Category Archives: real estate

5 Real Estate Investment Tips

There are countless tips on real estate investing available and this is by no means intended as a comprehensive list. While every investment has its own intricacies and problems that need to be worked out, there are some very basic aspects that are common to most investment properties. Understanding those aspects and asking questions about them can help you determine whether a particular real estate investment opportunity is for you.

Anything Can Change
Building in the capacity for change in your investment is not only good real estate advice, but good life advice. Aspects of an investment can change at any given time and building in a little cushion in your profit projections for that change will most likely give you a better outlook on the possible outcome of your investment.

This is especially true for something like the tax climate of your investment as changes in tax laws happen regularly. If the tax situation surrounding your investment is the only thing you like about it, it is probably not a sound investment. Solid investments can withstand changes in the tax code, so never rely solely on the stability of tax codes, you will be sorely disappointed.

Do What You Know
It is tempting to get involved in real estate investment opportunities outside of your comfort zone. Maybe the terms look good or the area is nice, but your lack of expertise in the field will ultimately hurt you over the course of the investment. If you are well versed in multi-family homes, do your best to uncover the best investment opportunities in that field. If your bag is fixer-uppers, stick with that. Success is difficult to replicate so if you have a knack for something, exploit that knack.

Compare, Compare, Compare
As any real estate agent will tell you, valuations for a new home put on the market are a direct reflection of other sale prices of similar properties in that area. Your potential investment is the same way. If you are going to rely on rents to make back the money spent on the investment, compare the rents your prospective investment property takes in against similar properties in the area. Are they too high? If so, that may indicate future trouble filling the building at those prices, which then cuts into your profit forecast.

If you are getting involved in a fixer-upper, compare what you think the home will be like in the future to homes that have sold that look similar to that now. Doing so will help you estimate your eventual sale price and the amount of money you should invest to net a decent return.

Hammer Down True Expenses
Just as you want to examine what your incoming cash flow will be on any real estate investment opportunity, you want to investigate your outgoing cash flow as well. What are the key costs involved in running the property? What are the taxes on the property? How much does it cost you when part of your multi-family property is vacant? Sometimes properties can look great when you examine the rent payments coming in but then lose their luster when you look at the cost of running the facility. You need to investigate both sides of the story to get an accurate view of the financial future of your investment.

Know The Building
In real estate investing, surprises are usually costly. Not only should you do a full walk through of the prospective investment yourself, you should also look in to hiring an independent, professional inspector as well. Uncovering problems with the foundation, roof or furnace early can either save you from making a poor investment or give you ammunition to negotiate a lower price.

Not all real estate investments are the same and you will likely run in to a unique problem on every property you pursue. However, by sticking to the tips here, you can give yourself a great foundation from which to operate. Above all, pursue information on the property as vigorously as possible to eliminate the possibility of regretting your investment later.

The Successful Investor: Not What You Think

While much has been done to crush the misconception, many still believe that to be a successful real estate investor, you must either have a lot of money or find some one-in-a-million opportunity. That is plainly not true and while it may certainly turn out that making money through investing comes easier as wealth increases, all wealth has to start somewhere and the real estate investing arena is no different.

In The Beginning
The biggest piece of advice any real estate investor can have when just starting out is to invest carefully. There will be many opportunities as you get deeper into the real estate investing field, but not all of them will set you on a path towards prolonged success. The most successful real estate investors deliberated carefully before picking an initial project, sometimes a hard thing to do when you make your mind up to get involved in real estate investing.

What ends up being the case here is that you will find a way to get involved in an investment without laying out your entire nest egg, though it will take some time. A common way to achieve that low-cost inroad is to partner with another investor on a particular property to get your feet wet and share the risk with another party. You may not see the huge windfall you’ve envisioned, but if you choose the right opportunity you will see enough to continue your investing career.

Save, Reinvest, Rinse, Repeat
Investing is a cycle and as you graduate from your first real estate investing experience, the best thing to do would be to put your earnings away in savings and then take a portion back out to reinvest in a new project. The best investors make a strict habit of saving at least a portion of the proceeds of every investment to gradually build up a fall-back reserve should an investment go horribly wrong.

