5 Tips To Help Get Your Flip Sold Quickly in Calgary

As a house flipper your job isn’t over until the property is sold. You can do great rehab work but until you are at the closing table there is still more to be done.  Every day that you own the property you are on the hook for the carrying costs and other expenses.  It is not an exaggeration to say that with a rehab time really does equal money.  Additionally having capital tied up in one property may prevent you from purchasing others.  You want to get every property sold as quickly as possible but even more so with fix and flip properties.  Here are five tips to help get your rehab sold quickly.

  • Use A Real Estate Agent. There is a difference in getting a job done and getting it done right. Speed and efficiency are the name of the game when it comes to getting your property sold. You may consider selling your home on your own and saving some money but you are giving up much more than you are getting. Selling a home yourself is a lot more work than you may think. Not only do you have to find creating ways of marketing the property but you need to make yourself available for all showings. There are times in your business when it pays to use a professional and selling your home is one of them. Not only does a real estate agent know how to market your property but they have established contacts in the area. These contacts are vital in helping generate interest and creating a buzz. They can show the property quickly and answer any questions a buyer may have about the market. You may be able to get your property sold but if you want it done quickly you need to enlist the services of a real estate agent.
  • Price Right. The first item any prospective buyer notices is the price. The property may sparkle from floor to ceiling but it doesn’t necessarily mean buyers are willing to pay a premium. If you truly want a quick sale you need to price in line with what is on the market. Don’t just look for the highest comparable sale and base your list price off of that. Trying to shoot for the moon and squeeze every dollar often has a negative effect. A property that is listed too high from the start may not even be looked at. Gone are the days where you can list high and hope to get offers. If you out-price your market prospective buyers will look for more affordable market options regardless of the quality of your work. Always take in account what is currently on your market or sold within the last sixty days as you think about where to list your property.
  • Evaluate Weekly. The first few days after your property is listed should be a pretty good indicator of demand. There is no better way to tell if you have listed at the right price than by listening to the market. If there are limited showings it can be viewed as a sign that you may have listed too high or there is an issue with the marketing. If buyers have flooded the property without offers there may be a problem with the presentation or something inside the property. In a quick sale situation every week can feel like months. You should huddle with your real estate agent weekly to get a sense of what is going on. If you feel that marketing needs to be ramped up you can talk about alternatives. If there needs to be a price reduction you should be ready to take bold action if necessary. Don’t wait for the market to come to you. Evaluate where the property is every week and make your decisions accordingly.
  • Presentation Matters. You never know what a prospective buyer will notice. From the very first day your property hits the market you need to make sure every inch of the property is perfect. Even if you think it is clean enough you need to go the extra mile and have everything professionally cleaned. It is also important that you don’t neglect the exterior. Overgrown bushes, excessive leaves in the yard or rusting gutters can be the think that changes a buyer’s opinion. It’s a cliché but you never get a chance to change a first impression. With excessive demand in most markets you need your property to stand out from the crowd. How the property looks is critical in getting it sold quickly.
  • Accept Right Offer. All sellers want to get the highest price for their property. However when selling a rehab the highest offer may not always be the right one. It is more important that you accept the offer with the greatest chance of actually closing. By accept the wrong offer you set the process backs weeks and possibly longer. You lose all momentum the property has and you are forced to pick up where you left off. The right offer may sometimes mean a little less profit but the security of knowing you can close quickly. With any financed offer you need to look at the strength of the pre-qualification letter. There should be a significant down payment as well as quick mortgage contingency. Don’t just jump at the first offer that comes your way. Take a minute to gauge the strength of the offer and make sure you are comfortable.

The quicker you can turn your rehab over the faster you can move on to the next project. Follow these five tips to help get your next flip sold quickly.

5 Tips To Help Secure Financing

One of the biggest hurdles for investors old and new alike is securing financing. You can have everything else with your business in place but without financing you won’t get very far.  How and where you find financing has changed dramatically over the past ten years.  It wasn’t that long ago when lender financing was the only realistic source of funding.  Today between hard money lenders, private money lenders and silent capital partners there are more financing options than ever before.  While finding financing is easier it doesn’t mean it will simply fall on your lap.  You still need to dazzle your capital source and make a solid presentation regardless of who you are talking to.  Here are five tips to help establish and secure the financial backing you are looking for.

