Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Building A Home In Sarasota, Florida: What You Need

Sarasota, Florida certainly is a magnet for those seeking the ultimate vacation house, as well as the permanent home, since the place offers a wide variety of enlightening experiences within beautiful surroundings.

Historically, people are not quite sure how Sarasota derived its name. One theory is that it was named after the daughter of Hernando De Soto, Sara. De Soto, along with Ponce de Leon and Panfilo Narvez, were the first explorers to land on the Gulf Coast in search of gold and silver. Another legend says that the name may have been derived from the Spanish "sarao sota", which when translated means "a place of dancing."

Sarasota, Florida is a fantastic, and colorful city. With a population of over 53,000, there are a lot of options for housing that are accessible to prospective homeowners. If you are considering building a home in Sarasota and need more information in regard to modular homes, there are assorted companies available to provide you and your family the very best home for your needs.

The Sarasota market continues to gain strength compared to the overall state of Florida, according to the Sarasota Association of Realtors. For example, Condominium purchases went up by 12% in July 2007, as compared with 141 sales in July 2006. The median sales price was up 14.8%, from $269,990 in July 2006 to $310,000 in July 2007. Single family home sales went up by 5% from 351 in July 2006 to 369 in July 2007, but median sales price was down 14.5%. Statewide however, the real estate market saw a decline of 24% from July to July for single family homes.

In deciding to build a home in Sarasota, there are some more questions to ask yourself and priorities you need to establish. Here are the stuff you need to consider:

* How much could you really afford in buying a home. A local mortgage company can help you answer this question.
* How much space do you need, or want.
* Are there specific areas of town that you prefer.
* How many bedrooms and baths do you feel you need ?
* Find out other amenities are important to you (ex: eat-in kitchens, family room, pool, attached garage, etc)
* How big a lot of land would you like to have
* Should the house be close to certain schools, your job, or public transport

In looking for housing developers and contractors in Sarasota, it would be best to check out the local yellow pages for additional support, or chck on online developers and real estate agents. One notable local developer would be McKenzie Builders LLC. McKenzie Builders is a full service residential construction company building affordable homes in Manatee and South Hillsborough counties on Florida's beautiful Gulf Coast, with over 20 years of building experience in this area.

Another noted Sarasota developer would be Vision Homes of Southwest Florida. Vision Homes, according to its website, “ has redefined what "Excellence" means when it comes to residential design and building for the 21st Century”. Vision Homes is also acknowledged as Sarasota's Leading Builder of Energy-Efficient Green Building Technology.

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Build Relationships and Leads Will Follow

Starting out in the real estate business (or any business for that matter) can be a little anxiety inspiring. The initial stage of getting off the ground is always a challenge. There are plenty of ideas out there on how to get new business, but one of the best ways to build your business is by building on the relationships with your current clients. If you offer outstanding service and do the job right, you will get the referrals. Word of mouth is still one of the best marketing tools a business can ask for.

Always keep your seller in the loop - give them information and updates as to how their home is being marketed, provide prompt feedback from buyers who have seen the property. Make sure your buyers have the new listings as soon as possible.

When your clients seal the deal send a gift card or a bottle of wine. Give a gift for possession. It shows your client that you recognize this milestone in their life, and the personal touch makes all the difference. "When we moved into the new house there was a lovely gift basket filled with fancy preserves, crackers, chocolates and champagne from our realtor," says one new homeowner. "We had a little celebration picnic in our new home."

Consider implementing a customer satisfaction survey - after your business is done, give your client an opportunity to provide feedback. Set your ego aside and consider this an opportunity. Take the time to really learn from what they say - and find ways to improve in areas that might not be your traditional strengths.

Even after a deal is done, remembering your clients will show them that you think they are important, that you appreciate their business. Depending on the client you may want to offer personalized notes, email messages, website links and newsletters.

Not only is this good interpersonal relationship building, it will also build your reputation as a caring professional earning you well deserved referrals and repeat business. For repeat clients you might consider lowering your commission slightly, as a thank you for the continued business.

As much as you might want to, resist from asking clients to refer you. It's cheesy - by providing great service you will naturally come to mind in conversation, which is far more genuine. Continue to offer services that will ensure your name is easily recalled in the community.

One way to do this is by being active in the community - sponsor fundraising events for local causes, family events, etc. Go farther by becoming a community resource - after all this is your market, you should know it well. You want to be the person people think of when they need local info - like where to go for the best Chinese food in town or what family friendly activities are being offered in the neighborhood. Be a wealth of information for new comers and established residents alike. Also develop other sources for referrals: HR departments for corporations in the area and relocation companies are a good place to start.

When you do get referrals, regardless of where it came from, remember to send a thank you note to the person who referred you.

By establishing your reputation as a thoughtful business person who is active in the community and willing to go the extra mile to provide exceptional service, you will find your business grows on its own and your reputation in the community will grow with it.

Monday, 28 June 2010

Build A New House Or Buy An Existing One? Use Your Head And Your Heart.

I am living in living in the fourth house I have purchased during my 23 years of home ownership. To some that may seem like a lot of houses, to others it may seem like I’ve just started. The simple fact is we Americans move a lot… 11 or 12 times in a lifetime depending on whom you consult. Chances are you are going to purchase a house during quite a few of those moves and somewhere along the line you may have the opportunity to build a new home.

Should you?

Everyone has fantasized at some point about his or her dream house. You may want closets big enough to live in; a bathroom that doubles as a spa; a kitchen in which you could produce programs for the Food Network But, as in most fantasies, there is usually some epic journey required to achieve the goal. And building your dream house follows that plot line all too closely.

But isn’t it the dream that makes the quest worthwhile? Yes, if you can weather the storms and battles along the way. And the determination to keep moving forward is usually a function of a strong will and a big heart. But it helps to use your head before you set off on your personal version of “The Lord of the Rings.”

It is likely that you have options when you begin the process of buying a home. There may be existing homes in the area that are affordable and that meet your needs. But there are always things about any property or house that don’t exactly meet with your approval. The basement may not be finished or the yard may be too small or the interior décor may have to be entirely redone. It is virtually impossible to buy an existing home without making compromises.

Building new allows you to imagine, design and build the home that accommodates needs and amenities that are important to you… within a budget of course. And that is one thing that must be considered. A new home will be more expensive, on a cost per foot basis, than an existing one. That is due to the cost of land, the price of building materials and labor expense. You might also find that taxes are high as a new area is developed and the municipal authorities factor in the required infrastructure for a growing population and the need for services like education, law enforcement and recreation. You may find yourself subsidizing some of these costs as an area develops.

The ongoing costs associated with an existing house are more predictable. However, there will likely be more maintenance expense than for a new house and energy costs tend to be higher with older properties because newer homes are more energy efficient.

Commuting costs may be an issue. Developers must go further and further out to find enough land to accommodate a new subdivision. That may mean higher costs for commuting to work and to access other businesses and venues that may be closer to the nearest major population center. You should consider this from both a monetary perspective and to determine if you are comfortable with an additional investment of time.

If your new house is built in a subdivision there may be ongoing fees required. In addition, there may be covenants that are designed to protect property values that may apply serious restrictions on your ability to enhance your home and/or your property down the road.

A new home needs new landscaping. This may be included in the price of the home but there will likely be a limit to what is covered under the agreement. To landscape the property in a way that is truly satisfying may require an additional outlay.

Beware of construction delays! Building contractors are notorious for setting deadlines they miss and making promises they can’t keep. Make sure you do some thorough research about the builder and his track record before you commit. Weather is always unpredictable and may have an effect but that should be factored in from the start.

A new subdivision can be a hornet’s nest of building activity.  If you move into your home early in the process be prepared for hammering, sawing, trucks, mud and general chaos for quite a while as the subdivision progresses. This is a lifestyle issue and is a temporary inconvenience. But some have found this level of activity disconcerting and disruptive especially when they are settling into their “dream home” and trying to savor the experience.

If you build new be prepared to stay for a while. With new construction all around you it would be difficult to compete with the rest of the properties available for others who want to build a house from the ground up. You would have to make it worth their while and that usually means a compromise in price.

All this being said (and trust me there is more that could be said) there is nothing quite as satisfying as showcasing the house to family and friends that you designed and built and that reflects your unique vision and personality. If you survive the journey, you will likely have turned your fantasy into reality.

Sunday, 27 June 2010

Budget for Closing Costs – Property Taxes, Legal Fees and Such

You probably spent a good bit of time getting disciplined to save money for your home purchase. You need to carry this financial discipline through the escrow period or you could run into problems.

Budget for Closing Costs – Property Taxes, Legal Fees and Such

When you decided it was time to purchase a home, you went through a number of steps to get your finances in order. You probably reviewed your credit report, cut down on credit card balances and reigned in your spending. A monthly budget was probably also an item you stuck to, probably with some aggravation. Once you have an offer for a home accepted, it is important that you keep budgeting for the closing costs associated with the purchase. Here are a couple of odd little fees that can show up and drive you nuts if you are not careful.

Being required to pay property taxes can be a nasty little surprise. After all, you do not even own the home yet! The requirement, however, comes because of the nature of how property taxes are paid. They are not paid every month, so the seller has prepaid the taxes beyond the period they will own the home. They will want that money back! You can negotiate this point as part of the purchase, but you need to be aware it is out there.

