How to Get the Most Bang for Your Buck when Upgrading Your Rental Property

By Silvia Englert, General Manager at Houserie.com

If you own rental property, you want to get the highest return on the money you invest in the property. Deciding on the rental price and what improvements to make to the rental all affect the ROI and can be a difficult task. The time period between one tenant moving out and another tenant moving in offers the perfect opportunity for landlords to update and improve their rentals to maximize return on investment. To make your rental stand out in your neighborhood and attract many “good” tenants that are willing to pay “top” dollar in rent, you should consider making some updates before putting the property back on the market. Here are a few ways you can upgrade your property and get a nice ROI without spending an arm and a leg.

Give the Kitchen a Facelift

The kitchen is often the most important room to the future tenant as people tend to spend a lot of time in the kitchen. A facelift does not mean ripping everything out. Replacing old black and white appliances with stainless steel Energy Star certified appliances is always a huge hit. If the cabinets are in bad shape, re-facing them could be an economical decision. Even just replacing the hardware with brushed nickel knobs and pulls can give the kitchen a whole new look. Dependent on your budget, a solid surface countertop might be another way to give that kitchen an updated look that will last a long time! These kitchen improvements will net you more money each month and increase the value of your property, should you choose to sell it at a later point.

Install an Energy Star Certified Washer and Dryer

Most tenants do not like buying washers and dryers as they are expensive purchases and are difficult to move. However, going to a laundromat is expensive as well and very time consuming for the tenant. Installing an energy efficient washer and dryer in your property will attract more renters and can increase your rent by as much as $100/month!

Replace Old Carpet with Laminate or Hardwood Flooring

Replacing old carpet with hard surface flooring will not only attract tenants and save you lots of money in carpet cleaning costs but it also gives you the opportunity to advertise your property as pet-friendly. Hardwood floors would be great but laminate is a more economical option. In the long term this upgrade will add hundreds of dollars annually to your ROI.

“Freshen Up” the Bathroom

Another item on most renters must-have list are updated bathrooms. If you don’t have the budget for a full upgrade, the bare minimum – new faucets, showerheads, and fixtures – can instantly give that bathroom a “newer” look. Even new knobs on the cabinets and a fresh coat of paint can make an “old” bathroom” look more modern and fresh!

Replace Old Appliances with Energy Star Efficient Models

Energy Star appliances can save a tenant a substantial amount of money on a monthly basis. Replacing a refrigerator and an outdated HVAC system can reduce energy costs by as much as 20 percent. Make sure when you replace appliances to advertise that in your rental listing. Tenants are willing to pay more rent if they know that their energy costs will be lower.

Make Some Aesthetic Improvements and Keep it Neutral

Cosmetic upgrades can attract more potential tenants and can increase the rental income of your property significantly. A fresh coat of paint and some new light fixtures will show tenants that you are taking care of your property. Make sure when making cosmetic upgrades to keep the colors and design light and neutral so tenants can imagine giving the space a personal touch.

When upgrading your rental property it is important to only spend money on things that will impress your tenants and get you the most bang for your buck. Also make sure the improvements are not over the top and in line with the “quality” of the rental while keeping the neighborhood and prospective tenants in mind. Stick to your budget and put your money where your prospective tenants will appreciate it most!

For more Information, visit www.houserie.com, follow us and like us on Facebook or visit our Landlord Blogs.


This post has been authored by Eric Slifkin, REALTOR® serving South Florida’s Treasure Coast. You can reach me at 888-288-1765, or visit my Web site. As your resource for information on new or resale homes throughout the Treasure Coast, please be sure to contact me about any home you may find on the Web, yard sign or ad and I will research the property, arrange showings and handle all the details.

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2015. All rights reserved.

The Changing Landscape of Rentals

By Erin Ruane, Executive Director, Homes.com Rentals

America’s recent recession brought about many changes to the housing market, with one major impact being an increase of single-family rental housing units. Freddie Mac reports that the single-family rental market, not to be confused with multifamily, has expanded 16 percent (about 3 million units) since 2007 to total around 11 million single-family homes across the country now occupied by renters.

