Things every Real Estate Pro will know

Those who consistently make money in real estate know the market. They know the location and the history. They know what new developments are planned. They know the transportation and the schools. They know everything about the area where they invest. They have to know it all.

Staying ahead of the competition in real estate investment means doing your homework. If you are new to the business, it can be daunting, but in this article we’ll teach you five tricks that the old pros use to get ahead of the trends instead of chasing them. (To learn about the perks of real estate investing, see our Exploring Real Estate Investment Tutorial and Investing In Real Estate.)

Study Local Pricing:

The first things to study are the current price trends in the area. For example, a potential investor should look to see if the price of homes is accelerating faster in one area than in others. Next, check to see if the average home price is more than in other neighboring towns. This will provide an idea of where the biggest demand is. Another reason to study these trends is that, over time, you will start to develop a sense for which prices are “fair” for certain properties and which are overpriced. For individuals looking to buy properties at the lowest cost possible, this knowledge can be invaluable.

Realtors and real estate agents are a terrific source for this information given their access to the Multiple Listing Service (or MLS). The local newspaper, the internet and the town hall may have a record of recent sale prices as well.

Look for a Catalyst:

One sign that an area is up-and-coming and that it will be desirable in the future is the development of new infrastructure. When you see new roads and schools being built, it’s a sign that the community is set for a growth spurt. Investing in a growing community can be very profitable. In addition, certain types of development, like new shopping centers, may be extremely attractive to homebuyers, and may also help keep the tax base low.

Spotting new developments can be as easy as looking out your car window as you drive by. Telltale signs of land clearing, surveying or the beginnings of construction in and around major roadways are pretty big tip-offs. Also, look for widening of traffic lanes, the installation of turnaround lanes and the erection of new traffic lights. All suggest the possibility of increased traffic flow.

Next, visit town hall at the municipality or the county level, and speak with the road and the building departments. They should be aware of any major projects slated to begin in the area, and they may even be able to provide you with a connection at the state level so you can find out if any state-owned roads or properties are slated for development as well. Real estate agents also have general idea of what new projects are about to be undertaken. (For added insight, see Profit With Real Estate Land Speculation.)

Explore Low-Tax Alternatives:

If there are two towns side by side – one with high property taxes (or with progressively rising property taxes) and the other with low property taxes – the one with the lower taxes will usually be more in demand.

Real estate agents can help you determine which areas have the best and worst tax structures. In addition, a simple call to the local tax assessor can reveal how much the town charges in taxes per $100 of house. The assessor can also let you know when the last time the area was evaluated by the township. Also watch to see if a reassessment is set to take place in the near future, as it may mean that property taxes are about to go up. Beware of towns and communities that are becoming overcrowded. Signs include schools filled to capacity and inferior roadways. This could mean the town will have to do some major construction to accommodate the influx of people. And how do they pay for that construction? Tax dollars. (For more on property tax, see Five Tricks For Lowering Your Property Tax and Tax Tips For The Individual Investor.)

Check the School Rankings:

Nearly every state ranks its schools by how well students in each district fare on tests in math and English. Sharp-eyed investors should look for schools that are moving up or are atop the list. These areas are often desirable to parents. Access to quality education is a big selling point to new home buyers.

There are several ways to find this information. Check our your state’s board of education website. Also, has public school rankings for most states in its free section. Visiting the schools yourself is also a good idea. Schools that rank the highest are usually quite eager to provide information.

Watch the Outskirts:

If the properties in a major city or town have become overpriced, the areas on the outer fringes most likely will soon be in demand. Areas in close proximity to major bus and rail transportation are even more desirable Nearly any area that is about to install a major train stop or a new major bus route will see its proverbial stock go up in value.

To find out what’s planned, you can check with the local railroad or bus company to see if they will be expanding service in the area. The local town hall or planning department will also have this information.

Bottom Line:

It pays to do your homework and to tap local resources to determine which areas are hot now and, more importantly, which ones will be hot in the future. Much of the information is out there and free for the taking. You just have to be willing to do the leg work.

Original Post by Glenn Curtis, Investopedia

Please do not hesitate to call if you have questions about the information you find here on our web site. - Brad Evans, Sr. Loan Officer. Direct: (877) 323-6803 | EMAIL | WEBSITE | FREE LOAN CONS

Why call Orange County home-sweet-home?

Orange County may have been nothing more than orange groves decades ago, but these days it’s got everything and anything you might want.

From pristine beaches to luxe hotels, beautiful homes, terrific shopping and dining, and perfect weather, many are flocking to this Southern California locale from all over.

With so much to offer, it’s easy to see why more than 3 million residents call this county home. Here are some other reasons why you might want to call it home-sweet-home:

1. The county’s unemployment rate in 2014 was 5.4 percent, compared to the nationwide rate of 6.3 percent, according to OC Citizens’ Report for fiscal year 2013-14.

