Archive for December, 2015


“Try On” Your New Home Before Buying

Thursday, December 31st, 2015

English: House in Salinas, California

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

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

Case Study

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

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

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

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

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

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“Renting Back” After Your Home Is Sold

Thursday, December 31st, 2015

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

Enter the Lease-Back or Rent-Back Agreement

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

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

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

An Example

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

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

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

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

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3 Pitfalls to Avoid When Playing in the Real Estate Game

Thursday, December 31st, 2015

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

Pitfall Number 1: Don’t Overpay!

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

Pitfall Number 2: Know the Market

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

Pitfall Number 3: Know Your Budget

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

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

Thursday, December 31st, 2015

So you need to sell your home?

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

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

PREPARATION

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

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

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

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

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

LET’S DO SOME MARKETING ON STEROIDS

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

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

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

1. Buyer First System

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

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

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

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

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

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

2. Fish in some one else’s pond!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3. Use the Internet…

You should definitely have an individual website for your property.

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

ü Use www.elance.com or www.rentacoder.com : Two great sites, for getting your site created, they are both similar to EBay. You post an auction about your project (your home website), and then companies bid on your job, and you get to see samples of their work and read all their feedback, after you decided who wins your job, you choose a winner. Oh by the way, both of these services cost you nothing, their completely FREE. ü Take some pictures with a digital camera of your home and you’ll end up emailing them to the site designer, to post on your site. (good example, is www.735airoso.com) ü Treat this as an online, digital brochure, basically being able to do whatever you can conceive. ü You can take a video of the home, with you walking through the home and then have it placed on your site. If you’re intimidated by video, like I was at first, don’t be, because your web site designer can do it for you, very easily.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Free Advertising on www.craigslist.com

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

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

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

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3 Tips to Staging the Inside of Your Home Like a Pro

Thursday, December 31st, 2015

Are you considering putting your house up for sale, but not sure where to start? Afraid it will take too long to sell, or that you won’t get the price you want? Think about “staging” your home, or in other words, setting the scene for immediate buyer interest in your property.

To be really effective, you need to look at both the outside and the inside of your home. Here are 3 tips to get you started with the inside of your home:

1. De-clutter. This is one of the most important things you can do. It might be easier to think of de-cluttering like this – you’re moving anyway, so why not start packing now?

Pack up everything you don’t need and store the boxes out of sight in the garage (or consider temporarily renting a small storage locker).

2. Organize your closets – put similar colors together, pants together, skirts together, shirts together etc. Why? Because it will make the closets look bigger. (Really.) An organized closet appears bigger, and you want your closets to look as spacious as possible.

3. Make your home look like a model. You want to de-personalize as much as possible so potential buyers can imagine themselves and their own belongings occupying the space in your house. That means minimizing – putting away everything you don’t need or use. Clear off kitchen counters as much as possible – stash all those appliances you don’t use, and put miscellaneous small clutter in a few attractive baskets or boxes

And the biggest tip of all? Imagine yourself as a potential buyer looking at your property for the very first time. What impressions are you getting? Would YOU buy your house? What would you like to see changed before you put an offer on your house?

And don’t worry about spending several thousand dollars to get your house ready to sell – you’ll get it all back when your house sells. Proper staging helps you sell your house in a shorter time and at the price you want.

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Don’t Sell Your Property Without It

Thursday, December 31st, 2015

For most people, the prospect of selling their home can be positively daunting. First of all, there are usually plenty of things to do just to get it ready for the market. Besides the traditional clean-up, paint-up, fix-up chores that invariably wind up costing more than you planned, there are always the overriding concerns about how much the market will bear and how much you will eventually wind up selling it for.

Will you get your asking price, or will you have to drop your price to make the deal? After all, your home is a major investment, no doubt a rather large one, so when it comes to selling it you want to get your highest possible return. Yet in spite of everyone’s desire to get the top dollar for their property, most people are extremely unsure as to how to go about getting it. However, some savvy sellers have long known a little financial technique that has helped them to get top dollar for their property. In fact, on some rare occasions, they have even sold their properties for more than they were worth using this powerful financing tool. Although that might be the exception rather than the rule, you can certainly use this technique to get the most money possible when selling your property.

