What tax impact will disasters have for Houston rental property owners?

Once it’s finished, 2017 will be remembered as one of the toughest years in recent memory especially thanks to Hurricane Harvey which formed on August 17th, carving a path of destruction in Houston and along the Gulf Coast until it dissipated on September 3rd.

What Tax Impact Will Natural Disasters Have For Property Owners In Houston?

When a major disaster occurs, the IRS normally tries to help the victims out by extending tax deadlines. After all, no one wants to have to worry about making tax payments or filing returns while their property is underwater or destroyed by a fire. For example, victims of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria will not be required to make most types of tax payments and filings until January 31, 2018.

The IRS automatically identifies taxpayers located in a covered disaster area and applies the extended deadlines. Thus, to benefit from the extended deadlines, your rental property simply has to be located in a federally declared major disaster area. There is no need to ask the IRS for a deadline extension. You can determine if an area has been declared a disaster area by checking the FEMA website.

Deducting Losses from a Disaster

Insurance is always the first line of financial defense when disasters occur. However, not all rental properties are fully covered for losses due to natural disasters. Some types of losses may not be covered at all. For example, losses due to floods, hurricanes, and earthquakes may not be covered unless the property owner has obtained a supplemental policy. Even if a loss is covered, the property owner may still have to pay for part of the cost of repairing or replacing the rental property.

Fortunately, any uninsured casualty losses are deductible by rental property owners, subject to certain limitations. A “casualty” is damage, destruction, or loss of property due to an event that is sudden, unexpected, or unusual. Deductible casualty losses can result from many different causes, including (but not limited to):

  • Earthquakes
  • Fires
  • Floods
  • Government-ordered demolition or relocation of a building that is unsafe to use because of a disaster
  • Landslides
  • Sonic booms
  • Storms, including hurricanes and tornadoes
  • Terrorist attacks
  • Vandalism, including vandalism to rental properties by tenants
  • Volcanic eruptions

One thing that all of the events in the above list have in common is that they are sudden—they happen quickly. Suddenness is the hallmark of a casualty loss. Thus, loss of property due to slow, progressive deterioration is not deductible as a casualty loss. For example, the steady weakening or deterioration of a rental building due to normal wind and weather conditions is not a deductible casualty loss.

The Role of Insurance After a Disaster

A rental property owner may take a deduction for casualty losses only to the extent that the loss is not covered by insurance. If the loss is fully covered, there is no deduction. A property owner can’t avoid this rule by not filing an insurance claim. Indeed, a timely insurance claim must be filed, even if it will result in cancellation of the property owner’s policy or an increase in premiums.

The amount of the claimed casualty loss must be reduced by any insurance recovery received, or reasonably expected to be received if it hasn’t yet been paid. If it later turns out that the property owner receives less insurance than expected, the owner can deduct the amount the following year. If the owner receives more insurance payments than expected, the extra amount is included as income for the year in which it is received.

Amount of Casualty Loss Deduction

How much a rental property owner may deduct depends on whether the property was completely or partially destroyed.

If the property is completely destroyed (or stolen), the deduction is calculated as follows:

Adjusted basis – salvage value– insurance proceeds = Deductible loss

Adjusted basis is the property’s original cost, plus the value of any improvements, minus any deductions taken for depreciation or Section 179 expensing. The adjusted basis for rental buildings, land improvements, and landscaping are each determined separately. Adjusted basis should be easily found from a rental property’s depreciation schedules and/or tax returns filed for the property. Salvage value is the value of whatever remains after the property 
is destroyed; in cases of total destruction, this is often nothing.

If the rental property is not completely destroyed, the amount of the casualty loss is the lesser of 1. The property’s adjusted basis or 2. The decrease in the fair market value of the property due to the casualty, minus any salvage value and insurance proceeds.

An appraisal can be used to determine the reduction in fair market value of partly damaged property, as well as salvage value. Alternatively, the cost of cleaning up or making repairs after a casualty can be used as a measure of the decrease in fair market value if all of the following conditions are met:

  • The repairs are actually made
  • The repairs are necessary to bring the property back to the condition it was in before the casualty
  • The amount spent for repairs is not excessive
  • 
The repairs are for the damage only
  • 
The value of the property after the repairs is not greater than its value before the casualty

The amount of a casualty loss to rental property must be calculated separately for each item that is damaged or destroyed. This may include a rental building, landscaping, and other land improvements apart from the building. However, it is not necessary to separately deduct personal items inside a rental property, such as appliances.

