Carole VanSickle Ellis

  • Carole VanSickle Ellis serves as the news editor and COO of Self-Directed Investor (SDI) Society, a membership organization dedicated to the needs of self-directed investors interested in alternative investment vehicles, including real estate. Learn more at or reach Carole directly by emailing

Sustainable Investing

Saving the Planet Without Sacrificing Real Estate Returns

Loggerhead sea turtles eat their weight in jellyfish each day. When you weigh 400 pounds or more, that’s a lot of jellyfish. Unfortunately, when the turtles swim through swarms of jellyfish, vacuuming them down, they eat quite a few plastic bags in the process. When that happens, over time the ...

1031 Exchanges, Opportunity Zones & Self-Directed Retirement Accounts

Whether you have been in real estate for one day or more than a decade, you can’t miss the current buzz about opportunity zones. Did you know the deadline for investing in a qualified opportunity zone (QOZ) is almost here? As that deadline approaches, investors and fund managers are becoming ...

Spring into Real Estate Growth

If daffodils are blooming in the yards of local listings these days, then you may be considering making a horrible real estate investing mistake. Thanks to the toxic combination of media headlines proclaiming the “spring home-buying season” is upon us and misconceptions among new investors about just how to find ...
Featured BenCaballero

Ben Caballero: Specializing in Success

| Article | Profiles, Topics
You might think setting a Guinness World Record for being the most productive real estate agent in the world would be the peak of any real estate professional's career, but when Ben Caballero, CEO and president of, earned the title, he was just getting started. In fact, after qualifying ...

Expert Commentary: George Ratiu, NAR’s Director of Housing and Commercial Research

| Article | Market & Trends
George Ratiu, director of housing and commercial research for the National Association of Realtors (NAR), manages a research team focused on macroeconomic trends, commercial real estate, and global investments. He also produces NAR’s quarterly forecast, the “Commercial Real Estate Outlook,” and is a master of evaluating historical data through the ...

Real Estate Market Trend Spotlight: Senior Living

Although most baby boomers are still about a decade away from hitting the stage in their lives when they will be seriously considering their options in senior living, the real estate sector is getting ready now. From active adult communities to co-living spaces for seniors who need non-skilled care (not ...
Jacksonville Florida

Market Spotlight: Jacksonville, Florida

Jacksonville, Florida, spent 2018 quietly living up to its nickname, “The Bold New City of the South,” and is poised as a significant real estate investment destination in 2019. “We believe Jacksonville is one of the best real estate markets in the country, with 24.1 percent population growth since 2000, ...
Kyle Blake

Renovation Rockstar: A Small House Gets a Big Makeover

| Article | Topics
Investor’s Notes: Location: West Plaza area of Kansas City, Missouri Purchase Price: $80,000 Rehab & Carrying Costs: $35,000 Market Value: est. $175,000 Strategy: Cash-out refi with a 30-year note, added to his rental portfolio When Kyle Blake, owner at Kyle Blake Homes and a Berkshire Hathaway agent, first saw the ...

Powerful Data Produces Good Business

| Article | Market & Trends
“The role of chief economist  at Fannie Mae is a little different than a chief economist role anywhere else,” Doug Duncan, Fannie Mae’s chief economist, started out. He then went on to detail a list of responsibilities, data and analytics sources and reports, and economic teams under his supervision that ...

5 Things to Consider Before a Home Giveaway

| Article | Operations
It’s as much a part of the season as mistletoe and silver bells. The annual home giveaway season starts just after Halloween when Christmas lights and holiday dazzle show up on your retailer’s shelves. Among the biggest operators of home-giveaways is St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital. St. Jude's raffles local ...
MarketAnalysis GrandRapids Featured

Real Estate Market Spotlight: Grand Rapids, Michigan

Grand Rapids, Michigan, has recently received an ambitious title: “A Grand Investment.” The label, derived from an ongoing series of studies and articles commissioned and created by a local “destination marketing organization,” certainly fits the local real estate market. In the past 18 months, the second-largest city in Michigan has ...

How Housing Will Change Now that Millennial Buyers Dominate the Market

| Article | Market & Trends
The millennials are about to arrive in force on the national housing market, and, as usual, they are about to change everything. The first “fully digital” generation (although not all were raised on electronic devices like Gen Z) is emerging, finally, as a force to be recognized in housing. 10 ...

