Living in Thailand After Retirement

My husband and I met when we were on separate vacations in Thailand. It was love at first sight for both of us, and thankfully we lived close enough to each other to where we could have a proper courtship. That was nearly 30 years ago, and we are going back to where our love story started. Before we retired several months ago, we looked at the best real estate agency in Koh Samui Thailand. We had been back to Thailand on holiday at least once every couple of years, so we knew exactly where we wanted to live once we did retire.

We were able to look at several properties online that were just perfect for us. I knew that we would not have a problem finding exactly what we wanted because the entire area is just filled with awesome properties and beautiful houses. The overall scenery is just perfect too, and we were able to narrow it down to the one we wanted easily enough. It is located right in Koh Samui, and it feels and looks like it could have been custom made for the two of us. Continue reading “Living in Thailand After Retirement”

Glassell Park Real Estate – What the Numbers Tell Us

Real estate in Glassell Park, a hillside neighborhood adjacent to red-hot Mt. Washington and Highland Park – is in high demand. Prices for Glassell Park real estate are rising and the inventory of homes is shrinking, creating a seller’s market. But why is this happening now when the area was undiscovered for so long? Let’s look at what the numbers tell us about this special community.

Glassell Park is a moderately diverse neighborhood located in Northeast Los Angeles. Glassell Park resides south of Glendale, west of Eagle Rock and northeast of Mount Washington. This neighborhood is quite hilly and provides its residents with astounding views. During the housing boom of 2000 a large group of middle-class people moved to Glassell Park because of the inexpensive cost and abundance of Craftsman homes. The average temperature for the hottest month of the year, July, is 73 degrees. The average temperature for the coldest month of the year, December, is 57 degrees. January is the month with the most precipitation at 4.6 inches.

Area Vibes awarded Glassell Park a livability score of 72, very livable, which is higher than the national average of 70. Walk Score says that Glassell Park is a 61, with a transit score of 44 and a bike score of 38. Therefore, Glassell Park is somewhat walkable, and some errands can be accomplished by walking. There is some public transportation with a score and not many bike lanes.

According to the 2000 U.S. Census, there were 23,467 residents within the 2.75 square mile neighborhood. This equates to 8,524 people per square mile, which is average density for Los Angeles. The ethnicity break down was as follows: Latinos: 66.1%, Whites: 13.7%, Asians: 17.4%, Blacks: 1.4% and others 1.4%. 51.5% of its residents were born abroad with the highest two being Mexico, 49.3% and the Philippines, 16.2%. The average age for residents was 30; this is average for the city and county of Los Angeles. 19% of the residents who are 25 and older have earned a four-year degree. There was 4.8% of the population listed as veterans.

The median household income in Glassell Park was $50,098, which is an average figure for the city and county of Los Angeles. The average household size is higher compared to most parts of Los Angeles at 3.3 people. This is 21% higher than the national average. Renters reside in 56.2% of the housing stock; this is 55% higher than the national average. Owners are the remaining 43.8%, these figures are 30% lower than the national average.

According to Zillow, Glassell Park homes are valued on average at $713,700. This is a 9.3% increase from last year and they expect it to raise another 2.6% next year. The average price of homes on the market is $675,000; this is 148% higher than the national average. The market health is rated at 3.8 out of 10 in comparison to other markets across the county. The average price per square foot is $499, which is higher than the Los Angeles average of $448. The current market temperature is “cool” which is ideal for the Buyer’s market. The average price of rent is $2,900, which is 33% higher than the national average.

When buying and selling real estate in Glassell Park, buyers and sellers should consult an experienced real estate agent who specializes in the area.

Highland Park, CA Homes and Real Estate – A Look at the Numbers

In Los Angeles real estate circles, everyone is talking about Highland Park. Like other Northeast LA neighborhoods like Silver Lake, Eagle Rock and Mt. Washington, Highland Park is in a state of gentrification as new stores and restaurants are popping up on York Blvd. and homes are being purchased and restored. As a result, homes in Highland Park are in demand and prices have steadily risen. But gentrification isn’t the only reason. Highland Park is a wonderful area to call home.

