How a Foreign National Can Buy Real Estate in America

Opportunities for real estate investment for foreigners is wide and varied in the United States. It doesn’t matter where you’re from and what currency you’d be using to purchase a property, you have a property waiting for you.

There are generally three kinds of real estate investment available to foreigners. These investments include the commercial estate investment and residential property investment. Residential properties are further classified into single family properties, apartments or condominiums and recreational properties. Regardless of what kind of real estate you are interested in, there are all sorts of tax ramifications, financing options and legal requirements that you have to deal with.

Why Should You Invest in the U.S. Real Estate Market?

You’ve probably heard of the increasing number of foreign real estate investments in the United States. This is not surprising. With the troubles that the real estate investment market is facing in the United States, greater opportunities in real estate investment were opened to foreign investors.

With the dollar’s value in its all time low, foreign investors are finding real estate bargains all over the United States. There are no shortages of deals in this market. More and more distressed properties are being sold everywhere and foreigners are pouring in millions buying these foreclosed or distressed properties. The United States real estate has become a fairly attractive long-term investment for foreign investors.

In November of 2006, the National Association of Realtors released a report entitled “Foreign Investments in U.S Real Estate: Current Trends and Historical Perspective”. The report showed that there has been a steady increase in foreign real estate investment in the United States. This is especially after the euro and the loonie became stronger in the face of the continuous devaluation of the US dollar. Prime bargains were opened to foreigners. Many foreigners have now looked into the possibility of retiring or settling in the United States.

If you’re a foreigner, you would find a lot of reasons why you should invest in the United States real estate market. Aside from the fact that the floating exchange rate has given you a lot of leverage over the bargaining table, the financial market is a pretty good reason why you should invest in the US real estate.

The financial market in the United States in relation to the real estate market is quite liberal and the restrictions against foreign investors are pretty reasonable. This is ideal for foreign companies that are seeking to invest in the real estate market in the United States in order to avoid tariff restrictions and are considering setting up an office or a company in the United States.

Furthermore, despite the devaluation of the US dollar and the wide foreclosures of a lot of property, the real estate market remains to be stable, though slightly shaky, due to foreign investors’ capital appreciation. Domestic real estate buyers may not necessarily share the same opinion, but the market has remained to be strong for foreign real estate buyers. This may be largely credited to the fact that there is minimal risk for them.

Why are Foreign Real Estate Investments Safe and Profitable?

There are a lot of investments you can make, but the safest you can make right now is investing your money in real properties. This is another good reason aside from the fact that you can make a pretty nifty profit, if you like, particularly now with the widespread property foreclosures and seemingly continuous US dollar devaluation. This is especially true if you are going to use the euro or the loonie when making your investment.

But why is US real estate investment safe for foreigners?

It is undeniable that stock investments are not a safe avenue at this point. The recession has not only affected the US economy; the same recession has greatly affected worldwide stock investments. Stocks values are dropping. It is also a fact that even without the current economic situation, stock values fluctuates.

On the other hand, real estate investments are pretty stable if you would compare it to stock investments – or even bond or mutual fund investments. With real estate investment, you’d be putting your money in an investment that would grow in value as years go by.

What are the Benefits of Foreign Real Estate Investment?

US state government supports foreign investments and along this line has formulated various tax breaks to encourage foreign investment on real estate. Many of these tax breaks are not available in many countries. In fact, most countries would frown at foreigners owning real properties within their territory.

Foreign real estate investment in the United States is open to everyone. As long as you can afford to buy the property or at least comply with the mortgage requirements and payments, you can secure for yourself a pretty good property in the United States. Again, with the current economic situation of the United States, this is the perfect chance for you to make an investment.

Another great benefit that you can take advantage of is the availability of mortgage financing. Lenders have opened their doors to foreign investors who are looking into purchasing a property. So, you don’t have to actually deplete your bank account. You can actually secure a mortgage loan and gradually pay it off.

I’m Canadian, What Are My Financing Options?

There is a steady increasing rate of Canadian real estate investors in the United States; and accordingly, the government has made certain that they have attractive financing options available to them.

If you’re Canadian – or if you’re a foreigner – you’d find a lot of reasons why you should buy a piece of real property in the United States. For Canadians, the parity of the currencies or the apparent devaluation of the US dollar is a pretty good reason itself. But how do you finance your purchase?

There are various financing options available to you depending on which state you are in. In Arizona, for instance, you’d get favorable financing terms if you are purchasing a property for recreational purposes, that is, you do not derive any income or benefit from your purchase or ownership. You will be required, however, to sign up a disclosure agreement and give a 30% down payment for your loan. To qualify though for a loan, you may be required to show availability of liquid reserves for a period of three to six months. You may also be required to present a minimum of 3-month bank statement.

If you are purchasing a property for investment, you’d probably meet stricter terms. Requirements may be more stringent. For instance, you could be required to give a down payment of more than 30% and you may be required to show one year worth of liquidity reserves.

Regardless of your reasons, if you feel like you can fulfill the requirements of a financing loan, you can then proceed to actually applying for a mortgage loan. Also, keeping yourself updated with the financing terms flux may be a wise idea.

Understanding the Tax Ramifications of Real Estate Investment

The first foreigner to have ever bought a real estate property in the United States was Peter Minuit. This opened the doors to foreign real estate investors. After a couple of centuries later, foreign real estate investment has grown into huge proportions, accounting for billion-of-dollar worth of industry.

The low risk attached to US real estate market, the availability of countless properties, and the steady market liquidity attract foreign investors in droves. The initial snag, however, is the process of understanding the legal ramifications of foreign real estate investment.

What you have to understand is that foreign investment in the United States can take a lot of forms. A foreigner has various options. He can acquire direct interest. He can acquire an interest in the real estate through a partnership, a corporation, or a limited liability company. The latter is the typical structure used by foreign investors.

Limited partnership or Limited Liability Company offers financial protection or indirect asset protection, especially in cases of bankruptcy, law suits and taxes. Foreign investors are generally taxed on the property as if they hold the property in direct interest.

Ideally, you should secure the services of a real estate accountant to help you out with the tax ramifications, but it would help if you, at least, know the basics before you actually talk to an accountant.

There are tax consequences that you have to deal with when you buy a real estate in the United States. You would need an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number which you will use with all your tax transactions. Your investment in real estates can be treated as a portfolio investment and will be accounted for as an investment income which can either be fixed or a periodic income. This is typically taxed at 30% on gross revenues. This tax though does not apply though to all foreign investors. Tax rates would vary depending on the tax personality the foreign investor opted for. For instance, a corporation would be taxed differently.

Other things that you should take note of are availability and requirements of tax refunds and state tax laws on real estate properties as they may differ from federal laws, among other things.

By knowing all these things, you may save yourself from a lot of hassles when you finally approach a real estate accountant. You’d be in same wavelength when you finally get down to talking business. It is, however, very important that you secure the services of an accountant. You’d have an easier time dealing with the taxes ramifications. You’d also have assistance ensuring that you comply with all the accounting aspect of your investment. This is especially true if you are purchasing a real property for investment purposes.

Do You Need to Secure the Service of a Real Estate Lawyer?

If you are considering buying a property in the United States, you need to secure the services of a real estate attorney – someone who could help you with the legal issues concerning your purchase. It is tempting to forego securing the service of a lawyer to save money, but this could cost you a lot of money in the long run. Make sure that you have an experienced and trustworthy lawyer to help you out. Make sure that you have thoroughly checked out his credentials, profile, history of successful cases handled by him, and other factors that would influence your decision. You could check online and look for a lawyer working within the state where you are considering purchasing a property.

Functions of a Real Estate Lawyer

There is no actual distinctive function for a lawyer in a real estate case. However, you would really need the assistance of a lawyer for various tasks. A real estate lawyer would review the sales contract for you. He would also check on the title and other documents relating to the property. A lawyer would also review your mortgage contract and make the necessary adjustments or corrections. You could also get him to review with you the legal and tax issues concerning the purchase. A real estate attorney could also make the necessary adjustments relating to various expenses and costs involved in the purchase. He would assess your eligibility for tax refunds and draft the documents and statements relating to this.

Putting it simply, a real estate lawyer will be your watchdog. He would guide you through the whole process of purchasing a real estate in the United States in order to make sure that you will be legally protected. You will have a capable and trustworthy liaison to help you out with the contract. He will also face legal disputes if any arise.

Tips on How to Invest in Real Estate Successfully

Now, if you’ve fully bought into the idea of real estate investing in the United States, you might just want to know how to go about investing in real estate successfully. If you want to be successful in this venture, the first thing that you have to avoid is overanalyzing. Of course, it is a good idea to carefully think through your actions but it is a bad idea to overanalyze your investment to nonexistence. You might lose a great opportunity.

Before you purchase the property though, it might be wise to check the property value. If it sits well with you and you can reasonably afford the property, go ahead and make the purchase.

If you are considering the property for a quick flip, make sure that the property is in perfect condition and in good area. This is to ensure that you could double or actually triple your return of investment. If you can inspect the property yourself, do so. If not, a good and trustworthy agent can help you with this task.

Another important thing to remember when you’re buying real estate is good financing. You should take your time to carefully consider all your financing options. Foreign investors can email in their queries to various lending institutions. It is a good idea to make sure that you’ve had their terms and rates on paper because they tend to change these terms and charge you with a lot of junk. Your real estate agent can help you with reviewing the escrow charges.

