Drive for Show, Putt for Dough

Last week I shot a 97. That was my best round yet. I started golfing about 3 years ago, and I am enjoying the challenge. I first took lessons to learn how to hold the club and make contact with the ball, which was surprisingly difficult. I remember that accidentally breaking a club in half was the highlight of my first lesson. Yes, I was swinging hard. I was trying to show off and hit the ball farther than a friend. That was embarrassing. Travis took me to one of his favorite courses for my first 18-hole round. Once again, I thought I had to hit the ball far, so I swung hard. The ball sailed… right into a house.

It was not too long before I started consistently hitting the ball, so I recently took lessons to see if I could hit straight. I had hopes to score under 100 this year, so it was satisfying to reach that goal last week. The instructor in my recent lesson told me over and over to control my club speed and practice my short game. Keeping the ball in play by focusing on hitting it straight, instead of far, and getting better at putting, would shave several strokes off my game. “It won’t look as good as the big drive,” he explained, “but it will win you the round.” This is why they say, “drive for show and putt for dough.” A far drive looks great, but your money is made with consistency in the short game.

The same idea is true in baseball. The most valuable baseball players have high batting averages and get on base regularly. They are not swinging for a home-run every time they go to the plate. Home-runs are exciting and rewarding and fans love them, but at what expense? Big home run hitters also have high strike out rates. Focusing on just making contact with the ball to get on base helps to avoid an out, while moving runners around the diamond. This is how the best teams win games. Singles win games.

This is also true in real estate. I have one client in mind that is always swinging for a home-run. He is a great guy! He has a big heart and is a lot of fun to be around. He is also a fantastic builder and rehabber. The problem I have seen though is that he is passing on singles, so he can swing for the big one. He wants to make six figures on everyone flip, or more by doing new construction projects. He keeps waiting for the perfect deal, or he gets into trouble doing deals that are too big for him. Either way, he is not helping his cause. There seems to be a simple fix looking at it from the outside, but he has the mindset that he needs to hit it big. A short drive down the fairway or a simple base hit is not exciting enough for this experienced real estate investor.

I have another client that is only looking for base hits or the easy chip out of the trees. He is doing deals for profits in the $15,000 to $20,000 range in Denver. Some would say that is too thin, but he is doing three or four a month!! And he recently got lucky and is going to make over $100,000 on a single flip in Denver. He understands that luck behind it and is happy, but he is not setting his mind on those big pay days.

The annual income difference between these two highly capable investors is over a half a million dollars.

Even the best investors that I know work towards a simple shot off the tee. They want the easy and safe base hit over and over. Some of them have increased what they consider a base hit, but they all started small. It is a process to work up to, but no successful investor that I know is always trying to hit the home-run or the long drive over an obstacle. They take those when they present themselves but are on the hunt for the straight shot down the middle; which is why I would suggest keeping your real estate business simple and grow with it over time. Don’t do a bad deal but don’t pass on a good one. Our office is more than happy to have a conversation with you about your real estate plan or a specific deal to help guide you to success. Consistency is key. Whenever I swing my club hard looking for the big drive, I come up short. The easy swing without the pressure produces great drives. Remember… four singles without losing your ass is better than swinging big and missing.

Green Homes for Sale

If you were looking at real estate ads and saw one that stated “green homes for sale”, you may at first wonder why anyone would a listing stating the color of their home. This is not what this type of ad means. It is just stating that the homes for sale are earth friendly and energy efficient. Green homes for sale are being built in an effort to less the carbon footprints we leave behind.

When you purchase a green home they will contains all or some of the following features that are earth friendly.

• Fiber cement siding
• Alternative power system like wind and solar
• Recycled building insulation
• No VOC stains and paints, which stands for volatile organic compound. It is any compound that is carbon-based and will vaporize at standard room temperatures. Some of the more prevalent ones are formaldehyde, acetone, and methane.
• Solar powered hot water heating

Even if you do not live in a green home, there are things that you can do to increase your energy conservation. It will even help contribute to saving our environment. Making your home a green home can help to reduce global warning and save the homeowner money. It will significantly better the environment and require little effort for the homeowner.

