Consider Resale Value Before You Renovate

When doing renovations, people rarely think about long-term resale value. Most families just want a really nice place to live and they work to create their forever home. However, life can be unpredictable. So while it is joyful to make a dream home, those dreams need to be balanced with an understanding of whether or not those granite countertops or that second story are good investments in the long run.

What is resale value?

We hear the idea of resale value quite often pertaining to real estate. The ideal is to buy a property that is a good investment and to have its value appreciate. Good maintenance and appropriate renovations help ensure that when it comes time to sell again, the property has gained equity and you’ll make money.

However, the amount of money you’ll make depends on market appreciation. Which is why it’s important to make improvements that fit the property and the neighborhood.

Location the key factor to consider

If you’ve bought a property by a highway or another not-so-great location, you probably got it for a good price. If that location’s value doesn’t increase during the time you own it, you’ll probably have to sell it for a similarly good price, even if you’ve done a lot of work on it.

Many property owners invest in renovations that aren’t in keeping with the neighbourhood. As a result, they end up selling for less than they invested, which can be heartbreaking.

Before you renovate, look at what has been selling around you – at what cost for what quality? If the most expensive home in your neighborhood sold for $400,000 after being completely renovated, it doesn’t make sense to style your house to a value any higher.

And really, how special are those $10-per-square-foot tiles anyway? Go with the $5 tiles instead.

Focus your investment to one or two elements per room. Make pricey items such as granite countertops, a fancy backsplash, or a higher end faucet; work like show pieces, similar to a piece of art.

Smallest may be best when it comes to resale
As for adding a second story to create more space for an expanding family, it may be worth it in the long run to hunt for a bigger home.

If you invest an extra $100,000 on a two-bedroom bungalow in a neighborhood full of two-bedroom bungalows, you may never recover that full investment. It may be a much better idea to take your equity and find a larger home in a neighborhood where your investment will hold and even grow in time.

When it comes to resale value, it’s always better to have the smallest house in an area with mansions rather than a $600K house surrounded by $300K houses.

Of course, creating a joyful home should always be the first priority. Just make wise decisions that will bring you prosperity and happiness for years to come.

The Perfect Disaster

Why trying to be perfect is a great way to fail – and how to avoid it.

The best is the enemy of success! What I mean by this is so many of us are so focused on the best that we take very little action towards our success. We are focused on the best place to eat, the best time to work out, the best way to lose weight, or the best way to make some extra money. We are focused so much on the best that we think too much about what we should or could be doing.

Focusing on a process toward success will prevent failure and accelerate your results. Take Travis in our office for example. He loves the gym and wants to get bigger and stronger. He can focus on the perfect diet, the best supplements, the best workouts, and the best technique. Or, he can eat healthy and get under the bar. The reps give him experience and strength. The results provide the momentum, and he finds himself spending more time in the gym and focusing more on diet and supplements. Now he has trouble fitting into his shirts. It all started with reps.

Dating is another good example. Typically, we need to kiss a few frogs to find our prince or princess. It does not come easy, but as we work through it, we start to learn what a good match looks like. We should start to get more confidence and our decisions become faster and better. Eventually, we hope, we find someone we are compatible with and live happily ever after.

Business or investing is no different. Obviously, we want to strive for quality, but quality will come with some thought-out quantity. Takes sales for example. If we just pick up the phone and start making calls, we will get better and better on the phone and will start closing more deals. The practice on the phone will produce better results than spending time finding the best phone script or the best people to call. With investing, we start taking steps to our goals. Maybe that is interviewing agents or sending out mail to motivated sellers. As we see results, we can adjust and improve. The fact that we are taking action, organically gets us closer to perfection.

So how do we avoid the perfection trap?

