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Things to Avoid When Flipping Real Estate

Flipping property is rising in popularity as a form of real estate investing. The truth of the matter is that this is one of the more entertaining methods for many investors that are simply ‘itching’ to get their hands a little dirty. The sweat equity involved in these transactions, while attractive, can also be daunting when skills are inadequate and out and out dangerous in some situations.

If you are one of the many around the world who consider the appeal of flipping property with huge dollar signs in your eyes, you should take care to avoid the following things in order to minimize your risks while maximizing your potential for success.

1) Do not fail to have a qualified inspection of the property before any money changes hands. If you do not have any idea of the types of work that needs to be done then you cannot possibly make an educated estimate of the costs involved in rehabbing the property.
2) Do not underestimate the budget for repairs on the flip. This is one of the most common mistakes that even seasoned professionals make and it can mean the difference between a profit and a loss on the property if you aren’t careful and do not stick to the planned budget.
3) Do not overestimate your abilities. This is another common mistake. The fact that you’ve seen something done on television doesn’t mean that it is something you can do on your own. It costs more money and time to have someone come in and repair your mistakes than to have had a professional do the work from the beginning. This doesn’t mean that you can’t learn how to do some of the work or that doing so would be cost effective. The trick lies in determining where your skills and abilities can really take you rather than where you hope they will take you. Plumbing, electrical, and structural work are generally best left to the professionals unless you have specific experience or training in these fields.
4) Do not fail to hold yourself accountable to your timetable and your budget. Real estate investing puts you in the bosses seat and while that is often simple when it comes to driving others, we often have a bit of difficulty when it comes to holding ourselves accountable for time and money along the way. Unfortunately, failing to do so can be a very costly blunder.
5) Do not forget to keep up with receipts, bills, etc. and reconcile the facts and figures daily. It is far too simple to allow a couple of trips to the local home improvement center escape careful scrutiny. Add a couple of these trips per day and you could easily find thousands of dollars missing from your budget with no paper trail to explain the transactions. You could also find that some tools will not work or be needed for the project. Those items cannot typically be returned without the original receipts.
6) Avoid having too many chiefs on the project. If this is your ball game then you need to run with it rather than having 10 people giving contradictory orders. Schedule meetings regularly to discuss progress and any adjustments or changes that may need to be made.
7) Avoid poor planning. This is one step that is the difference for many would be house flippers between success and failure. Plan out every step of the project in an order that makes sense. You do not want to paint the ceilings or walls after you’ve installed new floors. Nor do you want to rip out walls in order to replace plumbing after you’ve painted them. Plan things out in the proper order and allow a day or two between subsequent projects in case extra time is needed. The last thing you want to do is pay a group of contractors to stand around waiting for the paint to dry so they can begin the next step in the process.

Was that House a Good Investment? The Answer may not be so obvious

I am surprised how many people don’t know the difference between “enterprise value”, which is the sales price of a home (debt plus equity), and “equity value”, which is what is left at the end of the day when you sell your home and pay off the mortgage. In determining whether this was a good investment for you, it is only the latter calculation that matters.

Most people simply look at how much the value of their home has appreciated since they bought it, and compare it to what they paid. Let’s say someone bought a home for $500,000 a year earlier and their neighbor’s identical home just sold for $550,000. Simple math would suggest a potential 10% return in one year (a $50,000 profit on a $500,000 purchase). This, while straightforward, is not an accurate calculation for several reasons.

First, it is critical to factor in transaction costs on the sale of your home and deduct them from the gross sales price to see how much of the sales price you have left. These include what it might cost you to prepare the house for sale (painting, landscaping, staging in some cases, etc.), as well as real estate commissions and other transaction related costs. Let’s say in our hypothetical example our seller would invest $10,000 in sprucing the place up for sale, and the real estate commission plus other closing costs on the hypothetical $550,000 sale might be another $33,000 (say 6% of the sales price). Thus that $550,000 sales price results in only $507,000 after these transaction-related costs, implying a mere 1.4% return ($7,000 profit on a $500,000 purchase price), right? Wrong again.

To calculate your investment return you need to compare your profit (or loss) to the equity you have invested, not the entire home price. Let’s say you put 5% down to buy the home, which equated to $25,000. Your $7,000 profit in this case actually represents a very attractive 28% return on your investment in only one year. One way smart homeowners can increase their returns is to appreciate how much the return on their invested equity can be enhanced by saving say 1% in the agent’s listing commission. In the example above, a 5% sales commission vs. 6% would have increased our hypothetical seller’s return on their $25,000 of equity investment from the 28% we just calculated to an astonishing 50% ($12,500 profit on the $25,000 investment).

A couple of basic takeaways from this: First, make sure to factor in all costs of a transaction. Second, understand the difference between the aggregate home value and the equity you have invested in the home, which is what impacts your true economic return. Third, appreciate the impact sales-related costs can have on your return. While a $5,000 commission difference seems relatively insignificant in the context of a $550,000 home sale, it is VERY significant in relation to the equity investment in your home, which is the basis of determining your return on your investment.

