Preparing to buy a home can be a stressful time, until you realize that there is a proven process to carry you all the way to move-in. If you take the steps of the home buying process in sequence, you will feel more confident every step of the way.  Please follow my link to an easy to follow Home Buying Process.

  1. The first step is to create a website where current and prospective clients can go to learn more about you, your success and the services you offer.  Let your clients learn about you and your services, this is a great place for the client to get to know you and confirm they made the right choice by selecting you to be their realtor.                

Your site should provide:

  • A great bio showcasing your skills, accomplishments, affiliations, goals and personality is the cornerstone of a great website! This is where you get to set the tone, so take advantage of it!
  • Helpful information for buyers and sellers – From first-time home buyers to the savvy investor; you’ve got access to and should provide valuable content to reach your target audience.
  • An MLS property search feature with saved-search and email capability
  • Town info like schools, restaurants, culture, nightlife, activities, etc.
  • Social Media is changing the way we do business!
  • Blog – Create your own original content and/or share other related content. Blogging is great for organic SEO and for getting your listings out past traditional outlets.  Got a hot new listing?! Blog it!  Show your clients how your digital efforts will sell their house; cause it will!
  • Mortgage calculators, rent .vs buy, market reports, school reports, helpful links, etc…

For your website to produce results you need to use it and promote it.  Your website should DRIVE traffic and affect results!  Blogging is easy, fun and shows that you are proactive and through that effort, a professional on that topic.  If you think about it, blogging and social media have a lot in common.  You’re gathering information and pictures and broadcasting it to your network and inquiring minds.

  1. Social media isn’t going away so you better dive in!

You should participate in and/or have a working knowledge of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram and google+ (at least).  Social media is evolving by the second and it is changing the way we all do business!  If you’re not using Twitter, for example, you should know why.

  • It’s pretty easy to link your current and future social media platforms to your new website.
  • There are easy ways to manage all of your platforms in one place. I’m currently using hootsuite.com, there’s a free version and a $10 per month version
  • We already have tons of content to publish! We sell houses!  It’s easy for us to create interesting and eye catching content!
  • Your social media component should embrace the technology available today and create a beautiful and educational experience for your visitors.
  • People should have come away feeling that you are a knowledgeable, savvy broker that can be counted on for the information they need to make the best decision.
  • For real estate agents, being on social media drastically opens up our sphere of influence and referral base, allowing for us to connect with friends of friends of friends of clients and followers.
  • Realtors can furnish their personal brand/marketing personality by setting up a page where they can post about their neighborhoods of focus, home listings, home décor, new building techniques, alternative energy for the home; this is where your personality shines!
  • Jump in now and get a handle before it’s too late!
  1. Your Personal Brand

Personal branding in real estate is paramount.  In order to set yourself apart from the competition, you must be easy to find and when found, be seen as an expert in your field.

A brand is anything — a symbol, sigil, design, name, reputation or any other signifier — that separates one thing from another.  That’s a broad definition for what is actually a very personal message to the consumer.  People want to work with people, not faceless companies, and that’s what makes business relationships valuable.

In today’s real estate landscape, there is no success from being another face in the crowd. You have to separate yourself from the competition by being more appealing to your target audience. You can achieve that by creating a recognizable personal brand.

Before you begin, realize that you are the brand.  The face you see in the mirror every morning is your starting point; use this to your advantage — because nobody else can be you.

 Step 1: Define your brand by asking these questions:

  • What do you want people to know about you?
  • What are your values?
  • What are you passionate about?
  • Who do you look up to and why?
  • Who’s your target audience? Are they first-time homebuyers, empty nesters or condo-loving singles?
  • Ask people you’ve worked with how they would describe you.

Step 2: Craft your message.

The No. 1 rule for crafting your message is to just be you. If you try to project an image of someone you are not, people will always see through it.

In today’s social world, there is little separation between your personal life and work life. After reading your well-crafted bio on your website, clients will then look elsewhere for more information about you. Make sure the image and messaging on your social sites is consistent with your brand definition. Look at every post on your personal Facebook page through the eyes of your clients. Do they see a hardworking family man, a social butterfly or a weekend warrior? Again, think about the clients you’re trying to attract.

