Tag Archives: advice

5 Tips Real Estate Investors Need to Know to Find Good Deals

With real estate prices reaching ever-higher highs in large swaths of the country, the availability of deeply discounted properties is drying up. And that means it’s getting tougher for real estate investors and home flippers to find great deals worthy of their time and cash.

“There are fewer foreclosures to buy, but there’s more interest in buying foreclosures,” says Daren Blomquist, senior vice president at ATTOM Data Solutions, a real estate data firm. “Competition, even at the foreclosure auction, is pushing prices up.”

Bank-owned property sales, foreclosure auctions, and short sales still made up 16.9% of single-family home and condo sales in the first quarter of 2017, according to ATTOM. But that’s down from 20.3% of sales a year ago.

“Back in 2007, you were getting 20% off the actual value” on bank-owned property sales, Leland DiMeco, owner and principal broker at Boston Green Realty, told ATTOM’s Housing News Report. “Now you have them selling for 5% off, if that.”

So how can established and aspiring real estate investors and home flippers find a real deal?

Tip No. 1: Be proactive and look for off-market properties

Some landlords prefer to quietly shop around their properties to investors instead of listing them publicly. This way, the owners don’t upset any tenants currently living there.

“There is quite a bit of the pie that does get moved around, legitimately, but just off-market,” DiMeco told ATTOM.

So would-be investors shouldn’t wait for property owners to find them—they should find these folks themselves.

“If you like a neighborhood, you can go knock on doors,” Blomquist says. There might be “homeowners who may want to sell and don’t even know they want to sell yet.”

Tip No. 2: Act fast and pay with cash

There are still deals to be had—if you act quickly, says real estate investor Brandon Turner, author of “The Book on Investing in Real Estate With No (and Low) Money Down” and “The Book on Rental Property Investing.” He owns 52 rental units in 18 properties and has flipped about a dozen homes in Grays Harbor County in Washington.

“You have to work faster than everyone else,” he says. “I try to make an offer within 24 hours of a new listing coming on the market—the same day, if possible.”

Paying all cash can also sweeten the deal for sellers who might have multiple offers, he says.

Tip No. 3: Don’t ignore potential tear-downs

Real estate investors might not initially see the value of buying an overpriced, small, or run-down home within the city limits. But many of these homes in desirable locations can be sold to a developer to be torn down. Then a multifamily building or larger home can go up if the zoning permits it. And that can translate into some serious moolah.

It requires some vision and a bit of a leap of faith. With a potential tear-down, “it may not be a good deal to buy it as a single-family home. But if you can buy it for what it could be, it can be an excellent way to find value and deals,” Turner says. However, this approach is not without risks and obstacles.

“If you’re going to build a new house, it takes a good while to get all the permits,” he adds. “The danger is if the market begins to decline, you might be unable to sell it.”

Tip No. 4: Seek out nasty, smelly homes

Investors shouldn’t shy away from hardcore fixer-uppers and “nasty” homes, says Turner. That’s because there is not as much competition for these potential diamonds in the rough. Many lenders won’t issue loans on these properties if they’re in really bad shape.

“The stinkier the house, the better,” Turner says. “Smells are easy to fix. A good coating of oil-based primer, new carpet, and cleaning will take care of almost any smell.”

He typically looks for the “nastiest house in the nicest neighborhood,” he says. Even homes in need of serious TLC can be profitable if they’re in the right location.

“You can’t fix a neighborhood, but you can fix the house,” he says.

Tip No. 5: Look in another city or state

Many would-be property investors living in pricey parts of the country would love to become landlords—but can’t afford to do so in their own cities. So they can consider buying in lower-priced markets such as the Midwest.

“Look in other geographies that aren’t in your backyard,” Blomquist says. Focus on places that are growing “that still have a lot of lower-priced inventory available.”

But they should make sure to do their homework first to make sure they understand the neighborhood they’re buying in and who their potential tenants or buyers would be. This includes how much they can realistically charge.

Landlords might need to hire property management services if they can’t afford to get there quickly if something breaks. And that eats into profits.

———

Remember, becoming a real estate investor is still risky

Despite the stinky homes, investing in real estate might seem like a glamorous way to make a little extra cash—just look at all of those home flippers on HGTV! But in reality, it’s not risk-free.

Landlords sometimes have tenants who trash homes or don’t pay the rent on time. Flippers might encounter permitting problems or find costly structural issues in homes that cost quite a bit more than expected.

“We’re in a booming housing market. Everyone’s confident if they buy a piece of real estate it’s going to go up in value,” says Blomquist. “That’s true for the long term.

