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

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

• Get Up Early.

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

• 20 Minutes Of Learning Daily.

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

• Make Lists & Set Goals.

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

• Track Progress.

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

You ultimately control where you go in Life. Changing habits is never easy but is essential for growth. Start by incorporating these four habits into your daily life and see the difference it makes towards your success.

Real Estate Fraud

This is an activity that is purposely done to misrepresent information on real estate documents. It also involves the money transfers. It is also called mortgage fraud. The reason that it is referred to as this is that the fraud generally takes place with the mortgage application. Real estate fraud, in the United States, can have heavy penalties like imprisonment and large fines.

Such a crime can be committed in many different ways. It appears to happen more often when property prices are on the rise. Because of the simplicity of the fraud, some types are seen more than other frauds. Some are not as common because they are more complicated. One of the common forms of such fraud, according to the IRS is preparing two settlement statement sets that are different from each other. In one of the statements, the accurate property-selling price is written, which the buyer receives. The other one will depict a higher selling price that is exaggerated. When the mortgage lender approves the loan for the exaggerated price, the seller is given the amount that is stated in their copy of the settlement statement. The one who committed the fraudulent settlement statements will keep the money that is left over. If there are other conspirators, the money will be divided among them. It could be the entire excess money or a percentage of it.

Using qualification that are fraudulent is another type of real estate fraud. These fraudulent qualifications are used when applying for a mortgage or home loan to help them get the mortgage. In this form of real estate fraud, the real estate agent will usually assist the buyer. The fraudulent qualifications can include fabricating credit reports or history of employment. These two involve the obvious misrepresentation of data but not all real estate fraud is easy to see as these two examples. If buyers who do not intend to commit real estate fraud because they do not know the laws can accidentally commit mortgage fraud.

If a buyer has a down payment by using money that was given as a gift it is legal. If this gift is re-paid to the who gave the gift, this is considered a case of real estate fraud. The gift used to make a down payment cannot be repaid for it to be legal. Another type of property fraud is when the buyer accidentally fails to disclose any financial liabilities on their mortgage application. It becomes fraud when it is not taken care of before the loan is approved. Property flipping can become real estate fraud if you make false representations about the value and condition of the property when you sell it for a much higher price than you paid for the property.

Three Ways to Increase Property Values

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

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

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

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

Altadena Real Estate – A Look at the Numbers

The real estate market in Altadena, CA is red hot. Homes for sale in Altadena command high prices and never stay on the market very long. Why? Both realtors and residents will answer that by stating: Altadena is a very special place to live, work and relax.

Altadena is charming community located directly north of Pasadena at the base of the Angeles National Forest San Gabriel Mountains. Altadena is an unincorporated and 14 miles northeast from Downtown Los Angeles. This warm, Mediterranean climate has hot and dry summers that average highs of 91 degrees. The winters are essentially warm and windy with the lowest average temperature of 44 degrees. Altadena averages 21 inches of rainfall annually.

According to the 2010 U.S. Census – Altadena had a population of 42,777 people. With 8.71 square miles to share there were 4,909.6 people per square mile. This is average for Los Angeles County. The population was more diverse compared to other areas of the county with the dominate ethnicity being White at 52.8%, followed by 26.9% Latino, 23.7% Black, 5.4% Asian and 0.7% American Indian.

The population of Altadena is well educated in comparison to the rest of the county with 45.6% of residents aged 25 and up with a four year degree and 87.9% with a high school diploma. In regards to the male population: 57.8% were married, 32.9% had never been married, 7.1% had been divorced and 2.1% were widowed. The female population had53.9% who were married, 24.4% had never been married, 12.4% were divorced and 9.4% were widowed. The average age of Altadena was 37, which is an older average age compared to the rest of Los Angeles County. 9.8% of the people in population were veterans and 20.8% of residents were born in a foreign country. The average commute to work was 27.5 minutes. Altadena has a Walk Score of 48 out of 100 meaning that it is a car dependent city.

