Archive for April, 2007

Losing $200,000 In One Year On Real Estate

HouseThe last decade in real estate has been a real crazy one! Check out this historical chart to see how prices have changed. AOL Real Estate posted an interesting article about a local couple that tried to sell their house for $600,000, only to actually sell it a year later for $400,000. Luckily the couple had bought the house originally for $250,000 before moving out and putting it up on the market….so they still ended up with a large gain, albeit $200,000 less than they ultimately wanted.

So what happened? They priced the house high at first, and kept lowering the price $10,000-$20,000 every month or so that it did not sell. It finally did sell when they had it priced at $450,000, but only for $395,000.

There are two lessons to learn here from both the buyer and seller perspectives. From the buyer perspective, it goes to show you that there are good deals out there, especially in todays market. It’s all about finding the right situation for the seller. In this situation the seller was sitting on the house for over a year, paying two mortgages. By selling the house for $395,000, they still profited a hefty amount, but the buyer also got a great deal for a house that was listed $200,000 higher just a year previously. The seller also learned an important lesson:

Still, Dave has plenty of regrets. “It’s your biggest investment and every seller wants to get the most they can out of their home. Frankly, I think what we chose to do in selling our house was to be greedy and to see how much we could get. It’s an emotional thing. It’s really emotional. Whenever you’re talking about that much money, sometimes it’s hard to think straight.”

Dave has gained perspective on his experience, and he’s worried for sellers new to the market. He says that when sellers price their homes, greed, emotion and sweat equity can all affect the decision making process. Dave warns that selling your home should be, “a more emotionally detached financial decision. You have to just say, ‘This is a transaction. It’s an investment.’ For a lot of us, our net worth and our retirement is tied up in our homes. So you just have to play it as unemotional as possible, and if you do, it seems you are unlikely to make a mistake.”

As a seller, Dave says, “You keep thinking, ‘I’ll hang onto this a little bit longer, it’ll sell.’ That was ultimately the fatal flaw of our experience. In the process, the market gets worse and worse and worse and the sellers continue to be optimistic. But the smart thing to do is to tighten your belt and say, ‘I’m going to lower this to a very aggressive price because I want to sell it now, because I don’t know what??s going to happen with the market.’ If you’re a seller and there isn’t a strong prognosis for a turnaround, then be aggressive and try to price under. Now we all have the benefit of hindsight of what this real estate market has been like nationwide. It??s always 20/20 in hindsight.”

Just some food for thought.

Links Of Interest

Here’s a compilation of some interesting reads from both readers of this blog as well as some select sites from my RSS feeds that I subscribe to.

Would you be interested in getting your site linked in a post like this? Make sure to remain active and post comments on my site, and I’ll keep you in my radar. If something piques my interest, I’ll give it a link in my next compilation.

Transparent Screens Effect

I happened to stumble on this neat effect where people have made their monitors look like they are transparent. They do this by using photography and their desktop background to make it look like the picture is part of what would be behind the monitor. Here’s a great example:

Cat in transparent background

You can check out a slideshow gallery of Flickr with many more examples. Have you ever done anything like this?

The $10 Plane Ticket


Skybus LogoA new U.S. budget carrier, Skybus, is going to start offering one-way plane tickets for $10. The carrier currently flies to locations like Los Angeles, Ft. Lauderdale, Vancouver, Boston, Seattle, and more. The carrier will offer at least 10 seats on each flight that can be had for $10 (not including taxes and fees), keep in mind these are advanced purchases. You are still going to pay a lot for last minute fairs.

Skybus is an interesting concept in budget carriers. They are subsidizing their expenses by only offering ticket sales online (so no call center overhead), charging extra for bag check and priority seating, and offer advertising throughout the inside and outside of the planes. One of the plane’s will display a Nationwide Insurance logo on the fuselage, on top of ads on the tray tables, overhead bins, restroom doors, and refreshment cart.

I realize $10 for a plane ticket is hard to pass up, but it’s just a promotion. Would you be willing to keep paying less for plane tickets in return for worse service and less amenities? What about advertising plastered everywhere? I would to an extent. This all reminds me of the movie Idiocracy. I’m just waiting for everything to have advertising, and Gatorade to replace water.

