district presentation
·    Rebuttal and closing evidence from the property owner
·    ARB announces its decision

Summary Points

·    Annual appeals will minimize your BPP property taxes.
·    There are huge differences between the market value estimated by the Comptroller's schedule and actual market value.
·    Based on excessive assessments for BPP for companies who render using a fixed asset listing, a low percentage of property owners who render and the low assessed values for property owners who do not render, there are rich opportunities for appealing BPP by using unequal appraisal.

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Apartment Locators

When you do a search on a Search Engine for "apartments" you are going to come across two types of Website resources; apartment locator sites and apartment database sites. Which is the best for you? Well, that depends on what your needs and circumstances dictate. It also has a great deal to do with your privacy comfort level.

The Apartment Locator Site:

If you are relocating to an area of the country that is totally new for you, someplace where you are unfamiliar with neighborhoods, schools, job centers, transportation, etc., then the apartment locator may be your best choice. These folks respond to your query by making telephone contact with you. You will describe your circumstances, needs, budget and other preferences. The apartment locator is usually extremely knowledgeable about the area and the local rental market. They will be quite helpful in finding you rental accommodations that suit your particular needs. In most cases, this will be a totally free service. The apartment locator is normally paid a commission or “finder’s fee” from the landlord or rental agent. With regard to your privacy, however, keep in mind that you are required to share your telephone number with the apartment locator and be open to the idea of personal contact. You need to decide if, or how much, that is acceptable to your sense of privacy.

The Apartment Database Site:

Unlike apartment locators, apartment database sites offer a broad selection of on-line apartment listings. They give you intricate descriptions of apartment complexes including, but not limited to, maps, amenities, rent ranges, contact information, etc. Pictures of the apartment units, inside and out, are usually included. An excellent amount of data helps you decide if any particular rental unit meets your needs and satisfaction. When you are moving to an apartment that is located within your present living area or when you are relocating to an area that you are totally familiar with, an apartment database site might be the one for you. Most require a simple registration process which usually asks for name and email address. You need not submit your telephone number and you will not be contacted personally by anyone. Like the apartment locator, most apartment database sites are free to you. Sometimes you are even offered a bonus of $100.00 or more if you list their site as your referring source when you sign your apartment lease.

So, which is better for you, the apartment locator site or the apartment database site? The answer to that question is answered by your own unique needs, desires, situation and limits of personal privacy.

Good luck on your apartment search and good luck in your new apartment.

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Arkansas Real Estate - Forget the Rat Race

Arkansas is a state that harkens back to a more relaxed time of life in our country. If you’re tired of hearing 90 cell phones ringing, moving to Arkansas may be the answer.


Unlike many states, Arkansas has made a concerted effort to protect and maintain its past. It is equally protective of its small, rural town heritage with even the biggest cities feeling like friendly, uncluttered towns. If playing in the great outdoors is your idea of a good time, Arkansas offers scenic mountains, rivers, forests in which you can play to your hearts desire.

Little Rock

The undisputed population center of Arkansas, Little Rock is named after…a little rock. This unpretentious title reflects the nature and attitude of the city, to wit, laid back and relaxed is the central theme. For families, Little Rock is a very attractive city as there is a strong emphasis on kids throughout the city. From the riverfront park to museums tailored to the interest of the children, it all seems to be about kids.

Eureka Springs

When it comes to weddings, Eureka Springs is the Las Vegas of Arkansas. A picturesque town in the northwest of the state, the town started as a health center and evolved into the must visit tourist destination of Arkansas. Surrounded by forests and natural mineral springs, the architectural style is decidedly Victorian. When people mention the Ozarks, this is the place they are talking about. A charming town that gets a 10 out of 10 rating as one of the best small towns to live in.

Hot Springs

Roughly a 45-minute car ride south of Little Rock, Hot Springs is a great destination for spa enthusiasts. Wedged into the Zig Zag mountains, the town is ripe with thermal mineral springs. This, of course, has led entrepreneurs to open spas of all sorts. The forest of the Hot Springs National Park engulfs the town. The architectural style is predominantly brick-oriented with many of the older spas have a healthy dose of marble thrown in.

Arkansas Real Estate

Arkansas real estate prices are as relaxed as the state. On average, a home in Little Rock will set you back $180,000, while you’ll need to pay about $50,000 more for homes in Eureka Springs and Hot Springs. For 2005, Arkansas real estate appreciated at a rate of a little more than eight percent.

