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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!      

                           The recession/depression and housing crash have certainly altered the old American Dream…at least for the foreseeable future.   The ongoing foreclosure crisis will drive another 3 million families to rent single family homes before 2015.

These millions of people are not typical renters, either.  They are older.  They have furniture, appliances, kids and pets.  They are not interested in apartment living.  They are looking to move back into single family homes, after foreclosure.   This new growth in single family rentals is the fastest growing part of the rental market and the pace is unprecedented.

A Nation of Renters Appears to be the Plan?

Private Equity groups smell the blood in the water.  They are buying up billons of dollars in distressed property, which they will in turn rent back to American families.  Colony Capital, for example, has purchased over 1ooo single family homes since December of this year and plans to invest at LEAST $1.5 BILLION more this year. 

In the next 5-10 years, investment firms will gobble up hundreds of billions of dollars of single family homes, at basement prices.  They will Raise rents every chance they get over the next 3-5 years.  Then, they will dump these properties for a profit and move on something else.

How does a Renting Society change the American neighborhood? 

The combination of transient families and declining home values will take a huge toll on American neighborhoods.    A rentership society is much less likely to spend money on plants, a fresh coat of paint, new carpet or a fenced yard—as they would if they owned the home they live in.   

Renters also mean shifts in student populations and present more challenges for our school systems.  Many schools in the Phoenix area report that 50% of their students will be new this year, a far higher percentage than normal.   Everything slows down when a new student enters a classroom and parents are less likely to be involved, when they are not sure they will be there for long.

Is American homeownership still the American Dream?

Thankfully, the answer is YES.  83% of people who lost their homes to foreclosure or distress sales say they want to own their own home again.  Most say they will buy something smaller than they had.  Many promise they will never again tie up so much of their income for a home.  Many who are forced to rent feel displaced.  They feel that they are living in someone else’s house.   They are fearful of entering retirement without having a home that is paid for…which only owning and paying off a mortgage will accomplish.    So, yes, neigborhoods are changing…new homeowners aren’t families, but are investment firms…but appears for all the right reasons… the American dream is alive… at least for now. 

Thank you for visiting InfoTube.net.  We have been helping homeowners, builders and investors market their properties since 1988.  We can help you, too.  Please visit our website for details.

CUMMING, Ga. (AP) — The government wants you to install solar panels at your house, and will even give you a tax break to do it. But your neighbors? Maybe not.

It’s a lesson Angel and David Dobs discovered when their homeowners association north of Atlanta denied their request to install solar panels on their roof. Neighborhood officials said the panels would look out of place and might lower home values in a community that regulates details as fine as the coloring of roof tiles, the planting of trees and the storage of trash cans.

“It’s like living under communism — someone gets to dictate every possible thing you do,” David Dobs said.

Homeowners associations around the country have banned or severely restricted the installation of solar panels, and the solar industry has pushed back to halt the practice. A recent attempt in Georgia to expand the right to go solar had support from environmentalists and some Republican lawmakers concerned about private property rights but it succumbed to opposition from developers and real estate agents.

Roughly two dozen states now forbid or limit homeowners associations or local governments from banning solar panels, according to a database run by North Carolina State University. Similar disputes have prompted lawsuits in Nebraska and California.

Angel and David Dobs supported the Georgia legislation after their run-in with the homeowners association. David Dobs had viewed the project as his personal contribution to prevent global warming.

Leaders of the Vickery Lake Homeowners Association in Cumming say the dispute is about architecture and aesthetics, not the merits of solar power. Homeowners automatically accept the community rules when they purchase a home there.

“We’re not going to debate whether it’s a good idea to have green energy or not,” said Jim Pearson, the association’s president.

These debates are likely to keep flaring as more people install solar energy systems because the equipment is getting cheaper and governments subsidize the cost. Taxpayers can now deduct 30 percent of the cost of installing solar panels from their federal tax bill. Other states and local governments offer additional incentives.

The fight is not new. Some solar rights laws date back to the 1970s, while other states have added similar measures more recently.

