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All the talk among Realtor’s, Mortgage Brokers, Investor’s and first time home buyers is about whether or not the first time home buyer $8,000 tax credit will be extened past May 1, 2010.  Everyone working in Real Estate has enjoyed the surge of sales this tax credit has provided during the past several months. 

It appears certain that the $8,000 First Time Home Buyers tax credit will not be extended past May 1, 2010.  Everyone is wondering what the impact will be while enjoying the final surge of people buying during this last week of April.  Mortgage Brokers and Realtor’s are secretly asking one another what will happen next to the real estate market. 

I am an investor and from my perspective we are still working right in the heart of the Perfect Storm caused by the glut of distressed properties on the market.  Never before has there been such a transfer of real estate wealth caused by the greed of Wall Street.  Today’s home buyers can purchase property as if shopping at Macy’s inventory reduction sale.  Just like finding your favorite clothes marked down 30%, homes can readily be purchased at sharp discounts in most markets across America.   I expect to continue to see some strong movement in the real estate market for the coming months due to the incredible deals that are readily available to home buyers.

The second reason I believe the market will stay strong for several months is the second condition of this perfect storm.  Very low interest rates.  With decent credit home buyers are still financing homes with interest rates in the low 5% range.  In fact we have a closing on a home that was purchased from us scheduled to close may 7th and the borrower qualified for a rate of 4-1/8%.  The very low interest rates will not last forever and the fact is they worth far more than the $8,000 tax credit, assuming the average American spends the $8,000 and does not re-invest it for a profit over the next 15 years.

The third reason I believe the market will stay strong for a while is the wide availability of grants.  In Virginia where I live, and in many states across our nation there are many grants still available to first time home buyers.  We recently sold another home in Virginia where the borrower qualified for a $10,000 grant.  Again, that grant exceeds to return of the $8,000 tax credit.

The good news is that I believe homes will continue to sell for the next several months.  The key to your sales is the same as always:

1.  Property condition:  There are a lot of homes still on the market; to make yours stand out from the others be sure it is 100% clean, clutter free and well maintained inside and outside.  Be sure the outdoor space is appealing with a well cut lawn, mulched flower beds and trimmed bushes.

2.  Marketing:  The majority of home buyers begin their search on-line.  Be sure that your home is marketed heavily on the internet.  You should be sure to have your home listed onto the MLS either list it yourself with a great flat fee MLS listing service such as http://www.justlistem.com or find a strong realtor.  Your home should be listed on craigslist, zillow and trulia along with the MLS.  In addition to internet marketing and the MLS, be sure you have a property flyer along side a great for sale sign that is easily read when people are driving by your home.

3.  Price:  In this market you need to consider your listing price carefully.  Take time to review the comparables of recent homes sold in your neighborhood, speak to a strong Realtor or simply have it appraised.  You will want to price your home competetively and be sure to offer the new Buyer assistance with their closing costs to make it easy for them to purchase your home.

Sit back, relax and enjoy this perfect storm.  There should continue to be strong sales for the next several months due to low interest rates, readily available grant funds and the continued great opportunities to buy.

What do you think the impact of no longer having the $8,000 first time home buyers tax rebate will be?  Leave me your opinions in the comments.  I would love to know your thoughts.

They key to selling your home is marketing, marketing, marketing.  Besides listing it directly to the MLS so that Realtor’s can sell your home you should consider simple ways to let everyone know your home is now for sale.  There are a lot of marketing activities that all help you get your home sold so you can collect the profit on your investment.  I have organized them into sections from basic to advanced.  You should work to incorporate all of these into your marketing efforts to maximize your ability to get your house sold.

 The marketing basics begin with your MLS listing and a house for sale sign.  You can pick up a for sale sign at your local store or buy a more custom sign on the internet at sites like www.buildasign.com.  You should look for a large sign with a solid frame that is easy for passer-by’s to see and read.  Resist the urge to use a very basic for sale sign as this one below.  This is a basic for sale sign in orange and black and does not indicate exactly what is for sale.  It could be a car for sale, a dog or an old tractor for sale, the passer-by’s really have no idea what is for sale.

 Be sure the sign has great contrast and eye pleasing colors such as red and white.  Once you have your sign remember to make sure your phone number stands out boldly.  Place it at the property in a location that can be easily seen as people drive-by your home.  I prefer a sign like this one below:

  In addition to a basic “for sale” I recommend using some home for sale directional signs at any intersection near your home that has significant traffic count.  It is an easy way to let thousands of people driving down a busy road know that a house is now for sale.  You will be surprised to get phone calls from people that work near your home and want to live near where they work.  Below is an example of a directional for sale sign.  A directional style sign is very effective on nearby intersections, especially if there is a lot of traffic.  It is essentially a billboard announcing that your home is now “For Sale.”

 Signs are an easy way to let the people who live and work in the area of your home know that is now For Sale.  Often times relatives will be interested in moving near their family and will scout out your for sale sign and call you for the information.  Neighbors will also call friends hoping to pick their new neighbor.

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.

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.

Welcome to WEEK TWO of our entries: the process of investing in real estate from START to FINISH.

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The Bolling house -- Week TWO.

Our project -- Week TWO.

Of course, there are no surprises this week!  Renovating a house is just like peeling an onion–you never know for sure what you have until you peel it all back.  We had TEN people working on this house for the better part of this week.  It is critical to be prepared to start the work the very first day that you close on the home. Our first trip to Lowe’s home improvement center was fun. It was like a parade with about four carts full of materials.  [BTW: ANYONE can save 10% at Lowe’s by getting the coupon from the “change of address packet” at their local post office.  This week we spent $1,400 in materials at Lowe’s and saved $140. Pretty sweet, right?]

Here is what we did this week:

Constructing the new full bathroom

Construction of the new full bathroom

  • New dimensional shingle roof
  • New deck in the back yard
  • New full bath (almost done)
  • New heating and air conditioning installed (WITH a 2.5 ton heat pump)
  • Prepped all walls for painting

Here’s what’s happening NEXT week:

  • Completing all interior work
  • Refinish all hardwood floors
  • Lay new kitchen floor
  • Lay new bathroom flooring
  • Replacing shutters
  • Painting of exterior trim
  • Complete all landscaping work
  • Determine sale and listing price
  • List home using Just List ‘Em: http://www.justlistem.com

Our investor is very pleased with the progress of the renovations on the property. By using his IRA to fund the project, he is receiving an 8% interest return on his overall investment–something he would never have received from a bank. We are so happy to be collaborating with a private lender on such a great project. By becoming a private lender and investing in real estate when the stock market is not at it’s best, you are able to achieve greater financial gain in an easy and reliable manner. After last week’s post, we received A LOT of questions regarding this process. We would be happy to answer them, but I would also like to refer you to this website:http://www.entrusttexas.com. [The contact is Quincy Long.] The Entrust Group provides a lot of GREAT information regarding self-directed retirement plans–this is a great place to start when considering investing in real estate and properties.

Look forward to next week when we discuss the completion of the renovations, sale-price, and MORE.

In the meantime, follow us on Twitter! @justlistem

-Jim Ingersoll

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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.

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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. 
  • **BiggerPockets.com: 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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