How to Work Real Estate Internet Leads Without Going Crazy

So you've finally figured out a way to generate real estate leads through the internet?

Congratulations, you're rich!

Except for one tiny little thing, of course: actually closing your leads and generating sales.

Without a solid system, the only thing you'll be generating is a lot of work and heartache. In fact, I would say it's better to avoid online leads all together unless you're willing to invest the time upfront to set up proper systems.

What exactly do I mean by a system? A proper lead follow up system consists of three parts:

1. Customer Service / Follow Up at Internet Speed

Everything is faster on the internet. Think of the last time you shopped for anything online. Were you willing to wait even half an hour for an answer from an online store, or did you just move on until you found the answer immediately?

Online customer service is an entire article in itself, but here are the basics:

  • Make it easy for them to contact you – post your phone # prominently and use an online form – just posting your email address is worthless.
  • Respond within 5 minutes – after 30 minutes you may as well not even bother.
  • ALWAYS provide something of value in every phone call / email / tweet / note on rock thrown through their window, etc. This could be market news, useful links, answers, etc.

2. Use a CRM System (even if it's just an excel sheet).

37 signals, a hugely successful software company has a great saying: make half a product, not a half a ** ed product. The same goes with leads: it's better to work half your leads well, than try to work all your leads and do a half-a ** ed job of it.

To do it right, you'll need to track your leads. For no frills, make an excel sheet with their info, how / why the found you, and what you've sent them so far. Don't forget the most critical part: prioritize your leads (I can't argue with the time-tested "A, B, C" system, but feel free to get creative if you need a little flair in your CRM).

My personal favorite for real estate CRM is Highrise, by the aforementioned 37 signals (just Google "highrise, they're # 1). It's free up to 250 contacts, it's drop dead simple to use, and it plays nicely with your email.

3. Give The People What They Want.

Ask yourself why they contacted you in the first place: what do they want? Figure that out, then create or find those resources and put them all in a folder called "resources" on your computer. For example: buyer's guides, market statistical reports, recent neighborhood sales, advice articles about picking lenders, etc.

That way, every time you email a lead you can either attach something useful, or link to it in your email. It also gives you a great reason to call them, so you can ask permission before sending them an attachment.

In all honesty, there is simply no way to get the same success rates from online leads as you do from referrals and personal connections – that's simply the nature of the beast. Done properly, though, you can generate a solid amount of business without letting online lead follow up take over your life.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go research the pet weight restriction of a condo building for a random lead who just called … hey, I never said it was easy!

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Real Estate Property Management

One of the biggest decisions you will make as a landlord is whether you should hire a property management company or not. Many landlords manage properties on their own or with the help of an employee, such as a resident manager. Sometimes it happens that landlords need more help when property issues are complicated. This is when landlords need to seek the help of real estate property management companies.

Real estate property management companies can be a huge asset to your company but they don't come cheap. They deal directly with prospects and tenants, saving you time and worry over marketing your rentals, collecting rent, handling maintenance and repair issues, responding to tenant complaints, and even pursuing evictions. A good property management company brings its know-how and experience to your property and gives you the peace of mind that comes with knowing your investment is in good hands.

A real estate management business is an independent contractor and this helps you avoid the hassles of being an employer. Along with the benefits, hiring a real estate property management company also comes with a drawback of being an expensive one. If you are living far from your rental property, it will be difficult for you to handle property issues from afar. Most of the landlords look forward to finding good tenants to maintain their property in good and attractive condition.

On the contrary, there are few landlords who look at their property purely as an investment and are not interested in lending them to any tenants. In this case, the best option is to hire a real estate property management to handle the property and manage the related issues. Even if you enjoy hands-on management, you will run out of time to concentrate on the growth of your business which will put you in a situation to hire help for your property. Hiring help of a real estate property management company is an attractive option if you can afford the fees for the same. While interviewing management companies, expect to hear quotes ranging between 5% and 10% of what you collect in rent revenue.

Trying to choose a property agent can be daunting, after all you need someone with experience, energy and a passion to succeed! Perhaps even more importantly, someone who will talk to you and honestly discuss how the real estate industry can work successfully for you. In real estate, it's about service – and that's what gets results!

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Real Estate Appraisal – Bring Back the Cost Approach

In the last few years there has been a trend toward a complete discounting of the Cost Approach to value in residential appraisal. For owner occupied homes, the sole technique is now the Sales Comparison Analysis, which involves selecting and comparing individual property sales to a subject property.

Many lenders and government agencies no longer require the Cost Approach technique, even on new or nearly new construction, and appraisers are often instructed to omit it completely, or not to place any reliance on the results. When a lender does require that the Cost Approach be completed, it seems that this is only so that a proper amount of homeowner insurance can be determined. This is, of course, something critically important to the lender as well as the homeowner, but should not be the only criteria for the use of a cost-depreciation analysis.

Years ago a Cost Approach was always required for an appraisal report. The basis of this approach was the Principle of Substitution, which holds that a prudent buyer will not pay more for a home than the cost to acquire an equally desirable substitute home. Accordingly, the reproduction or replacement cost new of a home set the upper possible limit on value, particularly for an existing preowned home. So this analysis served not only as an additional means of estimating value, but also as a governor on runaway home prices.

