News

Sep 20, 2017

Renting to Own: The Pros & Cons For Landlords

Rent to own deals appear to be becoming more popular again. What are the real pros and cons for investment property owners? As home prices keep growing, and rent remain high, but mortgage lenders keep underwriting tight, renting to own, lease options, and seller held mortgages all appear to be getting more common again. They are highly desired by tenant-buyers, and can be highly profitable for real estate investors. What should you consider before making the leap? The Pros of Offering Rent to Own Deals There are a variety of benefits of this strategy, including the following. Easy Exit in Tough Markets Offering a rent to own option can provide landlords an easy exit, even in tough or declining housing markets. Just make sure it is priced in a way that is appealing and the right prospects can afford. Higher Sales Prices Rent to own tenants are mostly concerned about move-in costs and monthly payments. They care little about the actual sales price. This can help you get far more for your property. Passive Income Creating a seller financed mortgage note can deliver passive income with a lot less headaches. You no longer need to worry about tenants, maintenance, and all the time and risk involved. You just get monthly payments. The note created is also a new asset which can be sold and cashed in on whenever you like. Providing a Valuable Service There is a huge need for this service. Millennials and families are having a tough time in the rental market. They will find many benefits in homeownership. They may have good credit and incomes, but just fail to qualify for a conventional bank loan due to paperwork quirks. Give them a chance. The Cons of Offering Rent to Own Deals There are some potential downsides to these arrangements to. Make sure you know them. Defaults It may be a little more expensive and time consuming to fix a default situation under these deals than with just a straight tenant. Locked In You’ll be bound by your agreement for a while. This could be 6 to 24 months or more. You will have to stick it out, even if the market changes. Less Cash Now You’ll be getting less cash now than in a traditional sale. However, you’ll probably get a lot more over time. Legality Seller financing is still a bit of a cloudy space due to Dodd-Frank and other regulations. It is legal. Just consult an attorney so that you structure it right, with the right paperwork, and stay protected. There are both pros and cons to providing rent to own deals as a property owner. Do the math. Remember your big goals. Is it worth it to you?

Sep 13, 2017

How To Prepare For The Slow Holiday Rental Season

  Experienced landlords know that the housing market goes through different phases and cycles each year. Spring and summer can be hot months for leasing units fast and for top dollar. This can change quite a bit once kids are back in school in fall. Most people have locked down in a new lease for the year. People get busy focusing on the holidays, and the weather may put a damper on showings. How can rental property owners ace it, and still keep their units full at this time of year? Move-In Specials Consider offering move-in specials. Take a look at your competition and see what you need to do to stay competitive. Can you offer a free month of rent, lower security deposits, or a discount on monthly rent? Test some out. Track the performance of these deals and tenants over time and reevaluate if they are worth doing again. Make Open Houses More Attractive Real estate in general slows down in fall and winter due to the weather. It is just generally less appealing to go out and view properties. Change that dynamic. Give potential tenants more motivation to come out, and come in to your open houses. How about hosting Santa, or giving away hot chocolate and other freebies? Themed Marketing Build up your inbound marketing and keep in front of potential movers with themed content. Use hashtags, relevant keyword phrases, and seasonal titles to get noticed and build SEO. This includes blogs, social media posts, and email newsletters. There are tons to choose from starting with Halloween through New Year’s Eve. Pump Up Your Team You can’t have your leasing team getting down or considering a new career. Keep them pumped and loyal with holiday dinners, seasonal gifts, bonus plans, and a little extra time to spend with family or holiday shopping. Get Financially Prepared Thousands of new real estate investors and landlords get crushed during this season each year. They just don’t see it coming. Maybe they got into the game in the buzz of summer, and made plans based on that market. Those who aren’t prepared can go broke, get discouraged, and quit fast. Anticipate the need for reserves. Be financially prepared with cash flow to get through the months tenants are most likely to be late on their rent.   Late August through December can be a little more challenging for landlords. Especially for those who aren’t prepared. Get ahead of the game and make this the season you stand out and excel.

