The Best Way for Existing Homeowners to Handle the Downturn in the Real Estate Market


Whenever the housing market goes into a slowdown where either the fair market value of homes goes down or the inventory of unsold houses increases, it actually presents an opportunity for existing homeowners.

Except for life changing events, existing homeowners should stay put and wait it out until the housing market recovers. During this housing slump, it is simply an opportunity for existing homeowners to take a look at home improvement. It can be opting to make needed repairs, updating certain rooms in the house, or improving the landscape.


However, depending on the severity of the market contraction in your area, it is important not to over-improve the home where you can not recoup your investment for years to come. Some areas of the U.S. such as Florida have come down in the market value where you may not have much equity in your house.


It is a good idea to either get an appraisal or a free market analysis from a local real estate broker. Ask the appraiser to give you a value for the improvements you have in mind. Once you determine the present and future market value of your house, and conclude that you still have equity in the house, the next step is to decide what improvements or repairs should be done.


Doing the right kind of home improvement during a market slowdown will make the house more marketable as the market recovers and more than likely, will increase the value of the real property as well.


Kitchen and bathroom updates almost always recoup the cost of labor and materials. But there is a right way, and a wrong way to go about it. The type of counters, sinks and cabinetry may over-improve your kitchen compared to other properties in your neighborhood. The best strategy is to improve it where it stands out just a little bit better than the other kitchens in your neighborhood.


If one improves by first taking the neighborhood into account, kitchens usually return around 80 percent of your investment. Bathrooms return around 90 percent of your investment. There is even a much greater return if you can do some of the work yourself.


Paint remains one of the best investment improvements. While painting the same color throughout your home can seem plain or drab to some buyers it is still recommended to steer away from bold, dramatic colors that will not appeal to the average buyer. In order to do it right, remove paint chips, and repair cracks before painting.


Vinyl siding is long-lasting, resilient, and looks great. Vinyl siding is a good investment if most of the newer houses in your neighborhood have vinyl siding. Otherwise, it is best to repaint.


Updating windows with window replacements can be a good improvement. Window replacements are a type of window unit that fits into the frame of an existing window. It can be a do-it-yourself project. These replacements are better at keeping the heat in the winter, and cooler air in the summer thus saving energy costs. Windows made today are sealed tighter and often need less maintenance than older type windows. There is even a convenient way to clean the outside of these windows. This may be an expensive proposition if you hire someone to install the windows.


Concentrating on either small improvements such as painting or larger improvements such as kitchens during a housing market slump will give you the edge once there is a recovery in the housing market.


Know your legal rights and consumer rights before making any commitments.

Foreclosure Home: Tips for Buying Distressed Properties

When purchasing a foreclosure home it’s imperative to understand both the pros and cons of this type of real estate transaction. Perhaps the most noticeable con is the fact that most foreclosure homes are referred to as “distressed properties.” While you might be one of the fortunate few to locate a foreclosed house in perfect condition, more than likely you will need to engage in physical labor to get the property back in good condition.

Prior to embarking on the hunt for the perfect foreclosure home, experts suggest buyers obtain pre-qualified financing arrangements. Doing so let’s you know exactly how much money you can borrow and provides extra leverage when it comes time to make an offer.


There are four options available when it comes to investing in a foreclosure home:


  1. Hire a real estate firm to bid on distressed properties on your behalf
  2. Bid on property through a foreclosure auction
  3. Buy directly from the seller
  4. Work with an REO (real estate owned) specialist


For those who have never purchased a foreclosure home, it’s highly recommended to work with a Realtor or private real estate investor who specializes in foreclosure and bank owned (REO) properties. There are many pros in working with a foreclosure home specialist including greater bargaining power, reduced closing costs and lower purchase prices.


Realtors and REO specialists can help you locate foreclosure homes more quickly than if you search for them on your own. These individuals have access to nearly every foreclosure home in the area where you wish to reside or invest. They can also help you locate distressed properties in other cities, towns or states.


If you would rather go solo, be certain to thoroughly research the area where you plan to buy. Investigate the availability of public or private schools, average property values and the anticipated property value growth in the area.


Once you determine the ideal location, it’s time to compile your list of potential foreclosure homes. When working with a Realtor, your agent will arrange viewing appointments on your behalf. If you’re working alone, you will need to contact the seller to make an appointment.


