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A Brief Guide to Crowdfunding For Normal People

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Crowdfunding is all the rage, with new platforms popping up ever more frequently. Many consider it to be the future of investing, others warn that its risks are often underestimated. And then there are the different types of crowdfunding: reward-based, equity-based, debt-based, flexible, fixed and so on. It can all seem bewildering, but like most things the underlying logic is simple.

The most important benefit to crowdfunding is that it makes investment in small companies and startups accessible to everybody. For this reason, it is more important than ever for people to fully understand this new world, as most of the negative publicity around crowdfunding is largely focused on misuse and misunderstanding of the platforms. In this article I will cover the different types of crowdfunding platform, along with the main incumbents in each category, and explain some of the primary pitfalls that ensnare many newcomers.

But first, a definition.

What is the crowd?

Ordinary, everyday people. And that’s what the “crowd” in crowdfunding refers to. You see, raising money is not really about business plans or market traction or financial forecasts: it’s ultimately about trust. And in life, the higher the risk of being hurt, the more important trust becomes. For this reason, most people don’t mind putting a few pounds towards sponsoring a charity run or lending a friend a few pounds; there’s a general acceptance that you shouldn’t expect to see that money again, and as such the level of trust in the person to whom you are giving the money doesn’t need to be particularly high. But if somebody asks you to invest several thousand pounds, the situation is radically different. For most people, this is not an amount of money that they can afford to lose. Therefore, most people have been locked out of the investment world where small businesses need thousands of pounds to be invested.

It’s therefore logical that the traditional routes for founders financing a business have been channels like loans from banks, high net worth individuals and friends and family. A founder’s ability to raise money has depended largely on their collateral in the case of a bank loan, or their personal network in the case of investments from individuals, and consisted of big chunks of money from a small handful of people who trust them and/or have thoroughly vetted them. The alternative – raising small chunks of money from a large number of people – has been largely impossible unless the founder happens to know hundreds of people and is both willing and able to deal with the enormous administrative overhead of dealing with so many people.

Enter the internet, with its well-established history of both removing administrative headaches and connecting large groups of people together. Crowdfunding essentially facilitates the matchmaking between ordinary people who are interested in investing in things and ordinary founders who don’t happen to have access to collateral or large networks of wealthy individuals. The software running the crowdfunding platform handles all of the administration, while the internet itself provides a vast potential pool of people for the founder to market to, at scale.

In short, crowdfunding makes it possible to raise small amounts of money from a large amount of total strangers. For that reason, it’s great.

The main types of crowdfunding platform

There are four main types of crowdfunding platform, all with different advantages and risks. Below are the main ones, with links to the largest or most well known incumbents.

Reward-based crowdfunding

Main players: Kickstarter, Indiegogo

The closest sibling to the traditional charity fundraiser, reward-based platforms take money in the form of pledges or donations, and in return you get some kind of kick back or perk from the business. For example, you might get a discounted unit of the product being funded once it’s manufactured, or for a higher donation amount you might get a personalised version of the same product as a thank you for supporting it. This is the “reward” in question, and usually the higher the pledge amount the better the reward.

For obvious reasons you tend to find mostly physical products on reward-based sites, where the money is used to take a concept prototype to first production. They also tend to be popular with creative projects such as movies, games or music albums, where fans can support their favourite artists and get perks like a credit at the end of the movie in return.

The downside to reward-based sites is that they are vulnerable to scams and fraud. There is usually very little or no due diligence on the companies or individuals raising money, and with the minimum pledge amount starting at as little as £1, the barrier to entry on the investor side is minimal too. Scammers will often present fake product prototypes in a video featuring concept art and renders, only to disappear with the money once the campaign is over. The investors, in this case, have little recourse except to complain to the crowdfunding platform itself to get a refund, but the lines of responsibility around risk are somewhat hazy.

There are fantastic opportunities to back exciting projects on reward-based platforms, but the risk is highest and the return generally not appreciable. Investing on a reward-based platform should be done out of passion for the product you’re investing in, not with an expectation of financial returns.

Equity-based crowdfunding

Main players: Seedrs, Crowdcube

Much closer to the traditional notion of investing, equity-based platforms facilitate investments in businesses in exchange for equity in those businesses. Equity platforms are regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority in the UK and investors must meet certain legal requirements. These are, however, not particularly stringent and usually involve a simple credit check and completion of an online questionnaire. Minimum investment amounts are still very accessible at around the £10 mark usually, although some equity platforms have a higher minimum stake.

