Financial Considerations Of Home Ownership

While we often, refer to, home ownership, as a core component, of the American Dream, it’s important, for us, to take a realistic look, at the obligations, and necessities, involved, if this is, to truly be a dream, instead of a potential nightmare! Before embarking on this house – hunting, process, carefully, introspectively, objectively, examine and consider, your personal reasons, persona, what makes you happy/ satisfied, and whether, it’s a good course, for you. After, you’ve determined, what’s best, for you, and know, what you want, it’s essential to clearly consider, and examine, what you might be able to afford. This means, proceeding, in a responsible, well – planned, and considered manner, focused, on preparing for the many contingencies, of home ownership. With that in mind, this article will attempt to briefly consider, review, and discuss, a few steps, which should, both reduce unnecessary stress and hassle, and maximize the potential enjoyment!

1. Reasons for buying that house: Why do you want to buy, any specific house? Does it meet your present needs, and into the future? Or, are you looking, at a shorter – term, and want to live, there, for a shorter – span, and, then, relocate, when needed and necessary? Are you the type of person, who enjoys moving, or would you rather, remain in your present quarters? What are your needs, goals, and priorities, in terms of location, neighborhood, schools, costs, transportation, conveniences, etc? Why, this house?

2. Down – payment: Do you have the necessary funds, to have the down – payment, while avoiding, placing too much stress, on yourself, because of using these funds? Smart homeowners prepare, and make their journey, far less stressful!

3. Needed reserves: The best way, to proceed, is to put together, several reserve funds, in order to ease your way, forward! Once, you’ve purchased your house, most people face monthly fixed expenses, which includes mortgage payments (including principal, taxes, and escrow items, such as insurance, etc), utilities (electric, heat, telephone, television, internet, etc). Realize, owning a house, requires preparation, for affording the costs of regular repairs, including appliances, heating, water, etc. Create a reserve fund, for this specific area. Also, realize, houses require attention, and certain items, have useful lives, and will need replacing, such as roofs (rated from 20 – 40 years), appliances (including washer, dryer, refrigerator, oven/ stove, dishwasher, etc), painting or power – washing, etc. At some point, many realize, their house needs certain upgrades, renovations, etc. The better prepared, the easier this process!

Owning a Classic Craftsman Home in Northeast Los Angeles

NELA home architectural styles vary widely: Modern, Art Deco, Victorian, Tudors, and others. But perhaps the Craftsman residences get the most attention.

Craftsman homes are among the most sought after real estate in Northeast Los Angeles neighborhoods. One of the many reasons why homes for sale in Pasadena, Eagle Rock, Hermon and elsewhere have become hot commodities is a renewed interest in so-called “character homes”. But Craftsman homes come in significant variations, sizes, and conditions – opening up opportunities for homebuyers in a range of prices.

The high value – i.e., prices ranging from $400,000 on past $2 million – being placed on Craftsman homes in NELA is an interesting turn of historical events. These solid structures were originally designed for the advent of middle class home ownership in the late 19th and early 20th century. Gone were the features of Victorian homes that included butler’s quarters and kitchens only used by household staff. Instead, the family prepared their own meals while some features of kitchens blended with dining rooms – which are why there are those built-in, glass-front cabinets for dishware that was previously stowed out of sight from formal dining rooms.

The characteristics of Craftsman homes range from low-pitched roofs to deep eaves, exposed rafters (usually with distinctive decorative knee braces), dormers, one- to one-and-a-half stories, large fireplaces (often flanked by built-in cabinetry), and double-hung windows. Outside, Craftsman bungalows had large porches that welcomed newcomers to the California lifestyle, which offered a longer outdoor season for people arriving from the Northeast and Midwest.

Note that Bungalow and Craftsman style homes are often – but not always- the same thing; Bungalows always have that front porch (“veranda” if you prefer), while Craftsman sometimes do not. (If looking at homes for sale in Glassell Park, Garvanza or Mt. Washington, you might nerd out with your realtor by looking for the distinction.)

A further distinction might be made between Craftsman homes designed by certain architects (Greene & Greene built the trend-setting larger versions, which drew from Spanish mission and Japanese aesthetics), while Craftsman-style homes had a lower cost and were more modest in proportions and features. Craftsman-style homes may have shipped by train in a kit (e.g., “Sears homes”) or been a much-replicated design used by 1920s developers who knew a popular style when they saw one.

