House hunting can be a fun, yet frustrating experience. While it’s exciting to look for a home of your own, you also have to recognize that sellers are trying to put their homes in the best possible light. By recognizing common phrases, you’ll be better equipped to know which homes should be avoided altogether.
“Pride of Ownership Shows”
At first glance, this phrase implies that the owners have taken good care of the property. However, in most cases, it also means little, if anything, has been updated. You can look forward to decades-old tiling, antique appliances, and more than a few rooms that need a remodel.
“In One of the Hottest Neighborhoods”
If you see a descriptive phrase that uses words like “hot” or “up and coming,” be aware that you’re expectations may fall short of the reality. Often, sellers will use these terms to describe neighborhoods that are expected to take a good turn and attract developers. Typically, these neighborhoods will lack nearby amenities and may only show the promise of improvement.
Even if you are an investor, you might want to stay away from properties with this as a headline. It indicates a property in distress most of the time and suggests you will need to make several updates just to make the property welcoming. If you’re looking for a home, this may not be the best choice for you.
“Offered as Is”
This is another one that would be best avoided. Often, “as is” suggests the owner knows there’s a great deal wrong with the property and he’s hoping to pass his problems onto an ambitious buyer. By the time the needed repairs are complete, you may have spent more money than the home is actually worth.
Think condo, but smaller. If you’re on the market for a single-family home, you’re probably looking for something roomy and something with potential for expansion. You’ll find neither in homes that are marketed with this phrase. These are typically very small homes that won’t suit your needs.
This is a deceptive phrase indicating you’ll probably spending a few weeks just getting the yard presentable. The current owner probably hasn’t put much effort into maintaining the “curb appeal” of the home. Of course, if you love the rest of the home and want to spend the money, you can always hire professional landscapers to do the dirty work for you.
These are some common phrases used in real estate marketing. While you should be wary of them, not every one of them is the kiss of death. Be aware that you may be getting more than you expect, but also keep an open mind. You may end up getting that diamond in the ruff.
Real estate investing offers a great way to grow your savings and build wealth. While many people want to get involved in this possibly lucrative venture, the responsibilities that go along with owning property may be keeping them from acting on their interests. However, there are many options for investing in real estate that don’t include becoming a landlord.
Buy Real Estate ETFs
As mentioned in a previous post, an ETF is an exchange-traded fund that’s comparable to mutual funds in that they consist of stocks relating to a particular theme. However, unlike mutual funds, an ETF is traded publicly on the exchange. Vanguard’s VNQ is one such real estate themed ETF. This fund invests in REITs, or real estate investment trusts, which focus on stocks concerning commercial real estate, such as office buildings, hotels, and similar buildings.
Real Estate Mutual Funds
A more traditional route may be to invest in real estate mutual funds, which provide the possibility of growth without the high risk. DFREX is a favorite in this category, partly because it offers lower fees than other funds. Additionally, DFREX consistently performs well. The fund shows great promise for future gains, because it’s supported by decades of professionally driven research. Nobel Prize winners help to develop the fund’s strategy.
Invest Directly in REITs
This is another option for investing in real estate without taking actual ownership of any property. REITs are like funds in that they stick to a general theme, such as commercial real estate, so you can opt for whichever category appeals to you the most. If you choose to explore this option, do so with caution. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) recently issued warnings against REITs that aren’t publicly traded. The agency highlighted a lack of liquidity, lack of value transparency, and high fees as factors that create unnecessarily high risk.
Invest with Commercial Real Estate Developers
These can be hotel corporations, resort or timeshare operators, or commercial contractors. By buying stock in these types of organizations, you can benefit from their growth without having the responsibility of buying property yourself. You will have to thoroughly research each company to ensure you’re making a sound investment, but, otherwise, this can be a promising alternative.
These are just a few ways you can invest in real estate without getting your hands dirty. Most people live lives that are too busy to add maintaining a rental property to their schedule, so these options let you reap the benefits of real estate investing more freely. As your money grows, you may find more opportunities for investing in real estate centric funds, stocks, and companies.
There are two ways investors make money in real estate: renting and selling for profit. Of course, the savvy investor can use both methods, even on the same property. Here we will go over some details of each method.
