House Flip For Profit – 7 Tips For House Flipping Success in Any Market

1. Get Prepared – Now that you have decide to start flipping houses for profit it’s time to get your goals and expectations set correctly in your mind. Figure out how much cash you have available for this investment. Make sure that you have enough money to cover a twenty percent down payment, the remodel of the home, and enough cash on hand to cover the monthly mortgage payment until the property is. I know it sounds overwhelming, but I will show you how to reduce the up-front cash and the funds for the remodel. It always make sense to write down your plan. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, it just has to make sense to you. You can’t possibly know where you are going without a map to navigate by.

2. Identify a good property to flip – Now that you have some idea of your direction, it’s time to consider the type of property that would make a good flip. Figure out if you want to buy a single family home that needs work, or a multi-family home where your intention could be a condo conversion. For our purposes here, we’ll discuss the single family house flip. If you don’t have access to the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) in your area, find a reputable real estate agent who could provide you with access to the MLS. It is wise to have a buyers agent because it’s doesn’t cost you any money. The buyers agent is compensated by the listing broker’s agency. Once you have access to the MLS, you can start searching for properties. I like to search by zip codes in areas that I know to have desirable neighborhoods. In a down market, such as the one we are in now, there are plenty of rundown homes that happen to be in great neighborhoods. Those are the homes that will always sell first. You should focus on bank owned, short sale and foreclosed homes that are on the market. Keep in mind that it doesn’t matter how much the seller is asking for the home, what matters is if the project makes sense. I typically figure out the price I will pay for a home after I figure out the amount of work that needs to be done and how much I can sell it for. Remember, the market tells you what a home will sell for, not a price tag.

3. Inspection and Property Analysis – Before you can make an educated offer, you must know two things. First you must know how much it will cost to bring the house to it’s highest and best condition. You need to appeal to the type of buyer that is most likely to purchase the home. You should have a trusted contractor meet you at the house so they can give you an idea of the costs involved. Now add 20% just to be allow for unexpected costs. Once you know your cost you should consult with your real estate agent to determine what similar homes have sold for and look at the homes you will be competing with. Now that you have a good idea of the future selling price and the cost of the construction, you can now use basic math to add the cost to the purchase price and then subtract that answer from the estimated future sales price to determine if there is a enough profit margin for this house flip to make sense for you. Tip: Don’t forget to add sales commission to your cost if you plan on using a real estate agent.

4. If the Numbers Work, Get Financed ! – Once you know that there is enough profit after your acquisition cost, remodel estimate and sales cost. You now know the most that you should pay for the home. Before you make an offer, you must get your financing in place. This is my area of expertise since I have been a mortgage broker for several years. There have been many changes in the mortgage industry since mid 2006. Money is a little tougher to get, but it is still available with a down payment and decent credit history. Guidelines are always changing, but right now at the end of 2008, a minimum of 20% down payment is required to purchase investment property and the borrower must show income and assets to qualify. If after the 20% down, remodel money and cash to cover the monthly payments, you do not have much money left, you should consider a partner for the deal. You may not be a fan of long term partnerships, but when you are flipping property, you would be looking at a 4-6 month partnership, not a lifetime. If that works out you could always buy more property to flip in the future. It also helps split the risk and the tasks. Just make sure your expectations are set properly. If going the partner route I suggest opening a joint bank and funding it with 6 months of mortgage payments including tax and insurance. If you have more questions about financing, I would be happy to answer them. I will provide my office contact information at the end of this article.

5. Remodel / Rehabilitation Phase – It’s time to get this home fixed up and back on the market as fast as possible. You should now have your contractors come in to start the construction phase. Keep in mind that cheap labor will almost always be more expensive. Make sure that the contractors are pulling the proper permits. The last thing that you want is a forced work stoppage because the required permit was not pulled. Furthermore, if these workers do not know or build to code, it will usually cost you double to correct a code issue. By now you should have a detailed list of everything that needs to be done. Break it down by major systems such as heating, cooling, plumbing, electrical, and any other system that needs repair or service. Then go room by room and make a list of what needs to be done in each room. Joint compound and a fresh coat of paint goes a long way. Just make sure you use modern, neutral colors that would not be offensive to anyone. Make sure you inspect the exterior of the home for repairs and touch-ups. The yard should be clean and landscaped properly. Make sure you check in on the contractors daily to make sure things are on track, don’t assume all is on schedule. Finally, take advantage of using Lowes and Home Depot credit to avoid payments and interest for six to twelve months. You should be able to buy most of the materials with that credit. Just makes sure you pay the entire balance when the interest free period ends or you will get whacked with all of the accrued interest.

