7 Inexpensive Ways To Find Sellers in Calgary

The best real estate investors understand the importance of a keeping a full pipeline. Closing a deal today is great only if you can find ways to build on that momentum.  In almost any market there are motivated sellers.  The key is to constantly strive for ways to find them.  One of the misconceptions in the real estate business is that you need to spend thousands of dollars on marketing.  Pricey direct mail campaigns can be effective but there are other less expensive alternatives available.  Given these price points you can afford to try a combination of some or even all of them.  Here are seven inexpensive ways to find sellers.

  • Expired MLS Listings. One of the best ways to build your business is with a real estate agent. A quality real estate agent has multiple outlets for finding sellers. Most investors use their realtor to help with foreclosure and REO listings. These deals can be profitable but they are also very popular. An alternative to this is expired MLS listings. There are listings that have been on the market typically for several months. After anywhere from 90 to 120 days the listing will expire and either need to be renewed or is taken off the market. These sellers may have mispriced their property or were simply looking to gauge interest. Either way they may be frustrated and looking for any offer to get the ball rolling. You never know what you will get when reaching out to expired MLS listings.
  • Classified Newspaper Ads. There is a large segment of people who grew up relying on newspapers as their prime source of information. While newspaper popularity is down they still reach thousands of eyeballs every day. The classified section in your local newspaper has multiple options for finding sellers. The first is to reach out to all rental listings. Focus on ones with out of market area codes. An out of state landlords may be frustrated with the process and interested in selling. The classified section also has homeowners or investors who are looking to sell. You may talk to a few disgruntled owners but all it takes is one who is willing to make a deal.
  • Email Contact Lists. Every email you receive from a business card or personal contact should be put in a separate file. It is important to stay updated and relevant with these contacts. Every few weeks or so you should send out an email just to keep in touch. This email could include a newsletter or something else of relevance but the point is to keep you on their mind. You never know when one of your contacts may know someone who is interested in selling. The chance of closing a referral lead is much greater than any other type of lead you will generate. Every week you should look to add someone else to your file. The more people you can reach the greater the odds of finding a deal.
  • Mortgage Brokers. Mortgage brokers are a great source for motivated sellers. The average mortgage broker comes in contact with dozens of applications every week looking to either refinance or purchase. Some of these borrowers may not fit lender guidelines and selling is their best option. Since they know that their options are limited they are more likely to sell at a discounted number. On the flip side you can share any homeowner information on properties that you are selling. Every investor should have at least one solid mortgage broker as a contact.
  • Bandit Signs. Bandit signs are the small signs you see on various front yards. This being an election year they are especially prevalent. Instead of promoting your favorite politician you can market your business. Your bandit sign and read anything from “we buy houses” to “quick, cash closings.” Whatever slogan you want to use can be placed on these signs. You can typically purchase hundreds of these signs for less than the cost of a good dinner. These can be placed on any properties you current own or in select locations with town approval.
  • FSBOs. FSBO is the acronym for “for sale by owner”. As the name indicates these are owners who are selling their property without the assistance of a real estate agent. They may be looking to save money on real estate commission or simply feel they can do as good a job. Many FSBO properties try testing the market at an inflated market price only to come down after several months. With the inactivity they often entertain almost any offer that comes in. Working with fsbos often takes several months but the payoff could be receiving a great deal.
  • Driving For Dollars. Finding deals is often as easy as driving for dollars. You can spend a few hours every day driving an area of the market. Make note of any distressed looking properties you see. You can often find the owner through a tax search at town hall. From there reach out to them explaining that you buy investment properties in the area. They may have thought about selling but aren’t sure the easiest way to go about it. Driving for dollars just a few hours a day will often yield a handful of live leads.

Marketing and lead generation is a numbers game. The more leads you have the better chance you have of closing deals.  If you are looking to build your pipeline start by focusing on these seven inexpensive ways to find sellers.

10 Steps For Getting Started In Real Estate in Calgary

What steps are involved in getting started in real estate?

There is no question that real estate is one of the best career paths, investment opportunities and methods to generate long-term wealth. Of course, going from 0-60 in real estate can be a big leap for many. This is especially true for those desiring to get in full time. So how can aspiring real estate investors, agents, and start-up founders get started in this industry? What can they do to make the transition into real estate easier and more productive?

Whether cautious pessimist, or overly bullish optimist, it’s worth having a plan and identifying the steps. The pace individuals decide to tackle this process at is entirely up to them. Some might take a year, others just days. If you are not sure of the path you wish to take, consider the following:

Vision

Get a vision. Clarify it. Document it. Own it. What is it that you hope to achieve in, and through real estate? Money, power, fame, freedom, the capacity to do more to help others? What will success, and the end result look like? Creating a vision, or a goal, will not only help you see the bigger picture, but also elude to what you need to to to get there.