The average household size was 2.8 people, which was 9% higher than the national average. Approximately 74.6% of residents owned their homes. This was 10% higher than the national average. 25.4% of the population rented from a house, apartment or condominium. The 2010 Census declared there being 15,518 households with a median household income of $83,917. This is high compared to Los Angeles County.

Altadena real estate isn’t cheap, however. The median price of homes for sale in Altadena is $780,000. This is 226% higher than the national average. However, the average home value is $731,400. The price per square foot is $485. The current housing market “temperature” is neutral. Last year the home values increased by 8.1% and Zillow predicts they will rise only 1.9% within the next year. The average monthly rent is $2,921. This is 53% higher than the national average. The current housing market health is 6.9/10. This is healthy score given by Zillow in comparison to other housing markets across the country.

According to Area Vibes, Altadena has a livability score of 77 – extremely livable. This is higher than the national average of 70. This comfortable, safe community will continue to flourish and grow and produce beautiful homes by its affluent residents. If looking to buy or sell real estate in Altadena, make certain you perform your due diligence and find an experienced realtor who specializes in the area.

Shadow Inventory – What Is It and How to Find It

Many Investors have been asking me about shadow inventory how much is out there and how to get their hands on it. Shadow inventory usually refers to the supply of homes that has not yet hit the market, but “hiding” in the background. In Real Estate this refers to foreclosures (REO or bank owned properties) or those close to the process.

Banks and mortgage loan servicing companies typically hold onto properties that haven’t seen a mortgage payment for 90 days and in some cases even 2-3 years.

Why do they hold on so long?

Banks hold on since it allows them to release their inventory over time to keep their books in check and also to provide that easy liquidation to stimulate the real estate economy when necessary. Banks will now be getting more money for those newly released properties, then say 2 years ago, due to the steady increase in home prices and low inventory levels. If they chose to release all at once, it would flood the market with “distressed properties” and bring down property values.

How much “Shadow Inventory” is still out there?

Foreclosures have been steadily declining since 2013 with the highest shadow inventory then at 2.2MM. According to the National Association of Realtors, there is still about 4 years still on the books and it is possible that we could soon see more!

More “Shadow Inventory”? Why? (HAMP) Home Affordable Modification Program

In 2017 and beyond, many homeowners may find it difficult to make their mortgage payments due to “resets” with HAMP thus pushing them into foreclosure. The government’s Home Affordable Modification Program provided temporary relief to borrowers during the housing crisis. These reliefs ended after five years and now payments will be “reset” thus causing loan payment increases for nearly 900,000 homeowners. Some of those are likely to find it difficult to keep up with the payments in our current economy.

Where do Investors find “Shadow Inventory”?

Forget about calling the loss mitigation department or asking the cashier at your Big Bank. They won’t be able to help you. Instead, savvy real estate investors can approach the REO departments of smaller regional banks, credit unions and portfolio lenders to find out what could be “lurking” in the shadows. This presents an opportunity to beat out the competition and purchase at greater discounts.

But my favorite way to locate “Shadow Inventory” is what I call “Driving for Dollars”. Simply drive through areas that have high foreclosure activity and look for the white sticker posted on the front window or door of the house. This typically contains the information of the bank or asset manager of the property and their phone number. Give them a call and see where they are in the foreclosure process and if they’re ready to make a deal!

The NEW kind of “Shadow Inventory”!

There is a new kind of shadow inventory on the market these days and I’m not talking about the REO kind. Many successful agents have their own shadow inventory. If you’ve been in the business for an extended period and built up a clientele, these clients typically contact you well in advance of the property going on the market. You advise them of the steps needed to get the house ready to show which typically means doing repairs such as paint, carpet, landscaping, staging, etc. Therefore, there is a period of time before the property actually hits the market creating a different type of shadow inventory. Contacting your favorite realtor about this type of inventory can definitely increase your chances of finding that Dream home.

Happy House Hunting!

Echo Park Real Estate: A Look at the Numbers

From LA’s earliest days, people have wanted to live in the storied neighborhoods of NELA. In a densely populated area where residents are always in the process of coming and going, there are always homes for sale in Echo Park at any given time. Since the early 1920’s, the real estate here has been in demand and that is how it is today. Why? Let’s take a closer look and see what the numbers say.

