Archives for posts with tag: landlord advice

The constant fluctuations of the housing market can mean many things in terms of property investment, rental rates and the life of a landlord. We know, for instance, that there is a higher percentage of renters in the United States than there has been in quite sometime. But what we haven’t addressed is that there are also more landlords. Whether you have found yourself in a property investment deal that didn’t go quite as planned or you’ve moved to another house while your old property has sat on the market for far too long, you yourself may have already become a landlord due to lack of options. The life of a landlord can be financially rewarding, but it can also be complex and draining with many rules, laws and advice to wade through. In this post, we want to distill a few of the more important tips that will lead to a better life for both you and your tenants.
1. Have a Knowledgeable Attorney On Speed Dial

And we don’t mean your friend from high school who now works in criminal law or your neighbor who used to be a paralegal. You should find an attorney who specializes and it intimately familiar with landlord/tenant law and the evictions process. No one wants to think about evictions when you don’t even have a tenant yet, but the fact is that at some point you will have to deal with the process. If you develop a good relationship with an attorney sooner rather than later, it can save you a lot of headache and maybe a few bucks in the future. A good attorney can also help you by reviewing your lease agreement to make sure there aren’t any glaring errors or problems.

2. Consider Professional Property Management

It may seem like an expensive prospect, but the fact is that unless you live next door and can dedicate a significant amount of your time to dealing with your tenants, you will be much better off having the property managed professionally. A trusted manager can fix problems as they arise, collect rents and develop a professional relationship with your tenants so that you can go on living your life without the constant threat of a phone call with and emergency plumbing situation.

3. Set Expectations Right Away

It’s evident from this blog post and the ensuing comments that most landlords agree it’s important to set your expectations up front and not back down, even if it makes you uncomfortable at first. As a landlord, it is important to remember that while you may respect and even like your tenants, you are not friends with them. Insist that they pay their rent in full, on time, from the very beginning. This makes it less likely that they will offer up excuses in the future. You’ve become a landlord to recoup an investment, one way or another, and you won’t be able to do that unless you actually get rent.

4. Find a Good Apartment Application

Having an application system in place before you even put out a yard sign for your vacancy will make your rental process go more smoothly. Of course, we may be a little biased, be we find that an online rental application is much simpler to use than a paper form. You can collect all the information you need – including references, driver’s license number, credit check approval and a new tenant’s contact information – and keep it safely in one place online for future reference. Even if you don’t choose to go online with the process, make sure you have an application ready as soon as tenants start calling.

5. Choose Tenants Wisely

If you’re desperate to start making income from your property, you may want to take the first person who shows an interest, but that is not the best idea. Screen your tenants, run a credit check on your tenants, interview your tenants, call your tenants’ landlords. Make sure they are trustworthy people who are not apt to destroy your property and run off in the middle of the night without paying rent.

Of course, being a landlord is not as simple as five easy tips, but keeping these in mind as you venture into the world of landlord-hood should make your new role a little easier.

The economy of any entity, be it a college, a family or a city, is a complicated thing. So you can imagine how much more complicated it gets when you start to consider the economy of an entire country or even the whole planet.  I’m not going to aim for an economics lesson here for a lot of reasons (mainly I’m totally unqualified) but there are a few tidbits, facts and predictions that are particular relevant to our customers, namely landlords who are renting property in the United States, about the current economy and its affects on the rental market in this country that you may find interesting and helpful.  These are the tastes of information that I’m going to focus on because let’s face it, if I’d studied economics I probably wouldn’t be blogging right now.  But I digress.

When the housing bubble first burst a few years ago, the entire country suffered its consequences in many ways.  One of the truly devastating effects was the skyrocketing foreclosure rate among American homeowners.  Putting aside the emotional nature of that particular economic event, let’s look at how that astronomical foreclosure rate affected the U.S. rental market.  Some experts believed that it would have a generally positive effect on U.S. rental properties because the homeowners that were forced to leave their houses would find themselves new additions to the renter pool.

However, that actually did not end up being the case, as the Atlantic pointed out in 2009.  Instead, many of those former homeowners ended up moving in with friends or family rather than entering the rental market.  Conversely, those condos and homes that agents or banks were now unable to sell, did enter the rental market as rentable properties.  Unfortunately for landlords, the housing market collapse actually had a negative effect on the rental market as well because there was more rentable property but no additional renters, which of course means that rents go down.

Today, slowly but surely, we find that the U.S. economy is improving, which is certainly great news all around as unemployment drops and different sectors recover at their own rates.  Fortunately for property owners and landlords, this recovery is beginning to include the U.S. rental market.  Indeed, real estate research site Zillow found that in January 2012, the median rental rates rose by 3% since that same time last year, which is certainly good news if you are a landlord with property to rent.  Although during that same period, home values actually fell, experts expect that will not be a continuing trend.  Instead, it may be an indication that this is a good time to invest in a rental property before home values begin to increase again, while the rental market recovers first.  As the economy continues to grow more stable and robust, we can expect that rental rates will do the same.

This trend of rising rents and dropping home values has some analysts concerned that we are in the midst of a “rent bubble,” but as we look at the data further, that does not seem to be quite the right term.  Of course, as you plan your rental property investments, you will want to keep in mind that there isn’t an upward trend that lasts forever.  However, it is unlikely that the bottom will fall out of the rental market in exactly the same way it did for so many homeowners.  As more first time landlords invest in homes at these low prices, the number of rental homes will increase which naturally means the rise of rents will slow.  At some point, it is likely that these two trajectories, rents up and home values down, will reach some kind of equilibrium but how exactly that will shake out remains to be seen and is certainly worth keeping an eye on.

Still, it is important to not get lazy with your property ownership as the rental market improves.  Instead, stay ahead of the curve by investing in or trying out new technologies like online rental applications and efficient background checks to make sure that you attracting the best tenants, no matter what the economy looks like.