Los Angeles is a city that is constantly changing. Whether we are building new rail lines or new housing developments, we are always growing. This week some key changes are occurring and as you know, I always like to stay informed! Here are my picks for must-read articles of the week.
– Richard Maize
Technology for your home is growing to a state where it can care for your home even while you’re away. Led by some of the more name brand products in this industry like Nest, in-home technology is continuing to advance quickly.
Still, some products and apps aren’t so convenient for the homeowner. Others are saviors in the sense that they can make your everyday life much easier. From security to energy saving systems, there are tons of options to control normal housing functions. Here are my favorite apps that can help you build a smarter home.
SmartThings, an iOS app, is on a mission to turn your smartphone into a remote control for your home.
SmartThings connects sensors and devices to create a network right in your hand. The kit simply asks you to connect the sensors to your devices and instantly it’s compatible with any other home automation apps. It could be your refrigerator or even your garage door, all controlled from the SmartThings platform.
The experience is very user friendly. You can add any compatible device to your home’s system and pair it with the any app. Once your system is in place, SmartThings can even help you remotely address issues in the home. If you left your oven open, SmartThings will notify you and do the deed remotely. Most importantly, this app thinks for itself and creates a level of communication between devices. When there’s a door left open, your AC can adjust so pointless dollars aren’t spent. SmartThings thinks about your home when you forget to.
WeMo, a Belkin product, is a smart device that connects to your smartphone. WeMo specifically helps you control your devices when you’re away. You can turn your appliances on or off with the touch of a button or put them on a schedule and they’ll operate on their own. Put your lights or coffee on a schedule and take one more task off your hands.
The biggest luxury with WeMo is that you can automate everything or nothing, it’s up to your discretion. Try your hand at WeMo’s automation. A set including one switch and one motion sensor is on the shelves for only $80.
Nest is a smart thermostat and one of the first devices to help you save time and energy. The company was started by former Apple engineers but soon acquired by Google.
The thermostat sports an easy-to-use interface that control a myriad of features. Simply turn on the heat on your way home so that you’re comfortable when you arrive or setting your AC for a certain time each day is all possible through Nest. If you’re a busy person, home automation can be a burden at first but products like Nest allow you to control your home’s temperature, efficiently, with ease.
Each of these three devices offer a different service to control your home from afar. Which apps help make your life easier and calm your worries while you’re away?
As you look to build your investment portfolio, it’s imperative that you pay attention to the small things at all times because every penny counts. Investing fees should amount to no more than 1% of your overall portfolio value. Nowadays there are so many low cost investing options but the management of money can get lost in these cycles.
Though there are many “chefs in the kitchen” per say in the realm of real estate investing. Everyone wants to get their cut — brokerages, real estate funding businesses, advisors, planners and government regulations. But it’s important that investors have a close eye on the vulnerable areas of their portfolio so that unexpected fees don’t run amuck.
Assess how your investments are contributing to your wealth by paying attention to these three costs.
Workplace Retirement Plan Costs:
Employer-sponsored retirement plans (401(k)s, 403(b)s) have an array of perks, including tax-saving features, investing automation, and other additional amenities. Although, providing ongoing administrative support comes with a fee. And the fund companies within the plan want their cut, too.
On average, 401(k) fees range from 1% to 2% and, in most cases, those costs are passed along to you and other participants in the plan. A subtle 1% doesn’t seem too hefty but when taken off the top of your account, it could impact your finances much more drastically than anticipated.
One of the more surface fees when it comes to your investment portfolio are trading commissions.
I encourage you to check the cost of buying or selling when you invest in individual stocks or buy mutual funds through a brokerage.
Often, brokerages charge a flat fee to place an order to buy a mutual fund. But fees for things like options trading, broker-assisted trades, and other types of investments can be much more taxing. On top of that, there are other costs that will arise — account closing fees, transfer fees, and others.
And don’t forget about other costs you may have to cover — transfer fees, account closing fees, and extra costs if you want to have a human being make your trade.
Investors also pay what’s called a “spread” when they buy or sell stocks or mutual funds and this is a cost that tends to be overlooked. When you research the price of a fund or stock and you see it’s cost per share, that’s the “bid”. But the price you have to pay if you want to buy the share will always be a little higher, that’s the ask. The difference, the bid-ask spread, must be paid by every buyer — including the big mutual funds.
Paying attention to these typical fees as well as others can help you build an investment portfolio that will serve you well for years to come.
5 Marketing and eCommerce Trends To Watch For in 2016.
Whether you’re in the real estate business or an entrepreneur of a different kind chances are you are constantly searching for new ways to market yourself or your business. In real estate a big challenge is attracting new buyers- which I mentioned briefly in my last blog post. It’s not that millennials don’t WANT to buy it’s simply that they’re not sure HOW to buy. Attracting this younger generation can be tricky but definitely not impossible. The trick is to learn their language, understand how marketing has evolved in the digital world we are now living in, and arm yourself with the right tools.
So here are 5 marketing and ecommerce trends to look out for in the coming year and how you can implement them in your own business.
- Snapchat. Snapchat is incredibly underrated as a marketing tool. Sure, the photo or video may only last 16 seconds but that doesn’t make it’s impact any less great. It’s a quick, fun way to get someone’s attention. In real estate it could be a creative way to announce that you’re having an open house or show a sneak peek of a new listing. In retail it could be a cool way to announce that you’ll give 20% off to anyone who mentions the snap. The possibilities are endless and many companies haven’t taken advantage of this marketing opportunity just yet. So get ahead of the curve and be one of the first to leverage this platform!
