Shocking Real Estate Murderer Still LOOSE

UPDATE: Police don’t believe Ashley Okland’s murder was a random act, and think she may have been killed by a fellow realtor. They’re now looking for a scruffy-looking man previously seen driving a Cadillac Escalade. See update after the jump…

Ashley Okland was out doing what realtors do Friday afternoon, showing townhomes to prospective buyers at the Stone Creek Villas in West Des Moines, Iowa. Just after 2 p.m., a woman who works in the development found her covered in blood in a model unit.

Ashley died at the hospital. She was shot once in the head and once in the chest.

So far, police have no suspects or motive in the slaying. They believe it was an isolated incident, but really have no way of knowing at this point. Just to be on the safe side, Iowa Reality, Ashley’s company, canceled all home showings for the following day.

The motive could have been robbery. Realtors like to put on the affectations of wealth, leading a moron to believe that they could be a good target for a takedown. In February, two men were arrested in Ottumwa, Iowa for robbing an agent in which they got away with cash and her cell phone.

But Ashley would seem an unlikely target for a beef. She was 27-years-old and served on the boards of civic social groups. Her family says she has no known enemies.

Ashley-Okland-younger.jpg
Police are looking for scruffy man previously seen with Ashley at the model home where she was killed

UPDATE: Police believe Ashley may have been killed by a fellow realtor.

They’re now looking for a man believed to be a fellow realtor who has been seen multiple times in February and March outside the townhomes where she was shot. The man is described as “scruffy-looking” and driving a black SUV along the lines of a Cadillac Escalade.
It also has tricked out wheels.

He was spotted talking to Ashley outside the model townhome in the months leading up to her slaying. On one occasion, he reportedly followed her when she left the area in her own car.

But detectives remain tight-lipped about the details of the case. They won’t say whether Ashley was robbed or assaulted prior to her murder.

 

REFERENCE truecrimereport.com

 


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Inspirational Quotes

Hello All!
Those of us that are in the small business arena know what persistence means on an entirely different level, but ALL of us have moments in our business and personal lives where driving through and continuing to push, continuing to have FAITH is so extremely important.  With that in mind I was thinking about the fun roller-coaster ride that we have had the last few years and how thankful I am for it, and how extremely thankful I am for where we are today.  I thought it might be fun to find some of the better known “persistence quotes” and share them with all who care to enjoy!  Being the dramatic, sappy, and sarcastic sense of humor son of a gun that I am I would also add to the list
“Think of all the times when you considered shooting or stabbing yourself in the face but DIDN’T…  Now think of all the great things that have happened since that moment that you would not have gotten to enjoy had you made the wrong decision.  Never give up, never stop, set a goal work towards whatever that goal is and surround yourself with the people that you care about and truly care about you to help you get there and YOU WILL”.  – Stephan Piscano

Quotes About Persistence

Quotes tagged as “persistence”
Maya Angelou

“Courage is the most important of all the virtues because without courage, you can’t practice any other virtue consistently.”
― Maya Angelou
Winston Churchill

“Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.”
― Winston Churchill
tags: failure, persistence, success
2077 likes
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Robert Frost

“The best way out is always through.”
― Robert Frost
tags: feelings, persistence, problems
1621 likes
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Tupac Shakur

“Did you hear about the rose that grew from a crack in the concrete? Proving nature’s laws wrong, it learned to walk without having feet. Funny, it seems to by keeping it’s dreams; it learned to breathe fresh air. Long live the rose that grew from concrete when no one else even cared.”
― Tupac Shakur, The Rose That Grew from Concrete
tags: beauty, concrete, dreams, hardship, persistence, roses
827 likes
like
Tom Hiddleston

“You never know what’s around the corner. It could be everything. Or it could be nothing. You keep putting one foot in front of the other, and then one day you look back and you’ve climbed a mountain.”
― Tom Hiddleston
tags: dreams, goals, life, mountain, path, perseverance, persistence, tom-hiddleston
534 likes
like
Thomas Edison

“The three great essentials to achieve anything worthwhile are, first, hard work; second, stick-to-itiveness; third, common sense.”
― Thomas Edison
tags: common-sense, enterprise, hard-work, inspirational, perseverance, persistence, success, thomas-edison
424 likes
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Calvin Coolidge

“Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan Press On! has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.”
― Calvin Coolidge
tags: persistence
408 likes
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Joyce Meyer

“One mistake does not have to rule a person’s entire life.”
― Joyce Meyer, Any Minute
tags: inspirational, mistakes, persistence
291 likes
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Winston Churchill

“If you have an important point to make, don’t try to be subtle or clever. Use a pile driver. Hit the point once. Then come back and hit it again. Then hit it a third time – a tremendous whack.”
― Winston Churchill
tags: persistence, public-speaking, speeches
258 likes
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Isaac Asimov

“You must keep sending work out; you must never let a manuscript do nothing but eat its head off in a drawer. You send that work out again and again, while you’re working on another one. If you have talent, you will receive some measure of success – but only if you persist.”
― Isaac Asimov
tags: persistence, writing
203 likes
like
Hal Borland

“Knowing trees, I understand the meaning of patience. Knowing grass, I can appreciate persistence.”
― Hal Borland
tags: patience, persistence
139 likes
like
James A. Michener

“Character consists of what you do on the third and fourth tries.”
― James A. Michener
tags: character, perseverance, persistence, tenacity
139 likes
like
Edgar Allan Poe

“If you run out of ideas follow the road; you’ll get there”
― Edgar Allan Poe
tags: misattributed, misattributed-to-poe, persistence
138 likes
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Richelle E. Goodrich

“Don’t ever give up.
Don’t ever give in.
Don’t ever stop trying.
Don’t ever sell out.
And if you find yourself succumbing to one of the above for a brief moment,
pick yourself up, brush yourself off, whisper a prayer, and start where you left off.
But never, ever, ever give up.”
― Richelle E. Goodrich, Eena, The Tempter’s Snare
tags: commitment, dedication, drive, eena, inspirational, perserverance, persistence, resolve, richelle, richelle-goodrich
136 likes
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Louis Sachar

“It is better to take many small steps in the right direction than to make a great leap forward only to stumble backward.”
― Louis Sachar
tags: incrementalism, persistence
125 likes
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John Wesley

“Unless God has raised you up for this very thing, you will be worn out by the opposition of men and devils. But if God be for you, who can be against you? Are all of them together stronger than God? O be not weary of well doing!”
― John Wesley
tags: good-works, inspiration, persistence
112 likes
like
Kobayashi Issa

“O snail
Climb Mount Fuji
But slowly, slowly!”
― Kobayashi Issa
tags: buddhism, haiku, persistence, struggle
99 likes
like
Peter F. Drucker

“Unless commitment is made, there are only promises and hopes; but no plans.”
― Peter F. Drucker
tags: commitment, persistence, planning, resolve
99 likes
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Criss Jami

“Persistence. Perfection. Patience. Power. Prioritize your passion. It keeps you sane.”
― Criss Jami
tags: ambition, business, commitment, determination, entrepreneur, faith, genius, hobbies, living, passion, patience, peace, perfection, perfectionist, perseverance, persistence, power, priorities, risk, sanity, strategy, strength, success
88 likes
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Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

“The only things you learn are the things you tame”
― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince
tags: determination, education, learning, persistence
85 likes
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Robert Fanney

“In my experience, nothing worthwhile has ever really been all that easy. But it certainly has been worthwhile regardless how difficult it seemed. ”
― Robert Fanney
tags: inspiration, persistence, work
80 likes
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Kevin Brockmeier

“…When you die, the energy that kept you alive filters into the people you loved. Did you know that? It’s like a fire you’ve tended all your life, and the sparks are all scattered into the wind…. That’s why we survive as long as we do, because the people who loved us keep us going.”
― Kevin Brockmeier, The View from the Seventh Layer
tags: death, energy, life, love, persistence, survival
77 likes
like
Octavia E. Butler

“First forget inspiration. Habit is more dependable. Habit will sustain you whether you’re inspired or not. Habit will help you finish and polish your stories. Inspiration won’t. Habit is persistence in practice.”
― Octavia E. Butler, Bloodchild and Other Stories
tags: creative-process, habit, inspiration, persistence, writing
75 likes
like
William S. Burroughs

