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Home Staging for Pet Lovers

Monday, September 9, 2013 posted by Tommi Crow

Staging your home for potential buyers can be quite the hassle. You may start moving your furniture around spontaneously, or become tense when your children or spouse make messes in a room that you just prepped for show. With all of the planning that one can put into making their home shine, one crucial step in home staging is often overlooked: your family pet.

For the sake of simplicity, I will outline a few things that you must keep in mind when cleaning up after your pet in a home for sale.

Pet presence – For obvious reasons, some pets can’t leave the house. Giant enclosures, aquariums, and disabled pets are hard to relocate sometimes, and a lot of people will be understanding of this. But if your dog or cat is healthy, then you’ll want to strongly consider relocating your pets temporarily. Many people aren’t pet owners, and don’t like being around an excitable golden retriever or a yippy chihuahua when they are trying to imagine their family occupying your home. Remember….You are trying to make the potential buyer as relaxed as possible. Ask a friend if they wouldn’t mind looking after your loved one for a bit, and if all else fails, look into a reputable boarding service for your pet.

Fur – Fur can get everywhere. Even in places that you, as a resident of your home, don’t necessarily notice all of the time. Be sure to give your couches, chairs, and love seats proper attention. That means taking the pillows and cushions off, and using a hand vacuum or brush to remove all of the fur you see. After you are sure that they are thoroughly cleaned, use a fabric freshener to finish it off. Try to do this well in advance of the potential buyer, as some people have sensitivities to fabric fresheners.

Litter – No matter what kind of animal you have, odds are you have do deal with some form of waste. It may sound pretty obvious, but make sure your litter beds are clean and well hidden. Even if you own an exotic pet like a reptile of amphibian, this includes you too. Many people don’t like snakes, but they’ll like a messy snake cage even less. Another important thing to remember as an exotic pet owner is this: even though you may not be able to smell anything offensive coming from your reptile’s cage, that doesn’t mean that there isn’t an odor. Many people who live with reptiles get used to the subtle odors that emit from the cages, and will tend to spot-clean their animal’s cage without giving it the proper scrub-down that it needs.

Odors – Don’t use air fresheners to mask pet odor. It is meant to freshen the air…Not cover pet odors up. Instead, use powdered cleaners on carpets and rugs that your pets frequent. These can be purchased at your local pet store in the cleaning isle. Odds are, if someone has a severe allergy to animals, then they are going to be at risk of having a reaction. The cleaner the house, the less dander will be in the home.

Thank you for visiting InfoTube.net homes for sale and rent website.  List your property on the MLS and reach millions of homebuyers, today!!

Not long ago, real estate sales involved hammering a sign in the yard, placing newspaper ad’s and mailing post cards to neighbors.  Today, selling a home requires a huge amount of internet advertising and distribution…which means using great photographs, video’s and social media to boost your properties image and catch a buyer’s eye. 

If you are one of the thousands of  home sellers looking to capitalize on the real estate recovery and pocket maximum profit from your home sale, you have to embrace the internet.  Home buyers use Ipad, tablets, desktop computers and smart phones to shop online and compare hundreds of homes for sale.  Today’s buyers quickly scan through hundreds of listings on sites like Zillow and Realtor.com, looking for that one home that catches their eye. 

To maximize the sales price of your home, consider these 5 tech savvy tools and tips

  1. Use Professional Grade Photography.  A recent study revealed that professional property photo’s increase the perceived value of a home by 13 percent.  Considering that a 13% added value on a $250,000 home equals an increase in value of $32,500, it could well be worth your while to hire a pro.  Buyers are visually oriented, so selling your home has become a bit like a beauty pageant, of sorts.  To increase your sales price, provide the best possible pictures on the internet to grab the buyer’s attention and motivate them to schedule a home showing.
  2. Post a Video Tour on YouTube.  About 20% of buyers search online for home video’s.  Grab their attention by posting a video on InfoTube.net .  We will upload it to YouTube for you, or you can upload toYouTube.com by yourself.
  3. Include a Floor Plan of Your Home.   If possible, include an interactive floor plan that shows how rooms in your house relate to one another.  Interactive floor plans combine the floor plan with professional photo’s and create an exciting shopping experience for home shoppers.
  4. Get Rid of Clutter.  We have all heard this before, but it is amazing at the number of people who do not pay attention to this simple advice.  Buyers are not interested in buying furnishings; they are shopping for a home.  Your house will show much better if it is clean, organized and all personal items are removed.
  5. Advertise on the MLS.   The internet has made it possible for sellers to list property on the MLS and sell it By Owner.  The MLS is the national database of homes that are For Sale.  If your listing is not a part of the MLS, you are missing millions of home shoppers every month, who will never know your house is For Sale.  All MLS listings are distributed to every major search engine for real estate including Realtor.com, Zillow, Trulia, Google, Yahoo and many more.  These websites report buyer traffic in excess of 24 million home shoppers each month.  If you want to maximize your sales price and profit, you have to be on the MLS

Thank you for visiting InfoTube.net.  Please search our website for fantastic deals on thousands of homes for sale by owner, investor and builder.    For more great marketing tips and home improvement idea’s…then be sure to LIKE us on Facebook. 

