Real Estate Investing Success

Real estate success? It happens by way of the many things you repeatedly do right, and it is your habits that ensure they get done. Here are some habits to develop for your real estate investing success.

Ask for people’s names, and tell them yours. People are your most valuable resource in real estate investing. The more you know, the more likely you are to find good properties, or buyers for your good properties. Get to know the right people too. Start with a real estate agent that gets many listings of the type you are interested in. Wouldn’t it be nice if he called you first?

Think numbers. Think people first, but know the relevant numbers. Ideally, when you look at a rental property, for example, you should be thinking about the income, the expenses, and the cap rate. You should be imagining how certain changes would allow you to raise the income, and what that would do to the value. Having a “feeling” about a property, and ignoring the numbers, gets investors into trouble.

Carry supplies. Always have at least business cards, pen and paper on you. You never know when you might see a property for sale, or hear about one. Mention that you invest in real estate, and sellers, buyers and other investors suddenly appear with information, opinions, and sometimes deals. Be ready.

Think risk reduction. Put those inspection, financing, and other contingency clauses in the offer, so you will get your deposit back when a deal falls through. Know your exit strategy before you buy. Find value by comparables, not “hunches.” Buy properties through your corporation or LLC. Always look for ways to reduce the risks.

Real Estate Success Is Found In Action

Set action-oriented goals. Get in the habit of taking regular steps towards real estate success. Require yourself to look at a certain number of properties, and maybe even to write a certain number of offers each month. Set at least minimum goals for all sorts of little steps, like making five phone calls per week, checking online for new listings twice per week, and so on. Action creates momentum, and repeated action creates habits. Good habits lead to success.

Finally, learning more about investing from books, magazines and even tapes or CDs is a great idea. Just be sure to spend as much time doing something as reading about it. Some of us let our fascination and enjoyment of reading about investing get in the way of actually investing, and of our real estate success.

Advice on Picking a Real Estate Agent

The ideal agent is not always the one with the most sales under his or her belt, or the most years on the job. The ideal agent is one who listens to you, is easy to get along with, and has the tools and skills to address your unique situation.

Every home buyer is different. Some have credit issues. Some are buying from out of state. Some need help selling their current home in addition to buying a new one. Just as buyers have different needs, real estate agents have different skills and specialties.

Here’s how to find the agent who’s right for you:

1. Ask friends and family for agent referrals.
Nobody knows you as well as your friends and family do. So they’re often in the best position to recommend an agent who is well-suited for your needs. You can also trust a referral from friends or family more than one that comes from a stranger.

2. Talk to multiple agents.
I once saw a statistic that 84% of home buyers choose the first real estate agent they contact. This means one of two things. Either most people are choosing wisely the first time, or they’re just rushing into things without shopping around. Probably a little of both.

You don’t have to exhaust yourself interviewing agent after agent, but at least talk with two or three to see who you’re most comfortable with (which leads to the next point).

3. Consider the vibe factor.
Professional expertise is an important criterion when choosing a real estate agent. But interpersonal skills are equally important. After all, you’ll be working with this person anywhere from 2 to 12 months, so it helps to get along with them. We all have unique personalities, and that’s the way it should be. But when working with someone professionally, if helps if their personality “meshes” well with your own.

4. Ask how they hunt.
When deciding on a real estate agent, ask how they search for homes. Some agents have their own preferred listings that they favor. But you want what’s best for you, not what’s best for your agent. You’re paying them, right? So make sure the agent is willing to search high and low to find the best home for you. That includes using the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) as well as their own personal network.

5. Read paperwork carefully.
This advice is heavily used for a reason. It’s critical that you examine all documents during the home buying process, and that includes your agent agreement. At some point during the relationship, your agent will probably ask you to sign an agent agreement. Basically, it just means that if the agent shows you a particular property, your purchase of the property should be credited to that agent. In most cases it’s a simple, just be sure to read it carefully and ask questions.

Advantages to Shopping for Real Estate Online

The real estate market is one of the most complex markets in the entire world due to the fact that it is in a continuous change, thus making it a very dynamic market. The internet has a lot to offer consumers regarding real estate and as a result it is a great place to start shopping. Some of these advantages are:

- It is inexpensive, if not free to list your home in an online property listing service.

