Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Top Ten Real Estate Stories in 2008

Well that is certainly a mouthful. I have researched what would be considered the top ten real estate stories for 2008. I am sure that David Letterman would have a funnier and different list, but you have to start some where. After reading this list vote on what you think would be "The Story in 2008" in real estate. We look back at these stories not to relive the heartache and pain (though there was plenty of that) but to remind us of where we have been and to help us not make the same mistakes in the future. As I read the stories it focused my attention on the mistakes I have made in 2008 and what I will to differently in 2009 to correct my mistakes.

The Top Ten Real Estate Stories in 2008:
10. Houses are affordable again
9. Loan Modifications
8. Real Estate Related Companies Close Their Doors
7. Median Price of Homes Continue to Decline
6. Fed Lowers Discount Rate to Zero
5. The Rise of Short Sales
4. Foreclosures Go Through The Roof
3. Major Bank Failures and Mergers
2. Back to Basics Mortgage

The number 1 story in 2008

1. $700 Billion-Dollar Bailout

Well there is my opinion - what's yours? Please vote for the top story and leave a comment.

In the meantime, Jeff and I wish all of you and your family a very safe and Happy New Year.

See ya in 2009,

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Real Estate and a Christmas Wish

As I prepare for Christmas with my Family, I want to extend a very Merry Christmas to all the people who have help Jeff and I grow our business. Our private lenders who provide the money so we can buy the houses we need; the sellers who give us the opportunity to help them in their time of need; and buyers who some times need help most of all. Thank-you to our real estate agents who continuously bring us properties to evaluate and buy and who help us sell them afterward; to our House Finders who go out into the community to find properties for us; the contractors who repair and fix our properties to resell or lease, it is their quick and efficient work that helps in these tough time; our property inspectors and appraisers who help to keep us on track with our values and repairs. Our mentors, coaches and trainers who have been there to answer all our dumb questions and to cheer us on when we needed it. A hearty thank-you to all our vendors - Virtual assistants, and our virtual marketing team we depend on you to grow.

But most of all, Jeff and I want to thank our wives and children who put up with us as we study all through the night or are gone at all hours to evaluate properties, as we travel about the country meeting with other real estate investors and discussing ideas for a challenging time. It is truly their love and support that keeps this business humming.

So from our family, at JM2 Investment Properties LLC, to all of yours thank-you and have a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. 2009 looks to be a fantastic year and we want you to be a part of it.

See Ya,

Monday, December 22, 2008

Where's the beef?

Reading the paper last week I was reminded of the old Wendy's commercial with the old woman yelling "Where's the beef". After the Fed lowered the interest rate, I began to wonder wheres the money. The banks have money from the Government in the form of the bail out; they have lower interest rate to borrow from the Fed and none of it seems to be filtering down to us. I do not buy property with bank financing. You have to jump through too many hops to get the financing not to mention the stellar credit report you need to qualify. Timing is also a problem. We move pretty quickly on property and we do not need a last minute problem that does seem to come up delaying our closing.

But bank financing is and will be critical to the recovery that is coming. People need access (keyword is access) to money at a reasonable rate. We certainly have the reasonable rates. Now we just need the banks to loan money to good qualified people to get the economy. That will happen when more people starting looking at their own situation and realize that they job is safe and they start to spend money again. One thing I know is true, if you have 6.5% unemployment that means 93.5% are gainful employed.

See Ya,

Thursday, December 18, 2008

WOW!! Thats alot of money

I was reading some articles online and ran across one on CNN/Moneys website with the title "U.S. homes lose $2 trillion in value in '08". Wow that is a lot of money and the article goes on to say that there is no end in sight. (Here is the URL to read it yourself http://money.cnn.com/2008/12/15/real_estate/underwater_borrowers_near_12million/index.htm ). I began to wonder how much is $2 trillion dollars. It is a massive number, $2,000,000,000,000.00; it 1 million multiplied by 1 million.

