Thursday, December 29, 2005

How to Make Your Apartment Safe by Kyle Thomas Haley

How to Make Your Apartment Safe

By Kyle Thomas Haley

There are special dangers involved with apartment living. This is because you live so close to many other people. Their actions can jeopardize your safety and so it's very important for you to be aware of what you must do to safeguard yourself, your family and your possessions.

Fire Safety . . .

Fire is perhaps the greatest danger in apartment buildings. With so many units joined together, it doesn't take long for fire to spread from one to another. The following guidelines are critical to your safety:

* Install smoke detectors in the kitchen, all bedrooms, the laundry area and hallways. You must test them every month and replace the batteries every 6 months. They won't do you any good if they aren't in working order.

* Keep fire extinguishers handy in the kitchen, laundry area and near your outside grill. * Develop an escape plan. This plan should include two ways of exiting - in most cases, this will probably include the main door and either a window or door wall. If you live on a higher floor and don't have access to a fire escape, purchase a rope ladder to use for exiting from windows or a balcony. Practice your escape plan regularly so each member of your family knows exactly what to do in case of fire.

* Never use an elevator during a fire. * Never park in front of fire hydrants or in fire lanes and make sure your guests don't either.

General Safety . . .

Fire isn't the only danger in an apartment building. You must also be aware of hazards that can exist no matter where you live and take precautions to prevent them.

* Install a carbon monoxide detector.

* Install screen guards or window stops and doorstops on your patio door to protect your children from falling. * Keep your apartment and building number near the telephone so your family or babysitter can access it in case of an emergency. Remember that memories can fail during emergencies.

* Make certain your apartment number is clearly marked on your door. * Be sure that each person in your family knows how to dial 911.

Protecting from Intruders . . .

There are many people coming and going in an apartment complex. Criminals count on this anonymity. That makes it very important to get to know the other tenants. When you do, not only are you better able to identify someone who doesn't belong, it also makes it more likely that tenants will look out for one another.

* Consider forming an "apartment watch". This is similar to a neighborhood watch but confined to your apartment complex. If a group of tenants is on the alert for suspicious behavior, they can prevent many problems from arising. * Install quality deadbolt locks on your door and place a wooden rod or steel brace on sliding doors. One caution about deadbolt locks - don't purchase those that require a key. In an emergency, you won't have time to search for the key.

* Make sure your landlord has installed good lighting in all stairways, hallways, and common areas like the laundry room.

* Make sure that if your building has a common entry, the entry door locks so that only tenants can enter. Never open that door for strangers.

If you follow these guidelines, practice good common sense, and are alert to what's going on around you, your apartment will provide a safe home for you and your family.

About the Author

Kyle Thomas Haley has been helping people relocate on the Internet since 1999 with Apartment and Relocation Websites:

An Apartment Directory and A Relocation Guide

Copyright 1999 - 2005 STANZEEKAY Inc. You have permission to publish this article, free of charge, as long as the bylines are included

Texas Real Property Law for Commercial Landlords by Tri Nguyen

Selected Texas Property Code Provisions of Interest to Commercial Landlords

By Tri Nguyen, Esq.

I have found that landlords generally face the same set of issues and have the same set of questions pertaining to their rights, duties and obligations as landlords under Texas law. The answers to these questions depend on whether residential tenants or commercial tenants are involved. Although commercial and residential property ownership and operation have some similarities, the differences are numerous and diverse enough to justify separate treatment for each area. This article is intended to discuss issues related to commercial property with commercial tenants only. This article is my attempt to create a quick and very general reference guide on the rights, duties and obligations of commercial landlords and operators under the Texas Property Code. It is by no means complete, but hopefully is informative enough to assist the reader in asking informed questions of legal counsel and thus be more efficient and economical while consulting legal counsel.

You should not take this article as legal advice, and I strongly urge you to seek competent legal advice for your specific situation. The Texas legislature updates and passes new laws relating to landlord/tenant issues on a regular basis. In addition, Texas courts regularly interpret these laws. Thus, the laws discussed in this article are in effect as of December 2005. I have not assumed any duty or obligation to update this article beyond this date.

I. Duty to Mitigate

If a tenant abandons the leased premises in breach of the lease, the landlord has the duty to mitigate (lessen) the damages that the landlord would experience as a result of the abandonment. Thus, the landlord should not let the premises lie vacant in hopes of being able to recover lost rents from the tenant. This duty to mitigate damages may not be waived by the tenant, so any provision in the lease that tries to waive this duty or exempt the landlord from liability is void.

II. Security Deposit

A security deposit is any advance of money, other than a rental application deposit or an advance payment of rent, that is intended primarily to secure performance under a lease.

III. Retention of Security Deposit

Before returning the security deposit, the landlord may deduct from the deposit damages or charges for which the tenant is obligated under the lease or resulting from a breach of the lease. However, normal wear and tear (does not include deterioration that results from negligence, carelessness, accident or abuse) may not be withheld from the security deposit.

If the landlord retains any portion of the security deposit, the landlord must refund the balance of the security deposit and give the tenant a written description and itemized list of all deductions. However, this description and itemized list is not required if the tenant owes rent and no controversy exists concerning the amount of rent owed. The refund and written description and itemized list of all deductions is not required until the tenant gives the landlord a written statement of the tenant's forwarding address for the purpose of refunding the security deposit. However, failure to provide a forwarding address does not cause the tenant to forfeit its right to receive a refund or a description of deductions.

IV. Refund of Security Deposit

A landlord must refund the security deposit not later than the 60th day after the date the tenant surrenders the premises and provides notice of the tenant's forwarding address.

V. Change of Landlord/Owner and the Security Deposit

The new owner or landlord of the leased premises is liable for the return of the security deposit starting from the date title to the leased premises is acquired, except where the new owner acquired the premises by foreclosure through a real estate mortgage. However, the former landlord or owner remains liable for the security deposit received while the person was the owner or landlord until the new owner delivers to the tenant a signed statement acknowledging that the new owner has received and is responsible for the tenant's security deposit and specifying the exact dollar amount of the deposit.

VI. Liability of Landlord for Security Deposit

A landlord who in bad faith retains a security deposit is liable for an amount equal to the sum of $100, three times the portion of the security deposit wrongfully withheld, and the tenant's reasonable attorneys fees incurred in a suit to recover the deposit. It is presumed that a landlord who fails to return a security deposit or to provide a written description and itemized list of deductions on or before the 60th day after the date the tenant surrenders possession is acting in bad faith.

VII. Preventing Access to Leased Premises

A landlord may not intentionally prevent a tenant from entering the leased premises except with permission of the court unless such prevention results from (i) bona fide repairs, construction or an emergency, (ii) removing the contents of the leased premises abandoned by a tenant or (iii) changing the door locks of a tenant who is delinquent in paying at least a part of the rent. The lease may alter this provision.

VIII. Changing Lock Due to Delinquent Payments

If a landlord changes the door lock due to delinquent rent payments, the landlord must place a written notice on the tenant's front door stating the name and address or telephone number of the individual or company from which the new key may be obtained. The new key is only required to be provided during the tenant's regular business hours and only if the tenant pays the delinquent rent. The lease may alter this provision.

IX. Landlord's Removal of Property After Abandonment by the Tenant

A landlord may remove and store any property of a tenant that remains after the premises has been abandoned. The landlord may also dispose of the stored property if the tenant does not claim the property within 60 days after the date the property is stored. The landlord must deliver by certified mail to the tenant at the tenant's last known address a notice stating that the landlord may dispose of the tenant's property if the tenant does not claim the property within 60 days after the date the property is stored. A lease may alter this provision.

X. Abandonment by the Tenant

A tenant is presumed to have abandoned the premises if goods, equipment or other property, in a substantial enough amount to indicate a probable intent to abandon the premises, is being or has been removed from the premises and the removal is not within the normal course of the tenant's business. The lease may alter this provision.

XI. Interruption of Utilities

If the tenant pays for utility services directly to the utilities companies, the landlord may not interrupt or cause the interruption of such services unless the interruption results from bona fide repairs, construction or an emergency. A lease may alter this provision.

XII. Removal of Doors, Windows, Locks, Hinges, Etc.

A landlord may not remove a door, window, attic hatchway, lock, hinge, hinge pin, doorknob or other mechanism connected to a door, window or attic hatchway cover from the leased premises. Additionally, a landlord may not remove furniture, fixtures or appliances furnished by the landlord from the leased premises. However, the landlord may remove these items for a bona fide repair or replacement, which must be promptly performed. A lease may alter this provision.

XIII. Landlord May Terminate Lease Due to Public Indecency Conviction of Tenant

A landlord may terminate a lease signed or renewed after June 15, 1981 if the tenant or occupant uses the property for an activity for which the tenant, occupant or any of their agent or employee is convicted of public indecency (prostitution, promotion of prostitution, display or distribution of obscene materials, sexual acts with persons under the age of 18, etc.) and such person has exhausted or abandoned all avenues of direct appeal from the conviction. Notice of termination must be by written notice within six months after the right to terminate arises. The landlord obtains the right to possess the property on the 10th day after the date of notice is given.

