Homes of the Future: Luxury Real Estate’s Technology Boom

These days it seems as though technology advances at the speed of light. Blink twice and the next breakthrough is available. It’s not just about phones or computers-cutting edge technology is now available in every field to make life easier. Nowhere is this more evident than in the luxury real estate market. Innovations can be found in every room of the house. From state-of-the-art security systems to tech-laden bathtubs, the high-tech home is the new dream home.

The smart home is arguably the most influential development in home technology. The idea of controlling various systems (such as lighting and heating) remotely has been around a few years now, but more products are now available that integrate into the connected home network. Home security systems, door locks, and smoke and carbon monoxide detectors can keep you safe, while programmable thermostats, window shades, and beds keep you comfortable. There are also products to keep you entertained, such as TVs, sound systems, and lighting. Refrigerators, ovens, and crock-pots are all operable with a push of a button. Imagine riding home from work in your self-driven car, making sure your lights are on, the kitchen is a comfortable 73 degrees, and your dinner is ready the minute you step in the door.

Some homes are outfitted with technology down to the studs. With smart glass, your windows can darken themselves or turn into a movie screen. Other options include solar-thermal cladding to reduce heat loss, self-healing concrete so your driveway never gets a crack, and anti-bacterial tiles to keep your bathroom squeaky clean. Even building materials themselves are advancing with the digital age. Homeowners want it all when it comes to technology, and contractors and builders can provide it for them.

Smart homes are climbing to the top of “must have” lists around the country, and many sellers are ready to deliver. In fact, in a survey of more than 500 luxury real estate agents, 60% said they are seeing more smart home features in listing descriptions than two to five years ago, with agents also noting these features help sell homes faster. High end now means high tech-an oven ought not be just stainless steel; it must also let you adjust the temperature from across town with your tablet. There’s no better, or more desirable way to deliver the comfort and extravagance of luxury real estate to buyers than with smart, up-to-the-minute technology.

Rent or Buy? Which Option Makes Sense for You?

If you are the individual who is weighing the option of buying or renting a house, you need to consider a few factors. Your financial situation has to be assessed for your long-term planning and that it is not that simple as well.

Understanding your house budget and expenses

It is wise to review your household budget in comparison to the expenses before you begin looking for a new house. You have to find out how much can you afford to pay for accommodation without putting a burden on the budget.

You simply cannot go for rent or mortgage payments if you are unable to pay them on time. Several factors are involved both for renting or buying that should be considered prior to making a decision.

What are the requirements while renting or buying a house?

Your credit history and credit score are crucial and that they will be looked upon by the rental agency or the landlords for the mortgage or rent. You will be checked whether you are can pay the bills on time and are not overdue with the loans or the credit card balances. You have to check your score and credit history before applying for the apartment or the mortgage.

Other factors that are important include your strong employment history, W-2 forms and current bank statements that have to depict a good picture. A few rental agencies require professional or personal references as well as background check and contact information from the previous landlord respectively.

When is renting a viable option?

If you have uncertain employment: According to Evelyn Zohlen (financial planner), if you are unsure about your living paycheck and job situation, it is best to save money for the future living expenses. This will help you to build an emergency fund for you as well.

Limited funds: Renting is the better alternative when you do not have enough money for making the down payment or for managing the additional costs of owning the house.

Short time frame: If you have an assignment that lasts two years or you plan to move abroad in a couple of years, then renting a house is a better option.

When is purchasing a house a feasible option?

Buying a house only makes sense when you have the ability to cover the additional costs for owning a house. It is vital that you pay the closing costs and the down payment before you buy a house. It is seen that many banks receive a 20 percent down payment. This means for a house that costs 250,000 dollars, at 20 percent the down payment will be 50,000 dollars. So, the total amount includes percent in commission and another one percent in closing cost as well.

But if you have much debt, you should not put your savings for the down payment at all. It will be better to pay off the entire debt first until you get a better financial position for yourself. If there is no debt, then you need to work out the buying or renting options in detail.