California’s law, first enacted in 1978, prevents homeowners associations from forcing residents to make aesthetic changes to photovoltaic panels that raise the cost by more than $2,000 or decrease a system’s efficiency more than 20 percent.

Most disputes in California are worked out privately, but a few have reached the court system. Last year, a California appellate court upheld a decision forcing a couple to remove solar panels that were installed in their yard without the approval of their homeowners association. They were allowed to keep other panels on their roof.

“They don’t like the way they look,” said attorney Michael McQueen, who represented the couple and others in similar disputes. “And (homeowners associations) are all about looks. Is your lawn green? Are your hedges trimmed?”

Ricardo Cestero, an attorney for the homeowners association, said neighborhood leaders were concerned the ground-level panels were not set back far enough from the street, were inadequately protected from damage and might cause erosion.

Texas adopted a law last year preventing homeowners associations from totally blocking solar panels. The law makes clear that residents can install them on roofs or in fenced-in yards or patios, subject to some limits. 

In Georgia, the fight between the Dobses and their homeowners association started in 2010. David Dobs said the rules required that he and his wife seek permission to build solar panels.

He first proposed installing 30 panels on two areas parallel to the slope of his roof. People could have seen sections of the three-by-five-feet panels as they walked or drove along the street.

The homeowners association rejected that request and three others from Dobs.

Board member Jim Graham said that to win approval, the panels would probably need to be out of view, perhaps mounted in a backyard and obscured by a fence — though fences too are subject to association approval.

Graham said that if people don’t like the rules, they are free to buy elsewhere.

“They chose to come into this community,” he said.

Lawmakers in Georgia tried to resolve the problem with legislation giving homeowners associations the rest of the year to decide whether to ban solar panels. Any neighborhood that did not set a ban by next year would be unable to stop a homeowner from installing solar panels in the future.

There were limits. Homeowners associations could restrict the panels to roofs or fenced-in backyards and patios. They could require that panels be installed parallel to the slope of a roof and ban any backyard solar equipment that rose higher than the surrounding fence.

Even in states that give homeowners the right to install solar panels, homeowners associations still ban them.

Neighborhood leaders in a Salem, Ore., subdivision rejected Larry Lohrman’s request to install solar panels on his roof because their rules banned the equipment, Lohrman said. He successfully argued that a 1979 solar rights law made that ban illegal, and he and a neighbor helped the association draft guidelines governing the installation of solar panels.

His panels were installed and started producing power in 2010, though Lohrman said he nearly abandoned the effort in frustration during the year it took to write the new guidelines for his homeowners association.

“They’re just afraid that someone’s going to put up this big, honking ugly thing that reflects light and just looks ugly,” he said. 

Associated Press reporter Kate Brumback contributed to this report. Follow Ray Henry on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/rhenryAP

InfoTube thinks some logical thought should prevail on this issue.   On one hand, we want to encourage US independence from fossil fuels that harm our environment and fund terrorism.  On the other hand, homeowner association rules are in place to protect the beauty, value and function of a neighborhood..  Restrictions against solar panels are common in most associations and those rules were in place when the homes were initially purchased. 

Rising Rents Push Homebuyers Into the Market

Tuesday, April 10, 2012 posted by Tommi Crow

Sharply rising rents are pushing buyers into the real estate market this spring. 

Rising Rents Push Fence Sitting Homebuyers

Take a minute to watch this short video from the Wall Street Journal.   From now on…fence sitting will cost you!!

Thank you for visiting InfoTube.net.  Please LIKE us on Facebook!!

A Green or Living Roof… is a concept that has been around for centuries and is becoming increasingly popular in the United States.    Cities such as Atlanta, Portland and Chicago now offer incentives to encourage builders to put green roof’s on their buildings.  The green roof on the Chicago City Hall (shown below) is one of the earliest and best known examples in the USA.

Why are Green Roofs Good for Man and Earth?

1.   Adding Green Roofs to Buildings in Urban Area’s has a dramatic effect on high temperatures, which are increasing.          A green roof can decrease cooling costs by 50-90% depending on the amount of glass used in the building.  On average, the use of green or living roof materials in cities can reduce overall summer temperatures by 4-7 degrees.   Imagine a July high temp of 82 vs 90.