Making a green home

• Instead of using the standard incandescent light bulbs start to use compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs). When you switch to the CFL’s you can save per year over a hundred dollars. You can find these lights in the same aisle as your regular bulbs but they are little more expensive. In the United States, if every house switches the type of light bulbs they were using to CFL’s there would be a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of one trillion pounds.
• Install a thermostat that is programmable-with this type of thermostat the homeowner can program the thermostat so that the air conditioner or heater is off when homeowners are not at home. The programmable thermostat can be programmed so that it will cool or heat your home shortly before the homeowner arrives home. This change could save the homeowner ten percent or more on cooling and heating costs
• Plug air leaks-this will help the homeowner save money and practice conservation. You can do this by installing weather stripping, keep the temperature in your home from rapidly fluctuating, and caulk windows correctly to stop air drafts.
• Energy Star® rated appliances-these reduce the amount of electricity that is needed to operate them so they have less of an impact on the environment. They will also save on your energy bill.

Garden Apartments

This residential apartment is located on landscaped property that is at ground level. This term loosely describes any apartment on the first floor. It also includes a basement apartment or one in a high rise. If it is a real garden apartment, there will be no household, or apartment, above it. They are spread out horizontally in an open courtyard. You can find these apartments worldwide.

Such an apartment will have one or two bedrooms but you can find some that have three or more bedrooms, especially if they are used as a vacation apartment. The more bedrooms there are the more people they can accommodate when on vacation and renting the apartment. If it is an apartment that is rented out long term it is generally not furnished. If the apartment is rented out on a weekly or monthly basis for vacations, it will be furnished. Garden apartments may also have one or two stories. The common area can include outdoor amenities like a swimming pool, tennis or basketball courts, a spa or clubhouse. The entrance to the apartment could be off the courtyard or the street.

The owners of the garden apartments are responsible for the outdoor area being kept up with the lawn mowed, any outdoor equipment cleaned, clean swimming pool without leaves and other debris, etc. Many owners will plant the area with well cared for trees and floors. If it is an apartment complex and you have a pet you need to find out if there is a special area for the dogs. Make sure that you clean up after your dog once it has finished its business. Your garden apartment may have a small yard or patio. If your garden apartment has either of these two amenities, it would be a good place to have friends and family over for a barbeque.

Each garden apartment is a separate household unit but all of the tenants share any amenities, such as a swimming pool or exercise room and the main outside grounds. The apartments have their own controls for the heat and air conditioning and bathroom and kitchen facilities. In some places, it may be called a walk-up garden apartment because it has an outdoor staircase. With garden apartment complexes that offer premium services like a weight and exercise room or sauna may be charged an extra monthly fee to help with the upkeep and have a key to let them into these facilities. By having a key, it prevents those that choose not to pay the extra fee from using these premium facilities. Some may even have a laundry room for the residents. The rent for a garden apartment would be much the same as a regular apartment but it depends on the location and amenities.

Improving Seller Calls

It was a fall Sunday morning before a Denver Bronco game. I was playing fantasy football and desperately wanted to watch the pregame shows to make the best decisions for my fantasy team. There were bragging rights on the line after all, but instead of going to the remote, I went for my phone.

I had a small office in the basement of the house I was living in located in Thornton, a northern suburb to Denver. It was basically a hallway outside of the laundry room and my roommate was busy washing her clothes. I had to stand at my desk in order to let her pass each time she needed to check on things. There were several other places I would have rather been and other things I wanted to be doing. I did not want to be in that hallway with a phone to my ear while laundry was blasting away, but I had a goal to reach. I needed to make 30 calls before the Broncos kickoff.

This was my routine every weekend and most week nights. I had a great phone script, but it was the tweaking to that script, making it mine, and the practice on the phone that helped me become successful. I purchased more than 50 houses by calling sellers directly, and over the years I learned what makes an investor successful on the phone. Here are three keys in cold calling sellers that will make you successful.

Have a script. Routine breeds success. This is nothing new, but it is worth mentioning. The most successful people in the world, in any area, have a routine for what they do best. This could be a professional golfer, a builder, a waiter or waitress, or a school teacher. In business, if you find something that works and you do it over and over, you will become rich. It is really that simple. A script is your routine, it helps you work your way through a call and should be used every time you make a seller call.

