Jazz @ Grizzlies: Despite being on the road this game is winnable for the Jazz. Like Utah, Memphis struggles offensively and plays a similar game to the Jazz. Both teams aren’t far away from each other and it isn’t good for whoever loses this one. Memphis isn’t too far ahead of LA and Sacramento and could easily fall out of the playoffs if they lose too much. This is going to be a close fought out match with the home team winning straight up.

Predicted Score: Memphis wins 83-81

76ers @ Warriors: With Baron Davis out, they matchup between Phili and Golden State is the meeting of two one-man teams. Jason Richardson continues to increase his scoring but the rest of his team has not. With their playoff hopes out of reach, players like Ike Diogu and Andris Biedrins should start to get more playing time. Road win here for the sixers.

Predicted Score: Philadelphia wins 96-91

Celtics @ Pacers: Boston and Indiana play great games when it’s held at TD Bankworth Garden. However it’s a different story for the games played in Indiana. Stephen Jackson has played better than Peja lately and both are overdue to score 20+ in the same game. This is a blowout winner for Indiana.

Predicted Score: Indiana wins 96-84

Source by David Pincus

So, you think you want to be a real estate investor?

As an agent, roughly 50 percent of my client base is made up of them, so I write a lot about investors and wannabe investors. I tell anyone interested to first learn as much as they can about it. And then, have an honest conversation with yourself.

Are you sure you’ve done enough research? Have you adjusted your spending? Or spoken with a lender? Are you familiar with the applicable metrics? Do you have realistic expectations when it comes to your market?

All of these things are imperative to consider. I’m not trying to make investing seem off-putting, but I am trying to help you get a handle on what it is and is not.

And here’s something fundamentally more important than anything else when it comes to investing: time is money.

The obsession with metrics (cash on cash, cap rate, 1%, 2%, etc.) often overwhelms investors, blinding them to the reality that the biggest enemy is time. Put simply, if you walk away from a deal to hit a certain metric, you just might lose big.

Related: 5 Ways to Know You’re Not Ready to Invest in Real Estate

man resting chin on hand looking as though he's deep in thought

Let’s say you walk away from an early spring deal on a $300K property. You wanted the price to be $5K to $10K lower than what the seller was ready to let it go for.

But realistically, in a hot market, there’s a good chance that by summer, you would’ve recouped that cost in appreciation. In Denver, for example, we’ve seen 6 to 8 percent increases year over year, and you would’ve almost definitely experienced as much in the next 365 days.

In fact, for a house priced right, you could be looking to gain an average of $18,000 to $24,000 by next year—that is, unless you choose to walk away because the seller is unwilling to meet your standards.

The same situation speaks to the critical nature of knowing your market. And it’s really important to know where you’re at in life, too.

I created an all-female investing group here in Colorado. I have two investors that gravitate toward properties in the Midwest (Oklahoma and Ohio, specifically). While appreciation isn’t as strong there, they are cash flowing $500 per month on long-term renters. This is appealing to them because they are closer to retirement and need that money.

Alternatively, in a market like Denver or Colorado Springs, real estate prices have skyrocketed. Rents have increased to be sure, yet making $500 in cash flow is difficult—if not unrealistic—with a long-term rental.

Related: 7 Tips for Getting a House in a Hot Market (Like Denver!)

woman behind window smiling drinking coffee in cafe

But if an investor planned on holding a property for the next five years, it goes to stand that it would appreciate. And eventually, it just may cash flow because rents will surpass the mortgage. In the meantime, you may have to pay $100 to $200 out of pocket, but someone else is paying the bulk of your mortgage and/or cutting down your rent significantly.

Is chasing appreciation a fool’s errand? Maybe. But you can look at a city’s health and make some assumptions.

For instance, even though buyers are getting a little more power in Denver, the city still has all the hallmarks of a place with increasing home values: lots of out-of-state money flowing in, diversity of industry (i.e., healthcare, tourism, tech, and marijuana), and a very educated workforce.

I know, I know. To even suggest an investment that doesn’t cash flow is heresy, but similar to most money endeavors (ahem, the stock market), getting in early is the key to long-term financial success.

What doesn’t work so well is walking away over and over again because you fear you haven’t found the perfect deal.

Have you walked away from an imperfect deal and regretted it?

Comment below.

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The good ole 'days were refreshing. You could put up a sign in your yard and get fast responses from interested potential buyers, or hire a listing agent and not worry about their responsibilities eating up your cash. Times have changed.

Real estate has become competitive. In some areas, it's a sellers market. In others, buyer's take the reins. No matter what, there are many thousands more individuals in real estate now than there were back then. With investment seminars and flipping shows becoming more mainstream, the real estate pool is growing larger on a daily basis.

But what if you are in a hurry to sell? Does that mean you are motivated? Let's take a look at what constituents a motivated seller, and if or not some of these seller techniques will work for your situation …


  • You are facing foreclosure

Times can be tough. You may have been let go from that job and could not replace the income in time. The bank sent you a letter giving you notice of a Lis Pendens (the beginning of a foreclosure, also known as a preforeclosure) You are out of options, and you do not want the foreclosure to end up destroying your credit.

  • You are behind on taxes

Just as before, this is an immediate situation that can destroy your credit. Taxes will get collected no matter what, so bad credit does not need to be added to the mix. Back-taxes will not only eat up your equity, but will also be attached to your future wages.

  • You have bad tenants

You are constantly receiving complaints about the tenants in one of your properties. Police are becoming a normal sight in front of the property. Perhaps the renters are turning your intended investment into a drug house. You do not want to deal with the situation and would rather take cash out of the investment and walk away.

  • You are getting divorced

Let's face it. Not many are fair in divorce proceedings. Who is keeping the house? Neither of you? So you have no choice but to sell quickly so you can avoid your soon to be ex like the plague, and get some cash for a fresh start.

  • You are retiring

Whether you are a landlord who is retiring from the business, or a couple with a home that you've had for years, you just want some cash for your equity so you can move to warmer climates and bingo.

  • You inherited real estate

You just inherited a house or multi unit property, but would rather have cash instead. You want a quick sale, and do not want to be bothered with upkeep.

  • You are an out of state owner

You thought you could manage the investment property in California while relaxing in your home in Maine. Unfortunately, good help is hard to find and the property managers all turn out to be drunks. The grass is high and you are getting letters. It's causing more heads than it's worth.

  • You just want some extra cash

You do not have a need for the property in question and you simply want to pad your bank account.

These are all valid reasons that would make you a motivated seller. The only question I have for you in this case is … are you greedy?

A number one killer of real estate sales is an owner who has too much pride to accept that the market will not support their outlandish property valuations. The fair market value may be high, but nobody is biting. How is that quick sale going for you? The first step in selling your home quickly is acknowledging that you need to be open minded. If you can be open minded about the price of the sale, or the terms, then selling fast will be a breeze.

Where are my target buyers?

You have quite a few options. Some will take longer than others. Probably the number one way of selling quickly is seeking out a wholesaler. A wholesaler is a real estate investor who looks for discounted properties, wrists an offer, then assigns the contract to one of their many cash buyers. Often, the wholesaler will have hundreds, or even thousands of investors in their contact list who are ready to buy immediately. Their investment partners have been qualified by the wholesaler with proof of funds, and will have shown the wholesaler multiple deals that they have closed in the past.

