Category Archives: investors

How I Built a $1.3M Real Estate Portfolio for the Cost of a 1-Bedroom in NYC

  

Hand of Business people calculating interest, taxes and profits to invest in real estate and home buying

Is this crazy? I sat there with my 23-year-old head spinning—looking at the first $400,000 multifamily rehab project that I had just put under contract.

You’ve probably asked yourself (at least) a couple times if it’s crazy to get into real estate, too. If you asked your friends and family instead, they probably immediately answered, “Yes!”—followed by a spiel about whatever aspect of managing a real estate business that scares them most.

Maybe they mentioned the risk of a market crash, the challenge of dealing with tenants, or the pitfalls of negotiating with contractors. It’s only human. We fear risk.

We fear risk even when our fears are irrational.

Even if you drink the real estate Kool-Aid and know that real estate can be an amazing way to build wealth, the fear probably hits you each time you’re about to write an offer on a building. Do I really know what I’m getting myself into?

Right Before the Plunge

On that night in May 2017, I was on the verge of taking what—to many people—would look like the biggest risk of my young life. I was 23, had recently graduated from college, and had barely six months of real estate experience. This project would pit me and my business partner against countless situations we were not prepared for, faced with countless questions we didn’t know the answers to.

Luckily, as real estate investors, it’s not our job to know the answers. It’s our job to know the numbers.

The numbers on our first rehab deal told us that even in our worst-case scenario—even if everything that people warned us about went wrong—taking the plunge would get us closer to financial freedom than sitting “safely” on the sidelines ever could.

Why are we comfortable losing money, as long as we know how much we’re going to lose?

As a recent grad, most of my college friends ended up in big cities on the coasts.

Related: Mastering Turnkey Real Estate: How to Build a Passive Portfolio

In 2017, the median rent in Manhattan was $3,150 a month. According to Rent Jungle, the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in San Francisco was even higher: $3,334 a month. Over the course of a year, that adds up to $40,000 in rent for a one-bedroom apartment.

For reference, the median family income in the city of St. Louis is $52,000 a year. In St. Louis, that money can buy buildings.

On the coasts, it buys you the right to spend up to 39 percent more than the national average on basic necessities like groceries. The costs are pretty crazy, but the craziest part is that spending a family’s annual salary on rent is somehow considered a perfectly normal financial decision for a young person to make.

Young people spend that money with no expectation of getting a return. Rent, groceries, and transportation are costs—not investments.

What is the risk of embarking on a rehab project compared to the 100 percent certainty of spending $40,000 a year on rent?

How We Measure Risk

Risk is exposure to uncertainty. Because of this, renting doesn’t feel like a risk. Neither does spending a lot to live in a big coastal city. The costs are large, but they’re constant. We know them up front: $40,000, paid in tidy, predictable monthly increments.

Or do we?

What is the real risk of renting away your twenties—and how do you compare it to the risk of a rehab project? Does renting in a big city make your financial future—not in 10 months, but in 10 years—more certain or less so?

When you’re embarking on a rehab project, uncertainty stares you in the face. The risks are all right ahead of you, a landmine of knowns unknowns:

  • Do we have our contractors lined up in the right order?
  • Have we done everything we need to pass inspection?
  • Will we hit our rent targets once all the work is done?
  • Is it cheaper to fix this or replace it?

Those seem like hard questions to answer. Small wonder that most people warn you away from real estate.

Except when you’re following a safe, “normal” path, uncertainty isn’t gone. It’s just waiting for you out of sight.

Five years from now, will I be working at a job I don’t like? Or will I be free and doing the things that matter to me most in life?

Ten years from now, will I have the resources to protect what I love? To support my family, friends, and community?

Those are hard questions to answer.

For me, those questions would have been impossible to answer if I lived in a big city on the coast, took a fancy job where I was well paid but spent most of my salary on rent and groceries, and had to spend most of my time working for someone else.

We are conditioned to deal with long-term uncertainty the same way we’re taught to deal with short-term risk: by avoiding it.

But avoiding risks doesn’t make them go away. It doesn’t teach us anything. It doesn’t get us any closer to answering life’s hardest questions.

The numbers on our first rehab deal told me two things. In the worst-case scenario, I would come out of the deal not losing any more money than someone who chose to rent in a big city. In the worst-case scenario, I would come out of the deal with an education that would allow me to take control of my financial future.

I could live with that.

The Numbers Tell the Story

My business partner, Ben Mizes, and I started our real estate portfolio with an FHA loan. We were only required to put a small down payment on a relatively stress-free, low-maintenance fourplex.

Five months later, we were planning to borrow $315,000 from the bank and $105,000 from private family investors and spend as much of our own time, sweat, and money as it took to come out the other side of our first four-unit rehab.

The project would be our first BRRRR (or buy, rehab, rent, refinance, repeat).

We were upgrading kitchens, bathrooms, and AC units to bring the rents up from $825 per door to $1,400 per door—a 70 percent increase.

With renovations complete, Ben and I would try to appraise the building for $700,000. Depending on the lender, you can borrow between 70 to 85 percent of a building’s appraised value. In this range, as long as we hit our numbers, we could completely repay our investors, recoup our costs, and walk away owning a cash-flowing castle.

The potential upside was clear. Just as important, we looked at our downside.

Ben and I modeled a worst-case, “do-nothing” scenario, trying to understand what would happen to us if we got stuck and couldn’t complete the rehab at all.

What Could Go Wrong? 

Well, plenty.

Ben and I had a contract to buy the building for $420,000. At the closing table, the seller would credit us for the $20,000 worth of repairs that had to be done immediately: fixing a collapsed sewer, repainting and sealing damaged windows, and replacing falling fascia boards.

Note: We always, always, ALWAYS make our buildings watertight before doing anything else. If they aren’t watertight when we buy them, we negotiate for repair credits to fix problems on the seller’s dime—immediately upon closing.

The $20,000 repair credit provided by the seller brought our effective purchase price to $400,000. Combined, our mortgage payments, taxes, and insurance came out to $2,277 per month.

The numbers told us we could make our mortgage payments comfortably, even in its current (read: very rough) condition. The building was generating income of $3,350 per month, or about $825 per door.