“Whether you like it or not, you are committed to the human endeavor. I cannot ally myself with such a purely negative goal as avoidance of suffering. Suffering is a chance you take by the fact of being alive.”
― William S. Burroughs, Letters to Allen Ginsberg, 1953-1957
tags: life, persistence, suffering
65 likes
like
John Steinbeck

“When I face the desolate impossibility of writing five hundred pages, a sick sense of failure falls on me, and I know I can never do it. Then gradually, I write one page and then another. One day’s work is all I can permit myself to contemplate.”
― John Steinbeck, Travels with Charley: In Search of America
tags: creative-process, failure, motivational, persistence, writing
64 likes
like
Tobias Wolff

“We are made to persist.
that’s how we find out who we are.”
― Tobias Wolff
tags: persistence, trial
62 likes
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Rodolfo Costa

“Do not sit still; start moving now. In the beginning, you may not go in the direction you want, but as long as you are moving, you are creating alternatives and possibilities.”
― Rodolfo Costa, Advice My Parents Gave Me: and Other Lessons I Learned from My Mistakes
tags: action, encouragement, motivation, persistence, success
60 likes
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Beth Revis

“I wrote a book. It sucked. I wrote nine more books. They sucked, too. Meanwhile, I read every single thing I could find on publishing and writing, went to conferences, joined professional organizations, hooked up with fellow writers in critique groups, and didn’t give up. Then I wrote one more book.”
― Beth Revis
tags: books, debut-author, first-drafts, inspiration, persistence, publishing, writing
60 likes
like
Robin S. Sharma

“Change is hardest at the beginning, messiest in the middle and best at the end.”
― Robin S. Sharma, The Leader Who Had No Title: A Modern Fable on Real Success in Business and in Life
tags: change, perseverance, persistence
52 likes
like

Henry Ward Beecher

“The difference between perseverance and obstinacy is, that one often comes from a strong will, and the other from a strong won’t.”
― Henry Ward Beecher

Why bitcoin may turn out to be more than a fad and have a significant impact on real estate

The below article was an interview that was posted by Inman News (Reference)

 

Ray Sturm is the co-founder of RealtyShares, a company that allows accredited investors to crowdfund real estate transactions. The company is also one of the first in the real estate space to accept bitcoin as a currency for purchases.

Bitcoin is a virtual “cryptocurrency” that has its own valuation and exchanges. Tech pundits have debated the value of bitcoin, with some calling it a revolution in monetary exchange, while others have questioned its legitimacy and potential for widescale adoption.

 

Concept of bitcoin image via Shutterstock.
Concept of bitcoin image via Shutterstock.

At Real Estate Connect San Francisco, Sturm will talk about the rise of bitcoin, and its potential impact on real estate. With the recent resurgence of the currency, this is sure to be a discussion not to be missed.

Inman: What’s the most disruptive force changing the economy and consumer behavior and why?

Ray Sturm

RS: The emergence of a true sharing economy is in the midst of completely changing the way both businesses and consumers think about the world. From Uber X to Airbnb to crowdfunding platforms like RealtyShares, technology has reduced transaction costs to a degree that makes sharing (selling) assets and services easier than ever.

Inman: Every day there are more services described as “Uber for X.” Do you think this trend will continue? If so, what’s next? If no, why not?

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RS: It will absolutely continue, as incumbents in a number of fields are challenged by new entrants who expose subpar products in services. These traditional powers are going to face a choice in the old saying of, “If you don’t like change, you’re going to like irrelevance even less.” They’ll have to get better or eventually get out of the way.

I’m not sure the real estate world appreciates how much smarter and more knowledgeable the consumer has become as a result of all the new information out there today.”

Inman: What’s the one trend you’re keeping an eye on for 2015 and why?

RS: With so many great technologies coming to market that help change real estate, I’m keeping an eye on how many of these companies will start to be acquired vs. trying to build great companies on their own. Some fields are getting very competitive, which naturally leads to consolidation. Will one of the traditional names in real estate make a splash with a big acquisition that demonstrates a desire to be more forward-thinking? I’m curious to see it play out over the next year or so!

Inman: What is the one thing real estate needs to do to innovate on the consumer experience?

