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Tips In Looking For Real Estate Agents

Once you have decided to buy your first home, you have to prepare yourself as well as your budget. You would need the time and money to purse your dream of being a homeowner. You would also have to contend with the grueling and sometimes frustrating process of home buying. You would therefore need to have someone to help you through it and that means having a real estate agent you can trust and work well with.

With that said, it is important to take note of that the first step you should take is to look for that agent. If you are at a loss where to look for agents, then this article is for you. Below are some tips you can use in your search for that ideal agent.

One of the best ways to find an agent is if someone you know and trust can refer someone to you. This makes a lot of sense especially if your friend or relative recently bought a house with the help of an agent. If they had a good experience with their agent, then you could be sure that you will be working with an ideal agent.

If you are out of luck with referrals, you can use the internet to search for real estate agents. There are plenty of websites that can help you make the right decision. There are sites which lists down the agents affiliated with this or that group operating in a particular area where you are looking to make your purchase. There are also websites operated and maintained by agents. By looking at their sites, you would have a better feel as to their knowledge about the real estate market and how helpful they are to their clients.

Attending open houses is also a good way to spot a good agent. By seeing them work, you would glean some information of how they operate. If they are very helpful to everyone, you could take that as a sign that that particular agent is dedicated to helping match people with the ideal property for them. If they seem to be pushy, then that could be a red flag as they could push you too to buy this or that property just to get the commission from closing a deal.

If you know an agent but cannot work with him or her because you are looking for a property halfway across the country, they might be able to help you get in touch with someone they know and can trust. Having a good real estate agent working with you to find your dream home is very important so you should be careful in picking whose services to secure.

You’re Moving Checklist- 5 Essential Tips to Consider!

Moving out from your old house to a new one could be a thrilling experience. However, there are several things that need to be done before moving out. Packing things from your old house entails detailed hard work so that when you do the unpacking at your new house, you do not miss out on anything. There are ways to make the process simple so that you can continue to experience the thrill of moving out of your house. Here are some tips that will make moving easy.

First of all, prepare a checklist of all the objects you will be packing before shifting to your new house. Keep a record by preparing a list. Have a numbered list which makes it easy to remember the items. Place the numbers on each of the packed boxes with items inside them and then match them according to the list. Not only numbers, it is recommended that you mention the names of the items inside the box so that you do not have to run around trying to figure out the contents inside the boxes. You will require plenty of boxes to put different items in them. Scarcity of boxes will compel you to pack incompatible things inside one box. Wardrobe boxes are perfect for the purpose because of the space they provide.

You can assign a color to each of the rooms in your new home. You can apply colored stickers on the box containing relevant items. Once you reach your new home, place sticker on the doors of each room matching the color. In this way, the movers will know where to put which box.

Keeping things together minimizes the chance of misplacing anything. Keep things in proper order so that they do not get misplaced or lost while packing. For instance place the bulbs with the lamps and do not stack them separately. Use tapes to take small items with the big ones so that they reach the destination properly. Cables and electronic goods are better carried in resalable bags.

While shifting home you will be carrying several precious items in your luggage. It is important to protect those precious items. Antiques, silverwares and jewelries should be carried safely. If no space is left inside your car, then place these items with your kitchen pantry and carry them. Know about the insurance provided by the mover so that you can claim the loss in case of any damage.

Pack well in advance so that you do not forget to pack things in a hurry. Start using fewer items in your home before leaving the house so that you have minimum things to pack while leaving. Consolidate the cleaning supplies nicely. Clean everything beforehand and vacuum each room before leaving.

There are several moving companies providing professional moving services throughout the year. Before hiring a company it is advisable to make a comparative analysis of moving estimates given by different moving companies. You must always go through the moving quotes gathered from different moving companies and then take the service of the best among them all.

Tips to Make your Apartment Look Spacious

Living in a small house can be difficult, especially if you have a large family. It becomes increasingly difficult if you are living in a rental apartment. Also, with the kind of lifestyle we have today, “space” is a crucial thing. Adjusting furniture and accessories without making the house look cluttered can become a challenge. However, this need not be the case. Done the right way, a small space can be made to look large! Smart organization of furniture and things used to decorate the apartment can make it look considerably spacious. Some tips you can use to make your rental apartment look big are:

Flexible Furniture

Having furniture that can be moved around the house can help you create space in the house. This kind of movable furniture is handy especially when you move into an unfurnished rental apartment. You can arrange the furniture as you like. It also looks different and stylish each time you change the placement of the furniture. You can have furniture that can serve multiple purposes. For instance, a sofa set can be pulled out to make a bed or a trendy side table that can also be used as a coffee table. This way you will use lesser furniture in the house making it look more spacious. Also, low seating furniture can create a feeling of more space.

