By Simply Doing These Simple Things I’ve Been Getting So Much Real Estate Business – Local Records Office

LOCAL RECORDS OFFICE – LOS ANGELES, CA – When I first started in the business I loved doing fix and flips, but wasn’t so keen on selling houses to strangers. I sold enough houses to get by, and focused on the flips since those were much more fun. I always thought it would be smart to buy rental properties, but I was young and not very good at saving money.

 

Then in 2008, I started selling REOs and completing broker price opinions for banks. I loved the REO side of selling houses and I have become very successful at it the last few years. I am a HUD listing broker as well and love HUD, I can’t buy HUD homes myself, but I have a great article on how investors can great deals ion HUD homes here. I think the reason I love REO is because I can communicate through email and I am a natural introvert (another popular forum discussion). With REO came more money, more savings and a desire to grow that money into something more. I did a lot of research on franchises, business, the stock market, bonds and decided rental properties were the best investment out there.

 

When I was doing fix and flips with my father, we bought most of our properties at the public trustee auction and it did not matter if we had our Real Estate license or not. When we sold our homes, we saved 3% on each transaction, because we did not have to pay a listing agent a commission.   When I started buying rental properties for myself in 2010, I bought everything off MLS and saved a commission on each purchase.   We are buying more flips off the MLS now as well, we are now saving a commission on the buy side and the sell side.

By Simply Doing These Simple Things I_ve Been Getting So Much Real Estate Business – Local Records Office 1

Even though we save a ton of money on commissions by being agent that is not the biggest advantage to having a Real Estate license. The biggest advantage is having a huge advantage buying properties over those that do not have a license.

 

Saving Money on Commissions

 

I will take you through an example of how much we save on a typical flip. The savings is similar on a long-term rental purchase, except there won’t be any commission on the sale since we are holding the property. Let’s assume we purchased a flip on an REO property for $100,000, fixed it up and then sold it for $170,000.   The bank offered a 3% commission to the Real Estate agent that represented the buyer on this property. Sometimes banks do not like it when the buyer is also the Real Estate agent and they may have stipulations they won’t pay a commission in these instances.   We use an LLC to purchase our flips and my dad will usually sign for the LLC and I will be the agent on the deal. That way the agent is different than the end purchaser and the bank will pay a commission.

 

On the purchase end we can structure the deal so we get paid $3,000 for our commission or we will waive our commission and pay $3,000 less for the property. The benefit to getting the $3,000 is the extra cash in our pockets for repairs or other investments. The benefit to reducing the price is, we won’t have to count the commission as income and pay taxes on it. It saves money in the long run to reduce the price if that is an option.   However, many brokers will only allow agents to take no commissions on one or two deals a year. We can do it as much as we want, since we are on a 100% split and the monthly fee brokerages may allow you to make as many no commission deals as you want as well.

 

On the sell side we save the 3% as well since we are the listing agents and do not have to pay someone else to sell the property for us. Again, commission are negotiable and you may be charged more or less for an agent to sell your home.   Three percent of $180k is $5,400 that we save by not hiring another agent. We structure this as a no commission deal, since we will not have to pay taxes on the income again.   Total savings is $8,400 on this one deal alone. We flip about ten homes a year, and it is easy to see we save a lot of money by being agents.

 

Finding Deals

 

The biggest reason I would suggest every Real Estate investor get their license is because of the advantage it provides when finding deals. I still buy most of my long-term rentals off of MLS and we buy flips on MLS as well. We purchase short sales, a few REOs and even a few fair market sales off the MLS system. As an agent I have access to MLS and an investor without their license does not. Most properties listed in MLS are listed on other sites like Zillow, Realtor.com and others, but the information is not as accurate or updated as quickly.

 

If I were not an agent, my time frame for making an offer would be much longer. I would have to do more work to find new listings on Zillow or another website. Once I found a great deal, I would have to contact my agent. I would have to wait for them to find time to set up the showing and show me the property. Then I would have to wait for them to write the contract and I would have to come in and sign the contract, before it was submitted. I have to hope they understand they importance of time and getting that offer in ASAP. Even if they are a super fast, great agent, it may take them half a day or an entire day to get all that done. Someone else could have already submitted an offer and had it accepted before my offer was submitted.

Knowledge of the Market

 

As a Real Estate agent MLS also provides me with a wealth of sold information. I can look up sales from 10 years ago if I want to, as long as the sale was completed through MLS. MLS is a great tool for me to determine value quickly, and easily.   I am also constantly around houses as a Realtor, I am constantly determining values for my sellers and buyers and I almost always know the market without having to pull up sold info. Knowing values is the most important thing for a Real Estate investor to know an being a Real Estate agent gives me a huge advantage.

 

Connections in the Business

 

As a Real Estate agent I am constantly talking to lenders, other agents, title companies, buyers and sellers. I found my portfolio lender, because other agents referred me to them. My portfolio lender is awesome and will give me as many loans as I want as long as I qualify. That may change at some point, but without them I would be struggling to finance properties, especially now that I have 10 mortgages.

