The Benefits of Having an Energy Star Certified House

For two decades, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is pushing energy-efficiency in homes. From this, the Energy Star in new homes was conceptualized. It aims to prevent pollution of the air while at the same time giving homes the much-needed adjustments towards energy efficiency.

For home buyers who are on the hunt for their dream homes, it is very important to look for Energy Star compliant homes. While the prices may be higher than homes established right before its implementation, buyers are guaranteed to save along the way from the prices slashed on energy costs.

And because going green is an in thing, those who invest in Energy Star homes are also assured of profits when they choose to sell them.

New construction homes are also required to follow new building codes. These requirements are also in line with the energy-efficiency methods prescribed by EPA.

How about appliances that you’ll be putting in your new homes?

You don’t have to worry too. Appliances manufacturers are also following Energy Star prescriptions. Thus, when shopping for TV, refrigerator, aircon, or any other home appliance you want to add in your new home, just look for the Energy Star sign. With this, you are assured that they are more energy-efficient than same appliances without such compliance tags.

Any other benefits, aside from less operating costs on monthly basis?

New construction homes that comply with Energy Star have added benefits. Given that the design is geared to cut energy costs, you can be assured that during warm months, the windows can give entry to natural and cool air. During cold months, the added insulation can provide heat and in fact trap the warm air circulating inside the house.

Another benefit that comes with Energy Star homes is the improved air quality inside the house. The ducts are made sure to be tightly sealed. They prevent air pollutants and even pests from finding their ways into the house. An improved indoor air quality is beneficial to the health – especially to those who have respiratory conditions.

If you are indeed a first time home buyer and you need the help of mortgage lenders, choosing Energy Star homes is quite a good choice. Many lenders are favoring these homes and within your locality, you might just be able to score one with lower origination fees.

The Perfect Disaster

Why trying to be perfect is a great way to fail – and how to avoid it.

The best is the enemy of success! What I mean by this is so many of us are so focused on the best that we take very little action towards our success. We are focused on the best place to eat, the best time to work out, the best way to lose weight, or the best way to make some extra money. We are focused so much on the best that we think too much about what we should or could be doing.

Focusing on a process toward success will prevent failure and accelerate your results. Take Travis in our office for example. He loves the gym and wants to get bigger and stronger. He can focus on the perfect diet, the best supplements, the best workouts, and the best technique. Or, he can eat healthy and get under the bar. The reps give him experience and strength. The results provide the momentum, and he finds himself spending more time in the gym and focusing more on diet and supplements. Now he has trouble fitting into his shirts. It all started with reps.

Dating is another good example. Typically, we need to kiss a few frogs to find our prince or princess. It does not come easy, but as we work through it, we start to learn what a good match looks like. We should start to get more confidence and our decisions become faster and better. Eventually, we hope, we find someone we are compatible with and live happily ever after.

Business or investing is no different. Obviously, we want to strive for quality, but quality will come with some thought-out quantity. Takes sales for example. If we just pick up the phone and start making calls, we will get better and better on the phone and will start closing more deals. The practice on the phone will produce better results than spending time finding the best phone script or the best people to call. With investing, we start taking steps to our goals. Maybe that is interviewing agents or sending out mail to motivated sellers. As we see results, we can adjust and improve. The fact that we are taking action, organically gets us closer to perfection.

So how do we avoid the perfection trap?

Goals are so incredibly powerful. A goal should be a tremendous help, but it can also hurt you. For new investors I love the idea of setting action-oriented goals. What I mean by this is to not focus on results, at least to start, and only focus on the small actions that should lead to results. As you hit your goals, you gain confidence and momentum. Let me give you an example. If you want to make $30,000 a month, you might start with how many deals you need to do to hit that goal. If you are a fix and flipper, it might be one deal. Then focus on how many offers you need to make to get one deal. Because we are in a tough market, we know that it might be 60 or more. Obviously, this is a bit of a guess until you can track it, but let’s start with 60 for this example. A great goal to help get you started would be to make 60 offers this month based on your buying criteria. The criteria being deals that should net $30,000. Focus on the fact that the goal is the number of offers, not the number of deals or the amount of money you want to make. That way, even if you don’t get a deal, you can, and should, celebrate the fact that you accomplished your goal. If you consistently hit action-oriented goals, you will see tremendous results.

