Real Estate Investing: First Visit to Your Potential Property


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?


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,,,, and I also hired some freelancers on websites like 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.

Tips for Painting Your House Before Selling

painting home

Unfortunately, most people live in their houses for many years and never think about painting, until it comes time to sell. For most people, it just seems like an unnecessary expense, and for those who love to decorate, you might have every room a different color. In either case, you are probably going to need to paint your house before you put it on the market.

After working in Real Estate and being a contractor for many years, I am here to give you some tips to simplify the “painting before selling” process.


These are the most important rules to remember when painting your house before selling


Do it yourself or not?


Over the years, I have heard many, many people say painting is easy, and they can do it themselves and save a bundle. Unfortunately, that is not always the truth. Sometimes choosing to take on a task of this size can prove to be more trouble than it is worth. Especially if you do not do this for a living. The truth is everyone can put paint on a wall. But most people do not have professional painting skills, which may leave you with an unsightly mess. The costs associated with fixing these unsightly messes, is generally more than what you would have paid a professional to paint it in the first place. Unless you are very confident in yourself, and committed to a doing perfect job, I would leave the painting to the professionals. I don’t mean the handyman that fixed your neighbors sink, I mean a reputable paint contractor that is insured, licensed, and comes along with great references.


Choose neutral colors


Remember that you are painting this house to make it appealing to other people. So find neutral colors that compliment each other. If you are painting the interior, I recommend going with an updated color selection like; white ceilings and trim, and tan or beige walls. Sticking with neutral colors will make your home appeal to a broader selection of people, which will help your house sell faster.


The same rule applies to painting the exterior of the house. Stay away from bright colors, and stick with softer, more neutral colors. Before you pick out or purchase anything, make sure that consult your HOA for your community’s color policies. If you don’t have the HOA to worry about, and don’t know where to start, I recommend visiting your local paint store and asking them for an exterior color guide. They generally have these great booklets around the color card displays, and they are full of great color ideas that are specifically chosen for the exterior of a home.


Buy Samples first


If you are going with a neutral interior color scheme, you can generally skip this step. But if you are uncertain about the colors you have chosen for your exterior, buy a smaller amount first. Most stores will offer a ‘sample’ size, if they don’t, you can buy a quart. I recommend painting your sample colors in a few different areas of your house. Sometimes the colors will appear differently in different areas, depending on how the light is shining or reflecting on them.


If you choose to paint the house yourself, here are a few more tips to help you out.


Be sure to buy enough paint


This is a very important step and no, it is not as simple as going to the store to buy another gallon. You will want to buy plenty of each color of paint, and mix the respective colors together before, applying it. If you skip this step, you will find that the color of each container of paint may be slightly off. This will leave you with a disaster if you run out before you are finished, or when you try to touch up the paint later. I have seen this happen to people, time and time again. Then they go to the paint store and blame the paint store for making the color wrong.


The truth is people, it is not their fault. And they will not reimburse you for your paint or your troubles. If you read the directions on any reputable paint brand, it will tell you to do this. The reason, is that the color pigment that is put into the paint is measured fairly accurately, but it is not a perfect system. Even a tiny bit too much or too little, can change the color of the entire container. If you need help figuring out how much paint to buy, consult your paint store or click here to use the paint calculator. You will need dimensions of the rooms or square footage’s, number of doors and windows, etc.


Prepping your house for paint


Another step people like to skip is the preparation process. When painting the interior of the house, you will first want to remove grease and grime from doors and walls, dust from baseboards and tops of door casings, fill nail holes, caulk corners that have cracked out, cover any areas you don’t want paint on, etc. I recommend starting in one small room first, then you can get an idea of what to expect when doing larger rooms. If you start having doubts about completing this grueling task, call the pro’s.


As far as prepping the exterior of the house, you will want to scrape any loose or peeling paint, replace any rotten trim or siding, and then power wash the exterior surfaces, the day or two before you are ready to paint. Be sure to use a good primer on any new materials or any other areas in need before applying paint. You will also want to fill holes and cracks, and cover any areas that you don’t want to get paint on.


If it has been too many years since your last paint job, you may need to apply primer to everything. If this is the case, again, please call a professional and save yourself the headache. They can spray the outside of your house faster than you can get your ladder and your paint bucket set up.