- Get on board with the “buy” button. Sites like pinterest and facebook have recently implemented call to action buttons such as “buy” or “book appointment”, etc. This allows consumers to purchase items that they see on social media without having to do any research on where to find it or book an appointment with a real estate agent or doctor without ever having to pick up a phone. Not utilizing these tools would be a mistake in my opinion.
- Venmo. While this doesn’t really apply to the real estate world I figured I’d throw this in here for other industries and startups. Venmo is an app that allows users to quickly and easily share money. It would be great for street vendors such as food trucks, retail stores, even restaurants. The younger generation loves it for reasons such as not having to split tabs or Ubers- one person can pay for it and then everyone can Venmo that person their share of the bill without having to make an extra stop at an ATM or ever carry cash. It is the new, more effective PayPal.
- High Quality Content. The need for content is not slowing down, in fact people expect higher quality content these days. In real estate this means having high quality photos on your website, instagram, pinterest, etc, having 3D virtual tours that are clear or creative YouTube videos that showcase the homes you are trying to sell. Photo content is increasingly important in just about any industry as is video and written content.
- Targeted Gifting/Sponsored Posts. Influencer marketing has become a HUGE marketing tool. Brands who understand it and utilize it properly can become global phenomenons within a couple of months. Some examples are BirchBox and Triangl Swimwear. BirchBox partnered with multiple influential beauty bloggers and within a year they became the biggest subscription box company on the market. Triangl Swimwear sent just about every fashion and travel blogger a complimentary swimsuit and became one of the top swimwear lines almost overnight. By giving someone with 50k + followers (or even paying someone to promote your product) a complimentary product or meal you are reaching thousands, sometimes even millions of people that hadn’t heard of you before, and if you reach out to a couple influencers in the same area at the same time it is likely that everyone in town will now know your company’s name. The industries that benefit most from this would likely be fashion, beauty, hotels and restaurants.
The digital age is so exciting and it’s interesting to see how marketing has evolved within the last 5 years! For more advice on implementing marketing tools follow me on twitter @Richard_Maize
Hotels and Bed & Breakfast chains have reached stability since the recession in the commercial/residential property market years ago. Financially, the hotel sector has improved immensely for a few specific reasons since the sector’s relatively recent drop in profits and sales.
“People weren’t traveling then, but since the recession ended, these companies have grown sales and consequently had a bump in net profit margin, meaning the companies are making more from every dollar of revenue,” says Sageworks analyst Libby Bierman.
Although even though Hotels are considered commercial real estate, this model can generate profit through a few different lanes which is why the hotel sector is booming for business.
Hotels attract tourists, a rotating audience that is much more active since the recession. But one of the main reasons behind the growth of this market is the collaboration between hotels and casinos.
Many states are jumping onto the legalization of casinos in their region, a luxury that Las Vegas once had the monopoly on. Now casinos are allowed within hotels in 38 states, creating 31,200 additional jobs during 2012 which accumulated in $2.3 billion in salaries and wages.
With other attractions persuading travelers to book hotels for their stay, the food and beverage revenue is often overlooked. Food and Beverages account for about ⅓ of gaming revenue (inc. casinos), a substantial portion.
The rise in profitability from this sector is a big encouragement for commercial realty investors and with the right research, there’s a stable opportunity in the business out there for both eager and experienced real estate entrepreneurs.
When looking to invest into real estate then you’ve likely come across the impactful decision of planning to buy a multi-family residence or a single-family property. Weighing the perks and drawbacks of a multi-family building is an important part of the process. Either choice can result in a sound investment but there are a multitude of factors to consider – loans, cash flow, resident convenience to name a few.
Explore the pros and cons of a multi-family residence and see if there any points raised that you have yet to consider.
The cost of building maintenance is a major component of real estate investment and it tends to lean in the favor of multi-family properties in comparison to single family housing.
Often, buildings with multi-units are managed by one maintenance company that can account for numerous residents at a certain property. Single-family properties require contracts with multiple management groups that will attend to the various locations that you own.
With one management group, the contract documentation is also simplified. Investors see this as an opportunity to lessen overhead costs because residential upkeep can be a reoccuring issue and a task that building owners are expected to be active upon.
But as a multi-family property owner, consider that if amenities are offered then the management company must attend to those as well, not just the actual residence. If tenants have access to in-building gyms, backyards, common rooms, and other areas, then those spaces must be attended to as well.
Property investors can achieve more of a benefit from multi-family residences because of the Land-to-Building Ratio. Occupying multiple units on the same land typically makes for an increased cash flow.
Single-family property investors have more of a focus on land appreciation, so they’ll see a return on investment when the house reaches its selling date. But with multiple unit buildings, the payments come more periodically.
Also, at the investing stage, multi-family buildings usually allow for more units to be purchased at a lower price per unit.
With the luxury of multiple units within one building, vacancies aren’t as much of a pain point as they would be in a single-family situation. If a multi-family residence has one vacancy, there’s a few other paying tenants that will contribute to the cash flow despite the absence of one. In a single-family place, that wouldn’t be the case and filling the vacancy would be much more of an urgent focus for investors.
Multi-family residences have their perks from an investing perspective but there are a few challenges that may arise as well. There’s a bigger selection pool of potential buyers for single family homes as opposed to multiple unit buyers. These buyers also tend to have more of an appreciation for their property in focus just because of the approach and process they take before purchasing. Single family buyers put more of a weight on a property’s location and surrounding lifestyle so when they choose a location, they’re more so considering the longevity factor.
It’s important to understand both sides when coming into this tough real estate decision. Knowing the pros and cons of both routes can help you make an investment that best suits your situation.