What to Expect From the Real Estate Market In 2014

After many years of challenges, the real estate market came back to life last year. It is expected that the rebound will progress in 2014, but the movement will be very slow. A lot of experts say that 2014 is a year for stabilization and continued growth favoring the housing market with the decreasing number of foreclosures, rising prices or homes and more activity seen in homeowners. But then, real estate still need to deal with headwinds since inventory is tight and the fact that lending standards remain tough.

Real Estate Tax Tips in 2014

In order to purchase a home in the current real estate market, you need excellent credit score or the ability to pay in full cash. According to experts, the average score for applicants who were denied is at 729. With this, it can be inferred that the average score accepted is at 720 or higher. It is not right to expect that the credit standards will ease up soon. This is the year where regulations meant for preventing risky mortgage products and borrowers from coming into the market takes place. These changes necessitate lenders to evaluate several factors such as employment status and debt-income ratio, assets and income very closely.

The Continued Hike in Home Prices

Apart from tight credits, rising home prices and interest rates may put off prospective buyers from buying properties in 2014. Take a look at the computed 30 year mortgage at 3.34% in 2013 that bounces to 4.48% the current year and is expected to increase further this year.

What about the luxury home market? Well, price gains are not that much of a bad news for those who wish to buy. However, first time buyers may lose hope though increasing prices may satisfy current owners whom are waiting for their homes to accumulate more value.

In the past years, first time home buyers serve as the driving force. But this year, the reverse is expected as the prices of houses rises and less mortgages becomes underwater. The degree of bounce the housing market is expected in 2014 also relies on construction. Builders are financially careful and deal with similar tight lending settings as buyers do. So, this year, it is expected that there will be a small increase in new homes out in there in the market. But then, if buyer demand hikes up, building of new homes should also follow.

Tight Inventory
This 2014, the gains in terms of demand as well as inventory will move in a slow pace. It was noted that the entire housing inventory fall during the months of October-November last year. Currently, unsold inventory is at 5% higher compared to last year and with this, it is predicted that the inventory will not speed up until 2015.

It is presumed that 2014 will be the period where the appreciation of home prices will pull back to sustainable levels. However, to be able to get through the current housing trends, ample research is needed. This may take time, but it is always better to be sure than regret later on.

Should You Even Bother With Article Marketing Since Google’s Hummingbird Update?

I’ve been an avid article marketer since I wrote my first ebook back in 2002 and discovered that I could get free coverage by simply writing content and giving it away for others to distribute “all of the web.” Since then, there’ve been so many Google updates you’d think the search giant was running a zoo instead of an online marketing firm, eg, Penguin, Panda, Hummingbird, etc.

But with every update, and with all the SEO experts declaring that article marketing is dead, ineffective and can be downright harmful, I’m still in love with this form of content marketing. And make no mistake, that’s what article marketing is.

3 Reasons I Still Believe in Article Marketing – Even Post-Hummingbird

Following is why I STILL think article marketing is effective – yes, even in spite of Google’s latest most talked about update.

1. It’s Just Content Marketing: What do industry leaders like the Content Marketing Institute (CMI) say you need to do to get more site visitors, traffic, conversion, leads and sales? Produce more content.

In fact, one of the findings of the CMI’s B2B Content Marketing: 2014 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends-North America report, the company flat out says, “It seems to be that small businesses need to realise that… producing enough content on a regular basis is crucial for success.”

Article marketing is just content marketing – and if done consistently (this is where many fall down), it’s still effective.

2. It Forces You to Produce Better Content: Piggybacking on this last point, almost all of Google’s algorithm changes work in some way to make what web surfers want to find on the web better. They want to get rid of spammy, keyword-stuffed articles that aren’t helpful to end users and reward content that is the exact opposite.

As well-known social media and content strategist Jay Baer writes in the post, How Google Is Forcing Your Content to Get Better:

Google has stated for many years that their goal is to make search behave more like people… and this [Hummingbird update] is just the next step in that direction. Content that people like, Google will like.

