Investing to Achieve your Goals

Ever gone to a seminar or read a book that claimed it was going to “teach you how to invest and make millions?” Unfortunately, with most of these ”programs”, folks can’t really make the investment technique work where they live (California doesn’t work like Florida). Or they don’t have the time or money the program requires, or they discover there was a lot of vital information missing. These programs end up seeming a sham and a scam.

Typically, after the money is spent on the “advice”, the investor is still at ground zero not knowing where to start, what else is needed, or if the program really will work as claimed – and may end up losing even more money experimenting or chasing other “programs”.

Almost anyone can be snagged by an opportunity that looks very good because the “catches” have not been fully revealed. It takes a very experienced investor to figure out those missing pieces. Don’t hesitate to ask for our “second opinion” about any “opportunity” you may be considering. We could possibly save you a bundle.

Investing correctly in real estate doesn’t have to be a mystery. However, “getting rich quick” is a lot less likely than “getting well-off slowly”. It is highly likely that a solid plan worked smartly in a solid way will pay off handsome dividends over time. The tougher parts for investors to do without guidance are 1) developing the plan, and 2) working the plan without a good team that supports every phase of the plan every step of the way.

Investing in real estate is a very personal adventure, guided by the investor’s age, involvement level, resources and geographic location. Each of these criteria will greatly impact how and what real estate should be used to achieve the plan’s goals.

For example, it’s not hard to imagine “young bucks” being more eager to rehab the house while living in it, while the retiree prefers to live debt free with passive income. As you can imagine, your needs, abilities, resources and desires will change over the years.

If you would like help developing your plan, and a good team to support your plan every step of the way, don’t hesitate to contact us.

What are the signs of a good agent??

A good agent* should be:

1.       Up-to-speed with loans:  knowledgeable of the constantly changing lending criteria you will face as a buyer, so everyone, including you, can be assured of what you can actually afford before wasting time.  I do NOT recommend using a loan broker as your transaction agent as a good transaction requires a totally different skill set than a good mortgage broker skill set.

2.       Empathetic:  “hearing” your real needs and capacities, not just listening to what you say, but asking correct and in-depth questions to figure those needs and capacities out with you.

3.       Industry smart: Knows how to find all the properties that would be of interest to you (ie:  with 83 MLSs in California, not all properties are listed where you’d expect them).  Don’t hesitate to ask him/her directly how he/she would help you find the best property for you.

4.       Your Champion:  Advocates for YOUR interests at every step of your purchase, including the searches, the (multiple) offers, the escrow (ie: absolute focus on getting the best deal for you).  Don’t hesitate to ask him/her how he/she represents the client’s best interests.  If he/she understands and focuses on that, you will get answers, not just a blank stare.

5.       Honest and property smart:  Fully discloses ALL property issues even those possibly not disclosed by the seller.  Ask what disclosures are usually included in the transaction.

6.       Experienced:  has done many successful transactions (don’t hesitate to ask how many deals done in the last year or two) so you will be sure to not be “on job training” for the agent.  Don’t hesitate to ask for buyer referrals.  A good representative will have buyers wanting to talk to others about their positive experience.   A bad agent will be full of excuses, like confidentiality…

7.       Has a good team:  knows and has a good and reliable team of experts available – mortgage broker, pest inspector, home inspector, escrow officer, etc.  This team can make or break your deal.  Don’t hesitate to ask the agent how much inspections cost, how often they have ordered inspections, and/or why they feel that a particular inspector is good, or why they selected that “team” member over another person.

8.       Is an excellent negotiator:  knows every aspect of a deal in order to capitalize on every opportunity for your benefit.  (ie:  typically a good agent should be able to save the buyer money even during escrow negotiations).  Don’t hesitate to ask the agent how he/she handles negotiations, how he/she feels about making multiple offers at the same time, how the escrow works.