Learn

Every hour spent learning in advance can save many hours and tens of thousands of dollars later. For many, it can make years of difference in progress and achieving the vision. Just a few wrong decisions can take some on a detour that ends up lasting years, or even decades. The importance of learning and real estate education really can’t be overstated. It’s make or break: it can make all the difference in financial ruin on your first deal, or never doing a deal at all, versus hitting six figures in just a few weeks. Learn your options, best practices, the technical side of how transactions work. The more you know the better prepared you will be.

Pick a Strategy

Choose which strategy or niche you will tackle first. You can expand endlessly later, but it is normally better to master one aspect of real estate investing before moving on to the next endeavor. For example; real estate investors might choose between focusing on wholesaling, fixing and flipping houses, rentals, turnkey investments, new construction, or investing in mortgage debt. Real estate agents might choose between rentals, sales, luxury homes, or bread and butter low income properties in certain neighborhoods. Regardless of your exit strategy, pick one and stick to it. Don’t consider moving out of the niche until you are comfortable and ready.

Take Inventory

Take inventory so you know where you stand in relation to your goals. What do you have that will help? Where might you be lacking? What are your personal strengths, and weaknesses? List these out. Everyone has a different inventory – that’s okay. This is where you will find your personal advantages in the industry.

Where Can You Find Help?

After taking inventory, look for resources to make up where you are missing. Where can you learn more about the items you aren’t sure about? What hacks are there for putting together the parts you don’t have yet? Who can help fill in the blanks, or even do it for you? You certainly don’t have to do it all yourself. Can you benefit from a real estate partner or business coach or mentor, find partners, or just hire the help you need?

Get the Finances Right

It is definitely worth focusing in on finances. What have you got and what do you need? Can you get by with less? Where can you find more capital and credit if you really do need it, and what will you need to get it? Will you need a strong executive summary or pitch deck, or to improve your credit? Find out what it is you need and learn what you need to get it. However, be sure to look at all of your possibilities. There are several options available, many of which may not be a good fit. Your goal is to find the money that works best for your particular situation.

What steps are involved in getting started in real estate?

There is no question that real estate is one of the best career paths, investment opportunities and methods to generate long-term wealth. Of course, going from 0-60 in real estate can be a big leap for many. This is especially true for those desiring to get in full time. So how can aspiring real estate investors, agents, and start-up founders get started in this industry? What can they do to make the transition into real estate easier and more productive?

Whether cautious pessimist, or overly bullish optimist, it’s worth having a plan and identifying the steps. The pace individuals decide to tackle this process at is entirely up to them. Some might take a year, others just days. If you are not sure of the path you wish to take, consider the following:

Vision

Get a vision. Clarify it. Document it. Own it. What is it that you hope to achieve in, and through real estate? Money, power, fame, freedom, the capacity to do more to help others? What will success, and the end result look like? Creating a vision, or a goal, will not only help you see the bigger picture, but also elude to what you need to to to get there.

Learn

Every hour spent learning in advance can save many hours and tens of thousands of dollars later. For many, it can make years of difference in progress and achieving the vision. Just a few wrong decisions can take some on a detour that ends up lasting years, or even decades. The importance of learning and real estate education really can’t be overstated. It’s make or break: it can make all the difference in financial ruin on your first deal, or never doing a deal at all, versus hitting six figures in just a few weeks. Learn your options, best practices, the technical side of how transactions work. The more you know the better prepared you will be.

Pick a Strategy

Choose which strategy or niche you will tackle first. You can expand endlessly later, but it is normally better to master one aspect of real estate investing before moving on to the next endeavor. For example; real estate investors might choose between focusing on wholesaling, fixing and flipping houses, rentals, turnkey investments, new construction, or investing in mortgage debt. Real estate agents might choose between rentals, sales, luxury homes, or bread and butter low income properties in certain neighborhoods. Regardless of your exit strategy, pick one and stick to it. Don’t consider moving out of the niche until you are comfortable and ready.

Take Inventory

Take inventory so you know where you stand in relation to your goals. What do you have that will help? Where might you be lacking? What are your personal strengths, and weaknesses? List these out. Everyone has a different inventory – that’s okay. This is where you will find your personal advantages in the industry.

Where Can You Find Help?

After taking inventory, look for resources to make up where you are missing. Where can you learn more about the items you aren’t sure about? What hacks are there for putting together the parts you don’t have yet? Who can help fill in the blanks, or even do it for you? You certainly don’t have to do it all yourself. Can you benefit from a real estate partner or business coach or mentor, find partners, or just hire the help you need?

Get the Finances Right

It is definitely worth focusing in on finances. What have you got and what do you need? Can you get by with less? Where can you find more capital and credit if you really do need it, and what will you need to get it? Will you need a strong executive summary or pitch deck, or to improve your credit? Find out what it is you need and learn what you need to get it. However, be sure to look at all of your possibilities. There are several options available, many of which may not be a good fit. Your goal is to find the money that works best for your particular situation.

Formalize Your Plan

Take time to put it all together in some type of formal document. Consolidate the information, as to use it as a reference later on in your career. Even if you never plan to bring in a partner, get a business loan, or raise funding, a formalized business plan is critical as a guide and compass to success. Make sure to include a timeline for putting all of the steps into action.

