10 Home-Buying Tricks for a Crazy Market

Can buyers do well for themselves in a sellers market?

Currently, a number of big metro areas like Austin and Houston are experiencing a sellers market. The higher prices, low inventory, and heavy competition between buyers can understandably make buyers reluctant to try to purchase a home now.

But just because it’s a sellers market, doesn’t mean that there aren’t strategies you can use to find a beautiful house within your budget. The following are 10 home-buying tricks for a crazy market:

1) Mail homeowners a letter, even if their home isn’t on the market. If you see a home you really like, you may want to take the chance of mailing a letter to the homeowners, introducing yourself politely and expressing appreciation of their home and your willingness to purchase it. Be sure you’re coming across as professional, courteous and trustworthy. Some homeowners will ignore such a letter, but there’s a chance that others will get back to you if they’ve been thinking about selling their home.

2) Develop a knowledge of the area. If you already live in the vicinity, you may have an easier time familiarizing yourself with the neighborhood you want to live in. For example, you can find out if there are any empty-nesters or senior citizens who are thinking of selling, and you can hear other information through word-of-mouth. If you live too far away, it’s especially important to have an agent on your side who knows the area inside-out.

3) Look into pre-market listings. One example is Zillow’s Make Me Move list. There’s of course no guarantee that you’ll find a home by doing this; just because a home appears on this kind of list, doesn’t mean that it will available for sale soon (and owners may always change their mind about selling). But maybe you will spot an opportunity.

4) Look into For Sale By Owner (FSBO) listings. FSBO listings involve homeowners who are trying to sell their home without an agent. If you go this route, you may find some homes at relatively lower prices, though this isn’t a guarantee. Also, you’ll need to make sure the seller is on the up-and-up with all disclosures that need to be made.

5) Look into expired listings or listings that have been withdrawn. There are a number of reasons for why the listing for a home expires. Checking out these listings might be a good way to find out about homes that owners would still like to sell.

6) Don’t overlook estate sales. You might find out about estate sales in the area and attempt to reach out to the parties involved before they list the property.

7) As much as possible, get everything prepared. Check that your credit is good and that you have the money you need. Try to get pre-approval for a mortgage. Define your limits, including the maximum you’d be willing to hand over for a down payment and what you’d be willing to negotiate on. In a sellers market, homes can get sold extremely quickly. If you find a home you like, you want to be ready to pounce.

8) Go to a showing as soon as possible. If you hear about a home that’s for sale, immediately reach out to the homeowner or their agent. Make plans to see it ASAP. Don’t put it off, even for a few days.

9) Find out what the seller wants aside from money. Maybe, after selling their home, they don’t want to move out immediately. Or maybe they need to move out by a certain date. If you can make things easier or more convenient for them, this may give you an advantage over other buyers you’re competing with.

10) Team up with an experienced real estate agent. Chances are, you can’t do this all alone. Given the competitiveness among buyers and the speed with which homes are sold, you need a good agent on your side to scout out new opportunities, move quickly on your behalf, successfully negotiate for you, and make sure that no one is taking advantage of you.

Don’t hesitate to contact us for further advice and assistance. Even in a sellers market, you can find a home you’ll love, within a budget that works for you.

Investing In Real Estate The Right Way

You are here because you are considering getting started as a real estate investor. You’re probably also thinking that it seems rather overwhelming when you look at the whole picture. Well, never fear because you’re about to learn a few things, and the more you know the easier everything will seem.

Before making an investment in real estate, analyze the current market and do your research. Investigate as many as 100 individual properties in that area; track your notes with a spreadsheet or database. Things to list include current pricing, projected rent earnings, and repair budgets. This information will help you find the best deal.

Make sure that you set realistic goals based on the budget that you have. You should not set a goal to buy ten houses in the span of a month if you only have a hundred thousand dollars to your name. Set reasonable expectations to avoid setbacks at all costs.

Marketing will be crucial to your success. Marketing is what generates your leads. Without solid leads, you are not going to find good deals on properties. Therefore, if something is not working in your investment plan, turn to your marketing strategy first to see what is going on and what can be adjusted.

Create an LLC if you’re positive that you’re getting into real estate. This creates a layer of protection for both yourself and your investments going into the future. There are possible tax benefits to incorporating your business as well.

Location is very important in real estate. Property conditions and other issues can be fixed. Investing in a property that is located in a bad neighborhood will probably lead to failure. When looking to purchase real estate, always make sure you investigate the area and its property value.

