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Is Real Estate Really the Best Investment?

Last decade’s housing bubble is becoming a distant memory. Mortgage rates are near historic lows, interest-only loans are back and everyone loves real estate as an investment again.

More than 1 in 4 Americans (27 percent) said real estate was the best investment for money they would not need for at least a decade, according to a new survey of 1,000 investors. Cash came in second with 23 percent of investors, only 17 percent said the stock market is their preferred place for long-term money and just 5 percent said they would put their long-term money in bonds.

It is the first time real estate has taken the top spot in the three years Bankrate has been conducting the survey. Cash was investors’ favorite in 2013 and 2014. “It begs the questions if more Americans are once again viewing real estate as a golden ticket,” said Greg McBride, chief financial analyst for Bankrate.

Credit is harder to come by than a decade ago and lenders face more regulations, but financial advisors say many clients are catching the real estate bug again.

“Justlast week,a high-tech corporate boomer client with no experience in renovating and selling real estate told us he wanted to go into flipping a property with his friend, who does this for a living,” said Jon Ulin, certified financial planner and managing principal of Ulin & Co. Wealth Management in Boca Raton, Florida. His client wanted to liquidate 25 percent of his IRA to invest in the project and told Ulin it would “diversify” his portfolio.

“I advised him that putting a quarter or more of his life savings into flipping and renovating one property with the hopes of making a possible 14 percent profit is not a good idea and a gamble,” Ulin said.

Real estate has curb appeal that other financial assets can’t match.

“For many investors, the tangible nature of real estate simply offers much more peace of mind than the intangible nature of stock and bonds,” said Stephen Doucette, a certified financial planner and vice president of Proctor Financial in Sherborn, Massachusetts. “Real estate pricing also adds peace of mind to investors as pricing seems more stable because it is not updated daily by the media.”

Investors should weigh the long-term return potential of real estate investing compared with other assets.

The S&P/Case-Shiller 20-City Composite Home Price Index, which measures the value of residential real estate in 20 major metropolitan areas, has generated a hearty annualized 9.2 percent return over the past three years through June 30, but produced an annualized 0.4 percent loss over the past decade. Meanwhile, the S&P 500 index, a broad measure of the U.S. stock market, grew an annualized 14.8 percent over the past three years and 5.87 percent over the past 10 years.

But investors with good credit can borrow to buy real estate, which can enhance returns—or magnify losses, depending on the market. “The singular and best reason to own real estate as an investment is to use leverage,” said Stephen Lovell, a certified financial planner in Walnut Creek, California. “Without it, your return on investment tends to be about 2 percent to 3 percent.”

Real estate also comes with different risks than other financial assets. You cannot sell it as quickly as stocks and bonds. You have to pay for insurance, maintenance and property taxes that can eat into your profits.

“You can’t sell real estate short so you cannot hedge against a down market and the market for real estate is too local,” warns Wes Shannon, a certified financial planner with SJK Financial Planning in Hurst, Texas. “You may live in a state or city going through an economic boom, but if the other houses on your street start to decline or convert to rentals you can see a depreciation of your [home] value … even one bad neighbor can ruin an investment in real estate.”

10 Top Real Estate Tips for 2015

The recovery has yet to arrive in many states, reinforcing the notion that real estate growth is regional. No one can accurately predict when this real estate uptick will end or how hard, or soft, a landing it will make. In the meantime, let proven fundamentals, applied with a few modern wrinkles, rule the day. Here are 10 tips for 2015 to help the real estate process.

1. Do sweat the small (cheap) stuff, sellers

Little touches go a long way in the buyer’s eye, starting logically with the entry. Trim bushes, wash walkways and change out trampled welcome mats. Inside, de-stink with candles and counter sprays, de-jam closets and de-clutter rooms, focusing keenly on kitchen counters. Hide scrub brushes and other fantasy-killing labor tools. Dust, wax, scrub toilets, wash windows, test and clean lights, put out fresh towels, winnow family mementos, harness or hide that avalanche of toys, remove prescription drugs from medicine cabinets and police the yard for “pet bombs.” It’s time well-spent.

2. Take note(s), buyers

In a whirlwind house-hunting tour of several properties, buyers benefit by keeping a pro-and-con checklist of each home they visit. Otherwise, the features of several homes tend to blend together in a tired brain by day’s end. Creating a rating scale of 1 to 10 also helps, as does carrying a checklist of specific features that you seek in an ideal home.

3. Sell by season

Though spring is optimal, home selling is a year-round sport. Use seasonal accents to make buyers linger longer.

Winter: Unfurl throw rugs and spotlight functional fireplaces. Near holidays, add touches like wreaths and pine-cone centerpieces. Display photos of your home a season ahead, particularly in winter, so buyers can see the house ensconced by greenery.

Spring: Fresh-cut flowers and candles bring spring scents indoors. For that new-start look, do extra spring cleaning and use brightly colored linens, spreads and pillows. Add little pops of color to the entry and landscape.

Summer: Highlight patios and other outdoor areas. Swap out dark towels and curtains for light colors. Put out a seasonal fruit basket or add hanging flowers. Keep the house cool but not cold.

Fall: Display pumpkins by the door and vases of fall foliage or tricolored corn inside. Use seasonal scents such as baked apple. Keep those leaves at bay.

4. Drill deeply

Buyers are regularly advised to scope out the block at varying hours, but why not drill down further to see if your potential new neighborhood is fading or flourishing?

  • Bad signs: A major local employer is struggling or moving away; adjacent neighborhoods are progressively turning into rentals; and a few too many for-sale homes are lingering on the market. Nearby commercial spaces remain persistently vacant.
  • Good signs: Schools are in high demand and well-rated. Young families and artsy types are moving in. Older couples are “aging in place” and nearby commercial properties are getting redeveloped and quickly leased. For-sale homes are generating multiple offers.

5. ‘Big data’ is everywhere, so tap in

While local knowledge and old-school networking will always be valuable, the latest technology lets agents offer much more. Some agencies offer “livability” ratings by ranking and contrasting neighborhoods by air quality, traffic choke points and specific data on a home’s energy efficiency. In 2013, the National Association of Realtors introduced its Predictive Analytics group. Banks already use “big data” to gauge the worth of foreclosures and short sales, and mobile apps now offer it for consumer and agent use. Ask agents if they offer this and other edgy technology such as high-definition aerial footage shot by drones. Should your grandiose home merit that, go big!