Step 3: Get others to tell your story through client testimonials

If you don’t tell your story, no one else will. You have to be a bit of a self-promoter, especially when starting out. Once you’re established, get your clients to tell your story.

Why does almost every major retailer have reviews on their site? Because we see them as objective. We will trust Joey in Anywhere, New York, more than we trust the companies pitching us their products.

Step 4: Build both your online and offline brand.

  • Be consistent. Use your brand logos, colors and imagery consistently on every marketing piece you create, from websites to business cards. Paying for good photography and design will always be worth the investment.
  • Set up social media profiles on at least the top four social sites: Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Twitter. You don’t need to be an avid social poster, but you can use products like Hootsuite or Buffer to help you manage and find content and post it to all your networks simultaneously.
  • Every tweet you send, every status update you make and every picture you share contributes to your personal brand. Once you understand this, you can start to be much more strategic about what you post.
  • When posting to social media, aim for a mix of 60 percent personal, 25 percent business and 15 percent problem-solving.
  • Find yourname.com and register it. Turn it into a website about you with links to your social networks and your business website.
  • Create a business website, such as localrealestate.com. Keep this site about real estate and home search. Keep your personal information minimal, but link back to your personal site for more info.
  • Offline assets like business cards, fliers and mailers should be consistent and professionally designed. Use your logo and profile photo properly.
  1. The Local Go-To Agent

Empowered with your own website and social media platform you have a great opportunity to target specific geographic areas.  When there is a certain area of town that you are trying to farm, you can integrate targeted keywords that represent the area of town into your website (Shippan this, Old Greenwich that, page titles, blogging, content, etc.).

  • By regularly integrating these specific keywords into your website, you are giving yourself a distinct advantage over your competition. SEO!  You will be found faster and have more opportunities.
  • When that potential client (buyer or seller) looks at real estate in your target area of town, there is a much greater chance that they will find you.  When they do find your site (and they will), it will have information specifically about that area, so you they see you as you truly are; the local real estate professional.  Chance favors the prepared!
  • Stay Current and Look Ahead– NAR says that 96% of Americans are looking to buy their house on the internet. As realtors, we owe it to ourselves and our clients to be on the cutting edge of internet technology.
  • The internet makes it easier for ALL OF US to get to the information we want.  Whether we are looking for a house, hotel or a cheap flight, we find a website that we’re comfortable with and we make a purchase.  Take some time, thoughtfully prepare your brand and content and create the information you would want to see!
  • Are you the new guy or gal? – Are you intimidated because potential clients may be thinking you are new to the office or the industry?  Because there is no other information about you on the Web?  Well don’t be discouraged, it happens a lot.  It’s a digital world and image is everything, even more so in real life!  A smart web presence will increase your public profile, your authority and will generate leads faster than any other marketing out there.  Easily, the fastest path to success!
  • Networking through Blogs – Creating a blog on your website will help you attract an audience. This is a positive way to demonstrate your knowledge and build trust for your readers. With an active blog, clients can see how you want to connect with them.  Blogs are a great place to link social media sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, google+, Pinterest and Twitter. These sites will go a long way in developing your brand, plus, social media posts drive traffic back to your site where they can explore even more.  Is it starting to make sense?
  1. Realtor Websites Support Lead Capture, Customer Contact and CRM

In addition to attracting prospects, a real estate agent website is ideal for efficiently capturing high-quality leads. This is made possible by incorporating online contact forms for buyers or even sellers who come to your site and are interested in learning more about your services.

  • Each time a form is completed, you will receive an email notification so that no lead goes unnoticed.
  • Capturing leads through an integrated website also enables you to automatically add new contacts to your contact management system, like the one offered through our Top Producer, or assign them to an email campaign.
  • Hopefully, your business has helped you accumulate a hefty number of clients. If it has, you’ll need to manage their information.
  • A website with contact management tools lets you collect valuable client information, such as names, phone numbers, and email addresses, so you can stay in touch with clients.
  • The next step is to employ customer relationship management (CRM) tools, which track interactions with your clients, monitor growth and sales, and determine which of your services are the most popular. This wealth of knowledge lets you develop and send relevant marketing campaigns to your client base, generating leads and sales.

