Menu

All Posts by Carole Ellis

About the Author

Carole Ellis is the host of Real Estate Investing Today, a popular 9-minute daily podcast focused on educating real estate investors about the important topics that will make their investing SAFER, FASTER, and MORE PROFITABLE. She's also the editor of the Bryan Ellis Investing Letter. She has more than a decade's worth of experience in and reporting on the real estate industry and, additionally, has written dozens of courses on the topic. Carole lives in Kennesaw with her husband, Bryan, and four children. She believes wholeheartedly that your best investment is always your OWN education.

Jun 30

Where ONE WALL FEATURE can CUT A MONTH off your time on market | Episode 86

By Carole Ellis | REI Today Podcast

How would you like to know about a particular WALL FEATURE that, in certain markets, could knock more than a MONTH off your time on market? I’ve got all the details in today’s episode. I’m Carole Ellis. This is episode 86.

—-

So wouldn’t you want to know the one particular wall feature that in a certain market nearly ALWAYS knocks a little over a month off the time on market? I’ll tell you all about it, but first, I want to mention something that might leave you feeling a little let down. It has to do with the Better Business Bureau and, well, a certain guilty pleasure a LOT of real estate professionals enjoy. Get your mind out of the gutter! We’re talking about reality real estate television! According to the Better Business Bureau of St. Louis, reality television personalities are abusing their positions of authority, and the triple B wants to make sure you’re prepared. Find out exactly WHICH STAR got an F rating from that agency and how to make sure YOUR educational investment dollars are being respected by checking out this story right now in the News & Networking Section at www.rei.today. It’s not NEARLY as simple as you might think, and I’ll go ahead and tell you there’s a “surprise ending” of sorts…

Now, back to knocking a month off time on market. So where were we? Oh, that’s right, we’re somewhere that a WALL FEATURE is worth 36 days (that’s a whole mortgage payment saved, folks) on market. Here’s the deal:

According to Zillow Digs, the online real estate listing and data giant’s design and home improvement division, when you put about 2.8 million residential real estate listings from January 2014 to March 2016 into the Zillow Digs analyzer and shake them all up, some trends emerge. And those trends can clearly, in some cases, be distinctly tied to higher home sales and shorter times on market. Sometimes, the trends are national, (you may remember when we talked about how a barn door installation in your home could snag you more than $13,000 extra at closing, and if you don’t, check out episode XX) but sometimes they’re local, and one particularly distinct trend has to do with something in NEW YORK CITY that makes a property in a hot city even hotter, raising the sales price, on average, 4.9 percent and saving owners with this snazzy little feature a full 36 days on market. Are you ready for it?

EXPOSED BRICK. If you have an exposed brick wall in your New York City condo or co-op, then you have a distinct edge when it comes to getting at or above asking price and to selling fast.

Now, you may be thinking, “Why on earth would 36 days matter in the Big Apple? Isn’t it basically a GIVEN that you’ll make money when you buy and sell in NYC? Well, not so much these days. Of course, New York City real estate is still in high demand, but sellers who bought in the last few years at peak values are starting to get a little worried as more and more buyers are opting to hurry up and WAIT to make a purchase in hopes that the market will soften and they’ll get a better deal. At present, New York City’s home values are still rising – median value is at present nearly $600,000 and analysts predict another 3 percent appreciation in the next 12 months, but that’s a dramatic slow-down from last year’s 9.1 percent appreciation.

Even if you don’t invest in New York, which is a pretty intimidating market, the exposed brick look is likely to spread if it’s popular in the trend-setting big apple. One high-end real estate agent noted that regardless of market, buyers with money are looking for quote “authenticity” in their homes, and that a feeling of “brand-new old,” which exposed brick can certainly provide, is in high demand across the board.

Want to know what other home features are particularly hot and in what markets? Don’t worry! I’ve got all that information – including one feature that can knock nearly TWO months off time on market and add more than 13 percent to your sales price – laid out for you in the REI Today Vault. Not yet a member? you can join right now by texting REITODAY no spaces no periods to 33444. When you do, I’ll provide you with fast, immediate access to the report as well as a lot of other timely, insightful, PRACTICAL information that will help make your investing safer, faster, and more profitable.

And folks, remember, when you join the Vault you join our community, which means you have the opportunity to network with me, my guests, and your fellow listeners across the country. So go ahead right now and text REITODAY no spaces no periods to 33444 or visit us online at www.rei.today/vault.

REI Nation, thanks for listening in and please always remember this:

Your best investment is your own education.

Jun 27

the $2,500 PITFALL LURKING underground on your investment property | Episode 85

By Carole Ellis | REI Today Podcast

Did you know that a $2,500 MISTAKE could very well be LURKING UNDERGROUND in your next investment property? I’ll tell you what it is and how to avoid it in today’s episode. I’m Carole Ellis. This is Episode 85.