Bought A Dodge Viper Last Night

As I’ve mentioned in the past, I’ve been looking for some sort of sports car for just the summer. The main thing is I wanted to be able to drive it, but minimize my cost as much as possible since I only plan on keeping it through late summer. I will still be writing a post on how this can be done, but in the meantime, check out the 1994 Dodge Viper RT/10 I just bought!

My new Dodge Viper front

My new Dodge Viper back

I’ll have more pictures when it arrives as I have to have it shipped from NY state. The car has under 15,000 original miles, and is showroom quality. This will now be a fun summer, and it will be nice to have two Vipers in the garage.

My Progression of Vehicles

Last Updated 2/18/11

Update 11/8/2007: I will be continually updating this post as I go through more vehicles, so feel free to bookmark and check back from time to time.

Cars have always been a huge source of inspiration for me. In fact, my day job is near a Ferrari/Lamborghini/Maserati dealership, and I find myself visiting at least once every week or two for my own personal inspiration. So for somebody into cars, it’s interesting to take a look at my progression of vehicles so far:

1998-2004: 1994 Nissan Altima GXE

This was my very first car, and my entrance into the world of Nissan. I started doing slight modifications before modifications to imports got big. Simple things like exhaust, audio, etc made the car slightly sportier for its time.

My 1994 Nissan Altima

2003-2004: 2003 Nissan Altima 3.5 SE

With 245hp from the factory, the 3.5 SE Altima was a sleeper. Nobody expected that it would be that fast, but it was classified as a sport family sedan. This car was the single thing that was the link to launching one of my companies (ActiveTuning), as I had met my business partner through Altima forums. I ordered it from the factory, and while waiting the 3 months for it to arrive, I was already amassing parts in my bedroom. By the time it was sold, I had completely re-done the car and put it into a few shows. It had full exhaust (intake, headers, race pipe, catback), custom audio setup, painted dash, wheels, suspension, the full works.

My 2003 Nissan Altima 3.5 SE

Audio trunk system in my Altima 3.5 SE

2004-2007: 2004 Nissan 350Z

My 350Z was the first time that I had just completely re-done a car and went all out. Over $40,000 was spent in the car (after the price of the car) for modifications. All of the work was done by myself and people helping me, so that was a great satisfaction. The car was pushing over 400hp to the wheels after installing an APS twin turbo. Other major modifications were body kit, many carbon fiber parts, in-car PC, wheels, suspension, fiberglassed audio system, and much more. If you could see it, it had probably been changed.

My Nissan 350Z

Nissan 350Z Rear

Nissan 350Z Show

This was my car at Hot Import Nights 2006, notice the fiberglassed sub box in the trunk.

In Car PC in my 350Z

This was my in-car PC. It was a fully functional PC running Windows XP with GPS.

2005-2006: 1994 Dodge Viper RT/10

This Dodge Viper was purchased solely for the purpose of using it for a business venture called SmashMyViper.com. The car was stock other than wheels, but of course it’s a Viper, and it’s still a beast with a V10 pushing 400hp.

SmashMyViper.com Dodge Viper

2005-2006: 1994 Toyota Camry

The 94′ Camry seems out of place in the list, but it was purchased for the purpose of a “beater car”. A high-mileage, inexpensive, but reliable car used to keep the miles off of the expensive cars. I drove this for about a year before I had the itch to drive around in a car that was more fun on a daily basis.

My Toyota Camry

2006-2007: 1998 Honda CBR600 F3

Late last summer I started getting into dirt bikes with a friend. This eventually lead into motorcycles, so I picked this up as a starter bike. It had a little over 10,000 miles, never dropped, perfect condition for $3,000…an excellent deal considering I sold it for more than I paid for it.

My Honda CBR 600 F3

2006-2007: 2004 Infiniti G35 Coupe

The 2004 Infiniti G35 Coupe was my daily driver vehicle for almost 2 years. It was essentially Infiniti’s version of the 350Z, but with more luxury. The car is loaded with navigation and 19″ OEM wheels from a newer model G35.

My Infiniti G35 Coupe

Update: 11/8/2007: I have since updated the wheels on the car and installed 19″ Volk SF Challenges! I plan on keeping the rest of the car stock.

