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Home Staging Tips Every Homeowner Should Know

Staging your home before mandating an estate agent is essential in getting your home selling faster for more.  Staging your home is the act of finding ways to show off your home’s finest qualities and downplaying the less perfect ones.

You need to dress up your home in its Sunday best!  The following staging tips are worth considering if you are thinking of a stress-free home selling experience.

Here are some Home Staging Tips Every Homeowner Should Know

You need to create the illusion of space by rearranging your furniture.  Try with various combinations and event consider removing and storing pieces that make your home feel crowded.

Arrange all the furniture in the living areas into different intimate groupings. These groupings will be ideal entertaining and conversational settings.

You must even consider renting additional furniture, especially when the furniture pieces that you have don’t match, and badly worn, or are in any state of disrepair.

You can add decorative pillows and slipcovers in warm neutral tones to hide flaws and make furniture pieces blend.

You must eliminate clutter.  Store or get rid of appliances, gadgets, newspapers, mail or anything that takes up space or distracts attention.

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             Eliminate and remove Clutter

De-personalize your home so buyers can imagine living in it.  Put away pictures, awards, trophies, collectables, and other personal keepsakes.

Paint walls in inviting neutral colours to cover flaws and freshen rooms.

Add small luxurious touches to bathrooms and bedrooms.  Think plush towels, fresh flowers, high-end bed linens, and pretty bath soaps.

Eliminate unpleasant odours and smells that can kill a sale.  Fragrant candles, plug-ins, and home sprays can help, but nothing smells better than clean. Professional cleaners will make sure to deodorise your home as well. Make sure the origin of the smell is taken care of!

Plants are great for creating an aura of softness and warmth to any room.  Large or small plants are a favourite of professional stagers.

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Are you at risk of losing your Home

The fear of losing your house may alter your behaviour… and these are the reasons why!

The 5 stages of grief and loss are:

  1. Denial and isolation
  2. Anger
  3. Bargaining
  4. Depression
  5. Acceptance

The stages of grief are universal and are experienced by most people across most cultures. Grieving happens in response to a person’s own terminal illness, the loss of a close relationship (divorce, job loss or loss of wealth), or to the death of a valued being, human or animal.  According to Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, there are five stages of grief that were described in her book “On Death and Dying.”

In this article, we will talk about “loss” and particularly “financial loss”

In our grief, we spend different lengths of time working through each step and express each stage with different levels of intensity.  Sometimes sufferers often move between stages before achieving a more peaceful acceptance of the circumstance.  But, as in financial distress, most of us are not afforded the luxury of time required to achieve this final stage of grief.  You are being pushed by the banks to perform and you just don’t know how…

The key to understanding the stages is not to feel like you must go through every one of them, in precise order. Instead, it’s more helpful to look at them as guides in the grieving process — it helps to get a Debt Counselor  involved in the process as soon as possible to help minimize the long-term effects of financial distress.

Keep in mind — all people grieve differently. Some people will wear their emotions on their sleeve and be outwardly emotional. Others will experience their grief more internally and may not cry.

Denial & Isolation

You may experience financial troubles in the following way: The first reaction is to deny the reality of the situation. “This isn’t happening, this can’t be happening, I will get a new job tomorrow, my wife (or husband) will soon realise that she/he still loves me, I will get better soon so I can start working again ”are some of the responses that we hear. It is normal to think in this way. It is a protection device that cushions the direct blow of the loss.  We try to hide from the facts by softening the words we use to describe our pain.  This is a brief reaction that helps us get through the first stage of pain.

Anger

As the effects of denial and isolation begin to wear, reality and its pain re-emerge. We are not ready.  The anger may be aimed at inanimate objects (broken dishes, smashed doors), complete strangers (yelling at them or treating them with disregard), friends or family (physically attacking or verbally attacking them). Rationally, we know the people we are attacking are not to be blamed. Emotionally, however, we may resent that person for causing us pain or for leaving us. We feel guilty for being angry, and this makes us angrier.

Remember, grieving is a personal process that has no time limit, nor one “right” way to do it.  This is not something that we want to do but it is something that we must do in order to have a good life again.