The bottom line, however, is that it is very important that you do your homework before you actually buy a real property. Investing in real properties in the United States can be profitable especially during these times. In fact, it may be the wisest and most perfect investment you can make right now.

Beat the Crowd When Investing in Real Estate

We all are thinking about it and some of us are actually taking action and getting their hands on real estate investment properties. The longer the NY Stock Exchanges doesn’t produce desirable returns the more people are starting with real estate investments.

For most of us the obvious choice of properties are single family homes. Although you can invest in real estate without owning a home, most people follow the experience they made while purchasing their own home. This is familiar ground and the learning curve for doing a real estate deal of this type is pretty slim.

Of course there’s a drawback with this approach. The competition is fierce and there are markets where investors are artificially driving up the cost of the properties while completely discouraging first time home buyers. If this is the case, the burst of the real estate bubble is just a matter of time.

How do you avoid these situations and still successfully invest in real estate? How do you get ahead of the competition and be prepared for bad times in real estate investments as well? The only answer I have is commercial real estate.

Why commercial real estate you might ask? Commercial real estate is a solid investment in good and bad times of the local real estate market. The commercial real estate I’m referring to are multi unit apartment buildings.

Yes you will become a landlord and No you don’t have to do the work by yourself. You are the owner and not the manager of the apartment building. The cost of owning and managing the building is part of your expenses and will be covered by the rent income.

Apartment buildings are considered commercial real estate if there are 5 or more units. To make the numbers work you should consider to either own multiple small apartment buildings or you should opt for bigger buildings. This will keep the expense to income ratio at a positive cash flow. Owning rental properties is all about positive cash flow.

With investing in single family homes it is easy to achieve positive cash flow. Even if your rent income doesn’t cover your expenses 100%, the appreciation of the house will contribute to the positive cash flow. With commercial real estate the rules are different.

While single family homes are appraised by the value of recent sales of similar homes in your neighborhood, commercial real estate doesn’t care about the value appreciation of other buildings. The value of the property is solely based on the rent income. To increase the value of a commercial real estate you need to find a way to increase the rent income. The formula on how this is calculated would be too much for this short article. I listed a few very helpful books where you can find all the details.

What’s another advantage to invest in commercial real estate? Commercial real estate financing is completely different than financing a single family home. While financing a single family home you are at the mercy of lenders who want to make sure that you are in the position to pay for the house with your personal income. Commercial real estate financing is based in the properties ability to produce positive cash flow and to cover the financing cost.

After reading all these information about commercial real estate you want to go out there and dive into the deals. Not so fast. First, you need to learn as much about real estate as possible. In commercial real estate you’re dealing with professionals. If you come across too much as a newbie you will waste these guys’s time and your commercial real estate career ended before it actually started. Second, no commercial real estate lender will lend you any money if you can’t show at least a little bit of real estate investment experience.

What’s the solution to this? Go out there and do one or two single family home deals yourself. It doesn’t matter if you make huge profits to start off with. Most newbie investors are losing money on their first deal anyway. If you can manage to show positive cash flow with your single family home deals you are ahead of the pack.

My advice, buy a small single family home in a decent neighborhood and rent it immediately. This will keep your out of the pocket expenses at a minimum and you will have rent income to cover for your monthly expenses. Bonus, you gain experience as an investor and as a landlord.

Here’s another observation I made during my real estate investment career. Most people like to analyze, learn, discuss and analyze some more. They never actually got to do a real estate deal. They love to talk about real estate investments, but never did it themselves.

My approach to real estate investment was simple.

– I bought some books about real estate investment.

– I read every single one of them.

– I put together a simple plan on how I want to get started.

– I started looking for properties.

– I bought my first investment property 30 days after I started reading my first book.

– I made positive cash flow with all of my properties so far.

What is my point? You have to go out there and practice what you’ve learned. The only valid credential in the real estate business is practical experience. Having a couple of deals under your belt, you can go out there and start looking at commercial real estate and even impress seasoned investors with your knowledge. Because you made this experience by yourself and you know what you’re talking about.

Real Estate Stories that Show You How!

Let’s begin easing you out of the pits. I mean, comfort zone! I’m going to slowly and methodically give you as many little sparks and insights to the relatively simple ways that ordinary people use real estate to achieve extraordinary results.

Stories are the best spark plugs. They let you casually observe from a safe, secure and understandable view point. I will write to answer most of the questions that I feel I myself would ask if I was reading what you are about to read.

I want you to know something from the very start of this report and that something is this: I care about you and I sincerely mean that. I really do want you to move to a new comfort zone, one that is pleasurable and free from fear. A place where you realize you have the power to achieve greater things than you currently can imagine.

It’s possible for you to start being a more powerfully directed purpose-driven individual who is well organized and on track to higher achievement. You will change and grow, slowly and steadily with every page you read. With every thought and insight you gain, your desire and courage will grow as well.

Napoleon Hill wrote one of the greatest books of all time. It’s called “Think and Grow Rich.” The essence of that book, the secret it reveals time and again is this: you must develop a burning desire.

Don’t put this book down thinking the previous statement is cliché and that you already knew that! I am simply leading you to my next point, the next point being is – your desire needs a starting point. So to start developing desire, my secret is you must have a purpose. Why do you want to pursue real estate? I know what you’re thinking: to make money, to have security, to feel useful and appear successful. Good points. I agree you can have all of that and more if that is what you desire.

Now here is something that comes before any of those things you desire. What is the purpose of all those things? Purpose, purpose, purpose…you need to first define purpose before you get the things. My purpose, or so I thought early in my career, was to move up to a nicer house and have my first house become my first rental property. When I moved up to the next one, I quickly learned as soon as I rented it out, I was in some way responsible for creating happiness and security in the life of another person that was of no relation to me.

It soon was evident to me how the choices I made in choosing that first property either would help me or hurt me in my quest to succeed in the real estate investment business.

All of it is cumulative, everything you do and how you do it adds up. It compounds itself and it either makes your life easier or more difficult. I am going to give you experiences that you can learn from that will make your life easier; I am going to show you how. That is my purpose.

The book that gave me the unknowing courage to take my first steps in real estate was a book called “How I Turned $1000 into $3 Million in real estate in my spare time” by William Nickerson. He was a master storyteller and by osmosis, after reading his book, I found myself gravitating towards the real estate classified section of my Sunday paper.

Eventually I leapt and my life had changed. It was an FHA foreclosure, a two-bedroom, one-bath home with a built-in, screened-in pool, with a Jacuzzi and a built-in sprinkler system. I bought it for $46,000 and used the HUD 203K rehab program to fix it up. I spent $16,000 to update and make repairs. They then gave me one loan for a total of $62,000. It took me three months to complete it and I was in; I had done it!

My life changed, I learned, I took the leap. From then on I had confidence. I had already had my first home but now I had two. Well, I was in the Coast Guard and wouldn’t you know, three months later we moved. Uncle Sam took me out of St. Petersburg, Florida and dropped me in Kodiak, Alaska, for my next tour of duty.

Well guess what? I was armed with ambition, courage, confidence and just enough knowledge to be considered dangerous, so I bought a duplex as soon as I came ashore on Kodiak Island. Now I had three dwellings and my relationships and responsibilities were growing with my new tenants counting on me to provide a clean, functional and pleasing environment for them to exist in.

It looked like this: My mother rented my first house and an elderly couple rented the second one and my duplex came with an existing tenant who was a hospital administrator, so I was lucky. I was able to ease myself into the role of landlord without getting burned early in my career. I now had two houses and a duplex in the span of about one year. My brothers and some other family members took notice and were pretty well dumbfounded.

They couldn’t figure out how I had, all of a sudden, become a real estate wizard.

It felt good to make that change in so short a time.

I got that from reading a book! And that my friend is how you are going to do the majority of everything you do in real estate, by reading and taking steps towards duplicating the success of others in a repeatable pattern. The key is to understand that you can do it if you read the right books and apply the very basic formulas that are handed to you.
There lies in: Magic Bullets in Real Estate

This is a common man or woman’s real estate manual. William Nickerson never gave me anything so easy as “Magic Bullets!” So I learned trial by fire and it has been very gratifying. I’ve since went on to collect 17 properties, 23 tenants, 2 real estate licenses in Florida and Alaska, an assistant appraiser’s certificate and over a hundred books on real estate. I just kept learning and growing and gaining momentum for the last 13 years. I am still in the Coast Guard, too, and I work at Alaska One Realty in my spare time. In two more years, I will be retired at the ripe old age of 42. Sounds like a sort of fairytale, doesn’t it? Don’t let me fool you. It’s hard work and I’m still not a millionaire, but I want you to have the truth, so I will be honest with you every step of the way.

I know why I am not a millionaire and here is why. I would periodically sell property that was going up in value and paying for itself through the rent checks. But being in the Coast Guard would dislocate me every four years, so I found myself selling out in order to avoid being what is called “an absentee landlord.”

This is an important lesson for you. It has prevented me from becoming a millionaire up to this point. The lesson is: find an area on this planet that you could and will live in, and stay close to it. Don’t move more than 10 miles from your farm area. The farm area is where all your properties are located. Long distance “land lording” is tough! It can be done but you lose the ability to control the situation compared to if you were there. I’ve served my country and saved people’s lives, so for me it has not been in vain. I have no regrets but if you don’t have to leave your area of expertise, don’t!

The networks you build and the contacts you build, in the process of “doing” real estate, are so valuable that when they are no longer at your disposal, it puts you at a serious disadvantage.

