buying that second home

5 Reasons to Buy a Second Home

So…you have some equity built up or finished paying for your primary residence and you are wondering whether it makes sense to buy a second home.  Many homeowners who live in a large city like Boston, may be looking for that second home in a surrounding cities such as  Cohasset or Weymouth.  Some choose to purchase a second home so they can have a vacation style getaway and purchase a beachfront condo in Panama City.  You may want to retire to the music life of Austin TX.  There are many reasons someone may choose to invest in that second home; below are some of theadvantages that come with owning a second home.


Second Home As an Investment

The first is that it is an excellent form of investment. Stocks and other such assets fluctuate in value all the time and you can never be sure that you will make a profit. A home, however, is an investment that you can rely on to increase in value over time. If you have a long term project, such as sending your kids to university, you can buy a second home so that when the time comes you can cash in for the necessary funds.

Second Home as Source of Extra Income

5 reasons for purchasing a second homeA second home is also an excellent way to make money every year. With the massive popularity of Air BnB – it has become even easier to leverage a second property for income purposes.   You can rent it out or lease it for a good amount of money which you can use to fund your other projects. If you plan to use it as a vacation home you can plan it in such a way that during the time you want to go on vacation the home is empty.

Second Home For Tax Savings

If you don’t plan to rent out your home you may be in a position to see significant tax savings. So long as the home is not occupied for more than a couple of weeks a year the property taxes are deductible from your gross income.  Depending on your specific situation, there are many potential ways to leverage a second home as a tax writer.  Needless to say, you should defer to a tax professional before writing that offer.

Some of the Possible Tax Advantages




A Second Home as a Vacation Home

A second home provides you with a familiar place to go when you are on holiday. You will not have to worry about the hassle of staying in hotels and eating hotel food. You will have your holiday the way you like it – you can come and go as you please and you can eat whatever you like. If you have small children it is a particularly good idea because children don’t do very well when they are cooped up in hotel rooms. You will also enjoy a high level of convenience – you don’t have to worry about packing because you can store items in your second home. When the time comes for your holiday all you need to do is travel to your second home – you will not have to worry about packing and unpacking.  A second home is also a great place for gatherings – once or twice a year you can have the whole family come together and enjoy some time away from work.

buying your second home

buying your second home



A Second Home for Retirement

Lastly, if you want to retire well there is no better way than to choose a second home in a nice city. When the time comes you will sell your first home and the money that you make will go a long way in helping fund your retirement lifestyle.

There is no doubt that owning real estate is the #1 way that the average person can acquire wealth in the United States.  If you can make it happen — it is always recommended to invest in real estate.

Find a good real estate website — start searching.  Do the math.  You may be surprised what you are able to do.

real estate websites

The Best Real Estate Websites are NOT What You Think

What The Best Real Estate Websites Have

Many believe that the best real estate websites include Zillow, Realtor.com and Trulia. In fact, they are not.  The nationwide real estate portals simply do not have all of the listings.

websites with IDX

Local Real Estate Websites

When looking for the best real estate website, truth is it takes a little more looking than one would think.  Since the nationwide real estate portals don’t have all of the listings, you need to go local.

Local real estate sites have a direct connection to the MLS via a IDX feed.   This lets the local real estate sites display ALL of the real estate listings regardless of who listed the property.  This lets the local, broker based sites showcase a range of listings, not just their own.

While some specialize in only commercial real estate, others specialize in residential sales, some focus on condos and some on single family homes. There are even sites that offer both services by agents, for buyers and sellers across the nation. One of the best ways to find the right sites is by narrowing your search down to your immediate location or vicinity.

 

Search Local

When you use Google to try and find a local real estate website, make sure that you put your city in the Google Search.  That means if you are looking for luxury homes in New Orleans,  your search should be New Orleans luxury homes for sale.  Although this sounds intuitive, if you simply search “real estate” or “homes for sale” without the city name — you will usually end up with the major search portals which wont have all of the listings.

 

What to Look for In Real Estate Sites?

local real estate websites are better

The best real estate sites should have content that is easy to process. These should also have user-friendly menus and search features. This allows visitors to access a wide array of valuable resources, including available listings, property values, and much more.

Most real-estate sites also have blog sections, which feature informative articles and posts. The best real estate websites will be posting new, quality blog posts on a regular basis  This too is a great way to access information on all real estate happenings and events in your area.

Buyers or sellers should also be able to find current pricing trends for properties in their areas. These too can be compared to state or national averages, which let them know how much their property, should sell for.

 

What Else to Look For?

Real-estate websites really should give a full picture of what homes are for sale in a particular area. This means they need to have the aforementioned IDX – the listing feed from the MLS.

They should also offer comparative listings – which allow sellers to see average buying or selling rates in their areas. Some may even have the local condo association condo docs. As always, there should be plenty of pertinent links along with contact information for all interested buyers and sellers.

For more information, simply check Google for the top rated real estate websites – making sure to put the city in your search criteria.  Don’t forget to pass up ALL of the major real estate portals!

SEO Search engine optimization

How Much Does #SEO Cost?

How Much Should SEO Cost?

