Real Estate Property Management

One of the biggest decisions you will make as a landlord is whether you should hire a property management company or not. Many landlords manage properties on their own or with the help of an employee, such as a resident manager. Sometimes it happens that landlords need more help when property issues are complicated. This is when landlords need to seek the help of real estate property management companies.

Real estate property management companies can be a huge asset to your company but they don't come cheap. They deal directly with prospects and tenants, saving you time and worry over marketing your rentals, collecting rent, handling maintenance and repair issues, responding to tenant complaints, and even pursuing evictions. A good property management company brings its know-how and experience to your property and gives you the peace of mind that comes with knowing your investment is in good hands.

A real estate management business is an independent contractor and this helps you avoid the hassles of being an employer. Along with the benefits, hiring a real estate property management company also comes with a drawback of being an expensive one. If you are living far from your rental property, it will be difficult for you to handle property issues from afar. Most of the landlords look forward to finding good tenants to maintain their property in good and attractive condition.

On the contrary, there are few landlords who look at their property purely as an investment and are not interested in lending them to any tenants. In this case, the best option is to hire a real estate property management to handle the property and manage the related issues. Even if you enjoy hands-on management, you will run out of time to concentrate on the growth of your business which will put you in a situation to hire help for your property. Hiring help of a real estate property management company is an attractive option if you can afford the fees for the same. While interviewing management companies, expect to hear quotes ranging between 5% and 10% of what you collect in rent revenue.

Trying to choose a property agent can be daunting, after all you need someone with experience, energy and a passion to succeed! Perhaps even more importantly, someone who will talk to you and honestly discuss how the real estate industry can work successfully for you. In real estate, it's about service – and that's what gets results!

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Real Estate Appraisal – Bring Back the Cost Approach

In the last few years there has been a trend toward a complete discounting of the Cost Approach to value in residential appraisal. For owner occupied homes, the sole technique is now the Sales Comparison Analysis, which involves selecting and comparing individual property sales to a subject property.

Many lenders and government agencies no longer require the Cost Approach technique, even on new or nearly new construction, and appraisers are often instructed to omit it completely, or not to place any reliance on the results. When a lender does require that the Cost Approach be completed, it seems that this is only so that a proper amount of homeowner insurance can be determined. This is, of course, something critically important to the lender as well as the homeowner, but should not be the only criteria for the use of a cost-depreciation analysis.

Years ago a Cost Approach was always required for an appraisal report. The basis of this approach was the Principle of Substitution, which holds that a prudent buyer will not pay more for a home than the cost to acquire an equally desirable substitute home. Accordingly, the reproduction or replacement cost new of a home set the upper possible limit on value, particularly for an existing preowned home. So this analysis served not only as an additional means of estimating value, but also as a governor on runaway home prices.

The cost approach also served an important function as an educational tool for appraisers. To perform this approach, an appraiser had to have at least a minimal working knowledge of residential construction and to carefully observe the quality and condition of the various components of the home. Cost data services, which still exist today, provide continuously updated information on the various costs of construction involved in a home and some are quite accurate.

One service publishes a manual with a wealth of good data and information, complete with descriptions and photographs that illustrate the differences in quality and appearance for different types of homes, which is a great way for new or inexperienced appraisers to familiarize themselves with these features. In recent times I have come across reports by relatively new appraisers where no cost approach was done and it was painfully obvious that the appraiser knew very little about construction or how to evaluate the differences between their subject and the comparable sales they used in the Sales Comparison Analysis. I suspect we have a new generation of appraisers out there who have this deficiency and that's a bad sign for the future. The best appraisers know something about construction and can immediately spot differences among homes as to their quality level. This ability is also critical for the appraisal reviewer.

The Cost Approach is not without its weaknesses. The primary weakness is in the estimate of depreciation, be it physical, functional or external in nature. These things are difficult to estimate, but again, the appraiser who learns how to do this becomes more knowledgeable and competent, both in the Cost and Sales Comparison methods. Another weakness is in estimating the land value. Actual sales are often not available as a means to determine what buyers are paying for a similar lot and so market abstraction (also called extraction) is used to estimate the ratio of land value to dwelling value from market sales of already built homes. Improperly done, this technique is subject to serious errors. The general rule for the Cost Approach is that it is most accurate when the dwelling is not very old and sales of nearby similar lots are available.

I am of the opinion that the majority of foreclosures involve relatively new homes and that this is where the largest amount of lending losses occur. At least, that's how it is in my local market which has always had a lot of new construction. There are many reasons for foreclosures, but certainly one is upgrades.

Builders typically offer various home models at "base" prices and offer upgrades for both the home and the lot. Buyers can choose from a wide variety of options to enhance the home and can choose lots that are different in size or that have more trees or other desirable aspects. This is great for the buyer but can become a nightmare for the lender when a foreclosure happens because so many of those nice upgrades do not hold their value in subsequent foreclosure sales, and often do not hold their value as the distressed homeowner desperately tries to sell the home to avoid foreclosure.

The homeowner finds out they are "upside down" meaning the home cannot be sold for as much as the mortgage amount, especially when the initial down payment was very low or when financing costs were included (rolled into) the mortgage, necessitating an increase in the sale price. Another problem is inflated upgrade cost where some builders mark up the prices of upgrades well beyond normal prices that consumers pay at retail stores, even with installation added on. This is similar to what many service contractors (plumbers, car mechanics, etc.) do because they want to make a profit on the "parts" as well as the labor. The problem comes when the markup is excessive.

There is little an appraiser can do about upgrades when it can be shown that buyers often do select upgrades with their new home purchase. In the absence of current resales or foreclosures to compare with, it is not possible to estimate the resale value of upgrades, and values ​​are estimated as of a given date, not the future.