6. Transparency equals trust

Buyers will certainly enlist inspectors to twice-over your home, Mr. Seller. So instead of inviting disappointment, delay and distrust, go transparent with your own presale inspection. It’s far better to know now about issues with the plumbing, HVAC (heating, ventilating and air conditioning), foundation, electrical systems and roof. Provide the buyer a copy of the inspection along with repair receipts, and explain if or how you’ve adjusted your price accordingly. Buyers appreciate candor.

7. Math versus ego

Too often, buyers get caught up in win-at-all-costs negotiation. They’ll stubbornly let as little as a few grand lock them out of the right house. At an interest rate of 4.5 percent, the difference between paying $200,000 and $195,000 — assuming 1.25 percent property tax and 15 percent down — is only about $25 per month on a 30-year mortgage, or about the cost of lunch for two at a fast-casual eatery, before the tip. Don’t let that ruin your chances at your dream home.

8. Retain mineral rights

With so many giant natural-gas fields (shales) in play across the U.S. and new ones pending, homeowners should exercise “seller’s market” clout to retain mineral rights. While that intent needn’t even be mentioned in the sales contract in some states, it’s always safest to note it, provided the buyer doesn’t protest. Avoid that scenario by conveying those rights to a trustworthy relative or to an energy company buying them before putting the house on the block. “Mineral rights? Oh, so sorry, I no longer own them.”

9. Buying? Then cool it for a while

Refrain from making big capital purchases like a new car, opening new credit cards or amassing big chunks of other new debt before buying a home. These raise your debt-to-income ratio, which lenders examine to determine the mortgage amount you can afford. Also avoid moving large sums of money around, changing banks, changing jobs and becoming self-employed before buying a home.

10. The price is right

Trite, you say? Perhaps. But accurate home pricing from the outset never goes out of style because it sells homes. Some agents advise sellers to overprice because inventory is low. Others say go below market to spur a bidding war. Don’t get caught up in pricing games.

Activity in the first month of a listing is always the best, so don’t risk wasting it. Price too high, and scare off many buyers and agents. Price too low, and risk leaving dollars on the table. Hiring the right agent based on recommendations, response time, in-person interviews, track record and data support will yield that pricing expert you need.

10 Quick Facts About Property Investment

1. Leverage enables you to borrow other peoples money;
2. Compounding will let you maximise the benefits of borrowing other peoples money;
3. Historically the longer you hold onto a property the greater the capital appreciation, which is what makes you wealthy in the long-term;
4. Roughly around 10% of Australians own an investment property which is negatively geared;
5. New properties tend to have higher rates of depreciation compared to old properties;
6. Capital city areas continue to have growing populations and increased property demand;
7. Properties have grown by over 14 times since the 1970’s in Australia;
8. The interest component of mortgages on investment properties is tax deductible, which is why many people feel interest only loans are the best option for property investors;
9. Units and Houses have performed very closely over the last years in Australia;
10. Property near public transport tends to be in more demand compared to property far away.

4 Things to Know About Investing in International Real Estate

Real estate is a tricky game – you must become very knowledgeable about your target markets and your competitors in order to become successful. That’s true in North America, as well as anywhere else in the world.

But when you start to branch outside of the U.S. real estate market, that’s when things can really start to get complicated. The rules are different, and mistakes can be costly.

Here are a few things you need to know if you’re considering investing in international real estate.

You Need To Know What Stage Your Market Is In

There are roughly five stages to every emerging market. If you don’t know what stage that market is in, you could get taken to the cleaners. The first stage is usually reserved for locals only. This means that locals are using the land for their own purpose, like agriculture and business.

An outside party can bring that land to the second stage, which means that large swatches of land are bought for the purpose of developing them at a later date (or hanging onto them indefinitely).

These large swatches are eventually broken up into smaller parcels, becoming further developed and moving into stage three of the real estate market stages. These parcels can become small enough that homebuyers can actually come in and purchase, as well as speculators.

The land switches to a mainstream homebuyer market in stage four when restaurants, hotels, and other consumer-driven developments arrive. This then becomes a full-fledged city at stage five, with all the infrastructure and civil services that come with it.

Each stage has its own advantages and challenges. For the risk-averse, the early stages are the most risky – but do provide the highest beta. This means that with a higher risk, comes a higher reward.

You Must Have A Plan

Without a plan, you’ll never have a clear vision of what to do with your new investment. Knowing if you are planning on renting the house, living in it, or just holding onto the property until property values rise are important questions to ask yourself before diving into real estate.

You Won’t Get Rich Quick

Real estate investing is a long-term investment. There’s no way around that – while people in distinct markets may have sped up this timeline, the fact of the matter is that real estate is hard work, and may not pay off in the end if you don’t do your research beforehand.

You Must Study Up

Becoming a successful international real estate investor means knowing everything you possibly can about the situation you are putting yourself in: the local market, the neighborhood, and even the property itself. If you don’t know what your cash flows will be, like how long it usually takes to rent a property in your market, you may have too much overhead to cover each month. Know before you buy!

Final Tips

As a final word of wisdom, becoming a real estate tycoon is hard work, and isn’t for everyone. If you take on something that is a little too far over your head, you run the risk of damaging your livelihood, your family, and your future. Know yourself before buying any property, and understand the risks and time commitment involved.

8 Tips Selling a Luxury Home

Selling a home is not the easiest of tasks but it also doesn’t have to be as hard as figuring out the rubrics cube!  The level of difficulty does increase though when selling a luxury home.  With the increasing level of difficulty comes an increased level of expertise that is required to sell a luxury home.

Many real estate agents don’t have a clue when it comes to selling luxury homes.  The same can be said for the owners of a luxury home.  It is important that the proper steps are taken to ensure the home is sold in a timely fashion and for a fair, market value price!

Here are several tips for selling luxury homes that are helpful for any real estate agent or homeowner.