Everyone has either gotten the phone call or e-mail from someone offering affordable SEO services starting at $99 per month!  Are these real?  Can they really get your website on “Page One Of Google” like they said?

What Is SEO?

#SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization.  #SEO is having your website rank for specific keywords that your potential customer may be putting into Google.  That sounds easy right?  Keep in mind, there are ONLY ten places on Page One Of Google for any particular set of keywords. The next time you go to Google and type in a search… pay attention to the number of results.  Why?  Well, that will show you the number of pages that are trying to rank for the term you just put in.  If I put in the search term “real estate SEO” you will see that we have one million six hundred thousands results.  How easy do you think it is to be the “first ten”?  Well what about page two you ask…

The old joke is “where do you hide a dead body?  Page two of Google”

SEO Takes Work

This article will not cover what needs to be done to rank your website on page one of Google… there are millions of search results telling you how to do that– if you don’t believe me, just Google it!  To get some idea of your current site’s SEO – Here is a FREE SEO Website Audit.

What we will go into is: Real SEO takes time!  There is a ton of work involved including On-Page SEO, which is setting up your website properly including:

  • H1, H2, H3 Headers
  • Meta Title
  • Meta Description
  • Keyword Density (even if its simply double checking for keyword stuffing)
  • URL Structure
  • Internal Links

And that is just scraping the surface.  Once the on-page SEO is done, then someone needs to write some high quality, original content.  That’s right, every page of your site needs to be custom written and not plagiarized from any other place on the internet.  Once all of that NEW copy is written, then someone is going to syndicate that content on social media.  That is not just posting the new blog on your personal Facebook page, but somehow figuring out how to have it shared, liked, plus 1’d, tweeted, retweeted, upvoted and everything else that shows its a quality piece of content.

SEO Takes Time

Anyone claiming that they will have you on page one of Google instantly (or even within a month) is either lying to you…or simply running an Google Adwords campaign. It takes months, sometimes even years, to properly rank a site.
SEO Search engine optimization

How Much Should SEO Cost?

Now that we have somewhat of an understanding of the work involved in SEOing a website.  Understanding the work, time and ability that SEO takes, now we can look at the affordability of real SEO.

SEO Pricing is based on a variety of factors:

  • How much work needs to be done to your existing website
  • The number of monthly searches for your keywords you want to rank for
  • How competitive the search is
  • How strong the competition for the search results are
  • Domain age and existing domain metrics for your existing website
  • The going Cost Per Click paid for Adwords for those keywords

Once again, we are just scraping the surface.  Needless to say, its easier to rank a website that wants to be found for “Dog Walking in Granbury Tx” than it is for “New York Real Estate”.  One search term will have very few searches and very few competing websites. The other search term has thousands of monthly searches and millions of websites fighting to be on page one of Google.

 NO ONE can guarantee page one placement on Google for a pre-determined price

Real Esate SEO

Is SEO Affordable?

Affordable SEO is a matter of value.  Any digital marketing service, such as search engine optimization, should provide a return on investment.  The amount of ROI dictates its affordability.  Most businesses are perfectly fine in spending any amount of money, if it provides a consistent return on investment.  At the same time, it doesn’t matter how little you spend (yea, we are talking about you $199 per month SEO guru) if you don’t acquire any new business or generate any new revenue.
SEO - Search Engine Optimization

How Do I Know If My SEO Price Is Affordable?

There are many ways to qualify value in SEO services.  Whether your long term business goals are brand recognition, product awareness or bottom line sales, there are may was to measure success.  One common way is to compare your SEO Quote to what it would cost to run Google Ads (which ultimately gets you on page one of Google). This is not an direct comparison for a variety of reasons.  Some basic reasons are:

  • When you stop paying the ads go away instantly
  • Some people skip ALL ads and go to the first “organic search result”

Comparing your SEO Spend to the Google Adwords equivalent costs is a quick way to get an idea if your SEO is Affordable.

When you get a quote for ongoing SEO services, it should include some of the main keywords the SEO company anticipates you ranking for.  It should also include the average CPC or Cost Per Click needed to pay for an ad on Google. Simply multiply the number of searches by the Cost Per Click.  Keep in mind when looking at comparing organic ranking to paid ads, don’t anticipate getting 100% of all of the clicks — but this process will give some relevance and assign a value for each search term.

The only way you get 100% of the clicks is if you don’t have any ads and rank for all ten positions.

The point here is that you can look at each key-phrase searched in Google and know how much  it would cost to show up (in the ads) each time that keyword is searched.  Your SEO for those series of keywords has a directly relationship to the amount of the equivelent Google Adwords.

Real SEO Can Be Affordable

Depending on your specific business goals, SEO can be very affordable.  SEO has single handily created multi-million dollar, publicly traded companies.  Lets look at real estate SEO, Zillow for instance…They would only be a funny name if they did not beat out everyone else in the extremely competitive world of online real estate.

SEO is all about getting a return on investment.  It really doesn’t matter how much it costs.

If every dollar you spend makes you a dollar fifty — spend 100 million!!

