5 HELPFUL GOOGLE EARTH & MAPS TIPS FOR REAL ESTATE INVESTORS

Back in the day, investing from a distance was tough. It was hard to get a good feel of the area, the property, and the city unless you got in a car (or plane!) and traveled there.

But thanks to technology, today, it doesn’t matter where you are — you can get an up-front and personal view of a property without ever leaving the comfort of your own home. And the best part? It doesn’t cost a penny.

Google Earth is one of the most useful pieces of technology to hit the real estate investing world in the last century. It gives you the ability to really get a handle on a property and area before you invest — which can save you a ton of time, energy, and cash in the long run.

Let’s take a look at some of the best Google Earth (and Maps!) tips for out-of-state real estate investors:

Take a Trip Down Memory Lane

One of the coolest features on Google Earth is the ability to go back in time and see what a property looked like six months ago, a year ago, five years ago, ten years ago… You get the picture.

This comes in handy when you want to make sure you’re getting the most accurate information about a property’s history. I remember when there was a rise in water elevation due to heavy rainfall in the DFW area, people were trying to pitch their homes as lake houses! It was ridiculous.

As an out-of-area investor, you’d have no way of knowing that “lake house” is just a house stuck on a piece of land with rising water levels. But thanks to Google Earth, all you have to do is take a trip down memory lane to see the history of the property — and save yourself from investing in a “lake house” that is nothing but trouble.

Get an Idea of Future Highway Construction

Another cool feature of Google Earth is the ability to see how neighborhoods are changing and how streets and highways are being constructed in real time. And as a real estate investor, that’s helpful information to know.

When you can visualize highway construction and see where new streets are coming in, it helps you to anticipate new construction and development — which can have a direct impact on the value and pricing of your property.

Get a 360-Degree View of the Property and the Surrounding Areas

You may think you’ve found the perfect property — but if it’s not in the perfect area, you can find yourself with a property that puts you in the red instead of building your wealth. Luckily, Google Earth gives you a 360-degree view of not only your property, but also the surrounding areas in every direction — which will give you a heads-up for any potential red flags that could jeopardize your investment.

For example, I had a friend who, years ago, was moving to a new area and bought an apartment he thought was perfect… until he moved in and realized he was directly downwind from the local landfill.

Too bad Google Earth wasn’t around to get him out of the (smelly) situation.

To get access to a view of your property and the surrounding areas, just type the address into Google Earth and use their “street view” feature.

Use the Ruler Tool to Approximate Lot Dimensions

You can’t always trust what you read. You might get information that a lot is a certain size, only to buy it and then realize those numbers were WAY off — and you’ve got a lot significantly smaller than what you were expecting.

Google Earth has a great measurement tool (you can find it on the menu bar by going to Tools > Ruler) that allows you to get a measurement of the lot dimensions. Now, keep in mind, this won’t be precise to the inch — but it will give you a great ballpark figure of how big of a lot you’re dealing with.

Use Maps for… Well, Pretty Much Everything

Google Earth is an amazing tool for investors — but so is a little feature called Google My Maps.

With Google My Maps, you can map out the boundaries of each neighborhood in a city, drop markers for every potential property you’re interested in, color code each property and tag each with individual notes, map driving routes to key areas in the city… Seriously, there’s not much you can’t do with this tool.

This is awesome for out-of-state investors because it gives you a way to group together all your research on a map — and then access that map (and all the information you’ve collected) when you’re on the ground looking at properties.

For a more in-depth explanation on how to use Google My Maps for out-of-state investors, check out this helpful article from OutOfStateInvestor.com.

Buying an investment property when you’re not in the physical area can be challenging — but thanks to Google, things have become a whole lot easier.

See original at: https://www.leapdfw.com/blog/google-earth-tips-for-real-estate-investors/

 

4 Things To Consider When You Are Selling A Property

There are a handful of subtle things you should be doing if you are selling your property. Some of these are common sense but all of them can have a tremendous impact on your bottom line. Even in a seller’s market, it is not enough to list your home and wait for the offers to roll in. If you overplay your hand, buyers will simply move on to the next property. Doing excellent rehab work or making appropriate upgrades is not enough. You need to always present your property in the best possible light. Here are five things you need to consider if you are selling your property:

