Monday, December 11, 2006


Most people, other than surgical specialists, would have a hard time performing a liver transplant. Most of us, with the exception of trained & experienced CPA's, would be at a loss in auditing the accounting books of a major business. Very few brave souls, save the elite of all basketball players, could keep pace with NBA players for an entire season. Relatively speaking, just a very tiny percent of the population could actually perform any of these tasks. Only those with some natural attributes, training, determination, and perserverance make it to the big stage of surgery, financial analysis of mega-companies, and even the National Basketball Association.

It is true that a considerable percentage of the population could attempt one or more of the skillful activities mentioned, but that is not the topic on which I want to write. Believe it or not, I am trying to make a point about the unknown value of a Realtor when you buy a house, condo, commercial property, or whatever. I think you will be glad you read this blog post.

Most Realtors fit in the following category: can't do the transplant thing, can't do the high stakes accounting deal, and the NBA is out of the question. However, those are not the talents that can benefit you in a real estate transaction. I know that I can reveal some added value that a Realtor brings to a real estate transaction WITHOUT giving old information a retread and selling it as a new tire (in the past a common practice of tire repair shops was putting a new tread on a used tire and sending the customer on her way. Hence the expression "re-tread"). If you keep reading the same old thing in Realtor articles on the net and in magazines, you might suspect that Realtors are stale, non-innovative, resting on their laurels, or something even worse: they take the public for granted. OF COURSE, THIS IS NOT THE CASE. Most are very knowledgeable about what they do and are willing to go the extra mile, if that's what it takes.

I want to list a few of the ways a Realtor can add value and, in turn, give you a tangible benefit, namely: savings in time (your time) and hopefully a savings in real dollars. Here we go. . .

1. Realtors add the crucial element of effective third party assistance. When brother and sister are fighting it takes a third party, in the form of a parent, to assess the situation and settle the differences. When a customer and the cashier are at odds about the expiration date of the 45 cent coupon, a store manager can save the day as a third party participant seeking one of those win-wins. With skillful care applied to a real estate sale, most impasses are negotiated to everyone's relative satisfaction with the help of a qualified third party, a Realtor.

2. Realtors add value by imparting wisdom with regard to inspections. Many home buyers experience the euphoria of getting a contract then are soon after deflated when the talk of inspections arises. Would you rather try to navigate through these waters with only your limited experience and your brother-in-law's advice or partner with a seasoned professional who is pulling for you to make it to closing but only if you understand and are comfortable with issues on the house's structure, systems, and the lot on which it is located. No good Realtor wants to proceed to closing unless you are well informed about the house that you are buying. Many times you discover that the house is imperfect, but not defective, and the Realtor can help you sort through those issues. The help offered by your Realtor at this point in the transaction is invaluable.

3. Value is greatly increased when you get more out of the transaction by expending less energy & time. Consider what your time is worth. Figure it some time. You may be worth more than you think! A Realtor knows the whole buying process from beginning to end and is aware of where you can save the most time. If representing a homebuyer, the Realtor can do a pile of the footwork for you (laws about Realtors responsibilities vary from state to state ) and add hours to your week. Just think, what if I approached you today and informed you that I would provide for you 20 hrs. of free time over the next 8 weeks. I could do some of the chores that you think only you can do and run some errands that you would normally handle. This is what a Realtor can do for most buyers. While pride prevents some from asking for help, you would be better served by letting a pro do what he or she does best and save you some valuable time. The Realtor can research data about school district boundaries, history of property appreciation in the area, zoning changes, the pricing history of a particular home, and many other time saving facts that literally give hours & hours back to you. Your Realtor can also save you time by offering lists of service providers who sell homeowner's insurance, paint, repair plumbing, have climate controlled storage units, re-pave driveways, and I could go on and on. The point is: the time invested in compiling lists of reputable vendors has already taken place so you don't have to spend hours trying to find individuals and companies to help you with your new home.

I will stop here for purposes of this blog post. Hopefully, you can see tangible benefits available to you when you employ the services of a Realtor for a real estate transaction, especially when buying a home. Will the Realtor get paid, and paid well for his or her efforts? Absolutely. Is it worth it? Absolutely.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Setting Ground Rules for Hiring Sub-Contractors, Part 2

Since my last blog post, I've given a lot of thought to the hiring a sub-contractor. I know, I I said in the first post on this subject...I've opened the can of worms. :)

Click here to see Part 2 Video Podcast!

I've thought about all of the ground rules that it takes in just getting started with hiring a sub-contractor to assist you in some of the maintenance of your rental properties. And I have found that things are much easier for my company if you have all of your forms in place. First you want to start with a "General Information" Form. Get a form filled out by the sub-contractor that has them fill out their name, address, phone number and tax ID or social security number. At the end of the year, you will have to file a 1099 IRS tax form which will require a tax ID or social security number of the sub-contractor. It's good to know what this 1099 IRS form is and be prepared for it by getting the information before you write the first paycheck to the sub so that you're not trying to track down the information at the end of the year. In addition to getting the "General Info" form, you'll also want to get a copy of their drivers license, verifying that they are who they say they are. You'll also want to give the sub-contractor an "Expectations" form that they can sign off on. Our "expectations" form is a bullet pointed list of what we expect from them and what they can expect from us. I happy to give you a copy of the forms I use, just shoot me an e-mail requesting the forms and I'll get them right to you.

To avoid opening the can of worms (problems) with a sub-contractor, start by getting organized and having all of your paper work in place and setting the ground rules up front.

TO DO Checklist to Complete
Before You Write the Sub-Contractors First Paycheck:


aGet a "General Information" Form filled out by the sub-contractor.

aGet a copy of the sub-contractor's drivers license.

aHave sub-contractor sign off on an "Expectations" form

aGet references from sub-contractor and check references before they begin work.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Opening the "Hiring-A-Sub-Contractor" Can of Worms

The best way to prevent yourself from getting taken by a sub-contractor is to plan ahead and get it all in writing ahead of time. I'm not talking about just getting the bid of what the sub is going to charge you, but the date that they will complete the project by, and also get all of their personal info so that you can reach them. You'll also need that information to file your taxes at the end of the year...but let's stick to one can of worms at a time! :)

See the video podcast here!

We had a bad sub-contractor experience this last weekend. We had a Tenant scheduled to move in to one of our properties on December 1st and a couple days prior to her moving in, we realized that the carpet in the property needed to be changed. So we hired a sub-contractor to do the job. And yeah, it's embarassing to admit...but we got took. He didn't finish the job, and we had to put the very unhappy Tenant (who came from out of state with a big truck and lots of family to help unload it in their new home) in a hotel room on the weekend due to our sub-contractor not completing the job as he had verbally promised us. If we had it in writing, we could always have that documentation if the situation ever got real sticky. Oh well, I guess it is a lesson learned at this point.

Although our situation wasn't the worst we've heard of or seen, it was still frustrating. You can't always tell when a sub-contractor is lying to you, but you can take precaution against it. We called a local flooring company and as we had expected, all of their carpet installers were booked. However, they were nice enough to give us a site of where we can find sub-contractor flooring installers. That was most helpful. We suggest doing a little research of your own...such as directly asking a sub-contractor for some references or checking your area Better Business Bureau, it can possibly save you a a hassle in the long run.

Over the next few video podcasts, we are going to go further in depth about hiring and dealing with sub-contractors. Please check back with us or feel free to e-mail us your questions.

Until next time...