Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Top 10 Real Estate Book of 2006

Here are the 10 best real estate books of 2006:

1. "Trump-Style Negotiation," by George Ross (John Wiley and Sons, Hoboken, NJ), $24.95, 259 pages. This unique book offers insights into Donald J. Trump's big-thinking negotiation style, which leaves the contract details to his trusted adviser, George Ross. Only serious real estate buyers, sellers, real estate agents and investors will study this extremely well-written book that reveals negotiation tactics not found elsewhere, illustrated with many actual examples from Trump acquisitions.

2. "The Automatic Millionaire Homeowner," by David Bach (Broadway Books, New York), $19.95, 244 pages. If you could read only one real estate book, whether you are a renter considering a home purchase, a current homeowner, a seasoned realty investor or a real estate agent, this is the book for you because it shows how home ownership can lead to wealth. The book's two themes are (a) renters can become millionaires by investing in their first house or condo and (b) that residence can become the foundation for a better home or more investment property in future years.

3. "Buy Even Lower," by Scott Frank and Andy Heller (Kaplan Publishing Co., Chicago) $18.95, 238 pages. Aimed at real estate investors and real estate sales agents, this book, by two full-time corporate executives and part-time realty investors, shows how they buy single-family houses at targeted below-market prices and then either buy and hold, buy and flip, or (their favorite) buy and lease-purchase. The authors favor "ugly and awful" three-bedroom, two-bathroom houses in middle-income neighborhoods.

4. "Real Estate Debt Can Make You Rich," by Steve Dexter (McGraw-Hill, New York), $21.95, 156 pages. The two audiences for this book, which explains why real estate debt is good, are (a) home buyers and realty agents who want to understand the inner-workings of the mortgage industry and (b) investors who need to know how "good debt" can be created to maximize realty profits. The mortgage-broker author reveals how avoiding "inexperienced and inept loan hacks" can obtain the best mortgages to buy a home or investment property. The book includes the best compilation of real estate Web sites available.

5. "Bubbles, Booms, and Busts; Make Money in Any Real Estate Market," by Blanche Evans (McGraw-Hill, New York), $16.95, 167 pages. This extremely well-researched and up-to-date book explains the signals of local rising, falling or neutral local home sales markets, and how to profit in any situation if you take a long-term perspective on home sales. "Except for local economic shocks, like the collapse or exit of a major employer, home prices nationwide have not gone down since the Great Depression," the author reminds readers.

6. "Success as a Real Estate Agent for Dummies," by Dirk Zeller (Wiley Publishing Co., Indianapolis, IN), $21.99, 350 pages. Whether you are a new real estate agent, a longtime "old pro" agent or an individual thinking about becoming an agent, this basic book by a real estate "coach" explains what is involved in selling real estate for sales commissions, how to use sales time management profitably, and how to get started fast by contacting expired listings and "for sale by owners." The book includes an invaluable list of Web sites for realty agents plus the author's advice how to gain competitive advantages by obtaining a "slice of the market."

7. "Everything You Need to Know Before Buying a Co-Op, Condo, or Townhouse," by Ken Roth (AMACOM Publishing, New York), $18.95, 197 pages. The real estate attorney author shares his many legal and real-life personal experiences so readers don't make costly mistakes when buying into the unique lifestyle of these properties. Heavy emphasis is placed on the pros and cons of homeowner associations, including "condo commando" members who seek to take charge of the "mini-democracy" members.

8. "Who Says You Can't Buy a Home?" by David Reed (AMACOM Publishing, New York), $17.95, 182 pages. This mortgage-broker author is on the side of home buyers and real estate agents as he explains how mortgage lenders look at borrowers in this "tell all" book." "Anyone with steady income, no matter how bad their credit rating, or even with no credit, can find a mortgage to buy a home," the author reveals.

9. "Confessions of a Real Estate Entrepreneur," by James A. Randel (McGraw-Hill, New York), $29.95, 256 pages. This book's theme is "add value" to real estate, whether you invest in raw land, houses, run-down factory buildings with rezoning potential, or fixer-upper apartments and offices. The self-deprecating author shares his mistakes and his successes, along with his advice to invest with as little of your own cash as possible so profits can be maximized. Negotiation strategies are heavily emphasized throughout this unusual book.

10. "The Reverse Mortgage Advantage," by Warren Boroson (McGraw-Hill, New York), $21.95, 169 pages. Virtually all the key aspects of senior-citizen reverse mortgages are thoroughly explained in this detailed but easy-to-read book that emphasizes the potential pitfalls as well as the major benefits. The author shatters the reverse-mortgage myths, such as "the bank owns the house," the supposed high costs, and even the scary stories of early reverse mortgages, which are no longer possible.

For more information please go to Inman.com

Thursday, January 25, 2007

The 25 Best Affordable Suburbs, We Made the Cut!

BUSINESS WEEK'S list of "The 25 Best Affordable Suburbs in the US"-2006

  1. Baltimore (Columbia, MD)
  2. Washington D.C. (Herndon, VA)
  3. Alburquerque (Sandia Heights N.M)
  4. Atlanta (Roswell, GA)
  5. Boston (Sharon, MA)
  6. Charlotte (Matthews, NC)
  7. Chicago (Lake Zurich, Ill)
  8. Cincinnati (Evandale, Oh)
  9. Dallas (Flower Mound/Lweisville, TX)
  10. Denver (Castle Rock, Colo)
  11. Fort Lauderdale (Weston, Fl)
  12. Houston (Sugarland, TX)
  13. Indianapolis (Noblesville, In)
  14. Iowa City (Coralville, Iowa)
  15. Kansas (Shawnee, Kan)
  16. Los Angeles (Santa Clarita, Claif)
  17. Minneapolis-St Paul (Lakeville, Minn)
  18. Newark (Livingston, NJ)
  19. New York (West Nyack, NY)
  20. Omaha (Elkhorn, Neb)
  21. Philadelphia (West Chester, PA)
  22. Sacramento (Folsom, Calif)
  23. Salt Lake City (Kaysville, UT)
  24. Seattle (Mukilteo, Wash)
  25. St. Louis (Saint Charles, MO)

More Info: www.BusinessWeek.com search "Best Affordable"

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

The New I-64 is Coming, Will You Be Ready?

Not sure HOW or IF the Highway 40 Construction will affect you. Here are some quick facts from the http://www.thenewi64.org/ website:

Contract: What is being built for the contract?

The project has a budget of $535 million and will include Interstate 64 from west of Spoede Road to east of Kingshighway. The project will rebuild all 12 interchanges including a new interchange at I-170, add one lane in each direction from west of Spoede to I-170, and reconstruct the bridges and pavement. We are getting everything we need with this project.

Traffic: Will north-south roads remain open to help with traffic flow?

Gateway Constructors will keep the major north-south roads open during construction. These roads include Lindbergh, Brentwood, Hanley and Kingshighway. They will be under construction to build the new interchanges with I-64, but they will remain open.

Bridges: Why is MoDOT concerned with the bridges?

There are more than 40 bridges on or over I-64 in this project. New bridges are given a rating of a 9. Half of the I-64 bridges are rated 4 or 3. At a level 2 they are closed. Replacing these bridges is a major reason for doing this project and doing it now.

Extra Lanes: Why isn't MoDOT adding more lanes? Aren't you going to address the congestion?

MoDOT will be improving traffic flow with the project through the addition of more lanes. Between every interchange there will be dedicated exit only lanes for longer merging. In the area of Brentwood, I-170 and Hanley, more lanes will be added as dedicated exit lanes to each of those interchanges. One additional lane for I-64 traffic traveling through will be added from Ballas Road to I-170, but not east of I-170.
The congestion east of I-170 is a result of out-dated design and operational problems such as steep hills and short on and off-ramps especially in the Brentwood, I-170 and Hanley areas. There are 30,000 fewer vehicles using I-64 east of I-170. Traffic flow along I-64 will be greatly improved by improving the overall roadway design, interchanges and the addition of exit only lanes between interchanges

For More Details please visit http://www.thenewi64.org/

Get the Biggest Remodeling Bang for your Buck

REALTOR Magazine Annual Cost vs. Value Report

For Saint Louis & St. Charles County

Bathroom Remodel$13,924$10,39574.7%
Minor Kitchen Remodel$18,819$13,53071.9%
Siding Replacement$9,507$7,66280.6%
Attic Bedroom Remodel$46,825$32,74969.9%
Deck Addition$15,063$9,72964.6%
Basement Remodel$63,580$44,08369.3%
Window Replacement$10,753$8,75181.4%
Roof Replacement$15,835$9,59560.9%
Family Room Addition$78,714$48,02161.0%
Home Office Remodel $22,061$12,37456.1%
Sunroom Addition$54,334$30,56356.2%

Source: REALTOR Magazine

Friday, January 19, 2007

St. Charles’ brighter 2007 real estate market

The national news coverage of the 2006 real estate market could be kindly described as gloomy. Frankly, it sounded like the apocalypse. Headlines read: Real Estate Investing Slows, Great Upheavals in the Nation’s Real Estate Market, The Housing Slump, Real Estate Bubble is about to Burst, etc.

The truth is I did not experience a great downturn in the market. What I did see was fear. I saw people who were so inundated with doom’s day news coverage that they believed the local market was in worse shape than it really was.

Those of you considering your initial step into the St. Charles County real estate market or any local market should be selective regarding the news. Make sure that when it comes to the real estate market you get a local perspective. Markets differ greatly across the country and national reporting cannot accurately reflect conditions here in St. Charles County. So trust your chosen real estate professional to give you a true picture of what should be expected.

The year 2006 in the St. Charles area was not a bust or a bubble but a “transition year.” Although the national markets on the east and west coasts have definitely been unstable, the Midwest has remained somewhat above the fray. Real estate trends for the year ahead are promising. But the market has changed and adapted and so must buyers and sellers.

The seller’s market of the past will stabilize and become more balanced with existing home sales likely to rise gradually throughout the year. But this will only happen with increased flexibility from sellers.

I have seen successful sellers make minor to broad home improvements in order to sell their home. It may become more commonplace for sellers to repaint the home’s interior and/or exterior, replace efficiency systems, upgrade appliances, change flooring, etc.

I offer sellers a complimentary interior design consultation with a licensed designer to make my listings more enticing for potential buyers. As we see on HGTV, it is entirely possible to make a room or two more eye-catching just by rearranging what is already there. Sellers can also take advantage of my free pre-listing home inspection which is helpful in letting sellers know what the buyers’ inspectors are going to find. So then they can choose what they want to improve/repair early on.
Preplanning is necessary to sell a home. You can’t change the location but you can amaze and astound buyers with the condition and the price.

Speaking of price, another job for today’s sellers is to be proactive in setting an effective price. Gone are the days when a home could be listed at a higher price and then reduced after so many days still on the market. There is no longer that high level of buyer motivation where the buyers feel the need to act quickly or they will lose their desired house to others. In order to sell a house fast, the home must be priced right or there has to be a frenzy going on and it is rare to see the latter.

There is a great potential for more reasonable housing costs to materialize with the emergence of greater seller flexibility. This trend would help the market make its upswing and would surely excite first-time home buyers.
New construction sales may continue to slide but to correct this, home builders are reducing their inventories nationwide and are dangling enticing incentives. The National Association of Home builders reported that 77 percent of builders were offering some sort of sales incentive to sell down their completed homes in December.So my New Year’s prediction is that we will see headlines this year peppered with words like “upswing” not “downturn” and “stable” not “slump.”