It should be emphasized that whether renting out a property or selling for raw profit, the importance of location can’t be overemphasized. The fact is that nearly any model of residential or commercial building can be replicated in many locations. However, the local amenities, culture, atmosphere, weather, or historical value cannot be duplicated. It is such factors that give rise to widely different prices and rents for otherwise identical structures.
Cash Flow: Rent
When renting, the first priority is attracting and retaining tenants. Generally, home-like rental properties or long-term commercial leases are a better option than short-term rentals that, admittedly, fetch a comparatively higher monthly rental. This is because vacancies take their toll and are bad for cash flow. Make sure to specify clear lines of responsibilities for tenants and the property owner. Maintenance, repairs, utilities and tax responsibilities accrue as costs to the property owner, so make sure that rental cash flow at least matches maintenance and other necessary expenditures.
Fix and Flip
Buying low and selling high is the holy script of investing. When buying real estate, beware that the purchase price essentially traps liquidity upon sale completion and for as long as it takes to renovate and resell the house. Also consider the opportunity cost of other income-producing activities, including renting, that the property owner could be doing. Such opportunity costs can add up, but if the buyer were to completely outsource the “fix” to others, the added cost would reduce or even eliminate the profit margin upon resale.
Note that both methods of making money from real estate entail unexpected costs along the way. Vacancies, irresponsible and toxic tenants, as well as competing units can take the steam out of anticipated cash flow from rental properties. Costly repairs, illiquid funds, and all-in marketing and resale costs can deflate profit margin from fix-and-flip properties. Consider the time and expertise required for each investment method and pick whatever works best. Real estate can be lucrative, but is not risk-free.
If working with a real estate appraiser feels like a frustrating and complicated matter, you’re not alone. There’s a reason it feels as though your appraiser is keeping something from you and that’s because he or she is keeping secrets. Here are a few things you probably didn’t know about your appraiser.
- Appraisers are Under Pressure
When the housing bubble burst a few years ago and created the Great Recession, mortgage lenders weren’t the only ones that took the heat. Appraisers also came under fire and the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Protection Act of 2010 now requires the government to keep a closer eye on all real estate appraisers. This is why the process is so much more complex and takes more time.
- Appraisers are No Longer Local
Those same reforms have created a situation in which appraisers are often sent to regions with which they have no familiarity. Since they don’t know the markets that are local to the properties they’re appraising, their estimates may be either too low or too high. This can keep a homeowner from getting the true value for their home and, conversely, can prevent a buyer from affording a home that should be within their range.
- Who Does the Appraiser Really Work For?
In a normal home-buying scenario, the buyer pays the fee for the appraiser, which can fall anywhere within the $350 to $500 range. Even so, the appraiser doesn’t work for you and his reports go directly to the lender. This means that neither the buyer nor the seller will likely see the appraisal firsthand. According to federal law, you have to be given a copy of the appraisal, if you submit a written request for it. However, most people aren’t aware of the law, so they never see the appraisal for which they paid.
- Always Get a Second Opinion
It can be beneficial to get an appraisal of your own in advance, so you’ll have something to compare to the official appraiser’s findings. This can be fairly simple by asking your real estate agent to deliver a broker’s price opinion. While your lender may not accept the broker’s opinion in place of the appraisal, it does provide that point of reference. A difference in estimates can end up saving you as much as $20,000 on a home purchase.
Appraisers won’t tell you everything about their jobs. This is partly because they have to react to pressure from banks and that affects every appraisal. By staying alert and seeking outside advice, you may be able to better ensure your appraisal is fair and on point with the area market.
The most obvious way to capitalize on the current booming housing market is to invest in traditional real estate opportunities. However, there is a myriad of other ways to grow your wealth through real estate by going through less risky back channels. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
EXPLORE NEW HOME CONSTRUCTION: Limited inventory of existing homes has led to an even bigger boom in the new home construction sector. Real estate experts expect this trend to continue for decades to come, making this industry sector a safe bet for your investment dollars.
PUT MONEY INTO REAL ESTATE FUNDS: As the stock market continues to see unprecedented growth, many financial experts are recommending investing in both real estate focused exchange-traded funds (ETF), as well as real estate specific mutual funds. By diversifying your accounts across a wide range of real estate markets, you will mitigate risk and have the opportunity to jump into emerging global housing markets.
