Home Improvements that Are Guaranteed to Increase Your Home Value

Today I’m going to talk about home improvements you can do to help increase your property value. Now when we have your home it’s really easy to get caught up in the moment and splurge on things that you may not actually need such as expensive ligh fixtures, marble countertops, authentic wood cabinets, fancy faucets. Now these are all really great, but you really have to consider does it really fit your property, where your property is located, and of course your budget.

Now the first step before any rehab project is to first assess the neighborhood your property is in and determine what upgrades houses sold in that area have made. What I’ve done is actually pinpoint some focus areas that you get the best bang for your buck.

Let’s start off in the kitchen. The kitchen is the heart of the house and what you need to focus on is counter and cabinet space. Now if you have room for an island I would recommend installing one  because not only does it add counter space it also includes cabinet space. Now if your cabinets are a little bit worn down instead of rushing to replace them I would recommend sanding them down and refinishing or restaining them because that will definitely make them look newer. Of course you can always replace the handles and knobs. Home Depot has options from the really cheap to the the really expensive so you can play around with the look and which ones best fit your kitchen. Now, if by chance, you have to replace your cabinets rather the rushing straight to retail I would first find a wholesaler. These are people who have older designs that are completely new, but because the newer designs are out they can offer theirs at a discount. You can paint or stain the cabinets yourself to save on labor costs and going with a wholesaler is a really cheap alternative.

As for your kitchen I would encourage you to repaint or re-wallpaper, whatever you prefer, or even re-hardwood or re-tile. If you can’t afford that you could do vinyl or laminate. They have vinyl that looks like tile and laminate that looks like real wood.

As for your appliances you want to look at stainless steel. It’s the new standard and it’s what people expect so you don’t want to let them down there. Also look at deep sinks in your kitchen. This creates more openness and reduces the look of clutter when dishes are stacked in the sink.

Next is your countertops. There’s a lot out there, but what I like the most is granite.They mimic marble, they’re cheaper, and they give the kitchen a new fresh clean look.

The next thing you want to focus on guys is the bathroom. You should re-grout or re-caulk your bathroom and of course remove any mold or mildew. if you don’t know how to grout or caulk Home Depot offers free classes and then have simple to use grouting kits. Of course if you can re-tile your bathroom if you can afford to do so you can create new patterns and a new look.

You do want to invest in nice vanities, mirrors. Also you should tile your floor, if you can’t afford to tile then think about vinyl that looks like tile. If your house can permit this you want to think about adding an extra bathroom. Especially if you have a house that has one bathroom adding an extra bathroom will definitely improve the value of your home by quite a bit.

Now the next thing I want to talk about that is growing in popularity are green home improvements. So things you can do like weather stripping or caulking your windows, programmable thermostat, tinted windows, lower flush per gallon toilets, Ask your local handyman shops and see what alternatives you can take because understand that the home is an investment and you want to reap those long term savings. If you can save $100 a month that’s a huge, very powerful, selling point.

If you have to replace any doors, rather than go to retail go to habitat and Goodwill. They have really great options for you they’re pretty cheap as well like I said it’s better than going retail.

Next thing I want to talk about are room conversions. It’s a great way to increase your square footage, you know if you have a garage, attic, or basement you can look at trying to convert those into actual room. If you have one room to spare you should look at converting this into an office. Install some shelving. Young professional looking to buy homes like to have their own personal space in their home where they can do work. That’s another strong selling point as well. The next thing is creating new space. What that means is if there are walls that could be knocked down and not hurt the integrity of the home and will make the living room look bigger or maybe make the kitchen look bigger I definitely encourage you to do s because it will help improve the value.

Next thing is landscaping. It’s mostly for curb appeal. It’s probably the last on your list of things to do. You want to save a little bit in your budget for this, but it doesn’t take too much to add a lot of value here. You know little simple pattern with some bricks, some mulch, shrubbery, a rose bush here and there and a simple garden in the back is eye candy. Doesn’t take very much to go a long way with your landscaping. You want to make sure it looks clean and fresh.

As for painting, if you’re able to repaint your home to get that fresh paint smell that’s always a plus. It’s very important to cover up your holes on the wall from previous paintings. You can dust the walls down with a broom or power wash the exterior before painting. That way your paint will stay up much longer, at least a year to 2 years otherwise it will start chipping and falling off in 30 to 90 days. That’s a pretty expensive lesson.