When you visit potential properties, take along a pen and paper to make note of potential problems. It’s also a good idea to take along a camera or video recorder to document areas which will require repair or renovation.


Check the house from top to bottom and make note of any structural damage, plumbing and heating issues, termites, rodents and other common problems. The more problems you can find, the better your bargaining power, so take time to thoroughly investigate the foreclosure home before making an offer.


Keep in mind that investing in a low-priced foreclosure home might not be your best bet. If the house requires extensive renovation it can end up costing more than investing in a distressed property with a higher price tag, but requires fewer repairs. Be certain the “bargain” is truly a good deal or you could end up with a house that’s a money pit.


Last, but not least, conduct due diligence to determine if tax or credit liens are filed against the foreclosure home. Removing liens can become a legal nightmare that requires a great deal of time and money to resolve.

The Real Estate Bubble

The bubble has burst on the real estate market. Or, at least that is what the media keeps repeatedly telling us. On any given day you can tune into your local news channel, or even the national networks, and hear about the troubles of the real estate market.

And, yes, while many people are in trouble with the recent real estate developments, there is something that the media is neglecting to tell us. The government is repeatedly dropping interest rates, and with the property values declining, now is the perfect time to buy a home.


The old stock market adage is to buy low and sell high. The same remains true in real estate. When property values are at their lowest, it is the perfect time to buy. Property values historically have risen, and any decreases in value happen only for a short time before rebounding. For those that want to buy a home for themselves, it is a great time to take the plunge. In a few years, you are almost guaranteed equity.


For an investor, there are boundless opportunities. There are several areas of real estate which one can profit, but a few areas benefit greatly during real estate down times.



Property values are low as ever, and many homes can be picked up cheaply as bank repo’s or at foreclosure auctions. Banks are inundated with foreclosed properties, and are reselling them at very low prices just to get rid of them. Banks are in the business of money, not property. They want out of these foreclosures that are coming to them at alarming rates. Rental homes can picked up at a great discount, fixed up, and rented out. Remember, all these people that have lost their homes due to the mortgage crises will still need a place to live. These homes can later be resold, once property values have increased, for a handsome profit.



In real estate, this term means different things to different people. Essentially, a “wholesaler” finds properties that are fantastic deals, negotiates and gets them under contract, and then finds an investor to buy the home. A wholesaler never actually buys the property themselves; they find an investor to assign their contract to. Typically, this nets a wholesaler an average of $2,000 to $5,000 per property. The investor, usually a rehabber, that buys these homes is still getting a good deal, and didn’t have to do the legwork and negotiating themselves. With the shear number of foreclosures and bank owned properties out there, there are enough good deals out there. As long as you have a database of rehabbers to purchase from you, this is a great, and often easy, way to make some money.



Investors, who purchase distressed homes to fix up and sell, are known as “rehabbers”. They make a handsome profit on their investment, and contribute to beautifying our cities and towns. In a down market, rehabbers are subject to the same low prices as everyone else. This simply means, that they may be able to purchase at extreme low prices, but they will have to resell at low prices as well. However, there is still ample room to make a profit at rehabbing. With the current real estate crisis, a rehabber has more choices and opportunities out there than ever before. Beginning rehabbers working with limited funds, also have chances to purchase that they may not have had before. In this category, there are plenty of properties available.


So, yes, the bubble has burst in real estate, but instead of letting ourselves drown inside of it, let’s look at the opportunities that it has given us. Perhaps you have $50,000 in the bank to invest, and have always through that that wasn’t enough to buy a home to become a landlord, or to rehab. Now, that $50,000 will buy an awful lot more than it did 5 years ago, opening doors for more people.


Real estate is still the safest long term investment for your money. There are risks involved, sure, but the same holds true for the stock market. And, the stock market is much more volatile than real estate, despite what the news channels tell us. If you want to take your shot at profiting from the burst of the real estate bubble, start doing your homework. Talk with a Realtor. Talk with an accountant. Talk with a real estate attorney. Your bank account may be all the better for it down the road!

Cay Clubs Florida Keys Properties Hit the Auction Block April 17th

Cay Clubs’ properties in the Florida Keys are being auctioned off on April 17th. Cay Clubs jumped on the real estate bandwagon and lost their butt. So now is the time for you guys with a little common sense to benefit. A complete list of the properties is available on the Keynoter website.

