Homes of the Future: Luxury Real Estate’s Technology Boom

These days it seems as though technology advances at the speed of light. Blink twice and the next breakthrough is available. It's not just about phones or computers-cutting edge technology is now available in every field to make life easier. Nowhere is this more evident than in the luxury real estate market. Innovations can be found in every room of the house. From state-of-the-art security systems to tech-laden bathtubs, the high-tech home is the new dream home.

The smart home is arguably the most influential development in home technology. The idea of controlling various systems (such as lighting and heating) remotely has been around a few years now, but more products are now available that integrate into the connected home network. Home security systems, door locks, and smoke and carbon monoxide detectors can keep you safe, while programmable thermostats, window shades, and beds keep you comfortable. There are also products to keep you entertained, such as TVs, sound systems, and lighting. Refrigerators, ovens, and crock-pots are all operable with a push of a button. Imagine riding home from work in your self-driven car, making sure your lights are on, the kitchen is a comfortable 73 degrees, and your dinner is ready the minute you step in the door.

Some homes are outfitted with technology down to the studs. With smart glass, your windows can darken themselves or turn into a movie screen. Other options include solar-thermal cladding to reduce heat loss, self-healing concrete so your driveway never gets a crack, and anti-bacterial tiles to keep your bathroom squeaky clean. Even building materials themselves are advancing with the digital age. Homeowners want it all when it comes to technology, and contractors and builders can provide it for them.

Smart homes are climbing to the top of “must have” lists around the country, and many sellers are ready to deliver. In fact, in a survey of more than 500 luxury real estate agents, 60% said they are seeing more smart home features in listing descriptions than two to five years ago, with agents also noting these features help sell homes faster. High end now means high tech-an oven ought not be just stainless steel; it must also let you adjust the temperature from across town with your tablet. There's no better, or more desirable way to deliver the comfort and extravagance of luxury real estate to buyers than with smart, up-to-the-minute technology.

The Importance of Master Planned Communities

Why Master Planned Communities?

According to predictions, there will be changes around the globe in the future that will challenge the way people live. These changes include:

  • Much higher gasoline prices
  • Greater emphasis on energy efficiency
  • Environmental protection and other green features
  • Growing water shortages
  • A 24-7 world that will demand amenities that are open 24-7

To be able to keep up with the global changes, innovations are needed, especially in the real state industry. Understanding the future requires understanding the demographics and how they influenced the market. Thus the birth of the Master Planned Community.

What Is A Master Planed Community?

A Master Planned Community (MPC) is a large scale self-sustaining residential plan. It has a number of various essential amenities not normally found in a regular housing subdivision. A Master Planned Community gives the ability to work, live and play all within walking distance. Some real estate professionals consider this type of luxury real estate development a “Mixed Use” development since they include retail, housing and entertainment In previous times, clubhouses and pools were at the top of home buyers' lists. Today, access to neighborhood retail services, hi quality restaurants and health care is becoming the top priority according to the latest research. People want to get access to everything they need quickly and at reasonable prices, thus walkable access to civic use areas is in high demand.

Convenience

Master Planned Communities are designed to provide a master planned convenience. In its varied housing within a community layout, homes are designed to conform to the lifestyle of diverse generations. They are created to provide both soft and hard amenities and services in the way people want them delivered. These luxury communities facilitate residents building and living comfortable lives and having more time to spend with their families. This lifestyle also enhances connectivity between neighbors and their surroundings through shared spaces created for everyone across varied demographics to use whether alone or together.

Important Aspects of Master Planned Communities

To highlight the benefits and most significant aspects of Master Planned Communities, listed below are some of the reasons why it is important to the home buyer.

1. Better Access to Important Resources

As mentioned above, people nowadays want to have easy and quick access from their own homes to their most important resources. In regular housing subdivisions, however, people bought all lands and built huge properties to maximize their lots, leaving no space for other amenities. In Master Planned Communities, lots and houses are planned accordingly by providing a required minimum and maximum size. That ensures that there are more open spaces for the building of other amenities. For example, park and play spaces are already built within the community and cannot be removed or replaced by any other infrastructures. In Master Planned Communities, virtually everything a resident needs is within the community or within short distances. This kind of setting is not just good for working parents, young professionals, aspiring entrepreneurs, and retiring baby boomers, it is also great for children going in and out of school most of all.

