INFORMATION OF INTEREST
TO REAL ESTATE INVESTORS
worked with Gadberry Group, a business location company, to identify communities
in every state that have experienced the largest growth. The results were
published in a report called "America's Biggest Boomtowns."
The top ten fastest-growing communities:
1. Summerlin South, Nev., 618 percent
2. Katy, Texas, 168 percent
3. Wentzville, Mo., 160 percent
4. Spring Hill, Tenn., 157 percent
5. South Carolina, 156 percent
6. Brighton, Colo., 153 percent
7. Wesley Chapel, Fla., 151 percent
8. Lehi, Utah, 110 percent
9. Canton, Ga., 99 percent
10. Oswego, Ill., 98 percent
you think you are having a rough day with your real estate investments, check
out this video of a guy with no limbs living his daily life: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0DxlJWJ_WfA
Investing in a Tenants-in-Common (TIC) deal read this WSJ
Your Money When Paying Contractors By:
"rehabbing for profit" videos that show three different types of
projects (full, partial and cosmetic) that I'm currently working on. The article
describes how to manage contractors effectively to maximize your profits. Enjoy!
In any business you, have honest people and you have crooks. The real estate
its fair share of crooks. You must learn how to protect yourself. In every
sector of the real estate
business, you have people plotting to beat you out of your money. At times this
may include the
Here For Rehab Video 1 <--- FULL REHAB PROJECT
Here For Rehab Video 2 <--- COSMETIC REHAB PROJECT
Here For Rehab Video 3 <--- PARTIAL REHAB PROJECT
mortgage broker, the real estate attorney, the home inspector and of course, the
When I use the word "contractor", I'm referring to general
contractors, sub-contractors or any
other person you hire to do work on your rehab project. This article will
help you spend your
money with contractors wisely so you always maintain your leverage. I had to
learn this important
point the hard way.
One of the schemes to be on the look out for with contractors is the
"deposit scheme." Many
contractors require a deposit before they will start working on your project. I
am now very
hesitant about giving a deposit to a contractor unless he has proven himself to
The deposit request varies -- some ask for 10% down, others ask for half of the
Half of the contract amount can turn into a sizable sum of money; particularly
before they get
started and for someone you barely know. If you give in, you expose yourself to
a lot of financial
risk and take some of the contractor's incentive away for getting a fast start.
If the contractor
runs away with your money you've probably blown a significant portion of your
If you feel uncomfortable (as do I) paying such a high deposit to a contractor
here are some things
you can do.
Negotiate: Explain to the contractor that
you feel uncomfortable given him such a hefty down
payment. Ask if he is willing to reduce the deposit.
References: Ask him to produce
references/phone numbers for some of his customers. If he can
not, don't use him. If he can provide you with references I suggest you call the
people and ask
them about the contractor's honesty, timeliness, quality, responsiveness, etc.
Given the opportunity,
I also suggest you go by their house to find out what kind of work he does.
Pay By Progression: This is the
best way to protect yourself from being beat out of your money. Tell the contractor that you are only willing to pay after you have inspected
the work and determined
it is of the quality you expect. If the contractor's issue is covering his
upfront out-of-pocket expenses
(permits, drawings, etc) pay him when he produces receipts. If he has no
"working capital" (credit
or cash) to cover these expenses for a few days, his cash management is poor and
other aspects of
his operation may be poor. Once he agrees to accept the pay by progression
method you need to set
up logical inspection and payment intervals. It may work to both parties
advantage to do it more
frequently in the beginning in order to establish communication and reasonable
For example, the terms may specify that he work for 3 full days, after the 3rd
day you will inspect
the property and cut him a check based on the amount of work he has performed.
Most importantly you always want to be in a position of leverage. (Leverage,
according to the
American Heritage Dictionary: having the positional advantage.) Having the
is exactly where you want to be when dealing with contractors. How else do you
Retainage, and here is how it works. When you retain a contractor to do a
complete renovation job
you will agree to pay him at different stages. For instance when the framing is
completed you will
forward him a draw. When the drywall is completed you will forward him another
draw, and so on.
Each project will require a series of draws. You may agree to forward him $2,000
after the framing
is completed and inspected.
Here's another way retainage plays its part. To remain in a position of leverage
you may want to
include in the contract a Retainage Clause. This clause will state that you hold
back 10% from each draw. (If the framing draw is for $2,000, this means you will
hold back $200). Plan to withhold a retainage from
every draw, before you know it you will have a sizable amount of money owed to
the contractor. The more money you have retained from the contractor over the life of the job
the more leverage
you will have. Importantly, under no circumstances is this money released to the
the job is complete. If he quits, is fired, or cannot finish the job this money
is yours to keep. Warning: do not use this leverage unfairly or your poor reputation will begin to
cost you money.
This technique should only be used to protect your investment.
Another variation on retainage is a simple technique of. making it a habit of
paying less than the
work performed until the job is completed to your satisfaction. Let's say the
contractor is charging
you $1,000 to tile your kitchen floor. It's Friday and he requests a draw to pay
his workers. The
kitchen is only 50% completed. Under this situation you should only pay him
$400. This means
you are $ 100. in debt to him. It's better this way than having him owe you
money or work. If he
abandons the job you are slightly ahead. Under this situation he has a sense of
urgency to finish
the job and is less likely to abandon it because you have some leverage.
© 2008 New Jack Investor Inc.
Entrepreneur Kenny Rushing publishes the 'Flip Your Life' bi-weekly ezine with
8,000+ subscribers. If you're ready to jump-start your real estate
career, make more money, and have more fun, get your FREE tips now at www.newjackinvestor.com/freebook
Ilyce R. Glink
A reader asks if now is a good time to become a landlord. How can the potential
landlord learn about the rental
property market in his area? If you’re considering becoming
a landlord you should educate yourself about foreclosures, local rental
information and investment properties. If you become a landlord you will become
Start by taking a look at all of the properties that are
on the market now and that are competitive with the types of rental properties
you already own. Visit the open houses, so you know what your competition for
sale or rentals looks like. Find a great real
estate agent who has been working in the area for a long
enough time to have seen at least one other down market cycle, or someone new
enough who is so starving for business that he or she will work harder than
anyone else to get you the information you need to make a smart investment
If the area is filled with foreclosures,
then you'll need someone on your investment team to help you track how much
these properties are selling for and how long the timetable for those
foreclosure sales is taking.
