25
Feb

Time to Get Out of Real Estate

rt4Talk about exquisite timing.

Even today, a decade after the fact, the leveraged buyout of Equity Office Properties Trust remains one of the largest of all time: $36 billion for nearly 600 office buildings in New York, Washington D.C. and dozens of the nation’s largest cities.

But in late 2006, some wondered if the billionaire who sold the REIT was being a little rash. After all, the real estate boom was in full swing, and the S&P 500 was primed to hit new all-time highs. “Is he cashing out too early?” asked a Bloomberg headline when the deal was announced.

We all know the answer, of course.

Billionaire Sam Zell deftly sidestepped the coming real estate carnage. Then, with prices at generational lows a few years later, Zell bought hundreds of apartment complexes at dirt-cheap prices.

And today? Well, that’s the ominous part…

Once again, Zell is selling his real estate holdings. Last fall, he unloaded a quarter of his portfolio, buildings totaling about 23,000 rental apartments, to Starwood Capital Group for more than $5 billion.

Zell next sold off apartment buildings in South Florida and Denver, with complexes in Phoenix, Boston and other metro areas expected to be sold before the year is out.

“No one has ever accused me of not being a realist,” Zell told CNBC’s talking heads recently.

Reality Bites

Few things are more real than the threat of rising interest rates. Concerned about the Fed’s late-to-the-party threats and distorted capital markets drunk on years of zero-interest-rate policy, Zell is getting out while the getting is still good.

In the past few months, new-home sales hit their highest level in eight years. Pending home sales rose by the largest percentage gain in a decade.

Even home flipping is back in vogue again. RealtyTrac, measuring 2015 data, estimated a 75% increase in active home flippers – the highest since 2007.

Nationally, the average gross profit on a flipped home was $55,000 – the largest since 2006.

But for the realists like Zell, the widening cracks in the facade are plain to see.

For instance, apartment rent is starting to come down in New York and San Francisco – two of the hottest markets in the country. There is simply too much supply and not enough demand.

A few weeks ago, the head of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston warned about overheated speculation in the commercial real estate market. “We care about potentially inflated commercial real estate prices,” said the bank’s president, Eric Rosengren, “because they might risk a bout of financial instability.”

Translated from “Fedspeak,” Rosengren was saying: Get out now.

Even those ultra ultraluxury homes in the $100 million and up range aren’t selling. It’s a rarefied market, for sure, but The New York Times recently noted that a record 27 properties, each with a nine-figure price tag, are languishing unsold on the market. According to figures kept by Christie’s International Real Estate, 19 such homes were on the market in 2015 and 12 in 2014.

Late last year, I wrote about one of those massive palazzos here in Florida – the beachside $159 million, 60,000 square foot Le Palais Royal. It’s still for sale.

Perhaps the extra gold leaf they painted on the front security gate will help.

Beware the Peak

I can’t see Sam Zell taking up residence in Le Palais Royal. But then again, he sold his office properties in 2006, and watched the market crack wide open a year later. Now he’s unloading his real estate portfolio again, so, who knows?

If history repeats, Zell just might find his next great distressed real estate bargains in the palatial homes of the (once) superrich – dazzling jewels of the “new” gilded age now past its prime.

18
Feb

How to Assess Any Real Estate With the Approaches to Value

rt3The valuation steps applied to create a supported conclusion of a defined value based on an analysis of applicable general and specific data. Assessment in creating an opinion of real estate value follows specific sets of processes that reflect 3 different methods. These include:

– Cost Method
– Direct Comparison Method
– Income Approach Method

One or more of these methods can be used in the assessment of real estate valuation. The methods to be used will rely almost entirely on the type of property being assessed or appraised; however may also factor in the use of the appraisal, the scope of work involved, and the data availability for the analysis.

Cost Method

The cost approach to assessment and appraisal is established by understanding the construction methodologies and property attributes related to cost. The cost approach is estimated by adding the cost of land to the current cost of construction related to all improvement on land, and subtracting depreciation in all improvements on the land. The construction costs of buildings would include a reproduction cost or a replacement cost of the same or similar like materials or systems. This approach works best when it used for the assessment of new or newer properties that are not frequently exchanged in the market. The actual costs are usually derived from cost estimator software, cost manuals, builders, and contractors. Note: The land would remain a separate value when using the cost approach.