Do not hesitate to ask a Debt Counselor or Financial Advisor to assist with getting you extra time, or to explain just once more time the details of your problem and hopefully a solution. Arrange a special appointment or ask that they call you at the end of her day. Ask for clear answers to your questions regarding the solution to your problem and the way forward. Understand the options available to you. Take your time.

Bargaining

The normal reaction to feelings of helplessness and vulnerability is often a need to regain control:

If only we had sought Distressed Property Advice sooner…

If only we knew that there was a solution to our problem…

If only we had tried to save money when we had money…

Secretly, we may make a deal with God or our Higher Power to postpone the inevitable. This is a more delicate line of defence to protect us from the excruciating reality.

Depression

It is a reaction to the practical implications relating to the loss.  Before we get to the stage of depression, we feel an overwhelming sadness and regret.  We worry about lots of things but, we worry about what will become of us and our family once the bank has repossessed the property. We may need a bit of helpful cooperation and a few kind words.

Sometimes all we really need is a hug and some reassurance that everything will work out fine.

Acceptance

Not everyone will reach this stage.  We may never be able to see beyond our anger or denial. It is not necessarily a mark of bravery to resist the inevitable and to deny ourselves the opportunity to make our peace. This phase is marked by withdrawal and calm. This is not a period of happiness but must be distinguished from depression.

Coping with loss is ultimately a deeply personal and singular experience — A Certified Distressed Property Adviser can help you go through it more easily and will understand all the emotions that you’re going through.  They can be there for you and help comfort you through this process. The best thing you can do is to allow yourself to feel the grief as it comes over you. Resisting it only will prolong the natural process of healing.

A Debt Counselor will be able to help you find a solution to your problem that will fit your circumstances.  There is no need to go through this alone.  Together with the four major banks, which are on your side, we will find a workable solution that will, in the long run, keep you from certain financial ruin.  The banks understand that you will be able to stand up and be strong again one day and they are prepared to help you.  You only need to realise that there is help there and to ask for help before it is too late!  Once your property is repossessed, they cannot help you anymore.

When should you ask for help?

Although the” Denial Stage” is there to help you soften the blow of the pain, it will be more helpful for you to ask for information at this stage.  The sooner you ask for help the better your chances of recovery will be.  It will also help you soften the pain of your loss because you will see that there is a way out!

If you know of any homeowner in dire straits who are battling to make ends meet, please forward the link to this page immediately so that they can realise that it is not necessary to go through this painful experience alone.

The banks don’t want to take your house, they want to help you keep it or in certain cases help you sell it quickly to keep you creditworthy.  Once your credit worthiness is taken away from you, you will find it very difficult to have a normal life again.  It is something that will take you decades to recover from and we must find a way minimise the blow!

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Comparison of Global Property Value for Money

Most of us that live in South Africa that are earning Rands are not aware that property in South Africa offers great value for money when comparing on a global scale.

There is, according to various reports, an increase in the number of expats who have decided to return to live in South Africa. It appears that the grass isn’t necessarily greener on the other side and those who are returning have cited several reasons behind their decision. However, it seems that family ties, the weather and the simple fact that this is ‘home’ are the main reasons that so many expats are returning.

Quite frankly those who are returning now couldn’t have picked a better time. The rand is continually on a downward curve and anyone bringing pounds or dollars into the country stands to score. This obviously means that those investing in property will get far more than they originally bargained, given the rapid onset of the decline in our currency.

The average selling price for property in London is around the £5r0 000 mark. In Rand this translates to around R10-million. Property and the cost of general living do become a little more affordable if you buy a property outside of the UK’s capital. More recent stats indicate that the average price paid for a home in the rest of the UK is £274 000 (roughly R5.8-million).

Spending £500 000 may not seem that big a deal to those in the money, however, it’s worth remembering that this figure is the amount buyers could expect to pay for a studio apartment or a two bedroom maisonette that in this instance features a lounge measuring 4.11m by 5.11m and a master bedroom measuring 2.64m by 2.49m.

It also does not appear to be any easier for buyers hoping to invest in a property in New York. In January this year it was estimated that the average price of an apartment in Manhattan was around $916 000 (around R12.5-million).

The picture also doesn’t look much better in Sydney in Australia or Auckland in New Zealand where the average price of property is approximately AU$760 000 (R7.3-million) and NZ$670 000 (approximately R5.8-million) respectively. A quick Internet search reveals that a one-bedroom apartment measuring a paltry 61m2 in Sydney is currently on the market for AU$745 000.