  • Know Your Target. It is important that you treat every financing meeting with the respect and importance it deserves. You truly never know who will be the person that catapults your business to the next level. Regardless if you are meeting with your great uncle or a top local hard money lender you need to prepare the same. You should have a little background on what they want out of the deal and what their risk tolerance is. Without a personal understanding of who you are speaking with your presentation will sound repetitive and rehearsed. Don’t forget that you are the one looking for capital. Even if you have closed a few deals you still need to put your best foot forward. This starts with doing a little homework on your target either online or by asking questions to the people around them. The more you know about your target the more comfortable they will feel working with you.
  • Prepare Numbers & Answers. No lender is going to blindly open up their wallet and give you a blank check. You may eventually get to that point but only after you have built up confidence through several deals. As you plan your financing meetings you need to be ready for every possible scenario. It is human nature for a lender to want to know their bottom line potential. This should be the starting point for your presentation. In addition to the bottom line you need to know everything about the numbers, exit strategy options, carrying costs and potential setbacks. You should leave no stone unturned and be ready for whatever question comes your way. One strategy to help with this is to think about what you would want to know if the shoe was on the other foot. The more you know about every potential outcome the more confident someone will feel working with you. Nobody likes to think about the negative but by taking a proactive approach and discussing the worst case scenario you address the elephant in the room.
  • Focus On Benefit. Why would someone want to give you access to capital? As is the case with any potential business partnership there needs to be a net benefit for both sides. For you the benefit is the access to funding and the chance to grow your business. For the lender they want to know that their money is safe and they will see a positive return on their investment. During your meeting or presentation you should constantly revert back to the benefit. Every investor walks the line between risk and return. One of the things that make real estate so appealing is the potential of double digit returns. A private money lender may have money parked in a savings account currently generating somewhere in the neighborhood of 1% interest. They understand there is no risk but the returns aren’t exactly eye popping. For them the benefit is the chance to put their money at work for a strong potential return while letting you handle the real estate portion of the transaction. Whatever the benefit is you need to find it and keep coming back to it.
  • Follow Up Promptly. Even the best meeting may not produce an immediate partnership. You may have set the groundwork of a partnership moving forward but you still need to seal the deal. With every meeting regardless of how you think it went you should follow up within 24 hours. By following up you show that you want to do everything possible to make things work. This also gives you the chance to find the answer to any lingering questions or hammer home the benefit you discussed. You shouldn’t wait for them to contact you. Take a proactive approach and follow up with a phone call or leave a voicemail with an exact day to speak again.
  • Show Personality. One of the things that lenders really want to know is who they are working with. Numbers and returns are important but often times are not enough to secure a partnership. They want to feel comfortable and confident that you are just as vested in the partnership as they are. Don’t be afraid to show your personality. There are times when you should take your foot off the pedal and lighten things up. It is ok to talk about things going on in the community, your favorite sports teams or what is happening with your kids. Connecting with your lender about personal issues can be the final item that pushes the agreement over the top.

Even if you currently use traditional lender financing or have a hard money outlet you can never have enough sources of capital. Use these five tips in your next financing meeting.

5 Secrets To Closing More Deals in Calgary

Generating leads is great but the name of the game is conversion. The more leads you can convert into actual deals the stronger your business will be.  As a real estate investor not enough time is spent on this aspect of the business.  Most investors feel that turning leads into deals is a numbers game and the brunt of their work is done with the initial contact.  The reality is that there are several things you can do once you get the lead that will give you a distinct advantage in closing the deal.  By closing just 10% more leads over the course of the year you will see a stark improvement to your bottom line.  Here are five tips to help you turn more leads into actual deals.

