“Are you ready for the next recession?” This is a question I see on BiggerPockets almost daily.

There’s been a lot of talk lately about bubbles, up markets, down markets, if commercial real estate is overheated, if there’s too much student loan debt, and so on and so forth. I’m often asked what my personal economic prediction is for things going forward.

Although I have my own opinions on where I think things are headed, the one thing I do know for certain is that markets will change, including the real estate market. The real question is not just when will it change, but how can you prepare for it now and deal with it when it happens?

The Problem: A Lack of Liquidity

In the late 1980s, I was a newly licensed realtor and interest rates were coming down from a high of 18 percent. That’s right—18 percent.

In fact, a little while later, I purchased a home owner-occupied at 11 percent with six points (aka 17 percent, due to the fact I was self-employed and in business less than five years). Ouch! Remember that the next time you complain about rates!

Fortunately, I owned it for many years, eventually selling it at a profit—proving there’s a deal in any market. But I digress.

Anyway, back in 1987, the real estate company I worked for had a great training program where all the newbie agents had a senior agent train them in exchange for a percentage of our commissions. I was lucky enough to be trained by the “top sales dog” of the company at the time.

He was no doubt number one in listings and sales, and I learned a lot from him in that regard. However, his private real estate endeavors were another story.

He had 25 rental properties back then, which is a considerable amount even today. So I thought he really knew what he was doing. But not long after our training, he was losing all 25 rentals, filing bankruptcy, and was no longer a practicing agent.

What happened?

Well, I came to learn that he was extremely over-leveraged with very little equity and little to no reserves. He couldn’t handle the cost of any move outs or required repairs (i.e., township and Section 8—HUD required).

He got in even more trouble when he couldn’t re-rent multiple properties, and unfortunately, he quickly went into default on his mortgages. The house of cards came crashing down.

What happened to him taught me early on many valuable lessons about reserves, over-leveraging, and access to cash.

businessperson showing unbalance between stacked coins

Related: Want to Secure Your Family’s Financial Future? Before You Pay Off Your Properties, Consider THIS.

The Importance of Reserves in Real Estate

It was easy to see that my former real estate sales mentor had done several things to increase his odds of experiencing a disaster. First, he had no reserves.

So when I was starting out, I made sure to set aside about $2,000 to $3,000 in cash per property. Later on, as my portfolio grew, it became more about access to cash for similar amounts—whether through credit cards, home equity lines of credit, or business lines of credit.

Keep in mind these numbers were specific to my “buy box,” which was properties under $100,000. Even to this day, I have access to significant capital if need be, and I strive to have the right entity structures and financing in place in case I need to access cash quickly.

The Danger of Being Over-Leveraged

Today, working in the distressed debt space, I’ve come to learn that unfortunately bad things can happen to good people. The four main reasons borrowers default on their mortgages are death, divorce, health reasons, and job loss.

What you learn from working in this space is that just because these people face a setback doesn’t mean they can’t get back on track; after all, most people had to qualify for their mortgage at one point in time. But some of us make choices that lead to being over-leveraged to the point that a default becomes almost inevitable.

Many folks get into trouble taking on too much overall debt, with things like student loans, credit cards, auto loans, or home equity loans (or a combination of these). It’s easy to get into debt, but it’s not always so easy to get out.

And when you’re an investor in addition to being a borrower, as your portfolio grows, it’s easy to imagine having to replace three roofs and two heaters in a short period of time. When that happens and you don’t have some form of liquidity, you’re in trouble.

For other investors though, it’s more than just reserves and access to cash. It really starts with having the right mortgage.

Mortgage loan agreement application with house shaped keyring

Related: To Leverage or Not to Leverage? Why the Answer Isn’t as Simple as You Think

The Solution: Choosing the Right Mortgage for You

When I started in real estate, it was a time of high interest rates and adjustable rate mortgages. Plus buy down mortgages were being invented.

The buy down was a mortgage that had a low rate initially but jumped up a point each year until year three. Then it stayed fixed for the next 27 years.

The adjustable rate mortgage (ARM) was even worse: it adjusted with a potential 2 percent increase each year that was capped and an overall 6-point cap on the life of the loan. (Each point is 1 percent of the mortgage amount.)

You can see how these kinds of loans could be dangerous types of debt for certain borrowers, particularly those who aren’t ready when adjustments happen.

Right before the last real estate crash, I decided to make half my rental properties fixed rate mortgages and half adjustable. It turns out, I made (or saved) a lot of money by freeing up cash to remain liquid with the ARMs, because the interest rates stayed very low for a good 10 years.

I also made sure the properties attached to these mortgages still cash-flowed, even at the highest potential rates of the ARMs. Plus with more monthly net cash flow, I was protected with larger reserves if and when interest rates reset.

And using 30-year mortgages similarly enabled me to have more monthly liquidity via lower payments compared to a 15-year mortgage with a higher payment.

Did my equity grow more slowly? Sure. But there was more money in my pocket to take care of repairs, move outs, and everything else along the way.

