With the Current Stock Market Malaise, Investment in Phoenix Real Estate Makes Even More Sense | Real Estate

The Phoenix residential real estate market represents a great opportunity to individuals, families, and investors who are weary about the stock market and are realizing that their investment portfolios are too exposed to fluctuations in Wall Street. By now, the reality has sunk in with most people – the stock market’s decline has hit 401K and other retirement investments hard. As a result, this is a critical time to for individuals, families, and investors to rethink diversification of their portfolios again. Portfolios need to be more highly diversified than ever before.And it’s time to rethink real estate as one component of your diversification in the future in addition to stocks, bonds, commodities, international investment, and low-risk savings instruments, to name a few.Wall Street, Main Street, and My Street, and Real EstateThere is no doubt that the goings-on in the real estate industry are intermingled with the market challenges that Wall Street is facing, which in turn impacts Main Street and “My Street.” But the issues with real estate largely emanated from the many corporations that make up Wall Street combined with lack of government oversight and inaction. Lack of personal discretion also contributed to the problem.Having said that, here is why real estate should be a component in your investment portfolio once again, and why the Phoenix real estate market is an excellent choice for investment to help you diversify that portfolio.First, due to the wave of foreclosure-related properties, prices have declined to 2004 and even 2003 pricing levels. This is pricing that is pre-run up. Though there is a risk that prices may drop further, the extent of a further decline may be limited in the short term while the long term outlook gradually gets stronger.Second, real estate can prove to be a more reliable investment in a normal market environment. Prior to the run-up in home valuations in the second half of 2004 through 2005, annual home appreciation in the Phoenix residential real estate market averaged 5%-6% . Playing the long game as investors should, holding a property for 5-20 years could yield a solid return.Long term is key here. The investor has to be committed to a lower but steady return on their investment when it comes to real estate. The Phoenix housing market will not likely experience a meteoric rise in valuations like it did again. That’s not to say that there won’t be some opportunities to turn properties fast (whether through acquisition at a foreclosure auction or wholesale, or a flip), but this model will have the high risk that most investors will and should shy away from.One note here. At least in the Phoenix area, investors have to weigh the merits of investments in homes and real estate by several components to get a true picture of the return on a property. These factors are growth in appreciation, rental income and offsets, tax benefits, and equity paydown and buildup.Third, real estate is real. You can see it. You can touch it. You can check up on it (if you buy locally). And it will always hold some intrinsic value no matter what happens. If you have a home in Chandler, it is easy to get across the Phoenix area, to check up on an investment property in Glendale. Or, perhaps the investment property you choose is right next door to your home in Tempe.Fourth, under certain circumstances, real estate taxation on capital gains growth can be minimal. The same cannot be said of many other investment vehicles.Fifth, an investor has much more control in determining the value of the property. Smart improvements and renovations combined with effective property management can increase the value of the property substantially.Sixth, the Phoenix area continues to grow. The Valley saw a 2.8% increase in the number of residents here last year. This trend will continue as Phoenix and surrounding areas are perceived as a stable, optimum climate to live and to work. With the decline in real estate prices, this perception will also be reinforced by a sense that Phoenix and surrounding areas are once again affordable.Finally, real estate can serve a dual investment/personal objective. For instance, an investment in real estate can serve as a later gift for children. Or, it can be utilized as a sort of savings plan for children’s college tuition as a complement to 529s and Coverdell plans. The investment could be a retirement property for later in life. Real estate investments can also be used to create income streams to live off of (when rents and equity buildup eventually turn the property cash-flow positive).There are numerous reasons to invest in real estate even beyond this list.Real Estate Has A Role to Play in Your Investment PortfolioThe difficult truth about the stock market is that over the past eight years, the U.S. economy has seen two major disruptions or recessions that were severe enough to have rippling effects for all Americans as seen by the decline in 401K and other retirement savings values. As a result, further diversification of investment portfolios is needed across many different asset classes with a regional focus as well.Real estate should be one of those classes. Given real estate has seen real substantial pricing declines over the last three years to levels seen before the run-up period, one has to consider that there are real deals in the marketplace for real estate. Coupled with the right long-term outlook and commitment to investment fundamentals, real estate can have a more effectual, countervailing purpose in investment portfolios that can help Americans better weather substantial market disruptions in the future. For investors looking for specific markets that may be worthwhile to investigate, real estate in the Phoenix area is a compelling choice.
