Tips on How to Maximize Overtime Hours as a Self-Employed Worker

Whether you’re an entrepreneur or a freelancer working from a home office, overtime hours are likely a companion you’ve come to accept as a part of the job. Individuals pursuing nontraditional career paths must often put in more than eight hours a day to reach their goals. However, overtime can be used as your opportunity to earn more and eventually work less. Take advantage of it properly, and take a glance at the following tips on how to maximize overtime hours as a self-employed worker for a few suggestions that may help you put your time to more productive use.

Tip #1: Focus on earning more. In other words, your overtime hours in the office should actually produce earnings for you, either immediately or in the future. Leave menial tasks to your regular work hours.

Tip #2: Tune in. If you are concentrating on earning more and working less as a result of your efforts, it is essential to hone in completely on your work during overtime when possible (and when doing so does not interfere too severely with your family life). Turn off the phone, ignore emails, don’t answer the door…do whatever it takes to pack as much quality work into your overtime as possible.

Tip #3: List your most important tasks when overtime begins. As soon as you have entered into what you officially consider overtime hours for the day, stop for a moment and make a list of your priorities for the rest of the working session. Staying in the office late to finish up tasks from the day can take longer than necessary if the extra time invested is not planned out correctly. Start with your highest priority and work your way down, no exceptions.

Tip #4: Set a mini-deadline. Giving yourself an entire evening or weekend to accomplish your remaining tasks will inevitably lead to procrastination. Set a reasonable time line in which you can accomplish your goals with concentrated work.

Tip #5: Add unfinished tasks to the next day’s work, and come in early to complete them. When tasks are not completed within your set time line, consider putting them aside until the next morning. After so many hours of concentration the mind becomes dull, meaning that our work is not as sharp and crisp as it should be. Coming back the next day may reduce the amount of time spent on tasks that would have gone on endlessly the night before.

Tip #6: Consider working earlier as opposed to later. Again, the mind becomes dull after so many hours of intense concentration, meaning that overtime work may occur more often than necessary because it is not as productive as it should be. Putting in your best hours in the early morning, when your mind is refreshed and before the family is awake, may increase the return on your efforts.

Tip #7: Be a demanding boss. Working overtime in general tends to give self-employed workers a feeling of increased productivity, but such a feeling can be ungrounded. Make it a point to take note of what you actually accomplish with your overtime hours, other than merely putting in the time.

Tip #8: Delegate and reassign. If you work from home, chances are you have family members who are not only eager to be with you, but also available and willing to help you finish your work quickly. You may wish to consider asking for help in the family office, and by doing so make it possible to kill two birds with one stone. If family is not available or willing, consider hiring a personal/virtual assistant who can handle a long list of tasks within a short time frame (personal/virtual assistants specialize in excellent time management, and are often quite worth the small financial investment). As a result, you’ll be free to pursue tasks that directly affect your bank account.

Keep in mind that the point of overtime as a self-employed worker or entrepreneur is to eventually maximize profits while minimizing the time investment involved each day. Understanding your main goal will naturally lend itself toward increased productivity during the after-hours.

How to Bid Low on a Home Without Offending the Seller

Bid

Now is a great time for real estate buyers to get great deals on homes they really want, but you have to remember that sellers are invested in their homes. They are likely to feel insulted if you bid low on their home, which may result in such hostile feedback that you can’t make another bid. If you want to bid low on a home without offending the seller, some finesse is in order.

Discern Motivation

 

A motivated seller won’t be as offended by a low bid as a seller who wants to wait for the market value of the home. For example, if the seller has already purchased a new home across town, he might be willing to negotiate further in order to get it over with. You can bid low on a home without offending a motivated seller, but you have to tread lightly until you’re sure.

 

The same is true for a home that’s been sitting on the market for the last eight months. Home owners get frustrated when they can’t get any bites on their home, and will eventually reconcile themselves to a lower price just to sell. Check with your real estate agent to find out how motivated the seller is and how long the house has been on the market.

 

Compare Prices

 

Market data is essential if you want to bid low on a home without offending the seller. Find out the selling prices of homes in the area of comparable size and quality, then adjust your offer to compete with them. This isn’t always a foolproof method, but chances are the seller’s Realtor has already made them aware of these facts. They might have priced the house high in anticipation of a lower offer.