  • Target The Right Audience. One of the ways to increase your conversion rate is by targeting the right audience. You need to deal with individuals who are motivated to take action. You can provide a great service but if your audience doesn’t need it you are wasting your time. With any lead generation it is always better to spend a little more time or money on higher quality leads. If they are not fully interested they will drag the process along for weeks without committing to anything. On the flip side if they are motivated through foreclosure, divorce or probate they are much more likely to want to act quickly. A smaller handful of higher quality leads is always better than a larger amount of average ones. The first step in converting more leads to deals starts with the quality of leads you are working on.
  • What’s In It For Them? There is a certain psychological aspect of selling. Instead of promoting yourself and your business make the other person the star of the show. The people you talk to to don’t care about all of the business you have done and deals you have closed. They want to know how you can help them or resolve a situation. This should be the highlight of any marketing material you send or any presentation you make. If you have the ability to close quickly so a homeowner can avoid foreclosure this should be prominently mentioned. If you will work with them on a closing date so their children can finish out the school year this must be driven home. Whatever the most positive benefits are should be brought to their attention. There will always be questions as to what is in it for you but you can negate those by bringing the focus quickly back to them. The better you are at highlighting the positives the more likely they will want to take action.
  • Think Like A Salesperson. In the world of real estate there is much more selling involved than you may realize. Every day you try to sell someone on your services, a property or any other aspect of your business. The key is selling yourself without sounding like a salesperson. It is no secret that people don’t like to be sold. In general people would much rather be left alone when shopping than deal with a high pressure sales pitch. The same is the case with converting leads. You need to walk a fine line between sounding like a salesperson while still constantly pushing the deal forward. This means explaining and educating but setting firm dates to take action by. One of the most common sales expressions is “always be closing.” With everything you say and do you need to push to get your lead to take action. The longer you wait the less likely they will end up working with you. Even if you are not the quickest speaker you can still be a good salesperson. As long as you can put yourself in the other person’s shoes and convey your message without sounding like a robot you will see your lead conversion rate increase.
  • Constant Contact. The first twenty four hours for any new lead are critical. The actions you take during this time set the stage for everything else that transpires with your contact. After your initial conversation you need to be in constant contact until you get an answer either way. You should have a definite time and date lined up for your next conversation. If that conversation doesn’t close the deal you need to schedule a follow up date. In between that time you should send quick emails or texts asking if they have any questions or resolving any issues they may have had. It is human nature for people to want to work with people they are comfortable with. You can improve your level of comfort by staying in contact all throughout the process.
  • Data Retention. Without proper data retention you may be throwing away perfectly good leads. Every lead that comes in must be stored in a dedicated file or spreadsheet. You should keep as much information as you can put on this spreadsheet. If things don’t work out initially you should still maintain contact every week or so. When they are finally ready to act you need to be able to pick up right where you left off. If you don’t have any of their information they will lose confidence in you and probably work with someone else. You may be surprised at how many deals you can gain simply by retaining data and following up.

Closing more leads can turn a good investor into a great one. You can completely change your business simply by improving your lead conversion rate.

How To Work With Motivated Sellers in Calgary

With any motivated seller lead the first goal is to get the homeowner to agree to a meeting. The meeting should act as a mini presentation for what you can do and how you plan on doing it without being too over the top.  You never want to hide the fact that you are a real estate investor but there is a certain way of delivering your message.  Every meeting with a motivated seller should be viewed as an opportunity.  They are most likely going to work with someone and that person can be you if you put your best foot forward during your meeting.  Here are five tips to help improve every motivated seller meeting you have.

