Monthly Archives: April 2018

How To Get Your Exciting Real Estate

First to obtain your Real Estate license you will need to do a 63 hours pre licensing course. Many online educational sites offer this and can be done in the comfort of your home. If you are more of an In class person, your local community college might offer the course. When taken in actual class, the course may take 4 to 6 weeks due to their scheduling. Online classes you can do at your own pace. So if you want, you may do the entire course in one week.

Below are some requirements for the state of Florida to obtain your Real Estate License

General Requirements:

Must be 18 Years of age, have a high school diploma or GED to get your Real Estate License.

Educational Requirements:

Complete the 63 Hour pre licensing course and pass.

Exam and Application Requirements:

· Submit a completed real estate license application, submit your finger prints and pay any fees associated.

· Pass the Florida Real Estate Sales Associate state exam with at least a score of 75 points out of 100 points or pass the Florida Real Estate Law exam with a score of 30 points out of 40 points.

· Activate your license with a Real Estate Broker using the DBPR proper forms or may be activated online by your broker.

These are the basic steps needed to obtain your Real Estate license in Florida. How to get your Real Estate license sounds easy and to some extent, it is. However, the exam and amount of studying shall not be taken lightly. I would recommend searching online a bit more before you decide on a Real Estate license. If you want to make a career change, this is definitely a great one.

So How Do You Actually Start In Real Estate and What Does It Offer?

Firstly of course once you have obtained your License, activate it with a broker. This is where you have to decide what path you want in Real Estate. Different companies offer different options, splits, fees, training and so on. Let take for example:

Property Management: It is best to search for local property management companies. There are also national property management companies which you can join. Once you join them, through out your time in this field, you’ll gain knowledge and experience on all legal aspects of property management. There are a lot of them, from how to evict a tenant to how to post the notices on their door and within what time frames. Property management involves a lot of work and at the same time is rewarding. Many agents lean towards this field due to the steady stream of monthly income. Others don’t want to deal with the tenant headaches. Example, if you manage 150 units and average a 10% call rate, that would be 15 different issues to deal with during that month. These may be from A/C units not working, to plumbing issues; tenants locked out of their homes and need access, to tenants disturbing other neighbors. One the bright side that means 135 units won’t cause any issues. On average, the management companies charge around 10% of the monthly rent to owners (all Companies and State are different), in return, you as on agent might get a percentage of that. Since all companies offer different payments, let’s just average a monthly income for the company. Let’s say 150 Units rented for $1000 each monthly that would be 10% of $1000 which is $100 X 150 units ‘equals’ $15K monthly income. Now you see the steady income I mentioned above.

Luxury Real Estate: This also a very nice niche once you obtain your license. There are pros and cons as there is with Property Management. When speaking about Luxury Real Estate we are speaking about homes from 1M and up. The obvious benefit to this is the amount of money you earn on each transaction. Example, 1M sale at 3% commission gets you 30K income, now subtract your splits with your broker, let says 80/20 split, agent would receive $24k commission, do that 4 times a year and you are at 96K. Not bad at all for going to a pre licensing 65 hour course. Let’s point out the cons. It’s not as easy as it sounds or as seen on TV. This market is more of a referral based market. You can definitely do it without referral, but at some point, you need to have those buyers or sellers in your sphere. The cost to reach this price range is very costly upfront. We are talking about a marketing campaign in the range of 4k to 5k a month at least in advertising within those areas. After a few months of the campaign you might receive a few calls from sellers or buyers. There is a lot more to it than just mailing, it needs to be done the proper way. Thus a large investment is needed to start right of the bat in that price range.

