Estate agent sentenced to four and a half years in prison

Richard Charles Hall has been sentenced to four and a half years in prison after carrying out fraud offences and perverting the course of justice.

Hall, from Ecclestone, St Helens, was sentenced on January 14, 2019, having been found guilty of seven offenses.

The offenses include defrauding several people of more than £40,000 through his business dealings, and dishonestly selling Brooklands Sales & Lettings Ltd, claiming he owned the full company, despite having received investment from a third party.

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Hall was first made bankrupt in 2012 with the restrictions lifted in 2013, but when he was made bankrupt again in 2014, Hall attempted to conceal a bank account from the Official Receiver and his shares in Brooklands.

Investors found he was operating the sole trader company Brooklands Sales, alongside the company he had sold unbeknownst to the new owners of Brooklands.

Hall presented falsified banking material intending to convince the court he had paid back monies for the sale of Brooklands.

Prior to his sentencing, Hall received a suspended prison sentence in 2013 for possessing an offensive weapon in a public place, and in 2015 was convicted of a battery offence.

Judge Watson QC outlined the importance of trust and integrity in estate agents, stressing that Hall had lied, exploited others and deliberately withheld important information form the Insolvency Service to try and prevent the course of justice.

The Insolvency Service chief investigator of criminal investigations John Fitzsimmons says: “Richard Hall’s behaviour has been deceitful and calculating throughout, whether that was defrauding landlords or undermining the Official Receiver from doing their job.

“This has been an extensive investigation covering many areas of criminality and we welcome the sentence handed down by the courts.”

Merseyside Police Detective Inspector Steve Ball adds: “We are pleased that Richard Hall has been sentenced and hope it brings some comfort to the victims of his crimes that he is now behind bars.

“Hall played on people’s trust, defrauding them of large sums of money and exploiting them for his own financial gain.”

Source: Jake Carter

MOGUL MANSIONS: From Elon Musk to Jeff Bezos, here are the homes and estates owned by the wealthiest people in tech

Nearly a fifth of the world’s 100 richest billionaires made their fortune in tech. And although some of their success stories start off modestly (and most likely in a garage), many tech moguls are taking their millions and splurging on real estate.

For instance, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and Microsoft’s Bill Gates live less than a mile from each other in the waterfront city of Medina, Washington, and own two of the country’s most expensive estates.

Los Angeles is also another popular spot for tech moguls: Snap CEO Evan Spiegel and his wife, Miranda Kerr, bought their Brentwood home overlooking the city for $12 million, while Elon Musk’s Bel Air abode boasts seven bedrooms, a giant screening room, and tennis court.

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Here’s a look at some of the homes of the tech industry’s elite:

Just outside of Seattle is the waterfront mansion of Jeff Bezos, the founder and CEO of Amazon. In the front, there’s not much to see, with the gate and tall hedges blocking the view.

Bezos and his family, which isthe richest in the world, live in the tiny city of Medina, Washington, located just outside of Seattle. The sleepy town has long been a haven for tech bigwigs in the area, including Bill Gates and other Microsoft elites.

Bezos paid $10 million for the estate in 1998, which spans 5.3 acres and includes a 20,000-square-foot house, plus a second 8,300-square-foot dwelling.

The property then underwent a $28 million renovation in 2010, around which time Bezos bought the 24,000-square-foot house next door, which was rumored to have sold for at least $53 million.

 

The Amazon leader’s estate is a big change from where he started the company: in the garage of his home in the Bellevue neighborhood near Seattle, Washington, seen here in 2013.

But Bezos’ Medina home is not the only property he owns, because, well, he is the richest man in the world.

Bezos also owns properties in Beverly Hills, California; a ranch in Van Horn, Texas; a former textile museum in Washington, DC; and three condos in a historic Manhattan building overlooking Central Park.

This is Bezos’s Spanish-style mansion in Beverly Hills, which he bought in 2007 for $24.45 million.

The seven-bedroom, seven-bathroom home is advertised by Dream Homes Magazine as having a greenhouse, a sunken and lighted tennis court, a huge swimming pool, four fountains, and a six-car garage.

But he didn’t stop there: Bezos bought a smaller house just next door 10 years later.

Apparently, the first Beverly Hills house did not fit Bezos’ space requirements. In 2017, he bought a comparatively modest four-bedroom, 4,568-square-foot home for $12.9 million right next door to his first house.

Bill Gates lives about a half mile up the road from Bezos in Medina, in this $127 million compound he nicknamed “Xanadu 2.0.”

The 66,000-square-foot house is brimming with state-of-the-art technology, and has seven bedrooms and 18.75 bathrooms.

Gates purchased the lot for $2 million in 1988.

The Gates house has a 23-car garage, six kitchens, 24 bathrooms, and a reception hall that can accommodate 200 guests.

The house was built with 500-year-old Douglas fir trees, and 300 construction workers labored on the home 100 of whom were electricians.

It cost more than $60 million and took four years to build.

It also has a spectacular view of Lake Washington.

The home also comes equipped with an in-house theater, trampoline room, library, and a 60-foot pool with its own underwater music system.

Charles Simonyi also lives in Medina and on Lake Washington’s waterfront. Simonyi is the former head of Microsoft’s application software and oversaw the creation of the Office suite.

His house known as Villa Simonyi, or the “Windows 2000 House,” because it has 2,000 windows.

Simonyi also has paintings by Roy Lichtenstein and Victor Vasarely.

Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, who owns the Los Angeles Clippers, lives in Hunts Point, just up the road from Medina.

Ballmer’s relatively modest house has four bedrooms and is located on two acres.