In some states, it is a legal requirement that you have a lawyer represent you in a real estate transaction. This requirement primarily exists in the East. Regardless, attorneys are expensive and you need to have money set aside to pay their fees. In truth, retaining a lawyer is a good idea since they tend to sniff out any questionable issues in the transaction. Fees can run you from a couple hundred bucks to thousands of dollars.

In addition to the above, there are a lot of small fees associated with closing. They can run from several hundred dollars paid to the escrow company to $20 or so for notary fees and so on. If you do not keep an eye out, they can add up quickly to a few thousand dollars.

Closing on a home can be aggravating with all the costs you have to pay. It will all be worth it when you walk into your new home the first time.

Saturday, 26 June 2010

Budget for Closing Costs – Prepaid Loan Interest and Home Insurance Premiums

Entering into escrow on a home can be both exciting and stressful. The excitement comes from knowing you are close to moving into the new home. The stress comes from issues that will arise.

Budget for Closing Costs – Prepaid Loan Interest and Home Insurance Premiums

As part of any closing, you need to go through certain steps to make sure you are both getting what you think you have purchased as well as paying for it. Each of these steps has an associated cost, known as closing costs, and you have to pay them before you can take possession of the home. If you do not, the deal will not close and you will lose the home.

When going through escrow, costs associated with closing can accumulate quickly. Here is a closer look.

Prepaid loan interest is an ugly little surprise for many first time homebuyers. The lender will often require you to pay the interest that accumulates between the day the loan is funded and the day you are actually scheduled to make your first loan payment. Many people mistakenly believe they have roughly a month before they have to start paying. This is rarely the case, and the sudden requirement to pay a hundreds or thousands of dollars can be a nightmare. If at all possible, you should try to get the lender to fund the loan as close as possible to the actual closing date, even on it. Try to avoid closing the loan on a Monday. The lender will have to fund the loan the previous work week, which means interest will be growing.

Homeowners insurance is something you are going to need and most people expect as much when buying a home. If you are not informed, however, you will be surprised at closing when you find out you have to pay the full premium for the first year of the policy. Depending on the value of your purchase, this can add a couple hundred dollars to thousands of dollars onto your closing costs. Again, it is important to budget for this cost when putting funds together prior to purchasing a home.

If you are going to purchase a home, you are going to have to pay these two items at closing. Make sure you budget for them to avoid running into cash flow problems.

Friday, 25 June 2010

Budget for Closing Costs – Loan Origination Fees and PMI

Once you reach an agreement on the purchase of a home, things start moving quickly. In the chaos, it is important to remember to budget for closing costs.

Budget for Closing Costs – Loan Origination Fees and PMI

Closing costs are fees associated with miscellaneous events associated with a home purchase, things such as property inspections. Even if you are purchasing a home for the first time, you are probably aware there are closing costs that have to be paid. Rarely, however, are you aware of just home much and how fast the can accumulate. If you have not budgeted for them, they can put a kink in the closing or even cause you to lose the home.

A couple of closing costs to keep in mind are origination fees for home loans and private mortgage insurance. The mortgage related costs are only a small part of the overall closing costs you can face, but deserve a closer look.

Origination fees for home loans can be a shock to first time buyers. Few realize they are going to have to pay such things. Origination fees are costs charged by a lender for services used to determine if the lender should give you a loan in the first place. For example, a lender will charge you fees for obtaining a copy of your credit report, having an appraisal done for the property. Infuriatingly, the lender will also charge you fees for processing the loan and preparing the loan documents. You may also have to pay points, which represent a percentage of the total loan, often one or two percent. On a $300,000 loan, the origination fees can quickly add up to thousands of dollars.

Private mortgage insurance, often called PMI, can also be a nasty little surprise. The magic number when considering PMI is 20 percent. If you make a down payment on the home that is less than this amount, you are almost certainly going to have to pay PMI. PMI is simply insurance that protects the lender should you default on the loan. The cost can add up to hundreds of dollars, so make sure you know what is expected of you.

Closing costs are aggravating, particularly when you feel like you are being nickel and dimed to death. Budget for them up front, and you will feel less aggravation.

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Budapest: the New Prague for Real Estate Investors

When Hungary and the Czech Republic joined the European Union back in 2004 they set the standards for economic achievement that the rest of the new entrants could only dream of achieving. 

Both Hungary and the Czech Republic not only embraced their new membership status, they went out of their way to create an environment so conducive for inward investment that both countries are now thriving.

As has been well documented, the stunning Czech Republic city of Prague became of such intense interest to international real estate investors even before the Republic joined the EU because it boasts almost inimitable charm, attraction and opportunity.  I say ‘almost’ inimitable because Hungary’s capital city of Budapest is equally well endowed with stunning ancient architecture, cultural attraction and a unique and timeless appeal.

As a direct result Budapest is suddenly becoming one of the hottest European cities for tourism and the business environment is so buoyant right now that the numbers of expatriates heading to the city for work is at an all time high.  These factors mean that the demand for real estate to rent is outstripping the current supply of well located and appointed property and prices in Budapest are starting to soar.

Where once Prague was the European capital city attracting the most overseas real estate investor interest, Budapest is now surpassing the investor levels Prague has enjoyed.  And one of the real reasons for this is the fact that property prices in Budapest are up to 25% less than those in Prague, and the past couple of years have seen price gains in the most desirable districts of Budapest reach 15% annually.

The opportunity to profit to the max is huge currently, but at the same time the window of opportunity is likely to be narrow for those wishing to buy into the projected period of rapid growth.  Those real estate investors who are buying right now have the strongest chance of realizing the greatest gains.  Over the medium term the demand for property in Budapest will not slacken but the property price margin increases will slow down as prices reach parity with the Czech Republic.

After this period of time it is likely that prices will continue to rise in line with local affordability and that potential rental income will still be impressive.  This will continue to bring investors to the market place which means an investor can purchase in Budapest with confidence that he will be able to resell his real estate assets when the time is right for him to release the gains he has accrued.

If you compare the potential fortunes of Budapest with Prague you will see just how much room there is in the market for growth and return, and how far demand can actually go for property for sale and rent in this stunningly beautiful Hungarian city.

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Budget for Closing Costs – Home Inspection and Title Fees

Purchasing a home is a euphoric event. Once escrow begins, the euphoria can change to frustration, particularly if you are not ready for the closing costs that quickly accumulate.

Budget for Closing Costs – Home Inspection and Title Fees

Closing costs simply refer to the fees associated with various things associated with the escrow process in a real estate transaction. In the excitement of having an offer accepted for your dream home, you can easily lose track of the fact you are going to need to have some serious cash on hand to pay them. Many people make the mistake of only assuming they need the down payment money, and have to rush around town trying to come up with money for the closing fees.

If you are buying a home, you need to get a professional home inspection. Doing so can reveal potential problems with the home that you wouldn’t otherwise notice. Problems can include things such as rot, termites, water leaks and a bevy of other issues. The time to do this is during escrow. Of course, that means you are also going to have to pay for the inspection. Depending on the size of the property, home inspections can run a few hundred dollars up to a few thousand. Make sure you have money set aside for the fees.

Title insurance is something you absolutely must purchase when you buy any real property, a home, building, land or whatever. Title insurance protects both you and your lender. Title insurance is just what it sounds like. A title company will research the title of the home and essentially guarantee that the title is good. This means the seller actually owns the title and has the right to sell it to you. The title company will also make sure there aren’t any liens on the homes or other things that will cause you problems. Depending on the price of the home, title insurance can run you a couple of hundred dollars or up into the thousands. Again, it is important to find out the cost and budget for it.

Title insurance and a home inspection are two things you should absolutely have when purchasing a home. Just make sure you budget for them.

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Britain's Real Estate

The five ghastly "Jack the Ripper" murders took place in an area less than a quarter square mile in size. Houses in this haunting and decrepit no man's land straddling the City and metropolitan London could be had for 25-50,000 British pounds as late as a decade ago. How things change!

The general buoyancy in real estate prices in the capital coupled with the adjacent Spitalfields urban renewal project have lifted prices. A house not 50 yards from the scene of the Ripper's last - and most ghoulish - slaying now sells for over 1 million pounds. In central London, one bedroom apartments retail for an outlandish half a million.

According to research published in September 2002 by Halifax, the UK's largest mortgage lender, the number of 1 million pound homes sold has doubled in 1999-2002 to 2600. By 2002, it has increased elevenfold since 1995. According to The Economist's house price index, prices rose by a further 15.6% in 2003, 10.2% in 2004 and a whopping 147% in total since 1997. In Greater London, one in every 90 homes fetches even a higher price. The average UK house now costs 100,000 pounds. In the USA, the ratios of house prices to rents and to median income are at historic highs.

One is reminded of the Japanese boast, at the height of their realty bubble, that the grounds of the royal palace in Tokyo are worth more than the entire real estate of Manhattan. Is Britain headed the same way?

A house - much like a Big Mac - is a basket of raw materials, goods, and services. But, unlike the Big Mac - and the purchasing power index it spawned - houses are also investment vehicles and stores of value. They yield often tax exempt capital gains, rental income, or benefits from occupying them (rent payments saved). Real estate is used to hedge against inflation, save for old age, and speculate. Prices of residential and commercial property reflect scarcity, investment fads, and changing moods.

Homeowners in both the UK and the USA - spurred on by aggressive marketing and the lowest interest rates in 30 years - have been refinancing old, more expensive, mortgages and heavily borrowing against their "equity" - i.e., against the meteoric rise in the market prices of their abodes.