You will find that most real estate investors make a serious commitment to saving and many never have a reason to stop doing so. While you will most likely run into a life event or investment hiccup that causes you to stop investing for a period of time, you will most likely see a rebound from that and begin again. Remember to save and reinvest your proceeds to continually benefit from your investments.

It Will Get Rocky
Very few real estate investors make it through an entire career without having some hardship and difficulty along the way. For most situations, successful investors will tell you that riding out the storm and waiting out a rough patch is the best way to combat a low market or other investment malady.

Markets, just like so many things in life, are cyclical and if your investment looks dour for a time, you would be well served to wait it out as prosperity is likely to return. That may seem a little touchy feely, but look at the stock market for inspiration. Though there will always be dips in the market, there is eventually a peak to offset that loss. Maintaining a similar outlook of patience on your real estate investments will likewise typically pay off in the end.

Though it may seem like only the wealthy get wealthier, getting involved in real estate investing does not have to be as daunting as it appears. Just getting a foothold in the investment arena with a small deal at the onset of your career is likely to eventually grow into bigger and bigger investments. Make certain that you save and remain level-headed as you go through your investment career and you will be able to speak from a position of authority when people ask you just how you did it.

Are You A Short Term Investor?

The world of real estate investing can certainly seem like a vast one full of many different types of projects and opportunities. That can certainly be true, but by asking yourself the key question of what kind of investor you want to be, you can cut through a lot of that material and focus on the activity that you will not only benefit most from, but will enjoy the most as well.

Asking yourself whether you are a short or long term real estate investor will go a long way towards determining the types of project you should spend your time pursuing and the kind of information you should be soaking up from as many sources as possible. For those that answer the question as short term, your primary purpose is to buy low and sell high, no matter how you get there. There are two main ways.

Put A Home Through Rehab
Perhaps the most common way to take a low-sale price home and convert it into a higher sale price home is through renovations on the property that add real value to the piece of real estate. You’ve no doubt heard of flipping homes or renovating homes and this is where those types of investors put their resources.

The draw for this type of investment just like any short-term investment is the prospect for a quick payoff. Indeed that can be the case but those pondering a pursuit of fixer-upper properties should keep in mind that it takes time and experience to get through a real estate transaction efficiently and first time real estate investors can be overwhelmed by the renovation experience.

The key goal here is to find properties that have the potential to sell for far more than their renovations might cost. That search is being done right now by hundreds of real estate investors in your area, so pinpointing the best opportunities can often be a difficult, competitive pursuit. It may be a good idea to partner up with a seasoned investor on a few transactions before setting out on your own to get the hang of renovations and the homes that are best suited for that kind of investment.

Find A Gem
Many real estate investors skip the renovation portion of the process all together and focus on properties that are undervalued on the market and could be resold almost immediately at a higher price. Obviously, these properties can be more difficult to find and the risk involved is usually higher because undervalued homes are usually undervalued for a reason.

One demographic that finds this type of investment particularly attractive is made up of committed real estate investors that also have a license to buy and sell real estate. One of the key barriers to reselling a home is the expense entailed in real estate commissions on both the purchase and sale of the property. For those that act as their own realtor, that cost goes away and the prospect of a profit increases greatly.

Short-term investments can certainly provide many benefits such as quick profits and the flexibility to quickly pursue other opportunities, but there will always be risks involved as well. If you want to get involved in renovating homes, make sure you do your homework and learn what to look for in a real estate candidate.

If hunting down undervalued homes is what you plan to do, think about pursuing a real estate license as well to cut down on the cost involved in the process. No matter what course you ultimately take, the key piece of advice is to become knowledgeable in the field before ever taking your first step. Real estate investors with the best foundation of understanding are more likely to build upon that and forge successful real estate investing careers.

Your Framework for Real Estate Investment Success

Every real estate investor has gone through the process of getting that first investment opportunity and then running with it to make a profit. While every situation is different and there are probably thousands of examples on initial investment deals, every investor has at least some part of an investment foundation they draw from.

For those that were born into families with a lot of investing experience, that foundation might have been instilled at a young age. For the aggressive investor that begins life in real estate early, perhaps an insatiable thirst for knowledge on the subject provided the basis for success. However, some kind of framework was established in every real estate investor, no matter how informal, and creating your own can be one of the best ways to give yourself a strong chance for investing success.

