Real Estate Investing There are many methods for building fortunes in the world today. One of the most accessible even for the common entrepreneur however is real estate investing. In fact, you will find many rags to riches stories are built by investing in the real estate marketing in one form or another if not many methods for investing in this lucrative but risky field. Real estate is a great strategy for the investor who is willing to make the time to learn about the options, risks, and potential rewards for this type of investment process. Some of the more common real estate investments are the following: 1) Rental property. Property ordinarily gains value over time unlike many other investments that may rise and fall quickly and without warning. The problem is that far too few people can actually afford to hold and maintain multiple properties over an extended and indefinite period of time while waiting for the value to rise. Many property investors manage to overcome this by renting the properties to tenants during the time when the property values are rising. This allows the tenants to essentially cover the note on the property and makes the venture a little less risky though there are risks involved when dealing with tenants (such as property damage, failure to pay the rent, and possible legal woes-the good tenants generally outweigh the bad). 2) Pre-construction investment. This is a highly speculative and very risky sort of property investment that has booms and busts. Many investors recently discovered exactly how risky this endeavor actually is when the property 'bubble' went bust so to speak. The risks involved in this type of investment should not cover up the fact that many millionaires have been created through pre-construction investing and many more will be created in the future. Pre-construction investing, just as its name implies is a type of investment in which investors purchase 'options' on the property before ground is broken. This is very popular in high demand areas that are known to experience housing shortages as prices often rise quickly and the units are often sold before they are completed and any 'real' money exchanges hands. 3) Flipping houses. This is a type of property investment that has made leaps and bounds in the last few years thanks to the popularity of many popular home improvement and house flipping shows on cable networks in the last few years. More and more people have decided to pursue this sort of investment in hopes of creating big profits in a short amount of time and with minimal investment. The problem, of course, is that it always looks much easier on television than it is in person. Couple this with the fact that many people have unrealistic expectations when it comes to costs and ability and there are plenty of risks involved with this type of investment as well. For those who are successful however, there is the potential for great profit in a relatively short amount of time as these televisions shows indicate. 4) Buy and hold. As mentioned above, real estate tends to gain value over time. Even if the buildings are in desperate need of TLC and repair the very land they are standing on is more often than not gaining value as the years pass by. Purchasing large lots of land or even several houses and holding on to them for as long as possible before selling can often fund college educations for children, pay for weddings, or greatly supplement retirement funds. The longer these properties are held the better in most cases as this provides the greatest opportunity for the value of the property to increase. 5) Lease options. There are few people in this world who never experience rough spots financially. Many of these people are denied traditional home loans because of their inability to cover debts properly in the past. For this reason they are often willing to pay for the privilege of rebuilding their credit while working towards a path of home ownership. For these people, a lease option presents a workable and often valued solution. Those investors who are willing to take the risks often find the rewards are well worth those risks. These are only some of the investment opportunities that exist for those who are interested in real estate for an investment avenue. There are commercial real estate endeavors that have the potential to bring in big profits as well as the development and planning of housing communities as well. Needless to say real estate investing offers many opportunities to the savvy investor. Is Real Estate Investing for You? There are all types of investments in this day and age. One of the most often touted for creating millionaires around the world however is real estate investing. Even in the field of real estate there are several different investment styles. Each style involves varying degrees of risk on behalf of the investor. If careful consideration is taken there is a type of real estate investment that is best for most people though there are some that real estate will never be a good investment for. Those who are simply not cut out for real estate investing are those who love to watch the ticker roll across the computer monitor or television screen indicating the worth of their portfolios on a daily basis. Those who need to see in print the wisdom of their investment practices rather than those who are content to sit on their investments as they take shape or those who are willing to actively work in order to make their investments pay off. Buy and hold real estate involved purchasing property and holding on to it for a very long time while the value of the property appreciates in value. This requires someone that is very savvy when making purchases or extremely lucky for the most part. More importantly however, it involves someone who has the patience and tenacity to hold on to their investments for a long period of time. These investments can provide a nice retirement for the right investor as well as funds at the proper time for the weddings of children or to pay for college. Rental properties are another excellent way to make money for those who are willing to deal with a long-term property investment. In this type of investment money is made each month to either pay or contribute to the mortgage and funds can be made once the property is paid for and sold later in life in order to receive a more complete and total profit from the endeavor. There is some degree of expense along the way that is involved in keeping properties up to date and in demand however the benefits of this particular type of investment are almost undeniable for the right investor. Flipping is another type of real estate investment that is receiving a large amount of press these days. This process involves purchasing a property below its value, investing in repairing or rehabbing the property, and then reselling the property for a substantial profit. This is one of the few short-term sorts of investment that are widely profitable when it comes to real estate investing. There are others but those carry even greater risks than flipping. Of course there are high-risk real estate ventures for those that need a little excitement in their lives. One of the more common high-risk investments would be pre-construction real estate investing. With this form of investment the investor is actually 'betting' that the future property will sell for a higher price than the investor paid once the building is complete. Whether your investment needs are low-risk, high-risk, or somewhere in between there is quite likely a style of real estate investment that will be appropriate for your specific investment needs. If you do not find a real estate investment plan that is right for you then do not despair there is no style of investing that is right for everyone. Flipping Houses for Fun and Profit For those of you who watch on the edges of your seats week after week as people on cable television seek to successfully turn a lump of coal of a house into a diamond that is suitable for kings and queens of the middle class to call home it is quite possible that you have considered 'flipping' a home of your own. This is a great way to make a nice tidy profit in real estate rather quickly if proper planning and attention to detail is made in the process. Believe it or not, when done correctly and within reasonable time and budget constraints, projects such as this can be a great challenge that is also a ton of fun. First of all, the average citizen isn't allowed to play with power tools on a regular basis and Tim Allen has taught us exactly how fun power tools can be. Keep in mind that he has also taught us just how dangerous they can be as well. The point is that it is often fun to learn new things and for many of us, working with power tools is a new thing. For those experienced with power tools, there are still likely to be some fun new things on the horizon when doing a real estate flip. Even if power tools aren't exactly your cup of tea, perhaps you have always wanted to try your hand at creating a color scheme or a trial run at renovating a kitchen or bathroom. Beyond a great way to have fun while turning a profit, a house flip can be a great practice session for changes you'd like to make within your own home. Most of us learn best by making mistakes. Isn't it best to make mistakes with Formica or Corian (r) rather than the granite countertops we'd prefer in our own kitchens and baths? This also gives you the opportunity to see how things you are considering for your home look in other homes before incorporating them into your home. If you are considering a certain type of laminate flooring, try it in a house that you are flipping. This is the ultimate opportunity to use trial and error when making design and decor plans for your own home. Even better is the fact that you can be working towards a profit as you do just that and I personally do not know of anyone that does not appreciate a nice hefty bit of profit every now and then. Another fun thing about flipping real estate is that you often get the opportunity to work with the people you love. This is a great opportunity to get friends and family involved in the process of creating a masterpiece right by your side. The price for their time and labor is often some good music, a tasty pizza, and a couple of cold sodas (or beers provided the work is done for the day and everyone is walking home of course). Even children can be of some help in these projects though you want to be very careful that they aren't too much help with power tools and paintbrushes. Typically have older children help with landscaping projects and find someone to care for younger children (the tools, fumes, and temptations for small children simply may prove too risky to be practical). Flipping Houses for Fast Real Estate Profit One of the rising stars when it comes to real estate investment is known as 'flipping' properties. This works by buying properties that are in need of either minor cosmetic repairs or in need of serious renovations, doing the work, and selling the home for a much greater price. In theory this brings in a significant amount of profit in a rather small amount of time. This is the case for many who attempt to flip properties but it takes a little more than the idea in order to make the process work. For this reason, there are many who end up sacrificing profit or losing money in the process when plans aren't well conceived. If you are considering a future