RS: While there has been a proliferation of great sites like Zillow and Trulia, I’m not sure the real estate world appreciates how much smarter and more knowledgeable the consumer has become as a result of all the new information out there today. Big data has brought transparency to many industries, and real estate is no exception. I constantly have customers who work in completely different fields now pulling their own comps and asking great questions about valuation, etc. The customer is getting smarter, and in order to continue to attract them as (paying) customers, we all need to get smarter and more knowledgeable, too. I think this is good for everyone.

Inman: What’s the most important takeaway of your talk at Real Estate Connect?

RS: While they may seem like fads at first, new technologies like bitcoin that didn’t at first apply to real estate have had and will continue to have a significant impact on the industry. I’ll tell you why.

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International real estate investors are seeking, and getting, mortgage loans

Overseas property finance is in increasing demand, particularly from Asian investors, says a leading provider.

Vault image via Shutterstock.
Vault image via Shutterstock.

Despite rising inquiries for foreign finance, some wealthy property investors, particularly from China and Russia, are able to pay in cash, says overseas property and finance specialist Simon Conn.

Conn tells OPP Connect, “We are very busy with people from Asia buying abroad. We are getting increasing inquiries from people in Singapore, Hong Kong and China. They are looking to buy not just in the U.K., but also in other parts of Europe.

“It is never a problem to get [financing], and there is a good supply of lenders for foreign buy-to-let and commercial sectors, which are most popular, and rates are competitive. In fact, for buy-to-let in countries like Spain and France there is no differential.

“The market is getting busy and there is a lot of money in those countries. In fact, a lot of Chinese and Russian clients have a lot of money and are buying in cash and so don’t need a mortgage. There is a lot of money for the ‘Golden Visas.’ ”

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Conn says he is developing high net worth products through Swiss and Luxembourg private banks for those typically seeking sums of over 1 million pounds.

But he cautions all investors to carry out proper due diligence and obtain professional advice when buying overseas property. “Things are getting busier this year, but I do worry when people start to rush into things. Anyone who is going to buy should always get independent legal advice and professional valuation.”

Singaporeans still hoping to snap up overseas properties, despite having their borrowing capacity curbed by the total debt servicing ratio (TDSR), are considering offshore loans to finance their purchases, foreign bankers confirm.

Some property agents say there have been more inquiries of late from clients for overseas loans, according to a report in the Business Times.

The TDSR caps an individual’s total monthly loan repayment at 60 percent of gross monthly income, taking into account property- and nonproperty-related loans, as well as onshore and offshore loans.

Linda Lee, executive director for deposits and secured lending at DBS Bank, says despite the introduction of the TDSR, applications for overseas property loans are still rising, and Cherrin Loo, head of international residential sales at Savills Singapore, says many property investors can afford to pay cash for projects costing under $1 million Singapore dollars (around $800,000 U.S. dollars).

Singapore banks provide property loans for purchases in popular locations including London, Malaysia, Australia, Tokyo, Thailand, China and New York.

Sales of overseas properties to Singaporeans grew 13 percent year over year in the first three months of the year, according to data from agent Colliers International.

Peter Allen, sales and marketing director at London-based luxury residential developer Londonewcastle, says as more global launches take place the demand for foreign financing is set to rise further.

Overseas mortgage specialist Conti says mortgage rates in France are at their lowest in decades.

Deals currently start at 2.1 percent for a variable mortgage over 10 years and 3.75 percent for a 25-year fixed-rate mortgage, and are available for mortgages of up to 80 percent loan-to-value. For buyers with deposits of at least 15 percent there are a range of deals available, which starts at just 3.05 percent.

Conti Director Clare Nessling says, “In the past, many British buyers of French property have financed their purchase by using the equity in their existing U.K. home, which has effectively enabled them to pay with cash. As the French mortgage market has become more developed, however, competition among French lenders for overseas business has moved apace. And a timely combination of excellent lending conditions means that there’s probably never been a better or more affordable time to borrow for your French property purchase.”

 

This article by OPP Connect editor Adrian Bishop was originally posted on OPP Connect.

Mortgage Rates Are Falling, So Where Are the Home Buyers?

Mortgage rates have fallen close to their lowest levels in nearly a year, but housing demand hasn’t budged much yet.

