Category Archives: Financial

Content Ideas for Ads and Brochures When Selling Your Home

Even in this hot real estate market, selling your home requires a bit of marketing effort. Ads and brochures are important and powerful tools. So, what do you put in you’re marketing materials?

Content

To the degree possible include key information in you’re ad or brochure. A classified ad will contain less than a poster, which will contain less than a brochure, which may contain less than an Internet listing, etc. The key, however, is to make sure each medium contains maximum information and minimum fluff.

In general, people want to know what type home is being offered (single family house, townhouse, condo, etc.), how many bedrooms and baths it has, its general location, and the price. Obviously, you also need to include contact information so potential buyers know how to reach you.

If you have the space, a good tactic is to describe the characteristics of the house that lead you to originally purchase it.

1. Was it the location?

2. A beautiful view?

3. Neighborhood charm?

4. A school district you were seeking out?

5. Lots of storage?

6. Garage spaces for 3 cars?

7. High ceilings?

8. The style of architecture?

9. Large entertainment areas?

10. A beautiful garden?

Don’t be shy. Mention the best features to set your home apart from others for sale.

A note of caution is called for here. When you mention your home’s best features, don’t overstate them. If your potential buyer’s first emotion on actually seeing your property is disappointment, there really isn’t much potential for a sale to that person. With that in mind, I wouldn’t refer to a house with a garden that backed to a small farm pond as “waterfront property,” nor would I call a small, city apartment with windows on an air shaft a “spacious city abode with sunny views.”

Photos

Include color photos of your home whenever possible. When selling real estate, a picture really can be worth a thousand words.

When taking your photos, take lots of them. Take them from typical angles and from unusual ones, too. Cameras often like odd angles. Photos that show three walls very often seem to reduce the size of the room visually. It is often better to show only two walls with the corner slightly, or very, off center. You may want to show the same room from more than one angle. One photo may include a wall of windows and another show a fireplace in the same room. Regardless of your approach, keep in mind the photographs will give a potential buyer the first impression of your home.

Obviously, marketing is one of the key factors in selling a home. If you are creative with yours, buyers will come.

Consider Alcudia and Pollenca for Your Dream Mallorca Property

There are many popular towns and villages around the island in which to buy Mallorca property. Many of them have a very individual appeal and so finding the best area to meet your exact requirements shouldn’t be too difficult – whether you want mountains, beach front or golf clubs you will find a Mallorca property perfect for you!

Alcudia is one such town which offers a little bit of everything. Situated in the north of the island, the Old Town is surrounded by the city walls which date back to the 13th century and much of this part is pedestrianised so you can enjoy a stroll around and relax in the many café’s and restaurants. From the port you can take a boat trip around parts of the island or catch a ferry to Menorca or even Barcelona.

Outside of the city you can enjoy the S’Albufera Natural Park, an important wetland; journey up into the nearby mountains, or visit ancient Roman ruins, whilst the beach at Alcudia is an impressive 6 miles long.

Although in the north of the island, Alcudia is still very accessible. The journey time from the airport is just 35 minutes which makes this a great town to buy a Mallorca property in. Golfers who like a challenge will be in their element as the golf course at Alcudia is rated ‘difficult’ and is very beautiful.

Like much of the island, Mallorca property in Alcudia doesn’t come cheap. A large penthouse apartment in the town will set you back in the region of €400,000 whilst houses are even more. In Port de Alcudia you’ll find a larger range of properties. This is a more touristy part and hence there are many more lower-end apartments available. You could buy a studio, for example, which would be perfect for holiday getaways, for less than €100,000.

Also in the north of the island, you’ll find the pretty town of Pollenca at the foot of the Serra de Tramuntana mountain chain. This is a traditional town which has an excellent market on Saturdays. If you’re looking for a more traditional Mallorca property this is a good town to consider. Just over 3 miles away is the excellent beach of Port de Pollenca. This is quieter than many of the popular beaches on the island although there are package holidays coming here, so it’s not completely empty!

Much of the older Mallorca property for sale in Pollenca is in the style of townhouses. Depending on condition and size you can expect to pay upwards of €400,000. A more modern 3 bedroom apartment will cost in excess of €250,000.

In Port de Pollenca you can get more for your money – a 2 bedroom apartment for under €200,000 for example, plus there is generally more property on the market here. There are also some very exclusive properties here too – seafront apartments, fincas and luxury villas for those with more to spend!

