Author Archives: Joe Luca, REALTOR

About Joe Luca, REALTOR

Joe is a Licensed REALTOR, providing Residential Real Estate Services in Massachusetts and Rhode Island and Income Property Advisory Services nationwide. Joe is 2018 President of the Rhode Island Association of REALTORS. Member, Board of Directors, National Association of REALTORS®. Joe has worked with many 501(c)3 corporations as a Broker and volunteering his time, skills, and services.

Is NOW A Good Time To Invest In Real Estate?

Timing the market isn’t usually a fruitful endeavor…it’s certainly not rewarding. The decision to invest in rental property should be driven by objective data, not “timing”.

Some things you may want to consider:

  1. Are you personally prepared to be a landlord? “Landlording” isn’t always easy, and it isn’t usually fun. Unlike owning mutual funds, stocks and bonds, it is an active investment. You need to be engaged and committed to being a good Landlord. Unlike the aforementioned, you CAN buy an investment worth five times the amount of money you are committing to the investment by leveraging your investment with a mortgage.
  2. How much money do you have to invest? You need to have enough for a down payment and some reserves for repairs, maintenance, and vacancies.
  3. Will you live in the investment property? This can be a great way to get started if you buy a multi-family.
  4. Will you qualify for a mortgage? Mortgage products for investment properties have different guidelines than mortgages for single family properties.
  5. What are the rental rates in the neighborhoods where you would be looking to invest? Rental rates have been increasing much faster than the cost of ownership nationwide. For example: three rental units generating $3,600/month can support a lot of debt-service, taxes, insurance, and vacancy ratio of 5%. (A $375,000 mortgage with 20% down would have a PITI payment of under $3,000/month at 6.5%.)

While I can’t predict when the next “Crash” is going to occur, it doesn’t appear to be on the horizon based on the empirical data. If it is, and you buy a good property in a good neighborhood, in a desirable town, you will be shielded from the downturn much better than if you bought a property in a not-so-good neighborhood. You will be shielded even more if you are uber-selective with your tenants. Good tenants are almost worth their weight in gold if you compare them to the cost of bad tenants.

Knowledge is power so your best first step may be to have a conversation with an experienced, full-time REALTOR® to assess if investing in real estate is the right “move” for you.

Is Providence, RI Worthy?

The late Mayor Buddy Cianci believed the people of Providence have had a self-esteem problem. Perhaps that should be considered since there are so many “nay-sayers” about new developments in the city.

From http://www.VisitRhodeIsland.com

Providence certainly has “issues” that it needs to deal with. However, so does every other city in the country.
1) ” Traffic is terrible”: Have you driven in Boston recently? Constant changes in traffic patterns, parking is never available where and when you need it, and traffic could mean an hour delay, not a delay of minutes like in Providence.
2) “Providence is too small”: Providence is a boutique city, that is its strength and it should be leveraged. The “mega-conferences” will never come to Providence. Larger cities like Boston, San Francisco, and Chicago have logistical problems with “mega conferences.” (I know because I have gone to those cities for conferences of 20,000.) Providence will never, nor should it, be considered for a “mega conference”.
3) “Where is the money going to come from?”: The money should come from the private sector; no guarantee or loan from any government entity. If an opportunity makes financial sense the big lenders will flock to the opportunity to invest in it. As a REALTOR® with over 20 years’ experience in the commercial sector, I have seen it firsthand. That’s Capitalism and it is very efficient.
4) “Our taxes are too high!”: Tourists and shoppers don’t care about traffic/parking tickets, high taxes, or bureaucratic “red-tape.” They want a good experience. The challenge is for the private sector to put out a product that the consumer wants and will pay for – despite these challenges. CASES-IN-POINT: Walk around Boston, or NYC, or Chicago and observe the parking tickets and “Boots” on vehicles. The afore-mentioned cities have more taxes and they are higher than those in Providence and have more “red-tape.” The consumer may not know or doesn’t care; they just want a good experience.
5) “Good business and high-end consumers won’t come to Providence.”: The city of Providence and many of its detractors and supporters should stop behaving like the city isn’t deserving of “good” businesses, “nice” developments, and “high-end” consumers. Too often, the city is ready to “give away the store.” The city should have Standards and not behave like someone who is so desperate for money that they go to a “pay-day-advance” store. Perhaps that’s the problem. CASES-IN-POINT: Baltimore has had riots and still receives development projects, San Francisco seemingly has a panhandler on every street corner asking for $10 and $20 and people still travel there, political corruption and high shooting and murder rates haven’t hurt Washington DC, Chicago, or New Orleans.