Real Estate Agent: The two previous paths don’t appear to everyone, I would say 90% of agents go with the traditional Real Estate Agent path. This path in a sense leads to the two previous ones as well. As you are in the field, you’ll be learning from other agents, property managers and so on. Why so many agents go with the traditional Real Estate Agent is due to its training and perhaps quicker income earning. If you put in the work, you can earning income in as little as 30 days, while property management and Luxury Real Estate does take its time for the business to start coming in. The cons of this path is the amount of training, start up and hard work you will need to put upfront due to inexperience and mistakes you will make before have a steady and stable income (whatever stable means to you). Agents usually earn 3% of whatever the sale amount of the home is. Example, 200K home, commission would be 6K, let’s take the same split as before 80/20, agent receives $4,800 X 1 a month X 12, agent would earn $57,600 yearly. Not bad at all. Do keep in mind that some, the majority or most Real Estate companies do charge a transaction fee, desk if, yearly fee and so on.

Buying Real Estate

The first step to shopping for real estate in Nicaragua is to forget everything you know about the process back home… no matter where home may be.

Let me make one thing clear from the start. There are incredible bargains to be had buying property in Nicaragua. In fact, there is no other market in the Americas where insisting upon a 40% return on investment or better is reasonable. However, there are few similarities between the rules and regulations governing the real estate industries in North America or Europe, and Nicaragua. It’s because of this lack of similarities that foreign investors often get into trouble. There is a preconceived notion on the part of foreigners that the Nicaragua real estate industry is as carefully regulated as it is elsewhere, and it is this incorrect assumption that sets foreign investors up to be cheated. The only universal real estate investing rule that applies as equally in Nicaragua as it does anyway else is Caveat emptor, buyer beware.

Real Estate Brokers

Basically there’s no such thing in Nicaragua as a real estate brokerage that a Canadian, American or European would assume the term represents. There are real estate brokerage offices. Some even have familiar franchise names, but that’s where the similarity ends.

There is no mandated, formal training of real estate sales people, nor are there specific licensing requirements. Anyone can become a “realtor” by paying for a merchant license or incorporating a Nicaraguan company. I’m not suggesting this means “all” real estate sales people are incompetent or untrained… many are. In fact, there are a number of retired realtors who relocated to Nicaragua and maintain successful, upstanding businesses. However, there are many more who are not at all competent, and operate on the razor edge between honest business and outright fraud. Caveat emptor again!

There are no district or federal regulatory boards governing the real estate industry in place. Real estate sales are no more regulated than a vehicle sale transacted by a street vendor. Outright criminality is not ignored by authorities, but having the perpetrator jailed is unlikely to result in recovery of any money lost. The revenge should make a fleeced buyer feel better though. Nicaraguan jails exist to punish criminals, not rehabilitate, and they are Hell on Earth. Unfortunately though, most issues that can arise in a real estate transaction are considered civil matters by law enforcement and have to be treated as such. In short, whatever money you think you were cheated out of… consider it lost. Even with a judgement in the plaintiff’s favor, collecting money owed in a judgement rarely happens. So again, caveat emptor.

A serious shortcoming in the Nicaragua real estate market is that there is nothing similar to a Multi Listing Service (MLS). The lack of any form of MLS means there is no central registry of properties for sale, nor any information as to what a property sold for. The result is that it’s very difficult to decide what a house or commercial building in a particular neighbourhood is worth since there are no comparable property transactions to use as a guide. Appraisers base their appraisals on replacement cost mostly, and whatever else they provide is pure guess work. Ironically, banks require appraisals created by licensed Nicaraguan appraisers if mortgage funding is being requested.

There’s no such thing in Nicaragua as a listing similar to what most foreigners would understand the term to mean. Real estate shoppers will hear a realtor say that he or she has a listing, but it’s common to see two or more real estate signs on a single property. Likewise, the same property may appear on multiple real estate company websites and be advertised online by numerous different people. More confusing, the prices advertised may vary for the same house, sometimes by tens of thousands of dollars. Nicaraguans selling their homes rarely lock themselves into an agreement with one party wanting to sell their land, house or commercial building. If you want to sell something, the assumption is the more people trying to sell it the better. And by more people that can be realtors, the owner themselves, their family and friends, a neighbor, or a horse drawn carriage driver. This seems chaotic to a foreigner shopping for a retirement or vacation home, but it makes perfect sense to Nicaraguans. Without an MLS service that allows numerous realtors to show prospective buyers a listed property, letting everyone try to sell a property seems to be the best way to get exposure.

