Earn Back Your Retirement Money with Real Estate

Are you a real estate investor? Would you like to learn some little-known secrets to increase your purchasing power using your retirement account? We are all well aware that stocks have tumbled drastically in the last several months, leaving investors with the option of real estate investing to fund their IRAs. If you like the thought of using tax-deferred money to buy property, then the first thing you need to do is find an IRA advisor that does real estate investment. Steer clear of banks and brokerage firms, which are more traditional and conservative with their investments. Instead, find real estate mavericks and learn their tricks. One way you can find such people is by utilizing the Internet. Search for “self-directed IRA” and you will find a plethora of help out there. You will need a custodian to direct your investments, unless you want to control it yourself. You will have to pay a fee for their expertise, of course. They will guide you in which types of land or property to invest in, purchase it with your money, and perhaps even manage the property.

Obviously, in this economy, few people have the available funds to invest in property. One option is to buy an interest in the property along with friends or family members. However, keep in mind that the IRA does not allow investment property to be regarded as “homesteaded property” or office space. You will not get those tax breaks. The penalties for breaking these laws are steep and should be avoided at all costs.

 

Remember that you may not put your current home into the IRA – you must have your custodian buy it and put it into a trust. Be aware that property bills must be paid from that IRA account, so be sure to keep it well funded. Income generated from the property will also go into that account, and if you sell, any proceeds from the sale will stay in the account. In addition, you may personally contribute cash into your account – up to $4,000 per year for an individual, and up to $40,000 per year for a SEP-IRA (used for a self-employed individual).

 

Once you reach the age of 59 ½, you may take out your money penalty-free. You can arrange to have the custodian sell the homes for you and give you the money, or keep the properties in the IRA for several more years. You will need to pay income taxes on the property, unless it was held in a Roth IRA (which is pre-taxed money).

 

The great thing about real estate is that anyone can learn the field, and you don’t need a degree to do it. In America, people are entitled to land ownership! If you read Section 408 of the IRS Code, you will see that there is great flexibility in allowing individuals to invest in land and properties.

The Top Three Ways to Raise Your Credit Score Without Losing Your Sanity

A critical part of your success as a real estate investor is your ability to obtain the financing you need to fund your real estate activities, so it’s imperative that your credit score be as high as possible. Regardless of what your score is right now, it can almost always be higher. Here are three powerful ways to quickly boost your credit score and increase the likelihood that you’ll always be able to get your loan applications approved, without losing your sanity:

Pay Your Bills on time – The most important thing you can do to increase your credit score is to pay your bills on-time. Your FICO score is an up-to-date snapshot of your creditworthiness, so it changes almost daily. Today’s late payment may not seem like a big deal, but it can have a dramatic impact on your ability to get loan approvals when you need them.

 

By making it a practice to always pay your bills on-time, you are setting yourself up for continued financial success. Good credit isn’t an accident that just happens. It takes work, effort, and attention to detail. Make the commitment TODAY that from now on you will ALWAYS pay your bills on or before their due-date. Nobody’s perfect, but by putting on-time bill payment at the very top of your financial agenda you will steadily see your credit score increase. A few points can save – or cost – you a small fortune in late fees and missed investing opportunities.

 

Spice Up Your Credit Life – It’s been said that variety is the spice of life, and the same is true of your credit mix. While it’s great that you have a credit card or two in your wallet, it’s more important that you have – and utilize – a variety of different kinds of credit.

 

Most of us have at least one mortgage loan, but it’s also important that you utilize installment and revolving credit accounts. An example of an installment loan would be your auto loan. You have a fixed number of payments over a specific period of time in order to pay off that loan. With revolving credit, the balance can go up or down each month depending on how it is utilized. For instance, a credit card is a prime example of revolving credit. One month you might not have a balance at all; the following month could see several thousand dollars in new charges. Mix things up and make sure you use different types of credit regularly for best results.

 

Find the Credit Accounts You Like – and Keep Them – Some people like to play musical chairs with their credit accounts. We all know someone like this; you may even be one of them. While shopping, they see a sudden opportunity to save 10% off their purchases simply for applying for a credit account.

 

Unless you have every intention of opening and using a credit account, save your time and your credit score. When you open credit accounts that you don’t use – only to close them a month or two later – your credit score will actually drop. So settle on the credit accounts you’re going to have – and then keep them.

