11 tips that will save your garden, lawn and flowers ... not to mention your green thumb reputation.
Whether you’re dealing with California droughts, Midwest heat waves or Deep South downpours, summer can be a tricky time to garden. Here’s what you need to know before leaving air-conditioned comforts for a steamy backyard jungle.
DON’T: Plant cool-season vegetables
Generally speaking, it’s a bad idea to attempt veggies like peas, lettuce, carrots and radishes in summer. They will quickly bolt in the heat, meaning they’ll devote their energy to blooming and producing seeds, making the edible parts bitter.
DO: Plant hot-season vegetables
Take advantage of summer’s sunshine by planting these heat-loving edibles:
Drought-tolerant okra produces prolific pods all summer long, and sweet potatoes make an excellent temporary ground cover, shading out weeds until the arrival of cold weather and harvest time.
DON’T: Water unless necessary
It’s tempting to set the sprinklers on a timer, kick up your feet and consider it handled. But you don’t want to run sprinklers in a rainstorm, so water plants only when they’re newly planted or wilting and/or dropping leaves.
DO: Use drought-tolerant plants
Drought-tolerant plants are all the rage, and not just because they conserve water. Grow drought-tolerant plants because they’re low-maintenance and because you’re an average person with — you know — a life.
That said, drought-tolerant does not mean you can plant it and forget it. Keep the soil moist until the plant takes off on its own.
DON’T: Turn your back on the garden
Because in summer, things can change in a heartbeat. Plants can succumb to pests, drought, wet soil or rot in a matter of days. Pay attention to weather forecasts, and watch for struggling plants.
Use those pruners on any bullies that seem to be taking over less vigorous plants. When in doubt, rip it out.
DO: Water deeply
Water like you really mean it, with a deep soak so that the water penetrates the soil without running off or evaporating in the summer heat. Watering deeply will also encourage deeper root growth, which helps plants (especially shrubs and trees) stay healthier and more drought-tolerant in the long run.
Water in the root zone with a garden nozzle, a soaker hose, or just a hose and a full stream of water.
DON’T: Scalp your lawn
If you plan on turning your summer lawn into a putting green and you mow your lawn close, you’ll be sorely disappointed by the results. (Unless you’re willing to settle for a putting brown, that is.) Shortcuts mean less drought-tolerance, patchier growth, more weeds and shallow roots. When in doubt, cut high.
DO: Fertilize warm-season grasses
Give your lawn a pick-me-up to cope with the summer heat. Your local garden center should have a good selection of fertilizers to suit your region and/or lawn type. Fertilize according to label instructions, using a broadcast spreader, handheld spreader or drop spreader for even coverage. Generally speaking, don’t feed on a hot day with temps above 90 degrees.
DON’T: Water in the afternoon
While it’s a myth that water droplets can magnify sunlight and burn the plants, watering in the hottest part of the day is still useless. Water quickly evaporates in summer, and many plants will go semi-dormant. Water in the early morning so the plants’ roots have a chance to absorb moisture.
DON’T: Let weeds go to seed
Procrastinate all you want, but pull those weeds before they have a chance to bloom and go to seed, spreading their progeny all over your garden. Don’t settle for hand-pulling everything either. Use a hoe or cultivator for new weeds in loose soil, or a heavy-duty weeding tool, like a hori-hori knife, hook or mattock for tough, established weeds.
DO: Plant tropical bulbs
Much of your garden will slow down in the heat of summer, but tropical bulbs such as caladiums, elephant ears, cannas and gingers will only grow faster. Create a lush and jungly understory beneath shady trees by planting en masse, or use sparsely for architectural interest in container combos and flower beds.
In early 2011, you may remember there was a lull in foreclosure activity – a lull that was prompted by nationwide scrutiny into lenders’ home-seizure practices. But in more recent months, as barriers that have been holding foreclosures back have been removed, banks, anxious to rid their books of long-delinquent mortgage loans, have been stepping up foreclosures — all over the country.
Granted, we’re well below the peak levels we saw from 2007-2010, but even so, consider this: In March, 2012, foreclosure filings were reported on nearly 200,000 properties — that’s 7.4 out of every 10,000 homes. With many more foreclosures in the pipeline, here’s how to avoid becoming a statistic:
Buy a home you can truly afford
Ok, so this is an obvious point, but reiterating the numbers is never a bad idea: Your housing costs (mortgage, insurance, taxes) should be no more than 25-28% of your monthly take-home pay. Use Zillow’s affordability and mortgage calculators. They’ll estimate the monthly costs of home ownership within the context of your monthly budget. If the payments seem too unruly (Give them a test drive!), you may need to come up with a larger down payment or shelve your purchase plans altogether.
Contact your lender immediately!
Doesn’t look like you’re going to be able to make that payment .. again? You need to let your lender know about your financial woes immediately, and, ideally, while your head is still above water and your credit is in tact.
Consider temporary relief
If you think that your inability to your make your mortgage payments is going to be temporary, see what kind of temporary relief your mortgage servicer can offer. They may be willing to accept reduced payments over a certain period of time; they may allow you to skip payments over a certain period of time; they may extend the grace period for late payments. Just remember: these solutions are temporary, so in the interim, try to find new ways to slash spending and save more. You must also prioritize your bills, paying attention to the ones that are the most essential.
Look into a modification
If your financial situation has permanently changed, then temporary relief is not going help much. You may need to have your loan modified. And while there are many different ways to do a modification, they generally incorporate interest rate cuts, term extensions and principle reductions – or a combination of these methods. Yes, there is a lot of paperwork involved, and yes, it can be complicated, but banks are under pressure to do these modifications and as a result, we are seeing higher success rates: the average savings, per modification, is about $500 a month. To see if you are eligible for a modification, go to makinghomeaffordable.gov.
Explore a short sale
If you’re underwater (as 23% of homeowners are today), cash-strapped, desperate for relief, and foreclosure is looking imminent/speed is of the essence, then you might want to consider a short sale. This where you’re selling your home, for less than what you owe on it, to your mortgage lender. The upside: No more negative equity burden; it’s not as damaging to your credit as a foreclosure is; you can purchase a home again in as little as 3 yrs; and you’re selling your home with your pride in tact.
Basic preparation can make your move into a new home or temporary storage unit much more efficient. Think ahead about what supplies you’ll need on-hand through the move, and be sure your arsenal is fully stocked with the essentials. Heed this advice and take a deep breath — your belongings will be safe, sound and organized when it’s all over.
1. Boxes and permanent markers
Boxes are a lot easier to stack and organize than bags, and you can label them with bold markers for quick identification. Find boxes for free at the supermarket, or buy some at your self-storage facility. Sometimes it’s better to buy new to ensure you get sturdy construction and uniform sizing, which facilitates safer stacking and space-efficiency.