  • Consider Your Approach.  People like working with people they feel comfortable with. Before diving right into the numbers you should take some time and build a rapport. This starts from the minute you drive up to the property. Wearing a three piece suit may work for some meetings but not for homeowner meetings. You want to respect the process and wear something appropriate but nothing too over the top that creates a negative first impression. As you enter the house you should make small talk and not be afraid to ask about the neighborhood or something timely in pop culture. If you have a good sense of humor you should be willing to make a joke as long as it is in good taste. Usually self-deprecating humor works best. Prior to sitting down you should ask to walk around the property further making the homeowner feel as comfortable as possible with you. By the time you sit down the ice should be broken and there should be little or no uncomfortable feelings.
  • Ask Questions. Most of your heavy lifting is done with the initial conversation. When you get to the property the answers should simply confirm what you already know. As you walk the property you should ask questions to get a better sense of their motivation. Find out or reconfirm why they are selling and what prompted their situation. If they say there was a major life event don’t just glaze over this fact. Shift gears and ask what happened and offer any advice you can lend. You want to get your questions answered but you don’t want to sound like you are reading off a script. If the homeowner feels you are insensitive they will surely go find someone else to work with. You can always switch up the pattern you ask questions to find out the information you need. The template you use for sitting down with motivated sellers is just that-a template. You need to have the ability to change gears on the fly all the while still getting the information you need.
  • Listen To Answers. A common mistake that many investors make is rushing through the process without listening to the answers. In almost every circumstance the homeowner will tell you want they want, when they want it and whether or not they are really interested in selling. If you are too busy thinking about the next question you will miss out on some valuable information. Don’t be afraid to let the homeowner go with their answers. This is usually a very difficult time in their lives and they have probably been holding things in for some time. If they want to talk about the process and what led them to this point you should have a compassionate ear. You should also be ready to answer any questions they have. As unfortunate as it is homeowners need to be on alert for scammers. Don’t take it personally if they ask to verify you and your company.
  • Ask About Goals. It is not uncommon for a motivated seller to have unrealistic expectations for the process. They may have heard a story from a friend or family member about how things went for them and want the same on their transaction. Without knowing exactly what the homeowner wants it can be difficult moving forward. Everything starts with the sales price. If you are far apart on value your first goal is to get the seller to see your number. You can do this by calmly pointing out the flaws of the property without being too critical. You should also use comparable sales and current listings to support your argument. This information should be readily available at your meeting but you should only use if needed. Next you need to get an idea of their timeframe. If the seller doesn’t want to close for six months and you want to close in two you need to figure out how to bridge the gap. It is important that you understand the homeowner’s goals and explain what is realistic and what may be impossible to attain.
  • Lean But Don’t Push. You want to know where you stand immediately following the meeting. Depending on how close you are will determine your next course of action. On one hand you always want to push for an answer but on the other if you push too hard you may discourage the seller. The best way to do this is by asking for answers on a predetermined date but make that date far enough away so they have time to think things over.   Always remember what may be just a deal to you is much more important for the seller.

By definition motivated sellers are ready to take action. Use these tips to help convert more meetings into actual deals.

7 Things You Should Do Before Your Next Tenant Moves In

There is a big difference between a good landlord and a great one. In most cases it is the little things you do that make all the difference. By going the extra mile, even when you don’t have to, you will have a happier tenant that respects you and the property. A happier tenant is much more likely to pay on time every month and take better care of the property. They also have an increased chance of staying longer which decreases the need to spend time finding new tenants. It is always easier getting things done while the house is vacant or before a new tenant enters the property. When they do get in you want to immediately create a positive first impression that hopefully lasts the duration of the lease. Here are eight things you should consider doing before your next tenant moves in.

  • Replace AC Filters.  It is important to remember that your tenants are not going to take care of the property the same way you would. They will not do the little things that add to the useful life of the property. One of the most overlooked items is with seasonal maintenance. You certainly don’t need to change the AC or HVAC filters every few months but by doing so your units will run much more efficiently and effectively. It is not uncommon to squeeze some extra years out of the unit simply by staying on top of the filters every lease. Changing the filters won’t cost more than $20 but has a hidden impact on the way your property runs.
  • Update/Clean Patio Furniture. One of the reasons that tenants despise moving is because they don’t want to constantly pack all their possessions. Many tenants do not have patio furniture to call their own and would like to take advantage of the area if available. Even though you can probably get away with the same patio set from last decade a new one would be much appreciated. This doesn’t mean you have to get a brand new, top of the line set. You can get find a table and chairs for less than $150. Whatever you spend should be viewed as an investment for at least the next three to five years.
  • Landscape. There is a tendency with landlords to cut corners wherever possible. Every now and then you need to spend money to take care of your investment. While most of your attention should be paid to the interior you can’t forget about the outside. When is the last time you power washed the house? If you are like most landlords the answer is years ago. You don’t need to have it done every year but at the first sign of mildew and dirt you should plan to have it done. A good power wash can last you at least three years baring anything drastic. Additionally, you should have any bushes by the house trimmed and grab a few bags of fresh mulch. The longer you ignore these the more difficult, and expensive, they become.
  • Switch Plates/Lightbulbs. There are some tenants who notice everything. As a rule of thumb, you never want to give them a chance to complain over something that is easy and inexpensive to fix. Prior to tenants moving in you should go around the house and change every lightbulb that is out. Whatever are left you should leave in the closet for your new tenants. Another inexpensive fix are the switch plates. If you haven’t changed the plates by the outlets and light switches in years they can get old and dirty. You can get a bag of plates for just a couple bucks. It won’t take you more than a few minutes to go around the house and update or replace these items.
  • Paint Doors. It is understood that you should consider a fresh coat of paint for the interior walls. However, many tenants never think about painting the front or back door. A fresh coat of paint on a front door can make it feel and look like new. Instead of replacing the door a nice latex coat can make a big difference. Don’t forget about the inside portion of the door as well. The inside is probably filled with finger and hand prints that have been there for years.
  • Clean Chimney. If you have a fireplace you can bet that your tenants are going to want to use it. You can hold off until the fall or start of winter to have it cleaned but you may be able to find a good deal in the summer. It is not uncommon to get 30-40% off a cleaning simply by booking it in off months. Plus, you never know which tenant will look in the fireplace and who knows what they will see.
  • Groupon for Cleaning. There are several little things you can do at the start of the lease that create good will. A gift card to an area supermarket or a nice bottle of wine are often fine touches. You don’t need to break the bank with these any amount is appreciated. If you want to send a win-win gift you should find a Groupon for a house cleaning. There are always specials on the site and gift for them is really a gift for you.

