Happy 2012 Holidays and Warm Season’s Greetings!

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To all my cherished friends, neighbors, family and clients – I am so proud to have been able to know, work and be  in a part of your life! As we end this year and turn to the exciting time and events that 2013 holds, I just wanted to take a moment to thank you for all that you bring into my life.

I have some really great plans in the coming year to bring more success to all your real estate endeavors. As always, with each transaction that makes it to the closing table in the coming months and new year ahead –  there will continue to be new and exciting things to follow.

Happy Holidays, Season’s Greetings, Peace and Joy!

Home Warranty Advantage

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Homeowners Insurance is great – it covers a lot of things like fire, theft and vandalism – and in case there is a storm that causes significant damage, the policy’s right there to protect the owner.  But what about a policy that looks after the interests of the property while it listed on the market and one that works to the advantage of both sides of the buying and selling fence?  A home warranty is a perfect supplement to a homeowner’s insurance policy and it broadens the overall coverage in a variety of ways.  Here is a rundown of the variances between the two and how a seller getting a warranty policy on their home for sale is a great tool!
The Benefits of a Home Warranty Policy
While home insurance largely covers catastrophic incidences and damage, a home warranty policy goes far beyond in that it address the home including wear and tear items.  Also, maintenance and repair is typically includes in a home warranty policy.  As a selling tool, this is fantastic, because during the process – or even after the home is sold – for up to 13 months, the areas of the home covered under the policy are warranted.  Oftentimes, a buyer will come across an issue with something in the home that could become a deal breaker but with the added peace of mind of a warranty, the seller can sit back and relax knowing that most things will likely be covered.  Examples of things that fall into range of coverage on a home warranty are flooring, plumbing systems, electrical systems, and wear and tear of these areas plus also the furnace and in come cases, the roofing or other major components of the home.

Home Insurance Policy Advantages
The single biggest difference between a home warranty versus a home owners insurance policy is that the latter covers the basic replacement value in general if there is a major catastrophe such as a storm that cause damage, fire, theft or vandalism or personal liability.  There is not personal liability coverage under the home warranty policy, rather it focuses on the “used” contents of the home.

How a Home Warranty Policy Helps in a Real Estate Transaction
First American Home Warranty is a company that provides very good coverage under their policy including 13-months of free seller coverage, with coverage beginning on the first of their home being listed for sale.  The free coverage period for the seller lasts for up to 180 days and the policy is only paid for upon sale of the home at closing.  The best part of a home warranty policy is that even after the buyer has taken possession of the property, the coverage continues.  That means that as a seller, you will not have to contend with any last minutes issues that can and do come up. When applying for the warranty, be sure to choose coverage that address all potential concerns you may have for the home so that if there were a need for repairs or coverage, you would have it provided as a benefit.

An industry association held a study in which it was determined that not only do homes sell up to 50% faster when there is a home warranty policy in place, but also the selling price typically comes within three percent of the list price.  In today’s real estate market – this is an advantage that any seller would want to avail!

Also remember this post from last year? It's still prevalent today!

Stuck in a Rut With People You Know Who Want to “Buy” Your Home?

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A lot of us have been through this scenario:  we think of selling our home, in fact we made the decision and before we have even listed it on the market our friends, family and coworkers are aware and someone or the other expresses interest in the home.  Sounds pretty harmless, right?  For the most part yes, except when you consider the fact that nine times out of ten when someone in our social or professional circle shows interest in our property, the sale does not pan out. 

So how can you deal with this?  There is a solution, believe it or not: listing your home with a named exclusion.  We explain how this works below, but first – it is a good idea to understand the types of issues you may encounter if you do not entertain this type of work-around to this potential problem.

“I Just Need Three More Weeks, I Promise!”

That is a common sentiment heard by sellers entertaining a sale to someone they know or even someone two or three degrees away from someone they know.  The buyers end up repeatedly asking for more time, without ever really putting a solid offer on the table.  They seem to think that because they know you, they can take weeks, even months, to make up their mind.  You, meanwhile, are anxious to sell the home before the value dips even further.  

“But I Thought You Would Give Me a Deal Since We Know Each Other”

The natural inclination of anyone thinking of buying from someone they know is to expect some concessions – extra things that may not have been part of a sale to strangers.  The biggest concession buyers are hoping for by going through someone they know is on price.  But you are selling your home and chances are you want the best price you can get out of it – especially in today’s market with continuously declining home prices.  