The properties on 11th Street in Marathon should be particularly interesting for vacation home investors. While they are older homes, the waterfront ones have a great sunset view and good water for boaters. With current conditions, qualified buyers that want to enjoy their property should have a shot at a great deal.


In general, Keys real estate is getting back in line with normal prices. Most of the inflated pricing is gone. That doesn’t mean cheap just realistic prices. Based on a fifteen year curve, the prices are nearing normal increase in equity. Not that I am qualified to be a financial adviser, I just can read charts. So a long term investor can get back into the Keys real estate game now that the flippers are kaput.


The biggest question is if people without big capital can qualify for a reasonable loan. A 740 credit score is pretty solid, but doesn’t mean you qualify. The skittish bankers are balking at loans to guys with the best credit ratings. So if you want to play at the auction get your ducks in a row now. You are looking at a big chunk down and tough financing.


Anywho, the auction should be big doings in the Keys. If I am not fishing I may have to an eye witness report. Check out the Keynoter to times and the list of properties.


This article was submitted for non-payment because it may take weeks for Associated Content to publish the dang thing. Associated Content has not reviewed and does not endorse the views of this author.

5 Key Factors for Real Estate in 2008

Everyone wants to know what real estate prices are going to do in 2008. In 2007 the mortgage meltdown and over supply seemed to get worse with each month. Although everyone has there own opinion about the housing market in 2008 here are some key trends to watch out for.

First would be that long-standing debate of rent-or-buy. Tighter lending standards and higher prices may cause more people to rent for longer than they would like to. This will in turn possibly cause some of those houses that are now sitting on the market to be taken off the market and rented out. The good news for renters is that with so many properties being offered for rent, the renter can pick and choose which rental is right for them.


The second key factor goes right along with the first. With so many renters and so many rental homes it seems obvious that most owners will be spending the majority of their money on home improvement. Quiet suburbs and apartment buildings with many amenities with flourish in 2008. Owners will be doing all they can to entice renters. With the baby boomers wanting to downsize and the generation Y kids needing new rentals, the rental market should flourish.


The next key factor deals with what types of improvements we will see in rental properties. Green is in; the environmentally conscious Y generation wants environmentally friendly homes. Solar water heaters, energy-efficient heating and air conditioners, and Xeriscape Landscaping will be very popular features added to most rentals. Green environmentally friendly rentals homes are defiantly the rage in 2008.


Along with have an environmentally friendly home most people are leaning towards technology friendly homes as well. Most fast paced lifestyles require cutting edge systems that easily integrate technology into the home. Smart House technology was once reserved for the custom home market but is now appealing to a wider audience. Technology is nothing new but with all of the new advances it is natural that people want to integrate them into their homes. A rise in Smart House technology makes any technological improvements a selling point for any renter or buyer.


Last but not least is simplicity. With the currents trends in Smart House technology and Green buildings, which are all designed to make our lives easier, it stands to reason that simplicity is in. High rises and condominiums will defiantly be on the rise in 2008. They combine all the technology and environmentally friendly features without all the hassle.


No one knows if the real estate market is going to make a come back in 2008 but by looking at these trends it seems that renting may be the in thing for awhile. Environmental and Technological improvements to existing houses may be the way to go. While renting out your high-rise or condo rather than trying to sell may be your best bet with the current market. Trends change but there will always be a need for rental properties.

Corporate Businesses Sharing Expensive Real Estate Space

if you live in New York City and other big cities across the nation where real estate is expensive and areas are densely populated, you have a good idea of how hard it is to maintain a certain level of profit if you are a business owner. Corporate businesses like Subway, Pizza Hut, Dominos, McDonalds, etc. have recognized this problem as well. In certain areas of Manhattan, where real estate is the most expensive, corporate businesses have teamed together to share store space.

This occurrence is very popular in Penn. Station near Madison Square Garden in Manhattan as well as areas in Times Square in Manhattan. You see all different kinds of corporate combinations sharing space such as Papa Johns- Subway, Baskin Robbins- Taco Bell, Starbucks- Dominos, etc.