Paints

Always use bright and light colors in your house. They create an illusion of open and airy spaces. Dark and deep colors can make the house look small and glum since they absorb light. If ceiling has moldings or decorative borders, paint them white or any other natural tone. This way the ceiling can look much higher. Another trick is to use stripes! To make your room longer or larger just paint your room in vertical or horizontal stripes. Use of pastel shades can also brighten it up. While painting your house, don’t forget your floor. The colour of the floor can also enhance the sense of space. Try and have a single color on the floor in the entire house. Paint the floor border that meets the walls with the same shade.

Lighting

The lighting that is used in the apartment can make a house look big or small. Usually, in a rented apartment, light fixtures are already present. However, if your landlord permits you, you can change these fixtures to other bright lights that can help you make the house look spacious. Where and how these lights are placed in the apartment also makes a difference. Lights that are hung and mounted on the walls will help to make the house bigger than table lights or lights kept on the floor as they take up more space. Use techniques like backlights and sliding panels to borrow light from one end of the brightly lit room to the darker side of another room. Use light reflecting wallpapers. Optimize natural light by keeping the windows unblocked.

Upholstery

The color and material of the upholstery used in the house also makes a lot of difference to how big or small a house can look. Like the color of the walls, the upholstery like curtains, cushion covers, bedspreads, etc., should also be bright. Go for lighter and thinner material as it will allow light to pass through the room. Use sheer curtains instead of deep and dark colored curtains. Select airy and light fabrics and bed spreads of neutral shades.

Storage

When you are looking for apartments on rent, you generally do not think of storage space. Most rented apartments do not have sufficient storage facilities. This can cause too much clutter later making your apartment look messy and small. How you store things in your house can make a lot of difference in space. Hence try to have closed storage spaces wherever possible in the apartment. This will reduce the clutter and make it look spacious. Also try and use smart furniture that can also be used for storing. For example, a bed with drawers can be used to store things; a cupboard can be built into the wall, a TV table with cabinets can also be used to stack things up. This will save the extra space that would have otherwise been taken by a stand-alone cupboard and make the room look spacious.

Mirrors

Mirrors can give the feeling of a big room. Big and tall mirrors give a room-enlarging effect. Place these mirrors cleverly. You can have lovely custom cut mirrors, beautiful carved mirrors as per your choice. When the space and light is reflected in these mirrors you get a feeling of depth. These mirrors can be placed on side tables, cabinets or in the hallway. You can have glass top center tables and window panels as well.

Everyone likes to live in spacious houses and apartments. If for any reason, you do not live in a big enough space, then you can always work towards making it spacious. Following these tips can help you make your rental apartment look big and spacious.

 

 

Home interior tips

Buying Your Dream Home: 5 Steps

With the housing market in a state of shock, and jumping through the necessary hoops to get that crucial mortgage being hard, buying your dream home may feel like it’s at an unattainable reach. Think again.

Here are the 5 most important step you can start taking today to achieving your dream and purchase that home. All these factors presented are of fundamental importance but when followed will place you firmly on the path to success.

1. Shape up financially
Shake off the burden of debt as quickly as possible. Plan how you will get debt free or at a minimum only have a small bank overdraft (with low interest rate). Always start by paying off the debt with the highest interest rates. Have completion date and stick to it.

Learn to budget, how to stick with it, and start using one today. Make saving an essential part of the budget. The two easiest ways to save money is to get debt free and learn to spend less, consider doing both.

2. Location
Using websites online you can quickly find the crime rate, the average wages, and the change in house prices over the last five years. Certain areas or streets perform better than other, research more why this has occurred in those areas.

Take time to drive around the neighbour to get a feel for the area. See if you can locate a good school (within walking distance), supermarket and local convenience store (check the hours) and of course you can check things like play parks, pubs etc too! See how many house look abandoned or in a bad state. Lastly, how far are you from the office? How easy is it for you to get the train (if you work away a lot) or to the shops?