So wouldn’t you want to know if you were about to make an investing mistake that could EASILY cost you $2,500 if all goes WELL while you’re trying to fix it? Good news! I’ll tell you all about it in today’s episode.

Before I do that, however, I want to talk about something that the kids are doing these days…Well, actually, 500 million people are doing it and if you’re not already, you probably should be too: Instagram! A lot of real estate professionals have steered clear of Instagram, at least in a professional sense, because it is generally considered to be “too young” or not really marketing-friendly because it focuses exclusively on uploaded pictures and videos. However, there are actually some well-documented ways other than just posting listing photos that real estate professionals are using Instagram to great effect, and REI Today is covering this topic on our website! Check it out in the News & Networking section at www.rei.today, it’s called “Why you need to SUCK IT UP and get on Instagram,” and it’s full of helpful advice from the experts.

Now for some more helpful advice from THIS expert: let’s talk about that $1,900 mistake, shall we?

Here’s the deal. According to a recent study from Curbed.com, there are actually 14 common mistakes that home buyers make during home inspections – and even worse, your inspector is pretty likely to make at least one of them as well. And if that mistake turns out to be costly, well, you’re footing the bill, not the inspector, so it can really pay off for you to know what to look for. One of the “biggies” is failing to find an UNDERGROUND OIL TANK. Often, homes that are actually heated with gas still have these tanks from when they were heated with oil, and a lot of times those tanks were either abandoned, possibly with oil still in them (big potential problem) or they were just filled with sand and gravel. Even more problematic, sometimes a property actually will have more than one of these things lurking out of sight and the present-day sellers may not even know that they are there!

Why should you worry about something that doesn’t appear to be causing anyone any problems? Well, because at some point, it could cause you a HUGE problem. It used to be okay to just stop using your tank and switch to gas, but these days a lot of cities have regulations requiring property owners to remove underground tanks no longer in use, even if they are not leaking and have been filled with rocks! And just because YOUR inspector missed it doesn’t mean the next one will, and it could cost you as much as $1,900 to remove a tank with NO PROBLEMS AT ALL before you sell your property.

If the tank has leaked, then you’re in even more trouble. Want to rent out that property? Probably not going to happen until you get the soil cleaned up and if you don’t, you could end up being sued. As you’ve probably guessed, clean-up doesn’t come cheap, either. In fact, remediation of a SMALL LEAK costs, on average, about $10,000 and large leaks can cost you up to $100,000 before you pay the price of disposing of any fuel remaining in the tank or the tank itself. And don’t plan on selling until you’ve dealt with the leak, either. Some areas won’t even let you sell the property if you disclose the problem to the buyer, and most buyers are not going to want to take on that type of clean-up anyway.

If those price tags have you shaking in your investing boots, you’ll definitely want to check out the full 14-point list in the REI Today Vault. All of these things are easy issues to spot and factor into the math on your deal before you buy, but you MUST know to look for them in order to ask your inspector and cover your bases. Check out the list now at www.rei.today/vault, and if you’re not yet a member, you can join right now by texting REITODAY no spaces no periods to 33444. When you do, I’ll provide you with fast, immediate access to the color-decision report as well as a lot of other timely, insightful, PRACTICAL information that will help make your investing safer, faster, and more profitable.

And folks, remember, when you join the Vault you join our community, which means you have the opportunity to network with me, my guests, and your fellow listeners across the country. So go ahead right now and text REITODAY no spaces no periods to 33444 or visit us online at www.rei.today/vault.

REI Nation, thanks for listening in and please always remember this:

Your best investment is your own education.

Jun 27

SMARTEST CITY in the country SNAGS $50M

By Carole Ellis | News

It pays to be smart and brag about it sometimes. The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) might give you $50 million if they think you’re doing enough of it. The DOT recently announced that Columbus, Ohio, is the “smartest city” out there, and as a reward the city will receive $50 million in grants to “create a first-of-its-kind city that uses data, technology, and creativity to model the future.”

Columbus won the inaugural “Smart City Challenge,” a program that encouraged cities to inventory the challenges that they currently face and come up with practical, actionable ideas about how they would use innovation and technology to solve those challenges. The $50 million will go toward implementing the solutions that Columbus already laid out in its entry. Six other finalist cities will also receive support from industry sponsors involved in the competition, including Amazon, Vulcan, AT&T, DC Solar, and Mobile Eye. The six cities are: Austin, Texas; Denver, Colorado; Kansas City, Missouri; Pittsburg, Pennsylvania; Portland, Oregon, and San Francisco, California.