in real estate investing, this is one of the quickest ways in which investors can turn a profit. It is also a method for bringing in high profit in a short amount of time. Unfortunately, this once closely guarded secret has gained some degree of infamy and there is fierce competition for the undervalued properties on the market as more and more would be investors decide to throw their hats into the collective ring. If you are considering real estate investments in general and house flipping in particular there are some things you should keep in mind. 1) Treat this as a business rather than a hobby. Far too many investors do not take their investments seriously. This is a mistake because in this business time is money and every month that the house isn't sold is a month that the house is costing you money. Create a plan, make a schedule, and stick to them both. 2) Remember that this is a business. You are not investing in properties to make friends or seem nice. You are in this business to turn a profit. You cannot be timid about making low offers. The ability to buy low and sell high is the lifeblood of this particular business. This means that you are quite likely going to hurt feelings and make people angry (because they often place emotional prices to their homes that are simply not economically feasible). If you cannot deal with this reality then you are going to have some degree of difficulty gaining the high profits you are seeking. Nice guys finish last and you can't really afford to do that in this line of work. 3) Pay attention to the market. This is vitally important. Many 'flippers' lost their shirts in the recent near collapse of the housing market around the U. S. The truth of the matter is that the indicators have been building for years. In cities where there was once a shortage of viable housing options there are currently surpluses. This does not drive the value of properties down so much as it brings them back to their proper values. Investors that were counting on an ability to sell above the actual value of the property were left holding the bag (or rather notes) on these properties for quite some time until they could be sold. Some never managed to sell these properties and were left dealing with the expense in addition to the costs of the upgrades. Do not buy in an inflated market if it can be avoided unless it is during the very beginning of the inflation (before property developers have the opportunity to create a surplus). 4) Do not allow it to become personal. Far too many first time house flippers decide to create a work of art rather than a business investment. It is tempting when making cosmetic and structural repairs to go ahead and create a dream home. The problem with this is that depending on the particular market you are unlikely to recoup the costs involved in doing so. The goal is to invest little and profit large. Granite countertops are lovely but not at all necessary in a neighborhood filled with those of humble means. Cater to the tastes and budgets of your target market rather than your personal tastes. Despite the risks involved in flipping houses as a real estate investment there is no denying that fortunes have been made doing just that. Even in the current housing market there is a great deal of promise available to those who can do the work quickly and inexpensively. People still want to buy these lovely homes rather than buying a home that needs to be made over after the price of purchasing. Real Estate Investing for the First Timer You have probably read all the information on the market as it relates to real estate investing and are well aware that many of the world's millionaires made their fortunes in the real estate market. As a result I'm sure that you feel ready to throw your hat into the ring and begin your own real estate portfolio. There is certainly nothing wrong with this as an investment strategy though there are many wrong ways in which an investor can go about the process. Flipping properties is my field of experience and a good deal of what will be discussed here will relate to flipping properties though some of the information can be crossed over into rental properties and other types of real estate investment. Even personal property can be a real estate investment. Real estate is one of the few forms of investment in today's society in which you can actually see the changes as they are occurring. It is truly amazing to watch a property that was once neglected and in a state of disrepair suddenly spark back to life right before your very eyes. There is a lot of work involved in this process though and this is often overlooked. Much like labor in light of birth. The pains are quickly forgotten when looking into the face of the outcome. Keep these things in mind for your first time and you should be well on your way to future success. You should also realize that the first few investments are learning experiences more than anything else. If you do not achieve the success you were hoping for (or success to a lesser degree than hoped) you should not give up on the dream all together simply learn from the mistakes you will make along the way as well as the mistakes that others have made. Real estate investing is not an exact science. There is no formula in this business that guarantees success. Even seasoned professionals will find the occasional bump in the road even on a property for which they had high expectations. Stuff happens along the way that cost money, delay the project, or set the project back. These things are stumbling blocks no doubt but should not be allowed to derail the entire project. When these things happens go back to your original plan, reassess the situation and create a new plan with the necessary adjustments in mind. The key is in sticking to a plan the entire time and never throwing the plan out the window and flying by the seat of your pants. Your plan will be your lifeline throughout the project. You need to have a plan and a budget in writing. One great rule of thumb is that you set aside double the amount of money you plan for in your budget. This gives you a bit of a safety net for the inevitable things that will go wrong. Things will go wrong on almost every flip you encounter. Even the seasoned professionals that have television shows about their flipping efforts encounter problems in almost every single flip, rehab, or renovation. For your first few investment purchases it is recommended that you purchase properties that need little more than minor cosmetic repair rather than complete rehabs or renovations. This allows you to get your feet wet without the incredible risk of going off the deep end mentally, emotionally, and financially. These properties represent lower profits but also lower risk. They also allow you to gain valuable experience and raise a little capital in which to invest in properties requiring more extensive work in the future. Keep your eye on the carrot at the end of the project. Far too many would be property investors give up just before they reach the point of true profitability. The goal is the profit at the end of the project. Things to Look for When Buying Personal Real Estate There are all kinds of things you will want to consider when buying the real estate that your family will call home. The problem is that far too many get caught up in the small or cosmetic details of the purchase and search that they forget the primary needs of the family in the process. Keep the following things in mind when considering real estate purchases and you are much more likely to be happy with your decision a few years down the road. 1) Size. When it comes to real estate size really does matter. The problem is that it matters differently for different people. Those that are aging and whose families have left home would do well in smaller properties that required lower maintenance. Those with growing families need room to grow not only inside the house but also outside the home. If you have 5 children you do not want to be crowding them into 2 bedrooms nor do you need five bedrooms (unless you want them of course) if you are a confirmed bachelor. Size is an important consideration when deciding on a house that will meet the needs of you and/or your family. 2) Neighborhood. This is important for everyone. No one wants to buy a home in an area where they do not feel safe. At the same time most people also do not want to live in a neighborhood that is just entering into or on the verge of a state of decline. Remember that a home for the most part is a 30-year commitment you want to make that commitment in an area that is slated for growth rather than decline. 3) Property Value. The value of your property is what makes real estate an investment. The general idea is that in the 30-year period you are making the payments on your home the value of the home will experience a slow but steady increase. If the area you are considering for your real estate purchase has experienced a couple of years of declining property value you may want to find out the cause before making the investment and placing your family in that area. It could be an indicator of potential decline. 4) School District. This is typically only a consideration for those who either have children or are planning to have children. For those however, it is a very important consideration. Most school districts around the country are determined by the neighborhood in which you live. 5) Cost. This is a very important consideration for most people who are searching for a home. Obviously you want the best possible value for your money but you should take care that you do not find yourself slaving away to merely eek out your house note each and every month. You need to be able to live comfortably within your means along with your house payment in order to have the best possible real estate situation. Of course there are other common considerations that should be taken into account. Among those are the condition of the home, the number of similar families in the area, and the closeness of the area to other conveniences such as stores, work, and entertainment. All of these things add up to a deep satisfaction in the home you have chosen or growing discontent over the years. Things to Avoid When Flipping Real Estate Flipping property is rising in popularity as a form of real estate investing. The truth of the matter is that this is one of the more entertaining methods for many investors that are simply 'itching' to get their hands a little dirty. The sweat equity involved in these transactions, while attractive, can also be daunting when skills are inadequate and out and out dangerous in some situations. If you are one of the many around the world who consider the appeal of flipping property with huge dollar signs in your eyes, you should take care to avoid the following things in order to minimize your risks while maximizing your potential for success. 1) Do not fail to have a qualified inspection of the property before any money changes hands. If you do not have any idea of the types of work that needs to be done then you cannot possibly make an educated estimate of the costs involved in rehabbing the property. 2) Do not underestimate the budget for repairs on the flip. This is one of the most common mistakes that even seasoned professionals make and it can mean the difference between a profit and a loss on the property if you aren't careful and do not stick to the planned budget. 