Thursday, October 30 2014
You’re about to close a deal to become a tenant. The landlord seems like a straight shooter and the place is a joy: immaculate and welcoming. Now all that’s left is to wait for the landlord’s okay after an evaluation of you as the new tenant, right?
Well, not quite. Just as the landlord should check financial or job references as part of their due diligence, you have some to perform for your own benefit. It’s up to you to assess the landlord’s system to determine whether this rental arrangement is the good fit you hope it is. Only by asking pertinent questions can you decide whether the landlord’s management style and expectations align with your needs.
1. Do you offer emergency maintenance services?
When a plumbing leak becomes uncontrollable or the heater goes out on a cold winter night, you need maintenance assistance quickly. Find out how quickly your landlord can respond—and how readily he or she answers. An experienced landlord is familiar with the inevitability of maintenance emergencies—and isn’t surprised (or put off) by the question. A great landlord is confident of the system he or she has put in place!
2. What are my maintenance responsibilities?
Lease language can be less than precise about the tenant’s responsibilities—most often when it comes to outdoor areas. A lease might vaguely state that the tenant is responsible for general lawn maintenance. Ask your landlord to pinpoint the specifics, and jot down notes that you can refer to later. Some landlords might expect mowing the lawn and weeding planted areas; others might expect you to attend to more, such as lawn treatments. Finding out your landlord’s specific expectations will give you a sense of the upkeep requirements for your end. It can’t help but minimize the possibility of any future conflict.
3. Is there a homeowners association?
As a rental tenant, most likely you won’t be responsible for any homeowners association dues. However, you might be subject to its rules and regulations. For example, if the association has strict lawn care requirements and you are responsible for garden maintenance, you should know about those details. If your landlord answers yes to this question, ask for a copy of the association rules.
4. What are my responsibilities before I vacate the property?
It’s not being overly negative to bring up the subject of the end of your tenancy. When you move out of a rental home, you want to leave the property in good condition so that you are not hit with any charges—or see your security deposit disappear without good reason. Find out if your landlord has any specific requirements, such as professional carpet cleaning or filling the holes in the wall.
5. How do I contact you on nights and weekends?
Problems with your rental unit do not always occur Monday to Friday, 9 to 5. By asking your landlord for contact information during non-business hours, you get a sense of how accessible he or she is. If he or she willingly gives you a cellphone number, you’ve probably found a landlord who will be easy to work with— and easy to track down should problems arise!
My work as a Realtor® lets me help set the stage for tenants and landlords to create a mutually beneficial relationship. If you are looking to purchase an income property taking advantage of this fall’s very favorable terms, don’t hesitate to give me a call! You can reach me on my cell phone 812-499-9234 or email: Rolando@RolandoTrentini.com
Wednesday, June 19 2013
With housing prices on the rebound, it’s easy to see why some homeowners find buying an additional property an increasingly attractive possibility. Getting into the landlord business offers the appeal of a growth investment coupled with the possibility of a favorable cash flow situation.
That said, make no mistake about it: renting a home in Evansville is its own business enterprise. Becoming a landlord means making business decisions that carry elements of risk as well as reward. When renting a home in Evansville, there are a number of common — but avoidable — first-time landlord mistakes:
Fair Housing Violations
From the moment you begin marketing your income property, the language in your ad can easily run afoul of the fair housing rules that prohibit discrimination. Avoid phrases that single out any particular group or profile, such as “family-friendly,” “suitable for a couple,” or “singles only.” Since violations can run up to six figures, make sure your ad simply describes the property and the neighborhood in generic terms — and be prepared to accept the first qualified applicant who meets your terms.
Credit Report Mistakes
Another common mistake when renting a home in Evansville is to fail to adequately qualify applicants. Today, accepting credit reports supplied by the applicants themselves is a gamble. Run credit reports yourself (including an eviction check for every applicant over the age of 18). You want to see the history of ALL applicants who will be living in your income property.
Security Deposit Mistakes
When it comes to the security deposit, taking too much – or not enough – is another common first-timer misstep. Too little and you won’t have enough protection; too much, and you risk violating state regulations (with the possibility of jeopardizing your right to use any of the funds!).
