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My New Blog!

Hi Everyone,

I’m in the process of converting the posts from this blog to my new blog: http://www.thestealthreinvestor.com.  Talk you there soon!

Happy Investing!

Happy 2011!

Sorry it’s been a while since I’ve posted.  I’ve been super busy with the Holidays, work, a blizzard and tons of family obligations.  Also, I have been terribly sick the past few days…so I haven’t even been on the computer at all lately!   ;-)    Due to all the holiday craziness, I took a break from REI the past couple weeks (with the exception of checking MLS listings and looking at one rental property).  However, I am planning to get on the horse starting on Monday.

Oh, and right before Christmas, a friend called me saying her daughter had lice (one of my daughter’s good friends.).  Apparently, a ton of kids in another class had it. Yuck!   Ugh..I had to spend tons of time washing everything as a precaution and checking my daughter’s head constantly (thankfully, she’s all clear!!).  So, because of this, I did a ton of research on lice prevention and some good tips for doing so safely.  For example, I sprayed a mixture of tea tree oil and water on her head as one means of prevention (here’s a tip: tea tree oil should be used with caution on pre-pubescent boys!) .  Maybe I should write an ebook about it to create some passive income!

I did get some cool Christmas gifts, such as some workout stuff and some REI books.  My husband also bought me the book The Go-Giver, so I’m excited to read that one.  (Thanks for the tip on that book, Shae and Steph.)

In between resting and watching TV today to feel better, I did take a moment to write down some 2011 goals on an index card.  I wrote down things such as – monetizing my blog and further monetizing my other websites (such as http://www.buying-your-first-home.com), eating better and getting back to working out, creating more passive income streams, obtaining rental properties with positive cash flow, etc.   Did you write down any goals?  If so, what were they?

On an unrelated note, just read this article about how it’s great having a December birthday (the comments are very interesting, too).  For someone who is born right after Christmas, trust me, it ain’t all it’s cracked up to be. I’ve always wanted a June or August birthday.  When you’re born near Christmas, people often forget your birthday and the insulting scribble of  “Happy Birthday” as an afterthought sent on a Christmas card gets me riled every time.  I’d much rather take a (free) phone call to wish me Happy Birthday.  Although since there are 2 other family members with birthdays right around mine (my dad’s was on Christmas Day), my husband, friends and family are really great about making my birthday special.  And my husband knows to NEVER wrap my birthday presents in Christmas paper.  That’s the biggest insult of all! LOL!

2011 is going to be an awesome year!  I still plan to be out of my job this year, baby!

Happy New Year and Happy Investing! 

Related Articles

As many of you are doing, I’m thinking about my 2011 goals.  I am trying to think of additional ways to make passive income, in addition to real estate, so I can leave my job next year.   So, I’m still working on the Financial Freedom GPS program, as well as watching the videos for the new divamoneyclub.com website.  This passive income site (for Divas and Divos!) is yet another timely thing that has come into my life as I’m searching for my way out of Corporate America. Check it out, if you have the chance.

And interestingly, or coincidentally, over the past couple of months I’ve thinking of moving this free blog to a one where I can advertise, something mentioned on the divamoneyclub.com site.   I already have a “webuyhouses” site and also one for which has tons of grants and free info regarding buying your first home. The former I don’t advertise on (the Adsense ads that populated were other “we buy houses” sites), the latter generates some decent Adsense money, enough to pay for the site and some extra, but I really need to monetize more.

Any advice for monetizing this blog?  Should I move it to WordPress.org or Blogger?  I know pretty much everyone prefers WordPress, but I’d love any and all opinions here!  And whatever is the “simplest” way to transition it, that’d be great!

On the REI front, we didn’t get the 3 family we bid on… the seller wanted too much.  Although it still was a deal, but we always want a bargain!  And we’ve had a couple of appointments to view rentals over the past couple weeks but they’ve been cancelled/rescheduled a few times due to tenant notice and my ridiculous work schedule.  I swear, this job gets in the way of all my side ventures! LOL!

Happy Holidays and Investing!

Hello Everyone,

Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving.  It’s back to work!

A couple weeks back, we made an offer on a great 3 family nearby.  It was recently rehabbed and de-leaded, rented with long term tenants and it also had a parking lot for extra income.   The cash flow would be at least $800 a month, depending on our financing.  We made a first offer of owner financing at 8% with a 10% downpayment (I looked at the on-line deed records and I thought the seller may have owned it outright).  The seller came back and countered with non-owner financing, he countered pretty close to asking.  We countered again for about 11k under asking. The seller came back asking about $6k under asking, but we said our last offer was highest and best.  We haven’t heard back, so I assume he’s not interested.  Our Agent told us that they also had another offer on the table, for the same amount (as our final offer).  Interesting, huh?   This one would have been great, but we’re not going to overpay.   The seller just bought this house back in April for $215k and wanted to sell quickly, but I guess he didn’t want to sell that fast enough, since he has it listed for $239k.   And I just got word that the house went under agreement today.  Another one bites the dust (cue the song).

Oh, and one of the REOs we made an offer on a while ago is back on the market again.  This means the property will be on the market close to a year and a half…and they wouldn’t take our offer?  These banks are really ridiculous.   I guess they want to go through another winter with maintenance, snow removal and the risk of  frozen pipes. 

In the process of looking at this deal, we talked to a lender about conventional financing for rentals. I knew this was a waste of time, since we are down to one income since my husband was laid off.  But, the guy I talked to was nice and suggested just going with my income, since I have long term job employment.  He was impressed by my (and our) high credit scores, but said my own debt to income ratio is too high to buy a rental, which I know, since we already have a mortgage and other bills.   But, I did talk to a couple of other hard money types that have been helpful.  There are some awesome people over at BiggerPockets.com (BP) that have been great.  BTW, if you are not a BP member, do join, it’s a great place to learn and connect with others.  The main sticking point is that we don’t want to take all of our reserves to use as a 30% (or more) downpayment, since that is a significant amount of money here with our local real estate prices.  So, I gotta figure out a way to make it work. I’m a little stuck in the private lending department, too.  It’s a long story, but with my 9-to-5 and the work I do, I do have SEC guidelines I follow with my day to day job, so private lending on the side is really not possible.  I need to find a way around this…I think I’d be ok with lenders with whom I have a previous relationship, but to seek out new people I think would not be possible.  I am still loving the PMBP course, and I knew my job would be an issue, but I may need to hold off private lending until I leave the job. 

So, in the meantime, we are still looking at REI and other ways of making passive and not-so-passive income…like getting back into eBay and stuff like that.  Anything we can do to make enough to pay our bills (to reach our “number” found in Shae’s Financial Freedom GPS), is what we need to do.

That leads me to my goals for next year.  I really need and want to be out of my job by next summer. I am willing to do anything I need to accomplish this.  I just wish all these things I want to do wouldn’t take as long as they should to happen!

Happy Investing!

In a previous post, I talked about my favorite REI podcasts.   Well, seeing it’s the season of giving, I thought I’d share a few more of my favorites, which teach me things and keep me motivated:

  • Lifestyles Unlimited – This is a REI coaching company from TX that has an (almost) daily radio show, which is also posted on iTunes.  It’s a great show and I learn a lot every time I listen. They always give sensible advice, which I like.  Their main focus is buy and hold/rentals, but they discuss all areas of REI.  I wish they had coaching nationwide!
  • Flip2Freedom.com – This is a fairly new podcast hosted by Sean Terry.  He’s a wholesaler that recently set up a coaching program.  But, even if you’re not interested in the coaching, the podcasts are really helpful, especially if your focus is wholesaling. (Also available on iTunes.)
  • Blog Talk Radio – This website has tons of podcasts about all sorts of topics, including REI.  I like several REI shows on this site, including Peter Giardini’s. (Also available on iTunes.)

Oh, and speaking of motivation, Steph over at flipthiswholesaler.net had a contest regarding what motivates her readers and the winners get to attend a coaching call with her.  I was selected as one of her winners!  Yeah!!   Holy cow, this is my year of winning these blog contests (don’t hate!).  I need to translate all these winnings into cash dollars!  Writing that just made my think of “GSM,” as my husband always says, based on that hilarious “Gimme Some Money” song in Spinal Tap!  LOL!  Ok, I just amused myself, gotta go!

Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving!

Happy Investing!

Cool Free Stuff!

Amercian self-help writer Napoleon Hill (1883-...
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I just signed up for a motivational quote of the day by the Napoleon Hill website, naphill.org.  You can register for a quote of the day sent to your email box.  I even had the email quote sent to my phone so I have to see it daily.  It’s a great motivational tool.

And, since everyone is talking about Holiday shopping this week, here’s a great site for some Black Friday Deals!  I, personally, won’t be out with the people searching for deals at 4am Friday.  I’ll be shopping on-line for deals at home in my PJs, while still bloated from overeating at Thanksgiving, thank you very much!   :-)  The website has plenty of good store deals and also cyber shopping deals!

On a REI related noted, we have made an offer on a rental property with good cash flow and received a counter. Not sure if it is going to work, but I’ll post more when I have more news to share.   I don’t want to jinx this one!  In the meantime, if someone can recommend a lender that can finance a fully rented cash cow in MA, let me know.  A lot of local lenders are looking for really high downpayments.  Thanks!