- It is a quick and easy method to advertise your property that is for sale/lease or if you would like to buy a property.

- The buyer and seller have direct access to information about the property in question. This makes other forms of communication between the buyer and the seller obsolete. The internet is easy in comparison to the old-fashioned method of answering dozens phones calls or setting up numerous meetings.

- Many websites that deal with real estate allow you to include up to 5 photos of your property. This is a lot more in comparison to a regular newspaper and you have complete control over the photos’ quality.  In addition you can highlight specific features about your property with the potential buyers. This can be very helpful if you are working to attract buyers from outside your local geographic area whom potentially need more explanation of certain elements.

- Once listed, your home is available until you will sell the property. This is a big advantage if you consider that for a newspaper ad you will systematically have to pay a fee week after week.

- These online real estate listing services have a nation-wide audience which will make your ad visible to the entire country;

- Searching for the right house is very easy as these websites have filters which will allow you to only see the houses that meet your specific requirements. Therefore you can spend time looking only out houses that meet your needs without having to waste time looking at houses you aren’t interested in.

Using the Internet for real estate will make you your own real estate agent without having to pay a great sum of money to an agent and also you will have full-control of the entire activity. Whether you are a home buyer or seller, it is very easy to search for the perfect house as the online offers are endless. Or, if you would like to sell a piece of real estate, there is no safer and quicker way to do it.

Online real estate has become popular and is consuming are looking to the internet more each day as an easy place to get good information. As a matter of fact, more than 5 million people use the internet for real estate issues every month. With numbers like this it is easy to see how the internet can improve your chances for selling or buying a home.

Another major advantage of real estate moving to the internet is that you won’t need a real estate agent to start your search. This is very important because we all know that real estate agents are of value but sometimes you just want to look.

All in all, there is no better, safer and easier way to search for a home or to sell one than online as the internet has a lot to offer in the real estate market and it is rapidly developing, gaining more and more consumers everyday and thus improving your chances for a profitable buy/sell.

Advantages In Joining An MLS Real Estate Listing

When you choose to sell your home on your own, you want all the help you can get. Though you can save thousands by skipping the commissions of a realtor, you put yourself at a marketing disadvantage. That is why you need to get your property listed on the multiple listing service (MLS) for realtors. There are many advantages in joining a MLS real estate listing. A look at them will show you that paying a flat fee to get a “for sale by owner” listing on MLS is well worth the money and effort.

The first of many advantages in joining a MLS real estate listing is that it is the key to sales success. Did you know that about four of every five home buyers get to the property they want through the MLS? By being listed on MLS, you will have most every real estate sales person in the region working for you. Most flat fee MLS listing services will keep you on for as long as 6 months, but in most cases you wont need that long with exposure to so many realtors, brokers, and customers.

The second of the advantages of joining a MLS real estate listing is that you are saving as much as 2% to 3% on yrou sale. Though that does not sound like a lot, it is actually $2000 per thousand you sell meaning you could end up saving as much as $20,000 or $30,000 on the sale if you skip the realtor and pay the flat fee to list on MLS.

Thirdly, one of the advantages in joining a MLS real estate listing is that you will be seen. If you are selling as a for sale by owner, then you have to hope someone “accidentally” drives by your home or sees it in the newspaper by chance. Also, even if a realtor drives by, they will likely not show a home that is not MLS listed. If you are on MLS, though, you will come up in searches and have your house shown with much more frequency. It works much better when luck is taken out of the equation.

Finally, it is just good sales and business sense to list on MLS. Far and away, MLS is the best way to sell your property fast and for a price you like. Since the internet is considered the second best value and power versus reasonable cost for property, listing on MLS gives you the exposure you need.

There are many many advantages in joining a MLS real estate listing service. You will find that your home is better marketed, that you don’t have to rely on the luck of a drive by, that you save a great deal of money, and that you are linked in with thousands of realtors who essentially end up working for you. So if you are going to sell your home yourself, you should find a flat fee or free MLS listing service so that you have the best possible chance of selling your home quickly and at a price you want.