Four Strategies to Buy Rentals With No Down Payment

This tends to be a pretty controversial subject, and for good reason. When I was getting started in the business, I was young and broke and had no credit to speak of. I was not qualified to borrow money, yet I figured out how to buy properties, and I bought a lot of them. It was not long before I became a full time real estate investor, and on paper, I was a millionaire long before my 30th birthday. I accomplished this with a lot of hard work, education and tolerance to take the risk.

With all this said, just because you don’t need money to buy houses, does not mean you should have no money. I am a big, big believer in this. You see, although I was a millionaire at a young age, I basically lost it all when the market shifted. I was too aggressive with my growth, and did not establish an appropriate amount of reserves. After starting over, I structured things differently and am in a good position to not only survive a down turn, but to thrive in it. In this article, I will briefly walk through 4 ways to buy rentals with nothing out of pocket, but want you to understand that this does not mean you should own rentals with no reserves.

Owner Finance: This could mean many things, but for the purposes of this article I am going to assume that the seller of the home is extremely motivated and is willing to basically sell the house just to get away from the mortgage payments. This is commonly referred to as a subject-to transaction because you, as the buyer, will take title subject-to any other liens that are in place. What this means is you get ownership of the house, but the seller is still on the hook for the loan. You as the buyer will agree to either pay off the loan or make payments on the loan on their behalf. If you don’t, the lender can foreclose and wipe you off of title.

The seller is taking a tremendous amount of risk with this type of transaction, so it is difficult to negotiate and they need to be extremely motivated. It works well for you because you don’t need down payments or to qualify for a loan. It works for them because they have someone else making the payments on their loan, which relieves them of the payment pressure, and potentially can improve their credit. As you become more experienced, this is a strategy you will want to look into. This allows you to purchase an unlimited number of cash flowing properties without ever needing to qualify or sign for a loan.

Lease Options: This is the strategy that really worked for me when I was just getting started. I like it a lot because it is easy to explain to the seller and it is not difficult to get them comfortable with it. They still need to be motivated to want to do this, but nothing like the subject-to transactions.

The way this works is you negotiate with a seller of a home to lease the property for a set period of time. I would typically negotiate 10 years on these, but it can be anything you are comfortable with. The rent amount will be set. From there you agree on a price to buy the property for sometime during the lease term. The price is typically locked in close to today’s value. You then sublease the property, hopefully for more than your rent payment, and wait for the value to increase. If the value does not increase, which has happened to me, you can either re-negotiate the deal or let the property go. You have no obligation to buy, so you are not taking the risk of market fluctuation. If and when the value does increase you have several options: You can sell your option, exercise your option and resell the house for your profit, or just exercise the option and keep the property in your portfolio.

Bridge Loans: The idea here is to find a property that needs a lot of work that will make a good rental. You need to negotiate a price were you can buy it, fix it, and roll in all closing costs, and still be at or below 70% of the after repaired value (ARV). This does not work well unless the property needs to be repaired. This is very different than the first two strategies discussed, and is commonly used with bank owned foreclosures. Although, anytime you can negotiate a great deal will work.

After you purchase the home, you want to get it repaired and get a tenant in place as quickly as possible. You then refinance the loan into your permanent rental property loan. There are some additional details for this to work that are beyond the scope of this article.

Partners: At the time the market was collapsing around me, there were tremendous buying opportunities everywhere. Using the Bridge loan strategy, I was able to pick up a handful of deals that I still have today. I did not qualify for loans, so I brought in a partner to sign on the debt for me, and I shared the deal with him 50/50. Neither one of us put money down, and the properties all cash flow, net of vacancies and maintenance, a minimum of $300 a month. There has also been a tremendous amount of appreciation over the years. The houses have more than doubled in value!

No matter what your strategy in real estate, partners can help you reach your potential. They can provide anything that you are lacking to get deals closed. I have a great deal of respect for partnerships because I think they are necessary, but I also think they can be the worst decision ever made.