 

This doesn’t mean you should never take advantage of that great zero percent financing offer you got in the mail. What it does mean, however, is that if you’re going to take advantage of an offer like this, utilize it – and then keep the card for the long haul. The longer you’ve had a credit account, the greater the impact on your credit score. Rather than close a credit card account with a seven year track record of on-time payments in order to save a few dollars in interest charges, keep that account open. It’s doing you a lot of good.

 

These may seem like simple steps, but they can have a profound impact on your credit score – and the size of your investing portfolio. Put this simple three step process into effect today and watch your real estate investing career grow by leaps and bounds!

Foreclosure: Understanding the Process So You Can Find a Solution

You became a real estate investor because you saw unbridled opportunity and the chance to see all of your dreams come true. However, the current economic situation may have thrown you off-track. If you’ve fallen behind with mortgage payments, it’s imperative that you know and understand the foreclosure process so you can seek an effective solution that will allow you to emerge from this crisis a smarter investor. Then you can take the necessary steps to protect yourself – and your investments. Years from now you can tell your off-spring how you weathered the most severe financial storm in history. First you need to learn the foreclosure process so you can find a solution for success.

Missed payment #1 – Up to this point in your real estate investing career you may have always been able to make all payments on-time, but bad things really can happen to good people. At this point, your lender probably won’t be too concerned. They’ll normally send you a friendly reminder notice in the mail. The smartest thing you can do is to call them as soon as it becomes obvious that you’re going to miss your payment due date.

 

Missed payment #2 – Now your lender is probably beginning to worry a little bit. They’ll probably pick up their phone to discuss your account and find out when you plan on getting caught up. You should be proactive by reaching out to them to discuss your financial situation and trying to devise a solution that will get you current as soon as possible.

 

Missed payment #3 – At this point your friendly mortgage lender will likely give way to the not-so-friendly collections department. Depending on the state in which you live, you’ll receive a “Demand Letter” or a “Notice to Accelerate” in the mail. The letter will explain very clearly and directly what steps your lender intends to take if you don’t quickly get current with your payments. Normally this letter will mention the dreaded “F” word – foreclosure. You will be given a date (usually 30 days) by which you will need to either pay all past-due payments or make other arrangements that are satisfactory to your lender.

 

Missed payment #4 – Your mortgage situation is getting critical at this point. You’re about to run out of time before your lender decides that you aren’t likely to reinstate your loan. Once the 30 day demand letter time frame has passed, your lender can legally foreclose at any time of their choosing. At this point your delinquent account will usually be referred to their attorneys – and you will begin incurring large attorney’s fees.

 

Sheriff’s Sale – If you don’t act quickly to remedy your mortgage delinquency, your lender’s attorney will schedule a Sheriff’s Sale or Trustee’s Sale (depending upon whether you live in a judicial or non-judicial state). Much of what happens from this point forward will depend upon the state in which your property is located. You will be noticed of the pending sale of your property in one of several ways:

 

  • A sale notice delivered by mail

 

  • A notice found taped to the front door of your property

 

  • A notice of sale published in one of your local newspapers

 

This is one of your final opportunities to rescue yourself from your financial situation before being forced to move. Once the sale date comes and goes you will have to move.

 

Redemption Period – After your property has been sold it may be possible for you to reclaim your property, but it won’t be easy – or cheap. Not only will you be required to pay the entire outstanding loan balance of your mortgage, you’ll also be required to pay all collection costs, fees, and the significant attorney’s fees. Your ability to redeem your property will depend upon the state in which the property is located, so the allowable time frames will vary considerably. You can learn more about state-specific procedures at www.foreclosurelaw.org

 

Foreclosure is serious business, and the process can vary considerably, depending upon your lender’s policies, state law, and how intent your lender is on taking the steps necessary to reclaim possession of your property.

 

Protect your credit, your options, and your reputation by contacting your lender immediately and working diligently to create a foreclosure solution that is acceptable to your lender. Your lender is in the business of making loans. While they don’t want your property, they’re not afraid to take it back in order to protect their financial interests.

 

Don’t let a temporary financial setback destroy your real estate investing career. Be smart, weigh your options, and create a solution that will get you back on track as soon as possible.

