real estate

managing rental properties

How the Right Tools are Saving Landlords Thousands Each Year

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Running a rental is like running any other business.

It requires attention to detail, careful accounting, and lean business practices. Having the right tools can mean the difference between profit and loss. There are numerous expenses that landlords need to keep track of, for example, in order to make the most of their deductions in their tax return. 

In this article, we explore how you can employ tools across the management of your real estate portfolio to save both time and money. 

Reduce Unnecessary Overheads

The first step that any financial advisor, any wealth-building blog or book will tell you is to cut your expenses, spend less so that you have more to invest. When thinking about improving the profitability of a rental portfolio this comes down to carefully scrutinizing your expenses and determining methods for reducing overheads.

If you cover utilities, for example, you might look for a new energy provider. One key expense for landlords is property managers. Often they take upwards of 10% of the monthly revenue plus expenses and additional costs for things like finding tenants. For some, the time they save is worth the price, however, if you are looking to cut overheads there are numerous tools on the market designed to allow landlords to self-manage, cutting their monthly management costs by a factor of ten or more.

Automate Tasks

Time is money, as they say. As your portfolio grows it will begin to consume more and more of your time. Whether it’s responding to requests from tenants, chasing up late rent payments, or managing your books, it can quickly add stress and take you away from those tasks which will actually help you build wealth.

The right tools will allow you to automate or simplify time-consuming tasks while simultaneously ensuring you maintain high professional standards across your rental portfolio management even as you’re reducing time and overall management costs.

Track Expenses as they Happen

Another reason to take a more hands-on approach when managing your portfolio is the additional tax benefits. Landlords can deduct up to $25,000 worth of expenses against their income each year. To take full advantage of the tax benefits, whether it’s mileage, tools and maintenance expenses, or depreciation, you need to ensure that you carefully and accurately track every deductible expense.  

When you use a property management app, you can quickly update your accounts on the go, digitize and store receipts in the app, organize emails to your tenants, set reminders so you never forget important appointments, and more.

Ultimately, what this means is you avoid the massive accounting tasks at the end of the month (or year) and you ensure you never miss a deductible expense.

Reduce Legal Fees

There are legal implications that come with owning and renting out a property. The most obvious example is of course evictions. They are an unfortunate reality for landlords. Even the best tenants, if hit by hard times may not be able to pay their rent. In this scenario, if you don’t have all the proper legal documentation you could be in for an expensive legal battle.

white and black knit cap

Your lease agreement, for example, needs to clearly stipulate everything from rent amount and due date to your policies on smoking and pets, and clearly outline your policies around subletting. Beyond that, there are inspection forms, notices, eviction forms, rent increase forms, transfer of title documents. 

Everything you do as a landlord should be done in compliance with the law – ignorance is no excuse. The right tools and services will inform and educate while offering cost-effective solutions to creating or obtaining legal documentation. That in the long run could save you thousands in fees.

For example, make sure you’re in compliance by adding fire door signs at your properties. This can help save you from a lot of trouble whilst also helping to save lives in the event of an emergency.

Refinancing Options

Refinancing your properties at the right time can be a great way to save money or find additional funds for further growth. For example, mortgage rates hit record lows in falling below 3% in 2020 and many landlords leapt at the opportunity to secure better interest rates.

person holding paper near pen and calculator

When it comes to refinancing you need to make sure you have all the data and documentation ready to prove the rental income is dependable – to essentially prove that you are a good investment for the bank. Documents you need will include an up to date profit and loss statement. This is where an effective income and expense tracker comes in.

Final Words

A landlord’s profits can be tenuous.

Taxes, fees, maintenance costs, vacancies, and missed rent payments can all see those profits disappear as though into thin air. Managing these expenses and staying on top of them using an effective property management software like Landlord Studio and taking relevant precautions will help you mitigate risks and ensure profitability.

Additionally, it is absolutely essential for a landlord to understand and take full advantage of the tax advantages which come with being a landlord. 

Who Takes Care of Plumbing Maintenance in a Rental?

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Rental agreements and rights for landlords and tenants is a topic that is usually a bit of a grey area, with plenty of stories of landlords and tenants doing the wrong thing. 

Who is responsible for a leaking tap, and what is fair when it comes to damage vs. wear and tear in a tenancy arrangement? We explore this topic in this article and provide valuable information on where the responsibilities fall for each party. 

brown plastic bucket near white framed glass door

What are the rights and responsibilities of tenants and landlords?

The rights of both parties will be outlined in the legally binding tenancy agreement signed and provided upon the commencement of the tenancy. 

It is important that both parties review and understand all of the outlined information in the tenancy agreement to ensure there are no surprises in the event of repairs, maintenance, and even ongoing maintenance of the property. 

The law and the state rental legislation can be found within the tenancy agreement and the document will outline everything both parties should be aware of, from emergency plumbing contacts, through to who covers the water bill, the condition report, and much more. 

In these cases, an emergency plumber should be called to help solve the plumbing issue and minimize the damage.

Who is at fault if there is a plumbing emergency in a rental property? 

Plumbing emergencies are a pain, no matter what the situation, and it should be very clear of what the tenant covers in this situation and what the landlord needs to pay for in a plumbing emergency. 

Be aware that if the following issues are usually covered by the landlord in the residential tenancy act:

  • Broken or burst pipes
  • Broken or blocked toilets or sinks
  • Burst water services 
  • Flooding of the property
  • Leaks in the roof
  • Leaking tap
  • Storm damage to the property 

In these cases, an emergency plumber should be called to help solve the plumbing issue and minimize the damage. 

When is a plumbing issue emergency and when is it maintenance? 

According to 5 Star Plumbing, “If the issue is considered maintenance and non-urgent, this is also carried out on the landlord’s behalf, however, it is not usually taken care of by an emergency plumber and usually sorted in around 48 hours or so.” 

The landlord has a responsibility to ensure the property is safe for the tenant, and while there may be ongoing repairs and maintenance, if the issue is caused by misuse on the tenant’s behalf, they can be sent the bill for repairs. 