Get Organized

Know what you need to do, and where you want to go. Start getting organized and laying the foundation and framework for your real estate success. This will probably involve incorporating or forming some type of legal entity, opening business bank accounts, registering internet domain names and social media handles. There is much more that warrants your attention, but the point is to get organized and understand what it is you need and when you need it.

Recruit & Spread the Word

When you are finally organized, it’s time to start recruiting the help you need (if you haven’t already). Put your team in place, even if this just means identify the best freelancers and outsourced workers to assist you and putting them on standby. Get the word out to everyone you know and come into contact with so that you can hit the ground running. Odds are: your first deals will come from your immediate sphere of influence.

Commit & Step Out

Now you are ready to rock. Mentally commit to sticking with it, working the plan, and launch. This should be the easy part. For some, it is where stalling is most likely to occur. If you don’t get started, you aren’t going to make it to your goals.

Take time to put it all together in some type of formal document. Consolidate the information, as to use it as a reference later on in your career. Even if you never plan to bring in a partner, get a business loan, or raise funding, a formalized business plan is critical as a guide and compass to success. Make sure to include a timeline for putting all of the steps into action.

Get Organized

Know what you need to do, and where you want to go. Start getting organized and laying the foundation and framework for your real estate success. This will probably involve incorporating or forming some type of legal entity, opening business bank accounts, registering internet domain names and social media handles. There is much more that warrants your attention, but the point is to get organized and understand what it is you need and when you need it.

Recruit & Spread the Word

When you are finally organized, it’s time to start recruiting the help you need (if you haven’t already). Put your team in place, even if this just means identify the best freelancers and outsourced workers to assist you and putting them on standby. Get the word out to everyone you know and come into contact with so that you can hit the ground running. Odds are: your first deals will come from your immediate sphere of influence.

Commit & Step Out

Now you are ready to rock. Mentally commit to sticking with it, working the plan, and launch. This should be the easy part. For some, it is where stalling is most likely to occur. If you don’t get started, you aren’t going to make it to your goals.

5 Benefits Of Working With A Property Manager

No two real estate investors are the same. Even if you invest in the same market and look at the same properties you and a fellow investor may differ on how to run your business. One area that is often debated is whether to work with a property manager. Most real estate investors recognize the importance of having a professional manage their rental properties. Where the debate starts is whether the return matches the monthly fees. Almost any investor can handle the tasks of a property manager. What they should give up getting this done is the tricky part. A property manager can quickly handle a task that would take you hours to finish. Not only that but they are often one step ahead of everything you need to complete with the property. If you are not sure if a property manager makes sense here are five benefits of working with a property manager.

  • Total Property Management. A good property management company handles almost every aspect of a rental property. When most investors consider a property manager they think of them handling only one or two aspects of the property. A good property manager is experienced and knowledgeable enough to take care of everything from tenant screening to securing the best local plumber. They are on top of rent collection and can even offer advice if you need to evict a bad tenant. For a set monthly fee or a percentage of the rents received they should help put your mind at ease knowing you do not have to worry about anything with the property. Many investors appreciate the peace of mind this brings and are willing to pay whatever the monthly cost is.
  • Free Time. There is a big difference with handling one lone rental property and trying to juggle six of them. As any investor can tell you with the wrong rental one property can be a handful. If you have three or four properties that constantly need your attention you don’t have much free time to focus on other aspects of your business. You will be forced to deal with small issues daily with one of your properties. The minute you think you are out of the woods something else pops up that requires your attention. A professional property manager takes care of all these minor items that can eat away at your day. You don’t have to worry about the constant tenant phone calls that take attention from the task at hand. With increased free time you can find more deals or focus on areas in your business that may be lacking. It is not hyperbole to say that you truly can’t put a price on the free time that a property manager creates.
  • Tenant Generation. Most issues that pop up during a lease may be an inconvenience but are usually fairly cut and dry to deal with. If the furnace needs to be replaced there are only so many options. Where bigger issues arise are at the beginning and end of the lease. Everything starts with finding the right tenants. It is not enough to hand over the keys to the first tenant that shows interest in your rental property. Without good tenants, even the best landlords will struggle. What a property manager will do is make sure only the most qualified tenants are open for consideration. They will not only find tenants but take the necessary step of screening them to make sure they are exactly what you are looking for. Even if your property is in a high demand area finding tenants is not as easy as you may think. You still need to promote your property and generate as many interested tenants as possible. A property manager will take all the legwork out of finding and screening tenants and leave you to choose among only the best candidates that will ensure a timely monthly payment.
  • Pricing. One of the misconceptions of property management is that they pay for any services needed during the lease. While they might pay for the services it is not included in their monthly fee. You are still on the hook for payment to the plumber, electrician, locksmith or anyone else that works on the property. Where a property manager is beneficial is in getting the best price for this work. Most managers have spent years in the business building contacts they can call whenever something needs to get done. These contacts can equal savings to you. Instead of calling the first plumber you your property manager has someone on speed dial that won’t take advantage of your situation. Saving a hundred dollars here and there may not seem like much but will equal real savings over time.
  • Expense Transparency. It is important that you know where every dollar goes with your rental property. Even if you think you are on top of your expenses a property manager will dig a little deeper. They will provide a detailed outline of all your monthly expenses. For some landlords, this can be an eye-opening exercise. They may not realize they are paying so much for lawn care, cable or anything else associated with the property. The more you know about your expenses the easier it is to attack them.

