Pokemon Go…AWAY!

Things were getting out of hand at the small senior center in Quebec City. Hordes of people gathered every evening on the lawn of the private center on a quiet residential street. Strangers set up chairs and spread blankets as if it were a public park. Using smartphones loaded with a hot new game, the crowds played late into the night.

Some nights, according to seniors who live at the site, groups of more than 100 people played Pokemon Go until 3 a.m., keeping the neighborhood wide awake. The center director finally hired a security guard to shoo away trespassers, some of whom had been urinating on trees and dropping trash on the property.

Why Your Vacation Rental Needs a Lease & Reservation Policy

Vacationers should expect to sign a rental agreement, whether they are renting a cozy cabin for a weekend or beachfront home for an entire summer. Just as even a brief getaway fulfills a vacationer's quest for a change of pace, a lease satisfies the owner's need for asset protection. In fact, short-term tenants are unlikely to view a vacation rental as their “home.” They may stay for a few days and never return, so it's important to provide them with a lease that has straightforward guidelines on caring for your property.

More homeowners are handling their own reservations and leasing agreements, especially with the increased use of sites like Airbnb.com. The San Francisco-based, privately held company started in 2008 and now boasts more than 2 million listings in 191 countries.

Should I Buy a Turn-Key Rental Property or a Fixer-Upper

You're in the market for a rental property and you've narrowed the options to several possibilities when you confront an investor's dilemma: Should you make an offer on the tidy unit that's in perfect shape and ready to rent? Or, should you go for the one that's priced for far less, but will need some serious TLC before it can be leased at a rent that meets your target income?

If you're handy around the house and you have free time, the fixer-upper could be worth serious consideration. And if you possess remodeling skills and solid connections with contractors who can do the specialty work that you can't, then a property that needs TLC really might be the best bet.

However, there are still questions to consider before signing the papers. For instance, how close will you be, geographically, to this home-that-needs-love?

How Vulnerable Are Your Assets as a Landlord?

The owner of a Pittsburgh apartment complex is being sued by a woman who claims that when she toured a rental unit, she was so startled by a dog's sudden barking that she fell down a flight of steps. Ten months later, she has filed suit in Pennsylvania Supreme Court, saying that the stairway at the complex was poorly-maintained and that her injuries have required extensive and ongoing treatment.

She is seeking monetary and punitive damages, meaning that she hopes for a judgement that will cover her costs along with a payment that could be as much as double her actual costs. Depending on the seriousness of her injuries, the cost of her medical treatment and loss of wages, a favorable ruling could cost the complex owner hundreds of thousands of dollars. If the suit had been filed in a state that has a higher cap on punitive damages, a ruling in her favor could result in a greater award.

Can Veterans Use VA Loans for Real Estate Investing?

Mortgage programs outlined by the Department of Veteran Affairs, with alluringly low interest rates and zero money down, seem too good to be true for real estate investors. And they are… sort of.

While it’s true that these loans are designed to help service members purchase homes, not investment properties, they still present an opportunity for investors. Are they a fast-track to creating a real-estate portfolio? Maybe not. But for those who might not otherwise be able to jump into the world of investing, VA loans offer a way to save money and bring in some cash.

Savings for Service Members

VA loans were created by the U.S. government in 1944 to enable service members to purchase their own homes. Veterans, active members of the military and their families can take advantage of the program. The mortgages, although offered by private lenders, are backed by the government and come with very attractive terms, terms that conventional loans just can’t match.

CapEx: How Even Experienced Landlords Mess Up Cash Flow

Ask a novice landlord about cash flow, and they’ll just subtract the mortgage payment from the rent (hopefully they’ll at least include taxes and insurance). If they’re a little sharper, they’ll build in the cost of vacancies and marketing. With more experience, they’ll start factoring in basic maintenance and accounting costs.

But that’s still a recipe for failure.