Takeaway Points:

By having your personal website you will:

  • Provide important resources for home-buyers that will make them more likely to trust you and work with you.
  • Become a professional in your market
  • Establish your personal brand.
  • Effectively capture digital leads.

http://www.KinardRealtyGroup.ctom

Http://www.kinardrealtygroup.com

Relocation Experts
BHGRE Shore & Country Properties understands that moving to a new city, state or country is inherently stressful and often filled with confusing challenges and misinformation. We consider it an honor and a privilege to assist transferees and their families to make a smooth and efficient transition to the new homes and new lives.

Fairfield County Connecticut hosts many international corporations that move people around the globe for professional development and to support restructuring mandates for these companies. It is critical for new employees to complete their move-in and establish equilibrium effectively and quickly.

We are skilled in partnering with Human Resource professionals and relocation coordinators.
We help to ease the transition for valued employees and their families, and assist them in making sure that their move is fully successful.
Whether the transferred employee is single, part of the two-career couple, or the head of a multigenerational family, we take a very personal, hands-on approach to assess all incoming transferees.
We can assist with the dilemma of rent vs. purchase decisions, searching for and finding the ideal home, choosing a school district, understanding commuting options and challenges, securing childcare facilities and elder care facilities, connecting with the local medical community, and the many other details needed to pull up all of life’s essential and significant pieces together, harmoniously.
We know that each relocation client arrives with many layers of realistic life complexities that will require ongoing attention from an experienced and dedicated relocation specialist.

For transferring employees, time is always a significant factor. Newcomers to an area often feel lost when they attempt to delve into a real estate website, searching for homes in an unfamiliar area.

Some Realtors® sign up a client on a search engine and then permit them to fend for themselves, which often proves to be a frustrating, time wasting exercise; Kinard Associates relocation specialists take a more proactive and realistic approach.
We interview the transferees and their families in order to learn about their immediate and long-term needs, along with special interests and goals. We use our in-depth knowledge and experience of local areas to preselect and preview homes before we take clients to see the homes that most closely match their criteria.
We often assist our clients to secure a mortgage or lease, close on their home, and get them moving to begin life in their new communities.

When time is short and the stakes are high, BHGRE Shore & Country Properties relocation specialists are an excellent resource for Human Resource professionals. When you are in a bind, you need someone you can trust with full confidence to take care of your new hire or valued, long-term employee. Our group of specialists will be there to step up with finely-tuned experience and guidance to share with our clients on the move. We have a well proven track record of working with the world’s largest relocation companies as well as working with smaller companies who are on an upward growth path.

http://www.KinardRealtyGroup.ctom

Http://www.kinardrealtygroup.com
real estate investments

Investors: Multi-Family, Mixed Use & Commercial Real Estate
Many people dream of owning real estate as an investment, and for good reason. Over the long term, real estate values appreciate and hold their value more reliably than other types of investments. Although the US economy experienced dramatic drops in real estate value during 2006-2012, the pre-recession values are being seen again, and this sector remains a very attractive place to invest for the future. Real estate investments are generally classified as either residential or commercial.

KRG agents in Greenwich and Stamford have sold hundreds of millions of dollars in commercial real estate over the past twelve years including hundreds of multifamily units, mixed-use downtown buildings, restaurants, contractor lots, warehouses, and land ready for development.

Residential Real Estate as an Investment

A residential property is a single family or multi-family dwelling with fewer than four units. Sure, not everyone is cut out to be a landlord, but for people who have patience and attention for detail, becoming a landlord is great way to reduce personal cost of living and/or build a nest egg for retirement.

A real estate agent, who is experienced with multi-family purchases as well as rentals, can help buyers to identify comparable homes or buildings, estimate the potential rent income, and determine a fair purchase price.
Once you calculate GRM for your 4-6 comparable properties, the average GRM is used to estimate a price or value for the multi-family house or mixed-use property.

GRM * = purchase price divided by the monthly rent income

GRM represents the number of months’ rent it would take to pay for the house if the buyer pays cash up front…the lower the GRM, the better. This is an oversimplification, of course, but GRM can help a buyer to determine which house might make sense to purchase, or what the target price would be for a potential purchase.
A key element in the GRM calculation is the estimate of monthly rent income.
It is important to use actual RENTED unit data, not current list prices.
Once you calculate GRM for your 4-6 comparable properties, the average GRM is used to estimate a price or value for the multifamily house or mixed-use property.
A good real estate agent is a valuable asset to buyers in helping you navigate this process.