5 Myths about the Fitness Exercises

1. Sport is for professionals. This idea applies only in the case of performance sports. The native qualities required for professional sportsmen (speed, skills, specific height, etc.) can only be developed, they can’t be formed by training. As long as the aim of a regular person is not performance, almost all sports can be practiced for keeping the body in a good shape. It’s all about dosing the training you chose, so that the benefits are bigger than wear and tear. Even the sports considered tough can be practiced in a ‘soft’ way (tae-bo, mini-triathlon, jogging, etc.).

2. Training is tiring. This idea is true as long as it refers to consuming all your energy (muscular and hepatic glycogen), but it doesn’t mean that training gets you into that state of exhaustion which would slow down the process of recovery of the body. Even in performance sports, the purpose is to have rather effective than exhausting training, so that the body can get the stimulation necessary to qualitative progress from one training to the next.

Even more than in other sports, in fitness the sportsman is spared overexerting. However, the training must not become ineffective. People can come to the gym tired after a work day and leave relaxed (physically and psychologically) and not more tired. This is extremely useful for people with sedentary jobs, but also for those who make physical effort at work. They could use the training by choosing a type of effort meant to compensate the one involved in their job.

3. Training takes too long. Again, this idea is true if applied to performance, which can only be obtained by working a lot. But also in this case short and very intense training or training for relaxation and recovery are often performed. In fitness, you can get to 20-minute training, working only super-series of fast exercises, which could involve, directly or indirectly, all the muscles. Anyway, regular training shouldn’t take longer than an hour and a half. Otherwise, the body will get into the catabolic faze, when the cortisone secretions ‘cannibalize’ the muscles.

4. Any type of exercise is good for solving your problems. What’s true in this refers to some particular cases like excess of adipose tissue. This tissue can be ‘melted’ by any kind of aerobic exercise (running, cycling, swimming) if this is continued long enough. Even in these cases it was clear that some exercises are more effective than others. There are situations when only a combination of exercises with a certain amount of each, can provide you with the results you expect. More than that, repeating the same exercise all the time can have as a consequence not only losing balance in the antagonist muscles and in the joints involved in training, but also stopping progress or even regressing.

5. You’re older? No more exercises! This is true only if we refer to extremely demanding efforts (really heavy weights, fast running, jumping, etc.). There are lots of exercises adapted to different ages. Their purpose is to keep and improve health and also to improve physical shape. The development of movement parameters for older people refers especially to muscular and cardio-vascular resistance as well as mobility of the joints. Because the final purpose of training is not preparing for a competition, the exercises can be organized gradually according to their difficulty, eliminating the risk of accidents. Because it’s based on perseverance, fitness can be adapted without problems for older people and even for people suffering from different affections specific to old age.

Buy Investment Property Without Seeing It

Why would you buy investment property without seeing it? It’s a numbers game. Whether or not you see the property before you make an offer isn’t nearly as important as making sure the numbers make sense.

A man in California used to just send out offers on a hundred MLS listings at a time, offering 25% less than the asking price on each one. Occasionally a few sellers would accept his offers. He never had to look at the homes beforehand. Including an “inspection and approval” clause in the offer meant he could always back out of the deal later when he saw the house. Meanwhile, he efficiently found the truly motivated sellers.

This true story demonstrates that with a good clause or two in the contract, you don’t have to worry about making an offer before you see a property. It’s true when you buy investment property or your next home. When it isn’t everything the seller says it is, you can reject the deal with little or no loss. So why wouldn’t you want to look at the property?

Buy Investment Property By Numbers

The main reason you might skip looking at a property before making an offer is time. This is certainly true if the property is far away. If you don’t get a price that makes sense, why spend your time traveling to look at real estate investments? A price and terms that make sense – this is what is important. Of course you’ll probably want to look at the actual property eventually, but looking at the numbers is how you invest.

Investors value income property according to current cash flow (or should if they want safe and viable investments), so start by verifying income. Get the actual income figures for the past 12 months. Always consider the potential income if rents are raised, vending machines are added, etc., but base your offer on the current income.

Verify all expenses with investment properties. If any expenses listed by the seller seem unusually low, they most likely are. Just substitute your own best guess in place of any suspicious numbers.

After you determine the net operating income, apply the appropriate capitalization rate to arrive at the value. If you’re not sure how to do this, get help. However, you really should understand the principle of how to figure a cap rate. This is a numbers game you’re playing.
Calculate loan payments (talk to your banker), and see how much cash flow you’ll have. Then you can figure your cash-on-cash return based on how much of your own money you put into the deal. Just divide the cash flow by your investment.