2.  Living roofs dramatically reduce storewater runoff and they filter pollutants and heavy metals out of rainwater.                           They can retain up to 75% of rainfall and reduce the need for expensive underground sand filters that meet storm water regulations. 

3.  Green Roofs Filter pollution and carbon dioxide out of the air, which lowers respitory diseases such as asthma.  Check out the green walled homes built in Austria below.

4.   Living Roofs create a Natural Habitat for Birds, Bee’s, Butterflies and Insects in Urban and Rural Settings.  They increase our agricultural space and can be used to grow food, herbs, fruiting tree’s and shrubs.

5.  Green Roofs Require Little to No Maintenance…and Mowing can be fun :)

6.  Living Roofs dramatically improve a roof’s insulation value and cuts heating and cooling bills about 25% on average.  The roof’s also last two to three times as long as a standard asphault shingled roof.

Flower Tower Building – Paris, France

7.  Green Roof’s Increase Real Estate Values and Earn LEED’s points

The idea of Green roof’s may be centuries old..but in the 21st century they are becoming new again.  They increase life, and the beauty of it…in addition they make financial and environmental sense.  

Thank you for visiting InfoTube.net.   If you are installing or caring for a green roof…please send us your pictures or share you story with us.  We are always looking for new ways to improve quality of life and the value of real estate.

If you are one of the millions of Americans who would love to take advantage of record low home prices and record high levels of foreclosures, but your cash on hand is coming up  little short… consider using a portion of your IRA funds to buy a piece of rental property.

Millions of Americans have billions of dollars tied up in IRA’s that nay be paying little to no interest or gains to investors.  Maybe it’s time you considered diversifing from stocks or mutual funds… and add some tempting real estate bargains into the mix.

Here are the basic rules:

  • The funds used to buy the property must be held in a self directed IRA.  You can not use 401K funds or Roth IRA’s to buy real estate, but you can roll over those funds into an IRA before you buy.
  •  The property you buy must be an investment property.   You can not buy a second home or primary residence with IRA funds without paying a penalty.
  • You must pay cash for the investment property.  You can not borrow or take out a mortgage against your IRA investments.  
  • Monthly rental income must be placed back into the IRA account.
  • When the property is Sold…the sale proceeds must be deposited back into the IRA.
  • No taxes are due on rental income or capital gains held in the IRA, until the money is withdrawn at retirement age, so earnings grow tax free.
  • The IRA can pay all expenses associated managing and maintaining the property.
  • You can use a property manager or manage it yourself.

Real Estate IRA

Here is a simple example of how the investment could grow and fund your retirement.

  • You buy a $100,000 rental property with IRA funds.
  • You collect $10,000 a year in rent that is paid directly back into the IRA. 
  • After 10 years, the entire $100,000 you invested in the home has been paid back into the IRA.  Bonus, you still own the property and you can sell it anytime you chose and put the proceeds into your account, too.
  • You pay NO TAXES on income or capital gains until you withdraw money from the IRA.

Tax deferred gains

Buying a foreclosure with IRA money can be a great way to diversify your retirement portfolio and take advantage of historically cheap real estate prices and highly motivated sellers.  As with any tax related investment…ALWAYS consult your tax expert before investing.

Thank you for visiting InfoTube.net.  The spring home selling season is underway and it looks to be the best one in several years.  If you are in the market for home, this is a great time to be shopping.   Check out some of the great deals on our site…or place your property listing on our site for FREE.

If you are selling a home, we can set you up with an MLS listing and you can still sell the property yourself.  Click Here to learn more.

    When it comes to successful real estate investing, I’ve learned the my purchase price has nothing to do with making money.  Good tenants are the key to making money.  If you are seeking a reliable stream of steady income, with few to no hassles…buy a property that will attract “A” quality tenants who will renew their leases year after year. 

As a novice investor, I often wasted a lot of time and money searching for “a deal” on a house.    I worried about who I would rent it to, later.  After years of losing money and sleep, I learned that seasoned investors use a strategy completely opposite from what I had been doing.  They pictured the most desirable and profitable tenant in the market…then, concentrated on locating a piece of property that would attract that type of tenant. 