The truth is that you don’t need to do any of these things to attract tenants. However, by doing them you increase the chances of happy a happy and worry-free lease.

Analyzing A Property in Calgary: How To Know If Your Deal Is Solid

Most real estate investors are in a constant search of their next deal. Even if they have projects they are currently working on they usually have one eye on the future.  There are times when this quest for a new deal leads them to places they don’t want to be.  They begin entertaining deals, properties and projects that don’t really fit with what they want to do.  Soon enough they have committed hours to a property and are considering making an offer.  It is at this point when you need to step back and think about whether or not you really want to move forward.  Getting your next property to contract is nice but not if it sets your business back months.  Here are five things to consider before making an offer.

  • Cost Of Repairs. The basic concept of any deal in real estate is to generate value after you buy. This is usually done through buying in the right market or adding value through improvements. If the cost of improvements outweighs the return the deal may not be as good as you thought. Before making an offer you need to evaluate your cost of repairs. For starters make sure you are using realistic numbers. If your repair numbers are not accurate you will be running uphill trying to recover the minute you take ownership. Next, take a look if your repair numbers give you the return you anticipate. Blindly making upgrades and improvements does not work with every property. Regardless if you are buying to rehab or rent you will probably need to spend money on the property. Getting a property that needs excessive work without an appropriate return is a deal you need to reconsider.
  • Numbers. In addition to the cost of repairs there are several other numbers that should influence your decision. The numbers are the backbone of any deal. It is not enough to simply glaze over your numbers and assume they are accurate. If you are off even slightly with the numbers you won’t make the profit you are looking for. There are a handful of simply formulas that you can use as a guide. These formulas may seem tired and old but they still work with almost any property. Start with the most basic number for any purchase, the price. Are you comfortable with what you plan on offering? As obvious as it sounds if you don’t think the numbers work at the asking price offer what you think is fair. You never know what a selling is thinking and may accept. Next think about your after repair value and current market conditions. It is critical that you compare apples to apples. Looking at properties that don’t match the subject property will give you an unrealistic expectation of value. Breaking down all the numbers on a deal may be overwhelming but is the most important aspect of deal evaluation.
  • Due Diligence. Do you know everything about the property and the deal? The most successful investors are those who leave no stone unturned. They don’t accept the sellers or their real estate agents numbers as fact. They take the time to verify everything about the property and rarely have any regrets. They have no doubt as to the condition of the property and are usually never thrown off by an unexpected item. There is a lot of work that goes into making an offer. You need to spend the time to verify everything about the property, neighborhood, title, numbers and deal. Since there are so many moving parts all it takes to one slip up to be left disappointed with the deal. There are always things that pop up that are out of your control. You need to do everything in your power to leave as little to the imagination as possible. Due diligence is necessary prior to making any offer.
  • Legality. Only after you are comfortable with the numbers and the property should you move forward with the offer. Even if it looks like everything is clear sailing you are not out of the woods yet. You, your real estate agent and your attorney need to review the contract, lease and any other legal document associated with the property. As much as you may like a property if the contact is written in a way that does not provide protection you may need to walk away. Here is where a good attorney will make their money and negotiate to get these items fixed. If there is a stalemate and things cannot be resolved you have to weigh the risk and reward of making an offer.
  • What Needs To Happen After I Take Ownership? With any property your vision must meet reality. The final piece in moving forward with your deal is making sure what you want to do is realistic. You and your contractor need to be on the same page as far as the budget and scope of work. Additionally you need to reach out to other members of your team to gauge availability and interest. If your team has other projects they can’t get out of your timeframe may be pushed back. With any real estate investment time is of the essence. You need to hit the ground running as soon as you take ownership. If there are any delays it will impact your bottom line. Before you make any offer you need to know that your time is on board and ready to go when needed.