The current population of the US is 305,000,000.
We could give every man, woman and child $6557 each.
A US quarter weights 2 oz - 8 trillion quarters weights 1,000,000,000,000 lbs.
1 dollar bill is .oo43 inches thick, 2 trillion dollar bills stacked is 134,000 miles high.

Those are amazing numbers. So remember these figures as you read about the housing crisis and what we lost collective as US homeowners. This relates to a long road to recovery. We (Jeff and I) went through something like this in the middle of 1990 (in California) where home values fell by 40% and it took 11 years to recover their value and that was a mild recession. This recession is so different from the last one with all the financial elements that I expect the recovery to take longer. We as investors and homeowners need to be looking for the long term. We have already adjusted our model.

We no longer look to sell a house to a retail buyer unless we can discount the price to 50 - 60%. The market changes so quickly with the foreclosures down the street that we need that much cushion in the deal. We are working our deals so we can provide owner financing and rent to own deals. We find buyers if we make it easier for them to buy. That is our model whether we are buying REOs from banks or properties from sellers directly. We need to buy and sell creatively with seller financing or private money. So look at your model for buying and selling and change your focus to holding for longer periods of time or deeper discount on sale price. Good luck.

See Ya,

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

How Can One Person Run A Real Estate Empire?

Systems and outsourcing. Real estate is a simple business. but it is not an easy business. It takes work - alot of work; to research the properties, make offers, track escrows, private money, signings & closings. That is only on the buying side. Once you determine your exit strategy you need systems for that as well. There are two ways to run your business. Yes, yes I know there are many but they are all off shoots or combination of these two ways, hiring staff and outsourcing.

The traditional way is hire the staff as you need them and grow your business. However as you grow your business and staff, your expenses grow. So you have to constantly track money spent and money earned. The other way is by using a Virtual Assistant (VA) to do the tasks you need done everyday (we will talk about VAs in future posts). With either way you need to develop systems and procedures or your staff or VA will constantly coming to you about decisions to be made or will make up there own system that is not aligned with your vision for the future. Our example is McDonald's. Here is a Multi-billion dollar company that is run by a lot of teenagers and a few managers. How they do it?..... with systems and procedures. Everything is laid out for the employee. All desicions have been made and only have to consult the procedure manual.

That is how you need to run you company. We have procedures for everything and we are constantly writing new ones as new questions come up. The idea is to have your company run without you so you can focus on the highest valued tasks that help your business to grow. Until your staff and VA know how you want your company to grow they will continue to ask you questions about tasks in your business.

So start today, write down one procedure of a task that you do everyday. Start your procedurial manual, Good Luck.

See Ya,

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Real Estate: How Can I Sell my house fast?

The eternal question. This is the question every investor and homeowner wants to know. I know because I want to know. Why am I asking? Because I am always looking for a way to sell faster. The current financial climate makes it imperative. No one wants to be paying on a property that is not bringing in income. With all the houses we have sold, there are only two sure fire ways to sell fast. You must stand out in a crowd. The way you do that is by price or terms.

Either your price on the property is less than any other property for sale or you provide an easier way for the buyer to buy your property. We try to buy better everyday and offer the best price to the buyer or we offer terms (Owner Financing or Rent to Own). Currently what is working for us is providing owner financing for buyers. This allows us to get a premium price for our houses to people who have a down payment and can make a monthly payment but cannot qualify for a bank loan (who could today?). This allows them to own a home and in a year or two they can refinance. There are buyers out there. They need help to get into a house. So look at the properties you have for sell and ask yourself how does my property stand out - either with price or terms, Good Luck.

