In Real Estate, I use my computer everyday. I look for the best free products that work, are easy to use, and are stable. Not to mention, do not add unwanted features to my computer. The following products I have used, tested, customized, and found they work.

Best Computer Products for Free

I have to start this list with Linux, the Ubuntu system. I’ve been on Windows since the old DOS system, but changes and the agreement on Windows 10 forced me to change. I don’t know about you, but I like to get my computer working the way it should, and leave it that way. We are in the day and age of forced updates. Unfortunately, most of those updates introduce things we don’t want on our computers, better, more efficient spy-ware, passed off as a feature that will enhance your Internet experience. Linux has the only answer I know of for that. No one can add anything to your system without the proper key. You are in control of updates, and you make the decisions. That is not to say Linux is perfectly safe. Watch out for what you add to your computer. Browsers add features that share your browsing experience. Other programs can add other spy-ware features. I hear Apple computers are also rather safe, but I never tried an Apple computer.

Linux is great if you know a few basics about programming. If you can work with simple codes, you are good to go. There is one minor hang up with Linux. Many programmers assume everyone knows programming and the step by step procedure. Some programmers assume you can fill in the blanks, and that can confuse a beginner. Or should I say, a beginner can get lost, confused, and frustrated. It happened to me a few times. On the other side of the coin, with a little searching, you can find an article with the proper code on the screen you can copy and paste, and the step by step procedure to get the code installed.

Linux offers some of the best products over a wide range of programs. To edit pictures, Linux offers a number of choices. Gimp was made to work wit Linux, and is easy to install. And it is one of the most powerful photo editing programs for free.

The Linux installation includes a word processor that is one of the best in the business. Libre Office is powerful, easy to set up, customize, and best all free, and well supported by Internet articles. I love to write, and as you can see, I have a number of books published. Libre Office is very similar to Open Office and a lot better than any Word program from Windows. Libre comes with the Linux, Ubuntu installation and is easy to customize.

Linux has a CAD program I want to work with, but didn’t have the chance to look at it. Other features include Chromium, a web browser much like Chrome that imports your book marks, history, and everything from Chrome and Firefox. Once you are up and running, you won’t notice the difference Firefox also installs with Linux.

One note about Linux. Windows 10 will fight a Linux installation to its last dying breath. But it can be installed along side of Windows 10. At least for the moment. And any Windows 10 update my hide the hard drive partition that has Linux on it. Search the Internet for articles about Installing Linux on the same computer using Windows. There are some good step by step articles about how to partition your hard drive, set up your computer to choose the Linux operating system when it is started, and how to install it for the first time using either a CD or thumb drive. The sad part is, Windows 10 knows the steps and some of the latest updates I have seen try pretty hard to identify the Linux install and block it. Windows claims that is for your safety, but the truth of the matter is, Windows wants a bigger piece of the pie. What pie? The one I refer to as the dark market. The Internet market centered on stealing, and selling every scrap of information they can get from your computer. There ought to be a law against that, but governments are their biggest customers. When you check the tax return box to support election funds, you are supporting the latest technology in spyware. Political parties buy every shred of information on people so they can send them customized ads that are supposed to match the mood you are in at the time. It doesn’t matter what side of an issue a politician in on these days. Remember the old movies showing how a politician takes one side of an issue at one meeting place, and the opposite side of the issue across town on the same day? If you pay attention to the news, you see the same thing. Well now politicians can change sides on an issue at Internet speed. As soon as they find out your view on any issue, a computer customizes a choice selection of ads designed to pop up on every site you visit. If I find some good programs to block them, I’ll let you know. Firefox used to have some good apps to block your on line experience from prying eyes. Check them out and you may be surprised to see how well they work. Just search some like, “block tracking on… the name of the browser you use.”

E-sword, a free Bible program that will work fine after you install Wine, a program that links your Windows hard drive with Linux. Wine will run between your C drive on Windows, and your drive for Linux. The Windows operating system will not be running. Wine will allow Linux to access Windows programs and run them on a Linux system. E-sword, my favorite Bible computer program is free. It is a little quirky running through Wine, but works fine. E-sword is powerful, and has a list of free Bibles and reference material to download. You can download E-Sword here.http://www.e-sword.net/downloads.html

Linux also has accounting programs, games, anti-virus programs, games, and other useful programs. Setting up a printer is not difficult. Most printers will support Linux. Wi-Fi printers require a little tweaking, and Wi-Fi scanning can be a chore. But there are plenty of articles on line. I tried a few accounting programs and I prefer GnuCash. It is easy to figure out and use. Much easier to print reports tham Microsoft Money was.

