Take a few minutes to think about the successful people around you, not only financially, but also those who embody personal success. Consider the characteristics each of them possess and how these characteristics have fueled their achievements in their given field. Over the past several years I have come in contact with quite a few real estate investors, both directly and indirectly, and have recognized many I consider to be very successful. These people have not only started successful real estate businesses, they also seem to have mastered balance in their life, a very difficult goal to achieve. I have identified 8 key traits that these investors display, (not surprisingly, this same list can be applied to the leaders in any field):
The 8 Traits that Successful Real Estate Investors Embody
1) Passion for investing: The time and personal equity that is required to become a successful investor is overwhelming for many people, which is why most people who plan on becoming real estate investors fail. Passion fuels drive and drive fuels action; without action the chance of becoming successful is zilch. Passion provides the boost needed for difficult days and enthusiasm on routine days. In short, without passion, real estate investing is just another job.
2) Discipline in decision-making: I have yet to meet someone I would consider both undisciplined and successful, and doubt I ever will. While discipline may be a difficult trait to define, I find it is often fairly easy to pick out, as disciplined people plan for the future, work diligently in the present, and learn from the past.
3) Understanding core principles: Failure is almost certain if you do not understand the foundational principles of business, real estate, and the specific niche you are engaging in. Long term success requires not only an understanding of buying and selling real estate, or how to be a landlord, but also basic economic principles. Understanding market fluctuations, economic cycles, monetary policy and other facets of economics will ensure you can react intelligently when changes do occur. Learning the basics is not always fun or exciting, but it is critical in achieving long-term success.
4) Integrity in business dealings: Real estate is notorious for attracting people looking for a quick buck at all costs, but if you look at successful investors, their success spans years and is attained through incredibly hard work. While it may seem easier to look for a short cut (and rip someone off in the process), a long real estate career must be built on a solid reputation.
5) Flexibility: Murphy’s Law is alive and well in real estate, and to survive inevitable surprises, market fluctuations and bad deals, you must be flexible enough to adapt your plan as you go. Planning is absolutely critical, but equally so is the ability to quickly decide when it is necessary to deviate from the plan. Successful real estate investors know when they need to re-evaluate their current blueprint and make adjustments to preserve the long-term success of their investments and business.
6) Money management skills: Most small businesses fail due to poor money management. Forecasting, budgeting, and financial planning is becoming a lost art among small business owners, and it can be lethal to your business. This is why understanding the basics of accounting, tax law, cash flow management, debt management, and other financial principles is so important, even if you have a great accountant and book-keeper.
7) A Team of Successful People: You can only take your business so far, and at some point you will be forced to rely on other people. Real estate is a people business and every real estate transaction requires a team of people to close. Once a transaction is complete, even more people are involved so it is important to form and maintain relationships with lenders, attorneys, contractors, agents, accountants and other people who can contribute to the growth of your business.
8) Superior communication skills: You have probably heard it a million times but that is because it is true, being able to effectively communicate with other is vital. How else will you be able to negotiate prices, interview contractors, screen potential tenants, partner with others, and so many other daily tasks? Communication goes beyond face to face discussions too, email and text messaging are ever-growing in the life of most business people, and the occasional written note will never go away, so make sure you hone your writing skills as well as your verbal skills.
All investors can say they are involved in real estate, but very few can say they are among the best. Find those whom you consider to be the best and study their habits and practices. Try to understand where they have been and how their skills helped prop them up during difficult times and propelled them during good times. Figure out which areas you have mastered and which you can improve upon; self-realization will lead to positive changes and others will begin looking to learn from you.
Author: James W. Vermillion III
James W.’s Website: http://www.kandvinvesting.com
Planning, Purging, Packing, Paying and. Partying
No matter how far the move, next door, across town, or even across the country, a well-executed move begins with planning. This is the stage where you assess the time you have to get ready, what you are bringing with you, how it is getting to the new location, what help you might need, and the budget required.
When hiring a professional moving company, get recommendations, check their records with the Better Business Bureau to see any complaints, and only use moving companies that are licensed, bonded and insured. Get more than one estimate, and find out if those estimates are binding or non-binding. Be sure that everything you want to move is included in the estimate, or you might have some expensive additions to your bill. Get these estimates in writing, never over the phone.