Real Estate Infomercials Exposed Part 2

The article will guide you step-by-step on how to start your financial budget. If you already have over $5,000+ in Investment Money put back, you can skip past this article. However, since the intention of this article is to be able to help everyone, I’m starting at the beginning. Also, there are a variety of sub-topics covered in this article that may be beneficial to you even if you do already have enough to begin investing. To be successful at anything in your life you have to be committed and informed. Investing in Real Estate (or anything else) is no different.

Creating and sticking to a budget is the most fundamental act that an investor can do. A budget forms a basic chart of your income and expenses. It can also be used to track and monitor bill payments. Budgets give you a visual idea of what you can do with your money using it as a guide to better manage your money. To get yourself going in the right direction, however, you’ll need to make sacrifices. If you work hard and sacrifice now, then you have the opportunity to be your own boss, retire early, and enjoy life as you should! The following Step-By-Step guide will get you to where you want to be.

 

A Budget is a fundamental guide…

 

The first thing you have to do is grab a piece of paper and something to write with. Creating a budget may seem like a pain at first, but as you learn to manage your money you’ll start to enjoy updating your budget. If you’ve every balanced a check book, then you already have a basic understanding of Budgets. If you’re following my guide from the beginning, then you shouldn’t have a clue. Below is a layout of how you can create a Budget Report. Converting it to a text file on your computer (if available) is a very nice option as you then only have to change the values and not have to recreate the whole template every time.

 

The first section is just a header:

 

Budget Report

 

Last Updated – 09/01/06

 

This next part you shouldn’t have to worry about for the time being. However, its purpose is to track a “Cushion” in your checking account. NSF fees can be nasty and getting them reversed if it wasn’t your fault can be a pain. So it’s better to have a “Cushion” to help protect your account from those fees. Ideally, you’d maintain a minimum of $100 in this cushion. This is also a form of ‘Sub-Accounting’ where you’re breaking the balance in your account down into additional sub-accounts even though such accounts don’t actually exist. This allows you to go ahead and subtract other values out of your total balance so you don’t accidentally forget to take them out at the end:

 

Main Checking Account Cushion Balance: $ 0.00

 

The following part will vary depending on how you get paid. However, if you don’t get paid weekly, it’s still advisable to have a weekly budget balance so you don’t run out of money between paychecks. Your weeks should always start with the day you get paid. Remember to always pay on your bills when you get paid. Take the total bill and divide it by the times you get paid in a month. This is how much you will pay on each bill when you get paid. The below assumes you get paid weekly which would be 4 paycheck per month. Round deposits down to the nearest $5 and round deductions up to the nearest $5:

 

Current Weekly Budget Balance – 09/01/06

Always include the date for each week for cross-checking.

 

+$150.00 – Deposit

In this case, the deposit is a pay-check (assuming roughly minimum wage) of $154.50.

 

-$ 5.00 – Phone

assuming a $19 phone bill. 20 divided by 4 = 5 dollars/wk.

 

-$ 15.00 – Cable

assuming a $56 cable bill. 60 divided by 4 = 15 dollars/wk.

 

-$ 40.00 – Power

assuming a $157 power bill. 160 divided by 4 = 40 dollars/wk.

 

-$ 50.00 – Car

assuming a $196 Car/Insurance bill. 200 divided by 4 = 50 dollars/wk

 

-$ 40.00 – Misc.

assuming $159 in other expenses (such as gas, food, and rent). 160 divided by 4 = 40 dollars/wk.

 

————-

 

$ 0.00 – Balance

 

In the above case, we indeed up with a balance of zero which will be common in the beginning. In actuality, we had ~$7.75 left over that we lost track of due to rounding. This is magically whisked away into our Account Cushion. If you don’t have a checking account yet (and you shouldn’t if you’re following the guide), then you’ll simply notice this as extra money in your pocket at the end of the week. Chances are you’ll use it because the MISC. assumption wasn’t very realistic (especially if you’re not receiving any government aid). The above doesn’t even include rent on a place to live on your own. So you can see how living on minimum wage isn’t even feasible. Naturally you could do away with the cable, but that’s still not going to add up to a rent payment. The important lesson to be learned here is that if the amount of money that you bring in each paycheck is less then the total value of bill payments, then you need to sacrifice one of your bills. In the above case it would by Cable and Phone, if nothing else, just to give you a positive cash flow. If you break-even and don’t generate a positive cash flow, then you’ll never get ahead. If you’re generating a negative cash flow, then you’re heading toward the stress and anxiety of ultimately having to go through bankruptcy and damaging any chance of investing in anything for the next 7+ years at minimum.

