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Why Dogs Bite

Madison Real Estate Investors Association

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I’ve had some discussions lately with coaching students about marketing.  One student was perplexed and somewhat upset, understandably, that “nothing is working”.  So, we drilled down into his work to see if we could uncover something.  I asked what he was doing for his marketing.

“Direct mail” was the answer.  Good, that’s a great way to reach out to a lot of people and get decent results; although this was clearly NOT the case for this guy.  Now, I should mention that I have seen his marketing letters and they are really great – to the point, clear, and all about helping the prospect.

So, naturally, I went to “quantity” and found that he was doing about 100 a week.  Not an avalanche by any means, but certainly enough to generate a response or two from time to time.  But, “nothing” is what he claims to be getting.  Absolutely nothing.  Makes no sense, really.

Later that same day, another student approached me with a couple of questions and remarked that he was fielding a “bunch of leads”.  “Wait a minute”, I said with this earlier conversation in mind, “where are you getting these leads?”  Oh, direct mail, talking with REALTORs, and friends.

So, the first thing you could rationally conclude is that he had multiple streams of marketing going on, but with all things being equal, he should have had little or no response from direct mail.  Not the case.  He was getting the lion’s share from direct mail response.  He was having good conversations. Read More...


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Legislative Update

Utah Real Estate Investors Association

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Seller Finance: The Seller Finance Coalition has moved its focus to the US Senate with an advocacy campaign requesting Senators to incorporate HR 1360 language into S 2155. Please be sure to send your email advocacy through National REIA's Action Center (on NREIA's website, under the legislative tab). There is a pre-drafted letter is for your convenience.
HUD Lead law update: On August 10, 2017 HUD issued a notice updating its Lead Safe Housing Rule (LSHR). This rule impacts all Public Housing Authorities, Project Based Properties, AND Housing Choice Vouchers, i.e. Section 8 vouchers. The rule increases the responsibilities of property owners who accept vouchers. Be sure to reach out to the Housing Authority to make sure that if you accept a voucher holder, you are working under the most up to date rules for notification and maintenance.
Tax Reform: Tax reform has started! The initial wave of tax reform has been passed, and as National REIA has pointed out there are positives and concerns. I won't say negatives yet, because we have to wait for the regulatory onslaught that is already underway by the IRS in "clarifying" what the House and Senate meant. One of the key areas we are focused on is the definition of full time job versus part time efforts. The designation or distinction could result in the awarding or loss of a 20% tax break for Pass-through entities like LLCs.
Housing Reform: the next wave of welfare reform is percolating in Washington DC and the focus is on limits to generational housing and unlimited housing for the able-bodied. With the economy moving and jobs-aplenty, the Republicans in Congress are ready for another bite at the apple of reform. Needless to say this will be neither quiet nor quick. As yet, only a few key principles such as 5-year limits to subsidized housing have been leaked out. There will be a lot more on this issue once the budget is actually passed and IF the GOP believes it will help them in the mid-term election.
Energy Benchmarking: LEEDs programs have taken on a new life of their own - not just as incentives for developers, but as a standard of efficiency by local elected officials appealing to their green constituents. Energy efficiency is a good thing, but there is a cost/benefit factor that needs to be considered, and that has been over-ridden by the folks claiming the earth is growing hotter, oops, no colder, oops climate change. Well the weather is changing, but in the Midwest where common sense still resides, we call it the Seasons. Needless to say, many of these efforts are on the coasts. There are alternatives to LEED and many are much more pragmatic. Consider Green Globes and Energy Star as examples. In fact, Chicago IL is considering an energy rating system which would require all buildings to have an energy benchmarking - with an Energy Star© system that is under re-evaluation and may be changing its own system. Benchmarking has its set of problems, and while adherents support the process as transparent, the unintended consequences may be decreased property values over and above the cost of the utilities involved.
Rent Control: California may be facing a rent control-style program to its ballot process by a group evolved from ACORN. Several Cities are also considering implementing similar plans. Ironically, even Bloomberg News is reporting on the ineffectiveness of Rent Control! (see article on Real Estate Investing Today.com) Additionally, California property owners are working through the impossible task of "proving the negative" by showing that they no longer have bed bugs if a unit was found to have them by a prior resident.
Inclusionary Zoning Requirements: numerous cities like Philadelphia, have been working on approving new zoning mandates for mixed income housing.
Evictions: Are the hottest issue to "address" by municipalities. The book "Eviction," has set the stage for an argument for making it more difficult to evict a resident. Yes, even if they have wasted their income, or spent their money on drugs - as repeatedly documented in the book, and lied to their landlord, repeatedly... somehow the accountability aspect of paying a bill, i.e. rent, should now be more difficult to enforce. Read the book. Be aware. Be ready for it to come to a community near you! One argument to make is to ask that rental contracts be handled similar to other installment payment agreements, like auto and home loans. If those are worthy of being broken, then the rent payment can as well...
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Back on the Horse

Madison Real Estate Investors Association

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You’ve no doubt heard the expression that if you “fall off the horse”, the best thing to do is to “get back on the horse again.”  OK, that’s cute, we get it’s “insider meaning”, which refers to anything that you’ve done before that you’ve failed at for any reason, the best thing to do is to try again.

