Financing Your Way To Retirement

Rest assured, there are more people just like you. Financing can be frightening.The goal of this article is to show you some real life examples of people just like you who found the success they dreamed of, by selecting the financing option best for them.

All of the following are true stories.

A HELOC is a mortgage loan, usually in a subordinate position, that allows the borrower to obtain multiple advances of the loan proceeds at his or her own discretion up to an amount that represents a specified percentage of the borrower’s equity in a property.

Owning your own home provides you with your first source of creative financing via a home equity line of credit.

Case Study

When Greg first thought of investing in real estate, his first order of business was to buy a home. Greg knew that this was a huge first step in unlocking his investment potential. He found a home that he knew had great rental cash flow potential. Because he intended to use this home as his primary residence until he found the next one, Greg was able to lock in a great financing rate. He then took out a home equity line of credit for $10,000 and used that money as a down payment on his next real estate investment. He moved into the new one and then rented his original home. Greg continued this process over and over, and in two short years, his rentals were cash flowing over $2,800 a month.

Even though traditional lenders disapprove of using Borrowed Funds as down payments, using credit card funds works well with seller financing or lease options.

Case Study

Liz found a home for sale with an asking price of $60,000. The seller was willing to carry the financing with only $3,000 down. After analyzing the property’s expenses and potential income, Liz knew that the home would produce a $200 per month positive cash flow. She wanted to take advantage of the easy seller financing, but she did not have $3,000 saved up for the down payment. She was about to give up on the deal when she remembered the Visa card that she kept for emergencies. It had a credit limit of $4,000, but the cash advance limit was only $2,000. She decided to be assertive and call the Visa company to see if there was anything else she could do. She told them that she needed a $3,000 cash advance and requested a limit increase. They sent her a check for $3,000, which she used as the down payment to purchase the property.

A Lease Option agreement can give you the option to sublet the property and realize instant cash flow. When you sign a lease option agreement for this purpose, make sure that the contract doesn’t restrict you from subletting the property. Because you have signed the lease, you are the lessee or the renter. By re-renting the property, you are subletting.

Case Study

Terry was unable to obtain bank financing due to the unpaid credit obligations that appeared on his credit report. He was determined to not let his poor credit stop him from investing in real estate. Instead of offering to purchase a seller’s property right away, he asked the sellers to agree to a lease option. He was able to obtain lease options on five properties in the course of two years. It was a good deal for the sellers of the property because they didn’t have to worry about the costs to own the homes, and they knew that at the end of the agreed term, they would have a buyer for the property. It was a good deal for Terry because he was able to cash flow $200 per month from each property. He applied this money to his unpaid credit obligations until they were paid in full. By the end of the lease option term, Terry’s credit was in good standing. He purchased the properties with bank financing for the amounts he had previously agreed upon. The real estate market had risen since he first initiated the lease options, so he also earned some additional equity due to the appreciation.

Seller financing is a great way for someone to sell their property if they do not need a lump sum of cash, are not interested in using the profit to purchase more real estate investments and want to avoid large capital gains tax. When you are out there buying real estate and making a name for yourself as an investor, deals will come to you whether you are looking or not. It is not uncommon for an investor to purchase more properties from a previous seller.

Case Study

Luke saved up $5,000 that he used as a down payment to purchase one of Don’s rental properties. Don seller financed the remainder at a 7 percent interest rate. Luke ran the property well and cash flowed $300 per month from it. Because Don did not realize all of his profit from the sale immediately, his capital gains tax burden was lessened. He also enjoyed the monthly cash flow the properties still produced for him without the obligations of ownership. Don owned 10 other rental properties that he wanted to sell with seller financing as well. Because his experience selling to Luke had been a positive one, he offered the properties to her first. He was interested in purchasing all of the properties but he did not have an additional $5,000 per property for a down payment. Because Luke had already established a track record with Don, he decided to sell the properties to her with no down payment and seller financing at 7 percent. Luke averaged another $300 per property per month in positive cash flow.