Renovation Spotlight: Full-Speed Flipping

Jamie Wooley’s most recent deal is a 2,000-square-foot Texas home that she made over from the foundation up in just over two months. “We had to do basically everything to this one: foundation, new roof, new windows, all new flooring, opened up a wall in the galley kitchen, the works!” ...
Policy MidTermElections Featured

3 Real Estate-Related Factors Emerging in the 2018 Midterm Elections

| Article | Operations
The 2018 midterm elections promise to be contentious. In the midst of the furor over alleged bad behavior on all sides, social media sparring, deep-seated partisan squabbling, and a visceral reaction to many of the major players in American politics today, housing policy may seem like a relatively calm port ...

The 3 Least Energy-Efficient States in the Country

| Article | Market & Trends
Given that energy is one of the biggest household expenses for American consumers, it is not surprising that homeowners and renters alike say energy efficiency is important to them. However, not all buyers and tenants actually act on those stated preferences, and some states do not make being energy efficiency ...
George Koo

Forensic Investing, Risk Management & Real Estate

| Article | Profiles
George Koo's Professional Profile Academic Background: PhD in Quantitative Finance & Technology: Virginia Tech (in process) Master of Liberal Arts in International Realations: Harvard University Chartered Financial Analyst Certified Public Accountant MBA and BS in Finance and Accounting, respectively: St. John’s University Professional Positions & Experience: CEO & Chief Investment ...

4 Things Jamie Wooley Wishes Every New Investor Knew

“One of the deals I learned the most from was also one of my biggest losses,” Jamie Wooley admitted ruefully. “It was a historic renovation (images top and below), so we took a 700-square-foot property and added 2,000 square feet. It’s one of my favorite transformations, but it was also ...

5 Best Retirement Cities for Active Adults

| Article | Market & Trends
One of the most important considerations for aging Americans is whether they can afford retirement. According to a recent survey from the Employee Benefit Research Institute, fewer than one in five workers are "very confident" they will have enough money to retire. This places a heavy focus on affordability in ...

Vintage Style Brings Loyal Tenants, Steady Returns

Carla Price has always run her real estate business her own way, and that has created a unique demand for her boutique, vintage apartments in Chicago that has lasted more than 50 years. Price started her real estate business in the DePaul area of Lincoln Park in the 1960s and ...

Top 3 Cities for Solo First-Time Homebuyers

| Article | Market & Trends
As more homebuyers opt to buy a home without a spouse or partner, American homebuying patterns are shifting with the trend. According to Pew Research, about 42 percent of Americans lived without a spouse or partner in 2017. That number is up three percent from a decade prior. For individuals ...

Millennials Placing Top Priority on Homeownership

| Article | Market & Trends
Millennials are placing a high value on homeownership these days. In fact, they may prioritize it over other life milestones, including marriage and having children. A recent report from Bank of America—the Homebuyer Insights Report—indicates nearly three in four millennials consider homeownership a top priority. Respondents equated homeownership to a status ...
Market Analyst Predicts “Pain Point” is Coming

Market Analyst Predicts “Pain Point” is Coming

| Article | Market & Trends
Market Analyst Wolf Richter is warning real estate investors that the line in the sand for real estate may come sooner than expected. Richter, author of the Wolf Street Blog, writes the movement of the average interest rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage with a 20 percent down payment over ...
San Francisco Investor Replaces Ranch Home with $20 Million Mansion

San Francisco Investor Replaces Ranch Home with $20 Million Mansion

| Article | Market & Trends
When you think of a hot housing market, you probably think of a sellers’ market. In this scenario, sellers sit in the catbird seat. Eager buyers make their highest and best offers as quickly as they can, in hopes of snagging a property. This describes much of the Bay Area ...
OREIA’s National Real Estate Summit to Focus on Emerging Industry Issues

OREIA’s National Real Estate Summit to Focus on Emerging Industry Issues

| Article | Market & Trends
*Sponsored Content The Ohio Real Estate Investors Association (OREIA)’s 33rd National Real Estate Summit will tackle tough topics in the industry this year, including how to find deals in inventory-tight markets, how to make money with small, residential income properties, and how to find funding for your deals. The summit ...

Areas Affected by Hurricane Florence Could See Vets in Foreclosure

| Article | Market & Trends
Areas of North and South Carolina affected by Hurricane Florence could experience long-term fallout in their housing markets. Carolinas Have a Higher Rate of VA Mortgages The FEMA-declared disaster region contains 1.2 million properties. According to a study from Black Knight Inc., about 474,000 properties have at least one mortgage ...