XIV. Notice Requirement Prior to Eviction

The landlord must give a tenant who defaults or holds over beyond the end of the term at least three day's written notice to vacate the premises before the landlord files a forcible detainer suit, unless the parties contracted for a shorter or longer period of time in a written lease or agreement.

The notice to vacate must be given in person or by mail at the premises in question. If notice is delivered in person, it may be by personal delivery to the tenant or any person residing at the premises who is 16 years of age or older or personal delivery to the premises and affixing the notice to the inside of the main entry door. Notice by mail may be by regular mail, by registered mail or by certified mail, return receipt requested, to the premises in question. The notice period starts from the day on which the notice is delivered.

About the Author
Tri Nguyen practices primarily business, corporate and real estate law in Houston, Texas. He may be contacted by telephone at 713.513.4808 or e-mail at Prior to starting his own firm, Mr. Nguyen worked as an associate in the corporate and securities section of a nationally-recognized law firm located in Houston, Texas. Mr. Nguyen graduated from The University of Houston Law Center with honors.

Screening Out Prospective Tenants Based on Credit Checks? by David Melancon

Increasingly, landlords throughout North America are screening prospective tenants in order to reduce the risks involved when renting to unknown individuals. Risks which can easily become quite costly to an unsuspecting landlord.

It's easy to prove the increasing popularity of tenant screening. See for yourself! Simply "Google" the following two words, tenant screening. Within seconds you will be flooded with a variety of small and large companies offering the service, and links to information on tenant screening. Go ahead! The last time I tried the results numbered 4,110,000.

The high number of results demonstrate that there is a rising awareness, amongst landlords, about the value of taking the necessary steps to protecting your property. The demand is growing and so is the supply.

However, although tenant screening is an important and effective tool for any landlord, there is an overwhelming trend, on the part of landlords and the service providers, to use the results of a credit check as the main reason for screening out prospective tenants. In my opinion, this is a mistake.

Of course, credit checks do provide valuable data on individuals. These reports inform us of the prospective tenant's credit history, both good and bad. But what else does an automated list of vague descriptions, and codes tell us about a potential tenant?

I dare say the answer is, not much.

Keeping aside the fact that credit reports are one-sided, and often contain errors. Credit checks can not provide any true insight on a potential tenant. For example, the credit check may lead you to think the tenant is a bad prospect, but it doesn't take into account the possibility that she went through a difficult period a few years back, but has long been "back on track".

A landlord can easily pass up a "perfect tenant", in his thirties, simply because he had trouble making payments while going through school, in his twenties. Base your decision on a credit report, and you lose a potentially ideal tenants.

What about a favorable credit report?

In my opinion, it would be a mistake for any landlord or property manager to place too much worth on a perfect credit score.

As a bad credit report can be misleading, so can a good credit report. For example, the report will not tell us that this particular individual has a reputation of constantly arguing with neighbors, and causing an all-around uncomfortable atmosphere for the landlord's other tenants.

As well, a credit report will not describe how the prospective tenant, with the perfect credit check, sitting in front of you, stuck the former landlord with an $800.00 hydro bill... Unpaid utilities often do not appear on a credit report.

Base your decision on a credit report, and you take the chance of entering into a rental agreement with a disaster.

As a landlord, it is in your best interest to exercise due diligence when considering a prospective tenant, and that means tenant screening. However, in order to truly ensure a potential tenant is the right one for you, contacting current and past landlords, employers and references is the best method.

First hand information is, and will always be better, and more revealing than any automated report.

About the Author
David Melancon owns and operates IntelMatters a research company specializing in tenant and pre-employment screening, throughout North America.
Knowledge is the key to success!

Investing In Real Estate by Max Plata

Once you purchase your first home you realize the satisfaction in owning a piece of real estate. For many people their interest doesn't stop there and they decide they'd like to continue investing in real estate beyond the home they live in.

Investing in property can be a dynamic way of making extra income. For many people their investing experiences allow them to work less at their 9 to 5 job and instead devote more time to producing an income from their investments.

The first thing you need to consider if you look towards investing in the real estate market is what types of properties your dollars should be spent on. There are two choices that you'll probably want to research. One is residential properties and the other is commercial properties.

Residential property includes everything from single family homes to multi-family dwellings. If you decide on investing in the purchase of a single family home, you'll be planning on renting it out. In this case you might act as the landlord yourself, taking care of completing the necessary paperwork, including a rental contract as well as collecting rent payments.

If you decide on this route, you might be investing more than just your money. You'll also be investing quite a bit of time, not only showing the property to prospective tenants but also coming to their rescue if there is a problem. Problems can range from a broken door look to a furnace that needs to be replaced.

If the prospect of investing that much time in your real estate venture is a bit overwhelming you can hire someone to manage the property for you. This saves you a great deal of time and trouble but it costs money as well, as you'll have to pay them a salary.

This is almost always the case when investing in a multi-family dwelling. There are many details involved in running an apartment building or condominium complex. The tenants needs have to be addressed in a timely manner and in order to do this you'll need to think about investing in a property manager.

There are many people who are experienced in this field and enjoy this type of work. If you are investing in a property that is worth a great deal of money, you'll want to hire someone who has experience in property management to assist you.

When it comes to owning a property such as an apartment building the key to success is in keeping the units full thus ensuring a steady flow of income. This often means investing in advertising. Advertising can be done in several ways. A popular approach is to post signs on the outside of the building showcasing that there are vacancies. If the property is particularly affordable, placing the cost of monthly rent on the sign is a good idea as well.

Another form of advertising that works well whether you're renting out an apartment or a house is investing in a newspaper advertisement. Many people who are looking for a new place to live scour the classifieds daily in the hope that they'll find exactly the right rental property in the neighborhood they desire.

Investing in real estate can be a very rewarding experience and with the help of a seasoned real estate agent, you'll be able to purchase properties that will yield you a profit year after year.

About the Author
Investing Resources and Information

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Do You Need Rental Insurance?

Do You Need Rental Insurance?
Copyright © 1999-2005 Kyle Thomas Haley
Apartment Rental dot Net

Many renters don’t stop to think about what happens if there is a fire, someone breaks in and steals their new TV or stereo, or a visitor slips and falls on their property. The sad truth is; you will be responsible! While your landlord has insurance that covers the actual building, that coverage does not include your personal property or liability for injuries which occur in the space you rent ~ be it an apartment or a house and yard.

If a fire should destroy or damage your home, your landlord’s insurance will cover the structure. It won’t cover damage or loss of your belongings. Neither will it provide for the cost of temporary housing for you and your family.

You may think you don’t own enough personal property to make the cost of insurance worthwhile. You’re probably wrong! If you sit down and add up the cost of everything you own, you may be in for a big surprise. Consider what you have invested in such things as:

* Furniture and accessories
* Electronics like TV, stereo, computers
* Small appliances like microwaves, toaster ovens, etc.
* Clothing
* Art work like paintings or prints
* Dishes, silverware and cookware
* Sporting equipment
* Books
* Jewelry

Could you afford to replace all of these things?

Even worse, what would you do if a friend is injured on your property and decides to sue you for medical costs and more? It’s a scary thought, isn’t it?

Are you beginning to see why rental insurance may be a very wise investment?

The cost of rental insurance is based on several factors:

* The dollar amount of your coverage
* Deductibles
* Whether you choose to be reimbursed for Actual Cash Value or Replacement Costs (more about that in a minute)
* Where your rental property is located and the number of previous claims made, not only by you, but by others living in the same area.

Let me explain the difference between Actual Cash Value (ACV) and Replacement Costs. ACV is the value of your property at the time a loss takes place. For example, if your television set is five years old, it’s valued at much less than if it were brand new. The lesser amount is what you are reimbursed.

However, if you opt for Replacement Cost, you’re paid whatever it costs to go out and buy a new TV with similar features. Insuring for replacement cost raises the amount of your premium so it’s a good idea to get quotes for both ACV and Replacement Cost policies. Then you can decide which option fits your needs and

Another thing to keep in mind is that jewelry, valuable collections, and guns are usually covered under a separate policy or “rider”. If you own these kinds of items, be sure to tell your insurance agent. You don’t want to find out after disaster strikes that they aren’t covered or that they aren’t covered for their true value.

One way you can reduce the cost of your rental insurance is to check with whichever company insures your car. If they provide rental insurance you may be eligible for a multi-line discount. Rental insurance may be worth the investment just for the peace of mind it offers you.

Kyle Thomas Haley of has been helping people relocate on the Internet since 1999 with Relocation Websites such as: Copyright 1999 – 2005 STANZEEKAY Inc.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Get a better mortgage refinance deal than your local bank offers by Mansi gupta

Gone are the days when money could be fetched either by mere mortgaging or financing something. Now it is time to get money via an amalgam of the two i.e. Mortgage Refinance. Mortgage refinance is a smart idea to have a good credit sum and repay it in an easy fashion. In simple terms a refinanced mortgage is one where a borrower repays a previous loan by taking a new one. The main motive behind refinance mortgage is to get a lower interest rate, lowering their payments or to take cash out of their home equity. So basically in mortgage refinance refers to taking a secured loan to replace the existing loan that is secured via some assets of yours.

