The Top 5 Key Benefits of Purchasing and Owning Investment Real Estate

So… You may ask yourself, why should you buy or invest in real estate in the First Place? Because it’s the IDEAL investment! Let’s take a moment to address the reasons why people should have investment real estate in the first place. The easiest answer is a well-known acronym that addresses the key benefits for all investment real estate. Put simply, Investment Real Estate is an IDEAL investment. The IDEAL stands for:

• I – Income
• D – Depreciation
• E – Expenses
• A – Appreciation
• L – Leverage

Real estate is the IDEAL investment compared to all others. I’ll explain each benefit in depth.

The “I” in IDEAL stands for Income. (a.k.a. positive cash flow) Does it even generate income? Your investment property should be generating income from rents received each month. Of course, there will be months where you may experience a vacancy, but for the most part your investment will be producing an income. Be careful because many times beginning investors exaggerate their assumptions and don’t take into account all potential costs. The investor should know going into the purchase that the property will COST money each month (otherwise known as negative cash flow). This scenario, although not ideal, may be OK, only in specific instances that we will discuss later. It boils down to the risk tolerance and ability for the owner to fund and pay for a negative producing asset. In the boom years of real estate, prices were sky high and the rents didn’t increase proportionately with many residential real estate investment properties. Many naïve investors purchased properties with the assumption that the appreciation in prices would more than compensate for the fact that the high balance mortgage would be a significant negative impact on the funds each month. Be aware of this and do your best to forecast a positive cash flow scenario, so that you can actually realize the INCOME part of the IDEAL equation.

Often times, it may require a higher down payment (therefore lesser amount being mortgaged) so that your cash flow is acceptable each month. Ideally, you eventually pay off the mortgage so there is no question that cash flow will be coming in each month, and substantially so. This ought to be a vital component to one’s retirement plan. Do this a few times and you won’t have to worry about money later on down the road, which is the main goal as well as the reward for taking the risk in purchasing investment property in the first place.

The “D” in IDEAL Stands for Depreciation. With investment real estate, you are able to utilize its depreciation for your own tax benefit. What is depreciation anyway? It’s a non-cost accounting method to take into account the overall financial burden incurred through real estate investment. Look at this another way, when you buy a brand new car, the minute you drive off the lot, that car has depreciated in value. When it comes to your investment real estate property, the IRS allows you to deduct this amount yearly against your taxes. Please note: I am not a tax professional, so this is not meant to be a lesson in taxation policy or to be construed as tax advice.

With that said, the depreciation of a real estate investment property is determined by the overall value of the structure of the property and the length of time (recovery period based on the property type-either residential or commercial). If you have ever gotten a property tax bill, they usually break your property’s assessed value into two categories: one for the value of the land, and the other for the value of the structure. Both of these values added up equals your total “basis” for property taxation. When it comes to depreciation, you can deduct against your taxes on the original base value of the structure only; the IRS doesn’t allow you to depreciate land value (because land is typically only APPRECIATING). Just like your new car driving off the lot, it’s the structure on the property that is getting less and less valuable every year as its effective age gets older and older. And you can use this to your tax advantage. The best example of the benefit regarding this concept is through depreciation, you can actually turn a property that creates a positive cash flow into one that shows a loss (on paper) when dealing with taxes and the IRS. And by doing so, that (paper) loss is deductible against your income for tax purposes. Therefore, it’s a great benefit for people that are specifically looking for a “tax-shelter” of sorts for their real estate investments.

For example, and without getting too technical, assume that you are able to depreciate $15,000 a year from a $500,000 residential investment property that you own. Let’s say that you are cash-flowing $1,000 a month (meaning that after all expenses, you are net-positive $1000 each month), so you have $12,000 total annual income for the year from this property’s rental income. Although you took in $12,000, you can show through your accountancy with the depreciation of the investment real estate that you actually lost $3,000 on paper, which is used against any income taxes that you may owe. From the standpoint of IRS, this property realized a loss of $3,000 after the “expense” of the $15,000 depreciation amount was taken into account. Not only are there no taxes due on that rental income, you can utilize the paper loss of $3,000 against your other regular taxable income from your day-job. Investment property at higher price points will have proportionally higher tax-shelter qualities. Investors use this to their benefit in being able to deduct as much against their taxable amount owed each year through the benefit of depreciation with their underlying real estate investment.

Although this is a vastly important benefit to owning investment real estate, the subject is not well understood. Because depreciation is a somewhat complicated tax subject, the above explanation was meant to be cursory in nature. When it comes to issues involving taxes and depreciation, make sure you have a tax professional that can advise you appropriately so you know where you stand.