3) Do not overestimate your abilities. This is another common mistake. The fact that you've seen something done on television doesn't mean that it is something you can do on your own. It costs more money and time to have someone come in and repair your mistakes than to have had a professional do the work from the beginning. This doesn't mean that you can't learn how to do some of the work or that doing so would be cost effective. The trick lies in determining where your skills and abilities can really take you rather than where you hope they will take you. Plumbing, electrical, and structural work are generally best left to the professionals unless you have specific experience or training in these fields. 4) Do not fail to hold yourself accountable to your timetable and your budget. Real estate investing puts you in the bosses seat and while that is often simple when it comes to driving others, we often have a bit of difficulty when it comes to holding ourselves accountable for time and money along the way. Unfortunately, failing to do so can be a very costly blunder. 5) Do not forget to keep up with receipts, bills, etc. and reconcile the facts and figures daily. It is far too simple to allow a couple of trips to the local home improvement center escape careful scrutiny. Add a couple of these trips per day and you could easily find thousands of dollars missing from your budget with no paper trail to explain the transactions. You could also find that some tools will not work or be needed for the project. Those items cannot typically be returned without the original receipts. 6) Avoid having too many chiefs on the project. If this is your ball game then you need to run with it rather than having 10 people giving contradictory orders. Schedule meetings regularly to discuss progress and any adjustments or changes that may need to be made. 7) Avoid poor planning. This is one step that is the difference for many would be house flippers between success and failure. Plan out every step of the project in an order that makes sense. You do not want to paint the ceilings or walls after you've installed new floors. Nor do you want to rip out walls in order to replace plumbing after you've painted them. Plan things out in the proper order and allow a day or two between subsequent projects in case extra time is needed. The last thing you want to do is pay a group of contractors to stand around waiting for the paint to dry so they can begin the next step in the process. There are risks involved in any type of investment. While real estate is one of the greatest things in the world in which people can invest, there are still risks involved. Following the advice above however can significantly lower those risks and give investors the opportunity to have great expectations when all is said and done. Whether this will be your first flip or your fortieth flip there is much that can be reviewed in the steps above that will reaffirm many of the things you've learned along the way. The Flipside of Flipping Houses Television programming and infomercials of all styles will have you believe that flipping houses is a fun and fascinating way to turn a serious profit in real estate. It is just that, though it is also so much more. There is a lot of money that can be made by flipping houses (buying homes in various states of neglect or disrepair, making the repairs, and then selling for a sizeable profit) by the right professionals. However, there is a massive amount of work that is actually involved in the process of making that money. The sheer volume of work, the time consumption, the sleepless nights and days, and the sometimes disgusting chores that must be done in order to get a run down property in sellable conditions is often glossed over on these television shows for various reasons-most of all the reason that the average Joe sitting at home wants to believe that he too can do this kind of work for quick profits and these images are not conducive to that illusion. In other words, this is a tough racket no matter how easy they attempt to make it seem. Poor planning is the bane of a property flipper's existence. In order to have a successful flip (and by that I mean maximum profit-minimum investment not any profit at all) you must carefully create a plan of action and implement that plan as quickly and cost effectively as possible. You must also realize that there are likely to be rain delays, hiccups, and disasters along the way. Proper planning can eliminate some of the disasters that may occur but it will not eliminate every conceivable possibility that will come along. More importantly than anything else however, proper planning can limit these occurrences as well as their severity to the overall time schedule and budget. Another important thing, which falls under proper planning, is having a proper inspection done. The importance of this step cannot be stressed enough. Knowing the problems and potential problems that exist in a property can help you create a workable timetable and budget for the property flip. This also notifies you of potential problems you may encounter along the way. The television shows that deal with this week in and out often leave out this oh so important step and many would be investors find themselves investing in a money pit rather than a home that has potential to turn the quick profits they are hoping for. You should make every effort to insure that your first flip is a simple cosmetic flip (this is something that a good inspector can assist with). In fact, this should be the case for your first few flips and then you can move on to more substantial flips that involve more work. The reason is simple-while the profits will be somewhat smaller on these cosmetic flips it gives you, as the investor, the opportunity to learn to budget, set timetables, and live within those budgets and timetables. This is where most investors go astray when taking on projects that are above their means. A house flip is no small endeavor and there is a lot of money to be lost along the way when this particular real estate investment doesn't pan out. Start small and ignore the dollar signs in your eyes, then work up to more extensive projects. Another pitfall that many investors make is not catering to the audience they are hoping to attract in the property being flipped. A bachelor's pad does not need 3 or 4 bedrooms. At the same time, a family home typically needs at least 3 if not 4 or more bedrooms. Other considerations should be fenced in yards, landscaping, and maintenance requirements. Low maintenance lawns are in high demand these days particularly low maintenance lawns that appear to be well landscaped. Keep these things in mind when flipping your real estate and you should see some degree of success-just remember, the rewards when you are doing things you never thought you would be doing during the process. Selling Real Estate in a Sluggish Market Real estate is one commodity that many depend upon to get them through the rough times in their investment strategies. The problem is that unlike stocks and bonds, real estate is not the most liquid of assets to turn into cash when the going gets rough and money is needed immediately. This may be the one large drawback when it comes to real estate. You cannot rely solely upon real estate to get you through the financial rough patches, as real estate is a very fickle market. There is only one way in which real estate can truly be sold in a sluggish market such as the one that is rocking the real estate world at the moment and that is not always a way that is ideal for investors. However by offering an exceptional value to consumers, you can almost always manage to sell real estate. This is by far not the method of choice for investors. Investors are often encouraged to hold onto properties during the rough patches by any means possible (and ethical of course) in order to get the maximum profit they are hoping to achieve in the endeavor. When this is not possible, make sure the property being offered and sold is the best value for the money that is currently on the market. Play up the attributes of any given property and offer several properties for sell at once (assuming you own more than one). More importantly, offer different types of properties rather than one style of property. If you own a few rentals, a couple of vacation homes, time shares, and perhaps a corporate office building or two put one of each on the market and see which sells more quickly. Another thing that must be considered in a sluggish market is that you cannot attach an emotional value to the price of the property. This is simply bad business. No matter how much sweat, tears, and blood have gone into the property you must realize that just as it is a business transaction for you, so it is for the person placing the bid. You cannot afford to run off potential bidders by becoming insulting or feeling insulted by their bids. Make a counter offer and see what happens rather than letting emotion rule the day. In a buyer's market there will be low offers. There are many who make livings (like most investors are attempting to do) by buying low and selling high. This means they will make an insultingly low offer the first time around to see where the seller stands. This doesn't mean they are the scum of the earth only that they are in this for the greatest possible profit. Do not take their actions or attitudes personally. They are not insulting you or the property only attempting to gain the most money in the process. Most businesses operate that way no matter what they claim. Selling property in a sluggish market can be a disappointing and gut wrenching process but it is often necessary for one reason or another. Unexpected expenses arise and money is needed when it is needed. This is after all why we make these investments in the first place, to be able to handle the unexpected twists and turns that life tosses our way. Real Estate Investors Offer Perks to Retain Tenants What tenant wouldn't love the allure of high speed Internet and a computer of their very own? This is one of many incentives that investors and property owners are offering in order to retain or reward long term tenants. There are other rewards that are just as effective and cost property owners a little less in order to keep the tenants such as gift cards to restaurants after the renewal of a lease or gift cards at furniture stores for lengthening an existing lease. Savvy investors realize that an empty house, apartment, mobile home, etc. is money that is being lost each month that these sit empty. The same savvy investors also realize that by keeping tenants longer they are often able to prolong the installation of new carpet, new paint, and other cosmetic repairs that are often required when a dwelling is turned over. In addition to the costs of these repairs there is also the time problems of these repairs as many of these cannot be completed in the course of a day or two and leave the apartment out of commission for at least a week if not longer. Bottom line is that the time the apartment sits empty is essential income that is lost. If you do have an empty apartment or house there are things you can do in order to entice renters to sign a lease. One thing that many potential tenants find appealing is offering to allow them to select the color scheme for the walls and flooring. Too many rental units permit only white walls to their tenants. Imagine the