Freddie MacFMCC -1.34% reported Thursday that the average 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage rose to 4.14% this week, up from 4.12% last week but down from 4.4% just two months ago. This puts rates at roughly the same level seen in late October 2013 and again last June, when rates were zipping up as investors braced for an end to the Federal Reserve’s bond-buying programs.

But even with low rates, mortgage applications have been soft, according to a separate report from the Mortgage Bankers Association, a sign of still muted demand for home loans.

What’s going on?

First, a longer view helps. True, mortgage rates are low—as low as they’ve been in almost 12 months. But in the same way that shoppers may not be lured by “low prices” at a department store that is always advertising a sale, mortgage rates at 4.1% may not be seen as a steal by buyers who lived with rates that were even lower for all of 2012 and the first half of 2013—especially considering that prices have moved higher.

Put differently, which change is more dramatic—a decline in interest rates from 5% to 3.5% over the two years beginning in February 2011 or the decline from 4.5% in January to 4.1% in May?

Given the time it takes for home purchases to come together and the fact that the decision to purchase a home isn’t purely rate-driven—buyers also must weigh what’s for sale, their family and job situation, etc.—it could take a while to see what effect, if any, the recent drop in interest rates has had on demand.

So do rates really matter? At the margins, yes. They’re a key component of a borrower’s monthly payment. And often the first conversation between a real-estate agent and a potential buyer—”How much are you willing to spend?”—can be influenced quite a bit by mortgage rates, provided the buyer isn’t paying entirely in cash.

What does this payment picture look like right now? The monthly payment on the median-priced U.S. home fell from $673 in February 2011 to $552 in September 2012 as interest rates fell. Interest rates stayed low through May 2013, but the average payment rose to $586 as home prices ticked up. (These calculations assume a 20% down payment on the national median home value as calculated by Zillow).

After interest rates jumped last summer, that average payment bounced to $674 in September 2013. Rising prices and, especially, higher rates eroded the affordability gains of the previous 2½ years in a matter of months. Payments haven’t budged much since then. Modest declines in interest rates have offset modest gains in home prices.

Some look at this and say: wait a minute, a 4.5% mortgage is still an insanely good deal. Why would a rise in rates to levels that are still quite low hurt housing demand? One possible explanation: the overall level of rate matters over the long run, but the speed with which rates rose last year could have dented demand in the short run.

Several economists have argued recently that mortgage rates increases played an important role in last year’s sales slowdown. In part, that’s because activity received a larger boost when mortgage rates were falling from 2011 to 2013 than previously anticipated, wrote Goldman Sachs economists Sven Jari Stehn and David Mericle in a recent report.

The Goldman analysis suggests that the slide in mortgage rates between 2011 and 2013 increased residential investment—the primary measure of housing’s contribution to GDP—by 5 percentage points. “As this tailwind dissipates going forward, the trend in housing activity might be somewhat lower than previously assumed,” they write.

Last year’s mortgage rate increase accounts for nearly half of the difference in expected housing growth and the lower, actual growth, according to a separate analysis published last week by economists at the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.

This isn’t to say that the cold winter and the rate jump are the only reasons housing has slowed down. Low rates and prices may have spurred the release of pent-up demand throughout 2012, as home prices began to rise. This one-time benefit, together with aggressive home purchase by investors (also a temporary phenomenon), could have given false signals about the true health of the demand side of the market in 2012 and 2013.

Moreover, incomes have showed little growth, meaning that it will be harder for more buyers to buy homes if prices continue to rise absent some gains in wages or even bigger declines in financing costs. Sales are also being restrained by low levels of homes for sale, which is pushing prices higher. Some would-be buyers don’t have enough equity to sell their current home, while others have high levels of student debt.

 

reference wall street journal article

Buying Real Estate, or mutual fund For Your Childs Future?

Having myself a small child I was recently faced with this thought process myself.  Being that real estate investing is obviously my background and I have been fortunate enough to have a lot of success in this sector the choice should seem obvious?  I know with my strategies I have implemented time and time again that if I invest X amount I should generate X return.   I myself personally have completely removed my capital from the ups and downs of the stock market and focus solely on my long term and short term gains in the real estate sector. 

So why would it be any different for the future savings of my child?

