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Real Estate: Buying, Renting & Selling : Ten Mistakes Home Buyers Make When Buying A Home


A few mistakes home buyers make when buying a home include not hiring a real estate agent, getting emotionally attached to properties and not looking at enough properties to get an idea for the mar…

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Real Estate: Buying, Renting & Selling : Ten Mistakes Home Buyers Make When Buying A Home


A few mistakes home buyers make when buying a home include not hiring a real estate agent, getting emotionally attached to properties and not looking at enough properties to get an idea for the mar…

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Real Estate: Buying, Renting & Selling : Ten Mistakes Home Buyers Make When Buying A Home


A few mistakes home buyers make when buying a home include not hiring a real estate agent, getting emotionally attached to properties and not looking at enough properties to get an idea for the mar…

, , , , , , , , ,

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Real Estate: Buying, Renting & Selling : Ten Mistakes Home Buyers Make When Buying A Home


A few mistakes home buyers make when buying a home include not hiring a real estate agent, getting emotionally attached to properties and not looking at enough properties to get an idea for the mar…

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Use a Buyer’s Agent When Purchasing Real Estate in Mexico

So, you’ve reached a point in your life where you think that you’ve learned a little about business, finance, contract negotiating, real estate, etc. and have at least a layman’s knowledge of law pertaining to each. Being that savvy, you might also be aware of the incredible retirement locations and values south of the border; furthermore, you might even be considering Mexico as your retirement destination. If so, you might as well forget everything you’ve learned and leave your law degree at home!

Mexico, as beautiful as it is, has a somewhat different way of doing business and a completely different set of laws. Additionally, all legal transactions, including real estate transactions, are done in Spanish. Therefore, for those of you that may be considering locations in Mexico as possible retirement destinations, the following information should give you some insight as to how the Mexican real estate industry works, list some of the possible pitfalls, and most importantly, give you the guidance required to assure a pleasant and safe experience.

In 1984, we made our first real estate purchase in Puerto Vallarta; a condominium in Mismaloya, about seven miles south of town. Our second purchase, two years later, was the adjacent condo. A year later, we removed the wall between the two condos and remodeled them into one very spacious three bedroom condo. For thirteen years, while still working in Houston, we thoroughly enjoyed visiting Vallarta two or three times a year.

At some time after the purchases of the two condos, we noticed that our original escrituras (legal property documentation similar to a title or deed that is held in a fidecomiso or bank trust) showed the property values to be about one third of what we actually paid for them. When we inquired about the discrepancy, we were told that the lower values were used in order to reduce our annual property taxes.

It wasn’t until many years later, when we decided to sell the condo, that we learned that capital gains taxes were due on the huge difference between the selling price and the documented purchase price. Ouch, we owed substantial taxes on a paper gain, when in fact; there was very little real gain! We then learned that the condo developer entered the extremely low sales prices on all the escrituras in the condo complex in order to evade paying substantial capital gains taxes. As we later learned, the developer could have entered the selling price, the appraised value, his cost of construction, or just about anything imaginable into the escritura, and we, being the naïve Americans that we were, were at his mercy!

Upon the sale of the condo, we bought a beautiful new mountainside villa with a panoramic view of Banderas Bay, El Centro, and the Sierra Madres. We saw the new villa advertised in one of the local magazines and asked our realtor friend to show us the property. He showed us what seemed to be every property in town, before reluctantly taking us to see the villa in the magazine. Some time after buying the villa, we learned that our realtor friend received only 10% of the commission on the sale because that was all the listing agent was willing to pay. The listing agent ran the ad in the magazine and didn’t feel that an agent representing a buyer was necessary in order to sell this beautiful new villa. Therefore, our agent spent a couple days showing us nothing but properties listed by his agency before caving in to our demands and taking us to the villa of our dreams; one that we have thoroughly enjoyed for more than a decade.

These experiences revealed the tip of the real estate iceberg and after living here for ten years, we’ve finally been able to expose the entire iceberg and share some of the details below.

To begin with, there are no licensed real estate brokers or agents in Mexico! In fact, there is no mandatory licensing for real estate agents in all of Mexico because the Federal legislation process has yet to accomplish it and therefore such legislation remains in limbo. In Puerto Vallarta, where there are in excess of 80 real estate agencies, there are probably more than 500 real estate agents with minimal qualifications. With the booming real estate market and economy that exists today, it’s quite obvious why we have such a diverse group of agents and brokers in Vallarta.

In order to have some degree of continuity from agent to agent, a voluntary association for real estate personnel exists in various areas of Mexico. The Asociacion Mexicana de Profesionales Inmobiliarios A.C., known as AMPI, is quite active in Vallarta with the membership of approximately 50 of the 80 real estate agencies in Vallarta. Although membership in AMPI is not compulsory and has no bearing on the capabilities of the agents representing the buyers or sellers, it is considered to be the standard bearer for listing agents in the area.

