Hope for your financial life and beyond

Simple and Fun Ways Landlords Can Treat Their Tenants Well

Dog staring at a sign that says Dogs WelcomeThe primary objective for owning rental real estate is to make money. Landlords can facilitate meeting this objective by running their property like a business and treating their tenants well. A happy tenant is one more likely to stick around for the long term.

There are many money related issues with being a landlord. The most expensive and time consuming period, other than the initial purchase and renovation, is the turnaround phase after a tenant leaves. Repairs, cleaning, advertising, interviews, and background checks all need to be accomplished before a new tenant can move in. The fewer number of times a landlord devotes to those tasks the better.

With that in mind, here are some things I’m doing to help my tenants enjoy their stay.

Response Times

[Read more…]

4 Reasons Why We Paid Off Our Mortgage Early

Paying off the mortgage early is a hot topic when it comes to money management. There seems to be a good amount of quality logic for keeping it and equally valid logic for paying it off early. So what’s a homeowner to do?

After we bought our first house, I began to study this idea. I read all the opinions and ended up agreeing with the major arguments for not paying off the mortgage early. These points seemed solid to me:

“You have such a low interest rate.”

“You could invest and get a better rate of return on your money.”

“You have money tied up in your house and can’t get to it for a big emergency.”

“You are getting tax breaks.”

“You are hedging against inflation, especially with a fixed rate mortgage.”

Then during 2010, some things started to change in our lives and we began to rethink our strategy. After much debate, we decided to pay off the mortgage early. The reasons may surprise you because only one of them was based on a mathematical concept/equation.

Let me preface what I’m about to share by saying that we could not have paid off the mortgage early unless we had the extra money to do so. That’s seems obvious, but I think it’s an important point to make. We reached that point in our lives where all other debts were paid and the other aspects of financial planning – emergency fund, kid’s college, retirement – were being covered.

So that freed us up to throw extra money at the mortgage. We moved money to the mortgage balance from our excess monthly income, from our rental property income, from tax refunds, from investments and from any other money we could get our hands on. All in all, it was a four year journey to complete once we finally became serious about it.

Here’s why we did it.

Reasons to Be Paying Off the Mortgage Early

Reason #1: A Personal Conviction

[Read more…]

Goodbye Mortgage and Lender B.O.A. Hello Baby Step 7!

finished paying off the mortgage

My reaction to paying off the mortgage

Remember the feeling of those significant milestones in your life?

That time you moved away from home.

That day you said, “I do.”

That moment when your kids finally grew out of diapers.

That big job promotion or beginning a new career.

All of these and many more have occurred in my life and in our household. The one we experienced recently surely ranks in the top ten in matters of earthly importance.

We’ve Paid Off Our Mortgage!

Goodbye Bank of America. It’s been…uh, “nice” knowing ya. Hello Baby Step 7!

This event actually occurred in February. I walked into our local BOA and received the deer in the headlights look upon mentioning I wanted to pay off our mortgage. They appeared happy for me but I knew better. What was really running through their minds was “Rats…lost another one.”

They thought worse than that when learning I also wanted to close all my accounts. The only reason we opened a checking account there was because they purchased our mortgage from Countrywide years ago. It made it simpler to pay down our mortgage as we could transfer money to BOA from our main bank at PNC.

Uncharted Financial Waters

[Read more…]

How Landlords Can Screen Out Potentially Bad Renters

bad rentersOwning and renting property is one of the best investment strategies for building long-term wealth. Besides the money needed to purchase the property, what holds most people back is the fear of dealing with bad renters. It’s not a misguided consideration either. Take it from someone who knows – bad renters can be awful.

With that being said, in my five years of owning rental property, I’ve only had one bad renter who forced me to take legal action and pursue an eviction. I attribute that success to the process whereby I select tenants for my properties. I live by the adage that the best place to catch potentially bad renters is before they sign on the dotted line.

How to Screen Out Bad Renters

What can a landlord do to screen out a potentially bad renters? Here are six things I’m doing that may seem obvious but are often not followed.