This new trend makes great financial sense for corporate business owners. In Penn Station, hundreds of thousands of people have to pass through each day and the amount of revenue that stores in Penn Station take in every day is astronomical. So too is the amount of rent that business owners have to pay in order to get even the smallest of areas in Penn Station. Almost every store property area is shared by 2 or more corporate businesses. The businesses who share space also share seating area for customers. By sharing expensive real estate area, corporate businesses are maximizing their profits.


Corporate sharing of real estate also makes customers happy because it gives them more options when choosing what to eat and what to buy. Since there are hundreds of thousands of potential customers, there really isn’t any competition for customers in areas like Penn Station or Times Square. As long as businesses grouped together aren’t directly competing against each other like McDonalds and Burger King or Pizza Hut and Papa Johns, the arrangement is profitable for both companies.


To give you a better idea of the high real estate values, I once saw a monthly rent in Penn Station for a very small store area valued at $10,000. Prior to the sharing of store space, single businesses often closed after a few months because they could not afford the high rent costs, plus the money needed to pay employees and the daily costs of running the business. Once the first corporate business teamed up with another, the trend rose quickly as business owners became giddy at the prospect of more than doubling their monthly profits.


In addition, customer satisfaction has also increased because prices have dropped since the cost of rent is split. Since prices have been lowered, more customers are buying from those stores which further increases business profits.

How to Buy Foreclosure Real Estate Without Going Broke or Getting Ripped Off

The real estate market as a whole is simply not where it used to be. Many of the hyper-inflated prices have dropped down to more reasonable levels after speculative investors realized they would not be seeing double digit returns on their real estate investments year over year. The demand for homes dropped dramatically and many people began to find that they couldn’t sell their homes, even in situations where they could not afford to keep their homes, causing a larger number of foreclosures than in recent history. This has created opportunity for home buyers to get potential bargains by purchasing foreclosed properties as their next homes rather than homes being retailed.

Many people buy foreclosed homes wrong and get themselves in financial trouble because they do it without any experience or insight. They buy homes in pre-foreclosure or on the courthouse steps. They don’t have a good idea of what they’re buying and often get a lot more than they bargained for. The home might not be in good condition when they take ownership of it or they might buy it and end up being responsible for any other debts held against the home, such as a second mortgage. When the buyer has to pay other liabilities on the home off, they end up paying more than they would if they had purchased a new home on the open market! Leave buying homes in pre-foreclosure and on the courthouse steps to the professionals!


Some companies will try to sell you a list of foreclosure properties in your neighborhood, but this is publically available information! The best way to buy a foreclosed home if you’re not an experience real estate professional is to work through the department of housing and urban development and proceed very carefully, slowly, and with a lot of research. If you visit HUD’s website at, you’ll be able to see a complete listing of foreclosed homes that they have available for sale. Some will be through the IRS, others through the Department of Agriculture, the SBA, the Customs Department, or the US Army Corps of Engineers. Each of these departments have different processes for selling foreclosed homes, so you’ll have to learn the process to purchase a home from the agency that holds the home you wish to purchase.


Buying a foreclosed home certainly comes with risk, but there are also some great opportunities to get a lot more real estate than you could have otherwise been able to afford.

How to Sell Your Home in a Cooling Real Estate Market

For a long time the real estate market had been booming. Houses were sold quickly, often within days and way above their actual value, and oftentimes regardless of their overall condition. However, now the market has cooled down and houses have been observed being on the market for months. Prices are down compared to the previous years and they are predicted to go down even further. The real estate market has turned from a sellers’ into a buyers’ market. Buyers now have plenty of houses to choose from and time to make a decision based on price and overall condition of the house. In such a type of market, what is the best strategy to sell a house and getting the right price for it?

The most important factor right now is the price. With so many houses on the market, the price has to be right to sell a house quickly. While determining the proper price for your house, you will have to keep in mind, a house priced too high will be on the market longer. The longer it is on the market, the harder it is to sell the house. Buyers just automatically assume there is something wrong with it. As a consequence, a seller will end up lowering the price the longer the house is on the market, sometimes even ending up with a selling price lower than the value of the house and way below what they actually wanted. Conversely, if a house is in the right price range, it will attract more prospective buyers, and the price might be driven up by their bids.