Apartment for Rent: When Is It Better to Rent Instead of Buy?

It was 5:00 PM and time for Susan to call it quits for the day.   While signing off the computer, a last-minute check of the traffic reports revealed that the roads were backed up again.  Susan drove home against the commute feeling her daily rush of sympathy for all those on the other side of the road stopped in traffic.

Ten minutes later, she drove past a golf course and pulled into home.  The flowers were especially lovely this month and the fountain sparkled as it reflected the brilliant colors of the foliage.  She drove past the landscaped grounds, pool and through the security gates that swung open with her security access.

What would it be tonight, a cardio work-out?   No, she’d invited Steve over for some tennis.  After a pleasant game, they’d head back to her place, fix dinner in her gourmet kitchen and eat on the balcony at tree level while the evening breeze rustled the nearby leaves.   To wind down, they’d take a dip in one of the pools and relax in the Jacuzzi in the evening air.    Maybe tomorrow night they could hit a few balls at the nearby course or check out one of the nearby art galleries.

She placed her mail on the granite countertop and padded across the ceramic tile to the sink at the breakfast bar to take her daily vitamins.   A quick check with her concierge service confirmed the tickets for the weekend show, and she filed the maintenance report for the fix to her marble bathroom sink – the repairs had been quietly made while she was away.   She took a deep breath, turned on the surround sound and walked over to the private balcony off the main bedroom.

How does Susan afford this life?   She doesn’t have a trust fund, and her income is about the same as   colleagues that commute long distances to go home to maintenance, chores, yard work and television. Susan goes home to a beautiful home with a gourmet kitchen, elegant baths, vaulted ceilings, sun rooms, surround sound, sound reduction features, plush carpeting, ceramic tile, and custom oak cabinets.  She goes home to tennis, golf, swimming, fountains and lovely grounds because she lives in conveniently located, luxury apartments.   She enjoys an easy commute, concierge services, laundry services, professional landscaping, exercise facilities, recreational services, community parties, easy care, and maintenance services – all for less than her friends are paying in mortgage costs.

When does it make sense to live in apartments?

There are many situations when renting is a much better financial choice than purchasing a home.   Home ownership often means commuting long distances, constant maintenance and upkeep, mortgage payments, and yard maintenance.   The term ‘bedroom community’ is a term for people who own homes long distances from their daily lives. The owners don’t actually live in their home, they simply return to it late at night to sleep.  The home remains empty most of the time.

Renting luxury apartments offers an alternative to long commutes, constant maintenance and a fixed residence.    It is a great choice for those who want flexibility, mobility, easy care and a freer life. Luxury apartments offer all the amenities that one would wish in a home with none of the maintenance or hassle.   The vaulted ceilings, clubhouses, movie theatres, pools, tennis courts, Jacuzzi, cardio fitness equipment, fountains, gardens and landscaping are maintenance free and always available for use.   Luxury apartments can often be found in great locations with easy access to work, golf or downtown.   The cost of purchasing in such areas is often prohibitive, but luxury apartment living enables one to enjoy the location, amenities and lifestyle at a fraction of the cost.

For those in fluid situations, renting is usually a much better financial choice.  Purchasing a home becomes financially wise only if housing prices in that particular neighborhood rise, if the homebuyer stays in the home long enough to justify the up-front costs, and if the maintenance or repairs to a home are kept to a minimum.    Purchasing a home almost never makes financial sense for those who stay in a location less than 2 years.  Unexpected expenses, taxes, repair costs or upgrades crop up often and can wreak havoc with a budget. Luxury apartments offer a fixed cost per month, which includes professional management, upkeep and maintenance.   Renting a luxury apartment can enable people to enjoy a freer, more relaxed, fun-filled life.

Real Estate Lingo for The Newbie

In today’s real estate market there is a lot of uncertainty. The sub-prime mortgage crisis is the buzz word phrase that has a lot of people talking. One lesson that can be learned from this situation, is that it is so important for prospective homeowners to know what they are getting themselves into. Buying a home can be stressful, and overwhelming, but knowing what you are signing on for is paramount to securing an investment that will serve you well. A little education can go a long way. Below is a glossary of key terms associated with all things real estate. If you are a “newbie”, familiarize yourself with these as you begin your real estate search:

We’ll begin in the middle of the alphabet with “M” words, as “mortgages” seem to be the hot topic these days.