If you can, moving in less popular months, from 0ctober through April, makes it easier to book professional movers. Having contracts out on the counter when you bring companies in to make estimates will show them that they have competition and may enable you to negotiate a better deal. When you do accept an estimate, read the contract very carefully and ask questions before you sign it. Moving scams are fairly common. Keep the contract easily accessible for quick reference. Remember: the movers will have your belongings and will expect payment according to the terms of this contract. The last thing you want is to have your possessions held hostage because there is a dispute about extra costs.
Professional movers charge by weight, distance of the move, and other services. Additionally, if the truck cannot park close to your new home, extra expense may be incurred if movers have to walk items long distances. Check to ensure that you can move in on the delivery date, as most companies charge storage fees if the truck cannot be unloaded on schedule.
Pets, Plants, and Potentially Hazardous Possessions
Pets and plants require special attention. A cross-country or international move may be game-changing. If you are intending to take plants or pets on a long distance move, you need to begin getting the details in order. Are their restrictions about bringing live animals or plants where you are going? How will you transport and care for living creatures or plants in transit? Temperature, water and care issues will need to be addressed.
If you intend to move exercise equipment, machinery or lawn tools, you will need to drain oil and fuel from them, and disconnect batteries. Many companies will not move batteries, and so they will need to be safely discarded. Additionally, there are numerous hazardous materials that cannot be transported by these companies. Anything corrosive, flammable or explosive is not allowed for safety reasons. The following items should not be among your belongings that are transported by professional movers: acid, aerosol, batteries, lamp oil, car oil, charcoal, gasoline, matches, fertilizer, weed killer, cleaning fluids, ammunition, bleach, nail polish and remover, chemistry sets, kerosene, fireworks, poisons, propane tanks, or loaded weapons.
Preparing the Places: Cleaning and Painting
How you leave a home speaks volumes about who you are – leaving a clean home for the new residents is good manners – and one that you will appreciate when you enter your new home, too. Plan on either cleaning your old home, empty as it is, before you leave, or consider hiring a cleaning crew to come in and clean before you hand over the keys.
When you arrive in your new home, you might want to do some basic cleaning if the space is not up to your standards. Painting prior to unpacking is also a good idea – after all, it is so much easier with your possessions out of the way. If you are able to pick out colors and paint prior to any items entering your new space, you will be rewarded further. While you are at it, shampooing carpets before moving in the furniture and boxes can be a fantastic idea. However, be aware that moving in with wet paint on the walls can be a hazard to your new paint job, your belongings, and to your movers’ clothes. Damp carpets can collect footprints and damage boxes placed upon them. Allow time for the paint and carpets to dry, and mark areas that might need special attention.
Actually Making the Move: The Personal and the Professional
Packing might seem obvious – get your stuff in boxes or bags and put it in a vehicle to bring it to the new place. Moving companies are aware of the best way to move pianos, grandfather clocks, tables or art that include large pieces of glass, and other items that require crating or disassembly, and this is one advantage of using them. When in doubt, do a bit of research and consult an expert.
Inquire with your homeowners’ or renters’ insurance company about their policies around moving to determine if you should purchase additional coverage. Most policies only cover your possessions when they are in your home – not when they are in a truck between two homes. There are policies that cover your possessions during a move, and they are generally available from the rental agency where you got the truck.
Professional moving companies that you hire to do the complete job may be responsible for breakage, but often that requires that you paid them to do the packing and it requires that you report the loss within a specific time period. If the item is sentimental, replacement or compensation is only part of the issue. Pack fragile items yourself in smaller boxes with adequate precautions and if possible move them yourself. If using a moving company, be specific if they are moving valuable objects that require special care. Companies might have limited liability and require insurance be purchased to cover certain items.
There is a hybrid method of moving: pack and move yourself, but hire a bit of help when you need it. Often local moving companies have laborers that may be hired by the hour to load and unload furniture and boxes. Their knowledge can help you to maximize space in the truck in addition to saving your back. Whether using professional movers, doing it all yourself, or taking a hybrid method, inventory all your rooms, and create a system to identify where the boxes go in the new home – use colors or labels on the boxes and then clearly mark the rooms where those boxes are to land.