A lot of people are probably thinking, ” I could save so much money doing it myself. ” The truth is, unless you have done this before, it is going to be a heck of a lot harder than you are probably imagining. And you are probably not going to save as much as you think you are.


And you may be thinking why do I care about prepping, and priming, and all of the extra steps, I am selling the house. The reason is, that if you have a fresh, professional looking paint job, not only will you house look better and maybe sell faster, but buyers will be more confident that you took care of this house.


Buying a house is a big choice and a big expense. Being able to tell people that they house has been freshly painted inside and out, is a huge plus. This could make your house sell faster, and increase the value significantly, both of which are very important to you. And if your house is on the market longer than you hoped for, which seems to be a trend right now, at least you know that your paint job will hold up until the house is sold.


As with any household construction project, painting may be a hassle but it could really pay off in the long run.

Giving All New Real Estate Agents a Much-Needed Advantage

Real estate agent

Getting started in the real estate business can be very rewarding. Each market will have their own unique niches and characteristics. It is your responsibility to understand how to position yourself in the markets you will be marketing yourself to become and stay successful as a real estate agent.

As a new real estate agent you should be familiar with each market’s chamber of commerce and who the go to person is. This is a fantastic resource for anyone trying to gain market share. You should join each chamber and attend any and all events possible. As a member you will be given a list of all the chamber members. This is a great list to market your service too, especially banks, credit unions, real estate brokers, mortgage brokers, insurance agents, etc. Many financial institutions partner with real estate agents, if you are lucky enough to walk into a situation where your company has this relationship use it to your advantage.


Obviously there are many kinds of advertising you can invest in, so be careful you don’t spend money on too much advertising. The best type of advertising is being referred by a happy and satisfied customer. Work with a senior agent and get a couple of deals under your belt that you can use as testimonials. In a larger market you may need to put your face on a billboard or create a website to get yourself noticed. Whatever it is you utilize as advertising make sure you track it. This means ask people where they heard of you or who referred them to you. Then you can determine which marketing piece is working and which is not working as well.


Networking is probably going to be the most important part of becoming successful. Go out and pound the pavement and develop relationships with as many respected businesses that are related to your field. The network of professionals will grow as their trust in you grows. Always do what you say you will do and a little more. If you exceed people’s expectations they will think of you first. Lunch-n-learns are a concept that work very well with a lender and agent. Get with a lending partner and set these up with other businesses that would benefit from them like the one’s mentioned earlier.


Other huge marketing areas that many newbie’s miss are their friends and family members. Don’t be bashful, hand these trusted few a handful of your business cards and flyer’s and let them help you get your name out there. Each one of them knows at least another 100 people in the area and that person knows just as many and so on. They may even know someone looking for your service that day. Just make sure to not miss this one, it will pay huge dividends in the early going and throughout your career. Make it happen or it will happen for you.

Some of the Best iPhone Apps to Download When Entering the Real Estate Game

Real Estate App

Here is a list of five of some of the best real estate apps for the iPhone, along with a review of the app and what it gives to the house hunters that use them. Enjoy and I hope that these apps help make someone a new, happy home owner.



Zillow utilizes your iPhone’s GPS system, giving the iPhone user the ability to view overhead shots of available homes in the area as well as an estimate of prices of almost every house in the area. Is a great way to find houses that are for sale or for rent around the area a user is looking to move to along with allowing them to find a price range that matches their budget. With plenty of search options, the app allows iPhone users the ability to have full customization of what they’re looking for in a new abode. This iPhone app is free.


With the ability to search over 4 million listings, view prices and details on different properties and gives information on open houses in the area,’s iPhone app gives iPhone users plenty of options when looking for a new house. It also allows users to synchronize the app with their personal accounts, which gives them the ability to find previously saved listings. With plenty of in-depth information on listings, this iPhone app does the trick. This iPhone app is free.


Around Me


This is a must for any home buyer that doesn’t plan on spending their entire life locked up in their house. Around Me gives iPhone users the ability to search their surroundings, such as when checking out a listing, for a complete list of businesses in the vicinity. It includes multiple categories that range anywhere from local coffee shops to the nearest bank. Every listing has the option to show its location on a map, give you directions from where you are and gives you contact information. Although it is not directly a real estate iPhone app, it can definitely be helpful when looking at prospective homes. This iPhone app is free.