Highlan Park is an amiable historic neighborhood located in Northeast Los Angeles. It is a hilly neighborhood located in the San Rafael Hills along the Arroyo Seco. It is southwest of Eagle Rock and Northeast of Cypress Park. People from many ethnic and socioeconomic groups call this neighborhood “home”. The weather is pristine with the highest monthly average temperature being 73 degrees in the hottest month of July and 57 degrees in the coldest month of December. Highland Park experiences light rain; January receives the highest amount at 4.6 inches total. According to Walk Score, Highland Park is the most walkable neighborhood in Los Angeles with a score of 72. It is very accessible and most errands can be completed on foot. It has some public transportation and is somewhat bikeable with a transit score of 47 and a bike score of 53.

According to the 2000 U.S. Census there were 57,566 residents in the 3.42 square miles of neighborhood. That is an average of 16,385 people per square mile. Highland Park is one of the highest density areas in Los Angeles. Highland Park grew to 60,835 people by 2008. The ethnicity break down was as follows: Latinos, 72.4% Whites 11.3%, Asians 11.2%, Blacks 2.4% and others 2.6%. A larger than average 57.8% residents were born abroad. 55.3% of them were born in Mexico and 12% were from El Salvador. In the male population 52.2% were married, 41.2% had never been married, 4.9% had been divorced and 1.6% were widowed. For the women: 50.4% were married, 33.2% were never married, 9.3% were divorced and 7.1% were widowed. The demographic for never married was among the county’s highest. 14.3% of residents who were 25 and above had a four-year degree. This was average for Los Angeles. 45.1% of the residents were born in a foreign city. This was a high number for Los Angeles. 4.9% of people in the population were veterans; this was a low number for Los Angeles. The average age of residents was 28, which is seen as young compared to the other areas of Los Angeles.

The average household income in 2008 was $45,478, which is an average number for Los Angeles. The average household size was 3.3 people, which is 25% higher than the national average. Renters occupied60.9% of housing units, which is 105% higher than the national average. Owners completed the other 39.1%, which is 58% lower than the national average.

Zillow states that Highland Park’s home value index is $662,800, which is up 13.1% since last year and with a projected increase of 4.3% predicted over next year. The market temperature is very hot and ideal for sellers. The average price per square foot is $582, which is higher than the Los Angeles average of $448. The average price of homes is $652,500, which is 123% higher than the national average. The average rent per month is $2,600, being 22% higher than the national average. The current Market Health is 5.3/10, which is relative to other markets across the country. Highland Park will continue to grow and develop.

Because Highland Park is in a stage of gentrification with rising home prices, it is highly advised for home-buyers and home sellers to seek out an experienced Highland Park realtor who specializes in the area.

4 Daily Habits to Adopt for Success in Real Estate & Life

Good habits are the foundation of wealth. If you watch successful people you will see their day is filled with consistent habits that save time, improve focus and ultimately help accomplish more daily. Successful people get up early, learn daily, make lists & set goals and track their progress.

• Get Up Early.

Make the first two hours of your day the most important. It will not only set the tone for the day but will give you a game plan for everything else that follows. These two hours can be used for activities you enjoy such as exercise, meditation or completion of a project or activity from the previous day. The early morning is free from distraction allowing you to do more of whatever you enjoy.

• 20 Minutes Of Learning Daily.

It is important in any business to know what is going on at all times. Trying to master every aspect of the business may seem intimidating but is less difficult if you spend some time on it daily. Regardless of how busy you may be you can squeeze twenty minutes of learning into your daily routine. You can find this time on an audiobook driving to or from an appointment or on the treadmill as you get some exercise in.

• Make Lists & Set Goals.

Success is often easier if you plan exactly what needs to get done. Before you go to bed you should plan for the next day. Tackle the toughest task first and go from there. Planning your goals not only makes you efficient but gives you a sense of direction and purpose. The most successful people in the world have one thing in common, they all say their goals out loud three times daily. This helps to reinforce their direction and keeps them on track in accomplishing their goals. Try it and see how much closer you get to reaching your goals!

• Track Progress.

If you don’t know what is working, is impossible to gauge the results? At the end of every day you should take some time to evaluate what you did to build on your progress. If you failed to do anything, you need to ask yourself why and then develop a new plan to stay on track.