Another misconception foreign purchasers have when buying real estate in Nicaragua is that the seller is paying the real estate agent. This is sometimes the case, but even when it is the buyer may be asked to pay the commission. Yes, this is legal in Nicaragua. In fact, not only could there be a commission paid by the seller and buyer, but the real estate agent may have added an amount to what the seller actually wants in his or her hand. This too is legal. The worst case scenario is that the seller wants US$50,000 for his or her home. The sellers offers anyone selling the home US$1000 or a percentage. The real estate selling agent advertises the home for US$59,900, allowing for negotiating room. A buyer settles on US$55,000 but is told that in Nicaraguan the buyer pays the commission. Not actually the truth, but common enough that people think it’s a rule. The requested commission can be anything up to as much as 10%, or it can be a flat fee. Once all is said and done and the buyer agrees to purchase the property for US$55,000. In a case such as this, the ‘agent’ will insist on a nonrefundable US$5000 down payment. At closing the seller receives the US$50,000 that he or she wanted and the selling agent pockets the rest.

I know of a purchasers who handed a ‘realtor’ US$65.000 to purchase a 3 acre farm with a small house on the property. The ‘realtor’ then went to the owner of the property and paid him US$20,000 to buy the land. It gets worse… the ‘realtor’ never bothered to make the title transfer until the buyer discovered he was not the owner when he tried to pay long overdue taxes. In the end the property was purchased by a developer for little more than the original US$65,000, but 8 years of appreciation later. In another case Europeans purchase a home and overpaid US$85,000. Of course basing their offer on the European real estate values they knew, it was assumed they were getting a bargain. The ‘realtor’ pocketed the US$85,000 and a commission he charged the buy as well. Again, perfectly legal in Nicaragua… so caveat emptor.

The way to navigate through what foreigners view as market chaos is to use a knowledgeable real estate consultant to find a property you want, negotiate the price, terms and conditions, conduct the necessary due diligence, validate the title and survey, and so on. This is a fee based service but far less expensive than a percentage sales commission, and far, far less than a costly mistake would be. One such service is Nica Investments, a real estate consultancy that assists foreign investors purchasing real estate or businesses in Nicaragua.

Real Estate, Real Property

Delaware, and the rest of the original British Colonies, has some land that is leased rather than owned by the residents of that land. Much of it is not evident to the casual observer.

The land on Lewes Beach is leased, not owned by the home owners. The land of Lewes Beach is owned by the Town of Lewes. The lands of Rehoboth by the Sea and Dewey Beach include leased land too. Most of the leases on that land will NOT be renewed but will return to the owners and the homes on top of that land will be removed by the home owners at their expense. Much of the land in Riverdale, on Indian River Bay, adjacent to Oak Orchard is leased as well. In Riverdale the leased land is owned by Chief Clark of the Nanticoke Indians.

We have about half the inhabitants of Sussex County living on leased land; most of that leased land is found in what people call mobile home parks or communities. However, in those communities there are seldom any homes that are truly mobile and there are even two story stick built homes on some of the leased lands in those communities. Condominiums and town houses are sometimes found on leased land as well. Some folks find all this rather difficult to understand.

We Realtors and Attorneys use the term fee simple to describe land that is being sold as real property; that is real estate. We used the term leased land or leasehold interest to describe land that is not transferring as real estate.

This rather lengthy text is regarding Leased Land, Real Estate, Private Property, Chattels, Mobile Homes, Homes on Leased Land and a legal dissertation to define, describe and determine the differences.

Terminology is important when discussing Real Estate, i.e. real property.