When the numbers work, you can safely make an offer. Inspections will tell you if there are problems that will affect the cash flow. You can always renegotiate if there are such problems (assuming you made your approval of all inspections a contingency of the offer). Of course, you can even go take a look now that you are truly ready to buy that investment property.

Contracts When Selling Your Home Without An Agent

A recent survey revealed that approximately 30 percent of homeowners intend to sell without a real estate agent. I bet more would if they didn’t fear the contract side of the process.

Contracts When Selling Your Home Without An Agent

It is undisputed that you can save tens of thousands of dollars by selling your home without an agent. Typical commission fees charged by an agent equal six percent of the sales price. On a $300,000 home, the fee of the real estate agent equates to $18,000 dollars. That is a lot of money you are leaving on the table.

If a seller can save so much money by foregoing an agent, why don’t more people do it? Simply put, they are scared of the process. In particular, real estate contracts can be a scary issue for most homebuyers. How do you know if you are doing it correctly? What if you don’t? Will you lose the home? Will there be lawsuits? Frankly, most people have nightmares about the idea of dealing with these issues. This need not be.

First off, most real estate agents do not know anything more than you do about contracts. They are in the business of selling real estate, not being legal experts. Moreover, most real estate contracts are of the pre-printed form variety. All and all, you need not be overly concerned with this issue. Of course, it isn’t my property.

There is a very simple way to get around the stress associated with dealing with real estate contracts and documents. The answer is found in the legal field. Specifically, you can hire a real estate lawyer to handle everything. You will get a legal professional that is one your side and who knows the details of the real estate process inside out. Frankly, they are a heck of a lot more competent than real estate agents when it comes to the transaction.

Ah, but isn’t it true that attorneys are incredibly expensive? Well, yes. In this case, however, they are much less expensive than paying a six percent commission to a real estate agent. Keep in mind our example above where we are paying a realtor $18,000 in commissions. Most attorneys charge in the $200 an hour range. If it takes 20 hours to handle the transaction, which is probably on the high end, you are looking at $4,000 in legal fees. In practical terms, you get much better advice and save $14,000 on commissions. In such a scenario, hiring legal counsel absolutely makes sense. Frankly, I am surprised more people do not do so.

The biggest barrier to selling a home by owner is often the fear of contract documents. Follow the above advice and you should have no problems.

Build A New House Or Buy An Existing One

I am living in living in the fourth house I have purchased during my 23 years of home ownership. To some that may seem like a lot of houses, to others it may seem like I’ve just started. The simple fact is we Americans move a lot… 11 or 12 times in a lifetime depending on whom you consult. Chances are you are going to purchase a house during quite a few of those moves and somewhere along the line you may have the opportunity to build a new home.

Should you?

Everyone has fantasized at some point about his or her dream house. You may want closets big enough to live in; a bathroom that doubles as a spa; a kitchen in which you could produce programs for the Food Network But, as in most fantasies, there is usually some epic journey required to achieve the goal. And building your dream house follows that plot line all too closely.

But isn’t it the dream that makes the quest worthwhile? Yes, if you can weather the storms and battles along the way. And the determination to keep moving forward is usually a function of a strong will and a big heart. But it helps to use your head before you set off on your personal version of “The Lord of the Rings.”

It is likely that you have options when you begin the process of buying a home. There may be existing homes in the area that are affordable and that meet your needs. But there are always things about any property or house that don’t exactly meet with your approval. The basement may not be finished or the yard may be too small or the interior décor may have to be entirely redone. It is virtually impossible to buy an existing home without making compromises.

Building new allows you to imagine, design and build the home that accommodates needs and amenities that are important to you… within a budget of course. And that is one thing that must be considered. A new home will be more expensive, on a cost per foot basis, than an existing one. That is due to the cost of land, the price of building materials and labor expense. You might also find that taxes are high as a new area is developed and the municipal authorities factor in the required infrastructure for a growing population and the need for services like education, law enforcement and recreation. You may find yourself subsidizing some of these costs as an area develops.

The ongoing costs associated with an existing house are more predictable. However, there will likely be more maintenance expense than for a new house and energy costs tend to be higher with older properties because newer homes are more energy efficient.

Commuting costs may be an issue. Developers must go further and further out to find enough land to accommodate a new subdivision. That may mean higher costs for commuting to work and to access other businesses and venues that may be closer to the nearest major population center. You should consider this from both a monetary perspective and to determine if you are comfortable with an additional investment of time.

If your new house is built in a subdivision there may be ongoing fees required. In addition, there may be covenants that are designed to protect property values that may apply serious restrictions on your ability to enhance your home and/or your property down the road.

