Used Car Shopping Tips for Savvy Consumers

If you are in the market for a used car, you will soon discover that car prices are high even for older models. Supply and demand has pushed up used car prices, especially for vehicles that are fuel efficient. It is very difficult to find a used car that costs under $3,000 unless you’re willing to settle for a very old car or one that needs a lot of work.

The following shopping tips can get you behind the wheel of a used car for less money:

1. Know the market. Likely, you know the type of vehicle that you want. It may be a sports coupe or a family sedan. Begin to check ads on Craigslist and local listing sites to gauge the market. For instance, if you want a midsize sedan that is about five years old with less than 75,000 miles on the odometer, your search criteria should be for cars in that range.

2. Pinpoint your model. Now that you know the market, you need to identify the vehicle you want. Another factor is your budget, therefore if you have $10,000 to spend or finance, then that vehicle should fall within your price range. If it it doesn’t you will need to either change your model, the model year or adjust your budget, perhaps all three.

3. Shop around. There are so many places you can look for a used car. Private sellers flock to sites such as Craigslist and eBay — you should check these sites out as well. Your local new car dealer has vehicles on the lot including some that are certified new and come with a warranty. Besides private lots that exclusively sell used cars, there are larger companies such as CarMax and Auction Direct that also sell used cars.

4. Inspect and drive. Never fall for a vehicle because you love its looks. When shopping for a used car, visit the dealer during the daytime when natural light can show the car’s imperfections including scratches, dents and other blemishes. Look for signs of paint touch up, wheels that are cracked and bumpers that are rusted. Ask the owner or dealer for a comprehensive repair history and take the car for a test drive, listening for sounds out of the ordinary. Obtain a CarFax report and have your mechanic check the car for soundness.

5. Negotiate with knowledge. As a savvy car shopper, you need to know what a car is worth. Kelley Blue Book, Edmunds and Consumer Reports are among a handful of sites that can give you accurate information about the price of a car. With this information in hand, you have an excellent starting point for buying a car. Know the car’s value and be prepared to hold your ground when negotiating. If the dealer or private user can’t or won’t lower his price, then simply move on to the next car.

Car Buying Tips

Avoid rushing into the used car market even if your current ride has bitten the dust. Step up the search process, but don’t short cut your research. You want to ensure that you find the car that you need and not get stuck with the one that you think you must have.

In Depth Research of the US New Home Market

When first assessing a market, pick a market that appeals to you geographically. This assumes of course, that an immediate track record of 20 percent per annum appreciation (a.k.a. hot market) is bona-fide. The 20 percent plus range is defined by many investors as a flip or hyper-appreciation market. Most recent flip markets include Las Vegas, Sacramento, Phoenix, and Riverside, California. It’s worth mentioning that one’s market area of focus should be on markets that are hands down in fact appreciating. Just because it may appear that a market area has peaked does not necessarily mean that it’s not a market that may still possess appreciation that is in the double digits. For example, by first quarter 2005, the Las Vegas market, having just come off a 52 percent appreciation on new tract homes in 2004, had an overall modest year-to-date gain in the high single digits. The operative word here is “overall”-since if one was buying a home priced in the $200,000 to $300,000 range in January of 2005, they would have had an appreciation rate in the high teens by yearend. However, in comparison to homes purchased at the same time in January 2005 in the $350,000 to $500,000 range, the rate of appreciation would have been only in the single digits. There is a huge difference in whether or not you just bought a potential flip or something you just wasted nine to twelve months hoping what you thought would be a flip. This just illustrates the importance of deal size. Smaller properties, based upon cost, tend to appreciate faster in a growth market because a wider scope of the buying consumer public can afford them.

One index to pay close attention to is the “affordability index.” When the affordability index starts to go down, then demand for lower-priced homes increases. It’s an inverse relationship that every investor should know about, especially if the market is on fire. In a hot market, you want to start buying properties that a larger percent of the population can buy. Pricing for new tract housing is primarily predicated on supply and demand. And if the average buyer can’t afford your $400,000 home, then they’re going to look at somebody else’s $300,000 to $350,000 new tract developer home. And guess where the initial pricing started on the homes now being sold in the $300,000 to $350,000 bracket before they exploded in value? Very likely in the $250,000 to $300,000 range. Simply stated, demand is a primary driver that increases prices, all other market conditions being equal. And if a larger portion of the consumer buying public can afford homes in the $300,000 to $350,000 range, then those are the homes that are going to be bought faster and appreciate faster, and also put an escrow “closing check” in your pocket faster. Keep in mind that the entry-level to mid-market homes-both of which have the broadest appeal to the buying public-will range in initial pricing depending upon the geographic region.

What this all means is that you’ll have additional seed money to go out and buy some more home product. As discussed earlier, keep in mind your reserve ratio minimums for future acquisition costs and debt service requirements. Remember, the more you make, the more you can buy, which if done correctly and methodically, will increase your net worth exponentially. This is especially true for the more aggressive flippers who desire to conquer the world by buying every single new tract home he or she sees. These investors can comfortably build a pipeline of twenty to thirty properties and, depending upon the new home market chosen, can earn in excess of $500,000 to a million dollars a year. And this doesn’t mean all of the deals have to be homeruns. I’m talking about a few singles, a few pop flies, and some strikeouts or laggards, as we in the real estate flip business call them. The upside is so potentially substantial that a few bad ones won’t hurt you, as long as they’re handled correctly.