The selling price was rumored to be $26 million.

Twitter and Square CEO Jack Dorsey bought his San Francisco home for $9.9 million in 2012.

The modest 3,734-square-foot house, which has unobstructed views of the Golden Gate Bridge, is located on El Camino Del Mar in the exclusive Seacliff neighborhood of San Francisco.

It has two bedrooms and two bathrooms, and is estimated at $12 million.

Apple CEO Tim Cook lives modestly: He bought this 2,400-square-foot Palo Alto home in 2010 for less than $2 million.

Cook is famously private, but does not exhibit the habits of other private tech elites in contrast, Mark Zuckerberg has historically bought the properties surrounding his homes for increased seclusion.

Cook has previously said, “I like to be reminded of where I came from, and putting myself in modest surroundings helps me do that. Money is not a motivator for me.”

On the other hand some tech execs know a thing or two about extravagance: Evan Spiegel and Miranda Kerr bought their 7,164-square-foot home in Brentwood, California, for $12 million in 2016.

The home has city views, a pool, pool house, home gym, and guest house. It also has seven bedrooms and eight bathrooms.

The kitchen is full of white marble.

The 28-year-old billionaire and 35-year-old Australian model hosted an estimated 50 people for their wedding ceremony and reception in May 2017 at the home. They also welcomed a son eight months ago.

The house belonged to Harrison Ford for 30 years before he sold it in 2012.

Larry Page, cofounder of Google and CEO of Alphabet, bought a $7.2 million home in Old Palo Alto in 2005.

The home, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, was built from 1931 to 1941 for Bay Area artist Pedro de Lemos.

At 9,000 square feet, the two-story home was built in the Spanish Colonial Revival style. It’s constructed of stucco and tile around a courtyard. Parts of the home were salvaged from a chapel that was partially destroyed during the 1906 San Francisco earthquake.

In 2009, Page started buying adjacent properties to construct an environmentally friendly estate.

  The 6,000-square-foot home has a roof garden with solar panels and four bedrooms.

Sometimes, Page’s billionaire buddy Elon Musk, who doesn’t own property in Silicon Valley, reportedly sleeps over.

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg reportedly bought his 5,617-square-foot home in Palo Alto, California, for $7 million in 2011.

He spent an additional $45 million on the four houses and land around it for the sake of privacy.

Zuckerberg’s residence is apparently decked out with a “custom-made artificially intelligent assistant” named Jarvis.

The home has some awesome features, too: heated floors, a deep-soak tub, and a kitchen with a breakfast bar. It also has a pool and a pond.

Zuckerberg frequently posts photos of himself and his family on the porch seen above on Instagram .

Zuckerberg also purchased a 750-acre property on the North Shore of the Hawaiian island of Kauai, which includes 2,500 feet of white-sand beach.

Zuckerberg paid a reported $100 million for both properties, though Forbes reported that he plans to build just one home.

Tesla founder Elon Musk paid $17 million for his house situated on a hilltop 1.66-acre plot in the ritzy Bel Air enclave of Los Angeles.

Sotheby’s International Realty

The home overlooks the exclusive Bel Air Country Club and has 20,248 square feet of space divided into different wings. It has seven bedrooms, nine bathrooms, a giant screening room, home gym, a pool, and a tennis court.

The yard is fairly sprawling, and Musk and his five sons had reportedly lived in the house for three years before he bought it.

Sotheby’s International Realty

Musk also bought a ranch home located across the street from the mansion for nearly $7 million in 2013.

Oracle founder Larry Ellison, on the other hand, owns more homes than he could possibly live in.

Bing Maps

His home in Woodside, California which is modeled after a 16th-century Japanese emperor’s palace is worth an estimated $70 million.

The 23-acre estate took nine years to design and build, and it was completed in 2004.

The 74-year-old also owns a historic garden villa in Kyoto, Japan, which was reportedly listed for $86 million, though the price he actually paid is unknown.

When asked by CNBC in 2012 why he would buy more homes than he could possibly live in, Ellison referenced his love of art.

“I’m going to start these art museums that are basically converted homes, and I have one for modern art, and I have one for 19th-century European art, and one for French impressionism,” Ellison said to CNBC.

Ellison’s net worth is $59 billion.

Ellison’s priciest purchase was in 2012 when he bought 98% of the Hawaiian island of Lanai.

Since then, Ellison has purchased two airlines, refurbished the island’s hotels, and started investing in clean energy sources. He plans to use the island as an experiment for environmentally sound practices.

Though the final price has not been disclosed, the Maui News put the asking price at $500 to $600 million, making it arguably one of the most expensive private islands in the world.

Turns out Zuckerberg and Ellison aren’t the only tech execs fond of Hawaii: Micheal Dell, founder of Dell Technologies, spends his vacations at the “Raptor Residence” on the Big Island.

The 18,500-square-foot, seven-bedroom home in Hawaii was last valued at $62 million and is located in the private community of Kukio.

By comparison, the Dell family home, located outside of Austin looks more like a compound than the rest of the abodes of his billionaire buddies.

Bing Maps

The Dell family’s 33,000-square-foot home outside of Austin is known by locals as “the Castle” because of its hilltop perch and heavy security presence.

The house boasts eight bedrooms, 13 bathrooms, a tennis court, indoor and outdoor pools, and gorgeous views of Lake Austin.

Dell also owns a wide variety of real estate in Hawaii, Mexico, and California thanks to his company MSD Capital, which invests in luxury hotels, commercial and multifamily properties, and land development. The company also it participates in other real-estate-development funds.

