Real Estate Appraisal

Real Estate Appraisal

real-estate-appraisal-home-appraisal
The real estate appraisal is an important part of the sales process.

A real estate appraisal is the process that is used in order to arrive at an accurate valuation of residential real estate, commercial real estate or land.  Each property is unique, and therefore, a detailed valuation is needed.

Real estate appraisals are commonly used by mortgage companies, banks, or other lenders prior to making a loan, in order to ensure that their investment is properly secured by a property that is worth at least as much, if not more than the amount of money they are lending against it.

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These real estate appraisals assist the lender in determining how much to lend, what the down payment will be, and even, in some instances, what the interest rate will be.

The cost of an appraisal is approximately $400 US Dollars.  Appraisals in rural areas, and for multi unit properties usually cost more.  The lender will choose the appraiser, and the buyer will pick up the fee, payable at closing.

Real estate appraisals are also often used to determine the selling price of a property. They are also needed often for selling estates, divorces, taxation, etc

Generally, appraisers of real estate give an estimate of the buildings, and the land that the buildings sit on normally prior to it being sold, insured, mortgaged, developed, or taxed.

In most countries, appraisers have to go through training, and have to be certified and/or licensed.  In the US, most states require a Bachelors Degree in addition to the license, and certification. Certified/Licensed Appraisers typically make about $55,000 per year, or about $25 per hour USD.

One of the biggest benefits to becoming a real estate appraiser, besides the fact that it pays fairly well, and is a needed, respected profession, is that it is the perfect foundation, pun intended, to becoming a real estate investor.

Knowing precisely how to evaluate a property is the single most important aspect of buying a property at a below market price, to ensure a profit, or positive cash flow.  I personally know appraisers that also invest in real estate.

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There are many valuation types strived for by the appraiser. The most common of these is market value.

Market value is defined as the price at which an asset would sell in a competitive auction setting.  Market value is considered the same as fair value, or open market value.

Other types and definitions of value are, liquidation value, insurable value, investment value, value in use, and net present value.

real-estate-appraisal-property-value
The goal of a real estate appraisal is to determine property value.

There are three traditional approaches to value.

  • The Cost Approach: the property buyer would not pay more than it would cost to build the equivalent. This approach is often used by insurance companies to determine repair, and replacement values.
  • The Income Approach: close to the methodologies used for securities analysis, bond pricing, and financial valuations. This approach is often used by and for investor buyers.
  • The Sales Comparison Approach: a way of comparing amenities and characteristics of with others of recently sold comparable properties in similar type transactions.  This approach is most commonly used by single family home residential buyers.

There is a great deal of preparation, and execution in the process of a typical real estate appraisal.  The duties that are required by the appraiser are:

  1.  Confirm legal descriptions of real estate property in the public records.
  2. Take photos of the both the exterior and the interior of properties.
  3. Inspect existing, and new properties, documenting their characteristics.
  4. Analyze similar nearby properties or comparable properties to determine valuations.
  5. Maintain, and prepare current written information or data on every real estate property.
  6. Design written property value reports.

When appraising a property, appraisers not only take into consideration the subject property, but also the surrounding area. such as a busy road, the proximity to public schools and parks, or a  view from the back.

The basic valuation concepts are:

  • Scarcity – the actual supply of properties that are competing
  • Utility – the ability to meet the needs and desires of future owners
  • Demand – the desire or need of ownership, supported by the financial means to accomplish the desire
  • Transferability – how easily ownership rights are transferred from one party to another

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Appraisers typically work in one locale, so as to be as familiar with real estate trends, and property factors that affect property values, such as environmental issues.

During the full real estate appraisal process, the appraiser notes and documents their methods, research, and observations used in arriving at their resulting estimate of a properties current value.

Appraisers normally specialize in one type of real estate or another.  Residential appraisers usually don’t get involved with commercial appraisals, and commercial appraisers under most circumstances don’t provide residential appraisals.

real-estate-appraisal-home-inspection
Home inspection is different than a real estate appraisal.

How does a real estate appraisal differ from a home inspection A real estate appraisal differs from a home inspection in that an inspection is used to determine the condition of a given property, including the house or structures and it’s systems.

An inspector is normally hired by a buyer, or a potential buyer to allow them to know what repairs may need to be made, and for leverage in the negotiating process with the seller, and basically to protect the prospective buyer from major flaws or defects.

If an inspection reveals major repairs need to be made, the buyer then can try to renegotiate price, or have the seller fix the issues prior to their moving in. The buyer can also, in some instances, back out of the deal altogether, based on the the home inspection results.

The real estate appraisal on the other hand, is more concerned with achieving a value of the property. The appraiser may use the inspection, if available, to assist him in his appraisal.

The appraiser may also similarly inspect aspects of the property to help him determine a current value. Unlike a home inspector, the appraiser will not inspect the home’s mechanical systems, and major appliances.

The real estate appraisal is seldom if ever utilized by the residential buyer or potential buyer, other than to possibly give them a general idea of value.  The appraisal is used by and for mortgage companies or lenders, insurance companies, for selling estates, divorces, and taxation.

real-estate-appraisal bummed-business-man
A home must appraise out for a lender to lend on it.

If the property does not ‘appraise out’, or is not deemed to be worth enough to cover the lender’s loan, the mortgage company, bank, or other lender will not lend on it.

The buyer must then talk the owner into agreeing to a lower price, or the buyer must  find another property to purchase.

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How to Buy Motorhomes

How to Buy Motorhomes

motorhome
Motorhome on a beach at sunset.

 

How to buy motorhomes: If your idea of a second home or retirement home isn’t on a quiet beach in a warm tropical clime. Or if it isn’t beneath a breathtaking mountain with salmon and trout laden streams nearby.

Or if it isn’t off a back country road by a peaceful lake with star filled night skies falling to sleep with the gentle sounds of crickets, and bullfrogs.

But rather, your idea is to be in all of these places, then you may be like the thousands of others that prefer living life on your own terms in your own motorhome.

Learning how to buy motorhomes is knowledge that can benefit you in many ways.

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Motorhomes, also known as RV’s, recreational vehicles, caravan, camper van, and motorcoaches, have been around almost as long as there have been automobiles.

1910 is when the first built for commercial sale, auto related camping vehicles were made.  Known back then as auto-campers, or camping trailers, they have since evolved into what is today’s RV.

This life style continued to grow until the depression in 1929, slowed through the World War ll years, and then picked up steam in the late 40’s after World War ll, when returning vets and their families were looking for inexpensive means of travel.

In 1967, Winnebago started mass producing motor homes, and had 5 different models that cost around $5,000.  Refrigeration had then become a fixture of RV’s, which helped fuel it’s growth and popularity.

According to the RVIA, Recreational Vehicles Industry Association, as many as 8.2 million households now own RV’s.  It is estimated that approximately 450,000 are permanent, full time Motorhomers.

RV’s, recreational vehicle types are: motorhome – Class A, B, B+. C, toy hauler, pop up trailer, fifth wheel trailer, and slide in camper or truck camper-that fits in the pick up truck bed.

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How Much Do Motorhomes Cost?

The first consideration in buying anything, including how to buy motorhomes is cost.  There are many sizes, and shapes, colors, manufacturers, amenities, and ages of motorhomes.

You should ask yourself how much travel do you intend to do, and how much time will you be spending in your motorhome.   Price ranges run the gamut for RV’s.

The low end being an older, smaller model with few amenities,or a pop up trailer,  up to a current model year Class A type, that is large, and has all of the modern bells and whistles.

The cost of insurance, gasoline, other fuel like propane, upkeep, RV park expenses, food, and entertainment expenses should all be considered.

pop-up-trailer
Pop up trailer at campsite.

