Brier Grieves October 12, 2017 No Comments

6 Reasons Why Investing In Real Estate Is Good Way To Make Money?

How is investing in real estate a good way to make money?

Why should you invest in real estate in multiple cities across, America? This is the question that I want to answer for you today.

I’m sure you have heard about all the great reasons why you should invest in property, so my intent isn’t to regurgitate what you already know.

There are several reasons why you should invest in real estate in multiple cities. Here are six reasons why you should invest.

  1. Spreads Risk

Think of investing in real estate as you would investing in the stock market. In the stock market, most of the “smart” money tells you to diversify you stock portfolio to mitigate the risk of losing all of your money.

You can even find this theory in practice with mutual funds and ETF’s. These funds buy shares of different companies, weighted by risk and other factors. Investors can buy these investment funds depending on their risk appetite. You can apply this theory to investing in real estate in multiple cities.

By investing in multiple properties, you spread the risk of losing money due to regional factors in a particular market. Factors influencing housing prices in Cleveland will not be the same in say Cincinnati or Columbus.

2.  Gain Holistic View Of Housing Market

The benefit of owning investment properties in multiple cities is you gain a holistic view of the housing market. You can see emerging trends before many of the “home flippers” or other competitors rush into the market. By studying patterns in multiple markets, you can make strategic decisions about what properties you should buy and which ones you can let go of.

In contrast focusing on just one market, you don’t really get a sense of what is going on outside a particular city or neighborhood for that matter. With a one market strategy, you don’t see the forest through the trees.

3. You Get To Keep More Of Your Money

Paying taxes isn’t anyone’s idea of fun. Am I right? We all worked hard to keep our money and would like uncle sam to take as little as possible. Investing in real estate across multiple cities allows you to keep more of your money. This is especially true for small business owners who have to pay the self-employment tax.

Profits from investment properties are not subject to the self-employment tax and are taxed at much lower rates than personal or corporate income.  The capital gains tax goes from 0%-20%, whereas the personal income tax ranges from 0%-39.6% plus an additional 3.8% taxes on net investment income for higher wage earners.

4. Tax Deduction Strategy

By investing in real estate in multiple cities, you are basically a business, which means you can deduct certain expenses from your tax bill. A big one would be your travel expenses. The associated cost of traveling to your investment property to check on it, room and board, car rentals and other expenses can be written off on your taxes.

5. Leverage Economic and Technological Innovation To Your Benefit

This is probably one of the most overlooked benefits of investing in multiple real estate properties. Simply the more property you own, the more you can leverage technology to lower your cost of ownership.

Companies such as Airbnb, Tripping.com and VRBO make it possible for property owners to rent out their homes or individual rooms for a fee. This new “sharing” economy is perfect for real estate investors. You could run a mini-hotel service and not have to worry about long-term tenants if you wanted to go that route and make a healthy profit.

Buying properties in Miami and San Diego and renting out homes through Airbnb would provide you with a profit between $28-$31K annually.

6. Take Advantage Of State Solar Policies

What does solar energy have to do with real estate investment? Solar and other forms of “green” energy are increasingly in demand from consumers who want to protect the environment and lower their electricity bill.

Residential solar systems should be part of your investment equation because adding solar can add to your property value. Studies have shown that for an average 3.6kW solar system house, buyers were willing to pay $15,000 more for the home vs. a home without solar. 

With healthy tax incentives to reduce the cost of going solar plus zero down financing, you can leverage solar incentives in each state to increase your profits. Here are the states with the best solar incentives. Use these solar incentives to buy property strategically.

Overall investing in real estate is a great way to make money now and in the future.

We would love to help you! contact us at 1-813-876-4166 today! We would be delighted to answer any inquiry you might have.

Brier Grieves March 1, 2016 No Comments

A Simple Guide to Controlling Costs During a Merger or Acquisition

According to a number of studies, over the past few decades, at least 50 percent of mergers and acquisitions have failed. For example, the German automotive company Daimler severed ties with Chrysler in 2007, which it had purchased 10 years previously, because it was losing billions of dollars year after year.

Failure can be attributed to many things, such as corporate strategies not meshing well, a misunderstanding of a company’s culture or not communicating with employees well enough. All these things are the direct result of business owners not taking the right factors into consideration. Asking the right questions is key.