I recently read a story about a college art professor that split his class in half at the beginning of the year to do a study on actions and results. One group was the quality group and one was the quantity group. The quantity group would be graded on the number of photographs turned in by the student. The quality group, as you can probably guess, was graded on only one photo for its quality. Guess which group turned in the best photos? The quantity group had more high-quality photos turned in because they were out practicing their skills trying to hit a quantity goal. Because they were not trying to take the one perfect photo, they ended up taking more action and better photos.

Disney in another great example. In the 80s the company had 3 CEOs and was not profitable. Then CEO, Michael Eisner, changed the way the company thought about the movie business. Instead of producing perfect movies, they went for quantity. In the late 80s and through the 90s they more than doubled the number of movies they were producing. They spent less time, money and energy on any one movie. The result? Blockbuster smash hits like; Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, and Lion King.

Choosing the Best Green Home Builder

Today many people are “going green”, which means that they are becoming environmentally friendly in how they live their lives and minimizing the harm done to the earth. When some people decide to build their home from the bottom up, they decide to have a green home builder build their home. This contractor would build their home with low environmental and energy efficiency in mind. To find a green home builder you should talk to the contractors in your area. Some that will travel to your area to build your home but their services will add more expense to the cost of your home.

To ensure that you will have the best green home builder ask them what type of building material they will use. You should also inquire about their disposal methods to make sure they are in compliant with sustainability practices. The materials that they should use are non-toxic when possible, and environmentally friendly. They should also be materials that come from renewable sources, or sustainable material. This can include materials from homes that have been knocked down. This material can include old doors, cabinets, some of the wood to accent the home such as using the material for ceiling beams, and more. They should try to avoid using plastics and choose their wood carefully. You should ask to see examples of the green projects they have completed. Their construction philosophy should focus on green building. It should not just focus on using green techniques as a secondary technique. Make sure that the contract you sign states that it will be constructed from sustainable and green material.

A home builder may tell you that they are using green building techniques but it could be easy for them to start using less environmentally friendly techniques and designs to save money on materials so they can put more money in their pockets. This is why you need to be sure that they are a reputable home builder and have good references as a green construction company. They need to be knowledgeable about green techniques and processes and committed to green construction and design. If you want your new green custom built home to be built using unconventional techniques make sure the home builder can demonstrate they understand the techniques you want and can do them correctly.

Before you choose a green home builder, you should educate yourself on what constitutes a green home and the process to build one. This will help you to determine a good green home builder and to know if they are cutting corners using non-environmentally friendly material. Having a green home can save you money on heating and cooling costs, and if sustainable material is used it can save these materials from being disposed of improperly.

FINANCIAL DEFENSE The True Path to Wealth

“Congratulations! You play fantastic offense” This was said sarcastically by Thomas J Stanley in his famous book, The Millionaire Next Door. I have not read or listened to this book in more than eight years, but I still remember this phrase. That one, and the millionaire saying, “I drink two types or beer. Budweiser and Free.”

The message in his book is that you need to watch your spending with more tenacity than to increase your income. Obviously, it is a combination of income and spending that creates wealth, but controlled spending is far more important. As long as you spend less than your income, you will be moving forward, and consistent progress will make you rich! The problem I often see is that people spend what they make, or worse, spend more than they make. In either of these scenarios, you are at best staying even, but most likely going backwards. Many want to be investors and entrepreneurs, drink the get rich Kool-Aid and focus all their energy on increasing income. That is what sells coaching programs, mentor-ships and advertising on TV shows. With energy and focus comes success, so many of these entrepreneurs and investors see results. And with the positive results of higher earnings comes… higher spending!