9.       Has solid backup:  no one person can be constantly available.  However, as a buyer, you don’t want to be left in a lurch when your agent is unavailable.  Don’t hesitate to ask who will help you if the agent can’t.  Most agents do NOT have a backup, which is one of my major complaints with the standard industry business structure.  I think an independent broker is more likely to have a secretary or admin or another agent that can back him/her up as necessary.

How to find a good representative:  I strongly urge you to interview several independent BROKERS (franchise brokers are not usually actively representing clients).   Ask them about their experience representing buyers, and other questions stemming from and included in the attributes above.

In California, agents have only a “saleperson” license, and cannot practice real estate without being hired by a broker.  A broker’s license is much more rigorous, demands more experience, more in-depth knowledge, and is the license that gets sued if things go wrong.  It is much more likely you’ll get far better representation from an active broker, than just a salesperson.

*  A “realtor” is just a licensee that pays annual fees to the California Association of Realtors.

Real Estate Insider Secret #1

Real Estate Insider Secret #1
“The Multiple Listing Service: Not just One, But MANY”
By CJ Holmes, California Real Estate Broker

The belief that there is only one Multiple Listing Service (MLS) is one of this country’s biggest real estate myths.  There are actually 83 MLSs in California and dozens more in every state.  Very few people outside the industry know this and most agents don’t want their clients to know about it.  Why?  Because then they would lose their clients to another agent who won’t keep the secret because of commitment to providing better representation. Such representation (or its lack) underscores how ethical and successful an agent is.

The “Multiple Listing Service” is a computerized database of properties listed for sale to which only agents and brokers have access. It is designed to allow them to see all the properties for sale so they may help their buyers purchase any property, no matter who listed it.

The idea of an MLS sounds great, doesn’t it? But here’s the catch: no single MLS in the state has all the listings. The MLS’ are typically by county or region within a county. And each MLS has its own monthly fees for agent access.

Imagine what it would cost an agent to belong to all 83 MLSs or the dozens of MLSs in any state. The total access fees would be thousands of dollars a month, in addition to paying each of the MLS’s a one-time non-refundable initiation fee.

So here’s how this secret hurts Sellers:

  • The Seller walks into a local real estate office and says, “I’d like to list my property for sale.” The agent says, “No problem. I’ll put it on the MLS” (implying there is only one MLS). Then the agent lists the property in the MLS the agent belongs to – NOT necessarily the MLS where the property exists. So now agents local to the property can’t see the listing and don’t even know it’s for sale.  That leaves the Seller wondering where all the buyers are.

Real estate agents who understand this join multiple MLS’s, and then double or triple enter Seller listings in the MLSs that make sense for that particular property. This definitely gives the Seller an advantage over an agent that doesn’t do this.  However, the time and expense of representing Sellers this way simply prohibits many agents from providing this service, no matter how much they may want to.

Here’s how this secret hurts Buyers:

  • Buyers think that all the property they are interested in will be on the local MLS. But it’s not. And unless the Buyer’s agent belongs to and searches many MLS’s, those properties won’t be found.  (See the above mentioned Secret Hurts Sellers). Those local properties become invisible to Buyers whose agents don’t realize that there are many MLS, don’t invest in multiple MLS’s, don’t dedicate the time it takes to search several MLSs, aren’t concerned enough to try to provide their Buyers with better representation, or simply don’t have enough resources to do so.

Real Estate agents who can afford to care as much about completing a quality transaction as the Sellers do, understand this, and dedicate the resources, time and energy to enter listings multiple times.  Failing to provide Clients with as much as exposure as possible, because it may be too much effort or expense for the agent, definitely leads to poor sales results and lower net proceeds, particularly for the Sellers.

CJ’s expertise helps buyers lock in profits, maximizes sellers’ net proceeds.  She works extensively with real estate investors.  Her wise guidance literally means more money for her clients, and comes from years of personal investing experience, and hundreds of transactions.  