Renting a home can be an outstanding wealth-building venture, but your responsibilities as landlord must be taken seriously. For anyone unsure about legal requirements, hiring a professional property management agency can make good business sense. I’m here with recommendations for my clients on these and all other matters that accompany your real estate opportunities. You can reach me on my cell phone 812-499-9234 or email Rolando@RolandoTrentini.com
Monday, April 15 2013
According to the latest from the U.S. Census Bureau, renters comprise about 35% of all households. That’s a pretty healthy portion of the nation’s population — and a pretty encouraging market-share statistic for investors considering properties capable of generating income to build long-term wealth.
More than just an investment, the own-to-rent model is actually a simplified small business. It has a financing part, an accounting part, and (the time-consuming element): a management part. Effective management means dealing with labor (maintenance personnel), customers (the renters), and a Board of Directors (the ownership: in this case, you!). Not a surprise that many income property owners decide to make themselves the Board, and hire out the rest of property management.
Some business truisms point to sound reasons for that decision:
A local income property should let you be in control of your investment — not become a time slave to it. Some properties seem to want to be tough bosses themselves — with needs to be addressed on an unpredictable timetable. By employing a company specializing in local property management, you divert the 2 a.m. phone calls and headaches to them. Sleep tight!
As with any business enterprise, identifying and limiting risk is smart planning. A management company will help you work through Fair Housing obligations as well as the legal requirements you need to address. Even small mistakes in this department can cost, so prudently and professionally limiting liability is just good business.
Naturally, the major offsetting factor is cost. At somewhere in the neighborhood of 6%-12 of rental income, it is definitely an issue. Yet some veteran investors find that professional property management actually saves money in the long term. A reputable area property management company may be able to spot ways to reduce operating costs and maximize rental amounts, as well as shorten costly downtimes between tenants.
If you are looking to purchase an income property in our area, it’s important to assess all aspects of the investment — and property management is one that’s well worth investigating. I’m happy to offer vetted local references for my clients anytime. You can reach me in my cell phone at 812-499-9234 or by email Rolando@RolandoTrentini.com
Friday, February 15 2013
To the extent that rentals reflect wider real estate movement, there is good news and bad news for Evansville tenants. It all depends on how they view it (and how they chart their personal housing strategy). The bad news was not unexpected: for the third straight year, rents were up across the nation in 2012, according to apartment housing industry expert MPF Research.
Although rents rose at a slightly slower pace than in 2011, national forecasts are calling for rent increases in 2013 that match last year’s. The research firm said that apartment rents climbed 3.0% in 2012, down from 4.8% in 2011, but again were above the long-term norm of 2.5% registered over the past 20 years.
For tenants currently in rentals -- both apartments and single-family homes -- rents may be heading up, but the good news is that this price pressure has not yet resulted in a less friendly home buying environment. “Loss of renters to purchase in the now-improving for-sale housing market is having only a very small impact,” according to MPF’s report. In other words, rentals are not being lost in large number even though rents are rising, so floods of first-time homebuyers are not yet adding significant upward pressure on single-family home pricing.
Even with housing prices on the rebound, first-time homebuyers who decide to leave the world of rentals to buy a home now will still benefit from the record low interest rates and distressed property bargains that result in historically affordable home prices.
Another group that would hail rising rental rates are investors. "Most places are starved for new product right now, so properties that will complete over the coming year appear likely to do incredibly well, generally without hurting the results for the existing stock," according to Greg Willett, MPF’s vice president.
Whether you are looking to buy or sell a rental home in Evansville or the surrounding areas, conditions warrant a thorough look at the opportunities available now and those opening this spring. Call me to get started on a plan of action! You can reach me on my cell phone at 812-499-9234.
Thursday, February 07 2013
Ultra-low mortgage rates mixed with housing affordability has made investing in a rental property pay off for investors. Many investors have eyed foreclosures, snagging them at rock-bottom prices, and turning them into rentals. Some home owners have also used the downturn in housing to purchase second homes and then rent out their first property, the Associated Press reports.
Demand for rental housing remains strong. "In this market, at this point, it's a sweet spot," says Chris Princis, a senior executive at financial advisory firm Brook-Hollow Financial and owner of two rental properties in Chicago. "You're getting the market where it's just starting to rebound, but still at the bottom, with what's looking to be a great recovery."
In earning a profit on a rental investment, Princis uses a formula: He charges 15 percent above monthly mortgage and maintenance costs. But it’s also important to know what comparable apartments are going for, and to be flexible in case you’re unable to find a tenant for months, experts note.