Assuming we got completely stuck and had to keep renting the units out for their present value of $825, we would have $1,073 per month with which to pay all of our fixed and variable expenses. Utilities and HOA fees (the building is in a private subdivision with an annual assessment) came out to $380 per month, leaving $693 a month to deal with variable expenses.

In a worst-case scenario, we would be self-managing to save on property management fees. That would still leave us with vacancy, repairs, and maintenance costs, and the need to set aside money each month for a capital expense escrow.

Was $693 really enough?

Under our most-conservative model, we planned to put aside $10,000 each year for repairs and escrow. After five years, that equals $50,000 put into proactive maintenance—enough to deal with a roof, a complete tuck-pointing redo, and major structural repairs.

Then, we figured 10 percent vacancy cost—high for the area but not impossible if we had hard luck. What was the worst that could happen?

deal analysis

Under our worst-case model, we would be losing $600 every month. Losing $600 a month is a losing deal. That’s not a deal that gets you on a podcast. It’s not a deal that successful investors show off in a blog post.

Luckily, it’s not the deal we ended up with, either. (Spoiler alert: We came out of this rehab with a lot more paint on our shoes but a lot more cash in the bank, too.)

But when we talk about “risk,” here’s the curveball question: Would this “worst-case” deal be a step away from, or a step toward, financial freedom? Let’s look at those numbers again.

The Difference Between Costs and Investments

An investment is any place where you can put your money, such that it creates more wealth over time. In the model above, a lot of the expenses that look like “costs”—that is, look like places where Ben and I would have lost money—are actually investments, places where our money helps us build wealth.

Related: Why Turnkey Rentals Might Just Be an Ideal Investment for Real Estate Newbies

1. Loan Pay-Down

In our worst-case scenario, we would pay $600 a month (on average) to cover the costs of repairs and build a sizable rainy day fund.

However, our $1,600-per-month mortgage would be completely paid for by our tenants. In the first year alone, our tenants would pay for our ~$14,000 interest payments and help us build $5,000 worth of equity in the building.

Over time, that equity build-up only accelerates. In our thirties, Ben and I will build up $85,000 through principal paydown alone (pun intended).

The amazing part is that would be the case even if the rehab project was a complete failure. Breaking even on mortgage and utilities and scraping out of pocket to cover unexpected repairs, Ben and I would still be positioning ourselves to accumulate passive wealth in the future.

2. Proactive Maintenance

If you spend $50,000 on a building in five years, it becomes a lot cheaper to maintain. Under our worst-case model, we would have $10,000 a year to deal with maintenance issues before they became more serious.

When you budget to deal with problems up front, it makes for a less-impressive pro forma—but it also means that maintenance costs get significantly lower over time.

If you plow $10,000 every year into it, even a problem-ridden property will get easier and easier to take care of. It might be a painful cost to swallow in the short-term, but you haven’t lost the money that you spend on a property you own. You’ve just re-invested it.

By contrast, if you spend $40,000 in one year on rent, the money is out of your hands for good.

3. Hands-On Education

When you buy your first rehab, the most important investment you make isn’t in the building. It’s in yourself. You’re taking out (quite possibly) the only student loan in the world that can pay itself off in less than a year.

The most daunting part of diving into a real estate deal—the part that makes people say it’s too risky—is that you don’t just stand to lose money but time, too.

The time costs on this project would have made this a losing deal for a veteran investor. We spent untold hours painting, fixing plumbing, and (like you saw above) drilling holes through concrete when a contractor dropped the ball on us.

But we weren’t veteran investors (yet!). As Ben and I looked at the numbers together, we realized we were buying ourselves both a building and an education, too. Even if we broke even, we would come out of the project with an education that in itself was worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.

So—What Happened?

A few years ago, I sat looking at the numbers on a $400,000 real estate deal that could either set me on the fast-track for financial freedom or go completely off the rails. In the end, both things happened.

My business partner and I got screwed over by not one but four different contractors before we finished the project. One caused thousands of dollars of water damage to the floors, embroiled us in a months-long insurance claim, and tried to take us to court after he lost.

We dealt with an irascible tenant who threatened us and damaged his apartment.

Time and again, things took more time, sweat, and money than we had expected. But the age-old mantra of real estate investing held true: You make money when you buy. The numbers of the deal were strong.

And now that we’re done dealing with contractors, tenants, and renovations (at this property), we have a building that rents for $1,400 a door, water-tight with low maintenance costs, and a fair market valuation between $650,000 and $700,000.

Now we are on pace to refinance the building, fully repay our investors in the first year, and walk away with the funds to do it all over again.

Taking the Plunge (Again)

Is this crazy? Fast forward and I’m sitting here, head spinning, looking at the numbers of a 20-unit deal in St. Louis.

Since starting our renovation project one year ago, we’ve used the education and cash flow we gained from it to build a 22-unit portfolio—and a high-growth startup.

Now, with a refinance underway, I am looking at a deal that could double the size of our portfolio overnight, all while working full-time.

A new project brings new unknowns. More questions we don’t know how to answer and lots more numbers to keep me and Ben busy.

Source: BiggerPockets.com – Luke Babich

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What is the best age to invest in real

What is the best age to invest in real estate?

Knowing the best age to invest in real estate is one of the most frequent doubts that those who are beginning to think about their future have. Especially because they see in the real estate area a financial security that other types of investment as the stock market no longer offers.

The short answer is that there is no right age to invest, but the sooner you do it, the more opportunities you will have to make money – and your investment will last longer.

However, it is true that investing is not a habit that we have all been taught. Not all of us receive financial education, and some do not even have the habit of saving money. We know that it can be difficult to do when you are young and you are between your twenties or beginning the thirties: travel, shopping, transportation expenses and fashion technology tend to monopolize the attention of your money.

Unfortunately, this lack of financial education ultimately affects the future. Especially when you decide to start investing and you realize how much time you lost because you did not do it before.

Why should we start investing as soon as possible?

As you will remember, one of our 10 tips for investing in real estate and not die in trying your purchase, is to understand that in real estate investment, patience is the key to success.