I am fortunate enough to live in a great neighborhood. Most people in the neighborhood are high income earners, but several of them live above their means. It is not uncommon for me to see neighbors move out of the area because they can no longer afford to stay. They are the same ones with the new cars and the extravagant parties. It is a look at me attitude and peers feed on the pressure to keep up. This creates a little spiral of friends living outside their means. But hey, at least they are all moving backwards together.

The ones that live below their means feel pressure to spend or get left behind. And on the surface, many of them do. One challenge about living below your means is it takes years before you realize the benefit. During those years it seems as though you are missing out. I see it so clearly and understand the pressure, but I also see a high percentage of our aging population that should be retired, working their asses off. They are stressed and busy and churning to get by.

If you have not yet, you owe it to yourself to read The Millionaire Next Door. This book really sank in for me on the power of financial defense. Of limiting spending and protecting your earnings. I am able to live in my neighborhood, provide for my family, enjoy my time away from the office, and many other benefits because of the control I had with spending as my income was increasing. As you invest earnings for income, instead of spending it, you will witness exponential growth of income.

If I recall correctly, the quote from the book “Congratulations! You play fantastic offense” was referring to a broke high earner. He made more than his peers but would miss a mortgage payment if his income stopped. That is not a comfortable life, yet he was proud of it. If I could help one piece of financial advice sink in, it would be to focus on defense before offense.

Travis and I both recently read the book, Set for Life, by Scott Trench. This is another fantastic book focusing on the correct way to build wealth and retire early. It is a simple formula. Spend less than you make and invest the difference.

Transaction of Property Through a Real Estate Company

When it comes to transaction of property, even the wisest, boldest, smartest and the ‘know it all’ becomes nervous. After all you wish to make either a great investment or a profitable sale. Property matters are always stressing. Yes, they do cost your peace of mind. The process of selling and buying of property is complex as well as tiring. There are subtle fears and doubts’ regarding everything till the deal is not done. When selling a property your ultimate goal is to complete the sale at a profitable price and hand over your property in the right hands. When buying a property you aim to get a property which satisfies your needs at an affordable and right price. But how to do that?

The long and tiring process

Lets us first talk about how to sell your property yourself. The first obvious step is to know the market value of your property and then set a price which is convenient to you. The next move is to get a buyer. But, how? Put hoardings, pamphlets and banners to advertise your property and tell people it is for sale. Inform your acquaintances that you wish to sell your property as they might get you buyers in their contact. Buyers will approach you when they get to know that your property is for sale. They will check your property and if they are impressed by your offer they will buy your land/ house. Then comes the paperwork which concludes the deal. When buying a home, you need to collect info about properties for sale either from advertisement on different platforms or from friends and family. Visit the property and check it in the next step. Then comes the negotiation for price with the seller and the purchase concludes with paperwork.

Why you need an agent?

Well! All this might sound easy, but it is not buyers have to wait for the type of property they want for long. Sellers too have to wait as long as 6 months on average to find the right customer. Even the legal work required in papers makes it mandatory for you to visit Law attorneys dealing with property matters, making the process all the more cumbersome. It is exactly here real estate companies and agents come to your aid.

Perks of contacting a Real Estate Company

Many a times you need to buy/ sell homes in a hurry. Like if you have got transferred to a new place you would like to sell your previous home quickly and buy a new one as soon as possible. As already mentioned the process of transaction of property is complex and time taking. But this tiring burden can be reduced to a great extent when you contact and associate with a real estate company or agent. They have all information about which house is for sale at what price and who are people looking for a house in what location and at what price. So you see the first work of finding and waiting for customers when you wish to sell your property is eliminated. When looking to purchase a house you don’t need to hunt anymore. Your property agent will let you know. Not only they end the hunt, but also assist you with legal paperwork relating to the deal.

