Real Estate Tips That Will Prove To Be The Confidence In Every Decision You Make

Real estate tips are useful when you are exploring the many different opportunities in the real estate industry. Tips are good for both buying your first home and or becoming an investor within the rental industry. In order to make the best investment you’ll need to align yourself with the appropriate information to help qualify the choices you make.

There are so many different areas within the real estate market where one can find their niche and financial success. In order to accomplish this you must first get clear about where your passion lies as this will allow you to align yourself with the right sources. Finding a mentor or professional who is living the experience you want to acquire for yourself is a smart business move.

Finding an agent that makes you feel like they have your best interest at the forefront of their mind is a requirement for the success of the process. You can measure their level of dedication by how well they listen to your needs; and how that translates into the properties they want you to view.

A strong real estate professional will not only have an interest in the type of home you are looking for; but they will also inquire about the environment you want. This is a very big deal and no portion of it should be taken lightly as it will serve as the foundation on which you will live your life. Take your time is making a hasty and compromising decision could lead to unfavorable circumstances.

The same guidelines holds true for anyone interested in the investment aspect of the real estate industry as someone who is looking to purchase a home to live in. It is vital that you put yourself in your potential renter’s shoes and ask yourself if you would want to rent the property. You want to challenge yourself to purchase properties that are appropriate for the market you intend to serve.

Being an investor will also call for you to consider how you want to manage the properties you’ve acquired. There are a number of reputable property management companies that can help you both screen and maintain the grounds on a monthly basis for a small fee. Once again it is important to assess your level of commitment to the process and to only take on the responsibility for aspects of it you will follow through on.

Having a system where you are able to screen your candidates is vital. A potential renters credit history alongside their rental patterns will help you choose responsible people. While this may be a headache for you to take on under your own there are professional services that can streamline the process for you.

Real estate tips are a great resource when they speak to the aspect of the industry you are interested in. They can help you both avoid making costly mistakes and find the level of confidence you require to make the right choices. Getting the best information can be easily attained by aligning yourself with like minded people.

Eight Tips for Negotiating an Office Lease Renewal

So I’m meeting with our landlord tomorrow to discuss a lease extension, and I’m in the process of pulling together my thoughts on the renewal.

Our office building is owned by a small group of investors, so we have a personal relationship with the owners/landlord. I consulted with several colleagues of mine, and here are our top considerations for effectively negotiating a lease or extension:

1. Be a good tenant

It’s so basic to sound business practices, but it bears repeating, particularly when you’re dealing with individuals and other small business owners. Resolve issues along the way as amicably as possible -it all comes back to you in the end.

2. Start early and understand your options

Particularly in a very tight commercial real estate market, you’ve got to allow at least 9-12 months for the process to play out. It can take several months to research your alternatives, open up negotiations with prospective landlords (especially concerning tenant improvements), and then come back to your current landlord. And you’ll want to allow 2-4 months if you have to plan a move (assuming you’re an SMBE like us).

3. Understand your market, and particularly concessions that new tenants can extract.

While market rental rates are important to understand, there are a number of other considerations new tenants may enjoy, including tenant improvements, rent holidays, and other benefits.

Understanding these will not only give you a sense for what you might expect if you go elsewhere, but it can also help you negotiate your current renewal. Why shouldn’t you enjoy at least part of those benefits on the renewal?

4. Consult with (if not retain) a broker.

I’m a big believer in at least talking to experts in a field, and I generally recommend using them to represent you in a lease negotiation. Depending on the size of your business, this can represent anywhere from a $350k to a multi-million obligation over a 3-5 year period.

Brokers can give you a sense for the market, current conditions, and offer other valuable input. Face it -while you may know your business better than anyone, you’re probably not an expert in commercial real estate.

If you are going to use a commercial real estate broker, I suggest using a tenant only representative, as they are less likely to be conflicted than brokers who may represent either side.

That being said, they are a lot like realtors in that they only get paid when a deal gets done. The good news is they are frequently paid for by the lessor, but that may affect the terms of the deal.

5. Depending on how much leverage you have, work to ‘share the savings’.

Just as you may want to avoid the headaches and costs associated with moving, your landlord may have the same interest. If you’ve been a good tenant and are paying near market rents, the last thing your landlord wants to deal with is several months of vacancy, showing the space, negotiating and paying tenant improvements, and then having to deal with an unknown. So work to value how much benefit each side is getting out of the renewal and see if you can’t find some common ground.

6. Think outside the box and understand your landlord’s situation.

Your landlord is interested in three things – the underlying value of the property, current income/cash flow from the property, and avoiding headaches. Understanding the relative importance of each can be very helpful in your negotiations.

