Mon, 2 February 2015
Inspiration for successful investing is all around us, with lessons from nature about perseverance, dedication and patience offered by migrating birds, meandering streams and just about anything else that’s a part of the natural world. A recent piece on adventurer Alison Levine ppsted to CNN Money reveals how this world traveler applies lessons learned from taking on the challenges of the natural world to make some points about i investing success over the long term.
Levine, who’s skied the North and South Poles and climbed the highest peaks on seven continents as part of the Adventure Grand Slam, shares lessons learned from those experiences in a new book called On the Edge: The Art of High Impact Leadership. As it turns out, investing may have more in common with those pulse pounding endeavors than you might have thought.
Mountain climbers and other adventurers have to face fear — and so do investors taking risks in uncertain markets. But according to Levine, fear isn’t always a bad thing. It keeps you alert, on the watch for pitfalls that can be avoided, and it helps you avoid getting complacent and assuming all’s well. The key, for both wilderness trekkers and the investor who manages income properties forma home office is to understand what fear is for, and to use it to push forward, rather than getting paralyzed.
How much pain can you stand? Under – or over – estimating your tolerance for discomfort and the amount of pain, physical or financial, you can accept in order to keep going is essential in any risk-taking endeavor, whether it’s buying properties or scaling a snow covered peak. Understanding how much discomfort and uncertainty you can tolerate can help you avoid iffy deals and manage money wisely.
It’s also important, according to Levine, to redefine your notion of progress. In real-world adventuring, progress toward the goal may come in tiny steps, or a few steps in an entirely different direction. Or, “progress” may be made by simply stopping and getting enough rest to go on to the next stage of the journey. Thinking of progress as any actions that advance you toward the goal can help an investor, too, to set priorities and accept the setbacks that can stall any investing plan.
Climbing Mt. Everest or trekking across the South Pole may be a more rugged outing than most investors would want to try. But lessons from a life of high adventure in the world’s harshest places echo recommendations Jason Hartman makes on his 10 Commandments for Real Estate Investing – a satisfying adventure in itself.
Mon, 26 January 2015
Energy efficient upgrades are becoming more popular in homes these days, as “going green” continues the attraction of “saving the planet” and saving on utilities. By going green and investing in energy efficient upgrades, you can benefit by cutting costs on several expenses in a home including heating and cooling usage, as well as electric bills and water supply.
As a property manager or owner of a rental property, an increase to your monthly cash flow is always a bonus, and you can start receiving that extra income by cutting utility payments through energy efficient upgrades. Creating Wealth has gathered a list of the top four ways you can cut costs to your rental property by going, and generating, green today.
1. Install energy efficient appliances – Replace old appliances with an updated energy-saving dishwasher, stove or refrigerator. Not only will your interior pop out with a new look, the label of being a “green rental” will offer a new attraction to your property.
2. Install efficient toilets or fill toilet tanks – Try investing in efficient toilets, which does cost hundreds of dollars, or you can try using a 2-liter bottle filled with gravel, costing less than $5. The less costly option is dropped in the tank of an existing toilet, whereas the more costly toilet comes already together and less messy. Do keep in mind if you decide to use your homemade system, clogs are more often to occur.
3. Install LED light bulbs – Going green on lights by using LED light bulbs will save your property manager time to replace burnt bulbs and cut your utility bill to almost half the cost. The costs of LED lights are more expensive up front, but again, you are saving time on replacing these in every room and appliance.
4. Install low-flow showerheads – The amount of water tenants use on showers and in the sink can be wasteful most of the time, but installing a low-flow showerhead can cut up to 40% water consumption in a shower. The consumption will go down, but the tenants will still have strong water pressure to keep clean.
The costs up front to install energy efficient upgrades might be high, but as an investor, you know these decisions will eventually be profitable in the long run.
Mon, 19 January 2015
Jason Hartman says that the beginning stages of wealth building are like a space shuttle take off. You’ve got to stock up on debt—quality, fixed rate, long-term, investment grade debt. Debt that’s attached to hard commodities in universal demand. These are the booster rockets of the space shuttle.
In the early stages of wealth creation, get in as much good debt as you can because debt is an asset. Stop thinking about it as a liability—remember that soon you’ll be increasing rents, watching your property appreciate, saving on taxes over the years, and embodying Jason’s Refi Till Ya Die philosophy. Now, you’re in orbit. You’re financially free—but don’t forget to keep extracting equity.
Remember that you’re in a unique place as an investor. Low interest rates that you can do anything with. In a variety of seminars, Jason Hartman has estimated that a house can hold up for about 60 years before it will require a major remodel. This means that you can lock in the cost of construction for six decades. That’s a long time!
You lock in the cost of borrowing for three decades too, and those who come after you will have to pay more. It’s an unbelievable equation—everyone on Earth needs what you have! And what you have will become more expensive to build. And the dollar will become worth less and less money. The debt that you’ve got attached to your fixed rate asset will become easier to repay as years pass.