Something that guarantees the value of a property is the capital gain that it has, depends on the location in which the property is located. The capital gain acquires more value over time. That is why the big investors are those who can analyze the market and see beyond what is trendy. Imagine if 10 years ago you had invested in real estate developments in the Riviera Maya, or in real estate developments in Tulumplaces that are currently a magnet for tourism and foreign investment.

That’s why we say that the best time to invest is now; the more time you spend, the less chance you will have of acquiring properties at a lower cost that guarantees a high return on investment.

We must also consider that the responsibilities we acquire over time can make it more difficult to become a real estate investor. Marrying or having children can make you reconsider your expenses and how much money you can use to invest.

Each individual has different priorities and opportunities. There are those who see in their twenties the opportunity to promote a future while there are others who can invest only after their 30’s or 40’s. It is also normal and natural for some to think about investing until after retirement, when they have the money to do so.

Nor can we deny that each generation has different perspectives on what we should consider a priority and what not. For example, while for millennials acquiring experiences is a priority -as traveling- for generation x and baby boomers, acquiring properties is more important.

However, this does not mean that millennials – who are between the ages of 23 and 38 – have a chip that prevents them from being good at investing in real estate, on the contrary it is they who are changing the notions of success and ways of doing business and even as we think about work and lifestyle, this makes them less incompatible in investing in real estate, they are the ones who are beginning to consider investing their money to obtain financial independence.

For example, for the baby boomers and generation X financial security meant having a stable job and a fixed salary in order to save for retirement or get their pension. Today the notion of working from home without the need to attend an office is a reality for many people, as well as the existence of jobs that 30 years ago were difficult to imagine.

30 years ago it was hard to think that ordinary people could make money using the internet. Computers and the Internet were exclusive to those who were studying something related to technology. Today you do not need to be a hacker to be able to use digital platforms to make money like blogs or investing in services like Uber.

The orange economy – that is, the creative economy – allows retirement to become more possible at an early age. Which has also become possible because more and more people decide to invest their money in a smarter way – and do it at a young age – to be able to live on their investments and not have to be dependent on a job.

Years ago we thought that buying a property was to live in, today thanks to applications like Airbnb, more and more investors decide to buy apartments and houses only to rent them on these platforms.

You do not need to be a millennial to start investing. The technological evolution has made both applications and platforms as well as access to them, are increasingly easier to use.

For example, since 2017 Airbnb host users over 60 years have increased by 120%, while women over this age have become the best rated on the platform. Which indicates that even baby boomers see technology as an opportunity to get a better return on investment with their property.

What is the best age to invest in real estate?
Investing in real estate is possible at any age, but the sooner you do it, the more opportunities you will have to enjoy your money.

What is the best age to invest in real estate?

As we mentioned, not all ages or stages are the same for every person. For some it may be impossible to invest in their twenties and find the possibility of doing it later.

Our best recommendation is that rather than being guided byan ideal age you start doing it for the goals you have and the opportunities that come your way.

There are many myths around investment, especially when you want to do it at a young age, and one of the factors that keep people away from real estate investment is the lack of knowledge on the subject and investor stereotypes. We are not surprised when we hear cases of clients who want to become investors but fear not being able to do so because they do not understand numbers or be experts in the subject.

Knowing the real estate sector is one of the biggest keys to becoming a successful investor, this does not mean that it is a privileged knowledge that you cannot access.

Many millennials have the fear of investing in real estate because they think they need to buy a house to do so, and they ignore the investment possibilities that residential or industrial lots have.

For this reason, they fear not being able to do it because they believe that it is economically impossible for them, and they do not consider the possibilities of acquiring properties in other cities. For example, for some foreigners, investing in Mexico is a better option than doing it in their countries, but in the same way for some Mexican residents, investing in states such as Merida where there is increasingly strong demand in properties not only for housing but also for businesses and offices, it can be more accessible and profitable than doing it in places like Mexico City.

That is why it is important that you do not wait to have an ideal age and start thinking about becoming an investor or making an investment from now on. So the sooner you do it, the sooner you can designate your budget and create a work plan to invest or start saving money and then invest.

Otherwise, as you let time go by, you will be less likely to find suitable properties for yourself and especially if you have the opportunity to invest in places that are in presale in areas that will later have even more capital gain.

What is the best age to invest in real estate?
Millennials are redefining what financial security and quality of life mean, so real estate investments are becoming an option for those who want to travel or retire early.

How to start investing in real estate?

One of the most common mistakes made by young people who aspire to become investors is to obtain immediate profits and be able to spend them on whatever they want. But as you know, this is not possible in the real estate market.

Being an investor is a goal of many to be able to have financial freedom and not be tied to a job or to live experiences like traveling or living in different parts of the world, investing to earn money immediately is not an actual goal.

This does not mean that you cannot earn an income in a short period of time. For example, apartments near tourist areas can generate profits if you decide to rent them. The same happens if you acquire property near schools, universities or hospitals.

What we really mean is that if you want to invest to enjoy the results you need to be patient and prepare constantly about the subject.

The preparation on the subject not only includes understanding how the market works, but also observing and analyzing where it is going.

That is why it is very important that you start to know very well and read everything about the area and the developments that are developing in the city you are looking to invest. Find out about the market and how real estate works in the place. About the papers you must have in order and the types of credits -if you’re considering obtaining one- to which you can access.

Begin to consume information and observe how other real estate investors are generating income with their properties. One of the advantages of investing in real estate is that it is a safe investment, but it also gives you the opportunity to take advantage of your investment.

There is a lot of information especially now that we live in the age of the Internet, but it is always good that you can approach the experts and work with a real estate agent to solve your doubts if you are already thinking about acquiring a property. Ask everything you need to know about the property and the area: the places of access, the maintenance fees, the projection of growth and the amenities with which the development has.

What is the best age to invest in real estate?
One of the keys to real estate investment is patience. Real estate usually increases its value thanks to the capital gain, and this depends on external factors of the property such as the location and the services that are around it.

What factors should I consider when investing in real estate?

We already mentioned in our definitive guide of the real estate investorif you want to be successful when acquiring a property you need to analyze the location and interests of your possible market without letting yourself be guided by the trends.

Actually, what makes your property acquire value is the capital gain of the area. This depends on external factors such as the location, amenities and even the roads that the property has.