 Happy Investing and Happy Thanksgiving!

Things have been busy yet again this week.  With all the Halloween festivities and a super busy couple weeks at work, it was tough to get a lot of REI stuff done.  Even so, we were able to look at a few houses this week. One of which was on Monday night, but it was after dark, which is not a good idea, when the house has no electricity.  LOL!  Luckily, my camera got some good shots with the flash.  Although even though it was dark, we could still see the house needed WAY too much work. The listing said that 90% of the rehab had been done.  Yeah, sure…so I guess the other 10% includes  drywall, windows, floors, paint, etc!😉

I also have been reviewing Shae’s Financial Freedom GPS.   It has some really great content.  Some of the things she talks about I have already thought about or are doing, but there are a lot of good exercises and time management strategies.  That’s the stuff I really appreciate – Shae had the same struggles many of us 9-to-5ers have – how do you balance a demanding job, family, kids, tons of other stuff and your REI biz?  I can handle all the “work” involved with REI.  I mean, I am really organized and determined, but just finding the time in a given week is so hard sometimes.  I swear, I could be kicking some serious butt if I didn’t have the 9-to-5.  And like Shae says in the book, I also hope and want and wish to get laid off all the time.   With my years of service, I’d get about a years severance pay, which would be pretty darn awesome.  But I digress.  Anyway, I also did the exercise of coming up with our “number” for financial freedom – this is the amount we need to cover each month for all our family/household bills.  If we can come up with enough passive income to cover this monthly amount  (with a bit of a savings buffer), we’ll be set and I can quit.    The only variable in our “number” is the cost of health insurance.  I added in an approximate number, but that could be higher or lower, since the costs can vary widely, especially for a family plan. 

By the way, I noticed this article over at Tim Ferriss‘ Blog.  It talks about being clear with your requests to your virtual assistant (VA).  While I agree with most of the info, there are things that need to be more detailed, especially if you’re dealing with offshore VAs.  For example, most of the world formats their dates in the DD/MM format, not MM/DD, as we do in the US.  Also, you need to be very clear regarding acronyms, abbreviations, nick names, etc.  In my “day job” we deal with this a lot and you need to be crystal clear with your requests/documentation, or they can easily be misunderstood.  For those of you that use VAs, what are your thoughts?

Happy Investing!

The Road to Freedom

The past couple weeks have been very busy.  Even so, we still looked at a few properties over the past week.  A couple were good bites for rentals and one or two were good rehabs.  We want to look at a couple more tomorrow to see if we will be making any offers.

I’ve still been fielding calls from our inherited property mailing.  Still working on those leads.  I’ve also been posting to and responding to ads on Craigslist.  No real promising leads yet, but I’m working on it.  I search and scour ads looking for ones where sellers may want to sell via owner financing (I also set up Google Alerts so they’re emailed to me).  I responded to one such ad I found and we played email and phone tag.  I haven’t heard from him in a couple days, and saw that he deleted his ad, so I’m assuming he’s found a buyer.   I’ll keep trying him to see if that’s a case.  I also am checking for rent ads to see if anyone is willing to sell on owner financing.  I also placed a Craigslist ad under the rental category to see if I could get any bites from any frustrated landlords.

At work, we’ve been working on our year end reviews and goals for next year.  I’m so not into it.  Can I write for my goals for next year that I wanna be outta there?   ;-)  I guess I cannot do that, but it’s really how I feel.   Every year they expect us to do more with less people and it’s just getting ridiculous.  I know in this economy things are hard and I truly am grateful to have a job, especially since my husband got laid off, but still.  It doesn’t mean I have to be miserable.  And I just cannot stand how much time my job sucks up.  I work well more than 40 hours and I often skip lunch and have late meetings, which really makes it hard to talk to sellers or see properties during the week, but I do my best.   Although I have to say, even with all those negatives, the main reason I want to be done with my job really is to have the freedom…financial freedom and freedom of my time.  Too many people I know have wasted years at jobs because they were “stuck” and were not happy for fulfilled.  I’ve done my time in Corporate America.  It’s time for my sentence to end.  

So, as I was feeling tired and stressed after work yesterday, I came home from work to find an email from Shae Bynes with the info regarding my prize of winning a copy of her new product Financial Freedom GPS!  I’m so excited.  I cannot tell you how timely this email was.  I put the audios on my iPod and I cannot wait to dig in and learn.  I really need more assistance regarding getting my financial house in order before I leave my job by next summer.  So far, her course looks AWESOME and I barely have scratched the surface. 

And on a related note, one of the themes of Vena Jones-Cox’s radio show/podcast this week (available on iTunes) was how to use real estate investing so you’re no longer living paycheck to paycheck.  It’s like every sign in the universe is guiding me to working on my own and being financial free.

If you’ve seen my “Countdown to Freedom” clock on my blog, it’s counting down to me being out of my job by next July 17th.  I really need to make this happen.  Sooner rather than later!

Happy Investing!   Happy Halloween.

Well, it was a slow week REI wise.  I had a really busy week at work and also was not feeling great.  Also, a lot of REOs we were interested in were no longer available this week.   I assume this is because offers were made, not due to the recent suspension of foreclosures.  We’re going to get going and look at more properties.  I am thinking we may need to start looking at less REOs, if the suspension of foreclosures becomes more widespread.

We also sent out the rest of the inheritance letters a few days ago.  We also sent follow-up letters to people who had contacted us as a result of the first mailing, but were not interested in selling.  I’m hoping to get some bites on those letters.

I also have been doing some private money research.  I was looking at the county deed records and noticed this one person’s name show up over and over.  Well, from what I can tell, this dude is a big time private money lender, lending to real estate investors and development companies.   I figure I can send him a letter asking him to see if he’s interested in investing with us.    However, I do want to be sure I’m SEC compliant and do things the right way.  I also don’t want to look like I was stalking him or something.  I need to check my PMBP course to see if there a letter template for such a scenario. I haven’t found it yet, but I only looked quickly so maybe I missed it.  I need to do  more research.  In the meantime, I thought I’d draft a letter saying something like I noticed he lended to other real estate investors and wanted to see if he wants to invest with our company.  Any suggestions would be helpful!

We’ve also been talking about changing our investing strategy a bit.  Not that we don’t want to rehab or wholesale, but we are also thinking about focusing more on rental properties.  We have seen a lot of good deals lately, so we have been looking at more multi-families instead of focusing on single family homes.

Have a great week!

Happy Investing!

Remember the house that we were waiting forever for the Title V (septic) inspection (the same house that the bank’s listing Agent was “insulted” by our low-ball offer)?  Well, we told our Agent that even though they lowered the price to $159k, we were not going to increase our offer by an amount that the bank would accept, so this won’t be a deal.  Interestingly, I noticed today that the listing is now inactive, so I’m curious what the offer turned out to be.

We also looked at a couple more REOs this week.  One was pretty lousy and we’re not intersted.  Another house was a 3 family where 2 of the units were in good shape but the top floor needed a full rehab.  The first 2 floors were basically move-in and the rents there would more than cover the property.  Rehabbing and renting the top floor would be pure gravy, as cash flow goes.  The listing of this house had special stipulations that they were taking offers from owner occupants or municipalities (for Section 8, I suppose?), then after a couple weeks, they would consider investor offers.  The house is listed for $90k, which is a great deal for a 3 family. We’re hoping that we can make an offer on this one.

With the news of Bank of America suspending foreclosures, I think we may need to alter our plans for getting leads bit, since we look at a ton of REOs.  We are going to mail out the rest of our inherited list mailers and will be buying a new list soon.  I decided to buy a new list with more focus of certain zip codes instead of the entire county.  The “whole county” approach didn’t work well since some parts of the county are 45 minutes or more away and the areas are really out of our target farm areas.  I also have realized, though, that I don’t like talking to sellers all that much.  I think I’m good at it, and I should be since I have tons of years of customer service experience, but I just don’t like it. I much prefer vacant/REOs, but there’s a lot of competition for those.  Plus, fielding motivated seller calls during calls during business hours is not possible and my calls go to voicemail.  Maybe I can outsource the call backs or something.  We also don’t do bandit signs.  I know they’re effective but we really don’t have the time or energy to so it…and we also don’t have the time or energy to get slapped with fees, either.  The signs get pulled down pretty fast around here. 

I’ve noticed that the hours/days/weeks slip away and I don’t have enough time to do all that I need to do for REI.  Even with my husband helping out, there are some things I cannot outsource to him, and some things that are more more my specialty (like number crunching the deals).  Thank goodness he’s been a contractor and is still a licensed plumber, so those are the skills I really need from him!🙂   So, anyway, I think I gotta start using a virtual assitant or two to help us out.  For those of you that are outsourcing things or using virtual assistants, which companies do you recommend (elance.com, odesk.com or others)?  Because I deal with outsourcing at my 9-to-5, I have some very hands-on experience here (and I have some very strong opinions on the topic!), but I’d like some guidance here for REI businesses. 

Oh, and since none of our offers got accepted, I didn’t meet Steph’s 30 day challenge to get a house under contract in September.  Can I get a do-over on the do-over?🙂

Unfortunately, I have to work Columbus Day (boo!), but to those of you that are not, happy rest of the long weekend!🙂

Happy Investing!  Happy 10/10/10!