Once you start to visit these properties, look at the
sales data, and pull some rental information, you'll know whether these
properties will meet your investment needs.
In general, I can tell you that if you don't mind being a
landlord, and you have the cash and available credit to purchase properties,
it's starting to be an excellent time to buy. There have been twice as many foreclosures
this year as last, and if this pace continues, more than 1 million properties
will fall into foreclosure in 2008.
Lenders have started to unload some of these properties
at advantageous prices, which usually bodes well as a long-term hold. The
big-time residential property
investors I know are buying up good properties for good
As far as renting out these properties goes, it's tough
to command a high price at the moment. But if you can afford to carry them
through the tough times, I think you'll enjoy long-term appreciation. Also, as
fewer people can afford to buy, they'll look to rent, and landlords will once
As a general rule, some real
estate investments may be better than others. In some areas,
you may be able to buy single family homes but may not find a market for buyers
or renters. You need to gauge the market conditions to see whether people are
interested in rentals in a particular area and what those conditions are. If you
buy a single family home in an area with many foreclosures and vacancies and few
rentals, you may not be able to rent the home even if you buy it at a low price.
I wouldn't plan on making a killing in the short run and
please remember there are risks involved in investing in real estate. It's just
about what you feel you can comfortably carry for the next few years.
Dos and don'ts of holding home's title in LLC
What investors with multiple homes need to know
Kass, Monday, April 21, 2008.
DEAR BENNY: I own several single-family rental homes .In talking to
advisors, one says I should put the houses into LLCs for liability protection.
Another said, don't bother. If you get sued, your liability protection on your
homeowners policy plus your umbrella policy will cover you. Obviously, the
latter provides only attorney and possible judgment costs, but does the LLC
really keep you from being sued, or protect you if you are sued, so that you
would not need to use the umbrella policy? --Bruce
DEAR BRUCE. It is my understanding that an umbrella policy is not that
costly, so I would recommend that you consider both options: Get the umbrella
policy and put all of your rental properties in separate limited liability
The concept of limited liability companies (LLC) is relatively new --
probably started in the 1980s. Its primary purpose is to insulate the property
owner from personal liability should there be a court judgment against the
property. For example, if a child was injured because of lead paint in the
property and a judgment was entered against the LLC, if the proper procedures
for maintaining a LLC were kept, it would be difficult -- if not impossible --
for that judgment to attach personally against the member (or members) of that
This column does not permit a lengthy explanation of what an LLC is and how
it works. However, if you own several properties, each should be held in a
separate LLC. Otherwise, a judgment against the LLC will impact on all of the
properties that are held by that LLC.
Some basic rules to preserve the independence of an LLC: (1) Do not
commingle your own funds with that of the LLC; (2) If you are the sole member
of the LLC -- or its managing member -- make sure that whenever you sign any
papers, you add the word "member" after your signature. You want to
make sure that the world understands that you are not acting in your own
capacity but only as the representative of the LLC.
It would even be helpful to have at least two members for the LLC. Clever
attorneys may be able to "pierce the corporate veil" of a
DEAR BENNY: I have heard about something called CLUE that involves
homeowners insurance, but never could find out about it. Can you help me out
and direct me to where to look? It has something to do with how often or how
many times your house has had claims against it. --Gail
DEAR GAIL: C.L.U.E. stands for "Comprehensive Loss Underwriting
Exchange." You can find more information on this Web site: www.choicetrust.com.
According to Choice Trust, the C.L.U.E. Personal Property report provides a
five-year history of losses associated with an individual and his/her personal
property. The following data will be identified for each loss: date of loss,
loss type, and amount paid along with general information such as policy
number, claim number and insurance company name.
It is similar to a credit reporting company, but reports solely on problems
involving your home.
Several years ago, I had a client who purchased her house and obtained home
insurance coverage. However, one week after she took title to the property,
the insurance company cancelled the policy based on a CLUE report that showed
a serious flaw in the house five years earlier. We resolved the issue, when we
convinced the insurance carrier that this flaw had long been corrected.
My personal opinion: This is a complete invasion of a homeowner's privacy.
I suggest that you also go to www.privacyrights.org
where a lot more helpful information can be found.
Homeowners -- and potential home buyers -- are advised to get a report on
the house before buying or selling. It can be obtained on the Choice Trust Web
- Risks and trends in lending
- Lending environment
- Expected capital flows to real estate
- Economic trends, and more
Don't buy home without inspection contingency
Six hidden property flaws to look for
If you're buying a home, the last thing you want is an expensive surprise.
Unfortunately, most things that can go wrong with a house tend to pack a
powerful punch in the wallet.
If you have to replace your hot water heater, expect to spend upwards of
$600. If you have to replace your furnace or central air conditioner, you could
spend twice that or more. Even seemingly small problems, such as burst pipes,
badly wired outlets or cracked paint, can cause a slow leak in your financial
And since home buyers typically spend just about every penny they have buying
the house, but often fail to plan for even the regular and ordinary expenses
associated with owning and maintaining a home, these kinds of surprises can weak
havoc on a budget.
This is why it's so important for home buyers to have a professional home
inspector do an inspection of the house from top to bottom, including all
But having a home inspector find things that are wrong with your house won't
matter if you don't include a home inspection contingency as part of your
An inspection contingency is an addendum to a contract that gives buyers the
right to have a professional house inspector or other third party examine the
property within a certain period of time after the agreement to purchase has
The point of the contingency is to protect you from purchasing a home that
may have serious structural problems or material defects that aren't plainly
visible. If you have a home inspection contingency in your contract and find
something terribly wrong with the home, you can walk away from the deal.
For sellers, home inspection contingencies are a stress-inducing ("Will
my house pass inspection?") but necessary part of the home-selling process.
A proper home inspection takes two to four hours, depending on the size of
the property and the complexity of any issues that are uncovered. In addition to
a regular home inspection, you might choose to add other inspections to the
inspection contingency, including:
- Radon. An odorless substance that rises from the ground,
radon has been shown to have negative effects on the development and growth
of children. You can get rid of radon by opening a basement window or
introducing a ventilation system that allows fresh air to circulate, but you
need to know if it is there.
- Asbestos. Asbestos is a hazardous material that was
frequently used as a fire retardant and as pipe insulation. But asbestos can
cause lung cancer, and it is expensive and difficult to remove.