 

Remember that houses are only as valuable as the market allows them to be. You can’t worry about offending the seller with a low bid if you’ll be overpaying for the home. Since this market is mostly in the hands of the buyer, sellers are more than willing to adjust their expectations in order to guarantee a sale.

 

Note Problems

 

You’ll be less likely to offend the seller with a low bid if you can cite specific reasons why your bid is less than what they might expect. Foundation problems, outdated fixtures, poor landscaping and other issues should be described along with the bid. It’s hard to imagine that sellers don’t know what’s wrong with their own homes, but this is often the case.

 

You can attach an explanation for your offer to the top of your bid, in the form of a cover letter. This is a thorough, respectful way to do business, and you’ll decrease the risk of offending the seller with your low bid.

 

Prepare for Rejection

 

If you make a low bid on a home and offend the seller, you might be shot down entirely. Some home owners won’t entertain lowball offers and will refuse to negotiate further, which is the risk you take. However, the seller might respond with a counteroffer, in which case you can begin negotiations from your own low bid. Real estate is largely a guessing game, and you do have to take a few risks.

How to Find the Best Buyer Agent When House Hunting

Agent

The real estate market is notoriously competitive for real estate agents, and unfortunately, both buyers and sellers often become victims of divided loyalty. Since Realtors work with both buyers and sellers, it is often impossible for them to be impartial, and one party winds up getting the best deal from the other. A buyer agent, however, works exclusively with buyers for real estate transactions, which might be your best bet for your house hunting efforts.

What most people don’t understand is that working with a real estate agent is a personal venture. You need to find someone whose ideals match your own and whose loyalty will rest with you alone. The chemistry has to be right, and you might go through six Realtors before finding one that suits your personality. A buyer agent is no different, except the chemistry must be even stronger for the relationship to prosper.

 

When house hunting, you’ll want to find a buyer agent before you even start to look at properties. If you simply show up at an open house, you’ll be accosted by the Realtor who is representing that property, and high-pressure sales tactics might convince you to work with him. If you are already represented by a buyer agent, however, you can skip all of the politics and jump straigtht to looking for your dream home.

 

Spend Time with Several Agents

 

As mentioned above, it is important that you feel safe and comfortable with your buyer agent, and confident in his ability to represent you well. This usually means not only interviewing several buyer agents, but also spending time with them. Take several house hunting over several days and figure out which ones have the best chemistry with you and your family.

 

For example, I worked with a buyer agent who insisted on smoking in his Range Rover and eating Philly cheesesteak sandwiches while we looked at houses. The smells alone were enough to spur me to look elsewhere, even though he was a great real estate agent. You’ll find that your buyer agent’s habits can be deal-breakers even before you even start touring houses.

 

Talk to References

 

Finding the best buyer agent is not much different from finding a great employee. Not only should you interview several candidates, but you should also check their references. Find out how their former clients feel about the service they received, and don’t hesitate to ask probing questions such as, “Would you work with her again?”

 

A buyer agent who is reluctant to hand over a list of references probably isn’t worth your time. House hunting is an important process and you want to have the best representation possible.

 

Ask About Buyer Agent Contracts

 

It is never a good idea to bind yourself to a buyer agent, particularly when you are just starting your house hunting efforts. Some real estate agents require that you sign a buyer agent contract, which requires you to work with them alone. Ask if the agent requires them, and then request a copy. You should have your attorney look it over before signing it, if you do at all.

 

Ideally, your buyer agent will be sufficiently confident in his own skills to work with you sans-contract. If not, you might want to play the field for a while before committing.

 

Request Disclosure of Fees

 

A buyer agent’s fees might be slightly higher than that of an arbitrary real estate agent, largely because the buyer agent is working exclusively for buyers. They don’t have listings, which means that their focus isn’t compromised, but it also limits their income potential. Consequently, you might pay more for a buyer agent.

 

The most important thing is to request a disclosure of fees (in writing) before you ever start touring houses. Make sure the fees don’t increase depending on a sequence of factors, and ask about additional costs that you might incur along the way.

Real Estate Investing: Financing Resources Overview

Finance

Getting financing for your real estate deals can come from a number of sources. Some will be better for you than others depending on how you want to structure the deal and what, if any, financing you may have at hand. One of them is through a “Joint Venture” where like-minded individuals pool their investment capital to purchase a property for profit.