This is an eclectic city located in Central Los Angeles about ten minutes from Downtown. At the center of the city is the renowned Echo Park Lake in Elysian Park, which is the site of special events like the Lotus Festival. It is northwest of Chinatown and Downtown, northeast of Westlake and south east of Silver Lake.

It is split in to four districts:

  • Angelino Heights – This area is known for the beautiful Victorian homes that are preserved by the city’s ordinances.
  • Elysian Heights – This area is historically known for being the home of famous counter-culture artists, filmmakers, architects and political radicals.
  • Historic Filipino town – This section is located in the southwest section.
  • Victor Heights – A lovely area scattered with Bungalows and Stucco homes that share breathtaking views of Los Angeles and the Civic Center.

Throughout the four districts, the most common types of homes are Bungalows, Cottages, Victorians and Stuccos. According to the 2000 U.S. Census there were 40,455 people in there. Spread over 2.4 square miles there were approximately 16,868 people per square mile. This makes Echo Park one of the highest density areas in Los Angeles County. The median household income was $37,708, which is low for Los Angeles County. The average household size was 3.0, which is average for the county.

This city has a high Walk Score of 83/100. This means that most errands can be accomplished on foot within the city. This city’s transit score is 62. This city has good transit and provides its residents with many public transportation options. These include the Metro Red and Metro Purple Line, numerous bus routes and ride sharing options from Relay Rides. This city received a bike score of 49 because of the steep hills and minimal bike lanes.

According to Zillow, the average home value in Echo Park is $795,100. This value has increased 14.4% since last year and Zillow estimates it will continue to rise 4.3% to $829,000 over the next year. The average price of homes that are currently listed is $742,450. The median list price per square foot is $618, which is higher than the Los Angeles average of $451. The average rental price is $2,967 a month. Zillow has given the Market Health a score of 8.2/10, which is very healthy in comparison to other markets across the country. This is based on a series of metrics including how fast the homes are selling compared to the past rate. Echo Park’s prime location and thrilling culture will be sure to keep the housing market rolling for many years to come.

REAL ESTATE: Something You Might Want to Know

Real estate means the property consisting of land or buildings which also includes the natural resources of the land including uncultivated flora and fauna, farmed crops and livestock, water and minerals, simply speaking any improvements on it. Tenants and leaseholders may have the right to occupy or make use of anything that is within the dominion of the rented area depending on the terms and conditions set by the landlords.

However when we hear the words “real estate”, we often refer it to the “real estate market” from the perspective of residential living. This is grouped into three categories based on its use. It’s either be residential which is used for living purposes, commercial as used in commerce and industrial which is used in manufacture or production of goods. Residential are those undeveloped land, houses, condominiums and town homes. Commercial are office buildings, warehouses and retails store buildings and examples of industrial are factories, mines and farms.

Those who are buying a home often need to borrow money in the form of mortgage because prices are generally well above their savings. They can either avail of fixed-rate or variable-rate.

Commercial leases are mostly longer that residential and lenders may ask for higher down payment on a mortgage for commercial than home loan since generally residential real estate is usually less expensive so it is more affordable for small investor

Generally, this is affected by the primary condition to where the property is located. Profits or losses come through revenue from rent and appreciation of the estate’s value. There is also risk of tenant turnover especially if the business model is in bad condition, product is unattractive, or poor management and many more. So landlords, lessees has to make sure all is well set before lending the area/place.

Real estate can help you earn more especially if you are in hand with generating leads and setting well the properties in case you are into selling or offering rentals. You have to make sure you will be working more of what you invested. Usually property appraisals are of good and or high value, you just need to work on it. You must always and consistently putting your client’s best interests first. With that, your personal needs will be realized beyond your greatest expectations. Investing in this even on small scale, was tried and tested as true means of building an individual’s cash flow.

