Month: July 2013

The Birmingham Real Estate Market and Vacant Properties


Matthew Whitaker - Wednesday, July 31, 2013

When the real estate market crashed and people started to lose their homes and commercial properties to foreclosure, the number of vacant properties started to escalate – even in Birmingham. When buildings and homes are vacant, the number of squatters and trespassers also tend to increase.

Last week, an abandoned hotel went up in flames, which can possibly be attributed to the property’s vacancy. Buildings that are not inhabited are more prone to fire for a variety of reasons, primarily due to the delayed time from the initiation of the fire to the time that someone notices that there is a problem.

Therefore, as businesses and investors look to move into the available areas of downtown Birmingham, the number of vacant properties will decrease, which will improve the overall real estate market in the area.

Birmingham’s Real Estate Market Outlook

Fortunately, the city’s real estate market is making significant strides toward recovery and as a result, the number of these instances should decrease as the market improves.

There are a lot of residential plans in the Birmingham area and a renewed interest in the city that will expedite the recovery efforts.

For example, the new Regions Field and Railroad Park will more than likely play a large role in continuing to encourage revitalization efforts for the downtown area. Furthermore, a tax credit for redevelopment projects – which was approved in May – is providing even more incentives for developers and investors looking at the potential Birmingham real estate market investment opportunities.

At the end of the day, the real estate market in the city is improving and these steps forward should cut down on the number of abandoned properties and also the related random fires throughout the city.

If you are a Birmingham, AL investor who is looking for a property management company that you can trust, turn to gkhouses.com. Call us today at 205.940.6363 to learn how we can help.

5 Tips for Birmingham AL Real Estate Investing


Matthew Whitaker - Sunday, July 28, 2013

Are you an investor with an interest in buying rental properties in the Birmingham, AL area? If so, then use these five tips to help increase your chances of investment success.

Tip #1: Choose the Right Location

Regardless of your investment goal, location matters. When purchasing rental properties, make sure you tailor your search to areas that are easy to market. For example, what type of reputation does the neighborhood have? What are the community resources (library, gym, pool, etc.)? What are nearby attractions? The more “good news” you can provide potential tenants, the greater your chances of getting someone in the property quickly.

Tip #2: Educate Yourself

Investing in rental properties in Birmingham, AL or beyond means that you should do your part and learn as much as you can about the property you are looking to purchase and the surrounding location in addition to successful investing strategies. The internet provides a lot of free, valuable information that can help you prepare for making smart investment decisions and avoiding common pitfalls.

Tip #3: Hire a Property Manager

Unless you are looking to make running and maintaining rental properties your full time job, you should probably hire a property manager. Although you may think that you have the time and expertise, you may quickly find out that you are not responding fast enough to your tenants or that you are overwhelmed by renting regulations or building codes. A Birmingham, AL property manager can manage the day-to-day aspects while you focus on finding more income properties.

Tip #4: Look for Discount Properties

In addition to choosing the right location, educating yourself, and hiring a property manager, it is also important that you look for discount properties. However, make sure you are getting a good deal on the property. For example, if you purchase a foreclosure home worth $100,000 for $80,000 but have to spend $30,000 in repairs and renovations before it is ready, then you may not be making a smart investment decision.

Tip #5: Get a Professional Inspection

Finally, make sure you also get a professional to thoroughly inspect the property to ensure that you know exactly what you are purchasing before you sign on the dotted line. When it comes to real estate, quality matters. You do not want to spend a significant amount of money making repairs and renovations that you were not expecting.

If you are a real estate investor that is looking for property managers in Birmingham, AL, then call on gkhouses.com today at 205.940.6363.

Buying or Renting: Location Matters


Matthew Whitaker - Thursday, July 18, 2013

If you are looking for a new place to call home via buying or renting, or if you are an investor seeking an excellent investment property, then it is pertinent to remember that . Here are a few tips to help you look for the things that matter when it comes to finding a home with a great location.

Tips for Buyers and Renters

When buying or renting, you should look for a home that is convenient for you and your family and meets your expectations.

For example, do you want to have to drive an hour to and from work each day? If not, then take into consideration how close your property is to your work. Similarly, try to purchase a home that does not involve a commute in a high-traffic area.

Along with proximity to work, you should also look at the neighborhood, community amenities, local school district, etc. Create a short list of the most important things involving the location of your home to help you when searching for a home to buy or rent.

For example, if you have school-aged children then the school district may be very important. On the other hand, if your children are already in college or you do not plan to have babies in the near future, then the school district may not even be on your list.

