Easiest Way to Burn Money in Real Estate – Local Records Office

LOS ANGELES – One of the large mentorship programs – and star of a reality TV house flipping show – preaches debt stacking your real estate deals to reduce or eliminate yours out of pocket requirements according to the Local Records Office in Norwalk, CA.

Potential real estate flippers are sold on this because they hear that they will get infinite returns with little or no risk. On paper this sounds great but there are several fundamental problems with this, especially in the markets in which Pine Financial does business.

 

Paying for Bad Information That Doesn’t Help or It’s Outdated for 2016 Standards

 

The sad thing about this is that people pay $44,000 or more to learn this information. What’s worse is that people buy into this so much that they try to teach people how to do it or brag about how they do it on social networking sites like Facebook and at offline networking meetings. The purpose of this article is simply to share my experience with this way of operating and to try to protect you from falling into this trap.

We are in the middle of foreclosure with one of our clients in Los Angeles, CA. We are probably about halfway through the process but our client has the house under contract to sell. The problem is that there is not going to be enough money to pay us back and pay back all her “gap” funders.

I would define a gap funder as a private lender willing to lend on a piece of real estate in a junior position to cover the gap between what the primary lender is willing to lend and what the borrower wants or needs to get the deal done. The numbers on this deal look like this:

  • Purchase – $115,000
  • Repairs – $73,000
  • Our appraised value – $280,000
  • Our Loan – $196,000 (notice this is enough to buy and fix the house)
  • Gap funder Loans – $80,000 (3 different individuals)
  • Contract price – $225,000 (they will need to subtract costs to sell to get a net figure of available cash for all the lenders)

We were off on our value because the client made some fatal mistakes: she originally listed in the mid-$300s and it was not complete (that was way too high to list this house); there were very few price adjustments; the work that was done did not properly adjust the floor plan, and it just recently received an appliance package.

How can you expect to get top dollar when the house is not staged and it does not have appliances? It was on the market for over a year. The biggest problem was the floor plan but the fact that it sat on the market so long really hurt its true market value. Properties get a stigma if they have too much MLS exposure.

Buyers automatically think there is either something wrong with it or think they can get a bargain because the seller should be motivated. Had the house been listed closer to the true value of $270-$280k and listed after it was complete and staged, I am confident it would have sold for much closer to our original estimate of its value.

 

Borrowing Much Money for Rates That are Too High

 

The reason she had to borrow $80,000 above our loan was mostly because of holding costs, so a lot of that would have been eliminated had the property sold. I am not sure where the rest of the money went but it makes you wonder.

I have had conversations with two of the three gap funders and they all paid $44,000 to learn how to lose $80,000. They all have their sad story and to be honest it breaks my heart. One of the three spent all of their savings on this deal and will likely get none of it back. I am not sure what our client told these people to get them to invest with her but if any of it was misleading, there could be a fraud case here as well.

You might have noticed that the total loan to value based on our original value is 100%, which means that these lenders would likely take a loss even if the house sold for its full value.

With as bad as this deal turned out, we are still going to get our money back. This is why hard money lenders loan at 70% of the value. That leaves room for mistakes. In California and Nevada, there are hard money lenders that loan up to 70%.

If the deal is too much higher than that, the flipper probably should look at doing a different deal or consider cheaper funding sources like cash or a bank. The worst things flippers can do are borrowed hard money and then use gap funders, thus increasing costs and risk in the deal. It is my strong opinion that if a flipper needs gap funders they should not be doing the deal.

 

Gap Funding to Fund Portion of Profits

I have also heard of real estate investors who use gap funding to fund a portion of the profits upfront. (Is this what happened in my example?) I guess this is to help them with their lack of cash flow. Why in the world would they borrow their profit and pay interest and possibly fees on that money unless they really could not wait until they got the deal done?

If the client is not liquid enough to wait for their money, my guess is they are not liquid enough to handle a problem with their deal if there is one – unless, of course, they are borrowing more money. That is exactly what happened to our client in the above example.