Is The Price Right?
Pricing a home correctly, from the beginning, is extremely important whether selling a $100,000 home or a 1.5 million dollar luxury home!  A common real estate pricing mistake that is made is hiring the real estate agent who suggests the highest price and in the luxury home market, this can be a huge mistake.  It’s extremely important that a luxury home is priced competitively or aggressively from the beginning to attract buyers from the beginning.  It is more common for a luxury home to sit on the market for longer than a lower priced home, however, a luxury home does not have to sit on the market if priced properly from the beginning!

To ensure the price is right, an in-depth comparative market analysis, must be completed on a luxury home in order to determine a competitive or aggressive price.  A real estate agent should spend several hours massaging the data, touring other comparable luxury homes currently for sale, and calling other real estate brokers who have recently sold comparable properties to the subject home.  Often times there are homes that are extremely similar to others in certain neighborhoods.  It is rare to find a luxury home that is identical to another, so knowing every amenity a luxury home has is crucial when determining the price!

How Will The Luxury Home Be Marketed?
The price a home enters the market at does a fair amount of the marketing in itself, however, there are other marketing tools that should be used when selling a luxury home.

Print advertising and direct mailing should still be apart of any real estate agents marketing plan/system.  The internet, however, has significantly changed how consumers shop.  This is no different in the real estate industry!  It is extremely important that a real estate agent who is selling a luxury home, is utilizing the internet.  It’s important that a real estate agent has their own website and/or blog and that it is mobile responsive as well.  Many home buyers are shopping on their tablets and mobile devices.

When selling a luxury home, it’s important that a real estate agent uses social media.  Social media is an extremely important marketing tool for real estate agents that can help give their clients maximum exposure!  It is a marketing tool that most real estate agents don’t utilize and/or understand.  Ask yourself, what percentage of people in the market to buy or sell a home have a Facebook Page, Twitter Handle, or Pinterest Account?  95%+?  By not marketing a luxury home for sale on social media, a real estate agent is doing their client a huge disservice!

When selecting a real estate agent to sell a luxury home, it’s critical to know where the luxury home will be marketed, how it will be marketed, and how frequently it will be marketed.  When selling a luxury home, a real estate agent must have a comprehensive marketing plan/system and cannot list a luxury home, wait and hope it sells.  These type of real estate agents are also known as a “post and pray Realtor.”

High Quality Photos and Videos are Important When Selling a Luxury Home

What Will The Quality Of The Photographs/Videos/Virtual Tours Be?
Most have heard the saying, “quality over quantity.”  This relates perfectly to the quality of photographs and videos of a luxury home for sale.  With over 90% of buyers beginning their home search online, it’s critical the photographs and videos of a luxury home are outstanding and nothing but the best!

Every real estate agent will offer to take photos of a home, but it shouldn’t be as easy as just leisurely taking photos.  When selling a luxury home, if the real estate agent is not having a professional photographer take photos of the home, they better have some great equipment.  Top real estate agents who choose to take their own photographs of their luxury home listings must have experience and also high end equipment such as a wide angle lens.  When taking photos of a luxury home a few things that need to be considered are, is the lighting right for the photos, are the amenities being photographed, and is the exquisite location being highlighted.

A picture may be worth a 1,000 words, how much is a video or virtual tour worth?  A billion?  When selling a luxury home, a professionally created video or virtual tour can be the difference of whether or not the luxury home sells.  Most local MLS’s have a limit to the number of photos that can be placed on-line, but allow a location where a video tour or “virtual tour” can be placed.  Many luxury homes are much larger than 25 photos can showcase and also much more glamorous than 25 photos can showcase, so video is a great way to allow potential buyers the ability to “walk-through” the luxury home in the comfort of their present home.

Is It The Right Time To Sell?
When selling a luxury home, timing plays a larger role than when selling non-luxury home.  For instance, if a waterfront luxury home is being sold in Rochester, NY, it’s important to select the correct time of year to sell.  Selling a home in the middle of the cold, blustery winter would not be a good time to showcase the waterfront!  The same can be said for a luxury waterfront home in Jupiter, FL, selling a home during hurricane season may not be the best time to list a luxury home for sale.

Will There Be Any Open Houses?
A very popular question many home owners have for real estate agents is, are you going to have an open house?  There is much debate whether public open houses help sell homes or not.  When it comes to luxury homes, public open houses do not help sell homes.  When it comes to selling a luxury home, public open houses often bring in people just interested in seeing how the “rich and famous” live.  There is absolutely no way to determine whether the people coming through the open house are qualified to purchase the luxury home or not!

While public open houses do not help sell luxury homes, broker open houses can be helpful.  A broker open, which is an open house for local real estate professionals, allows real estate agents who have buyer prospects looking for luxury homes to view possible matches.  A broker open is much more successful if the real estate agents who sell luxury homes locally are able to attend, as they have the greatest probability of having a client for the home!

Are The Location & Lifestyle Being Portrayed Correctly?
Luxury homes are often luxurious because of their location and lifestyle.  If a luxury home is part of a development which includes a clubhouse or yacht club privileges, it is important they are being showcased in the listing information.  This is another reason why utilizing video or virtual tour when selling a luxury home is a great marketing tool as it is a very good way to present a homes location as well as the lifestyle.

When buying a luxury home, the prospective purchasers will often want to know who else is living in the general vicinity of the home.  It’s important to know or find out who else lives in the area and ensure this information is available to real estate agents who are showing the home.

Staging with a Purpose Helps Sell Luxury Homes

Will Any Staging Be Done?
Staging does not sell homes but it certainly can help!  There are many sellers who believe that by hiring a real estate agent who has a staging designation, their home will sell because their home has been staged.  This is wrong.  Obtaining a designation for staging doesn’t necessarily mean they are a great real estate agent.

When selling a luxury home, staging will help maximize price and minimize time on the market.  When staging a luxury home, it is important that the amenities which make the home luxurious are being showcased.  If there is an outdoor BBQ, is it staged so that potential buyers can envision their summertime gatherings?  A luxury home with an over-sized formal dining room should have elegant place settings with fine china at each place setting to help a buyer envision what their fine dining parties may look like.