The Cost Approach long served as a reasonable basis for making adjustments to market sales in the Sales Comparison Analysis for individual items. If a home needed a new roof, the appraiser had a handy source for determining the cost for this. Likewise for appliances, HVAC equipment, a garage and the like. Removing the Cost Approach and the good data that comes with it forces too many appraisers to have to guess at these kinds of adjustments and the results can vary wildly from one appraiser to the next.

Long ago homes were valued only by a Cost Approach. The Sales Comparison Analysis (formerly known as the Market Approach) came later. I don't believe it is a coincidence that foreclosure rates and personal bankruptcies caused by unaffordable mortgage amounts and runaway home prices seem to have increased so much in recent years while the use of the Cost Approach has declined at the same time. Not do I believe it is a coincidence that the decrease in emphasis on cost minus depreciation began about the same time as tremendous inflows of capital into the marketplace encouraged every sort of easy money credit scheme that allowed so many people to buy homes they couldn't actually afford and that has severely damaged not only the US economy, but the entire world. Mountains of money to lend tend to push caution to the side.

I believe that the Sales Comparison Analysis is surely a good valuation technique, but its down side is that there are too many clever ways for market participants to smuggle hidden costs, fees and even fraud into sales contracts, which make their way silently into market data services and onto appraisal reports. The same can be true for unhidden costs like seller paid loan discount fees and other monies paid toward buyer closing costs. At a minimum, an accurate Cost Approach serves as a useful check on the results of even the most thorough and detailed Sales Comparison Analysis where the appraiser is carefully searching for and analyzing such things. Undesirable things can and do happen in real estate and some can slip past even the best Sales Comparison Analysis because they happen quietly and incrementally.

An example of this is what I call closing cost price compounding. A real estate agent provides a seller a pricing analysis where the agent has found 20 recent sales of similar homes in the area and averaged the prices to arrive at a figure he or she believes is correct for the home. The home is then marketed at that price. Along comes a buyer (perhaps from a higher cost market) who lacks cash, needs some assistance with his closing costs, and makes an offer at or very near the asking price. The seller counters with an offer in which he adds the amount of assistance the buyer asked for to the price.

But what if this type of assistance turns out to be normal for the area and is already reflected in the selling prices of those 20 homes used to set the asking price to begin with? The new sale closes at the upwardly adjusted price and is then used as a "comp" by other agents and by appraisers and the process continues with every repeat occurrence of the needy buyer, causing home prices to rise, affordability to lessen, creating more needy Buyers, and setting in motion a snowball effect where prices to rise eventually to the point that they exceed even cost new. This is not unlike interest compounding on your savings account. Over time your balance goes up faster and faster. Combine this with other inflationary market tendencies and you get a nasty bubble that will some day burst to the peril of us all … again.

Obviously, this could be avoided by competent sales agents who understand that those 20 sales already included heavy seller costs and inform their clients of this, but many do not and there is a built in incentive to pay prices as high as possible among people working on commission. An accurate Cost Approach would tend to catch this anomaly immediately or at least decrease its effects down the line in future sales because when home prices begin to exceed what it would cost to build an equally desirable substitute home brand new, the competent appraiser knows that something is wrong and that they need to dig deeper into the market data.

A Cost Approach is also a great lie detector for fraudulent appraisals. If an appraiser included a Cost Approach and is using a known cost source or manual that others can subscribe or view, then the estimated costs shown in the appraisal can be reproduced from that same source by someone reviewing the report. So if the appraiser has fudged on cost, that can be detected simply by examining the cost source and parameters the appraiser had described. Moreover, even if the appraiser showed the correct costs, the fraudulently inflated appraisal will exhibit inflated land value in the Cost Approach with little or no support as to where the land value estimate comes from or why it is so high. In fraudulent appraisals, the Cost Approach is "plugged in" with numbers to match the Sales Comparison Analysis. That's because an honest Cost Approach would have indicated a significantly lower value for the home.

There are other examples of how the Cost Approach could eliminate or reduce runaway home prices, and even detect fraud. I believe it is a foolish mistake to take away or encourage the disuse of any type of analysis or tool from appraisers that has a basis in market data. An analyst in any field of study should be willing and enabled to use as many ways as possible of looking at a problem. Focusing on just one method encourages tunnel vision. I say bring back the Cost Approach and let appraisers decide how useful or accurate it is on a case by case basis. It is not the end-all be-all solution but it is a valuable and worthwhile tool.

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Real Estate Broker Requirements: The Qualifications

The real estate broker requirements will give you an idea that shifting from one career to becoming a real estate agent is fairly easy. In fact, the qualifications do not vary much from one state to another because the demands are practically the same too. Although there might not be any particular degree required to become a good broker agent, it would not hurt if you have one because it will definitely be a good back up for whatever you are pursuing. And yet one of the most important requirements is that one needs to be able to take a series of exams to earn the license of being a broker.

Since the market of a real estate agent is huge and yet very competitive, one must be able to start with a real estate firm to work with. Usually a broker needs the help of broker and if you are just starting a career in real estate, it is best to find a broker you could work for. Then, the next thing that you need to do is to find people who are selling their properties and after that you need to search for people who want to buy that property. The more people you find, the more likely that you would be able to sell. This only means that you would have more chances of earning money.

In addition to what was already listed, becoming a broker agent is not easy but some say that it is definitely worth your time and effort. Not only will you be learning the tricks of the trade but you will also be equipped with the knowledge of the legalities that brokers have to deal with and keep up with. In fact, one of the major requirements of becoming a broker is working with technological advancements like the computer. If you do not have any knowledge about how to use it or how it works, it might be minus points for you. This type of profession demands for your diligence and perseverance because if you are determined to be the best broker, you can be one and the monetary rewards can be fulfilling too.