Housing Outlook for the Next 6 Months

Tuesday, June 25, 2013 posted by Tommi Crow

The real estate market was overheated during the first 6 months of 2013.  Low home inventory, record low interest rates and the lack of new construction were to blame for the unsustainable, rapid price increases and multiple bidding wars for properties. 

5 Reasons we do not feel the hyper-inflated housing market will, or should, continue. 

  1. Rising Interest Rates – Interest have risen sharply in the past few weeks and the trend continues up.  Current rates will slow the number of homebuyers and speculators that are coming into the market during the next 6 months.
  2. Marginal buyers have been priced out of the market due to bidding wars, rapid price increases and higher borrowing costs.
  3. Wall Street and large investment groups are curtailing their buying.  One-third of all homes purchased this year were Cash sales.  This translates to heavy investor buying, which will slow down going forward in 2013.
  4. Shocking run up in home prices are not sustainable.  In May, home prices were up 12.1% on average.  This brings home price levels to a 5 year high.  Pricing is now at a point that many of the short term gains have been realized, and the market will fall back to more normal levels.
  5. Realtors and builders report that inquiries and calls from new customers is down 11%, so far for June. 

Summary:  We feel that the housing market was under valued at the start of 2013, but a frenzied market chewed through much of the low hanging fruit.  With rising interest rates, and increasing inventory levels, we see a move to more sustainable and healthy growth moving forward.   It is still an excellent time to buy or sell.   Inventory levels will increase, but they will remain on the low side throughout the year.  Interest Rates are still at historic lows and price increases, although impressive, leave the average home price far below levels seen in 2006 and 2007.    

Thank you for visiting InfoTube.net

  Home sellers and investors are a happy bunch this spring.  Homes are selling quickly and for very near their asking prices.  If your home is on the market and you haven’t had success…you should consider an MLS listing and here is why.

Washington Post writer and real estate expert, Iilyse Glink weigh about why the MLS is the key to home sales and why it works so well.

Studies indicate that most homes sell with the help of a real estate agent. The No. 1 tool to market those homes is probably the MLS. This listing service in most markets gives real estate agents the ability to see and review all listings in an area. If your home isn’t in the MLS, you’re missing the most effective tool to sell your home.

Twenty or so years ago, an FSBO seller would advertise his home in local newspapers and a lawn sign, with InfoTube or InfoBox, to market his home. Few if any of these FSBO sellers succeeded in selling their homes. More recently, the Internet has started to level the playing field, but many buyers still work with real estate agents to buy their home. Those agents rely on the MLS.

An FSBO service may offer various packages to sellers such as you. The more you want, the more you pay, with the top package giving you access to the MLS for six months. We guess you want to give your home the greatest exposure possible and that you wouldn’t want to exclude a major source of potential buyers.

As you decide whether you want an a FSBO package, you must understand what it will take to sell your home. If you overprice your home for sale, trying to sell it yourself isn’t likely to give you a good result.

You still will need to price your home right, make sure your home shows really well, both from the inside and the outside, take great photos for posting on Web sites, create a beautiful brochure for the home, and make sure the description of your home is succinct, emphasizes the good points of your home and accurately shows off its best qualities.

As the real estate market has improved in many areas, you likely have a better chance of selling your home today than you had a year or two ago. But home sellers can make the same mistakes in any market. Again, you need to decide whether you want to spend money upfront to sell the home yourself in a FSBO or try again with a real estate agent.

We think that listing your home on the MLS is a good step toward getting your home sold. Unless you find a buyer that is searching for a home on the many sites out there that carry listings, you might miss out of that one buyer truly looking for a home like yours.

InfoTube.net offers low cost MLS and Realtor.com listing packages that will get your home noticed by millions of homebuyers, who wouldn’t otherwise know your home is for sale.  Call 800-858-6000 for more information or visit our website.

6 Reasons 2013 is a Home Sellers Market

Wednesday, January 23, 2013 posted by Tommi Crow

Prices for existing homes rose another 7.7% in the month of December.  For our customers who have been patiently waiting for the market to favor sellers, instead of buyers…the tables have finally turned. 

Why is the housing inventory so low in 2013?

The Wall Street Journal writes a good article on this, pointing to six reasons:

1. Many homeowners are underwater, and thus can’t sell.
2. Homeowners with equity in their home don’t have enough of it to “trade up” to buy a bigger and more expensive  home.
3. Everyone wants to buy at the bottom, but few want to sell when they feel their home will be worth more next year.
4. Investors – from mom and pop and corporate investors have come out and become landlords, taking property that normally would be on the market into the rental realm.
5. With the foreclosure fiasco, banks have been slower at foreclosing homes.
6. There’s been a lot less construction of new homes by home builders.