Create A Process
Having a standard set of steps that you take when reviewing a potential real estate investment opportunity can be a great way to standardize the procedure and give you hard results on the viability of a particular property. Probably chief among the things you want to consider is the rental history of the property. Often, clear trends can be seen over time and if the records on the property have been kept well, you can see what has and what has not affected rent payments over time. This can be a powerful piece of information.

Many investors use an Excel spread sheet or special program to keep track of all of the bits of information turned up regarding a particular property. With this level of organization, you can clearly set up different columns for expenses and revenues on the property to quickly get an idea of the viability of the property and what kind of risk level it might have.

Divide Into Internal, External Forces
In going through the financial data of a property, you will find that there is an almost endless series of bits of data that you will need to process to get to the bottom of a property’s financial health. Divide and conquer is perhaps the best way to get through all of that information and dividing based on external and internal forces is a good place to start.

Internal data refers to everything that speaks to the expenses and revenues seen by the property. The rental history will fall into this, as well any obligations for utility services, contract services like landscaping or snow removal and taxes that need to be factored into the cash flow on a particular property. As you go through the process, you will able to quickly put these bits of information into your spreadsheet or other software to quickly get a look at the internal financial state of the property.

When looking at external forces, you are more concerned about big picture type ideas, things that will impact the market of the area the property sits in. Are there new developments going up around the property? Has population migrated toward or away from the area? Has the per capita income of the area gone up or down over time?

These are all important questions to ask and while you won’t get hard data on one particular property, you will get a feel for the prospects of the area. This feel will leave you better equipped to gauge the risk level on a particular property and the likelihood that the market might dip in that area. While this will never be an exact science, it must go into the process to give you some background on the property.

As you set out to conquer the world of real estate investing, having a trusty model at your side to put investment opportunities through can save remove some of the hassle and stress from the situation. Whether you are a first-time investor or have a few deals under your belt, standardizing a process and giving yourself the proper investment framework to work from can mean a great deal of difference and hopefully, a great deal of profit.

The World of Zero Down Investing

Zero down investing has been one of the big buzz words recently in the real estate investment industry and while there are many things positive about such a situation for a real estate investor, there are also some bits of information that need to be cleared up for anyone interested. Zero down investing can be a great experience for all involved, but having a better understanding of the process will give you a more realistic view of when to use zero down investing as a tool in your real estate transactions.

Zero down investing is not a one-size-fits-all prospect, so understanding a few of the available techniques used to accomplish the goal of zero down investing can help you decide if a particular situation is ripe for that type of financing solution. Not every situation will be eligible for a zero down investing technique, but knowing what is available will help you make that determination. Here are a couple methods.

The Double Loan
Typically, a seller will want around 75 percent of a property’s sale price up front in cash to even think about pursuing a possible real estate transaction with you. Getting a loan from a bank with no down payment for that 75 percent should not be difficult as there are many ways to get guaranteed for such a loan and many banks offer loans without ever delving into your employment status or income level.

So, with that 75 percent out of the way, the problem then becomes scrounging up the last 25 percent to complete the sale. Seller financing is one way to accomplish this and can often work out well for both sides. If the seller finances the last 25 percent of the transaction with no down payment in exchange for favorable terms, you have yourself a zero down investment accomplished through pursuing two separate pieces of the financing puzzle.

In this example, the seller will not only get a nice chunk of cash up front but will also have the benefit of interest-bearing payments over time as a nice investment. Of course, you will have two payments to make and the rent coming in from your investment property would have to be substantial enough to pay both payments, but those properties do exist. Many investors have accomplished investing goals through this method.

Enter the Note Buyer
Involving a note buyer in your zero down investment goal adds a layer of complication to the proceedings and should only be pursued if you truly understand what is being accomplished through involving one. In a note buyer scenario, financing is offered to a property seller in the form of two loans. One loan makes up the bulk of the selling price but is padded with extra value. Another loan makes up the remainder.

For example, on a $100,000 property, one loan could come in for $80,000 and the second for $30,000. Note buyers will purchase mortgages and other loans for a discount, in this case the $80,000 loan. By selling that $80,000 loan to the note buyer for $70,000, that cash is sent to the seller and the note buyer receives the mortgage note in return.