In a perfect world of course it would be ideal to diversify and have several eggs in several baskets and for those capable of doing that then by all means do it because that gives the best of both worlds.  However if you are in a position where you have to make a choice for your childs college fund, or future savings of any kind this is something you might have also had to consider.

So what are the benefits of doing it the “Old Fashioned” way?

TAXES, TAXES and more TAXES!  – The government has set it up to give ridiculous tax benefits right now and later on to your child for setting up a 529 college savings plan.

The easiest and most common way to take advantage of this is by setting up the account through an entity such as Trowe Price, or many others.  I only say Trowe price because I ultimately did decide to throw a little money in this direction and they are who I ended up with.  The BIG downside for me is the lack of flexibility.  If you are the type that feels you can add a little value to the overall package yourself then this could be difficult to deal with the realization that your childs future savings are completely dependent upon the  fund management of people you have never met. This is possibly eliminated as a downside if you can structure it similar to a self-direct IRA which has become an exceptional and somewhat more common way to use your retirement account to invest in real estate.

Benefit #2: – Out of sight and out of mind! – For the same reasons I personally do NOT like the traditional model, it also can work very well for many people out there that don’t want to think about their savings everyday.  I say this with complete sincerity and it might sound a bit odd, but truly having your account on auto-pilot and not having to be involved can really be a nice way to have a forced savings account to some extent.  Many of us might have had that exceptional feeling where you even forget you have a small savings account only to find it after not checking for several months and realize there is more money there than you thought you had!  Somewhat like finding a hundred dollar bill under the sofa.

This automation and for diversification purposes (Not to mention the tax benefits are awesome) are why I ultimately decided to place at least a small portion of my childs long term savings in a 529 plan.  But now for the FUN part for me where I personally review why I think real estate should be much more strongly considered as a long term savings option for children:

MULTI-PURPOSE, FLEXIBILITY A BIG ROI AND THE SATISFACTION OF SOMETHING SENTIMENTAL WITH YOUR CHILD:

The dream scenario perhaps for every real estate investor considering this as an option for their child would be a 3 tiered approach.

  • Finding a property that would cash-flow
  • Finding a property that would appreciate
  • And even finding a property that is near the long term hopeful (School, or job) that your child could actually one day live in the home during his/her young adult years

Try finding a mutual fund that can earn you 27% cash on cash for 15 years and then you can sleep in it when youre done!

Real estate assets as this type of investment can actually be a part of a longer tiered approach.  A positive cash-flow property for example could automatically put the monthly rental proceeds in to a mutual fund or direct savings account.  These funds could be saved to buy other properties, pay down the mortgage, OR put in to one of those old school mutual funds I just noted here.  

 

 

The great thing about real estate as most of us know is once you get the returns in the form of NET rental proceeds, it is cold hard cash in your pocket!  It doesnt have any risk for going down later like a stock or fund does.  In addition to these monthly proceeds the property WILL appreciate over time.  Real estate purely based on inflation will ALWAYS appreciate over that strong length of time and likely at a MUCH higher rate than the stock market.  You might end up with extra taxes to pay with this strategy but the stronger ROI should hopefully make up for that.

Once more when you invest in the real estate market instead of a piece of paper you have a flexible multi-purpose asset that you can use and adjust the use of throughout your childs life.

I personally also really love the idea of teaching my son or daughter how to collect rent, how to manage the asset and that he or she knows it is theirs and when they work taking care of their property they are investing in their future.  The sentimental aspects for a sappy son of a gun like me are hard to match when comparing this real estate investment to the stock market.

So ultimately as discussed I personally did decide for me that a roughly 90/10 ratio of real estate to mutual funds was the right mixture.

Everyones targets and items might be different but I hope at least those who have not realized it was an option now see the benefit of this as a possible long term strategy and if anyone has any insight on getting me those same tax benefits while investing in real estate please email me as that would make me even happier than I already am about the long term targets!=)

Thanks as always for those of you that read our blogs here and if you are not already on our newsletter please join HERE and we always will try to add some value where we can to your real estate and investing strategies.