Goals are so incredibly powerful. A goal should be a tremendous help, but it can also hurt you. For new investors I love the idea of setting action-oriented goals. What I mean by this is to not focus on results, at least to start, and only focus on the small actions that should lead to results. As you hit your goals, you gain confidence and momentum. Let me give you an example. If you want to make $30,000 a month, you might start with how many deals you need to do to hit that goal. If you are a fix and flipper, it might be one deal. Then focus on how many offers you need to make to get one deal. Because we are in a tough market, we know that it might be 60 or more. Obviously, this is a bit of a guess until you can track it, but let’s start with 60 for this example. A great goal to help get you started would be to make 60 offers this month based on your buying criteria. The criteria being deals that should net $30,000. Focus on the fact that the goal is the number of offers, not the number of deals or the amount of money you want to make. That way, even if you don’t get a deal, you can, and should, celebrate the fact that you accomplished your goal. If you consistently hit action-oriented goals, you will see tremendous results.

I recently read a story about a college art professor that split his class in half at the beginning of the year to do a study on actions and results. One group was the quality group and one was the quantity group. The quantity group would be graded on the number of photographs turned in by the student. The quality group, as you can probably guess, was graded on only one photo for its quality. Guess which group turned in the best photos? The quantity group had more high-quality photos turned in because they were out practicing their skills trying to hit a quantity goal. Because they were not trying to take the one perfect photo, they ended up taking more action and better photos.

Disney in another great example. In the 80s the company had 3 CEOs and was not profitable. Then CEO, Michael Eisner, changed the way the company thought about the movie business. Instead of producing perfect movies, they went for quantity. In the late 80s and through the 90s they more than doubled the number of movies they were producing. They spent less time, money and energy on any one movie. The result? Blockbuster smash hits like; Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, and Lion King.

Upgrades – Get the Most Out of Your Property

If you are buying and planning on re-selling or renting out, to get the most out of your property you might want to do some upgrades to give it curb appeal. The amount of upgrades needed would depend on a case by case scenario. Obviously if the roof, foundation, etc, needs to be done, that’s without question. I am talking about major renovations, but upgrades. That curb appeal and that make a buyer go, “wow” and pay a little extra for the place.

If you aren’t going to work with a designer and you would like to do it yourself, I suggest going to the library or buying a bunch of up-to-date home style magazine to get ideas of what’s in right now. Knowing your market isn’t such a big deal because most everyone wants something chic and stylish. Something I like to call “urban chic”; a lot of clean lines, minimalism and bright open spaces. A Zen like approach. That look is selling to the mass market right now.

First impressions are always important, so the outside of the house needs the most love. Don’t go boring either. Chose exciting colours like grey/mauve, terracotta or sage. Paint everything that needs it, wood, railing, mailbox, light fixtures, etc. I’m not talking all one colour, have some black or white in their for contrast. If they can’t be painted, replace.

If there isn’t any landscaping or it’s shot, you need to revamp the look. Take out or trim everything that is overgrown. Be ruthless if necessary. Cedars are great when they are green and small, however if they are yellow and too tall, get rid of them. Keep the look short, so you can see the entrance way. Weed the grass if any, add more seed. Clean out the dirt of debris and weeds, add more dark earth and mulch. Make a nice clean line between the grass and garden. I would invest in a couple of bushes that contrast each other and some bright annuals that light up the front.

Floors are the most important. They make such a big impact. They have to be nice. If there is hardwood I suggest refinishing them. Staining them dark is always a nice touch. Parquetry looks incredible stained chocolate. It goes from a bad 1970′s look to something modern and Asian looking. If the floors need to be replaced, bamboo and other sustainable flooring are trendy right now. If the lino is old, change it. If you can afford tile, do it.

Kitchen. If the kitchen is an old wood 1950′s style, no need to rip that out and redo it and spend all that extra money. Paint it glossy cream and add stylish knobs. You could even add a moulding.

If it’s white melamine, you could either paint it with special paint, or keep it as is. Sometimes it’s the surrounding area that can buff it up and make it not look so “melaminy”. Meaning, add a trendy tiled backsplash, a new countertop, and knobs. If the melamine has a 1980′s boarder that can be taken off, remove it for a cleaner look.

If you have the 1990 oak cabinets, they look incredible painted as well. If the cabinetry is hanging from the ceiling dividing the eating area, you could take those down and reuse them somewhere else, like an island.