See if there are all of the stores and schools that you’ll need around the real estate that you’re thinking of getting for your family. You don’t want to move to an area where you’re not near anywhere that you need to go to. It would cost you a lot in traveling expenses, so keep that in mind when you move anywhere.

How does it feel knowing you’re getting serious about investing in real estate? You never know, you might just be the next Donald Trump. Of course, make the investment decisions that are right for you, and always be aware of the risk and reward. You are going to do just fine.

5 Ways to Make the Outside of Your Home Appear More Spacious When Selling

1. Clean out the Garage

We often think that the garage is a great place to store all the items that we rarely if ever use, reasoning that we will eventually get around to doing something about them. Well now is the time, every extra item that we place in our garage makes it look more and more cramped, so organise all those items and clear out the junk. It will leave your garage looking big and spacious. Now there will be plenty of room for the potential buyers to imagine having their car parked safely inside.

2. Organise Your Deck Area

Outdoor furniture, pots, plants, toys even items that you were planning on finding a spot for are common appearances on decks. This leaves the presentation of the house looking messy and uninviting. So get rid of the miscellaneous items and straighten the furniture. Cut back overgrown plants and arrange the pots in a way that will draw the eye to feature areas. If you have a BBQ, clear off the grease on and around it. Potential buyers can now imagine entertaining their friends and family in the well arranged outdoor living area.

3. Tidy the Lawn

Depending on the season it might not take long for our lawn to grow back after a mow, so make sure that you regularly keep it in check. Mowing the lawn the day before will leave that freshly cut grass smell lightly lingering in the air without the stickiness that comes with a recently mown lawn. All grass clippings should be moved well away and make sure any stray clippings are swept off paths and driveways. The result will be a yard that no longer looks oppressive but open, well cared for and presentable as an entrance to your home should be.

4. Clean the Windows

Free flowing light lifts the mood of the house and opens up even small spaces. But dirty windows can restrict the flow of light and dull the atmosphere. Windows are easy to clean with the right tools. A little bit of dish washing liquid can help lift oil marks that may have been left on the windows by pets or wandering hands. After washing the window, squeegee off in one fluid move to ensure that minimal streaks are left and then wipe the edges of the glass with a clean cloth. Make sure the seals, frames and flyscreens are wiped clean as well. This will make a huge difference at opening the home up and joining your indoor and outdoor living spaces.

5. Clear the Entrance Door

If you have a path leading up to the front door, either from the front fence or the driveway then keep it clean and clear. Line the path with some well placed plants and fix any unstable pavers or rickety steps. Keep the entrance door free of obstacles and unnecessary items. Additionally if the age of the door is evident just from looking at it then a fresh coat of paint will make it feel welcoming.

You’re Moving Checklist- 5 Essential Tips to Consider!

Moving out from your old house to a new one could be a thrilling experience. However, there are several things that need to be done before moving out. Packing things from your old house entails detailed hard work so that when you do the unpacking at your new house, you do not miss out on anything. There are ways to make the process simple so that you can continue to experience the thrill of moving out of your house. Here are some tips that will make moving easy.

First of all, prepare a checklist of all the objects you will be packing before shifting to your new house. Keep a record by preparing a list. Have a numbered list which makes it easy to remember the items. Place the numbers on each of the packed boxes with items inside them and then match them according to the list. Not only numbers, it is recommended that you mention the names of the items inside the box so that you do not have to run around trying to figure out the contents inside the boxes. You will require plenty of boxes to put different items in them. Scarcity of boxes will compel you to pack incompatible things inside one box. Wardrobe boxes are perfect for the purpose because of the space they provide.

You can assign a color to each of the rooms in your new home. You can apply colored stickers on the box containing relevant items. Once you reach your new home, place sticker on the doors of each room matching the color. In this way, the movers will know where to put which box.

Keeping things together minimizes the chance of misplacing anything. Keep things in proper order so that they do not get misplaced or lost while packing. For instance place the bulbs with the lamps and do not stack them separately. Use tapes to take small items with the big ones so that they reach the destination properly. Cables and electronic goods are better carried in resalable bags.

While shifting home you will be carrying several precious items in your luggage. It is important to protect those precious items. Antiques, silverwares and jewelries should be carried safely. If no space is left inside your car, then place these items with your kitchen pantry and carry them. Know about the insurance provided by the mover so that you can claim the loss in case of any damage.