In short, determine what is important to you when it comes to location and then find a property that meets those that are highest on your priority list.

Tips for Investors

If you’re an investor, the same is true; however, make sure you are specifically looking for items that are marketable to your target audience. For example, if you’re looking to buy a home and sell it for a profit, make sure you have selling points to help you with the sale. If the neighborhood is community-friendly with a lot of individuals around the same age as your target audience, for example, that can go a long way in helping you to sell the home to that demographic.

On the other hand, if you are purchasing investment properties for rental purposes, then make sure the property is located in high-traffic areas – such as near schools, military bases, etc.

At the end of the day, location is incredibly important when buying or renting a property. Make sure you consider the location in your next real estate transaction.

If you are looking to rent a home in Birmingham, AL or you are searching for property managers in Birmingham, then turn to gkhouses.com. Call us today at 205.940.6363.

Residential Plans in the Birmingham Area


Matthew Whitaker - Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Birmingham is a beautiful city that has attracted businesses and families to the area for years. From amazing places to work to entertainment for all ages, the city is definitely a gem in Alabama.

One great thing about the Birmingham area is our continued growth and expansion. From the new baseball stadium and Railroad Park to planned developments and renovations, there are great things happening in the Magic City.

New Development Planned for Downtown

Recently, a commercial real estate firm has launched a website to obtain public recommendations for the 52,000 square-foot space between 16th and 17th Streets on 2nd Avenue South. From lofts and a restaurant to office space, this area is in the planning stages and the company is looking for residents to play a key role in the process.

In fact, individuals can even go to the Birmingham Buildings website to vote on the name for the development for a chance to win $1,000 if the name is selected.

This new downtown development is estimated to cost between four to five million dollars with a plan for completion in the spring of 2014.

Hoover’s New 125-Home Development

Birmingham is not the only city nearby with big plans and new developments in the work. Those with an interest in living in Hoover will be interested in learning about U.S. Steel Corp’s plans for its new Ross Bridge development.

The planned lots would be 6,000 square-feet and expand over a total of 76 acres. U.S. Steel Corp. requested to rezone 136 acres (pending approval); therefore, this plan would take up 44% of the property.

In conclusion, things are looking up in terms of the Birmingham real estate market and new developments.

If you are looking for Birmingham homes for rent or are a property owner seeking a Birmingham, AL property manager you can depend on, then call on gkhouses.com.

Buying, Renting, or Investing: Increase Your Credit Score


Matthew Whitaker - Friday, July 12, 2013

When it comes to financing real estate or renting a home (Birmingham, AL or beyond), it is pertinent that you have a good credit score – this is especially true in today’s real estate market.

Your credit score tells the lender or the property owner a lot about you, including your tendency to pay your bills on time. The higher your credit score is, the lower the risk the bank, landlord, or property manager has to take when accepting your application.

The first step in increasing your credit score is to obtain a copy of your credit report so that you know your starting point. Fortunately, you can get three free credit reports each year. These reports are provided by TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax.

When you receive the report, you will get a credit score ranging from 300 to 850. Although lenders do not have a specific cutoff score, the higher the credit score the better.

Understanding Your Credit Score

Your credit score is essentially broken down into five categories, each having a different weight. The categories are as follows:

Payment History – 35%

Credit Utilization – 30%

Length of Credit History – 15%

Types of Credit Used – 10%

Recent Search for Credit / Obtained Credit – 10%

Tips for Increasing Your Credit Score

Now that you know how your credit score is calculated, what can you do to increase your credit score over time (this is not an overnight process)?

Pay your bills on time, every time

Pay down your current debt

Avoid applying for a lot of new things that require a credit check at once

Apply for a credit card and use it lightly if you do not already have one

Check your credit score at least twice a year to make sure you are not a victim of identity theft

At the end of the day, the most effective way to increase your credit score is to pay your bills on time, reduce the amount of debt you have, and keep a check on your credit report to ensure accuracy.

If you are looking for a rental home in Birmingham, AL or a property manager, then contact gkhouses.com today at 205.940.6363.

Birmingham Real Estate: Decline in Foreclosures


Matthew Whitaker - Monday, July 8, 2013

When looking at local real estate markets, observing the foreclosure rate can be telling. For example, when foreclosure activity and the number of distressed properties on the market are high, home prices tend to be lower. On the other hand, as these discount homes leave the market, prices of homes tend to rise.

Investors in particular have been taking advantage of the high foreclosure rate over the last few years, turning many of these cheap properties into Birmingham, AL rental homes – allowing them to start to see an immediate return on their investment. However, as the number of homes entering into the foreclosure process declines and there are fewer distressed properties on the market, home prices are increasing and investors are having to compete with others in an effort to get these properties that are listed below market value while they are still around.