You can check with a plumber to see if the repairs are something that needs to be actioned immediately or if they can wait to be accessed by the landlord and taken care of by a registered plumber within 2 days. Landlords do have a duty of care, and it is important to note, if repairs or maintenance are not attended to in a timely fashion, the landlord can be slapped with fines.

Relocation Tips for 2020: Moving Advice After a New Purchase

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2 Boys and Girl Sitting on Brown Cardboard Box

Let’s admit that moving is possibly one of the most exhausting and overwhelming tasks. Just thinking about packing, organizing, and bribing your friends to help with your stuff is stressful. And not to mention how thinking about transportation and setting up all over again is enough to worry.

Initially, when you or someone in your family decides to relocate, or even if you’re considering selling a house, there are tons of questions popping into your head like: How will you pack everything up? Is there a right way? How much will everything cost? How can you prepare yourself if something goes wrong?  If that’s the case and you’re looking for ways to help make your move less stressful and more comfortable, keep reading. Here are some things to do when moving into a new house;

Get Organized from the Get-Go

As a rule, you need to remember to remain organized. Organization and proper placement/ management will help you avoid any mishaps or last-minute anxiety attacks. Unless you are leaving in a hurry, the chances are that you will have more than a month to plan. So here’s what you should do;

  • Get Boxes: Be thrifty and get your hands on as many moving boxes as you can. Most local stores and warehouses have them for free, and you can also check a couple of websites.
  • Make a To-Do List: Making a To-Do list is one of the most straightforward things to help you keep track of everything. If you despise writing it down on a paper or notepad, make one on your phone. Make elaborate lists and pen down everything you need to get through. Your listing should also consist of companies and numbers that you require to help you move. For instance, transport providers and furniture movers are a necessary consideration for relocation.
  • Map out Your Strategy: It would be best if you worked everything out before you start packing. If you only have to make a shorter move, ask your friends around, see if they would be available to help you move.

Keep Your Movers Updated

According to Easy Move Services, “Small boxes are one thing, but heavy furniture is a whole other story, and for that, you need movers. Please communicate with your movers to let them know what you expect from them during the move. If you have any delicate decorative pieces that require caution, you need to mention beforehand. These details are crucial for a smooth transition and a proper estimation of the total cost. They need to know how many and how heavy some of the things are so they can arrange equipment for it timely.”

Picking the Right Transportation

Among many things to do when moving into a new house, picking the right transportation for a smooth transition is vital. You need to choose the right truck size so all your things can get transported in one go.

  • Recommended Guidelines: In general, a 16′ cube truck is perfect for a one-bedroom apartment. 24-26′ vehicles will help transport 2-3 fully furnished bedrooms in one go.

Get Rid of What You Don’t need

Moving allows you to get rid of things hidden in your attic for ages. It is a great time to go through old clothes, books, furniture, and utensils to see what you need and don’t need. You can arrange them in different categories and have your very own garage sale. You can also sell some stuff household things and clothes online, or you can choose to donate to Goodwill. Many old magazines, pamphlets, old books, and notebooks can get recycled into new paper.

You Need a Packing Kit

Crop man taping carrying box with scotch

If multiple people are helping you pack, establish a system. Mark or label boxes with delicate items and keep tape and newspapers with more packing material to secure everything. It will help you divide the job and assign different roles to people. You will get done sooner than you initially planned.

Go Green

Granite Buddha bust in cardboard package

Moving day will be messy in terms of the amount of rubbish you will be leaving behind. Invest in some reusable plastic bins. It is hard to arrange things the minute you unload them, so reusable plastic containers can be their new home till you can find the time to arrange them in their proper place. Instead of bubble wrap, you can use linen cloths or hay for wrapping your breakables.

Taking Inventory

Taking inventory is very important among things to do when moving into a new house, especially if you’re hiring a moving company. A record of your household things and your boxes is useful in case anything goes missing.

You can either add it on paper or print out a spreadsheet and assign it to every box. With each number assigned, mention which contents are in the box. Not only will this making loading and tracking easy, but you’ll be able to easily find necessary items once you are in your new home. 

Label Your Boxes

Boxes, Moving, Moving Boxes, Cardboard, House, Home

It’s time for all nerds to shine and get their label makers out. Labeling boxes is essential because it helps you keep track of and manage inventory. You can use even a standard Sharpie marker, but remember to label all sides of the box.

A Moving Day Kit is Important

The day of your move will be hectic. Make sure to prepare your very own kit to help you along this tiresome journey. Your package should contain water bottles, some snack bars, soap, torches, sanitizer, toilet paper, trash bags, and a fresh change of clothes.

Move Back Your Delivery Date

If you’ve booked a few orders for furniture sets or anything you need at the new house, make sure you call them and update your status. Ask it to be delivered a day or two after your moving date to focus on the task.

Don’t Use Trash bags for Packing

Do not use trash bags for packing your clothes. You might confuse it with actual trash and accidentally throw it out

Find a Pet Sitter

Pets are susceptible and can be easily disturbed or traumatized by the move. Leave your pet over at a friend’s house, a friend that your pet is familiar with, or find a professional pet sitter. Make sure you arrange the time and get all details before the day of the move.  

Treat the people working hard for you

If your friends come over to help or have hired professionals, make sure that you take care of them. Set aside an area where they can rest and have refreshments available at all times. Order some food to show your appreciation.

Inform Your Neighbors

Moving may be hard for you, but it is also a very noisy task. The day before the move, visit your neighbors to say goodbye, and during the conversation, mention that you’ll be moving out tomorrow, and there might be a lot of vehicles.

Make sure your truck isn’t blocking anyone’s way. If you’re moving out during winters, it’s smart to clean the driveway and get rid of hard ice or snow. You could potentially slow down your move if you don’t plan.

Conclusion

Moving does not have to be tiring and boring. You can make it fun and enjoy the process. While relocating is hard, following proper steps and doing things the right way can help you make your move a lot less messy than it needs to be. And when you’re in need of basic moving tips and ideas and looking for a house, it can’t hurt to consider the points in the graphic below!

Graphic created by New City Moving.

