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November 29, 2006

Manners matter! Tips for e-mail etiquette

So much of our business is being conducted by e-mail these days. Are you getting the most out of this technology by using good e-mail etiquette? I can tell you from the contents of my inbox that many people aren’t, and I honestly don’t think most of them mean to be rude, they just don’t understand that their e-mails come across that way.

When you’re dealing with lenders, buyers, sellers, and other real estate professionals, you need to be sure your e-mails present you in the best possible light. For great advice on e-mail etiquette, visit www.netmannersblog.com.

Chief Blogger
Wealth Intelligence Academy

November 27, 2006

Speed Up Your Short Sales

Here’s a tip to make your short sale application go a little bit faster. When you ask a lender for a “short sale package,” what you get is (usually) a one-page list of requirements of what you have to put in the package you will submit to the lender with your short sale proposal.

When you receive that information, date it, make a copy of it, and put it in a file under the lender’s name. If you come across another deal with the same lender, you will have their information on file and can begin to gather what they will need as soon as you reach an agreement with the homeowner.

One caution: Always request a new package from the lender with every deal, because their requirements may change. But if you have their old information on file, it’s better than nothing and will give you a head start. Remember, when you’re doing short sales, time is of the essence, so everything you can do to speed things up will help.

Amy Smith
Trainer, Wealth Intelligence Academy
Foreclosure, Lease Option

November 22, 2006

Sharing for Thanksgiving

For the past several weeks, our employees have been collecting food for a Thanksgiving food drive. Today (Wed., Nov. 22) we delivered 2,660 pounds of food to Harry Chapin Food Bank (our local food bank)—enough to provide 2,128 meals for people who are less fortunate than we. The staff at the food bank told us this was the largest donation they have received from a private organization and we are thankful to be able to do it.

I speak on behalf of all of my Wealth Intelligence Academy colleagues in wishing you a happy and safe Thanksgiving. Have a wonderful holiday weekend!


November 21, 2006

Housing market crash: Reality or just another way to generate ratings?

The media just love to report on how bad things are. It seems that no matter how much good news there is, most news reports focus on the one bit of negative information.

Mike Moran, chief economist for Wall Street’s Daiwa Securities America, Inc., says the constant negative headlines and TV news warnings are “way out of line with reality” and “just pure sensationalism.” In other words, the sky is not falling on the real estate and mortgage sectors.

Read Moran’s other remarks in Kenneth R. Harney’s article for Realty Times, Economists Beginning to Challenge Media’s Negative Drumbeat on Housing.


November 20, 2006

Baldo comic strip reveals the importance of financial independence

I confess: I love the comics in the newspaper. Most of the time, I simply enjoy the humor, but occasionally a strip actually contains a serious message. The Baldo strip that was published Sunday, Nov. 19, was quite profound.

Baldo is a teenage boy who has a part-time job in an auto parts store. In this strip, he and a co-worker are leaving the store. In the first frame, Baldo says, “have you noticed? We come to work and two weeks later we get a paycheck.” In the second frame, he says, “But it seems we never get ahead. It’s work, work, work …” and in the third frame, he continues, “Then spend, spend, spend.” The fourth frame shows Baldo observing, “It’s like a vicious cycle that repeats over and over and over.” Then Baldo and his friend are shown walking down the street. Finally, the last frame repeats the first.

The message here is far more important than two teenage boys who spend the money they earn from the part-time jobs. This is the lifestyle of millions of people who go to work, get paid, spend all their money (and then some), and repeat the cycle every week. They never build any financial security or independence for themselves and their families, and they’re teaching their children the exact same lifestyle.

The good news is that the cycle can be broken. You can get off the work-spend-work-spend treadmill. Yes, it takes knowledge, commitment, and work, but if you’re going to be working anyway, why not be working for yourself and your future?