Warning:  This post has nothing to do with real estate!

Ok, I found the best time-waster of the week/month/year!

I’m a huge fan of Tim FerrissFour Hour Work Week and blog.  He posted an article the other day about booking “Round the World” (RTW) trips.  This is something my husband and I have always wanted to do.  He posted info about selecting your itineraries via a couple different websites.   We’ve been checking out the websites and have wasted too much time planning our journeys around the planet.  It’s pretty awesome!  I think I need to write this down as one of my future goals.

Check it out!

Happy Investing! 

Photo of Bank of America ATM Machine by Brian ...

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I’m sure you heard, but if not, here’s today’s big news: Bank of America suspended foreclosures in all 50 states!

What does this mean to you and your REI business?  What about those of you doing short sales?

BTW, did you hear about the new Flip VIPs  program?  Finally an affordable mentoring/coaching program for Real Estate Investors!  It sounds awesome.  I might need to take the plunge!

Happy Investing (or maybe not?)!

Georgian Colonial home of the Rev. Benjamin Wa...

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Still no word on our previous REO offer we made at the beginning of September.  The listing Agent did alert us yesterday that the list price would be reduced soon, which is was today ($175k to $159k).  However, there’s still no word on the Title V (septic) inspection, so that’s still in limbo. 

We saw a short sale house last Tuesday. It was listed at a super cheap price of $79k, so that drew in a lot of interest, especially since the ARV is conservatively around $180k.  In fact, when we viewed the house, there were 2 other couples there. It is a cute, older colonial home, 3 beds/1 bath.  The house was in a bit of disarray (think: Hoarders), but not in too bad of shape. It needs windows and such, but mostly cosmetics.  We put in an offer of $84k the night we saw the property.  Then, our Agent emailed us saying they wanted our “highest and best” by Saturday at 4pm.  We put in an offer of $103k and removed the part about the bank paying the closings costs.  We got word last night that we were outbid.  I wonder by how much?? 

We’re still getting bites on our inherited property mailing.  Seems some people held the letter over the summer and waited until now to call.  Hopefully a deal will come out of one of those leads. 

Another exciting bit of news is that I won Shae’s contest.  She posted a survey last week and she picked me to receive a free copy of the new product she’s releasing soon.  I’m so excited.  I cannot wait to get it because I really gotta move forward if I want to be out of my company by next July. 

We just gotta get a deal going soon. I know many people say is that it can take 20 or more offers to get a house under contract…but we’re getting pretty impatient. I am trying so hard not to get discouraged and I don’t want to throw in the towel, I want to and need to keep moving.  I know my husband was really disappointed we didn’t get the short sale house! 

I had such a busy week, especially at work, so I didn’t have as much time to review my PMBP course as I would have liked. I’m hoping to do that later this week, since I’m taking a couple days off from work. 

Happy Investing! 

Another REO Update

Still no word on our latest REO offer. I think at this point, the bank’s listing Agent is trying to string us along.  They still haven’t given us the status on the Title V (septic) testing, which happened over 2 weeks ago.  And he has since posted about 16 photos of the property to the listing  (there was only one lousy photo on the listing previously).  No price drop yet, though. I think he wants us to back out so he can get a full price offer from a homeowner.  Hey, maybe he can…but you’d think they’d consider any offer since it’s been on the market 390+ days. Oh well.

The rental property lead I got from Craigslist won’t work out, I don’t think.  He wants about 50k more than it’s work, IMHO.  I got a couple new calls from our July inherited property mailing (and we still have more letters to send).  So, I hope we can get a deal out of one of those leads.  I’ve been waiting to mail the last batch since those houses are in a more depressed area in our county, about 45 minutes away.  I think if I buy these leads again, I’m going to pick and choose the cities closest to us, rather than the entire county.   With working a full time job and having a family, it’s hard to make appointments as it is, nevermind if the house is 45 minutes away.

And in the meantime, we’re still looking at more REOs. We looked a two on Friday and we’ll look at two more tomorrow.  Something’s gotta happen in the way of a deal soon, right?

I’ve also started writing down goals. I had done this in the past, but not for a very, very long time.  I’m hoping if I do it this time, they goals will come to fruition.  I also made up an index card of some goals and “quick hits” so I can look at them daily.  I also am really trying to make it so I can leave my job by next July.  Maybe if I say it out loud enough times, we can make it happen.

Today I got my PMBP course in the mail. Yahoo!  I cannot wait to check it out.  I was listening to the modules on-line in the meantime.  Speaking of PMBP, have any of you with the course used the “private money getting” website to obtain private lenders?  If so, how is that/did that work out for you?  I know the SEC rules are tricky, so I want to be sure to follow all the guidelines (especially since my full time job has to do with financial services so I cannot cross those lines in any way).  

I also got my Steve Cook Flipping Home Bootcamp CDs (not DVDs) that I won from re-naming Scott Costello’s blog so I want to listen to that course, too!  

That’s it for now.

Happy Investing!

Private Money, Here We Come!

I got an email today regarding a 1/2 price sale  on the Private Money Blueprint course from Patrick Riddle and Trevor Mauch.  I read the sales page and decided to bite the bullet and purchase the course.  It was an offer I couldn’t refuse! :-)  Part of the reason,  besides the price, that I purchased it was because when submitting our REO offers lately, we seem to be getting some issues from banks about our pre-approval letters.  I’m hoping that if we have some private lenders set up, it may make the offer process a bit easier (like making all CASH offers).  I know many people are already PMBP members,  so I’d love your feedback on the program, if you wish to comment.  Oh, and one of the reasons they were holding a sale is because Trevor and his wife had a brand new baby girl – so congratulations to them!  I’m a sucker for a cute baby story!

Also, just a quick update on our latest REO offer.  We’ll, it’s still in limbo.  Partly because they’re doing a Title V (septic) inspection on the property. Once we get the details on that, we will adjust our offer accordingly.  Also, it’s pending because we offered way low (like 80k under asking), based on our estimated repairs.  The house has been on the market over a year.  The bank’s Agent told our Agent that the bank wouldn’t consider our offer and that we should make a “reasonable” offer.  Really?  You’ve been sitting on this house more than a year…isn’t any offer at this point reasonable?  He gave our Agent this song and dance about the bank needs to satisfy their stockholders and such.  Also, he told her that we were just wasting her time and that because we had a pre-approval from a hard money lender, that these types of buyers “never work out.”  What a jerk.  I am sure he’s been burned by other investors before but come on…he doesn’t know me or my husband or what our situation is. He doesn’t know that we’ve done a couple rehabs in the past (our own residences), that my husband has been a contractor, etc.  He can go pound sand, as my dad used to say!  So, who knows if that deal will work out either.

I’m still getting some nibbles from our inherited property mailing, too. The guy I mentioned last time basically wanted retail price, so I told him he’s best to re-list the house with the new Agent.  Another guy called me from out of state, so if he’s the sole owner of a house he inherited here in New England, maybe that’d be a deal.  I also got a lead (via Craigslist) from a landlord on a rental property in town that’s in excellent condition.  He’s asking more than what it’s worth (in my opinion), but I still need to research more. Maybe he’ll do owner financing, who knows?

That’s it for now.

Happy Investing!

New Month, New Possibilities

I’m so glad September is here.  Even though it’s back to school time, August wasn’t nearly as productive as I’d hoped.  Since we pulled the plug on our REO offer, we had to start all over looking for more deals.  And we also got a little off track due to another family funeral. :-(  The fun never ends around here!

We did put in another offer on an REO yesterday.  It’s a cute little 2 bed/1.5 bath house that needs (from what we can tell) mostly cosmetic rehab.  The septic system inspection has to be done, though, to see if that needs replacing.  Anyway, the house has been on the market over a year, I think partly because the MLS listing photo (only one) is just awful.  The picture doesn’t do the house justice at all.  We offered about $80k below asking price (it’s listed at full market value, which is ridiculous).  The bank I’m sure will reject the offer, but let’s hope they counter with something reasonable.  I hope to hear by mid-week on the status of that offer.

I’m still getting calls from our mailing (we still have one more batch to send).  The one guy keeps calling and calling.  It’s an inherited house and he owns it with his siblings.  The house was listed since  June at over market value (listed at $249k, it’s worth about $200k, maybe).  I told him that we’d be willing to come see the house, but we couldn’t pay close to asking.  Well, the listing expired 8/31 so he keeps calling before they list the house with another agent.  From the MLS photos, the house looks in nice condition, just outdated.  I did also ask him if they’d be interested in owner financing, and they don’t want that, they want the cash.  What would you do?  I think he’s motivated, but if they still want close to asking, it’s not a deal, ya know?

Oh, and Steph over at flipthiswholesaler.net instituted a do-over for her 30 day challenge.  Thank goodness cuz August was a sucky month for REI.

Happy Investing!

REO Offer Update

True Hard Money

Image by madmolecule via Flickr

Well, it’s been another interesting week.  After much discussion, calls, emails, etc. regarding the REO offer we submitted, we decided to move onto another deal.  I’ll try to make quite a long story short. 