Columbus officials said that they plan to use the money to “connect citizens and visitors, provide sustainable transportation options, and improve job opportunities.” DOT secretary Anthony Foxx said that the city’s “focus on improving the health and lives of the community” played a key role in its win.

Lesson Learned:

A good community master plan can yield major rewards. When you’re evaluating an area for investing potential, take a minute to check out the master plan and see how much, if anything, is actually happening on it. If it is, that can be a good sign that a community is set to grow.

Point to Ponder:

Do you agree with this type of contest?

Thank you for reading REI Today!

Your comments and questions are welcomed below.

Jun 27

BREXIT MAGIC BULLET for U.S. housing

By Carole Ellis | News

According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), Great Britain’s decision to leave the European Union (EU), also known as “Brexit,” could have a short-term positive impact on U.S. housing. “Demand for U.S. real estate could rise,” said NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun, adding that global corporations may also show additional interest in commercial real estate if the U.K. becomes “a less attractive place to conduct global business” as a result of the move. Longer term, things could be a little less sunny because Brexit is likely to create additional global market volatility and make the EU less stable as well.

As if interest rates were not presently low enough, Brexit could also help out homebuyers hoping that interest rates will stay low for a while longer. “Mortgage rates will tumble,” said Greg McBride, Bankrate.com’s chief financial analysts. He added that interest rates could “possibly hit new record lows,” and other analysts chimed in, suggesting that this could give the home-refinance sector “new life” in the short term as well. Although McBride recommended homeowners move fast to lock in low rates, Fannie Mae chief economist Doug Duncan wasn’t worried about the low interest rates going anywhere. “The Fed will very likely be on hold for some time as it observes the impact on U.S. and global financial markets and economic activity,” he said.

Lesson Learned:

Market shifts are not necessarily bad for markets as long as investors make sure to understand them before reacting.

Point to Ponder:

Do you think Brexit was a good move for Great Britain?

Thank you for reading REI Today!

Your comments and questions are welcomed below.

Jun 27

analysts warn: “a STORM is brewing”

By Carole Ellis | News

According to a new report from Pacific Investment Management Company (PIMCO), U.S. commercial real estate prices could be poised to plunge as much as five percent over the next 12 months. After nearly six years of national growth, some analysts fear that the sudden downturn could be hugely problematic for investors who bought near the top of the market expecting foreign interest to continue to grow before the advent of Brexit. However, PIMCO researchers say that the cooling-off period could actually create a “welcome storm” for investors looking for properties at bargain prices. “For flexible capital, this storm might be a welcome one indeed,” they wrote.

One potential issue for commercial investors could be the declining level of activity from Chinese investors, who have been backing off, relatively speaking, in recent months thanks to economic volatility in their own country and a strengthening dollar. Lower oil prices and “dislocated debt markets” are also playing a role in commercial uncertainty. PIMCO analysts called the combination of factors a “blast of volatility for commercial real estate.”

Lesson Learned:

Market volatility doesn’t have to mean you run for the nearest exit. Be very clear about what your strategy requires in a deal, then keep your eyes open!

Point to Ponder:

Do you think a six-percent drop in commercial real estate will affect all commercial sectors?

Thank you for reading REI Today!

Your comments and questions are welcomed below.

Jun 27

why you need to SUCK IT UP and get on INSTAGRAM

By Carole Ellis | News

If you think Instagram is just for “the kids these days,” think again. First of all, most of them are actually on SnapChat. Second of all, the photo- and video-sharing app now has 500 million monthly users, and 300 million of those users view and post on the app every day. Thirdly, users spend an average of 21 minutes (more than enough time to view your listing) on the app every day. Although SnapChat is growing in popularity, most marketers agree that if you’re seeking home-buyers, Instagram, with its larger and slightly older user population, is the way to go.

So now that you’ve decided to get on Instagram, what should you be doing there? For starters, you’ll want to post things that people actually want to see and “like,” since a post with more “likes” is more likely to be visible. Instagram experts recommend not just posting pictures of houses in listings, but also posting “behind the scenes” images to show lifestyle of a local community, clean-up efforts on remodels, or happy clients behind the closing table. You also will want to sync up your account with Facebook, the owner of Instagram. Photo-sharing via Instagram tends to work better than photo-sharing via Facebook only, probably because Instagram is Facebook’s “baby” in a lot of ways since the company paid more than $1 billion for it in 2012. Finally, try out Instagram’s photo maps, which can showcase not only your images and photos, but also your presence on Google maps, which can improve your credibility, your local presence, and possibly your visibility as well.

Lesson Learned:

If you’ve been putting off Instagram, it’s time to set up that account and start snapping!

Point to Ponder:

Do you use social media in your real estate business? Why or why not?

