Should You Change the Locks After Your Tenant Moves Out?

One of the biggest questions that landlords have had over the years is if they should change the locks after their tenant moves out of their rental property.

The answer to this question is yes, you should always change the locks to your rental property after your tenant moves out especially since they could have made a key while they lived there and that key could gain them entry back into the property after they’ve moved out.

Other Times You Should Change the Locks to Your Rental Property

Besides changing the locks after your tenant moves out of your rental property, you should also change the locks for the following reasons:

When a Key Is Lost

It might seem overkill to change the locks after a renter loses just one key, but it′s a small price to pay to guarantee peace of mind for the manager, the owner, and the tenant. While it′s unlikely the lost key will end up in the wrong hands, in the off chance that it does, it could spell disaster for all. When you′re dealing with prospective renters, letting them know that you take this extra security measure seriously can be a differentiator that demonstrates your commitment to safety.

When a Vendor Is Finished Working on the Property

Especially if you′ve just started using a new vendor or if you′ve had disagreements with one in the past, it′s important to recognize that vendors could have copies of your keys that you′re unaware of. When work is completed, hiring an independent locksmith to change your locks helps maintain a high degree of security. It′s also a good idea to be on-site to let vendors in and out of a building while you build a relationship with them instead of leaving a key in a lockbox and allowing all contractors to access it.

According to statistics from the FBI, 73.2 percent of all burglaries are committed on residential properties. When a tenant moves into a property, unless the locks are brand-new, it′s impossible for them to know who has made copies over the years and can access the unit at any time. Just one safety mistake has the potential to result in break-ins, theft, and, in the worst-case scenario, the irreparable loss of human life.

A great way for property managers to stay on top of security measures is by using smart home technologies, including smart locks and exterior cameras. Smart locks with access codes can log who enters a property and the time of entry, preventing landlords from having to have locks rekeyed for new tenants or vendors. Exterior cameras can record clips at unoccupied properties (as well as be an asset to tenants for self-monitored security when they move in).

Get Property Management Here

Need property management for Houston Texas or the surrounding area? Contact VestPro Residential Services by calling us at (832) 971-1841 or click here to connect with us online.

Rental Property Move Out Checklist

Move-outs are typically one thing that many landlords handle poorly because most landlords are usually in a hurry to get their property listed online and rented to a new tenant as quickly as possible.

Sadly, during the process of moving from one tenant to another, it’s possible that some landlords may miss damage caused to their rental property from their previous tenant and the opportunity to repair that damage before the next tenant moves in.

Step 1 – Do A Walkthrough

After your last tenant has moved out you should do a complete walkthrough of your rental property documenting the condition of the rental and any damage.

Questions to ask

  • Are the walls damaged or is its normal wear and tear?
  • Is anything broken in the rental?
  • Has the carpet been cleaned or is it still dirty?
  • Are the appliances functioning or will they need to be repaired/replaced?

Step 2 – Change the locks

Don’t forget to change the locks! This step is easy for some landlords to forget but it’s vital because with other copies of the key to your rental property potentially floating around out there it’s important for you to protect the safety of your new tenant by ensuring that your old tenant is unable to re-enter the rental property after they’ve moved out.

Step 3 – Research comparable rentals in the area

After taking the time to clean your rental and ensure that it’s in the absolute best condition, you should next start researching other rentals in the area to find out what you should rent your property for.

Don’t be hasty with this step! Take the time to really analyze and research comparable rental properties to determine what is the best monthly rent you should ask for your rental property.

Get Property Management Here

For professional property management in the Houston Texas area contact Vestpro Residential Services by calling us at (832) 971-1841 or click here to connect with us online.

Tenant Background Checks – Learn More About the Best Online Resources

If you’re just getting started with owning your first rental properties in the Houston area you may be tempted to go with your gut and rent to someone because you have a good feeling about them.