benefits of not only allowing them to have walls in designer colors but also doing the work for them. This is a great incentive to many renters who love the idea of the final look but not necessarily the expense or work involved in creating that look. The ability to have the colors of choice when moving in is a huge bonus to many renters that should not be neglected or overlooked. Another thing that tenants find helpful and appreciate in a rental property are the little luxuries such as a dishwasher, garbage disposal, built in microwave, washing machine, or dryer. These things are luxuries that many find are well worth signing a longer lease and even paying a little extra for each month. Garages and carports are another great bonus to potential tenants if you have the facilities to provide this. There are other enhancements you can make to a property that makes it more appealing to long-term tenants. Some of these would include ceiling fans, a fenced in yard for children or pets, and free cable television. It is the little touches that often appeal to renters and you will be amazed at the difference they make. By offering your tenants something that every other landlord in the area is failing to offer you are standing out from the rest. You are also creating a 'spoiled' tenant who isn't going to be content with what the other landlords have to offer when the time to renew the lease comes around. For this reason he or she is likely to stick around for yet another six months or year until the new lease expires, at which time you, as the savvy investor you are, can convince them to once again name their price for staying and offer yet another beautiful incentive in order to keep your clients happy and in place. Mortgage Advice for Residential Real Estate When it comes to owning property many people around the world will tell you that this is a lifelong dream. While once an opportunity that seemed to be reserved for either the wealthiest or the most miserly among the general population home ownership is now something that is accessible to a larger segment of the population than ever before. This is good news for many but for some can lead to confusing encounters with mortgage brokers and serious sharks along the way. The best advice that anyone can give someone attempting to embrace the dream of real estate ownership is to deal with a reputable company when it comes to obtaining a mortgage. Even when dealing with reputable lending companies you must watch out for those who do not have your best interest at heart. If you would like some very practical advice when it comes to getting a mortgage, then you are at the right place. First of all, avoid lenders that are encouraging you to take a loan for more money than you are comfortable repaying. Foreclosures are at a record high when it comes to the mortgage industry at the moment because of predatory lending practice on behalf of some mortgage brokers. These practices include convincing people to borrow more money than they could realistically hope to pay over time and have any quality of life as well as convincing homebuyers to take out adjustable rate mortgages in the beginning in order to procure lower rates. Shop around before you decide to buy when it comes to mortgages. This doesn't mean to actually apply for mortgages all over town but do the research and compare rates before applying with any one company. Talk to several different brokers and find out what they have to offer you that the other company down the road cannot or will not offer. Keep in mind that mortgage companies will offer everything under the sun from free toasters to free vacations in order to get you to go with their company. The proof is in the terms however. It is simply not worth that free toaster if you are going to end up paying a 6.9% interest rate instead of a 5.9% rate. You will have paid for that toaster many times over in the process of paying the mortgage. Even after you've applied for a mortgage, if the deal seems to be going south check out your other options. There are all kinds of problems that crop up along the way. You are not marrying the mortgage broker. Nine times out of ten you aren't even making any sort of commitment at all to your mortgage broker. You will however be living in the house you select. If there is a problem with the mortgage company for the specific home you want do not hesitate to change in order to get the home you desire for your family rather than allowing the mortgage company to dictate what kind of home you can buy. I mention this because we had a very similar problem when we purchased our turn of the century home. The mortgage company didn't think the home was worth the risk because of its age. We saw the beauty and the potential in our home that is coming along quite nicely and managed to be approved and financed in short order with another mortgage company. If this was the case in our situation, chances are that it will work for others as well. In all honesty, it is nearly impossible to buy a home in this day and age without taking out a mortgage. It is best however if you see the process as a learning experience rather than an abject lesson in intimidation. This is your home and your money that will be spent in order to purchase the home. You are asking them for a loan but quite frankly, they need your business. Do not hesitate to shop around for the best deal with a mortgage just as you did when finding your home. Lease to Own Real Estate Credit problems plague people across the globe. These problems can lead to many other problems not limited to difficulty purchasing vehicles, getting jobs, opening checking accounts, and purchasing or renting a home. For those who are experiencing credit problems hope seems like a long lost commodity when it comes to the very American dream of owning a home of one's own. The good news is that there are some savvy investors around that are willing to take the risk on those who have had credit problems but are attempting to get their lives back in order. The bad news is that this good will often comes at a rather high price to the consumers. Getting into trouble with credit takes a while from which to recover. For many the process is long and filled with pitfalls and missteps along the way. For those that are living the nightmare of poor credit there are times in which the situation must seem hopeless. For this reason investors that offer lease to own real estate to those with less than spectacular credit are often viewed as saviors on the one hand and villains on the other. However, they are taking a risk that others are unwilling to take on a person that has proven not to be the best credit risk in the business. In other words, many would find that they are justified by charging a higher price or interest rate than traditional lending institutions will charge. After all, it is their money that is on the line if the lessee decides to default on the contract. It is also their money that will be required to make any repairs that will be needed if eviction becomes a necessary conclusion. For investors who are interested in 'buy and hold' investing this is one way of making that system work in their favor. Many times the 'buyers' will find another property after a couple of years and will have essentially rented the property for a specified amount of time. At other times they will seek alternative financing once they have been able to straighten out their credit situations. Either way there are many occasions when the property is returned to the investor and has turned a relatively decent profit while holding those who took some degree of 'pride of ownership' in the property during that time rather than ordinary renters who often have little or no regard for the condition of the landlord's property. There is more than one way that a lease to own deal can work. The most common however, is that there is a specified amount of time typically 2-5 years in which those that are leasing the property can live in the property with a portion of the monthly lease being applied towards a down payment for the property once they are able to get traditional financing. If a twenty percent down payment is achieved during that time the odds of them being approved for a loan are greatly improved. If they (being the lessees) combine this opportunity with serious efforts to improve their credit scores then there should be no problem achieving this. As a real estate investor this situation is so much more attractive than renters for many reasons. First of all, the maintenance in these cases becomes the problem of the lessees rather than your problem, you have 'renters' that are hoping to have ownership of the property in time, and you can charge a little more each month for rent in order to cover the money being applied to the down payment on the property.
Is an Inspection Really Necessary? One question that seems to be commonly asked among those who are interested in real estate investment, particularly in flipping properties, is whether or not a real estate inspection is really necessary. The long and short answer to that question is absolutely and I will do my best to explain exactly why this is so. First of all, a real estate inspection is the act of having a qualified (and in many states, licensed) professional take a look around the property you are considering and informing you of obvious and potential damage or problems with the property. This is not something you want your uncle Bob doing, unless of course, good old uncle Bob has had the training and experience to know what to look for in an inspection and know what those things could mean. Many who are planning to flip properties enter into the situation (particularly first time flippers) with the attitude that they know there are problems with the property and that is why they are purchasing the property. The problem is that the untrained eyes may miss some problems that should be addressed before moving along to other problems. For instance, if there were obvious signs of plumbing problems that could result in a leak behind the wall, you wouldn't want to paint that wall or replace the floors until you had the possible leak checked and either confirmed or denied and repaired if necessary. Otherwise you would likely need to undo the work (wasting both time and money) that had already been done by the time you found out about the leak that a competent inspector would have told you about before you even began working on the property. Inspections are great before placing the bid on a house because they actually give investors a bargaining chip. For the true (at heart) investor this is a fact that simply cannot be ignored as it directly affects the bottom line price. If the roof needs to be replace you are justified in offering a lower amount. If the electrical system needs to be updated, this is something that should be adjusted or amended in the final offer. These are also things that are easily identified by a qualified and competent property inspector. Any thing that can save time and money is great when investing in property and an inspection can do both. Another great thing about a good property inspection is that it often sheds light on the amount of money that will be needed in order to get the house in good working (or flappable order). Knowledge is very important in this line of work and can mean the difference between taking on a project (if the repair budget won't exceed the eventual value of