Perhaps by now, you have realized that the requirements are quite easy to meet and becoming a broker agent is actually within your arm's reach. Here is a breakdown list of the requirements that you need to prepare so that you can immediately start with your broker agent career.

• Age requirement

• Pass the background check

• Completed real estate courses

• Pass the real estate state exam

• Completed application form with needed attachments

• Payment of the fees

The requirements being asked from those who wish to become broker agents are not totally difficult to gather. In fact, they have one of the simplest application systems yet it is one of the most rewarding in terms of payment. Just look through the basics of application, you might just convinced yourself that it is a good career to shift to or at least you might want to try.

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What Real Estate Investors Should Know About Local Customs

As a commercial real estate investor, there is a good chance that you will invest in a property located in another state in which local customs may be very different from where you live. Knowing some of these customs may help you avoid mistakes that may cost you money. While people say when you are in Rome, do what Romans do. However, there is often disagreement about whether the seller or buyer is in Rome. This article discusses some of the common customs that you should know. It may or may not explain why these customs are what they are which could be a very long story.

Independent Consideration
You often see this independent monetary consideration in contracts in Texas (TX), Georgia (GA), and North Carolina (NC) but not in California (CA) where love and affection are acceptable consideration. Listing brokers in these states often insist that you pay the seller $ 1000- $ 5000 as independent consideration for the right to cancel the contract during the typical 30-day due diligence period. As an out-of-state investor, you have to pay for air fare, hotel, food, and car rental to visit the property as part of your due diligence. So if you decide that the location is not as good as it appears from satellite map or whatever reasons, it does not make sense to pay another $ 1000-5000 to cancel the contract. While the law in these states requires an independent monetary consideration, it does say what that amount must be. So you should pick a big number between $ 1 to $ 10 to make the contract legal!

Nonrefundable Earnest Deposit
In CA, there is no such thing as nonrefundable deposit per a CA court ruling. Most if not all real estate contracts in all states have a paragraph addressing damages due to contract breaching by either party. This is often sufficient. However, some listing brokers and sellers outside of CA often insist that all the earnest deposit "going hard", ie becoming non-refundable and released to the seller, after the expiration of due diligence period. While the purpose is to make sure you think twice about breaching, it could be difficult to get any of earnest deposit back if

  • You, for unforeseeable position, eg hit by a truck or have a heart attack and go to heaven or wherever, cannot close the transaction.
  • The property is partially damaged, or even burned down by arson.
  • The seller spends it all and your loan is not approved due to soil contamination discovered later on!

You are in a bad position to negotiate with nothing to offer when the money is in possession of the seller. It is therefore advisable to keep the deposit in escrow until closing. However, sometimes you have to make a tough choice, especially when there are multiple offers so you can buy a desirable property.

Property Taxes
In CA, the property is automatically reassessed at the purchased price. The property tax rate is about 1.25% of the purchased price. Due to the Proposition 13, property taxes can only increase by a small percentage annually unless there is change in ownership.

In TX, the property tax rate is about 3% of the assessed or taxable value. However, the taxable value may or may not be the purchased price which is often higher. If the higher purchased price is reported to the county then you will pay property taxes based on the higher purchased price. So it's a good idea not to report this higher purchased price since it is not required. Lately in TX, the local government tries to raise revenue by aggressively reassess the property values. The new assessed value could be significantly higher than, eg 100% the old assessed value. Should this happen to your property, you may want to hire a professional company to protest this property taxes increase even on a property with NNN leases. The success rate appears to be fairly high. As an investor, it's wise and prudent to keep the NNN expenses as low as possible for your tenants. You definitely want your golden goose to keep laying eggs.

In Florida, there is a monthly state sales tax for commercial properties, so make sure you know who is supposed to pay it. In Illinois, the property taxes rate is fairly steep at about 5%. The property tax rate for NC is about 1.45% of the taxable value which is not changed after the sale.

Attorney States
In CA, an escrow company can handle the closing of a real estate transaction. In GA, FL, or NC, escrow companies can only hold the deposit for you and you must hire an attorney licensed in that state to do the closing. These states are often called "attorney states". The proponents say that a real estate transaction is very complex so it must have an attorney to assist you. For opponents, it's all about job security for lawyers. If you invest in a property in an attorney state, you want to hire an attorney who charges a flat fee since the amount of work is very much predictable. You will receive an estimate based on what you need the attorney to do. He or she won't start working until you authorize him or her in writing to do it. The attorney will review all the documents and give the blessing before you sign them. It is advisable to avoid an attorney who charges you by the hours. Most likely you are dealing with a lawyer looking for a big pay day.

In CA, the buyer automatically receives the Preliminary Title report which shows the owner and various information, eg liens and loan amount on the property. If you cancel the transaction, you normally don't pay escrow any fees. In attorney states, the attorney will do the title search and review. The title company then issues a title commitment to insure against any title defects. Should you cancel the transaction, the attorney and Escrow Company may charge a fee for the work done.

Closing Costs
When you make an offer, you often state that buyer and seller split closing costs based on the custom in the county where the property is located. In CA or TX, the sellers customarily pay for owner's title insurance premium based on the purchased price which guarantees the buyer of a clear title (technically you should not have to buy the owner's title insurance when you refinance the property because the title was already insured when you bought the property.) The buyer pays for the lender's policy premium based on the loan amount. This lender's policy is required by the lender to protect it against losses resulting from claims made by others against the property. Of course, if you pay cash for the property then there is no lender's policy. However in GA, it's customary for the buyer to pay for both owner's and lender's policy. So make sure you have sufficient fund to close the transaction.