Marc Andreessen, the venture capitalist and inventor of the Netscape web browser, resides in a three-bedroom, four-bath California home that’s valued at $24 million.

Andreessen’s home is located in the Silicon Valley suburb of Atherton, across the street from the Menlo Circus Club a private social club that hosts horse shows, polo matches, and gala parties for the ultra-wealthy.

Former Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer owns a relatively modest home in Palo Alto, which is estimated to be worth $5.2 million.

Located in the city’s University South neighborhood, the five-bedroom house was meant to be a place to crash after late nights in the Yahoo office.

Mayer owns several miniature balloon dog sculptures by Jeff Koons, which she keeps in her kitchen.

Sergey Brin, cofounder of Google, bought a 3,457-square-foot Greenwich Village condo in 2008 for $8.5 million.

The home has 4 bedrooms, heated floors, and a sunlit living room. The home, which Brin bought with ex-wife Anne Wojcicki CEO of 23andMe, the $1.5 billion personal genetics company is also within walking distance of Google’s Chelsea office.

The two-story, three-bedroom penthouse has a 1,200-square-foot wraparound terrace with views of lower Manhattan. The kitchen is outfitted with custom Moroccan tiles and top-of-the-line appliances.

Brin also has a home in California’s Los Altos Hills at an undisclosed location. But if it’s anything like his $80 million, 73-meter yacht, dubbed the Dragonfly, we can assume it is pretty elaborate.

Oracle CEO Mark Hurd’s 6,410-square-foot home in Atherton, California, sold for just over $7 million in 2005.

The home has five bedrooms, 6.5 bathrooms, and was last valued at close to $8 million.

Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s COO, moved into this modern, 9,200-square-foot mansion in Menlo Park, California, in 2013. It features a living roof, solar panels, and a huge basement.

The Daily Mail reported the Sandberg’s home also has a basketball court, wine room, and home theatre.

The house isn’t far from Facebook’s campus either only a 20 minute drive. Sandberg sold her former Atherton home for $9 million in 2014.

Yuri Milner, an investor of Facebook, Twitter, and Spotify, bought this sprawling Silicon Valley mansion for $100 million in 2011.

However, the Santa Clara County Assessor’s office declared Milner had overpaid, valuing the estate at $50.3 million.

The 30,000-square-foot French chateau-style mansion sits on 11 acres in Los Altos Hills and has views of the San Francisco Bay. The home has five bedrooms and nine bathrooms, as well as a ballroom, home theater, wine cellar, and indoor pool.

Former Google CEO Eric Schmidt bought his 7,000-square-foot Montecito, California, home from Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi in 2007 for $20 million.

The estate has a large backyard area with a swimming pool, a tennis court, and lots of Spanish-inspired decor.

Schmidt rented out the mansion to Kim Kardashian for her wedding to basketball player Kris Humphries in 2012.

He also owns homes in Nantucket and Atherton, California.

Travis Kalanick, cofounder and former CEO of Uber, is said to have bought a penthouse atop a Soho apartment building in New York City for just over $40 million.

The Wall Street Journal reported in November 2018 that Kalanick was behind the purchase of the $40.5 million, nearly-7,000-square-foot property.

The home has four bedrooms, 4.5 bathrooms, floor-to-ceiling windows, and a 20-foot private rooftop pool on the building’s terrace not to mention killer city views.

Source: Business Insider

What To Know If You’re New To Real Estate Investing

As a 16-year active real estate investor, I find that many first-time investors have a bad experience with real estate. Why? I believe it’s because they tend to lead with emotion and start looking at properties too soon.

Picture this: You drive past a blue duplex twice a day with pretty window shutters and pristine landscaping that you’ve long admired. Then one day, you see a “For Sale” sign on the duplex.

You rationalize buying it because the building has great curb appeal; you’re convinced that self-managing won’t be an issue because you always drive past it. Further, real estate seems like a good way to diversify from stocks. You involve an agent. A few months later, it’s yours.

This might work out. Or you might have jumped into a property that produces more monthly expenses than income. To help avoid this, there are factors every real estate investor should consider when they are searching for new property.

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Look at the big picture.

    1. Get clear on what you want real estate to do for you. Do you want income, appreciation, tax advantages or even a lifestyle benefit where you occasionally use the property yourself?
    2. Find the market that supports what you want. Buying real estate in a city with a declining job market might soon mean that you won’t have a tenant to pay the rent, so research the neighborhood, and seek property where you have a reasonable expectation of high occupancy.
  1. Hire a skilled property manager. Remember, this is what makes your investment fairly passive. I believe the best way to vet a property manager is through referrals from existing clients. This way, you can learn their communication style, how well they kept up the property and if the home always had a tenant. Although a guitar can produce harmony or discord, it isn’t the guitar’s fault. Likewise, a property can produce either profit or pain based on the performance of your manager.

If you, the market and your property manager all align, I believe you are ready to begin assessing your finances and looking at properties.

Consider the property’s potential financial benefits.

In my experience, an acronym that helps make it easy to remember your operating expenses (except the mortgage) is “VIMTUM,” which stands for vacancy, insurance, maintenance, taxes, utilities and management.

If you seek a passive monthly income, your rent amount minus the mortgage and VIMTUM should be a positive number.

