Choosing the Right Neighborhood for Flipping Houses, by Justin DeVinney

As with other forms of real estate transactions, flipping houses successfully comes down to location, location, location. Consider the following factors when evaluating a property’s profit potential in this niche:

1. What are the real estate values in general in the area? Look for steady or rising prices.

2. Check listings for recently sold homes. Did they receive multiple offers? If so, that represents healthy interest in the neighborhood. In addition, a decrease in the number of rentals indicates positive growth in the sales market.

3. What are the demographics like? Areas with aging homeowners or with homes built more than 20 years ago may present good opportunities for flipping.

4. Don’t rely on the word of one agent. Talk to several agents in the different areas you are considering. The more people you speak to, the better feel you will get for where you need to invest. Make sure the agent you ultimately choose knows every aspect of the area in question.

About Justin DeVinney: An account executive for a public relations and marketing firm in Alexandria, Virginia, Justin DeVinney is an experienced real estate investor.


Four Common Mistakes in House Flipping, by Justin DeVinney

In recent years, house flipping - the act of buying an undesirable house and improving it to sell for profit - has become a popular source of extra income for many individuals. However, there are a few mistakes that newcomers commonly make: 

1. Having an Insufficient Amount of Time: Many people underestimate the amount of time it will take to flip a house. 
2. Not Having the Right Skills: People frequently assume they will be able to do all the work on a house themselves. People who can do the work themselves are more likely to make a profit than those who need to hire professionals, but not having the right skills and tools can make this job very difficult, costly, and time-consuming.
3. Underestimating Costs of Remodeling: The ability to assess correctly how much money must be invested in a project comes with experience. 
4. Not Being Patient: Anxious to recapture their investment, many house flippers try to complete the remodel hastily and hire pricey real estate agents and contractors rather than doing the research and finding the best deal. 

Justin DeVinney is in the business of flipping homes. In the past year, he has renovated and sold over ten houses in the Northern Virginia area. 


Justin DeVinney’s Racing Experience

My first car-racing experience was in Birmingham, Alabama, through the Porsche Sport Driving School. There, I spent three days behind the wheels of various Porsche models from the school’s fleet. An intense and amazing opportunity, it solidified my love of car racing and let me experience the real capabilities of these high-performance vehicles. I now own a 2007 911 Carrera Twin Turbo, and look for opportunities to take it out on tracks. It is already an incredible car, and besides purchasing and installing an engine control unit upgrade from Fabspeed Motorsports, I have made no other modifications.

I constantly strive to develop my racing skills, and regularly participate in high performance drivers education events to improve my technique. These programs usually involve driving a course with an instructor in the passenger seat. My instructor uses a headset to communicate with me, coaching me along the track by offering tips and directions. Once I have met the instructor’s approval for a given course or program, I am free to enjoy the track while driving solo.

One of the events I am a big fan of is Friday at the Track, which takes place at Summit Point Motorsports Park in West Virginia. New drivers usually begin on the main raceway, the Summit Point Circuit, but the park also offers two other courses: Shenandoah, which provides more technical challenges; and Jefferson, a short seven-turn course that I find to be the most fun. I’ve also completed high performance driving courses at Watkins Glen International and Virginia International Raceway. Although drivers at these courses are not technically racing to win, we are all very competitive and enjoy the thrill of performing at our best. This year I plan to drive at all three raceways.

I remain a committed car enthusiast, holding membership in the Porsche Club of America, the National Auto Sport Association, and the Sports Car Club of America. I find racing provides a good balance for my career at PCI Communications, where I have served as an Account Executive for more than eight years.


Justin Devinney on the Top Social Networking Sites for Small Businesses

Justin Devinney

1. Facebook

On Facebook, small businesses create their own profiles which users subsequently “like,” meaning that they promote the product or service. As more users “like” the business, Facebook displays the business to those users’ friends. In other words, Facebook facilitates free viral marketing that opens up new markets not just in the United States, but around the world. 2. Twitter

Allowing companies to send short messages known as “tweets” to followers, Twitter empowers companies to communicate with existing and potential customers instantaneously and free of charge. When companies promote their Twitter accounts and build faithful legions of followers, they can inform those individuals about sales, promotions, and new products or services. As these users re-tweet to their own followers, excitement about the company rapidly amasses. 3. Foursquare

Through foursquare, users promote companies by “checking in” to a location, meaning that they send a message about their current activity to their entire social network. Users may set up their foursquare accounts to forward their location to Facebook and Twitter, granting optimal exposure. Businesses may work directly with foursquare to set up promotions for foursquare users, such as discounts or free products when they check into the business. Through such deals, businesses encourage new customers to visit and reward those who return, building loyalty. 4. LinkedIn

The social network for professionals, businesses may also create accounts on LinkedIn through which they recruit new employees, find sales leads, and establish new business relationships. Small businesses quickly grow and expand through their LinkedIn accounts, building a network of trusted industry professionals and potential business associates. Organic users also employ LinkedIn to find exciting new businesses and opportunities in their areas. 5. YouTube

Although many see YouTube as a location for sharing silly videos and wasting time, the site has become a powerful business tool. Businesses may post promotional videos, exciting news, interviews, and many other valuable resources on YouTube. By promoting the YouTube account to customers, businesses build a fan base. Users may also share their favorite videos with their social network, posting links to Facebook, Twitter, and other social networking sites. One of the largest advantages of YouTube is that businesses may embed their YouTube videos on their own sites and allow other users to do the same. 6. Flickr

Similar to YouTube except with pictures rather than video, Flickr allows businesses to market themselves through visuals and build a strong online media presence. When individuals search a company name on Google, related videos and pictures often appear in the search results. By posting pictures on Flickr and videos on YouTube, businesses take charge of their Google search results and ultimately appear more credible to potential customers, employees, and partners.


Alexandria, Virginia

by Justin DeVinney

I currently live in the city of Alexandria, Virginia, where I work as an Account Executive for PCI Communications. Alexandria is a beautiful city located along the Potomac River, and it is just minutes from the center of Washington, D.C. Since the town is located in such close proximity to Washington, D.C., many of the city’s inhabitants work in the nation’s capital. Alexandria is a great place for those who want to live close to the capital without having to deal with the hustle and bustle of Washington, D.C.

While Alexandria was founded in 1749, it wasn’t incorporated as an official town of the United States until 1779. Before Alexandria was incorporated, locals called the city “Belhaven,” most likely in honor of Scottish nobleman John Hamilton, 2nd Lord Belhaven and Stenton, but the name never earned official approval. The city of Alexandria has been home to many war battles, including a raid on the town during the War of 1812 and numerous skirmishes in the American Civil War.

The city, which boasts more than 155,000 residents according to the 2010 U.S. Census, features seven official neighborhoods: Old Town, Parker Gray, Arlandria, Del Ray, West End, Carlyle and Eisenhower Valley. On the whole, Alexandria’s crime rate has declined since the 1970s, with crime levels under the national average as of 2008. I find that the city is pleasant, and I enjoy living and working in Alexandria, Virginia.