Can You Be Patient?
One of the biggest things that a seller needs to consider when selling a luxury home, patience is a must!  Selling a luxury home will normally take longer than a non-luxury home.

One major reason that luxury homes take longer to sell than non-luxury homes is the number of possible buyers available to purchase the home.  Face it, there are many buyers who can afford a $150,000 home entering the market on a daily basis.  There aren’t many buyers who can afford a 1.5 million dollar home entering the market on a daily basis.  For this reason alone, it’s important to be patient and understand that if the above tips are being practiced, a buyer will surface!

For example, in Monroe County, New York, there have been a total of 58 sold properties in the +/- of $500,000 price range in the past 12 months versus 891 sold properties in the +/- of $100,000 price range in the past 12 months.  The average days on the market for the $500,000 homes was 73 and the average days on the market for the $100,000 homes was 39.  As the statistics prove, in the Rochester, NY luxury home market there are less buyers in the marketplace than there are in the Rochester, NY non-luxury home market.

Why selling your house to a real estate agents in Central Valley is good?

If ever in life we wished to live in a place that has pleasant surroundings flooded with huge amount of flora and fauna, then Central valley could be one of the places to consider. Central Valley is an amazing place to live which will give you an experience of a lifetime. Along with green fields all over, it has huge mountains on one side and crystal clear water flowing on other side, which looks amazing.

Now, who does not desire to live at such a place that hardly have any flaws. To own a house at such place will give anybody an immense joy, as almost every person would want to own a home at such wonderful place. While there are many people who wish to own a house at Central Valley, there are many other who wishes to sell their houses. Sometimes, it is quite easy to sell a house in this valley by posting an ad to sell house in a newspaper or by the signs that are usually posted on the road corner saying ” We buy homes in Central valley”.

No doubt, these ways to sell a house are quite effective and people do buy homes looking at these postings, but they are not always a safe option. Some of them might not have some legal issue that will put you in trouble later on. The best and safe way to sell your house is through a property dealer, which is a better option to do so.

Selling a house can be a trouble sometimes because it is not always easy to get a buyer. In fact, there are chances that you have to sell your house at a very low price than it actually costs. Instead of getting into such a trouble, it is better to sell your property to a real estate agent who is near o your house. Now, you might be thinking that why sell it to the nearest available real estate agent? The reason behind selling it to the nearest available agent is that they know the best about the property. Chances are higher that they buy your property as soon as you want to sell it.
As selling house is not an easy task, especially when there are hardly any buyers, then it is best to consult a property purchaser to save your precious time. When you really have the urgency to sell a house, it becomes essential to choose the nearest available real estate agent and avoid searching for the best in the market. Wandering to search the best will cost a lot of time and money besides stressing you with a lot of paperwork that you might not want.

So, the next time you wish to sell your house, then you must  properly research agents, go to their office, and check yourself how they actually work. If you want to sell on an urgent basis, it is advisable to pick the nearest of the real estate agent to save time and money.

Can I Claim the Sale of an Inherited Property as a Loss?

The day the owner dies sets the basis of the property.

When you buy real estate, your purchase price becomes what the Internal Revenue Service calls your basis. When you sell, your capital gain or loss is the difference between the basis and the sale price, plus some adjustments. The rules are different for selling inherited property, as you don’t have a purchase price. Depending on the circumstances, you may have a deductible loss from the sale.

Inherited Property Basis

  • Your basis in inherited property is the fair market value the day the previous owner died. For example, suppose your father bought his home for $150,000, but it was worth $250,000 on the day he died. The second figure is your basis: If you sell for $200,000, you have a $50,000 loss rather than a $50,000 gain. Normally you class gains and losses as short term or long term, depending how long you’ve held the property. With an inherited property, you always class the gain or loss as long term.

Use of Property

  • You can deduct losses on the sale of investment property but never on personal property. For example, if you inherit a business or rental property and then sell it, you may be able to deduct a capital loss. You can also deduct a loss on a residential property if you inherit it but never made personal use of it. If, after inheriting, you and your family moved into the home and lived there, you don’t get to write off any losses when you sell.

Deducting a Loss

  • You report capital gains and losses on IRS Schedule D. If you have a deductible loss on the sale of inherited property, you add it to your other long-term gains and losses for the year. You add that result to your total short-term gain or loss. If the final result on Schedule D is a loss, you can write off up to $3,000 of red ink against your non-capital gains income. For married couples filing jointly, the write-off is only $1,500.

Carrying Over Losses

  • Suppose you sell an inherited property at a $10,000 loss and have no other capital sales. After you deduct $3,000 against your regular income, you have to carry the rest of the loss forward to next year. You can deduct $3,000 over and over until the loss is used up. If you have capital losses in future years, you use them up first. For example, suppose you carry forward $7,000 and have a $1,000 capital loss next year. You can also write off $2,000 of the carried amount. The remaining $5,000 goes forward another year. IRS Publication 544 has the details on calculating carry overs.

How to Obtain a Real Estate License in Wisconsin

Purchasing a new home or parcel of real estate involves complex transactions and careful considerations. Real estate salespersons and brokers help make the process less complicated and easier to understand. In Wisconsin, real estate agents and brokers must be licensed through the Department or Regulation and Licensing. The process involves learning about the nuances and intricacies of real estate transactions, passing an examination and paying a licensing fee.


  1. Determine which type of real estate license you wish to pursue. Wisconsin offers licenses for brokers and salespersons. A broker may manage his or her own business. A salesperson must work with a licensed broker. Brokers must undergo additional training than that required of a salesperson.
  2. Meet the education requirements set forth by the Wisconsin Department of Regulation and Licensing (WDRL). Specifically, you must complete one of the following: a 72-hour salesperson course from an approved educational program, 10 semester hours from an accredited college or university in courses that specialize in real estate or real estate law, or belong to the Wisconsin State Bar.
  3. Complete the educational requirements necessary for a broker if you intend to be a broker. In addition to the basic education requirements, you must complete either a 36-hour broker course from an approved education program or an additional 10 semester hours from an accredited college or university in courses that specialize in real estate or real estate law. If you belong to the Wisconsin State Bar, you need not meet this additional requirement.
  4. Pass the Wisconsin real estate examination. Sales persons need only pass the examination designated for a real estate license in sales. Brokers must pass both the sales examination and the broker’s examination. Sign up for an examination by contacting PearsonVue.
  5. Fill out the “Application for New Salesperson or Broker License” form. Include the license fee ($75 as of 2010 for an initial license). Obtain the form from the WDRL website. Additionally, sales persons must also be employed by a licensed broker in order to become licensed. If the sales person fills out the application before becoming employed, the sales person must file a “Notice of Real Estate Employment Form” when he or she becomes employed by a broker.

