Forex Trading Guide

October 6, 2006

Like many people I am sure you are interested to know more about Forex trading. To put it bluntly Forex trading can be either one the best ways to make or lose LOTS of money. Only those who take the Forex market seriously will be able to make money with it in the long term.

The Forex trading market is beyond a doubt the world’s largest market where all exchanges happen instantaneously. Thus, trades are a key challenge for even the most knowledgeable Forex bankers and traders. They have to learn and consider many factors before performing even a single trade.

At first when currencies began to be traded openly, only large banks were allowed to perform trades. These days, due to the advent of internet trading and margin accounts almost anybody can begin Forex trading. This in turn, has added to the liquidity of the Forex market, and has resulted in a huge increase in the number of individuals who are now active in the market.

So, does this mean it is easy to earn money through Forex trading? To answer this we must consider a few things.

Some data by Forex brokers seems to suggest that 90 percent of traders end up of losing their capital, 5 percent of traders have been able to break even and only 5 percent of them attain steady beneficial results. Thus, it seems that trading successfully is no simple task.

However, if you can learn to be among the 5 percent who make consistent money you can do extremely well by using Forex trading. To help you in this end I have listed five key ways to improve your odds dramatically of making money in the Forex market.

1. Education

Successful traders are knowledgeable about the Forex market. They have chosen to educate themselves about every single vital detail of Forex trading. The best traders know that every trade that they perform is an opportunity to learn something new.

2. Forex Trading System

All of the profitable traders have a Forex trading system or strategy. Furthermore, they have the will power to stick strictly to that system, because the best traders know that by sticking with their system they stand a far greater chance of earning money.

3. Price Behavior

Knowledgeable and successful traders also include price behavior in their systems. They have learned that prices can change quickly and suddenly but are prepared to deal with those situations when they arrive.

4. Trading Psychology

First-rate traders are aware of psychological issues that affect the choices of other traders make when Forex trading. They know that people do not always act rationally, and as a result this can alter the expected outcome of a trade. This can help them both when deciding to enter into a trade or when to exit.

5. Money Management

This is far and away the most important factor that will determine whether or not you become a successful trader. Averting the hazard of financial ruin is the main concern of all top traders. This means both adequately funding your trading account (only with money you can afford to live without of course) and never entering into trades that can potentially wipe out all of your assets. Better to start trading small and always use stop-loss orders to guarantee that your first trades are not also your last.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of everything you need to know but it outlines some of the areas you need to consider before making even that first trade. Now you know that it is not easy to earn money in the Forex market, however it is achievable.

However, success does not happen overnight and anyone promising you that it can is trying to sell you snake oil. It is an ongoing processes not something you pick up in a weekend. Trading success depends on the trader, and how hard you are willing to work to achieve your Forex trading goals.

Also, remember to try to have some fun. The clearest sign that Forex trading is not for you is if you find the prospect of learning about how the Forex market works boring or dull. If this is the case you won’t stick with it long enough to make money and you will be among the 90 percent who fail. Just remember these three important things: be disciplined in your trading habits, manager your money wisely and enjoy the experience of Forex trading.

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The Dangers Of Highly Leveraged Trading In Forex

October 6, 2006

If you are a forex trader considering one of these ‘400-1 leverage’ offers, you should first know:

1. The rules of the game you are about to play.

2. About leverage in Forex and how it works, not for you, but for the broker.

Here is how it works:

Leverage can be beneficial but it can be your worst enemy. 400-1 means that US$1000 can control a $400,000 position say against the Yen. This is great but it also means that even a small move against your position can wipe your account clean. This is obviously very bad news for you but great news for the broker!

Why Is It Great News For Them?

Well, the first thing that traders must realise is that Forex firms make their own markets – they make the bid-offer price to clients. They use the assumption that as most highly leveraged speculators lose then it’s good business to take the opposite position to them.

This is done automatically, so when a client buys Dollars against the Yen, the broker sells short the Dollar. When the client covers the position (either for a profit or loss) the broker is taken out also. If the client wins the broker loses and vice-versa. This is how the leverage game is played.

So, who do you think usually wins in this game? No, not you. It’s the broker. It’s a statistics game and the statistics say highly leveraged speculators lose.

Ok then. If the brokers stand to gain when a client loses, what is the best way to make sure that the clients lose Bigtime?

Easy, let them trade huge positions on a limited amount of capital so that the odds even for the best and most talented traders are pretty much – ZERO.

Why do you think that the ads of ‘400-1 leverage’ are splashed all over the brokers websites? They are selling you the supposed ‘benefit’ when in turn, the reality is that the only ‘benefit’ is to them.

Conclusion:

If you want to play the leverage game in forex, understand how the game works. The game basically works this way: The broker is the shark. The retail trader is shark food. If you are serious in your quest to make money currency trading – educate yourself on the risks involved.