Example of Casualty Losses

John’s rental building suffered wind damage due to a hurricane. The hurricane not only damaged the building, but damaged his landscaping—trees and shrubs—as well. John must separately calculate his casualty loss for the building and
 the landscaping. The adjusted basis of the building is $566,000. The trees and shrubs have an adjusted basis of $10,000. John hires an appraiser who determines that the fair market value of the building immediately before the hurricane was $700,000, and was $650,000 immediately afterwards. The fair market value of the trees and shrubs immediately before the casualty was $4000, and afterwards was $500. John’s insurance did not cover hurricane wind damage, so he expects to receive no insurance proceeds.

John calculates his casualty loss for the building as follows:

  • Adjusted basis of rental building before hurricane: $566,000
  • Fair market value before hurricane: $700,000
  • Fair market value after hurricane: 
$650,000
  • Decrease in fair market value: $50,000
  • Amount of loss (line 1 or line 4, whichever is less): $50,000
  • Insurance reimbursement: 
0
  • Deductible casualty loss = $50,000

John separately calculates his loss for the landscaping as follows:

  • Adjusted basis of landscaping before hurricane: $10,000
  • Fair market value before hurricane: $4,000
  • Fair market value after hurricane: 
$500
  • Decrease in fair market value: $3,500
  • Amount of loss (line 1 or line 4, whichever is less): $3,500
  • Insurance reimbursement: 0
  • Deductible casualty loss 
= $3,500

Deducting Losses in Federal Disaster Areas from Prior Year Taxes

Casualty losses are generally deductible in the year in which the casualty occurs. However, if a deductible casualty loss occurs in an area that is declared a federal disaster by the president, the property owner may elect to deduct the loss for the previous year. This will provide a quick tax refund, since the owner will get back part of the tax paid for the prior year. If the owner already filed the tax return for the prior year, an amended return for the year must be filed.

Casualty Gains

It’s quite common for a rental property owner to have a casualty gain rather than a loss. This occurs when the insurance reimbursement an owner receives exceeds the adjusted basis of a property that has been completely destroyed.

Example of Casualty Gains: Part 1

Sheila owns a rental building with a fair market value of $500,000. After years of depreciation deductions, its adjusted basis is $250,000. The building is totally destroyed in a fire. Sheila receives $480,000 in insurance proceeds. She has a $230,000 casualty gain.

A casualty gain is taxable income. However, the property owner need not pay tax on the gain the year it is received if the owner replaces the destroyed property and the cost exceeds the insurance recovery. Instead, the gain is postponed until the replacement property is ultimately sold or otherwise disposed of. The basis of the replacement property is reduced by the amount of this postponed gain.

To qualify as replacement property, the new property must be similar or related in service or use to the property it replaces. However, the rules are more liberal if the destroyed property was located in a federally declared disaster area. In this event, any replacement property acquired for use in any business is treated as replacement property. Moreover, the replacement property doesn’t have to be located in the federally declared disaster area.

To avoid paying tax on a casualty gain, the property must replaced within two years after the close of the first tax year in which insurance proceeds are received. However, if the property is located in a federally declared disaster are, this period is increased to four years.

The property owner doesn’t have to use the insurance proceeds to acquire the replacement property. Rather, the owner has the option of spending the money they receive from the insurance company for other purposes, and borrowing money to buy replacement property.

Example of Casualty Gains: Part 2

Assume that Sheila uses her $480,000 insurance proceeds to construct a new rental building. The new building cost $600,000. Sheila need not pay any tax on her $230,000 casualty gain since she reinvested her entire gain in replacement property. However, the basis of the new building is reduced by $230,000 to $370,000. This way, tax on the gain will have to be paid when Sheila ultimately disposes of the replacement property.

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Will Your Rental Make More Money With A Laundry Room?

Thinking about building a laundry room at your rental property? Yes, it’s true that laundry rooms are a good investment to make but before you spend the money it’s important to ask yourself these questions.