Consider Resale Value Before You Renovate

When doing renovations, people rarely think about long-term resale value. Most families just want a really nice place to live and they work to create their forever home. However, life can be unpredictable. So while it is joyful to make a dream home, those dreams need to be balanced with an understanding of whether or not those granite countertops or that second story are good investments in the long run.

What is resale value?

We hear the idea of resale value quite often pertaining to real estate. The ideal is to buy a property that is a good investment and to have its value appreciate. Good maintenance and appropriate renovations help ensure that when it comes time to sell again, the property has gained equity and you’ll make money.

However, the amount of money you’ll make depends on market appreciation. Which is why it’s important to make improvements that fit the property and the neighborhood.

Location the key factor to consider

If you’ve bought a property by a highway or another not-so-great location, you probably got it for a good price. If that location’s value doesn’t increase during the time you own it, you’ll probably have to sell it for a similarly good price, even if you’ve done a lot of work on it.

Many property owners invest in renovations that aren’t in keeping with the neighbourhood. As a result, they end up selling for less than they invested, which can be heartbreaking.

Before you renovate, look at what has been selling around you – at what cost for what quality? If the most expensive home in your neighborhood sold for $400,000 after being completely renovated, it doesn’t make sense to style your house to a value any higher.

And really, how special are those $10-per-square-foot tiles anyway? Go with the $5 tiles instead.

Focus your investment to one or two elements per room. Make pricey items such as granite countertops, a fancy backsplash, or a higher end faucet; work like show pieces, similar to a piece of art.

Smallest may be best when it comes to resale
As for adding a second story to create more space for an expanding family, it may be worth it in the long run to hunt for a bigger home.

If you invest an extra $100,000 on a two-bedroom bungalow in a neighborhood full of two-bedroom bungalows, you may never recover that full investment. It may be a much better idea to take your equity and find a larger home in a neighborhood where your investment will hold and even grow in time.

When it comes to resale value, it’s always better to have the smallest house in an area with mansions rather than a $600K house surrounded by $300K houses.

Of course, creating a joyful home should always be the first priority. Just make wise decisions that will bring you prosperity and happiness for years to come.

Drive for Show, Putt for Dough

Last week I shot a 97. That was my best round yet. I started golfing about 3 years ago, and I am enjoying the challenge. I first took lessons to learn how to hold the club and make contact with the ball, which was surprisingly difficult. I remember that accidentally breaking a club in half was the highlight of my first lesson. Yes, I was swinging hard. I was trying to show off and hit the ball farther than a friend. That was embarrassing. Travis took me to one of his favorite courses for my first 18-hole round. Once again, I thought I had to hit the ball far, so I swung hard. The ball sailed… right into a house.

It was not too long before I started consistently hitting the ball, so I recently took lessons to see if I could hit straight. I had hopes to score under 100 this year, so it was satisfying to reach that goal last week. The instructor in my recent lesson told me over and over to control my club speed and practice my short game. Keeping the ball in play by focusing on hitting it straight, instead of far, and getting better at putting, would shave several strokes off my game. “It won’t look as good as the big drive,” he explained, “but it will win you the round.” This is why they say, “drive for show and putt for dough.” A far drive looks great, but your money is made with consistency in the short game.

The same idea is true in baseball. The most valuable baseball players have high batting averages and get on base regularly. They are not swinging for a home-run every time they go to the plate. Home-runs are exciting and rewarding and fans love them, but at what expense? Big home run hitters also have high strike out rates. Focusing on just making contact with the ball to get on base helps to avoid an out, while moving runners around the diamond. This is how the best teams win games. Singles win games.

This is also true in real estate. I have one client in mind that is always swinging for a home-run. He is a great guy! He has a big heart and is a lot of fun to be around. He is also a fantastic builder and rehabber. The problem I have seen though is that he is passing on singles, so he can swing for the big one. He wants to make six figures on everyone flip, or more by doing new construction projects. He keeps waiting for the perfect deal, or he gets into trouble doing deals that are too big for him. Either way, he is not helping his cause. There seems to be a simple fix looking at it from the outside, but he has the mindset that he needs to hit it big. A short drive down the fairway or a simple base hit is not exciting enough for this experienced real estate investor.