You ultimately control where you go in Life. Changing habits is never easy but is essential for growth. Start by incorporating these four habits into your daily life and see the difference it makes towards your success.

Shadow Inventory – What Is It and How to Find It

Many Investors have been asking me about shadow inventory how much is out there and how to get their hands on it. Shadow inventory usually refers to the supply of homes that has not yet hit the market, but “hiding” in the background. In Real Estate this refers to foreclosures (REO or bank owned properties) or those close to the process.

Banks and mortgage loan servicing companies typically hold onto properties that haven’t seen a mortgage payment for 90 days and in some cases even 2-3 years.

Why do they hold on so long?

Banks hold on since it allows them to release their inventory over time to keep their books in check and also to provide that easy liquidation to stimulate the real estate economy when necessary. Banks will now be getting more money for those newly released properties, then say 2 years ago, due to the steady increase in home prices and low inventory levels. If they chose to release all at once, it would flood the market with “distressed properties” and bring down property values.

How much “Shadow Inventory” is still out there?

Foreclosures have been steadily declining since 2013 with the highest shadow inventory then at 2.2MM. According to the National Association of Realtors, there is still about 4 years still on the books and it is possible that we could soon see more!

More “Shadow Inventory”? Why? (HAMP) Home Affordable Modification Program

In 2017 and beyond, many homeowners may find it difficult to make their mortgage payments due to “resets” with HAMP thus pushing them into foreclosure. The government’s Home Affordable Modification Program provided temporary relief to borrowers during the housing crisis. These reliefs ended after five years and now payments will be “reset” thus causing loan payment increases for nearly 900,000 homeowners. Some of those are likely to find it difficult to keep up with the payments in our current economy.

Where do Investors find “Shadow Inventory”?

Forget about calling the loss mitigation department or asking the cashier at your Big Bank. They won’t be able to help you. Instead, savvy real estate investors can approach the REO departments of smaller regional banks, credit unions and portfolio lenders to find out what could be “lurking” in the shadows. This presents an opportunity to beat out the competition and purchase at greater discounts.

But my favorite way to locate “Shadow Inventory” is what I call “Driving for Dollars”. Simply drive through areas that have high foreclosure activity and look for the white sticker posted on the front window or door of the house. This typically contains the information of the bank or asset manager of the property and their phone number. Give them a call and see where they are in the foreclosure process and if they’re ready to make a deal!

The NEW kind of “Shadow Inventory”!

There is a new kind of shadow inventory on the market these days and I’m not talking about the REO kind. Many successful agents have their own shadow inventory. If you’ve been in the business for an extended period and built up a clientele, these clients typically contact you well in advance of the property going on the market. You advise them of the steps needed to get the house ready to show which typically means doing repairs such as paint, carpet, landscaping, staging, etc. Therefore, there is a period of time before the property actually hits the market creating a different type of shadow inventory. Contacting your favorite realtor about this type of inventory can definitely increase your chances of finding that Dream home.

Happy House Hunting!

The Real Estate Resurgence of Glassell Park and Highland Park

Real estate in Northeast Los Angeles has been booming for years. We hear about it on television and in the news. Rarely does a news story get published where the term “Gentrification” is used to describe areas such as Eagle Rock, Mt. Washington and Highland Park, regions where home values have spiked. Is it something home-buyers and home sellers need to know?

By definition, “to gentrify” is to improve a house or district so that it conforms to middle-class taste. The middle class, or Bourgeoisie, is attempting to emulate upper-class standards. In the U.K., the gentry refer to people of high social position, specifically the class of people next below the nobility. Therefor the gentrification of an area is a process whereby those of lower socioeconomic status are forced out of a region in order to make it more attractive to the people of higher socioeconomic standing. Taking deteriorating inner city homes away from working class families to be renovated and sold to the privileged is also known as progress, or gentrification.

That is precisely what is occurring in the once run down neighborhood of Highland Park. This ongoing restorative transformation has helped to eradicate crime and strengthen the local economy. Juice bars and yogurt shops have sprung up in place of derelict Laundromats and liquor stores. Local businesses are now thriving, where the windows were once boarded up and car carcasses rusted.