The best investments for rentals typically prove to be in areas with a strong history of rental demand, such as neighborhoods near universities or homes in residential areas that are near schools to attract families.
Source: “Got Cash, Good Credit? Experts Say Owning Rental Housing Can Pay Off Even as Market Recovers,” The Associated Press (Feb. 6, 2013)
Thursday, January 17 2013
The real estate climate forecast for the coming year is partly sunny -- and warming up! Yet, with no double-digit appreciation in sight, some who plan on selling a home inEvansville face the very practical question: is the winter of ’13 the right time to sell?
For those who stand to make a gain from selling, the decision boils down to convenience. Whether sale prices rise or fall, the cost of their next home will probably move in the same direction.
But what about those who suspect that the overhang from the financial crisis will probably result in some degree of net loss? How do they decide whether it makes more sense to sell and take the loss, or to rent -- and wait? Emotions aside, the financial impacts can be examined. If you are considering selling a home in the area and don’t stand to make a profit, asking yourself some questions can help reach a decision:
· Can I afford to take a loss? If you might need cash from your current property to purchase another, waiting is likely to be the safest course.
· If I have to take a loss, will there be a tax advantage to doing so in 2013? If you expect to sell a business or come into any other form of extra income during this tax year, check with your CPA to see if this year’s the right time.
· If I choose to rent my home, am I prepared to be a landlord? Are you up-to-date on applicable federal and local fair housing ordinances and tenants’ rights issues? If not, it’s practical to factor in the cost of a property management agency (usually 7 – 15%)
· Am I prepared to wait it out? If you decide to rent a local home and wait for the market to catch up to your profit goals, are you prepared to wait X years before selling? On-again off-again selling decisions can result in high tenant turnover -- which eats into your bottom line.
Selling a home vs. renting it out is a decision only you can make -- why starting with accurate information is so important. I will be happy to meet for a confidential consultation on the value of your local home in today’s market. It is a very good place to start.
Tuesday, December 18 2012
“High rental occupancy and rising rents” was how economic trend-watcher Kiplinger.com summed up 2012 – and as the nation counts down to the New Year, owners and future owners oflocalrental property are clearly anticipating more of the same. Experienced managers have some timely advice for first-time Evansville rental property owners as they prepare to lease in the coming year.
Rule #1 for attracting quality tenants, they say, is to be hard-nosed about offering a quality product. Rentals are hot, but that doesn’t mean a property will rent itself – especially when the goal is to attract the kind of conscientious tenant who means a trouble-free income stream.
Touch-up and trim renewal can be a quick, cost-conscious way to add appeal to any rental property. Restoration Hardware’s neutral palate (and Benjamin Moore’s counter-offering) are excellent sources for trim colors which breathe new life and visual interest into just about any décor.
Replacing older carpet is a more costly (though eventually inevitable) way to make a big difference in key first impressions; while simply polishing middle-aged hardware can revitalize an otherwise aged look.
Property managers also suggest replacing older appliances in the kitchen before they become failure-prone. Even where there is no budget for new cabinets and countertops, a little stainless steel can command a higher rent – and literally pay for itself.
Rental properties have been a hot topic for more than a year – but opportunities remain. Whether you are preparing to rent property you already own, or are simply weighing the prospects, the New Year promises to be a propitious time to look into our current Evansville rental property offerings. Sound interesting? Call me! You can call me on my cell phone
Monday, November 26 2012
According to the non-profit Demand Institute, this year nearly 35% of housing in the United States is now categorized as rental property. In our area as elsewhere, some of these properties belong to “accidental” landlords -- folks who had to relocate for professional or other reasons, but didn’t (or couldn’t) sell. Many others decided to buy investment properties when the prices of homes dropped so dramatically. One way or another, this fall a good many of our neighbors find themselves in the position of owning rental property for the first time.
What all new and long-time landlords have in common is the simple need to secure a trouble-free tenancy – which in many cases means securing professional property management. If you have a rental property yet are on the fence about the cost, some of the considerations that point to a professional for your property management solution look like these:
· A reputable localproperty management company knows how to find and screen qualified tenants at the same time they are complying with local and federal Fair Housing laws. It amounts to protecting you from potential lawsuits.
· Reputable property managers will take care of rental collections, protecting the cash flow that makes your investment worthwhile.