If you are searching for a piece investment property that will bring in income, picture who your ideal tenant will be, then buy a piece of property that will draw them in!!   “A” quality tenants look for common ammenities in a rental home… 

  1. Search for properties that are located near strong, vibrant downtown or commercial corridors.  If the area is thriving, you should be in good shape.  If the business district is run down or boarded up, think twice about investing in that location..
  2. Quality tenants live in clean areas of town with parks and recreation options, good schools, medical facilities and reliable police and fire protection. 
  3. Buy property that has easy access to convenient transportation, interstates or major thoroughfares.
  4. Look for neighborhoods that are filled with owner occupied homes, not other rental properties.  You want the area you invest in to be filled with homeowners, not other renters.
  5. The Best Tenants are Long Term Tenants.   If you find a foreclosure or a distressed property, chances are it will be in need of repairs and updating.  Plan to  spend money after closing to make the place nice and fix anything that is broken.  You want your property to be a place that your renter is proud to call their home.
  6. As a general rule, families make the best long term tenants.  On average, families stay in one rental house for 4+ years.  To attract “A” quality families to your property, look for single family homes with a minimum of 3 bedrooms and 2 baths.  The best homes also have 2 car garages, 2 living and eating area’s and a good size yard.
  7. Size Matters to a family. My most profitable properties have not been the cheapest homes, they’ve been the largest.  Large 4 bedroom homes in good neighborhoods, with good schools have been proven winners time after time.   Why?  Most rentals on the market tend to be smaller, starter type homes.  The lack of competition for a large house makes finding and keeping good tenants much easier.
  8. Seek out locations with large employment bases.  Tenants look first at homes located within a 15 minute drive from their workplace.  

In conclusion, it is not “deal” or a cheap sales price that will make you money on rental property.   Properties in “A” condition and “A” locations attract “A” quality tenants that create the positive returns you are seeking. 

Thank you for visiting InfoTube.net a FREE homes for sale and rent website for owners, builders and investors.  If you are selling property, we offer turnkey marketing programs that can save you thousands of dollars, while reaching millions of home shoppers each and every day.  We have helped thousands of people sell their homes since 1989…we can certainly help you, too! 

Demand Made in the USA products like InfoTube and InfoBox when you shop!!  We can rebuild our country!!

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 

National Home Improvement Stores Outsource American Jobs to China                                                                                                                            Home Depot, Lowe’s vendor ignores U.S. patents, outsources popular INFOBOX®  

ASHEVILLE, North Carolina (May 10, 2011)—Recently, Hillman Group, vendor to national DIY home-improvement retail giants Lowe’s, Home Depot, and Menards, replaced the store’s popular American-made INFOTUBE® and INFOBOX® products with Chinese factory replicas. 

INFOTUBE® literature boxes were invented 23 years ago in a garage in Dallas, TX, to provide Realtors®, builders and homeowners with an affordable way to sell their homes. Today, millions of these patented real-estate literature boxes are being used in neighborhoods across America. 

In March, Hillman informed Crow Erickson it was replacing INFOTUBE® and INFOBOX® products effective immediately, leaving thousands of boxes stranded on the docks and effectively closing the doors of the Asheville, NC-based manufacturer and inventor. Caplugs® factory jobs in Erie, PA and Buffalo, NY will also be affected, two areas already hard hit in this economy. 

Crow Erickson’s patent attorney has inspected the Chinese product, currently available on Home Depot’s website, and it does appear to be copy of the INFOBOX® design, something Hillman insiders have conceded. The Chinese knockoff provides no cost savings to the consumer. 

This is not the first time Hillman has ignored U.S. patents and put American jobs in jeopardy, including the hundreds of disabled and handicapped American workers that Crow Erickson has employed at competitive wages in partnership with vocational rehabilitation centers.

 In the 1990s, Hillman tried to outsource INFOTUBE® products, a patent violation against which Crow Erickson took legal action. The settlement required Hillman to renew its contract for INFOTUBE® and agree not to compete in its product niche. 