Not all loans permit a seller to sell his property without paying off the existing financing. Most loans have a Due on Sale Clause that gives the lender the right to call the loan due if the seller sells his property. Be careful that you understand the terms of the existing financing when buying a property “subject to” the current liens. If the lender calls the property due, you usually have 30 days to obtain new financing. You want to make sure that you would be prepared if this were to happen.

Case Study

Todd was interested in purchasing a property, but the current interest rates were so high that after analyzing the property’s expenses and income, he realized that the property would produce a negative cash flow. Todd knew that the seller had a loan on the property with an interest rate of only 6 percent. With a rate this low, the property would produce a positive cash flow of $300 per month. He made an offer to the seller to purchase the property subject to the existing financing. The balance on the loan was $20,000 less than what the seller was asking for and Todd only had $10,000 cash that he got from an equity loan on his primary residence. He also offered to use this $10,000 as a down payment and for the seller to carry a second mortgage on the property for the remaining $10,000 at 6 percent interest. The seller preferred to sell his home outright, but he knew that due to the current interest rates it would be a hard sale. He agreed to Todd’s offer for a term of 10 years. This gave Todd ten years to obtain new financing that would pay off the first and second mortgages. Three years later, interest rates had decreased dramatically. Todd refinanced his property, and the seller was paid off in full.

One-hundred-percent financing can easily be obtained when you combine two loans to purchase a primary residence. However, lenders usually want to see at least 5 percent of the investor’s own funds used when purchasing a non-owner-occupied property. An investor’s own funds do not need to be cash savings; it can come from an equity loan on another property of the investor’s.

Case Study

Gary wanted to get started investing in real estate by purchasing his first home. He had good credit but no cash for a down payment. Gary’s loan officer helped him find 100 percent financing without private mortgage insurance obligations. The loan officer combined an 80 percent LTV first mortgage with a 20 percent LTV second mortgage. Because neither of the loans was solely above 80 percent LTV, their lenders did not require Gary to take out private mortgage insurance. He was also able to avoid coming into close with extra cash for the bank fees and closing costs by negotiating these fees with the seller through the sales contract.

Principal is not being paid off with interest-only loans. However, the investor may still be building equity due to appreciation

Case Study

Sam owned 10 rentals that produced $2,000 in cash flow. His goal was to retire from his 60-hour-a-week job and start spending time with his family. He needed a total monthly cash flow of $6,000 to retire. The interest rates had gone down since he had purchased his properties, so he hoped that by refinancing them he would be much closer to his goal. After meeting with his loan officer, they determined that the new rates with a fixed 30-year amortized loan would increase his monthly cash flow by another $2,000. This was exciting to Sam, but it still would not be enough income to retire. His loan officer then ran the numbers using an interest-only loan and was able to increase the monthly cash flow to a total of $6,500. Because Sam was more interested in creating cash flow than equity, he decided to refinance his properties with the interest only loan and retire from his exhausting job. The smaller payments of the interest only loan helped Sam reach his goal of financial freedom more quickly.

Our team’s diverse backgrounds and investing experiences include a high school teacher, a college drop-out, an MBA graduate, a waiter, a secretary, a real estate agent, a banker and a stay-at-home mom. Despite our diverse backgrounds, we all made the decision to truly change our lives. Although our starting points couldn’t have been any more different, we each discovered that our journey toward financial freedom began with real estate.

Final Fantasy 3 – When Magic Disappeared Forever

Ages ago, evil beings created powerful creatures called Espers, and unleashed them against each other. The resulting battles left their world a smoldering rubble. Legend has it, the Espers destroyed themselves and most of humanity. Magic disappeared forever.

Centuries have passed and a rational world now exists with Espers living only in myths, until one frozen solid since the ancient wars is unearthed. Suddenly, there are reports of magical attacks on civilians. Imperial Commandos launch raids using magic powered MagiTek weapons. Magic is obviously alive and the world is in danger again. Who or what is behind the rediscovery and redeployment of this legendary power? What chaotic plans exists that will wreak havoc on this orderly world?