5 Ways to Recession-Proof Your Real Estate Investing Strategy

I’m not so sure you can predict when the next real estate market shift will occur for many reasons—namely because real estate markets are localized. But there are many things you can do to get ready.

  1. Fix your rates. If you anticipate rates rising and you plan to hold real estate, then consider fixed interest rates on your mortgages.
  2. Develop more access to cash. This could be everything from increasing credit card limits and taking out equity and business lines of credit to developing more private money relationships. It’s good to do this before you need to (i.e., when you’re physically and financially healthy).
  3. Build up your cash reserves. Your access to cash and cash reserves should be at a level that’s commensurate to your portfolio. Don’t just be in accumulation mode; preservation mode can be just as important. Remember it’s “not what you make, it’s what you keep.”
  4. Employ asset protection strategies. This is also important to do before the need arises. Develop safer investment buckets, such as trusts, qualified plans, and insurance contracts, to sweep some capital and profits off the table during the good times.
  5. Diversify investments. Invest in areas aside from hard real estate, especially ones that aren’t as market-driven or illiquid as real estate. In other words, don’t put all your eggs in one basket (or asset class).

So am I ready for the next recession? I think I’m as ready as I’ll ever be, and hopefully some of these tips will help you get to a similar stage of comfort.

It’s very easy to get caught up in the frenzy and momentum of up markets, but it’s very hard to stay the course and make plans for the rainy days. Similarly, it’s difficult to argue against the fact that “cash is king” in down markets, and the best time to sell is when the market is up.

What are you doing to prepare for the next market fluctuation?

Let me know in the comment section. 

 





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9 Tips For Selling A Distressed Property In Philadelphia PA

 

Selling a distressed property in Philadelphia doesn’t have to be stressful. Learn more about how to sell your distressed Philadelphia PA house in our latest post!

You might think that selling a distressed property will be difficult and time-consuming. In some cases it is! There are repairs that need to be made, contractors to hire, and to mention the time it will take to make sure the project runs smoothly. However, with our top 10 expert tips for selling a distressed property, you will be able to sell quickly and for a fair price. This post walks you through how to sell your distressed house in Philadelphia PA!

Tip #1: Avoid Costly Agents

Selling your distressed property to a professional buyer such as Building Opportunities, will save you time and money. Listing your Philadelphia house can be expensive and you will have no idea when it will actually sell. Your home could sell within a few weeks or it could take months to get a reasonable offer. By selling it directly to an investor, you will be able to have your closing date right away and also avoid the expensive commissions an agent will charge you.

Tip #2: Make It Pretty

If your property is in need of major repairs or if it is going into foreclosure, you will likely want to sell it quickly. Taking some small steps to make it visually appealing will help buyers see it in a new way. Clean up as much as possible and make any cosmetic fixes you are able to. This could mean fixing holes in the drywall, sanding the floors, painting the interior and exterior, replacing the fixtures, and updating the landscaping. Try to showcase the property’s potential to help people see beyond its flaws.

Tip #3: Disclose Everything

No matter what is wrong with the property, you need to be upfront about it. By not letting people know about property defects, you could be setting yourself for a lawsuit down the road. There are quite a few things that may need to be disclosed and you can speak with your local Chattanooga real estate attorney to find out what needs to be disclosed. Take the ethical approach. There is a buyer out there for your property, and you will find them!

Tip #4: Find The Right Buyers

Think about the people who are actively looking for distressed properties. Market to investors and other buyers whom you think would have an interest in your house. It can help to join some local real estate or investment groups in your area to really get the word out. Another unique way to find investors is to search for “we buy houses Philadelphia companies” in your search engine. Some of these companies can buy your home in any condition and make you a fair offer in minutes.

Tip #5: Be Patient

There isn’t as large of a market for distressed properties as there is for turnkey homes. It might take a while to find a buyer. This can be frustrating when trying to sell within a specific timeframe. If time is an issue, your best bet will likely be selling it directly to a home buying company in Philadelphia.

Tip #6: Be Flexible

It is important to have a plan B just in case you aren’t able to sell the property. Consider renting it out if you are able to or finding a loan to help you with repairs. You could also talk with a real estate company about structuring a creative financing deal like a lease option or owner finance. It is important to think about the what if’s so you don’t find yourself foreclosed on.

Tip #7: Know The Value

You might think your house is worth a certain amount, but once you factor in the necessary repairs and upgrade it requires, the actual value of your property today might be much less than you had originally thought. Be realistic about what your house is worth in the condition it is in. Don’t expect to get retail prices for a house that needs repairs.

Tip #8: Paperwork Check

If you choose to sell the house on your own, you will be responsible for taking care of all the paperwork. You will need to provide disclosure documents and create the contract. Everything must be legal and by the book as to protect yourself. When you work with us, we handle all the paperwork, so you will have one less thing to worry about.

Tip #9: Don’t Give Up

People are going to try to come at you with low-ball offers. If you are able to, stand firm until you are able to get a realistic offer on your house. You don’t have to jump at the first person who makes an offer unless this is your only choice. At Building Opportunities, we always pay fair prices for houses, distressed or not.

