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Tips for Selecting Your First Rental Property

Tips for Selecting Your First Rental Property

By Vestpro Residential Services

Are you planning on buying your first rental property? If so, you’re not alone. Now is a great time to buy a rental property because mortgage interest rates are still low and demand for rentals remains high especially in cities like Houston.

In this article, we will share with you several tips you can use to successfully purchase your first rental property.

Determine the Specifics of The Rental You Are Searching For

Before choosing a rental property it’s important to first determine the specific of what you’re searching for in a rental property including the location that you want to own a rental, because in most cities rental properties that are located close to downtown or close to colleges will rent for more money than rentals in suburban areas.

Set Your Budget

Since prices for Real Estate in many cities have reached all-time highs you should set your budget before you start searching for rentals because in this real estate climate it’s very easy for any buyer or first-time investor to overspend.

Create A List of Properties to View in Your Target Areas

Once you know the specifics of the property you’re searching for, and you’ve set your budget, you should next create a list of properties that match your criteria because this will help you to simplify your search especially when you use online tools to find suitable rental properties.

Some criteria that you should consider applying to your search for rental properties include:

  • Bedrooms – The single-family home, condo or duplex should have at least 3 bedrooms.
  • Bathrooms – 2 bathrooms are recommended.
  • Square Feet – Home should have no less than 1,200 square feet.
  • Age – The property shouldn’t be older than 60 years old since renovation or demo may be required due to removing things like radon and asbestos from the home
  • Rent – Property should rent for a minimum of $1,200 per month 
  • Garage – 1-car garage is preferred

Save Time and Money with Experienced Property Management

Once you find the right rental property don’t attempt to manage it yourself, save the time, money and hassle of managing rental properties by hiring our experienced and professional property management team.

Contact Vestpro Residential Services today by calling us at (832) 498-0016 or click here to connect with us online.  

 

 

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Posted by on June 29, 2017 in Property Management

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Tips for making your rental energy efficient

Tips for making your rental energy efficient

One of the keys to success with owning rental properties in 2017 is offering a rental property that’s also energy efficient because, these types of rentals will be more attractive to millennials and other renters who want rental properties that won’t come with expensive energy costs each month.

In this article we’re going to provide you with easy tips you can use to create an energy efficient rental property.

How to Make Your Home More Energy-Efficient: Tip #1

Reduce Drafts

One of the easiest ways to make your property more energy-efficient is to reduce the amount of air that comes in or out of the home unintentionally. Drafts force tenants to turn up the heat; and at the end of the month, they’re the ones who pay for it.

Reduce drafts and energy bills with the following fixes:

  • Exterior doors: There are a number of ways to stop drafts from sneaking under the bottom of the door. We recommend sealing doorways with inexpensive solutions like draft stoppers, foam tape, or door sweeps.
  • Windows: Old windows are especially prone to letting drafts in. If you’re not ready to replace them just yet, check out this weather stripping tutorial for an affordable solution.
  • Fireplace door: If your unit has fireplaces, whether or not they’re actively used, fireplace doors block drafts from entering your home. Sam Wilhoit of Brick-Anew explains, “[Fireplace doors] were originally designed so that a person could let the fire die down and then close the doors before they went to bed. That way the room would not be freezing cold the next morning from the cold air that came into the room.”Choose clear or tinted glass to accent your space.

For both doors and windows, your best bet could be to replace them, as we suggested in last week’s post on energy-efficient updates. This reduces drafts while also boosting the property’s security and aesthetics. You can also mention that your unit has brand new doors and windows in your rental listings.

How to Make Your Home More Energy-Efficient: Tip #2

Install Energy-Efficient Bulbs

Lighting is an important area to focus your attention because “an average household dedicates about 5 percent of its energy budget to lighting,” according to Energy.gov. As a result, they explain, “Switching to energy-efficient lighting is one of the fastest ways to cut your energy bills.”