For businesses looking to raise, however, the entry process is much tougher. Proper legal due diligence is performed on every company, and the submission process normally consists of a number of rounds of iteration and approval before the campaign can go live. The obvious benefit for investors is the added layer of protection for their investment. It is much rarer for scammers or fraudsters to launch on equity platforms and FCA regulations require claims by the businesses to be backed up with evidence which the platform will verify themselves before allowing the campaign to launch. For this reason, as many as 90% of all applications for equity-based platforms fail to make it through to campaign launch.

The advantages for businesses raising money are access to a more sophisticated group of investors beyond their own networks (traditional investors are increasingly flocking to such platforms), as well as a streamlined process for dealing with the- generally much smaller than other crowdfunding platforms – group of investors. There is also an increasing trend for equity platforms acting as nominee shareholders on behalf of the investors, which means the business takes on a single new shareholder instead of several hundred, making administration much easier as well as making future investments far more straightforward. This particular point is often overlooked by businesses looking to raise, but is the main reason we chose Seedrs for our own equity fundraising campaign.

Equity platforms will normally hold the funds in escrow until the campaign is over, adding yet another layer of protection for investors. Of course, the normal risks apply in terms of expected returns: most investments will not return much if anything, but the ones that do promise huge financial gains compared to other investment options. Generally speaking, this type of crowdfunding is what is referred to in speculations about the impact of the format on the future of investing generally.

Debt-based crowdfunding

Main players: Funding Circle, Zopa

Otherwise known as peer-to-peer lending, debt-based crowdfunding takes the core benefits of crowdfunding – the administrative advantages and access to large groups of people – and applies it to business lending. In simple terms, investors put their money into a fund managed by the platform, and the platform loans the money to businesses looking for capital. Investors can either choose which businesses they wish to invest in, or let the platform choose automatically on their behalf.

The main difference is, obviously, that the investor should expect to receive the money back, with interest. The appeal of putting one’s money into a lending platform instead of an equity based one comes down to the reduced risk factor, assured by the fact that businesses are put through the same rigorous vetting procedures as they would do when borrowing from banks, and the returns are often much higher than a simple ISA or pension. For a business which meets the criteria for lending, the advantages are better rates than a bank with more transparency.

While generally not ideal for early-stage startups with no collateral, for more established ones looking to grow it offers access to cash without having to give up equity or take on hundreds of investors. For investors who are more risk-averse it is a safer alternative to equity crowdfunding, at the cost of missing out on potentially big returns that successful startups can sometimes yield.

Blockchain crowdfunding

Main players: Smith + Crown, Waves

The newest and least well-known crowdfunding type, blockchain crowdfunding leverages the power of cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin to generate cash from the creation of new tokens in a process called Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs), a nod to the more traditional Initial Public Offering (IPO) process that we are used to with stock markets.

The way it works is pretty complicated to explain here, and an understanding of how blockchain and cryptocurrencies work is essential before even contemplating this route (you can read my article “A brief guide to blockchain… for normal people” here if interested). As such, the businesses raising money via this route are mostly blockchain related themselves, and the investors piling in to the ICOs tend to have a very high risk appetite.

The appeal is in the potential returns for investors from the crytpocurrencies themselves. As an example, the Ether cryptocurrency doubled in value in only three days during March 2017, while the Monero currency increase 2000% in value last year alone. Of course, this level of volatility can go the other way too, as anybody who has invested in Bitcoin recently will attest to.

Blockchain’s decentralised architecture and trustless, crowdsourced approach makes it an obvious candidate for preferred crowdfunding approach in future, but the technology as a whole is still in its infancy and as such is prone to scammers and fraud, as well as huge volatility in the currencies themselves. Not for the faint-hearted.

Which one should you choose?

As an investor, the decision over which crowdfunding platform to invest in depends largely on your risk appetite. If your goal is to receive any kind of return then the rewards-based platforms should be rule out entirely. Beyond that, if you’re just looking for a better rate of interest than an ISA can offer, debt-based platforms may be a good option, otherwise go for the equity crowdfunding option if you want to be a “real” investor. Blockchain is for the gamblers.

As a business, stick to the rewards-based platforms for consumer products that are in concept or prototype stage, perhaps moving on the equity platforms once your product is up and running. Debt-based platforms are a better choice for bridge finance if you are more established, and blockchain is the obvious option if you are a blockchain startup.

Whichever stage you are at, make sure to shop around and do your research before diving in, and as long as you keep a sensible head there are exciting opportunities available that would likely never have existed before. For that reason alone, crowdfunding is a wonderful innovation.