Make the script your own. Although a script is extremely important, it can also hurt you. If you follow a script that you are not comfortable with and read it word for word, you will sound nervous and rigid. This will make the motivated seller uncomfortable and make them want to end the call. It is best to find a script that you can change a little to fit your personality. It is also important to know that you need to be prepared to veer from the script and go with the call. Enjoy the conversation. That is why I like real short scripts with plenty of flexibility.

Don’t sell on the phone. When I was just starting, the script I was using had me make a creative offer on the phone. If the seller was open to the offer, I would set the meeting and negotiate the numbers. It took hundreds of calls to get an appointment with a seller, because I was over qualifying them by selling on the phone. Maybe someday your time will be way too valuable to meet with sellers that you might not do business with, but for most of us, getting the appointment with a qualified lead is the most important result. The way you do this is to qualify their motivation and then schedule a time to view the house; the goal is not to get a deal on the phone. If they ask for an offer you can simply say you need to see the house before you can discuss it and that they should invite you over. The qualifying question in my script is, “Sounds like a great house. Why would you even consider selling?” The answer to this question will give me enough information to schedule a meeting or not.

Focus on “no” oriented questions and never trap your lead. Many sales books teach “yes” oriented questions. Hearing the word no is scary, and as a sales person we are taught to get our prospect saying yes. This is done by asking questions that the only answer is yes. For example, you might say “Most people are looking for the best price for their home, do you agree?” Of course they are going to agree with that. Doing this can create some unease and make them uncomfortable with you. People want to feel like they have options and giving them the option to say no can be powerful. A question like “Do you disagree?” will be much more powerful than “Do you agree?”

Another strategy often taught in sales that makes people uncomfortable is giving them limited options. I think this can be extremely useful and is a great strategy, but you need to be careful. I had a solicitor call me the other day asking for a donation. His questions were, “Would you like to donate the normal $50 or would $25 be easier?” This is a great close when you have rapport with someone, so it could be very effective in a meeting, but it made me hang up the phone. I don’t know you!

Consider Resale Value Before You Renovate

When doing renovations, people rarely think about long-term resale value. Most families just want a really nice place to live and they work to create their forever home. However, life can be unpredictable. So while it is joyful to make a dream home, those dreams need to be balanced with an understanding of whether or not those granite countertops or that second story are good investments in the long run.

What is resale value?

We hear the idea of resale value quite often pertaining to real estate. The ideal is to buy a property that is a good investment and to have its value appreciate. Good maintenance and appropriate renovations help ensure that when it comes time to sell again, the property has gained equity and you’ll make money.

However, the amount of money you’ll make depends on market appreciation. Which is why it’s important to make improvements that fit the property and the neighborhood.

Location the key factor to consider

If you’ve bought a property by a highway or another not-so-great location, you probably got it for a good price. If that location’s value doesn’t increase during the time you own it, you’ll probably have to sell it for a similarly good price, even if you’ve done a lot of work on it.

Many property owners invest in renovations that aren’t in keeping with the neighbourhood. As a result, they end up selling for less than they invested, which can be heartbreaking.

Before you renovate, look at what has been selling around you – at what cost for what quality? If the most expensive home in your neighborhood sold for $400,000 after being completely renovated, it doesn’t make sense to style your house to a value any higher.

And really, how special are those $10-per-square-foot tiles anyway? Go with the $5 tiles instead.

Focus your investment to one or two elements per room. Make pricey items such as granite countertops, a fancy backsplash, or a higher end faucet; work like show pieces, similar to a piece of art.

Smallest may be best when it comes to resale
As for adding a second story to create more space for an expanding family, it may be worth it in the long run to hunt for a bigger home.

If you invest an extra $100,000 on a two-bedroom bungalow in a neighborhood full of two-bedroom bungalows, you may never recover that full investment. It may be a much better idea to take your equity and find a larger home in a neighborhood where your investment will hold and even grow in time.

