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“Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.” ~ Albert Einstein
About a year ago, British Airways created an amazing billboard and put it near an airport. When an airplane would take off at the airport, the billboard would detect it. On the billboard, a little kid would follow the plane, pointing at it, until he ran past the end of the screen. When the plane was gone, he would run back into view. The billboard actually interacted with the world outside.
How did they do that? I have no idea.
If you’ve seen that billboard video, you’ve seen an example of “augmented reality.” (If you haven’t seen the video, you can find it by Googling “British Airways interactive billboard.”). Essentially, augmented reality adds digital content to real-life objects. The object could be an ad in a magazine, or it could be a famous painting, or it could be a house you just passed on the road. The essence is this: Point your tablet at it, and stuff happens. That stuff could be a link to a phone number, a video or animation you can watch, or other statistics about the thing you’re looking at. In the case of a house, it could tell you the price, square footage, and comps for the area. It could even give you a tour of the inside of the house. Read More >>
One of the best ways I know of to grow personal wealth is by creating multiple streams of income in your life and in your business. In an uncertain economy, it is important not to place “all your eggs in one basket.” In order to protect your income long term you need to consider diversifying your investments so whether in a bad economy or a good economy you still have income from some of your investments.
As a real estate entrepreneur, there are several ways for you to accomplish this goal. One way to create multiple streams of income has to do with the way you purchase properties and structure your deals. You can wholesale properties for immediate income, or you can lease/option properties so you get some money today, some each month and a big chunk of cash at the end. When you do a lease/option with a tenant buyer, just remember to increase the initial asking price of the property by at least ten percent so you realize the gain in property values over the year. If you extend your lease/option for a second year, you get another chunk of cash; you increase the price again and continue to get a monthly income from it.
You can also hold onto rental properties and have someone else manage them for you. This way, you get to go the mailbox, get checks and not have to do any of the work or deal with the tenants. Apartment complexes and storage units are another great stream of income, especially when they are managed by someone else. Not only do you realize the gain on the property long-term but the monthly checks are even bigger. Read More >>
We always hear how it is important to get a solid Buyers list whether large or small but ultimately of people that can perform. One such Buyer that is relatively untapped for wholesalers are Builders. These are in many ways some of my favorite Buyers because they can oftentimes pay higher prices than investor Buyers who have to hire them. Let’s take a look at why this is:
When you start mixing some of these potentials savings together, you can see how they can pay more for a house than an investor can thus making the difference in having a deal done vs having no Buyer. Let’s look at a specific example. Read More >>
QuickBooks simplifies and speeds up your daily accounting work, but you’re missing out on valuable insight if you don’t tailor your report data.
Do you remember why you started using QuickBooks? You may have simply wanted to produce sales forms and record payments electronically. Gradually, you expanded your use of the software, perhaps paying and tracking bills through it and keeping an eagle eye on your inventory levels. Certainly, you’ve run at least some of the pre-built report templates offered by all versions of QuickBooks since their inception.
QuickBooks’ automation of your daily bookkeeping tasks has undoubtedly served you well. But that’s merely limited use; now it’s time to take advantage of QuickBooks’ greatest strength: customizable reports.
One of the rewards for diligently entering all of your accounting information is a better grasp of your company’s financial performance to date. That insight ultimately leads to better business decisions that can contribute to your future growth and success. Read More >>
People often ask me, “Russ, how do you stay so motivated, confident, and upbeat?”
My answer? I know my assets, and I make sure that I have more assets than liabilities.
Do you know your assets?
Knowing your assets will allow you to assess whether or not you are heading in the right direction. It will show you if you are winning or losing. I like to know what my assets are because it builds my self-esteem and feeds my ego. There is nothing like a good ego boost!
Here are the 4 types of assets:
Physical/ Money Assets
When we think of assets, we typically think of money! But there is much more than that. There are physical assets. Read More >>
There are certain expenses a real estate entrepreneur will have in the business, and the more it ramps up, the more these expenses will increase along with revenue.
Fortunately for us, our overhead is extremely small. And when I say extremely, let me do a few comparisons for you:
When my restaurant was open, my break-even was approximately $100,000 per month. That’s just what it took to keep the doors open, including all the costs inherent in a restaurant and most other businesses like labor, insurance, utilities, product, etc. The food alone was $.40 of every dollar that came through the door. That’s a tough nut to crack for any business, especially when you’re dealing with small numbers like those found on your dinner check. There were many times I wish I could sell a filet mignon for $10,000 like we get out of houses with little overheard and very little work.
