Category Archives: Shopping

The Future of Commercial Real Estate

Although serious supply-demand imbalances have continued to plague real estate markets into the 2000s in many areas, the mobility of capital in current sophisticated financial markets is encouraging to real estate developers. The loss of tax-shelter markets drained a significant amount of capital from real estate and, in the short run, had a devastating effect on segments of the industry. However, most experts agree that many of those driven from real estate development and the real estate finance business were unprepared and ill-suited as investors. In the long run, a return to real estate development that is grounded in the basics of economics, real demand, and real profits will benefit the industry.

Syndicated ownership of real estate was introduced in the early 2000s. Because many early investors were hurt by collapsed markets or by tax-law changes, the concept of syndication is currently being applied to more economically sound cash flow-return real estate. This return to sound economic practices will help ensure the continued growth of syndication. Real estate investment trusts (REITs), which suffered heavily in the real estate recession of the mid-1980s, have recently reappeared as an efficient vehicle for public ownership of real estate. REITs can own and operate real estate efficiently and raise equity for its purchase. The shares are more easily traded than are shares of other syndication partnerships. Thus, the REIT is likely to provide a good vehicle to satisfy the public’s desire to own real estate.

A final review of the factors that led to the problems of the 2000s is essential to understanding the opportunities that will arise in the 2000s. Real estate cycles are fundamental forces in the industry. The oversupply that exists in most product types tends to constrain development of new products, but it creates opportunities for the commercial banker.

The decade of the 2000s witnessed a boom cycle in real estate. The natural flow of the real estate cycle wherein demand exceeded supply prevailed during the 1980s and early 2000s. At that time office vacancy rates in most major markets were below 5 percent. Faced with real demand for office space and other types of income property, the development community simultaneously experienced an explosion of available capital. During the early years of the Reagan administration, deregulation of financial institutions increased the supply availability of funds, and thrifts added their funds to an already growing cadre of lenders. At the same time, the Economic Recovery and Tax Act of 1981 (ERTA) gave investors increased tax “write-off” through accelerated depreciation, reduced capital gains taxes to 20 percent, and allowed other income to be sheltered with real estate “losses.” In short, more equity and debt funding was available for real estate investment than ever before.

Even after tax reform eliminated many tax incentives in 1986 and the subsequent loss of some equity funds for real estate, two factors maintained real estate development. The trend in the 2000s was toward the development of the significant, or “trophy,” real estate projects. Office buildings in excess of one million square feet and hotels costing hundreds of millions of dollars became popular. Conceived and begun before the passage of tax reform, these huge projects were completed in the late 1990s. The second factor was the continued availability of funding for construction and development. Even with the debacle in Texas, lenders in New England continued to fund new projects. After the collapse in New England and the continued downward spiral in Texas, lenders in the mid-Atlantic region continued to lend for new construction. After regulation allowed out-of-state banking consolidations, the mergers and acquisitions of commercial banks created pressure in targeted regions. These growth surges contributed to the continuation of large-scale commercial mortgage lenders [http://www.cemlending.com] going beyond the time when an examination of the real estate cycle would have suggested a slowdown. The capital explosion of the 2000s for real estate is a capital implosion for the 2000s. The thrift industry no longer has funds available for commercial real estate. The major life insurance company lenders are struggling with mounting real estate. In related losses, while most commercial banks attempt to reduce their real estate exposure after two years of building loss reserves and taking write-downs and charge-offs. Therefore the excessive allocation of debt available in the 2000s is unlikely to create oversupply in the 2000s.

No new tax legislation that will affect real estate investment is predicted, and, for the most part, foreign investors have their own problems or opportunities outside of the United States. Therefore excessive equity capital is not expected to fuel recovery real estate excessively.

Looking back at the real estate cycle wave, it seems safe to suggest that the supply of new development will not occur in the 2000s unless warranted by real demand. Already in some markets the demand for apartments has exceeded supply and new construction has begun at a reasonable pace.

Opportunities for existing real estate that has been written to current value de-capitalized to produce current acceptable return will benefit from increased demand and restricted new supply. New development that is warranted by measurable, existing product demand can be financed with a reasonable equity contribution by the borrower. The lack of ruinous competition from lenders too eager to make real estate loans will allow reasonable loan structuring. Financing the purchase of de-capitalized existing real estate for new owners can be an excellent source of real estate loans for commercial banks.

investments in the real estate market?

The real estate market is one where a profitable investment is always to be found; somewhere amidst the foreclosure lists or lying dormant on a real estate agent’s desk. This guide aims to give you the background necessary to allow you to find profitable investment real estate.

The first key to profiting from real estate is to find a highly motivated and urgent seller. The idea is that to negotiate a lower price on a piece of real estate requires the seller to want to sell their house quickly or desperately. If you are talking to an unmotivated seller on the telephone then it will soon be very clear that you are not going to get a discounted price on this real estate. If the seller is unmotivated then you will be unable to negotiate a lucrative deal.

One counterintuitive aspect of real estate investment is that you normally make a profit when you buy real estate and not when you sell it. This means that, while there is often little you can do to increase the value of real estate; sellers are human and are often willing to negotiate their price. Saving money while buying real estate is the key to selling homes for a profit in the real estate market.

With that in mind, your first step is to develop a list of real estate properties that you are considering investing in. You are going to need to view around ten pieces of real estate before you careful choose which one will be your chosen investment.

One useful technique for sourcing profitable real estate properties is to interview real estate agents; the people that profit from real estate on a daily basis. Interviewing a real estate agent and finding out if they own any investment real estate they would be very useful. Remember, they will be more than willing to be interviewed because you are offering them your regular custom.

Real estate agents understand the market “inside out” and can be an excellent source of investment properties with low prices because others have not seen or understood the potential of them. After you create a good relationship with some local real estate agents you will typically receive a phone call every time they notice a good property reach their desk. Remember, they receive a lot in return for this relationship because the more real estate that they sell the more commission that they earn.

Another very useful method for sourcing great real estate deals is the use of foreclosure lists. All you have to do is to search Google for “foreclosure lists” in your local area. Typically, you will have to pay a subscription fee to access this but it is definitely worth the cost.

