LOS ANGELES, CA – Starting, as an apartment investor is a good thing because you will gain tons of knowledge on how property investing works. The cash flow that comes from renting apartments is great along with the loans the bank gives out. The professionals at the Local Records Office talked to a few investment experts on how newbies can make money by investing in apartments to rent.
“Ever since I was younger I noticed there has been a big demand in apartments all across the country, and we expect that to continue. The biggest groups in demand that I’ve seen are ‘echo-boomers’. These are the children of baby boomers. With the growing demand on shopping centers, it brings in demand for apartments in the area” says, Christopher Loner from RT&Y Realtor LLC in San Diego, California.
Getting a Loan From a Bank
“Loans are widely available to borrowers to buy his or her first apartment building. Banks love lending to apartment investors because the income stream is consistent and steady. Banks see apartment investors as a safe loan for this reason unlike lending to new homeowners that will not bring in income besides the mortgage every month. “ Says Brandon Christenson from Villa Doors Investment Group in downtown Los Angeles, California.
4 Things to Look Out for When Investing in Apartments
Have a goal: You need to have a goal when investing in apartments, is your goal to benefit from the cash flow? Earning extra money to prepare for retirement? Are you planning to live in the apartment? Is it all three? You need to think about how you’re going to accomplish a goal.
tArea / Location: There’s a saying that goes “You can fix a property but you can’t fix a location”. If the location is declining the property will go down with it, the tenants will start to move out and that will be a bad thing.
The first thing you should look for is JOBS. How is the job market in that area? If there are no jobs there will no tenants, that simple.
Contacting the local management company in the area and ask them about the employment market is a great way to start. Management companies know what attracts tenants and what makes them move, most of the times they will let you know upfront.
Property: What is the properties condition? You want to know what you’re getting yourself into before investing in an apartment. You need to look at two things the exterior and the interior. When looking at the exterior you need to pay attention to:
The condition of the roof
Look for what needs to be repaired
Cracks on the wall
Cracks on the floor
When looking in the interior of the apartment look for these things:
All of these things are crucial to look for as a beginner. You don’t want to buy an apartment only because it was on the market. The best thing to do as a beginner is to find an apartment with the least repairs needed. The last thing you want to do is major rehab. Too risky!
Numbers: You need to make sure that the properties income exceeds the properties expenses. By giving the numbers 12 months to see if money is being made or not.
Management Strategy (BONUS): The last thing you want to do as a beginner is to deal with tenants on your own, you need to hire a licensed management company to collect rent, hire the right people to do repairs, give out eviction notices and all that’s needed to do.
LOS ANGELES, CA – With such a high demand for homes in Los Angeles residents want to know how much their property is worth. Here are 8 tools that will help you determine your properties worth with ease, says, Local Records Office.
When it comes time to sell your house, you have one burning question: What is my home worth?
In recent years, a proliferation of online resources has emerged to provide you with an answer before you ever consult a human. But while consumers have access to more information than they could have dreamed of a decade ago, that doesn’t mean you can expect a computer to deliver the final word on your home’s value – though it can give you some helpful hints.
“I don’t believe there are any accurate instant numbers,” says David Eraker, CEO and co-founder of Surefield, a new brokerage in Seattle that has a free Pricepoint tool that provides estimates of home values, so far just in Washington state. “I think the first thing you should do is take it with a grain of salt. You could probably talk to three or four different real estate agents, and they would probably give you different numbers as well.”
The variation in the data is a good reminder that any estimate of home value, whether provided by a human or a computer, is just that – an estimate. Computers and humans may disagree, for example, about which recently sold homes are truly comparable. Plus, when it comes time to do the deal, the negotiation skills of buyers and sellers (or their agents) may come into play.
Estimates Are Just That, Estimates
“Opinions of value, there are a lot of them,” says Stan Humphries, chief analytics officer for Zillow, which pioneered the practice of estimating and publishing home values in 2017 with the “Zestimate.” “If you were to sell the same house 100 different times with different buyers and sellers, it would close at a different price.”