6. Sell your House Fast – Now that your home is complete and ready to go on the market. You should already have an idea of how much you will list this property for, but you must once again verify the value. The best way to do this is to have an appraiser or a real estate agent do a comparable market analysis. If you don’t know an appraiser, call your mortgage broker and ask him or her to use their appraiser to help figure out a range for you. I do it for my mortgage clients as free value added service, it’s just good business practice. You may want to sell your home yourself and that is fine, but you must have the time to show it and also be able to list the property on your local multiple listing service. If you are trying to avoid paying a full real estate commission, a local real estate agent will usually do an “entry only” listing for a nominal fee. If you do not have the time or do not want to deal with the hassle of listing the home yourself, hire a real estate agent to list your home. You should have already added in the sales commission fee into your figures before hand. When figuring value make sure that you also look not only at similar homes that have sold, you should also look at your competition. Your home needs to be a great deal when the average buyer looks at it against others in the same price range. Finally, if you are not getting sufficient showings after a week or so the home may be priced to high, don’t be afraid to lower the price. Sometimes a little profit is better than no profit. That is why you must purchase the property that you want to flip as low as possible and estimate the remodel as accurately as possible.

7. Make Plans for your Profit – If you priced your newly remodeled house correctly, it will go under agreement and you will soon close. If you have planned correctly, you should have some profit coming to you. It would be wise to have a solid plan with regards to your profit. Here are some options; You could simply take the profit as well as your initial investment and place it in your bank. In that case, you just created a taxable event or in other words, a long or short term capital gain depending on how long you held the property. That option is better if the profit gain was minimal. If you made a significant profit and were planning on flipping another property, you can defer your taxes through a 1031 exchange. Basically a 1031 exchange is a tax code that allows you to defer capital gain tax to a later date buy reinvesting your profit into another investment property within a certain time frame. There are rules that must be followed in order to make the exchange valid but considering the benefit, it could be well worth it. The advantages of doing a 1031 exchange includes having more money available now and more buying power. It means not being taxed while your are building your real estate investment business. You can flip your profit, just like you flip a house. Here is an idea, why not flip homes until you have enough down payment funds to exchange into a 30 unit apartment building. Then you can turn your money into a cash flow. You could defer paying any taxes until after you sell the last property and actually take the money. It is always wise to speak with an accountant when making tax decisions, so always consult a professional CPA when dealing with tax laws, that is money well spent.

I will leave you with one last thought; Use professionals from start to finish. Licensed professionals may appear to cost more, but they will save you money by getting the job done on time and correctly.

Tips For Living In a Wooden House In Winter

Wooden houses are pretty much made for Winter. Think about it: a nice, roaring fire in the fireplace. Snow falling softly outside. A twinkling Christmas tree in the corner. Everyone sipping on hot cocoa and singing carols. It is an image that is deeply engrained in the consciousness of many and for good reason.

But you don’t have to rent a ski cabin to get that feeling. You can find it in your own log cabin, a gorgeous and valuable bit of real estate that is perfect for anyone who wants that serenity and calm all year long.

Wooden houses take a bit more care through the year. So here is what you need to know before you buy your own log cabin, so it will be ready once the weather turns cold.

Take Local Weather Into Account

Not everyone has extreme weather where they live. If your Winters aren’t especially harsh then you can probably get away with minimal preparation and be fine. But if you live in an area that gets very wet or cold you will have to take extra care so you don’t damage the lumber, something that is very easy to do without proper wood treatment.

Heat is another factor, so if you live in a very hot climate make sure you are taking the same precautions every year. The sun can be just as damaging as the damp.

Don’t worry, even extreme weather can’t break down the strength and beauty of wood, as long as you take care of it. With proper intervention a wooden house can be passed down for generations.

Make Sure That Fireplace Works

That roaring fire in the image above? That can be your reality but you have to make sure you fireplace is in tip top order. Any improperly maintained fireplace is, of course, a risk. But in a wooden house you have an additional threat if sparks catch, so don’t skimp out!

Make sure your home is zoned for a fireplace. Keep the chimney cleaned and sweep it every year before the cold months when you are going to be using it most. Put a good dampener on that can be opened and closed easily. That will let you open it for use, but keep it closed when not in use so air doesn’t leap out. It also stops critters like birds, bats, arachnids, insects and small mammals from wandering inside and causing a major headache.

