How to landscape your Houston Texas rental

Spring time is here in the Houston Texas area and one of the great things about this time of year is that it’s also an excellent time for owners to landscape their rental properties.

After doing a complete property clean up at your rental property you can get your landscape looking fantastic by following these tips:

Fertilize

You may think that the old oak tree on your rental property doesn’t need tree fertilizer, but that’s far from accurate. If you have older trees on your property, then you can do light feedings several times a year. However, keep in mind that it’s better to fertilize less than to over-fertilize and cause damage to the tree.

Fertilize any ground covers after removing any debris, such as dead branches and fallen leaves. In addition, replenish any mulch beds if you notice them getting low. Harsh winter weather can take a toll on trees and shrubs, so adding more mulch will keep the roots protected until the weather gets warmer.

Turn Over the Soil

Turn over the soil on warmer days to expose insect eggs that have been laid underground and will hatch in the spring. When soil thaws and refreezes, it destroys eggs and cuts down on the overall pest population that you’ll see when summer comes. In addition, it improves the soil’s quality. This helps when it’s time to reseed or mow the lawn when it’s time for the first cut of the season.

Choose The Right Landscaping

Once your landscape is ready for planting it’s important to choose the right plants.

It’s best to choose plants that are similar to what other home owners are planting in the area just so you don’t plant anything that doesn’t make your rental stand out like a “sore thumb”.

You should also choose plants that don’t require a lot of maintenance just so landscape maintenance will be as easy as possible for your tenants.

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.

Does your Houston rental have a mold problem? Click here

One of the worst problems that every landlord faces is when they find out that their rental property has a mold problem.

Some unscrupulous landlords may try to paint over the mold and pretend it doesn’t exist. This is never a good idea because, the mold will only come back and could do much worse damage to the rental property than you really know.

What’s the solution to the problem? Learn how to diagnose mold in your rental property and find out how to eliminate this problem.

Mold Warning Signs

Mold does have a strange “pungent” smell especially when it’s confined to one or more areas of your home.

Mold typically lives inside walls of older properties or behind wallpaper but it can also grow within showers bathtubs or behind the toilet in the bathroom of your Houston Texas Rental Property.

A general “rule of thumb” is to search for mold in any area which might be prone to moisture in your Houston Texas Rental Property.

How to Clean Mold

If you have found mold in your Houston Texas Rental Property you can easily clean away surface mold yourself simply by using bleach to surface clean the area.

Make sure you let the bleach set for at least 15 minutes because this kill off any spores or fungicides yourself.

It’s also important to use a breathing mask and plus latex gloves when cleaning mold.

You should also use a dehumidifier to remove the humidity from the air as well but do not use a fan because fans will only spread mold spores.

Get Houston TX Property Management

For more information on how to deal with mold, or to get Houston Texas Property Management, contact Vestpro Residential Services, LLC today by calling us at (832) 498-0016 or CLICK HERE.

5 Tips for a Low Stress First Rental Property Investment

Tip #1: Advice is OK, but Do Your Own Research

Take courses, read investment books, go to a seminar, or any other learning process that helps you to gain confidence to make decisions. I suggest that any books, courses or seminars be about how to select locations, value properties and evaluate the rental market. Your success will be based on your due diligence and most of all buying right in the right area.

Your first rental property investment is best done in your area of residence, where you know what’s going on economically. You want to know that the economy will support today’s decision into the future, as this isn’t a short term strategy. Understand who the major employers are, what drives people to move in or move away, and if things look good into the near future.

Tip #2: Don’t Just Rely on Real Estate Agents

Sure, now and then you can work with a real estate agent who handles foreclosures and get a good deal. Remember though that these will be “listed” foreclosures on the MLS, Multiple Listing Service. You and all of your competitor investors have access to the same information, so competition will likely drive up your cost of acquisition.

If you do your own marketing and locate motivated sellers, you have a greater chance of negotiation a good deal. Another approach is to work with an experienced real estate wholesaler. They are investors too, but they are experts and finding great deals that they can flip to rental property buyers at a below-market value price. Just check their references out and be sure they do know what they’re doing.

