How to Break Into Real-Estate Without Going to Jail

“Business, that’s easily defined – it’s other people’s money.” — Peter Drucker”It’s tangible, it’s solid, it’s beautiful. It’s artistic, from my standpoint, and I just love real estate.” — Donald Trump”A simple rule dictates my buying: Be fearful when others are greedy, and be greedy when others are fearful.” — Warren BuffettInvesting in real estate is about using other people’s money to increase one’s own personal wealth. It is not hard to hear a well-known business figure wax poetic about real estate. Robert Kiyosaki has said that he loves real estate because it is dumb as dirt. Meaning real estate is easy to understand and that anyone can master the fundamentals and build wealth using real estate.The tax advantages alone make real estate a worthwhile addition to anyone’s wealth portfolio. Imagine having a property that pays you $6000 per year positive cashflow and imagine that that income is tax-free. What if you had 5 such properties? What about ten?If these things are true, why do so many personal finance blogs steer clear of the topic of real estate investing while extolling the virtues of long-term investing in the stock market? And why have so many investors lost their investments through foreclosure because of this most recent real estate bust?There are a myriad of ways to invest in real estate from mortgage-backed securities to REITs to tax liens. As a single investor, partner or part of a syndicate. Through properties bought for appreciation or cash flow. There are so many ways to interact with a property or group of properties for profit that the individual investor can get lost in the quagmire of information, courses and advice and end up going out with the tide, pushing up financial daisies or suffering any of the other terms used to describe financial catastrophes in today’s economy.Because investing in real estate is a lot like specializing in a particular branch of medicine, this article is geared to the person who wants to own a tangible piece of property for investment purposes.The Risks of Real Estate:The risks of real estate are the same as any business and they are 1) liability 2) under capitalization 3) economies of scale 4) economic down turn 5) unknown exit strategyLiability:Unfortunately in America legal action is considered one of the acceptable ways for people to increase their wealth. If a property carries a mortgage, the bank will insist that the property owner carry liability insurance, but it doesn’t stop there. The savvy investor will explore the options of legal entities, LLCs and limited partnerships, before investing in even that first property.Under Capitalization:The most common reason that businesses fail is the lack of capital. Too many real estate investors are looking for the “no money down deal” which too many people take to mean free, free real estate. Whether or not an investor is able to acquire a property with no money down, that investor should have sufficient access to funds to cover taxes, insurance, 6 months of mortgage payments and repair costs.Economies of scale:Real estate investing can be and often is a capital intensive business and the costs are fixed. What this means is that a small investor must spread fixed costs over a few units and a large investor must spread fixed costs over a larger number of units. Vacancies, repairs, tenant damage that exceeds usual repair costs will affect a smaller investor to a much greater extent than a large investor. How do smaller investors become large? By systematically acquiring more properties, trading up and by partnering with other like-minded investors.Economic down turn:Factors precipitating an economic decline are outside of the control of an individual investor, yet an economic decline affects real estate exit strategies and affects the ROI of properties purchased for cashflow.Unknown Exit Strategy:The majority of people who purchase real estate buy with one strategy in mind: to resell the property quickly in an appreciating market. What if the market does not appreciate and you get stuck with a property? Is the cashflow sufficient to allow you to hold the property until the property turns around or will you have to let your property go in a fire sale at the same time others are doing the same?The following are simple strategies that will allow you to break into real estate, keep your shirt and avoid the hoosegow.1) Invest for cashflow
2) use legal entities to hold your properties
3) carry appropriate liability insurance
4) know when to buy
5) develop partners on the groundInvest for Cashflow:Cashflow will allow you to weather the storms of appreciation and devaluation. Additionally most of your cashflow will be tax-free. Simple rule of thumb for quickly analyzing properties:a) Buy oven numbered plexes beginning with the number 4. Two units cover rents, one expenses and one goes in your pocket. With an 8 plex, 4 cover rents, two cover expenses and 2 goes in the pocket.
