Sunday, September 29, 2013

7 reasons to buy a house before 2014

Thinking about buying a home? The next few months are the time to do it.

Rates on fixed-rate loans are still appealing, and experts say it's still cheaper to buy than rent.

Here are seven reasons to buy a home by the end of the year:

1. Mortgage rates are still dropping. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate loan is 7 to 8 percent at the time of publication. While this is higher compared to other countries, it's still an attractive rate for prospective homebuyers. The housing sector is getting stronger and inflation rates are low, which promotes low mortgage rates.

2. It's still cheaper to buy than rent. If you live on Aruba, it makes more financial sense to buy a home than rent a house, or apartment.

3. Home prices are relatively low. Housing price trends vary significantly by location and even by neighborhood, but the average housing price trends across the island look promising for prospective homebuyers.

4. It may be easier to get a mortgage. Banks may be making it easier for some prospective buyers to qualify for a mortgage. Less requirements and qualifying criteria may help some people finally get that home loan. If you have good credit and some savings available for a down payment, you might just be able to get a loan for your dream home this year.

5. Less competition from home flippers. Investors looking to buy and flip houses can't move as quickly as they did in recent years. Housing prices in some markets are increasing, making house flipping less attractive. This gives prospective homebuyers more inventory to choose from and the benefit of having less pressure to close a deal because of another pending offer. This could be the time to enjoy the freedom of shopping around for that perfect home and making an offer.

6. Avoid the cost of rising rent. A buyer's market means it might be time to say goodbye to renting for good. If you're tired of rent increases at your current location or want to move but will experience a spike in rent, consider the benefits of buying a home instead. You may be able to secure a great rate with your credit history and end up paying the equivalent or less in monthly payments as you build equity in a home. Renting can be a more affordable option for the short term, but renters still have to face rising rental costs year after year.

7. Invest in your future. Buying a home gives you a chance to start building equity, and you are investing in your future. Even if you end up selling your home in 5 or 10 years, you could profit from the sale and invest that money elsewhere. If you've been dealing with rising rent or the hassles of costly moves for the past few years, settling in to a home can stabilize your housing expenses – especially if you get a fixed-rate loan at a great rate. You won't have to worry about your monthly housing expenses changing significantly for a few years, and you will pay for something that has more value than a rental property. Consider the benefits of making this type of contribution to your future month after month.


Monday, September 23, 2013

Working in Real Estate

Posted by Aruba Daily on September 23rd, 2013 ARUBA -
Working in Real Estate since the year 2000 and still going strong; I have many tips to share with you. How to sell your house fast, how to negotiate the best price when buying a house, making money flipping properties, what determines Real Estate prices, staging your condo, how to find the right broker to represent you, and so on. Since June, every Saturday Aruba-Daily has published the Real Estate article that can be found on my blog:

That is how I got here; from working in Real Estate and writing a blog about it to share my experience, to being asked to publish a weekly Real Estate column in Aruba-Daily. I am Miriam Engeln, born in Amsterdam (the Netherlands), I have been working in Real Estate sales since the year 2000. I have worked in Spain, Belize and since 7 years I am happy to add Aruba to the list.

Working at Century 21 I am working with locals, foreign investors, (first time property) buyers, sellers, tenants and contractors, you can expect a variation of columns about all of the above and more.
Next week I will write another Real Estate column in Aruba-Daily, which you can also read online via the webpage - See more at:

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

3 things that make a great Real Estate investment

If you’re looking into real estate investments, you likely want to earn wealth on real estate based on risk you are taking, while minimizing the amount of time you need to spend attending to the property. In order to accomplish this, you need to make some smart choices upfront when buying investment property. Your goal should be to strive to get as close as possible on as many of these optimal scenarios as possible:

Pays fair cash-on-cash return

When you buy property you are taking money out of your liquid financial assets – stocks, bonds, CDs and investing it into a very illiquid asset.real estate.

You were earning a rate of return on your financial assets, such as 4 percent or 6 percent, and you should strive to earn a fair cash-on-cash rate of return on your real estate. To do this, you need to pro forma your deals and buy cash flow-positive properties that earn you decent returns – not those prize properties that are negative

Isn’t too risky an investment

All real estate is extremely high risk. Development of real estate, land, private real estate funds, fixer uppers, etc., all have much higher risk profiles than just simply buying a nice established cash flow investment property. In many of those investments, you will never see a dime of your money again because there are just so many things that can go wrong! So if you want to own real estate, consider simply taking fee simple title in your own name – or an entity you wholly own – to the properties you purchase. In addition, you must do the proper due diligence, analyze, test, review reports, etc., to make a lower risk real estate decision.

Doesn’t Require a Lot of Time or Managing

Some properties just require way too much time and management to make them smart investments. Examples include vacation rentals, low quality properties in bad areas, college rentals, etc. Nice boring properties rented for as long as possible to decent credit profile tenants seem to take the least time to manage. In addition, treating your tenants fairly and with respect goes a long way towards keeping good relations with them; and reducing your hassles when there is an issue you need to address. And believe me — there will be issues!

It’s the nice, boring, wholly owned, in good shape, cash flow-positive properties that are the best investments. They are out there for your picking, but it’s not as simple as finding a property on the MLS and buying it.

You need to do some hard work, research, read up, and make smart, educated decisions to acquire the best real estate investments!




Saturday, September 14, 2013

How is buying a condominium different than buying a house?

The condominium lifestyle is very attractive to many home buyers. The main difference between buying a condominium and a single-family home is the type of ownership you receive. With a condominium you get the exclusive right to the interior space of your dwelling unit, but the land, walls, grounds, fences and facilities are owned in common with the other owners in the complex. With a single-family home you are the sole owner of the building and the land it sets on. This is called "fee simple" ownership.