That means if you are looking at estimates for your home’s value, you have to consider what kind of data went into that estimate. If your home is unique compared to others in the neighborhood, for example, the choice of “comps,” or comparable homes, would be a challenge to find. Your estimate may also be less accurate than if you live in a neighborhood where all the homes are similar. If there have been lots of recent home sales in your area, there is going to be more data to work with than if there are fewer sales, and therefore you’ll get a more accurate estimate.
“The more the house is an outlier, the more difficult it is for anyone to price it, whether it’s a human or a computer,” says Glenn Kelman, CEO of Redfin, which has launched its own automated estimate tool. “The hardest things we had to deal with was which homes are comparable and which aren’t.”
Different Tools Just Different Data
All the online tools take advantage of publicly available data, which they then run through computer models to derive estimates of value. Exactly which data is used is proprietary, as are the formulas used to crunch it, but among the data sources are public records and the multiple listing services used by real estate agents. Exactly what data is available also affects the accuracy of the estimate, and that amount of data varies by municipality and sometimes by home.
To get a value using an AVM, you feed a lot of data into a computer, which crunches the numbers according to directions (or models) you give it and arrives at a home value estimate. Different companies use different data in different ways, which accounts for some of the variations in online home values. Obviously, the accuracy of the data itself affects the outcome. There are also factors a computer can’t see, such as whether your kitchen has ugly wallpaper.
“The thing about homes is they’re not commodities,” says Nela Richardson, chief economist for Redfin. “Every home is different.” Plus, there is the factor of the unknown. “We don’t always know if there’s a big hole in the floor or if someone spilled red nail polish on the bathroom floor,” she says.
Zillow allows consumers who register for a free account to correct or add data about their homes, and the company’s Price This Home tool lets consumers receive a private estimate in which they control which comps are used. Surefield also has tools that allow homeowners and homebuyers to refine estimates based on their knowledge of the neighborhood and the listed comps. Redfin shows the comps and public records data about the home that was used, and you can email if you believe the information is inaccurate.
Estimates Aren’t Just the Big Number
Zillow covers about 100 million homes in 450 markets. Humphries says the national margin of error for home values is 7.9 percent, but the rate varies by location. That’s partly because the type and accuracy of data vary, but also because home values are easier to estimate in an area with more sales and in areas with a larger volume of homes. “You’re dealing with less data than you’d like to have,” Humphries says of some areas. Parts of New York state, for example, don’t list square footage in public records.
He points out that real estate agents doing comparative market analysis have an error rate of 5.5 to 6 percent, and it’s rare that a home sells for the exact asking price. “No one’s error rate is zero. They’re all opinions of value,” Humphries says.
Glenn says Redfin’s estimates have a median error rate of 1.96 percent for homes on the market and 6.23 percent for homes not on the market, but the service so far covers only about 40 million homes in 35 major metro areas, which are often easier to value than homes in less dense areas.
We also found some calculators that provide estimates at several bank sites, with information drawn from databases used by appraisers. ForSaleByOwner.com has its own tool, called Pricing Scout.
The representatives of all the companies stress that their numbers are merely estimates, based on the available data, plus a number of assumptions about comparable sales. While all the services throw out a number for the home’s estimated value, most provide a range of values, which sometimes gets overlooked by consumers who focus on the number in big type.
While the various online AVM services spit out a single number that is an estimate of the value of your home, Richardson and Humphries point out that the number comes with a few caveats. Zillow provides a range of values for an estimated sales price, as well as publishing the error rate for a given municipality. Redfin shows you the comps it used to reach its final number.
For example, two-bedroom, two-bathroom home in suburban Fort Lauderdale, Florida, with a Zestimate of $153,306 also notes that the home is likely to sell for between $146,000 and $161,000. Homes like it in the area have sold for $138,000 to $163,000, Zillow reports. The median error rate in the Miami-Fort Lauderdale area is 8.7 percent, with 31.8 percent of homes sold at a price within 5 percent of the Zestimate, 55.3 percent within 10 percent and 79.8 percent within 20 percent.