The $30,000 loan would be your responsibility but neither financing option entails a down payment. Obviously, income from the property would have to cover the payments on both loans, but if that math works out, involving a note buyer can accomplish a zero down investment.

Of course, all real estate transactions should be reviewed by experts in the field, whether that is a real estate lawyer, agent or other authority. Zero down investing is a large field and can stand as a term for a wide array of financing arrangements. These are just two ways to accomplish a zero down investing goal. Explore other methods to find the zero down investing method that works best for your real estate.

Foster Successful Investing Habits

The essence of success is achieving a long period of prosperity through your actions. In real estate investment properties, that kind of success can be fostered through committing some habits to your investment routine, using them to continually work towards new opportunities and new investments. By internalizing a few of the following techniques as habits, you can become more successful in your real estate transactions, giving you an edge on the competition (of which there is much in the real estate investment market).

As with most areas of business, getting your name out into the community is a great first step towards developing a network of people that will help you along your path to investment success. Let people know that you are looking for investment opportunities.

Give people you know business cards and ask them to keep their eyes and ears alert for possible properties.

Enlisting those you know and developing a strong network will give you an information pipeline that is unique to you, one that possibly could turn up opportunities others miss. Make it clear that you are available to talk about any opportunity and sometimes they will come to you rather than go out to the public.

Think actively about risk and profit. These may seem like obvious things to think about, but often times investors get caught up in the short-term ramifications of a property and neglect to think about the long term profitability of a property. Conversely, some investors think only about the potential profit of a property and neglect to consider the risk needed to attain that high level of profit.

Internally, you should engage in a balancing ask for risk and profit on every property you assess. Is it in a stable area? Are property values likely to increase? How likely is it that property values will decrease? These are risk-type questions that need to be asked both in the hopes that they are positive and to guard against the answers coming back negative. Never get too concerned with risk or profit singularly, instead consider them both as a sliding scale and consider those that offer a strong balance as the most optimal real estate properties for investment.

The most important piece of advice on how create successful habits is create a plan. With a concrete, pen-to-paper blueprint for the measures you are going to take to ensure success, you are less likely to neglect certain items and more likely to make that plan a part of your daily routine. Talk with a certain number of people in your network each week. Pledge to investigate a certain number of new investment properties each month.

Taking proactive steps is one of the best ways to create great opportunities for yourself in real estate investments and sometimes people simply need a checklist or reminder to keep at those tasks. By developing a plan and going over it as a checklist periodically, you will gradually wean yourself of that need and internalize the habits that will ultimately make you successful.

Once that level of commitment happens, developing opportunities will be less a matter of expending great amounts of energy to stick to a pattern and more an effortless cycle of proactive behavior that creates an advantage for you in what is an extremely competitive real estate investment atmosphere.

However, there is one additional word of warning. Never stop learning new steps to incorporate into your habits. It is one thing to internalize a plan and another to get set in a series of steps that you cannot break free from. Laying a strong foundation of positive habits that can later be added to is worlds apart from learning one set of steps and never deviating from that course of action. Balance your procedure with old and new ideas and you will possess a better chance for real estate investment success.

Do Your Moving Insurance Homework

Packing up all of your worldly possessions can be a daunting task. Hours of packing, taping, moving and storing can leave you drained and dreading the trip across the country or across the city to your new home. After all of the expended energy, seeing damage to your goods along the way could have the real ability to push you over the edge. As a way to protect yourself, moving insurance can be a great way to take some of the sting out of potential troubles along the way.

Some estimates have stated that 20 percent of all consumers have some kind of issue during a move resulting in damage to their possessions. While large-scale moving companies are federally required by law to offer at least some insurance, it is done by the pound and anyone with an iPod knows that your possessions are often worth more than their weight indicates.

Often, homeowners insurance may offer some kind of moving protection, so before any move, it would certainly behoove you to look through your policy to see if that is the case. Research her is necessary as policies vary in what they cover. Some may offer fire protection but not transportation damage issues while others will. Investigate your plan to get a solid idea of what is covered before ever moving on to looking into purchasing additional coverage.