Must-Have Living Room Essentials: Sofas, Chairs and Ottomans

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Starting from scratch on furnishing a new living room can be daunting, to say the least. You’ve likely just gone through a long moving process only to realize that you’re now starting over with a new to-do list, and may be feeling a bit overwhelmed at the thought of playing interior designer in your empty living space. 

Well, first things first: you’re not alone. While looking at a sparsely furnished room can induce that feeling of looking at a blank page, there are a few tried-and-true steps you can follow to piece together a living room design, from the sofa to the accent pieces, that feels one hundred percent uniquely yours – one that brings you joy for every moment spent in it.

INTRODUCING: THE THREE UPHOLSTERY HEAVYWEIGHTS

Before you get excited and start thinking about the finishing touches: things like the artwork, coffee table books, window treatments, and more, it’s typically easiest to get the biggest pieces of the puzzle in place first. A good rule of thumb is to work from largest to smallest: starting with the sofa, moving to the chairs, and finishing with the ottomans. These foundational elements will all influencer one another, as well as the more decorative touches in the room, and because they will be the standout (not to mention, the most necessary for daily use) features, that’s the place most people start. 

THE CENTERPIECE: YOUR SOFA

Different Sofa Styles

If you look at a furniture stores in Florida, or California or anywhere for that matter, you’ll find sectionals, modern sofas, slipcovered sofas, sleeper sofas, and more. The options seem endless. However, figuring out which sofa best fits your lifestyle is easier than it sounds if you just start by process of elimination. When it comes to the style of your sofa, can probably make some pretty quick cuts upfront based on your unique priorities. 

First, start with the non-negotiable factors. For example, are you working with a vast living space, or a smaller studio apartment? Space constraints will dictate whether a two-seater tuxedo sofa or a much larger sectional is the best option. Next, consider what type of usage will your sofa get. Do you have a big family that likes to gather for movie nights, or are you often hosting guests and in need of a sofa-turned-bed for them to crash? And lastly, what is your personal style? Are you going for a more traditional or coastal vibe (slipcover sofa), or a modern, sleek aesthetic (modern sofa)? These questions will help narrow your list fairly quickly, so you can move onto the fun stuff: fabric.

Figuring Out Fabric

Upholstery choice is where you have the option to truly design the custom sofa of your dreams. If you aren’t sure where to start – from pattern to leather, linen to velvet – not a problem. Again, start with the basics: what kind of usage will the sofa get? If you have kids and pets, consider that as a factor in color and material. Complex patterns are excellent stain and pet hair concealers, vs. a solid-colored sofa. Do have allergies or live in a particularly warm climate? Leather resists allergens and remains cool in warmer months. Do you love feeling soft and sumptuous to-the-touch when sitting on a sofa? Then performance velvet may be your coziest bet.

And, like all upholstery choices, you can order swatches to get a true IRL look-and-feel for the fabric before you commit.

THE ACCENT: YOUR CHAIRS

Once you’ve nailed the sofa, you’re onto the accent chairs. By themselves or in a pair, accent chairs not only offer the practicality of extra seating, but also a complimentary design element to any living room. 

Types of Chairs

There are endless styles of chairs that could work in a living room, but three of the most iconic styles are the tuxedo chair, the cocktail chair, and the slipper chair. 

  • The tuxedo chair is sleek, tailored, and timeless. These modern, geometric club chairs are the furniture equivalent to the classic suit. With a deep seat and robust arms, they make the perfect reading chair for cozying up next to a window or a fireplace. They also work particularly well as a home office duo.
  • The cocktail chair is an elegant armchair that’s reminiscent of mid-century cocktail furnishings when entertaining was every day. With a smaller footprint than the tuxedo chair, a cocktail chair is more of a space-saving accent with a fun and versatile flair.
  • Unlike the tuxedo chair and cocktail chair, the slipper chair sits lower to the ground and lacks arms. The slipper chair made its debut in the early 1700s (whose name derives from the spot that women would put on their slippers) and has since become a favorite amongst decorators for its versatility, shape, and size.

Picking the Perfect Accents

The possible sofa / chair combinations are endless, and we personally believe there are no rules or must-follow design trends: only what makes you happy. However, if you’re grasping for a place to start, here are a few interior design guidelines to consider. 

First, scale. Consider size & proportions, so that one piece of furniture isn’t completely visually overtaking the others. In this same vein, consider seat height and try to keep them relatively consistent. You don’t want guests looking up or down at one another during conversation.

And finally, fabric. If you’re aiming for the tried-and-true pairing method, choose complementary fabrics. If you opted for a solid sofa, consider a pair of chairs in a pattern, such as a ticking stripe. Or, if you love a pattern-on-pattern look, choose patterns in different scales from the same color family. And hey – if you want to go for the matchy-matchy looks with the same pattern on each, remember what we said… the only rule is doing what brings you joy!

THE ALL-IN-ONE: YOUR OTTOMANS 

The ottoman is one of our favorite living room design elements, solely for its versatility. There is hardly a piece of furniture that punches above its weight quite like the ottoman does. Used for sneaky storage, last-minute seating and visual intrigue, the ottoman can also moonlight as an end table, a coffee table and a footrest. Need we say more?

Types of Ottomans

It’s no exaggeration to say that ottomans come in ALL shapes and sizes. In picking the right ottoman (or, pair of ottomans) for your living room, consider first your most functional needs. Is hidden storage important to you, perhaps for those kids’ toys or extra throw blankets? Then a storage ottoman is a no-brainer. If you’re looking for a classic shape that can be easily stowed away under a console for added visual effect when not in use, then a pair of x-benches is your best bet. 

Regardless of the style you land on, one thing is definite: ottomans are better as pairs. If you didn’t have the space for a chair duo, this could be your opportunity to double up. And finally, when it comes to picking a fabric, use the same rules of thumb as you did for chairs above. If you’re choosing fabrics or patterns that make you happy, that will be reflected in your space.

A Debate: Cocktail Ottoman vs. Coffee Table

That brings us to our final discussion point – one where there is no right answer, but that you’ll likely have to consider as part of the finishing touches on your living space. The question becomes: do you opt for a traditional coffee table, or instead use a cocktail ottoman in its place?