What made Craftsmans so popular when first built is what makes them equally popular today. These solid buildings have a relaxed style, one that accommodates an easy flow between rooms and activities. Mothers and fathers making meals in the kitchen can take a break to help children with their homework while keeping an eye on something cooking on the stove. Throw a party on the veranda but some guests might easily drift inside to admire the Arts & Crafts detailing of the cabinetry, fireplace surround, or wainscoting. They are healthy, unpretentious and sturdy: anything standing today has withstood a century of seismic activity, testimony to the sturdy craftsmanship of these Craftsman homes.

Green Homes for Sale

If you were looking at real estate ads and saw one that stated “green homes for sale”, you may at first wonder why anyone would a listing stating the color of their home. This is not what this type of ad means. It is just stating that the homes for sale are earth friendly and energy efficient. Green homes for sale are being built in an effort to less the carbon footprints we leave behind.

When you purchase a green home they will contains all or some of the following features that are earth friendly.

• Fiber cement siding
• Alternative power system like wind and solar
• Recycled building insulation
• No VOC stains and paints, which stands for volatile organic compound. It is any compound that is carbon-based and will vaporize at standard room temperatures. Some of the more prevalent ones are formaldehyde, acetone, and methane.
• Solar powered hot water heating

Even if you do not live in a green home, there are things that you can do to increase your energy conservation. It will even help contribute to saving our environment. Making your home a green home can help to reduce global warning and save the homeowner money. It will significantly better the environment and require little effort for the homeowner.

Making a green home

• Instead of using the standard incandescent light bulbs start to use compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs). When you switch to the CFL’s you can save per year over a hundred dollars. You can find these lights in the same aisle as your regular bulbs but they are little more expensive. In the United States, if every house switches the type of light bulbs they were using to CFL’s there would be a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of one trillion pounds.
• Install a thermostat that is programmable-with this type of thermostat the homeowner can program the thermostat so that the air conditioner or heater is off when homeowners are not at home. The programmable thermostat can be programmed so that it will cool or heat your home shortly before the homeowner arrives home. This change could save the homeowner ten percent or more on cooling and heating costs
• Plug air leaks-this will help the homeowner save money and practice conservation. You can do this by installing weather stripping, keep the temperature in your home from rapidly fluctuating, and caulk windows correctly to stop air drafts.
• Energy Star® rated appliances-these reduce the amount of electricity that is needed to operate them so they have less of an impact on the environment. They will also save on your energy bill.

The Benefits of Having an Energy Star Certified House

For two decades, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is pushing energy-efficiency in homes. From this, the Energy Star in new homes was conceptualized. It aims to prevent pollution of the air while at the same time giving homes the much-needed adjustments towards energy efficiency.

For home buyers who are on the hunt for their dream homes, it is very important to look for Energy Star compliant homes. While the prices may be higher than homes established right before its implementation, buyers are guaranteed to save along the way from the prices slashed on energy costs.

And because going green is an in thing, those who invest in Energy Star homes are also assured of profits when they choose to sell them.

New construction homes are also required to follow new building codes. These requirements are also in line with the energy-efficiency methods prescribed by EPA.

How about appliances that you’ll be putting in your new homes?

You don’t have to worry too. Appliances manufacturers are also following Energy Star prescriptions. Thus, when shopping for TV, refrigerator, aircon, or any other home appliance you want to add in your new home, just look for the Energy Star sign. With this, you are assured that they are more energy-efficient than same appliances without such compliance tags.

Any other benefits, aside from less operating costs on monthly basis?

New construction homes that comply with Energy Star have added benefits. Given that the design is geared to cut energy costs, you can be assured that during warm months, the windows can give entry to natural and cool air. During cold months, the added insulation can provide heat and in fact trap the warm air circulating inside the house.

Another benefit that comes with Energy Star homes is the improved air quality inside the house. The ducts are made sure to be tightly sealed. They prevent air pollutants and even pests from finding their ways into the house. An improved indoor air quality is beneficial to the health – especially to those who have respiratory conditions.

