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Archive for July, 2006

Cities With the Highest Percentage of Millionaires

Phoenix Marketing International just released a study and found that New Mexico’s Los Alamos has the highest concentration of millionaires living in one city. Almost 1 in 10 residents of Los Alamos is a millionaire! Think about that, at any one point in time, almost every store in the local mall probably has a millionaire in it (assuming there is an average of 10 customers in each store).

Here’s are the top 10 cities with the highest percentage of millionaires:

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City Millionaires
Los Alamos, N.M. 9.7%
Naples/Marco Island, Fla. 8.6%
BridgePort/Stamford/Norwalk, Conn. 7.2%
Vero Beach, Fla. 7.2%
San Jose/Sunnyvale, Calif. 6.9%
Sarasota/Bradenton/Venica, Fla. 6.7%
align=”left”Easton, Md. 6.7%
Hilton Head Island/Beaufort, S.C. 6.6%
San Francisco/Oakland, Calif. 6.4%
Honolulu, Hawaii 6.4%

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LandlordMax Traffic Doubled in 2 Days!

Since I know there are many entrepreneurs also reading FollowSteph.com, I plan on posting a more detailed article in the next few days on why we released a free real estate property analyzer on the LandlordMax website. However in the meantime I’ll just share a quick tidbit of information.

Since the launch date of the real estate analyzer, we’ve already seen the traffic to LandlordMax more than double! This is great since we haven’t yet done the press release (its scheduled for next week). This traffic is coming strictly from word of mouth and other blogs posting about it. Therefore so far it’s been a good success.






Weekly 7

Reading Blogs is Useless
Very poingnant statement that made me think: If you never use the information you receive from the blogs you read, then they are useless.

The Realtor Bubble
Compares how many realtors there are in the current real estate market over the last 45 years.

Fairfax County Buyer Intensity Index
Although I’m not located in Fairfax County, this is an interesting graph comparing the number of properties sold to the number of active properties. According to the graph, since about August 2005 it’s been a buyers market in Fairfax County. It would be great to have these kinds of metrics for every city!

Real Estate isn’t the Stock Market
According to the article the real estate market is not an efficient market because the statistics used to describe it leave much to be desired and take a long time to trickle down. This has implications of why the real estate housing bust is taking time.

How Does Your House Look to Buyers, Lenders, Appraisers, etc?
Not so much an article as the lighter side of the view of your house from different perspectives.

Misconception: Renting is for Suckers
The classic argument of which is better, renting or owning?

From paper-clip to house in 14 trades
This is not so much 1 article as the full story of how one person managed to trade his way up from one paper-clip to a house in just 14 trades, including the lists of items he traded along the way.






Free LandlordMax Real Estate Property Analyzer Online Tool is Now Available!

I’m very excited to announce that last night we launched a new and FREE real estate property analyzer online tool on LandlordMax. This is a great tool, and I would wager the most in-depth tool of this type that you can find online! It doesn’t just create a simple amortization table for you, it creates 7 major reports, including: Amortization Table, Yearly Income Versus Expenses, Yearly Cash Flow, Property Appreciation Versus Debt, Cash on Cash Return, Net Operating Income (NOI), and Debt Coverage Ratio.

What’s really great about this tool is that it also takes into consideration several variables that you enter when calculating all of the reports, variables such as vacancy rate, annual property appreciation rate, annual income/expense growth rates, and so on. It also gives you the option to put in one time capital expenditures, custom yearly expenses, and so on.

As you can see, this is an in-depth real estate property analyzer, especially considering it’s free!

I’d also like to take a minute to thank everyone who’s helped us test it. As well, I’d like to especially thank two individuals who provided me with exceptional feedback. They are Glenn Scott (a local real estate investor and founder of Symbiotic.com) and Albert Boudreau (founder of Ideal Property Management). Thank you!

