Everything is Negotiable – Get what you want

Going through my usual motions yesterday, I came across an excellent post on EventureBiz.com, “Negotiating: it never hurts to ask.” In this post Lindsey writes:

Every time a new contractor would come in to do something he would ask them to also do something else (without charging any extra). Since he was willing to do this we were able to get a lot of things done for nothing that would have added up to a lot of additional money out of our pockets.

What you need to keep in mind whether it be dealing with contractors, sales people or other entrepreneurs is that you need to know what you want before you talk to them. Have a game plan ready, know where you are going to start and what compromises you are willing to make.

For our investment property, we mapped out a timeline and budget. The problem was to fix up the house the way we wanted, we would have to spend well over our budget or do the work ourselves but sacrifice our timeline.

To solve this dilemma, John talked a little with each contractor that walked through our door and got to know a little about them.

For example, he discovered the mold removal contractor had a spray texture gun he used whenever he had to patch holes in walls he tore through to get to mold.

By asking this contractor to spray a few extra areas while he had the gun out we saved a couple hundred dollars.

Lindsey reiterates one of the pillars of success that I have been stressing for a long time now, ask and you shall receive. It is absolutely unbelievable how may things you can get cheaper or a better deal on, simply by asking. Continue reading

Blog Strategy – Michael Arrington does it again.

Michael Arrington of TechCrunch has some very interesting things to say in his post More Bloggers Raising Money. Here Come The Politics. And Here Comes My Rant.

“But apart from that first 2004 investment in Weblogs, Inc., there haven’t been any sales or liquidity events to suggest these investments will be a success. And back then blogging was a cake walk. Most bloggers linked to each other constantly in a state of brotherly or sisterly love. No one was making any money or getting much attention, so for the most part people got along (with notable exceptions like engadget/gizmodo, who play to win).Those salad days are long gone. Writers suddenly want to be paid market wages, far above the $5 per post that they received two years ago. No, we’re talking a big salary, with benefits, and stock options. There went half your margins at least.”

And writing good content is only half the battle. You have to figure out the complex, dynamic web of politics between bloggers and mainstream media before you post to know where to get support. And you’ll need support in the form of links from other prominent bloggers. An early push can take a post and make it a headline on TechMeme, which leads to page views and notice by sponsors. But since blogging is almost by definition a conversation between bloggers, fights tend to break out over emotional issues. Cliques develop. Can you count on them to support you down the road?”

I think this is a brilliant account of how competitive the savvy side of the blogosphere has become –> and even more-so what it is moving towards; a hierarchy of investment criteria and valuation

How will non-professional bloggers (those of us who do not do this for a living) stay afloat? Ingenuity?

Real Estate Investment for the Young Entrepreneur Part II

If you read the first part to this series, Creative Financing for Young Real Estate Investment, then you already know how to “get creative,” when it comes to making money appear out of thin air for Real Estate Overhead. In this post I want to talk about valuation, but not Real Estate Valuation – instead I’m going to go into how to evaluate your investment criteria.

I am going to focus strictly on residential real estate  for right now (properties with 4 or less units) since that’s what I assume most of you will be looking into. Before you can even think about prospecting for properties you need to prospect for a geography. The best way, traditionally, to do this is to check out market trends for certain cities. Forbes published a good article in September 2007 about The Best Rental markets in the U.S. The idea of investing in a far off city is not a good one, at least not initially… You need to be around to manage and micro-manage your tenant base, as well as the property(s) .

An ideal market is one where single family homes aren’t too expensive ($100k-$180k), assuming for that price you can pick up at least a mild three bedroom. Conversely, you need to make sure that the current area receiving rents supplement more than just the mortgage! I tend to Continue reading

Keep the Ideas Flowing – Carry a “Left-Wallet”

So what is a “Left Wallet?” No, it’s not an extra wallet for your left pocket – I don’t care what you’re making that’s absurd. A “Left Wallet” is just as, if not more, important than your regular wallet. A left wallet, if you haven’t guessed from the picture is a small notebook that stays in your opposing wallet pocket for immediate and constant access. You wouldn’t go anywhere without your wallet? So don’t go anywhere without this either. Continue reading

Start Random Conversations

This is a very simple concept: engage random conversations every chance you get. Do not be afraid of where, what, who or when. Even if you do not have anything entertaining to talk about, if you start a conversation – trust me something interesting will come up; most likely why you are starting a conversation. My only tip is to be controversial – or challenging, do not just start blathering about the weather.

This said, think a little before you start your next random convo. Do what you can to Sherlock some facts about the person Continue reading

Creative Financing for Young Real Estate Investment

I got my start in Real Estate while running a painting company…. I was 19 years old, fresh out of high school, and dying to make a buck or two. I took a job running my own franchise for an evil corporation preying on college students. I would mention them here but they do not deserve the free publicity. One good thing that came out of working for slime balls was learning how to spot them and how to deal with them, without having to be one yourself.

What does Real Estate have to do with Painting right?

Nothing. I was stressed running 4 paint crews and 18 employees and while I was seeing a tangible return, I decided then that blue-collar work was simply not for me. I started reading about housing, especially since I spent everyday walking in and around houses, up on top of them, and spraying the $#!t out of them with my pressure washer (which incidentally may have done some damage hear and there – no worries->it was too high up to see from the ground)

Learning Sales the “Old Fashioned” Way

I decided after over a year with the evil painting umbrella firm that I wanted look into making investments with steady measurable return. I took a job with Morgan Stanley, learned a bit about securities valuation and bidding on the spread, but mostly how to sell ketchup popsicles to Eskimos in white gloves who weren’t hungry. I took this knowledge, and the reference from Morgan Stanley – and went off to find greener pastures of interest. I ended up at a Commercial Real Estate development firm as an “apprentice.” This word I came to find out is synonymous with Gopher, yes gopher – as in “Nick, Go for this and Go for that.” All of the running around and b!tch work got a little annoying, so what did I do? I did something about it – I started a relationship with my immediate superior (who was also a younger guy, and happened to graduate from the same college I attended). I had him submerge me into financial analysis and modeling; you need to make yourself valuable to a company.

Once I had a concept of what I was doing; managing budgets, materials, capital reserve, and preparing for carry (vacancy) I Continue reading