In order to profit from foreclosure lists easily and quickly, follow these steps:

* Firstly, buy the daily foreclosure list for your area and flip through the pages.
* Select the only the real estate that has been on the list for less than thirty days.
* Highlight the real estate that is within your budget.
* Look particularly for real estate that is located in nice surroundings or desirable neighborhoods and only select properties that are within fifty miles from where you live.
* Using the internet, access the local tax records and obtain the tax value of this particular piece of real estate.
* Also, search for the real estate in question on meritrealty.org. This website is also designed to give clues as to the value of real estate.

Once you have picked a few potential properties then ask your real estate agent to take you for a viewing. If you are happy with this real estate then hire a real estate property surveyor to make sure that the house is structurally sound. This step is necessary to ensure the value of your investment.

After this point you will be in a position to make an offer on this real estate and to attempt to “buy low” in order to “sell high”.

Admittedly, finding a profitable piece of real estate is usually the result of a small amount of hard work. However, this article has put you at a great advantage in the real estate market. Also, the rewards of finding valuable real estate speak for themselves. Buying an under priced piece of real estate can mean profits of tens of thousands of dollars.

Real Estate Auctions

On a sunny afternoon in Florida, an energetic crowd gathers on the lawn of a high end luxury estate. A loud and eager banter between an auctioneer, a group of bidders and bidder assistants fills the air. For several minutes the auctioneer asks for the next highest bid and the bidders respond. Suddenly the bidders grow silent. The high bidder holds his breath in anticipation of winning the auction. The auctioneer calls for one more bid. In a loud clear voice which rolls over the audience he says, “Fair warning, last chance” the auctioneer pauses, “SOLD!” And in less than 10 minutes another multimillion dollar estate has changed owners.

Successful real estate auctions like the one above are happening all over North America and the Caribbean. Recently real estate auctions have been on the rise, the increase in popularity is partly driven by growing inventories and fading buyer confidence. Properties that were selling in weeks using traditional methods are now languishing on the market unable to attract buyers even as seller’s lower prices. Many say the real estate boom is over but savvy buyers and sellers are profiting from real estate auctions.

Real Estate Auctions Work in Up or Down Markets.

Regardless of trends or market cycles, real estate auctions provide an open and transparent process for buyers and sellers. Properly conducted real estate auctions attract ready and willing buyers and motivate them to act now.

The auction method removes the “wait and see” attitude which serves to further depress real estate values. Buyers are always concerned about overpaying. Buyers gain confidence with their purchases at real estate auctions because they can see what others are willing to pay.

When market demand is high and inventories low, real estate auctions can deliver selling prices well above what a willing seller would have accepted in a negotiated private treaty sale. In good selling climates many property owners using traditional real estate methods; negotiating with one buyer at a time, leave thousands of dollars of equity on the table. During up markets real estate auctions are the best way to establish top market price.

Evaluating Your Real Estate for Auction

Not every property or seller for that matter makes a good candidate for auction. First of all sellers must be ready to sell now and for the current market value. Also a real estate auction will not fix problems caused by a downturn in market value of your property, if you owe more than a willing buyer will pay, be prepared to come to closing with your check book.

Properties that do well in real estate auctions have a high uniqueness factor. Ask your self, “What makes my property different from most others?” Maybe you own a resort property or high end luxury home, commercial properties and land do very well at auction. Real estate auctions thrive on uniqueness. If your property is like everyone else’s, the best thing you can do is offer the most competitive price.

Most importantly sellers must be reasonable about setting a minimum bid. A seller must look at the lowest, most current comps and price below that to generate the interest and urgency necessary for a successful real estate auction. Once the auction begins and qualified bidders start competing against one another you can watch the selling price increase.

Locate a Qualified Real Estate Auctioneer

Start by checking with the National Auctioneers Association, the best real estate auctioneers belong to this organization. These real estate auctioneers are well trained and adhere to a standard of practice and a code of ethics. Many attend the annual International Auctioneers Conference where the latest techniques and innovations in the real estate auction industry are presented.

Find out if the company you are interviewing is a full time real estate auction firm. Many real estate agents are getting auction licenses yet have no experience with the auction method of marketing. Conducting a successful real estate auction is nothing like (private treaty) traditional real estate sales. Go with a real estate auction pro.

You’re probably better of with an auction house that specializes in real estate auctions. There are many qualified auctioneers who have generations of experience selling personal property; furniture, dishes, lawn equipment and the occasional rare painting. Selling real estate at auction is a complex matter that should only be attempted by full time experienced real estate auction professionals.

Commissions and fees may vary, sellers must pay all marketing expenses up front and buyers typically pay 10% of the sales price to the auctioneer of which a share goes to participating real estate agents.

Types of Real Estate Auctions

Auctions are effective because they create a seller’s market. Professionally conducted real estate auctions create urgency, a reason to buy today and competition for the property. Terms and conditions of sale are established ahead of the auction. Real estate auctions will follow one of these three approaches:

Absolute Auction

The property is sold to the highest bidder regardless of price- using this process often returns the highest sale price.

Minimum Bid Auction

Seller agrees to sell at or above a published minimum bid price – this method is useful for internet auctions.

Seller Confirmation or Reserve Auction

With a reserve auction, the seller “reserves” the right to accept or decline any bids usually within 48 hours of the auction. Reserve auctions are used when there is a lien on the property from a lender or a court ordered sale with a minimum selling price.

Real Estate Leads

Working with a lead generation company has given me interesting insight into both real estate leads and agents. I dealt with both ends: the consumer and the agents themselves, and my job was to make them both happy. Yeah right. Easier said than done.

The consumer side is easy – real estate leads want a home value, they want information on the market, they want a real estate agent and we get them that. The real estate agents? Well that’s another story – they pretty much wanted everything under the sun when it comes to real estate leads. They wanted to be handed people ready to list their homes with them asap, with no work involved on the agent’s part. They want listings, not real estate leads.

