As a Real Estate Agent entering the field, what prompted your interest? Real Estate agents enter the business for many reasons. Many for the love of working in the industry, while others for the vision of creating lifetime wealth. Looking over a span of 20 years, what I have seen overall are many real estate agents that have built wealth developed in their everyday business.

 

This article is meant to be an initial step to educate and place you on the path of financial success through real estate. It’s about enriching your career and lifetime goals through the buying and selling of real estate.

 

To be real, the ride is not all uphill. Many real estate agents have lost homes and suffered financial hardship as a result of their investments. In life, as we know it, there are no guarantees. There is a smart system for investing. And what better way than to learn from those who have seen the highs and lows in the real estate economy and moved through them.

 

Here Are The 3 Top Investing Tips:

 

Tip #1 The profit is made when you BUY the property and not solely when you sell it.

 

We are in an emotional business. You may get super excited thinking that the home you are looking at is a great deal. Now let’s push aside the emotions for the moment and look at the real numbers. Real estate agents find great deals by finding motivated sellers. It takes knowledge, research and time. If every motivated seller advertised, he or she would take a price below market value, then everyone would be rich. This is where your research, homework and negotiation skills come into play.

 

 

One of the first things taught about real estate investing is to look for properties priced below market value. That takes a solid understanding of market prices. Having in-depth knowledge of an area is a big plus. As real estate agents, you have access to all the properties that are on the market, and then you need to take it a step further and analyze prices in the area where you are looking.

 

In today’s market, it is a seller’s market in many parts of the country, so the opportunity to find properties that are priced below the market may not be an option right now.

 

Many investors and buyers lost their properties when they bought at the height of the market in new construction or buying properties above market value. Their thinking was that they would make their profit as the home increased in value. When the market downturn took place in 2008, many owners and investors rented out their properties since they were unable to sell them and took a monthly loss each month as the rental income did not match their mortgage obligation. Others were not as fortunate and lost their properties to foreclosure. Remember to buy the right way, which is when you purchase the property to alleviate this potential negative outcome.

 

Tip #2 Where to Search For Properties

 

One suggestion is to look for subdivisions or areas that near good schools, walking distance to shopping areas, and if the high demand areas are out of financial reach, then perhaps the surrounding neighborhoods.  Along with the Multiple Listing Service, here are some other popular ways to locate investment properties.

 

FSBO’s (For Sale By Owners) are a great source of finding investment properties. You can find them online, or better yet, by driving through neighborhoods and looking for signs.

 

 

ForeclosuresRealtyTrac.com is one of the leading sources to find foreclosures. You can search the latest foreclosure listings across the country as well as learn the basics of foreclosures.

 

Auctions – auction.com is a website that focuses on housing auctions. They auction all types of real estate including foreclosures, REO’s, short sales, commercial real estate, luxury real estate, and new construction. These auctions take place online, locally on-site or in courthouses as well as in live mega-auctions in meeting halls.

 

 

Tip # 3 Have A Solid Real Estate Investing Plan

 

You wouldn’t get into your car without knowing where you were going, correct? The same is true for building a plan to guide you towards your investment goals.

 

Have a plan in place that includes these important strategies:

 

Goals – What do you want real estate to help you to achieve? Ask yourself these questions: is the property being purchased for you or a family member to live in and then flip within a short period of time or as a rental investment property? How many do you want to own or flip? Maybe you don’t want to own for the long term and just want to fix and flip.

 

Timeline – What is your desired timeline to reach your goals? Divide that into yearly and monthly goals.

 

Financing – How do you plan to acquire your investment properties? Find out what you qualify for from an experienced lender. Are you using cash, conventional loans, hard money, private money, equity partners, seller financing, lease options, or some other creative method?

 

A recent example of what is possible…Yes, it’s true!

 

Realtor Purchases Home For $1.00 in Palm Beach County Florida

 

One Realtor saw a property being advertised in the MLS for $1.00. Sound crazy? It is true. The catch was that the home was in a country club community that required a membership fee to be paid at closing in order to live there. The mandatory membership fee to move in was $70,000. The monthly association fees to live there for this style home was between $583.00 monthly.