When it comes to resale value, it’s always better to have the smallest house in an area with mansions rather than a $600K house surrounded by $300K houses.

Of course, creating a joyful home should always be the first priority. Just make wise decisions that will bring you prosperity and happiness for years to come.

Overturned Mortgage Rulings Creates Chaos at the Supreme Court and Bank Stock Falls

This week has seen unprecedented Supreme Court action that has unleashed all kinds of mayhem on an internal level, not to mention the consequences this has had on the financial sector. Over the past few years we have seen thousands of court cases revolving around the financial sector and their methods when it comes to granting mortgages. The primary issue was in relation to the infamous Floor Clause inserted in mortgage agreements (in many cases without advising the mortgage holder!) but a Supreme Court ruling in favour of mortgage holders obligated banks to reimburse any benefits obtained which could be a few thousand euros per case. The secondary issue and the one this article refers to has to do with reclaiming the Stamp Duty paid on the Mortgage Deed.

In February of this year, the Supreme Court by means of its Civil Court issued a ruling that stated the mortgage holder is responsible for payment of the corresponding Stamp Duty, however, this same ruling was OVERTURNED by its own Court for Contentious-Administrative Proceedings in an unprecedented action last Tuesday 16th October 2018 and recorded under Ruling Number 1505/2018. This ruling corrects the existing ruling that was passed only a few months ago and determines that in fact the BANK and not the client/mortgage holder is responsible for payment of any Stamp Duty due when a Mortgage Deed is granted before a Notary Public. How has this come about and what was the reasoning given for this surprising turn of events?

Mrs Lourdes Amasio Díaz, a barrister who represents the company known as “Empresa Municipal de la Vivienda de Rivas Vaciamadrid S.A.” initiated an appeal to reverse a ruling against her client as recorded under Recurso de Casación 5350/2017 and this is what was considered at the Court for Contentious-Administrative Proceedings. As stated previously, this appeal made Magistrate Jesús Cudero reconsider the Supreme Courts previous ruling and side with her client. The criteria used to arrive at this decision was the fact the only interested party in registering a mortgage loan at the Land Registry Office is the bank because it is the only way they can make claims against the mortgage holder in the event of non-repayment of the loan, therefore the bank should be liable for the resulting tax.

This about-turn can seem conflictive but as it turns out when the matter was apparently resolved in February 2018 at Civil Court, the same issue was already on the table at the Court for Contentious-Administrative Proceedings which now does not hold the same point of view.

The result of last Tuesday’s ruling is a massive dip in the stock market which has affected Spain’s major banks, primarily, Bankia, Bankinter, BBVA, CaixaBank and Banco de Sabadell. The one major factor that has not been detailed in the ruling is whether the Stamp Duty for mortgages signed over the past four years can be reclaimed or whether it only applies to new mortgages. Of course, the banks interpret the ruling to apply only to new mortgages, so this point must be clarified.

It would appear the Spanish banks’ reign of tyranny is over and they are being made accountable for their one-sided dealings with their own clients, however, this ruling has stirred up a hornet’s nest and it is far from over… Not even 24 hours after this latest ruling was passed, the Supreme Court has made yet another astonishing decision to review this sentence. Mr Luis María Díez-Picazo, President of the Court for Contentious-Administrative Proceedings has decided it would be prudent to delay this ruling until other considerations can be examined. By this he is referring to the effect this has had on the stock market and what it would mean if the banks have to reimburse what experts estimate between 6.000 and 24.000 million euros.

A Plenary Session of the Court must be held within the next few weeks in which 31 magistrates must decide whether the latest ruling that determines the banks are responsible for any Stamp Duty that arises from mortgage deeds will be accepted or not. What is going to happen in the meantime? Well, in theory, a legal ruling was passed so notaries will continue to advise that according to the ruling of the 16th October 2018 and applicable from Thursday 18th October 2018, it corresponds the banks to pay the tax. The shock attempt on Friday to reverse that sentence is a mere Memo but does not qualify as legislation until such a time the plenary session decides which ruling stands.