Starting at the low end, a new pop up trailer, that can sleep as many as 6. It is the lightest, smallest, and most affordable. Their small size makes them relatively easy to tow, and park.  Amenities available include a toilet, shower, and small kitchen.  Pop up trailer prices start at around $4,000.

fifth-wheel
Fifth wheel trailer.

The 5th Wheel Trailer is so named due to it’s attachment in the bed of a heavy duty pick up truck with a special mount.  They can be anywhere from 18 feet to 40 feet long, and can also be quite heavy, requiring plenty of power to tow them long distances.   Prices start in the $6,000 range, and can go as high as about $60,000.

travel-trailer
Travel trailer at campsite.

Travel Trailers can be as short as 13 feet, and as long as 33 feet.  They are sturdy, yet lightweight, which makes them towable by most basic pick ups, SUV’s, and some minivans. Travel trailers can sleep up to 6, and come with all of the basic amenities, like kitchens, bathrooms, and sleeping areas.

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They can also be left at the camping site, so you can explore the area with just your pull vehicle.  Prices start forTravel trailers at $7,000 and can increase to about $70,000 based on size, and of course various amenities.

class-c-motorhome
Class C motorhome by lake.

Class C Motorhomes are considered the smaller self contained motorhomes, or mini motor homes, ranging in size from about 20 feet long to about 40 feet long.

The class C’s popularity stems from the fact that it provides a more natural driving feel than the larger Class A’s.  Class C’s can accommodate up to 7 people, but are easier to drive and park. A typical Class C will have a bedroom with room for a queen size bed. A bathroom with shower, toilet and sink. A kitchen with a sink, refrigerator, and a small stove.A sitting area, television, and sleeping accommodations for 7 people.

Prices range from about $35,000 to over $100,000 for a deluxe model.

class-b-motorhome
Class B motorhome at campsite.

Class B Motorhomes

Also known as camper vans, the Class B motorhome is built on a full size van chassis, and has many of the comforts, and amenities of the larger Class A motorhome, but in a considerably smaller, and more manageable size.

The Class B  can have a compact bathroom, a small kitchen, a living room, a sleeping area,  a television, and the inside is also tall enough for standing room.  It is ideal for 2 to 3 travelers, and for short or long trips.  It is similar to driving a large pickup, or SUV.

Most Class B motorhomes do not have  slideouts. As far as cost, the Class B is usually the least expensive of the Class A, Class B, and Class C motorhomes.

The Class B’s big advantage over the others is their maneuverability, which makes parking easier, and, as a result of it’s smaller size,  it’s fuel economy.  The down side is, there is little room for storage, and it’s smaller size can feel cramped at times.

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There are many variations of the Class B, but prices normally range from about $30,000 to about $100,00.

class-a-motorhome
Class A motorhome at campsite.

Class A Motorhomes

When most of us think of an RV, a motorhome, or a motorcoach, we are thinking of the Class A motorhome.  They are built using heavy duty frames, that are very strong, and sturdy.

These frames are normally built on a commercial truck chassis, or on a commercial bus chassis. The big 22 1/2 inch wheels support the heavy load of the Class A. They range in size from about 28 feet long to about 45 feet long.

Since Class A’s are the largest motorhome, there is room on the inside for more and larger amenities. You will normally find a complete kitchen with dual sink, large refrigerator, stove, oven, microwave, and even a dishwasher.

There is a large living room with couches that fold out into beds, and there is a dinette or dining table. The back area houses a bedroom with enough space for a queen size bed, and good storage.

There is also a bathroom with a good sized real shower,a flushing toilet, and a sink. Even a stackable washer/dryer is available in many units.

Class A’s can come equipped with as many as 5 slide outs.  Slide outs are rooms that extend from the walls electronically to create extra room for you on the inside.

There are also large storage spaces below the living area, often called the basement, to house all of your extra gear for those long trips or vacations. If you are looking for luxury, lots of space for living, and storage, and all the comforts of home, then the Class A is right for you.

A Class A motorhome will start at a price of $60,000 and can go up to well over $1 million dollars for a deluxe model. You could easily spend more than the price of a typical American home on a brand new, top of the line motorcoach.

The advantages of the Class A are it’s ample size, and home like amenities which provides comfort, and ideal relaxation while on the road.  The disadvantages are the difficulty in maneuvering and parking the larger RV. The fuel costs are quite a bit more than in the other models, and maintenance costs are also usually higher.

Another negative factor to consider with larger RV’s is that many municipalities prohibit parking them on your lot.  You will then have to arrange to park and store your RV elsewhere, which could mean more expense, and inconvenience.

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How Large of a Motorhome Should I Buy?

The key to knowing how big of an RV to buy, should be based on a few factors.  How many people will be using the motorhome?  Is it more important to have a bigger bathroom, or a bigger kitchen?

Will I need extra space in the bedroom for storage, or to comfortably walk around. How large of beds do I need? Yes, bed sizes can vary in RV’s. Do I want the extra weight, and expense of a slider that can make the home bigger?

Do I feel comfortable driving, maneuvering, and parking a vehicle as big as a bus, or an 18-wheeler? Is luxury more important, or is economy more important? Will I be taking long trips, or shorter ones? If longer trips, can I get by with less storage space?

I strongly suggest you write down everything that you think is important to you in a motorhome.  You should talk to as many people as possible that already own motorhomes.

Find out what they like and don’t like about owning a motorhome. Go online, and find out what you can. Go to RV shows.  Consider renting a motorhome before you buy. Go into RV dealerships and talk to the salespeople. Test drive the motorhomes that appeal to you. Ask them questions, but take your time. Do not rush the process. All of these factors can teach you how to buy motorhomes.

There are other factors to consider when buying a motorhome, such as:

Power. If you plan on towing a vehicle behind your RV, and when you have the motorhome loaded down with people and gear, will you have enough power to get up and over large hills?

  • Camping Costs
  • Insurance
  • Wi Fi  Connectivity
  • Satellite Connectivity
  • Breakdowns on the road

You should now have at least a general idea of how to buy motorhomes, and trailers.

You are on the road to finding the perfect motorhome or trailer. I hope this information proves useful for you. Feel free to leave a comment or question.  Good luck, and safe travels.

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5 Best Towns in the US to Live

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5 Best Towns in the US to Live

5 Best Towns in the US to Livefavicon

five-best-towns-to-live-in
Five best towns in the US to live in

What are the 5 best towns in the US to live in? This list is not based, necessarily on the highest median income, most corporations, most available jobs, lowest crime rate, most comfortable climate or weather, most parks, or best restaurants.

Nor is it necessarily based on best public transportation, best museums, best nightlife, best schools and universities, best shopping, best professional sports, or best highways and biways.

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Although, many of these cities do have many of these features, this list is simply of my favorite US cities that I have either lived in, or spent more than a little time in.

I could live in any one of these fine places, and may yet move to one or more of them. Unfortunately, the city that I currently live in, did not make my list, despite many positive attributes.  It’s unfavorable weather, and high crime outweigh the good that it has to offer. I will not name the city, but there are many others here in the US that resemble it.

Here are the 5 best towns in the US to live, starting with number 5.  See if you don’t agree with this list.

5. Jacksonville, Florida

jacksonville-beach
Jacksonville, Florida has something for everyone.

Jacksonville is a large city in northeastern Florida, and sits on the Atlantic Ocean, and bordering the banks of the St. Johns River. It is approximately 25 miles south of the Georgia state line.

The city population is just under 900,000, and the Jacksonville metropolitan area consists of about 1.5 million people. It is the largest city by area in the 48 contigous states, and is the 12 largest by population in the United States, as of 2015.

It is the 4th largest metropolitan area in the state of Florida, followed by Miami, Tampa, and Orlando. It was named after Andrew Jackson, the first military governor of the Florida territory, and seventh President of the United States of America.