 

How this real estate agent saw this, was as an opportunity to live in a prestigious gated community, and his cost would be $70,000 to live there. Instead of the seller making the money, it would be the homeowners association. He was ok with the high monthly maintenance fees. And just in case you are wondering about the condition, the unit came completely furnished and was in original condition. The buyer was ok with that also.

 

The wow factor was that not only did he pay a $1.00, this agent was also reimbursed by the seller for 50% of the membership fee. Essentially he only paid $35,000 to live in this community. Plus, he received a commission for his purchase since he was an agent.

 

Good deal or not a good deal? I think it sounds pretty good!

 

Today there are many educational opportunities available to build your knowledge, experience and meet other experienced investors. Check out any local meetup groups or classes being offered in your area. The bottom line is that real estate is a proven way to build wealth.

 

Written for Form Simplicity by Janice Zaltman, a Realtor, LEED AP, Marketing Coach and Writer with more than 20 years of experience in the sales, marketing and media fields.

More and more homeowners and buyers are looking for ways to save on the costs involved in the daily and monthly upkeep of their homes.  Realistically, this applies to all of us!

This checklist is great to bring with you and provide to your clients to help them plan and meet their goals when purchasing their new home.

These items are at the forefront of importance for today’s buyers looking to increase their home’s efficiency. The checklist below can be used as a resource and as a value proposition for you as their real estate professional.

 

Benefits of these Top 5 Tips:

  • Increase your customer satisfaction and loyalty
  • Achieve higher referral rates
  • Show an understanding of the home systems to the clients
  • Save deals by knowing solutions to overcome potential pitfalls or by having the resources available to guide them effectively

 

Tip # 1 – Lighting

The savings involved in choosing the right light bulbs and lighting in one’s home are significant. There has been a lot of controversy over CFL bulbs and their mercury content so for the purpose of health savings and lighting efficiency, let’s look at LED bulbs. LED’s (Light Emitting Diodes) have gone down in price and offer up to 25000 hours per bulb. Yes, your clients may not be in the home as long as the lightbulb, yet the savings can be significant. Also, some companies offer a 3-year warranty on each bulb purchased. The LED lighting can also be purchased dimmable, meaning the lighting can be adjusted brighter or softer.

According to Energy Star, each LED bulb purchased can save the owner $80.00 on their electricity bill over the course of its lifetime.

 

Occupancy Sensors

This is a great tool, especially with children. What has become common in many commercial offices is now available in your home. The Department of Energy claims that you can save up to 30% off your home’s electricity use with an occupancy sensor.

What is an occupancy sensor? It replaces the lighting switch in a room and is activated by a motion detector. The light goes on when you enter the room and turns off when you leave.

When I was a kid, my parents used to charge us $5.00 a piece if we left the light on when we were not in the room. The electricity bill was large as there were 6 of us. This was a financial incentive to turn off the lights that I remember to this day – wish that the occupancy sensors were available then!

 

Tip # 2 – Electronics

The average home owns 24 consumer electronics that utilize about 12% of the household energy consumption. Homes can benefit from utilizing smart power strips.

Many electronic devices continue to use power even when turned off, but it is highly impractical to unplug all devices when not in use. The best way to save electricity consumption on your bills and to protect your electronics from the effects of storm surges are with electronic power strips.

 

Activate Sleep Mode on Your Equipment

Along with the use of a power strip, make sure that you utilize sleep mode on your printer and computer when you are not using them or turning them off. Before purchasing, look at the manufacturer’s instructions to make sure this feature is available.

 

Tip # 3 – Appliances

Many clients look at the appliances from an economic standpoint: If it ain’t broke then don’t fix it. Appliances do have a timeline on efficiency as the newer models of refrigerators, dishwashers and stoves are continually being updated.

Client Experience: A client saw a condo and fell in love with it including the appliances which were 15 years old and in perfect working order. Six months after her purchase, she replaced the refrigerator and dishwasher. From these two replacements, she saw a drop in her monthly electric bill by 40%. Of course, that is not guaranteed for all appliance replacements, but what this example demonstrates is the cost of one or all new appliances can significantly reduce your electricity bill. Plus, newer appliances can increase your homes’ value when ready to sell.

When shopping for new appliances, look for ones with the Energy Star Label, which is designated by the US Environmental Protection Agency to help people save money and protect the environment.