Well, if I could provide that consistently, all the time, I’d either have a multi-million dollar company, or I’d be doing real estate full time myself. Get this through your heads agents: there is no magic service out there that will hand you listings for a low fee. Instead, these services provide you with real estate leads and it is YOUR job to turn them into clients. Got that? Real estate leads + you = clients!

YOU went to the classes, YOU studied up on sales and marketing techniques and YOU printed up all kinds of trinkets with your name and logo on them for your real estate leads. Ergo, YOU must convince your real estate leads to work with you. And if you’re not converting them, maybe you need to take a look at your own methods, rather than immediately blame the source of the real estate leads.

By now, I’ve probably heard every excuse under the sun as to why online real estate leads are bad or bogus. And that’s all it is, an excuse, a cop out to make you feel better about not being able to turn your real estate leads into listings. That being said, here are the top 5 cop-outs I’ve heard over the years about following up with real estate leads and my responses to them.

1. I’m a new agent and no one wants to use a new agent.

Well, how do they know you’re a new agent? Did you announce it the second you spoke with your real estate leads? You don’t need to tell all your real estate leads that you’re new. If they ask, tell them, and be honest, but don’t just volunteer the information. And how to you know “no one” wants to use a new agent – sounds like a gross generalization to me. You won’t know until you get out there and try – convince your real estate leads that to be new means you’re cutting edge, the best thing out there right now, show them what an expert you’ve become, even if you’re new to the business. Just TRY to convert them. Assuming from the start your real estate leads won’t want to use you because you’re new doesn’t even give you a chance.

2. Some real estate leads are on the Do Not Call Registry.

So? There’s no such thing as a Do Not Knock list. If your real estate leads are on the DNC Registry and you feel THAT uncomfortable risking a call, you should have your butt in the car, directions in your hand and preparing yourself mentally for your introduction once you knock at their door. And actually, as per the basic rules of the Do Not Call Registry, if a consumer on the lists makes an inquiry (which is what online real estate leads are!), you can contact them for up to 3 months after the inquiry. So you’ve got 3 months to get them on the phone, after that, there’s still always that door! Don’t use the DNC as a cop-out method with real estate leads. It’s a flimsy excuse.

3. It’s unprofessional to go knock on someone’s door.

This is the line I usually got after suggesting stopping by the property. My thing is, who said so? Who told you it is unprofessional to go visit your real estate leads’ homes and drop off the information they requested? That is a matter of opinion and as long as your real estate leads don’t think it’s unprofessional, you’re good. And by showing initiative and going out of your way to meet your real estate leads, you may have just earned a client for life.

4. These real estate leads are too far from my area, or it’s in a very bad part of town.

This is probably my favorite cop out, because it just sounds ridiculous to me. If your real estate leads are too far, why did you sign up for that area? Or, if you are getting some real estate leads out of your area, how far? Most of the time, agents complain about having to drive 30 minutes away. To me, 30 minutes of my time is DEFINITELY worth the fat commission check I could get. And if some real estate leads are too far, haven’t you EVER heard of a REFERRAL COMMISSION? Find an great agent in the lead’s area and send it on over. That way you’ll still get a portion of the commission AND you’ve saved 30 precious minutes of your time.

When real estate leads are in a bad part of town, it usually means it’s a very low-value home and is located in either a ghetto or backwater somewhere. It pisses me off when real estate agents say that the home isn’t worth their time. Guess what buddy? When you got your license, you gained knowledge that others don’t have, but will need at some point. You should be willing and open to share this with your real estate leads, no matter what the economic status of their home and income is. If you don’t want to help them, no one can force you, but you are a BAD agent if you’re not at least willing to find someone who will your real estate leads.

5. If they wanted to be contacted, they would have given all their correct contact information.

This is a tough one, because on one level I do agree with this SOMEWHAT. Real estate leads who give a good name, number, address and email seems to be more approachable than real estate leads that have fake names, or fake numbers, etc. But again, this statement is really a matter of opinion. You have NO idea what’s going through the consumer’s head when they filled out their information. Maybe they’re not technologically savvy and thought if they put their phone number over the Web, everybody would get it. Maybe they mistyped something. Maybe they don’t want to be hassled daily by telemarketer calls but DO still want the information. Until you actually touch base with your real estate leads, you have no idea where their head is at. What would hurt worse, getting a phone slammed in your ear, or missing out on a $15,000 commission because you THOUGHT they didn’t need anything since they gave a wrong phone number?

Commercial Real Estate

Real estate has always been known as the safest of investments.

In fact, real estate investment completed after proper research into and evaluation of the property (to determine actual and future value), can lead to tremendous profit.
This is one reason many people choose real estate investment as their full time job.

Discussions about real estate tend to focus on residential real estate; commercial real estate, except to seasoned investors, typically seems to take a back seat.
However, commercial real estate is also a great option for investing in real estate.

Commercial real estate includes a large variety of property types.
To a majority of people, commercial real estate is only office complexes or factories or industrial units.
However, that is not all of commercial real estate. There is far more to commercial real estate.
Strip malls, health care centers, retail units and warehouse are all good examples of commercial real estate as is vacant land.
Even residential properties like apartments (or any property that consists of more than four residential units) are considered commercial real estate. In fact, such commercial real estate is very much in demand.

So, is commercial real estate really profitable?
Absolutely, in fact if it were not profitable I would not be writing about commercial real estate at all!!
However, with commercial real estate recognizing the opportunity is a bit more difficult when compared to residential real estate.
But commercial real estate profits can be huge (in fact, much bigger than you might realize from a residential real estate transaction of the same size).

There are many reasons to delve into commercial real estate investment.
For example you might purchase to resell after a certain appreciation level has occurred or to generate a substantial income by leasing the property out to retailers or other business types or both.

In fact, commercial real estate development is treated as a preliminary
indicator of the impending growth of the residential real estate market.
Therefore, once you recognize the probability of significant commercial growth within a region (whatever the reason i.e. municipal tax concessions), you should begin to evaluate the potential for appreciation in commercial real estate prices and implement your investment strategy quickly.

Regarding commercial real estate investment strategies it is important that you identify and set investment goals (i.e. immediate income through rental vs later investment income through resale) and that you know what you can afford and how you will effect the purchase.