Extra touches:

Faucets are important. They can be such a focal point to the room. You don’t have to go high end to have a polished modern look.
I think the investment of crown moulding adds so much value to the place if it’s done right (no need in the bathroom). Paint it glossy to give it a vintage look.
Keep paint colours simple and light. Painting one wall in a room dark grey or another trendy colour is fine, however use minimally.
Dark on light is very trendy right now.
Make sure the flow of colour from one room to the next is there.
Clean, clean windows are a must.
Tear down a wall if necessary to give the space more of an open feel. For example opening the kitchen to the living room. You must verify with a structural engineer before tearing anything down.
Pot lights and dimmers.
Trendy light fixtures and knobs. Don’t go high end. Places like Ikea are fine or places that reclaim vintage.

Bathrooms are easy because it all lies in the choice of the tile and counter top. White tub, sink and toilet are always in and if they are in good condition they won’t need replacing. The cabinetry can be painted a black, chocolate, white or cream. It will update any look.

The Power of Momentum

3 Steps That Will Guarantee Your Success

I am a big football fan. I watch every Bronco game, and the one thing that really stands out to me week after week is that momentum can often times win or lose a game. When a team can get the momentum on their side and stay motivated and consistent, they should always win the game. They only lose if the momentum shifts. Real estate is no different.

Once you get the momentum, you need to stay motivated. When you start to experience success, the last thing you should do is take it easy, which is probably what you will want to do. It is a good idea to reward yourself for your success, but do that and come back focused.

Sometimes it is hard to get the momentum in your favor because you are not sure what activities will get it going. Momentum always starts with a single success and builds from there; and it should be able to build as your confidence goes up. You should feed off your accomplishments. Here are three sure fire steps to get momentum in your real estate business.

Set your goal

This needs to be a short term goal that is challenging but realistic. Short term is thirty days or sixty days at most. An example would be to have a house under contract in the next thirty days.

Believe you have already accomplished your goal

I cannot overstate the power of this. You will accomplish the goals you believe you can, or better yet, believe you already have accomplished. The concept is simple, but the implementation is challenging. If you have never done a deal how can you believe that you will have one in the next thirty days? There are several strategies for this, but something that I have used with a lot of success, are affirmations.

Affirmations are statements that are repeated to yourself over and over until you believe it to be true. This works best when the statement is specific, personal, in the present tense, and positive. It is even more affective if the statement includes the goal as if you have accomplished it with the steps you took to get there. Here is an example of a statement that could be used to get a deal in the next thirty days:

“I got this house under contract that will net me $30,000 within a thirty day period by calling at least ten potential sellers every day from lists including, FSBOs, FRBOs and foreclosures.”

Once you have structured a quality statement print it out and put it in your car and one on the bathroom mirror. Say it out loud at least fifty times a day.

There are entire books and home study courses teaching this stuff, and all of it works. I recommend studying the law of attraction and picking up one or two strategies that works for you.

Massive action

Do ten times as much as you think you need to. If you think you need to knock on twenty doors a week or make ten calls a day, do that, but also send out mail, put up signs, call all potential referral sources and go to networking meetings. Focus all of your energy on accomplishing this one small goal.

To me, massive action means not watching any TV, not hanging out with friends, and not going out to eat. To me, massive action is working long and hard hours on productive activities. To me, massive action is doing what others are not willing to do. I know this is harsh, but it is temporary and could be necessary to get the momentum going. I like to compare this to flying a plane. The plane takes ninety percent of its energy to get off the ground but once it is in the air it stays consistent and gets results.

Once you accomplish your goal, set another one and do this process again. The momentum will build and once you have it you just need to maintain. While you maintain the momentum you need to stay consistent with your activities. I want to be clear that maintaining is not the same as massive action and you will not be working as hard, but if you feel the momentum start to slip, I suggest starting the process over again. It is really amazing how easy success comes when you get momentum that you can build on.

Understanding Home Closing Costs in Southern California

Looking to buy a house in Northeast Los Angeles – NELA, as it is known – but unclear of the process and amount of money needed? A licensed Realtor can help you figure it out. But for ballpark purposes, it might help to do some preliminary study on your own.