 

Tip # 4 – Heating and Air Conditioning

Heating

  • Look at the age of the water heater. Check out energystar.gov for the latest models for solar, tankless and the highest energy star rated heating/boiler units on the market today.

Air Conditioning

  • Look at the age of the system. Consider changing unit if it is at least 12 years old.
  • Change the filter monthly. This can save you anywhere between 5 to 15%. Letting the dirt build up on the filter can wreak havoc on the system or worse if there is no filter at all on the unit because it was not replaced. If the owners are renting the unit, put required monthly filter changes into the lease.
  • When doing inspections and before closing, make sure that the filters are in place and clean. Many owners who are not residing in the unit fail to maintain the filters.
  • Have annual inspections to make sure everything is working efficiently. Don’t wait until something goes wrong.

Programmable Thermostat

This is one of my favorite items. If you purchase a smart thermostat, then you can monitor the temperature of your home with your mobile phone while you are home or away.

Making this simple change from a manual to a programmable thermostat offers many benefits. Having a consistent temperature at all times in your home can make a big difference to your wallet and your comfort when at home and away.

This helps when you also have people at home that like to change the thermostat frequently as you can monitor it at all times and teach them how to keep it comfortable and efficient.

Make sure the programmable thermostat you purchase is compatible with your HVAC system. If you are not sure, please contact a professional.

 

Tip # 5 – Clean and Safe Water

Most tap and well water in the United States contains a fair amount of contamination from industrial and environmental pollution. On top of that, many homeowner communities are adding fluoride and chlorine to their systems in addition to what the municipalities are placing in the water to disinfect it.

In one community in Florida, they put notices out that to the residents when the water is being treated. When you turn on the shower, you can smell the tremendous amount of chlorine, as if you are in a swimming pool. After a few days, the smell starts to dissipate, yet what are the potential long-term effects?

Many homeowners are ok with using the water filter in their refrigerator or buying bottled water for drinking use. Over the long term for both health and sustainability reasons, check into a whole house water filtration system.

The benefits of a whole house filtration system can be a great option for multiple reasons:

  • Clean, safe filtered water is now available from every water source in the house for all members of the household and your pets
  • Healthier showers & baths = softer hair and skin
  • Extended life of water-using appliances and household pipes
  • Softened water with scale-free showers and spotless glasses
  • Softer, brighter and longer-lasting clothing

 

Using this list as a guide and putting some or all of the above items into effect can help your clients when purchasing their home. It is also great for current homeowners and your past clients.

It puts money in their pocket now through the savings on their utility costs and later…when they sell their home.

 

Written for Form Simplicity by Janice Zaltman, a Realtor, LEED AP, Marketing Coach and Writer with more than 20 years of experience in the sales, marketing and media fields.

Are you taking advantage right now of every tax break that is legally available to you? Probably not. The genius, Albert Einstein, is attributed to  saying about taxes, “The hardest thing in the world to understand is income taxes.”

Are you trusting your tax advisor to provide you with all the tax saving benefits available to you? As experienced as many tax advisors are, most largely do a great job of recording the history that you give to them.  It is far more uncommon to find an accountant that provides you with insight about tax breaks that you are not already taking.

Let’s explore some Tax Saving strategies and benefits – recommendations to put you in the driver’s seat and potentially put more money in your pocket, legally.

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A real estate agent called complaining that he spoke with one of his buyers who wanted to see a property he found online. When the agent went to check the listing out, he was shocked. The commission stated was for $1.00. Being the professional that he was, he went to show the condo. He sent me a copy of the MLS sheet and lo and behold it was true. Then I contacted the listing agent thinking perhaps they were new and had made an error. Nope, she said, it was correct. The commission was one dollar.

 

Was this an isolated incident? No, the stories came pouring in from other agents. Another real estate agent showing buyers in a community where home prices start at $500,000 experienced something similar. The commission for the transaction broker was 3%. If you were a buyer’s agent, then the commission was only $1.

 

Now my curiosity was triggered to find out how many homes were for sale offering 1% or $1 commission. I searched multiple counties in one MLS in Florida, the results found 256 properties offering 1% commission with prices ranging from $25,000 to 12 million.  Two were offering $1.

