Thursday, January 12 2012
Borrowers who have a history of paying rent on time may see a boost to their credit score.
Experian, a leading credit report company, added a section to its credit reports last year that reflected on-time rent payments, which helped give a boost in the credit scores to some on-time rent payers. Now the two other major credit reporting companies are following suit.
CoreLogic and FICO recently announced they are also adding a score that reflects payment histories from landlords, The New York Times reports.
“Evidence of positive rental payments could be a plus for consumers,” Joanne Gaskin, FICO’s director of product management global scoring, told The New York Times.
Nearly half of high-risk consumers saw an increase of 100 points or more after their rental history was added to their credit report, says Brannan Johnston, the managing director of Experian’s rent bureau. Consumers with average or higher credit scores, on the other hand, did not see any major difference to their scores.
For former home owners who lost their homes to foreclosure, they may be able to rebuild their credit histories more quickly now by showing they are “very responsible renters,” Tim Grace, senior vice president of CoreLogic, told The New York Times.
Source: “A Good Rental History Can Help Borrowers,” The New York Times (Jan. 5, 2012)
Friday, December 02 2011
The ultimate goal of investing in rental property is to turn a profit. To ensure that you achieve that goal it is essential that you follow several critical guidelines.
First, always make sure that you check tenant references. This can be a burdensome step and many landlords overlook it because they feel as though they have good instinct when they meet with the tenant. But not checking references can lead to a number of problems later on. You will uncover a wealth of information about potential problems before you rent to a prospective tenant.
Second, make sure you have everything in writing. This is to protect your rights as a landlord as well as the rights of your tenants. Everything from the code of conduct you expect your tenants to abide by while renting your property to the rental application itself must be in writing.
Third, you will find that you have better success with your rental property if you take the time to ensure that it is both secure and clean. The grounds of the property should be free of litter and trimmed regularly. Not only will the property be more visually appealing but these actions will also assist you with property liability. You will also want to take additional security measures. Extra security may be able to lower your insurance premiums as well as provide an incentive to quality tenants to rent your property when they know it is secure.
If you decide to hire a property manager, take the time to interview prospective candidates very carefully. Property managers can be very helpful if you don't have the time to manage the property yourself. This is especially true if your property is a long distance away from you. The wrong property manager can cause you problems with poor tenant screening and delayed lease up times. This means that you will need to hire a thoroughly responsible and professional individual to handle the job. Always ask for referrals.
Always make sure that you obtain adequate insurance. Not only should you have property insurance but you should also have liability insurance. One incident is all it takes to wipe out your investment. Also check with your state to determine if any additional insurance coverage is required.
Regardless of the condition the property was in when you purchased it, there will come a time when repairs are needed. This is part and parcel of owning rental property. If you take too long to make repairs, not only will your property suffer and repairs will ultimately cost more to take care of but you will also likely lose quality tenants as well. By making sure you handle repairs promptly you will be able to maintain the life of your property as well as retain good tenants.
Always make sure that you follow all applicable regulations in the renting of your investment property. The Fair Housing Administration Act provides precise regulations in order to prevent discrimination. If you violate those regulations you could find yourself facing a lawsuit that is costly in terms of time as well as money. The best course of action is to take the time to do your homework and consult an attorney experienced in real estate matters for guidance regarding the FHA as well as ensuring that you have the proper forms. Good property managers will already be versed in these regulations.
Finally, make sure that you do not violate the privacy of your tenants. Check with your state's regulations to find out whether you must provide any type of notice to your tenant before you enter the dwelling.
Following these guidelines will help you to retain good quality tenants and avoid any potential legal problems. After all, happy tenants make for happy landlords!
Wednesday, June 22 2011
Some home owners are getting a surprise when a person shows up on their doorstep, with a lease agreement in hand, saying that he or she is renting out their home, which isn’t for rent but for sale.
Law enforcement and real estate professionals are finding a growing scam involving for-sale listings being promoted as rentals--without home owners’ consent.
Scammers are taking listing information of homes for-sale--including photos--and then reposting that information on rental sites and tweaking it to pass the home off as a rental. The scammers then use a fake lease agreement and collect rent from unsuspecting consumers.
And when the scammers don’t present keys for the property, they give the unsuspecting renter permission to call a locksmith to gain access to the home.
Les Sulgrove, president of the Des Moines Area Association of REALTORS®, recently issued a warning to association members about the scam. He suggested real estate professionals set up Google alerts for the home addresses they’re listing so they’ll learn if their clients’ information is being misused on another site.
“All it takes is cutting, pasting, and changing some key pieces of data,” Geoff Greenwood, spokesperson for the Iowa Attorney General’s office, told the Des Moines Register. “People find out the hard way what they paid for wasn’t for sale or for rent.”
Source: “Growing Online Scam Uses Legitimate for-sale Home Listings to Trick Renters,” Des Moines Register (June 5, 2011)
Thursday, May 27 2010
While being a landlord certainly has its cons, tops among its pros are the tax deductions for rental homes enjoyed by owners.
From finding tenants to fixing faucets, renting out a home can be a lot of work. Yet perhaps the biggest reward for being a landlord isn’t the rent checks, but rather the considerable tax deductions for rental homes.
Writing off rental home expenses
Many rental home expenses are tax deductible. Save receipts and any other documentation, and take the deductions on Schedule E. Figure you’ll spend four hours a week, on average, maintaining a rental property, including recordkeeping.
Less obvious deductions include expenses to obtain a mortgage, and fees charged by an accountant to prepare your Schedule E. And don’t forget that a rental home can even be a houseboat or trailer, as long as there are sleeping, cooking, and bathroom facilities.
Limits on travel expenses
You can deduct expenses related to traveling locally to a rental home for such activities as showing it, collecting rent, or doing maintenance. If you use your own car, you can claim the standard mileage rate of 55 cents per mile (in 2009).
Repairs vs. improvements
Another area that requires rental home owners to tread carefully is repairs vs. improvements. The tax code lets you write off repairs—any fixes that keep your property in working condition—immediately as you would other expenses. The costs of improvements that add value to a rental property or extend its life must instead be depreciated over several years. (More on depreciation below.)
Depreciation refers to the value of property that’s lost over time due to wear and tear. In the case of improvements to a rental home, you can deduct a portion of that lost value every year over a set number of years. Carpeting and appliances in a rental home, for example, are usually depreciated over five years.
Profits and losses on rental homes
The rent you collect from your tenant every month counts as income. You offset that income, and lower your tax bill, by deducting your rental home expenses including depreciation. If, for example, you received $9,600 rent during the year and had expenses of $4,200, then your taxable rental income would be $5,400 ($9,600 in rent minus $4,200 in expenses).
Tax rules for vacation homes
If you have a vacation home that’s mostly reserved for personal use but rented out for up to 14 days a year, you won’t have to pay taxes on the rental income. Some expenses are deductible, though the personal use of the home limits deductions.