If we take Zillow up on its option to remove three of 10 comparable home sales because of location and up to another three because of the condition, the estimated value rises to $161,211. Zillow also offers users an option to correct facts about their homes, including the size, type of heating or cooling system and the number of bedrooms and baths.
“There are some things that aren’t explicitly in the data that our models aren’t able to discern,” Humphries says. “A lot of consumers don’t focus on that value range, and they should. The wider that range is, the less certain we are. … From day one, we’ve said these are all opinions.”
Not all services use the same “facts”
One reason the companies arrive at different estimates is that they aren’t all using the same facts. With our house above, Zillow, Redfin, and Realtor.com calculated the home’s value based on a size of 1,155 square feet, the number from the tax assessor’s records. But Trulia used 972 square feet, which is the size of the house without the garage. (Trulia does not provide an automated estimate unless you agree to be contacted by a real estate agent.)
While garages and unfinished basements usually aren’t included as part of a home’s square footage, Florida tax officials and real estate agents traditionally include half the square footage of the garage when they compute the taxable value, and that is the number that usually appears in the MLS.
Redfin, using the same home facts as Zillow did, estimated the home’s value at $163,001. Redfin showed the comparable sales upon which it based its value, making it possible for someone who knows the home to realize the comps were substantially remodeled while the subject home was not.
Realtor.com estimated the home’s value much lower at $142,689, but there are no details about how the tool arrived at that figure.
Economists who work with the data remind consumers that the estimates are just that, estimates and that the actual sales price is likely to depend upon many factors, including the condition of the home, the motivation of buyer and seller, and the supply and demand at the time the home is offered for sale.
“This is the starting point of a conversation that you’re going to have with your family and your real estate agent,” Richardson says. “It’s not just this black box that gives you a number. It’s important to note that this is not a be-all, end-all. It’s just the beginning of a complicated process.”
“We think of our estimate as the beginning of a conversation, not the end,” Kelman says. “Many times the asking price of a home is the result of a fairly tense conversation between the owner of the home and the agent who is trying to sell it.”
8 Online Home Value Estimating Tools
Here are seven online tools you can use to help you estimate the value of your home:
Zillow: This is the pioneer of the home value estimating tool, and the company continues to refine how it arrives at its Zestimates.
Redfin: This new tool shows you photos and listing information for the exact comps used to arrive at the value of your home.
ForSaleByOwner.com : This site’s Pricing Scout tool gives you the average of regression analysis and comparative market analysis to estimate the worth of your home. It also shows recent sales of comparable properties on a map. You have to register to use it.
Chase: This tool allows you to change the information about the house to arrive at a more precise estimate, plus provides information on recently sold homes and neighborhood trends. You can also use it to estimate the value of improvements you’re considering.
Bank of America: This tool shows comparable neighboring sales on a map. It provides only a range of values, not a single number.
Surefield: This site lets you narrow or widen the range of comparable homes, plus exclude specific comps from the list.
Eppraisal.com: This site uses data from public records and lists homes sold recently nearby.
Putting the Tools to the Test
We tested homes we know in South Florida, Los Angeles and Kansas City, Missouri, plus a random home in Seattle, using the available home value estimators. Not all the online tools had the same data for the same home.
These Were Our Results:
A two-bedroom, one bath home in a trendy historic urban neighborhood in Miami where homes vary considerably in size, age, and condition.