2. A Sense of Community Among Residents

The quality of neighbors defines a community. Not surprisingly, most people living in a luxury real estate development such as a Master Planned Community share a common interest which instantly creates a sense of togetherness among neighbors. As a result, residents feel safer, more serene, and more secure. Community events are organized within MPCs to provide residents with an avenue to socialize, get to know each other, and build strong connections. Additionally, the Master Planned Communities are founded on good governance with the rules and responsibilities of every community member that are declared beforehand. Many Luxury Master Planned Luxury Communities provide a variety of different community activities based upon the area within the PUD. For instance, in the luxury area, where homes start at $850,000 or so, you may find high end marinas, with wet slips and dry boat storage. Some luxury developments even have their own private beach in the luxury sectors. In the sections of the Planned Unit Development (PUD) where the homes are in the $300,000's you may find community activities that involve fishing and pool parties.

3. Incorporated Agriculture

Gardens owned by the community is becoming popular in some Master Planned Communities. MPCs work to assist its residents to have their own local food production through either providing community gardens or incorporating small-scale farms.

4. Best Practices for Handling Transportation Issues

The use of multiple trails for biking and walking as well as the presence of sidewalks are necessary features of Master Planned Communities. And, as a solution to the most frequent and current demands of the community on transportation, MPCs implement various, sometimes combined, options of transporting people such as an electric autonomous vehicle systems, bus transit stops, car-sharing services, charging stations for electric vehicles, providing golf carts for driving within the community, or implementing shuttle services.

Other Significant Aspects

Play spaces, fitness boot camps, sand entry beaches, and co-workspaces are a few additional amenities to present in Master Planned Communities. Health and wellness is also one thing that MPCs are giving special attention to as more and more people are wanting to become healthier. The great outdoors with fresh, local produce and fantastic health care are things they are incorporating into the community in addition to sidewalks, pedestrian ways, multi-use trails, and social gathering places. On top of it all, Master Planned Communities have long-term increase in value which leads to great Return On Investment for home owners if planning to sell or rent their property. Master Planned Communities are also great for entrepreneurs. Business opportunities tend to be in abundance as many new partnership opportunities with companies that offer products and services wanted by the new generation of consumers emerge. For aspiring business owners, office spaces tend to be nearby at reasonable prices. The workers of businesses within planned communities tend to earn higher than average incomes. Many residential buyers look for the best location, easy access, quality neighbors, important amenities, and valuable future developments in choosing a home. A Master Planned Community is the realization of what was once just a dream community for many.

Getting Pre-Approved for a Real Estate Loan

What does it Mean?

There is a difference between getting pre-qualified and pre-approved to buy one of the condos for sale downtown. The difference is a pre-qualification means you may be able to get the loan based on skimming of your income and other information. This is why you may get pre-qualified credit card loan offers from time to time. The information usually comes from a list.

When you are pre-approved for a real estate loan, it means you are able to get that money. You can use it to buy one of the condos for sale downtown that you are in love with. This process involves you actually applying for a loan, providing all of your documents, and completing everything the lenders needs to get you approved.

They will tell you the amount of money you can borrow and the interest rate. The offer is going to be good for a set period of time. Typically, it is going to be up to 90 days after you have been approved. Armed with this information, you can start looking around. Once you find the place you wish to make an offer on, they can help you to proceed.

Know what you can Afford

It doesn't make sense to look for condos for sale downtown that are outside of your price range. With the pre-approval process, you are able to shop within your market price. You can use filters online to find those at or below your approved amount. You can talk with a real estate agent and they can refer you to real estate on the market that fits that amount too.

If you can find one of the condos for sale downtown that you want to make an offer on that is less than you were approved for, that is exciting! Not only does it mean you can buy it, but it also means you can reduce your monthly payments below what you know you can pay. That means more money for savings or you can use it to pay off the mortgage early.

Make an Offer

You have bargaining power with the pre-qualification for a mortgage loan. When you make an offer on one of those condos for sale downtown, the seller is going to see you are already approved. It can be enticing to them to accept the amount you offer rather than to hold out for another offer to come along.

Since you are already approved, you aren't going to be on pins and needles after the offer, hoping you can get the money. It is very upsetting to some consumers who find the perfect place but then they can't get approved for the loan. The closing can be done in less time too if you already have your loan approval completed.

Sometimes, there are credit report issues that prevent someone from getting the loan. Finding out about them early on before you look at property can be helpful. It gives you time to evaluate the situation and to work to clear it up. Then you can move forward with buying a place and not have unexpected surprises crash your dream.

Should Long Term Real Estate Investors Focus On Cash Flow or Growth?

There are really two sides or two strategies to this debate. I lean one way for sure and will explain why but, I am also open about this and understand that other people have goals and strategies that differ from my own. In this article I want to briefly talk about both strategies and then give you some ideas to expand what you are trying to accomplish.

I want to define a long term investor as someone who is purchasing real estate with the strategy to hold onto it for at least 5 years but in most cases much longer. This is a great way to grow wealth and although it can be slow, it will guarantee financial freedom if the strategy is done correctly.