Gimp is the best photo editing program I have used, and works great on Linux. You can do anything with a picture with Gimp. I use Gimp to create my own book covers. There is a lot more you can do with Gimp. Gimp has great on line support with a long list of You-tube videos showing you exactly what to do. You can download Gimp from their website. https://www.gimp.org/downloads/

My favorite Anti-Spy-ware program is Spy-bot. They are the only anti-virus program I know of that has not gone commercial. In other words, gone over to the dark side of the spy-ware and data collection and sales side of the Internet. Spy-bot is free, easy to use, and you can purchase the full featured option at a much lower price than we see these days for other anti-virus programs. Here is a link to Spybot. https://www.safer-networking.org/dl/

Thunderbird is my favorite E-mail program that is easy to install, set up, and use. Again, there are easy to follow instructions on line. Ad ons include a calendar program that can link to your cell phone using Android and Google calendar. I wish I could go Google free, but it looks like we are stuck with them.

Of course you can listen to music on Linux. You can look at a few of the music programs and choose one that suits your taste.

If you really like Windows 7, there is a program you can install that lets you set up our computer to look just like Windows. It is amazing, and has more set up features than Windows offers. There are a number pf programs you can find by searching the Internet and doing a little research.

Master PDF Editor is a great program offering more features than anything I have seen in any Windows system. You can open PDF files, edit, and save them all for free. Not tricks or gimmicks. Just open the file, do what you want to do, and save it. Programs like this can be added to Linux through their own version of an online app and program store. Most are free and a lot of powerful, stable, user friendly than many of the Windows and Microsoft programs on the market. 

Free websites are another subject and I plan on adding a page to get into greater detail. I’ve been using Word-press for years. You can set up a professional looking website in a few hours. It has some powerful features, and lets you do just about anything. If you are thinking about going to a paid website, master WordPress for free before you spend the money. A paid Word-press site offers more advanced features, and may be a little intimidating. WordPress.com offers free websites. WordPress.org is for paid sites. 

Look for another post on the best Android apps for Real Estate.

I think I have to add, Linux, Libre Office, Gimp, Spybot. Microsoft, Windows, E-sword, Master PDF Editor and all the other names I mentioned are registered trade names. There are copy right laws, and I hope they don’t mind me using their logos. If you have an issue, check out my DCMA notice.

Family

Here is a short segment I want to work on. Family is important and one of the main reasons people look at buying a house. Family size and needs are some of the major considerations in looking for a house. So far I am adding a video of my kids. I’ll add more later. I hope this give you a few ideas of what you can do with your family. Trips and special events are also important. In the future I’ll post other pages with things to do around Sheboygan and Fond du Lac counties. Keep your eyes peeled for them. Hope you enjoy the pictures.

Wisconsin Property Listings in Sheboygan, Fond du Lac, Washington Counties, and all points in between.

1. Tour your property.

2. Review the outstanding features of your property.

3. Review current market conditions in your area. Determine a sale price.

4. Review suggestions on how to prepare your property for all future showings.

5. Identify your motivation. Explain to you your marketing options. Agree on showing arrangements.

6. Answer your questions concerning marketing, advertising, commissions, contracts and any other issues.

7. Review all tax and special assessment information, loan information utility cost and history.

8. Supply you with a detailed estimate of selling cost and proceeds.

9. Complete Listing paperwork. Sign the Contract.

10. Take photographs and room measurements.

All Property Listings are available on a variable listing commission rate based on the services required and marketing options chosen by you, the Seller.

For more information on listing your home, call me 414-426-1784

It’s been seven years since the EPA passed new laws to protect people from carbon monoxide build up in homes. But when are they going to introduce rules in line with locating the cause and stopping the source until repairs can be made?

I used to work as an engineer designing industrial ovens. CO detectors were placed where they needed to be, close to the source of CO, in the oven itself. The CO detector was wired into the oven electrical system. When CO exceeded safe limits, the detector sent a signal which closed the gas or fuel valve, eliminating the danger, and sounded an alarm. The problem was repaired, tested, reports filled out, and everything returned to normal.

Why didn’t the EPA pass a new law that mirrored industrial standards by requiring all combustion products to have CO detectors and safety procedures? Many homes have three levels which now require three CO detectors. Most homes have three appliances using combustion, gas stove, furnace, water heater. Many homes also have gas fireplaces. The problem now is, what happens when the stand alone CO detectors sound an alarm? That’s all they do is sound an alarm. Stand alone CO detectors do nothing to eliminate the problem or tell you where it is. That means the house is unsafe to enter until the problem is detected, repaired, and tested. This could get expensive.