Are you ready to sell a Philadelphia house? We can help! Send us a message or give us a call today! 215-447-7209

 




Commercial real estate giant CBRE announced that Leah Stearns will be joining the company as its next chief financial officer. Stearns is stepping into the role as the company’s current CFO, James Groch, transitions his focus on responsibilities as the company’s global group president and chief investment officer.



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Let’s talk about post-it note details, the actual physical characteristics of a post-it note. There are a couple of things I want you to be aware of. Typically they’re going to be 3×5 – that’s what I’ll call a small size – or a 4×6, and they can be landscape or portrait.

You have them pre-printed. There are a number of websites that you can go out to for that. We’ll get into this in a minute.

The Marketing Message

Typically you’re going to be looking to do a marketing message with a couple of bullet points about why they should do business with you. Then you have your contact information: website, email, phone number, and a request to call or email you.

You typically probably do somewhere in the range of 20,000 to 30,000, maybe even 50,000 of these to order at one time. You get some costs benefits of ordering larger quantities.

They’re going to cost you around $0.03 a post-it note if you buy fairly large quantities. If you buy fairly small quantities it might be $0.07 or $0.08 per post-it note printed with your custom message on there. If you can afford to order 20,000 to 40,000 at a time – even if you don’t deliver them all today – there are some cost benefits to doing that.

They generally come in pads of 25, 50 or 100 per pad. They will not typically have the cellophane wrapper around them. They’ll come in a big box.

Pre-Printed Notes

The way you get these is you go out to Google and you type in pre-printed post-it notes and several thousand people will come up. These are becoming more popular, so there are a lot of people that allow you to go into their website and you can upload your message, proof it and all that.

There is a company that I’ve used before and called The Discount Printer. There’s a website there and they are very familiar with these. They work with Richard Roop, who is the original person who designed post-it notes. He’s the first person I’m aware of that was doing this. The Discount Printer still works with Richard in terms of doing that. He’s got a number of templates that are already Richard Roop style. You can even simply go with one of those. They’re good messages.

You would obviously change your phone number email. Other than that you wouldn’t have to change too much. Then you can order them from The Discount Printer.



Source by Mike Lautensack


Some people have no credit at all, and some people have bad credit.

Understanding how to build credit is particularly important to investors who are looking to use their score to help build their wealth. A good credit score allows them to take advantage of leverage (aka debt such as loans).

To access the most funding options to invest in real estate, chances are you’ll need good credit. There are numerous ways you can boost your credit score, depending on where you are today.

But first, we must understand credit.

How Are Credit Scores Calculated?

The definition of credit is “the ability of a customer to obtain goods or services before payment, based on the trust that payment will be made in the future,” according to the Oxford Dictionary.

There are multiple things affecting your credit score. The length of time accounts have been open, ratio of outstanding debts compared to the credit you’ve been extended, types of credit owned, and number of late or missed payments are all factors that can raise or lower it.

Carrying a high balance on credit cards, opening and closing accounts in a short amount of time, and of course late payments will all ding your credit—as much as 100 points in one go. In addition, the amount of inquires (companies checking your credit to open credit cards, get loans, etc.) can and will ding your credit, even if temporarily.

Be smart about taking on credit, and learn as much as you can about what it is before you engage in accounts reporting to credit agencies.

Here’s a quick rundown of credit scores:

800-850: Exceptional

740-799: Very Good

670-739: Good

580-669: Fair (Note: It’s common practice to require a 600+ credit score for leasing properties.)

300-579: Poor

With fair/poor credit, one may experience higher interest rates on loans/mortgages. If renting or leasing, you may be required to pay higher security deposits. A co-signer may even be required in certain instances.

The terminology and ranges associated with these labels do vary by source, but it’s more important to have a general idea of where you fall on the spectrum. You’ll qualify for the best rates if you have a 740 or higher score, with some institutions that even call for a 760.

Shot of beautiful glad young female with Afro hairdo, types number of credit card on smart phone, makes purchase online or checks bank account, recreats in outdoor cozy cafe with fresh cocktail

Types of Credit

There are quite a few types of credit; however, I’m going to focus on the two most common.

One of the most utilized types is revolving credit. Credit cards fit into this category.

With revolving credit, one is expected to pay a minimum each month but is not required to pay the entire amount.

Another common type is installment credit. This refers to such things as automobile loans or mortgages. A certain amount is borrowed, and every month the same amount is paid until the balance is paid in full.

How to Protect Your Credit

To protect yourself and your credit, you should check your credit report annually. More often than you’d think, individuals find out their identity was stolen or some sort of fraudulent activity occurred months or years after the fact.

Don’t give criminals a bigger head start than they already have. Protecting your credit starts with you. Monitor your bank accounts and credit card accounts, and go over your statements to ensure there aren’t any discrepancies.

In instances where you may be vulnerable or in order to be extra cautious, one can go a step further and implement credit freezing, monitoring, or other services to help ensure you don’t become a victim of fraud.

Related: How to Improve Your Credit Score

How to Build Credit

Apply for a Credit Card

Dave Ramsey may not support this advice—but to each their own. If you can’t trust yourself to use a credit card appropriately, you may want to disregad this advice.