Direct Comparison Approach

The direct comparison method to assessment of real estate is most useful when there is a large number of similar like properties that have recently transacted on the market or are currently listed on the market. Using this method, the assessment would come from identifying the subject with similar properties, called comparables (or comps). The sale prices that most identify with the subject would have a heavier weight on the value, oppose to one that is further from the subject characteristics. Most of the time the comparables would create a range of value, upon which; opinion must be used to find an exact value. Several elements or factors are used to qualify the degree of similarity between comparables and the subject. This would include: real property rights, financial terms, property conditions of the sale, post sale expenditures, location, market factors, physical characteristics, economic characteristics, use/zoning, non-real estate components of sale (chattels, fixtures). After the best comparables are set, a dollar figure or percentage is applied to the sale price of each property to estimate the hypothetical value of the subject. For instance comparable A has 1 more bathroom than the subject; therefore subtract $9000 from the comparable to hypothetically get the sale to reflect the same characteristic as the subject.

Income Approach

The income method to the assessment of real estate would be from an analysis of present value of the future benefits of property ownership. A property’s income and resale worth upon return may be capitalized into a current, lump-sum amount. There are two methods of the income approach; one is direct capitalization and the other yield capitalization. Direct capitalization is the relation between one year’s income and worth indicated by either a capitalization rate or an income multiplier.

12
Feb

Residential Log Cabins Offer Great Summer Fun

rt2Residential log cabins have become extremely popular lately. It seems that simplicity is making a comeback in an age of interconnected clutter. But what is it about residential log cabins that attracts so many people? For the majority of us, these cabins offer a vista into the world of minimalism. For any summer traveller looking to get away from it all, this is a perfect world to enter.

Enjoy nature inside and out

Whether it’s fishing, hunting, hiking or just enjoying the warm summer air, a residential log cabin will be where you want to go. It offers a pleasant retreat from the day’s activities, and when evening comes, you’ll love the wooden atmosphere as you settle in for the night. The natural interior makes you feel at home in a world where so much of living is manufactured. You have the perfect place to find peace from the constant noise and movement of modern day life. You can enjoy your world at a slower pace and make sure that you don’t miss a thing.

Summertime is, for most, the only chance we get to break outside of the workplace and drop into nature. Residential log cabins are the perfect place to spend long summer nights with those you love. They offer small, quaint style at an affordable rate, and they bring traditional class with a modern flare that you can customize. Most people love the rustic façade, but who’s to say the interior should follow suit? In a residential log cabin, you can feel free to add your personal touch and fulfil your wildest interior design dreams. Just peruse Pinterest for five minutes, and you’ll be swamped with brilliant décor ideas.

Holidays are better with a residential log cabin

Residential log cabins can make for a great destination holiday with cabins strewn all across Europe. But for those who might already own a good plot of land, building your own cabin won’t take too much trouble, either. Of course, if you aren’t up to the task of chopping your own logs, there are plenty of contracting companies who will survey your plot and build you your dream residential log cabin very quickly and at a fraction of the cost of a traditional brick and mortar house.

Do you have a tight holiday budget? Residential log cabins can be rented or bought, but neither option is going to break the bank. Unlike lavish country summer homes, residential log cabins offer just enough space for what you really need. Most cabins register in the range of 6m by 11m, though you can certainly find options larger or smaller in order to accommodate your needs. Residential log cabins are either fixed or mobile, but even the mobile models can fit four bedrooms, an en-suite, a lounge, a kitchen, and a dining room. More economical living quarters means more time together as friends and family and less time spent paying energy bills or cleaning the empty spare bedroom.

Making the right choice

With the demand for residential log cabins so high, the hard part is choosing what you want yours to look like. You can definitely opt for the traditional A-frame style, or you can take a modern twist and find something that is a little more elegant, striking, or charming. Some designs allow for plenty of natural light, allowing you to bask in the sunshine (which is the reason you took a summer holiday in the first place, right?), and others bring out the sights and sounds of the woods, making you feel as if you’re in the middle of a thicket.