2. The same report says the median home price rose 5.4 percent to $590,000, the highest of any of the surrounding counties.

3. Operation Santa Claus distributed 42,000 toys and gifts to children who are dependents of the Juvenile Court due to abuse and/or neglect, as well as children in need, according to the report.

4. South Coast Plaza is the largest mall in California and the third largest in the United States complete with major department stores including Saks Fifth Avenue, Nordstrom and more.

5. Disneyland … need we say more.

6. Beautiful boat marinas in Newport Beach and Dana Point harbors.

7. Top universities such as UCI, Soka University and Chapman University, to name a few.

Please do not hesitate to call if you have questions about the information you find here on our web site. - Brad Evans, Sr. Loan Officer. Direct: (877) 323-6803 | EMAIL | WEBSITE | FREE LOAN CONS

Housing surge may be on the horizon

Daily Real Estate News | The housing market is poised for one of its largest expansions in history. By 2024, demographic and economic changes are forecasted to bring 15.9 million additional households on board, according to a new study released by the Mortgage Bankers Association.

That means an average of 1.6 million additional households per year, sparking “housing market growth over the next decade that would be among the strongest the U.S. has ever seen,” according to the report.

The MBA report says the bulk of that growth will be from increases in the number of households who are headed by those age 60 and older and households headed by age 45 and younger. Those age group increases are expected to mitigate the decline among households age 45 to 60.

Please do not hesitate to call if you have questions about the information you find here on our web site. - Brad Evans, Sr. Loan Officer. Direct: (877) 323-6803 | EMAIL | WEBSITE | FREE LOAN CONS

Home staging ideas to help sell your home faster

1. Spruce up house exterior and landscaping.

Lay fresh mulch and plant colorful flowers for quick impact. If your garage door is old, it might be a good investment to install a new one. Garage doors take up a good amount of the house’s exterior, and if it’s got dings and chipping paint, it sends the wrong message to potential buyers.

These before and after photos aren’t entirely fair because the before photo is what our house looked like when we purchased it four years ago. I wanted a more recent photo to show just what we did before listing it, but I apparently haven’t taken any in four years! Over time, we hired someone to replace the roof, we painted the exterior ourselves, and installed new lights. When we got ready to sell, we decided to hire a landscaping company to lay fresh mulch and trim the bushes. We also took our Realtor’s advice and got a new garage door. I wish the door was shut in the before photo, because it wasn’t pretty.

2. Focus on the entrance.

Stand at your front door and examine the area as if you were a buyer. After all, this is where they will stand as they await the real estate agent to arrive. Touching up paint, adding a new welcome mat, and a pot or two of flowers will go a long way.

Again, this before picture was what our front door looked like when we bought the house. Since then, we spent less than $250 to replace the metal window bar with glass, change out the door handle, paint the door, and add a rug and welcome mat.

3. Make minor repairs.

Take the time to fix minor problems around the house. A hole in the screen on the patio, a leaky faucet, exposed wires, can all show up on the home inspection report. Fixing them in advance is inexpensive and shows buyers the house is well-cared for.

4. Declutter.

If you have kids, you pretty much need to rent a storage unit and fill it to the brim. Take serious action in closets and the garage, as well. Too much stuff can look like your house is small and lacks storage space.

Our kid paraphernalia got the better of this room. We stored all of it, as well as the oversized chair. I added a borrowed coffee table small enough for the space and added minimal decor on top.

5. Neutralize.

If you have a Disney room or an alter built to your alma mater, pack Mickey away and paint over that mascot. The same goes for brightly-colored rooms. Your son’s colbalt blue room or daughter’s florescent pink walls might be off-putting to some buyers. Have you ever watched an episode of “House Hunters” on HGTV? I think every episode features a couple walking through homes, complaining about bright color choices and all the painting they would have to do. Show a more neutral space where potential buyers can picture their things and won’t get sidetracked by the color.

6. Depersonalize.

Photo walls or collages can be distracting for buyers. They tend to look at all the photos, instead of focusing on the house. It can also be argued that taking down personal photos can help people visualize their own family in the house.

At the suggestion of our Realtor, I took down my photo wall, patched the holes, and put up something more simple (borrowed from my mom and dad’s house!). I liked my photo wall, but she was right. For selling purposes, this was a much better, less-distracting display.

7. Take down photos and magnets from fridge.

A blank fridge looks clean and uncluttered.

8. Purge furniture.

Take out a few pieces of furniture. Removing a bulky chair, extra bookshelf, or table makes a room appear more spacious.

We like these two floral chairs for extra seating, but taking them out makes the room look bigger.