Home Repairs and Alternatives: 5 Pros And Cons

Many homeowners, at a variety of points – of – time, decide to pursue certain repairs and/ alterations. Some are out of necessity, because of damage, and/ or wear – and – tear, while others, are for cosmetic, and/ or taste – related reasons! One should consider a variety of factors, before undergoing costly expenses/ expenditures. These include: how long you will be living in this house; your alternatives; the Return on Investment (R.O.I.), etc. This article will review 5 positives (pros) and/ or negatives (cons), related to home repairs and/ or alterations.

1. Cosmetic changes: This category includes items, which improve the appearance of the property, but usually are minor, in nature! For example, inside or outside painting might be cosmetic. If you are painting, simply to change the look, color, theme, etc, it falls into the category, but if it is necessitated, because of structural damage (for example, from water damage, etc), it’s a far different scenario! If you plan to keep the home, for a substantial period of time, you have far more flexibility, in terms of color, etc, than if you are planning to sell it in the foreseeable, near future!

2. Kitchen: Does your kitchen need remodeling and/ or renovation, for structural reasons, or to improve its look and appearance? How much you spend on remodeling your kitchen, must be put into perspective! A well – considered amount of spending, usually makes sense and has a reasonable Return on Investment (R.O.I.), but exorbitant spending is another thing. A homeowner can spend whatever he decides, but should have a somewhat, realistic perspective of its value, especially to prospective buyers.

3. Bathrooms: What is the reason, you wish to renovate/ upgrade your bathrooms? Compare the options and alternatives, including determining, if a system, such as Bath Fitters, makes sense, as opposed to a complete demolition and rebuilding! Again, upgrading bathrooms, might. either, make financial sense, or not!

4. HVAC: What is the condition of your heating, ventilating and air conditioning, system (HVAC)? What is the useful life of your heating system, and should you change it (for example, converting from oil to gas)? Consider any decisions related to conversions, carefully and thoroughly. If you wish to put a central air conditioning system, into the house, should you go, the convention route, or the ductless one? Consider costs, economies, space – sacrifices, and the positives, versus the negatives! Before acting, always get several bids, and compare apples – to – apples!

5. Grounds maintenance: How much money, should you commit to grounds maintenance, landscaping, trees, bushes, plants, flowers, etc? Those thinking of selling, in the near future, should focus on curb appeal, etc!

Homeowners have options, in terms of the best way to proceed, for home repairs and alternatives. Know what you need, and want, and thoroughly consider!

Affordable Housing for the Middle Class

“What does affordable housing in Gurgaon, with its high-lifestyle, urbanization, and posh-societies look like?” You may think, given that Residential Flats varies in its meaning for different demographic profiles. Especially in the Indian real estate market, affordable housing has a connotation for housing for the lower income group (LIG), by which they too can enjoy a comfortable living and security. With the incumbent government’s focus on this section and more on the affordable housing, it seems like the real estate sector has been able to get the boost that it had been waiting for of late.

However, there is an important trend that needs to be taken note of before the government claims that its affordable housing project is a success. The term affordable housing, in different contexts, also has a local meaning. According to this, affordable housing includes housing options for a segment of population that can become potential home buyers in a city. If we take this definition into consideration, there is a sizeable population in every city, which although it will not identify with or fall under the LIG, is equally incapable of allotting a large budget for buying homes. It is not only sensitive and cost-wary but is looking forward to finding a house of a decent budget-size within the realms of the city. A typical example is of the residential flats in Gurgaon, which although are well-furnished, but do not still fall under the budget for the middle class.

When we take this population’s demands and needs a little more seriously, we find that there is a dearth of properties in good locations within the city, which buyers can afford. These buyers often have a budget of INR 30-40 lakhs, but more cities including Delhi NCR have a deficit in properties which match this budget range. Usually properties which are around INR 20 lakhs are still on the outskirts lacking good transportation and other facilities required by the urban middle class. This means that there is indeed a requirement for more housing under the affordable housing section, where different demographic profiles can find properties for themselves.