  • Use An Agent You Are Comfortable With. There are a lot of great real estate agents out there. To complete a successful sale, you need to choose the right agent for you and your specific property. A good buying agent may not be the best at listing properties. An agent in one market may not be as knowledgeable about the market your property is in. You need to treat your listing agent search like you would anyone else on your real estate team. Don’t be afraid to ask them how well they know the area and how they intend to market the property. Commission is always important but may not be the most important factor. The goal is to get the property sold at the highest price. If you have to pay an extra half a point commission to get that done, it will be worth it in the long run.  You should be able to feel if you and your agent are a good fit after talking with him or her a few times. You and your agent will communicate dozens of times throughout the entirety of your transaction so it is therefore important that you are comfortable with whomever you end up working with.
  • List At The Right Price. One of the most important things you can do to procure a quick sale is list at the right price. Not only will this help you sell quickly but it can also help you sell for the maximum price. Buyers and real estate agents are often influenced by the initial listing price. By pricing higher than the market suggests you run the risk of losing interest quickly. Instead of generating a buzz and creating a multiple offer situation, your property will most likely sit vacant while cheaper houses are being sold. With a high list price, you probably won’t get the showings you anticipated, and within a few weeks, you will be forced to make a decision about lowering the asking cost.  Do you lower the price or hold steady and wait for buyers? Neither option is ideal. If you lower your price, it might be viewed as a sign of desperation and you can expect below asking price offers to come in. On the other hand, If you hold at your price, you could easily go weeks or months before you have a showing. The best option is to list at the right price from the start. This keeps your property fresh and real estate agents and buyers interested.
  • Perfect Conditions Every Showing. Listing at the right price helps but it may not be enough to get an offer. When listing your home, you need to put yourself in the buyer’s shoes. Walk the property through their eyes. Whatever your first impression of the property is, the odds are, it will be the same for potential buyers. Start with the exterior of the home. For as long as your home is on the market, you need to constantly update the grass and landscaping. You can’t have overgrown shrubs or brown grass.  The moment a person steps inside the property, the first impression needs to be strong. Avoid cooking strong smelling foods the night before you have a morning showing. It is tough to mask the smell of a fishy dinner, which could be enough to drive a buyer away. If the house is vacant, you need to stay on top of the temperature. With the weather warming, the house shouldn’t be too hot. Having a strong heat hit your buyer as soon as they open the door will having them speeding in and out of the showing. First impressions are critical with every buyer. Make sure the property is perfect every time you show it.
  • Accept The Right Offer. It is important not to be tempted to take the highest offer. Price will always be a strong consideration but there is more to an offer than price. You need to check out the financing, closing date and contingencies. If you accept an offer that ultimately doesn’t close will force you to start the process all over again. There is no guarantee that buyers that were interested in your property weeks ago will still be around. It is quite possible that they have moved on to other homes. Review the pre-qualification letter with your real estate agent. Look at the type of loan they submit and the down payment. From there, you need to review the contract line by line. Are they asking for contingencies that are excessive or unreasonable? Are they looking for a credit or to keep certain items in the property? If the buyer is difficult when submitting an offer, odds are, they will be throughout the process. Only you, as the seller, knows what the final number is that you will accept. The right offer is usually the one that ends up closing in the easiest possible manner.

Selling your property can be confusing and overwhelming at times. Real estate markets change all the time and it is important to do everything right to get the highest possible price.

 

See orignal at: https://www.cthomesllc.com/2016/08/5-things-consider-selling-property/

Real Estate Lead Generation 101

What are the best real estate lead generation options today?

Where and how can real estate agents, investors and other related industry professionals generate more leads for buying, selling and renting properties? What are some of the little known benefits, and pitfalls of common real estate lead generation channels today?

Here are 12 ways for real estate investors and Realtors to bring in more leads:

Direct Mail

Some popular real estate gurus have said that direct mail is the fastest and easiest way to generate new leads. It can still be very effective. In fact, as others have turned to online marketing, direct mail may have become even more effective and profitable. However, direct mail success does rely on volume and testing to hone messaging and delivery.

Cold Calling

Cold calling on a large scale, such as using call centers, might face many challenges with regulations today, but it has still been proven to generate an effective hourly income of hundreds of dollars for Realtors. Simply picking up the phone can be one of the fastest ways to generate real estate business. It is also one of the lowest cost ways to generate leads, and can help professionals stay on top of their sales game.

Door Knocking

Many fantastic real estate deals and listings can be uncovered by simply driving neighborhoods and knocking on doors. There are obvious obstacles in doing this, but when it comes to getting the jump on competitors, it can be hard to beat.

Email Marketing

Google may have made reaching consumers via their inboxes more challenging, but email can still be one of the best ways to reach both the masses, and highly targeted contacts. Email lists may be rented from data companies versus buying them. Subsequently, real estate investors and agents can take control of their own email real estate and build their own lists.