Not to mention when you move you have to acclimate yourself to an entirely different market, build new trust-based relationships and start all over again. It’s like a treadmill you’ll be running and running, however it gets you nowhere.

I’ve used it to my advantage. I have been forced to accelerate my abilities to rapidly duplicate my success whenever I am moved, but it is still an uphill battle. My point: Don’t move too far from your farm or your network of bankers, appraisers, carpenters, tradesman, real estate, friends, tenants and so on. Once you have the skill you can duplicate your success anywhere you go but if you don’t have to go…enough said on that!

I like to say, “Don’t sell the goose to get the eggs.” What that means is if you need money to buy more property, use equity lines from other property to do it. You will get the same amount of money or more by using an equity line as if you sold it. However, you get to keep the asset and the money! I go into this in “Magic Bullets,” so I won’t drone on here. Just know you don’t have to sell your property to get the cash out of them.

So here we are. You know a little bit about me and you may have picked up a nugget or two. Let’s find a few more.

There once was a man who wanted to buy some investment property, so what he did was look at growth patterns. You should do this too, by going to your city’s planning and zoning department. You can see growth patterns and you definitely want to buy property that stands in the way of growth.

This is how he used what he learned. He saw that city planners had decided that a new artery (highway) would benefit their city by creating linkage to another city about 100 miles away, so being a smart investor he only went as far as a ten mile limit to be able to be close to his investment.

Now on average, new growth will radiate out from existing prosperous cities in the direction it is planned at a rate of about one mile per year. So our smart investor had a 10 – 12 year plan to cash out in about 10 – 12 years.

What he did was buy, I believe, 10 acres of commercially zoned property very cheaply because there was no demand at the time. He bought it, fenced it in, put up some lights and a gate, and held onto that little bugger. Now that new highway was coming his way and the good folks, through their taxes, were paying to have it built.

It didn’t take long for the heavy equipment to start cutting a swath towards his fenced-in storage facility and when they got close enough to him, he started renting out a secure area for everything, from road cones to generators to backhoes. You name it – it was stored there. This more than paid his land off.

Now the men and their equipment eventually moved on further down the trail but they left a finished highway behind them. And guess what? Low and behold, people started driving on it, and then started buying property to build houses on to get away from the city. Since the new highway was a straight shot into town, ten miles out was breeze.

Well, of course, here comes the herd and everyone is just populating the whole darned area. And within ten years, residential housing surrounds Mr. Investor, and can you guess what he’s got? Yep, a prime piece of commercial property, 10 acres large.

So in accordance with his 10-12 year plan, he sells his storage facility to make room for the new office/business park complex for over $2,000,000. That, my friend, is vision, and the sooner you get a clear picture of what it is that you want to specialize in, the sooner you can retire to the islands.

How hard was that? Don’t tell me you can’t do it, you can! I’m here to help you. I’m going to give you secrets no one else dares. Do you ever wonder why people won’t tell you the secrets? Of course you already know this but I’ll tell you anyway. It is because they are operating on a scarcity mentality, as though there won’t be any left for them. Or if learn something and act on it, you will get ahead and have a great life. Well, misery loves company and silent oppression is the rule.

Here’s a little story that poor quality real estate agents won’t appreciate either but I’m going to tell it to you anyway. The reason I can tell it is because there are some great real estate agents out there who absolutely don’t fear what I am about to tell you and would let you know it if they were in my position.

Here’s the deal: Some agents want to be like the Wizard of Oz. They want to create the appearance of marketing and transacting real estate as being technical and very legal, a deep dark mystery. Well, it’s not! The truth be told, you can write a contract on a napkin and it would stand up in court. I will emphasize here that you write on that napkin along with the terms of your agreement, “The terms set forth on this here napkin are subject to my attorney’s approval.”

An attorney will cover you completely for around $750.00. Prices may vary, however that is an average home transaction. There is a lot I am leaving out here but my point is this: If you own property, you can sell it anyway you want. “Magic Bullets” will teach you. Let’s move on.

Exposure is the key to finding buyers and sellers in real estate. If a property is priced fairly and everyone who is looking for that type of property knows that it is in the availability pool, it will be found and the transaction will proceed as advertised. Price it right, advertise it properly and let the lawyer take care of the details. No commission, just a flat fee. Period.

Now that I have that off my chest, I will tell you a story about Dan, a 21-year old friend of mine, and his wife and their new baby. He’s a hardworking guy who does his work without complaint and all the other “workers” pick on him for working so hard. Can you believe it? The other guys are so insecure and lazy that they make fun of a guy who is doing the work of three men, mainly of the three who are ridiculing him. Well, believe me, this doesn’t go unnoticed by me and I take him under my wing. Dan wants to buy a house, so I begin the process of saving him years of trial by fire and save him $25,000 at no charge. That is because he deserved my help.

Anyway, here is the story: I began with him by asking him what type of home he thought he would be comfortable with and a price range. He indicated a 3-bedroom for around $100,000.

Knowing what he wanted and knowing the area, I was able to take him shopping for the house he was looking for. Now I always go after the “For Sale by Owner” homes first because I know they won’t be adding any commission figure into their price, because they won’t be paying one. So at 6% of $100,000 he will get $6,000 more “house” for his precious dollar.

I also told him besides the “For Sale by Owner” homes, we would be looking at oddball discount companies that help distressed sellers further part with their money and property. The mentality of a seller who uses cheesy companies to help them sell their property is pennywise and pound-foolish. If you’re going to use professionals, then get a professional.

So off we go. After a day or so, we have found our house. Sure enough, El Cheeso Inc. has a sign on it. The screen doors are flapping in the breeze, the weeds are dancing on the lawn, but this house is indeed a 3-bedroom, 2-bath, 1-car garage with a fenced yard and it’s selling for $110,000. Well, due to the fact that there is a divorce in progress, and a new girlfriend who doesn’t like the place, and El Cheeso Inc. giving no representation, I negotiate for Dan and he gets it for $99,000. What’s so great about this deal is this exact same floor plan in another house was for sale down the street, on the same street, for $25,000 more.

The moral of the story is good things come to those who deserve it, and that is another key to real estate. You must work hard so others will take notice of you and help you succeed.

Here’s a beauty for you. This is about being in real estate circles and keeping your eyes and ears open and often times your “yapper” closed. This is the story of Brian and Julie. Here we have two hardworking souls. They have been married for 20 years and they have weathered the storms of matrimony. Julie works at a real estate office as an office manager. No real estate license, but she works at an office that sells a lot of waterfront property. So we are talking about location and being in the right place at the right time, and here comes a seller in the door of the office stating she is going to sell her older waterfront home. She is willing to take $180,000.

Julie tells Brian, they look at it and sure enough, this pearl is right on the water. She’s a gem waiting to be polished up, so Brian and Julie sell their condominium and move in. Well, they aren’t making any more waterfront property, so Brian goes to work polishing this jewel up.

Now, they have bought this house under market value in an appreciating market. So about one and a half years later, this property is worth over $350,000 and still climbing. Well, Brian is no dummy, so he gets to know his neighborhood. He strolls, takes walks and notices, you guessed it, a vacant, neglected jewel on an inside double lot. He tracks down the elderly lady, who is living with her sister, through the county records office and buys the house, including the extra lot, for a total of $120,000. Now Brian can walk to his new “jewel” and he starts polishing it. The neighbors start noticing and are amazed at his deal. He has offers of $180,000, $200,000 and $60,000 for just the lot. You name it. Now that the exposure is there, everyone wants a piece of it.

Well, this is what Brian did. He rented his first house out, moved into the second one and used plans that I gave to him to build a third house on the vacant lot, using the equity he accumulated from the first house that went up so much. And here’s how this thing shakes out: $180,000 for his first house and it’s value goes up to $365,000; he picked up the next jewel for $120,000 and he paid cash using the equity from the first house. Now he takes out a new mortgage on his second house for $120,000 and builds a third. The value at last count was $815,000 and he owed a grand total $300,000. That’s a half million-dollar profit in 5 years!

Now what does this story tell us? #1 – it says, “work hard”; #2 – keep your eyes open; #3 – use equity lines; #4 – don’t sell; #5 – learn how to be a landlord; #6 – be in locations that appreciate; #7 – buy things that are limited in availability; #8 – know how to research owners and repair property; #9 – get your partner’s help (spouse); #10 – use knowledgeable friends to help you see potential (I gave him the plans and advised him not to sell anything!).

Can you get any more lessons out of this story? I’m sure you can. Just read it again and think on it. Jot down your ideas and put them to work. Real estate is not that hard, folks! You can do it. With a few magic bullets, some spark plugs and a good mentor to show you how, you can do it too!

Let’s you and me talk for just a minute here, OK! Have you ever been really good at something and been able to step back and see the whole thing for what it is was? You just know exactly how to do it and you can see the end result clearly in your mind before you start. It’s predictable to you. It’s almost second nature, so you are comfortable doing it. It’s almost become boring to you; your comfort zone is such that you can do it in your sleep.

I’ve gotten that way with certain types of real estate and I see people everyday that are so afraid of taking the first step that they are literally paralyzed. They make excuses and put it off, and rationalize and live a quiet life of desperation. They don’t trust themselves and as a result of the unknown they can’t trust anyone else either. This is a vicious cycle because the longer they wait the more it reinforces their beliefs.