COMMISSION MYTHS

False  Assumptions  Can  Tank  Sales  (FACTS)
By CJ Holmes, California Real Estate Broker

COMMISSION MYTHS

We all make decisions based on what we think are the Facts. But sometimes what we think is a Fact is actually a Myth. In the real estate market it’s especially important to know the difference between accurate information and misconceptions because the success of your transaction depends on it.

Indeed, you have a right and an obligation to know exactly what to expect from your real estate professionals. That’s the only way you can make the right decisions for your particular situation.

To assist you, here are four of the more common Myths people experience and the Facts that will help them set the record straight:

1.  Myth: All listing agents will have similar excellent marketing programs for selling my property.

FACT: Research shows that 85% of agents do one transaction or less per year. As a result, many agents have little experience, insufficient funds to handle an effective marketing campaign, and end up doing the minimum or less (i.e., no photos) and calling their effort ‘good enough.”

Unfortunately that leaves thousands of dollars left behind on the table due to inadequate marketing, incorrect pricing, and ineffective negotiating.  Lack of attention to contract details, or unscrupulously selling to a pocket buyer to get the entire commission, also result in less profitable transactions for the sellers.

At CJ Holmes & Company you work with a seasoned Investor-Broker who will guide your sale to lock in profits others leave behind. We provide expert market analysis, proven pricing strategies, and target and entice the correct buyer market. We also give you outstanding photographs, customized professional signage, showcased online listings, multiple search engine exposure, individualized property websties, and capture all buyer calls. Brochures and email blasts to a large buyer database all combine to generate more than quadruple the buyer leads, generate multiple offers and maximize seller proceeds.

2.  Myth: Buyer’s agents will show all property to their buyers regardless of what commissions are offered to them.

FACT: As a business consideration, many agents review the commissions offered prior to deciding which properties they will show their buyers. Just as a seller has a choice for what commissions to offer, the agents have a choice of what they will accept and work for.

At CJ Holmes & Company you get what you deserve: the most possible seller proceeds for your property. Since the sales price is directly affected by demand, the best way to enhance demand for your property is to ensure that it is seen by every buyer in the market. And the best way to ensure that is to adequately compensate so each agent is motivated to show your property to his/her buyers.

3.  Myth: Bringing many listings to the same agent makes negotiating a commission discount good business.

FACT: An agent should carefully consider what commissions are offered for the effort. Because there is no way for an agent to sell separate properties in “bulk”, there is no way for them to affect any savings in the marketing and transaction efforts for different listings. The listing agent must simply agree to do the same work for less.

At CJ Holmes & Company you get the best market value possible for your property.  Our marketing program virtually guarantees the seller will get the highest net proceeds possible in any given market at any given time.  We know that listing agents who agree to commission discounts are often either desperate for business or not motivated to do much marketing work, causing seller proceeds to suffer badly.

4.  Myth: Agents never really earn their commissions. It’s mostly just free money for them at your expense.

FACT: Some agents don’t do much for the money they receive. Others will more than earn their commissions. It’s up to the seller to understand that all agents are not created equal. Therefore, it will be important to hire the best representation money can buy.

At CJ Holmes & Company you experience quality representation that combines extensive experience with a focus on building the client’s wealth. To this we add our powerful marketing program, significant personnel resources, strong negotiation skills, and excellent escrow management. All of this often produces greater than expected seller proceeds.

Remember, you have the right to receive the best representation possible. But unless you know the difference between fact and fiction you may not be able to determine whether or not your real estate professional is working in your best interest or theirs.

Ask questions and expect answers that make sense.  Place your needs and goals as the top priority. If this is the only real estate transaction you will experience in your lifetime, you still want it to count.  And if this is one of many real estate transactions, you still want them all to be successful.

BUYING Real Estate RIGHT

We all make decisions based on what we think are the Facts. But sometimes what we think is a Fact is actually a Myth. In the real estate market it’s especially important to know the difference between accurate information and misconceptions because the success of your real estate transaction, whether it’s a first time home purchase or multiple investments, depends upon it.