Mérida is a city that we love to take as an example because the boom that is experiencing is related to the intervention of factors such as security and the excellent location in an area that attracts tourists and allows them to have access to beaches and archaeological sites.

In the best cities to invest in Mexico we have also mentioned the importance of decentralization that Mexico is living and Mérida is an example of how the diversity of industries can be an important factor in the development of the economy and in the demand for properties and offices, and therefore is another opportunity to ensure your future.

The more diverse of jobs and industries, the more likely you are to be victorious in your investment, as in the case of a crisis, for example, the closure of a factory or a big company that is in the area.

That’s why we emphasize the importance of not investing where everyone is investing, in the end -it may sound cliche- you get what you pay for.

Many new investors make the mistake of acquiring goods in areas that, although cheap, end up being insecure. In the end these investments end up being losses because they end up investing even in luxury finishes in areas where house prices are quoted in an amount lower than what they are thinking of asking for, whether they are rents or for sale.

The capital gain depends a lot on the area, the location and the amenities. And even if you get a very cheap property, in the end you will not be able to generate income if it is located in an area where there is no capital gain or the market cannot access the amount of money you propose. You will lose more money, unlike you decide to invest in an area with a guaranteed gain capital, thanks to all these external factors that we already mentioned.

Another factor that we highlight and that you have to take into account are pre-sales. There is no better way to guarantee your money than buying before, remember our example of the Riviera Maya and Tulum? Now imagine how much it will cost to buy a housing development once it is popular.

Acquiring properties in pre-sale is an excellent way to invest your money, since once the developments begin to acquire capital gain, your property will have more value than what it cost and you can adapt your income according to the costs of the area or decide to sell it to a higher price, or keep it to get more return.

So, if you’re wondering what is the best age to invest in real estate? It is better to start asking yourself; how can I start investing in real estate? And start making a plan so you can reach your goals and start creating a safe economic future for you.

Source:  Peninsula Development – OCTOBER 28, 2019

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How to Get a Reluctant Spouse on Board With Investing in Real Estate

indecision
Is the white-hot fire of real estate investing burning in your heart? Do you solidly know within your gut that real estate investment will be life-changing? Do you have vivid pictures of the freedom owning property will offer you?

Hmm, now how to impart that passion to your spouse…

You want them to see it as you do. You want them to feel as intensely committed as you feel. You want them to be as excited as you are. You want them to see the vision for your future.

Why You and Your Spouse Would Make the Perfect Investing Team

You can do this together. You have a lot of practice.

Now let me say, this may seem different than other decisions in your relationship, but actually it’s not. Really!

I say this because all types of big decisions like this in a relationship require similar elements. Among these are a bit of understanding, a whole bunch of open-hearted listening, a giant amount of belief, and a huge heap of trust in each other. I mean it!

Planning a wedding, having a child, changing jobs, moving, buying a car together, taking out a student loan, purchasing your first home, raising your kids—every one of these requires discussion and negotiation. The point is, every big decision obliges you to be there for each other’s excitement. But it also necessitates being patiently present for each other’s fear and anxiety.

Where to Start the Discussion About Investing

So, let’s step this out.

First, have you already talked to them about investing? If you haven’t, then that is where you need to start. And then keep the tips below as tools in your tool bag to make the convo go smoothly.

Young displeased black couple.American african men arguing with his girlfriend,who is sitting on sofa on couch next to him with legs crossed.Man looking away offended expression on her face.

However, if you have already talked to them—and they were less enthusiastic than you wanted or expected—perhaps the conversation had one or more of these possible outcomes.

You two discussed it and:

  1. They seemed open, but they were not necessarily excited about the idea
  2. They were fine with you doing it, but they don’t want to be part of it
  3. They have no interest, and they do not want you to do it at all

OK, so none of these three scenarios are what you most want, but they are manageable. You have managed to work out compromises on other large events in your life, right? You can do the same here.

Think of it as excellent practice for negotiating a complex real estate deal. (I’m not kidding here.)

Why Don’t They See the Potential in Real Estate That You Do?

Let’s get into the reasons, the “why” they didn’t feel your same sense of sureness and excitement.

When you negotiate with a property seller, your first job is to find out what they really want or what is holding them back from saying “yes.” And honestly, when you first start talking with a seller, you cannot assume that they even know or are truly “in touch“ with what their hesitations are. Nor can you be sure that, even if they do know what’s bugging them, they will confide their reasons to you!

They might be too embarrassed or ashamed to say them aloud—or even to admit them to themselves. Or it might make them feel vulnerable to admit their hesitations to you. You have to uncover objections by asking questions. You have to listen carefully and openly. You need to pay very close attention.

This is the same process you will use with a hesitant spouse.

Focus on Problem-Solving

If they aren’t overly enthusiastic to talk about real estate investing, be patient. Talk with them in a setting that is quiet and relaxed. Let them finish their sentences. Ask questions without anger, accusation, or judgement.

Remember, you are collecting information so you can solve the problem. Don’t make this an argument. Use your best puzzle- and problem-solving skills.

The solution to this puzzle is one of the most important solutions you will ever uncover. So, I repeat, pay close attention. Listen to the clues.

You are not just a “spouse” in this situation, you are a detective, a troubleshooter, an analyst, an entrepreneur, a visionary.

You see, if you can truly get to the heart of what is making them uncomfortable, only then can you begin to brainstorm solutions. Those solutions need to be two-sided, because when you can help your spouse feel better and more comfortable, you minimize their negative reactions and you increase the likelihood of their participation and willingness.

Related: Investing With Your Spouse? STOP and Read These 4 Survival Tips!

You also increase the possibility you will engage your spouse in your excitement about the opportunities real estate offers your family.

OK, after years as a therapist, I will tell you that when it comes to real estate investing, there are some very specific stressors, fears, and anxieties that people tend to experience. These usually boil down to one or more of the primary concerns listed below.

That said, no two situations will be identical. Your situation with your spouse will be unique.

If you review these potential concerns before you have the conversation, you can develop some well thought out and realistic solutions for how you can alleviate your spouse’s specific hesitations. Anticipating objections and concerns this way should increase your chance for a successful conversation and positive movement ahead in your joint real estate investing future.

