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4 Factors to Consider Before Investing in Real Estate

4 Factors to Consider Before Investing in Real Estate

Investing your hard-earned cash into real estate may seem like a much safer investment than investing in the stock market. While no one truly knows what the stock market will do from day to day, there’s almost no question that the land you own today will just as much – and probably more – as time goes on.

However, this doesn’t mean that investing in real estate is a 100% foolproof way to earn some extra cash throughout the years. There are many factors to consider when deciding whether or not to purchase a lot of land. If you don’t know what you’re getting into, you might end up getting yourself in more trouble than it’s worth.

Know Your Purpose

Well, duh: Your purpose is to make money, right?

That’s pretty obvious.

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But you need to think about how you want to make money through your real estate investments.

Are you looking to make some quick cash off of a sure thing, or are you looking to invest in the long haul? Do you plan on improving the property you purchase, or leaving it as is? Do you want to rent the property out to other tenants, or is your prime motive to sell for a profit?

If you don’t really know what you plan on doing with a piece of property once you purchase it, you shouldn’t be investing in it in the first place.

On the other hand, once you know what you plan on doing with your investment, you’ll be able to focus your efforts in order to maximize your potential profits.

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Know the Property and Area

You can’t just decide to purchase property without understanding the its nuances, as well as the nuances of the surrounding area.

Okay, you can. But you definitely shouldn’t.

Different factors come into play depending on whether you’re purchasing property in a residential or commercial area. This includes leasing terms, interest rates, and other factors which will ultimately affect your bottom line.

Are you looking to invest in high-demand areas or more low-end housing? Once again, this all depends on your purposes for investing, as well as the amount of time and energy you can expend working on the property.

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Know the Market

You might know exactly what piece of property you want to invest in.

You might know exactly what you’re going to do with the property once it’s yours.

However, there are factors beyond your control that determine whether or not now is the right time to invest your money.

Just as when investing in the stock market, when it comes to investing in real estate you want to buy low, and sell high. That’s pretty straightforward: If you want to make money by flipping your investment, you’ll want to sell your property for more than you bought it for.

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But if your plan is to rent out your property, you need to know whether or not people or businesses looking to live or operate in the area are able to afford a price that will make the investment worth it on your end. In other words, you need to know that your property isn’t going to just sit there with a “For Rent” sign for months while you pick up the monthly cost of maintaining it without any income to show for it.

Know the True Cost of Investing

As alluded to, investing in real estate isn’t as simple as shelling out one lump sum payment and watching dividends roll in.

No matter which type of property – residential or commercial – you invest in, you’ll accrue costs throughout your ownership of the property on a monthly basis. You’ll want to anticipate these costs – such as for maintenance, utilities, taxes, and interest rates – so you’ll have a good idea of your net profit per month.

You’ll want to obtain copies of the amount paid toward utilities, taxes, and insurance for the property in years past. Of course, these documents will only give you a general idea of future expenses, but it’s much better than going in blind.

Regarding loans available and interest rates being offered, consult a mortgage broker. They’ll work to find you the best deal possible that saves you money on interest payments that can ultimately be used to improve the quality of your newly purchased property.

Featured photo credit: Real Estate Photography / Marcel Suliman / Flickr via farm4.staticflickr.com

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Last Updated on March 4, 2019

How to Use Credit Cards While Staying Out of Debt

How to Use Credit Cards While Staying Out of Debt

Many people will suggest that the best thing to do with your credit cards during these tough economic times is to cut them up with a pair of scissors. Indeed, if you are already in huge debt, you probably should stop using them and begin a payback strategy immediately. However, if you are not currently in trouble with your credit cards, there are wise ways to use them.

I happen to really love my credit cards so I will share with you my approach to how I use mine without getting into deep financial trouble.

Ever since about 1983 when I got my first Visa card, I continue to charge as many of my purchases as possible on credit. Everything from gas, groceries and monthly payments for services like my cable and home security monitoring are charged on credit. Despite my heavy usage, I have maintained the joy of never paying any interest fees at all on any of my credit cards.

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Here are some tips on how best to use your credit cards without falling into the trap of paying those nasty double-digit interest fees.

Do Not Treat Credit Cards as Your Funding Sources

Too many people treat their credit cards as funding sources for major purchases. Do not do this if you want to stay out of trouble. I use my credit cards as convenient financial instruments so I do not have to carry around much cash. In fact, I hate carrying cash, especially coins. When you buy things on credit, the purchases are clean and you will not get annoying coins back as change.

I do not rely on my Visa, MasterCard or American Express to fund any of my purchases, large or small. This brings me to my golden rule when it comes to whether I will pull out any of my credit cards either at a retail or online store.

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I never purchase anything with my credit cards if I do not have the actual cash on hand in my bank account.

If I really cannot pay for the item or service with cash that I already have at the bank, then I simply will not make the purchase. Remember, my credit cards are not used as funding sources. They are just convenient alternatives to actual cash in my pocket.

Make Sure to Always Pay Off Balances in Full Each Month

The next very important part of my overall strategy is to make absolutely sure that I pay the balances in full each and every month no matter how large they are. This should never be a problem if the cash has been budgeted for my purchases and secured in the bank. I have always paid my full balances each month ever since my very first credit card and this is why I never pay interest charges.

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Using Credit Cards with Rewards

Most of my credit cards are of the “no annual fees” type, including one MasterCard on a separate account I keep at home as a spare in case I lose my wallet or incur any fraudulent charges. However, I do use a main Visa card which does have an annual fee because all purchases on that card reward me with airline frequent flyer points. For me, the annual fee is worth it since I do travel and I get enough points to redeem many free flights.

You have to decide for yourself if you will charge enough purchases on credit each year without paying interest charges to warrant a credit card that rewards you with airline points (or other rewards). In my case, the answer is “yes” but that might not be the case for you.

I occasionally use a MasterCard or American Express card on small purchases just to keep those accounts active. Also, I have been to the odd retailer that accepted only a certain type of credit card, so I find that having one from each major company is quite handy. Aside from my main Visa card which earns the airline points, the rest of my cards are of the “no annual fees” variety.

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So this is how I use my credit cards without getting into any financial trouble with them. This strategy is recommended only if you are not in debt, of course. In fact, it is worth keeping in mind once you’re out of debt so that you can keep your credit cards active and treat them responsibly.

What are your credit card usage strategies? Let me know in the comments — I’d love to hear what methods you use.

Featured photo credit: Artem Bali via unsplash.com

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