What does this mean for home sellers?

1.   Advertising your property on the MLS and Realtor.com has never been more crucial to reach qualified home buyers.  Realtors and homebuyers are searching for new listings, daily, because there is nothing on the market that fits their needs.  If your home does not appear in these real estate search engines, chances are that no one will ever know your home is for sale and you will miss your window of opportunity.

2.   Holding an Open House on the weekend is a great way to get people who see your listing online  into your home for an actual showing.

3.  Place a FREE listing on InfoTube.net.  InfoTube is visited by thousands of people daily who are looking for “by owner” property.

4.  The homes that are flying off the market are the properties in the best condition, location and they are priced right, ready to sell.  Homebuyers will not look at a house that is overpriced, hoping to negotiate back and forth.  They are buying homes that are reasonable to purchase and are ready to move into.

5.  Keep your InfoTubes and InfoBoxes full of flyers.  We receive calls from buyers everyday who want more information, but the container is empty.  Be sure to keep a back stock of brochures on hand in time of high traffic.

Home sellers should act quickly to take advantage of the present market conditions because they will not last.   Home inventory levels will increase as home builders react and start more new homes.  Banks will quickly work there way through millions of foreclosures that are still sitting in limbo.    And, home buyers are snapping up houses right now to lock in low interest rates and low home prices.   If you want to sell your home for the most money, in the least amount of time, you should act aggressively.  Time is of the essence.

Thank you for visiting InfoTube.net.   Post a free property listing on our website.  Search for thousands of homes for sale seen no where else.  Buy an InfoTube or InfoBox to market your property..nothing beats providing a brochure about your home, instantly to a prospective buyer.   Put your property information in front of millions of internet home shoppers and real estate agents with our low cost MLS and Realtor.com listing packages.   Whatever you need to sell your home….we have you covered since 1988.

2013 Marks Rebound in Housing Market

Monday, January 14, 2013 posted by Tommi Crow

    InfoTube is bullish on housing in 2013 and here are a few reasons why.

Home prices rose 7.5% last year, largest increase in six years.  Total number of  homes sold increased 6% last year, to 4.2 million, marking the first increase since 2005.  The same forces that helped propel prices last year will be in play this year, including improved housing demand fueled by good affordability, fewer foreclosed homes for sale and a low inventory of unsold homes.

Trends that will Boost Home Prices Again in 2013

  • The Fed feeds housing rebound in 2013.  Interest rates for mortgages are at historical lows, making monthly payments affordable than renting for millions of families. 
  • The rate of new foreclosures has fallen to normal, pre-bust levels. 
  • Banks have cleared a lot of bad debt off the books and rising home prices will loosen up their purse strings.  Expect loans to be easier to come by in 2013.
  • Stronger job growth will drive more housing demand as people living with friends and relatives move into their own homes.
  • Increasing rents and lack of desireable rental inventory will push many tenants out the door and into a home of their own.
  • Investors are snapping up distressed property, rehabbing and flipping it.  This means higher average home sales prices and fewer homes vacant or in disrepair.
  • Rising home prices will increase borrower equity in their homes.  This means that few people will be interested in walking away…or requesting a short sale.
  • The Fiscal Cliff settlement left housing tax benefits in tact.  Mortgage interest deduction, property taxes deductions, depreciation schedules and one time tax free home sales were left in tact, making real estate one of the few remaining tax havens for the average working American.
  • Rising home prices will allow more sellers to list their homes and sell near the asking price.
  • The supply of homes for sale fell to 4.8 months in November, the National Association of Realtors says.  That’s the lowest level in more than seven years.  Realtors consider a six-month supply to be a balanced market between buyers and sellers.
  • Market researcher, Corelogic, calculates that home prices will increase 6 percent in 2013.
  • According to a December survey of 105 real estate experts and economists by real estate company Zillow, home prices will rise 3.1% in 2013. 

All the evidence stacks up to make a good year for real estate in 2013, whether buying or selling.  If you have been waiting for the market to improve to sell your home, the time is now.  If you have always wanted to own a home of your own…the odds are stacked in your favor, too.  

Thank you for visiting InfoTube.net.  Place a Free Property listing, advertise your home on the MLS or Realtor.com, follow InfoTubes very popular Facebook page for up to the minute news and home improvement idea’s that you won’t see anywhere else.

Real Estate Benefits on the Budget Cutting Block

Thursday, November 15, 2012 posted by Tommi Crow

    Some of us may not have considered that real estate benefits are on the political chopping block in Washington…but, they most definitely are.   Ramsey Su, writer at Seeking Alpha, outlines the mostly likely cuts that will effect most homeowners and real estate investors in the future.

Mr. Su asks…Is the perfect storm approaching? 