 

From here, you should add a Payment History. This lets you track each payment and how much balance remains after each payment. This is a break down of the sub-accounts listed above. When possible, you should always pay more on your bill to create a Cushion in case you get sick and come up short one week. The last thing you want is to interrupt your positive cash flow. Paying ‘up’ on your bills become even more advantageous when dealing with loans as you can reduce your total debt-over-time by applying additional payments to the principal and there-by reducing that which interest is calculated from. We’ll get more into that later.

 

Moving Forward

 

For now you should start trying to build a Cushion. You’ll want to build at least $225 before continuing to the next article. Next, we’ll open a bank account (both Checking and Savings), take out your first small loan, and start your credit.

 

Article III will cover opening a bank account and starting your credit…

Finding the Best Real Estate Bargain

The economy has yet to hit rock bottom and money is tight. You may lose your job or even your house whether the house that you live in belongs to you or you are renting the house. Right now is a scary time but right now is also a time with opportunity knocking on your door! House prices have dropped dramatically and sellers and lenders are in need to sell their homes even if it means losing over $100,000 in return. The time calls for desperate measure and it’s your time to take advantage of it!

If you have the money to spare because you have been saving up to buy a house but couldn’t before during the housing boom because homes were so over inflated then the time for you to buy a house is definately now. Home prices are now affordable even though they have not dropped back down to before the housing boom but low enough for the average person to actually be able to afford without going through shady loan applications. Sometimes you will even be able to purchase a home that is below the market value before the housing boom as well. In addition to buying a house for below market value, you are able to ask for a better bargain because the ball is in your court now. You can ask for closing cost assistance although there are times when you don’t even have to ask because the seller is already offering up to 5% to cover your closing costs. As a buyer, you can buy a home without having to put out any money at all because the seller is the one that will eat the cost of everything.

 

When it comes to picking a house, location is not everything because with location comes a more competitive price. You could buy a house that is a little farther off for less and possibly even a newer house. For instance, you could buy a 4 bedroom, 3 bath, 2,200 square foot house on a 7,000 square foot lot that was built in 1997 for $250,000 in Ontario. Or, you could drive 10 to 15 minutes up north to Fontana and buy a similar house for $200,000 or less but built in 2006 with modern design and structure. It is not a big sacrifice to make in this case and why would you settle for old when you can settle for new? The American dream is not so far away anymore because now you can actually keep and hold onto the American dream. Sure, lenders may ask for a downpayment but with housing prices dropping to a low, the downpayment would not be as significant as it would otherwise be a couple of years ago.

 

But don’t jump up and down with joy just yet, there are still risks when it comes to purchasing a home. With all the abandoned homes, you would have to consider look into the history of the home to determine if you would be buying a home with a lien or even back up taxes which you would end up having to pay for if you were to buy the house. Also, you would also have to thoroughly inspect the house because things are not always as they appear because not all houses that you will encounter will be clean as a baby’s bottom. Viewing houses nowadays may be better in terms of the house being cleared out and with no tenants but sometimes you will find houses full of the previous homeowners left overs and abandoned trash. Some sellers will clean up the house before lising the house but there are cases where the house will be left as is. You should ask yourself if it is worth it to clean up the property or to move onto the next house because there is not a shortage of houses on the market so the choice is yours.

 

Also keep in mind that just because the house is more than what you want to pay for doesn’t mean that the house would be out of reach whether the seller rejects your low ball offer or not because in the end they just might consider it. When it comes to bank owned properties also known as real estate owned, the bank will continue to keep on dropping their asking price until they are ready to settle which may take them almost a year to decide but the inevitable will happen nonetheless. So keep your head up and see what your hard earned money can do for you now because remember this is now a buyer’s market so negotiations is in your court.