the property) or walking away if the expenses would be too great to turn a decent profit. As an investor you should never take on a property that is pretty much guaranteed to be a failure, it is simply not a wise financial move to make. It doesn't matter how much the property calls to you on a personal level in the business of investing the bottom line is the only call you should be taking. More importantly however than any of the things mentioned above, a proper home inspection can inform you of potentially hazardous conditions within the home that the untrained eyes may not take notice of. Some of these things include toxic mold, which can be financially disastrous as well as hazardous to your health; foundation issues, and structural damage that is threatening the integrity of the property. An inspector should also notice the structural integrity of homes that could affect your home if they are weakened or fail all together. While these things seem so simple, it is often the simple things that lead to the greatest disasters. Whether or not you realize it, a good home inspector is one of the best tools you can have in your arsenal when it comes to flipping real estate as an investment venture. How to Find a Good Real Estate Investment Property There are many ways in which you can find a great property for your real estate investment. The problem lies in the fact that many would be investors aren't exactly certain what specific types of investment they wish to make. Unfortunately, the type of investing will greatly affect the type of property that will best suit your real estate needs. This article focuses on finding a great property for the purpose of flipping or rehabbing a property. Seek Bargains This is absolutely a necessary step when it comes to finding properties with excellent potential as flipped properties. Bargains are often sold at bargain prices for a reason. The good news is that many of these reasons are purely cosmetic and quite simple to fix. Finding a realtor that is willing to work with you for lower prices, bargain properties offer an excellent place to begin. If he or she is a knowledgeable professional you should have access to properties that would have been unavailable to you had you continued the search without the assistance of a professional. Another great place to find bargains of this nature is to search through foreclosures, auctions, and homes that are preparing to enter into foreclosure. While not always the case, there are many in these situations that are willing to be a bit more flexible with the price. Never offer full asking price first. Start low and negotiate up. This may lose some properties but in the end it will be a much more profitable venture if you can get the properties you want for a smaller investment. Know the Neighborhood Before placing a bid on a potential property for flipping you need to learn as much about the neighborhood as possible. You do not want to place a family home in the middle of a retirement neighborhood, nor do you want to place a potential bachelor pad in that type of area. You also want to avoid areas that are entering a state of decline, as the rehab efforts are unlikely to achieve the profits you are hoping to receive. Instead, look for bargains in areas that are approaching some sort of renewal or have very low crime and excellent growth potential. If you are rehabbing a home that is meant to appeal to families make sure the neighborhood is safe, has a relatively low crime rate, access to good schools, and entertainment opportunities that may appeal to families. These things will affect the price you are likely to be able to expect once the rehab efforts have been completed as well as the type of renovations you will need to perform on the property. Buying a property in an area that you know nothing about is like buying a property without an inspection-which brings me to my next point. Get a Thorough Inspection This is one of the most important steps in the process of selecting the perfect property for your real estate investment needs. A qualified inspection will prepare you for any problems that may arise during the course of your work on the home. These are things that will affect the amount of money you should offer on the home, the amount of money you will need to invest in repairs, and the amount of money you can expect once all is said and done. Failing to have a complete and proper inspection can lead to disaster when the renovations begin costing extra money and time as efforts are undone in order to get to the root of the problems as you go. There are very few things that can save you the time or money that having a decent inspection can manage to save. Inspections can also make you aware of any structural problems, code problems, and other problems that may mean the difference between this property offering a possible profit or a probable loss. It is much better to be armed with this knowledge before ever making an offer on the property in question. Realize That You do not Need to Buy the First Property You See This is an important thing to remember. If the first property doesn't speak to you, move on until you find one that does. This process is part science and part inspiration. If you are uninspired by a property it is unlikely that this property will suddenly take on a life of its own in order to suit your real estate investment needs. Keep searching until you find the property that meets all of your needs in order to find the perfect property for your first or your fiftieth flip. Finding the Right Realtor for Your Real Estate Needs Whether you are looking for a home of your very own or are interested in creating a long term working relationship with a realtor for the purposes of property investment it is very important that you find a realtor who will listen to your needs and wishes and act accordingly. The right realtor for your needs can mean all the difference in the world between a successful and profitable transaction now as well as many more in the future (if you plan on investing in multiple properties). Below are some important things to notice when selecting a realtor that will meet your needs. 1) Does the realtor you are considering listen to your needs? This is important as it will save you both a lot of time and money in the process of finding the perfect home for your family or for an investment property. If the realtor is constantly presenting properties that do not meet your budget or price requirements it might be a good idea to either lay down the law or find a realtor that is willing to expect your wishes and needs. 2) Does he or she ask questions and provide appropriate feedback? This indicates a direct interest in your needs, which is important-particularly when planning for a long-term investment relationship though some find it even more important when purchasing a home for their family home as this is a personal matter rather than a business matter. We all have a tendency to be more selective when placing the welfare of our family in the hands of another. 3) Do you feel comfortable dealing with the realtor you are considering? As I mentioned above we tend to be a little choosier when selecting professionals to help our families. Why on earth would be any less so when it comes to the realtor that will help our families find a home? Rapport is a good word to describe the sort of relationship you need to develop with your realtor. Do you have a good rapport with a potential realtor? If not, then move along. There are many realtors in most cities and there is absolutely no reason that you should deal with a realtor that doesn't make you feel comfortable and secure. 4) How well does the realtor in question know the area in which you are seeking a home? There are many things that make a home a 'good buy' for residential and investment purposes. You want a realtor that has his or her finger on the pulse of the city and the various areas of interest, growth, and decline within the city. School districts matter more now than at any other time in our history in most cases, he or she should know about the schools, new business developments, and the value of property in the area (as well as the tendencies of property values to rise or fall over the last several years). 5) Does the realtor in question have specific experience dealing with your specific real estate needs? Whether you are planning a residential transaction or if you are seeking investment property you will need a dedicated and experienced professional that can help you meet your goals. Realtors are a dime for a dozen in most cities and competition is fierce. There is no reason whatsoever that anyone should suffer with an agent that you do not feel is working for you or have your best interests at heart. If you invest a little bit of time and energy shopping around for the right realtor to meet your needs, you will find that your real estate transactions will take much less time and effort for this small sacrifice. It is much better to make the decision based on a few careful interviews in the beginning than after looking at fifty or more homes that do not meet your needs or price range. Then you have wasted a great deal of time and effort and you must still either risk wasting more time and effort or take the time to select another realtor for your real estate needs. I also highly recommend selecting a real estate agent with a significant online presence. This means that he or she is making use of the available technology in order to offer more options to you as the consumer. Buying a house can be a mind-boggling process for the average person. Having a good realtor can make the process work so much more smoothly. Does Staging Sell Real Estate? There is something to be said about a neat and tidy house when you are sorting through house after house looking for the perfect home for you and your family. This is something that should be kept in mind when selling either a personal home or an investment property. There are a few other things you should keep in mind when it comes to selling real estate. One of those things is that staging sells homes. Seriously, there is something cold about an empty house. It could be painted impeccably and meet every possible standard a family has and yet feel cold and anything but homey when walking through the home for a real estate tour or inspection. This can be easily overcome by contacting a local furniture rental store and picking out furniture that will match at least the primary rooms of the home in order to make the home appear leaved in and homelike. The primary rooms that you will want to appear 'lived in' are the living room, dining room, master bedroom, and all bathrooms. These are the rooms that essentially sell homes and it is important to make them appear neat, orderly, and well cared for. If you have the funds for every room in the home then by all means do so. It is a huge selling point, particularly for those who are trying to sell homes quickly. If the home doesn't sell after the first two weeks or month (you decide the time limit) then you may want to remove the 'staging' furniture in order to eliminate the expense. I would strongly encourage you to keep this furniture as long as the home is being shown fairly regularly though. You will want to do so much more than simply putting furniture in the property you are trying to sell. You want to create an atmosphere or warmth and comfort. This means you want to have prints