“Can’t You Put the House on Hold For Me?”

The idea that someone will hold off on a sale of something as large as a home is unbelievable but still, there are cases where buyers have actually expected that of sellers who they know.  As a seller, what are you supposed to do if another offer comes along that is serious, a good price and it seems like it will close with a very quick turn-around?  How can you skirt around the careful social stigma of not ruining the relationship with one person or party, without shooting yourself in the foot?  

A Solution Where Everyone Is Happy

So how do you handle these situations?  What do you say to your dad’s best friend who really wants to buy your home but can’t decide between your home and the one they were already looking at?  Listing your home with a named exclusion allows you to proceed with a sale as initially hoped with the people you know – with some concessions such as a sale with little or no commission.  The key is that the people you have been engaging with aside from outside offers will benefit if they buy it since it would be outside the listing agreement.  This maneuver forces the buyer to take some action, since the listing is also open to everyone else in the market to buy a new house.  

Using this savvy selling technique, you can get in on offers potentially made by people you know, provide a concession of sorts in case it does sell to them and keep the listing open for others at the same time – all without shortchanging yourself during the process.  And there is no negative social stigma attached.

What Exactly Gets Inspected in a Home Inspection?

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The real estate and mortgage industry has faced some tough times lately and one of the results of the even more stringent procedures in place is the strong preference for a home inspection to take place prior to obtaining financing.  Though not a requirement, getting a home inspection is a practice that can and does save buyers (and sellers) thousands of dollars.  But what can you expect from a home inspection these days?

To help guide you through the process, here is a list of basic areas of the home that are included in the inspection, as well as the potential defective aspects that an inspector looks for during the process. We also provide a list of those areas that do not come under the home inspection umbrella.

What All Is Included in a Typical Home Inspection?
Assessment of Exterior – includes grading and elevation of the home, drainage, driveway and walkways, fences, siding, trims, doors and windows, exterior lighting and landscaping.

Structural Aspects of the Home – Walls, floors and ceiling are evaluated in addition to the foundation.  The inspection also includes a detailed assessment of the roof and attic, including ventilation, construction and framing.

Systemic Operational Elements – HVAC, heating and cooling systems, water heaters, ductwork, fireplace and chimney function is checked as well as outdoor sprinkler systems.

Functional Major Appliances – All major appliances that are included in the sale of the home such as refrigerators, stoves, microwaves and dishwasher as well as smaller items like the garbage disposal system are checked by the inspector.

Electrical Systems – Wiring, grounding, receptacles, exhaust systems, circuit breakers and the main panel are studied in sufficient detail to confirm whether the home is up to code.

Plumbing – All areas of the home that involve plumbing are checked, including bathroom and kitchen sinks, toilets, tubs and showers plus faucets as well as the evaluation of materials used in the plumbing construction of the home.

Safety Assessment – Smoke detectors, CO detectors and fire extinguishers are also checked for function and adequate placement.

Garage Structure – A detailed evaluation of the garage door and opener, firewall, walls and ceilings, lights as well as exterior is completed.

Results That Indicate Potential Concerns With the Home
A home inspection yields a detailed inspection report that is broken down by section/type of evaluation performed. While there are some areas that are not covered under a home inspection, others are resultant of major red flags that must be addressed by the seller.  Anything that indicates potential safety issues is reported as top priority on the inspection report and similarly anything that appears to be a possible health concern is reported.  Another thing to look for is inadequate results or concerns with the furnace or air conditioning systems.  The presence of excess moisture or problems with drainage is a big indicator that the home will need major repairs soon if not immediately. Two more expensive problem areas that can be revealed during an inspection are roofs that may not be able to withstand the elements much longer and faulty foundations.

Things Not Included in a Home Inspection That Must Be Evaluated Independently

Oftentimes a home can be found to have major problems in areas that are not reviewed within a typical home inspection.  If there is an indication or possibility that one or more of the following health, safety or structural hazards may exist it is strongly recommended that the prospective buyer seek specialized inspections in each respective area. 
The potential of asbestos, mold and mildew presence, insect or other pests, chemical assessment for the presence of radon, radiation or lead – all are issues that require independent evaluation by their respective experts in the field.  To learn more, here is a link to the top ten areas not covered in a home inspection.