This is a mistake that many landlords and owners make because they want to rent their properties quickly and not do their due diligence with doing a thorough background check on a prospective tenant.

Thankfully, there are a variety of online resources you can use for tenant background checks that will make your life easier and provide you with an accurate background check on your prospective tenant.

Where to Get A Background Check Online

  • RentPrep
  • SmartMove
  • Experian Connect
  • Lease Runner
  • Cozy
  • Screening Works
  • Tenant Alert
  • Buildium
  • E-renter
  • tenatify
  • MyRental

How Much Do Background Checks Cost?

A typical background check will cost about $19.95 and it’s going to provide you with a breakdown of your potential tenant’s life/history including their FICO score, address history and more!

You never want to neglect a background check because you could be found liable if a crime was committed by your tenant at your rental property.

You should also think about the neighbors in the area and have a background check done solely to ensure their safety and security since you don’t want to bring in someone who could potentially be a danger to other people living nearby.

Get Property Management Here

Don’t want to conduct background checks yourself? No problem!

Contact Vestpro Residential Services today. We’re the most experienced property management team in the Houston area and you can count on us to manage your rental property with the most care.

To get started with property management contact us at (832) 971-1841 or click here to connect with us online.

Trying to Buy More Single-Family Rentals? Here’s What Could Kill the Deal

Are you thinking about adding more single-family rentals to your portfolio of rental properties? If so, you’re making a smart choice!

Even though you may currently own one or more single-family homes, the reality is that you can easily kill a home purchase deal by making one or more of the following mistakes.

  1. Lack of preparedness

Many property managers look at their business as a revenue source, but according to Propst, it’s so much more. He recommends viewing your business as an asset that can increase in value and consider how you want it to evolve down the road. By beginning with the end in mind and setting up goals to grow your business, you can make it more marketable when it’s time to sell.

  1. Poor financial management

In an acquisition, financials can be difficult to get your arms around and verify. Are the earnings you post on your financials what you are actually earning? Propst says it’s important to ensure the customer’s, tenant’s and business owner’s books are all reconciled. Both the buyer and seller need to understand that the numbers put into the system are accurate. If you reconcile your books on a monthly basis, life is much easier when it comes time to sell your business and investing in a certified audit may be a good idea.

  1. Lack of documented processes

When you acquire a company, you also acquire its processes. Propst recommends analyzing these processes so you can best leverage strengths and tweak areas that need improvement. From there, integrate the processes into your business as a whole. Use technology to document all processes, such as business procedures and communications with owners and tenants.

Key performance indicators (KPIs) are important for anyone who is building their business and eventually wants to sell. Consider what is driving dollars and bottom line and focus on these areas. Instead of trying to do it all, set a few KPIs that help you reach your goal and place your efforts there.

What does Andy recommend to document processes? Tools like Traxion or even simply Microsoft Word.

  1. Poor data management

Do you have streamlined property management data? According to Propst, businesses should establish clear policies and procedures for how data is entered so it can be easily accessed and interpreted across the board. When managing multiple platforms (such as a tenant portal and owner portal), you need to establish data standards so you and your team can consistently enter data in the same way and avoid confusion (e.g.- “TX” instead of “Texas.”)

  1. Not knowing your worth

Do you know the value of your business? Property managers who begin with the end in mind by setting clear goals, along with mission and vision statements, are better equipped for long-term success. Be proactive in planning and focus primarily on initiatives that drive revenue for your business. Propst says that “Stepping away from the day-to-day of your business to create a game plan is an investment that will pay tenfold.” Making time to establish, review and adjust your goals is essential to understanding the true value of your business.

Get Property Management Here

For professional property management in the Houston Texas area contact Vestpro Residential Services at (832) 971-1841 or click here to connect with us online.

Traditional and Creative Ways You Can Finance Your First Houston Rental Property

By Vestpro Residential Services

Are you planning on buying your first rental property in the Houston TX area? If so, as a first-time investor you’re probably wondering how you’re going to purchase that rental property especially if you already have a primary residence and other financial obligations.