NELA is, after all, one of the hottest markets in all of Los Angeles. Not just the obvious neighborhoods like Glendale and Pasadena, but in smaller, lesser-known neighborhoods.

You might be in love with the schools in Mt. Washington, the housing inventory in Highland Park or the neighborhoods of Eagle Rock, but you have to work through some of these details before you can call any of those places home.

Much is made about closing costs in real estate transactions, and yet these vary for several reasons. The single largest expense, the real estate commission, is covered by the seller (who pays the commission in a split between the buyer’s and the seller’s agents).

Fees the buyer will need to pay at the closing come with some variation; the following are the largest of such costs at closing:

Homeowner association fees – If the property is a condominium the seller might be in arrears with the homeowners association, in which case you will find this out before entering the sales contract. In distressed circumstances (foreclosures, near-foreclosures and short sales), these fees might amount to thousands of dollars.
Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) – If your down payment is less than 20% of the price of the property, you will be required to insure the mortgage at between 0.3% and 1.15% of the loan amount.
Origination fee to the lender – Even while you fix your dreams on a Victorian in Glassell Park, a two-unit duplex in Garvanza or fixer-upper in Hermon, you have to go through a large amount of paperwork with a would-be lender to prove your creditworthiness. And yes, they do charge fees at closing for all that fun.
Points – These enable you to change the terms of the loan to your favor if you pay one or more percentage points toward the mortgage amount. If you have the cash and plan to own the property for a decade or longer, paying a point or two upfront can save you much more over time.
Prorated property tax – As the LA tax year begins on July 1, you will need to cover whatever remains in the year in advance from the day of the closing.
Insurance premiums – Protecting the property (as required by all lenders) from damages and liability is required at closing also.
Escrow fees – Third parties performing escrow services need to be compensated for that work. Note that fee structures are not fixed or regulated by the state of California, but are generally set according to the size of the transaction.

Technically speaking there are multiple fees that will be part of the buyer’s closing costs but which the seller automatically pays for in a reimbursement. These include the city transfer tax, documentary transfer tax to title and the owners title policy. Multiple other fees under $500 (average) costs include the lender appraisal fee, credit report fee, prorated HOA fees, courier services related to the transaction, notary services, archiving fees, recording trust deed (to title), and loan tie-in fees.

Note that the process of looking at houses and negotiating a price, and perhaps that of qualifying for a loan, are typically more time consuming than the closing itself. An experienced realtor will be able to advise you on all these details, invariably to the point where you are told how much money to bring to the closing and in what form.

FINANCIAL DEFENSE The True Path to Wealth

“Congratulations! You play fantastic offense” This was said sarcastically by Thomas J Stanley in his famous book, The Millionaire Next Door. I have not read or listened to this book in more than eight years, but I still remember this phrase. That one, and the millionaire saying, “I drink two types or beer. Budweiser and Free.”

The message in his book is that you need to watch your spending with more tenacity than to increase your income. Obviously, it is a combination of income and spending that creates wealth, but controlled spending is far more important. As long as you spend less than your income, you will be moving forward, and consistent progress will make you rich! The problem I often see is that people spend what they make, or worse, spend more than they make. In either of these scenarios, you are at best staying even, but most likely going backwards. Many want to be investors and entrepreneurs, drink the get rich Kool-Aid and focus all their energy on increasing income. That is what sells coaching programs, mentor-ships and advertising on TV shows. With energy and focus comes success, so many of these entrepreneurs and investors see results. And with the positive results of higher earnings comes… higher spending!

I am fortunate enough to live in a great neighborhood. Most people in the neighborhood are high income earners, but several of them live above their means. It is not uncommon for me to see neighbors move out of the area because they can no longer afford to stay. They are the same ones with the new cars and the extravagant parties. It is a look at me attitude and peers feed on the pressure to keep up. This creates a little spiral of friends living outside their means. But hey, at least they are all moving backwards together.

The ones that live below their means feel pressure to spend or get left behind. And on the surface, many of them do. One challenge about living below your means is it takes years before you realize the benefit. During those years it seems as though you are missing out. I see it so clearly and understand the pressure, but I also see a high percentage of our aging population that should be retired, working their asses off. They are stressed and busy and churning to get by.

