Your smart phone, laptop and other devices are key to the smooth operation of your business as a real estate pro. Avoid committing commonplace mistakes that can strain and drain your electronic devices. Writer Nicholas Pell explains five things you should do to make sure they last as long as possible.
Users commonly reboot devices, but they rarely realize the benefits of completely powering down, says Pell. Here’s how: Occasionally let the power run all the way down. While the device is powered off, charge it all the way up, not using it or turning it back on until it’s fully charged.
Buy a Case
Your new smartphone isn’t quite as slim when it’s wearing protective gear, but you should resist the temptation to go commando. A case is simply the best way to ensure that a quick slip has the fewest consequences.
Seek Specialized Cleaners
There’s a reason manufacturers make special cleaners for electronic devices: Their screens are coated with a protective layer that is broken down by common household solutions like Windex. So spend a few extra bucks and get the cleaner designed specifically for your screen.
Take Time to Cool Down
Devices must stay below a certain temperature and excessive heat will damage systems. Laptop fans will sometimes engage to help cool them down during periods of high activity or in warm environments, but fan-free devices such as smartphones and tablets have this same temperature need. Avoid setting your devices on blankets and other surfaces that don’t allow for quick and easy cooling.
Wrap it Right
Remove cords from the wall gently and wrap them as loosely as possible when you’re transporting or storing them. Apply this same rule to your headphones and they’ll last longer too.
Source: “How You’re Ruining Your Devices” (Xfinity’s Your Security Resource blog).
Just about any investor on the lookout for a promising rental property has a number of assumed criteria in mind—often arrived at without bothering to sit down to list them. Remember, this is already a successful individual, usually with ample business experience—and always with the financial acumen to be able to make a substantial investment. For them, creating a written decision matrix really isn’t necessary.
Still, there’s a lot of literature on the web offering opinions on what are the most commonly agreed-upon factors for choosing a rental property. Quite a few “Top 10”s. Going over them, it turns out that some are only slight variations on a single theme, so I’ve boiled them down to a “Top Six.”
The first one is barely ever mentioned. It’s this:
- Most investors have predetermined the price range that his or her rental property must fall into, but that can turn out to be a false step. If the goal is to garner the maximum return, it’s possible that some humbly-priced rental properties can actually turn a greater annual profit—even in absolute dollars—than some higher-end homes (particularly those that suffer extended periods without suitable higher-end tenants). So Number 1 is SET YOUR INVESTMENT GOAL. Cash flow return can be a very different goal than long term property appreciation.
- LOCATION LOCATION LOCATION. This is the one that combines a half dozen factors, variously listed as Neighborhood, Proximity to Jobs, Amenities (parks, malls, gyms, movie theaters, public transportation hubs, etc.), Crime, Schools, and even Property Taxes. This factor might be chosen for convenience, as when a rental property investor wishes to be able to supervise the property; or for an expectation of value appreciation in an area which is gaining popularity. As everyone has had heard from time immemorial, L.L.L. is always important!
- HEALTH OF THE PROPERTY. If the underlying structure and mechanicals have been intelligently designed and well maintained, this one is of no importance. If not, a thorough inspection with top-grade recommendations and cost projections is a must.
- VACANCY RATES. The number of rental homes listed and the number of vacancies should be considered highly important for determining a promising rental property. In newly expanding communities, sometimes you can spot a man parked near an intersection, clicking away on a counter as the autos pass by. He’s measuring traffic to see if the volume is great enough to support a gas station, or market, or mini-mall. The turnover of rental listings—how long rental properties stay vacant from week to week—can provide guidance about the same kind of information.
- COMPETITIVE MARKET. The average rent amounts advertised for comparable properties can be the decisive factor for whether a rental home investment makes financial sense.
Of course, another factor that can make a big difference is the experience level of your Realtor®. That’s actually key factor #6—and (I hope) where I come in! You can call me on my cell phone 812-499-9234 or email: Rolando@RolandoTrentini.com so we can discuss your real estate needs.
