A Home With a History
A colorful history can add significantly to the value of a home. Researching the provenance of a property you are interested in buying can be both interesting and ultimately profitable. The market value of a home will be greater if it was designed by a notable architect, built by a company with a reputation for the finest construction, or lived in by a celebrity who hosted famous guests.
Ask your real estate agent if there is any historical data of significance associated with the home, or if previous owners were VIPs. Note the names associated with the deed and title to the home, and look them up with the help of the local historical society. Consult the microfiche in newspaper archives for references to colorful details of the home's past. The county assessor's office may have records of the date the home was built, and building permits may reveal the name of the architect. When inspecting the home, search closets and attics carefully for hidden historical "treasures".
Buying an older home at a bargain price, then re-selling when it is renovated and restored can be an enjoyable and lucrative adventure.
Advice From Real Estate Agents
When buying a home, it is essential to cooperate as closely as possible with your real estate agent. This can be challenging, especially if your agent asks you to do some things that you don't particularly want to do to in order to get you moved into your new home as quickly as possible.
When real estate agents advise you regarding ways to make the transaction work, they are acting as part coach and part business consultant. If you find the house you love and want to "sleep on" the decision for a few days, the agent knows that you run the risk of losing the house. If you are inclined to complicate your offer with clauses that might make the contract unattractive to the sellers, the agent may ask you to consider some modifications. Should you call the week before the closing with an attack of "buyer's remorse", your agent knows the cure. Following your real estate agent's suggestions will increase your chances for a successful move!
Affordable Real Estate
Are you still writing those checks to your landlord every month to keep a roof over your head, but not accumulating any home equity? If you are still renting because you think you still need a fortune to get into your own home, you should investigate today's real estate market.
Interest rates are still relatively low, which means that mortgage loans are affordable, with payments potentially in the range of your current monthly rent. Qualifying for a loan was never easier, especially since lenders have increased in large numbers and are competing for your business. Even if you couldn't qualify to buy a home just a few years ago, you may be able to qualify today. There are a number of government programs and mortgage packages which require small down payments, in the three to five percent range--and that is not even talking about the tax advantages! Think about it the next time you write a rent check.
Most buyers want a home that is in tip-top condition and ready for them to occupy, but many homes sell for bargain prices because they need work. Buyers love "fixer-uppers" for the obvious reasons: the affordable price and the satisfaction of remodeling the house to accommodate your tastes and needs.
Whether you are buying the property for yourself or as an investment, choose a house that is in a good location and structurally sound. It should be priced enough below market value (usually 25%) to allow plenty of room for a profitable re-sale after the work is completed.
It is important to educate yourself before taking on a fixer-upper project. Inexpensive cosmetic improvements often give the greatest return on your investment-- paint will increase the value three times for every dollar invested. Landscaping, carpeting, and light fixtures are also relatively inexpensive improvements. Try to avoid purchasing a house that needs expensive structural improvements such as a new roof, plumbing, wiring, or foundation repairs.
Remodeling a kitchen will rarely add more than the cost of the upgrade, but new appliances usually give a fine return. An extra bathroom is the best renovation from an investment point of view, often giving twice its cost in added value.
Diamonds in the Rough
There are a lot of "diamonds in the rough" for sale. A property with incredible potential may be in a great location, have large sunny rooms and a big yard, but it may also have dated wall paper, worn carpeting, and uninspired bathrooms. If you can look beyond the surface, you may see a house that could be transformed by a little "elbow grease", paint, and new carpets.
A house that is structurally sound with all the systems in good condition may be only a few cosmetic repairs away from being fantastic! A home that does not show well is usually priced accordingly. If the price doesn't reflect the condition of the house, the seller may be more willing to negotiate than a seller who has made a considerable investment in preparing a home for the market.
Bring your imagination with you on your next house hunting trip! You may be pleasantly surprised to find a diamond in the rough.
Get Rich Quick with Real Estate
You see them on cable TV, sitting around a swimming pool, sharing stories about how they got rich quick by buying valuable real estate for give-away prices. They took a course on how to invest in real estate and became millionaires overnight--with nothing down and no credit hassles from mortgage lenders. The course worked for them, and they say it will work for you, too.
