FINANCIAL DEFENSE The True Path to Wealth

“Congratulations! You play fantastic offense” This was said sarcastically by Thomas J Stanley in his famous book, The Millionaire Next Door. I have not read or listened to this book in more than eight years, but I still remember this phrase. That one, and the millionaire saying, “I drink two types or beer. Budweiser and Free.”

The message in his book is that you need to watch your spending with more tenacity than to increase your income. Obviously, it is a combination of income and spending that creates wealth, but controlled spending is far more important. As long as you spend less than your income, you will be moving forward, and consistent progress will make you rich! The problem I often see is that people spend what they make, or worse, spend more than they make. In either of these scenarios, you are at best staying even, but most likely going backwards. Many want to be investors and entrepreneurs, drink the get rich Kool-Aid and focus all their energy on increasing income. That is what sells coaching programs, mentor-ships and advertising on TV shows. With energy and focus comes success, so many of these entrepreneurs and investors see results. And with the positive results of higher earnings comes… higher spending!

I am fortunate enough to live in a great neighborhood. Most people in the neighborhood are high income earners, but several of them live above their means. It is not uncommon for me to see neighbors move out of the area because they can no longer afford to stay. They are the same ones with the new cars and the extravagant parties. It is a look at me attitude and peers feed on the pressure to keep up. This creates a little spiral of friends living outside their means. But hey, at least they are all moving backwards together.

The ones that live below their means feel pressure to spend or get left behind. And on the surface, many of them do. One challenge about living below your means is it takes years before you realize the benefit. During those years it seems as though you are missing out. I see it so clearly and understand the pressure, but I also see a high percentage of our aging population that should be retired, working their asses off. They are stressed and busy and churning to get by.

If you have not yet, you owe it to yourself to read The Millionaire Next Door. This book really sank in for me on the power of financial defense. Of limiting spending and protecting your earnings. I am able to live in my neighborhood, provide for my family, enjoy my time away from the office, and many other benefits because of the control I had with spending as my income was increasing. As you invest earnings for income, instead of spending it, you will witness exponential growth of income.

If I recall correctly, the quote from the book “Congratulations! You play fantastic offense” was referring to a broke high earner. He made more than his peers but would miss a mortgage payment if his income stopped. That is not a comfortable life, yet he was proud of it. If I could help one piece of financial advice sink in, it would be to focus on defense before offense.

Travis and I both recently read the book, Set for Life, by Scott Trench. This is another fantastic book focusing on the correct way to build wealth and retire early. It is a simple formula. Spend less than you make and invest the difference.

The Benefits of Having an Energy Star Certified House

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Transaction of Property Through a Real Estate Company

When it comes to transaction of property, even the wisest, boldest, smartest and the ‘know it all’ becomes nervous. After all you wish to make either a great investment or a profitable sale. Property matters are always stressing. Yes, they do cost your peace of mind. The process of selling and buying of property is complex as well as tiring. There are subtle fears and doubts’ regarding everything till the deal is not done. When selling a property your ultimate goal is to complete the sale at a profitable price and hand over your property in the right hands. When buying a property you aim to get a property which satisfies your needs at an affordable and right price. But how to do that?

The long and tiring process

Lets us first talk about how to sell your property yourself. The first obvious step is to know the market value of your property and then set a price which is convenient to you. The next move is to get a buyer. But, how? Put hoardings, pamphlets and banners to advertise your property and tell people it is for sale. Inform your acquaintances that you wish to sell your property as they might get you buyers in their contact. Buyers will approach you when they get to know that your property is for sale. They will check your property and if they are impressed by your offer they will buy your land/ house. Then comes the paperwork which concludes the deal. When buying a home, you need to collect info about properties for sale either from advertisement on different platforms or from friends and family. Visit the property and check it in the next step. Then comes the negotiation for price with the seller and the purchase concludes with paperwork.

Why you need an agent?

Well! All this might sound easy, but it is not buyers have to wait for the type of property they want for long. Sellers too have to wait as long as 6 months on average to find the right customer. Even the legal work required in papers makes it mandatory for you to visit Law attorneys dealing with property matters, making the process all the more cumbersome. It is exactly here real estate companies and agents come to your aid.