A new home needs new landscaping. This may be included in the price of the home but there will likely be a limit to what is covered under the agreement. To landscape the property in a way that is truly satisfying may require an additional outlay.

Beware of construction delays! Building contractors are notorious for setting deadlines they miss and making promises they can’t keep. Make sure you do some thorough research about the builder and his track record before you commit. Weather is always unpredictable and may have an effect but that should be factored in from the start.

A new subdivision can be a hornet’s nest of building activity. If you move into your home early in the process be prepared for hammering, sawing, trucks, mud and general chaos for quite a while as the subdivision progresses. This is a lifestyle issue and is a temporary inconvenience. But some have found this level of activity disconcerting and disruptive especially when they are settling into their “dream home” and trying to savor the experience.

If you build new be prepared to stay for a while. With new construction all around you it would be difficult to compete with the rest of the properties available for others who want to build a house from the ground up. You would have to make it worth their while and that usually means a compromise in price.

All this being said (and trust me there is more that could be said) there is nothing quite as satisfying as showcasing the house to family and friends that you designed and built and that reflects your unique vision and personality. If you survive the journey, you will likely have turned your fantasy into reality.

Deciding on a Price for Your Home

When it comes time to put your house on the market, pricing can make or break your sale. If you overprice your home, you risk watching it languish on the market, but under-pricing it means minimizing your investment. The starting point for pricing should be based on recent sales in the neighborhood, not on personal attachment. Regardless of what you think your home is worth, the pricing should be based on market value – this is why it’s important to find a good real estate agent who is familiar with the area. He or she will start by looking at what other comparable houses in your area have sold for. This is called a comparative market analysis (CMA).

Another important consideration is the market. To be safe you want to allow yourself enough wiggle room to come down in negotiations, but if it’s a buyers’ market you will have to do more to make your home stand out. Pricing your home below the competition should ensure multiple offers, thus driving up the selling price. Other tactics include being flexible around financing options and offering incentives. In any case, you want to price your home low enough that you will get traffic through – the first three weeks are important. If the house sits longer than three weeks perspective buyers may assume something’s wrong with it.

In a seller’s market it’s safe to add 10 per cent to the last comparable sale in your neighborhood and in a balanced market you may aim to add an amount based on the last comparable sale plus the average market increase calculated over the time since that sale.

Remember, pricing your house is as much an art as it is a science. In the end the price is important, but marketing and staging your home plays a vital role as well. A good realtor can guide you through this process and help you get the best price for your house.

Creative Financing – Ten Ways

Do all the creative financing techniques you hear about really work? Yes, actually. They probably have all worked somewhere for someone at least once. The point isn’t if they will all work for you. The point is to know what is possible, so you can find your own creative ways to invest in real estate. Here are ten methods to get you thinking.

1. Hard money lenders. You can ask around or find these online. They specialize in short-term loans at high interest. You typically use this type of financing for a “fix and flip.” You can often get the money fast, and if you make $30,000 on a project, who cares if you paid $10,000 interest in six months.

2. No-doc and low-doc loans. No (or low) documentation of your income or credit required. Again, you can find banks that do these online now. The catch is that you will only be able to borrow up to 80% of the purchase price or property value. If you have 10% in cash, you might be able to borrow the other 10% from a friend or the seller.

3. Seller-carried second mortgages. Sometimes a bank will loan you 90%, and allow the seller to take back a second mortgage from you for 5%, leaving you needing only 5% for a downpayment.

4. Land contract. Called “contract for sale” or other names as well, this just means the seller lets you make payments, and delivers the title upon payment in full. I sold a rental this way for $1,000 down, because I wanted the 9% interest, and the higher price I got this way.

5. Credit cards. If a seller will take $10,000 down on a fixer-upper that you expect to make $20,000 on, why not use credit cards? This is a true 0-down deal for you, and if you turn the project in six months, you will have paid $900 in interest on an 18% credit card. Don’t let $900 get in the way of making $20,000.

6. Retirement accounts. The laws get pretty complex in this area, but you can check with a tax attorney to see how you might borrow from your own retirement account to finance real estate investments.

7. Friends and family. Keep it all business, if you use this source, but loaning you money at 7% isn’t a gift if their money is getting 2% in the bank.

8. Note buyers. The seller needs cash. He raises the price, and sells to you for $100,000 with no money down, taking back two mortgages from you for $90,000 and $10,000. He arranged (or you did) for a note buyer to pay him $80,000 cash for the first mortgage at closing, getting him the cash he wanted. You pay two payments now, one to each note holder.