Question #1 – Will My Tenants Actually Use This Laundry Facility?

The very first thing you should do before building a laundry room on site at your four-plex, or multi-family unit, is to speak with each of your tenants personally and find out if they would be open to using a laundry room if there was one on site.

You should also ask your tenants where they do their laundry now, and how much they are paying per load, so you have a better idea of what local laundromats are charging in the area.

Question #2 – How Many Washers and Dryers Will I Need?

To avoid overspending on washers, dryers, and other hardware, you should consider starting small and maybe buying two washers and dryers first.

Also another thing you can do to make adding more washers and dryers in the future easy is to add additional outlets and plumbing to your laundry room when it’s under construction.

Question #3 – What Will Your Laundry Room Hours Be?

As with any laundromat in Houston Texas Rental Property it’s important to have set hours for the laundry room in your Houston Texas Rental Property that way people know when they can use it. This will help to keep noise at a minimum in the evening and insure that all tenants respect the laundry facility.

Houston Texas Rental Property Management

For more tips on improvements you can make to your Houston Texas Rental Property, or to speak with us about our property management services, contact Vestpro Residential Services by clicking here, or calling us at (832) 971-1841

Is Your Rental Scaring Away Renters? Click Here!

Have you put a lot of time, money and energy into your rental property only to find that it’s still not renting and you can’t figure out why?

Your Curb Appeal Is Scary

Take a look at the curb appeal for your Rental and think like a potential renter.

Are there overgrown trees or bushes?

Does the grass look like it hasn’t been mowed since last year?

If you answered yes to either of these questions it’s time to do a property clean up and do your part to improve the curb appeal of your rental property.

The Inside of Your Rental Property Is Scary

When was the last time that you spent 10 minutes inside your rental?

Does it have plenty of light inside? If not, lack of light can be sending potential renters away since light always helps to make the inside of a rental look brighter and cheery.

Consider improving the lighting in each room and also painting the rooms of your rental bright colors like yellow or green since bright colors will bring light to any room regardless if the room gets a lot of natural light or not.

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Tips for Getting Your Rental Property Ready for Fall Weather

Fall 2017 is officially here and with it comes a change in weather! If your rental property isn’t ready for the change in weather it could be left unprotected. Thankfully, you can get ready for fall weather simply by following the tips in this article.

Do end-of-season yard maintenance.This doesn’t just include raking the leaves (although that’s important, too!). It also means trimming the hedges, fertilizing the grass, trimming unwieldy branches, and removing any weeds or roots that may impact siding, patios, and walkways.

Pack up and store outdoor items.It may seem a little premature to do now–but if the recent spate of hurricanes is any indication of what the rest of this season will look like, it’s a good idea to start now. Clean, pack up, and store outdoor furniture, grills, and other items that could be damaged by late fall or winter weather. If your property is located in a hurricane-prone area, be sure to tie down any large items that could wash or blow away.

Drain water lines.If your property is located in a cold-weather climate, now is a good time to turn off the water leading to outdoor spigots. Turn off sprinkler systems and drain outdoor hoses to prevent water from freezing and bursting the lines.

Clear debris from gutters.One of the best things about fall is watching leaves transform into beautiful shades of red, orange, and yellow. But it only lasts for so long–and then those leaves fall, clogging gutters in the process. Be sure to clear all debris from rain gutters to prevent water from pooling–or worse, causing roof damage.

Inspect the roof.Climbing up a ladder and getting onto the roof is not for the faint of heart, but it’s a worthwhile exercise to ensure that the roof is in good condition when you’re heading into the winter months. Loose or missing shingles are easier to replace during the fall. Otherwise, you could face costly roof repairs caused by hail, sleet, and snow.

Seal windows and install storm doors.Aging seams and weather stripping around windows and doors often lets cold air in and warm air out. This drives up heating costs, which can add up for landlords and HOAs that pay for heat as part of their fees. Seal drafty windows and doors with caulk, install new windows if necessary, and swap out screens with storm doors and windows.

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What are the main reasons you should invest in Houston Real Estate?

Have you been thinking about investing in Houston Real Estate but you’re not sure if now is the right time for you to invest or not?