There are certain expenses in business that may sting in the short term but make sense in the long run. Property management is one of these expenses. Even if you don’t think you need it you should always consider working with a property manager.

 

How To Avoid Being Priced Out Of Your Neighborhood

Millions of Americans are being priced out of their neighborhoods. Investing in real estate might be their only hope to turn things around.

Across the U.S., residents aren’t being priced out of their favorite neighborhoods, or the areas they have grown up in. They are being priced out of entire cities for that matter. Investing in real estate is rapidly becoming the only hope many have of holding on to their lives, heritages, and giving their families a fighting chance in the future.

The media normally loves controversy and sensational stories, but there is one thing they might not be making enough noise about: how tough the affordable housing crisis is becoming. We’ve heard that it has become half as cheap to buy a home than to rent. Zillow has reported that in some neighborhoods workers need to earn a minimum wage of over $100 an hour to afford a mediocre apartment (while no one wants to pay $15 an hour). We’ve seen data published showing rents going up by double digits in some areas. It’s hardly a secret that home prices have been marching upwards fast. Yet, not even these reports show how tough it is in some places. We are not even talking about Manhattan, Fisher Island, LA, or San Francisco.

In Bonita Springs, Florida, rents have more than doubled in some neighborhoods in that last couple of years alone.Landlords are favoring seasonal vacation renters who are happy to pay $2,500 or more a month on units that used to be leased to local annual tenants for just $800 per month. As of June 2015, there were maybe 3 real estate listings on the MLS for less than $200,000. That includes one listing for $199,000, one pending sale, and one Fannie Mae foreclosure. If you can’t afford $2,500 per month in rent, or to purchase a $200,000 home – you won’t be living in this city. At least not for long.

The media has been quick to pounce on new government initiatives to create more equality and demand access to all price ranges of housing throughout America. However, that is a big battle, and a long one. One with a lot of opposition. Even where there are rent controls and affordable housing subsidies, it is clear that there isn’t nearly enough.

Your Two Options

When you get into a financial bind like this, you have two options:

Decrease your expenses
Increase your income
Renters and current homeowners that face escalating expenses can move to cut their bills. They can move to more rural areas where housing is cheaper. Of course, this often means moving away from family, friends, schools, and jobs. Not everyone can handle that.

Other bills and expenses can be cut too. Car payments, credit card bills, eating out, groceries, clothes, etc. Again, these can only be cut so much. You’ve got to have clothes, food, and a way to get to work. Life isn’t much fun if you can’t enjoy it sometimes.

Once you’ve slashed your bills as low as you can go; you can only keep up, or get ahead by increasing your income. Most instinctively try to tackle this by working longer hours and taking on multiple jobs. That can take a big toll in many ways: physical health, stress, and relationships. There are obviously only so many hours a day. Even if you make $35 per hour, when you add in utilities, you’ll still be working around 2 weeks of the month, or paying half your income to rent a $2,000 a month apartment. That’s before you pay all your taxes.

Investing in Real Estate to Get Ahead

Buying your own home is a great way to cut your expenses. Many will find that today’s low interest rates mean that they can actually own a home for less than they were paying in rent. They’ll be building up wealth, and eventually get rid of those payments forever.

To solve the income problem, individuals can invest in income producing real estate. Mobile homes, apartments, single-family homes, and even parking lots can all produce income. Those in high priced areas can invest further afield where properties are cheap, and can produce positive cash flow.

This income than can then be used to help buy a home where you really want to live, or if you love renting, to offset your high rental payments. There are even hybrid options like buying small multifamily properties, which can provide both a home, and income, while building wealth at the same time.

4 Financial Exercises Every Investor Should Add To Their Daily Routine

We live in a day and age where being health conscious is in. All you need to do is turn on your TV for twenty minutes and you will find a commercial about eating better or exercising more. As great as being physically healthy is as a real estate investor you also need to focus on your financial health. It is not enough to simply generate revenue. If your money is going out just as quickly as it comes in all your hard work is essentially for naught. Just like with physical exercise you don’t need to spend hours a day to get results. As long as you are consistent and make small strides every day you will slowly start to see an impact. This will spur you to do more and eventually help achieve peak financial health. Here are four quick exercises every investor can do to improve their financial health.