See Ya,

Monday, December 15, 2008

Buying Real Estate in Today's World

With today's economic climate you need to buy better. That means buying lower. Why? Not only to make money, that is why we are doing this business, but because in my neck of the woods (Central Valley of California) prices continue to drop everyday. In fact the median price of a home in Stanislaus County fell 10% from October to November, one month. That is after a full year of price drops. That shows the extent of Foreclosure crisis in the Central Valley of California. I saw a article in the Central Valley Business Journal(December 2008) stated "...72% of closed escrows were bank-owned. The rest were short-sale properties and traditional sales." With that many bank-owned homes being sold each month, the price of those homes will continue to go down until all the property that banks own is gone. And banks are still foreclosing on property everyday.

So that tells us that we need to buy better and buy lower to keep pace with the drop in home prices. We are making a lot more offers for lower prices. We are getting a lot more "Nos" than ever before but it is a numbers game. We will continue to look for motivated sellers who need to sell to help them out of their situation. But if you are buying based on today's price you may be upside down by the time you close escrow because the bank owned property down the street cut the price to sell quickly. Plan your sale several months in advance and discount your price accordingly. Or you may be holding property longer than you plan.

Now the good news is that the property will most likely cash flow because the price is so much lower in California. This is a great time to be an investor looking for the long-term. In fact if you want to own rental property that has a positive cash flow call us, we have several properties that fit that description. We can show you how you can be making $200 - $500 per month positive cash flow right now. We can even help you manage it.

So go make offer for all the property you can; remember to have your private money ready and close as quickly as you can so you can rent it or resell it in as short a period of time as you can, Good Luck.

See Ya,

Friday, December 12, 2008

Buying Real Estate in today's World

If you are buying property today, whether you are a owner or an investor, with a bank you will have a harder time than last year. You know the reason for it. Just read any paper (didn't I tell you to stop reading the paper) and you will see it on the front page. The Worldwide financial crisis affects us here on Main Street, USA. Bank are tightening lending restrictions and are not making the same loans they did last year - actually that is a good thing since some of those loans is what got alot of people in trouble.

But that impacts your business and buying decisions. If you are an investor and have purchased property you have, I'm sure like me, probably used your own credit or money at one time or another. Yeah I know that is the completely wrong way to do it. But it is the quickest and easiest to buy property; provided you have the money and credit. Well there is another way and that is with private money.

I am sure you have heard of it. It is the rage in the real estate investing community. I receive at least three or four emails a day about it. How to get it, how to use it, who to talk to, & what do you do with it when you get it. There are many people, people you know, that are making 3 - 4% in a CD that could be making 8 - 12% on their money secured by real estate. You need to develop your program, make a list of people you know and start talking. This how we fund our realestate purchases. It allows us to get good terms when we buy and we can wrap the financing to help buyers get into a home that a bank may not fund. Not because they do not make enough money or do not have any down payment, but because they may have been late on a mortgage payment once in the last 12 months. So our private money program lets us grow our business while helping buyers and sellers. I will be talking about this topic every Friday for the next several weeks. It is a very important topic and you will need it to grow your business.

Now the legal side: You need to research the state and federals laws governing private lending before you talk to anyone about your program. Most states you only have to register your company and yourself other states require much more rigorous licensing. And don't forget the Federal government they have their own requirements. But it is worth the trouble.

See Ya,

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Biggest Real Estate Challenges

Wow I lost a week. Why, because of fear. I, just like everyone else in this country, read the paper everyday. I am going to stop that. It just depresses you. Because while you are reading the paper your mind is being programmed in how terrible the world economy is right now. Yes it is true. But by reading it over and over and watching the TV news (I do not watch the news) you will mentally give up. The problems are so bad how can we ever get out of the hole we are in. I will tell you how.... ready....Don't focus on the problem - focus on the solutions. Now I can not solve the world's let a lone the country's problems but I can focus on solutions for my challenges (problems).

I want to focus on the solutions to those problems everyday. With that focus, I create an action plan for the day to implement those solutions. This keeps you moving on the solution and not on the challenges to it. There are so many challenges to this real estate business that it can be over whelming. So work on what you can do in a day. Not a To Do List but an action plan.