Factors contributing to the rise of those looking to rent a home rather than buy include uncertainty with jobs, negative equity and a large amount of foreclosures. Certain demographic trends, particularly with younger renters, are also driving this increase, such as a desire for amenities, flexibility and a desire to live in more urban environments.

A survey of renters conducted by Opinion Research Corporation showed that single-family rental homes are the fastest growing housing option in America, with 3.6 million homes built for owner occupancy now serving as rentals because owners lost them through foreclosure.

Based on MBA’s National Delinquency Survey, the foreclosure rate has skyrocketed from around 1 percent in late 2005 to around 4.3 percent today. With more than a million homes still in the national foreclosure inventory, that number is expected to rise as many of those will be converted to rentals in the ensuing years.

This trend is expected to continue, with five to six million new renter households being created within the next 10 years, likely caused from low inventories of homes available and tight credit conditions, according to the Bipartisan Policy Center. Many investors jumped into the market and snapped up single-family houses with the goal of renting them out to make bigger returns in key markets.

Not surprisingly, Homes.com has seen 34 percent of its traffic searching for rentals (single-family homes), and this number seems to be rising monthly.

According to data from the 2012 U.S. Census and analyzed by the National Multifamily Housing Council, 32 percent of U.S. households are renter-occupied, with 33 percent of renters living in single-family homes.

Who’s Renting?

The National Association of REALTORS® expects a strong demand for apartments to drive up rents 4.6 percent this year, leading many people to explore the possibility of renting a home.

Because of student loans, a tough job market and stricter mortgage requirements, millennials lead the pack of renters, with 43 percent of all renters falling under the age of 30. Gen Y are not the only renters, however, as 37 percent fall into the 30-44 year old bracket, with 22 percent between 45-64 and 16 percent over 65.

A real estate professional would obviously prefer to sell a home or find a home for their client to buy, rather than going the rental route. A savvy agent will think more about the immediate financial gains, but there are long term gains to be had as well.

Those renting may wind up eventually buying the home or will save up enough money to purchase another home, and will call on your relationship with them for guidance. Keeping your clients happy is the main goal.

In an analysis by Premier Property Management Group, out of Memphis, Tenn., it’s revealed that single-family home tenants are 25 percent more likely to remain in their current homes five years or longer, compared to just 22 percent of apartment dwellers, so it seems more stable than multifamily rentals.

Studies show that half of all renters, including approximately 60 percent of single‐family renters, anticipate becoming homeowners in the next five years. Of those, families with three or more members clock in at around 64 percent, and those with children under 13 register about 69 percent.

While the housing market is turning around in the early months of 2014, economic uncertainty and new regulations on mortgages should keep the rental market going strong in the months ahead. With more rental housing choices available today, property managers are more challenged than ever to make sure their vacancies attract tenants and rent quickly. Visit Homes.com for marketing solutions and resources to support property managers looking to fill their existing vacancies and add properties to their portfolios.

For more information, visit www.connect.homes.com.

This post has been authored by Eric Slifkin, REALTOR® serving South Florida’s Treasure Coast. You can reach me at 888-288-1765, or visit my Web site. As your resource for information on new or resale homes throughout the Treasure Coast, please be sure to contact me about any home you may find on the Web, yard sign or ad and I will research the property, arrange showings and handle all the details.

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2014. All rights reserved.

Stuart, Florida Rental Homes: FAQ’s

Stuart, Florida Rental Homes: FAQ’s

An Interview with a Landlord

While renting a home may be a lot less complicated than buying one, there are still a variety of complications that can arise. Make sure you head into renting with a clear understanding of the lease and the landlord. Below are 6 key questions to ask a prospective landlord. By the way, the landlord will probably have some questions for you, too.

What is the protocol for maintenance issues? Find out the best way to communicate with your landlord regarding maintenance requests and determine the time frame in which you should expect a response. If the landlord can’t clearly answer these questions, that could be a major red flag.

How many have come before me? It’s good to know if the landlord and/or other tenants have lived in the rental unit before you. If the property has had a few other tenants, that’s often a good sign; however, if it’s changed hands dozens of times, that could pose a variety of problems. If tenants move in and out quickly, this could signify an issue with the unit.