There are wholesalers that buy properties in multiple states, while other wholesalers are limited to a single state. Some of them even stick to a specific city or regional area. They are known for the use of phrases such as "we buy houses, any area, any condition". While many wholesalers stick to deeply discounted properties, others work with low equity deals where Subject2 and seller financing can be put into play. These are some of the techniques that require you to be an open-minded seller that is truly "motivated".

Another option for a quick sale is Craigslist and other classified websites. If you are going the classifieds route, you have to be prepared for the 'tire kicker' responses. There can be a lot of newbie investors, and people who are just looking that will take a lot of your time to screen out before finding a true buyer. When listing a classified ad for your home, make sure you include as many details as possible in the ad. Leaving out bedrooms, bathrooms, parking, and other features will only mean that you have to spend time discussing these things when taking the multitude of calls you will receive.

If classifieds are not your thing, you will want to find buyers through a more direct route. Go to where they hang out. There are forums such as EquityPaper, and BiggerPockets that have premium subscription options for real estate listings and other networking tools. These are forums where investors get together to discuss real estate topics daily. If you list your home in these professional member areas, or marketplaces, you can get fairly quick responses from interested buyers.

Determining property value to an investor

When listing your property, there are some things that potential buyers will want to know in addition to the standard property details. ARV (after repair value) is one of them. To find your ARV, go to Zillow, Trulia, and Redfin. On each of those websites, search for your property and write down the estimated value for each of them. Add all 3 of those values, then divide the sum by 3. The result will be your ARV.

After you have your ARV, you want to determine what the new buyer will have to put into the property in repairs. If your home is in great condition, you only need to account for simple things such as paint, appliances, and other things related to the buyer's tastes. You would multiply your square foot by $ 10 to get the total credit the buyer will want. If the property needs some updates such as flooring, new toilet, etc, then you will multiple the SF by $ 15. Broken windows, doors, etc will be $ 20. If the house is a disaster and a complete rehab, then the multiplier is $ 30. Now subtract that number from the ARV.

Whether or not the buyer is a wholesaler or a flipper, they need to make something off of the deal. This can be anywhere from $ 2,000 to $ 50,000 or more depending on the location, value, and other factors for your property. Many good wholesalers will stick to the $ 10,000 pricepoint or close to it however. So take your new ARV and subtract the buyer profit for an expectation on how much money you will be offered for the property.

Creative financing for a fast sale

Assuming that the final number from the calculations listed above was not even close to taking care of what you owe on the property, then you need to learn to be creative. Some wholesalers and flippers will still take a property with little to no equity.

Subject 2 Financing

Subject 2 is a technique that allows the new buyers to take over your mortgage payments, and assume control over the property. Sub2 investors are looking for leverage so that they do not tie up their credit, but can obtain a rental property at the same time.

A seller may have a concern when dealing with a sub2 deal. For example, what if the buyer does not pay the mortgage and it ends up as a bad credit item for the seller? Well, there are protections that are in place for sellers during subject 2 existing financing deals.

  • A single late payment can be a deal breaker. It can be made so that in this event, the buyer is in default and they lose the property back to the seller. This single possibility is reason # 1 for it being a rare scenario. Most subject 2 investors are seasoned. They have been doing it for years, and have made millions through rentals with such deals.
  • Limitation clauses such as one requiring the buyer to refinance the property in their own name within a set time period reduces the risk even further. Let's say that in 2 years time, the buyer is required to refi. By then, they will have accumulated enough equity by paying down your loan for this to be a possibility through traditional lending methods. Even in the worse case, they can secure hard money after that time in order to leakage additional time to flip the property or get other financing.

Contract for deed, or lease option

If you are not in a complete hurry for a bunch of cash, you can sell on a contract for deed, or a lease option. This will ensure that the buyer is liable for upkeep, insurance, taxes, and everything else, while giving you a monthly income stream with little risk. With either technique, you are getting a fast sale. The best part is that you retain the deed to the home until the buyer's obligations are met. If they default, you can simply evict them and start over again with a new buyer. The best part is that you are engaging interest with your equity at a rate you agreed on in the sale.

FSBO (for sale by owner) does not have to be hard. It can be quite lucritive, and amazingly fast when you learn to be open-minded and creative.

Source by Brandon Connell

In today’s highly competitive, low cap rate environment, it’s vital to get the underwriting correct. For example, at a 5 percent cap rate, every dollar you miss in net operating income translates to $20 in price.

So, if you underwrite $10,000 in income you shouldn’t have, you just lost $200K in value. Pretty serious stuff!

Larger multifamily deals and the added complexity of the transaction create more opportunities to get tricked or to miss something.

In smaller deals, it’s pretty simple. You’re really just looking at the stated rents and applying a vacancy factor.

On bigger deals, to truly get a handle on income you’ll need to understand the interplay between market rents, loss to lease, concessions, bad debt expense, and marketing expense. Then, there are a handful of other income line items, as well.

Maybe you come across a deal where rent increases appear to be red hot over the past three or four months and vacancy is tightening. But along with that, you see a spike in concessions, bad debt expense, and marketing expense. Maybe utility reimbursements dip, as well.

If you’re focused on the rents, you may underwrite those numbers and lean on your property manager to get expenses more in-line with a typical property. Then, you acquire the property and watch your rents decline.

Sure seems like those sly foxes on the other side of the transaction bought up rents and lowered credit standards to drive income for the sale. And you fell for the shenanigans! Bummer.

Before I continue, here’s a quick word on brokers. This article is not about broker bashing. Brokers are generally hardworking, good people trying to do their job. And it’s the broker’s job to get the highest price for his or her client.

The good brokers do an excellent job of presenting their properties in the best possible light. In this game, there’s no one to go crying to if you get it wrong. (Well, maybe your mommy.) But unfortunately, you have no one to blame but yourself if you overpay and lose money.

Getting upset at a broker for convincing you to pay too much would be like me giving my two-year-old paint and then getting upset when the cat is purple. (Side note to my wife: That’s on me, honey. I’m sorry.)

Here are a few areas where a less experienced buyer may be convinced to pay a higher price than they should.

Gross Potential Rent Shenanigans

One of the most common things we see is a sudden increase in market rents before a sale. Problem is, they aren’t actually collecting any more rent. It usually looks something like this:

The seller raises their market rent by $100K, but the actual rent charged hasn’t changed, so loss to lease goes up $100K and the gross potential rent is unchanged.

However, it isn’t easy or intuitive to see that on a raw rent roll. You’ve got to break down the rent roll and do some analysis to find out what is going on.

It would be easier to see the market rents and assume they’re achievable—especially when the broker cherry picks the very best comps.

When you ask about the loss to lease, the reply might be, “All you have to do is burn off the loss to lease and you’ve got a real winner!”

Sure, there are deals that are slightly undermanaged. Nonetheless, do you really think the seller is just leaving $100K in rent ($1.5 to $2 million in value) on the table?


Related: How Do You Know Who You Can Trust?

Value-Add Shenanigans

Many value-add deals come from a seller who has done a number of units already to prove the concept. At my company, we look into it further. When we do, we’ll often see the offering memorandum (OM) suggest that the units that have already been renovated still have meat on the bone because the current owner didn’t maximize the renovation.

Sometimes we’re told all we’ll have to do is make a few small updates in order to achieve a large bump in rents. So, you’re telling me adding USB ports and smart thermostats to a fully renovated unit will get another $75 in rent premium? Sign me up!