Pack well in advance so that you do not forget to pack things in a hurry. Start using fewer items in your home before leaving the house so that you have minimum things to pack while leaving. Consolidate the cleaning supplies nicely. Clean everything beforehand and vacuum each room before leaving.

There are several moving companies providing professional moving services throughout the year. Before hiring a company it is advisable to make a comparative analysis of moving estimates given by different moving companies. You must always go through the moving quotes gathered from different moving companies and then take the service of the best among them all.

5 Reasons Why Single Family Homes Are Better Investment

Appeal to broader set of renters

During the recent downturn in real estate, unfortunately a lot of home owners have lost their homes. They still prefer to live in single family homes as opposed to an apartment. What this means for a real estate investor is that he now has a larger rental pool for his (single family home) property. In addition, people who are moving across the country for job opportunities are sometimes renting out their original homes and looking to rent a single family home for themselves. There are several such factors that make single family homes’ rental pool larger and easier to deal with.

Getting a mortgage is easier

When you are applying for a mortgage on a single family home, it is a much more predictable and easier process as compared to that for a condominium. The laws for getting mortgage on condominiums are much more stricter in today’s economy. This makes the buying process of a single family home seamless and hence a better investment choice.

Stable Property Value

Another factor that makes single family homes a better investment choice is that with everything else being the same, single family homes tend to hold their values better than townhomes or condominiums. This is important to keep in mind since in addition to a steady income, an investor needs to also keep in mind the appreciation potential of the property.

Predictable cost structure

Since a single family home is an entity in itself, it doesn’t get affected by other factors that could vary the cost of owning a condominium or townhome. A condominium or townhome has shared walls and common areas and sometimes the maintenance cost could increase when repairs etc. are required. With a single family home, you are more in control of the cost of owning a property and that makes it a better choice.

Easier when you decide to sell

When you are in the market to sell a single family home that you have been renting out for investment, it is an easier task since your pool of buyers are both investors as well as people who are looking to purchase homes for themselves. Of course you still incur the cost of selling the home but it is a much easier process to deal with.

Tips In Looking For Real Estate Agents

Once you have decided to buy your first home, you have to prepare yourself as well as your budget. You would need the time and money to purse your dream of being a homeowner. You would also have to contend with the grueling and sometimes frustrating process of home buying. You would therefore need to have someone to help you through it and that means having a real estate agent you can trust and work well with.

With that said, it is important to take note of that the first step you should take is to look for that agent. If you are at a loss where to look for agents, then this article is for you. Below are some tips you can use in your search for that ideal agent.

One of the best ways to find an agent is if someone you know and trust can refer someone to you. This makes a lot of sense especially if your friend or relative recently bought a house with the help of an agent. If they had a good experience with their agent, then you could be sure that you will be working with an ideal agent.

If you are out of luck with referrals, you can use the internet to search for real estate agents. There are plenty of websites that can help you make the right decision. There are sites which lists down the agents affiliated with this or that group operating in a particular area where you are looking to make your purchase. There are also websites operated and maintained by agents. By looking at their sites, you would have a better feel as to their knowledge about the real estate market and how helpful they are to their clients.

Attending open houses is also a good way to spot a good agent. By seeing them work, you would glean some information of how they operate. If they are very helpful to everyone, you could take that as a sign that that particular agent is dedicated to helping match people with the ideal property for them. If they seem to be pushy, then that could be a red flag as they could push you too to buy this or that property just to get the commission from closing a deal.

If you know an agent but cannot work with him or her because you are looking for a property halfway across the country, they might be able to help you get in touch with someone they know and can trust. Having a good real estate agent working with you to find your dream home is very important so you should be careful in picking whose services to secure.

Living And Renting In Auckland

As the largest city in New Zealand, home to our biggest airport and the centre of commerce and business, Auckland offers more opportunities than anywhere else in the country. It is for this reason that many Kiwis choose to make the move, especially those looking to expand their horizons and those who are looking to take advantage of higher potential wages.

The trade-off to having better opportunities accessible to you, a bigger central city and the many other benefits that living in the Auckland region affords is found mostly in the city’s higher cost of living. It is what deters many people from relocating, but, if you’re willing to plan ahead and do some research, you’ll find plenty of ways to make living in Auckland affordable.