Jacksonville is known to the rest of the country, and the world as a US Navy town, and a golf town.  It is home to Blount Island, and Kings Bay Submarine Base, and makes up the 3rd largest US Navy presence in the country.

Cecil Field Naval Air Station was prominent during the World War II years and through the Vietnam era. It has since been closed.

The PGA, Professional Golfers Association, is headquartered in Jacksonville, at Ponte Vedra Beach, the home of TPC Sawgrass.  TPC Sawgrass is home to the Tournament Players Championship, and quite possibly the most famous hole in golf, the par 3, 17th with it’s island green.

Jacksonville, with it’s warm temperatures, is also known for it’s beaches, and for it’s seafood.  It is also known for it’s rich history.

Fort Caroline, established in 1564 by the French,  is one of the earliest European settlements in what is now the continental United States.

4. Branson, Missouri

branson-table rock lake
Branson is top destination for vacation or staycation.

Branson, Missouri is a city in southwestern Missouri, and is in the Ozark Mountains. The population of Branson is 10,600, yet during the warmer months, the amount of tourists that visit the area totals well over 1 million. Branson also borders 2 large, scenic lakes, Lake Taneycomo, and Table Rock Lake.  Branson was founded in 1882, and named after a postmaster, Ruben Branson.

Branson is well known as an entertainment center with it’s miles of live theatres, and the old stand by Silver Dollar City, which has been around since the 1960’s. which started as a recreation of a frontier town, but has since evolved into a family entertainment destination.

In the 1960’s Branson was a quiet town, much like many others that sat on or close to a big lake.  Table Rock Lake, which is easily the biggest draw for me, was a primarily fishing lake, with some boating, and water skiing thrown in.

The shoreline was dotted with a few homes, and a few resorts. Today, the lake is much more populated, and is still being built out.

Branson and the surrounding area has lost some of it’s charm of the 60’s, but Table Rock Lake, and Lake Taneycomo still provide good fishing, and many picturesque views.

Possibly the best thing about living in Branson, and the surrounding area is the relatively low cost of living.   The winters in this part of the country are usually not severe, with only a few months of cold weather, and minimal snow, and ice to worry about.

This combination of lower cost of living, and warmer temperatures, makes the Branson area a great place to live, regardless whether it’s full time, as a retirement home, or as a weekend, or vacation destination.

There are many dining options, and of course, Branson is the live entertainment capital of the US, yes, even exceeding Las Vegas.

So, if you don’t mind the RV’s and campers, and some long lines once in a while, and some extra speed boats harshing your buzz,  you can have the best of both worlds. Peaceful lake living, and exciting night life.  Branson still is hard to beat.

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3. San Diego, California

san-diego-nights
San Diego is much more than a Navy town.

San Diego, California is a large city in southern California, on the Pacific Ocean coast, about 120 miles south of Los Angeles, California, and on the border with the country of Mexico to the south.

San Diego has a population of about 1.4 million people, and is the second largest city in California.  It is known for it’s sunny, comfortable year round weather, many beaches, and it’s partnership with the  US Navy. It is also known for fabulous seafood, and authentic Mexican cuisine.

San Diego is considered the birthplace of California, and was the first site on the west coast of the United States that the Europeans visited, in 1542 by Spain.  In 1850, after the Mexican – American war, it became part of the United States, along with the admission of California.

San Diego is a big Navy town, and has several Naval bases: NAS Miramar, NAS North Island, and Naval Base San Diego or 32nd Street.

San Diego has many attractions besides it’s beaches,  such as historic Balboa Park, and the San Diego Zoo, considered one of the best in the country.

San Diego’s close proximity to Mexico offers opportunities to experience what it’s like in another country.

With it’s smaller population compared to it’s neighbor to the north, Los Angeles, it is easier to get around in San Diego, and may be a better place to raise a family than LA, due to LA’s high crime rate, and it’s crazy Hollywood culture.

San Diego’s drawbacks are it’s high cost of living ( although not as high as LA, or San Francisco ), large illegal immigrant population, and it’s earthquakes. It lies on the San Andreas fault, the largest, and most active fault in the country.  It’s beautiful weather, fabulous seafood,  and gorgeous beaches, however, will trump all of the negatives.

2. San Francisco, California

golden-gate-bridge-san francisco
Sunsets and sunrises are spectacular on the SF bay

San Francisco, California, is a large city in northern California. It sits on the San Francisco Bay, of the Pacific Ocean.  The city’s population is just under 900,000, and is the 4th largest city in California, and the 13th largest in the United States.

If you include the surrounding cities of Oakland, and San Jose, making up the Bay Area, it becomes the fifth largest metropolitan area in the nation with 8.7 million people.

San Francisco was founded in 1776 by the country of Spain.  It’s population, and prestige grew in 1849 due to the California Gold Rush.

San Francisco is known for the Golden Gate Bridge which spans San Francisco Bay between itself and Oakland. It is also known for the now defunct island prison of Alcatraz, cable cars, Fisherman’s Wharf, fog, and Chinatown.

San Francisco has suffered two major earthquakes in it’s recent history, in 1906, and in 1989.  Both times the city rebuilt, and prospered.

There may be no more beautiful city in the world when the sun sets on the San Francisco Bay over the Golden Gate Bridge.  This sight alone may account for much of it’s astronomical cost of living, especially along the bay.

It is also a very cosmopolitan city with residents from many countries around the world. It is home to some of the best restaurants in the world, and one could eat at a different country cuisine restaurant most any day of the year. And, of course the seafood is second to none.

This area (San Jose) is home  to Silicon Valley, which is the technology hub of the universe and features superstar tech companies like Google, Facebook, and Yahoo.  It is also home to many other corporations, and prominent institutions of higher learning such as Stanford University.

The drawbacks beside the super high cost of living (a typical home can be 4 to 6 times as expensive as a comparable home in the midwest) are: it can get quite cool, even cold in the summer, especially when the breeze picks up off the bay.  It is a relatively small area with a dense population, and that can cause problems with traffic, and waits for public events, restaurants, etc.

San Francisco is a great place to visit, and yes, I want to live there too.

1.  Steamboat Springs, Colorado

steamboat-springs
Steamboat Springs barn in winter.

Steamboat Springs, Colorado is a town in the Rocky Mountains in northwestern Colorado, with a present day population of 12,000  The town got it’s name from early trappers that heard a chugging sound that they said sounded like a steamboat coming down the river, that turned out to be coming from one of the local springs.

The city, also know as Steamboat, is a winter ski resort destination that is known around the world. In addition to world class skiing, ski jumping is big in the area, and is featured at the Howelsen Ski Area.

The town hosts an annual Winter Carnival which showcases ski racing, ski jumping, dog sledding, and chariot races.

The Yampa river runs through the town of Steamboat Springs.  The Yampa valley and  surrounding area contains several geothermal hot springs.  There are two public hot springs.

Old Town Hot Springs in the largest, and Strawberry Park Hot Springs known for it’s excellent stargazing is located a few miles out of town.

If skiing, and ski jumping aren’t your thing, there is always activities at the Yampa River, like tubing, rafting, fishing, and kayaking.

The Yampa River festival takes place the first week of every June.  This features a kayak rodeo, a Crazy River Dog contest, and a down river race.

Steamboat gets a lot of snow every winter, and the townspeople embrace it.  It does get cold there, but it is a dry cold, and it is more bearable than other winter destinations.

If skiing isn’t your thing, you can take a Gondola to the top of the mountain, and feast your eyes on the breathtaking views, while you relax and have a meal.  The awe inspiring winter scenes are never ending, and having a camera with you at all times is a must have.

Perhaps the best thing about living in this gorgeous town, is the fact that it is unspoiled. The air is incredibly fresh, especially on the slopes, and the only pollution to be concerned about comes from the cars driving through town.