The last thing I want to cover guys are updates and replacements. Drywall texture, if you’re still working with popcorn texture it’s incredibly outdated. It’s a pain in the butt to take down but it’s definitely worth it in the long run. if you have left over budget think about updating your fixtures, your ceiling fans, your mini blinds. There are a lot of fun options out there. I know sometimes Home Depot will have a sales and reduce the prices on some really nice ceiling fans.

So home improvements can be costly, but there are many alternatives you can take to reduce those costs while improving the value of your home. By focusing on the kitchen and the master bath and remaining bathrooms first you can actually recoup a lot of the cost here because that’s a lot of where the selling points come from. You want to focus on the painting a landscaping if you have extra budget and of course the fixtures and ceiling fans.

Moving and Packing Tips

I have moved quite a few times in the last few years and as I was packing my stuff this time around I was thinking to myself I did it right this time around and I just started thinking about all the things I did in order to make this process so much easier and I decided to write it all down and share it with you. Here are the top moving and packing tips.

If you are really not that great at estimating like most of the population buy two to three times the amount of boxes you think you’re going to need. Seriously, or you are just going to have to keep going back and buy more boxes. The same rule of thumb applies for tape, buy two or three more roles than you think you’re going to need. The great thing about companies like U-Haul is that if you have any unused flat boxes you can return them. So it’s not like once you buy the boxes they’re yours. This time around I went to the U-Haul store two times and the second time I bought many more boxes that I thought I would need and I ended up using every single one. Buy small boxes. I know you may think it’s a waste of money, waste of space. You think that you’re just going to get the big boxes and just stuff a bunch of stuff in there and will be able to lift those boxes up. Even a small box can get so heavy, especially when it comes to your kitchen stuff, fragile stuff. I have a bunch of ceramics pots, without the plants. It’s very difficult to dump all these pots in a huge box and then move it away. With a small box  you can write FRAGILE in huge letters. It just makes it so much easier for you and if you have movers, so much easier for them as well.

Whether you’re moving yourself or with movers just put everything in boxes. You may have a bunch of containers, like small baskets, open ended baskets that you think act like a container or a box in itself. The problem is it’s not stackable. When you try to place those containers with a bunch of weird shaped objects they don’t stack well in a car and you’re just making it really difficult for yourself or the movers, so just put everything in boxes and make your life a lot easier.

When it comes down to actually packing I know it can just be so overwhelming. The first thing I will pack is a suitcase with stuff that I actually need for the next few days, for instance, clothes and toiletries. I just act like I’m about to go traveling and therefore you don’t have to worry if you’re going to need certain things when you’re putting them away, you’re just making it a lot easier for yourself. Within that same suitcase or another bag I would set aside some essentials that you will need right away in your new house. I’m talking about toilet paper, paper towels, hand soap, Clorox wipes, sanitizing wipes. The worst thing for you to do would be to show up to your new place with all your stuff and realize like you don’t know where your toilet paper is and you have to go to the bathroom. I think about those things. It’s important so make sure to set aside some of those essentials. Once that’s all done I start packing in sections. So you just start off with stuff that you’re not going to need at all, like knickknacks, books, your clothes and toiletries because you already set aside some. I would recommend the very last thing you pack is your fridge. If you create sections for yourself it’s going to be so much easier for you. I feel like I get really overwhelmed when there’s too much going on. I’m not a good multitasker. If I just concentrate in one section at a time then it’s just so much better.

Labeling boxes is so important, but when it comes to labeling, I would also say be specific on the boxes. Don’t just write kitchen but write specific things that are inside there because there’s a lot of things that go into your kitchen. For some reason this time around I packed all my kitchen sponges in a really random box that had nothing to do with kitchen stuff. I must have filled up all the kitchen boxes and the sponges were just one more thing and I must have tossed them in another box thinking I would remember. I did not remember. So ultimately I didn’t have a sponge for a couple days because I couldn’t figure out which box it was in. If I just thought OK I’m going to write down that I have sponges in this box, it would have made my life a lot easier.

