Build Investments Without the Risks

Build Investments without the Risks

Although many companies offer stock options and there are many financial services that offer portfolio advice, how secure are your investments? The stock market fluctuates frequently and you can quickly lose the profit and the initial investment. I know because recently my husband lost over $100,000 in his stock market investments. Our dream of starting our own business was now non-existent with no capital left. After a few mournful days and weeks, I discovered a different investment that doesn’t have the risks and pitfalls of stocks. It is a popular method of investing in real estate and becoming an entrepreneurial without the fear of failure.

Using our mortgage, we could pay just the minimum monthly payment and use the extra money we had been paying on it to invest in other real estate properties. Although it would take longer to pay off our mortgage, by the time we did we would have other investments and assets besides our home. Since our home is not increasing above the initial value of $300,000, it makes sense to pay only the minimum monthly payment so we will have a home worth $300,000 in a few years plus $150,000 additional in investments.

Although my husband was skeptical at first, we went to some seminars and training to learn more. It was the perfect Utah business opportunity we were looking for. We were able to gain the financial freedom and flexibility that we desired.

I would suggest researching and becoming informed of all the options before investing. But real estate investments may be the Utah business opportunity that fits your needs and lifestyle. Try to look up websites and attend training seminars to see what they can offer you. Many companies have several options to let you be your own boss without giving up your current job and needed income.

The Myth of the Red Summer Dog Cake

When doing business on the Internet, one of the highest goals a website can aim for is to be first on the list when someone searches for a particular term on any given search engine. There is a technique used for creating website content that lands at the top of the first page of a relevant Internet search known as Search Engine Optimization, or SEO. What is SEO? You are looking at it right now.

SEO uses metrics and calculations from various sources to develop written content that attracts search engines. For instance, if I search for ‘red apples’ in a given search engine, I’ll be given a list of websites that the search engine believes are most relevant to my input of ‘red apples‘. In its most basic form, the search may simply return the website that has the phrase ‘red apples’ appearing most often in its content. This may or may not help me, the searcher, in my quest. It will definitely lead to website creators stuffing the term ‘red apples’ into their content as often as possible. As a result, search engines have begun using more and more complex algorithms to find the best, most relevant content for my chosen search phrase.

Google, Inc. has become a household name synonymous with the phrase ‘search engine’. It has done so by developing the largest collection of information utilized by the pickiest and most accurate algorithms in the business. With its latest advances, Google can literally give a user a relevant list of websites before the user has finished typing in their search terms. That’s pretty darn quick. It should come as no surprise, then, that website creators now try to cater their content to Google specifically, rather than just search engines in general. SEO designers charge quite a bit of money to review and change your website content so that it appears at the top of the list of search suggestions on Google’s home page whenever someone enters a search term relevant to their clients’ business.

There is a definite art to SEO. Google and others have begun weeding out content that they determine to be stuffed with keywords. If a piece of content has a particular term in it twenty or thirty times in a short paragraph, the search engines assume that the content creators are up to no good, and block that content from appearing in search lists. But, if content has your relevant term in it just one time fewer than the limits set by the search engine, that content will likely pop up at the top of the list of suggested websites. How, exactly, does a website owner make the best use of this?

The easiest step is to create a title that has popular keywords in it. This is heavily weighted by search engines and can often be enough to get a high listing. Most content creators use tools such as Google Trends to find popular terms and write their titles accordingly. This is where the Myth of the Red Summer Dog Cake comes in.

Let’s try an example. By using Google Trends, look for the most popular term among the list: red, yellow, green, blue, and orange. You’ll see that the highest steady search term is red. You’ll also see that it pops up in news reports the most. Now, do the same thing for popular terms in seasonal categories, pets to keep at home, and desserts for family gatherings. In the end, you’ll most likely come up with these terms: red, Summer, dog(s), and cake. It only stands to reason that content written with a title containing all of these terms would skyrocket to the top of every search engine on Earth. Hence, my new article on Red Summer Dog Cake – The Latest Craze for Cool People.

Unfortunately, that’s not quite how it works. If it were, I’d be rich from advertising and so would millions of other web surfers around the globe. Though many people make a very good living strictly through the application of good SEO practices, those practices don’t end with keyword selection techniques that generate such horrific ideas as the Red Summer Dog Cake, or English Hot Lunch Cereal. Get the picture?

