Monday, July 21, 2008

Some Tips on Investing in Commercial Real Estate

If there is any good thing that has come out of the recent crisis in the mortgage industry in the U.S., it is that some people who have always had an interest in investing in real estate are now finding that dropping prices are making it possible for them to do that. Today, investing in commercial real estate, whether it's residential properties to rent or office and industrial buildings, is quickly becoming a hot ticket item with some. Before you just jump in with both feet so to speak, consider the following tips and cautions.

First off, remember that unlike other investments you might make, commercial real estate is probably going to require quite a bit of your time and attention rather than just your investment dollars. If you're considering taking advantage of the foreclosure crisis by purchasing homes to rent out, this means making sure they're up to code, making needed repairs and remodels, finding tenants, collecting rent, taking care of ongoing repairs and maintenance, and so on. This is also true of office buildings or other commercial real estate. You need to manage tenants, take care of the property and hire landscapers and cleaners, and so on. Yes, you can hire someone to manage the property for you, but even so, there are many decisions that need to be made, invoices to approve, checks to sign, and wages to be paid. This means that no matter what, your investment in commercial real estate is going to be an investment of your time and energy, not just your money.

Another consideration you need to think about is whether or not your investment in any type of commercial real estate is going to be supported over time. When the economic situation in one area is so bad that there are vacancies in homes and office buildings, this means that there may not be enough populace in that area to support your investment. Sometimes buildings and homes are vacant for a reason! You need to seriously research the area in which you plan on investing; is the population growing or shrinking? What industry is in this area to support the population and your real estate investment? Are businesses coming into the area or leaving it? You need to do this research before you get caught up in the hype and excitement of rock bottom real estate prices.

Search the internet and read about real estate investment in Megapolitan Areas to determine if the area you are interested in has the growth potential you will need for a good return on your long term investment strategy. Perhaps you need information on Section 8 Housing. Again the internet is a great place to find information.

Yes, there have been those who have made a fortune in commercial real estate, but usually those millionaires are the exception to the rule. In reality, whether you're thinking of purchasing or building new, commercial real estate is unlike any other industry or investment out there. It requires a lot of research, determination, and commitment to make a success of it; be sure you're ready with all three of these before you invest your money in any venture.

How Do Reverse Mortgages Work

Turn on the television or open up your internet explorer and chances are you'll see ad after ad for reverse mortgages, all of which are targeted toward senior citizens. With so many scams these days that revolve around mortgages, and those geared toward senior citizens, you do well to want to explore all the details of mortgages before ever signing on for such a deal. So, what are they and how do they work? And why are these ads only geared toward seniors?

First of all, it's important to understand that reverse mortgages are advertised to seniors not because they are some type of scam but because they are only available to those 62 and over in the United States. Sorry, but you must be a senior to be eligible.

It's also good to understand how a typical mortgage works. For a regular mortgage, the homeowner borrows a certain amount of money at a certain interest rate and pays monthly payments to the bank. Because of the way the loan is amortized, much of those payments go toward interest, but as the principal of the loan is paid down, the homeowner builds equity in the home. This equity is an important factor in mortgages. Equity in a home simply refers to the fact that the home is now worth more than what the homeowner owes on it; if he or she were to sell the house, that excess amount they would receive over and above the loan amount is equity.
In many cases, a person may buy a home when they are younger and as they pay over the life of the loan, by the time they are a senior citizen the mortgage may be entirely paid off. When they are in their 60's, it's assumed by many that they don't have a mortgage or have very little of the mortgage balance left. The home by this time should have quite a bit of equity in it. This type of mortgages tap into that equity of the home by giving it to the homeowner by way of a monthly "allowance" or one lump sum. Rather than needing to be paid back to the bank every month, however, the mortgage do not become due until the homeowner dies, sells the home, or leaves the home permanently (such as to move to a nursing home or other full-time facility). If there is no payment arrangement at that time, the bank would then seize the home the way they would with a typical mortgage foreclosure.

The Pros and Cons of Reverse Mortgages

You might immediately be thinking of some drawbacks of reverse mortgages. For example, if the homeowner is getting this loan as monthly payments and then he or she dies, chances are there will be no cash reserves with which to pay back the loan. This means the bank is likely to seize the home. For those who had been looking to leave their home to their children or grandchildren as part of an inheritance, this can be a complicated problem. When the home is sold, monies owed for the mortgage get paid first; any and all equity above and beyond that go back to the estate, but this often takes time and of course there are always added fees and costs tacked on when the bank needs to seize a home.

However, reverse mortgages might work for seniors that need cash for their health care or other reasons. If they only take a small amount and leave other cash reserves, such as their 401(k), then there may be a cash reserve from which to repay any mortgage when they become due. Or, seniors who do not have children or do not plan on leaving the home to the children can tap into this money while they are still alive and may need it.

Examining all these details of reverse mortgages is the only way to really be sure if such an arrangement is appropriate for you.

