Category Archives: Real Estate

Four Strategies to Buy Rentals With No Down Payment

This tends to be a pretty controversial subject, and for good reason. When I was getting started in the business, I was young and broke and had no credit to speak of. I was not qualified to borrow money, yet I figured out how to buy properties, and I bought a lot of them. It was not long before I became a full time real estate investor, and on paper, I was a millionaire long before my 30th birthday. I accomplished this with a lot of hard work, education and tolerance to take the risk.

With all this said, just because you don’t need money to buy houses, does not mean you should have no money. I am a big, big believer in this. You see, although I was a millionaire at a young age, I basically lost it all when the market shifted. I was too aggressive with my growth, and did not establish an appropriate amount of reserves. After starting over, I structured things differently and am in a good position to not only survive a down turn, but to thrive in it. In this article, I will briefly walk through 4 ways to buy rentals with nothing out of pocket, but want you to understand that this does not mean you should own rentals with no reserves.

Owner Finance: This could mean many things, but for the purposes of this article I am going to assume that the seller of the home is extremely motivated and is willing to basically sell the house just to get away from the mortgage payments. This is commonly referred to as a subject-to transaction because you, as the buyer, will take title subject-to any other liens that are in place. What this means is you get ownership of the house, but the seller is still on the hook for the loan. You as the buyer will agree to either pay off the loan or make payments on the loan on their behalf. If you don’t, the lender can foreclose and wipe you off of title.

The seller is taking a tremendous amount of risk with this type of transaction, so it is difficult to negotiate and they need to be extremely motivated. It works well for you because you don’t need down payments or to qualify for a loan. It works for them because they have someone else making the payments on their loan, which relieves them of the payment pressure, and potentially can improve their credit. As you become more experienced, this is a strategy you will want to look into. This allows you to purchase an unlimited number of cash flowing properties without ever needing to qualify or sign for a loan.

Lease Options: This is the strategy that really worked for me when I was just getting started. I like it a lot because it is easy to explain to the seller and it is not difficult to get them comfortable with it. They still need to be motivated to want to do this, but nothing like the subject-to transactions.

The way this works is you negotiate with a seller of a home to lease the property for a set period of time. I would typically negotiate 10 years on these, but it can be anything you are comfortable with. The rent amount will be set. From there you agree on a price to buy the property for sometime during the lease term. The price is typically locked in close to today’s value. You then sublease the property, hopefully for more than your rent payment, and wait for the value to increase. If the value does not increase, which has happened to me, you can either re-negotiate the deal or let the property go. You have no obligation to buy, so you are not taking the risk of market fluctuation. If and when the value does increase you have several options: You can sell your option, exercise your option and resell the house for your profit, or just exercise the option and keep the property in your portfolio.

Bridge Loans: The idea here is to find a property that needs a lot of work that will make a good rental. You need to negotiate a price were you can buy it, fix it, and roll in all closing costs, and still be at or below 70% of the after repaired value (ARV). This does not work well unless the property needs to be repaired. This is very different than the first two strategies discussed, and is commonly used with bank owned foreclosures. Although, anytime you can negotiate a great deal will work.

After you purchase the home, you want to get it repaired and get a tenant in place as quickly as possible. You then refinance the loan into your permanent rental property loan. There are some additional details for this to work that are beyond the scope of this article.

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.

My First Open House Experience

I finally decided to write my first post. Why not? But what could I possible write about that is interesting and educational as well. I can write about the market, mortgage rules, down payments, etc

Or read the newspaper and write a well digested post.

So, here we go, I remember that day as if it was an hour ago! It has scarred me forever and ever. Every time a client asks me to run an open house, I sweat and swallow super hard. Even after having lots of successful “open houses”, this one still manages to make me run to the bathroom and grab the famous Pepto-Bismol.

So, long ago, when I became a licensed real estate agent, at the beginning of my time as a Realtor. The new challenges I was facing, a bit anxious but super excited at the same time. Knowing what I am made out of, a very hard working, honest, reliable, ethical individual couldn’t wait to run my very first open house!