- Lead. Sellers are required to disclose to buyers if they
have lead paint in their house. There are inexpensive swipe tests that you
can do to see if there is lead in the paint or water. Or, you can hire a
lead inspector to provide a full report.
- Toxic Substances. If the property is located near a gas
station, dry cleaners, dump or other waste disposal facility, you may wish
to have a specialist take soil samples to determine if your property is
contaminated by any toxic substances. You can also send a sample of the
water to a laboratory.
- Structural engineer. If the property has a crack in the
foundation wider than 1/8 inch, or if the doorways are misaligned, you may
wish to hire a structural engineer to determine if the property has severe,
moderate or normal structural issues. This type of inspection is
increasingly common in places like earthquake-prone Southern California,
although you may wish to hire one if you are uneasy about the structural
integrity of the home.
- Pests. Worried about uninvited guests? You can hire an
inspector who specializes in pests, including termites, mice, rats, roaches,
carpenter ants, chipmunks and other things you'd rather not have in your
Your contingency must be in writing, and it must allow you to cancel your
deal and get your good faith deposit back, if the property fails to pass
Don't think that your inspection contingency gives you a free pass to cancel
the deal for any reason. All houses (even newly built ones) will have some minor
issues. Canceling the deal without allowing the seller to attempt to fix the
problem (or reduce the purchase price) isn't a very nice thing to do.
Tax Strategy for Real Estate Hits Some Rocky Turf
By Peter Lattman and Kemba Dunham
From The Wall Street Journal Online
A popular tax-deferral trick for real-estate investors is facing scrutiny as
key middlemen in the strategy run into financial trouble.
The problems are starting to leave investors with significant losses, and
raising the possibility of increased oversight of a lightly regulated corner of
the real-estate investment world. In at least one instance, a firm that helps
investors defer taxes this way is facing allegations of fraud.
The strategy, known as a 1031 exchange, lets investors who sell investment
properties defer capital-gains taxes if they invest the proceeds in "like
kind" property within 180 days. To qualify for the benefit, the seller
can't touch the money from the sale. Instead, the funds must go into an account
until they are used for the purchase of a new property.
That's where the money can be vulnerable.
These exchanges have been around for nearly 90 years, but their popularity
has increased in the past decade as the number of real-estate investors has
exploded. A 2005 study by Deloitte Tax LLP found that 1031 exchange transactions
in 2003 totaled about $200 billion in value, the most recent data available.
The accounts for 1031 exchanges are typically handled by a party called a
"qualified intermediary," also called an accommodator or facilitator.
While many so-called QIs are part of banks or title-insurance companies, the QI
business is largely unregulated. There are hundreds of independent QI businesses
across the country.
Furthermore, a QI can do virtually anything with the funds in its possession,
subject to its agreement with the taxpayer. "There isn't any kind of
prohibition in the tax code that says where those dollars can be placed,"
says John King, senior vice president at a subsidiary of Fidelity National
Financial Inc. in Jacksonville, Fla. that serves as a qualified intermediary.
The past several months have seen at least two big cases of independent QIs
running into trouble. One case involves a businessman named Donald McGhan and
his two qualified-intermediary companies, Southwest Exchange Inc., based in
Henderson, Nev., and Qualified Exchange Services Inc., based in Santa Barbara,
Mr. McGhan and his companies allegedly misappropriated more than $95 million
of customers' proceeds to fund other business and personal activities, according
to a lawsuit brought earlier this year by several aggrieved investors and now in
federal court in Los Angeles.
The lawsuit alleges that Southwest was a Ponzi scheme in which Mr. McGhan
allegedly took QI funds belonging to more than 130 clients, in part to finance
investments in a company that manufactures silicone-breast implants.
Mark Dzarnoski, a lawyer at Gentile DePalma Ltd. in Las Vegas, who represents
Mr. McGhan, says "the plaintiffs in these lawsuits have used inflammatory
language referring to people as 'thieves' and alleging the stealing of money,
but the real issue under the law is what qualified intermediaries are able to do
with the money they receive from their customers."
Another case involves 1031 Tax Group LLC, which filed for bankruptcy
protection in New York on May 14. More than 300 investors across the country are
owed an estimated $151 million by 1031 Tax Group, according to court filings.
The company's owner, Edward Okun of Miami, borrowed money from 1031 Tax Group
to fund real-estate investments made by Investment Properties of America,
another company controlled by Mr. Okun, according to a sworn affidavit made by
Jim Lukenda of Huron Consulting Group, which was recently brought in to help
restructure the company. Mr. Okun has acquired six regional QIs over the past
two years; all are affiliated with the 1031 Tax Group. Federal prosecutors in
Richmond, Va., have begun a preliminary investigation into the case, court
"Mr. Okun has done absolutely nothing wrong," said Michael J.
Rosen, a lawyer in Miami representing him. "And by voluntarily placing the
company into bankruptcy he took the appropriate steps to protect his customers,
though I understand their being upset."
Candace Graham, a real-estate investor from Portola Valley, Calif., is owed
roughly $3.3 million by 1031 Tax Group, according to a bankruptcy court filing.
In February, Ms. Graham, 58 years old, sold an office building and, to defer
taxes, placed the proceeds with a subsidiary of the 1031 Tax Group but hasn't
been able to gain access to the funds to buy another property.
Because her deferral strategy fell apart, she faces the prospect of a
capital-gains bill. "I have no idea how I will pay the government
now," said Ms. Graham.
Clarissa Potter, deputy chief counsel of the Internal Revenue Service, says
the agency is following the trouble. "We know taxpayers may face
disruptions when an intermediary cannot meet its obligations," she says.
People involved in the market note that it is large and diverse. The actions
"of a few persons should not taint either the broad 1031 market, which
allows taxpayers to save significant taxes legally, or the honest QIs who
provide a useful service at low cost," says Richard Lipton, a tax lawyer at
Baker & McKenzie in Chicago.
Michael Halloran, chief executive officer of Nationwide Exchange Services, an
independent qualified intermediary with about $10 billion in exchange activity
in 2006, says, "You have an industry that is growing up and changing, and
something has to be the catalyst for that change."
QI businesses make money in several ways. Most charge transaction fees, while
others also earn the spread between interest they gain on 1031 investors' sale
proceeds and the interest paid out to the investors.