When contemplating a merger or acquisition, there are due diligence tasks you must perform so that liabilities don’t go uncovered and costs don’t get out of control. Here are just a few of the factors you might want to consider before delving too deep into a merger or acquisition contract, and potentially exposing your transaction to failure.

Are your employees on board? A merger or acquisition usually occurs in order to make an already strong organization stronger. While you may see the merger or acquisition as a positive change, you have to keep in mind that employees may be viewing it as a negative thing. To them it could represent:

·       Uncertainty about the company’s future

·       Uncertainty about their jobs

·       Loss of company culture

·       Proof that management is somehow deficient and the merger or acquisition was a necessity, not a choice

·       Increased duties and workload

·       Confusion due to miscommunication

·       Guilt, if some employees are terminated and others stay

If you do not get your employees on board with the changes and communicate often with them about what is going on, the merger or acquisition could have the opposite effect of what you planned for. Your staff is one of your most essential tools for running your company, but when employees start leaving—and time and money must be spent on hiring and training new employees—the anticipated success of the transaction can sour quickly. By taking the time to make sure everyone understands the reasons for the merger and supports them, you can avoid disgruntled employees working against your objectives later on. However, be sure to strike a balance between being transparent with employees, and sharing information that is subject to change and may need to be retracted later on.

How long will the merger take? In general, mergers and acquisitions usually take nine to 18 months to be fully concluded, which is often longer than business owners expect. This is because there are a lot of moving parts during the transaction that are supported and affected by other moving parts, and these can change estimated amount of time to completion. For example, employees could have trouble with using new software. This could, in turn, mean more hours spent training the struggling employees, and that could equal more time before the new software can be fully implemented. Or, you could lose a key employee unexpectedly during the merger, and, as a result, time and resources must be spent searching for a suitable replacement. It could even be something as simple as cubicles not being assembled in a new office space on time.

You’ll need to work diligently to stay on top of your projected timeline and keep yourself and others on track. Here are some suggestions you can implement to make better use of your time during the process:

·       When your implementation timeline is initially laid out, carefully review it for accuracy and feasibility. Don’t be afraid to challenge assumptions and ask questions—you could catch a snag that might be very time-consuming down the line. Note where you see potential time issues arising.

·       Assign one person the task of overseeing the bigger picture items, such as restructuring the organization chart, data transfer, brand strategy management, crafting and implementing a business continuity plan, etc.

·       Adhere to the checklists you’ve made for each part of the merger, such as data transfer, your business continuity plan and insurance liabilities, so that tasks aren’t overlooked or forgotten.

·       Purchase tools to keep track of your progress, such as a time tracking or time management software. Otherwise, spreadsheets can be very helpful as well.

·       Do not try to complete huge tasks at once, or you risk overloading employees or your system. Instead, set weekly goals and abide by them.

How much will I need to invest? You will most likely see some cost savings after the merger or acquisition is complete. However, the merger or acquisition process itself will include audits, assessments and other legal costs that can really add up. It’s important to do careful research about the target company to discover the potential for any hidden costs that may arise during the M&A process. Performing your due diligence prior to the transaction can help you set a more accurate purchase price and create an appropriate budget. Here are just a few questions to ask:

·       What workplace changes should I expect? A lot of abstract things will be changing for your company during a merger or acquisition, and most of them will be happening behind the scenes, like culture and management style changes. However, there are certain concrete changes that need to be addressed and implemented early on so that accurate and realistic costs can be predicted. Some of these changes might include:

o  Relocation of machinery, equipment and everyone in the building

o  New or redone office spaces

o  Employees working from home for a period of time

o  Choosing which computer system, accounting system, employee and HR policies to use

·       Will you be rebranding either company? If so, you may need new signage, logo design and sales collateral.

·       Will you be taking on any of the target company’s employees? If so, you may need to purchase D&O insurance or key person insurance for any new staff members.

·       Do all of the target company’s locations have adequate emergency preparations in place, such as sprinklers, fire extinguishers and designated emergency exits? Keep in mind that you may need to spend money to get acquired locations up to the same safety standards you currently have your company at.

·       Does the target company have business continuity plans in place for each location? If the planning is not up to your standards, you will need to take the time to analyze all potential weak spots and create substitutes for alternate vendors, suppliers, work areas, etc. This research can take a lot of time, and could end up being quite costly.

