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Ready to Try Your Hand at Passive Income? Here’s How to Find Great Real Estate Deals

“Money for nothin’ and chicks for free.” 

We’re not too sure about free chicks, but most people are pretty excited about getting money without working for it. “Passive income” sounds like earning money for little to no effort. The reality, however, is that you put in the work up front. 

Real estate investing is a common way to build up assets that can pay you over time. Buying property has always been a solid investment.

When you talk to owners or realtors, remember that you aren’t the only one in your area looking for a good deal. You will have to have a few tricks to get in on those extra special properties before anyone else.

How will you find the real estate deals of your dreams?

Like this.

Drive Around

Knowing an area well will help you with your investment strategy. You also don’t want to drive three hours away if something happens with your property. 

When you drive around, look for houses that could use a little love. Look for the telltale signs.

  • Overgrown grass
  • Tarps on the roof
  • Old mail in the mailbox
  • Worsening condition over time

These signs indicate that the place could be empty or that the owner cannot afford to fix the place up. 

Write down the address, do some digging, and reach out to the owner. See if they want to sell.

Check Eviction Records

Most counties will have some public record of evictions that are being processed. Evictions are terrible for landlords. If you can be the answer to their property woes, you could get a great deal.

Once you find out where evictions are happening, you can find the landlord’s information. Then it is a matter of calling or sending a letter to show your interest.

Search Craigslist

Look at the rentals. Keep an eye out for landlords that seem like they could be your average Joe/Jane. They will typically have their phone number in the ad.

Your expressed interest to buy may not be right for them, but hold on. Landlords may have another property they are looking to sell. Being the first offer puts you in the winner’s position.

Collect a Lot of Real Estate Deals

You want to look at a lot of potential deals. Don’t jump at the first property that seems nice.

There are many types of properties to consider. Your next deal could be a single family home, small storefront, or multi-family real estate. You can be smart by creating a funnel for finding bargains.

Here’s what to do:

  1. Search properties with the three tips above (you can also get listings from wholesalers and real estate agents)
  2. Collect 50-100 properties (Not so passive anymore, is it?)
  3. Get down to 10-30 properties to go look at
  4. Make offers on 5-20 of those listings

Get Ready for Business

Once you show up, get ready to pitch your deal and negotiate. Be considerate and honest. Remember that you are dealing with people who also need to feed their families.

Knowing about the many areas involved in real estate will help you be confident in your dealings. If you are not that savvy, bring along someone who is. 

It’s Getting Good for Buyers

After coming through the housing bubble of 2008, the market has become increasingly competitive. More buyers are confident enough to make an offer.

Now, things are looking good for buyers in the future. Signs suggest we’re entering a buyer’s market. Real estate deals will be easier to find. Let’s hope you find one of these gems in your area. 

Want to learn more to help you in your real estate investing? We’ve got more for you here!

8 Tips For Negotiating the Best Real Estate Deals

real estate deals

So you’re ready to buy a piece of real estate.

Or maybe you have property to sell. Whether you’re a buying or selling, you should work with a real estate agent. Here’s why.

Negotiation skills matter a lot. Great real estate deals are only available to powerful negotiators. If you buckle too easily, you risk being taken advantage of by knowledgeable buyers or forceful sellers.

Here are 8 tips that you need to master before you negotiate your next real estate transaction.

1. Hire A Good Real Estate Agent

A bad real estate agent can cost you tens of thousands of dollars.

Spend time choosing your agent. A strong choice will pay off your investment tenfold. The person you choose should have shark-like negotiation skills needed to secure good real estate deals.

Interview your choices, preferably in person. A seasoned, experienced agent will be able to answer all of your questions.

2. Understand the Neighborhood

Real estate deals depend on the neighborhood. If you don’t know how much the neighbor’s house sold for, you won’t know how much your house is worth. Become an expert in the neighborhood.

If you’re selling your house, you’ll get a better deal if you price the home to suit the neighborhood. Your Realtor(R) should be able to help you.

If you’re buying a property, become an expert in its location. Visit at all hours of the day. The charming neighborhood may seem quite different at night when most of the partying residents are home.

Are there any good schools nearby? Even if you don’t have kids, your proximity to quality schools affects your home value.

Your real estate agent should be able to answer most of your questions about the neighborhood. Choose someone who is well-respected in the area.

Searching for a vacation home near Disneyland? Choose Jeeves Realty. Looking for a fabulous loft in Cancun? Choose a Realtor(R) who’s based nearby.

3. It’s Not Real Unless It’s In Writing

In real estate, words are meaningless until they’re put on paper. Don’t depend on verbal contracts. If you haven’t signed your name to it, the agreement doesn’t exist.