Pick out the issues below you are most likely to face (or have already experienced) when talking with your spouse about your desire for their participation in a real estate investing venture. Write out the questions you might encounter and how you might respond. Note the trigger words you might want to avoid with your spouse—you know, the ones that tend to spark an unfortunate outcome!

Then, pick a time and place, and go for it!

Consider Their Fears

Money fears: The fear of losing money and being left without security or unable to pay the bills.

Not enough time: In the beginning, real estate takes time and commitment. As with all skills and education, it requires study, reading, practice, and repetition until it becomes seamlessly familiar.

Afraid of failure: Whenever we start new things, we run the risk that until we master the skills and knowledge, we may not be as successful as we want. But practice improves everything!

Uncomfortable with change: Some people love change—even crave it—but there are others who abhor change. Most of us are somewhere in the middle. But in truth, fear of change is almost as common as the fear of public speaking, which is the highest reported fear. The best way to deal with this concern is to just jump in and try. The sooner you start, the sooner the transition is in the past.

Not knowing who to trust/fear of being taken advantage of: Being new at something means listening to lots of other people’s advice, paying attention to tons of new information, and not knowing which is trustworthy and which is not. Practice makes perfect, or at least very good. So, the more you perfect your skills in listening to your gut while really hearing the person opposite you, the sooner you will know “when to hold them and when to fold them.”

Fear of getting started: When learning something new, it can be very difficult to decide where or how to “jump in,” and those concerns can be intimidating.

Don’t think they’re interested: Sometimes when we don’t know a lot about a topic or skill, we perceive it as boring or uninteresting. Then, once we are exposed to it, we may recognize that we have lots of talents that would make us incredibly successful in that area. But we don’t know until we try.

Afraid of handling tenants: It can seem quite daunting to suddenly have so much power over people’s daily comfort and happiness, but it’s not as hard as it seems at first. Start by giving people the service you would want (just that good ole “golden rule” stuff). Over the years as an investor, I have found that communicating with tenants, sellers, and buyers in the manner I wish to be communicated with goes a long way toward creating positive results, happy tenants, and satisfied colleagues.

No experience/“I don’t know enough”: No one wants to look like they are clueless. It never feels good. Word of wisdom: sometimes the honesty of saying, “I’m new at this,” goes a long way in getting people to warm to you, open up, and be willing to help you deal with any of the hiccups occurring in any new line of business.

Other investors will always be able to find better deals: It’s true! My answer to that is, “Yes, because they keep trying.” They keep networking to meet more people, they make offers on more properties, they talk to more sellers. Does any of that mean you shouldn’t start? Nope. Why? There will always be a “Joe Investor” who will do a deal and make $60K. That doesn’t mean that a deal you do that makes $30K is any less a good deal. Your wallet will still be VERY HAPPY! (This I guarantee you!)

Scared to get it wrong and look foolish to family and friends: This is a really significant fear for a lot of new investors. But are those same family and friends taking risks to build wealth? Are they investing in themselves and their futures by learning new things and creating new investment opportunities? Probably not, and therefore your willingness to invest and trust yourself makes you something special. You and your spouse are pioneers on the adventurous journey of increasing your wealth and building your own personal future success.

Related: A 3-Part Plan for Presenting Real Estate as an Investment to Your Spouse

New Skills Bring New Discoveries

So honestly, some of this list may resonate for you, while many of these concerns may not seem realistic or valid at all. It doesn’t matter. You yourself have your own unique worries and stresses in your heart and mind that your spouse does not share.

Your spouse has a different set of concerns.

We all have insecurities and deep-seated discomforts that can hold us back. But remember, if you can be there to provide support, if you can be present and caring for your spouse during these scary and exciting life changes, you are also very likely to discover the two of you are an amazing team that knows NO LIMITS!

Source: BiggerPockets – B.L. Sheldon

 

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7-Step Process for Finding Great Contractors for Home Renovations

To be blunt, most contractors are terrible. As a landlord, I deal with it all the time. 

They don’t answer their phone. They don’t show up when they said they would. They don’t do what they said they are going to do.

But there ARE gems to be found in the rubble. The problem is most people have no idea how to identify that great contractor from all the bad ones out there—until long AFTER they’ve already hired one.

I want to share with you my seven-step process to identify a great contractor before hiring them. Whether you’re remodeling your own home, a rental property, flipping houses, or need a contractor for something else, here’s how to land a great one.

How to Find a Great Contractor

  1. Build your contractor list

What I mean by this is you need to get the names and phone numbers of a lot of different contractors in your area. I mean, if we’re searching for a needle in a haystack, we have to first get a haystack.

You can find potential contractors in a number of ways, but my three favorite are: 

  1. Referrals, meaning ask people you know who they have used
  2. Referrals, so yeah, asking people you know who they have used
  3. You guessed it! Referrals.

Human nature is to generally do what you’ve always done. It doesn’t guarantee success, but when you know a contractor has done great work in the past, it’s likely they’ll do it again.

So get in the habit of asking your friends and family often—even when you’re not looking for a contractor. “Who did this work for you?” Then, keep track of those referrals.

There are a few other ways to find contractors, as well. I like to talk to other contractors and ask who they like working with.

Rockstars tend to party with other rockstars, and good tradesmen tend to work with other good tradesmen.

For example, I have a great finish carpenter, so I can ask him, “Hey, do you know any great plumbers?”

You can also build your list by snapping a photo every time you see a contractor sign on the side of a work truck, or by searching Yelp, or by asking the employees in the pro department of your local home store who they like.

Related: The Ultimate Guide to Finding an Incredible Contractor

  1. Pre-screening on the phone and in person

Just as with tenants, our opinion of the contractor begins the moment we start talking with them, whether over email, phone, or in person.

Do they carry themselves professionally? Do they respond well to questions?

Ask them some general questions, such as:

  • How long have you been in this line of work?
  • What skill would you say you are the best at?
  • What job tasks do you hate doing?
  • In what cities do you typically work?
  • How many employees work for you? (Or “work in your company” if you are not talking to the boss.)
  • How busy are you?
  • Do you pull permits, or would I need to?
  • If I were to hire you, when could you start knocking out tasks?