According to the Milken Institute in Los Angeles, asset bubbles tend to both enhance and cannibalize each other. Profits from surging tradable securities are used to buy property and drive up its values. Borrowing against residential equity fuels overvaluations in fervid stock exchanges. When one bubble bursts - the other initially benefits from an influx of funds withdrawn in panic from the shriveling alternative.

Quantitatively, a considerably larger share of the nation's wealth is tied in real estate than in the capital markets. Yet, the infamous wealth effect - an alleged fluctuation in the will to consume as a result of changing fortunes in the stock exchange - is equally inconspicuous in the realty markets. It seems that consumption is correlated with lifelong projected earnings rather than with the state of one's savings and investments.

This is not the only counter-intuitive finding. Asset inflation - no matter how vertiginous - rarely spills into consumer prices. The recent bubbles in Japan and the USA, for instance, coincided with a protracted period of disinflation. The bursting of bubbles does have a deflationary effect, though.

In a late 2002 survey of global house price movements, "The Economist" concluded that real estate inflation is a global phenomenon. Though Britain far outpaces the United States and Italy (65% rise since 1997), it falls behind Ireland (179%) and South Africa (195%). It is in league with Australia (with 113%) and Spain (132%).

The paper notes wryly:

"Just as with equities in the late 1990s, property bulls are now coming up with bogus arguments for why rampant house-price inflation is sure to continue. Demographic change ... Physical restrictions and tough planning laws ... Similar arguments were heard in Japan in the late 1980s and Germany in the early 1990s - and yet in recent years house prices in these two countries have been falling. British house prices also tumbled in the late 1980s."

They are bound to do so again. In the long run, the rise in house prices cannot exceed the increase in disposable income. The effects of the bursting of a property bubble are invariably more pernicious and prolonged than the outcomes of a bear market in stocks. Real estate is much more leveraged. Debt levels can well exceed home equity ("negative equity") in a downturn. Nowadays, loans are not eroded by high inflation. Adjustable rate mortgages - one third of the annual total in the USA - will make sure that the burden of real indebtedness mushrooms as interest rates rise.

The Economist (April 2005):

"An IMF study on asset bubbles estimates that 40% of housing booms are followed by housing busts, which last for an average of four years and see an average decline of roughly 30% in home values. But given how many homebuyers in booming markets seem to be basing their purchasing decisions on expectations of outsized returns—a recent survey of buyers in Los Angeles indicated that they expected their homes to increase in value by a whopping 22% a year over the next decade—nasty downturns in at least some markets seem likely."

With both the equity and realty markets in gloom, people revert to cash and bonds and save more - leading to deflation or recession or both. Japan is a prime example of such a shift of investment preferences. When prices collapse sufficiently to become attractive, investors pile back into both the capital and real estate markets. This cycle is as old and as inevitable as human greed and fear.

Monday, 21 June 2010

Breaking into Home Ownership - Finding a Fixer Upper

With the housing market becoming more expensive, buyers must look for the best way to find an affordable home. A fixer upper is a great way to affordably buy your first home in the California housing market. Buying one  away from the city is even more affordable since it is not a candidate for a teardown where the land is the most valuable asset.

If you are in the market for a new home, but do not want to spend tons of money or just can’t afford today’s rising home costs, you may want to look into buying a fixer upper.  By purchasing a home in less than perfect condition you will be able to save yourself a lot of money.  If this sounds like something you are interested in, you are in luck.  There are thousands of homes available all over California waiting to be restored to beauty.  All you need to know is where to look. 

Listed below are the three most common ways that you can find a fixer upper in your area.

1. The most traditional way of finding a fixer home is simply getting in your car and scouring the neighborhoods that interest you.  By doing this you may not come across a lot of properties, but you may find the one that really catches your eye.  If you do happen to find a fixer upper this way, make sure that you take down the address as well as the name and number of the real estate agent on the sign. 

2. Finding a home to restore can also be done by searching the classified ads.  This is also a more traditional method of finding a new home.  The best thing about searching for a fixer upper this way is that you will be able to search by location and price without ever having to leave home.

3. And of course you can search for a fixer upper online.  There are two ways to do this:  you can either search a site that offers listings from a variety of different real estate agencies, or you can visit the site of each independent agency.  Either way, you will be able to find a lot of details on any lower priced homes that may catch your eye.  These sites offer information on pricing, as well as pictures of both the exterior and interior when available.  By searching for a fixer upper online, you will ensure yourself of coming across the largest number of properties available in your area, and save yourself some time too!

However, it also pays to use an experienced realtor that can spot major issues, advise you on what extra inspections you might want to consider and also will have a good contact list for reliable contractors and others you may want to consult with.

Overall, finding a fixer upper can be done in a number of different ways.  Instead of overlooking this option, why not give it a try?  It does not cost anything to look, and you may find out that a fixer upper is your ticket into the housing market or a way to gain a dream home. 

In the author box put something like Debra Miller has several years of experience in the real estate market and the web site also allows full MLS access for searching for homes available in the Sacramento area and can help find fixer uppers in the Placerville Real Estate market.

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Broward County Real Estate: Best in Florida

Located in the state of Florida, Broward County is the second largest county in the state in terms of population. According to the most recent estimate the area had a population of more than 1,785,000 people. Fort Lauderdale is the county seat of Broward County. This area is one of the constituents of the South Florida Metropolitan Area. This county has an area of about 1,300 miles sq. and two-thirds of its area lies in the undeveloped Everglades conservation region.

The history of the county goes back to the year 1915, when it was created. Two counties, Palm Beach County and Dade County, contributed equal portions and thus came about Broward County. It was named after Napoleon Bonaparte Broward, who acted as Governor of Florida from 1905 to 1909. Presently Broward County is bordered by Palm Beach County to the north, Miami Dade County to the south, Hendry County to the north-west and Collier County to the west.

Broward County is served by the Broward County School District. It is presently the fifth largest school district in the US and the second largest in the state of Florida. Besides having the advantage of an extensive network of schools, colleges and universities, the place is also home to one of the largest public library systems in the country named Broward County Library comprising 37 branch locations. Fort Lauderdale, Pembroke Pines, Miramar, Hollywood, Coral Springs and Sunrise are all part of Broward County Real Estate.

In terms of transportation, Broward County scores well since three major interstate freeways consisting of Interstate 75, Interstate 95 and Interstate 595 operate in it. Apart from this a street grid runs throughout the county’s area. The Sawgrass Expressway is the basic east-west connector. Good infrastructure in the area is one of the biggest reasons why the economy is doing well commercially. Fort Lauderdale International Airport is known and admired worldwide.

Broward County Real Estate is gaining ground as there are currently 2,271 homes available for sale in Fort Lauderdale, 1,424 homes in Pembroke Pines, 1,767 in Hollywood and 1,515 in Miramar. Broward County economically depends most on the manufacturing sector for subsistence. A range of durable goods like furniture, machinery, transportation equipment etc. and non-durable goods like paper, apparel and chemicals are produced here. Broward County enjoys the best real estate in Florida due to its excellent weather, beautiful beaches, and most friendly and tourist oriented government that are always encouraging an influx of both domestic and international tourism. The economy also has a strong retail trade base with building materials and general merchandising leading the order.

A flourishing economy has prompted real estate trade to grow immensely in the area. Rate of growth of employment is high in Broward County, predominantly because of the service sector. Unemployment rate is very low in this part of the US, most people being self-employed and some being in Government jobs. This is definitely a reason why more and more people are making Broward County their home. Broward County real estate is very popular and in 2008 is expected to continue to rise.

Saturday, 19 June 2010

Brazil: The Latest Exciting Emerging Real Estate Market

Since 2003 the Brazilian Government have committed to making major fiscal, political and fundamental changes to the country to improve the entire environment for foreign direct investment, as a result GDP growth rate is up, inflation is down and real estate prices are beginning to soar as overseas interest in the stunningly beautiful and amazingly diverse country of Brazil is intensifying.

Because Brazil is such a large country covering such a huge landmass it traverses many different geographic, environmental and climatic changes and offers a lifestyle alternative to suit everyone.  The appeal of the country is immediately obvious to anyone who travels to Brazil on holiday and because the path has been smoothed for foreign freehold ownership of real estate in Brazil, more and more people who visit the country are choosing to buy a holiday home or investment property in the country.

The most popular area with holiday makers, second homers and now retirees is the north east of Brazil where the weather is at its best and where the coastal regions are home to stunning palm fringed beaches and growing communities of expatriates who are enjoying the laid back, low cost lifestyle they can achieve in Brazil.

It is in this part of the country that real estate prices are really starting to go up.  The demand for real estate to buy and let is growing rapidly and the purchasing power of those overseas investors entering the market place is strong enough to support property price increases.

Anyone considering the world’s emerging real estate markets for maximum opportunity will find what they’re looking for in Brazil. The country has an active commercial property market, an active tourism market and local and overseas demand for housing is strong, therefore sufficient demand for real estate in Brazil exists creating the perfect environment for profit and gains. 

A final additional tick in the suitability box for Brazil as a destination for investment is the fact that the real estate buying process for foreign purchasers is straightforward, and additional taxes and fees associated with purchasing and owning property or land in Brazil are very low.

Friday, 18 June 2010

Blue Rose Condo Hotel: The Latest Real Estate Trend

Today, one of the hottest commodities in real estate is the condo hotel. Bridging the gap between traditional condominiums and hotels, the condo hotel presents the best of both worlds: luxury accommodations in highly desirable locations along with upscale shops and restaurants. As an example, let's look at the Blue Rose in Orlando, Florida.