First, there are no more stimulus plans on the table that he knows of.  Everything ahead are takeaways.  While he has heard these mentioned, he  no idea what is real and what is just talk.  We should find out more as the fiscal cliff cage fight moves into the later rounds, but we wanted to give our readers a “heads up” about what may lie ahead for real estate investment.

1. QE3. QE1 and QE2, one way or another, dropped mortgage rates from the 6% range to the sub 4% range. That is hell of a lot of stimulus but the results have been minuscule. QE3 has been in effect for close to two months now and so far mortgage rates may have dropped 10-20 basis points with no noticeable change. The Fed is exhausted. There is nothing they can do to pump up a real estate bubble.

2.Capital Gains. This is one scary storm for real estate. If the upcoming tax reforms include changes to capital gains so that Warren Buffett can pay more taxes than his secretary, it may be very detrimental to the real estate market. With less than two months left, it is probably too late to try to sell before year end, which would be locking in the favorable capital gains treatment of old.

3. $500,000 Homeowners Capital Gains Exemption.   How many homeowners would have a $500,000 gain, when that is way above the average, medium or median price of a home in the U.S.?  Could this trigger a massive sell-off in the higher end of the property market to capture this exemption while it is still in effect?

4. Mortgage Deductions. No comments needed if this is changed.

5. Tax Deferred 1031 Exchanges. This is one of the best tax breaks, available to real estate and not stock market investments.  By being able to trade up and deferring taxes on the profit, real estate investors have far more capital to build upon.

6. Mortgage Debt Relief Act. This act exempts debt that has been forgiven from being treated as income.  This freebie is due to expire by year end.  Even though the odds are it will be extended again, it should be a wake up call for those with negative equity that this gift may not be available indefinitely.  It is also a gift the significance of which many do not appreciate.  For example, let us say you are a doctor in Las Vegas, with a $200k deficiency in your mortgage and a $200k income.  Without the exemption, a short sale would push you into the over $250k bracket immediately.  You would become the target for higher taxes.

7. Loop Holes.  There are lots of references to closing loop holes.  Pertaining to real estate, I do not know what they may be.  Are they looking at depreciation schedules?  Other deductibles?

In conclusion, we believe tax accountants and tax attorneys are going to be very busy strategizing the most advantageous moves for their clients.  There may be many different outcomes, but Wu is wondering, will there be any tax related reasons to buy?  So it is likely that all the pressure will be on the sell side, the only question is how big it will be.

Thank you for visiting InfoTube.net.  Post property on our Free Real Estate Listing site.  Search for great deals in complete privacy.  List your property on the MLS and Realtor.com.  Purchase our #1 selling marketing tools for real estate, The InfoTube and The InfoBox.

 

The warning on the gates, ‘These Plants May Kill’ should not be taken lightly by anyone, for with familiarity comes contempt, and from contempt – danger.

Come take a stroll with us through a deadly garden located in Northumberland, UK.    Behind the locked gates of the Poison Garden, guides and marshalls share tales of deadly plants. Myths and legends are uncovered, along with facts from science and history.   No touching, no sniffing and no cutting is allowed. 

The Poison Garden at Alnwick Gardens is on around the clock surveillance for the safety of the public and would be thieves.  Some of the plants are even kept in specially fenced areas to avoid accidental poisoning or theft of the plants for use in making narcotics.  In this garden, the plants are so dangerous and toxic that they may be kept in large cage like structures.   To highlight its hazardous nature the garden’s beds are laid in the shape of flickering flames.  

There are over 100 plants of varying deadliness grown in the Poison Garden.  Some of the plants are beautiful despite being deadly, and other look so harmless it is hard to imagine their dangerous, even fatal, qualities.    Also grown within the guarded confines of the Poison Garden are many other plants which are easily recognisable by even the most reluctant gardener, for many killers grow in your own back yard.

Foxgloves, Wolfsbane, Mandrake, Ricin, Belladonna, Poppies, Laburnam and varieties of Aquilegia thrive among the rarefied atmosphere of the Poison Garden.  Those who work here treat the plants with the utmost respect, wearing gloves when working with them.   The owner also has  a licence to grow marijuana, cocaine and magic mushrooms in the poison garden – for educational purposes.

A few of the plants you will find inside this poison garden….

 Foxglove (digitalis) may contain several deadly physiological and chemically related cardiac and steroidal glycosides.  Thus, the digitalis plants have earned several, more sinister, names: dead man’s bells and witch’s gloves.  The entire plant is toxic (including the roots and seeds). 

Foxgloves fatal accidents involve children drinking the water in a vase containing digitalis plants.   Drying does not reduce the toxicity of the plant.   The plant is toxic to animals, including all classes of livestock and poultry, as well as felines and canines.

Belladonna or Nightshade (Soleanaceae) has a long history of use as a medicine, cosmetic, and poison.  It was used as an anesthetic for surgery and embedded a poisonous sting with arrows made for battle.  The name “bella donna” is derived from Italian and means “beautiful woman” because the herb was used in eye-drops by women to dilate the pupils of the eyes to make them appear seductive. 