The cost approach also served an important function as an educational tool for appraisers. To perform this approach, an appraiser had to have at least a minimal working knowledge of residential construction and to carefully observe the quality and condition of the various components of the home. Cost data services, which still exist today, provide continuously updated information on the various costs of construction involved in a home and some are quite accurate.

One service publishes a manual with a wealth of good data and information, complete with descriptions and photographs that illustrate the differences in quality and appearance for different types of homes, which is a great way for new or inexperienced appraisers to familiarize themselves with these features. In recent times I have come across reports by relatively new appraisers where no cost approach was done and it was painfully obvious that the appraiser knew very little about construction or how to evaluate the differences between their subject and the comparable sales they used in the Sales Comparison Analysis. I suspect we have a new generation of appraisers out there who have this deficiency and that's a bad sign for the future. The best appraisers know something about construction and can immediately spot differences among homes as to their quality level. This ability is also critical for the appraisal reviewer.

The Cost Approach is not without its weaknesses. The primary weakness is in the estimate of depreciation, be it physical, functional or external in nature. These things are difficult to estimate, but again, the appraiser who learns how to do this becomes more knowledgeable and competent, both in the Cost and Sales Comparison methods. Another weakness is in estimating the land value. Actual sales are often not available as a means to determine what buyers are paying for a similar lot and so market abstraction (also called extraction) is used to estimate the ratio of land value to dwelling value from market sales of already built homes. Improperly done, this technique is subject to serious errors. The general rule for the Cost Approach is that it is most accurate when the dwelling is not very old and sales of nearby similar lots are available.

I am of the opinion that the majority of foreclosures involve relatively new homes and that this is where the largest amount of lending losses occur. At least, that's how it is in my local market which has always had a lot of new construction. There are many reasons for foreclosures, but certainly one is upgrades.

Builders typically offer various home models at "base" prices and offer upgrades for both the home and the lot. Buyers can choose from a wide variety of options to enhance the home and can choose lots that are different in size or that have more trees or other desirable aspects. This is great for the buyer but can become a nightmare for the lender when a foreclosure happens because so many of those nice upgrades do not hold their value in subsequent foreclosure sales, and often do not hold their value as the distressed homeowner desperately tries to sell the home to avoid foreclosure.

The homeowner finds out they are "upside down" meaning the home cannot be sold for as much as the mortgage amount, especially when the initial down payment was very low or when financing costs were included (rolled into) the mortgage, necessitating an increase in the sale price. Another problem is inflated upgrade cost where some builders mark up the prices of upgrades well beyond normal prices that consumers pay at retail stores, even with installation added on. This is similar to what many service contractors (plumbers, car mechanics, etc.) do because they want to make a profit on the "parts" as well as the labor. The problem comes when the markup is excessive.

There is little an appraiser can do about upgrades when it can be shown that buyers often do select upgrades with their new home purchase. In the absence of current resales or foreclosures to compare with, it is not possible to estimate the resale value of upgrades, and values ​​are estimated as of a given date, not the future.

The Cost Approach long served as a reasonable basis for making adjustments to market sales in the Sales Comparison Analysis for individual items. If a home needed a new roof, the appraiser had a handy source for determining the cost for this. Likewise for appliances, HVAC equipment, a garage and the like. Removing the Cost Approach and the good data that comes with it forces too many appraisers to have to guess at these kinds of adjustments and the results can vary wildly from one appraiser to the next.

Long ago homes were valued only by a Cost Approach. The Sales Comparison Analysis (formerly known as the Market Approach) came later. I don't believe it is a coincidence that foreclosure rates and personal bankruptcies caused by unaffordable mortgage amounts and runaway home prices seem to have increased so much in recent years while the use of the Cost Approach has declined at the same time. Not do I believe it is a coincidence that the decrease in emphasis on cost minus depreciation began about the same time as tremendous inflows of capital into the marketplace encouraged every sort of easy money credit scheme that allowed so many people to buy homes they couldn't actually afford and that has severely damaged not only the US economy, but the entire world. Mountains of money to lend tend to push caution to the side.

I believe that the Sales Comparison Analysis is surely a good valuation technique, but its down side is that there are too many clever ways for market participants to smuggle hidden costs, fees and even fraud into sales contracts, which make their way silently into market data services and onto appraisal reports. The same can be true for unhidden costs like seller paid loan discount fees and other monies paid toward buyer closing costs. At a minimum, an accurate Cost Approach serves as a useful check on the results of even the most thorough and detailed Sales Comparison Analysis where the appraiser is carefully searching for and analyzing such things. Undesirable things can and do happen in real estate and some can slip past even the best Sales Comparison Analysis because they happen quietly and incrementally.

An example of this is what I call closing cost price compounding. A real estate agent provides a seller a pricing analysis where the agent has found 20 recent sales of similar homes in the area and averaged the prices to arrive at a figure he or she believes is correct for the home. The home is then marketed at that price. Along comes a buyer (perhaps from a higher cost market) who lacks cash, needs some assistance with his closing costs, and makes an offer at or very near the asking price. The seller counters with an offer in which he adds the amount of assistance the buyer asked for to the price.

