Setting up your home office is a necessary part in the life of a real estate investor. In order to conduct business, there will be certain pieces of equipment, office furnishings and services necessary so work can be done effectively and efficiently.
I would suggest that you designate a part of your house that will give you some privacy and enough room to accommodate the necessary items you will need.
· Land line telephone: I would recommend the use of a land line phone system. I currently have one. I realize that with the cell phone explosion many families have decided to discontinue this service.
· It is an additional expense; however, a land line can come in handy. It can be used when you want to save your plan minutes on you cell phone or your service may be temporarily down. There are also times when a cell phone connection won’t be clear, but when switching to a land line the reception will be much better. I use a service called Magic Jack. It does have some glitches from time to time, but the expense to operate it are minimal. I use my cell phone most of the time, but having a land line gives me the added service when needed.
· Mobile Phone: Having a mobile or cell phone is a must. At times, it will be necessary for the investor to be out in the field looking at houses or doing research, etc., where the only way he will be able to communicate will be by cell phone. Today there is a huge variety of cell phones and plans available to choose from. You can either select the basic plan where calling and texting are provided or you can up- grade to a plan where internet access can be added. The investor will have to decide what will best suit his budget and needs.
· Fax machine: A fax machine is a must item. Documents will need to be sent back and forth to clients, attorneys, lending institutions, title companies, etc. Time will be a factor in many deals. When you send a fax, it arrives at its destination immediately. I would not recommend a land line fax machine. I would rather you subscribe to a fax service through the internet. The cost is very reasonable. I pay $10.00 per month for my service. Do a Google search to find one you like. It saves me time and the added expense of ink cartridge replacememts and breakdowns.
Computer and Printer
· The computer is a very effective tool in conducting business for the real estate investor. It is simply amazing what the computer can do. With all the software applications available today, the computer eliminates much of the need to outsource work that may have been difficult to do in the past. Basic applications for the investor will include contract preparation, writing letters, post card and flyer designing, organization of files and digital pictures. You will also be sending and receiving e-mail correspondence.I would also recommend that you get a fast internet connection (DSL or cable) as many of the newer programs will require this service to work properly.
· I also have a lap top computer. This works especially well when other family members are using the desk top computer or I am away from my home and need to keep up with my business. New technology has also developed the smaller note book computer and the I Pad/PC note pad. These are amazing devices, but I would not recommend that you go overboard in the beginning days of you investing career to purchase them. These items are expenses and you need to have good reason to buy them. When just starting out, stick to the basics and move up as the need arises.
· The printer is another essential item for the home office. Printing documents will be a necessary task when doing deals. You will also need a printer when sending and receiving faxes. I would recommend that you purchase an all-in-one, printer/fax/copier/scanner, unit. This is a big time saver and there cost is very reasonable.
· The Digital camera will be an item that you will use quite often. When out in the field looking at houses to purchase or getting one under contract, you will need a camera. When you place your listings on line, you will want to show perspective buyers what the property looks like. Most buyers today look on the internet when they begin their search for a home, so take several pictures.
· The Flip video camera is not a requirement, but I would recommend it. I use mine on every home I put under contract. I do a visual tour of the home and property using it, then down load it on YouTube and place it on my website.This gives perspective buyers the best viewing of the property short of personally being at the house. Buyers really love this option.
· Desk: Purchase a desk that will be adequate for your needs. I personally use my computer desk/workstation to do all my work. I must admit this is not the best solution. It would be better for the work I do, to have a separate desk, but it is what I have become use to using. Just be sure you have adequate room to do your work. You can make changes as necessary. Don’t overlook a comfortable chair, but not too comfortable or your work may suffer.
· Filing cabinets: You will need to file reports, client folders, estimates, tax returns and other items. This is just good organization sense. When you need to find an item, it is a joy to know where to look.
· Book shelves: I have several book shelves that hold the dozens of books, CDs, DVDs, courses and other items that I have accumulated over the years. They provide me with easy access when I need any of these items for reference or review.
These are the basics of what I would suggest for you consider when setting up your home office. Over time, you can add items and make any necessary change to suit your wants and needs. Remember however, to spend within your budget. Don’t go into excessive debt before you bring in income from doing deals. You don’t want the pressure of having to make payments, when you have more month than income.
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