1. Handle your emotions on a vacant property

[Read more…]

The Hidden Commodities of Real Estate Investing

The following is a guest post from Jim Driscoll, the founder and author of CriticalFinancial.com.

ID-10017132Ever looked at real estate investing as having a vested interest in a packaged commodity? Huh…a packaged commodity? How is that? Well, let’s look at real estate from a broad perspective.

Real estate is made up of an array of commodities each possessing their own intrinsic value; such as wood, concrete, petroleum products, copper, aluminum, and other building materials. The cool thing is they are packaged together into a single investment called real estate, which can be leveraged, depreciated, and purchased with borrowed money.

As if that’s not attractive enough, a fantastic tax benefit pushes real estate into the category of best investment ever’! Is there a greater investment? If there is, I haven’t found it. What other investment allows you to invest potentially 5% or less of your capital, then lets you outsource your interest payments to a tenant.

Ahhh…the utopian investment. Nope, not so fast. Being a landlord is not for everyone. Those middle of the night phone calls to fix a stopped up toilet are enough to weed out a large swath of investors.

Real estate is not liquid. Many investors want to be able to rid themselves of their investment as soon as they think it looks to be hitting a downturn. For some folks though, ‘being liquid’ only creates temptation, and we know what temptation can cause us to do in the highly intense investment game.

After my experiences of losing money through investing in Wall Street products, I have now trained my mind to think of real estate as a forced savings account.

Real Estate = A Friend to Inflation

[Read more…]

How to Be a Successful Landlord: 5 Key Areas to Focus On

If you are a frequent visitor to Luke1428 you know I have an affinity for rental real estate. I purchased my first property five years ago, mistakenly paying a bit too much for it. I didn’t know how to be a successful landlord then and let my excitement cloud my judgement.  But I simply wanted to get started – that was all I cared about.

how to be a successful landlordI’ve learned many things since then and survived my share of dark moments. You may remember my post from last fall about the nightmare I went through during my first eviction. Ending up in front of the county judge to settle that dispute was frustrating but valuable all at the same time.

Nobody should become a landlord without doing some serious reading on the subject. That will help eliminate some mistakes you could easily make. But head knowledge can only take one so far. Some things are only learned through experience.

5 Tips on How to Be a Successful Landlord

[Read more…]

5 Common Rental Real Estate Mistakes Landlords Will Make

rental real estate mistakesSo, you are ready to take the rental real estate plunge and become a landlord. Awesome! I hope that you have come to that decision by desire (you really want to do this) and not by necessity (you were forced into it because your house wouldn’t sell). One of those scenarios (hint: the first one) generally works out better than the other.

My wife and I have been renting properties for some time now and our landlord experience has been positive. I believe our success comes from a desire to run a quality business, as we never considered this to be a whimsical adventure. We spent over a year studying the idea to make sure rental real estate was right for us because we knew it has its darker side. I believe we set ourselves up for success as landlords by doing that because we went into it with our eyes wide open.

Rental Real Estate Mistakes Landlords Should Avoid

Even with all our preparation we made some mistakes with our rental real estate. Here are five big ones I want to help you avoid.

1. Paying too much for a property

[Read more…]

Our Nightmare on Rental Street: Evicting a Tenant

evicting a tenantFor over four years my wife and I have enjoyed the benefits that come with owning rental real estate. The extra income each month has allowed us to reduce the debt on our personal mortgage and help cash flow Mrs. Luke 1428’s recent grad school education and career change. Granted it has been one tough side hustle, no more so than this past spring when we were forced to maneuver through one of rental real estate’s darker sides…the process of evicting a tenant.

No one ever thinks about evicting a tenant when they sign the rental agreement. We trust our background research and intuition about the person we’ve selected to fill the property and we expect the tenant to honor their part of the rental agreement. We provide them with quality lodging…they pay us for that service. What could possible go wrong with such a simple arrangement?

Plenty. Especially when the tenant sees an opening they feel like they can take advantage of.

[Read more…]