Kirin Blog

Welcome to Kirin Blog: Your destination to get the inside scoop of the Greater Washington DC Metro real estate market. Whether you are a buyer, seller or investor, you will find the most up-to-date information on our blog. Feel free to ask questions or leave comments.

Keys to selling fast and at top dollars in today’s market

September 13, 2017

Keys to selling fast and at top dollars in today’s market

The best outcome for any home seller is to get the highest price possible on their property hassle-free. To make that possible, seller has to wear the buyer’s cap and think from buyer’s perspective. Normal resale (not distressed homes) typically target regular buyers who want to either live in the house or rent it out as an investment. What attracts this kind of buyers most is a well-cared for home that has a great curb appeal in the exterior and clean, uncluttered look in the interior.

It is not difficult to create that attractive appeal but it does take effort and sometimes a small financial investment. De-cluttering the space is a must, followed by a fresh new coat of paint and new carpet (both in neutral color) if they look worn. If the bathrooms and kitchen look outdated, consider remodeling them. Next, place the furniture strategically to create a spacious, homey feel. Put in some nice matching pillows on sofas and beds. Clear up any counter space in kitchen and bathrooms and place clean, neutral towels on racks. Add vases of flowers on side tables and dining tables if applicable. Replace any broken windows, screens and blinds.

As for the exterior, remove weeds and trim back shrubs. Plant new flower beds and apply mulch to add a fresh look.

If you follow the tips above and price the house reasonably, there is no reason for the property to sit on the market.

Maintaining Your Home to Protect Its Value

January 15, 2013

Buying a home is just the beginning. Keeping it up with proper maintenance will uphold its value and minimize frivolous repairs.

Here are few basic maintenance tips:
– Change the air filter every 2-3 months. Have an HVAC technician check the air conditioner in the spring and heater in the fall to ensure the system operates properly. The maintenance contract typically costs $150-300 a year, depending on specific service provider;
– Power wash and seal the deck and fence, especially if the construction materical is wood;
– Repair and paint over any exterior wood rots around the house. Consider wrapping the window trims with PVC (non-wood material) to avoid wood rots in the future;
– Check and repair any water leak from the ceiling, faucets, below sinks, or at the basement;
– Clean the gutter every year, especially if the house is surrounded by trees or located in a wooded area;
– Paint the interior walls every five years or so to give the house a fresh look.

A well maintained home will not only increase housing value but also bring positive energy to your life.

Building a Real Estate Investment Porfolio for Retirement

January 2, 2013

What is your new year resolution for 2013? Is building a real estate portfolio one of your financial objectives?

Buying real estate is particularly attractive to many investors these days. With higher capital gain expected, especially for stock investments, many investors turn to real estate for long term wealth accumulation. Real estate builds wealth through rental income and price appreciation. Investors can even delay capital gain tax using 1031 Exchange for like-kind assets. All expenses including mortgage interest, homeowner association fees, insurance, property tax, ongoing repair and maintenance costs are all deductible from rental income. With historical low interest rate and attractive housing prices, most properties recently acquired would be able to generate decent cash flow. Keep in mind that if properties are located in growing areas, rental income will increase steadily overtime, thus expanding your cash flow.

Investing in real estate is not just for the rich. If you are making $50,000 or more, have a steady job and a reasonable credit history, you should start thinking about buying your first property. Start with a home for yourself to live instead of renting. There are loan programs available for first time homebuyers with downpayment as low as 3.5% of the property value. You may qualify for VA loan with zero downpayment if you are a veteran. Then save up in the next 2+ years (hopefully sooner) for downpayment for your investment property. Lenders require 20% or more down payment for investment loans.

The Kirin Real Estate team can help you chart out a customized plan to turn your American Dream to a reality. Many of our investor buyers have been able to build their investment portfolio from zero to 2, 3 or even 4 properties in the last three years. This is not a get-rich-fast scheme. Instead the process is very systematic. It is very important to ensure that the properties are financially sustainable with good rentability and fixed mortgage payments. These investors do not flip properties which require much higher risk. Instead, the investors hold their properties for a long haul. Some keep the properties to build college fund, while others keep them to generate cash for retirement.

Feel free to contact us at info@kirinrealty.com for a private, no-risk, no-cost, consultation.

Cash Building versus Equity Accumulation Strategies

November 28, 2012

There are two major types of real estate investment strategies: cash-building versus equity accumulation. For investors who’d like to make quick return within a short time frame such as 3- to 6-months, cash building strategy is the way to go. There are several ways to accomplish this strategy. One way is to identify a property for sale, secure the contract and then assign it to another buyer by making a smaller margin. For investors who are interested to make a higher return, they shall buy a fixed-upper type of property at a deep discount, have the property remodeled and then sell it at the open market. Obviously there is risk involved. Investors opting this route will have to make sure they have enough capital to acquire the property and inject more fund for renovation. They must have some cash reserve to cover carrying costs while the property is being remodeled and listed on the market before transferring title to the new buyer.