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Learning The Advantages And Disadvantages Of Ordering Food And Other Items Online

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Lots of people have seen the benefits of ordering stuff online. This also includes ordering food and getting them delivered straight to your home. Most fast food chains now incorporate online ordering into their services and even restaurants are getting into the act. Perhaps you have even experienced doing this at one point. So perhaps, you may also be aware of the advantages that come with ordering your food online which also goes the same for other non-food items. For one, the virtual realm doesn’t sleep, unlike the actual marketplace. Hence, you can place your order at any time, although there are some stores that probably won’t delivery 24/7.

Second, nothing beats the comfort of doing your shopping online, especially your groceries. Lots of housewives have switched to doing this because it allows them time to do their other chores. Instead of wasting time rushing off to the supermarket and waiting long lines, you can just load up your online shopping cart, checkout the items, and wait for them to delivered straight to your doorstep. Third, you get to score lots of great discounts and possibly get your food items at way cheaper prices than in the supermarket. It’s especially true if you’re diligent in scouring the virtual marketplace for discount coupons, promo codes, and other hot deal. Plus, if you’re a first-time customer, lots of online stores love to give complimentary discounts as well.

However, as much as there are lots of benefits, there are also a few drawbacks. We cannot help having them because this is the virtual world after all. In other words, these risks come with the territory. One, you cannot really see the items in actual. When it comes to groceries, this can sometimes be a bit vital. You cannot check the labels for expiry dates, ingredients, and such. So to remedy the situation, stick with those online stores that actually provide complete product descriptions. It’s also highly recommended to do your shopping in general with trustworthy sites. The risk is even greater if you’re trying out a new product, so it’s good to check out sites giving away free samples first. Two, you cannot transact with actual cash. This can present a bit of an inconvenience, especially if you’re trying to refrain from using your credit card.

Nonetheless, a lot of food chains and restaurants allow cash-on-delivery orders. Some online stores selling groceries do as well. But these would usually apply to those stores which are within your neighborhood. This means that if you are going to order non-perishable food items, like maybe canned goods or candies and chocolates and they have to be shipped from outside your area, then you definitely cannot pay with cash. Lastly, even with today’s sophisticated technology, there are still glitches when it comes to paying for your food items online. Errors in billing are pretty common, even when seemingly secured channels are being used. Of course, established online stores will refund you, but you still have to go through some steps. So, just exercise the necessary caution needed when ordering anything online.

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How To Slim Down Your Fat Wallet

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Trends and styles keep on changing. From big fat wallets, the style has now changed to slim and smart wallets, for both men and women. If you are one of those who keeps on saying, “I hate big fat wallets”, then you need not to worry, as now you have many good options that can help in getting rid of your big fat wallet and can make you look smarter.

You can get rid of your fat wallet if you avoid keeping all the needless items that have made their way into your overflowing wallet. These unwanted items can include restaurant bills, old photographs, storage cards and a collection of visiting cards. Use a separate card-holder and maintain it at home. To store your important contacts, you can use gadgets and your cell phone. Most of the new phones these days come with practically unlimited storage for saving your contacts.

Cut down the thickness of your wallet by using plastic money instead of hard cash. Apart from curtailing the size of your wallet, plastic money provides the safest way to carry your money anywhere. It is advised not to carry more than two credit/debit cards. You can keep your identification card and a few dollars; and that too if necessary, otherwise credit cards will do the job.

Slim wallets are more preferred for men because a big fat wallet affects the flow of dress shirts, way of sitting and can even cause back pains because of the improper body structure when sitting with a fat wallet in your back pocket. Most companies are introducing much slimmer and fashionable wallets, available in different colors (like gold, silver), materials (like original leather and nylon) and trendy styles. One such style is bi-fold or tri-folding wallets. These wallets provide the required space. Some can even hold up to 15 cards and can easily be placed in your front pocket. Such wallets come with a magnetic money clip while some provide a strong and secure clutch. Money/Card Clip Holder is another type of wallet that is light on your back pocket, and these can also be placed in the front pocket. By using a clip, all the cards can be placed one over another, while the money has to be rolled back to let the clip make it hold.

What makes your wallet big and fat, is its untidiness and improper maintenance. People usually keep on filling it till it starts coming out of their pockets. Even women who often clean and maintain their pouches and purses, do not clean their wallets leaving all kinds of chits, paper reminders and visiting cards in their wallets. This results in the hassle of searching the wallet for the right thing when required.

Once you have removed all the unwanted items and follow the aforementioned tips and suggestions, you would no longer be saying, ” I hate big fat wallets ” and can save yourself from the frustration of carrying a bulky and disorganized wallet.