· Tenants who are handled professionally tend to stay longer – and that cuts down on costly turnover expenses.
· Experienced property management companies make sure that repair and maintenance work is completed promptly by licensed and insured professionals. This protects your asset while minimizing potential liability.
Property management may not seem to be the lowest cost solution, but for landlords who cannot spare the time to manage their property legally and carefully, finding one of the stellar property management companies in Evansville the best bet to protect that underlying asset and keep cash flowing. If you are one of those new ‘accidental’ landlords or are considering buying or selling an investment property, I am happy to share some of the best contacts in the industry! You can reach me on my cell phone at 812-499-9234.
Friday, November 09 2012
Fifty percent of Americans recently surveyed say they expect home rental prices to rise in the next year, and it’s making them lean more toward home ownership, according to the Fannie Mae October National Housing Survey, which surveyed 1,000 Americans.
"This has been a year of steady growth in the percentage of consumers with positive home price expectations," says Doug Duncan, Fannie Mae’s senior vice president and chief economist. "Increasing household formation, encouraged by an improving labor market, is adding additional momentum to the housing recovery and putting upward pressure on rental price expectations. Expected increases in both owning and renting costs may encourage more consumers to buy and add further strength to the housing recovery already under way."
Rental price expectations continue to rise and are much higher than home price expectations, according to Fannie Mae.
More Americans say that with rising rents, home ownership is looking like a better option. Seventy-two percent of those surveyed say that now is a good time to purchase a home. Eighteen percent say it’s a good time to sell.
Still, the optimism over the direction of the housing market is met with some caution and predictions of a slow recovery--not a high speed one, according to Fannie.
Source: Fannie Mae
Friday, August 24 2012
For everyone who rents (or leases) Evansville rental homes, it’s a choice that comes up every year: rent or buy. In addition to the common sense considerations everyone brings to that important decision, some financial measurements have been developed through the years that attempt to bring an element of rationality to a largely subjective decision.
Actually penciling out an answer isn’t always satisfactory because it is literally impossible to quantify elements like peace of mind. To some who own their homes, there is great peace of mind in controlling their own destiny. To others, the worry of being responsible for a home’s maintenance or taxes makes the ‘peace of mind’ factor a wash -- or even a negative.
Likewise, those who lease rental homes may find the lack of responsibility liberating…or the lack of control bothersome. It’s a personal preference. What makes it even less subject to mathematical measurement is that anyone’s preference is likely to change due to life and career factors. (Just try to measure that, bean counters!)
All this is to introduce a new one of those metrics just introduced by Zillow this month. The metric, which is a pretty clever one, was introduced in an online article by Zillow’s Nalina Varanasi. Her all-but-hilarious introduction describes traditional methods used to try to quantify the rental homes vs. owned homes financial tradeoffs. The unintentional amusement arises from the 850 words and seven paragraphs it takes to describe just two of them. The mind-numbingly complex ratios-divided-by-more-ratios explanations are invariably followed by phrases like, ‘but the main problem with this’ or ‘still, this doesn’t account for…’
Zillow’s new measurement is also exceedingly complex, but yields one simple number. They call it the ‘Breakeven Horizon.’ It's the number of years after which buying becomes more financially rewarding than renting. (At the exact number, it wouldn’t make a difference one way or the other). Since the Breakeven Horizon can’t take into account the very real personal value judgments, it’s as flawed as all the others. But it does yield an interesting nugget: in general, as a nation-wide average, it has been moving downward. Right now, the break-even point for most homes in the U.S. is around three years. In places like Miami-Fort Lauderdale, the break-even period comes in a scant 1.6 years.
Still, I have to admire author Varanasi’s boldly self-aware skill in her choice of headlines. Her announcement of the new Price Horizon metric is titled,
“Should You Buy or Rent? Depends on How Long You Want to Stay and Where You Want to Live (Of Course)”.
By the way, whenever you want to buy or rent, if it happens to be anywhere around Evansville, don’t hesitate to give me a call! We’ll find you the home that fits your needs (Of Course)! You can reach me on my cell phone at 812-499-9234.
Wednesday, May 02 2012
As the number of for-sale homes listed on the multiple listing service (MLS) drops, the number of single-family homes up for rent has been gradually increasing, RISMedia reports.
Single-family home rentals are a growing business, as more investors buy up foreclosures at bargain prices and then transform them into rentals.