Each time I visit Steamboat Springs, I see or experience natural beauty that I hadn’t seen or experienced before, and when I leave, I often think of returning, maybe this time to live. If you love winter like I do, Steamboat is as good as it gets.

Honorable mention favorite cities:  Ft. Myers, Florida, Denver, Colorado, Vero Beach, Florida, Manhattan Beach, California, Phoenix(Scottsdale), Arizona, Jackson Hole, Wyoming

This is my list of the 5 best towns in the US to live in.  What are the 5 best towns in the US to live from your experience?

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How to Buy a Privately Owned Home & Save Money

How to Buy a Privately Owned Home & Save Money

privately-owned-home
How to buy a privately owned home.

 

Despite what you may have been told, it is very possible to find a great deal with a privately owned home.  There are, however, certain things you should do, in order to make this a reality. Here you will learn how to buy a privately owned home and save money.

First of all, what is a privately owned home?  A privately owned home is any home that is currently owned by someone that is current on his or her mortgage payments, or has paid his or her home off in full. Privately owned homes are also called retail properties, or market properties.

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The owner should be up to date with any tax payments, and any Home Owners Association fees, etc.  In other words, it is a home that is not in default, or foreclosure, and is not in process of a short sale.

I also like to preclude homes that are involved with Probate, in the definition of a privately owned home.  A For Sale By Owner or FSBO home is also technically a privately owned home, but it involves a different approach, so I won’t include it here.

For sale privately owned homes are included in the Multiple Listing Service, or MLS. They are also posted on many different real estate websites, which anyone with a computer and internet access can find and use. The problem with using internet websites other than the MLS, is they are often not up to date.

If you are on Zillow, or Realtor, com, or any of the others, you may be looking at a listing that is expired, cancelled, or sold.  I have seen homes on these websites that have been off the market for months, yet are still included with their listings. Even the MLS from time to time, isn’t updated right away by the listing agent, but normally for no more than a day or two.

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Hire a Buyer’s Real Estate Agent
realtors
Find and hire a good buyer’s real estate agent.

The single most important thing you can do when in the market for a home, no matter if you are looking for a foreclosure, or for a privately owned home, or both, is to find and hire a good buyer’s real estate agent.  There are many reasons why this is the case.

It does not cost you a penny more to have your own buyer’s agent.  The real estate commission is paid by the seller of the property, not by you, the buyer.   So, in effect, you are getting many great professional real estate services for free!

Why would anyone not take advantage of that?  If you don’t use a buyer’s agent, and simply use the seller’s agent of the property you are interested in, you are making a big mistake. The seller’s  or listing agent has been hired by the seller to represent them.

Many times it is a close friend, or a family member that has the seller’s best interest at heart.  This means that they may not provide you with any negative information about the home that they don’t have to.

They may not give you the best information regarding how to negotiate, which is vital.  Also, the seller’s agent won’t provide you with information from competing homes, unless they have that listing also, and you may well miss out on a better home, and a better deal.

A buyer’s agent, on the other hand, will find out from you exactly what you are looking for in the way of a home.  How many bedrooms, baths, square footage, etc.  Where you would like to live, and of course, your price range.

You may have other criteria such as age of the home, school district location,  etc. Your buyer’s agent will email you pictures, and details of what you like, and leave it up to you to pick your favorites.

At this point, they will set up showings for these homes, and while at the showing, point out features of the home that you may not be aware of.

A buyer’s agent can also perform a comparable or comp search of sold properties for you. These comps will tell you what similar homes in the area have recently sold for, and give you an idea of how much a home you are interested in is worth.

Some homeowners have an unrealistic expectation of what their home is worth, caused by an emotional attachment, what they originally paid for it, or changing market conditions.

Sometimes seller’s agents, in order to appease the seller, or out of their own greed, will price homes well above market value in hopes they will come across an uninformed buyer.  Without a buyer’s agent to advocate for you, it is possible to fall into this overpriced trap.

In order to secure the services of a loyal, invaluable buyer’s agent, you have to sign a Buyer’s Agency agreement.  This agreement states that you will use this buyer’s agent exclusively in your search, and in return, the agent will represent you, and advocate for you in a forthright, and professional manner.

There are normally no additional fees, unless added on as a stipulation of the contract by the agent.  The only fee a buyer’s agent may charge you, is if you decide to buy a FSBO, For Sale By Owner home, that he wouldn’t get paid for, and if so, you may be able to negotiate that the FSBO owner pay the fee.

The time period that this agreement stays in place is negotiable. The usual time period for a Buyer’s Agency agreement is 3-6 months. If you don’t purchase a home within this preset time frame, you are free to use the services of another agent, or sign a new agreement with the same agent, if you so choose.

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The Early Bird Gets the Worm, but The Second Mouse Gets the Cheese

early-bird-gets-worm
The early bird gets the worm.

The key to finding a great deal in the retail real estate market is patience. If you are desperate to find a home, or if you find a home that you really like, it may be difficult to keep from making a full offer.

If, however, you are not desperate, and you are willing to pass on a home you really like if it is priced too high, or the seller is not willing to accept

second-mouse-gets-the-cheese
The second mouse gets the cheese.

your lower offer, you will have a greater chance of finding a deal.

You also give yourself a chance to find a great deal if you are willing to do some work on a home.  Many homeowners for whatever reason, do not upgrade, or update, repair, or sometimes even clean up their homes and property before they put it on the market to sell.

As most buyers are looking for updated, and move in ready, or very close to move in ready, you can find some deals if you are willing to look past what is needed in a home, and do some or all of the work yourself, or hire contractors to do the work for you.

Many homes only need cosmetic upgrades such as carpet, paint, new wallpaper, hardwoods to be refinished, old paneling removed, bushes and trees trimmed or removed, decks repaired, etc.  But, because the needed upgrades make the home look so unappealing, a lot of buyers will disregard it, and it can present an opportunity for a savvy buyer.

Another key to landing that great deal is to offer correctly.  You have to be a little careful not to offer too low, as you don’t want to insult the seller.  I have seen sellers that simply refuse to deal with a buyer that made them a low ball offer. Yet, you want to offer low enough to ensure you will see some built in equity in the home when you take ownership of it.

You can also make up some difference in price, if you ask the owner to make some of the needed repairs and upgrades himself, by writing it in the contract offer.  You can also ask for the seller to pay some or all of your closing costs to compensate for price.

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It is also important to be flexible.  If you can live with a school district that is not your favorite, or an unfinished basement instead of a walk out finished basement, or a 2 story instead of a ranch, or other amenities, and locations, you will open yourself up to a wider choice of properties, and increase your chances of finding that great deal.

Have a Professional Home Inspection Performed

professional home inspector
Have a professional home inspection performed.

Most real estate sales contracts contain a statement that allows the buyer 10 days from date of accepted contract to have an inspection performed on the property, and that the purchase is contingent on the inspection.

You may want to write in to the contract that you want 15 days for the inspection, just to give yourself a little more time. and that the offer is contingent on the inspection just to cover yourself.

If the inspection reveals issues that were not provided by the sellers disclosure, or by the seller over and above the sellers disclosure, you will then have the ability to adjust your offer price, ask for the seller to have the needed repairs done for you, or back out of the deal completely.

At the very least, the inspection will let you know the condition of the major systems of the home, so you will know what you can expect to have to repair or replace, and when, and allow you to set aside the needed funds.

A typical home inspection costs approximately $500, at least in the midwest in 2016, but it is too important to skip.  It is money well spent, and provides an escape clause for you, should it reveal more than you are willing to take on.

Let’s review.  In order to give yourself the best chance to find a great deal with a privately owned home you must:  Find and hire a good buyer’s real estate agent. Sign a buyer’s agency agreement with your new buyer’s agent.

Tell your buyer’s agent exactly what you are looking for in a home in regard to amenities, location, and price. Be as flexible as possible with your home preferences.  Be patient.