Despite the improving economic outlook, for many families, finding an affordable house can still be a challenge. According to a study by the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University, more than a third of today’s families have had to devote at least 30% of their combined household income to the monthly mortgage payment—and that figure exceeds the generally accepted standard. In other words, even though mortgage interest rates remain pegged at historically low levels, landing an “affordable” house (just as in the rest of the country) can take some doing. Here is one five-step approach that has rewarded house-hunters in the past:
1. Define Affordable House in dollars
The first step to finding an affordable house should be to work out a target budget. The Wall Street Journal currently recommends spending no more than 28% of monthly income on your house). Make sure to include additional fees such as legal fees, repairs, maintenance, and closing costs in your calculation. The bottom line you come up with isn’t one set in stone, but it’s a reasonable goal to have in mind.
2. Set space requirements
Space will be a prime consideration for the entire time you’ll be living in your home. If you are planning on expanding the family in the near future, having a spare room is close to a necessity. If it’s just something that would be nice to have, it’s not a requirement—and recognizing the distinction can be all-important.
3. Balance travel time against housing costs
Often you can offset the purchase price of a home by expanding your search radius to include a reasonable commute. Get out your pencil: you’ll need to compare the savings in the house payment against the additional cost of an extended commute.
4. Include properties that need some TLC
One of the best ways to zero in on an affordable house is to keep an eye out for otherwise-eligible “fixer-uppers.” You can avoid any serious structural problems, such as plumbing, electrical, and roof issues, yet still focus on properties that just need a little cosmetic revamp can put you across the affordability finish line.
5. Investigate home buying programs
In a limited number of instances, there are some generally underpublicized home buying programs that might be available. For instance, there is the Good Neighbor Next Door program. For teachers, medical professionals, firefighters, and law enforcement officers looking in revitalization areas, as much as a 50% discount from a HUD-listed property can make a house more than affordable!
Most observers believe residential prices are likely to continue to rise—so it’s not outlandish to suspect that today’s affordable houses may become less so as time passes. Give me a call if you are thinking of taking advantage of this winter’s bargains in our area. You can reach me on my cell phone 812-499-9234 or email: Rolando@RolandoTrentini.com
Good investors tend to be cautious souls. For those who prior to 2007 had never ventured into the realm of real estate investments, the ensuing downturn might have been enough to discourage any curiosity about that direction (even if their other investments had also suffered during the global financial crisis).
Nonetheless, at this juncture those same cautious investors might well assume that the value of real estate investments have rebounded so substantially that it’s now too late to bother looking into them. But as National Public Radio has just pointed out, there’s an excellent argument to be made that conditions are now highly conducive for real estate—with real estate investments being no exception. I could tick off three solid reasons that immediately leap to mind, but stand corrected: NPR points to four:
1. Employment. Employers are hiring anew, and “when companies are hiring, would-be homebuyers feel more confident about taking on mortgage debt.” Unemployment rates have (finally!) come down to 5.6%, and with employers having added 252,000 jobs in December, consumer confidence is up nearly 20% over a year ago.
2. Prices seem more rational. NPR points out that from January to October, prices rose 4.5% nationally; a “subdued” gain compared with the 11% burst of the year before. They project that the slower price appreciation may have set the stage for a “buying surge in 2015.” From a local real estate investments standpoint, too, gains from last year’s run-up in equities markets combined with mortgage rates still holding below 4% would seem to create the key elements many investors would consider favorably.
3. Demand for rentals is high. There is a healthy demand for rental accommodation across the country due to a tight supply of quality accommodations. USA Today tells us that between 2009 and 2013, the national vacancy rate for apartments dropped from 8% to 4.1%. Over the same period, the effective rent increased by 12% to $1,083. As one potential consequence vis-à-vis real estate investments, new landlords might expect to be more selective about the tenants that they choose. That would mean fewer headaches for landlords with troublesome and slow paying tenants. It is might also portend that investment properties will stand vacant for briefer periods.
4. Millennials are sick of Mom’s basement. NPR points to a Census Bureau report that says only 36% of Americans under age 35 own a home, down from 42% just seven years ago. The recovering employment picture might not enable young people to save up for a down payment for a while yet, but renting quality digs should soon be more doable than was previously the case. That could set the table for a continuing robust rental environment, with real estate investments benefitting proportionately.