Many large financial institutions have QI services business. J.P. Morgan
Property Exchange Inc. is a unit of J.P. Morgan Chase & Co.; Wachovia
Exchange Services is a unit of Wachovia Corp. Mr. Lipton of Baker & McKenzie
says that because of the lack of regulation, he refers clients to QIs that are
affiliated with regulated entities.
An intermediary doesn't need a license. Nevada does have some regulation, and
in light of the current problems, the state is looking to beef up its oversight.
Other states are making inquiries into how to pursue regulations.
The Federation of Exchange Accommodators, the qualified intermediaries'
industry-trade group, has about 331 member companies and requires background
checks of all members except those that are subsidiaries of publicly traded
parent corporations. The group says it has been trying to work with states and
may reach out to federal regulators about enhancing oversight of the business.
"We want them to come up with ways of accomplishing the protection
without unduly inhibiting the exchange business," says Hugh Pollard, the
trade group's president.
Office Condos: An overview of what they are and how they might work for you.
The condominium concept emerged in the 1970s as a unique alternative to
traditional apartment leasing and single family home ownership. At first the
idea – which involves partial ownership in a larger collective or association
of similar properties – gained traction in vacation destinations. Instead of
forking over excessive amounts of money to buy pricey beach property, for
example, a buyer could buy one slice of a larger pie at a more affordable price.
And as an alternative to perpetual rental – which offers no tax benefits or
equity accumulation – owners could purchase their apartments or holiday
retreats, without having to buy an entire apartment building.
Now the same idea is spreading within the market for traditional office
space, where a condo office is defined as an office building with two or more
individually owned units. The rest of the property – for example the parking
lot, landscape and lobby – is owned in common and equally shared by all of the
condo owners. In other words, condo ownership of an office works the same way it
works in a residential condominium setting, and the terms of ownership are
outlined in office condo association by-laws.
During the 1990s developers in many cities around the country overbuilt
office space to keep pace with the exploding high-tech industry. But then the
industry shrank as many of the start-up “dot-com” companies that the offices
were meant to house went out of business. Many of those costly projects were
hard to sell, because the need for huge office property evaporated, leaving
developers saddled with inventory and financial liability. They offered to sell
off offices piecemeal, rather than waiting to lure well-heeled buyers who could
afford the whole building.
Suddenly the condo office frontier was discovered, as innovative commercial
brokers began to divide up skyscrapers and sell single office units or floors of
office space, rather than trying to market the whole enchilada. The concept
caught on, and continues to be a popular and less investment-intensive
alternative for those businesses or professionals who would like to own their
own office but don’t want to build or purchase an entire building in order to
Occupancy costs combined with the loss of potential financial incentives
usually weigh heavily into the choices of those who opt for the office condo
alternative. Most office condo owners cite control of their property as the most
compelling reason for the purchase, and they list tax perks and financial
advantages as other contributing influences affecting their decision. If you
rent or lease, your ability to redesign and remodel may be limited by the
flexibility of the landlord. And if you decide to move, you may have to forfeit
penalties for short-circuiting your lease. Even if you time the relocation to
coincide with the expiration of your contract, you never get to enjoy equity
appreciation like you do with owned property.
Availability is another powerful issue, because someone needing a relatively
small can find office condos in a variety of sizes and configurations, even in
the most popular parts of town. Office condos are especially popular with those
who want to establish themselves in a specific location where buying a building
or constructing their own is not practical. Small professional firms can buy
condos that range from 1,200 to 50,000 square feet, inside large buildings in
competitive markets like New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, or Washington, DC.
Office condo development is also becoming more common in mixed-use properties
where office and retail condos are designed into the first floor of a
residential condo project. You can buy your home upstairs, open your wine bar
downstairs, and visit your corporate accountant or attorney in their office
condo next door.
As condo owners outgrow their original offices, they often acquire another
condo in the same building or purchase strategically located satellite office
condos. Thanks to the potential to profit from market appreciation, many office
condo owners finance their expansion and relocation through sales of existing
sites, just as first-time homeowners trade up to larger homes.
Right now the market for office condos is relatively new and somewhat
untested. But as companies increasingly shift to a virtual online presence
versus a brick and mortar headquarters, the demands for gigantic offices may
fade, in favor of agile and adaptable office condos.
Flipping office condos may become the next bull market opportunity, and those
who already own them may be well positioned for the future. Residential condos
were considered an inferior investment vehicle when compared to single family
homes, until about a decade ago. But then they caught up with and surpassed
traditional homes in popularity and investment performance.
Regardless of what investment yields they offer, office condos are already
convenient and economical, and those are the most important reasons why many
experts believe they are the way of the future.
To inquire about office condo properties from a broker committed to serving
the GLBT community, visit www.GayRealEstate.com. To help finance a commercial or
residential real estate purchase, visit www.GayMortgageLoans.com. Or just call
toll free 1-888-420-MOVE (6683).
Most Resilient U.S. Real Estate Markets
June 11, 2007
When it comes to real estate, the questions on everyone's lips are: How
low is low, and when's the perfect time to buy back in?
That moment has passed in Seattle
metros hit bottom in the first quarter of 2006 and have since posted price
gains of 12.3% and 6.3%, respectively, according to National
Association of Realtors (NAR) data.
Ripe for investment? Philadelphia
Orleans. Based on housing inventory and local economic conditions, both
should hit price troughs by year's end and bounce back with moderate gains
around 4% in 2008.
In markets expected to recover more slowly, such as Boston
low buyer confidence coupled with a surplus of housing stock has lengthened
the slump. NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun points out that buyers are looking
for clear signs of a market bottom and are content to wait on the sidelines
It's easy to see why. Most of the country's real estate markets are
feeling the effects of overproduction. A strong market hovers near a 1.5%
vacancy rate, but the national average currently stands at 2.8% and in cities
such as Miami,
and Denver, figures hang around 3.5%. In addition, every nugget of good news
(a May Commerce Department report said that new-home sales are at a 14-year
high) comes with bad news (median price growth is at a 10-year low).
So which other metro area markets stand the best chance of recovery, and
when will that upturn occur?
Behind The Numbers
Market corrections follow three basic recovery patterns. A V-shaped
recovery where a market experiences a sharp, fast decline but comes out strong
once it hits bottom; a U-shaped recovery, where prices
decline gradually and recover slowly; and an L-shaped curve, a hard, fast fall
with paltry price bounceback following the market trough.