LOOK ONLINE FOR OPPORTUNITIES: In today’s high tech market, digital is king. The real estate industry has not been left out of this trend and it seems like new online real estate companies are popping up every day. To capitalize on this emerging market, it would be wise to look into investing your real estate dollars into commercial and residential markets while receiving cash flow dividends in return.
INVEST IN A REAL ESTATE SPECIFIC COMPANY: Savvy investors often look to bypass the traditional real estate investments, instead choosing to place their funds into companies focused on real estate. Some examples of this type of company would be classic residential real estate companies, resorts, and timeshares.
REAL ESTATE INVESTMENT TRUSTS: These REIT’s are a popular way to put your money into this strong housing market without having to hold any physical property. This strategy is also an ideal way for novices to the field of real estate to get their feet wet and learn about the market without taking on the risk of buying property or having to learn how to be a property manager. Because REIT’s are required by law to provide a minimum of 90 percent of their taxable income to shareholder dividends, investors are guaranteed cash flow.
Mark Twain famously advised, “Buy land, they’re not making it anymore.” For most of modern history, this has been sage advice. Now, more than ever, following this advice can often lead to big investment returns.
The stock market has seen a nine-year run up. Many experts expect a correction. Cryptocurrency has been hot, but it’s speculative and risky. Bitcoin and its brethren are no place to park money you are counting on for the future. What if you want more safety but a decent, predictable return?
Real estate investing provides the perfect solution. It provides real returns without the risk of a chunk of your cash disappearing overnight. However, many potential investors fail to realize that you can get started in real estate with as little as a few hundred dollars.
As noted in an article on Penny Hoarder, real estate starter portfolios, such as the Fundrise Starter Portfolio, have investment minimums of just $500, at a time. Investors buy shares of a diverse real estate portfolio that encompasses rental properties, land investments, commercial real estate, and other large projects. Investors have access to a dashboard that shows the properties they are invested in and their performance. The Fundrise Starter Portfolio pays a quarterly dividend and enjoyed an 11.44 percent gain in 2017.
For small investors who want direct ownership, raw land offers big opportunities. The price is generally cheap, and so is the ongoing costs of ownership, as explained by Fortune Builders writer JD Esajian. Property taxes can be as little as $100 per year. You are free to develop the land or sell it at a profit. Many raw land deals can be funded with just a few thousand dollars or less. Buyers should always beware if the land comes with any covenants or restrictions and consider only buying land unencumbered by a homeowners’ association. For example, a neighborhood association could restrict certain types of development or require development by a certain date. They can also prevent you from selling your land or force you to sell it.
Those enjoy being hands-on do well with fix-and-flip investment properties. Many lenders provide loans based on the after repaired value, which, if you find the right property, can mean $0 down and even cash in your pocket to fund the improvements. If being this hands on doesn’t interest you, you can get in on the lending side. Many private lenders are seeking investors with investment minimums of just a few thousand.
If you’re a first-time homeowner new to property renovation, the idea of fixing up your outdated home is probably extremely intimidating. The professionals on all of those home improvement shows make the demolition and renovation process look so quick, easy, and painless, but you’re smart enough to know it isn’t that simple. For those who are unsure of how to start their first property renovation, this article will give you a few tips on how you can make your home remodel simpler, cheaper, and less stressful.
Get to Know Your Builder
If you’ve never renovated a home before, it’s best to sit down with a builder or an architect to better flesh out how you want your home to look. Additionally, are you planning on flipping this home in the near future, or do you want to settle down in this house and raise a family? Your builder will bring his or her experience to your project, and help you find ways to renovate your home so that it suits your needs.
Your builder will also help you plan ahead and keep your family and pets safe during your first home rebuild. For example, if you’re re-doing your home’s plumbing and need to shut the water off for an afternoon, your builder will notify you well in advance so that you can make the appropriate arrangements.
Stick to Your Budget
Creating and maintaining a budget is the most effective way to ensure that your home renovation will actually add value to your life, instead of leaving you in financial ruin with a partially remodeled property.