Let us first delve into the factors that instigate a refinanced mortgage. There are several reasons that instigate people to opt for refinance. For instance

(a) Mortgage refinance reduces the interest rate on your mortgage. It not only minimizes your EMIs or monthly installments but also brings down the total amount that you need to repay.

(b) Another wonderful feature of mortgage refinance is the reduction in the tenure of the loan, which is immensely effective in saving lot many bucks.

(c) Mortgage refinance is a smart idea to consolidate or fuse the amount you need to repay.

(d) Mortgages refinance serves you with the most essential thing i.e. cash in hand. You can draw on an equity built up in the house to acquire cash amount for several purposes such as your daughter's marriage, child education etc.

(e) If you want to have an adjustable-rate mortgage i.e. ARM and a fixed-rate loan in order to ensure you regarding the mortgage payment, mortgage refinance is a brilliant idea.

However there are other things to be taken into consideration. First and foremost mortgage refinancing can be recommended if the present rate on your mortgage is at least 2 percentage points higher than the existing market rate. Second you need to know that for how long you propose to stay in the house. Third you need to know that according to many sources given the costs of refinancing, it takes at least three years to realize completely the savings made from a relatively lower interest rate. Finally in order to go for mortgage refinance is to enlist complete expenditure of refinance and calculate your monthly installments. Knowing this will enable you to decide whether you should opt for refinance or not.

Well before going for a mortgage refinance you can also ask yourself questions ponder over questions such as- by how much will your existing monthly installment be lowered, what will be the financing cost that you will have to pay, how much will you owe in the house and for how much was the initial payment for the house made etc. Once after going through the various factors and conditions you feel it is appropriate to go for a mortgage refinance (which is true with most of the cases) then the first step is to consult a good real estate agent, mortgage lender as well as an attorney and other legal practitioners. Searching online is even an excellent option.

About the Author
Mansi gupta writes about mortgage refinance .

How to Protect Yourself from a Real Estate Bubble by Buying Foreclosures by Tony Lorenzo

It's not really a matter of "if" it's really a matter of "when" this run-up in housing prices will stop. It's difficult to exactly time any market but as home sales continue to climb prices should follow. When supply exceeds demand, well, you get the picture. There are some areas of the country where home prices are more outrageous than others, so some areas may be harder hit than others. With that said, let's look at some ways of protecting ourselves from this inevitable misfortune: For home-owners who plan on living in their homes, first and foremost, you need to get over thinking of your home as an investment. Unless you have substantial equity built up, any downturn in home prices could make you upside down on your loan, making you owe more than your home is worth, which would mean you have a balance due on your loan if you tried to sell it. If you plan on living in you home for the long term, this wouldn't be so bad. If you only plan on living in a home for a few years you may want to consider renting for a while. Building up equity in your home is easier than you think. For one, stay away from adjustable rate mortgages. As interest rates climb, so will your payments. This isn't a fun thing to see while your home value is decreasing. Next, get a copy of your amortization chart from your lender, which shows how much of each payment is interest and how much is principle. The principle is usually a very small amount compared to the interest, in the earlier years. Take next months' principle and add it to this months' payment and it will actually knock one months' payment off the life of your loan! You will have to request a new amortization chart when you make your next payment because your loan will be re-amortized. If you are a first time homebuyer, put down as big of a down payment as you can. Buying an overpriced home with a small down payment leaves you vulnerable to a downturn in housing prices. Without a big down payment you should consider renting for a while, unless you can get a house at a steep discount. The best way I know of to buy a house at a steep discount is to buy foreclosures. Foreclosures offer the best chance of buying a house at a steep discount and therefore protect yourself from any downfall in price.

About the Author
Tony Lorenzo has written sveral articles on a variety of subjects. This article on the REAL ESTATE BUBBLE compliments his website that helps people gain valuble information about FORECLOSURES

Choosing A House Plan For Your Dream Home by Amber Lowery

First things first, when choosing a house plan you must first find the land that you will be building on. Not all designs will look right or even fit on certain lots, so in order to insure that your

dream home will be a good fit for your lot, you must first purchase the land on which you will be building.

When purchasing the lot, you have several things to consider.

Location - As the real estate agents say - "location, location, location". Whenever you are dealing with Real Estate, the location is a very important factor in deciding for or against a particular lot. You will of course want a lot that is within a reasonable distance from your place of business. If you have children or plan to, you will want to research the schools as well. Also, you will want to make sure that the land that you are investing in is going to rise in value. Investing in land in an

area with upward growth potential is a great way to insure the value of your property will rise.

Budget - Your lot must fit within the budget you have set for yourself. You must also take into consideration whether you are purchasing "raw land" or whether the lot has already been prepped for building. A piece of property can initially seem like a bargain until you later find out that allot needs to be done before you an get a permit to build.

Community - You want to choose a community that has zoning laws that allow you to build the type of home you are planning on. Some communities have home owners associations that may need to first approve any improvements you want to make on your land. If this will bother you, you nay want to seek

out a lot that is not under the jurisdiction of such associations.

Once you have purchased the land that you plan to build on, you are ready to select a house plan for your dream home. If you are looking to purchase a pre-made home plan, you may have to make some small compromises as your ideas may not fit into what is available. Another alternative is to purchase a pre-made house plan and later have it modified to suit your particular needs and tastes by a architect. Do know that this will not be without a rather sizable expense, however it may still be more cost effective than if you were to have a plan built from scratch.

When choosing a house plan, you will want to keep in mind several key points...

Your Families Needs - If you have children, you will have additional considerations than singes or retired people. You will need to know how many bedrooms and bathrooms your family requires. Do you need a playroom for your children? Do you or your partner need a home office room? Now is the time to think towards the future and the upcoming needs of your family. When in doubt, build bigger. Nothing could be worse than building the home of your dreams only to find ten years later that it no longer is suitable for your growing family. Talk with your partner and decide now what your family needs may be and plan accordingly.

Building Code - As with anything, you can expect to face a significant amount of red tape as you plan to build your dream home. You need to talk with your contractor and make sure that the house plan that you choose will not conflict with your local zoning laws and home owners association rules and regulations.

Budget - You should know by now how much house you can afford. Don't sway from the initial budget that you have set for yourself. There is a wide selection of unique and architecturally stunning house plans within every size range.

Style - You probably already have in mind the style of home that you want. If not, browse thru some pre made house plans to get an idea of what type of style you and your partner like the best. Try to picture the different styles on your lot. Does it look like a good fit?

As you can see, choosing a house plan for your dream home is a fun, but serious matter. Try to plan ahead at all times and think towards the future. It takes allot of work before you even break ground, but in the end it will all pay off when you are left with your own dream home.

About the Author
This article was written by Amber Lowery for Home PlansOnline. For even more great articles on home plans, or to search for a pre madedream home plan for your project, visit

5 Ways To Advertise Your Real Estate Business by David Riewe

With the introduction of new products and the growth of the purchasing power of the people continually escalates, it can be said that the advertising industry became fully energized. That's why even with the dawn of the new technology, advertising still continues to dominate the business world. As most business people asserts, business can never succeed without advertising.

And so, in the real estate business, advertising remains to proliferate with more ways that could increase productivity.

However, for those who still don't know how to maximize the potential of advertising in increasing their real estate sales, here are some ways to brood over:

1. Web site listings.

Real estate businesses may consider the benefits of advertising their products or services online. In this manner, they could even increase their market share by accessing those who cannot be reached by simple ways of promotions and advertising.

People behind the real estate business may choose from the different web site listings available in the Internet today.

2. Search engines registration.

Real estate businessmen may also opt for the sear engines that are available in the Internet. With a reasonable amount, real estate businesses may promote their products online and may get more exposure through search engines. Two of the most common search engines are Google and Yahoo. So, if the business is listed at these sites, chances are they'll reap more profits than they could imagine.

3. Banner ads.

Banner ads are those ads that appear on top of a certain sponsoring website. It contains the business' name and the hyperlink that connects the customer to the business' site.

In this way, real estate entrepreneurs may take the chance of increasing their exposure online by letting the people know that they exist.

4. Emails.

Real estate businesses may also resort to this kind of advertising. Though, special considerations should be made when constructing emails so that it will not be categorized as spam.

Also, to maximize the use of this advertising technique, the real estate business must also have an email list of their potential buyers.

5. The basics.

It still pays to be traditional. In fact, one of the best ways to advertise a product is to use the traditional method of advertising - the print and the broadcast advertisements. There are people who would rather see the ads on television or in newspapers than online.

But whatever type of advertising a real estate business use, one thing is bound to help them boost their sales and profit. It just needs the skill to decide which would go best with the business.

About the Author
David Riewe is a Publisher and Online Marketer. Visit his Real Estate Blog Save $$$ Selling Your Own Home FREE eBook Shows You How!