I just want to grab them by the collar, take them to the bank and make them tell the banker, “Pre-qualify me!” Then walk them out the door and show them how to do something that will change their life forever, and that is to buy the first property, and then a second. Then their fear is gone and they grow to be of service to everyone who is ready for their assistance.

Let me tell you this: After you finish reading the rest of this report and you read the “Magic Bullets” book, your fears will be subdued and you will do something and your life will change. If you cannot succeed with what I am intent on showing you, then something is not right. I believe your desire would be your major obstacle, so if that’s the case, read “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill and come back to me then.

Let’s get back to real estate education, shall we? Do you know who the largest commercial real estate owner in the U.S. is? It’s McDonalds Corporation. Yep, and on top of that, they also have the most valuable locations for their type of business. The research they do on demographics and traffic counts is unparalleled!

If you were ever going to open a fast food restaurant, just put it near a McDonalds. You would survive just on the volume of people who flock or pass by the location that McDonalds has already decided meets all the critical data to support their restaurant business. Your restaurant, if you had good food and service, would flourish. Just sell something a little different than McDonalds. That’s leveraging someone else’s expertise in evaluating a location for a certain type of real estate.

Now that is a principle and principles are like natural laws. A natural law always works in every situation in its own way. It’s like gravity – it always works! Here on earth, anyway.

So in real estate it doesn’t matter what type it is, whether it’s commercial, residential, industrial or recreational. Look for signs that serious market studies have been undertaken by major operators and buy things that can flourish in the presence of those concerns.

For instance, let’s use Home Depot as an example. If Home Depot decides to build on a site, every residential lot within a mile of that new center will be bought up as soon as the Home Depot commits to build! Why?

Because smart investors know that Home Depot has done the market study and the area will be a prosperous one.

On top of that, it will provide jobs, it will pay taxes, it will provide materials to actually build the neighborhoods with, and people will shop there once their houses are built. The same goes for Wal-Mart, Lowe’s and other smart business concerns.

You may or may not have noticed this but take a look the next time you are driving around. Here is what you should see. As you drive into cities from the suburbs, you’ll notice donut shops, gas stations with convenience coffee centers, bagel shops, and etcetera, on the side of the road that people travel to on their way into the city to go to work. These are morning activity business centers.
Now on your way home, out of the city, you will see restaurants that cater to the evening meal crowd: KFC, Taco Bell, Subway and Pizza Hut. That’s because people don’t go there for breakfast. They get it on their way home, outbound from the city at night. If you put your restaurant on the wrong side of the road, you could be making a huge strategical error. Think!

Location, location, location as they say, are the 3 most important things in real estate. That is a very true statement. With residential property, that boils down to safety, security and convenience. So buy homes in good neighborhoods, cul-de-sacs preferably. No noise or through traffic, no escape routes for thieves, and a private setting, where kids play in the street without getting run down.

Security = close to hospitals, police and fire protection for obvious reasons.

Convenience = stores, gas stations, restaurants, small businesses, parks and recreation and access to major highways to circulate or evacuate if necessary.

You might get a great deal on a piece of properly but if it takes you a half hour to get a loaf of bread. What kind of resale will that great deal offer? Another great deal may back up to or face a busy street. That’s often a poor choice as well…noise, pollution, the loss of privacy and curb appeal are all factors here.

The two best types of property to buy are:

1. Property that no one else knows is for sale! Why? Because you have no
competition.

2. Property no one wants! You just have to figure out why people don’t want it.

If you can turn that lemon into lemonade through some problem solving, that

jewel may just shine because you used the right magic polish.

In real estate, you get paid when you solve problems. That is a fact!

Here is a golden nugget for you. If you do this, it will catapult your real estate investment career. I guarantee you will gain more insight to real estate by doing this one thing than just about anything else you could possibly do. The golden nugget is this: Take a real estate appraisal course. It will fly by, a few weekends and it’s over, but the perspective and the information you gain from the class is priceless. It gives you vision, ideas and understanding. You will have an edge over every other investor who has not done it.

I had an instructor, who by some stroke of luck, I was privileged to be taught by. His name is Steven V. and he is truly a genius. This guy could make millions if he applied himself to real estate investment but he chooses to teach and give back to others in that way. He is very comfortable in life and money is a by-product for Steven. When I finished the class, I had appraisers wanting to hire me to go to work. Now I don’t want to work as an appraiser. I just want to think like one and that is why I took that four-weekend course. That class taught me more than both of my real estate licensing courses combined. The reason for that is real estate classes deal with state laws, contracts, regulations and ethics. Appraisal focuses on evaluating real estate and that is what you want to learn as an investor.

A real estate license can actually hold you back from being a savvy investor and here’s why: #1 – You have to announce to every seller that you are an agent. It’s an ethics rule and a disclosure law. Well, now the seller is on guard for all kinds of reasons and you waste precious time overcoming negative reactions. #2 – When you go to sell your real estate, the same things apply but add to that scenario the fact that if you make large profits on property that you sell, people can come after you, saying you took advantage of them because of your expertise. And they win!

So you don’t need to go to college for 4 years and you don’t need a real estate license. What you do need is a guy like me to convince you to go to appraisal school and read books like the one you have now.

Then go out and do it, using a lawyer to protect you every step of the way. Again, here is a good point to make. Simply weave into every agreement or offer you make the following statement: This entire agreement is subject to my attorney’s approval. I can’t stress that enough. That’s one line of text. That covers it all. It gives you time to investigate deals. It protects your interests and keeps you from getting burned in this business.

Here are a couple more beauties that I use to protect myself and you should too.
These are used with initial purchase offers:

1. Willing to pay X amount of dollars or appraised value, whichever is less.
(That says, “I’m only going to pay so much but if the appraisal is lower than

what I offered, than I am going to get it for the lower price. I don’t get

burned!)
2. Subject to my partner’s approval. (My partner was always my wife, and if she

didn’t like it, the deal was null and void, cancelled, over, kaput, finito.)

Now nothing says my partner wasn’t my dog, so if there’s no fire hydrant, well the deal could be off.

Those are examples of escape clauses that could be abused to the point of being called “weasel clauses.” Don’t be a weasel! They give you a short period of time to have the option to buy something first with the right to cancel the deal, contingent upon something or someone else’s decision.

I use them to protect myself and to get a little time to do my research on the property. Don’t use them to unfairly tie a seller’s hands. Be fair and try to move quickly when you do employ them.
What you are doing is creating a short time, zero-cost option to buy real estate. Here is a little trick and I don’t use it very often but it can be used in a fair manner so I will give you the nugget. When you write an offer to purchase property, on the top line of the contract is a line that indicates who the buyer is. On that line in certain cases, I will write my name plus the words or assigns, like this:
Buyers: Dan Auito or assigns

What that word “assigns” does is this: it allows me to sell by assigning my right to buy the property to someone else. Dirty dealers will take advantage of people with that word if they can get away with it.

Here’s where I would use it. In real estate, a lot of bargain hunters look for distressed property. You know, the fixer-uppers, the abandoned, condemned, fire-damaged stuff. I go a step further and look for distressed sellers such as death, divorce, relocation, but a lot of times I don’t specialize in that type of property.

That’s OK because if it’s a steal and I get it for 40 – 50% off, I will assign it to someone who does deal in that type of property and make a profit by assigning it.

I’ll always ask the distressed seller if that is a problem and if it is, I will buy it outright, then flip it but it costs more to do that. So I’ll explain this to the seller and get their permission to use it. I don’t slip it in on them. You will have a miserable existence if you practice real estate by deceit. Natural law will crush you; play fair! Purpose, passion and desire cannot be achieved or acquired by deceit. That’s a quotable quote. I hope you remember it.

Let’s get on with another story. This illustrates another fine example for you. This story is about a family who had business interests outside of real estate investing and as a result of the successes of their other businesses they had fairly large sums of money to play real estate like a monopoly game. Power can be dangerous in the wrong hands!

So here we go. This flush with cash family sees an opportunity to take advantage of an overlooked or left alone market. That market is the old-fashioned trailer park, or shall we say Mobile Home Park.

Anyway, the way most mobile home parks came into existence was this: Usually a man of integrity and strong work ethic coupled with a love for his fellow man would buy a piece of land suitable to the placement of mobile homes. As people moved in, he and his wife would welcome them and the neighbors would greet them and the community would become established.

The private owner would dig his own sewer lines and cut his own roads and landscape the park. Maybe put in the clubhouse complete with a swimming pool, shuffleboard, pool table and meeting hall. As time marched on, the residents bonded with each other and a family-friendly community took root. Well this man of integrity had a problem. Since all of his tenants are his friends, he is pressured not to raise the lot rents with inflation.

So the rents over the years are kept very low in the park and now this man and his wife are getting old. Perfect timing for our investors to come knocking and offer our private aging park owner a 2 million dollar price for his 10 acres of mobile home lots. This is a once in a lifetime offer and many park owners cashed out.

What people didn’t see was these investors were systematically and methodically doing this all over the place and once they cashed out as many mom and pops as they could, they lowered the boom.

Now they the investors had control of many parks in the same areas and they started raising the lot rents. You see, they didn’t have any emotional ties to the residents and they didn’t live there, so it was a straightforward business deal: either pay the new higher rent or move.

The residents said, “To hell with you new owner, we are moving.” “Well, fine, go ahead,” they said. Now the residents started calling around to find another park with low rents but guess who owned those? Yep, our investors did, and those lot rents were going up too. So the mom and pops who didn’t sell were full and it would cost on average of about $7,000 to relocate to another park even if they could find a vacancy.