 

As more and more real estate agents build teams with agents that specialize in working with buyers, this concept can be hurtful. The 1% is often split multiple ways. The commission could be split with the head of the team along with the brokerage. That coupled with franchise fees, transaction fees, errors and omissions insurance along with business expenses could have your commission end up being less than 50% of the 1%. Then when you subtract taxes, the net income gets even lower.  For many, this may not a profitable business model depending on the price of the home for sale.  1% of $50,000 is a lot different than 1% of 10M.

 

What Would You Do in This Situation?

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Remember the famous childhood rhyme, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never harm me?” Well, think again. In today’s digital age, words matter, and more importantly, what people are saying about you can make an impact on your business’ reputation.

 

What are people saying about you?

When was the last time you searched your name to see what came up? Take some time today to search your name on different browsers such as Google, Firefox, or Safari if you are a Mac user.

 

Why is knowing your business footprint important?

According to NAR statistics, 99% of Millennials search online websites compared to 90% of Boomers.  Whether you receive a large amount of your business from referrals or friends, rave reviews and testimonials can catapult you to the top. They can also create strength and value as to why clients should choose YOU.

 

A 2018 survey reveals how consumers search and what is important to them. Here are some key statistics from the survey:

  • 86% of consumers read reviews for local businesses (including 95% of people aged 18-34)
  • 91% of 18-34-year-old consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
  • 80% of 18-34-year-olds have written online reviews – compared to just 41% of consumers over 55

 

3 steps to getting testimonials with ease.

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At his moment in time, how many emails are in your inbox?  Today, one woman said 20,000 emails, and she just ignores most of them. 20,000 may sound extreme, yet many people have thousands of emails in their inbox.  We are talking about the number of total emails sitting there, not just the read ones.

An attorney I work with is completely up to date with all his emails.  His wife had only 22 emails in her inbox. That is a rarity.

As business people, and in our personal lives, the number of emails we get each day can be daunting. A disorganized inbox can hurt our business and productivity.

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We hear this over and over as professionals. The first offer is the best offer – especially when there are no other offers on the table. This viewpoint has withheld the test of time. What remains to be proven is whether this perception is the truth or a tale that we have all accepted as true.

 

Not Taking The First Offer Cost The Seller $10,000

Your listing becomes active in your market and a few days later, an offer is received. You, as the agent, are excited about presenting it to the seller after thoroughly reviewing it. “Wow, that was fast,” says the seller, “Why don’t we wait, since this came so quickly, and see if we get a higher offer from another buyer. Someone else will also want my home and be willing to pay more.” But does another offer come? Nope. When this property finally did sell, it was 3 months later. The offer was less, and the seller accepted it. She ended up netting $10,000 less than had she accepted the first offer. Ouch!

Sound familiar? Many sellers think that the Realtor just wants to sell the property fast and make their commission. But while that may be true of some, most Realtors have the sellers’ best interests at heart.

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When buyers are searching for properties online, photos and property descriptions are vital to gaining exposure and showings. The same is true when agents are searching for properties to show their clients. But should the descriptions for both audiences be the same?

The answer is no, because you are appealing to two different needs, with different perspectives when viewing the information.  Let’s review the best way to communicate with each audience.

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Our smartphone is our constant partner. It is always with us. Although there is no formal agreement, “till death do us part” is not an unrealistic relationship when it comes to our smartphone. We use it to connect with our clients, friends, family, leads and just about everyone. It’s our GPS. It’s our news outlet. It’s our even our source of entertainment. When we go to sleep, it is next to us on our nightstand or not too far away.

In today’s age, we spend an average of 3 hours and 35 minutes on our mobile devices daily, and that number is growing.  We check it on average 47x per day.

As Realtors, we are in the communication, marketing and high-tech business. And when it comes to our business, our smartphone is our primary device for communication. (Many believe that we must be available for an immediate response when requested or suffer the loss of a client.) But as great as our smartphone is, it also has drawbacks. Technology addiction—a compulsive relationship with our mobile devices, social media and the internet—is one of the biggest threats to our health and relationships. And this addiction is not relegated to one age group.

What can you do to liberate yourself from your smartphone and still be considered accessible, professional and a top performer? Good news! Here are 6 steps you can take.  They work! Give them a try. Think of it as falling in love again with your life and creating an outstanding new year, beginning now. Continue reading