Don’t over offer on homes that you may be able to pick up at a lower price. Don’t worry if you can’t strike a deal on a home you like.  There will be others as long as you are flexible and patient.

Be willing to look past needed upgrades and repairs, as this can mean discounts on selling prices and terms. Make offers low, but not too low, and write in contract that offer is contingent on an inspection.

If you follow these guidelines, your next privately owned home purchase will be successful. Good luck!

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How to Buy Foreclosures at the Courthouse Steps

How to Buy Government Foreclosures

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Green House – How to Go Eco Friendly & Save Money

Green House – How to Go Eco Friendly & Save Money

green-house
More houses are going green, or eco friendly.

 

When I say green house, I don’t mean the greenhouses or hot houses made of glass to grow various things at all times of the year. You know, the kind made of glass that were very common in the 60’s and 70’s, like when I was growing up.

There was a series of these right next to a base ball field where our group of neighborhood friends used to play, in deep right field, and in foul territory. We called it Fred’s field, and the field and the greenhouses were owned by Fred, thus the name.

kid-playing-baseball
Green houses are healthier for your family also.

If you got hold of one and hit it to the opposite field, my being a right handed hitter primarily, it could hit the glass either on the fly or on a bounce, and occasionally break the glass.

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I am quite sure that ol’ Fred, the owner of the greenhouses didn’t like us much due to our causing him more work and expense to replace the broken glass, but he said little to us to make us stop.

No, I mean a green house that is eco friendly, and environmentally conscious. Seems like everything is going green today, and that includes how homes are built, and how homes are treated once they are built. It also includes how many things are treated inside the house that have also eco friendly effects.

If you have been thinking of buying a home, or are currently in the market for a home, you may want to consider going green. Although there are few 100% green homes available to buy on the real estate market, it is very possible to find a home with green elements to it, and, you may even want to consider building a green home.

More and more homeowners are adding green elements to their homes, and the amount of home buyers building green homes has increased substantially in the last 6 to 8 years. These numbers continue to increase each year.

Due to these increasing numbers of buyers going green, there are now a good deal of options available to new home buyers that want to have reduced energy costs, lower the environmental impact of their home, and improve their home’s quality, and value.

The lower costs of technology, and materials related to the growing green housing market, now make the option of purchasing a green house, more and more practical for a larger number of people.

There are currently many home builders that specialize in building green, environmentally conscious homes, and some builders exclusively build these types of homes.

Even home builders that don’t specialize in building green homes, are beginning to provide green home options for their customers. Check in your local area for green builders, and be sure to talk to a few of their customers before you decide to use them.

You may even find green building products, and green technology right in your own cities’ home store or hardware store.

Here are some ways you can take advantage of for your new or existing home to go green.

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Use Materials That Are Sustainable
bamboo-floor
Use sustainable building materials such as bamboo floors.

Sustainable building materials can be used for the frame, roof, flooring, decks, and other surfaces, and structures, and lower the impact of your home build on the environment.

When a wood supplier is picked that uses sustainable planting procedures called silviculture,  it is a renewable resource.  The EPA, Environmental Protection Agency, has contacts of suppliers that follow these practices.

Certain types of sustainable flooring materials that provide good insulation, give you good climate control, and have the environmental friendliness that is needed are bamboo, linoleum, and cork.

You could also utilize recycled building materials such as recycled glass, recycled plastic, or reclaimed lumber.

Buy or Build Smaller

small-wooden-house
You can save money and help save the environment with a smaller house.

There is a trend today to make use of smaller homes and spaces. I’m sure you have seen some of the tiny houses that are being built, on some of the real estate type channels like HGTV.

Personally, I am not a fan of the tiny house, at least as a primary residence, but I could certainly make do with a tiny house as a weekend, or another temporary kind of residence.

But the idea of going smaller from an environmental responsibility standpoint is a very good one.  Less is more, as you will have less space to heat, and cool, less materials needed to build, less negative emissions into the atmosphere,  and less house to maintain.

Many people nowadays are looking to go smaller as a result of the empty nest syndrome of their kids moving out for college or work, or just to have less home to take care of and pay for.

Oftentimes too, there are areas of homes that are seldom, if ever used, so why build a home that is larger than what is really needed.  You may be able to be just fine with a smaller living space.

Going Solar

solar-panels
Many homes are going to solar today.

Solar energy derived from the sun, has been around for many years. It’s technology has improved, but it still has some drawbacks for many consumers. Solar is a clean technology, and is good for the environment, but it can be expensive to purchase the needed solar equipment, and it can be expensive to maintain.

The upfront costs will likely disappear after years of use in cost savings, but if you move in a few years after you buy it, you may not recoup your costs in the resale of your home.

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It is very possible to qualify for incentives, grants, and tax breaks by having a solar powered home.  There are also some utility companies that will purchase the excess energy that solar power can generate. Check with your local provider to see what they may be willing to do.

Utilizing Rain Water

rain-water
Rainwater harvesting systems can supply some of your household water needs.

Utilizing rain water for your household water needs will not be an option if you live in Los Angeles or Phoenix, but it could well be an option for most other parts of the US of A.

Rainwater harvesting systems can be installed when building your green home, or added to an existing home.  Rain water is primarily collected from roofs, and stored in a receptacle tank, or barrel.  The most common uses for rain water is in plumbing systems, and for sprinkler systems.

Tankless Water Heaters

tankless-water-heater
Tankless water heaters save money, energy, and space.

Tankless or On Demand Water Heaters, heat water as it passes through a heating element.  This technology has been  around for the last 25 years or so, but has become much more commonly used in the last 10 or so years.

The biggest environmental benefit with tankless, or on demand, is that less water is used, as a result of only the water needed is heated. When using a tank water system, a large amount of water is heated, and much of it may never be used.

It is very energy efficient to use the tankless water system.  There is also space savings as no water tank is needed, and fewer pipes, vents, drains, etc.

Other household water saving devices or appliances are: water saving washing machines, dishwashers, toilets, faucets,  and shower heads.

These items are usually close to the same price as their non water saving brethren, and can save you some money in the long term, as well as less energy usage, which is good for the environment.

Use Thermostats You can Program

heating-and-ac programmable thermostat
Programmable thermostats can save you 50% or more on your energy bills.

If you are like me, you like the temperature in the house cooler at night, and somewhat warmer during the day.  It also makes sense to not excessively heat or cool your house while you are at work, or away from the home for extended  periods of time for any other reason.

With a programmable thermostat, you can set the times you want the house to be whatever temperature you like. This can save you a lot of money in utility costs, and keep you from wasting large amounts of energy, which of course, benefits the environment.

Other ways you can save energy around the home are: Making sure your ductwork is clean on the inside, straight, connected properly, and air tight.  If you feel air leaking from the duct work, seal it with duct tape.

Check windows and doors for air leakage.  Use caulk, and weather stripping to seal, and winterize against any escaping heat, or air conditioning.

Use ventilating fans only as needed. Leaving them on for long periods can pull a tremendous amount of needed hot or cold air from the home.

Keep garage doors closed. This is a good idea not only from a security standpoint, but open garage doors can cause a vacuum effect, and pull hot or cold air out of the house and into the great outdoors, which does zero good.

Consider putting on a hoodie, or your favorite pair of sweatpants when hanging around the house in the winter. Since we lose 90% of our body heat through the top of our heads, adding a cap or a hood could prevent you from raising that thermostat in the winter, and save you money, and energy in the process.

Use a portable heater. If you find that you and your family spend most of your time in one or two rooms of the house, why not use a portable heater to heat just that room.

You can also close the vents in the rooms you don’t use, and this will force more of the heated or cooled air into the rooms you have the ducts open. This will require less energy to heat or cool those rooms, saving you dollars, and helping the environment.

Use Geothermal Energy

geothermal-wonder
Geothermal uses energy from the earth to heat and cool your home.

