Referral Letter Marketing For Realtors & Agents – Prospects Who Trust You Before They Even Meet You!

What do you think of when you hear the marketing term “Referral Letter Marketing?” I’ll bet you $20 you think I’m talking about getting letters of recommendation and testimonials from your past clients, right? That’s a good marketing idea for Realtors too but I’m talking about getting a constant stream of client referrals from professionals like CPA’s, mortgage brokers, financial planners, attorneys and contractors; all with just a personal letter written by you, the world’s best Realtor.

Here’s the referral letter marketing idea for Realtors or agents in a nutshell: Generate a list of professionals that are likely to have clients that could potentially be your clients too. Put together a very personalized letter to mail to these professionals (regular mail, not email). Get creative on the envelope or package you send it in as well at some type of additional marketing piece, like a DVD you make using Animoto. Follow up with each professional by phone, if possible, and continue to mail/contact them once per month.

Many savvy Realtors and agents use this single marketing method to fuel their real estate businesses for their entire careers! There’s nothing wrong with following the leader.

First, let’s start a list of professionals that actually have the clients you could work with…

  • Certified Public Accountants
  • Mortgage Broker and Lenders (obviously)
  • Financial Planners and Advisors
  • Attorneys
  • General Contractors
  • Interior Designers
  • Real Estate Appraisers
  • Title and Escrow Officers
  • Electricians
  • Plumbers
  • Landscapers
  • Roofers
  • Tree Service Companies
  • Handymen
  • You get the idea…

That list should get you off and running but there’s many more you can add in the future.

So how do you generate this list of specific professionals to market to? Great question. You have a couple of options, depending on how much money you have in your marketing budget.

One option is to search the yellow pages online. You should already have a geographic area you stick to so you’ll want to stay within that region, for the most part. The time consuming part about this option is the manual labor. You have to go through each person listed and find their name, phone number and mailing address. It could take you a while but if you have more time than marketing dollars, this is the way to go.

Another option for building this marketing list of professionals is to simply buy a list. In the same way you’re probably on one or more Realtor or agent lists being sold out there, just about every profession has their own list for sale too.

This isn’t some kind of “black market” or illegal list, don’t worry. These types of professional lists are out there because professionals (like us Realtors or agents) will sign up for various publications, organizations, events, etc. and their information gets compiled and sold. Surprised? Well, now you know where all that junk mail and spam comes from.

There are quite a few list companies out there but one of the largest that I’d recommend would be InfoUSA. You should be …

Title Companies Vs Real Estate Lawyers

Is a real estate lawyer a better choice than a title company when it comes to selling your home? You can choose any one of the two but you should first be aware of the difference between real estate lawyers and title companies. Here is some information about both the entities and whose services can benefit you most.

Real estate lawyers

Real estate lawyers specialize in laws relating to real estate and make sure that your interests as a seller are met in the transaction. These lawyers can act as escrow agents as they can hold your earnest money, down payments as well as help you with the requisite documentation. These attorneys can also help you understand the legalities involved in the sale transaction, the offer made by the buyer and your rights as a seller.

An attorney can also handle a closing in case the lender’s lawyer doesn’t do that. Every real estate lawyer has two most important responsibilities.

• To advise on the documentation process of the transaction

• To represent you at a closing

Besides these two important services, an attorney also negotiates any modifications in the purchase contract that the seller wants to incorporate. Preparing the seller’s deed, another crucial aspect, is also taken care of by the attorney. The attorney you hire will also accompany you on your meeting with the client/buyer at the time of settlement. He/she will also advise you on the tax implications involved in your home or property sale.

Title companies

Title companies are insurance agencies that represent title insurance companies. Such companies insure titles to lenders and buyers by ensuring that a title is free from any encumbrance that can cause financial loss.

The title company assures the buyer that he/she can get his/her title on the home or property with no liens against it. The availability of a title on the particular home/property is made clear and vouched for by a title company. In the process, such an entity protects the rights and interests of both parties in question.

Usually, most title companies insure a closing with the help of a lawyer to fulfill certain requirements. Closings also depend on the area you are living in. Toronto natives can hire the services of a real estate lawyer for sale closings.

Keep the following things in mind when you sell your property:

Title companies can hold the down payment and close your home without additional costs. Also, there is a possibility that title companies may give you a discount on your title insurance if you had previously used their services to either refinance or buy your home or property. Lawyers can also close your home/property sale and hold your down payment but may charge an additional fee.