Different Services Offered by Real Estate Agents Sunshine Coast Firms

Deals in properties have become a cumbersome task which needs professional help for most of the time. Although, land trades can be made on own but it gives a tough time for a long period. Queensland of Australia is one of the most populous states where most of the inhabitants live near the coastal area. Sunshine coast is such a metropolitan area which features best real estate locations. Moreover, this area houses some of the best tourist spots that make it a center of attraction.

People seeking Sunshine coast real estate agents feel perplexed when it comes to pick the right one. However, it’s not extremely difficult to find a reliable one either. For credentials, an agent must have a license and minimum required exposure in real estate businesses. A popular myth which circulates that only a highly experienced person must be sought for the job is untrue. Agents with proper familiarity of those businesses are better than those who have spent years without having any competent knowledge.

Services offered by Real Estate Agents

The following describes about some of the services provided by real estate agents Sunshine coast firms:-

Guide: Their primary task is to guide the clients regarding different properties for sale within the location for buyers or investors. Similarly, they help sellers with strategies to sell their property on satisfactory deals. Other than that, their role also includes suggesting tenants regarding rental homes and developers for lands.

Advise: Agents keep track on the different properties within the aforesaid areas and keep their listings. They conduct comparative market analysis so as to provide with effective recommendations regarding those deals. It may include price estimation, current trends and several other factors.

Calculate: Job responsibilities of a real estate agents Sunshine coast include calculation of mortgage, finances and credit capacities. Their evaluation with respect to different aspects of the deals makes it helpful for the client. Further, they also give ideas on loan values.

Alert: Since they are well informed about the recent updates of properties and frequently keep a tab on them, it is useful to the clients who like to invest early. In the same way, they offer current market advice and subsequently the future status of those properties.

Market: Sellers may sometime find it difficult in marketing their land or property assets. Thus, the Sunshine coast real estate agents give out advertisements and listings along with attempts via different mediums to reach out for most people who need to buy them.

Maintain: Some firms also provide services regarding the repair and maintenance of building assets. They also keep visiting them at regular intervals to check the status in case of tenancy.

Inspect: They are knowledgeable enough to assess the properties by visiting those sites personally. Also, studying about the entire area, they help find a conclusive decision regarding them.

Other than the above, those agents also offer services of appraisals, financial references, selling tips and so on. They negotiate for deals, prepare the agreements and overlook at fund disbursements too.

Tax Deductions for Investment Property

Window displaying a for rent sign.
Buying and maintaining investment properties is an expensive business. Real estate investors, namely landlords, can increase their profits from rental property by taking advantage of the many tax breaks available. Owners can deduct all or part of the cost of owning single-family or multi-family rentals. Investors should consult with a tax professional to determine how exactly each tax deduction applies to them.

Deducting Mortgage Interest

  • Mortgage interest is one of the largest and most consistent tax deductions for rental property owners. Loans for non-owner occupied homes tend to have higher interest rates than mortgages for primary residences. Because more of your monthly payment goes toward interest in the first several years of a mortgage, your deduction will shrink as you pay off the loan. You can also deduct interest on second mortgages used to improve or repair rental real estate.

Depreciating Rentals

  • You can’t simply write off the purchase price of a rental property in the year you buy it. Instead, you deduct a portion of the expense of buying an investment property over several years. You recover the cost of acquiring a rental home through a method known as depreciation. Depreciation, or the decrease in your rental home’s value which occurs over its useful life due to wear and tear, only applies to the structure itself because the land it sits on doesn’t depreciate.

Repairs to Your Rental

  • Tenants turn to their landlords when a rental needs repairs. You can deduct the cost of ordinary, necessary and reasonable repairs you made to restore the home’s condition. However, components that you replace, rather than fix, usually aren’t deductible. Replacing or upgrading items in your rental property usually constitutes an “improvement,” which makes the home better, instead of simply restoring it.

Costs to Travel

  • Depending on how involved you are in your rental’s day-to-day management activities, you likely spend money going to and from your property. You can deduct the cost of travel for your landlord activities. Amounts you spend to repair, fuel and maintain the vehicle you use to perform your landlord tasks, and hotel, airfare and meal expenses when traveling overnight, are deductible. You can use a standard mileage rate if you choose not to deduct actual vehicle expenses and meet certain other requirements. As of 2014, landlords could deduct 56 cents per mile driven.

Payment for Professional Services

  • You can deduct wages for property managers and independent contractors who provide services for your rental property. The deduction applies to employee wages, labor costs and commissions or fees for professionals such as real estate brokers, attorneys and accountants.

Deducting Due to Loss

  • You can deduct losses if your investment property is damaged or destroyed. You can also deduct insurance premiums, such as homeowners or landlord insurance. You usually can’t deduct the entire cost of property damage, although you can deduct a portion based on the extent of your losses and the amount covered by insurance. Homeowners insurance covers fires, theft, vandalism and other perils to your rental property’s structure. Landlord coverage can also reimburse losses to personal property and provide certain liability coverage.

How to Recognize Property Investment Scams

Real estate has long been a solid way to make money, but that doesn’t mean every property investment is good idea or even legitimate. There are con artists at every turn who would like to scam you out of your money, leaving you poorer but wiser. Here’s how to recognize property investment scams.