Deeding Instrument
In CA, the sellers often transfer his interest to the buyers by a grant deed. In other states, the seller will transfer his interest to the buyer by a general or special warranty deed.

  • General warranty deed is used to convey the seller's interest in real property to the buyer. The seller certifies that the title on property being conveyed is free and clear of defects, liens, and encumbrances. The buyer may sue the seller for the damages caused by the defective title.
  • Special warranty deed is also used to convey an interest in real estate. However, the grantor does not warrant against the defects arising from conditions that existed before he / she owned the property. So the special warranty deed is not as good as the general warrant deed. However, most sellers will use this deed for obvious reasons.
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Choose the Best Realtor – How Can You Find the Best Real Estate Agent For You in Today's Market?

Real estate agents don't get enough credit for the work they put into their clients. There is a lot of potential liability in the real estate career, and true success takes sustained hard work. Many try, and few survive. A good Realtor should become your trusted advisor. By understanding and appreciating what the Realtor does for you as the client, you can guarantee a wonderful working relationship with your Realtor and ensure total success throughout your home buying process.

Always, when I say "real estate agent" I want you to think Realtor, and to consider only a Realtor to represent you in your home purchase. "Realtor" is a professional designation for a real estate agent who has made a public commitment to a high level of accountability and professionalism. A real estate agent merely signs a license; a Realtor adheres to a code of ethics.

With a Realtor, you can expect someone who has invested time, money, and energy into the real estate profession, as opposed to someone who paid a couple hundred dollars, took some classes and passed a test. Yes, a license allows one to practice in real estate in the state of issuance, but it says nothing of the agent's reputation. Most first-time homebuyers don't even know to ask, "Are you a Realtor?" or even better, to check out the agent's business card to verify their title. A Realtor can also take additional education to gain special designations, further proof of effort towards professionalism and competence. Usually, the more designations the better: few would spend the time and money on these designsations without a passion for this business and the clients they serve.

Finding the right Realtor is hardly an exact science, but a little research can go a long way. In so many cases, the best agents are not the ones you see and hear about; on the contrary, the best agents are the ones who are so good at their trade and profession they don't need to spend money on advertising. These are the agents who work primarily by referral or word of mouth and have qualified people coming to them every day. This phenomenon only happens to great agents who know their trade and have built their business over enough years for new clients to seek them out.

Referrals Rule

Many buyers start by looking at agents they have heard of. This could be the local Century 21 branch next to the coffee shop down the street, or it could be that nice old lady who walks down the block every Thursday with her funky flyers. That old lady agent is desperately hoping that her hard work pays off and that after years of delivering her funky flyer to you, one day you will pick up the phone and call her. Similarly, the local Century 21 branch is hoping that next time you get coffee, you will walk in and become their next lead (and potential client). After all, they pay good money for the visibility that has been building their brand awareness every time you passed by and saw their sign over the years.

These are some of the many examples of how agents try to get your business, but you should not concern yourself with them. You should actively seek out a Realtor. Essentially, the best agents are typically the ones who don't need to spend time cold-calling or door-knocking to get their business. Business comes to them via referrals from past clients who are satisfied with their professionalism, honesty, and results. Take the initiative and give yourself the best opportunity to win: choose your agent carefully.

Let's take a moment to clarify this issue about star agents and how they go about their business. Great agents did not get that way by sitting around waiting for business to come to them. Rather, their success is the result of years of hard work building their businesses and spheres of influence in order to get to the position where they no longer need heavy marketing. Please don't mistake an agent's aggressiveness for a bad thing. A proactive agent is a very good sign! He or she is just trying to see where you are in terms of the buying process. An agent needs to know whether you are looking to move next month, or are looking to start looking next month – there is a huge difference! Sometimes agents who don't need to advertise do so anyway in order to maintain an identity in the community. Just as choosing the best agent is not an exact science, neither is the way that great agents market and advertise themselves.
Knowing what I know, if I wanted to find the best real estate agent for my first-time purchase, I would follow two basic plans: I would ask several people I knew and trusted for Realtor recommendations, and I would scan the online community consumer blogs for highly recommended Realtors.

As I mentioned before, the best agents are the ones who get consistent referrals. You should be one of those referrals! You should ask everybody you trust about his or her most recent experience in real estate. Preferably, you want to ask people who bought their homes within the past year or so, though a referral to an agent someone has worked with multiple times is a good sign. Always keep an open disposition for what people are telling you. In general, we humans have an innate need to share good experiences, so you should take any recommendations with open arms and then qualify them with questions about the experience. Whenever I get a referral from a past client or good friend, I am excited! I am already going to have a more solid connection to the referral, and there is a good chance the new client and I will mesh in terms of personality.

I will ALWAYS treat clients referred to me by people I know at a higher level than online "leads" or other unknowns. Without question, the level of commitment on the part of the buyer is so much more significant when it's a referral from a good source. I don't like admitting that my initial treatment of an Internet lead compared to a referral is different, but in practice it most certainly is! I can depend on a referral; I cannot depend on an online lead. For this reason I give priority to my referrals, and reserve the best service for them. Ask around, get referrals, check out the agents' websites, pick out your favorites, and schedule a time to meet.