Currently in the pre-construction phase, the Blue Rose will consist of three towers housing 256 condominiums and 1,284 condo hotel suites. It will offer everything from lofts and one- and two-bedroom units to 3,000 sq. ft. penthouse suites. The property will be a resort oasis, with a promenade, European cafes, five themed restaurants, private pool cabanas, and a 1,000-seat theater.

The investment opportunity presented by condo hotels is unprecedented. Indeed, most new properties sell out in the pre-construction phase. In doing so, investors are able to obtain lower prices, secure many of the best units, and gain appreciation on their investments before ground is even broken.

Many people opt to purchase a condo hotel not only as an investment, but also as a vacation home. Generally, condo hotels provide first class accommodations in highly desirable locations. When the owner is not using the property, the condo hotel unit can be rented out to tourists. Typically, the owner doesn't have to take responsibility for renting, managing, and maintaining the unit, making the process free of the headaches and hassles of owning other rental properties.

Like any real estate investment, the key is location, location, location. For example, the Blue Rose Condo Hotel is located in Orlando, Florida, one of the hottest housing markets in both the United States and the world. Recently, analysts have reported that Orlando property is undervalued by as much as 30 percent when compared to other major U.S. markets. That, together with an average hotel occupancy rate of almost 80 percent and 40 to 55 million annual visitors, makes Orlando condo hotels prime investment opportunities.

It's easy to understand why Orlando is such a desirable destination. After all, Florida boasts 300 days of sunshine a year, over 1,000 miles of coastline, and an average temperature of 70 degrees. And Orlando is the center of family-friendly theme park destinations. Walt Disney World was first on the block, with 28,000 acres of family fun. Universal Studios and Sea World round out the top three, again with thrills for the whole family. It's estimated that it would take you over two months of eight-hour days to experience Orlando's 95 attractions. It's clear why tens of millions of tourists visit Orlando each year.

It's equally obvious why investors are flocking to buy property in Orlando. Condo hotels, like the Blue Rose condo hotel, are the latest real estate investment trend in hot destinations like Orlando. Between the theme parks, the world-class restaurants, the golf courses, and the opportunities to engage in water sports, Orlando investors are seeing phenomenal returns on their investments.

Thursday, 17 June 2010

Boston Plans To Fight Off Foreclosure Crisis

Boston Plans To Fight Off Foreclosure Crisis

Homeowners are crumbling under the pressure of <a href=””>Boston foreclosure homes</a>. Boston has been facing foreclosure crisis for a couple of years and this is a critical moment for all homeowners in the state. When it looked as if things were going to go out of hand, the Mayor's office stepped in to do their best to control the situation. Patricia Canavan who is an advisor in the Boston Mayor's office is working on a plan and has made an official statement. In the wake of the rise in the number of homes in the Boston foreclosure listings, Canavan believes that the best option is to reclaim neighborhoods that have been left empty due to the ever growing foreclosure crisis. In her speech at the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland Community Development Policy Summit in Cleveland, Ohio, She has urged banks, financial institutions and lenders to make efforts for refinancing as many loans as possible so that foreclosures can be stopped.

According to statistical reports taken out by the Boston Mayor’s office, the amount of sub-prime loans taken by people in Boston is quite high and 65% of those loans were taken out by people the minority neighborhoods or who belong to the modest income group. A major part of the 65% is already in foreclosure. Like other parts of the country, the wave of foreclosure has not spared homeowners in Boston as well. In fact, in the last two years, the rate of foreclosure has increased considerably. In 2006 the total number of <a href=””>Boston bank owned homes</a> was just 64 while 2007 saw an alarming increase with 704 foreclosed homes and as of date (2008) the number is 774 and counting.

The immediate impact of foreclosures includes homeless families, empty neighborhoods, and increase in crime rate, <a href=””>Boston cheap homes</a>, and others. In order to fight the negative aspects of foreclosure on various communities, the Mayor of Boston, Tom Menino has created a tactical team for foreclosure intervention. The team has weekly meetings so that they can work out an effective neighborhood stabilization program.

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Blogging makes Real Estate Brokerage a Whole New Ball Game

"Blogs are telling it like it is at the street level," said Brad Inman of Inman News, a big real-estate news group. Inman said real-estate blogging began in the Bay vicinity, took hold in New York and has now dispersed across the country.

For instance, blog posters might expose flaws at new developments or buildings like roof leaks or heat inadequacies or tawdry craftsmanship or upkeep. They might warn buyers away from dishonest or incompetent agents or overpriced modern housing. They can permit buyers know that a neighborhood can not be secure, that an vicinity floods every spring, or that jets aviate directly overhead when the west wind blows.

It is not all negative. "Comments on our posts often talk about how great a neighborhood is or praise brokers or landlords," said Jake Dobkin, publisher of which has sites covering 15 cities.

Blogs also support even the playing field for consumers. Usually, just professionals could get full access to like price levels and property circumstances. "Blogs add information -- they level the playing field for consumers," said Dobkin.

Making sure you have your ear to the ground is key.

Alexis Palmer, operations head for, which covers New York and Los Angeles, states the strong suit of these sites is that they tell people extra about the areas they might be deliberating moving into. "You can find out about the neighborhood's character," she said, "what kinds of restaurants, stores, and clubs are there."

The info is told by people like you. "Normally, in real estate, most of the information available comes from those representing the sale of properties," said Palmer. "They have a different agenda than the consumer."

Although on numerous blogs anyone can publish and there is trivial fact controlling or exams for truth, that does not entail the information is too untrustworthy. "You get a robust corrections from the community of readers," said Palmer.

It is not only local real-estate or locality circumstances that the bloggosphere plays up. Some, such as real-estate research supplier Jonathan Miller's undertake different national issues.

"I come across information every day about the industry and my blog site is an opportunity to get my take out there," said Miller, that puts up uncomplicated advice and information for buyers on messages like how real-estate deals are made up, alterations in government backed motgage programs, and the course of mortgage costs.

According to Inman, agents, across Web sites like, offer quantitative information about houses - square footage, amount of rooms, etc - but do not explain what the household is actaully worth. bloggers can aid fill that niche with quality based information. He points out a property description can appear on a blog and be promptly backed up or reviewed by posters.

People who know suppose that blog sites empower purchasers, enabling them to produce more skillful picks, receive services at a better value, and locate more effective brokers and additional service providers. It can even assist them cut in to that average six point broker commission when they sell a property, According to Dobkin, by affording them the information and assurance to carve out more enhanced trades.

Visit one of  the most articulate and fact filled resources <a href="">real estate blog</a> resources on the web.

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Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Bicycle Realtors: The Next Generation in Real Estate Marketing?

They're mean. They're green. And they're going to help you buy your next house. There are a growing number of realtors who are taking green home buying to the next step and using bicycles to show their clients potential places to hang their helmets.

If you're looking for environmentally friendly home resources, a cycling enthusiast or even just someone who is dreading a day in a hot car, driving from house to house, a cycling realtor may be right for you. This group of realtors are not only using an eco-friendly way of connecting you to the right house, they are also aware of the issues facing the environmentally sensitive home buyer. Casually cycling from home to home can be a lot more relaxing than a tense time in the car, and it's healthier for you, too.

In a search for bicycle realtors, you find that most of them aren't just into cycling for the health benefits; they are concerned about their community's environment. They may use a car in bad weather, but they believe that using a bicycle when at all practicable is the ethical choice for today's realtors. Along the way, you'll find that a realtor who bicycles as part of his job is also cognizant of the environmental impact of real estate on the earth. For the person looking to buy a house that is energy-efficient and is less of a burden for the earth to carry, a realtor who believes in bicycles is a good one to consider.

For cycling enthusiasts who have to find a home, the bicycling realtor would be the obvious choice - after all, this person will know what to look for when you say you want safe storage for your $3000 touring bike or even a decent area for your $50 commuter bike. They'll understand when you say that you need a decent workshop with easy-in, easy-out access. And, of course, they'll make sure that you are alerted to available houses situated near cycling trails and designated bicycle routes in the city.

For those who are not die-hard cyclists, the bicycle realtor may still be a good choice. You would be surprised at how much less stressful a house-hunt is if you spend a good part of the day leisurely cycling from one house to the next. Even if you're determined to use the car to get around, that's okay. Just don't be too surprised if your realtor gets there before you on two wheels!

Finding out more: Chris Chopik, the pedaling force behind is one force behind this campaign, being a both car-free realtor and an environmental activist. The website is currently taking registrations from realtors who want to market themselves as BicycleRealtors. It is the goal of the website to become a resource for those who are interested in this new breed of real estate agent.

Monday, 14 June 2010

Best Investment Real Estate Locations

Where are the best investment real estate locations? If you have enough experience investing in real estate, you can make money almost anywhere, but there are always places that are better or worse for real estate investments.  For maximum profits, you want places that have a better demand/supply ratio. You can use the questions below to find them.

<b>Real Estate Demand</b>

 1. Does the area have decent job growth? Ask local authorities and use census information. Ideally, you want to see job growth equal to or exceeding population growth. You also want areas with professional jobs moving in. It is estimated that for every professional job created, there are four service jobs created, and all those employees need a place to live.

 2. Is the population growing? You can check the US Census figures online, or ask the local government if they have the statistics. Stay away from areas that have little growth.