Why did the EPA avoid laws requiring manufactures of combustion appliances to install CO detectors where they are needed? If an oven malfunctions, that alarm would sound, and shut of fuel, making the area safe after it is ventilated. If the furnace has a problem, the CO detector on the furnace will sound and turn off the fuel supply.

Carbon Monoxide Testing In Homes
Carbon Monoxide Detector

The system we now have can require expensive testing, and opens the door to fraud, contractors repairing appliances without defects. Does the fact most of our appliances are manufactured overseas have anything to do with the way that law was structured? What are the failure rates in newer appliances compared to older models? Why didn’t insurance companies step in and demand law makers follow guide lines established in the industrial world? As usual, there seems to be more questions than answers.

Internet Referral Programs

I received a call the other day from one of those Internet referral agencies. It was not at all what I expected. As usual, I listened to the sales pitch to see if I can pick up a detail or two I am not already doing myself for free. She kept mentioning gathering information from the Internet. As I asked questions I began to see, she was selling me a service that would make me an accessory to Internet theft. Once I mentioned that to her, she insisted, either I become a subscriber, or loose my business. Has Internet theft crossed the bridge to extortion?

I looked into those marketing companies. They use terms like using the latest technology to gather information, establish patterns, create reports, identify leads, and some of them call it Internet mining. What is amounts to is using spyware to gather and sell information. A light went off. Suddenly I could see how I work with buyers for weeks and just as they are ready to buy, another agent calls out of the blue and using high pressure sales techniques, talks buyers into dumping me and instantly signing a contract to buy a house they later regret.

HAS THAT HAPPENED TO YOU?

I also see this happening on listings. I get a request from my website to show a listing, and the new buyer either doesn’t show up, or like the last one, I show up and another agent is showing my new lead the property. I called the last buyer and asked what happened. She told me an agent called her and scheduled an earlier appointment.

As I thought about Internet theft, I could see how serious this really is. Those people hold lives and businesses in their hands. They see everything on hard drives and nothing is stopping them from stealing customer lists from your hard drive and selling it off to the highest bidder. Internet theft has accounted for the loss of more jobs, closed more businesses, and caused more foreclosures than any other factor. Internet theft is ruining the economy, this country, and is against the Real Estate Ethics Code.

BUT WHO IS DOING ANYTHING TO STOP IT?

Here is Wisconsin, it is against the law to pay for real estate referrals. But that’s not the way lawmakers look at Internet theft. But what is the thief doing? Selling referrals by selling off your customer base.

ARE YOU NEXT?

The next move looks like it involves threats. Pay for their services or they will drive you out of businesses. Is there really honor among that type of thief? The US government says they will never negotiate with terrorist. We have a new brand of Internet terrorism in the market. It is Internet thieves extorting fees from honest Real Estate Agents, Brokers, and anyone operating an honest business. You know those people will sell of your customer list to the highest bidder in a heartbeat if you pay or not. Where do we go from here? Every person running for every office across this country relies on Internet thieves to get elected. Who can we turn to?

 

 

What Lures People Into an Online Scam

So you want to get rich in Real Estate. You don’t have much money, but you heard all the stories of how people broke the system and made it rich in Real Estate. The Internet is full of Real Estate Scams with one intent…. to quickly part a fool and the little money they have. Not only are these scam artists using the Internet, they have enough guts to hold seminars in major cities to collect more money. I can tell you —- beyond any doubt —- the only thing these people know about Real Estate is their scripted plan to suck money out of victims with high hopes and dreams of making it out of this depressed economy we seem stuck in. Let me show you how it works.

How Online Real Estate Scams Work

Charges begin at the very beginning. After a free introduction online or at a local meeting which consists of NO USEFUL information —- ONLY a load of hype, people fall for these plans like an unsuspecting fish goes for a shinny lure. Things look so good, fees seem like a small investment. Let me tell you what you are investing in. There is a scripted system you are investing in. This scripted system is not designed to make any money for you! It is a system to put money in the pockets of this carefully formed network of thieves. The first charge is a set of lessons, either online or a condensed live seminar. They will tell you about some secret list of foreclosed properties. Here is the hook. They tell you only certain Real Estate Agents get this list! Any suggestion of a separate list is against local MLS rules and agreements all Real Estate Agents share. Every licensed Real Estate Agent must sign an agreement to share all their listings with all other Agents on the local MLS. There is no secret foreclosure list. These people are trying to impress you will false information. Some of them are trying to get you to work with agents they hand pick, but this is very rare. It doesn’t take much effort to gather a list of new, inexperienced agents eager to make their first sale. All these people need to do is check public records to find newly licensed Agents, who may not know what they are falling into.