The old folks who had it so good for so long were faced with a new reality and that was that they had no choice but to pay up or move, and moving, in many cases, wasn’t an option. These investors exploited a complete segment of the market and made millions and millions in profit and continue to do so today.

It wasn’t long after this happened that you started seeing signs saying, “This is a resident owned community.” People eventually got smart and started buying that little lot that their trailer was sitting on and they began paying association dues for the clubhouse and security and grounds, maintenance and road repair. The good ole days are nothing but a fond memory.

Life goes on but America did not change for the better as a result of these types of people. Their only purpose was to make money; I believe they will die alone and in misery as a result of their way of life.

So I ask you again, can you be passionate and put your heart into investing in real estate by investing the way our corporate investors did? I think not. Money is no good when you get it by deceitful ways. I encourage you to work at balancing your objectives. Lease optioning, flippers…you are walking a fine line.

Here’s a flip side to communal living. This story is a happier scenario, so let’s have a little joy here. I once lived in Key West and I lived off base. Well, I thought I lived next door to Noah, and it sounded as though he was building another ark. All summer long, hammers and saws seemed to be making some type of racket, so naturally being the neighbor I was, I got to know the man next door. He never went to work and I asked him one day, “Don’t you have a job and he kind of grinned and put his hammer down and this is Mark’s story.

Mark and his brother were from the Northeast and they had a 30-room boarding house for college kids there, at something like $300.00 a month. That was about $9,000 a month and they made the parents responsible for the rent payments. Mark would spend his time with his family in the Keys for the nine months that school was in session. His brother was a local up North and he took care of the toilets, faucets, doors and windows. Yes, they had their very own animal house going on there, but Mark factored in the abuse and would spend 2 – 3 months a year, putting the animal house back together while the animals went home for summer break.

Mark only worked three months a year and the house (ark) that he built next to us was a masterpiece; it was beautiful. He was a master craftsman and he loved his work and spent a lot of his time with his family in a wonderful climate. Makes you kind of jealous, doesn’t it? Well, don’t let it because you can do it, too, but you must get started. Mark was 45 when I met him. I believe he was 25 when he got started, so my advice to you is to get started now!

Reinventing Real Estate, Part 1: Online and Empowered Consumers Are Taking Charge and Paying Less

For decades, the real estate world turned in a predictable manner. The roles of buyers, sellers and real estate professionals were fairly well defined and transactions followed a predictable path of yard signs, newspaper ads, open houses and miles of paperwork.

Recently, online and empowered consumers have changed the game. Real estate professionals now face issues similar to the ones that have transformed the retail, personal finance and travel planning industries. As technology advances and new business models evolve, the real estate industry has begun to transform itself from providing traditional, carefully controlled “agent-centric” transactions to new “consumer-centric” practices. The following is a look at some of the recent industry trends and how buyers, sellers and investors can expect to benefit. The “Five Ds” that are driving change in real estate are:

1. Disruption – Over the past 10 years, the Internet has matured into a powerful platform for delivering real estate information, forever changing the interaction between buyers, sellers and real estate professionals.

2. Displacement – The popularity and acceptance of self-service and consumer-direct business models is being felt by real estate professionals, who are striving to develop attractive new offerings for Web-savvy consumers.

3. Demanding consumers – You now have more real estate knowledge, tools and resources at your fingertips than ever before. More savvy consumers tend to be more independent and demanding.

4. Downward pressure – Traditional real estate commissions of 5-6 percent of a property’s sales price are facing downward pressure.

5. Developing alternatives – The real estate industry is transforming itself to provide targeted services and exciting new options that add value for consumers.
Disruption

“We are going to see our industry go through dramatic transformation via the Internet and consolidation of agents and companies.” – eRealty Times Columnist Dirk Zeller

Some industry observers have adopted Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen’s term “disruptive technology” to explain recent developments in real estate. Though it’s easy to point to the World Wide Web and advancing technology as the main changes in real estate, that’s only part of what’s shaking things up. Essentially, the real cause of disruption is not just technology, but technology-enabled real estate consumers.

Web-enabled consumers

According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), more than 72 percent of homebuyers now begin their home search online. The popularity of online real estate ads surpassed newspaper property listings back in 2001, and the gap is widening. Less than one percent of buyers first learned about the home they purchased on the Internet in 1995, while in 2004, that number passed 20 percent.

According to a California Association of Realtors (CAR) survey, 97 percent of respondents said the Web helped them understand the buying process better and 100 percent said using the Web helped them understand home values better. Web-enabled homebuyers like you are taking a more active role in researching homes and neighborhoods. You also now spend less time with real estate professionals once you have completed your research. Internet homebuyers also used the Web effectively to filter out properties that did not interest them, visiting 6.1 homes on average versus 15.4 for traditional buyers.

Today, you can view photos and detailed information for hundreds of properties in the time it used to take to visit a single one. And the Web provides much more opportunity than simply moving print listings online. The growing availability of residential high-speed Internet connections has boosted the popularity of virtual tours and interactive maps, providing consumers with powerful and flexible visual search tools.

In addition to making home searches easier, automated valuation model (AVM) software is making a big impact in how properties are evaluated. AVMs, which generate valuation estimates by analyzing and comparing property information data, are becoming increasingly sophisticated and accurate. While not considered a substitute for human appraisals, AVMs are gaining popularity because they are inexpensive, easy to use and produce valuation estimates in minutes. Now AVMs, used extensively in electronic mortgage approval processing during the recent refinancing boom, are becoming available on real-estate Websites aimed at consumers. This is a significant development for independent sellers, who often find it challenging to price their properties correctly when selling on their own.

The MLS goes public

“In real estate, MLS data sits at the apex of the change, specifically the MLS information that is pushed to the Internet every minute of the day.” – Bradley Inman, Publisher of Inman News

Once an exclusive tool for real estate professionals, the multiple listing service (MLS) has in recent years become a very public platform for real estate listings. The MLS is the nation’s most comprehensive database of properties for sale – four out of five homes sold in the United States are listed on the MLS.
MLS properties are available to agents and brokers worldwide, and are now accessible via consumer Web sites such as Realtor.com, WSJ.com, Excite, Netscape, AOL and MSN. MLS listings also appear on local, regional and national brokerage Websites through Internet Data Exchange (IDX) agreements that allow participating Realtors to share listings and display them to consumers. Even though only licensed realtors can list property on the MLS, the system has begun to figure prominently for the $110 billion independent seller (for-sale-by-owner or FSBO) market. About 13 percent of real estate sales are now FSBO, conducted without a broker’s assistance.

Type “flat fee MLS” into any major search engine, and you’ll see dozens of real estate professionals willing to list your property in the MLS for a fee. If you are willing to pay a commission of 2-3 percent, you can attract the attention of thousands of agents who will show your property to prospective buyers. You can then reduce the cost of the sale to about half a traditional 5-6 percent sales commission, plus the cost of the MLS listing. If you find an independent buyer working without an agent, you could make a sale with no commission at all and pay only an MLS listing flat fee.
Displacement

Currently, about 2.4 million real estate licensees operate nationally, according to the Association of Real Estate License Law officials. The NAR has more than one million members, up from about 760,000 members five years ago. Many real estate professionals and industry observers expect a significant decline in this number because some tasks traditionally performed by agents and brokers can now be done more quickly and easily by Web-enabled consumers.

“Historically the fundamental driver of the real estate industry was the control of information. The real estate agent and the real estate office were the only sources of comprehensive information on which properties were for sale and those who might be interested in buying them. With this control revenues were practically guaranteed.

Moreover, because this exclusive control was akin to a monopoly by virtue of the multiple listing service (MLS) any firm of any size could serve the customer equally well. As a result, the number of real estate companies grew without regard to market efficiencies.

Simply put, the traditional model is too inflexible. Consumers are seriously questioning the value of a real estate agent. They frequently feel that many of the traditional tasks undertaken by the agents are now either no longer required or can be done by the consumer themselves.”

– Swanepoel & Tuccillo, Real Estate Confronts Profitability

The quotes above, from a popular report on emerging real estate business models and dwindling profit margins, highlight a number of issues traditional real estate professionals are now facing. And if the real estate industry has grown historically without regard to market efficiencies, the issue has only been compounded since 2001, as new agents signed on in droves, lured by low interest rates and skyrocketing home prices in many areas. It’s likely that the number of traditional real estate agents will decline, while new types of real estate jobs will be created to deliver value to Web-savvy customers.

Real Estate Agents and the Internet – How to Buy and Sell Real Estate Today

Then and Now

Ten years ago, a search for real estate would have started in the office of a local real estate agent or by just driving around town. At the agent’s office, you would spend an afternoon flipping through pages of active property listings from the local Multiple Listing Service (MLS). After choosing properties of interest, you would spend many weeks touring each property until you found the right one. Finding market data to enable you to assess the asking price would take more time and a lot more driving, and you still might not be able to find all of the information you needed to get really comfortable with a fair market value.

Today, most property searches start on the Internet. A quick keyword search on Google by location will likely get you thousands of results. If you spot a property of interest on a real estate web site, you can typically view photos online and maybe even take a virtual tour. You can then check other Web sites, such as the local county assessor, to get an idea of the property’s value, see what the current owner paid for the property, check the real estate taxes, get census data, school information, and even check out what shops are within walking distance-all without leaving your house!