So, what will R10-million buy you in this country? In Cape Town there’s a three-bedroom property in Camps Bay with unobstructed views of both the mountains and sea that is currently on the market for R9.995-million.

For those looking at property in Umhlanga, Durban there’s a magnificent 470m2 four-bedroom property selling for R9.980-million and for those looking to settle in Gauteng there’s a property measuring 600m2 which features five bedrooms and four bathrooms selling for R9.850-million in Bryanston.

Although those of us living here and earning Rands may not believe it, South African property really does offer excellent value for money. For starters our homes tend to be bigger than the average home in any of the world’s cosmopolitan cities.

The South African properties are also situated on bigger stands and high-end homes generally feature sophisticated security systems and amenities such as swimming pools. South Africa also has great weather. Don’t get us wrong, we love the vibe of London, New York and Paris, but living through a winter in any of those locations can be a bit of a drag and while very few would leave a country because the weather is bad, it’s surprising how depressing this seemingly inconsequential factor can be and how good it feels to come back to a country where the sun shines for most of the year.

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What You Should Know Before Becoming A Landlord

If you’ve been in the property game for a few years and are looking for something more exciting to get yourself involved in, then you should possibly consider becoming a fully-fledged landlord. It is one of those professions that looks profitable on the face of it but requires a lot of work and dedication to truly succeed. You need to have a patience of a saint and be able to handle a continuous stream of issues that are likely to crop up. Many don’t have the heart to take on the role for more than a handful of years.

Before jumping in head first there is a multitude of things you will need to be clued up on to ensure you aren’t doomed to immediate failure. Here we take a closer look at a few of these things to give you a good head start, and to open your eyes to the reality of being a landlord in all it’s complicated glory.

There Is No Shortage of Bad Guys

Not everyone can imagine property to be a ruthless battle, but the truth is that you will always come across a multitude of tricky customers from the people who give you your property to the people who wish to live inside of it. Letting agents tend to be the first target when it comes to disagreements and many companies aren’t afraid to charge you the world and get away with it. Finding a reputable and reliable agency will take time, as well as some trial and error. Similar things can be said in the direction of builders, plumbers, decorators and so on.

You tenants will also end up being a mixed bunch over the years, and don’t be surprised if it doesn’t take you long to lock heads with one or two of them. Tenants can be a pain on many different levels including having poor hygiene, annoying the neighbours and generally breaking the terms of their tenancy in some way. As much as you will want to profit from the situation you have to be mindful of what’s best, so if they’re being unbearable don’t be afraid to cut yourself loose from them and give them notice (seek legal advice before making any decisions!)

You Won’t Get Rich Any Time Soon

Despite appearing to give you a great return in an instant, this is, in fact a very rare instance. For the most part it’s going to be something you’re involved in for the long haul before you start seeing a profit. Simply getting the money back that you invested into your little scheme could be a huge job. The market can have a dramatic effect on the money you make from it, and not always for the greater good. Not only this, but things like rent and potential utility and tax charges can really take the wind out of your bank account’s sails.

You Can Never Do Enough Research

Knowing your field of work has always been of utmost importance no matter when your chosen career is. Certainly, in the property and real estate sector research is the maker or breaker of all endeavours. Common things you’ll need to know that could sting you down the line involve legal issues such as the rental agreement, the mortgage and so forth. You’ll also need to know who you need to approach in urgent matters so do your best to collect a bulletproof list of contacts. You certainly shouldn’t spend a single penny until you know the process like the back of your hand.

You Can’t Just Set Up and Relax

The impression a lot of people get from landlords is that you can simply put everything in place and the rest will sort itself, leaving you sat at home making money while doing nothing. It’s a much more active role than people tend to expect, especially if you want to make a name for yourself. At the very least you will have to keep a close eye on your tenants and the properties they reside in. You’ll have to deal with things like late rent, general maintenance and any grievances that the tenants themselves have. The more properties you have, the more leg work will have to be done.