The next step is to provide you with a pre-approval letter or proof of funds letter. Boy — Do these people look like an answer to prayer. After paying a fee, you get a letter and these people promise to give you money to invest in their system without checking your credit. This is too good to be true! That’s because it is not true! There is a world of difference between a letter and cold hard cash. Of course there is a fee for the letter, and a fee for a credit check, another fee for an appraisal, another fee because they feel like sucking more from you. That’s the system you are buying into. All the money flows one way!

If you happen to have funds, you can elevate to their next level of scams. You get the gold script!!! This is what they will tell you. They will tell you how to bid. Of course you have to get an offer accepted. They will tell you about their plan that never fails —- and it sounds good. But of course will never work in the end. Here is their plan. Over bid on the property. The way they explain it makes sense. After all they are trusting you with their money…. all they are asking for is your trust in return. WHAT A SCAM! You have not seen a dime from them and they are pulling the TRUST ME CARD. By this point you paid them thousands and received nothing but promises. And now you are paying for some of the worst advice I have ever heard. Of course the best properties receive multiple bids and you have to find a way of getting your offer accepted. They tell you once you over bid and get the contact, which they tell you is a legal binding contract…. which is about the only truthful matter they will tell you, the Seller and you are bound by the contract. What they fail to tell you is, asset managers seldom negotiate price after you sign a contract. There is nothing in the contract saying the Seller has to deal on the price. When you fall for this scam, you missed one very important point! The Seller has a group of cash buyers waiting in the wings who can close in a hurry. The Seller can tell you to take a walk. In the mean time, you lost more money on the scam. They tell you they have a network of inspectors to look over the property, give you a report and instruct you on how to use their report to negotiate. Two problems here. Number one, you pay them for the inspection. More money for them. Number 2 – they DO NOT use state licensed inspectors. The contracts I use in Wisconsin states: A State Licensed Inspector must be used. You just wasted your money. Any Listing Agent with a year of experience will take one look at that report and know it is a fake. When I see this, I call the so called inspector and ask for his state license number. Guess, what… the house of cards immediately folds. Next on the scripted plan to part you from your money is the fake contractors. More money out of your pocket, more in theirs. Now here is the real heart break for innocent buyers like yourself. According to the contract you have 10 days or so for an inspection. If you don’t have a good agent, that time disappears. You lost that contingency to back out of the contract and get your earnest money deposit back. The worst part of this scam is the time it takes. Before you know it, time runs out, you fail to close and find yourself in a position to loose your earnest money deposit. Notice how you are the one putting up all the money…. and they are the ones making the money? When time runs out, you are in what is known as breach of contract. You failed to fulfill your part of the agreement. Some Sellers are insisting they keep the earnest money. At this time it appears to be the only way to combat this scam. Most of the time Buyers will get their earnest money returned but when Sellers see this scam, they may not be so lenient. Collecting earnest money is a long process most Sellers will not want to go through, but one Seller instructed me to go through the long drawn out process. In the end the Buyer lost the earnest money. The whole process is nothing but a waste of time for everyone involved and a waste of money for the Buyer.

Beware the Bite

There are other details the scam artists share to appear they are looking out for you. They show you how to alter standard contracts. They want to create the appearance they have your interests at heart, but make no mistake, these scam artists are looking out for themselves. Here is a short list for you to copy and paste. If you ever attend any of these scam artist’s meetings, you can go down this list with a smile on your face and your money in your pocket.

Unexpected Fees

  • They charge fees. Every experienced Real Estate Agent has worked with successful investors and is willing to share information for free.
  • Look out for useless hype.
  • Look out for facts and figures from outside the market area you want to invest in.
  • Look out for a system insisting one size fits all.
  • Look out for secret lists and inside information only a few people have.
  • Look out for networks they may claim to have.
  • If you did pay fees for training…. get out the first time you see a fee they forgot to mention.
  • Shy away from advice on how to alter state approved contracts.
  • Avoid systems which suggest negotiations after signing a legal binding contract.
  • Avoid systems telling you to over bid without providing you with current market conditions.
  • Avoid systems based on national statistics.
  • Avoid systems which teach you how to use an inspection to renegotiate purchase price.
  • Run from all inspectors, contractors, and LENDERS who cannot produce proof of a state license. 

The only system that works involves a few simple steps.