Google wants you to figure out what content to make not by obsessing over keywords and data reports, but to answer the questions that you can genuinely answer well, and be authoritative for the topics about which you truly are a good solution.

3. It Forces Scammers Out: With every Google update, more and more of the spammers, schemers and scammers as I like to call them, give up and go away because they’re after a quick buck. But real business owners who are invested in their sites, blogs, brands and image rejoice. Why?

While we may get frustrated if our sites lose rank for no apparent reason, we know that if we keep producing great content and distributing it, we’re building a community – a community of loyal readers and followers. This makes us less reliant on what Google and other search engines are doing – because it’s never been about “gaming Google,” but meeting our customers’ needs.

And a strange thing happens – Google rewards this because your “community” sends signals their way (via shares on social media, comments on blogs, reviews in forums, etc.) that, “Hey, we like this site!”

Remember the quote above from Jeff Baer’s post, “Content that people like, Google will like?” Well that’s how it works folks.

I’ve been saying this for a while now, if you want to “beat Google,” focus less on the intricacies of what they may or may not be doing with their algorithm updates, and more on what they tell you directly, which is to have original, high-quality content. Proof?

In the Search Engine Land post, FAQ: All About The New Google “Hummingbird” Algorithm, founder, editor and search engine guru Danny Sullivan writes:

Does this mean SEO is dead?

No, SEO is not yet again dead. In fact, Google’s saying there’s nothing new or different SEOs or publishers need to worry about. [Google’s] Guidance remains the same, it says: have original, high-quality content. (emphasis added) Signals that have been important in the past remain important; Hummingbird just allows Google to process them in new and hopefully better ways.

How Effective Has Article Marketing Been for Me

Well, it’s kept me on the first three pages of Google for many keywords relevant to my niches, eg, SEO writing – and quite a few more.

SEO Article Marketing: Well Over 1,000 Articles Written!

Once I learned how to write SEO content in 2007, I increased my article marketing efforts and I haven’t let up since. In my opinion, it’s still some of the cheapest, most effective online marketing you can do – yes, even in spite of Google’s Hummingbird update.

Building a Future – Bachelor of Science in Construction Management

As the single-largest industry in the U.S., there’s no doubt that construction plays a pivotal role in the nation’s economy. After all, without heavy equipment, construction equipment operators, and building inspectors, we wouldn’t have any skyscrapers, freeways, apartment buildings, or bridges. So, when it comes to getting in on some of the hottest careers around, this industry will always provide more than its share of employment opportunities. In fact, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) forecasts that employment opportunities for construction managers will exceed the number of qualified candidates from now through 2014.

That said – a construction management degree may be the best way to break into this lucrative field.

Construction Management Degrees: Paving the Way to Success

Many colleges, universities and technical schools are now offering a Bachelor of Science in Construction Management. This type of construction management degree is designed to provide a foundation in construction management, techniques, and legal issues relating to the field. Areas of study can include building codes, site construction and measurement, project management, construction safety management, and more. Instruction on mechanical systems and materials are also typically included in these programs.

Here is a closer look at some of the jobs you can land with a Bachelor of Science in Construction Management:

Building Inspectors. In this position, your priority will be keeping buildings safe and up to code. You’ll double-check repairs, alterations, and construction of buildings and other structures to make sure they are in compliance with local, state, and federal ordinances and zoning laws.

Construction Manager. If you enjoy planning and coordinating, this is the job for you. From construction superintendent – to project engineer – to general construction manager – you’ll be the glue that holds an entire project together. You may plan and direct a single project, or manage pieces of a larger project. Basically, you’ll oversee construction supervisors and workers.