It’s a little subtler than that, too, of course.  It also refers to things that you may have been doing and were interrupted from doing for events outside of your control.  In other words, no so much that you failed at anything, but perhaps you were just stopped, for whatever reason.

So, this is my one-year celebration of pulling myself back on the horse – the horse of life.  You see, one year ago, a team of surgeons, acting as a team of rehab experts that included a framer, a plumber, and an electrician, rehabbed me.  They took my heart out, re-plumbed the feed lines, and put it back.

How I got to that point is anyone’s guess, and the team of cardiologists who looked at my heart muscle and say that it’s a strong as a horse’s, just the feed tubes got clogged.  They believe that there is a large amount of heredity in that equation.  Who knows, really.

I never actually fell off the horse, either.  I stopped the horse, I said “something’s not quite right”, got off the horse, and sought assistance from my health-care coaches.  No one forced me to “do” anything, but what they did do was make strong recommendations for that rehab I described above.

Once that was done, they told me to go home and let the automatic processes of the body rebuild the damage and the trauma caused by the surgery.  Then I got handed off to another set of coaches that guided me back to re-building physically. Read More...


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KISS Your Way to Riches

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Something peeked your interest in real estate. Maybe it was the Flip this house, or Flipping Vegas or any other the other 100 reality TV shows that have nothing to do with reality but makes for entertaining TV.  Maybe it was a radio ad from some national guru looking to build their business in your market and they want you to join their team.  Maybe it was an ad on Facebook telling you that it is so simple to make $30k a month without even getting out of bed.  Maybe it was a friend that really did flip properties or a relative that owned several rental properties.

Whatever the reason is that you decided to give real estate investing a try, you soon realized that there is a lot to know and the real estate business can seem overwhelming when you are first starting out.  I know because I felt that way in the beginning and now I mentor students through the minutia all the time.

In one of my early mentoring sessions with my mentor, he said something to me that I just laughed at, at the time but later realized how profound that statement was that he repeated to me over and over until I finally got it.

He said; if you want to get to where I am, you need to KISS your way to Riches.  Keep It Simple Stupid. Read More...


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Multiple Offers Strategies

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When it comes to making offers, most investors only know how to make one offer at a time.  They usually make an all cash offer, also known as the MAO (Maximum Allowable Offer) or they get a loan from a bank, hard money lender or a private investor.  This strategy has worked fine for investors and if you are only making offers on bank REOs on through the MLS, then a cash/MAO offer is really all you will be able to make.

The average number offers to get one accepted with this approach is 20-40 offers to get one accepted in today’s market for most of the country.  Some more experienced investors have been able to reduce that number down to about 5-10 offers to one acceptance by being very selective on what properties to make offers on.  In other words, they know from experience that certain properties from certain banks or listing agents simply will not accept their offers so they don’t even make the offers. 

The secret to success in the real estate business is making offers.  The problem is that most investors use the same offer process when dealing with sellers directly and they are missing some huge opportunities if they just knew how to create alternative offers that don’t require cashing out the seller.

Ask yourself these two questions: Read More...


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Forgotten depreciation deduction a major tax issue

Triangle Real Estate Investors Association

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Real estate investing provides many tax benefits, and depreciation is one of the biggest. It’s also one of the more misunderstood.

Depreciation lets you deduct a portion of the cost of the investment each year for the length of its IRS-designated life span.  The depreciation computation is figured based on the value of the improvements, not on the land underneath the improvements.  This necessitates that you be able to determine the value of the land and the value of the improvements.  This determination is generally included in the multitude of closing documents you received when buying the property or found on the county real estate tax website.  It is essential that you keep your closing documents.  There are additional costs that can be expensed and loan costs that must be amortized involved in the closing itself.

A recent client case provides a good example for this deduction and how it can be forgotten.

Joe, an old Army buddy into my office asking for help with his taxes.  He had done his taxes up to this point as he had a pretty simple tax situation but about two years ago he moved and turned his old primary home into a rental property.  The first year of owning his home he had done his taxes and he had read some articles about depreciation and expenses that had gotten him thinking that maybe he had done something wrong on his taxes so the following year when his taxes were due he came to me make sure everything was correct. 

I reviewed his prior year tax return and immediately knew I was going to have to file an amendment to correct some glaring mistakes.  The first thing I looked at was his Schedule E.  He had about $10,000 of rental income and no expenses.  He had a 1099 showing interest and taxes for the property.  He had mistakenly included all the interest and taxes from the 1099 as an itemized expense and had not prorated the amounts between schedule A and E.  That was pretty simple.  When I computed his mistake, he had taken the standard deduction so the decreased itemized amount did not negatively affect him but I when I added up the interest and taxes attributable to the rental portion of of the property it reduced his income down to about $7,000. Read More...