Apparently Hillman is banking on the rising cost of lawsuits to deter the small, woman-owned business from pursuing legal remedy this time around. 

Crow Erickson has made numerous direct appeals to the Hillman Group and senior management at Lowe’s and Home Depot, citing its 20+ year successful partnership, patent concerns, and a desire to work with all parties for a mutually beneficial and cost-competitive resolution. 

To date, Crow Erickson has not been able to engage Hillman, Lowe’s or Home Depot in any meaningful discussion and has been left with no recourse other than pursue costly legal action or close its doors and watch another American-made product fall victim to Chinese factories. 

Crow Erickson is currently launching a public media campaign to save American jobs. More information can be found on www.infotube.net and the company’s blog. INFOTUBE® is also sponsoring an online petition to save American jobs from export to China which can be viewed and signed on The Petition Site at Help-Save-American-Jobs.

Contact:

Tommi Crow

President, Crow Erickson, Inc.

800-858-6000 (o) 828-230-2260 (cel)

tommi@infotube.net

If you have been following our blog, then you know that The Hillman Group went to China and made a copy of our patented, US made InfoBox that is sold at retailers such as Lowes, Home Depot and Menards. 

Hillman planned, and spent a great deal of time and money to steal the InfoBox, replace it on the store shelves with it’s ”Yellow”-lidded Chinese copycat.  The goal is to put another US company out of business and toss its workers to the wind. 

Well, we have another plan!  FIGHT BACK!!!

We are placing a BOUNTY and REWARD on the Yellow Chinese Hillman Box.  If you can find and purchase one of these boxes, please do immediately

  • Mail the china box to 1854A Hendersonville Rd #221 – Asheville, NC 28803, along with your receipt.
  • We will send you TWO (2) FREE, Original, 100% Made in the USA INFOBOXES with the Bright, Red Lids    
  • OR, TWO (2) FREE INFOTUBES, The Originals, Made in the USA  with the Bright, Red Caps to your Door at NO CHARGE!!!!  
  • Sign the InfoTube Care2 Petition to Save American Jobs, Companies and Products by CLICKING HERE
  • We are looking forward to returning ALL the Chinese boxes to the store ourselves!!!

Your voice and support matter to American workers, American home owners and America!!!  Thank you in advance for helping us fight!!!

Tommi Crow, owner of Infotube and InfoBox

Landlords Gain Ground in Rental Market

Wednesday, October 6, 2010 posted by Tommi Crow

Wall Street Journal Blog Post:

Perhaps tired of doubling up with family or living in mom’s spare bedroom, renters are heading back into the market, driving down vacancies and driving up rents.

Nationwide, the vacancy rate measured 7.2% in the third quarter, down from 7.9% a year earlier-one of the sharpest declines on record, according to new data released Wednesday by Reis Inc.

“Despite lackluster economic growth and continuing uncertainty in the labor markets, households appear to be returning in droves to the rental market and signing leases,” writes Victor Calanog, Reis’ director of research. (See Apartment Market, Rents Rebound)

Landlords took the opportunity to bump up rents for the third quarter in a row. “We are getting more rent every time we either renew the lease or a new resident comes in,”  Jeffrey Friedman, chief executive of apartment owner Associated Estates Realty Corp., tells Developments. The days of renter perks like free rent and flat-screen TVs are largely over, although landlords could be back in the incentive game if job growth doesn’t materialize next year.

The New York City metro area saw the biggest jump in rents, gaining 2.2% from the second quarter; to an average of $2,756–the costliest rent by far in the country. ( If you want cheap rent move to Tulsa, which ranks last of 82 markets with average rent of $540.)

Greenville, S.C., and suburban Virginia also saw rental gains topping 2%. Not surprisingly, rents continued to decline in some of the markets hardest hit by the housing crash. The usual suspects–Miami, Jacksonville, Fla., and Las Vegas–each dipped 0.2%.

When measuring vacancy, the nation’s tightest market is New Haven, Conn., with just 2.3% of units empty, thanks to those college kids. New York follows with 3.6%, while Long Island’s vacancy rate is 3.9%.

