Bug’s Revenge!

October 11th, 2006

I’ve now shared all of these stories and photos of some of my wonderful Florida houses that get bugg-y problems (roaches, termites, rats, and all kinds of other good things), but recently something ironically sad happened…the bugs got their revenge on my pest control guy!

Rob, (Let’s call him “Rob”) was in the woods hunting for deer. He had been up in one of their little “forts” up in the trees the whole day. The next day as he climbed up to his “fort” up the ladder, he opened the door and a swarm of wasps had moved in overnight! He was taken by surprise and fell backwards, off the ladder over 10 feet up! (he later joked that he didn’t get a single sting…he was falling too fast for them to catch up to him!) Anyways, he broke his arm in 5 places, a couple of ribs, and a few other things and had to be air-lifted out by helicopter to the next STATE to a hospital! At the time everyone at the camp was worried, but once they knew it wasn’t fatal…the jokes about “the bugs got their revenge” started flying!

Moral of the story? What goes around comes around!

Picked up a check… $59,502.34!

October 2nd, 2006

Sorry I haven’t checked in for a few days…but I did pick up a big check on the 22nd of September!  I sold a property that I had owned as a rental for 3 years.  The actual profit was a little higher because I had already taken a cash-out refi about 2 years ago…but I haven’t calculated my numbers yet.

I taught a seminar this past weekend called the Junker Junket Bus Trip and it was AMAZING!  I love it when folks are eager to get started in investing and I am able to help them down that path…it is SOOOOOO satisfying to see their excitement at the possibilities!

Nothing much to report on the property side right now…Pensacola’s and Sanford’s rehab is coming along nicely, and Apopka and Pine Hills are on the market and getting some showings, but no bites yet…we are running both of those ads again this weekend to drum up some activity (actually we are thinking about keeping Pine Hills as a rental…the market seems to be around $1200 per month) and Sanford is getting tons of calls just off the sign in the yard…so I know that one will move fast when it’s finished.

Did I interrupt a date?

September 20th, 2006

Remember the roach house photos last week? Well, this is the same house…we had some other guests staying in our property that were not welcome, so we “offed” them, Soprano’s style!


Remember the photo from Sept. 13th of the backyard with the “barn” shed all overgrown? Look at it now! (gave you the before picture too!)

Cool Real Estate History Lesson

September 13th, 2006

Earlier today I made a blog entry about my cockroach house, and in the photos I threw in a cool emblem that was embedded in the driveway. We were curious about what it meant, so Stacy did a little internet research, and it’s actually kind of a cool story…to promote all-electrical houses in the 50’s, there was an ad campaign launched by General Electric with Ronald Reagan as the spokesman, because he was host of the GE Theater at the time. From what I can figure, my house was one of the first 20,000 nationwide to be a “medallion house.” I have attached 2 links here for you to check out if you are interested, one is a photo of the ad campaign with Ronald Reagan and the other is a blog entry with the history of the LBE or Live Better Electrically and the Medallion Home program. I have also attached the photo again for you, but have now decided that I am going to clean off the paint and restore it to its original shiny metal glory. I will post another photo when it’s done! I will also use this history in my marketing when this house is ready to sell…If I thought it was a cool history lesson, maybe my buyer will appreciate it too!

Live Better Electrically



Property Taxes, Oh My!

September 13th, 2006

I don’t know about everyplace else, but if you live in Florida you have recently received what is called a TRIM notice that tells you what your new assessed value is for tax purposes and approximately what your new tax bill will be.  This is the time of year where investors start to re-think their long-term investment strategy!  On the 8 properties we hold (10 units, 2 of them are duplexes) our estimated tax bill is going up $6,100! (that’s over $500 per month!)  I appealed the county on a few things (it showed a shed and there wasn’t one any more, things like that) and on my 2 duplexes I pulled comps showing what the neighborhood was selling for as well as where stuff is currently listed, and I got the values adjusted down $18,000 on one and $19,000 on the other!  That should save me about $727 this year! (the property appraiser in one of the other counties I own property in hung up on me, I guess he didn’t agree with my valuation!)

Lesson:  It’s worth a shot to appeal your valuation!  If the public records show a mistake on the features of your property, definately appeal them, they should have correct information.  If you don’t agree with the value…find out from your county what the appeals process is, and do it!

Took over a new property…German Cockroaches!