Evaluate Expenses. Do you know where your money goes every month? As a real estate investor, you need to juggle your personal finances as well as your business expenses. There are times when you simply send a payment in without really knowing what it is for or what it entails. The first financial exercise you should do is an evaluation of your expenses. Start with an unofficial audit of your business. Not only should you list every dollar that goes out in a three-month span but you should take a minute to break down what you are getting from it. Is your lawn care professional providing the service that you expect? Are you getting everything you want from your property manager? If there is any doubt you should take some time to make sure you are comfortable with the expenses. It is important to also balance out your personal expenses as well. It is not uncommon to shave off literally hundreds of dollars of expenses every month by looking at your cable & phone bills, monthly memberships and everyday spending. The money going out has a direct impact on your monthly bottom line.

Loan Balances. As you evaluate your expenses you should make specific note of your loan balances. These can be anything from mortgage repayments to credit cards. These expenses are often the ones that have the biggest impact on your monthly payments. If your loan balance has a fixed rate you should see if refinancing is something that makes sense. If you have an adjustable rate, such as a home equity line of credit, you can evaluate if converting to a fixed option is something that can save money long term. With any revolving credit such as credit cards there are a handful of ways to save money. The first is by looking at zero interest transfer options. If you have opened a credit card in the last few months you probably receive new credit cards in the mail daily. Instead of blindly throwing these away you should save the ones with zero interest. Paying on a zero interest or a low interest rate card can offer a significant monthly savings as well as expedite how quickly you can pay the card off. Don’t accept your monthly loan repayments without exploring all your options.

Look At Your Credit Report. You should know your credit score and what is on your credit report at all times. Your credit score is the single most important factor in obtaining credit. Without a strong score you will be forced to accept a higher interest rate or may not get the approval you expect. Knowing what is on your credit report is easier than ever. There are literally dozens of places you can obtain a copy either for free or as coupled with another service. Not only will you know your score but you will get the jump on removing any erroneous items. These items can sink your credit score every month they are not removed. You never know when you will need credit to take care of an unexpected business expense. Without a strong credit score you will be forced to scramble and overpay to take care of these items.

Budget Your Spending. It is truly a great feeling closing a big real estate deal. The check you receive at closing is your reward for dealing with all the ups and downs over the past several weeks. As trying as the transaction may have been it doesn’t mean you should spend money foolishly. If you aren’t careful with your spending you will be left to wonder where all your money went. As difficult as this may be you need to make a strict monthly spending budget. This takes some sacrifice and discipline but is best for your business until you really hit your stride. Even when you get to the point where you have multiple streams of income you still need to watch your spending. You should think about what you are getting from every expense you make. If you cannot validate the expense you should stop and reconsider. By having an allocation of money, you can spend every month it forces you to make good decisions. Most people don’t like following a budget but it can be the best thing you can do for your business.

The more you think about your finances the easier it is to adjust. With a little bit of financial exercise, you will be financially fit in no time.

Do Calgary Renters Need Home Inspections Too?

Should renters get home inspections before signing a lease?

Home inspections are the norm for buyers of all types of properties, but they are virtually never heard of for renters.  Is that a big mistake? Is asking for a home inspection before signing a lease just being a pain, or is it smart for more renters to demand inspections before even considering handing over a dollar?

Why You Want A Home Inspection As A Renter

Most renters never think of it, but there are many reasons to get an inspection. Generally, buyers require one because they know they’ll be the ones paying for any major repairs after they close the deal. This is seldom true for renters, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be the rare landlord who tries to put the blame of a malfunction or damage onto an innocent tenant.

Another reason renters should consider an inspection is because they often fork over big deposits and legally obligate themselves for the term of the lease. This can be risky, even after moving out, if maintenance issues persist.  Few have the cash to be paying rent for two places if they are only using one, and few landlords will be forgiving enough to let you out of the lease and not pursue you for the balance in court.

Equally important are the potential health issues involved if you decide against an inspection. You don’t want your family living in a toxic home or apartment. Unfortunately, there has been some chaos in the real estate market over the last decade where many landlords are not aware of a property’s existing problems. As the prospective tenant, it is on you to do your homework.

Can I Get A Home Inspection As A Renter?

It may not be common, but there is no reason a prospective renter cannot order a home inspection for themselves. You will need your landlord’s permission and access to the property, but accessing this should not be a problem. Home inspections generally cost a couple hundred dollars or less, and are well worth the investment. An alternative option may be to request a copy of a recent inspection from the landlord. Your landlord should have one if they just purchased the property.

What Do Home Inspectors Look At?

Home inspectors are extremely thorough.  They will examine everything from the exterior, to pest control and the foundations. They will make sure the roof, wiring, and plumbing are all in working order. Don’t panic if they are overly detailed, It’s their job. You just need to worry about the items that might affect you while you are living there.  Make sure to document the final status of the property as well, in case of a dispute later on.

Some important items that don’t typically appear on an inspection include: the presence of mold, meth labs, and Chinese drywall.  These are extremely poisonous and potentially fatal, yet there may be no visible clues at all.

What if My Landlord Won’t Allow A Property Inspection?

Because this is a somewhat infrequent request, your landlord could be wary. Reassure them why you are doing it. If they still refuse, you should seriously question going through with the rental process.