The best way to drive traffic to your content is to create copy that tells people what they want to know about a particular subject in a fresh, straightforward, and enjoyable way. Your readers will spread the word and forward your links and your site will go viral over night while other web masters think of engaging new topics based solely on trends and soulless keyword stuffing.

Saucing it Up with Entrepreneur Chris Wallace

What do a painting and a marinade have in common? Just ask Chris Wallace and he’ll tell you that creativity plays an integral role in both. Whether he is layering color or layering flavors, Wallace looks for the proper balance to render a pleasing result.

Wallace has always liked to create. His artistic bent has played out on paper, in the layout of a room and now in bottles of marinade and barbecue sauce. The first product, Drunkin’ Priest Dipping Sauce, offers a tasty blend of teriyaki-style flavors in an all-natural sauce.

As a partner in Sauce Gods, the southern California company behind Drunkin’ Priest Dipping Sauce, Wallace and his partner wanted a name that was “in your face” and would demand notice. The partner remembered seeing a drunken priest when he served as an altar boy, and the name was born. The image on the bottle shows Wallace in a clerical collar being taken away by the law — definitely an image that’s difficult to pass by without a second look.

The two perfected the recipe for the sauce from a base of soy sauce, ginger and garlic. What began as a marinade has become an all-purpose product, suitable for a wide variety of uses. A spicy version recently joined the original recipe in the Sauce Gods online store.

“My whole goal for all this was to create something delicious, entertaining and healthy. Food should be fun and shared. People gather around for food,” says Wallace.

The road to sauce success hasn’t been a smooth one. A company in North Carolina bottled the first batch in 2008 because Wallace had trouble finding a local company to handle the small run. The cost of shipping the product back to California ate into the proceeds. Later, they found a family-run company in Westminster, CA to handle the bottling chores.

Wallace makes a point of being present when the sauce is bottled, ensuring that each batch meets his specifications. A typical run constitutes 1000 bottles, a two to three month supply for the businessmen.

A new product, Skiny’s Pomegranate BBQ Sauce, joined Wallace’s line-up this year. Subtitled “Southern Style BBQ meets Southern California,” the sauce uses a pomegranate base for a sweetness and tang and all-natural ingredients. Wallace aimed for a healthier barbecue sauce that would appeal to health-conscious customers. The recipe is gluten-free. Wallace hopes the sauce will appeal to a even more people and reach a client base that might not be interested in the teriyaki sauce

Marketing receives a personal touch. Wallace makes appearances at farmers’ markets and swap meets across the state. Events like Girls’ Night Out at El Dorado County’s David Girard Vineyard take him into Wine Country. All along the way, he stops at mom-and-pop stores to offer his product. He likes the freedom of dealing with independent shops, feeling that they can make purchasing decisions on whether or not they like the product.

While the company hasn’t made a profit yet, it is close to breaking even with anything over costs going back into marketing. His near-term goal is to become self-sustaining so that he can work with the sauce full time. Longer term, he would like to have a chain of eat-in restaurants featuring his products. The legacy he wants to leave is a simple one.

“Don’t cut corners and don’t cheapen your products. I want even big companies to see that people’s health is at stake. I want to have a business that’s profitable even though it’s healthy,” says Wallace. With his attitude and dedication, he just might make that mark.

 

How to Buy New York HUD Homes

HUD

New York HUD agency officials provide listings of HUD homes in New York through a free online listings service. These are HUD foreclosures that were purchased by the agency at public foreclosure auctions. Individuals looking for a good deal on New York real estate should explore options for buying a New York HUD home. After looking at the listings and finding suitable properties, a buyer can then find and utilize a New York real estate broker or agent to place bids on HUD New York homes.

Step 1:

 

Make a list of properties that you may wish to purchase by looking at New York HUD home listings. You can find these listings of New York real estate properties by selecting New York on the map at hudhomestore.com/HudHome/Index.aspx. By doing this, you will get a full list of HUD homes located throughout the state of New York and a search tool you can use to narrow down your home search.

 

For example, if you are looking for Manhattan HUD homes, then you could select Manhattan as the city. Refine the search even more based on your personal preferences, budget limits, etc.