How Do 1031 Deferred Exchanges Work

It seems that no matter what you do with your money or where you put it, the government wants some part of it. You can't even buy a cheap and greasy fast food meal without paying taxes on your plate of poison these days! And when it comes to property sales, many homeowners and sellers are looking for ways to cut back on that tax liability of theirs, and 1031 deferred exchanges may be the answer or at least part of the answer for many. These arrangements have become more and more popular in recent years and many are taking advantage of them. But what exactly are 1031 exchanges, and how do they work? What are the benefits, and what are the requirements? Of course you should consult with an attorney to be sure of all the requirements for you, but we can give you a general review in this brief article.

Paying Taxes on Equity

The government typically assumes that if you sell a home that has equity in it, that amount of money that you make over and above any mortgages or liens on the home should be considered as profit. Typically a seller would then pay taxes on that amount at the end of the year. However, with 1031 deferred exchanges, you may actually put off paying taxes on this home for some time. How so?

The IRS Code provides for a deferment of taxes on the disposal of a property if that property is replaced with the reinvestment of the proceeds from the sale into another property of equal or greater value. The arrangement of 1031 deferred exchanges provides for the idea that there has been no real equity from the sale of the property since it has been traded or exchanged for property of approximately the same value.

Taxes Deferred, Not Excused

It's important to remember that deferred means that your tax bill is not excused; it is simply deferred or put off. When the property you've purchased as a replacement is sold then the original gain you received along with any additional gain from this sale is then subject to taxation. Of course, this is assuming that there will be gain from the sale of the second property, but that tax bill will of course eventually become due.

Benefits of 1031 Deferred Exchanges

Why would a property owner investigate such an option? One of the most obvious benefits of the deferred exchanges is that if you are allowed to defer your tax bill, then you have that money available to you to invest to do what you want with it, rather than making a payment to the government for it. Also, if you are able to defer you tax bill you can then reallocate your investment in your portfolio without immediately paying taxes on those gains.

Requirements for 1031 Deferred Exchanges

Obviously there are some stringent requirements for a property sale and purchase to qualify for exchanges. For one, the value of the replacement property must be equal to or greater than the value of the property that has been sold or exchanged, as must the equity in the replacement property.

Also, the debt on the replacement property must be equal to or greater than the debt on the exchanged property, and all proceeds from the sale of the relinquished property must be used to acquire the replacement property. The seller of the property may not receive the proceeds or take receipt of funds for the sale in any way. The seller also has only 180 days to after the sale of the relinquished property to complete the exchange.

These of course are just some basic requirements for 1031 deferred exchanges. You should of course consult a property attorney before you agree to such an exchange to be sure that your taxes will in fact be deferred.

Consumers Benefit from a Renter's Market

As the housing market continues to slump, more and more people are realizing that for the near future, they are better off renting than buying. This is a significant departure from the past few years where consumers were obsessive about owning their own homes and building up their equity.

However, this is no longer the case. In many locations rents continue to rise but people are finding even these elevated rents are cheaper than what they would pay on a monthly mortgage for a similar property. In some areas, renters are seeing savings of 40 to 50 percent by renting than buying.

Steep increases in property values is one of the reasons for this phenonomen in some areas. Today, buyers who were quick to pull the trigger a few years ago are finding themselved with a need to sell. The problem? They are 'underwater' and they need to sell at property prices from two years ago. These people are finding that renters are not willing to pay more money than a home is worth. In short the frenzy is gone.

Many renters who qualify for mortgages feel they cannot get enough home for their money, especially when they can rent a comparable or larger home for less cash.
As the result of conflicting motivations, experts are quick to point out that the market is neither a buyer's or a seller's market. Instead, it has become a renter's market.

Other renters are holding off on the idea of buying because they are concerned that prices have not yet hit the lowest point. They are primarily concerned that if they purchase a home today it may not be worth the same amount just six months from now. They feel it is far more prudent to wait and see exactly where the housing market will land before they consider buying a home. Other renters are concerned about the upcoming hurricane season. Few have forgotten the hurricane season of just two years ago that devastated many areas. Homeowners in those areas, especially those without insurance, have yet to recover.

While some areas there is a deficit of rental properties, in others homeowners have recognized the prudency of waiting to sell their homes. They are reticent to sell their houses now when it seems wiser to wait and see when the market will stabilize or pick up. In some cases, homeowners are renting out their homes to the scads of renters waiting to take advantage of the opportunity. You even see rental signs on homes for sale. In these cases, renters accept the reality that the home must always be ready and available for showings, they still see the benefit of renting these homes as worth it.

Would-be investors who attempted to get in on the quick profit potential of flipping homes have also discovered that it makes more sense to rent out their properties right now instead of trying to selling them. In some cases, investors are discovering they simply do not have any other options when they must meet mortgage payments every month and are unable to sell their properties. In some cases, this means renting the properties at a loss, creating a negative cash flow.

In fact, this situation has become so much of a problem that landlords in certain niche markets are finding they must cut rents in order to create even a small amount of cash flow. These investors have quickly discovered that it is far better to rent right away at a loss than wait several months to try and attain the amount of rent they really need. Although landlords are often upside down on most of these properties, renting them out has proven to be the safest method, at least for now.

A Look at the Future of the Housing Market

In some of the worst housing markets in the country, deflation has reached double-digit proportions. While housing woes have reached around the country, California appears to be poised to rank among the worse. One of the primary reasons for this is the fact that in the last several months California has experienced the largest rate of deflating home prices. In fact, home prices in California have fallen at levels that have been unprecedented.