Before getting a home inspection done on a home you are considering, check with your Realtor to find a preferred inspector that they may have worked with for years.  Using a quality inspector that is certified in the areas being inspected versus utilizing the services of a less-than-qualified inspector – can make a difference of thousands of dollars.  Once you have the inspection report in hand it is a good idea to consult with your Realtor again to see whether there is some leverage to be gained when negotiating the sale on your property.

The NEW Way to Market Homes

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Have you ever stopped to think about just how passive some salespeople can be?  Consider all the automobile dealerships that have cars parked out on the lot, expecting the next prospective buyer to just drive right onto the lot.  Well, with real estate it’s a completely different ballgame. Unless your idea of selling your home is to sit back and wait until the right buyer comes along at the right time, with the right price – a far better approach would be to get in touch with an agent that likes to move mountains on his or her own accord.

Here are just a few of the passive marketing techniques employed by an overwhelmingly large percentage of Realtors across the country:

·         -Putting a sign outside the home, hoping that a buyer will drive by.
·         -Listing the property on major national websites or the local MLS with the expectation that all the search criteria will be fulfilled with your home and an agent will be calling soon to make an offer.
·         -Hoping that other agents will notice the new listing and introduce it to their buyer clients looking for something similar.
·         -Advertising the property in publications, again with the expectation that the perfect potential buyer will notice the listing and respond.
·         -Holding one or more open houses with the intent to share the home in the buyer community hoping to generate interest.

In today’s market when almost everyone holds a smart phone or other tech device (read: tablet, notebook, laptop, book reader, who knows what next) allowing instant access to information – the last thing you can afford to do is to sit around and wait.  In fact, in many markets the only way to succeed in the endeavor of selling your home is to reach far out and grab the business.  In other words – you will have to make it happen yourself because it simply won’t happen on its own.

So the next time you find yourself asking an agent, your agent – or even one that you are thinking of hiring – what they will be doing to get your home sold, be sure that their answer shows they have drive, ambition and energy.

Strong Marketing Is The Cornerstone Of Successful Selling
Some would say that “marketing” is a just another word for sales – but that is hardly true. Sure marketing entails some sales within the larger scheme of things, but it covers a bigger picture that includes promotion, awareness, publicity and, very importantly, sales

In real estate particularly, there are two basic brands of marketing engaged by agents across the nation and throughout the globe – and the difference can be measured in their levels of success.  Both passive and active marketing are techniques used by agents of every caliber but most top-producing agents utilize a far more active marketing stance.  In fact, when you consider the modern technological advances available today as opposed to years ago, it’s surprising that all Realtors don’t use the tools at hand to assist their clients. 

Here are some of the ways that savvy real estate agents get their clients’ home sold faster, more efficiently and at a better price:

·         -Making regular contact with people in the buying circuit actively seeking homes in the current market.
·         -Utilizing all the latest tools available to measure the latest and most accurate market data and remain current with area comparables.
·         -Staying in constant contact with clients, via web chat, instant message, text message, real time email or daily phone communication.
·         -Providing useful tips, tricks and information through informational blogs and electronic communications.
·         -Personally contacting buyer prospects, sellers, other agents, buyers from out of town, major corporations with significant employee relocations, past clients and others.
·         -Tapping into extensive databases with client and contact information that includes word-of-mouth contacts and extended client databases of preferred lenders, vendors, suppliers and contractors.

Professionals who utilize this extra dimension of marketing are more likely to accomplish the success they set out to achieve.  Active marketing in terms of real estate is when Realtors go out and actively seek out potential buyers for the homes they have listed, using the tools that are “outside the box”.  They work to fill gaps and literally match properties to prospective buyers by calling their agents directly.  These are the people you should be working with to get your home sold.  These are top-producing agents.

To find out how we can help you get your home sold, call us today for a customized consultation so we can determine your needs and start working on it right away!

Five Reasons Why You Should Hire Me, Not Them

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In a sea of agents, trust me – you want to hire someone who can keep your deals afloat and get you the best deal on the home of your dreams.  But I’m not suggesting you hire me based only on this one statement, in fact, I can provide you a list of reasons why we are a cut above the rest.  