Be Ready To Stain and Seal

A log cabin has to be restained every three to five years to keep the wood in good condition. This is well worth the cost as your home is an investment that is worth a great deal more than what you put into the upkeep.

Failing to restain your house will lead to cracks in the wood, warping and even rot. Replacing logs is expensive and difficult, usually requiring a contractor experienced in woodwork to come and do it for you. The staining, on the other hand, is a DIY job most people can complete on their own. It can run you anywhere between $1500 and $5000 depending on the size of the house and any extensions (such as wooden garages), but for an expense every few years it is relatively low.

Weatherstripping Is Your Best Friend

Even without any gaps in the wood, leaks can happen in log cabins. Like any dwelling there are drafts around windows and doors, or in attics and basements. This can be frustrating for homeowners who want to keep the chill away from their abode, but worry about the high energy costs needed to do it. Some turn to firewood to keep the warmth up, but that does nothing if it is escaping through the cracks.

Weatherstripping is inexpensive and easy to do yourself. You can seal the windows and doors to keep air from leaking and keep that warmth in with your family. Most hardware stores have kits with full instructions and YouTube has great information videos showing the process.

It even helps once Summer comes, keeping that cool air inside!

Extra Insulation Makes For a Cozy Cottage

If you don’t mind a heavier project that takes a bit more time and expertise, you may want to consider adding some extra insulation to your home. Insulation helps to keep from air escaping the way weatherstripping does. It is especially helpful in wooden homes because of drafts pushing through the logs.

The attic is one particular area where extra insulation can completely change the way your house conserves energy. Warm air tends to move upward, so if you have a drafty attic space, even if it is a small crawlspace, it can let out a lot of it. Adding in some insulation will keep it trapped inside from the leakiest part of the house, which keeps it down in the rooms where you and your family live.

Heavy Curtains Make a Big Difference

If insulation isn’t possible, or if you just want an additional tool to keep your house warm, heavy curtains can do the trick. Thick enough to block out the light, these babies also keep heat from going through the window. The heavier the fabric, the better the warm air will remain where it is meant to be, in your house.

You can use a lighter weight curtain if you worry about reinforcing the rods enough to keep something heavier in place. Just make sure you add a layer or two to give the highest possible barrier around your windows.

Keep Those Critters Out

Finally, you have the critter problem. Insects, arachnids, small mammals like rats, mice and even raccoons… these are all possible hazards to your wooden home. Termites can eat right through the wood and other creatures might claw and gnaw in through the lumber.

Be prepared to seal your house every Winter and consider spraying for pests before the first snow hits. That will keep the problem at bay before it ever gets out of hand.

For Sale By Owner – Advertising Tips to Help You Sell Your House

There are times when home owners want to sell their house on their own and they need to attract as many buyers as possible. There are some advertising tips that you must keep in mind in order to save you time, money and peace of mind.

One of the most effective means to attract buyers is to advertise on the internet as today most buyers first look online before they consult a broker or agent. Today there are many classified sites that allow you to advertise for free. Simply type “for sale by owner” into your Google or Yahoo! search bar and you will find many options right on the first page. To get better presentation and wider exposure some sites might ask for premium upgrades and these may be a good idea depending on the urgency of your specific situation. If there is no rush you can avoid these and only advertise on the free sites without spending any money.

The goals of most sellers are the same regardless of whether or not they list with a real estate professional. They want a quick sale with the highest possible price and the least hassle. For all houses for sale by owner it is imperative to have the right things in the advertisement so that they are able to attract the right kind and the highest amount of buyers.

In any advertisement the headline is by far the most important part. Some experts say it accounts for 80% of the effectiveness of the ad. I always like to use the stand alone test. If you place only the headline and a phone number in a newspaper, will the phone ring? Look at the ads that are already in the newspaper or wherever you are thinking of advertising. Which ones catch your eye? Don’t feel bad about copying what they do. It’s easier than starting from scratch.

Remember to also add photographs when possible. Take a bunch of photos and use as many of the best ones as allowed. You don’t need to hear too much about how to take photos so I won’t belabor the point. Just know that when looking for houses it makes common sense that the ones with photographs get looked at first.

One must also ensure that the price they ask for the house is a fair one and leave, at the very most, ten percent room for negotiation. Brokers/agents and some websites can help you determine the asking price of the property. Zillow.com comes to mind right away. Along with marketing and exposure, pricing is one of the most important aspects of selling a home so don’t just go to one website that tells you the “value” of your home and use that price. Do your research. What have comparable homes in the same school district sold for in the past 3 months?