Can I make upgrades to the property? In an effort to secure a responsible tenant, some landlords will make upgrades to the rental unit or allow the tenant to make changes. Find out if you can add your own stamp with painting, flooring, landscaping, or appliances, and if so, what procedures are in place for pre-approval.

Is there a regular extermination schedule? Pests are often common problems in rental units. Ask the landlord if an exterminator services the property on a regular basis.

What will utilities cost? Utility expenses need to be factored into your decision-making process and subsequently, your budget. Ask the landlord to provide you with the previous six months of utility bills (water, gas, electric) to help you determine whether or not the rental is affordable.

What are the particular rules and regulations? It doesn’t matter how thoroughly you read your lease (and you should — before signing), because little things can get past you. This also helps you get to know your potential landlord a little better. You’ll learn about their personality and you’ll be able to gauge whether or not you will get along down the road.

Source: Yahoo! Real Estate

Are You A Renter? Insure Your Stuff!

By John Voket

I need a bunch of you – specifically you renters – to take a moment and consider an important piece of advice about your stuff. If you love it, then make an extra effort to protect it.

Did you know the majority of homeowners buy insurance, but just one in three college-aged renters insures their belongings? Even more shocking: at least half of all renters fail to buy any insurance protection for their possessions.

Way too many consumers are under the mistaken impression that their landlord’s policy will cover their losses, according to the Connecticut Better Business Bureau. BBB says renter’s insurance generally covers property damage or loss caused by theft, fire, vandalism or storms. In addition, most policies include liability coverage, which protects a tenant if someone gets hurt when visiting their home or apartment.

The cost of renter’s insurance is usually lower than homeowner’s insurance because it covers only personal property and liability, not the structure. The amount of the deductible can also affect the cost of premiums.

Two types of renter’s insurance coverage are available:

  • Actual cash value insurance pays to replace items up to the policy’s limits, minus a deduction for depreciation.
  • Replacement cost insurance pays the actual cost of replacing your possessions, regardless of depreciation, up to the limits on the policy.

Consider the value of possessions versus the cost of insurance – even a college student can have property worth several thousand dollars, such as computers, televisions, furniture, jewelry or small appliances.

When seeking a renter’s insurance quote:

  • Determine if you have specific items of high value, you also may need a rider to cover those items.
  • Ask what deductibles apply to the policy.
  • Find out whether the policy will cover living costs if you are unable to occupy your current apartment or home.
  • Inquire about exclusions, such as types of property that would not be covered.
  • Ask the insurer if they give discounts for burglar alarms, fire extinguishers, sprinkler systems or deadbolts on exterior doors.
  • If you are switching insurers, be sure that the new policy is in effect before dropping the old one.
  • As with any insurance product, BBB advises consumers to get estimates from several companies before buying a policy.

Source: www.bbb.org.

This post has been authored by Eric Slifkin, REALTOR® serving South Florida’s Treasure Coast. You can reach me at 888-288-1765, or visit my Web site. As your resource for information on new or resale homes throughout the Treasure Coast, please be sure to contact me about any home you may find on the Web, yard sign or ad and I will research the property, arrange showings and handle all the details.

Demand Surges for Rental Housing

Freddie Mac: Demand surges for rental housing

Rentals

MCLEAN, Va. – Oct. 18, 2011 – Freddie Mac released its U.S. Economic and Housing Market Outlook for October. It shows rental demand rising and calls the multifamily sector “a strong positive signal for the U.S. housing industry.”

Outlook highlights:

• Over the year ending mid-2011, the Census Bureau reported a net increase of 1.4 million households that moved into rental housing – a 4 percent rise in the number of tenant households in just one year.

• The U.S. homeownership rate fell about 1.5 percent over the past year (from 66.9 percent to 65.9 percent); homeownership rates fell about 4.4 percent for those under 25 years of age, and by 7 percent for those aged 25 to 29 years.

• Apartment rents, which had been flat to falling in many projects during the 2008-2009 recession, have started to rise, albeit slowly.

• New construction starts of apartments in buildings with at least 20 dwellings has picked up this year; in the second quarter, it reached its highest point since the end of 2008.

• Low Treasury yields suggest that mortgage rates fell to new lows for multifamily lending in recent weeks.