In the restaurant business, we’re open for lunch and dinner most of the time. There were always at least 12-15 people on duty with over 50 employees total, open seven days a week, and a manager or assistant manager had to be there 100% of the time. If that manager happens to be the boss, that pretty much sucks up that life. Read More >>
Welcome back...again! Quick refresher: We’ve been discussing two classic & powerful, tried & true real estate investing strategies:
Wholesaling and Lease Options, aka “Ugly” vs. “Pretty”.
Part One of this series was devoted to Wholesaling, and Part Two was focused on Lease Options. Examples were given. Terms discussed. Money put on the table. Moving on...
Whenever a ‘newby’ investor asks me where they should start, I usually tell them that wholesaling is a great way to earn some great money while learning the business, so they should consider starting there. After a while, and when their marketing starts generating leads from pretty house sellers, I tell them that it’s a great idea to learn that part of the business so that they can start to make money from those leads as well.
It’s a beautiful thing when a deal fits easily into a ‘type’ of transaction we know how to do, and it’s even more beautiful when all the stars are in alignment & a deal closes smoothly. But we live in the real world here, right? Besides, we’re problem solvers, and that’s why we get paid the big bucks! :) Read More >>
Last Saturday, I took thirteen real estate investors from the Chattanooga Real Estate Investors Association door-knocking. Before heading out, we discussed how to make a written offer to a seller.
The group had a number of questions: 1) How do I find a property’s fair market value? 2) How do I discover market rents in the area? 3) How do I make a written offer right there on the spot?
The first thing to remember is that an offer is different from a purchase contract. A purchase contract is often a formal document written in legalese that no one – especially the buyer and seller – understands. On the other hand, an offer can be written in plain English on a Post-it note that makes sense to everyone! (NOTE: On North Georgia REIA’s Facebook page, you’ll see three of the written offers I made in Chattanooga.)
Randy Shelley is an investor who lives in that area. We spent the day knocking doors in his subdivision. Though he already knew the fair market values and approximate rents for his neighborhood, I asked him not to share this information with the group. Read More >>
My wife Stephanie and I have been doing Creative Real Estate Deals for over 30 years. In fact we have done close to 2,000 of them with none of our own money or credit.
We have mentored hundreds of students across the country and Canada. We love to teach what we do to others and our reward is watching them succeed.
Well, back in 2007 the market started turning down and we all know about the Greatest Recession of all times that followed. We quickly found that a lot of the techniques we were using suddenly were not working anymore. So we created a technique that we actually had used since we started investing and named it ACT, or Agreeable Contract Terms.
With ACT, we were able to get sellers to give us terms or pricing that was agreeable to us right up front. This worked for about 2 ½ years. Then in 2012, the market started changing again. It became more of a retail market. Have you talked to a seller lately? I bet they want ‘CASH, Full Retail, or More than Retail’ for their home, right? Well, we are seeing this across the country. Read More >>
At Fortris we have several levels of Mentoring and in the past one of these levels was the Generals Club. That club has now been retired. But several years ago we opened it up to 8 investors. The concept was total immersion into the tax sale business and working through an entire deal utilizing the General’s capital while teaching them the entire process of construction management, sales, the associated legalities, and the basics on how to become a very successful real estate investor. At the end of the project we gave the General back all their investment, as well as their mentoring fee plus half the profit on the project they had been tasked with. Currently we still maintain partnership investments with five of the original eight members.
Ann S., one of our Generals, invests in the city of Baltimore which is a very tough market. Baltimore doesn’t allow any scraping of tax sale data from their site, so we needed to pull all the enhanced lists manually. The bidding process is different than any other I've ever seen. First the interest rate is bid down which means that you can offer to take a lower rate of interest payment to win the lien. It is also a sealed bid including a premium offer you are willing to pay, over and above the interest, added in. The county processes all the submissions and the best combination of bid and premium gets the lien. If the property does not redeem, the bid will be packaged according to the best offer combination. For example, if the lien is $5000 and the interest rate is 24%, the bidder may structure their offer to take 7% interest on the $5,000 certificate and then pay a premium of an additional $6,000 above the lien cost if the lien does not redeem. A fairly complicated structure. All the premium bids are sealed and no re-bids are possible. You only get one crack at getting it so you have to use your opportunity to make your best offer possible. Read More >>
Like most investors, I too send out yellow letters to distressed homeowners. Obviously, the intention is to find a property that can be acquired below market in order to make a profit. In most cases the properties that are contracted are either sold as a wholesale deal or are purchased to be renovated and sold. In a few instances the opportunity to contract a property subject-to presents itself but this situation is not usually what you expect it to be. Let me describe my most recent experience with a potential subject-to situation.