Miami, Florida is proving to be a very difficult market also. A weak mortgage market and record high foreclosures have led to a fall in home prices as well. Over the past 2 years, Miami has had one of the worst housing markets in the country. The high flying condo boom of just a few years ago has added to the problems of the current massive real estate bust.

The high flying Florida and California markets may have been easy to predict as being the first ones to crumble when the real estate market took a turn, there are other markets on the verge of falling that were not so easy to see. In hindsight, it is easy to see the rapid increase in home values during the recent boom as an indicator of the coming crash.

Other markets, however, did not rise as much or as quickly, which could be one reason why they have managed to avoid reaching the top of the list; at least until now. These markets include Nevada, Indiana, Arizona and Massachusetts. Declining home prices as well as high rates of foreclosures in these states are also contributing to their worsening real estate market conditions. In Michigan, where layoffs have been significant, the economy is playing a strong role.

In the coming months, several million adjustable rate mortgages are scheduled to be reset which will only lead to an increase in problems for all markets. In the face of higher payments on their adjustable rate mortgages more and more homeowners will find themselves with the harsh reality of being unable to pay their mortgages. These homeowners will either face a short sell on their homes or an unpleasant foreclosure as refinancing options dry up.

According to most statistics, the remainder of 2008 is still poised for problems in the housing market. Many statistics indicate that home values could continue to drop and new homes could experience a loss of up to 18 percent before the year is out. While there are some indications that the market could begin to level off at the end of 2008 or the beginning of 2009, many experts are quick to warn that when the market does begin to rebound it will not reach the point where it left off. In comparison to the housing peak of 2005, the rebounded market could still be quite a bit lower. Part of the reason for this is that in many areas, prices escalated so quickly that there is simply no way for prices to rebound back to that point.

Still, there may be some hope for certain areas. In many markets sub-prime mortgages have either left the market through quick sales or foreclosure. The stimulus package that is on the horizon is anticipated to help the housing market in many areas.

First-time home buyers are going to find relief much sooner than current home owners. Most homeowners are still reticent to sell and lose the paper equity they once had in their homes. Most homeowners aren't facing up to the reality that they can no longer get the same prices for their homes they could command just a few short years ago.

Rid yourself of the worry about who is going to own your home. Arm yourself with the knowledge to avoid the foreclosure of your home.

Stage Yourself to Sell: Image is Everything

When you're in the business of turning drab and cluttered interiors into beautifully polished spaces, it's important you look the part of someone that can successfully do that. In other words, when you're staging homes to sell, you should stage yourself to sell. One of the easiest ways to catapult your business to success is to act as though you are already successful. Do you play the part of a very successful home stager? I'd like you to keep this in mind as you read through this article -- are you portraying the image of a professional expert home stager, or a rookie?

Everyone starts somewhere, but nobody has to know you're brand new at staging homes professionally. In fact, it's a bad idea to tell a homeowner they're your first home staging project. Don't lie about it if you're asked, but your demeanor, wardrobe, marketing materials and portfolio shouldn't leave any room for the homeowner to guess you haven't been doing this for years. This is the perfect time of year to work on this - in the summer before the real estate market really picks up. Dedicate some of your downtime to polishing your image for the months when real estate agents will be hunting for home stagers!

In everything you do that's business-related ask yourself if it's something a successful home stager would be doing. Pick a couple of the home stagers you look up to and keep an image of them in your mind. When you're getting ready for a home staging consultation and wondering what to wear, visualize your model home stager and ask yourself what she or he might wear to a client meeting.

What do you wear to your home staging consultation appointments? Are you dressing like that successful home stager in your mind? Or are you wearing an old suit that went out of style five years ago? The way you look can not only change the way you feel about yourself, but it can change the way people perceive you. Especially since looking put-together makes you feel more confident in what you're doing.

It's important to carry yourself well -- don't act like your life depends on your next home staging project. Even if you are desperate don't let that come across to your client. Do you think someone who has been staging homes for years giggles with excitement when they get awarded a job? Probably not in front of the client!

Consider your current personal image. What are you wearing right now? Is the image you're putting out there in the world that of a wildly successful home stager? Even if it's a day that you have no appointments and you're at home you shouldn't be walking around in pajamas. If you dress the part of that successful home stager you'll find it easier to remain in professional mode and you'll almost certainly be more productive.

What about your business' image?

What would happen if a client called you right now? If you answer, would they hear screaming kids in the background? Worse, does one of your children answer? If you have children at home, either let your calls to go voicemail or hire a sitter! If you've started a home staging business to have more time at home with your children, that's fine. But you should consider investing in childcare for blocks of time throughout the week so you have a few windows of time where you are able to focus on your clients and your business. It's difficult to grow a business when you have small children and no childcare. When your clients do get your voicemail, what sort of greeting do you have? Is it a hokey family sing-along-song or a professional message detailing your alternate contact information? You must inspire confidence in those potential clients that call you, and if they're turned off from your phone image, you won't hear from them again. In course 2 of the Staging Diva® Training Program, "The Business of Home Staging: What you need to start and how to grow," there is a very specific script for a professional outgoing voice mail message that will let callers know they've reached a legitimate business.