But how do you go about setting the right price to sell your house? A first step is to look around the neighborhood. Houses of similar size, what did they sell for? In order to sell your house, this would be the right price range to start from, because that is what buyers are willing to pay in your neighborhood. Unfortunately, this price might be below the price you might have bought your house for, if you purchased it while the real estate market was still hot. In order to sell the house quickly, you might have to cut your losses and move on.


Your second step in the price determination has to be an objective evaluation of your home. This will be the hardest step, because what you treasure as a fixture of your home, might not be valued by the general market. If you have extras like a hot tub or a pool, you might be able to up your asking price. However, if you have an outdated kitchen that has not been renovated for twenty years, you might have to lower your price. Buyers always factor in potential renovation costs.


Once you have set the price you should spruce up your house for sale. The first impression potential buyers will get of your house is the outside. Curb appeal is very important. Some buyers don’t even check out the inside of the house, if they don’t like what they see on the outside. The assumption is, what looks run down and not taken care of on the outside, will look similarly on the inside. Get your landscaping in order. It should be inviting and show off the house. You might have to trim down or even remove shrubs. Plant some flowers or at least put out some potted ones to create an overall friendlier appearance. Lastly, your house might need a paint job.


Don’t be afraid to tackle some renovations. The right ones pay for themselves and then some, when you sell the house. Painting the house inside and out, putting in new carpet, something like that is easily done. Yes, there are costs involved in doing this, but an updated looking house can command a much higher price, often more than double the cost of the renovation. Extra bathrooms are also a good selling point.


However, even if you don’t want to tackle a renovation project, you should definitely make sure, everything is functioning properly and the house is not damaged. Have an inspector or contractor go over your house in great detail to make sure you know what needs to be fixed. For example, if the A/C or heater does not work, windows don’t easily open, or the house looks in any way neglected or has a hint of potential problems, buyers will shy away from it. Renovations and repairs might delay your quest of selling your house, but it will be worth the time in much greater monetary returns at the time of sale. If you want to sell your house ‘as is’ because you don’t have time for repairs, be prepared to drop your asking price. This can mean a significant drop, depending on the condition of the house.


Lastly, stage your house. It is very important to remove clutter, even excess furniture. The less is in the house the roomier it will look. Rent a storage unit or ask a friend or relative, if you can store some items at their house. Similarly, remove personal mementos from your home. The buyer should see him- or herself living in the home. Family pictures, personal awards and the like can draw away from that. Furthermore, keep your house clean and cleaned up looking at all times. If you have potential buyers come over, your house needs to look spic and span. An unkempt look of the interior of your house translates into bad overall maintenance of the house in the eyes of a potential buyer. Also make sure your house smells fresh by airing it out frequently. You might even want to add some fresh flowers to make it look more inviting.


Proper advertising of your home is also important. Make sure your house is advertised in the local newspapers and online. For the online advertisement, make sure you post plenty of pictures of the outside and inside. Nowadays, a lot of buyers check out houses on the Internet first before making the way out for a closer look at one they might like.

Rural Property: Finding and Purchasing the Ideal Piece of Country Land


Four years ago my husband and I took the plunge and purchased the mountain land we had been dreaming about for years. With careful thought and planning, we are now the proud owners of our retirement homesite. The process was long and tedious, but we knew we couldn’t afford to get it wrong. Although it is only 2.5 acres, it is big enough for the garden I want, but small enough not to be too overwhelming to mow. We have a high flat area for our home, a wonderful spring and a small river that runs through the bottom of the property and are only 4 miles from the Blue Ridge parkway. We chose southwestern Virginia for its mild climate that also allows for the change of seasons.

Please give careful consideration to several important key factors before jumping head first into your dream. Otherwise, it could potentially turn into your worst nightmare. I have covered the top 5 areas you should research before you purchase, or even seriously look into any piece of property.


  1. Location, location, location! IF you already have a really good idea of where you want to buy your rural property, that’s great, but if you don’t, then you really need to get this right. Are you longing for the mountains, prairies, foothills, coastal or maybe even lakefront property? Consider what the area you choose will be like during every season.


If you choose the mountains in a northern climate, can you stand being snowed in for possibly weeks or months? If you head towards the coast are you willing to risk enduring a hurricane? How far do you want to be from “civilization?” Can you access electricity easily, or will you have to have solar power or another alternative? What will the resale value be like if misfortune hits and you are forced to sell? Being within a few hours of a large city increases your real estate pool of potential buyers who may want a summer place within an easy drive.