Sep 7, 2017

How Virtual Reality and Future Tech is Helping Real Estate Investors

Virtual reality continues to be one of the most exciting frontiers in tech, commerce, and real estate. If current trends continue, more real estate buyers, sellers, and investors could find it a necessity in navigating the market, and getting what they want. The Rise of VR Virtual reality (VR) technology has been in development for years. It really began gaining traction with the media coverage of Google’s glasses. Then QR codes morphed into augmented reality apps which enable people to interact with virtual items in the real world, via their phones. Then came virtual reality headsets which are now available in numerous stores, and pretty inexpensively. More recently, leaders like charity: water, and top NYC commercial real estate firms have begun using VR to create new experiences and ways to engage with far off, or future places. One VR company alone has created over half a million real estate related virtual tours in the last few years. Uses of VR in Real Estate VR tours can be used to view homes and rentals online and from a distance. VR goggles are one of the most immersive ways to engage with this material. Though consumers can also often view this material in regular video format through real estate websites and YouTube on their phones as well. Exploring New Destinations We may be more mobile, have more location freedom, and need to move or invest in new areas today, but most don’t want to take the time out and spend the money on flights unless they are really sold on the location and product already. VR is the best way to experience somewhere new from a distance so far. It can be used to explore new neighborhoods, views from a property, and local attractions.   The Challenges Like with any new tech, one of the major challenges today is the limited number of users. Not everyone has compatible devices for the best experience. You can spend a lot to produce and deliver this content. Yet, may not be able to connect with enough of the right leads, yet. The solutions are to make sure there is alignment between your product and those already actively using VR. For a few hundred dollars you can get to Best Buy and get your own 360 degree filming equipment and record your own video to save on costs at the beginning. What are your thoughts on VR for real estate? 

Aug 30, 2017

Do You Speak Real Estate Language?

Have you got your real estate lingo down yet? Check out the commonly used real estate language to filter the deals you really want, and decipher real estate listings and ads. Motivated Seller A motivated seller is someone eager to sell their house in a hurry, and often at a discount. That is typically due to some form of distress. The seller could be deep in debt, and have liens and past due taxes piled up against the home. Or the property could have major flaws. It may need a new roof, septic tank, or foundation. Cozy A small house or apartment. Probably very small. Could be a struggle getting your furniture in. Needs a Light Cleaning Prepare to have to bring in a professional cleaning crew. You could be up to your knees in sewage, have to battle mold, or scrub away graffiti. Handyman Special Get ready for some serious rehab work. There is likely to be some major repairs to be made. Partial View If you stand on a chair, on your tip toes and strain your neck, you might be able to see a sliver of something besides the neighbors’ brick wall. Starter Home A small cheap home that probably needs some fixing up. Unique A really special, quirky property which probably doesn’t fit in with the neighborhood. May have weird angles, be oddly colored, and have abstract landscaping. Rustic or Vintage An old out of date home. May need significant work to bring up to date. Airy Could have missing windows or doors. Maybe there are even holes in the floor or roof, or an entire wall could be missing. Good Bones There may not be much to this home except for the bones. There may be some frame, but expect to have to replace everything else. Up and Coming Area This could be a rundown dangerous, in need of intervention and revitalization – move there if you dare. It may be trendy, and the prices may be better, but it could have a way to go before it really catches on. Credit Challenged A prospective tenant with bad credit. No Closing Cost Loan Loans on which the mortgage lender may not charge their own closing costs. They may roll points, processing, and underwriting fees into a slightly higher interest rate. Note that there still will likely be third party closing costs including title insurance, closing fees, recording fees, taxes, and prorated property taxes and insurance. Get to know your real estate language to rapidly sift through the opportunities out there, and craft good listings and ads for your own properties you may be selling or renting.