“This housing boom is on a lot more solid foundation than what we saw 10 years ago,” he says. “But you have to be very cautious because, in the short-term, we have seen … that prices sometimes do go down.”

Courtesy of realtor.com

3 Common Moving Nightmares (and How to Prevent Them)

There’s no other way to put it: Moving is stressful. But it doesn’t have to be a waking nightmare. Here’s how to avoid a move from … you know where.

Nightmares aren’t supposed to take place in broad daylight, but some common life events bring so much tension, uncertainty and anxiety that they can easily rank as “quality nightmares.” Moving house tops the list of stressful experiences that can feel like a bad dream — and it can easily come true unless you take precautionary measures.

Problems can occur at every stage of the relocation process: A violent storm hits just when the moving truck is parking in front of your door. The elevator is out of order when you arrive at your new high-rise building. You lose the keys to your car on the morning of moving day. The list goes on.

However, the most common moving nightmares fall into three main categories. Here’s how they typically play out — and how to avoid them.

Bad movers

Many moving horror stories involve rogue or incompetent movers.

  • The movers are late or don’t show up at all. The agreed-upon time comes and goes, but you see no sign of an approaching moving truck. When you call the moving company to demand an explanation, your relocation nightmare begins. Regardless of the excuses you receive (a traffic jam, a breakdown, a delay on a previous job, a mistaken date, etc.), the inevitable result will be lots of stress and wasted time. Worst of all, you may not be able to reach the moving company at all: fraudulent movers may have taken your deposit money and disappeared with it.
  • The movers are careless or inexperienced. If your movers arrive late, in a smaller moving truck than needed, or lack the required know-how and the proper equipment to handle your items safely and efficiently, your relocation can quickly turn into a nightmarish experience. The amateur movers may drop your plasma TV, break your heirloom china, scratch your antique dresser, dent the floors, or cause other overwhelming emotional and financial damage.
  • The movers are scam artists. In the worst case scenario, you may fall victim to unscrupulous moving scams. Rogue movers will often request much more money than previously negotiated based on some alleged extra services. They may hold your belongings hostage until you pay a considerable extra “fee” as ransom, or steal your more expensive belongings and just discard the rest.

The good news is that there is an easy way to avoid such nightmares. All you need to do is carefully research your movers before hiring them to make sure you are dealing with licensed and experienced professionals you can trust. It’s also a good idea to purchase appropriate insurance for your belongings, just in case.

Traffic problems

Heavy traffic or road accidents can also turn your move into a real nightmare.

  • Traffic jams. The moving truck is delayed and there may not be enough time to proceed with your move as planned. You may have to postpone the relocation to another day, or you may miss your flight.
  • Traffic accidents. if there has been an accident on the road, the moving truck will have to wait until the damaged vehicles are removed and normal traffic is restored. However, the scenario could get much worse: You may lose all your possessions or receive them badly damaged if the moving truck crashes, catches fire, or gets trapped somewhere because of adverse weather conditions like heavy snowfall or torrential rains. It’s even possible that thieves could break into the vehicle and steal your goods.
  • Breakdown. If the moving truck breaks down on the road, you’ll have to wait for the moving company to send another vehicle. What’s more, your items can easily get damaged while being transferred.
  • Parking issues. The moving truck has to circle the neighborhood for hours until an appropriate parking space is vacated, or the movers have to park far away from the entrance to your home. In such cases, you’ll not only lose valuable time, but will also have to pay an extra fee for the delay or an additional long-carry fee.

Of course, there’s nothing you can do to prevent traffic accidents or breakdowns. But you can at least reserve a parking place directly in front of your old and new homes, and choose a moving company that has experienced drivers and several moving vehicles in good condition.

Poor organization

The only way to avoid problems when moving house is to plan each phase of your relocation adventure in meticulous detail and stay one step ahead all the time. Otherwise, you may find yourself facing any of the following all-too-common moving ordeals.

  • Packing chaos. It may turn out that you’ve packed more items than previously discussed with the movers; packed items that can’t be loaded onto the moving truck; haven’t labeled the boxes properly; or forgotten to prepare an “essentials box.” Worst of all, you may not be ready when the movers arrive. All these packing mistakes will result in lost time and money.
  • Furniture troubles. If your large furniture doesn’t fit through the doors, you may be forced to leave some treasured pieces behind, or request hoisting services that will cost you dearly and will delay your move considerably.
  • Paperwork problems. If you forget to transfer the utilities, you won’t have electricity, gas, and water on move-in day. If you forget to change your address, you won’t have your mail delivered to your new home. If you forget to update your driver’s license and car registration in time, you’ll be fined. Not taking proper care of your documents will most certainly get you in trouble.
  • Overspending. If you book your movers at the last moment, require too many extra services, fail to create a realistic moving budget, pack all your items without sorting them out first, or allow any other financial imprudence, you’ll end up paying much more than you expected.
  • Safety issues. Make every effort to prevent injuries and accidents on moving day, as getting hurt is one of the worst things that can happen during your relocation endeavor.