Unlike the draughty old wooden homes of yesteryear, modern residential log cabins are built with your comfort in mind. Though the classic single-layer wooden wall is still available, those who want to live year-round in their cabins have the option to build them with a dual-layer wall, or “twin skin,” with up to 50mm of insulation between two wooden walls. This ensures a healthy, comfortable temperature no matter what the weather is like outside. And speaking of weather, Mother Nature can’t harm a well-built cabin as much as a traditional concrete structure. Residential log cabins are sustainable and durable through heat, snow or rain. Some traditionally built cabins have been standing for over 300 years. Talk about reliability!

Residential log cabins also require a fairly low amount of maintenance, which means that they will not demand too much of your time. You’ll be able to relax more often than you will have to work to keep your house in good shape. The natural strength of the wood protects it from the common elements far better than brick or concrete homes. Most residential log cabins call for limited preparatory maintenance just before winter, but beyond that, nature will not distract you from what you want to do most.

People who have the pleasure of owning and living in log cabins have described them as inviting and warming. Others have said that hey evoke peacefulness. For some it’s the smell of fresh perked coffee and baked bread that comes to mind whenever they’re inside. The other most appreciated feature is the ability to incorporate a truly personal decoration style ranging from very rustic to modern/contemporary. As for visitors who get to spend some time with their friends living in the woods, they compare it to paradise, and the proud owners agree as they could not imagine living anywhere else.

So many people love their residential log cabins, yet despite all the praise they get, these cabins seem to be one of the best kept secrets of summer fun. If you haven’t given much thought to the idea before today, now is the time to seize the opportunity and find yourself a summer residential log cabin. You never really know what it’s like to live, sleep, and dine in a cabin until you’ve experienced it first hand, and once you enjoy a few nights away from it all, you’ll have a tough time going back to reality.

3
Feb

Truck Door Magnetic Signs Why Would You Use Them

rt1You have probably seen truck door magnetic signs on real estate sign websites and used by other industries but you are wondering why in the heck you should use one. You have a nice vehicle and you don’t want to risk the magnet damaging it, you think it looks cheesy, or any number of other concerns about using them. Truck door magnetic signs though can play a big role in boosting your business.

Does It Look Cheesy?
Before we get down into the benefits of using truck door magnetic signs there is one question that needs to be answered: does it look cheesy? The answer to this question is relatively simple, not if you plan it right.

If you have ever seen a magnetic sign on a truck that looks cheesy it is probably because the sign was white while the truck was another color or some other obvious design flaw. When you order door magnetic signs that are made by professionals you will send them the color of your truck or car so that the sign will match your car. That way the sign looks a lot more natural on your car and you avoid looking cheesy.

Increasing Recognition
The major benefit of having truck door magnetic signs is that they increase the recognition of you and your vehicle. Current customers and new customers alike will be able to recognize your vehicle when you pull up to a location to meet them. This can be very helpful to shy or nervous customers who are standing by and waiting for someone that they haven’t meant before to arrive. They will immediately be able to identify you and rest easy.

Additional Advertising
There are always times when it is hard to sell a house whether it is because of the house itself, competition, a recession, or any other complication. Having additional advertising always helps when you hit times when it is hard to sell a house. It also helps any time. A truck door magnetic sign acts as additional advertising whenever it is on the door.

People will notice the signage on your truck or car door when it is parked or when you are driving. They will see it and if they are looking to buy or sell they might just write down your information. Parking your vehicle outside of a property during an open house will also provide visitors with additional signage and advertising and help encourage people to come in to see your listing.

What Should Be On It?
While there is no force standard for creating truck door magnetic signs there are some formatting and content tips that you can follow to make the most out of your space.

Your signage should include your name and contact information in a relatively easy to read font and size. The most notable of your contact information should be your phone number because it is the easiest thing for people to write down or remember. Then include your email address and/or web page in a smaller font.

Your truck door signage should be reminiscent of your agency’s real estate signs, that way they can be easily recognizable and they inspire that same brand recognition that your real estate sign does. Many companies have templates available for the major real estate companies.

No Damage
No one wants to damage their vehicles whether they are brand new or ten years old. When you use truck door magnetic signs you don’t need to worry about damaging them. As long as you keep the area under the signage clean with a rag or towel every time you apply it you won’t cause any damage to the vehicle. The signage can also be removed and reused as many times as you want, a magnet doesn’t go bad.