2. Packing tape
A good roll of duct tape can be a lifesaver in almost any situation. For the more aesthetically sensitive mover, clear 2-inch wide packaging tape is the perfect tool to seal your boxes. Remember, you never realize how much tape you need until you run out. Keep a couple rolls handy as back-up.
When it comes to protecting your belongings, you can never be too safe. Save newspapers as you start to plan the move, so you don’t have to go scrounging for them at the last minute. Bubble wrap is ideal for smaller precious items, while moving pads and packing blankets should be sandwiched between and wrapped around furniture and other large pieces.
4. Dolly or flat-bed cart
There’s a good chance your storage facility will have one of these on-site to use for free during move-in and move-out, but call in advance to make sure. You don’t want to have to inefficiently drag or carry heavy boxes across the parking lot, one at a time. These come in handy for DIY home moving as well, especially when you need to haul something from the farthest end of the house to the truck outside.
5. Sturdy storage lock
We’ve seen Houston storage facilities (and others nationwide) with some amazing modern security features. Despite this, a good self-storage lock should be a top investment to ensure the safety and security of your belongings. Avoid standard padlocks or combination padlocks, which are not designed to withstand a legitimate break-in attempt. Instead, choose a closed-shackle padlock or disc lock. Your facility manager can recommend the best type for their doors
The scent of freshly baked cookies wafting through the house? Check. Eager agent milling about? Check. Blue paper shoe covers that make you look decidedly Smurf-like? Check.
Ah, the joys of the open house …
The crowd at open houses is usually a mix of nosy neighbors (“I’ve always wanted to get a peek at their backyard …”), habitual house hunters (you know, the ones who are “just looking”), and, of course, serious buyers. If you fall into the serious buyer camp, you might be interested in an article in the Real Estate Guide that covers what you should and shouldn’t do at open houses.
As the article says, open houses can be a great opportunity for gathering information on the house and the neighborhood. The agent showing the house can give you some good info, and the neighbors who will inevitably pop in are a fantastic resource. They might even be able to give you the scoop on other neighbors who are about to sell their homes.
While it’s good to chat up the agent and the neighbors, it’s important to remember to keep your opinions on the house to yourself (stuff one of those cookies in your mouth, if you have to!). Remember, you might be negotiating with the seller’s agent later, so you don’t want them to know how much you adore this house, thus reducing your negotiating leverage. Conversely, if you voice criticisms about the home, that might also come back to bite you later.
Thinking about buying new construction? The article also covers what you should look for and ask when visiting a developer’s open house.
What does it take to make a home famous? In case you’re wondering how to make YOUR home famous, there are two main routes to explore: Either become famous yourself (the more difficult of the two options) or lend your home to a film project for use in a movie or even a commercial.
Found an interesting article published March 5 in the Los Angeles Times titled “The star treatment: Want a film set in your living room?” (To access this article, registration is required). It’s all about looks, marketing and good neighbors that gives some background on how to go about getting your residence into a film. The article states that “On a big-budget Hollywood film, your house can earn anywhere from $2,000 to $20,000 a day.” Even though you have to register on the L.A. Times site, it’s definitely worth the effort if you are looking for the fast track to having a famous home (or if you just want to get paid $2k-20K per day to stay in a hotel)!
If you've ever gotten ready to sell a home, you know that in order to fetch top dollar, you need to get your place in good shape. But that costs money—hiring contractors, painters, and other pros—so you might be wondering: Why not save some cash by tackling a few of these fix-its myself?
That's fine and good if you know what you're doing. But unless your DIY skills are fairly advanced, experts agree that this is one of the biggest mistakes a home seller can make. If you bungle the job, you might end up making things worse, and shelling out even more money down the road.
"You have to ask yourself: Is it likely to do more harm than good?" says Dan Bawden, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders Remodelers
To help you separate the tasks you can tackle from those best left to the pros, here are some DIYs to avoid when preparing to sell your home.
If you have rooms that need a fresh coat of paint, go for it, says Bawden. But if you have cracks in the drywall from a shifting foundation or a little depression from years of doorknob slams, it's worth it to hire a pro.
"In my house, I wouldn't do the Sheetrock," says Bawden. "I'd hire someone to fix plaster or drywall. If you don't get the texture just right, when you paint the wall, the repair is going to stick out like a sore thumb."
You don't want your "fix" to look worse than the original problem. Contract out the drywall repair, then DIY the paint job afterward.
"I’ve been in the construction business for years, and I don’t mess with anything inside an HVAC," says Bawden.
The heating and cooling systems in your house are complex, and often connected to both electrical and gas. Making a mistake could mean blowing out the entire system, setting you up for a much more expensive repair in the end.
Furthermore, you'd better believe that potential buyers are going to have their inspector go over the HVAC as thoroughly as possible. Even something relatively simple such as installing a smart thermostat can fry your wiring if done incorrectly. When it comes to your heating and AC, approach with caution.
Unlike installing a refrigerator, stove, or washer and dryer (which can often be a simple DIY task), installing a new dishwasher is complicated.
"The complexities involved with setup, such as installing water and drainage lines under the kitchen sink cabinet, are best handled by a professional," says Doyle James, president of Mr. Rooter plumbing.
Doing this job wrong could mean flooding your kitchen, which will ruin your floors and more. And besides, most big-box stores offer installation for a fairly reasonable price if you're buying new units, or a plumber can handle it for $150 to $500.
"Even if it's not a really massive tree, you'd be surprised how hard it is to dig around the roots," says Bawden.
It's also dangerous, especially if you don't have the tools professionals would use to remove the upper part of the tree before taking out the stump. Do you really want to be that person who puts a tree through your own roof because you were too cheap to hire a tree removal professional? (No, you don't.)
Siding and window fixes
Bawden cautions against DIY siding or window replacement, because water can seep into the walls if you don't reseal the layers properly. It might not be noticeable at first. In fact, you may sell the house not even realizing there is a problem, but down the line, mold and water damage will start to appear.
Not only is that bad karma, it could also be what Bawden calls "lawsuit city."
While replacing a light fixture or ceiling fan could be fine to DIY, experts draws the line at any electrical work involving the breaker box. Not only could you hurt yourself, you could also create a fire hazard, especially if your home isn't brand-new.
"Older homes do not usually have safety devices like ground fault circuit interrupters, making it especially dangerous," explains Shawn McCarthy, owner of Handyman Connection of Colorado Springs.
"You reach the limit pretty quickly," agrees Bawden. "Anything that involves running new wires or repairing faulty wiring should be left to a professional."
Aside from the risk of fire or injury, serious electrical work done by an unlicensed electrician could have code problems, meaning you're likely to get a thumbs-down from the inspector later anyway.
Even if it's just a little fix that the average DIYer could easily do (e.g., hammering down a shingle or two or replacing chimney pipe roof flashing), be cautious.
"It's very easy to get disoriented," says Bawden, especially on a peaked roof. This is why even pro roofers always use a harness in case of falls, so unless you take similar safety measures, steer clear.