Perks of contacting a Real Estate Company

Many a times you need to buy/ sell homes in a hurry. Like if you have got transferred to a new place you would like to sell your previous home quickly and buy a new one as soon as possible. As already mentioned the process of transaction of property is complex and time taking. But this tiring burden can be reduced to a great extent when you contact and associate with a real estate company or agent. They have all information about which house is for sale at what price and who are people looking for a house in what location and at what price. So you see the first work of finding and waiting for customers when you wish to sell your property is eliminated. When looking to purchase a house you don’t need to hunt anymore. Your property agent will let you know. Not only they end the hunt, but also assist you with legal paperwork relating to the deal.

Consider Resale Value Before You Renovate

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

What is resale value?

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

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

Location the key factor to consider

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Garden Apartments

This residential apartment is located on landscaped property that is at ground level. This term loosely describes any apartment on the first floor. It also includes a basement apartment or one in a high rise. If it is a real garden apartment, there will be no household, or apartment, above it. They are spread out horizontally in an open courtyard. You can find these apartments worldwide.

Such an apartment will have one or two bedrooms but you can find some that have three or more bedrooms, especially if they are used as a vacation apartment. The more bedrooms there are the more people they can accommodate when on vacation and renting the apartment. If it is an apartment that is rented out long term it is generally not furnished. If the apartment is rented out on a weekly or monthly basis for vacations, it will be furnished. Garden apartments may also have one or two stories. The common area can include outdoor amenities like a swimming pool, tennis or basketball courts, a spa or clubhouse. The entrance to the apartment could be off the courtyard or the street.

The owners of the garden apartments are responsible for the outdoor area being kept up with the lawn mowed, any outdoor equipment cleaned, clean swimming pool without leaves and other debris, etc. Many owners will plant the area with well cared for trees and floors. If it is an apartment complex and you have a pet you need to find out if there is a special area for the dogs. Make sure that you clean up after your dog once it has finished its business. Your garden apartment may have a small yard or patio. If your garden apartment has either of these two amenities, it would be a good place to have friends and family over for a barbeque.

Each garden apartment is a separate household unit but all of the tenants share any amenities, such as a swimming pool or exercise room and the main outside grounds. The apartments have their own controls for the heat and air conditioning and bathroom and kitchen facilities. In some places, it may be called a walk-up garden apartment because it has an outdoor staircase. With garden apartment complexes that offer premium services like a weight and exercise room or sauna may be charged an extra monthly fee to help with the upkeep and have a key to let them into these facilities. By having a key, it prevents those that choose not to pay the extra fee from using these premium facilities. Some may even have a laundry room for the residents. The rent for a garden apartment would be much the same as a regular apartment but it depends on the location and amenities.

Owning a Classic Craftsman Home in Northeast Los Angeles

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tips for Getting New Clients As a Realtor

Admit it or not, finding clients on the vast real estate market is very challenging. It is challenged by the existence of big real estate firms which employ hundreds of experienced real estate agents on their teams. If you are a newbie, you could easily be swallowed by the efforts exerted by the established firms. But have you ever think that they also started out as rookies in the field? If you are in this situation, here are some tips to at least give you a leverage on finding the right clients for you.

Create your own circle of offline connections and influences. As much as the online world is essential to widen your connections, the offline connections and influences is equally essential. Start with your family and friends. Then add your past classmates even those from your elementary days whom you still remember. Your teachers can be great additions. Move on to those whom you are tapping services as professionals such as your doctors, dentists, hair stylists, pet groomers and fitness coaches. The parents of your children’s classmates and friends can also expand your offline connections. If you have business contacts, add them as well. Don’t forget your neighbors. They can be great sources of referrals.

Build a better online network of friends. Through social media, you, as a real estate agent is bestowed greater power to enhance online connections. Your network can be a greater web of interconnected persons starting with your family members down to their own friends, acquaintances, friend of friends, and so on. Before you notice it, your network has expanded to include professionals of diverse titles not only in your locality but also in adjacent towns and nearby cities. If you think they are not relevant, you may be wrong with the impression. Anyone in your online network of friends can always be a great source of referral even those who you seldom see to be adding activities in their social media accounts.

Send mailers, both online and offline. Now that you have established both your online and offline connections, it is time to introduce yourself as the rookie real estate agent. For offline mailers, be sure to have a formal tone. Give your full name, license number, the firm you are connected too, its address, and contact numbers of you and the firm. Inform them of the services you are offering.