How about your marketing materials? Do they present a professional image of yourself and your business? Do you have nice heavy business cards or some homemade perforated-edged business cards with faded ink? Your marketing materials represent your business when you're not in front of your prospective clients. Look at your materials objectively. Do they look like something that would be produced by a mega-successful home stager? Or is it obvious they're a do-it-yourself job? If you can't afford the $75 it costs to get a year's supply of cards printed, you should reconsider being in business for yourself.

Your website is also a very important piece of your marketing kit. You must have one. Staging Diva Graduates have the option to put up a profile page on the Staging Diva Directory of Home Stagers which is the next best thing to a website and it's much less expensive to set up and maintain. Some stagers get so much business from their profile page on the directory they never get around to building their own site. In any case, a potential client is going to want a link to where they can look at some before and after photos of projects you've done and learn more about you. Invest in this. Your first home staging project should cover the costs, and if you're not online you're not going to be found very easily.

When you communicate with clients via email, you really shouldn't use a "hotmail" or "yahoo" account. Gmail seems to be more acceptable than the others, but it's still not as good as Even if your website isn't ready yet, when you purchase your domain name you can still set up an email account. When you send an email, make sure you write a descriptive subject line and have set up a proper signature line. Your signature should include your name, business name, email address, phone number and link to your portfolio. Make it easy for people to find out more -- they don't really want to call you. In the event that your email is forwarded to someone else, you really want them to have all your contact details.
Your home staging portfolio should be professional, polished, and impressive. Even if you're new to this, you should have lots of photos from staging your own and your family and friends' homes. DO NOT use stock photography. This is cheating and it's just not a good idea. Some new stagers think this is a good way to fluff up a portfolio, but it's tacky and it falls under the ‘deceptive advertising' category. All of your credibility can be lost if (or when) you get caught passing someone else's work off as your own.

So when you consider all of these items, are you staged to sell? Would you hire yourself based on the image you're projecting?

Role of a Buyers Agent -- Property Buying Help

You saw the advert in newspaper. It says affordable yet luxurious apartments at prime location in the city. You called the toll free number and the representative told you that all the apartments had been booked already except few expensive ones.

You were late! By the time you reached to the sales representatives crossing the hurdles of call waiting and busy signal, all the apartments had been reserved by others. But how those buyers got the information? How could they be so fast? Chances are they contacted buyers' agent for property buying help!

Buyers agents - who are they?

Buyers agents work as mediators between property buyers and property sellers. They actively help both the parties get the deal done satisfactorily. You can always search properties by your own, but then you may face experiences as mentioned above. Buyers' agents help you find affordable properties suitable for your requirements.

There are many advantages of using buyers agent when it comes to buy or sell property. Let's learn the advantages of working with buyers' advocate:

More options in your hand:

Buyers agents in all countries have strong networks; information about vacant properties or properties for sale reach to them quickly. When you use a buyers' advocate you get to use their network and doors to a wide range of properties open before you.

Buyers advocate may have special connections with real estate agents; as a result, they get information about new developments even before the project is marketed. As a property buyer you can make full use of this facility by dealing with buyers agents.
Find suitable property in an unknown city:

When you plan to relocate to a new place, chances are you do not know anybody there. Buyers agent can help you find suitable properties in the new city. For example, if you are planning to buy home or buy investment property Queensland and you are new in the Queensland, a buyers' advocate can be of immense help.

Property advisors also guide you on how to choose the type of property. If your objective is to invest in properties, rather than buying a home for living, your advisor may suggest you invest in timeshare properties too. Just select the place where you want to buy investment properties and leave everything else on your buyers' advocate.
Save time and money:

While searching properties yourself, you will look at newspapers, search internet and ask your acquaintances for help. Instead, just call your buyer's agent and let them search properties for you. Once they find suitable property in the city, they will inform you right on.

Real estate investor and investment business

Investing in real estate could lead you true long wealth and financial independence. This business is the only key to the lock named insecurity. So do start planning your investment wisely today. You would grow in the real estate business into a cash-producing machine that runs itself through the changing market trends. A real estate investor and investment business is highly profitable.

Some basic strategies could be used successfully in all market conditions. Do become educated in your home market first by understanding the large- scale tendency form worldwide national, regional and specific neighborhoods. You also need to learn about the target neighborhoods, enlisting the support of successful real estate investor professionals.
Here are the best 10 steps and tips to start a business in real estate investments and investors

1. Decide whether you desire to become a real estate investor broker or to hire a broker. Either way, a broker should be in charge of the real estate investments side of the business.
2. Decide if you desire to purchase a franchise or to start an independent real estate company.
3. Find a place to set up your business. A real estate company must have high visibility from a busy street, as people frequently come into a real estate office on the spur of the moment.
4. Get a business license through your city or county. Find out what other requirements there are for set up a new business.
5. Contact the local board of realtors or become a member. Membership would give you access to the latest laws and new regulations in the industry.
6. Become known in the society by joining local real estate agent tours.
7. Become an associate of the local chamber of commerce.
8. Employ real estate investment agents. Choose agents who have the same goals and like to work with ethics as you do.
9. Get listings (properties to be sold).
10. Market your company and your listings.