on the walls, mirrors, plants, and pillows. You do not have to purchase items particularly for this process. You can use things from your own home in order to establish this atmosphere of homelike comfort. Be sure not to use sentimental favorites or very valuable pieces, as not all people who will view the property being sold are honest. It's a sad reality but something to consider all the same. Other things that may help an empty home sell are scents. There is nothing quite like the smell of cookies in the oven or flowers in bloom to make a home feel 'homey'. These scents can be easily accomplished with well placed scented candles, potpourri warmers, dry potpourri, fresh-cut flowers, and electric room air fresheners. There are few things that will turn off potential buyers more quickly than an overpowering fragrance however so keep this in mind when selecting the method of fragrance. Having some fragrance in the home also eliminates the problem of an empty house taking on the 'empty house' scent that so many do over time. In other words, this is yet another part of the staging process that works for many trying to sell homes. The short answer to the question of whether or not staging sells real estate is "yes". Staging a home can absolutely lead to a higher offer and a quicker sell, even in today's sluggish market. Curb Appeal Matters When Selling Real Estate First impressions matter most. This is one concept that many homeowners trying to sell their homes and first time property investors trying to sell or rent property fail to understand. Curb appeal is the first impression when it comes to a house. This is the place that you as an investor or seller want those driving buy to think of as home. For this reason you should pay careful attention and spend some degree of time and effort making the outside of the home inviting and appealing to potential buyers or renters. One of the first things that people will notice is crumbling paint and bland or tired and faded colors on the exterior. Vinyl siding is often inviting because it is easily cleaned and reinvigorated. It also happens to be fairly low maintenance, which often appeals to buyers and renters alike. There are those however who will argue that siding detracts from the potential personality of a home. To each his or her own in this as it is a personal decision on behalf of the buyer and the seller. Regardless a clean and crisp paint job or siding makes a much better impression than an apparent state of disrepair. Remember those first impressions are important. If the outside of the home is rather unimpressive potential buyers are quite likely to discover the diamond that is the inside of your home. Another thing you can do to add curb appeal is to plant low maintenance flowers and plants around the exterior of your home. You do not want to invest in plants that require constant care nor do you want to seriously invest in plants that are going to grow out of control and look unwieldy. At least you do not want to plant these around the exterior of your home that is facing the road. Bushes and climbing vines do well in many cases along fences that surround the property however or as a dividing privacy line between your property and neighboring properties. If you live in an area that isn't conducive to green grass you may want to consider some sort of hybrid that can thrive with less water or choose some form of landscaping that doesn't rely on large open patches of grass in order to be beautiful such as xeriscaping then that is quite probably a wise idea. The point is to make the house as attractive on the outside as you hope those viewing the property will find the inside. Another thing to keep in mind when making the upgrades is to clean the sidewalks and driveway if it is concrete. It is amazing what a high power pressure washer can do to your sidewalks, driveway, and/or front porch. Don't stop there however; take the time to make sure your doors and windows are clean as well. These little things often make the biggest impression. If you care properly for the exterior of your home and keep it nice and shiny chances are (in the buyer's mind) that you will have taken the same care of the inside of the home that they are quite possibly now considering. Taking the extra time to insure that the outside of your home is attractive to buyers can translate into higher and quicker offers than neglecting the essential real estate between the front door and the curb. Do not overlook this powerful piece of advice and you should enjoy a little more success in your efforts to sell your home or investment property. Common Risks Involved in Real Estate Investments While a good many millionaires will agree that their fortunes were made in real estate, the honest ones will also tell you that they've probably lost a few fortunes in real estate along the way. This is a risky business and every property purchased doesn't always pan out to become a successful investment. There are many risks involved in real estate investing and you would be going to battle unprepared if you didn't take a moment to carefully study these risks and work to avoid them when planning your property investment strategy. Unfortunately, there are very few one size fits all risks for real estate investing, as each type of investing is inherently different. This means that each type of real estate investment will involve a new set of risks. Below you will find a brief overview of different styles of investing and the common risks that are involved in each. Rental Properties This type of investing offers some risks that are unique and some that are also risks when investing in properties that are lease-to-own or rent-to-own as well. First and foremost is the risk of failing to make a profit. If the property in question cannot achieve an adequate monthly income to cover the expenses of operating the property then it is not a solid investment. Other risks include the risk of getting bad tenants. This is particularly hard on first time investors. Bad tenants are costly and in some cases destructive (which leads to even greater expense). Vacancies are another risk for rental properties. These properties are only costing money as they sit empty rather than earning money as they were intended. Short turnovers are in your best interest as are long-term tenants. "Flipped" Properties This is one of the most enjoyable types of property investments for many 'hands on' investors. This allows the investor to roll up his or her sleeves and take an active role in creating the masterpiece that will eventually bring in serious revenue (at least that is the hope). This is also one of the riskier investments, particularly when trying to turn a profit in what is known as a buyer's market. The risks are simple but often overlooked and they can have a significant impact on the overall success or failure of the project. First of all, the biggest risk is in paying too much for the property. Other risks include underestimating the costs of repairs, over estimating the ability of the investor to do the work him or herself, taking too much time, experiencing a down turn in the housing market, making the wrong judgment call for the neighborhood, becoming overly ambitious, and getting greedy. Sometimes it is much better to walk away with a lesser profit than to end up loosing money by holding out. Personal Residence Keep in mind that your personal home is essentially an investment. The intention is that your home will gain in value over time and that equity in your home will build as you age. There are risks involved in this transaction as well. Buying a home that is in a 'borderline' area or one that is not showing obvious signs of growth is one of the biggest risks. This puts your home in the position to lose rather than gain value. This can make your home a burden rather than the investment it was intended to be. Other risks involve is becoming involved in a loan situation that is not at all beneficial (such as an adjustable rate mortgage or an unreasonable balloon payment). Perhaps the biggest risk of all when purchasing a personal residence as an investment is failing to get a proper inspection that could rule out potentially costly and even dangerous problems within the home your purchase for you and your family. Toxic mold is one problem that comes easily to mind that most proper home inspections would almost immediately rule out. Others include structural problems that are costly to repair and dangerous to leave in disrepair. Each of these risks should be considered before an offer is made on any property. For those seeking to turn impressive profits in short order, real estate is one way in which this can be accomplished. It is in your best interest however to be aware of the risks that are involved and take careful steps to minimize those risks. Taking these steps now may cost a little more on the front end but in many cases the pay off for doing so well outweigh the expenses. Common Risks Faced by Property "Flippers" The first thing that should be noted is that flipping houses is a great way to bring home a rather large profit in a relatively short amount of time when doing so in a seller's market so to speak. The problem is that we currently seem to be experiencing what is known as a buyer's market from one end of the United States to another. Foreclosures are at an all time high, which means that the market has suddenly been saturated with properties for sale. While this is excellent news (believe it or not) when it comes to getting your hands on a property at a lower price, it also makes a difficult time of convincing buyers to pay top dollar when there are better bargains down the road. This of course is one of the primary risks involved in the real estate investment venture that is known as flipping properties. The massive profits that most investors seek cannot be accomplished if the property cannot be purchased, rehabbed, and sold quickly. Unfortunately, at the moment, very few properties in any city are selling too terribly quickly. The worst case scenario in a situation like this is that you are forced to either absorb the loss (which can in extreme cases result in serious financial hardship or bankruptcy) or rent the property out (which will in most cases negate all the efforts that were made to rehab the property. An inability to sell the property that is being flipped is probably the worst fear of every property investor who engages in this sort of investment. In these cases it is often better to drop the price and take a loss than hold out for a better price risking further losses in the future. These are not the only risks associated with flipping properties unfortunately. Another risk would be the risk of seriously underestimating the amount of money that will be required in order to do the necessary work. This is something that many first time investors find is a fairly common occurrence. Most people have unrealistic expectations of exactly how far their dollars will go when it comes to investing in the materials and labor needed to properly rehab a property. Even minor cosmetic repairs throughout a house can easily run into several thousands of dollars in order to repair. The flip side is that once these repairs are made the potential profits run into several tens of thousands of dollars. Another risk that isn't often considered is the risk of overestimating abilities. This is one risk that costs not only precious time but