Setting Up Your Real Estate Investing Business – The Business Setup Checklist

Since I get over 1,000 real estate investors coming to my various real estate investor websites and registering with me each week, as you might expect, I get quite a few people asking me how to get started investing in real estate.

When my business was smaller and I was just running my own real estate investing business and our local real estate investor group meetings, I used to sit down and meet with investors that asked me this question individually. We’d go to lunch at my favorite burrito place and I’d ask them many questions.

I’d want to know about why they wanted to invest in real estate, what they expected to get from it, how they thought they’d be making money as a real estate investor, how much time and money they planned to invest in themselves and their real estate investing business, what their business and investing experiences had been so far, and so on and so forth. After a couple dozen of these meetings though, I noticed a pattern in what I suggested to each of them (and yes, it really took that many meetings for me to notice this pattern): I suggested that each one of them get started wholesaling real estate.

After I told them that they should wholesale real estate first, I’d then run down–very haphazardly–a list of the things they needed to do to get started in their real estate investing business. A few years have passed since those first meetings and the first time that I made a quick list of how to get set up investing in real estate. Over the years, I’ve had quite a few people get started in the business based on those meetings with me. So, in this article, I’d like to share with you my Business Setup Checklist for Real Estate Investors.

In the Business Setup Checklist, I am not going to have you spend tons of money at first to lease an office, purchase expensive computer equipment and otherwise commit to lots of expenses with no proven income from your business. Instead, I will share with you what I believe to be the most important things to do and to purchase to get started in your own real estate investing business.

First, I believe you need to take time to sit down and decide where you are going. Stephen Covey says, and I agree, that you should “Begin With The End In Mind.” It is much easier to accomplish a goal if you know what you are trying to accomplish. Please, do yourself a favor, and don’t skip this critically important step.

Second, setup, or at least figure out, the minimum telephone communication system you will be using. Many times, it will be using your cell phone (and changing the message from something unprofessional to something more business-like). Of course, there is a wide range of telephone services you can setup. Start very basic, spend very little and expand as revenue increases.

Next, I am a big believer in using 24 hour recorded information lines in my marketing and so I do recommend paying the money to get this set up. With these, you can spend less on marketing and then have people call in to get more information about buying, selling, renting or private money before talking directly to you. You’ll be tempted to bypass this step and use regular voice mail (remember I’ve helped lots of other people get started investing in real estate) and that would be a mistake.

The next step is the MOST IMPORTANT step of all: get your marketing and get it out. Nothing happens until you start talking to motivated sellers in this business, so you need to get them to call you (or start calling them). So, take some time to figure out your basic marketing. Depending on your budget, you may also consider getting a website and bandit signs at this point as well. If you are on a tight budget, use the free website route and skip the bandit signs until later.

Once you have your marketing and are starting to get it out, you should then be getting organized and ready for seller calls. Make your Seller Presentation and Credibility Pack. Setup your office files to track income and expenses, marketing files and property files. Also, make sure you have the files and forms you need stored in your car. You never know when you might need to write up a contract and better to have them with you in your car at all times, then to miss out on a deal.

And finally, set up your business entity. The reason I recommend this last is because most people will stall on this step and unless you have assets to protect, it is a mistake to get hung up on it to begin with. If you have significant assets to protect, you should meet with your personal attorney at the start of any new business to get personalized, professional advice relating to your unique situation.

5 Ways to Sell Your Real Estate Listing Properties Without Spending a Dime

Selling does not always mean making a sale. You sometimes have to sell yourself, your quality, your brand, or your trust. The way you treat an individual can go a long way. Embedding your company logo into the heads of your clients will grow your business. Having a honest and trustworthy presence will allow clients to do business with you. There are many ways to sell real estate properties which don’t involve making a direct sale.

