The world of commercial real estate is a vast place with a load of information that you will need wade through. You may wonder what exactly qualifies a property to be a commercial property. Also, how are the rules and legalities different from private property to commercial property?If you are at the negotiating table for a commercial property sale, be sure to keep the fact that you would like to get the sale completed quickly under wraps. If it is known that you are in a hurry to get the property, you will find that you will lose a great deal of leverage to get a better deal.You need to hire a real estate agent that has experience with commercial real estate if you are attempting to sell your commercial property. There are some agents who may be trying to get into the commercial real estate game, but really have no experience at selling commercial real estate. That means that they may not be able to give you the help that a more experienced real estate agent would be able to.When you are looking for a broker, one of the things that you will have to focus on is whether they are a generalist or a specialist. A specialist will have more skills in the field that you are looking at, which will allow you to get the best possible deal.Even if you have already purchased a commercial real estate property, it is important to keep in mind that it is a long process. Some commercial property owners grow impatient with the process and want to give up on it. Just remember, everything has to be made official, documents need to be signed and possibly, repairs need to be made.Have several different individuals evaluate the value of the commercial property you are considering buying. Fresh perspectives will be able to give you a clear view of how much others believe this property is worth. You may find that you are paying too much, or that your real estate agent is overvaluing the property for your offer.Research and follow up is always the key. Remember, talk to your financial advisers and a title or deed officer. Since you will be purchasing a property for commercial uses it is always a good idea to have your legal representative be advised of each step or your process.
For homeowners who are in danger of having their property foreclosed upon, there may be better alternatives to a foreclosure. In early April, yet another addition was introduced as part of the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP). The purpose of this addition, named Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternatives (HAFA), is to provide less costly and more efficient options for homeowners facing foreclosure to help them get out of debt and possibly save their credit.A Short Sale Could be A Better Solution than ForeclosureOne of the alternatives in the program is called the short sale. A short sale allows a homeowner to sell his or her home at the current market value and give the sale proceeds to the lender instead of having to pay off the remaining mortgage amount. According to recent study done by Campbell/Insider Mortgage Financial, short sales have been increasing in popularity over the last several months, with the number of short sales exceeding the number of foreclosed-property sales. A short sale is less costly than a foreclosure and can have fewer implications for the borrower. This program will even allocate up to $3000 to the borrower for relocation expenses.The Lender’s Role in HAFALenders do not have to participate in the HAFA program, but they will receive certain incentives if they do choose to participate. One of the incentives is that the servicer of the loan can receive up to $1500 per short sale accepted. Lenders who participate in the program cannot collect the additional debt owed by the borrower after the home is sold; the lender collects the proceeds from the sale, but the remaining debt is erased. Before the homeowner enters the program, the lender must decide how much money they will accept for the home.If a homeowner has two mortgages, things can become slightly more complicated, especially if the lender for the second loan chooses not to participate in the program. Even though the primary lender would not be able to collect additional mortgage debt from the homeowner, the secondary lender would. Although, if the second lender does participate in the program, the amount they can collect is capped at 6% of the debt owed or $6000.How to be Eligible for the HAFA ProgramIn order to be able to participate in this program, homeowners must have already tried to get a loan modification under the HAMP program. They must show that they were not eligible for the program or that their attempts at loan modification were unsuccessful. Homeowners must have loans less than or equal to $739,000 to qualify, and they must be behind on their mortgage payments or in danger of falling behind.What a Short Sale Can Do For Struggling HomeownersIf a homeowner has been staying current on his or her mortgage payments, their credit score should not be as negatively affected by the short sale as by a foreclosure. If not, the homeowner’s credit score can still be adversely affected by the short sale, but he or she will not have to pay foreclosure fees. Before the Mortgage Debt Forgiveness Act of 2007, borrowers had to pay tax on the amount of debt that was forgiven. Now, if borrowers fill out a certain form, the forgiven debt will be erased by the government and completely forgotten.A short sale can help borrowers erase their mortgage debt and get a chance to start over without going through a lengthy, costly foreclosure process. In some cases, however, a foreclosure could be a better option than a short sale, especially if a borrower has more than one mortgage. Homeowners should speak with a home loan specialist to determine whether a short sale or foreclosure is a better option for their financial situation.