Start by replacing bulbs in the 5 most frequently used light fixtures in your home. In doing so, Energy.gov says, you could save $75 each year. Consider which rooms are used most–likely the bathroom, kitchen, and living room are at the top of the list–so you can make the most of this investment. In addition to indoor lamps, consider replacing bulbs in outdoor lighting that might be left on for a long time.

Compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) and light-emitting diodes (LEDs) are two of the most popular options, with LEDs using just 20-25% of the energy used by traditional incandescent lightbulbs. “For high-quality products with the greatest energy savings, choose bulbs that have earned the ENERGY STAR,” suggests Energy.gov. New bulbs will last longer and improve energy efficiency–a win-win.

How to Make Your Home More Energy-Efficient: Tip #3

Choose One Big Upgrade

Upgrading to energy-efficient appliances is expensive. It’s a hard investment to justify as a landlord who’s worried about how potential renters will treat these valuable items. Instead of investing in all new appliances at once, start with one big upgrade. Which one should you start with? According to Direct Energy, these 4 appliances pack the biggest savings punch:

  • Washer: $40/year and $415/lifespan
  • Air purifier: $27/year and $215/lifespan
  • Clothes dryer: $16/year and $160/lifespan
  • Air conditioners: $11/year and $99/lifespan

If you don’t have the extra cash to replace old appliances just yet, focus on downgrading wherever possible. “Make an effort to buy appliances that suit your needs–no bigger and no smaller. Oversized air conditioners, water heaters and refrigerators waste both energy and money,” explains Mary Boone on Zillow.

When all is said and done, don’t forget to update rental listings to feature any upgrades you’ve made. Use buzzwords like “eco-friendly,” “environmentally friendly,” “green,” “sustainable,” and “energy savings” to pique the interest of tenants that care most about these features–and highlight the money it’ll save.

Get Property Management Here

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

 

 

Posted by on May 29, 2017 in Property Management Tips

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Property Management Tips – How to cleanly remove popcorn ceilings

Property Management Tips – How to cleanly remove popcorn ceilings

Are you planning on buying another rental property but you noticed that it has popcorn ceilings?

Even though a popcorn ceiling can be tedious to remove the reality is that it can be done cleanly / efficiently by following the tips in this video.

Get Property Management Here

No time to continue managing your rental properties yourself? No problem! Contact Vestpro Residential Services today by calling us at (832) 498-0016 or click here to connect with us online.

 

 

Posted by on May 26, 2017 in Property Management Tips

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Property Management Tips – How to remove a stain from carpet

Property Management Tips – How to remove a stain from carpet

One of your rental properties just came up for rent and after inspecting it you’ve found that more than one room in the property has stains in the carpeting.

What do you do?

Hire a professional carpet cleaner to clean the carpet?

The good news is that you can easily remove stains from any carpet yourself simply by following the tips in this video.

Get Property Management Here

No time to manage your rental properties yourself? No problem! Get professional property management by calling Vestpro Residential Services by calling us at (832) 498-0016 or click here to connect with us online.

 

Posted by on May 12, 2017 in Property Management Tips

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Best Tips For Newbie Landlords

Best Tips For Newbie Landlords

Just getting started with owning your first rental properties? If so, you’ve come to the right place. In this article we will share with you or best tips for newbie landlords who have just purchased their first rental properties and are now faced with the task of dealing with tenants.

1. Screen Tenants

Don’t rent to anyone before checking credit history, references, and background. Haphazard screening and tenant selection too often results in problems — a tenant who pays the rent late or not at all, trashes your place, or lets undesirable friends move in. Use a written rental application to properly screen your tenants. For more information, see How to Screen and Select Tenants FAQ.

2. Get it in writing.

Be sure to use a written lease or month-to-month rental agreement to document the important facts of your relationship with your tenants — including when and how you handle tenant complaints and repair problems, notice you must give to enter a tenant’s apartment, and the like. For what to include in a lease or rental agreement, see Ten Terms You Must Include in Your Lease or Rental Agreement. Not sure which to use? See Whether to Use a Lease or Rental Agreement.