How to Deal with a Noisy Neighbor by dan the roommate man

Your heart starts pounding... breathing becomes labored, and your head starts to ache. You wipe the sweat from your forehead and try to gather your thoughts. Have you just had a heart attack? Not at all. This is your body's reaction to excessive noise.

"Studies of the physiological and psychological effects of noise...indicate that protracted noise can impair one's hearing, dry the mouth, dilate pupils, raise cholesterol, elevate blood pressure, burden the heart. Constant noise can bring on irritability, depression, aggression. It can interfere with the learning ability of children," N.R. Kleinfield writes in the article New York Quiet? Never. Quieter? Maybe. Listen up. published in the New York Times.

Apartment renters are even more susceptible to hearing loss because the noise levels are intensified in smaller spaces. Once sound enters the apartment, the wall connecting you to your neighbor vibrates - acting like a giant speaker.

If you share a wall with a noisy neighbor, you should take these steps - in order - to try and solve the problem:

1. Tell the neighbor - politely - that you can hear their stereo/TV/voices/running screaming kids/etc. There's a good chance they don't realize that they are being too loud. Ideally the problem will be fixed, and you can rest easy. Write down the date on which you confronted your neighbor - you never know when you might need it again.

2. If you receive a negative response, or no response at all, approach your neighbors again, but this time supply them with a copy of your lease. Chances are, there is a clause within the lease stating your right to "quiet enjoyment." You might also give them a copy of your local noise laws. Sometimes there are fines for excess noise. You can find your local noise laws at city hall, a public law library or the public library. Give your neighbor one dated copy of the lease and/or ordinance laws and keep a second copy (these are good for your records if the problem continues.)

3. No luck? This time you'll need to give your neighbor a letter informing them that you are willing to take this problem to the landlord. A letter might look like this:

Dear Suzy Neighbor,

On January 5, 2000, I talked to you about the excessive noise coming from your apartment. I informed you that the Twister Parties lasting until 5am violate the local noise laws, the lease, and disrupt my sleep. I asked if you would please lower your volume or else move the parties to a more reasonable hour. This request was ignored, and on January 11, 2000, I provided you with a copy of the local noise laws and our lease - both of which provide me with a right to "quiet enjoyment." Once again, my request has been ignored, and if by January 20th, nothing has changed, I will need to approach the landlord with this problem. I hope we reach an agreement before I am forced to contact the landlord.

Thank You For Your Time, Joe Tenant

4. Still no luck? It's time to tattle. No one wants to be the Narc... but this may be the only way to live peacefully. Make a copy of the letter, and discuss the problem with your landlord. For additional support (and so you don't feel like such a tattle tail) you might want to ask your other neighbors if the noise is bothering them, too. You might be able to get a petition signed by the other neighbors, and arguing with a group will typically lead to faster results. Regardless of whether or not you can get support from your neighbors, if the noise is bothering you, don't just learn to live with it! Living with excessive noise could actually be a threat to your health.

Once the problem is in the landlord's hands, you can de-stress a little bit. It's amazing how quiet those parties will get once the host has to worry about eviction! And if the noise-maker doesn't listen to the landlord, maybe your new neighbors will respect the "quiet enjoyment" law a little better than the last ones!

About the Author
Since 1989 dan the roommate man has helped 1000's of people find rooms,apartments or roommates. Need help? Contact him at 800-487-8050 or

Things To Know About Realtors by Sintilia Miecevole

A realtor is the designation accorded to a member of the National Association of Realtors (NAR). NAR is the largest trade association of America. It has about 1 million members. The membership to the association is voluntary therefore it contains many other group members apart from the realtors. The idea behind the formation of this union is to utilize the land in a wise and best possible way.

The real estate professionals who are members of the NAR have to adhere to a code of ethics. The code of ethics is inclusive of duties to clients, customers, public and other realtors. The main motive is to promote the best interests of the client, be it the buyer, seller, landlord or tenant. The realtors are expected not to mislead their clients in order to book higher profits. The realtor is entitled to represent both the parties, seller and buyer; and landlord and tenant in case of full disclosure to both of them.

It is mandatory for the realtors to submit the offers and counter-offers as soon as possible. The realtors are not supposed to disclose information about the clients, which works to their disadvantage, or in case a third party stands to benefit from that information. However, realtor can disclose confidential information in the following cases: upon consent of the clients or the order of court or to disclose the ulterior motives of the client or to defend themselves against wrong accusations.

The clients should know the fact that the fees for preparing appraisals or valuations do not depend upon the amount of appraisal or valuation. Although realtors are expected to avoid misstating the facts or hiding useful information it is not obligatory for them to find out the defects in the property. Hence it is important to get the property checked by a third party inspector.

In case the realtor seeks information from other realtors it is mandatory for them to disclose their realtor status and clarify the nature of interest, whether it is personal or on the behalf of a client. The realtors are not supposed to misrepresent the availability of access to a particular property. When acquiring properties from their immediate families or friends the realtors have to disclose their true position to the concerned parties.

You are entitled to know the financial fee or benefits that the realtors get on the basis of recommending real estate products or services such as insurance or mortgage financing. The realtors are expected to give equal services to every person regardless of their race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, or national origin.

About the Author
Click on to and join host, Sintilia Miecevole on a most resourceful site about a realtor; agents, brokers, properties, houses for sale, foreclosures amd much more. Visit to further your realtor information.

Monday, October 10, 2005

When is the Right Time to Invest In Real Estate? by Bruce W. Ford

You know what I'm going to say, right? I bet you think I'm going to say that it's always a good time to invest in real estate.

Well, I'm not.

There are rare occasions when you should not be buying property...or selling for that matter. Simply put, you should not buy or sell property if you are in an area, or encomonic times are such that property is loosing value.

Granted, this isn't very often and is usually very localized...the Southern California market crash of a few years back comes to mind.

If that happens in your area, just hold what you've got. Don't buy or sell until things improve. The rebound can often be quite profitable!

Now, the flipside of that is, if property IS going up in value, maintain your steady approach to building your wealth by increasing your real estate inventory.

This applies even if the housing market is tight, slow, a buyers or a sellers market or even if it's considered booming. All that doesn't matter. Just maintain your investment criteria and keep your hooks in the water looking for property.

When the economy slows, typically housing appreciation slows, but doesn't stop or go in reverse. So, real estate remains a great investment vehicle through good times and bad. Here's a very simple example comparing real estate investing to a really good stock/mutual fund/401K investment.

Let's say I have $100,000 invested in a security such as a stock, bonds, 401K.

If I make 10% on that money...a GREAT return these days...then I make $10,000 off that investment per year.

To make that same $10,000 with real estate, it takes much less, or none of my own money. That makes real estate investment a much smarter play.

Let's say I am going to buy a property that, once repaired, will be worth $100,000. I typically buy property at around 55% of the as-repaired value (a rough average). So, in our example, I am buy this property for $55,000. My 70% loan-to-value loan gets me $70,000 which covers my closing and some or all of the rehab...usually all.

Once the rehab is completed and a renter in, I refinance this property at a 90% loan-to-value level and pocket around $8-10,000.

If I go this route (keeping the property and renting it), I retain the tax benefits year after year, and not only have I made $8-10,000K from it already on the refinance, it continues going up in value. Given a 5% appreciation rate, which is conservative for most areas, I stand to make around $5-6000 per year. This means if I sell this property 4 years down the road, I stand to make another $20-30,000 or more.

So, in our example, the house I had very little or none of my own money in, now stands to make me around $30,000 NOT including the tax break I enjoy from it.

This is one property, I have more than one, so apply this rough formula to the values in your area, and do it for the number of properties you want to hold in your inventory. The numbers get pretty good, don't they?

Let's take our example another way. Let's say I have $100,000 to invest like our original example. Instead of putting that into the markets, you decide to control as much property with it as possible.

Let's say I decide I can live with putting $5,000 into the purchase of each property. So, I buy and rehab 20 properties with that $100,000. Let's just assume each property is worth $100,000 when repaired. So, that $100,000 controls you $2,000,000 worth of property. (Note that it may take a couple of years to find, buy and rehab 20 properties that fit your criteria!)

Let's assume you re-fi these from your hard money and can only pull out $5000 per property (remember I put in $5000 of my own money in these for the purposes of the example).

From the re-financing, you'll put $100,000 in your pocket recouping your original investment ($5,000 per property). The rest is gravy, and here it is.

IF you average your 5% appreciation, you are making, you are making $100,000 per year. Not bad!

If you are making just $100 per property as positive cash flow (rent minus mortgage + taxes + insurance), then you are making $2000 additional per month.

I'm not including what you'll save with taxes.

Sure, you have to be a landlord for a few years, or pay someone to be. Sure, there will be headaches along the way.

But, let's say you decide to sell off all 20 properties 4 years later and you average a $25,000 profit from each...

You will have made $96,000 from the positive cash flow

You will have made $500,000 from the 5% appreciation

You will have saved thousands on your taxes annually

I'll take real estate investment any day!