Final Fantasy III is one of what many consider to be the classics for RPG genre games. Released as Final Fantasy III for the SNES in 1994, it is actually the 6th installment of the immensely popular Final Fantasy series produced by Squaresoft. The game takes place about 1000 years following the ending of a great war called “The War of the Magi” which removed magic from the face of the world.

It is a typical turn based RPG with the player having control of over 15 playable characters each one with his or her own strengths and weaknesses and different fighting styles and stories to tell. The main character is a young half-human, half-Esper girl whom is trying to find her place in a world torn asunder by war. The main villain in the story is one of the most colorful villains in the Final Fantasy series, a rather funny clown named Kefka.

Joining forces with him are a few other military style villains with lesser roles and even a few NPCs who get involved. There are many plot twists that include cut scenes involving characters that allow the player to have a “real-time” feel with the story. The characters have “expressions” that while being very basic, convey the general theme of each scene to the player. In my opinion, this game is perfect for the player who wants to see some of the best the SNES had to offer in terms of RPGs.

Gameplay:

As far as games for the SNES go, there are only 1 or 2 other games as engrossing as Final Fantasy III. All of the elements that make the other games in the series enjoyable are here. The player can rename all of the characters in the game including the ever present summons (called Espers in FFIII).

There are a multitude of side quests in the game that vary in difficulty from easy to difficult in terms of time and involvement to complete, and the level of commitment necessary to complete the game can vary between 25 hours. To just finish the core storyline of the game, can be up to 100 hours give or take. This is if you want to obtain what is called a “complete” gaming experience meaning gathering all of the most powerful weapons, armor, and magic, and also leveling characters up to maximum levels.

The only reason the game is not getting a 10 rating in this department is the fact that while leveling characters is not a problem in the beginning and middle of the game, once a character reaches the higher levels (above 60) it becomes a very time consuming, tedious process to level up the character sometimes taking hours upon hours to raise a character just one level. This I would say is the main common problem with RPGs of this era. But, if you do not mind that sort of monotony, this game is for you.

The characters in Final Fantasy 3 offer a host of clever individual attacks. Each character has his or her own special talents and the player can choose to utilize each character’s talents or can just ignore them. An essential part of each Final Fantasy is magic, and this game is no exception. There are a multitude of magics available to the player to use, each one learned from equipping certain Espers.

The longer an Esper is equipped, the more magic is obtained from the Esper and once the learning curve for the Esper reaches 100%, all of the magic available from that Esper is learned. Some magic is able to be learned from two to four Espers, while other magic may only be learned from one specific Esper. This makes Esper use a conscionable thought process. The player must plan their use of Espers in order to learn the needed spells.

Graphics:

Again, I am comparing this to other SNES games. This game is 2-D. Plain and simple. It features a 3/4 overhead view 90% of the time and also features an overworld which has since been all but removed from most RPGs. The graphics were considered state of the art in 1994 when this game was released. There are rich color textures and some very good use of the Mode-7 graphics capabilities of the SNES in both scaling and rotation which are show cased especially when the characters use the airship for transportation.

As far as actual graphic renderings are concerned, the game is 2-D, so if you are expecting to see walking, talking, fully rendered 3-D you are out of luck. In scenes where the graphics are made to be inflated or close up, they become pixilated the larger they become. These problems aside, the graphics for its day, when compared to other games out at the time, were considered to be very quite advanced.

Sound Quality:

Here’s where the game shines. The score is enormous! Created by the world-renowned Nobuo Uematsu, there are at least 100 different songs in the game (including renditions of the main theme) and also includes a scene with one of the earliest examples of voiced “singing” in video games. The songs feature 128 note polyphony and a beautifully detailed musical story. Because the game’s dialogue is text based, the music allows the player to get involved on a more emotional level with this game and the characters than many other games out at the time.