One of the benefits is that expenses are divided amongst the members which means less out of pocket expense for everyone, one of the drawbacks is that there’s a budget and each expense must be approved by all of the members, which can become tiresome and time consuming. Unless it is contractually agreed upon that it will your sole responsibility to hire a contractor, an inspector, and get all permits needed etc, you must come to an agreement on each of these decisions as a group. A legally binding contract must then be drawn up stating the duties and responsibilities of each member of the group.

 

Also, if you will be performing a function in the group which requires more time on your part than that of the other members, because their schedules won’t permit it, you can receive payment from them and have it stated in the contract. Even if it becomes your sole responsibility to make these decisions for the group, it’s very important that you have daily contact with the other members via phone, fax, or e-mail. it keeps them in the loop and it’s reassuring knowing how their money is being spent. Joint ventures are a team effort, and on a team each member has a role to play, and when each player has the best interests of the other players at heart, there’s a very good chance for success on the “field” of real estate.

House hunting During a Real Estate Scandal

Scandals

Sub prime loan. Three words which really should have such positive connotations are now resounding in the minds of millions of Americans trying to get out from under the rental trap. As mortgage companies scramble to sell off their debt to avoid bankruptcy, the crunch is hitting average americans like a sledgehammer. The biggest scandal to hit the real estate market since the S L; crisis in the 1980’s, this situation has brought many young Americans as well as minorities and immigrants to bankruptcy, forcing them to give up their homes, assets, and their livlihood. For those who fell into the trap, the crescendo of the situation has been the foreclosure of their homes and the upheaval of their lives. At this early stage, blame is being passed back and forth while the government staunchly lays blame not on potentially fraudulent credit companies, but on consumers who don’t understand the legal language of credit documentation.

Caught in the middle are consumers who have budgeted themselves into a smaller price bracket, and who know what they can afford, as well as companies who are genuinely in the business to help people from all walks of life own a home. In the few months in which my wife and I have been searching for our first home in north Georgia, we have heard all the hype about what are called “McMansions” here in the south, and according to the hype, we are more than qualified to immediately take possession of one of these fine homes. We opted to err on the side of caution, however, and avoided talking to the builders. We went old-fashioned, and asked some people we knew about agents. That was the best decision we made. She cut through the hype for us, and let us know exactly where we stood, no holds barred. She also put us in contact with a mortgage originator with whom she had done business for years, and had a long list of inspectors, consultants, and builders with whom she had had relationships for just as long.

 

We learned to find out what we could afford without strapping ourselves, and within a few trips out to visit properties, she was honed in on exactly what we wanted. It was then that we realized what was happening around us. The housing market was drying up- quickly! Our price range was the most highly sought after in the three counties we were searching in, and we suddenly found that we weren’t only competing with other couples, but also with bank expectations, builders, investors, and amateur flippers. We were outnumbered, and outgunned. At every step, other buyers would outbid us on the homes we were interested in right out of our price range. It soon became apparent that we might be better off with one of the new homes which were languishing on half-developed lots. Question was, would the builders deal? As it happens, they do. One subdivision’s builder we looked at dropped prices by ten thousand. Then we found another. Turns out the builders don’t want to be stuck with excess inventory, and are trying to compete with older home sales while legislators are whispering about the bottom falling out of the market. Although that may not happen at all, what is likely is the market correction that is just around the corner, and the dip in home prices that will ensue before the cycle begins again.

 

For those of us out there who have done our homework, and found a good agent, this is a good time to buy, but carefully. My advice to you is to read through all your contractual paperwork, and work with someone who knows more than you do whom you can trust. Then, be sure you understand it all before you sign. Whatever you do, don’t be in a hurry. You’ll regret it if you rush, particularly when the market is so close to being in serious trouble.

Tips for Selling Your Home in a Sluggish Real Estate Market

Real Estate

The real estate market has cooled drastically in many parts of the country. So what should you do if you need to sell your home?

