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first time home buyers rebate expanded and extendedPresident Obama has signed the bill to extend and expand the home buyer tax rebate.  First time home buyers have been enjoying the $8,000 tax credit since it was signed in early 2009.  The first time home buyers tax rebate was set to expire on November 30, 2009 but now it has been extended to all houses put under contract before April 30, 2010.

Along with the extension President Obama signed an expansion of the original tax credit.  The expansion allows many homeowners, who purchase a new primary residence home, to enjoy a $6,500 refund.  Homeowners are eligible for the $6,500 if they have lived in their home for five consecutive years out of the past eight years.   The earnings income limit for receiving the tax credit are $125,000 for individual and $225,000 for a couple.  The new purchase does not need to cost more than the original purchase and here is an example of how the 5 out 8 consecutive year residency should apply:

Renting scenario:  If you previously owned your home for the five consecutive of previous 8 years, then sold it and chose to rent a different home you would become eligible to purchase a home and receive the rebate. Please contact your cpa or tax specialist to be certain of your situation.

Divorce scenario:  If you and your spouse lived together for five consecutive out of the past eight years, got divorced and went your own paths but did not repurchase a new home you would then potentially be eligible for the $6,500 tax credit.  Please be sure to contact your cpa or tax specialist to be certain of your situation.

It is estimated that approximately 2 million home buyers will take advantage of the tax rebate this year and that this tax credit could pump more than $20 Billion into our general economy.  The hopes of our Government leaders is that it will ultimately lead to a sharp rise in home sales and ultimately help lead to a stabilization in the overall market and economy.

Extending the tax rebate will help to continue to give a great incentive to first time home buyers nationwide.  The expansion is expected to lead to greater sales in the “Trade-up” category where home owners move up to a more expensive home to take advantage of this offer.


invest-now.jpgThe Senate has agreed to extend the first time home buyers tax credit.   Approximately 1.5 Million first time home buyers have taken advantage of the rebate in 2009.  The rebate allows first time home buyers to capture the $8,000 rebate.   The Senators have agreed that the tax rebate be extended to April 2010.  Next up is the vote of the House.  The House is expected to accept the package and send it to the President for signature.  It is expected that President Obama will gladly sign the extension.  In addition to the extension of the $8,000 tax rebate, they have agreed to expand the tax rebate to repeat buyers for a total of $6,500.

What impact will the extension and expansion have on our economy?  National Association of REALTORS® estimates that each home purchase contributes approximately $63,300 into our economy which is the approximate contribution of one new job.   Which organizations financially benefit from a home sale?  Here is a short list of some of them:

Realtor’s and Brokers:  6% commission on each sale.  Assuming the national average of a home sale is approximately $200,000 the commission per sale will average approximately $12,000. 

Settlement Agents:  The title companies and attorney’s generate income by selling the title insurance and providing legal services.

Mortgage Brokers:  Earn commission by writing your loans

Home inspectors and contractor’s:  Earn income on inspecting and then repairing the homes as needed.

Appraisers:  Earn their income for determing the value of your home

Financial institutions:  Earn their income through interest and numerous fee’s associated with your financing.

The first time home buyers rebate has had a big financial impact on our economy.  Expanding it to include a $6500 rebate to everyone will have a huge impact which will be covered in our next blog.


Nearly 1.5 Million people have taken advantage of the $8,000 tax rebate since it’s conception in January 2009. The tax credit has been available to all first time home buyers. The first time home buyer is defined as anyone who has now owned their own home for three consecutive years. Oh, one more criteria for eligibility… It must be for your primary residence which is unfortunate for investors. The credit is in the form of a tax rebate for 10% of the purchase price of the home, up to a total of $8,000. One of the great benefits of the tax rebate is that is FULLY refundable to the buyer. For instance if the first time home buyer owed no taxes on their taxes, then the first time home buyer can ammend their tax return and capture the full $8,000.

The tax rebate has helped improve the national home sales. The current tax rebate is set to expire on November 30, 2009.  This means that the purchase must be fully closed and completed in order to qualify. It typically takes approximately 30 days to close on a home transaction with conventional bank financing. The point is that in order to be confident your purchase will qualify you should plan to be under contract to purchase your home by November 1, 2009. If you are trying to capture the $8,000 tax rebate and have not yet put your home under contract or you dont qualify for conventional financing then you need to consider finding an alternate approach. One alternate approach is to find seller financing. If the seller is providing the financing and you do not need to wait the typical 30 days for bank financing, then you can still close by December 1, 2009 without many challenges.