The city of Providence needs to look beyond our city, state, and regional boundaries for solutions. The largest commercial real estate conference in the world is every March in France. Why can’t Providence look to the international community for ideas and funding? There are literally thousands of developers and lenders at this conference looking for real estate investment opportunities. I know because I have attended this for my business and I have met with them. Why shouldn’t we be introducing them to Providence? We should. Would you like to get involved? Message me if you would.

What Should YOU Consider Before You Buy A Property To Flip?

Time. The one factor that many “Fix and Flippers” fail to manage effectively is the time it should take to complete a task (or series of tasks) and the amount of time it actually does take to complete those task(s.) Time IS money, especially when you are borrowing money from a Private or Hard Money Lender.

Extra hours on a few tasks become an added day, an extra day soon pushes into another week, and another week will push into an extra month. That’s another month of interest accruing on your borrowed money, another month of property taxes, another month of vacant property insurance (more expensive,) another month of electricity, heat, etc.

If there is something you don’t know how to do well, hire someone who does. A mistake could cause damage, it will take more time to correct and will cost more money.

Plus, the longer you hold onto a property that you want to sell, the odds (although slim) increase that something could happen and work against you. A weather calamity could damage the house, a winter with snow could prevent laborers from showing up at work, the market could change, and on and on. In short, the longer you unnecessarily hold on to a property the greater the odds become that “if something could go wrong it will.”

Before considering a “flip” you need to have everything buttoned up nice and tight. Your team of tradesmen and laborers must be ready, willing, and available to work for you when you need them to. Make sure that you have access to all of the construction materials that will be necessary.

Know what the market wants and deliver it to them market in a timely fashion. The best way to know the market is to get a full time, experienced REALTOR® in your community. A full time, experienced REALTOR® will have the answers to questions you don’t know to ask; and that will

Lastly, be prepared to manage the project. You must to go to the property twice daily if you are not going to be working yourself. Flipping is not easy but it can be rewarding and gratifying.

What is Cash-Flowing Real Estate?

Cash-flowing, or performing, residential real estate is a property that generates consistent, positive net cash-flow month after month. Typically there is a Lease between a Landlord (property owner) and a Tenant (renter) for a specific period of time, (Term) usually one year. The term is the period of time the Tenant is obligated to pay rent and the Landlord is obligated to retain Tenant if Lease covenants are kept by the Tenant.

(However, if it is a commercial property/tenant (not legally intended to be used as a residence by the tenant) the Lease is frequently for a longer Term.)

Positive cash-flow is what remains from the total rent and other income (laundry, storage etc) received by the Landlord after ALL expenses have been paid. This is the “Shangrila” of Landlording; all expenses have been paid, and there is money left at the end of the month. This positive cash-flow can then be utilized to pay down the mortgage debt, saved up to buy another property, or used to fund a retirement. (Typically a CPA can help with this decision.)

In short, “cash flowing” residential real estate is leased to tenants and the rent more than covers all expenses so there is a “profit”.  Landlords should regularly consult with a reliable and honest Lender to see if they can save money on the largest expense; the mortgage.  John Dolbec at First Home Mortgage  401-266-4413 is highly recommended.

Honest, Ethical, and Dedicated to providing great service to his Clients.