First of all, you need to accept the fact that not only is the value of homes rising like crazy, but in some areas it is dropping at a fairly good rate. While real estate is – and always will be – a good investment, there are going to be periods of time when there is a potential to lose money if you do not time your buying and selling right. Just because your home was worth $300,000 two years ago does not mean that it will be worth that much today. Be realistic about what you can get for your home, and share your desire for a realistic price with your realtor. Some realtors are so eager to have your listing that they will convince you that THEY can get you more money than it is worth. If you have checked out the recent sales of comparable homes in your area and you think that your real estate agent is being overenthusiastic, move on to the agent who will give you a realistic answer – even if it is not the answer that you want to hear.

 

Be aware that there is a good chance that your home will sit on the market for an extended period of time, and be ready to act accordingly. Your home must be ready to show at a moment’s notice, so keep that lawn mowed and those dishes washed.

 

Do not get too excited about finding your next dream home that you absolutely must own. If you do find that home, the owners of that piece of real estate are probably not having a much easier time selling it than you are having selling your home. And if they do sell it before you have sold your home and are ready to buy it? Well, these things happen. There are lots of other nice homes out there.

 

Be willing to do some creative financing, if you can afford to. Be willing to share closing costs, to throw your antique buffet into the sale, or to give a credit so that the buyer can buy some new carpet.

 

If you simply can not stand the idea of selling your house so cheaply – or you can not afford to – consider renting the property out. Given the fact that mortgage rates are on the rise, rental properties are more in demand. Your mortgage will be paid, and sooner or later the value of the home will rise again.

DIY Real Estate: How to Use Comp Homes to Sell Your House

House

Selling a home can be a daunting task for a professional real estate agent. With property promotion, open houses and a fluctuating market, trial and error usually wins out over book knowledge and written rules. But, what about the homeowner who decides to sell their home without the help of a professional. Believe it or not, you may find some of your greatest help in comp homes.

When placing your home on the market for sale, you will inevitably look in your neighborhood for other comp homes also for sale. Competitively pricing your home will draw in potential buyers more quickly than pricing your home out of the range of other comp homes in the area. This pricing model only works if you can find a comp home in your neighborhood. But, how will you know if a home is comparable?

 

Homeowners should always look at their rival competition for help in selling a home. Visiting the open houses of other homes in the area, or arranging for a walk through with the owners or real estate agent handling the sale, will help you to gauge the home’s condition, in comparison to your home.

 

This tactic is also helpful for homeowners selling a home without a real estate agent. Seeing how a real estate agent offers the information about the comp home, viewing the real estate agent’s fliers and promotion sheets, as well as, seeing the changes or key points a real estate agent stresses during a walk-through will help you to better understand how you should be handling those aspects of your sale.

 

Another key point to viewing comp properties in your area, is to judge the price of your home against the price of other comp homes in the area. If you view a comp home that is larger and newer than yours and priced lower, you will see the lack of value in the situation. A home buyer will not be able to see your attachment to a home, nor will they understand why you believe the home to be worth more than the larger home down the street. Viewing a rival’s home is important as a homeowner selling a home without a real estate agent, to better understand how your home looks to the consumer.

 

Selling a home on your own is a noble task. Using homes in your area to learn the business of home sales, gauge comparable home values and objectively see what other homes have to offer the home buyer, will help you sell your home without a real estate agent.

Pre-Forclosure Homes: How to Profit From Real Estate in a Down Market

Beautiful Real Estate

As a person familiar with both investing and home improvement, I see this market as a time of reflection. Our past action have brought us to a point where many home owners are faced with loosing their home. Many homeowners are faced with losing their home without making a dime. There are many opportunities out there to buy homes. First time home buyers do themselves a disservice if they do not consider buying a home right now. Ideally with this market, you could find your dream deal and have moved in by or near the Christmas holiday season. You could buy a new home, but you should also consider Pre-Forclusers.

My stance at this time is not for the current home owners. I do not know exactly how you can save your home if you have reached the foreclosure point. Most predatory lenders that would have helped stopped foreclosures are no longer in business. There are a few that still operate, but their practices have changed drastically. My stance is for the first time investor that wants to lean more about the Pre-Foreclosure market. My stance is for the first time home buyer with decent or not so decent credit but has a desire to own a home. My stance is for the single mom living in an apartment that has no tax benefit from renting. My stance is for the millions of people struggling to just buy that first home. I hope and aspire to help them.