Chief Blogger
Wealth Intelligence Academy

November 16, 2006

White House Greetings: How to get the President to send a birthday or anniversary card

This doesn’t have anything to do with real estate, but I thought it was interesting, so I’m sharing it.

The White House will send birthday (to folks 80 and older) and anniversary (to couples married 50 years or more) greetings, as well as cards for weddings and new babies to anyone who requests them.

The procedure is simple. Go to www.whitehouse.gov/contact, scroll down to “Invitations and Greetings,” then click on the link to guidelines for greetings. For birthday and anniversary cards, the request needs to be made at least six weeks in advance. For weddings and new babies, the request must be made after the wedding or birth has taken place.


November 10, 2006

Eminent Domain Reform Popular with Voters

Though most people are talking about the Democratic win over Republicans in the recent elections, there’s another issue of interest to real estate investors: eminent domain reform. According to the Castle Coalition, voters overwhelming passed constitutional amendments and initiatives restricting the ability of governments to take private property and give it to private entities for development.

I’m attaching the news release from the Institute for Justice so you can see what happened across the country.


901 N. GLEBE ROAD SUITE 900 ARLINGTON, VA 22203 (703) 682-9320 FAX (703) 682-9321

November 8, 2006
2006 Election Wrap Up:
Voters Overwhelmingly Passed
Eminent Domain Reform

Arlington, Va. - Amid many close races in yesterday’s mid-term elections, there was one issue an overwhelming majority of voters agreed on: the need to limit government’s power of eminent domain following last year’s despised U.S. Supreme Court Kelo ruling.

Eminent domain ballot measures, restricting governments from taking private property and giving it private entities, passed by wide margins nationwide. In the eight states with ballot measures limiting eminent domain by addressing “public use,” all eight passed overwhelmingly. Yesterday’s election, combined with earlier reforms passed by the states, raises to 35 the number of states that have limited eminent domain abuse.

Voters Pass All Six Constitutional Amendments Referred by Legislatures

The strongest protection a state can offer property owners is to put it in the constitution, and legislators referred a number of amendments to their constituents.

• With more than 85% approval, South Carolina’s constitution now specifically prohibits municipalities from condemning private property for “the purpose or benefit of economic development, unless the condemnation is for public use.” Also, an individual property must now be a danger to public health and safety for it to be designated as “blighted,” closing a loophole that enabled local governments to use eminent domain for private use under the State’s previously broad blight definition.

• In Florida, which had been one of the worst abusers of eminent domain, government can no longer take property for so-called “blight” removal and the newly passed statutes prohibit localities from transferring land from one owner to another through the use of eminent domain for 10 years-effectively eliminating condemnations for private commercial development. After yesterday, with nearly 70% approval of the constitutional amendment, each house of the Legislature must now pass exemptions by a 3/5 vote.

• In Georgia, nearly 85% of the electorate voted in favor of a constitutional amendment requiring a vote by elected officials any time eminent domain will be used. Coupled with statutory reform, Georgia property owners are now protected from eminent domain abuse.

• More than 80% of Michigan voters approved a proposed constitutional amendment that prohibits “the taking of private property for transfer to a private entity for the purpose of economic development or enhancement of tax revenues” and requires government to prove its authority to take a piece of property for blight removal by clear and convincing evidence.

• New Hampshire’s legislature passed both statutory reform as well as a constitutional amendment, which was supported by more than 85% of New Hampshire voters.

• Louisiana was the first post-Kelo constitutional amendment to restrict eminent domain abuse, passing in September’s primary election. The amendment prohibits local governments from condemning private property merely to generate taxes or jobs and ensures that the State’s blight laws can only be used for the removal of a genuine threat to public health and safety on a specific piece of property.

Voters Passed Citizen Initiatives That Solely Limit Eminent Domain

• Nevada’s constitutional amendment, which was presented to voters through a citizen initiative and sharply limited eminent domain for private development, was affirmed by over 60% of voters and will reappear on the 2008 ballot for final approval.