 

Other agents have referred me to sellers looking to get out of their homes, because they know we buy flips. I know the best title companies, the best lenders and the best Realtors. I also know which companies and Realtors to steer clear of, because they may kill a deal with their incompetence.

 

Disadvantages to Being an Agent

 

There are some disadvantages to having a Real Estate license and being an investor.

 

The biggest one for me, is I am limited to what houses I can purchase, but this won’t apply to 99% of agents. Since I am a HUD broker I cannot buy any HUD homes no matter who has them listed. None of my immediate family or any agents and their immediate family can buy a HUD home either. Bank of America will not allow me to buy any of their listings or even short sales because I list REO for them. There are a few other companies I work with that have the same policies and I can never buy an REO that I have listed. It is a clear conflict of interest for me to purchase I home I listed that I determined value on for the banks.

 

  • I have to disclose I am Realtor when I market to sellers. I don’t think this is a big disadvantage, but some people on the forums think they get a better response if they are not an agent.

 

  • Some people feel a code of ethics is too restricting for Real Estate investing, I do not feel this way. If you are a Real Estate agent, it is easier for buyers or sellers to file a complaint against you with Real Estate commission or whatever body governs Real Estate in your area.

 

  • The biggest reason most do not get their license is the cost and time it takes. Getting a license is not easy in most states, it takes hours and hours of classes and tests and the tests are not easy. Once an agent has their license, they have to take continuing education, keep insurance, pay for MLS, pay board dues, pay to hang their license or split their commission.

 

 

Conclusion

 

It can cost thousands of dollars a year to be a licensed Real Estate agent, but one or tow deals a year will easily make up for that money. Not only are you saving commissions, but the biggest advantage is the deal you get, because you were faster than everyone else. To a flipper, one deal can mean $20k, $30k, $40k or more in profits. To an investor buying long-term rentals, one deal can mean thousands of dollars a year in cash flow.

8 Steps That Guarantee You To Be a Real Estate General Contractor

LOCAL RECORDS OFFICE – I’m closing on a triplex (two 2bed/1bath units and one 1bed/1bath) on Monday that needs renovation and I’ve decided to GC this project on my own. The Local Records Office in Norwalk, CA sat down and started getting my thoughts together about a calendar and timeline and I realized that this process would make a great article for anyone doing their first renovation or anyone who wanted to get more organized. My golden rule for renovations is to make a realistic budget and timeline and stick to them.

Here are the 8 steps I follow when renovating a property:

Step 1: Demo

Maybe the most critical step because having a clean working environment will actually save time and money. Have your demo crew take down walls and get everything out of your way before making any improvements. Also, have them remove any trees or bushes that are in the way of progress. Then have the demo crew remove all of the trash and debris.

(Note: A beginner mistake is to perform these steps room by room or unit by unit but that actually ends up costing more time and money when contractors have to return so whenever possible have the contractors perform their task for the entire project before moving to the next step.)

Step 2: Waterproof Building Envelope

Another critical step because nothing would be worse than renovating a property only to have some or all of the renovations ruined after the first rainy day. In this step, I focus on making the property is completely protected against the elements. This includes fixing or replacing the roof, the gutters, the windows, the window capping, masonry work, gradation issues, sidewalks, basement, parging, and foundation work. Make sure that by the end of this step the building is 100% waterproof.

Step 3: Preliminary Framing

Now that the property is a blank pallet and watertight you can begin any structural or light framing you are doing on the project. Not every project requires this step but if you are moving or installing walls now is the time to build them. Also, use this opportunity to repair or replace joists and sub-flooring if necessary.

Step 4: HVAC, Plumbing, and Electrical

In the next phase the heating, cooling, electrical, gas and plumbing systems are put in place. Here are some common tasks that occur during this phase of the renovation:

The HVAC contractor will run the ductwork so it can properly be distributed to each

  • Floor
  • Plumbing lines are installed
  • Water lines for kitchens and baths are installed
  • The main electric panel is replaced or cleaned up
  • Electrical wiring is repaired/replaced
  • Switches and outlets are changed/upgraded

After all of the ducts and lines are installed your framing contractor will return for some secondary framing. All this entails is dry-walling and boxing in the ducts/lines that were just installed.

Step 5: Insulation and Drywall

The next step requires the installation of insulation and drywall. Make sure that the drywall contractor hangs, tapes, spackles, and sands the drywall and leaves it ready for the painter to begin painting. Painters can sand and prep the walls but they are usually more expensive than dry-wallers so try to have the dry-wallers do most of the wall prep.

Step 6: Paint, Lighting, HVAC, Plumbing, Kitchens, Baths

This phase of the renovation covers interior paint, lighting installation, HVAC, and finalizing the plumbing. This is the home stretch and a great deal of work is done in this step. Common tasks include:

  • Prime and paint interior walls
  • Install kitchen cabinets
  • Order/install counters
  • Install new interior doors
  • Order/install flooring
  • Install trim/molding
  • Install light fixtures, switches cover plates and outlet cover plates
  • Make sure the HVAC system is installed and fully-functional
  • Install sinks, vanities, toilets and kitchen/bath fixtures

Step 7: Interior Punch list

If you’ve made this far take a deep breath because you are almost done! The interior punch list phase is the time when you go around and put the finishing touches on your renovation project.