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Why You Should Never Settle Your Credit Card Debt

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Most people believe credit is a good thing, but the truth is credit is a tool being used against many consumers. The problem is the majority of the American population is broke and depends on credit for survival. Credit is managing debt and most people do not understand how to manage debt. The school system in the United States spend so much time teaching students how to live their lives in robotic fashion, that they forget lessons in money management. Everything from employment, renting a car, to booking a hotel depends on some form of credit. Credit is for poor people who do not have cash in abundance. This is a problem rich people do not have to worry about.

The United States is the richest country on the planet, but has the widest gap between the rich and poor. The CEO of Wal-Mart makes about $7,000 an hour as opposed to cashiers and other Wal-Mart employees who barely make $300 dollars a week. How can anyone manage debt and live a comfortable life earning that type of salary. Most people are taught to negotiate their credit card debt for a settlement and improve their credit. This is the biggest mistake any consumer can make. Consumer are unaware that anytime a credit card company settles a debt for $600 less than their delinquent balance, by law the card company has to report that to the IRS. This is critical for the consumer to know because the IRS will eventually 1099C the consumer. The consumer will have to pay taxes on the credit charged off by the credit card company. This is capitalism and unfair at the same time. However, what can a person who is already struggling to pay their bills do to protect themselves? They can let the creditor charge the debts off as a tax lose. When this happens the debt can no longer be collected by the creditor.

Many credit card companies will still sell their charged off accounts to collection agencies for pennies on the dollar. The collection agencies will convince many consumers that, if they do not pay this debt, that it will ruin their credit. Many consumers are unaware that paying a delinquent or collection account will not improve their credit score significantly enough to help them acquire more credit. Consumers should always request a validation of debt from collection agencies with full documentation. Most collection agencies cannot provide this information and will send the consumer a screen shot of balance acquired from the original creditor. They will sometimes send the consumer an Affidavit of Destroyed Instrument. This simply means they do not have the original paperwork. The consumer should always respond with a Sworn Affidavit of Denial and file a complaint with the Better Business Bureaus forcing the collection agency to produce the original contract, which in most cases they cannot.

The reality of our credit driven society is that cash is king. Credit is the whip used for modern day slavery and social economic control. Until people demand a change within our political, educational and credit system, they will be force to live their life as intellectual and labor prostitutes for rich men as well as the corporations they lead.

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4 Smart Steps to Earn Money From Home

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If you wish to earn money from home, it is possible provided you take certain steps beforehand. Remember – there are numerous strategies and opportunities to earn. However, you need to make adjustments in your life in different arenas. This is very crucial as each strategy or opportunity has its unique approach.

Mentioned below are 4 smart steps to be successful in your endeavor:

Fix Your Schedule Appropriately

Yes, it is true that you are leading a hectic lifestyle. Nevertheless, opportunities just come once. If you fail to make the most of it, you end up earning nothing. To earn money from home you do not have to dedicate more than a few hours. Mere one or two hours of work is enough. Remember – you need to show dedication and sincerity. For instance, if you decide to earn from affiliate marketing, it is better to exhibit true professionalism. Similarly, if you wish to work as an online article writer, ensure to keep your commitment. It is only then that you can expect to have a list of happy clients.

Organize Your Space And Other Needed Items

You can work right from the sofa in your house and earn thousands. If you are working as a freelance copywriter, you will need things like a laptop/computer and an internet connection. Make sure your device is at right order before you start to work. Depending on the type of work and strategy you adopt, the kind of space needed will keep varying.

Develop Short Term And Long Term Goals

Answer this question – what do you wish to accomplish? These can broadly be classified as short term and long term goals. Depending up on your goals, the strategies needed keep changing. Ideally, you ought to have mile markers as these keep you motivated. Here, the main question is not what your ability to do when it comes to your idea. More than that, it is what you yearn to achieve during your attempt. Evaluating your strategies at regular intervals to identify what is really working or simply figure out what’s not working. In this way you can ditch or modify the later altogether.

Institute Your Own Reward System

Irrespective of how small or big your goals are, make sure to reward yourself when you actually achieve something you have been striving for. The reward does not necessarily have to be expensive in nature. For instance, you can give a visit to your preferred shop at the mall. This small effort will keep you motivated to accomplish your next goal to earn money from home. At times your reward in the form of paycheck reaches you in months. Similarly, it takes less time at other times. The entire journey remains flooded with obstacles. Therefore, rewarding yourself gives you a pleasurable experience.

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Earn Money at Home – Quit Your Job

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I worked in the corporate world for many years. One day I was laid off from my job. I didn’t know what I was going to do. I had always lived from paycheck to paycheck. However, since I received a compensation of 4 months when I was laid off, I decided I would use this time and severance pay to find out what I really wanted to do.

