First-time homebuyers are a declining group. Historically, 40% of homebuyers have been first-time buyers, but that percentage continues to shrink, even as millennials continue to show more interest in becoming buyers (eventually). If you’re already a homeowner, your wheels might be spinning right about now — if people aren’t buying starter homes, then the rental market has to be booming, right? It is in many areas, particularly where unemployment is low, the population is high, and homes are not overpriced. But before you start searching for a home for sale in Austin, TX to rent, you should think about the responsibility that comes with being a landlord — and learning by trial and error is not the best way to go about gathering intel (or a steady income).
Thinking about investing in a rental property? Here are some great tips that will get you started!
Ideally, you want to live near your rental property
Living close to your property allows you to check on it periodically (after giving your tenants proper notice), take care of repairs yourself, and show the property when it’s time to list it for rent again. Research the best investment areas — but even if you don’t live in a prime rental region, you can still invest in one by hiring a property manager to take care of day-to-day details.
Know landlord-tenant law
Most states have specific landlord-tenant provisions that cover issues such as security deposits, level of access to the property, and how much notice you need to give your tenants when you want them to leave. There also are federal laws you need to know, such as habitability and anti-discrimination laws. “Many landlords gloss over housing discrimination laws because they assume that as long as they’re not racist or sexist, they needn’t worry about fair-housing violations,” says Ron Leshnower, real estate attorney and author of Fair Housing Helper for Apartment Professionals. But fair-housing liability traps can arise in many ways, so it’s important that you fully understand the law and ensure that you aren’t breaking it.
Make sure you can enforce that the rent is paid on time
This seems like a no-brainer, but believe me, if you get too friendly with your tenants, you might just let them slide a couple of weeks beyond the first of the month, or allow a partial payment when they’re between jobs. Before you know it, your tenants are six months behind and you’re struggling to make the mortgage payments. But being firm doesn’t mean you shouldn’t treat tenants with respect. Cultivating a good relationship with your tenants often goes a long way to ensure rent will be paid on time and that repair requests will be easier to deal with.
Screen potential tenants
It’s worth the time to do a background and credit check on all potential tenants: online tenant-screening services are convenient, and you should be sure to check potential tenants’ credit scores. A credit score alone shouldn’t be the sole reason to accept or deny an applicant, but it is a useful screening tool: For instance, if your renter is fresh out of college with a solid job offer, they may not have enough credit history to warrant a good score—but could be a great rental candidate.
You should also conduct an interview to make sure you’re comfortable interacting with them, and check references, especially from employers or past landlords. But be advised, it’s hard to find the perfect tenant. According to Casey Fleming, author of The Loan Guide: How to Get the Best Possible Mortgage, it’s important to have a thick skin, and advises people not to buy rental property if tenant shenanigans will “drive you crazy.” Case in point: Fleming once had an evicted tenant break into the house, change the locks, and move back in!
Customize the lease
If you don’t hire an attorney or a property manager, you can use a standard lease form from Nolo, for example, but you should tweak it to fit your situation. For example, if you allow pets, specify how many, what kind, and any rules that apply. Your lease could state that tenants should leash their dogs when outside the fenced-in yard and stipulate that pets should not become a nuisance to neighbors.
Inspect the property regularly
“Have language regarding inspections clearly written in your lease documents,” says Timmi Ryerson, CEO of Smart Property Systems. She suggests taking pictures to establish a baseline (and document the move-in condition) and conducting an inspection at three months. If you find problems, Ryerson recommends that landlords “issue a notice to comply and set another inspection in one week.”
Understand this is not a get-rich-quick scheme
Being a landlord is not just sitting around collecting a big wad of cash each month. You’ll need to spend some money to ready the property for tenants, buy landlord insurance, and pay property taxes. If you’re taking out a mortgage, be prepared to fork over at least a 20% down payment. Think of being a landlord as part of your overall investment strategy and be realistic about your goals — most landlords aim for about a 5% return on their investments.
Source: Trulia Blog
With this terrific checklist, you, too, can be on your way to being a savvy investor!
Everyone wants a magic and immediate path to wealth. The bad news? The path doesn’t exist. Wealth is attainable through more conventional means. If you come to understand the real estate industry and if you deepen your own firsthand experience as you buy and sell investment properties, you’ll be on the road to success.
Along the road, there are six core principles that will make or break each real estate investment deal. They are the most important concepts you will learn. I call them the Big Six. With each successive deal I negotiated, I grew to recognize the common elements. The Big Six are part of a sequenced step-by-step formula that enables you to identify and purchase the right income property at the right price.
The elements of the Big Six Formula that will guide you into the basics of buying income properties are the following:
Location is the single most important component of any real estate deal. It is crucial in determining your investment success. Look for properties that are situated in an “A” location. Such locations include the socioeconomic levels of the people who live or work in a particular neighborhood, its proximity to shopping centers, public transportation, crime levels, the nearness of prestigious universities and medical facilities, traffic congestion, zoning restrictions, the quality of schools, fire and police protection, and even the reputation of the local government and its officials.
Building Quality and Design Efficiency
Design efficiency interfaces with building quality. When you find an investment property you’d like to buy, you will need to scrutinize both elements. Look for properties that far exceed minimum construction requirements and that have useful and innovative design elements. This will not only make the property attractive to tenants but will add value to the property in the future. Design features on apartment complexes that stand the test of time include walk-in closets, large kitchens with windows, and his-and-her bathrooms. In an office building, a common area factor of 15 percent is desirable as well as a ratio of four parking spaces for every 1,000 square feet of rentable space.
Tenants can represent either an asset or a liability in an investment. When you invest, your mission is to make sure your tenant profile is the former and not the latter. Just as you want a well-constructed and well-designed property, you’ll want stable tenants who are a good match for your property and have appropriate lease agreements. Find out how much rent is generated and whether it is at market rate or under market. You want to focus on finding an income property that offers the opportunity to increase rental income and, by doing so, multiply the value of the property so that you can resell it at a substantial profit.
This fourth element refers to the cash flow growth possibilities offered by a particular property along with the likelihood that the property will increase in value. A property may cost $1,500,000 to construct, but if it brings in only the income of a $900,000 property, then it is worth only $900,000. The key to increasing value lies in buying a solid Class B property in an “A” location where the rents are under the market, the leases are short term, and there are no options to renew the leases.
In the musical Cabaret, there is a song with the lyrics “Money makes the world go around.” It could just as easily be used to describe real estate’s role in the economic landscape. The free flow of money and access to credit is what adds vibrancy to property investment. Before you get started, you’ll need to get a number of finance-related items in order. The first thing you should do before applying for a mortgage loan is to review your credit reports and your credit scores. Also, learn the terms, understand the components of a mortgage and how they interact, and be open to the full range of financing options available. Banks and other financial institutions make money from mortgages. They are willing to negotiate. Be creative—you may be surprised at the terms you’re able to obtain from a bank or insurance companies, especially in today’s low interest rate environment.
The successful evaluation of a property’s price has to do with how much information you can gather about a seller and the property than it does about the price tag on the real estate deal. You must look at the value of the property, which is not the same thing as its price. The crucial concern is not just how much the property costs, but what kind of income it can generate for you. A property may be architecturally perfect and engineeringly sound, but if you’re locked into long-term, under-market lease rates, the value will be eroded.
If you master these principles, wealth will be within reach. However, it’s not enough to just understand and utilize the Big Six. You must execute them in order. That’s because they all fit together snugly to form your customized real estate formula.