The Value of Research: A Pittsburgh Case Study

Jason Cohen was only two years out of college when he bought his first property in Pittsburgh. It wasn’t a luxurious place by any means, but it was what he could afford with the means left to him after student loans. He sunk what resources he had into performing the most necessary repairs and managed to breathe new life into the struggling building. Its value soared; newly determined after his success, Cohen set his eyes on the next project and invested his profits. After ten years of hard work, Jason owns commercial and residential properties throughout Pittsburgh. He began with limited means, but Jason now has the resources and experience to run multi-million dollar community projects.

His secret?  Research.

According to Cohen, who facilitates the real estate investment forum Jason Cohen Pittsburgh in his free time, research is the factor that makes or breaks a real estate venture. An enormous amount of pre-planning goes into rehabilitating a property for sale, and the success of the venture hinges on having reasonable profit and cost projections.

More and more investors are flocking to house flipping to make a profit; according to statistics provided by Trulia, a full 6% of homes bought in 2016 had been renovated for sale. However, the field does pose significant risks if investors have little experience. If you intend to break into the real estate industry as Jason Cohen did, please consider the following basic tips for real estate research.

Look into the expense of the house.

Houses cost money. Repairs cost money. As Mindy Jenson, community manager for Bigger Pockets commented for a U.S. News article: “Nobody is going to hand you a house for free, and you can’t go to Home Depot and [get] your supplies for free […] If you are using credit cards and have no money, you can get into trouble quickly.” Assess whether the house will require expensive repairs, and compare your expense projections to your budget. Sometimes, it’s best to be patient and move on from a house with too many liabilities in search for one that poses less of a risk.

Research the neighborhood.

Find out how much you’ll need to pay to renovate the house for sale, then assess how much you’ll likely get for it based on neighborhood averages. Remember, you can’t tack on an extra $10,000 to the price simply because you owe that much to your lenders. Figure out if you can afford to buy and renovate the home, then act accordingly.

Research lenders.

Financing a house is notoriously expensive. Spend time going over your borrowing options, and choose one that suits your needs. Don’t move forward with the first place you visit; take the time to check out all of your lending options and proceed as seems best.

*Originally posted on JasonCohenPittsburgh.org

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Jason Cohen Pittsburgh Presents – How to Revitalize a Property Without Breaking the Bank

The house at the far end of the boulevard looks like a place neighborhood kids dare each other to sneak into after dark. With peeling paint and gutters that seem to wilt off the house, it’s an unattractive buy at best. But buy it you did – and you know that it has far more potential than its creaky porch would suggest. The walls may need repainting, and the carpets replacing, but that work won’t take long. You’ve watched every episode of House Hunters; you know how house flipping works.

 

But as your time and money drain away, you begin to wonder, uneasy: Did you make an enormous miscalculation?

 

Renovating houses for sale is all the rage on reality television. Dirt-cheap fixer-uppers turn with seeming ease into beautifully expensive homes on-screen, and audiences wonder if they can turn the same profit as their favorite on-screen stars. Unfortunately, the numbers are against aspiring home-flippers. When Jason Cohen of Jason Cohen Pittsburgh strategizes, he always reminds his advisees that 12% of flipped homes sell at a breakeven or loss price even before calculating for expenses.

 

There’s no getting around it: renovating houses for sale is an expensive and risky venture for those with limited experience. However, Jason Cohen believes that if you are determined to give the investment your best effort, you should consider the following to make the most of your budget.

 

Estimate your expenses before the initial buy

Odds are, the house described at the top of this post wasn’t a lucrative investment. For all the buyer knows, those creaky floors don’t just need a new carpet – they need floorboards and rugs to boot. The curling wallpaper dismissed as a cosmetic fix could, when pulled back, conceal years of structural water damage. All told, the cost of rehabilitating the house added to the initial expense of the house could far outweigh any profit the investor makes after the sale.

 

Be thoughtful! Inspect the house and make a note of any repairs that need to be finished before the sale. Then, consider the market. How much do houses in the area sell for? Can you expect to reach that number? Pricing out your expected costs against your expected gains before buying will help you make an informed decision and prevent enormous financial miscalculations like the one outlined above.

 

Prioritize your repairs.

The unfashionable wall molding in the bedroom might need replacing, but the broken floorboard in the living room takes priority. Resolve the repairs that need to be completed to provide future owners with a livable space; then, if you have the money and time for it, resolve any remaining cosmetic issues. Hopping from problem to problem without any sense of order will waste your valuable time and resources.

 

Find a reliable contractor.

Make sure that you put in the time to check out potential contractors. It may seem a small step at the time, but it saves you considerable time and money down the road. Think of it this way: If you hire a hack contractor and end up firing him for poor work, you’ll need to hire a new contractor to both finish the job and clean up the mess his predecessor made. Save time and money by finding a competent contractor.

 

However, if you happen to be handy with power tools and know how to perform basic fixes well, you should invest the time in doing the work you can complete independently. Taking on a portion of the work yourself will lessen the burden of contractor costs and make your venture more financially feasible.

 

For more information and further advice, reach out to Jason Cohen directly at JasonCohenPittsburgh.com.

 

*Originally posted on JasonCohenPittsburgh.net

Habitat for Humanity of Greater Pittsburgh’s MLK Day of Service

Habitat for Humanity pic

Habitat for Humanity
Image: habitat.org

Jason Cohen Pittsburgh is a real estate group headed by Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania local Jason Cohen. When he is not providing local clients with in-depth, highly personalized real estate advising services, Mr. Cohen and his team engage in charitable activities, serving as one of the primary sponsors for the Habitat for Humanity special MLK Day program.

The MLK Day of Service is a Habitat for Humanity of Greater Pittsburgh event that takes place annually on Martin Luther King, Jr., Day. As part of past MLK Day of Service events, the organization has completed a number of special projects including cleanups of multiple neighborhoods and homeless shelters, painting and other improvements at community centers and dance studios, and construction projects at local food pantries.

In recent years, MLK Day of Service has spread throughout the city to surrounding counties such as Braddock County, where volunteers helped paint a room at the Salvation Army Center, and Lincoln-Lemon County, where some 50 volunteers came together to make significant improvements to the Holy Trinity Baptist Church. The Habitat for Humanity ReStore also has been a beneficiary of MLK Day volunteer work. To learn more about MLK Day of Service opportunities, please visit www.pittsburghhabitat.org.

Humane Animal Rescue’s CLASS Program

Canine Life And Social Skills pic

Canine Life And Social Skills
Image: mydoghasclass.com

Jason Cohen is the founder of Jason Cohen Pittsburgh, which provides real estate consulting to a wide range of people in Pittsburgh, from young entrepreneurs to experienced investors. Through his group, Jason Cohen is able to help Pittsburgh-based nonprofit organizations, such as the Humane Animal Rescue.

Formed after a merger between Animal Rescue League Shelter & Wildlife Center and Western Pennsylvania Humane Society, Humane Animal Rescue is now of the largest animal welfare associations in the entire state of Pennsylvania. One of its main goals is to provide comprehensive care to abandoned, injured, or neglected animals.

Apart from care provision, the organization provides pet owner education programs, including the Canine Life And Social Skills (CLASS). CLASS is an assessment program that aims to test pet owners for their ability to train their pets to perform real-life skills. There are three levels in the program: the B.A., the M.A., and the Ph.D.. Pets are assessed on such skills as waiting at the door and m ore complex skills such as table manners. Pet owners receive a certificate for every level they successfully complete with their companion.