Whether you are considering a new home so you can move up and into something better, or you want to invest in some property to avail the fantastic low rates out there right now, I'm asking you to hire me.  Here are the top five reasons why hiring me for your real estate buying dreams will end up in you getting your dream home and us having a fruitful relationship with years of professional friendship to come.  But don’t take my word for it – the reasons listed below have come from my actual clients, who after years of being asked why they chose myself over others, collectively answered with these consistent responses:

I Listen To You

You wouldn’t believe the nightmare stories I have heard about other agents trying to impose their own preferences on buyers. Well, where I'm concerned, I understand and value the importance of your needs and the first step to implementing them is to foster solid communication – both ways.  That way, you can count on me going after the things that are most important to you and I can count on you trusting me.

I Follow Through 

Nothing is more frustrating than to send an email or leave a voicemail for your agent and then spend hours, days or even weeks waiting for a response. My mantra is to follow through with everything and that means that every communication I get or every item that needs to be discussed, relayed or investigated – no matter what it might be – I get it done.  If I said I would do it, you can count on it getting done.  

I Know Our Market

Anyone can become an agent and often there are agents who “handle” markets all over the place, regardless of whether they’ve ever stepped foot in the town or not.  Inside information on the little nuances of a place can only come from a person or a team that knows the area well.  When you’re looking at buying a property, this inside knowledge is paramount and one that I pass on to my clients by way of my knowledge of the industry and our markets.

Todd Martin Is Solid and Strong

With careful consideration and years of cultivated relationships, I have created a strong organization that keeps its promises, while delivering everything according to plan. That, too, is not by accident.  I have personally developed a system for every aspect of my organization so that I can carefully measure my progress and provide my clients with optimum service.  

Honesty and Integrity Is My Priority 

Finally, my priority remains honesty and integrity.  I realize that in a business such as this there can be lots of ups and downs – and there is no better demonstration of that than the current state of our real estate market and overall economy.  My clients know that I will always be honest with them about what to expect, whether or not their expectations are realistic and anything else that may come up in the myriad transactions that take place for real estate.  I take our relationship with my clients and their needs very seriously and work very hard not to jeopardize that trust.  Poor representation can cost thousands of dollars – excellent representation is priceless.


With these five aspects of my business, I am confident that my clients understand my priorities and have rewarded me with their business in exchange.  I invite you to come visit us to see if there is anything I can do to help you get into your next dream home. I won’t let you walk away disappointed.

6 Buyer Trends Shaping the Market

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Compared to just a couple decades ago the amount of interest buyers (and sellers) take in the real estate process has blossomed into a multi-million dollar industry.   With media, retail and of course technological trends continuously shaping the industry, it is no surprise that buyers (and sellers) are more savvy than ever when it comes to property-related transactions.  So when the time arrives for buyers to begin searching for their new home, they are already armed with loads of advance information about what’s out there.  Here are six top current trends that buyers are into these days, some which have been around for ages and others, seemingly new.

Updated Kitchens and Bathrooms
One of the first things many buyers look for is updated kitchens and bathrooms with plenty of space, modern cabinetry, lots of storage, granite counters and stainless steel or modern appliances.  Savvy buyers of today not only want to be able to enjoy these amenities, they also know that later on down the line these features will add significant seller value to their home, making the purchase a solid investment.

Open Floor Plans
Closed off rooms that are scattered throughout the house are no longer in style.  The more sought after choice is homes that feature large great rooms, with open spaces looking out into multiple rooms that have a clear view from one end of the space to the other. Huge vaulted ceilings, tray ceilings and other architectural details that add to the openness of the space are also important to buyers these days.

Larger Master Bedrooms with an En Suite
With the influx of HGTV shows depicting the latest available designs and styles out there, more and more buyers are seeking master bedrooms with an En suite rather than traditional community bathrooms just a few feet away from the master.  Not only that, buyers want large open spaces within the attached bath, sometimes going as far as expecting double vanity sinks, garden tub and shower stalls plus plenty of storage room.

Use of Extra Space – Outdoors, Basement
Less is not more when it comes to space in a home and no buyer these days wants to see a potential home with underutilized space.  One of the most promising uses of extra space is the basement, where finished basements are the hot trend to fulfill anything from work out room requirements to desires for a media room, a “man cave” or extra family space.  Similarly, future homeowners are seeking more outdoor living space as well.  Whether through enclosed patios, larger yards, fenced in and private play areas or decks; exterior space is an important consideration for almost everyone these days.