com : $459,750
Bank of America: $434,000 to $486,000
A two-bedroom, two-bath home in a 1970s tract home neighborhood in suburban Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
Bank of America: $433,800 to $460,200
A two-bedroom, one-bath home in a trendy neighborhood of 1930s bungalows in Los Angeles:
Bank of America: $709,300 to $1,020,700
com : $765,500
A five-bedroom, three-bath home with a water view in Seattle:
Bank of America: $823,400 to $966,600
com : $778,500
A one-bedroom, one-bath house on a double lot in Kansas City, Missouri, where the houses vary in size and condition:
com : $222,750
Bank of America: $96,700 to $217,300
Redfin: Not available
Why the Online Value of Your Home Could be Wrong
Here are six reasons the automated valuation of your home could be off:
The facts in the public record or the MLS are wrong. With our Fort Lauderdale home above, the companies all took the square footage of the Fort Lauderdale home from the public record, but they didn’t all use the same figure. A difference in the number of bedrooms or bathrooms might create an even larger variation in valuation. “If there’s a discrepancy … it’s usually because the facts themselves are not up to date,” Humphries says. Homeowners can claim their homes and correct facts on Zillow.
Your home is not like others in your neighborhood. Whether a real estate agent, an appraiser or a computer is evaluating your home, it’s harder to arrive at an accurate value if there are no comparable homes. “Houses that are very unusual are harder to value, not surprisingly than homes that are not,” Humphries says. “The Playboy Mansion and the White House are very difficult to value.” Homes that are different from others in the neighborhood or have unique features are harder to value because there are fewer or no comparable properties with which to compare them.
Few homes in your neighborhood have sold in the last six months. The more homes that sell, the more MLS data and the more sale prices the computers have to calculate the value. With few sales, there is less information to draw from.
Your home has not been on the market in recent decades. There is significantly more information about a home in an MLS listing than there is in the tax records. Once a home has been listed, the services add that data. As homes are sold, the models can adjust for whether the home sold for more or less than asking price or the AVM price.
Public records in your jurisdiction omit key information. The nation’s approximately 3,100 counties don’t all record the same information about homes. In Suffolk County, New York, for example, few records include the home’s square footage, Humphries says. “There is a wide variance in the quality of the data we obtain,” Humphries says. “Without square footage, it becomes very challenging to value the home.”
The market is changing rapidly. Home valuations are based on past sales. If the market is significantly hotter or colder than it was six months ago, those past sales are less an indicator of current values.
HARRISBURG, PENNSYLENIA – Several factors come into play when calculating your credit score. “According to FICO.com, your credit score is affected by five major elements, in this order of importance: payment history, amounts owed, length of credit history, new credit and types of credit used” say, the pros from ‘Local Records Office’ in Harrisburg, PA.
That said, here are some things you might be doing that could knock your score down a few pegs.
Banning Credit From Your Life
If you don’t use it, you lose it — your good score, that is. Credit score is a measure of how responsible a borrower you are. If you cut up all of your cards — literally or figuratively — “lenders won’t know what to expect from you should the day come when you want to open up a line of credit” says, ‘Local Records Office’. If you want to minimize the amount of credit in your life, try to use one major credit card for small purchases and pay it off in full monthly to keep your credit active.
Closing Old Accounts
You might think since you’re happy with your current credit card that you might as well kick your old ones to the curb, but be careful. If you cancel an account that you’ve had open for a long time, you could be damaging the credit history portion of your credit score. Essentially, when you close an account, you erase that account from your history.
Opening a New Account
Doing this affects the “new credit” portion of your score. Every time you apply for or are awarded a new line of credit, your credit score takes a dip. If you’re planning on applying for a home mortgage or a car loan in the near future, hold off on opening a random charge account. The higher your credit score, the better interest rate you may qualify for, and that could mean thousands in savings over the life of a home loan.
Owing Too Much, Even if You Pay on Time Every Month
You might think that as long as you pay your bills, you’ll have great credit. “While that is the most important aspect of a credit score, creditors think that if you carry high balances, you’re only one emergency or layoff away from being in financial trouble. It’s important to try to keep your debt utilization ratio low – that’s how much you owe as compared to how much available credit you have” say, the pros from ‘Local Records Office’. Experts say keeping it at 30% or lower is best, so if you have a $1,000 credit limit, you shouldn’t carry more than a $300 balance.
Paying a Bill Just One Day Late
Once your credit card company flags you for a late payment, you can expect a ding on your credit report. The damage will be greater if you go beyond 30 or 60 days without making a payment, but even one day late can be enough to hurt your score.