The “E” in IDEAL is for Expenses – Generally, all expenses incurred relating to the property are deductible when it comes to your investment property. The cost for utilities, the cost for insurance, the mortgage, and the interest and property taxes you pay. If you use a property manager or if you’re repairing or improving the property itself, all of this is deductible. Real estate investment comes with a lot of expenses, duties, and responsibilities to ensure the investment property itself performs to its highest capability. Because of this, contemporary tax law generally allows that all of these related expenses are deductible to the benefit of the investment real estate landowner. If you were to ever take a loss, or purposefully took a loss on a business investment or investment property, that loss (expense) can carry over for multiple years against your income taxes. For some people, this is an aggressive and technical strategy. Yet it’s another potential benefit of investment real estate.

The “A” in IDEAL is for Appreciation – Appreciation means the growth of value of the underlying investment. It’s one of the main reasons that we invest in the first place, and it’s a powerful way to grow your net worth. Many homes in the city of San Francisco are several million dollars in today’s market, but back in the 1960s, the same property was worth about the cost of the car you are currently driving (probably even less!). Throughout the years, the area became more popular and the demand that ensued caused the real estate prices in the city to grow exponentially compared to where they were a few decades ago. People that were lucky enough to recognize this, or who were just in the right place at the right time and continued to live in their home have realized an investment return in the 1000’s of percent. Now that’s what appreciation is all about. What other investment can make you this kind of return without drastically increased risk? The best part about investment real estate is that someone is paying you to live in your property, paying off your mortgage, and creating an income (positive cash flow) to you each month along the way throughout your course of ownership.

The “L” in IDEAL stands for Leverage – A lot of people refer to this as “OPM” (other people’s money). This is when you are using a small amount of your money to control a much more expensive asset. You are essentially leveraging your down payment and gaining control of an asset that you would normally not be able to purchase without the loan itself. Leverage is much more acceptable in the real estate world and inherently less risky than leverage in the stock world (where this is done through means of options or buying “on Margin”). Leverage is common in real estate. Otherwise, people would only buy property when they had 100% of the cash to do so. Over a third of all purchase transactions are all-cash transactions as our recovery continues. Still, about 2/3 of all purchases are done with some level of financing, so the majority of buyers in the market enjoy the power that leverage can offer when it comes to investment real estate.

For example, if a real estate investor was to buy a house that costs $100,000 with 10% down payment, they are leveraging the remaining 90% through the use of the associated mortgage. Let’s say the local market improves by 20% over the next year, and therefore the actual property is now worth $120,000. When it comes to leverage, from the standpoint of this property, its value increased by 20%. But compared to the investor’s actual down payment (the “skin in the game”) of $10,000- this increase in property value of 20% really means the investor doubled their return on the investment actually made-also known as the “cash on cash” return. In this case, that is 200%-because the $10,000 is now responsible and entitled to a $20,000 increase in overall value and the overall potential profit.

Although leverage is considered a benefit, like everything else, there can always be too much of a good thing. In 2007, when the real estate market took a turn for the worst, many investors were over-leveraged and fared the worst. They could not weather the storm of a correcting economy. Exercising caution with every investment made will help to ensure that you can purchase, retain, pay-off debt, and grow your wealth from the investment decisions made as opposed to being at the mercy and whim of the overall market fluctuations. Surely there will be future booms and busts as the past would dictate as we continue to move forward. More planning and preparing while building net worth will help prevent getting bruised and battered by the side effects of whatever market we find ourselves in. Many people think that investment real estate is only about cash flow and appreciation, but it’s so much more than that. As mentioned above, you can realize several benefits through each real estate investment property you purchase. The challenge is to maximize the benefits through every investment.

Furthermore, the IDEAL acronym is not just a reminder of the benefits of investment real estate; it’s also here to serve as a guide for every investment property you will consider purchasing in the future. Any property you purchase should conform to all of the letters that represent the IDEAL acronym. The underlying property should have a good reason for not fitting all the guidelines. And in almost every case, if there is an investment you are considering that doesn’t hit all the guidelines, by most accounts you should probably PASS on it!

Take for example a story of my own, regarding a property that I purchased early on in my real estate career. To this day, it’s the biggest investment mistake that I’ve made, and it’s precisely because I didn’t follow the IDEAL guidelines that you are reading and learning about now. I was naïve and my experience was not yet fully developed. The property I purchased was a vacant lot in a gated community development. The property already had an HOA (a monthly maintenance fee) because of the nice amenity facilities that were built for it, and in anticipation of would-be-built homes. There were high expectations for the future appreciation potential-but then the market turned for the worse as we headed into the great recession that lasted from 2007-2012. Can you see what parts of the IDEAL guidelines I missed on completely?