3. Let the Hunt Begin
Search high and low for properties on the market; make a list of what takes you’re fancy and what rubs you up the wrong way.

When you have a list of what features you are looking for and potential neighbours, then you are ready to find estate agents and let the house hunting begin! Stay focus on what you are after and your price range.

4. Find a Mortgage
Study the types, feature and interest rates currently available on mortgages. Do not rely on the mortgage lender to give you advice, make sure you know all the facts for yourself. Remember it’s their job to sell products. Also when comparing mortgages and their terms, do check how they compare online.

5. Buy
As this is a long term purchase, do not get caught up with short term ideas or see this purchase as a quick way to make money. With that in mind, make sure you pay a fair price and have the confidence to ask for a discount if needed.

Trust the information presented in the home survey, and weigh up if you can afford to take major problems should any arise. In these situation it good to know you can walk away.

 

Easy Guide when It come to interior design

10 Tips For A Quick Property Sale

A few years ago, when the property market was booming, you probably would have had a buyer for your home before the listing had even appeared in the estate agent’s window. But times have changed and if you want a quick house sale in the current economic climate, you need to do everything possible to attract a potential buyer.

10 tips for a quick property sale

1. Tidy it up! Potential buyers don’t want to see clutter and mess everywhere—it detracts from the important features in your home and makes small rooms look even smaller. Box up miscellaneous clutter and get rid of extra pieces of furniture until you have a sale.

2. Bedrooms are always an important selling point so if you have a bedroom currently being used as a study or playroom, put a bed back in there to ensure your home appeals to families. However, if you are hoping to appeal to young professionals, highlight potential home office space instead.

3. Decorate! You don’t need to go mad and have a new kitchen/bathroom fitted, but a lick of paint and some new carpet and curtains will help attract potential buyers, particularly if the property is looking a bit worn around the edges. And if you do decorate, stick to plain, light colours to create a feeling of space.

4. If there are any DIY jobs you have been putting off for years, bite the bullet and do them! Leaky gutters and a broken tile might seem unimportant to you, but they could be enough to put a buyer off, so fix them.

5. Kerb appeal is very important when selling houses—stand outside and look at your home from a buyer’s perspective: if the first thing you see is a lot of weeds and the recycling bins spilling out on to the driveway, it’s not a good look. So tidy up the garden, cut the lawn, plant some flowers, and add a hanging basket or two.

6. Don’t overprice your property—it may sound obvious, but too many people think their property is worth more than the current market value, and then wonder why nobody is coming to view. Do some research to see what other properties in your area are selling for, and then obtain several valuations to help you agree on a realistic selling price for your property.

7. In order to sell a property, it needs to be marketed well, so choose your estate agent carefully. Look around and see which agent is active in your area and pick the one you feel has the best motivation to sell your home.

8. Although you are likely to be paying an estate agent to sell your property, it doesn’t hurt to put the word out there yourself—tell everyone and anyone you are selling, and if you are lucky, someone might have a friend or colleague looking for property just like yours.

9. Once you have a viewing lined up, clean your home from top to bottom, keep pets and kids out of the way, and avoid making nasty cooking smells five minutes before your buyers show up.

10. Make your buyers feel welcome when they come for a viewing. Offer them a drink and have information to hand about local schools and other important amenities. It doesn’t hurt to dig some utility bills out either, just in case they ask.

Selling a property fast is not an exact science, but you can certainly maximise your chances of attracting a buyer quickly by selling at the right price and offering them a clean, tidy and attractive home!

How To Use Testimonials In Real Estate Investing

No matter what you market, testimonials are the leading factor that convinces people to buy what you sell. In real estate investing, you will end up buying more houses if you present believable testimonials to motivated sellers.

You must get testimonials from all the people you work with – Realtors, motivated sellers, tenants, etc.

So how do you go about getting testimonials and how do you use them?

Never wait long
It is very important that you never wait long to ask for a testimonial. If you wait for a few days, you will be forgotten. The best time is when the excitement is still high, for example as soon as you close a deal.

Get a video testimonial, take pictures
It is very easy to get a testimonial when they have a check in their pocket. You can ask them to write it down. Take their picture if at all possible.

You end up with a hand-written testimonial with a picture. This carries more credibility than a typed testimonial.

Even better, always have a video recorder with you. You can use a smart phone to get a video testimonial.

A video testimonial takes only 2 minutes and are more believable and carry more credibility.