Sellers sometimes lure buyers by feeding them false hope. Once offers start flying in, the seller manufactures a bidding war to entice desirable buyers. Don’t get your hopes set on a single property.

4. Don’t Be Discouraged By Friction

Negotiations only end quickly if one person is making a mistake. If buyers leap at your price, you’re probably asking for too little. By the same reasoning, buyers should be wary if the seller is too eager to close the deal.

If the entire negotiation goes smoothly, it might mean you could have gotten a better deal. Be cooperative but don’t bend over backward to make the other party happy. It’s ok if there’s a little friction

5. Someone Has to Get the Last Concession — Make Sure It’s You

Here’s a simple rule to remember during the negotiation process- always get the last concession.

A concession in real estate is anything that sweetens the deal. You might be able to convince the seller to repaint the property’s walls or perhaps install new flooring. Realtors(R) often negotiate for the seller to cover entire closing costs.

If you always demand the last concession, the other party will quickly learn to stop trying to get extra goodies. She’ll realize that nothing that she wants is free. If she’s going to ask you to give something up, you’re going to do the same to her.

For example, during the last round of negotiations, instead of announcing that you’re happy with the proposed price, say that you agree, as long as you can have one last thing.

Perhaps you want the contractor to finish sooner. Maybe you want a couple of appliances thrown into the deal. It doesn’t matter what it is.

6. Remember: You’re Buying a House, Not Choosing a Life Partner

If you’re buying a house, focus on what you’re trying to do. Great real estate deals aren’t made based on emotions. You might be in love with the cozy breakfast nook or the spacious backyard, but don’t let that blind you.

Real estate investments are tricky, so you need to go into them with your eyes open. A bad financial decision can take years to recover from.

7. Real Estate Deals Depend On The Market

The type of deal that you’ll be able to negotiate depends on the market conditions.

Buyer’s Market

A buyer’s market means that there are more homes on the market than homebuyers. It’s the best time to be a buyer, so push your advantages.

If you’re trying to sell a house in a buyer’s market, you need to be flexible. Properties may take longer to sell. Buyers might demand that you lower your listing price.

Seller’s Market

In a seller’s market, buyers fight for a limited number of homes.

If you’re trying to buy a house, understand that the seller has the advantage. If you’re tangled in a bidding war, trying to convince the seller to cover the closing costs or take a couple thousand dollars off the final price probably won’t work.

8. Get a Home Inspection

Hire a home inspector. It’ll cost a couple hundred dollars upfront but it could potentially save you thousands. A home inspector will give you an unbiased opinion about the property and any issues it has.

Here’s what you need to do if you’re the buyer:

If you’re the seller, you should:

  • Prepare your home
  • Get a presale inspection

Thinking About Buying Or Selling A Piece Of Real Estate?

Everything is negotiable. Choose a real estate agent with fearsome deal-making skills and you might walk away with a great deal whether you’re buying or selling.

Practice before you come to the negotiation table. Prepare yourself mentally for battle. If you don’t fight for what you want in real estate, you’re not going to get it.

There are others ways that you can prepare to make a great investment. Poke around on our site to discover more tips.

The Ultimate Guide to the Best Places to Visit in Florida

best places to visit in Florida,

Pristine and world ranked beaches, wildlife, adventurous family-friendly theme parks, and hundreds of museums and entertainment locations, Florida has so much to offer.

How do you choose where to visit for your next Florida trip?

Here is a guide to help! Keep reading to learn what makes these cities the best places to visit in Florida.

1. St. Petersburg

St. Petersburg is ranked #1 best places to visit in Florida by U.S. News and World Report for lots of reasons.

To start, St. Petersburg neighbors Clearwater beach, which is ranked one of the world’s best beaches for its white sand and beautiful clear water.

St. Pete has it’s own beautiful top-ranked beaches, too, where you can find vacation spots for every type of traveler. Whether you want lively spring break-style fun, water adventure, or a more quiet and relaxing vacation, you can find it in St. Petersburg.

St. Petersburg downtown hosts an array of entertainment, shopping, art, and exceptional food. It is an artistic and hip place with something for everyone.

If you like craft beer, then you’ll definitely enjoy St. Pete’s beer scene. And did I mention the food? Well, it’s amazing featuring everything from Latin, Cuban, Cajun, American, Italian, and more.

Downtown is also home to historical architecture and museums including the world famous Dali museum.

And if you’re a baseball fan, you can catch a game at the Tampa Bay Rays stadium in downtown St. Pete.

St. Petersburg is a great place to vacation for the adventurers out there. It is home to many historical sites, including archeological ones like Fort De Soto. St. Pete also features tons of parks and preserves where you can see beautiful nature and wildlife.