3. Handle security deposits properly.

Establish a fair system of setting, collecting, holding, and returning security deposits. Inspect and document the condition of the rental unit before the tenant moves in, to avoid disputes over security deposits when the tenant moves out. For more information, see Leases and Rental Agreements FAQ.

4. Make repairs.

Stay on top of maintenance and repair needs and make repairs when requested. If the property is not kept in good repair, you’ll alienate good tenants, and tenants may gain the right to withhold rent, repair the problem and deduct the cost from the rent, sue for injuries caused by defective conditions, and/or move out without needing to give notice. For more information, see Repairs, Maintenance, and Entry to Rented Premises.

5. Provide secure premises.

Don’t let your tenants and property be easy marks for a criminal. Assess your property’s security and take reasonable steps to protect it. Often the best measures, such as proper lights and trimmed landscaping, are not that expensive. For more information, see Criminal Acts and Activities: Landlord Liability FAQ.

6. Provide notice before entering.

Learn about your tenants’ rights to privacy; see Repairs, Maintenance, and Entry to Rented Premises. Notify your tenants whenever you plan to enter their rental unit, and provide as much notice as possible, at least 24 hours or the minimum amount required by state law. For state-by-state information, see Chart: Notice Requirements to Enter Rental Property, State by State.

7. Disclose environmental hazards.

If there’s a hazard such as lead or mold on the property, tell your tenants. Landlords are increasingly being held liable for tenant health problems resulting from exposure to environmental toxins in the rental premises. For more information on lead, see Lead Disclosures for Rental Property FAQ. Check your state law for other landlord disclosures. – Learn more here!

Save Time And Money Here!

No time to manage your rental properties yourself? No problem! Get professional property management by calling Vestpro Residential Services by calling us at (832) 498-0016 or click here to connect with us online.

 

 

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Planning for retirement? Why not buy an investment property?

Planning for retirement? Why not buy an investment property?

Is your retirement around the corner and you’re searching for income producing investments to add to your portfolio? If so, why not add rental properties to your portfolio?

There’s never been a better time than right now to invest in Real Estate especially since more people continue to move to Texas every day and as an investor you will be able to capitalize on the demand for rental properties by investing in Real Estate.

Tips For Investing In Rental Properties

Gather as much information as you can. Talk to other investors, mortgage brokers andreal estate agents who have worked with income property about what owning a rental property is really like, in addition to reading books and articles on the topic. “It’s all about obtaining knowledge,” Rodriguez says.

Decide if you’re ready to be a landlord. Buying and managing property yourself provides the greatest return but also the greatest headaches. “Do you have the stomach for being a landlord?” Fleming says. “Stuff’s going to happen that just really ticks you off.” Other, less active options include becoming a partner in a limited liability company that owns properties or buying into a real estate investment trust.

Crunch the numbers carefully. A rental property is only a worthwhile investment if it makes money. Yes, the property may rise in value and yield a profit when you sell, but it also may lose value depending on which way the market goes. “If you’re banking on just appreciation, it’s really hit or miss,” Alexy says.

Make sure you have enough cash. Getting rich on real estate with no money down is a great dream, but it’s almost impossible to accomplish. Expect to need a sizeable down payment, reserves to pay for repairs and maintenance and a good income before you start investing.

Property Management Makes Owning Rental Properties SIMPLE

Before managing your rental properties yourself, learn more about how affordable property management is by calling Vestpro Residential Services at (832) 498-0016 or click here to connect with us online.

 

DIY Property Management Is HARD! Make it easy by calling Vestpro at (832) 498-0016 or click here to connect with us online.

 

Posted by on May 3, 2017 in Property Management Tips

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Are you showing your appreciation to your loyal tenants?