Heavy Equipment Operators. Construction equipment operators use machinery to move heavy materials such as earth and construction equipment. Typical responsibilities include operating equipment such as bulldozers, as well as using road graders and tamping equipment to build roads and other large structures. With relatively high hourly pay and a good job outlook, this could be a great career option if you’re interested in earning a Bachelor of Science in Construction Management.

Show Me the Money

So you may be wondering, “How much do these jobs actually pay?” Well, that depends on a lot of factors. Pay for these positions will vary based on the size and nature of the construction project, its geographic location, and economic conditions. But according to the BLS, median annual earnings of construction managers as of May 2004 were $69,870. The middle 50 percent earned between $53,430 and $92,350. The lowest-paid 10 percent earned less than $42,120. And according to a July 2005 salary survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, candidates with a Bachelor of Science in Construction Management received job offers averaging $42,923 a year – right out of school.

Some of the courses you can expect to take while getting your construction management degree include:

o Project Management

o Statics and Strength of Materials

o Building Codes

o Project Scheduling

o Cost Estimating and Analysis

o Legal Issues in Construction

If this sounds good to you, it’s time to start finding a place to get your degree. If you’d like to get a Bachelor of Science in Construction Management but just don’t have the time or freedom for traditional classes, keep in mind that many schools now let you get your entire construction management degree online. If this is the way you want to go, be sure and check out the programs at each of the colleges you’re interested in.

Property Manager Education About Carbon Monoxide Detectors Is Critical

Carbon monoxide (CO) is an odorless, invisible gas produced when any fuel such as natural gas, kerosene, wood, oil or even common barbecue charcoal is burned. At high levels without proper ventilation carbon monoxide can kill humans in a very short period of time, even after just a few minutes. Moreover, there is credible research that acute exposure or poisoning by CO can cause chronic health effects such as lethargy, severe headaches, amnesia, psychosis, concentration problems, memory impairment, personality alterations, and even Parkinson’s disease. The American Medical Association states that CO is the primary cause of accidental poisoning deaths in the United States year after year. The federal Centers for Disease Control estimates that CO poisoning kills approximately 500 people annually and causes another approximately 20,000 injuries per year. Needless to say CO is a very important topic and issue for property managers to understand and embrace in order to act as professionally as possible and to protect their client’s best interests.

Today there are laws requiring listed and labeled CO detectors within all residences, rental units, investment properties, multi-family residences, and apartment buildings. It is tantamount for property managers and property management companies to be fully educated about CO, CO detectors, CO poisoning, exposure and prevention. There are also some ‘best practices’ guidelines for property managers to be mindful of and incorporate into their property inspection checklists.

Various State Laws Require Carbon Monoxide Detectors in Dwellings

In California as of July 2011 the Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Prevention Act of 2010, (hereinafter “The Act”) requires carbon monoxide detectors to be installed within every dwelling unit intended for human occupancy. The Act also requires CO detectors to be installed in ‘all other existing dwelling units’ on or before January 1, 2013. Thus, as of 2014 “ALL” dwelling units need to be equipped with properly listed and labeled CO detectors.

How are CO Detectors Energized

The standards for manufacture of CO detectors are well documented in state laws. Standard 720 of the National Fire Protection Association is the basis for manufactured detectors. Most home improvement and hardware stores carry several code complying varieties of detectors. CO detectors can be battery powered, can be plug-in (outlet) with battery backup, or can be hardwired with battery backup. CO detectors that are manufactured with a combination smoke detector must emit an alarm or voice warning with each signal different than the other.

Where in a Dwelling Unit are CO Detectors Required?

CO detectors are required to be installed in a manner consistent with building code standards for new construction. For minimum effectiveness and security CO detectors should be located outside of each sleeping room or in the vicinity of bedrooms. CO detectors must also be installed in every level of a dwelling unit including basements within which fuel-burning appliances exist and dwelling units that have attached garages. The CO detectors should be at least six (6″) inches from exterior walls; three (3′) feet from HVAC supply or return ducting vents, and not obstructed by other equipment, furniture, or occupant belongings.