I can go on and on but as sad is my story is, I have heard even worse. We get calls a few times a month from “gap” funders that need to foreclose but do not have the money to buy out the senior debtors.

They are asking us for money to either buy out the senior lenders or redeem from their junior position. If you don’t have the funds available to protect your loan you are really making an unsecured loan and could possibly be making the loan to an investor that does not have the ability or wherewithal to pay it back.

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Contracting A Trustworthy Contractor to Get the Job Done by Local Records Office

LOS ANGELES – There are three things every real estate investor needs in their arsenal: money, deals, and a good contractor (there are probably others, but these are key). Good contractors make life much easier. All too often people – myself included – don’t like the idea of hiring or interviewing people; it’s a daunting process.

 

Unfortunately, this can lead to rushing into choosing the first contractor that gives a bid just because it’s easier. We all know – even though we may not admit it out loud – that a little due diligence up front often pays off in the end. Hopefully this article will shed some light for those starting and maybe even some of the experienced investors out there. But, before we start interviewing, take a deep breath and relax – this is fun!

 

Contractors Are the Root of the Real Estate Market

 

Tip #1: Set up interviews for 4-6 contractors; 5 are often the sweet spot. Yes, this will ultimately mean that you have to tell someone they are not getting the job, but that’s okay. It’s business and as long as you keep it that way, you shouldn’t shy away. As a general rule, if you call 4 contractors, 1 will not show up/cancel, 1 will show up but not bid and 2 will give you bids. I don’t mean to insult or bring down contractors with this, but it’s often what we see.

 

The idea behind calling 4-6 is to get 3 bids total. If you get many more than three, it’s too much time and work to compare. Plus, if a contractor knows he’s bidding against 2 others for one job and 6 others for a second job, which one is he more likely to put the time into bidding on?

 

Tip #2: Have a detailed scope of work and provide each contractor with that scope for bidding. It’s really easy to walk into a property and say, “Here’s my project. I want some new lighting here, new kitchen there, some carpet and some paint.” This will only lead to confusion and an impossible comparison of contractors’ bids. Take the time to develop a clear, detailed scope of work.

 

This can be anywhere from 60-120 lines on a spreadsheet, depending on how big the job is. After you’ve developed a relationship with a contractor, then this may get a little more lax, but err on the side of details! Having a detailed, line-by-line scope will ensure that you and each contractor are on the same page both through the bidding and when the work is done.

 

One last note on this point is that contractors will often have their own way for bidding jobs. I understand that may be easy for them, but this is your project and if you want to be able to compare apples to apples, they need to use the scope you give them and price it the same way as everyone else. If you aren’t in control for something as simple as the scope of work, what’s going to happen when you have a difference of opinion on where that wall goes or when something needs to be completed?

 

Being Cheap May Cost You More

 

Tip #3: Cheaper isn’t always better. Don’t be afraid to pay your contractor for good work (you’re welcome contractors…). A good contractor can be worth what he charges. And you also have to consider the nature of the relationship early on. If this is the first job you’ve given a contractor, he’s probably not as keen to give you great pricing until you are able to keep him busy.

 

There are always exceptions to this, as sometimes the lowest bidder will do nice work. That’s great- hold on to them. But I think it’s more often that the lowest bidder gets selected, only to end up either over in time or budget, or even too difficult to work with. Getting references can often help with foreseeing these issues and that leads us to our next Tip.

 

Hire Licensed Contractors ONLY!

 

Tip #4: Make sure your contractor is willing to provide license, insurance, W9, and references. Any contractor that is serious will have each of these things and not shy away from providing them. License and insurance are pretty self-explanatory. You want to make sure your contractor is skilled in what he or she claims and is covered by insurance if there’s an accident.

 

The W9 is so that you aren’t paying his taxes at the end of the year. Equally important- if not most important – is the references. Get at least 3 references for good work and at least one for something that went wrong. Why something that went wrong? Because it is always going to happen- miscommunication, error in ordering, etc. It’s important to know how the issue was resolved. Don’t be afraid to have the contractor show you some of the jobs that they are currently working on.