  1. Acreage: How much land will you need? Buying too much land can almost be as bad as not buying enough. If you are intending to homestead or keep large animals, then obviously you will need much more property than if you are like me, and just want a decent sized garden for personal use. Keep in mind however any future uses you may want to incorporate into your dream property so you don’t run out of room.


  1. Special features: What do you want your property to do for you and how do you intend to use it? What natural resources are a must have on your property? Water, of course is a given, but in what form do want your water to come in? Obviously, at the very least you will need a fresh water source for drinking. This can be a spring or a well, but it is imperative that you find out before purchasing how difficult and expensive getting an adequate well dug will be. Is having a creek, pond or river on the property important to you? How wooded is it, and how expensive and difficult will it be to clear the land for not only a homesite, but a garden? If a wonderful mountain top view is high on your priority list, will it be worth it come winter when the road to your property turns treacherous?


  1. Timing: Just like the stock market, the real estate market rises and falls. If possible, time your hunt during a time when the market has a glut of property and the ball is more in the buyers court. You also need to consider how long it will be before you will be making actual use of the property. OUr property came with an old trailer and cleared land, and because we won’t be moving there for quite some time, we have to maintain some upkeep there, which isn’t easy to do from 6 hours away. We were lucky enough to find a farmer who was willing to bushhog our little piece of paradise for next to nothing several times a year in exchange for the right to hunt deer on our land.


  1. Price: Everybody now seems to have the “I want what I want right now” mindset. You should only be seriously pursuing your land ownership dream if you can truly afford it. If you are living paycheck to paycheck, then this isn’t the time for you. IF you are going to be making rent or a mortgage payment along with your land payment, then you better have your financial house in really good order. Ideally, saving up and paying cash would be the optimal way to buy your dream property, but I know realistically, that isn’t going to happen with most people. At the very least, you need to have enough of a down payment available so that if you need to resell your property, you can easily get enough money out of it to cover your loan. Also, as previously stated, don’t buy more land than you need. Lastly, shop around! Don’t fall in love with the first piece of land you see. Get to know the area and what is available in your price range.


Buying your dream property doesn’t have to be out of reach if you do your research, plan carefully and keep realistic expectations.

How to Do Really Well as a Real Estate Brokerage?

Whether it is leasing or selling, a real estate brokerage firm needs three (3) parties to close a real estate agency deal, namely:

1) a client;

2) a customer; and

3) a marketing assistant (sales associate, sales agent, Negotiator or an equivalent name in your country).

Your Client is the party that engages your brokerage firm to represent him to sell, to let-out or to lease his property and is therefore responsible to pay your firm its brokerage/agency fee, commission and/or retainer. In some countries, the clients, by norm, are the property landlords or owners; while in others, the property tenants or buyers – however, in all cases, the Client – by law – is the party that engages and pays the brokerage upon successful “introduction” of a customer for the Client’s property.


Your Customer is the party who uses the services of your firm which has been engaged by the other party known as the Client or the broker’s principal. The customer does not pay you any fee, commission or retainer. However, in most countries, the professional rules of estate agency practice allow the broker to be reimbursed such expenses as may be incurred in serving the customers e.g. transportation charges to see properties and the likes.


The Owner or proprietor of a real estate brokerage firm cannot be personally serving all its firm’s clients and customers all the time. So, the firm must employ trained marketing assistants to assist the brokerage in closing deals. These marketing assistants are designated different names in different countries. In all cases, they assist the brokerage to close deals and are paid commission and/or allowances for doing so.


To do really well, a real estate brokerage firm must be good in two (2) fundamental areas:

1) The leasing  amp; selling skills of its marketing staff;

2) The recruitment, training and retention of good marketing assistants.


And, these two (2) areas require seven (7) core skills:

1) Prospecting – clients, customers and marketing staff;

2) Qualifying them;

3) Preparation to deal with them;

4) Presentation to them;

5) Closing – a real estate deal or a recruitment exercise;

6) After-deal services / Post-recruitment trainings and motivation;

7) Pre-empting and overcoming objections at all the above six (6) stages.


If a real estate brokerage excels in all the above seven (7) core skills, its Clients, Customers and staff will be consistently happy with the firm and its services.


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