Buying Internet Leads

Buying internet leads has been popular for a variety of real estate and mortgage companies since before the last housing boom. These individuals experienced somewhat of a bubble, but have now been improved with enhanced data and targeting tools. There are various types of these leads ranging from ‘aged’ leads, to live exclusive leads, and non-exclusive leads. Make sure you do your homework and understand exactly what you are getting, as well as the difference in these types of consumers, in order to maximize ROI.

Buying Lead Lists

Lead lists have been a staple of the real estate industry for many years. An almost endless array of filters can be used to laser target the best prospects with these lists. However, newer individuals and real estate companies need to recognize that they may not legally be allowed to have, or market to some of these lists depending on how the data was generated. Watch for junk, and be sure lists aren’t being fluffed out with bogus names.

Real Estate Blogging

Real estate blogging remains one of the most powerful and profitable forms of lead generation, but also one of the most underestimated. A regular blog can ensure real estate pros and companies are not held ransom by other platforms, and can go on helping to generate leads for years after posts are written. A blog can be used to draw regular internet leads, feed email list building, and fuel social media efforts.

Social Media

While this medium changes constantly, social media platforms can still be a fantastic way to generate leads in real estate. Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, and even Pinterest are all great options. There are many debates over calls to action, the amount of engagement which is right, and how much should be invested off-site, versus on a real estate company’s own websites, but with the right funnel strategy, it can be fast, affordable and enjoyable.

Signage & Outdoor Real Estate Advertising

Even the simplest yard and ‘bandit’ signs can be incredibly affordable ways to generate real estate leads. With the right message, these and other outdoor advertising solutions can be used to generate a steady stream of local leads. New technology can make this even better. Call capture, QR codes, interactive augmented reality signs, text messaging options, and even links to virtual tours can be used to boost outdoor advertising performance.

PPC

Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising can be one of the best methods of predictably and consistently driving in real estate leads on demand. PPC solutions, like Google Adwords, offer the ability to drive in leads on command. This can be tweaked to be hyper local, or reach global buyers, investors and homeowners right where they are now. With a little strategy and education, real estate marketers can significantly drive down PPC costs. With a large enough budget, they can even dominate, and starve out the competition by buying every lead for a given keyword. Aside from the big platforms, more affordable online leads may be gleaned from purchasing image, text and banner ads on other websites directly.

Print Advertising

Don’t forget print. Beyond the traditional line up of real estate mags, consider other industry magazines that will reach the same prime prospects, and even leveraging online magazines.

Referrals and Affiliate Marketing

Personal referrals can be both a compliment, and the most valuable form of lead generation. Savvy real estate CEOs are taking this to a whole new level by using technology to scale and organize referrals on a national and global scale.

– See more at: http://www.cthomesllc.com/2014/07/real-estate-lead-generation-101/#sthash.RqEcAeZ1.dpuf

Technology vs. People Skills: Which Real Estate Strategies Will Win?

The real estate industry caters to independent strategies. For every investor, there is another way to go about conducting business. Some may prefer to utilize the convenience of technology while others want to maintain personal relationships. However, for one reason or another, there remains a void between these two independent strategies. Smart investors will figure out how to incorporate technology into their business while simultaneously maintaining the personal relationships that they have worked so hard to create. Others will need to learn this before it is too late. Using the latest technology, in association with establishing lasting relationships, can go a long way in making a business successful.

Programmers, and the venture capitalists backing them, certainly want the real estate industry to be run through advancements in technology. At the same time, a number of the leading industry minds, and young entrepreneurs are dismissing technology as just another tool. So which real estate strategies will prevail over the next decade? The early adopters riding the next wave of technology? Or those taking customer relationships seriously? Perhaps both?

#NewRealEstateTechnology

Tech is invading real estate, and fast. The following advancements in technology have already been incorporated into the real estate industry:

Drones

Highly controversial drones have been flying their way into mainstream real estate applications. They are now being used for enhanced photography, virtual tours, and even property management.

Big Data

As the world becomes a planet of digital natives, more and more data is becoming available to the public. While big data may seem hyped up to many real estate professionals, better data means being able to pinpoint prospects with highly targeted marketing, and give them more of what they want. Theoretically, this means improved real estate marketing performance and ROI.

Curation

Curation remains a popular trend, though its value may be suffering due to larger trends, and the obvious need for originality.

Crowdfunding

Not only is technology creating more efficiency in mortgage lending, it is spawning new financing models altogether. The advantages of speed and streamlining operation technology can increase lender margins, or help keep interest rates and borrowing costs low. One of the largest new developments has been ‘buy to rent’ loans for single-family rental home investors. Crowdfunding goes even further, completely breaking from traditional mortgage lending and having to rely on banks.