For online mailers, the same can be followed. But since it is an electronic form, you may want to add some enhanced graphics and video.

Create your own website. For personal branding, having an own website is an essential. This is where you can provide listings, value added services, frequently asked questions, and even informational articles that can help spark the interest of your potential clients. Support it with a blog, and connect it with your social media accounts in different real estate online platforms.

Advantages of Living in a City

City life is commonly described as fast-paced. It is a life that is tangled with having a busy lifestyle such that every second counts. Despite this scenario, the advantages of living in the city still speak best about why there are still may families who choose to dwell in the urban jungle.

Transport accessibility. Even if you don’t own a car, transportation is relatively easy to take you from one part of the city to another. There are many modes of public transport such as buses, trains, and taxis. There are designated points or stations to where you can ride so looking for them won’t be a problem at all.

Variety in lifestyle spots. If you’re one that is active day and night, then the city is perfectly yours as a playground. From shopping malls, restaurants, entertainment spots, bars, and a lot more – the city is that big to accommodate them all. These establishments are made to lure you more into being a city dweller.

Better opportunities in choosing school institutions. Admit it or not, it is a well-known fact that educational institutions are concentrated in cities. While there are school districts which closely monitors those in other areas, there is still a better opportunity of choosing from many schools when you are in the city. Aside from designated public schools, there are also private schools that can give you more options to where to send your kids. If you’re looking for specialty schools and training schools to enhance your skills or upgrade your knowledge, the city can also offer several options.

More job opportunities. Because a city is where population is usually concentrated, then there is also a tendency that more establishments are constructed. From government offices to private institutions, a city has numerous employers which offer jobs to its residents. whether you’re inclined to government service or your skills is for private firms, you have options to choose from as a city job hunter.

Diverse social interaction. More than the advantages anchored with the presence of lifestyle spots and government offices, city life has more to offer. Social interaction in the city is so diverse. There is variety in culture and religious beliefs. This is attributed to the presence of numerous races and ethnicities within the city particularly those that are classified as metropolitan. Living in the city is one great opportunity of expanding your horizon. After all, making real friends and acquaintances is essential in making one’s life worthwhile and productive.

Financial Considerations Of Home Ownership

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

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

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

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

Evolution of Green Real Estate Properties

The ideologies of the buyers in the real estate industry have been drastically changed over the years. All they need is eco-friendly or environmental properties with required facilities. Some of the environment friendly features are:

Use of renewable energy sources
The current trend in the market is demand for eco-friendly properties. Use of solar energy in water heating appliances, air conditioners and inverters can attract many buyers. This kind of energy sources can reduce their E-bills.

Rainwater collectors
Rainwater harvesting is effective way of storing rainwater for domestic usage. By using this method in our home, a large scale of water scarcity can be reduced.

Use of wooden furniture’s
Consumers are considering organic materials like wood and bamboo to be used in interior furniture. Plywood made from wood chips and window treatment, which include bamboo shades are some of the organic designs evolving in the green properties. Wooden furniture can add warmth, richness, comfort and finesse to the household area.

Natural landscaping
It is one of the important factors for the green real estate property. Properties, which have native plants and trees growing in and around the surroundings, have much demand among the consumers. A property, which has artificial grass lawns, requires lot of water to be supplied whereas native plants and trees require only seasonal rainfall to grow. Plenty of water can be saved by having natural growing trees and plants.

Eco-friendly interior insulations
Interior insulation in home is necessary as it affects the room temperature. Use of eco-friendly insulations with wooden chips, cotton, small broken pieces of stones and rocks, newspapers, cellulose insulation can reduce the noise and green house gas emission. Natural insulations have a low embodied energy and are fully disposable/recyclable at the end of their life.

Due to the increased demand in green real estate, many firms have started to promote their properties as eco-friendly homes. Buyers are showing more interest in having energy efficient products and systems in properties. Many financial institutions and private sector firms are investing huge money in green real estate predicting its demand in the future. According to government policies, investors who are investing in this sector pay fewer taxes compared to commercial sector investing. Green building construction has become increasingly popular and construction of such buildings has been a great challenge in long run. A green building is setting up new avenues in sector and increases the talent among the architects, environmentalists and suppliers.