If you are indeed a first time home buyer and you need the help of mortgage lenders, choosing Energy Star homes is quite a good choice. Many lenders are favoring these homes and within your locality, you might just be able to score one with lower origination fees.

Five Keys to Real Estate Flipping Success

Make your fortune in real estate. It is not that hard once you get the hang of it. Real estate flipping can be an extremely high paying career, but I see way too many people give up on it. The turnover in this industry is exceptionally high. I noticed the high turnover early on and have watched to learn why some people kill it while others disappear. This has been important to monitor to help myself and my clients last in this amazing business.

I have been in the real estate field for the last 16 years and my hard money lending company finances around 150 deals a year. Here is what that experience has taught me about being a successful fix and flipper.

Mindset: This is where it all starts. For the last 3 years, I have felt myself fall into a little lull and have realized that this occurred because of my mindset. Your mindset could be a lot of things, but the basic concept is that what you believe will happen… does. Sometimes just convincing your mind that you will hit a goal takes work. Not to mention the work that it takes to actually hit that goal.

Focusing your mind on positivity is a great start, but you really need to believe you deserve the success you desire. Meditation and affirmations are fantastic ways to accomplish this.

Hustle: Nothing is going to be given to you. When I was going through my struggles to hit some financial goals, I had to keep reminding myself of this. Times can get hard and things can feel unfair, but the reality is, no matter how much you don’t want to believe it, you are the only one responsible for your success. I would tell myself this over and over. “If I want it, I need to earn it” I had to get up in the morning. I had to deal with the problem on my plate. I had to stay up late or work on the weekend. I had to put in the work to get the results. Because I decided to be successful, I decided to work hard.

Network: As we have learned. It is not what you know, it is who you know. I constantly try to team up with people smarter than me, that can both help me learn and help me get results. This has resulted in millions in profits. I also feel very lucky to have a network that can solve just about any problem I run into. If I am rehabbing a house and run into a problem, I have a list of people I can call for help. If they don’t know how to help they will know someone who does. I lean on my attorneys, my CPA, partners, wholesalers, and other professionals on a regular basis.

Education: To make my top five list you know I believe this is important in your success. Constant improvement is essential and the exciting thing about this, especially early in your career, is that growth is exponential. As you learn and implement ideas into your business, your business grows at a faster and faster pace. Obviously, for this to work you will need to learn AND implement. Many people learn all about investing and never invest. That comes down to the investor mindset. That’s why, I believe, you need all five of these essential keys to be a great fix and flipper. The good thing is this is possible for everyone, including you.

Access to Money: So, this one might be self-servicing because I am a lender, and this could fall within the Network category but let’s face it, if you don’t have money you don’t do deals. Money can come from many sources including cash you have in the bank, money you borrower from institutions, partners, private and hard money loans. Many times, you will need a combination of these sources to get a deal done or to maximize profits. This can all be learned as part of your education or you can choose to work with a professional that can advise you on the best way to navigate this complicated subject.

Consider Resale Value Before You Renovate

When doing renovations, people rarely think about long-term resale value. Most families just want a really nice place to live and they work to create their forever home. However, life can be unpredictable. So while it is joyful to make a dream home, those dreams need to be balanced with an understanding of whether or not those granite countertops or that second story are good investments in the long run.

What is resale value?

We hear the idea of resale value quite often pertaining to real estate. The ideal is to buy a property that is a good investment and to have its value appreciate. Good maintenance and appropriate renovations help ensure that when it comes time to sell again, the property has gained equity and you’ll make money.

However, the amount of money you’ll make depends on market appreciation. Which is why it’s important to make improvements that fit the property and the neighborhood.

Location the key factor to consider

If you’ve bought a property by a highway or another not-so-great location, you probably got it for a good price. If that location’s value doesn’t increase during the time you own it, you’ll probably have to sell it for a similarly good price, even if you’ve done a lot of work on it.

Many property owners invest in renovations that aren’t in keeping with the neighbourhood. As a result, they end up selling for less than they invested, which can be heartbreaking.

Before you renovate, look at what has been selling around you – at what cost for what quality? If the most expensive home in your neighborhood sold for $400,000 after being completely renovated, it doesn’t make sense to style your house to a value any higher.