Before you meet a potential agent, write down your most pressing questions. This will really help with your interview. It may be necessary to let the agent know you are interviewing a few other agents. This will keep them on their best behavior and you will see the best that they can offer. Usually I dislike it when I am referred a client who is "shopping" other agents, but here's the bottom line: If I were in your position, I would want to shop around until I meet the Realtor who is going to represent me in the most important buying decision in my entire life. It is a good idea to shop around, even if it hurts the agent's feelings. The one you choose will probably forgive you.

In some cases, you may feel so strongly about a particular agent that you don't find it necessary to interview other agents. There is nothing wrong with this, so long as you feel very certain about it. It's typical to see that with a highly referred agent only one appointment is needed to see that they truly are the best fit for you. You'll probably be sold on them after that initial consultation. After all, there is a reason they are that good in the first place.

The WOW Agent

Test-drive your potential agent during the interview! You're hiring your agent primarily for their real estate expertise. Their most important assets are their local knowledge (of the market, prices and inventory), their ability to negotiate and handle contractual issues, their ability to manage emotions and surprises, and their ability to connect with you as a person and help usher you at your pace through the transaction. How do you know your Realtor's skills before you begin? Ask questions! Your agent should leave you saying "WOW!" and feeling excited about the process ahead. Keep an eye out for that "WOW" agent. You will know when you find him or her, and you will be happy you did!

I cannot tell you how many times people have come to me looking for help after they have been working with a non- "WOW" agent. Sometimes the agent's problem is a lack of knowledge, sometimes it's a lack of communication, sometimes it's an unforgivable mistake, but no matter what, if you have found yourself with an agent you thought was a "WOW" agent, and you turned out to be wrong, it's OK to move on. My only suggestion is that as soon as you realize that your agent is not a "WOW" agent, you must cut ties with that agent as soon as possible! I say this because a lot of people are generally so afraid of confrontation that they negatively affect themselves in the process by not severing the relationship with the non- "WOW" agent. Do yourself a favor. Be bold. This will help you get what you want quicker, and it will be a wake-up call of sorts to the agent.

The bottom line is simple: go with a pro. Go with someone who knows the trade, and who is aggressive and tenacious (in a good way). Go with someone who knows how to talk and negotiate. Go with someone who has it together. Go with someone you connect with on a personal level – this will help you to build trust with your agent, and trust is the most important aspect of the agent-client relationship. Once trust and respect are established, the rest will fall into place. Just make sure you have the agent who will get you what you want!

It is important to remember that no matter how you choose your agent, being a good client will pay off in the end. Being demanding or demeaning to your agent will get you nowhere. Go in with the intention of keeping your agent as a trusted advisor for anything real estate-related from that point on. A long-term relationship is better for both parties, and no agent will tolerate an extremely needy or demanding or rude client for long!

Recently, I've been planning a wedding. I made a point of asking all our vendors what an "ideal client" is for them, and how we can work best with them in their service for our wedding. This would give me the idea of ​​how to make our relationship and the task at hand as enjoyable and successful as possible. Similarly, when I work with clients who have this kind of commitment to the client / agent relationship, there is no end to what I would do for them to ensure that their experience is second to none.

Bonus: The Top Ten Traits of a Successful Client

A recent client of mine named Amanda embodies this mentality. Her purchase price was low, which meant I wouldn't get much of a commission. The job entailed many hours of work, several offers, a long short-sale escrow and a couple of delays. All this was of no concern to me because of the type of client Amanda was. The time and effort involved did not matter, because she was top-notch. I wish all my clients were like her. In fact, I have said during the course of transactions with several clients that I wished all my clients were like the one at hand. Whenever I say this, I am saying that this particular client exhibits the following qualities, and no matter the challenge at hand, I am there without question to make sure everything goes right.

1. Be reasonable! Don't get too emotional, ever. When clients get overly emotional, agents get impatient. This is a grown-up world and you need to act like an adult. I will hold your hand throughout the transaction, but irrational clients never get the best treatment.

2. Be responsive! Unanswered phone calls and ignored emails are never a good sign. This is a warning flag for an agent, signaling that you may not be as motivated as you say you are.

3. Be punctual! If I am on time, you must be on time, too. This is a simple thing, but it's surprising how many people are late to everything. This is a slap in the face and you lose points in my book if you are late to confirmed appointments. If you flake on an appointment, start looking for some other agent; I probably won't work with you any further after a stunt like that.

4. Be flexible! Sometimes your wants don't quite line up with your budget, and you need to be OK with that! An irrational client is the last thing I want, a big waste of time. Really, it means that the client does not know what they truly want, or that what is affordable for them (what the buyer can actually buy) will not work.

5. Be honest and upfront! The more honest and open you are, the better I can serve you. Sometimes I go weeks with a client, only to find out about a preference, financial condition, or special need that has not been addressed. This can seriously affect the client's ability to find something that will work. Open yourself to your agent, and your agent will be better equipped to find you what you are looking for!

6. Be grateful! Show some love for your Realtor. Show that you appreciate all the time and hard work put in for your benefit. A grateful client is easier to work with and gets more appreciation than a demanding client.

7. Be respectful! This is a business, and you are dealing with a professional. Treat your agent like you would want to be treated yourself. When I am treated without respect, I have no problem moving on, letting go of a potential client. Sometimes clients seem to feel a need to act condescending or big or strong to establish control over the situation. This behavior is not conducive to a mutually healthy and beneficial business relationship.

8. Be trustworthy! I want to trust you and you should want to trust me. When both the client and the agent have a relationship built on trust, nothing can stop them. It's only when I have clients who question me as to my skill or ability that the relationship becomes distant.