The holiday home that pays for itself from tourist rentals sounds great in theory, which is why property sales types deploy the argument with such enthusiasm. Nothing could be easier, they would have you believe. But in reality you have to be careful about renting out a property in Spain. Dodgy rental agents, tourist squatters, and dismal returns are lying in wait for unsuspecting holiday home landlords.One of the biggest problems you face as a holiday home landlord in Spain, apart from the oversupply of rental properties, is finding a rental agency you can trust to pass on your full share of the rental income.”I was using a agent to rent out my apartment in Duquesa, on the Costa del Sol,” explains Trudie Day, 47, from Surrey, who now lives in Puerto Banus. “I did the cleaning after each client myself because I live close by, so I knew exactly when the apartment was rented. Even so they didn’t pay me all the rent they owed me, and told me to prove it when I challenged them. I live in Spain but still got conned.”Agents that rent on the sly and pocket the money are a serious problem, especially for absentee landlords who don’t visit much. But this swindle is not the only problem absentee landlords face. They also run the risk of unauthorised use of their property.Helen Dalton, 38, from London, used to rent out her flat near Marbella through a local agency. It was only after the rental agency closed down that she noticed that her property was being used without her knowledge.”Little things like towels and sheets went missing,” says Dalton. “Eventually it became obvious that other people were using our penthouse when we weren’t there. We changed the locks, but they broke in and changed the locks too. I arrived one holiday to find I couldn’t get into my own home.”Dalton’s property ticks all the right boxes, and rents well to tourists. But to avoid ‘tourist squatters’ Dalton now has a long-term tenant paying per month what she could get per week in high season. “I’ll never get involved in tourist rentals again,” says Dalton. “You just don’t know who has the keys to your property.”Stories of absentee landlords being ripped off by rental agents abound. “I’ve heard of rental agency staff using client properties without permission for all sorts of things, including family holidays,” says a lawyer based in Marbella. “If you don’t live locally it’s hard to know what is going on in your property. But that is a problem for absentee landlords everywhere, not just Spain. “Nowadays, thanks to the internet, you can get round the problem of dodgy rental agents by doing it yourself. Holiday rental websites allow you to advertise your property to a wide audience, take bookings, and publish availability, all for a fixed monthly fee. “You save the 20% or more that rental agents take, and you know exactly who is in your property,” explains Ross McGowan, sales director of holiday-rentals.co.uk. “If you treat it like a business, and dedicate time to it, it can be very rewarding.”Rental self-management won’t suit everyone because of the effort it requires, so a trustworthy rental agent is still the preferred option for many holiday home landlords. The challenge is identifying the good agents.”Ask for client recommendations,” advises the lawyer. “Check rental agreements very carefully, making sure that the rental agent’s responsibilities are described in detail. Keep an eye on your utility bills so you know when the property is occupied, and check them against bookings.”Hay, still seething from her experience, stresses the importance of getting written confirmation for each booking. “Without written confirmation you can’t prove anything,” she says. To avoid similar problems landlords need a rental agency with clear procedures and documentation for keeping clients informed of bookings.Some owners choose to let out their properties on a long-term basis, thus avoiding the problems of tourist rentals altogether.Unfortunately, rental laws in Spain favour tenants over landlords, so this option has its own risks. The eviction process is torturous, and it can take years to evict non-payers, especially if they have children. Landlords can lose thousands of Euros in legal fees, and lost rental income, if they come across a tenant who knows how to work the system.Vince Barnes, 42, a professional musician from Newcastle, now living in Valencia, knows all about troublesome tenants as a landlord with a rental property near Gandia, to the south of Valencia City. “I’ve had enough of being a landlord in Spain,” grumbles Barnes. “Short term rentals are a pain in the neck, and when I switched to long-term lets the tenants only paid 4 months out of 9, did 2,000 Euros worth of damage, and left me 3,000 Euros out of pocket, not to mention all the time and aggro.”Many rental agencies recommend using an 11-month rental contract to avoid the long-term contracts (12 months or more) that give tenants so much protection. But the reality is that 11-month contracts do not help landlords, who still have to follow the normal eviction process if tenants don’t pay the rent. Landlords should resist the temptation to change the locks or disconnect the utilities on troublesome tenants; this is against the law, and lays landlords open to legal action from their non-paying tenants.Word of the cushy deal tenants get from Spain’s rental laws must have reached the UK. A growing number of Brits are taking advantage of the law to live rent-free in Spain, some of them in luxury apartments in glitzy hot spots like Puerto Banus. The Spanish press recently reported that some 26% of delinquent tenants in Spain are foreigners, many of them British, living rent-free in popular tourist areas. Now even the squatters are moving to Spain.