Let’s start with “I”. The vacant lot made no income! Sometimes this can be acceptable, if the deal is something that cannot be missed. But for the most part this deal was nothing special. In all honesty, I’ve considered selling the trees that are currently on the vacant lot to the local wood mill for some actual income, or putting up a camping spot ad on the local Craigslist; but unfortunately the lumber isn’t worth enough and there are better spots to camp! My expectations and desire for price appreciation blocked the rational and logical questions that needed to be asked. So, when it came to the income aspect of the IDEAL guidelines for a real estate investment, I paid no attention to it. And I paid the price for my hubris. Furthermore, this investment failed to realize the benefit of depreciation as you cannot depreciate land! So, we are zero for two so far, with the IDEAL guideline to real estate investing. All I can do is hope the land appreciates to a point where it can be sold one day. Let’s call it an expensive learning lesson. You too will have these “learning lessons”; just try to have as few of them as possible and you will be better off.

When it comes to making the most of your real estate investments, ALWAYS keep the IDEAL guideline in mind to make certain you are making a good decision and a solid investment.

5 Reasons Why People Fail in Business

Do you ever worry that your business will fail? It’s hard to contemplate failure, especially when you’re working so hard and want so much to be successful.

Considering failure is valuable, though, because the very ingredients that make for business failure can be transformed into business success.

Here are 5 ingredients that go into the mix of business failure, and how you can transform them for your own business success:

1. Unclear purpose

Here’s the thing: the more clarity you have about what you want, the more likely you are to get it. In your business, having little or no focus on anything but making a profit results in scattered effort and less effectiveness. Ironically, it leads to less money too.

Transformation: Clear Purpose

Have you ever been part of something greater than just you and your self-interest? Feels great, right? The reason it does is that we are actually built that way. We are motivated, and can accomplish great things in service of something bigger than ourselves. It’s no different for your business. Define your greater purpose. Define the impact you want to have in your business, your community, and the larger world. Then you’ll have clarity and energy to do more with your business. You’ll have the motivation to pull through tough times, for even greater success.

Communicate that impact purpose to your prospects and customers. People are drawn to businesses with a higher purpose.

2. Destructive thinking

A day at work filled with thoughts about imminent failure and negative perceptions of people’s motives will drain you and your motivation, and ultimately, kill your business. Not only that, destructive thinking also negatively affects your health and even your life span. Transformation: Constructive Thinking

Your thinking affects your actions in your business and everywhere else in your life. Optimistic thinking followed by persistent action leads to better results. If you’re not naturally inclined that way, the good news is that you can learn optimism. Problems become less personal, the size of the problem more realistic, and the fleeting nature of problems more clear.

You can support your constructive thinking with a daily ritual that includes mindfulness (e.g., meditation, breathing exercises), visualization (mentally rehearsing your desired outcomes), and affirmations, including gratitude. Schedule your daily ritual in. You can do this in 15 minutes, and it will make a great difference, especially as a start to your day.

3. Unproductive action

Low productivity means you can be working all day for days on end without moving closer to business success. We’re in a culture of busy-ness, and it’s tempting to fill our hours without thinking too much about whether the actions are in themselves valuable.

Transformation: Productive Action

Productivity begins with focusing your actions on your impact. Will this help me to be more impactful? Is it aligned with my impact purpose?

A quick overview of powerfully effective strategies for productive action:

· Plan before you begin each day. Plan the night before if you can.

· Do the most impactful thing first, so you always have some progress each day.

· Rush unimportant tasks. Set a time limit on each job to help move you through it more quickly.

· Delegate. Allowing others the opportunity to offer what they do well in areas that are not your strengths is a great service to them, and a great time-creator for you.

· Segment your time, then rest. I work in 50 minute blocks, followed by 10 minutes doing something completely different to rejuvenate. Find the time frame that works for you.

No doubt about it, choosing productive actions requires discipline. And in the best way! Discipline serves you by helping you to choose the things that will help you reach your business goals and be successful.

4. Constricted connection

It can feel comforting to stick with your close circle and not expand further. It takes work to reach out and maintain new connections. Staying with your same small comfortable group, though, will hold you back in your business.

The quality of your connections matter too. Are you surrounding yourself with negative people? People who aren’t as interested in success as you are? Who you spend time with matters.

Transformation: Expanding Circle of Connection

Expanding your circle of connection is one of the most powerful things you can do for your business success. The more people you know, the more likely you are to learn new things. They also become a source of inspiration, and more connections that can help you in your business. People love to be helpful. Give them that gift of asking for and receiving their help.Find and welcome the support you need to be successful. Learn from an experienced business person as a mentor or coach. Reach out to people you admire and ask them questions. Make this a regular practice.