 

Step 2:

 

Find a New York real estate broker to place house bids on your behalf. This is necessary because HUD rules require an approved agent or broker to do the bidding, submitting paperwork, etc. You may find such agents by using the website with the HUD homes in New York. From the same main page, select the “Find a Broker” page. Enter New York for a full list of approved brokers or limit your search to specific cities in the state of New York.

 

Step 3:

 

Secure a financing agreement if you need one to pay for a HUD New York home. HUD certainly encourages people who need a mortgage loan to bid on the properties. In fact, you may need a loan preapproval to even get your home bid accepted by the agency.

 

Step 4:

 

Finalize the bid with your broker and have him or her submit the bid to HUD. This could take a while, as you need lots of financing paperwork and other documents to submit a bid.

 

Step 5:

 

It is now up to New York HUD officials to review and accept your house bid. If accepted, you then need to work with your agent, an approved closing agent and your lender to complete your purchase of a HUD home in New York.

 

Step 6:

 

All states use property deeds. In New York, it is imperative that you get a deed from HUD and file it in the New York county of the HUD property as soon as possible to protect your property rights.

 

Sources:

 

HUD Home Listings

Ten Steps to Purchase a Short Sale Home in Today’s Real Estate Market

short sale home

Today’s real estate market is seductive. People look at the ads or listen to the news and consider buying a property because prices have dropped so drastically. However, having ample funds to purchase real estate property is just one factor to think about before entering the real estate short sale world. This article shares insight learned during the process of purchasing a short sale real estate property in 2009-2010 in Florida.

Review these steps before you sign:

 

Step 1–Determine if you are serious about purchasing a short sale real estate property.

 

—Are you looking for an unbelievable deal in real estate? Or maybe a second house for a real estate investment?

 

—Do you have the energy to manage and take care of two real estate properties?

 

Step 2-Take a good look at your finances. Make sure you (and your partner) know how much money you have to invest in real estate and whether you can comfortably own two real estate properties at the same time. Have you thoroughly reviewed your funds? Do you and your partner agree now is a good time to pursue the purchase of short sale real estate?

 

Step 3–Review your local newspaper’s short sale real estate offerings. Saturdays and Sundays are usually the best days to look for real estate in the newspaper. Mark the homes/condos designated as short sales that peak your interest. Keep the newspaper handy. Discuss your short sale options with your partner.

 

Step 4-Do a drive-by of the short sale real estate properties you like. Note the location of the real estate in relation to grocery shopping, schools, malls, and convenience/gas stores. How do the areas look? Many short sale properties are not in good condition and need time, effort, and dollars invested to get back to their original conditions.

 

Step 5-Have a clear idea of the area(s) of town where you would like to purchase a short sale real estate property. Also, know the locales you wish to avoid.

 

Step 6–Use the internet to research realtors in your area. Look for realtors who have received recognition/awards and worked in the area for 15+ years. If realtors left their biography webpages blank or stated something like, “let me sell you your next house,” skip them. A serious, polished realtor will have a professional, well-developed web presence.

 

Step 7-Before you meet with the realtor, decide on your approach. Sometimes revealing too much too early to your realtor is not a good idea. Decide with your partner how much you want to disclose to a realtor early in the process. Consider negotiating a lower commission rate with the realtor, given the current state of the real estate market. If you work out a reduced rate, get it in writing from the realtor right away so there are no problems later.

 

Step 8-Do not allow the realtor to tell you what you will/won’t offer for a short sale real estate property. Your bid is up to you and your partner. Also, if you are going to counterbid, discuss this issue alone before making final decisions. Of course, these matters will eventually be discussed with your realtor. Just be sure you know what you want and won’t be swayed by the realtor unless a factual argument is presented.

 

Step 9-Before you sign, obtain all information regarding pending loans against the short sale property. What is the total owed on the real estate property? Find out as much about the seller as possible with your realtor’s help. Google the seller(s)’ complete name(s). Which banking institutions are holding the mortgage(s) of the short sale property? How long has the real estate property been for sale? Has it sold and fallen through in the past? Why did the short sale fall through? Insist on gathering as much information as possible.