In my experience, to get ahead, you must ethically employ other people’s money. You can utilize outside funding in three ways simultaneously: by using a tenant’s rent as a passive income stream, a bank loan to help you invest and tax incentives to help maximize profits. Once you’ve implemented outside funding into your investment, I believe there are five simultaneous profit centers:

1. Appreciation: Until May, real estate is expected to appreciate at a national average of 4.4%. Let’s say you invested $20,000 in a $100,000 property; it would likely appreciate to roughly $104,000 over the course of a year. This might not sound like much, but consider that your $4,000 gain is based on the $20,000 you invested. You’ve achieved a 4% return on both your $20,000 down payment and the $80,000 you borrowed from the bank. This means the return on your skin in the game is 20%.

2. Cash Flow: In my experience, the best estimate of your property’s rent amount typically comes from a manager, not an agent. Say your monthly rental income (minus the mortgage and VIMTUM expenses) leaves you with just $150 of residual income. This is called “cash flow.” Annually, this is $1,800 of cash flow, which you can then divide by your $20,000 down payment. The result, called your cash-on-cash return, would land at 9%.

3. Loan Paydown: Unlike how you pay down your own principal for your own home, in a cash-flowing rental property, your tenant can pay this for you. With an $80,000 loan, 6% interest rate and 30-year amortization, that’s roughly $900 of your mortgage principal that your tenant pays annually. Divide this by $20,000, and you have another 4% return on amortization.

4. Tax Benefit: Depreciation, mortgage interest deductibility and your ability to pay zero capital gains tax are real, but they can be hard to quantify. In short, depreciation means that a portion of your rental income is sheltered from income tax. With a 1031 tax-deferred exchange, you can defer your capital gains tax infinitely (I’ve never paid capital gains tax). Though this becomes more difficult to measure, your approximate benefit is 5%.

5. Inflation-Profiting: In my experience, even advanced investors fail to understand this. Your mortgage that’s repaid by your tenant is an asset. Just like you wouldn’t keep $80,000 in the bank for thirty years because inflation would erode its purchasing power, oppositely, when you borrow money from a bank, you repay in nominal dollars (the value of the dollar at the time you assumed the loan). As wages and prices escalate over the years, your debt is debased at the rate of inflation, roughly between 2% and 3%.

Adding your total rate of return from your five profit centers equals around 40%.

This is nothing new; it’s just buy-and-hold real estate investing. Risks exist, and you will surely have bumps along the way that could cause you to lose money. We also didn’t account for your buyer closing costs upon purchase; the seller can often help you pay these. We did assume that you made a full-price offer.

I believe external funds should be seen as “good” debt because your payments are outsourced to tenants. Without utilizing any outside funding, your return could erode. Paying all-cash would increase your cash flow, but you would lose leverage, tenant loan paydown, some tax benefit and your inflation-profiting benefit.

Now you know how to “keep score” with your real estate investing. This is important. Many investors are losing when they think they’re winning, and vice versa. When you keep score, you’d better know what and when to buy and sell. It all begins with the understanding that to get ahead, you need to both be strategic and think differently from the herd.

Source: forbes.com

 

5 DIGITAL REAL ESTATE MARKETING TOOLS THAT EVERY AGENT NEEDS

As more buyers and sellers go online in search for real estate deals, there is the need for every real estate agent to have thorough and effective digital marketing strategies to employ in order to stay afloat in the real estate market.

In recent times, it has been discovered that over 90% of intending home buyers go over the internet in search of deals on new homes.

…..It is overwhelming to know that 50% of them also made use of the internet at the first instance in search for new homes.

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This has become the trend and it has been predicted to gain much reception in the future thereby leading to an increase in the number of individuals making use of the internet in search of property deals.

This has been made possible by the influence of the Internet of Things (IoT).

In 2017, the records of home buyers and sellers show that 53% of them got the homes they bought as a result of the search they made online.

This is to show that majority of home buyers and owners make use of the internet to search and strike deals on real estate.

A beautiful thing to note is that they don’t only use the internet to search for properties; they also trust it as an excellent platform to trade. Many still use real estate agents as they see them as useful and reliable, the majority of individuals, most especially the younger ones, assert that the internet is more useful and reliable a source to find some cool real estate deals.

From these statistics, it then becomes a necessity for you as a real estate agent to up your game and comes to terms to reality in the real estate market in order for you to maximize profits and stay in business. You ought to have a strong understanding of the demands of potential clients, how they are using the internet to get their searches done and then position yourself to meet their needs by making yourself and services available through an online presence.

I present to you tools you can use as a real estate agent so that you can stay relevant in the world of real estate…….

  1. EMAIL MARKETING

Everybody in the digital world makes use of email addresses.

This has made email marketing to be a very powerful tool real estate agents can employ in order to remain relevant in the field and maximize sales.

…..Email has become the number one performance measurement tool in for fast returns on investments, capturing /generating of leads and ultimately converting them to paying clients.

….Think about this: if information about a good deal is sent to your prospects email boxes, it can stay there for weeks. Now, when you send rich, educating, helpful and sweet content with intriguing subjects about a prospective deal to them with an option for them to easily reply you and get a deal going.

Who do you think they will reach out to first when the time comes for them to take a decision as regards real estate deals? Yes, you got the answer right.

This points to you that email marketing is an essential digital marketing strategy that real estate agents should employ. In email marketing, you will have to build email contact lists.

This is very important as it becomes easy for you to send content about what will interest them with information about some good available real estate deals. Doing this should be a priority for every real estate agent as it helps you to keep in touch with prospects and you will no longer have to start afresh with your marketing.

It is interesting to know that when you constantly send good contents to prospects about real estate and deals, you are building a friendship with them.

This has been tested to be a good move as most prospects who later turned out to become clients were intrigued with the email messages they had earlier been receiving. Another beauty of email marketing for you as a real estate agents is that you can easily get referrals from your prospects/clients as they can easily forward your email messages to their friends and loved ones whom they know are looking for a deal or an agent in real estate.