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What is Wholesaling?

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There is a lot of confusion out there with newbies and some seasoned investors as to what exactly Wholesaling means.  The easiest way to describe this is to look at the Minnesota State Statue: 82 REAL ESTATE SALES REGULATIONS Sub 55 Definitions. Condensed Version: You cannot sell a property for another for a fee without a real estate license.  So the question is, as a wholesaler, what are you selling?  If you have a property under contract, you can sell your rights to the contract, not the property.  This is done via an assignment agreement which allows the assignee to step into your place as the buyer.  That is the basics of wholesaling. 

Some states actively go after real estate investors for incorrectly wholesaling.  These investors get themselves into trouble because they can’t explain legally what they are doing and therefore say the wrong things, like I am trying to find a buyer for the seller.  That shows intent, and as the previous FBI Director James Comey famously explained, it comes down to intent.

The problem is that your true intentions may not reflect your stated intentions because you don’t understand the legality of what you are doing.  If you just change what you are saying, to reflect your true intentions, then you will avoid a lot of aggravation and harassment from the state. Read More...


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Is there Another Crash Coming?

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The simple answer is yes of course there is.  There have always been buildups, crashes and recoveries.  That is just the way things work.  The real questions are when is the next big crash coming, what you do about it and how do you prepare for it.

I know people are freaking out right now, but staying informed and objective at this point will help keep your sanity. 

As I am writing this, an email thread from my Lifeonaire Titanium group started circling about just this exact same topic.  Some of them are taking advantage of the current market conditions because they have a great marketing machine running that is supplying them with good deals and because of the lack of inventory, they are making higher profits than they would have in a normal market.  Others are starting to panic and preparing for dooms day.

Here is my quick response to them:

Everything we are seeing right now is equivalent to 2003-2005 before the big crash in 2008.  While there are similarities to that time frame, there are also huge differences.  As Steve stated, there are no NINJA loans right now.  But they may be coming back.  Lack of inventory was not the driving force back in 2003-2005.  NINJA loans and other no qualifying loans were the main driving force. 

My short version is this:
If you look at the historical price index from case shiller which is adjusted from inflation, we are not seeing the same price increases as we did the last time.  Below is a screen shot of my local market that I just did for our meeting last week.  As you will see, we are at a 3% appreciation over the last 27 years.  Historically right were we should be.  The big thing to keep an eye on right now is how the lack of inventory affects the markets. Read More...


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What’s Holding You Back?

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We live in uncertain times.  After the mortgage meltdown and the almost collapse of the financial industry, the real estate market has been going through several ups and downs.  The median sales price in my area went from its peak of $238,000 in June 2006 to a low of $138,500 in February 2012, back up to $210,000 in June of 2013 and we are on our way back down, currently sitting at $179,850 for January 2014.

There have been some wild swings in the past few years and the people that understand that and have kept a close eye on the trends, and have not been afraid of the market have made a lot of money the past few years.  However, I have seen most people sitting on the fence and haven’t done anything.  I can understand the feeling of uncertainty and being afraid to make a mistake, but let’s face it, if you’re afraid to make a mistake, you will never make it big.

You’re probably thinking right now “That’s easy for you to say Mike; you’ve been at this for a long time and have more experience than I do”.  While for many of you, that may be true, however, for your info, I have probably made more mistakes than most of you ever will, and I am still making mistakes.  But that is not holding me back.

That is one of the most common traits I see from those who are successful, even in this wild and uncertain market.  They are not afraid to make a mistake, and often do, but they don’t let that hold them back.

Everyone wants to minimize their risk of making a mistake and losing money or damaging their credit, myself included.  However, I see way to many people with paralysis of analysis and never do anything.  So what’s holding you back?  Read More...


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Can You Survive Dodd-Frank?

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Over the past, the most common question I have heard is “what are you going to do about the Dodd-Frank Act”?  And my common responses have been, “not worry about it” or “understand it and work around it”.  So what is your response, and will you survive not that the dastardly bill that is now in full affect?

Many people are worried that this new law that has been in effect since January 10, 2014 will put them out of business.  There are many new regulations pertaining to lending and one segment in particular that affects investors the most, especially in the coming years with our current economic situation and that is seller financing.  People are worried that these new regulations will have a dramatic impact on our business, and I have heard several people predict that parts or all of the Dodd-Frank law will be repealed.

I don’t put a lot of faith in congress repealing anything these days.  Look at Affordable Health Care for instance; does it look like that will be repealed?  No, so why would you expect the Dodd-Frank Act to be any different?  The Dodd-Frank Act was a response to the sub-prime mortgage meltdown crisis to put the blame on a segment of the economy that was politically acceptable and to repeal it now would be an admission to that fact.  In an attempt not to offend certain political ideologies here, I will not get into the cause of the sub-prime mortgage meltdown crisis, or the political reasons for appealing the Dodd-Frank Act, but I will explain what it means to us as investors.

Here is the simple break down, as I understand it. Read More...


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