It would be wise to determine your goals then meet with your banker (or financier(s)) prior to viewing and selecting your commercial real estate.

Also remain open minded and understand that should the right (perfect)
opportunity present itself, your investment strategy might need to be revisited and altered, sometimes considerably.
For example: If you find that commercial real estate, (i.e. land) is available in big chunks which are too expensive for you to buy alone but represents tremendous opportunity, you could look at forming a small investor group (i.e. with friends or family) and buy it together (then split the profits later).

Or in another case (i.e. when a retail boom is expected in a region), though your commercial real estate investment strategy was devised around purchasing vacant land, you might find it more profitable to buy a property such as a strip mall or small plaza that you can lease to retailers or a property that you can convert into a warehouse for the purpose of renting to small businesses.

So in a nutshell, commercial real estate presents a veritable plethora of
investing opportunities, you just need to recognize them and go for it.

New York Real Estate Ownership Guide

This article is designed to be a roadmap for the first time homebuyer or seller. Throughout, I’ll guide you through the many steps of purchasing or selling your property and explain to you in the process how to avoid the most common mistakes. You will also learn both the legal and psychological problems often encountered.

For most people, buying (or selling) a home is one of the biggest part of living the “American dream”. It’s also probably the biggest investments they will ever make. Not surprising then, that many find this experience to be very exciting but also worrisome at the same time. Achieving the final transaction and transfer of funds for the property (referred to as the “closing”) can leave many home owners feeling exhausted, even depressed. The same can be said for buyers. However, if the process is done correctly, it can also be both interesting and exciting for everybody involved. The ultimate outcome depends on many factors: time, energy needed to devote to the transaction, thoughtfulness and patience. All these traits are included in the process, and all can have an impact on your bottom line.

That’s why preparation is key in any successful transaction. The process, complicated by multiple transactions and waiting periods, can be quite confusing. Real estate transactions require expertise. Those wanting total control of the transaction with a do-it-yourself attitude can make many costly mistakes. So unless buyers and sellers have a solid background in Real Estate, they stand to lose thousands of dollars in any given transaction.

Saving on New York Real Estate Attorney Fees

Trying to save a few extra dollars on legal fees may sound like a nice idea, especially for those with large down payments. But this strategy may backfire. You may end up being penny-wise, but broke in the long run. There are many detailed procedures involved in the purchase process that the vast majority of consumers may overlook.

In one of the biggest purchases of your life, it’s simply not the time to “bargain shop”. Remember the key criteria: if you can’t afford to see the big picture in the transaction you probably aren’t ready to close the deal. The amount of legal fees charged should not be the deciding factor in hiring a particular New York Real Estate Lawyer. You retain a New York Real Estate Lawyer because you trust that they will represent your best interest in the transaction. The bottom line is that you want a New York Real Estate Lawyer you can trust, if trust becomes an issue you are well advised to seek another New York Real Estate Lawyer, no matter how low the fees are. For the most part, a New York Real Estate Lawyers aim to satisfy their clients and keep that satisfaction within the legal bounds of the law –all at the same time. The happier their clients, the busier the New York Real Estate Attorney will be with future clients. So it makes common sense as much as it makes dollars sense to retain a New York Real Estate Lawyer who aim is to achieve the client’s goal in the real estate transaction.
Real Estate transactions involve use of standard legal language. It is quite understandable then, if a buyer or seller do not understand the terms used in the transaction. First-time homebuyers have the worst experience. That is the reason why it makes sense to hire a New York Real Estate Lawyer who can represent your interest and can help you avoid pitfalls and unnecessary problems.
If not detected prior to closing, once a problem occurs, it can take time and money to correct the situation. An attorney with experience in New York real estate law can help steer a buyer or seller away from costly mistakes.

What kind of home fits my needs?

When buying a home, you have to determine what property will fit your needs. Picking the right kind of property to purchase requires careful planning, organization, and sacrifice. Since most people don’t have the time, real estate brokers can be extremely helpful in letting you understand the many issues you might encounter. The questions involved can be overwhelming. What matters need further inquiry? Which homes come with bad neighbors? There are many matters which you need to inquire about when you look at different properties that interests you. However, some issues are common to most real estate purchases. A simple tip is to determine what borough you like to live. If you plan on living in Queens, Brooklyn, Bronx, Staten Island, Manhattan or Long Island, you may want to deal with a broker in that borough.

Coop or Condos?

Cooperatives are the most popular property purchased in New York City. One reason for this is a trend away from expense-ridden properties where foreclosures are common. Another reason for coop popularity is convenience. Deals can be less expensive (about half the price of a condo) and may involve less paperwork in the closing. Less financial stress and fewer headaches might sound good, right? But what most buyers don’t know is that when you buy a co-op, you’re NOT buying the physical apartment. Actually, you’re buying “shares” of a corporation that owns the building which contains the co-op on its land. Also keep in mind that, just like any other company, a co-op has officers such as a president, a vice-president and a treasurer. And just like any other company they’re responsible for the well being of the coop. If the coop suffers a financial meltdown, you could lose your apartment investment altogether.

What happens if I do decide to buy a coop?

You receive a stock certificate and a proprietary lease.

The co-op requires that each coop owner pay a “maintenance fee”. If you own a condo, you’ll be paying a “common charge.” Usually, the monthly fee paid by a shareholder is almost double the fee paid by condo owners.

Sometimes a co-op only “owns” the improvements, and some other company or organization owns the land. This form of co-op is not the normal situation, but it does exist. Your New York Real Estate Attorney should be able to assist you in determining if you are purchasing such a property.

Where does the maintenance fee go? How is the money spent?

When an “entity” (i.e. some organization or other company) holds a mortgage of the co-op, the coop corporation must pay a monthly mortgage payment to the bank. The “maintenance fee” charged to coop owners helps the corporation offset this cost. By charging each shareholder a charge per share the “maintenance fee” helps pay the city taxes on the property as a whole and pay for the expenses in maintaining the property (such as the superintendent or doorman) The “common charge” for a condo helps offset the expenses associated with the maintenance of the building. Elevators, painting, cleanliness and any landscaping all require funding not to mention the common areas of the residential unit.