When we discuss lending the staple in the industry is the 30 year fixed rate loan. The advantage to this loan is that your principal and interest payment will remain constant for 30 years even though rents should increase. This loan also comes with the lowest payment in the market helping you to maximize cash flow. I put 30 year loans on my properties whenever possible. (This becomes more difficult as you get more properties which might be a topic for a different article). I like the cash flow because it gives me control and I can choose where to invest it.

The disadvantage to a 30 year loan is that it takes 30 years to pay off the house, assuming you make the minimum payment. If you are a believer in paying off your rentals then a shorter term loan might be a better strategy and will give you the discipline to actually do it. Because interest rates are important to a lot of investors it is important to know you will get a much better rate with a shorter term loan.

My personal belief is that if you are leveraged on your properties you can buy more properties and more properties create more cash flow and more growth. It is the best of both worlds. This is true only IF you are buying quality deals and have reserves and plans in place for the unexpected. As many of you know when I started investing with my wife we would leverage as much as we could and we purchased as many houses as we could. Needless to say that back fired and we lost almost everything. I share this because I want you to know that I understand that leverage creates additional risk. However, if you are purchasing properties that cash flow AFTER vacancies and maintenance there really is not much of a down side.

As you can see I am not a fan of paying off your real estate when you are in your growth strategy period. I believe this strongly for several reasons and have been quoted in major publications sharing my view. I do, however, think you should start paying them off as you get closer to retirement or when you are in a position that income becomes more important than growth. I also understand that many people have a different risk tolerance than me.

There is one thing I want to caution you about. I would not recommend purchasing property on speculation. Again, we learned this the hard way. If you purchase for cash flow, whether you choose to pay off the property or not, you won't get hurt. If you cash flow and the house decreases in value, you keep it and enjoy the cash flow. If it goes up in value… well, you either keep it to enjoy the cash flow or you can sell it and take the cash. Don't get caught up on any of the hype. In Denver the big thing right now is the light rail expanding North, West, and Northwest. Several new lines going in could of course increase the value of real estate, but that is speculation and if the market turns or the lines get delayed you could suffer.

In my opinion, if you are trying to grow your money quickly and are less concerned with the income, you should purchase as many properties as you can, especially those of you in Minnesota. Inventory is not as tight as other parts of the county and it is still easy to buy rentals with no down payment. To purchase as many properties as you can you need to leverage as much as you can.

I want to close by sharing one last opinion. Although I am a strong believer in leverage and being smart about it, I understand that it is not always the best way to go. In Colorado specifically, there are not many deals. Travis, Justin and I talk about this frequently. We all want more deals in Denver but cannot find them. If there are limited deals in the areas you want to buy, you need other investment vehicles to put your money. For some that is investing outside your area, which is what I am doing and for some it is paying off your loans, which I am also doing. If you want to buy more but cannot find the deals, by all means focus on paying off the loans. That is much better than leaving your money in the bank doing nothing.

If you have any stories on the relating topic please feel free to share.

Rookie Mistakes To Avoid When Investing In An Apartment Building

An apartment building can still be a good investment today. Why? For starters, there are still a lot of people who are still looking for homes to rent. In addition, the units of an apartment building do not just have to be spaces for residence or homes for families and individuals. By getting the right permits, units in an apartment building can be rented out as commercial spaces.

First-time buyers of apartment buildings will certainly have high expectations regarding this particular investment. This is mainly because they will invest a significant amount of money for this venture. As such, if you want to make sure you will own the right apartment building that can help you find success in the field of property rentals, make sure you avoid these common (and costly) rookie mistakes:

Not looking into the history and reputation of the apartment building's builder or developer.

As a first-time owner of an apartment building, the last thing you want to happen is to stumble upon some structural problems or system failures. As such, it is important to check the background, capability, and reputation of the company that constructed the whole property. Going online and asking companies or individuals that have worked with the property developer is a good way to get some ideas about their competency. If the property developer has a good reputation and has stellar reviews about the properties they built, chances are, it is quite safe to buy a building that they constructed.

Buying a property that is located in an unpopular area.

When purchasing an apartment building, keep in mind that aside from your budget, an important factor you have to consider is its location. Real estate experts say that it is a good idea to buy a property in an area that is improving since buying in a declining location will simply result in high vacancies and rent drops.

Not having sufficient cash flow and reserves.

As a newbie investor, if you are not confident with your reserved funds, you have to get into deals that will create a quick cash flow only. Avoid going into deals that won't provide a cash flow from day one even if that transaction promises a huge potential profit since you may be put at risk of being unable to pay the bills.

In addition, make sure you have enough cash reserves. Failure to do so can get you involved in different complicated situations. As a property owner, keep in mind that a lot of unexpected issues can happen. As such, you need to have a reserve fund that is adequate to pay for these emergencies.