With such referrals, you can be an established leader in the real estate industry in your immediate locality and state. This will directly see you having more real estate agents to yourself and more deals.

The only disadvantage of email marketing as a digital marketing strategy that you can employ as a real estate agents is that you have to be available always by mail.

…..If you can walk up to the demands of this strategy, it is advisable you get capable hands you can team up with in assisting you with the areas of fasting typing, correspondence, powerful writing ability and the monitoring of emails so that they can quickly and professionally respond to emails they can and forward those that need your attention.

  1. CONTENT MARKETING

……In the digital marketing world, it is often said that content is king.

You can’t have your way successfully in the of digital marketing without the understanding of employing highly qualified and search engine optimized contents.

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This is very important as it determines the outcome of your efforts in creating content…..

In content marketing, the aim is to create quality and highly optimized contents online so that Google and other powerful search engines can pick them up and index them for quality – both technically and contextually.

The quality of your contents has much impact on your content marketing as a digital marketing strategy for your real estate business because the content you create and publish on your blog, website, forum, social networks and other online platforms will serve as a bait to capture prospects, get your agency known by prospective buyers and sellers of real estate and ultimately win them to yourself as clients.

……..It establishes you as an authority and convinces people to work with you.

Therefore, the content you publish online should help among other things, to achieve the goal of closing sales.

Technology has come to stay and it has really affected the ways people do things, even to the extent of home buying and selling as they can be done and processed within a short time with some clicks.

As a real estate agent, you have to embrace content marketing. If you keep doing what you have always done, you will always get the same results. But when you leverage on the Internet of things, you work with these digital marketing strategies for your real estate consultancy, you are sure to see the great impact as you get to see more possibilities of limitless real estate business.

Get your digital marketing strategies for your real estate consultancy right and you are positioned to get more deals from buyers and sellers, thereby allowing you to rake more in earnings, grow your agency and become a great force to reckon with in your field.

  1. SEARCH ENGINE MARKETING

With the Internet of Things, home buyers and sellers search for virtually everything about real estate on the internet with the help of search engines such as Google, Bing and Yahoo.

Their search queries range from the exact homes to buy, their prices, how quickly they are being sold, how the homes compare to other homes and who the agencies and realtors are for those homes. They even search for ratings and reviews from individuals in the past.

The searches made by homeowners and buyers lead to the result of some real estate agencies popping out.

Your understanding, as a real estate agent, on how to be easily found online by prospects is an invaluable resource that can increase your earnings and tentacles.

For you to be easily found online when searches are made demands that you be creative and technical.

You will use contents and images to post listings online, strategically including your agency in online directories, being proactive in managing reviews.

In order to make a success out of search engine marketing as a digital marketing tool for your real estate agency, you have to master the art and science of Search Engine Optimization and engagement.

Though technical, they are easy to learn and implement.

But if you don’t have the time to get SEO done for your real estate agency, get the services of an expert to help you out. This will help you to win as more buyers and sellers will get to see you when they search online for real estate agency.

  1. SOCIAL MEDIA

Almost every activity happens on the social media.

Hence, it is a vital tool to leverage on as a real estate agent.

Social media can offer you the platform to meet and deal with homeowners and buyers before actual deals are secured. But just registering your [presence on social media does not profit as you have to be active with constant engagements of prospects.

Every post you make should drive a point about your brand identity, awareness, authority, connection, and convenience.

  1. WEBSITE

You need a website to connect with prospective buyers and owners of homes as real estate agents.

Everybody has now gone digital…

So, before you ask them for a meeting, they want to know more about.

So, having an online presence with the help of a website will go a long way, as a digital marketing tool to put you at the lead in your industry. Do not ever look down on the potentials of having a website for your real estate agency as they are limitless.

You will do much more and better with a website for your real estate agency.

How Real Estate Firms Are Helping Federal Workers Survive The Shutdown

With every new day, more companies and organizations are stepping up to help cash-strapped federal workers survive into a second month without paychecks. Restaurants, museums, movie theaters and live entertainment venues are among the for-profit and non-profit venues offering everything from discounted meals to entirely free attendance at movies and shows. Given that housing is generally the largest line item of expense in Americans’ monthly budgets, it only makes sense some of the largest real estate firms in the nation have also come to the rescue of furloughed federal staff.

Deferred payments

Among them is Scottsdale, Ariz.-based Progress Residential. The company’s more than 25,000 properties in 15 fast-growing American metros make it one of the largest suppliers of high-quality single-family rental homes in the U.S. Renters in Progress Residential’s homes who share the furlough letter they received or otherwise furnish proof of employment with an affected government agency will be eligible to work closely with the company to defer January and February monthly rent obligations.

“This is a unique nationwide situation, and we view it as an opportunity to demonstrate how deeply we appreciate the work that our civil servants and military men and women do for our country ,” Chaz Mueller, Progress Residential CEO, says. “We recognize the hardship that many of our residents may be facing due to the government shutdown and want to alleviate the anxiety those families are facing.”

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Asked if the company still expects rent to be paid by a specified date, Mueller was unequivocal. “Along with the rest of the country, we are watching and waiting for our nation’s leaders to resolve the shutdown. At the same time, we continue to work with affected residents to schedule deferred payments for January and February rent.” 

Metro DC Properties

The Bainbridge Companies, an owner, developer and manager of luxury rental properties in Florida and the mid-Atlantic states, has taken like steps to help federal workers. Because the organization owns and manages numerous District of Columbia-area communities, its officials recognize many residents are federal employees suffering through the furlough.