9. Be prepared! Be ready to move fast! I know you are a busy person, but buying a home takes focus and commitment. I don't care if you had a busy week; we have a lot of documents to go over in a short time, and I shouldn't have to feel bad asking you to go over things you should be going over through the course of the escrow. I am bringing to your attention items and issues that will directly affect your purchase and the home you end up with. I cannot want the home more than you do, and if you aren't prepared and committed, it makes everything more difficult and stressful for me and for you.

10. BE COMMITTED! Being committed means that your heart and mind are in harmony with respect to the goal at hand. I have found that this is the number-one trait for all the buyers in my most successful and seamless transactions. When a buyer is committed, no matter the hurdle that may arise in escrow, the buyer will overcome. When the buyer is committed, the entire process is less stressful. When the buyer is committed, success is in the cards!

Bonus: Google Your Agent!

Today's online community offers an exceptional ability for any consumer to check in on the history of their service provider's reputation and work ethic: kudzu.com, yelp.com, and angieslist.com are a few stellar examples of websites geared to service providers for a specific geographic location. As time goes on, more and more of us will become connected, and this type of virtual "feedback" will become more and more pervasive.

Real estate aside, you can and should be doing this for any service provider, from your babysitter to your auto mechanic. That said, at least a nominal amount on online research should be called for to find any specific warning flags regarding the agent (s) you are considering working with. Check the agent's website and see if there are written testimonials on the site, and if these testimonials match up with what you find online. Keep in mind that there are some people who just love to file complaints, even for good service, and this can tarnish your expectations of the person you are considering working with. Please know that the online community cannot be fully regulated for accuracy, but it is typically more helpful and accurate as opposed to being burdensome and untruthful. There is no doubt that this kind of research will become more common because it is user-generated and tends to offer a comparatively unbiased opinion of a given service provider.

Choosing the right agent won't necessarily make or break your deal, but it can mean the difference between a satisfying deal and an unfulfilling one, a good deal and a not-so-good deal, a one-time transaction and a trusted advisor for life. Put simply, choosing the best agent gives you the best opportunity to realize massive success for your first home purchase. Choose wisely!

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How to Choose a Realtor – 7 Questions to Ask Your Real Estate Agent

Buying or selling real estate is probably the most significant transaction you’ll ever make in your life. That’s why it’s important to choose the best Realtor to help you achieve this goal. But before you hire the services of a real estate agent, there are important factors to consider.

Many people have the perception that all real estate agents are the same. Some sign with the first one that comes along. Unfortunately, they realize later on that they should have been more selective before signing an agreement. To guide you in choosing the best Realtor for your needs, below are seven questions to ask your prospective real estate agent.

1) What is your experience in real estate?

The first thing you need to ask a real estate agent is how long they’ve been in the real estate business. It doesn’t mean that you cannot enlist the services of newly licensed real estate agents. Just keep in mind that those who have years of experience under their belts are probably more knowledgeable on what to do, from listing to closing. Aside from the number of years in the business, ask them what segment of real estate they focus on – residential, commercial, luxury, etc. Find out if he/she is primarily a listing agent or a buyer’s agent (or both). Familiarity with the market is also essential, so ask what geographic areas the agent usually covers. You can even dig deeper by asking if the agent has received any awards for outstanding performance.

2) How many and what types of properties have you listed and sold in the past year?

It’s one of the most important questions you should ask a real estate agent. The number of properties he or she has listed and sold in the past year is a valuable indicator how good a real estate professional is in getting the job done. Take note that this question consists of two parts: properties listed and properties sold. Agents may demonstrate their ability to list homes; however, the more important thing is the sales part – the ability to close deals. If they have many properties listed and sold in the past year, it shows that whatever strategy the agent is using, it’s certainly working.

3) What was the average sales price for the properties you’ve sold over the last year?

Asking this will give you an idea in what kind of market the agent specializes. Find out if the real estate professional has experience selling properties in the price range you’re listing at. If a majority of properties sold falls on the low-end market segment, it might take longer for the agent to sell if yours is a higher-end home. Although agents can sell any property regardless of price range, it’s likely that they will have better success in the market and price segments in which they have the most experience.

4) What is your average sale to list price ratio?

The sale to list price ratio (sometimes called the sale-to-list or list-to-sale ratio) is the final sales price divided by the listing price, expressed as a percentage. If it is 100%, it means the sales price was equal to the list price. You can view this ratio in two ways. A skilled listing agent can negotiate sales prices that are equal or close to the list price, and sometimes even greater in a very competitive market. So ideally, listing agents should have sale to list price ratios closer to 100%. On the other side of the coin, a good buyer’s agent can often negotiate a sales price that is lower than the list price. Therefore, buyer’s agent ratios ideally should be lower than 99%.

5) What marketing strategies will you use?

Deciding on what strategies to use can spell the difference between success and failure. A poor marketing strategy will diminish the chances for success. Do your own due diligence by asking how the agent will sell your property. There are lots of options – staging, open houses, joint marketing, print advertising, and of course, online marketing. Whatever approaches are used, they should be designed to bring in the highest number of qualified potential buyers. Higher end properties can also often benefit from professional staging. In any case, your agent should advise you on how to best prepare the property to make it the most attractive to potential buyers.

6) Can you give me some references?

Reputation is important in this line of business. Whether you’re buying or selling a property, you should ask for references (past clients). If possible, call a few and ask them about their experiences with the agent. Were they pleased with the service provided? Also ask if they are in any way related to the agent. A list of references made up of friends or relatives generally won’t provide an objective assessment of the agent’s qualifications.

7) Do you offer any type of guarantee, and will you let me out of my contract early if I am not satisfied with your service?