Nightshade is an incredible poison, but an amazing aphrodisiac, too, and you see it everywhere.  In Argentina, even nowadays, some people put a bell of datura like this one (pictured above) on a baby’s pillow at night, then take it away after five minutes and the baby has gone to sleep.  If it were left all night the baby would be dead in the morning.   Victorian ladies used to sit around a table with a nightshade plant in the middle and play cards or have tea.   They’d pop their cup under a bell, tap it, and pollen would fall into the cup.  They would experience similar effects to that of LSD.

Belladonna is one of the most deadly plants on the earth.  All parts of the plant are poisonous, but the sweet, pretty berries are especially alluring for children.   Although no eye surgery is performed today without the help from the nightshade family…The plant’s deadly symptoms are caused disruption of the nervous system, inhibiting its ability to regulate involuntary activities, such as sweating, breathing, and heart rate.

Lily of the Valley, popularily used in wedding bouquets is highly poisonous. Its toxicity is the plant’s defense against animals eating its seeds.  All parts of the plant—the stems, the leaves, the flowers and the berries—are extremely poisonous and close to 40 different cardiac glycosides have been found in the plant so far.

Ingest just a bit of Lily of the Valley if blurry vision, diarrhea, vomiting and nausea, disorientation, drowsiness, headaches, red skin rashes, excessive salivation, sudden alterations in your cardiac rhythm and possible death sound like your idea of fun.

Its Nux vomica’s Latin name implies much, but it perhaps rings more bells as strychnine. Interestingly, hemlock, a poison in its own right, can be used as an antidote to Strychnine, but don’t tell Socrates, who was sent to his death with a cup of hemlock.

Strychnine (pictured above) is not the most poisonous substance known to man (you need at least 50 mg to kill someone), but a you’d have to go a long way to find something that provokes a more violent death.

Strychnine poisoning can be fatal to humans and animals and can occur by inhalation, swallowing or absorption through eyes or mouth, as explained above. It produces some of the most dramatic and painful symptoms of any known toxic reaction. For this reason, strychnine poisoning is often used in literature and film. It is also used as a rat poison, but is not specific for unwanted pests and may kill other small animals.

Hemlock was used in ancient Greece to kill condemned prisoners, including Socrete’s, as mentioned above.  The plant also kills animals.   A dose of the poison results in an ascending muscular paralysis with eventual paralysis of the respiratory muscles which results in death due to lack of oxygen to the heart and brain…but it has also been used in medicine to treat arthritis, muscle spasms and works as a seditive.

Those of a certain age will be familiar with Castor Oil, which is made from the plant Ricinus communis (above), but a single seed from the same plant will kill an adult in the most horrible way. Ricin causes nausea, severe vomiting, convulsions and subsequent disintegration of the kidneys, liver and spleen…

The old expression ”It will either kill you or cure you” could not have been more apt!

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Don’t Pay Down that Mortgage

Monday, October 15, 2012 posted by Tommi Crow

  Article by Boston Real Estate

Is your dream to own your home free and clear?

If so, join the crowd. More borrowers than ever are taking out 15-year mortgages in hopes of accelerating the day they can wave bye bye to the bank, the Globe’s Jenifer McKim reports.

While the traditional 30-year loan has long been king, 30 percent of borrowers during the second quarter opted for shorter loan terms with 15-year terms the most popular, the Globe’s Jenifer McKim reports.

That’s up from just 10 percent during the same time period in 2006, when the real estate market was at its peak.

And rock bottom interest rates have been one big factor – the piece offers up a Natick homeowner who found she could shift to a 15-year loan and save money given the drop in interest rates.

It is certainly an intoxicating dream at a time when debts, both personal and national, seem so crushing. Yet there are some potentially big pitfalls to this approach.

For starters, my bet is that our Natick homeowner is in the minority.

First, not everyone is in position to capture the lowest rates – you have to have some darn good credit these days.

And if you end up having to pay a bit more in order to pay down your mortgage faster, there is an opportunity cost here. The extra cash you are pumping into your mortgage is money that you could otherwise stash, tax-deferred, into a retirement account.

For that matter, if you have credit card debt, you should be paying that down first – the interest rates are likely much higher than on your mortgage.

Moreover, if you do run into trouble, such as losing your job or taking a hit to the paycheck, you have locked yourself into a format that may not be so easy to get out of. Good luck trying to refinance back into a 30-year mortgage at that point.

A Plymouth financial planner cited at the end of the piece actually had the best advice for homeowners eager to hasten the day when they make their final mortgage payment. He argues for making extra payments on a 30-year mortgage in order to accelerate repayment. If money gets tight again, you can just stopping paying that extra in.

This also gives you the extra flexibility to craft an approach that works from you, maybe putting a little bit more into both the mortgage and the retirement account as opposed to either or.

Makes sense to me, but how about you?   