Black’s Law Dictionary is the recognized, definitive source for legal definitions under our American Law; which is derived from English Law

PROPERTY: In the strict legal sense, an aggregate of rights which are guaranteed and protected by government. BL6, p. 1216.

PERSONALTY: Personal property; movable property; chattels; property that is not attached to real estate. BL6, p. 1144

PROPERTY: (personal property) – In broad and general sense, everything that is the subject of ownership, not coming under the denomination of real estate. A right or interest less than a freehold in realty, or any right or interest which one has in things movable. BL6, p. 1217

Therefore personal property, is that which can be easily removed from the real estate, and is not real estate. Personal property includes crops, trees, shrubs, trailers, sheds, cars, mobile homes, manufactured homes that have a Department of Motor Vehicle title instead of a deed, and the contents of a home or building. In a home or business the personal property includes drapes, lighting fixtures, rugs (not installed carpeting) free-standing cabinets and cupboards, furniture, and all the contents of closets, drawers and buildings. Buildings without a foundation, that is sheds that are just supported by blocks are chattel property, that is personal property, and not part of the real estate. Such chattel includes dog houses and particularly the little storage buildings that are so common outside of homes today.

LANDS: In the most general sense, comprehends any ground, soil or earth whatsoever… Black’s Law dictionary 6th Ed. (BL6), p.877

PRIVATE PROPERTY: As protected from being taken for public uses, is such property as belongs absolutely to an individual, and of which he has the exclusive right of disposition. Property of a specific, fixed and tangible nature, capable of being in possession and transmitted to another, such as houses, lands, and chattels. BL6, p. 1217. Private property is land, houses, and chattels. Private property is protected from being taken for public uses. Private property is owned absolutely.

REAL ESTATE synonymous with real property” and p.1218 REAL PROPERTY … A general term for lands, tenements, hereditaments (those things which are hereditary); which on the death of the owner intestate, passes to his heir.” BL6, p1263

ESTATE: The degree, quantity, nature and extent of interest which a person has in REAL and PERSONAL property. An ESTATE in lands, tenements, and hereditaments signifies such interest as the tenant has therein. BL6, p.547 The definitions here all refer to: real estate = real property = estate = lands, tenements, and hereditaments. At first, one might think that ‘real property’ is the proper term for ‘all lands’. But it doesn’t state the manner of ownership as clearly as the definition of estate. We just had a huge instance of this when the thousands of leased land lots under the homes of several thousand people, in Angola, Pots Nets, and Long Neck areas owned by the Robert Tunnel family was inherited by the children.

IN OUR AREA THERE ARE NUMEROUS LEASED LAND PROPERTIES AND THOSE PROPERTIES ARE THE REAL ESTATE OF THE OWNER OF THE LAND – NOT THE OWNER OF THE HOME WHICH IS UPON THAT LAND. If you examine the definition for ESTATE it refers to an interest in the same articles defined in real property and real estate.

What is this LAND and WHO owns it and HOW is it owned? Land can be private property OR estate, i.e. real estate. Estate is an interest in “real property” by a person or a tenant. Private property is owned absolutely by an individual.

INTEREST: More particularly it means a right to have the advantage of accruing from anything; any right in the nature of property, but less than title. – BL6, p.812. By this definition it’s clear that INTEREST cannot be TITLE, since it is less than title. Interest may be a property right to land, but it’s not a right to absolute ownership of land. Those who live on leased land, thus, have only an interest in the land; and that interest is a lease-hold interest. Is there a definition of property that says it’s land held in absolute ownership, as does private property’s definition? We can delve into this more.

ABSOLUTE TITLE – As applied to title to land, an exclusive title, or at least a title which excludes all others not compatible with it. An absolute title to land cannot exist at the same time in different persons or in different governments. BL6, p.1485

PRIVATE PROPERTY – … is such property as belongs absolutely to an individual, and of which he has the exclusive right of disposition. BL6, p.1217

OWN – To have a good legal title; to hold as property; to have a legal or rightful title to; to have; to possess. BL6, p. 1105. To “own” is to have title. An interest is LESS THAN TITLE.