About the Author
Bruce W. Ford is a Editor of and is an ACTIVE rehab real estate investor.

Methods for Renting a Furnished Apartment by Ispas Marin

If you are in need of an apartment for rental for a shorter period of time you should consider to apply for a furnished apartment. This way the whole process will be cheaper and you could save money for other urgent needs. There are many offers for furnished apartments so all you have to do is see them and decide upon the one which best suits you.

Main issues to be considered when renting a furnished apartment

At first you should decide on the precise location of the apartment so that it would be close to your workplace or educational institution. Moreover you should program your standards such as the price for rental, the space provided, the items to be furnished. The place to look for these furnished apartments is the Internet or the local newspapers which can provide also a description.In order to save some money consider using the free services of an apartment agent who will send you a list of the furnished apartments which meet your expectances.Use the telephone number provided by every announcement so as to arrange some appointments for visiting the selected locations and apartments. In addition, you should pay attention to all the details such as: parking, area markets and so on. Don't forget to read the contract very carefully before you sign it so that every term of it to suit you.


Furthermore, the utility costs like: water, sewer, electricity TV cable, trash or gas, may be or not be included in your rent payment. You have to be aware of this aspect of your contract or ask what utilities are included. This aspect has to be included in your contract. What you do not see in it does not exist. The contract is a sort of binding document for you and the landlord. Ask a specialized person to look over it so as to prevent any illegal demands from the landlord. Before signing a contract which does not comprise the details regarding the utilities, ask the landlord for the estimated price for them to see if you can afford. The apartament's location may be a very expensive one and you can face the unpleasant situation of not being able to pay for the electricity bill.

For a long-termed contract it is advisable for you to rent an unfurnished apartment, while the furnished apartments are suitable only for short-term contracts. Make sure to decide upon the length of the contract before looking for a furnished or unfurnished apartment.

About the Author
For Dubai furnished apartments & villas for rent for business or holiday use just visit us at

Best Buy to Let Mortgage Calculators by Jennifer Tweed

It would be easy to start saying just how easy it is to become a landlord and earn income from UK investment property and how you can simply sit back and watch the profit tumble in like a cascading waterfall. The reality is that there are a number of key issues that you will have to be involved in to ensure your investment property portfolio works to its optimum. With tenants to source and vet, an investment property to maintain, buy to let mortgages to arrange, letting agents to manage and accounts to monitor, it does take a certain level of commitment. So if you are still keen to have a slice of the much talked about property game then you will want to read on to find out how to get started?

Firstly, you need to establish if this is the right time for you to become a landlord and how much it is going to cost you. Can you afford to tie up money in a property? If the worst comes to the worst, can you afford to lose that money?

The simplest way to work out the repayments on a buy to let mortgage is to use an on-line buy to let mortgage calculator. These can help you work out the best buy to let mortgage product for the type of UK investment property you are considering and your individual circumstances. You will need to know the likely rent that can be achieved for the property as this will determine the maximum loan amount available against the purchase price or refinancing value of the buy to let property. Lenders normally suggest that the rental income each month represents at least 130 per cent of the monthly mortgage payment. Although there are some buy to let products calculated on ratios of as little as 115%. By working on these calculations, gives the investor a margin to cover the letting agent's fees and other associated costs.

This is a long-term investment and you need to take the same approach to investing money into a house or flat as you would to buying into the stock market. Historically the value of properties have doubled every 10-15 years but that doesn't mean to say that there won't be peaks and troughs in between. These are times that you have to be prepared and most importantly can afford to ride through.

Increasing your returns by using buy to let finance to your advantage

For example, lets say you have £100,000 cash to invest into Investment Property. Is it best to buy a property outright or use this money as deposits on multiple buy to let properties?

Mr Jones - decides to use his £100,000 to purchase a brand new property outright for cash. He lets the property for £600 per month giving a return of £7,200 per annum. Due to inflation, the rent will increase accordingly and eventually, after fluctuations in the property market, the house doubles in value.

Mr Smith - decides to use £100,000 as deposits (15% for each investment property) to buy £500,000 worth of properties similar to the one Mr Jones bought. This results in Mr Smith receiving five times as much rental income, i.e. £3,000 per month or £36,000 per annum. The other £400,000 is borrowed on buy to let mortgages and Mr Smith pays interest on this at a rate of approximately 5%. These monthly interest only repayments would work out to be £20,000 per annum. Therefore, net of interest they receive £16,000 per annum. Mr Smith is already better off than Mr Jones..... but what happens in years to come? Well it is probably safe to say that Mr Jones's rental income will rise with inflation as per Mr Smith. However, Mr Smith's buy to let mortgage costs remain the same. Therefore, the gap between Mr Jones and Mr Smith's rental income will continue to widen as time goes on. And finally after 10-15 years when property could have doubled again. Mr Jones would have made a capital gain of £100,000 and have £200,000 worth of investment property. Whereas, Mr Smith would have made £500,000, which is five times as much capital gain!!

The most successful landlords will use some of the best buy to let mortages to fund their buy to lets and with buy to let mortgage products becoming more sophisticated and competitive the right buy to let financing can ensure you maintain your investment property portfolios in such a way that you are always working to the most optimum cashflow situation.

Best Buy to Let Mortgages

Finding the best buy to let mortgage is crucial to your success as a property investor. Unlike other forms of investment, a lot of the money you put into a buy to let property is likely to be borrowed. Over the last few years, the buy to let mortgage market has boomed, and borrowing money to invest in this way has become easier than ever. There are a number of different buy to let mortgage products available from fixed rates, discounted variable rates, discounted rates and so on. Different products may be suitable for different investment properties. And don't be tempted to just go for the cheapest buy to let mortgage as there may be penalties that make it less attractive in the long term.

Always find out the best buy to let mortgage deals available at the time. Some investors may decide to retain their entire portfolio with one lender, but it's important to realize that different buy to let products between different lenders can provide you with maximum flexibility and cashlow depending on how you structure your funding.

However it is very important that you get the correct guidance with your buy to let finance. You will often find that buy to let mortgage brokers have access to numerous different products and lenders and some can even offer exclusive products that wouldn't necessarily be available to you if you approached the buy to let lender directly.

Questions that are worth considering when finding the best buy to let mortgage:

1. Do they have access to lots of different products in the market place? 2. Do they have the ability to create a long term property development strategy for you? 3. Are they able to secure Exclusive Products? 4. Are they able to arrange mortgages within 10 working days? Most buy to let lenders will offer a maximum loan of 85% requiring you to fund at least a 15% deposit towards your UK investment property. The buy to let mortgage industry is very competitive with new products being launched on a very regular basis.

Some buy to let mortgage brokers may charge a brokerage fee up to 2% to arrange the buy to let finance for you but don't let this put you off because if they do have the ability to secure exclusive products for you, it could be very beneficial to your cashflow as a landlord. Plus, if they are able to reach formal mortgage offer stage in a very short space of time, this could result in you being able to secure the investment property at very competitive prices if you have the ability to tell the vendor that you can have the deal completed within a matter of a few weeks.

How much you can borrow for the buy to let property will usually be worked out differently to how much you can borrow to buy your main home. Different lenders and different products carry different criteria for working out the maximum loans available. Some will lend on how much you earn, others on the rental income you achieve from the investment property. And sometimes a combination of the two.

How much rent will you make?

Before you agree on the purchase price of a buy to let property, it is important to find out from local letting agents, what the likely rent could be. They should be able to let you know which types of property are in highest demand and which areas are the most sought after for tenants. If you need to find out whether your potential buy to let is looking like a good investment, ask your broker/lender to work out the yield (ie the money you are investing and the rental income you will receive) on the property against what your repayments are likely to be. I you are investing in an up and coming area, it could still be a viable investment despite the figures not looking too healthy today. If you believe that the area will be having a lot of other investment or new businesses moving in, then there is the possibility that the surrounding property market will have a positive knock on effect. When the valuation is carried out on the property, the surveyor who visits the property will also be expected to give an assessment of the expected rent as well as the value of the property.

A local letting agent is the best person to approach for this kind of information - especially if you hint that you might let them be the property's management agent.

About the Author
Jennifer Tweed is the founder of, one of the UK's first property portals dedicated to all types of investment property for sale and everything you should need for your sale and purchase. Learn more about buy to let

Tips For Successful Apartment Hunting by Paul Smith

The hunt for an apartment may seem like an extremely challenging ordeal, but it does not have to be. People looking for an apartment usually have a good experience if they educate themselves on what to look out for, and they have a good idea of what type of apartment they want. The best tool for finding an apartment efficiently is having knowledge. Here are some helpful tips to consider when looking for an apartment.

1. Make sure you know what you want. People who are not sure about what they want can easily get swindled into bad deals. If you want a 2-bedroom apartment, then don't settle for less. If you know what area of city you want to live in, be sure to stick to your ground. Too many people are very indecisive. Indecisiveness is a weakness that many people try to take advantage of. Knowing what you're looking for is the first key to success.