*Note that GRM does not reflect any operating expense, property taxes, or management costs; to include those elements in your analysis, calculate a Capitalization Rate (CAP rate), which is an expression of Return on Investment (ROI) for rental properties.

Commercial Real Estate as an Investment

Any investment for which the owner receives periodic rent can be classified as a commercial property. This can include residential dwellings that are greater than four units, mixed-use buildings, office buildings, warehouses, industrial buildings, retail spaces, parking garages, land for development and agricultural land.
Each type of commercial property has its own unique operating challenges and potential Return on Investment (ROI).
Prospective buyers should consult with an experienced real estate agent to determine if this type of investment fits their goals.
Potential investors should compare the Return on Investment (ROI) with the returns they could earn by investing in something else, such as the stock market.

Ien commercial real estate, the most commonly used calculation for ROI is called the Capitalization Rate (CAP rate). An experienced real estate agent can help with the detailed analysis.
CAP Rate = Net Operating Income divided by the Property Asset Value

For example, A commercial property sells for $1,000,000 and generates an annual Net Operating Income (NOI) of $100,000, the Cap Rate would be 10%.
1. Income ÷ Rate = Value
2. Income ÷ Value = Rate
3. Value x Rate = Income

Examples:

Net Operating Income ÷ Capitalization Rate = Value

$100,000 income ÷ 9% cap rate = $1,111,111
$100,000 income ÷ 8% cap rate = $1,250,000
$100,000 income ÷ 6% cap rate = $1,666,666

Net Operating Income ÷ Value = Rate

$100,000 income ÷ $1,111,111 = .09% rate
$100,000 income ÷ $1,250,000 = .08% rate
$100,000 income ÷ $1,666,666 = .06% rate

Value x Rate = Net Operating Income

$1,111,111 value x .09% rate = $100,000 income
$1,250,000 value x .08% rate = $100,000 income
$1,666,666 value x .06% rate = $100,000 income

Note the relationship between the rate and the value. As the rate goes down, the value increases. If you’re a seller; you want to sell for a 5% CAP rate, if you’re a buyer; you want to buy for a 10% CAP is rate.

Net operating income (NOI) is a calculation used to analyze real estate investments that generate income.
NOI equals all revenue (apartment rents and coin-op laundry) from the property minus all reasonably necessary operating expenses (utilities, maintenance fees, management fees, liability insurance and taxes).
Note that mortgage principal and interest are not considered operating expenses; they are debt service, and they get subtracted from NOI to determine Net Cash Flow.

Net Operating Income = Net Income – Operating Expenses

In essence, the NOI is the cash generated by the property, which would be used to pay the mortgage, fund capital improvements, and generate Net Cash Flow for owners. Remember, Net Cash Flow is the most important calculation!
Net Cash Flow = NOI – Debt Service – Capital Improvements

To estimate a fair purchase price for a rental building, first estimate the Net Operating Income the building could generate and divide that by your target CAP Rate. For example, if a building could generate a NOI of $85,000 per year, and you are looking for a CAP Rate of 10%, then your target purchase price would be $850,000.

**See our mortgage calculator to find out what your scenario looks like.

Http://www.kinardrealtygroup.com
blogging for real estate agents 1010

1 – Don’t … ask for too much money.

Yes, you know what you paid for the house. But that doesn’t mean that it’s still worth that amount—or that it’s appreciated in value since you bought it. “Your house is only worth what the market is willing to pay you,” says certified financial planner Ellen Derrick of LearnVestPlanning Services, who has bought and sold at least eight homes, including investment properties. “It doesn’t matter what’s in it. And it doesn’t matter what your mortgage is.” Your realtor has an eye on the market and knows what kind of prices homes—just like yours—are garnering now. Pricing your home too high will discourage interested parties from making an offer, and your property could sit for months, which isn’t your goal.