There is a great combination of deep bass, singing strings, and synthesized keyboards to keep the listener enthralled and engaged throughout the game. There are very few songs that last less than five minutes without repeating so the player never really gets the boring monotonous feeling that usually accompanies games from the SNES.

Replay Value:

There are very few games that can be left to sit for years on a shelf and then picked up and played again with the same level of commitment and enjoyment as Final Fantasy III. The game is just as much fun the every other time through as it was the first time through. As a matter of fact, with all of the side quests and obtainable items, weapons, armor, and magic, the game could possibly be one of the hardest RPG’s created for the SNES to obtain a “perfect” or 100 percent complete game. There are always ways to expand the difficulty of the game and make each play through a unique experience.

Concept:

Not exactly the most cutting edge in gaming, this game has the very familiar “fight the monsters and gain levels before fighting the final boss and saving the world” theme. While the Action RPG gamer will find this game very repetitive, the fan of the Turn Based style RPG gamer will love it.

Having a female as the main character in the game is a concept that was not used very much prior to Final Fantasy III. This seemed to be a risky idea but Square pulled it off flawlessly. Also, with all of the other characters in the game, the stories unfold rather nicely for each character. This adds to the depth of the game as well as the entertainment concept.

Overall:

If you are a fan of the Final Fantasy series, a collector of vintage games, or a person who is interested in getting involved in the series but is worried about the complexity of the newer Final Fantasy titles, this game is for you. Final Fantasy III is great for the “old-school” player and the “newbie” alike. It has a great story, great sound, and WILL take over your life for a few days if you let it. The characters are original, have many different abilities to use, and have emotions that make playing this game really great.

The NPCs seem to have more of an impact in this game as opposed to most and the main characters are some of the most imaginative I’ve ever come across. The towns are sprawling, the graphics are engaging, and the sound is rich and vibrant. The story unfolds well, and from the opening scene, most players are hooked. The enemies are varied and numerous and the bosses difficult while not being impossible. I highly recommend this game to anyone who owns a SNES.

5 Video Games You Should Play Before You Die

5.) Halo 3 (2007)
Why: The Halo series is one of a kind. It brought friends together to blast one another in an epic space combat. Halo 3 is perhaps the best of the series when it came to the glorified multiplayer, with a dramatic storyline with absolutely no shortage of opera music cues and a hardy character customization. Many titles still try and replicate what Halo did and it just can’t be matched.

4.) Minecraft (2011)
Why: Minecraft is one of the best-selling video games of all time, so you would have to be living under a rock as a gamer to have never come across it. You get to create your own world basically and do whatever you want. If you think it, then you can create it. The nice thing about Minecraft is it is offered on almost every platform, including smartphones. This game is good for letting your mind wander and become an artist.

3.) Super Mario 64 (1996)
Why: Mario is one of the most known titles, but anyone can tell you this might be the best game in the franchise. The game is not like any of its predecessors because this was the first 3D platform game in the series. It is a bigger world than the ones before and the additional moves and jumps Mario can do makes the game fast-paced and more exciting. There are a total of 120 stars and the game has a ton of replay value. Mario platformers are still being made today and none of them still cannot come close to how good this game was.

2.) Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (1998)
Why: Everyone has their favorite Zelda game, but Ocarina of Time encompasses the best features from the glorified series. There is a huge world that you have the freedom to explore, a magnificent score, and a truly remarkable origin story. The dungeons are not too challenging, but intricate enough to not get too mad when you can’t figure a puzzle out.

1.) Pokémon X and Y (2013)
Why: Whether you are a kid or an adult, with this franchise that never seemed to matter. Pokémon revolutionized what it meant to make characters like Pikachu come alive. They modernized the handheld multiplayer gaming and made it what it is today. X and Y is one of the newer titles, which is great because the game never stops using the old characters the adults grew up on.