Seller carry-back, or take-back financing, has proven to be a surefire technique for closing deals. Even though most people do not think about when it comes to selling a property, they really should consider using it. According to the Federal Reserve, there are currently over 100 Billion dollars of seller carry-back (seller take-back) loans in existence. By any standard, that is a lot of money. But most importantly, it is also a very clear indication that more people are starting to use seller take-back financing techniques because it offers many financial benefits to both sellers and buyers. Basically, seller take-back financing is a relatively simple concept. A seller-take back loan is created when a property is sold and the seller performs like a lender by assisting in financing all or part of the total transaction. In effect, the seller is actually lending the buyer a certain amount of money toward the purchase price, while a traditional mortgage company usually funds the balance of the purchase price. A seller take-back loan is secured with the property. The loan then becomes the primary mortgage and is fully secured by the property. In most seller take-back financing transactions, the buyer repays the seller with interest in accordance to mutually agreed terms over a period of time. Usually, the terms call for the buyer to send the payments, consisting of principal and interest, on a monthly basis. This is advantageous because it creates a steady monthly cash flow for the note holder. And if the note holder decides to cash out, he or she can always sell the note for a lump sum cash payment.

Regardless of market conditions, seller take-back financing makes sound financial sense; whereas, it provides both buyer and seller with flexible financing options, makes the property easier to sell at higher price and shortens the sales cycle. It also has the added advantage of being an excellent investment that generates a steady cash flow and high return. If you ever need immediate cash, you can always sell the note through our office. If you are planning to sell a property, then consider the many benefits of seller take-back financing.

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Online Real Estate Auctions

Wednesday, December 16th, 2015

By Peter Miller

Real estate auctions, long a staple of commercial real estate, are gaining popularity in the residential arena.

Auctions? Really?

It’s not much of a stretch to see that auctions will be part of real estate’s future. The technology is in place, and online auction services are being used more frequently as a way to both market and purchase residential properties.

“You have to embrace technology. You have to embrace the changes that are going to be happening in real estate,” explains Waldo Herrera with Realty World-Connect in Elk Grove, CA. “If you don’t you’re gonna be left behind.”

The new era for auctions

Auctions have a long and storied history — and some of the stories are perhaps less believable than others. Today, however, auctions are more mundane affairs involving cars, wine and even royal titles.

Go to a real estate auction, and you’ll find two types of sale arrangements:

  • Properties offered on an absolute basis: This means that the highest bidder will get the property even if the bid is lower than lowball.
  • Properties sold with a reserve or minimum bid: Here the seller — often a lender who is in control of the property — can accept or reject an offer that does not meet certain expectations.

Auctions allow buyers and sellers to negotiate in a way that avoids common bargaining headaches. With an auction the seller sets the terms, and buyers can then bid or not bid as they prefer. Because the terms of sale are the same for everyone the only variable is price — the willingness of one buyer to offer a higher bid than another.

Missing from this process are the disputes and disappointments that arise from home inspections, radon tests and appraisals. Homes are sold “as is/where is” with no contingencies. The seller gets a sale, and the buyer gets a house. For real estate brokers, auctions can eliminate massive piles of paperwork as well as lengthy – and sometimes difficult – negotiations.

Keys to success

The lack of point-by-point negotiations raises a number of issues:

  • You should take every opportunity to physically examine the property, review related disclosures and adjust bids accordingly: With auctions what you see is what you get, so it pays to see as much as possible.
  • Homes have a given value depending on factors such as location and condition: You should set limits on your spending and not get caught up in the bidding process.
  • Bidders don’t have a financial contingency: In a traditional real estate sale there is often a financial contingency:  If the borrower cannot get financing with the stated rates and terms, then the transaction cannot close and the purchaser will not be penalized with the loss of a deposit. However, with auctions a bidder is simply expected to have the ability to close the sale. Be certain you have sufficient cash or financing in hand when making a bid, including any buyer premiums and other costs. Financing is often available; however, you should line up loans well before the auction date to ensure you can close the deal.

