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Real Life Real Estate

Every once in a while, a good success story—or a negative turn of events—makes for inspiring literature and gives you ideas about what and what not to do with your property. You really shouldn’t invest unless you’re aware of what’s going on with other people because there may be mistakes you can learn from, techniques you can improve, and countless other strategies you can tailor to your future projects.

On Flipping Homes (click the FH Community tab and then Case Studies on the dropdown), there are several success stories and interviews you can read, listen to, and watch (the site hosts several videos) to motivate you towards success in investing, even if you’re not a fulltime investor. One story in particular featured a UPS driver who knew nothing of investing yet flipped two properties in only six months! Also, here you can look at pictures of renovations—before and after shots—that depict what exactly was changed about the property’s exterior.

This website, REI Club , may be lacking in photos and other media ploys, but it is rich in story content. Stories here range from finding foreclosures, securing a first wholesale deal, 1031 exchanges, and rental properties, all from people who live across the country.

Another person from 1000 Watt Blog relays her friends’ negative experiences with using an ARM to squeeze their way into the Bay Area. Now, after the housing boom has been on a sharp decline, they’re paying 50% more each month than they were the previous year. Another couple, she relates, regrets investing $80,000 into a HELOC (essentially an ARM but much riskier due to its exposure to interest rates) for kitchen remodeling.

If you seek a more interactive approach and want to network with people as they communicate their investing exploits, real estate forums such as Real Estate Forum are definitely the way to go. With more and more people turning to the Internet to quickly find solutions, forums offer investors a place to do just that (plus much more). One poster on this particular forum lamented over the fact that when she purchased a cabin, the seller neglected to acquire a permit for the septic system he installed. Now, she has to pay over $8,000 to get a new system installed and she’s not even allowed to occupy the cabin until she does so! (Moral of the story: Request all papers and permits from the seller.)

Other forums, such as Bigger Pockets , are also handy and are separated according to topic such as foreclosures, REOs, and mortgages. One person here had his property foreclosed on and repossessed by his lender and was wondering who was responsible for past property taxes. Responses were quick, informative, concise, and came from a variety of people, including experts in the field.

Another nifty way to learn what people are doing (and to gain insider information) is by visiting the blogs of real estate agents such as this one: Active Rain. In this specific entry the agent discusses seller mistakes that he has witnessed during his career, which include some rather unexpected things such as writing clauses in the closing terms that exclude certain features of the house from the purchase, such as a chandelier or drapery. Potential buyers who tour the house and expect the chandelier to be included are in for a disappointment!

In general, though, a good rule of thumb to consider is that when you see articles titled “Top Seller Mistakes” (or some other similar phrase such as the one found here: Bank Rate, chances are good that certain patterns of behavior are occurring regardless of how individualistic an investment opportunity may be.

If there’s a lesson to learn from the mistakes investors make, it’s that market conditions are not always the sole cause of problems—investors have a hand in it, too. Profit motives, for example, may have a lot to do with disasters, so it’s important to keep your aspirations in check when pumping your money into uncertainty. Learning from people who’ve been there, done that can save grief and turn profits. Why re-invest the wheel?

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