Cost of Housing

Housing and accommodation is one of the biggest obstacles that you’ll be forced to overcome. Auckland is one of the most lucrative and the most expensive property market in the country. Both buyers and renters need to take caution in properly researching suburbs and current trends to get themselves the best deal. If you are planning on renting in the region, it will pay to start looking as early as possible to ensure that you find something affordable.

While higher than the rest of the country, you can expect to pay a lot less to live in Auckland than what you might in other major cities around the world.


Finding good houses for rent in Auckland at an affordable price will boil down to which suburbs you consider renting in. Depending on your situation and needs, there are plenty to choose from.

For families who are looking at making the move, Epsom is a popular choice because of its close proximity to the central city and the several schools that are nearby, including popular public secondary schools Auckland Grammar and Epsom Girls’. Rental prices for four-bedroom homes fell from an average of $700 per week to $420 in 2011 as well, making it one of the more affordable options.

Grey Lynn shares similar qualities with Epsom, its popularity reflected in the 18% rise in rent to $530 per week for a two-bedroom property. Auckland Girls’ Grammar, Mount Albert Grammar and Western Springs College all serve the area and the summer sees a lot of popular events and festivals make their way to Grey Lynn Park.

Papakura and Manukau are popular options for those who drive frequently and don’t mind being twenty minutes outside the city. The average rental price of a two-bedroom home in Papakura hovers around $300 per week with bigger sections and a lot more space. Both of the suburbs have populated retail centres that will leave you needing to make the twenty-minute drive into Auckland Central less than you might imagine – you’ll be surprised at how many of your needs will be met within the suburbs themselves.

While Newmarket, Mt Eden and the surrounding suburbs are popular options, they’ve become increasingly expensive with gentrification over the past two decades. If you’re looking for a bigger property than those offered near the central city, looking further out past Mt Roskill and New Windsor will yield better results.

Take your time to shop around; you’ll find that there are plenty of rental options in Auckland to suit any budget!

Viewing Properties 10 Things You Must Carry

If you are active in real estate investing, you probably see a few houses every week. The consistency with which you close deals is largely dependent on what you do when you see the houses.

Here are ten things you must have with you at all times whenever you go to see a house.

1) Flashlight
When you go to see most houses, you are likely to find the utilities disconnected. This applies to most vacant homes you will go to see.

Always have a flashlight with you in your car at all times. It comes in handy.

2) Face mask
As unlikely as this sounds, I have found it necessary several times I have gone to look at houses. I don’t mean a ninja type of face mask, but the type that covers your nose and filters the air you breath.

I once went to see a house that had been vandalized, including the copper in the plumbing. By the time the city turned off the water, the house had flooded a few days.

I have since visited several properties you just cannot breath unless you cover your nose.

3) Hand sanitizer / insect repellant
Lots of vacant houses stink and are infested with fleas.

You touch dirty doors, knobs, etc and end up being infested with fleas. I always spray my shoes with insect repellant and sanitize my hands after I am done.

4) Digital camera / Video camera
The good thing is that most people now have digital and video cameras in their smart phones. Get yourself one if you do not have one, it combines many useful tools in one. Always take some pictures and even video when you go to see your houses.

While we are at it, sometimes I use my smart phone to record voice as I explain things I would otherwise forget. It’s easier than taking notes.

5) Calculator
Obviously you must carry a calculator. Again my smart phone calculator is more than enough.

This is one tool you will always need, whether you are estimating repairs, making offers, etc.

6) Screwdriver, hammer
To access properties that are boarded up, you will need these. The only way to gain entry is to un-board it, then re-board it when you leave.

7) Deal analysis
Before I go out to look at a property, I have already pre-screened the seller and have a pretty good idea about the repairs it needs. My visit to see it is simply to confirm and see it first hand.

So I always make sure I have done some comps and come up with some ball-park offer even before I go there.

Of course, the numbers can change if the reality on the ground tells a different story. Always be prepared to make an offer before you leave. Of course, by the time you are going to see the house, you already know what they are asking for the house.

Most motivated sellers will accept your offer right there.

8) Purchase agreement
You must sign a contract as soon as the seller accepts your contract, not later. I generally prepare a contract before I go to see the house and leave out some blanks that can change later.

9) Business cards
Most motivated sellers know others in a similar situation. Pass your business cards to them, they might refer more business to you. Of course, remember to promise a gift if they refer their friends.

