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January 2009 Newsletter

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I hope all of you enjoyed the holiday season and are ready to begin the New Year with some enthusiasm.  We've all had our share of challenges to overcome as Metro Detroiters, as well as being part of the challenges rippling throughout our Nation.  


For those of us who choose to live here and run our businesses here, we're focused on better days ahead.  Rather than complain about the housing market and economy, let's look at  what positive lessons we can glean from these times and move forward.   I do not mean to diminish or make light of anyone suffering from hard times right now.  Everyone has been impacted in varying degrees.   I'm choosing to press on with a positive attitude and actions, and I invite you to join me. 


The Chinese use the same symbol for crisis and opportunity.  It's all a matter of how you look at it. 


This month our experts offer you

helpful tips on avoiding real estate pitfalls, and how to properly start or reorganize your business.  Perhaps now is a good time to review your own mortgage, or your current business structure or business plan to make sure you are doing all you can to optimize your current situation.  I know I've made some changes in both my business and my mortgage to take advantage of these times and move forward in a positive way. 


I invite you to share with me your ideas and suggestions for making 2009 a year to remember, in a good way!  Let's cast a positive vision for our year together.    


Wishing you all the best,



Lori T. Williams, Esq.

Your Legal Resource, PLLC




"We Connect the Right Client

With the Right Professional " (SM)


In This Issue

Article 1: Tips For Avoiding Real Estate Pitfalls

Article 2: Business 101: What to do before you even open your doors!


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"What we must decide is how we are valuable, rather than how valuable we are."  F. Scott Fitzgerald (1896 - 1940)


"Don't find fault, find a remedy." Henry Ford (1863-1947)


"It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but those most responsive to change."  Charles Darwin (1809 - 1882)


 By:  Ellen S. Mahoney, Mortgage Professional

& Loss Mitigation Consultant

     Real estate foreclosures are occurring at unprecedented rates in Michigan.  Much of the fallout is due to poorly understood adjustable rate mortgages, relaxed underwriting (which allowed those who could ill afford to be approved for too much mortgage debt), coupled with falling real estate prices.  This combination has lead to an inability for many homeowners to refinance out of these "bad" loans or to sell their homes at a profit, or for more than they owe.
    As a result, real estate values are declining, banks are tightening credit, and many are ambivalent about buying or selling real estate. 
If you are a seller contemplating a move, there are a number of things to consider.  
     1.  The "loss" on your current property may not be more than the "savings" on the new property.  Since more expensive properties may appreciate at a greater rate, this could be an advantage.  
     2. The real estate tax liability will possibly be reduced when you purchase.   You should always pay close attention to the "taxable value" when your property is assessed each year.  There is a very short window within which to protest real property assessments each year.  


     3.  What are the current costs associated with holding on to your current property, versus the potential savings of buying a less expensive property.
     4.  If you are in the market to buy a new property, don't focus exclusively on purchasing "distressed" properties.  The entire market has been impacted by foreclosures.  Buying a foreclosure is not really going to save you money, and may even create more hardships.  A property that is "lived in and cared for" is a really great bargain without the added risk.

    5.  As of December 15th, interest rates are falling.  Speculation is that they will continue to fall.  This may be an opportunity to buy the "home of your dreams" at historically low interest rates.

    In  a tough market, the greatest recommendation I can offer is that you work with seasoned professionals.  Anyone that has been in the industry for 10 to 15 years has some sense of the ups and downs of this market.   I would always advise interviewing several real estate agents and mortgage professionals before choosing one to represent you.   


Ellen Mahoney photoEllen has been a residential and commercial mortgage broker with First Financial Services, Inc., formerly, Mortgage Associates of Birmingham, LLC., since November 2001, and is the owner of  Loss Mitigation Consulting Services of Michigan, LLC.   Using her 25+ years of real estate experience, Ellen provides individuals with information regarding alternatives to foreclosure when facing financial difficulty in respect of their homes, and assists them with the process.    For more information visit:  wmimortgageresources.com or www.lmcsm.com or call 248-505-2509.



BUSINESS 101: What to do before you even open your doors


                    By: Marti Murdock, Business Solutions Consultant
When I'm helping my clients set up their businesses, I run through this checklist with them.  Perhaps it will help you in setting up or reorganizing your business as well:  


1.  What is your business identity?  Does it really represent who you are and what you do?  How does it look visually?  Do your business cards, letterhead and envelopes all match?
2. What is your business structure?  (i.e.  have you filed the appropriate paperwork with the local, state, and Federal governmental agencies depending on the business entity you chose?)
         Sole proprietor
         Limited Liability Corporation
         S Corporation

3.  Have you consulted with an Accountant and Attorney experienced in your type of business?  It is absolutely essential, so if you haven't done it, form a relationship ASAP!
4.  Do you have your Business Checking Account set up?  It is not recommended that you use a personal account for business purposes.  This could cause tax and liability issues, as your attorney and accountant can point out.
5. Advertising:  How will you promote yourself?   There are so many affordable options today.  Take advantage of the free social networking/social media sites which let you post profiles for free:  linked in, twitter, facebook, MCC, plaxo, etc.  There are also many networking groups you can belong to for little or no cost to spread the word about your business.  Then there is email marketing, blogging, newsletters (print or online), as well as the traditional print ads, TV, and radio advertising.  Online video sites like UTube and others also work for some businesses.  It is a good idea to develop a marketing and advertising strategy and then create a budget.  However, don't let lack of income prevent you from getting the word out there.  Between networking and social media, you can do something positive to promote your business and cost will not be an issue.     

6. Elevator Speech:  Can you tell someone in a minute or so exactly what your business is all about?  Try a 15 and 30 second version also. 
7.  Pricing Structure:  How much will you need to charge in order to cover your expenses and make a profit?
8.  Paying Uncle Sam:  How much should you set aside for taxes?  When and how should you pay them?  Another good reason to have a CPA!
9.  Credit Card Acceptance:  Will you accept credit cards?  Who will process them for you?  Who has the best price per transaction?
10.   What equipment will you really need? And what kind?  Should you buy or lease?  Some options may include:
         Fax Machine
         Postal Scale
11. Filing System and Retention:  What do you need to file, both for ease of running your business and for taxes?  How long do you need to keep it?
12. Time Management:  How do you maximize your time?  Remember, time really IS money for the entrepreneur!


13.  Working Capital:  Will you be able to begin your business with your own funds, or will you need an SBA loan, angel investors, venture capitalists, or other types of business financing?  Lack of capital and lack of proper use of capital is one of the reasons businesses fail.  Begin with the end in mind and have a strong business plan which includes all of the components listed above and which creates a strategy for your startup capital and growth capital over the next 2-5 years.  The business plan will change as your business evolves and grows, but you won't know if you are on course if you don't have one. 


The New Year is always a good time to clean up some old habits, get organized, and start fresh with some new goals and action steps.  If you get stuck in any of these areas, seek out the right professionals to help you.  It will save you time and money! 


Marti Murdock photoMarti Murdock is the owner of M2 (pronounced M squared) Services, LLC, located in Dearborn Heights, MI.  Marti provides business management solutions to entrepreneurs by organizing, prioritizing and simplifying their office operations, with an emphasis on filing systems.  Her background includes more than 25 years of experience in administrative management, sales and sales management (8 of those years selling filing systems).  She has worked for large and small companies, as well as for a non-profit.  Marti is also a member of the National Association of Professional Organizers and the National Association of Women Business Owners.  For more information, contact Marti at: 313- 819-0239.



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