The company is waiving late fees and working individually with residents who require the assistance to implement payment plans. Regional vice president Troy Fields reported that to qualify for assistance, government shutdown-affected residents are asked to visit the leasing offices of the communities at which they live and share documentation they have received from the federal government regarding their furlough, or alternatively a recent pay stub showing a paycheck of $0.

Sobering situation

Meantime, the federal government shutdown is leading some apartment industry experts to re-examine need for security deposits.

The shutdown has cast a disturbing light upon the grave financial circumstances faced by millions of Americans. The Federal Reserve has reported 40% of Americans cannot cover a $400 emergency, says Reichen Kuhl, cofounder and CEO of Marina Del Rey, California-based LeaseLock, which replaces security deposits with insurance.

“This is an extremely sobering fact about the state of our country,” he noted. “Affordability is a real issue for many renters and as such apartment operators should consider becoming zero-deposit properties by eliminating security deposits. While many renters can afford their monthly rent payment and other monthly fees, many find it difficult to pull together the funds necessary to make a security deposit payment upfront. This upfront expenditure is an added stress to renters and can negatively impact their ability to afford quality living.”

Replacing security deposits with monthly lease insurance enables property managers to close more leases, more quickly, helping keep occupancies high. As well, becoming a zero-deposit community eliminates the administrative burden and expense of managing a security deposit.

“It also does away with the anger and bad feelings residents frequently experience when they inevitably receive less of their security deposit back at move-out than they were expecting,” Kuhl said.

Source: Jeffery Steele

DAMAC chairman calls bottom for Dubai property market, sees value in Brexit

A major Emirati property developer believes Dubai’s property market has bottomed out — but says there remain at least two more tough years ahead before a full rebound.

“2018 has been a difficult year, prices have come down, sales have come down, and I think ’19 and ’20 are going to be also not easy years,” Hussain Sajwani, chairman of Dubai real estate heavyweight DAMAC Properties told CNBC’s Hadley Gamble on Wednesday. “I think we are at the bottom, from a price point of view, but it will take at least two years to absorb the supply.”

The UAE’s commercial hub has suffered a bruising year, with Dubai’s stock market the worst-performing in the Middle East, a fall in tourism and record drops in property sales. Property sector analysts say the city has been overbuilding, and with weak demand for all the newly built homes and apartments, property prices have been tanking. Residential prices in the emirate of 3 million have fallen by some 15 percent since 2014.

A report by real estate platform PropertyFinder published last November predicted a continued slide for the sector in 2019, as supply is expected to double or even triple while demand remains subdued.

Sajwani described a “beautiful five years of growth” at the start of the decade that saw prices going up, and emphasized his belief that the city would stage a comeback.

“Dubai is very resilient, from the long-term growth. It’s always going to go through the cycle,” he said. “As a free capital economy, you know, people are going to overbuild, and then going to catch up. And the leader is very open-minded,” Sajwani added, referencing the leader of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum.

“He doesn’t want to restrict the supply or the demand. He says, ‘Let the supply-demand naturally take its place. No point of control(ling) the supply — let everybody manage as a normal economy’.”

DAMAC, with an annual turnover of some $2 billion, was the first Middle Eastern real estate company to list on the London Stock Exchange. The company reported its worst quarter of booked saleslast April-June with a 46 percent fall in profits. Still, the company’s leadership predicts a cyclical recovery and has plans to continue expansion in the Middle East, Africa, the U.S. and in Europe in particular.

Sajwani predicted similar levels for profits in 2019 and 2020, but stressed that the company’s focus now is on streamlining costs and finding opportunities to grow in overseas markets. London is a bright spot on the chairman’s radar — and not in spite of Brexit, but because of it, thanks to a dramatic drop in the value of the pound.

“We like London, we have experience in London,” he said, describing a 50-storey tower slated to be completed at the end of next year. “We see, in Brexit issues, a great opportunity, as (the) price is going to correct, the pound has come down really drastically, and we’re waiting for an opportunity to invest in London, and we want to go in a big way in London.”

And Sajwani described interest in a number of real estate sub-sectors, pointing to mixed-use property, luxury apartments, office buildings, and retail. “So we’re looking at property from all the angles, and we’re willing to write a big check and go in a big way in London. We believe in London,” he added.

Source: Natasha Turak

Some best kept secrets of real estate millionaires

There are many ways of becoming a real estate millionaire. It is possible to inherit lots of properties and thus become an instant property millionaire. This is not the norm and although a few people will experience this, several others will not experience such a bequest.

We are interested in those who slowly and strategically built wealth through real estate. We are even more interested in those who have documented or shared their experiences so that we can learn from them and apply their time-tested principles. We will unpack a few of those lessons that we have learnt from this select group.

Click here to watch weekly episodes of our Housing Development Programme on AIT

Successful real estate investors are long term thinkers. They have a long-term perspective when evaluating investments and when planning their future. Many people think in short-time frames. Some even think daily believing that any day apart from today is not worth planning for.

If you want to be a real estate millionaire, you must start thinking in at least a 10-year perspective. An area may look unattractive today but what is the possibility in 10 or twenty-years time? Real estate investment has proven to be one of the most stable and rewarding long term investment vehicles even after experiencing short periods of downturn.

Real estate millionaires often operate like bargain hunters in other sectors of the economy. They love to buy properties when others want to sell. They love to buy properties less than its actual value. They love to buy distressed or discounted properties.