It is important to note that the monthly fee is not fixed. Just like rent, it can be increased. In buying a condo, however, you are buying a portion of the physical building in which the apartment is located. You then own part of the building and will receive a deed to the property that shows that you are the legal owner. The common charges for condos usually tend to be stable. Most co-ops require that a seller receive approval by the board before attempting to sell. Likewise, the buyer must also be approved by the board to make sure that the buyer will be a “responsible” co-op owner. One exception to this situation is when the coop has a special status as being a “sponsor unit”. That means that when the building was converted into a co-op, the co-op conversion plans allowed the sponsor of the building to reserve the right to sell unsold shares without board approval. If you are purchasing the co-op from the original sponsor, then most likely you will not need to get board approval. The same applies to subletting the unit. In most cases you’ll need permission. In some cases, purchasing the unit from the original sponsor, may entitle you to the same rights and privileges as the sponsor.

Recently after the cost of fuel skyrocketed, many co-ops and condos monthly fees increased. So when buying a coop or condo make sure that you understand the financial future implications. Ask for the financial information before signing on the bottom line.

Should I buy a single or multi-family residence?

One of the most common dilemmas encountered when purchasing a home is whether to buy a “single-family home” or “muti-family home”. Common sense dictates that a single-family home will cost you significantly less than a multi-family home, and will appreciate accordingly. What are the advantages? The peace that comes with it is enticing for some. Not having to deal with renting to strangers, and the headaches of hiring (or being) a landlord. However, on the other side of that argument, a multi-family home can be a financial plus: the rental income helps with the monthly mortgage payments and makes ownership less financially stressful.

How can a real estate agents help me?

Normally the first person you may have direct contact with in the purchase or sale of land or residence, is a real estate agent. Most people use them rather than do it themselves. The agent works for his or her supervisor, and they are called “brokers”. The kind of relationship you have with the agent can have a major impact on how well you as a buyer or seller, understand the initial process, and transaction. Two important points: Agents can normally provide good advice and suggestions regarding your purchase or sale. Since they’re well-educated in both the property markets and their field, they are can give you past performance for a particular property. However, although the agent may seem to work for you, unless expressly contracted for, they normally work for the seller!

What is a Binder? Why is it important?

A binder (otherwise known as an “offer to purchase”) is the first document secured by a minimal money deposit. You will normally sign a binder at the moment that you decide to make the seller an offer to purchase. This tells the seller that you are serious about making the purchase. Once the Binder Agreement is executed, the real estate broker or agent will present it to the seller. If accepted, the property will no longer be shown to potential buyers. It is important to note that the binder, unlike a contract of sale, is subject to a time limit. Unless the binder details the money to be refunded, it will be forfeited under most circumstances.

What should I know about the “Contract of Sale”?

The contract of sale is the first formal stage of the buying and selling process. When you have retained a New York Real Estate Lawyer and have made an acceptable offer, at this point in time, you and the seller will sign a contract of sale. The seller’s New York Real Estate Attorney will normally draft the contract and then the buyer’s New York Real Estate Attorney will review the contract to make sure that you are protected from any future problems (both legal and residential issues).

It’s also important to note that when the buyer signs the contract, a “Down Payment” is given to the seller for the seller’s New York Real Estate Attorney to hold in a special account called an “Escrow”. The seller’s New York Real Estate Attorney is required by ethical rules to do so. However, not to worry: the entire amount will of course, be credited to the buyer and applied to the final outstanding balance at “closing.”

The biggest mistake a buyer or seller can make is signing a contract of sale before getting adequate legal representation. A contract of sale is an agreement to purchase and sell the property. Once it’s signed, it becomes a legal document. If you change your mind and want to change the terms of the agreement or if you want out of the transaction altogether, then you will find yourself in an extremely frustrating legal bind. That’s why an experienced New York Real Estate Lawyer is necessary throughout the process, especially at the beginning stages. The contract of sale dictates exactly how the transaction will proceed. It says how payments will be made and collected, and contains all the important details. Tell your New York Real Estate Lawyer every detail which you think is important and essential to you intensions. For example, maybe you are selling another property while simultaneously buying a home. Since the sale of your property is a condition, that condition is a major detail that you should tell your New York Real Estate Lawyer since, the other “party” may have not accepted your offer had they known such a condition.

Another issue that sometimes comes up is the issue of occupancy. Generally a house is sold vacant. However, if you would like to keep the existing tenants, it is a good idea to tell your New York Real Estate Lawyer (assuming it’s not a new construction), and that by itself can save you time and hassle in the process of renting the property later on.

As a seller, should I have my home inspected?

Home inspections can sometimes make or break the deal. A New York Real Estate Lawyer can secure a condition in the contract of sale which allows the buyer to refuse to purchase the property if the home inspector determines that the structure is not physically sound. Termite problems or signs of other wood-destroying insects are great reasons for a buyer to opt out of the contract. In such cases the seller usually return the buyer’s down payment and everybody walks away from the table. Home inspections are relatively convenient, inexpensive and will save you a lot of time and money.

Finding a New York Real Estate Lawyer?

When looking for legal representation, most importantly, you want a New York Real Estate Attorney whom you feel comfortable with. If you don’t feel comfortable with a particular New York Real Estate Attorney, chances are that you will not have a good working relationship.

An experienced New York Real Estate Lawyer, who you feel comfortable with, can be greatly beneficial in explaining and reducing the mystery out of buying or selling real estate in New York. Your New York Real Estate Lawyer can review and prepare the contract of sale, order title insurance, and conduct key parts of the transaction. Making sure the property you are purchasing has no undisclosed liens. If they do exist, your New York Real Estate Lawyer can take care that they will be satisfied prior to the closing.

The last thing you need is to have doubts and questions about your transaction. You want to make sure that after all the documents are signed and notarized, that you understand what just happened and that you are confident that everything was done correctly.

When should I close the deal?