Of course, anytime insurance is involved, taking down an exact inventory of what you’re packing and what it’s worth will give you the basis for any future claim and the ability to accurately shop for the level of insurance that fits your belongings. If you have some free coverage as a part of your homeowners insurance, you only need to purchase extra coverage to bridge the level of your free coverage and the level of your belongings. Obviously that number cannot be known until you sit down and calculate what your belongings are worth and what portion of that amount you want insured.

That coverage is often available directly through your full-service moving company and is again based on the weight of your belongings. That can of base coverage can come in handy if you do not have the time to fully go through your belongings, but doing so will give you an idea whether the amount a moving company will pay in the event of a catastrophe will sufficiently cover the value of your belongings.

For more exact coverage, some insurance companies will offer moving insurance and if you have an insurance agent that you use for other services, inquiring into moving insurance with them would be a good idea. As with other types of insurance, pooling all of your policies with one company can sometimes give you discounts based on volume.

If your insurance company does not offer moving insurance, there are a number that do and it is a matter of research and homework to determine who will give you the best coverage at the lowest cost for the amount you need. Online resources can also play a role here and doing some searches on moving insurance can give you some quick price levels for particular amounts of coverage.

Of course, as with any type of insurance, the more quotes you get, the better off you will be. Policy details and deductible amounts will vary from company to company and the more quotes you solicit, the better your results will be. Keep in mind that with all of your possessions in one truck, a disaster could be just that, disastrous.

Even if you have faith in your moving company to get your goods to where they need to be, take a lesson from those that have seen trouble and at least investigate the prospect of insuring your goods. There are plenty of resources out there and all will help you feel better about watching that moving truck roll out of the driveway.

Why Cheap Homes Are Cheap

When items are discounted at the grocery store, there’s always a reason. Maybe the bread is a little bit stale or the item has been discontinued. Before buying any discount produce, you should probably understand why it is being discounted. The same is true for homes and while there are many cheap homes on the market, learning why that real estate is selling for such a low price will go a long way towards telling you just how worth your effort that property may be.

There are some common reasons why property sells for a low amount or may be listed for a low price initially. Some of these reasons may indicate a home you do not want to get involved with but some may indicate a good deal. When you see a cheap piece of real estate on the market, evaluate it to see which of these situations it falls in to.

A Less-Than-Stellar Area
The location of a home affects its value profoundly and while that can mean great things for a home owner in a posh location, it can also mean suppressed real estate prices in an area that is anything but. Many people think that no matter what, real estate will increase in value. That is not necessarily true and the future fortune of a neighborhood will directly translate into whether your real estate investment or home price swings up or not.

The Fixer-Upper
We have all seen homes that simply need work. For whatever reason, the current owner has simply grown tired of updating a home and that state of disrepair translates into a steep discount in the home’s sale price. If you do not have the stomach to go through the arduous process of repairing a home, these cheap pieces of real estate are certainly not for you. If you are not scared off by the prospect of some labor, these can be great targets.

The Speed Sell
Sometimes a seller needs to sell a property fast, whether to get out of town for relocation or to quickly liquidate some assets. These types of homes present the best opportunities for prospective buyers as these pieces of real estate suggest the least amount of problems. Of course, these homes get snatched up quickly, the very goal the seller has in mind, so finding them can be a bit of a difficult prospect. The best tactic is to monitor an area of town or maintain searches on a set of criteria on a regular basis to turn up all of the new homes that get put on the market every day. The real estate market is a competitive arena, so make sure you are doing all you can to get an edge over the rest of the prospective home buyers out there.

The Mystery
The rest of the cheap homes generally fall in the mystery category and these pieces of real estate are the ones that you need to be most cautious about when investigating for a possible purchase. Homes are always cheap for a reason and there is certainly a reason buried somewhere in the floorboards. Is it near an airport? Does a railroad run through the backyard? Not all mystery homes hold mysteries that are this obvious but the seller is obligated to disclose anything that affects the value of the home, so just make sure you and your realtor ask the right questions.

Doing your homework on why a piece of real estate is selling for the price it is will go a long way towards determining the worth of a potential investment or home purchase. Cheap homes can look attractive at first glance and then lose luster with further inspection. Ask the right questions and do the right research so that you too can make that determination accurately to avoid potential headaches later.