And really, how special are those $10-per-square-foot tiles anyway? Go with the $5 tiles instead.

Focus your investment to one or two elements per room. Make pricey items such as granite countertops, a fancy backsplash, or a higher end faucet; work like show pieces, similar to a piece of art.

Smallest may be best when it comes to resale
As for adding a second story to create more space for an expanding family, it may be worth it in the long run to hunt for a bigger home.

If you invest an extra $100,000 on a two-bedroom bungalow in a neighborhood full of two-bedroom bungalows, you may never recover that full investment. It may be a much better idea to take your equity and find a larger home in a neighborhood where your investment will hold and even grow in time.

When it comes to resale value, it’s always better to have the smallest house in an area with mansions rather than a $600K house surrounded by $300K houses.

Of course, creating a joyful home should always be the first priority. Just make wise decisions that will bring you prosperity and happiness for years to come.

Overturned Mortgage Rulings Creates Chaos at the Supreme Court and Bank Stock Falls

This week has seen unprecedented Supreme Court action that has unleashed all kinds of mayhem on an internal level, not to mention the consequences this has had on the financial sector. Over the past few years we have seen thousands of court cases revolving around the financial sector and their methods when it comes to granting mortgages. The primary issue was in relation to the infamous Floor Clause inserted in mortgage agreements (in many cases without advising the mortgage holder!) but a Supreme Court ruling in favour of mortgage holders obligated banks to reimburse any benefits obtained which could be a few thousand euros per case. The secondary issue and the one this article refers to has to do with reclaiming the Stamp Duty paid on the Mortgage Deed.

In February of this year, the Supreme Court by means of its Civil Court issued a ruling that stated the mortgage holder is responsible for payment of the corresponding Stamp Duty, however, this same ruling was OVERTURNED by its own Court for Contentious-Administrative Proceedings in an unprecedented action last Tuesday 16th October 2018 and recorded under Ruling Number 1505/2018. This ruling corrects the existing ruling that was passed only a few months ago and determines that in fact the BANK and not the client/mortgage holder is responsible for payment of any Stamp Duty due when a Mortgage Deed is granted before a Notary Public. How has this come about and what was the reasoning given for this surprising turn of events?

Mrs Lourdes Amasio Díaz, a barrister who represents the company known as “Empresa Municipal de la Vivienda de Rivas Vaciamadrid S.A.” initiated an appeal to reverse a ruling against her client as recorded under Recurso de Casación 5350/2017 and this is what was considered at the Court for Contentious-Administrative Proceedings. As stated previously, this appeal made Magistrate Jesús Cudero reconsider the Supreme Courts previous ruling and side with her client. The criteria used to arrive at this decision was the fact the only interested party in registering a mortgage loan at the Land Registry Office is the bank because it is the only way they can make claims against the mortgage holder in the event of non-repayment of the loan, therefore the bank should be liable for the resulting tax.

This about-turn can seem conflictive but as it turns out when the matter was apparently resolved in February 2018 at Civil Court, the same issue was already on the table at the Court for Contentious-Administrative Proceedings which now does not hold the same point of view.

The result of last Tuesday’s ruling is a massive dip in the stock market which has affected Spain’s major banks, primarily, Bankia, Bankinter, BBVA, CaixaBank and Banco de Sabadell. The one major factor that has not been detailed in the ruling is whether the Stamp Duty for mortgages signed over the past four years can be reclaimed or whether it only applies to new mortgages. Of course, the banks interpret the ruling to apply only to new mortgages, so this point must be clarified.

It would appear the Spanish banks’ reign of tyranny is over and they are being made accountable for their one-sided dealings with their own clients, however, this ruling has stirred up a hornet’s nest and it is far from over… Not even 24 hours after this latest ruling was passed, the Supreme Court has made yet another astonishing decision to review this sentence. Mr Luis María Díez-Picazo, President of the Court for Contentious-Administrative Proceedings has decided it would be prudent to delay this ruling until other considerations can be examined. By this he is referring to the effect this has had on the stock market and what it would mean if the banks have to reimburse what experts estimate between 6.000 and 24.000 million euros.