What about the possibility of extending the rebate past December 1, 2009?   There are currently several bills  in Congress that would allow the extension. Each of the bills in Congress provide alternate solutions toward the extension. Of course there is a lot of politics involved in completing the extension, from all poitical parties. Here is a brief summary of the extensions:

S1230:  Senator Johnny Isakson  introduced Senate Bill 1230 in June.  The Bill proposes a tax credit up to $15,000 that can be split over 2 year for everyone who purchases a home for their personal residence.

HR 2619:    This one  proposes to extend the existing $8,000 tax credit to July 1, 2010 and adds provisions for a tax credit of up to $3,000 for homeowners who refinance.  This would certainly create a ton of refinanes.  Is this part of the recent mortgage issue?  Many Americans seem to use their home equity as an ATM machine, pulling it out and spending it.  I guess that would potentially help spur the ecomony in the short term.

HR 2801 – Similar to S1230 but it extends benefits to January 1, 2011.

Several key politicians are publicly making comments about getting the extension approved by early November.  Those making positive comments include Senator Bill Nelson of Florida, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus.  They are hoping to extend the rebate along with unemployment benefits at the same time. 

One thing for sure is our current Government is committed to spending an unlimited amount to try and stimulate our ecomony.  Our Leaders appear to be committed to short term gains at the expense of future generations.  That said, extending the first time home buyer credit will certainly help encourage American’s to own their own home. 

What do you think?  Should the first time home buyers credit be extended?  Why or Why Not?  What are the short term benefits and long liabilities associated with this extension?  I would like to hear your viewpoints so please leave some comments.

Chris Johnson (Cronson) did our shed demo and yard work this week

Chris Johnson (Cronson) did our shed demo and yard work this week

If you are spray painting, be sure to mask everything!

If you are spray painting, be sure to mask everything!

On our road to financial security our construction goals include elements of quality, speed and cost control.  I have seen many investors make major mistakes on all three of the above.  Some people cut costs and lose quality, others are not prepared to complete the renovation Lightning Fast or on budget. We typically turn a house fully renovated in 3 weeks.  In that 3 weeks we manage the project as tight as possible and make sure that reliable contractors are on-site with their needed materials every single day until we are 100% finished.  From the day of purchase until the day of being complete, we follow a logical process which I will share in a minute.  We are also very conscience of our overall costs/budget as well as the quality of our materials and contractors.

In this blog we are following one of our renovations from start to finish so let me update you on what we did this week.  We first ordered our dumpster which we planned to put in the back yard from the access road behind the house…  that didnt work out because the dumpster driver could not turn tight enough to place it in the back yard.  Needless to say it ended up right out front which we really dont like to do.  Once the dumpster was placed we immediately began the demo.  The demo included gutting the kitchen cabinets and the lower bathroom completely.  It also included getting rid of fine items such as the bedroom doors that the dogs ate through and other great finds along the way. It also includes a lot of exterior work like getting rid of the old, word shutters and mailbox. During demo we also work hard on the yard. Typically grass and weeds are knee high, shurbs heavily over grown, etc. At this house we had two sheds, one is in great shape and the other had to be torn down, see photo above.

Once the demo was complete, we installed the new doors and completed the necessary wall repairs and prep for paint.  This was a lot of work on this house as the walls were in rough condition.  We also completed our rough-in plumbing construction which included installing a new bath tub and surround, fixing the laundry plumbing and other fun items!   Late this week our HVAC contractors came, right on schedule and installed the new furnace and air conditioning.

Now that plumbing is roughed in and HVAC is in-place we have begun priming the walls with kilz.   The kilz works great for hiding a lot of sins and getting us ready to apply the paint.  We typically paint every house the same way which is antique white on the walls, semi-gloss white on the trim, ceiling white on the ceilings and eggshell white in the kitchen and baths.  The historic style mouldings in the this house along with the chair rail and crown pop right out with the semi-gloss white and contrast of the antique white on the walls! 

Whats up next?  This weekend our crew is installing the ceramic flooring in the kitchen and bathrooms.  The middle of next week our new kitchen cabinets will be installed.  From there we will do final plumbing and electrical to prepare to finish it up!

Happy Investing!

Jim Ingersoll

Gross looking kitchen

Gross looking kitchen

Door with hole in it from dog

Door with hole in it from dog

Gross bedroom before renvoation

Gross bedroom before renvoation

Welcome! We are glad you have joined us for our series on the Road to Financial Security.  We are going to follow a road map that will lead to cash.  Anyone need extra cash in this economy?  Ulitimately the real road to financial security is the buy and hold strategy.  I recognize that our economy will prevent those with job loss and insecurities from following this road map which is why this series will focus on flipping a house for fun and profit.