 

Step 10-Be prepared for a very long wait. Some buyers have waited for 4 to 6 months JUST for a yes or no answer on whether a short sale contract offer was accepted by the seller and banking institutions holding the real estate property. You may not hear back from anyone with a solid answer for several weeks or months. If you cannot sit tight and go on with your life while you are waiting for responses from the realtor and banking institutions involved, do not pursue a short sale purchase.

 

Once the waiting is over, you will have more decisions to make. Many banking institutions will counterbid and try to increase the cost of the real estate property. Or they may refuse to negotiate at all. In some cases, so many levels of individuals exist through which communication passes, it can take several weeks for answers to brief questions.

 

Author’s Personal Experience of Purchasing Short Sale Real Estate

 

In this writer’s short sale purchasing experience, several “levels” of people (through which information passed) were involved in a complicated real estate sale:

 

  1. This writer and her spouse communicated with their realtor.

 

  1. Their realtor communicated with the local realtor who listed the property.

 

  1. The listing realtor communicated with the realtor across the country who represented the seller.

 

  1. The realtor across the country was the “immediate” realtor for one of the banking institutions holding a mortgage on the property.

 

  1. One of the banking institutions holding one of the mortgages hired a “negotiator” to negotiate with the “immediate” realtor living near the seller (not near the property).

 

  1. Although it can’t be confirmed for this author’s purchase, three random sellers of short sale properties have indicated they were shut out of all negotiations to sell their properties as those banks refused to communicate with mortgagees behind on payments. Thus, it’s possible the seller (of this writer’s purchase) was also omitted from this chain of communication.

 

  1. “Special” realtors hired by the banking institution(s) to do cost studies of the real estate property’s “true” current value communicated only with the banking institution(s).

 

In essence, the banks hold all the cards and will not respond to phone calls, letters, or emails from anyone. Everyone involved is shut out of the process at the banking institution’s whim. It’s feasible that many potential buyers simply give up because they can’t tolerate the waiting and disregard of their wishes. In fact, in this case, the writer and her spouse were later told there had been another buyer “in line” with a contract on the short sale property (the author was hoping to buy) waiting to be reviewed by bankers. These buyers got so frustrated with the waiting process that they simply dropped out when their short sale contract expired, rather than sign contract extensions to await the bank’s reply.

 

Because this writer and spouse were willing to wait and stood to get a great real estate property for a fantastic price, they ultimately signed 4 contract extensions. After many weeks of “negotiation” through the chain of people described above, a closing date was set by the bank. The writer and spouse had no choice at all in the matter. Unlike more traditional real estate property sales in Florida, the buyers had no input in the closing title company selection or the date of closing.

 

Conclusion

 

If you follow the steps above and maintain patience, you just might get the short sale real estate property you seek at a great price. Ultimately, this writer and her husband were successful in closing on the short sale real estate property they wanted. It was a long, winding road that was well worth the journey.

 

Sources

 

Personal experience.

Selecting a Real Estate Agent: The Importance of Going Local

local agent

I am very lucky to have a lot of great friends, and they frequently refer me to people they know who want to buy or sell homes in various locations across my state of Massachusetts… And because I value my friends and their friends, I often refer these people right along to another fantastic real estate agent who specializes in their particular city or town.

It’s not that I don’t want the business. And it’s not that I couldn’t do an adequate job for these people. But good enough doesn’t work for me – I want to know that I am providing my clients the absolute best service possible. The way I do this best is by being fully immersed in my local community – staying on top of what’s going on in the different neighborhoods, knowing the housing inventory and being an expert on local property values.

 

Here are just a few reasons it benefits you to work with a real estate agent who is based in and focuses on your particular community.