 3. Is there a decent quality of life? It's subjective, but important. Are there theaters and bookstores? Count coffee shops and cafes. Trendy areas usually have increasing demand for housing. It's also a good indication of a high quality-of-life if people are willing to take lower-paying jobs just to live there.

 4. Is there wealth in the area? It's a good sign when there is some degree of wealth in a town. Look for nice homes. Wealth means everything doesn't die when the economy slows.

<b>Real Estate Supply</b>

 1. Number of homes for sale? Lower supply of homes for sale means upward pressure on prices. This indirectly drives up rents as well, which makes for better investing.

 2. New construction? Census figures can tell you what's happened over the last ten years. Check with the local authorities to see if the the number of housing units they've issued permits for is more or less than the expected population growth.

 3. Rent and vacancy levels? Rents have to be high enough, and vacancies low enough to justify investing. When we first came to Tucson, every building had vacancies We saw a man holding a sign that read, "Apartment - $250 Per Month." A great place for renters, but not so great for landlords.

 4. The available land that is buildable? Of course, less available land is better for future appreciation. When the land runs out, the prices start accelerating upwards.

When you use these questions to compare various towns and cities, you'll see the differences more clearly. You'll have an idea about how housing demand compares to supply in each. This will help you pinpoint the best investment real estate locations.

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Best House Color to Sell

Love at first sight is a concept that applies to the real estate market. So, what is the best house color to sell your home to a love struck buyer?

Best House Color to Sell

When you go to social events, do you make an effort to snazzy yourself up? Of course you do. The simply fact is attraction is a key factor in forming relationships and the same applies to your house. When you put the house on the market, you need to make it look good for the dates with potential buyers. The color of your house can make all the difference.

First, there is no absolutely correct answer to the best color. Instead, the decision depends on the makeup of your home and the surrounding landscape. Let’s take a look at some issues:

1. Whatever color you choose, make sure it doesn’t clash with the other homes in the neighborhood. An otherwise appropriate color could end up making your house an eye-sore.

2. The Roof. What color is the roof on your home? If it is a red tile roof, off-whites are probably going to be the best choice. Dark green will not. Unless you are going to invest money in a new roof, make sure the paint color doesn’t clash with it.

3. Highlights. If there is a particular part of your house that should be emphasized, used light colored paint around it to draw attention.

4. Hide It! Conversely, if there are parts of the house that are mundane, use darker colors to draw attention away from them.

5. On large flat surfaces, such as the side of a garage, keep in mind the color you choose will have a washed out appearance.

Now we get to the fun part. After considering the above issues, make a preliminary list of colors and buy small cans of each color. In a private area of the house, start applying samples strokes a couple feet long and a foot or so wide. Try to paint examples in both shaded areas and those exposed to the sun.

Do not immediately judge the results of your experiments. Instead, wait a few hours for the paint to dry and then start comparing. Dry paint takes on a very different appearance than wet paint.

Once the paint is dry, take a long look at each sample. You will typically find the colors look much different than you thought they would. You may find one color is perfect or you may find something a little different would be best. Either way, you’ll have come up with the best house color to sell your home.

Saturday, 12 June 2010

Benefits Of Using Private Label Rights Content

One of the most popular questions circulating the internet industry today is how private label rights content can help build traffic. And if you know the answer to this question as well as the benefits, you may find out that your site is more successful than you ever thought possible.

Private label rights content can be legally edited after you purchase the rights. This means that you can do whatever you want with the articles; it is up to you to make the work.

Listed below are a few reasons on why you should use private label rights content, as well as how it can benefit your site.

1. By using private label rights content you will save yourself a lot of time over the course of a month. Think about, how long would it take you to write a high quality article? An hour, maybe longer? Instead of tying up all of your time writing new content, you can simply use private label rights content. This way you can post new content to your site on a monthly basis in no time at all.

2. When you use private label rights content you can avoid outbound links that are included with other articles. This way you can make your content look much cleaner, while also having the ability to add links that you are interested in.

3. You can edit private label rights articles in whichever way you would like. This means that you can complete edits, or add and subtract as much information as you would like. Remember, you own the articles so you can do whatever you want to them.

4. You can take credit as the writer of the article. By doing this you will be able to establish yourself as an expert in your industry. This alone will go a long way in garnering new clients, which will in turn increase your profits.

5. When you buy private label rights content, you are buying articles that you written by professionals. This means that you never have to worry about the content being inaccurate, or poorly written. If you are not a great writer yourself, this is reason enough to use private label rights content.

6. Buying private label rights content means that you are going to get several articles related to the same subject. This makes things much easier because you will be able to build your site with your interest in mind, and then find private label rights content that adheres to those guidelines.

These are just some of the benefits that go along with using private label rights content. If you are not sure if private label rights content are right for you, why not give it a shot? It will only cost you a few dollars, and it may end up making you much more than that. Consider it an investment in your company. You may be surprised at how well private label rights content will work for your website.

Friday, 11 June 2010

Benefits of Having a Real Estate Agent Website

There are thousands of individuals who rely on selling real estate to make a living.  These individuals are known as real estate agents.  The majority of real estate agents work for an existing real estate agency; however, there are a number of agents who work on their own.  Whether you have your own real estate business or work for an existing company there are number of benefits to having a real estate agent website.

Real estate agents are trained professionals that many individuals go to when they need help to sell their existing home or to purchase a new one.  A large amount of trust is needed to do business with a real estate agent.  New home buyers or sellers want the reassurance that they are doing business with an individual who is working in their best interest.  Since it is often hard to develop a sense of trust with an individual that you hardly know a real estate agent website could come in handy.

A real estate agent website is not guaranteed to prove that a real estate agent is legitimate or offering the best service around; however, it is still helpful.  A real estate agent website will give you valuable insight into the personal life and professional training that a real estate agent may have had.  A real estate agent website will common have information on the agent in question.  Common information may include their age, where they live, any children, any community ties, where they went to school, or any relevant real estate training they may have had. 

If you are a real estate agent and you currently do not have a real estate agent website you should consider having one made.  When making a real estate agent website there are two options that you should consider.  You can develop your own website or hire a professional to do it for you.  Hiring a professional will cost money; however, professional websites are more likely to increase your website traffic and possibly your real estate sales.  The end result would make this money well spent.

If you are a real estate agent working on your own then it may be easier to make the decision to have a real estate agent website developed.  If you are a real estate agent who is employed by a larger company you may have to have company approval before having a real estate agent website developed.  If this is the case you should not be afraid to approach your supervisor.  It is highly likely that having a real estate agent website will increase the number of clients who obtain their services.  It is possible that your supervisor may even wish to have all of their real estate agents develop their own website. 

Since there are a large number of benefits to having a real estate agent website you should not be without one any longer.  Developing a real estate agent website is easy to do.  Why lose potential sales just because you do not have a website?

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Bellingham Real Estate Investing Can Be Profitable

With its beautiful shoreline, lush fir forests and stunning Cascade Mountains Bellingham, WA real estate is certainly outstanding property to consider investing in.  Prices on land and homes have risen in the Bellingham Bay area during the last several years making it a little more difficult to find affordable housing for the average person.  Because of this, many first time homeowners as well as investors sometimes turn to the foreclosure market in Bellingham, WA.   

Although the Bellingham real estate market has not been hit with an unusual amount of foreclosures compared to many other parts of the nation, there are still an abundance of opportunities to find that steal of a deal.  Everyone should realize that investing in Bellingham real estate or foreclosures is not "amateur night."  It can be risky.  You must do a tremendous amount of homework and know what you are doing.  It’s usually best to have a qualified real estate broker or real estate attorney represent you in this endeavor.

You can minimize your risks in the Bellingham real estate market

If you want to buy foreclosure properties in Bellingham, WA, you must know how to find the potential property and access its value.  You must know how to carefully research and inspect the property, so you don’t get stuck holding a money pit - or ever worse, a totally worthless piece of paper.  You must also learn how to deal with home owners, how to bid on property and how to buy well below the market value so that you can sell for maximum profit.

Do your homework and learn how to:
-Research property titles, mortgages and deeds
-Obtain financing
-Avoid the most common pitfalls

Good and bad candidates for buying foreclosures

Investing in foreclosures in Bellingham, WA is not right for anyone who is currently having financial problems and is hoping a foreclosure will bail them out.  This is not easy money regardless of what the late night infomercials may say.

Foreclosures in the Bellingham real estate market can be very right for a person who has a ton of cash, a steady job, a reliable cash flow or a financial backer.  A backer can be anyone from a business partner to your grandmother.  If this is something you really want to do, you can always find sources for investment capitol.  

What kinds of things do you look for as a Bellingham real estate foreclosure investor?

Lots of things, from top to bottom and inside and out.  Look at cracks in concrete, windows, roof, and doors - look at everything.  Foreclosures aren’t always in top-notch condition.  The owners may not have been able to afford to keep up maintenance.  If you can’t hire a professional home inspector in Bellingham, WA, do what you can by inspecting the property yourself from all angles outside. 

Things to avoid when investing in foreclosures in Bellingham, WA

Buying from long distance, in a distressed neighborhood, preconstruction projects and avoid buying from anyone that promises you cash back at closing.  This is totally illegal.

Types of Foreclosures in Bellingham real estate

Many aggressive investors go after foreclosures when there is a downturn in the housing market.  Foreclosures are homes that people have lost because they didn’t pay their mortgage payments or property taxes.

Pre-foreclosure: The owner has missed three or more payments and the lending bank has started foreclosure proceedings.