Green Living
The emphasis on eco-friendly living has shot up in recent years.  What once used to be novelties such as furniture made of recycled materials or solar panels to produce solar energy throughout the home have now become far more prevalent in many properties. When buyers see bamboo flooring, eco-friendly materials used in the home’s construction, energy efficient windows or other green alternatives, they are likely to take a closer look. 

Gone are the days when a simple, cookie cutter home would fly off the market.  Buyers are savvier than ever before and one of the most frequent things on their wish list is to find a home that has some character.   Character can be anything from an exposed brick wall in the main living space, to ceiling-high columns, wainscoting and crown molding in a formal dining space, or even original wood floors that have been restored.  If you see the potential in your home be sure to tap it to the fullest and highlight the feature.


If you are putting your home on the market and there seems to be conversion potential in the space to incorporate some of the concepts mentioned above, be sure to consult with your Realtor for a walk-through of your home.  Given the constant exposure to the market and their in-depth knowledge of the specific area, Realtors will likely be able to shed valuable insight on whether you should make any changes, offer pricing discounts to allow potential buyers to renovate themselves or leave it as is.

How to Make a Buyer WANT Your House! Staging your house, before it’s too late and you lose the sale

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If you’ve shopped for a home, chances are you’ve come across one that you really wish you hadn’t visited in the first place. True, houses for sale ought to have a certain “lived in” quality to them, because they are to be lived in after all, but the art of tactfully balancing just the right amount of homeliness with neutrality is not so simple. You need to know what you’re doing when you prepare to set up your house and show it to potential buyers. We’ve put together some great tips for home-sellers so you can get the same results you’d get by hiring a professional staging company.

Fix Up the Place

One of the biggest mistakes homeowners make before putting their house up for sale is to neglect areas in the house that need attention. Folks, don’t leave that faulty step unrepaired, only for a potential buyer to step on, slide off of or worse, get injured on – FIX IT! You might think potential buyers won’t notice but they are walking around on your premises like hawks, noticing each little detail. The good news is that they are noticing the first-rate stuff too, so as long as you have the home’s amenities in order and other major areas in tip-top condition, you should be in good shape. Here’s how:

Get Rid of the Clutter

If you want to successfully sell your house, you need to get those potential buyers to imagine they already live there. Too much clutter, hobby-oriented items or personal possessions that most people may not be able to identify with, can easily get in the way of that vision. Organize things in stylish storage bins or better yet, have a garage sale before the open house and get rid of unwanted stuff. You have to move soon anyway, why not kill two birds with one stone? A clean and organized home will seem like a clean slate to buyers, who can then see themselves moving in without much hassle and settle in effortlessly.

Stay Neutral

Skip the tie and dye sofa cushions, shaggy 70s rug and don’t light incense on the day of your open house. While you’re at it, don’t fill the space with gender-specific things either. Buyers should walk into a neutral ground – literally. Light to medium colors, preferably in beige tones, are the simplest way to pull buyers’ attention away from other personal aspects of your home that they may not be able to identify with. Beige goes with almost anything so if someone considering purchasing your home can imagine their things in the space, then you’ve just crossed one of the most major hurdles in home-selling – making a buyer identify with the home.

Make It a Modern, Inviting Environment

If you don’t already have them, invest in a few modern decorative accessories to improve the look of your space while lending an air of style and taste and making it more enticing. It doesn’t have to take much but depending on how you set it up, you can enhance a given space with a few simple additions and deletions. Take your over-crowded study and rearrange the bookshelf to display only a few strategic but essential books, like a leather-bound set of encyclopedia or some literature classics. In the same way, leave a few children’s toys in a child’s room but be sure to display them tastefully.

Put a Few Finishing Touches in Place

The idea is that you want your house to be sold – and you probably want it sold fast. If you are careful to respect the people who are visiting your space to decide whether it’s the right one for them, then you are doing something that a lot of homeowners neglect to consider. Taking down a piece of controversial artwork that may make a potential purchaser uncomfortable could be the one bargaining chip that could make or break the sale. Arranging for all those who currently live in the home to be away during the open house and while showing the house being dressed in a way to present a good impression are also great ways to tip the scales in the right direction.