ESTATE: The degree, quantity, nature and extent of interest which a person has in real and personal property. An estate in lands, tenements, and hereditaments signifies such interest as the tenant has therein. – – BL6, p.547 From these definitions, it’s plain that we can’t absolutely “own” real estate. We can only have a qualified ownership of qualified and described ownership of Real Estate. Thus, we need that Deed Description to describe it and qualify it. That ownership is also qualified by various government rights, decrees and laws, from antiquity, such as rights against trespass. That ownership is qualified by taxation, zoning, rights of way, and a myriad of other entailments. We need, therefore, a title search to determine those entailments, some of which are invisible.

Therefore there is NOT as much difference in the rights and privileges of ownership and interest as one is led to believe. I have no problem with those who live on leased land instead of owning the land. Usually they are paying far less than it would cost them to own the same property. However, they don’t often get any appreciation of the land; the landlord gets the appreciation in real value, while the resident can appreciate the lifestyle for less cost per month or year.

However, since an interest in leased land is not automatically transferable and is NOT Real Estate and since the chattel property upon it, the mobile home is personal property, without a deed but instead has a title – Realtors are not by law supposed to be involved in the sale of such – but we are. We are supposed to only be selling real property. It gets all cloudy and foggy doesn’t it. That is why there are people and companies who sell mobile homes on leased land who are not realtors and don’t need to be. In fact, although no one will discuss it, Realtors are not supposed to sell mobile homes on leased land. We don’t need to engage in that battle any more than I just did by describing it.

OWNERSHIP: The complete dominion, title, or proprietary, including right in a thing or claim… Ownership of property is either absolute or qualified. The ownership of property is absolute when a single person has dominion over it, and may use it or dispose of it according to his pleasure, subject only to general laws. The ownership is qualified when it is shared with one or more persons, when the time of enjoyment is deferred or limited, or when the use is restricted. – BL6, p. 1106 Such sharing is common with husband and wife, partners, families and corporations, etc.

DOMINION – Generally accepted definition of “dominion” is perfect control in right of ownership. The word implies both title and possession and appears to require a complete retention of control over disposition. – – -BL6, p. 486 I think you’d agree that zoning, building codes, home owners association covenants, condominium documents of use and business licensing is a restriction on the use of land (if it’s Real Estate). And there is obviously the fact that failure to pay property taxes on real estate will result in loss of said property. That’s definitely not absolute ownership. But private property is defined as ABSOLUTE OWNERSHIP, not qualified (interest).

PROPERTY (tangible) – All property that is touchable and has real existence (physical) whether it is real or personal. – – BL6, p. 1218 In summation, it takes a good attorney, and one well versed and experienced in real estate to understand the complex definitions, rights, liabilities, and privileges of real estate ownership. I have been buying and selling real estate for myself and assisting others in the buying and selling of real estate for thirty years. I have taught courses on real estate and real estate law. And, I would NOT consider purchasing a property, or purchasing property on leased land without the professional and paid assistance of an attorney who is a real estate specialist in the exact county in which the property is located. Other attorneys from other areas are not valid choices at all.

Essential Features That Make Real Estate Investing Profitable

Every now and then persons trying to make up their minds where to put their money ask me if real estate ventures are more or less profitable, compared to other businesses opportunities around.

My response is always that apart from its potential for yielding significant profits, investing in real estate often confers long terms benefits.

I discuss five such advantages below:

1. You Can Refurbish (to Enhance the Value of) Real Estate
After you buy a stock, you hold it for a period of time and hopefully sell it for a profit. The success of the stock depends on company management and their corporate success, which is out of your control.