Thank you for reading REI Today!

Your comments and questions are welcomed below.

Jun 24

The KITCHEN COLOR DECISION that can cost you $1,442 | Episode 84

By Carole Ellis | REI Today Podcast

How would you like to know the common kitchen color decision that could cost you $1,442 when you sell your home? I’ll tell you all about it in today’s episode. I’m Carole Ellis. This is Episode 84.

—-

So wouldn’t you want to know which popular kitchen color would MAKE you about more than $1400 when you sell your home and which could COST YOU that same amount? Given that if you are an investor, you’re probably going to be painting a few kitchens along the way, those numbers could quickly add up. I’ll tell you which color will cost you and which color can tack a hefty chunk of change onto your price tag in just a minute, but first I want to take a minute to mention an EXCITING piece of news: the FAA has finally taken some conclusive action on drone regulations, which means all of you investors, agents, and other professionals who had to stop using drones for listing pictures and videos because the FAA was threatening to come after people clearly abusing their personal drones for real-estate-related benefit can now start using them again – with certain restrictions, of course. This is our government after all!

Anyway, you can get all the details on the new regulations on our website at www.rei.today in the news and networking section. Check it out, then charge up those batteries and start filming! That’s www.rei.today.

Now, back to the kitchen color decision that will really shock you. According to Zillow and their gazillion online listings full of information about kitchen colors (yes, I’m serious, not kidding, and this is why I love them even when I don’t love their zestimates), homes with yellow kitchens sell, on average, for $1,442 more than homes with white kitchens, all other things being equal! That’s right: if your home has a yellow kitchen, then you’ll quite possibly make more than $1,400 more than your neighbor with the same home and a white kitchen when you sell your property. That’s pretty exciting!

But before you break out the egg-yolk yellow, let’s get clear about what Zillow really means when they say yellow. If you’re not in the mood for an abusively brilliant ray of sunshine on your wall first thing in the morning, don’t worry. In fact, Zillow noted that what they termed “yellow” actually appeared on the wall as quote “creamy or wheat-colored yellow” rather than the primary color you might have been thinking of. White was also not only traditional white, but also off-white and eggshell, and it was the least popular kitchen color, actually detracting an average of $82 from ANY HOME regardless of the kitchen color comparison.

With numbers like that for the kitchen, imagine what painting the BATHROOM the wrong color could do! Well, you don’t have to imagine for long, because I’m going to tell you right here that the wrong choice in the dining room could cost you more than $2,000 and the bathroom alone could cost you nearly $800. You can get the full rundown of the best and worst color decisions, by room, in the REI Today Vault at www.rei.today/vault, and if you’re not yet a member, don’t worry! Just text REITODAY no spaces no periods to 33444 and I’ll provide you with fast, immediate access to the color-decision report as well as a lot of other timely, insightful, PRACTICAL information that will help make your investing safer, faster, and more profitable.

And folks, remember, when you join the Vault you join our community, which means you have the opportunity to network with me, my guests, and your fellow listeners across the country. So go ahead right now and text REITODAY no spaces no periods to 33444 or visit us online at www.rei.today/vault.

REI Nation, thanks for listening in and please always remember this:

Your best investment is your own education.

 

Jun 24

Investors’ “SNEAKY TRICKS” Land Them in Serious Legal Hot Water

By Carole Ellis | News

Three real estate investors who may have been following common, “sneaky” real estate advice now find themselves in seriously hot water, having been indicted last week for their involvement in a house-flipping scheme that involved mail fraud and conspiracy on multiple levels. The three men are accused of making more than 40 offers on HUD homes in cities and towns in Illinois and Indiana, placing “for sale” signs outside the homes before the purchases had occurred, and lying about their ability to fund the purchases by producing forged letters purportedly from private venture capital businesses stating that the individuals had lines of credit up to $500,000.

That wasn’t the end of it, either. Once the investors made their offers, they filed false liens on the homes to prevent them from being sold to other buyers, and they let the contracts expire on the homes. The moves not only were fraudulent, but they also cost the real estate investing community serious points when it comes to maintaining a good reputation. Nearly everything the men did is a twisted version of some good advice from an actual real estate investing expert, from obtaining lines of credit and providing proof-of-funds (you need real ones, folks!) to putting signs in the yard before they actually made the purchase (many experts say get a sign in there right away, though not before you actually own the home).

The men have only been indicted, so they are presumed innocent and we do not know what type of punishments they might face if convicted.

Lesson Learned:

Be quick on your feet, but don’t cheat!

Point to Ponder:

Have you ever done something you thought was sneaky but legal and learned otherwise?

Thank you for reading REI Today!

Your comments and questions are welcomed below.