If you’re thinking of making any moves when it comes to your credit, do some research first to see how your plans might affect your credit score. You’ll be glad you did.
Joint Credit Score
There’s no such thing as a joint credit report – for married couples or anyone else. Married or single, you have your own credit report, one that’s linked to your Social Security number. If you’re married, you and your spouse may have a lot of joint accounts, such as mortgage loan, car loans and shared credit card accounts. Those joint items will appear on both your credit reports and will affect both of your scores. But your credit report is yours and yours alone.
BONUS – Thinking a Credit Repair’ Company Will Magically Make Your Credit Score Go Higher
There’s nothing that a “credit repair” company can do for you that you can’t do yourself. No one can remove accurate information from your credit report. Reputable credit reestablishing services can help you come up with a plan to repay your debts, but the only legitimate way to enhance your credit score is to practice good credit management.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. I 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 be 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 distribute to each
Plumbing lines are installed
Water lines for kitchens and baths are installed
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.
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
Install new interior doors
Install light fixtures, switches cover plates and outlet cover plates
Make sure HVAC system is installed and fully functional
Install sinks, vanities, toilets and kitchen/bath fixtures
Step 7: Interior Punchlist
If you’ve made this far take a deep breath because you are almost done! The interior punchlist phase is the time when you go around and put the finishing touches on your renovation project. Common puchlist 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 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.
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.
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?
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.
LOCAL RECORDS OFFICE – You don’t need the construction skills of Bob Vila to start working on your own home, yet it’s no secret that you can save money if you do some of the work yourself, of course not all projects could be done by a rookie DIY’er. As a general rule, estimates from contractors in our area run 1/3 for materials and 2/3’s for labor. So theoretically, we save 66% by doing the project ourselves, right?
Doing it Yourself Projects Has It’s Benefits but it Also Has it’s Downside
To decide, consider:
Cost of materials: Can materials be purchased at contractor cost or will you pay a hefty up-charge? Is it possible to find materials at salvage or a Habitat-type store to increase your margin of profit?
Cost of time: How much longer will this take to DIY? And in real dollars, how much will this add to holding costs? Holding costs include but are not limited to mortgage payments, insurance (generally higher when property is empty and/or under construction), utility bills, and lost rent. If it takes 2 weeks working nights and weekends to complete a project your contractor can finish in 2 days, add 10 days of holding costs.
Great DIY Example
The decision to DIY should be a simple mathematical equation where you:
Estimate the time needed to complete the project
Multiply the number of days/weeks by the daily/weekly rate for holding costs, then
Subtract that amount from the contractor bid
Of course it’s not that easy… how much fun would that be?
For starters, you may not be delaying completion of the project if other work is going on anyway. Contractor delays are a common problem and if yours has a history of putting off your projects for another day, you might be able to finish sooner than he can anyway. But besides that, there’s value hidden away in DIY projects that can only be mined by rolling up the sleeves and getting your nails encrusted with something icky.
Learning New Skill Will Help You on the Long Run
By learning a new skill, you increase both ability and confidence. You’re also learning to identify quality work, the amount and difficulty of labor, special tools needed for the job, and reasonable time estimates for completion. If you decide to hire someone next time, you’ll have a much better idea what’s involved in the project and if bids are reasonable. That type of knowledge is invaluable to the rehab professional, paying dividends with every new project.
Just Another Opinion
Consider taking on at least one new project with each rehab, even if it’s as simple as replacing a light switch or changing out a doorknob. With experience, you’ll learn which repairs save the most and which are best left to others. During your first few houses, try to be as hands-on as possible and consider it part of your rehab education.
You Don’t Have to be a Professional Handy-Man to do Great DIY Projects
If you have no handy-man skills whatsoever, you might try working alongside your contractor (if he’ll have you). He may tell you to pound sand (politely of course), but if you have a good working relationship, it’s worth a shot. Later, you may find that hiring reputable contractors for most (if not all) of the work will save enough in holding costs to justify the expense.