Most investors already know what a subject-to is but for those that do not let me give you a simple explanation. A subject-to is when a homeowner deeds the property to the buyer but the mortgage that the homeowner has remains in place. When the buyer is deeded the property he/she now owns the home “subject-to” the existing mortgage. In other words, the buyer will begin to make the mortgage payment or find a renter or new homeowner to do so in order for the buyer to one day own the home free and clear. Read More >>
Picture this: a man purchases a house in 2007 with a loan from a major mortgage lender who then securitizes the loan. After 7 years of making payments, the homeowner loses his job and defaults on the loan. The lender sends a foreclosure notice to the homeowner, claiming the ability to foreclose on the loan. But does the lender actually have the right to foreclose? The answer is a bit complicated, and does not look good for the major banks. To understand why, let’s take a closer look at exactly what the banks did and what it means for homeowners and real estate investors.
When a loan was securitized it was lumped together with a massive pool of loans and then sold in parts to investors around the world. The investors were then paid from the principal and interest payments on the loans based on their percentage of ownership. It sounds simple enough. If it was that simple, why did mortgage lenders begin the process by selling each loan in the massive pool of loans through a sequence of sales? And why was the last sale almost invariably to a single-purpose entity, usually a trust with a major bank as the trustee? The point of this sequence of sales was to separate the pool of loans from the assets and liabilities of the originating lender. They did this in case the lender was to file for bankruptcy or go into receivership. If the loan had not been completely separated from the lender, the lender could then claim the loan by right of redemption, effectively leaving the investors with nothing.
If the homeowner continues to make their payments, this is the end of the process for them until they have paid off the loan. If the homeowner misses payments and the foreclosure process begins on their loan, that's when things get hairy. Read More >>
One of my favorite business books is Good To Great by Jim Collins. In this book Mr. Collins gives a great example that I realized applied to me when I was building my real estate business and will apply to you too. The author gives us an example of a great big fly wheel. He describes this as a giant metal disk on a thin pole. Imagine this disk weighs thousands of pounds and is currently stationary. Your job is to get this disk spinning.
It is easy to imagine that it will take time and effort to get the giant, heavy wheel to spin. You will begin with a single shove on the wheel. Very little will occur with this initial input from you. The wheel may move very slightly. You will push and push and the wheel will slowly start to move. Your effort will be great and the results will be minimal. Shove and shove and shove…the giant wheel begins to spin slightly faster and faster.
At a certain magical point the wheel will become much easier to spin. The weight of the wheel is now working for you. Its own momentum will keep it spinning with very little effort on your part. You can now give small gentle pushes and the wheel will keep spinning on its own. Read More >>
As investors we have to be mindful of some basic principles. While knowing the value of a property is extremely important, real estate investment itself can prove to be particularly challenging.
Knowing the true value of real estate is critical, try to do a deal without it and see. The guidance and data within REIAComps.com has consistently shown investors how to determine both solid acquisition value and after repair value to earn lasting profits.
Use the following six things to get a handle on your business before you start pouring money into a real estate investment.
1. You must be honest and realistic when working with others.
If you want to separate yourself from the competition, tell the truth.
There are a handful of opportunities where you can make a large amount of money in a relatively small amount of time. Real estate is one of them. However, it seems these types of businesses also tend to attract the less than desirable. Read More >>
Plan for retirement
What should you do with your Real Estate IRA? If you are a Baby Boomer, you may want to consider using a Real Estate IRA to purchase that dream home before you hit retirement. Then, when you reach age 59 ½, you can take the home as a distribution and begin enjoying your new retirement home. Remember, you may not use this home for your own personal use until you reach 59 ½ and take the home as a distribution.
One important point that people forget when talking about taking a home as a distribution is the taxes due on distributions. If the home was held in a Traditional IRA, then taxes will be due on the amount of the distribution (the appraised value of the home) in accordance with the individual’s tax bracket. That’s why most people recommend using a Roth IRA for this strategy. With a Roth IRA, taxes are due at the time contributions are made, after that all profits grow tax-free and since you paid the taxes at the time the contributions were made, distributions are tax-free as long as you have reached age 59 ½ and the account has been open for at least 5 years. Read More >>
There are times when we are going to purchase a short sale and then rehab the property for a higher profit. During the rehab on the property, I take my partners shopping. We go to Home Depot and look at all the items I normally put in my cookie cutter houses and I show them why I have chosen each and every product. Then they get to pick their own products and we discuss the price differences to analyze the affect on our profit. It is really fun shopping for an entire house in Home Depot, but the bottom line is to save money. After our trip to Home Depot, we will head over to the cabinet shop if it is a higher end property and we will pick the cabinets and handles. Then we are off to the granite company with a piece of floor tile and a cabinet door so that we can match our granite throughout the house. I call this program my Mentor Program as I bring everything I have learned and taught through my Real Estate Junkie course to my students. By the time we are done, it’s been a “power-shoppin’ day!”