  1. Know you’re vulnerable. Experts say the people most likely to be the victims of property investment scams are financially astute. Con artists know that they need to start with someone who is open to investing instead of being more conservative with money. Be careful not to be overconfident, since scammers can set up elaborate schemes that can fool even the best.
  2. Remember the old adage, “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.” Be skeptical on promises of high, fast returns. Nothing of that nature comes without high risk, so consider what you can afford to lose. Be wary of email or infomercial offers, since they are favorite delivery methods for people who traffic in property investment scams.
  3. Check everything out. You can often recognize property investment scams just by doing your homework. Look into the company making the offer, and find out their history, record and background. Figure out who the directors are and look into their background. Let an accountant or financial advisor look over the paperwork, and then have a lawyer read everything before you sign.
  4. Understand how you will make your money. The more complicated the deal, the more important it is to look into the exact way your investment will create a return. Investigate any tax laws, especially in overseas countries, that backers are relying on to bring you money. Be sure the offshore investment is legal.
  5. Ignore pressure. One sign of a property investment scam is when backers are in a great hurry for you to sign. Hurrying only increases your risk of being a victim and losing a substantial amount of money.
  6. Watch for affinity fraud. That’s the name for how con artists use your religion or race and purport themselves to be “like you.” Once they have your trust, they can work their property investment scams.
  7. Keep up your vigilance. Even if you start seeing the promised return on your investment, don’t assume that all is well. Some con artists pull off property investment scams by paying out money for a time, then disappearing when they have a certain number of victims.

How to Show Investments on a Balance Sheet

Investments on a balance sheet may be short-term or long-term.

The balance sheet is a financial statement that reflects a company’s assets, liabilities and equity for the financial year. Short and long-term investments are typically comprised of real estate, stocks, bonds, and investments made towards a company’s subsidiaries or affiliate companies. These balances are reflected in a specific section on the balance sheet. Here’s how to show these investments accurately on the balance sheet reporting schedule.


  1. Calculate both the at cost and market value of stocks purchased in the financial year. The lower of the two will be reported in the short-term investment section if the company plans to sell the stocks within the upcoming year and reported under the Current Assets section. If the company plans on holding onto the stock for more than a year, the stock value will be reported as a long-term investment under the Fixed Assets section in the left hand column of the balance sheet.
  2. Calculate both the at cost and market value of bonds purchased by the company. The lower of the two will be reported in the short-term investment section if the company plans to hold the bonds for less than a year, and in the long-term investment section if the company plans to hold the bonds for longer than a year. These will be reported under the Current Assets if they are short-term investments, and Fixed Assets section if they are long-term investments.
  3. Calculate both the at cost and market value of real estate purchased in the financial year. The lower of the two will typically be reported in the long-term investment section of the balance sheet. Real estate investments can be reported under the Current Assets if they are short-term investments, and Fixed Assets section if they are long-term investments.
  4. Determine the value of investments made towards the company’s affiliate accounts. These can be company affiliations or partnership agreements where the company has invested stock or cash into certain projects. These are typically short-term investments which are then reported under the Current Assets section.
  5. Determine the value of stock invested in subsidiary companies. These stock investments are typically long-term investments and are reported under the Fixed Assets section.

How to Find Foreign Investors

Turn trade shows into opportunities to meet foreign investors.
There may be plenty of reasons to expand beyond the comfort zone of home when starting a new company or seeking investors to help fund your project. For starters, your country may not offer the kinds of investors you are looking for, necessitating the need for a more widespread international search. Additionally, going global helps you tap into the capital, technology and talent that at one time only large companies could access.

Multinational Companies

  • Approaching existing foreign or multinational companies with a view to forming joint ventures, subsidiaries or strategic alliances may be one way to reach into the foreign investor pool. Any quest to find investors this way involves finding the right contact person by researching who is in charge of business growth or strategic partnerships. You also should take care to address the potential gains and pitfalls of investing through the foreign investor’s eyes. In this vein, the business plan you present to foreign stakeholders should discuss capital budgeting decisions adjusted for political and economic risk; cross-border cash flow optimization; and tax and transaction cost reduction policies.

Trade Fairs and Conferences

  • Instead of taking a scattershot approach to finding a foreign investor, go where the prospects are. Major international trade fairs in your field bring potential foreign investors to a centralized location. International trade show directories such as Expo Database help you zoom in on specific industries, countries and cities. For example, the commercial real estate company Stewart Title Guaranty Company suggests Expo Real and Le Marché International des Professionnels de l’Immobilier as venues for real estate professionals interested in meeting foreign investors.

Investor Databases

  • Foreign investors come in all forms, from private equity and venture capital firms to angel investors. Narrowing down a set of foreign investors that are appropriate for you can be challenging without some sort of information management system to crunch the numbers. On the venture capital website VCGate, you can specify potential investors not only by country of origin, but by investor type, stage of investment funded, amount of funding sought and preferred sectors. Another database connecting startups to investors worldwide is, which lists investors by industry, location and investor type.

Visa Programs

  • Just when some start-ups throw in the towel on finding a foreign investor because the latter have too strenuous criteria, others are learning about the benefits of programs that are tied to the investor acquiring a visa. For example, with the EB-5 program sponsored by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, entrepreneurs get to access foreign investors in exchange for the latter obtaining a green card. Entrepreneurs work with third-party intermediaries in securing EB-5 funding. However, entrepreneurs should be prepared to put up a lot of money upfront in administrative and travel expenses, and endure long wait times.

Real Estate Property Agent Singapore

With more than 5 years of experience in the real estate industry, Bernie serves both a local and an international client base.

Hardworking and astute to the changes in the real estate market, he is able to advise his clients accurately and profitably, be it timing the market to sell or to make price readjustments.

Other than assisting his clients in buying and selling properties in Singapore, Bernie is also experienced in providing housing solutions for professional expats and assisting them ease into the Singaporean culture and way of life. Having backpack-travelled around the world for 3 years, Bernie is very able to empathize with and understand the needs of clients who are relocating to Singapore for the first time.

Bernie also speaks the Japanese language.

He is a powerful negotiator, being able to do his best for his clients, usually surpassing their expectations of him. He goes beyond the duty of real estate agents by researching the market on behalf of his clients, and once even hired a van (and drove)!!! to personally help a client move-house simply because he promised to assist. Little did that client expect Bernie’s promise of ‘assistance’ to be in such an involved way. Needless to say, such from-the-heart service has won him rave reviews and made many such clients into good friends who continually refer business to him years after their initial encounter, or simply call him up for dinner.