On the non-renovated units, we’ll also see the broker suggest a laughably high premium. They point to a few far superior deals in the market that are more recently built with better layouts and amenities and say that there is $300 in “headroom” to achieve with a renovation. Then, we break down the rent roll and discover that the actual premium they’ve achieved thus far is $80…


Pensive young entrepreneur looking at laptop screen and drinking coffee at table in cafe

To set our expected renovation premiums, we look to three different data sets. The first and most accurate numbers will come from the renovation premiums the current owner has achieved. Even if you plan to do a few things differently, the market won’t drastically improve with a few new finishes.

After that, we look at similar vintage, recently renovated comps with the same ceiling height as the subject. I think a lot of investors overlook the importance of ceiling height. A unit with eight-foot ceilings will just never feel like a premium unit even with a great renovation.

Ideally, we’d like to be able to underwrite to the lower end of the rent spectrum relative to these comps. And if we execute a great reno, the additional rent is gravy.

Last, we take a look at deals at least 10 to 15 years newer than ours. These deals are just designed better. They have better amenities and floor plans.

No matter how good your renovation is, these deals will always look and feel a little better. We want to make sure our rents remain a good $100 or more below these properties so we maintain the value proposition to renters wanting a nice unit at a fair price.

Related: Warning: How to Handle a Real Estate Investment Gone Bad!

Negotiating Shenanigans

It’s great to have a good relationship with brokers. It can definitely help you in a competitive bidding process. But let’s not forget who the broker is working for.

It’s not uncommon to hear something to this effect: “If you can come up another $500K, the deal is yours.”

What they’re not telling you is that you’re already the highest bidder, and they’re just trying to squeeze out a little more for their client. The broker is trying to give you the old “sugar-me-do.” (Bonus points for the first person to identify that reference in the comments.)

We’ve bought a number of deals where we thought we might need to come up, decided to stand pat, and then had the deal awarded to us.


To be fair, we’ve lost more deals than we’ve won when they tell us we need to come up. But the takeaway here is to commit to your number and don’t fall for the temptation to stretch juuuust a little more than your max.

When stepping up into larger multifamily deals, you’re going to be dealing with more sophisticated real estate professionals. There is an implied understanding that if you’re playing in that space, you’re capable of swimming with the sharks.

To be sure, most people I’ve come across are honest, good people. But they’re pros for a reason. Expect them to do everything they can to get a better deal than you. They expect you to do the same. And at the end of the transaction, when the dust settles, only you are responsible for the deal you’ve got.

Have you encountered these situations? What others types of shenanigans have you come across?

Let me know in a comment below.

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Nuveen Real Estate, a global real estate investment manager owned by TIAA, is planning a significant expansion of its multifamily real estate business in the U.S. Nuveen announced this week that it launching what it calls the “U.S. Cities Multifamily Fund,” a real estate investment vehicle that just closed on its first investment round, which raised $550 million to invest in multifamily real estate.

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One of the unexpected truths of the industrial age is that people enjoy shopping. They enjoy picking things up, and comparing them; it's all the pleasure responses from being hunter-gatherers, without having to watch out for leopards or hyenas. The modern extension of this is retail space that packs a lot of retailers together in close proximacy. We've all seen this pattern – it's the shopping mall or strip mall.

The strip mall is a solid vehicle for commercial real estate investment, provided you're in a part of the country with significant and real job growth. Current figures show that occupancy rates are increasing, with a nationwide vacancy rate of under 8%, and a number of hot markets under 3%. What this means is that you can expect over 90% occupancy rates through most of the urban areas of the country (it's harder to fill rural strip malls, so be warned), and expect on average about 15% churn (new tenants moving out and being replaced) per year. Over the last year, strip mall rents have risen by between 1 and 6%, depending on the market, outstripping inflation, and making them a prime candidate for a buy-and-hold strategy.

Stripalls are a poor choice for a buy-and-flip real estate investor, so make sure that one fits your overall investment strategy. A good strip mall produces a revenue stream that's fairly even, but will not give much more than a 5-6% annual rate of return on your investment. Like all rental properties, you are dependent on the cycle of job growth and the local humps and bumps of the economic cycle; make sure that your rental income is generating a significant cash flow even at low levels of occupancy, because economic news and job creation and loss, like the tides, will ebb and flow, and they're your bread and butter indicator for how to plan with your investment.

Cities that have grown out, rather than up, such as Houston, are good candidates for strip mall ownership. If you're building a new facility rather than buying an existing one, do what you can to drum up clients before the mall is completed; when you know when the doors are open, you'll want to have at least one or two "anchor" businesses in the mall immediately. (An anchor business is generally a large national chain, usually electronics or clothing driven, depending on the demographic chosen).

Strip mall and shopping center design is a mixture of planning and artistry. Look at your local demographic trends, and consider all your options. One of the newer trends in shopping centers are what are called lifestyle centers. Catering to people who are looking for entertainment options as well as shopping, lifestyle centers offer theaters, restaurants beyond the basic food court, and are laid out with a wider array of parking options are a fast growing trend. Many are more open air, and a number of cities (like Philadelphia and Houston) offer grants for making some of your shopping center into parkland. Focus on who you want to come to your center, and build relationships with businesses that will pull in those customers for you.

Recall that shopping centers are, in today's hectic world, family centers, and plan appropriately. If you have a suboptimal space (one that's hard to rent, and every mall has at least one), consider leasing it at cost (or marginally above) to the YMCA or another charitable organization that provides facilities for children with some modicum of supervision. The loyalty you build from harried parents for your other tenants will be greatly appreciated if your mall has a place where children can be sent to play that's safe and well lit while they go and shop without having to mind them.

Do not overlook the cultural opportunities for a shopping center; many of the layout arrangements that make for aesthetically pleasing, friendly shopping experiences can also be used for small open air concerts or small theater productions; in addition to pulling more customers into the mall, it's a point of differentiation that, in a world where over 800 shopping centers, totaling 106 million feet of floor space were opened last year, is critical.

Ultimately, your shopping center is an investment in your community, and an investment you get a solid return on.

Source by Tony J Seruga

Tucked into the pocket of a pair of hundred-year-old railroad engineer coveralls, you are immediately returned to an era of vintage rail transportation here. Like triumphantly raised arms, two silver smokestacks proclaim their victory over time, which other looks posed by the sprawling, wooden, red-painted shop complex surrounding it, modified by not a single nail since it first rose from the ground. A cobweb of tracks, imbedded in the artery which divides the twin boroughs of Rockhill Furnace and Orbisonia, merges into three in front of the depot, which bears the latter's name, departure point for one of three daily, narrow-gauge, steam locomotive- rolled trains operating as the East Broad Top Railroad. The clang of a bell, run across the street, indicating the arrival of a bright red trolley car from the opposite direction.

Tourists ride the rails today; coal miners rode them yesterday.

Cradled by Blacklog Mountain and both Saddleback and Sandy Ridges, the area, then undeveloped, beckoned prospectors with its natural resources, consisting of agricultural land, water, timber, coal, and iron, the Blacklog Creek both feeding and leading them to what would become its twin boroughs.

Initially serving as a Native American campsite and hunting ground, as evidenced by archeological passages found at Sandy Ridge, the area first took root in 1754 when land was purchased from Six Nations, and the first road, mimicking the original Indian path and fostering westward expansion of settlers, was created 33 yeas later, stretching between Burnt Cabins in the south and Huntingdon in the north.