I always recommend that you have a Pro Account at Home Depot which gives me an automatic 10% off everything and if you are a member of a REIA group, you can save another 2% so … working with me already has saved you the cost of a new kitchen on the rehab or more. Read More >>
“Americans spend 3 billion hours per year filling out tax forms and keeping tax records.” ~ Jim Ramstad
There are two things I’ll never do again: first, teach one of my own kids how to drive; and second, help my Aunt May file her tax returns. I’m pretty sure you know Aunt May, or someone just like her. She’s a really sweet lady whose house looks spotlessly organized until you open a drawer or a closet. When she hints that she needs help with her taxes, you volunteer. I mean, she needs you, and she’s so nice! How hard could it be?
Anyway, that’s what I thought. But a day before taxes were due, Aunt May came over with six boxes full of paper. Six boxes! Each contained every manner of paper from receipts to bank statements to movie tickets to Christmas cards. Everything under the sun – except the things I needed. It took sixteen hours, eight aspirins, and three pots of coffee to figure out that she was getting a refund of $1.47. Nope. I adore my Aunt May, but I’m not going through that again.
I’ve never been quite as disorganized as Aunt May, but I’ve certainly had my moments. I discovered pretty quickly that I had better organize my business so I could find what I needed, when I needed it. When you’re trying to convince a potential seller that you run an organized, professional operation, it’s best if you can find the contract they signed. Read More >>
As an active investor, I get a ton of deals regularly from other wholesalers especially with springtime rolling in. They come in all sorts of shapes, forms, fonts, graphics and so forth. While they all have a variety of information, it is rare that ads come with enough information to make a decision on whether it is worth spending time on them. So as a Buyer as well as a wholesaler, I thought I would share some do’s and don’ts to apply when you put ads out to your Buyers to set yourself up for success.
DO put the address – I am amazed at why anyone would think I would look at a deal without an address but it happens.
DO think like a homeowner wanting a perfect house to describe repairs – This is what your Buyer is going to be aiming for. As an example, you may be ‘ok’ with the minor carpet stain however that won’t cut it when your Buyer’s Buyer will want new carpet. Description trumps number estimates since each Buyer has their own contractor with their own pricing.
DO give comparable sales that make sense – radically mixing styles of homes, comps that are too far away for the geographic area, large square footage differences, ignoring unique features such as lakefront, acreage and many more considerations can radically affect what are the best comps. Read More >>
It is the goal of this column to answer questions about QuickBooks and how it is used in the REI arena. Know how to record transactions in the proper way and have your set of books in good shape when it comes time for taxes. It is our intention to do this by you the members submitting questions to Karen@smallbusinessadvisor.biz, and getting answers here in this column.
Q: From time to time I have an entry that I really don’t know how to enter properly. It may be a deposit or a check and I don’t know where to either show the income or the expense. Where can I put this until I can find out from my CPA how to handle it?
A: Create an account named ‘SUSPENSE” and make the type of account a “Bank”. It will live on the balance sheet and will immediately get the attention of your CPA. If you use only this account for these types of entries you can eliminate the Miscellaneous, Uncategorized and Ask my Accountant accounts. Too often these types of accounts get used and the information is scattered across them instead of being in one single account. I usually delete these accounts after I have moved all the transactions to their proper place and then only have Suspense to work with. Read More >>
I actually added this to our lease after a tenant called us at 6:30 one evening to tell us her kitchen sink was stopped up. It turned out that her small child had stuck a cup down into the garbage disposal. It just needed to be removed. The way my lease reads now, that tenant would be charged a fee of $65.00 to have my repair guy go out for something that wasn’t a repair. This one clause will save you from a lot of unnecessary trips to your units for repairs.
I also have someone who checks my rental units every sixty days or so to make sure they are being cared for properly and that the tenant has not added animals that are not on the lease. We also make sure they have not moved in any more people who are not on the lease. This is grounds for immediate eviction. Within the body of our lease, we also cover how long visitors can stay as well so there is a clear definition as to what a visitor is and what an extra tenant is. You can also hire a property management company to handle your units, but I just feel like our units are better handled by my staff. I also send letters to the neighbors surrounding my rental units letting them know that we are interested in any input they may have about my units and my tenants. The neighbors become kind of a watchdog for me to let me know if there are any problems I should know about. Read More >>