I soon decided I never wanted to go back to a 9 to 5 full time job in the corporate world, even though I was making good money. I wanted to earn money at home, and get out of the rat race of going to the office 5 days a week, working for other people, and doing jobs that really did not interest me or fulfill me.

So in order to earn money at home I entered the world of internet marketing. Now, even though I worked in a legal firm and did use a computer for many years, I was not a computer wiz by any means. But I knew the basics of using a computer. That was all I needed to start.

I soon discovered a whole new world, which actually fascinated me. I realized there was a lot to learn, and I dove right into it. One of the first things that I learned was the different kinds of marketing online.

Writing articles and submitting them to article directories and article distribution sites is one of the best ways of advertising for free. You always have your link in the article pointing to your website or product. Article marketing is a great way to spread your content all over the internet. This is content that stays on the internet. The more articles you have out there, the more you are spreading your name and links virally. Other people may use your articles with your name and post them on their websites, as well, which gives you free exposure.

There are many forums on the Internet pertaining to the different niches. When you join these forums, you start interacting with people in your same business and building relationships. You want to build relationships because these are the people you will be working with and promoting products with. You contribute to these forums by answering any questions and helping others. You support each other and build joint ventures that can be very beneficial.

To earn money at home it is also a good idea to sign up to different internet marketing courses which help you to learn different skills and strategies. For example, you can learn how to make your own products by customizing PLR products. PLR products give you the right to edit them and put your name on them, as if you had created them. Then you can sell them to your customers and keep 100 percent of the sale. This way you have your own product.

You can also sell affiliate products. Internet marketers usually have an affiliate program whereby they pay you about a 50 percent commission to promote and sell their products. So it is very easy to promote other people’s products and make a commission, without having to go through all the trouble of creating the product yourself.

Another important thing to do is create your own blog, and post articles and have promotions on your blog. There are banner ads which you can obtain through the promotional tools of the sellers. Keep your blog updated constantly. You can also have copies of your blog posts automatically fed to Twitter and Facebook so this way you are constantly providing content to Twitter and Facebook. This creates a lot of exposure and builds up your following by providing good information. When these people read your articles, they can click on your links and see your offers.

You need to build up a list of subscribers through different offers and promotions. It is important to communicate with your list on a constant basis, about every 2 or 3 days. You set up an autoresponder system through Aweber or any other autoresponder service. You usually set up sequences of emails that they send for you at specific time intervals. So then you can email your list with content and promotions. Promote to them any new and exciting product that you find, as well as your own products, and send them copies of your articles and blogposts. They will appreciate getting good content.

A good idea is to also start a newsletter to have a better rapport with your list. Your list of subscribers is your most important asset, as these are the people that you will promote to. So it is very important to build a relationship of trust with them.

Go to webinars and read about internet marketing. Learn from good teachers that are going to teach you solid internet marketing strategies. When you are new in internet marketing you need guidance from someone who is successful and can teach you how to get there. Otherwise, you will probably end up wasting a lot of time and resources.

In short, my idea to earn money at home has sprouted into a great and wonderful career which I never expected. I love internet marketing, and find it extremely stimulating. Even though it takes a lot of work and determination, it is absolutely rewarding and profitable. It is a great way to earn money at home.

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Learn How to Purchase Real Estate in Any Market With None of Your Own Money

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Introduction

Successful Real Estate Investors understand the need to have capital available in order to pursue investments that will allow for their continued business growth. However, this capital does not have to come from their own personal or business funds. The savvy Investor will use every method possible in order to get the most creative financing terms that will benefit them. Some of following methods will actually allow you purchase a property with little or no money down.

Warning

Due to the nature of putting creative deals together that may not conform to traditional lending procedures, it is strongly recommended to have your Attorney review any agreements or contracts in advance of you signing them. This will ensure your best interests are being protected.

Don’t Be Afraid To Ask!

The following information will provide an overview on ways to generate creative financing to provide funding for your real estate investments. One thing to keep in mind with regards to getting a seller to agree to creative terms is that if you do not ask for it you will never really know what could have happened. If you provide compelling reasons why your request for creative financing is a Win/Win situation, you just may convince them to look outside their normal comfort zone and do the deal.

Cash is King

When it comes to having a strong negotiating position with a seller, nothing compares to telling them that you are willing to pay them cash immediately. Cash is a powerful tool and it is one way to set you apart from the many investors that may be after the same deal. There are a number of ways to ensure that you will always have the capital available to negotiate your cash deals with motivated sellers. The following sections will provide a number of possibilities.