What to do: Have a few realtors give you a price on the home (or get a comparative market analysis), and—this is key—don’t ignore them. Keep in mind that even if you’ve made pricey improvements to the home (granite countertops, stainless steel appliances), you may not get your money back if you’re the only home on the block with such upgrades. If comparable kitchens in the neighborhood don’t have similar upgrades, buyers aren’t expecting fancy perks in yours, and may not be willing to pony up for the difference.

2 – Don’t … skip the marketing.

You may think that all you have to do is take one photo of the house, stick a “For Sale” sign in your yard and buyers will come pouring in the door. Au contraire. “The only way to guarantee that you’re going to get the highest price for the house is to use all of the marketing options available to you,” says Holly Mellstrom, a realtor in Pelham, NY. “This means Internet advertising, 30 pictures of your house, public open houses and even postcards.” The more people who see your house, the better your chances are of selling it. In an age when buyers start their searches online, counting on drive-bys and word of mouth isn’t enough anymore.

What to do: Don’t wait until the last minute to notify a realtor that your house is for sale. If you can, give her at least a month of lead time, so she can research comparable homes and set a good price. “Give them time to book their favorite professional photographer,” Mellstrom says. “And give them time to photograph your house on a day the sun is out.” In fact, if you live in a seasonal area, and you know that you’re going to put the house on the market in February, have photos taken in September, when the grass is still green and the trees have leaves.

3 – Don’t … go it alone, unless you know what you’re doing.

If you’ve bought and sold half a dozen homes of your own or you live in a sought-after neighborhood where they sell in two days, you might be able to pull off a For Sale By Owner. If you aren’t a seasoned pro, however, let a professional take the reins. “Some people don’t buy and sell houses more than once or twice in a lifetime, and there’s a lot of money at stake,” Mellstrom says. “And there are so many disclosure laws now. Depending on the laws in your state, you’re really accepting some liability by trying to sell it yourself, unless you have a friend or an attorney who can guide you through the process.” A realtor also knows what’s selling around you, and for what price. She can tell you whether an offer is reasonable, and help you negotiate smartly. Plus, you may not save as much as you think in the end. “People who buy For Sale By Owner houses automatically discount the price they’re willing to offer because there is no realtor involved,” Mellstrom says.

What to do: If you can, get a realtor recommendation from a friend or colleague. Check references, conduct interviews and go with someone with a proven track record.

4 – Don’t … neglect to fix things that are broken.

If sellers walk through your house and spot a handful of items that need immediate repair, they’re going to wonder how well you’ve maintained the things they can’t see. The entry way is a big tip-off. Got a loose hand rail on the steps, sagging screen door or jiggly door knob? Fix them. Clear your gutters, patch holes in your walls and address dripping faucets.

What to do: Do a walk-through of your own home, pretending that you’re seeing it for the first time. What things have you always meant to fix? Now is the time. Spend a few weekends dealing with all of those niggling projects to get your home in show-worthy shape.

5 – Don’t … get emotionally involved.

Yes, it’s your house. Yes, you sweated blood and tears to get it just the way you wanted it. But, no, that does not make it someone else’s “perfect,” particularly when you’ve made some unique decorating decisions. You want the space to look as neutral as possible, so buyers can envision themselves in the space. So even if those teal walls in the bedroom look knock-out great with your duvet, they probably won’t match anyone else’s things. Let go of the features you love, and make it a house most people could love—and that might mean painting all of the walls a soft, neutral color. “My office at home is a robin’s egg blue,” Derrick says. “But if we get ready to sell that house, you can bet I’m

What to do: Have a realtor walk through your home, and when she tells you what you’ll need to change to make it marketable, listen to her. Start thinking about your house as a commodity, not an extension of your identity. If buyers don’t love it, it’s not a personal insult. It’s simply a deal that didn’t work out.

6. Don’t … leave your stuff everywhere.

You want buyers to feel like they could move into your house tomorrow—with their things. And your collectible tchotchkes, photos and utility bills make the space feel a little too personal. “That first impression is really important, and if they’re greeted with a huge photograph of you on your wedding day 25 years ago over the fireplace, that’s really distracting,” Mellstrom says. “It sends the message to the buyer that ‘This is my house, not your house.’”