A second real estate association, mainly consisting of Mexican agencies based in the Vallarta area, is Asociacion de Profesionales Inmobiliarios de Vallarta A.C., known as APIVAC.

These associations schedule periodic conferences, conduct educational programs, and hold various meetings where they attempt to keep their members and the public current on activities in the area as well as changes in the Mexican law as it pertains to real estate. They have codes of ethics and they do attempt to establish uniform sets of operating policies and procedures, some of which are in writing, others understood but not documented. They bring real estate personnel together where their members voluntarily agree to abide by their organizations´ statutes and codes of ethics while attempting to operate with some degree of continuity and professionalism. For sure, these associations are better than nothing but still not to be confused with associations such as the National Association of Realtors or NAR in the US. Dual agency disclosure, designated agency, full disclosure, confidentiality, imputed knowledge and notice, implied knowledge, fiduciary duty, loyalty, and vicarious liability are foreign concepts to the majority of real estate agents in Mexico. Consequently, misleading or inaccurate statements often made by many of the agents can put both the buyer and seller in intolerable predicaments in Mexico.

Although AMPI and NAR do have a working relationship, one example of the differences between AMPI and NAR is that NAR provides its member agencies with standard statewide listing forms, pre-qualification forms, escrow account and earnest money forms, standard purchase agreement forms, letters of intent, etc. In Vallarta, there are no such forms provided by AMPI or APIVAC. Each real estate agency has its own listing form or uses a form provided by an outside privately owned publisher, which clearly depicts the listing agent as receiving 100% of the commission upon sale of the property. Also, NAR has written and enforceable guidelines regarding the handling of commissions and the sharing of commissions between the selling and buying agents. Although there are guidelines in Mexico for real estate commissions, they are still flexible, and to some degree negotiable with the seller. The listing agent can then negotiate commission sharing with the buyer’s agent.

All other forms vary from agent to agent and are not necessarily written in the best interest of the buyer. Also, most forms and contracts for North Americans are in English; however the Spanish version is the only document that has any legal standing in Mexico. Therefore, regardless of what you read in English, a Spanish speaking attorney should always represent you along with your agent.

Another major difference between the Mexican based associations and NAR has to do with the Multiple Listing Service or MLS. In the States, the MLS is controlled and monitored by NAR and is available to all NAR agents. In certain Mexican cities, including Vallarta, there is an MLS; however it is not controlled by AMPI or APIVAC. Instead, it is privately owned and operated by a local publisher and is available for property searching to the public at no charge. AMPI members are able to list their properties on the Vallarta MLS, with the general public as well as the other AMPI and APIVAC members having access to the listings.

Once you understand the inner workings of the real estate industry in PV, you need to learn a little about Mexican real estate law. It can be quite complex regarding trusts, escrows, mortgages, treatment of taxes, etc. and is often open to interpretation by a state appointed attorney, known as a notario. A small percentage of the realtors in Vallarta have a fair understanding of Mexican law as it pertains to real estate transactions; however the vast majority of them are sorely lacking in this field. Even with little or no knowledge of the law, they will be anxious to advise you, right or wrong; therefore, the best law to follow is caveat emptor, or buyer beware!

Because of the many pitfalls that a buyer can encounter while purchasing real estate in PV, we learned over twenty years ago that it is wise to interview realtors with scrutiny, keeping in mind that most all will be promoting their own listings first and meeting your needs second. It’s just human nature and with virtually no control in Mexico, it’s pretty much assured. Also, because almost 100% of them have listing agreements with the sellers, they are legally bound to act in the best interest of the sellers, and not necessarily in the buyer’s best interest. Because the buyer usually has no contractual agreement with the realtor, he will in all probability get the “short end of the stick” in this conflict of interest.

Of all places, in Mexico you should select an agent that is 100% dedicated to helping you find the property that meets your needs and satisfies your requirements; preferably, a contractual agreement with an agent with no listings, no axe to grind, no ulterior motive, and is exclusively representing buyers and their best interests.

A true buyer´s agent in PV should have no property listings, should have complete access to the Vallarta MLS, should know the areas and growth trends in and around Vallarta, should be able to professionally negotiate on the buyer’s behalf, should have a decent understanding of Mexican real estate law, should have a working relationship with the local notarios, real estate attorneys, escrow and title agents, mortgage bankers, insurance agents, inspectors, appraisers, and lastly, your representative must have a thorough working knowledge of the local real estate industry and understand the idiosyncrasies associated with it.