Some plumbing tasks are doable: Fixing a running toilet or snaking a slow drain should be in pretty much anybody's comfort zone. The problem with attempting bigger DIY plumbing tasks, though, is that you often don't quite know what you're getting into. Disassembling leaky or blocked under sink pipes, for example, seems simple enough. But according to James, "Pipes are complex and very tricky to reassemble, particularly when they're in close proximity to other plumbing components and machinery, such as dishwashers or garbage disposals."
He notes that what might appear to be a straightforward problem, like low water pressure or a fractured pipe, could actually be a symptom of a larger issue with your system. Plumbing has a way of getting out of hand—i.e., broken pipes, flooding, and worse.
TC On Point
What are the best real estate lead generation options today?
Where and how can real estate agents, investors and other related industry professionals generate more leads for buying, selling and renting properties? What are some of the little known benefits, and pitfalls of common real estate lead generation channels today?
Here are 12 ways for real estate investors and Realtors to bring in more leads:
Some popular real estate gurus have said that direct mail is the fastest and easiest way to generate new leads. It can still be very effective. In fact, as others have turned to online marketing, direct mail may have become even more effective and profitable. However, direct mail success does rely on volume and testing to hone messaging and delivery.
Cold calling on a large scale, such as using call centers, might face many challenges with regulations today, but it has still been proven to generate an effective hourly income of hundreds of dollars for Realtors. Simply picking up the phone can be one of the fastest ways to generate real estate business. It is also one of the lowest cost ways to generate leads, and can help professionals stay on top of their sales game.
Many fantastic real estate deals and listings can be uncovered by simply driving neighborhoods and knocking on doors. There are obvious obstacles in doing this, but when it comes to getting the jump on competitors, it can be hard to beat.
Google may have made reaching consumers via their inboxes more challenging, but email can still be one of the best ways to reach both the masses, and highly targeted contacts. Email lists may be rented from data companies versus buying them. Subsequently, real estate investors and agents can take control of their own email real estate and build their own lists.
Buying Internet Leads
Buying internet leads has been popular for a variety of real estate and mortgage companies since before the last housing boom. These individuals experienced somewhat of a bubble, but have now been improved with enhanced data and targeting tools. There are various types of these leads ranging from ‘aged’ leads, to live exclusive leads, and non-exclusive leads. Make sure you do your homework and understand exactly what you are getting, as well as the difference in these types of consumers, in order to maximize ROI.
Buying Lead Lists
Lead lists have been a staple of the real estate industry for many years. An almost endless array of filters can be used to laser target the best prospects with these lists. However, newer individuals and real estate companies need to recognize that they may not legally be allowed to have, or market to some of these lists depending on how the data was generated. Watch for junk, and be sure lists aren’t being fluffed out with bogus names.
Real Estate Blogging
Real estate blogging remains one of the most powerful and profitable forms of lead generation, but also one of the most underestimated. A regular blog can ensure real estate pros and companies are not held ransom by other platforms, and can go on helping to generate leads for years after posts are written. A blog can be used to draw regular internet leads, feed email list building, and fuel social media efforts.
While this medium changes constantly, social media platforms can still be a fantastic way to generate leads in real estate. Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, and even Pinterest are all great options. There are many debates over calls to action, the amount of engagement which is right, and how much should be invested off-site, versus on a real estate company’s own websites, but with the right funnel strategy, it can be fast, affordable and enjoyable.
Signage & Outdoor Real Estate Advertising
Even the simplest yard and ‘bandit’ signs can be incredibly affordable ways to generate real estate leads. With the right message, these and other outdoor advertising solutions can be used to generate a steady stream of local leads. New technology can make this even better. Call capture, QR codes, interactive augmented reality signs, text messaging options, and even links to virtual tours can be used to boost outdoor advertising performance.
Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising can be one of the best methods of predictably and consistently driving in real estate leads on demand. PPC solutions, like Google Adwords, offer the ability to drive in leads on command. This can be tweaked to be hyper local, or reach global buyers, investors and homeowners right where they are now. With a little strategy and education, real estate marketers can significantly drive down PPC costs. With a large enough budget, they can even dominate, and starve out the competition by buying every lead for a given keyword. Aside from the big platforms, more affordable online leads may be gleaned from purchasing image, text and banner ads on other websites directly.
Don’t forget print. Beyond the traditional line up of real estate mags, consider other industry magazines that will reach the same prime prospects, and even leveraging online magazines.
Referrals and Affiliate Marketing
Personal referrals can be both a compliment, and the most valuable form of lead generation. Savvy real estate CEOs are taking this to a whole new level by using technology to scale and organize referrals on a national and global scale.
Print advertising appears to be making a rebound in the U.S. housing market, but what practices and tactics can help companies get even better results? More importantly, how can real estate investors increase their ROI with effective print marketing? How can you maximize your marketing efforts?
The current resurgence of real estate magazines suggests print media is back. During the downturn they thinned out, many went broke and others merged together. Now, housing is booming along with the offers made for print ad space. Experienced marketing and real estate pros know that all media, just like the property market, is cyclical. However,, no one wants to gamble or take chances with their advertising budgets. So how can real estate investors, agents and companies improve their ROI and ensure better results from print?
1. Credible Contact Information
Without accurate contact information, minimal response and action can be expected from any advertising campaign. The more options that real estate marketers provide, the better the odds that response and conversion ratios will go up. However, having credible contact information is equally important. For example; would you respond to a magazine ad that only had a gmail or Yahoo email address?
2. Research the Competition First
Don’t launch your ads until you’ve researched what the competition is doing with their ads. There is no sense in burning your budget and opportunity with an inferior ad. For example; if one mortgage company is advertising 2% interest rates and no closing costs, those offering anything less are likely to be overlooked or discarded. Make your ads count. By knowing your competition you can give yourself an advantage.
3. Split a Page
Having control of a full page in a magazine is great, but that doesn’t mean innovative real estate marketers can’t slash their costs, boost ROI and build relationships with strategic partnerships by splitting the expenses. Perhaps a mortgage, title or insurance partner will be willing to chip in? As long as it benefits both parties, why not?
4. The Back Cover
The back cover of a magazine can be just as valuable to real estate agents, investors and companies than the front cover.
5. Negotiate Better Deals
While demand for magazine and print advertising may be headed up, everything is always negotiable in this industry. Can you get a better deal if you commit to several months or multiple pages? Can you negotiate additional perks or discounts for referrals and links, or simply print ready ads versus having the publisher put it together?
6. Augmented Reality Ads
Augmented reality is the next big space for marketing, especially print. In fact, it is AR that has probably saved and revived the print industry from the brink of extinction. New statistics show a significant percentage of top print publications and ads in those publications turning to augmented reality, with as many as 80% of readers downloading AR apps and engaging across digital boundaries. If more money doesn’t excite you, it looks really cool too.