Stephan Piscano

CEO ListedBy.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Real Estate Investors From All Countries and regions Flock To This Location…

As one of the most moribund housing markets in Europe, Spain has become a magnet for global bargain hunters. Real estate prices are down as much as 50 percent from their peak during a housing bubble, and investors from Asia to the United States and Britain are flocking to Spain to try to catch the uptick.

British Airways flights to Madrid are packed with London-based real estate executives. The hedge fund Baupost is buying shopping centers, Goldman Sachs and Blackstone are buying apartments in Madrid, and Paulson & Company and George Soros’s fund are anchor investors in a publicly listed Spanish real estate investment vehicle. Kohlberg Kravis Roberts just bought a stake in a Spanish amusement park complex. Big-name private equity firms and banks are teaming up with and competing against one another on huge loan portfolios with names like Project Hercules and Project Octopus.

“It’s surreal,” said Dilip Khullar, a 25-year veteran of Spanish real estate investing and director of Cadena, an investment fund. “One day it’s the worst place in the world to buy real estate and the next, it’s the best.”

The end of Spain’s real estate boom left unfinished projects like chalets at Cala Romantica on the island of Majorca.Enrique Calvo/ReutersThe end of Spain’s real estate boom left unfinished projects like chalets at Cala Romantica on the island of Majorca.

Low interest rates, set by the European Central Bank to help buoy Germany’s market, helped to fuel Spain’s housing boom. Real estate developers teamed up with local savings banks to borrow and build over and over again. “We were a train going 200 kilometers an hour and it was hard to stop,” said Jaime Pascual-Sanchiz de la Serna, executive director at Aguirre Newman, a leading real estate consulting firm. Construction reached a staggering 12 percent of gross domestic product, more than double the proportion in Britain or France.

When the bubble burst in 2008, Spain became toxic. “Nobody wanted to invest a penny in real estate,” said Mr. Pascual-Sanchiz de la Serna. “Spain was overbuilt and it was going to take 10 years to work through.”

It hasn’t taken that long.

The real estate market started to revive in 2013. Government reforms, including a relaxation of labor laws and stricter rules for banks related to accounting for bad real estate, meant that banks could no longer ignore the assets on their balance sheets. Once the banks had to hold more capital — in some cases drastically more — they started to think it was better to sell, analysts and bankers said.

Spain’s “bad bank,” called Sareb, formed in 2012 with the real estate assets of the country’s bailed-out banks, started to close deals. Separately, last July, Blackstone bought 1,860 apartments for 125.5 million euros, then about $166 million, and in August, Goldman bought a block of public housing in central Madrid. This combination of deals set a floor price, analysts said.

The recovery is still nascent. About €5 billion worth of real estate transactions took place last year, according to the consulting firm CBRE Spain — more than double the amount of the previous year but still small compared with the €166 billion in commercial real estate deals made in Europe last year. At the peak, Spain issued 120,000 mortgages a quarter; in the fourth quarter of 2013, the figure was 15,000. Fitch Ratings recently issued a report saying that real estate prices would continue to fall through 2014, not rebounding until 2015.

A housing block in Cancelada, in southern Spain. Many such assets from bailed-out banks went to a so-called bad bank, Sareb, which is gradually selling them off.Jon Nazca/ReutersA housing block in Cancelada, in southern Spain. Many such assets from bailed-out banks went to a so-called bad bank, Sareb, which is gradually selling them off.

And Spain’s economy continues to struggle. The unemployment rate is 26 percent, and growth is estimated to be about 1 percent this year. The government contends things are better, said Pedro Gonzalez, a former shopkeeper who now drives a taxi, but the people haven’t seen it. “There are no jobs,” he added.

But that looks like an opportunity to investors who believe the market will truly take off and want to get in before it does.

“It’s crazy the number of investors coming in,” said Fernando Acuña, co-founder of Aura, a start-up real estate advisory firm in Spain, as he toggled between multiple screens dissecting data in the residential real estate market and showing the uptick in Google searches for “comprar piso” — “buy an apartment” — in his bustling office on Madrid’s fashionable Almirante Street.

Small firms like Mr. Acuña’s, midsize investment banks in Spain and global banks in London are buzzing with investors looking for different ways to play the real estate market, by buying apartments or office buildings, scooping up loans from Sareb or the banks themselves, creating pools of capital to buy real estate assets or buying servicing platforms, which give the private equity firms that own them the ability to manage their assets as well as critical market intelligence.