Please let me know what you think of it. If you have any comments or feedback, I’d be more than happy to hear about it. And don’t forget to let your fellow real estate investors know about it!

The link is: https://www.landlordmax.com/real-estate-analyzer






LandlordMax Free Real Estate Analyzer Tool (Beta)

As part of our new marketing campaign to generate more traffic and awareness for LandlordMax Property Management Software, we will be launching a new free real estate analyzer service available directly on the web. We’re currently at the end of the beta phase and we’re looking for a few additional people to play with it and test it over the next few days before we go public with it. If you’re interested in being a beta tester, please leave a comment here or email me. We’re looking for about an additional dozen or so people.






Weekly 7

Elements Of Simplicity: Make Up Your Mind
Not making a decision is also a decision. But it isn’t like other decisions. In most cases it’s the worst decision you can make.

Who Gets Hammered in the 2007 Housing Bust: the Lower Middle Class
A very good article with many detailed graphs explaining and supporting the authors claim on who will be the most likely people to get hurt in the real estate bust.

Rates No Longer an Excuse
If rates are the same now as they were four years ago, why should home prices have risen so much more than rents during that time?

The Importance of Using the Digital Darkroom…
A great explanation of how big a difference some simple image editing such as adjusting the brigthness can greatly affect an image and its capability of delivering interest in the property for sale.

So we were asked to sell the business
This is someone’s internal debate on whether or not to sell their small business, and if so for how much.

How to Buy a $450K Home for $750K
A satire on how to make a real estate market over-inflated

521 reduced prices on craigslist in San Francisco Bay Area Alone
Real estate prices are dropping. Here’s a quick query on Craigslist.com of the listed “real estate” items with the word “reduced” for the SF bay area alone.






4 Simple Steps to Protect Your Data From 99.9999% of all Computer Failures.

We all know it’s important to backup our computer data but rarely do we actually do it. Well let me tell you from personal experience from this weekend, hard drive failures do happen! And was I ever glad that my backups were almost completely up to date. I lost a little bit of information (about 1-2 days worth of work), which is considered very good for a catastropic computer failure.

What happened is that over the weekend my most important drive, the one containing all my data files (I dedicated one hard drive only for data to simplify the backup process) started acting up. At first it started to do some random clicking sounds. It didn’t sound too good, but ok, there was nothing I could really do about it. Then suddenly the drive disappeared from “My Computer”. Not good! Then on reboot it came back. Ok… At this point I decided to double-check all of my backups. Almost everything had been backed up to about 1-2 weeks ago. Not too bad, but I decided to manually run a backup just in case. Lo and behold, last night my critical hard drive completely crashed for good! 250GB of data could have been completely lost had I not been proactive!

Which brings us to today’s posting. Having gone through the experience of a computer failure for the umpteenth time, I’m now getting pretty good on how to protect myself and get back up and running quickly. So without further ado, here are the 4 steps you need to do to protect yourself from computer failures.

1. Create a disk image of your C: drive. Nobody wants to go through the process of re-installing Windows/Linux/Mac OS again, updating the OS with all the latest security patches, re-installing all the software, etc. This can easily cost you many days of wasted time. Luckily for us there are software packages to create disk images of your hard drives.

For those of you who don’t know what a disk image is, it’s basically a complete copy of your hard drive in it’s exact state. This way, if for some reason your computer crashes (for example because of a virus) and you need to do a complete re-install, you can just “restore” your last disk image in a matter of minutes and you’re ready to go. No need to re-install everything, it’s an exact duplicate of your hard drive (hence the name disk image).

Now, as I was saying, there are software packages to do this. The two main competitors are Norton Ghost and Acronis True Image. I used to personally use Norton Ghost but I’ve changed since the last version update (version 10). I’ve found that it really slowed down my computer and it would hog up a lot of unnecessary resources. I now use Acronis True Image. If you’re interested in comparing the two, here’s a really great head to head review of Acronis Versus Ghost.