What to do: Before you put the home on the market, get a few boxes and grab every extraneous thing you see: photos, knick-knacks, books. If it helps, take a few pictures of each room, and try to view them through a buyer’s eyes. What could you remove from each room to make the space feel bigger? “You want it to look like a hotel room,” Derrick says. “Hotel rooms look comfortable, but they don’t look like they’re somebody else’s comfortable.” Also? Don’t hang out at showings. While you may want to tell prospective buyers about all of the things you’ve done to the house, it’s best to leave them be. If there’s some information you think is important for them to know, leave a flyer on the kitchen counter.

7 – Don’t … get offended by a lowball offer.

Just because someone came in with a really low bid is no reason to walk off in a huff. Now’s your chance to negotiate. “Buyers are trying to buy your house for the lowest price possible,” Mellstrom says. “Don’t blow them off. They might love your house. You can’t blame them for trying.” In other words, it’s not personal, and it’s not a slam on your housekeeping. It’s a business transaction.

What to do: Come back with a counteroffer. Typically, most buyers will come back with a second offer, which is a better indication of what they’re really willing to pay.

8 – Don’t … lose a sale over something stupid.

It’s possible to get 99% of the way through a home sale, only to stall out at the end over a minor detail. Don’t be that seller. “I’ve seen people throw away getting a $450,000 house sold over somebody wanting to take the mantle instead of leaving the mantle over the fireplace,” Derrick says.

What to do: Unless it’s an heirloom that’s been in your family for generations, remember that you can probably find another one—but you may not find another buyer at that price. To be safe, if there are things you’re feeling like you can’t live without, such as the curtains you found at a crazy flea market or the light fixture you discovered at an antiques store, replace them with something else before you show the house.

home selling tips

1 – Don’t … ask for too much money.

Yes, you know what you paid for the house. But that doesn’t mean that it’s still worth that amount—or that it’s appreciated in value since you bought it. “Your house is only worth what the market is willing to pay you,” says certified financial planner Ellen Derrick of LearnVestPlanning Services, who has bought and sold at least eight homes, including investment properties. “It doesn’t matter what’s in it. And it doesn’t matter what your mortgage is.” Your realtor has an eye on the market and knows what kind of prices homes—just like yours—are garnering now. Pricing your home too high will discourage interested parties from making an offer, and your property could sit for months, which isn’t your goal.

What to do: Have a few realtors give you a price on the home (or get a comparative market analysis), and—this is key—don’t ignore them. Keep in mind that even if you’ve made pricey improvements to the home (granite countertops, stainless steel appliances), you may not get your money back if you’re the only home on the block with such upgrades. If comparable kitchens in the neighborhood don’t have similar upgrades, buyers aren’t expecting fancy perks in yours, and may not be willing to pony up for the difference.

2 – Don’t … skip the marketing.

You may think that all you have to do is take one photo of the house, stick a “For Sale” sign in your yard and buyers will come pouring in the door. Au contraire. “The only way to guarantee that you’re going to get the highest price for the house is to use all of the marketing options available to you,” says Holly Mellstrom, a realtor in Pelham, NY. “This means Internet advertising, 30 pictures of your house, public open houses and even postcards.” The more people who see your house, the better your chances are of selling it. In an age when buyers start their searches online, counting on drive-bys and word of mouth isn’t enough anymore.

What to do: Don’t wait until the last minute to notify a realtor that your house is for sale. If you can, give her at least a month of lead time, so she can research comparable homes and set a good price. “Give them time to book their favorite professional photographer,” Mellstrom says. “And give them time to photograph your house on a day the sun is out.” In fact, if you live in a seasonal area, and you know that you’re going to put the house on the market in February, have photos taken in September, when the grass is still green and the trees have leaves.

3 – Don’t … go it alone, unless you know what you’re doing.

If you’ve bought and sold half a dozen homes of your own or you live in a sought-after neighborhood where they sell in two days, you might be able to pull off a For Sale By Owner. If you aren’t a seasoned pro, however, let a professional take the reins. “Some people don’t buy and sell houses more than once or twice in a lifetime, and there’s a lot of money at stake,” Mellstrom says. “And there are so many disclosure laws now. Depending on the laws in your state, you’re really accepting some liability by trying to sell it yourself, unless you have a friend or an attorney who can guide you through the process.” A realtor also knows what’s selling around you, and for what price. She can tell you whether an offer is reasonable, and help you negotiate smartly. Plus, you may not save as much as you think in the end. “People who buy For Sale By Owner houses automatically discount the price they’re willing to offer because there is no realtor involved,” Mellstrom says.