Geothermal energy is more expensive initially, but provides cost savings down the road.  Geothermal uses energy from the earth to heat and cool your home by using an underground loop system that draws heat in the winter, and pulls heat from the air in the summer.

For more green house ideas, go to the EPA, Environmental Protection Agency website, or use the search engines.

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Real Estate Drones

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Real Estate Drones

Real Estate Drones

drone
Typical drone, or UAS, UAV

The definition of drone is: make a continuous low humming sound.  Also known as UAV: unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAS, unmanned aerial systems, or RPAS: remotely piloted aerial systems.  Drones are also called flying robots. Real estate drones are used for a specific purpose.

The popularity of drones has grown exponentially over the last 5-6 years. Drones are often used recreationally, and they also have commercial uses.  Drones are also utilized in military applications.

Drones are used in situations where it is too risky, difficult, or cost prohibitive to use flights utilizing pilots. Drones either have a preprogrammed flight path, or are controlled from the ground by pilots.

They return critical information to people quickly, which can make an enormous difference in situations that require fast responses.

Drones can be as large as a commercial passenger jet, or as small as a football.  Drones cannot be operated by a civilian beyond the line of sight, and above 400 feet for any commercial reason unless permission has been granted by the FAA, Federal Aviation Administration.

In order to become a commercial drone operator, you need to file a petition to section 333 of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012.  It takes approximately 120 days for this process to complete.

Once you get an exemption number from section 333, you have to register the drone with the FAA, Federal Aviation Administration, and obtain a Civil Certificate of Waiver or Authorization for each blanket airspace you intend to operate in.  Once you receive this certification, you can apply for full airspace.

The last step is to obtain your FAA Airman certificate for recreational, private, or sport pilot. In order to operate a sUAS, an individual must obtain a remote pilot certificate with a sUAS rating from the FAA.

On June 21, 2016, the ‘Small Unmanned Aircraft Rule’ was issued by the FAA, Federal Aviation Administration, and went into effect on August 29, 2016.

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This ruling permits the operation of sUAS for commercial purposes, as long as the operator has complied with the other requirements. The complete text of this rule can be found on the FAA website.

In order to receive a remote pilot certificate with a sUAS rating you will need to meet eligibility requirements as follows:

  • Be 16 years old or older

    commercial-drone-operator
    Commercial drone operators must meet certain requirements.
  • Be able to read, write, and understand the English language
  • Be in mental and physical condition that allows for safe operation of the sUAS
  • Pass an initial aeronautical knowledge test

An initial remote pilot certificate with sUAS rating will cost approximately $150 US Dollars.  A remote pilot certificate holder is required to pass a test every 24 months.

The three goals that the FAA has as paramount for drone regulation is privacy, safety, and national security. Liability is also an issue that must be addressed. The noise that some drones can make is also a cause for concern, and could also potentially be regulated.

Drones can fly in difficult, unsafe environments, and for long periods of time. Drones have many uses, such as military, insurance, weather related monitoring, telecommunications, security, police work, fire fighting, and many other applications.

The FAA started accepting applications for commercial drone operations in May, 2014.  Of the first 1000 applicants, over one third were for purposes of real estate. The Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, is a trade group that monitors the drone industry.

One specific commercial area that drones are very popular is in the field of real estate.  The photographic capabilities of drones are a perfect fit for the picture dependent  real estate industry.   Drone photography has seen a steady growth in real estate, and this trend is likely to continue.

The use of drones in real estate marketing saw a significant increase in 2016. According to industry stats, homes/properties with aerial images in their listings sold 68% faster than homes with just standard images.

Many real estate professionals jumped on this trend, using photos and videos taken with drones to catch buyers’ attention, and gain a competitive edge.

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aerial-view-from-drone
Drones can create stunning aerial photos, and videos.

Drone technology allows for stunning aerial images for all types of real estate like high rises, country estates, single family homes in the suburbs, and beach front escapes.

Conventional photography of buildings, and structures is often very difficult, unsafe and/or inadequate due to their location, height, size, or condition.

Drone technology will enable the real estate photographer to take photos quickly, safely, and at low cost, that would otherwise be dangerous, expensive, or too difficult to capture.

Drone photography/videos can illuminate many aspects of a property for sale, such as: property surveys and maps, what the walk to school for the kids will be, the homes location as it relates to shopping, hotels, highways, parks, public transportation, and other amenities.

Not to mention, the surrounding neighborhood, construction in the area, and aerial pictures and views of the property itself.

But drones aren’t just great for enhancing real estate listings. 

Drones are also highly valuable to real estate appraisers. Appraisals of property, especially those properties where topography, forestation, and power lines are a consideration, allow for more professional, and thorough reports to lenders, which provide assurances that the property they are lending on, is as described.

Home inspectors will also benefit from the use of drones in the process of their home inspections. Drones provide a level of safety for inspecting areas that would otherwise pose physical risk such as roofs, chimneys, gutters, siding, antennas, satellites, electrical, plumbing, and anything else that may be high up, or in an unstable area.

They can then provide their customers with high-quality photos of any damage that might have been missed during a traditional inspection.

Inspectors can even stream video on a tablet or smartphone to show customers the condition of their roof and other hard-to-reach areas of their home.

Drones can also reach more remote areas that may be difficult to get to even with a 4 wheel drive vehicle, or an all terrain vehicle.  They are also much more cost effective than leasing a plane or helicopter, as well as much more versatile.

Some tough terrain makes it near impossible to find utility lines, pipelines, and make one aware of possible dangers like wildlife, rock or mud slides,  or potential avalanche in the high country.

Drones can also be programmed to monitor small to large properties against trespassers, hunters, squatters, etc.  without having to leave the comfort of home or an office.

Real estate drones can be equipped with cameras, computers, audio, and video. For real estate agents, drones can provide a view or tour of their listings that a conventional camera or video can’t.

drone operator
Drones can be equipped with many devices.

Drones are particularly effective for properties by a lake or a beach, and also for properties that sit on a large lot or acreage. Drones can also provide a special client experience on the inside of homes.

Some of the negatives or drawbacks with real estate drones are:

  • Cost: although costs are decreasing as drones popularity increases, the price of a good quality drone can be prohibitive for some people.  There may also be costs incurred to store your drone,  and for occasional repairs, and maintenance.
  • Training, and licensing:  to obtain necessary training, and licensing, can be time consuming, inconvenient, and has added costs.
  • Liability: to operate a commercial drone, there are potential risks, and insurance coverage will be needed to protect against accidents, and potential lawsuits.

Real estate drones provide an opportunity for agents and investors to provide a higher value of service to their clients, and offer a more enjoyable shopping experience.

Other real estate professionals such as appraisers, and inspectors will enjoy the benefits of drones in the operation of their jobs due to drone’s versatility, and safety provisions.

Commercial drones can range in price from around $100 USD for a small training type drone, to tens of thousands of dollars, depending on many factors, like size, what it’s made of, and on board technology.

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Home Inspection Checklist

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So You Want to Be a Real Estate Agent

So You Want to Be a Real Estate Agent

real estate agent
What’s it like as a real estate agent?

So you want to be a real estate agent? Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be a real estate agent?  You may have even thought about becoming an agent. Wouldn’t you like to know what it’s really like, from the inside?

I have been a real estate agent for the last 7+ years.  I have had some success, and some slow times, and I have seen and experienced quite a lot in that time frame.  I will tell you what you can expect if you want to take the plunge, and take on real estate as your profession.

The first step in becoming a real estate agent, is to study for the real estate exam.  You should contact Realtors in your area, and tell them you would like to become an agent.

Each company will tell you why you should align yourself with them. They will tell you what the benefits are for you, and what type of a commission arrangement they offer.