The below tips are common ways to sell real estate properties without making a direct sale, these are the actions which commonly lead to a sale. Let’s go over the ways to sell real estate properties without making a direct sale:

  1. Personality. Personality is a great business tool. It makes you personable, approachable, and the right personality can charm anyone. Unfortunately, personality is rarely a characteristic which a person can develop or imitate, it is something a person is born with. However, most people have a personality, they just need a little help getting it to shine through. I have some tips for getting your personality to shine through.
    • Practice makes perfect, so attend social events and conferences to network with others. Continue this routinely until social atmospheres become a comfort zone for you
    • Always, smile inside. If you smile inside then it will appear you are always smiling outside. Think happy thoughts!
    • When speaking face to face look a person in the eyes, without it being an uncomfortable stare. Stand still if you are one on one with someone, but if you are in a full room or crowded conference center then use slide presentations and move from one side of the room to the other while projecting your voice and connecting with all sides of the room.
    • When talking over the phone, talk clear and pronounce your words. Take brief pauses and breathes between sentences and speak in a calm tone.
    • Don’t always be about real estate, unloosen your tie sometimes and talk about yourself, your hobbies, and your interest – show your personality.
    • Start a blog or newsletter which allows you to express your personality while promoting your real estate business
  2. Use Signatures. Placing your real estate property listing in your email signature can generate traffic for your listing. You should also place your real estate property listing in the signature of online forums and discussion boards, thus increasing the visibility of your real estate listing.
  3. Free Classifieds & Online Directories. There are an unlimited amount of free classified services and online directories. The most popular online classified service is Craigslist.org. Having a real estate property listing in Craigslist is known to yield results and deliver high traffic.
  4. Social Media & Bookmarking Networks. Social media and bookmarking networks are increasingly popular. These networks can deliver high levels of traffic, especially if you become popular and sociable within these type of networks. Submit your real estate listing to these networks. It is most beneficial to find social networks which are edicated specifically to real estate, such as Active Rain Real Estate Networks.
  5. Organic Referrals. Referrals are very important, because this comes as a trusted body of resource. Referrals increase the chances of a sale. If a homeowner has done business with you in the past and you have a new listing for sale, then you should send an email to your past clients to inform them of your new listing and to please refer you to any of their family or friends that may be in the market for a new home. Most homeowners no someone in the market for a new home and are more than happy to recommend a real estate agent who they have had a pleasant experience with.

The above are great places to start for promoting your real estate listings without ever spending a dime. Penny pinching and only free advertising should never be your core business model, but in many cases it is unavoidable and every business goes through times when they need to save, so using the tips above should help you get the most out of your free marketing campaign.

Real Estate Property Investing – Some Information For Prospective Buyers

Buying real estate property for investment in the U.K. isn’t as hard as you might think. Once you understand the basics of real estate investment, the process is straightforward. What is buy to let property? Simply put, it’s a real estate property that a real estate investor purchases with the intent of renting it out to either businesses or private citizens. In this article, we’ll present a few simple tips for those who are considering buy-to-let investment.

Do Your Homework First

Before you buy real estate for investment, you should thoroughly research the current market. If possible, try to find other people, either in your area or on the Internet who have experience in this type of investment. Seek their advice for real estate investing and consider it well. Also, check online and in bookstores for guides on the subject. You should be well aware of the disadvantages as well as of the advantages before you look at any buy to let property that’s offered for sale.

The Importance of Location

Next, choose a location. A successful real estate investor knows the hottest locations as well as those to avoid. You need to consider your market here. For example, if you want to rent to families, be sure to find real estate properties in neighborhoods with schools nearby. Urban families are also likely to need close access to public transportation. If you’re aiming for younger tenants, a neighborhood with trendy shops and proximity to nightclubs and other entertainment venues is ideal.

Don’t Underestimate the Competition

You should also consider whom you’ll be competing with when you buy investment property. Check out real estate prices on web sites like “Primelocation” or “Rightmove” to see what other investors are buying and what they’re charging their tenants. A property listing on these sites will also help you determine how long it will take to rent a property in a specific area.

Crunch the Numbers

Once you’ve determined the area, financial analysis is the next step in property investing. For example, you’ll need to determine whether your rental income will cover the mortgage payments. Also, note that mortgage lenders will likely require a deposit of between 15% and 30% of the property’s market value. Once you’re the owner of the property, it’s important to set aside some funds to cover any emergencies that might occur, such a having to make significant repairs to one of the property’s mechanical systems, like plumbing.