Home Search

Home searches haven’t necessarily benefited from new technology much. The big home listing portals haven’t changed much. The many new startup attempts at mimicking these real estate search engines haven’t appeared to gain much traction. The data shows house hunters are still far better served turning to local real estate websites.

Website Design

Web design has changed significantly in the last year; both aesthetically and functionally. HTML 5 has taken over, and both responsive sizing and content is becoming the norm.

Augmented Reality

Augmented reality is rapidly gaining traction. Augmented reality and interactive ads are taking over as the top ads in print and outdoors. Google Glass is now being used on the streets by some real estate companies to coach agents and team members in real-time. Technology is also working its way into improving green building efforts.

Where’s the Personal Touch?

Technology is great. It can make life and business a lot easier, and more profitable for real estate agents, investors, and the companies they work for. However, some entrepreneurial thought leaders and real estate commentators are increasingly highlighting the benefits of offline, and personal connections.

It all comes down to what is best for business, and enabling real estate professionals to stay in alignment with the things they really care about. Efficiency from technology is great. It gets even better when it improves service for home buyers, sellers, and renters. Done right, integrated technology can make management easier, facilitate business growth, ensure sustainability and long term competitiveness, and significantly drive up ROI and profits.

Still, it shouldn’t be a replacement for real interaction and service. Unless this is kept at the forefront of the mind, short term gains will be just that – short term. Winning customers could become far more expensive, and those with the strongest relationships will be those that retain customers and benefit from their referrals.

With this in mind, some real estate professionals and companies have been taking another look at brick and mortar storefronts. However, they are also taking the time to build real relationships. These are all good things. But, unless the same care and attention to caring for customer needs, and wowing them with great service is maintained at all levels of an organization, it may not make much difference. In fact, you might be better off with just a website, instead of allowing poor customer service reps destroy your reputation, and brand.

The latest technology has been helping to blur the lines between offline and online. Perhaps this is the best strategy for real estate companies. Meet each client where they are and interact across multiple channels for efficiency, while still providing tailored, but high quality service.

– See more at: http://www.cthomesllc.com/2014/07/technology-vs-people-skills-real-estate-strategies-will-win/#sthash.2DSx5pKO.dpuf

Real Estate Investing As A Business

“Investment is most intelligent when most business like” – Warren Buffett

If investing is better when conducted most business like, does it mean that more real estate investors ought to be investing in a more businesslike fashion? Should every real estate investor be investing as a business? What does that really mean? What does it look like? Does that limit the types of properties and strategies that can be applied? Where can help and support be found for building a more businesslike property portfolio?

What does Real Estate Investing as a Business Mean?

“Businesslike” investing suggests a less emotional, better organized, well thought out approach to real estate. Definitions of ‘business’ can range from describing a profession, to commerce and trade, to an actual company. All of these definitions likely influence Warren Buffett’s decision to be more businesslike in investing. It has certainly worked for him, and for his own prized real estate investments, and real estate companies. It could mean running a real estate company of some type, owning an investment (which is distinctly different from managing one), or just being more businesslike in every day investment and real estate decisions.

Why Should Investors Approach REI as a Business?

There are many practical benefits of taking a business approach to real estate including:

  • Scalability
  • Better true investment decisions
  • More profitable investment moves
  • Efficiency in organization
  • Separating personal from investment finances, assets, and income
  • Building substantial additional value within a business entity
  • Tax reduction
  • More free time

What does Building a Real Estate Business Look Like?

Not everyone envisions building a company and mounting an international conglomerate when they get interested in investing in real estate. So will you need an office, hundreds of staff, and have to go back to wearing uncomfortable suits again?

Most won’t.

Many simply want to generate some extra income, and perhaps build more wealth over the long run. Others aspire to building multinational real estate empires. Yet, what we are really talking about here is approaching investment with a businesslike mentality, and structure. Even for those wishing to go really big, most will find they can now operate a multi-million dollar company from their patios via their smartphones.

However, there ought to be businesslike characteristics regardless of size. This may include incorporation and forming a registered business entity, obtaining business credit and bank accounts, setting up a new business phone number, hiring professional vendors to help out, and having a real estate website.

What Types of Properties can be Invested in as a Real Estate Business?

Not all will incorporate as a C Corp, or LLC. Regardless, of which entity type is chosen, or none is used, every type of property is open to investment.