Hunting Down the Perfect House

When the time finally comes to make a move to a new home, families can often times be on one hand extremely excited about the prospect of shopping for a home and on the other hand be unsure as to how to start the process. There are a few important steps that should be taken in any home-buying process to ensure a smooth real estate transaction.

Know What You Want
If you’re upgrading from your current home, odds are you have a good reason. Perhaps your family has grown too large for your old home or perhaps a bump in income has given you the ability to upgrade any of the features of your home. You know why you want to move, now write those reasons down on paper.

When you come to a real estate agent or decide to go out on your own, knowing the kind of square footage you might be looking for, the number of bedrooms, the general area, the school district and other requirements will quickly narrow down your search to homes that are the most relevant to you. By having a good handle on the type of home you’re looking to buy, you cut out a lot of the guess work and wasted time that can take place in the early going.

Pick the Right Real Estate Agent
The best real estate agent is not always the one with his face on the bus bench. Publicity gets the name of particular realtors and realty companies out into the public, but publicity does not always translate into the time and care it takes to make sure you get the home buying process you’re looking for. Interview multiple realtors, asking plenty of questions each time.

You will probably be spending a large amount of time with whoever you choose, so make a wise choice. You are entrusting perhaps your biggest single possession into your realtor’s hands, so feeling comfortable with your choice will go a long way towards feeling comfortable with the process as a whole.

Take Control of the Showing Process
Shopping for homes is usually the most time-consuming portion of the home-buying process and can often leave people frustrated if they feel that they are wasting their time on improper homes. Knowing what you want comes in to play big time in this step and can trim a lot of the fat from what is out there on the home market by narrowing down the entire set on a few key pieces of information. If you see a home online or just driving by, don’t hesitate to ask you realtor to set up a showing. That’s what they’re there for so make use of them.

Don’t ever be afraid to simply drive up to a home where you have a scheduled showing and never take a step inside. This is going to be your prospective home, so factors such as the appearance of nearby homes, the area of town and accessibility to things that are important to you are all entirely legitimate reasons to not want a particular home. Communicate that to your realtor and she/he will be able to get a better idea of the type of area you are looking for. Keeping that communication going leads to better showing and less time wasted on homes that just aren’t right for you.

The Guide For First-Time Home Buyers

Buying a first new home is a big step in anyone’s life and the process can initially seem like an extremely daunting task. With all of the information available, advice to be learned from and realtors to choose from, it can certainly seem like an insurmountable mountain of information.

While that may initially be true, there are some steps that you can take that will help you cut through all of that and avoid information overload. The new home buying process is an exciting one and while there are certainly many things to think about, they shouldn’t detract from the experience.

Use The Web
Online resources, much like this site, can help you do a great amount of research into a home or area without ever leaving the comfort of your favorite chair. No matter what area you’re looking to purchase real estate in, there are undoubtedly many online resources concerning that area. Everything from county governments to local realtors provide handy region-specific tips and tricks that might help you in your search for a new home.

While your realtor will help you with a lot of the information about home prices in the area you’re investigating and other related bits of information, it can also be empowering to take a hold of the situation and find the kind of applicable information you’re looking for yourself. Anything that helps you get comfortable with the home buying process is a benefit.

Know Your Limits
There are a variety of ways to get frustrated during the home buying process and perhaps chief of all of them is pursuing a home that you simply cannot afford. Every step of the process, from convincing a realtor to show you an expensive property to getting financial backing for a piece of real estate outside your income viability, makes the process more difficult and will ultimately discourage you about the home buying process.

Yes, we would all like to have our first home be the perfect combination of location, size and amenities but many times it is not realistic to purchase a 10-bedroom estate with a first home purchase. If you have an accurate view of what you can afford, it will ease the entire process as your realtor will show you nothing but realistic homes, of which you will almost certainly find one you’ll love for a first piece of real estate.

Use Your Home Inspection Right
While in many areas, home inspections are an accepted part of the home buying process, there are parts of the country that have hot real estate markets that perhaps move quickly and don’t always incorporate home inspections into the process. Nothing has the potential to blunt your enthusiasm over a new home purchase like problems that could be inherited along with a new home.

Home inspections will often go through the health of a home’s furnace, roof and foundation to give you an accurate description of just what kind of state a home is in. Take advantage of that and don’t be surprised after a home purchase with problems you’ll immediately have to deal with.