Aug 23, 2017

Foreclosures 101: What They Mean For Investors

  Foreclosures continue to be one of the hottest items in the world of real estate. How do they work. What is the appeal for investors? What ways are there to participate? Foreclosures 101 A foreclosure is a legal proceeding which seizes real estate from an owner and liquidates it through a sale to compensate creditors. The most common reason for foreclosure is when a homeowner fails to pay their mortgage payments. Once a loan payment becomes 30 days late, it goes into default. Depending on where the property is, it may move into the legal foreclosure process once that payment is 90 days late. Although some lenders have dragged their feet on foreclosing when there are a lot of them, in order to preserve their own balance sheets. There are other reasons for foreclosure too. This includes past due property taxes, HOA liens, federal tax liens, and condemnation due to property condition or eminent domain, or other breaches of contract with a mortgage lender. Sometimes the owner is genuinely at fault for failing to keep their end of the deal. In many other cases lenders have fraudulently foreclosed to seize assets, or it is the result of paperwork glitches. Once a foreclosure is granted, properties are generally offered at auctions. If no winning bids are received, the creditor gains control of the property. What Foreclosures Mean for Real Estate Investors In one word – it means ‘opportunity’. Foreclosed properties need to be sold, and are typically offered by motivated sellers who are in need of selling that asset fast. This normally means they can be purchased at a discount. As of August 2017, Realtytrac reports there were 626,631 properties in the US in some stage of foreclosure. Discounts mean that real estate investors can buy these properties, and acquire them in a good equity position. They can sometimes be immediately resold for a profit. Though many may require significant repairs and updating before they are fit for renting or resale. How to Buy Foreclosure Homes There are a variety of ways to acquire foreclosure properties. In pre-foreclosure directly from the owner Via the MLS At foreclosure auctions Buying non-performing loan notes and foreclosing Via real estate wholesalers Participating in a fund or partnership which buys, rehabs, and rents them Foreclosures continue to be a popular topic in real estate investing. They can still offer value to investors. There are many reasons homes get foreclosed on. There are several ways to participate in these opportunities for all levels of investors from brand new to highly experienced.

Aug 9, 2017

What Real Estate Investors Would Do Differently If They Could Go Back

If you talk to experienced investors today, you’ll find a few common threads in what they would do differently if they could go back and start over. Learning from their mistakes now can certainly help in making the most of your investment opportunities. Invest Earlier One of the biggest and most common regrets of experienced investors is that they didn’t begin investing earlier. How soon you start investing makes a massive difference. Even a small amount invested now can grow into the millions by the time you retire. Whereas if you put it off, you’ll have to work harder, and give up a far larger percentage of your earned income, and take more risks in order to try and catch up. The earlier you invest, the more time you give yourself to make mistakes and learn.   Hold, Hold, Hold Another frequent regret is not having sold properties. Eventually real estate assets increase in value and have more income producing potential. At times, it is wise to exit to get the most cash out of a home, but that may pale in comparison to the potential gains of long term hold properties.   Buy Less Junk, Invest More Whether it was putting off investing to buy junk that ‘promised’ instant gratification, or blowing all the gains from flipping houses on car leases and partying, most would go back and splurge less on items that just rust or accumulate dust, and reinvest it instead.   Invest in Learning In investing it is what you don’t know that gets you. And you never know it all. Every moment spent learning can pay vast ongoing returns. No matter what the market and weather does, no one can ever take that from you.   Make Bolder Moves There is probably nothing worse than getting old and realizing all those ‘safe’ plays you made, all the years spent watching TV in comfort, and times you didn’t go somewhere because it was too adventurous, was all a waste. Decades were wasted, often without any rewards for it, and with little real financial security gained. Make bold moves while you are young, and while you can enjoy it. Even if they don’t work out you’ll have plenty of time to catch up.   Think Longer Term A five year plan simply isn’t long enough. To really be able to enjoy the fruits of your investing and to hold onto them you’ve got to think and plan a lot longer than that. The most successful think 100 years or more ahead.   Diversify No single thing, strategy or asset will perform amazingly all the time, forever. Not house flipping, not your favorite rental, not the stock market, not your business. The key is diversifying. Diversify into different assets, strategies, and locations.   There is a lot of benefit to be found in learning from the mistakes and regrets of others. Learn from these clues, so you don’t make the same mistakes, so you can enjoy the journey more, and be pleased with the end result.