I have another client that is only looking for base hits or the easy chip out of the trees. He is doing deals for profits in the $15,000 to $20,000 range in Denver. Some would say that is too thin, but he is doing three or four a month!! And he recently got lucky and is going to make over $100,000 on a single flip in Denver. He understands that luck behind it and is happy, but he is not setting his mind on those big pay days.

The annual income difference between these two highly capable investors is over a half a million dollars.

Even the best investors that I know work towards a simple shot off the tee. They want the easy and safe base hit over and over. Some of them have increased what they consider a base hit, but they all started small. It is a process to work up to, but no successful investor that I know is always trying to hit the home-run or the long drive over an obstacle. They take those when they present themselves but are on the hunt for the straight shot down the middle; which is why I would suggest keeping your real estate business simple and grow with it over time. Don’t do a bad deal but don’t pass on a good one. Our office is more than happy to have a conversation with you about your real estate plan or a specific deal to help guide you to success. Consistency is key. Whenever I swing my club hard looking for the big drive, I come up short. The easy swing without the pressure produces great drives. Remember… four singles without losing your ass is better than swinging big and missing.

Green Homes for Sale

If you were looking at real estate ads and saw one that stated “green homes for sale”, you may at first wonder why anyone would a listing stating the color of their home. This is not what this type of ad means. It is just stating that the homes for sale are earth friendly and energy efficient. Green homes for sale are being built in an effort to less the carbon footprints we leave behind.

When you purchase a green home they will contains all or some of the following features that are earth friendly.

• Fiber cement siding
• Alternative power system like wind and solar
• Recycled building insulation
• No VOC stains and paints, which stands for volatile organic compound. It is any compound that is carbon-based and will vaporize at standard room temperatures. Some of the more prevalent ones are formaldehyde, acetone, and methane.
• Solar powered hot water heating

Even if you do not live in a green home, there are things that you can do to increase your energy conservation. It will even help contribute to saving our environment. Making your home a green home can help to reduce global warning and save the homeowner money. It will significantly better the environment and require little effort for the homeowner.

Making a green home

• Instead of using the standard incandescent light bulbs start to use compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs). When you switch to the CFL’s you can save per year over a hundred dollars. You can find these lights in the same aisle as your regular bulbs but they are little more expensive. In the United States, if every house switches the type of light bulbs they were using to CFL’s there would be a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of one trillion pounds.
• Install a thermostat that is programmable-with this type of thermostat the homeowner can program the thermostat so that the air conditioner or heater is off when homeowners are not at home. The programmable thermostat can be programmed so that it will cool or heat your home shortly before the homeowner arrives home. This change could save the homeowner ten percent or more on cooling and heating costs
• Plug air leaks-this will help the homeowner save money and practice conservation. You can do this by installing weather stripping, keep the temperature in your home from rapidly fluctuating, and caulk windows correctly to stop air drafts.
• Energy Star® rated appliances-these reduce the amount of electricity that is needed to operate them so they have less of an impact on the environment. They will also save on your energy bill.

Garden Apartments

This residential apartment is located on landscaped property that is at ground level. This term loosely describes any apartment on the first floor. It also includes a basement apartment or one in a high rise. If it is a real garden apartment, there will be no household, or apartment, above it. They are spread out horizontally in an open courtyard. You can find these apartments worldwide.

Such an apartment will have one or two bedrooms but you can find some that have three or more bedrooms, especially if they are used as a vacation apartment. The more bedrooms there are the more people they can accommodate when on vacation and renting the apartment. If it is an apartment that is rented out long term it is generally not furnished. If the apartment is rented out on a weekly or monthly basis for vacations, it will be furnished. Garden apartments may also have one or two stories. The common area can include outdoor amenities like a swimming pool, tennis or basketball courts, a spa or clubhouse. The entrance to the apartment could be off the courtyard or the street.