Bedford Furnace, the area's first village, evolved from a trading post in 1760. Providing both a sense of location and permanence, it attracted the first white settler, George Erwin, who established a trading post in a log cabin, shipping goods over narrow, wilderness-tunneling trails and exchanging them with travelers and Native Americans alike.

Placing the initial pin into the map, the Bedford Furnace Company established a charcoal furnace in order to be able to produce iron in 1785, sparking growth in the Juniata Valley and serving as the first of many to ever characterize it.

Rockhill Furnace Number 1, built in 1831 by Thomas Diven and William Morrison south of the town in Blacklog Narrows, replaced the smaller, original plant, while Winchester Furnace, the third such ironworks, rose a few hundred yards away.

Abandoned in 1850 after a less-than-prosperous reign, it was joined seven years later by furnace Number 1 when area deforestation depleted the timber necessary for iron smelting charcoal, although the Civil War once again-albeit temporarily-re-lit its fires.

A mortgage foreclosure preceded its purchase in 1867, but its resurrection now hinged upon a fuel source to feed it. The needed pot of gold at the end of the rainbow-or, in this case, on top of the rainbow-came in the form of coal discovered on Broad Top Mountain. What was now required was a method to transport it from its summit-located mines to the iron furnaces in the east.

East Broad Top Railroad:

During the early-1850s, Pennsylvania's Juniata Valley began to sprout rails.

The single track of Pennsylvania Central Railways, thread through the narrow mountain passes and along the Juniata River, connected Lewistown and Huntingdon, for the first time offering a non-aquatic, intrastate transport alternative to the Public Work's Main Line Canal. The Pennsylvania Railroad's own all-line line soon grown branches throughout the Allegheny Mountains, allowing it to penetrate hills and valleys in order to collect and haul the region's licenses in the form of lumber and coal. Track laid between 1853 and 1854 enabled the Huntingdon and Broad Top Railway to surmount its very namesaked incline on the west side. But rail access remains a void on its east.

Although the necessary charter for such a rail line had been granted on April 16, 1856, several proposals-and 14 years-ensued before a group of Philadelphia businessmen, spurred by the Civil War's cry for additional track to move troops and supplies, collected the required capital to construct one, forming, with the aid of the still-born charter, the East Broad Top Railroad and Coal Company on July 3, 1871. It was decided, from the outside, to employ three-foot, narrow gauge track in order to reduce construction and operating costs and facilitate tighter turns.

The first track was put to bed on September 16 of the following year and its first locomotive, a 17.5-ton, wood-burning, narrow-gauge 2-6-0 built by the Baldwin Locomotive Works of Philadelphia and named the "Edward Roberts , "was delivered a year after that.

Like a journey of time, track-laying could be measured by the calendar, the first 11 miles of it reaching Rockhill Furnace on August 30, 1873, ascending Siding and Wrays Hills before arriving in Robertsdale the following year-all for the purpose of transportation coal and forestry products from Broad Top Mountain to Mount Union, its southern terminus, for transfer to standard-gauge Pennsylvania Railroad trains.

The original village of Rockhill Furnace, taking shape round the iron furnaces a half-mile from the current depot on the banks of Blacklog Creek, progressively expanded.

The fleet evenly multiplied when three 26-ton Baldwin Consolidation engines were contacted between late-1873 and early-1874, the same year that the Robertsdale-mined coal was first rail-transported to Rockhill Furnace to fuel the blast furnaces now taken over by the newly-formed Rockhill Iron and Coal Company to extremely produce pig iron.

As a town, Rockhill Furnace took initial form as a dual-stack iron furnace and collection of coke ovens, which expanded into the East Broad Top Railroad shop complex lining the Jordan Creek-a veritable pocket of self-adequacy.

Occupying the farmland purchased for the complex and employing the original, still-exhausted stone farmhouse for its administrative offices, the soon-sprawling plant's gears were turned by means of its steam-powered overhead shafts and belts, with additional electricity and compressed air generated by its boiler plant, pumping current, like flowing blood, to its foundry and machine, car, and blacksmith shops. Its brick roundhouse, historically encompassing eight stalls, facilitated alignment with the needed track, provided light locomotive maintenance, and served as a storage shed, while heavy repairs occurred in the machine shop. Commodities necessary for steam engine operation, including water, coal, and sand, were stored through the complex, which itself was capable of the locomotive repair and maintenance functions themselves, as well as rolling stock manufacture and the production of forgings, castings, and machine parts for both the railroad and the mines it accessed.

The yard's wye, formed by track from Mount Union and crossing Meadow Street (Pennsylvania Route 994) just past the Orbisonia depot, facilitated intra-complex car movement, storage positioning, and train configuration, providing access to either Alvan or the Shade Gap Branch, depending upon car orientation.

Indeed, the shop complex served as one of many links in a chain, none of which could have implemented without the other, inclusive of the area's natural resources giving rise to the iron smelting industry, the railroad needed to transport the coal to fuel it, the shops to manufacture and maintain its equipment, and the town arising to support the work which turned its gears.

Its fleet initially encompassed two passenger coaches, two baggage cars, and 176 freight and coal hopper cars.

From the mainline, which extended from Robertsdale to Woodvale in 1891 and Alvan in 1916, spur tracks spread like treaties from a central vein as additional mines were bored, resulting in the Shade Gap, Shade Valley, Booher Mine, Rocky Ridge, Number 7 and Number 8, Coles Valley, and NARCO branches, and the Shirleysburg clay spur.

With progressive expansion and prosperity, the East Broad Top Railroad began to carry passengers over and above the standard miners, coal, and freight for what and for which it had been conceived.

The beginning of the 20th century signified the railroad's infrastructure modernization program. Iron rails, for example, were replaced by steel ones. Wood was equally swapped for steel on trestles and bridges, and the durable metal for the first time formed its freight cars.

In 1926, coal-in addition to iron ore, quartzite ganister rock, forest products, and other miscellany-compiled 80 percent of its freight, exceeding 26 million ton-miles alone.

According to East Broad Top Railroad Timetable Number 53, effective Monday, September 29, 1930, it covered the 33-mile main line route from Mount Union to Alvan in one hour, 45 minutes, one southbound run departing at 0920 and arriving at 1105 via Allenton, Adams, Aughwick, Pump Station, Shirleysburg, Orbisonia, Pogue, Three Springs, Saltillo, Fairview, Kimmel, Coles, Rocky Ridge, Wrays Hill, Cooks, Robertsdale, and Woodvale.

Like everything in life, however, the railroad experienced both peaks and troughs. When the depression sunk its teeth into its profits, it was reorganized, simply, as the Rockhill Coal Company, and J. William Wetter claimed the presidence of both the iron furnace and the railroad which fed it.

Exerting its demands for commodities, however, World War II temporarily re-lit the fires in its furnaces, and strip-mining joined its list of coal and ganister rock extractions for the first time.

Inevitably, with the iron supply dwindling and coal the only commodity left to haul, the end of the line-literally-loomed ahead. Passenger rail services from Mount Union to Woodvale, initially curtailed from the two daily, Monday-to-Saturday round-trips, to single single, were replaced discontinued on August 15, 1954, leaving coal as its sole, and increasingly unprofitable, type of freight. Mount Union brick plants, converting from coal to natural gas, no longer needed it for their own liability, while the proliferation of rail-replacing roads hammered the final anvil into the line. Mail, now transferred to truck transport, obviated the need for the post office contract.