For example, commercial property is essentially valued at a multiple of cash flow (it’s a cap rate if you want to be specific) over a period of time, with an emphasis on future cash flows. If the landlord is thinking about re-financing or selling the property in 2-3 years, she will want to boost the cash flow in that later period. This can provide you with a path to reducing your near term rental outlays in return for increasing the rent at a time when it particularly matters to the landlord.

7. Put together a spreadsheet balancing overall costs for your various rental options

Feel free to let your landlord know you’re doing this, and make sure that you’re getting all the information you need to make a balanced and informed decision.

8. Get your hands on a bunch of actual lease agreements and extensions.

This can help give you ideas for different terms that you might want to incorporate into the lease that you may not have thought of. Of course, if you have representation, you should encourage them to do this -you’d be surprised how often this is overlooked.

There are lots of resources out there for looking at sample and (even more helpful) actual, negotiated lease agreements

Eight Tips to Consider When Looking at Apartments for Rent

Finding apartments for rent can be a stressful task. However, there are several tips that can alleviate the annoyances and make the search for a new place fun.

Be Specific

When apartment hunting, make sure to determine which features are a must-have and where it’s okay to compromise. If there’s a perfect two bedroom in a great location, but it lacks the perfect yard, it may be time to adjust priorities. Decide what is necessary and stick to it, but try to remain realistic.

Find Out the Included Utilities

This is another major must-do when looking for a new place. Many rentals include some utilities, but there are hidden costs to look out for such as trash or water costs. If not included, these costs can add up quickly. As well, there may be additional charges for parking or a security system.

Ask Around

This may seem obvious, but asking friends of the family for landlord referrals is helpful. If anything, it’ll help weed out the inattentive and neglectful landlords. Who knows, a friend may even know someone who has apartments for rent.

Take Measurements

Depending on what furniture one currently has, this may be an important part of house hunting. Making sure the bed fits in a smaller bedroom or being able to comfortably walk around seating in the living room is essential to a cozy environment.

Avoid Scams

We all know of popular classified sites that offer rental deals, but if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Make sure the listing includes photos and a local phone number. Also, be sure to check the average rent prices in the area; if the price seems like too good of a deal, it likely is. There may also be a catch to a cheaper place, like bad parking or poor renovations.

Check the Pet Policy

If a pet is important, double check the lease for costs such as a pet deposit. Also, there may be weight, number, and breed restrictions to consider. Some listings may not mention a pet policy, but it’s worth asking. Some landlords allow pets on a case-by-case basis.

Bring a Friend

Always have someone tag along when looking for apartments to rent. It always pays to have an extra opinion, and they may be able to point out things that wouldn’t always be noticed on a solo look. It’ll also be convenient to have one person ask questions while the other takes photos and measurements.

Make a List

This may not be common, but it’s a great idea to make a list of questions to ask when hunting for apartments to rent. Getting caught up in the excitement of the search can make one forget about asking about things such as the average electric bill cost or if the washer and dryer are included. Having a list makes a person prepared, but it also makes them appear responsible to the potential new landlord.

Keeping this advice in mind, one can be sure to find a great new place to make a wonderful home.

Three Tips For Choosing Student Housing

Packing and leaving for college can be an exciting yet daunting task. For anyone who has not planned ahead, it can also be very stressful, since student housing can be difficult to come by when not secured months before arriving. Fortunately, there may still be some options available.

Special Accommodations For Graduate Students

Staying on campus is a very convenient option, especially for those who enjoy meeting new people. Undergraduates tend to have access to two-person rooms or multi-person room suites that are shared. However, for those who are in a masters or PhD program, there may be options that include special accommodations for more mature individuals who are working toward an advanced degree. This is something to consider when searching for student housing.

Sharing An Apartment Or House

Getting an apartment or house is another option to think about, but it should be considered carefully. First, research the rent cycle of the city by asking those who currently rent in the area. Some areas have high turnover, which can make it easier to get a place. Smaller areas can be more difficult.

Once an apartment or house has been secured, make sure to have roommates who understand the leasing process and are willing and able to pay rent, deposits, and utilities in full and on time each month so not to jeopardize the living situation.

In addition, pay attention to the terms of the lease. Leases are not typically based on semesters. For example, anyone who intends on graduating in December should not sign a lease that lasts until June or July of the following year, as that will leave the rest of the housemates with having to find a new tenant. Conversely, the student who leaves may be responsible for paying the remainder of the lease until it is up if the others on the lease cannot find a roommate.

Research Cost Of Living In Advance

For those moving into an area for the first time, it would be advisable to do some research to see what the cost of living will be. Different areas of the country can be vastly different with regard to student housing costs, utility expenses, and even groceries. When looking at advertisements, check for not only the rent each month, but also how many utilities are included and the remaining cost. Think about whether or not that is affordable.