But what if this type of assistance turns out to be normal for the area and is already reflected in the selling prices of those 20 homes used to set the asking price to begin with? The new sale closes at the upwardly adjusted price and is then used as a "comp" by other agents and by appraisers and the process continues with every repeat occurrence of the needy buyer, causing home prices to rise, affordability to lessen, creating more needy Buyers, and setting in motion a snowball effect where prices to rise eventually to the point that they exceed even cost new. This is not unlike interest compounding on your savings account. Over time your balance goes up faster and faster. Combine this with other inflationary market tendencies and you get a nasty bubble that will some day burst to the peril of us all … again.

Obviously, this could be avoided by competent sales agents who understand that those 20 sales already included heavy seller costs and inform their clients of this, but many do not and there is a built in incentive to pay prices as high as possible among people working on commission. An accurate Cost Approach would tend to catch this anomaly immediately or at least decrease its effects down the line in future sales because when home prices begin to exceed what it would cost to build an equally desirable substitute home brand new, the competent appraiser knows that something is wrong and that they need to dig deeper into the market data.

A Cost Approach is also a great lie detector for fraudulent appraisals. If an appraiser included a Cost Approach and is using a known cost source or manual that others can subscribe or view, then the estimated costs shown in the appraisal can be reproduced from that same source by someone reviewing the report. So if the appraiser has fudged on cost, that can be detected simply by examining the cost source and parameters the appraiser had described. Moreover, even if the appraiser showed the correct costs, the fraudulently inflated appraisal will exhibit inflated land value in the Cost Approach with little or no support as to where the land value estimate comes from or why it is so high. In fraudulent appraisals, the Cost Approach is "plugged in" with numbers to match the Sales Comparison Analysis. That's because an honest Cost Approach would have indicated a significantly lower value for the home.

There are other examples of how the Cost Approach could eliminate or reduce runaway home prices, and even detect fraud. I believe it is a foolish mistake to take away or encourage the disuse of any type of analysis or tool from appraisers that has a basis in market data. An analyst in any field of study should be willing and enabled to use as many ways as possible of looking at a problem. Focusing on just one method encourages tunnel vision. I say bring back the Cost Approach and let appraisers decide how useful or accurate it is on a case by case basis. It is not the end-all be-all solution but it is a valuable and worthwhile tool.

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Real Estate Broker Requirements: The Qualifications

The real estate broker requirements will give you an idea that shifting from one career to becoming a real estate agent is fairly easy. In fact, the qualifications do not vary much from one state to another because the demands are practically the same too. Although there might not be any particular degree required to become a good broker agent, it would not hurt if you have one because it will definitely be a good back up for whatever you are pursuing. And yet one of the most important requirements is that one needs to be able to take a series of exams to earn the license of being a broker.

Since the market of a real estate agent is huge and yet very competitive, one must be able to start with a real estate firm to work with. Usually a broker needs the help of broker and if you are just starting a career in real estate, it is best to find a broker you could work for. Then, the next thing that you need to do is to find people who are selling their properties and after that you need to search for people who want to buy that property. The more people you find, the more likely that you would be able to sell. This only means that you would have more chances of earning money.

In addition to what was already listed, becoming a broker agent is not easy but some say that it is definitely worth your time and effort. Not only will you be learning the tricks of the trade but you will also be equipped with the knowledge of the legalities that brokers have to deal with and keep up with. In fact, one of the major requirements of becoming a broker is working with technological advancements like the computer. If you do not have any knowledge about how to use it or how it works, it might be minus points for you. This type of profession demands for your diligence and perseverance because if you are determined to be the best broker, you can be one and the monetary rewards can be fulfilling too.

Perhaps by now, you have realized that the requirements are quite easy to meet and becoming a broker agent is actually within your arm's reach. Here is a breakdown list of the requirements that you need to prepare so that you can immediately start with your broker agent career.

• Age requirement

• Pass the background check

• Completed real estate courses

• Pass the real estate state exam

• Completed application form with needed attachments

• Payment of the fees

The requirements being asked from those who wish to become broker agents are not totally difficult to gather. In fact, they have one of the simplest application systems yet it is one of the most rewarding in terms of payment. Just look through the basics of application, you might just convinced yourself that it is a good career to shift to or at least you might want to try.

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Choose the Best Realtor – How Can You Find the Best Real Estate Agent For You in Today's Market?

Real estate agents don't get enough credit for the work they put into their clients. There is a lot of potential liability in the real estate career, and true success takes sustained hard work. Many try, and few survive. A good Realtor should become your trusted advisor. By understanding and appreciating what the Realtor does for you as the client, you can guarantee a wonderful working relationship with your Realtor and ensure total success throughout your home buying process.

Always, when I say "real estate agent" I want you to think Realtor, and to consider only a Realtor to represent you in your home purchase. "Realtor" is a professional designation for a real estate agent who has made a public commitment to a high level of accountability and professionalism. A real estate agent merely signs a license; a Realtor adheres to a code of ethics.