Borrowing from Friends, Family, and Professionals

Although at first you may have concerns about approaching people you know or who are family members to discuss borrowing money from them, keep in mind you are approaching them with a business opportunity, not a handout from them. Your success in achieving the desired results with these people will depend completely on how you present your opportunity. If you sit down with them not properly prepared without having any of the obvious issues or questions worked out, you will probably walk away without the cash. However, if you put together a project plan that will include an overview and most importantly a viable exit strategy (so they know how they will get paid back) there is a good chance you will be successful.

Once you have exhibited your ability to complete these real estate transactions with the anticipated results, you will have people coming to you as an investment option.

Bring in a Money Partner as a Joint Venture “Equity Sharing” arrangement

Another approach to locate capital is to add a money partner and do a Joint Venture with them. This technique is different than a traditional Hard Money loan because they may take on a more active role in the project and perhaps instead of a straight loan percentage they may take a piece of the profits. In addition, they are typically added as owners any mortgage notes and Deeds. Usually in this arrangement, there is a split of the investment profit and loss as well as tax benefits. Although the split is typically 50/50, it does not have to be and could be determined based on the amount of capital or other skills the partners are bringing into the deal.

Keep in mind that a Joint Venture relationship is usually put together with a specific project in mind. Once the project has been completed, the Joint Venture relationship may end. The specific terms of the joint venture are outlined in a Joint Venture Agreement, which will legally bind the partners to the project.

The Joint Venture approach is a great way to “Test the Waters” with the Partners in order to assess the viability of continuing this relationship on another project or to elevate the relationship to another business level like forming a entity (LLC, S-Corporation, etc,) with them. If you are going to find out that you have selected the wrong partners, it will be much cleaner to find this out when your relationship is only based on the one project.

Partner with the Owners

As another approach to shared equity, you may come across a situation where a seller is looking to sell a property that is in need of rehabilitation and also may be behind on their personal expenses. You could come in and bring the property up to market value by completing any rehabilitation it may require. In return, you would get a percentage or flat return on your investment once the property has been sold. Make sure you have a beneficial interest in the property either by being added to the deed or by issuing a note back to the seller.

This technique can be very advantageous for owners who are unable to pay the monthly expenses.

Buying Low and Refinancing High

Buying low and refinancing high is great way for you to “create” and utilize equity.

This technique works very well on properties that can be acquired far below market value or due to the current poor condition of the property. There is an ability to add value in the form of improvements. By purchasing the property and refinance with a cash out, you can recoup the capital you gave the seller and repeat the process on the next property. This is a great way to leverage the same funds over and over again. In some cases, you may be able to allow the seller to hold the mortgage until you can refinance. One word of caution using this method, make sure you fully understand your ability to get a loan based on the property and your credit qualification. Keep in mind that banks have LTV (Loan to Value) limits on how much they will loan based on the appraised value of the property.

This is a True Story!

On one of our rental properties we purchased we had some very motivated sellers that had a property that would not qualify for traditional financing due to its condition. We were able to negotiate a deal where they would hold a mortgage while we rehabilitated the property. At the end of the mortgage period, we were able to refinance and pay off the owner financing creating a win/win situation.

Sale-Lease Back

Another twist to owner financing is a Sale Lease back. With this technique, the seller will provide financing for the sale and you will lease back the property to the seller. You can give either full or partial credit towards the fair market rental value. This arrangement could be a great win/win strategy. The seller’s benefits are highlighted as follows:

* Eliminate the need to maintain the property, this could be very helpful if they are elderly or have an illness.

* The seller will receive an income stream to help pay for their expenses.

* Allows the seller to stay in the home, which can have powerful emotional benefits.

* The seller may benefit from a lump sum of cash from the down payment.

Doing a “Subject To”

The concept of a “Subject To” deal is that you will take title on a property subject to the existing mortgage remaining in place. This technique is different than assuming the loan because with an assumption, the loan is “transferred” to the new buyer. With a Subject To, you will pay the mortgage on behalf of the current owner. A Subject To deal is usually applicable when the property is not a candidate for a Short Sale. On a Subject To property there usually is significant equity in the property as apposed to a Short Sale that may not have any or negative equity.

Home Equity Line Of Credit (HELOC)

A HELOC is a great resource to have when you need capital to fund your next acquisition. How this type of loan product works is fairly straightforward. If you currently own property that has equitity (the difference between the market value and the total amount of all mortgages), you can use that equity to secure a line of credit. A line of credit is a perpetual loan meaning as you use the line and pay it back, you can borrow it again. A HELOC usually comes with check writing capabilities so you can fund deals as soon as you locate them. Lenders will have underwriting guidelines that will limit the amount of equity they will allow you to pull from the secured property.