Mortgage: is a lien on the property that secures the Promise to repay a loan. A loan to finance the purchase of real estate, usually with specified payment periods and interest rates.

Mortgage broker: Is a professional who works for a firm that originates and processes loans for a number of lenders.

Mortgage banker: Is a company that originates loans and resells them to secondary mortgage lenders such as: Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. “Who????”, you ask. Just, read on.

Fannie Mae: Is a sort of acronym which stands for Federal National Mortgage Association (FNMA); a federally-chartered enterprise owned by private stockholder. This enterprise purchases residential mortgages and converts them into securities for sale to investors; by purchasing mortgages, Fannie Mae supplies funds that lenders may loan to potential home buyers.

Freddie Mac: Is another acronym of sorts is the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (FHLM); a federally-chartered corporation that purchases residential mortgages, coverts them into securities, and sells them to investors, providing lenders with funds for new home buyers.

Mortgage insurance: Is a policy that protects lenders against some or most of the losses that can occur when a borrower defaults on a mortgage loan. Mortgage insurance is required primarily for borrowers with a down payment of less than 20% of the home’s purchase price.

ARM: Adjustable Rate Mortgage is a mortgage loan subject to changes in interest rates. When rates adjust, ARM monthly payments increase or decrease at intervals determined by the lender. The change in monthly -payment amount, however, is usually subject to a Cap. “What is Cap in this case?

Commercial Real Estate: Hard, Hard, Hard Money Loans

When purchasing commercial real estate, financing is the most significant factor in determining whether the project is worth pursuing. Although there are a variety of commercial real estate loans on the market, we are going to look at hard money loans in this article.

Hard money loans for commercial real estate are often a matter of last resort. They aren’t good deals, but they can save a financing situation that has gone critical. Most hard money loans come with significant upfront costs and astronomical interest rates. When you are facing the prospect of losing a commercial property, however, they can be a godsend because they also are granted very quickly.

Hard money loans are considered very risky and are issued by private financing groups, not banks or lenders. The loans tend to be only available as the primary loan on the property, which isn’t that rare a situation in commercial property.

Unlike home loans, hard money loans are all about the potential sales price of a piece of commercial real estate. The party considering lending you money is not going to look at the appraised value of the property. They are going to look at the probably sales price if the commercial real estate has to be sold a few months after making the loan. Depending on the condition of the property, this figure will typically be between 50 and 75 percent of the appraised valued of the commercial property.

Put another way, a hard money loan is a short-term loan designed to get you past an immediate problem. It is undeniably a loan of last resort and is not an ultimate solution to a financing problem with a commercial property. It does nothing other than buy you time, and at a fairly hefty cost.  If you are in a tight spot and can resolve the problem with a few extra months time, a hard money loan may be the answer.

Hot Mortgage Terms You Need To Know

Are you considering purchasing a new home? If you are, you should know that this may very well be a very good time to buy a house. The housing market is sluggish, which means that prices tend to be lower and so do interest rates. Also, there are more houses from which to choose. This surplus of houses on the market is good for the buyer; basic laws of supply and demand dictate that the more there is of something (in this case houses), the less it tends to cost.

If you are going to purchase soon, however, it is important that you understand the terminology used regularly in the real estate world. Common mortgage terms include interest rates, length or term of loan, closing costs, variable rate loans, origination fees, document taxes, home equity, acceleration, amortization, conventional financing, down payment, FHA loans, fixed rate loans, points, and private mortgage insurance (PMI).

The interest rate is the amount of money the lender is charging you in order to borrow the loan. This is expressed in terms of percent. Of course, the lower the interest rate, the less the cost of the loan.

The term of the loan is also referred to as the length of the loan. This is how long you will be expected to make payments on the mortgage. In years past, most mortgages were twenty years. Now, thirty years is most common.