The differences between a V-shaped market and a U-shaped one has to do
with barriers to growth. High vacancy rates and high investor share can hurt a
market, but if the local economy remains strong and housing stock affordable
it's only a matter of how long it takes to absorb the excess inventory.
is a perfect candidate for a V-shaped recovery, according to research from
Moody's Economy.com, an economic analysis, forecasting and credit risk firm.
The local economy remains strong, and subprime lending is relatively low.
Tampa's problem? A high investor share that lead to high vacancy rates. When
the market turned sour in 2005, more than 25% of Tampa homes were owned as
investment properties. Investors are quicker to flee during a downturn, thus
creating a glut of available housing stock. In Tampa's case, vacancy rates now
stand at 3.5%.
"As investors exit, the market revives," says Mark Zandi, chief
economist at West
Chester, Pa.-based research firm Moody's Economy.com, as fewer speculative
buyers results in a more stable market. "Tampa's a pretty affordable
market and first-time buyers can come in once prices fall."
In the market for a seven-figure home? How much domain your dollar will
net depends on where you look. Based on Moody's Economy projections, Tampa
should burn off its excess inventory and hit a price trough in the first
quarter of 2008, at which point prices are expected to increase by 10.6% the
These projections take into account housing affordability, vacancy rates,
the strength of the local economy and job market, investor share in 2005 and
the share of subprime mortgages.
Data comes from Moody's, the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Federal
Reserve's Home Mortgage Disclosure Act.
Predicting the bottom of any asset market, especially real estate, is a
difficult thing. While these projections are based on sound data and advanced
modeling by Moody's, no one can predict futures markets with absolute
Other Bounce Backs
Like Tampa, Phoenix
is similarly afflicted by high investor share (26.1%) and it has a vacancy
rate over 3%. Good affordability rates and a surging job market suggest that
once Phoenix bottoms out, price growth will be strong. Moody's projection
model has Phoenix reaching its price trough in the fourth quarter of 2008 and
then growing by 7.7% the following year.
Slower recovery rates are expected in markets such as Minneapolis
and Boston, where a slumping local economy, slow job growth and negative
migration numbers hamper long term prospects. Along with other U-shaped
markets like Sacramento,
that have double-digit subprime lending share, Zandi says it's going to be
harder for these markets to get going again.
That doesn't necessarily mean V-shaped markets are in the clear. The labor
markets in cities such as Las
Vegas, Phoenix and San
Diego, whose future economic success will be critical to recovery, are
heavily in housing-related industries, according to Moody's. So long as those
economies can weather their respective corrections, they should be all right.
"These markets are going to experience more substantial declines in
the coming year," says Zandi. "Gauging the bottom is a very intrepid
affair and the job market is very important to recovery."
Boomers Discover Powerful Way to Leverage Their
Self-Directed IRAs -- Borrow and Buy Real Estate
Thursday January 11, 2:51 pm ET
GRANDVIEW, Mo.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Like the millions of baby boomers retiring
every year, when airline pilot Tom Ebenhack hung up his uniform he took
control of his personal finances with a self-directed IRA. The difference? He
rolled over his lump-sum retirement payment into an IRA investment he
understands -- real estate.
"Leverage is the whole benefit of real estate," says Ebenhack,
who was surprised to discover he could borrow and buy property through his IRA
with a special non-recourse loan from North American Savings Bank (NASB) (http://www.iralending.com).
In response to client requests, NASB created the nation's first non-recourse
loans, for real estate held in IRAs. The loans are structured to meet the
stringent IRS requirements for real estate purchases through self-directed
retirement accounts, and NASB is the only lender to offer investors nationwide
access to the product.
Leverage your retirement with IRA non-recourse loans
When proactive investors find out about the growth and tax advantages of
investing their IRAs in real estate, they often ask:
- What organization is suppressing this information?
- Why didn't my CPA tell me I could invest my IRA in real estate?
- What's the catch? It seems too good to be true.
Matt Allen, Director of IRA Lending at NASB, says, "The catch is
finding professionals who can help you make the real estate investment happen.
At NASB, we're filling the gap by offering mortgages specifically for IRAs and
by educating financial advisors to meet the demand." As America's leading
IRA lender, NASB teams up with national self-directed IRA experts to teach
investors and CPAs, attorneys and brokers the how-tos. Allen's next
presentation for financial professionals is January 17th, 2007 in San
Francisco. Limited seating is available at the free event, so register on IRA
custodian and host PENSCO Trust Company's site.
To learn more about IRA borrowing requirements, contact Matt Allen at (816)
347-4222 or visit www.iralending.com.
About North American Savings Bank (http://www.iralending.com)
Founded in 1927, Grandview, Missouri-based NASB is the only nationwide
lender that specializes in IRA lending, including 30-year fixed and 5-year
adjustable IRA mortgages. Their dedicated IRA lending team typically processes
and funds loans within 30 days. NASB maintains a network of IRA professionals,
including attorneys, real estate brokers and custodians, to help clients
invest their self-directed IRA accounts in real estate.
Being successful at Lease
Options involves a number of crucial elements--things such as marketing to
find Sellers, marketing to find Buyers, negotiating
skills/scripts/handling Seller objections, and of course, great
investor-friendly Contracts that protect you. Some would say that the
Contracts are the most crucial. I tend to agree with that line of
First and foremost, good
Lease Option Contracts should be written at a 7th or 8th grade reading level
with as little legalese as possible. This is especially important with
the Tenant Buyer. If you were to go to an average attorney and ask him
to draw up a good Option for your Tenant Buyer, he would have to charge you a
hefty sum if this was something he was creating for you from scratch.
The attorney would likely make the Contract several pages long with lots of
legal mumbo jumbo, so you would feel like you got your money's worth and to
justify his fee. You would likely feel ripped off if all you
received was one page. But that would be exactly what you need!
Because if it goes to court, a judge might throw a complex Agreement out
under the grounds that there was no way the Tenant Buyer could have understood
what he was signing. Sad, but true.
Certain clauses are a must.