Thank you for visiting InfoTube.net.  We operate a FREE classified real estate listing website that offers Free legal forms and contracts, marketing tips, flat fee MLS and Realtor.com listing service and marketing tools like InfoTube and InfoBox. 

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Buyer Beware! DEA List of Known Meth Houses

Tuesday, October 2, 2012 posted by Tommi Crow

 

Meth House Nightmares –  Buyer BEWARE!!!

This post will hopefully educate you on some of the risks involved when purchasing a property that may have been used as a meth lab.   Single family homes are frequently used as a place where methamphetamine is manufactured.  

The dangers that go along with meth houses include exposure to cancer causing chemicals that can saturate walls, carpets and other building materials as well as all contents. Lead and mercury are common byproducts. Chemicals, such as solvents, may be disposed of in plumbing or simple poured on the ground. If not removed properly these can cause various health problems.

Meth Labs ~ Tell tale signs to look for…

• Yellow discoloration on walls, drains, sinks and showers

• Blue discoloration on valves of propane tanks and fire extinguishers

• Fire detectors that are removed or taped off

• Experiencing physical symptoms while inside the house, such as burning in your eyes or throat, itching, a metallic taste in your mouth and breathing problems

• Unusual strong odors that smell like materials from a garage, such as solvent and paint thinner, cat urine or ammonia

• The use of security cameras and surveillance equipment

When you enter a property take a deep breath.  A cat urine smell is often associated with meth. Other odors to be aware of are ammonia, vanilla, solvents or metallic smells.  These are warning signs.

Meth users sometimes become obsessive about objects.  They may dismantle things like remote controls, watches or electronic devices.  The objects can sometimes be found in a pile dismantled down to the smallest part.

Large amounts of household products are a tip off.  Common products are used to manufacture meth that can found in an average home, except in a meth lab large quantities of common items may be in odd places.  If you see multiple packages of lye, Heet, Coleman fuel, peroxide, pseudo-ephedrine or coffee filters in odd places, like stored in a bathroom, closet or kitchen, this is an indication that it may be wise to forget any involvement in the property.  The occupant may be a warehouse club shopper with no sense of organization, but he/she may not be.

Propane bottles, or fire extinguishers, that have been altered, or have a blue stain on the connector, may indicate that anhydrous ammonia has been stored in the container. Anhydrous ammonia can be explosive in the right circumstances. It reacts with the metal leaving the connector corroded.

Iodine may be used in meth manufacturing.  Iodine is a substance that goes from solid to gas state without becoming liquid. It sticks to everything and spreads on contact. Iodine stains walls and everything else. The stain may be red or yellow. It may be very noticeable if a photo, or other wall hanging is moved, revealing the contrast between stained and unstained.

Meth labs may be hidden behind false walls or other building alterations.  Alterations that make no sense should be suspect, such as: exhaust fans mounted where they have no logical use; bootlegged power supply; rooms that are unexplainably small.

Another thing all home buyers and Realtors should do before writing a contract on a home to purchase…is to check out the DEA Meth Laboratory Registry to see if the home has ever been used to manufacture drugs in the past.  The DEA link is http://www.justice.gov/dea/clan-lab/clan-lab.shtml .  Click on the state and scroll to the county where the property is located BEFORE you buy.

Thank you for visiting InfoTube.net.  Remember that you can’t always spot a meth house.  They are often nice homes located in nice area’s.  Check before you buy to avoid a nightmare that you may never recover from.

4 Tips to Become a Successful Landlord

Monday, September 24, 2012 posted by Tommi Crow

   Owning a piece or real estate with the objective of earning regular cash flow is probably the best known and most common form of real estate investing.   The rental property is the way a lot of people in the “middle class” have found a real opportunity to make a fortune, if they know what they need to be successful.

Thousands of distressed and vacant properties, historical low interest rates and rapidly increasing rental rates have converged and created a great opportunity.  If you are considering becoming a landlord, focus on 4 basic fundamentals to insure profits and success.

1.  Paying Tenants-  This may sound obvious, but the first fundamental you need to be a successful landlord is a good quality tenant who can pay the rent.

One of the biggest challenges for a landlord is keeping good paying tenants and avoiding vacancies.  If a property is vacant, it usually results in the loss of at least one month’s rent while the place is being freshened up and a new tenant is found.   We highly recommend that all prospective tenants be screened, including a background and criminal record check.   Landlord screening services are available to assist you or your property manager.

One of the best way to keep your rental occupied at all times is to invest in a location that attracts a lot of renters.  Neighborhoods near colleges and universities are filled with students who rent while they attend school…and for the most part, parents insure the rent will be paid.   Homes near education facilities are also in high demand and landlords can usually charge a rent premium for these properties.  Any area with a lot of employment opportunities will also have very good rental demand.  In many markets, larger, 4 or more bedroom homes are scarce.   Find a niche in your market that provides a stream of ready tenants. 

2.  Keep Expenses Low - Contolling costs are one of the basic fundamentals of successful real estate investing.  Some costs of property ownership are known, such as taxes and insurance…but, others are often beyond an investors ability to control. 