Then, set up a time to meet and show them the project, if you have one. Set an appointment and be sure to show up a few minutes early, just to see exactly what time they arrive.

Are they on time? Late? Early? Do they look professional? How do they act?

If everything feels OK after this first meeting, move on to the next step.

man sitting at desk working on a computer

  1. Google them

The first thing we do now when looking for information on a certain contractor is to simply search Google for their name and their company name. This can often unearth any big red flags about the person.

You’ll also want to add your city name and some other keywords to the search, such as “scam” or “rip off” or “court.”

For example, if we wanted to find out more about First Rate Construction Company in Metropolis, we would search things like:

  • First Rate Construction Metropolis
  • First Rate Construction scam
  • First Rate Construction sue
  • First Rate Construction court
  • First Rate Construction evil

These terms can help you discover major complaints about a contractor. But keep in mind, not all complaints are valid. Some people are just crazy.

What this will do, however, is give you direction about what steps to take next.

  1. Ask for references

Next, ask the contractor for references from previous people for whom they have worked. Photos are nice, but names and addresses are better.

Then, do what 90 percent of the population will never do and actually call those references!

You may want to ask the reference several questions, like:

  1. What work did they do?
  2. How fast did they do it?
  3. Did they keep a clean job site?
  4. You are related to [contractor’s name], right? (If they are, they will think you were already privy to that information and will have no problem answering honestly!)
  5. Any problems working with them?
  6. Would you hire them again?
  7. Can I take a look at the finished product? (This could be in person or via pictures.)

These questions will help you understand more about the abilities and history of the contractor. Then, if possible, actually check out the work the contractor did and make sure it looks good.

Another tip recently given to us by J Scott was to ask the contractor to tell you about a recent big job they’ve done. Contractors love to brag about their big jobs, so he or she will likely regale you with the story of how much work they needed to do and how great it looked at the end.

Find out the address, and then go to the city and verify that a permit was pulled for that project. If not, the contractor did all the work without a permit, which is a good indication they are not a contractor you want on your team.

  1. Verify

It’s okay to be trusting, but make sure the contractor is worthy of your trust first! To do this, first verify that they truly do have a license to do whatever work you intend for them to do.

If they are an electrician, make sure they have an electrical license. If they are a plumber, make sure they have a plumbing license. If they are a general contractor, make sure they have a general contractor’s license.

Next, make sure they do actually have the proper insurance and bond. As we mentioned earlier, you could ask them to bring proof, but you can also simply ask the name of their insurance agent and verify it with that agent. Either way, just make sure they have it.

Remember: this protects you.

  1. Hire them for one small task

Before hiring the contractor to do a large project, hire them to do just one small task, preferably under $500 in cost. This will give you a good idea of what kind of work ethic they have and the quality of work that they do.

If the work is done on time and on budget, and if it meets your quality standards, consider hiring them for more tasks.

Even if the contractor has passed through the first several steps of this screening process, 75 percent of them will still likely fail at this step, so don’t settle with just one contractor. Hire multiple contractors for multiple small jobs and see who works out the best.

Related: 14 Killer Questions to Ask Your Contractor

  1. Manage them correctly

Ninety percent of the time, when I have a disastrous situation with a contractor, the blame lies on no one but myself. If I had managed the job correctly, I wouldn’t be caught in the positions I’ve been in.

Here’s an example. I hired a contractor to paint a bedroom. He says $500. I say, “Great.”

He calls me, tells me he’s done, and I send him the $500.

Now, I go check out the property and what do I see? He didn’t paint the ceiling, despite the obvious need for it. And there are a couple paint splatters on the floor that are easy to clean—but now I have to do it.

I call the contractor and he says, “Well, you didn’t say I needed to do the ceiling,” and “No, the floor was perfectly clean when I left. Someone else must have made the drips on the floor.”

Now, you might be saying, “But that’s ridiculous! It’s clearly his fault.”

But it’s my responsibility to manage him correctly. Therefore, when you work with a contractor, always get a detailed scope of work that clearly lays out 100 percent of what is going to be worked on, what’s included, and what isn’t.

Then, never pay anything until you’ve inspected the work. On larger jobs, be sure to spread out payments over the course of the job, so they don’t get too much money up front. You always want them hungry for the next paycheck.

To help with this, I put together a really simple “Contractor Bid Form” over in the BiggerPockets FilePlace—100% free—so you can fill this out every time you work with a contractor. Just go to BiggerPockets.com/bigform.

The Bottom Line

Whether you’re a real estate investor like myself or not, you’re going to need to deal with contractors in the future. By following this seven-step process, you’ll save yourself time, stress, and a lot of money.

Source: BiggerPockets.com by

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The Least Discussed Reason Wannabe Investors Don’t Take Action (& How to Overcome It!)

I’ve never fully understood the obsession with figuring out why other people fail to take action when it comes to real estate investing.

It seems like a lot of people genuinely look for justification not to start.

“If Jimmy didn’t start because he had no money, and I have no money, then I’m justified in not starting yet.”

This is entirely the wrong mentality! Why not focus your energy on figuring out why successful people DID take action?

Regardless, I’m going to tell you the real reason some who are interested in investing never take action. It’s something that isn’t discussed very often.

But first, here are some of the most stereotypical excuses.

Why Some Wannabes Never Take Action: The Typical Responses

Don’t get me wrong. All of these excuses are pretty understandable—yet unfortunate.

Let’s briefly discuss each.

Fear

Fear is a beast. And taking the plunge into real estate isn’t easy.

That being said, everybody experienced the feeling of fear when they bought their first property. It may not have been crippling, but it was there. Anyone who tells you they weren’t at least a little scared is probably not being completely honest with you.

This is why it’s important to make decisions based on numbers and bounce the analysis off experienced investors. Don’t bring your emotions into the deal at all.

Emotions are dangerous—leave them out of investing.

Nervous businessman peeking over desk

Lack of Experience

This excuse drives me nuts!

NOBODY had experience before they took action—you gain experience BY taking action!

If this is your excuse, either quit or work under somebody for free to gain the experience you so crave.

This is a silly excuse to me. Just take action!

No Money

This is an understandable excuse and probably the most common.