What to do: If you can, get a realtor recommendation from a friend or colleague. Check references, conduct interviews and go with someone with a proven track record.

4 – Don’t … neglect to fix things that are broken.

If sellers walk through your house and spot a handful of items that need immediate repair, they’re going to wonder how well you’ve maintained the things they can’t see. The entry way is a big tip-off. Got a loose hand rail on the steps, sagging screen door or jiggly door knob? Fix them. Clear your gutters, patch holes in your walls and address dripping faucets.

What to do: Do a walk-through of your own home, pretending that you’re seeing it for the first time. What things have you always meant to fix? Now is the time. Spend a few weekends dealing with all of those niggling projects to get your home in show-worthy shape.

5 – Don’t … get emotionally involved.

Yes, it’s your house. Yes, you sweated blood and tears to get it just the way you wanted it. But, no, that does not make it someone else’s “perfect,” particularly when you’ve made some unique decorating decisions. You want the space to look as neutral as possible, so buyers can envision themselves in the space. So even if those teal walls in the bedroom look knock-out great with your duvet, they probably won’t match anyone else’s things. Let go of the features you love, and make it a house most people could love—and that might mean painting all of the walls a soft, neutral color. “My office at home is a robin’s egg blue,” Derrick says. “But if we get ready to sell that house, you can bet I’m

What to do: Have a realtor walk through your home, and when she tells you what you’ll need to change to make it marketable, listen to her. Start thinking about your house as a commodity, not an extension of your identity. If buyers don’t love it, it’s not a personal insult. It’s simply a deal that didn’t work out.

6. Don’t … leave your stuff everywhere.

You want buyers to feel like they could move into your house tomorrow—with their things. And your collectible tchotchkes, photos and utility bills make the space feel a little too personal. “That first impression is really important, and if they’re greeted with a huge photograph of you on your wedding day 25 years ago over the fireplace, that’s really distracting,” Mellstrom says. “It sends the message to the buyer that ‘This is my house, not your house.’”

What to do: Before you put the home on the market, get a few boxes and grab every extraneous thing you see: photos, knick-knacks, books. If it helps, take a few pictures of each room, and try to view them through a buyer’s eyes. What could you remove from each room to make the space feel bigger? “You want it to look like a hotel room,” Derrick says. “Hotel rooms look comfortable, but they don’t look like they’re somebody else’s comfortable.” Also? Don’t hang out at showings. While you may want to tell prospective buyers about all of the things you’ve done to the house, it’s best to leave them be. If there’s some information you think is important for them to know, leave a flyer on the kitchen counter.

7 – Don’t … get offended by a lowball offer.

Just because someone came in with a really low bid is no reason to walk off in a huff. Now’s your chance to negotiate. “Buyers are trying to buy your house for the lowest price possible,” Mellstrom says. “Don’t blow them off. They might love your house. You can’t blame them for trying.” In other words, it’s not personal, and it’s not a slam on your housekeeping. It’s a business transaction.

What to do: Come back with a counteroffer. Typically, most buyers will come back with a second offer, which is a better indication of what they’re really willing to pay.

8 – Don’t … lose a sale over something stupid.

It’s possible to get 99% of the way through a home sale, only to stall out at the end over a minor detail. Don’t be that seller. “I’ve seen people throw away getting a $450,000 house sold over somebody wanting to take the mantle instead of leaving the mantle over the fireplace,” Derrick says.

What to do: Unless it’s an heirloom that’s been in your family for generations, remember that you can probably find another one—but you may not find another buyer at that price. To be safe, if there are things you’re feeling like you can’t live without, such as the curtains you found at a crazy flea market or the light fixture you discovered at an antiques store, replace them with something else before you show the house.

multi-family investments

Have you ever dreamed of owning a multi-family house?  Perhaps you want a charming old Victorian in the center of town, where you could live in one unit and rent out the other one or two? Or perhaps a larger building, of 10 or 20 units for example, to run as a commercial rental property?