A lawyer can charge a higher fee to write a contract. In cases of simple transactions, this can complicate negotiations. But in most other property sale transactions, the services of a real estate lawyer can prove invaluable.…

Are Your Loan Officers Employees or Independent Contractors

Many mortgage lenders/brokers treat their loan officers (who are their salespersons) as independent contractors. Those loan officers are paid on a commission based on the successful funding of a loan. The mortgage lenders/brokers pay the loan officers either as each transaction closes or on a periodic basis. The amount paid to the loan officer contains no deduction for federal, state or local taxes. Frequently, the loan officer does not receive any benefits, such as company-paid health insurance or paid sick or vacation time. At the end of each year, the mortgage lenders/brokers issue IRS Form 1099s to their loan officers.

As a mortgage lender/broker, you cannot classify whether your loan officers are independent contractors or employees. That task has been given to the Internal Revenue Service, the U.S. Department of Labor, your state unemployment insurance agency, your state department of labor and your state workers compensation insurance agency. Although each agency has its own guidelines, typically the determination turns on the degree of control that the mortgage lender/broker exercises and the degree of independence that the loan officer enjoys. When the mortgage lender/broker has the right to dictate what will be done and how it will be done, then the loan officer is an employee. The government agencies look at facts concerning the behavioral control of the loan officer, the financial control of the loan officer and the relationship between the mortgage lender/broker and the loan officer. The Internal Revenue Service has a 20 factor test to determine whether an employer/employee relationship exists. Such factors include whether the loan officer has to comply with instructions, gets training from the mortgage lender/broker, works exclusively for the mortgage lender/broker, whether the loan officer can independently hire assistants, whether the loan officer has set hours of work, whether there is a continuing relationship, and whether regular reports must be given to a supervisor. The IRS seems to have a bias towards finding an employer-employee relationship. Even if the mortgage lender/broker has a written agreement with the loan officer classifying him/her as an independent contractor, that is not binding on any federal or state agency.

If you have been treating your loan officers as independent contractors, when in reality, they pass the 20 factor test as employees, what are the ramifications? If the Internal Revenue Service or Department of Labor find you have misclassified employees, they will require you to pay back withholding taxes plus interest, or they can assess fines that can bankrupt a company, or even file criminal charges against the owners. Once the IRS has come in, other federal and state agencies follow right behind them and assess their fines and penalties as well. If there is anything left, the loan officer can sue for unemployment compensation, retirement benefits, profit sharing, vacation pay, disability or any other benefit that he/she would have received as an employee. Many mortgage companies have gone out of business because they treated many of their loan officers as independent contractors and did not comply with wage-and-hour …

Looking for Affordable Apartments for Rent

Are you moving to a new city? If you are then, finding affordable apartments for rent is probably one of your priorities. You can choose from plenty of options in your search these days. Finding the right rental property may not be as difficult as you imagine.

Your income is the first thing that you should consider if you are looking for an apartment. It may be possible to seek help from organizations like HUD if you fall within a certain yearly income. You can benefit from the affordable apartments for rent for low income tenants that these groups offer.

Do you fall within the state guidelines of programs like HUD? If you do, then you should make sure that you take advantage of the opportunity to find affordable apartments for rent according to your income. These organizations work with your specific level of income so you will only pay what you can actually afford.

Asking questions from the people I knew was the first thing I did, when I was looking for affordable apartments for rent. This turned out to be one of the most valuable resources available. I was lucky to have friends and family members who were willing to help me find a place that I could afford on my meager waitress income. I have to say that I was shocked when I discovered many cheap, unadvertised apartments for rent in my area.

An unadvertised rental that was behind a private home was one of the nicest options available to me. I found a cozy one bedroom suite that was perfect for me in that small building. I almost fell in love with the place, even though it wasn’t one of the affordable apartments for rent that I put on my list. That wonderful apartment was just too far out of the way for me.

I had no choice but to try the other affordable apartments for rent on my list. I had my eye on a place that was located on a perfect location and I already knew the landlord. I talked to the owner and asked to be put on a waiting list because the current tenant was about to move. I would have never known that the apartment was going to be available if I hadn’t networked with friends and family.