Tip #3: Know What Will Rent and for How Much

Check with property managers who handle single family homes. Go to the classifieds and check out what homes similar to the one you’re considering are renting for. Are the owners offering incentives like free months? This is usually a sign of a soft rental market or heavy competition, so you may want to try another neighborhood or property type.

Call on ads, drive around, talk to landlords as if you’re a tenant. The most important thing for you to know before the next tip is what you can reasonably and conservatively expect for rental income and low vacancy.

Tip #4: Get the Right Financing & Cash Flow

You need to know all of your costs, including estimating repairs and other maintenance costs. But, the mortgage is going to be your largest cash outlay, so it is your most important cost consideration. You’ll need to put 20% down or more in most cases. For a rental unit you may also pay a slightly higher mortgage interest rate. A great credit history helps in this regard.

Get a firm handle on all of your costs, then see what your mortgage payment with taxes and insurance escrowed will be. Let’s use an example of a $150,000 home with a $32,500 down payment and closing costs. If you can manage to clear even $250/month over cash out of pocket, your return on the actual cash invested is going to be around 9%.

Tip #5: Lock in Equity at the Closing Table

NEVER buy at retail market value. If you can’t get the home at a 10-20% discount to its current market value, don’t do the deal. You want to leave the closing table with that equity as either future profit or a cushion should you have to sell before your initially planned liquidation date.

If you’re going to work with a wholesaler who you may meet at a local investment club, be clear that you’ll want to see their valuation calcs and you’ll check them with your own. You give them your requirement. If it’s 15% below market value, then they will know what they have to deliver.

You’re in control here, and you don’t have to make a deal until you know it’s going to be a great investment.

Get Property Management Here

For professional property management in the Houston Texas area contact Vestpro Residential Services at (832) 498-0016 or click here to connect with us online. 

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. If you happened to need a real estate lawyer, you could use real estate attorney Houston to help you out.

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.

Get Property Management Here!

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.

Get Property Management Here

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

Pool Safety Tips To Start Using Now

The “dog days” of summer are officially here and for the coming months we can expect temperatures in the Houston area to reach the triple digits.

If you own a rental property with a pool or spa area it’s more important than ever for you to be enforcing pool safety rules because not only will this protect your tenants, it will also protect your best interests as well and avoid any accidents, injuries or lawsuits at your swimming pool.

Pool Safety Tips You Should Start Using Now

  1. Install anti-entrapment drain covers. Make sure that your drain covers are compliant with the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool & Spa Safety Act of 2007. Virginia was the 6-year-old granddaughter of former Secretary of State James Baker. She was killed in 2003 when the suction from a hot tub drain caused her to drown. The federal law was named in her memory. Between 2012 and 2016, 17 people were trapped by drains, 14 of whom were younger than 15 years old. 2 of those victims drowned, both in residential spas.

  2. Use safety vacuum release systems with pool pumps. If the pump detects a change in vacuum pressure that could be caused by a person’s body, the pump will either shut off, or the system will inject air into the pump. This will free the person from the suction, thereby preventing drowning.

  3. Educate parents on community pool safety tips, including keeping children away from pool drains.

  4. Train staff on first-aid and lifesaving techniques. Have a Red Cross employee train your staff and any interested residents on community pool safety.

  5. Child-proof pool enclosures. Fencing around your pool area should be at least 4 feet high. Check for areas where older children could sneak through. Make sure that gates are self-closing and self-latching, with latches out of reach of very small children.

  6. Post community pool safety rules in a prominent location. In writing these rules, residential managers must balance community pool safety with the danger of discriminatory language. A blanket rule such as “No children under age 13” may not pass legal muster. This is particularly true in California, where we have at least two precedents: Iniestra v. Cliff Warren Investments, Inc. and Llanos v. Estate of Coelho. Both cases found that rules restricting children from using pool facilities without an adult, or keeping them away from adult-only areas, were overly restrictive and constituted prima facie discrimination. For more on this topic, check out our post Watch Your Language: What Can We Learn from Recent HUD Enforcement Actions?