The closing is the climax of the transaction. The buyer’s New York Real Estate Attorney is normally the ringmaster who coordinates the time and place of the closing. The closing is where the parties meet to finalize the deal. Normally the parties you will see at the meeting are the seller and their New York Real Estate Attorney, the bank’s New York Real Estate Attorney, and the title representative. What occurs at the closing table can be broken down to three major steps:

The bank makes the loan to the buyer and in return the buyer gives the bank an interest in the property (Mortgage)

The buyer turns that loan over to the seller and in turn receives a deed from the seller

The title company makes certain that the seller does indeed own the property they are transferring

Unless there are any serious outstanding issues, the closing can take about 2-3 hours. At this stage, the buyer should have obtained homeowners Insurance prior to the closing. Since not all insurance companies charge the same prices for the replacement value of a house you might want to shop around before the closing.

Pop Quiz Commercial Real Estate

I read once that if you took all the real estate lawyers in Illinois and laid them end to end along the equator – it would be a good idea to leave them there. That’s what I read. What do you suppose that means?

I have written before about the need to exercise due diligence when purchasing commercial real estate. The need to investigate, before Closing, every significant aspect of the property you are acquiring. The importance of evaluating each commercial real estate transaction with a mindset that once the Closing occurs, there is no going back. The Seller has your money and is gone. If post-Closing problems arise, Seller’s contract representations and warranties will, at best, mean expensive litigation. CAVEAT EMPTOR! “Let the buyer beware!”

Paying extra attention at the beginning of a commercial real estate transaction to “get it right” can save tens of thousands of dollars when the deal goes bad. It’s like the old Fram® oil filter slogan during the 1970’s: “You can pay me now – or pay me later”. In commercial real estate, however, “later” may be too late.

Buying commercial real estate is NOT like buying a home. It is not. It is not. It is NOT.

In Illinois, and many other states, virtually every residential real estate closing requires a lawyer for the buyer and a lawyer for the seller. This is probably smart. It is good consumer protection.

The “problem” this causes, however, is that every lawyer handling residential real estate transactions considers himself or herself a “real estate lawyer”, capable of handling any real estate transaction that may arise.

We learned in law school that there are only two kinds of property: real estate and personal property. Therefore – we intuit – if we are competent to handle a residential real estate closing, we must be competent to handle a commercial real estate closing. They are each “real estate”, right?

ANSWER: Yes, they are each real estate. No, they are not the same.

The legal issues and risks in a commercial real estate transaction are remarkably different from the legal issues and risks in a residential real estate transaction. Most are not even remotely similar. Attorneys concentrating their practice handling residential real estate closings do not face the same issues as attorneys concentrating their practice in commercial real estate.

It is a matter of experience. You either know the issues and risks inherent in commercial real estate transactions – and know how to deal with them – or you don’t.

A key point to remember is that the myriad consumer protection laws that protect residential home buyers have no application to – and provide no protection for – buyers of commercial real estate.

Competent commercial real estate practice requires focused and concentrated investigation of all issues material to the transaction by someone who knows what they are looking for. In short, it requires the exercise of “due diligence”.

I admit – the exercise of due diligence is not cheap, but the failure to exercise due diligence can create a financial disaster for the commercial real estate investor. Don’t be “penny wise and pound foolish”.

If you are buying a home, hire an attorney who regularly represents home buyers. If you are buying commercial real estate, hire an attorney who regularly represents commercial real estate buyers.

Years ago I stopped handling residential real estate transactions. As an active commercial real estate attorney, even I hire residential real estate counsel for my own home purchases. I do that because residential real estate practice is fundamentally different from commercial real estate.

Maybe I do “harp” on the need for competent counsel experienced in commercial real estate transactions. I genuinely believe it. I believe it is essential. I believe if you are going to invest in commercial real estate, you must apply your critical thinking skills and be smart.

POP QUIZ: Here’s is a simple test of YOUR critical thinking skills:

Please read the following Scenarios and answer the questions TRUE or FALSE:

Scenario No. 1: It’s Valentine’s Day. You are in hot pursuit of the love of your life. A few weeks ago, she confided in you that all she ever dreamed of for Valentine’s Day was that her lover would show up at her door, dressed in a white tuxedo with tails and a top hat, and present her with a beautiful bouquet of flowers. You’ve rented the tuxedo, but now you are concerned about how much money you are spending.

TRUE OR FALSE: Since flowers are pretty much all the same, it is OK for you to skip the roses and show up with a bouquet of fresh yellow dandelions.

Scenario No. 2: For several years you eyesight deteriorated to the point where you can barely see your alarm clock. You are now considering corrective eye surgery so you won’t need glasses. Your sister-in-law had corrective eye surgery and has had spectacular results. She recommends her eye surgeon, but mentions the cost is about $5,700 for both eyes and that the surgery is not covered by insurance. A few years ago, you had surgery to correct your hemorrhoids and it cost you only eight hundred bucks.

TRUE OR FALSE: Since surgeons all went to medical school and are all medical doctors, you are being frugal and wise by asking the surgeon who performed your hemorrhoid surgery to perform your corrective eye surgery.

Scenario No. 3: Several years ago, when you first got married, you asked a former classmate who is a lawyer to represent you in the purchase of your townhome. The cost was only $375. A year later, you started a family and decided you needed a Will. The same attorney prepared Wills for you and your wife for a total cost of $700. You started your own business and your attorney friend formed a corporation for you and charged you only $600 plus the cost of the corporate minute book. Years later, when your son was arrested for misdemeanor reckless driving, your attorney friend handled the criminal case and got your son off with supervision for only $1,500.

Your business has been successful and you have built a pretty sizable nest egg, but you are tired of working for every dime and want to try investing in real estate. You have your eye on a strip shopping center. It includes a grocery store, bank, hardware store, dry cleaners (on a month to month tenancy), a couple of fast food restaurants, a gift shop, dental office, bowling alley (with a lease about to expire), and wraps behind a gas station/mini-mart on the corner. The purchase price is $8,000,000, but the net operating income looks pretty good. You figure if you turn the bowling alley into a full service restaurant/banquet facility, and convert the dry cleaners into a 24-hour coin laundry, the net operating income will increase and the shopping center will turn into a spectacular investment. You plan to pull together much of your life savings and put down $2,000,000 to buy this strip shopping center, borrowing the balance of $6,000,000. You remember that your lawyer friend handled the purchase of your home several years ago, so you know he handles real estate.