 

When Selling Your Home

Local agents know the true value of your home – believe me: the best real estate bargains I’ve seen in my city are on properties listed by out-of-town agents who don’t understand local market values    They know other local agents, who are working with local buyers, so they can personally promote your home to the people who will help sell it    They know what features and amenities make your home appealing to local buyers – proximity to various bus routes, the great cafe on the corner, a new park the city is planning to put in down the block – and can market it appropriately

When Buying a Home

 

Local agents can give you early notice on new listings in a competitive market – good real estate agents stay on top of local inventory through daily conversations with colleagues, by attending broker open houses and simply by walking around the neighborhoods

They will make sure you don’t overpay for your home – they know what comparable properties have sold for, which listing agents are notorious for overpricing their properties and which price their listings on the lower side to generate multiple offers    They are a wealth of critical knowledge on local zoning, condo rules and regulations, market rents – factors that will affect not only your life in your new home, but also its future resale value    They can connect you with reputable local contractors and other service providers

There are many additional reasons to select a local real estate agent to represent you when buying or selling a home, but you get the idea…

Real Estate Investing: First Visit to Your Potential Property

investing

For those of you who are still considering investing in real estate as an option, you are not too late. There are tons of foreclosures and short sales out there in the market waiting to be picked up by you. However, do all your homework and research the area prior to putting any money down. A better option is take advantage of the education a realtor has, although don’t rely on a realtor 100%. You have to take matters in your own hands and do a detailed research on the property you are considering to buy. Some realtors have the habit of saying anything just to make a sale – beware of them. Also do a lot of research even while selecting a realtor. Explain to them what you are doing and what you want out of it, this will help them understand you better and even help you reach your goals.

Now on to looking at the potential properties, again beware most of the properties are usually left in an absolute horrible condition and it makes you wonder if humans actually inhabited the house. Other the previous home owners know they are about to lose the house and purposely damage everything inside so that the bank does not make any money. Although it is hard to ignore all the mess when you first walk into the house, the most important thing to do is to scan for any major damages. For example, look for mold or mildew spreading around the ceiling and the top part of the walls. This is an indication that there was or is a leak somewhere in the roof. Look for the same around window frames and sills; this will let you know where the water is coming from. Additionally look to see if water is collecting anywhere inside the house. This will be a clear warning sign that the house needs a lot of work.

 

While doing the initial walk through also look at all the walls superficially to make sure all the walls are in-tact. It is always good to carry a flashlight with you while looking at houses, that way if there are holes in the wall you can peer through them and see if the walls have a termite infestation which is another major problem to consider prior to buying the house. As you walk to the backyard or the back side of the house, look at the A/C unit that sits out back and see if you can make out if it is in working condition or try looking up the date on the machine itself. Again, remember there may or may not be power to the house so you cannot turn the A/C unit on to see if it is in working condition. Lastly, as you are exiting the house take a look at the roof from the outside and see if it is looking brand new or if it looks discolored. A good way to do that is to compare the roof’s color and texture with the neighbor’s roof. If you see a lot of peeling and tiles missing, understandably this will be another big expense.

 

Finally, this is not an exact science, and the amount of fixing up you are willing to do is really up to the budget you have set aside for renovation. If you have a small budget and the house you like has too many problems, move on and don’t get too attached to the house. The market is still recovering and there are still deals out there!

Goal Setting While Investing in Real Estate

investing real estate

Everyone needs a goal in life; it could be to land the perfect job to finding the right spouse. The same applies for real estate investing especially when you are just starting out. I would definitely recommend sitting down and writing down the things you want to achieve from investing in real estate, even before you start out. This will be your outline, something you would do prior to writing a research paper. Warning – the goals you write down must be precise, time lined, and realistic. You can’t just write “I want to be like Donald Trump”, this is an example of a very vague goal. I wouldn’t even call it a goal; it would be defined as a dream.

Your goals have to specifically state what you want to do and the steps you are going to take to achieve them. For example, “I want to start investing in real estate by buying a residential property in the south side of town. I will start by researching the area and ask friends to recommend a realtor.” Furthermore, your goals should be time stamped, meaning you have to put some sort of expiration date on when you will accomplish said goal by. Using myself as an example – when I started out in December of 2009, I wrote down that I want to have 8 residential properties in my name by December 2010. So far, I have not waivered and I am on #5. It is also important to be realistic while writing down your goals. You can’t say on the 19th of the month that, I will buy a residential investment unit by the end of the month. Even if you pay cash for the property, it takes time for the realtors and title companies to do all the paperwork and put together everything for a closing.

