Be Thankful on Thanksgiving

This seems like a pretty easy concept, doesn’t it? Everyone says to be thankful but not everyone actually lives up to their lip service. This should be something we do year round but the holidays give us a chance to make up for lost time. This goes to focusing on the positive and not always looking at the negative. Don’t ignore challenges in your life but see them as what they are, challenges, and not problems. They are something to overcome.

I am thankful for all of the innovation and positive change I see in Detroit. There are many like-minded individuals and businesses that refuse to take part in the doom and gloom mentality that seems to run rampant in the media and many people’s perception of Detroit. If things aren’t going great for you, don’t just blame it on the economy or run from your problems, face the challenges and innovate. Innovation is what will set apart businesses in a down market and will set you up for extra-ordinary profits when the economy turns around. There are a lot of businesses having blockbuster years this year!

I am thankful for my family, friends, and girlfriend Holli. Sure there are challenges in any relationships but this is the time of year to set those squabbles aside and find those bonds that have been strong. Make sure you surround yourself with people that will support you through good times and through bad times in your business and personal life. This is critical to being successful because you will have good times and you will certainly have bad times.

I am thankful for organizations like Motor City Blight Busters and John George who tirelessly and selflessly commit themselves to causes that are bigger than themselves. As Ghandi so eloquently put it, they are the change they want to see in the world. Organizations like this create and support the social, physical, and economic changes that are required for the turnaround and prosperity of Detroit. Being a part of these organizations or supporting them through volunteering helps make these changes occur.

Be thankful this thanksgiving and focus on the positives. It’s far too early to be a scrooge…

Be a Renegade,
Jared Pomranky

Has the Housing Market Bottom Passed?

I just saw a post from a Realtor quoting RealComp statistics in his post Four Positive Signs That the Real Estate Market is Recovering in Metro Detroit that the housing market has turned around in Metro-Detroit. Some of the points he quoted were:

All MLS October ‘09 sales at highest levels since 2004

Lowest on?market inventory levels in any month since January 2006 (42,785 in October 2009, 48,059 in January 2006)

NonForeclosure Sales Top Foreclosure Sales in Metro Detroit. For the month of October, the total nonforeclosure sales were 3,483 compared to 2,938 foreclosure sales….

…Months supply of inventory (MSI) has dropped by nearly 50% ? from 11.9 month supply last year to 6 month supply this year

I am an optimistic person and I know that the real estate market WILL turn around. This is great new, right? Well, any way you look at it, this is good news. Let’s just chose which points we look at to get that good news…

The first point above that you can look at for good news in the market are that October ’09 sales are the highest they’ve been since 2004, which means there are buyers coming to the market. The second is that there were 3,483 non-foreclosure sales in October. The points about foreclosure inventory levels being low and foreclosure sales being low is an artificial statistic.

If you read my post in August about The False Real Estate Market Bottom in Detroit, you’ll remember that we are looking at a false bottom or an artificially inflated market. This all has to do with the foreclosure moratorium by mortgage companies and the State of Michigan. What this did is create a huge backlog of foreclosures that will be dumped on the market in the next couple of months.

In the post I predicted that the the foreclosure flood would hit Metro-Detroit in November of 2009 to January of 2010. It no longer looks like November will be that time but I feel confident on a January-February 2010 flood of foreclosures hitting the market (barring any government intervention, which would be a bad idea). Banks are not good at foreclosing on and getting REOs listed, which you’ve most likely seen working in real estate, and these foreclosures are no exception.

Per RealtyTrac, Michigan is still #7 in the nation for Foreclosure filings. Looking at the Wayne County information, which is what I used in my original analysis, foreclosure filings for August, September, and October of 2009 are the highest they’ve been this year. This all points to more foreclosures on the market.
Wayne County Michigan Foreclosure Filing Informationn - Realty Trac

Inventories are down but foreclosure filings are up. That points to future inventory growth and towards other intervention (the government), which created artificially low inventories.

Where’s the Opportunity?
I’m a strong believer in finding the opportunity and not spreading doom and gloom like the national media. What you need to know is exactly what’s going to happen when a flood of foreclosures comes on the market. There’s going to be increased inventories, decreased prices, and lower buyer confidence in the market. This is only going to be temporary because sales are still strong and the inventory will get eaten up but all of them at once is going to cause these activities to occur.