Some clients who were due to sign for mortgage loans at Notary that Tuesday postponed their appointments until the outcome of the court case was known but even though the ruling is now debatable, Stamp Duty in the Canary Islands for example is payable within 30 days of signing the deed (in other autonomous regions the deadline is 60 days) so I expect the banks will until the last moment before paying in case they can pass that expense back to the mortgage holder.

What we have here is a split decision within the Supreme Court itself with two very different rulings issued by two different chambers. My personal opinion? A matter of this magnitude should have been determined at a Plenary Session in the first place instead of allowing two chambers to pass a sentence on different cases which has allowed this gross conflict to occur. We’ll have to see what the outcome of the Session is and hopefully it will be in favour of the little guy to help put an end to what I call the Banks’ Reign of Tyranny.

Financial Considerations Of Home Ownership

While we often, refer to, home ownership, as a core component, of the American Dream, it’s important, for us, to take a realistic look, at the obligations, and necessities, involved, if this is, to truly be a dream, instead of a potential nightmare! Before embarking on this house – hunting, process, carefully, introspectively, objectively, examine and consider, your personal reasons, persona, what makes you happy/ satisfied, and whether, it’s a good course, for you. After, you’ve determined, what’s best, for you, and know, what you want, it’s essential to clearly consider, and examine, what you might be able to afford. This means, proceeding, in a responsible, well – planned, and considered manner, focused, on preparing for the many contingencies, of home ownership. With that in mind, this article will attempt to briefly consider, review, and discuss, a few steps, which should, both reduce unnecessary stress and hassle, and maximize the potential enjoyment!

1. Reasons for buying that house: Why do you want to buy, any specific house? Does it meet your present needs, and into the future? Or, are you looking, at a shorter – term, and want to live, there, for a shorter – span, and, then, relocate, when needed and necessary? Are you the type of person, who enjoys moving, or would you rather, remain in your present quarters? What are your needs, goals, and priorities, in terms of location, neighborhood, schools, costs, transportation, conveniences, etc? Why, this house?

2. Down – payment: Do you have the necessary funds, to have the down – payment, while avoiding, placing too much stress, on yourself, because of using these funds? Smart homeowners prepare, and make their journey, far less stressful!

3. Needed reserves: The best way, to proceed, is to put together, several reserve funds, in order to ease your way, forward! Once, you’ve purchased your house, most people face monthly fixed expenses, which includes mortgage payments (including principal, taxes, and escrow items, such as insurance, etc), utilities (electric, heat, telephone, television, internet, etc). Realize, owning a house, requires preparation, for affording the costs of regular repairs, including appliances, heating, water, etc. Create a reserve fund, for this specific area. Also, realize, houses require attention, and certain items, have useful lives, and will need replacing, such as roofs (rated from 20 – 40 years), appliances (including washer, dryer, refrigerator, oven/ stove, dishwasher, etc), painting or power – washing, etc. At some point, many realize, their house needs certain upgrades, renovations, etc. The better prepared, the easier this process!

The Benefits of Having an Energy Star Certified House

For two decades, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is pushing energy-efficiency in homes. From this, the Energy Star in new homes was conceptualized. It aims to prevent pollution of the air while at the same time giving homes the much-needed adjustments towards energy efficiency.

For home buyers who are on the hunt for their dream homes, it is very important to look for Energy Star compliant homes. While the prices may be higher than homes established right before its implementation, buyers are guaranteed to save along the way from the prices slashed on energy costs.

And because going green is an in thing, those who invest in Energy Star homes are also assured of profits when they choose to sell them.

New construction homes are also required to follow new building codes. These requirements are also in line with the energy-efficiency methods prescribed by EPA.

How about appliances that you’ll be putting in your new homes?

You don’t have to worry too. Appliances manufacturers are also following Energy Star prescriptions. Thus, when shopping for TV, refrigerator, aircon, or any other home appliance you want to add in your new home, just look for the Energy Star sign. With this, you are assured that they are more energy-efficient than same appliances without such compliance tags.

Any other benefits, aside from less operating costs on monthly basis?

New construction homes that comply with Energy Star have added benefits. Given that the design is geared to cut energy costs, you can be assured that during warm months, the windows can give entry to natural and cool air. During cold months, the added insulation can provide heat and in fact trap the warm air circulating inside the house.