If you want to develop into a broker, it would take time to get your license. Check with the section of real estate investments in your state to find out what the requirements are.
In some markets, getting property listings is difficult. If you are in such a market, try to do safe listings by networking with friends, neighbors and any other connections you have.

How the Real Estate Agent Appeals to the Prospect's Sense of Protection

Have you ever seen a dog run under a porch when it was raining? All animals and human beings know the importance of having shelter readily accessible. Self-preservation is the law of nature that needs no teaching. A person is going to have shelter, even if they have to sleep in a cave, or under a tunnel.

Threaten to take away a man's home and you will have a fight on your hands.

The real estate salesman has the opportunity to satisfy a human need and reap the benefit of a nice profit for themselves. But satisfying the customer's needs and wants may not be that easy.
The real estate salesman may think they've found the perfect house for the prospect. The house is very attractive on the outside, but on later inspection of the property the real estate agent finds corners were cut by the builder on construction. The builder sacrificed protection for good looks.
When it rains the basement gets flooded with water. There is evidence of mold on the basement walls. The heating system is bad and the air conditioning unit only cools part of the house. And it's infested with vermin. And the neighborhood is filled with undesirable citizens. The real estate salesman couldn't give this house away, let alone sell It.

When a customer looks for a home they seek comfort and safety. The basic instinct of self-protection comes into play. The prospect will want to know the qualities of the materials used to build this house. Is it fire safe? Can it stand up against strong winds? Will the windows keep out the cold? How thick are the walls? Are there secure locks on the doors and windows? Does the roof leak? Is it a safe neighborhood?

The customer isn't only interested in the beauty of the property, they want comfort and safety. By appealing to the prospect's basic instinct of self-protection the real estate agent is more likely to meet all the demands the buyer wants in a property. And they may close more sales.

Foreclosure Mortgage Lenders - Are the Loans Worth It?

Would you like to make a profit from a house that has been foreclosed or forgotten? You may want to make money with houses that are or have been in foreclosure. Whether you are looking for a home or something you can renovate and sell, you could get a good deal by working with any of the foreclosure mortgage lenders. Your can make the choice that benefits you most.
A foreclosed home means there is a lender that needs to sell a property immediately. The accrual of taxes and the fact that a piece of property is not earning money means that a lender needs to sell. Time is most important to the lender when it comes to re-selling the foreclosed property.

As a buyer this is where you want to come in. The mortgage lender has four stages in the process of foreclosing. Knowing what to do at each stage is the key to making a successful turnover in the foreclosure process.

Pre-foreclosure is when the buyers are getting late on their payments and the lender begins to notify them that foreclosure is coming, at this point a lump sum of money is due. Some people just cannot make the payments and may be searching for a buyer during this first 90 days. Trying to save their credit score may be the motivation for a property owner at this point. Since timing is critical, it is important to work with an experienced lender that knows how to handle pre-foreclosure properties.

Once the 90 day mark has passed a property reaches stage 2 of the foreclosure process. The lender must process all the paperwork to auction the property by advertising a notice of Trustee sale. During this time you would do your research to find out if the property is worth investing in or not. The date of the auction will be soon and there is usually plenty of willing buyers ready to steal the deal.

At the auction is stage three. Day 120 has arrived. The city or county courthouse steps or any type of public place is where the auction is held. You will need to have cash or a cashiers check ready to show the auctioneer that you have the ability to purchase the property. If no one bids on the house, the property is now owned by the lender.

This brings us to day 121, the bank bidder out bid the others in the best interest of the lender or no one was qualified to bid on the property. Some auctions no one even shows up to bid, so the property defaults to the lender. This is how foreclosures lists are built, with properties such as these, then the lists are sold or given to certain companies for free.

Foreclosure mortgage lenders know more about who will pay and who will not pay, based on their experience, you will only need to prove that you are a serious buyer with every intention of making good on the loan. Another thing to keep an eye out for, especially in areas that have had disasters or abandoned homes, is the distress sale lists. You dream house may be just a click away!

Have a Marketing Plan in Place with Selling Bahamas Real Estate

March 9, 2008 --NASSAU, BAHAMAS-- Having a real estate marketing plan in place when selling Bahamas real estate can increase opportunities for a profitable sale.
A well thought-out plan also enables a Realtor to work smarter, not harder, said Rachel Pinder, Principle Broker of Nassau Bahamas real estate

A good real estate marketing plan will detail the Realtor's marketing strategy, Pinder said. Sellers should look for their Realtor's marketing plan to clearly specify the goals and objectives to be achieved over a specific time period. The plan also should lay out the various strategies to be followed in achieving those goals and strategies. Marketing plan strategies will involve the definition of the target market and the types of media and sales promotions to be used. A good plan also should include a competitive marketing analysis on the seller's property. Other elements home sellers should look for include the Realtor sending a feature sheet of the property listing out to other real estate agents.

It is important that a real estate marketing plan not overlook the obvious elements, such as outlining how the property will be advertised in local newspapers, real estate magazines and the Internet.

If it is determined the property might attract foreign buyers, it is important that the Realtor target foreign newspapers and magazines, Pinder said.