Nowhere is this more evident than in the Northeast Los Angeles neighborhood of Glassell Park, where police not long ago bulldozed suspected gang homes in a dramatic crackdown on crime. Soon after, investors began investing in fixing up Glassell Park’s hillside view homes and property values began to rise with new shops and restaurants appearing in direct proportion.

At one time, Eco Park stood as the poster child for gentrification in Los Angeles. This forgotten slum went through a complete metamorphosis in the 90’s, turning it into one of the most sought after areas east of downtown. With Echo Park as a model, the restoration movement has continued its march east, rehabilitating other areas, such as Highland Park and Glassell Park, with great potential.

One telltale sign of the up and coming neighborhood is what is known as the Starbucks phenomenon. If this “7-eleven” of coffee houses has chosen to plant its green lady logo on the block, you can bet your bottom dollar that the ‘Hipsters are coming or more likely, the Hipsters have already arrived. This of course means that property values are climbing. In the historic region of Highland Park, York Boulevard is now book ended by Starbucks. Having a Starbucks on the corner is clear evidence that a moneyed community is on the rise. The values of homes for sale in Highland Park are absolutely exploding.

Another way of measuring affluence is by exploring the high volume of trendy restaurants, bars, and art galleries not to mention the cafes populated by too cool for school patrons everywhere. This enclave has become a hot spot for exotic dining among foodies and the like. Good eats just seem to go along with gentrification. That is one of the advantages. Today you can find French, Italian, Japanese, Vietnamese, and a wide variety of Vegan food in this once neglected district. It has become an amazing multi-cultural mecca. One more example of economic growth is improved public transportation. Business people can commute from paradise to downtown by train in a matter of minutes.

The median price for a house in Highland Park is now approaching seven hundred thousand. In relative terms, this area is still a bargain in Los Angeles’ exorbitant housing market. As the beautification of these older neighborhoods flourishes in NELA, the real estate naturally becomes more desirable and the property values escalate.

REAL ESTATE: Something You Might Want to Know

Real estate means the property consisting of land or buildings which also includes the natural resources of the land including uncultivated flora and fauna, farmed crops and livestock, water and minerals, simply speaking any improvements on it. Tenants and leaseholders may have the right to occupy or make use of anything that is within the dominion of the rented area depending on the terms and conditions set by the landlords.

However when we hear the words “real estate”, we often refer it to the “real estate market” from the perspective of residential living. This is grouped into three categories based on its use. It’s either be residential which is used for living purposes, commercial as used in commerce and industrial which is used in manufacture or production of goods. Residential are those undeveloped land, houses, condominiums and town homes. Commercial are office buildings, warehouses and retails store buildings and examples of industrial are factories, mines and farms.

Those who are buying a home often need to borrow money in the form of mortgage because prices are generally well above their savings. They can either avail of fixed-rate or variable-rate.

Commercial leases are mostly longer that residential and lenders may ask for higher down payment on a mortgage for commercial than home loan since generally residential real estate is usually less expensive so it is more affordable for small investor

Generally, this is affected by the primary condition to where the property is located. Profits or losses come through revenue from rent and appreciation of the estate’s value. There is also risk of tenant turnover especially if the business model is in bad condition, product is unattractive, or poor management and many more. So landlords, lessees has to make sure all is well set before lending the area/place.

Real estate can help you earn more especially if you are in hand with generating leads and setting well the properties in case you are into selling or offering rentals. You have to make sure you will be working more of what you invested. Usually property appraisals are of good and or high value, you just need to work on it. You must always and consistently putting your client’s best interests first. With that, your personal needs will be realized beyond your greatest expectations. Investing in this even on small scale, was tried and tested as true means of building an individual’s cash flow.

Real Estate Fraud

This is an activity that is purposely done to misrepresent information on real estate documents. It also involves the money transfers. It is also called mortgage fraud. The reason that it is referred to as this is that the fraud generally takes place with the mortgage application. Real estate fraud, in the United States, can have heavy penalties like imprisonment and large fines.