Five Tips to Help You Sell Your House Now

Even if a quick home sale isn’t a do-or-die necessity, it is in your best financial interest. Surveys of real estate agents and popular knowledge make it clear that the longer a house lingers on the market, the lower the price will fall. Most homes that sell for their full asking price sell within two weeks of being listed. These five tips will help you sell your house NOW.

Tip # 1: Hire The Best Real Estate Agent You Can Find…

…and then follow his or her advice. Real estate agents are trained professionals whose business is selling homes for people. They can help you set the right price for your home, tell you what repairs and cosmetic changes you can make to help you sell faster, and guide you through the process step-by-step.

Tip # 2: Set the Right Price

The rule of thumb for selling a house fast is a price that’s within 5% to 10% of other homes in the neighborhood. If you’ve hired a real estate agent, they’ll know what other houses in your area have sold for. If you’ve decided to sell your home yourself, you can find information on recent home sales in your area online.

Tip # 3: It’s All About Curb Appeal

Most buyers who DON’T buy have already ruled out your house before they ever set foot through your front door. Don’t underestimate the value of the cosmetic appeal of the outside of your home. No matter how wonderful the inside of your house is, if it’s wrapped up in a shabby package and poor surroundings, then you’ll have a much more difficult time selling it. Take the time to fix up the outside of your house to show its best face to the world.

And don’t underestimate flower power! A small investment in a few plants to stand on the front steps or perk up a lawn border can make a huge difference in how your house is perceived.

Tip # 4: Make It Easy For Potential Buyers to Picture Themselves in Your House

Start by giving your house a thorough cleaning. Get rid of all clutter whether it’s visible or hidden in a closet. No one wants to buy a dirty house! Next, you should put away all of your personal belongings. You want your prospective buyers to see THEMSELVES in your living room, not you.

Another great trick when selling your home is to use a little psychology. If you’re repainting in summer months, consider using ‘cool’ colors. In winter, use warm ones. Make people feel happy in your house and it will sell faster!

Tip # 5: If you’ve Decided to Sell on Your Own, List Your Home with An FSBO Web Site

FSBO (For Sale By Owner) web sites are an excellent way to advertise your property. Most FSBO sites (http://www.forsalebyowner.com/, http://www.fiftystatesfsbo.com/) will tell you how to set up a Flat Fee Multiple Listing contract with a local Realtor. That will get your home listed in your local MLS service and dramatically increase its visibility.

If you’ve done your preparation work well, set the right price for your home and made sure that your house is as appealing as possible, you WILL sell your house NOW.

Sell House Now Tips and Information – Learn How to Sell a House Fast

It is now doubt the real real estate market will slow down during the holiday season. This is good for realtors and real estate investors who have been working very hard to help clients buy and sell houses but not so good for buyers and sellers.

If you are in the market to buy a house, December and January can be a good time to pick up some great deals on a house because there are not many buyers. It can also cause an issue for home buyers because the number of available homes typically is lower during the holidays as home sellers don’t want to move during this time.

The cold weather also has an affect on the real estate market. The colder it is outside the less home buyers are out shopping for a great new home and the less number of open houses real estate agents hold. In months when the weather is warm the number of houses for sale increases and so does the number of sold homes each month.

Does this mean you should wait to sell your house until Spring? Well, if you can wait it might be a good idea too, but many home owners need to sell their house now. The truth is life happens and there are many reasons a home you expected to stay in for seven to ten years suddenly becomes a home that you can only stay in for two or three years.

Home owners who need to sell their house fast typically have one of the following reasons: foreclosure, job transfer, divorce, relocation, family illness, short sale, etc. There are many reasons home owners need to sell a home but if you are experiencing any of the above stated issues you are more likely to need to sell quick.

The problem with needing to sell a home fast in the current real estate market is many home owners do not have much equity so selling a house can be very difficult. If you owe more for your home mortgage than what your home is worth it can seem impossible to sell your home. The truth is you still have home selling options. You can have a professional realtor or investor complete a short sale, lease option your home until the market increase or you can rent your house until the market increases and sell then.

It is important that if you are wanting to sell a house you discuss all your options with a real estate professional. Real estate can be a tricky thing to handel especially when you have an emotional attachment to the home. Discussion all your options with someone who is an expert and does not have an emotional attachment can help ease the process of selling a home.