As with everything in interior design, there is no right or wrong answer, and each point is subjective. However, there are a few obvious differences between the two that are worth noting. For one, a cocktail ottoman gives you the opportunity to choose custom upholstery for your piece, thus allowing more flexibility to personalize as part of your overall living room design scheme. On the other hand, a coffee table is often wood-based, offering an aesthetic that can’t as easily be customized. 

Finally, the major point of differentiation – and the reason people often opt for the less-traditional cocktail ottoman – is when there are little kids in the mix. As any parent knows, sharp corners are the enemy. Because a cocktail ottoman is upholstered, kids who are just learning to walk (or, when they’re a bit older, using every space in your house as a jungle gym), they’re generally a safer option.

4 Tips that Coud Reduce Future Home Maintenance

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Staying current with the upkeep of a house is no picnic. Ideas that seem good at the time may end up being a headache to perform maintenance or general upkeep thereafter.

To have more time on the weekend to yourself and make sure you are not stuck dealing with endless home maintenance, it pays to plan. Here are 4 house upgrade tips that should reduce maintenance requirements. 

Garden, Yard, Courtyard, Back Garden, Flowers, Grass

Fix Any Plumbing Issues

Plumbing issues that continue to be problematic aren’t going to go away. For instance, a leaky faucet won’t suddenly get fixed by itself and no longer stop leaking. It is likely to become worse over time. Also, it may be an indication of other problems with an older bathroom that’s poorly constructed such as bad pipes and water leaking to the floor below.

By tackling plumbing problems or getting in a certified professional plumber to do so, it can ward off potentially far worse problems down the line. Water damage can be catastrophic for home values and could make the space unlivable if a flood were to happen while you were away. 

Install Vinyl Siding

Bare exterior walls may look pretty, but they leave the brickwork exposed to the elements. This includes dirt, snow, wind, and more. The potential to have moisture get into the brickwork and create future problems is present in this scenario. 

Using vinyl siding fitted to the exterior walls of your home reduces the risks of exterior conditions cause a problem. They’re more durable and protective than the wooden siding, they handle high winds better, and don’t require painting either. It’s available in a variety of colors to match the exterior of the house too.

The maintenance is also low because the color doesn’t lose its crispness and it is easily cleaned too. Furthermore, replacement siding goes over the top of newer vinyl sidings, making its future replacement an easier installation too. 

Add Landscape Gardening

Adding some landscape gardening acts to break up a garden into small areas that are easier to manage. Not only does the lawn become a small area to deal with, but it provides distinctive areas for different plant life which cuts down on the physical pace left for a lawn

Also, when choosing plants that are durable and don’t need as much care and attention to flourish, it limits the amount of necessary gardening time on otherwise busy weekends too. 

Use Longer Life Lightbulbs

Having light bulbs die on you too frequently is a pain. Where do you keep the spare bulbs again? Is it a good time to balance on the chair to reach the light bulb to change it or should you wait until you’ve had breakfast first?

Longer-lasting eco bulbs have 3-20 times the duration of older incandescent light bulbs. This means changing a bulb won’t be necessary anywhere near as often as before. At least that’s one less thing on the honey-do list to get done. 

By strategically choosing the changes to make, it’s possible to cut back on the time spent tending to your home each weekend. Then you can finally relax more. 

home selling secrets

Hidden Secrets of the Home Selling Process in 2020

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This is often a question we ask ourselves if we need the money right away. Oftentimes we price our house too high due to the value it has for us. That is why sellers would often result in listing their house as it offers more money on the table.

Though the home selling process through listing takes a lot of time. With more work needed to be done, the longer the process, the more emotional you become. Direct selling your house would make you a considerable amount of money with fewer expenses. A local trusted buyer like United Home Offer would give you the possible offer you can have without breaking the bank.

If you have decided to go through the home selling process (even if it’s virtual) through listing, below is the guide for home selling:

Decide if You’re Looking For an Agent

The process of home selling can be tedious, stressful, and time-consuming. Deciding to have an agent is one of the first decisions you should make. Asking yourself if you would want to pay at least 3 to 6 percent of the findal price? Will the agent be able to provide all the necessary guidance and advice? Will you be able to get an agent that suits your personality? Discussing the pros and cons of seeking an agent with your friends and family will give you more inputs.

Deciding on the Final Selling Price

Deciding on competitive pricing is the first step in your marketing plan. The value of your house depends on location, condition, amenities, and warranty. Sentimental value is not one of them but it might cloud your judgment. An agent could conduct a market analysis to recommend the best price for your house. Because of the current decline in house sales, the median home in Texas is now at $247,400.

Prepare Your Marketing Plan

A listing agent should be able to ensure that your home is visible for potential buyers. Digital marketing has made selling your house to clients a lot easier in recent years. The internet, social media, and real estate websites have become suitable platforms in showcasing your house for sale. 

Before deciding an agent, you should discuss what marketing strategy he can offer. A unique and structured marketing plan will allow you to draw more potential buyers.

Preparing Your Home for a Makeover

Direct buyers should be able to buy your house without any renovations. But listing it would need you to prepare your house for your clients. First impressions count, spend time to clean, paint, and refresh your homes. A list of guidelines can also be given to you by your agent.

Open House and Showings

An agent would suggest you leave home if it is already listed. The sentimental value you have would prevent you from removing some personal items. Even though you might be the most competent person to showcase your home, it might not be a good idea. Instead of creating a welcoming environment, it may signal clients that you do not want to leave the house. An agent would be able to professionally discuss it with potential buyers

Never Hesitate to Negotiate

After days, weeks, months of waiting for potential clients, having one might make you hesitate to negotiate. But the best thing about listing your home in a listing market is that there is room for negotiation. Always remember that a reasonably priced house in a desirable location would have a lot more offers.  Avoid settling for bad offers. Let your agents list down the best offers and decide on what counter offer you would make.