September 13th, 2006

We just got posession of a house we bought a few weeks ago (this was the one with the $3,000 hold-back if they weren’t out in time!) and I went to look at it, since I had never seen it before. Overall it looked like a pretty basic rehab, paint/flooring/new countertop/major landscaping/de-smell (oh, I wish I could upload the smell to this page to share with you!) and as I was walking around, I opened the front door and hundreds of German Cockroaches came running out of the door jamb! So I immediately called my trusty pest control guy who came right over to start treatment, because the German kind are really hard to get rid of and it will take 3-4 treatments. While he was there, he noticed some termite damage on the room addition, but he can’t get to the outside to inspect because it is too overgrown, so he will have to check later after the yard is cleaned DSC02411.JPGGerman CockroachesDSC02417.JPG They are supposed to be starting the yard cleanup today. I attached a few photos for you: overgrown yard (notice the electric meter has been pulled), cockroaches, and the medallion that was sunk in the concrete at the carport (just thought it was neat!)

How I just made $3,000 from a clause in a contract!

September 4th, 2006

I’ve always had a pretty hard-fast rule that I would not let the seller stay in the property after closing, but earlier this year, we found a good way to let them stay (just for a few weeks to pack, not long term!) but still protect yourself.  We now use a “Post-Occupancy” addendum which basically has the title company hold some of their proceeds in escrow and if they are not out by a certain date, that money gets released to me (this only works if the seller is getting money from the sale).  So here’s the one that just happened:

We closed on a house August 15th that 2 sisters were living in.  We held back $3,000 in escrow at the title company and wrote up a lease and an agreement that if they were not out by August 31st then $100 per day would be our “rent” and would be taken out of their escrow money.  It also said that if they were not out by Sunday, September 3rd (yesterday) that the whole $3,000 would be released to me and they would be holdover tenants and we would have full powers to evict.  There was also a clause that said if the place was not cleaned out and broom swept (no junk, no furniture, no food in fridge, etc.) that the actual cleaning costs to hire someone would come out of the escrow money also. (That part I learned on a deal a few months ago…I used to just put a flat $500 if it wasn’t cleaned out, but one of my recent deals cost me $1,200 to clean out ((dumpster rental was $500 alone!)) so his $500 didn’t go very far, although it’s better than zero which is what most investors put in contracts!).

Anyways, back to the $3,000…I just drove by the property and they’re still there!!!  My partner on this deal, Pat, said he spoke with them on Friday and they knew they only had the weekend, they were almost done, and they would call him to set up a walk through.  So, looks like we just upped our profit $3,000 (less a few days holding costs and whatever it costs to get them out).

I’ll keep you posted!

Oh, by the way, one of the guys giving us a bid on the Pensacola house went by on Friday and I guess some neighborhood kids broke in and vandalized the place, I don’t know how bad yet, I guess broke some of the toilets, knocked holes in the drywall…just goes to show how a vacant house carries risks…get them rehabbed and sold asap!

And the other Pensacola house I had an offer countered on last week…we revised our offer significantly downward and I guess it has been rejected…oh well!  Tim didn’t like the numbers on that one anyway.

Keep makin’ offers!


Writing a Classified Ad For Houses

August 30th, 2006

Sorry it’s been a few days since I checked in, believe it or not, the tile guy saga is still going on (would you believe he lied to us? the job wasn’t done when we went and checked!), and the broken window cost $159!

We got an offer accepted yesterday on a house just outside of Pensacola Florida, but as we were researching it…we found out that the square footage was mis-represented in the MLS listing as 1352 when it is really only 1040 plus an illegally converted (and a bad conversion job at that) garage. The comps we had been given were 1200-1300 real feet PLUS a garage, so we revised our offer based on that info, we’ll see what happens. (note, the reason we were able to revise our offer is because they had not accepted our offer exactly as it was written…they had Counter Offered that they wanted $1,000 EMD (earnest money deposit) instead of the $500 I had put on the offer, so in effect, they had “rejected” my offer and made ME and offer which I had the option to accept or reject, which I “rejected” and made them back a different offer. Until both of us agree on the exact same terms, we don’t have an agreement, or a contract.)

Anyways, this post is supposed to be about writing classifieds, so here goes: we are running classifieds for 2 of our properties this weekend in the main newspaper, and here is the first draft I was given for the ads:

Apopka – 3/1.5 with Lots of NEW + bonus room, Owner/Agent, No banks needed, Move In now! $183,900, phone number

Pine Hills – Newer roof, kitchen & carpet. 4/1 or 3/1 with lrg FR. Bath-handicap accessible, Owner/Agent, Move in Now! $149,900, phone number

Both give details on the house, including area of town, bedrooms, price, etc., but what are we emphasizing (and what SHOULD we be?)