© 2011 Florida Realtors®

Reprinted with permission. Florida Realtors®. All rights reserved.

 

This post has been authored by Eric Slifkin, REALTOR® serving South Florida’s Treasure Coast. You can reach me at 888-288-1765, or visit my Web site. As your resource for information on new or resale homes throughout the Treasure Coast, please be sure to contact me about any home you may find on the Web, yard sign or ad and I will research the property, arrange showings and handle all the details.

Landlords :: Five Rules for Screening Tenants

As a landlord, selecting a qualified tenant is one of the most important steps in the process of getting your home rented. In choosing the right tenant you should expect to receive your rent in full, on time, and that your property will be well kept. On the other hand, a poor or uniformed decision on your part can result in a myriad of problems, including having to make your mortgage payment out of pocket while trying to collect the rent or evicting your tenant.

 

That said, here are five rules to consider in seeking a tenant (when applying these rules make sure you are working within your state’s rental laws):

 

1. Establish minimum criteria that every applicant must meet to be accepted including:

 

-Verifiable income that is at least three times the amount of the rent

-Credit score above 600

-Clean background check with no evictions

 

2. Require a formal application. This information will be provided to the tenant screening company who will charge you a fee for the report. This charge is passed onto the applicant as the application fee. Collecting the fee up front ensures you are covered for this expense and is your first red flag should they balk about paying it. Always obtain written consent to run a credit report and background check.

 

3. Get permission to contact current and past landlords as well as employer(s). Current or former landlords and employers may only confirm atenant’s residency or employment, but you can try sending a form asking direct questions that may provide information vital to making informed tenant decisions.

 

4. While not always practical, you may want to visit a prospective tenant in their current home. This can provide a window into what you may expect from this applicant.

 

5. Should you turn down an applicant always do it in writing and provide the source, if any, of the information you used to reach that decision. Better rental screening companies will provide a pre-written acceptance or rejection letter to make your job easier.

 

The key to success in procuring a tenant is your determination to say no when the screening results do not add up. By not letting your emotions affect your decisions and maintaining consistent rental policies you can avoid dealing with a tenant who could become your worst nightmare.

 

This post has been authored by Eric Slifkin, REALTOR® serving South Florida’s Treasure Coast. You can reach me at 888-288-1765, or visit my Web site. As your resource for information on new or resale homes throughout the Treasure Coast, please be sure to contact me about any home you may find on the Web, yard sign or ad and I will research the property, arrange showings and handle all the details.

Landlords: FAQs About Leases


Frequently Asked Questions


  • What reasons do I need to file an eviction?

    You can file an eviction if a tenant refuses to vacate the premises after the service of a proper notice to the tenant. Whether or not a notice is “proper” is determined by law and by the lease. Different types of notices are required depending on the reason for the termination. For example, a notice that terminates due to the nonpayment of rent is a different notice than a notice based on criminal activity.


  • How do I begin an eviction?

    All evictions begin with a proper notice that tells the tenant to vacate the premises. Once the notice expires, an eviction complaint is filed with the Clerk of the County Court.


  • Can I evict a tenant who has children?

    You can evict any tenant who fails to comply with the lease.


  • What notices do I need to give?

    It is critical that a proper notice be given. Different types of notices are required depending on the reason for the termination. For example, a notice that terminates due to the nonpayment of rent is a different notice than a notice based on criminal activity. The wording of the notice is important. You should get advice from an attorney before issuing a notice to the tenant.


  • How do I serve the notices?

    Your lease may tell you how to serve the notice. Check its language. If your lease does not give you specific direction on how to serve the notice, then you can do one of the following: a.) hand it to an adult who lives at the property; or b.) post it on the door to the property.


    The law permits you to mail the notice to the tenant. However, using the mail means special rules apply to the deadlines contained in the notice. Do not use the mail for the service of a notice without first getting legal advice.


    If you are posting the notice on the door, be sure to fasten it securely to the door so that it does not blow away.


  • What is a Three Day Notice?

    A three day notice is the most common type of notice. It is used only in situations where the tenant has failed to pay rent. The notice tells the tenant to either pay the rent within three days or vacate the premises within three days.


    The language on the three day notice must be very precise. Not all forms that one finds on the internet are valid under Florida law!