Invest for the Long Term

While working out the finances, be sure to ask yourself some tough questions, like “How long can I afford to pay the mortgage if for some reason the property isn’t rented for several months?” If your answer is less than 2 months, you probably aren’t ready to invest in rental property. A final piece of advice is that you should have reasonable expectations. Very few investors can “make a killing” by flipping houses. Remember that you’re in for the long term and that over time a well-chosen real estate property in the U.K. is highly likely to increase in value.

Real Estate Contracts Determine the Success Or Failure of Your Real Estate Business

Let me first state that I am not an attorney and nothing I write or say should be considered legal advice. Please contact an attorney before making any legal decisions.

When doing any type of real estate investment deal it is critical that you have quality real estate contracts. Whether you are investing in foreclosures, buying out of bankruptcy or any of the other dozens of real estate investment strategies, quality real estate contracts play an important role in your success.

Quality real estate contracts will help to ensure that you, the real estate investor, are fully protected within the confines of the law. You want real estate contracts that will protect yourself and your business to the highest degree whether you are the buyer or the seller.

If you are the buyer you want to use real estate contracts that will allow you to easily walk away from the deal if necessary while at the same time offer the stiffest penalties if your seller should decide to walk away. And the converse is true when you are the seller.

There are certain real estate contract clauses which will allow you to do this when used correctly. You can use inspection clauses, mortgage contingency clauses, appraisal clauses, default clauses…the list can go on and on. The important thing to remember when using these clauses is that you use them correctly.

You need to make sure that your “Defined Terms” are congruent throughout your real estate contracts.

You need to make sure that the contracts that you use do not conflict.

The real estate contracts that you use will directly effect the success or failure of your real estate business because they can either protect you from lawsuit or leave you open to folks who would rather sue you to get rich than work hard themselves…not to mention that your real estate contracts can determine the success or failure on a deal to deal basis.

I would recommend that you use contracts that come from one source because real estate contracts that come from one source can help to eliminate the problems above and much more.

Whether you get your contracts from your attorney, a book, a guru, or a program such as the REIFormsGenerator it is important that they come from one source and you always have your real estate contracts reviewed by an attorney in your investment state.

Real Estate Investment – Top Strategies Real Estate Investors Use to Turbocharge Their Businesses

Have you ever wondered why some real estate investors seem to make it all look so easy? We have all heard the stories about how one investor made over $100,000 in a week by flipping a house. Or maybe about how another one bought a multimillion dollar apartment complex and walked away with cash at closing.

So how do these people do it? And is it something the average person off the street can learn to do? Well, those are some of the same questions I had when I first started in the business. So I spent months of research and tens of thousands of dollars to learn what strategies these successful people use that the rest of us do not. What follows is a brief summary of what I learned. Some may surprise you, others may not. However, I found these to be common words of wisdom from every successful investor.

1. Real Estate Investing is a Business, Not a Hobby

Every successful real estate investor I know operates their endeavors strictly as a business, even if it’s just a part-time thing. This means setting up a Corporation, S-Corp, Limited Liability Company, Limited Partnership, General Partnership, or typically some combination of these entities. Notice I didn’t mention Sole-proprietor? Talk to a knowledgeable real estate attorney in you area for a better idea of which ones are right for you and your goals. Not only will the right entities protect you and your ASSets, but will allow you to take advantage of certain tax advantages you would otherwise not have. If you stop reading here and take no other advice from me please, please do this one.

2. Build A Team of Experts

Few, if any, business owners succeed without a team of experts to guide them. These people can save you a tremendous amount of time and money and possibly even legal problems. Your business team should consist of a good real estate attorney who understands the state laws and an accountant. I recommend finding an accountant who is also a real estate investor if possible.

You should also have a realtor in each area you are considering investing in, an appraiser, a home inspector, an escrow company, a mortgage broker, other investors, a general contractor, and an insurance agent. There are other specialist would should also consider for special cases such as an architect, a surveyor, environmental company, etc.

3. Have a Plan

Develop a business plan for your real estate investing venture even if you are not new to it. After all, this is a business and few really reach their potential without a good plan. I promise you, spending a few hours putting it down on paper will be well worth it. And it’s always good to revisit your plan often to keep you on target.