2. Create backups of specific folders and data files. Why not just use a disk image? You can, it’s just that I also like to make specific backups, I’m a little on the paranoid side from experience. For example, if you only have a disk image, what happens if that file is corrupt (although unlikely it can happen)? By backing up specific folders, I spread the risk. My best example is with my pictures. I take a lot of digital pictures, and I mean a lot. So what I do is create a disk image of the hard drive and I create a backup for each month. This way should something catastrophic happen to one my backups, I won’t lose everything since it’s isolated to that backup (I’d only lose the pictures for that month rather than all of my pictures). I also do this with all extremely important data, such as my LandlordMax and FollowSteph files and folders. I’d rather lose a part than the whole. For this I use a software called Genie-Soft Backup. It’s the best software package I found and it encrypts all of my backups on the fly.

3. Use an external backup hard drive. I strongly recommend buying an extra external hard drive to only use for backups (you don’t want it on all the time, this negates its purpose). Again, this hard drive is only to be used to periodically backup all your important data. This way, should you have a failure (hardware or software), you’re sure to have a local backup. In the old days, I would use CD’s, and even DVD’s, but the amount of data that needs to be backed up now just makes this impractical. I would need in the order of 2-3 dozen DVD’s and 100’s of CD’s to backup my data. This would take a lot amount of time and the number of points of failure substantially increase. It’s just not practical anymore. If you consider that the price of a backup external hard drive can be had for as little as $100, it’s just not worth using CD’s and DVD’s for backup anymore.

The other benefit of an external hard drive is that should something happen, you can quickly restore your data. Try restoring everything from CD or DVD. I hope you have a lot of patience. With an external hard drive, the data transfer can be done relatively quickly.

4. Remotely backup all your data. I can’t say this enough, backup your data to an external source outside of your home or business. It’s critical! This is your last defense. This protects your data from your property burning down (for the same reason you buy fire insurance, in the unlikely event?). This protects you from flooding and a number of natural disasters. How many times have we heard “I’ve seen it happen to others, but I never imagined it would happen to me”. Not only that, should your computer have a horrible malfunction, say a power surge, then you’ll be protected from this as well. This also protects you from the odd time that you’re external hard drive will also fail. Make no mistakes about it, the external hard drive is a hard drive, so it too will eventually fail (it should fail very very rarely as you should only be using it for backups).

Fortunately services that offer remote backups aren’t too expensive. Often the costs of losing the data far outweigh the cost of preventing the loss. What would happen if you lost all your digital pictures? I know I now have about 5 years worth of pictures. I can’t imagine losing all my kids pictures! Think of all the people affected by hurricane Katrina. Only those who use a remote backup service were probably able to save their pictures and data. What about my company LandlordMax? Can you imagine if a company has no remote backup of their data? I could easily see a company going bankrupt over it. The data is often many many times more valuable than the cost of the hardware on which it’s stored.

For this we currently use BQ Internet which charges which charges $20/100GB of space. We picked them because the price was good and this is their sole business. I have to admit we’ve had some network issues where the connection would get slow (or we’d entirely lose the connection) in the wee hours of the morning when everyone else is also backing up their data. But other than that it’s been good so far for us (we just now backup our data at an alternative time). The other service we looked at is Gnax.net Backup Service, which charges $0.50/GB a month. They seem to be a higher end service and the reviews look good. Either way, both are good options depending on your needs.

All in all, doing these 4 simple steps will protect you from 99.9999% of all computer failures. The odds of having all 4 steps fail at the very same time are extremely low. If I had to increase the odds even more, I could only suggest adding other alternative remote backup services. Other than that, the odds that your computer fails, your backups are corrupt, your external hard drive fails, and the remote service fails, all at the same time, are extremely low.

Backups are a necessity. I was again reminded this weekend of this by having my most critical hard drive fail on me. It can and will happen. Am I ever glad I followed these steps!!!






 
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