  1. Invest in an area you know and are comfortable with.
  2. Get a list of market reports for the area and know the current trend.
  3. Know market prices for both REO purchases and resale prices for turn key properties.
  4. Work with a reliable, licensed general contractor if you are not capable of doing all the repairs yourself.
  5. Get a little background on local ordinances for vacant properties and building codes
  6. Have your own team in place including a licensed Real Estate Agent, Lender, Inspector, and contractors. Form your organization.
  7. Keep expectations realistic…. the current market will do more to determine your success than any other detail.

FC Factor

What is the FC Factor in Real Estate? It is the knowledge, people receive from two major motivational factors. Those are either FEAR or CONFIDENCE. Most Real Estate sales people work on one of two those factors.

Confidence is what great sales agents learn to hone. How do Real Estate Agents build confidence with a Buyer looking for a home, lot, investment, or business? It is far more difficult to master the Confidence Factor, because each has its own learning process.

Homes are the most common and easiest to work with. It all begins with proper training. Not all training is equal. Some Brokers pride themselves on the level of training the provide to Sales Agents. Others provided either the minimum, or nothing beyond state requirements to obtain a license. And of course there is always shades of gray between. There are too many aspects of proper training to cover here. The main aspect of this article is to familiarize readers with signs of the two basic factors.

Another major step in the Confidence Factor is working with a group of great Inspectors. Those are people who show us what to watch out for. Good Inspectors are also great at explaining maintenance issues. A good Real Estate Agent will accompany Buyers during the inspection and learn from the experience so they can help pass that knowledge along to future Buyers.

Inspections

In most cases, Real Estate Agents are not licensed home Inspectors, and are not allowed to provide a complete assessment of a property. But we are allowed to point out obvious defects. In many cases, defects may not be obvious, but fall into a questionable category. Issues like foundations, electrical, plumbing, and roofing are some examples. A Real Estate Agent may see cracks in basement walls, but is neither qualified, or licensed to provide a valid assessment of the issue. But a good Real Estate Agent will point out the possible problem and explain how a license professional can properly assess the situation. The same is true for electrical, plumbing, and roofing issues. If a roof looks bad, let a licensed expert made a recommendation. If electrical wiring doesn’t look right, most Real Estate Agents don’t know electrical codes, but may be able to point out wiring that appears to be added after the house was built. A good Real Estate Agent will point out issues for a licensed Inspector to look at.

Major Defects

By law, licensed Real Estate Agents are required to disclose major defects in writing to both parties. The trick is, those defects have to be known and verified. Real Estate Agents have to know how to balance that law with another law telling us to be fair to both parties. That means Buyers and Sellers.

As an example. A roof may look bad to a Real Estate Agent standing on the side walk 50 feet away. But that roof may have an issue the Real Estate Agent is not trained to properly assess. The defect may be a fungus, dirt, or debris collecting on the roof. It would be inadvisable for any Real Estate Agent to offer an opinion that would drastically effect the value of that home in the eyes of potential Buyers. That would not be fair to the seller.

State licensed Inspectors are trained to inspect roofs, as well as other areas of homes. A good Inspector will determine the type of roofing, expected age, and remaining life period. A good Inspector will also look at other areas on the roof to determine quality of the materials used and installation. Inspectors will also be able to determine if the roofing materials faced recall notices, or other issues. Those are details Real Estate Agents are not trained to observe, nor share opinions on.

Having sold my own properties, I’ve seen a number of Real Estate Agents in action. Some, a few, but not many, walk through the door attacking the property. They point out every flaw trying to impress Buyers with their knowledge. They are trying to win Buyer’s confidence by convincing them, they will find every issue in an effort to obtain the lowest price. Is that being fair to the seller? Agents like that are trying to feed on the fear factor, getting Buyers to think, they will never find another Agent who is willing to do battle for them.

Disclosing Defects

There is a process Real Estate Agents must follow to disclose major defects. They must be disclosed in writing. In most cases, this involves a series of steps from third party licensed professionals involved in the transaction. An Inspector most likely will be one of them. Because Real Estate Agents are not trained or licensed in many of those areas of expertise, Buyers have to rely on other licensed experts. Once the proper inspections are completed, that can trigger a chain of events every good Real Estate Agent should be able to explain. It can be a little different from case to case, and the procedure may be a little different from Real Estate Agent to Agent.

Major defects to watch out for relate to safety in and around the home. In most cases here is Wisconsin, safety issues must be addressed and fixed before the properly can be sold. This is especially true in transactions involving a loan. In some cases involving cash purchases, the Buyer may choose to correct the issues themselves. But defects should always be disclosed in writing to protect the interest of all parties involved.

Major Fear Factors

It took me years to figure this racket out and how it works. I lost count on the number of sales I’ve lost to this type of, what I consider, Real Estate scam.