  • What amounts can I put on the Three Day Notice?

    The three day notice can demand only the rent that is due as of the date the notice is served. It cannot include amounts that are not rent. It cannot demand rent that will become due tomorrow or due any time in the future.


  • Suppose the tenant tries to pay me?

    The tenant has the absolute right to pay you the full amount of rent due within the time frame of the three day notice. You must accept the rent if it is offered to you within the three day time period. If the three day time period has expired, you can refuse the rent.


  • Suppose the tenant only has partial rent?

    You do not have to accept partial payment after you have served a three day notice. However, you do have to accept rent if the amount tendered is the full amount that was demanded on the notice.


  • Can I collect late fees?

    You can collect late fees only if the lease says you can. If there is no written lease, then you cannot collect late fees.


  • How long does an eviction take?

    It varies depending on the reason for the eviction, how busy the court is, and whether the tenant mounts a defense. Generally, an eviction for nonpayment of rent where the tenant does not file a defense to the case, takes about three weeks until judgment is entered. If a writ of possession must be issued and served to make the tenant move, then about another week is added to the time.


  • Can I refuse cash?

    Your lease may say how payment is to be made. If your lease says you can refuse cash, then you can refuse cash. Otherwise, you must accept it.


  • Do I need an attorney to file the eviction?

    The eviction is a lawsuit. It must be filed by an attorney or by the individual landlord who will then represent himself in court.

    A property manager can file some evictions. The property manager can file an eviction based on nonpayment of rent, provided the lawsuit does not seek a money judgment and provided that there is something in writing showing that the property manager has the owner’s permission to file the eviction. Also, the property manager is only entitled to file the eviction and then submit paperwork for a default judgment to be entered. The property manager cannot act as the “lawyer” at a hearing or file any other papers.


    If the landlord wishes to file his own eviction, the clerk of court may have forms available for a small fee.


    There are advantages to having an attorney handle the eviction. The attorney is most familiar with the eviction process and can most ably handle the filing of the required papers. The attorney is on the frontline, able to handle any defense asserted by the tenant and any problems that may arise.


  • Can I hold off on a repair if I do not receive rent?

    No. The obligation to repair and maintain property is totally independent of the tenant’s obligation to pay rent. If the tenant has not paid rent, then the remedy is to serve a three day notice.


  • Can the tenant fight the eviction?

    The tenant has the opportunity to file an answer to the eviction complaint. In that answer, the tenant can list the reasons why the eviction should not occur. These “defenses” are then heard by the judge. However, the tenant is only entitled to have the judge consider the defenses if the tenant has deposited the rent that is owed into the court registry.


  • Suppose the tenant retains an attorney?

    Just as the landlord is entitled to hire an attorney, so too is the tenant. If the landlord is representing himself in the eviction, and the tenant retains an attorney, then the landlord should seek the help of an attorney so that there would be an “even playing field” in court.


  • Do eviction cases go to court?

    All lawsuits are filed with the “Clerk of Court”. All judgments are signed by a judge. However, not all cases go through a hearing or trial. In fact, most evictions do not require a hearing or trial. If the tenant fails to file an answer or fails to deposit the rent that is owed, a “default” will be entered and, following that, a “default judgment”. For those cases where a default is entered, there is usually no hearing or trial.


  • What happens if the tenant pays the rent to the court?

    If the tenant deposits the rent that is owed into the Court Registry, then a “final hearing of eviction” or an “eviction trial” will be scheduled. At that final hearing, the judge will decide if the landlord is entitled to get back possession of the rental premises. The landlord must be prepared to prove his case at the final hearing with witnesses and exhibits. The tenant will have the chance at the final hearing to present proof why he should not be evicted.


  • Can the tenant file bankruptcy and stop the eviction?

    The tenant can file a bankruptcy case at the bankruptcy court. Once the bankruptcy case is filed, all collection efforts must stop. That means that the eviction must stop until the bankruptcy judge gives permission for it to proceed. Getting that type of permission is not difficult but generally requires the assistance of an attorney who is admitted to practice in that court.


  • Will the tenant have to pay my attorney’s fees?