Buying Real Estate Out of State

Trying to buy a house from 500 miles away is no doubt an incredibly difficult task, but there are things you can do make make this experience a bit less stressful. I am currently going through the process for the first time and we are almost done. Looking back, I wish we would have done some things a little differently.

The first thing you need to do is to get your hands on a local real estate book of houses for sale. It is tedious, but read through every house in the book and highlight ones that sound or look like the type of house you are looking for. Even if the description sounds too nice to be true or like it might be out of your price range, mark it for more information anyway. These days you never know what you can get for your money.

 

The next step is to get online and look these properties up on your own. This way you can eliminate more than half of the houses without having any pressure from a real estate agent to “just think about it and maybe you’ll find that you can afford it”. You will also be able to find more detailed information online than in the magazine. Also, do a search on each real estate agent’s website.

 

Sometimes not all the houses are in the book. You may be able to find more houses or new listings that did not make the issue date. Some agents do not share their houses with other agent’s websites. You may be able to find a house on one site but not the other, and vice versa. Don’t forget to look in the local papers for houses for sale by owner too.

 

Once you are ready to look at houses, call the real estate agency that has the most houses you want to look listed. For example, if Joe’s is listing 4 houses you want to look at, Betty’s is listing 2, and Mark’s is listing 1, call Joe’s to look at them all. Any Realtor can show any house on the market unless otherwise restricted. Going with Joe’s, you’ll get the most information on the most houses. They will know or be able to find out information better on at least 4 of the houses than the other agencies will.

 

This will speed up the process immensely. We had the listing Realtor of the house we are buying show us the house, then call the owners to get more information, and call us back 3 times in one day. If you want to get your questions answered with no chance of miscommunication, don’t hesitate to call the owners directly. You can find just about anyone’s phone number on the Internet these days.

 

Being out of town, you will need to take some time off to look at houses. If you can, schedule all your house viewings for one day. Saturday seems to work the best because most people are off and can get the house in order at anytime. Take the day after to evaluate the houses. Take LOTS of pictures to go over later. This will refresh your memory of a house and allow you to see something that you may have missed.

 

Also, take notes while walking through each house of pros and cons. Once you have narrowed your selections down to 2 or 3, call to do another walk through if you can not decide on one. This can usually be done the next day if you tell the owners you are from out of town and will be leaving in 2 days.

 

Now you have your mind set on a house, or 2, having a possible back-up in case the first choice doesn’t work out. If the house you like is close to your budget but a little too high, don’t forget you can always negotiate. We had the owners of the house we are buying come down from an original $200,000 (a year ago on the market) to $168,000. To speed things up, you should make the listing agent your agent as well. Sometimes this will cause problems in pressure of trying to get you to pay a higher price during negotiation, but stick to the price you have in your head and you will be OK.

 

We had to use 2 separate Realtors because we are going through a relocation program. If we had the choice, we would have just used the listing agent. Remember that at this point, you are a long distance away again and all communication has to go through the phone, fax, and mail. Information has to go from you, to your Realtor, to their Realtor, to the owners. Cutting out one Realtor will speed things up to half the time.

 

After negotiations are done I would highly suggest you request all paperwork to be next-day mailed to you. Trust me, it is worth the extra little cost. Faxes will get hard to read and signatures will not be originals. We faxed back and forth from us, to our Realtor, to their Realtor, and back. The contract is now almost impossible to read. Do not send the papers in the regular mail, this will take at least double the time.

 

Now, a house inspection needs to be done. You should have already been searching for local inspectors during negotiations. As soon as the purchasing agreement is signed, call the inspectors and see who can get it done AND processed the fastest. We had one done over 2 weeks ago and it still has not been processed. Make sure you get a guaranteed date of when you will have the report in hand.

 

While the inspection is being done, get your mortgage company decided on and order an appraisal. Again, get the date of appraisal and date of when you will have the report in hand. Have a closing date set and make sure all paperwork can be done before that time. We are cutting it down to getting our appraisal 2 days before the closing date. I would not suggest doing this. Make sure you have at least a week in case something goes wrong or you have to re-negotiate. We are under way too much stress right now because of this problem!