I’ve worked with dozens of Buyers for months, then one day, find out they purchased a property from another Agent. In some cases it turned out to be an Agent holding an open house. The Buyers walk in, like the house, and the Agent turns up the fear factors on high. Buyers are often told the house has an offer the Seller is considering, or someone is about to submit an offer. The Agent at the open house offers to help the Buyers I’ve been working with by getting them the best deal or out bidding another party. That Agent just happens to have a contract ready for the Buyer to sign. Notice the fear factor?

Another issue I’ve seen repeated is where a Buyer gets a phone call out of the blue from an Agent who happens to know how much the Buyer is qualified for, and what type of house they are looking for. Those Agents follow their script to make the Buyer sign a contract and purchase a home out of fear. In many cases I’ve received phone calls months down the road asking me what to do. The Buyers either didn’t get the property inspected or used the inspector suggested by the Agent and the property has a number of major defects.

In both cases, those Agents chose to ignore ethics codes. In the later example, Agents choose to purchase information stolen from computer hard drives. Both cases rely on the fear factor to force people into making rash decisions.

Investments

There are certain procedures Investors need to follow to be successful. I am not going through all those steps, but I will list a few factors Agents may use to force a quick decision. The major factor they dwell on is using information spread through the Internet. Most investment sites are in business to make money for themselves, not you the customer. I’ve seen dozens of people ripped off form Internet investment sites. I’ve posted what I’ve been able to piece together for what I believe is a script sold on the internet. That script is designed to drain potential investors of funds.

How Online Real Estate Scams Work. 
http://ez1realty.net/2018/04/19/how-online-real-estate-scams-work/ Link to the detailed story. 

There is a process to follow and each Real Estate Agent has their own procedure. I have a set procedure and like to follow a particular order. First find out what if the Buyer watched any online videos. Many Buyers watch a half hour video and think they know it all. This makes working with them difficult. They are filled with false expectations and some of the online methods are either impossible or illegal.

The next step is to find out the Buyer’s experience level. I like to send new investors information on landlord training if they are starting out, or buying their first duplex. I use this to gauge enthusiasm. Of course I check to find out if they are a cash buyer or if financing is in place.

Buyers have to be familiar with the area they plan to invest in. We go over prices in a few areas. Then assess price and condition. When a Buyer makes a decision, I send them a market report with active and sold prices over the past 6 months within a half mile of the property they are interested in. We also look at the number of foreclosed properties in the area to help estimate future prices or problems.

Looking at market data in the immediate area is the most important step. But some agents use the confidence factor to lock up another sale. In this situation, a Real Estate Agent will use information they know is prominent on Real Estate investment websites. They encourage the Buyer to purchase the property by saying something like, “all you need to do is paint, put in new carpeting, and resell this property for $100,000.” Some Real Estate Agents work on hopes and dreams build up on the Internet.

Listings

Some Real Estate Agents use the confidence factor to talk Sellers into listing their homes for sale. It is a simple process I’ve seen used, and although it may be technically legal, I do not consider it ethical. If you look on the standard Listing Contract in Wisconsin, you’ll see the contract is between the Seller and Broker. Not the Real Estate Agent, but the Broker. Some Real Estate Agents are instructed by their Brokers to use that loop hole to their advantage. What do they do?

Some Real Estate Agents use office sales figures to impress Sellers. Since the contract is between the Seller and Broker, the individual Real Estate Agent uses office sales figures to impress the Seller by presenting office listing and selling figures as their own. But the office nor Broker have anything to do with most of the tasks involved in listing a house. The individual Real Estate Agent fills in the contract, gets it signed, takes measurements, pictures, collects data, and writes up the ad for the property. The individual Real Estate Agent also handles any offers to purchase and negotiations. The Broker has very little to do with the property listed for sale, and hopefully sold, other than collecting the sales commission and filing paperwork.

So you can see, most Real Estate Agents will work with a combination of fear and confidence factors. How they use those factors is important. Do good agents use that fear factor? Can the fear factor be used in a good way? Only when it is used within the restraints of the law. Real Estate Agents are also required to disclose what is called adverse defects. What is an adverse defect? It usually concerns conditions around the property. That can include legislation, certain improvements, and other factors that could drastically effect the value of the property. The Real Estate Agent has to know about those conditions to reveal the source, most often news, or updates on local issues. A few examples may be plans for a new expressway, zoning changes, and other factors involving major improvements in the general area. That is not a fear factor, but providing vital information.