Since I had no listing of my own and couldn’t just run an open house on my own house and tell anyone entering through the entrance: “thank you for coming, but this house is really not for sale! It is just for me to practice my new skills”

So I asked a few fellow agents in my office and at last, after 2 months of trying, one of our broker asked me to help him out!

I was so excited that I had a hard time falling asleep! I did a CMA, I looked up all the past, present sales in the area; looked up all the schools from public, private, catholic, French, etc in the neighborhood. I had so much info on the area that I felt like a walking Google!

I asked myself so many questions that people could come up with and I had the answer to every single one of them memorized!

The day of, I put on my super tailored suit, make sure nothing was stuck between my teeth, etc. I just wanted to run it as professionally as possible.

Anyhow, after opening the lock box to the unit, I realized that my suit had no pockets! And I didn’t take my purse with me, so the only secure place I could come up with storing the property’s key for 2 hours was my bra. No big deal, who would find out, after all, I showered and my bra was super clean and my suit just came out of the dry cleaners. I could use a bit of water and soap after and put it back in the lock box. Problem solved!

Open house was over at 4 pm, not too many people showed up but I had everything under control. I was extremely happy with the outcome. It was GREAT, except for the key stored in my bra and started to be a little uncomfortable.

So, I lock the property’s door, made sure it was actually locked, put back the key in the lock box, shuffle the combination, get in my car with a huge smile!

Contact the listing agent and thanked him for the opportunity and that everything was left in its perfect condition.

The next day, I had a fund raising event to attend. 5KM walk for a children’s hospital. So, on that Sunday, I am walking and thinking of yesterday’s open house. I am going to call those few individuals that came in. Asked them for feedbacks and take it from there. At exact same moment, my phone ran and it was the listing agent asking me where the key to the property is?!

He asked me to look in my pockets or purse, just in case, by mistake I forgot to put it back in the box. I told him that was not possible. And I had to tell him where I stored the house key for 2 hours the day before (super embarrassing!) and the silent after that.

I drove to the property just to see it for myself, and yes, sure enough, no key… I couldn’t believe my eyes! Being new to the business, new to this brokerage, my very first open house experience that I wanted it so badly and wanted to be “perfect” just got destroyed. No key, no house key a scheduled open house and we couldn’t get in.

The property had no showings after my open house. Key just gone, nowhere to be found, did not fall out of the box when I was putting it back. A total mind blowing experience.

It was obvious that it was stolen, by whom? No one knows. They’ve changed the lock right away and took all necessary security action, but… I felt terrible for the owners! There is nothing worse than feeling unsecured in your own home! Just the thought of knowing that some stranger might have the key to your property made me sick! I put myself in their shoes and I couldn’t fall asleep just thinking of it.

I can’t describe how I felt on that day and still do. Every single time I have to open a lock box and close it again, I get this weird feeling (even today). It just feels like time stops for a split second and it slows down.

4 Daily Habits to Adopt for Success in Real Estate & Life

Good habits are the foundation of wealth. If you watch successful people you will see their day is filled with consistent habits that save time, improve focus and ultimately help accomplish more daily. Successful people get up early, learn daily, make lists & set goals and track their progress.

• Get Up Early.

Make the first two hours of your day the most important. It will not only set the tone for the day but will give you a game plan for everything else that follows. These two hours can be used for activities you enjoy such as exercise, meditation or completion of a project or activity from the previous day. The early morning is free from distraction allowing you to do more of whatever you enjoy.

• 20 Minutes Of Learning Daily.

It is important in any business to know what is going on at all times. Trying to master every aspect of the business may seem intimidating but is less difficult if you spend some time on it daily. Regardless of how busy you may be you can squeeze twenty minutes of learning into your daily routine. You can find this time on an audiobook driving to or from an appointment or on the treadmill as you get some exercise in.

• Make Lists & Set Goals.

