Real Estate Investment

The Current Downturn in the Economy.

The recent real estate and mortgage issues you have heard about recently mean that there are a lot of properties on the market now, many at prices that could be considered a steal. As with many things, the best time to buy is when prices are low. I have no way to know where the bottom is in the current market, but it will turn around and when it does, those that bought in this downturn will likely be wealthy.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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Comments 1 comment

Blair Stover 6 years ago

There is also a difference between flipping properties that are already polished, and flipping properties that need a lot of improvements. Make sure you calculate the time and cost of materials that it will take you to fix up the property to have it ready to re-sell.

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