Something I want to touch on is what to wear while packing and moving. I am completely convinced using full overalls, not just short ones, but ones that are a long leg jean. It’s great being able to put a couple sharpies and tape in the front pocket. A lot of times I would wear the tape on my arm, but then I would start getting marks. While you’re packing you’re just constantly losing stuff. Things are just being hidden under other things. I’ll constantly put things in my overalls. I’ll put my phone in there even, it just gives you a little bit more protection. I feel like during moving I get a lot of cuts and bruises and I think these overalls, having like a jean material, really prevented some cuts and bruises from happening too. I’d also recommend wearing boots. I just wear my Doc Martens the whole time, you do not want those little toes of yours getting crushed.

This last is for those of you who have decided to go with movers. I think when it comes to movers just go with the best of the best. I’m already weary of letting strangers into my home, but strangers into my home handling all my personal things, it makes me a little bit nervous. There have been stories on the news in the past about people finding movers off of Craigslist who loaded their stuff in a stolen truck and then just drove away. The cops found the truck a few days later, but obviously their stuff was gone.

When it comes to movers, just get the best of the best that have good reputations and really good Yelp reviews. I found my movers this time on Yelp and I’m so happy with them. They made sure that both my buildings were okay with their insurance. We talked multiple times about the exact logistics and about what was going to happen on moving day. It was such a seamless experience. I’ve never had that before and not only that. They were extremely organized. I was just watching them so impressed, they made sure that every single piece of furniture was wrapped and padded and protected. Everything was delivered in pristine condition. If you’re hiring movers, bite the bullet, and get the best. If will save you heartache later.

That was my top ten moving tips. I hope this was helpful for you if you’re in the process of moving or thinking about moving. If this was helpful drop me a line and tell me if you have any tips I missed. I’d love to hear from you all. Until next time.

Invest in Real Estate with Your Own Money

So how can you start saving enough to invest in real estate? Overall the biggest key is to decrease your expenses. If you’ve never looked at your expenses on either a weekly or monthly basis, you’re definitely missing out on where you can start saving more money.

On a monthly basis you should know what income you have coming in or ideally how much money you have coming in if you’re commission based. You need to know how much you need to work in order to earn what you want. So on a monthly basis you should be able to map out, I would start with a month, you want to have a monthly savings goal. Then you’re going to look at a two month savings goal, eventually it’s going to be a quarterly savings goal, and then you want to look at a 6 month savings goal. That number should be pretty motivating on what you’re capable of. So it’s very in the future, it’s a week from now, it’s a month from now, its 2 months from now and it’s also quarterly and 6 months from now. You need to ask yourself is what I’m engaging in going to help me with that goal or am I going to temporarily put it on hold.

I’m not saying to not spend anything, but you need to know your own budget to see what is realistic for you to save in that time frame. You need to become aggressive with saving because you know on a temporary basis you will get where you want to be by taking that temporary discomfort on the savings aspect to hit your goal quicker if you’re looking to invest. So you might need to turn down certain opportunities, but that doesn’t mean you need to turn down everything it just means you’re very committed to that goal and you’ll hit that goal quicker. But you need that end goal in mind because without that plan of “I’m going to save this much” your attention won’t really be on that goal. So you definitely want to map out your income and map out your savings goal for 1, 2, 3 and 6 months. Stick to that number.

Once you’re able to really master your savings and your expenses. You want to figure out how you can make more money or increase your income. If this can’t be at your current position start figuring out other ways to make money. It’s very possible you can start selling old items either on Craigslist, through Facebook, or even Ebay, although I think they take 13%, and you can start making money very quickly. So I’d recommend you take all your old stuff and start selling it, you’re essentially just flipping it. If you do want to flip at a higher level there are tons of good guys online that do that. They go to stores like the Salvation Army or Savers where they find very discounted items at a low value and they can sell it much higher because they know what the item is really worth. That’s where you can start making some real profit. And that’s another way to increase your income.

But then you got to look at if I’m looking for these items and I’m driving to all of these places, lets say it’s 10 minutes to drive to one place and I only get 10 bucks you only value yourself at $10 for that hour because even the work to list it, to ship it, everything like that, so you have to factor that in as well.