However, opening up a credit card, using credit, and making timely payments is a great way to build your credit score. The key is paying off your balance monthly and always making payments on time.

If you’ve never had a credit card and/or are building your credit from scratch, you may need a secured credit card. This acts as a prepaid card until you establish somewhat predictable spending patterns with the institution.

Keep Credit Cards Active

As mentioned, the length of time an account has existed is taken into consideration when determining credit scores. However, banks have been known to close inactive cards after a certain length of time.

To prevent a credit dip as a result of a closed account, it’s useful to add a tank of gas here and there on cards you may not use much.

Adjust Your Balances/Records/Limits

It happens to so many people for so many reasons. There may come a point when you are unable to pay off your balance in full.

If this is you, concentrate on paying whichever accounts have outstanding balances down to less than 30 percent of the associated credit limits. This in and of itself will help boost your score.

Do you have a late payment on record? If it’s out of character, it never hurts to ask for this late payment record to be removed. Many institutions will be happy to do this for first-time offenders.

Do you have autopay set up for any of your accounts? If something happens and your payment account is compromised, you will be assigned a new account number. This will interrupt your autopayments.

Pay close attention to your credit card accounts in these instances so that missed autopayments don’t translate into late or missed payments, thereby dinging your credit score. If this happens, again, reach out to your creditors and explain the situation. If you aren’t a repeat offender, they’re likely to help you out.

In some cases, adjusting your credit limit can improve your credit. It can essentially push your revolving credit balance percentage down. This is not recommended for everyone, however. Prior payment history and the status of your outstanding credit will be taken into consideration. Not everyone may be granted a higher limit when they ask.

Student Cards/Credit Building Loans

Some banks even offer services like credit-building loans. Participants are required to make timely payments on these loans, and the institutions report this activity to the credit agencies throughout the process until the loan is paid in full.

Normally, services such as these are offered by local banks. But it never hurts to ask your current institution if you already have an established banking relationship.

Sometimes student credit cards are a good way to go, too. These cards are classified as higher risk due to the inexperience of customers who open said accounts. As such, these cards typically have higher interest rates for those who carry a balance. Be aware of these rates, and try not to charge more than you can afford on these cards.

closeup of tabletop with pile of fanned credit cards on wallet on cash

Authorized Users and Co-Signers

For those who are looking to build or rebuild credit, one option is to be added as an authorized user to someone else’s account. You may consider adding an authorized user to your account for similar reasons.

In either instance, this situation is going to be detrimental to one or both parties if you are not committed to making timely payments. The relationship requires trust. But if both parties are responsible, this is one way to go about boosting your scores.

For best results, before utilizing this tactic, establish the following:

  • How often will this card be used and for what purposes?
  • Do you both have a history of paying in full and/or on time?
  • Can you trust each other to not abuse this card?

In many cases, mortgages, credit cards, rental leases, other loans, etc. may require a co-signer for those who apply and do not meet the optimal credit criteria. A party with good credit co-signs onto the credit agreement with the party that has lower credit.

In doing so, the co-signer is accepting a certain level of responsibility—they are now on the hook for paying creditors should you fail to do so. This is simply another way to lessen the risk on the institution’s side while still allowing for credit building opportunities.

Rent and Utility Payments

Another possible way to build your credit is through rent and utility payments. Certain programs are available whereby a company will collect your rent for a fee, pay it to your landlord, and report your timely rental payments to credit agencies. Some landlords themselves may have such a system in place.

The same situation can be set up for utility payments. But be aware that many utility companies themselves don’t report to the credit bureaus—unless you fail to pay. In those instances, they will report you.

Related: Why Credit Scores Matter & How to Improve Them

How to Rebuild Credit

People experience all sorts of situations that may bring them to a point where they need to rebuild their credit. While this article is more about ways to increase your credit score or build it from scratch, it’s important to quickly note that there are ways to work with collection companies.

In some instances, you may be able to reach a compromise where you pay them a lesser amount than was owed in order to settle an outstanding debt. But this isn’t always the best option—it’s highly dependent on the individual situation. Obviously the best option is to avoid a debt from being turned over to collections in the first place. This isn’t a forum for legal advice, however, so consult the appropriate financial professionals for the best course of action.

If you find yourself in a position where you’re rebuilding, explore all of the aforementioned options to help get yourself back on the road to success. Avoid further late payments. Avoid being sent to collections. And know that credit issues from years—even decades—ago can continue to haunt you down the road if left unresolved.

Conclusion

This is by no means an all-inclusive look at credit, but for those starting out or trying to build their credit, it’s a great place to start. Understand how credit works, the factors playing into your credit score, and how monitoring your credit report can help you protect your score.

The higher your score, the more of a ding your credit takes should you have an issue with any of the above. Building credit takes time, but it can be done faster if you have the right tools and use the correct strategies.

Do you understand what can hurt your credit score? Do you have a grasp on what can help it? What other questions can I answer for you?

Leave me a comment!