Foreclosure Auction: The home is released to the mortgage company and they can arrange an auction. 

Real Estate owned properties (REOs): Real Estate Owned by the lender, this status indicates the lender or bank now owns the property as a result of a foreclosure .

Each of these types of foreclosures offers its own particular unique opportunity for the investor.  In Bellingham real estate, the homeowner can still list the property as a "short sale."   This is where the bank will consider offers that will not pay off the mortgage in full.  The bank will forgive the difference owed because it will be less of a loss than if the bank had to go through all of the steps of foreclosure --- foreclose on the property, prepare it for a sale and then resell it at a later date.

Most Bellingham real estate investors know they can often buy these homes for 15-20% less than market value.  If the property goes through full foreclosure, the bank will either place it up for auction or list it with a good real estate agent.  If the property goes to auction on the courthouse steps, bidding is usually extremely competitive, but it is here that investors often have the opportunity to make the largest profit. 

The earlier you buy in the process, the better the opportunity of making a good profit.  You must know the current value of the property, the elements of time and market cycles.  If you have to make repairs, you must know how to figure your rate of return and in what time frame.  If you have the necessary skills and qualities it takes for investing in Bellingham real estate and foreclosures, it can indeed be a very profitable investment.

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Before You Buy Your Apartment Complex…

Purchasing an apartment complex as an investment is a fantastic way to watch an asset single handedly generate thousands, even hundreds of thousands of dollars in a very short amount of time!

A popular investment strategy, especially for new investors, is to purchase a more run down, mismanaged apartment complex at high cap rates. The cap rate, or capitalization rate, is found by dividing the Net Operating Income by the Purchase Price. Properties that are low performing often sell their apartments at a higher cap rate because there is more of a risk associated with them.

These properties are in need of many changes in order to become a commercial property that is working at its maximum potential.

Before you purchase a large commercial apartment complex, you need to get certain information. This information is crucial to your assessment and evaluation of the property.

There are two states you need to understand regarding the property, the state it is in currently, and the state it will be in after you fix all the major problems.

When you first find or are introduced to a property, be sure to ask for the income and expense statements. A lot can be told from analyzing the numbers that are reported on a monthy, quarterly or yearly basis. You can even use them to see how the property has performed over time. You will be able to see gross rents, expenses, net operating income, and all the items in which income and expense fall under such as refrigerator rentals and pool maintenance, respectively. Use this tool as a way to project future income after raising rents, filling the vacancies, transferring all costs to the tenants, and making the community an overall enjoyable place to live.

You must know how many units are in the complex, and what condition they are in. You can see what condition they are in by checking a certain percentage of the total units and assume that most are in that condition. However, it is always better to check all the units so you know exactly what condition the apartments are in. This could be a basis for lowering the asking price if the units are in far worse condition than you originally thought.

The vacancy factor is an important one. When a property has many vacancies, like 20% and above, it is not performing well. If you can fill these vacancies, then your ability to turn the property around is much greater! You must view all working leases, and ask the current tenants to sign a paper to verify the leases that you were given by the owner or working manager. You would be surprised how many owners may try to decrease their vacancy factor by false leases, just to make their property more enticing. However, if you are fixing the property up, then the larger the vacancy, the more opportunity you have to increase value and find a profit!
In order to evaluate this property, you must divide the asking price by the number of units and see what the price is per unit. You can use this to compare other similar complexes in the area. You also want to know what they are charging as rent, and what type of leases the tenants have. If the rents are below market rents, then you have the ability to increase value there. If your tenants have a full service, or net-net lease, then you have an opportunity to change it to a triple net lease, where the tenants pay taxes, insurance and utilities. You can literally pass all the costs of running the apartment to the tenants. After all, they are the ones using the facilities.

I am sure you can see the themes here. You want to identify areas where you can either increase or create value that was not there before. Be sure to get all the facts and numbers verified before you purchase your great investment. Be prepared to do some work to turn the place around. However, it will definitely pay off shortly when you use some simple tool, like increasing the rent and painting the exterior, making it a community where people want to live!

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Before Moving Anything Into Your New Home

Before moving any of your belongings into your new home, its important to make sure that everything is as it should be.  You may have had a list of repairs you expected – or this may be the first time you've seen the house empty. 

Take some time to go around with a notepad and check all of the sockets for obvious signs of wear and tear and look for damage that you might be otherwise liable for.
Ensure that any cupboards are empty, free of damp, mold or bad smells, and keep a close note of what where the electricity, water and gas stopcocks are.  While doing this, you'll also be getting a feel for where you can place any furniture, how to get it up any stairs or even just into the house. 

Note down any damage or concerns you have to be discussed with whomever you're dealing with – its important to have these notes before moving anything in so that you can get the problems remedied as soon as possible.

If you're letting from a landlord, he'll give you a list of any fittings, fixtures and furniture he's leaving – its very common nowadays for landlords to leave 'white goods' – kitchen appliances, such as the fridge, freezer, washing machine and cooker. 

If you're letting, your landlord should also give you contact details, emergency repair numbers and any paperwork pertaining to these emergency repairs that you may need.  You may also want to get bank details or arrange a good time to come and collect rent.  Any final paperwork can be signed now, and then you can start making your new place your own.

You should also ensure that the central heating and boiler are working correctly and collect any manuals for these from the previous occupant – these manuals will save you a lot of frustration in the long run.

Monday, 7 June 2010

Become A Commercial Real Estate Negotiation Expert

In commercial real estate you are constantly going to be using negotiation skills. Your negotiations skills will be put to use, not only in the process of creating an offer and working to get it accepted, but also with your contacts, brokers, buyers, sellers, engineers, and lenders. In any situation where there are more than two interests, you can rest assured that negotiations must take place in order to satisfy everyone's goals.

Many people are afraid of negotiation, usually due to lack of experience. Once you begin practicing your skills, it will get easier for you, and may even become fun! Negotiation is filled with tactics and problem solving that are used to yield the best results for each party. Being a good negotiator is very important to this business.

There are different negotiating styles that work for some people, and not others. For example, some find success with a very strong, even intimidating approach in negotiation.  I prefer to use a straight forward approach.  I am prepared, informed and persuasive.  I am confident, as I have anticipated the questions and concerns the other party may have, and will answer them, as needed. This helps me to clearly and confidently negotiate terms. As a result, closing deals is often easy and fun. It is true that different styles should be used in different situations, so study others who negotiate and develop a style that works best for you!

In commercial real estate, as in most businesses, it is best to yield to an agreement that is win-win, meaning both parties are satisfied with the results at some level. If the strongest concerns of each party are addressed and a solution results, the agreement is of mutual benefit to both parties.

If you are not familiar with negotiation, I suggest that you take a class, purchase a book, or find a seminar that covers the basics of negotiation. There are many generic tips and tactics that will sharpen your negotiation abilities, and make it easier for you to get what it is that you want out of an opportunity.

In commercial real estate, there are specific negotiation tactics that can be written into contracts. Many of these tactics require some creativity and are specific to certain situations. Don't be afraid to get creative; after all, this is where commercial real estate gets really fun! You'll be surprised how you don't have to have everything figured out when you put a property under contract!

In commercial real estate, it is always a good idea to write a letter of intent before actually purchasing a property. In residential real estate, a letter of intent is usually not necessary, but in commercial real estate, I consider it a necessity.

The letter of intent should be clear, concise and not in legal format. It should appeal to the owner as a direct, personal letter, explaining your purchasing intentions with the property. Many people put in terms, closing dates, length of due diligence, and so on in the letter of intent. Negotiation can take place here, without any money being permanently spent by the buyer, or a deal completed. It can open a dialogue between you and the buyer, and start negotiations early in the game without anything being set in stone.

Another tactic that can be written into the letter of intent is known as an option contract. This option contract is a good way to investigate the property; you then have time to begin putting together a deal to make sure it is feasible. You can offer a certain amount of money to tie up the property in order to do some initial research, and not even mention closing a deal yet. This is a great option that can allow you to decide to move on with a property and begin negotiating, or simply move on to the next opportunity in a short amount of time. The option can be as simple as 15 days to do some preliminary work with $15,000 at risk. At the end of the 15 days, you may option for a full due diligence period and continue with the purchasing process.

When negotiating an offer, and you still have some questions left unanswered that will be unveiled during the due diligence, you can always write an item subject to or contingent upon the ability for you to do to the property what you intend. For example, if you are purchasing raw land zoned R-1, single family housing, and the broker mentions that the city would be supportive of rezoning the property commercial, which would greatly increase the return on investment, then you could write in the contract that you will purchase the property if you can get the property rezoned to commercial. This is done often, and works with many different variables that could affect the use of the property.

Writing in contingency clauses can be a great way to protect your interest and make sure that you end up with a property set up properly with a favorable exit strategy.

As we all recognize, seller's have specific needs that need to be met. A buyer may really want to take the opportunity that the property would provide, but realizes that he or she may not be able to satisfy all the needs of the seller up front. A negotiating tactic that would work here would be for the buyer to satisfy the seller's needs in two or more parts.

The buyer could set up two dates to pay the seller- with money in the beginning, and then money at the end of a certain period. This would allow the buyer to take the profit that he made from the property, and give the seller his money. As long as you satisfy the basic, up front needs of the seller, he or she may be willing to accept these terms, and you are on your way to fulfilling another opportunity!