Paying for a move seems obvious – from packing materials to trucks, there is a need for a budget, sometimes hiring help, and incidentals. One of the important but sometimes neglected parts of payment is to ensure that those who are handling your possessions feel as valued as you feel about the items that they are moving. While most companies don’t expect a gratuity, tipping is appreciated by laborers who work long hours for low pay. Of course, tipping usually happens after the important work is done. Offering movers refreshment, drinks and even a breakfast or lunch won’t break the bank and will often result in your belongings being treated with increased respect.
If you are doing the packing yourself, it will take more time, but you get the control. Unlike hiring a professional company with many experienced hands to pack boxes and put them on the truck, packing yourself usually has to begin much sooner. When packing boxes, ensure that they are sturdy and sized for the contents you are putting into them. If a box is too large and filled with heavy items, it will be impossible to lift. Boxes should be no more than 50 pounds in weight, and preferably closer to 30 pounds. Furthermore, mixing fragile items into a large box that is poorly labeled might result in breakage or loss.
Label boxes well and seek to organize the contents so that unpacking can be achieved in an orderly way and contents can be identified easily should the need arise. Keep like items together: books go with book ends, lamps with their extension cords and shades, pillows and bedding together, and so on. Each room might have one or two boxes with a tag that reads “Open First” so that essential elements of the room are easy to find.
When moving boxes, don’t be ashamed to use a dolly or get help with heavier items. Lifting boxes and moving furniture is hard work that can cause injury. Bending from the knees is a rule of thumb, and when in doubt, get a hand with large or awkward items. In the truck, pack heavy boxes on the bottom, and beware that boxes might topple in transit.
Whether you move yourself or a moving company is doing the work, designate a few boxes that are clearly labeled to be put in central places in key rooms to ensure a “soft landing”. For example, have a Kitchen Box that contains key items for making the first few meals in the new home. You might want a good frying pan, a pot or two, a coffee maker (with a few filters and ground beans), a few plates, glasses and mugs, some silverware, napkins, salt and pepper, some cooking utensils, a cutting board and a couple of good knives, can opener, corkscrew, matches and anything that might be helpful before you get to unpacking every kitchen box. In this manner, with a quick trip for some essentials at the grocery store, you could be “up and running” in your new kitchen within a very short time.
Have a box or perhaps two for personal care items, ensuring that towels and necessary products are easily found if your schedule requires that you are immediately on-the-go once you reach your new home. Consider tucking a clothes iron into this box, to enable people to look their best if packed clothes are too wrinkled. Never pack prescription or other important medications in boxes that you are trusting to a third party; keep prescriptions with you so that you can be responsible for them. Having a first aid box in the car or at the top of an identified box could be most helpful.
When packing clothing, consider packing a suitcase or box for each family member that contains clothing for the first week of your arrival. Have them clearly labeled and ensure that there are a few pieces of clothing that are appropriate for the weather you will be facing. Consider adding clothes for both casual and fancy occasions since having a small wardrobe of clean clothes ready to go, means that people won’t be fumbling through boxes to find something to wear that first day or week. Don’t forget to pack a few pairs of shoes in these bags, as well.
When you are moving a long distance, ensure that you keep passports, extra checks, tax records and other useful, personal documents with you for peace of mind. In the event that you need them, you’ll know just where to find things. For extra insurance, scan or photograph and email yourself a copy of your passport, your health and other insurance cards, prescriptions or other medications you take, and the phone numbers of your credit card companies.
After the Move: Plan to Party!
Finally, make the new home yours by hosting an event. Not the day you bring that first box through the door, but plan to reward your efforts and bring joy into the home with some event that will mark the occasion. If you are new to a town or city, it creates an opportunity to meet your neighbors or get to know people in your new circles better. Even having one or two people over for coffee can put you in the role of host, opening your home to a guest, and announcing to yourself and the world that this is your new domain. Often planning for a company creates a deadline or a goal, encouraging “settling in” and getting the majority of those boxes unpacked.
And, after all the work, you’ve earned some fun.
Whether buying or selling a home, storage becomes an issue. Buyers want ample storage areas — indeed, it can be a make-or-break feature when buying a home. Sellers need it both for eliminating clutter from rooms while showing a home, and for containing their own personal items. Learning how to best utilize the storage will increase the functionality and presentation of your home.