Post courtesy of zillow.com

10 Sneaky Ways to Make Your Kitchen Look Expensive

There’s no denying that the kitchen has become the focal point of the modern home, the place where the outsize influence of the Food Network and HGTV converge. Prospective buyers want to imagine themselves gathered there among friends, sipping wine and nibbling on hors d’oeuvres with ease—or perhaps preparing a family meal while the kids pitch in as little sous-chefs.

But achieving that dream kitchen is also one of the most expensive home remodeling projects you can possibly undertake. If your taste trends more toward Veuve Clicquot on a budget that’s solidly PBR, never fear: We’ve got some sneaky tricks to give your kitchen a fancy upgrade on the cheap.

1. Choose a luxurious color palette (and play with texture)

pctune up

“These work best and convey a really luxe vibe,” she says.  “Look at the branding colors of luxury designers—they are mostly lightly muted and off the primary color.” She favors charcoal, cream, and champagne over harsher black, white, silver, or gold.

And consider texture when you’re planning your palette.

“You want to vary the texture to vary the complexity and make the design more layered and high-end,” says Hoffmann. “Choose two or three very close colors and play with texture instead—think white, a cream, and a very, very light natural beige as your colors, and then create visual interest by incorporating lots of texture in the room as your accent.”

Think of varying high-gloss, matte, and distressed finishes, and using raised patterns.

2. Reinvent tired cabinets with new hardware

If new cabinets aren’t in the cards, take your kitchen from outdated to outstanding with new hardware. Replace all door pulls, handles, and even hinges with fancy pieces in unexpected hues (we love these gorgeous handmade pieces by House of Antique Hardware). Just make sure to choose pieces that fit the holes in your cabinets, since traditional spackle or caulk can shrink. (If you can’t fit existing holes, pros recommend using a nonshrinking wood putty or auto body filler, but you’ll need to sand the work surface first.)

And don’t be afraid to mix metals, says Maize Jacobs-Brichford, a designer and project manager at Brynn Olsen Design Group in Chicago, who favors clean, traditional lines in unlacquered brass or polished nickel.

“Even if your sink or lighting is chrome, your hardware can still go brass,” she says.

3. Paint (or add glass doors to) your cabinets

pctune up

When it comes to tired old cabinets (particularly the stalwart oak cabinets of the ’80s), a good coat of paint can hide all manner of sins, according to Hoffmann.

“Enough already!” she exclaims. The old cabinets “are aging your space!”

We like Ace Hardware’s Cabinet, Door & Trim Paint, a semigloss alkyd enamel paint that promises a smooth finish. If you’re a clumsy DIY painter (are those brush strokes?), hire a pro.

Hoffmann also claims it’s “fairly easy” to cut out the front of existing cabinets and put in glass for an open, modern look. We’re not so sure, so if you’re at all in doubt, leave it to a trusted contractor or handyman. (Tutorials for this type of upgrade abound on the internet; we like this one from HGTV.)

4. Put your best stems forward

Invest a little in new stemware. If you have a bit of cash to spend, splurge on a gorgeous open shelf (or consider glass-front cabinets) to display pretty colored or textured glass, like these from Epitome Home.

5. Update the light fixtures

“Even if you don’t have the budget to change out some of the bigger architectural features, updating your fixtures can be a big change,” says Jacobs-Brichford. “When in doubt, go with a globe fixture with polished nickel or brass details to keep it simple but chic.”

Hoffmann also swears by dimmable lighting.

“Get an electrician to put your lights on a dimmer, and instantly upgrade the feel of your kitchen, especially at night or when entertaining,” she says.

And finally, don’t forget about task lighting—particularly under-cabinet lights. Battery-powered LED lights are inexpensive and couldn’t be easier to install (in many cases, you just stick them on using removable adhesive). Position them under cabinets in the areas where you typically spend the most time.

6.  Recast the backsplash

After cabinets, a backsplash makes the biggest statement in a kitchen. This is one place you want to splurge, pros say.

“It’s a great place to showcase your personal style and taste,” says Hoffmann, who favors monochromatic trends like concrete, herringbone, and subway tile.

If you’re on a budget, reinvigorate your backsplash without mortar by using a simpler, adhesive-based product like SimpleMat.