Jul 20, 2017

Three Keys to Successful Investing 

  Want to be successful in your investing? Focus on these 3 keys...   There are a lot of factors that we look at when digging into investments. Yet, we often get distracted from some of the most important elements. Here are three critical keys to truly profiting from investments, and creating sustainable results that will last.   Minimize Fees   In his recent book ‘Money – Mastering the Game’, Tony Robbins reveals that one of the biggest threats to our financial futures and profitable investments are fees. In the world of real estate, individuals could face a barrage of multiple layers of fees with mortgages, brokerage, and banking: Many of which don't make sense or are confusing. This can be what depletes potential double digit gross returns, down to what may actually be negative yields once you count inflation. It is important to differentiate junk fees from legitimate fees in your investments and obtain quality, professional advice. You usually get what you pay for. However, by investing smarter we can strip away many of these layers, and get good returns, with good management.   Minimize Taxes   Smart investors prioritize taxes when investing. They take them head on, instead of just burying their heads in the sand. Taxes can take a 30-40% chunk right off the top of your returns. That dramatically changes what you thought you were going to get from an investment. Fortunately, there are some investments which offer tax breaks, and vehicles for investing which the IRS has established to allow investors to enjoy tax deferred or tax-free investments. Use these and you will not only stay in the black when others fall into the red, but you can generate out-sized returns, and build wealth and income much faster. Imagine being able to invest 40% more each year?   Diversify   No matter how carefully you select investments things can happen. Markets can change, corrections can happen or even natural disasters can come along. If you have all your money in one type of investment, or one asset, you are facing risks every day. Even within the same sector or asset class, you want to hold multiple units. When you are in multiple locations you’ll most always be able to generate income and have a cushion, no matter what happens externally.   Summary We can use all types of fancy calculations and weigh all kinds of metrics when evaluating investments. If you are not watching the fees, watching the taxes, and fail to stay diversified, you could find your profits not being so profitable! A lot of getting the best ROI comes down to smart due diligence, intensive research and knowing ALL the numbers.  

Jul 14, 2017

20 Habits of the Smart Investor

What good habits will you find common among the most successful real estate investors?   Goal Setting   Setting goals is critical to get where you want to go. Everyone you know who has achieved great things has set clear goals.  Think about applying SMART goals: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time bound.   Ongoing Education   Going deep into debt for a college degree is only part of your education. Much of what you learn is self-taught by life experience. Being a lifelong learner is a sign of true intelligence.   Focus on Your Process   Having goals and a good investment strategy is the start. The real success comes in focusing on the right process and improving on it. Process and protocol can simplify how you operate and give you a clear roadmap that you can gather data with.    Compete with Yourself   Real leaders focus on getting better and improving themselves and their results year over year. Don’t spend all your time worrying about competition, compete with yourself.   Eliminate Time Wasters   Identify the time drains in your day and put a plan in place to remove them. Look at how often you answer your email, look at social media, take unnecessary phone calls and shuffle paper. This applies to both people and activities which are a waste of your time.   Adapt   If one thing is for sure, it is that things are constantly changing. Those best at adapting have the best chance to stay ahead. Remember the only constant in life is change.   Be Persistent   Persistence is the difference between the successful and the rest of society. Remember the story of Thomas Edison? “I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work.”   Focus on the Positive   You manifest what you think about. Stay positive and get positive results. This is a daily choice. You can’t control everything that happens, only how you look at it and react.   Good Health Habits   Good health habits help your mind work optimally and gives you the ability to stay positive. This increases your energy levels and stamina. You don’t have to become a bodybuilder, just practice healthy habits daily.   Morning Rituals   Smart investors have good morning rituals. They might include stretching, a cold shower, a meditation or quiet time or simply breakfast! These help them focus on their goals, stay positive, and stay healthy.   Planning Ahead for the Day   Create your own schedule, or you’ll always have your life and results controlled by others. Elite entrepreneurs like Elon Musk schedule their time down to segments of just a few minutes.   Visualize Success   Setting goals aren't enough. The real change happens when you apply visualization. This engages emotion and positive thinking and puts your goals into action.   Practice Thankfulness   Intentionally contemplating thankfulness daily makes a big difference in our mindset. Operating from a mindset of gratitude will change your outlook, reactions, and can really help when it comes to building relationships.   Get Enough Sleep   Sleep is underrated. It affects our metabolism, how we feel, and our ability to think well. Getting enough sleep is actually more critical than the amount of time you put into your waking hours.   Nurture Positive Relationships   Who you hang out with matters, a lot. Make sure you are spending time with positive people who will lift you up. Work on building real relationships and connections.   Generate Multiple Streams of Income   No matter how smart you are markets and individual investments can take some wild turns. If all your eggs are in one basket that can be a problem if the market corrects. If you have multiple streams of income you are setting yourself up for a better outcome.   Work Smarter   Work efficiently, and know when you are at your peak effectiveness. The question of putting in 12 hour days when your peak ends at 8 hours is something you need to gauge. Learn how to make the most of those 8 hours instead. That’s when you’ll get the best ROI on your time.   Master Self-Reliance   If you want good things to happen, it’s on you. It comes down to you to solve problems and take action. Take ownership of this fact, and look for ways to be self-sustaining to cover yourself financially.   Make Time to Play   Along with sleep, and hustling hard during your active hours, taking the time to play and actively de-stress is critical. Why work so hard on everything else on this list if you aren’t going to take the time to enjoy the journey too?   Give   The pinnacle of success isn’t really just amassing a fortune and hitting ‘your number’. The most successful go on to give big, pay it forward, donate, and volunteer. You don’t have to wait either. Make this a part of your process now.   You may not be able to implement all of these at once.  Take one at a time and focus on mastery and then move to the next. Each goal that is achieved and reward reaped gives you the motivation to push forward toward success in not just real estate investing but in your everyday life!