Moving Out

Upon agreeing on the final selling price with the buyer, the escrow period would start. The period of finishing your documentation, scheduling for appraisal, and property inspection. To shorten this period, all documents should be prepared and most of your things are out of the house.

Prepare for a Property Appraiser

To make sure that the final selling price matches the actual value of the house, a property appraiser is called upon. Be sure to sustain the cleanliness of the house until the closing of the purchase. Cooperate with the property appraiser to avoid any complications with the sale. If a buyer backs out due to the inspection, raise this to your agent for your rights.

The Home Inspection

Pre-selling inspection is a good investment, it would address existing defects of your home. It would also shorten the listing to the closing period. A purchase agreement contingency would allow a buyer to back out. Major undeclared flows can be a reason for a buyer to back out. That is why inspection before selling gives you the benefit of addressing the defect. If all contingencies were met, remind the buyer to lift it in writing.

It’s Closing Time

As the day of the final step has come, both buyers and sellers can start relaxing. Your agent Should guide you with all the documentation, and paperwork needed to be signed during the closing meeting. During the meeting, prepare yourself for the final time you would be seeing your home. After a lot of signatures and verification done by both parties, the house is now officially sold.

Wrapping It Up

The process of home selling is tedious. It often cannot answer the question of how to sell your house fast. A lot of the processes can be shortened with proper guidance and preparations. You might be able to get your desired final selling price if you have stuck with the process. But due to the expenses, one might think that all of that work is not worth it. With United Home Offer, you can sell your house fast with fewer expenses. You might be able to get more than the final cut of your selling price.

home foreclosure

The Impact of COVID-19 on Mortgage Foreclosures in 2020

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The pandemic has put our economy in a tailspin, and many of us are out of work. Thankfully the federal government and housing agencies, as well as mortgage lenders and servicers, have taken action to protect homeowners from foreclosure during this crisis.

mortgage Scrabble tiles

This article will outline federal protections for homeowners who are having trouble paying their mortgage due to income loss caused by COVID-19 safe practices and distancing protocols, as well as mortgage relief options for all homeowners and how to obtain them.

I’ve Missed Mortgage Payments and am Afraid of Mortgage Foreclosure

First, know that mortgage foreclosure is a process that differs by state. Some states require a judicial proceeding to foreclose, others do not and allow servicers or lenders to mortgage foreclosure by right of contract.

According to Veronica Baxter, an established legal assistant to Philadelphia Bankruptcy Attorney David Offen says,”

“Under federal law, a lender or servicer cannot begin the state foreclosure process until your loan is more than 120 days past due. They are required to send you several notices in the meantime, explaining options for curing the default on the loan, requesting forbearance, requesting a loan modification, or enrolling in some other loss mitigation program. If foreclosure is imminent, it won’t come as a surprise to you.”

The pandemic has created a financial emergency for many families who were financially secure previously. Federal and state governments have stepped in to help.

Mortgage Foreclosures under the CARES Act

The CARES Act mandated a moratorium on foreclosures for 60 days after March 18, 2020. This means that your mortgage lender or loan servicer can not begin or continue a judicial or non-judicial foreclosure against you, or enter a foreclosure judgment, or sell a foreclosed at auction, for 60 days after March 18, 2020.

Those 60 days have expired. The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) subsequently announced that Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae were extending the moratorium on foreclosures to May 17, 2020, and then June 30, 2020, and then August 31, 2020. The Federal Housing Authority (FHA) has also imposed a moratorium on foreclosures on FHA-insured mortgages through August 31, 2020.

Mortgage Forbearance under the CARES Act

Just because mortgage lenders and servicers are prevented from foreclosing now does not mean that they can’t foreclose once the pandemic crisis is over, if you don’t make your payments or make arrangements for forbearance.

The CARES Act gave homeowners who are in financial distress due to COVID-19 the right to request payment forbearance for up to 180 days and to request a forbearance extension for another 180 days. However, this forbearance does not go into effect automatically – you must contact your lender or loan servicer to request it.=

Although forbearance does not come with any additional costs, fees, or penalties, interest does continue to accrue on your loan, and eventually, the missed payments must be paid.

How do I request mortgage forbearance?

Before you call your mortgage lender or servicer, have your account number handy and be ready to explain that you are in financial distress due to the pandemic. Chances are you will be on hold a while as many homeowners are in the same predicament as you are. When you get an agent on the phone, you will want to ask the following questions:

  • What are my options to temporarily reduce or suspend my monthly mortgage payments?
  • Am I eligible for forbearance, loan modification, or any other mortgage relief?

If you have already missed payments due to the pandemic, also ask if it is possible for the lender or servicer to waive any late charges that have accrued already.

Keep track of who you speak to and when, and once you are in forbearance or get a loan modification, be sure to get those arrangements in writing from your lender or servicer.

How do I repay the forbearance payments?

Generally, borrowers must repay forbearance payments either:

  • by paying one lump sum when the forbearance expires;
  • by adding an amount to the existing monthly payments over a set number of months;
  • by extending the loan term with additional monthly payments; 
  • by paying a lump sum at the end of the loan term.

Discuss your repayment options with your lender or servicer when you ask for forbearance, so there are no surprises. The following types of loans have these options:

Mortgages through Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac

  • Borrowers may repay the past due amount within 12 months after forbearance terminates;
  • Borrowers may extend their mortgage term by the number of months in forbearance;
  • Borrowers may add the past due amount to the loan balance, and extend the term of the loan by the number of months necessary to make their monthly mortgage payment the same;
  • Borrowers may add the past due amount to the loan balance and extend the loan term for 40 years (480 months), lowering their monthly payment but paying more in interest.

FHA Mortgages

  • Borrowers may enter into a repayment plan apart from the mortgage payments, to repay the past due amount within 6 months after forbearance ends;
  • Borrowers may extend the loan term to 30 years (360 months) and add the past due amount to their monthly payments;
  • Borrowers can pay the past due amount in a  lump sum at the end of the loan term.

Veterans Administration (VA) Loans

  • Borrowers may enter into a repayment plan to repay past due amount within 6 months after forbearance ends;
  • Borrowers may add the past due amount to the loan balance and extend the loan term to 30 years (360 months);
  • Borrowers can cap payments 31% of gross income by extending the loan term to 30 years (360 months) with the option to forbear the principal.