Success is often easier if you plan exactly what needs to get done. Before you go to bed you should plan for the next day. Tackle the toughest task first and go from there. Planning your goals not only makes you efficient but gives you a sense of direction and purpose. The most successful people in the world have one thing in common, they all say their goals out loud three times daily. This helps to reinforce their direction and keeps them on track in accomplishing their goals. Try it and see how much closer you get to reaching your goals!

• Track Progress.

If you don’t know what is working, is impossible to gauge the results? At the end of every day you should take some time to evaluate what you did to build on your progress. If you failed to do anything, you need to ask yourself why and then develop a new plan to stay on track.

Three Ways to Increase Property Values

Real estate investors live and die by their ability to add value. With no added value, there are no profits. This is true with any business, but what makes real estate such a great business and a great investment, is the number of ways you can add value and cash in on big profits. Here are three ways you can add value to your properties.

Upgrades and Repairs: OK, this is the obvious one and is the reason fix and flippers can make money. Some repairs add a lot more value than it costs to do. The more creative you are with the improvements, the more value you can add. For example, I have a client that adds square footage to every house he buys. He really likes the inner city properties because they are the hardest to add square footage. You either need to finish an unfinished basement, or add a second story. There is not typically enough land on the lot to add an addition by increasing the foot print of the property. This client does a lot of basement finishes and “pop tops,” but where he has made the most money is the basement that is only 5 or 6 feet deep. He will go in and dig out the basement to a full 8 or 9 foot height and then finish it. Something most investors would not think of, so he is able to get the deal most other investors pass on. I have also seen some investors find houses that don’t really fit into a neighborhood and they make them fit. This could be limited bedrooms or bathrooms or funky floor plans. All of that can be changed. Obviously many cosmetic fixes like kitchens and bathrooms add a lot of value too. There is a lot more to it than this, but the idea is to buy a property at its true ‘as is’ value, (don’t over pay), and then add value with the repairs and upgrades.

Owner Finance: I love this one because it is so easy to add value with very little to no work. You will need to wait to cash in on your profits, but it is a way to increase a sell price significantly. You can also use this strategy to defer tax gains over a few years, instead of taking a big hit all in one year. When you have a property for sale there are a limited number of buyers for the house, although right now that pool of buyers seems pretty big. If you can increase the pool of buyers, the demand for that one house increases, which forces the price to go up. Someone that cannot qualify for an ordinary loan, limiting the supply of houses to choose from for that buyer, will likely buy your property. That also increases the price. You are adding value by giving them the chance to own a home that they normally would not be able to own. For this value, you should be compensated with a higher price and a decent interest rate on the profits, while you wait for the buyer to refinance and pay you off in full.

Shared Units: This is one area of real estate that I have not dabbled in, but it is extremely inviting. The idea here is to sell your property to multiple buyers. You are seeing this a lot in resort towns. It is always a vacation or second home. Have you ever been to a time share presentation? They are pretty enticing aren’t they? About 13 years ago my ex wife and I were in Florida and got sucked into a time share sales pitch. We decided to go because they offered us free tickets to Disney. We sat there for about an hour and a half and then the hard sale came. They were very good at selling the “idea” of the time share and had my ex wife sold. She asked me to move forward with the deal, but I could not bring myself to do it. I told her that I was not comfortable with an emotional purchase and that we needed time to think it through. “Can I please have our Disney tickets?” was my response. As we rode back to the hotel that afternoon, I started thinking about the math. Each unit can be sold to 52 different people because your purchase only gets you 1 week a year. Add that to the annual maintenance fees and the numbers are staggering. I know people who have flipped time shares successfully, because you can get them for free or near free on Craigslist, but it is not an investment I was interested in. With that said, I have considered doing a half or quarter share on a house in a ski town in Colorado. In this scenario, you are sharing a house with 1 to 3 other people so there is a ton more flexibility. You can use or rent out your weeks and you can be guaranteed valuable high demand weeks every year. It is a way to get a second home without the full expense. From the seller’s point of view, it is a way to get more for the house. ½ a share of a house is going to cost the buyer more than ½ of the fair market value. I have seen business plans from investors that would buy a house and quarter share it out. The idea was that after they improved the property and sold ¾ of the house to 3 different buyers, they would own the last ¼ free and clear. Obviously this strategy will work best in areas where people want second homes. The downside is if there are any improvements or major issues. I can see there being disagreements, so this is something you would want, as a buyer, to work out with all the other owners in writing before you buy.