You can also use a voice recorder on your smart phone.

Send a letter and / or email
Send them a letter the same day you close the deal. Send it by email as well.

The letter should be something like this:

Dear Mr. Seller
Thank you so much for allowing us to serve you. It was a pleasure working with you and seeing the deal through to completion.

I was wondering if you could do me a quick favor? Could you write a short testimonial for me? I would really appreciate this as it would help me help more people looking to sell their houses quickly.

Please use the attached piece of paper and return envelope for your testimonial.

Thank you in advance and please let me know if there is anything else I can do for you.

Sincerely,
Your name here

Always include a sheet of paper with the heading “Write your testimonial here”. I prefer a yellow paper with the heading written in a red pen. It prompts them to write the testimonial right there and not keep it for later.

Also, include a self-addressed, stamped envelope so they just have to drop it in the mail.

Lots of people will not respond, but most will. Always ask for testimonials. You will get more testimonials if you ask everyone.

Your business will be more successful if you use these testimonials.

How to use testimonials
Testimonials are a big part of your credibility kit. Put them on your real estate investor website. Especially video testimonials.

Take your credibility kit in your car at all times. Show them to your motivated sellers every time you go to see houses.

Winning Marketing Strategies For Real Estate Investing

Having a successful real estate investing business means you must reach a lot of people with your marketing. Devising winning online and offline marketing strategies should therefore be a big task for you to keep those leads coming.

This article explores a few simple marketing strategies that will get you closing more deals and putting more money in your pocket.

First, you must realize you should never employ just one marketing strategy alone. The best marketing is the one that includes all the strategies you employ both online and offline.

Online marketing strategies
Any form of online marketing dictates that you must first have an effective real estate investor website. This acts as you landing point and plays several key roles crucial to real estate investing:

a) It tells your story for you
b) It captures leads for you
c) It pre-screens and pre-negotiates deals for you
d) It builds buyers lists for you
e) It converts leads into closed deals through integrated marketing tools such as autoresponders

You can get a fully equipped real estate investor website ready for business within one hour.

With your website online, you can now employ marketing strategies that will keep those leads flowing in:

1) Search engine optimization
You are likely to attract more business when you rank highly in search results in the major search engines.

Most people start their search on the internet. It follows that if you have a top ranking, then you will attract more business.

Search engine optimization places your website and business high in search results. The ultimate goal is the number one or top position.

Search engine optimization can continue bring you leads for years to come with a one time effort. This should form your first marketing strategy.

2) Press releases
Target prospects will contact you when you release topics of interest to the press.

Your phone will keep ringing as long as you can keep them coming. You are also likely to get the attention of local media, who can interview you as an expert in your field. You can get a lot of business from this kind of exposure.

You should also post articles of interest on your blog that are also syndicated to other outlets. The real estate investor website you get must be equipped for this.

3) Pay per click
This is not my most recommended method, but it can bring you leads quickly. To get a good return on your investment, you need to know what you are doing and optimize your ads well.

Offline marketing strategies
Your website address must always be included in your offline marketing.

1) Direct mail
This is by far the most powerful offline marketing strategy. The more targeted your leads are, the more response you get.

The key targets in my business are people who own real estate and are in legal trouble. This includes people going through divorce, bankruptcy, liens, people who have inherited properties, burned landlords and so on.

Post cards and letters work well in direct mail and can bring you the bulk of your leads.

2) Bandit signs
If your city allows them, bandit signs can generate a lot of leads.

3) Radio and television, newspapers, brochures, flyers, and billboards
These can also bring you a lot of leads and can make part of your marketing strategies.

Viewing Properties 10 Things You Must Carry

If you are active in real estate investing, you probably see a few houses every week. The consistency with which you close deals is largely dependent on what you do when you see the houses.

Here are ten things you must have with you at all times whenever you go to see a house.

1) Flashlight
When you go to see most houses, you are likely to find the utilities disconnected. This applies to most vacant homes you will go to see.

Always have a flashlight with you in your car at all times. It comes in handy.

2) Face mask
As unlikely as this sounds, I have found it necessary several times I have gone to look at houses. I don’t mean a ninja type of face mask, but the type that covers your nose and filters the air you breath.

I once went to see a house that had been vandalized, including the copper in the plumbing. By the time the city turned off the water, the house had flooded a few days.

I have since visited several properties you just cannot breath unless you cover your nose.

