Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Back to School in Fort Collins

Well, it's that time of year...Time to get the kids prepared and off to school.  It's a bittersweet time for most parents, understandably, but living in Fort Collins has its perks when it comes to schools.  Poudre School District is the best school district in Northern Colorado so when it comes time for parents to send their kids back to school, they know their little ones will be in good hands.

Poudre School District (PSD)

High Schools:  6
Middle Schools:  9
Elementary Schools:  33
Total Students:  26,520

According to School Digger (www.SchoolDigger.com) PSD ranks 24th out of 122 Colorado districts.  Although that might seem to be "better than average but not great", keep in mind that School Digger ranks all districts regardless of size.  So that small town with one great school and 1200 students has a good opportunity to rank higher due to one or two great schools in the district.  What is very impressive is out of all districts with 25,000 students and above, PSD ranks 4th.

Great Schools (www.GreatSchools.com) is a comprehensive school and district ranking website used by parents and faculty to find information on any school in the state.  It is a great resource to understand all things of importance when sending your kiddo off to school.  They have past test score averages, spending per pupil, and student/teacher ratios.

It's interesting to note that greatschools.com gave PSD an 8 out of 10 in overall ranking.  Spending per pupil was $7982 per student, where the statewide average is $8094, so Poudre is doing much more with much less.  Student to teacher ratios are on par with the state average at 17 pupils per full time teacher, which is a very reasonable learning environment.  When it comes to test scores, you really can't beat Poudre.  The district was above state CSAP test score averages for every grade level, in every category (reading, writing, math, and science) for each of the past 6 years.

Not only does the district lead in academic pursuits, the faculty and staff at PSD schools have also been recognized for the leadership in environmental pursuits.  The district is voluntarily involved in Climate Wise, a City of Fort Collins program committed to climate protection.  According to the district website, program partners have saved over 480 million kilowatt hours of electricity, the equivalent of the annual energy use of 43,000 homes.  On top of that, the school has earned over 120 Energy Star Awards since 2000.

It's easy to see why sending your kids off to school in Fort Collins isn't a tough decision after all.  The entire city is committed to providing the best education and educational support to students and the wonderful school district is a reflection of that dedication.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Rich Dad - Poor Dad Real Estate Investing

While going through my bookshelf and de-cluttering, organizing and purging a few things here and there, I noticed just how many "Rich Dad" books I've read.  It made me think.  I went through all the miscellaneous real estate books I've read over the past few years and tried coming up with the most influential books - the ones that have really made an impact on me and my own personal philosophies on real estate investing.  The top four books were all Rich Dad books.  Not that they are the best books ever written, but the authors (Robert has a fantastic approach to co-author all of his best-sellers) have a specific style and format to writing that is easily understood, with maximum impact.  If you're just starting to think about getting into the real estate market as an investor, I highly recommend you read these cover to cover, in this particular order.

1.  Rich Dad Poor Dad - Robert Kiyosaki with Sharon Lechter CPA
This book is the foundation of all the principals outlined in every book in the Rich Dad series.  It is a very straightforward read and describes differing views on money from Robert's two different father figures growing up.  Within this book, you'll begin to understand how you can buy assets that create consistent and steady cash flow, setting yourself up for future wealth.  This book will help you understand good debt versus bad debt, and assets versus liabilities in a very different perspective. Buy it here

2.  Rich Dad's ABC's of Real Estate Investing - By Ken McElroy
Ken McElroy is a Rich Dad advisor and very prominent real estate investor, property manager, developer and entreprenuer.  In the ABC's of Real Estate Investing, Ken walks you through all the basics from understanding expenses and cash flow, choosing properties carefully, property management dilemmas, and much, much more.  There are several excellent examples of different scenarios and plenty of useful resources within.  Buy it here

3.  Rich Dad's Advanced Guide to Real Estate Investing - By Ken McElroy
Ken takes it to the next level in the Advanced Guide to Real Estate Investing.  Here, Ken moves from investing in small single family homes, to multi-family investing concepts.  Ken digs deep into advanced valuation principles, strategies for increasing cash flows and how to structure the deal for maximum profitability with limited financial risk.  This book is not for beginners, but it is an excellent resource when understanding where your real estate investing journey is heading.  The concepts within will work whether you're buying a $89,000 condo or a multi-million dollar apartment building. Buy it here