    The Florida Landlord Tenant Act says that whoever wins a landlord tenant case can win attorney fees. Thus, if you are successful in evicting your tenant, you are entitled to a judgment that says the tenant must pay your attorney fees and court costs. Keep in mind that having a judgment for the attorney fees is not the same as having the money in your pocket! You would still need to collect the fees.


  • Can I file an eviction if I have no lease?

    Yes. However, you will need to show what the oral agreement was about the tenancy. How much is the rent and how often was it to be paid? On what day was rent due? Those facts have to be alleged in the eviction complaint and then proven to a judge.


  • How do I non renew a tenant?

    A notice of nonrenewal can be served to the tenant and will be valid if it gives the tenant a sufficient number of days “warning” that the lease will not renew and if it tells the tenant to vacate on the last day of a rental period.


    How many days must the notice give? Look first at your lease. It may tell you how much notice must be given for a nonrenewal. If your lease does not contain such language, or if there is no lease, then the following rules apply:

    — If the rent is paid on a monthly basis, then give not less than 15 days’ notice prior to the end of any monthly period

    — If the rent is paid on a weekly basis, then give not less than 7 days’ notice prior to the end of any weekly period.


  • Do I need a reason to non renew a tenant?

    No. You can nonrenew a tenant for any reason, as long as it is not retaliatory or discriminatory.


    This answer may be different if the rental property receives the benefit of a rental assistance program or other government benefit. Consult with an attorney if you are not sure.



Information courtesy of the Law Offices of Heist, Weisse & Davis

Phone: 1-800-253-8428 Fax: 1-800-367-9038

Serving Florida’s Property Managers with offices in Orlando, Clearwater, and Fort Myers Beach, Principal Office



10 Tips For Purchasing Rental Property in Stuart, Florida

RentalsWhen considering a rental property for investment or a vacation home you plan to rent out to offset expenses, it is important to make sure you perform due diligence and are prepared for the task at hand. As a “rental property virgin” buying your first property involves more than just buying a home and renting it out. Here are some tips to help get you started.


1.Find a seasoned Realtor who knows Stuart, Florida’s neighborhoods and communities as well as the surrounding Treasure Coast area. An experienced agent can recommend suitable properties to buy and will be able to provide up to date information about local market conditions, negotiate the best deal, and procure a tenant when the time comes.


2.Check your finances. When financing your rental property or vacation home it is important to ensure there are no errors on your credit report and resolve any problems quickly.


3.Schedule an appointment with your accountant or lawyer. They will point out how becoming a landlord affects you from a legal and tax standpoint.


4.Determine your budget. Your lender or mortgage broker should help calculate the maximum amount you can afford to pay, how much of a down payment will be needed, and get you pre-approved for a mortgage. Estimated closing costs and other incidentals must also be factored in.


5.Visit neighborhoods that interest you at various times of the day and night to get a feel for what the area is like.


6.Be selective http://microbestshop.com/microsoft-windows-7-professional-with-sp1-32-bit-64-bit/. It is important to treat your rental property search as if you were in the process of buying your primary residence.


7.Consider future resale. Features that are a concern to you will most likely affect future buyers as well.


8.Before making an offer ask your agent to provide information about comparable properties in the area. It is important to compare recent sales, price per square foot, area rents, and other relevant information to be sure you are getting a good deal.


9.Schedule a home inspection. Once your offer is accepted (with conditions) be sure to call in a professional home inspector. A home inspection will tell you if the home is safe to live in, identify any problems that need to be addressed, and help to avoid expensive repairs down the road. You may also need to get separate termite, well, septic or other inspections.


10.Establish a reserve fund to cover future repairs, vacancies, etc.


As in any real estate transaction, buying a rental property requires advance planning and that you stay on top of all the activities and details necessary for a successful purchase. Employing a Realtor with a high-quality professional support network will help to facilitate your transaction and avoid missteps along the way.



This post has been authored by Eric Slifkin, REALTOR® serving South Florida’s Treasure Coast. You can reach me at 888-288-1765, or visit my Web site. As your resource for information on new or resale homes throughout the Treasure Coast, please be sure to contact me about any home you may find on the Web, yard sign or ad and I will research the property, arrange showings and handle all the details.