Jacksonville tops the list at 12.1%.    

Thank you for visiting InfoTube.net FREE homes for sale and rent website.  We experts at selling real estate.  Visit our website and learn how we do it!

Student Housing Maybe a Good Real Estate Investment

Thursday, September 30, 2010 posted by Tommi Crow

By Jennifer Waters

MarketWatch

(MCT)

CHICAGO – The housing market is still in the tank and doesn’t seem likely to emerge anytime soon, but there are investment opportunities in one segment: student housing.

It’s not a risk-free proposition, and it’s far more management-intensive than conventional multifamily properties. But student housing has a long history of growth and stability and promises to repeat the pattern as college enrollment stays on its upward trajectory.

“Demand and supply conditions for housing are bad,” said David Stiff, chief economist with Fiserv, which publishes the Case-Shiller Home Price Index. “But in college towns, demand conditions are slightly better. There’s a stable source of new demand every year.”

There are at least three paths to investment in college towns: individually; in a partnership, or as a shareholder in one of two publicly traded real estate investment trusts, American Campus Communities Inc. and Education Realty Trust Inc.

An initial public offering is on deck for a third, Campus Crest Communities Inc., which expects to list on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol “CCG.”

REITs focused on student housing have become investment magnets for large pension funds. Some bigger syndicates have partnerships with larger funds. Campus Advantage Inc., one of the nation’s largest private student-housing companies, is managing and helping to develop properties for the California Public Employees Retirement System.

“Comparable to other similar product-type investment opportunities, student housing is a really good investment,” said Michael Orsak, vice president at Campus Advantage, which manages and owns 50 properties across the U.S., mostly in the Southeast, Midwest and Texas. The industry measures its size based on beds. For Campus Advantage, that translates into 30,000 beds.

“These investments return pretty stable cash-on-cash yields going in and should continue to hold up in the long term vs. other similar product types that might have larger peaks and troughs in occupancy and rental-rate growth,” he said.

Orsak said most institutions can expect a cash-on-cash yield in the first year at 8 percent to 9 percent. “I don’t know where a pension fund can find that today in the stock market or bonds,” he said.

Though markets differ by campus – large public universities have steady enrollment; smaller schools are growing exponentially – the national statistics on enrollment are strong.

In 2010, a record 19.1 million students were enrolled in two-year and four-year colleges and universities, a 25 percent jump since 2000, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. That underscores a consistent uptick in enrollment that is expected to continue – albeit at a slower pace – until at least 2018, as the last of the baby boomers’ children reach college age.

Coupled with the recession, which has prompted many to go back to school for second and advanced degrees, enrollment in post-secondary schools has rarely been so robust.

Moreover, today’s students aren’t living in the kind of housing their parents once inhabited. Many are leaving a home where they had their own bedroom and bathroom, a separate family or media room and amenities either at home or nearby. They expect the same when they leave campus – and parents appear willing to pay for it.

Campus Crest, which owns and manages 27 properties, or 13,580 beds, boasts of its amenities in its initial public offering prospectus. All of its properties – which, like Campus Advantage and ACC, are considered Class A – offer what Campus Crest calls “bed-bath parity,” or a private bathroom for each student.

The Campus Crest properties all have Internet access, a full kitchen with up-to-date appliances, washers and dryers inside each unit, ample parking and a broad array of other on-site amenities, such as “resort-style swimming pools, tanning booths, basketball and volleyball courts, game rooms, coffee bars and community clubhouses with regularly planned social activities.” Plus they’re all fully furnished.

“We strive to offer not just an apartment but an entire lifestyle and community experience designed to appeal to the modern-day college student,” according to the IPO documents.

Education Realty Trust takes a similar, resort-like approach to its owned and managed properties, which consist of more than 37,800 beds in 22 states, with a high concentration in Florida and Georgia.

All of these perks cost money, of course, and the monthly price on a student apartment is generally about 10 percent to 20 percent higher than a traditional apartment.