According to CoreLogic, foreclosure and delinquency rates both declined from April 2012 to the same month this year. However, unlike many other areas throughout the country with incredibly high decreases, the Birmingham real estate market is recovering – albeit more slowly than some other hot housing markets throughout the country.

Rise in Home Sales for the Birmingham Area

In addition to the decline in foreclosure rates, home sales have increased significantly for the Birmingham area so far this year. Specifically, residential home sales increased 20.4% from May 2012 to May 2013 – a nice increase that shows definite signs of recovery.

What, exactly, does this information mean for investors? In short, it is still a great time to buy investment properties – especially if you are looking to place the home on the market as a rental property and wait out the housing market recovery before selling the home.

Fortunately, if you do not want to be a landlord, then you can always call upon Birmingham property managers to manage the property for you. If you are looking for a property manager for your Birmingham rental home, then contact gkhouses.com today at 205.940.6363.

Tips for Finding Birmingham Rental Homes


Matthew Whitaker - Sunday, July 7, 2013

Are you looking for Birmingham rental homes and tips to help you find the best properties to meet your needs? If so, you have come to the right place.

Renting a home is more involved than most people think. For example, you can find a property that has your desired number of bedrooms and bathrooms but quickly find out that it is located in an area of town that you prefer not to live. Similarly, you may find the perfect Birmingham rental home in an ideal location, and discover that you are not allowed to have pets – yet you have two dogs and a cat.

Finding the right rental property is not always as easy as you would think, and that is where these helpful tips come into play.

Tip #1: Search Online

One of the best ways to find a property to meet your needs is to search for properties online. There is a variety of properties in the Birmingham area and knowing where to look to narrow down your search is an important piece of the puzzle.

For example, if you are looking for a home that you can rent for less than $800, then you can specifically search for Birmingham, AL rental homes below $800. With online searches, you can even tailor your search to the city, number of bedrooms, number of bathrooms, etc.

In short, when looking for a rental home, start your search online.

Tip #2: Work with a Real Estate Agent or Property Management Company

Along with searching online, one of the best ways to find out about rental properties is to work with a professional who is very familiar with the area. Many times real estate agents are aware of rental properties (or can connect you with people who specialize in helping people finding rental homes) and property management companies can also help you find rentals homes and even condos.

Tip #3: Know What You Want But Be Prepared to Be Flexible

Make sure you also know what you want and are able to communicate that to the professional who is helping you find a new place to call home. However, be prepared to be flexible. Create a list of deal breakers, but be prepared to bend on some of your expectations. Renting a home is not the same as buying a new home – sometimes you have to settle in order to get a rent price that fits within your budget.

If you are looking for a rental home in Birmingham, AL then contact gkhouses.com and allow us to help you find a rental property in the area to meet your needs. Visit our website today at www.gkhouses.com.

Birmingham Real Estate: June Update


Matthew Whitaker - Monday, July 1, 2013

When it comes to Birmingham, AL real estate, it is essential for everyone from investors and potential homebuyers to current residents to remain up-to-date on what is happening. The information is relevant for investors wondering if they should be renting out their Birmingham, AL investment property and to homeowners wondering if now is a good time to sell a home. At the same time, it is good to keep up with new community developments for those already living in the area.

What, exactly, is going on in the local real estate market?

Rise in Home Sales

One of the best ways to gauge the current real estate market’s strength and its progress toward recovery is to look at home sales. In May, home sales totaled $296,177,859, which is a 29% increase from April of this year. Furthermore, this number is also a 31% increase from May 2012. This information reveals that confidence in the local real estate market is rising.

Increase in Local Projects

In addition to the increase in home sales, there has also been progress in residential project plans for both Jefferson and Shelby counties. Specifically, there has been a 40% increase in residential building permits for these two counties in comparison to 2012. This information coupled with the rise in new homes sales is exceptional news that points to improving real estate markets and local economies for Jefferson and Shelby counties.

Homewood’s New Recreation Center Progress Update At the same time, Homewood’s new recreation center is making progress. The project started in February with a projected cost totaling $16.2 million. The addition of this new recreation center – once completed – could go a long way to help increase nearby property values, which may be of interest to Birmingham, AL investors.

In conclusion, everything from the local real estate market to the economic outlook is definitely improving.

If you are a property owner that is looking for property managers in Birmingham, AL, then call upon gkhouses.com – allow us to manage the day-to-day aspects of your rental properties. Call us today at 205.940.6363.