Once you’ve reduced the amount you would like to store – items have been sorted, unwanted and useless things have been discarded – presumably the remaining items needing storage are wanted, useful, and/or valuable in some way. Here are the steps that will ensure success:
Assess: Storage Areas and Items to Store
What you have and where you will store it are both questions that are pertinent to the task at hand. Storage of dishes or books, clothing or car parts, may require different solutions. The only way to do this is to take a good look. Simply having a lot of space is only part of the puzzle; being able to access your belongings is equally important.
Inventory the storage areas on your property to better understand “reality”. Having an attic or basement does not mean that you have more storage if they are difficult to access, wet, unduly hot or cold, infested with mice or mold – so check these areas and really look at their condition. Similarly, cabinets and closets with particularly high shelving or excessively deep shelving provide wonderful storage for items that are not often in use.
Don’t overlook non-traditional storage – alcoves, and places where storage furniture or built-in furniture could exist. Your space might have a perfect place to put an armoire, bench seat with storage, or built-in bookshelves. Mantels and large porches, sheds and garages often have places where storage is possible. If these areas are exposed to view, containers should be attractive and appropriate to the spot.
When assessing where to store each item, keep in mind that having items close to the location where they will ultimately be used is often essential to it having value. Items you cannot access might as well not be there. If you are keeping something, consider “charging it rent” – is it worth the space it takes up?
If in your assessment of space and items to store you have far more items than space, then further reduction of possessions might be in order. An alternative is to “find more space” by creating more storage in the home or on the property possibly by building an addition, garage, or shed. Otherwise, if you have more stuff than fits in storage, you will either live with it in your way day-to-day, or have to rent storage space out of the home, which is expensive and inconvenient for accessing your items. Or perhaps you just need a bigger home!
Prepare: The Space, the Items, and the System
After you have assessed the storage space, it is time to remedy any issues found. Creating access, resolving moisture or pest infestation, heating or cooling issues, and cleaning an area can ensure that items stored there will retain their value and usefulness.
Storage space that is climate controlled (not too hot or too cold), dry and easily accessible is the most valuable storage on your property. Renovations that add additional storage of this sort may increase your home’s value. Any time that you consider removing storage, eliminating closets or shelving, consider the consequences carefully and determine if that storage will be available elsewhere.
Storing items in containers that are strong, helps keep them in good repair. While storage containers might be expensive, storing your valuables poorly can result in loss or damage, which might be equally costly. Cardboard boxes are subject to moisture and are often difficult to move, and can result in content which is difficult to see and access.
Shelving can provide an alternative to stacking boxes on the floor and make them easier to access. Moving one box to get to another is acceptable, but stacking too many boxes on top of each other can make retrieving items from lower boxes a daunting task. If you cannot get to your stored items, they can become a burden rather than a help.
Using boxes or containers that are sized to the contents will ensure that each box does not get too heavy. Fragile items that are stored in large boxes can be broken more easily, and items with many pieces should be stored together. Ensure that shelving and containers work together, and that items of like kinds are stored near each other, in a place that makes sense. Labels are a wonderful way to cut down on searching for things, but be sure to update them when the contents shift.
Achieve and Maintain: Principles of Storing
Now that you understand what you have in the way of stuff and storage space, and you have prepared the items and the spaces and created a system, placing things is much easier. By this time, you probably understand what you have and whether it will be actively used.
Generally there are levels of storage – long-term, seasonal, and active-use. Understand the nature of what you are storing.
Items being held for future generations, which might not be accessed for years, belong in long-tem storage. If they are well-stored and secure, putting them in a far corner that is not very accessible might be fine. This is the time to consider attic and basement space, but only if the items are well-stored and the space is properly prepared.
Similarly, decorations and house wares that are seasonal will get in the way if they are taking up prime space in the wrong place. Consider dedicating “seasonal storage” that can be rotated so that the next season’s items are in the front, ready to be taken out when needed. Packing seasonal storage too tightly and not rotating it may render it useless, so this is one area where establishing a system can really pay off.