I have been investing since 2015. To date, I have never paid more than 6 percent down on a real estate transaction.

Leverage is wonderful. It is risky but wonderful. I house hacked my first duplex for less money than most of my cars have cost.

Theoretically, you could sell your car and buy a house.

You can overcome the “no money” issue by utilizing FHA loans, VA loans (if qualified), seller financing, purchasing subject to the existing mortgage, partnering, other people’s money, hard money lenders, etc.

My point is this: While having no money is scary, if you have knowledge and time, you can invest in real estate!

male showing empty pockets implying moneyless

Not Enough Time

YOU HAVE THE SAME AMOUNT OF TIME AS EVERYONE ELSE!

Set your priorities, and either make REI a priority or find someone with time and provide money/knowledge!

This is a cop-out excuse.

I purchased a property while spending six weeks on a remote island and only having access to the internet through my cell phone a couple of times.

Figure it out.

Why Some Wannabes Never Take Action: The Least Discussed Reason

We have ruled out the most common excuses. And yes, they are just excuses.

Now let’s talk about the least discussed reason some wannabes fail to take action (and how to avoid it).

You’re LAZY!

That’s it.

The number one reason some people fail to take action is the amount of work required.

This excuse is behind the time, fear, and experience excuses. You know it’s going to take a lot of time and energy to make this happen. You’re afraid because it takes a lot of work, and you don’t fully understand what to expect. You don’t have experience because you haven’t done it yet.

In the military, there is a common phrase we use in combat: “Complacency kills.”

Although the meaning is a little different when applied to real estate, the message is the same. It’s not the one morning you sleep in or the one day you get nothing done that hurts you. It’s not the hassle you avoided today or the excuse you used today in order to procrastinate.

However, if you ALWAYS avoid hassle, procrastinate, and sleep in, you will never succeed.

Sloth is one of the seven deadly sins. If you want to succeed as a real estate investor, or in life in general, you need to kill the urge to be complacent—before it kills you!

Related: Getting Started In Any New Real Estate Business

Start Investing NOW: Here’s How

Goals

The first step to conquering the excuse of laziness is to sit down and set goals.

You need to long-, medium-, and short-term goals. These goals should be similar to a five-year plan, yearly goals, monthly goals, and weekly goals.

Think of the cartoons you watched as a kid where a rider would tie a carrot to the end of a long pole and dangle it in front of a stubborn horse/mule in order to motivate them to move forward.

Goals are the carrot you dangle in front of yourself.

No matter how driven you are (or aren’t), there will be days when you lack the motivation to do any work. At these times, it is important to have a carrot (goals) to chase in order to stay on track!

Pensive young entrepreneur looking at laptop screen and drinking coffee at table in cafe

M.I.N.S.

Some of you may have noticed I didn’t say you need daily goals. You may have even been bothered by this and decided to tune out (haha).

The reason I didn’t mention daily goals is that, while they serve a purpose, I prefer to think in terms of the “most important next step.” This is sometimes called M.I.N.S.

M.I.N.S. should be determined every night before you go to sleep. This will ensure you knock out the most important next step toward your weekly goal(s) first thing the next morning.

If you can knock out the most important next step toward your goal every morning, it will snowball into accomplishing your goals quickly!

The key is determining what this step is the night prior, and then doing it first thing the next morning!

Accountability

Most of the actions you take to achieve your goals will not be fun or easy.

It’s easy to find “busy work” to use as a distraction. This busy work is more fun and often easier than accomplishing the most important next step would be.

Since we are all human (I think), it’s safe to assume that you will have days, weeks, months, or even years when you fail to do the difficult task(s) that need to get done.

This is human nature and a hard habit to break. And this is why accountability is crucial to your success as an investor.

You need to find some people who are on the same path as you, as well as a few who are farther down that path, and get together to grow and hold each other accountable!

A common way to do this is through mastermind groups. A mastermind group is comprised of people who have lofty goals for life and are determined to achieve these goals. They meet regularly, whether in person or on conference calls, and talk through their struggles, successes, and so on in order to help each other progress.

These mastermind groups are great for helping you grow and holding you accountable to achieve more!

Mans Hand Reaching For Red Ladder Leading To A Blue Sky

Systems

Real estate investing isn’t easy at first (most things aren’t).

Imagine REI as a large flywheel, and every step you take gets it to move just a little bit faster. As the flywheel speeds up, it takes less and less effort to keep it moving.

This is the power of systems!

Every time you complete a task, remember how you did it. If you complete that task a second time, create a system for streamlining the process. The simpler you can make tasks in real estate, the easier it becomes to buy homes!

For example, one of my favorite systems to date is my Google Drive folder for lenders. Every time I have applied for a loan, I needed to provide the previous two years’ tax returns, W-2s, bank statements, photo IDs, verifiable income, etc.

I created a folder titled “Lender Documents” in Google Drive that has all of this information in it, separated by tax year.

Now, when I apply for a loan, I simply email a link to this folder to my lender and wait for them to tell me if they need any more documentation (which is minimal, if any)!

Talk about streamlining the lending process.

Don’t forget to create systems as you journey down the path of real estate investing. It will make your life so much easier!

Use Laziness to Your Advantage

Lazy people will often find the easiest way to accomplish a task. Use this mentality to succeed as a real estate investor—without losing all of your hair.

Real estate investing isn’t easy, but it is extremely rewarding.

Embrace your laziness, and use the safeguards above to continually attack your goals.

Take the time to put in a lot of work now. You will be happy that you did!

Source: BiggerPockets.com by

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Listen, 2008 Is Never Happening Again—Invest NOW for Best Results

The real estate crash in 2008 was unique in that we saw a very fragmented industry that was burdened by large-scale systemic risk. This is not what usually happens.

It’s important to realize this situation would not be easy to duplicate; it was sort of a perfect storm of bad circumstances. Since then, we have implemented things to protect us from a similar event. Things like Dodd-Frank, better lending fundamentals, and a lot of growth left to capitalize on all make the possibility of another crash similar to 2008’s very unlikely.

Real estate is usually market-specific, so this isn’t to say prices can’t drop in the near future in your market. But it does imply that those waiting around for the next nationwide crash are going to watch a lot of success pass them by in the meantime.