To provide an example—Jason Hartman’s mother purchased a house in 1976 for $62,500 and often stressed about making the $416 per month mortgage payment. After living there for several years, they moved to Long Beach and began renting the first house out. In the 2000s, she’s renting it out for $2,300 per month. $416 was a lot to make then, but she’s so happy she stuck with it!
Inflation does interesting (and ultimately beneficial to the investor) things to the dollar over time, which makes real estate a great choice (easily the best choice) for building wealth. While you may feel the fluctuations of the rocket ship, a safe landing will be just what you need to demonstrate the incredible value of money well spent.
So grab some freeze-dried ice cream, strap your safety belt tightly to your chest, and get ready for the ride of a lifetime!
Mon, 12 January 2015
It sounds like something from a science fiction movie: a shadow world that exists alongside the one we know. But “shadow banking” – an unregulated, opaque world of financial dealings that functions alongside usual commercial banking practices – is very real. And the transactions these institutions conduct have the potential to affect the affairs of investors and bank users throughout the country.
Shadow banking hit the news recently because of concerns about the scope of unregulated financial dealings in China. But it turns out that the United States is the home of the most shadow institutions in the world. And although shadow banks are legal, their very nature makes them vulnerable to crashing – and their involvement with the home mortgage industry means that homebuyers of all kinds could be affected.
The Financial Stability Board, a supervisory board of financial experts that oversees banking practices, defines shadow banking as unregulated banking activity that falls outside the definition of a commercial bank. According to the FSB, if an institution performs the core functions of a bank – taking the deposits of savers and using them to make long term loans to others, but isn’t subject to banking regulations and oversight, it’s a shadow institution.
Shadow banking isn’t illegal, and because these institutions operate largely on the level of investing and the buying and selling of securities, it might appear that the average bank customer would be unaffected by any of their activities. But shadow institutors played a role in the great housing collapse of 2008 and the massive number of transactions involving mortgage loans hat followed – and the fact that home mortgage loans that have been bought and sold numerous times may pass through the hands of shadow bankers means that mortgage applicants around the country could be affected by this kind of transaction.
The Federal Reserve’s newsmaking stimulus plan put the term “mortgage backed security” into the news. And that “securitization chain’ is how home mortgage loans become trapped in the shadow banking system. Those home loans that have been sold and resold eventually end up as part of a loan package used to back the value of securities that are then purchased by investors or government entities.
But if those loans go bad or loan holders fall victim to unethical lending practices, there’s little recourse. Because shadow banking is unregulated, it falls outside the scope of financial legislation and banking oversight that followed the crash. Shadow banking is a world of secrecy too, as these institutions aren’t bound to release information about their practices. And, if one of these institutions falls into crisis, it won’t be able to turn to the Federal Reserve or other government mandated fail safes for help. And that means little recourse for those involved in the transaction.
The FSB and other bank regulators are attempting to collect data on the scope and practices of shadow banking in the US, but true to it nature, little is known. But income property investors may want to follow Jason Hartman’s advice to stay aware and informed – and keep their transactions out of the shadows.
Mon, 5 January 2015
Break-ins, burglaries and vandalism plague cities both large and small,and new statistics show that one in four home invasions happens when someone is at home. Keeping rental properties secure concerns both renters and landlords – and keeping those issues clear can save money, time and even legal problems.
Certain kinds of basic home security fall under a landlord/investor’s legal responsibilities. It’s a landlord’s duty to provide doors with working locks and appropriate indoor and outdoor lighting. The landlord/tenant rules in all states require landlords to provide a working smoke detector, too, and in some states, even a carbon monoxide detector. And security in common areas such as sidewalks and laundry facilities is always a landlord’s responsibility
Although homeowners are flooded with advertising for the latest in home security technology, landlords are under no obligation to provide advanced security systems, alarms or surveillance hardware. If landlords do install these things, though, it’s their responsibility to maintain them in good working order, or they could be held liable if an incident occurs.
Tenants can – and do – install their own security devices, and that’s an area that requires clear guidelines, preferably in the lease or rental agreement, to prevent major problems. Generally, tenants need to get a landlord’s permission before installing any kind of security system or making changes to existing ones, and landlords aren’t obligated to maintain these kinds of systems. If a tenant signs a contract with an alarm system provider, for example, and then moves away before the contract term is up, the landlord isn’t responsible for carrying that contract.
A thornier area, though, is the question of access to the property. Landlords can legally enter properties under certain circumstances, and that can cause problems unless the issue is clearly addressed in the lease. Both tenants and landlords must have keys to the property, and if a landlord has installed other security, both parties need to have the security codes at other means of accessing it.
If a tenant installs an alarm system that requires a code, the landlord has a right to ask for the code in order to exercise the legal right of access to the property, which includes emergencies, scheduled repairs and showing to prospective tenants.
If you ‘re building wealth through investment property as Jason Hartman recommends, keeping that property secure is the job of both you and your tenants. Clarifying those responsibilities from the outset in writing protects both parties – and your property.