The Rockhill Coal Company terminated its coal shipment requirements on March 31 and the East Broad Top Railroad's raison d'être essentially ended.

The last service, a round-trip from Rockhill Furnace to Mount Union via Saltillo and operated by 161,000-pound locomotive Number 17-a Baldwin 2-8-2 built in 1918-occurred on April 6, 1956, while all common carrier operations mimicked the event a little less than a month later, on May 1.

Stretching through the area, from Mount Union and climbing Broad Top Mountain on its east side, its mainline track network, along with its numerous, initially-intact branch lines, appeared like the cobwebs clinging to once-useful pieces of history, but now relegated to relics, their only associated movement, albeit in painstakingly slow form, being the weeds and grasses which sprouted between their cross-ties until they camouflaged them.

Not far behind was a second onslaught-in the form of the Kovalchick Salvage Company of Indiana, Pennsylvania – which had purchased the entire system, including its locomotives, cars, stations, shops, buildings, company houses, rights-of-way, and the land from which the once-precious coal commodity had been removed.

Four years passed. A few branch lines were uprooted. A handful of cars was sold to rail fans who insured on owning a tangible piece of history. The weeds continued to aggressively attack and conquer the tracks. But, strangely, the dismantling company did not.

Indeed, instead of eradicating this piece of narrow gauge, steam railroad and coal mining history from the stage where it had been enacted, Nick Kovalchick, president of his company, became conservationist of it, rising from salvager to savior.

The East Broad Top Railroad's first re-purposed spark was lit by Orbisonia's one-week bicentennial celebration, which cornerstone was the very rail line which had given birth to it, perhaps reflecting an act of creation, in which nothing really dies.

Replacing tourists with coal, the trains would once again ply the tracks, offering return-to-history excursions. Cleared of underbrush, and given the necessary repairs, they once again supported railroad life when locomotive number 12, a 1911 2-8-2 Baldwin, was christened with ginger ale by Kovalchick's daughter, Millie, on August 13, 1960.

Pulling two converted, open-air and four passenger coaches over the hitherto 3.5 miles of resurrected rail, it chugged, belched, and hissed black smoke and white steam, returning to the natural element for which it had been designed, as far as Colgate Grove . Because a wye had not been remedially installed until later, locomotive number 15, having followed the proud, narrow gauge chain, dropped it back to the Orbisonia station.

Instead of departing history, the railroad, now under command of new president, Nick Kovalchick, has been returning to it ever since.

Designated a Registered National Historic Landmark by the United States Department of Interior in 1964, it is both the oldest-and oldest still-operating-narrow gauge railroad east of the Rocky Mountains, and today ranks as one of the "top tucks" into the preserved pockets of narrow gauge steam railroad history.

Tourists and locals alike retrace the bicentennial path, now stretching five miles, on one of three round-trip weekend excursion trains during May, June, and September; on Thursday-to-Sunday frequencies from July to mid-August; and during three-day, Friday-to-Sunday periods in October, covering the tenms during 70-minute runs, ten minutes of which set a pause in Colgate Grove. Special and theme trains are offered on Mother's Day, Independence Day (accompanied by appropriate fireworks), Civil War weekends, on Labor Day, during the fall foliage season, on Halloween, and on Polar Express trips in December. Children-applicable trains are dropped by Thomas the Tank engines.

Although some 25 different steam locomotives plied the East Broad Top Railroad's tracks through its history, eight-listed of six narrow gauge 2-8-2s and two standard gauge 0-6-0s-remain today, one of which is stored at the Whitewater Valley Railroad in Indiana. Most of the others continue to occupy their original residences-the roundhouse in the Rockhill Furnace shop complex.

The Number 3, a Baldwin standard gauge 0-6-0 built in 1923, was restricted to operations in the Mount Union switching yard and at the coal cleaning plant. The last and most powerful of the type, it was retired in April of 1956 and is stored in the Mount Union engine house.

The Number 12, a Baldwin 2-8-2 constructed in 1911, was contrastively the first and smallest Mikado to have been acquired, capable of hauling up to 15 loaded hopper cars from the coals mines. It was last used in 2000.

Of the same class as its Number 12 predecessor, the Number 14, built in 1912, was the second narrow gauge locomotive to be acquired, featuring both increased weight and power.

Still greater capacity was offered by the Number 15, constructed in 1914, to satisfy increasing demand, enabling it to pull up to 18 loaded hopper cars.

The first of three large Mikados, the Number 16 of 1916, introduced superheaters, piston valves, and a Southern gear valve. It was retired a year before the original East Broad Top Railroad discontinued service, in 1955.

The succeeding number 17 became the only heavy Mikado to be provisioned for tourist train service, while the number 18, the last and largest in the fleet, was retired in 1956. Like the other two in its class, it could pull 22 loaded hopper cars .

Several passenger cars, all covered in dark green, also encompass its fleet.

Of the coaches the railroad purchased from the Boston, Revere Beach, and Lynn, and the Air Sable and Northwestern, a single coach, two combinations, and the president's car remained after the others were sold at the conclusion of the line's passenger service. Six freight cars were converted to this configuration to enable it to write its tourist train chapter.

Coach Number 8, for instance, hails from 1882 and was constructed by the Laconia Car Company before having been acquitted by Boston, Revere Beach, and Lynn in 1916.

Combine cars 14 and 15 share the same lineage.

Parlor car 20, now serving as the East Broad Top's first class coach usually appended to the end of the train, had been constructed in 1882 by Billmeyer and Smalls and was allegedly acquired from Big Level and Kinzua in September of 1907 for use as Railroad President Robert Seibert's personal coach.

Several other types make up the fleet, including flat, box, baggage, freight, and track cars, motorcars, cabooses, and diesel locomotives.

Today's tourist trains continue to depart from the "Orbisonia" station, a wooden, two-story, clapboard depot located located on the north side of Meadow Street, just beyond the crossing point from the shop complex. It served as the railroad's operating headquarters after it moved from its initial, Marble House residence on a ridge behind the shop buildings. According to Vagel Keller, of the Friends of East Broad Top-a 501.c.3 historical and preservation society- "the current Orbisonia station (is) located in the borough of Rockhill Furnace, while the namesake is one-forth of a mile east … The station at this place was originally known as 'Rockhill,' and in 1888 the village got a post office called 'Rockhill Furnace.' Unfortunately, this caused misrouting of mail intended for an older post office in Pennsylvania named 'Rockhill,' and at about the same time that the current station was being built in 1906, the US Postal Service asked the East Broad to rename the station to avoid confusion … Paradoxically, the re-named 'Orbisonia Station' hosted the Rockhill Furnace post office until shortly after the end of common carrier operations. "

During its heyday, its waiting room was alive with train crews, clerks, and passengers. Today, it serves as a gift shop still sporting its original wire ticket window, and from here passengers file through the door to a wooden, boardwalk-type porch, serving as a "platform," to await the train benefit the later-added, full-length trackside canopy.

The actual journey, in a choice of open, coach, or first class cars, plies the original, three-foot-wide, Narrow gauge track and passes Orbisonia, farms, and forests before pausing at Colgate Grove after negotiating the wye, location of the East Broad Top's Shirleysburg clay spur, whose track had been laid in 1918 and had stretched from the grove itself to the base of the fire clay quarry on Sandy Ridge. Short-lived, its rails were removed in 1927, and the current wye, employing part of its right-of-way and constructed in 1961, resolved the train turn-around obstacle encountered during the bicentennial celebration excursions.