Tips To Get Your Search For Homes For Sale In The Right Track

Buying a house is a major financial decision that will not only give you a peace of mind, but also a wonderful place to live, and of course, the perfect location to start a family for those who are planning to settle down. Sooner or later, you will have to decide to settle down on your own home that will be considered as the best location to start a family.

That being said, it is important to greatly consider the factors that will affect your everyday living experience. The following tips will help to get your search of to the right start. While it is important to note the number of rooms, the size of the yard and the layout of the kitchen, there are several important things you need to consider before making an offer.

Avoid trying to time the market

– Trying to time the market when you are planning to purchase is impossible. Considering whether the market drops low or gets too high will only prolong and possibly make you lose your chance of owning your perfect house of choice. The best time is when you find the best one that you can afford. The real estate market is cyclical, and waiting for the perfect time will only make you miss out on an opportunity.

Location

– Proximity to essential establishments and the surrounding people can give great impact in your living environment. You can overlook a couple of imperfections in a home if you love the neighborhood and neighbors. As most would say, three of the most important factors in buying a home is location, location, location. When choosing, you need to consider its proximity to your work and other essential establishments, environment or the neighborhood, and public transportation.

Inspection

– Of course, you will need to check everything out inside the house. When you have finally narrowed down your list of choices, it’s time to hire a home inspector. It may cost a little but in the long run, it will end up saving you thousands. This will help you gain the best information regarding the new home so that you can make the best decision as to whether or not take it.

Situation factors

– One important thing to note: when buying a home, you can easily replace furniture, and other things inside however, you can never change the location. This is why it is important to also check the situational factors. Is the location suitable for kids, pets and gardening? Do the neighbor’s window look directly to your home? Has the driveway elevation properly installed for safe access to the property?

The Top Real Estate Apps for iPhone and Android Devices

In the earliest days of the Internet, some of the original architects of the web pursued real estate as the most obvious market that could widely benefit from independent web sites. Aggregation services for these sites were among the first web lists, which eventually grew into dedicated indexes, then searchable indexes. Eventually the idea was absorbed into more complete services like Craigslist and the earliest iterations of Yahoo.

Although those early sites had some tremendous advantages in that they could be viewed from neighborhoods far from the houses they featured, they weren’t mobile. The ability to find houses nearest a certain address as opposed to houses that match a particular keyword is equally effective and often leads to a better purchase and a happier buyer.

One thing to be aware of is many of the most popular apps are not designed for home buyers. Some of the best apps are built to be utilized by agents, real estate brokers and even residential and commercial developers.

Bigger Pockets

At the top of many app lists is a utility for investors called “BiggerPockets.” While it is primarily a gateway to its namesake’s forums, it is apparently a great tool for people who are out scouting for new investment properties.

Home Mortgage Calculator

For home buyers there is the “Homes Mortgage Calculator” available for both iPad and iPhone. With this app, any buyer can plug in the details of a proposed deal and get an accurate idea of the projected payment amount if they accept the deal and seek a mortgage to finance it.

Craigslist

Since Craigslist seemed to benefit so much from the Internet’s early history, it stands to reason it would find its way on to a list of the most useful mobile apps. When combined with the wide variety of mapping and communications utilities built into most phones, Craigslist can become a powerhouse of buyer and renter options.

Pro HDR

For agents and brokers, good photography is crucial in an industry that depends on how a product looks more than nearly any other. Granted, there is no shortage of options for taking pictures in 2015. With a utility like Pro HDR, even amateur photographers will find themselves able to take better pictures and use those pictures more effectively.

MiD Calculator

From the National Association of Realtors comes an app that, like the home mortgage calculator, will allow a buyer or seller to calculate the Mortgage Interest Deduction based on any set of financial details available. This can be a tremendous way to calculate the costs and balances of any home deal before it is negotiated.

IREM Comps App

This utility for iPhone and iPad allows a property owner to combine information from three comparable properties to determine a competitive rent for a subject property. It also gives the user the option to send the information in spreadsheet form to others for analysis.

Real estate apps for all kinds of interested parties are likely to become more popular as the capabilities of mobile phones and tablets continue to improve.