Dictionary of Real Estate Terms


Just as the name of this iPhone app says, the Dictionary of Real Estate Terms puts the meaning of over 3,000 real estate terms in the hands of iPhone users. It’s very comprehensive and convenient when you need to understand that real estate lingo. The app is very user-friendly with a good interface and. This dictionary is a simple app that gets the job done. This iPhone app is free.


RECalc- Real Estate Mortgage Loan Calculator


RECalc is a great tool that allows users to easily calculate monthly payments, terms, interest rates, or the amount needed with a loan. It also allows iPhone users to integrate other things such as homeowner’s insurance and property taxes into the equation, allowing for maximum efficiency and accuracy. It also works as a normal mathematical calculator, in case your iPhone doesn’t happen to have one of those already. This iPhone app allows anyone, whether you’re a first time buyer or a seasoned real estate agent, to be effective in managing their money. This iPhone app is currently $1.99.




Creating a Strategy for Proactive Home Pricing

Home pricing

The first step in selling a home is working with your real estate agent to prepare a price range. The price range should be established from a market analysis that goes from a low to high price. This should prepare a seller for pro-active price adjustments within a pre-determined period of time in order to create a pool of buyers for a property.

The goal of price adjustments is designed not just around being proactive to the market place, but to keep your house on the MLS (Multiple Listing Service) on the forefront of buyers’ minds. The reason being is that each and every time a property is listed as a price change it’s placed in front of buyers that may not have seen it before. This should be made part of your pricing plan with your real estate agent.


A good pricing plan should look like this:


Weeks 1 – 4 on the market


This is the time period where your house appears on the market as “NEW.” During this time the property is being exposed to all active buyers in the market and advertised by your selected brokerage. During this time period, pricing adjustments aren’t necessary.


Week 5


This is the time that the first pricing adjustment should be made. This should be a pre-determined adjustment based on the price range, but this should also be the most substantial of any pre-discussed adjustment. The reason for this is that in order to effect a quick sale, the largest adjustments should be made at the beginning of the listing, not toward the end. Early price adjustments make a home look like a “value” whereas later adjustments make sellers appear “desperate.”


The exception to this rule, of course, would be if there are any offers pending on the property in question. Never make adjustments when there is a potential buyer on the line, or they might expect to begin negotiations at a new, lower price.


Weeks 6 – 8


If a home hasn’t sold, and is approaching the 60 days on the market marker, it’s time to make another adjustment. This one, however can be a “soft” adjustment, taking the price down by as little as $2,000. This is primarily to keep the property visible and keep generating new interest.


Weeks 8 – 12


From this point forward, as the house inches closer and closer to the 180 day on the market date, price adjustments should be made every two weeks. The price should be adjusted based on market conditions primarily, but a minimum consideration would be a $1,000 reduction every two weeks.


While sellers can find price adjustments to be difficult, knowing that it cuts into the profit they would like to make on the sale of their home, it’s important to remember that every price adjustment is less time on the market and less of a period of hard negotiations. The stress that a few price reductions can save can be well worth it.

Real Estate Tip: Save Money on Your Move

My family is in the middle of a move right now. Since we really needed this particular house, we had to buy it – despite the fact that my wife recently lost her job. Those two things don’t naturally go together, so we have had to cut every corner we can financially. These tips can help you, too, even if you’re not hurting for cash.

Move as much as you can yourself. We were fortunate enough to have access to our new home, so I spent two months hauling vanloads of small boxes to the new place. Sometimes this was a pain, but it paid off when Moving Day came. The movers only had to carry the big stuff, and that saved us time and money.


Get your family and friends to help. If you get one or two friends to help you move bigger stuff three or four times, you can get a ton of stuff over to the new house. It also works for painting, plumbing or minor repairs. Don’t overburden the same person over and over, and work around their schedule. Just make sure you say yes when they ask for your help.


Small investments can go a long way. You can do some simple things to boost the resale value of your old home. Call in the cleaners, so the house will look and smell nice. Make sure all of the plumbing works properly. If the house is not empty, spruce it up with some flowers. Remember, home buyers don’t want to fix up anything. They just want to move right in. Don’t give them any reasons to knock down the price.