3) Hand sanitizer / insect repellant
Lots of vacant houses stink and are infested with fleas.

You touch dirty doors, knobs, etc and end up being infested with fleas. I always spray my shoes with insect repellant and sanitize my hands after I am done.

4) Digital camera / Video camera
The good thing is that most people now have digital and video cameras in their smart phones. Get yourself one if you do not have one, it combines many useful tools in one. Always take some pictures and even video when you go to see your houses.

While we are at it, sometimes I use my smart phone to record voice as I explain things I would otherwise forget. It’s easier than taking notes.

5) Calculator
Obviously you must carry a calculator. Again my smart phone calculator is more than enough.

This is one tool you will always need, whether you are estimating repairs, making offers, etc.

6) Screwdriver, hammer
To access properties that are boarded up, you will need these. The only way to gain entry is to un-board it, then re-board it when you leave.

7) Deal analysis
Before I go out to look at a property, I have already pre-screened the seller and have a pretty good idea about the repairs it needs. My visit to see it is simply to confirm and see it first hand.

So I always make sure I have done some comps and come up with some ball-park offer even before I go there.

Of course, the numbers can change if the reality on the ground tells a different story. Always be prepared to make an offer before you leave. Of course, by the time you are going to see the house, you already know what they are asking for the house.

Most motivated sellers will accept your offer right there.

8) Purchase agreement
You must sign a contract as soon as the seller accepts your contract, not later. I generally prepare a contract before I go to see the house and leave out some blanks that can change later.

9) Business cards
Most motivated sellers know others in a similar situation. Pass your business cards to them, they might refer more business to you. Of course, remember to promise a gift if they refer their friends.

10) Yard signs
As soon as I get a house under contract, I put a We Buy Houses sign on the yard, with the owner’s permission. You can get a lot of extra business from these signs.

12 Principles You Have To Stick To … When Purchasing Commercial Real Estate

AS YOU will appreciate, being able to sleep through the night is one of the primary objectives for any Commercial real estate investor.

And that’s what a great many property investors refer to as staying below your “Threshold of Insomnia”.

There may be several things which might lead you to lose sleep. One is over-borrowing; and the others are producing a poor assessment of the market place and the property itself.

Allow me to share 6 Tips about What to DO …

  1. At all times maintain sufficient cash reserves, so that you can manage a few months’ loan payments — in the event you were to lose a tenant, or the tenant is just late in paying for some reason.And have a sharp eye on smaller things like all machinery and maintenance bills, which can easily mount up.
  2. Make sure you have an investment strategy you’re happy with, and then stick to it. In other words, set reasonable objectives and pursue them. More goals have been missed as a result of lack of planning, than through the plan itself failing.
  3. Buy yourself a financial calculator, or access to a good software package. And learn to use it to develop a realistic projected cash flow, on an after-tax basis.
  4. Always keep yourself up-to-date with various developments within the current market. Be sure you keep track of what is the news and regulations affecting property; undertake training; go to workshops; and read books on Commercial property. Practical knowledge will reduce your potential risks, and boost your profit margins.
  5. Identify and retain a top-notch group of Consultants (real estate, legal, financial, construction, etc). The money you pay these people will be more than returned to you, because of the deals they can assist you to come up with.
  6. Wherever practical make sure your mortgages to not require you to give a personal guarantee. Consistently endeavor to make them non-recourse mortgages.

And 6 Traps You might want to AVOID …

  1. Do not be influenced to commit a large proportion of your capital into risky opportunities. They may appear glamorous as you go in, however they are often painful on the way out.
  2. By no means do deals on a handshake — always put them in writing, for your own protection.
  3. Avoid entering into joint ventures, without taking thorough guidance from your advisors.
  4. Never spend funds from the sale of one property to finance yet another, UNTIL settlement on the first one takes place. Way too many “sure deals” have an weird practice of coming unstuck.
  5. Steer clear of loans with variable payments. You will discover way too many factors outside your control, such as a unexpected surge in interest rates. Preferably, choose a fixed- rate loan. But at worst, have a 50/50 split between a fixed-rate and variable-rate mortgage.
  6. Avoid properties that have substantial negative cash flows (where by your costs considerably go above the income from the property).The return on money may be higher; but you can leave yourself rather exposed — much like share traders discovered, with their margin calls. Just be happy with neutral gearing; and then maximise your depreciation benefits.