Thankfully, you have options available that will help you get that rental property sooner than you think.

Get A Traditional Mortgage Loan

The first and obvious way you can finance the purchase of a rental property in the Houston TX area is to get a traditional mortgage loan and use the equity from your primary residence towards the purchase of that rental property.

Most new investors with good credit will go this route because it’s the obvious way of using the equity that you already have in your home and making it work for you.

Here are some more options to consider for buying a rental property:

Seller Financing

This involves getting a loan from the person you’re buying the property from. In some cases, if the seller is willing to lend you money, it’s easier (read: less paperwork) than getting a loan from a bank.

I’ve seen these deals work in a number of scenarios: The seller might finance either the down payment or the full purchase price. The seller might be another property investor — or they might be the property’s live-in owner.

The key to success is to ensure you agree on a fair interest rate for the loan. If you don’t have much experience in this area, it may be wise to work with your CPA and/or attorney. And regardless of how much experience you have, be sure to get the terms of the loan in writing, with signatures.

Partnerships

Another great financing option is to partner with someone who has enough money for a down payment. This is an effective strategy if you have a friend or family member who’s interested in getting involved in property investment, but maybe isn’t as interested in the day-to-day work of screening tenants and collecting rent payments.

In this scenario, what often happens is that one partner puts up money and the other handles all the actual work of being a landlord.

The key to success here is to agree on how to split proceeds. I recommend thinking about it in terms of aligning the risk and reward with costs and benefits. Your partner is taking on all the financial risk, but you’re putting in all the legwork of bringing in revenue via rent. Make sure the way you split proceeds reflects your contributions.

Whatever you decide makes sense, it’s best to have your terms in writing. Services like LegalZoom and Rocket Lawyer can help with drafting basic legal docs if you don’t have an attorney. (Full disclosure: Rocket Lawyer is a partner of ours.) Another strategy we find effective is to form an LLC, which requires you to put together an operating agreement. That document is a great place to lay out roles and responsibilities for all parties.

Government Programs

The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) was founded to encourage homeownership. One of the ways it does that is by offering homebuyers the chance to buy property with just 3.5% down.

While FHA loans are specifically designed to facilitate the purchase of owner-occupied homes, it’s completely allowable to buy a two-, three- or four-unit building, live in one unit, and earn rental income from the others. In fact, this can be an incredibly cost-effective way to finance a rental property, especially if it’s your first.

FHA loan limits are different in every county, so part of the art here is making sure the loan limit where you want to buy is high enough that you can purchase a multi-unit property.

Get Property Management in The Houston Area

Once you own your first rental property in the Houston area don’t waste time managing it yourself, let Vestpro Residential Services manage it for you. To learn more about our services contact us at (832) 971-1841 or click here to connect with us online.

What Are the Perks That Come from Working with A Humble Texas Property Management Company?

By Vestpro Residential Services

Everyone invests in a rental property for the obvious perks like more cash flow that comes from this type of investment but what about the perks that come from working with a Humble Texas Property Management company?

In this article, we will list those perks so you can feel confident in your decision to hire a property manager to professionally manage your rental properties in Humble Texas, Kingwood, Atascocita or the surrounding area.

The Perks of Working with A Property Management Company

Perk 1 – You Will No Longer Have to Collect Rent

Let’s face it, even though you enjoy positive cash flow from your rental property, you don’t like collecting rent when tenants are late paying it. Right?

With a Humble Texas Property Management company like Vestpro Residential Services, you can count on us to collect the rent from your tenants, especially when they are late paying it so you no longer have to deal with their excuses for why they can’t pay their rent on time again.

Perk 2 – Customer Service

Another HUGE perk that comes from working with a property management company is customer service. You can count on us to provide your tenants with excellent service 24-7 so you will no longer have to concern yourself with taking calls from your tenants at all hours of the day or night again.