While the market and most people are reactive, we need to be proactive and see this for what it is. A temporary phenomena. Taking action when these foreclosures come on the market in buying the foreclosures and fixing them up to rent out or flip is going to put you in a very good position. There will be plenty of inventory to choose from and by the time you get your property stable and rented for awhile, the rest of the market will catch up. By that time inventories could well be on their way back down.

We have a window of opportunity coming up that you will never see in metro-Detroit real estate again. What are you going to do when presented with this opportunity; take ACTION and invest or kick yourself later for not doing so?

Positive Ideas from Detroit

If you missed the inaugural meeting of TEDxDetroit, you missed something big. It was a meeting of minds from Michigan that talked about positive change, innovation in business, and good things going on in our state. Know what was missing from the meeting? Negativity, doom and gloom or any talk about something not happening. We need more positive ideas and people from Detroit and Michigan!

Our state and city have been through some challenging times and I know it’s not always easy to see past that. Dwelling on negativity, however, will just perpetuate a down economy and bad things. Focusing on positive change and what we can do to make a difference in our city and state will create the positive change that we need. I’m not talking about just saying that we’re in the best economy ever and that everyone can be millionaires just by saying that they are, I’m talking about actually focusing on positive change that you can create.

What about Dawn White, co-founder and President of Accio Energy (a Michigan based company that has multiple patents for wind energy) and her invention of wind energy without the blades (i.e. not a traditional wind turbine with loud moving blades)

TEDxDetroit wasn’t only about business and entrepreneur speakers; it was also about local performances. My absolute favorite was this poem (and I wasn’t a fan of spoken poetry) written and performed by D Blair “Detroit, While I was away” (found on Positive Detroit)

As Ghandi so eloquently put it, “Be the change you want to see in the world”. Michigan needs positive ideas and positive people, is that you?

Be a Renegade,
Jared Pomranky
Southeast Michigan Real Estate Club

Small Business Technology – Google Apps

Here you are on a real estate blog and you see a post about small business technology. If you’ve been investing in real estate for awhile, you’re anxious to see what I have to say. If you’re new, you might be wondering what I’m doing. When you’re starting out in real estate, and many experienced investors for that matter, you must treat your real estate investing like a business and not a hobby. To that point, I’ll dive right in.

Technology is critical for small businesses. You don’t want to go overboard with it and you don’t want to spend a lot of money. I’m going to show you a couple of products that are going to help in both of these areas. I might not get to everything in this blog so subscribe to our blog and check out the other suggestions coming soon.

Google Apps Standard Edition
I’ll admit that I’m a little late to the game on this but I was waiting for it to hit the critical mass. A year or more before and Google Apps was not something that would have worked for what we needed. What I’ve seen lately, especially with releases this year, is that Google has a focus on organizations and enterprise software. While you might not be a 2,000 employee shop, what it means is that Google is taking what they’ve learned from focusing on the individual to their enterprise software. That’s good for small and large businesses.

Google Apps Admin Panel
What you find signing up for Google Apps Standard Edition is that it’s free! You get to add up to 50 users to your organization through and administration panel. This is much more than we need but it’s nice to know we can still grow. The administration panel is a big differentiating factor from regular Gmail and Google Apps. As an administrator, I can actually manage the accounts and settings for each user.

Gmail
Alright, this isn’t your grandma’s Gmail. This is email hosting to replace Exchange hosting, which is exactly what my organization did. You get 7gb of storage for the Standard Edition and up to 25gb for the Premier Edition (cost of $50/user per year). 7gb of storage is much more than you’re going to find at any exchange hosting companies, especially for the price. I was a bit skeptical at first but I’m sold on everything now.

For a small business, the switch to Gmail should come with more options, not less. You can configure this to work with your domain so instead of CoolREICompany@gmail.com or “sent on behalf of jared@CoolREICompany.com” you can work just like you do in Exchange as jared@CoolREICompany.com.

Gmail is an amazing tool. They do provide tools for you to sync your calendar with Gmail so you can continue to use a desktop email product like Outlook or Thunderbird but after I got it all setup to sync, I ended up just using Gmail. Gmail is such a great interface with so many features (far too many to list here) that it’s all I use now. It’s easier to use and easier to manage a high email workload with their archiving feature, easy use of labels, and their grouping of emails in threads (this one is the space saver). If I have a single email sent out to multiple people that we then reply back and forth on it 10 times, it shows up as one email instead of 10 in my inbox. I can easily open it up to see everything else. This is a huge productivity builder!