When the roof starts springing leaks in a half dozen places, most landlords are shocked at the sudden $5,000 bill for a new roof. They reassure themselves (and their spouses) with lines like “This was a one-time setback, I won’t have another bill like this for twenty years.” Eight months later the furnace breaks down and costs $2,000. Next year when the tenants leave, the landlord is surprised when they realize they can’t put off updating the old-school bathroom anymore, if they want to attract decent tenants.

Anyone who wants to consistently make a profit as a landlord and rental investor needs to understand CapEx, or capital expenditures. These are infrequent, but recurring, large expenses that are unavoidable in real estate.

Is It Possible to Own Real Estate Anonymously?

Landlords are frequent targets of lawsuits. Who wouldn’t want to own their investment properties anonymously? But governments don’t like anonymity, especially when it comes to large assets that are frequently at the center of legal actions. Most states' laws are designed to prevent anonymous ownership of tangible assets.

So is it ever possibly to truly own real estate anonymously?

The short answer is (drum roll please)… not perfectly, but you can make it difficult for anyone to figure out who really owns your property.

That said, it’s pretty easy to buy real estate anonymously. Anyone can use an associate’s name (a “nominee” in legalese) on the contract of sale. The nominee can then assign you the contract of sale before settlement with just a signature, or if they buy it in a company name, they can simply assign ownership of the company to you after purchasing. Easy as pie. In the latter scenario, your name appears exactly nowhere on the settlement papers, sales contract or articles of incorporation.

The Rich Have Multiple Sources of Investment Income… But You Should Start with One

Millionaires don’t earn that title from only investing in stocks, or just from working and setting aside money in a savings account. Most of America’s wealthy did not inherit their riches either. Rather, most millionaires have their income eggs in many baskets… but they didn’t start out that way.

The majority of Americans have one source of income: their job. Some have a stock portfolio, which adds a second source. Rental properties are a third source, for landlords. Profit from real estate flipping or other businesses is a nice fourth source. But we’re straying too far ahead. Before anyone tries to have seven income streams, they should first master one new way of making money.

Become an Expert in One Niche Before Tackling More

Multitasking is murder on productivity. There are countless studies on the subject; read some if you’re skeptical. To breed success, choose one field to focus on first.

Focusing on one area will help you become an expert in that field, rather than a dabbler with

Should Real Estate Investors Get Their Realtor License?

Paying Realtor fees is a cost of doing business as a real estate investor. But what if you didn’t have to pay some of those fees? What if you became your own agent, keeping the money you’d normally pay to someone else and increasing your return on investment? Seems like an easy competitive advantage.

Well, maybe. While becoming a licensed real estate agent can be a money-saving venture, it doesn’t necessarily pay to do so. Like any other major financial decision, there is plenty to consider before diving in. We’ve rounded up some information about the pros and cons of becoming a licensed agent and what you’ll need to do to make it happen.

The Basics

The licensing requirements for real estate agents vary from state to state, so you’ll need to check with your state’s real estate commission for the specifics. In general, you’ll need to start by taking classes and passing an exam. In California, for example, you’re required to pass

Real Estate Investing 101 with Industry Expert Paul Cohen, Esq.

Navigating the world of real estate investments can be tricky, to say the least. This is why we have taken your most frequently asked questions and handed them over to the experts. The answers will help you move the needle on building wealth through real estate.

What qualities define a good investment property?

At the risk of stating the obvious, a good investment is one with a low buy-in price, and either high potential rent or high after-repair value (ARV). Also, most investors will want to buy in with low-crime, low-vacancy neighborhoods, and avoid the risks of properties on the very low end.

Smart investors look for neighborhoods that are not completely saturated by homeowners, but are not all renters either. Stick with working class and middle class homes as a general rule, unless you intend to specialize in niche markets, such as student housing, apartment buildings and low-end units.

Investors without experience in renovating properties should avoid properties in need of serious repairs. The web of required permits and inspections is often difficult and frustrating to navigate