TRUE OR FALSE: Commercial real estate is the same as residential real estate [Hey, its all dirt, isn’t it (?)], so you are being a shrewd businessman by hiring your lawyer friend who will charge much less than a lawyer who handles shopping center purchases several time a year. [What is this “due diligence” stuff anyway?]

ANSWERS:

If you answered “TRUE” for any of the foregoing Scenarios

STOP!

The Quiz is over.

Please find a quite place to reflect upon your life and consider whether the decisions you make consistently give you the results you desire.

If, on the other hand, you understand that the answer to each of the foregoing questions is FALSE, I am available to help you in Scenario No. 3.

For Scenario No. 2, you should follow your sister-in-law’s suggestion and contact her eye surgeon, or some other eye surgeon with equal skill.

For Scenario No. 1, you are on your own. [But, if you answered TRUE for Scenario No. 1, you may be FOREVER on you own.]

Investing in commercial real estate can be profitable and rewarding – but it requires good critical thinking skills and competent counsel.

You have a have a brain. It is strongly recommended that you use it.

Real Estate Flipping

Real Estate Flipping – Is Flipping Real Estate the smartest way to get started in real estate investing?

“Flip This House”, “Flip That House”, “Property Ladder”,… and on and on…

Over the past couple years you and I have been hammered on TV with real estate flipping shows that depict these people making outrageous profits flipping homes and making it look easier than heck.

So, is this flipping stuff real? Well… it sure is. There are countless people out there making a darn good living flipping homes. But… the tv shows on flipping are darn deceiving when it comes to the “reality” of real estate flipping.

Is flipping real estate the best way to get starting in real estate investing? I’ll let you decide for yourself. However, in my opinion, for most people, especially in today’s down markets (not all markets are down… there are actually some doing really well), real estate flipping is not the best way to get started in real estate investing.

Here’s why:

First, let’s clarify two kinds of flipping.

  1. The Fix and Flip – Where you buy real estate, rehab it, and sell it to a retail buyer. The kind that is on the TV shows.
  2. The Wholesale Flip – Where you buy real estate (or get it under contract), find a wholesale buyer, and flip the contract. The kind that is less glorious… but has a ton of money in it… with a heck of a lot less risk.

To me, the Fix and Flip method is not for most newbie’s… even though that is the kind of real estate investing you see on TV all of the time.

Why?

  • You need a good understanding of rehab costs
  • You need to have good funding… either from a private lender or a bank (private lender is preferable)
  • You need to be able to float the carrying costs if you can’t sell the property quickly
  • If you don’t calculate your costs just right… there may not be a whole lot of room for error… and room for error means greater risk on you!
  • The market is in a downturn… so there are less retail buyers out there for middle income houses… which is what most people start out flipping

There are many people out there making a very good living flipping… but most of them started several years ago… and have many flips under their belts.

They already have systems down, have marketing channels for getting buyers, have solid lending sources, etc. Not to say that new real estate investors cannot do all of the above… YOU CAN!

But, there are better ways to get started in real estate investing that allow you to get in with little or no risk or money, and will allow you to learn the Fix and Flip business before you ever take a huge money commitment to do so.

What’s the single best way (in my opinion) to get started in real estate flipping to minimize your risk and shorten your learning curve… all the while making nice money in the process? Well… obviously option #2 from above: The Wholesale Flip – or in other words… wholesaling real estate, flipping houses for quick cash, flipping contracts, etc.

When you wholesale real estate you do everything a flipper would normally do… except actually repair the property and sell it to a retail buyer. But, you don’t have the risk or time commitment that a fix and flipper has.

Basically, you as a wholesale real estate flipper (or wholesaler for short), find properties that need work that you can purchase at a large discount and flip them for a fee to a rehabber who will do the work.

Your job is to find the properties, analyze the numbers to determine the repairs needed, create an offer that enables both you and the rehabber that you will sell to to make a profit, and sell the contract to a rehabber who will actually make the repairs.

Often times real estate investors will make between $2,000 and $20,000 on a wholesale deal. So, for a low to no risk way to get started in real estate… there are huge profits to be had.

Another reason for starting out doing wholesale real estate deals is that you learn the ropes of what it takes to be a rehabber. After analyzing several deals and talking to rehabbers to find out what they look for… you will have a good grasp on what a good deal is, how to accurately estimate repair costs, who the rehabbers use as contractors, etc.

So, you actually make money while you are getting a hands on education on real estate flipping and rehabbing.

Anyhow, I didn’t start out to write this article to scare you from the fix and flip mindset. There is good money in it…

My motivation to write this article is to help guide new real estate investors away from the glorified version of rehabbing that is plastered all over TV… and point you toward what I believe to be the best way to get started in real estate investing.

I have something to confess…I may be a bit of a hypocrite… but I didn’t start with wholesaling. I actually started with buying income properties. But, with today’s markets… wholesaling real estate is the way to go to get your feet wet and make some serious money in the process.

There is much more to real estate flipping and wholesaling real estate than the TV “reality shows” show. One of the best ways to learn the ropes is to learn from someone who does it everyday and makes a solid living doing it.

  1. Go to your local REI club and hook up with an experienced mentor
  2. Go out on your own and try to hack it yourself with no instruction (not advised)
  3. Invest in a quality, step by step multimedia course that walks you through A – Z on the exact blueprint that successful wholesalers and real estate flippers use.

If you want to go the route I took, the wholesaling course that I actually still use today is shown below.

The real estate wholesaling and real estate flipping course that I think is by far better than any other out there is below. They always way over deliver and they are the only “gurus” out there that I can truly say are trustworthy and good people. I’ve bought a ton of courses, and the Wholesaling for Quick Cash (link below) is the only one I’d recommend.

Internet Real Estate Agent

How are you spending your education dollars and time? Now is the time to take action.