Today's passengers can remain at the grove either during the two-hour interval until the next run or overnight, but since it offers little more than a barbecue and a scatter of picnic tables, all food, drink, and gear must be self-provided .

The East Broad Top offers two educational, railroad era-immersive programs. The first, designated "Engineer for an Hour," allows the rider to step into the shoes of an engineer and fireman by riding in the cab of a steam locomotive during one of the regularly scheduled trips, operating the throttle, blowing the whistle, and shovel-replenishing the firebox with coal. The second, "High Iron University / Rail Camp," is a five-day program offered in conjunction with Altoona's Railroaders Memorial Museum, and provides an indepth look at operating a steam powered railroad.

Aside from the train trip, rides are also offered in speeder, M-3, and handcars.

Another immersive experience is a tour of the railroad's shop complex, which served as the heart of its operation. Seemingly immune to time's sweep, it appears exactly as it did a century ago. The silver smokestacks mark the location of the Babcock and Wilcox boilers, which provided the steam needed to run the belt-driven equipment, while the red-painted buildings consist of the blacksmith, car, machine, and carpentry shops, pattern house, foundry, and lumber shed.

According, Again, to Vagel Keller, "Another persistent myth holds that the current shops and roundhouse were built to replace earlier structures destroyed by a fire in 1882 … The fire myth is based on oral traditions that conflate a cyclonic windstorm in the fall of 1881, which blew down part of the roundhouse (surviving today as the four arched doorways on the eastern half of the present structure), and on a fire in the early 1900s, which destroyed the paint shop and the upright boiler shop. see today originated with the four eastern stalls in 1874, was expanded to six stalls by 1895, and to its present form after 1911. The current shop complex originated in 1882 after the superintendent of the railroad prevailed on the Board of Directors to authorize the purchase of machine tools. Like the roundhouse, the shops were expanded over the years, taking their present form by 1911. "

Rockhill Trolley Museum:

Sharing the dual-gauge portion of the rails in the yard across from the East Broad Top depot, the Rockhill Trolley Museum, billing itself as "Pennsylvania's first operating" one, affords the visitor a second opportunity to sink himself into vintage transportation history, plying the track to cover distance while distancing itself from time.

Powered by 600 volts of direct current collected by a continuous, overhead copper wire by means of a sliding shoe positioned at the end of a pole, electric trolleys, like trains, run on tracks, each of their under-floor motors typically powering a pair of wheels. An electric motor-driven air compressor channels pressure to their brakes. Internally, conductors check tickets and collect fares.

Tracing their origins to horse-drawn cars, trolleys, in their earliest forms, were small, wooden, four-wheeled vehicles, providing inter-city transportation. Demand, paralleling metropolis growth, soon necessitated larger cars, later constructed of steel, for passenger, freight, and mail transport, and by 1918, the trolley transportation industry had become the country's fifth-largest. Pennsylvania alone was served by 116 such trolley lines, which covered more than 4,600 miles of track.

But, as cities stretched, like taffy, into suburbs and were increasingly accessed by roadways, this transport system required, leaving only Philadelphia and Pittsburgh to run their lines after 1960, when Johnstown became the last small urban area to cease using its own .

Because it offers an inexpensive, pollution-free alternative to inner-city transportation, some existing track and related system components have been restored, which could have considered a budding stage of resurgence, modern cars or light-rail vehicles once again crisscrossing streets, intermixed with individual car and bus traffic.

This important trolley history can be experienced at the Rockhill Trolley Museum, which thus offers a second, rail-based transportation focus to Rockhill Furnace. Established in 1960, it acquired its first trolley car, the "Johnstown" Number 311, from its namesaked city. Built by the Wason Manufacturing Company of Springfield, Massachusetts, in 1922, it initially served in Bangor, Maine, before being sold to the Johnstown Traction Company, with which it performed a similar role in the Flood City until it was retired 19 years later, on June 11. As the first such car to operate within any Pennsylvania trolley museum track network, it continues to do so more than four decades later.

It is now one of many in the collection emanating form such Pennsylvania cities as Johnstown itself, York, Harrisburg, Scranton, and Philadelphia, and is part of its larger fleet of 35 in-service and under-restoration city and suburban, interurban, rapid transit, and maintenance-of-way cars.

York Car Number 163 is one of them. Constructed in 1924 by the JG Brill Car Company of Philadelphia, and constituting the museum's most extensively restored example, the trolley was one of five with curved sides operated by York Railways. Subsequently used as a summer home positioned just north of the city on the Conewago Creek, before being thrust from its foundation by Hurricane Agnes in 1972, it was voluntarily donated to the museum. Now a collection of hybrid parts, including wheels and motors from Japan, seats from Chicago, and cane covers from China, it became the world's only-operable example from York after the equivalent of 17 years of volunteer restoration.

Oporto Car Number 172 is an example of a smaller, single-axle car. Built and used by the Sociedades do Transportes Colectivos do Porto, or STCP, in 1929, the extensively brake-equipped vehicle, consisting of air, hand, and dynamic systems, was well suited to the Portuguese hilly city.

Ship-transported across the Atlantic and then road-delivered from Philadelphia on a highway trailer, it immediately operated tourist excursion runs at the museum. Carved wood trim, brass fittings, sliding end doors, storable windows in roof pockets, and a three-abreast configuration constituent its ornate interior features.

The $ 20,539 New Jersey Transit PCC Car Number 6, first ordered in 1945 as part of a 40-strong fleet by the Twin City Rapid Transit Company from the St.. Louis Car Company, connected Minneapolis with St.. Paul two years later, operating on the Interurban Line, for which it was ideally suited with its northern winter-combative galvanized steel body; significant, nine-foot width for interior volume; two-person conductor booths; and electric horns.

Its "PCC" design, an abbreviation of "President's Conference Committee," stems from the fact that it was the result of the new trolley standards it created in an attempt to increase street car ridership, which had increased migrated to individual automobiles.

Car Number 6, one of 30 acquired by Newark, New Jersey-based Public Service Coordinated Transport in 1953 after the Minnesota system had replaced its own trolleys with diesel buses, plied the short, 4.5-mile, municipally-owned Newark City Subway. But the late-1990s signaled its own end when the trolley line was converted to a light rail one.

Having been the second of the last to operate over the network before it was drawn from service, it hibernated in storage for a decade until it was purchased by the Rockhill Trolley Museum in 2011.

Philadelphia Transportation Company Car Number 2743 is another product of the President's Conference Committee. Sporting a line of small, "standee windows" above the standard-sized ones, it offered increased acceleration and reduced interior noise levels over the older cars it replaced, operating with the Philadelphia Transportation Company from 1947 to 1993, a year after which it was purchased by the museum – despite its five-foot, 2 1/4-inch wheel trucks had to be replaced with four-foot, 8–inch ones before it could run on its tracks.

Capable of sustaining 70-mph speeds, and sporting contoured, bullet-shaped ends, Philadelphia and Western Railroad Car Number 205 is the "bullet car" in the collection. Manufactured by Brill in 1931, the aerodynamic-appearing vehicle employed lightweight aluminum, reducing structure weight, fostering increased speed, and requiring reduced power to propel, siphoning its electricity to run from a third rail and therefore not sporting the other traditional traditional trolley pole. Secondarily associated by the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transit Authority, or SEPTA, it provided 59 years of service before nudged into the museum's growing collection.