Common punch list tasks include installing HVAC trim covers, outlet light switch covers, doorknobs, cabinet handles, touching up paint and all of the small items that really make the project look great. Make a list and go down item-by-item and cross them off as they are complete.

Step 8: Exterior

The final step is the exterior renovation. This step includes exterior landscaping, exterior paint touch up, mailbox installation, property address number installation, flower boxes, window shutters, door hardware and any other item dealing with exterior curb appeal.

Congratulations you’re done! As you can tell overseeing your own renovation project really isn’t that scary if you are super organized and stick to a timeline. Follow these steps and over time you will streamline your process and become more efficient. Best of luck and make sure to let me know how it goes.

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The House That the Dealer Abandoned – Local Records Office

LOS ANGELES – Once upon a time there was this 3 bedroom, 1 bathroom rancher set back from a busy road in an extremely desirable area of town. The home, purchased for $289,000 two years before at the peak of the market, was barely worth what the owners had paid for it. But the owners, a lovely husband and wife, had found themselves having to move away and sell the home.

 

The realtor, wanting her clients to come out ahead on the deal after they paid her commission initially listed the home for $329,000 at the start of 2010.

 

For Sale

 

This home, with its striking red door, caught our attention the minute the “For Sale” sign went up but we didn’t pay much attention to it until a few months later we noticed the sign said “Price Reduced!”

 

We pulled over so I could call the realtor. The realtor explained that the property was now reduced to $319,000. We made arrangements to see the property the next morning.

 

We went and viewed the home, and while it is in good condition, showed very well and was one of the lowest priced homes in the area, it’s only a 3 bedrooms and 1 bathroom home. Having a second bathroom is pretty important in this market. But the price, for that area, was interesting. I asked a lot of questions and discovered that the sellers would probably go to $305,000 because the realtor had agreed to cut her commission so they could still make money on the deal. Turns out, she’s the one that sold them the home at the peak of the market.

 

I told the realtor we could probably do something around the $300,000 mark – maybe $305,000 – if the seller would be willing to carry a second mortgage on the property for us.

 

After a long chat, we left, and she agreed to contact me about the second mortgage option.

 

A few days later, I actually sent HER an email to follow up because I hadn’t heard from her. She said that VTB’s are hard for people to understand. I wasn’t sure if that meant that the sellers wouldn’t do it or if she had even talked with them about the option. Either way, it didn’t sound like $300,000 was a go for them.

 

The market really started to move in late March and early April but still, the home sat there. On April 8th, the price dropped to $309,900. I didn’t hear from the realtor before the price dropped but I didn’t think anything of it since I had made it clear that I was only going to play at $300,000.

 

How the Realtor Lost the Deal

 

Here’s the kicker though … and here’s where the real estate agent really failed to make this deal happen:

In May the list price dropped down to $299,000.

My phone didn’t ring. My inbox didn’t fill up with emails from her. I didn’t hear a thing. Of course, we follow the market closely so we knew it had dropped, but most folks wouldn’t know that. Yet, she never bothered to call. She had my business card; we had exchanged phone calls and emails. She should have had my contact information. But I didn’t hear a single thing from her.

 

By this time we had our hands full with 3 other deals so I wasn’t about to chase this one down. Instead, we kept an eye on it.

 

But then something sad happened last week … something I have seen happen so many times … the sellers changed real estate agents and the new agent listed the home at $284,000 with the caption “PRICED TO SELL”!

 

Is the Home Sold?

 

So this poor home that we would have considered buying at $300,000 is now probably going to sell for $278,000. And at that price, it’s under it’s market value. But it will sell down there for the simple reason that the market has slowed down again and now everyone looking at it is wondering why it’s been on the market for nearly 6 months when it’s in such a good area!!

 

The sellers are going to take a loss, the realtor that tried to sell it won’t make a penny, and the whole story could have ended differently if only she’d made one single phone call.

 

There’s a Japanese proverb that says, “Money grows on the trees of persistence“. Or, put another way, money rots on the trees of laziness. I can’t say for sure we would have purchased it … but I know Dave, my husband and investing partner, was pretty keen on this home. And if she would have called I can guarantee she would have had an offer in her hand at the very least.

 

Instead she lost the listing, and she lost me. I won’t ever deal with her and I certainly would never recommend anyone I know use her.

 

This is a great failing on her part, and she’s not the first to make this mistake. My Grandma’s words ring through my head reminding me that this home wasn’t meant to be for us which is why she never called. I couldn’t agree more. Even now, at such a low price, I am tempted but not that tempted, for the simple reason that it’s going to be tough to rent out with only one bathroom. So it wasn’t meant to be for me, but who was looking out for the sellers?

 

Follow Up

 

In the short term a single phone call could mean the difference between doing a deal or not doing a deal. In the long run it’s your reputation and your deals at stake.

 

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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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