2. Use all your resources. Apartments are listed in newspapers, free magazines, small ads, and even "for rent" signs in the front yard. Exploring all options will allow the apartment seeker to have the greatest amount to choose from. The more apartments you have to choose from, the better the chance that you will find the apartment that is perfect for you.

3. Visit the apartment. Too many people sign on the dotted line without ever actually seeing the apartment or the neighborhood. Take time to travel to the apartment and maybe even meet some fellow tenants or neighbors. Actually experiencing the apartment and its surroundings can help make any decision easier. Checking the apartment out can also help avoid pitfalls. Some elements may seem appealing on paper, but are not as such in real life.

4. Additionally, when you are visiting the apartment, do not be afraid of scrutinizing every aspect of the apartment. Look for cracks, bugs, dirty spots, and any other flaws. Be sure to ask the landlord about previous tenants. One of the worst things that can happen to someone is that they rent an apartment and realize that there are major problems that have to be fixed. These problems often cost the renter exurbanite amounts of money. If possible, see how the other tenants like the apartment. Even invite a friend or family member along when you are visiting the apartment. The more opinions you have, the better.

5. Read your contract! Before signing a contract, make sure that you understand what services you are entitled to and all of the costs. Many people have foolishly signed contracts and didn't realize that they were paying for utilities, or other services. Additionally, make sure you have a fair rent worked out with your landlord. Avoid paying too much for your apartment at all costs. If they advertise the apartment for one price, make sure that that's the price you are expected to pay.

The search for an apartment can sometimes seem very daunting. Some people will try to swindle you and charge you too much, or charge you hidden fees. Being educated about what you are looking for, and scrutinizing the apartment diligently can help protect you from paying too much or having a bad apartment. If you educate yourself, than your apartment search should be simple and enjoyable.

About the Author
Paul Smith writes about a variety of real estate topics, but is presently focusing on how to find a good London apartment.

Can Tenants Stop Paying Rent? by

One of the most frustrating things about being a tenant is the lack of power in the landlord tenant relationship. A tenant does have one source of power, the rent payment. Can a tenant stop paying rent to the landlord?

Most jurisdictions permit tenants to withhold rent and place the funds into an escrow account with the court or other state agency when a landlord is not maintaining property and the property is in need of repair. If the landlord does not make the needed repairs, the tenant may be able to break the lease.

In most instances, a tenant cannot simply withhold rent without court action pending. It may be necessary for you to file suit against the landlord. You should always speak with a lawyer well versed in landlord tenant law before withholding rent from your landlord.

If a tenant decides to stop paying rent becase the landlord is not in compliance with the lease, the first thing the tenant needs to do is make the landlord aware of the reasons for not paying the rent. Ideally, the tenant should send written notice of the defective condition and the landlord's non-compliance with the lease well in advance of the tenant's decision to withhold rent.

Advance written notice of a tenant's intention to stop rent payment may show the landlord how serious the tenant is about non-compliance on the part of the landlord. Written notice of defective lease conditions or non-compliance with lease terms also provide a paper trail for future court action.

About the Author is a free online resource solution provided by Digital World Incorporated to help Landlords and Tenants with important questions about their landlord and tenant legal rights.

Real Estate Rentals: A Passive Investment Technique by Teve Torbes

Real estate can be a great way to make a turn-key investment in property, but you need to go in with your eyes open. Otherwise, you could end up losing your nest egg.

To invest in real estate, you need to have a rainy day fund. Things happen - you're the landlord now, and you'll have to pay if something goes wrong. If you need to fix the walls, the plumbing, or pay for flea control, you'll want to have some money set aside. If you're handy, you can cut these costs down, but you can't eliminate them entirely.

You also need to make sure you're not paying too much. Don't buy in a super-expensive area - go for something in an "up and coming" place where you can get a good deal and watch property values rise in the future. If you get locked into a real estate bubble, you may not make your investment back. You need a place where your rental income will cover the mortgage with a cushion for emergencies.

Also, make sure to trust the company that is handling the property for you. Property management can be a great deal - it saves you from all of the hassle. But don't just go with any random, fly by night company. Call reputable realtors and ask their opinion about companies in your area. They can probably give you a good referral, and it'll be worth your time if you can find someone who will manage it well - after all, you're dependant on them to make sure your property is filled with tenants.

About the Author
Teve Torbes is an expert owner of a flea control site, who knows a whole lot about flea bites. He has also created a valuable inflatable air mattress site.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Facts about Renters Insurance by Brian Walker

If you rent an apartment or house, you might consider purchasing renters insurance.

Renters insurance provides coverage for damage or loss of personal property for people in rental housing. It's to insure the renter's belongings from theft or damage. In addition, renters insurance also provides liability coverage for people in rental housing if somebody is injured while in the rental place. In this case, the renter is sheltered from lawsuits or liability for the problems cause by him/her.

Renters insurance can help you if one of the following things happens to you: your apartment catches on fire and your belongings are lost or damaged; you get stolen from a theft who breaks into your apartment; a friend of you injures himself while having a party in your apartment; an electrical power surge damages your television, stereo and computer. While renters insurance has a broad coverage, keep in mind that earthquake and damage caused by food are not covered in most renters insurance policy.

Many renters think their landlord's insurance will cover them. This is not true. In general, the landlord's insurance only covers the building, but not the renter's belongings and liability.

Renters insurance is not expensive. For example, a policy that costs around $300 a year (with a deductible of about $250) could cover between $20,000 and $30,000 worth of loss or damage, plus $500,000 to $1 million in personal liability.

To shop for renters insurance, you should try getting quotes from different insurance providers in order to find the best deal. You can check with your auto insurance company to see if they also sell renters insurance and whether the will give you a discount for buying two types of insurance from them.

Renters insurance is often overlooked by people renting an apartment or house, but it's a renter's good friend and it will give you the peace of mind.

About the Author
Brian Walker is a freelance writer who has written many self-help articles. Check out more apartment living guide at Apartment Rental Finder ( ) and 101 Apartment For Rent ( ).

What To Look For In A Home by Nicole Soltau

Searching for just the right home can be very exciting. You may plan ahead for the number of bedrooms and bathrooms that you want. Or imagine preparing for dinner parties in a sun-filled kitchen. Although these things are important, there is more to a good home purchase than the rooms it contains. Following are just a few suggestions to consider. Take some time to make a list and determine which additional priorities are important to you.

Survey the neighborhood during many different times of the day and days of the week. Are you comfortable with the noise, activity levels, traffic volume, etc.?

If you have, or plan to have children, check with the local school board about the neighborhood schools. What is the student/teacher ratio? How are the test scores? How involved are the parents? What programs are available for students? What credentials and how much experience do teachers bring to the task?

Is the foundation of your new home sound? Is it well built?

Are the existing appliances sound or will they need to be replaced?

Are the home's major systems such as electricity, plumbing, heating/air, and roofing in good condition?

Is the home energy efficient?

How much major and/or cosmetic work will be required?

What will your commute look like? If possible, do a trial run during rush hour.

What is the crime rate?

What permits have been issued for new projects and/or construction in your new neighborhood?

Will you be expected to pay homeowner association fees? Are you comfortable with the covenants set forth?

Does the neighborhood provide sufficient recreational opportunities?

Will you be moving into a home or joining a community?

Is the local grocer clean and well-stocked?

Enlist the help of a good real estate agent, reputable home inspectors and others to help find a home with more than just a pretty face.

Beyond Mortgage Payments

Owning a home involves far more than keeping current with your mortgage payments. There are a number of costs associated with home ownership that extend far beyond the basics (i.e. principal, interest, taxes and insurance). Assuming responsibility for these costs can be a big financial adjustment. This is particularly true if, as a renter, you are accustomed to responding only to fixed expenses (i.e. rent) without much concern for variable expenses (i.e. broken pipes and new water heaters). Well, now you are the landlord and it is up to you to handle the mortgage, in addition to all of the variable expenses of home ownership.

Routine and emergency maintenance issues are an inevitable part of homeownership. The dishwasher will need to be replaced, the roof may begin to leak, or the furnace will give out. You can minimize the financial fallout by planning ahead and budgeting in anticipation of these expenses. Recommendations vary, but you would do well to save an amount equal to at least 2% of the cost of your home for annual upkeep and maintenance. Set aside funds toward this amount each month. In this way you will eliminate the scramble and panic of getting the funds together to get that tree off of your roof.

In addition to maintenance and upkeep, there may be other costs you will need to absorb. These include water, sewer and sanitation expense; homeowner's insurance, and property taxes. It is important to understand the full cost of home ownership before you sign on the dotted line. You can build confidence in your ability to handle these new expenses by making a trial run. Do your best to estimate the total cost of home ownership. Use that information to make a budget. Before you sign on the dotted line, live within that new budget and see how well you manage. You may find that you have adequate financial resources, that's great. If you find that you are a bit short, you may need to make some adjustments. Being proactive now may help you avoid foreclosure in the future.

About the Author
Nicole Soltau is the President and Founder of - The Leading Credit Union Directory Search, Find Join.