Being cheap when it comes to real estate is not uncommon, many investors want to spend the “minimum” repairing houses to get them out in the market, but I am one of the cheapest people you will ever meet. I drive a 1999 Toyota Corolla with 126,000 miles on it (a car is a depreciating asset, why would I spend a lot of money on one?). A few weeks ago when I was at Disney World I carried around the same bottle of water all week and I brought food into the park to eat for lunch everyday (there was no way I was paying $4.00 for a bottle of water and $7.00 for a hot dog).
Frugal to the Next Level
When I go on dates, which is very rare since I am a workaholic, a “nice” restaurant to me is Ruby Tuesday’s (yes…now you know one of the many reasons I am single.) I mean, if I take a girl to the Cheesecake Factory or the Melting Pot, we better be engaged!
That being said, I believe that one of the only reasons to spend my hard earned money is to make more money. This includes my education and power team. I will never understand how any intelligent person, how anyone who is serious about success (only about 5% of people are truly serious) will not invest in his or her business. I know many folks out there love to “bash” courses and seminars.
I guess these people are a lot smarter than me, because I never would have figured out how to do this business unless I worked with other investors, unless I bought courses and unless I attended seminars. I think the biggest problem that people who “bash” courses have, is that they are not implementers. These are the people who have attended a dozen seminars and who have 50 courses on their bookshelf, however, they have never closed a deal. (Just a quick thought…if you own multiple courses and have never done a deal, take a look in the mirror…. it’s not the courses, it’s you.) Also, any decent course or seminar should have a 100% money back guarantee…so if the product stinks, which some do, just send it back.
Invest in Yourself and Don’t Spend Your Money
Besides investing in your education, you should be investing in your power team. You need a good real estate attorney and accountant on your team. Sometimes I hear of investors who go to Staples and pay $14.95 for generic forms, rather than have a lawyer review a contract and spend a couple hundred bucks (knuckleheads.)
When investing in your education you need to think of the big picture and you need to think of the return on investment that you will get. For example, a few years ago I bought a course on short sales, which I think cost $1,000. I went on to do dozens of short sales and make a lot of money (I don’t do them anymore, because they are a pain in the butt, however, you get the point). So, whenever I invest in my education and in my business, I always want at least a 10:1 return on my money. And of course, I usually get many times that.
Also, when you are in Staples buying your $14.95 contract, think what it will cost you if you get sued over it, or if you lose a $50,000 deal because you didn’t want to spend $300 to have your lawyer review it. This is just like someone not spending $250 for a home inspection, only to find out later they have $10,000 worth of termite damage.
My favorite niche to target is absentee owners and I am always searching for unique ways to boost my rates…so that I get more leads, more deals and make more money. Anyway, a few weeks ago, I got an idea for a “type” of direct mail which I know pulls very well and I wanted to incorporate this type of direct mail to send to absentee owners, pre-foreclosure lists, free and clear lists, etc. This type of direct mail gets very high response rates but costs a lot more to send out. You can send out a regular letter for about .50, whereas this will cost me about $1.50 a letter.
Anyway, there is a marketing expert who is very familiar with the type of direct mail that I want to use. I have been keeping an eye on this guy through his books, websites and marketing emails. So finally, I decided that the best way to launch my new idea was to somehow hire this guy as a consultant. I called his office, told them I wanted to hire him and eventually I had a phone call with him. To get to the point, I am spending on day of consulting with him at a cost of $5,000. When I told my friends and family about this, they all laughed and thought I was nuts (yes, these are the same people who work in a cubicle every day…when it comes to criticism, the people “below” you financially are almost always the negative ones…very rarely will you get criticized by someone who is financially better off than you).