With a Realtor, you can expect someone who has invested time, money, and energy into the real estate profession, as opposed to someone who paid a couple hundred dollars, took some classes and passed a test. Yes, a license allows one to practice in real estate in the state of issuance, but it says nothing of the agent's reputation. Most first-time homebuyers don't even know to ask, "Are you a Realtor?" or even better, to check out the agent's business card to verify their title. A Realtor can also take additional education to gain special designations, further proof of effort towards professionalism and competence. Usually, the more designations the better: few would spend the time and money on these designsations without a passion for this business and the clients they serve.

Finding the right Realtor is hardly an exact science, but a little research can go a long way. In so many cases, the best agents are not the ones you see and hear about; on the contrary, the best agents are the ones who are so good at their trade and profession they don't need to spend money on advertising. These are the agents who work primarily by referral or word of mouth and have qualified people coming to them every day. This phenomenon only happens to great agents who know their trade and have built their business over enough years for new clients to seek them out.

Referrals Rule

Many buyers start by looking at agents they have heard of. This could be the local Century 21 branch next to the coffee shop down the street, or it could be that nice old lady who walks down the block every Thursday with her funky flyers. That old lady agent is desperately hoping that her hard work pays off and that after years of delivering her funky flyer to you, one day you will pick up the phone and call her. Similarly, the local Century 21 branch is hoping that next time you get coffee, you will walk in and become their next lead (and potential client). After all, they pay good money for the visibility that has been building their brand awareness every time you passed by and saw their sign over the years.

These are some of the many examples of how agents try to get your business, but you should not concern yourself with them. You should actively seek out a Realtor. Essentially, the best agents are typically the ones who don't need to spend time cold-calling or door-knocking to get their business. Business comes to them via referrals from past clients who are satisfied with their professionalism, honesty, and results. Take the initiative and give yourself the best opportunity to win: choose your agent carefully.

Let's take a moment to clarify this issue about star agents and how they go about their business. Great agents did not get that way by sitting around waiting for business to come to them. Rather, their success is the result of years of hard work building their businesses and spheres of influence in order to get to the position where they no longer need heavy marketing. Please don't mistake an agent's aggressiveness for a bad thing. A proactive agent is a very good sign! He or she is just trying to see where you are in terms of the buying process. An agent needs to know whether you are looking to move next month, or are looking to start looking next month – there is a huge difference! Sometimes agents who don't need to advertise do so anyway in order to maintain an identity in the community. Just as choosing the best agent is not an exact science, neither is the way that great agents market and advertise themselves.
Knowing what I know, if I wanted to find the best real estate agent for my first-time purchase, I would follow two basic plans: I would ask several people I knew and trusted for Realtor recommendations, and I would scan the online community consumer blogs for highly recommended Realtors.

As I mentioned before, the best agents are the ones who get consistent referrals. You should be one of those referrals! You should ask everybody you trust about his or her most recent experience in real estate. Preferably, you want to ask people who bought their homes within the past year or so, though a referral to an agent someone has worked with multiple times is a good sign. Always keep an open disposition for what people are telling you. In general, we humans have an innate need to share good experiences, so you should take any recommendations with open arms and then qualify them with questions about the experience. Whenever I get a referral from a past client or good friend, I am excited! I am already going to have a more solid connection to the referral, and there is a good chance the new client and I will mesh in terms of personality.

I will ALWAYS treat clients referred to me by people I know at a higher level than online "leads" or other unknowns. Without question, the level of commitment on the part of the buyer is so much more significant when it's a referral from a good source. I don't like admitting that my initial treatment of an Internet lead compared to a referral is different, but in practice it most certainly is! I can depend on a referral; I cannot depend on an online lead. For this reason I give priority to my referrals, and reserve the best service for them. Ask around, get referrals, check out the agents' websites, pick out your favorites, and schedule a time to meet.

Before you meet a potential agent, write down your most pressing questions. This will really help with your interview. It may be necessary to let the agent know you are interviewing a few other agents. This will keep them on their best behavior and you will see the best that they can offer. Usually I dislike it when I am referred a client who is "shopping" other agents, but here's the bottom line: If I were in your position, I would want to shop around until I meet the Realtor who is going to represent me in the most important buying decision in my entire life. It is a good idea to shop around, even if it hurts the agent's feelings. The one you choose will probably forgive you.

In some cases, you may feel so strongly about a particular agent that you don't find it necessary to interview other agents. There is nothing wrong with this, so long as you feel very certain about it. It's typical to see that with a highly referred agent only one appointment is needed to see that they truly are the best fit for you. You'll probably be sold on them after that initial consultation. After all, there is a reason they are that good in the first place.

The WOW Agent

Test-drive your potential agent during the interview! You're hiring your agent primarily for their real estate expertise. Their most important assets are their local knowledge (of the market, prices and inventory), their ability to negotiate and handle contractual issues, their ability to manage emotions and surprises, and their ability to connect with you as a person and help usher you at your pace through the transaction. How do you know your Realtor's skills before you begin? Ask questions! Your agent should leave you saying "WOW!" and feeling excited about the process ahead. Keep an eye out for that "WOW" agent. You will know when you find him or her, and you will be happy you did!