For equity accumulation, investors would hold the investment property for long term; the longer the property is held, the higher the return tends to be. We have recently sold a house for a client who had bought the house back in 1945 for $5,000. The sold price of this property in this past summer was $460,000. Had the seller sold the property 10 years ago, she would have made $100,000 less. Equity accumulation strategy focuses on two main factors — ongoing cash flow and future appreciation. Investors would typically rent out the property and systematically pay down the mortgage principal to build up the equity. If the property is located in a desirable neighborhood, its market value will appreciate overtime, thus increasing the owner’s equity as well.

To learn more about these two very different investment strategies, please attend our seminar on this specific topic. You may contact us to get on our email distribution list.

Moving a Less-than-Perfect Property

November 27, 2012

Every now and then we come across some tough listings — a house with a backyard backed to I-66, a house with an abandoned property next door, or the one with small room size and limited windows. Eventually every listing gets sold.

There are some thiings that we just cannot change about a house, but we can always change the price and the condition for sale. There is a price point that’s low enough to make the property attractive to buyers. However, not many sellers want to short change themselves. There are some investments that are worthwhile. For instance, having a house staged. By decluttering the house, re-arranging furniture and adding accent to the walls, tables and night stands, you will give a refreshing look to the house. Painting the house to a more neutral color and installing new carpets can easily yield good results. Try to get rid of any strange smells if any. Keep the lights on if possible to have the rooms look bright and inviting. Emphasize the interior in a house with a bad location. Using plants to obscure undesirable views. A location that may be a deal breaker to one person could be less important to someone else. If someone likes the home enough and the price and condition are right, they are willing to overlook a negative feature.

Whether a home is in poor condition and in a bad location, using creativity, being courteous and using common sense can turn a difficult listing into w successful sale.

Should I Outsource Landlording Responsibilities?

November 27, 2012

Acquiring an investment property is one thing and managing it requires a totally different skill set. Ask yourself the following questions before deciding whether or not to manage the property yourself:
1. Where is your rental property located? How much time does it take to drive out there averaging 1-2 times a month?
2. How busy is your schedule? Do you have time to take care of tenant’s requests?
3. Are you a handy person? Do you have the skill and interest to fix household related problems?
4. Do you handle stress well? Does it bother you if tenant calls you late at night for urgent matters?
5. Do you have a good supportive network — contractors, plumbers, HVAC technicians, roofers, electricians, attorneys, etc whom you can call upon should the need arise?
6. Are you familiar with the Landlord-Tenant Act that outlines the landlord and tenant rights and responsibilities?

All of the above are considerations when decising if you could manage the rental properties yourself. Having a property management firm to take care of your property is often worthwhile if you don’t have the expertise to handle tenant issues. It will save you money long term because the value of the property will be maintained and any repair or legal expenses could be kept to a minimum.

We offer a Landlording 101 seminar 1-2 times a year. Please contact us if you are interested to be on the seminar distribution list.

Finding a Dream Tenant

November 27, 2012

No one likes landlording headache so getting the right type of tenant is key. A dream tenant is one who pays rent on time, takes care of your property, has a multi-year lease term and leaves the house in a move-in condition when the lease ends. He or she makes no unreasonable demands and abides by the rules of the homeowner association throughout the lease term. Does a dream tenant really exist? YES, in fact majority of the tenants that we manage belong to this category. The secret lies in our rigorous screening process. In addition to running a credit check, we also verify the applicant’s employment and rental history. It is extremely important to be assured of the applicant’s ability to pay rent and there is no history of delingency rental payments.

Keep in mind that there are many good tenants out there despite low credit score due to recent short sales or foreclosures. If the applicant does not have a pattern of late payments long before or after the short sale or foreclosure occurs, he deserves a second chance. One of the tenants we manage had filed bankruptcy three years prior to the lease. Because of his determination to rebuild his financial credit, he has been paying rent early and has done a wonderful job keeping the property in top shape. He has now lived in the property for over five years. Because of his steller rental record, he is considered a dream tenant.

In summary, dream tenants do exist. Have a screening process in place and stick to it.

What to Expect in Home Inspections

November 27, 2012

You will have to go through several inspections of your new home before closing. First is appraisal, so the bank can decide how much the home is worth. Then a termite inspection, done by a specialist. You should also have a general inspector come. That way you can establish what will be the seller’s responsibility and what will be your responsibility as a buyer. Once you receive the inspection, if you do not approve, you can cancel the purchase without penalty. Finally, you’ll have a final walk-through inspection. Revisit the property to make sure all changes were made and the house is in the condition you requested.

Closing Tips for Buyers

November 27, 2012

Make sure your closing date is included in your offer. Most of the time, closing dates are kept and you can move in or out according to schedule. However, if you’re moving in, make sure to give yourself a few days leeway. You wouldn’t want to wind up in limbo for a few days, without a home to stay in or a home to go to.

Helpful Tips for Home Sellers

November 27, 2012

Keep detailed records of all moving expenses if your move is job related. Many expenses, including house-hunting trips, are tax deductible. If you move 35 miles or more from your home, you can deduct your family’s travel expenses, such as meals and lodging; moving costs of your furniture and household goods; food and hotel bills for up to 30 days if you have to wait to move into your new home; and the costs related to selling your home. There is a ceiling on deduction. Please see IRS’ Publication 521 for detail.