What Else Should Savvy Renters Check?

It can be a minefield in the renters world today, which is why smart renters need to complete as much of their due diligence as possible. This includes checking into the solvency of the owner and manager. Are they paying the mortgage, taxes, and maintenance, or are they at risk of falling into foreclosure? What about any associations involved? Is the condo or homeowners association solvent? Do they have enough operating capital and reserves to keep up the services and maintenance you expect? Much of this information can be found in public records if they won’t provide it to you directly.

Also, ask about the owner or property management company’s reputation.  Are they tough, fair, good, crazy? Why did the last occupants vacate?  This gives you a chance to meet some of your prospective neighbors and feel them out.

Quick Notes For Rental Property Buyers

Home inspections are clearly important, even for renters. Regardless of brand new construction, never rely on looks alone. If the seller wont allow your inspection, insist. Confirm your right to purchase as-is with right to inspect, or know when the risk is too high and walk away.

 

7 Ways To Give Your Investing Business Credibility in Calgary

People like to work with people they are comfortable with. Someone may offer a better price but if they aren’t comfortable with the individual or company they will most likely pass. As a real estate investor, your reputation is one of the most important assets you have. If a real estate agent, contractor or attorney can research your information and instantly feel comfortable with you they will most likely want to work with you. Building credibility in your market is something you should focus on every day. You never know when someone is going to see or hear something that gets their attention. The more visible you are in your market the easier it is for someone to research you. If you are struggling getting your name out here are seven ways to give your business credibility.

REIA Meetings. The first step in building credibility is focusing on your local market. In most areas, there are monthly real estate investment association (REIA) meetings. These meetings will often attract anywhere from fifty to five hundred people depending on the keynote speaker and the market. As you work your way up to keynote speaker status you should plant your flag at every meeting. Start by introducing yourself to as many people as you can and exchanging business cards with everyone you meet. By showing up early and talking to people you will put yourself on their radar. Eventually when you close a deal together they will sing your praises to everyone they know.

Real Estate Blogs. It is no secret that people search the internet for practically everything. The next time you get a minute try typing your name in a search engine and see what comes up. What you will find is that everything you contributed online is there. One of the ways to build positive feedback and credibility is by contributing to real estate blogs. There are numerous real estate investing websites who are always looking for guest bloggers. You don’t need to be an expert writer to contribute to a blog. If you can write 350-500 words on a topic you have knowledge in and are passionate about you will be fine. With a few shares on social media you can get your name out to hundreds of people.
Radio Spots. There are many traditional ways of building credibility. For as many people that rely solely on the internet a large segment still leans on radio and newspaper for their information. In almost every market there are local radio stations dying to fill content. With a few calls you can probably find a program that is dedicated to real estate or finance and would welcome an expect in the studio. You may not get any direct business from a 15-minute radio spot but the next time someone sees in person or online they will recognize the name and want to work with you.

Social Media. Reputations can be make or broken based on what is seen on social media. It is important that you put your best foot forward at all times in every situation. If someone is critical of your business you can’t snap back at them with a negative comment. By taking the high road you can turn negative comments into a positive. As a general rule of thumb you should not say anything online that you wouldn’t say to someone in person. All it takes is one negative comment or reaction to change the way someone thinks of you.
eBook. There is something about putting your name in print. Just like with blogging if you have even the slightest writing ability you may be able to produce a topical eBook. With your eBook, you can not only showcase it on your website but you can also hand it out at networking meetings and promote it on social media. Your eBook doesn’t need to be overly lengthy as long as you have a good topic and is informative.

Sponsorships. It doesn’t cost much to sponsor a little league team but think of the people it reaches. For starters, you reach the twelve of so kids on your team. On top of that your business name will also be seen by every team they play not to mentioned recognition at opening day and end of year celebrations. It is not a stretch to say that you can easily reach hundreds of people in your immediate market. When you price it out you are looking at less than $1 per person. For the sheer cost alone it is worth it.

Business Website. On every business website there is a section for feedback and testimonials. Any positive feedback received should be prominent on your website and shared on as many social media platforms as possible. It is ok to ask for feedback from someone you worked with. Many people shy away from this but if the opportunity is there you should take it. Your business website is one of the firs things that is looked at. With positive testimonials on the home page reader will instantly think fondly of you.
The more people see and hear about you and your business the better chance you have of making a connection. Once you gain credibility have of your work is already done.

How To Sell Your Property On Your Own in Calgary

In the world of real estate, you often get what you pay for. As tempting as it may be to save some money and sell a property on your own you are typically better off leaving it in the hands of a professional. However, there are certain times when the projected profit is so small that you have no choice but to sell without a real estate agent. While this situation may not be ideal you still must make the best of it. Selling on your own can be frustrating and trying at times but if you take the right steps you will get your property sold. Here five tips if you need to sell your property on your own.