It’s an Endless Labour Of Love

This is something that is going to take up a lot of your time and funds, so you better get used to it! Many up and coming landlords fall short simply because they haven’t accounted for all the little things that crop up, ending up losing out big time, and being thrown back a peg or two. It’s a hard job to get yourself out of too as only having one property and a couple of tenants could still be a huge debacle and take a while to get everyone on level ground. If you’re serious about being a landlord, you can expect to invest more of your time and money into it than you could ever possibly fathom.

The Law Will Catch You Out

You’d be surprised just how many complex and arguable laws, guidelines and regulations there are in the property sector, and many seasoned landlords have had to suffer their wrath at some point or another. A common trap landlord fall for is that they believe they’re fully protected against troublesome tenants. Wrong. There is only so much help you can get as you’re the one that chose them over the others. It’s a gamble all landlords take, and it’s an art to weed out the idiots over the happy chaps. You can’t even enter the property without consent, despite owning the roof and walls.

You Can’t Stop the Inevitable

Things will go wrong. They just do, and you can’t always control the outcome. Having so many different variants to your roll it’s almost impossible to go a single month without an issue rearing its head. If you haven’t done thorough enough research chances are, you’ll come across problems that you yourself should have fixed including unsigned documents, failing to meet safety regulations etc. You also must realise that things don’t need a reason to go wrong. For instance, if the boiler suddenly decides to conk out it’s neither your fault nor the tenants, but you’re still going to have to deal with it swiftly.

All Signs Point to You

You name is going to be the one that everyone approaches in all landlord related matters, so you can’t afford to be shy or lazy. You’ll have to be on the ball so that you can deal with any and all issues as soon as they crop up. Not only are the tenants relying on you, but your letting agent will also need your input, as well as your mortgage providers and the tax man. Some difficulties can come thick and fast and you must be able to cope under all that pressure. You also need to ensure everything is ‘above board’ as any legal disputes will always fall in your court.

Should You Give It A Go?

Absolutely. If you’re prepared for it. There are many pros and cons to be a landlord and no one reason has less importance than the other. Yes you’re going to sink in a heck of a lot of money, and yes you are going to rip your hair out while dealing with paperwork as well as finding tenants that won’t make your life a misery but as long as you’ve got a good mortgage rate, a reliable letting agent and nice tenants there’s no reason to run a mile. For those who have been in the game for a while it can be a very profitable experience, and to some degree many issues are nipped in the bud before they even start to grow. In time anyone could learn to do the same.

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Dealing with Non-Paying Landlords

The one thing that every single Body Corporate fear is bankruptcy. If owners stop paying their monthly levies, then management has no money to pay for maintenance services, which means the entire building falls into decay, resulting that no bank nor independent investor will ever consider buying into the sectional tittle scheme.

Dealing with non-paying owners is a very important role of the BC’s (Body Corporate) management team. If outstanding levies go unclaimed, the entire estate and all the members (owners) will feel the financial depreciation of their property. Luckily, dealing with non-paying landlords is quite simple.

The body corporate can approach the magistrates’ court (or the high court) for a garnishee order that would allow it to seize the owner’s rental income.

What is an Emolument Attachment Order?

Commonly known as a Garnishee Order, this legal mechanism is used to recovery outstanding debt. The consumer’s (in this case; the owner’s rental) income is garnished by means of a Court Order for a specific monthly amount. This Order is normally imposed on the consumer’s employer, but in terms of a landlord’s outstanding levies, it can be imposed on the relevant tenant.

If the body corporate obtains a judgement against the sectional title owner and an order attaching his or her rental income, then it may collect rentals from the tenant. The body corporate is then obliged to provide proof to the tenant that it has obtained the right to do so.

Dealing with debt recovery is a sensitive business, one that quite a few management teams struggle with. The process required to recover outstanding levies and rates can easily turn into an ugly legal battle, damaging the relationship between the owner and the Body Corporate.

Debt can have a negative effect on you or your staff, debt collection is very degrading and demotivating, lowering productivity and/or good will.  Body Corporates should consider using specialised debt collection agencies. If each overdue account holder is contacted in an essence of help, not an enemy the process will run better. Debt collection is a sensitive industry, and if this relationship is not handled with care, then this relationship can be damaged.