 

Now, you should be the proud owners of a new house in a different city or state. Congratulations! We were able to get our new house taken care of from start to finish in about 35 days. This was using 2 separate Realtors (one who was very inefficient and unreliable) and using faxes. I also need to point out that my husband was out of town for 2 weeks, slowing the process down by about a week. Following these tips, you should be able to close on a house in 25-30 days if you stay on top of things and get the ball rolling fast.

How to Get a Real Estate License in Minnesota

Being a real estate agent can be a rewarding and lucrative career. Starting as a salesperson, you can move up to being a broker through training and certification. Because all states have different requirements, it is important to be aware of the regulations in your state. Minnesota is among several that has rigorous training and certification procedures. Although Minnesota’s requirements for licensing require attending classes, taking an exam and applying for a license, the procedure for a salesperson can be completed in less than a year. Obtaining a broker’s license is then possible in an additional two years.

Real Estate Sales License

 

Complete as least 1 of 3 real estate courses available from various private schools such as Kaplan’s or at a Minnesota community college or trade school. Online courses are available as well. Parts 2 and 3 may be taken after passing the licensing exam. All exams are taken through Pearson VUE at 866-274-4756. Request the Minnesota exam. You must pass both exam sections to apply for a license. Fax the results of the written portion to 651-284-4107.

 

After you have passed the exams, apply for the license through the Minnesota Department of Commerce and pay the $140. fee. The license is good for two years.

 

It’s advisable to become a member of a Minnesota professional organization like the Minnesota Association of Realtors.

 

Real Estate Brokers License

 

To apply for a real estate broker’s license you have been actively involved in real estate sales for 2 out of the last 5 years either in Minnesota or another state. Minnesota has a reciprocal agreement with Colorado, Iowa, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Wisconsin.

 

Maintain an interest-bearing trust account in a Minnesota bank or include a waiver with the application.

 

Submit the application on the Pulse Portal website and submit the $220 fee.

 

After licensing, complete a 30 hour continuing education course within 2 years. The courses can be taken online or at a Minnesota community college or private chain college.

Real Estate in Naples, Florida

In the 9 years that I’ve been selling real estate, I’ve seen a lot. I’ve gone from seeing people make $100,000 in one day, just by signing their name, to seeing those same people go bankrupt. All within a matter of 3 years.

It doesn’t seem too long ago that Naples, Florida was the place that everyone wanted to buy real estate. We were named, “The Best Beach in the Country” by the Travel Channel, featured in numerous articles and tv shows and were attracting the wealthiest people in the world. Living in Naples was a status symbol. It was hot, sexy and rich. Businesses were booming and everyone was making more money than they could spend.

 

Buyers were wooed by their Realtors picking them up in them in their Porsches or Bentleys, and the thought of being a property “flipper” made the average Joe feel like he was Donald Trump. I once had three clients in their early twenties come down to buy 2 properties – they had just finished reading one of Trump’s books and were referring to it as we went through the process. They split the two properties three ways, and I’m sad to say they are in the midst of foreclosing on both of them. Those boys had the best intentions, but probably shouldn’t of qualified for a Kia Rio at the time.

 

What an exciting couple of years it was! Within 4 years, I went from being a fitness instructor making $75k a year to a millionaire with 5 properties. It was crazy, I remember being so busy that I would forget about $15,000, $20,000 paychecks I had. Those were the days! We were young, rich and sexy! And we thought they were going to last forever! Or at least a little longer than it did.

 

There’s no question we were order takers. Anyone with a telephone and car could get their license and make a fortune. There were no skills required. Heck, many of the Realtors didn’t even know how to fill out the sales contract! Seriously, if there’s just one skill to learn, learn how to fill out the sales contract!

 

It’s unfortunate that most Realtors don’t treat their business like a business. Would you open up a Subway or start any other business with NO training? NO! Well, maybe you could, but I doubt you’d be in business longer than 6 months.

 

I remember one Realtor who sold one of my listings and let her client (who was not a licensed contractor) climb on the roof to inspect it. Hello? Can you say “liability!?” Thank goodness for her he didn’t slip and fall. Thank goodness for me that I didn’t know about it until after he was done and safely on the ground.

 

That’s not the best story though, not even close! Maybe tops on the list is the Realtor who was sound asleep on the couch of one of his open houses! Or no, maybe the couple who were doing a little “extra curricular” activities on the counter at a vacant house. I could go on and on….