“The tenants are not constrained by real-life economics because, of course, they’re not footing the bill,” said Joung Park, an analyst who covers ACC for investment researcher Morningstar Inc.   Typically the parents are paying the lease, lessening the chance of default.

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Legal Advice for New Landlords.

Monday, September 27, 2010 posted by Tommi Crow

Some legal tips for Landlords:

1.  Some communities charge rental permit fee’s.  Property owners should be aware that unpaid fee’s can invalidate the lease agreement.

2.  All leases should include Key elements.  At a minimum include…dates that the lease active; the rental fee agreement; how the deposit will be held; the responsibilities of each party with regard to repairs and maintenance.

3.  The security deposit CAN NOT exceed 1 and 1/2 months rent… In other words, if the rent is $1000, the maximum security deposit that could be collected is $1500.

4.  If your property is not up to code…the tenant has the the right to hold rent in escrow versus paying it to the landlord.   Simply put, the rent can be withheld to force the landlord into making repairs and bringing his property up to code.

5.  Landlords can evict a tenant for damaging the property (serious damage, not normal wear or tear) or using the property for illegal purposes.

Thank you for visiting InfoTube.net Free homes for sale and rent website.  Take a look at some fabulous properties or place a free listing about yours!  We are here to help you!

Tips for New Landlords

Tuesday, September 21, 2010 posted by Tommi Crow

Given the millions of homes that are languishing on the market, it’s no surprise that many owners are considering leasing their homes in order to avoid big financial losses.  If you are an owner that is debating the pro’s and con’s of leasing your property, we have some very valuable advice to share with you.

Leasing out your home can be a great experience.   A good tenant will care for your property, while paying your mortgage.   Owning investment property also has tax benefits, and while the home selling market maybe soft…the present rental market is stronger than ever.

TIPS FOR A NEW LANDLORD!

  • Don’t be afraid of bad credit.  References are as important as a credit report.   In addition, many renters who lost their homes have gotten rid of their biggest expense…their mortgage.  So, if their references check out and they have good jobs, don’t let a bad credit report scare you.
  • Ask the tenant to provide a current copy of their credit report, references and their last paycheck stub. 
  • Call the renter”s employer to verify that they are still working there.
  • Consider hiring a private investigator for less than $50.  They can immediately find out whether the tenant is a scammer or not.
  • Check you local laws to see if you have to have a permit to rent out your house.
  • If you are using a standard lease agreement, ask your lawyer to look it over and avoid potential surprises.
  • Build in convenience for yourself.  Requests wire transfers and automatic deposits for monthly rent payments.
  • Craigslist and InfoTube.net are fantastic places to advertise your rental.  Best of all, both sites are Free and allow pictures.

Thank you for visiting InfoTube.net, your FREE homes for sale and rent listing website.  Please check back in with us tomorrow when continue our blog with Property Management Tips for Homeowners.

The recently signed Distressed Condominium Relief Act of Florida has Wall Street and bulk investors diving  into the Florida condo market.

Florida  implented the act on July 1st and the result has been overwhelmingly successful, so far.   The first thing the act did was give condo associations the right to demand deliquent renters pay rents directly to the association.    Even more significant, the law eliminated developer liability.  Prior law defined a developer as  anyone who sold or leased more than 7 units in a condo in one year.   Under the old law, “Developers” faced potential unlimited liabilities for such things as construction warranties..

By removing the unlimited liabilty for bulk investors, major Wall Street firms, which represent billions in assets and capital, descended on South Florida and began gobbling up condo units in bulk.  “Since the law went into place, activity has been “off the charts”, said Peter Zaleswski, founder of Condo Vultures.   “We’re moving away from a situation where it’s 10 oe 20 units in a bulk buy, to one where it’s 100 or 200 or even 300 units,” Zalewski said.  “You have several Wall Street funds competing on the same projects.  It’s all because of the change in the new law.”

Good news for Florida homeowners and builders…Zalewski said the change has been drastic.  “I would challenge you to find one of the largest groups on Wall Street who’s not looking into South Florida right now.”  Zalewski predicted…”I would anticipate you see some huge numbers put on the board by the end of the year.”

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