Waterfront Real Estate: The Ins and Outs

If you are purchasing real estate on the water, be it a river, lake or oceanfront, you’ll want to know for certain what your rights and responsibilities are to that water and its shoreline. For example, are you obligated to build a certain type of dock? Many areas have regulations governing what type of dock can be built. Are you even allowed to moore your boat there? Sometimes your rights end at the waterline. Is your beach accessible to the public or can you limit who goes there? Can you build right beside the waterline, or do you have to have any structures a certain distance away? Be sure you investigate the maximum water levels, and research the flooding history of your area. All of this will be important in your future at your waterfront home, so be sure to get the facts before you buy, so you know exactly what you’ll be working with.

Living beside a body of water, realize that it is a delicate ecosystem and be sure to consider the environmental impact of what you do. It might be best to avoid things like weed killers on your lawn if it’s just running down a slope into the water. There may even be laws governing what is safe to use and what is not. For this similar reason, homes with septic systems will have special regulations beside the water. Because the water level is higher underground, follow the rules carefully to avoid sewage leaching either into the lake, into your drinking water or into your basement during especially wet times of year.

You will also definitely want to consider safety when living beside the water. Ask around about any local dangers such as hidden currents or underwater rocks close to the surface. Also rusty old boats or garbage that has sunk that could hurt unaware swimmers.

Once you’ve figured out everything you should know about your own unique piece of waterfront, it’s time to sit back and enjoy some of the benefits. Not only will you enjoy living in such a beautiful area and taking advantage of the local recreation, you’ll have peace of mind knowing you’ve invested in some of the most valuable real estate around.

What To Do When Your Home Isn’t Selling

When you sell your home, the process is almost like going to a job interview. Selling a home involves presentation, which is one of the key factors that determine the outcome. Although this may sound a bit weird, presentation is a way of life in the world of real estate. Buyers in today’s market look for good presentation – many basing their final decisions on it.

If the property you are selling comes with a garage, you’ll need to go through your garage before you sell your home. Chances are that you store things in your garage, which can easily pile up over time before you realize it. If your garage is in a messy condition, you’ll obviously want to clean it up. Buyers look for homes that are in perfect condition, and anything less than perfect will look bad in the eyes of the buyer.

Most homes have some truly outstanding features inside of them. You should always do your best to highlight the best features of your home, instead of just hoping that the buyer understands what they are. The ideal way to bring out the best features of your home is to use the proper lighting. If your home is clean, you can use lighting to bring out the best features in your home, and ensure that they stand out to the buyer.

When a potential buyer first pulls up to your home; the first thing he will see is your lawn. If your lawn is trimmed and well taken care of, he will get a good impression right off the bat. If your lawn is a wreck, he may immediately pull away. To give the best impression to the buyer, you should put some thought into how things look. You can always plant flowers around the walkway and throughout the yard, which will look great to a potential buyer.

You should also make sure that the entrance into your home is a positive as well. The front door should be in great shape, as well as the entry area into the home. You can add some plants, paintings, and rugs to ensure that your buyer gets a good impression. When the buyer walks through the entry way into your home, you should make sure that the view he or she takes in is a good on. Your biggest goal when showing your home is to ensure that the buyer is pleased.

Keep in mind that it may take some time to sell your home. These days, homes can sit on the market for months at a time before they actually sell. If you are having trouble selling your home, you can always reduce the price or simply go back to the basics. Eventually you will sell your home – although it may take more time than you think.

Warranty Deed vs. Quit Claim Deed

When you’re in the process of selling (or purchasing) a house, you will most likely, encounter several kinds of documents: all with different names and with different uses and functions. Two of the most misunderstood documents are the warranty deed and the quit claim deed. Many think that these two forms are alike, but they are not.

A warranty deed is a document which the seller presents to you and is used in majority of all sales transactions. The warranty deed simply states that the seller owns the property being sold and that it is free from any sort of liens. By presenting a warranty deed, the buyer is assured that the holder of the title has the legal right to transfer ownership of the unit and is assured that no one (financial institution or other creditors) would come after him to make a claim on the property. In the eventuality that someone does lays claim to the property that has just been purchased (or that the claims stated in the warranty is erroneous), the buyer is further protected by law, and would be entitled to receive a form of compensation. Warranty deeds seldom stand alone as these documents are usually backed up by a title insurance policy.

A quitclaim deed, on the other hand, is presented to a buyer by someone who does not necessarily own the property being sold, but holds responsibility for it. This occurs due to several reasons such as when the owner dies and bequeaths the property to one of his heirs, or when there is a marriage and the owner wants to include the name of his/her spouse to the title (among others). A quitclaim deed offers a lower level of protection to buyers. This kind of document is used primarily when the property in question will just stay within a family.

Incidentally, there are times when both a warranty deed and a quitclaim deed are presented to a potential buyer. An example is when the property lies on the border of rivers and or lakes; where ownership of the underwater land on which his property stands on remains unclear.

If you are unsure which kind of deed works best for your property, consult a real estate agent or a real estate lawyer.