Every seller hopes to sell their property quickly, but it doesn't always happen, she said. In that event, it is important that a real estate marketing plan include actions to take if the property is on the market more than 60 days without selling. "The Realtor should meet with the seller to determine why the property has not sold and, if applicable, reduce the listed price and remarket it," Pinder said. An effective marketing plan also should delineate the responsibilities of the seller- not just the Realtor- for carrying out the plan and accomplishing the goal of a profitable sale. "I think one misconception is that real estate marketing plans only outline what the Realtor is supposed to do," she said. "The seller has a responsibility in this process, too, and they should want to take partial ownership in the process to ensure a successful, timely outcome."

Selling Your Home: 10 Tips for Choosing a Real Estate Agent

Chances are, your home represents the largest purchase you have ever made. What's more, your home is not just a financial investment, but an emotional investment as well. When you decide to sell, be sure to enlist the services of a real estate agent who has the knowledge, experience, and understanding that will be necessary to navigate you safely and securely through every aspect of the selling process.

Before you sell, it's a good idea to interview at least two or three different real estate agents. Meet with them individually, and handle each meeting as if you were conducting a job interview (selling your home is an important job, after all!). This checklist will help you evaluate and compare the agents you meet:

1 --Professional

Once you've established the basics (licensing status, etc.), look for other indications that the agent will handle your home sale professionally. Does he or she belong to any local real estate organizations? In Manhattan, for example, The Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY) tracks credentials and continuing education of its members, and provides many valuable resources for members, sellers, and home purchasers.

What sort of training did the sales agent receive? You'll find that this may range from the minimum required for licensing, to a full-time company training program of six weeks or more. Also ask if the agent has done any advanced training. Perhaps he or she has taken extra courses and exams to become a licensed broker, an accredited home-staging specialist, an appraiser, etc.

Do a bit of research, too, in order to learn as much as you can about the company the agent works for. Is it a company with a strong reputation in your area? Does it specialize in your neighborhood, or your type of property? Does the company provide its sales agents with the most up-to-date technology?

2 -- Knows the Market

In order to price and market your home effectively, your real estate agent will need to have a thorough understanding of your neighborhood in particular, and state of the real estate market in general. Expect to see "comps" (comparable properties) of similar homes that have sold recently, as well as those that are currently on the market. And find out what other techniques the agent will use to determine the best price -- and best marketing strategies -- for your home.

Has the agent sold in your neighborhood? Has he or she sold similar types of homes, perhaps in another neighborhood? Has the agent ever lived in your area? Is he or she familiar with the neighborhood schools? Restaurants? Museums? Ask lots of questions to find out how well the agent will be able to represent you, and your home, to prospective purchasers.

3 -- Accessible

Buyers will want to see your property at all times of day -- daytimes, evenings, and weekends. So be sure you hire an agent who is available full time, and accessible to you virtually around the clock to handle any questions you may have, or issues that may arise.

And remember, accessibility is a two-way street! Be sure to support your agent by making your home as accessible as possible for showings -- even when it feels a bit inconvenient to you.

4 -- Good Listener

When you interview real estate agents, give extra points to those who ask as many questions as you do. Did the agent arrive with a 'standard' presentation, or is he or she able to make -- or adjust -- his or her recommendations based on what comes up in your conversation?
How interested is the agent in learning your point of view? How many questions does he or she ask about your personal goals and needs? After all, pricing and sales strategies could vary substantially based on what you're looking to accomplish (for example, you may need to sell quickly to meet a job relocation deadline, need to work around an existing tenant, or simply want to make the most profit no matter what the timeline).

5 -- Tells the Truth (even when you don't want to hear it!)

Expect that a good real estate agent will challenge you once in a while, ask the tough questions, and yes, even disagree with you occasionally. When he or she makes a recommendation that seems off-base, give your agent the opportunity to give you the facts -- and share his or her knowledge and experience -- before making a final decision. Learn to trust your agent's intuition, insights, and perspectives; they'll often lead you in the right direction.

6 --Team Player

Your real estate agent should be able to recommend a great team of professionals to support your sale -- from mortgage brokers and appraisers, to cleaning services and real estate attorneys.

Be sure, also, that your real estate agent enlists the help of other agents in your area in order to bring you the best buyer. In Manhattan, for example, more than 95 percent of sales are co-broked (one sales agent representing the seller, another the buyer), so it's especially important to work with someone who actively markets to other agents, and other real estate companies.

7 -- Helps Prepare Your Home for the Sale

There are entire books written on how to get your home ready for a sale, so we won't go into great detail here. Be sure to ask your real estate agent whether renovations -- particularly to the kitchen or bathrooms -- make sense. Decide if any re-painting -- or paint touch-ups -- may be necessary to make your home more attractive to buyers.

However you decide to proceed, be sure to follow these four basic steps before inviting buyers in to see your home: 1) de-clutter, to make your rooms seem larger; 2) de-personalize, to keep prospective buyers' attention on your home, rather than on your 'stuff;' 3) repair everything that's not in good working order, from re-caulking to replacing light bulbs; and 4) clean, clean, clean -- until your home literally shines!

8 -- Buyer to Closing

Remember that finding an interested buyer is only the beginning. Be sure your real estate agent is well prepared to qualify the buyer, negotiate aggressively on your behalf, and assist the buyer in finding financing, if necessary. Your agent should be ready to follow through with banks and mortgage brokers, any other agents involved in the deal, and with the real estate attorneys, until the sale is complete.