If you have not yet, you owe it to yourself to read The Millionaire Next Door. This book really sank in for me on the power of financial defense. Of limiting spending and protecting your earnings. I am able to live in my neighborhood, provide for my family, enjoy my time away from the office, and many other benefits because of the control I had with spending as my income was increasing. As you invest earnings for income, instead of spending it, you will witness exponential growth of income.

If I recall correctly, the quote from the book “Congratulations! You play fantastic offense” was referring to a broke high earner. He made more than his peers but would miss a mortgage payment if his income stopped. That is not a comfortable life, yet he was proud of it. If I could help one piece of financial advice sink in, it would be to focus on defense before offense.

Travis and I both recently read the book, Set for Life, by Scott Trench. This is another fantastic book focusing on the correct way to build wealth and retire early. It is a simple formula. Spend less than you make and invest the difference.

Tips To Get Your Search For Homes For Sale In The Right Track

Buying a house is a major financial decision that will not only give you a peace of mind, but also a wonderful place to live, and of course, the perfect location to start a family for those who are planning to settle down. Sooner or later, you will have to decide to settle down on your own home that will be considered as the best location to start a family.

That being said, it is important to greatly consider the factors that will affect your everyday living experience. The following tips will help to get your search of to the right start. While it is important to note the number of rooms, the size of the yard and the layout of the kitchen, there are several important things you need to consider before making an offer.

Avoid trying to time the market

- Trying to time the market when you are planning to purchase is impossible. Considering whether the market drops low or gets too high will only prolong and possibly make you lose your chance of owning your perfect house of choice. The best time is when you find the best one that you can afford. The real estate market is cyclical, and waiting for the perfect time will only make you miss out on an opportunity.

Location

- Proximity to essential establishments and the surrounding people can give great impact in your living environment. You can overlook a couple of imperfections in a home if you love the neighborhood and neighbors. As most would say, three of the most important factors in buying a home is location, location, location. When choosing, you need to consider its proximity to your work and other essential establishments, environment or the neighborhood, and public transportation.

Inspection

- Of course, you will need to check everything out inside the house. When you have finally narrowed down your list of choices, it’s time to hire a home inspector. It may cost a little but in the long run, it will end up saving you thousands. This will help you gain the best information regarding the new home so that you can make the best decision as to whether or not take it.

Evaluating the Market to Decide on a Price to Offer

The easiest way to obtain such data is from a licensed real estate agent. They can provide you with details about recent condo sells and the prices they sold for. This includes the location so you can compare prices for various neighborhoods. Such information is public record so you can get it on your own too if you aren’t using a realtor. It does take time to compile though.

Get it in Motion
You don’t want to drag your feet when it comes to getting one of the condos for sale in though. Most of them don’t stay on the market long at all. If you wait, the prices are going to continue going up. You also risk the locations where you would like to live not offering much. Prime locations such as the downtown area sell very fast!

Evaluating the market to find out what the price range is will help you to make an offer. You want to get the best deal you can. Avoid emotionally making an offer because you can’t stand the thought of not getting the property. If you can’t afford it, you will be stressed very month about the payment. Don’t put yourself in a position where they could possibly foreclose on you.

Offer Versus Asking Price
You may assume the demand for condos for sale in means the sellers can set the asking price and they always get it. This is why you need to do your homework before you place an offer. If a location is priced thousands more than what others in the area have recently sold for, you need to question why. Does it offer more value or is the seller after more money?

You can’t blame the sellers of condos for sale in for trying to get the most money they can for their property. If someone is willing to pay it, they are going to ask for it! However, most of them are also willing to accept a reasonable offer that comes to them. If you put that offer out there, they may accept it!

What if they Don’t?
One of the fears is the seller won’t accept your offer. You don’t have to worry too much about that when you try to buy one of the condos for sale in. Just put the reasonable offer out there as a starting point and see what happens. If they don’t accept it, are they willing to negotiate at all?