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10 Tips for Successful Real Estate Property Investment

October 6, 2006

Just because real estate prices seem to have hit a temporary ceiling in many countries around the world, that doesn’t mean that profits from property investments are hard to come by.

Even during a real estate market slowdown, stagnation or depression profits can be made locally and overseas. This article shows you the top ten tips that real estate investors apply to their property portfolio building strategy to ensure success from their investments.

1) Research the curve – the concept of a property market cycle existing is not myth it’s a fact and is generally accepted to be based on a price-income relationship. Check the recent historical price data for properties in the area of the country you’re considering purchasing in and try to determine the overall feel in the market for prices currently. Are prices rising, are prices falling or have they reached a peak. You need to know where the curve of the property market cycle is at in your preferred investment area.

2) Get ahead of the curve – as a basic rule of thumb, professional real estate property investors seek to buy ahead of the curve. If a market is rising they will try and target up and coming areas, areas that are close to locations that have peaked, areas close to locations experiencing redevelopment or investment. These areas will most likely become ‘the next big thing’ and those who by in before the trend will stand to make the most gains. As a market is stagnating or falling many successful investors target areas that enjoyed the best levels of growth, yields and profits very early on in the previous cycle because these areas will most likely be the first areas to become profitable as the cycle begins turning towards positive once more.

3) Know your market – who are you buying property for? Are you buying to let to young executives, purchasing for renovation to resell to a family market or purchasing jet to let real estate for short term rental to holiday makers? Think about your market before you make a purchase. Know what they look for in a property and ensure that is what you are going to be offering them

4) Think further afield – there are emerging real estate property markets around the world where countries’ economies are going from strength to strength, where a growing tourism sector is pushing up demand or where constitutional legislation has been or is about to be changed to allow for foreign freehold ownership of property for example. Look further afield than your own back yard for your next property investment and diversify that real estate portfolio for maximum success.

5) Purchase price – set yourself a budget that will realistically allow you to purchase what you’re looking for and profit from that purchase either through capital gains or rental yield.

6) Entry costs – research fees, charges and all expenses you will incur when you buy your property – they differ from country to country and sometimes even from state to state. In Turkey for example you should add on an additional 5% of the purchase price for all fees, in Spain you will need to factor in an average of 10% and in Germany fees and charges can be in excess of 20%. Know how much you will have to incur and factor this amount into your budget to avoid any nasty surprises and to ensure your investment can become profitable.

7) Capital growth potential – what factors point to the potential profitability of your real estate property investment? If you’re looking overseas at an emerging market, which economic or social indicators exist to suggest that property prices will increase? If you’re buying to let out are there any indications to suggest that demand for rental accommodation will remain strong, increase or even decline? Think about what you want to achieve from your investment and then research and find out whether your expectations are realistic.

8) Exit costs – if you will incur substantial capital gains taxation liability if you sell your property investment for profit, will that render the investment profitless? In Spain a foreign buyer can incur up to 35% capital gains tax, in Turkey on the other hand property sales are capital gains tax free if the underlying real estate has been owned for four or more years.

9) Profit margins – what levels of capital growth can you realistically gain on your property investment or how much rental income can you generate? Work out these facts and then work backwards towards your initial budget to work out your potential profit margins. At all times you have to keep the bigger picture in mind to ensure that your real estate investment has good potential for profit.

10) Think long term – unless you’re buying property off plan and intending to flip it for resale and profit before completion you should view real estate investment as a long term investment. Real estate is a slow to liquidate asset, cash tied up in property is not simple to free up. Take a long term approach to your property portfolio and give your assets time to increase in value before cashing them in for profit.

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More return on equity

October 6, 2006

Few would deny that real estate is a solid investment. It provides an attractive combination of stability, reliable cash flow, preservation of principal and capital appreciation. However, many investment property owners nearing retirement find themselves in a quandary. They are equity rich, but cash poor, with increases in the value of their property far outpacing income growth. They also are often tied down by the day-to-day issues of property management and, particularly in cities like San Francisco, California, shackled to the constraints of rent (and eviction) control. In fact, San Francisco is home to some of the lowest cash return on equity in the state’s real estate marketplace, which is somewhat counter-intuitive given California’s ever-booming property market.

The obvious answer is to sell the property and unleash the dormant equity, but that can be problematic. These investors face the reality of prohibitive capital gains taxes and recaptured depreciation, as well as the task of identifying an alternate investment venue; or locating, acquiring and financing suitable replacement property in the time period allowed, taking advantage of tax deferral under IRS code section 1031.

An ideal solution for many investment property owners may be to reinvest the proceeds from the sale of their property and utilize a subsequent 1031 exchange into a tenancy-in-common (TIC) ownership type, also known as co-ownership of real estate (CORE) interest in a suitable replacement property.