Bernie believes that in business, as in life, we should give our 100% or nothing at all. Above all, he believes that we should have integrity in all business transactions, treating our clients as we would like to be treated.

Bernie is currently with ERA Realty Network, the only real estate company in Singapore that operates from its own buildings as well as being listed on the Singapore Stock Exchange (SGX) under its parent company, Hersing Corporation.

Within 1 year of initially being with ERA Realty Network, Bernie was already inducted as a member of the prestigious Million Dollar Club for being a producer in the industry.

Bernie is a specialist on all types of residential as well as commercial properties in districts:

* 1 (City, Marina area, CDB),
* 4 (Sentosa Island),
* 9 (Orchard Road and surrounding),
* 10 (Balmoral, River Valley, Holland Road),
* 11 (Newton, Novena, Bukit Timah),
* 15 (East Coast, Katong)

That said, he also welcomes all enquiries and offering assistance on properties in other districts of Singapore as he heads a team of dedicated real estate agents who handles properties in all other areas of Singapore.

Together, Bernie and team handles:

* New Project Launches
* Condominiums
* Landed properties (Terrace houses, Semi-Detached, Bungalows)
* Land for rebuilding
* Commercial properties
* Industrial space
* Worker housing

Feel free to get in touch with Bernie at his mobile during business hours.

Below are 3 testimonials for Bernie:

Rick Aston:

Actually for several months, I have been coming to Singapore on business trips…with various agents looking for properties. We were under a time constraint to find a place… I was starting to get frustrated with the other agents. They weren’t really listening to what we were looking for as a family. He found this place that no other agent was even aware of nor prepared to show us. He got us a great place… we’ve been very happy here and it (the home) suited the whole family. So he definitely delivered.

When we finally found it (the property), we actually went through quite a process of negotiation which Bernie helped out very much with.

After we signed the contract and moved in, Bernie helped with the repairs and/or general upkeep.

And then we just stayed in touch actually, just to discuss the general property market.

We’d recommend him and we have recommended him to friends. So definitely (happy). (Bernie is) Very good. (A) very good agent!

Susan Lau:

I asked for the electricity and water to be cut off (utilities). If I leave it on and sometimes when they go viewing (the property) and if they forget to switch it off, the bill might go sky-high. So I was afraid of that. But then he (Bernie) assured me to just leave it for 2 weeks, because someone might want to see (the property) at night, so I might miss the chance of (selling the property). Because of that, I gave him 2 weeks to see what were the results.
He was able to produce results in less than two weeks! I feel very relieved and very happy that I can have the entire episode closed up, because it has been dragging (for 4 months before Bernie assisted in the marketing of the property) and I became so tired of it (the selling process).

In fact, they (the buyers) gave me a certain amount (price to purchase) but Bernie said he will try to get some more (better price). He (successfully) did that.

Bernie is a very effective agent, has the human touch, and (is) humourous.

I am very very satisfied (with Bernie and his services).

Doreen Tan:

(Once) I told him (Bernie) that I have tried (for) quite some time to acquire my neighbour’s land… but it wasn’t successful. So, he put in effort to locate the owner(s) to approach the owner(s) a few times (to eventually convince them to sell the property), and to negotiate a very reasonable price for me and also for the owners(s). So we’re very happy.

He really goes the extra mile to do research and to understand more of what his clients want.

I am very happy (with Bernie) because he is not a pushy person (agent). When he sees the house and feels that this is not what I want, he will not ask me to spend time to go and have a look. That is what I appreciate (of him). He knows very well what his clients want. And he knows what I want.

And he will follow up and ask ‘How are you’. (Regarding) His service, I should say is EXCELLENT.

He will do (continous) research for the whole market (property), Asian and also the whole world’s market (in general). He will give his ideas (views) to keep us updated (clients) on what is happening in the property market. I don’t think there are many property agents (who are) willing to do extra work, extra research for his or her clients.

I did recommend someone to Bernie, and that is my partner, Dora.

I am very, very satisfied with his (Bernie’s) service.

Now I am building my dream house. ‘Thank you’ to Bernie!


Marketing Tips for Real Estate Agents

Real estate agents use diverse marketing plans to find their clients.

Real estate agents rely on a combination of word-of-mouth referrals and referrals gained from other marketing techniques. Keep in mind that a diversified marketing strategy is the best formula for successful sales. With various marketing techniques, you will be able to devote a specific amount of time each week to networking. Use most of your time for helping clients to complete their real estate transaction.

Community Publications

  • A traditional way to market your services involves publishing a business card in community publications. Contact local churches, schools and community organizations about their rates for advertising. They have regular newsletters and bulletins for their members. Target publications with members who live or work near your home base, such as in your section of a city or county. List your business card in publications with the highest number of readers for the business card fee. You can also sign up for listing your contact information on websites for these organizations. Sometimes web listings are free.

National Association of Realtors

  • Beef up your marketing campaign through membership in the National Association of REALTORS. With a REALTOR credential, you get access to marketing tools for new and established agents. For example, offers a startup kit for new professionals in its online library. You can also get a mentor inside the association to advise you on a personal marketing plan. REALTORS may use the trademarked designation in print and online media, which provides instant recognition among many consumers.

Social Networking

  • You can also use social networking as free online marketing. An article featured on the Chicago Association of REALTORS’ website cautions using social networking sites. Keep your own Facebook or other social networking account separate from your business account. Use each site’s privacy settings so no one can find your personal information without your knowledge. On a business profile, post helpful information for prospective clients, such as market trends and investment opportunities. When clients network with you online, they can exchange information using a site’s features. Diligently follow up on each customer contact in order to maximize the effects of social networking sites.


  • For door-to-door campaigns, visit neighborhoods where you are likely to find clients. First, hire a printing company to produce door-hangers with your photo and contact information. You might choose a high-quality style with multi-color printing. You can quickly work your way through a neighborhood on foot or using a vehicle. Beware of dogs and no soliciting signs before approaching a home and hanging a door-hanger.