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3 Common Home Buying Mistakes A Good Attorney Will Help You Avoid

Purchasing a home requires you to go through several steps and processes. Buyers sometimes glaze over various, steps because they are unfamiliar with what to do. One of the most important steps in buying a house has to do with all the legalities. Signing the wrong paper or overlooking red flags can turn your buying experience into a nightmare. As a result, it is important to enlist the help of an attorney during your house buying process in order to avoid common mistakes.

Signing Incomplete Estate Agents Agreements

Estate Agents often use the same standard form for each buyer and home. This often results in brokerage agreements that are incomplete, because the condition of each home is different. A standard agreement may not be detailed enough to deal with the problems that are found in your home. New home buyers frequently sign these incomplete agreements and are left with several legal problems. As a result, a good attorney will help you to look over and edit these agreements in order to develop an agreement that suits your needs.

Signing Standard Purchase Agreements

A purchase agreement is designed to give the buyer more insight into the condition of the home. It also helps to clarify what party is responsible for what depending on the scenario. A standard purchasing agreement will not protect you from various scenarios, including what happens if you find out the home is surrounded by hazardous waste. A lawyer will be able to help you edit and amend the purchase agreement. The amended agreement should protect you in the case that the home is not in the condition it was advertised as.

Purchasing a home is meant to be an exciting time in your life, however, it is also a time in which buyers are easily taken advantage. This has a lot to do with not knowing what to look for and how the process works. Therefore, hire a property attorney.

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10 Tips on how to choose the best estate agent to sell your house

Tips on how to choose the best estate agent to sell your house

  1. Ask other people who have used that estate to sell their house

It sounds obvious but recommendations from impartial people who have sold through an agent before are invaluable!

  1. Think about what’s most important to you about selling your house

Is it the time taken to sell your house? The amount it sells for? The fees the agent charges? If a quick sale is your priority, be sure to ask impartial people who have used that agent about their efficiency throughout the selling process.

  1. Find an estate agent who has a proven track record for selling YOUR type of property

Certain agents may be great at selling detached ten-bedroom properties over R5 million but not as proficient at selling your one bed apartment for R700 000 for example.

  1. Think like a property buyer

Buyers often scour the areas they want to buy so do the same, walk around your local area and see which for sale signs say “SOLD” on them. The agents with the “SOLD” signs are the ones to contact first.

  1. Compare estate agents and don’t be afraid to “shop around”

Selling your home is one of the most stressful activities you will do in your life so don’t make it more stressful by rushing into using the wrong agent.

  1. Check the contract before instructing an estate agent

Read the contract small print carefully, as you could find yourself signed up and legally bound for a long period of time. If this is the case, even in the event of poor service, you will not be able to go elsewhere (unless you’re prepared to fork out for two fees!) Insist on a time period of your choice.

  1. Don’t just sell your house through the estate agent you’re buying from

Just because you have found your next dream home through one agent doesn’t mean they’re also the most suitable to sell your existing property.

  1. Consider instructing multiple agents to sell your house

To create a bit of “friendly competition” amongst the selling agents. If you decide to use multiple agents, check the small print on their contracts. They may insist on ‘sole agency’, which means that even if you sell your home privately or through another agent, you’ll still be charged a commission fee.

  1. Check their credentials

Is the agent you are about to choose to sell your house a member of an accredited body? Organisations such as these ensure that estate agents adhere to strict codes of conduct, giving you peace of mind that they’re not cowboys.

  1. Ask where they will be advertising your property

Nowadays it isn’t enough just to have a swanky high street location, estate agents need to advertise on some of the many online property portals.

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Selling or Buying a property privately in South Africa

There is no mystery to selling your home on your own. Just do the right things and your home will sell!

Why Sell Your Home Privately

  1. Take more money to the bank!

The average home price in South Africa is now approximately R1 000 000. The average commission paid to sell a home through an estate agent is 7% + VAT = R80 500. You can save almost Eighty Thousand Rands (R80 000) by selling your home on your own using the No Agent marketing system.

  1. You know your home best.

Most estate agents do not properly describe the fine details of your home to a potential buyer. Many of them are only seeing your home for the first time when they bring a client. You are the most knowledgeable person to properly describe all the features and benefits, to ultimately sell your home.

  1. You are in complete control.

Viewings scheduled at your own convenience. No obligations to agents for a 3, 6, or 12-month contract. Negotiate with prospective buyers directly with no pressure from real estate agents.