Last but not least, if you are a dog owner then St. Pete is the place for you. The town of St. Petersburg was ranked the most pet-friendly city in the country last year!

2. St. Augustine

This one is for the history buffs out there!

St. Augustine, Florida is the country’s oldest city, founded by Spain in 1565. Visiting this beautiful city is like stepping back in time and into a whole new country.

The Spanish architecture and culture is vast and gorgeous. There are tons of historical sites to visits including forts, museums, and the Castillo de San Marcos National Monument.

The city sits on the Atlantic ocean and features harbors and nearby beaches. You can experience the typical beach vacation while exploring our nations oldest history.

And if you’re into Spanish food, there’s lots of it to be had in St. Augustine!

3. Orlando

While you won’t find white-sand beaches, Orlando has tons of fun to offer. It is ranked #1 in best places to visit in Florida for family vacations.

Orlando is home to the happiest place on earth–Disney World. Disney provides a world of theme parks, shopping, shows, delicious treats, and more. There is something for everyone, not just children.

Check out my tips for planning a Disney trip with children.

Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure provide additional fun and entertainment. They offer movie-themed rides and shows from our favorite films including a real-life adventure through the world of Harry Potter.

We highly recommend doing the Universal VIP tours for a personalized experience without the waits!

Orlando has more than just theme parks, though. There are renowned outlet malls for exceptional shopping, tons of restaurants featuring top-ranked chefs, and exciting nightlife downtown.

4. Siesta Key, Sarasota

Siesta Key beach in Sarasota, Florida, was ranked the country’s #1 beach in 2017 and for good reason. The beach features shiny white sand, clear waters, cleanliness, and preserved nature. It truly is the perfect place to get away to and relax.

Plus, it is one of the larger beaches in Florida. So, you can wander the shoreline for hours and find different things to do in different areas. Whether you want to play sand volleyball or get lost in nature, you can!

Sarasota itself has a lot to offer, too. The shopping, great food, boutiques, Ringley museum, fishing, and more make Sarasota one of the best places to visit in Florida.

These are just some reasons why celebrities choose Siesta Key and Sarasota for their home.

5. Miami

Welcome to Miami! The home of celebrities, famous pristine beaches, the country’s best Cuban food, and more shopping than you can handle.

Miami is full of life, culture, and fun. It is one of the best places to visit in Florida if you’re looking for nightlife, dancing, and vibrancy. It is also a place to find trendy restaurants featuring world-renowned chefs.

And don’t forget about the beaches. Miami’s South Beach is ranked #4 for U.S. best beaches. Fort Lauderdale, another ranked beach, is nearby as well.

Both beaches and surrounding areas feature fun-in-the-sun such as parasailing, watersports, and deep sea fishing.

6. Key West

The southernmost point of the United States can be found in the Florida Keys. Surrounded by clear water, the island of Key West is a place everyone should visit.

Key West features adventure and relaxation. There are beaches everywhere you turn with teal waters and exotic corals. You can find spas, retreats, and resorts, too.

For the adventurer, Key West offers some of the best sea fishing in the country. In addition, there’s snorkeling and scuba diving, watersports, and lots of cute walks or bike ride to be had.

If you’re into history and reading, you can’t pass up seeing Earnest Hemmingway’s home!

7. Crystal River

Crystal River is an underrated vacation spot where local Floridians escape to for their own vacations. It is perfect for the nature-lovers out there who want to escape into wildlife and peacefulness.

Crystal River sits on Kings Bay, which is a spring-fed bay. There are natural fresh-water springs that you can swim in where the water stays cool and crystal clear all year. You can literally see the bottom.

Crystal River also features kayaking, canoeing, scalloping, fishing, and manatee watching. There are wildlife refuges surrounding the town and an early Native American archeological site on the northwest side.

Best Places to Visit in Florida–Where Will You Go?

Whichever place you choose to visit in Florida, you won’t regret it.

Once you’ve decided, check out our tips on vacation planning, packing, deals, and more.

If you’re looking to start saving for that vacation, we can help with that too. We have tons of unique ways that you can earn extra money.

Basement Design Plans for Organization and Functionality

basement design plansIs your basement wasted space? Do you wish you could create a useful room that’s both organized and functional?

There are lots of awesome ways to make use of your basement. And none of them involve filling it with boxes of junk, old bikes, or broken pieces of furniture.

Take some inspiration from the basement design plans below. These can turn your disorganized basement into a functional space the whole family can enjoy.

Read to start? Let’s do this!

Playhouse Basement

Need more space for the kids to play? Turning your basement into a playhouse is a fun, creative way to make use of your space.