About 16 percent of all listings on the MLS are rentals, which is more than double the number of rentals listed in 2006, RISMedia reports. Single-family rentals are often listed on the MLS by real estate brokers, whereas multifamily units typically aren’t.
The single-family rental market now accounts for “21 million rental units or 52 percent of the entire residential rental market,” according to a new study by CoreLogic.
Single-family rentals are usually very differently from multi-family homes. For example, rents for single-family rentals typically are 1.5 to 1.6 times higher than multifamily homes. Also, families and prior home owners tend to be attracted to single-family rentals whereas multifamily tenants tend to be younger, more mobile people who have never owned a home before.
Many of the single-family rental tenants nowadays are former home owners who had faced foreclosure and can no longer afford to own. According to CoreLogic, more than 3 million home owners have been turned into renters over the past five years due to foreclosure.
Source: “Single Family Rentals Now Exceed Multifamily,” RISMedia (April 23, 2012)
Friday, April 13 2012
Home buying is the smarter choice than renting, according to Trulia’s Winter 2012 Rent vs. Buy Index.
Buying a home is more affordable than renting in 98 of the nation’s 100 largest metro areas, according to the index, which tracks asking prices for rental units compared to for-sale homes in major metro areas.
The only two metros out of the 100 tracked where renting was found to be the better deal: Honolulu and San Francisco. Still, the index notes that if you plan to stay in those markets more than five years, you might still be better off owning than renting in those markets too.
Falling home values and low mortgage rates have made home ownership more affordable. Meanwhile, rents have been on the rise.
“As rents rise and prices stagnate, home ownership is becoming even more affordable, but rising rents create a dilemma for people who can’t afford to buy yet,” says Jed Kolko, Trulia’s chief economist. “Rising rents make it harder for people to save for a down payment, which is the biggest barrier to buying a home that aspiring home owners face.”
Top 10 Metros to Buy vs. Rent
2. Oklahoma City, Okla.
3. Dayton, Ohio
4. Warren-Troy-Farmington Hills, Mich.
5. Toledo, Ohio
6. Grand Rapids, Mich.
7. Cleveland, Ohio
9. Gary, Ind.
10. Memphis, Tenn.
By Melissa Dittmann Tracey, REALTOR® Magazine Daily News http://realtormag.realtor.org/daily-news/2012/03/22/buying-cheaper-renting-in-nearly-all-major-cities
Wednesday, February 22 2012
If you are a newcomer to Evansville real estate investing, finding your first income-generating property can seem like a fairly daunting task. How can you be sure that a property will generate enough cash flow? How will you estimate your costs to put potential homes for rent into the profit column? Altogether, how will you know when you find the right opportunity?
First, you have to view the competitive landscape in Evansville this spring, which means doing some targeted research. You might start by attending local seminars or looking into a local property club. These types of groups can help arm you with the economic trends that will serve as a guide. You will also want to call one or two reputable Evansville property management companies to get a general idea of the costs you should expect when listing homes for rent with their firms.
In today’s market, the demand for quality homes for rent and the rents they command are generally up. Given an increased demand for rental properties, it is reasonable to predict that even as a new investor you should be able to find qualified potential tenants within a reasonable timeframe. However, the tenant qualification process can be tricky. It is peppered with legal and Fair Housing rules, so you should be prepared to either educate yourself thoroughly on the laws or hire a professional property manager or leasing agent to handle this aspect.
Overall, the market in homes for rent has trended higher, but your new business will prosper or not based on the cash flow for the property type you choose to enter. Many neophyte real estate investors consider beginning with a condominium, and for practical reasons. Homes for rent can bring with them a multiplicity of unique –sometimes unexpected-- problems, whereas most condos come with HOAs that handle roof, exterior maintenance, and even many more problem-preventing features.
Experienced real estate agents are there to help you find prospective properties and to furnish professional advice along the way. Please feel free to call me anytime for market advice if you have ever considered looking into homes for the rental market. We have a dedicated property manager who would be more than happy to assist you with your rental needs. If you are interested, call me at 812-499-9234 or you can reach me by email at Rolando@RolandoTrentini.com
Thursday, January 19 2012
Financial experts insist that they don’t have a crystal ball, but they still have to predict the future anyway. That’s why they watch a number of different economic indicators to determine the direction they expect different segments of the economy to head. For the owners of Southwest Indiana rental homes and their tenants, one of the most important segments is the one dealing with rents – will they continue to rise in 2012? If, as many experts predict, rents do continue on an upward path, it will mark the third straight year that they have done so. Evansville area landlords needn’t ignore the trend.