Sell it yourself. I know this isn’t for everyone, but it can save you a lot of money. If you go this route, you have to make a commitment. The house won’t sell itself. You need to advertise in the paper and online. You need to conduct open houses every Sunday if you possibly can. If you’re married, figure out which one of you is the best seller and let that spouse take the lead when potential buyers arrive.


Remember why you bought the home you are selling. In our case, we bought the house because it was four doors away from a park. Now we need to find another family like ours: one with small children who will benefit from being so close to a park. We always consider the park to be our extended backyard, and we will hit that hard as a selling point. That leads into our final point.


Tell everyone you’re selling a house. Talk really is cheap. You never know who wants to buy a house. Often, you’ll talk to someone who knows someone else who is in the market for a house. Even if you’re sick of talking about it, keep it up. When people ask “How’s it going?” say “OK – still trying to sell the house.” You never know when you’ll make that connection that leads to you selling the house.


Then when people ask how you’re doing, you’ll say “Great! We sold the house!”

Make Your Open House a Sucess

Contrary to what the real estate agents would have you believe, you can hold an open house without an agent. And it can be a successful one, even leading to a sale. All it takes is proper planning and a clean house!

An open house is designed to attract as many people as possible your property, giving them a chance to leisurely stroll through without the pressure of a real estate agent. An open house won’t likely end in a same-day sale, but it will generate several good prospects. Open houses are real estate staples for a good reason…they do sell houses.


Planning begins with a good date. And, unfortunately, a good date means you have to give up a weekend. Ideally, consider having a Friday afternoon or evening open house back-to-back with a Saturday morning or afternoon. Avoid holiday weekends and avoid weekends when a lot of local activities are going on. If your town’s big in baseball, for example, plan it around the home team’s schedule. Same thing goes for folklore festivals, music festivals and other weekends that will cause prospective buyers to have other plans.


Start advertising as soon as you choose a date. You will need a budget for this, but it doesn’t have to be a big one. The classifieds of the local paper is a must for your open house. Begin running an “Open House” ad in the “Houses for Sale” section at least one week before the event. Consider going two weekends before. There’s no real benefit to advertising in Monday or Tuesday’s paper, but many newspapers include them free when you purchase ads on the weekend. Take out ads in smaller community newspapers in the towns that surround your house. Avoid big city papers unless your house is located in one. Even then, find out if the newspaper can offer you a “zone” rate, meaning that your ad would be included only in certain zip codes. Otherwise, big city newspapers are expensive and your small ad can easily be lost in page after page of listings.


Next, develop a simple, one-page flier. These don’t need to be fancy. A white, one-page 8 ½ X 11 works nicely. If you can afford color, great. If not, make black and white copies. Include a photo of the house and have a paper pocket stapled on the posters that contain small cards with the basics: the date, location and a phone number. This way, readers who are interested can easily keep the information and mark the date on their calendars later. Where to put these posters? Everywhere. See if bulletin boards are available at work, at local schools or community centers. Even some churches have bulletin boards. Also look around your community and think where renters might hang out. Ask if you can hang one at a local diner, a laundromat and the bus station.


Tell everyone. Send out an e-mail to everyone you know announcing your open house and ask them to share the information with any one looking to buy. Take advantage of free advertising like Craig’s List.


As the day approaches, make sure your house is picture-perfect. You may want to take the day before off to make sure the house is spotless and any last minute details are finished. Cleanliness is a given, but this is also the time to take care of any odd jobs that might make your house look more valuable. Touch up the paint on the porch and plant some flowers if needed. Make just some small improvements to the indoor décor. Perhaps your bathroom could use a new shower curtain and a guest towel. Run out to the grocery and grab some flowers to place in vases in the dining room, the living room and maybe the master bath.


Let your neighbors know about your open house. This is a common courtesy since your open house will hopefully generate some traffic. It also will make everyone aware of exactly who is having an open house should any prospective buyers ask for directions.


Finally, in the hour before your open house begins, light a few strategically placed candles, but make sure the scent isn’t too strong. Make some coffee and iced tea and prepare a few light refreshments. Some cookies or crackers and dip work nicely. Send the children over to a neighbor’s to play. Take a deep breath and get ready to sell your home!