I cannot tell you how many times people have come to me looking for help after they have been working with a non- "WOW" agent. Sometimes the agent's problem is a lack of knowledge, sometimes it's a lack of communication, sometimes it's an unforgivable mistake, but no matter what, if you have found yourself with an agent you thought was a "WOW" agent, and you turned out to be wrong, it's OK to move on. My only suggestion is that as soon as you realize that your agent is not a "WOW" agent, you must cut ties with that agent as soon as possible! I say this because a lot of people are generally so afraid of confrontation that they negatively affect themselves in the process by not severing the relationship with the non- "WOW" agent. Do yourself a favor. Be bold. This will help you get what you want quicker, and it will be a wake-up call of sorts to the agent.

The bottom line is simple: go with a pro. Go with someone who knows the trade, and who is aggressive and tenacious (in a good way). Go with someone who knows how to talk and negotiate. Go with someone who has it together. Go with someone you connect with on a personal level – this will help you to build trust with your agent, and trust is the most important aspect of the agent-client relationship. Once trust and respect are established, the rest will fall into place. Just make sure you have the agent who will get you what you want!

It is important to remember that no matter how you choose your agent, being a good client will pay off in the end. Being demanding or demeaning to your agent will get you nowhere. Go in with the intention of keeping your agent as a trusted advisor for anything real estate-related from that point on. A long-term relationship is better for both parties, and no agent will tolerate an extremely needy or demanding or rude client for long!

Recently, I've been planning a wedding. I made a point of asking all our vendors what an "ideal client" is for them, and how we can work best with them in their service for our wedding. This would give me the idea of ​​how to make our relationship and the task at hand as enjoyable and successful as possible. Similarly, when I work with clients who have this kind of commitment to the client / agent relationship, there is no end to what I would do for them to ensure that their experience is second to none.

Bonus: The Top Ten Traits of a Successful Client

A recent client of mine named Amanda embodies this mentality. Her purchase price was low, which meant I wouldn't get much of a commission. The job entailed many hours of work, several offers, a long short-sale escrow and a couple of delays. All this was of no concern to me because of the type of client Amanda was. The time and effort involved did not matter, because she was top-notch. I wish all my clients were like her. In fact, I have said during the course of transactions with several clients that I wished all my clients were like the one at hand. Whenever I say this, I am saying that this particular client exhibits the following qualities, and no matter the challenge at hand, I am there without question to make sure everything goes right.

1. Be reasonable! Don't get too emotional, ever. When clients get overly emotional, agents get impatient. This is a grown-up world and you need to act like an adult. I will hold your hand throughout the transaction, but irrational clients never get the best treatment.

2. Be responsive! Unanswered phone calls and ignored emails are never a good sign. This is a warning flag for an agent, signaling that you may not be as motivated as you say you are.

3. Be punctual! If I am on time, you must be on time, too. This is a simple thing, but it's surprising how many people are late to everything. This is a slap in the face and you lose points in my book if you are late to confirmed appointments. If you flake on an appointment, start looking for some other agent; I probably won't work with you any further after a stunt like that.

4. Be flexible! Sometimes your wants don't quite line up with your budget, and you need to be OK with that! An irrational client is the last thing I want, a big waste of time. Really, it means that the client does not know what they truly want, or that what is affordable for them (what the buyer can actually buy) will not work.

5. Be honest and upfront! The more honest and open you are, the better I can serve you. Sometimes I go weeks with a client, only to find out about a preference, financial condition, or special need that has not been addressed. This can seriously affect the client's ability to find something that will work. Open yourself to your agent, and your agent will be better equipped to find you what you are looking for!

6. Be grateful! Show some love for your Realtor. Show that you appreciate all the time and hard work put in for your benefit. A grateful client is easier to work with and gets more appreciation than a demanding client.

7. Be respectful! This is a business, and you are dealing with a professional. Treat your agent like you would want to be treated yourself. When I am treated without respect, I have no problem moving on, letting go of a potential client. Sometimes clients seem to feel a need to act condescending or big or strong to establish control over the situation. This behavior is not conducive to a mutually healthy and beneficial business relationship.

8. Be trustworthy! I want to trust you and you should want to trust me. When both the client and the agent have a relationship built on trust, nothing can stop them. It's only when I have clients who question me as to my skill or ability that the relationship becomes distant.

9. Be prepared! Be ready to move fast! I know you are a busy person, but buying a home takes focus and commitment. I don't care if you had a busy week; we have a lot of documents to go over in a short time, and I shouldn't have to feel bad asking you to go over things you should be going over through the course of the escrow. I am bringing to your attention items and issues that will directly affect your purchase and the home you end up with. I cannot want the home more than you do, and if you aren't prepared and committed, it makes everything more difficult and stressful for me and for you.

10. BE COMMITTED! Being committed means that your heart and mind are in harmony with respect to the goal at hand. I have found that this is the number-one trait for all the buyers in my most successful and seamless transactions. When a buyer is committed, no matter the hurdle that may arise in escrow, the buyer will overcome. When the buyer is committed, the entire process is less stressful. When the buyer is committed, success is in the cards!