Use siding screens to separate the basement into two halves – a garden and a playhouse. You could also add doors and windows to complete the look.

Install fencing outside the playhouse to section the rest of the basement into different zones. You could use a picnic bench for activities, put down green carpet to look like grass, or decorate the walls with painted trees and sky.

Inside the playhouse, install storage for books and toys and provide plenty of beanbags for the kids to relax on.

A converted basement is the perfect place to store loose toys and keep kid-related messes contained.

Gaming Basement

Are you a big kid at heart? A games collection can quickly make your living room seem cluttered, and too many wires around the TV isn’t a good look.

Converting your basement into a games room is the perfect solution.

Install built-in, wall-to-wall shelving to store video games, consoles, and memorabilia. Use a large media cabinet to house your TV and favorite systems.

Hang game art on the walls and use dimmable lighting to create the right atmosphere. Add some comfy seating, and you’re good to go!

Art Studio Basement

Have you always longed for a proper place to practice your art? Are you sick of painting at a wobbly kitchen table?

Employing a basement renovation company to turn your basement into an art studio is the perfect solution.

Stick to rustic walls and flooring and install plenty of good lighting. You might also look at plumbing in a sink if you’ll need access to water. There’s no need to section off the room – leave it as one large space that can be filled with supplies.

This is one of the easiest basement design plans, and also one of the most rewarding.

You’ll have the freedom to work on large projects and store unfinished pieces. You can also experiment with new techniques without worrying about making a mess.

How to Choose the Right Basement Design Plans

Before you settle on one of our basement design plans, you need to think carefully about what you want to get out of the room.

Do you need extra storage space? A place for your noisy teenager to play video games? Or a studio for your art? Having a clear picture will help you decide on the right plan.

Make sure you get a balance between organization and functionality by installing smart storage systems. You’ll also want to leave plenty of space in the center of the room to make it feel welcoming.

Want more advice on organizing your life with DIY? Check out our blog for more handy tips.

8 Tips on How to Save Money on Exterior Renovations

exterior renovationsIf you’re currently considering exterior renovations, it’s likely that you are envisioning dollar signs disappearing right before your very eyes.

It’s true that renovations can cost large chunks of money. This can make the entire process more stressful and difficult than anyone wants it to be. But it’s nice to redesign your home, and sometimes renovations are impossible to ignore, especially when disaster strikes.

With a little bit of extra help, however, those costs can be minimized.

Continue reading to learn more.

1. Plan Ahead To Keep Labor Costs Low

Being able to give your contractor a detailed idea of what exterior renovations you want to have done will go a long way in keeping costs much lower. The work will go faster and easier, making it a better job for everyone involved.

Plus, if you leave certain things for the renovators to figure out, it may end up costing you more as their idea of what is an acceptable cost may be very different from your own.

Exterior renovation services, such as Ross Services, want to do their very best for you. So make sure to be ready with a game plan to make the entire process cheaper and less stressful for everyone.

2. Avoid Purchasing Customized Items

It is much more affordable to buy items such as windows or paneling off the shelf of your local materials store than to dole out extra cash for something made to order. Although that customized triangular window might look really nice in your foyer, it also will cost you a lot more money than a normal rectangular window. Both for the window itself, and to get that oddly-shaped window installed.

Stick to the basics, and your costs will be much lower.

If you have your heart set on getting some customizations, you should keep them to a minimum in order to keep expenses as low as possible.

3. Gather the Needed Materials Yourself

Getting the materials for your exterior renovations is a necessary part of the entire project. However, getting them delivered right to your door is a luxury that will add a lot of expense to the overall budget.

Instead of ordering for the materials to be delivered, go and pick them up yourself to save extra money. This way you can ensure that the materials are exactly what you want for your project and that you’re getting the best price at the same time.

Just remember to bring these materials to the renovation site before the contractors get there. Otherwise, you might just be paying them to stand around waiting!

4. Explore Other Ways to Bring in Natural Light

Big open windows are quite beautiful, but they aren’t the only way to get natural light into places like your chic kitchen or your comfy living room. There are other options that won’t require you to cut out a hole into the side of your home.

An item called a “light tube”, for instance, is installed between the rafters of your roof and will help bring in natural sunlight into your home. And, it’s much cheaper than installing a whole new window.

Also, you won’t have new windows to wash during your regular cleaning routine. Less cleaning for similar results sounds like big savings in my book!

5. Spend a Little Now to Save Big Later

In order to save money during a such a large project like exterior renovations, you need to find all of the little ways where spending more now will actually save you money in the long run.