With the Seller, you should have a way to extend the term. You should
agree to only 12 months with the Seller with the right to extend for
additional periods of the same number of months at your discretion. In
other words, you can back out at the end of each renewal period, but your
Seller cannot. There should be a start date that the payments are first
to begin. You should be able to begin the payments later in the future
(Seller makes one or two more mortgage payments), so essentially you are
only committing to 10 months. This allows you time to find a goood
Tenant Buyer and still be a month ahead in payments (which comes in
handy if you have any problems). There should be a rental credit clause
(most of the Contracts I have seen ignore this profit center with the Seller). A
large late fee (about 25 percent--because if higher it has the opposite
effect) is also very important, because it helps to foster the idea with the
Seller that this is a fair and equally balanced Agreement (giving the
Seller a false sense of security and causing him to lower his guard and be
less critical of the rest of the Contract). Don't worry; you won't be
late, because you are a month ahead (plus the normal 10-day grace) You
should have the unqualified right to cancel within 30 days. Rights of
assignment and subletting in writing (disclosure) are also important,
even though you have those rights automatically if the Contract does not
specifically prohibit them. You should also have the Seller agree to
make any and all repairs during the first 60 days (you will give a guarantee
to your Tenant Buyer for the first 30 days--giving you overlap). There
are many other clauses needed, but these are the most crucial ones that I have
seen left out of many of the Contracts I have looked over.
Clauses for the Tenant Buyer
are even more vital to the success with Lease Options, because generally it's
the Tenant Buyer that causes us most of our grief. As few pages as
possible is best. I use a one-page Contract for the Option and one page
for the Lease (two-sided). It should state in writing that you may not
own the property (in case you don't). It should also state that the end
date is unequivocal and requires no advance notice. NONREFUNDABLE should
be mentioned a few times throughout. It should be mentioned that rental
credit only applies for on-time payment and only toward lowering purchase
price. It should state that all closing costs are to be paid by the
Tenant Buyer and that additional funds may be required to close. A
carefully-worded clause needs to be in place concerning repairs and
maintenance (failure to make the necessary repairs revokes the Option).
The Option should state that it is not assignable or transferable and can only
be exercised by the person or persons listed in the Option. It should
state that the property in the Lease cannot be sublet as well (the Option should
mention the Lease, but the Lease should make no mention of the Option).
Recording the Option or a Memorandum thereof renders it null and void, as does
any violation of the Lease. It should also state that no
guarantees of financing are given, that it is not an Agreement For Deed (Land
Contract or Contract For Deed) or any form of owner-financing, and that it
does not create an equitable interest of any sort. Lastly, there should
be a place on the Option where the Tenant Buyer writes in his own handwriting,
"I fully understand that all money I pay is nonrefundable."
This statement should also be initialed. Under no circumstances
should the Contract mention the words Buyer, Seller, or equity. You are
the Optionor, and the Tenant Buyer is the Optionee.
One good way to have
few problems in the Lease Option business is to make sure that you are
protected with great Contracts. Lease Options involve risks, but effort
should be made to ensure that the risks are minimal and calculated. As
always, of course, this should be taken as seasoned business advice only; no
legal representations or advice is made or implied by the
aforementioned. If you need such assistance, seek a competent legal
By Randall Mixon
Navigating the Web to Find Reliable Housing-Market Data
May 11, 2006
Navigating the Web to Find Reliable Housing-Market Data
By June Fletcher
Question: Why is it so hard to get good data on housing-market prices,
especially in major metro areas like Washington, D.C.? Are there no reliable
indexes? I disagree that Realtors will help much -- even for information on
price cuts in your target neighborhood. Most Realtors just want to sell houses,
and "now" is always the best time to buy; data would just
-- Dick Moore, Arlington, Va.
Dick: Wouldn't it be great if you could get all of the information you
need to buy and sell your home on one free Web site?
Don't get me wrong -- there's a lot more useful real-estate-listing
information floating around in cyberspace than there was even two years ago. But
much of it is controlled by Realtors, who, as you have pointed out, seemingly
don't want anything but "happy news" getting out -- and don't really
want consumers to be empowered.
At first glance, it looks like there are dozens of multiple-listing services
advertising on the Web. But most of these sites are thinly disguised referral
tools for real-estate agents. For instance, go to MLS.com and click on your
state, and you'll be transferred to HomeGain.com; try Multiplelisting.com and
you'll be sent to HomeRoute.com. Both of these sites won't give you the
information you seek outright without sending you to a real-estate agent. Same
with other Web sites that purport to give home-price indexes or valuations,
including TheHomeValueCenter.com, PriceAHomeOnline, and HomeInsight.com.
Getting an agent's name can be helpful if you want information like inventory
levels and the number of days homes are on the market, and the comparative
market analysis these sites advertise. You need direct access to a
multiple-listing service to know these statistics, and until this information
becomes public (and hell starts offering ice-skating lessons), or your local
newspaper happens to include it in a business story, that's about the only way
most people can get it.
Meanwhile, the best Web site available to get pricing information is Zilllow.com.
Using public records, the site shows you recorded nearby sales superimposed on
aerial or street maps, so you can see just how far away the homes are from the
one you want to buy or sell. The problem with Zillow, however, is that public
records are often wrong -- my house was shown to have two and a half baths, for
instance, when it actually has three and a half. You can correct such
information for the house you want to buy or sell using a "refine this
estimate" tool, but you really can't be sure if the data on comparable
properties is correct or not, too. (On the other hand, unless real-estate agents
are very familiar with the homes they've included in their comparative market
analysis, they'll probably have the same errors in their reports, too.)
So what to do? My suggestion is to use Internet Web sites like Realtor.com,
Owners.com and ForSaleByOwner.com
to find houses you'd like to buy. Take the virtual tours to see which ones
really turn you on. Interview real-estate agents, and select one as your buyer's
agent if you're not comfortable going it alone. Once you have narrowed your
choices to three or four professionals, get the agents' comparable market
analyses, read the local newspapers, and check area master plans and zoning.
And then go to the neighborhood and walk around, preferably right
around the time school is let out for the day. Talk with the neighbors standing
on the corners waiting for their kids. Tell them you're thinking about buying in
the neighborhood, and ask them about any recent home sales. Were the homes fixed
up? Did the properties have any recent additions or improvements? Did the sales
price seem reasonable or wacky? What are the good and bad aspects of living in
the community? Do any of the neighbors act as if they belong on "Desperate
No statistic, no Web site and no Realtor can compare with your personal
sleuthing, because there are so many intangibles that don't show up in the data.
And ultimately, only one buyer and one seller can determine what any house is
IRA provides nontraditional way to invest in real estate
Many investors have become disappointed by the uncertainty of the stock
market. These days, they'd prefer to have greater choice in where they invest,
beyond stocks and bonds.