The owners of the garden apartments are responsible for the outdoor area being kept up with the lawn mowed, any outdoor equipment cleaned, clean swimming pool without leaves and other debris, etc. Many owners will plant the area with well cared for trees and floors. If it is an apartment complex and you have a pet you need to find out if there is a special area for the dogs. Make sure that you clean up after your dog once it has finished its business. Your garden apartment may have a small yard or patio. If your garden apartment has either of these two amenities, it would be a good place to have friends and family over for a barbeque.

Each garden apartment is a separate household unit but all of the tenants share any amenities, such as a swimming pool or exercise room and the main outside grounds. The apartments have their own controls for the heat and air conditioning and bathroom and kitchen facilities. In some places, it may be called a walk-up garden apartment because it has an outdoor staircase. With garden apartment complexes that offer premium services like a weight and exercise room or sauna may be charged an extra monthly fee to help with the upkeep and have a key to let them into these facilities. By having a key, it prevents those that choose not to pay the extra fee from using these premium facilities. Some may even have a laundry room for the residents. The rent for a garden apartment would be much the same as a regular apartment but it depends on the location and amenities.

Five Keys to Real Estate Flipping Success

Make your fortune in real estate. It is not that hard once you get the hang of it. Real estate flipping can be an extremely high paying career, but I see way too many people give up on it. The turnover in this industry is exceptionally high. I noticed the high turnover early on and have watched to learn why some people kill it while others disappear. This has been important to monitor to help myself and my clients last in this amazing business.

I have been in the real estate field for the last 16 years and my hard money lending company finances around 150 deals a year. Here is what that experience has taught me about being a successful fix and flipper.

Mindset: This is where it all starts. For the last 3 years, I have felt myself fall into a little lull and have realized that this occurred because of my mindset. Your mindset could be a lot of things, but the basic concept is that what you believe will happen… does. Sometimes just convincing your mind that you will hit a goal takes work. Not to mention the work that it takes to actually hit that goal.

Focusing your mind on positivity is a great start, but you really need to believe you deserve the success you desire. Meditation and affirmations are fantastic ways to accomplish this.

Hustle: Nothing is going to be given to you. When I was going through my struggles to hit some financial goals, I had to keep reminding myself of this. Times can get hard and things can feel unfair, but the reality is, no matter how much you don’t want to believe it, you are the only one responsible for your success. I would tell myself this over and over. “If I want it, I need to earn it” I had to get up in the morning. I had to deal with the problem on my plate. I had to stay up late or work on the weekend. I had to put in the work to get the results. Because I decided to be successful, I decided to work hard.

Network: As we have learned. It is not what you know, it is who you know. I constantly try to team up with people smarter than me, that can both help me learn and help me get results. This has resulted in millions in profits. I also feel very lucky to have a network that can solve just about any problem I run into. If I am rehabbing a house and run into a problem, I have a list of people I can call for help. If they don’t know how to help they will know someone who does. I lean on my attorneys, my CPA, partners, wholesalers, and other professionals on a regular basis.

Education: To make my top five list you know I believe this is important in your success. Constant improvement is essential and the exciting thing about this, especially early in your career, is that growth is exponential. As you learn and implement ideas into your business, your business grows at a faster and faster pace. Obviously, for this to work you will need to learn AND implement. Many people learn all about investing and never invest. That comes down to the investor mindset. That’s why, I believe, you need all five of these essential keys to be a great fix and flipper. The good thing is this is possible for everyone, including you.

Access to Money: So, this one might be self-servicing because I am a lender, and this could fall within the Network category but let’s face it, if you don’t have money you don’t do deals. Money can come from many sources including cash you have in the bank, money you borrower from institutions, partners, private and hard money loans. Many times, you will need a combination of these sources to get a deal done or to maximize profits. This can all be learned as part of your education or you can choose to work with a professional that can advise you on the best way to navigate this complicated subject.