A Plenary Session of the Court must be held within the next few weeks in which 31 magistrates must decide whether the latest ruling that determines the banks are responsible for any Stamp Duty that arises from mortgage deeds will be accepted or not. What is going to happen in the meantime? Well, in theory, a legal ruling was passed so notaries will continue to advise that according to the ruling of the 16th October 2018 and applicable from Thursday 18th October 2018, it corresponds the banks to pay the tax. The shock attempt on Friday to reverse that sentence is a mere Memo but does not qualify as legislation until such a time the plenary session decides which ruling stands.

Some clients who were due to sign for mortgage loans at Notary that Tuesday postponed their appointments until the outcome of the court case was known but even though the ruling is now debatable, Stamp Duty in the Canary Islands for example is payable within 30 days of signing the deed (in other autonomous regions the deadline is 60 days) so I expect the banks will until the last moment before paying in case they can pass that expense back to the mortgage holder.

What we have here is a split decision within the Supreme Court itself with two very different rulings issued by two different chambers. My personal opinion? A matter of this magnitude should have been determined at a Plenary Session in the first place instead of allowing two chambers to pass a sentence on different cases which has allowed this gross conflict to occur. We’ll have to see what the outcome of the Session is and hopefully it will be in favour of the little guy to help put an end to what I call the Banks’ Reign of Tyranny.

The Perfect Disaster

Why trying to be perfect is a great way to fail – and how to avoid it.

The best is the enemy of success! What I mean by this is so many of us are so focused on the best that we take very little action towards our success. We are focused on the best place to eat, the best time to work out, the best way to lose weight, or the best way to make some extra money. We are focused so much on the best that we think too much about what we should or could be doing.

Focusing on a process toward success will prevent failure and accelerate your results. Take Travis in our office for example. He loves the gym and wants to get bigger and stronger. He can focus on the perfect diet, the best supplements, the best workouts, and the best technique. Or, he can eat healthy and get under the bar. The reps give him experience and strength. The results provide the momentum, and he finds himself spending more time in the gym and focusing more on diet and supplements. Now he has trouble fitting into his shirts. It all started with reps.

Dating is another good example. Typically, we need to kiss a few frogs to find our prince or princess. It does not come easy, but as we work through it, we start to learn what a good match looks like. We should start to get more confidence and our decisions become faster and better. Eventually, we hope, we find someone we are compatible with and live happily ever after.

Business or investing is no different. Obviously, we want to strive for quality, but quality will come with some thought-out quantity. Takes sales for example. If we just pick up the phone and start making calls, we will get better and better on the phone and will start closing more deals. The practice on the phone will produce better results than spending time finding the best phone script or the best people to call. With investing, we start taking steps to our goals. Maybe that is interviewing agents or sending out mail to motivated sellers. As we see results, we can adjust and improve. The fact that we are taking action, organically gets us closer to perfection.

So how do we avoid the perfection trap?

Goals are so incredibly powerful. A goal should be a tremendous help, but it can also hurt you. For new investors I love the idea of setting action-oriented goals. What I mean by this is to not focus on results, at least to start, and only focus on the small actions that should lead to results. As you hit your goals, you gain confidence and momentum. Let me give you an example. If you want to make $30,000 a month, you might start with how many deals you need to do to hit that goal. If you are a fix and flipper, it might be one deal. Then focus on how many offers you need to make to get one deal. Because we are in a tough market, we know that it might be 60 or more. Obviously, this is a bit of a guess until you can track it, but let’s start with 60 for this example. A great goal to help get you started would be to make 60 offers this month based on your buying criteria. The criteria being deals that should net $30,000. Focus on the fact that the goal is the number of offers, not the number of deals or the amount of money you want to make. That way, even if you don’t get a deal, you can, and should, celebrate the fact that you accomplished your goal. If you consistently hit action-oriented goals, you will see tremendous results.

I recently read a story about a college art professor that split his class in half at the beginning of the year to do a study on actions and results. One group was the quality group and one was the quantity group. The quantity group would be graded on the number of photographs turned in by the student. The quality group, as you can probably guess, was graded on only one photo for its quality. Guess which group turned in the best photos? The quantity group had more high-quality photos turned in because they were out practicing their skills trying to hit a quantity goal. Because they were not trying to take the one perfect photo, they ended up taking more action and better photos.