5. Money obsession

It can be tempting to become too focused on money. First, our culture encourages it. It’s considered a good thing to accumulate stuff. And you need money for that. The thing is, money and stuff don’t bring you happiness or vitality.

Second, if business isn’t going well, you can become hyperfocused on money and leave your values behind in order to make a profit.

Transformation: Money Health

Instead of focusing on money, focus on connections with people and with your purpose instead. Helping others in your business is what will bring you business success that is both healthy and sustainable.

Find balance and harmony around money. Yes, it’s important to know where you stand with money. But money is only a tool. Instead of loving money, love yourself and others. That is key to business success.

These 5 reasons why people fail in business don’t have to be a recipe for failure. Instead, you can transform them into success.

Gadgets and Gizmos

Buying the latest gadgets and gizmos is one of those major highs for the techno savvy that has few parallels. In particular if they are high tech gadgets or computer gadgets. The mere announcement of the tablet display, sized at 7″, by Apple has all computer aficionados in a whirl. The screen of this new device is practically the size of the gizmo itself. All in all as far as high tech gadgets go, this one promises to be a delectable blend of design and ingenuity.

Those hooked on acquiring the latest gadgets and gizmos, and who feel that Nook, Kindle and the like are old hat, now can revel in the world’s first dual screen device – the enTourage eDGe. It combines a notepad, notebook, e-reader, and video/audio recorder and player in one Linux with Google Android OS device. What does it do? Much of what you might want to at any given time – web surf, read an e-book, get email, watch movies or listen to music from anywhere. Essentially this is a student-friendly device aimed at freeing them from carrying books and notebooks. Since it is first and foremost an e-reader, the glare-free screen, zooming features, and the ability for a person to read in sunlight make it a particularly desirable gizmo. There is a journal page that can be opened and used by hand or with the help of a virtual keyboard – very useful for taking notes. This feature is enabled by e-ink technology, which further allows people to make notes on the book they are reading.

If latest computer gadgets are what you are hooked on, there are quite a few in the market just now. The Lenovo Multimedia Remote with 2.4GHz Wireless Keyboard comes in a compact style. Once connected, this multimedia remote can be used for using multimedia controls on the PC like with Windows Media Center. There is also the Bear Extender n3 which Rokland Technologies has recently rolled out. It is a long-range 802.11n high-powered wireless adapter for Macs that offers up to four times the range of standard Apple-branded Airport wireless cards. The Wi-Fi adapter combines 802.11n compatibility with a powerful 700mW Wi-Fi radio that enables the device to pick up 802.11g and 802.11b signals from long distances.

Hiking The Yellow Mountain Trail

This light trail alone can only take a3.6-mile hike, however you may combine this with Mill Shoals Trail through an access point at the Cooper Creek Trail which makes it a 6-mile hike. It starts at 300 yards south of the Cooper Creek Recreation Area on FR 236 within the Lumpkin and Union County. The trail head is at the north end of the parking area and begins an easy climb to the Yellow Mountain where some stunning views await each and every hiker. Regular training exercises are also done here so check with the Camp Frank D. Merrill in Dahlonega to see its schedule of activities. The trail is marked with yellow blazes and there are campsites available seasonally at the Cooper Creek Recreation Area campground. To get here, start at GA 60 which is north of the Dahlonega for approximately 22 miles and then turn right following another 0.8 of a mile along the Forest Service Road 33. After which, make a left turn and follow Forest Service Road 236 for 3 miles to the 14. The trailhead is on the western edge of Cooper Creek Scenic area.

The pathway then leads to a forest of hardwoods such as white pines and hemlocks and at 1.5 miles from the trail’s start, the treadway splits into two separate trails. On the left, the Shope Gap trail marked with green blazes proceeds to another 0.9 of a mile along the ridge onto the Shope Gap where it crosses a creek and ends at the Bryant Creek Road.

On the right running a southeast direction, the Yellow Mountain Trail proceeds to the right fork across the Bryant Creek. The pathway then leads to the Addie Gap at around 2.7 miles. The hike then makes an ascent to the eastern hemlock as it enters into an open forest of oak trees. You will also find lines of shortleaf pine trees as the path rises to a ridge crest. The pathway leads to a junction with the Cooper Creek Trail which is marked by blue blazes at around 1 mile. The pathway then makes a descent to the left connecting to the Mill Shoals Trail and continues to a climb to the top of Yellow Mountain. This section is marked with large green blazes at an elevation of 2,963 feet. The trail then finally leads hikers to the Shope Gap on Duncan Ridge FS 39. The Mill Shoals Trail can be taken at this point by turning left onto the FS39 following the trail’s orange blazes.