G35 Coupe With Volk Wheels

2007-2008: 1994 Dodge Viper RT/10

I purchased the car back in May and wrote about it here.

My 1994 Dodge Viper RT/10

2008-2008: 1997 Chevrolet C5 Corvette

I picked up the Corvette for my 2008 Summer car. I will plan on selling it starting around July-August. With 345hp stock, but much more added from the various modifications, this car is pretty beast-like…and could closely compare to the Viper in terms of straight-line performance. I was originally planning on purchasing a newer generation C6 body Corvette, but decided to spend half the price on this.

1997 C5 Red Corvette

2007-2011: 1999 Honda Accord Coupe EX

Just purchased this car in November as a new beater car.

99 Honda Accord

2007-Current: 2002 Honda CBR600 F4i

Replaced my old CBR600 F3 with this newer body style F4i.

My Honda CBR600 F4i

2008-Current: 1997 Dodge Viper GTS

Well, the Corvette did not last long before I realized that I would much rather have a Viper in the garage. I decided to pick up my actual dream car version of the Viper, which is a blue 97 GTS with white stripes. With 450hp, and only 6,300 miles on the odometer when I picked it up, it was ready to go! The only thing I’ve done so far was add a Corsa exhaust and Random Tech high flow cats. It makes it much louder, and should give about 30 more hp to the car.

2010-Current: 2006 Acura TL

Replaced the Accord daily.

Hot Import Nights 2007, Washington DC Pictures

This past weekend was Hot Import Nights, Washington DC. For those of you who do not know what Hot Import Nights is, it’s a car show, but much much more. The event is indoors, with lights off, hot models, music, vendors, entertainment, cool lighting and more. In the past few years, I’ve always had my car in the show, but I’ve recently sold my show car 350Z, so I was there to gawk at all of the other cars this time around. Going to HIN also gives me a chance to see what the latest trends are in the aftermarket car market, meet with vendors, and network with owners and people that I know. This is all very helpful for my aftermarket parts manufacturing business, ActiveTuning. I did happen to see a few instances of ActiveTuning represented at the show:

Nissan Altima with ActiveTuning S2 Grille

Here was a Nissan Altima in the parking lot with our S2 Grille

ActiveTuning RSTB

This was an older Nissan Sentra in a vendor booth. The car was track-ready and had our popular rear strut tower brace as part of their suspension setup.

ActiveTuning R32 GT-R Nissan Skyline

This is a rare (at least in the US) R32 GT-R Nissan Skyline that is owned by a good friend of mine. The car is very powerful (over 700hp to the rear wheels), with a ton of modifications done to it.

ActiveTuning decal on R32 GT-R Skyline

Here is an ActiveTuning decal on the side of the Skyline

It’s always really nice and inspirational seeing my company represented on cars randomly. We have thousands of customers, and there are cars all over the world sporting our products.

The parking lot at the show always has nice cars as well, since there are many car enthusiasts checking it out:

Lotus Elise

This is my friend Brent’s Lotus Elise. The car handles amazingly right from the dealership. In fact Brent raced it across the country in last years AKA Rally. I met Brent a couple years ago because he has a ridiculous convertible Nissan 350Z (800+ whp and full show car) that was in the show.

Lamborghini Diablo

Somebody brought their Lamborghini Diablo to the show. I didn’t see any handicap tag, but I don’t think anybody cared just for the chance to see the gorgeous car.

2 blue and white Dodge Vipers

This is a blue/white Dodge Viper that was owned by the guys at Infinite Speed & Performance who had a section in the show with some of their other cars. I know the car has a lot of modifications because I actually saw it on eBay before they bought it. I’ve been on the lookout for the same Viper for a while now, and hope to have one in my garage at some point. If you look closely you will notice another identical Viper behind it.

R6 Motorcycle

I had to grab a picture of this bike, it’s the one that I would like to get to replace my Honda CBR600 F3.

There were many other cars in the lot that I didn’t get a chance to take a picture of such as a Porsche Carerra GT, BMW M6, and many many more. Here’s some select pictures of the cars from the show:

IS350 from Hot Import Nights 2007 Washington DC

A very nice Lexus IS350 which came out not too long ago

Green RX-7 from Hot Import Nights 2007 Washington DC

An RX-7 in the Mazda booth. This car was at the front entrance of the show last year.