While the resources on the Internet are convenient and helpful, using them properly can be a challenge because of the volume of information and the difficulty in verifying its accuracy. At the time of writing, a search of “Denver real estate” returned 2,670,000 Web sites. Even a neighborhood specific search for real estate can easily return thousands of Web sites. With so many resources online how does an investor effectively use them without getting bogged down or winding up with incomplete or bad information? Believe it or not, understanding how the business of real estate works offline makes it easier to understand online real estate information and strategies.

The Business of Real Estate

Real estate is typically bought and sold either through a licensed real estate agent or directly by the owner. The vast majority is bought and sold through real estate brokers. (We use “agent” and “broker” to refer to the same professional.) This is due to their real estate knowledge and experience and, at least historically, their exclusive access to a database of active properties for sale. Access to this database of property listings provided the most efficient way to search for properties.

The MLS (and CIE)

The database of residential, land, and smaller income producing properties (including some commercial properties) is commonly referred to as a multiple listing service (MLS). In most cases, only properties listed by member real estate agents can be added to an MLS. The primary purpose of an MLS is to enable the member real estate agents to make offers of compensation to other member agents if they find a buyer for a property.

This purposes did not include enabling the direct publishing of the MLS information to the public; times change. Today, most MLS information is directly accessible to the public over the Internet in many different forms.

Commercial property listings are also displayed online but aggregated commercial property information is more elusive. Larger MLSs often operate a commercial information exchange (CIE). A CIE is similar to an MLS but the agents adding the listings to the database are not required to offer any specific type of compensation to the other members. Compensation is negotiated outside the CIE.

In most cases, for-sale-by-owner properties cannot be directly added to an MLS and CIE, which are typically maintained by REALTOR associations. The lack of a managed centralized database can make these properties more difficult to locate. Traditionally, these properties are found by driving around or looking for ads in the local newspaper’s real estate listings. A more efficient way to locate for-sale-by-owner properties is to search for a for-sale-by-owner Web site in the geographic area.

What is a REALTOR? Sometimes the terms real estate agent and REALTOR are used interchangeably; however, they are not the same. A REALTOR is a licensed real estate agent who is also a member of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS. REALTORS are required to comply with a strict code of ethics and conduct.

MLS and CIE property listing information was historically only available in hard copy, and as we mentioned, only directly available to real estate agents members of an MLS or CIE. About ten years ago, this valuable property information started to trickle out to the Internet. This trickle is now a flood!

One reason is that most of the 1 million or so REALTORS have Web sites, and most of those Web sites have varying amounts of the local MLS or CIE property information displayed on them. Another reason is that there are many non-real estate agent Web sites that also offer real estate information, including, for-sale-by-owner sites, foreclosure sites, regional and international listing sites, County assessor sites, and valuation and market information sites. The flood of real estate information to the Internet definitely makes the information more accessible but also more confusing and subject to misunderstanding and misuse.

Real Estate Investing Skill Acquisition

Real estate investing is not in any list of high school electives. You can’t get an accredited degree in real estate investing. You won’t find a high school or college guidance counselor who recommends a career in real estate investing (if the guidance counselor understood real estate investing, he or she probably wouldn’t be a guidance counselor!)

The public school system and educational curriculum in the U.S. is only a feeble attempt to prepare students to just “get a job.” Unfortunately there is no class in “Making Money 101.” You don’t have the opportunity to take a class in “How to Become Financially Independent.” No teacher ever taught a class in “How to Succeed When Everyone Else is Failing.” I never learned anything about succeeding as an entrepreneur or becoming wealthy during my 10 years in the university classroom. I only became a multi-millionaire when I learned the skills of real estate investing, and I paid the price out-of-pocket and out-of-the-classroom for that education. I learned these skills in the ole University of Hard Knocks through trial-and-error.

Never disparage the cost of education. There ain’t no free lunch. You’ve gotta get this know-how outside of a classroom, and learning how to make money is gonna cost you. But if you think the cost of education is expensive, you should calculate the cost of ignorance!

However, learning real estate investing doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg. Yes, I know, the real estate investing TV infomercials and the real estate investing seminars held around the country charge big bucks for those 3-day seminars and week-long Boot Camps. But that’s pocket change compared to the fees they want to collect from you later. Catch this fact: all the real estate investing infomercials and seminars target you as a candidate for “real estate investing coaching.” That’s where they charge you up to $25,000 and over $50,000 per year for “coaching.” And often you are assigned to some kid “still wet behind the ears” to call you each week or month to hold your hand and whisper in your ear what common sense and a persistent drive should already tell you! I’m not exaggerating the real estate investing educational system, because I know it inside and out. I personally know many of the so-called “gurus.” I’ve been close to it for 25 years. My opinion is that the fees charged are exorbitant because the promoters have found deep pockets in the marketplace.

When I started my real estate investing career 25 years ago, real estate investing TV infomercials were unknown and real estate investing seminars were extremely rare. Back then, Mark Haroldsen followed an emerging trend started by Al Lowry and Nick Nickerson by holding occasional real estate investing seminars across the country. Later Robert Allen expanded the industry. Robert Allen promoted real estate investing conventions in the major cities across the U.S. He found a market for costly real estate investing packages of information with cassette tapes and note books. TV infomercials, expensive seminars, and outlandish coaching fees followed in subsequent years. Would-be real estate investing aspirants today who want more than an inadequate salary from a job in Dullsville often conclude that they have to “pay through the nose” for real estate investing know-how.

However, through diligent searching, these want to-bees often find that this education in real estate investing is more readily obtained from other sources than they previously imagined.

Real estate investing is probably one of the most easily learned skills never taught in school. Real estate investing is probably one of the most prolific careers available on Planet Earth. Because families now live in houses instead of caves, houses available for fix up are everywhere. And probably nothing contributes to upgrading the deplorable housing conditions across America comparable to real estate investing in fix up properties.

The entrepreneur-minded aspirant who discovers the real estate investing industry often catches a vision of life-beyond-a-job. Books and online courses offer an alternative to expensive seminars and coaching.

Reinventing Real Estate, Part 2: Online and Empowered Consumers Are Taking Charge and Paying Less

Demanding consumers

“Internet buyers tend to be better informed on market conditions and better prepared to act on the home they want when they start working with a realtor. Luckily for realtors, these changes don’t necessarily hurt, as long as they are able to adjust to the new relationship and realize that the new-style buyers value speed and efficiency over guidance when finding a home.”

– E-marketer, Internet Home Buyers Changing the House Rules

Thanks to the Internet and other technological innovations, more real estate information is freely available than ever before. As a result, consumers are demanding new choices, improved services, faster transactions and lower prices. According to a recent NAR survey, the number of sellers stating that they didn’t want to pay a sales commission fee rose from 46 percent in 2003 to 61 percent in 2004. In 2004, 23 percent of Florida home sellers opted to sell independently without an agent, up from 14 percent in 2003 and nearly double the 14 percent national average, according to Planet Realtor.

And Web-enabled consumers are demanding a high digital IQ when working with real estate professionals. In addition to being well-versed on their own industry-specific technology, real estate professionals now are expected to utilize laptops, mobile phones, digital cameras, personal digital assistants and global positioning systems to keep pace with Internet buyers and sellers.

Downward pressure

“If consumers are going to do their own home-shopping online, they expect to save some money, just as they would for using the self-service lane. That’s why they are susceptible to online discount brokers and the new affinity companies that are promoting lower commissions if only the consumers will use their agents. These business models promote the idea to consumers that they ought to be paying less money in commissions.”

Realty Times Columnist Blanche Evans

Traditional real estate commissions, typically around six percent of a home’s selling price, are facing downward pressure from consumers and competition. Some consumers claim traditional real estate commissions don’t reflect:

– Today’s home prices. Years ago, when median-priced homes sold for $25,000, real estate commissions were typically five percent, or $1,250. Today, with South Florida median home prices around $300,000, the cost of a six percent full-service real estate commission becomes $18,000. Some brokers even charge additional fees to cover administrative costs. When you consider that today’s average homeowner sells a home every five to seven years, real estate commissions can dramatically impact your personal savings and net worth.

– Owner equity. When selling properties, most homeowners calculate the cost of selling as a portion of sales price, though the commissions are paid out of owner equity. (Equity is the difference between the value of your property and amount of mortgages owed.) Consider this example: You decide to sell a property for $250,000 in which you hold 10 percent equity, or $25,000. After paying a six percent commission of $15,000, you are left with $10,000 before any applicable closing costs. In this example, the $15,000 commission is six percent of the selling price, but 60 percent of the $25,000 equity.

– Services performed. Under today’s commission structure, selling a $100,000 house at six percent typically costs $6,000, while selling a $500,000 house costs $30,000. Does selling the more expensive home really require five times more effort? Your cost is the same whether the agent spends one hour or 100 hours marketing your home. This is one reason many real estate consumers find fee-for-service real estate so appealing.
Developing alternatives

“Consumers want what they want, when they want it and will gravitate to the most cost-effective source to obtain it. Why? Because our “one-size-fits-all” approach to working with sellers and buyers is archaic and won’t allow consumers to access various segments of help they need in a timely fashion. That’s why .com Web start-ups are finding a receptive audience in real estate consumers and why for-sale-by-owners are burgeoning.”