 

 





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First, do not be afraid to spend less. Readers of my book, MitzvahChic, already know that "chic" and "style" do not equal "expensive". Good taste … style … these are timeless and transcend matters of price. The simplest table decoration – if it's rendered with sincerity and a bit of aesthetic charm – is as authentic an expression of "chic" as the most expensive Paris couture.

So, this section should really be called How to Cut Corners and Still Give Everyone a Wonderful Experience. You do not have to compromise quality to save money, and, to prove it, I'm not going to give any silly suggestions like "have your party on a Monday and you'll get a slightly better price from the caterer." That's true. In fact you'll save a fortune because no one will be able to come! How expensive could it be to feed six people?

Here are ten of my favorite ideas for saving money – there are many more in MitzvahChic. Remember, you can always offer to barter in lieu of some cash. Have no professional skills to swap? Offer to do some work for the vendor; ask for a discount off your bill for whatever friends you send his way who actually hire him; give him time in your vacation home. On second thought, if you have a vacation home, why are you reading this?
This material excerpted from MitzvahChic, a bar / bat mitzvah planning book featuring a wealth of party-planning ideas. See the book.

Your Biggest Costs

Food, liquor and music. They're the budget-busters. It's hard to find bargains on music and many hosts do not look for them because the musical leader – be it a DJ or maestro – really runs your party. That's a very important role you may not be comfortable economizing on. But let's look at some great ideas that will save you money.

1. Host a Joint Party

If you're planning a bar / bat mitzvah and faced with having two parties because you want an "adult" party and your child wants a big kid party, consider this. If your child has close friends who share pretty much the same social circle, organize the parents to throw one big party for all the bar / bat mitzva kids at a fire hall. Then you can afford the best DJ, the best everything. On your child's actual bar / bat mitzvah day, have a modest adult party that includes your child's closest friends.

2. Pick a Hall That Does not Have an "Approved Caterer"

Many synagogues and even some churches require you to choose from a list of approved caterers if you want to use their auditorium for your wedding or other event. If your budget is modest and the list does not include a vendor who will work within it, you'll be forced to spend more if you want to use that room. Some communities do not have a lot of options, but think creatively and look around – you just need a big room somewhere. If you really want to have your party in your own synagogue or church and there's no budget-friendly option in caterers, organize like-minded congregants to talk to the administrators about adding a caterer who will enthusiastically work with modest budgets. Or even change the policy to let you bring in your own food. Then you can ….

3. Organize Your Own Food

The least expensive caterer I know in my area (Philadelphia) charges a minimum of about $ 35 a person for a sit-down meal. Imagine how much great takeout food you could buy each person for that! Order trays from all the local restaurants: sushi, Chinese dumplings, gourmet pizza. Hire some college kids and local moms to take care of heating and serving the food.

4. Keep It Simple and, Perhaps, Exotic

Keep the menu simple. Have meatless dishes – you may save a little and you'll please all the vegetarians and people who observes religious restrictions. Have a different (less expensive but still quality) menu for the kids. Serve inexpensive and unusual ethnic foods. It will be a culinary adventure and no one will be able to determine if the food is cheap or not.

5. Let Them Eat Cake

Shop for a cake at your neighborhood bakery, not the local "bakers to the stars". They may have very nice designs but no budget to advertise them. If you're buying a cake, tell the caterer you do not want dessert – it's often served before the cake and the cake then goes unheaten. Best idea of ​​all: buy pretty individual cakes and use them as the centerpieces – the culinary equivalent of "multi-tasking".

6. Buy Co-Op China

This idea is particularly relevant for parents planning a bar / bat mitzvah, as you usually know other parents doing it too. If you're planning to cater your own party, you'll need china, utensils and glassware. These are usually supplied by the caterer and can be costly to rent – if there's even a rental place in your area. Far better: get a group of parents together to buy one big set of china from a restaurant supplier and take turns using it. If you have no suppliers in your area, try http://www.centralrestaurant.com . Buy extra — there will be breakage along the way.

7. Buy Your Own Liquor

There are many options in how you handle drinks at your party. You can have a simple wine, juice and soda bar or an expanded version where you have the set-ups and alcohol for the six-ten most popular mixed drinks. You do not need to offer a full-service bar to be considered a good host! Hire your own server. See if the wine vendor deliveries, if he includes the use of wineglasses, and if he will allow you to return unopened bottles for a refund.

8. Make Decorations and Party Favors Yourself

Get your friends to help you – you'll have so much fun! Do not worry that they will not then be surprised by the décor when they come to the party. The thrill of an opening night is never finished for the actors just because they've rehearsed it a zillion times. See the craft ideas on this website.

9. Having Flowers? Arrange Them Yourself

If you have a good eye, buy flowers in bulk and make the arrangements yourself. If you do not have a good eye, get potted flowering plants or get large bunches of one beautiful flower and place them in simple pots. Make simple topiaries by bunching one kind of long-stemmed flower together and tying raffia around the "trunk" of stalks to keep them upright.