7. Print +
There is no denying that most real estate pros today are more interested in growing their online business. For those that are going to do print, try negotiating with the publisher to have them send out emails on your behalf, post social updates with back links and look for active back links in digital copies of magazines. These perks could far exceed the print value. Just make sure you know what their online traffic numbers look like in addition to the number of magazines left around which may be a poor reflection of readership numbers.
What are the best real estate blog strategies for those investing? More importantly, do real estate professionals even need blogs or websites anymore? If they do, is the best blog theme still real estate, or something entirely different?
Blogging continues to be a hot topic. In fact, blog industry experts and some of those with the most popular blogging platforms on the planet have already predicted that this median is only just getting started. We haven’t even begun to realize its hidden potential. At the same time, there are many new real estate agents, investors and related business owners contemplating the best strategy for setting up a blog. However, more than a few are wondering why they aren’t seeing the magnificent results that they hoped for.
There is no question that many are suffering the consequences of their own mediocrity. As the U.S. real estate market heats up, there will be a lot more real estate agents getting licensed, more brokerages being launched, real estate teams being formed and investors setting up businesses. Subsequently, each of these new entities will require a means of standing out from the crowd that they were so eager to become a part of. With hundreds, if not thousands, of choices of online destinations for consumers to get their real estate education and tap into resources, there is a need to give them a reason to choose yours.
Some sensationalists have recently posed that real estate agents should be focusing more on apps and social, as to not get lost in the sea of choices made available to consumers. There may be some wisdom in this, but few will want to take the risk of going without a real estate website and especially a blog. Even before most consumers or other parties will even consider doing business with a Realtor or real estate investment firm, they are going to try and look up their website online.
Neglecting to even provide a website is a huge red flag. A simple website, whether it is one or five pages, is far better than nothing. Short and sweet, but attractive, might be better than expansive and ugly. In other words, it is important to provide consumers with some form of online presence.
A blog is far more valuable than a website. It is a living real estate lead generation machine, with a potential ROI from each blog post that could far exceed what most real estate players can fathom. Of course, this doesn’t mean that sticking to stale blogging practices is what is best for your business. You might need a core focused real estate blog that deviates from tradition. For those looking for an outside the box alternative, consider taking an alternate approach or launching a unique blog on a new angle.
Some ideas might include focusing more on providing neighborhood information. Inman News and other real estate platforms have been talking incessantly about neighborhood experts. So why not incorporate some real keyword rich, SEO juiced neighborhood blogs that cover everything someone could want to know about moving and living in the area?
Other ideas might include architecture, interior design and home improvement themes. Regardless of what you right about, make it original and relevant to your particular profession as possible. Looking at innovative blog strategies may be just what your company needs to gain traction and establish a loyal base of consumers.
Because web design and the technologies that underpin it are moving so rapidly, they’ve received a lot of media coverage, including our post about the benefits of Responsive Web Design (RWD). As a result of all the ink, many integrated marketers have made improving their web sites Job One for this year.
If a rebuild or refresh is on your radar, don’t get too far without first brushing up on emerging trends in these vital areas:
Create once, publish everywhere. That’s how smart companies are getting the most mileage out of their integrated marketing content.
If you’re like most small to mid-size businesses, you might consider the curation of customer case studies and testimonials, surveys, product data, presentations, company statistics and more as one of your most-important integrated marketing tactics — and one of your time-consuming tasks. So it makes sense to market that content as widely as possible.
Unfortunately, most companies don’t promote their content beyond their own websites effectively — yet it’s the single biggest opportunity you have. That’s where an integrated content marketing strategy comes into play, so you can ensure you’re influencing customers with the right content at the right time.
Here are three sure-fire ways to connect company or product content with buyers:
A Picture Is Still Worth a Thousand Words. Our ancient ancestors might be responsible for the infographics craze. After all, they told stories by painting images on caves more than 30,000 years ago. Today, we have it a lot easier. According to Visual.ly, an infographic — shorthand for information graphic — is data sorted, arranged and presented visually. Pinterest is another popular platform to publish your infographic.
Turn Commerce into Child’s Play. We turn to our smart phones, tablets and apps for everything from answering emails to finding the best Chinese restaurant in town. So why not turn your integrated market content into an interactive game or app? This trend of gamification is expected to increase by 90 percent reports Mind Commerce.
Be Your Own News Channel. With the ease and low cost of press release distribution services today, you can create your own news room to announce company information, putting your brand on every major news site and search engine on the web. According to PRWeb, you can boost readership by adding a multimedia element, such as a photo or video.
Because summer vacations aren’t complete without a trip to the beach, the idea of owning real estate along the coastline is a very compelling consideration. And why not? A beach home is real estate gold; it can serve as both a getaway for anybody inclined to get some sand beneath their toes and an investment property to obtain secondary income. While owning your own personal Margaritaville may seem like an expensive proposition, there are still bargains to be had at the beach — believe it or not.
RealtyTrac, a comprehensive housing data company, has released a special report ranking the top 10 best bargain beach towns for summer, analyzing more than 1,400 cities in coastal counties. The list, which only used cities bordering the ocean and with a population of 50,000 or fewer, was filtered down based on a bargain beach index composed of median home prices including prices relative to the home price bubble, average summer temperatures, air quality and density of registered criminal offenders, and . Cities were then given an index score from 0 to 500 with 500 being the best possible score.
“Buying a second home or investment property in a beach town can help families save on summer vacations for years to come and also potentially generate vacation rental income,” said RealtyTrac Senior Vice President Daren Blomquist.
“While real estate close to the ocean tends to be pricier, bargains are still available particularly in smaller towns off the beaten path where home prices have been slower to bounce back from the housing downturn. We picked the highest-ranked bargain beach town from each state to provide a good sampling of the diverse beach town experiences available across the country,” said Blomquist.
Best Bargain Beach Towns: Summer
The latest rankings doesn’t represent the name-brand beach towns most people think of, but rather their affordable counterparts. (A good option when buying a home in summer.) According to RealtyTrac, these are the 10 best beach towns to buy real estate in:
10. Bethany Beach, DE
Located in the incorporated town in Sussex county, Delaware, Bethany Beach is one of the more underrated beach towns on this list. Although typically only home to a population of 1,060, Bethany Beach during the summer months is a hotbed for visitors — receiving approximately 15,000 vacationers per year.
9. Florence, OR
Named after a sailing vessel that wrecked along the Oregon Coast in 1875, the town of Florence is a coastal city in Oregon situated between Coos Bay and Newport.
8. Madison, CT
This beach community was incorporated in 1826 and named after President James Madison. Madison was once an epicenter for fishing, shipping, shipbuilding, farming, and crayon manufacturing.
7. Dauphin Island, AL
Known as the sunset capital of Alabama, Dauphin Island is located in Mobile County on a barrier island at the Gulf Of Mexico. The town has become a major vacation spot, offering an authentic taste of the Gulf Coast.