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DIY Travel Should Save You Money | Travel

Travellers or Travelers today, whether experienced or not, have unlimited choices, so why use a travel agent?Savvy travellers or travelers, when in need of information relating to specific destinations or activities, seek out travel agents with knowledge, experience and expertise of those destinations and activities.It is not always easy choosing a travel agent. Many agents are called specialists, but sometimes the qualification to be a specialist is a simple test run by a tourism office or tour operator. Sometimes, these tests do not require the agent to have ‘been there, done that, got the t-shirt.’ Some of these tests are too simple and could harm the reputation of the travel industry if allowed to continue unchecked. A ‘specialist’ can mean, ‘I know the brochure product’ or ‘I have seen a training video’ or ‘I have taken a test given by a Tourism Office.’If you find a specialist, ask about their expertise. Ask them if they or their colleagues have any direct knowledge, experience and expertise of where you want to go and what you want to do, after all, it is your hard-earned money.Experts are out there. Find them locally or use the internet and then do your bookings with them. You may have to use different experts for different destinations and activities, just as you would select any other professional for accounting, legal, medical or mechanical matters, except in your lifetime you will probably (or hopefully) spend more on travel than all of the others put together.
Reality Check: “I once tried a major chain of travel centres to get 2 tickets to Mexico from Canada. I was only offered 2 airlines. I then used an internet search and came up with 5 airlines and made my bookings online. Perhaps the travel centre did not earn commission or was not able to charge a fee for the booking or did not want an ‘air only’ booking or did they only offer their ‘preferred products’ which limits client choices?”The NomadIf you do not need an expert agent you can use the internet to find all kinds of global travel choices and then you can make your booking directly with an online agent or travel operator. If you decide to make your own bookings directly with the travel operator you should not have to pay the full retail price which has a built-in amount for commissions to be paid to sellers of their travel products. Retail agencies that have their own in-house tour products which are sold through other agencies should also be prepared to sell at a net price for a direct booking from a consumer.It is only fair that agents and agencies earn commissions and fees from travel providers such as hotels, lodges, tours, cruises or mark up their own tour products to allow for a third-party sale. They all have overheads which have to be covered to give local consumers the convenience of local shopping and it is important to support your local businesses as long as they offer excellent pricing and service. At the same time, it is only fair that consumers who make their own bookings directly with travel operators should not have to incur this extra cost. Fair fare prices should be available for consumers who want to handle their own direct bookings.If you are comfortable with dealing over the internet directly with the travel providers and you want to get fair fare prices you can check out a travel website that was launched in April 2008 that, for members only, offers free travel vouchers that saves them the commission or fee elements in retail travel prices. The site offers thousands of travel vouchers for travel in over 70 countries ranging from simple B&B accommodations to complex adventure travel, all at net of commission prices. This travel site is operated by an online travel club that does not sell travel or make reservations and all monies therefore, are handled directly between the members and the travel operators.The internet has just about everything a traveller or even a traveler could want, whereas agents and agencies can only offer limited selections of brochures from travel providers and operators. There are thousands of travel businesses that never get to see the inside of a travel agency or brochure, but they would still be prepared to pay commissions to sellers of their products. This online travel club allows travel businesses to promote their products and services at no cost except the requirement to issue travel vouchers that represent the normal commissions and fees in the retail price. 100% of these savings are then passed on to members who do their own direct bookings. As a member, all travel vouchers are free but if you do not want to join there is an associated website that sells the same travel vouchers without requiring a membership fee.A tip from the website. When you make your own direct bookings, do make sure that the time in the time-zone that you are calling is appropriate as “it is embarrassing to wake up a Greek Sea Captain at one in the morning somewhere in the Greek Islands to discuss their listing.” The Nomad at The Top Travel Club.This site is continually adding new travel selections and as long as you are comfortable and prepared to be a D.I.Y. Traveller or D.I.Y. Traveler over the web, you might find some interesting trips and adventures, some of which are not readily available elsewhere.In closing, I hope you find the little bits of attempted English language humour humorous and as I consider myself 1 L of a Traveler, I say 2 L with travellers but at last I am happy to have found a web travel centre centered around saving me money. Apologies to both Websters and Oxford dictionaries.
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