 

Requirements and Restrictions Are Going to be Necessary

 

Tip #5: The contractor needs to be okay with your contract documents and the requirements in it. A good contractor will be okay with your contract; make sure it’s fair for each side. You may want to include a daily penalty for late work and/or a bonus for early work. Just make sure both sides agree and are happy with it.

 

Tip #6: Follow your gut. This is the last tip I have for you. Sometimes you’ll get to the end of your contractor selection process and the differences are negligible on paper. In this case, go with your gut. How did you feel while talking with them? Doing the walk-through? Go with that little tingle you feel in your gut, it’ll steer you where you need to go.

 

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Basic Real Estate Statistics Explained for Beginners – Local Records Office

LOS ANGELES, CA – Local Records Office is going to define some of the basic real estate statistics that get thrown around on a regular basis. To do that, we will use one real estate market, located in Los Angeles County. Even more granular, we will use the single-family numbers for homes in Long Beach, CA, a medium size city of approximately 500,000 residents, which has seen substantial real estate growth in the past 12 months. It is important when reviewing real estate statistics to use a group of numbers large enough for consistency, but granular enough to tell your story.

 

Real Estate Statistics for Newbies

 

Local Records Office says, “The statistics that we will be referencing are true and accurate for the year discussed but are being used to define the real estate statistic itself.”

 

We have chosen Long Beach, CA as our example because the growth of the local real estate market that make the statics stand out.

 

Anytime you are evaluating statistics, especially in real estate, the source of the numbers are extremely important. In most instances, the MLS (Multiple Listing Service) provides the most accurate numbers when referring to real estate says, Local Records Office. This is because they have all listings by all local real estate broker in their database. For the sake of explanation of the data, we will be looking at the numbers for home sales in Long Beach, CA, directly from the MLS. These numbers are meant to give an example of how to read the statistics themselves. Anytime you evaluate real estate numbers, its important to pay close attention to how the numbers are gathered. In this instance, we will be using ONLY single-family properties in the city of Long Beach, California.

 

These Are Basic Real Estate Statistics

 

Number of Sales – This one is pretty self-explanatory. It is simply the number of single-family homes sold in a particular month. In January of 2015, they had 51 single-family homes sold. One thing to pay attention to when looking at this statistic is are they using the Under Contract date or the day the property actually went to closing says, Local Records Office. These two dates are usually between 30 and 60 days apart, so its critical that you know which one is being referenced. In addition, many of the homes that get calculated, if you are using the “under contract” number may not actually close! In our example, we are using the number of homes that actually closed. In January of 2016 they had an increase of over 49%, which brought the total to 77 from 51. Growth of that level is very seldom ever seen.

 

Sales Volume – Sales Volume is simply the total amount of dollars spent on single family housing within that month. Once again, when reviewing this statistic, it’s important to keep the property types consistent. If you are comparing two areas to see which one has grown more and you include vacant land in the number for one area, you must include it in the other too says, Local Records Office. As previously mentioned, our examples only include single-family properties. With Number of Sales looking at the units, you would expect the Sales Volume to go up appropriately, but in this instance, it went up even more than the units (by percentage). The total Sales Volume of single family homes in Long Beach in January of 2016 was $15,191,500 as opposed to the January of 2015 number of $9,281,915. That is an increase of over 63%. Because the Sales Volume went up at a larger rate than the number of units, this reflects the average home sale being much larger in 2016 than 2015.

 

Months of Inventory – Local Records Office says, “This is a commonly referred to statistic when examining a real estate market.” This statistic refers to at the current rate of sales, how long will it take to sell through the existing level of inventory. This reflects the supply and demand for the market. In our example, in January of 2015 the level of inventory was 9 months and in January of 2016 it had dropped to 6 months. That is a 33% drop in available inventory! This means if you are looking to buy a home in Long Beach, CA, it will be a little tougher in 2016 as there are fewer inventories available to buy.