6. Emerald Isle, NC
Emerald Isle is a secluded and tranquil slice of heaven located in Carteret County, North Carolina. Located on the Bogue Banks, Emerald Isle is also part of the Crystal Coast, making it a great place to live, work and play.
5. Palm Beach, FL
Palm Beach needs no introduction. This incorporated town in Florida is lined with palm trees and legendary resorts, mansions and historic landmarks.
4. Riverside, RI
3. Crisfield, MD
Situated in the southernmost town in Maryland, Crisfield is a beach-lover’s real estate dream. With a good part built on oyster shells, Crisfield boasts one of the largest marinas on the East Coast, and hosts various events including the annual National Hard Crab Derby.
2. Mastic Beach, NY
For those searching for low-cost beachfront property, Mastic Beach in New York is your answer. With a median home price below $100,000, this coastal town located in the southeast part of the Brookhaven in Suffolk County is a bargain.
1. Keansburg, NJ
Complemented by an astounding skyline view of New York City, Keansburg is a bayside community situated in Monmouth County, New Jersey. In terms of home prices and style of living, Keansburg is the best bargain beach town in America.
You’re in the process of buying a home and you feel like everything is going well: you found the right house to buy, you’ve made an offer and began submitting your documentation for your mortgage – it seems like move-in day is not far away.
“An appraisal puts you one step closer to closing on a new home.”
However, there are some steps that must occur between this stage and receiving the deed and keys to your new home. One of the most important – and misunderstood – is the appraisal.
The basics of a home appraisal are simple. Once you have been fully vetted as a buyer, your home must also be assessed and determined to meet certain standards. Real estate appraisers assess the market value of a property, and if the appraised value is roughly in line with expectations, you will receive a final loan value and begin to proceed with the loan process.
The appraisal process
It’s helpful to understand how appraisers do what they do. Unlike home inspectors, who are typically checking for safety and maintenance-related items, appraisers are almost entirely concerned with market value. To determine the market value of an existing property, for example, an appraiser will usually take a look at how other similar properties have been valued in that location. Or, if a home is new and unique to the local market, he or she could determine its value based solely on construction costs. Either way, appraisers must compile a detailed report that backs up their final determination with public records, calculations and anything else used to arrive at that number. Copies of this report are made available to the buyer.
You’re in the home stretch.
The desire to live in an area with a top-notch school district influences many homebuyers. Most parents will do whatever it takes to ensure a great education for their children. But the reality is that you don’t need to drop a great deal of money on private schools to make sure your children are learning. And you don’t need to move to the priciest parts of the country to get into a top-rated public school.
Just head to the Chicago suburb of Aurora, IL which topped Realtor.com®’s list of the most affordable housing markets with the best elementary schools in the country. It’s also 45% more affordable than the surrounding metro area.
Schools on this list received at least an 8 out of 10 ranking by education information group GreatSchools.org in the largest 15 metros where buyers can find a home without breaking the bank. In the study, researchers looked at the monthly housing costs (mortgage payments, taxes, etc.) needed to purchase a median-priced home in all of the ZIP codes in each metro. They found that the monthly cost of owning a median-priced home in the top elementary housing markets is, on average, just 23 percent of the median household income in the ZIP. That is 41 percent less costly than the surrounding metro area. They also filtered out the ZIP codes with high crime and poverty rates, and for geographic diversity included only one ZIP code per metro.
These markets offer strong public schools and affordable homes, making them a great fit for homebuyers with elementary school-age children:
ZIP code: 60503 (outside of Chicago)
Median home list price in ZIP code: $259,900
Top schools: Homestead Elementary School (10 out of 10), Wheatlands Elementary School (8 out of 10), and Wolfs Crossing Elementary School (10 out of 10)
ZIP code: 55068 (outside of Minneapolis)
Median home list price in ZIP code: $299,900
Top schools: Shannon Park Elementary School (10 out of 10)
Huntington Woods, MI
ZIP code: 48070 (outside of Detroit)
Median home list price in ZIP code: $400,000
Top schools: Burton Elementary School (8 out of 10)
ZIP code: 85226 (outside of Phoenix)
Median home list price in ZIP code: $324,155
Top schools: Kyrene De La Mirada Leadership Academy (9 out of 10), Kyrene De La Paloma Elementary School (8 out of 10), Kyrene De Las Brisas Elementary School (9 out of 10), Kyrene del Cielo Elementary School (10 out of 10), Kyrene Traditional Academy, Sureno Campus (9 out of 10), and Paragon Science Academy (9 out of 10)
By some estimates, more than 20% of all searches are for local businesses. If you want your brick-and-mortar enterprise to attract more nearby patrons, local SEO (search engine optimization) is a must-have marketing tactic, says the pithy “Definitive Guide to Local SEO” post over at Search Engine Journal.com.
Local Means Trusted
Six in ten users trust local search results and consider them relevant. So appearing atop the list means you’re more likely to be chosen. Summarized below are some of the article’s top local SEO tips, which perfectly complement our previous Location-Based Services post:
Tip #1: Create a Google + Local Listing—But only after first reviewing Google’s quality guidelines to understand their requirements. Giving Google precisely the information it wants, in the format it most prefers, is the best (and only) way to fully leverage this powerful marketing channel.
Tip #2: Learn how to use Reviews—Positive reviews (and lots of ‘em) tell Google and customers that your business is reputable, popular and worthy of appearing higher in the search results. Ask for reviews regularly and make it easy to submit them. Include your Google + Local profile links (and request) in emails, direct mail and in-store signage. Cautionary note: deliver on every brand promise at every customer touch point or reviews could backfire and keep customers away.
Also, take time to learn about local search citations so you’re conversant when you and your marketing team or provider decide to take the local SEO plunge. Biggest takeaway: Google gladly gives citation search-love, but only if you use their preferred format consistently across the web.
Tip #3: Get your on-site SEO in order—All the same elements apply for local SEO as national SEO, says the SEJ article, with some extra considerations like: putting your company’s name, address and phone number on every page of your site (in the same format as your Google + Local listing), preferably in the footer; also include your city and state names in Title Tags, Meta descriptions and where they fit naturally into your content.
Your rehab is not finished the moment your contractor cleans up.
After the last trim is painted and the appliances are installed, you have one more crucial step that will ensure you a quick sale, STAGING.
For those who are not familiar with STAGING, Staging is the process of creating an emotional experience that leads sellers to make buying decisions much quicker and easier. Staging is a pivotal element in your real estate investing business that does not take much effort, but yields in immense benefits. Bottom line – Staging sells your property faster, which allows you to see your profits sooner.
Staging is simple; you want the buyer walking thru the house to envision themselves living there. You want them to visualize where they would put their furniture, where they will have dinner, and enjoy a movie. Staging does not have to be complicated. You can have a lot of fun and showcase your style. Here are few tips to help stage your rehab.