The opposite of positive cash-flow is negative cash-flow; when there is not enough money to cover ALL expenses.  If this is the result of a tenant who is not paying rent you should immediately consult with an eviction attorney and get a better tenant.  Tenant-selection is one of the fundamentals that should not be over-looked.  If you have to hire a mover to entice a tenant to move out sooner do it.  Call Gentry Moving and Storage 401-785-1600 for a stress-free experience. 

Your BEST Choice for moving.

Please note: this is not legal or tax advice and an attorney or tax professional should be consulted for legal and tax questions.  We recommend Resnick and Caffrey Law Firm. 

Reliable, Knowledgeable, and Experienced.

Pets and Home Value

So you want to buy a new home…but before you can do that you need to sell your current home.  If you have pets there is one important step you should consider taking before you begin showing your home. Ask your REALTOR® if they notice any pet-related odor. Time and time again studies show that when we are continually exposed to certain orders we become desensitized to them and no longer noticed them.  Have you ever visited someone’s home who has cats and you walk in the front door and immediately you said yourself: “oh, I smell cats”.  Chances are that the pet owner doesn’t notice that odor, and yet they have been living with it for years.

If there is a pervasive odor that is noticeable as soon as guests enter the house, what can you do? Deodorizers and scented-candles simply “mask” the source of the odor, they don’t remove and eliminate it.  For me, deodorizers and scented-candles can be a telltale sign that there is something else going on in the house.

One of the first things I do as a Buyer Agent when I walk into a home is to take a deep breath.  What I smell tells me a lot about the house…and its occupants.  If I smell cigarette smoke, mold, or pet odors, it is an immediate “red flag” that I will ring to the attention of my Buyers.  Why? Because it is going to be an added expense to get that smell removed, and it could indicate other deferred maintenance issues lurking within.

Usually, I ask my Buyer: “If there were to be a lingering smell post-closing, would that be an issue?” If the answer is yes they need to consider retaining the services of Green Home Solutions to remove the odor or remove the house from consideration. greenhomesolutions

Green Home Solutions uses a fine spray that is free of harmful chemicals and uses fast-acting enzymes that bind to and neutralize odor molecules. No perfumes or masking agents are ever used.

Conversely, you just moved into a new home and you want to avoid that “Pet Odor”  from enveloping guests as soon as they enter.  You love your pet(s) so getting rid of them is out of the question…what can you do?  The old adage “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is very appropriate in this instance.

There are certain things you can do to mitigate the smelly situation.  Whether switching to a premium pet food, or to premium cat litter, you can proactively address the problem.  Premium pet foods and cat litter have the potential to literally save you thousands when you sell your home.  If you are preparing to put your house on the market the above applies to you too.

How can a Premium Pet Food help me when I sell my house?

If you feed your pet a premium pet food, they will not have to eat as much food because they will receive more than enough nutrition from a smaller amount of food.  Additionally, since your pet is eating less food, they will have fewer bowel movements.  That means less pooper-scooping in the yard, less residual waste, or smaller poops in the Litter Box.  If there are fewer “land-mines” in the yard, and less “poop” in the litter box, that means there is less a chance that someone will “step-in-it” and less of a chance that the house will smell from your cat doing its business.

Cat litter can affect the sale of my house???

Most definitely.  As the owner of two indoor cats, I know from first-hand experience.  Over the years I have been in thousands of houses and all too often, you can tell the houses that have cats immediately upon entering.  There is that “ammonia smell” that identifies the house as a “cat house”.  There are some new, specialized premium cat litters that prevent that ammonia stench. The best one I’ve found and use is Lucy Pet’s Cats Incredible Litter, it may cost a bit more but you will notice that there is NO ammonia smell; even if you wait a whole week to change your litter box…I know I tested it and use it in my home. It still “clumps” so it is easy to clean, and it works well with multiple cats.