This is going to frustrate many people who see inflated prices and increased competition making it a harder time to buy. However, the truth is real estate is going to be a good investment for a long time going forward. Now might not be as lucrative of a time to get in as it was in 2012, but investing now is likely better than getting in five years from now. In 20 years, it won’t make any difference at all.

Waiting for the perfect moment costs a lot more in experience and opportunity than the potential downsides could produce. As the saying goes: “Time in the market is better than timing the market.”

red down arrow on black and white grid indicating stock loss

When Will the Next Crash Happen?

In 2016, I bought my first rental property. At the time, there were an abundance of threads on BiggerPockets that said, “Don’t buy now. We are about to see a crash.”

Luckily I ignored this noise and bought anyway. In the last three years, I’ve done very well—despite the supposedly imminent danger. Grant Cardone had a bunch of content around this time claiming he was preparing for a crash, as well, but he’s done quite a bit of business since then.

The BiggerPockets forums now reflect much of the same message as a few years ago. Don’t buy! There will be a crash soon!

Maybe those members who are spreading this sentiment are right; maybe they are wrong. Either way, I find that this message seems to have a single constant underlying motive: jealousy.

I really think much of this mindset is coming from people who are actively hoping the market will downturn so they can buy in. They are salty they missed the last big opportunity.

I’m not mad about that. In fact, I’m salty I missed the last downturn, as well! I would have much rather purchased in 2012 than 2016. But unless I create a time machine to go back to 2010 and buy assets, I’m sunk. Fussing about it is never a helpful strategy.

While another recession of some sort is inevitable, no one really knows what it will look like or when it will happen. It most likely will NOT be a repeat of last time though. So waiting for the bottom to drop out of real estate is a mistake, because you’ll be waiting forever while not learning or building experience along the way.

If you don’t have the confidence to buy in an upmarket, you don’t stand a chance to pull the trigger in the down market.

Plan Around Fundamentals—Not Luck

Over the last eight years, many BiggerPockets members (myself included) have bought low and then ridden the wave upward, making money on the sheer luck of being in a good industry at the right time. This is not a sustainable strategy for success in the long term, but it doesn’t mean that real estate only works when you stand to get outsized gains.

Do you only want to buy real estate because you think you might get lucky with an area that’s rising? Or do you want to buy a profitable asset at a discounted price that is going to make money even through market fluctuations?

Waiting for a theoretical crash is just admitting to the world that you can’t compete unless the market is unusually easy to make money in.

In real estate, you make money when you buy. This holds true no matter where we are in the market cycle.

So instead of waiting for your market to downturn, find great deals that are going to make you money no matter what. Have good exit strategies in place, and pass on deals that don’t make sense.

Businessman forecasting a crystal ball

There are two kinds of mania surrounding real estate right now:

  1. Those who are so excited about real estate that they are willing to spend anything to get into an asset and are therefore blind to risk.
  2. Those who are so sure a crash is coming that they are sitting on the sidelines.

Neither of these two parties is going to make as much money as they could. They are too busy making decisions based on emotional hyperbole, anecdotes, and luck instead of solid financial analysis.

Focus on the fundamentals, and you can make money in any market.

Accept That Real Estate Is a Long Play

Why does everyone seem to be playing a two-year game with a 30-year investment? Even if you’re doing fix and flips, there is a long road of education and understanding that goes into this business.

Certainly there are outlier success stories of people doing 20 deals in their first year. However, it’s disingenuous to assume that is universally possible.

In many cases, chasing unrealistic gains gets people into more trouble when ambition outruns reality. Real estate is a slow business filled with complex transactions and ill-liquid assets. Even most superstars go slow!

It’s a patience game that relies on compounding. Trying to force outsized gains at the command of one’s ego is dangerous.

The long game of real estate levels out lots of short-term instability. You need cash reserves to weather economic storms, and you need to buy based on good fundamentals.

You will absolutely experience drops in the future; you can’t avoid them completely. This is why it’s best to get in now (at the right price) and start making money—money that will help you get through a recession.

Even if there were a crash tomorrow, it would be a long time before you felt comfortable at the bottom. The last bottom was in 2009, but people didn’t start buying until 2012 or so.

That’s three years later! Do you really want to wait that long to get started—just because you can’t buy at the discount the last crash offered?

You missed the crash. So what?!

Stop waiting around, nostalgically hoping that opportunity will return. Instead, enter the marketplace. Grab the opportunities that are available right now!

Source: BloggerPockets.com – by

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Capital gains explained

Source: MoneySense.ca – by   

 

Capital gains explained

How it’s taxed and how to keep more for yourself

What is it?

You have a capital gain when you sell, or are considered to have sold, what the Canada Revenue Agency deems “capital property” (including securities in the form of shares and stocks as well as real estate) for more than you paid for it (the adjusted cost base) less any legitimate expenses associated with its sale.

How is it taxed?

Contrary to popular belief, capital gains are not taxed at your marginal tax rate. Only half (50%) of the capital gain on any given sale is taxed all at your marginal tax rate (which varies by province). On a capital gain of $50,000 for instance, only half of that, or $25,000, would be taxable. For a Canadian in a 33% tax bracket for example, a $25,000 taxable capital gain would result in $8,250 taxes owing. The remaining $41,750 is the investors’ to keep.

The CRA offers step-by-step instructions on how to calculate capital gains.

How to keep more of it for yourself

There are several ways to legally reduce, and in some cases avoid, capital gains tax. Some of the more common exceptions are detailed here:

  • Capital gains can be offset with capital losses from other investments. In the case you have no taxable capital gains however, a capital loss cannot be claimed against regular income except for some small business corporations.
  • The sale of your principal residence is not subject to capital gains tax. For more information on capital gains as it relates to income properties, vacation homes and other types of real estate, read “Can you avoid capital gains tax?
  • A donation of securities to a registered charity or private foundation does not trigger a capital gain.
  • If you sell an asset for a capital gain but do not expect to receive the money right away, you may be able to claim a reserve or defer the capital gain until a later time.

If you are a farmer or a newcomer to Canada, they are special capital gains rules for you. The specifics can be found at the CRA website.

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