 

Median Days To Sell – This stat simply refers to how long it takes for single-family properties to be put under contract. Don’t let the “to sell” confuse you. To accurately show the demand for active homes, you really want to track how long it takes to go “under contract”. The process of acquiring final lender approval, insurance and getting to a closing can vary on a variety of factors. In January of 2015, the Median Days to sell was 88 says, Local Records Office. That number dropped by over 30% to 61. Once again, this tells you if you are looking for homes in Long Beach, CA, you better get your offers in quickly as the most desirable homes are going fast!

 

Average Price – This statistic can be derived in a variety of ways. We are going to use it in its most raw form and simply be the Average Price of Homes Sold within that month. Be careful when looking at this statistic printed anywhere as how the user defines the date sold can vary. Needless to say, Average Price can be used for active homes for sale or for the homes that sold. The Average Price of ACTIVE homes for sale is generally a pretty useless number as you can list a home for any price, without any possibility of it ever selling. Many homes listed for sale are at unrealistic prices thus the Average Price of Active homes for sale can fluctuate dramatically and give little insight into the market says, Local Records Office. You will want to look at the Average Price of SOLD homes. In January of 2015, the Average Home Sale was $181,998 and it jumped to $199,888 in the same month in 2016. This is an increase of almost 10%. This is not a number that truly tells the increase in home values across the board, but simply of the homes sold in that month, what the average was. Check out videos here.

 

Median Price – The Average Home Sales Price can be skewed by a variety of factors says, Local Records Office. All it takes is one 5 million dollar home sale to throw those numbers off. To get a better view of the overall increase in value, it can be better to look at the Median Sales Price. Median Sales Price takes the number that is perfectly in the middle. For instance, if you have 11 homes that you are using in your statistic, you would take the sales price of the 6th one. This leaves 5 homes sold higher and 5 homes sold lower. In this instance, they are pretty close as the Median Sales Price increase from January 2015 to 2016 was 9.69%. This shows that we didn’t have the Average Price skewed too much because of an extremely large or extremely small sale.

 

There are hundreds of ways to look at the same numbers, when referencing to real estate, so be very careful to read the fine print on exactly what numbers they are using says, Local Records Office. When making comparisons, you will want to make absolutely sure that both are referencing the same property types, dates etc. It like the old saying says… there are lies, damn lies and statistics.

 

In an effort to describe some of the most basic real estate statistics, we are using the market statistics from Long Beach, California as they have seen some extraordinary growth.

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Chocolate Slave Labors at Mast Brothers Chocolate Factory

The industry experts to whom she spoke said that Mast Brothers chocolate contained “defects,” and described the flavor of the brothers’ wildly popular chocolate, made in Brooklyn, New York, as variously “chalky,” “moldy,” and “bad.” The Masts, who employ a staff of 50 people, do not release financial information, but they have a factory and retail store in Brooklyn, another store in London, and a third store opening in Los Angeles.

That kind of growth and success is effectively unheard of in the high-end chocolate world.

Giller’s sources insisted many of the Masts’ early bars were not “bean-to-bar” creations as the Masts claimed, but actually made from a re-melted commercial chocolate base, orcouverture. The resulting article, which ran on Slate, was the first to publicly expose the industry’s widespread disdain for Mast Brothers. But no one felt they had enough evidence about the Masts’ alleged deception to be quoted on the record.

“Mast Brothers is a 100% bean to bar chocolate maker,” Mast wrote. “Every chocolate bar made by our company that you have lovingly purchased since we opened our first factory… was made ‘bean to bar.’ Any claim or insinuation otherwise is simply false…. [W]hile we never claimed to make all our chocolate exclusively from bean to bar in those early days, we did describe ourselves as a bean-to-bar chocolate maker. Since we were in fact making chocolate from bean to bar, we honestly thought we could say as much.”

Nevertheless, there was backlash. “Are you a sucker if you like Mast Brothers chocolate?”asked an NPR story. Grub Street reported that people were returning bars to retailers in light of the controversy, and that sales at those retailers dipped by up to 66 percent — though Mast Brothers said overall sales had actually gone up.