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Some will help you prepare for the exam. You should find a real estate broker/company that you would like to work for, and work with. Once you find the one your feel comfortable with, you can begin to find a school to take courses to become an agent.

class room
Real estate schools are available online and offline.

There are online, and offline schools. I went the online route, but I know some people prefer to physically go in to a classroom and be in a school setting with an instructor, and all that comes with it.

Your Realtor company that you have aligned with can help you find the right schools.  You should know that these classes, and curriculum, not matter where you take them, either online or offline, are not easy.

The training is in depth, detailed, and can be somewhat intense at times. The courses cover real estate ethics, real estate law, real estate contracts, and many other related subjects.

There is also a fairly heavy emphasis on math. You will likely be studying for three months or longer before you are ready to take the exam.  The real estate exam is tough. Most people that take the exam fail it the first time around.

I have known people that had to take the test 5 or 6 different times before they passed.  The real estate exam is considered the fourth toughest exam to pass, behind the medical boards, the lawyer bar exam, and the stock broker exam.

real estate exam
The real estate exam is not easy.

The two agents that I know that had to take the exam 5 or 6 times before they passed, both became successful agents. They showed persistence, and determination from the start, and followed that through in their careers.

One of those agents that I worked with for several years, is becoming one of the top agents in my city. That is saying something because there are some 8,000 active real estate agents in my city.

You will have to pay for the real estate school, the exam, and if you pass, for the real estate license out of your own pocket. You may get lucky, and find a Realtor that will sponsor you and help you with some of the costs.

How much the costs are will depend on the state you are in, and the school that you attend. Once you pass the exam, and pay for your license to be set up, you will then be hit with more fees.

You will have to pay fees to be a member of the Realtor’s Association. This is mandatory. You will then have to pay to be able to use the Multiple Listing Service website.

This is a must have for all Realtors, and it gives you access to all the properties in your area, along with many other online tools that can assist you with your real estate business. You then have to pay in order to get your Supra key.

This electronic key gives you access to properties that you want to show.  Many houses today that are listed for sale,  have the Supra electronic box on the front of the house, and without the Supra key, you will be denied entry to the home.

There are still listing agents that use combination boxes that contain the keys to the houses for entry.  These make up less than 50% of the properties for sale.

Realtor fees
Realtors have many fees, and expenses.

Burdensome fees, and expenses are a fact of life for real estate agents.  You will basically be in business for yourself.  You will be responsible for all fees. and other expenses related to your business. This includes health insurance, dental insurance, disability insurance, and retirement accounts. It’s all on you.

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Your biggest expense will be gasoline. Get ready to put major miles on your vehicle.  This will mean more tune ups, more oil changes, more tires, and more repairs.

You best not be driving around in your uncle Bob’s old jalopy either, as you will from time to time have to drive your clients around for showings, and you will want to make a good impression.

And even if you don’t pick your clients up. If you come to a showing in an old beater, you may lose that client you have worked so hard to gain.

Being in business for yourself also means being responsible for your own taxes. You will have to learn what you can write off, and what you can’t for your taxes.

You will have to keep good records of everything you buy, and you will need to keep track of your mileage that you use for business. Taxes will take a big bite out of your income, but if you maximize your deductions, you can minimize the pain of paying taxes.

I personally believe that the fees, and taxes are too high for real estate agents. However, if you look at it from a typical business perspective, it is not unusual. For instance, a plumber will have expenses for his truck, tools, and other equipment.

A landscaper will have expenses in his lawn equipment, trailer, gasoline, etc.  In other words, any business person who is in business for him or herself, will have significant expenses that they will incur.  A Realtor is no different.  But the fact remains that it is not inexpensive to stay in business.

Realtors need a steady stream of cash.
You will need a steady stream of cash to stay in business.

Now that you know that you will need boat loads of cash to stay in business, it’s time to get down to how to generate that cash.  Ok, that may be an exaggeration, but you will need some greenbacks at the ready to stay in business.

Real estate is a very competitive business. There are often many other agents competing for the same buyers, and sellers.

If you have chosen a good real estate company to align yourself with, they will provide you with some training on how to generate sales leads, and they may even throw a few leads your way.

They will also teach you how to go about listing appointments with potential clients, as well as how to talk to potential buyer clients.  You will also likely be told by your real estate broker to tell everyone you know that you are a real estate agent.

You should by now have your business cards ready to go, and your for sale signs with your smiling face prominently displayed at the ready.

You will need to go online, and utilize your social media with an announcement that you are an agent, and also to promote any listings that you may generate.

You can advertise various other places online as well, such as the realtor websites like Zillow, realtor.com or others such as craigslist to help you sell your listings and generate clients.

Some agents also advertise their services on billboards, buses, radio, tv, in newspapers and magazines, on their own websites, and on their own vehicles.

text
Real estate agents get texts, and phone calls from clients most anytime.

Once you start getting clients, be prepared to get emails, phone calls, and texts at any hour, day or night. Yes, I have received phone calls, and texts in the middle of the night many times.

Phone calls at 8 or 9 p.m. on a Sunday night are not unusual. Most clients don’t care that you may want to spend some quality time in the evenings with your family, friends, etc.  They feel that their needs trump any life that you may have.

As an agent, you are basically on call 24/7.  There are times you will feel like a professional baby sitter. Some clients you may develop a love/hate relationship with.  How you handle these type clients is a matter of personal preference.

Some clients will become so troublesome that you may want to tell them to find another agent. I have only had to do this one time, but I have been tempted to do so on several other occasions.

However, most clients that I have dealt with have been pleasant, considerate, reasonable people.  But, be prepared, because the nightmare clients are out there, and they have your phone number.

mortgage money
A good lender is worth their weight in gold.

You will also want to find a few good lenders. Most of your buyer clients will not have a lender, or they just talked to someone about their preapproval, but haven’t decided on anyone yet.

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Your clients will look to you for a lender recommendation, and a good lender is worth their weight in gold. They will take your client by the hand, get them preapproved, and allow you, the agent, to start showing them homes.

Once you have an accepted offer on a home that your client wants to buy, your lender starts the loan processing, which is the most important aspect of the sale, by far.  The most common reason for a deal falling through, is a problem with the financing.

Make sure your buyer client is ready, willing, and able.  The first question you should ask any potential buyer client is, are you preapproved for a loan? If the answer is no, they are not ready, willing, and able.

You have to impress upon them the importance of being preapproved. They will be wasting their time, and yours, if they start looking at homes before they are preapproved.  They may find a home they love, only to find out later that they can’t be preapproved, or the amount they are preapproved for is too low.

I had to learn this the hard way. I have had buyer clients tell me that they would have no problem being preapproved, or that they were preapproved a few years ago for a certain amount.

I spent months, and a lot of expense showing them homes, only to find out when they went to be approved for a loan, that they could not be preapproved.

approved
Be sure your buyer clients are preapproved before showing them homes.

A preapproval shows you the agent, that the buyer client is serious about buying a home, and for how much home they can qualify for. I don’t show homes unless the prospect is willing to get preapproved.  Don’t take the chance.

You also want to know how soon your prospect wants to buy. Some people like to start looking at homes a year or more before they want to move.  This is okay, as far as looking online, but in a year’s time, almost all homes that are for sale today, won’t be a year later.

You want your buyer clients to start looking at homes about 4 months before they are planning to move. This will allow enough time for the home search, and for the closing process to take place.

In order to give yourself the best chance of getting listings, it is most important to be professional. This means dress professionally, and have your listing presentation material looking top notch.

Tell your prospect everything you will do for them in order to sell their home.  Explain how you, and your company are experienced, and successful in selling homes quickly, and for the most money.

It is also important to be personable, friendly, and to follow through with what you promise. Always answer clients phone calls as quickly as possible, and deal with any of their reasonable requests in a timely manner.