One rule of thumb to keep in mind is that your home renovation will always be more expensive than you anticipate. Experts suggest that you should save at least 20% more than your projected budget to cover unanticipated emergencies or hidden costs.
Think About Comfort
One thing first-time renovators often overlook is the idea of comfort during their rebuild. A good question to always ask yourself is, “How can I make my home more comfortable?”
Comfort doesn’t always have to be about adding high-end appliances or fixtures in your home. Instead, comfort can be as simple as making sure you have enough electrical outlets in your living room, or that you’ve got the right lighting in your kitchen for meal-time socializing. As you progress in your first property renovation, always be thinking about adding comfort to your new space.
We all remember scanning the newspaper when we were kids and seeing local real estate agents advertising alongside family-owned restaurants and used car dealerships. At the top of these old ads, you probably remember seeing a head-shot of a smiling real estate agent, inviting you to look at the homes they were listing. Below this picture, there’d be small thumb-sized photos of ranches, bungalows, and mansions with pricing information and listing details printed out in minuscule font under each picture.
You probably didn’t think about it then – because who knew any better at the time – but what an impersonal and ineffective way to sell homes! Would you feel comfortable finding a good home for yourself if all you had was that small picture and those limited details to go on?
It’s no surprise, then, that social media platforms and home buying websites have transformed the real estate industry over the past few years.
Real estate agents who are interested in building a customer base with millennial home buyers have begun utilizing YouTube and Instagram to appeal to young families and upwardly mobile professionals.
For example, innovative real estate agents have begun posting entire photo albums of glamorous hi-res photos of the various homes they have available on their personally branded Instagram account. These real estate agents use things like hashtags to target Instagram users who want to move to a particular neighborhood.
Another huge benefit of using a social media network like Instagram to advertise homes is that people from all over the world are using Instagram. It’s never been easier to sell to buyers outside of a real estate agent’s particular area.
YouTube has also become a hotspot for real estate agents looking to add another visual dimension to their listings. The agents who are most effectively using YouTube are doing virtual house tours where they walk through a home with a video camera and a tripod. A video works well because it shows off the size of rooms and bathrooms much more effectively than traditional photographs do.
Another intriguing way that sellers are showing off homes to buyers is that they are using hand-held drones to take aerial footage of how a property looks from above. These aerial videos are so much more captivating than the thumbnail photos real estate agents used to rely on to make a purchase.
In an effort to separate themselves from the pack, businesses owners and entrepreneurs alike have turned to social media platforms to give their products and services an edge. Some companies create short viral video campaigns for YouTube, live stream their latest product launch on Facebook, or produce compelling photographs for their audience on Instagram.
One social media platform that’s sometimes overlooked by people in the business world is LinkedIn. While some entrepreneurs believe that LinkedIn is just a network for resume posting, the platform actually offers a wide range of tools for business people looking to grow their company.
To learn more about the ways that LinkedIn is a vital tool for entrepreneurs and businesses, read on below!
LinkedIn is Great for Professional Networking
While social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram focus on the social aspect of networking, it can be difficult to make serious inroads on these networks if you’re interested in growing your network on a more professional basis.
LinkedIn, on the other hand, makes growing your professional social network easy by allowing users to search for like-minded professionals in their particular area of expertise. LinkedIn allows users to build relationships with people on both a local level, as well as on national and international levels, too, making the social network unique in its ability to help entrepreneurs quickly find other business savants who are revolutionizing the business landscape in their cities.
LinkedIn has message boards and groups that further allow people to identify who they might want to connect with to grow their business venture. This feature can be an extremely invaluable tool for entrepreneurs who want to expand their product or service into new areas.
Using LinkedIn as a Tool for Product Launches
One innovative way that business owners are using LinkedIn as a vital tool to grow their companies is by creating product-specific LinkedIn pages. That’s right — not only is LinkedIn an excellent option for those posting up your resume, but the platform is also great if you want to showcase the benefits of a product you’ve recently launched.
On LinkedIn, entrepreneurs can create a page for their product or service that is similar to the resume-style profile pages the platform offers. These product pages are a great way to quickly highlight what makes your new product great.
LinkedIn is such an effective tool from a marketing standpoint that a new study indicates that 81% of business-to-business companies are using LinkedIn to advertise their product launches.