Friday, January 23, 2009

Want to have a web based business?

I mentioned in an earlier post that I was looking into SiteBuildit as a potential source of income. Two years ago when I decided to invest in rental property I used a web business called InvesterPro to build a web site for me. It cost me nearly $600 for them to develop a site for me and about $50 per month to maintain it. During the two years that I had the site live I had very little traffic and only a few contacts. None resulted in a real estate transaction.

After purchasing SiteBuildit for $299 my eyes have been opened as to why the previous web site did not attract many visitors. The InvestorPro web site was just a cookie cutter site (every subscriber had the same site except for the name of their business. Search Engines like Google tend to ignore these type of sites.

The main concept behind SiteBuildit is what they call the C-T-P-M process. Intuitively this makes a lot of sense to me. The extensive instructions tell you how to find niche key words that can attract traffic without a lot of competition. Lots of advice on building content and monetizing your site. After working with the software for a couple of weeks I created a web site called (It's not completed yet but I'm starting to put into writing some of what I know.) I've been really impressed by how easy it is to build web pages. Once I have the time, I'll be able to improve the look and feel. Lots of information in the forums as well.

Overall - a very impressive service for building a web based business.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Rent to Own homes concept reduces pressure on rents

I read the other day that 50% of foreclosures are limited to 4 states - California, Florida, Nevada and Arizona. I have noticed any changes to the number of foreclosures in my area based on the foreclosure list subscription service I subscribe to. I expect that real estate prices in those 4 states were driven by speculators who bought properties before they were even built.

The Wall Street Journal carried a story today that the bursting of the real estate bubble has put downward pressure on rents. The Buffalo area is losing people and jobs and so I would expect that there would be some downward pressure to reduce rents here as well. So far, I continue to receive calls about when one of my properties may come available. This despite no advertising on my part. I would guess that this is due to the "rent to own" homes concept that I have been using. Not having to worry about whether I can find tenants is a great stress reliever for a landlord.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Increasing Income

My company has announced no raises for 2009 and no bonus. I have to make an extra alimony payment to my ex-wife out of a non-existent bonus and I usually use it to pay down on debts. Like many people I either need to increase my income or cut expenses. My expenses are pretty barebone right now, so there is little to cut

What do I do now? Invest in more real estate? Take a part time job? Find another source of income?

Is the real estate market at a bottom yet? Probably not in the hot markets of the past few years if you look at this graph. The market neither increased rapidly nor dropped in the Buffalo area (it's up 4% in the past 12 months). Underwriting for investment loans has become very strict the past year. If I could get a real estate loan, I would re-finance one of the properties I own that has a variable rate loan. I just cannot see any purchases of real estate at the moment. Besides, cash flow from my properties is revenue neutral and I wouldn't expect that a heavily financed purchase would produce a positive cash flow.

I mentioned here and here about my experiences with multi-level marketing through Amway/Quixtar (I read this weekend that they are now dropping the Quixtar brand and reverting to Amway). I don't really consider Amway an option due to the high people skill requirements for success.

I "tried" the Internet with this blog. But my 25 months of blogging has earned me a cumulative $2.46! Of course, I do not have a good sense of how to make money on the net. One of the aspects that I really grasped with Amway was the "franchise" concept (see point #2 here). Distributors like Dexter Yager had created an excellent "system" for success.

As I mentioned a couple of posts ago, I have been looking into SiteBuildIt. It seems to me that the creator of the site has done a pretty good job of building a good system that can be followed by most people. The system looks pretty comprehensive. If you are (like me) uncertain what type of Internet business to create, there is a Brainstorm section which provides lots of data. You can use the data to determine supply Vs demand for any particular keyword (i.e. business idea). His C-T-P-M model makes a lot of sense (and points out why this blog doesn't make much money!).

I am applying for a Census job and have thought about taking a second job. The problem with second jobs is that they have little flexibility. Since my boys have not been willing to get their driving licenses, I still need to do a lot of chauffeuring.I thought about becoming a Real Estate Agent and took an on-line CCI - but, as I suspected, the competencies needed are much like Amway and I scored in the lowest 20%.

So, over the next few weeks I will explore a web site in more detail and may pursue that for the time being.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

When is the best time to buy/ sell your house?

Here's an interesting plot I made from data of the Buffalo/Niagara regions median home prices over the past 5 years. Typically there is a 60 day lapse between an offer being accepted and when a home is closed here.

So, if you want to buy at the best price, the ideal time to make an offer is in December. On the other hand if want to sell at the highest price, you should probably put your house on the market by the end of March.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Ending 2008 Net Worth update

Well, I've updated my net worth on NetWorthIQ. Like many (or most) others, my net worth suffered a sharp drop in the forth quarter of this year and is at its lowest level since 2006. The big killer was the sharp drop in my 401k which is largely invested in equities. And, fortunately, unlike a lot of others in many real estate markets, my property values are not declining.

That being said, I don't plan on buying any properties this year. I'm hoping that one or more tenants will exercise their options and purchase the house that they are leasing, but I'm not holding on to much hope. My big concern is the one property that I have which is on a variable interest loan (currently at 10.1% interest). I tried to refinance it several times last year and expect that it will be just as difficult to obtain a new loan this year. I have no hope that the current occupant will buy it and am concerned that all this money that the Fed is pumping into the economy will cause massive inflation. If that happens any variable rate loans will jump since the Fed will have to rapidly raise interest rates.

I'm in the process of applying for some temporary work with the Census. Beyond that I've also been exploring SiteBuildIt and the possibility of an Internet business. But for what, I'm not sure.