Closing costs are any fees associated with the actual transaction of buying and selling a home. These include realtor’s fees, title insurance fees, document stamp taxes, the cost of necessary repairs to the home (if the repair company has agreed to be paid at closing), points, and other miscellaneous costs.

Variable rate loans are the “opposite” of fixed rate loans. With a variable rate loan, the percent you pay in interest can go up and down according to the prime interest rate. With fixed rate loans, the interest percent remains the same throughout the life of the loan.

Points, also called loan discount points, are fees that are charged to the buyer from the lender. These fees are prepaid interest and can add quite a bit of cost to your closing. One point is equal to one percent of the loan amount. If you are borrowing $100,000 and are assessed one point by the lender, you will have to pay $1000 of prepaid interest when all the paperwork is done at your closing.

Private mortgage insurance (PMI) is a type of insurance that allows the buyer to put down a smaller down payment on the home. Many lenders will require that you purchase PMI if you are putting less than twenty percent down.

A down payment is the amount of money you are paying out of your own pocket toward the purchase of your new home. The selling price of the home (plus all fees and other costs) minus the amount of the mortgage is equal to your down payment. Most lenders require you to have a down payment of twenty percent or carry PMI.

Create a Commercial Real Estate Empire by Specializing

There are many types of commercial properties available to those who work in the commercial real estate industry. Many people like to work in a specific area by working with only one or two types of commercial properties. They do this because they have expertise with that specific type of property.

Commercial properties differ more than in just their appearance and use. How you purchase, sell, operate, manage, evaluate, and price each property can be very different. Although there are some similarities, being an expert in one or two properties can greatly increase your ability to analyze good deals and maximize your profit potential. When you know the inside and out of the processes that take place with a certain type of property, know what hidden things to look for, and what mistakes to avoid, you are less likely to run into problems, and will generate positive, long lasting results.

Let’s look at the main commercial properties that you may already be involved with, or are thinking about moving into.

The first are office buildings, or office parks.

The term office can be used to refer to floors, parts of floors, an entire building, or an entire office park with multiple buildings positioned in a community type setting. Office space is used for a variety of reasons. It can be used for actual offices for companies, or it can be used for places of business operations, or to meet a tenant’s specific functional and technical needs. An example of this would be an office building for medical purposes.

Office buildings can be segmented into three basic levels. The first is low rise, which has fewer than 7 stories above ground. A mid-rise has between 7 and 25 stories above ground. A high-rise has more than 25 stories above ground. These buildings are often rented by the square foot according to the total useable square feet available to the tenant.

The next type of commercial property is retail property.

These are places of business where products and services are provided. There are many types of retail properties which include big boxes, outlet centers, strip centers, regional centers and power centers. Each of these has distinct characteristics that differentiate one from another. Business owners can better choose where they want to lease by identifying their product position, where the best location is, and the type of retail center that will best sell their products and services.

A big box is a large, free-standing building that is often much like a huge warehouse. They can often be found near major shopping centers and along major corridors. Companies such as Wal-Mart, Home Depot and Target are all example of big boxes.

Outlet centers are usually located in tourist or rural locations, and the businesses there offer their products and services at a discount. Strip centers are consecutive narrow parcels that have a variety of stores. They are often found along main roads and commercial corridors.

Regional centers are characterized by an enclosed, inward orientation of the stores. A walkway or common area connects the stores that offer a variety of products and services. There is usually a large, common parking lot found along the perimeter of the regional center.

Power centers are areas of business where large retailers, including large discount centers lease out the buildings. Category killers can also be found here. These are companies that offer a large selection at low prices. Ross, Mervyns, and Kohl’s can all be found in power centers. Think of the one stop place to shop retail center, and you have a power center.

Any of these types of retail centers can be chosen areas of specialization for an investor, developer or builder. This gives them a competitive advantage in the commercial real estate industry because it is the only thing in which they concentrate their efforts. You can bet there is not one thing that can pass by these people when it comes to retail centers, and they know exactly how to maximize their resources.

Industrial and warehouse properties are the next category of commercial property.

Here you will find freestanding properties, research and development, large manufacturing, as well as industrial park properties.