·       Are any of the target company’s locations at a heightened risk of physical damage, like in a flood plain or dry area prone to fires? This would mean the property insurance costs for the location will be higher, and those costs could potentially keep growing in the coming years.

·       Is this an international business deal? If yes, there may be different laws dictating how the target company can be run. This could include laws about the type of insurance you are required to buy, who you must purchase from, and when policies must be in place. Additionally, employment laws vary by location; you’ll likely need a local legal contact to advise you on compliant practices. The target company might also currently be selling to countries (or have vendors in countries) that you aren’t allowed to sell to (or buy from) in your current jurisdiction. For a buyer, this could mean that the revenue you report won’t stay the same after you acquire that company.

All of these things have the potential to cause you to surpass your initial cost prediction. Making a change to any of these items does not have just a one-time price tag—each has the potential to cause a ripple effect throughout the entire company, increasing costs for another change that now has to be altered. For example, changing your brand will mean adjusting your marketing strategy, updating all collateral and signage, modifying your social media presence and possibly even increasing the number of employees you need on the team.

However, by performing your due diligence and keeping your spending records as up to date as possible, while also monitoring what you spend and adjusting the budget when unexpected expenses arise, you can prevent costs from spiraling out of control. Brier Grieves Agency has a complete checklist of due diligence tasks to go through when adding up the costs—ask for a copy today.

Can you transfer your government grants? If you receive government funding pre-merger, keep in mind that it could look quite different after the transaction. You may need to reapply, or go through a different government agency. Always keep your government funders aware of the situation and the changes that your company is undergoing so that you are in compliance with any laws related to government grants and funding in your province.

The importance of asking yourself the tough questions during a merger or acquisition and figuring out questions you may not even have thought about yet is imperative to the success of the whole process. No one likes surprises involving unforeseen costs, liabilities or failure, so be sure you are keeping up with your due diligence responsibilities. And remember, Brier Grieves Insurance is here to help with any resources you may need.
Brier Grieves February 25, 2016 No Comments

3 Ways to Avoid Cyber Attacks: Estate Planning for Your Digital Assets

Technology has become more pervasive, and it’s become increasingly difficult to avoid having at least some kind of valuable data that has to be managed. Whether it’s important photographs, documents hosted in the Cloud, online banking accounts, or Web-based assets like social media accounts or websites, virtually everyone has some digital assets to track.

That can be a daunting task in its own right, but what happens to those assets if something should happen to you? If you haven’t taken the time to plan for your digital assets, your loved ones could find themselves unable to access your accounts. And, if one of those accounts is compromised by a data breach, hackers could use your online accounts as a backdoor into your bank accounts or other assets.

Estate planning for your digital assets is a crucial part of your overall estate planning strategy. While it’s always best to consult with a financial planner or legal counsel when considering estate planning, there are some general guidelines everyone should follow when making plans for their digital assets.

Create an Inventory

“Digital assets” can refer to a broad range of things, but in general, it refers to any part of your digital identity that would require your successors’ attention. The first step in planning is making sure that you have an exhaustive, centralized inventory of your assets so that your executor, attorney or trustee knows where to find everything.

1. Hardware

Begin by making an inventory of your hardware. It may seem obvious, but don’t take this step for granted. Many people use a number of different devices in their day-to-day lives, with important data stored in each of those devices. Remember to create an inventory and make a note of hardware that may be company-owned, and also remember that pieces of old hardware—computers, cellphones, cameras, etc.—may have important data on them.

Tailor your inventory to your needs, but consider some of the following:

  • Computers, laptops and tablets (including username and login information)
  • Cellphones
  • Digital cameras
  • CDs, DVDs, flash drives, SIM cards, external hard drives and other devices that store data

In addition to making a list of the names and locations of all of your hardware, it could be helpful to your successors to map out the file structures of your data. Write out step-by-step instructions so your successors know how to navigate the file system on your hardware in order to access your important information.