How To Find Investment Properties by Steve Gillman

If you really want the best deals in investment properties, you have to increase your odds by finding more deals. Who is more likely to get a cheap apartment building, an investor that looks through the MLS listings and calls it a day, or the one that uses ten resources? Here are the ten:

1. Talk. Let people know you are looking and sometimes the properties will come to you. There are a lot of owners out there who want to sell, but haven't yet listed their property.

2. Use the internet. Go to a search engine and enter the type of real estate you are looking for, along with the city you want to invest in. You never know what you might find.

3. Drive around looking for "For Sale By Owner" signs. Owners often don't want to pay to keep the ad in the paper every week, so you won't see all properties there.

4. Find abandoned properties. That's a pretty clear sign that the owner doesn't want to deal with the property. He might sell cheap.

5. Find old "For Rent" ads. Call if they are a few weeks old. Landlords are often ready to sell, especially if the haven't yet rented the units out.

6. Talk to bankers. You might get a foreclosed-on investment property cheaper if you buy it before they list it with a real estate agent.

7. Offer someone a finder's fee. There are people that always seem to hear about the good deals. Have such people coming to you.

8. Eviction notices. If your local papers publish eviction notices, or if you can get the information at the courthouse, it can be useful. A landlord who just went through the procees of evicting tenants is a likely seller.

9. Old FSBO ads. If you call on two-month-old "For sale By Owner" ads, and they haven't sold, they may be ready to deal. Owners often give up the effort, but still would love to sell. Help them out!

10. Put an ad in the paper. "Looking for investment properties to buy," might be sufficient to generate a few calls.

About the Author
Steve Gillman has invested real estate for years. To learn more, and to see a photo of a beautiful house he and his wife bought for $17,500, visit

Get More By Offering Seller Financing by Steve Gillman

An example of seller financing: Years ago I bought a rental property, and nine months later sold it for 15% more, without fixing or improving a thing. The easy terms are what sold it. I took $1000 down, and I still get a payment every month, with 9% interest.

Four Reasons To Offer Seller Financing

1. To get a higher price. As you can see from the example above, buyers pay for easy terms. From the buyers perspective, he gets a place for almost nothing, that the renters will pay for. He comes out okay even if he later sold it for less than he bought it for.

2. To get a decent return on your money. The 9% I'm getting is nice, but the true return was much higher, since I also sold the property for 15% more than I paid, and I get 9% on the entire balance. In fact, for a great return without the headaches of being a landlord, you can simply buy low for cash and sell high with terms.

3. To sell faster. Anytime you expand the potential market for a property, you increase the odds of selling it fast. Selling with easy terms definitely invites more buyers to look at your real estate.

4. To sell difficult properties. If you have a property that is difficult to finance conventionally, offering seller financing may be the only way get it sold, and at a fair price.

Of course the ways you can sell are limited by mortgages and other loans. I owned the rental free and clear, which meant I could sell it any way I wanted. There are other ways to use seller financing though, even if you owe on the property. There are ways to do this safely too. Those topics are for another article.

About the Author
Steve Gillman has invested real estate for years. To learn more, and to see a photo of a beautiful house he and his wife bought for $17,500, visit

How To Be A Slumlord by Steve Gillman

Be a slumlord? Okay, I got your attention, now the truth. I really don't recommend that anyone endanger their renters with unsafe housing. Much of what people call slumlording though, is simply providing reasonable housing for those with low incomes. It is of benefit to the renter AND the landlord.

Why Do People Rent Dumps?

People rent not-so-nice places because they can afford to. A house that needs paint, has old rusty hinges on the doors, and a dirt driveway - this is a house that cost less to buy, and therefore can be rented for less. Anything major that the landlord does to improve it will result in higher rents, and possibly drive the renter away.

In fact, this often happens. A few years ago my own town enacted its first rental regulations. The fifteen pages of new rules included many non-safety-related requirements, like a minimum of windows, to allow natural lighting, bedroom square-footage requirements, and no peeling paint.

These things are done in the name of low income renters, and yet the result is always the same: higher rent. With that and the regulations against mobiles homes, low income families are moving further away from town and jobs. I mention all this to let you know that if you offer an ugly, but safe and affordable rental, you are providing a real service.

Why Invest In Low Income Housing?

If a nice two bedroom house in a small town costs $130,000 and rents for $800, an old mobile home on a lot will probably cost $45,000 and rent for $500. Notice that the house costs almost three times as much, but the rent you get isn't even doubled. This means the mobile gives you MORE CASH FLOW. That is why old houses and mobile homes (on land) are such good investments.

It's important to note that you'll have more risk and management problems with low income housing. Repairs come up more often, and rent will be late more often, on average. This is why you deserve a higher rate of return. Otherwise, who would want to provide low-cost rentals?

Treat your renters well, and make your places safe. Do these things, and you can enjoy a good return on your investment - even if some want to call you a slumlord.

About the Author
Steve Gillman has invested real estate for years. To learn more, and to see a photo of a beautiful house he and his wife bought for $17,500, visit

Which Type Of Real Estate To Invest In by Steve Gillman

There are different types of real estate, and different ways to invest in them. Which way is best is for you to decide, according to your particular needs. Here are a few ways to consider, with their advantages and disadvantages.

1. Rental houses. Advantages: One of the easier ways to get started, and good long term return on investment. Disadvantages: Being a landlord isn't much fun, and you typically wait a long time for the big pay-off.

2. Rent-to-own houses. Advantages: When you buy, then sell on a rent-to-own arrangement, you get higher rent, and the buyer is usually responsible for maintenance. Disadvantages: The bookkeeping is tricky, and most tenants don't complete the purchase (this can be an advantage too, but it does mean more work for you).

3. Low income rentals. Advantages: The same as with any rentals, but with higher cash flow. Disadvantages: The same as with other rentals, but with more repairs and tenant problems.

4. Fixer-uppers. Advantages: A quick return on your investment, and it can be more creative work. Disadvantages: Higher risk (many unpredictables) and you get taxed heavily on the gain.

5. Buy for cash, sell for terms. Advantages: You get a high rate of return by paying cash to get a good price, and selling on easy terms to get a high price AND high interest. Disadvantages: You tie up your capital for a long time.

6. Buy land, split it and sell it. Advantages: It is simpler than most real estate investments, with the possibility of great profits. Disadvantages: It can take a long time, and you have expenses, but no cash flow while you wait.

7. Boarding houses. Advantages: You can get a lot more cash flow renting a house by the room, especially in a college town. Disadvantages: You can get a lot more headaches renting a house by the room, especially in a college town.

8. Commercial real estate. Advantages: Long term triple-net leases mean little management and high returns. Disadvantages: Tough market to break into, and you can lose income on vacant storefronts for a year at a time.

9. Buy, live in it, and sell. Advantages: The new tax law means you can fix it up, and sell for a big tax-free profit after two years, then start the process again. Disadvantages: You have to move a lot.

10. Speculation. Advantages: Buying in the path of growth and holding until values rise can yield large profits, especially if you buy low to start. Disadvantages: Prices aren't that predictable, you have expenses with no income while you're waiting, and transaction costs can eat much of the profits.

About the Author
Steve Gillman has invested real estate for years. To learn more, and to see a photo of a beautiful house he and his wife bought for $17,500, visit

Basic Things You Should Know About A Lease Purchase Contract by Amanda Shoemaker

What exactly is a contract?

By definition, a contract is an agreement between two or more parties to do, or to refrain from doing, a particular thing in exchange for something valuable. The parties can be individuals, businesses, organizations and government agencies.

They key elements of a successful real estate contract:

1. Offer and acceptance

This implies original signatures with no alterations to the contract. Don't mistake offer and acceptance for counter-offer. When the original offer is marked up and initialed by the party receiving it, then signed, you got a counter-offer and not offer and acceptance. When you come to a final agreement, you should rewrite the contract according to the agreement and this contract must be signed by both parties.

2. Consideration

Usually, money is the form of consideration people use, but sometimes, a promise to perform/pay is also good. .

3. Written contract

All real estate contracts must be in writing. In order to write a good real estate contract, you must keep in mind these things:

You must write the full name of the parties on the contract and thus identify the parties.

You must have the legal description on the contract. Sometimes, the address will do, but it's preferable to have the full legal description. By having this on the contract, you will have the property identified.

You must have the amount of the sales price on the contract.

The contract must be signed by all the parties involved, or it won't be enforceable.

Keep in mind that minors, drugged persons, mentally unfit etc, cannot sign any contracts. Make sure that all the parties involved are competent.

Make sure all parties know the essential details, rights and obligations that are stated in the contract.

What exactly is a lease purchase contract?

Lease purchase contracts combine the basic lease contract with the option to purchase and, during or at the end of the lease period, it gives the tenant/buyer exclusive right to buy the home under the terms to which both parties agree in the contract. But first, the tenant/buyer have to pay the landlord/seller a non-refundable option deposit that is applied to the purchase price of the home. Then, the tenant/buyer pays a sum that is typical to the rental amount and usually, it is done on a monthly basis. A portion of that monthly payment is applied to the purchase price of the home.