Our Agent had submitted our offer – the P&S, $1000 earnest money, pre-approval letter, etc. to the listing Agent for the bank.  Right after submitting the offer, the listing Agent said he couldn’t submit the offer to the bank with our pre-approval letter.   Personally, I could not understand why he would not submit the offer to the bank…they were probably going to counter our offer anyway.  Our rehab (hard money) lender provided me another letter, which I submitted to our Agent. She said the listing Agent didn’t like this letter either, since the letter didn’t mention the downpayment amount.  I got in touch with the lender and she said that she couldn’t note this amount (or %) in the letter yet, it’d depend on the final accepted offer.  Makes sense to me, but the listing Agent wouldn’t have it.   We tried to explain that the offer price will likely change by about $30k if the house didn’t pass Title V (septic) inspection, which was likely.  All this still didn’t matter…the listing Agent said they wanted a letter from a “direct lender.” 

So, in the past week, I talked to a couple other different lenders and got lots of helpful info.  Also, when I talked to my original lender, she mentioned that on occasion, some banks don’t accept her letter, because the bank think she’s a broker, which she’s not – she does her own loans.  Then the listing Agent suggested we offer to put more money down.  That’s when I really started to get annoyed.  Why are they asking for all this stuff when they haven’t even submitted our offer to the bank? 

After much deliberation, my husband and I decided to pass on this one.  If the bank was going to give us this much hassle to submit an offer, what were they going to do afterward?  We didn’t see the need to jump through all these hoops when there are so many other houses out there.  On to the next one. 

Have you ever had such difficulty submitting an offer on an REO?  Did you ever have a valid, thorough and very detailed pre-approval letter get rejected? 

Happy Investing! 

Scott Costello, from one of my favorite blogs (http://www.strugglinginvestor.com) posted a contest for to rename his blog.  Scott is a 9-to-5er, like me, struggling to work a J-O-B and RE Investing.  So, obviously, I can really relate to his blog.  Well, he had a contest to give his blog name a more positive spin (instead of “struggling”) and he picked my submission!  Wow, I never win stuff, so I’m super excited, especially with the frustrating week I’ve had!   I won some Steve Cook DVDs, which is freakin’ awesome!!  Thanks, Scott, for choosing my domain name submission.

Check out Scott’s blog post here.

BTW, there is still a whole issue with getting our offer submitted on that REO due to the pre-approval letter.  Arrghhh.  I’m ready to rip my hair out.  More to follow in another post.

Happy Investing!

Well, we had another busy week.  We looked at a few new REOs this week.  And we made an offer on one, on Friday the 13th.  That’s a good omen, right?  I guess for abbreviations sake, I’ll call it the F13 house!

The house is a 3 bed/2 bath raised ranch,  built in 1974.  It’s in a desirable area  for families with good schools.  It needs mostly cosmetic work, so we can do a lot of the work ourselves.  We made the offer contingent to an inspection and a Title V (that’s a septic inspection in MA) inspection.  If the septic doesn’t pass, we’ll lower our offer by the amount of repair (which around here can cost $20-$30k for this size house).  The price was just lowered, but it’s been listed since June.  We were told that there were no offers yet, but a lot of interest since the price was lowered.  We offered quite a bit lower than asking, but when I looked at the public records, our offer is right about where the mortgage balance was at the time of foreclosure. Although I realize this in no way means the bank will accept our offer.

When we submitted the offer through our Realtor on Friday, she called and us soon after to let us know the bank’s asset manager didn’t like our hard money pre-approval letter, which didn’t state how much we’d need to put down with the lender.  I tried to get an updated letter sent to me on Friday, but it was too late in the day to get it.  I hope I can get that all situated on Monday.  I think it’s ridiculous they wouldn’t take my offer without it, since we provided the earnest money deposit, and you know they’re going to counter anyway.  The lender is not BoA, which is know can be quite difficult to deal with.  Oh well, keep you posted.

BTW, I really need to get some private money lined up, since I think this would make our offer submissions go a lot easier.

I’m still getting calls from our mailings, even though we haven’t sent all the letters. I have to follow-up with a couple of people today.  We decided to send the final batch of letters  just before our daughter goes back to school, since it’s been a little bit of a hassle bringing her to viewings.  It’s fine for REOs but I would  not want to bring her to showing at a private seller’s home.  Although she’s very cute, she likes to hold the flashlight and even writes notes in her notebook as we’re looking at the houses!🙂

Happy Investing!

CPH Offer Update

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Bad news – we found out there were 6 CASH offers on the cat pee house (CPH, as we were calling it).  I think these offers came in just after the price was lowered on Friday.  So, we didn’t bother making an offer.  That totally sucked, we were kind of hoping to get that one to rehab. I’ll still keep it on my list to see if all the offers fall through…although with that many offers on the table, that is highly unlikely.

The other colonial house we looked at over the weekend was awesome, but we found out there was an easement for a  right of way on the side of the house, which would have put a road right in the middle of this house and the one next door, and prevented a garage from being added.  We’re bummed about that, too.  I’m so frustrated but I’m trying to not let it get me down.

We’re still getting calls from our direct mail campaign.  A couple motivated sellers, but no one is motivated enough yet.  I don’t understand how in this lousy market, people are holding out for prices higher than what they’re worth.  Especially with these inherited properties, since it’s not like they’re upside down in equity, since they inherited from (usually) a parent.  I’ve checked out many of these houses (that we’ve received calls on) in the public records and most have $0 mortgage balances.

We gotta dig deep and get a house under contract soon.  Especially since I made that my goal in Steph‘s 30 day challenge.  And my job is driving me crazy.  I gotta get outta there and do this REI stuff full time.  Having a J-O-B is really limiting my investing time, although the paycheck helps!🙂

Happy Investing!

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Hi There!

We’re still chugging along looking for rehab and wholesaling deals.  We looked at a few more REOs this week.  One house was a great find – just listed colonial, built in 1990 (yeah! no lead issues), that needs a complete cosmetic rehab.  A few other minor things like some missing copper need to be fixed.  The house is solid, good bones.  It’s in a great, highly desirable town (where my husband grew up) so we know the area really well.  The only downside is the house is on a busier street and no garage, but I think we could rehab and price accordingly.  I went by myself to see it so my husband is coming with me again to see it today.

One of the other properties was in an awesome neighborhood – quiet street, beautiful lawns, older homes (built in 1950s/1960s), but it was such a great area, typical “pride of ownership” shows here!   It’s the proverbial “worst house in a great neighborhood.”  The house was fully gutted inside and we knew the reason why the minute we stepped inside…it reeked of cat pee.  The smell was unreal.  The house had been sprayed with a white substance (I assume some type of odor killer) and everything had been ripped out (kitchen, most of the floors, etc.).  The cats must have urinated everywhere (although the basement and 2nd floor didn’t smell as bad as the 1st floor).    I cannot imagine what it smelled like before a lot of stuff got ripped out.  The house was built in 1950, and beyond the complete gut, needs new windows, new exterior paint (or siding), etc.    My husband actually liked this house…it’s way overpriced,  but if we could get it dirt cheap (which is possible) it’d be a great deal.  I’m just worried we couldn’t get rid of the smell.  What do you guys think?  If we rip out the sub-floor, and again use odor remover stuff (like Kilz), can you get the smell out?

BTW, I had a gut (no pun intended) feeling about the cat pee house, so I Googled the address.  Turns out, the house made the local paper because almost 50 cats were removed from the house at the time of foreclosure.  One of the neighbors in the article mentioned you could smell the odor across the street.  How happy do you think the neighbors would be if we rehabbed that house??

Also, we’re still getting calls from our direct mail campaign, and we still haven’t mailed all the letters.  This week I got a call from an attorney (property is listed already), one from a Realtor (property is listed already), one from the owner’s son (property is listed already – overpriced) and one last call from another investor.  He must have it under contract, but didn’t say that in his voicemail…I called him back yesterday (after I Googled his phone number) and mentioned I noticed he also buys houses.  I’m waiting for him to call me back to see what he’d want to sell it to me for.  It’s a butt-ugly house (from the outside) that he said hasn’t been updated in 40 years (we haven’t seen the inside).  We may have a deal if he can sell it to us cheap enough.

Happy Investing!

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I wanted to give a quick update on our inherited property mailing list results so far.  We still haven’t had the chance to mail all the letters yet (we’ve mailed almost 200), and we’ve already received about 11 calls so far.  A couple people left messages saying they weren’t interested in selling, but were very nice about it.  The other new calls received were about a couple properties already listed in the MLS and a couple new (unlisted) leads.  The hard of hearing guy, and his son, called back again, too!  We’re going to follow-up on these this week (I’ve already left messages for some to call me back).  I’ve been very happy with the number of calls received from this list.  Maybe it was the fact we hand-addressed and stamped the envelopes?   We really hope the mailing results in a deal…and if it doesn’t this time around, maybe it will when we re-mail to this list in a few months.

We also looked at a few REOs on Monday…looking for some rehab/wholesale deals.  However, the rest of the week was very unproductive REI-wise, since we had relatives staying with us to attend a funeral.  So, we gotta get back into the swing of things starting tomorrow.

Happy Investing!

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Hello There,

Thought I’d post an update regarding our first direct mail campaign.  I bought that list of inherited property owners last week.  We haven’t mailed out all the letters yet, but mailed out over 100 in the past week.  So far, we’ve received 4 calls – not too bad!  I would expect more calls after we sent the rest of the letters. It’s been taking time to stuff, stamp and hand address all the letters, but it’s been a family effort (my daughter loves helping!), so that’s cut down on the time it takes to complete.