Bonus: Google Your Agent!

Today's online community offers an exceptional ability for any consumer to check in on the history of their service provider's reputation and work ethic: kudzu.com, yelp.com, and angieslist.com are a few stellar examples of websites geared to service providers for a specific geographic location. As time goes on, more and more of us will become connected, and this type of virtual "feedback" will become more and more pervasive.

Real estate aside, you can and should be doing this for any service provider, from your babysitter to your auto mechanic. That said, at least a nominal amount on online research should be called for to find any specific warning flags regarding the agent (s) you are considering working with. Check the agent's website and see if there are written testimonials on the site, and if these testimonials match up with what you find online. Keep in mind that there are some people who just love to file complaints, even for good service, and this can tarnish your expectations of the person you are considering working with. Please know that the online community cannot be fully regulated for accuracy, but it is typically more helpful and accurate as opposed to being burdensome and untruthful. There is no doubt that this kind of research will become more common because it is user-generated and tends to offer a comparatively unbiased opinion of a given service provider.

Choosing the right agent won't necessarily make or break your deal, but it can mean the difference between a satisfying deal and an unfulfilling one, a good deal and a not-so-good deal, a one-time transaction and a trusted advisor for life. Put simply, choosing the best agent gives you the best opportunity to realize massive success for your first home purchase. Choose wisely!

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Buying a Property in Romania – Real Estate Law in Romania

If you are looking to buy a holiday or second home or invest in Romania, Transylvania or at the Black Sea and you are a foreign citizen/investor, there are few aspects you should know about the procedure an the costs for the acquisition of Romanian land or Romanian houses.

After 2012, foreign citizens EU citizens (non-Romanian) may purchase a home or apartment in Romania may freely buy and sell any Romanian property, without restrictions. Along with the sell price for the property, buying real estate in Romania has other costs associated with it.

If you have chosen to collaborate with a Romanian real estate agent/ broker you can expect to have an additional commission of approximately 2-4% of the price of the property. The local tax will be 2-4% of the price of the property. The signing of a contract must be witnessed by a public notary who submits it for certification by the Land Registry in charge of real estate records. The fees for the Romanian public notary is about 0.5-1% of the purchase price. You will also have to pay fees to the Land Registry (“Cartea Funciara”) to register the Transfer Deed. The Romanian Land Registry Fee for a purchase of a property will vary from 1-3% according to the length of time that the seller had owned the property and the property’s value.

The Romanian law on property states that Citizens of EU member states, legal persons incorporated in the EU member states and stateless people domiciled in an EU member state can purchase land in Romania only if the land is used for secondary residences or for secondary headquarters after a 5 (five) years term from the accession of Romania to the EU (starting with January 1st, 2012); only for the agricultural land and forest land 7 (seven) years term from the accession of Romania to the EU ( starting with January 1st, 2014).

But for the Citizens, legal persons and stateless people not from a EU member state, the Romanian legal system establishes that they can purchase land in Romania, under the conditions of international treaties between Romania and the states of origin on these persons, under a reciprocity basis.

In our point of view, a prudent investor will hire a Romanian lawyer/ a Romanian Law Office, who will liaise closely with the notary on the verification of the title, obtaining the Land Registry excerpt and the drafting of the agreement for the transfer of ownership of the real estate. This means that the Romanian lawyer will be solely acting for and is responsible to his or her client, whereas the notary will not have the same degree of responsibility to the purchaser.

Under Romanian law there are three basic rights to land and buildings such as right of ownership; usage rights as lease, usufruct, superficies; concession right. The principle of contractual liberty represents the key core of the property law in Romania.

Sometimes, an investor/purchaser can opt for closing a pre-sale agreement, by which the seller undertakes to transfer ownership to the buyer at a certain date in exchange for an agreed consideration. The content of the pre-sale contract will stipulate all commercial and legal conditions for the transfer of ownership, as conditions precedent to the final transfer of ownership. The closing of such pre-contract for purchase does not means the transfer over the property, but the stipulate binding obligations for the parties, in regard to, as example, damages or penalties set out in them, if the seller refuses to sign the final notarized deed of transfer at the agreed deadline.

The closing of the pre-sale agreement is to protect the investor/buyer from any possible purchase to other buyers and to matters regarding the fixed price and duration of a future purchase. In our point of view, it is a must that the pre-sale agreement to be concluded at a Public Notary and clearly stipulate the sale price and other clauses regarding duration of future purchase. In this case, it can be enforced in court on the buyer’s request as a deed to transfer ownership.

A sale agreement signed in Romania, according to the Romanian legislation will mandatory stipulate: obligations of the parties for the fulfillment of the sale contract, delivery and quality conditions of goods and/or services, terms, payment methods and payment guarantees, payment instruments and price insurance, contractual risk, as well as method of solving eventual litigations arising from the contract. Other required elements include the full name and identification details of the parties (for legal entities) and name of the person signing the contract (representing a legal entity).