Are you showing your appreciation to your loyal tenants?

During the process of owning rental properties in the Houston Texas area, or elsewhere in the United States, one of the very best things you can do is show your appreciation to your loyal tenants because, it’s easier to keep a long term tenant than it is to put your rental property back on the market and search for new renters that’s why in this article we will share with you our tips for showing your appreciation to your loyal tenants.

Host events

Hosting an event redefines your presence with your tenants. Beyond the person who collects their rent checks every month, you become a friendly and generous person. Bringing tenants together is both fun and fosters a sense of community, making them feel +more comfortable and connected to their residence. When people have personal ties, it makes leaving a less casual decision.

One great option is a summer barbecue. Even if you only have a few tenants, inviting them to a local park for a day of food and fun can adds the kind of personal touch to your business that will go a long way in bridging the gap between you and your tenants, and even between the tenants themselves. However, you should express caution where food is involved. Be aware of any food allergies or special diets among your guests. Have a black bean patty ready for your vegan tenant, or a lactose free cheese for your lactose-intolerant tenant. They will remember that extra kindness.

Create a beautiful environment

If your tenant feels good about where they live, they are far more likely to stay in place. Go above and beyond your state’s mandated . A clean and well-maintained community will help guide each tenant’s decision to remain with you, and a proactive approach to maintenance and repairs matters. Pay extra attention to entryways and porch spaces; peeling paint and cobwebs can make your property feel shabby. Stay on top of cleaning and repairs and you will not regret it.

Give personal gifts

A small token of appreciation on a tenant’s anniversary with the community or on their birthday, such as a gift basket or a gift card, are always good ideas. If you are in a position to be better acquainted with your tenant, a personal gift can mean even more.

If you know that a tenant enjoys classical music, a gift of tickets to a symphony or an outdoor concert builds a deep, personal connection that could they give staying with you extra consideration when it’s time to renew their lease.

Small tokens such as non-denominational holiday cards or birthday cards are a nice touch and another way to let them know you care.

Leverage referrals

Studies show that tenants who have friends nearby tend to stay longer. If you have several properties in the area, you could benefit not only in tenant retention, but also by asking your tenant to unofficially function as a marketer for you. If your tenant loves their home, they are more likely to refer a friend to you.

Get Property Management Here

For affordable and professional property management contact Vestpro Residential Services today by calling us at (832) 971-1841, connect with us online, or find us on Facebook.

 

 

Posted by on April 14, 2017 in Property Management

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What are your rental property’s best features?

What are your rental property’s best features?

It doesn’t matter how long you’ve owned rental properties in Houston TX, or the surrounding area, you’re going to one day face the prospect of your rentals competing with other rentals in the area that may have better features and or amenities. The key to success when this happens is for you to highlight your rental properties best features by doing the following.

Photograph the right features
The first step in highlighting your property’s most sellable features is to share photos of the right features—a.k.a. the features your potential tenants will care most about. These features can be both design-focused and functional; a mix of the two may appeal to the widest audience. Focus on features like crown molding, new appliances, large outdoor or patio space, and newly renovated areas of the home.

To make sure tenants see the property from every angle, put the images into a collage: “This allows somebody glancing through listings to see interior and exterior shots all at once. Because our homes are so beautifully staged, the split photos get a lot of attention and sets it apart from every other listing,” says Paul Moore, of Smith Mountain Homes.

You can also add multiple images to Facebook Carousel ads or Instagram’s new multi-photo upload feature to create a well-rounded view of the property.

Do virtual home tours
What better way to highlight your property than with a virtual tour? You can do this by taking a phone video and uploading to YouTube, or take live video with your Facebook or Instagram business page. Either way, this is also a great opportunity to engage with potential renters, so while giving the tour, ask questions. You might say:

“We just finished this bathroom, and added the brand new clawfoot tub. Do you like that vintage style? Tell me in the comments!”