Active storage is important to keep organized and not over-filled. Items should be easy to locate, retrieve and replace, and what you want should be where you want it; kitchen and food items in their proper spots, health and beauty items in a hygienic location, and cleaning and maintenance tools where they are likely to be used and serviceable. Items that are out of place breed clutter and chaos, so well ordered active storage is a key to a well-functioning home.
Kitchen cabinets are typically sorted and items stored close to the stations where they will be used. Cabinets that are deeper might store items that are used rarely toward the back, and frequently used tools up front. Everyday plates and utensils should be easy to access and put away, while holiday dishes and party platters are better out of the way.
Garage and sheds and even bathrooms and bedrooms follow similar rules. Enabling access to tools and materials while ensuring clear areas is a key to successfully living and working in a space. Items that you use a lot need a “home” – either in storage or in plain sight. Having items you love and places to keep them will ensure that cleanup is easy and your rooms look tidy.
If you are storing something that you don’t use or love, it is taking up valuable space. Every so often, go into the back of your cabinets and drawers to find items you no longer use or love – this is one of the quickest ways to gain storage space without spending money on shelves or storage systems. Similarly, if you are storing something to give to future generations, ask yourself if they will really want it or if they might be ready to receive the item now – then it doesn’t spend years in storage and you gain space!
Refine: Love What Works and Don’t Let Trouble Continue
Every so often, a homeowner will look up and find that they have a “trouble spot”. When tools are hard to return to their storage areas, or holiday items linger in boxes by the door, it is usually a sign that the storage area is too difficult to access or the system of storage hinders use. The ability to return items to storage is as important as the ability to get to them easily – so you might need to refine your system to overcome any challenges you find.
Annual inspections might reveal that there are items to purge, spaces to improve, or systems that need upgrading – but most of all, you stay in touch with your home and its real value to you. While you are at it, don’t forget to appreciate what is working well. Storing stuff you love in a way that works makes your home a haven and a place that allows you to function at a high level. It’s the best way to get value out of your home, and give you a new perspective on what you really have. After all, as a homeowner you want to be in touch with your most important asset!
Ownership of real property is a privilege that once belonged only to kings and nobility, and as masters of our own domain we each take our home and lands very seriously. It is no wonder that boundary disputes can provoke the nastiest of all sentiments between neighbors. Many of these disputes can be avoided, however, if both parties have a clear understanding of facts, proper documentation, and a willingness to come to fair agreements.
Know your Facts
Boundary issues can arise at any time – so one of the very best ways to avoid an issue around property lines is to know your facts. The time to do this is before signing a purchase agreement. When purchasing a home on land, there is no substitute for a thorough check on property lines, including a clear understanding of the deed of title, and land record, or “plat”. If you are purchasing a condo, or a home in a community, study all the documentation you can about your unit, storage and ancillary areas that come with the unit, and common areas, rules around building or renovating fences, screens, or dividers.
Learn about your rights and responsibilities around trees, landscaping, driveways and sidewalks, or any area where you might come into contact with your neighbors. If there is a view involved, understand any community or local view ordinances, and consider entering into an agreement with neighbors regarding your view, going so far as to purchase those rights. Offering cash to procure a written contract may seem excessive, but your rights will be protected and may be upheld in a court of law.
Drawing the Line
Property lines should be clearly described in official records including a property title and land plat. Establishing where lines are up front will aid any interested party prior to clearing, building, or using land. Online resources make these records readily available in many areas, though finding markers on site may prove more of a challenge. When in doubt, hire a licensed surveyor to establish where the property line is actually located and mark the findings clearly.
When you are conducting your search for issues on any property that you are considering buying, it is well worth your time to understand mineral and water rights, forest issues, rights of water and well and other covenants. Know if there are any easements on your property – “Right of way” enables property owners who would otherwise not be able to gain access to their land to do just that. Usually this is accomplished by negotiating an easement across another property. If there is a recorded easement on your property, it may be exercised at any time.
In addition to your rights with regards to property lines, it is important to understand your responsibilities. Before building, clearing, or using property close to a boundary line, ensure that you have a thorough grasp of the building codes in your locality. Building over, on, or close to a property line may violate laws and incur costs that are avoidable.