Disney in another great example. In the 80s the company had 3 CEOs and was not profitable. Then CEO, Michael Eisner, changed the way the company thought about the movie business. Instead of producing perfect movies, they went for quantity. In the late 80s and through the 90s they more than doubled the number of movies they were producing. They spent less time, money and energy on any one movie. The result? Blockbuster smash hits like; Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, and Lion King.

Reasons Some Rent, Instead Of Own

Although it is generally, considered, to be the American Dream, owning a home, of their own, is not, for everyone! Although studies indicate, in the longer – run, it is more cost – effective, to be an owner, than renter, there are certain individuals, who, it is often, not for. With that in mind, this article will attempt to briefly, consider, identify, and discuss, some of the items, which might make someone, a less, than stellar, candidate, for home ownership.

1. Down – payment: There might be several reasons, certain individuals, lack the necessary down – payment, needed, to put down, in order to purchase a house. Some lack the necessary discipline, while others might not have the financial necessities, or have experienced major obstacles (economic/ financial, etc), which have made it challenging, to put together the funds. Others are afraid, to proceed, because they lack the self – confidence, etc, which makes them, ready, willing, and able, to handle the stress, etc.

2. Reserves: In addition to having the needed, up – front, funds, there are many other financial obligations. and preparations, needed and necessary! Wise individuals put together, at least 6 to 9 months, equivalence, in case of any interruption in earnings, etc. In addition, there should be separate reserves, for initial changes, or modifications, most new homeowners, perform. Then, money should be put aside, for regular repairs, upgrades, modifications, renovations, and unforeseen issues.

3. How much do you want it?: Are you prepared for home ownership? When you rent, your landlord is responsible for necessary repairs and maintenance, but when you own, you not only have to pay for it, but be responsible for either, performing the task (if you are capable) yourself, or bringing in a professional, to take care of it. This includes: electricians; plumbers; painters; concrete workers/ masons, etc.

4. Confidence: Do you have the necessary degree of self – confidence, to trust yourself, and your abilities, to handle the stresses and tensions, involved, in owning, a home, of your own? If the stresses and tensions, are things, you don’t want to get involved in, and/ or, handle, then, owning a house, may not be, for you.

While I personally, enjoy owning my own home, it is not for everyone. One should seek, to better, know, what makes him happiest, most satisfied, and serves his personal self – interest, etc.

Choosing the Best Green Home Builder

Today many people are “going green”, which means that they are becoming environmentally friendly in how they live their lives and minimizing the harm done to the earth. When some people decide to build their home from the bottom up, they decide to have a green home builder build their home. This contractor would build their home with low environmental and energy efficiency in mind. To find a green home builder you should talk to the contractors in your area. Some that will travel to your area to build your home but their services will add more expense to the cost of your home.

To ensure that you will have the best green home builder ask them what type of building material they will use. You should also inquire about their disposal methods to make sure they are in compliant with sustainability practices. The materials that they should use are non-toxic when possible, and environmentally friendly. They should also be materials that come from renewable sources, or sustainable material. This can include materials from homes that have been knocked down. This material can include old doors, cabinets, some of the wood to accent the home such as using the material for ceiling beams, and more. They should try to avoid using plastics and choose their wood carefully. You should ask to see examples of the green projects they have completed. Their construction philosophy should focus on green building. It should not just focus on using green techniques as a secondary technique. Make sure that the contract you sign states that it will be constructed from sustainable and green material.

A home builder may tell you that they are using green building techniques but it could be easy for them to start using less environmentally friendly techniques and designs to save money on materials so they can put more money in their pockets. This is why you need to be sure that they are a reputable home builder and have good references as a green construction company. They need to be knowledgeable about green techniques and processes and committed to green construction and design. If you want your new green custom built home to be built using unconventional techniques make sure the home builder can demonstrate they understand the techniques you want and can do them correctly.

Before you choose a green home builder, you should educate yourself on what constitutes a green home and the process to build one. This will help you to determine a good green home builder and to know if they are cutting corners using non-environmentally friendly material. Having a green home can save you money on heating and cooling costs, and if sustainable material is used it can save these materials from being disposed of improperly.