If the answer is no, you have to decide if you are willing to pay the price they are asking. If not, you need to look at one of the other properties available and repeat the process. If they give you a counteroffer, it will be somewhere between what you offered and what they asked for. You can accept it or you can give another counter offer.

This process can continue until you agree on a price or until one of you is no longer willing to budge. This process takes a bit of time, but it can save you a great deal of money on one of those condos for sale in high in demand. It certainly doesn’t hurt to give it a try!

Tips In Making Building Creative Concepts

A lot of business owners wish to have a wonderful office. Of course, having such office can help them experience a better and comfortable work area. Not to mention, good offices can attract potential clients. However, in order to attain this, it is important for business owners to have good building creative concepts. But, there are numerous factors you need to consider to get the best results. Below are some of the things you need to consider.

Identify potential needs and problems

First and foremost, when making building creative concepts, it is imperative for individuals to identify potential need and problems. Knowing needs allow individuals to determine what things must be included in the designs. Not to mention, individuals can also create a better perspective on how buildings must be constructed. Apart from that, identifying problems before starting the project can help you reduce your expenses. Plus, reducing problems can also increase safety in your work area.

Create the right design

After identifying potential needs and problems, it is now time to create your design. Of course, when designing, you need to be cautious. This is essential to ensure that you will all have the features you need which can match your budget. In addition, it is also important to determine your space. This is another important factor when designing to ensure that you are creating a design that will allow you to make you building space more comfortable and appealing. Knowing these aspects will help you create the right designs you are looking for.

Establish safety schemes

When making building creative concepts, individuals need to make sure that they can establish safety schemes. Of course, accidents may occur unexpectedly. It gets even worse if these accidents will harm your employees. So, make sure that you create safety schemes on your designs. With these schemes, you can reduce risks and prevent overhead expenses which can help improve your finances and profits.

Hire professionals

Lastly, in case that you do not have any ideas or skills in making building creative concepts, it is also best to hire professionals. Luckily, there are numerous professionals who can help you create wonderful building concepts. These experts can even step into another level by providing you with other services that can complement your needs. Plus, they can also help you ensure that their designs can complement your needs properly.

Economic Actions, Interest Rates, And Real Estate – Related Ramifications

It is unrealistic, silly and potentially, harmful, to your best interests, to look at, or consider real estate, in a vacuum. Many factors impact this market, on a broad basis, in addition to the many personal considerations, one should consider. This article will briefly, attempt to evaluate, consider, and discuss, some of these economic factors, including the economic ramifications, of market conditions, job – related, interest rates, etc. Failure to consider these risks wasting certain qualified buyers’ time, as well as sellers’ potential price, and how long getting one’s home sold, might take. This will attempt to consider these factors, in an easy – to – understand, manner.

1. Market conditions: Why is there, either, a buyers or sellers market, and will a particular trend continue, and for how long. The easiest explanation is often, supply and demand, but that does not explain, why these conditions exist. Is there something, in the national, or international economy, which is driving specific market conditions? Some considerations include the public’s faith in the strength of the present economy, and whether they perceive, it will continue, and for how long. Another is the inflation rate, and perceptions of its impact.

2. Job – related: How strong and growing is the present job market? Are incomes rising, enough, to drive prices up? What price range and social group, does a particular area, appeal to? How close to transportation, how long a commute, and whether it’s convenient, affect prices. Similarly, for many potential buyers, the most important consideration is the community’s school system, and what it offers. Many factors go into determining pricing, within a local area.

3. Interest rates: Since, the vast majority of buyers, use a mortgage, monthly carrying costs, which includes principal repayment, mortgage interest, real estate taxes, and escrow, are major issues. Relatively, small rises, in the rate of interest, affect, both, the amount one qualifies for, as well as their monthly payment. It also makes a huge difference, in determining, whether to use a fixed, or adjustable, type.

Obviously, someone must look for, and purchase a home, which meets or exceeds their needs and dreams, while being affordable, and making one avoid the House – rich, home – trap. The better informed, educated, attentive, prepared, and realistic, a potential buyer, the better his eventual results. Similarly, homeowners must understand their local market, and proceed with realistic expectations.