You can’t say with certainty how things will go, even if you did your due diligence. For this reason, you should ensure that you’re prepared for any eventuality. If you sign a contract and later find that you’re not satisfied with the service, will the agent allow you to cancel the agreement? If things don’t work out the way they’re supposed to, you should have the freedom to choose another agent who can deliver better results.

As you can see, there are many things to consider when choosing a real estate agent. Finding and interviewing Realtors can be a very time-consuming and laborious task. However, now armed with these seven questions, you are on your way in choosing the best Realtor for your needs.

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Buying a Property in Romania – Real Estate Law in Romania

If you are looking to buy a holiday or second home or invest in Romania, Transylvania or at the Black Sea and you are a foreign citizen/investor, there are few aspects you should know about the procedure an the costs for the acquisition of Romanian land or Romanian houses.

After 2012, foreign citizens EU citizens (non-Romanian) may purchase a home or apartment in Romania may freely buy and sell any Romanian property, without restrictions. Along with the sell price for the property, buying real estate in Romania has other costs associated with it.

If you have chosen to collaborate with a Romanian real estate agent/ broker you can expect to have an additional commission of approximately 2-4% of the price of the property. The local tax will be 2-4% of the price of the property. The signing of a contract must be witnessed by a public notary who submits it for certification by the Land Registry in charge of real estate records. The fees for the Romanian public notary is about 0.5-1% of the purchase price. You will also have to pay fees to the Land Registry (“Cartea Funciara”) to register the Transfer Deed. The Romanian Land Registry Fee for a purchase of a property will vary from 1-3% according to the length of time that the seller had owned the property and the property’s value.

The Romanian law on property states that Citizens of EU member states, legal persons incorporated in the EU member states and stateless people domiciled in an EU member state can purchase land in Romania only if the land is used for secondary residences or for secondary headquarters after a 5 (five) years term from the accession of Romania to the EU (starting with January 1st, 2012); only for the agricultural land and forest land 7 (seven) years term from the accession of Romania to the EU ( starting with January 1st, 2014).

But for the Citizens, legal persons and stateless people not from a EU member state, the Romanian legal system establishes that they can purchase land in Romania, under the conditions of international treaties between Romania and the states of origin on these persons, under a reciprocity basis.

In our point of view, a prudent investor will hire a Romanian lawyer/ a Romanian Law Office, who will liaise closely with the notary on the verification of the title, obtaining the Land Registry excerpt and the drafting of the agreement for the transfer of ownership of the real estate. This means that the Romanian lawyer will be solely acting for and is responsible to his or her client, whereas the notary will not have the same degree of responsibility to the purchaser.

Under Romanian law there are three basic rights to land and buildings such as right of ownership; usage rights as lease, usufruct, superficies; concession right. The principle of contractual liberty represents the key core of the property law in Romania.

Sometimes, an investor/purchaser can opt for closing a pre-sale agreement, by which the seller undertakes to transfer ownership to the buyer at a certain date in exchange for an agreed consideration. The content of the pre-sale contract will stipulate all commercial and legal conditions for the transfer of ownership, as conditions precedent to the final transfer of ownership. The closing of such pre-contract for purchase does not means the transfer over the property, but the stipulate binding obligations for the parties, in regard to, as example, damages or penalties set out in them, if the seller refuses to sign the final notarized deed of transfer at the agreed deadline.

The closing of the pre-sale agreement is to protect the investor/buyer from any possible purchase to other buyers and to matters regarding the fixed price and duration of a future purchase. In our point of view, it is a must that the pre-sale agreement to be concluded at a Public Notary and clearly stipulate the sale price and other clauses regarding duration of future purchase. In this case, it can be enforced in court on the buyer’s request as a deed to transfer ownership.

A sale agreement signed in Romania, according to the Romanian legislation will mandatory stipulate: obligations of the parties for the fulfillment of the sale contract, delivery and quality conditions of goods and/or services, terms, payment methods and payment guarantees, payment instruments and price insurance, contractual risk, as well as method of solving eventual litigations arising from the contract. Other required elements include the full name and identification details of the parties (for legal entities) and name of the person signing the contract (representing a legal entity).

Our team of romanian lawyers offer a wide variety of legal services in the real estate law http://www.lawyersinromania.com

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How to Select a Commercial Real Estate Company

Selecting a commercial real estate company can be a challenging process. You want to hire someone who is knowledgeable, skilled, experienced and can match your goals and ideals. This is easier said than done. One company may offer you some of these features while others have the remaining characteristics you desire. There is no lack of the number of commercial real estate companies out there, which claim to possess peerless knowledge and skill. So, how do you go about selecting a commercial real estate company?

The secret lies in finding a real estate company that suits your needs and criteria. Yes, there are some overlaying concerns that also need to be considered like appropriate documentation. However, when you are looking for one of the best real estate companies for your needs, you need to do more than just scratch the surface. Here are some tips outlined below that can be useful in helping you during this process.

Let’s take a look at them:

Look at their experience

Commercial real estate is a blanket term and this business can be multi-faceted and highly nuanced. Therefore, you cannot just hire any real estate company for your needs. You have to start looking for one that suits your criteria. For instance, if you are interested in buying or selling properties in strip malls or shopping districts, you shouldn’t hire a company that deals in offices and residential homes. You want someone with a background in the kind of real estate you are focused on or else the company will be of little use because they will be out of their depth.

Assess their reputation

One of the best ways of spotting the best companies is by taking a look at their reputation. How can you do that? There are certifications, customer reviews as well as awards that are readily available due to the magic of the internet and the culture of open communication. If you find a commercial real estate company that seems appealing, you can do some research and discover if they do stack up. This step can be immensely helpful in allowing you to dodge a bullet.