Landlords and Property Managers are required to Supply Carbon Monoxide Detectors in All Dwelling Units

The standards and requirements for CO detectors apply equally to landlords and property managers. After proper notice has been granted to a tenant property managers have the authority to enter dwelling to install, repair, test and maintain CO detectors. CO detectors are required to be operable at the time the tenant takes possession of the unit. Tenants are required to notify the property manager if the CO detector becomes defective or inoperable. A property manager will not be held responsible or in violation of the law if a tenant has failed to notify the property manager of the deficient device.

Common Sources of Carbon Monoxide in Dwelling Units

Any fuel burning appliance located in a residence or dwelling unit is a potential CO producer. Gas burning heating systems, gas burning cooking appliances like cooktops, ovens, griddles, and water heaters are all possible sources of CO. Typically, the gas burning appliance somehow becomes mal-adjusted and begins to burn the fuel incompletely, leaving CO molecule production. This is sometimes caused by the equipment failing, but can also be caused by alterations in the dwelling unit interior atmospheric pressures.

Another common source of CO in a dwelling unit is from attached garages and vehicular exhaust. It is always a best practice to start a vehicle in an attached garage and move it to the driveway exterior while allowing it to warm up. Never allow vehicles to be running within a closed garage as the exhaust will most certainly find its way into the dwelling potentially causing problems.

Property Managers Must Take Carbon Monoxide Education Seriously

Because CO is a silent killer it is imperative that property managers be diligent about CO detector education and maintenance. Carbon monoxide is such an extremely important area of concern for property managers for the reasons stated above. In addition to protecting your client’s best interests diligence in maintaining properly functioning CO detectors can save lives.

Property managers and property management companies must be adequately educated about CO, CO detectors, CO poisoning, exposure and prevention.

Austin Texas Rental Market Will Grow Through 2014!

As the rest of the US and global markets remain uncertain, Austin Texas is looking as bright as ever according to economist Angelos Angelou. “We will have a healthy economy, the envy of many cities around the country, Austin today leads the charts on every measure of economic growth one can think of.”

Angelos is generally very conservative when making employment forecasts. He predicted 19,000 new jobs in 2012 however; we ended 26,000, which is a welcome sight!

The areas already booming population will expand another 7 percent by 2014, Angelou said, coming just shy of 2 million. Meanwhile, Austin employers will add 29,000 jobs next year and another 30,000 in 2014

Unemployment lowered to 5.3%, which is well below the 7.8% national average spurred by a business and tax friendly environment.

The country and large employers are noticing, he stated, pointing to Apple, Facebook, GM, Visa and Samsung, which call Austin home. Furthermore, Apple is on-track to double its workforce in the coming years, which may make it the largest employer in Austin.

Austin hosted its first Formula One race which was a huge hit and brought millions in tax revenue to the city. South by Southwest and ACL also continue to grow. This positive impact has been seen with the low occupancy rate in the hospitality and increasing wages.

Real estate values and rents remain strong. Continued population growth has the potential to create a lasting and severe shortage of residential real estate in the near future, Angelou said.

Savvy investors know that real estate is a great way to build real wealth. With rental property you have multiple income streams that are increasing your wealth:

  • Cash on cash return (ROI from rental income)
  • Property appreciation (wealth increases)
  • Tenants paying mortgage builds equity/wealth for you!
  • Tax benefits (Write-offs, deprecation, etc)
  • Purchase equity

The Austin TX rental property market offers great cash flow whether you are investing in single family homes, multi-units or apartment complexes. Each has its advantage and disadvantage. We personally focus on single family and up to 4plexes as opposed to apartments. This is due to the ease of obtaining traditional financing and the amount of foreclosures on the market. Furthermore we see huge upside on home values as the markets continue to normalize. Apartment complexes do tend to offer better cash on cash returns but the financing is harder to obtain and the value of the property is tied more to rental prices rather than comparables.