Property taxes and insurance are expenses that are determined by third parties.  Combined, they can easily cost at least one months rent each, or more.  On average, budget about one months rent to cover your insurance premium.  Property taxes are another matter and they can vary greatly.  High property taxes helped trigger the housing collapse in Florida, when landlords couldn’t earn any cash flow on rental property.  When searching for an investment property, make sure you verify the taxes because tax rates can easily cost as much as two or three monts rent.

3. Property Maintenance – Keeping your property in good working condition is a big part of managing a successful investment.  Again, screening tenants is key in keeping costs down.  A good tenant will certainly have normal wear and tear and your property, but they won’t do much damage.  However, a bad tenant can cause thousands of dollars in property repairs in a very short period of time.

As far as controlling expenses  is concerned…it is cheaper in the long run to address maintenance issues as they arise.   For example, a roof leak can cost a few hundred dollars to fix, but the price can quickly escalate to thousands of dollars and lost tenants, if ignored.   Although no one likes to pay maintenance expenses, being a slum lord is a costly proposition.  Deferred maintenance brings down the value of the entire property, increases ownership costs in the long term, decreases the amount of monthly rental income that can be charged and atracts renters with less than stellar references or ability to pay.

4.  Reduce Mortgage Costs – Refinance and lock in historical low interest rates.  Current quotes for investor loans for residential property are under 4%.  If you can reduce the amount of interest you pay for your money, it immediately increases your bottom line.  It is also a good idea to appeal tax assessments.  Contact your local taxing authority to see the procedure required.  Most people who go to the tax office armed with recent comps and educate themselves, can get some tax relief.

If renting is so great..why does your landlord own? For all the challenges of owning investment real estate, earning income while owning an asset that someone else pays for is still one of the best ways to create wealth.   If you get really good at it, you can make a good money, decrease the amount of taxes you pay and increase your networth multi-fold.   Lucky you.  Timing has never been better.

Thank you for visiting InfoTube.net.  Visit our site to search for homes, place a free listing, purchase an MLS or Realtor.com listing or buy marketing tools to assist you with sales or rentals.  Like InfoTube on Facebook for up to the minute news, marketing tips, design and staging idea’s.  You will LOVE it!      

Proof the Real Estate Market Has Turned Around

Wednesday, September 12, 2012 posted by Tommi Crow

The cover story for the September 10th weekly magazine Barron’s is on the recent surge in real estate and how the rise in property prices is no fluke.  We agree with the many experts and professionals that believe the recovery is real…and that is will continue in the foreseeable future. 

First take a look at the chart below.  You can see that housing starts (crucial to rebuilding our economy) bottomed in 2009 and have been trading in a healthy base pattern for 2 years.  In February of 2011, we finally started moving up off the bottom and the trend is continuing.

We all know that real estate can not thrive in an environment where lenders will not lend money.  Tracking real estate loans is a good indicator for the future direction of housing.  As you can see in the chart below, there has been a dramatic increase in lending, which has pushed the housing market higher over the past year.  We believe this trend will continue and will improve as lenders work there way past non-performing assets and bad loans liablities.

Finally, we show a chart of home prices since 1991.  The chart shows that home prices are certainly on a sustainable upward trend, since the 2006 crash.

 

In conclusion, we believe conclusive evidence shows that there is immediate long-term opportunities for homebuyers and investors in the housing market.  InfoTube is BULLISH on housing and the stocks of home builders, some REIT’s and home improvement giants like Home Depot and Lowes Hardware.

Thank you for visiting InfoTube.net.  We are Made in the USA manufacturers of the InfoTube and InfoBox real estate marketing tools.  If you have a home to sell…you need this product.  Exposure is everything in this market!!!  Show and Sell! 

Thanks to Barrons and Seeking Alpha for giving us facts and charts for this story.

New Rules for Comparable Sales and Apprasial Info

Wednesday, August 29, 2012 posted by Tommi Crow

The real estate meltdown has changed many things about the way we think about real estate and property values.  

Recently, we watched 3 home sales close in the same neighborhood.  Typically, the price per square foot and price range for all 3 homes would be similar…given that the ranch style homes were of similar age, size and were located in the same small neighoborhood.    What we learned today was that the 3 homes sold in a range from $200,000-$400,000…or from $100-$200 a square foot.  

The vast difference in the prices tells us a story about why comps (or comparable sales data) is not the indicator of true value that is has been in the past.   Today, we have essentially 3 housing markets, thus 3 price ranges in every neighborhood. 

    First, we have the bank owned home that sold for $200,000.   This is the home that no one cares about.  The lawn is 2 foot tall…the air conditioner has been pilfered through for copper and spare parts, the appliances have been stolen and the home has been abandoned.     This property was purchased by a rehab company, who will put a lot of money into its restoration, then resell it for a profit, at an estimated $400,000.