How to Become a Real Estate Virtual Assistant

Virtual positions have become increasingly popular, especially in real estate. Realtors and brokers have busy schedules and are often unable to keep up with the high demand on their own. You can become a real estate virtual assistant using the following suggestions.


  1. Take a real estate assistant’s course and become certified. Visit the International Real Estate Assistants Association website for information on the certification process. This course teaches potential assistants how to use the tools and technologies used by real estate professionals.
  2. Determine whether you want to work as a contractor or an employee. If you want to work independently, you need to come up with a name for your business.
  3. Look for ads for virtual assistants. Work-at-home forums are good places to start. You’ll often find a folder specifically for virtual real estate assistants. Online employment sites, such as Craigslist and Careerbuilder, allow you to look for jobs by category and geographic location.
  4. Build a website for your services to give you a place to direct your prospective clients to and to create a more professional appearance.
  5. Create flyers and a brief letter explaining your services. Outline the benefits of having a virtual real estate assistant. Include your contact information, so prospective clients can contact you.
  6. Mail a flyer and a copy of the letter to real estate offices, brokers and individual realtors in your area. Remain positive. There’s a great demand for virtual real estate assistants. If you don’t receive positive results at first, continue applying.

How to Pass the Real Estate Broker’s Exam

Real estate brokers must gain experience as sales agents before taking the license exam.
Real estate brokers act somewhat behind the scenes in the field of real estate. The job of a broker is to locate sellers ready to sell property and buyers looking to purchase. Many real estate brokers are self-employed and own their own businesses. Individuals interested in a career as a real estate broker typically start in real estate sales and work their way up. All 50 states require brokers to be licensed — and to become licensed, you will need to pass an exam.


  1. Ensure that you meet the requirements before taking the test. All states require one to three years of experience in real estate sales before an individual may take the exam to earn a license. Some states also require evidence of a set number of hours of professional real estate coursework.
  2. Check which test you need to take before you begin studying. This depends on which state you wish to be licensed in. If you want to be licensed in multiple states, you may need to take more than one test.
  3. Study for the real estate broker’s exam. The best way to do this is to purchase a study book for the test. Familiarize yourself with all the information that will be on the exam, such as federal and state real estate laws and ethical conduct guidelines. Work on sample questions and take full-length practice tests. Grade yourself based on the rubrics of the actual exam and keep studying until you feel prepared to take the test.
  4. Register for and take the exam. Be sure to get a good night’s sleep followed by a healthy breakfast before sitting the exam. Try not to cram for the exam the night before, though some last-minute review may help in your preparations.

Study Tips for Passing a Real Estate Exam

Real estate agents often make their own schedules and work off commission.
Studying for the real estate exam and getting ready for the days building up to the test can require a significant amount of preparation. However, most agents pass the test in the first try, and if you do not pass, you can always take it again. The key to this is learning proper study skills prior to taking the test and being in top shape on test day. Get ahead of the pack by being proactive, expressing discipline and relaxing rather than stressing out about it and cramming the night before.

Use the Right Resources

  • Focusing on resources designed to pass the real estate test will set a solid study foundation. It is also important to note that test questions vary from state to state, and tests change; therefore, training books and resources change as well, so make sure you have the most current study materials. Always check training book dates, and look for current study guides. If you come across confusing material, it is also a good idea to ask questions of an agent who has passed the test in recent months.

Complete School Work

  • As soon as the real estate course or program begins, start studying the material. Purchase current books and study them from cover to cover. Learn to take shorthand notes; listen to the instructor if you take classes in person and take class notes on every lecture or lesson. Read over all of these notes as you begin to prepare for the test. Also, do all homework or assignments listed in the book on your own, as most instructors will often not cover all book exercises. In addition to self study, join a study group with fellow classmates to help reinforce classroom material. If possible, take a test preparatory course, especially if a real estate course is not an option.

Avoid Cramming

  • It is advisable to not cram the night before the real estate test. It is important to relax the day before to avoid an overload of facts and stress. Getting a good night’s sleep is also recommended. Even if you have been studying for weeks, sleep deprivation will sabotage the brain’s functionality, potentially affecting clarity and efficiency during the exam. It is also important to get a well balanced and healthy meal prior to taking the test.

Test Taking Tips

  • Be prepared with all the required test taking materials, which vary according to state test regulations. In most cases, blank paper, pencils and a basic calculator are allowed in the testing room. Be sure to have a sharp pencil and a properly functioning calculator. Read each question thoroughly, as misunderstanding questions is one of the most common causes of incorrect answers. Test question are commonly convoluted, so read the questions multiple times until you know what is being asked. Unclear questions can be left for later; lingering on one question can hinder completing the test. Once the end of the test is reached, do a second pass over to check your work and answer questions you got stuck on the first time through. Trust the material that you have studied, and have confidence in your answer. It is a good general rule to not change a test question unless you are absolutely sure it is incorrect.

How to Borrow Money for an Investment in Real Estate

Investing in real estate often requires you to borrow money to make a purchase, but the process of borrowing money for investment property differs from that of traditional mortgage lending. If you plan on getting involved in this type of investment, you may have to look for some alternative means of investment if you want to overcome the hurdles that come with financing an investment property. Besides finding the right property, this is one of the most important factors in the process.


  1. Apply for a mortgage with a traditional lender. When financing a rental property with a traditional mortgage, you may need to put up a larger down payment than normal. Some lenders require you to come up with at least 20 percent down for rental properties. You will also need to have a high credit score and a steady income to qualify for this type of loan.
  2. Work with a “hard money” lender to get access to the money you need. Hard money lenders regularly lend money to individuals who have low income or a bad credit score. When you use a hard money loan, you will pay a higher interest rate than what you would normally pay with a traditional mortgage.
  3. Use a home-equity loan to get money for the investment property. If you are a homeowner with a large amount of equity, you could potentially borrow against this equity and use the money to buy an investment property. To qualify for a home-equity loan, you will need a strong credit history and enough income to pay back the loan. Some lenders also require you to have a certain amount of assets on hand.
  4. Find investors to work with you on this investment project. Create an investment proposal and show it to your friends and family members. Some may be willing to give you money to purchase the property. This may be combined with a loan, in some cases. The investors could help you come up with the money you need for a down payment.