What if my mortgage is not backed by the federal government? 

You may still be eligible for mortgage relief, whether it is forbearance or a loan modification. Contact your lender or servicer. Many financial institutions are working with their borrowers to weather the current crisis. There might be more detailed information about mortgage relief options on your lender or servicer’s website.

What if I can’t resume making mortgage payments when forbearance ends?

Again, contact your lender or servicer to find out what your options are. 

There is no telling when this health crisis will end and when the economy will recover. Mortgage relief options may be offered and extended into the foreseeable future. Whatever your circumstances, safeguard your good credit and your home by communicating with your servicer or lender. They will work with you because they would rather be paid than foreclose.

The 4 Tips To Property Investing You Need To Remember

1000 500 Sam Radbil

Property investment represents one of your best possible real estate investment strategies. Property isn’t liquid, though, so you have to invest carefully. The bottom can drop out very quickly, and unexpectedly.

If you’re going to see profit, you’ve got to be savvy. Following we’ll go over four paramount tips to help you make the wisest decisions in the acquisition of real estate.

Know Taxation Associated With New Property

First, keep in mind the tax man. When you buy a new car, you’ve got to pay taxes on it. When you buy a new house, the same applies. The rate is usually about 4% total, depending on your municipality. That is: 4% of the total property value. Expect 1% of that to be summed up in a “transfer” tax, and 3% to be paid to the town. This site offers more insight into this. Expect tax rates to differ per locality.

There are ways to diminish the impact of taxation, but you’ll need to be careful to do everything properly. One way this is often done is through a 1031 Exchange, wherein you sell a property and turn that money directly into a new property. This doesn’t allow you to totally avoid all taxes, however, you do have the ability to sidestep some. Buy and hold investors can also take advantage of landlord tax deductions.

Don’t Be Afraid Of Repairs And Refurbishment

It’s possible to acquire a property at a lower rate that can be fixed up and sold at a profit. For example, say you purchase a small apartment complex with eight units for $800,000, then put $50k into refurbishment. Say when the smoke clears you’ve spent $1,000,000 on the units.

Now say you can get eight tenants in that complex for $1000 a month per unit. In 10.41 years, you’re operating at a profit. In about twenty years, you’ve doubled your money. That’s a long-term investment, and the market will likely inflate, allowing you to increase rent during that time—just buy the apartment complex in the right neighborhood.

However, on the other hand, if you’re just buying a home that’s a fixer-upper for $80k after taxes, you put $80k into fixing it up, then sell it for $250k inside two years, then you made a $45k profit each year for a total return of $90k. From there you can buy a larger property and do the same thing again.

Money, Finance, Mortgage, Loan, Real-Estate, Business

Be Very Careful To Buy In The Right Neighborhood

Neighborhoods fluctuate. One neighborhood may be trending well, then some natural disaster hits, and suddenly the bottom drops out. Certain disasters you can’t prepare for, others you can’t. Some real estate will retain its value through ups and downs with steadiness. To determine the best property, you’ll want to inform your acquisition with a consultation.

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Consultation From Professionals, Realtors, Friends, And Family

Professionals in real estate can help you determine good buys. Realtors can as well, but remember they’ve got a desire to earn a commission, and they’re working their own angle; so be sure to take their advice with a grain of salt. Balance it out with information you get from friends or family who have purchased real estate before.

They can translate advice and help you make better choices. You also want to find resources like those available online to help you make the most informed choice. If you play your cards right, it’s possible to sell your property in a very professional way and even keep the commission — as ISoldMyHouse.com notes.

Purchasing property requires an equal level of strategy for best results. Provided you make a careful purchase that’s properly informed, you should see Return On Investment—or ROI, as it’s called.

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Maximizing Property Investment Returns

To see true profit on your property investment, you’ll need to plan in advance and consider all the angles. Don’t neglect to factor in taxation—that will broadside you if you’re not careful. Consultation from the right people that’s balanced by multiple perspectives, doing online research, and buying in the right neighborhood will also be important.

Planning on repairing or refurbishing your property is also a wise strategy, provided you’ve got the resources and wherewithal to get the job done. Property investment and sale represents some of the most secure investment opportunities in the world. Provided you put in the proper work, and uncontrollable factors don’t impact you, you will be rewarded with true returns.

buying a house virtually

The Basic Guide to Buying a House Virtually

1000 500 Sam Radbil

The 21st century has introduced us to many different forms of technology, and it has made a huge impact on our day-to-day living.

One major form of technology that has been introduced to us is virtual reality. Over the past few years, virtual reality has become a massive form of entertainment and has made its way into real estate. Virtual real estate tours give the people a chance to view a house right from their couch. There are many benefits from buying through virtual tours, so here are some tips and a guide to help during the buying process.  

What Is A Virtual Tour?  

Virtual reality is a new form of technology that is generated through a computer software that allows consumers to view things in three-dimensional. You can see and interact with these life-like environments by wearing an electronic headset or with your computer.    

Real estate has taken advantage of this form of technology by allowing potential home buyers to view a home without being there physically. For example, if you live in Washington and are moving to Texas, you can view a home in-depth with a virtual tour instead of driving to Texas to visit it in person.    

Most agencies are providing interactive walkthroughs of houses that showcase the property. This is done by panoramic pictures that are combined and played in a sequence that will give you the feeling of walking through the property. The tour’s design provides you with a 3-D view of the location and presents it in a professional manner to spark an interest in the buyer.  

Benefits Of A Virtual Tour  

The NAR has done a recent study that showed that a majority of potential home buyers use the internet to help aid their search for their future home. Real estate has taken full advantage of using technology to help showcase their houses on the market. As the buyer, you can also benefit from these virtual tours.  

You are saving yourself time when you tour a house virtually. You can view a property straight from your laptop or smartphone, and this saves you time by not traveling to a property to only find out the inside is not as pleasing as you hoped. Virtual tours are convenient for you and can last up to only one minute. With a virtual tour, you can view a dozen different homes in minutes, where that is not likely when you visit different properties in person.  