You should exercise when considering using this type of loan product. Remember, if your project fails and you can no longer make loan payments, the bank will foreclose on the property that held the security and it may be your home.

Using Credit Cards

There may be instances where you may need quick cash for a short period of time. Don’t discount using your credit cards and requesting a cash advance. Although this option may cost you in terms of the high interest rate payments, it can be a viable approach to get you out of a jam with your cash flow or to raise capital for the acquisition of properties. If you have very good credit, I’m sure you are continuously bombarded with credit applications. Perhaps you should apply for a few of them and use the cash advance as another capital generation tool. Remember, most credit cards are free so if you do not use it, it will not cost you anything.

Assuming the Existing Mortgage

Assuming a mortgage is a great way to avoid dealing with all of the cost, time and underwriting criteria you may encounter when originating a new loan with your bank.

Basically, when you assume an existing mortgage, you are replacing the current borrower and stepping in and assuming all of the terms of the existing mortgage. Although at first this may seem like a great option, make sure you fully understand all of the terms and conditions of the loan. Many of these loans were originated when the interest rates were not as favorable as they are by today’s standards.

The following list will summarize the key points you need to review before agreeing to assume the loan:

* Interest rate and any adjustments that may occur

* Any balloon payments

* Prepayment penalties

* Assumption fee

* Term left on mortgage

* Assumption qualifications

Owner Holding a Mortgage

One of the most effective ways of doing creative financing is when the current owner is willing to hold a mortgage for you. This method is clearly a win/win situation. The following highlights will summarize the benefits of this approach:

* The seller could benefit from reducing their Capital Gains tax resulting from a traditional transaction. In addition, they will receive monthly payments that will generate an income stream at a good rate of return.

* With potentially reduced closing costs, the seller may attract more buyers

* Rates and terms are negotiable

* Since institutional banks are not involved, the transaction can close faster which could benefit the seller.

* Property condition is not a problem because you will not have a bank underwriting the loan with specific guidelines regarding the condition of the property.

* The seller may get a higher sales price because some buyers will be willing to pay a premium for this benefit, especially if they are not currently a good candidate for traditional financing

* If the subject property is commercial and not performing well due to poor management or vacancy issues, a lender may not write the loan. Lenders are very sensitive to the Debt Service Coverage Ratio (DSCR). See “Performing Financial Analysis on Investment Properties” handout for more information on this topic.

Once you have convinced the owner to hold a mortgage for you, your next objective is to work out the best terms of the loan. During the terms negotiating, there are a number of techniques you may want to consider to optimize the situation for you. The following will highlight some of the things you may want to negotiate with the seller:

* Defer the start of the payment cycle until you can generate income from the property.

* Have the interest rate on a sliding scale so that the early years have a lower rate than the later years. This could be beneficial in an appreciating rental market.

* Request interest only payments with a balloon payment due at some future point in time.

* Giving the seller a higher sales price in return for no or low interest rate.

Substitution of Collateral

A substitution of collateral basically means that you will use another property to secure a mortgage other than the property you are purchasing. For example, you can attach the mortgage to your primary home leaving the investment property you just purchased free of any liens. This technique will allow you to sell the investment property without having to satisfy the mortgage and leveraging the additional capital you will receive from the sale.

Options

Perhaps the most powerful technique in creating deals is using the concepts of Options. Basically, an option is a formal contract between a buyer and seller that states that the seller will agree to the sale of the property at some point in the future for a pre-determined price and the buyer has the option of moving forward with the sale. For the privilege of having the option to purchase, the buyer will usually be required to pay an option fee upfront and if they do not “exercise the option”, the fee will be surrendered to the seller. Typically, these option fees are held in escrow and will be managed in accordance with the options contract. Keep in mind that with these types of transactions, the seller is required to sell but the buyer has an option to purchase.

What the options technique allows you to accomplish is to have control over properties with very little money in the deal. Your only risk will be the loss of your option fee. During the option period, you will not be required to manage or provide capital for the underlying property including insurance or taxes.

A property owner usually retains the right to sell to someone else other than the purchaser of the option. However, the option will still survive the sale and just like a lease, the new owner must accept the terms and conditions of the option agreement.

Option Terms

Option terms are completely negotiable and usually no two deals look the same. The length of the option period can be anywhere from a few weeks to a number of years. Usually the shorter option periods are used when a buyer has determined that there is currently substantial equity and/or cash flow and need some time to either raise capital or locate another buyer to flip the deal to. Longer option periods are typically used when the buyer is anticipating future equity and/or cash flow. It is recommended that you consider having a provision in the contract that will allow you to extend the option period if it expires. This is referred to as a rolling option. Having the ability to extend the option period will usually cost additional option fees, but may be worth it if the property has the value you are anticipating.