Monday, 15 February 2010

Assembling your Real Estate Investing Team

There are several important things you need to be successful in <a href="">real estate investing</a>, one of which is a great team. I'm going to talk briefly about who should be on the winning team:

1. <span style="font-weight:bold">Your Mentor</span> - every successful entrepreneur needs a good mentor. A guide. By training under the watchful eye of one smarter then us, we can only get smarter. Start at your local investment club

2. <span style="font-weight:bold">Mortgage Broker</span> - you want someone who has the experience of working with other investors. They need to be creative and smart!

3. <span style="font-weight:bold">Real Estate Attorney</span> - it is really important to have someone on the team who can go through contracts, and who knows the legalities of all your moves.

4. <span style="font-weight:bold">Escrow Officer or Title Rep</span> - having a good one on the team helps to close deals that much quicker. You always want people looking out for YOUR interests.

5. <span style="font-weight:bold">Accountant</span> - Preferably a CPA (Certified Public Accountant). Your numbers guy should also be well aware of the ins and outs of real estate. Come tax time, this is the man to help you through the write-offs!

6. <span style="font-weight:bold">Insurance Agent</span> - It is always better having an insurance rep that is looking out for you when things hit the fan.

7. <span style="font-weight:bold">Contractor</span> - The good contractor seems like the hardest one to find, but can often make or break your profit margin. You want someone who gets things done on time and under budget!

8. <span style="font-weight:bold">Supportive Family & Friends</span> - Having the support and backing of loved ones is important in any endeavor.

Other Optional Team Members:

9. <span style="font-weight:bold">Realtor</span> - someone keeping an eye out for you

10. <span style="font-weight:bold">Property Manager</span> - someone to watch over your investments

11. <span style="font-weight:bold">Great Handyman</span> - Someone to take care of the little things that come up on a daily basis.

Assembling the team will not happen overnight, but once together, they will give you the backing and help you'll need to make your real estate investing dreams come true.

Sunday, 14 February 2010

Be Careful and Diligent When Leasing Your Real Estate to the Government

The general services administration (GSA) leases more than 150 million square feet of space from private building owners in over 2000 communities.  This makes them an extremely important player in the real estate community. Because of the unique terms and conditions contained in government releases, buyers of office buildings where the government is already a tenant basis the learning curve.

The number of potential conflicts between building owner and government tenant increase as the square footage under lease increases. Some investors assume wrongly that entering into lease agreement with the government is the same as a standard commercial lease.

The examples below the list rate some of the many unique terms and conditions in government leases back and have a big financial impact:

They use a standard tax escalation clauses stating that the amount of any increase in taxes about the first fully assessed year will be paid in a lump sum payment. Yet buried in the contract is a clause that requires the lessor to submit the tax escalation claim within 60 days of the tax payment date. If they miss the deadline, the lessor forfeits the entire escalation. 

When they want to make alterations to a space, the GSA may ask building owners to sign a “waiter of restoration” clause, stating that when the lease ends, it won’t be required to restore the space to its original condition.  Some owners think that by refusing to sign the waiver, they stop any alterations. But in a standard lease, there is a clause that allows alterations to take place.  The protections for owners lie in the fact that, by refusing to sign the waiver, they may be able to force a restoration when the government tenant moves out.  Keeping good records is critical for this.

Conflicts occasionally occur, and when they do, there’s another interesting clause that comes into play.  The day contract disputes that clause outlines procedures to follow its owners have a disagreement with the government they can’t resolve through negotiations. It allows of building owners to submit a claim against the government by simply writing a letter to the government contracting officer outlining the basis for the claim and the amount.  The government contracting officer can then either negotiate, pay the client, or issue a denial of claim.  The denial of clay is in the form of a “final decision” which is misleading because the decision is not final. If the owner doesn’t agree with what the contract in officer decides he can appeal to a board of contract appeals which renders unbiased decisions. This is all done simply by mailing a letter.

Ultimately, there could things and bad things associated with government leases. To avoid any unpleasant surprises, owner should do their homework and understand their options in the event of conflicts.

Saturday, 13 February 2010

Being Comfortable With Your Home Purchase

Let's get down to brass tacks with the home buying process. You as a buyer are spending a lot of money and have the right to be comfortable and happy with your purchase right? Of course you do. So essentially the question is what needs to be done in order to ensure that this is so? Well, probably the most important things is communication. It's a good idea to remember that your realtor is there for more than simply helping with some contracts. Your realtor is your info source of information on anything that you might not know or be familiar with. The more you communicate with your realtor the smoother this process will be.

Another way to ensure that you are completely happy with the home that you have bought is to never settle for anything less than what you need. This happens a lot when buyers are too eager to purchase quickly and in that quickness, things get overlooked. Remember that this is going to be your home, take the time to learn everything you can about the home in question. Does it have enough room for you and your family? Is there some extra room in case your family grows? Forward planning is an essential part of buying a home, and should never be overlooked.

When everything is said and done you should be left feeling like you have made the most intelligent purchase of your life. You should also have a financial arrangement that fits your lifestyle and payment abilities. In order to make this happen you need to be in complete control of your financial life, you should have your credit completely sorted out and dealt with so that there are no bridges that have to be crossed in order to secure the necessary funds for the purchase. Follow the advice of your realtor and the process should be a lot more fun than it is stressful.

Friday, 12 February 2010

Attention: Sir/Madam... I'd Like to Scam You

Many people have heard of the "419" scams. The term "419" comes from the Nigerian penal code section of that designation that deals with fraud. Despite a widespread belief that the people who get taken by these scams are greedy and stupid, many are not so. Many believe they are donating to distressed individuals and/or charities. These scams have spread into real estate as well, targeting house sellers and real estate agents.

The scam usually opens with a bait letter, assuring the recipient that the person contacting them is a) a widow whose husband left her millions that she cannot safely access due to her evil family, b) a high-ranking military official seeking to move money out of the control of their oppressive governmental regime, c) a representative of a mysterious person high up in the government, or d) a person interested in an item that the person is selling or representing.

If the target responds to the letter, the scammer usually replies with thanks and asks for personal information. Often this includes a bank account number, but this is not, as some people think, how the target is scammed. It is used as a gauge to determine if the target is likely to give money in order to pay "processing fees" or other mysterious charges. Scammers will also provide scans of documents that look legitimate. Many can be - stolen from other people or digitally altered. If called on discrepancies, the scammer will blame poor computer equipment.

In nearly all these scams, urgency and confidentiality are emphasized. The scammer doesn't want their victim to seek outside aid or take time to think things over. They are depending on the "get it now or you never will!" feeling to encourage the victim to send the money - usually through Western Union or some other money wire transfer company. Once the money is picked up, the person who sent it has no way to get it back.

An example of a real estate related scam:

You get an unsolicited email from someone claiming to be interested in your house. They will send you a large check, many thousands of dollars over the amount you are asking for the property. They then want you to refund the extra money. Or they say that there are "fees" that the seller must pay in their country. In any case, you have to send the money now, Now, NOW because the person interested in your house needs the money to a) come to America b) pay for their cancer operation or c) take their sick mother to the hospital. Sometimes, if you balk at sending a complete stranger thousands of dollars, they may threaten you with "legal action" or embroider the sob story to the point where their sick mother is suffering from cancer, AIDS, measles and ingrown toenails all at the same time.

Real estate transactions are only one of the targets of scammers. The scammer is not interested in your house; s/he only is interested in the money you can send to finance whatever spurious fees are claimed to be involved with the transaction. Don't send anyone any money or cash checks that are sent to you from an unverified institution or individual. Consult with a real estate professional for advice on how to handle offers via the Internet. Since many people use the Internet to inquire about houses, prices, etc., an email query may be legitimate. Just make sure that the person is legitimate before pursuing a financial transaction.

Thursday, 11 February 2010

Bakersfield California Real Estate

Bakersfield, California, is located in Kern County, 100 miles NW of Los Angeles, California. Bakersfield has a population of 247,057. It has become a popular place for visitors en route to and from Las Vegas and Los Angeles, who stop for outdoor adventures such as whitewater rafting on the Kern River or hot air ballooning over the San Joaquin Valley.

Agriculture is king in Bakersfield. The region grows over 250 types of crops, with about 30 types of fruits and nuts, 40 types of vegetables, and over 20 field crops. Lumber, livestock, poultry and dairy products are also big industries here. The area is also home to the California State University, and Bakersfield College, and numerous museums and galleries.

Bakersfield Homes

Bakersfield properties pool is 83,428 residential properties including Bakersfield new homes. The median age of real estate in Bakersfield is 1979. The average household size is 3.41 people. 3% are one bedroom homes, 14% are 2 bedroom homes, 56% are 3 bedroom homes, 22% are 4 bedroom homes, and 2% are 5+ bedroom homes.

Bakersfield Mortgage Statistics

Homes With No Mortgage 18%
Homes With Mortgage 82%
First Mortgage Only 63%
First & Second Mortgage or HELOC 19%

Bakersfield Area Real Estate Tax

Bakersfield Real estate Tax: Median Real Estate Taxes (2000) were $1,422 comparing to 1999 Median Family income $ 45,556. Compare to USA median yearly Real Estate Tax $1,300 and USA median Family Income $42,000 (1999).

Bakersfield School District: Children make up 32.7% of Bakersfield population. Bakersfield has 80,683 under 18 years old residents, or 0.81 kids per one worker, or 0.97 kids per one household.

Bakersfield Real Estate & Bakersfield Homeownership

There are 18354.16 or 22% one person households, 23359.84 or 28% two person households, and 14182.76 or 17% three person households in Bakersfield, California. Median residents age is 30.1, Senior citizens (65+) make up 21,681 or 8.8%% of Bakersfield population.

There are 99,769 workers (over 16 years of age) in Bakersfield. Of these, 92.68% drive to work. Approximately 1.73% of workers in Bakersfield take public transportation. An estimated 1.32% walk to work.

Median Bakersfield homeowner's housing expenses are 22%

Crime in Bakersfield (2003), crimes per 10,000 residents per year
Violent Crimes 61.28
Robberies 17.77
Aggravated Assaults 40.88
Property Crimes 570.8
Burglaries  109
Larceny-Thefts 381.09
Motor Vehicle Thefts 80.71

Invest in Bakersfield Properties

When making a decision about buying real estate in Bakersfield California area, you should consider the following statistical data:
Near Medium City         
Near Large City  Los Angeles, California
Bakersfield Zip Codes  93301, 93304, 93305, 93306, 93307, 93308, 93309, 93311, 93312, 93313, 93314
Bakersfield Area Codes 661
White population  61.87%
African-American population 9.16%
Asian  4.33%
American Indian & Alaskan
Hispanic (of any race) 32.45%
Median Family Income (1999)  $ 45,556%
Population Below Poverty Level  17.72%

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Beware of Being Fooled By Home Staging

According to a report just out, it is too easy to be fooled by home staging. Home staging is a term that we are gradually becoming familiar with. It is the idea that we try to create the best impression of our home when selling the house. It used to be just run the vacuum over it and do the dishes but nowadays there is a whole set of rules to follow!

The idea is, that a staged home stands out from all the others and therefore gets sold more quickly. It certainly can be carried to extremes with reports of sellers hiring storage units to cart their junk off to. Larger items of furniture are encouraged to be put into storage by professional 'home stagers' so that the house looks bigger and more spacious

Another instruction is to remove anything personal like photographs, so that the prospective buyer can visualize the house as their own. Closets are de-cluttered so that they look more spacious and all bathroom paraphernalia is supposed to be gone from the counter top! Garbage bins are even removed and hidden from sight.

However it has been suggested that home staging can also be deliberately used to hide a multitude of sins!

The National Association of Exclusive Buyer Agents (NAEBA, who solely represent buyers in the realty business) has suggested that as much as 82% of buyers are sidetracked from the important issues by a well-staged house. This organization also concedes that home staging nets more cash and faster sales - so it works!

Some of the underhand tricks used in staging can include using smaller furniture to make a room look larger, placing rugs over damaged parts of the floor, or using curtains to hide rotting sills. Also specified is the practice of putting a cheap paint job on to cover defects. Your realtor is legally obligated to let you know of any defects, but only if he actually knows about them!

Buyers are urged by the NAEBA to be cautious and to remember that when the house is sold, the stage is taken away. The tricks of home staging do not improve the floor plan, or the square footage of the home or the quality of the neighborhood, and these are the qualities that you will be re-selling at a later date.

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Buy Or Rent?

Should you buy or rent? It depends on your circumstances, and the real estate market where you are going to live. Years ago, I sold a home for a young couple who owed almost as much as the sales price on their house. They needed to take money from savings to pay the closing costs and sales commission. You can bet that they wished they had rented for the couple years they lived there.

This brings up the first thing to consider when comparing buying versus renting: the amount of time you'll be there. Buying and later selling a home will usually cost about 10% or more of the value of the home. These costs mean that if the home only went up in value 10% or so in the year or two you lived there, you won't be gaining anything (equity gain from principal pay-down is very little in the first years). You'll often be better off renting if you'll be in a town for less than a few years.

What about towns with faster rates of appreciation? Have you done some serious homework? If not, to assume appreciation will be more than the rate of inflation is just gambling. The sellers in the example above sold for the same price they bought the house for two years earlier - and this was in a decent and growing area. You can't count on fast appreciation just because it has been that way recently.

<b>To Buy Or Rent - Cost Comparison</b>

Looking at buying versus renting, you have to take into account that in many places it cost much more to buy. In Tucson, Arizona, for example, a small home can cost $200,000. The mortgage payment, taxes, insurance and maintenance will add up to about $1,600 per month, but you can rent the same size home for about $800.

What does that mean? Many real estate fanatics will say you're at least buying something for your money, and renting is throwing your money away. Of course in this example more than $1,000 of your payment will be going towards interest alone, and that's not buying you anything.

Suppose you can afford the $1600 per month, but instead you rent for $800 and put the other $800 into a decent safe investment that makes you 5%? In three years you'll have over $30,000 in this account. If the home appreciated at 6% per year (it has been more like 25% per year recently, but that can't continue, and assuming so is not planning, but gambling), it would be worth $231,000. The costs of initially buying it and then selling it would be around $13,800 (2% buying and 6% selling), leaving you with a gain of about 19,000 once we include your principal pay-down.

In other words, you would be at least $11,000 better off if you rented and banked the difference. Every market is different, of course, so you have to do the math. Compare the total costs of owning versus renting, and then make safe assumptions about the rate of appreciation for homes.

If you'll definitely be in one place for a long time to come, it will almost always be better to buy than to rent. In the last example, buying becomes a better bet after about four or five years. Also consider that if you get a fixed rate mortgage, your payment will never change, a benefit landlords won't offer you that on your rent payment.

To sum up, look at the time you'll be there, the comparison of total monthly costs, whether rents are going up fast, and whether you have good reason to believe home prices will be going up fast. Then look also at all the personal factors. Do you want to be responsible for the maintenance, yard work and unpredictability of ownership problems?

To buy or to rent? In the end, you have to work this one out by yourself.

Monday, 8 February 2010

Bulgarian Houses Bulgarian Real Estate Your Top Investment

Quest Bulgaria takes a look at the reality of re-sales of property in Bulgaria and how much your property might be worth.

<a href="">Bulgarian Properties</a>

Knight Frank, one of the UK's most respected residential and commercial property consultancies, recently published a report stating that high increases in residential property prices placed Bulgaria in second place in a world table highlighting property price increases during the second quarter of 2007. The report stated prices increased by 27.1%, so does this mean my house is now worth around £44,000 more than it was when I put it on the market at the start of the year? Should I be increasing the price in line with market trends?

A report by another reputable company, real estate consultants, Colliers, reported similar trends in Bulgarian property but focussed more on the fact that it was the number of buildings constructed. The mountain resorts showed 50% increases and the Black Sea coast 39%. How easy it is to read this statement in relation to prices increasing rather than that of the rate of build and to neglect the part of Colliers report, which states that overall sales prices have "remained unchanged for the past half year as supply continues to outpace demand."

<a href="">Bulgarian Houses</a>

The reality of the situation is that most reports measure Bulgaria's property market success in terms of price increases or build rates and neglect the fact that in Bulgaria, the real estate market is unregulated and the seller puts the price tag on their property. The valuation process goes something like this, "Ivan across the road has advertised his house for sale at 20,000 euro, so my house must be worth 30,000 euro because it is bigger."

Another form of valuation has resulted from towns and in particular villages adopting unofficial rates. All it takes is a professional developer to move into the area and the price they charge for their properties, usually a cost per square metre, becomes the official standard.

<a href="">Top Invest</a>

The village of Rogachevo on the Northern Black Sea coast is a prime example. Bulgarian Land Development Plc, a newly incorporated company now listed on the AIM stock market, has started the construction of a six million euro apartment and villa complex just outside of the village. The price of the property in the development ranges from between 750 to 1,200 euro per sq.m. The conclusion amongst people wishing to resell properties in the village is, "my property is now worth at least 750 euros a square metre." The fact that property up for resale may not have the same scenic outlook, modern facilities or luxurious design is irrelevant to the sellers. Bulgarian sellers have little experience of the property market because until a few years ago there was little demand. Consequently, they are unused to working to the laws of supply and demand. Many British sellers, who hail from a mature property market are lost without the skills of a valuer and stamp a price on their resale based on the following equation:

original cost + renovation costs + local market rates +desired profit =resale price

Yet, as everyone who emigrated here on the lure of cheap property and a fast buck now knows, the resale market is slow and underdeveloped. Apartment blocks are shooting up at a rapid pace giving new buyers lots of choice in both price and design. Renovated houses are two a penny and who wants to buy a renovated traditional build in the middle of nowhere, when they have so many well-designed new builds to choose? At the moment, it is safe to say, that in Bulgaria, supply far exceeds demand in terms of land and property.

The picture is not one of doom and gloom, but of caution rather than crash. The market is far from a crash, if it was, you would not see UK currency speculator Joe Lewis, investing 70 million pounds in the Bulgarian property market. And he is not alone, Israeli construction and investment company BSR Europe recently bought around 80,000 sq.m of land in Bulgaria for 37 million euro. Gardens Group is investing 400 million euro in a 600,000 sq.m development Lozen, a village close to Sofia.

A source from Raiffeisen real estates said that most sales over the last 2 years are from re-sale clients. Most of theses people bought land or property, sat on it for at least three years and are now re-selling for profits between 20 and 50%. This is easy to achieve when looking at properties at the low end of the market; recently Raiffeisen sold a property, which the client bought for 10,000 euro and sold for 15,000, but the demand for rural renovation projects has declined. Land re-sales are lucrative if the location is good. Apparently, there is good demand for regulated land, close to the coast. Again, patience is the key. Raiffeisen have dealt with re-sellers who bought land in 2004 at 10 euro per sq.m and sold it in October 2007 for 25 euro per sq.m.

British buyers have a "rising property" mentality. They expect property to increase dramatically in value as it has done over the last seven years in the UK. In this sense, they are not in tune with the rest of Europe; most of mainland Europe look at their property as their home, whereas the British view their property as a way to make money. Their foray into the Bulgarian property market has left many disappointed, because lead on by media hype, they expected the market to earn them vast profits in a short space of time as had happened in the UK. The lack of regulation in the Bulgarian real estate market has meant that the seller is in charge of valuing their own property and often they choose an inflated sales figure rather than checking actual market rates for re-sales.

Property prices have increased in the last two years. Belinda Knowles (42), a trainee solicitor from Dulwich, bought her one-bedroom apartment in Golden Sands resort off-plan for 40,000 euro. It took two years to complete the project and she has just spent her first summer enjoying the fruits of her investment. A one bed roomed apartment in her block now costs 60,000 euro - a staggering growth of 50% - if she could sell her own. "I think the market is inflated by unscrupulous real estate agents. I'm certain that if I put my apartment up for sale at this price I would be left disappointed for two reasons. Why would someone buy my apartment when they can by a brand new one for the same price and if the demand is so great, why haven't all of the apartments been sold?" Fortunately, Belinda bought her apartment as a long-term investment. "I have two teenage children and package holidays abroad were becoming ridiculously expensive. The children are also getting to the age where they would prefer to come on holiday with their friends rather than with me. I wanted to save money in the long-term by having a place abroad that the whole family could use via the low cost airline network and I wanted to be sure that it would be a safe place for my children to stay alone with their friends. Golden Sands is ideal. We get cheap flights with Wizz and British Airways from Gatwick which means we can come over more regularly and the nightclubs here are not filled with drug-taking louts, so I have no qualms about letting my kids go out." She also knows that by the time they have out-grown Bulgaria, the apartment will yield a good return on her investment. "In ten years time, when my children have their own lives and means of support, they may not want to spend their leisure time here. I'm sure that with the rate of investment going into the country at the moment, my apartment will sell at a higher rate than I paid for it and I will have saved money in the long run by not having to fork out for package holiday fees."

Sunday, 7 February 2010

Building Tips For New Homebuyers

The life-changing event of purchasing a new home can be both exciting and overwhelming. With homebuyer horror stories of houses plagued with mold, leaky roofs or worse, it's no wonder some homebuyers get cold feet. Prospective homebuyers can save themselves from headaches by working with their builder on these useful construction do's and don'ts:

&#8226; Help prevent mold before it starts. Ask your builder to use vapor retarders in addition to insulation in your home's walls. Smart vapor retarders like CertainTeed's MemBrain allow wall cavities to "breathe" so excess moisture within the wall can escape. This helps prevent the growth of mold and mildew. Other vapor retarders can trap moisture in your walls, creating an environment that supports mold growth.

&#8226; Work with your builder to ensure that no mechanical equipment, ductwork or plumbing is built into exterior walls, vented attics or vented crawlspaces.

&#8226; Take control of your home's temperature and acoustics by ensuring your contractor insulates with the correct R-value for your region. Regional R-values can be found online at www.certain

&#8226; Windows are often the largest single source of heat loss and heat gain in a home. Select vinyl windows with low-E glass and a high-performance glazing system that reduces heat transmission through the glass.

&#8226; Know what's under your roof. For instance, waterproofing shingle underlayments go under asphalt roof shingles to further protect your home's interior from winter leaks caused by ice dams and wind-driven rain.

Saturday, 6 February 2010

Buy to Let Rental Properties

Condotel Investments in the Philippines, Buy to Let rental properties are now being preferred to failing Pension Plans as more and more Filipinos and Overseas Property Investors look to the future and retirement.

20 Dollars a day for 6 years will buy you a Studio Condotel unit in the Philippines with a projected ROI through rentals of some 500 dollars per month after 3 years. With preconstruction property appreciating at some 20-30% per annum not only does the Real Estate Appreciation look good but the rental income is in excess of what many Pension Plans offer for the same or similar investment.

With many Overseas Filipinos and Offshore Property Investors looking to start saving for retirement, the Philippines with its comparative low cost of real estate yet high rates of Hotel Accommodations, make the Condotel investment an extremely attractive investment proposition.

Beth Collingz, International Marketing Director for PLC Global, a company specializing in Condo Hotel Sales and Investments in the Philippines for the Lancaster Brand of Condotels, said that many new investors are looking to replace failed pension plans and other future saving schemes with a solid investment in Real Estate.

“Many of my clients are looking for investments that will give them an income for retirement as an alternative to traditional private pension plans that have failed. Personally, I have always regarded Pension Plans as a glorified ‘Pyramid Scheme’. Most company pension plans are insufficient as are Government Pensions. Bank rates for Savings accounts are at record lows. Savvy investors are now looking for a more solid investment with potential for monthly income. Condotels in the Philippines fit the bill”

This potential, high rates of rental returns from Condotel Investments, currently from 8% up to 16% per annum, opens up a huge market not traditionally looked at by Real Estate Agents and Brokers whom all so often run around like headless chickens looking for normal residential profile “buyers” without looking at the by far bigger picture of investments, investing and retirement.

“We look at Condotels as pure investments. Not primarily as Real Estate. If you look at the Condo Hotel market as investing for future income, and think outside of the box, it is plain to see that Condotels are not only real estate investments but more importantly income generating property. Think of Condotels as a Managed Pension Plan. After all, Condotel units are fully managed property. The owner of the property does not have the hassle of renting out the unit and contend with all the normal pit falls of being an amateur land lord. This is taken care of by the Condo Hotel Management” said Collingz.

“One of my clients from Chicago, just purchased 4 Studio Condotel Suites at Lancaster – The Atrium Manila which is currently in preconstruction sales. His plan is to retire in the Philippines in 2012, live in one of the Suites and receive the Condotel rental income on the other three. His outlay for the purchase is only around 85 Dollars a day for 6 years by opting to purchase on a 6 year no prequalification, no down payment, no interest payment plan. Even before completing payment for the units, he will be receiving some $1,500 a month in rental income in additional to any Government or Private Company Pension Plan. Better yet, the rental income is in tune with inflation and buying on preconstruction terms gives real estate appreciation of some 60-80% over 3 years. As Hotel Rates increase yearly, so does the rental income”

Foreign Nationals are legally allowed to purchase as much as 40% of the total number of condominium units on the market at any given time. Overseas Filipinos and more and more foreigners are now emerging as a market for condotel units. Many or our clients are coming from different countries like South Korea, Australia, United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia and other parts of the Middle East,” Collingz said.

Lancaster - The Atrium Tower II [which is the second Tower adjacent to the existing “Sold Out” Tower I] is now accepting Reservations for Studio, One, Two & Three Bedroom Suites adopting International Standard Escrow Trust Account “Buyer Safe” Easy Secure Payment Plans… with 6 year interest free payment terms or up to 12 year “In-House” financing available, full condo ownership, no management costs for Condotel Suites and minimum monthly maintenance fees – “You really should take a moment to look at this Philippine Condotel Investment Opportunity” enthused Collingz.

All units at the Lancaster Suites have kitchen facilities. The standard unit price provides for the suite to be finished but not fully furnished. Included in the current price are the interior finishing’s such as tiled & fitted bathrooms, bedrooms with simulated wood plank flooring, living and dining area tiled floorings and lower kitchen cabinets/work tops installed. A complete optional extra interior fit-out package including appliances will be available towards the time the units are closer to being completed towards the latter part of 2009. Monthly condo dues are currently around 80 pesos/square meter of the unit floor area/month..

The Lancaster Atrium Suites are now available on the very affordable and competitive New Payment Plan that provides for Suites to be purchased on a No Interest No Down Payment basis with 67% of the payment payable over 60 equal consecutive monthly installments without interest and the 33% balance payable upon turnover of the unit or to be paid over an additional 5 years from turnover through our hassle free no prequalification “In-House” Finance Plans…

The current selling price [effective March 1, 2007] for the Lancaster Manila Atrium Tower A Tax Exempt Studio Units is Pesos 75,888 or $1,615.00 per sqm. The One Bedroom, Two and Three Bedroom Suites are priced at Pesos 84,994.56 or $1,808.80 per sqm including Government Taxes [R-Vat 12%]. Units may be purchased on a Six Year No Interest Charge Term of payment or longer term “In-House” financing plans. Turnover of units for Tower A will be from December 2009/2010

All payments will be made to the Lancaster Suites Manila Atrium Tower A Equitable PCI Bank Escrow Trust Account. It is anticipated, given the track record on sales of Tower I Units that property appreciation for initial buyers of Tower A Atrium Units will be at least 60-70% on turnover of units.

Beth Collingz

PLC International Marketing Networks

Friday, 5 February 2010

Building a Real Estate Team has been building a real estate mortgage team that works together well and functions efficiently is one of the best tools that you can provide to creating a successful real estate or mortgage company.  Before you begin building a real estate mortgage team, make sure you know all the key players.  1. Originator. 2. Price and place. 3. Processor. 4. Banking products.  Each of these key players must be able to work together, having the same end in mind in order to be successful.  Building a real estate mortgage team can be mutually beneficial to the consumer and to the real estate agent or loan agent.  Once you’ve begun building a real estate mortgage team, keep in mind the goals of that team and the information necessary to keep that team running at peak efficiency.  Make sure that you know the changing mortgage guidelines.  One of the biggest complaints that consumers have about patronage of real estate and loan combinations is that the real estate agents sometimes seem to be in over their head when it comes to mortgage lending.  Keeping your real estate agents in the know when it comes to factors like changing mortgage guidelines, FHA loans, FHA marketing ideas, or federal regulations regarding mortgage interest and processing can go a long way to instilling confidence in the consumer.  Building a real estate mortgage team is only the beginning of the service that you provide to your customer.  Keep your team up to date and educated on the local marketing trends as well as the national market trends.  The more education and specialized knowledge in the fields of real estate and mortgage lending that you have, the more appealing your company will seems to your target audience.  Remember when building a real estate mortgage team that in order to retain your customer base, the customer must feel like your real estate mortgage team has their best interest in mind.  Providing the highest quality service can go a long way to establishing good customer relations which can lead to referrals and a long-term client base or repeat customers.