Julie Garton-Good, Author of “Real Estate a la Carte: Selecting the Services You Need, Paying What They’re Worth”

Until recently, you have had few practical alternatives to the traditional full-service, full-commission real estate transaction with a broker. Most sellers paid a single commission fee for a full range of real estate services, whether they needed them or not. Now traditional real estate agencies face the challenge of identifying new services that have value to today’s sophisticated online and empowered consumers.

One result is an “unbundling” of traditional one-size-fits-all real estate services for consumers who want more control over real estate transactions and their associated costs. If you’re willing to take on some tasks traditionally performed by agents and brokers, you could receive lower transaction costs. You might benefit from the following emerging alternatives:

Fee-for-services

“Consumers want assistance from real estate professionals, but don’t want to pay for it in the form of traditional commissions,” says a la Carte real estate Pioneer Julie Garton-Good. Garton-Good has been preaching the fee-for-services gospel for more than 20 years. As the name implies, you can choose which tasks you feel comfortable performing and hire qualified real estate professionals to do the rest. Many traditional real estate brokerages are beginning to offer a more menu-based service plan. For example, you may not mind listing your home and holding open houses, but you may want assistance with contracts and closings.

One-stop shopping

In response to dwindling margins and the rising costs of technology and lead generation, some real estate companies are attempting to combine traditional and Web-based services to provide consumers a single source for all their real estate needs. One-stop shopping sites generally provide or partner with lenders, insurers, title companies, real estate attorneys and others to facilitate all aspects of buying and selling. In addition, some sites are adding home-improvement and related services to stay in touch with consumers between buying and selling transactions.

Web-based discounters

Although many Web-based real estate companies flamed out in the dotcom era, scores of new companies have emerged to take their place. By offering targeted services such as flat-fee MLS listings, buyer rebates and AVM tools, these sites are appealing to independent buyers and sellers who prefer to take a more active role in transactions. In addition to listings, some sites also offer how-to articles and advice for those who choose to go it alone.
Tradition + technology + turbulence = opportunities

So, given the trends, changes and ongoing industry evolution, what can independent buyers, sellers and investors expect in this new era of real estate?

o The Web and other technologies will continue to evolve and transform the $1.3 trillion real-estate industry. Technology will continue to reduce the time, expense and complexity of manual processes, and increasingly sophisticated search and valuation tools will play a more strategic role.

o Free and low-cost real estate resources will continue to be available and even multiply on the Web. In real estate, knowledge truly is power. Consumers will try to use their power to gain more control of the real estate process and subsequently expect to be compensated in the form of reduced and fee-for-service commissions.

o The role of traditional real estate brokerages will evolve as Web-enabled consumers become more knowledgeable. This likely will trigger some restructuring and consolidation of traditional brokerages, but will also drive the development of innovative new practices targeting online and empowered consumers. Real estate professionals will focus more on promoting their local knowledge and industry expertise, while consumers will perform some buying and selling tasks on their own.

o Traditional real estate commissions and profitability levels will continue to face downward pressure from various sources. The future will be profitable for brokerages that are able to extend their core expertise of neighborhood and industry knowledge into flexible new consumer-centric offerings.

o The traditional high-touch, full-service real estate agency is evolving, not disappearing. Real estate professionals who provide exceptional service and value to their customers will always be in demand.

You now can find more real estate knowledge, tools and resources on the Web than ever before, enabling you to buy and sell with increased confidence. For real estate professionals, reinventing the industry means making hard decisions, changing processes and managing new opportunities. But for consumers, reinvention in real estate is a winner, hands-down.

Investing In Real Estate Investors

With the never-ending changes in our Real Estate Markets real estate professionals are starting to pay attention to the sound of new commission streams of income. Some realtors have either shied away or ran-away from such terms as “Cap Rate,” & “Cash-on-Cash Returns.” Terms that only the ‘smart’ and ‘numbers-oriented people use to determine if a Real Estate purchase is a “Good Deal”, or not. A majority of the realtor brethren attended real estate school because they are excited and passionate about the promise of selling real estate and making a fantastic living. That being said “Times are a Changing.” Even if you live in a Hot Market where residential real estate sells in 2-3 days there is an old approach to real estate that is growing faster by the day…..Residential Real Estate Investors.

This deft group of real estate investors is taking real estate and the real estate investment world into a new era! No longer accepting the crazy volatility of the Dow Jones and NASDAQ families. Unwilling to accept the investment practices of their fore-fathers these Investors throw caution to the wind for returns above the traditional 5-6% in their Roth or IRA accounts. These Investors are bold and oftentimes aggressive. Today’s Real Estate Investors are all about the fast fix-n-flip, high appreciation, and rock solid monthly cash-flows. Cutting their teeth on investment in their own home-towns is only the beginning as the Serious Investors turn to points outside their own back-yards to other regions that demonstrate greater promise and higher returns. You may say well how does this older adult view their investment opportunities? For starters the age of these stealth hunters ranges from 28 to 68. From “Rich Dad-Poor Dad” book series to Trumps magical presence on “The Apprentice,” the young real estate entrepreneurs are making their dreams happen to the tune of 3-5 acquisitions a year! Got your attention now? The typical Investor has good to great credit scores. Excellent cash reserves or hidden resources of partners with cash, and a willingness to make the deal happen at nearly any cost. The best kept secret of all is that these investing beasts travel in packs. Where you see one another is very close behind. In other words they know the people that you need to know to grow your investor database even larger. If the real estate professional does a good job the happy clients are likely to refer many of their fellow-investors. Not just investor clients but their regular every-day real estate business. Face it, if you can demonstrate to your clients how adept you are with their largest personal purchase of real estate, then wouldn’t you suppose they will be over their “trusted real estate advisors” opinion on buying a basic home, condo or beach house?

So what if you haven’t been focused in the real estate investment sector. And you are thinking this all sounds pretty good, let’s give it a try. First question to ask yourself is who have your clients been working with or exploring their options of real estate investing with over the past 3-4 months. Statistically 6 out of 10 clients have considered investing in real estate or have already begun doing so before their realtor even has a chance to blink an eye. Got your attention now? How about the fact that in less than one year I increased my annual commissions by 30% by just positioning myself within my primary data-base of clients. All I did was let them know that I was ready, willing and able to begin assisting them with their “Investment Realty” needs. What I learned during the first year was that if I could create an environment for my clients to learn more about real estate investing that they would thank me in a variety of ways….Most importantly they would call me before writing a contract and would make sure that I was involved in every contract that wanted to make a real estate purchase. Before long 30% went up to 45% and further. Even if you aren’t interested in expanding your client database, at least consider protecting the turf you have for so long spent tireless amounts of time and financial resources to maintain their allegiance. On the other hand if you are looking at your real estate career and are wondering how to reposition yourself for market growth certainly to go well into 2025, here are a few known facts about how real estate investors can improve your business.

1. Real Estate Investors are literally everywhere. Successfully tapping into your current database could increase your annual commissions by 20-30%.

2. Real Estate Investors will be loyal to the professional that helps fill the gap of their investment education. Workshops, mentoring groups, finding the “golden deals” in your market makes a huge impact!

3. Investing in Real Estate Investors doesn’t have to mean that you lose your “typical” residential realtor position. Being a real estate investment specialist means you are smarter than the average realtor in the market.

4. Mortgage professionals are struggling to provide real estate investors with property deals, so when you can place an investor into a good deal the referrals will begin to flow even more.

5. Real Estate Investors tend to be more conscientious about your personal time away. Investors also like to shop Monday-Friday for their deals before the “Weekend Warrior” investors get out into the competition. This translates into more normal hours and days of operation for you and your business.

6. Real Estate Investors buy-sell cycles are shorter than primary home purchasers resulting in more transactions in shorter time-frames.

Real Estate, Real Property and Leased Land; Definitions, Discussion and Explanations

Delaware, and the rest of the original British Colonies, has some land that is leased rather than owned by the residents of that land. Much of it is not evident to the casual observer.

The land on Lewes Beach is leased, not owned by the home owners. The land of Lewes Beach is owned by the Town of Lewes. The lands of Rehoboth by the Sea and Dewey Beach include leased land too. Most of the leases on that land will NOT be renewed but will return to the owners and the homes on top of that land will be removed by the home owners at their expense. Much of the land in Riverdale, on Indian River Bay, adjacent to Oak Orchard is leased as well. In Riverdale the leased land is owned by Chief Clark of the Nanticoke Indians.

We have about half the inhabitants of Sussex County living on leased land; most of that leased land is found in what people call mobile home parks or communities. However, in those communities there are seldom any homes that are truly mobile and there are even two story stick built homes on some of the leased lands in those communities. Condominiums and town houses are sometimes found on leased land as well. Some folks find all this rather difficult to understand.

We Realtors and Attorneys use the term fee simple to describe land that is being sold as real property; that is real estate. We used the term leased land or leasehold interest to describe land that is not transferring as real estate.

This rather lengthy text is regarding Leased Land, Real Estate, Private Property, Chattels, Mobile Homes, Homes on Leased Land and a legal dissertation to define, describe and determine the differences.

Terminology is important when discussing Real Estate, i.e. real property.

Black’s Law Dictionary is the recognized, definitive source for legal definitions under our American Law; which is derived from English Law

PROPERTY: In the strict legal sense, an aggregate of rights which are guaranteed and protected by government. BL6, p. 1216.