While the year is still too young to have established many economic indicators, here are some to watch for to help you make your own prediction regarding rent price trends that may affect your own decision-making:
To slightly balance those indicators, other signs could hint at a possible future stall in rental rates:
The big question is, if rental home rates do continue to rise in 2012, how much can owners and renters expect? While the majority of analysts agree that residential rents should continue to rise, they vary when asked how much – from 2.5% to 5.5%, depending on which one you ask.
Please let us know if you are interested to receive emails with listings that are suitable for the rental market. We are working with many investors who take advantage of this and in case you do not want to be personally involved with the leasing process we can assist you with that as well. You can reach me by phone at 812-499-9234 or by email at RolandoTrentini@FCTE.com
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!
Monday, August 08 2011
Homeowners are familiar with the tax deductions that are available to them but there are also potential deductions available for those who own rental properties. Realtor® Joe Cline of Austin, Texas lists seven possible deductions that rental property owners will want to be aware of:
Do you own any property that you rent out as investment? If yes, did you know that you can take advantage of tax deductions provided for owners of rental properties? That is right; aside from the income you earn by renting out and the possible profits from appreciation of your capital, owing a property can also reduce your income tax. In fact, rental real estate offers the most tax benefits compared to almost any other investment out there. Here are some of the possible tax deductions property rental owners can enjoy:
1. Tax deduction from interest
2. Tax deduction due to property depreciation
3. Deduction from repairs
4. Deduction from insurance
5. Deduction from professional and legal services
6. Tax deduction from hiring employees and/or independent contractors
7. Deduction from travel expenses
As a rental property owner, there are tax deductions you can take advantage of to lower your yearly taxes. The abundance of these deductible expenses makes rental real estate one of the most attractive investments there is. Know which types you qualify for, and see how much potential savings you have been missing out on.
Read more: Seven Possible Tax Deductions For Property Rental Owners | REALTOR.com® Blogs
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)
Monday, May 09 2011
To rent or to buy: what used to be a given – that you would buy a home as soon as you could afford to – has become an agonizing conundrum for many a would-be homebuyer, in the face of the housing market’s big bust and super-slow recovery. Low prices seem to create a wide-open window of opportunity, but they also create the concern that prices will keep falling after closing. And that Catch-22 has hundreds of thousands of buyers-to-be stuck on the fence.
Fortunately, there are handful of life, mortgage and local market signals which indicate that the time *might* be right to hop – scratch that – leap off the fence and into homeownership:
Mortgage rates are going up. Home prices have been low for the last several years, and in fact are currently looking like they’re heading back down to the same levels they were at the depths of the real estate recession. During this same time frame, interest rates have also been low – this one-two punch has created record-high affordability for the last four years running, causing buyers to believe that this window of opportunity won’t be closing anytime soon.
While prices don’t look like they’ll be skyrocketing anytime soon, interest rates are another story. Rates have been on a rollercoaster over the past few months, and with inflation and Fed rates set to spike later this year, today’s low interest rates might be as good as they’re going to get for a long time to come. And I mean a very long time – in the next few years, governmental intervention in the mortgage markets is likely to wind down, and that means higher mortgage interest rates are not only inevitable, they’ll probably be here for a long, long time.
Mortgage rates on the rise are one signal that now might be the peak of home affordability, and the peak of the opportunity to buy.
Rents are going up. Rental rates in many areas are also on the rise – in fact, the foreclosure crisis has acted created additional demand on many markets’ rental housing inventory in several different ways. First, former homeowners who lost homes to foreclosure now need to rent; as well, buyers in foreclosure hot spots have been hesitant to buy, many electing to stay renters far beyond when they would have otherwise. On top of all that, super-tight lending guidelines have stopped even some who would like to buy homes from doing so. As a result, rental homes are in high demand – and rents are rising.
Rising rents at a time when the prices of homes for sale are low and, in some places, falling? One more signal that now might just be the time to buy. (Of course, where foreclosures are high, the chances of continued depreciation are, too – to offset this risk, have a long-term plan, to minimize the possibility that you’ll owe more than your home is worth when you need to sell. Read on for more on how to plan for the long term and minimize your homebuying risk.)