The interesting thing about this is that they aim to start making money on their property purchase from the start. When you buy a property at a discount, you make an immediate gain and also hedge yourself against any downturn in the market. It is a strategy for ensuring that you are properly positioned to make more money than the average investor the moment there is an upswing in the market.

Someone once said that many look but only few truly see. In real estate investment, this is very true.  Experienced real estate investors can see opportunities where many can see nothing but problems.

This select group go out looking for strategic value that might not be obvious to the property seller. A strategic advantage in a property or piece of real estate could range from size to location or design. A strategic advantage is anything that is unique to the property that cannot be easily found or seen in any property in the same location. A strategic advantage could be a key difference in the property when compared to other ones that could make it a game changer when unveiled.

Another secret of real estate millionaires worth noting is their focus on investing in a tested market that has a long history of capital growth and appreciation. Those with very little knowledge of real estate investment often criticise or mock some investors investing in some highbrow areas on the premise that the amount they have invested or intend to invest in those areas could buy several lands or build several houses in other places.

What is hidden to the critic is that although some areas are very expensive today, they have a long history of capital growth and will certainly grow in the future except something out of the ordinary happens. These areas are tested markets where the demand is always more than the supply. Some of these areas can only be accessed by those with lots of money and the value will continue to grow. Real estate millionaires always ensure that they have a sizeable number of their properties in these areas.

Value can also be manufactured if you can see the possibility. Many real estate millionaires have been created through this means .The ability to look at a location or a property and see how to create value from it has always been part of the secrets of real estate millionaires.

This is one reason why refurbishing or renovating properties has always been a means of making money for those who understand it. A real estate investor could approach a property owner who has a derelict property in a strategic location but has no money to refurbish or rebuild it and offer to rebuild it for him or her on clearly agreed terms. By the time the renovation is completed the property is often distinctly different from what was there before. The property can now easily command greater value.

Finally, astute real estate investors are good at using leverage. Leverage is a means of maximising limited resources to gain significant advantage. Leverage includes using a small savings supported with proper documentation to raise money from the bank that you then use to purchase a property which ordinarily you would not have considered. However, if the property is sold, you’ll benefit as if you had put down the entire purchase price. This alone will boost the possibility of your making big money in real estate.

Source: Abiodun Doherty

Gateway cities continue to top global real estate

London maintained its position as the top city for global real estate investment in 2018, according to research published today by JLL (NYSE:JLL). Investors continue to favor cities they are familiar with and that have well-established investment markets and high levels of transparency.

Well-known, large gateway cities with the world’s deepest concentrations of capital, companies and talent continue to dominate the top ranks. Twelve cities–London, New York, Paris, Seoul, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Shanghai, Washington DC, Sydney, Singapore, Toronto and Munich–have appeared in the top 30 ranking every year for the past decade and account for 30 percent of all real estate investment. 

The data shows that total volumes in 2018 were $733 billion, up 4 percent from 2017, the best annual performance in a decade. Cross-border purchases accounted for 31 percent of activity in 2018, close to the 10-year average, suggesting investors still have appetite to buy outside their own markets.

Richard Bloxam, Global Head of Capital Markets at JLL, said: “In a year when investors have had to deal with increasing populism, protectionism and political uncertainty, the appeal of real estate as an asset class has continued to increase. Interestingly, investors remain focused on gateway cities, despite tight pricing. Many are looking at alternative or emerging locations, as well as varying real estate property types within these cities, rather than exploring other less familiar cities. A notable trend is that half of these established gateway cities are in Asia Pacific. Increasing transparency in these markets is encouraging more investment, moving these cities even higher up the rankings in 2019 and beyond.”

Expectations for 2019

JLL projects that investment activity momentum will be maintained into 2019, as real estate continues to look attractive in comparison to other asset classes. Fundamentals in real estate remain compelling, despite historic low yields, as robust corporate occupier fundamentals across most markets are leading to positive returns. As such, investment activity may slow, but only marginally from its current high, as investors look to hold their real estate exposure and become more selective in the search for assets with strong income growth.

  • The institutional real estate universe will continue to expand, driven by factors such as low volatility, diversification benefits, long-term income and an attractive pricing premium to core sectors. Asset classes such as student housing, senior living and multi-family have continued to attract more institutional money in 2018 and this is likely to continue in 2019.

  • Industrial now accounts for 17 percent of all investment, up from 10 percent in 2009. In contrast, the retail sector has seen less activity as investors adjust their investment approach to reflect changing consumer behavior. In gateway cities, the office sector tends to account for a higher proportion of investment volumes—68 percent in 2018, compared to 51 percent in global volumes.
  • The top 30 will continue to be dominated by the gateway cities in 2019. However, at the edges, investors will consider a widening range of cities in their strategies. Reflecting real estate investors’ risk appetite, secondary cities in established transparent markets, such as Osaka and Atlanta, are likely to attract more attention, as opposed to moving into entirely new countries.

Yields are now at historic lows in most markets across the globe. A sharp correction is unlikely, as there is still a significant weight of capital looking to invest in real estate, and corporate occupier market fundamentals across many markets are positive. This creates the potential for continued income growth. However, in 2019, overall investment volumes are expected to fall approximately 5 to 10 percent below the 2018 total, driven by a slightly reduced appetite from investors to sell, as well as continued selectivity in acquisitions.

Source: Davos, Switzerland

The unusually large drop in home sales has real estate agents baffled

Real estate brokers are trying to figure out why sales of existing homes plunged in December.

The 6.4 percent monthly move was unusually large, regardless of direction. The tally from the National Association of Realtors generally moves in the very low single digits month to month.