As there are many other negotiating tactics that you will create to satisfy the requirements to make a solid deal, there is a really great tactic that allows you to continue to invest money into commercial real estate without paying taxes on capital gains! This option was made possible through the Internal Revenue Service tax section 10-31, better known as the 10-31 Exchange. This allows for sellers to use the profit from the sale and reinvest it in another commercial property without paying one cent in taxes! Can't get much better than this for investors!

There are investors who are strictly involved in 10-31 exchanges, and it is a great way to keep the cash flow moving from one property to another with the benefit of full profits and no taxes. Sometime this tactic is a great choice and should be added to the contract when it can be optimized.

As you can see, the negotiation tactics in commercial real estate are there to protect your interests and maximize results. Be creative with these negotiations, and always be confident when walking into a deal. Be prepared, informed and persuasive. It is also necessary for you to keep your emotions at bay and your ego out of negotiations. You have to be prepared to walk away from any deal that cannot be made to fit your needs.

Always make an effort to sharpen your negotiating skills, and finely tune the tactics you use to increase your bargaining power. Having a few extra “tricks” up your sleeve will enable you to make a deal in your favor and get the results you want.

Sunday, 6 June 2010

Bathroom Design Strategies That Increase The Value Of Your Home

When it comes to adding value to your property, the experts in real estate will agree that to capitalise in the bathroom and kitchen almost certainly guarantees profitable returns.

If you're considering making your home appealing to potential buyers, then one of the first places to start is in the bathroom. With countless accessories and appliances on the market, making a decision that will ultimately allow you to reap the rewards is daunting.

When it comes to bathroom design, what is it that most people really want? Would choosing a spacious whirlpool bath above a traditional bath be financially beneficial in the long haul?

Wouldn't designing your bathroom be a much easier task if you were armed with a guideline of what tickled the fancy of potential homebuyers? If you're going to design your bathroom get it right the first time round to avoid flushing away hard-earned pounds.

Hello simplicity

From as far back as the 1960s much focus was placed on bold colour in the bathroom. Patterned wall tiles of nautical creatures and over-the-top colours were the trend, along with plastic. Plastic bathroom décor was the craze, from bold orange, olive green, mustard yellow and chocolate brown coloured toothbrush, soap and towel holders, to thick patterned plastic shower curtains that screamed colours of the boldest nature.

As the times moved on, the 1970s and early 1980s became a period when gold bathroom fixings and furnishing, such as taps, towel rails and toilet roll holders, were considered very stylish. These ostentatious gold trimmed features were all the rage, and bathroom décor was 'loud'.  Added to this were those once delightful bathroom suites in colours avocado, coral pink, and chocolate brown. Bathroom colour has changed dramatically over the past decade, and shades have become more neutral, sometimes with a hint of colour that adds a complementary vigour to the overall scheme. 
Of the many hundreds of people who took part in Plumbworld's recent bathroom survey, an overwhelming 82 per cent said they “hated” the once glorified avocado and coral pink bathroom suites, colours remnant of 1970s and 1980s, which are typically characterised as being dark and dull.

According to the survey, chrome bathroom taps were much preferred to gold.

So, when designing and decorating your bathroom keep those dark colours at bay, consider white suites, and opt for chrome fixings and furnishings instead of flashy gold.

Shower power

When planning the design of your bathroom, one of the most important aspects to consider is placing a shower. Some bathrooms don't have adequate space to include a shower cubicle, so assess your options. Consider installing a shower over the bath if space is limited.

The survey showed that 94 per cent of its participants believed that a shower in a bathroom was very important, and 81 per cent said they preferred a separate shower enclosure in a large bathroom. Almost 65 per cent said their ideal would be a power shower, while 27 per cent preferred mixer showers, and only 12 per cent opted for electric showers.

If you have chosen a shower over the bath, then think about placing a fixed glass screen instead of a shower curtain. It may cost a few extra pounds, but more than half of the survey's contributors preferred a fixed glass screen to a shower curtain.

Choosing your bath tub

Contrary to common belief, adding a whirlpool bath to increase property value doesn't always do the trick.  So if you're contemplating selling your property, try to avoid purchasing a whirlpool bath in the hopes of gaining additional profit.

The survey revealed that close to 53 per cent of its participants were not phased by them, while only a small 38 per cent of participants “loved” them. Surprisingly, 62 per cent said they had “no strong view” towards corner baths either, which means the traditional rectangular baths still hold clout against their spruced up counter parts.

Bathroom flooring

Try to avoid the urge to place carpets on the bathroom floor, according to the survey it is not too favoured. The survey showed that the preferred floor covering was tiles, with 75 per cent saying they “loved” a tiled bathroom floor. Popular vinyl flooring has not yet lost its place in the bathroom, with more than 61 per cent saying they didn't have any strong likes or dislikes towards it.

When choosing your bathroom flooring, tiles is the favoured option, but if the budget is tight, then vinyl flooring won't let you down.
Apart from the flooring, make sure your windows look appealing. When it comes to dressing your bathroom windows, steer clear of those bathroom nets and fabric curtains. The survey showed that 94 per cent said they favoured blinds in the bathroom to curtains.

Keep it clean

If you are planning to put your home on the market, inspect your bathroom for those small generally unnoticed flaws, like mould on the silicone sealant around the bath, and even on your shower curtain if you have one. Potential homebuyers may notice these small faults, which could send then running!

Saturday, 5 June 2010

Basics Of Home Buying

The most important investment you will ever make is probably the purchase of a home. Finding the right home for you can be a long and arduous process, but there is no getting around that.

Know Your Wants And Needs

Before embarking on your journey of house hunting, you must know what you really want to find. Sit down with pen and paper and list all the features you care most about, such as:

- Location (in a particular city, school district or neighborhood)

- Size -- how many bedrooms and bathrooms

- Parking -- a 1-car garage or 2?

- Style -- 2-story house or ranch style home?

- Heating -- central heating and/or air conditioning?

Equally important, on a new sheet of paper list all the features you absolutely do not want in a house. For example:

- high-traffic area.

- high noise area (airport, train station or highway in close proximity)

- maintenance -- major repairs needed

As you look at houses, keep both lists in mind. Your lists may change over time as you do more looking. You'll want to add or remove features, or perhaps you'll become willing to make compromises. Realize that you most likely will not find the "perfect" home. Experienced homebuyers will tell you, perfect homes are not found, they are made perfect through hard work.

Get Your Credit Report In Order

Prior to looking at properties, you must get your finances in order. This is the time to review your credit report and clean it up, if need be, to maximize your credit score. Many people do not realize how important it is to check your credit report periodically to make sure it is accurate. You should pay off any past due amounts, or negotiate a settlement price to close the debt. Get such agreements in writing, before paying any settlement. Keep all receipts for any settled items from your credit report since it may take months to get the debt actually removed.

Research Your Home-Buying Options

Decide what kind of property you are interested in. Do you want a HUD property, a foreclosure, real estate, or property for sale by owner?

A number of web sites list homes according to city, state, or price range. Visit these sites to see pictures of homes, many with virtual tours, and review the listing features.

Get Pre-Approved For A Loan

You're ready now to find a lender and get yourself pre-approved for the loan. Being pre-approved offers a number of advantages. It will clarify the price range you can afford. Also, once you find the home you want, you can place an immediate offer. If you have to wait for pre-approval, someone could buy the house right out from under you.

Several special programs are often available from lenders, such as the FHA or Ameri-Dream, that can save you money in the closing. Ask the lender about any special programs before you decide on a loan.

Find A Good Real Estate Agent

It is wise for the first time homebuyer to work closely with a real estate agent, no matter what type of property you're looking for. A knowledgeable real estate agent will make your house-hunting much easier. A good real estate agent is usually a good negotiator, and will be able to help you with the complicated paperwork involved in placing an offer on a house or in closing a deal.

It's essential that you have a real estate agent working for you as the buyer, rather than relying on the seller's agent for the house you want to buy. The latter can involve a conflict of interest, which usually works to your disadvantage.

To select a real estate agent, you should check with your friends and neighbors for recommendations. Find an agent you feel comfortable with and who is knowledgeable about the area you hope to buy in.

These are just the basics of home buying. You will find many details you need to master as you move through the buying process, but having these basics under your belt will give you a head start.

Friday, 4 June 2010

Bargain Real Estate in Costa Rica

Although real estate prices have skyrocketed in Costa Rica in the last decade, there are still some deals to be had. If you are interested in purchasing land only, a piece of land can be purchased in the mountain areas of Costa Rica from $1,000 to $5,000 per acre, or if you prefer the ocean, land goes for $10,000 to $30,000 per acre. If you buy 40-50 acres or more, the prices could drop by half.   The prices in Costa Rica have skyrocketed in the last decade, thus making the real bargains in some areas more and more unavailable. A good alternative for the investors is to look not for a house but for land parcels ready for development. Far from the cities, a piece of land can be bought in the mountains and highlands from $1,000 to $5,000 per acre. The lots with ocean views go for $10,000 to $30,000 per acre and the beachfronts begin from $50,000 per acre. If the investor decides to buy in volume, some 40-50 acre parcels or a bigger lot, the prices could even drop by half.

As far as homes go, there are still properties in Costa Rica that are being sold under their market value.  The reasons for this vary, but the main reason these properties are being sold for such a low price is because maybe their owners need to sell them fast.  The majority of properties that you can find at a bargain price are generally located fairly far away from the major cities of Costa Rica. It is much harder to find properties near the major cities at a reduced price. However, it is not impossible to find a rare property near the city that is being sold for a bargain.  Doing your research, looking at listings, and asking for help from a real estate will pay off for. You may get lucky and find the property of your dream at an ideal location for a price below market value.