2. Online Assets

Next, consider your online presence in its various forms. Though it may be daunting, consider every site for which you’ve created a user profile and determine whether or not your successors will need to gain access. In doing so, be sure to log website names, URLs, usernames and passwords:

The list will vary, but be especially mindful of websites that store your personal information or banking information. Consider the following:

  • Online backing accounts
  • Shopping sites (e.g., Amazon, the Apple Store, eBay)
  • Social media accounts (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn)
  • Cloud-hosted email accounts (e.g. Gmail, Yahoo, Outlook)
  • Cloud Storage (e.g., Dropbox, Google Drive)
  • Organizational sites and apps (e.g., OmniFocus, Evernote, Pinterest)
  • Subscriptions (e.g., Netflix, Audible, Hulu Plus, HBO Go)
3. Work

Depending on your job, it might make sense to create a separate inventory for any work-related information that might be among your digital assets. This will vary widely from profession to profession, but as telecommuting becomes more commonplace, it’s an increasingly important consideration. In some cases, it’s a matter of keeping sensitive information secure. In other cases, it’s simply a matter of making sure your successors have access to the work you’ve been doing on projects that they might need to take over. Consider the following:

  • Client or patient files
  • Spreadsheets
  • Online databases or software
  • Projects tasks, notes or drafts

Everyone’s digital assets are bound to be different, which is why making an exhaustive inventory is so important.

Provide Access to Your Assets

Once you have an inventory of your digital assets, it’s important to make sure to provide your successors with access. You’ll want to choose someone you can trust to handle sensitive personal and financial information, as well as the task of carrying out your wishes. It could be a trusted advisor, an attorney or a family member or friend.

Whomever you choose, make sure you keep records naming that person and his or her responsibilities along with the rest of your estate planning information. Just because someone has your hardware or knows your passwords doesn’t mean that he or she is authorized to use them. State and federal laws may prohibit others from accessing or using your digital assets, so having proper documentation is essential.

Write Out Instructions

Once you’ve created an inventory of your assets and assigned the appropriate executor or trustee, you’ll want to document your wishes. It may seem tedious, but it’s important to take the time and to be detailed. After all, you wouldn’t want someone mistakenly selling or deleting important documents or photographs.

Planning for the Future

Estate planning may conjure unpleasant thoughts about death, but it’s important to plan now so that your wishes can be carried out and your loved ones and colleagues can continue on without undue stress.

It’s also important to make sure you have the people and the resources that you need in order to make sure your wishes are carried out as you’d like. For further assistance, contract your trusted advisor at Brier Grieves Agency today.
Brier Grieves February 18, 2016 No Comments

The Insurance Pricing Cycle

Most industries are cyclical to some extent, and insurance is no exception. As an insurance buyer, it’s important to know what factors determine the cost of coverage. But understanding the market cycle is only half of the pricing equation; since you can’t control the market, it’s equally important to know what you can do to ensure you are always securing the best price– whatever market conditions prevail.

Property and Casualty Insurance Cycle

The insurance industry pricing cycle alternates between periods of soft and hard market conditions. In a hard market, coverage is harder to place and premiums grow. A soft market indicates premiums are stable or falling, and insurance may be more readily available.

A variety of factors influence the price of insurance, including economic downturns, catastrophic events, insurers’ claim reserve dollars, and supply and demand. Supply is tied to the amount of policyholder surplus in the industry, and demand is the appetite of the insurance-buying community to transfer risk.

Pricing cycles can also vary between lines of coverage and geographic location, creating both hard and soft market conditions depending on what type of commercial insurance is involved and how exposures to loss have changed. For example, the pricing and underwriting approach for property coverage for businesses based in hurricane-prone areas is much different than for businesses located elsewhere.

Risk Management Considerations

Buyers can take steps to ensure they are always getting the best price. Although premiums vary due to market pressure, your true cost of price is determined by your claims history. The key to controlling price is to control losses through instituting safety prevention programs, managing claims efficiently when you have a loss and employing cost containment strategies.

Brier Grieves Agency has the resources to help you employ cost reduction strategies to limit exposures and reduce premiums through both risk transfer and non-risk transfer solutions. Our consultative approach includes the following steps:

  • Identifying your exposures to loss
  • Recommending loss control solutions
  • Improving your disaster response potential by helping you to create or update a business contingency program
  • Assisting in building a culture of safety
  • Providing claims management to keep costs down
  • Seeking continuous improvement
  • Reviewing and recommending coverages to ensure your protection

Those who approach risk financing through sustained long-term cost control and claims management measures, instead of just riding the insurance pricing cycle’s wave, are always in a better position to secure coverage at the best price.

The market may fluctuate, but our goal–to be your broker of choice–never wavers. To review your risk management strategies, contact us today at (813) 876-4166.