4. Network, Network, Network

Real estate is people business. If you haven’t done so already, get good at smoozing. Now I don’t mean the used car salesman type where you do all the fast talking. Join your local real estate investment club, become a member of a church if you aren’t already, volunteer with Habitat For Humanity, just get involved! Get to understand what the seller’s or buyer’s needs are. This means listening! Get to know what other investors are looking for and who the local “players” are. You may be able to do a partnership on a deal or refer them to a deal that may not be exactly what you’re looking for. Above all, treat everyone you meet with respect whether they’re your team, sellers, or buyers and they will respect you. If you do these things, more deals will come your way than you can possibly handle. I can think of a lot worse problems to have!

5. Know Your Market

Spend some time getting to know the areas where you plan to invest. Go to some open houses and talk to the agents. Drive the neighborhood and look for the “For Sale By Owner” signs otherwise known as FSBOs. Look for homes that appear vacant or in disrepair. Learn how much homes go for in the area and what the local trends are. Talk to some the local residents and learn what the community is like. Is there crime in the area, how good are the schools, is the area growing, what are the local demographics? This information will serve you well when it comes time to invest.

6. Never Buy A Property Without At Least One Solid Exit Strategy

In real estate, you make your money when you buy, not when you sell. So what am I trying to say here? For each offer you make, you should know exactly how you are going to make your money from it. It could be as a rental for which you should have a positive monthly cash flow. It could be as a rehab and flip for a profit. Or maybe you may offer it as a lease with an option to buy. Or, it could be hold for the equity growth. Run your numbers for each strategy. If the numbers don’t work, don’t do the deal no matter how much you like the property!

7. Treat Your Agents Like Gold

Real estate agents can make or break your business and a good one is worth their weight in gold. They will do much of the legwork for you and bring you potential deals. They know their areas inside and out and can steer you away from potential problems. They will even find you buyers for your properties as well as show it while you are out looking for more deals. And, they work only for commissions based on the sales price of properties that sell.

However, most real estate investors don’t buy and sometimes don’t sell property at full market prices. This could directly affect your agent’s commission and their motivation to support what you want can diminish. I suggest paying your agents commissions based on market price regardless of the ultimate sales price. Yes, it may impact your profits some but you’ll have a very loyal agent. And guess who gets the first phone call when hot property comes up!

8. Don’t Be A Hog

The old saying goes, “Pigs get fat, and hogs get slaughtered.” The saying holds true in real estate investing as well. Many new investors make the mistake of trying to squeeze out the maximum profit out of every deal and then wonder why they can’t find any buyers. Don’t be afraid to leave something on the table for the next guy, especially if you’re selling to other investors. It’s better to make a lot of smaller profits over and over than it is to make one big profit. This strategy should have potential buyers lining up at your door when you have a property to sell.

9. Give Away 10-15% of Everything You Make

I can hear you now, “He said what?!” That’s right, give away 10-15% of everything you make. How you decide to do it is up to you, but I warn you, you may have to get creative. Steve, a mentor of mine follows this rule like a religion. In fact, on his very first deal he made about $5,000 which he need desperately, since he had recently lost his job. He was nearly bankrupt but still decided to give away some of his profits. He decided to buy his pastor a new suit, something he had never had in his life. Even though Steve was excited about making the money, the look on his pastor’s face when he wore it for the first time made him feel ten times better. By the way, word got around very quickly and before you know it, he had three more deals in the works that profited much, much more.

10. Offers, Offers, Offers!

You’ll never make any money if you don’t first start with an offer. But for some reason, this seems to be the biggest hurdle for most new investors. I like to use the “Fire, Aim, Ready” approach to making an offer. Don’t spend a lot of time trying to figure out what the perfect offer will be, just make one. Most of my offers are made without ever having seen the property. Remember, if the first offer doesn’t embarrass you, it’s too high. I know of a very successful real estate investor in the Tampa area who once offered $1 for a $14 million golf course! Okay, so he eventually bought it for a little over $2 million and the resold it a couple of weeks later for a tiddy profit. It’s only after you have the property under contract that you should spend the time to determine if the price is right or not. Most successful investors will make 25 or more offers a week of which maybe only two or three may eventually end being accepted. Of those, maybe one will make it to closing. But let’s see, one deal a week, $5-10,000 profit each….you get the picture.