Here’s a rundown of the calls so far:

  • The first person who called was a nice guy who has a property inherited from his parents.   His brother lives in the upstairs (it’s a non-legal 2 family). The family just put a sign in the window, trying to sell on their own. I am calling him back today and we’re hoping to see that house this week.
  • The second caller left a message and I’ve left messages for him, so I hope we can stop playing phone tag and talk.
  • The third caller was a very elderly man who was extremely hard of hearing.  He just kept saying “do you want to buy my house?”  Not sure if that’s gonna work, since it was hard to have any sort of phone conversation with him and he hung up abruptly.  Even so, I will be calling him back, too.
  • The fourth caller left a message that just said “hello.”  It was an out of state phone #, so if this person lives out of state, that may be a good lead.  I called the phone # back and left a message to call him. I hope to speak to him/her soon. 

I have been able to run comps on all the properties, since I have been able to get the name and addresses of all these houses (even the last one, I got the person’s last name from the outgoing voicemail message, so I’m pretty sure which property they got the letter about).  There may be some good deals here.  For the house owned the elderly man, I searched public records and it looked like he remortgaged his house in 2006 for well over what it’s worth now. So, that may not be a deal, simply for that reason.

We’re also still looking at REOs to rehab or wholesale.  We really wanted to see that HUD property last week, but the HUD Broker blew us off.  I got in touch with another Broker and she was going to show us the house on Friday, but we cancelled since there was an accepted bid on the house the day before!  UGH!   So, we are going to have her show us a few other houses (mostly REOs) tomorrow since I have the day off from work.

Oh, one more thing – yesterday was July 17th.  What is July 17th, you ask?  Well it was my 19 year anniversary at my company.   Anyway, I talked to my husband and we thought if we can make this REI stuff work for real, I would suck it up and quit on my 20th anniversary, July 17, 2011.  (I’ve even done pension calculations to see what the totals would be if I quit next year.)  I’m so “done” at work I barely think I can make it another month, much less a year.  So, can I make that happen?  Stay tuned…

Happy Investing!

Weekly Update

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Hi Everyone,

Thought I’d give an update on our activities this week. 

On Monday, I had the day off from work so my husband and I took a drive by about 8 properties in the area, mostly REOs, that thought might be good wholesale prospects.  We were planning to see one of the HUD ones yesterday, but the broker didn’t get back to me.  Lots of good deals there, for sure, just not sure if I can get them cheap enough to wholesale.   Oh, and one interesting thing happened.  We took a look at this REO that was out in the middle of nowhere…it was 45 minutes away and really rural.  Anyway, we finally get there and pull up to the property (funny, we could see all the houses on this street on Google Maps except this one) and it was set very far back and behind a fence and then some shirtless dude (son of the owner) comes up to us, telling us to get off the private property (cue the Deliverance music).  He was giving us some song and dance about the property not being for sale, tell the bank it isn’t for sale, blah, blah, blah.  Well, we didn’t know if the dude had a gun or whatever, but we got the heck outta there, we didn’t even have a chance to take pictures.  So, I emailed the guy at the bank I was working with and told him what happened and never heard from him again.  Weird, cuz he had been emailing me all week, asking if I had checked it out yet…he is out of CA so his company hadn’t had a local rep out to see the property yet.   As much as we are looking for a hot deal, I’m not going to deal with that much drama.

I also have been doing more to build our Buyers List.  I have been also calling other investors’ ads to get them on my list.  One guy advertises in our local paper daily looking for multis to buy.  We’ve been playing phone tag for over a week, but I want to talk to him soon to find out exactly what he wants and get properties under contract just for him.

Lastly, I had been trying to get my makeshift probate list together…it’s been taking forever.  I’d been looking up public records data on-line and then trying to find the Executor/PR and then seeing if there is a property available, also using public on-line data.  I also have checked out the Probate Court records, but since that office is 45 minutes away and closes pretty early, I don’t get a chance to get there myself very often.  I may outsource going to Probate Court at some point.  Anyway, I got a good tip from Shae Bynes from goodfaithinvesting.com.  She talked about an inherited property mailing list that she used for marketing (this is the 2nd time in a couple months I’ve heard about this type of list).  So, to make a long story short, I bought the inherited property list from a list broker.  This list broker supposedly sells only 2-3 people per county, and there is no one else in my county with the list.  There are about 250+ names on the list, so I’m going to send out those letters soon.  I was going to outsource that to click2mail.com or something like that, but my husband and I are trying to keep costs down so we are printing the letters ourselves and writing and stamping them by hand.   (BTW, if you haven’t head Shae’s success story on flipthiswholesaler.net, check it out.)

Happy Investing!

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Hi Everyone,

Thought I’d give an update on what we’ve been up to lately. 

Buying a Rental Property – The past week or so, we’ve been looking at a ton of properties on-line and even saw a couple with a local realtor.  Last weekend, we saw a duplex and a triplex in our area.  The duplex is newer and in really great condition. One half is rented for $1400/month from good, long-term tenants who want to stay.  The other half is occupied by the owners who need to move out of state.  It’s a short sale and has been on the market over a year…and it’s still overpriced.  We wouldn’t consider making an offer anything close to asking price, but we’re still crunching numbers.  The triplex was a much older home that needs a complete rehab.  It would qualify for Homepath financing, but I think it’s more rehab we want to do for a rental.  If we could get it cheap enough, maybe we could flip to a local landlord.

Wholesaling/Buyers List – I’ve also been calling bandit signs and classified ads looking for wholesale buyers.  I am figuring we can target more buyers and what they’re looking for so we can find wholesale deals just for them.  Many of the other cash buyers on our list we obtained either from our Craigslist ads or our website, which is fine, but we also want to shop for deals specifically for our local buyers.

We Need Money – Lastly, we are looking for money for deals.  I am considering purchasing the Private Money Blueprint course.  I also have seen some “cheaper” courses on the same topic.  If anyone has feedback on obtaining private money or courses to take, that’d be great.  I also have been contacting local commercial/portfolio lenders looking to see if they could fund rentals for us. I talked to a great guy yesterday at a local, small credit union.  He gave me a complete rundown of their rates and terms and really walked me through their process, so I’m gonna keep him in mind to see if that will work for us.  The only sticking point with that option is if we buy more than one rental, we may not (initially) have all the downpayment money needed, that’s why I’m thinking we need private money, too.

Happy Investing and Happy 4th!

I Heart REI Blogs, Too!

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One of my favorite sites, BiggerPockets.com announced their Top 20 REI blogs.  There are some great ones on the list, some I visit regularly, and a few new ones I’ll need to check out. Congrats to all the winners!

If you’re new to real estate investing or even experienced, check out these blogs and I guarantee you’ll learn stuff and be entertained, too!

Happy Investing!

I Heart REI Podcasts!

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Hi Everyone,

I’ve been listening to a lot of Real Estate Investing podcasts lately.  I don’t have much time during the day to listen, so I put them on my iPod and listen at bedtime.  That way, I can squeeze in some listening time. Although sometimes I listen using headphones at work, or when I’m working from home.  Nothing like dreaming about the future when I’m at my J-O-B🙂.  Some of my favorites are:

  • Vena Jones-Cox – I just love her.  She’s been RE investing for over 20 years.  She sells excellent courses on wholesaling. However, these podcasts are from her Wednesday radio shows on WMKV.  They are no-sell, no-pitch, all content podcasts about all areas of REI. I think I’ve gone back to the archives and listened to about all of them. Great content! (Also available on iTunes.)
  • Steph Davis from flipthiswholesaler.net.  She’s awesome, too.  She has a great blog about wholesaling and has started doing these “Flip This Success Story” interviews with other investors and wholesalers.  These are great and I love hearing hands-on examples and how others are succeeding in REI. That’s really motivating for me.
  •  The Real Estate Guys podcasts.  There are hundreds of podcats available from these “guys” that cover all sorts of topics, from beginner to advanced topics.  These podcasts do have commercials, but other than that, are filled with really good content.   (Also available on iTunes.)
  • Get Real REI podcasts.  These are podcasts from Judson Voss and Allison McArthur.   Lots of good info and some video podcasts, too.  Sometimes they are silly, but that’s fine by me, since there’s also really good content.   (Also available on iTunes.)

There are several other podcasts out there that are ok, but are usually 15 minutes of content and 45 minutes of selling the latest and greatest products that you MUST own (act now and they’ll throw in a set of Ginsu knives).   I do listen to those, but I prefer the pitch-free ones!

Are there any podcasts that you like?

Happy Investing!

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Hello Everyone,

I found this video on REItips.com, which talks about The Secret, Law of Attraction and Real Estate Investing.  I love it…check it out!

Do you use The Secret, Law of Attraction, Power of Positive Thinking, etc. to help you succeed?  I think using positive thoughts and motivation helps in all areas of life.  And, getting rid of negative influences (or people) in your life is a huge help.  I don’t like getting sucked into people’s drama or negative vibes.  I just try to distance myself from all that negativity.

What do you think?

Happy Investing!

PS – Happy Father’s Day to all the dads  out there!