To avoid those laggards, researching a market requires more than just a touchy-feely approach. As mentioned earlier, a 20 percent per annum appreciation rate is undeniably a “hot market.” Anything above that is pure gravy. There are many ways in which to approach research; the best approach, however, is to follow the K.I.S.S. rule: Keep It Simple, Stupid. (And no offense to the reader.) Remember, paralysis by analysis is a sure-fire way of making nothing. And let’s not forget, you can’t win if you don’t play. Like in sports, paralysis by analysis can be a critical stumbling block in achieving success.

Internal Linking Strategy For Maximum Professional Business Development

Many professional service firms have a need for rapid professional business development, particularly if they have a new website or are carrying out essential redesign of an old site. This can be promoted by means of an intelligent linking strategy that directs visitors where they should go.In referring to an internal linking strategy, the strategic objective here is not to gain back-links with a view to attaining an improvement in Google PageRank but to direct visitors to the web page that offers the business most benefit from the time the visitor spend on the site. All too frequently, visits last just a few seconds or if a link is followed the page visited is not that which might have brought the business most benefit.A good internal linking strategy should direct prospects to the most productive page on the website. If you want visitors to provide you with their contact details why offer them 101 links on your page when all that is needed is one? This begins during the website design stage. Before you start promoting any page you must have it clear in your mind what your major objective in running your website is.You can embark on an indirect advertising campaign by using SEO and acquiring links to improve the chances of a page on your site being listed on a search engine such as Google, and you can also use direct advertising with a web page URL offered within the link of a PPC advert. However, what page are you promoting and why?First consider these questions:A. What is the purpose of your advertising? Is it to sell products, provide information or to develop your business?B. What is the best page on your website to achieve the answer to A? Is it a squeeze page where you collect the first name and email address of a visitor before they disappear from your site forever? Is it to make them an offer they cannot refuse? Is it to offer them useful information?C. Do you have a page on your website already to achieve A or do you have to design one. Do you know what a squeeze page is and have you an autoresponder able to manage it? Do you have a product to offer as an enticement to fill in the registration form? Have you a compelling info-page?Then consider these questions:D. What page on your website is most appropriate to achieve all of the above, and what page on your site currently gets most visitors? Are these the same or can they be designed to be so?Finally do this:Construct an internal linking strategy that achieves all of the above. It would be fair to say that most webmasters do not apply a professional approach to their internal linking, and as a result are leaving you with an opening to get ahead of them in the search engine listing wars.The most obvious reason for providing links between your web pages is to enable visitors to click from one page to another. Most tend to offer too many links in the mistaken belief that they should allow their visitors to visit any page on the website that want to visit. Why? That is in irresponsible approach to an internal linking strategy!If you consider the way you are hoping to develop your business using your website, you must surely have a professional business development plan. You should use that plan in determining where you allow your visitors to go on your site from each page. Give them 20 links/page and they will use them all! If they stay that long!Consider questions A – D above and think carefully before answering: the answers could decide whether you will be able to achieve the maximum professional business development from your website or whether your visitors will be on your site for a few seconds, perhaps visit a page or two that you don’t really want them to visit or whether they do as you direct them to do.Decide what page you want them to visit first – is that your home page or another. Since the home page of most websites is listed highest on search engines, then maybe you should use the home page, but not necessarily in its current design. The page you use must be the one that is used in ALL your adverts and links.Using your answer to B/C make sure that your landing page contains only one major link: to your chosen page. Sure, you can include your contact page, Privacy Policy and disclaimer, but only one link should lead to a major web page – that should be to the page you have chosen. A squeeze page to collect names and addresses, a sales page to sell your product or ‘an offer you cannot refuse’ page. That might be connected to your profession, whether you are an attorney, doctor or accountant, but the point is you must not offer 101 options – just the one main option.Then, once they have signed up for your free gift, newsletter or course then can lead them to a page with all your links – your ‘regular’ Home Page perhaps. The important point is that you decide on the purpose of your site, make sure you have a page to achieve that and then all roads lead to Rome as they say. After that you can open up your entire site, and there are ways to do that.Develop an internal linking strategy for maximum professional business development, execute it, and then let your visitors loose on the rest of your website. This is not about search engine spiders but in making sure people reach where you want them to reach before they disappear.Graphically:Advert/Google listing > Page A (fill in contact form) > Leads to Page B (regular home page) > Lots of links for visitor.Page A can be full of great information with good on-page and off-page SEO for high listings. On it is a form to fill in. Once completed, the customer is sent to your regular home page. Simple to design but it enables you to develop your business by emailing the list you build, and your visitors still get to your home page. A good internal linking strategy for maximum professional business development at work.