Home Staging Tip #1: Clean, clean, clean!
Make sure your rehabbed house is clean from all debris, inside and out. You want the house cleaner than if your mother-in-law was coming over for Thanksgiving dinner. Make sure you don’t forget the window sills and little nooks and crannies, dry wall dust gets everywhere. Be meticulous in the kitchen and baths. You should feel comfortable eating your next meal off the floor.
Home Staging Tip #2: Bring a friend or family member
This person needs to not have an emotional connection to the house. You want an unbiased eye to help highlight the positives and distract from any negatives.
Home Staging Tip #3: Pick a Staging Point.
Go to each major room in the house (i.e. Kitchen, Bathrooms, Living room) and select an attractive part of the room to highlight. An example in the living room would be a fireplace. Simply put a mirror or painting on the mantel with some candles and a few logs in the fireplace and you just staged! It’s simple as that. Now your buyer is able to visualize enjoying a roaring fire on a chilly winter night in their new house!
Take advantage of these staging tips before putting your flip house on the market. Your goal is to enhance the “WOW” factor a buyer gets as they preview the property. This will maximize your time. Back to TIP #1 CLEAN, Make sure your contractor cleans up after themselves every night to ensure time isn’t wasted when you are ready to clean. TIP #2 Also talk to your friend or family member that you are going to involve. Tell them what your objective is, as they will be more helpful if they know your goal. TIP #3, you can save a lot of time by picking the features in advance that you want to highlight. If you are unsure of your own style, don’t be afraid to ask a store clerk or friend for help. You can accomplish half the work of staging before your project is finished. Stick to a tight time line and don’t waste a minute. Every wasted minute is narrowing your profits.
Real Estate Investing Basics Tip #1 – The Best Investors Understand Marketing
Marketing is the first area of the business you should study as a beginning real estate investor. Marketing is what makes the phone ring and generates leads. Leads are the lifeblood of your business. They are the oxygen your business breaths. The more leads you have the more money you will make. If you don’t have leads, then you won’t buy any properties. If you don’t buy any properties then you can’t make any money. If you can’t make any money then you can’t build a business. As a result you should spend the majority of your time figuring out how to get your phone to ring with motivated sellers. (The same thing can be said for dating!)
Successful marketing is an art, and those who understand marketing set themselves apart from other investors. There must be a mindset shift as an investor. You are not in the business of flipping homes. You are in the business of generating leads from people who want to sell their home under market value. If you can do this you will control the market and you will figure out the rest of the business very quickly. If you have a potential $80,000.00 dollar pay day on the other end of the phone believe me you learn quickly.
There are many different forms of marketing you can utilize to get your phone ringing. Direct mail, billboards, TV, cold calling, and networking are all marketing strategies you can use to find deals. The key is to narrow down your market and find your target, develop a compelling message with an irresistible offer, and consistently touch these people with multiple marketing mediums. Then you will want to develop marketing systems so you can repeat this process over and over again.
Real Estate Investing Basics Tip #2 – Wholesale Properties to Build Your Cash Cushion
Once you find the deal now you have to find someone who is willing to buy the deal from you at a higher price. This is where wholesaling comes into play. Wholesaling is the business of finding bargains and selling the deals to bargain hunters at a higher price. You are not adding value to the property. Wholesaling properties should be essential part of every real estate investors business. It is a way to generate income with little to no risk. Many times, you never take ownership of the property – you simply are the transaction coordinator. In essence, you are bringing a buyer and a seller together. Through your marketing efforts, you locate deals and then you assign them to other investors that you locate through your various forms of marketing. If your marketing machine is in motion, you should have no problem finding buyers. Successful marketing and networking in the real estate community will enable you to find wholesale buyers.
Real Estate Investing Basics Tip #3 – Rehabbing for Large Profits
Rehabbing is when you redevelop the property yourself instead of wholesaling the property to someone else. This is where the larger profits lie. The reason is you will be selling the property to a retail buyer who will be willing to pay full market value for the property as opposed to a another investor who is looking for a discount.
Rehabbing is an entire business in itself and there is a lot you need to learn about this niche. It is important if you choose to include rehabbing in your business that you spend time educating yourself first. Learning pricing of labor and materials as well as whom are the qualified contractors in your area is essential to rehabbing properties.
Being able to add value to properties through renovations is a not only very profitable, but also very rewarding. You are providing a great service, not only to the city in which you do business, but also to the end buyer of your newly remodeled home. When you become experienced at rehabbing you will have the confidence to be able to take on projects that many people would never even consider. This separates you from the other investors and creates more opportunities for you in that real estate market.
Kitchens are the main selling point of any house and therefore should be given proper consideration with regards to layout, design, functionality, finishing materials and adding “sizzle” features. This room is a vital component of any home and is usually the most frequently used space by a homeowner. The kitchen is also the most challenging part of the house to design and rehab, as it is made up of many components and requires coordination between all members of the rehabbing team. Though it is one of the most expensive parts of the house to upgrade, it is also the room that returns the most for every dollar invested.
Some features that should be considered in most kitchens:
This design concept connects the kitchen with the living room where the families gather to have meals and enjoy entertainment. This concept can be applied through completely knocking out the wall between the kitchen and the living room; removing the top portion of the wall and creating a counter-top/bar feel or creating a picture window opening to connect two spaces together. In this step, it is important to answer the following questions:
Cabinets are the most visible part of a kitchen and generally its most expensive component. Therefore proper consideration must be given to this decision, as kitchen cabinets constitute one of the main selling points of a kitchen and therefore of a house. A good rule of thumb is to use comparable properties on the market as a measuring stick for quality of cabinets used. It is also a good idea to visit any new construction sites in the neighborhood to see what is “in style” for your target market. New cabinets typically come in one of three forms: stock cabinets, semi-custom cabinets, and custom cabinets. On average, cabinets represent roughly half the cost of a complete kitchen remodeling. Due to the high cost, it is worth careful consideration with regards to kitchen design.
Some important design features to consider are:
Properly selecting the material type of the counter-top greatly enhances the functionality and appeal of a kitchen. Single family kitchens ideally should have a few different work areas. That means you need to plan for this in your initial kitchen design layout. Work areas are defined as 36 inches of continuous counter-top. Today there are so many choices of material to use, here are a few of the most common:
These are kitchen design features that are added that help sell the house. They make the kitchen “pop” and stand out among the other houses on the market. As we teach in our rehabbing course you should always try to include at least 4 “sizzle features”:
Kitchens sell homes
You hear that all the time because it is true. Choosing the correct layout, design and finishing materials will help you sell your home quickly and maximize your profit. You will get the most dollar return for dollar spent in the kitchen design. We always teach to stay within a budget, but if you want to add a little something extra in your rehab, the kitchen is one of the best places to do this. A well thought out design, quality materials and dramatic lighting will make the kitchen the best room in the house. So get out there and start planning that perfect space.