Pre-auction bids

We usually think of auctions as instantaneous and immediate events — sales that are opened and closed in just a few minutes. In fact, it may be possible with some properties to make what is called a “pre-auction bid” and close the sale before the property comes to market.

With a pre-auction bid you make an offer and if the seller finds it satisfactory you have a deal. A pre-auction sale follows the usual rules of the auction process, meaning you’re buying a property “as is/where is” with no contingencies.

Post-auction sales

In some cases there are also post-auction transactions.

Imagine a situation where a seller, perhaps a lender, has set a reserve price that is not met, but you still like the property. In this situation title reverts back to the lender, and the property becomes what is called a REO, or “real estate owned” on the books of the lender.

Working through the auctioneer you could contact the lender and possibly purchase the property. Because the home did not meet the reserve price, the lender might now be willing to accept a lower offer rather than keep the property in its inventory with the associated costs for maintenance, security, insurance and taxes.

There’s little question that real estate auctions will be more common in the years to come. However, online real estate auctions are not just a future trend; they are here today and increasingly are used to market properties with speed, transparency and fewer headaches for everyone.

Related:

Peter G. Miller is a nationally-syndicated real estate columnist. His books, published originally by Harper & Row, sold more than 300,000 copies. He blogs at OurBroker.com and contributes to such leading sites as The Huffington Post and Auction.com. 

Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of Zillow.

About the Author

Auction.com is the nation’s leading online real estate auction marketplace. At Auction.com, we believe that bringing buyers and sellers together with an easy, transparent platform yields the true value of any real estate asset, whether it be a luxury home, a multi-story Class A office building, an entry-level foreclosed home, or a self-storage facility.

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If you’ve been on the fence about buying a home, 2016 is the year to take the plunge.

Wednesday, December 16th, 2015

1. Home prices will finally calm down
Real estate values have been on the rise for a while, but are likely to slow their pace next year. Prices are expected to rise 3.5%, according to Zillow’s Chief Economist Svenja Gudell.
Buyers who’ve been stuck behind the wave of rising prices may finally get the chance to jump in.
And that could lead to a flood of buyers, said Jonathan Smoke, chief economist at Realtor.com.
“We have the potential for about six million home sales just through the months of April through September; that is basically impossible to do,” he said.
Related: These are the most expensive housing markets
But not everyone will be in a position to take advantage.
Despite the slowdown, Zillow still expects home values to outpace wage growth, which can make it tough to afford a home, especially for lower-income buyers.
Plus, prices in the country’s hottest markets — like San Francisco, Boston and New York City — aren’t expected to pull back as much next year.
2. More homes will hit the market
The slowdown in home prices will prompt more owners to list their homes, Smoke said, giving buyers more choice.
“Because of the price appreciation they have experienced, you will have more sellers put homes on the market next year,” he said.
Related: How to buy a home without a 20% down payment
The new home market is also expected to grow in the coming year with builders focusing more on starter and middle-range homes, which will also boost inventory and make it easier for buyers.
With more homes on the market, bidding wars will become less common and prices could ease even more.
3. Dirt cheap mortgages could disappear
The Federal Reserve is widely expected to begin increasing interest rates soon, which means the window for record low mortgage rates is closing.
While rates are expected to go up gradually, higher rates push up borrowing costs and monthly mortgage payments.
“You are likely to get the best rate you will possibly see, perhaps in your lifetimes through the majority of next year, but certainly, the earlier the better,” said Smoke.
4. Rents will still hurt
Rent prices are expected to continue to climb in the new year, which means in most cities, buying will be cheaper than renting.
Even though mortgages could get more expensive, buying might still be the better deal.
Interest rates would need to rise to around 6.5% for the cost of buying to equal that of renting on a national level, according to Ralph McLaughlin, housing economist at Trulia.
Related: Cities with biggest rent hikes
Find homes for sale

CNNMoney (New York)
First published December 4, 2015: 9:24 AM ET

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