9. Get a loan on other property. Interestingly, if you take out a home equity loan for a vacation, and then forget to use it for that, you can use it for the downpayment on an investment property, without violating the rules of the bank that gives you the primary mortgage. In other words, you got in with no cash of your own.

10. Partnerships. For bigger projects, you could arrange for five investors to each put money into a partnership, with your share being the management responsibility instead of cash.

Descriptive Terms in Real Estate Ads – Even More Definitions

If you are buying or selling a home, the chances are good you struggle with the meaning of descriptive real estate terms. Here are explanations and definitions for more terms.

“Living Room” & “Family Room”

When a home has both a living room and a family room, we know which is which. It used to be that when an ad mentioned a family room, we could assume it also had a living room. Now some builders are building houses with something akin to the first use of “Great Room” above and calling it the “Family Room” on the floor plan. Thus houses and their terminology seem to be evolving. I suppose in the new builder speak we should just think of the room as an informal family living room.

“Patio” & “Terrace”

Both are outdoor living areas paved with something like slate or brick. A patio is level with the ground around it. A terrace has adjoining areas of ground which are higher, or lower, or perhaps both.

“Solarium,” “Sun Room,” “Florida Room”

These terms are used to describe rooms with lots of windows (often on three sides). Many times these areas also have skylights. The choice of what to call them seems purely personal. They tend to be charming, bright, sunny places in which to over winter plants and sit in the garden in chilly or downright cold weather.

“Jack and Jill Bath”

A bathroom with two doors into it. It is frequently situated between two bedrooms with doors to each. Sometimes the doors are into a bedroom and into a hallway.

“Waterfront” vs. “Water View”

Waterfront property actually has a common boundary with (frontage on) the water. Sometimes the property line actually goes into the water. Water view just means water can be seen from the property. Sometimes there is a beautiful view. Sometimes it means the water can be seen from one upstairs window when the leaves are off the trees! Also, many times a new structure might block the view at some time in the future unless there is a protective covenant or something to prevent it.

If you can get the verbiage down, you’ll be way ahead in the real estate game. Look for future articles on this subject or visit our site to read more terms.

Aerobic Pictures – The Truth About Their True Effectiveness!

I know how skeptical people typically are about motivational pictures. Everyone has seen and got fed up with that tripe posted on the partition walls of their cubicles – some stranger conquering an impossible mountain against the canvas of a magnificent sunrise with some stupid caption about “persistence”, or “excellence” under it, or some poor little kitten cutie struggling to hang on to the edge of a table with her babyish claws, beneath which is inscribed, invariably in corresponding bubbly cutesy letters, “hang on”.

Hey, you might not believe me when I tell you this. If I were a listener like you, I would probably not believe in it either. Nonetheless, I have an urge to tell you this simple yet rarely acknowledged fact that nothing inspires people quite as much as aerobic pictures to get fit and back in shape.

It is considered a sign of very low refinement even to put such thing up, let alone to confess to be motivated by them – unless you are a middle manager, in which case low refinement is considered more of a virtue than a vice. However, at least in the case of aerobic pictures, it is true. The right picture can really give people that extra push and get them moving.

Well, you think I am exaggerating. No not really. Seeing people sweating every day enables me to tell the gleam of sweat from the gleam of confidence. What I see here is definitely the gleam of confidence. They look at those aerobic pictures and stand up straighter, work that much harder, and I believe, go home feeling a whole lot better about themselves. Even the aerobic exercise classes seem to go better once the pictures are present.

I should know. I am a manager at the Skinny Booty Gym downtown, and I oversee various tasks including decorating the walls. It has given me plenty of time to observe people in their workouts, and the differences that those aerobic pictures make are surprising. Before I stick them up, many people seemed to be just painfully dragging on with their workouts, without hope of ever attaining any fitness goals. Since I put up the aerobic pictures, however, things have taken a dramatic turn. It is like the aerobic pictures lift everyone’s morale that makes them practically shine with confidence.

After seeing this effect on people, I have even taken down my other motivational posters and put up the aerobic pictures around my cubicle in the gym. Even when I am not doing any exercise, the pictures of fit, trim people doing their aerobics workouts seems to tell me I should put in a little bit more effort into whatever tasks I am attending to at the moment. There are many types of decorations which are more beautiful, more exciting, and flashier than aerobic pictures, but I have yet to find one that exerts a bigger positive influence on the work ethics. And isn’t that the most crucial thing of all?