Such a crime can be committed in many different ways. It appears to happen more often when property prices are on the rise. Because of the simplicity of the fraud, some types are seen more than other frauds. Some are not as common because they are more complicated. One of the common forms of such fraud, according to the IRS is preparing two settlement statement sets that are different from each other. In one of the statements, the accurate property-selling price is written, which the buyer receives. The other one will depict a higher selling price that is exaggerated. When the mortgage lender approves the loan for the exaggerated price, the seller is given the amount that is stated in their copy of the settlement statement. The one who committed the fraudulent settlement statements will keep the money that is left over. If there are other conspirators, the money will be divided among them. It could be the entire excess money or a percentage of it.

Using qualification that are fraudulent is another type of real estate fraud. These fraudulent qualifications are used when applying for a mortgage or home loan to help them get the mortgage. In this form of real estate fraud, the real estate agent will usually assist the buyer. The fraudulent qualifications can include fabricating credit reports or history of employment. These two involve the obvious misrepresentation of data but not all real estate fraud is easy to see as these two examples. If buyers who do not intend to commit real estate fraud because they do not know the laws can accidentally commit mortgage fraud.

If a buyer has a down payment by using money that was given as a gift it is legal. If this gift is re-paid to the who gave the gift, this is considered a case of real estate fraud. The gift used to make a down payment cannot be repaid for it to be legal. Another type of property fraud is when the buyer accidentally fails to disclose any financial liabilities on their mortgage application. It becomes fraud when it is not taken care of before the loan is approved. Property flipping can become real estate fraud if you make false representations about the value and condition of the property when you sell it for a much higher price than you paid for the property.

4 Ways To Wholesale Real Estate

Want to invest in real estate with no financial risk and no money or credit? Wholesaling houses is a popular choice. I personally think wholesaling can be a challenging way to get started, but the fact that you can get started in real estate investing without any barrier of entry makes wholesaling an attractive option. If you can get good at this side of the business, you will be success with anything you want to do. The reason I say that is finding deals is what makes a wholesaler successful. If you can get good at finding deals, you have unlimited potential.

Once you find a deal, you need to understand how to sell it to make your profit. Here are four ways you can structure your wholesale properties.

Contract Assignment: This is the easiest, but comes with some risks if not done correctly. It is also somewhat restrictive as bank owned properties will prevent this. This works well when you negotiate your deals directly with the seller. The way this works is you will get a house under contract and then you will assign your rights in the contract to another buyer for a fee. That new buyer will take on the rights and responsibilities in the contract and will close in your place. It is best to get your fee paid up front, but it is very common to get your fee when your buyer buys the house. Here are a few things to keep in mind when assigning contracts.

Be sure that you always disclose to your seller that you are or may assign the agreement to another buyer for a fee. I suggest you actually put this in the contract. Sellers should be OK with this if you are transparent that you are an investor who buys houses for a profit before you start to negotiate.

I would get money from your money that is at least enough to cover any earnest money you put up with your seller. That way if your buyer defaults on the agreement you at least cover your costs. Always try to get the entire fee paid when you assign the contract.

I like this way the best because it is easy to do on your end, it is easy for the buyer and the buyer’s lender, and it is the cheapest way to go.

Double Close: This just means that you actually buy the house and then resell it. There are several ways to do this, but the most common is to buy and sell in the same day or within a day. Typically, you will need to bring in financing to get your closing done with the seller, which is why this is my least preferred method to wholesale. Also, because you have two closings you will have two sets of closing costs, so it is the most expensive way too. With that said, some wholesalers prefer this method because they do not have to disclose to the seller their intent to resell and they can both keep their deal with the seller and their deal with their buyer private. It is believed by some that this is a good way to protect your profits. The information will all become public record at some point, but that is well after the closing.

This is the method you will use by default if you do not do your contract on the front end correctly, so we do see double closing frequently.

Flip the Entity: This has become the most common way to wholesale in my market. Most, if not all, the successful wholesalers will use this strategy. Especially when wholesaling foreclosures where contract assignments are forbidden.

The way this works is the wholesaler will set up a separate entity, like an LLC or a Trust, and put that entity as the buyer of the house to be wholesaled. They will then sell the entity itself for a fee. The benefit with using this strategy is that actual contract on the house does not change. Since the buyer of the house is the entity, there are no issues with any regulation or assignment restrictions. The downside is it could be more work because of the extra step to set up the entity, and there could be additional fees to register the entity with the state. The risk for the buyer is whenever you buy a company you are buying all of it. So, if the entity was used in another transaction and owes money to anyone, the new buyer could be on the hook. Knowing this, the best way to do this transaction is with a brand-new entity used for this one purpose.

Relationship Close: I don’t know if there is an actual name for this method. In fact, it is rarely seen. What I mean by relationship close is that you have such a strong relationship with a buyer that you write offers in the buyer’s name. For this to work, you should be a licensed agent and preview houses for your buyer. You would need to understand their criteria and only offer on houses they will want to buy. I have a client that works this way. He has an agent write his offers and the agent/wholesaler gets paid a commission with each successful closing. They do 2 to 3 deals a month with this strategy. My client just signs contracts without looking at them at this point and trusts what the wholesaler is putting together solid offers. There is always an inspection clause protecting the buyer and the agent, but more than 9 out of 10 houses that go under contract close. That is because the agent/wholesaler knows the business and knows what this buyer will buy.

I would stay away from this method, especially if you are just starting out. A lot can go wrong. I wanted to mention it because it is one of the 4 ways that I see people wholesale. If you are just getting started I would focus on contract assignments and then flipping the entity.

Understanding Home Closing Costs in Southern California

Looking to buy a house in Northeast Los Angeles – NELA, as it is known – but unclear of the process and amount of money needed? A licensed Realtor can help you figure it out. But for ballpark purposes, it might help to do some preliminary study on your own.

NELA is, after all, one of the hottest markets in all of Los Angeles. Not just the obvious neighborhoods like Glendale and Pasadena, but in smaller, lesser-known neighborhoods.

You might be in love with the schools in Mt. Washington, the housing inventory in Highland Park or the neighborhoods of Eagle Rock, but you have to work through some of these details before you can call any of those places home.

Much is made about closing costs in real estate transactions, and yet these vary for several reasons. The single largest expense, the real estate commission, is covered by the seller (who pays the commission in a split between the buyer’s and the seller’s agents).

Fees the buyer will need to pay at the closing come with some variation; the following are the largest of such costs at closing:

Homeowner association fees – If the property is a condominium the seller might be in arrears with the homeowners association, in which case you will find this out before entering the sales contract. In distressed circumstances (foreclosures, near-foreclosures and short sales), these fees might amount to thousands of dollars.
Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) – If your down payment is less than 20% of the price of the property, you will be required to insure the mortgage at between 0.3% and 1.15% of the loan amount.
Origination fee to the lender – Even while you fix your dreams on a Victorian in Glassell Park, a two-unit duplex in Garvanza or fixer-upper in Hermon, you have to go through a large amount of paperwork with a would-be lender to prove your creditworthiness. And yes, they do charge fees at closing for all that fun.
Points – These enable you to change the terms of the loan to your favor if you pay one or more percentage points toward the mortgage amount. If you have the cash and plan to own the property for a decade or longer, paying a point or two upfront can save you much more over time.
Prorated property tax – As the LA tax year begins on July 1, you will need to cover whatever remains in the year in advance from the day of the closing.
Insurance premiums – Protecting the property (as required by all lenders) from damages and liability is required at closing also.
Escrow fees – Third parties performing escrow services need to be compensated for that work. Note that fee structures are not fixed or regulated by the state of California, but are generally set according to the size of the transaction.

Technically speaking there are multiple fees that will be part of the buyer’s closing costs but which the seller automatically pays for in a reimbursement. These include the city transfer tax, documentary transfer tax to title and the owners title policy. Multiple other fees under $500 (average) costs include the lender appraisal fee, credit report fee, prorated HOA fees, courier services related to the transaction, notary services, archiving fees, recording trust deed (to title), and loan tie-in fees.

Note that the process of looking at houses and negotiating a price, and perhaps that of qualifying for a loan, are typically more time consuming than the closing itself. An experienced realtor will be able to advise you on all these details, invariably to the point where you are told how much money to bring to the closing and in what form.