Each type of investment can be a dream come true…if you do your homework and make sound decisions.  A Realtor who is experienced with multi-family purchases as well as rentals can help you to identify comparable homes or buildings, estimate the potential rent income, and determine a fair purchase price. Your goal should be to maximize your monthly cash flow while finding a house that works for you.

There are two proven ways to estimate the fair value of a rental property: Gross Rent Multiplier or GRM and Capitalization Rate or Cap Rate. We will introduce the concepts of each here, and your Realtor can help you through the detailed analysis.

Gross Rent Multiplier

When a residential property has 4 or fewer units, buyers typically use a Gross Rent Multiplier (GRM) to identify properties, and then use a CAP rate to get to brass tacks.  

GRM = purchase price divided by the monthly rent income

GRM represents the number of months’ rent it would take to pay for the house if you were paying cash up front…the lower the GRM, the better. This is an oversimplification, of course, but GRM can help you determine which house out of several comparables might make sense for you to purchase, or what the target price would be for a potential purchase.

Let’s look at four 3-family houses in the same town; it’s important to select comparable properties that have SOLD in the past 6 months, not current list prices. These 4 homes all have 3 units, and the potential buyer intends to live in one of the units.  She wants to estimate a fair purchase price for House E.

HouseHouse DetailsOwner OccupiedPurchase PriceMonthly Rent IncomeGRM
A3 units, 6 BR, 3 BA2BR$529,000$3600147
B3 units, 5 BR, 3 BA2BR$502,000$3300152
C3 units, 4 BR, 3 BA2BR$486,000$3000162
D3 units, 4 BR, 3 BA1BR$486,000$3200152
E: Potential Purchase3 units, 5BR, 3 BA2BR???$2600153.25

A key element in the GRM calculation is your estimate of monthly rent income. Here again, it is important to use actual RENTED unit data, not current list prices. Note that Houses C and D have the same layout of rooms and baths, but in House C the owner lives in a 2 bedroom unit while in House D the owner chose to live in a 1 bedroom unit. This choice significantly affected the rental income and the GRM for these two houses.

Once you calculate GRM for your 4 comparables, you take an average of the 4.  This average GRM is used to estimate a price or value for House E. In this Table, the average GRM is 153.25.

We multiply this times the estimated monthly rent of $3200 and arrive at fair purchase price of $490,400, which you and your Realtor can use to guide your negotiations with the seller.

*Note* that GRM does not reflect any operating expense, property taxes, or management costs; to include those elements in your analysis you would want to calculate a Capitalization Rate (Cap Rate), which is an expression of Return on Investment for rental properties.

Capitalization Rate, CAP Rate or Simply CAP 

When the rental property has 5 or more units, it is considered a commercial property. As a potential investor, you should compare the return on investment or ROI with the return you could get by investing in something else, such as the stock market. In commercial real estate, the most commonly used calculation for ROI is called the Capitalization Rate or Cap Rate.

CAP Rate = Net Operating Income divided by the Property Asset Value

For example, if you buy a rental property for $1,000,000 and generate an annual Net Operating Income of $100,000, then your Cap Rate would be 10%.

To arrive at Net Operating Income, you will need data on recent or projected Gross Rent Income and vacancy rate (to estimate your Net Income), as well as Operating Expenses such as property taxes, insurance, utilities, maintenance, management fees, etc.  

Note that mortgage principal and interest are not considered operating expenses; they are debt service, and they get subtracted from NOI to determine Net Cash Flow. Your Realtor can help you build up this data from similar properties, and also help you to estimate the rents you could charge by making cosmetic improvements to the rental units.

Net Operating Income = Net Income – Operating Expenses
In essence, your NOI is the cash generated by the property, which you would use to pay your mortgage, fund capital improvements, and give yourself some Net Cash Flow! Remember…Net Cash Flow is the most important calculation!

Net Cash Flow = NOI – Debt Service – Capital Improvements

To estimate a fair purchase price for a rental building, you would first estimate the Net Operating Income the building could generate and divide that by your target Cap Rate. For example, if a building could generate NOI of $85,000/year and you are looking for a Cap Rate of 10%, then your target purchase price would be $850,000.

Purchase Price = NOI divided by Cap Rate

The most important guideline here is that you should rely on an experienced Realtor to help you through your analysis and negotiation process.