4.  Rich Dad's Real Estate Advantages - By Sharon Lechter and Garrett Sutton
A real estate investing business is only as successful as its behind the scenes business practices.  If you aren't tracking and understanding your finances, you're basically dead in the water.  This book helps to explain how real estate investors can acheive maximum return on investment by understanding tax advantages allowed only to them.  Also, this book dives deep into business structure and organization, accounting and legal advice to understand before you get started.  Risk and liability are always present in the world of real estate investing, and this book will help minimize your exposure to both.  Buy it here

After reading all of these you'll begin to notice a common theme:  to be successful as a real estate investor (and entreprenuer for that matter) you'll need to change the way you think about debt, assets and liabilities, you'll need to build a team of people who can take you to the next level, and you've got to become financially literate to understand exactly how you're going to get there.  Application and execution is up to you.  I'm fully available to help you understand your next steps and how to get you down the path to financial freedom through real estate investing.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

What a Property Manager Can Do for You

To manage, or not to manage...that is the question I've been asked over the past few months.  With savvy investors jumping in to take advantage of record low rates and similarly low prices, landlording has made a comeback.  The all important question is, "Is it worth it to hire a management company or should I just save the cash and do it myself?"  The answer to that question depends on your cash flow, your personal situation, your flexibility and level of effort.  But, if you do want to do down the management route, here are the best reasons to use a property manager:

It's in the name: Property Manager.  It means they're responsible for all facets of your property with very little input required from you.  They'll handle all the rents and deposits.  Managers will have strong, defensible leases that will help legitimize your investment.  A strong lease is probably your best line of defense, and a manager handles it all.

Whatever maintenance needs to be done, the manager takes care of it.  Typically, the only input needed from you will be signing off on the work done or verifying the scope of any individual project.  Managers will either contract with handymen or have staffed contractors  to handle the work.  You will not be called at midnight to unclog a toilet or waste your weekend cleaning out gutters or doing yard work. 

One of the most stressful parts of owning an investment property is finding good, solid tenants.  With their systems and strategies in place, property managers are able to reach more prospects, ultimately getting you a better, more qualified tenant, which in turn will give you a stronger return on investment and leave your property in better shape.  Property managers have pools of prospective tenants (especially in today's rental market) that they will run credit and background checks on before having them sign a lease for your investment.  They abide by fair housing laws and will never discriminate when choosing tenants.  Not only will they have better tenants, but they will get better terms and longer leases, which will positively impact your bottom line.

The best of the best managers are excellent reporters.  They will provide you all the income and expense reports necessary for taxes and accounting. Along with that, your manager may even report your return on investment, and point out places where you could maximize your profit.  Managers will always tell you when they believe it's feasible to raise rents, and should always provide data to back up any changes in the rental market.

Just like folks use a stock broker to manage their stock investments, a good property manager will be on the front line, managing your rentals.  Although there is a varied amount of arrangements, managers work fairly inexpensively, usually commanding about 8-12% of rent payments as a flat fee.  Some charge less, some charge more, and some charge for different specialized services.  Before entering into a contract, make sure you understand all the services provided so there aren't any surprises.  After that point, the most difficult part of being landlord will be taking your check to the bank!

Jared Reimer is a real estate broker with Prudential Rocky Mountain Realtors in Northern Colorado.  Real estate is his passion and he always wants to connect with like-minded and savvy real estate fans.  For more information or to get in touch with Jared, please visit his website at www.ReimerRE.com or email him at JaredReimer@ReimerRE.com

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

MLS Input Mistakes

Take a look at my newest video blog to learn all the ways your Realtor might be selling you short when omitting information from the MLS system.

Jared Reimer is a real estate broker with Prudential Rocky Mountain Realtors in Northern Colorado.  Real estate is his passion and he always wants to connect with like-minded and savvy real estate fans.  For more information or to get in touch with Jared, please visit his website at www.ReimerRE.com or email him at JaredReimer@ReimerRE.com