   Second, is the home that sold for $300,000, but, far short of the loan balance owed against it.  This house was always lived in and had never been vandalized, but all maintenance had been deferred and no updating had taken place in years.  The seller knew they were losing the home and had no money available to properly maintain the residence.    This home was sold to a young couple who didn’t mind doing some cosmetic work in order to save money. 

The third home located right around the corner from the other two closed for $400,000.  This home was meticulously maintained.  The interior and exterior had been upgraded with high end finishes and colors.   The home was move in ready.     The only thing this move up buyer had to do was unpack their personal belongings and enjoy themselves. 

As these 3 properties illustrate, we have 3 different real estate markets developing across the USA.    Typically, homes in the same neighborhood were very similiar to one another, so sales data was easy to compare.  Today, there may be 3 distinct markets in every neighborhood, so beaware that price ranges can vary greatly.  

If you are attempting to value property today, you must look at the category your home is in…ranging from bank owned/abandoned to high end/move in condition to determine the average price per square foot in your neighborhood.   Eventually, all this upheavel will work itself out… and houses in a neighborhood will once again be more similiar than different…but until then, make sure that you compare apples to apples when buying or selling

Thank you for visiting InfoTube.net.  Visit our website to place a FREE home listing, view great deals on all types of property, place an MLS listing or feature your property on Realtor.com.

Is Your Property the Pinball Listing??

Thursday, August 23, 2012 posted by Tommi Crow

   What is a Pinball Listing?

A pinball listing is a house that is listed for an unrealistic asking price.  It pulls in a lot of showings by agents and home shoppers, but receives no offers.  Real estate agents, including the listing agent for the home, use the overpriced house as a negative example to sell similar homes that are listed for lower prices.

Any pinball listing is basically a set up.  Listing agents show clients these homes to make realistically price homes look like fantastic deals, which is why the traffic for pinballs is high…but no sale will ever take place until the price is drastically reduced. 

What Happens to the Pinball Listed Home?   Unless it is being used by Realtors as a set up…they stop showing it until the seller agrees to reprice it at a realistic number.

Is it Ethical for a Broker to Accept a Pinball Listing?   NO!  It is not ethical to list a property at a price that an agents knows it will not sell.  If they do, they are intentionally misleading the seller.  Do agents list unrealistically priced houses to use as a set up, anyway?  YES, all day long.

How to Protect Yourself?  Interview several real estate agents before signing any listing agreement.  Get as much information as you can about CLOSED sales prices of comparable homes in your neighborhood.   If you are inclined, you can always push a little on the listing price, but if you get greedy, or try to go overboard…you may unknowingly become the set up, pinball, out of touch with the competition listing…that everyone loves to visit, but no one will buy.

Thank you for visiting InfoTube.net.  Visit our site to place a FREE property listing, search for great deals, MLS and Realtor.com flat fee listing packages, InfoTubes, InfoBoxes and More.

The Perforated House by Kavellaris Urban Design

This once vacant site is nestled at the eastern bookend between a row of single fronted Victorian terraces and a double fronted Edwardian weatherboard house.   The strategy was to critique and respond to ongoing research into the Terrace typology.   The built form is essentially an urban infill within a 5.5×14.4m envelope.  The perforated house is our response to establish an alternative language to the accepted notion of our cultural attitude towards critical questions of identity and heritage.

Kavellaris wanted the house to be more than just a facade.   More than just a message or a graphic stuck to a building.  The building was not an urban canvas paying tribute to Venturi’s “decorated shed”, instead the external facade could be experienced internally and is also a multi functional device that constantly transforms the built form from solid to void, from private to public, from opaque to translucent.

By day the building is heavy and reflective and by night inverting into a soft translucent permeable light box. The operable wall or the absence of the facade enabled us to remove the idea that houses are static.

The use of operable walls, doors, curtains and glass walls enables the occupants to change the experience and environment. This architectural manipulation of space blurred the boundaries between inside and outside, the public and private realm. The manipulated spaces overlapped and borrowed the amenity and context of it’s surrounding environment.

The plan inverts the traditional terrace program with the active living zones on the first floor opening onto a north facing terrace thereby generating a primary northerly orientation to a south facing block.  The perforated house incorporates passive sustainable interventions by orientating north glass bifolds doors and louvers for cross ventilation as the primary means of cooling.  In addition, solar hot water and 5 star rated sanitary ware fixtures were incorporated. The north facing terrace redefines the “family” backyard, reinforced by the childlike mural reminiscing on a past era and making commentary on the changing demography of the family unit and ultimately the inner city house typology.   The mural also hides a not so attractive view of the back of the neighbors house.

InfoTube Loves this house…and the way it transforms to fit the life of the owners.  We need to see a lot more of this type of architecture in the USA.   If you aren’t a Friend of InfoTubes Facebook page, you are missing a lot smart, fun and cutting edge stuff.  Click the button at the top right of the page and never be out of the loop again.