4 Ways To Wholesale Real Estate

Want to invest in real estate with no financial risk and no money or credit? Wholesaling houses is a popular choice. I personally think wholesaling can be a challenging way to get started, but the fact that you can get started in real estate investing without any barrier of entry makes wholesaling an attractive option. If you can get good at this side of the business, you will be success with anything you want to do. The reason I say that is finding deals is what makes a wholesaler successful. If you can get good at finding deals, you have unlimited potential.

Once you find a deal, you need to understand how to sell it to make your profit. Here are four ways you can structure your wholesale properties.

Contract Assignment: This is the easiest, but comes with some risks if not done correctly. It is also somewhat restrictive as bank owned properties will prevent this. This works well when you negotiate your deals directly with the seller. The way this works is you will get a house under contract and then you will assign your rights in the contract to another buyer for a fee. That new buyer will take on the rights and responsibilities in the contract and will close in your place. It is best to get your fee paid up front, but it is very common to get your fee when your buyer buys the house. Here are a few things to keep in mind when assigning contracts.

Be sure that you always disclose to your seller that you are or may assign the agreement to another buyer for a fee. I suggest you actually put this in the contract. Sellers should be OK with this if you are transparent that you are an investor who buys houses for a profit before you start to negotiate.

I would get money from your money that is at least enough to cover any earnest money you put up with your seller. That way if your buyer defaults on the agreement you at least cover your costs. Always try to get the entire fee paid when you assign the contract.

I like this way the best because it is easy to do on your end, it is easy for the buyer and the buyer’s lender, and it is the cheapest way to go.

Double Close: This just means that you actually buy the house and then resell it. There are several ways to do this, but the most common is to buy and sell in the same day or within a day. Typically, you will need to bring in financing to get your closing done with the seller, which is why this is my least preferred method to wholesale. Also, because you have two closings you will have two sets of closing costs, so it is the most expensive way too. With that said, some wholesalers prefer this method because they do not have to disclose to the seller their intent to resell and they can both keep their deal with the seller and their deal with their buyer private. It is believed by some that this is a good way to protect your profits. The information will all become public record at some point, but that is well after the closing.

This is the method you will use by default if you do not do your contract on the front end correctly, so we do see double closing frequently.

Flip the Entity: This has become the most common way to wholesale in my market. Most, if not all, the successful wholesalers will use this strategy. Especially when wholesaling foreclosures where contract assignments are forbidden.

The way this works is the wholesaler will set up a separate entity, like an LLC or a Trust, and put that entity as the buyer of the house to be wholesaled. They will then sell the entity itself for a fee. The benefit with using this strategy is that actual contract on the house does not change. Since the buyer of the house is the entity, there are no issues with any regulation or assignment restrictions. The downside is it could be more work because of the extra step to set up the entity, and there could be additional fees to register the entity with the state. The risk for the buyer is whenever you buy a company you are buying all of it. So, if the entity was used in another transaction and owes money to anyone, the new buyer could be on the hook. Knowing this, the best way to do this transaction is with a brand-new entity used for this one purpose.

Relationship Close: I don’t know if there is an actual name for this method. In fact, it is rarely seen. What I mean by relationship close is that you have such a strong relationship with a buyer that you write offers in the buyer’s name. For this to work, you should be a licensed agent and preview houses for your buyer. You would need to understand their criteria and only offer on houses they will want to buy. I have a client that works this way. He has an agent write his offers and the agent/wholesaler gets paid a commission with each successful closing. They do 2 to 3 deals a month with this strategy. My client just signs contracts without looking at them at this point and trusts what the wholesaler is putting together solid offers. There is always an inspection clause protecting the buyer and the agent, but more than 9 out of 10 houses that go under contract close. That is because the agent/wholesaler knows the business and knows what this buyer will buy.