Our team of romanian lawyers offer a wide variety of legal services in the real estate law http://www.lawyersinromania.com

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Commercial Real Estate Financing With Many Ways to Make the Grade

Commercial real estate financing is currently being used for many different types of profitable business ventures: office buildings, retail outlets, apartment complexes, storage facilities, and the list continues to grow. At the present time, business loan rates are still reasonable enough to capitalize on the hospitality hotel/motel industry as well; business loans are also being used by investors to purchase storage unit facilities across the country, meaning that opportunities abound for those who are interested in making some serious money.

As the state of the economy moves well past its recovery stage, commercial real estate financing is helping new business owners get established, while the seasoned veterans are taking advantage of refinancing via expansion.

Becoming familiar with a business loan calculator can help newer company owners get a quicker handle on their finances. Office building and/or storage facility owners opting for adjustable rates will likely see their numbers fluctuate a bit more than those who’ve signed on for fixed business loan rates. Either way, having access to an online business loan calculator is a great way to keep things in check.

Quite a few commercial real estate financing recipients have invested in office buildings and/or storage facilities for a few good reasons: constant cash flow, low maintenance, and the ability to build equity for future endeavors. These types of contracts fall under the category of small business loans, yet the term small may be somewhat misleading. The idea of starting out small is a noble concept; however, semantics has little or nothing to do with actual profit margins that can allow for expansion. In such cases, construction loans are designed for growth and bigger business on the whole.

Commercial real estate financing at the onset is generally orchestrated for all types of small businesses, meaning that company owners can either maintain operations at a slower pace with steady growth or shoot for the moon when the time is right. No matter the case, small business loans can also be used in other areas, such as corner store strip malls, hotel/motel operations, or apartment building ownership.

The hospitality business can be extremely lucrative, especially when each respective facility provides prospective patrons with amenities galore. When investing in the hotel/motel forum, funding from commercial real estate financing can allow owners to create state-of-the-art facilities, which also falls in line with a number of construction loans used for renovations. The initial investment-to-turnaround timetable may depend upon the location and the climate, which is when doing some detailed research may come in handy. Densely populated areas with temperate climates are ideal for travelers both near and far, and yes, it’s true; location really does matter.

Strip malls, on the other hand, require less involvement, yet making sure that each space is occupied should be a primary concern. With this type of commercial real estate financing, the same small business loans principle applies when investing in apartment complexes. Offering incentives and low move-in specials can increase occupancy and retain tenants as well.

The above-mentioned investment opportunities are merely a drop in the bucket when compared to the thousands of business loans that have already been approved and are now operational. With business loan rates remaining relatively reasonable, staying in the black and beyond is more than just a possibility. Going a step further may also be in the cards for investors who have higher expectations. Commercial real estate financing is now available for those who qualify and who can supply the proper financial documents.

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Good Versus Bad Debt – Is Real Estate Debt OK?

Here’s a very basic conversation about “Good Debt” versus “Bad Debt”

Is there such a thing as “good debt”? Years ago, I considered “good debt” to be an oxymoron.

This good vs. bad debt conversation comes up a lot in real estate conversations. Especially for investors just starting out. And, typically, understanding “good” debt has proven more difficult for women (sorry girls). We, it seems, are much more concerned about paying the bills today for our home and our children. After all, doesn’t most of society tell us that debt is bad? So, how is some of it good? And why?

My husband and I argued about “good debt” vs. “bad debt” for two and a half years before I finally got it (and by “it”, I mean I finally understood his argument). I wanted no debt and was absolutely NOT interested in finding something called private money lenders. Why in the world would we want even MORE people – besides mortgage companies – to owe money to?!?

But, ultimately, I became convinced. “Good debt” is a real thing, and not just an oxymoron. I learned about something I had not previously understood – Leveraging.

Here’s one definition I found for leveraging: “using borrowed capital for (an investment), expecting the profits made to be greater than the interest payable.”

Yes, “profits made to be greater than the interest payable” means you can pay back the lender and still have profits (money) left for yourself. If you do this once, it’s a wonderful thing. If you do this ten times, it can be incredible. So, done right, taking on more “good debt” can increase your own long-term profits.

Not all debt, naturally, leads to profits – not a big screen TV or another car, but investment debt done right definitely can. Here’s a very basic way to look at it:

Example 1:

Say you personally have $100,000 cash. You can purchase one house for $100,000 and get $1000 per month rent for it.

Example 2:

Or, you buy ten $100,000 houses, putting $10,000 down for each, and get $1,000 per month rent from each house. Yes, you have debt to pay to the borrower on each one, but you also have profits left for yourself on each one.

  • You only need $100 profit left on each to still receive your $1000 per month income.
  • Plus, you have someone else paying off those mortgages.
  • Plus, you receive tax write-offs on the interest you pay to your lenders.
  • You receive additional tax write-offs on the depreciation on those properties.
  • Over time, your tenants, not you, pay off the mortgages.
  • You end up with ten houses each paying $1000 per month rent. Rather than the original one house paying $1000, you now have ten houses paying $1000. And you still only paid out your initial $100,000 for ten times the reward.

Now THAT’S leveraging!