11. Have Fun

Like any business, real estate investing has its challenges. Sometimes deals fall through at the last minute, renters can be a real pain, or you find out about the sewer line collapsing at one of your properties that needs $15,000 in unexpected expenses to fix it. There will always be obstacles to overcome but the rewards can be well worth it. So have fun with it! If you truly enjoy it, it will show on you and suddenly the problems don’t seem like such a big deal anymore.

There are many more tricks to the trade depending upon which niche you decide to invest in. But the basics are the same across the board. Apply these secrets and you too can become the next multimillionaire.

With the Current Stock and Credit Market Crises, Investment in Real Estate Will Make Even More Sense

With the current financial crisis pervading stock markets in the global economy, real estate once again should be looked at as a serious, long-term investment strategy that can help investors further diversify their investment portfolios in the future. The reality is that the current stock market malaise that has decimated so many long-standing financial institutions and subsequently stock investments and 401Ks is not the only major stock market troubles we have seen in recent times. Arguably, there have been as many as three “bubbles.”

The dot-com bubble and decline of the stock market helped push investors into other markets where money was cheap and regulations loose. Because of lax oversight and inaction, the housing bubble was allowed to form. The oil market represents a bubble to many as the cost of a barrel of Brent crude went from $100 per barrel in February 2008, to a high of $145 per barrel by July 2008. Brent crude is now trading under $60 per barrel.

Going forward, there are two very real concerns for investors. First, many may be looking at the performance of stock investments over the past eight years and calculating what their true return from those investments has been. Second, many will be asking if their investments can sustain another severe market imbalance in the future. In effect, they are wondering as to where the ‘Fourth Bubble” will come from.

All of this gives credence again to having an even broader diversification of investment portfolios. As a result, real estate should once again be seriously looked at as part of an investor’s diversification strategy for several reasons.

  • First, property valuations have fallen considerably from market highs. Prices in some markets have dipped to 2004 levels. In some instances, prices have dipped to 2003 levels.
  • Second, real estate has intrinsic value. Unlike stocks and financial-related investments that can see depreciation in their worth down to zero, real estate has inherent value down to the land and will not experience a wholesale collapse in its value to zero.
  • Third, real estate is real. It can be seen and touched, and managed closely by the owner.
  • Fourth, real estate has certain tax benefits that can contribute to the overall performance of the property as an investment.
  • Fifth, a successful rental property as an investment presents an opportunity to create a revenue stream and/or create equity in the home as the renter indirectly is contributing to payment of the principal over time. Regardless of the market and whether appreciation or positive-cash flow rental income is preferred by the investor, the principal is being paid down on the property.
  • Lastly, based on proposals floated by President-elect Obama, we should expect additional legislation that puts guidelines, regulations and accountability in this industry that ensures proper lending practices and reduces the risk for rampant speculation that has battered the markets in recent times.

Of course, there are certainly risks to holding real estate as an investment in your portfolio. For instance, there may be unexpected property repairs, assessments, or other extraordinary costs that the investor has to incur. So, an investor has to look at real estate also as a business with income and regular and extraordinary expenses.

For those investors that are looking for a simpler way to be diversify without the additional headache, a REIT may be a logical avenue to investigate. A Real Estate Investment Trust is a company that invests in income-generating properties to drive returns for its investors. The income-generating properties may be apartment buildings, industrial and commercial properties. REITs allow smaller investors the ability to invest in larger real estate operations that they wouldn’t be able to otherwise. REITs also should be able to show their overall historical performance to investors.

Again, investors are faced with the question of how to protect and grow their assets in the future. The stock market’s high level of volatility in recent years has many investors questioning the percentage concentration of their portfolios in stocks and similar investments. As a result, the pressure to further diversify those portfolios will mean that other asset categories will have increasingly greater appeal and should be considered for investment.

Overall, real estate presents a great opportunity once again for the long-term investor as outlined above. In addition, the incoming administration has put forth numerous proposals to improve transparency, implement sound business and ethical practices to the industry with the singular purpose to eliminate the probability of a similar crisis ever occurring in the future. All of this will work to give investors options once again for a safer, more consistent and calculable return in the coming years.