• Oregon voters overwhelmingly passed, with over 65% approval, a citizen initiative that provides stronger property rights protections in Oregon’s statutes.

“Citizens around the nation agree that property rights must be protected in the wake of the Kelo decision,” said Chip Mellor, president and general counsel of the Institute for Justice, which represented the homeowners in Kelo before the U.S. Supreme Court. “The public is right to be outraged and fearful, with such a fundamental right left to the whim of government and the influence of wealthy developers. The state response has been historic, but Congress needs to act and offer federal protection as well.”

Mixed Results for Efforts Combining Eminent Domain and Regulatory Takings

• More than 65% of Arizona voters passed an initiative that restricted the definitions of “public use” and “blight” in spite of the controversial regulatory takings language included in the measure.

• Without a legislative session this year, North Dakota passed a constitutional amendment through a citizen initiative that prohibits private use of property taken though eminent domain and requires compensation for regulatory takings. The measure passed with over 65% approval.

• Measures that sought to limit regulatory takings and eminent domain in California and Idaho failed. Those initiatives did little to stop the type of eminent domain abuse exemplified in Kelo. (In Washington, a measure dealing exclusively with regulatory takings failed.)

“Where the public could vote on pure eminent domain reform, they marched to the polls and demanded to be heard,” said Senior Attorney Scott Bullock, who argued the Kelo case for the Institute. “An overwhelming majority of the public recognize how a narrow majority of the Supreme Court got it wrong.”

“Yesterday’s election results highlight the nation’s complete rejection of eminent domain for private development,” said Institute for Justice Senior Attorney Dana Berliner. “That is why it is so surprising that the U.S. Senate leadership has completely failed to address the issue. I hope the Senators, especially Senator Frist, will use the few remaining days of this Congress to finish the work the House started last year and pass reform that will protect the entire nation.”

Mellor said, “The popular backlash against Kelo remained strong. The momentum for eminent domain reform continues - fueled by the outrage of property owners and a nation’s concern over this onslaught on fundamental rights. Yesterday’s eminent domain ballot measure successes are property rights victories. Other states need to continue the push and do exactly what the U.S. Supreme Court refused to do: protect homeowners from this abuse of government power.”

# # #

Christina Walsh
Assistant Castle Coalition Coordinator
Institute for Justice
901 N. Glebe Road, Suite 900
Arlington, VA 22203
(703) 682-9320

November 05, 2006

Know the foreclosure investing laws in your state

There is currently a growing group of states which have enacted legislation that could impact how you participate in foreclosure and/or preforeclosure activities in those states.

Generally speaking, such legislation may regulate both consulting activities and activities where you in fact purchase the property and/or re-convey it back to the owner. The laws tend to impose detailed contractual requirements and disclaimers along with a right of cancellation for a mandated time period. It is not uncommon for these laws to curtail certain conduct and limit the compensation/profit you may receive in connection with foreclosure and/or preforeclosure activities. Finally, many of these laws could be interpreted to prohibit you from taking an interest in a property under certain circumstances, and as such, could hinder techniques we teach to protect the investor.

Violations of these laws typically result in both civil and criminal penalties, including multiple damages, fines and terms of imprisonment. As of September 6, 2006, we are aware of nine states which have enacted legislation affecting foreclosure and/or preforeclosure investing: California, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, New York, Missouri, Minnesota, and Rhode Island.

If you are aware of other pending or passed legislation, please let us know. And if you plan to invest in foreclosures, be sure you learn the correct strategies as well as know and comply with the laws of your state.


November 03, 2006

Online reviews of homes for sale

Recently I saw an article about real estate websites that allow people to make comments about properties online. The idea is that you can review and rate just about everything else online, so why not houses? But there are some serious potential problems, such as the possibility of fraudulent negative reviews from competing sellers.

Click here to read the article from Wall Street Journal Online. If you are selling property online, keep an eye on what’s being said about it.