Game Review – Fire Pro Wrestling Returns

The North America release of Fire Pro Wrestling Returns was November the Thirteenth. That’s a little over two years after the Japanese release. Having spent about two solid weeks with the game in my possession, I think I am able to give a non bias review. I am a long time fan of this series, but I can still recognize it’s faults. How does Fire pro Wrestling Returns stack up against the more popular competition? Where to start…

There are no drastic changes to the core Fire Pro game play. It’s the same solid grappling system long time fans have grown accustomed to. Those who are new to Fire Pro will need to spend some time getting used to the timing. The fighting system punishes button mashers. I would advice newbies to set COM difficulty to 1 and work their way up to a harder level. This is one of those games where appreciation is only gained after learning the ins and outs.

The series’ trademark features are tight game play and a huge roster. FPR boasts a total of 327 real life competitors. To avoid copyright issues, everyone has been given a name modification. Vader is named “Saber”, Kenta Kobashi is “Keiji Togashi”, etc. Feel free to rename everyone accordingly. You also have the option of changing the attire for default characters. You don’t have to sacrifice one of your 500 edit(CAW) slots when your favorite wrestler changes gimmicks.

FPR’s all-star roster features wrestlers, boxers and mixed martial artists from around the world. Puroresu legends like Giant Baba, Satoru Sayama(original Tiger Mask) and Jushin “Thunder” Lyger are selecible. As always the default roster is dominated by Puro wrestlers. Some of the fighters well known to American wrestling/UFC fans include Bret Hart, Sting, Andre the Giant, Petey Williams, Mirco Cro Cop and Quinton “Rampage” Jackson.

A new addition to the series is a “corner to center” attack. When your opponent is knocked down in the middle of the ring, you can hunker down in the corner to set up a spear, super kick or a few other maneuvers. This adds a bit more drama and accuracy to matches that feature characters who set up these attacks a certain way. Because of this new feature, you can create an accurate Shawn Michaels or Bill Goldberg if you were inclined to do so.

A traditional steel cage match has finally been added. Players can use weapons like barbed wire bats, or the cage it’s self to inflict pain upon others. Other match types include S-1(boxing, punches only), Gruesome( a 12 sided UFC inspired cage) and the Electrified Barbed Wire Exploding Deathmatch. While the has Hell in a Cell, The Japanese hardcore wrestlers hurl each other on electrified boards covered in skin shredding barbed wired. It’s different, but fun none the less

Buzz worthy features include Ref edit, Belt Edit, and Ring/Logo Edit. There is a GM mode called “Match Maker”, but is it very limited. All you do is set up matches between fighters and get graded by the percentage of crowd reaction of the match. There strange special events that happen during match maker do very little to expand beyond it’s limitations. For some inconceivable reason, created wrestlers are barred from use in Match Maker.

Presentation is nothing special. Menus are serviceable, but accessing some features can be a chore at times FPR’s 2D graphics remind me of arcade games like Wrestlefest. Character sprites are not hi resolution, but they are large and detailed. Spike could have easily recycled graphics from Fire Pro Wrestling Z. They instead created new sprites and reanimated some pre existing moves. Some animations seem a bit robotic, but are pretty smooth.

I’m sad to say Spike has once again mapped the pick up weapons button to the run button. Want to get a fluorescent tube from the corner while playing in an exploding barbed wire match? Make sure you are close enough to said tubes. Otherwise you’ll go running into the barbed wire ropes, thus end up looking like a complete fool. It doesn’t ruin the game or anything, but such neglect of the R2 button has me dumbfounded. Overall that is one of my biggest gripes with FPR.

I don’t give numeric scores or grades in my reviews. If I were the type to do that, Fire Pro Wrestling Returns would probably receive a 91. It’s the best in the series, but like any other game it has flaws. Even so called classic games that get perfect scores from other reviewers have a few faults or glitches. I recommend this game to anyone who is into pro wrestling or the UFC. You don’t have to be into Puro to like FPR, the unique game play and customization options are more than enough to peak ones interest.