When you are on the hunt for a home, it can potentially cost a fortune if you are traveling across states. Viewing a property virtually before visiting it in person is beneficial and cost-effective. Imagine how upset you will be if you travel far to find out that you dislike the kitchen and countertops. Virtual tours will save you the burden of traveling in a rush and will potentially save you money.  

Virtual tours can provide a realistic experience, and you can think of them as an everlasting open house. This type of technology can help you have a better connection and receive a better feel for the home before you make any decisions. You can view these homes at any given time during the day, whether you are on the road or at the office.  

Tips For Your Virtual Tour

The one downfall of the internet is that pictures and videos can be deceiving. With virtual tours, there is a possibility that realtors have altered the way you perceive the property. When you are viewing a home online, you must look for things that you do not see listed. If the virtual tour and pictures of a home are based only on the bedrooms and not the bathroom or kitchen, this is a red flag.  

With that said, when investing in a home from afar, you should request a Facetime tour with your realtor. Having your realtor do a Facetime tour will show you the house in real-time; this will allow you to see all specific parts of the home that you wish to see more of. When you are viewing a home through Facetime, this allows you to ask specific questions on the spot. You have the ability to ask your realtor to walk up on certain spots, zoom in, and even take detailed pictures.  

You will want to ensure that you are getting the best view from the inside and outside of the home. While you are Facetiming with your realtor, you can ask for him/her to step outside so you can get a closer look at your front yard, driveway, flowerbed, and even the fencing in the backyard. The exterior is just as important as the interior; you will not want to purchase a home and then find out it is a fixer upper.   

If you are going to put an offer down on a home from a distance, you should request to have it inspected beforehand. If the house is in perfect shape, then the realtor should not have a problem with this task. Remember that it is okay to be skeptical and to ask as many questions as you please.  

Ask Questions  

Asking questions is the key to you deciding to put an offer on the house. When you ask questions, you can find out things about the property that was not listed and may even lead to looking elsewhere. With that said, you should consider asking for the seller’s property disclosure statement. This statement is a legal document that a seller is required to share if they are aware of any flaws than can have a negative impact on the home’s value, such as mold infestation or paranormal activity.  

When viewing pictures of the home, look for details such as an image that is stretched out. If a picture seems to be altered in size, it typically means that they are trying to make a room appear bigger. If you come across a situation like this, ask your realtor for the property’s floor plan. It can be challenging to tell the true size of a bedroom, so the house’s floor plan can give you a better understanding of the layout and space of the home. You should gather as much information you can when purchasing a home virtually.  

Visit The Neighborhood  

There are other important aspects of your future home, such as the neighborhood. Although it is recommended to view your future neighborhood in person, sometimes that option is not available to you. Luckily, Google Street View allows you to view your neighborhood as if you were taking a walk through the block. You will be able to view the other houses in your community and see the quality of the roads.  

If you are interested in knowing your future home surroundings, Google Earth gives you the virtual advantage of viewing the nearest schools, restaurants, parks, and shopping centers near your home. If you have any children, you can research the web to see if there are sex offenders in your neighborhood.  

When purchasing a new home, wanting to view your future home in person before buying is understandable. However, virtual home tours play as a great, high-quality preview that will play a significant role in screening out any houses that you will not be interested in purchasing. Save yourself the time, money, and effort by buying through virtual tours with these tips and guide.

how to analyze real estate deals

How To Analyze Real Estate Deals

1000 500 Sam Radbil

How to analyze real estate deals?

That question is asked by millions of Americans every single year.

While investing in real estate is a goal shared by many Americans, it is a stable asset class that has the potential to produce life-changing wealth, provided you know how to analyze real estate deals and take action when the opportunity arises. 

white and brown concrete building under blue sky during daytime

If you harbor ambitions of taking your first steps in real estate investment, you’re in luck. The objective of this post is to provide a high-level overview of what you need to know to analyze fix and flip projects and investment properties. Let’s get started. 

How To Analyze Fix and Flip Deals

You Need To Know the Expected Return On Investment

There are a large number of variables that you need to consider when analyzing a fix and flip deal. Of these variables, Return On Investment (ROI) is arguably the most important.

Here is a simple way to analyze the ROI of a fix and flip property. For every dollar that you spend on the project, how many dollars do you expect to get back? The actual formula for ROI is relatively simple. You take the net profit, divide it by the total amount invested, and multiply that number by 100.

To help solidify the importance of ROI, it’s worth using an example, based on actual property flipping stats. According to Attom Data Solutions, it is common for property flippers to achieve an ROI of 40% (the average ROI from US property flips ranged from 38-42% in each quarter during 2019). 

In other words, if you were to invest $200,000, it is conceivable to make $80,000 dollars in the process, based on the 40% ROI figure taken from Attom. 

In this example, it is worth demonstrating the ROI formula in action. 

  • ROI = Net Profit / Total Amount Invested * 100
  • ROI = $80,000/$200,000*100 
  • ROI = 40%

At this point, it should be clear that flipping properties can be a powerful way to build wealth, whether you pursue it full time or as a secondary income source. However, in order to gain a more concrete understanding of the potential ROI, you need to factor in all the projected expenses.

Fortunately, a hard money loan calculator can make this reasonably simple to do. The calculator will help you understand the expected loan costs, broker fees and property taxes that will ultimately form part of your final ROI calculation. 

You Must Be Able To Identify, Acquire & Improve Undervalued Properties

Of all the skills that a property flipper needs to possess, the ability to identify undervalued homes sits right at the top of the list. When analyzing a potential flip, you need to have a firm grasp of how you can dramatically improve the selling price. 

For instance, modern homes with premium finishes leave very little room for improvement. While some interior design changes could create a small lift in property value, the reality is that it would be difficult to sell a property of this nature for more than the original purchase price, in a short space of time (naturally the property value could appreciate significantly over a number of years). 

white and brown house during daytime

However, older homes with outdated finishes, ugly exteriors and isolated kitchens can be a dream come true for property flippers. In such cases, there is potential to improve the exterior and the interior components of the property, which can result in a dramatic increase in property value. 