valuable money as well. Not only is material wasted in the process of discovering you aren't exactly skilled in any particular tasks but also there are further expenses (often unplanned) involved in hiring the professional to repair the damage and replace the material that was wasted. When in doubt, it is almost always best to hire a professional if at all possible. This also leads to missing deadlines, going seriously off schedule, and adding yet another mortgage payment (if not more than one) to the overall price of the project. The final risk is often something that simply cannot be seen or anticipated. This was experienced in the days immediately following 9-11 and should not be forgotten. The unforeseen happens every day. Markets crash; local economies can be devastated by the announcement of a major employer that it is going out of business (thinks of the collapse of companies such as Enron and World Comm and what they did to local economies). In these instances, the market will take quite a while to recover from the shock to its system and 'flippers' among other investors are often left feeling just as lost and devastated as those that were victimized by these companies-both through no fault of their own. Stuff happens and those things that we have absolutely no control over are almost always the things that affect us most profoundly. The same holds true when it comes to property investment. The state of the economy, the housing market in an area, and sudden announcements that affect either can often have the most profound impact on those who are investing in property in those areas whether for better or for worse. The trick is in deciding which risks are acceptable. Buying Real Estate Foreclosures When looking for a home for you and your family you will come across all kinds of deals, bargains, and so-called values along the way. If price is a very tangible object for you and your real estate investment then you might seriously want to consider the value of foreclosures. If you are hoping to invest in real estate in order to turn a profit then you may also wish to consider these properties that are often sold well below the ordinary value of the property because they are in varying degrees of disrepair. Foreclosures are properties that have been taken back by the lenders because the previous owners were unable to continue making payments on the property. Being that these homes were often owned by those in financial distress and may have been empty for some time before being sold, chances are that the foreclosure homes being sold at any given time are in some degree of disrepair. The shabbiness of many of these properties is one of the factors that keeps the prices down. Another is the fact that the lenders are essentially attempting to recoup their investment in the property. For this reason they are often willing to take less than the value of the property if that is what is owed on the property. Why are these properties often in a state of disrepair? Truthfully, there are many reasons but the primary culprit in this situation is money. Obviously the owners of the home were struggling to make the payments or the home would not be in the state of foreclosure. If the notes on the property were difficult to begin with it makes perfect sense that other issues such as leaking roofs, shabby carpeting, or plumbing maintenance would take a distant second in priority to making the house payment. At the same time, there are those who are bitter about loosing their homes. As sad as the situation may be some add insult to injury by damaging these properties intentionally. These homeowners feel they have nothing left to loose and if they cannot have their property hole then the lenders should not as well. While this is by no means the way to go there are very many who choose this path over other options. The fact is that their loss in these situations is actually your gain. The damage they do to the property is often not terribly expensive to repair though it can be quite bothersome. Your willingness to do the work in order to create a beautiful home for you and your family or as an investment can often translate to big savings at the closing table or when negotiating the price of the property. Foreclosures can allow families to buy larger homes in better neighborhoods than they would ordinarily be able to afford. They can also provide a fabulous kick-start to a property investment portfolio. Despite common claims and Internet advertisements, you do not need to buy a list in order to find foreclosed real estate in your area. You simply need to procure the services of a competent realtor and let him or her know that your intentions are to purchase a foreclosed property or some other property that is selling well below market value. You might be amazed at the wealth of information and assistance your realtor can provide not only in finding excellent foreclosures but also when it comes to procuring financing for some of the more creatively damaged foreclosures you may run across at insane bargain prices. Buying Real Estate for Your Family The very best and most enjoyable reason to purchase real estate by far is in buying a property in which your family will live and grow together. There is a lot of fun involved in finding the perfect place for you and your family to call home. There is also a great deal of stress involved as well and that should not be overlooked. Some things to keep in mind when searching for the perfect property for your family are the following: 1) Make your first step the step of finding a realtor or buyer's agent that you are confident has your needs, desires, and best interests at heart. Your realtor can prove to be a lifesaver when you've reached the final hours before closing and the sky looks as though it's going to fall. Far more than that though, your realtor can help you find the home that you simply cannot see your family living without. 2) Once you've found a real estate that you trust to help you find a home for your family it is time to identify the things that are absolute necessities in your search and those things you can live without. The most important thing to decide upon is a budget that you are comfortable living with. 3) Once you've established a budget you need to decide the features that are important to meet the needs of your family. The number of bedrooms, bathrooms, square footage, and yard space. Do you need a fenced in yard or a basement? These things are important as they do affect the comfort and in some cases safety of your family. 4) Another important thing that must be considered when purchasing a home for your family is the neighborhood. This is more important than many people may realize. It is well worth having a smaller home in a neighborhood that is poised for growth rather than a larger home in a neighborhood that is in the state of decline or on the verge of the state of decline. Crime rates in the neighborhood and the school district are other things that need to be considered as well before deciding to view a potential home. 5) You should also take the time to look at several properties before deciding on one property over another. The more properties you see, the better the chances are that you will actually find the one perfect property for the needs of your family home. The more homes you see the more you will learn about your likes and dislikes. You will also get ideas about possibilities and things that can be added on to the home you eventually select. Regardless, the more homes you see, the more choices you have when the time comes to make a decision. 6) Never offer the asking price right away. Even if you are willing to pay the full asking price, offer something a little lower and allow some negotiating room. Be sure, if you truly want the house in question not to be insulting with your offer but make the offer just the same. Some things you may want to consider when you make your offer is how quickly you are likely to need a new roof, new flooring, new heating or air conditioning, and countless other improvements that may need to be made on the property. Each of these things costs money and they add up over time. If everything is fairly recent and in good working order you may want to consider that when making your offer as well. You will find many houses along the way but few will reach out and impress themselves upon you as home. Those are the ones you should consider long and hard. Weigh the options, the prices, and your likes and dislikes. If you do all of this you should be well on your way to the home of your dreams. Benefits of Flipping Real Estate The obvious benefit and sought after benefit of flipping real estate is the profit. This is one incredibly tangible benefit, particularly when the profits are large and quick to come your way. Of course there are risks. Most ventures that offer high profit also come with a high degree of risk. Money, however, is not the only benefit that can be associated with flipping real estate though it is certainly the one on most investors' minds when they get into this line of work. Let's talk profit first. Profit is the one reason that most people get into this business. The days are long and the work is hard. This is definitely not the type of work one would ordinarily undertake for the simple love of getting one's hands dirty. This is real work that leaves you bone weary at the end of the day. However, when all the work is done and you get around to making the sell, you will find that the profit involved in a successful flip is well worth the effort you've put into the process. The good news is that the savvy investor can still manage to make money even when the situation may not work out quite as planned. This is yet another benefit to flipping real estate. If the flip doesn't work out, there is always the option of leasing to own the property or renting the property out. The profits in these situations are considerable less than a straight out flip but it can prevent financial ruin that is often the risk of a flip gone wrong. The fact that there are options and that you aren't necessarily left ruined at the end of a bad flip is definitely a benefit. There aren't many types of investments that allow you the option to save yourself the way real estate does. One of the intangible benefits of flipping houses is that you are in essence working for yourself. In other words you do not have to punch a time clock or worry about overtime (at least not on your part). This can be a bad thing too if you lack the discipline required to get the job done. However, most of us will view this is a huge check in the pros column when deciding whether or not to take the plunge into the wonderful and frightening world of real estate investing. Even though this is a business that requires a lot of work in order to turn an attractive profit there is some satisfaction at the end of the day involved in knowing that you are working for yourself and not to make someone else wealthy or in order to punch a time clock. That feeling of satisfaction is one that you should hang onto when the brand new toilet you've just installed becomes a geyser. Of course there are mistakes along the way, what other job keeps you on your toes quite like this one? Real estate investing, house flipping in particular, can be one of the most frustrating types of investments a soul can pursue. At the same time it can also be one of the most rewarding mentally, spiritually, and