While neither of these products is the cheapest, they aren’t the most expensive either.  Every time I change the cat litter, I find that the extra upfront cost is well worth it because it is much less unpleasant.  I was impressed that there are companies that make specialized products for pets and in the case of Lucy Pet, I was also impressed to find they make some really great high-end specialized pet food as well. My friends with dogs feeding Lucy Pet dog food find that their pets shed less,  there are fewer, and less-stinky, “land-mines” in the backyard, and their pets just look healthier overall.  The lesson here is that just because you have pets you don’t have to let that interfere with, or potentially decrease the selling price of your home.  … Aside from the fact that as pet lovers we all want to give our pets the very best, there really are benefits not only to their health but to the condition of your home.  Your pets, and your home are worth the small investment.

LucyPetProducts

Why We Celebrate Veterans Day

A little History:  For those of you unaware and interested, Veterans Day was originally known as “Armistice Day” beginning on Nov. 11, 1919, the first anniversary of the end of WWI.  In 1926, Congress passed a resolution making it an annual observance, and Nov. 11 became a national holiday beginning in 1938. Unlike Memorial Day, Veterans Day pays tribute to all American veterans —living or dead—but especially gives thanks to living veterans who served their country honorably during war or peacetime.  Today it is not uncommon to have veterans from WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Persian Gulf War, and the Iraq and Afghanistan wars…in the same family.  They all deserve our gratitude and respect.  We must, individually and collectively, Never Forget.

flags through the years

Veterans Day Highlights

  • Veterans Day occurs on November 11 every year in the United States.
  • In 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower officially changed the name of the holiday from Armistice Day to Veterans Day.
  • In 1968, the Uniform Holidays Bill was passed by Congress, which moved the celebration of Veterans Day to the fourth Monday in October. The law went into effect in 1971, but in 1975 President Gerald Ford returned Veterans Day to November 11, due to the important historical significance of the date.
  • Great Britain, France, Australia, and Canada also commemorate the veterans of World War I and World War II on or near November 11th: Canada has Remembrance Day, while Britain has Remembrance Sunday (the second Sunday of November).
  • In Europe, Great Britain and the Commonwealth countries it is common to observe two minutes of silence at 11 a.m. every November 11.

Who are Today’s Veterans?

The military men and women who serve and protect the U.S. come from all walks of life; they are parents, children, grandparents, friends, neighbors and coworkers, and are an important part of their communities. Here are some facts about the veteran population of the United States:

  • 16.1 million living veterans served during at least one war.
  • 5.2 million veterans served in peacetime.
  • 2 million veterans are women.
  • 7 million veterans served during the Vietnam War.
  • 5.5 million veterans served during the Persian Gulf War.
  • Of the 16 million Americans who served during World War II, about 558,000 are still alive.
  • 2 million veterans served during the Korean War.
  • 6 million veterans served in peacetime.
  • As of 2014, 2.9 million veterans received compensation for service-connected disabilities.
  • As of 2014, 3 states have more than 1 million veterans among their population: California (1.8 million), Florida (1.6 million) and Texas (1.7 million).
  • The VA health care system had 54 hospitals in 1930, since then it has expanded to include 171 medical centers; more than 350 outpatient, community, and outreach clinics; 126 nursing home care units; and 35 live-in care facilities for injured or disabled vets.
If you enjoy the right to vote, speak freely, assemble, own a firearm, or choose a religion (or not,) You need to Thank A Vet.
waving flag
We All Must Never Forget…Freedom is NOT FREE.

Why Should I Work With a REALTOR®?

Not all real estate practitioners (Licensees) are REALTORS®. The term REALTOR® is a registered trademark that identifies a real estate professional who is a member of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION of REALTORS® and subscribes to its strict Code of Ethics.  REALTORS® are required to do more than comply with the law; REALTORS® must conduct themselves in an ethical, professional manner in all dealings with colleagues and consumers.

Here are several reasons why it pays to work with a REALTOR®.