 

My background is in banking. I was a commercial and residential lender. I learned a great deal from banking. I also learned a great deal from training, I took everything from Carlton Sheets classes to Richdad.com real estate program. I learned a ton more from making mistakes. I played in the real estate market with little to no money. I also played in the real estate market with thousands. I’ve won and lost. In the process here are some of the tips I’ve learned that could help you make money now in Pre-Foreclosure Homes

 

What should you do first in the Pre-foreclosure home market to make money

 

Get a coach. It a simple rule but most people do not follow it. When you have a mentor or a coach involved you are more likely to do better than others. If you have a plan that you and your coach or mentor outline, you should stick to it. There is tons of money to be made in the Pre-foreclosure market. There is no need to go after every deal. You should get a coach, make a plan, and take action. My coaches have changed through out the years.

 

Some I still work with today. The fact remains you will need a coach that has more experience than you in the industry to help guide you through troubled times. Some coaches come at no cost. Some coaches charge thousands of dollars for their expertise. If Phil Jackson came to coach my sons’ team for $100,000 it would be a bargain. If someone that is a first time coach want to coach for the same $100,000, it would be a risk. Get an experience coach that can help you achieve you dream Pre-foreclosure market championship. A great pair off coaches I’m aware of are Vicki And Lloyd Irving. They have helped many of their student achieve phenomenal success in short periods of time.

 

How do you start in Pre-foreclosure Home Market to make money

 

Read everything. You can not learn enough about the business. There are many books an periodicals on the subject. Once you have coach and a plan, you will have material to learn. You might have a boot-camp to attend. Regardless, you should pick up ever book you find on the Pre-Foreclosure and Short Sale market. Each book your read on Pre-Foreclosures might have a tidbit of information that helps you move forward.

 

The more you read, the more you should act upon. The fact is knowledge is great but applied knowledge makes a world of difference. You might know how to cook, but until you get in the kitchen to make breakfast you will sill be hungry. As long as you learn and apply the knowledge you will grow in the Pre-foreclosure market.

 

Biggest Key to make money in th Pre-Foreclosure market that will make you money

 

Be creative. Donny Deutsch said it best “You will get what other won’t because you do what other don’.” In this business, creative people make a killing. People that think outside the box and are willing to ask. One of my favorite sources for online creative ideas is Creonline.com. I’ve gone to CreOnline for both contract and information purposes. I live online and use every resource to continue my learning.

 

You should consider, taking over payment of those whom have a mortgage that is assumable. In some cases the mortgage might be $3,000 a month. The owner is $9,000 behind, and you have less than $20,000 in fix up cost. The current home owner simply wants to get out of the deal. I have seen a person with this case in a $500,000 home. They simply wanted to give to the investor for $300,000. With the right coach and plan, this deal would be a slam dunk. I’ve seen people trade a bike a boat and a truck in for a car. You could do the exact same thing for a home, some home owners will accept other assets for their equity. If they can was away with something it is better than nothing. Some home owners will take a second for their equity if they can move on and out of the house. Again, as long as you are creative you can get many deals done.

 

Big picture, the Pre-foreclosure market is one where there is money to be made. If you have an exceptional coach, you learn all you can, and stay creative you will be successful. God Bless and good luck in the Pre-Foreclosure market.

Real Estate Buyer Beware: Note Buying Scams on the Rise

Loan House

Well-off people who sell their homes sometimes decide to hold the mortgage for the buyer. This means that instead of the buyer writing monthly checks to the mortgage company, they write them to the previous owner. This can a good way to add diversification to your investment portfolio if you don’t need the money right away and have a significant amount of assets. These people are now receiving an unusual number of calls from people who are offering to buyout their note for 70 to 90 cents on the dollar.

The note-buying business is actually a legitimate business; however the people making these calls are victims of the latest dare-to-be-rich scheme. These people get suckered into coming into some hotel ballroom or convention center type event, pay a substantial fee to come, and then hear about how they can get rich by buying owner-held mortgages at a discounted rate.

 

The idea is that many note-holders might be more willing to part with the mortgage they either need the money, or don’t think the mortgage is no longer a solid investment. The note-buyer comes in, purchases the mortgage, and collects the principal and interest and comes away with a significant gain.