Jul 11, 2017

Property Management: Preparing for the Back to School Rush

How can landlords and property managers prepare for the end of summer rush before school starts? Late spring and summer are considered peak season for home buying and selling. This can result in a back to school rush for tenants to relocate and get into new places before school starts. When you’ve got this much action all at once, it can get really crazy. If you aren’t prepared it may become very stressful and expensive. Stay ahead of the game, and you’ll keep earning the loyalty of the best tenants, and keep your returns up. Preparing for Exiting Tenants The first step is to get ahead of the game on existing tenants. If you have leases renewing you want to touch base early and get new leases signed. You want to keep your good tenants and have a shot at talking them into staying. You also want to know if they are leaving as soon as possible. Then you can capture other movers in the market and get fresh rental property ads up before everyone is locked down for the next year. Prepare for Turnovers One of the worst blunders real estate investors make is waiting to put property management in place after a new lease is all closed, and it’s time to collect rents. Savvy investors get property management in the game before the change in tenants happens. A good property manager can help with the needs in getting the property ready, the rental process, and ensuring a smooth turnover. Bring in Extra Help With more phone calls, move-ins, and repair requests expected at this time of year, it is smart to bring in extra help. This could just be a part-time outsourced assistant. Factor in what it takes to line up additional vendors and backup vendors for landscaping, turning over units, and handling bookkeeping and tenant screening. Home Warranties Home warranty plans can be a huge help at this time of year. Between new rental units, new tenants in units with older appliances, and perhaps new appliances being setup, there can be a lot of glitches. These can be a big time and money drain. Home warranty plans can help eliminate or minimize these expenses and disruptions. Inspections and Preventative Maintenance This is a smart time of year to set up routine property inspections and tackle any maintenance issues in advance before they get more expensive or disrupt the ability to keep units occupied. Preventive inspections of the heating units and winterizing the A/C unit is good to schedule for early fall. Better Property Management Software Better software may help streamline bookkeeping, reporting to any investor partners you have, and with accurately tracking property condition. These programs are constantly being updated, with new companies offering better and better solutions. Make sure you know your options and pick the one that suits your business.   Preparing ahead of time and getting the proper players in place can get you ahead of the game and help you to deal with the back to school rush. Don’t let the big yellow bus, with the flashing red lights, get in front of you and hold you up in leasing your properties!