Why Select me to Help You Sell Your Real Estate

Contact Now

Selling your home can be a complex process. As a seasoned listing agent, I will help you with the entire home selling process. As your listing agent, I will help you get the best price for your home and help sell it in the fastest possible time frame.

Selling a home here in Sheboygan, Fond du Lac, Cedar Grove, Elkhart Lake, Plymouth, West Bend, or any other area means a comprehensive plan must be in place. If you select me as your listing agent, I will:

 
  • Provide you with a free home valuation to help determine your home’s current market value.
  • Review comps in the area to show you what is happening in Sheboygan, Fond du Lac, Cedar Grove, Elkhart Lake, Plymouth, Menomonee Falls, Sussex, Lannon, Milwaukee,  Germantown, Brown Deer, and surrounding Sheboygan County, WI areas.
  • Point out obvious or potential issues with your property that may be a concern with inspectors, appraisers, and lenders. Prepare for possible questions and delays. 
  • Negotiate on your behalf to receive the most money for your property and home.
  • Network with other real estate professionals here in Sheboygan, Fond du Lac, Cedar Grove, Elkhart Lake, Plymouth, Menomonee Falls, Milwaukee, Brookfield, Germantown, Brown Deer, and surrounding Sheboygan County, WI areas as well as throughout other relevant areas to find the perfect buyer for your home.
  • Arrange showings of your home that work in conjunction with your schedule.
  • Advise you how to best prepare your property for potential buyers to view.
  • Engage in a comprehensive advertising campaign to give your home the ideal amount of exposure.
  • Utilize technology including my personal web site to showcase your property to other real estate agents along with potential home buyers.
  • Work with you through the complex paperwork and legal issues that can impact the sale of your home.
  • Represent you in a manner that is both professional and a little old fashion for this day and age.
  • Tailor the sale of your home according to its unique features.
  • Make certain you get all the paperwork required to sell your property on time, in the correct order, and you understand every step in the process.
  • Provide you copies of all the paperwork and forms.
  • Answer every question, or refer you to the correct professional source.
  • Answer my phone when you call, or call you back as soon as I am able to. 

I’m a little surprised I have to list some of those features today. But good, reliable service seems to be a thing of the past. I may be a little old fashion in some areas, but I’ve been using and designing uses for computers back when they were the size of a room. Computers are a tool, not a replacement for a personality. 

  

 

If I show up with a cell phone to take pictures of your house, just fire me.

Cell phones do not take great listing pictures!

Many people overlook one of the major aspects of selling a home, great listing pictures. Sure the Internet helps to sell a lot of homes, but like everything else with a computer, garbage in, garbage out.

What does it take to present a house on the Internet in a fashion it deserves? Which may in fact effect the actual selling price.

Cameras come in all shapes, sizes, and qualities. Some are in fact better than others. Reviews are still written on cameras by professionals who make a living in the world of photography. You don’t need a $1000 camera to take great listing pictures of a home, nor do you need an 18 MP camera. As a matter of fact, you don’t want to make your picture files too large. You never know how the Internet site they are displayed on will compress them. Compression causes a lot of distortion on pictures, and can ruin a really good shot. I shoot for picture files of about 100,000 bytes, which is rather small, and often difficult to find on a quality, modern camera. I often use files on the 150,000 to 200,000 byte range. Compression is minimal, they load much quicker, and if you check the websites, the standard seems to be about 100,000 bytes on the pictures displayed on most websites. Avoiding too drastic of a compression ratio is rule number one. Smaller files also upload much quicker.

Is flash or natural light better? Well I make enough money from selling a house to go through all the rooms two or three times. I take pictures with and without a flash, then look at them on my computer screen to decide which to upload to the Internet. I may take as many as 100 pictures, then choose 25 to add to the websites.

The camera lens is another major factor. I use cameras with 25 and 24mm lenses. Don’t ask me what the other standard is, I’m and old 35mm guy. The new digital zoom cameras are great. I choose to use a bridge camera. Not as high of quality as the big money models, but great optics, and a lot of features. I can tell the difference between my 24 and 25mm camera. The 24mm is what to shoot for, and gives about the best wide angle picture you need inside a house. Especially small rooms. Getting a wider angle, like a 20-22mm would be a plus, but try and find one.

The 25mm camera does a great job, is simple to use, and has great optics. I prefer Fuji cameras based on their optics, that is lenses, and the fact they use standard AA batteries. Getting quality, name brand rechargeable batteries is another plus. Good batteries last ears, and take over 300 pictures in a single charge.

Looking for the right angle to take a picture of each room is no problem. I take pictures from all 4 corners. There is a little trade secret I use to make rooms appear much larger than they really are. The 24mm wide angle lens in only the beginning.