 

The problem with the pitch is that the note-buying market is not big enough to support all of the people who are signing up for the program. There’s maybe a market big enough for a couple of hundred people in the entire country who really know their stuff and professionals in the business. There’s just not enough notes for everyone to buy, and the people who actually know what they’re doing and don’t just go to a class in a hotel ball-room will be the ones making the real money.

 

Many of the people who attend these dare-to-be-rich seminars are also not in a financial position to get into the note-buying business. Quite often they are using borrowed money to pay for the notes that they buy, which ads a significant amount of risk to their life. If one of the people that they have given a mortgage to suddenly decide to stop paying, they’re in real financial trouble. If you’re not worth at least a million dollars, chances are having one mortgage note worth $200,000 is not the right thing to do. That’s like investing $200,000 into a single stock. There’s just too much risk there for it to make any possible sense. Investors need to keep a diverse portfolio and not make investments that make up a majority of their net worth.

My Experiences with the Housing Market As a Buyer and a Real Estate Professional

RE

Is the housing market in the toilet? Yes it is, for some people and for others, there’s a rainbow at the end of the tunnel. You just have to be brave enough to walk the path.

I remember a time when a 3 bedroom, 2 baths Cape Cod sold in Union, NJ for $130,000. That was 10 years ago right before the market took off and homes values appreciated at a rate of 20% or more in some areas. What caused this unnatural appreciation? I attribute it to three things: Investors, Americans desire for immediate gratification, and the internet.

 

10 years ago, the economy was good; unemployment was low and people had money. Bill Clinton was in office and he was for all intents and purposes, he was a domestic president. Then came the widespread use of the internet, which change the way people communicated with each other and the way in which people accessed information. Ergo, people were reminded that real estate is probably the only investment that continues to be a smart investment, even in this depressed market.

 

Investors, who were sour after the dot come burst, found a new avenue to make good money quickly. They bought/built homes, fix them up or rented them, and in some cases they resold them quickly for huge profits. Life continued like this several years. And in the midst of all this buy, fix and build era, Americans were seduced by attractive and swift marketing. People began searching for properties online; in some cases, the Average Joe got it into their heads that if I follow these steps as outlined by real estate gurus like Carlton Sheets, I too can make money. Thousands of people made money this way and life was good.

 

Banks had relaxed their lending practices to keep this good market going. They gave loans to people with questionable income and in some cases, they did not verify it. Banks provided loans with teaser rates, adjustable rates/and or interest only plans and they persuaded people to have confidence in the market. They were banking on the market continuing to appreciate. As the old adage goes, all good things must come to an end.

 

August 2005. 10 years after a housing boom. Gas Prices go up and the market started too swift. Properties were taking longer to sell. Sellers had to reluctantly start to reduce their prices so that they could move on with their lives. Investors got nervous and bought less property. First time home buyers saw interests rate creep up a bit and since the prices of properties were not coming down, they were priced out of the market. The market was at a bit of a stand off.

 

August 2007, Sellers realized that they had to make an adjustment; they reduced their prices and started making home buying affordable again.

 

So who are the people who are in trouble? Its people who

Were/are victims of predatory lending: they were given a teaser rates and/ARM’s that they could not afford when the rates adjusted. Its only predatory if the bank representative/mortgage broker did not explain the loan. Although one could make the argument that it’s the buyer’s responsibility to read the fine print.    Applied for sub prime loans i.e. 100% financing and had high debt to income ratios to begin with and did not calculate taxes, PMI or the cost of living into their housing expenses.    Purchases interests only products within the past 3-5 years and banked on the market appreciating. They might not be able to sell their home for much more than what they paid for it.    Experience/Inexperience investors with vacant properties and no buyers/renters in the market.    People who used their homes like cash register and took out 2 or 3rd mortgages.    Lenders who are holding on to these questionable mortgages and defaulting borrowers. They may now have to play Let’s Make a Deal.

Who are the winners in this type of market?

Sellers who have owned their homes for at least 10 years assuming they have not already taken the equity out of their homes.    Buyers with good to decent credit (620 plus). The house that the neighbor bought for $400,000 might cost a new buyer $379,000 for a home of similar makeup and style.    Banks because people will continue to buy; banks will just have to be more weary of who they lend money to.

The next couple of years may not be the golden years of real estate, but the invisible hand will correct matters and maybe in another 12 years, we might encounter the same cycle. Hopefully, everyone will remember these years and not make the same mistake.