Finding Deals Update

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Well, we went to see that colonial house on Friday.  It’s a great house with great bones…however, it’s going to be a huge project!  The house needs a complete overhaul in the entire house.  The pipes burst and the plumbing and heating needs to be redone throughout the whole house.  They had to also spray for mold and and a ton of drywall has been removed. The bank had all this work done already, so at least from a demo standpoint, we wouldn’t have to do it, that’s always a good thing.  The bank also put on a new roof, which is excellent.

The house also needs exterior paint, all new floors, all new windows, new deck, new front stairs, etc, etc.  Also, the pool is in serious disrepair and there is a trailer on the property that would have to be removed. 

We crunched numbers and to do the job we’d want to do, it’d be about $100k.  The bank is asking way too much for the house, not that we would offer anything close to asking price.  So, to make a long story short, I emailed the Agent today to tell him that we’re going to pass on this one.   He was really helpful and said he gets a lot of REOs and can let us know of other bank owned deals.  He also said he could take pictures for us if we couldn’t see a property to evaluate.  (Not that we’d ever want to not see a property,  but that could help with pre-screening).  And although I check the MLS on sites like Ziprealty.com almost daily, it’d be nice to have an REO Agent in our back pocket.  I emailed him some criteria (like that we prefer houses with town/city sewer and not a septic system).  We’ll see if he comes through and sends us deals.

That’s it for now.

Happy Investing!

Wheelin’ and Dealin’

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Just wanted to do a quick check in.  This week, work and family stuff have been keeping me super busy!  Even so, we’re going to look at a property tomorrow that could be an awesome rehab deal.  Although we’ve been focusing on wholesaling, the numbers on this look so good, working it as rehab might be worth it.

The house is a foreclosure – 4 bedroom, 2 bath, 2 half bath colonial on 1.3 acres.  It’s got a nice yard and inground pool.  The inside is ripped down to the studs in a couple rooms since the pipes burst while the house was vacant over the winter.  It’s built in 1985, so we wouldn’t have to worry about the new EPA lead law crap.  Also, the house has town sewer, which is a big plus around here.  A lot of houses have septic systems, which in MA are super expensive to fix (called Title V).  A full septic replacement can run $10 to $30k, which is crazy…and can really eat away at your rehab budget.

The ARV is about $450k (conservatively), listed at $274k.  We’d need to get it in the low $200s (or less) to make it a deal…but we won’t know for sure about all the repairs until we see it tomorrow.

I’ll keep ya posted.

Happy Investing!

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I took a break a little while ago from my blog and the whole investing game.  I have been super busy at work and my personal life has been downright crazy for quite some time.  I’ll spare you all the details, but in a nutshell, we’ve had a lot of illnesses and losses in our family.  Most of my free time was spent caring for sick and ailing family.

Instead of crawling under a rock, all of this sadness and grief makes me more motivated to give this real estate thing even more of an effort and truly succeed.  I’ve seen too many people live their lives working like dogs at a job they hate and never having the time or opportunity to really enjoy life with their friends and family.  I’ve also seen first hand people that have left this earth too early, never even having the chance to follow their dreams.

So, all of this heartache gives me the motivation to press on and move forward.  I am a fighter, and because I a job, husband and a child, I don’t have the luxury to stay in bed and feel sorry for myself.  Moving forward is what I must do.

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I’m going to start marketing again and possibly buy some motivated seller leads.  I’m planning to do more to promote my website and also finalize our LLC for investing.  I also am trying to plan for my exit from my job.  It’s going to take longer than I had originally planned, since my husband got laid off, but I still don’t want to lose sight of that goal.

For motivation, I’ve been reading books, like the 4 Hour Workweek, and even Steph’s Flip This REO ebook.  I keep listening to investing podcasts and success stories, like the ones on Steph’s blog.  Those really keep me inspired.  I also read tons of investing blogs (check out my Blogroll).  I love hearing about other people investing, especially those who are trying to balance a family and/or a full time job.  Juggling it all isn’t easy, but it can be done.

How do you stay motivated?  How do you juggle investing with your family, job and other personal commitments?

Happy Investing!

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I read this hilarious article over at TampaSteph’s blog about a recent situation she had with one of her wholesale investor buyers.  It’s a quite a laugh and she’s a great storyteller.

Check it out here.

Happy Investing!

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A recent survey suggests that home buyers view properties in foreclosure unfavorably. This time last year people were looking for rock bottom deals to couple with their federal tax incentives but now that the tax incentive is nearing its completion, the housing inventory is still increasing while the number of buyers is decreasing.

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The reason for the change of heart? Many buyers are concerned about the decreasing property values and the risk of buying a home in foreclosure. There are also the time and money elements involved: purchasing a foreclosure at auction takes time just as it will take time to complete renovations to the property.

Does this mean more deals for us investors?

View the Original article at TheREIBrain.com.

Happy Investing!

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I saw this really cool tool on YouTube to create a search story.  Check it out.  It’s really fun.  My first attempt is below.  I think the story says it all.

Happy Investing!

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Here’s a great article from BiggerPockets.com.

In this blog post we’ll talk about what ubiquity is and how you can use it to grow your business. If you want more exposure for your deals or more sellers and buyers in your pipeline, then you need to adopt the ubiquity concept.

If you want to have an established and recognizable brand, then the concept of ubiquity is the way to go.

If becoming a respected expert and authority in your marketplace is an important goal of yours, then again…it’s all about ubiquity!

What is Ubiquity?

I first heard about the word “ubiquity” when I attended a Glazer Kennedy Inner Circle (GKIC) marketing workshop in Alexandria, VA. The speaker, Frazier O’Leary, talked about what we needed to do in order to grow our business at a level where we could reach more clients than we could handle. Out of all the different strategies that he gave us, ubiquity stuck out to me the most.

So, what is ubiquity?

It’s simply the state of being everywhere at once (or seeming to be everywhere at once).

Now as I embark down this path of explaining how this is possible, I’m not here to tell you that you’ll become the omnipresent God of your market. Although the definition might give that impression, it all boils down to simple marketing methods that can allow you to get more exposure and increase your awareness.

Let me explain…

The First Piece of the Ubiquity Concept

Pick a store brand that most likely everyone knows about. For example sake, we’ll go with Best Buy. Now I’m sure that initial things come to mind when you hear the word “Best Buy” things like computers, TVs, the Geek Squad, etc. They have products and services that appeal to what people want in need.

So the first thing you need to have in your business is something that people want or need. Whether you have a product or a service, when it comes to real estate, we know that primarily we have the specialized knowledge and capability to help someone buy, sell, or invest in a home fast.

The Second Piece of the Ubiquity Concept

I can’t really picture myself saying, “I’d like to get a new computer over at Sound of Music”. That used to be the name of Best Buy before its owners decided to change it. They developed a brand that people could easily remember while even strategically choosing a benefit rich brand that can grab people’s attention. Who wouldn’t want to buy the “Best”?

Therefore, the second piece of this concept is a Brand. Using your own name is common and a good method because people will wonder who you are. Curiosity will definitely awaken the attention factor. If you decide to go with a business brand, then you need to choose something that is unique and can stand on its own based on the products and services that you have to offer.

I think Josh Dorkin did an incredible job with the name, “Bigger Pockets” because who the heck wouldn’t want Bigger Pockets and the value that the overall website brings to the table makes it nearly impossible for other real estate social networks to even compare. (Just my honest opinion)

The Third and Most Important Piece of the Ubiquity Concept

Best Buy is a recognizable brand for two reasons. They have products and services that people need/want and they’re brand is literally everywhere.

Think about it…

When you check your mail, you may get some direct mail from Best Buy offering special deals and coupons that you can take advantage of.As you drive in your car, you might hear a radio spot for a hot deal offered by Best Buy.When you purchase the newspaper and go to the classified section, you may notice a big section within the paper for an exclusive offer by the Geek Squad (Which is the technical repair/assistance staff for Best Buy, but I’m sure you already knew that)Even when you go home to relax and watch some TV, they have the “customer satisfaction” style Best Buy commercials.

Politicians understand this concept perfectly. If you think back to the 2008 Presidential Election, you probably saw signs, posters, TV ads President Obama, John McCain, and other presidential candidates everywhere you went. On top of that, you’re phone might have been ringing off the hook with people trying to get you to support or not support whomever.  Like it or not, it gets the job done.

Why the Ubiquity Concept works so well

Whether you get annoyed by seeing the same politicians everywhere you go or seeing Best Buy (or any other recognizable brand) everywhere you go, the concept is very powerful.

Why?

It gets people talking. Whether the buzz is negative or positive, your brand can be psychologically planted into the minds of everyday people who can be potential clients for your business. If you deliver on the benefits and promises your business has to offer, then there won’t be any negative buzz to worry about.

What Ubiquity is vs. what it is not

The key to ubiquity in your real estate marketing is to use multiple marketing media platforms at once.

Posting hundreds of ads on craigslist alone is not ubiquity.Posting thousands of signs in your city alone is not ubiquity.Running the same Facebook Pay Per Click (PPC) Ad over and over again is not ubiquity.

However…

If you’re using these different advertising medias all at once and you’re giving people what they want and need, then you’ll be well on your way to becoming famous.