  • Owner/Agent is a necessary evil if you are licensed, but we don’t need to flaunt it, so stick it at the end after the phone number
  • Remember, every word costs you money in a classified ad (if you go over onto another line) so take out anything that doesn’t need to be there, such as “4/1 or 3/1 plus big LR” let’s just call it a 4 bed because that’s a selling point, take out the 1 bath because that’s a negative, and get rid of the living room thing, they probably assume it has some kind of living room already!
  • Instead of “lots of new” list some of the items
  • If your property is right on the border of a more desireable location, put that in too.
  • The word “handicap” is not PC (politically correct) so lets say “wheelchair accessible” (I actually called a friend of mine who is in a wheelchair and asked him how to word the ad and flyer for this house)
  • Here’s a biggie: the biggest thing that will catch people’s attention in these ads and make the phone ring is thrown into the middle with no emphasis, “No Banks Needed!” needs to be moved right up to the headline.
  • Think like the reader of the newspaper…are they scanning looking for something that says “move in now”? probably not, so get rid of those expensive 3 words.

Here’s the ads after re-writing them:

Apopka/Lgwd- No Banks Needed! 3bed/1.5ba + bonus room. new kitchen, floors, paint $183,900, phone # Owner/Agent

Pine Hills No Banks Needed! New roof, kitchen & carpet. 4bed, wheelchair accessible $149,900, phone # Owner/Agent

Short, simple, to the point, and should make the phone ring!

Good luck with your ad writing,


Broken Window!

August 23rd, 2006

Tim went to show Country Club today to a potential buyer and the front kitchen windowBroken Window was busted out…probably just neighborhood kids, but that shows that vacant properties attract vandalism! Anyways…the couple liked the house, so now we just need to get the mortgage done for them…cross your fingers!

Update on the tile job at Thompson…he has called already 3 times today, I guess the job is done, and to quote him “I really NEED the check today” so now one of us needs to drive 30 minutes to go check out the work…as opposed to next time we are in the area like we are used to. Live and learn!

That’s a day in the life of…(but it’s only 2pm, so we’ll see!)

What’s $200 worth to you?

August 21st, 2006

I have 4 rehabs going right now, and one more that I am waiting on the sellers to move out in 9 days, then I’ll have 5 going. I needed bad tile ripped up and new tile laid at the one on Thompson Rd, so I called my normal flooring company and they quoted me $4 a foot, for a total invoice of about $1,800. My handyman’s assistant’s boyfriend had just gone into the tile installation biz for himself after 10 years of working for someone else, so we decided to give him a shot and save a few hundred dollars. He gave me a shopping list to go to Lowe’s and buy tile and thinset (would have been included in the other bid) so it took an hour there getting someone to bring the tile to our truck, which sank to the axels when they loaded the pallet (I thought Tim was going to die!) then we drove to the house (30 minutes from us) and the tile guy had already left, so we had to unload 42 boxes of tile ourselves, but we were on our way to a meeting, so we went to the meeting sweaty! Then he calls and asks for an advance…I usually only pay when the job is done, but he had torn out all the tile already, and he said he needed money for the dump fees (and money for supplies, but I had already bought everything…go figure!). So, I gave him $300.

Today (8/21) he calls and asks where the grout is…he never told me he needed grout (there’s another trip to Lowe’s and a 30 minute drive and another receipt), I thought that was included in the bid (it’s included with my normal tile company) and now he is asking for money to go to the dump (which is what I thought the first $300 was covering), and now he says he needs money to cover fixing what the handyman had messed up on the backer board for the tile counter top (no, we don’t usually do tile, but laminate comes in 12 foot lengths, and this is a 12.5 foot run of counter, and no, that was not in our original figures on the repairs).

So, anyways, to sum up…to save $200, I have now spent almost 2 hours at Lowe’s and 2 round-trips to the house (30 minutes each way) is another 2 hours, and add up all the nickels and dimes he’s adding…and, I haven’t even seen the quality of his work yet!
Next time I’ll have my regular tile guy do the work, he measures, delivers, does all the work, and sends me a bill when it’s all over…my 4 hours of time could have been spent more efficiently somewhere else (like making offers!).

Lesson Learned: If you have good tradesman…let them do the work, don’t try to save a few bucks, it will backfire on you most of the time.