If all this sounds too good to be true--it is! These "get-rich-quick" courses and schemes are being investigated by consumer fraud agencies around the country. This does not mean that you can't become a millionaire by investing in real estate. But investing in real estate requires one important thing from you--an investment of cash. You can't build an empire overnight, but you can do very well over the long term by selecting property in a good location that is priced well, and which can provide a reasonable cash flow.
Houses that are spotlessly clean and tastefully decorated tend to sell quickly, and for top dollar. There can be substantial savings for home-buyers who are willing to purchase a property that needs cosmetic improvements.
When you look at a house that needs work, try to imagine it with fresh paint, refinished floors and new carpet. Consider the attractive features of the home. Would it get more sunlight if the draperies were opened and the windows cleaned? Does the back yard have potential?
Try to distinguish between the cosmetic condition of the house and the state of its structure and major systems. Some fixer-uppers need a lot of professional attention from electricians, plumbers and other expensive professionals, while others are true bargains that can be transformed with a little elbow grease, a paint brush, and your imagination.
Less Than Market Value
Real estate ads are sprinkled with terminology that often puzzles consumers who don't have applied knowledge of housing industry lingo. Internet homebuyers find that information about properties is often presented in abbreviated form or unfamiliar language. Shedding a little light on some basic real estate terms may help you locate a home that is available at a very affordable price.
'MLS' refers to the Multiple Listing Service, which is the national database of listed homes for sale. Some real estate web sites allow homebuyers to preview local listings that appear on the MLS. If you see a real estate ad for a "FSBO", it means that the property is for sale by the owner, who is declining the services of a Realtor. A home listed "As-is" is being sold in its existing condition. A "bargain sale" home is priced at less than its market value, and a "fixer-upper" is priced low because it needs refurbishing.
Such A Deal
Most sellers know that buyers are attracted to homes that are spotlessly clean, well-maintained and tastefully decorated. Sometimes the seller can't make the extra effort to prepare the home for showing. Some real estate listings are being sold to settle estates or by someone who has been transferred unexpectedly and didn't have time to complete the necessary cosmetic repairs. Homes that need work are often exceptional values.
When a real estate agent shows you a house that needs help, try to imagine how it would look with new carpet, a fresh coat of paint and your furniture settled inside. Because the condition and overall appeal of a house have such an impact on the selling price, "fixer-uppers" are often priced lower than comparable homes. If the home is structurally sound and has updated systems, a small investment of "elbow grease" and paint could make it look fabulous.
The Inspection Report
Are you looking for a home and becoming tired of house-hunting? If so, you may be tempted to buy a bargain-priced home "as is" and forego the home inspection. But without the inspection report, do you know what the "as it" refers to? Wouldn't it be better to know what condition the home is in before you buy it?
The inspection contingency allows the buyer to enlist the services of a licensed home inspector within three to seven days after the purchase agreement is signed. The inspector will go over the property from top to bottom, evaluating the condition of all the basic systems and structures of the home in order to identify conditions that may be considered material defects and thus may affect the market value or the safety of the home.
The inspector's report is the only documented proof of the actual condition of the property that is being sold. It is a valuable tool that helps you negotiate the sales contract and gives you information about future maintenance projects. The cost of an inspection is well worth the peace of mind it provides.
Tips for First Time Investors
When starting out as a real estate investor, you can choose either the conservative approach of holding a property until it increases in value or the riskier approach of "flipping" - reselling very soon after making some improvements that add value. If you plan on taking the safer approach, keep the following factors in mind when searching for the right investment property.
Look for a house or apartment unit that is close to where you live, so inspecting the property and overseeing maintenance will be easier. Choose an area where there is clear potential for future development, and you will benefit from the inevitable increase in property values. If you have the choice of either buying a newly built or recently remodeled home or a less expensive house in the same neighborhood that needs a cosmetic makeover, buy the bargain property and upgrade it for a better long-term return on your investment.