Canada is Slaughtering All Its Wolves

Since 2005, Alberta, Canada’s government has killed 1,360 wolves, mostly shooting them down from helicopters. Aerial shooting caused 84 percent of deaths during that timespan, according to Dave Hervieux, the province’s caribou management specialist. Poisoning by strychnine-tainted meat accounted for the remainder. Because wolves are objectively the fucking coolest furry animals aside from Ewoks, the situation has devolved into quite the controversy, with many environmental organizations arguing that wolves are being scapegoated and murdered for the destructive byproducts of industrial activities. The reason for the ongoing massacre circles back, most predictably, to the province’s encouragement of hyper-accelerated resource development over the last decade.

Unfortunately, such capitalist frivolities have come at the expense of many woodland caribou, especially in the Little Smoky and A La Peche ranges, located in west-central Alberta near Jasper National Park. And the rapid demise of the reindeer relatives—with the Little Smoky range’s caribou population annually declining by between 10 and 20 percent from the late 1990s to mid-2000s.

Lead Poisoning Has Caused Thousands of Deaths in Thai Villages

Zhou is one of the many victims affected by the lead contamination in Lower Klity Creek, a remote village in Thailand close to the Burma border. For more than 20 years its residents, who are mostly ethnic Karen, have been coping with the contamination caused by a nearby lead mine which has been dumping the wastewater into the main river flowing through the village. People dependent on the river for drinking and fishing have fallen sick; many have been diagnosed with lead poisoning. Although there are no medical reports recording many of these problems, villagers claim that more than ten people have died. The rest still suffer from symptoms such as aches, fatigue, dizziness, loss of memory, and numbness. Some children, like Zhou Sen, have been struck with developmental and mental disorders. Other villagers have been blinded.

Although the mine shut down 17 years ago, the creek has never been restored and the concentration of lead in the sediment remains 20 times higher than normal, and the consequences for the village have been severe.

“In the past, people in Klity used to lead a self-sustainable life. They have had rice plantations or livestock. When they had to go to the hospital, for example, they would sell a buffalo,” said human-rights lawyer Surapong Kongchantuk. “But after the contamination, their livestock could not drink water from the creek and many animals have died. Their life has changed. They cannot fish anymore, they have to buy the fish instead.”

You Don’t Need a Real Estate Agent to Sell Your Home in 2016 – Local Records Office

Real Estate Brokers or Agents Are NOT Required to Sell A House – Local Records Office

LOS ANGELES, CA – The Internet has made drastic changes in how Americans shop for real estate says, Local Records Office. You can see all the homes for sale in a neighborhood with the click of a mouse, and information about nearby home sale prices is easily available.

But little has changed in the way real estate is actually bought and sold. According to 2015 statistics from the National Association of Realtors, 85% of buyers purchased their homes through an agent, and an agent assisted 88% of sellers. The industry may be slow to change, but new services that use technology to revamp what “for sale by owner” means are seeking to rewrite the rules.

Local Records Office says “These services are a bridge between the traditional commission-based model of real estate agency and the old-style FSBO, in which the seller has to do everything from marketing the home to negotiating the deal. Rather than charging a flat percentage of the sales price, most of these new companies allow sellers to buy the services they need a la carte”.

The service offers real estate marketing packages starting at $99 a month for a basic listing on selected real estate portals to a one-time $519 flat fee for a listing on all the major websites plus the multiple listing service. The company offers add-ons such as a professional photo and video package starting at $149 and a comparative market analysis from a licensed agent.

READ MORE: Local Records Office: Do-It-Yourself Renovation Tips – Wooden Floors

Sean F Carter, a real estate broker in Los Angeles, CA and founder of the International Association of Real Estate Consultants, wrote a book called “The Real Estate a la Carte for You” in 2001 advocating the unbundling of real estate services, which she has been doing since the 1980s. Her organization trains agents who would like to work as consultants, offering their help on a per-service basis. For example, professional agents can be of help at common issue areas during the selling process, such as the inspection or the appraisal. Rather than listing a property with an agent, a seller can contract with an agent solely for negotiation help.