Belén Romana, chairwoman of Sareb, said the number of investors — around 50 — who turned up for the first auctions surprised her. They were aggressive, she said. “It was early and they thought they could make a killing.” They pushed her to move fast and do deals. “They wanted to sit in a dark room and do a bilateral deal,” she said. She refused. Auction processes were put in place, with data rooms for deal teams and deadlines for nonbinding and binding deals.

In 2013, Sareb sold €1.5 billion of the €51 billion in assets it was created to sell. Of the €51 billion, about 20 percent is real estate and 80 percent are loans. Ms. Romana said the agency bought the assets at discounts of 40 percent to 80 percent.

Unfinished homes in Cancelada, Spain. The nation’s economy continues to struggle, with the unemployment rate at 26 percent.Jon Nazca/ReutersUnfinished homes in Cancelada, Spain. The nation’s economy continues to struggle, with the unemployment rate at 26 percent.

There is a lot to sell. Sareb aims to sell nearly 10,500 assets this year, and the top six Spanish banks hold an additional €159 billion worth of real estate and development loans, according to a Goldman Sachs research report.

Catalunya Bank has just received bids for Project Hercules, a €6.95 billion portfolio of residential home loans, 43 percent of which are nonperforming, or overdue by at least 90 days. The bidders are a who’s who of private equity: Blackstone and TPG are competing against teams of Goldman Sachs and Cerberus; Apollo and Centerbridge; and Deutsche Bank, Pimco and Marathon, according to a person briefed on the sale.

Commerzbank recently sold €4.4 billion of loans backed by commercial real estate in a separate deal called Project Octopus, in which Lone Star and JPMorgan Chase beat out Blackstone and Deutsche Bank. The price was not disclosed but market participants said the sale was made at close to a 30 percent discount.

In February, a Socimi, or Spanish real estate investment trust, came to market, raising $547 million. Two weeks later, Hispania Activos, another pool of capital, raised $763 million, with Paulson & Company, George Soros’s Quantum fund and Moore Capital as anchor investors.

Before Grupo Azora, the Spanish real estate company behind Hispania, decided in the early fall on an initial public offering, some of the bankers its executives spoke with wondered whether there would be ample demand. But by the time the deal was marketed, investors were jockeying to get a piece of the action.

“We generated demand of $2.3 billion,” said Juan del Rivero, chairman of Grupo Azora and a former Goldman Sachs partner. “In my 30 years of experience in investment banking, I haven’t seen a lot of books like that,” he said, referring to the process in which investment bankers take orders for a deal before pricing it.

More Socimis are in the pipeline, with at least one set to raise more than €1 billion.

Already the deal landscape is changing. While many investors want trophy commercial real estate assets, extremely few are for sale in prime areas of Madrid and Barcelona. Investors who hoped for 20 percent internal rates of return are now expecting 12 percent to 15 percent, and shifting their focus to residential properties, analysts said.

That shift suits Mr. Acuña of Aura very well. He has ridden the boom and bust of the real estate cycle and is gearing up for the next boom.

In 2006, Deutsche Bank hired him to build its mortgage business. When the market collapsed, he added the title of head of collections. In 2009, he started a business trying to sell repossessed houses for the banks and formed a database with 450,000 properties from banks and more than a million from private clients. When investors started calling and asked him for valuations of land, houses, buildings and portfolios, he started Aura to advise them and also to invest in the sector. Its website is in English because, he said, “all my clients are in Mayfair.”

“I think 2014 is the year we will see a lot of transactions,” he added.

Many worry that the competition for some assets and excess liquidity is driving prices higher.

“People are starting to overpay on certain assets,” said one investment banker who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he works with many of the funds active in the market. “There’s pressure from investment committees in London to do deals.”

One private equity executive said a recent auction for a mediocre office building attracted 30 bids. His company’s bid — which he said was fully priced — did not even make it past the first round.

Are prices too high? “That’s the million-dollar question,” said Javier Martinez-Piqueras, co-head of equity capital markets at UBS. “Actually, it’s the billion-dollar question.”

 

REFERENCE THE NEW YORK TIMES PUBLICATION


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