You can also find affordable apartments for rent by searching the newspaper. However, shopping around might be a better option. It’s important that you become familiar with the neighborhood. It would also be wise to consider how far you want to drive to work each day. You can find the best cheap apartments for rent available by simply asking around.…

The Construction of Floors For Residential Homes

A floor is a horizontal structure which carries both dead and live loads in a building and divides the building into stories. Some buildings may have one, two, three or even four stories. These are important considerations when you are looking for an apartment to buy in Jamaica.

Floor is classified into two main categories, the ground floors and upper floors. There are two types of ground floor:

1. Solid Ground Floor

2. Suspended Ground Floor

The functions of the ground floor are:

i. To withstand the loads that will be imposed on them

ii. To prevent damp penetrating the building

iii. To be reasonably durable so as to reduce the amount of maintenance or replacement work to a minimum

iv. To provide an acceptable surface finish which will meet the needs of users with regards to appearance, comfort, safety, cleanliness and associated matter.

The functions of the upper floors are:

i. To support their own weight, ceiling and imposed loads

ii. To restrict the passage of fire

iii. To restrict the transmission of sound from one floor to another, particularly where this may seriously interfere with activities being undertaken.

iv. To possess an adequate standard of durability

v. To be capable of fairly quick erection

vi. To accommodate services readily

vii. To provide an adequate surface finish which will meet the needs of the users with regards to appearance, comfort, safety cleanliness and associated matters.

The principal materials for a floor are concrete, timber and steel.

The Floor Construction

To build a solid ground floor, the construction is essentially comprised of a combination of some of the following: plain or reinforced concrete bed, hardcore, blinding, selected marl fill and sand bed.

The concrete bed can be either reinforced or plain in-situ concrete, four or six inches thick. The concrete mix batching, mixing, transporting and pouring require careful observation so as to ensure good quality concrete. The reinforcement can be a fabric of welded mild steel or mild steel reinforcing bar. Reinforcement must be free from rust; wire brush to remove any scales. The water for the concrete must be clean. Though this principle is not always followed and a Jamaica real estate investor must be cognizant of this when searching for cheap apartments for sale in Jamaica.

The purpose of the hardcore ground floor is to make up the levels under the floor, to provide a firm working surface, prevent contamination of the lower part of the wet concrete during placing and compaction and reducing the amount of rising ground moisture.

Hardcore materials are rock waste, gravels, coarse sands, river shingles, block rubble, stone rubble and tile rubble. These materials should be hard, durable, must not react with any other materials, drain easily, consolidate quickly, be free from harmful substances and not attack concrete or block work mortar.

The blinding ground floor is needed to even off the surface of hardcore and provide a true surface from which reinforcement can be positioned. The composition of blinding floor generally consists …

How to Get Rich Buying Real Estate From Your Parents With No Money Down and No Credit

You can get rich from the equity appreciation of real estate by buying property from your parents using traditional or creative financing that may or may not require a down payment or credit. Whether you are a first-time home buyer or an experienced investor, you can buy any type of property from your parents from a home you live in with them to an investment property you rent out to tenants. The following lists some reasons why you may find it faster, easier and financially more lucrative to buy from your parents than anyone else.

You Don’t Have to Buy an Entire Property

When you buy from your parents, you can purchase any percentage you want like 10%, 50% or 75%. If you pay less-than-full price, you will have lower mortgage payments and buying a house is more affordable. Regardless of what percentage you own, you still get the benefits of home ownership such as equity appreciation, mortgage interest deductions, property tax deductions and capital gains tax exclusions.

You Can Share the Responsibility with Your Parents

When you buy a partial interest in a property, you and your parents share the responsibility of owning it including the mortgages you each carry, the property taxes, homeowners insurance or homeowners association dues, and maintenance. Because you have more than one person responsible for a property, you can rely on each other for financial strength in the event of hardship.

You Can Elevate Your Status From Renter to Owner

Are you already living at home rent-free or paying rent? Is so, why not buy into your parents’ house, since you already live there, and get an equity stake in their property? Then, you are no longer living with your parents but living in your house that you own with your parents. If your parents have more than one property, you can buy into one of their secondary or investment properties and live on your own.

You Don’t Have to Get a Loan From a Bank

When you buy from your parents, you don’t have to qualify for a loan from a traditional lender such as a bank which has income, asset and credit requirements because your parents can act as a bank and give you seller financing for your purchases.