10. Make Entertainers Do Double-Duty

If you're hiring entertainment in addition to the music, get someone who will create a giveaway, thereby eliminating the need for a separate party favor. At this writing, some of the hot entertainment / giveaway-producing ideas are the cast-wax hand sculptures; photo-booth buttons, magnets and magazine covers; or a tape of the guest singing karaoke.

MitzvahChic is the # 1 bar / bat mitzvah planning book and website! Visit http://www.MitzvahChic.com and be sure to sign up for FREE planning reminder emails.



Source by Gail Greenberg

I stand amid the roar

Of a surf-tornened shore,

And I hold within my hand

Grains of the golden sand …

Is all that we see or seem,

But a dream within a dream?

–From "A Dream Within a Dream" by Edgar Allen Poe

Waves crash upon the beach Mere steps from the comfort of the shaded hammock
that envelopes me like a cocoon. A cool drink appears by my side. I drag a foot in
the sand while swaying side to side and gaze out upon the endless ocean in front of
me. The drink cools me from the inside out and I wonder … am I wake, or am I
dreaming? If I'm dreaming, let no one wake me.

Dreams Los Cabos Suites Golf Resort & Spa is someplace very easy to get to but
very hard to leave. Located mid-way between San Jose del Cabo and Cabo San
Lucas, this oceanfront resort is just as gorgeous as the land that surrounds it. From
the time you arrive and spot your name posted on a welcome board near the
bellman's kiosk, you just know this is going to be something special. Once greeted
by a porter who quickly checks your bags, you're led to the front desk where both
warm smiles and cold champagne flow freely. Minutes later you're escaped through
arched corridors to your ocean view room, champagne glass in hand. If you're like
me, the first thing you do is walk to the balcony to see what you can see. I liked
what I saw … nothing but beach and clean, blue water.

The architecture melds open-air hacienda and colonial Mexican design into a
golden seaside gem. Elaborate columns line marble floored corridors, waterscapes
and lush landscaping, rich woods and unique artwork create an elegant
atmosphere. Everywhere you look there are arches. From the impressive entrance to
the front desk, these arches engage the eyes and call attention to fountains, palm
trees and at night, gas braziers that light the many levels of the resort with their
dancing flames. Multi-colored lighting bathes the grounds in warm and exotic hues
furthering the beauty that is Dreams Los Cabos. The feeling is one of grace and
refinement but without any pretentiousness.

Dreams Los Cabos boasts 308 ocean view suites. The décor is bright and
understated with first-class furnishings and upscale amenities such as robes and
slippers, a welcome fruit basket and more champagne on ice, an impressive feat as
we were several hours late yet the ice had just begun to melt. The first impression is
that the management is focused on pampering their guests and they have
assembled a well-trained and courteous staff to accomplish the task.

Suites range from Juniors that offer one king or two double beds, a sitting area with
sofa and coffee table and a writing table with high-speed data ports for those that
need to keep in touch or check on business issues. The next level up is the resort's
Luxury Suites with all of the amenities of the Junior Suite but with a separate living
room with dining area. Continue up the scale and you'll find Honeymoon Suites,
Governor Suites, Corner Suites, two bedroom Master Suites and the crème de la
crème – Presidential Suites with two or three bedrooms, courtyard entrances and as
many as three terraces. All rooms have ocean views.

Dreams Los Cabos is an all-inclusive resort, an ever-growing segment of the Cabo
resort scene, and does all-inclusive in a grand manner. Unlike most other all-
inclusive resorts, the all-inclusive concept here even carries over to the in-room
bar. No airline mini-bottles or cheap, off-brand libations ever make it into the
rooms. If you're looking for an afternoon pick-me-up or a before dinner drink, you
need not venture from your room as both liquor and mixers are full-sized, top shelf
and part of the package. Staff members replenish both the bar and the in-room
refrigerator daily and early. The usual accoutrements can also be found in-room
including coffee maker, iron and ironing board, plus a plethora of luxury toiletries in
the marble and tile bathrooms.

There is no shortage of choices when it comes time to satisfy an appetite. With five
restaurants on-site, waiting for a table or being linked to a limited menu is not an
issue you'll have to face at Dreams. For morning fare, order in from room service or
visit El Patio or the Seaside Grill both of which open at 7:00 AM. For lunch your
choices grow with Oceana joining El Patio and the Seaside Grill with lunch hour
extended until 3:00 PM at El Patio, 4:00 PM at Oceana and until 5:00 PM at the
Seaside. Go ahead, work on your tan a little longer, Dreams has what you need
whenever you're ready. Dinner means even more options as both Himitsu, serving
Pan Asian cuisine and Portofino, serving Italian specialties, join the mix with all five
eateries serving dinner nightly until 10:00 or 11:00 PM. Looking for a little romance?
The staff will arrange dinner on the sand with Tiki torches and candles. Still not
enough options for you? Twenty-four hour room service is just a phone call away.

In addition to the wide variety of fare conjured up by the staff at Dreams, theme
parties, nightly live music and an outdoor movie screen add to the mix. If you're old
enough to remember the good old days when drive-in movies were part of
American culture, you're in for a real treat. Lay back in a padded chaise lounge,
order a cocktail and enjoy a good movie while under the stars. Just know that it's
not always easy to keep your eyes on the screen when what surrounds you is as
beautiful as the night sky in Los Cabos.