Its largest car is the "Independence Hall" Liberty liner. Spanning 156 feet in length, the permanently-attached, quad-car interurban, designed by the St.. Louis Car Company in 1941, features eight, 125-hp articulated traction motors, and served the Chicago North Shore and Milwaukee Railroad's North Shore Line along with its identical twin, attaining 90-mph speeds on the windy city-Milwaukee sector. Both were labeled "Electroliners."

Subsequently bought by the Philadelphia Suburban Transportation Company after the twin city link had been discontinued in 1963, the refurbished interurbans, named "Independence Hall" and "Valley Forge" Liberty Liners, entered service on its reliably short, 14-mile Norristown Line, for who curves and hills it was less than optimal, although its passenger-popular tavern car sold alcoholic beverages, snacks, and meals during the trip.

Acquired by the Rockhill Trolley Museum after it was offered for sale in 1981, it appears similar, although for larger, then the only rapid transit car in its collection, Philadelphia Subway Number 1009.

Manufactured itself by the JG Brill Car Company in 1936, it saw initial deployment on the Delaware River Bridge Commission's Benjamin Franklin Bridge Line, shuttling passengers between Philadelphia and Camden. Its City of Brotherly Love service was retained with the Broad Street Subway, which purchased purchased it and operated it until 1984, at which time it was replaced by state-of-the-art Japanese cars and donated to the museum.

Track-piling maintenance vehicles also take their place in the collection. Philadelphia and Western Railroad plow Number 10, for instance, a "sheer plow" produced by the Wason Manufacturing Company in 1915, manted snow to either side of the track. Bought from SEPTA in 1988, it is the last snowplow trolley to have been used by any US transit system, although it is employed by the museum for the same track-clearing purposes.

Actual car maintenance and restoration can be viewed on shop and car barn tours, while six departures offer trolley ride opportunities on the 1.5-mile Shade Gap Branch of the East Broad Top Railroad, with which it closely coordinates, to Blacklog Narrows, passing the remains of the original iron furnaces, which are now reduced to skeletal brick walls and coke oven ruins. A single ticket accesses unlimited rides for the day, which take about an hour for the three-mile round-trip. Like the East Broad Top Railroad itself, which the trolleys usually meet upon return, the Rockhill Trolley Museum, open on weekends between June and October, schedules several seasonal trips, including those highlighting trolley equipment, fall spectaculars, and Pumpkin Patch, Polar Bear Express, and Santa runs. Its gift shop features a rail-related photographic collection.

Source by Robert Waldvogel

I have spent my career advising on insurance options. And for the past 15 years, I have worked exclusively with real estate investors.

Something I have discovered throughout this journey may shock you. Of all my clients, whether they are beginners, experienced investors with high-value assets, or even groups with portfolios in the high millions, only one in 10 have the best insurance policy for their situation!

Can you believe it?

As investors, we do so much research to achieve our goals. We learn how to build pro formas, calculate ROI, and master several other new-to-us skills. But as a whole, we are undereducated when it comes to insurance.

One thing I love about my job is that I can help steer investors toward the best policies for them and provide the information they need to lower their overall insurance costs.

Why Do So Many Investors Get Their Insurance Policy Wrong?

I’ll go ahead and state upfront that it isn’t because anyone’s dumb. In fact, investors tend to be very smart people. But we’re not perfect.

Frankly, most people don’t really want to spend the time to educate themselves about insurance. The very word makes a lot of people recoil—whether it’s a result of bad experiences or a feeling of unnecessary dread.

I get it. My people (insurance agents) don’t always have the best public image. But while we admittedly don’t spend our days rescuing kittens from trees, most of us really want to do good for our clients.

I want to correct our bad image!

So, I’m writing this article to clear up any misconceptions. More importantly, I want to help you determine whether your policy is right for you.

I’ll use plain English, too, with the hope that this information will foster a better understanding of insurance policies by avoiding the dry, miserable tone of most insurance content out there—for both of our sakes.

Here goes.

a couple going over business documents in a living room with an agent

Mistake #1: Assuming Home and Auto Is the Be-All and End-All

New investors are more susceptible to this mistake—and that totally makes sense. Most people’s first encounter with insurance is when they’re seeking out home or auto coverage.

This often leads to the mistake of using a homeowners policy for a rental property, which can spell serious trouble if you don’t live in the rental property or meet the other criteria necessary for the policy to be effective.

But the truth is that you have a wide array of options beyond this choice. A landlord policy is most important for real estate investors.

I’ve spoken before about the essential types of coverage for rental properties. Getting familiar with the basics doesn’t take long and can save you a lot of money in the long run—both in premiums and in the protections you’ll receive.

Related: Which Types of Insurance Coverage Should I Have on My First Rental Property?

Mistake #2: Fear of Commercial Insurance

If you frequent real estate investing forums like I do, you will see tons of conversations about how to avoid commercial insurance, whether you can use your homeowners insurance instead (more on that below), and how many properties you can have before you have to “go commercial.”

All of this panic and fear is completely unnecessary. In fact, the right commercial insurance doesn’t have to be costly.

I understand the reason for all of this hullabaloo though; it’s the many misconceptions around commercial insurance policies. Big-box companies, the type with adorable animal mascots or memorable jingles, will not offer great commercial policies. But often these companies are the ones investors, and in fact most people, are familiar with.

I’m here to tell you that you have alternatives. Commercial insurance from the right provider, set up by the right agent, can even be cheaper than homeowners insurance or other options.

So, how can real estate investors remedy this mistake?

The first step is acknowledging that there is a world beyond the big-box companies. There are groups and providers with experience who cater to investors just like you and can advise you on your best options. Those who operate across state lines will have an especially wide variety of choices that can be tailored to even the most unique situations.

There are also smaller providers who have a great deal of policy options, but if you go this route, you’ll have to do your homework on what (if any) experience they have with real estate investors.

close up of small toy home with hands shielding both sides of it implying insurance coverage

How to Evaluate Whether Your Insurance Policy is Right for You

Fortunately, anyone can figure out whether their insurance policy is truly the best one for them. The process consists of four simple steps. 

Step 1: Determine What You Want the Insurance Company to Cover in the Event of Property Damage

Ask yourself truthfully: if your property were damaged tomorrow, would you want the insurance company to do 100 percent of the work, or would you be willing to do some of the repairs yourself? If you own property out-of-state, you might want them to handle everything. But if you invest locally and possess the skills necessary to make the repairs, you might answer differently.

Step 2: Determine What You’re Willing to Spend Out-of-Pocket

If you had a hard time picking a percentage in Step 1, this should help you out. Decide what you would be willing to spend out-of-pocket for claims of the following amounts:

Write them down; get it on paper.

Related: Investors: Be Smart About Your Property Insurance

Step 3: See How Your Policy Squares Up With What You Really Want

Check to see if your current policy lines up with the ideals you wrote down in the first two steps. If not, see if your insurance agent can help you make the necessary adjustments. If not, it’s time to start looking for a new one.

Step 4: Audit Your Coverages Line by Line

Standard landlord policies may not provide all of the coverages you truly need—unless you ask for them.