Freestanding industrial properties can vary greatly in construction type, design, and overall function. They stand alone, and are usually occupied by an end user, so the building is specific to a special purpose.

A research and development property is characterized by having office space and manufacturing on the premises. You can find them most often near universities, and close to other locations of professionals.

Industrial parks are large, planned developments that can be used for special scientific and technological use, or sophisticated communications uses. They have many buildings for mixed-purpose or a single purpose that are scattered in an often functional way.

Industrial buildings and warehouses are crucial to a city’s economic development, and cities often provide tax incentives when jobs are provided and new companies are brought to a city, especially to one experiencing rapid growth.

Multi-family property is another type of commercial property.

They offer huge opportunities to create value. A multi-family property is not considered a commercial property unless it is greater than 5 units. Duplexes and fourplexes are not considered commercial properties, though they can be a great investment. The larger the apartment complex, for example more than 100 units, the more money you will be able to return on investment. These multi-family units have living space, appliances and amenities. Multi-family units can range from low-end to luxury type units.

The last type of commercial property is raw land.

Raw land is characterized by untouched land with no improvements such as utilities and roads. It can be the most difficult property to involve yourself with; however, it can return the greatest results.

Whichever property you decide to specialize in, only begin a new project in a new area with a person who has lots of experience. You can learn a lot from someone by using this strategy. It will give you a solid foundation to do the next project on your own. This partner or associate will help you to gain the experience and insight that may otherwise take you years to learn.

Real Estate Investing – 3 Ways Renters Lose Money

Are you still renting a home or apartment for yourself or your family?

If so, you’re losing money. Think about these three ways you lose money by renting:

1. You’re paying for someone else’s mortgage payment. You’re missing out on the appreciation that the property gives to the landlord. Appreciation is a term used in accounting relating to the increase in value of an asset, which means in real estate terms, added value to the property. Over the past five years, houses appreciated significantly, making many new real estate investor multimillionaires.

2. Renters don’t get to freeze their monthly housing expenses like home buyers can. Of course, many home buyers get mortgage payments with adjustable interest rates and their payments go up over time. However, these payments will not go up over the long term like rising rents. Just think about how much an apartment costs today compared to ten years ago. A two bedroom apartment in Lake Elsinore, California leases for $1,000 today. The exact same apartment rented for $325 in 1996, when it was brand new. Home buyers who had low monthly payments in 1996, who did not refinance their mortgage, enjoy low payments and don’t have to worry about rising rents.

3. Renters don’t benefit from tax advantages. Home owners get income tax deductions. Tax deductions for interest costs, for instance, save tax payers thousands of dollars.

Emotional Satisfaction of Home Ownership

Besides losing out on making money with real estate, renters don’t get the same satisfaction of home enjoyment that benefits home buyers. Many landlords won’t allow you to paint your walls in colors that you desire. Also, you won’t feel like fixing up the property with custom window coverings and you get little say in flooring materials. Because you can’t make your personal statement, you won’t feel like you’re HOME as much as home owners who feel emotionally connected to their property.

How to Buy Your First Home

The biggest barrier to home ownership is often accumulating funds for a down payment. People think they have to have thousands of dollars for a down payment. However, if you have good credit and a decent job, you can get a mortgage for a home with zero down. And you can finance some of your closing costs as well as ask the seller to help you pay a good portion of your purchase costs. With today’s mortgage finance plans, you may be surprised to find out how much of a home you can afford with payments similar to what you currently pay in rent.

You may have to go out of the major metropolitan areas to buy a home. That’s why so many people commute in Southern California. Affordable housing costs much less in outlying areas. But so do the rents. If you’re renting an apartment for $2,300 in Los Angeles, you could buy a $500,000 home in Wildomar. Our daughter just purchased a home in December 2005 and her mortgage payment, for a 3,000 square foot new home, costs less than $2,300. With her tax savings, she will pay even less than renting a small apartment closer to downtown L A.

If these amounts sound high to you, check your local area. Perhaps your monthly rent is only $1,000 and houses cost less than $200,000. Talk to a mortgage loan officer and see how much of a home you can afford.

If you’re renting, make one of your priorities to buy your own home.