  1. You can do it!

The real question is not “can you do it” but can you do it quickly and easily. Just sign up with No agent and you will get a complete package with everything you need to sell your home privately with easy step-by-step instructions to guide you every step of the way. It’s that simple!

  1. It’s Easy to do.

You do not need a n estate agents license, nor do you have to be an attorney or an accountant to sell your own home. What you do need is to do some of the work and be open to seeking expert guidance in areas where you don’t have expertise. Let No Agent give you the proper exposure and tools you need to sell your home privately, all at a price you can afford!

Buying a home privately can save you money, is convenient, and easy to do!

Why Buy Your Home Privately

  1. Save Money!

Sellers often inflate their prices to cover the cost of commissions to estate agents. These costs are passed on to you in the form of a higher price. Without the middleman you have more room to negotiate.

  1. Convenience!

Search for homes at your own leisure and schedule viewings online or by calling No Agent Private Sale. We book the appointments for you!

  1. Learn more about a potential home!

Learn about a home from someone who lives there rather than from an estate agent who may have never even seen the home before.

  1. It’s Easy to do.

Don’t let estate agents tell you that it is complicated. The fact is, that once you negotiate the deal, a property lawyer handles the most complicated part of the transaction. You or the buyer still pay a lawyer the costs associated with the sale, even if you are using an estate agent.

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Freeholding vs. Sectional Title Ownership – Jargon Explained

In this blog post I will be demystifying the difference between sectional title ownership and freeholding. In South Africa these are two popular forms of home ownership and they have different meanings that must be understood before one buys property.

Consider buying a townhouse in a complex of some sort. A freeholding would entitle you to the lands defined by the contract and the home upon that land. Your house would have it’s own ERF number and you would be responsible for paying all of the rates and taxes associated with this property. Now, with a freeholding there is no Body Corporate for the management of the estate, thus fees for membership of the estate are not levied. However, a Home Owner’s Association is generally set up to deal with care of the roads and communal areas within the estate. Thus, a small fee is usually paid by the members of the Home Owners Association for this service.

On the other side of the coin, sectional title ownership entitles you to the home upon the land, however that land is not your possession. The Body Corporate of the estate in which the sectional title home is a member establishes strict rules for the appearance of the home and maintenance. The fees are paid to the Body Corporate and these costs are based upon factors such as the size of the home relative to the total area of the estate. The only fees the sectional title holder is responsible for are the rates and electricity costs. Finally, if a home wants to be altered or renovated, it must cleared by the Body Corporate.

So, these considerations are important when deciding whether the home you wish to buy is suitable for all of your requirements. Good luck making your choice!

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Things to consider before investing in commercial property

If you’re new to the commercial real estate game, then this list will be indispensable in decoding jargon, understanding concepts and generally avoiding looking like a novice when it comes to brokering your deal.

  1. Understand How to Value Commercial Real Estate – Unlike residential property, the value of a commercial piece of real estate is intrinsically related to the number of square metres it has, with this number often being quoted along with the price. Be sure to evaluate and get a feel for similar properties Rand/square metre values, to see if you’re getting a good deal or being ripped off.
  2. Know that Leases on Commercial Property are Longer than Residential Property – According to Investopedia, commercial lease lengths are greater than that of residential lease lengths. The implication of this on your forecasts for future earnings would mean that, should you own the property and wish to lease it out, you will have secured a larger number of fixed payments. This is an excellent position to be in, because it removes some future uncertainty risk with regard to income.
  3. Understand what Net Operating Income is – Net Operating Income (NOI) is the value of Gross income in the property’s first year, minus the operating costs for that year. This value is a good indication of future profitability and return from the investment.
  4. Understand what Cash-On-Cash is – This measure provides you with a return figure based on the cash you paid as deposit for the property, vs the cash you receive from the property. It is often calculated for the first year and then compared to other properties to determine attractiveness.
  5. Understand what the Cap Rate is – The cap rate or capitalization rate, is the rate of return of the property based on the income that you expect it to generate. This rate is good to quote as it provides a yardstick with which to compare different investments. It does make some limiting assumptions which may be violated in the future, like constant annual income. But for an initial measure, it is sufficient.

Armed with this knowledge, you can now make more informed decisions the next time you look into a commercial property investment.

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