Now is a great time to invest in Real Estate especially for these reasons:

Reason #1 – Demand

Thanks to a recent study by the Harvard University Joint Center for Housing Studies and their 2015 State of the Nation’s Housing Report we know that demand has been one of the primary factors which has been driving the Real Estate market during 2015.

There’s been huge demand for rental properties and an even bigger demand for homes for sale thanks to historically low mortgage interest rates which has brought out the first time home buyer, and casual investor, in search of Houston Texas Real Estate and homes nationwide.

Reason #2 – Mortgage Interest Rates Will Increase

Many economists predict that Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen will be increasing mortgage interest rates gradually in the coming months and these increases can mean the difference between paying less money now for a mortgage payment, or more if you buy a home in the future.

Reason #3 – Home Ownership Has Dropped While Renting Has Increased

Last of all, but most important, you should invest in Houston Texas Real Estate is because of the fact that renting has increased across the United States while the actual homeownership rate has decreased.

With a greater demand for rentals nationwide especially among Millennials and Baby Boomers it makes sense to invest in Real Estate because that demand isn’t expected to change in the coming years.

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To get started with investing in Houston Real Estate contact Vestpro Residential Services, LLC today by calling us at (832) 498-0016 or CLICK HERE to connect with us online.

Houston Real Estate

Houston Texas Rental Market – Reasons to Have Renters Insurance

By Vestpro Residential Services

HOUSTON, TX. – Do you own rentals on the Houston Texas Rental Market? If so, there’s no denying that Hurricane Harvey was one of the worst natural disasters that we’ve ever seen and a prime example of why your tenants should have renter’s insurance.

How Should Houston Renters Get Started With Renters Insurance?

Thankfully it’s very easy to get started with renter’s insurance thanks to the Internet, any Houston renter can search online and get quotes for a renter’s insurance policy in as little as 10 minutes.

A typical renter’s insurance policy will cost a renter about $30 per month and the average deductible will be about $500.

Property owners in Houston should require their tenants to have renter’s insurance because, not only does the renters insurance policy protect the tenant if their personal belongings are damaged or destroyed due to fire or some other act of God, the renter’s insurance policy also acts as a liability policy by protecting the tenant if one of their guests is injured and needs medical attention while they are in the tenant’s rental property.

Besides covering the medical costs and expenses, the renter’s insurance policy will also cover the tenant’s legal costs as well.

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

Houston Texas Rental Market

Simple Tips For Keeping More Renters

There’s no doubt that owning rental properties is a great way to generate long term cash flow and wealth but the reality is that if you’re consistently losing renters every year, instead of having long term renters, you may be dealing with more stress and loss of revenue than you should.

In this article we will show you how to finally break the cycle of losing renters every year and keep long term renters in your rental properties.

Tip 1 – Update Your Rentals

Most renters these days want to know that their landlords actually care about them, and are not just renting to get their money.

You can keep your Humble Texas Renters happy by updating your rental units.

Consider painting the inside and outside of your Humble Texas Rental Properties, replacing bathroom and kitchen sinks, improving curb appeal and adding more lighting outside.

Tip 2 – Make It Easier For Tenants to Contact You

Offer your Humble Texas Renters more ways to contact you including by your mobile phone or email.

Most renters won’t be calling, texting or emailing you 24-7, but they will like to have the confidence in knowing they can reach you should they have a question, concern or problem which needs to be resolved.

It’s also important to consider offering your tenants the ability to pay their rents online via your website or a 3rd party payment platform so you can speed up the process of getting paid and won’t have to deal with the age old problem of collecting checks from your tenants.

Tip 3 – Offer Perks For Tenants Who Renew Their Leases

Last of all, you should consider offering perks to tenants who are considering renewing their leases.

Some perks to consider offering are: 3-6 month gym memberships, restaurant gift cards, basic satellite TV or Wi-Fi for 6 months or free rent for one month.

At Vestpro we know that sometimes you don’t have the time or energy to focus on keeping your tenants satisfied and that’s where we come in.

With our full suite of rental services we can help you run an efficient property management business.

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For professional property management contact Vestpro Residential Services by calling us at (832) 972-1841 or click here to connect with us online.

 

How are renters finding your rental property?