With football season just beginning, Monday nights may never be the same. Tailgate
parties are part of the program and those hungry for good old-fashioned tailgate
foods can sink their teeth into nachos, hamburgers, hot dogs and all things football.
If the Philadelphia Eagles are playing, look for Philly cheese steaks, it it's the
Chicago Bears, grab a slice of Chicago style pizza. It's almost as if they invented the
game here. The surround sound system makes you feel the game, not just watch it
and there is nothing like a happy and loose crowd to make a game all the fun it's
supposedly to be.

Recreational activities are a big part of why Cabo has become the vibrant tourist
Mecca it is. On-site, the resort has a variety of things to do to pass the time
including a bungee jumper, aerobics classes, full gym and fitness center and a host
of game courts that dot the awards from tennis to volleyball and croquet. Off-site
activities can be arranged by the helpful concierge staff and include hiking and
mountain biking, golf, ATV tours and sightseeing. For those with more of an aquatic
nature, try your luck sport fishing, dive with the fishes in the Sea of ​​Cortez, or take
to the sea on your own personal watercraft just to name a few.

Children are not forgotten at Dreams with the Explorer's Club for Kids. The fully
supervised program is designed to entertain and enlighten the younger crowd.
Activities change daily and are not only fun but educational as well. Children explore
the worlds of science and nature and are encouraged to take part in such events as
weekly campouts in tents at the club. Parents can rest easy knowing that their
children are safe and secure – the resort even supplies a pager so that getting in
touch with a parent is fast and easy should the need arise.

For many, all the recreation wanted is the simple pleasure of sunbathing poolside
and that group will not be disappointed. Dreams Los Cabos three picture-perfect
pools, two with swim up bars, are a sun-guardship paradise. Pool service is very
attentive and the lush gardens that surround them are just spectacular. If it gets a
little to hot, grab a pool float.

After a long day of tanning, golf or fishing, nothing rejuvenates like a little time in
the spa. From facials to massage to Salt Glow therapy, the Spa at Dreams is ready,
willing and able to pamper even the most discriminating traveler. If the tanning
you do out and you can not leave your room, that's okay, they'll come to you.

As a member of Preferred Hotels & Resorts Dreams Los Cabos sets a high standard
and does not fail to meet it, in fact, it exceeded my expectations and that is no
small undertaking. Wonderful architecture, outstanding staff, well appointed rooms
and attention to detail make this place a dream, just not one that I wish to wake
from.

RATES

Junior Suites with Ocean View start at around $ 149.00 per person – All Inclusive

For current rates, please visit the Dreams Los Cabos Resort site at [http://www.DreamsResorts.com]



Source by Richard P Chudy


Want to keep more of your hard-earned dollars in your pocket? Making sure you are maximizing tax deductions on your rental properties is one of the best ways to do that.

Stessa teamed up with top tax strategists over at the Real Estate CPA to bring you the top tax deductions for rental owners. We cover everything from home office, mileage, and repairs and maintenance to the new Tax Cuts and Jobs Act 100% bonus depreciation (limited time opportunity) and Opportunity Funds.

How to Lower Your Tax Bill

All real estate investors will benefit from taking a proactive approach to taxes. The reality is there is little you can do retroactively to impact your results once the year ends.

Use the guide below to develop a plan and start implementing strategies now to deliver the best results for the next tax filing season.

Here are some of the most important deductions and strategies to reduce and defer taxes that investors should be aware of:

  • Depreciation: This is one of the biggest and most important deductions for rental property investors because it reduces taxable income without impacting cash flow. Since land cannot be depreciated, the preferred strategy is to allocate as much of the property’s purchase price to the building as possible to maximize your depreciation expense.

  • Home Office: As a rental property owner you can dedicate a room, or a portion of a room, exclusively for home office purposes to claim what is often a significant tax deduction. The presence of an official home office also allows you to deduct local transportation expenses, including auto mileage.

  • Repairs & Maintenance: When you incur repair and maintenance or renovation expenses, you’ll want to classify as much as possible as standard repairs and maintenance to deduct them in the year incurred.

  • 1031 Exchanges and Opportunity Funds: These offer additional methods to defer and reduce taxes. 1031 Exchanges allow you to defer both the capital gains tax and depreciation recapture from the sale of a property and invest the proceeds into another “like-kind” property, often called “trading up.” Introduced by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, Opportunity Funds allow you to defer and reduce the capital gains tax from the sale of any capital asset.

Related: 4 Helpful Tax Tips for Overwhelmed Landlords

Do you have further questions about any of these tax strategies or about lowering your tax bill as a real estate investor?

Ask in a comment below!





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Six months ago, I had communication with a national corporation about their consideration to developing a corporate strategic philanthropy program. They didn’t have one at all. I kept thinking, imagine the impact this corporation could have in communities where they have a presence! WOW! It would be phenomenal for them and communities. Let me say this corporation is big. Okay, they are huge.