Thursday, 3 June 2010

Banks Profit Big Killing Real Estate Values

Banks Profit Big Killing Real Estate Values

Everyone is aware now of the slow housing market and the fact that many people are losing their homes.  There is, however, another segment of the housing market that is seldom spoken of, but which is also being hard-hit by the current situation.  And the banks - who started the whole "tumble" - and who "profited greatly" in creating the "tumble" - are still profiting BIG !

First, let's talk about the homeowner.  In the 1990's, banks developed a GOLDMINE in the housing industry...the equity loan.  They began a huge marketing program to encourage people to take their money (savings) out of their homes and spend it.  They touted that the homeowner could "use the money for anything you want - a vacation, home improvements, college tuition, new car, whatever".  The banks then proceeded to appraise the home over the home's actual value and loan people equity up to 125% of the home's value.  This meant that people would no longer have any savings in their home - they would owe the whole value of the home at that time.  Anyone who didn't take out the money and spend it, was considered foolish - to have credit cards or pay interest on anything else, when they had money available in their home that they could pull out. People used their homes like an ATM.  Anytime the bills got too big, they just refinanced and took cash out or borrowed on an equity loan. Who made the most with interest and fees? The banks.

Who made the most money on these loans?  Yes, the banks. The homeowners didn't care about the fees the banks charged or the closing costs. The only thing they looked at was the big fat amount of money they could pull out and spend - as if it were the lottery. Who profited big? The banks.

As times were good and home values steadily increased, another segment of the housing market developed.  In times of affluence, ordinary people became investors, buying homes and condos to offer as rental property.  This is an intelligent way to save money on taxes and serve those who cannot afford to buy their own home, by providing a nice place to live for a reasonable monthly rent.  The other advantage, of course, was the appreciation on the property and having someone else help you pay the mortgage on the loan. The problem, however, was that much of the money they used to invest, came from home equity loans that they had taken out on their primary residences. The banks made this easier by providing "second mortgages", with high fees of course, and added prepayment fees and penalties to ensure they made a high profit, regardless of the life of the loan and with second mortgages, you could buy a 2nd or 3rd or 4th house or condo with very little down. But when the market values slipped and the appreciation never came, people lost money on the rentals and it resulted in losing on their personal residences also, because of the home equity loans we talked about above.   The only ones still guaranteed to make money?  The banks.

Now, that people have spent all of their savings in their homes and they owe more than the home could be sold for, many homeowners are letting the house go back to the foreclosure.  As many foreclosures as there are, it's still a small percentage of the total market.  Because it is such a small percentage, the banks can "dump" the houses for half of what would be the real value.  This further devalues the market price of the other homes that are for sale.  It's peanuts to the banks, but to the other homeowners out there that have to sell for one reason or another - it's devastating.

Worst part, when the crisis hit, the government instituted programs to bail out whom?  The banks !

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Bank Foreclosures

Bank foreclosure real estate, also referred to as REOs (Real Estate Owned), is foreclosed real estate that is owned by the bank due to an unsuccessful foreclosure auction. There are several reasons the home may have not sold at the auction. The most common reason is negative equity- the bank foreclosure real estate is worth less than the amount owed to the bank. Of course, the bank seeks to receive the outstanding balance of the original loan; therefore, the minimum bid for the bank foreclosure real estate is usually the amount of the outstanding balance of the original loan, plus interest and any additional fees. No smart investor or buyer will consider bidding on such a property.

Nevertheless, an unsuccessful sale will not stop the bank from trying to make an attempt to get the bank foreclosure real estate sold. The bank will consider removing some or all liens and fees on the bank foreclosure real estate in order to get it on the real estate market and resell it to the public. The resell process may be retrying an auction or working through a Realtor.

This is a hot market for real estate investors. Real Estate investors take an eager interest in bank foreclosure real estate property. The market of foreclosed homes may be large; but, not always suitable for some investors. The foreclosed property may not meet some important needs. Nowadays home buyers and investors alike are scrambling through the market of bank foreclosure real estate looking for better deals. Though, most bank foreclosure real estate property is in poor condition, the low sale price of the home highly compensates for the property poor condition.

Investing in bank foreclosure real estate property offers a great return for investors. Bank foreclosure real estate by far offers greater deals than typical foreclosed homes. As an investor you must consider all your options. Make sure you get the bank foreclosure real estate property at the best price. Hopefully, the bank foreclosure real estate that an investor chooses to invest in will give the investor rewards; such as a larger return in profit, either through renting the home out or through selling the home.

There are several ways to search for bank foreclosure real estate property.  You can search the Internet, magazines, and newspaper listings. The Internet can lead you to thousands maybe millions of connections. Here you can view listing by state, banks, county, and much more.

You should also invest time in finding a good real estate agent.  If they know what you are looking for, they can save you a lot of time and work.  They can also help you determine the true market value of the home you are considering investing in.

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Bangkok Rental Market Thrives

Thailand Property Report by Dawn Ferguson  –  With housing allowances in the range of  Bt70,000 to Bt100,000 a month, Bangkok’s  high-paid expatriates have money to burn - and they want homes with all the Western-amenities they’re accustomed too.

For condominium and apartment owners, this segment of the market is a potential gold mine, particularly given most of these expects are here on a short-term basis. The statistics certainly are promising, but as competition grows, it’s not an easy market to enter.

CB Richard Ellis Thailand executive director James Pitchon told Property Report Thailand that demand for high-end rentals increased in 2006 and the number of expatriates in Bangkok with work permits grew to 67,412 in 2006, a 12.5% increase year on year according to statistics by the Alien Occupational Control division of the Department of Employment. The largest segment of this market is Japanese - 22% - as the so-called “land of the rising sun” is the largest foreign direct investor in Thailand.

Pitchon noted that the rental market is in actuality even higher, as those numbers exclude diplomats and agencies such as the United Nations. They also exclude foreigners without work permits, but Pitchon says they consider most of these to be part of the retiree market, who traditionally buy their units.

“The good news is that demand increased. Last year there was only a limited amount of new supply in apartments, and there were only about 330 units completed last year. But the number of condominium units grew by over 4,000 units. That will continue to be the case in the next two to three years,” he said, but added this figure excluded serviced apartments, which are considered a very different product – somewhere in between a hotel and an apartment. Many now have a hotel license, so they’re operating on a more short-term basis.

“From a supply point of view, the big question is, how many of these apartments are expat quality, and how many owners of these new condominiums will want to lease them out?” asks Pitchon. ”Recently a new supply has appeared in the downtown area, and there’s been a greater focus on small sized units, many of them aimed at the Thai market, so not all the new condo supply will be of a standard that appeals to expats, but there are a lot of condo units.”

Pitchon says the proportion of owner occupation and units purchased by people on a buy-to-lease basis varies from building to building: “Of the developments that are just coming up to completion, the number that will be available for rent ranges between 30-50% at the moment. So, although demand has risen, there will be quite a lot of condominium supply coming on.”

This means that competition is going to be tight in the coming year. Generally, expats given the choice would prefer a single ownership apartment, says Pitchon, because the owner is able to service all their requirements whereas in a condo the owner might not even be in Thailand. And in many cases the owner has not put in place a local manager to look after his apartment. So the challenge for condominium owners who have bought to lease out is how to manage their units because tenants will have questions.

“So if the air conditioner breaks down, who’s going to fix it? It will not be the staff looking after the common areas of the condominium, because their responsibility is not private property. So owners must think about how they will manage and maintain the units.”

This includes implementing pest control contracts, regular A/C maintenance contracts, and, most importantly, there has to be a clear understanding between the owner and the tenant of who’s responsible for doing what.

The most popular area for expats is still Sukhumvit, followed by Central Lumpini and the Sathorn area. There are two satellites, one being around the International School of Bangkok and there is also a smaller cluster around Bangkok Pattana School. As for the up-and-coming riverside, currently there is limited demand from expatriate tenants, generally because of access issues. A small segment of expats are heading to other areas, such as Thonglor. “Again you’ve got access to the skytrain but in a slightly lower density environment,” said Pitchon.

The expat rental market is driven generally by housing allowances granted to employees and employees generally spend all of their allowances, but not put their own money in. “The biggest change in the market has been that Japanese with families now receive higher allowances than they did previously,” says Pitchon. “Some will give Bt70,000 or Bt75,000 for a three-bedroom apartment. The Japanese tend to be at the lower end of the market but they are a significant level of demand.

“What’s happened is that much of the existing stock is over 10 years old. We’ve seen very few apartments built since the financial crisis over the last 10 years, more condominiums, and what has been happening is that new supply, with smaller units, is actually getting higher rents because it looks better. Modern design.”

As for housing rentals, Pitchon says the market is small because there a limited supply of homes in central areas, including in the Sukhumvit area. “Sansiri on 67 had rented well, but there is a limited market for people with over Bt100,000 a month to spend,” he said. “There are few companies that pay that kind of housing allowance.”

As for two-tiered pricing for Thais and Foreigners, there really isn’t a Thai rental market. Given that Thais have the freedom to buy and sell what they choose, unlike foreigners, those with high salaries and incomes just won’t go out and rent 75,000 a month apartments. So there is no Thai market above Bt15,000 a month.

“The rental market is efficient in terms of transparent pricing, information on products and a regular turnover,” said Pitchon. “So if a building doesn’t maintain its standards, then new expats will not move in.”