Aston Martin from Hot Import Nights 2007 Washington DC

Aston Martin in the Bridgestone tires booth. It’s always awesome seeing expensive cars modified.

Big rims at Hot Import Nights 2007 Washington DC

Some huge rims! They look much bigger in person.

Ferrari F430 and Dodge Viper from Hot Import Nights 2007 Washington DC

Ferrari F430 and a highly modified Dodge Viper SRT10

Yellow 350z from Hot Import Nights 2007 Washington DC

Pretty wild Nissan 350Z with a wide body kit. You can’t see the trunk setup, but it was very extreme.

Smart Car from Hot Import Nights 2007 Washington DC

Smart Cars have barely even been in the US, but that doesn’t stop anybody from modifying it.

Yellow and black Ford Mustang from Hot Import Nights 2007 Washington DC

A done up new Ford Mustang. I love the bumble bee paint scheme.

Mini from Hot Import Nights 2007 Washington DC

A mini that was completely extreme with it’s audio and fiberglass setup. That is the engine compartment! The trunk and interior were just as wild, and no, I don’t know who that guy is.

S15 Nissan Silvia from Hot Import Nights 2007 Washington DC

This is a really slick Nissan 240SX that has been converted to a Japanese S15 Silvia. I’ve always loved this conversion, and hope to have a project 240SX at one point for myself.

Toyota Supra from Hot Import Nights 2007 Washington DC

A Toyota Supra with one of the models from the show. There were a lot of Supra’s at the show.

R34 GT-R Nissan Skyline from Hot Import Nights 2007 Washington DC

An slick looking Nissan Skyline R34 GT-R. There were a good amount of Skyline’s at the show, and this had to be favorite.

R33 Skyline motor from Hot Import Nights 2007 Washington DC

The motor from an R33 Nissan Skyline. Notice the two polished turbos! The engine was clean enough to eat off of.

VIP Infiniti Q45 from Hot Import Nights 2007 Washington DC

This style of modifying is called V.I.P., and was done quite well.

Me in front of a lifted truck at Hot Import Nights 2007 Washington DC

Here’s me standing in front of a seriously lifted Chevy truck. The thing was a monster.

1989 Nissan 240SX from Hot Import Nights 2007 Washington DC

A well done 1989 Nissan 240SX. The car looks amazing for the year it is.

Modified Ferrari F360 Stradale from Hot Import Nights 2007 Washington DC

A highly modified Ferrari F360 Modena Stradale edition. This is my original dream Ferrari, and I plan to have one of these in my garage one day.

Toyota Celica that looks like a Nissan 350Z from Hot Import Nights 2007 Washington DC

This car was one of the best done from a show-perspective. It was a Toyota Celica, but the front half of the car looks just like a Nissan 350Z.

NSX from Hot Import Nights 2007 Washington DC

There were three NSX’s at the show, and this was my favorite. I love the hood scoops!

Audi with turbo scoops from Hot Import Nights 2007 Washington DC

This Audi had a neat concept, they created holes in the hood to mount the turbo’s for maximum air flow.

Mike??s 350Z from Hot Import Nights 2007 Washington DC

This is a buddy of mines Nissan 350Z, you may recognize him as the host from a couple of the episodes from SmashMyViper.com.

Model stage from Hot Import Nights 2007 Washington DC

Not all of the show is cars, they had a main stage with music performers, model contests, and more.

Drifting remote control cars from Hot Import Nights 2007 Washington DC

Shell Gasoline had a booth setup where you can race remote control cars that can drift.

Overall the show was a good one. The weather turned out perfect, but there were definitely less cars than last year. They should have had more cars, and I was actually told that they had overbooked the show, so they were turning some cars away. HIN shows are all over the US, if you’re into cars, definitely check it out.

Using Google Alerts To Track Your Site

Google AlertsGoogle has a simple tool called Google Alerts that allows you to track various queries in its search engine. You simply enter the term you want to search, specify what kind of search you want to do, and how often you want a report.

I currently use Google Alerts to track two queries:

  1. pitlyuk
  2. activetuning

This way if those terms are used on any sites that Google indexes, I will know about it. I know how quickly Google indexes this blog, because I see how long it takes for them to send me a report on “pitlyuk” after I make a post.