 

Lastly, I would put together a list of goals I would like to achieve 3 months from now, 6 months from now, and 1 year from now. This way you have a clear picture of what you would like to achieve in one year. Additionally, I would recommend writing down a daily to-do list of things to do specifically towards the goals. And don’t start writing down things like getting a hair cut or grocery shopping. These have nothing to do with your goals. The last important piece of advice: constantly refer back to your goals on a regular basis and evaluate yourself fairly as to how you are progressing.

Ever Wonder How to Make it Big as a Realtor?

realtor

Well from personal experience as a real estate agent, I cannot tell how to make it big in the real estate market. One thing I can tell you is how I started to get noticed in the real estate industry. When you get noticed you get business.

When I first received my real estate license I would often think to myself, if I could be mentored or better yet stick to someone (like glue) that I wanted to be successful as or achieve the level of professionalism as someone; who would this person be? So I went up to my long time friend and ask if I could start my first few weeks out in the real estate industry shadowing them. This did not only unlock a good bit of business for me but it taught me how to get noticed and market myself.

 

The first thing I did was order myself business cards, car magnets, etc. Then I was very familiar with the internet with building websites and social networking. Social sites that I started out with was facebook.com, myspace.com, linkedin.com, friendfeed.com, and twitter.com. I also hired some freelancers on websites like freelancer.com to write articles for me on the real estate industry and use them to post to my personal blog and they would also submit them to hundreds of article directories. I also used a few viral video techniques to send visitors ultimately to my main web site which was my real estate web site with the company at the time I was with. I used Google adwords to drive traffic too, but do not attempt to do that if you do not know what you are doing. Please trust me on that one!

 

I have also used billboard advertising. I would and still do buy a bunch of really nice pens with my company name and contact details on them. When you think about how much people really love a good writing pen and one person borrows it, to the next person. It is another little viral technique that seems to bring me business. If you ever have seen the movie “I Love You Man”, or if you have not and you are reading this, you need to see that movie! You will understand why after you watch it.

 

Keep in mind that I kept my part time to full time job at night to pay for all this advertising and to keep food on the table and to pay our bills. When I first started out and even in the middle of my career I have thought that I may need to look at picking up some extra work, but whatever you do just do not give up!

Five Ways to Get Noticed as a Real Estate Agent

real estate agent

Let’s face it. Real estate is a dog-eat-dog market; only the tough survive, making the sales with the big commissions. If you are just starting out as a Real Estate Agent or are a seasoned veteran in a slump, you may be wondering, how can you get noticed as a Real Estate Agent? There are several things that you can do to try to stand out more in your community. This article will give you five suggestions on how you can stand out in your market.

#1: Attitude

 

One of the best ways to stand out is to have a good but know what you’re doing attitude. You can’t be too brash or a wallflower. You have to have confidence. If you lack the confidence, then fake it. No one will want to sell or find a house through you if you don’t seem to know what you’re doing. Plaster a smile on your face and keep it on when dealing with clients.

 

#2: Hard Work

 

You have to be a hard worker to be a Real Estate Agent. There are times when you will need to put in long hours or there will be times when a client wants you to show them a home that may not be a good time for you. It’s important to work hard to keep your business so you will have to sacrifice other things to stay ahead in the game.

 

#3: Discounts

 

Whether you are just starting out or are in a sales slump, offer discounts on your services once a year. Offering a discount will net you more customers. In our economy, more and more people are researching whose fees are cheaper and often pick who has the most affordable rate. Offer a discount that will be worth someone’s while and they’ll pick you before other pricier competitors.

 

#4: Donate to a Local Organization

 

One of the best ways to spread the word is to donate to a local school or charity. For example, elementary schools generally will list you on their school flyer and/or website that they received a donation from you. This will get your name out to people in the community. You don’t have to make a large donation to get noticed. You can donate $50 dollars, supplies the organization needs, etc. You’ll be helping a good cause and getting your name out there. Helping others is a good thing to be associated with your business because some people will sign up with you because of that.

 

#5: Build Relationships

 

It’s important to build relationships with the people that hire you. Find out the extra details about them, keep in touch, and leave a small gift when their home sells or they find the house of their dreams. You want them to remember you. If they remember you, they’ll use you again and refer you to others. Make your business more personal, don’t give them a few houses to look at and then ignore them. Answer their calls right away, check in with them. Win them over with your winning personality and make them feel special.