  1. You’ll have an expert to guide you through the process. Buying or selling a home usually requires disclosure forms, inspection reports, mortgage documents, insurance policies, deeds, and multi-page settlement statements. A knowledgeable expert will help you prepare the best deal, and avoid delays or costly mistakes.
  2. Get objective information and opinions. REALTORS® can provide local community information on utilities, zoning, schools, and more. They’ll also be able to provide objective information about each property. A professional will be able to help you answer these two important questions: Will the property provide the environment I want for a home or investment? Second, will the property have resale value when I am ready to sell?
  3. Find the best property out there. Sometimes the property you are seeking is available but not actively advertised in the market, and it will take some investigation by your REALTOR® to find all available properties.housing
  4. Benefit from their negotiating experience. There are many negotiating factors, including but not limited to price, financing, terms, date of possession, and inclusion or exclusion of repairs, furnishings, or equipment. In addition, the purchase agreement should provide a period of time for you to complete appropriate inspections and investigations of the property before you are bound to complete the purchase. Your agent can advise you as to which investigations and inspections are recommended or required.
  5. Property marketing power. Real estate doesn’t sell due to advertising alone. In fact, a large share of real estate sales comes as the result of a practitioner’s contacts through previous clients, referrals,

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    friends, and family. When a property is marketed with the help of a REALTOR®, you do not have to allow strangers into your home. Your REALTOR® will generally prescreen and accompany qualified prospects through your property.

  6. Real estate has its own language. If you don’t know a CMA from a PUD, you can understand why it’s important to work with a professional who is immersed in the industry and knows the real estate language.
  7. REALTORS® have done it before. Most people buy and sell only a few homes in a lifetime, usually with quite a few years in between each purchase. And even if you’ve done it before, laws and regulations change. REALTORS®, on the other hand, handle hundreds of real estate transactions over the course of their career. Having an expert on your side is critical.
  8. Buying and selling is an emotional process. A home often symbolizes family, rest, and security — it’s not just four walls and a roof. Because of this, home buying and selling can be an emotional undertaking. And for most people, a home is the biggest purchase they’ll ever make. Having a concerned, but objective, third party helps you stay focused on both the emotional and financial issues most important to you.
  9. Ethical treatment. Every member of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION of REALTORS® makes a commitment to adhere to a strict Code of Ethics, which is based on professionalism and protection of the public. As a customer of a REALTOR®, you can expect honest and ethical treatment in all transaction-related matters. It is mandatory for REALTORS® to take the Code of Ethics orientation and they are also required to complete a refresher course every four years
  10. Relationships. Real Estate is a relationship-driven business.  Experienced, Full-Time REALTORS® have relationships with licensed, insured, experienced, practitioners in many different parts of the business: Home Inspectors, Moving Companies, Plumbers, Electricians, Painters, Fencing Companies, Attorneys, and more.  You won’t have to worry about finding someone, your REALTOR® can refer them to you!

Success: red graph over coins

Additionally, Full-Time, Experienced REALTORS® understand the market; they work with Buyers so they know what Buyers like and dislike, and they know what “competition” is on the market.  Full-Time, Experienced REALTORS® know Millennials (The Largest Generation of Home-Buyers in history) have different expectations than Gen X’ers and Boomers.  Each group has different needs, wants, values, and ways of communicating during the buying process.

Last, but not least important, is Safety.  Your home, or you, can be seen as an “opportunity” by individuals with bad intentions.  REALTORS®, especially Full-Time, Experienced ones, are trained in how to minimize your exposure to situations which could compromise you and your family’s safety.

So, why should you work with a REALTOR®? If you want to buy or sell a home on YOUR schedule, with minimal stress and surprises, and receive more value from the transaction (buy lower, sell higher) you should hire a Full-Time REALTOR®

Here are a few of our Preferred Partners:

1st Home Mortgage

John Dolbec Team (401) 266-4413

NationsLending2

Don Miller (401) 241-9676

northpointe-bank

Matt Resnick 401-439-5240

shamrock-website-logo-2

Suzanne Caldeira Team 401-228-9565

Bank of england mortgage

Anthony Senerchia Jr (401) 385-3630, Ext. 109

greenhomesolutions

Dan Anderson  401-871-3335

GentryMoving

Brian Crum 401-500-2925