b) A property is worth roughly 100 times the monthly cashflowUse legal entities:Unfortunately America is the land of litigation and litigation is considered a socially acceptable way to make money. Proper use of legal entities can contain risk to one property and protect personal and private assets.Carry appropriate liability insurance:This one is self-explanatory.Know when to buy:Remember Buffett’s rule. It is time to sell when everyone is buying. When you buy for cashflow you won’t overpay for a property and when everyone is buying it is time to sell your underperforming properties. Keep your winners until you can trade your winners in for larger, performing properties.Develop partners on the ground:Developing your team is crucial to success. Property managers, mortgage brokers, and attorneys should be part of your team. If you are buying in a market you are unfamiliar with, ground partners become critical to your investment success. Don’t assume that because you live near a community you want to invest in, you are familiar with the dynamics of that community enough to safely invest. Develop your partners first.Real estate is an essential part of any investment portfolio. Investing in a tangible piece of property is simple but team building, planning your exit strategy before you buy, and timing your purchases are part of the essential strategies for success. Forgetting the risks and ignoring the simple success strategies will wash many a would-be investor up on the shore or land him in the jail of failure.

Investment Real Estate Marketing Plan – Putting Details Into Action

Marketing is one of the most important things a real estate investor can do to grow his business. It is also one of the areas that is easiest to make multiple mistakes. From failing to properly plan, failure to track your results and even worse, failure to control spending; marketing is fraught perils that beginning investors and long time investors alike must be aware and prepared to avoid.There are 3 main areas of marketing to concentrate on when seeking to grow sales and revenues. The first is education, the second is planning and the third is tracking for adjustments and success. All three are important for investors to watch as they seek to grow sales and revenues and more importantly, build a business model that is sustainable through any real estate cycle.EDUCATIONEducating yourself as a real estate investor and marketer is absolutely paramount if you are going to have success and grow your business. There is simply no excuse for not understanding the basics of each as they both are extremely important for the longevity and ability to stay relevant and profitable. Here a few examples of places to become educated on good marketing techniques for real estate investors.1. Local Library – There may not be a better place to become educated on real estate marketing than the local library. Break the topic down into two subjects and you can have the basics down inside of a week. Under the real estate section there are multiple titles that explain the basics of real estate investing from beginner levels to expert levels. In addition, many of these books will give a basic outline of some simple marketing techniques and tools to get you started. When you combine that knowledge with a good Marketing 101 book from the library, you can quickly pick up the basic outline of why marketing must be done and how properly set up a marketing plan. The best part about an education from the library is the cost – practically free!2. Real Estate Investment Clubs – Often times, these clubs are referred to in the industry as REIA’s. Associations of local real estate investors who come together several times a month to discuss topics relevant to real estate investing. These are great sources for so many things related to real estate investing, including marketing ideas and plans. By attending and immersing yourself into these groups, it is easy to develop friendships, partnerships and even mentors who can answer questions and provide guidance. By paying attention to what the top performers are doing in the field and how they are marketing their businesses, you can pick up ideas and integrate those ideas into your marketing plan. It is called modeling and it is one of the best ways to educate yourself on what is working in a particular real estate market. The biggest upside to becoming educated at a REIA is that you are surrounding yourself with the type of people that are going to be vital to your future success. The costs are usually very affordable and you can often avoid mistakes made by other investors before you.3. Go it Alone – There probably does not need to be a tremendous amount of discussion under this heading. It speaks for itself and generally goes against all advice I could ever give any business person, especially a real estate investor. As far as education is concerned, it is an approach that many investors choose to take and often at a tremendous cost. Going it alone means deciding to jump into the deep end of the pool with both feet and learning as you go. Trial and error can be good and can sometimes lead to good results, but often after many hours and many ups and downs. Strictly looking at costs, many investors have experienced huge losses in the areas of marketing to learn what works in their particular market and often are a little behind the actual trends due to not properly learning to track and adjust.My suggestion when it comes to education to use all the resources available including those that come with little to no costs. When you are becoming educated on how to set up a proper marketing plan complete with tracking and adjusting, then I would make sure I was a part of a local real estate investors association so that I am always up to date with the latest marketing techniques.PLANNINGWhen I talk about planning and marketing, I mean to process of laying out the actual strategies you are going to use to market your business, the time