A condominium is usually attached to other similar units by a common wall, while a house is detached. However, a recent trend is to develop detached condominiums, where the land and improvements are owned in common. There are also some attached houses where the land is individually owned. These neighborhoods are called Planned Unit Developments (PUD.)

Condominium owners usually can't remodel at will, while single-family house owners are relatively free to make changes to suit their personal needs and tastes. Condominiums are governed by CC&Rs (Covenants, Conditions & Restrictions), which dictate owners' rights and restrictions on those rights. For example, the CC&Rs may prohibit you from changing the exterior color of your without approval. Many single-family housing neighborhoods also have CC&Rs, although they tend to be less restrictive.

When buying a condominium you should include a contingency to review and approve the CC&Rs, the articles of incorporation, the bylaws and the rules and regulations of the condominium association. It's also a good idea to review the minutes of six to 12 months of board meetings to understand the current issues that are being discussed. Look over the financial documents such as the budget, reserve study and any assessments and find out how many of the units are non-owner occupied. This may affect your ability to get a loan. Finally, you'll want to know if the association is involved in any litigation. The seller, real estate agent or escrow company will order these documents from the management company for you to examine and approve.

Condominium documents are long and complex, and buyers often complain that they don't understand them. If you can't make sense of the documents, contact a homeowner association board member for an explanation. Or, hire a real estate attorney who is knowledgeable in condominiums to review the documentation and give you an outline of the important points.

Maintenance of the condominium complex is shared with the other owners. When you buy a condominium, you become a member of the homeowners' association. You pay a monthly fee, which covers management of the association, hazard insurance and routine maintenance. A portion of your fee goes into a reserve account for future maintenance and replacement of the improvements. Sometimes utilities, such as water, garbage and sewer are included in the monthly fee. Exactly what's covered by the homeowner fees varies from complex to complex. The responsibility for maintenance of a single-family house usually lies solely with the owner.
MORE HINTS: No matter what kind of residence you are buying, single-family home or condominium, the property should be thoroughly inspected by a licensed contractor or professional home inspector as a contingency of the purchase. Also, insist on a complete termite inspection and be sure to carefully check out the neighborhood.

Read and understand the CC&Rs and other documents before you buy a condominium. If you're a dog lover and the CC&Rs prohibit dogs, you'll want to know this before you buy, not after.

Just as the value of any one house is dependent on property values in the neighborhood, the value of a condominium depends on the condition and desirability of the entire complex. The best way to get information about a condominium complex is the same as in a single-family house neighborhood. Take a walk and talk with the neighbors.

Condominiums tend to be less expensive than single-family houses in the same area. They usually offer more amenities but have higher monthly fees. Condominiums are a good choice for busy professionals or retirees, who want to be in a good location, but do not want to pay the higher price for a single-family house.
For more Real Estate information, email to:

Thursday, September 12, 2013

7 Feng Shui Steps for Your House

The basic feng shui steps to create good feng shui energy in your home are easy. Find out easy clutter clearing feng shui ideas, define the bagua of your house, play with the feng shui elements and apply easy feng shui tips.

One of the basic principles of feng shui is the principle of five elements, which are Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water. These feng shui elements interact between themselves in certain ways, generally defined as the Productive and Destructive cycles.

Getting started with feng shui for your house can be easy when you start with the house basics and gradually move on to the more complex feng shui levels.

To help you get started with good feng shui in
your home, here are some helpful steps for beginners:

  1. Clear Out Your Clutter, get rid of everything you do not love in your house. Clutter clearing is a time-and energy-consuming process that will feel like therapy, but it will help you "lighten up the load," so to speak.

  2. Have Good Quality Air and Good Quality Light in your house. These two elements are essential for good feng shui energy (called Chi) in your home. Open the windows often, introduce feng shui air-purifying plants or use an air-purifier. Allow as much natural light as possible into your home, and consider using full-spectrum lights.
  3. Define the Bagua, or the feng shui energy map of your house, by using one of the two main feng shui methods - the classical school bagua or the BTB grid. Once you define the bagua, you will know which areas of your home are connected to specific areas of your life. For example, in traditional feng shui, the Southeast feng shui area of your home is connected to the flow of money energy in your life.
  4. Get the Basics of 5 Feng Shui Elements in order to create balance and vibrant energy in all areas of your home. For example, if you are working on attracting more prosperity, you will introduce the feng shui elements of Wood and Water in the Southeast area of your house. If your need to improve your health, you will place lush wood feng shui element items, such as plants or pieces of wood furniture in the East area.
  5. Find Out Your Feng Shui Birth Element and create a home to nourish and support your energy. For example, if your own element is Fire, you need to introduce the expressions of Fire feng shui element, such as the Fire element colors (red, orange, purple, magenta, pink, yellow), triangular shapes, etc.

    You will also need a strong Wood element in your home, as Wood feeds the Fire in the productive cycle/relationship of five feng shui elements.
  6. Find Out Your Kua Number and Your Lucky Directions so that you can be energized by good energy from your best, or lucky feng shui directions. Adjust the position of your bed, your desk, the seating in your dining area, etc. For example, if your Kua number is 1, it is best to face one of the following directions: Southeast, East, South, and North.
  7. Always Be Mindful of the Feel of Your Home and how its energy influences your well-being. Make a habit of paying close attention to the so-called feng shui "trinity" that is deeply connected to your health - your bedroom, your bathroom and your kitchen. Nothing is static in the world of energy, so be wise and keep your home healthy and happy.

After you have mastered the seven home feng shui steps, you can explore the deeper levels of feng shui, and explore, for example, the annual movement of feng shui stars, or energies. Be sure to start with the basic steps, though, to have fun and to enjoy the process!

For more Real Estate information, email to:


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