How are prospective tenants or renters finding your rental property? Are they searching offline, online or a combination of both?

If prospective tenants and renters are finding your property online that’s awesome but are you getting the most ROI from your online advertising results? Before moving forward with advertising another property online take the time to review your online marketing plan and make sure you’re using the following websites and resources. 

Har.com

Over the last 5 years www.har.com has quickly developed into the best resource for renters to find great homes and properties for rent across the Houston area and it’s also a great website for property owners to get the most qualified rental leads as well.

Zillow

Although it’s a great resource for finding homes for sale in Houston, and across the United States, Zillow is also an excellent tool for searching for rental property as well since Zillow will save your search and email you new listings on a regular basis which will match your search criteria.

Local Connections

When people are not searching for homes, condos or townhomes online, they are searching for rental properties by asking their own personal connections if they know anyone who may know of rental properties available in their target areas.

This tip is also a good reminder of the reason why you should consider asking your current tenants if they know of anyone who may be searching for a rental property since you stand a good chance of renting to someone like your current tenants especially if they have a similar character and attitude.

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For professional property management contact RPM Central Valley today by calling us at (832) 498-0016 or click here to contact us through our website.

 

Other People’s Money – Learn more about how this Real Estate investing principle works

Consider the goal of funding a child’s college education in the future. If “other people’s money” in the form of a scholarship is not a possibility, there still may be another way to use some “other people’s money.”

The Power Of Other People’s Money

A $25,000 investment into a mutual fund paying 5% would earn $1,250 in the first year. Alternatively, the $25,000 as a 20% down payment to purchase a $125,000 rental home appreciating 3% a year would have gone up by $3,750 or three times that of the mutual fund in the first year.

The mutual fund’s growth depends on the value of the money invested. Rental real estate benefits because a 20% down payment controls a much larger asset because you’re using “other people’s money.” Leverage allows the investor to profit not only from the amount of cash invested but from the value of the investment.

How Other People’s Money Pays Off 

With a 20% down payment and current interest rates, a typical rental would have a positive cash flow. In ten years, the equity could be $75,000. On the other hand, the $25,000 initial investment in a mutual fund earning 5% annually would only grow to about $40,000 in the same 10 years. It would require an additional $2,700 each year to reach the same $75,000 value.

Leverage is just one of the many benefits that make rental real estate the IDEAL investment. Whether you are saving for higher education, retirement or wealth accumulation, consider rental real estate. Using single-family homes as investments are attractive because homeowners have a better understanding than many other investments and self-management is a possibility.

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For professional property management contact Vestpro Residential Services by calling us at (832) 498-0016 or click here to connect with us online.

Property Management Tips – How To Keep More Tenants

Searching for property management tips? If so, you’ve come to the right place! In this article we will offer you several tips that you can use for keeping tenants happy because a happy tenant will be someone who wants to renew their lease each year instead of searching for another rental property.

 

Tip 1 – Update Your Rentals

Most renters these days want to know that their landlords actually care about them, and are not just renting to get their money.

You can keep your Humble Texas Renters happy by updating your rental units.

Consider painting the inside and outside of your Humble Texas Rental Properties, replacing bathroom and kitchen sinks, improving curb appeal and adding more lighting outside.

Tip 2 – Make It Easier For Tenants to Contact You

Offer your Humble Texas Renters more ways to contact you including by your mobile phone or email.

Most renters won’t be calling, texting or emailing you 24-7, but they will like to have the confidence in knowing they can reach you should they have a question, concern or problem which needs to be resolved.

It’s also important to consider offering your tenants the ability to pay their rents online via your website or a 3rd party payment platform so you can speed up the process of getting paid and won’t have to deal with the age old problem of collecting checks from your tenants.

Tip 3 – Offer Perks For Tenants Who Renew Their Leases

Last of all, you should consider offering perks to tenants who are considering renewing their leases.

Some perks to consider offering are: 3-6 month gym memberships, restaurant gift cards, basic satellite TV or Wi-Fi for 6 months or free rent for one month.

Property Management Tips

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For more property management tips or for affordable property management for Houston Texas or the surrounding area contact Vestpro Residential Services by calling us at (832) 498-0016 or click here to contact us through our website.