Go over client’s opinions

The greatest problem with reviews is that they are mostly from satisfied customers. Unhappy customers either don’t post or their reviews are removed. Therefore, it is recommended that you ask the commercial company to provide you with a list of their past clients. This allows you to do some homework of your own and identify any weaknesses or problems that a previous client encountered.

Meet the representative

Last, but very important; don’t hire a company over the internet. Always meet their representative in person and see if they understand your needs. Open communication is vital in this business and if you are not comfortable with them, there is no point in starting a relationship.

Use these pointers to pick out one of the companies for your realty requirements.

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Commercial Real Estate Financing With Many Ways to Make the Grade

Commercial real estate financing is currently being used for many different types of profitable business ventures: office buildings, retail outlets, apartment complexes, storage facilities, and the list continues to grow. At the present time, business loan rates are still reasonable enough to capitalize on the hospitality hotel/motel industry as well; business loans are also being used by investors to purchase storage unit facilities across the country, meaning that opportunities abound for those who are interested in making some serious money.

As the state of the economy moves well past its recovery stage, commercial real estate financing is helping new business owners get established, while the seasoned veterans are taking advantage of refinancing via expansion.

Becoming familiar with a business loan calculator can help newer company owners get a quicker handle on their finances. Office building and/or storage facility owners opting for adjustable rates will likely see their numbers fluctuate a bit more than those who’ve signed on for fixed business loan rates. Either way, having access to an online business loan calculator is a great way to keep things in check.

Quite a few commercial real estate financing recipients have invested in office buildings and/or storage facilities for a few good reasons: constant cash flow, low maintenance, and the ability to build equity for future endeavors. These types of contracts fall under the category of small business loans, yet the term small may be somewhat misleading. The idea of starting out small is a noble concept; however, semantics has little or nothing to do with actual profit margins that can allow for expansion. In such cases, construction loans are designed for growth and bigger business on the whole.

Commercial real estate financing at the onset is generally orchestrated for all types of small businesses, meaning that company owners can either maintain operations at a slower pace with steady growth or shoot for the moon when the time is right. No matter the case, small business loans can also be used in other areas, such as corner store strip malls, hotel/motel operations, or apartment building ownership.

The hospitality business can be extremely lucrative, especially when each respective facility provides prospective patrons with amenities galore. When investing in the hotel/motel forum, funding from commercial real estate financing can allow owners to create state-of-the-art facilities, which also falls in line with a number of construction loans used for renovations. The initial investment-to-turnaround timetable may depend upon the location and the climate, which is when doing some detailed research may come in handy. Densely populated areas with temperate climates are ideal for travelers both near and far, and yes, it’s true; location really does matter.

Strip malls, on the other hand, require less involvement, yet making sure that each space is occupied should be a primary concern. With this type of commercial real estate financing, the same small business loans principle applies when investing in apartment complexes. Offering incentives and low move-in specials can increase occupancy and retain tenants as well.

The above-mentioned investment opportunities are merely a drop in the bucket when compared to the thousands of business loans that have already been approved and are now operational. With business loan rates remaining relatively reasonable, staying in the black and beyond is more than just a possibility. Going a step further may also be in the cards for investors who have higher expectations. Commercial real estate financing is now available for those who qualify and who can supply the proper financial documents.

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How The Overall Economy Impacts Real Estate?

Many of us, who are involved, on a daily basis, with the many nuances of real estate, get so involved with buying, selling, marketing, and promoting homes, and making/ giving listing presentation, we often ignore, the many economic factors and other conditions, which impact the real estate market. Some of these factors are local, in nature, while others may be national or international/ global. Some are actual, while others are perceived (for example, belief in their job security, negative possibilities because of some action taken by government, etc). With that in mind, this article will attempt to briefly consider, examine, review, and discuss, how the overall economy impacts the real estate/ housing markets.

1. Mortgage/ interest rates: When the Federal Reserve announces they are raising, planning to, or considering raising rates, in most instances, mortgage rates follow. About 2 years ago, we witnessed historically low mortgage rates, and today, while, from an historic perspective, they are still relatively low, they are about one percent higher, than they were, at the low. When mortgage rates are low, many buyers qualify for a higher price, and thus, we often witness a rice in home prices. As they rise, generally, prices, and, especially, the rate of increase, slows.

2. Taxes: When local real estate taxes are comparatively low, the effect on monthly carrying charges, is a positive, for the housing market. When they rise, they cause homeowners, to have to pay more monthly. Some houses, neighborhoods, regions, counties, etc, have lower taxes than others, so when one region abruptly raises rates, that local market is hurt, and certain surrounding areas benefit. In addition, in higher tax areas, such as New York, New Jersey, Connecticut. Massachusetts, Illinois, California, last year’s tax legislation, may have potential longer – term ramifications, on the housing market. That inclusion, known as State and Local Taxes, or SALT, limited/ capped the federal tax deduction, permitted, for state and local taxes, to a total of $10,000. Since many houses in these regions, have much higher taxes, and, several of these areas, also have state and/ or regional taxes, these caps, have the potential, to harm the real estate market, especially, if, they increase, any more.

3. Jobs: Do people perceive, they have job security? Is the job market, strong, or relatively weak? Are incomes increasing? The more confident, and comfortable, qualified potential buyers, are, the stronger the market.

4. Overall economy, and world news: For example, if the present, partial government shutdown, continues, for a substantial period, many workers, industries, and small businesses, especially, will be negatively impacted! There seems to be lots of fears, doubts, and insecurities, about safety, etc. The more confident, the public is, the better off, usually, is the real estate market.

These items are just the tip of the factors, which have an impact on the housing market. Beware, prepare, and plan accordingly.

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