Indeed, you have a right and an obligation to know exactly what to expect from your real estate professionals. That’s the only way you can make the right decisions for your particular real estate situation.

To assist you, here are four of the most common Myths people come across and the Facts that will help them set the record straight:

1.  Myth: It doesn’t matter whom I hire to represent my purchase, as all agents write similar offers anyway.

FACT: Research shows that 85% of agents do one deal or less per year. Many agents have little experience, and don’t want to prepare numerous offers that take a lot of time and get rejected. They are not concerned that their choice may cost the buyer thousands of dollars more on the purchase because they have ineffectively negotiated or not paid attention to contract details.

CJ Holmes & Company knows that you deserve a seasoned Investor-Broker who, with expertise, will guide your purchase to get you the best deal others just ignore. The best time to “lock in profits” is at the purchase. Since you only get one chance to “Buy the Property Right”, it makes excellent sense to hire representation that focuses on building your wealth.

2.  Myth: I will see all the available property for sale no matter which agent I use because it’s all listed on the MLS (Multiple Listing Service).

FACT: Are you sure? Which MLS? In California alone, there are 83 MLSs. Most agents belong to only one, and that can possibly limit what you see. Sometimes agents focus just on their company listings which is often to the Buyer’s detriment. Many commercial brokerages completely ignore the MLS’s.  That means that unless your agent knows how to find these properties for you, you won’t see them.

CJ Homes & Company provides Buyers with access to ALL the properties for sale, no matter what type property you’re seeking, or which brokerage has listed it. We give our buyers sophisticated shopping tools right at their fingertips, and expert guidance from our years of experience representing hundreds of buyers.

3.  Myth: I will get the best service and deal if I use the listing agent for my purchase.

FACT: Most listing agents will say what you want to hear, just to get your offer. They will be focused on a quick, easy sale to get the entire commission, and likely not be inclined to negotiate as hard for your side as for the side that has already hired them.

By the way, it is not good business, under the guise of “not working with an agent”, to get the listing agent to show you the property, answer all your questions, and then use someone else to write the offer.  Don’t do it.  That can boomerang.

CJ Holmes & Company uses professional investing techniques designed just for clients. From developing a solid plan of action, to working that plan with multiple offers for multiple properties, our clients are assured of getting the best the market has to offer. This is true whether your purchase is for your first home, or your next investment property.

4.   Myth: My agent will be there for me whenever I need him or her.

FACT: …except when he or she is out of cell phone range, on vacation, ill, has a family issue, takes another job to make ends meet, or quits…..

CJ Holmes & Company gives you prompt answers and reliable support when needed. We have designed our services to incorporate the expertise of salaried professionals so our clients are not dependent upon just one commission-based person for everything they need.

We understand the value of doing good business and you have the right to receive the best representation possible. But unless you know the difference between fact and fiction you may not be able to determine whether or not your real estate professional is working in your best interest or theirs.

Ask questions and expect answers that make sense.  Place your needs and goals as the top priority. If this is the only real estate transaction you will experience in your lifetime, you will still want it to count.  And if this is one of many real estate transactions, you will still want them all to be successful.

When you’ve considered the rest, hire the best.

CJ Holmes, owner/broker, has been investing in real property since 1977.  Starting with a fixer home, she and her husband have built a portfolio of income-producing property.  Licensed in 1998 to facilitate the constant search for investment property, CJ began Agent Representation for Buyers and Sellers in 2003.  In March 2005, she earned her Broker’s License and now brings her real estate investment expertise, experience, and energy to every client.

CJ helps buyers lock in profits, maximizes sellers’ net proceeds, and works extensively with real estate investors.  Her wise guidance literally means more money for her clients, and comes from years of personal investing experience, and hundreds of transactions.  This last market collapse has driven her to develop mathematical models designed to predict the future of real estate prices.