Competition is everywhere. Knowing and understanding your competition is crucial. Knowing the benefits they are offering that you are not, what their reputation is compared to yours, and how they are structuring their deals are all things you need to know. By knowing what your competition is doing, it can help you establish an advantage. One of the best things you can do to gain a competitive edge immediately is research your competition. The old saying “keep your friends close and your enemies closer” always rings true in this competitive world of real estate investing. I am constantly on the lookout as to what other investors in my area are doing. If you are new to analyzing your competitors, let me tell you it is pretty easy to do. There are a lot of ways to research your competition. Some of these are:
Go to your local REIA and network
Real Estate Investing Tip #1: Study Your Competition
You need to study your competition in order to understand how you can differentiate your marketing and be more appealing to sellers. You are offering a service that people need. And you need to do it in a way that is more attractive to your customers than your competition. Find out what benefits your competitors are offering and then offer better ones. If your competitors aren’t helping people find apartments to move into, you need to make this one of your specialties. If your competition is doing lease backs, then you need to find a better alternative. It is important to find these positive benefits unique to your business that can be easily stated and remembered. That way, when people hear about the benefits or read about them, they always know it is your company.
One of the best ways to find out about what your competition is doing is to ask the sellers that call you and that you meet with. There is no better way to study your competition than going right to the source. Whenever I have a meeting with a seller I always want to know who I am competing with and what they are offering. Many times I have been sitting at the kitchen table with a seller and asked to see what other letters they have received. You will be surprised because most sellers will willingly give you everything that has been mailed to them. I will then take these letters back to my office and read them and compare and contrast what their marketing pieces to what I am sending out. Most of the time I realize how weak most of my competitors are, but there are a few times I have actually gotten a few good ideas from these letters or conversations with these sellers.
Real Estate Investing Tip #2: Know How Your Competitors Structure Deals
Additionally, you always want to know how your competitors are structuring their deals. I have often used this information against them by strengthening my offer. For example, if another investor makes a higher offer “subject to” the existing mortgage, I will let the seller know the risks of subject to deals. If the seller is making a cash offer then I will generally make a higher offer “subject to.” There is nothing wrong with doing this as long as you don’t bad mouth your competition. Bad mouthing your competition is short sighted thinking, as it may get back to them and can only cause trouble.
You should also try and monitor where your competition is spending their marketing money. Investigate and estimate how much money they are spending especially if they are using other forms of marketing you have not yet tried. It is fairly easy to keep tabs on your competitors and you can always use that information to your advantage.
It is important to remember that your customers have options when it comes to buying and selling. Their options are not just your competitors. For instance, a seller in foreclosure has numerous options they can explore. They can:
Those are only a few of their options. Your goal is to show them and convince them that by working with you it is in their best interest. Your marketing should be convincing enough to get them to at least call you before they explore other options. From there it is up to you to convince them that the other options are not in their best interest.
Real Estate Investing Tip #4: Your Marketing Should Never Stop
Realize that your marketing does not stop at the initial contact. It appears in the way you dress when you show up for the appointment, in the marketing materials you bring to the house, and in the way you present yourself during the meeting. It then carries on to your follow-up marketing if you were not able to put the transaction together in the first meeting. Likewise, after the transaction is complete, your referral network grows and your future marketing is positively affected.
The best way to start preparing your marketing is to make a list of all the options a seller has and then bullet point out some advantages of dealing with you instead of going another route. This way, sellers are compelled to call you because you have shown them you can fix their problem. These will most likely be the biggest benefits you will use in your marketing pieces. These will also be the points you use when handling their objections over the phone or in person.
Real Estate Investing Tip #5: Build Your Foundation
If you avoid some of the pitfalls discussed above and apply the principles mentioned, you should be on your way to building a very strong base for your real estate business. Remember, no business can be structurally sound without a proper foundation built on the quality and frequency of sound marketing.
Social media wasn’t around during the Cold War, of course. But the term “social listening” does conjure the image of marketers in ushankas, huddled around a Twitter feed, like half-frozen Siberian spies parsing transmissions for intel.
Social listening is really just a subset of a larger discipline called “brand monitoring” by big companies and their big expensive agencies. They eavesdrop on the Twittersphere and other online sources, mining traffic for comments about their companies, products and leaders.
Not Just for Big Brands
The good news is that most small businesses can implement some form of brand monitoring or social listening. But to succeed, you’ll need a purpose, a plan and some patience—and a Twitter account to serve as your company’s listening outpost.
So Why Listen?
Central to any integrated marketing initiative is being crystal clear about why you’re doing it.
A very good AdAge.com article, summarized below, cites three important but very different strategic reasons for social listening:
Be Patient and Persistent
Planning and implementing a social listening program can take many months and man-hours. Ditto for the other critical piece of the social listening puzzle: learning to mine and interpret results.
But with patience and the right approach, social listening can yield many new competitive advantages, including: deeper customer insights and connections, a more authoritative market presence, and the confidence to guide your brand’s social marketing narrative. And what red-blooded Western marketer wouldn’t say “da” to that?
Flipping a house is becoming incredibly popular again, but for those recently looking to get into real estate investing, it may seem complicated. Those new to the industry may wonder how it works, how it is different from other investment strategies and what its benefits are?
Industry insiders classify flipping a house as buying, renovating and reselling a home.
The extent to which homes are improved can vary widely from ‘prehabbing’ (clearing out and creating a blank slate) to modest cosmetic home improvements like painting and landscaping. Experienced investors may prefer full on remodels with new roofs, additions and kitchens.
Some of the reasons real estate investors choose to flip a house are associated with their preferred investing strategy. These may include: speed of seeing returns, avoiding the risk the of long term holding, capturing larger lump sums of cash in the short term, and because it is a lot of fun and therapeutic.
There is nothing wrong with building a portfolio of rental properties, building new homes, investing in mortgages or most other real estate investing strategies. It is important to determine, whether or not, flipping a house is right for you.
Wholesaling homes, or simply flipping real estate contracts can be profitable as well. However, those addicted to flipping houses prefer that they are able to get in and revitalize communities and create profits in any market.
Flipping a house is a great way for investors to diversify from these other real estate investing strategies while generating wealth. It can increase profits, recapitalize and boost funds for rentals and allow them to flex their creative muscles.
However, one of the best reasons to make it your initial focus as a new real estate investor is the ease of entry. Without making it sound too good to be true, flipping houses really can be done with little money out of pocket, even with poor credit and for fast profits.
Will rising mortgage interest rates really have an impact on real estate wholesalers?
We all know that interest rates have to go up. We’ve enjoyed sickly sweet low mortgage rates for a long time and while predictions of increases really haven’t become a reality until now, real estate investing pros and the public can’t be fooled into a false sense of security.