Buying your dream home or condo in Vallarta should be one of your best experiences, however without due diligence, it can be a nightmare. Obtaining an exclusive buyer´s agent with 100% dedication to you is a prerequisite for assuring a pleasant beginning of your retirement in Paradise.

Jim Scherrer has owned property in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico for 24 years and resided there for the past ten years. The mission of his series of 32 articles pertaining to retirement in Puerto Vallarta is to reveal the recent changes that have occurred in Vallarta while dispelling the misconceptions about living conditions in Mexico. For the full series of articles regarding travel to and retirement in Vallarta as well as pertinent Puerto Vallarta links, please visit us at Puerto Vallarta Real Estate Buyers‘ Agents and click on ARTICLES.

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When is the Right Time to Hire a Real Estate Coach?

When should you hire a real estate coach? If you’re committed to investing in real estate, there are a lot of reasons to hire a coach. The main reason is to produce better results in your real estate business and make more money than you currently are. You may feel that you should be operating your business entirely by yourself. After all, real estate naturally attracts the sort of people who like to work independently, and succeed based on their own mettle. Pride is fine, but you’re in this to make money, aren’t you? Wouldn’t it make sense to set your pride aside and do whatever makes sense for your career?

No doubt, you are enthusiastic about real estate investing. If you’re just starting out, though, you’ll no doubt admit you’ve got a lot to learn. Wouldn’t it make sense to find a mentor who knows the ropes, and can help you achieve greater success than you would on your own? If you’ve worked in the corporate world, you know how effective a good mentor can be in furthering your knowledge and improving your skill set. Coaching is different from teaching per se in that it is more focused on setting and pursuing goals. It’s not that different from sports coaching, except that it is focused on real estate investment. Even if you are goal-oriented already, a real estate coach can help you set better, more realistic, more achievable goals without sacrificing ambition.

Even if you are already successful at buying and selling real estate, you might benefit from the services of a real estate coach. A real estate coach can focus your business and your goals, and give you an informed second opinion on your real estate practice. In fact, coaching is a better option for experienced real estate professional than for absolute beginners. Once you know the basics, you can hire a real estate coach to help you close the gap between where you are now and where you really want to be.

You are probably, at this point, wondering how real estate coaching proceeds. Real estate coaching usually moves forward through a series of structured conversations revolving around your approach to your real estate investment business. These conversations are designed to help you set and pursue clearer, more achievable goals, think more clearly about your business, and gain better perspective. Real estate coaching is designed to provide the tools to enhance the process of building a successful business, and helps you approach becoming more accountable to yourself for achieving your goals.

Real estate coaching is often done by telephone. It doesn’t have to be; it can be done in person as well. A good real estate coach will tailor his or her approach to your needs. Before you hire a real estate coach, make they are able to adapt to your unique needs and your approach to the working relationship. If you choose the right real estate coach, you can expect them to give you objective feedback on your business and your approach to real estate investing, thus putting you in a better position to attain your real estate investment goals.

Peter Vekselman has been successfully investing in real estate since 1996. He has completed over 1000 real estate deals, owned a construction company, been a private lender, and owned a property management company. Peter currently works with clients all over the US www.CoachingByPeter.com .

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IRA Real Estate Investing When the Going Gets Tough

IRA real estate investments are booming in 2008 for soon to be retirees who are worried about their future retirement plans. With the economy looking wobbly, the stock market plunging and the big investment banks going under, with us bailing them out, some traditional forms of retirement investing are starting to look a little sick.

For these reasons IRA real estate investments are increasing. Increasing? Surely not. Along with an economic meltdown, a stock market collapse and all sorts of economic turmoil, isn’t the real estate market headed for oblivion as well? Who in their right mind would consider investing their IRA in real estate?

Surely in 2008 real estate is a one way trip to the poorhouse.

No, not quite. Have you ever heard the expression that there is opportunity in adversity? There is plenty of opportunity in real estate right now, if you know where.

But lets look at IRA real estate investing first. How can you invest your IRA in real estate? Is it allowed? Is it legal?

Traditionally the majority of the population invest their IRAs in investments that are promoted to them by their custodian. In fact some custodians limit allowable investments to their own. So, it’s estimated, over 90%, in fact around 96% of IRA funds are invested this way. Mutual funds, CDs and stocks, and so on.

No problem if the markets are pushing ever skyward, but quite a problem right now.

But what about IRA real estate investments? Yes it’s entirely allowed to invest your IRA in real estate through a self directed IRA. Although this is not widely recognised, IRA real estate investing is one of the best forms of wealth accumulation for retirement. Real estate is a traditional long term wealth accumulation model, and as such is in fact ideal for IRA investing.

If you’re not certain about the details of how to set yourself up for IRA real estate investing consult your CPA, that’s outside the scope of this article. However take my word for it, it’s quite legal, and many canny IRA investors are doing it right now, and have been for a long time. You may need to execute an IRA rollover into a self directed IRA, but the trouble is worth it.