For those seeking to sell property on their own, “The most problematic is the meat in the middle,” Carter says. “It’s basically troubleshooting, and you don’t know what kind of problems you’re going to have until you’re in the middle of it.”

In Bellflower, CA, Kevin Stevenson operates Real Direct dot com, a hybrid of FSBO and traditional real estate brokerage. Sellers can choose an owner-managed plan that starts at $395, which includes online listings and advice from a real estate agent, or an agent-managed plan, for a 2% commission.

All the plans via Real Direct dot com include a seller dashboard for scheduling showings, inquiries and offers. About 79% of the clients choose the owner-managed option, Stevenson says, with professional photos and floor plans being the most popular add-ons. Even with the owner-managed plan, an agent makes recommendations. “Our system will flag listings with fewer showings and make recommendations,” Stevenson says. “There’s actually a fair amount of discussion.”

Here are questions to ask if you’re considering a nontraditional approach for selling your home:

Are you familiar with the home-selling process? Selling a home without professional advice is difficult if you’ve never sold a home and don’t understand how the process works says, Local Records Office. At a minimum, you need to know your state laws about seller disclosure, what should be included in a contract and what time frames are normal for inspections and other appraisals.

Are you comfortable letting strangers into your home? If you don’t list with a traditional brokerage, you will be the one showing the home to prospective buyers. That means you’ll have to be available when people want to visit and willing to usher strangers through your home and encourage them to open your closets.

READ MORE: What is Real Estate “Property Law?” – Local Records Office

Will you be able to screen buyers? Some agents don’t show homes to buyers who have not been prequalified for a mortgage or otherwise demonstrated that they have the ability to get a mortgage and buy the home says, Local Records Office. When someone submits an offer for your home, will you be able to tell whether the person actually has the ability to get a mortgage and close the deal? Asking for a mortgage preapproval or prequalification with the offer is a good start, but you may also want to set a deadline in the contract for mortgage approval and/or ask to see proof of funds for the down payment and escrows.

Can you draw up a contract or have someone do it? In most states, there is a standard real estate contract used by agents and/or drawn up by the state bar association. Some states require owner disclosures of certain items. If your buyer is using an agent, he or she can draft the contract. You can hire a real estate lawyer or consultant to draft or vet a contract. This needs to be done right if you want to avoid problems that will derail the closing, such as arguments over what happens if there are issues with the inspection or appraisal. “A good agent or consultant will say which are the things that could be deal-breakers,” Cater says.

Can you negotiate issues that arise, such as problems with the appraisal or the inspection? Buyers will often seek repairs, concessions or a lower price after an inspection says, Local Records Office. If the appraisal is lower than the purchase price, the seller either has to lower the price or the buyer has to pay the difference in cash. Good negotiating skills may be essential to save the deal.

Can you make your house look good online? Now that most real estate searches start online, the quality of photos matters more than ever. If you’re not capable of taking high-quality photos, you may need to hire a professional photographer. Don’t forget that you need a description that makes your home appealing.

Are houses like yours in demand? In many parts of the country, inventory is short and any habitable house in a good neighborhood sells quickly. That’s a good scenario when selling your home without a traditional agent. “There are going to be those [homes] that will sell themselves,” Carter says. “All you’re going to have to do is look respectable and let people in.”

READ MORE: Local Records Office Explains How Real Estate Could Be simple but One or Another it’s Complicated- Local Records Office

Are you willing to pay a commission to the buyer’s agent? You think that selling your home yourself will save you the 6 percent commission, but most buyers will have an agent. You’ll need to pay that agent 2 to 3 percent. That means your maximum savings is 2%, minus whatever you pay for advertising, photos, consulting and other services.

Can you pay for services before your home is sold? In a traditional sale, the cost of selling the home is deducted from the proceeds at closing, meaning a seller pays nothing until the home is sold. Many a la carte services require payment upfront. “There’s still a certain amount of resistance for paying upfront for all of these services,” Carter says. “A lot of people would prefer to pay a success fee, in terms of commission.”

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