You Can Create Your Own Home Loan

When your parents act as a bank, you can get favorable loan terms by structuring your own payment schedule with a manageable loan amount, lower-than-market interest rate and repayment term of your choice.

You Don’t Need a Down Payment

Unlike getting financing from a bank which has down payment requirements, you can buy from your parents with no money down.

You May Get Property Tax Benefits

Depending on the state you live in, your property taxes may not be reassessed at current values when you buy from your parents or grandparents because of a parent-child and grandparent to grandchild property tax reassessment exclusion. This is a huge benefit when parents and grandparents have had ownership for …

Caret Bay St Thomas

There is a hidden jewel in St Thomas called Caret Bay. Caret Bay is located on the lush tropical rainforest section of St Thomas. It is only two bays over from Megans Bay and one bay away from beautiful Hull Bay. Most tourists are very unfamiliar with this area of St Thomas. They typically rush to see the things that most tourists do. They travel to Megahans Bay and downtown for shopping.

New homes are being built in East Caret Bay. These homes are going to be built on land that sells for 250,000 so cost to build a home will be in the millions. It is certainly a great area to be in. So far none of the lots are sold because the real estate market is somewhat down. But they will be a very good investment in a few years.

Caret Bay is home to many locals. Homes range from 200,000 to the multi millions. Most homes offer water front views and have been owned by the same families for many years. You will find the locals to be very friendly, courteous and helpful.

Wouldn’t it be great if tourists could see all of what St Thomas has to offer, including Caret Bay? You can rent some beautiful Caret Bay Villas on the North West section of the island. They include 14 luxury villa rentals and are waterfront property. There are 14 villa units varying in size. Some of the units are two bedrooms while others are four bedrooms. They all offer waterfront views and are very private.

What is great about the area of Caret Bay is the privacy and seclusion you get on the very busy Virgin Island. This is tough to come by on St Thomas as it is a very busy island. The population of the island is 50,000 but at any given day there could be two to seven cruise ships in. This increases the population of the island by up to one hundred percent. Most tourists do not even know that Caret Bay exists. Some of the local taxi cab drivers take many of the cruise ship tourists by cab up to the North side of the island because of its beauty. This is really nice because some people will get to see the beautiful side of Caret Bay.

Some other interesting things to do in Caret Bay are surfing. The waves come in from the north and can be quite large. Many locals will rush to the beaches when a North swell comes in. It is great fun just to watch them all riding in the waves. Some of them are really nice and will give you lessons while other surfers do not want you stealing their waves.

St Thomas is a small island of about forty two square miles. The roads are windy and very hilly. Driving to Caret Bay from the airport could take you minutes just to go a few miles. This is because the roads do not …

Budget Ideas for Staging Your Home to Sell

In today's over-saturated housing market, it is increasingly difficult to sell a home – which is why real estate agents talk about 'staging' the home to sell. The goal of staging is to beef up the appearance of the home to highlight its best features while minimizing any negative aspects of the home – and to create a feel that potential buyers can relate to. You want them to see themselves living in the home. The trouble with staging is that it can eat into your wallet. This article focuses on ways that you can improve the appearance of your home without spending a lot.

Start Outside
Your mother probably already told you that first impressions are the most important, and boy was she right! The first thing that potential buyers will see when looking at your home is the exterior, so you want to create curve appealing with an inviting lawn and other small details. These low cost improvements can help you put your best foot forward when appealing to potential home buyers:

  • Mow your lawn, preferably with a diagonal slant that makes it look more manicured.
  • Take advantage of the power of yellow to sell your house by planning yellow flowers along the walkway or in planters by the front entrance.
  • Wash all exterior windows and sills.
  • Paint your front door an eye-popping color, like red.
  • Rent a power spray and spray the entire house to rid it of cobwebs and dirt and to give it a freshly painted look without the paint.
  • Place a new welcome mat on the front steps of the home.
  • Buy a new mailbox and invest in good lettering for the side.
  • Buy a plaque that bears your house number and display it near the front door.
  • Make sure that all of your outside lighting fixtures are working and in good condition; Also make sure that there is adequate lighting for the outside should someone view it in the evening after work.