Sometimes It’s Better to Take 1 Step Forward and 2 Steps Back
Yes, $5,000 is A LOT of money. It is about how much I spent on my last car. However, when I think of it with my “business” hat on, I know I will have a very high return on investment. Right now, I specialize in purchasing properties subject-to and selling them on a lease option. My minimum profit is $30,000, but on average around $50,000…so, if this consultant shows me how to use this new type of direct mail and it gets me one more house, then obviously it paid for itself…but of course I will buy many houses with this and get a ridiculous ROI! (also, like I said above, each letter will cost me about $1.50. I could spend a small fortune “testing” this type of mail, or this guy can show me what will work best and save me time and money.)
I know this is a long post, but this is sooooo important to your success as a real estate investor. If you are cheap about investing in your business, then you will have a much more difficult and longer process to making big money in real estate. Another great reason to invest is that it drastically cuts your learning curve…I can only imagine how long it would have taken me to figure out shore sales on my own!
The story of the worst house I’ve came across in my life . . . Some of the articles I have written lately have been on topics of a more serious nature so I thought I would write about an abandoned house that I discovered a few years ago that was so unbelievable…. Well it was unbelievable. I thought I would tell this true story to show the lighter side to the business.
Fishy Smell That Would Give You a Headache
I was out searching for abandoned houses with my cousin, Peter Christenson, one hot summer day in July of 2016. I remember the temperature was over 100 and that meant that any abandoned house we found would be extremely hot inside. Inspecting the upstairs of a 2-story house, with no air conditioning, in the dead of a Texas summer, well that’s just not something they glorify on the infomercials. The house we happened upon is a perfect example of one of those properties you never hear about on TV.
Abandoned House With the Smell of Death
We found a house that we determined was abandoned. When we got about 10 feet from the door, we had to step back because there was one of the most foul, unpleasant odors coming from the inside…And we could smell it from outside. All the windows and doors were closed and it still smelled something awful.
We had to take turns running in the house, while holding our breath, to open a window and then run back out to gasp for fresh air. We both ran in & out of the house for an hour or so and yet the stench was still present. Airing the house out was not working so after another 30 minutes, we decided to run to Home Depot and buy some respirators so we could get in and inspect the house without gagging.
We opened up every closet door, every cabinet door and looked just about anywhere we could think of where the smell could be coming from. The house was totally empty but we began to think that the previous occupants had maybe buried an animal nearby or maybe they had buried a dead body under the house. It was such a horrible smell that our curiosities had us determined to find the source of it all.
Searching for the Smell
After we had searched just about every inch of the house and still came up with nothing, we looked at the ceiling and then we looked over at each other, eye to eye and without saying a word we set out to find the access to the attic. Since I was the lighter of the two of us, he propped me up and I got up through the hole and into the attic. I reached back for Peter and pulled him up through the hole. It was HOT up there! I’m not sure what the temperature was but I am sure it was in excess of 125 degrees.
We slowly started to crawl across the ceiling joists with our spotlights. We got across the main part of the house and came up to a double wall that separated the garage from the rest of the house. The open void between the two walls was about three to four inches of open space. When I got directly over the void and looked down with my spotlight… I froze right there after seeing what the light was revealing. I slowly looked over at my cousin, who had also stopped dead in his tracks. He slowly looked up and over at me and then rolled his eyes back down into the wall void. We had found the source of one of the most god-awful odors we had ever encountered.
It seems the previous occupants wanted to go out while leaving a statement. Something that would really get the attention of anyone that set foot in the house after they left.
Smell We Couldn’t Escape
It got our attention! The occupants had gone through the considerable trouble of getting up in to the attic, crawling across the ceiling joists to get to the void in the wall. At that point, they had actually dumped thousands and thousands of…. FISH! Yes, FISH! Tons of them! None of them were really that big but most of them were the size of Sunfish. We couldn’t believe it. It must have taken them weeks to haul that much fish up into the attic to dump between the walls. That was the only way anyone could have got anything into that space.
We came down out of the attic and went to talk to the neighbors. They told us that the house had been vacant since March and it was July when we discovered the house. That was a good five months for all that fish to fester and bake in the hot Texas heat.
We later learned that the lender had pressed criminal charges against the previous owners because what they had actually done was intentionally destroy the property.