And if you're selling a home in Manhattan, be sure you have a real estate agent who is adept at preparing the materials necessary for the board application package, following through with the management company, and if it's a co-op sale, preparing the buyer for the board interview.

9 -- Gives Timely Updates

Throughout the sales process, ask that your real estate agent stay in touch with you regularly, in the way that's most comfortable to you (in person, or by phone, email, or text messages). He or she should give you regular progress updates, and timely notice of any issues that may arise -- along with potential solutions, of course.

It's also likely that a good real estate agent will suggest changes to sales and marketing strategies along the way. These minor course corrections will help eliminate any less effective efforts, and capitalize on what's working best. The result? Finding the buyer you're looking for, more quickly.

10 -- The Relationship

Don't underestimate the importance of your real estate agent's personality when you choose your selling partner. You'll be spending a lot of time with them -- and entrusting them with one of the most important transactions of your life. So be sure to find someone you not only trust and respect, but also look forward to working with.

Buying a New Home: 10 Reasons to Use a Real Estate Agent

Many home buyers try to find the perfect property on their own. No surprise, actually. With internet access to more real estate information than ever before, it's fairly easy for anyone who's computer literate to access a list of available properties in every part of the country.

Why, then, should a buyer enlist the services of a real estate agent? Here are ten reasons that I think make a lot of sense. After reading them, see if you agree:

1 -- Experience

Purchasing a new home may well be the largest expenditure that you ever make. So it simply makes good business sense to enlist all the help you can get.

A seasoned real estate agent has completed more real estate transactions already this year than you'll likely make in your lifetime. That adds up to a whole lot of knowledge and experience. Experience that can help navigate you safely and securely through every aspect of the buying process.

2 -- Knows the Market

A real estate agent will know what's happening in a particular area, or neighborhood, and help you decide if a home you find is a good value. Once you find a property that interests you, your agent will show you "comps" (comparable properties) of similar homes that have sold recently, as well as those that are currently on the market.

And if your real estate agent works with an established firm, he or she will have instant access to a host of proprietary tools -- and property information -- that may be difficult, or even impossible, to find on your own. All this information will help you make a well-informed decision.

3 -- Saves Time

A good real estate agent is an organizational genius. He or she will manage to get you in to see new properties as soon as they become available -- and arrange the most appointments possible within your available time slots, no matter how limited.
But remember, accessibility is a two-way street! Be sure to support your agent by being as flexible as possible -- especially when your time is very limited.

4 -- Good Listener

If you decide to use a real estate agent, look for someone who asks as many questions as you do. When you mention a price range, does the agent give you a 'standard' list of available properties, or is he or she able to make -- or adjust -- his or her recommendations based on what comes up in your conversations?

How interested is the agent in listening to your point of view? How many questions does he or she ask? After all, your real estate agent's recommendations should vary substantially based on your personal needs and goals (for example, you may be starting a family, need to configure your new home to accommodate an office, need space for your son's new car, or be downsizing).

5 -- Tells the Truth (even when you don't want to hear it!)

Expect that a good real estate agent will challenge you once in a while, ask the tough questions, and yes, even disagree with you occasionally. When he or she makes a recommendation that seems off-base, give your agent the opportunity to give you the facts -- and share his or her knowledge and experience -- before making a decision. Learn to trust your agent's intuition, insights, and perspectives; they'll often lead you in the right direction.

6 -- Respects Your Budget

One of the most important things that your real estate agent will do is help you determine how much you can afford to spend. He or she may well ask you to consult with your accountant, financial planner, and/or mortgage broker before you make this important decision.
In some markets, there's a lot more to purchasing an apartment than having cash for the down payment, and securing financing. For example, most Manhattan cooperative buildings ('co-ops'), which account for about 75 percent of the properties in the city, will also look at your debt-to-income ratio (DTI), and your post-closing liquidity (yes, it can be a bit complicated!).
A good real estate broker will understand the particulars of your market, and help you find a terrific housing solution that you'll be able to qualify for financially -- and that will be possible within your budget.

7 -- Team Player

Your real estate agent should be able to recommend a great team of professionals to support your purchase -- from mortgage brokers and appraisers, to contractors and designers and real estate attorneys.

8 -- Getting to Closing

Remember that finding the right property is only the beginning. Be sure your real estate agent is well prepared to negotiate aggressively on your behalf, and assist you in finding financing, if necessary. Your agent should be ready to follow through with your bank or mortgage broker, any other agents involved in the deal, and with your real estate attorney, until the purchase is complete.

And if you're purchasing a home in Manhattan, be sure you have a real estate agent who is adept at helping you put together the materials necessary for the board application package, following through with the management company, and if it's a co-op purchase, preparing you for the board interview.

9 -- Gives Timely Updates

Throughout the buying process, stay in touch with your real estate agent regularly. He or she should give you regular updates on new properties, any changes in the local real estate market, mortgage rate changes, and so on. And you should update your real estate agent right away should any of your priorities change, or if your research turns up a property you may be interested in seeing. The result of working together closely? Finding just the home you're looking for, more quickly.