As mentioned in the previous blog our chosen investment needs a lot of loving in order to restore it to it’s former glory.   This house was literally a Dog House prior to our acquisition.  There is evidence of this point throughout the house.

1.  Severe dog stains on the hardwood floors…  you know what I mean by dog stains right?  You can see and smell them.

2.  Holes in the bottom of the doors and moulding around the doors in the lower bedrooms.  I believe the dogs were kept locked in these bedrooms and the literally attempted to chew their way out.  Take a look at the attached photo to see what I mean on this point.

3.  The whole downstairs really smells bad right now.

Besides the bedrooms ruined by the dogs, the kitchen is the next worst room needing some serious attention.  Take a look at the photo to see what I mean.  We will soon be gutting this kitchen and look forward to brand new cabinets, countertop, plumbing, appliances and a ceramic floor.

We will also be gutting the lower bathroom and installing new ceramic, tub, vanity, etc. into that so it will be brand new as well.  The hardwood floors will be refinished, the house will be painted entirely on the interior.  Once complete you can walk through the front door into the living room and the nice fireplace will catch your attention along with the refinished hardwoods and the newly installed ceiling fan.  From there you will notice the nicely renovated side screened porch and proceed to the brand new kitchen.  This house will offer 4-5 bedrooms, 2 full baths a nice yard and great neighborhood once complete.

On the exterior of this house we will be repairing the vinyl siding, painting the porches, and fixing up the garage along with lots of yard work.

Come along with us on the road to financial security.  The next segment will be coming soon with our construction updates and new photos, etc.

French St - Richmond, VA

French St - Richmond, VA

Welcome!  We are glad you have joined us for our series on the Road to Financial Security.  We are going to follow a road map that will lead to cash.  Anyone need extra cash in this economy?  Ulitimately the real road to financial security is the buy and hold strategy.  I recognize that our economy will prevent those with job loss and insecurities from following this roadmap which is why this series will focus on flipping a house for fun and profit.

The house we have chosen to chronicle is located on French St in Richmond, VA.  French St is an awesome neighborhood where every single house is very well kept and the home owners shown tremendous pride in keeping their lawns and such in a meticulous fashion.  It is also just 3 short blocks to the Maymont Park Pond and the Byrd Park area.  These are the reasons we have chosen to buy, fix up and flip this house.

The chosen house is the only house in the block that needs work.  The neighbors are very happy, let me repeat VERY happy to know it will soon be fixed up.  The neighbors are great and have lived in their houses for a long time (aka stable, nice neighborhood).

This house has grass that is higher than my knee’s along with heavily overgrown shrubs and trees.  Other than the outrageous lawn, the exterior is not in bad shape.  It already has nice vinyl siding and vinyl replacement windows.  Inside is another story…

The story from the neighbors is that when the former owners died the house went to the kids who then moved their dogs into the house.  Needless to say this is the smelliest house we have tackled.  The dogs were kept in a bedroom and they literally chewed a hold in the door and chewed off the door moldings.  Did Michael Vick live here at one point?  ha-ha, just kidding on that one.

This house does have a lot of great features including 4 or 5 bedrooms, hardwood floors and some nice character features.  It also has a nice fireplace and screened in side porch.  This home has approximately 1700 square feet and will appraise for around $220k once  our renovation is complete.

We are buying this house for $106k so their is penty of equity in this house.  I have financed it using a private lender so I did not need a bank mortgage.  I have worked with this private lender on several other houses and he continues to receive an outstanding return on this investments with me.  If you would like to partner with me and have available capital for one of our investments, please contact me direct at 804-677-9025.

The next blog will include the interior photos along with our construction plans and budgets, you wont want to miss it…  Happy House Hunting!

Cash for today or wealth for tomorrow? That is a great question that investors must continue to ask themselves. In today’s real estate market we are experiencing the greatest transfer of wealth of our generation. The sub-prime mortgage crash has created an unlimited amount of distressed properties that can be purchased at big discounts. The buying opportunities today can provide great investment opportunities for the investor. With the ability to buy real estate far below value the investor will have the opportunity for large equity gains on the acquisitions made. With the equity gains the investor must determine the proper exit strategy to capitalize on this market.

Once the acquisition has been made the investor has the opportunity to fix up and then re-sell the property at a great profit. Today’s distress properties have revitalized the potential to fix and flip houses in 2009. The primary difference in today’s opportunity is that this can be done in nicer neighborhoods than in the previous height of the market of 2006 – 2007. This is due to the high inventory of distress properties now available. One other major impacting factor is the market created for first time home buyers looking to take the $8,000 tax credit from our government. This is a huge incentive that has created a lot of new buyers this year.