7. Upgrade your view

pctune up

Hoffmann swears by window appliqués to fake a great view outside a kitchen window. These also add visual interest if the area isn’t conducive to traditional window treatments, she says. Another great trick? Hang ferns or other flowers outside your windows to give the illusion of lush, verdant space. Hoffmann also likes to add herb gardens to the counter space, over the sink, or just outside windows.

8.  Paint the countertops

Innovative new products from companies like Giani Granite and Rust-Oleum let you paint (yes, paint!) your dingy old wood or laminate countertops if new granite or slab isn’t in the budget. You can go for a textured imitation stone look, or keep things cohesive with a simple solid color.

9.  Incorporate fruit

pctune up

Bring life to a kitchen with a driftwood bowl filled with a bright fruit or vegetables; Jacobs-Brichford likes lemons, artichokes, or green apples.

“They can usually sit out for two weeks—much longer than the life span of flowers,” she says. (Fake fruit is fine in a pinch, though designers prefer the real thing.) If you’re staging your home to sell, consider adding fruit to your kitchen to give it an attractively livable feel.

10.  Add fragrance

“Stop burning hideous, noxious, cheap candles,” says Hoffmann. “They are toxic and smell cheap to anyone who knows better when they enter your house. If you’re spending $20 a month on candles, that’s $240 a year.  Purchase a lightly scented luxury Culti diffuser instead, and get a couple of flameless candles. Your space will smell more expensive, elegant, and subtle.”

The (admittedly pricey) diffuser uses perfume-grade oils, gives off a more understated scent than traditional candles, and lasts an entire year.

Post courtesy of realtor.com

How To Prep Your Bank Account To Buy A Home In 2017

Getting your finances in order can help you buy a home in the new year.

This is it: 2017 is the year you will finally buy a home! But even once you’ve made the ultimate decision to make the leap into homeownership, your hard work is far from complete. Buying a home is a big commitment and costs a lot of money — and getting the mortgage you want at the best interest rate possible is enough to stress anyone out. Organizing your financial house, so to speak, can help reduce that stress and set you up for home-buying success.

Whether you’re eyeballing a home for sale in Jacksonville, FL, or a humble abode in Phoenix, AZ, you can take action to prep your bank account and savings to be ready to buy a home in 2017. So, if your goal is to nab the keys to a brand-new place, these six steps will help you get organized, stay on track, and fund your dreams.

1. Set a specific goal

It’s hard to make a plan of action if you don’t know where you want to go. Look at how much it will cost you to buy a home in 2017. What amount of money do you need to save for that down payment? Your best option is to save at least 20% of a home’s purchase price. This allows you to get better options when it comes to mortgages and interest rates, and it means you avoid the extra cost of PMI (private mortgage insurance).

Once you have the specific target number in mind, you can break it down by month. If you want to save a total of $20,000 before you buy, for example, you need to put away about $1,667 per month to meet your goal at year’s end.

2. Designate a savings account just for your down payment fund

You can stay organized by putting the money you save for this specific purpose into its own savings account. Online banks like Ally or CapitalOne360 offer great options, because they allow you to have multiple accounts that you can designate for specific goals. (CapitalOne360 allows up to 30 accounts without a fee!)

Online banks also tend to offer higher interest rates in the current low-rate environment than traditional, brick-and-mortar banks. But that’s not a hard-and-fast rule. Shop around and look for a bank (or credit union) that offers the best savings account option, with the best interest rate — and don’t settle for an account that charges you fees. There are too many no-fee options available.

3. Create an automatic transfer

You have your specific goal and now you know where you’ll put that money while you save. The next step: Set up an automatic transfer from your checking to that designated savings account. Setting up an automatic transfer is a great way of “paying yourself first.” You prioritize your savings by moving it into the designated account first. This means you won’t be tempted to spend that money like you might if it sat in your checking account for a while before you made the conscious decision, month after month, to transfer it to savings.

It also means you’ll make progress toward your savings goal even if you forget about it one month (or two). An automatic transfer means you won’t fall short of your goal at the end of the year simply because you forgot to move the money to the right savings account.

4. Revise your budget to cut costs

Depending on how much you want to save for a down payment, you may need to move a lot of money from checking to savings each month. This can severely limit your cash flow and leave you short in other areas of your budget. To prevent this, review your budget with your monthly savings goal in mind. Where can you cut costs so you can afford to save this much per month? Start by looking at your discretionary income. You don’t need to eliminate everything, but could you cut back on how much you spend to eat meals out, for example?