Another important fact when purchasing real estate is that you have an asset against your debt. It’s not like borrowing for a bigger TV or even for a car where the purchase has little to no value. In fact, those aren’t assets but liabilities. With real estate, if circumstances go awry, you have the option to give the asset to the lender to satisfy the debt. A much safer deal for everyone.

Begin to see this “good” debt is as an investment in your future. The important thing is that you must buy right. Be sure to buy at a deep discount, never pay full retail. That leaves plenty of room to maintain value even if the market and property values drop (remember 2008, 2009 and 2010?).

Does this make you think of real estate debt differently? What can you add?

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How The Overall Economy Impacts Real Estate?

Many of us, who are involved, on a daily basis, with the many nuances of real estate, get so involved with buying, selling, marketing, and promoting homes, and making/ giving listing presentation, we often ignore, the many economic factors and other conditions, which impact the real estate market. Some of these factors are local, in nature, while others may be national or international/ global. Some are actual, while others are perceived (for example, belief in their job security, negative possibilities because of some action taken by government, etc). With that in mind, this article will attempt to briefly consider, examine, review, and discuss, how the overall economy impacts the real estate/ housing markets.

1. Mortgage/ interest rates: When the Federal Reserve announces they are raising, planning to, or considering raising rates, in most instances, mortgage rates follow. About 2 years ago, we witnessed historically low mortgage rates, and today, while, from an historic perspective, they are still relatively low, they are about one percent higher, than they were, at the low. When mortgage rates are low, many buyers qualify for a higher price, and thus, we often witness a rice in home prices. As they rise, generally, prices, and, especially, the rate of increase, slows.

2. Taxes: When local real estate taxes are comparatively low, the effect on monthly carrying charges, is a positive, for the housing market. When they rise, they cause homeowners, to have to pay more monthly. Some houses, neighborhoods, regions, counties, etc, have lower taxes than others, so when one region abruptly raises rates, that local market is hurt, and certain surrounding areas benefit. In addition, in higher tax areas, such as New York, New Jersey, Connecticut. Massachusetts, Illinois, California, last year’s tax legislation, may have potential longer – term ramifications, on the housing market. That inclusion, known as State and Local Taxes, or SALT, limited/ capped the federal tax deduction, permitted, for state and local taxes, to a total of $10,000. Since many houses in these regions, have much higher taxes, and, several of these areas, also have state and/ or regional taxes, these caps, have the potential, to harm the real estate market, especially, if, they increase, any more.

3. Jobs: Do people perceive, they have job security? Is the job market, strong, or relatively weak? Are incomes increasing? The more confident, and comfortable, qualified potential buyers, are, the stronger the market.

4. Overall economy, and world news: For example, if the present, partial government shutdown, continues, for a substantial period, many workers, industries, and small businesses, especially, will be negatively impacted! There seems to be lots of fears, doubts, and insecurities, about safety, etc. The more confident, the public is, the better off, usually, is the real estate market.

These items are just the tip of the factors, which have an impact on the housing market. Beware, prepare, and plan accordingly.

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Real Estate Agent Slogans

Catchy taglines are everywhere in advertising. Whether they rhyme, or they inspire, or they create a memorable image, taglines are something every advertising agency works hard to craft. How many of us know, “Like a good neighbor” or “Just do it”? While you might not create a slogan as memorable as those, you should be able to come up with something that your local clients will always think of. Need a little inspiration to get started? Here are some suggestions for slogans and ways to get the creativity rolling.

When you do come up with a slogan, you need to use it throughout your advertising and on your website. That way, people will be faced with the association frequently and they will be better able to keep your name and the slogan together.

Your slogan should be short and sweet. Try your best to keep it under eight words. Anything longer will just deter people instead of drawing them in. It should also make sense for the brand you are creating.

One thing you can do is come up with a rhyming slogan. Case in point – a Realtor named Scott Geller tagged “The Home Seller” after his name and because it rolls off the tongue so smoothly, it has become all one phrase. And, that makes it easy to advertise. His word of mouth campaign keeps his advertising costs low.

Your slogan should make a tug on the heartstrings, too. You are taking part in one of the most important events in a person’s life. By letting your customers know what you can do in terms of customer service, your slogan will help quickly convey what you can do. Consider something like, “Jane Smith – Helping Your Family Make the Right Move”.

Avoid any slogans that are bland or generic. They won’t work to set you apart from your competition, and they might even work against you. If your slogan is generic, your potential clients might think you are, too, and that you won’t be the best agent they can find. Think about something like, “I’ll take the stress out of your home buying experience”, or “Call the Carson City condo specialist”.

You can also consider your location for your slogan. When you add in your place, it not only helps make you the personal expert for someone, you also boost your search engine ranking.

Creating an image in your potential client’s mind is an effective slogan, too. Assuring your client you can solve the mystery of home buying or be their personal navigator makes that slogan unique and memorable at the same time.

If creativity is still escaping you, you can contract this process out and hire a professional. Some will even blend the slogan into your total advertising plan, and not charge you too much for it.

Now, if you come up with a slogan and you test it on your friends and family but you receive a negative reaction, be ready to set that slogan aside and pick something else. You should also not take it personally. Try out another one and keep going until you do find one that is well received.

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