PERSONALTY: Personal property; movable property; chattels; property that is not attached to real estate. BL6, p. 1144

PROPERTY: (personal property) – In broad and general sense, everything that is the subject of ownership, not coming under the denomination of real estate. A right or interest less than a freehold in realty, or any right or interest which one has in things movable. BL6, p. 1217

Therefore personal property, is that which can be easily removed from the real estate, and is not real estate. Personal property includes crops, trees, shrubs, trailers, sheds, cars, mobile homes, manufactured homes that have a Department of Motor Vehicle title instead of a deed, and the contents of a home or building. In a home or business the personal property includes drapes, lighting fixtures, rugs (not installed carpeting) free-standing cabinets and cupboards, furniture, and all the contents of closets, drawers and buildings. Buildings without a foundation, that is sheds that are just supported by blocks are chattel property, that is personal property, and not part of the real estate. Such chattel includes dog houses and particularly the little storage buildings that are so common outside of homes today.

LANDS: In the most general sense, comprehends any ground, soil or earth whatsoever… Black’s Law dictionary 6th Ed. (BL6), p.877

PRIVATE PROPERTY: As protected from being taken for public uses, is such property as belongs absolutely to an individual, and of which he has the exclusive right of disposition. Property of a specific, fixed and tangible nature, capable of being in possession and transmitted to another, such as houses, lands, and chattels. BL6, p. 1217. Private property is land, houses, and chattels. Private property is protected from being taken for public uses. Private property is owned absolutely.

REAL ESTATE synonymous with real property” and p.1218 REAL PROPERTY … A general term for lands, tenements, hereditaments (those things which are hereditary); which on the death of the owner intestate, passes to his heir.” BL6, p1263

ESTATE: The degree, quantity, nature and extent of interest which a person has in REAL and PERSONAL property. An ESTATE in lands, tenements, and hereditaments signifies such interest as the tenant has therein. BL6, p.547 The definitions here all refer to: real estate = real property = estate = lands, tenements, and hereditaments. At first, one might think that ‘real property’ is the proper term for ‘all lands’. But it doesn’t state the manner of ownership as clearly as the definition of estate. We just had a huge instance of this when the thousands of leased land lots under the homes of several thousand people, in Angola, Pots Nets, and Long Neck areas owned by the Robert Tunnel family was inherited by the children.

IN OUR AREA THERE ARE NUMEROUS LEASED LAND PROPERTIES AND THOSE PROPERTIES ARE THE REAL ESTATE OF THE OWNER OF THE LAND – NOT THE OWNER OF THE HOME WHICH IS UPON THAT LAND. If you examine the definition for ESTATE it refers to an interest in the same articles defined in real property and real estate.

What is this LAND and WHO owns it and HOW is it owned? Land can be private property OR estate, i.e. real estate. Estate is an interest in “real property” by a person or a tenant. Private property is owned absolutely by an individual.

INTEREST: More particularly it means a right to have the advantage of accruing from anything; any right in the nature of property, but less than title. – BL6, p.812. By this definition it’s clear that INTEREST cannot be TITLE, since it is less than title. Interest may be a property right to land, but it’s not a right to absolute ownership of land. Those who live on leased land, thus, have only an interest in the land; and that interest is a lease-hold interest. Is there a definition of property that says it’s land held in absolute ownership, as does private property’s definition? We can delve into this more.

ABSOLUTE TITLE – As applied to title to land, an exclusive title, or at least a title which excludes all others not compatible with it. An absolute title to land cannot exist at the same time in different persons or in different governments. BL6, p.1485

PRIVATE PROPERTY – … is such property as belongs absolutely to an individual, and of which he has the exclusive right of disposition. BL6, p.1217

OWN – To have a good legal title; to hold as property; to have a legal or rightful title to; to have; to possess. BL6, p. 1105. To “own” is to have title. An interest is LESS THAN TITLE.

ESTATE: The degree, quantity, nature and extent of interest which a person has in real and personal property. An estate in lands, tenements, and hereditaments signifies such interest as the tenant has therein. – – BL6, p.547 From these definitions, it’s plain that we can’t absolutely “own” real estate. We can only have a qualified ownership of qualified and described ownership of Real Estate. Thus, we need that Deed Description to describe it and qualify it. That ownership is also qualified by various government rights, decrees and laws, from antiquity, such as rights against trespass. That ownership is qualified by taxation, zoning, rights of way, and a myriad of other entailments. We need, therefore, a title search to determine those entailments, some of which are invisible.

Therefore there is NOT as much difference in the rights and privileges of ownership and interest as one is led to believe. I have no problem with those who live on leased land instead of owning the land. Usually they are paying far less than it would cost them to own the same property. However, they don’t often get any appreciation of the land; the landlord gets the appreciation in real value, while the resident can appreciate the lifestyle for less cost per month or year.

However, since an interest in leased land is not automatically transferable and is NOT Real Estate and since the chattel property upon it, the mobile home is personal property, without a deed but instead has a title – Realtors are not by law supposed to be involved in the sale of such – but we are. We are supposed to only be selling real property. It gets all cloudy and foggy doesn’t it. That is why there are people and companies who sell mobile homes on leased land who are not realtors and don’t need to be. In fact, although no one will discuss it, Realtors are not supposed to sell mobile homes on leased land. We don’t need to engage in that battle any more than I just did by describing it.

OWNERSHIP: The complete dominion, title, or proprietary, including right in a thing or claim… Ownership of property is either absolute or qualified. The ownership of property is absolute when a single person has dominion over it, and may use it or dispose of it according to his pleasure, subject only to general laws. The ownership is qualified when it is shared with one or more persons, when the time of enjoyment is deferred or limited, or when the use is restricted. – BL6, p. 1106 Such sharing is common with husband and wife, partners, families and corporations, etc.

DOMINION – Generally accepted definition of “dominion” is perfect control in right of ownership. The word implies both title and possession and appears to require a complete retention of control over disposition. – – -BL6, p. 486 I think you’d agree that zoning, building codes, home owners association covenants, condominium documents of use and business licensing is a restriction on the use of land (if it’s Real Estate). And there is obviously the fact that failure to pay property taxes on real estate will result in loss of said property. That’s definitely not absolute ownership. But private property is defined as ABSOLUTE OWNERSHIP, not qualified (interest).

PROPERTY (tangible) – All property that is touchable and has real existence (physical) whether it is real or personal. – – BL6, p. 1218 In summation, it takes a good attorney, and one well versed and experienced in real estate to understand the complex definitions, rights, liabilities, and privileges of real estate ownership. I have been buying and selling real estate for myself and assisting others in the buying and selling of real estate for thirty years. I have taught courses on real estate and real estate law. And, I would NOT consider purchasing a property, or purchasing property on leased land without the professional and paid assistance of an attorney who is a real estate specialist in the exact county in which the property is located. Other attorneys from other areas are not valid choices at all.

Real Estate Investing – Books,TV Infomercials, and Seminars

Real estate investing has become popularized today because of real estate investing TV infomercials and traveling seminar circuits. But real estate investing has not always been so popular.

In the 1960s, William Nickerson wrote, “How I Turned $1000 into Three Million in Real Estate” and “How to Make a Fortune Today Starting from Scratch.” It was one of the first real estate investing books to get national attention. A little later, Al Lowry authored “How You Can Become Financially Independent by Investing in Real Estate.” Al Lowry might be called “the father of the modern-day real estate seminars,” because he was the first to hold seminars as a result of his book sales.

But it was Mark Haroldsen who carried the real estate investing book/seminar thrust to the next level. Haroldsen wrote, “How to Wake Up the Financial Genius Inside You.” If you were tuned in to real estate investing at that time, you remember the newspaper and magazine advertising showing a picture of suave and bald-headed Mark leaning against the front hood of his Mercedes. The picture appeared everywhere in full page ads of major publications. And as Mark began selling his books, he began holding real estate investing seminars. I have had lunch with Mark and Al Lowry as they swapped stories of the advertising blitzes that vaulted them into national prominence for their real estate investing prowess. Mark later wrote “The Courage To Be Rich” and “Tax Free.”

But it was Robert Allen who capitalized on the previous groundwork by Lowry and Haroldsen. Robert Allen was reportedly paid $1 million advance royalties for his best-selling book, “Nothing Down,” a compilation of 50 techniques for buying property with no money. Robert had learned these techniques from several years experience with a commercial real estate firm. He later wrote “Creating Wealth” and “Getting Started in Real Estate Investing.” The Robert Allen Real Estate Investing Seminars became a phenomenal marketing bonanza. Conventions were held in the major cities across the country, like Orlando, LA, Dallas, Chicago and Atlanta. The authors of various real estate investing techniques spoke at these seminars, but their spiel focused on selling packages of real estate investing materials that they offered for sale. Millions of dollars of real estate investing materials were sold at these 3 day conventions. The convention frenzy ushered in what has since become known as “The Nothing Down Real Estate Movement” of the early to mid-1980s.

I keep all of these books in my personal library, and you can probably still find them in your public library and book stores. There’s a lot of great information in these books that can make you very knowledgeable, even though some of the ideas are out-dated.

We are now presented a variety of ways for making money in real estate investing in TV infomercials, books and seminars. Which is best? Who can say? Real estate investing is learned through trial and error. Real estate investing skills and techniques are acquired by practice. I don’t think anyone can dogmatically recommend a technique best for another person. Every real estate investor has unique needs and is in a unique situation. Objectives of real estate investing differs.

However, if you are limited with real estate investing educational dollars and need to generate quick return on investment, I think fixing up cheap houses is an ideal beginning point. Real estate investing in makeover properties generates quick, profitable dollars with low risk.