FREE SEO Report

Get Your FREE No Obligation SEO Report

 


e-mail security for real estate agents

E-Mail Security and Real Estate Agents

Security is something we all think of regularly when it comes to technology. We use security software on personal computers, tablets, and smartphones. In the real estate world, every REALTOR and real estate broker use technology every day.  The use of some security measures is a good thing and a necessity in this time. REALTORS generally transmit personal information, mortgage information and other sensitive data over their “free” e-mail account. Real estate agents have their clients sign a document explaining “agency”.  In that document, they guarantee a certain level of privacy.  Using what may technology vendors look at as “obviously not secure”, using a FREE E-mail system may not be enough to avoid being responsible.

Is The Broker or the Agent At Fault?

The unfortunate answer to that is BOTH.  Both the real estate broker and the individual REALTOR are both responsible for data breaches that affect their customers and clients.  Many real estate brokers provide their agents with broker branded e-mail accounts.  Needless to say, if the broker is providing the e-mail then they are directly responsible.  Even if the broker does not provide the e-mail, in most states they have ultimate culpability for the agents on their roster.  At the agent level, if you have subscribed to a free e-mail service, especially one known for security vulnerabilities (such as AOL) then you are responsible too.  Remember, in most states, the real estate agent is the person who has the agency relationship with the client.  This is a problem when you have active homes for sale.

Large Breaches In Security

email security Back in 2014, Yahoo, EBay, Home Depot, and AOL were breached by hackers who stole the data of more than 500 Million user accounts. This information included things such as usernames, passwords, email addresses, phone numbers, as well as other sensitive information.  For any real estate agent using one of these systems, the confidential aspect of their real estate transaction could be at risk.  The mentioned breaches are only a small number of successful attacks which took place in 2014. Many of the email providers that people use for personal email simply do not deploy or maintain the same security measures one may find with a dedicated exchange server.

Companies like Yahoo and AOL were great for providing a free personal email account in the early days of the internet. However, they should not be used to transmit sensitive sensitive data of any kind. Using AOL is a bad idea in itself. The company has been a target for hackers for many years because of a lack of security. At the same time, Yahoo is not much better. It too has been a target favored by hackers for many years. Companies this large have attempted breaches of security almost daily if not more often. The public only hears about the large breaches that are made public.

For an interesting view of recent breaches over the years, take a look at the chart here: Worlds Biggest Breaches. The page is a great visual representation of some of the biggest breaches in the last decade.

words biggest security breaches
When it comes to security of data, the user’s computer or device is not the end of the line. To protect data regardless of being personal, business related, or otherwise, the user must think much farther down the line and be proactive against possible breaches of security. Far too many people are using insecure methods of exchanging data. Lawyers, doctors, real estate agents, corporate CEOs, and many others are using personal email accounts to transfer data with clients or other organizations, often never realizing that the risk is not at the computer sending the email. Nor is it the issue with the computer receiving the email. The real issue is with the service being used to send or receive the email or other message.  With real estate agents transferring critical, personal information over their e-mail, REALTORS may have some level of culpability if a security breach is found. Simply using a service that has had a data breach puts real estate agents at risk.

Website Vulnerability

If you do business through your real estate website, anything that passes through there, such as your clients:

  • Names
  • Email Address
  • Home Address
  • Phone Number
  • Other Potentially Private Information

If you own your domain – and pass client information of any sort, you are responsible for that data.

Data

 

security hackUsing a service that has had a data breach is a serious risk. Any messages that are transmitted can be seen and manipulated by a third party aka the hacker. The stolen data is often sold on the black market and then used for many things like identity theft. The information pertained in one account is often similar to, if not the same as, the information used in other accounts for the same person. Once a hacker or organization has enough information it can be used to check for accounts and other information on many different websites. This means that the email used to create a Facebook account is often the same as the one used to create an Instagram account. The chances that both accounts use the same password are fairly high. All the security questions that are answered are also common among many websites making that information just as valuable as the email and password.

Secure e-Mail Options for Real Estate Agents

There are many better options in email services for both business and personal use. Companies like Microsoft and Google offer free email services for personal use as well as dedicated email domains for business use. Both are much more secure than using an outdated service like AOL. When transmitting sensitive data related to business, an employee should never use a personal account for any communication. All employees should use the company provided email account for security. As for personal email accounts, there are many free secure options available. Microsoft offers a free outlook.com account to anyone signing up for a Microsoft account. Google has always been free to sign up for an account that includes much more than just email. A Google account gives the user access to many different services and tools from Google. There are many more free email services for personal use available on the internet.

Digital Security

Security is a big factor in the world when it comes to digital information. The use of old outdated systems like AOL can lead to potential data breaches by outside sources. Moving email and messaging services away from old systems is a simple step to keeping all data and communications secure. The next step is to keep personal messages separate from business. Never use a personal account for company related communication and vice versa. Finally, using simple passwords is a disaster waiting to happen. Creating secure passwords and changing them often is the best way to keep all communications secure. The password that is used with one account should not be used with other accounts. All these steps mentioned will help to ensure all communications, personal and business related, stay secure and out of the hands of hackers and other malicious persons.

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