I forgot last week and got wrapped up in problems with two houses we are buying. We are trying to close on them and I was still looking for my private money. That is a very stressful time when your funding falls through. People change their mind about lending and you have to deal with it. It is nobody's fault it happens. I was worrying about the problem of no money to close the deal instead of focusing on the solution; which is talk to more people about private money. That focus help me create an action plan that I implemented everyday and in a couple of days we have the money to close on the deals in the coming week.

What is your challenge right now? What is the solution to the challenge? What steps do you need to do today to implement that solution.

See Ya,

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Real Estate systems

One way to over come your challenges is to systematize the cause of the challenges. As you begin to buy properties you will run into challenges. How is title going to be held; who is your private money lender; what is their address; when will escrow close; who is going to do the property inspection. The challenges pile up. The system comes in when you begin to answer these challenges. You should only have to think about them once. After which create a procedure so you can hand it off to someone else to do. You want to create a procedure for everything. That is how McDonald's does it and those procedures help turn it into the largest real estate holding company in the world. You thought they served hamburger? The individual store owners sell the burgers while McDonald's owes the land underneath the McDonald's.

So start your procedures from the first decision you make. You should have a buying & selling system; a marketing system; rental system; private money system; researching leads system; direct mail campaign system. You want to have a system anyone can come in and do with having to ask you everything first. You will be amazed how big your procedural book will be that defines your business and system. Take it one step or decision at a time.

See Ya,

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Biggest Challenge in Making Money in Real Estate

Yesterday I told you that the biggest challenge to making money in real estate was yourself. That is an absolute fact. Let me explain by example - unfortunately our example. BTW that is a common theme in real estate investing is learning by your own example. That is why I started this Blog to help you avoid those examples.

Anyway we purchased a property in a town not far from us. We negotiated a great deal with the seller. They were looking to move quickly and were willing to provide seller financing. We closed quickly so they could move to their new apartment. This was our very first deal and we did not want anything to mess it up. We waited on pins and needles while all the paperwork was done and the seller's questions were answered. It moved so quickly that we did not get a property inspection prior to closing.

Big mistake, not one that sinks the ship but we did leave several thousand dollars on the table. The inspection was done and it noted that there had been a fire in the kitchen area. The work had been repaired and done correctly but up above the ceiling it was charred. The electrical panel was under a recall. The wiring in the kitchen was not correct and the garbage disposal was shorting out. All told the repairs were an additional $3500.00. That is money that could have paid for marketing, or other repairs or to ourselves - we do want to make money in this endeavor.

So read and learn, during the escrow period always get a property inspection and appraisal. If the numbers do not match what you thought then renegotiate the deal. You have to be willing to walk away from it. That was our mistake, we did not want to walk away from our first deal and it cost us.

See Ya,
Mike Smith

Monday, December 1, 2008

Can you make money in Real Estate?

Post Thanksgiving rush is gone along with most of the leftovers and now it is back to work. With all the changes that are happening in the market today we get asked the same question over and over: Can you make money in this Real Estate market? I know it doesn't match the title but close enough. The answer is yes!! But there is a lot of work behind that yes.

What I mean by that is real estate is easy but it's not simple. There are many challenges that the market will throw at you but the biggest challenge will be yourself. Everyday a new problem needing a solution will pop up. You have to be resilient. You can not let the market or the bank or your partner or any of a number of things get you down. Because you will take your eyes off the prize and you will get lost and distracted. It is easy to focus on the negative around you. There is a lot of negative. You have to fight for your big why.

Your Big Why is why are you doing this business. That is what will motivate you to continue working when it seems the whole world is against. Focusing on your Big Why can carry through the low periods. It will help you to look up at all that you have achieved. Because the answer to making more in real estate starts with yourself.

Tomorrow I will outline how we keep our focus and what is our Big Why.

See Ya,