9. Rearrange to show more space.

In addition to purging some furniture, you can also rearrange to show off the space. Move a table that sticks out a little too far in the entryway or a chair that disrupts a natural walkway in the house. This doesn’t mean pushing all the furniture up against the walls, though. Conversation areas around a table are warm and inviting.

We were able to leave our house while we showed it, so my husband took down the boys’ cribs and I put the twin beds in. The cribs took up a lot of space in the room and closed the entrance off a bit, so taking them down made a big difference. I already had twin beds for when they’re a bit older, and putting them toe to toe across the wall was a great space-saver.

Our chaotic pool patio needed some new arrangements, as well. We took out all the kids’ toys, took down the pool fence, and instead of replacing our stained outdoor rug, we just flipped it over. I went the extra mile and painted our coffee table white to match the chairs. (I wanted to do that for awhile now!) I borrowed two stools from the kitchen to make a bar area. Taking down the pool fence allowed for room our two loungers to reclaim their space in the sun.

10. Clean!

Give your house a deep scrub to remove dirt and odors. Don’t forget to shine faucets and wipe down all mirrors.  You might also consider getting your carpets cleaned to remove odors and stains from pets and kids.

11. Organize under the kitchen sink.

Make sure there are no leaks in the plumbing under the kitchen sink. Use new shelf liner and organize underneath. This is a popular place for potential buyers to look.

12. Clear off counters.

It’s easy to accumulate a mass of objects on the kitchen counter — toaster, coffee machine, espresso machine, mixer, canisters, cutting board, knives, spices, cooking utensils, etc. Maybe pick three of these things to leave to leave out when your staging your house.

13. Add quick and easy centerpieces.

Apples and lemons both make inexpensive centerpieces that will last weeks. You can also borrow from your yard. Fall branches, spring greenery or summer blooms work nicely.

14. Plug in subtle scent.

Plug in a scented oil warmer 2 to 3 weeks in advance of  listing your house. Of course you want your house to smell nice, but some of those plug-ins are super strong. Leaving them plugged in a couple weeks gives them a chance to calm down.

15. Put the toilet seats down.

Put the toilet seats down. It just looks nicer, especially in pictures.

16. Light the way.

Leave your outdoor lights on in the evening for potential buyer drive-bys.

Is it smart to sell your home in November?

In between making the Thanksgiving Day turkey, getting your house decorated for the season and picking up relatives from the airport is it really the best time to sell your home?

Sheer madness right? Maybe not. Many might say it’s definitely not the time to put up a ‘for sale’ sign in the front lawn, but that may not be the case anymore thanks to low supply and demand.

Here are a few reasons why you might want to call in a Realtor and start thinking about selling your home in November.

1. People who are shopping for a home at this time of year tend to be more serious and some of them may be purchasing for year-end tax benefits.

2. Less competition of homes on the market and the MLS.

3. Many buyers who are looking during this time wish there were more homes on the market. That’s when you as a seller, with a nice home might seriously consider thinking about listing it after Thanksgiving.

4. If you don’t want to keep your home open for viewings during the holidays, think about doing it after January when inventory levels tend to be lower. That when many sellers prefer waiting – during the springtime to list, a more traditional selling time.

What is the best investment? Single Family vs. Multifamily Rental Properties

If you’ve been a homeowner, or even rented a house or condominium unit to live in, it’s no sweat learning how to buy and rent out few. But perfecting your real estate management skills, controlling operating expenses and constantly squeezing out profits is much more difficult for the neophyte. Lets weigh out the options:

Single Family House (SFH) Rentals


They can yield higher cash flow.

They are more affordable.


They’re difficult to scale quickly.

They are more difficult to sell.

Multi Family Properties


They’re easier and cheaper to manage.

You have more control over value.


They’re more expensive to buy.

Emotional homeowners are likely to quickly sell at lower prices for non-economic reasons such as divorce, job transfers or a growing family needing more space. By comparison, investors want to sell for economic reasons and try to time their exit during market highs for the most profit. But competing by with emotional homeowners, you are more likely to pay too much when you buy and sell too low. Continue reading

Unveiled! Check out how to add a secret room to your home.

You walk into what appears to be an ordinary house, but looks can be deceptive. That candelabra by the fireplace? It makes the hearth swivel 180 degrees, revealing a speakeasy bar. “White Noise” by Don DeLillo on the bookshelf? Pull it and the bookshelf swings to reveal a private theater.

This isn’t a movie set, it’s a living room. It could even be yours, if you have the space and the cash. Apparently, many people do. Secret passageways and rooms are surging in popularity in homes across the country.

“Secret doors have definitely become more popular in the past few years,” says Elissa Morgante, an architect and co-principal of the Chicago-based architectural firm Morgante Wilson Architects. “We’ve been in business for 28 years, and it’s only in the last five years we’ve seen them requested more often.”

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