Perk 3 – Maintenance

From weed eating that field behind your rental, pulling toilets or doing small plumbing repairs, all of those things that time, right? Thankfully, one of the best perks that comes from working with our Humble Texas Property Management company is that you will never have to perform maintenance on your rental property again because we will handle it all for you.

Get Property Management Here

Started by Mike and Kim Buish, Vestpro Residential Services is a Humble Texas property management company specializing in residential property management for Humble, Kingwood, Atascocita and the surrounding area.

Whether you are a property owner or a prospective tenant, Vestpro has the expertise to handle your property management needs.

For professional Humble Texas Property Management contact Vestpro Residential Services by calling us at (832) 971-1841 or click here to connect with us online.

Planning on Buying Apartments? Choose The Houston Texas Rental Market

By Vestpro Residential Services

There’s no doubt that apartments or multi-family rental properties make excellent rentals because more doors equals more money for landlords. If you’re thinking about adding apartments to your portfolio or rental properties there no better place than the Houston Texas rental market.

Houston is in the midst of an apartment boom. A just-released, national report suggests that boom may not slow anytime soon, as it lists Houston as a top buy for apartment investors — and an area that will see rising rents in the foreseeable future.

Ten-X Commercial, an online platform for commercial real estate transactions, also identified Fort Worth as a city that commercial investors should target in its annual U.S. Apartment Market Outlook. Only three other American cities are considered strong buys for apartment investors: Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina; Charlotte, North Carolina; and Salt Lake City, Utah. The data in the report is generated from the more than $20 billion worth of transactions handled by Ten-X Commercial.

In analyzing the two Texas cities, Ten-X Commercial finds that both offer strong net operating income benefits (a key driver in commercial real estate) to investors for years to come. Houston’s apartment rents are buoyed by a “resurgent energy sector” that is “turbocharging the local economy” and jumped 6.1 percent year-over-year. The report also forecasts that Houston is “likely to prove considerably more resilient during a modeled downturn than other markets.”

A quick breakdown of the numbers illustrates good news for anyone looking to cash in on Houston’s apartment market.

  • Q1 2018 rent: $987
  • 2021 projected rent: $1,184
  • Q1 2018 vacancy: 6.2 percent
  • 2021 projected vacancy: 4.4 percent

Things look equally promising in Fort Worth, which the report notes is enjoying “low unemployment and solid job growth, with total employment up 3.1 percent year-over-year.” Apartment rents in the city are projected to leap to 12.3 percent higher by 2021. Fort Worth’s breakdown shows good news for investors and landlords, bad news for renters.

  • Q1 2018 rent: $907
  • 2021 projected rent: $1,018
  • Q1 2018 vacancy: 3.7 percent
  • 2021 projected vacancy: 4.4 percent

With every top buy report comes a warning to sell. Cities where investors should consider unloading are New York; Miami; San Francisco; Oakland, California; and San Jose, California. These markets are witnessing rising vacancies and flattening rents.

But how much is too much growth? Nationally, according to the research, multifamily completions should reach an all-time peak in 2018 as more than 300,000 new units flood the market, outpacing even the highest absorption levels in recent history. As a result, vacancies are expected to drift above 5 percent by the end of the year for the first time since 2011.

Ten-X Chief Economist Peter Muoio noted in the report that “while millennials and other demographic groups continue to forego homeownership in favor of renting in walkable neighborhoods, developers appear to have gotten ahead of themselves in creating rental supply.”

Get Property Management in Houston TX

For property management in the Houston Texas area contact Vestpro Residential Services by calling us at (832) 971-1841 or click here to connect with us online.

How To Buy Rental Property In A New Market

Are you planning on buying rental property in the Houston Texas area for the first time but you’ve never purchased property or lived here before? If so, you’ve come to the right place!