So increasing your income and decreasing your expenses are the two quickest ways you can start saving money in order to invest. Focus on decreasing your expenses first and then with the free time focus on increasing your income whether it’s at your current job or other ways you can start making money. You can start hustling items that you have at home, you can start moving items at Salvation Army, flipping other items, you can get into things such as Uber, if you have a car that is decent and you want to dedicate time there, that’s other places you can make money. There’s 168 hours in a week, figure out how important this is to you and what level of commitment you’re going to put on saving to invest.

How to Get Real Estate Referrals for Your Business

How can I make referrals my primary source of business? Referrals by nature come from people that know you, like you, trust you, sort of know you, sort of trust you, know that their friend works with you and that you’re a cool guy or cool gal. For me that is the essence of building a real estate business. Yes, we can of course get cold leads from a million sources. I have found in my experience, and this is just my opinion, that when working through leads that are “cold” meaning you have no leverage, they are disloyal, they’re just shopping around for the best deal, they don’t really care if they work with you or not and they’ll jump ship. I recommend that you delve into your sphere of influence. It use to be that you would look for people in your address book now it’s people you know on social media, people that you know through other people on social media. You can spend all day prospecting people you know and their friends and you can say “Oh, I know Bob and you know Bob and I just wanted to say hello.” In there is a tiny little bit of leverage if the potential client knows that you’re friends with Bob and he’s friends with Bob and he’s rude to you or disses you he knows that you might tell Bob that he was a jerk. My feeling is always run to your tribe, run to the people that know you, sort of know you, could know you, might know you and try to strike up realistic, genuine conversations with their best interest in mind and if you do that day after day after day after day you will get business, not might, not could, but will. When you run out of people you know look for strangers. Until then keep reaching back into your database. That is how you will get the majority of your business from referrals.

Top 5 Costly Mistakes Home Buyers Make (and How to Prevent Them)

  1. Not Using a Buyer’s Agent  – when you buy a place you must be represented by your own realtor. So don’t go to the listing agent and think you’re going to get a better deal and just go find a real estate agent. You won’t have to pay money out of your pocket for it, and they’re going to represent your best interests.
  2. Not getting a home inspection – Don’t think that this $300 is wasted, it’s actually very important to have an expert come look at the house or building and tell you whether it’s worth its value or not.
  3. Putting down a small down payment – People think they should only put down a small downpayment. The bigger the downpayment the smaller your monthly mortage payments are going to be. So it’s better to put down a bigger downpayment and then having smaller payments in the future. And after all it’s an investment.
  4. Forget taxes and other fees – sometimes buyers think they pay the selling price and they’re done. You’re going to have to pay taxes and fees that you might forget about such as property transfer tax, lawyers fees etc. Just ask your realtor and don’t forget to include these fees in the final price.
  5. Don’t buy at the top of the budget – When you go to see your bank or your mortgage broker they will pre-approve you and give you a range. I know it can be tempting to buy at the highest price, but you shouldn’t. Save money for rainy days, keep some money aside. I recommend keeping your monthly payment the same as what you’re renting for right now.

Top 3 Considerations When Buying, Selling or Investing in Real Estate

Here are three things to keep in mind when buying/selling and investing in real estate, specifically buying investment properties and expecting a return in the future.

Location

So the first thing is your location. When you’re going to buy any house in general, I mean I don’t care what it is, you always want to have a better location or a good location and where you think you can see the location, in say, 10 years from now. God forbid you need to sell the property for some reason and you’re going to want to make your money back, or are you going to make a profit on the property in the next 5 to 10 years from now. You always have to keep that in the back of your head. Are people going to want to rent in that location, is it a good location depending on what you’re doing or what your strategy is. Location is always a good thing to think when talking about investing in real estate.

Time Frame

The second thing is the expected time frame of your investment when you buy that investment property. So if you buy that property for $100,000 and if you do the math for getting rent for $1,400 per month, how many months, or how many years is it going to take to get that $100K back, plus more. How many years will it take to breakeven and then make that margin after. So that’s always the second thing, in my opinion, you should always do when buying these properties, is how long is it going to take you. You always want to keep that timeframe in mind.