Google Docs
This part of Google Apps replaces your Microsoft Word suite (Word and Excel) and puts it all online. You may wonder how these apps work online and I was definitely skeptical. Google delivers here with very stable apps that auto-save, which negates any Internet connection issues. This is definitely what you need for collaboration within or outside your company. Nothing else comes as close to making it easy to share and collaborate with others.

Some cool features include the ability to share any documents in a folder (new feature) with anyone or even make it public and the ability to make your spreadsheet easy to fill by your users. Do you make the spreadsheet easy to use by just sharing it? Well, I’m sure you know that spreadsheets aren’t always easy to fill by non-spreadsheet users. That’s why Google offers a very easy to create form that integrates with your spreadsheet automatically. You can literally have the form created with a website address for users to submit their answers to the spreadsheet easily in 10 minutes. This is great for an event sign-up or a questionnaire.

Google Calendar
This calendar does a great job of making it easy to use, some cool new features, and the look and feel of a calendar that everyone can instantly use. This is great for events as you can chose to have people share comments and see who else has accepted. In this one way they’ve done a better job than online invitation companies like eVite who have been doing just that for 10 years. Google calendar has all the options you need.

Google Contacts
Although this is still listed in Beta, it functions very well. You can upload your existing contacts, create groups, and this all integrates with your calendar, mail, and Google Talk.

Google Talk
When I was an IT/Business Consultant, I used chat all the time for quick questions/answers. Lately I tried using Skype but it was using up all the resources on my computer, which made it pretty unusable. I just recently installed Google Talk and I have to say, this is the best chat software I have used! It’s fast, uses almost no resources, and it’s intuitive. I can video chat, call people, send voice mails, and even send SMS messages. This all integrates with my Contacts so it already has all the information.

If it sounds like I’m a salesman for Google Apps, I’m not but I easily could be. What makes a great salesman is when they are selling something that they truly believe in and I truly believe in Google Apps as a solid product. They provide the most intuitive interfaces that I’ve ever worked with, the performance is great, and they provide everything I need for free. This is definitely a good base to build your real estate empire!

If you need any help, let me know.

Be a Renegade,
Jared Pomranky
Southeast Michigan Real Estate Club

The Age of Individual Responsibility is Here!

Change comes fast in the world we currently live in and the rate of change is increasing exponentially. There was a time not too long ago where the smart thing was to go to college and graduate and get a nice safe job at a large corporation and work there your whole life. Your employer would take care of all of your medical expenses as well as your retirement. All you had to do was work hard and remain loyal for 30-40 years and the rest was taken care off.

That time passed about 20 years ago and every year since it has become even more obvious. No some would argue that we are in the Information Age. If you possess the correct information and education, you are ahead of the game. I agree that the Information Age is among us but I disagree that information and education are all that you need to succeed in the brave new age.

Since 2007 millions of people have been laid off, have had their retirement accounts reduced by half, lost medical and dental benefits, and many lucky enough to keep their jobs have taken large pay cuts to stay employed. The cold hard facts having been staring us in the face for quite some time but recent economic challenges have made them even more apparent. Corporations are no longer loyal to their employees, profit comes first and foremost. Government will not take care of your retirement, your children’s education, or make sure you are treated fairly by your employer.

Worse yet, many corporations have swindled their employees retirements as they went down the tubes forcing many seniors to leave retirement and find employment wherever they can. The cold hard truth is that it isn’t even corporate Americas or the governments fault. We let them do this to us by putting ourselves in a position where we had little or no control.

I know for many this is a bitter pill to swallow but it doesn’t make it any less true. The bottom line is that for our dreams, retirements, medical and dental needs, children’s education, and ultimately our security; we must step up and take responsibility. It’s obvious that nobody else will so it is left up to us.

The age of Responsibility is upon us whether we like it or not. Yes we must educate ourselves but we must also take control of our future. Now is the time to take calculated risks. Now is the time to buy rental property, start a small business, become an independent contractor; anything and everything that swings control of our future back into our hands and away from those that do not care.

Even in this economy there are abundant opportunities, especially in real estate, to take control of your future.

Be a Renegade,
Jeremy Burgess