As a refresher, the bare minimum you need are:

  • General Liability Coverage
  • Building Coverage
  • Loss of Rents/Business Income Coverage

Here’s the bottom line: anyone can figure out if their insurance policy is right for them, and it only takes an hour or less. This assessment can not only help ensure you have the bare minimum you need but also provide an opportunity to trim the fat if you have excessive coverage. You would be absolutely amazed at the number of real estate investors I see who have coverages on their policy—that they’re paying for—that are completely irrelevant to the property being insured.

So, while auditing line-by-line may not be your idea of a wild Friday night, it can save you thousands. I find it’s well worth the time.

The wrong policy can cost you thousands, either through lack of appropriate coverage or premiums that are far too high for what you actually need. Carve out 30 to 60 minutes and run through these four steps. And of course, you when in doubt, speak to a qualified insurance agent who has experience serving real estate investors.

How confident are you that you have an appropriate insurance policy? Any specific questions for me?

Ask away in the comment section. 

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Geographic business diversification can be a complicated technique to master on your own, especially as an investor just starting out. A helpful way to become comfortable is to learn from a mentor what you know and trust and who has demonstrated success when it comes to geographic diversity. Because the subject is so complicated, it is common to seek professional advice to get an insiders guide to tactical asset allocation methods such as geographic business diversification. In any event, the decision on how to geographically diversify your account should be made by you and you alone-nobody knows what you want better than your do yourself!

Geographic diversification tips you receive from an expert can be serious components to a robust portfolio. One example of potentially profitable diversity that comes to mind is opening a business in a foreign market. Talk to an expert entrepreneur who has started a business in another country and is willing to give you points on achieving that goal. Opening your own business abroad is a perfect way to achieve geographic business diversification, and it can make for quite an exciting adventure!

Seek out a project that would not only provide future capital but would also be something you enjoy. Why go into business if it creates no personal pleasure? Generally, if you are passionate about something, you have a great likelihood of becoming successful. Once you open a business and it becomes profitable, you can open more stores or branches globally to achieve even greater geographic business diversification.

When it comes to diversifying areas of your business, it's important to keep in mind what different areas of the world may need. From there, figure out how their needs align with what you like to do. I often give the example of a remote island. Islands serve as vacation getaways for tourists from all over the world. As a future business owner, you may have something to offer up-and-coming destination hot spots that they do not already have. Perhaps an investor from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, could open a cheese cake stand in the South Pacific Samoan islands? After all-what are the chances they already have one?

Achieving geographic business diversification through owning a small business in a foreign location is not an easy feat; many small businesses actually fail within the first 3 years. Opening a franchise business can help get your feet wet, if you have little or no business experience. A franchise can help you understand every aspect of a business. If you are unsure of what type of franchise to open, the internet can be a valuable tool for making your decision. Do not jump into this decision without the proper research. A franchise is not for everyone and it takes away a lot of the creativity you have as an owner.

Another geographic business diversification insider tip is to set up an Internet business. Owning an Internet business can be a great way to earn extra capital without having to do much work. While the start up may be intensive and require time and money, in the end, you can be selling your product while you sleep.

The beauty of the Internet is that time is not an object and you have the potential to reach any customer in the world! You do not need brick-and-mortar buildings, just an active online connection. For global business diversification purposes, it's always a good idea to have your website made up in 3 or 4 different languages ​​so your product can reach more consumers. The Internet can also provide you with the ability to import your materials from other countries that produce the items at a lower cost.

Thinking with a global business diversification mindset is not only a way to expand a portfolio but also a way to create some great tax advantages for yourself. Each country taxes business activities in a different way. While you may pay high taxes for a business in one country, you may find just the opposite in another country. By diversifying business opportunities geographically, you also set yourself up for potential tax deductions as you can write off your business expenses and asset depreciation.

Geographic business diversification is a fundamental element to a diverse portfolio. Each market operates in a different manner and has several different economic indicators that will tell you how profitable you potentially can or can not be. Make sure you put in the proper effort and research to understand the tax laws and benefits in the country you are investing in. Going into this blind can be disastrous and will not lead to a favorable outcome. Most importantly, find something you enjoy and give it your all!

Source by D Max Smith

In a competitive real estate market, trying to find and close a good deal on an investment property can be nearly impossible. If you’re looking for a way to obtain properties without competing with dozens of other people, you might need to think outside the box.

4 Ways to Buy an Off-Market Property

It’s a great time to be a seller. If you’re selling a house in today’s market, you’re likely benefitting from significant price appreciation, high levels of demand, and a sense of enormous leverage. But on the flip side, it’s difficult to be a buyer. Inventory is scarce in many markets, and prices seem a bit inflated.

But do you know what’s even more difficult? Being an investor on the lookout for smart investments. You make your money when you buy, which means overpaying in a seller-friendly market will doom an investment from the start.

If you’re looking to invest in property in today’s market, you can’t afford to be browsing listings on Zillow—or even listings that just hit the MLS. You need to find potential deals that haven’t even hit the market.

For those who have never looked into this option, the notion of buying an off-marketing property seems foreign. But it’s not as impossible as it seems. Here are some strategies and techniques you can use.

Related: The Easiest Way to Find “Off Market” Deals: Pocket Listings

1. Mass Mailings

You don’t know until you ask. This is the unofficial mantra of many investors who pursue off-market properties.

While it’s not free—it’ll cost you both time and money—sending out mass mailings to homeowners is one method of finding and qualifying leads. You simply find a neighborhood or area of town that you’re interested in and mail letters/flyers to the homeowners to let them know that you’re interested in possibly purchasing their home. Less than 5 percent of homeowners will respond (and only a fraction of these will actually be interested in what you have to say), but it can occasionally produce a good opportunity.

The key is to work with the right printing partner to make the material costs as cheap as possible. You’ll also need to design and write your letters well. You want to grab the homeowner’s attention without coming across as desperate or gimmicky. Professionalism is key.

2. Inside Information From Real Estate Agent

It’s tempting to invest in real estate without the help of a real estate agent. After all, a 3 percent commission could cost you tens of thousands of dollars over the years. But when it comes to buying off-market properties, an agent is worth her weight in gold.

Real estate agents have their fingers on the pulse of the local market. They have connections that allow them to know when listings will reach market (before it’s actually public knowledge). This can give you a significant leg up.

3. Telltale Signs of Neglect

One popular strategy among real estate investors is to drive around and physically look for houses that show signs of neglect or disrepair. In many cases, the homeowner is overwhelmed and would be happy to sell the property before it becomes even more of a burden. While you’ll have to practice some discipline in how you approach these individuals, driving for dollars can produce great results.

Related: 6 Insider Hacks for Finding Profitable Off-Market Real Estate Deals

4. Seek Out Receptive Sellers

Condition of the property isn’t the only telltale factor. You can also look at ownership details and past listing activity to find owners who are more likely to consider an offer.

“Offering to buy a house that sold in the last couple of years likely isn’t going to get much interest from an owner who’s enjoying the space,” realtor Devon Thorsby writes. “You are most likely to receive interest from homeowners who previously listed their home with an agent but took it off market before it sold.”

Little details like these are what you need to seek out. Think like a homeowner and consider any factors that may indicate a willingness to sell. You’ll need as much leverage as possible.

Think Outside the Box

These aren’t the only methods for purchasing an off-market property as an investment, but these are the preferred strategies that savvy investors use to find good deals in seller-friendly markets. Give them some thought and consider implementing some of the principles discussed in this article.

What are some methods that have worked for you?

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