The tool is also useful if you are looking to track some sort of news event or topic that you want to see the latest and greatest information on.

Do you use Google Alerts for something in particular? Let me know, I’d be interested in seeing some of the other uses of the tool.

The Rich Get Richer

Most of us have all heard this phrase before, right? Reuters reported on Tuesday that the number of households considered “ultra-rich” have boosted up 23%, and there are now over 1 million classified into this category.

What makes you “ultra-rich”?? You have to have a net worth of $5 million, not including your primary residence. Things you can look at are cash, stocks, cars, investment properties, valuables, etc. The number of households classified in this category went from 930,000 in 2005 to over 1 million in 2006, but that’s not the crazy part. Just 10 years ago in 1996, there were only 250,000 households that could be considered “ultra-rich” in the US.

So the important question to look at is what has been fueling the net worth growth of the US in the past 10 years?? A large part of that I’m sure has been the crazy spike in real estate value over the last 5 years. Other factors that tie into economic growth are stock market gains and the market for private companies. Let’s take Doubleclick for example. The company was taken private by Hellman & Friedman and JMI Equity in 2005 for $1.1 billion. 2 years later in on April 13th, 2007, Google acquires Doubleclick for $3.1 billion cash. 2 years, $2 billion profit.

Another important thing to note is that “the wealthiest households are business owners”. I’m not quite in that category just yet, but I’m working my way up there!

Think About Exit Terms When Starting A Partnership

Two of my businesses are setup as an LLC partnership, ActiveTuning and Tri Megatech. When I was in the process of setting up these businesses, it was important to look at the exit strategy and terms if things were to go awry. Nobody wants to think in negative way, but it is something that needs to be done as a precautionary step if anything. At the least it will force you and your partner to think about certain scenarios that you would have never thought of, and make pre-determined decisions as to what needs to be done.

I just went through this process with Tri Megatech back in late 2006, and some of the main bullets that we thought about were:

  • Money/Stock: How do the funds get split up? How does the percentage of ownership get sold back to the business or shareholder(s)?
  • Flow: What happens to working relationships with vendors, clients, customers, etc?
  • Responsibilities: Where does the responsibility for certain tasks fall?
  • Time Frame: What sort of time frame would the above have to be completed by

Money/Stock

We had to think about what happens to the money that was initially invested into the business, the money that the business had, and how much the business was worth. I would obviously need to be paid back my investment, as it was considered a loan to the business. Technically I own 50% of the business, so I should be getting 50% of the cash that the business has at the time of leaving. The company should have its overall value assessed, including the cash that is on-hand. 50% of the assessed value should be mine, and should be paid back in the terms that are set.

Flow

There needs to be terms about what the process of working relationships with clients, customers, and vendors will be. If I am the partner leaving, I may represent or be the point-of-contact for many people. It should be my responsibility to provide the information to my partner so that he can rightfully take these contacts over. There should also be non-compete terms in the initial agreement to specify whether or not the leaving partner can start a competing business or not. If I could technically start a competing business, it should be specified how those relationships can be used. If these terms are not specified, I could move over all of the clients to my new business, essentially screwing over my business partner.

Responsibilities

If I am the leaving partner, what responsibilities do I have to keep doing, and for how long?? Who will take over my old responsibilities?? One of the main ideas of creating an exit strategy is not screw over the partner that is remaining involved with the business. Your plan should involve the most fair methods for dissolving your portion of the business.

Time Frame

Time frame is one of the most important parts of the exit strategy. In relation to finances, it needs to be pre-determined what amount of time is needed to pay the leaving partner off. More than likely a business will not be in a position to just pay somebody a large percentage of their value right away. The business is used to running things a certain way with certain expenses, and it may be detrimental to give up much of its funds at one time. A plan to pay back over time is more than likely a must. In our situation, we decided to pay the leaving partner over the course of six months.

The same goes for responsibilities. The business may have to hire additional employees in order to pick up the responsibilities that the leaving partner held. This takes time, and it may be necessary that the leaving partner continues to complete some of his roles.

This is a high-level look at some of the things you need to think about when entering a partnership agreement. I would highly recommend doing further research in order to write-up a complete contract before you go into business with a partner. Here are a few resources to help you along your path: