Wednesday, 31 March 2010

A Beginner's Guide to Real Estate Investing Strategies

If you're thinking about investing in real estate to make money, you need to first determine your financial goals. Do you need to make money quickly, invest for your children's college fund, or build wealth for your retirement? Once you determine your financial goals, you need to decide which type of investing strategy works for you.

<b>Make Money in Real Estate - Fast Cash Strategy</b>

If you're low on cash, get started by finding a bargain house and selling the contract to another real estate investor. Join a real estate investing club to find investors willing to pay you for finding good deals.

<b>Make Money in Real Estate - Income Property Strategy</b>

If you want to increase your monthly income, look for income property that returns a positive net income from month to month. Start with single family house. Look for a bargain below market value. Fix up the house to generate top rental income. Find houses that will rent for more than your mortgage payment. You may need to go out from your home area to a location that supports this type of return on your money. You can't pay $300,000 for a home with a mortgage of $1,500 that only rents for $1,000. You might start with a home for around $300,000 that rents for $1,750. You will need good credit to get a loan with good interest rates. In a few years, your rental income should go up. Many real estate investors enjoy thousands of dollars each month generated by income property.

However, some investors don't like dealing with tenants and prefer to make money in other real estate ventures.

<b>Make Money in Real Estate - Investment Property Strategy</b>

If you want to make money focusing on profits, investment property offers a different strategy. Instead of worrying about rental income, look for property that you can transform and sell or property that will appreciate significantly over time. Besides fixing a house up, you can transform a property by changing it. For instance, some investors buy apartment buildings and turn them into condominiums. Many investors speculate in land and make money by holding the land until new development in the area increases the value.

Examine your financial situation along with your long term goals. You can get started by flipping properties, move onto income properties, and then make larger profits with investment properties. You might end up using a combination of all three strategies to make money investing in real estate.

Copyright © Jeanette J. Fisher

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

A Bit About Mold

There are a number of little things to look out for when purchasing a new home. Normally the things to consider includes such things as location, wiring, the condition of the house itself, and several other factors. One of these factors that the home buying public is becoming more concerned with is mold. There are many different types of mold that can occur in a home and lead not only to structural damage, but some health concerns as well. Mold is difficult to find in many homes as it grows exclusively in dark and moist areas that are usually hidden somewhere in the structural areas of the home such as attics and basements. By the time mold shows up in the actual living areas, chances are that it is all through the home.

One of the most likely places for mold to form is anywhere that moisture is improperly vented. Another area of concern is if a home has ever flooded and was not completely or properly cleaned and dried after. Leaky plumbing and basement crawlspaces are other likely candidates. Mold can be a difficult thing to completely get rid of as the only thing it needs to continue growth is an organic material such as wood, and moisture. Both of these items are usually abundant in any home. The most likely was that moisture finds its way into the home is through faulty or leaky roofs and foundations. Both of these areas should be checked over by an experienced mold inspector on a fairly regular basis if there is any worry of mold beginning to grow, or if these has been mold in the past. Mold can be an expensive problem to deal with so be pro-active about looking for it, it can save you money in the long run.

Monday, 29 March 2010

1031 exchange tax deferred benefits are hard to ignore

Section 1031 of the Internal Revenue Code contains arguably one of the most powerful provisions of the tax code for real estate investors… the 1031 tax exchange.  Many highly successful real estate investors have used this tax code provision in combination with aggressive pyramiding and upgrading strategies to amass huge investment property portfolios.  Here’s how it works:

A Section 1031 Exchange allows you to exchange “like-kind” investment properties without triggering the payment of capital gains tax.  As your property assets appreciate in value you have the ability to upgrade into larger properties with greater cash flow.  Section 1031 also gives you the flexibility to exchange your rental properties that have appreciated in value in hot markets, and re-invest into lesser-known areas that are expected to develop and become the next hot market in years to come.  You can continuously defer these capital gains taxes as you continue to pyramid your property investment portfolio into larger and larger properties.

There are a lot of benefits to considering the use of a 1031 exchange:

The ability to re-invest your entire property equity without tax erosion can significantly enhance the amount of capital that stays invested and can make it easier to upgrade into higher value properties with greater cash flow. 

This decision to upgrade into higher quality properties with greater cash flow can occur faster now that taxes are a lower priority transaction decision.  In some markets the real estate values can get ahead of the available cash flow available from the property.  In these situations it may make sense to lock in your gain and look to re-invest in another property where you can achieve higher cash flow returns.

The ability to speculate on the next hot market area or region is a much easier decision under a 1031 exchange.  Why not lock in your profits on property that has already risen dramatically in value and re-invest it in the next hot market?  As long as your capital gains are deferred making these transaction decisions is easier.

If you are stepping up your portfolio through a series of exchanges over time your full capital gain can be re-invested without tax consequence, resulting in accelerated equity accumulation.

The ability to switch into “like-kind” properties as defined in the tax code gives you a range of investment options and flexibility.  If you don’t want a lot of the headaches associated with managing property you can also consider Tenant in Common exchanges, which do qualify under Section 1031 of the tax code.

1031 tax exchanges gives real estate investors a lot more options and flexibility to make better investment decisions on their real estate holdings without the issue of tax over-riding sound judgment.  If you own a rental property or are considering it you owe it to yourself to see if a 1031 exchange is right for your circumstances.

[ -- You are only permitted to use this article on your website, RSS, and e-zine only if the article links are activated into working hyperlinks at all times.  Sites found violating this reprint condition will be subject to legal action for copyright infringement.  When using this article you may remove this legal notice -- ]

Sunday, 28 March 2010

1031 Exchange Companies

The easiest method to begin a 1031 Exchange transaction is to contact a good Exchange Company. The information concerning the exchanger, time and place of the closings, and a copy of the contract to sell the relinquished property are the preliminary papers to start the process.

From this information, the company makes exchange documents and forwards them to the attorney or customer. The lowest fee charged on a standard deferred exchange is $600.

A 1031 Exchange, like any real estate transaction, involves balancing competing pressures in speed and quality. Therefore, companies in this line recognize pressures and design their service to satisfy both.

Good companies manage all aspects of the exchange. They provide service that is quick, easy to use and backed by experience. In good companies, experienced attorneys are the managers. The senior staff will be rich in experience with regard to investment property transactions. The specialized team of attorneys mainly deals with more complex reverse and build-to-suit exchanges.

The main parameters that distinguish a good and bad exchange company are speed, service and the security they offer the client.  Speed lies in the pace at which the company prepares the document. The documents are then sent to the closing table, allowing the seller to close and proceed with the exchange.  Service is the dexterity in preparing all documents required for the exchange, including reminders of 45 and 180-day time limits and extensive complimentary consultations.

Security comes in the form of an unconditional guarantee on exchange funds from Insurance Companies: high value fidelity bond coverage and Professional Liability insurance cover.

These days, banks are working with Exchange Service providers.  The Cole Taylor Bank of Chicago is one of the largest independent banks in Chicago, and joined hands with Nationwide Exchange Services (NES) of Cupertino in California in a strategic alliance for handling Cole Taylor's tax-deferred 1031 Exchange business.  This Chicago bank specializes in serving the business banking, real estate lending and wealth management of closely-held and family owned small and mid-sized businesses. Cole Taylor Bank is an Equal Housing Lender.

Nationwide Exchange Services is a leading Qualified Intermediary for Tax-Deferred 1031 Exchanges and has conducted thousands of successful 1031 Exchange transactions. It is applying advanced technologies and secure business processes to enhance standards of financial security, visibility and customer service to establish new standards for products and services in 1031 tax-deferred Exchanges.

The alliance enabled the Bank to become part of the NES team and benefited in becoming the primary financial custodian for NES in the Midwest Region. The alliance also helped the bank to offer their customers an expanded set of tax-deferred 1031 Exchange products, such as reverse and build-to-suit exchanges, at the most competitive cost structure.

The systems from NES combined with the bank Cole Taylor's financial security and brand recognition has spurred confidence in the customers.  Collaboratively, they bring distinct advantages to all 1031 customer sets, right commercial developers and corporate entities to individual investors.

Saturday, 27 March 2010

1031 Exchange

Section 1031 in the Internal Revenue Service is a boon for a prospective investor, selling an investment property and wanting to make a profit by reinvesting in a similar property elsewhere in the country. This wonderful concept works on the principle of gain rolling from the old to the new.

There is widespread ignorance on the modalities about this exchange; as a result, 30-40 percent of property owners end paying tax during the sale. Exchange 1031 not only fructifies into essential tax savings, but also makes possible the swapping of property in the fairest manner at places of choice.  No wonder that the 1031 Exchange excites the property market so much.

The new income-generating replacement property gives the investor the double gain of added income and savings from tax that would have otherwise gone to the IRS coffers.

Besides saving the buyer from a huge tax burden coming in the guise of capital gains, the instrument offers maximum immunity and flexibility in reinvesting the money gained from the sale in a replacement property within a given period. 

The exchange being time-bound is no kid’s play either. In every exchange of this kind, Qualified Intermediaries (QI) plays a crucial role connecting the buyer and seller. The Federal Tax Code makes service of QI mandatory since 1991 in any exchange.

The federal nature of the 1031 Exchange regulations make the Qualified Intermediary play a wizard in guiding and structuring the exchange, satisfying all parameters and suiting the goals of the clients. It is the QI who does the paperwork required by the IRS to document the exchange. The QI carefully prepares all documents and serves the parties with copies of the exchange agreement, novation agreement and escrow instructions.

The Exchange Agreement reads like a contract between the Exchanger and a Qualified Intermediary. The Exchanger explicitly agrees to transfer his old property to the Intermediary, in lieu of a new property to be supplied by the latter within 180 days. The contract outlines all terms and conditions under which the exchange of properties should take place.

For a 1031 Exchange to take effect, both the old property as well as the new property should be in the category of investment property, capable of generating income. The examples could be rental property, bare land, vacation homes or more.

As soon as the old property is sold, within 45 days the seller has to come out with a list containing two or three probable properties fit for replacement. And the whole process of purchasing the new property or replacement property from the list must be over in a period of 180 days. 

The exchange becomes bona-fide only when the title stays intact and whosoever held title to the old relinquished property gets the title of the new property.

In between the sale and purchase of property, the seller of the old property would get no access to the money he accrued from the sale, as the money will be vested with the ‘Qualified Intermediary’ till the exchange gets over.

This 1031 Exchange process has matured and had many names in the past including Like Kind Exchange, Deferred or Delayed Exchange, Simultaneous or Concurrent Exchange, Starker Trust or Exchange, Alderson Exchange, Reverse Exchange, Two, Three, or Four Party Exchange and Baird Exchange.

Friday, 26 March 2010

10 Ways to Buy a Home With Little or No Money Down

There are many ways to buy a home, even if you have little or no money to put down. Here are a few of the basics:

1. Sweat Equity

Sweat Equity is a way to get a home by trading work for equity in the house. This could be used for a down payment or for purchase later.  This is a great technique if you are handy with tools, yard-work, and paint.

Look for fixer-uppers in neighborhoods you are interested in. Many times these homes will have a hard time selling and the owner is ready for just about any offer. You will find these houses ranging from just needing a little “cosmetic” work like landscaping or painting, to totally trashed out houses in need of some serious renovation. If you are into repairs, this is a great way to get a home for a good deal.

If you are not skilled at repairs and renovation, be careful about fixer-upper homes. They could end up costing you quite a large amount of money to pay others to fix.

I also recommend getting a home inspection so that you know what exactly you are in for before you begin.

2. Seller Carry-Back

Look for a home with an assumable loan. Instead of buying out the owner's equity, ask the seller to carry back a second mortgage for the rest of the money owed. If you can get the seller to carry all of the rest, you can get the home for no money down.

3. Offer an Object for the Down Payment

 Offer something other than cash (land, a car, a boat, or valuable collectibles) to the seller instead of a cash down payment. This is why it is important to listen to sellers.  Find out what they want and need.  Maybe you have (or can get) just what they need. For instance maybe they wanted to use the down-payment to buy an RV and it turns out that you just happen to have one you don’t need. Offer that vehicle as a down-payment, and it saves you from coming up with the cash.

4. Offer Services for the Down Payment

Offer your services or expertise to the seller in lieu of a down payment. Some examples include $10,000 worth of auto services if you're a mechanic, dental work if you're a dentist, desktop publishing services if you're a designer, artwork if you're an artist or legal work if you're an attorney.

5. Foreclosures

Look for foreclosure properties that require little or no down payment. Some lenders and government agencies will let you buy a foreclosure with no down payment if your credit is good and they're anxious to have the home occupied, or if you have skills (carpentry, landscaping or even painting) that you can use to increase the home's value. Distressed properties - assume with little or no down to save foreclosure.

6. VA or Other No Money Down Loans

 Look for conventional loan programs such as VA or FHA that require little or nothing down.  VA loans have helps countless veterans get into their homes. There are often programs available to first time buyers or people who are distressed (such as with Hurricane Katrina) that will help people get into a home with little money down.  You usually will have to qualify for the loan with the bank, though.

7. Find an Investment Partner for Equity Sharing

Look for an investment partner who'll put up some or all of the cash in an equity-sharing partnership. You make the monthly payments and the two of you split the eventual resale profits.

8. Wrap-Around Financing

Wrap-around financing is where you assume a seller’s VA Loan by doing a new Contract for Deed.  Since this contract is flexible and does not have to follow the old loan, you can ask the seller to carry not only the loan amount, but the rest of the purchase price of the house, letting you get in with little or no money down.

9. Rent-to-Own or Lease-Option

This is really is one of the best ways to get into a home of your own when you can’t get a bank loan.  Remember that you may still have to get a loan down the line.  If you have a lease-option for 5 years, at the end of that time, you will need to purchase the house, so you can use the time to fix your credit, or use one of the other options that are discussed in our book to purchase the house at that time. You can always try to negotiate another 5-year lease-option if you need more time. (For more detailed infomation on lease-options, check out our free ebook, "Buying a Home When You Have Bad Credit" at

10.  Government and Community Down-payment Programs

There are many community and non-profit organization programs out there to help people get into homes of their own. Many of these do no require any money down.

There are some organizations and programs that will pay for some or all of the down payment for you. Generally these are for lower to moderate-income individuals, but these days that includes a lot of people. You also usually have to be able to qualify for an FHA loan (which is somewhat easier than a conventional bank loan.) If you have been unable to get into a home because you don’t have enough money for a down payment, then maybe one of these programs will be for you.

Below is a list of organizations that have down payment assistant programs:

• AmeriDream Inc.

• National Home Foundation

• GiftAmerica Program (GAP)

• The Nehemiah Program

• New Song Down Payment Assistant Program

• Equity Grants

• Realty America

• Homes For All Program

Also check in your local area, because many communities have similar programs of their own.

Thursday, 25 March 2010

10 Ways To Find Investment Properties

If you really want the best deals in investment properties, you have to increase your odds by finding more deals. Who is more likely to get a cheap apartment building, an investor that looks through the MLS listings and calls it a day, or the one that uses ten resources? Here are the ten:

 1. Talk. Let people know you are looking and sometimes the properties will come to you. There are a lot of owners out there who want to sell, but haven't yet listed their property.

 2. Use the internet. Go to a search engine and enter the type of real estate you are looking for, along with the city you want to invest in. You never know what you might find.

 3. Drive around looking for "For Sale By Owner" signs. Owners often don't want to pay to keep the ad in the paper every week, so you won't see all properties there.

 4. Find abandoned properties. That's a pretty clear sign that the owner doesn't want to deal with the property. He might sell cheap.

 5. Find old "For Rent" ads. Call if they are a few weeks old. Landlords are often ready to sell, especially if the haven't yet rented the units out.

 6. Talk to bankers. You might get a foreclosed-on investment property cheaper if you buy it before they list it with a real estate agent.

 7. Offer someone a finder's fee. There are people that always seem to hear about the good deals. Have such people coming to you.

 8. Eviction notices. If your local papers publish eviction notices, or if you can get the information at the courthouse, it can be useful. A landlord who just went through the procees of evicting tenants is a likely seller.

 9. Old FSBO ads. If you call on two-month-old "For sale By Owner" ads, and they haven't sold, they may be ready to deal. Owners often give up the effort, but still would love to sell. Help them out!

 10. Put an ad in the paper. "Looking for investment properties to buy," might be sufficient to generate a few calls.

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

10 Tips to Buy Real Estate Without Breaking Your Budget

1. Get pre-approved for your home loan. This means, fill out a loan application and go through the process of securing financing. That way, when you’re ready to seriously evaluate   real estate, you’ll know exactly how much home you can afford. And you can prove to a seller that your offer is sincere.

2. Explore creative financing options. During the home loan pre-approval process, ask about ways to get creative with your financing. Low down payment options, first and second mortgage combinations and first time buyer programs might help you afford more funding. Many lenders are now offering interest-only home mortgages; just make sure you thoroughly evaluate the terms for this type of home loan. Down payment grants are also available in some instances and might be worth investigating or discussing with your   realtor.

3. Sell your existing home first. Although selling your existing home before finding new   real estate to buy can be a little nerve wracking, any inconvenience will be offset by your ability to make an offer with cash in hand. Contingent purchases are not the best when negotiating to buy a home. Having your financing in order and your bags packed will give you the advantage in a competitive market.

4. Look for vacant real estate. Perhaps a seller’s job has transferred him out of the area. Or maybe a family purchased a new home before putting their existing one on the market. In any case, a vacant home could be just the deal for a savvy home buyer, so have your realtor look for vacant property in your preferred neighborhoods. And keep in mind, the longer a house stays empty, the greater your negotiating power will be.

5. Consider cosmetic fixers. If you’re handy with a paintbrush, a toolset and gardening equipment, consider buying   real estate in need of cosmetic fixing. Property that lacks curb appeal needs minor handiwork or the yard overhauled could end up being the home of your dreams for a price you can afford. You just need to look beyond the ho-hum to see the potential of a cosmetic fixer.

6. Buy a home that’s a major remodel project. If you want to live on Lake Washington, but can’t afford a $2M home mortgage, consider buying a dilapidated cottage on a fabulous lot with western exposure. In time you’ll need to gut the existing home and build from the ground up or contract significant home improvements. But in the end your property value will skyrocket. And if your carpentry and other construction skills are well-developed, you can save even more and accrue “sweat equity” during your remodel by doing much of the work yourself.

7. Don’t discount bank foreclosures. One person’s loss could be your gain if you buy   real estate in foreclosure. Although the search for a decent foreclosure may take a while, your   realtor should be able help. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development ( can be an excellent resource for foreclosed properties. Because HUD houses are sold at market value, your best bet will be homes that need cosmetic work or even major repair.

8. Land with a manufactured home. Sometimes, to buy a home on a budget, you need to look beyond convention. Even if your wish is to buy   real estate, you may have to settle for a piece of property in an outlying area with a mobile or manufactured home. Discuss this option with your   real estate agent and try to keep an open mind about this possibility.

9. An older, smaller home. Older homes are typically priced much less than newer construction and don’t tend to create buyer bidding wars. If you can enjoy life in an older and smaller home in a neighborhood or suburb off the beaten path, this could be your ticket to real estate ownership.

10. The cheapest house in the best neighborhood. You have your heart set on a specific – and expensive –   neighborhood. Maybe it’s the schools that you’re interested in. Or perhaps it’s the close proximity to downtown or the waterfront. In any case, a budget-savvy buyer will look for the least expensive home for sale in the neighborhood. If you’re not in a hurry, you can even play the waiting game to see what properties come on the market. Your   real estate agent can be a real asset in this case by investigating potential sellers.

Buying real estate without breaking your budget will require research and compromise. On moving day, however, you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing that your homework paid off!

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

10 Tips for Successful Real Estate Property Investment

Just because real estate prices seem to have hit a temporary ceiling in many countries around the world, that doesn’t mean that profits from property investments are hard to come by.

Even during a real estate market slowdown, stagnation or depression profits can be made locally and overseas.  This article shows you the top ten tips that real estate investors apply to their property portfolio building strategy to ensure success from their investments.

1)    Research the curve - the concept of a property market cycle existing is not myth it’s a fact and is generally accepted to be based on a price-income relationship.  Check the recent historical price data for properties in the area of the country you’re considering purchasing in and try to determine the overall feel in the market for prices currently.  Are prices rising, are prices falling or have they reached a peak.  You need to know where the curve of the property market cycle is at in your preferred investment area.

2)    Get ahead of the curve – as a basic rule of thumb, professional real estate property investors seek to buy ahead of the curve.  If a market is rising they will try and target up and coming areas, areas that are close to locations that have peaked, areas close to locations experiencing redevelopment or investment.  These areas will most likely become ‘the next big thing’ and those who by in before the trend will stand to make the most gains.  As a market is stagnating or falling many successful investors target areas that enjoyed the best levels of growth, yields and profits very early on in the previous cycle because these areas will most likely be the first areas to become profitable as the cycle begins turning towards positive once more.

3)    Know your market – who are you buying property for?  Are you buying to let to young executives, purchasing for renovation to resell to a family market or purchasing jet to let real estate for short term rental to holiday makers?  Think about your market before you make a purchase.  Know what they look for in a property and ensure that is what you are going to be offering them

4)    Think further afield – there are emerging real estate property markets around the world where countries’ economies are going from strength to strength, where a growing tourism sector is pushing up demand or where constitutional legislation has been or is about to be changed to allow for foreign freehold ownership of property for example.  Look further afield than your own back yard for your next property investment and diversify that real estate portfolio for maximum success.

5)    Purchase price – set yourself a budget that will realistically allow you to purchase what you’re looking for and profit from that purchase either through capital gains or rental yield.

6)    Entry costs – research fees, charges and all expenses you will incur when you buy your property – they differ from country to country and sometimes even from state to state.  In Turkey for example you should add on an additional 5% of the purchase price for all fees, in Spain you will need to factor in an average of 10% and in Germany fees and charges can be in excess of 20%.  Know how much you will have to incur and factor this amount into your budget to avoid any nasty surprises and to ensure your investment can become profitable.

7)    Capital growth potential – what factors point to the potential profitability of your real estate property investment?  If you’re looking overseas at an emerging market, which economic or social indicators exist to suggest that property prices will increase?  If you’re buying to let out are there any indications to suggest that demand for rental accommodation will remain strong, increase or even decline?  Think about what you want to achieve from your investment and then research and find out whether your expectations are realistic.

8)    Exit costs – if you will incur substantial capital gains taxation liability if you sell your property investment for profit, will that render the investment profitless?  In Spain a foreign buyer can incur up to 35% capital gains tax, in Turkey on the other hand property sales are capital gains tax free if the underlying real estate has been owned for four or more years.

9)    Profit margins – what levels of capital growth can you realistically gain on your property investment or how much rental income can you generate?  Work out these facts and then work backwards towards your initial budget to work out your potential profit margins.  At all times you have to keep the bigger picture in mind to ensure that your real estate investment has good potential for profit.

10)    Think long term – unless you’re buying property off plan and intending to flip it for resale and profit before completion you should view real estate investment as a long term investment.  Real estate is a slow to liquidate asset, cash tied up in property is not simple to free up.  Take a long term approach to your property portfolio and give your assets time to increase in value before cashing them in for profit.

Monday, 22 March 2010

10 Steps to Getting Top Dollar for Your Home

When you decide to sell your home you should immediately begin referring to it as a house. You’ve become emotionally attached to this place and it’s now time to say goodbye. Start detaching yourself by making some changes that will help you with the sale of the house.

You probably have accumulated a lot of clutter over the years. This must be the first step.

1.  Unclutter your home. Start in the basement and either throw things out or rent a locker off premises to store it until you move but prospective buyers need to see what the house looks like behind all your stuff. This means going room to room and clearing everything out that makes it look junkie and disorganized.

2.  Neutralize the personal nature of your home. You may love the native tapestry on the living room wall from Bora Bora but I’ll guarantee 95% of   your prospects will have it on their mind when they leave your home and not in a good way. Knick knacks and generally all things that you’ve previously enjoyed should be stored away until after the sale, that includes grandma’s spoon collection that takes up half a wall in the kitchen. Replace these things with neutral items like picture frames or vase with a simple arrangement.

3.  Minor cosmetic work. Once you remove the clutter you will see all the things that you’ve been meaning to get to over the years. Painting where necessary, new carpet/s, moldings repaired, cracked plaster and re-taping/ repairing drywall. When making these improvements think neutral colors for any coverings be it paint or carpets. If you have hardwood floors sand them and finish them. Area rugs can look amazing. Whatever you do, don’t over do it. Try and think like a buyer.

4. Hire a professional cleaner. Once you have the house cleared you should hire a professional cleaning crew to wash the walls, windows, work over the kitchen and bathrooms, clean the floors and shampoo all carpets that don’t need to be replaced. Your house should be spotless and kept this way for the duration.

5.  Staging each room. If your rooms are smaller rearrange the furniture to make the room look bigger. For example removing some furniture is better than having too much cramped in. Set your furniture up in conversation pit style. Like a gourmet coffee house, make it cozy. Pull couches away from walls to give the appearance of depth. Remove wall clutter, one or two pictures but no more. Generally make it look inviting.

6.  Kitchen and bathrooms. These are the most important rooms in your home to a buyer. Make sure they are impeccable. Plumbing fixtures should be working properly and look like new or they should be replaced. Use a good cleaner or even a metal polish to make them gleam. Showers and tubs need to be spotless! Sinks and vanities need to be pristine and uncluttered. Kitchen cupboards should be orderly, doors opening and closing properly, drawers the same. I can’t stress enough how important these two rooms are to your potential outcome.

7.  Doors and windows. First thing prospects see when they walk in your home is a door. Make sure its painted or cleaned up and that it will open and close properly. This goes for screen doors as well. Often screen doors are a problem people let go. Not anymore. Windows should all be cleaned and be sure if someone wants to open them that they work properly. If they have been painted closed as is the case with some older homes, now is the time to get them to open. Do whatever it takes.

8.  Garages and workshops. These are the second most important areas. Again remove all clutter from the garage and make it accessible so you can actually park your car in it! As for the workshop, try and organize it so the handy person prospect will appreciate what they can do with their “new shop” when they move in. It’s all about your prospect picturing themselves in your house.

9.  Family effort. Everyone in your family needs to be on board with the presentation of the house. This means your kids need to buy into the project and keep their rooms tidy. Bribe them if you need to but everyone has to help maintain the appearance of the entire house.

10.  Odors and pets. Wow, is this ever important. If you have pets only you really love them. When you walk into a house with dogs or cats you immediately smell them, especially if you don’t have your own. Keep litter boxes fresh and clean daily. Restrict your animals if at all possible to certain areas of the home until after the sale. Vinegar and water will do wonders when you clean their areas every other day until the sale is complete, and top it off with effective air fresheners wherever you need them. Vacuum often with carpet fresh powders two or 3 times a week.

This sounds like quite a bit of work and it is. Try and remember that by following these tips you could easily add five to ten thousand dollars to the sale price of your home, maybe more. A little elbow grease now will be a solid investment.

The Author is the President/CEO of ,  and . He has over 26 years experience in the real estate industry.

©Copyright 2006, Used by Permission, All Rights Reserved

Sunday, 21 March 2010

10 Steps to a Successful Urban Redevelopment Project

You’ve got a project with exceptional architecture, you’ve completed months of review and modification, your design team is sure this project will get significant notoriety, yet after hours of going back and forth in City Council meetings, they ask you to cut the project in half, increase the setbacks, or just drop the project altogether.

Does this sound familiar?

Developing commercial and residential projects in urban areas require special care.  While some urban areas are on the verge of new developments, misunderstanding and community opposition can block even the best designs.

You can reduce risks by taking a thoughtful approach to the process.  Some residents and politicians demand programs be based on trust, openness, and consensus building.  This should not mean you compromise your design.  Executing these ten important steps can result in strong design and a smooth process.

Consensus doesn’t mean that everyone agrees, it’s more about showing respect for different opinions, developing relationships, and identifying shared goals to establish positive public opinion so the project will gain community and government acceptance. It’s important to nurture supporters and expose the extremists.

The following 10 points should be addressed:

1)    Create the vision.  It’s about design, not density.  Establish a vision early by connecting it to local settings and looking for ways to build partnerships.  Good design attracts people.
2)    Know your market.  Do the homework necessary to understand the competition and the market forces that influence a project.
3)    Understand the issues.  All communities have a set of unique characteristics and issues that guide their decisions.  It’s essential to have a good understanding of the marketplace, environment, regional influences, and financial aspects.  There is no single solution.
4)    Get the public benefit.  Make the benefit for the city & community clear.
5)    Pay attention to everyone who has a stake in the project.  Have small discussion groups to get their feedback.
6)    Establish trust.  Do this by sharing knowledge and listening carefully.  Be honest, encourage participation from everyone, stay neutral and pursue win-win goals.
7)    Inform decision makers.  Meet one-on-one and provide solutions to educate decision makers.
8)    Use the media.  Take the high road and keep the message simple.  Talk about helping the community.
9)    Use the unique.  Incorporate the area’s physical social and historical environment into the design.
10)    Be patient .  Listen carefully, provide guidance, establish credibility, and let the process grow.

By using these ten points, several revitalization plans have been completed in the face of strong initial community resistance.  Guided by strong visions which have been established by working with city programs launched to solicit feedback and educate everyone have had a profound effect in the success of revitalization efforts.

Implementing major public and private improvements can convert old spaces into lively gathering places for community activity.

Saturday, 20 March 2010

10 Ideas For a Quicker and Easier Sale When Selling Your House

1. NO CLUTTER. Throw out old newspapers and magazines. Pack away most of your small items like figurines and other trinkets. Store clothing that won’t be used in the near future to make closets seem roomier. Clean out the garage. Buyers like to visualize their possessions in the house and that is hard to do when the home is full of clutter.

2. Wash your windows and screens. This lets more light into the interior and dirty windows are a turn off.

3. Keep everything extra clean. Wash fingerprints and dirt from light switch plates. Clean the floors, stove, refrigerator, washer and dryer. A clean house makes a better first impression and tells buyers that the home has been well cared for.

4. Put brighter bulbs in light sockets to make rooms appear brighter, especially dark rooms. Replace any burnt-out bulbs. Turn all lights on before buyers come to view the home.

5. Make all minor repairs that you can find. Everything you don’t repair now will be revealed in the home inspection and can create a bad impression. Small problems such as sticky doors, torn screens, cracked caulking, cracked receptacle covers or a dripping faucet may seem trivial, but they'll give buyers the impression that the house isn't well maintained.

6. Shoot for good curb appeal. Cut the grass, rake any leaves, trim the bushes, and edge the walks. Put a couple of bright potted flowers near the entryway to cheer things up and get the buyers attention.

7. Patch holes in your driveway and reapply sealant, if applicable.

8. Clean dirty gutters.

9. Polish or replace your front doorknob and door numbers.

10. Get rid of smells. Clean carpeting and drapes to eliminate cooking odors, smoke, and pet smells. If carpets are old and need replacing, it is worth while to replace them. The additional price you receive for your house will most likely outweigh the expense. Open the windows. The number one turn off to a potential buyer is an unpleasant odor.

For more helpful information including seller and buyer tips, please visit

Friday, 19 March 2010

7 Steps to Becoming a Dynamite Real Estate Agent

Most real estate agents want to be extremely successful.  Goals are set and then the hard work begins to reach those goals.  So what steps can you take to skyrocket your success as a realtor? Here are 7 powerful steps that will get you on the road to success:

1. Realize your Potential

In order to succeed as a real estate agent, you need to see that you have the potential to reach your goals.

2. Don’t Look Back

Everyone has failures or mistakes from the past.  To have success in the real estate industry, you need to learn from those past mistakes and learn valuable lessons from them.  After doing so, simply move forward and make better, more educated decisions from the lessons learned.

3. Dare to Dream Big

To succeed as a realtor, you need to have big dreams and aspirations.  Be honest with yourself as to what you want out of life and what you want to give of your life.  Allow your mind to dream and think big!

4. A Powerful Business Plan

Create a powerful business plan that will organize your strategies.  This plan will be the blueprint to your success.  The business plan should include prospecting, listing strategies, prospect follow up techniques, networking ideas, and ways to boost customer loyalty.

5. Don’t Give Up

To reach success as a real estate agent, you must persevere through difficult times.  Even Thomas Edison had to learn this.  When he was inventing the incandescent light bulb, it took him more than 10,000 times to get it right.  Keep striving even when the challenge seems to be overwhelming. 

6. Have an Unstoppable Attitude

You need to have determination in order to succeed as a realtor.  Be wary of close friends or family members that feel it would be better if you focused your attention in another direction or career.  Uphold your unstoppable attitude, determined to succeed.

7. Stop Complaining

You might think there is no correlation between complaining about you difficulties and success, but there is in fact a connection.  When you spend time complaining about the obstacles you are facing in you real estate career, you're wasting so much time being negative that you are actually missing out on chances to move your career forward.  Don't think of challenges as problems, think of them as opportunities.

Thursday, 18 March 2010

7 Shortcuts to Internet Home Buying

Searching for a home is becoming easier every day with more access to web sites across the country is the king of real estate listings. There are real estate company sites such as and where you can access the local affiliates and all their listings in the US, Canada, or International. Or a little back door play is to go to the state board of realtors where they list all the local realtor boards and the local MLS sites.

<b> –</b> The number 1 real estate web site bar none. It is comprised of all the local MLS realtor board listings. It has all the visual and virtual tours and more photos than the local MLS systems allow. Local real estate agents will pay to get good positioning on the webpages for advertising when their local area is requested you see them first or at least in the top six. You can also request information about any of the listings on the site and you will normally receive a response within 24 to 48 hours from the better agents. One draw back is that is sometimes 3 to 5 days behind the actual listing date.

<b> –</b> The number 2 real estate web site. Has easy access to its real estate listings around the world. The <i>“Personal Retriever”</i> feature allows you to enter in your criteria and will notify you of any updates or new listing you can select to have the emails sent daily or weekly. Coldwell Bankers <i>“Lead Router”</i> system is state of the art in high tech features when you request information on any of their listings your request goes one stop and then directly to the agent’s phone who listed the home. During normal business hours you should get a return call within minutes with all the up to date information directly from the listing agent. No other real estate company or lead source has anything that approaches this system.

<b> –</b> The number 3 real estate web site behind Still has a long way to go your basic site allows you to search listings has local information available from the local franchise sites. Doesn’t approach anything like the <i>“Lead Router” or “Personal Retriever”</i> of You can get easy access to their Remax listings.

<b>4.Realtor Pay for Leads Sites –</B>These companies sell you to real estate agents and mortgage brokers. You log on to the web site select the city and the zip code where you want to buy or sell a house and enter all your required personal information. The agents who have paid for you at $200, $400, $600 per month or $40 to $80 per lead decide based on your zip code and price range if they want to work with you in buying or selling a home. The pitch to you is that you pick the agent and there is a little truth to that because you do get to chose between 2 or 3 agents. The fact is that many people filling out all this personal information don’t get to choose an agent at all. The agents don’t take the leads because you are either buying or selling in the wrong price range or zip code. <i>Its one of those little steering or redlining things that slips under the federal and state government’s radar.</I>

<b>5.Realtor Association and MLS –</B> Searching local realtor associations by entering a search by state for realtor association this will bring up the state association and all the local associations within the state. Then you will have access to the public side of the local MLS. Some are now directing you to to see the listings.

<b>6.All the Other Sites –</B> Miscellaneous sites, sale by owner sites, agent sites, smaller real estate company sites, local company sites all have useful features but can’t give you everything you are looking for.

<b>7.Your Real Estate Agent -</b> When you get down to working with an agent, the internet savvy agent will have all you need. They will set you up on a <i>VIP Buyer or Seller program</i> very similar to Coldwell Banker’s <i>“Personal Retriever”</i> and your access to your agent will be better than <i>“Lead Router”</i> because you will have all of the agents contact numbers.

Searching for your home on the internet can be easy if you take your time and don’t get sucked into any on-line site that sells you and your information to the highest bidder. Remember local Chambers of Commerce, School Districts, and City web sites have great information about the local area. Keep a file in your favorites of all the websites you find useful.

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

7 Reasons to Buy Land for Sale in Arkansas

When it comes to deciding where to buy land for sale, Arkansas probably isn't the first place that comes to mind. However, there are a number of reasons why you should buy land in what Arkansans call The Natural State. Here are seven:

1. The property is undervalued. Experts agree that the pricing of land for sale in Arkansas is about two decades behind other parts of the country. In other words, you can get much more land for your money. In fact, a quarter acre of real estate can cost as little as $7,000. Whether for investments or for future home sites, Arkansas has unbeatable bargains.

2. The property taxes are low. Arkansas may have the lowest property taxes in the nation, with undeveloped land often having annual property taxes of less than twenty-five dollars.

3. The state has unparalleled natural beauty. With an eastern border along the Mississippi River, and encompassing the Ozark Plateau, the Ouachita Mountains, and the Boston Mountains, the state has rich forests, fertile plains, and an abundance of both mountains and valleys.

Because it doesn't have a dense population, there are many parts of Arkansas that are pristine, and miles away from factories and freeways. The land for sale is often in the midst of hardwood forests, with abundant wildlife and birds. The air is clean and fresh, bringing a welcome relief to people who move their from more densely populated areas.

4. The climate is mild. Arkansas definitely has four seasons, but winters are mild enough that people can enjoy pastimes like golf all year long. Although it's not far from the Gulf of Mexico, it is far enough away from the coastline to be safe from hurricanes.

5. There are budding private communities. There are some landowners in Arkansas who have had the foresight to plan for future private communities. In anticipation of the waves of Baby Boomers who will retire in the next two decades, the landowners are planning affordable and coveted golf communities that include rivers, private lakes, marinas, recreation centers, nature trails, and more. Buying land in one of these areas is certain to be a sound financial decision.

6. The landowners are often unique. Unlike many other areas in the country, many areas of Arkansas have land for sale by owner (or FSBO). Buying directly from the owner can cut out the high costs of a middleman. Even when a landowner has help, he or she typically uses someone local who has years of experience as an owner or seller of private building lots in Arkansas.

7. The financing is affordable. Because the land for sale is inexpensive, and because much of it is FSBO, owners often do their own financing. This means low, fixed interest rates and no credit checks. In other words, you don't have to go through a mortgage approval process. Instead, you can make a small payment each month and, at the end of the loan term, receive the deed to your property.

Buying undiscovered, pristine land for sale in Arkansas is a smart move, whether you plan to build a home and retire there or simply want to make sound investments.

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

6 Reasons Why You Should Buy Real Estate in December

December and New Year's Day give you the perfect occasion to buy real estate. Not only can you pick up a bargain property from a motivated seller, you can save on your purchase expenses.

1.  Home shoppers put off looking for a home because of holiday decorating, shopping, and parties. Plus, the cold weather makes home buyers prefer to stay home; they wait for warm weather to buy real estate. Get the edge with little competition from other buyers.

2.  Home sellers who didn't sell during the recent buying frenzy are worried that their home will not sell. Any seller offering their home for sale during the holiday season is motivated.

3.  Real estate agents need to keep their momentum going and can't afford to take too much time off. When the agents aren't as busy, you get better service. Plus, they're more likely to take low offers seriously. Agents love investors ready to buy real estate during December.

4.  Interest rates continue to creep up. <i>Who knows what the rates will rise to next year?</i>

5.  Lenders threaten to tighten up qualifications next year. Last summer, loan officers were able to get through almost any loan. Today is your best shot to buy real estate and get a great rate with the easiest qualifications.

6.  Appraisers need work. Too many individuals became real estate appraisers when there was too much work. It used to take a week or more to schedule an appraisal. We just ordered an appraisal and the appraiser wanted to come out the same afternoon! Also, appraisal fees cost less today than last month.

Clear some time from your busy holiday schedule and go find a bargain house. Make many offers. You won't get this break for another year.

Copyright © Jeanette J. Fisher.

Word Count:

December and New Year's Day give you the perfect occasion to buy real estate. Not only can you pick up a bargain property from a motivated seller, you can save on your purchase expenses.

buy real estate,bargain property,home shoppers,home sellers,Jeanette Fisher

Article Body:
December and New Year's Day give you the perfect occasion to buy real estate. Not only can you pick up a bargain property from a motivated seller, you can save on your purchase expenses.

1.  Home shoppers put off looking for a home because of holiday decorating, shopping, and parties. Plus, the cold weather makes home buyers prefer to stay home; they wait for warm weather to buy real estate. Get the edge with little competition from other buyers.

2.  Home sellers who didn't sell during the recent buying frenzy are worried that their home will not sell. Any seller offering their home for sale during the holiday season is motivated.

3.  Real estate agents need to keep their momentum going and can't afford to take too much time off. When the agents aren't as busy, you get better service. Plus, they're more likely to take low offers seriously. Agents love investors ready to buy real estate during December.

4.  Interest rates continue to creep up. <i>Who knows what the rates will rise to next year?</i>

5.  Lenders threaten to tighten up qualifications next year. Last summer, loan officers were able to get through almost any loan. Today is your best shot to buy real estate and get a great rate with the easiest qualifications.

6.  Appraisers need work. Too many individuals became real estate appraisers when there was too much work. It used to take a week or more to schedule an appraisal. We just ordered an appraisal and the appraiser wanted to come out the same afternoon! Also, appraisal fees cost less today than last month.

Clear some time from your busy holiday schedule and go find a bargain house. Make many offers. You won't get this break for another year.

Copyright © Jeanette J. Fisher.

Monday, 15 March 2010

6 Key Factors Successful Vacation Rental Owners Always Use

If you are going to spend money advertising your vacation rental property on vacation rental websites, you want to make sure it is a success. Here are 6 things you can practice which will help ensure you receive the most "bang for the buck".

1. SET RENTAL RATES APPROPRIATELY - If you want your vacation property to rent, you must be realistic, optomistic, but not greedy! Set realistic rental rates for your property and ensure that the rates are correct on the site(s) your listing and regularly reviewed as the market changes. Search for comparable properties ("comps") in the same location as yours. Only charge a premium if your property has some distinct features. And, be willing to discount your property on occassion as needed. In this business, if you lose money for a week long rental, you can't make that up!

2. CHECK E-MAIL REGULARLY - When using an internet vacation rental property website such as or, remember your users. They are typically Internet "savvy" and probably check their e-mails frequently...especially if they have requested some info. Also, be sure your phone number is listed on sites that allow you to as sometimes people choose to just call you directly, so be sure to check phone messages.

3. RESPOND IMMEDIATELY - Vacation goers usually see a few properties that are of interest to them and then contact those owners. The faster you respond, the better chance (most of the time) you have of winning them over. There have been times I have rented properties in the past and because it took an owner 24 hours to respond, I had already chosen another property. A timely and efficient response gives the renter confidence that the rental experience will follow suit.

4. YOUR LISTING SHOULD BE ACCURATE AND COMPLETE - Be sure that your listing details are kept up to date and are complete. Review your online listing frequently to be sure that your contact information are up-to-date. Also, be sure that it is accurate on the description of your property and its amenities. This will help you with repeat customers, but will also keep you out of trouble with rental contracts or laws in regards to such things.

5. GREAT PHOTOS - It is true what they say, "a picture speaks a thousand words". Remember, renters are considering staying at your rental based (most of the time) solely on your pictures and your word. The more pictures to help them be comfortable with the decision, the better. Here is how I look at it. If you were going to buy a used car, would you do so over the Internet without a good look at the outside/inside of the vehicle, the engine, etc. Not exactly the same, but you get the picture. The more pictures and the prettier, the better. Be sure to have pictures of your rental amenities such as a pool, the beach, a mountain view, the lake or a golf course - these are top vacation rental sellers!

6. BOOST YOUR EXPOSURE - There are many "hot spots" for vacationers throughout the world. Before we owned property, my family used to head to Destin every year, usually twice. There are thousands of vacation rental properties in the Destin, Panama City Beach area. In areas like this, boost your exposure by getting to the top of your sites search engine. If it costs you $20, $50, even $100 to do so but that gets you one extra rental a year, that makes it more than worth it.

Sunday, 14 March 2010

5 Useful Tips in Buying a House

Buying a house is a very serious matter that comes in to people’s lives. It is very risky to invest your money in buying just any house you find. You must have some guidelines that can help you decide which house is the best for you. Here are some:

1.    Determine your rights

When you are ready to buy your own house, be sure you understand your rights as a homebuyer. Knowing the process of buying a house prevents you from getting scammed. You can personally do your home work or seek for a knowledgeable person like a real estate agent or a broker. Make sure that the agent you hire is licensed and have a wide knowledge regarding the area.

2.    Make sure you can afford it

Your budget is really a big deal in buying your own house. What you want is different from what you need, so be practical. You don’t really need a big house if you’re just one person that travels everyday, right? Make sure that you make the best for your money. Seek help or ask for suggestions especially for those who have knowledge in real estate prices. If you can’t stay for at least a year, buying a house is inappropriate for you. You may save a whole lot more of money if you sell it urgently.

3.    Make sure it fits your lifestyle

Make your house a home. Be sure it really fits your way of life and you are comfortable with it. A good example of this is if you’re working in an office, a good place to find is near or in the vicinity of your office. If you love nature, a good place to find is outside the city with clean air, near parks, has a mountain view or near at the beach. Your personality really matters in finding a good house. Make sure to look at its suburbs first and try to gather some information about the area and its surroundings. Try also to consider the kind of neighbors you will have.

4.    Consider your future plan

If you’re newly married, you might to consider how many kids you want to have. You can assume the number of rooms or the home space you need. If you can afford a house that is near to a good school, it is better. School districts are more important to home buyers, therefore, it will increase your property values.

5.    Be organized

It is very important to make your document files organized and safe. Because it will prove that you own the house. It will help you a lot especially when it comes in paying your house payments (taxes and amortization).

Saturday, 13 March 2010

5 Tips to Maximize Your Home’s Value When You Sell

1) First, do your homework.   Find out the local market conditions for your neighborhood.  Depending on your area, there may be better/worse times to sell.  Once you’ve decided to sell, there are three different levels of service that you may want to consider:

• Sell the home yourself (FSBO)
• List your with a Discount / Flat fee broker
• Utilize a full service real estate agent/brokerage

If you are inclined to sell the home yourself, note that you will bear the responsibility for marketing your property, along with full legal disclosures, inspections, appraisals and the like.  You should be very comfortable with real estate related documents, and comfortable with the legal implications resulting from the transaction.

You can also choose to use a discount or flat fee broker, who will assist you to sell your property.  Depending on the broker you select, you may be able to get some assistance with marketing, open houses, disclosures, title/escrow, etc.  Make sure that you understand exactly what services you are willing to pay.  Make sure you understand what services are covered under each pricing plan.  Find out if your listing will be posted on the website, what signage will be available to you; find out if you are posting the home to the respective MLS (multiple listings service) in your area. Each broker is different, so make sure to get references from former clients. 

If you want to market your property to the largest pool of possible buyers, list your property with a full-service real estate broker/firm.  Now, before you pick up the phonebook or check that postcard you received in the mail, make sure to take the time to interview more than one agent/agency. 

Find out if they are a REALTOR® -- a member of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS, a trade organization of nearly 1 million members nationwide.  Members of NAR subscribe to a stringent code of ethics to guarantee the highest level of service and integrity.  You may also want to know if they have any special REALTOR® designations, such as GRI and CRS, which require that real estate professionals take additional specialized real estate training.  In addition to qualifications, you should check references of the agent.  Make sure to speak with former clients to see if the agent is responsive and is available to keep you up-to-date with progress.   You need to have direct contact with your agent, so you will need to be as comfortable as possible.  The agent that handles your listing should:

• Detailed marketing plan for your house, including online and offline marketing
• Prepare a Comparative Market Analysis (CMA) of properties in your area that have sold, as well as properties currently listed
• Help you determine the best selling price for your house
• Advice on suggested home improvements

During the time that your house is on the market, potential buyers will make appointments to view your home, along with the planned open-houses that you or your agent may schedule.    Try to evaluate the house as if you are seeing it for the first time. Buyers need to envision themselves living in the home, so take care to present the property in its best light.  Put yourself in the position of a potential buyer and view the property starting at the front, itemizing the most cost-effective enhancements to make.

2) Clean up as much as possible.  You may want to paint walls (neutral colors are best) or spruce up wallpaper.  Replace old flooring and worn carpets.  Check and repair damaged or unsightly caulking in the tubs and showers.  If possible, hire a cleaning service. Display your best linens, towels, and shower curtains. Make up beds, and put fresh flower arrangements on the table.  Make sure that there are no offensive odors in the house.  Odor is the first thing buyers notice, and often a permanent turnoff.  

3) Make your house their new home.  Put away or pack small appliances and other items that might be sitting on countertops or tables throughout the house. You want buyers to visualize the space in each room, so it is best to remove as many smaller items as possible.  Remove personal items, pictures and items to present clear shelves, book cases and walls.  Move excess furniture to make rooms more spacious. Replace heavy curtains with sheer ones that let in more light.  Clean and organize the closets. If you must, store boxes in an out of the way location.  You may also want to rent a temporary storage unit, to allow you to de-clutter every part of the house.

4) Don’t forget the outside!  The right landscaping can enhance the curb appeal of a home.  Eliminate weeds, patch bare spots, fertilize and water. Take a good look at the shrubbery. Bushes that have grown to cover windows should be pruned to let sun and light into the home.   Fill in bare spots with small shrubs and colorful, fast growing annuals, such as impatiens and petunias. A few well-placed flower pots by the front door can be very inviting. Today's buyers want low maintenance. Your goal should be a beautifully maintained yard that looks easy to care for.

5) Allow your agent/representative to show your home.  Buyers don’t want to offend current owners, so they may be more hesitant to consider your home if you are present for open-house events.  Be flexible about showings. It’s often disruptive to have a house ready to show on the spur of the moment, but the more often someone can see your home, the sooner you’ll find a seller.

Friday, 12 March 2010

5 Tips for Overseas Vacation Home Buying Success

The dream of owning a vacation home in some sun-drenched overseas location is one the majority of us share, and because real estate proves itself time and again as a solid long term investment commodity, many more people are committing to purchasing real estate abroad as an investment that they and their family can also enjoy and benefit from.

When buying a vacation home abroad there are a number of key considerations to bear in mind to avoid some of the traps and pitfalls sometimes associated with buying long distance and in an unfamiliar country.  With these 5 tips for overseas vacation home buying success you can quickly cut a swathe through the research process and move towards securing the dream swiftly and securely.

Tip One – Learn the Rules and Regulations

Different countries have different rules relating to the right or otherwise of foreign citizens to own the freehold title to immovable property.  Some widely publicised destinations don't allow foreigners to directly own the land on which their property sits (Bulgaria) or more than one property (Cyprus) for example, and some countries are less economically or politically stable than your own which can mean that real estate related rules and regulations may change in the future.  Make sure you're comfortable with the workings of the country you're considering buying a vacation home in, and if in doubt seek professional advice about that country and the ambitions you hold for owning a holiday home in it.

Tip Two - Good Investment/Bad Investment

If you're buying a vacation home with a hope that it will go up in value and be not only a family retreat but a great asset, know that real estate, just like any investment commodity, can go down in value as well as up.  Furthermore not all countries have a real estate economy the same as the one in your own country – a little research would be wise into the historic nature of the property market in your country of choice as well as predictions for its future.  While such data is not a direct indication of how well your investment will perform it will arm you with more data to hopefully make your decisions easier.

Tip Three - Title Deeds and Legalities

Legal systems and the title deed registration process differ from country to country therefore know your legal rights and try and find out about the essential searches, surveys and title deed checks that need to be conducted before you should commit to buying your overseas vacation home.  Never enter into any form of contractual agreement without the direct assistance of an independent lawyer and never accept someone's word that a vacation home has its permissions and title deeds valid and up to date.  Insist on seeing and checking all important facts and data before signing on the dotted line.

Tip Four - Accessibility and Desirability

If you're thinking about making an income from your vacation home or even hoping to holiday in it yourself regularly, one of the most important factors to bear in mind is the accessibility or otherwise of your vacation home.  If your real estate is difficult to reach, with many miles to traverse and complicated and expensive plane journeys to plan, then it will just become a less desirable commodity over time. While a vacation involves getting away from it all and escaping every day life, a vacation destination and home should be easy and affordable to reach.

Tip Five - Enlisting Assistance

Consider enlisting the help of a reputable real estate agent, an independent lawyer and if you want to make money from your vacation home, a property management service.  Such professionals can save you time, effort and money and they can make the whole process of buying and owning a vacation home that much simpler.  Make sure you take references, examine credentials and see qualifications before employing anyone to assist you however, and if at all possible seek recommendations because anyone who does a good job will always get good press!

Thursday, 11 March 2010

5 Things You Should Know Before You Flip A Property

1. Money is made at the buy, not the sell of your flip. When flipping a house your money is made at the purchase not at the sell of the house. So, many times people buy a house with the intensions of making a huge profit only to find out that they could not make any money after all the renovations because the purchased price of the house was to high. When you purchase your property you need to be sure that you buy the house with enough money to make renovations, have carrying cost, and add about 5 $6,000. Now, cost is at $147,000, and that is if everything goes as planned. Profit is under 10,000 dollars. The mistake was made at the purchase at the home, not the sell.

2. Get an inspection on the home - Get a complete inspection done on your property. By, spending a few hundred dollars on this expense you can save thousands in problems that you cannot see. Foundation, Pest, Wood Rot, Etc... By, getting a full inspection you can rest assured that you know every thing that is wrong with the property before its to late. In the contact for the house you need to make sure that you have 7 days to have a inspection preformed, and if the inspection finds problems that are going to cost more money that you are willing to spend you can get out of the contract with no penalties.

3. Don't do the work yourself: - Get a contractor or several sub-contractors and have the work done quickly. You need to have you house flipped ASAP, so that you can get it on the market and get it sold. When I started flipping my brother and me did a house together, and we did all the construction. I had a construction background and figured it would save thousands, but it took us over 4 months to get the work done that a contractor could have had the work done in a month. But, we trying to save money on our flip did all the work on our time off and after work, and it just took to long. On our 2'nd flip we used contractors for almost everything and had the house completely flipped with a new roof, new air conditioning, new hardwood, and much more in only 3 weeks. We did not have to spend all our time working on the property and were able to spend that time looking for the next deal. This is how you get rich in real estate.

4. Place the property 1 to 2 percent below market value: If you are wanting to flip real estate and make money the object is to buy and sell the property as quickly as possible, so that you can move on to the next house.  If you purchase a house and try to sell it at top dollar to make and extra couple of thousand dollars on your flip, and end up holding it for 6 months you are loosing money.  Get the house on the market at a price that is going to blow the competition away, and you will sell it no matter what the market conditions. On our second house the market for selling house went down do to the housing market as a whole, and the tightening of the loans across America.  We were told that you could not sell a property in this market, but we went ahead anyway and flipped our house. After 3 weeks on the market we had 3 people wanting to buy the house. Why, because we offered it at such a great deal that people wanted to jump on it. That is what you have to do especially if the market is slow.

5. Use a real estate agent - Do not try to sell you house on your own. Harness the power of a real estate agent and the power of the MLS system. When you do a FSBO you are depending on people driving by your house and seeing you sign, with a real estate agent you have some one actively marketing you house to get it sold. Once again this will free up more time for you to look for more great deals. If you want to help the process I have found that craigslist and listing you house in google adwords help to, but I use these tools with the help of a agent to make sure I have all my bases covered.

I hope this article has been helpful with the basics needs of flipping a house. If you will study and learn you will make money. But, do your homework before you purchase a house, and make sure that you can pull a profit on your deal. Then, make it happen!

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

5 money saving tips when selling your home

Your home is undoubtedly the most valuable asset for the vast majority of us and selling it will cost thousands. Using the money saving tips in this article should reduce the cost of moving home.

Estate Agent fees vary, so shopping around and don’t forget to haggle and pay one off against the other. You should aim for 1% commission, also push then to limit the tie-in period to no more than 6 weeks, this gives then enough time to sell the house, but if they can’t you can move to another agent without going “multi-agent” which will increase the fee to about 3%+, a big no-no! Ensure you get a fair valuation, never tell an estate agent what other agencies have valued your house at. They will use this to manipulate its offer, often resulting in wide distortions. 

It is false economy to go for the cheapest solicitors, so get recommendations from all the estate agents you speak to and remember to ask for the name of specific people, rather than just the legal firms. Give them a call and ask what their charges are, also note whether they are they friendly, helpful, and most important efficient? Fees are negotiable so haggle! Play off each one against the other to get yourself the best service at the best price.

Selling you house privately can save thousands. One in twenty vendors are now taking the DIY route which could save you thousands. That is a massive money saving tip, but there are a couple of downsides, basically “time and effort”. You could consider newspaper advertising, flyers and signs. Newspapers usually charge per line or per word so try to keep your advert as brief as possible without making it uninteresting. The simplest way would to sell your house yourself is to use one of the many online house selling service.

Obviously it is best to sell your house when the market is strong and demand is high, so keep an eye on the local property market. Generally, the market tends to be stronger in early and late summer than the rest of the year, so aim to sell your house then. Also avoid completing with your neighbours so if there are already a few “For Sale” signs on your street, it might be better to wait a bit.

Research has shown that a poor presented house can take longer to sell and may reduce the price by thousands. So get your paint brushes out, give your home a lick of paint and finish all of those DIY jobs which are outstanding. Also talk to the estate agent about adding value to your property it maybe worth spending a bit of cash to make some more. However, be careful not to over spend, you might not get your money back, so talk all planned improvements through with your estate agent.

If you are determined to save money when selling your home, do some more research, as they say knowledge is power. Websites such as <a href="">Maxxsave</a> specialise in offering <a href="">Money saving tips</a>, a brief browse around such sites will allow you to get all the information you need to save you a ton of money.

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

5 Major Reasons Why You Should Buy a Home Instead of Rent

There are times when it is better for a person to rent, but most often home ownership has many more benefits and advantages. 

About 10 year ago a had a retired aunt and uncle who rented a condo in Las Vegas. Uncle Jim (not his real name) was a retired minister. Throughout his career he and his wife lived in parsonages, which are homes furnished by the congregation while they ministered there. 

He and his wife told me that the biggest mistake they ever made was not to invest in buying a home.  In their retirement years, when their other retired friends were living in homes that were almost paid off and had appreciated greatly, Uncle Jim and his wife were using a huge portion of their limited retirment money to make expensive condo rent payments. They strongly cautioned me not to make the same mistake they had.

Recent studies are showing that there are many benefits for both the owners and the community for owning your own home, including increased education for children,  lower teen-age pregnancy rate and a higher lifetime annual income for children. Besides these, listed below are some of the primary advantages for owning your own house.

1) More Stable Housing Costs
Rent payments can be unpredictable and typically rise each year, but most mortgage payments remain unchanged for the entire loan period. If the taxes go up, the increase is usually gradual. This stable housing cost especially important in times of inflation, when renters lose money and owners make money.

2) Tax Savings
Homeonwers can be eligible for signifigant tax savings because you can deduct mortgage interest and property taxes from your federal income tax, as well as many states' income taxes. This can be a considerable amount of money at first, because the first few years of mortgage payments is made up mostly of interest and taxes.

3) Debt Consolidation
If you need to, you can refinance a mortgage loan to consolidate other debts (an opportunity you don't have if you are renting.) And the interest on this is also tax deductable.

4) Equity
Instead of payments disapearing into someone elses pocket, home owners are building equity in their own home. This is often one of a person's biggest investment assests.  Each year that you own the home you pay more toward the principal, which is money you will get back when the home sells. It is like having a schelduled savings account that grows faster the longer you have it. If the property appreciates, and generally it does, it is like money in your pocket. And you are the one who gets to take advanatge of that, not the landlord. You can then use this equity to plan for future goals like your child's education or your retirement.

5) It is Yours!
When you own a home you are in control. You the freedom to decorate it and landscape it any way you wish. You can have a pet or two. No one can pop in and inspect your home and threaten to evict you.

Even young people, like college students out on their own, can often benefit from home ownership. It puts them ahead of other young people their age financially by helping with their credit and giving them what is often an excellent investment. Often a college student buying a home will rent the rooms out, and his or her roommates end up making the payments for the house. When the student is ready to move on, her or she can sell the home (hopefully making a profit) or keep it as an investment and continue to rent it.

Buying a home is an important decision. It is often the largest purchase a person makes in his or her life. Home ownership also comes with some increased responsibilities, and isn't for everyone. There are some disadvantages to homeownership that you should take into account.

1) Increased Expenses
Your monthly expenses may increase, depending on your situation. Even if the monthly payments are the same, home owners still have to pay property taxes, all the utilities, and all the maintenance and upkeep costs for the home.  Often you need to supply appliances that were furnished with a rental.

2) Decreased Freedom of Mobility
Homeowners can't move as easily as a renter who just has to give notice to the landlord. Selling a house can be a complex and time consuming process. 

3) Risk of Depreciation
In some areas with overinflated prices, there may be a risk that the house will depreciate instead of increase in value, if the prices go down. If you then sell the house, you may not get enough money from the home to pay back your mortgage, and you will still owe the mortgage company money.

4) Possibility of Foreclosure
If for some reason you are unable to make your payments, you risk having the lender forclose on your propety. This can result in the loss of your home, any equity you have earned, and the loss of your good credit rating.

When considering home ownership, you need to weight the advantages and disadvantages for yourself.  If you are like most people, you will find that homeownership is worth the risks and disadvantages.

Monday, 8 March 2010

5 Ground Rules for Home Buying Success

There are few purchases in life that carry the financial and psychological weight of buying a home.  Whether you are buying your first home, moving up to your dream home, or downsizing your home and your life after the kids have gone, it is important to understand the ground rules for success in the world of buying a home.

Making the wrong decision in buying a home can have devastating and long lasting effects, while making a wise decision in home buying can greatly enhance the overall value of the investment.  It is necessary to learn all you can about the world of home buying and mortgages before setting out to purchase the home of your dreams.

While there are plenty of web sites designed to help first time homeowners learn all they can, most financial experts say that there is no substitute for the good old one-on-one learning. Fortunately, most mortgage lenders, home inspectors and real estate agents will be able to provide this kind of one-on-one learning.

When buying a home it is often best to use a systematic approach as this is often the best way to be sure that all decisions are based on information and reason, not on impulse or emotion.  Buying a home can be an emotional process, nevertheless it is imperative to keep your emotions under control and not let them cloud your judgment.

There are five basic ground rules when it comes to buying a home and shopping smart, and they are:

<b>#1 – Get your financing before you get your home</b>

There are few things in life as disappointing as losing out on the home of your dreams due to not being able to secure funding.  While the desire to get out there are search for that great home is understandable, it is vital to line up the financing you will need before you start shopping for a home.

Getting the financing ahead of time has a number of important advantages, including knowing how much you can buy and gaining more respect from the listing agents.  By knowing how much home you can afford before you shop you will avoid wasting your time looking at unaffordable properties, and the listing agent will be more than willing to show you the homes in your price range.

It is also important to take a good look at the various types of mortgage on the market before getting started in the home buying process.  These days, mortgages come in far more choices than the typical 15 or 30 year. For that reason, potential home buyers need to understand how each type of mortgage works, and to gauge which mortgage is the best choice for their needs.

<b>#2 – Look at the community, not just the home</b>

It is a good idea to look at the entire community, instead of focusing on a single home. This can be a particularly important thing to consider for those moving to a new metropolitan area, as these buyers will be unfamiliar with the local climate and lifestyle.  It is crucial to determine the areas of town that are most desirable, and to consider things like distance from work and local shopping opportunities.

We have all heard that location is the key consideration when it comes to real estate, and that is certainly the case.  Buying a house in the wrong area can be a big mistake, and it is important to choose the location as well as the home.  Potential buyers can learn a great deal about the nature of the various neighborhoods simply by driving around town, as well as by talking to other residents.

<b>#3 – Be fair with your first offer</b>

Trying to lowball a seller on the first offer can backfire, as can paying too much. It is important to carefully evaluate the local market, and to compare the asking price of the home with what similar houses in the neighborhood have sold for.

Comparing the sales of comparable homes, what are known as "comps" in the industry, is one of the best ways to determine what is fair, and to make sure that you neither overpay or underbid on the property.

<b>#4 – Always get a home inspection</b>

Always investigate the home for any possible defects before making an offer.  Compared to the cost of the average home, the price of a quality home inspection is virtually negligible. Hence, get a good home inspection done before you buy.

To find the best home inspector, it is a good idea to seek out word of mouth referrals as many of the best home inspectors rely on word of mouth advertising.

<b>#5 – Do not alienate the sellers of the home</b>

Many real estate deals have fallen apart due to the personal animosity of the buyer and the seller.  It is important to avoid alienating the seller of the home during the process, and to avoid nitpicking every little detail during the sale.

Keeping the good will of the seller will help the transaction go smoothly, and it will provide the best environment for seller and buyer alike.

Sunday, 7 March 2010

5 General Trends in the California Real Estate Market to Watch 2006

Historically, the real estate trends of California have always been the precursors for the rest of the country. Which is why leading players of the real estate market keep a close watch on the Golden State’s real estate market conditions.

And whether you are a first time homebuyer, debating the viability of building your dream house in San Bernardino, or a real estate investor looking to sell condominium units in Los Angeles, you certainly want to know: When is it the optimum time to buy or sell?

Purchasing a house is a major investment. With judicious planning, this valuable asset will appreciate with each year.

But how do you get the big picture? Fortunately, real estate trends are predictable because these develop over a long period, unlike the stock market, which is rather volatile.

The first thing you will need to do is to read and track real estate articles: the market reports of the California Association of Realtors or the California Building Industry Association, and the briefs created by housing analyst companies.

Once you have identified the following key indicators you will have a better grasp of the general trends in California’s real estate market.


Interest Rates
When interest rates rise, buyers shy away. Conversely, lowered interest rates attract more buyers.

This year, interest rates in California are on an upswing. For example, thirty-year fixed mortgage rates, which averaged 5.71 percent in 2005, has risen to 6 percent levels in January 2006. And adjustable mortgage interest rates have moved up to 5 percent levels compared to 4.12 percent in 2005.

Building Permits
The higher the number of building permits issued, the higher the demand for houses.

Figures show that number of building permits issued for the year 2006, have fallen by 10 percent in comparison to last year’s figures. In terms of houses, that’s a decrease of 1,430 building permits compared to January 2005 figures, according to California Building Industry Association report.

Home Sales
This key indicator refers to the total number of homes sold. In the law of supply and demand, when there are few buyers, real estate prices fall.

The January 2006 figures of the California Association of Realtors reveal that the number of existing single-family detached homes sold, has gone down by 24.1 percent in comparison to sales for the entire year 2005.

Another factor to consider is the growing inventory of available houses in certain counties in California, which is changing the market dynamics. What was once a sellers market is slowly turning into a buyers market.

Loan Defaults
This refers to the failure of homeowners to pay their monthly mortgage fees. One downside to this is that many Californian homeowners are choosing to have a bad credit report, rather than to keep paying fees for a home whose value has been inflated by as much as 20 percent more.

Foreclosure Sales
Figures presented by DataQuick Information Systems, a housing analyst company, indicate that foreclosure activities in California have gone up by 19 percent in the last quarter of 2005. This is an increase of 3 percent compared to the third quarter of 2005, and is 4.6 percent higher when compared to 2004’s last quarter figures.

When foreclosure sales are on an upswing, consumer spending is down and consumer debt levels have risen. In the real estate market, this has meant that many financially strapped homeowners are selling their homes at lower prices. The other contributable factors are inflation, the rising prices of gasoline, federal budget deficit, and interest rates.

Concurrently, these key indicators confirm that although home sales levels in California are falling, the demand for houses remains strong and steady. Always do your due diligence before undertaking a purchase of property in California.

Saturday, 6 March 2010

5 Features to Look for when Choosing a Property Rental Service

If you're thinking of using a property rental service for your Spain holiday rental or apartment for rent, there are some key features you should look for before making a commitment. You'll want the best possible service while also earning maximum profits for your vacation rental. Here are five major features every property rental service should offer.

1. Excellent Customer Service

Your guests will remember you by the service they receive during their stay at your villa rental, apartment or vacation rental. The property rental service you choose should offer excellent customer service and be able to provide testimonials from satisfied property owners. Your guests should arrive to a clean villa, home or apartment.

If renting for a vacation, golf holiday or some other Spain holiday, each guest should receive a welcome packet including directions to the rental property as well as helpful information about the surrounding area. If you have an apartment for rent, tenants should be treated well. Rental payment collection, service maintenance and assistance with local utility and phone set-ups should be provided with friendliness and thoroughness.

2. Cleaning Management

A property rental service should provide reliable cleaning management. You might live too far away to handle cleaning or manage a maid service. If you live in England or the U.S., but your vacation rental or apartment for rent is located in Fuengirola, Mijas, Puerto Banus, or Elviria of Spain, then you'll need a property rental service that will handle cleaning with care. For holiday rentals and villa rentals, cleaning must be provided between each guests' stay and sometimes during the week of a stay as well. For vacation homes and villas, the lawn must be maintained as well. Be sure this is included with your service.

3. Key Holding, Inventory, and Detailed Necessities

You may not be able to handle local errands for your vacation rental or apartment for rent. Therefore, the property rental service should be entrusted with these tasks. Some necessities to keep the rental property operating legally include key holding, insurance, property tax and levies, building permits or licensing, bank account management, phone and utility set up and billing, etc.

Another area of importance is inventory.  The furniture and other valuables in your apartment or villa rental must be kept on an inventory list and checked physically each time a guest departs. If you live in another country but own rental property in an area of Spain such as Costa del Sol, Marbella, Benalmadena or any other area, then obviously you're going to need someone locally who can check your inventory for you. Choose a property rental service that provides these types of services to eliminate worries while you're away.

4. Building Refurbishing and Major Repairs

Another feature to look for in a property rental service is whether or not they provide building refurbishing services and major repairs. The benefit of this is the provider will already have contacts to do the jobs needed. You won't have to spend endless hours trying to find a dependable contractor or handyman.

5. Promoting Your Apartment or Spain Holiday Rental

Check to be sure the property rental service will promote your apartment for rent or Spain holiday rental. Promotions will increase your number of rentals and profits each year. A property rental service may handle your advertising in local, national and international venues. If they have a website, they may promote your holiday rentals at the site. If you own a vacation rental near golf courses, then make sure they will advertise your rental from the angle of "golf holidays."

Keep these features in mind during your search for a property rental service. By choosing a service with great features, you'll have peace of mind knowing that your holiday rental or apartment for rent is in good hands!