Don’t forget to evaluate your bills and living expenses too. While you may not be able to cut these costs entirely, you can take action to reduce them. Call providers and ask about discounts or lower-priced options. Every little bit of expense you can eliminate makes it that much easier to add to your savings so you can stay on target.

5. Allocate extra funds to your home-buying goal

In addition to freeing up money from current costs in your budget, you can allocate any extra money you make to your down payment fund. This can accelerate your progress toward your ultimate savings goal — and even help you exceed it. Put any kind of windfall toward your designated savings account. This could include overtime pay, quarterly or annual bonuses from work, or extra money you make on the side (but be sure to set aside funds to cover taxes on your added income). Allocate at least half of cash gifts to savings too.

6. Resist making massive transfers before you apply for a mortgage

You’ve worked hard to save up the money you need to buy a home in 2017. You know your home-buying budget, you’ve identified a lender, and you’re ready to apply for a mortgage. Now is not the time to do anything drastic with any of your bank accounts. Remember, when you apply for a home loan, the lender will carefully scrutinize all of your financial activity. You’ll need to explain the source of any large transfers and provide documentation for proof.

Talk to your lender about what kind of funds they’ll approve and what cash they won’t allow you to use toward a down payment. Ask what documentation or proof you need for different kinds of transfers. Doing so now will help you prepare to buy a home in 2017 and secure the mortgage you need to help you reach your goal.

 

Post courtesy of trulia.com

How to Deal With Seller’s Remorse

Photo credit: Dragon Images / shutterstock.com

Probably almost everyone has heard of the phrase, buyer’s remorse. This is somewhat a feeling of regret that happens after a substantial buy, but a seller can equally get trapped in this situation. When it happens to the seller, he/she is likely to panic and might opt not to sell the property even when a potential buyer is found. Regarding real estate, seller’s remorse occurs when the sellers are not prepared to part with their property, may be because they view it as a bad decision, or when they are pressurized by the fact that they have to cash out the property.

As a matter of fact, seller’s remorse has become a common issue in transactions, and due to this, the article intends to provide various ways in which you can handle it.

Critically examine the costs and benefits of selling.

Before making any initial attempts of selling your home, it is essential to ask yourself if indeed it is appropriate to part with it. Though the question might seem simple, it does have some weight, bearing in mind that it will enable you to determine if it’s the right time to protect yourself against the seller’s remorse.

According to Weintraub Elizabeth, an associate broker and an expert in homebuying at Lyon Estate in Sacramento, California, the quickest and the easiest method of avoiding this particular issue is just by designing a list of the costs and the benefits. If you are able to find that there are more merits than the demerits, you should ultimately sell, adds Elizabeth. However, selling when the disadvantages outweigh the presumed benefits, is likely to place you at the risk experiencing the seller’s remorse.

Even though this is merely a theoretical concept, it is an important aspect to consider before discussing the probability of parting with your home.

Design a realistic and a solid strategy in pricing.

Apparently, various agents do encourage their respective sellers to list their properties in a competitive manner, with the aim of ensuring that the market finds it good. In most occasions, the sellers view this as an intention by the agent to get the home sold much quicker. However, the truth of the matter is that the agent is primarily considering the best interests of the seller.Pricing is one of an essential kind of a discussion you as the seller, can conduct with his agent. If by any chance, you find yourself resisting the suggested price by the agent of yours, kindly go through the available options or simply find a second opinion.As a piece of advice, one can always start out with a higher price, and if you note that there are no any activity in the first few weeks, you can often lower the initial price.

And if you didn’t know, those type of sellers who always hike up their prices even after the property has gone to the market are always deemed to be lacking a proper strategy, and who have a visible disconnect with their agents.

Always stay out when in doubt.

Nowadays, the prospect of selling a home is often done quickly in numerous parts of the country. Even though this seems to be an interesting news to homeowners and the housing market in general, a seller needs to plan in advance for the sale a few weeks before. If you didn’t know, finding a reputable local agent early enough in the whole process, and staying connected is the appropriate way to proceed in this new market.

If you are that individual who doubts his/her financial or physical situation, it is advisable to hold off listing. The largest mistake you can always make as a seller is going to the market and fail to sell in the long run.

Be prepared to relocate.

In certain situations, buyers can always be excited and anxious to move into their new-found home, and might request to close on your home in as little as a month. This is arguably a very short period for you to find a new location, and might lead you to a seller’s remorse. However, you can simply avoid this particular problem only if you have a clear post-sale program or plan. This implies that you must be prepared to move even before you place your property on the market, so that when an attractive offer comes your way, you may not have to reject it.

The above-described tips are quite easy and practical in nature, and you can easily employ them and avoid the seller’s remorse.