The Houston TX area is a great place to buy rental properties because there’s been tremendous growth here over the last six months that’s why in this article we will share with you the things that you should be searching for in an investment property in a new market.

Here’s What You Should Look For

  1. Job Growth Compared To Vacancy

We look deeply at the job growth of an area and compare those figures to the local vacancy rates. When you can find an area that is growing without an oversupply of rental homes, it is in most cases a good indication of not only fewer days on market, but also potential rental rate escalators. – Mike Tamulevich, Marketplace Homes

  1. Standard Local Market Demographics

When we get an investment financing request in a new market, the three local market demographics we focus on are appreciating versus depreciating neighborhoods, school ratings and crime ratings. While we also look at household median income and access to jobs, those factors can be harder to compare from one market to another. School rankings and crime rates are easier to compare on a national basis. – Beth O’Brien, CoreVest Finance

  1. Economic And Population Growth

An area that is growing economically, in population or even just in demand as a destination will offer far better chances for appreciation. The fastest appreciating areas are those that have been recently “discovered,” that many people now desire and often where there is a backlash against further growth. “Nimbyism” has a lot of downsides, but price appreciation is not one of them. – Sean O’ToolePropertyRadar

  1. Major Retail Trends

A few of the indicators I look at are what retailers are existing and what new ones are coming to the market. If it’s a new development, I validate with the actual retailer to make sure they are coming. Do your homework. Another great resource is the local building department, where you can learn what stage a development is in and if they have actually submitted their plans. – Jill Szymanski, Bar Louie

  1. State Of Infrastructure

The infrastructure should be strong enough to support the market. For example, how’s the access in and out of the market, what kinds of schools are located nearby, is there additional transit, are there growing companies, are there amenities, etc. If these are all relatively strong, then this is a market that should continue to be attractive because it has good “bones.” – Vinny DiMeglio, colliers.com

  1. Metro Rail Development

Look for metro rail development in a given city to see what infrastructure commitments have been made. Find the stations/stops. Fan out and have fun. Look for properties where the density has been increased and which cleared the major regulatory requisites. Ride the rails — as long as they lead somewhere. – Michael J. Polk, Polk Properties

  1. Absorption Rate, DOM, Median Sales Price

On specific areas, I recommend my investors look at the absorption rate (the number of months of inventory) versus the days on market (DOM) versus the median sales price. These three factors are what I call “health of the market” indicators. If the number of months of inventory over the past couple of years appears to be changing and minimally impacting the other two, then the market is healthy. – Michelle Ames, HorsePower Team Texas/Independent Realty

  1. Rent Trends

In a new market, the investor should look at rent trends. The best check is a recently purchased property that is being renovated. Find out what the rents were at the time of sale (if the property was marketed, ask the broker for the offering memorandum — it will most likely have a rent roll). Then check to see what rents are being advertised now. 

Get Property Management In The Houston Texas Area

At Vestpro Residential Services we serve Houston and the surrounding areas including Liberty, Dayton, Humble and Atascocita. To learn more about our services contact us at (832) 971-1841 or click here to connect with us online.

Property Management News – Over 5 Million Have Lost Money Due to Rental Scams

By Vestpro Residential Services

If you’re searching for a rental property in the Houston TX area it’s likely that you may have seen at least one ad online that’s a rental scam.

The way these scams typically work is it all starts with an ad that was supposedly written by an owner who lives out of state.

Once you contact the owner, they will tell you to go check out the property for yourself and then contact them via email if you’re interested in renting it or not.

If you like the house, the owner will ask you to send them a payment online or a money order in exchange for keys but when most people send their payment the “owner” never sends the keys and the person who falls for the scam finds out that the rental is in fact earned by someone else.

Half of Young Renters Have Fallen for Rental Scams

The three-bedroom home on Lexington Court in Largo, Fla., 20 miles north of St. Petersburg, looked like the perfect family home, with a nice front yard, central cooling and laminate floors. For 18 families, it turned it was too good to be true — and at a serious cost.