Expenses, Repairs, and Taxes

And the third thing on the list is your expenses, your repairs, and your taxes. How much are you going to have to put down, how much are you going to have to pay every month for repairs on the property for everything, so you can put that in your budget as well. I figure that out because that’s always going to be a problem, you always will have to repair something whether it’s the work outside, the landscaping, or whether it’s a broken this or broken that so that should always be included in your budget as well.

Tips for New Real Estate Agents

For my first tip, you would think it’s kind of a no brainer but it actually catches people off guard. This is a career, real estate is a career and you build it and you make a lot of money, so my first tip for new agents is get really good at figuring things out for yourself. If you’ve always been one of those people that have had your hand held and someone telling you step by step by step what to do and giving you direction. This isn’t anything like that. So you need to get really good at figuring things out for yourself. There’s a lot to be learned, there’s a lot of things you’re going to want to know how to do and what to say, use the internet, like Google is so powerful. Use the internet and get good at figuring things out. There’s not always going to be somebody there to hold your hand and give you step by step what to do and so you have to be an adult in this career and you have to learn how to research and take instructions and just figure it out.

My second tip is you need to be vulnerable. Especially if you’re a new agent, you don’t know a lot, you’re walking into a career and you’re really trying to figure it out and make your mark in the industry and so you need to be vulnerable. And I’m mostly talking about being vulnerable with your clients. You don’t necessarily need to walk into every client’s home or speak with every client pretending to know everything and know how to do everything. If there’s something you don’t know, tell them. Tell them I don’t know that but I will get you the answer. Just be honest with people, be vulnerable. If you even want to go as far as saying this is my first transaction, I have a great team behind me, I have people helping me all along the way and I appreciate you for giving me this opportunity, that can go so much further than trying to show and act like you’re the biggest, baddest, agent in the city. You want to be vulnerable with your learning and this goes to your brokerage or your office. Ask questions when appropriate, talk to people about certain situations that you’re having. You’re not an expert, not many people are experts in this industry and this industry is constantly changing and so you really need to be vulnerable because that’s when things are going to open up for you and people are going to want to help you out and help you succeed.

My third tip, and this one makes a lot of people feel uncomfortable, but you have to be prepared to put yourself out there. This is one of those careers where it’s all about you, your image, your knowledge, it’s your business and so you have to be prepared to put yourself out there. Whether we’re talking about images, blogs, writing, social media, videos, whatever it is, you have to put yourself out there. That is what’s going to attract people to you and make them want to use you as their agent. When you start putting yourself out there and providing value and showing that you are knowledgeable and having a great smile and image, it’s going to attract people to you, but no one is going to know about you if you plan to play the role as a secret agent. If you’re just behind the desk nobody knows about you. What’s going to make your phone ring? What’s going to make someone want to reach out to you? You have to be prepared, if you really want to make a mark in this industry and really be successful you have to put yourself out there. We’re in 2017, social media is everything, so as a real estate agent you have to jump on that. It’s ok if you’ve been shy or you’re not really comfortable with it, get comfortable with it because it’s not going anywhere and long gone are the days where people used to open up a phone book and look for real estate agent’s name and number. Now it’s all about the internet, it’s all about being out there networking, getting to know people, you have to put yourself out there.

My next tip is attend as many training classes as possible. Even when you get your license it doesn’t stop there. All throughout your real estate career your going to want to get trained, things are going to change in the industry, new tools, new tips, so attend as many training classes as possible. So many people offer training in this industry, I get emails all day and night from title companies, mortgage companies, attorneys, banks etc all offering training classes to help us in our business. Attend as many as possible. As a new agent, as a seasoned agent we all attend trainings, there’s always something to learn. The more knowledge you have the more power you have. So attend as much training as you can.

My last tip is treat your real estate business like a job. Hold yourself accountable. If you’re transitioning from a part time or full time job in real estate, there’s going to be a lot of changes. There’s not going to be a boss waking you up in the morning. There’s not going to be a clock in clock out. You’re not going to receive a paycheck every two weeks. It’s totally different you’re working for yourself, you set your own hours, you set your own pace, you do what you want to do so you need to be very disciplined and treat this like a job. Surround yourself with people who are disciplined in this real estate business. I always tell people that winning is a culture, you want to be around winners, the ones who wake up early, and the ones who work, work, work, grind, grind, grind and who treat this like a true business. You need to be disciplined with your schedule and calendar. Your time, your processes, you need to be disciplined, treat this like a job. Even though you are working for yourself, you are working for yourself and if you want to make good money you need to be disciplined and treat this like a job.