The fish had been in the house long enough for the smell to penetrate every part of it and it was eventually bulldozed because to get the smell out, all the drywall and the wood in the frame would have had to be removed and replaced. I guess the insurance adjuster figured it was a total loss.
Experiences like that, is why I love real estate. There are no two houses alike. And anytime I think I have seen it all…. I stumble upon a house like the “Fish House” and think to myself… “Wait ‘til everyone hears about this one!” So the next time you happen upon a house where something seems “fishy” grab your flashlight and go look in the attic.
LOCAL RECORDS OFFICE – Real estate has been booming in 2016 in this article the pros at Local Records Office will be talking about tenants and loans. Because homeownership is often less expensive than rent, we could see some of our rent-to-own tenantbuyers start trying to execute their options. If you don’t have tenant buyers, you may want to consider using them for your rental property. You will generally get more rent and less hassle. In my experience, less than 20% of tenant buyers end up buying the home, but for me, I am happy when they do.
I like getting a large payday, with no Realtor fees that I can roll into another deal. For this reason, I want to be sure my lease option documents are prepared correctly, to help their chances of getting a loan.
Buyers vs. Sellers
There are many effective and valid ways to structure a lease option transaction, depending on the parties involved and the objectives in mind. What a lot of sellers and buyers often overlook is that one of the most important “parties” to this transaction is the underwriter on the buyer’s loan, when the time comes to exercise the option.
One of the most important things to know about today’s new underwriting climate is that the tolerance for inaccuracy is down to almost zero. Much like I would recommend a good attorney review your documents, I think it is crucial for a good mortgage broker or banker to do the same. Here are ten helpful hints to ensure the tenant buyer’s loan closes:
“Rent credit should be allowed to be used towards the buyer’s down payment”
Rent credit should be allowed to be used towards the buyer’s down payment or minimum borrower contribution only if the rent actually charged does not exceed the fair market rents in that neighborhood. It is actually best to write your agreement that the rent credit reduces the purchase price and is NOT considered down payment. If they need the additional down payment, you may be asked to prove the rent credit is equal to the amount they paid above market rent, which is not going to be an easy task.
Fair market rents will be determined by the appraiser in the subject property’s appraisal report. Credit for down payment must be accrued for a minimum of 12 months.
It is best to get as much money upfront as possible because all of that can be credited as down payment. You can reduce the amount of money the tenant buyer needs by offering to pay their closing costs. This could also be part of the rent credit, if it is structured correctly.
The Lender Needs the Right Documents from You
The lender will require a copy of the rental or purchase agreement evidencing a minimum original term of at least 12 months, clearly stating the monthly rental amount and specifying the terms of the lease.
The lender would like to see that the lease agreement references the purchase option and vice versa, or they are contained in a single contract, so the underwriter can have documentation of both aspects of the transaction. I have my option reference the lease but I want the lease to stand on its own; so for me the lease is a separate agreement that does not reference the option. This is how most attorneys would suggest you do it, so it is a good idea to run your contracts by a competent attorney AND a mortgage professional.
In no case should the seller ever commingle the borrowers rent credit, purchase option deposit, or security deposit with their own personal accounts.
Make Sure to Document Every Transaction That way You’ll Be Prepared
Any rent credits, option payments and security deposit funds should be thoroughly documented to include copies of the original checks, copies of the cancelled checks, and copies of the account statements showing their entrance into and retention in those accounts.
Lenders will require copies of the buyer’s cancelled checks or other proof of payment for the last 12 months evidencing the rental payments. Be sure the tenant knows this if they are paying with money orders.
Sweat equity is normally not an acceptable source of funds or credit; only actual monies paid as outlined above, so don’t count on the buyer “earning” their down payment in lieu of rent payments.
Taking the above measures should help ensure a successful closing if your buyer can still qualify in all other required areas. With that said this article is not meant to replace a competent mortgage professional. Please visit Local Records Office’s webpage for a list of vendors they recommend.