10 -- The Relationship

Don't underestimate the importance of personality when you choose your real estate agent. You'll be spending a lot of time with them -- and entrusting them with one of the most important transactions of your life. So be sure to find someone you not only trust and respect, but also look forward to working with.

Buying a New Home: Save Time and Money with this 10-Point Checklist

When money's not an issue, it's absolutely possible to get virtually everything you want in your new home -- from size, to building type, to location. But money is almost always an issue. And that's where this checklist comes in.

By taking a good close look at your wants, needs, and priorities -- before you begin your search -- you'll be more likely to end up purchasing a new home that meets all of your requirements, at a price you can afford.

PART I: Finding Your Style

Grab a piece of paper now, and write (yes, write!) a detailed description of your preferences in the following categories:

1 -- Budget: Okay, let's start with the tough one. How much can you afford to spend? How much do you really want to spend? When figuring out your budget, be sure to look at down payment, closing costs, monthly expenses (mortgage, common charges, etc.), and assets available after closing.

2 -- Living Space: What size home do you have now? Will you need more space -- or less -- in your new home? Will you need any multi-purpose rooms (for example, a family room/home office)? A formal dining room, or eat-in kitchen? Any kids-only -- or adults-only -- areas?

3 -- Bedrooms: How many bedrooms do you need now? How many do you think you will need in five years?

4 -- Bathrooms: How many do you really need? Could a half-bath work for you?

5 -- Building Style: Pre-war or modern? Single family home, townhouse, or high-rise? Any particular architectural style (Tudor, Victorian, Craftsman, etc.)?

6 -- Special Features: High ceilings? One-floor layout, or multi-level? Loft space? Architectural detail? Designer touches? Open plan? Special windows? Outdoor space? Newly renovated? Views?

7 -- Building Amenities: In a large building, consider whether you'll need a doorman, concierge, laundry room, health club, roof deck, bike room, live-in super, storage space, parking.
If you're purchasing a single-family home -- or in a smaller building -- think about whether you'll need an elevator, garage, basement/attic, garden, yard, privacy fencing, etc.

8 -- Special Considerations: Will this be your primary residence, or an investment property? Are you willing to renovate? If so, fixer-upper, or total wreck? Do you need handicap access or parking? Do you have a pet?

9 -- Neighborhood: Downtown or suburban? Lively or quiet? Near shopping, restaurants, parks, or museums? In a particular school district? Near public transportation? Easy commute to your job? Anything else?

10 -- Timing: Do you have a lease that's expiring? Do you need to sell your home before you purchase? Do you have a target moving date in mind? Can you be flexible in order to accommodate the seller?

PART II: Getting Down to Business

Now that you know what your "dream home" looks like, it's time to make that dream a reality -- within your budget!
Take a few minutes to go through your answers to Part I, and determine which things you'd put in the "Can't Live Without" category. Be realistic, and be tough. Don't put anything on this list that you could be a bit more flexible about.

Next, circle the things that you'd really love to have in your new home; the characteristics, or details, or amenities that are true priorities for you. Do certain things -- or certain categories -- stand out? Do you notice any trends?

And then simply cross out anything you wrote that no longer seems important.
When you begin looking for your new home -- or when you meet with your real estate agent (more about finding a great one, here) -- be sure to have your "Can't Live Without" list, and the description of your priorities, handy. With these parameters in mind, be as flexible -- and open to the unexpected -- as you can.

This well-thought-out reminder of what's really important to you will help keep you focused and on track during your search for a new home. And it may even help you recognize a hidden jewel that you might have otherwise overlooked.

Bahamas Real Estate Company Touts Perks of The Residence At Atlantis

April 27, 2008 --NASSAU, BAHAMAS-- Atlantis has long been known as a premier hotel in the Bahamas, and now there is an opportunity to own your own piece of Bahamas real estate at Atlantis.

The Residences at Atlantis, operating as The Reef, offer a combination of residential elegance and amenities often reserved for vacation resorts, said Rachel Pinder, principle broker of Island Living Real Estate in Nassau, Bahamas.
The residences are a good investment because owners can use them for several months a year and still have the opportunity to rent them out the rest of the year and get an income from it, Pinder said. Another bonus is that the management and rentals are all handled in house, so the owner doesn't have to do anything.
"This should be really attractive for those persons seeking to escape the harsh winters of the U.S., Canada and Europe," she said.
The Reef is a 22-story, 495-unit condominium built by Turnberry, which has a reputation for quality and luxury, Pinder said. Features include a seaside swimming pool, fitness center, luxury spa, professional staff, 24-hour security and access to the many amenities of Atlantis.

"The little touches of luxury provided to those who live at The Reef will make a condo owner feel as though they are vacationing in their own designer-furnished residence," Pinder said. Learn More For additional information about purchasing a unit in The Reef, please visit Island Living's Web site:, or call them for a consultation: 1-242-322-7979/80.
About Island Living Real Estate Island Living Real Estate has more than 25 years of experience in real estate sales and rentals throughout the Bahamas. Island Living's main office is located in one of Nassau's oldest historic buildings on Bay Street, named "Red Roofs." Red Roofs was built in 1896 and has been home to various families, a Gourmet Deli and now Island Living.
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