A typical fix and flip in our market in Richmond, VA will look like this: Purchase price: $90k Repairs to house: $20k Re-sell house: $150k Flip profit: $40k You may be asking yourself why you would ever consider not selling a house today for a $40k profit. These types of deals can be acquired on a regular basis if you are active in the market and making offers continually as we are. My wife Cheryl and I have active discussions on exit strategy when we make these types of acquisitions. Cheryl really does not want to re-sell all these houses for the fast profit in 2009. She would prefer to hold onto them as rentals for the next several years. Why would she want to do that? Many of us believe that our government spending is vastly out of control with bailouts, cash for clunkers, heath care, etc. This spending will potentially follow with a run up in inflation, potentially hyper-inflation.

What if you hold onto these properties rather than selling them all for a profit today? While experiencing the greatest transfer of wealth of our generation you can collect income producing assets that will provide you with a nice rental income stream. You will enjoy watching your net worth skyrocket and begin to enjoy steady income from your rents. If you are fortunate enough to own a collection of properties and we do experience any level of inflation you will enjoy watching the appreciation multiply your net worth faster than you thought possible. So should you enjoy cash for today or wealth for tomorrow? Only you can answer that question.

It may depend on your current situation regarding to personal debt, income, planning and ability to fund the deals. I encourage you to build a simple plan and consider a mixed-exit strategy where you sell some for income today and hold the others for wealth tomorrow.

From acquiring, to investing, to repairing, to staging, to appraising, to inspecting, to putting it on the market, to open houses, to listing, to contracts, to actually selling… the process of investing in and selling a home from start to finish can be confusing and a daunting task. We want to make it easy! We are working with a new home that a private lender has invested his money in to yield a great percentage. We are the experts in the field of home acquisition and investments. This particular home has just been acquired and is in the process of getting repairs and getting ready to go on the market… SO we have decided to do a series of blog entries following this home and it’s investors from the beginning to the day it sells.

I continue to get a lot of questions on this investing now blog series via email, etc.  In the last post we highlighted what each person involved in this investment received.   Investing is all about who gets what.  A Seller may get debt relief, a Buyer may get a great house to raise their family in, an investor may get tremendous equity and rental income.  While making your investments it is very important to determine what each of the people involved in the transaction are seeking and what you can offer them to meet their needs.  Some may need the highest price, some may need a super fast closing, others may need to sell the house as-is.  Some buyers want a fixer upper, some want a house move-in ready and others are looking for just a great deal.  For private lenders, some may want a safe conservative interest rate such as 7% and yet others may want a piece of the action in the form of an equity position in your deal. One key to sucess is to determine what each player in the transaction needs and then engineer a solution that meets everyones needs, including your own.

Several people have asked what happened to the house featured in this investing now blog series.  It has been sold in a rather unique situation.  We ended up receiving an offer one morning which looked pretty good.  Before we signed the contract that day we received a second offer on this property.  The second offer was an all cash-offer with no financing contingencies, etc.  The best part of any cash offer is the super fast closing.  In this case they offered to close in one week so we took the offer on this house.  The unique part of the sale was the story behind the sale.  It was an all cash offer because parents were buying it for kids who are getting married…  Yes, this house became someones wedding gift!

Always remember to make your real estate transactions a win-win scenario so that the Seller, Buyer, private lender and yourself all can win and achieve their goals!


This blog post is courtesy of Just List ‘Em: a Flat Fee MLS real estate company geared towards helping YOU sell YOUR home.
We love them. You should too.


Congratulations! You’ve finally made the decision to sell your home. It’s been a long road, but you’re ready and willing to do what it takes to sell that home of yours and move on to something bigger and better (or maybe you just are moving to a new city for work). Either way, selling your home can be a big deal and you want it to sell with vigor! 

So, what should you do to prep your home so that it is ready and looking utterly fabulous to potential buyers? (This is what we call “home staging” — think of it like a high school musical, the show can’t go on until the stage is set and ready. A home is the musical and potential buyers are your audience).

A simple, clutter-free living room feels welcoming to potential buyers.

A simple, clutter-free living room feels welcoming to potential buyers.

Step ONE: De-personalize. Even though this is the first step, it can be the most difficult for people. Yes, this means take down those family pictures (especially the ones of your Great-Aunt Mildred), remove trophies, mementos, New Kids on the Block posters, and other various personal knick-knacks. This allows a potential buyer to picture THEMSELVES in the home, not you.