When you get to the spot in your career where you can realistically project a stable income 7 to 10 years out, life might be giving you a green light to move forward on your homebuying dreams.
You can reasonably predict the home you’ll need in the years to come. Since successful homeownership requires that you be ready to be in the place for a good number of years, best practice is not just to buy a home with the space and number of rooms you need right now – rather, you should aim to buy the home you’ll need 5, 7 or even 10 years down the road (to the best of your ability to predict, of course). You might be a newlywed with no kids now, but you plan to have them in a few years. Or maybe you’re a newly minted empty nester right now, but can project that you’ll want to retire - and might not want to climb two flights of stairs to get to and from your bedroom - 10 years down the road. Before you buy, you should be in a position to buy the home that meets your future needs – not just your current ones; and that requires that you have a reasonable idea of your life vision and plan for the future.
If you’re able to predict – and afford, at today’s prices – a home with the space, amenity and geographic location you’ll need 7 to 10 years from now, you might be in a good phase of life to get off the rent vs. buy fence.
With that said. . . buying a home is a massive decision and includes multiple, long-term financial and lifestyle obligations, so if one or more of these signals are present for you, that doesn’t mean you have the green light to run out and buy a home tomorrow – rather, it’s a good sign you should begin down that path, if you’re so inclined. You’ll still need to do the work to make sure your personal finances and holistic life picture are also in alignment before you buy, as well of the work it takes to ensure that your real estate and mortgage decisions are sustainable and smart, over the long-term.
It’s not overkill to check in with a mortgage pro, a tax pro, a local real estate broker or agent and a financial planner to make sure all your ducks – not just one - are in a row before you make your move.
Wednesday, April 20 2011
Apartment bargains once dominated the housing market, but those bargains have slowly faded away. As vacancies decrease and rents rise, renters are finding fewer deals.
Analysts expect vacancies to decrease even more and rents to continue to rise through 2013, as the economy continues to improve.
Rental activity recorded its best start for the year since 1999, according to Reis Inc. Vacancy rates have fallen to mid-2008 levels and rents have increased for the past five quarters, now averaging $991 per month nationwide.
Renters are finding the fewest deals along the coasts, such as New York, Washington, D.C., Boston, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, and San Jose, Calif. These cities are experiencing low vacancy rates. Also, a boost in these cities’ economies is sending rents higher. New York City alone has seen double rent increases compared to the national average and has the lowest vacancy rate in the nation.
The best rental deals can be found in Las Vegas, Tucson, Ariz., Phoenix, and several cities in Florida--all cities where unemployment and foreclosures remain high. According to Reis, Las Vegas was the only city to see rents fall last year.
However, analysts say that bargains across the country are getting fewer, and renters should expect to see an increase in rents over the next three years.
View the Top 6 Cities Where Buying Is Better Than Renting.
Source: “Rental Market Swings Back in Favor of Landlords,” MSNBC.com (April 12, 2011)
Saturday, May 29 2010
If you’re renting out your home, it might not be covered by homeowners insurance, so look into landlord insurance instead.
Maybe you’re moving up to a bigger home and holding on to your former residence as a rental property. Or maybe you’ve tried to sell your home without success. Whatever the reason, if you’re thinking about renting out your home, you need to look into landlord insurance.
Renting out your home raises risks
Homeowners insurance typically covers owner-occupied, single-family residences, says John W. Saunders, president of Slemp Brant Saunders, an independent insurance brokerage in Marion, Va. When your home doesn’t meet that definition because it’s being rented out regularly, it’s no longer covered.
Look into landlord insurance
When you decide to become a landlord, inform your insurer and ask about a specific landlord insurance policy, sometimes known as a dwelling fire policy or special perils policy. Coverage from a basic landlord policy isn’t quite as broad as a homeowners policy, says O’Brien, but it includes big risks like fire, wind, theft, and ice damage.
Other insurance policies to consider
Landlord insurance typically covers the house itself, other structures on the property such as sheds, the owner’s possessions (but not the tenant’s possessions), lost rental income if the house is damaged and uninhabitable, and some liability protection for the owner in case of injury or a lawsuit. Policies vary, however, so read the fine print. If lost rental income isn’t included, you might be able to add the coverage for an additional $50 a year, says Saunders.
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.