Rid Your Home of Clutter and Excess Furniture

Does your home contain too much furniture? Too much furniture can make any room look smaller, and you just want the opposite effect when trying to sell your home. Two to three pieces of furniture is all that you need in any room when you are showing a house; Anything above that should be placed in a storage unit.

Clutter can be a real distraction when selling your home and it also sends a message to the potential buyer that you really could care less about your home – making them wonder if you have taken care of it over the years. Clean out your closets, pack up your books, rearrange your kitchen cabinets; In essence, remove all non-essentials and place them in storage or if you do not need them, donate them to charity. Remove all personal items like photographs and replace with general artwork; You want the potential buyer to envision themselves in the home, not to wonder about the people …

Top Ten Things You Need to Know When Buying a Coin Laundry

So you think the coin laundry business is for you? Easy money you collect once a week? Place runs itself? Consider these factors when looking at the coin laundry business

1. Change Machines

Good coin laundries run on change machines. If a customer cannot get change, they are going somewhere else. How many change machines does the store have? A Standard change brand change machine can hold about $3000. You can easily check the specifications on their website. On change machine means the owner is running a tight ship. Two change machines means the place is hopping. No change machine means people either have to ask the grumpy guy behind the counter or the place is not really a laundromat.

2. Store Sign

Look at the store sign. Does it light up? Is half of it missing? Does it clearly tell people what that it’s a coin laundry or does it just say “Bob’s”? The store sign will tell you everything you need to know about how well the store has been run. A great store has a great sign.

3. Top Load Machines

With today’s utility costs, it is very difficult to make money with Top load machines. If the store you are looking at has them and the place is busy, this is the kind of store you DO want to buy cheap and replace the top load machines with 3x – 5x front loads. You will have to invest in new machines but you will increase you prices and profits. If the store has top load machines and is empty, drive around to see what competitor just popped up that has all new front loaders. Stay away from this store

4. Brand of Equipment

The Maytag man you see falling asleep in the commercials on TV should go visit some Maytag equipped coin laundries. While Maytag is a good household name, they don’t make all there own commercial laundry equipment and quality has suffered. The top brad in the industry is Wascomat. Who is Wascomat? Ever heard of Electrolux? An all Wascomat store is a very good sign. Go look at a Wascomat beside any other brand and chances are, you will want to use the Wascomat. Try it!

5. Utility Bills

There is a commonly understood method that your utility bills are 14% of your sales. Be careful with this as old equipment will be more like 20% of your sales. I don’t recommend looking at utility bills unless you are calculating consumption. This means that you are making a calculation based on the total amount of water being used divided per laundry load divided by the vend price to try to get approximate wash revenue. If you can do this calculation, this is good.

6. Conversion

There may be a big difference in how you would run a store versus how the store is being run by the current owner. Are you friendly and ongoing? Do you care about your customers? Will you fix the …

No Credit Check Apartments in Birmingham Alabama

First and foremost, know what you are getting into when you look for apartments for rent in Birmingham Alabama that do not require credit checks. You may have a valid reason for having bad credit, say, you’ve been through some rough times and are starting anew with a great new job in Birmingham. In any case, it will be naïve to think that landlords and apartment companies will take your word for it. They promised no credit checks to lure you in (yes, it’s an entire new niche market that is growing in this economy), but they will want to know that you aren’t just another habitual deadbeat who will eventually try to worm him/herself away from paying rent. There are many, many bad tenants making the rounds, and you will want to prove that although you don’t have a stellar credit rating, you will be a good, paying tenant. Another thing to consider is that if you do get a no credit check apartment, your neighbors may not be as upstanding as you.

Bring documents and be up front right at the start. Some apartments charge an application fee, so it might be good to talk to the management about your chances before paying up. Some of the smaller apartments will consider your case if you are nice to them and have complete documents like a bank statement, certificate of employment, or the like to prove you have income and can pay rent. Larger corporate run apartments are more regimented and have an established set of criteria, so the person you are pleading your case with might not have the power to approve you anyway. Another thing is to be prepared to pay cash upfront equal to a few months rent.

When you are ready, check out these Birmingham apartments that don’t require a credit check: Highland View Apartments on Aspen Drive, Highland Bluff Apartments on Robert Jemison Drive, Intown Suites (a sort of long-lease hotel which charges weekly)with branches in Huffman Road, Oxmoor Road, and Southpark Drive.

Visit apartments in Birmingham AL for more credit free apartments…