Assignment of the Option

It is recommended that you add an assignment clause in the option contract that will allow someone else to walk into this contract. Consult your Attorney on the development of this document.

Lease Options

A variation to the option technique is a Lease-Option. This technique combines a typical lease with a purchase option. Unlike a straight option, the lease-option will shift the responsibility of property management to the leaseholder. With this technique, you will benefit from any cash flow and also tax advantages if this is a rental property.

Second Mortgages

Another technique to finance your acquisitions is to take a second mortgage out on a property you currently own. If you feel you will need these funds for an extended period of time, this could be a better solution than a HELOC loan because many of these loans are interest only and if you hold the property for an extended period of time, you would not be reducing the principle amount.

Using Signature Loans

If you have a good credit score, you may want to consider taking out a signature loan to help fund your acquisition Capital. This type of loan product is not secure by real estate and is based solely on your ability to pay. These types of loans can typically have a higher interest rate than a secured loan due to the higher risk levels the lender is accepting. In addition, there are limits that banks are willing to lend on an un-secured loan. A technique to provide a private lender more security on these types of loans is to take out a life insurance policy for the amount of the note and interest and make the lender the loss payee.

Tap Your Life Insurance Policy

There are some life insurance policies that will accumulate a cash value, this cash may be available to the policy owner in the form of a loan or cash value reduction. See your Insurance Broker for more details on this method.

Self -Directed IRA’S

You may want to consider using a Self-directed IRA to fund your investment capital needs. Self-Directed IRA’s have become extremely popular in recent years due to their flexibility with investment options. However, make sure you fully understand the specific rules and requirements of your plan with regards to the capital moving in and out of you account. There are limited custodians that offer the Self-directed IRA. See the workbook module “Reference Information List” handout for contact information.

Transactional Funding

Transactional funding can be an outstanding method for you to financing some of your deals without any of your own capital. A transactional lender will provide extremely short term financing in order to complete the sales transaction and the term of the loan is usually one to a few days. This type of financing is only suited for certain types of real estate transactions like Flipping where in the course of a day, you will close on the purchase side and re-sell it to your buyer. The fees associated with Transactional Funding can be high (2-4% of the loan amount) plus a few points or processing fee. However, when these costs are considered and the transaction is still viable, it can be a great way to complete another deal with other people’s money.

Using Your Company Sponsored Retirement Plan

Another technique to raise capital is to take a loan out on your retirement plan. For some, this can be a great way to leverage your money and earn even greater returns than you are currently receiving. The benefits of the approach are summarized below:

* Approval of the loan is usually very easy

* You are paying yourself back with interest instead of another bank or investor with hard money.

* Payments are usually made through payroll deductions making it very convenient.

* Interest rates are lower than hard money (be cautious with this method regarding your monthly payment because with the shorter loan terms typical of this product, you will be paying a higher monthly premium).

Other People’s Money (OPM)

When talking about creative financing techniques, you will hear many references to “OPM”. The concept of using other people’s money is a sure fire way for you to get into a deal with little or none of your own capital. The many different ways to use OPM is limited only by the creatively of the people putting the deal together. By definition, creative financing does not have any hard rules. The level of creativity is usually directly proportionate to the motivation of the parties involved.

As an investor, there are tremendous benefits to you using OPM. These benefits are summarized below:

* When you rely solely on your own capital to fund a project, you are limiting your acquisition plan due to your capital being tied up until your current deal completes the exit strategy. In addition, you will be limited on the scope of the project based on your available funds. However, when you leverage the use of OPM you are effectively creating an endless supply of required capital. This leverage will allow you to attain your financial goals in a more effective time frame.

* If you do not have any capital of your own to invest with, this method may be the only way you may be able to enter the real estate investment business.

* If you have poor credit, conventional financing may not be possible.

* Allow you to shift some of the financial risk to someone who will be benefiting by receiving a good return on his or her investment.

Using Personal Property as Down Payments or Collateral

In some cases, you may be able to offer your personal property as either a down payment or collateral. The seller for example may be willing to take ownership of your car as the down payment. This option offers many interesting possibilities.

Using Hard Money to fund your deal

Using Hard Money to fund your capital needs is a very common financing approach that should be considered. This method of financing is a great win/win strategy. As part of the development of your Success Team, you should have a number of Hard Money Lenders on-line ready to provide you the required capital. One of the benefits of using Hard Money Lenders over other ways of raising capital (like asking your family and friends) is that there is no emotional connection in the deal; either the deal makes sense or not. The criteria that Hard Money Lenders have are usually fixed with little room for negotiation.

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