 

So, fast forward to today. A large percentage of Realtors are not only out of the business, but are driving taxis, (we kind of already did that anyway), waitressing or doing odd jobs. Those homeowners that took equity out of their houses to go on trips or buy a Mercedes are now calling me to tell me to call them back today because their phone could be shut off tomorrow.

 

Of course I feel terrible and don’t wish anyone anything but success, but it was kind of something that we knew was inevitable. I remember sitting at a “lottery” to buy a house. Yes, you had to enter your name in a lottery to buy a home. And let me tell you, when people heard their name, you would of thought they actually won the real lottery! If only we knew then what we know now, “Hey, Buddy, what you really won is the right to pay $366,000 for a home that will be worth $230,000 in 3 years!” Congratulations!!

 

So, now, here we are in Naples; it’s still one of the most beautiful beaches in the country, it still has a lot of wealthy people, but it’s not feeling too hot and sexy for a lot of people. It’s a disappointment to see so many people fall on such hard times, especially after they were living like rock stars for a couple of years. But let’s hope this lesson is one that we can all learn from and use it to grow an even larger amount of wealth.

 

Next time, when the markets come back up (and they will) and you start making money hand over fist, maybe you shouldn’t go buy a Porsche or 3 investment properties in one year. Save first, invest, pay your taxes and THEN have some fun!

 

And their are plenty of Realtors still making great money. I sold 8 houses in 8 weeks in the middle of summer, which is one of the slowest times in Naples. It can be done, but you need to sharpen you skills. You need to go to continuing education classes, seminars and get some designations. No matter how bad the market is, there will always be people that need to buy or sell real estate and they will need a highly trained agent. Make yourself valuable – invest in improving yourself and your skills.

 

Let’s be thankful that we learned this lesson and hopefully we’re at an age that we can use it to our advantage for the future. Naples attracts celebrities, CEO’s and professional athletes. The people that can live anywhere in the world choose to live in Naples. So far in 2008, 462 homes have sold that are over $1,000,000 – 29 of those have been over $5,000,000. It’s still going strong and will continue to be one of the best places in the world to live. As far as I’m concerned, “sexy” never really left Naples.

How to Buy a Home That Is Being Sold by Owner

A FSBO Seller Will Want to Sell Quickly

While all home sellers want to get rid of their properties as quickly as possible (and, obviously, as close to the offering price as possible), the pressure is even greater on a person pursuing the homes For Sale by Owner approach to finalize a fast sale. By understanding the fact that a typical FSBO homeowner really wants to get the property sold, this will often provide a potential buyer with more room to negotiate.

The For Sale by Owner Seller is Saving Money by Having No Agent

Another thing to keep in mind when it comes to a homeowner not represented by an Real Estate agent is the fact that they will be saving at least some money by not having to pay an agent. While the FSBO homeowner obviously will want to pocket at last some of that savings, a wise homeowner will also know that this savings (or a part of it, at least) can be used as something of a bargaining chip when it comes to moving a sale along.

A potential home buyer understands that there is probably some wiggle room in the mind of the homeowner and seller that can be strategically exploited. In that regard, avoid coming on too strong and taking the tactic of “Look, there are no agent fees… you can afford to take a lower price.” Rather, by being subtle in the approach, it will achieve at least some success as a result of the savings that the seller will enjoy. As a FSBO buyer, subtly take advantage of the fact that the seller has already been considering the fact that he or she is not paying an agent as a tool to lower the offering price.

Get Pre-Approved for Financing

A huge concern of homeowners who are following the For Sale by Owner approach is that they will sign a contract and yet the closing will not occur because the potential buyer is not able to get financing. This is often not a concern, of course, amongst homeowners who have a home sale pending with real estate agents representing them. However, as a rule, this concern seems to be even more pronounced by FSBO home sellers.


Therefore, seek to ease a seller’s concerns (and perhaps even get some sort of price concession) by making an offer on a property that is for sale by owner and then demonstrate that the pre-approval has already been given for home mortgage financing. This will certainly get the attention and encourage the buying a house process to be completed faster.

Before buying any house, be certain to follow through with all the recommended steps. Have the inspections, do the title search, etc. It is possible that the FSBO home seller did not want to follow recommendations of the real estate agency in order to sell it. This will help to avoid any surprises later.