  7. Enforce no-alcohol rules in your pool area. Give your security guards the authority to remove residents or guests who are disregarding community pool safety or abusing pool privileges.

  8. Don’t allow plugged-in devices anywhere near the pool deck or hot tub. You can also disable electrical outlets that are in close proximity.

  9. Prohibit glass containers in the pool area. One shattered glass endangers a lot of bare feet.

  10. Get a staff member certified in pool maintenance. Even if you subcontract pool maintenance out, it’s a good idea to have someone on staff educated in chlorination, sanitation procedures, and what it takes to maintain a busy swimming pool. Here’s a list of certified pool operator training programs from the Center for Disease Control and the National Swimming Pool Foundation.

  11. Check chlorine and pH levels at least twice a day with pool test strips. The Center for Disease Control recommends that you check for free chlorine (2-4 ppm) and bromine (4-6 ppm). The pH level should be between 7.2 and 7.8. This will prevent outbreaks of Legionnaire’s Disease, which can be caused by pathogens that develop in insufficiently sanitized water, and can spread via water vapor or droplets.

  12. Inspect pool equipment annually, such as pumps, drains, and heaters. Keep a logbook to track inspections.

  13. Inventory lifesaving supplies. Check to make sure that no one has stolen, vandalized, or lost your pool rings and rescue poles.

  14. Consider hiring a lifeguard. Outsourcing this to a lifeguard service may make sense from a liability perspective. Ensure that your vendor is insured and bonded. If your budget is tight, you can potentially hire a pool attendant rather than a trained lifeguard. You can learn about the differences between pool attendants and lifeguards on Guard for Life.

  15. Hire a pool management company. Again, a properly licensed, bonded, and insured pool management company can take the day-to-day load of pool maintenance off of your staff. It also relieves you of the hassle of storing large amounts of HAZMAT materials on-site. Furthermore, since they carry their own errors and omissions insurance as well as general liability coverage, their insurers will absorb any liability that may arise from pool-related incidents. A professional pool maintenance firm will also keep up with community pool safety-related federal, state, and local laws—something that your staff may not have time to do.

  16. Consider installing CCTV cameras to surveil your pool area. These systems are much less expensive than they used to be even a few years ago. They can feed directly to your security shed at night and help you to prevent after-hours incidents and lawsuits.

Get Property Management Here

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

 

Tips for Finding a Contractor You Can Trust

Are you planning on having some work done on your rental property? If so, one of the keys to success with maintaining rental property for the long term that also produces consistent cash flow is finding a contractor you can trust. If you are a contractor who wants to be trusted by people then there is an easy solution to this. You just have to make sure you have the correct business plan, why not check out something like this SGI which can help your business become more trustworthy. This will help get you potential clients. Moving on though, for those people who want tips on what to look for in a contractor you should keep on reading. Thankfully, we got you covered with these 11 tips that will help you to connect with the right contractor.

1. Insist on a license.

Don’t accept excuses like, “I haven’t renewed my license yet this year” or “It’s pending.” All of these coverages ultimately protect you, the consumer, with vital safeguards like insurance requirements.

2. Ask for referrals.

One of the best methods for finding a contractor that you like is to ask your fellow property managers who they use.

3. Check with state or county authorities.

They’ll have a record of any complaints or revoked licenses. Keep in mind that any contractor who’s been in business for a while may have a few complaints; what you want to be wary of is a negative pattern on their licensing record.

4. Use a General Contractor Firm.

General contractor’s licenses are more difficult to get. General contractors are accustomed to carrying insurance that protects both them and you, the customer, against damage that may be caused by their subcontractors.

5. Anticipate problems.

Jobs may not be completed as planned for a few reasons: a scheduling error, inadequate manpower, insufficient materials, or an injury on the job site. If you enter each job prepared for the worst, you’ll be more resilient in the face of unexpected issues.

6. Get multiple bids.

This is about more than getting the best price. A variety of bids will set a price range, and set your expectations for how the work will be done.