10) Yard signs
As soon as I get a house under contract, I put a We Buy Houses sign on the yard, with the owner’s permission. You can get a lot of extra business from these signs.

12 Principles You Have To Stick To … When Purchasing Commercial Real Estate

AS YOU will appreciate, being able to sleep through the night is one of the primary objectives for any Commercial real estate investor.

And that’s what a great many property investors refer to as staying below your “Threshold of Insomnia”.

There may be several things which might lead you to lose sleep. One is over-borrowing; and the others are producing a poor assessment of the market place and the property itself.

Allow me to share 6 Tips about What to DO …

  1. At all times maintain sufficient cash reserves, so that you can manage a few months’ loan payments — in the event you were to lose a tenant, or the tenant is just late in paying for some reason.And have a sharp eye on smaller things like all machinery and maintenance bills, which can easily mount up.
  2. Make sure you have an investment strategy you’re happy with, and then stick to it. In other words, set reasonable objectives and pursue them. More goals have been missed as a result of lack of planning, than through the plan itself failing.
  3. Buy yourself a financial calculator, or access to a good software package. And learn to use it to develop a realistic projected cash flow, on an after-tax basis.
  4. Always keep yourself up-to-date with various developments within the current market. Be sure you keep track of what is the news and regulations affecting property; undertake training; go to workshops; and read books on Commercial property. Practical knowledge will reduce your potential risks, and boost your profit margins.
  5. Identify and retain a top-notch group of Consultants (real estate, legal, financial, construction, etc). The money you pay these people will be more than returned to you, because of the deals they can assist you to come up with.
  6. Wherever practical make sure your mortgages to not require you to give a personal guarantee. Consistently endeavor to make them non-recourse mortgages.

And 6 Traps You might want to AVOID …

  1. Do not be influenced to commit a large proportion of your capital into risky opportunities. They may appear glamorous as you go in, however they are often painful on the way out.
  2. By no means do deals on a handshake — always put them in writing, for your own protection.
  3. Avoid entering into joint ventures, without taking thorough guidance from your advisors.
  4. Never spend funds from the sale of one property to finance yet another, UNTIL settlement on the first one takes place. Way too many “sure deals” have an weird practice of coming unstuck.
  5. Steer clear of loans with variable payments. You will discover way too many factors outside your control, such as a unexpected surge in interest rates. Preferably, choose a fixed- rate loan. But at worst, have a 50/50 split between a fixed-rate and variable-rate mortgage.
  6. Avoid properties that have substantial negative cash flows (where by your costs considerably go above the income from the property).The return on money may be higher; but you can leave yourself rather exposed — much like share traders discovered, with their margin calls. Just be happy with neutral gearing; and then maximise your depreciation benefits.

Some Important Points for Comparing Home Loans

Buying a house can be an exhilarating experience. Every home owner in NZ has felt the rush of surveying houses for sale, finding that perfect bargain and making the life changing decision to buy. The vast majority of us have then gone through the process of applying for a home loan to make that dream a reality. When deciding on a home loan, there are a number of factors that the savvy buyer should take into consideration before signing on the dotted line.

When finding a house, you will inevitably shop around until you locate the best fit for your needs. The same should always also be true for a home loan. Be sure to search far and wide for the most competitive terms and suitable structure for your financial situation. When buying a house, what you are really signing up for is a loan. It only makes sense then that you would apply the same level of care and reasoning to your choice of loan provider as you would to choosing your new address. Just as there are a plethora of houses for sale in NZ, so too are there an a number of reputable home loan providers who will be willing to talk you through anything you need to know and work with you to put you in your new home.

It is also important to take ownership of your own financial situation, and stay objective in deciding whether you can feasibly pay back the loan. Take any offer and work out what your monthly repayments would be, and be sure to include the possibility of interest rate increases if the terms include a floating rate. This will often seem cheaper in the short term, but you should also factor in the possibility of having to make larger repayments in the future. If you are sitting on the borderline of just barely being able to afford a loan then it is usually a good idea to take a step back and rethink whether you can actually afford this house.

Though you may be emotionally attached to a new property, there are plenty of lovely houses for sale within NZ and it is better to find one that you can definitely afford rather than signing up for an untenable loan. Your real estate agency can often help talk you through the home loan process, assisting you in drawing up a budget and facilitating a dialogue between you and your loan provider. So long as you stay smart and only sign up to what you can actually afford, you are bound to find long term happiness in the house of your dreams.