Search engine optimization and online lead generation is a competitive game, and it is growing more competitive by the day. You’ve read the articles, watched it on the news and read all the press releases. The biggest companies in real estate are investing the lion share of their resources to the internet. No more old traditional training, old school marketing or ideas. Major corporations are dumping money into their internet business in order to compete in the networked society we live in. What are you doing now to further your education and online real estate lead generation business? That’s your challenge in 2008 and beyond.

As I’ve stated before, you can still create a very successful online real estate lead-generation business. However, these days are numbered.

The Web is big, but it’s a finite resource. Well, more accurately said, cyberspace is infinite, but people will only dig so deep. Real estate Web sites that capture the top spots in the search engines are garnering high quality leads and massive lists of interested buyers and sellers. But, as more and more big-brand companies compete and figure out how to grab high ranking search engine positions, they will slowly but surely elbow out the little guy. It’s the nature of an industry to be “open” to early adopters at the beginning and then slowly close to only those that can afford the great investment of time and money needed to stay competitive. As more and more buyers and sellers use the Internet for real estate research, the “evening and weekend traditional real estate agent marketing model” is fast becoming extinct.

If you want to stay competitive in the period ahead, you will need to grab a piece of the Internet action, and now is the time to establish your foothold. You CAN still create a successful real estate online lead-generating business. You CAN still get top spots in the search engines. It’s not too late, but I guarantee if you wait, it soon will be.

More and more, I get calls from companies selling real estate leads. They notice I’m everywhere on the internet. My sites rank very high organically for specific real estate search terms and cpc. I also own the right spots on other real estate portals that drive targeted traffic to my listings, my sites and yes…..generate high quality, exclusive leads.

I just received a call from a company selling real estate leads. As published in my book, Internet Real Estate Agent: A Guide To Dominating Internet Real Estate Leads and Marketing, there are specific questions you must ask to avoid wasting money and time. After going back and forth with the skilled sales rep., I was able to hone down the basics of how the program works.

Here’s how their lead program works:

1. A person is watching television, listening to the radio or sees a banner ad online. The add is asking the person to call a phone number to learn about a real estate tax advantage and commission rebate back to them if they buy or sell real estate.

2. Pay $60 a month for a zip code.

3. Pay 19% referral fee at closing (this gets split between the “lead company” and the customer at closing).

4. Here’s the kicker….the leads are given to 7 other agents as well.

This real estate sales lead business model isn’t new and many companies have a slight variation to it. Personally, I would never buy leads from this business model. I prefer to create my own exclusive lead systems.

Here’s some of the pitfalls with the real estate lead business model you’re being sold.

1. Leads coming from TV, Print, radio or the internet that rely on some form of incentive offer are usually very low quality leads. One of the incentive offers is a “commission rebate program”. Need I say more?

2. Why pay a monthly fee so you can compete for the lead? Why not get EXCLUSIVE leads that are not incentive leads. You can’t do every lead program on earth, so pick and chose how you spend your money and time.

3. I have a hard time paying a referral fee to someone when I’m competing with other agents, given a low quality lead and there’s no personal relationship. That’s not a referral, it’s a lead. No relationship, no history and no commitment from the potential customer to use me. I like paying referral fees to agents that have personal relationships with their real clients. When I get a referral call from another agent, they know the person being referred to me and I get the client. That’s a real referral and qualifies for that big referral fee.

4. There are so many ways to generate leads. You should pick and chose the best ways to spend your time and money.

After reading Internet Real Estate Agent, you won’t fall prey to poor Internet business models. You may make a mistake or two–I do from time to time when trying something new–but, these mistakes are quickly remedied. You will understand exactly how to improve your real estate website, what to know before buying a real estate website, advanced concepts for Google AdWords, how to market your listings online for more leads, the changing Broker/Agent model and much more. Discover how to set up your own internet real estate lead generation machine. Don’t be dependent on any one company for leads. Get educated and become independent!

The book will guide you through a tremendous amount of information and facts, not hype, regarding Internet real estate lead generation and Internet marketing. It’s the lowest cost real estate training and education you will ever spend. It’s all about internet real estate lead and marketing. Keep this book by your side and use it as a trusted reference guide. Start working on your Web site, and then move onto the other areas of online lead generation and Internet marketing. Once you have your online real estate lead-generation business set up, it really will run 24 X 7, by putting the right message in front of the right people, at the right time.

Agents and Brokers already know they need to market to past clients and their sphere, but it only gets you so far. They also know the urgent need to embrace the internet. The value of traditional farming techniques is diminishing. The fact is, everyone is mailing something; everyone is doing longer open houses; and everyone is getting into the real estate business. But, hardly anyone is doing online advertising. Even fewer are doing it right. In fact, most agents and brokers attempting to do online lead generation and property marketing are doing it totally wrong. Don’t waste money and time by buying leads from a company that sells false dreams of Internet riches. Take control of your business lead systems and start implementing your plan today.

Here’s a short sample from the book:

Marketing Your Listings for Leads

The majority of this book has been on creating a real business Web site, driving quality traffic to your Web site, and converting that traffic into leads. Now let’s focus on how to create more business by marketing your listing online. You’ve worked long and hard to get the listing, now let’s leverage that listing to create more business. For most of the homes I’ve sold, the buyers began by viewing the pictures and details online and then contacted me about a private showing. If you market the property correctly, you will get leads. Using the list of marketing resources below, I average over 2,500 targeted property views for each listing. I get highly qualified internet buyer and seller leads when marketing a property online. Think about that for a second. Online, people are searching for a specific home, in a specific area, in a specific school district, in a certain price range, etc….and my listings are showing up. That’s a ton of quality traffic almost all of it was free.

I just read the other day about a Director of Technology who serves on a major MLS board who said the traditional business model of getting leads from holding open houses is almost dead. People are using the Internet for research, and they are contacting an agent long before they enter the house. Based on my personal experience, I agree with this assessment. Having spent many Sunday’s working at open houses, I find it very rare for someone to walk through the door and say “I don’t have an agent.”

How a Foreign National Can Buy Real Estate

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.