Well, they were kind enough to let me know that they had just hired a public relations firm to create one for them. I thought to myself, “What a pr firm? No please no.” But what to do next, just wait and see what they come up with. Just one month ago, I visited the corporations website. There it was, just as I thought was going to happen. They have a program, but it is a cause-related marketing program. I was crushed and let me tell you why.

Cause-related marketing programs are based on two things. One is a one-on-one partnership between a company and a charity. The other is it’s product driven/sales promoted. The program works as long as there is no negative publicity about either the company or the charity and it works so as long as the product moves. In a nutshell, cause related marketing has a shelf-life. While folks contend that any giving is a good thing, these type of programs are not sustainable. The message is not necessarily one that stands over time nor does the giving.

On the other hand, strategic philanthropy programs are created by individuals or companies whose roots are based in philanthropy. Philanthropy is a field with its own set of principles, methods, professionals and message. Strategic philanthropy is not based on product or services and is not promoted by sales. At its core, it is based on the fundamental principle of being responsibly committed to changing lives and the world today and for future generations.

If your company is serious about making an impact and giving back, you’ve got to be serious about the type of giving program you have and how it works. It should be value-based and sustainable. Consumers are savvy folks, just like you and me. Don’t think they are fooled by giving that is essentially marketing-driven. If you want marketing, hire a marketing strategist. If you want philanthropy, hire a philanthropy strategist.



Source by Maggie Keenan, Ed.D.


I can assume since you’re reading this post that you’re interested in being an entrepreneur. But is it right for you?

Entrepreneurship is one of the sexiest words being thrown around in many circles today. Everyone thinks they have the next product or service that will revolutionize how we do things.

There are tons of posts on social media in this vein. People are doing big things, they’re grinding—or so they think. For some, this is true; for others, they are simply in love with the idea of being a self-sufficient entrepreneur.

I want to explore some of the pros and cons of entrepreneurship to dispel some of the fallacies.

What Exactly Is an Entrepreneur?

Webster’s dictionary defines entrepreneur as “one who organizes, manages, and assumes the risks of a business or enterprise.”

At its essence, it’s a person who starts a business. It’s someone who is willing to risk loss in order to make money. This individual should also be a leader, who is innovative, tenacious, and possesses farsightedness.

The process of becoming an entrepreneur begins with taking on risk. You have to be willing to embrace this and move beyond what everyone is telling you—and beyond everything you might be telling yourself!

Being an entrepreneur has its perks, to be sure, but there are many downfalls, as well. So, let’s take a closer look at some of the pros and cons.

(I must disclose that I am slightly biased because I have always worked for myself or my family in some capacity—aside from menial jobs I had during my teen years.)

Related: 5 Transformative Productivity Books Every Entrepreneur Should Read [Video]

entrepreneur-life

Why is Entrepreneurship so Enticing?

I believe it’s the glitz and glamour of working on your own terms that’s super enticing. It’s also the allure of being able to work when you want.

It’s being able to choose what you prioritize and focus on based on what you believe is important. And let’s be honest, it’s being your own boss.

A Realistic View of Entrepreneurship

At an early age, I witnessed the sacrifices that come with being an entrepreneur. Before I could even spell the “e” word, I watched my mom sacrifice.

She left a well-paying career as a nurse supervisor to pursue her dream. This change was mind-boggling to so many people.

As an adult, I asked what made her take the risk. She told me it was more risky to continue working without being in control of her destiny than it was to leave.

But was that transition easy? Absolutely not. It was a burden we all had to bear, and it was a lifestyle change.

The sacrifice was real, and my dad, brother, and I did not adjust very well.

Things changed. For example, we went from getting groceries at Jewel and Dominick’s to Aldi and food pantries. We got old bread from the bakery at grocery stores.

I tell this story because this was reality—even though things did eventually work out for us.

Related: 4 Critical Life Lessons from a Serial Real Estate Entrepreneur

how-to-become-an-entrepreneur

Pros & Cons of Entrepreneurship

From my story above, we know that entrepreneurship is not all lipstick and daisies. There are truly some sacrifices that must be made.

However, with tenacity, dedication, and perseverance, you can reap the rewards of those earlier sacrifices.

Pros

  • Time Freedom
  • Family Freedom
  • Tax Benefits (for business owners)
  • Life Balance
  • Free Market (free earner, no caps on income)
  • Limitless Creativity

Cons

  • Inconsistent Income
  • Time Management (not a 9 to 5)
  • Increased Isolation (less engagement with others at times)
  • Must Be Multifaceted (cannot be one dimensional)
  • Lack of Employment Benefits

I mention all of these to call attention to the trade-offs when starting out as an entrepreneur. It’s not for everyone, and please think of your family when making this decision.

The great thing about real estate is that there are options. You can be a passive investor and continue to maintain your W2 employment, or you can be full time and push yourself to your greatness.

The choice is yours.

Do you intend to fully ditch your W2 job? Are you willing to take on all the risks and put in all the hard work associated with being an entrepreneur? 

Tell me why or why not in a comment!





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