financially. This is something you should keep in mind when deciding whether or not this is the right path for you. Are You Committed to Your Real Estate Investment? There are many questions that should be asked before embarking upon a career of real estate investment. The first and foremost question however should be whether or not you are truly committed to making real estate work for you. This is not a business for the faint of heart. In order to truly turn a profit you must be at times ruthless when dealing with buyers and sellers but ethical to a fault when it comes to the work that must often be done in order to get a property in sellable condition. The reason a serious commitment is needed in order to make real estate work for you is simple. There will be ups and downs along the way. The stock market experiences rises and falls on a regular basis. Just as you cannot dump all of your stock over one bad day the same holds true even more so in the realm of real estate investing. Property values in general rise gradually over time. This means that even if the values in a community falter chances are that they will eventually recover. Those who bank on the slow and steady growth in the value are referred to as buy and hold investors. These investors are truly committed to their investment. Some of them elect to hold the property as a vacation property while others opt to earn an income on the property by renting it out to other families or vacationers, whatever their choice may be. This is a great way for many people to enjoy the luxury of a vacation property without absorbing all of the expenses involved in owning a vacation property as the rentals will help compensate some of the costs when the owners (investors) are not in residence. This is a fairly common practice in high demand tourist areas in which people often enjoy vacationing. These types of investors are what some people refer to as serious real estate investors though all real estate investors need to take their purchases seriously. Those who own rental properties must also be committed to making their investments work for them. Rental properties are not a 'hands off' type of investment, as they will need to be maintained in order to remain in demand by tenants. You must also make constant efforts to keep these properties managed and filled along with remaining certain that you are collecting your rent each month and that the properties aren't falling into a state of disrepair or abuse by tenants. Many investors retain the services of property management agencies in order to handle the minutia of month-to-month details and collections. This is a great idea whether you have one lone rental property or a vast portfolio of rental properties. Even better however, is the fact that if you keep your rental properties in reasonable repair throughout the years they can become liquid assets in time. In other words, they may actually pay for themselves a few times over if you invest for the long-term rather than focusing on the moment. No matter what type of real estate investment you intend to have it is important that you are prepared to make the commitment to profit or profitability that is necessary in order for your venture to be deemed a success. What is Pre-Construction Real Estate Investing? The idea of pre-construction investments when it comes to real estate is actually quite a clever way in which many have made millions. The theory is simple really. Invest in a property before when it is in the planning stage. Those who will be building these buildings need money and investors in order to do get the building off the ground. By investing (in many cases basically purchasing options to purchase) in the units, typically condo units in high demand areas, before the ground is broken investors often have the option of investing for pennies on the expected dollar once the building is complete and can re-sell the property at full market value once the building is complete pocketing the difference in the original investment and the asking price. This is a win-win situation for many builders or 'owners' of the property in questions because 'pre-selling' the units allows lending agents to have confidence in the viability of the project as a money earner by selling many of the units sight unseen. The benefit to investors is that they are able to purchase at a much lower price pre-construction than afterwards and can sell afterwards at the full market value (or above in some high demand and under saturated areas for real estate). This style of investing is not nearly as glamorous to some as flipping houses. There are no beast to beauty renovations. There are, however, some things that should be kept in mind while making this type of transaction. First of all, no real estate venture is ever guaranteed to turn a profit no matter what the glossy little brochures tell you. With the current trends in property sales, this is typically not the best environment for pre-construction investing though these things tend to change on a regular basis and that market could be looking up again in the very near future. Second, networking is more often than not the best way to break into this particular business. There are all kinds of fly by night would be real estate investors. The ones that manage to last are those that network with other real estate agents as well as those who have specific interests and experience with pre-construction investments. Join local groups in addition to online groups that deal specifically with this sort of investment in order to get more information more quickly. The costs involved might appear daunting at first but they are far less than the costs of getting in over your head by not having a grasp of even the most basic 'ins' and 'outs' of pre-construction real estate investing. Third, develop a close-knit relationship with a realtor that specializes in this particular type of real estate investing. This could prove to be the most beneficial thing you will ever do in order to insure future success. Be developing the right relationship with the right realtor you can get information on new properties before they make it to the public sector. This puts you in the rare and wonderful position of beating the competition to the punch. This gives you a much better shot at receiving the rock bottom prices that are often missed by waiting too long to make the purchase. Fourth, be prepared to hold onto the property for a little while if you need to do so. The problem with pre-construction investing is that there are no guarantees that when the time comes you will have been able to 'seal the deal'. Things come up even when you have a buyer that is willing and eager to make the purchase. In other words, there are times when you will need to hold onto the property for a short while and sometimes as a long-term investment. Some options in the case of long-term holds would include renting the property out to vacationers if it is in a high demand tourist area. You can use your realtor to help with that. This allows the property to be earning some income until the sale can be made. Others decided to hold onto the property as a personal vacation home for themselves, friends, and family. In the end, the important thing is that there is a "Plan B" for the property should the deal fall through and you are left paying the monthly note. Pre-construction real estate investing may not have the 'name in lights' appeal that other types of investing carry but it does provide a viable investment style that has the potential to bring in significant profits. The name of the game when it comes to investing is profits so keep this in mind when considering your investment options. This is one of the forms of investing that requires (in most cases) the least amount of capital up front. Has Television Changed the Face of Real Estate Investing? If you take a look through the television stations on almost any given day there is a television show somewhere that features home improvement, real estate investing, or some sort of combination of the two. From shows that teach people how to sell homes that have lack luster reviews to shows that teach viewers that it is possible to purchase, repair, and re-sell a home in a matter of weeks for astronomical profits, there are shows that appeal to the entrepreneurial wannabes in audiences around the globe. These shows have made and lost fortunes a few times over by convincing viewers that they too can do the wondrous things seen on television. The truth is that many viewers are capable of doing these things but television never really shows how hard the work actually may be. The television cameras do not always show the blood, sweat, and tears that go into making these projects successful and rarely mention the countless complete and total failures that occur along the way. The cameras are also not to keen for showing up at 4 am and rolling well after midnight when the work for the day is finished. It doesn't catch the heart attacks and nightmares as credit cards are going dangerously close to being completely maxxed out while dreams of quick riches fade right in front of investor's eyes. This does not mean that every project is doomed to failure only that things are not always as rosey as they may appear to be on the television shows. Flipping houses may seem to be a bit glamorous and a lot hands on. The problem with that is that too few people really realize how much work goes into the hands on part of the program. This is not easy money no matter how much the television cameras would like to convince you otherwise. It is very possible to turn a substantial profit in a relatively short amount of time if you keep your cool, use your head, and buy and sell in the right conditions. The problem is that so many people do not consider the big picture and find themselves in over their heads and out of money before the project is anywhere near completion. One thing that television has definitely done for this line of work is make competition for the flappable houses a little fiercer. The early bird in this business gets the worm and while the cheapest house isn't always the best candidate the less competition you have driving the prices up, the better in this situation. The goal is to buy low and sell high. Most people do not have a terrible amount of competition, as of yet, on the selling high portion of the program. The real trouble at this point in time lies in the buying low portion as there are many more would be real estate investors that are interested in buying the inexpensive properties than there are that will actually see the projects through from beginning to end. So yes, television has greatly changed the way people invest in real estate. Whether this is truly good or bad for the overall real estate market remains to be seen. In light of the recent down turns in real estate it is to be expected that some of the popularity may diminish. The sad thing is that this is still one of, if not the best ways to make a large sum of money fairly quickly that is legal in the world today. Fortunes can be made and lost in real estate; the trick is always in placing your bets on the right property at the right time. For those who are willing to take the risks associated with this type of investment in today's market and those that are willing to wait for a slight upturn in the market the profit potential is phenomenal.
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