Step TWO: Clear the high-traffic “runway.” Do you have a fabulous couch table? Do you have an armoire in the foyer that you adore? Is there a runner carpet that adds flair to your stairs? Well, hate to say it, but too bad. Get rid of them all. By clearing high-traffic areas of “stuff” makes rooms, hallways, and foyers seem larger. Maximizing space = maximizing selling odds. 

Step THREE: Accentuate your “assets.” Just like you would want to highlight your great cheekbones with blush (for the ladies, of course), you want to highlight the great parts of your home. Do you have a fabulous fireplace, a beautiful bay window, or incredibly detailed, original crown molding? Show those features off! Don’t hide them with curtains, furniture, etc. Let them breathe! Let those assets show and enhance the unique value of your home.

These things can seem stressful, but in the end, they are just one step towards achieving your goal. Keep an open mind and know that you don’t have to throw away any of these things listed above (especially the New Kids poster…), you can just box these things up and hold them in storage until you’re ready to move! 

And when in doubt, bring in another set of eyes (a friend, family member, or coworker). It always helps to have an outsider’s opinion. 

Good luck and happy selling!

Check out our website and follow us on Twitter @justlistem.


This blog post is courtesy of Just List ‘Em: a Flat Fee MLS real estate company geared towards helping YOU sell YOUR home.
We love them. You should too.


After reading a great article by real estate guru, Mike Andrews on Real Estate Marketing in an Online World, I felt compelled to write and share some of my thoughts on a related topic. Whether or not a real estate company, or any company for that matter, is working on marketing, buying, selling, or just listing (pretty close to JUSTLISTEM, am I right?), social media has become a viable venue for building and expanding a business. However, when a business is just starting, or if a business is new to the interactive world, it can be overwhelming to decide how to successfully hit and tackle the right social media outlets–there are SO many.

So, here are a few questions and concerns I want to briefly consider and address:

1. What exactly is social media and why is it so important for business, more specifically real estate?

  • Social media, in essence, is the new, hip, and ONLINE version of what face-to-face mixers and organized networking events used to be. (Not to say that those things aren’t valid anymore, because frankly, nothing beats meeting, connecting, and relating to someone face-to-face).
  • For real estate etc., social media creates an interactive, responsive, and engaged audience 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Can you honestly say you get that with a print, radio, or television ad presence? 
  • Real estate can be a tough venue, for anyone, particularly in this economy. When someone is buying or selling a house, stress levels are UP, way up. Social media creates transparency, which ultimately, fosters a more inviting and relatable atmosphere giving potential clients the feeling of working and doing business with a trustworthy resource.

2. Which venues should I tackle first in my social media quest? (Yes, there are a lot of places to start. I say start with the big THREE and work your way from there).

  • TWITTER: The micro-blogging, status updating, networking tool-of-champions. Twitter helps connect you to people all over the world. Any business can benefit from the networking power of Twitter. 
  • FACEBOOK: Quite possibly the largest social networking tool out there. With almost 200 million users, creating a prominent Facebook presence through a group, profile, or fan page sets your real estate business up for far-reaching success. 
  • BLOGGING. It doesn’t matter where [we like wordpress :)], but blogging allows your audience to “hear” your opinion and learn what you know. You are the expert in some area and there are people who want to learn more about that particular topic… therefore, share your expertise, and you are ultimately bound to create a sense of legitimacy among your audience. 
  • ** This is a great social networking tool for real estate companies. Use it. Share tips. Be awesome.

3. What should I or my business keep in mind when creating an online/social media presence?

  • Be honest. Now that your real estate business has an online presence, which is somewhat detached from the general public, the general public is and will be savvy to everything you say. 
  • Be present. Don’t set these outlets up, post once or twice, and then ditch out on them. You will only be successful if your community is always active. 
  • Be engaged. Don’t talk AT people all the time. These are called communities for a reason, pose questions, answer questions, share links, respond to hot topics, etc. By becoming active among the communities you participate in, you allow your audience to grow and continue to be responsive. Be a participant, not a lecturer. 

So what is the overall lesson here? Don’t just use these tools to use them. Becoming a part of the social media spectrum takes time and commitment. Commit to these things like you would any other part of your business. You wouldn’t set up a time to meet with a potential client and not show up… you would follow through. Treat all of these avenues as a client meeting and FOLLOW THROUGH with each one. You wouldn’t buy a bunch of tools and not build the house. (I like metaphors). We are in the process of practicing exactly what we preach. We recently joined the social media spectrum and we are finding it to be extremely beneficial. In a tough economy, fostering a positive community is key to running a successful business.

Share your thoughts with us!

Jim Ingersoll

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