7. Don’t automatically take the lowest bid.

The lowest price, though enticing, may be because the company is using subpar materials or illegal labor; or they may be skimping on workers’ compensation.

8. Don’t pay for bids.

Reputable contractors will get their fair share of work from their own bids, without you having to pay just to get them to consider your project.

9. Get proof of insurance.

Specifically, you want to see proof of sufficient general liability, contractors liability, and workers’ compensation insurance as a minimum.

In addition, make sure that the total coverage amount is adequate in proportion to the size of the job and the nature of the building. If it’s not, you should feel comfortable asking the contractor to purchase more insurance.

10. Verify liability coverage.

Errors and omissions in professional liability coverage comes in two basic forms: “occurrence” and “claims made.” It’s important to understand the distinction.

  • Occurrence: Provides coverage for any incidents or accidents that occur during the policy period, even if you don’t file the claim or issues don’t even become apparent until after the policy expires.
  • Claims made: These policies do not provide coverage after the policy has expired, unless the contractor purchases tail coverage.

11. If you’re a landlord, consider a surety bond.

A surety bond is a kind of insurance protection for the landlord. The contractor pays a sum to a bond company, and in the event that the contractor fails to perform, the surety bond company pays a sum to the landlord.

Get Property Management Here

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

5 Basic Tips for Investing in Real Estate

Are you planning on getting started with Investing In Real Estate during 2017? If so, you’re not alone. Thanks to the excellent returns from Real Estate many investors have chosen to invest in rental properties in Houston, and across the United States.

Before getting started with investing in Real Estate you should follow these 5 basic tips for investing in Real Estate.

1. Location Matters

The old adage that “location matters” is most accurate when it comes to real estate investing. Before you fork over a down payment and put yourself in a significant amount of debt over a property, ensure that it’s in a good location.

Look for the worst house on the best street. That’s a principle you’ll come across quite a bit as you delve into further real estate investing advice.

You want to invest in the worst house on the best street because it gives you an opportunity to build equity. It’s a property in a great neighborhood (“the best street”) that needs some work (“the worst house”). You can invest some money to fix it up and sell it to someone else who wants a ready-to-move-in house in a fabulous location. Professional real estate investors call this “fixing and flipping.”

2. Look for Wholesale Properties

Investing in real estate is just like investing in the stock market in at least one way: you’re looking for the best deal. If you’re a savvy stock market investor, you probably won’t buy too many stocks at their high if you plan on holding them for a long time. Instead, you’ll follow the Warren Buffet principle of getting greedy when everyone else gets fearful. You’ll buy stocks that are beaten down and make a fortune when they turn around.
That’s what you want to do when it comes to real estate investing. Avoid paying “full price” for properties. Instead, look for so-called wholesale properties that are offered at a steep discount. Sure, they’ll probably need some work. Run the numbers and see if the investment in rehab is worth the ultimate selling price.

As noted at ThinkConveyance: “You can easily invest $20,000 in a property and add twice that much to the selling price. That’s why real estate investing is so attractive to investors who want to maximize their return on investment.”

3. Understand the Tax Benefits
The people who run our government want private investors to provide housing for people. That’s because they know that if private investors don’t provide housing, then the government will be responsible for it.

To that end, Uncle Sam offers significant tax benefits to real estate investors. The most significant benefit, arguably, is the depreciation write-off. When you buy an investment property that includes a building, you get to write off the depreciation of that building as a tax deduction. You’ll have to consult your tax advisor for specifics, but basically you can expect to depreciate a residential building over 27 years and a commercial building over 39 and a half years.

Keep in mind that the IRS views your real estate investment efforts as a business so you also get to claim the “necessary and ordinary“ deductions that business owners take, including mortgage interest, insurance, and maintenance expenses. Again, it’s a good idea to consult your tax advisor about specifics.

4. Check Your Credit Report

You’re more than likely going to need to borrow money to buy real estate. That’s why you should check your credit report before you begin investing in real estate.

If you have problems on your credit report that are mistakes, get those resolved as quickly as possible. If you have problems that are legitimate, then you’ll need to work to improve your credit.