And there’s powerful reasons to consider investing your IRA in real estate. Did you know, for example, that it’s estimated that 85% of all wealth in the US was created through real estate?

And that through your IRA you can secure up to 70% bank non-recourse financing to invest your IRA retirement funds in income producing real estate?

Its food for thought isn’t it?

Now back to the real estate market. After all there’s no point in IRA real estate investing if the value of your real estate investment is going down is there?

Although we all hear that the real estate investment market is dreadful this isn’t the whole story. PARTS of the real estate market are dreadful, but not ALL of it. It’s perfectly possible to find excellent opportunities for investing in the lower priced end of the market. Simple comfortable homes for the working class who live in those faceless suburbs in cities right across America. There are some fantastic IRA real estate investments available in the right place RIGHT NOW.

But if you’re looking to get out there and find them yourself then you may be in for a shock. It’s not something that is realistic for the individual IRA real estate investor. You need professional help.

Buy in the wrong place and you’ll probably get burnt, big time.

But right now there are some excellent opportunities available for securing a great real estate investment, no cash down, at under market value, with tenants supplied, rental guarantees and even a guarantee that you will double your current investment return.

All through a major US public corporation with a reputation for solid real estate investment returns, for both IRA real estate investing and ordinary credit investing in real estate.

Yes you can secure your retirement future through a good IRA real estate investment, or more than one. However it’s the time to leave it to those who really know what they’re doing in hard times, and you can relax and leave the hard work to someone else.

But which corporation could possibly offer an opportunity like this?

Want to know more about profitable IRA Real Estate Investing? Visit Peter’s Website Win-Win Real Estate Investments and find out more about no money down real estate investing at http://win-winrealestateinvestments.com/

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The Benefits of a Good Faith Estimate and Pre-approval When Buying Real Estate

Most real estate purchases are bought with loans so getting a good faith estimate and pre-approval letter from your lender helps the process start off on the right foot. The good faith estimate, or GFE for short, is required by law to be provided by lenders when you are seeking a loan. It lists out the estimated closing costs, monthly payments, and interest rates for the loan program you are looking at getting. The pre-approval letter is provided by lenders once they have run your credit and get your income / debt information. By getting the GFE and pre-approval letter, you can be confident that the loan will get processed with no surprises. There are also additional benefits to getting pre-approval and GFE before you even begin the property search. For one, by discussing your debt to income ratio with your lender and obtaining the GFE, you can determine your maximum price. It helps to know the maximum sales price when shopping around so that you do not waste time and energy looking a over-priced properties, and also vice verse, you do not waste time and energy looking at under-priced properties. You can find an area in your price range that fits your needs and narrow down your search. You also will determine your monthly payments with the GFE. The monthly payments should include the property taxes, insurance, principle, and interest plus any private mortgage insurance (PMI). If the monthly payments are higher than you wanted, then you can adjust your sales price to be lower. Another reason to get your pre-approval and GFE before starting your home search is that you may find out some issues with your credit or financial situation that you could clean up before moving forward with a purchase. For example, the first time I bought a house, I found out that I had a $50 charge on my credit report from 3 years ago, which brought my credit score down. And with a lower credit score, I would have gotten a worse interest rate on the loan. I say ‘would have’ because I was able to pay off this collection and clear up the ding on my credit before going into the loan underwriting process. Finally, by getting a pre-approval letter, you have proof for a seller that a lender has confidence in being able to fund the purchase on your behalf. This helps with presenting offers and negotiating. Many sellers will not even accept an offer unless it is accompanied by a lender’s letter. Furthermore, if you do not have a letter, the seller may counter higher given that he feels he is taking on more risk that you may not be qualified for the loan amount. Also, if you happen to get into a multiple offer situation, your offer will be much stronger with a pre-approval letter.

Ki works in the Austin Texas Real Estate market. His website provides a free search of the Austin MLS along with a search for Downtown Austin Condos

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What Do They Look For When They Do A Criminal Background Check For Real Estate License And More?

OK I am 19 years old, want to get my real estate license. But I have a criminal adult misdemeanor charge. It is possession of cannibus. Should I think twice before doing real estate or will I be ok. Also, what is the average amount to take the real estate classes and get licensing?

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Is It Beneficial To Have A Real Estate Agent When Buying A Foreclosed Upon Home?

We are just beginning the home buying process. We have no home to sell (first time buyers) and were thinking of getting a real estate agent. However, I know we would have to sign one of those exclusivity contracts and, if we buy a foreclosed upon home, their comission would have to come from somewhere (us?).
If we are even considering buying a foreclosure, should we sign up with a real estate agent?

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