Never make an offer just for offers sake. Eventually you will get an offer accepted on a property you don’t really want and you can’t get out of.  Prior to making any offer always consider these five areas.

60 Real Estate Blog Ideas To Boost Your Website’s Performance

Ready to unleash a powerful stream of real estate blogs to drum up business this year?

Real estate blogging remains one of the most important and valuable tools available to investors, agents, and industry businesses. But what do you blog about? It can be a challenge just to consistently come up with topics and title ideas. So here are 60 ideas for spurring your real estate blogging efforts, and ensuring a great start to the New Year:

  1. Your local real estate market forecast for 2016
  2. Comment on how higher interest rates will impact local sellers, buyers, and investors
  3. How the economy will impact the real estate market this year
  4. Your plans and new announcements for 2016
  5. A call for readers to join you on social media networks
  6. Announce a new email newsletter, and issue a call to sign up
  7. Market statistics and updated data
  8. The attraction of homes as Valentine’s Day gifts
  9. How to use real estate to minimize taxes ahead of April filing deadline
  10. The home buying process
  11. The home selling process
  12. Best local restaurants
  13. Best local coffee shops
  14. Best local interior designers, and furniture stores
  15. Top things to do in the area
  16. Upcoming events
  17. Top local Twitter accounts to follow
  18. Smart home tech for homeowners to add to their properties
  19. Top property developments of 2016
  20. A recap of your best real estate blog posts of last year
  21. A call for those seeking referrals to reach out to you, and vice versa
  22. Contact information and resources for those moving into the area
  23. The best rated, and top reviewed local moving companies
  24. Coverage of celebrity real estate deals and listings
  25. Tips for negotiating the best home loan deals
  26. Types of real estate financing available
  27. New loan program launches
  28. Best home improvements for adding value
  29. Social good your company is doing
  30. Highlight local heroes and others doing good for the community
  31. Announce a competition
  32. Poll your Facebook followers and publish the results
  33. Poll your LinkedIn contacts and publish the results
  34. Cover local Easter events
  35. Open house announcements
  36. Announce an award and nominate someone for it, or ask for nominations
  37. Highlight new team additions or strategic partnerships
  38. Highlight any press and media mentions you receive
  39. Resources for international buyers and investors
  40. Your processes and systems, and what customers should expect
  41. New software or tools you are adding this year
  42. New real estate website features
  43. Invite readers for a meetup to talk local real estate
  44. Highlight new reviews and feedback you receive
  45. A list of your favorite quotes
  46. Create an infographic on market
  47. Put together a brief history of your city
  48. Profile different neighborhoods, communities, or condo buildings
  49. Review of common architectural styles, and how they are changing
  50. List of local companies that are hiring workers
  51. Create a slide show of local artwork
  52. Review local small businesses
  53. Highlights of your best moments in real estate
  54. Create a slide show of your favorite property listings or past deals
  55. Thanks for reading your real estate blog
  56. Introduce your blog team and their stories
  57. Your backstory and why you got into real estate
  58. Roundup of the latest news stories
  59. How to move up from renter to homeowner
  60. Wealth building and real estate investment tips

There is plenty to blog about. If you blog daily, this list ought to keep you going for the next couple of months. If you publish less often, it will last you even longer. Need more ideas, or the time to write them? Consider hiring a copywriter, and potentially an assistant to upload and publish your posts consistently. Whatever you do, don’t underestimate the power and importance of content marketing and blogging for your business in 2016. It can take some thought and investment, but the results are more than worth it.

What will you blog about this year?

Cool Calgary Home Additions To Bank On

What cool, yet unconventional, home additions can homeowners and real estate investors add for additional appeal to their property?  Adding the right improvements can result in huge profits for any investor.

Home additions and improvements are constantly a source of controversy in the real estate community. Green real estate investors and regular homeowners frequently and mistakenly believe that the improvement ideas they have will automatically add value to their properties. Unfortunately, while many of these upgrades may make the property look nicer and increase a perceived value, they do little to actually boost the price.