I also take a series of pictures I don’t put on the Internet. The basement, walls, the electrical box, water heater, furnace, and if appliances are included, I take pictures of those. I use those as back ups, just to avoid any possible issues. It’s called, working smarter.

What to consider when investing in Real Estate

This is the most important part of Real Estate Investing. Have a written plan. Write down your target purchase price. Get familiar with actual sale prices in the area. Always do a quick market analysis before submitting an offer. You have to know how much the rehab will cost. If time allows get a written quote. Know all the costs, fees, taxes, everything involved. You can use an inflated figure to estimate. A Real Estate Agent should be able to give you a basic idea on this. On a normal purchase of $60,000 and resale of $100,000 I typically use an estimated cost of $10,000 for commissions and fees. Based on the home and time of year, this may also cover a portion of taxes. Add to this the cost of improvements, loan costs, and any city charges, a targeted profit of $10,000 is about standard. This is why it is so important to write everything down. Create a form or simple spread sheet. Keep records and learn from failures as well as from your success.

Avoid Real Estate Investment Scams

How do you avoid hard money scams? A wise teacher once told me, he never asked a question without first providing the answer. Here is a list of things to look out for.
Up front fees
Bad advice which is designed to appear free.
Charges for lists.
Delays in paperwork.
Delays in returned calls
Avoid high up front fees. This is exactly what Internet scam artists in the hard money market thrive on. A fee for this, that and the other thing. They want you to invest, then they have you hooked. It is the oldest trick in the book. Do they really have a book? You better believe scam artists have a written step by step procedure to get you to send more and more money. Look at the scams where they tell you they will transfer millions of dollars to your bank account. They don’t have any money, just a long list of promises, excuses and fees. This is why it is so important to have your own written plan. Look at it as preparing for battle. Scam artists know you do not want to loose money and target that emotion, reading off a list of promises to get you to send more money. Don’t let them turn this into an emotional mind game. Stick to business facts.
Beware of anyone claiming to be an expert in the field of Real Estate investing using simple terms putting the entire Real Estate market in a single basket. Any experienced Real Estate Agent will tell you investing and investigating is on a block by block basis. In the past three months I have identified areas in Wisconsin which have doubled in value while a few miles away values are still declining and everything in between. Anything outside a 4-6 block radius can be misleading information.
If a company charges for a list, use your head and finger. Leave the site. Especially sites with tiers like basic, expert, elite services. Come on now. If I was standing in front of you as a licensed Real Estate Broker and I asked you what level of service you expected, would you work with me knowing up front I was not going to provide you with the best service I am able to provide? How would that make you feel? Does writing it out and posting it on a web site make it any different? Let me tell you a little secret in the Real Estate industry. Every Agent will tell you 80% of their business depends on return customers and referrals. Why would I give up 80% of my business which is in fact FREE advertising to make a few extra dollars? Get real. Slow down and examine the facts for what they really are.

Experienced Lender

Experienced lenders know their contracts, just like experienced Real Estate Agents know the major questions to write an offer to purchase. A legitimate lender will know the usual fees and conditions of a loan. A scam artist will change the subject, tell you how much you are going to make, do anything to keep you off balance. A nominal application fee is normal, but you need to see something in return. Ask for a standard contract in advance. See what they say. If they cannot explain it, time to begin paying closer attention. E-mail them a list of questions and examine which they prefer to answer and how.
One thing I have seen that is consistent with hard money lenders who never close is their phone etiquette. It does not matter what type of loan you are getting, FHA, conventional, or hard money. If a lender has a difficult time returning calls, it can only get worse. I have seen this happen a few times, the result is always the same, delays in the entire process. Lenders have to complete certain tasks on a particular schedule. With few exceptions, I have seen a direct correlation between lenders success on the phone and the entire loan process. Some of the on line Real Estate hard money lenders I have dwelt with never answered their phone and never came up with the money to close. The result is always the same with you the Buyer holding the bag. And you know what it is filled with.
If you want to invest in the Wisconsin Real Estate, I may be able to help. I’ve worked with hard money lenders, found them properties, listed and sold properties for them and also work with a local lender to arrange loans. If you want to explore this market, feel free to contact me. As with everything else, it does take money to make money. If you are a new investor, 10 to 20% down from your own funds is not out of the ordinary. You also have to show cash funds to complete repairs. Having a written plan will help. It is a simple process that takes a while to build, but can and has been done. Hopes and dreams may be great, but don’t plan on wasting peoples time by not putting in the required effort on your part first. But putting in your time and effort can save you a lot of time, headaches and money in the long run.