frame you are going to use those strategies, the way you are going to track those results and the possible adjustments you are going to make as your results come in on your plan. One of the biggest mistakes that we see today in the real estate marketing world is not a complete failure to plan, but a failure to lay the full plan out from beginning to end. That being said, here are a few tips to properly develop a plan.1. Know what you are currently doing and what results you are currently achieving. Even if the answer is that you are doing nothing, you can not work on where you are going if you do not know where you currently are starting from. You should be able to pinpoint today any marketing you are doing and the cost of that marketing as well as any results you are seeing.2. Know what results you are looking for before you begin. So once you know where you are starting from, the next question is were are you going? Lay out concrete results you want to achieve and be specific. One of the glaring mistakes in this area is not being specific enough. You cannot track abstract goals. Your goals must be specific and detailed so that you can verify if you are achieving them. An example would be a specific number of new leads you want to bring in from each marketing source.3. Give yourself set time frames to test your marketing. This is definitely the second biggest problem for real estate marketers and most marketers in general. Marketing plans must be given time to take shape and develop. Most real estate marketers are developing marketing plans which are call to action in nature. They are asking their target audience to take a particular action so that they can capture that action and develop a new lead. An example would be to “Call Today to Sell Your House Quick!”. This is a call to action marketing phrase. Often times, there will need to be multiple impressions of that message before the action is followed. Failing to plan a specific amount of time such as 60 days or 90 days, leads to a marketer stopping his action before his target audience responds. If you allow your plan to last longer and stick with all of your marketing pieces and techniques longer, you give yourself a greater chance for success in the long run. It allows for you to see over a longer period of time the results you are getting and that provides a clearer picture of what works and what does not work. DO NOT quit marketing after a couple of weeks simply because your phone is not ringing off the hook. Set your time period on the front end and then let your marketing plan work.4. Failing to get input from other experts can be costly. If you have access to other real estate investors, I would definitely get their input on your marketing plan before implementation. If they are able to give you advice and direction it can often times help you to figure out the best route to take or at least if you are on track for success. If you have taken your time and all the steps necessary so far to put together a quality plan, then take advice from other experts, but do not be persuaded to change everything. Simply let others take a quick look for feedback, but be prepared to move forward with your plan and any adjustments they think would make a difference.TRACKINGTracking means having a way to actually follow and measure all of the marketing activities you are doing and the number of results each gets you. Here are some examples of the things that real estate marketers need to track for every marketing action they take.1. What are the total number of leads generated per marketing technique tracked daily, weekly and monthly.
2. How many of those leads turned into qualified prospects daily, weekly and monthly. (qualified prospect means you were willing to invest more time to develop the lead)
3. The number of offers made to purchase property daily, weekly and monthly.
4. The ratios of offers made to where the original lead came from.I am going to insert a quick note here to make sure everyone understands exactly how to track. It is not enough to simply know how many calls you are getting or how many leads are generated or how many offers or deals are being done. When you actually purchase an investment property, you MUST know where that lead came from at the very beginning. Tracking ratios is extremely important to this. It is important to be able to track and measure not only the leads but the quality of those leads. You can have one lead generator that gives you a majority of your leads and another that gives you a majority of your transactions. It should be obvious that you would want to spend more time and resources with the marketing technique giving your more transactions unless you are in the business to simply feel busy and not necessarily to earn a living!5. What is the cost per lead generated, per marketing technique daily, weekly and monthly.6. What is the average income generated from each transaction generated by each marketing technique daily, weekly and monthly.When you are able to track your business in this way, it makes it much easier to make adjustments as you go and it definitely gives a clearer picture of how well you are spending marketing dollars. Often times, as legendary basketball coach John Wooden would say “we mistake activity for productivity” The entire reason for developing and implementing a proper marketing plan is so that we can determine what works, what does not work and what changes we need to make so that we are spending the fewest dollars possible for the greatest impact and result. If we fail to implement any part of this type of marketing plan, then whatever success we achieve cannot be measured against any activities and therefore cannot be duplicated.I am a big proponent of education and immersion as the best learning tools available and I believe that when it comes to marketing, it is simply too easy to learn the proper way to plan and track. When you have the basics down and solid plan to follow, success will follow.