About the Author
Amanda Shoemaker owns a great directory of lease and lease purchase properties and houses for rent. Visit her site at

How To Prevent Cat Urine Odor Damage in Rental Property by Nancy E. Wigal

You have permission to publish this article electronically or in print, free of charge, as long as the bylines are included. A courtesy copy of your publication would be appreciated.

Feline owners who are renters can face challenges every time they move from one rental to another. Their cat may have the best cat litter box habits in the world, but if the new apartment has cat urine damage from the previous tenant, the cycle could be repeated. If your kitty smells the cat urine from the previous pet, she may take this as permission to use that spot for her cat litter box needs.

There are things that you, the feline owner and renter can do to prevent this. Not only do you help keep your cat honest in her litter box habits, but this also saves the rental residence from further damage.

When applying for the new rental property, ask the property manager or landlord about previous tenants' pets. If she indicates the apartment has sheltered cats, ask if the departing resident properly cleaned the place to eliminate any cat urine odors. If the landlord says no, or isn't certain, ask if you can go into the apartment for a quick look.

If you gain access, use the best piece of equipment you have: your nose. Stand still inside the door, and sniff carefully. If it smells cat urine-free, move through the rest of the apartment and repeat at intervals. If you smell anything remotely like cat urine odor, look around to see if you can find the source. If you can, great - let the landlord know. If you can't see it, but you do smell it, tell the property manager it needs further investigating before you move in.

Explain to the rental manager what problems could be set in motion if the cat urine odor is not completely removed. She needs to understand that this could be a perpetual cycle, but if she gets the cat urine odor out now, it prevents damage to the apartment and saves the property management company money.

If the landlord doesn't offer to do cleaning, see if you can negotiate a reduction in the rent deposit by offering to do the proper cleaning job yourself prior to moving in. This is a win-win situation, and many landlords may take you up on this. This way, you're ensured of having a clean residence that is cat urine odor-free. And, your kitty will continue her good cat litter box habits!

If you can't gain access to the apartment before moving in to do the cleaning, it's not too late to clean once your possessions are in. If you have an understanding friend or family members, ask them if they would board your kitty for a day or two until you can eradicate the cat urine odor yourself. If necessary, board your kitty at your local vet's office.

Then, grab your enzyme cleaner, a blacklight (to locate the cat urine spots), rags, and towels, and get to work.

Find all the spots and clean them thoroughly with your favorite enzyme cleaner. Repeat as necessary.

Welcome your kitty to her new home by setting up her food, water, clean cat litter box, and toys in a room of her own. Let her get accustomed to being in the new place by transitioning her from one residence to the next.

Supervise her movements throughout the new apartment, and make sure she knows exactly where her cat litter box is located.

By accomplishing this, you are breaking a destructive cycle of pet soiling in rental property. Your cat continues to use her cat litter box because she doesn't detect another cat's urine, and the property manager has just been handed a gift from you that will save her money from cat urine damage.

About the Author
The Cat Urine Odor Advisor helps you save money and stop the damage in your household by offering solutions that work together to eliminate cat urine odor from your home.

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Renters Have Much to Gain by Pursuing Home Ownership by Mical Johnson

Buying a home vs. renting is a big decision that takes careful consideration, as most mortgage consultants will agree. But the rewards of home ownership are great. For many years, purchasing real estate has been considered an extremely profitable investment. It is an achievement that offers a sense of pride, financial stability and potential tax advantages.

Yes, there are certain responsibilities associated with owning a home. Landlords will often argue the benefits of renting, and for obvious reason. If you are renting, you're helping them make their mortgage payment.

The numbers are staggering if you look at it this way. If you are paying $1,000 per month for an apartment, and you know your rent will increase 5% every year, then over the next five years you will pay your landlord $66,309. If you are currently renting a house, you may be paying much more than that each month. Either way, you gain no equity by shelling out this monthly housing expense and you certainly won't benefit when the property value goes up!

However, if you were to purchase your own home or condominium, you would be well on your way toward building equity within that same five-year period. By choosing a fixed-rate loan program, you can have the comfort of knowing that your monthly mortgage payment will never go up. In fact, you would have the option of refinancing to a lower interest rate at some point in the future should interest rates drop, and this would cause your monthly mortgage commitment to go down.

In addition to building equity, there are tax advantages that come into play with home ownership. Depending on your tax bracket, owning a home is often less expensive than renting after taxes. Interest payments on a mortgage below $1 million are tax-deductible, and your mortgage consultant should help you evaluate the tax advantages of various loan scenarios, and share this information with your tax consultant to glean feedback on your behalf.

To find the loan program that is right for you, your mortgage consultant will need to evaluate your monthly household income, current assets and savings, as well as any monthly obligations you may have for credit card payments, car payments, child support, etc. These prequalification factors, along with the report of your credit score, will determine how much house you can afford and what interest rate you will pay for financing. It is also important to let your mortgage consultant know what your future goals are, because this will help narrow down which loan option is the best fit for your long-term needs. There are many different types of loan programs available, including "low" and "no" down payment mortgage programs. These types of programs require the borrower to provide less than 3 percent of the loan amount as down payment. FHA lenders rule that the mortgage payment, including principal, interest, taxes and insurance (PITI) should not exceed 31 percent of your gross income, and the PITI plus other long-term debt (car payments, etc.) should not exceed 43 percent of your gross income.

Housing is an expense that takes a big bite out of the monthly budget. If you are a renter and feel that "home" is more than just someplace to hang your hat, think about the advantages of purchasing real estate. It may be time to take the step into building your personal net worth as a home owner.

About the Author
Mical Johnson is affiliated with Rock Financial, Inc., a Licensed Correspondent Mortgage Lender, Florida Department of Finance. Mr. Johnson hosts Home Buyer's Seminars which are open to the public each month in the TampaBay area in Florida. To obtain a free copy of Mr. Johnson's Home Buyer Handbook contact him at He is also a contributing author at

Real Estate Investors - Remember The Impound Cash by Mark Walters

Those new to real estate investing often fail to take action because they don't have much cash. The truth is that the very best investors got their start when they had little or no money.

When you start at the bottom you have to work harder and smarter. You have to make every penny count... and in doing so you learn how to put together the most profitable deals.

Right now one of the very best ways for newbies to get started is to buy property buy taking over the payments of an existing loan. It's called buying "subject to".

You generate income to make the mortgage payments by quickly leasing the property. Lease payments pay make the mortgage payments.

Here's something most investors overlook when buying "sub to" and why they lose around $1,000 each time they do a deal. We often buy properties "subject to" the underlying mortgage. That simply means we give the motivated seller a little money (if he is really motivated no cash is needed) and take over the payments of the loan that's already in place.

We have title, but the seller's name stays on the mortgage loan.

This a popular way of buying property from motivated sellers. It allows the investor to buy many properties with very little cash. It also places a severe responsibility on the investor to stay current with the mortgage payments. You must be a good landlord and some the rent payments rolling in.

Here's where most investors fail to pick up that one thousand dollar that is just waiting to be claimed.

When the investor sells that property they often are not aware that they can get a check from the original lender for the cash that has accumulated in the loan's impound account.

That is the money collected monthly by the lender to pay the taxes and insurance. It often adds up to around a grand or more and it's easy to get if you know what you're doing.

When you buy a property "subject to" the underlying mortgage, always get all the owners of the property to sign a Limited Power of Attorney giving you control of anything having to do with the house in the future. That way you don't need their cooperation later, when they've left the area and can't found.

Finally, after you've held the property while it appreciated in value, you are ready to sell and cash out.

When you have found a buyer and you are arranging the close, send the lender a request that any balance in the impound account be sent to you or your company. Always send along copies of the Powers of Attorney so the lender knows you have the authority to make the request.

Sometimes they will honor your request and sometimes they won't.

More importantly, instruct the escrow officer or attorney handling the closing of your sale to ask for the impounds. They will give the pay off instructions to the lender and the lender usually will follow those instructions without question.

On a recent deal we received a check from a lender for the impounds in the amount of $1,357.00. Yeah!.. Happy dance!

Was there a catch? The check from the lender for the impound funds was made payable to the two original sellers whose names were on the loan. It looked like this...

Pay To The Order Of: John J. Seller, Paris W. Seller c/o The Author's Investment Corp.

Was that trouble? No! Remember we had a separate Power of Attorney for each of these individuals. We took the check and the POAs to our bank. We explained the situation and here's what the bank officer had us do...

On the back of the check, we signed the name of each seller. After those signatures we wrote:

By_________________ (and signed our own name).

Then we signed our company name and again (By______) and then we signed our own name and position in the company.

That was it! An easy way to pocket $1,357.00 that too many investors leave on the table.

Now YOU will never walk away from that extra thousand or so dollars!

If you would like to learn more about buying "subject to" look here...

About the Author
About The Author: Mark Walters is an investor and author. You can find his published material at