Simply put, banks aren’t going to loan money to you for a property that’s not your primary residence as readily as they’ll loan it to you for your own home. That’s why your credit has to be spectacular.

5. Use the “1% Rule”

If you’re planning on buying a property that you’ll rent out one or more tenants, use the “1% Rule” when you decide whether or not the property is worth the price you’ll pay for it.

The 1% Rule simply states that an income producing property must produce 1% of the price you pay for it every month. For example, if you’re looking at buying a property for $150,000, then the monthly rental income should be 150,000 x 1% = $1,500.

Get Houston Texas Property Management

As you grow your portfolio of rental properties you’re going to need an experienced Houston Texas Property Management company because a property manager will save you the time, money and hassle of managing those rentals yourself. Learn more about the services we can offer you by contact us today at (832) 971-1841 or click here to connect with us online.

 

New 1099 deadline change to impact businesses

Every year, tax season brings a variety of changes, from forms to regulations—and this year is no exception.

Beginning in 2017 (for the 2016 reporting year), many important deadlines will change. Filers will be required to send 1099-MISC recipient copies and submit the forms to the IRS by January 31, 2017, regardless of method (paper or e-file). This significant change to the deadline, which was previously February 28 for paper and March 31 for e-file, will undoubtedly dial up workloads and stress levels for companies.

To further complicate matters, the new filing deadline, as it relates to Form 1099-MISC, only impacts filers reporting non-employee compensation payments in Box 7. Although the overwhelming majority of 1099-MISC filers will report information in Box 7, there is bound to be some confusion.

As you are likely aware, many filers traditionally provide recipient copies first and wait for employees or vendors to review the forms prior to sending them to the IRS. This approach has allowed errors to be corrected and the fixed form to be filed to the federal government, along a new copy to the recipient, without creating a corrected 1099. The new reporting deadline all but eliminates this option, which we expect to result in more corrected forms being sent this year.

To avoid filing late and incurring penalties for noncompliance, it’s important to plan ahead for these new deadlines, form changes, and other deadlines. We also recommend reviewing the required data as soon as possible to allow extra time to edit errors or gather further information if needed. Click here to learn more!

Get Houston Texas Property Management Here

Do you need Houston Texas Property Management? If so, contact Vestpro Residential Services today by calling us at (832) 971-1841 or click here to connect with us online.

As long time property management professionals we can save you the time, money and hassle of managing your own rental properties especially when it comes to things like rent collection, maintenance, customer service and all of the other property management tasks that you might currently be doing yourself.

Let us show you the difference our services can offer you and how we can simplify your business so you can focus on growing your portfolio of rental properties in Houston, Humble, Kingwood and the surrounding area.

Are You Planning On Selling Your Houston Rental Before The End Of The Year?

Over the last five years many homeowners in Houston Texas have decided to rent their homes out rather than selling them, but times have changed, and now that home values have increased, homeowners who were previously underwater with their mortgages have equity again and may be planning on selling their Houston Rental Properties. 

Thanks to the IRS tax code we know that you can temporarily rent your primary residence without losing the all-important exclusion of capital gain but, this is also based on set five-year time limit.

About The Capital Gains Exclusion

During a 5 year period of time, you must have done the following:

  • Owned your home for 2 years.
  • Lived in your home, as your primary residence for two years.
  • Ownership must have been continuous during this period of time.

To successfully take advantage of the capital gains deduction your home must be ready for sale and should be priced correctly, sold then closed within a period of six months.

Although most homeowners want all capital gains to qualify for the exclusion, the reality is that some of the gains might not qualify if depreciation has occurred during the period of time that the home was rented, but the good news is that depreciation is recaptured at a tax rate of 25%.

cellphone

Timing Is Important

As with anything in life, timing is important, especially if your home is valued at $200,000 or more because it’s possible that you could have a tax liability up to $30,000 so like most people you will want to do everything possible to minimize or eliminate as many taxes as possible.

To learn more about taking advantage of the capital gains exclusion contact you tax professional today or to start the process of selling your Houston Rental before the end of the year click here.

VestPro Logo

Get Property Management Here

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