Moving to college can be a fun and exciting time, but it is important to consider everything that comes along with it. Think about where the best place to live would be based on the budget available. For those interested in on-campus student housing, it is important to research that option, at least one semester in advance, to ensure there is a place available. For off-campus living, be sure to carefully consider cost of living expenses. Also, be sure to choose roommates wisely. Not enjoying the other housemates can lead to a very stressful year.

5 Tips for Buying a House Cheaply (Like an Investor)

Do you want to buy a house at 30%, 40%, or more below “fair market value”? It’s certainly possible. Investors are using these strategies every day, across the country. The same techniques that work for investors will work for you–saving you a bundle of money and resulting in “more house” than you’d thought possible.

The strategies will work for anyone, so long as you have some patience and some flexibility in timing and location.

Note: These strategies will all work on properties listed on the MLS. They work even better for properties that aren’t listed. If you find a property that isn’t listed, that’s another advantage for you: You’ll have little or no competition for the property since it isn’t being advertised for sale.

Tip #1: Vacant Houses: Look for vacant houses. Because no one’s living there, by definition that’s a house that someone else (the owner) doesn’t need. He or she is somewhere else, likely paying a mortgage or rent on another property. Still, the vacant house is costing the owner money every month. There may be a mortgage, a line of credit, utilities, maintenance, taxes, and more.

Insider’s Tip: Some localities charge a lot more tax for vacant houses. Example: Washington D.C.’s residential tax rate is $0.85 per $100 of assessed value. That’s pretty good. But if the house is vacant, the tax rate soars to $5.00. If it’s a “blighted” vacant property, the tax rate is an incredible $10.00. Owners of vacant property in D.C. and many other places are highly motivated just because of that huge tax rate. If it’s listed on the MLS and has been on the market for perhaps 30 days, make a low offer. If it’s not listed, contact the owner and begin negotiations.

Tip #2: Bad Rental Properties: Real investors stake out the courthouse–specifically the landlord-tenant cases (usually held one day a week). Whether the landlord wins or loses, he/she may just want to get rid of the property. You might also find these properties’ owners by advertising online through sites such as Craigslist. Bonus Tip: Contact property management companies. They’ll know their properties with bad tenants, and they may know whether the owner is interested in selling.

Tip #3: Inherited Houses: These can be very similar to vacant houses. Sometimes they’re vacant; sometimes not. (If not, it’s usually a relatively living temporarily there.) Often, the heirs don’t have a use for the house, and they’re not interested in becoming landlords. Meanwhile, there are those recurring monthly costs, as with vacant houses. Inherited houses often aren’t in good, updated condition, and the heirs aren’t interested in spending thousands of dollars just to fix the place up. They want to sell quickly and get whatever money they can out of the house.

Investors check records at the courthouse and contact probate attorneys. You can do the same. Plus, tax records (which you can research, or have them researched by a real estate agent or a researcher) will usually show which houses are in trusts or have been inherited.

Tip #4: Absentee Landlords: These are out-of-town owners who’ve rented their house out. This is different from “bad rental properties.” In many cases, the tenants are OK. But the out-of-town owners are ready to “move on” or cash in on the property. They have much less of an emotional attachment.

Tip: Look for properties that have been owned by the current owner for 20+ years. These owners are more likely to be interested in selling, and have little emotional attachment to the property. They’re also likely to have more equity in the house, making them able to accept your lower-priced offer. A real estate agent can quickly research the tax records and find owners who meet these criteria.

An investor-friendly real estate agent can help with any of these. (Some investors use agents; others don’t. So this isn’t a plug for agents, but there are things they can do–such as pulling comps [determining the property’s value by looking at recent comparable sales]–that the average person can’t.)

As with any offer, the lower you go, the less likely the owner is to say “yes.” On the other hand, the owners of the types of properties listed above are much more likely to accept low offers than is the typical seller. These are the classic “motivated sellers.” They want to sell. In some cases, they need to sell. You’re offering a solution.

Tip #5: Property Condition: Many of these properties won’t be in great condition. Some will be completely livable. Others will be very dated (inherited houses tend to be) or damaged in some way (bad tenants). You should get a home inspection done and can even make the purchase contingent on a satisfactory home inspection. But be willing to buy the property in as-is condition. What you’re saying is that, if you buy it, you’re not going to ask the owner to make any repairs. (What you’ll do is discounts his/her offer to account for needed repairs and maintenance.) The sellers in most of these cases isn’t eager to do all sorts of repairs, and may not even have the money to do so. Make it easy for the seller: Buy in as-is condition.

Those are 5 strategies that investors use to find and buy real bargain properties. You can do the same thing.