Social Networks are great for building a big presence because we know that people commonly go back and forth between sites like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc… So if you want to start anywhere, then it should be there. Create a profile for each of these networks and start connecting with people.

Just understand that you can’t go around pitching your business. That’s a quick way to piss some people off or cause them to completely ignore you. With Social Media, it’s all about building relationships first. Of course, if they have advertising options like Facebook PPC or YouTube PPC (Google Adwords, then again you can use the brand you’ve been using in other marketing media platforms, so people can get used to it and start flocking to your business if they need you.

When you fully understand the ubiquity concept and don’t overdo it, you may grow fond of the Visa Card slogan that says, “It’s everywhere you want to be!”

To Your Success,

J. Lamar Ferren
New Breed Investor

View the Original article.

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I saw this video courtesy of a Canadian television website regarding an expose of Real Estate Investing Seminars.   Really interesting stuff!  The video focuses on a Rich Dad/Poor Dad type seminar with Robert Kiyosaki’s rebuttal at the end. 

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I have not been to one of his seminars, but what I saw in the video is typical of some of the other “Free” seminars I’ve attended in the past when I first got interested in real estate investing.  The worst one was one from a foreclosure guru (it was so long ago, the dude is long since out of the business) who used intimidation tactics to force you to run down to the end of the room to buy his course “before they’re all GONE!”  And, if you didn’t run to the back of the room with your credit card in hand, basically they called you a LOSER.  Really sad.

I have heard that the Rich Dad/Poor Dad seminars are now run by Russ Whitney’s company, and Robert Kiyosaki doesn’t really have much involvement in them anymore, but he does license his name to Whitney.   I do like the Rich Dad/Poor Dad books and think there’s a lot of value to what he promotes.  The seminars, on the other hand, sound like many others that are on the market.  I have made it a practice not to attend these “Free” ones anymore…since they usually result in really big upsells to other programs or mentoring. 

Check out the video and let me know what you think!

Happy Investing!

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Here’s a great article from BiggerPockets.com by Peter Giardini.

Unless you are just getting started in this business as a real estate investor, I am sure you have had to make continued and sometimes significant adjustments to your business practices due to new or more restrictive laws and regulations at every level of Government.

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Two new rules that come to mind that everyone on BiggerPockets should be aware of are the new EPA Lead Certification rules and the new HUD rules limiting seller financing.  Both of these rules, implemented at the national level, by non-elected bureaucrats are having significant impacts on how many of us do business including throwing the entire lease-option approach into question due to its implied “seller financing” focus.

At the state and local levels our business is almost constantly under attack by those who do not believe that we as investors should be able to take measured risks, put our names and reputations on the line and then profit in the process of providing a basic need “shelter” to individuals. 

Take the Maryland Homeowners Protection Act… Please!  This act prohibits an investor from even speaking with a homeowner whose mortgage is not current.

Or a similar law in Texas modeled after the Maryland law (In case you might have been wondering, the new EPA lead rules were closely modeled after existing Maryland lead laws) which I believe forbids lease-options.

In both of these cases the state under the guise of ”protecting” homeowners or individuals have managed to severely trample on individual property rights.

And then we have something like this: 
L.A.’s Big Freeze” from Investors’ Business Daily, describing a situation where an Los Angeles City councilman wants to “freeze” rents for a year due to “fairness”.

I could spend literally tens of thousands of words describing the various rules, laws and opinions that have been thrown at our business… all in an effort to protect the public from themselves while driving our profits ever lower.

I got so incensed with a discussion I had, had with one of my clients when I learned that potential buyers were questioning her level of potential profits, that I went into a 15 minute rant –a nd I mean a blood pressure increasing rant — on this subject during one of my radio show broadcasts about a month ago.  I must admit it was some of my best stuff, but the bottom line to that rant was that there is a growing bow wave of public opinion that real estate investors are crooks and our profits are ill gotten. 

Our business is considered predatory and by extension you and I are perceived as predators.  Our profits are deemed too large, rents too high and our overall business model is based entirely on greed! 

If you don’t believe me, just hang out on BiggerPockets for a day or two and you will see all kinds of stuff that will make the hair on your neck stand straight up.

WOW… not a pretty picture is it?  But just because our business and profits are under attack doesn’t mean that we need to close up shop and find something else to do… does it!

No… in fact there are many things that you can be doing which will help to protect your business. 

Here are a few recommendations I have:

1.  Best business practices:  I can’t stress this one enough.  If a tenant or recent home buyer, legitimately or otherwise, comes after you, how well you run your business may be the determining factor in how much damage is done to your business.

2.  When you see an announcement on the various online real estate sites (BiggerPockets is a great one) about some pending rule or law, stop what you are doing and send your (local, state or national) representatives or the bureaucracy trying to implement the rule an email or letter expressing your opinion about it. Be specific and be sure to identify how your small business will be harmed by its implementation.

3.  Take it one step further and sign up to testify for or against specific legislation at the local or state level.  If your elected officials don’t see many businesses testifying they assume no one cares.

4.  Join your local real estate investing association and become active in their legislative affairs commitment.  If they don’t have one, offer to start and chair that group.

5.  As much as it pains me to make this recommendation, make donations to local and statewide candidates that understand the value that your business brings to the community, and wants to help you to continue to deliver that value.

6.  Make it a point to visit the various municipal offices within your community.  Get to know those who make decisions.  Make sure they know what you do and how well you do it.  Make their job easy and they will remember you forever!

7.  Stay vigilant and speak up every time you hear someone attacking your business.  If you don’t, you have no one but yourself to blame when your entire business model is deemed illegal just because someone said it is.

Bottom line, if each of us doesn’t get more involved with the outside pressures attacking our industry, within the next 10 years we will be telling our kids and grand-kids about our adventures as real estate investors when it used to legal instead of illegal.

Please be sure to offer additional recommendations in the comments section below for actions each of us should be taking to protect our business.

View the Original article.

Happy Investing!

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In April, there were tons of people trying to buy homes before month’s end.  Of course we know that it was because the $8,000 or $6,500 home buyer tax credits were expiring. Most local builders were guaranteeing delivery of homes for anyone under contract by April 30th.  To what extent the credit helped won’t be fully known for several months yet.

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But what now, Batman? Did the stimulus actually help the economy? Did it merely push future demand forward? There are arguments for and against both questions. As usual, time will tell.

Accelerating Demand

Many people say that the tax credit only served to push future demand to the present day.  They argue that the people who took advantage of the credit would have purchased homes anyway. If correct, it may have been a colossal waste of taxpayer dollars. It could also mean that the effects will be short-lived and the housing market will have an even greater slump later in the year since those who may have purchased then have already done so.

To be sure, that belief is at least partially correct. But did people who may have otherwise rented purchased instead? There is little doubt that some did. The question is did they do so in significant enough numbers to make a difference? That remains to be seen.

Priming the Pump

In its simplest form, an economy is nothing more than money in motion. When money is moving in sufficient quantities everything is good. When the money stops the economy stagnates. When a water pump becomes air bound nothing flows through it; priming it with water can get it working again.  That’s the theory behind an economic stimulus. By priming the economy with stimulus dollars, such has the home buyer tax credit, the economy can start working again.

The argument here is that the housing numbers will start looking better and people will become more confident and feel better about buying a home. The home building industry also receives a much needed shot in the arm. If that argument turns out to be correct then the stimulus was a good thing. If it’s wrong the housing sector may be worse off than before.

True Beneficiaries

The stimulus is certainly going to make the housing numbers better than they would have been otherwise. The timing of it all is curious. The tax credit expired last month and contracts must close escrow by July 1st. That means the housing numbers released in the fall are almost certain to show a nice uptick. So what happens in the fall? Elections! Care to make a wager on how many incumbents up for reelection will take credit for an improving economy? Maybe I’m being too cynical, but somehow I don’t think so.

I don’t make jokes. I just watch the government and report the facts.

View the Original article on the BiggerPockets.com blog.

I found the following article written by Julie Broad on one of my favorite websites, BiggerPockets.com.  Enjoy!

In October of last year I sent my Dad and my husband Dave to Ron LeGrands Quick Turn course. The landscape of how deals can be financed in Canada had changed so much, and both my Dad and my husband Dave were stuck in a rut as a result.

It just felt like they were spinning our wheels. I figured this would open their eyes to new possibilities.

It worked pretty well for all of us. We actually started a new family corporation, began an aggressive marketing campaign for new deals, and are quickly expanding our portfolio and our cash flow.

For others, Ron LeGrand’s course was simply the beginning of an expanding education and depleting bank account. One couple that lives near my parents signed on for the $20,000 mentor package Ron offered, and has also attended three other courses by other experts since October.

When you factor in travel costs and the course costs to date they have probably invested nearly $40,000.

They have sent out a few hundred letters and have received some newspaper publicity because a few of their letters touched a nerve with the wrong folks, but otherwise they have yet to make an offer.

Their Return on Time and Return on Money so far is a big fat ZERO!

My Mom and Dad received an email from them yesterday that basically concluded with the statement ìWell, as you know it’s a numbers gameWe weren’t sure if that meant they haven’t found a deal with the right numbers or if the numbers they have spent on education weren’t enough yet.

The number they are missing is the number of offers. If you’re not making offers you’re not creating deals. I don’t care how many letters you send or how many courses you take.