The Fed Regulations to Consider When You’re Studying for Your Real Estate Exam

Now the fair credit reporting act is designed to help protect consumers against inaccurate information in our credit reports. And as consumers, we have the right to inspect our credit reports, and then correct any inaccurate information.  Now you might ask, “how can I check my credit report?”  Well, the federal government has required the 3 major credit bureaus to setup a website– it’s called annualcreditreport.com.  It’s where you can get your free credit report from any of the 3 major credit reporting agencies: Experian, Equifax, and Transunion.  Now if a consumer is denied credit, that consumer has to be given the identity of the credit bureau or credit bureaus that provided the information to the lender.

Now the next law we want to talk about is the equal credit opportunity ECOA. This prohibits discrimination in the extension of credit by lenders.  We’re actually extended beyond the fair housing protected classes when ECOA was created in the 1970s.  ECOA extends protection not only to the protected classes in fair housing of race, color, creed, sex or national origin, but also to marital status, age and income from public assistance.

So for example if I were 90 years old and walk into a bank and said, “I want to borrow money on a 30 year loan,” they couldn’t laugh me out of the building.  Or if I were a divorced woman and back in the 1970s, a single women had a great difficulty getting credit.  If I were a divorced woman, the fact that I’m divorced would not would not be able to be a reason for them to deny me credit because of the equal credit opportunity act.

ECOA applies to companies in the lending business.  It does not apply to a private lender who might make a loan here and there, and it doesn’t apply to sell the carry back financing, but bank savings institutions credit unions and mortgage companies. All have to abide by ECOA.

The next one we want to talk about is the ADA– the Americans with Disabilities Act. And the ADA requires equal access to public accommodations: now what is that mean? What it means is that properties that are open to the public– in other words business properties– must meet the ADA requirements. And we’re familiar with many of these because we’re all familiar with handicapped bathrooms, handicap parking spaces, ramps (going into and out of buildings), and many of the older buildings have had to be renovated in order to meet the ADA requirements.  Newer buildings, of course, must be built, but with the understanding that the ADA requirements are met. So the next time you are in a public restroom or thinking about parking in a handicapped space, remember the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The next one is the Interstate Land Sales Full Disclosure Act. This is a federal law that deals with the sale of land across state lines. So any time land companies are selling property or around the country– let’s say it’s property in Arizona or property in Florida or whatever. They’re selling across state lines and they have to provide buyers with what’s called a “property report”.

This is a disclosure document.  Now in Arizona, of course, if you are creating a subdivision there has to be a public report.  But up from a federal perspective, if you’re selling land across state lines, this Interstate Land Act requires this property report as a disclosure document to buyers.

The last one we want to talk about is the Do Not Call Registry. We’ve all received telephone calls from telemarketers that we don’t want. And we can try to avoid these by registering through the Do Not Call Registry. It’s referred to as the Telephone Consumer Protection Act and it’s regulated by the FTC.  The FTC is the Federal Trade Commission and they established some national rules about about making phone calls.

So there’s a registry where you and I, as consumers, can register our phone number and this registration last indefinitely– it doesn’t last for just a year or 2– it lasts indefinitely.

And you can access it through do not call.gov.  Yeah all telemarketers– you’re the real estate agents who are who are doing some telemarketing making cold calls. All telemarketers should check the registry, and even if a consumer’s phone number is not listed, the law says there can’t be any calls before 8:00 AM and no calls after 9 PM. And of course these things are often violated that for a period of time it seemed that there was a by these rules were being observed.

But in recent years on it– we’re talking about now in the late 2017 early 2018– in recent years, there seems to be a an abundance of these calls. Part of that is because of the exemptions. Under the law if you have an existing business relationship with someone you can contact– if you have their prior written permission– you can contact them.

So here’s what you should be aware of: callers have to access the Do Not Call Registry to make sure that the number is not on the Do Not Call List. If you are calling more than 5 different area codes, then there’s a registration fee that has to be paid. Penalties are pretty severe. So that does it for our brief discussion on federal regulations.