Many times, newbies put tons of cash into home additions that never produce a positive return. It takes extensive knowledge of the real estate industry and local home values to make the right improvements and generate a profit. Decks, additional bedrooms, new landscaping, and staging can all be good moves. But what creative additions are there to consider that may really be exciting and rewarding to work on?

Consider the following home additions for your project:

1. Pools

Done right, a swimming pool with great landscaping can be the selling feature that stands out and gets a home sold, regardless of what the rest looks like.

2. Relaxing spaces

Americans are more stressed out than ever and want their home to be a retreat where they can get away from it all. So what about a rooftop Zen garden, sauna or yoga studio?

3. Bigger home offices

Home offices have been pegged as one of the most important room additions today. However, with more individuals working from home and home schooling become a bigger trend, buyers want bigger home offices that are already for them to switch on and get to it.

5 Mortgage Items You Can’t Afford To Miss

One of the most intimidating aspects of getting a loan is trying to sift between jargon and fact. For something as important as a mortgage there is plenty of misinformation out there. If you talk to five different people you may get five different opinions and observations about their mortgage. One person will tell you how you should take advantage of the reduced interest rates that an adjustable rate mortgage (ARM) offers. Someone else will say that you should stay far away from ARMs regardless of the situation. Whether you are talking about a mortgage for an investment property or a primary residence you need to know as much as you can about what you are getting into. Some information about your mortgage is pretty cut and dry but some may surprise you. Here are five random mortgage items you may not know.

  • There Are No True First Time Homebuyer Programs. One of the biggest myths in the home buying community is that there are discounts for first time homebuyers. There are cleverly worded programs for new homebuyers but there is no rate discount or down payment reduction solely for first time buyers. Where buyers may be confused is with FHA or other minimal down payment programs. Since these programs are only offered to buyers without any other mortgages they appear to be for first time buyers only. The reality is that if you have bought & sold a property and are currently renting you have access to the same programs that a brand-new buyer has. If you are working with a lender or mortgage broker who claims to have an exclusive first time homebuyer program you may want to ask exactly what it entails.
  • You Have A 30-Day Payment Window. Most people know how important it is to pay their bills, particularly their mortgage, on time. What not everyone knows is exactly when they are required pay it by. Lenders give their borrowers until the 15th of every month before they impose a late fee. Depending on the specific lender this can be as much as $100, in most cases around the $50 mark. While you should always strive to avoid unnecessary fees whenever possible you are not technically late if you miss the 15th. Paying on the 20th of the month may still leave you with a late fee from your lender but not a mortgage late on your credit report. You are not late in the eyes of a creditor until you are thirty days late. This doesn’t mean you should get in the habit of paying on the last day of the month but there are times when things happen out of your control. Don’t take out a high interest rate short term loan because you think you must pay by the 15th. You are not technically late until the 30-day mark.
  • 4 Months To Foreclosure. You don’t have to be a real estate investor to be familiar with a foreclosure. As much as you may have heard about, or even invested in, a foreclosure you may not know what it takes to get to that point. A foreclosure starts after a homeowner misses four consecutive mortgage payments. At that point, they receive notice from their lender that they are moving to foreclose the property. This shouldn’t exactly come as a surprise. Starting from the first month they are late they receive notice from their lender every few weeks with attempts to modify or restructure the loan. Depending on the specific lender once you hit the 90-day late mark they may only accept the total amount owed. If your plan was to pay one month just to catch up you may be in for a surprise. Foreclosure laws vary based on the state and the lender but everything starts at the 120-day late mark.
  • Extra Principal Payments Really Do Work. One of the myths regarding principal reduction is actually based in fact. If you are looking to pay off your mortgage as quickly as possible extra payments towards principal will accelerate the payoff. On a thirty-year mortgage one extra mortgage payment towards the principal every year will knock roughly seven years off the mortgage. On a fifteen-year term one payment can chop off four years. Even if you don’t make a full monthly payment paying something extra towards the principal has an impact. Even you if never pay your mortgage off entirely additional principal payments will increase your equity which will give you home equity or refinancing options.
  • Interest Rates Matter….But Only On Larger Loans. Most mortgage shoppers are hung up on getting the lowest possible interest rate. While everyone is entitled to the best possible deal the reality is that a reduced interest rate may not make as big a difference as you think. The smaller the size of your loan the lower the impact is on your payment. For example, on $100,000 loan amount the difference between a rate of 4.5% and 3.5% is only $57 a month. Conversely, on a $300,000 with the same rates you are looking at a $173 difference every month. The higher your loan amount the more impactful every eighth of a point is to the interest rate.