In a nutshell: treat your clients how you would like to be treated.  If you do this, you will have happy clients, and happy clients tell their friends, and their families about you. You may well receive referrals, and repeat business as a result.

realtors
There is more to being a real estate agent than meets the eye.

I have only scratched the surface here regarding what it’s like to be a real estate agent.  I became an agent in 2009, right after the real estate bubble burst due to the sub prime lending crisis, here in the U.S.

My friends and family thought I was nuts to get into real estate at that time.  Many agents were quitting, and taking other jobs.  I was able to make a living thanks to a supportive, and helpful broker, and a lot of hard work.

I have seen most of the agents that I started with leave the business. Most of the agents that were able to make it usually had a spouse or significant other that supported them through the lean times.

I say this not to discourage you, but to let you know that it is a difficult business, and it takes a lot of hard work, persistence, money management, and discipline to make it a success.

To make it,  you will need a love of real estate, some savings, an understanding family, a fair and supportive realtor to work for, and a great deal of determination.

big check
Realtors can earn some big checks.

I can tell you that those big commission checks are nice, but if you don’t save most of what you make, you will put yourself in a pickle in no time.

You always need to have deals in the pipeline, because it can take months, sometimes many months to see the fruits of your labor.

So you want to be a real estate agent?

If you have any questions or comments, I am happy to answer them. You can leave them below.

I wish you success in whatever endeavors you pursue.

Learn real estate investing from Shark Tank’s Barbara Corcoran!

Discover how to buy Government owned foreclosures!

Discover how to buy foreclosures at the Courthouse steps!

 

 

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How to Buy Foreclosures at the Courthouse Steps

How to Buy Foreclosures at the Courthouse Steps

Great auction deals to be had at courthouse steps.
Great deals at courthouse steps auctions are the rule.

I’m sure you have heard that the best foreclosure deals are found at the county courthouse steps.  This may or may not be true, but for sure, you can find great deals at the courthouse steps. Here you will learn how to buy foreclosures at the courthouse steps.

But, what do you need to know? How do you go about it? How does it all work? Can I do this?  These are all questions that most of us ask, and want to know about buying homes or other property at the courthouse steps.

Just like any other form of investment, the single most important thing you can do is to educate yourself.

You must take it seriously, or you can easily lose your shirt. However, if you do your research, study, and diligence, it is possible to find real bargains that you can buy and resell, or buy and rent out for a nice profit, or a steady income stream.

Smaller counties work better for smaller investors.
Smaller counties may offer you a better chance of success.

Fish in a Smaller Pond  If you are a smaller investor with limited funds, you may have to find a county that is not in a large metropolitan area.  These bigger counties will often have bidders with deep pockets, that can make it difficult, if not impossible for smaller investors to compete for properties.

This is not to say that it can’t be done, but it  could take a lot more time,  research, and patience to accomplish.  If you look into counties that are a bit further away from major cities, you will find that there are usually fewer bidders, and the price of the properties up for bid are lowe

cash needed to buy foreclosures at courthouse steps
Courthouse step sales are usually cash only sales.

You Need Cash   Courthouse step sales take place at a county courthouse. Most, if not all county courthouses will require cash at the sale. Every county will have specific rules about how deposits, and payments are handled.

Be sure that you know what these specific rules are for your county of bidding, as misinformation could cost you a winning bid.  These specific rules are announced by the auctioneer at the sale, prior to the start of bidding.

You should also be able to learn this information from the newspaper that the auction is advertised in, or online at the county website.

This cash payment policy is both good, and bad. It is good in that it will separate out a lot of bidders.It is bad of course, because you have to come up with a good amount of cash ordinarily in order to bid.  There can be a variance as to how the cash is accepted for the bid.

Check with the county in which you live, or want to buy, to see what they require.  Nowadays, counties have a website that you can access to learn a lot about how sales work in their particular location.

Educate before bidding.
Educate yourself first.

 You Need to Educate Yourself  It is vital that you know exactly what you are doing before you undertake the courthouse steps bidding process.  These sales are posted in the local newspaper, and on the designated website, usually the county government website.

You can also use the website or go to the courthouse, and look in their books, to find out some history about the property, and the owner, or owners.

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Keep in mind that any back taxes that are owed, any liens on the property, or any other outstanding debts attached to  a given property, will have to be paid by you the bidder, in addition to what you pay for the property itself.

You should also know what the assessed value is of the property that you are interested in. You also should do a comparable search of like homes in the area that have recently sold.  If you have a friend or relative that is a real estate agent, they can easily get this comparable search information for you.

You can also go online to any of the popular real estate websites, and often find pictures and information on the homes you are interested in.  Keep in mind though that the information and pictures on these real estate websites may not be recent, and as a result,  may not be completely accurate as to the physical condition, and amenities currently.

This information will tell you approximately what you can expect to sell your newly acquired foreclosure for in the near future, and will give you a good idea what you can afford to bid on a given property, and still ensure yourself a sufficient profit.

Learn all you can first before bidding.
Learn all you can before bidding.

Don’t Jump in with Both Feet   It is a good idea to stick your toe in the water, before jumping in with both feet.  You should attend the auctions, and learn all you can, before you actually bid.

Each property or properties have a representative from the bank at the sale that can be a good source of information for you.  You should get to know these people, as they can help you with the bidding process.

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They know what the opening acceptable bid is for their bank’s properties, as well as other nuggets of knowledge that can assist you.  While at the auction you can watch, and note what the experienced investors do, which can be invaluable to you.

Seeing what properties actually sell for at the auction based on what their assessed and/or comparable value is, can tell you how accurate the information is, and you can adjust your future bids accordingly, or let you know that there is not enough profit in the deal to even bother with bidding.

You also want to go to the auctions first before you bid, so that you can see how the auctions actually function. You need to find out where to register, what identification you need, what type of numbers or other signage you need, and any other rules and regulations that are required of bidders.

look at houses first
Look before you bid.

Go and Look at the Properties  This may seem like a no brainer, but it’s importance cannot be overstated.  You definitely should go and look at the homes/properties that you are interested in.

Foreclosures can be left in less than good shape.  Some times the owners that are being foreclosed upon, will try to effect revenge from the bank by leaving their homes in as poor of shape as possible prior to leaving the residence. The only way that you would find this out, would be to physically visit the property.

Because these are foreclosures, even if you aren’t allowed to see the inside of the home, you can usually look in the windows, and walk around the lot, which can reveal many issues.

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It is well worth a road trip to the foreclosed home to keep you from bidding too high, or bidding at all on a home that is in bad shape, and would cost a good deal to fix up, and as a result, eating up any profits you could realize from it’s sale.

Some banks may also allow bidders to look at the inside of their properties. This would be the ideal scenario, as you would be able to uncover defects that may not be apparent otherwise.

Learning how to buy foreclosures at the courthouse steps includes getting to know the representatives from the bank.  The more accurate information you are armed with before the bidding starts, the better chance you have of steering clear of potential trouble, and only bidding on those homes that can provide you with a good profit.

The properties that are for sale at the courthouse steps are almost always ‘as is’ properties, which means that the owner, or previous owner is not responsible for making any repairs or modifications to the property that may be needed.

The way the home is at the time of sale, is the way that it will be when the winning bidder takes possession.  There is seldom if ever any recourse for a courthouse steps foreclosure buyer to take in the event that a home is not what they thought it was.  It is of the utmost importance for you to do your due diligence before you attempt to bid on any properties.

smart house
You can make smart bid decisions.

The more current, accurate information that you are armed with prior to bidding, the better chance you have of making smart bidding decisions, and ensuring yourself a successful outcome. With some study, diligence, and patience, you can do well with courthouse steps auctions.

Now you know how to buy foreclosures at the courthouse steps, so what are you waiting for?

Learn real estate investing from Shark Tank’s Barbara Corcoran!

How to buy government foreclosures!

How to buy bank owned foreclosures!

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