Rates recently hit a 12 month high and are expected to keep rising. The markets will demand it, bankers need it and while not all will be pleased about paying more in interest, it will mean higher yields on savings and more fuel for economic growth.
No one expects interest rates to soar out of control in the short term. However, historical cycles suggest that double digit rates could well be on the horizon within the next decade.
For real estate wholesalers this may not seem like much of a concern. After all, most of those flipping houses only use leverage for extremely short periods of time, and if you aren’t holding the debt you won’t be paying interest on it. Plus, access to more loans and easier borrowing is probably a welcome tradeoff for most investors flipping homes.
We are already seeing this with lenders and mortgage brokers becoming the most aggressive we’ve seen in almost a decade. This is especially true of hard money lenders and commercial mortgage brokers offering blanket funding and bridge loans. Just hop on LinkedIn or get on a few lists and you’ll probably be bombarded with lenders looking to make loans today.
With this said, it is still critical for investors and especially wholesalers to remember that rates are a factor when it comes to resale. Higher rates will affect both retail borrowers and buy and hold investors. While this doesn’t mean you will see any dip in volume or interest, you made to moderate prices to compensate for this.
Finally, remember to use this trend in rising rates as motivation to get more buyers to pull the trigger now, and fuel to move more units right away. With these rates, there is still timeto get into the wholesale business.
How can you better guarantee profits and profit margins when flipping houses today?
According to a recent media article, some real estate investors in areas of the country are finding it increasingly difficult to produce anticipated profits after flipping houses. How can you prevent this from happening to you?
Similar situations may not be uncommon today, but that does not indicate a major change in the velocity of the new housing boom or that it’s too late to get into flipping houses.
So how can you avoid falling into that boat, lower risk and enjoy better profit margins when flipping houses in today’s market?
1. Real Estate Education
Investing in your real estate education will have the biggest returns of anything you do and will keep on paying you back into eternity.
2. Lock in Your Profit When You Buy
Don’t speculate. Always buy low and lock in profit upfront. If possible, have it sold already so that you are guaranteed profits before you even write the contract.
3. Be Careful What You Put in
One of the biggest traps in flipping houses today is over improving, under improving or simply investing in the wrong improvements. Know your stuff and what the real returns on them will be.
4. Do Your Due Diligence
Don’t invest without thorough due diligence. Know your values front and back end and recognize you need more tools than just Zillow to accurately assess them.
5. Don’t Allow Appraisal Contingencies
You might want to include them when making offers to buy homes, but don’t allow them when you sell – that’s so 2001.
Have you been looking for more private mortgage money?
Great news is emerging for those real estate investors who having been searching for more capital…
Hard money and transactional lenders have been promoting their services more than ever recently and even conventional mortgage lenders and banks have begun to offer more incentives to borrowers to take out new loans.
Of course some real estate investing pros just prefer private mortgage lenders for the lower interest and fees, speed, control and ease of doing business. If that’s you then thanks to Ben Bernanke and the Fed it could be getting a lot easier for you this week.
Bloomberg reported this week that mortgage REITs are losing money, losing investors and losing returns in response to the Federal Reserve plan to buy up mortgage debt and the number of homeowners refinancing thanks to low mortgage rates and the $25 billion mortgage settlement.
Investing in mortgages may still be a great investment but giant REITs are bleeding investors due to a drop in returns and are showing investors how investing in publicly traded stocks is incredibly risky and volatile compared to direct investment in real estate, mortgage notes or private partnerships.
It doesn’t matter if you are up 99% in a day if you can lose it all tomorrow. Fortunately this isn’t an issue private lenders need to worry about with investing directly in mortgage notes or flipping houses for that matter.
According to the Bloomberg report annual dividend yields on these big home loan REITs have been around 13%. That’s not bad, and at least far out beats the S&P 500 performance.
Maybe you don’t want to giveaway those types of returns but at least you as a real estate investor can offer a much better investment vehicle which will be safer and more consistent.
Strike on this opportunity and close more private lenders. Don’t just build great presentation materials showing the strength and track record of what you are offering but contrast it with the downside of investing elsewhere too.
Feeling insulted is normal. But don’t let it get in the way of what might be a good deal.
You’ve invested a great deal in this house. So when the time comes to put it on the market, you expect potential buyers to recognize its true value. But sometimes, you get an offer that’s so far below your asking price it feels like someone pitched a baseball straight at your stomach.
Should you simply walk away from such a number? Or does it make sense to pause and weigh your options? Here are some points to consider before you decide:
#1 Is It Really Low-Ball, or Just Lower Than You Wanted?
Some agents define a low-ball offer as 25% or more below list. In areas where there’s a shortage of available homes, that figure may drop to 20%.
“What defines low-ball varies from market to market and even submarket to submarket, but certainly from price range to price range,” says Steve McLinden of Bankrate.com.
In other words, it’s likely that an offer of $80,000 on a $100,000 home will be more quickly dismissed than a $1.6 million offer on a $2 million home, he says.
#2 Should You Immediately Reject a Low-Ball Bid?
Although your feelings may be hurt, giving in to the drama monster won’t get your house sold. “When the low-ball offer comes in it can be upsetting, but it doesn’t have to be,” says Bill Gassett of RE/MAX Executive Realty in Hopkinton, Mass. “The fact that someone wants to buy your home is a good thing and you should deal with every offer — unless it’s just completely ridiculous.”
What constitutes a “ridiculous” offer? Anything significantly less than 25% below your list price should probably trigger warning bells. However, it pays to rely on your agent’s expertise to help you decide on the right response.
Countering, rather than ignoring, a low offer is often the smartest strategy. A counter to a low-ball offer “shows buyers you’re willing to work with them,” says Eric Snyder of Douglas Elliman in Boca Raton, Fla. After all, he reasons, “it’s not about where buyers start, it’s where they end up.”
And you’ll never have a chance of getting to that final number if you allow your emotions to cloud your judgment.
#3 Is Your Price Too High?
Sometimes when a seller receives one — or more — low-ball bids, it may be because the asking price for the home is out of step with the market.
Before you set a price, your agent will provide you with comps – for-sale listings of similar properties in the area — along with a pricing recommendation. Your best bet is pricing that reflects the comps. If you decide to “test” a higher price, you might have to tweak your price to invite more reasonable offers, which is just going to delay the sale.
#4 What Do You Really Need?
There may be factors involved in selling your home that are more important to you than price. Perhaps you need to sell quickly because you’re buying another home. Maybe an all-cash deal would make your life a lot easier. There are a number of potential deal sweeteners that a potential buyer could provide that may make a low offer more appealing. These include:
#5 Will You Look Too Desperate?
Don’t worry about how your willingness to entertain a low-ball offer is perceived. What matters most is the result, says McLinden.
“Some sellers get so wrapped up in righteous indignation following an ‘insulting’ offer that they tell their agent to refuse all further communication from the offender,” he says. And while that may soothe your wounded ego, it won’t help sell your house.