1031 exchanges, also known as Starker exchanges or tax-deferred exchanges, permit owners to sell investment property and defer tax payments by reinvesting the proceeds into another investment property (or investment properties). In order to completely defer the payment of tax, among other things, the replacement property must be of equal or greater value and all the equity from the sold property must be reinvested in the new property. The marriage of 1031 exchange and TIC/CORE allows investors not only to defer their capital gains taxes but also to upgrade their investment real estate.

TIC/CORE is a way of sharing ownership of property among two or more persons whereby each tenant holds an undivided interest in the property. Tenants-in-common may own interests of differing sizes. TIC/CORE investors are on the title and considered separate owners of the real estate. They share pro rata in the income, tax benefits and appreciation of the property. Their TIC/CORE interest can be purchased, sold, gifted, bequeathed by will or inherited; and it is subject to property taxes, gift tax, and estate and inheritance taxes in the same manner as any property held in sole ownership. With a TIC/CORE property, each of up to thirty-five investors have the opportunity to own an undivided fractional ownership interest in an investment-grade property, such as an office building, shopping mall, apartment complex or industrial property, costing anywhere from $10 million to $150-plus million.

The benefits of investing in TIC/CORE properties are substantial. Such properties employ professional asset and property management, relieving the investor of day-to-day tenant headaches. More important, investors often receive greater cash flow and overall returns than they had in their previous sole ownership property. Typically, many people receive between 2-3 percent of their equity in their property in rental income. By selling this property and placing the equity into a larger investment-grade property, they can potentially experience annualized cash flow from 6-8 percent, paid monthly, and 12-16 percent overall return on their investment. Also compelling is that TIC/CORE exchange investors can diversify among several property types, and geographic locations through fractionalized ownership, while still enjoying 1031 exchange benefits on each amount. Thus, investors can potentially reduce risk in their overall real estate portfolio.

Investors seeking to exchange for a TIC/CORE property are best advised to work with a financial advisor experienced in 1031 exchanges. Such advisors work closely with top real estate providers, who give the investor access to the best properties available. In addition, many TIC/CORE opportunities have pre-arranged, non-recourse financing in place, which is perfect for investors working within the 1031 exchange time frame. Numerous hours of upfront investigation, evaluation, due diligence and life cycle planning transpires before a property is offered to an investor group. Investors faced with only a 45-day window to identify a suitable replacement property to complete a 1031 exchange can select a suitable project with confidence.

Given the tax deferral, institutional-grade quality of the property, professional property management and pre-arranged, non-recourse financing aspects, a 1031 exchange replacement property structured as tenancy-in-common ownership can be a very wise and profitable solution. It allows the investor to maintain everything they like about real estate (monthly income, preservation of principal, capital appreciation, etc.), while eliminating most of the hassles of property ownership

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How to get going!

October 6, 2006

There are probably very few forms of investment where you don’t need money to make money.

When you try borrowing money from your local bank to purchase shares in that bank you will most certainly be shown the door in a polite way! This will quicly prove to you that you will need your own money to attempt making money on the stock exchange!

On the other hand, if you ask them for a sizable loan to purchase a property, they will probably do everything they can to make it possible for you to use their money to invest in your property…

How can you get going to make money – using mostly the bank’s money! – through property investment in South Africa?

The first thing is to start a savings plan to build up a deposit if and when needed.

Many developers do ask a deposit to ensure the buyer is serious. You do not want to be in a position of having a wonderful property investment opportunity and no cash deposit at hand!

On the other hand, you should keep in mind that paying a deposit is not a legal requirement in South African property law. You may therefore want to try and avoid paying a deposit in a property investment transaction.

Secondly you should look into increasing your buying power by joining forces with family or friends.

The size of the bond is determined by the size of the repayment you can service. As a rule South African banks won’t want you to use more than 30% of your income for that purpose. As an idividual you will therefore generally be limited.

One way to overcome this limitation is to form an investment club with family members or friends. Your combined income will then be used by the bank in determining the loan.

Structuring a close corporation or trust correctly can therefore empower you to invest in a much bigger way – while still using the bank’s money!

Then start doing your homework about what kind of property you want to invest in, what the purpose of the purchase would be and whether you will be able to achieve with it what you intend to.

Are you buying to live in, to speculate or “flip” soon after buying, or to renovate and sell?

In all instances you should carefully investigate the costs involved before getting into a deal, to ensure as best you can that you aren’t overpaying and therefore undercutting your eventual profit or capital growth.

Property investment is essentially a long term investment. Huge profits can be made in a short period, but massive fortunes are build up over decades. Opportunities will always be there; do not shortsell yourself by thinking you must build Rome in one year!

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Buying Investment Property

October 6, 2006

First a little story about buying investment property.