A growing number of investors are learning they can invest in real estate and
other nontraditional assets using their IRAs. This option is ideal for
individuals who do not have cash on hand to invest or who simply want to
diversify their portfolios.
Purchasing investment real estate with an IRA provides individuals with a
number of favorable tax benefits from the appreciation and cash flow of the
With a Roth IRA, the investor never has a concern about taxation because the
Roth is tax-deferred while growing and tax-free upon distribution (unlike a
traditional IRA, which is taxed at the time of distribution).
In addition, a Roth IRA has no minimum distribution. It's up to the investor
when and how much is taken as a distribution. Unlike 1031 exchanges, specific
investment timelines or requirements to purchase "like kind"
investments when buying real estate with an IRA do not exist.
When the property is sold, the IRA prevents capital-gain exposure, because
taxation of an IRA does not occur until distribution.
Investors should not undertake investing in real estate with a Roth IRA or
other type of IRA alone, due to strict rules the IRS sets forth. Instead, they
should enlist the help of an adviser to guide them through the process.
When choosing the right self-directed IRA adviser, investors should work with
an experienced professional.
A good IRA adviser will be able to offer the following:
- Adviser support and education -- The adviser should enable the investor to
make the most educated investment decisions.
- Checkbook control -- An adviser should offer the ability to act fast and
write checks with an IRA through an IRA LLC. The IRA LLC gives the investor
more freedom in making transactions.
- An economical option -- Custodial firms and advisers may charge varying
rates and fees for their services.
- Increased control -- Many custodial firms set forth guidelines on how
transactions can be set up, based on how they prefer to work. Others are
more flexible and give investors the tools they need.
- Protection -- Investors should look for a firm with the knowledge to
protect them from creditors and litigation through increased overall asset
protection with an IRA LLC.
Nontraditional IRA investments offer many advantages: greater control over
investment options, tax-favorable income and the potential to count on higher
returns with less risk.
Investors can put an adviser's expertise to work by intelligently looking to
real estate as an alternative investment for retirement.
Daniel Cordoba, certified estate adviser, is a principal at Austin-based
Asset Exchange Strategies LLC (www.myrealestateira.com).
M. Anthony Carr, Realty Times
Eight Steps To Setting Up A Real Estate Investment Business
Most investor wannabes I talk with want so badly to "flip properties"
that they forget on the outset that they are talking about launching a business
-- a real estate investing business. They simply think and say: "I want to
begin buying and selling real estate."
Sounds pretty simple, doesn't it? Find a run down home, maybe a foreclosure;
go through it repairing and painting walls, replace flooring, install new
appliances; put it on the market and make $50,000 each time. Yeah, right.
Before you launch into the real estate investment world, first consider how
the transaction went with your primary residence. The agent probably took care
of many of the minute details, such as lining up contractors for inspection
items, helping you with financing and insurance, and even getting the inspector.
If you're going to start investing on a regular basis, then you'll want to
develop relationships with these professionals yourself and follow these steps
to begin your real estate business:
- Locate financing.
All investing hinges on this first action. If you don't have financing,
most likely you won't be investing. You'll want to find a program that will
allow you to put as little of your own money into the property as possible.
In today's competitive mortgage environment, there are now investor programs
that allow five percent down on the investor's part.
Since you may have remodeling or rehab costs, don't forget to look for
programs that include money for those activities.
If you can get it, try to get owner financing as this can be the easiest
way to get into a property. The owner holds onto the note until you've
completed your rehabilitiation of the house. You can try to get the owner to
take just interest-only payments until you sell, then pay them the balance
once the property is sold. There are plenty of other ways to finance an
investment property, so talk with several mortgage providers to find out
- Set up a limited liability corporation. This protects you from any
accidents that may happen during the refurbishing process. If someone gets
hurt on your property, they could sue you -- the LLC purports to protect
your personal property.
- Find a real estate agent who knows the marketplace you're interested in to
find the properties.
- Line up your contractors. Unless you're going to do it yourself, then you
have to ask the following questions:
- Do I have the expertise to handle tasks that require trade status,
such as plumbing, electrical, HVAC?
- Can I lay carpet?
- Can I hang/repair drywall?
- Can I fix dry rot and carry out other carpentry work?
- Can I replace sub-flooring and deck work?
- Can I repair the roof?
- If you're repairing electrical and plumbing you may need to get proper
permits and inspections.
- Find a title company to check out titles of properties.
- Find a settlement or escrow company for closings.
- If you're holding onto the property short term, you'll need a short-term
insurance policy to cover the property until you sell it again.
- And then here's the kicker -- except for the LLC setup, you have to do
each of these steps every time you want to buy another house, fix it up and
As you can see, this is another job when you're considering the refurbishing
of property and selling. I haven't even gotten into the tax ramifications of
short-term investing (you will more than likely owe capital gains taxes of 5-15
percent on all of your profit).
You CAN make a lot of money, and you're going to work hard to do it. The good
part about it is that the returns are usually higher than what you'll find in
any other business.
Before you get started, write down your financial goals together with your
partner -- usually your spouse. Find a real estate agent who can walk you
through real estate investing as it pertains to your area and then talk with
your accountant about tax liabilities and benefits -- then, make your decision.
- GOOD NEWS FOR MULTIFAMILY DWELLING OWNERS -
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC), on January 29, 2003,
issued new regulations (FCC 03-9) governing the types of contracts
rental owners can enter into with competitive video providers.
Specifically, the FCC ruled that rental owners can enter into exclusive
contracts with competitive video providers in order to secure the best
quality and lowest price service for their residents. In the ruling, the
FCC decided not to ban, or cap the length of, exclusive contracts with
rental owners. Share this good news to other multifamily rental owners.
- HUD is requiring all Section 8 inspectors
to write up any chipped or peeling paint they find. If
the building was built before 1978, you will be required
to hire a certified lead inspector. The lead report then
becomes a required disclosure any time you rent or sell
- The IRS has approved reverse like-kind
exchanges with Revenue Ruling 2000-37, published on
September 15, 2000.
"Abandoned Properties" - One of The Best Kept Money
Making Secrets An article by Reggie Brooks
When I began my career as a real estate investor in 1985, I
stumbled across a little known area of real estate that had the potential to
make us a ton of money. This was an area of the market that went unnoticed by
most people. This was the area of abandoned properties.