Another benefit that comes with Energy Star homes is the improved air quality inside the house. The ducts are made sure to be tightly sealed. They prevent air pollutants and even pests from finding their ways into the house. An improved indoor air quality is beneficial to the health – especially to those who have respiratory conditions.

If you are indeed a first time home buyer and you need the help of mortgage lenders, choosing Energy Star homes is quite a good choice. Many lenders are favoring these homes and within your locality, you might just be able to score one with lower origination fees.

Advantages of Living in a City

City life is commonly described as fast-paced. It is a life that is tangled with having a busy lifestyle such that every second counts. Despite this scenario, the advantages of living in the city still speak best about why there are still may families who choose to dwell in the urban jungle.

Transport accessibility. Even if you don’t own a car, transportation is relatively easy to take you from one part of the city to another. There are many modes of public transport such as buses, trains, and taxis. There are designated points or stations to where you can ride so looking for them won’t be a problem at all.

Variety in lifestyle spots. If you’re one that is active day and night, then the city is perfectly yours as a playground. From shopping malls, restaurants, entertainment spots, bars, and a lot more – the city is that big to accommodate them all. These establishments are made to lure you more into being a city dweller.

Better opportunities in choosing school institutions. Admit it or not, it is a well-known fact that educational institutions are concentrated in cities. While there are school districts which closely monitors those in other areas, there is still a better opportunity of choosing from many schools when you are in the city. Aside from designated public schools, there are also private schools that can give you more options to where to send your kids. If you’re looking for specialty schools and training schools to enhance your skills or upgrade your knowledge, the city can also offer several options.

More job opportunities. Because a city is where population is usually concentrated, then there is also a tendency that more establishments are constructed. From government offices to private institutions, a city has numerous employers which offer jobs to its residents. whether you’re inclined to government service or your skills is for private firms, you have options to choose from as a city job hunter.

Diverse social interaction. More than the advantages anchored with the presence of lifestyle spots and government offices, city life has more to offer. Social interaction in the city is so diverse. There is variety in culture and religious beliefs. This is attributed to the presence of numerous races and ethnicities within the city particularly those that are classified as metropolitan. Living in the city is one great opportunity of expanding your horizon. After all, making real friends and acquaintances is essential in making one’s life worthwhile and productive.

Choosing the Best Green Home Builder

Today many people are “going green”, which means that they are becoming environmentally friendly in how they live their lives and minimizing the harm done to the earth. When some people decide to build their home from the bottom up, they decide to have a green home builder build their home. This contractor would build their home with low environmental and energy efficiency in mind. To find a green home builder you should talk to the contractors in your area. Some that will travel to your area to build your home but their services will add more expense to the cost of your home.

To ensure that you will have the best green home builder ask them what type of building material they will use. You should also inquire about their disposal methods to make sure they are in compliant with sustainability practices. The materials that they should use are non-toxic when possible, and environmentally friendly. They should also be materials that come from renewable sources, or sustainable material. This can include materials from homes that have been knocked down. This material can include old doors, cabinets, some of the wood to accent the home such as using the material for ceiling beams, and more. They should try to avoid using plastics and choose their wood carefully. You should ask to see examples of the green projects they have completed. Their construction philosophy should focus on green building. It should not just focus on using green techniques as a secondary technique. Make sure that the contract you sign states that it will be constructed from sustainable and green material.

A home builder may tell you that they are using green building techniques but it could be easy for them to start using less environmentally friendly techniques and designs to save money on materials so they can put more money in their pockets. This is why you need to be sure that they are a reputable home builder and have good references as a green construction company. They need to be knowledgeable about green techniques and processes and committed to green construction and design. If you want your new green custom built home to be built using unconventional techniques make sure the home builder can demonstrate they understand the techniques you want and can do them correctly.

Before you choose a green home builder, you should educate yourself on what constitutes a green home and the process to build one. This will help you to determine a good green home builder and to know if they are cutting corners using non-environmentally friendly material. Having a green home can save you money on heating and cooling costs, and if sustainable material is used it can save these materials from being disposed of improperly.