My wife and I stayed at a motel in Tucson for a week one winter. Our bill was for twice what it should have been, but since I already paid the correct amount in cash, I thought nothing of it. During our stay, we noticed that the lobby and swimming pool were unheated, and passed it off as frugality. A year later, however, when I read a news story about a new owner struggling to make the motel work, I realized what was really going on.

To prepare the motel for sale, the owner had been using the two most basic ways to inflate the appraised value: decrease expenses and increase reported income. Stopping repairs, turning down the heat, and quietly adding $100 in income to the books every day, might have increased the net income for the year by $45,000 more. With a .08 capitalization rate, that means the appraisal would come in $562,000 higher than it should have. Imagine the the poor guy who overpaid!

To avoid a mistake like this when buying investment property, you need to watch for tricks like these. You also need to understand the basics of appraising income property.

Valuation of income properties start with the capitalization rate, or “cap rate.” When investors in an area expect a return of 8% on assets, the cap rate is .08. The net income before debt service is divided by this to arrive at the value of a property. This is expleained further in another article, but the primary point to remember is that every dollar of extra income shown will increase the appraised value by $12.50 with a cap rate of .08 (Or, for example, by $10, if the cap rate is .10).

Avoid Dirty Tricks When Buying Investment Property

When sellers of income properties increase the net income by honest means, the property should sell for more. However, there are many dishonest ways, both legal and fraudulent, that are sometimes used. Sellers of houses may cover foundation cracks with plaster, but the tricks used by sellers of income properties aren’t about appearance. These tricks are about income and expenses.

One way income can be inflated, is by showing you the “pro forma,” or projected income, instead of the actual rents collected. Demand the actual figures, and check to see that none of the apartments listed as occupied are actually vacant. See if any of the income is from one time events, like the sale of something.

The income from vending machines is a gray area. Many smart investors subtract this from the net income before applying the cap rate, then add back the value of the machines themselves. For example, if laundry machines make $6,000, that would add $75,000 to the appraised value (.08 cap rate), if you included it. However, since they are easily replaceable, adding the $10,000 replacement cost instead makes more sense.

The other important tricks sellers play involve hiding expenses. These can include paying for repairs off the books, or just avoiding necessary repairs for a year. This can dramatically increase the net income, meaning you pay more for the property. It also means you have less income than expected, and deferred maintenance to catch up on.

Ask for an accounting of all expenditures. If a number in an expense category is suspicious, replace it with your own best guess. Then re-figure the net income.

Look at each of the following, verifying the figures as much as possible, and substituting your own guesses if they are too suspect: vacancy rates, advertising, cleaning, maintenance, repairs, management fees, supplies, taxes, insurance, utilities, commissions, legal fees and any other expenses. Do your homework, and avoid seller’s tricks when buying investment property.

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Buy Investment Property without seeing it.

October 6, 2006

Why would you buy investment property without seeing it? It’s a numbers game. Whether or not you see the property before you make an offer isn’t nearly as important as making sure the numbers make sense.

A man in California used to just send out offers on a hundred MLS listings at a time, offering 25% less than the asking price on each one. Occasionally a few sellers would accept his offers. He never had to look at the homes beforehand. Including an “inspection and approval” clause in the offer meant he could always back out of the deal later when he saw the house. Meanwhile, he efficiently found the truly motivated sellers.

This true story demonstrates that with a good clause or two in the contract, you don’t have to worry about making an offer before you see a property. It’s true when you buy investment property or your next home. When it isn’t everything the seller says it is, you can reject the deal with little or no loss. So why wouldn’t you want to look at the property?

Buy Investment Property By Numbers

The main reason you might skip looking at a property before making an offer is time. This is certainly true if the property is far away. If you don’t get a price that makes sense, why spend your time traveling to look at real estate investments? A price and terms that make sense – this is what is important. Of course you’ll probably want to look at the actual property eventually, but looking at the numbers is how you invest.

Investors value income property according to current cash flow (or should if they want safe and viable investments), so start by verifying income. Get the actual income figures for the past 12 months. Always consider the potential income if rents are raised, vending machines are added, etc., but base your offer on the current income.

Verify all expenses with investment properties. If any expenses listed by the seller seem unusually low, they most likely are. Just substitute your own best guess in place of any suspicious numbers.

After you determine the net operating income, apply the appropriate capitalization rate to arrive at the value. If you’re not sure how to do this, get help. However, you really should understand the principle of how to figure a cap rate. This is a numbers game you’re playing.

Calculate loan payments (talk to your banker), and see how much cash flow you’ll have. Then you can figure your cash-on-cash return based on how much of your own money you put into the deal. Just divide the cash flow by your investment.

When the numbers work, you can safely make an offer. Inspections will tell you if there are problems that will affect the cash flow. You can always renegotiate if there are such problems (assuming you made your approval of all inspections a contingency of the offer). Of course, you can even go take a look now that you are truly ready to buy that investment property.

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