Knowing the After Repair Value Is Super Important

It is common for property flippers to refer to the ‘After Repair Value’ or ARV for short. This represents the expected value of the property after all the renovations have been completed. 

While there are a few ways to calculate the ARV, assessing similar properties in the area is by far the most common. 

Comparable properties are often called ‘comps’ for short and they can make or break a property deal. The basic premise is fairly simple. If a medium size 3 bedroom 3 bathroom house in a particular suburb of Dallas Texas is worth $300,000, there’s a good chance that a house with similar features will be worth roughly the same price. 

To learn more, this guide provides a fairly detailed overview of how to calculate ARV

Remember To Use The 70% Rule To Calculate The Maximum Purchase Price

This is a rule that many property investors use to quickly assess if a property flip is likely to be profitable. Once you have established the expected after repair value of the property, you simply multiply that amount by 70%. This gives you a fairly reliable maximum purchase price to work with.

When you are ready to enter negotiations with the seller, you can approach them with a concrete understanding of what you can afford. Pre-calculating the maximum purchase price is a safety mechanism that you can and should build into the deal. Fortunately, this doesn’t take very long to do, and it is something you will become increasingly familiar with as your experience with property flipping grows. 

How To Analyze Rental Property Deals

Investing in rental properties presents a different set of challenges to a typical fix and flip. Where property flipping requires you to have a discerning eye for a property’s true potential, rental property investing is less demanding in this respect.

man climbing on ladder inside room

For instance, it is entirely possible to buy a turnkey property that requires absolutely no improvements before your first tenant moves in. This increases the pool of potential properties to choose from and it also introduces a series of relatively simple mathematical tools that you can use to analyze the deal.

We will now take a look at 3 very useful tools for analyzing rental properties specifically.  

Tool 1 – Cash Flow: 

A basic estimate of potential cash flow is a good place to start when analyzing a rental property. This basic summary from fool.com sums it up quite nicely:

  • Determine the gross income from the property.
  • Deduct all expenses relating to the property.
  • Subtract any debt service relating to the property (ie the cost of the loan)
  • The difference is the property’s cash flow.

In other words, to work out the cash flow of the property, you simply need to calculate the gross income, subtract all the expenses, and then subtract the mortgage payments. Once you’ve calculated the cash flow, you can turn your attention to the expected cash-on-cash return. 

Tool 2 – Cash on Cash Return: 

The point of calculating the cash-on-cash return is to figure out how much money you are likely to make from the money you have invested into a rental property. It is calculated on a pre-tax basis, which helps reduce the complexity of the calculation, and it relies on a 1-year time horizon. 

The Cash on Cash Formula is straight-forward: Cash-on-cash Return = Annual Pre Tax Cash Flow / Total Cash Invested * 100

Crucially, the ‘Total Cash Invested’ is the total amount that you have invested into property, excluding the mortgage repayments. Usually, this would be the down payment, closing costs and repair costs, plus any other administrative fees that you may incur. 

The main benefit of calculating the Cash-on-cash return is that it allows you to compare the expected return against other investment opportunities, be it another rental property or even stock and bonds. 

Let’s say you’ve identified two similar properties, and the one is expected to produce a cash on cash return of 4%, while the other is likely to produce a cash-on-cash return of 6%. If all else is equal, you now have a solid platform from which to make a decision. 

Tool 3 – Cap Rate: 

This is another relatively simple formula that can help you assess the profitability of two competing properties. 

The actual formula is pretty straightforward: Cap Rate = Net Operating Income/Property Value

It might be worth clarifying that net operating income is simply the annual rental income, minus the annual property expenses. Also, the net operating income excludes the bond costs, so there is no need to factor these into the calculation. 

Like cash-on-cash return, Cap Rate can be very useful for comparing two properties. You are essentially just using the projected rental income, property expenses and property price to gain a basic understanding of the returns you can expect with a rental property. Because it is so quick and simple, you can analyze a large number of properties in a short period of time.

How To Analyze Real Estate Deals in Your Preferred Area

When analyzing any property, ‘Location, Location, Location’ is often touted as the most important consideration, and not without reason. Area analysis plays an important role in any real estate investment deal. For this reason, we are now going to highlight 8 things to consider when analyzing the overarching area. 

  1. Schools – Good schools and universities can be a huge drawcard for investors. It means more families and businesses are likely to settle in the area.
  2. Proximity To Parks – Quick access to parks can increase the desirability of an area.
  3. Scenery – There’s a reason houses with sea views and mountainous backdrops tend to increase in value over time. Stunning scenery can have a huge impact on property price.
  4. Transportation Facilities – Suburbs and cities with good transportation systems help improve the economic output of the area, while increasing the convenience of living there.
  5. Entertainment Features – Exciting entertainment features can be a big drawcard for tourism and residents alike.
  6. Job Opportunities – Assessing unemployment rates is always a good call when analyzing an area. If the unemployment rate is slowly increasing, you may need to extend your property research period before making a long term commitment to the area.
  7. Are Grocery Stores Investing In the area – You might be surprised by just how meaningful this is. If retail stores like Trader Joes, Whole Foods or Aldi have established themselves in the area, it can act as a green flag, indicating potential for an aspiring property investor.
  8. Are Property Prices Going Up or Down – You can easily assess the property prices of an area using Zillow or Trulia. If property prices are stable or increasing. However, if property prices are declining steadily, it might indicate a red flag that you should steer clear of.

Of course, these are not the only factors to consider when analyzing an area, but it should be enough to get you started. 

Final Thoughts 

Although the process of investing in real estate can be complex (keep in mind there are many books you can read to get started), there are ways to filter through all the available options and make a good decision. 

When looking at a fix and flip, place ROI at the forefront of your thought process. If you’re considering a rental property, be sure to use all the mathematical tools at your disposal to help make a good choice. And always remember to conduct a thorough area analysis before you make your final decision. Choosing the right location is a skill that you need to hone in order to become a successful real estate investor