How To Profit From
Abandoned Properties You might pass these properties on a daily basis, but just
never paid much attention to them. You could be passing up hundreds of thousands
of dollars in profits! These are properties that the owner has walked away from
for whatever reason. It could be a divorce situation, an illness, a death in the
family, a job relocation, or any number of other reasons. Do we care why?
Absolutely not! Don't waste your energy trying to figure out why sellers do what
A $58,000 Profit Right Across The Street I remember a young lady in
one of my 2 day classes. In the first day of class, we taught a whole day of
unconventional ways to find profitable deals. One of those methods was how to
find and profit from abandoned properties. The next day, the young lady came to
class and told us an interesting story about an abandoned house right across the
street from her house. She said that when she got home from the first day of
class, she put her key in her front door to go inside. Suddenly, for no apparent
reason, she stopped and immediately turned around. Across the street was an
abandoned house. She had unconsciously seen the abandoned house every time she
walked out of her front door, but until now she just never paid any attention to
it. The windows were broken out, the grass was high, there was trash in the
yard, and on and on.
After the class was over, the young lady stayed in touch
with me. I had asked her to keep me informed as to the progress of her deal. It
took her around three months, but in those 3 months she successfully purchased
the property, fixed up the property, marketed the property, and made a profit of
$58,000! By the way, she had no money, no credit, and no job, but she was still
able to make this kind of profit.
Why Abandoned Properties? When you work with
abandons, you have an excellent opportunity to use the best financing in the
world is seller financing. There are several reasons why we prefer seller
financing over conventional financing. Rarely will a seller ask to see your
credit report. If you have credit problems, it usually will not become an issue.
Many times the seller is completely open to many creative strategies that will
help to eliminate their abandoned property problem. After all, what does the
seller have to loose? His abandoned property is just sitting there not making
The seller may have a mortgage to pay on it every month, because he
wants to keep his credit clean. More than likely, he'd like to rent it or sell
it but he feels that he'd have to spend a lot of money to fix the property up
before he could market the property. In the meantime, another month goes by and
another mortgage has to be paid. The taxes and insurance will also have to be
paid. Money will still have to be spent on maintenance and upkeep. The repairs
might become extensive, since the property is vacant and subject to vandalism.
The neighbors are probably complaining about the eye sore. The Department of
Building and Safety might have become involved. This can all add up to the
seller having to spend a sizable chunk of cash every month, which can also
represent a sizable headache for the seller. You guessed it. The seller is
probably very motivated!
How Do We Find Abandoned Properties? Here's one of the
easiest ways to find abandoned properties. The first thing to understand is that
the more affluent the area is, the fewer the abandons you'll find. The less
affluent the area, usually the more abandons you'll find. I encourage you to
find an area somewhere in between the two extremes. If you keep your eyes open,
you'll find properties that might have the windows broken out, they might be
boarded up, you might see the grass and shrubs overgrown, you might see trash,
handbills, newspapers and other signs that this property might be a good
candidate for a profitable abandoned property.
Keep a pen and a pad of paper
with you at all times. I teach my students to take different routes to and from
their normal destinations and write down the addresses of any properties that
might be abandon property prospects. This might require that you leave home a
little earlier than usual, but it is certainly worth it if it brings you just
one abandoned property deal.
Using A Little Known Government Program With An
Abandoned Property Several years ago, I was taking my aunt to an appointment
with a dialysis center when I came across an abandoned four unit building. This
property showed all the classic signs of abandonment: boarded up windows, tall
grass, trash, etc. I wrote the address down and called my title company as soon
as I got a chance. I gave them the address, and they gave me the owner of the
property and the mailing address. I wrote an offer and bought the property for
$82,000. We fixed the property up using a little known government program called
the Rental Rehab Program to maximize our profits. This program provided a 3 to
5% loan when the prevailing interest rates were 12% The program also allowed any
qualifying tenants to drastically reduce the amount of their out of pocket
monthly rent by going on the Section 8 Government Subsidy Program after the
rehab was complete. The average wait for the Section 8 Program at the time was 6
to 8 years. This was truly a win-win deal for everyone involved. We kept the
property for a number of years, putting a positive cash flow in our pockets
every month. We eventually sold the property and made a lot of money.
Financing In The World With the property needing as much work as it did, it
would have been almost impossible to get a conventional bank loan to finance it
and, at the time I was in no position to pay all cash. So, what is the solution?
As I mentioned before, seller financing is the best financing in the world. The
seller of the property financed the entire deal for us.
Here's the point:
Abandoned properties are one of the best kept money-making secrets in our
industry. They are very good candidates for many of the government loans and
grants that can super charge your profits. Tap into this area of real estate and
watch your profits soar.
Who Is Reggie Brooks? Reggie Brooks has achieved what many
people consider to be impossible. He went from making $36,000 per year at the
local telephone company, to making over $40,000 per month in his real estate
business. Starting out with very little money, Reggie began his investment
career in 1986. After taking a few real estate investment courses, he began
investing in rental properties in Los Angeles. He quickly replaced his telephone
company income of $3,000 per month with over $4,200 per month from a few well
placed investments, becoming financially independent within his first year of
Reggie is an international speaker/lecturer, an author, and an active
investor specializing in a unique and very profitable niche in the marketplace
called "ABANDONED PROPERTIES". Reggie teaches unconventional ways of
finding distressed properties, strategically repairing those properties, and
systematically selling them higher than the prevailing market. "It's very
simple when you take the time to learn how." Over the years, Reggie has
developed his Success Systems that consistently turn marginal $15,000 to $20,000
deals into $50,000 to $75,000 deals. Reggie teaches his Success Systems all over
America. His students say that the combination of his insightful knowledge with
a sheer joy for teaching makes the learning process pleasurable.
Success Systems will teach you: How The Big Boys Are Finding Deals Right Now In
This Market! How To Make Big Profits From Properties That Most Investors
Consider Worthless! How To Stop Chasing Deals And Get Them Chasing You! The
Right Way To Use The Internet - Find Deals From The Comfort Of Your Home! Hidden
Cash Producing Secrets That Even So-Called Smart Investors Don't Know! How To
Make Thousands Of Dollars In Just Weeks - No Kidding! And Much, Much More!
Reggie lives with his wife Ersoleen in Los Angeles, California and has earned
the respect of the real estate investment community because of his many
investment accomplishments. Of his many successful students Reggie is most proud
of his two kids, Keith and Arlett. Through his mentoring they have both become
successful, full time real estate investors.