Archive for October, 2013

Building a Better Blog

“I’m writing a book. I’ve got the page numbers done.” ~ Steven Wright

Last month, if you’ll remember, I talked about starting a blog. I began with a reality check, which I’ll repeat here: Blogging can be a great marketing tool, but it takes a lot of work to keep one up. And don’t expect riches!

I gave you four other tips as well: make sure you have something to say, know your goals, identify your audience, and read other blogs. Those tips are just as important when you sit down to write individual posts, too.

Remember my second cousin Flora, the cat lady? I told you about her last month. She has a blog called “Cats.” I’m afraid it’s not very good. The background is hot pink, the text is yellow, and there’s a hamster dancing around in the corner. As soon as you enter the site, you hear the song for the Chicken Dance. I’m pretty sure she has posted every single picture she’s ever taken of her 34 cats, including the pictures that are blurry and underexposed. Plus, she adds lots of kitty pictures off the web. Oh, and a recipe for Flora’s Skinny Butterscotch Potatoes. And that was just yesterday.

Thank goodness she only posts about three times a year!

So let’s start with content. What makes a good blog post? Well, if you’re a beginner, it should probably be short and cover just one topic. I don’t know about you, but when I open a blog and I see a wall of words, my eyes kind of glaze over. I’m a lot more likely to read a post that’s just a paragraph or two. But it’s got to be interesting. Pictures are nice, too, but watch for copyright issues. You should also include Internet links to your sources if you can.

And for heaven’s sake, don’t try to sound like a writer. Flowery will get you nowhere. The best writers are the ones where you don’t notice that they’re writing.

Now, it’s all well and good to blog. It’s a lot more fun if you can actually get people to read it. There are a few ways to do that. First and foremost is the content and design. It does you no good to get people to your blog if there’s nothing worth looking at. So make sure the design is clean, attractive, and the site loads quickly – and make sure you’ve done your best on the content.

Another tip: Think carefully when you name your blog. The name should be unique and interesting. Here’s a little homework assignment: Google “real estate blog.” Which blogs are you most interested in visiting? Which ones sound like all the others?

When you’re learning about Internet marketing, you’ll hear a lot of talk about keywords and search terms. Some blog platforms will let you identify keywords or tags – common words someone might use for an Internet search – to help bring in visitors. For professional sites, search words are important, and you’ll want to title each post with that in mind. However, given the choice between a good search term and good writing, good writing should win every time.

Here are some other ways to get your blog noticed: visit other blogs and comment on their posts, with a link to your blog. Add your blog address to your business cards and marketing materials. Join a network of blogs, and find out how to win blogging awards. Develop relationships with other bloggers. Invite a well-known blogger to write a guest post for you.

Once you’ve got your blog up and running and you’re getting some traffic, you’ll want to grow your readership. This will probably happen slowly over time. The three most important factors here are the quality of the content, how often you post, and how easy you are to visit.

Post as often as you can, and make it high quality. It’s no fun to visit a blog that never changes. Many successful blogs post several times a day. You don’t have to do that, but you should at least blog once a week, even if it’s just a paragraph.

Another way to build readership is to make sure you’re set up for RSS. RSS stands for “Really Simple Syndication.” If you have an RSS link on your blog, people can subscribe to it. They’ll get a notice every time you post, and you’ll get the pleasure of watching the number of visitors rise.

Clean. Well-written. Frequent. Easily accessible. Those are just a few keys to successful blogging. Past that, just have fun. If you enjoy what you’re doing, your enthusiasm will be contagious!

Don DeRosaDon DeRosa is recognized as one of the nation’s top 21 real estate investors in the New York Times bestseller “The Millionaire Real Estate Investor”. Don, who is a full-time investor, trainer, and mentor, is the first to offer his complete investing system on a mobile platform. Don teaches investors how to Make More and Work Less by being more efficient, productive and competitive, leveraging mobile technology and apps on the iPad, iPhone, Android and other mobile devices.

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The Right Title Company

When discussing investment real estate everyone focuses on finding deals, locating financing, remodeling, selling, etc. Few people speak about the importance of a title company. Not only do you need a title company that closes real estate transactions but that closes investment real estate transactions. Most people believe that any title company will close any transaction but that is not true. Title companies will usually only close transactions that they are comfortable insuring. They are also able to only close transactions that their underwriters will approve.

Opening escrow at the wrong title company can cost you a deal. When interviewing a title company you want to know if they close investment real estate transactions. Also, make sure they will close an assignment contract, double assignment contract, a double close, a wrap, a subject –to, etc. Surprisingly, title companies that do not deal with real estate investment type transactions may not be aware of what some of these are or how to close them. All the transactions mentioned here are fairly similar with settle differences that can allow one title company to close and another title company to not close. Of course, you have to do your part and make sure the contracts are in order. 

Closing an assignment consists of a home owner contracting a property with a “buyer” who then assigns his/her contract to the same property to the actual buyer for a fee. When you assign a property, the seller is aware you may assign it because it must be in the contract giving you permission to do so. However, they are not aware of the fee you are charging the actual buyer for the assignment of the contract. If the assignment fee is high, there may be issues at closing if the seller sees the amount that could have been theirs. To avoid this issue, you can request the title company prepare a split HUD. A split HUD shows the seller’s and borrower’s/buyer’s their respective costs/profits. In other words, the seller sees what he/she is taking away from the transaction but does not reveal the first “buyer’s” profit. Some title companies will only use the traditional HUD you see on most transactions. As you can see there are a few moving parts. Now add another assignment to the original assignment and most title companies will not close.

How about a double close? Most title companies will say no immediately but that is because they still think it is illegal. Yes, title companies will actual say it is illegal while the title companies down the street closes them religiously. To be clear, a double close is when a property is sold from A to B and B then turns around and sells it to C. Keep in mind that B must fund and close the first transaction before selling to C. In some counties the deed is recorded electronically and a recorded deed can be provided as proof that the A to B closing has taken place. Other counties or states like, Georgia, do not record deeds electronically. The county still waits to receive the signed deeds from the closing to record it. This can take days or weeks.  As an investor you do not want your funds in limbo for that amount of time. Title companies in these counties may allow the B to C closing with a copy of the A to B HUD and signed but not recorded deed. Make sure you know your title company’s procedures before closing a double close. Imagine doing a double close with transactional funding only to discover your profit is going to be eaten up by financing fees.

Now a wrap and a subject-to is another story. These closings may or may not qualify to close with an owner’s title policy, depending on how you structure the deal. In addition, these transactions require plenty of disclosures. Make sure the title company/attorney you go with has the proper documents to protect you and the seller.

In the end, you may have done everything correct but having the wrong title company can ruin even the simplest of transactions. When you find the companies that provide everything you need to close your transaction, you now need to judge their execution and customer service. Keep in mind that the title company will be dealing with your clients and you want to know that they are in great hands. The right title company will make the transaction smooth and easy which will make you look great and the buyers and sellers will be knocking on your door. 

Michael VazquezMichael Vazquez has been offering properties to real estate investors significantly below market value since 2006 in both Texas and Georgia. Michael taken on projects starting with just 4 brick walls (literally) to managing his own rental portfolio. When it comes to investing in real estate he has done much more than many twice his age. Michael is always looking for more investors to work with.

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