It’s very simple. You need to make the potential buyer feel right at home from the get-go. If from the moment they walk in and smell cinnamon cookies baking makes them wish this was already home – then you’re already two steps ahead and can call the open house a success! Of course, a signature on the dotted line is where the real success lies and as long as the buyer feels at home, chances are that if everything else lines up – the sale is a winner!

Wealth Building Strategies

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How Does a Wealth Building Real Estate Investment Strategy Work?

Any equity/wealth building real estate investment strategy has to aim for securing your financial future through sound investments. Below you will find 3 different basic techniques and strategies to real estate wealth building over time. One of the most unique features with today’s lending and investing is the technique of OPM or (Other Peoples Money). Now, as an investor if you have a home with equity you have OPM to use with out taking money out of your pocket. I have used this plan and a local bank with a great financing product to help investors purchase for flip and rental properties while helping them keep cash free for future purchases.

I am excited about this topic as I currently own several rentals my self and enjoy helping others with their investment seeking. Please note that at present a current 15yr mortgage is sitting at 3%, allowing your tenant to pay down the mortgage faster, thus enjoying “free cash” at a quicker pace. Remember these all work well; it’s a matter of matching a strategy to your style and personality.

I hope you enjoy these strategies as much as I enjoyed putting them together for you.

Happy Reading!!!!

1. The Lease Option Strategy 

A real estate lease option is also known as “Rent to Own” or “Lease with Option.” The option gives you the right to control a propertywithout the obligation to buy it. With this right, you can purchase the property during a specific period of time (agreed on by both parties when an option agreement is made). However – and this is key - you’re not required to make the purchase. Therefore, if you don’t exercise this option, it expires, and you have no further obligation to the seller. In most cases, as a buyer, you have to pay an option fee (which may or not be applied to the purchase price of the property). Within this strategy, you have several methods to achieve cash flow--Lease Option In, Lease Option Out, or both. 

a. Lease Option In

This occurs when you negotiate a lease on a property (usually 2-5 years) and include an option to buy at the end of the period at a pre-negotiated price. Once you gain the right to lease the property, you can then lease it at a higher payment to a lease-to-own buyer. The difference between the lease payment and the occupant rent constitutes your cash flow.

b. Lease Option Out

This happens when you rent a property you own to a tenant with the option to buy at the end of the lease period. With this strategy, you gain increased cash flow during the lease period and equity as well. It’s also low cost since you need only a small percentage of cash to gain control. Then, there’s the fact that you limit your risk while saving capital for other investments (leverage). Another advantage is the potential for a substantial return on your investment through property appreciation. A final advantage is that you don’t have to be a full-time investor in order to get started in the real estate market. You can use this method as a stepping stone to a full-time career as an investor. Due diligence on your part can prevent many of the disadvantages of the lease option strategy.

What are those disadvantages? Well, the seller may be experiencing financial problems. This can result in liens on a property or delinquent property taxes, and it can get very expensive and time-consuming to get all these legal issues sorted out. Another possible disadvantage occurs in a situation when the property doesn’t appreciate. If it doesn’t do that before the option expires, then the lease-option holder won’t be able to buy unless he or she is able to bring in the cash for the difference between the appraised value and option price.

2. The Buy and Hold Strategy

With this strategy, you buy a property and lease it out. Unlike the Lease Option strategy, you’re now the actual owner and have all the responsibilities that go along with ownership. Buy and hold has several advantages. One is low risk, since, generally speaking, holding on to properties long-term brings in appreciation and income that’s hard to beat. Buy and Hold also provides you more flexibility than with the lease option strategies listed earlier. By that, I mean that you have the option of selling at any time or holding onto the property for the cash flow and equity buildup as long as you care to! This strategy is also a good way to build up investment capital.

As with any investment strategy, there are disadvantages. One is low liquidity. In other words, you can’t simply sell most properties overnight if you need cash Another disadvantage is the potential for unforeseen problems; e.g. building code violations, rezoning, etc. Such troubles can lower the value of the property. A third possible disadvantage is dealing with difficult tenants in properties and also the usual problems that come with such properties (leaky faucets, electrical malfunctions, etc.). 