Currently, all mortgage brokers must be licensed. If you have a general mortgage question they should be able to answer it or find the answer within 24 hours.

5 Actions To Take When You Apply For A Traditional Mortgage Loan

There are many real estate investors who are utilizing traditional lender programs. With interest rates continuing to slide this has become an increasingly viable option.  As popular as lender programs are not every borrower can get approved.  There are still strict guidelines in place and a mountain of documentation that has to be provided.  With a strong credit score, significant down payment and low debt to income the process can seem as easy as it has ever been.  However, if there is even the slightest blemish you need to have everything in place well before you consider making an offer.  The more organized you are with your loan items the easier the process becomes.  If you are considering applying for a traditional mortgage here are five actions you need to take.

  • Review Your Credit Report. Regardless of what type of loan program you are considering everything revolves around your credit report. If you are considering bank financing the very first thing you should do is obtain a copy of your credit report. For starters this will give you an idea of your score but it will also provide you with all of the liabilities and negative items. If you haven’t looked at your credit report in some time there may be old accounts on there that catch you off guard. One erroneous account or old collection can single handedly pull your score down. The quicker you can get a jump on removing them the quicker your scores will improve. Starting this process after your offer is accepted may not give you enough time. The difference between a 690 score and a 722 can not only impact your interest rate but your approval as well.
  • Deposit Funds ASAP. Loan guidelines for investment loans are different than traditional single family purchases. In addition to stronger credit score requirements investment loans require down payment funds to be seasoned for at least sixty days. Simply put this means the money needs to be in a dedicated account for two months.   If you plan on pulling money from a stock account or anything else you need to do so as soon as possible. Lenders have strict guidelines regarding how long the funds must be in the account for. It is not enough to have them available. If they are not in the account for a full 60 days you will not be able to move forward with the application. In addition to the down payment amount the lender may ask for a few additional months of the mortgage payment for reserve funds. The bottom line is that if you are considering using a bank you need to put all of the funds in one account before you start your search.
  • Pay Down Debt. If your score is dangerously close to the acceptable level you need to focus on how you can give your credit a quick boost. If there are old items on your credit report you can get them removed and have your score updated in as little as 30 days. However, this only works for legitimate accounts. The only other way to quickly improve your score is by paying down your debt. The amount of available balance is second only to payment history when it comes to calculating your credit score. The lower your balance is in relation to your maximum balance the higher your score will go. First look at situations where a balance transfer makes the most sense. From there you should consider pulling funds from your bank account to pay down accounts you are maxed out or near maxed out on. The sooner you can lower your debt the sooner you will see the impact on your credit score.
  • Review Bank Statements. With every loan submission you are required to supply at least two months of bank statements. In addition to verifying the deposit amount you will also need to document any large deposits and withdrawals. A large majority of real estate investors are self-employed and deal largely in cash. This can create a problem when it comes to verifying items on the bank statements. Start by looking for any item over $500. Determine where the funds came from, or went, and write down an explanation. If your offer is accepted you will need to write a letter of explanation for each item and possibly supply cancelled checks. It is a good idea to have your lender review your statements and tell you exactly what you will need to provide.
  • Shop Around. Long gone are many of the loan programs from last decade. Almost all local banks have the same set of investor programs. There may be some slight change in the interest rate but the programs are basically the same. If you are looking for an investment loan your best bet is to shop around and find as many different options as possible. The best way to do this is through a local mortgage broker. Most brokers have access to dozens of banks with several different programs. All it takes is one to be a good fit for you and what you are looking to do. Before you commit to anyone you should talk to at least three different companies. Instead of having them pull your credit you should come armed with your credit score and bank statements. Ask about specific programs and guidelines and find the person or company you are most comfortable with.

There are many advantages of using lender financing. The key is to find the right program for your credit profile.  After your offer is accepted is typically too late to change gears.  Get everything in line before you start your property search.