Create A Website. If you are selling your property you want to give prospective buyers as much information as possible. Instead of having your home on the MLS for the market to see you need to create a dedicated website. It is easier, and more affordable, than ever to publish a website exclusively about the property you are selling. The website can simply be named for the address of the property and provide pictures, descriptions or even a video tour. Not only does the website give buyers information on the property it should also answer any questions they have regarding size, room count and tax information. This will help save you time and help avoid fielding countless phone calls about the property. You can have a dedicated number set up with an automated voicemail directing people to your website. Whatever time you spend or money is costs, setting up the website for a property you are selling is an absolute must.

Social Media. There are many advantages of using a real estate agent. In addition to knowledge of the market and pricing the home right they also have a strong marketing arm. With nothing else but the MLS they will reach hundreds of real estate agents with one click of a button. When you are selling on your own you need to think of ways to get your property out there and generate interest. The most popular way of doing that today is through social media. Marketing on social media should be more than just putting a few blurbs about the property. Here is where the website you created will come in handy. Everything you do on social media should funnel the reader back to your website. You should start by posting on every social media forum you are on. Don’t be shy in asking your contacts if they would share the link and pass your information on to anyone they know that may be interested. You can also create a dedicated page on Facebook that you can post any announcements or information about the property on. It is also important that you post something every day. You never know when you are going to catch someone at just the right time. One post every now and then will not generate the interest you desire.

Marketing. In a perfect world, someone will see your post on social media and immediately want to make an offer. While this is a possibility you shouldn’t hold your breath. As great as social media can be it is just one of the many marketing platforms you should be using. Bandit signs can be a great way to drum up local interest in the property. Start by placing a few bandit signs on the subject property, at the top of the street and on any intersections leading into the property. Depending on the towns rules you may also be able to place your signs all over the town. You should also post the property on as many real estate websites as you can find. There are a handful of go to sites that prospective buyers and renters use to find real estate. Many of these sites are free and you can use the same pictures and descriptions for all of them. You should have a list of four or five different ways of marketing your property before you decide to list on your own.

Focus On Presentation. You never know when the next showing will generate an offer. It is important that you treat every showing like it will be the last one you have. This means that the presentation must be perfect every time. Little things like lighting, temperature and smell can impact a buyer’s perception of the property. You should also check on the curb appeal and see if the exterior needs to be improved between showings. Once the buyer is in the property you need to put on your salesperson hat and sell the property without overselling. Be ready to answer any questions they may have and never take any comments personally. You will most likely have many showings before you finally find the right buyer. Don’t let the process get you down.
Use An Attorney. Your purchase is too important not to use an attorney. Not using a real estate agent may save you a few dollars and help salvage some profitability. Not using an attorney can have significant legal consequences in the short and long term. Even if you think you know the contract all it takes is one oversight to put you behind the eight ball. For a few hundred dollars, your attorney will look at the offer line by line and make sure you know exactly what you are getting into. The legal arena is much different than real estate and if you don’t know what you are doing can get you in trouble.

Selling your own property is not recommended but if you must do it you might as well do it with everything you have.

Do I Really Need A Building Permit in Calgary?

What home improvements require building permits?

Which remodeling items do and don’t need to have permits? Why do permits even exist? How are many real estate investors sabotaging themselves by ignoring the importance of this piece of paper to their profits?

Home Remodeling Projects that Require Building Permits

Home improvement and renovation projects which often require permit approval include:

  • Aesthetic changes to the exterior
  • Structural changes
  • Demolition
  • Adding sheds and alternative structures
  • Finishing basements and attics
  • Moving or adding outlets or plumbing fixtures
  • New roofs
  • Converting garages
  • Additions to a home
  • Swimming pools
  • New electrical systems, including solar

Like real estate, all building codes and permit regulations are local. Each authority adopts its own codes. Some are completely customized, but most simply adopt variations of international standards. Exact codes may vary by state, county, and city.

Why Do Building Permits Exist?

The very first records of building codes date back almost 4,000 years. They were originally created to ensure safety for consumers, and ethics and quality of work among builders. This is still the basis for having building codes, and requiring builders, licensed contractors, and property owners to obtain approvals and live up to them. Some estimates put the average cost of obtaining a permit in the range of $400 and $1,400. Permits also alert taxing authorities to property improvements, and potential tax increase opportunities. So this certainly makes permitting a significant source of income for local government. At their various levels, building codes also preserve the look of communities, and control who can build what, what it can look like, and what materials can be used.

What Remodeling Projects May Not Need Permits?

Popular home improvements which often don’t require building permits include:

  • Painting the inside or outside of a home
  • New kitchen cabinets
  • Changing existing plumbing fixtures
  • Replacing water heaters and AC units
  • New fans and light switches
  • Installing basic alarm systems
  • New phone lines
  • Putting in new flooring
  • Screening existing covered outdoor spaces
  • Recoating driveways

It is important not to assume you won’t need a permit. Some authorities put a maximum dollar amount on improvements which can be made annually without a permit. Low end cosmetic remodels may not trip these limits. Luxury home remodels may go over these limits with just a few square feet of tile or new quartz countertops.