Unlike other conventional investment instruments, like stocks, for instance, whose rate of returns, depend on third parties (e.g. company management), real estate investments are directly under your control.

Even though you will not be able to control changes that may occur in demographic and economic aspects, or impact of nature induced changes, there are many other aspects that you can control, to boost the returns on your investment in it.

Examples include aspects relating to adding repairs, or improvements/enhancements to the physical property and tenants you allow to live in it.

If you do it right, the value of your investment will grow, resulting in increased wealth for you.

2. Real Estate Investing, When Done Right, is Proven to be Profitable Even During a Recession (like the one we’re in right now)
It has on several occasions, been used to effect a bail out, from financial setbacks, such as those that many have experienced during the economic downturn happening in Nigeria today.

A considerable number of clients have confided in me that due to the present economic situation, they are not sure of profitable channels to invest their money. Some of them are done with bonds and treasury bills, but are in dire need of a new investment.

We had extensive discussions, and based on my expertise as a real estate consultant, I recommended landed property investment, as the most suitable and secure alternative channel of investment.

This is because, even if all businesses crumble, land will always appreciate greatly. Then to drive my point home, I ended by sharing the following apt quote, by a former American president:

“Real estate can’t be lost, nor carried away, managed with reasonable care, it’s about the safest investment in the world” – Franklin Roosevelt.

Not surprisingly, the client chose to take my advice – and signed up: it was the obvious, common sense thing to do!

3. Real Estate Investments Are Immune to Inflation
In other words, investing your money in ownership of viable real estate can protect you from the harsh effects that inflation usually has on other conventional investments.

This is because the value of real estate generally tends to rise in positive correlation with inflationary pressures. This is why property values and rental rates go up with rising inflation.

The nature of real estate, therefore affords owners the unique advantage of being able to adjust the rates they offer, to match inflation.

Monthly rents for example can be raised to compensate for inflation – thus providing a cushion effect against inflation induced losses that other monetary investments suffer.

4. Real Estate is Uniquely for Being Universally Acceptable as Collateral, Towards Securing Funding from Banks
Today, real estate in form of either building or lands, with proper titles (i.e. Certificate of Occupancy – aka “C of O”) is the most recognized and accepted form of collateral in Nigeria – and some other parts of the world.

It has the unique feature of being able to protect the interests of both the borrower and the bank (that’s doing the lending), so that funds can be released i.e. after due verification, and terms and conditions are agreed.

This is one of the key advantages a private C of O has over the global C of O, because the former (i.e. private C of O) is what will be needed by the intending borrower, in the event of any future financial dealings with bank in Nigeria.

5. Real Estate Investing Allows Use of Other People’s Money
In other words, you can do it even if you do not have enough money. You just need to know how.

This is possible because real estate is physical property or what is called a hard asset. That is an attribute that makes it attractive to financiers i.e. people with money to invest.

This is why many times real estate products are bought with debt – unlike conventional investment products like stocks which are NOT tangible, and therefore perceived as being more risky to invest in.

So real estate investment can be done using cash or mortgage financing. In the latter case, payments can be so arranged to allow payment of low initial sums, provided by you or a willing third party.

Those payments will be happening on landed property which will continue increasing in value throughout the duration of such payments – and indeed beyond. That further inspires confidence in the minds of those financing the acquisition, that their investment is safe.

Little wonder that real estate investing has continued to prosper for so long!

[A WORD OF CAUTION] The listed benefits notwithstanding, I still tell prospective investors that due diligence is a crucial requirement for succeeding.

Whether you do everything yourself or use industry professionals like me, it is imperative that you exercise caution and arm yourself with relevant information and education.

This is something I advice my clients to do all the time, so they can make good decisions in investing.

The importance of the above cannot be overstated, especially in Lagos where quite a number of individuals, have had their fingers badly burnt, because they failed to take the needed precautions.

My purpose is to help clients avoid having such horrible experiences, by bringing my years of experience in this field to bear in serving them.