There is an urgent need for developers to come up with budget housing projects in the larger cities. As modern India moves towards development and rising aspirations, affordable housing and the security that comes with it, is increasing. This appears to be a very high opportunity for developers who can count on a boost in the real estate industry. More absorption of the housing projects in the urban cities is also a strong indicator of the socioeconomic growth in the country, thereby projecting a positive image. While the demand is strong and only increasing, there are a lot of policy-level changes that need to be introduced.

Not only will the affordable housing for the middle class prove to be a sustainable business model for the future, it will also allow more cities to come up to ranks. More affordable housing projects will assure developers that they do not struggle with inflation or even setbacks in the economy. Another trend that one needs to channelize is that more real estate investors are now eyeing budget and affordable housing projects. Where luxury homes and premium homes find it hard to make it through a rough economy, affordable housing is still on the move. The healthy demand in addition with more money coming in steady from investors means a healthy micro-economy. It is now time for builders and the government to give this proposition a try, ensuring that the overall development of the country happens throughout.

Gurgaon based real estate company’s residential flats in Gurgaon include their massive projects of Solera (Sector 107), Synera (Sector 81, NH8) Andour Heights (Sector 71), Orchard Avenue (Sector 93), Grand Iva (Sector 103), Roselia (Sector 95A), Serenas (Sector 36) and The Millennia (Sector 37D). At present, Gurgaon based real estate company’s Signum project offers retail shops in Gurugram in sector 36, 95A, 93, 103, 71, 81, and 107.

Understanding Home Closing Costs in Southern California

Looking to buy a house in Northeast Los Angeles – NELA, as it is known – but unclear of the process and amount of money needed? A licensed Realtor can help you figure it out. But for ballpark purposes, it might help to do some preliminary study on your own.

NELA is, after all, one of the hottest markets in all of Los Angeles. Not just the obvious neighborhoods like Glendale and Pasadena, but in smaller, lesser-known neighborhoods.

You might be in love with the schools in Mt. Washington, the housing inventory in Highland Park or the neighborhoods of Eagle Rock, but you have to work through some of these details before you can call any of those places home.

Much is made about closing costs in real estate transactions, and yet these vary for several reasons. The single largest expense, the real estate commission, is covered by the seller (who pays the commission in a split between the buyer’s and the seller’s agents).

Fees the buyer will need to pay at the closing come with some variation; the following are the largest of such costs at closing:

Homeowner association fees – If the property is a condominium the seller might be in arrears with the homeowners association, in which case you will find this out before entering the sales contract. In distressed circumstances (foreclosures, near-foreclosures and short sales), these fees might amount to thousands of dollars.
Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) – If your down payment is less than 20% of the price of the property, you will be required to insure the mortgage at between 0.3% and 1.15% of the loan amount.
Origination fee to the lender – Even while you fix your dreams on a Victorian in Glassell Park, a two-unit duplex in Garvanza or fixer-upper in Hermon, you have to go through a large amount of paperwork with a would-be lender to prove your creditworthiness. And yes, they do charge fees at closing for all that fun.
Points – These enable you to change the terms of the loan to your favor if you pay one or more percentage points toward the mortgage amount. If you have the cash and plan to own the property for a decade or longer, paying a point or two upfront can save you much more over time.
Prorated property tax – As the LA tax year begins on July 1, you will need to cover whatever remains in the year in advance from the day of the closing.
Insurance premiums – Protecting the property (as required by all lenders) from damages and liability is required at closing also.
Escrow fees – Third parties performing escrow services need to be compensated for that work. Note that fee structures are not fixed or regulated by the state of California, but are generally set according to the size of the transaction.

Technically speaking there are multiple fees that will be part of the buyer’s closing costs but which the seller automatically pays for in a reimbursement. These include the city transfer tax, documentary transfer tax to title and the owners title policy. Multiple other fees under $500 (average) costs include the lender appraisal fee, credit report fee, prorated HOA fees, courier services related to the transaction, notary services, archiving fees, recording trust deed (to title), and loan tie-in fees.

Note that the process of looking at houses and negotiating a price, and perhaps that of qualifying for a loan, are typically more time consuming than the closing itself. An experienced realtor will be able to advise you on all these details, invariably to the point where you are told how much money to bring to the closing and in what form.