A married couple, Nicole and David Johnson, allegedly posed as the owners of the rental property, giving tours and collecting more than $25,000 from those families, local television news station WFTS reported in late June.

The home, it turned out, belonged to Nicole Johnson’s parents and was not available for rent. The Johnsons targeted the families using social media and by posting to Craigslist. Local police have called it the largest rental scam they’ve ever seen. Many of the victims only realized that the listing was a fraud when they showed up to the property on the same day and notified police.

Some of those families were moving to Florida from out of state, and many have had to resort to GoFundMe campaigns in an effort to recoup their losses, according to WFTS. The scammers are believed to have fled the state.

Get Property Management in Houston Texas

For property management in the Houston Texas area contact Vestpro Residential Services at (832) 971-1841 or click here to connect with us online.

Single Family Tenant Retention Tips

By VestPro Residential Services

Do you have one or more families living in your single family rental properties? If so, you’ve come to the right place!

In this article we will share with you single family tenant retention tips.

Single Family Tenant Retention Tips

Offer Your Tenants More Incentives To Renew Their Leases:

Everyone loves perks, ѕо оffеr tеnаntѕ something ѕресіаl to сеlеbrаtе rеnеwаlѕ. Suсh incentives dоn’t hаvе tо соmе аt the еxреnѕе оf уоur company. Cоnѕіdеr gifting uрgrаdеѕ thаt аlѕо bеnеfіt a hоmе’ѕ value. Flооrіng improvements, a оnе-tіmе cleaning service, lawn services, frеѕh wall paint аnd new аррlіаnсеѕ аrе all іnсеntіvеѕ that can еxсіtе tenants аnd еnhаnсе a rеntаl.

Fоr a more реrѕоnаl touch, аlіgn іnсеntіvеѕ wіth tenant іntеrеѕtѕ. Dо уоur rеntеrѕ hаvе сhіldrеn? Amuѕеmеnt раrk ѕеаѕоn раѕѕеѕ оr mоvіе theater gіft саrdѕ can bе wеlсоmеd gіftѕ thаt hеlр tenants feel appreciated. Dо уоur renters work аrоund the clock? Coffee ѕhор vоuсhеrѕ or a nеw tablet соmрutеr саn rеѕоnаtе with thе nееdѕ of оn-thе-gо tеnаntѕ.

Ongоіng incentives саn bе a рrоасtіvе аnd еԛuаllу іnfluеntіаl tool. Partner wіth a variety оf nearby buѕіnеѕѕеѕ to оffеr rеgulаr аnd ѕіgnіfісаnt discounts.

Create A Sense Of Community For Your Tenants:

Even single fаmіlу rentals саn foster a sense of соmmunіtу. A strong rеlаtіоnѕhір bеtwееn a rеntеr аnd their рrореrtу management соmраnу hаѕ thе роwеr tо make thе renewal process quick аnd seamless.

Hеlріng your tenant feel аt hоmе bеgіnѕ аnd еndѕ wіth engagement. Communicate іnfоrmаtіоn еffісіеntlу and thrоugh a tеnаnt’ѕ рrеfеrrеd сhаnnеlѕ. Whеn a tеnаnt initiates a dіаlоguе, rеѕроnd іn a timely mаnnеr tо hеlр thеm fееl hеаrd. Quісk аnd mеаnіngful responses are аn еаѕу way tо buіld trust.

An established mаіntеnаnсе сrеw саn аlѕо соntrіbutе tо building rереrtоіrе wіth tеnаntѕ. Consider fеаturіng уоur mаіntеnаnсе team оn the property wеbѕіtе, or having a mаіntеnаnсе еmрlоуее оnѕіtе during mоvе-іnѕ.

Get Property Management Here

For professional property management in Humble, Kingwood, Dayton or the surrounding area contact Vestpro Residential Services at (832) 971-1841 or click here to connect with us online.