The value of some property is greatly enhanced by its view. Views, however, can change if a neighbor plants or builds obstructions. Many areas have rules and regulations governing the obstruction of views, however it may be wise to enter into your own agreement with neighbors, even offering a cash incentive for ensuring your view is safe. Contracts are advisable, as they ensure that these rights are enforceable by a court of law, should the need arise.
The most common and often frustrating property line issues arise around the common fence. Whether designed to distinguish the property lines, provide privacy, or to contain livestock and other animals, fence owners invest a significant amount of money and time in construction and maintenance of these valuable assets. In some areas fences are owned and maintained cooperatively between neighbors, though other places one party owns and maintains the fence. Understand your rights and obligations regarding fences on your property lines. Unduly high fences or plantings designed to create barriers can present an eyesore, obstruct a view, or violate local ordinances. When this is the case, it may be deemed a “spite fence” and legal action might be considered, though it often takes time and money.
The Trouble with Trees
While many people cherish and value trees, like all living things they have a lifespan and needs that must be met. Large trees that overhang buildings, fences, or boundary lines pose a threat. Trees that lean across lines may present special situations that affect homes or fences, and there are often laws protecting each party’s interests. While perfectly healthy trees can fall or break given specific circumstances, if neglect can be proved, a property owner might be liable for damages. Understanding your responsibilities around pruning and maintaining trees on your property is key.
Insurance companies may get involved when damage is incurred by falling trees or tree limbs, though if negligence can be proven your insurance rates might be affected. Knowing the health of trees on your property, and taking measures to ensure that they don’t damage your neighbor’s home or property, is the landowners’ responsibility.
Felling large trees is a difficult endeavor and should be undertaken only by qualified individuals who are bonded, licensed and insured. Speaking with your neighbor prior to the work may reduce concerns, but also evoke some unwanted emotion. Trees that have been established for many years might be missed by some, while others might be relieved with the removal of a diseased tree or welcome the additional natural light. Tree work that may pose any risk to your neighbor’s property should be discussed prior to engaging in the work.
The term “encroachment” refers to a piece of real property that hangs over the boundary of another landowner’s property. Trees or bushes are naturally occurring, while buildings or structural encroachments may be accidental or intentional. Generally, there are laws and precedents in place that are designed to aid parties in sorting out disputes. If you don’t know or understand the laws, a real estate lawyer can provide assistance.
Buildings that are already in existence, but that have been built on another person’s property present a special problem. When possible, both property owners should work together to design a property line adjustment that is equitable to both parties. While there is a temptation to resolve the issue through the court system, legal battles can be expensive, and the relationship between the land owners is often stressed to the breaking point.
While there are plenty of instances of having to raze, move, or alter a structure due to judgments against the owner who is violating the property line, there are also many neighbors who have found equitable ways of resolving the issues through a land-swap or cash agreement. Encroachment is a serious issue, and consulting with a real estate lawyer is highly advised.
In the Event of Emergency – Know the Emotional Climate
Whatever you do, avoid making decisions or confronting a neighbor when emotions are high or facts are in question. This may be difficult when highly paid contractors are on site to cut trees, dig trenches or construct fences or buildings, but ensuring that the issue is dealt with up front might avoid costly reparations on in the future, or months mired in legal proceedings should one party take the other to court.
There is a well-known saying that dictates, “Fences make the best neighbors.” While it might sound cleaver, the truth is that Good Neighbors make the best neighbors. When there is an issue around boundaries, nothing drives the point more to home. Increasingly, neighbors might not know one another. Privacy and busy lives sometimes create the feeling of neighbors being more like two ships passing at night, trying to avoid one another. However, when you know your neighbors, it helps you to understand their relationship to their boundaries. Generally, when there is an issue between two parties that know each other, it is easier to resolve. When purchasing property you can’t choose your neighbors, but you can ask good questions about them, and you can ask questions about the property lines and fences.
If you are in a dispute over property lines, rights of way and other boundary issues — be a good neighbor and treat your neighbors as you would want to be treated. If you are in a community or condo, there may be a group designed to help work through issues like yours. Mediation may be a way to avoid costly litigation, and may aid you in finding ways to adjust the property lines so that there is equity. Finally, once an issue has been resolved, ensure that all property lines and agreements are clearly and legally recorded and marked so that everyone is clear from then on.