NPR’s four reasons for optimism in 2015 are actually only the tip of the iceberg. If you have ever had the thought that it could be worthwhile to take a look at real estate investments, this is a great time of year to give me a call! You can reach me on my cell phone 812-499-9234 or email:Rolando@RolandoTrentini.com
Market Watch December 2014
I realize that Thanksgiving has passed us this year but I wanted to mention several real estate specific results and other factors for which we should all be thankful.
Although 2014 is not yet finished, our local market is certain to close more real estate volume than we did in 2013 and that is on top of the huge recovery we made in 2012. In fact, our multiple listing service will close more dollar volume in sales than the previous year for the 4th consecutive year and sales volume will be 36% higher than it was in 2010. In addition, our average sales price has increased 6.2% this year and will be a whopping 15% higher than it was in 2010.
I believe that this slow, but steady, recovery is a result of both increased consumer confidence and a similar slow, but gradually improving job environment. The housing market is tied directly to qualified homeowners. A job is the first step in qualification and with over 300,000 net new jobs created last month, I’m confident that some will soon be first time buyers.
Another positive development is that the Federal Housing Finance Authority recently issued new more clear rules which will allow lenders to be more confident about the types of residential mortgage loans they make. I expect more buyers will qualify for loans in the future than the recent past. Clearly this helps the housing market.
From a strictly local perspective, I’m very excited about the new convention hotel and the Medical Center coming to Southwest Indiana. Both of these projects will provide a significant economic boost to our area for years to come. All of these give me plenty of reasons to be thankful and optimistic about real estate.
Finally, I can’t wait to give you a taste of what’s coming in January! Although FCTuckerEmge.com is already the area’s dominant real estate website we are launching a newer upgraded FCTuckerEmge.com next month. The enhanced site will have bigger, brighter pictures, a really cool mapping function and lots of other features I’m sure you will like.
Kathy and I extend our best wishes for a joyous holiday season.
If you had to come up with a single characteristic that the most effective home listings have in common, there are several good candidates:
A really well-crafted listing catches your eye with superior photography, for sure. But that’s not possible with every property. Good photographers know how to select the best angles, use light effectively, and eliminate distracting details (or at least downplay them). But since all homes aren’t equally photogenic, there are built-in limits to how even the most skillful listing creator can count on visuals to make a listing stand out.
Careful attention to detail is common in superior listings. The best listings don’t skimp on the details, or on brief adjectives that further enhance them—especially when they serve to differentiate a home from the pack. You can test this for yourself by scanning through some of today’s listings in Evansville. The best ones often have one or two relatively insignificant details that give a property character; that make it memorable. “Spacious walk-in closet” may not be nearly as important as “completely remodeled kitchen,” but for a certain number of prospective buyers, that can turn out to be the one detail that strikes a responsive chord (and creates a mental note to check this one out!).
Descriptions that employ proven advertising principles almost always make superior listings. One standby: arouse curiosity (headline writers are experts at this). An example might be “Brick barbecue center.” ‘What the heck is that?’ prospective buyers will ask themselves. Even if outdoor cooking isn’t even on their list of priorities, they might not be able to resist scheduling a home tour to find out…and sometimes a buyer is created!
But if I had to pick the one single characteristic most likely to be found in truly effective local listings, it would be this: The best listings in some way tell a story—add character to the cold facts. They stand out from other listings by engaging more of the reader’s imagination than others which are merely an illustrated bunch of data.
The ‘story’ may be a phrase that hints at a property’s interesting past: its historical origin or that of the neighborhood; a prominent previous owner; or an unusual construction history. For a fixer-upper, the story might be an expansive invitation to imagine how a creative Do-It-Yourselfer will be able to transform the property. For a luxury listing, the story might be an appeal to experience the full array of lavish trappings as the suitable reward for the accomplishments of a lifetime. The story may be fleshed out or merely hinted at by a well-worded phrase—but when listings contain the elements of a story, they add memorability.
Creating a stand-out listing is only one of the many elements that go into a successful home-selling campaign. I hope you will give me a call when it comes time to get your own home into the hands of a new owner! You can reach me on my cell phone: 812-499-9234 or email: Rolando@RolandoTrentini.com