Top Five Reasons to Invest in Real Estate Today

When it comes to real estate, the topic of the day is the downturn in the market, the number of people losing their homes, and how much this is going to hurt the economy. In the seventeen years I have been in the real estate business, I have witnessed every fluctuation the market has to offer. While it is true that many property owners are enduring trying times, rarely does the same happen to knowledgeable real estate investors.There are those individuals who remain emotionally unattached and invest wisely in real estate. As a result, they live a very comfortable, if not lavish, lifestyle. Investing in real estate, especially during a downturn, can widen an investor’s opportunities and bring about lucrative returns. This is a truth. If you are thinking about becoming a real estate investor or have already made the decision to start, the following information is priceless.Wanting to secure a comfortable financial future, most of us go to work every day hoping to build a nest egg. Since, it is common knowledge that real estate investors have the capacity to not only build a nest egg but also create a fortune, why aren’t more people joining the ranks of real estate multimillionaires? Why aren’t there more people fighting for a seat on the real estate bandwagon?Well, the truth behind real estate investing is that it is a business and therefore, must be treated like one for it to prosper. Just like any other promising venture, investing in real estate requires a well-defined vision, a strategic plan, and an entrepreneurial mindset. Even with the overwhelming evidence revealing success, only a microscopic segment of the population is willing to take the risk, do the work and follow through. The rest simply watch and call those of us doing the work “Lucky”.When I began my career in real estate, I didn’t have a plan. I didn’t invest. I didn’t even see past my next commission check. What kept me hanging on was a desire to live like the people I worked for, most of whom were real estate investors. Years later, I committed to create serious wealth through real estate. As soon as I mindfully committed to my goal, I began to make deals and more money than ever before.By choice, I am not one of those investors who vacations six months out of the year. I work all the time meeting with clients, looking at properties and refining my strategy. Add to that a growing number of mentoring/coaching clients and my schedule is officially full. Nevertheless, I am continuously increasing my net worth as I am doing something that never feels like work.Besides creating amazing wealth, being your own boss and having a place or two to call home, owning a real estate investing business has many other advantages. The following five play a special role for the novice investor.1. Safe InvestmentWhen we use a timeline to compare the real estate market to other investments, such as the stock market, it is easy to see that real estate continues to increase in value over time without any serious instability. Although, there is currently a housing crisis in various parts across the country, every indicator points out that what we are actually experiencing is a readjustment of highly inflated real estate prices. Just as prices may be dropping, in time they will undoubtedly increase. In contrast, the stock market has put investors through a dizzying rollercoaster ride made up of swift highs and abrupt lows throughout history. Regardless of what type of market we are in, it is clear that an investment in real estate guarantees a profit over time.2. No Cash NecessaryFor beginning real estate investors, sometimes the only investment they can make is their time. For every real estate investor, finding a lucrative deal is as good as striking oil. There are plenty of seasoned investors with money in their pockets itching to buy a piece of discounted property. Wholesalers often utilize this method. Therefore, if you are new to the game, consider finding a deal, tying it up and connecting with an investor who can take it off your hands…for a price, of course.3. Almost Anyone Can Do ItReal estate is such a lucrative field that it opens doors to countless amateur investors everyday. There are how-to books and seminars at every turn teaching would-be investors a myriad of ways to make huge profits in the real estate market. While it is true that overnight success is practically unheard of, anybody with the heart, mind and determination can make it big in real estate. The keys are to continue learning and to monitor market conditions.4. Leveraging PowerWhile novice investors can turn a quick profit by wholesaling their deals, Buy-and-Hold investors can yield a profit by borrowing against (leveraging) their properties. Typically, lenders will allow holders of owner-occupied property to borrow up to ninety-five percent of their property’s value and up to eighty-percent of non-owner occupied units. This means that you can either purchase property with a minimal out-of-pocket investment or acquire financing that will allow you to pull cash out of your property’s equity to use for future ventures.5. Tax BreaksThe popular 1031 exchange and depreciation are just two of them. The United States government has set up multiple tax breaks favoring real estate investors. Owning real estate with the goal of making a profit allows you to deduct interest payments, repairs, and vacancies among other expenses when preparing your tax return. It is important to note that purchasing real estate makes economic sense; it should not be purchased solely for the tax benefits.Ultimately, owning a real estate business is the way to achieve financial freedom regardless of economic conditions. Whether you quit your job and dive right in or you work at it in your spare time, you can make it happen. Worthwhile benefits are waiting faithfully for the taking.