I’m all for education. I spent nearly $20,000 on a mentor and a few courses last year myself. The difference is that I apply what I learn and take immediate action. I don’t believe that any one course holds the missing piece of the puzzle because I know the missing piece is ALWAYS action.

Please don’t mistake my message for anything but what it is:

This is a call to action, and the action is for would be real estate investors everywhere to commit themselves to giving themselves the best education that the market has to offer: EXPERIENCE.

Educating yourself is smart. It helps you get started on the right foot, helps you accelerate your success and it definitely helps you avoid some pitfalls and problems.

But too many times I think that would be real estate investors spend a day searching MLS trying to find a deal, struggle, and then either give up or take another course.

The reality is that it takes time to find the good deals. We started marketing for deals after the Ron LeGrand course in November. We didn’t get our first accepted offer until February. And that was with us sending out about 600 letters a week, placing online ads and spamming the market with our business cards.

It takes energy and effort to research the market you’re investing in and build your network. It takes effort to make offers.

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But most of all it takes patience, persistence and a positive outlook. It probably doesn’t take another course. At least not until you have a deal or two under your belt and then want to learn a little more!

Remember, when you learned to walk it all began with a single step. It’s the same with real estate, you can spend all day reading and learning but until you actually start making offers you’re not going to become a real estate investor.

View the Original article

Happy Investing!

You’re trying to rent or sell your property and now you have to show it to prospects. The first thing you have to do is make sure the property looks good. First impressions are everything. A renter or buyer will quickly walk away if the property is not how they saw online, or isn’t how you described it.

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No matter what type of property you have, apartment, house, or condo, every aspect of your property should be poured over so that anyone who comes to look at it will instantly fall in love with it. Once your property is how you want it, it’s time to prepare for your prospects.

Warm and Inviting

If you’re renting or selling a home, or even an apartment, you want to appeal to all five senses when it comes to your potential residents or buyers. The moment the prospects walk inside, you should ensure they are met with pleasant smells. Don’t go too heavy with the air freshener but a hint of cinnamon or vanilla can make the place instantly seem like a place to call home. You should make sure everything is clean and able to be touched. Have soft music playing so that your prospects are very comfortable and don’t feel rushed. For their sense of taste, offer them refreshments such as cookies or fruit if you’re health conscious. Finally, for their sense of sight, make sure the place looks as pristine as you can get it.

Staging

Staging your home to sell will allow prospects to see how the rooms function and how their own furniture can be arranged in the rooms. If your property is clean and everything’s prepared, you’ve done all the hard work. Now you have to sell it. But as any good salesperson will tell you, selling anything is really selling yourself. Meet your prospects with a smile, a warm greeting and a solid handshake. Make sure you look them in the eye, as well. Ask why they’re moving. Really try to connect with them. Find out what their needs are, and when they’re looking to make a decision. This will allow you to highlight the things about your property that coincide with what they’re looking for, and also allow you to shadow the things that don’t appeal to them.

Closing

Selling is easy, it’s closing that’s the hard part. You must close your prospect if you hope to get that lease, or make that sale. You have to make the prospect believe that time is of the essence. There are others interested so they should strike now. Have the necessary paperwork handy, as well as a good pen, so that you leave them little choice but to sign on the bottom line. However, the best advice anyone can give you about closing is not to talk too much. After you’ve said what you’ve had to say, and you’ve presented them with the pen to sign the paperwork, don’t say anything. Too many salespeople lose their leases or sales because they say too much and end up giving the prospect an out. When you’re silent, you put the ball in the prospect’s court and they’re forced to make a decision. Hopefully, if you’ve done your job right, their decision should be an easy one.

View the Original article from the awesome REIBrain.com site.

Happy Investing!

When you’re investing large amounts of money into a home – whether it’s the family home or a rental property – you want to invest your money wisely. After all, this is a significant amount of money and you want to make the most of it, right?

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Here are 6 common mistakes that home buyers make quite often. Avoid these and you’ll save yourself money and stress in the long run.

1. Not knowing your credit score. Your credit score is vitally important because it can mean the difference between paying higher interest rates and/or closing costs. Get a copy of your credit report, correct any errors, and pay down some of your revolving debt (such as credit cards) and you’ll have a chance to increase your credit score.

2. Opening new lines of credit during the mortgage process. When you get a new credit card or apply for a car loan, these processes tend to lower your credit score until you prove you can handle paying the additional debt. If you do this during the mortgage process, it will raise a red flag to the mortgage company and you run the risk of not being approved or having to pay higher rates.

3. Not having an inspection. Home inspectors can find problems with the foundation, attic, heating and air conditioning systems which might not be visible to home buyers. Avoiding the cost of a home inspection could actually cost you much more money in unseen home repairs.

4. Not hiring a lawyer. With so many people vested in the sale of this property (the seller, real estate agents, mortgage broker), it’s only in your best interest to hire an objective real estate lawyer to review your documents to be sure your best interests are met.

5. No contingencies in contract. Sellers don’t like potential buyers to back out of a deal but there are certain times when the exception should be made. Some common contingencies that are often written into contracts include: if the buyer fails to get financing, the house appraisal doesn’t match the sale price, or if there are major repairs needed to the property. With these in place in the contract, the buyer is protected from losing money in a money pit.

6. Not understanding insurance coverage. Insurance costs must be paid annually, whether the home is paid off or not, so it’s important to know those costs upfront and adjust your budget accordingly. Also thoroughly understand what is covered (usually fire, lightning, hail, and wind damage) and what is not (usually flooding, earthquake damage, or damage from neglect of maintenance) so you don’t have any great surprises in the future.

View the Original article from the awesome REIBrain.com site.

Happy Investing!

Check it out!

There are so many ways to get real estate deals.  As an investor, the most popular ways to get leads are to post bandit signs or seek out foreclosures (easy to find these days).

One of the ways I’ve been trying to find deals is through probate leads.  That’s basically when a person passes away, the estate goes through probate, and if there is real estate, contacting the heirs to see if they’d  like to sell the house. 

I found a series of articles from Scott Costello’s blog which are quite interesting and explain the process well.  He’s following the Ron Mead probate course.  I purchased a couple of probate courses on eBay (including JG Banks) and they provided lots of helpful information.

It’s harder to find these deals (in my area, you need to go to the courthouse), but it’s usually worth the effort.

Do you invest in probate real estate?  If so, what is your success rate?

Happy Investing!

 

I just heard about this contest which starts on Monday, 10/26/09.  I can’t wait to for it to start.  Many of the bloggers there are some of my favorites (such as TampaSteph), so it should be a lot of fun.  Check it out – I will be!

Happy Investing!

Here’s an article from biggerpockets.com regarding creating effective ads (and great titles for the ads)  for your real estate deals.  Check it out!

Happy Investing!

Here’s an interesting article regarding foreclosure rates being down dramatically in some areas – including right here in Massachusetts.  According to the article, it’s down 31% in Mass from last year.

I still see plenty of foreclosures and REOs for sale here in Mass and nearby RI – there are still great deals to be found.  However, it doesn’t mean the foreclosures aren’t down by that percentage.  I think RI still has a much higher foreclosure rate, partly because of the 12% unemployment (compared to about 9% in MA).

Happy Investing!

I’m on Twitter!

I buckled and signed up…check me out on Twitter!

Happy Investing!

I Hate Twitter!

I kid, I kid.  Ok, maybe “hate” is a strong word. 

But I am one of those anti-Twitter people…do I really need to know what the guy down the street is doing?  Do I need to know he likes grape jam and not jelly?  Do I need to know random facts about celebrities and how it’s sooooo hard working long hours on the set where they get free food, free designer clothes, free Gucci bags and free iPods, while I’m busting my hump working a J-O-B?  Boo-freakin’-hoo.  Those Tweets are just plain annoying to me!

Well, that was my original thought about Twitter…at least for non-business purposes.   But, for promoting your blog or business, it really is a useful tool, so I think I’m going to be eating my words and signing up for Twitter soon.  Ugh!  I will keep you posted on how that goes!

Here’s a really cool article about using Twitter to promote your site or blog.

I’d love to hear from people, especially Real Estate Investors, that are using Twitter.  What do you like, what don’t you like?

Happy Investing!

Hi Everyone,

I love to read blogs and check YouTube and such for information regarding Real Estate Wholesaling.  One of my favorite blogs has a video which explains how to quit claim deed a REO wholesale deal.  Steph’s explanation is pretty clear and I think it’s a very helpful video.

Check out the video here

Happy Investing!

This is the dilemma I’m having.  My spouse and I both work full time, have a family, care for elderly, etc.  It’s hard enough to get things done in a normal day, nevermind try to keep your Real Estate Investing business going.

I’ve been toying with getting something that helps investors “automate” their REI business.  The lastest push has been for a product called SIMS. (I’m sure your email inbox was full of SIMS offers like mine was this week.)

I’ve looked at some other programs like Realeflow, MLS Gorilla, etc.  I’m just not sure I am able or want to spend the money to do this yet.  However, with all of my other commitments, it’s hard to fit investing in, so maybe it’s worth the money to save time in the long run? 

Anyone else use one of these programs to automate your business?  If so, is is working for you?  If not, why?

Happy Investing!

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