Let’s look at the siding on your home for a good example. You can save money buying just plain siding, but if you spend a little extra on the pre-painted and pre-primed version, you’ll actually save time and money.

That extra sturdy siding won’t need re-painting nearly as often as the plain siding, which ultimately saves you money. Try to find situations like this one in order to maximize your savings.

6. Try Demolishing on Your Own

It’s not recommended that you demolish interior walls without experience or knowledge, due to all of the potential electrical wiring or plumbing you could damage. However, for exterior renovations, you don’t have to worry quite as much.

Decks, especially, are quite easy for homeowners to demolish on their own without the need to hire a demolition team. Putting in some hard labor yourself will save you a lot of money.

Plus, it could be a new way to work out a little bit of stress at the same time.

7. Visit a Building-Supply Auction

Auction houses are like little treasure boxes that most people ignore. If you want to save extra money on your exterior renovations, you can’t ignore auctions any longer.

There are a lot of unused building materials just waiting for a new home. Things like lumber or siding, even sets of windows or deck furniture could be available in one of these auctions.

Don’t let the savings available at an auction pass you by. Find out where the nearest auction is, and give it a try.

8. Start Your Renovation During Contractor Downtime

Exterior renovations services have their own busy schedules to contend with when they pick up new projects. When they’re at their busiest, that is also when they are at their most costly.

If at all possible, wait until your contract has slower business before beginning your own renovations. Often a contractor will offer a small discount if you hire them during these slow times.

The busiest times for renovations are generally around the warmest summer months or around August or September when kids are beginning school again. Try to plan your renovation around these times in order to save the most money and hopefully get a discount at the same time.

Exterior Renovations Don’t Have to Empty Your Bank Account

While it’s true that your renovations will still cost you a bit, with the help of these tips, that sum of money can be significantly reduced. It’s all about getting the most bang for your buck.

This way, you can enjoy the perks of a newly renovated home, without the stresses of having spent a bit too much money in the process.

Do you have your own method for saving money on renovations? Contact me and share your wisdom!

5 Expert Tips for Moving on a Budget

moving on a budgetDid you know the average American household spends over $12,000 on a professional move?

Of course, the cost of moving varies greatly depending on several factors. The distance between locations and the weight of your belongings both play a role. However, the fact still remains that a move isn’t exactly cheap.

Fortunately, moving on a budget is a lot easier when you have the right plan in place. There are many steps you can take to ensure you’re not spending too much money.

Here are 5 pieces of advice you need to know before relocating. Read on to learn how to save big on your moving expenses!

1. Leave the Cheap Furniture Behind

It can be tough to sell your old home since it holds so many cherished memories. Similarly, your furniture can have a lot of sentimental value as well. However, moving on a budget requires making some tough decisions.

In most case, it’s not wise to drag along your cheap or old furniture. If the furniture is cheap, it won’t cost you much to replace, and if it’s old, you’ll have to replace it soon either way. All in all, you’ll save money by leaving the heavier pieces behind.

2. Don’t Skimp on the Truck

Most of us are always looking for the best new deals. As a result, small moving trucks seem like such an enticing choice. After all, they’re a lot cheaper, and you’ll somehow find a way to make everything fit anyway, right?

In reality, skimping on the truck can actually cost you more money. If you end up making multiple trips, you’ll have to cover the gas. Therefore, make an informed decision rather than simply choosing the least expensive truck.

3. Research All Your Options

One of the biggest mistakes many movers make is that they don’t research all of their options. They see one appealing price and get tunnel vision.

Before you make your final decision, look at multiple moving companies. To make sure you’re getting a good value, read online reviews as well. Also, make sure the companies have good standings with the Better Business Bureau.

4. Never Buy Boxes

One thing is for certain: you’re going to need a lot of boxes when you move. That said, there’s no reason to spend your money on boxes. Ask your friends if they have any to give you, or check the back alleys of clothing stores.

Additionally, look for creative ways to save space when packing everything. For example, see if you can fit some smaller items inside your washing machine.

5. Try Moving During Winter

Not everyone can control when they move. Sometimes, you have to get to your new job immediately. Other times, you want to get situated in your new home before the kids start school.

However, if you can help it, try to move during the winter. Professional movers offer the biggest discounts from December through February. Conversely, moving during the summer will hit your wallet the hardest.

Final Thoughts on Moving on a Budget

The tips outlined above can help you put together a plan for your next move.

When moving, make sure you do your best to avoid rush hour traffic so you can save you a bit of money on gas. Also, consider using USPS to ship your books in bulk.

Do you have any other useful tips for moving on a budget? What are some mistakes you made with moving in the past? Feel free to share with the rest of us by leaving a comment below!