Buying the Perfect Dollhouse: Five Things to Consider

These top five things to consider before getting a dollhouse will give people interested in the hobby the knowledge to choose a dollhouse that will be perfect for them.

The Size of the Dollhouse

The room that is available to display the finished dollhouse may decide which size dollhouse to get. A person who has a large house with good-sized rooms will be able to display a larger model dollhouse with a bigger ‘footprint’ than someone who lives in a small apartment with limited sHalf scale or 1:24 scale is smaller and takes up less room.

  • Quarter scale or 1:48 scale is smaller again. Some people find this scale a bit fiddly to work with; others love it.
  • 1:144 scale is tiny, so small that the dollhouse will fit in the palm of a hand. These are perfect to display on a bookshelf or counter top.
  • A dollhouse that is one room wide and several storeys tall takes up less space than a more traditional house layout.
  • Consider what types of rooms and how many rooms are wanted in the dollhouse.

Types of Dollhouses

Dollhouses come as kits or ready built. The person’s skill level for constructing and decorating in miniature may decide which type of dollhouse to buy.

  • Dollhouse kits involve some construction techniques and cutting and gluing. With kits, all parts are included, including the doors, stairs and windows. Many dollhouse kits now have the wood laser cut to ensure straight lines and firm fitting. Paint and glue are not supplied. Painting and decorating both inside and outside will need to be done. Building a kitset dollhouse takes time.
  • Ready-built dollhouses come with all painting and decorating done. Windows, doors and stairs are fitted. Most readybuilt dollhouses are bought flat-packed for easy transportation. All that needs to be done is to screw all the parts together following the instructions. A ready-built dollhouse can be put together in an hour.
  • Scratch-built dollhouses are for the enthusiastic miniaturist who has woodworking skills and suitable power tools and can work from a plan. All parts of the dollhouse are cut and constructed.
  • For people who want a dollhouse but do not want to build or decorate, a commissioned dollhouse may be the best to buy. In this way, the customer gets exactly what they want in a finished dollhouse from a skilled craftsperson.

The Construction of Dollhouses

Dollhouses are usually made of wood. Various weights can be used. If a dollhouse needs to be transported often, a sturdier frame may be important. If it will moved from room to room in the owner’s house, a lighter style of construction may be more suitable.


  • MDF is heavy but very strong and sturdy. It is easy to paint. Take care when sanding to wear a mask and not inhale the dust.
  • Birch plywood is much lighter. It may need more work on sanding it to get a good finish.
  • Foamcore is lightweight foam sandwiched between sheets of card. It is very versatile, glues easily and is more suited to smaller dollshouses or room boxes.

The Cost of Dollhouses

Costs vary considerably between manufacturers. Time spent researching on the internet will give a good idea of comparative prices.

  • Commissioned dollhouses are the most expensive.
  • Ready-built dollhouses are the next most expensive but save time and effort if the hobbyists is not inclined towards working with wood.
  • Dollhouse kits are a reasonably priced option as all parts are included.
  • Scratch-built dollhouses are the cheapest. Often all that is needed is a plan, sheets of plywood, glue, paint and paper and the time to do it all.

Styles of Dollhouses

There are so many styles of dollhouses, from traditional looking houses to tree houses, from log cabins and fantasy themed houses to miniature shops.

American dollhouses are open at the back. English dollhouses are ‘box’ types with front doors that open out.

Victorian styled dollhouses are the most popular, probably because the Victorians liked to have lots of ‘things’ in their homes. So in a Victorian dollhouse, a wide variety of dollhouse accessories can be placed. English Tudor with its beams and rustic look is another popular style, as is the elegant Georgian.

The dollhouse enthusiast has a lot to think about when deciding on which dollhouse to have. Looking on the internet and going to dollhouse and miniatures fairs and shows are great ways of getting ideas. There are several magazines for the dollhouse and miniatures hobby that are full of inspiration.

Taking into consideration what has been learnt about the size, types, construction, cost and styles of dollhouses will help the enthusiast choose the perfect dollhouse.pace.

  • The most popular size for a dollhouse is in 1:12 scale, that is 1 inch equals 1 foot. Most of the dollhouse accessories and furniture to buy are in this scale.

 

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