In fact, the shift was one of the largest that didn’t involve some sort of change in government policy, like the homebuyer tax credit.

“The latest decline is harder to explain. Perhaps it is the decline in consumer confidence that’s been occurring in the latter half of 2018,” said Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the Realtors. “The latest numbers do not reflect the lower, current mortgage rates compared to the November figures, so it’s really harder to explain.”

The supply of homes for sale also rose just more than 3 percent compared with a year ago. Low supply had been holding sales back last spring, despite strong demand, so it would make sense that more supply would boost sales, unless this is a sign that demand is weakening.

“This weakness is certainly due to the sharp home price gains along with the rise in mortgage rates,” said Peter Boockvar, chief investment officer at Bleakley Advisory Group.

Affordability has been blamed for slower sales over the past six months, but sales in December matched the same pace as in 2000, and Yun argues that affordability is better now.

“Today it is actually more affordable compared to year 2000, yet we have about 20 million more jobs, so for home sales to be roughly equivalent means that in 2018 there is an underperformance of the overall housing sector.”

That underperformance cannot be blamed on the partial government shutdown, as most of these deals would have been signed in October, well before even the threat of that. It also cannot be blamed on stock market volatility, as that didn’t really kick into high gear until mid-November.

Interest rates did move higher in October but started their slide lower in November, and rates were higher in September as well, so it wasn’t a sudden jump. Rates are also still historically low. In fact, mortgage rates in 2000 were twice what they are now. Of course home prices were lower then.

“While positive demographics and a solid job market would normally offset this relatively modest rise in mortgage rates, it’s been about 10 years since mortgage rates have been as high as they were at the November peak – suggesting that there is a larger share of current homeowners who feel they are ‘locked in’ at a lower mortgage rate … reducing the number of them who would be looking for a home at a higher mortgage rate,” said David Berson, chief economist at Nationwide.

If anything, the drop may be due to the fact that home prices are actually falling in some areas, especially in the West, and in the rest of the nation the gains are shrinking. That makes it easier to afford a home, but less desirable if potential buyers are concerned that their new home’s value will immediately depreciate. No one wants to catch a falling knife.

The median home price of $259,100 in 2018 was the highest on record. While mortgage rates did drop in December, the expectation is that they will move higher this year, and that will hurt affordability further.

“Looking ahead to 2019, expect weaker existing-homes sales as the new year ushered in a government shutdown and worsening economic uncertainty,” said Cheryl Young, senior economist at Trulia.

Source: David Paul Morris

What You Need To Know If You Are Investing In California Real Estate

California is always different, somehow always better or worse than the rest of the country.

This year there are two Californias. One that’s not much different than the rest of the country and one where real estate markets must be watched very carefully because home prices are getting into bubble territory.

We used data from Local Market Monitor, Inc. to build a table to show the split. The top half lists nine markets where home prices are 25 percent or more above the “income” price – a calculated price closely tied to local income that’s been an infallible predictor of bubbles. Over-priced marketsalways come back in line with the “income” price, sometimes by stagnating for while the “income” price catches up, sometimes by falling very sharply two or three years in a row.

Click here to watch weekly episodes of our Housing Development Programme on AIT

The reason these markets are so over-priced, of course, is that the local economies have created demand for housing much faster than builders can produce new supply. In the Bay area the high demand is due to the rapid development of technology industries, especially because they produce a lot of high-paid jobs. In the LA area – where average home prices are much lower – the lack of construction over the past decade is the main problem.

A slowdown of the national economy – which I think is very likely in the next two years – will affect the most over-priced markets the most. In the Bay area, companies will shed high-priced engineers, which will have the greatest effect on higher-priced real estate. In LA, jobs will be affected more generally but real estate will feel the effect most in the outlying residential markets like Riverside-San Bernardino.

So, what should you do in these over-priced markets? Our ability to predict the exact moment a market will go bust isn’t very good – you therefore need to think more about managing your risk now rather than timing your moves later. If you’ve been thinking about selling property, think sooner rather than later. If you’ve made a long-term investment and can ride out a dip in prices, don’t worry too much. If you’re flipping properties, shorten your time-horizon. If you’re investing in rental property, stay away from the upper end.

For an actual bubble-and-bust I’m most worried about San Francisco itself, already heavily over-priced and with prices up 14 percent in the past year, San Jose, where job growth remains very high, and Riverside-San Bernardino, which is always the tail of the LA dog.

The eleven markets in the bottom half of our table aren’t immune from a fall in demand but the risks are lower, so investors have a wider range of options.

With the exception of Santa Maria, all have job growth that is at or above the national average rate. And home prices in the past year were up between 5 and 11 percent. These are signs of good growth in demand for housing, as long as home prices don’t stray much above 20 percent.

In these markets a slowdown won’t hurt home prices very much, so you can make just about any kind of investment – rehab for resale, single-family rentals, splitting single-family homes into multi-unit rentals, flipping properties, apartments.

In Stockton, Modesto and Salinas, where demand is partly tied to the Bay area – which is why prices have been rising sharply – investors should stick to rentals in the “target rent range”, which extends from the average monthly rent to about 25 percent higher. This is where you find the largest concentration of renters – an important consideration when demand slows.

And in the those markets where job growth has been slowing the most – Salinas, Modesto, Sacramento, Santa Maria – rental investors should restrict themselves to recession-resistant locations near colleges, medical centers, retail centers, government offices.

California remains the land of opportunity, but also the land of boom and bust. This year investors can still find opportunity there but need to carefully check the risks.

Source: Ingo Winzer

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