This may include:

  • Single-family homes
  • Small multifamily properties like duplexes, triplexes, and 4 units properties
  • Apartment buildings
  • Office buildings
  • Industrial real estate
  • Hotels
  • Retail property
  • Vacant land and lots

What about Real Estate Investment Strategies?

The same goes for real estate investment strategy. Virtually any real estate investing strategy can be formalized and systemized to create a business model.

These REI strategies include:

  • Wholesaling houses
  • Fixing and flipping homes
  • Acquiring and holding income generating rental properties
  • Commercial real estate investing
  • Mortgage debt investing and note investing
  • Private mortgage lending
  • Options
  • Buying, selling and leasing various real estate related rights
  • New construction

Where can Real Estate Investors find Support in Building a Business?

The majority of new real estate investors may have very little experience in starting and running a real business. So where can they find help in investing more intelligently, and building a real estate business which can produce better returns, and build more wealth over the long term?

Simply relying on out of date books, and trolling online real estate forums may not be well suited for investors that want to invest intelligently and businesslike. Look for an organized real estate course and proven system that has synergy with your big picture goals. Build on this by seeking out a mentor or coaching program which actually offers business building help, or combines both real estate and business.

Is This the Best Approach for Everyone?

Certainly not all investors want to, or are suited to full time investing, or even running a real estate investment business. There is nothing wrong with that. Yet, all can benefit from taking a more businesslike and smarter approach to investment. This applies whether simply renting out your old home, flipping one or two houses a year, or investing capital in real estate startups.

Those that want the best results, with the lowest risk, and see the value in fast tracking to their goals, while avoiding the pitfalls will see the wisdom in educating themselves on this approach to investing, and will incorporate the best elements to suit their personal goals and aspirations.

– See more at: http://www.cthomesllc.com/2014/08/real-estate-investing-business/#sthash.9OdzrkSi.dpuf

Housing Still The Best Investment Tool Of A Lifetime

Many people are still wondering whether or not real estate is one of the best investment strategies for long-term wealth building. Is investing in homes still a smart investment for the average individual? Is a home still the best investment of a lifetime for most Americans? If so, why are some pessimists still questioning the rebound in the news?

Behind the Headlines

Real estate companies will always boast about the benefits of acquiring real estate because it is their job. That is, unless of course, they have gotten into the rental business and make their money by touting the benefits of renting instead. Let’s be honest; statistics can be found and twisted to support any point of view and argument. Entire years of real estate statistics have been revised in the past, new indexes have been created to restart the clock, and even the national GDP was revised. Most don’t even bother to tune into job and unemployment numbers anymore due to how skewed different data sets have become.

Even though the most conservative figures show housing rebounding, especially in hot areas like San Diego, there continue to be doubters. However, it doesn’t take much more than a little common sense to figure out real estate is still the best investment for most of the population. This applies to affluent individuals with top 1% income, as well as those that need to pinch pennies. Stocks have continued to demonstrate extreme volatility and risk. While UT San Diego reports local real estate is still 50% undervalued.

In the stock market, plenty of Americans have lost 6 figures, literally overnight. Direct investment in real estate isn’t that volatile, and nothing is ever lost until a property is sold. For example; some Southern California homeowners saw their home values rise and fall on paper during the last couple of decades, but if they don’t sell for a few more years when prices exceed their previous peak, they will come out handsomely.

Invest in Real Estate, Even if You Can’t Afford Your Dream Home

One of the top excuses for many not to buy a house is that they can afford their ideal dream homes yet. Of course, unless they invest in real estate in some way now, the odds are against them ever being able to afford that dream home. Incomes haven’t been going up, but rents and home prices have. Those wanting to buy a home should not invest any money in stocks or bonds, but should prefer cash. Of course, in reality, cash depreciates too. It can be at risk whether it is in the bank or under the mattress.

Investing in real estate is the best way to build up more wealth and cash to buy that dream home. Can’t find a home you’d live in even for a few years? Then buy a rental property.

Many Americans are sadly being seduced into the lifelong renter mindset without realizing the horrific consequences it could be dooming them to. Consider those paying 50% of income in rent right now. Rents have been going up 20% a year in many places. If rent goes up another 20%, many could be priced out of both buying a home and renting too! Then what?

With Americans living longer, and with company retirement plans evaporating, they also need to consider where they will live for 40 years of retirement on limited income? Even legendary billionaire investor Warren Buffett, with all of his endeavors into energy, insurance companies and holding sizable stakes in companies like Coke and Wells Fargo, still calls his own home his best investment ever.

– See more at: http://www.cthomesllc.com/2014/06/housing-still-best-investment-tool-lifetime/#sthash.9aVRuSgX.dpuf