3. The Buy, Improve and Hold Strategy

This is the strategy many investors feel is the best one for building cash flow and equity. You buy a property, improve it, and then hold onto until it reaches your target level of appreciation. Overall, it’s a fact that properties tend to appreciate over time (despite fluctuations in market prices), so you gain value with a “hold’ strategy. And, of course, when you make improvements, you gain the potential for higher rents (more cash flow) and greater equity buildup.

And, in regard to those improvements, some of them are classified as capital improvements by the IRS, so you have the potential for the reduction of your taxes paid on the cash flow earned from the property. Finally, you have the potential for re-zoning. If you can get a property approved for a different use, you can then create more income and profit. The disadvantages are the same as the Buy and Hold Method.

Want to learn more about Buy, Improve and Hold strategies?Contact me today and I’ll provide you with answers or direct you to someone who can! Look forward to talking with you!

10 Questions Every Homeowner Should Ask an Agent

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As you embark upon what will be one of the most important transactions of your life – whether buying or selling a home – you should be absolutely certain that you are happy with the real estate agent you have hired to help you manage it.  
To help you with this all-important hiring process, here are ten important questions to ask an agent before you decide on whether or not to hire them:
Question #1
How Close Do You Get in Sale Price Related to Asking Price?
It is important to ask for this information as it relates to the past 60 days.  Given that many agents are not that active in the market, you would be best served to obtain the most recent information possible.  As a seller, your agent’s ability to come close to the asking price is a strong attribute and can mean a difference of thousands of dollars in your transaction.
Question #2
How Many Days on Average Does It Take You To Sell a Home?
What’s the average number of days on the market for properties listed by your prospective agent? Since this statistic can reach as high as six to nine months and in some cases and as much as a year, it is important to ask how your prospective agent ranks on the scale. 
Question #3
What is the Rate of Homes Sold on a Monthly Basis?
Knowing the absorption rate of homes similar to yours that are on the market allows valuable insight as to how the market is performing for your particular needs.  Not only does it give sellers a glimpse into the system and how it would translate to their own sale but it also presents a broader view of the entire market in general.
Question #4
What Do You Do Differently To Get Homes Sold?
Especially with the current trying economic times, many agents have been faced with adversities trying to sell the homes on their list.  One of the best ways to learn whether your agent is a self-starter is to find out what they have done in the past when they were unable to successfully sell homes.  Ask why the agent feels the home(s) did not sell and then find out what they are doing differently to get them sold.
Question #5
What Percentage of Deals Do You Represent the Buyer Versus Seller? 
Some agents work primarily with sellers while others work mostly with buyers and still others are experienced with dual-agency deals.  Depending on your needs, you will benefit from an agent that specializes in one of the two.  It is important to ask which side of the fence your prospective agent tends to represent.  
Questions #6
How Many Homes Did You Sell Last Year?
Nothing speaks louder than numbers.  A very important statistic, ask what the total number of homes sold last year was and if possible try to get a more long-term picture of the agent’s performance in this regard. You can also ask for a month-to-month breakdown to see if there are certain stronger months.
Questions #7
Can You Provide a List of the Ten Most Current Clients You Have Worked With?
Rather than rely on the given list of referrals that many agents have handpicked, it’s a good idea to obtain a list of clients that are currently working with this Realtor.  It will provide a much-needed glimpse into the agent’s performance on various stages of real estate transactions.
Question #8
How Much of Your Work Day Do You Dedicate to the Real Estate Industry?
You want an agent that is 100% committed to their  job and if they are focusing more on a day job with real estate being a secondary thing, you run the risk of inaccessibility, lack of knowledge and experience plus lackluster motivation.  Find out how they feel about the real estate industry and whether they are passionate about their work.
Question #9
What is Your Style of Marketing – Proactive or Reactive?
What is your potential agent’s style of working?  Does he or she speak to a large number of people each day? Are they proactive or reactive in nature when it comes to marketing? See how this lines up with your real estate needs.  Are you in a hurry to buy or sell?  Does a laid back agent hinder your efforts? Or does slow and steady work better for you?
Question #10
What Does Your Daily Schedule Look Like?
The typical schedule of a real estate professional can be very telling.  By asking for a copy or general idea of how they conduct their day in terms of their work, you can get a good idea of how much time is devoted to the profession and what kind of business they are running.