How to Get a Building Permit

Getting a building permit can be a pain. It can appear to add extra time and costs. It can also be easier and less painless than many homeowners and real estate investors expect.

The exact process will differ from area to area, but will generally include:

  • Obtaining the application online or in person at the building department
  • Submitting detailed plans
  • Paying the applicable fees in advance
  • Fulfilling any final inspections after work is completed

There are also third party permit services which can help expedite the process. Most contractors involved will also be happy to handle the permit process in order to gain your business.

The Dangers of Buying and Remodeling Properties without Permits

Work done without permits, when they are required, is illegal. Illegal improvements can be catastrophic for property owners. It doesn’t matter who did the work, the responsibility and liability is on the current owner.

The potential penalties include:

  • Code violations
  • Fines and daily interest penalties
  • Liens against your property
  • Inability to sell the property
  • Condemnation
  • Seizure by eminent domain
  • Inability to obtain financing, or withdrawal of loans made

Do not underestimate how severe these penalties can be. Some have faced liens of tens of thousands of dollars against their properties.

Building Permits & Real Estate Investing

Whenever building permits are required, real estate investors need to get them. It is just not worth the risk to forgo them. There may be appealing investment opportunities in properties with illegal garage conversions, and other unpermitted work. Experienced investors with good real estate attorneys may find hidden profits in these deals, but tread carefully.

Permits cost money, can take a month – or several – to obtain, and can trigger increased tax assessments and property taxes. For some investors who hope to fix and flip houses in less than a month, it may be necessary to avoid improvements which require permits. Those with the capital and tolerance for much longer hold times – or who plan to and lease them – may be able to find profits others have to pass on.

 

Building Vs. Rehabbing in Calgary: Which One Has The Upper Hand?

Is it now more profitable for real estate investors to be building units instead of rehabbing existing ones?

Many real estate investors are turning to the Internet to float their ideas of building houses instead of buying and rehabbing existing ones. So is this one of those genius moments where individuals are catching on, or are they missing out on some big issues and potential pitfalls?

To Build or To Rehab?

What would make some investors choose the prospect of building over rehabbing an existing property? Perhaps even more specifically, what is building new properties being contrasted with? Is it being compared with acquiring existing properties and renovating them to be used as rentals? Building new construction rentals has become popular with big name builders, but hedge funds prefer flipping houses, and financing rehabs. In some cases, it can certainly be cheaper to build on a vacant lot than to completely gut rehab some old homes. But that isn’t a rule that stays true across the board. There are many variables.

Before jumping into the construction game, it is also worth taking a look at all of the options on the table. You can wholesale worn out existing homes, and brand new construction if you really wanted to.

The Cost of Approach

When it appears that existing property prices exceed what it costs to build new ones, real estate investors get interested in construction. This is especially true when it appears that there is little existing inventory to pick from. Note that we do need more housing stock added to account for population growth and migration, but there are still mountains of distressed properties and loans in America to be taken advantage of. However, many real estate investors appear to be way off on their cost to build in terms of square footage. Remember that construction costs will keep on rising with the market and economy.

If you are seriously considering building, make sure that you are factoring in all costs, including: land acquisition, impact fees, inspections, utilities, etc. Note that the direct square foot cost to build is just a portion of the total costs. What about administrative, and sales costs? The NAHB (National Association of Home Builders) notes that the average builder profit in the U.S. in 2008 was in the negative digits.

Why Most Investors Don’t Build

Even where the spreads are great, and investors have an edge, many don’t build because of the cash requirements. While other types of mortgage lending have come bouncing back, construction loans virtually evaporated, and still need to be resurrected. In addition to land costs, there is the material, labor costs, marketing, commissions, and there are always overages. Don’t forget holding costs either. It often requires a substantial amount of cold hard cash to build houses. Others don’t have the patience for the extended timelines or unpredictability compared to existing homes. A good team can remodel a house in 30 days. It likely takes an average of 10 times that to build a home and get it sold, if not longer.

Don’t forget to think long-term. Will you still be able to compete when other builders are throwing up inferior homes and selling them cheap? What about competing for visibility, and on advertising costs? Remember, builders often have a lot of sweet heart deals with lenders, contractors, real estate firms, title companies, and so on. Plus, many have been holding lots for a long time, giving them a cost advantage even before pouring a foundation.

Building real estate can be very profitable. If it wasn’t, no one would do it. But do pay attention to whether the profit margins and timelines are really a match for your goals. Are they the best you can do? What about the match between your strengths and resources? If building, construction, architecture, and design is something you really love, and participating is more valuable to you than higher profit margins from flipping existing houses, do what you love. Just recognize the difference.

Hybrid Options

For those looking to find a way to enjoy the best of both worlds, there are construction REOs to be found at discounted prices. Those that are really trending towards new properties, but don’t want the time and hassle components, may find deals in buying from builders in bulk. There can be deals to be found by being the first in, or helping builders close out a development. What will you do?