“Tenants love using the back yard for grilling and hanging out with friends—the grill over there comes with the property. How often would you use this area?”

If creating all videos on a social platform, be sure to download them and upload to your YouTube channel. You can begin creating different sections for each rental property, so anyone interested in your listings can get walking tours whenever they want.

Share high-quality images

Photographing the right features is important, and the next step is taking high-quality photos. Luckily, you don’t need an expensive camera or photography experience to do that. The new iPhone 7, for example, has made it even easier for you to get expert-quality photos all on your own, thanks to its new dual lens camera, which features a wide angle and telephoto lens, according to iPhone 7 Rumors Confirmed.

Other new phones like the HTC M8 also have this feature, making it possible for you to take photos with depth of field. This is a feature traditionally found only in expensive SLR and DSLR cameras, providing you with a great opportunity for you to get high-quality photos without spending a lot.

Get Property Management Here

For affordable and professional property management contact Vestpro Residential Services today by calling us at (832) 971-1841, connect with us online, or find us on Facebook.

 

Posted by on April 7, 2017 in Property Management Tips

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Common Questions Asked By New Tenants

Common Questions Asked By New Tenants

Are you just getting started with owning rental properties? If so, you’re not alone. Many people have purchased their first investment properties in the last year only to find out that there are common questions that every tenant asks when they express an interest in renting a new property that’s why in this article we’ve compiled a list of common questions asked by new tenants.

1. How much are rent and deposits, and how do I pay rent?

Prospects occasionally see outdated listings with old price points. Make sure you know current amounts for rent and deposits when you engage with prospects. You must also keep a standardized policy for the way your property handles those who bring in expired pricing offers. For compliance purposes, stick to this policy for all prospects.

It’s also important to clarify how tenants can pay rent. An online rent payment system is of tremendous value to tenants, as it allows them to pay by credit card, electronic check, ACH and more at no cost to your company. Offering a range of payment options helps to reduce late rent payments.

If you charge a non-refundable deposit (assuming it’s legal in your state), make it clear in the lease. Though the tenant is responsible for reading the lease thoroughly, consider emphasizing this fact before they sign.

You should also anticipate encountering prospects who will try to bargain or haggle. They might hope for a slightly discounted rent – say $100 per month – after hearing the average utility costs. Rather than getting caught off guard, consider beforehand if you’re willing to drop rent on the unit. Think of other contingencies as well, such as accepting a somewhat lower rent if they’ll sign a longer lease, which leads to…

2. Will you accept a shorter lease, or can we pay less if we’ll sign a longer lease than you’re asking for?

Property managers commonly want a minimum of a one-year lease, but what happens when a four-month vacancy has a prospect inquiring about a six-month lease? Decide the terms you will accept in advance and keep them consistent. Ideally, your community should develop a specific policy and hold to it. You should also have some idea as to whether you’ll drop the rent if the prospect signs a lease longer than your minimum requirement or, alternatively, guarantee the rate will not rise.

3. Do you allow pets? How about exotic pets?

You likely have a firm policy, as well as related deposits and pet rents, concerning dogs and cats. However, people keep everything from lizards to ferrets to sugar gliders (yes that is the name of a real animal). Develop a consistent and comprehensive approach to exotic pets for prospective tenants who ask about them. Keep in mind that while some can damage properties, others are fairly innocuous and unlikely to leave any lasting record of their stay. If you do allow cats, dogs or other animals you feel might compromise the property, clearly spell out the consequences of any damage (from charges to eviction notices) in the lease.

4. What’s your tenant screening process?

Some people will seek more information regarding your screening process. If you use tenant screening, you can familiarize yourself with the criteria and databases the company uses.

People familiar with credit checks may also ask if your community performs a hard or soft inquiry given that hard inquiries have an impact on credit scores.

To avoid Fair Housing problems, always clarify that you use an objective screening system based purely on numbers. Never make decisions based on race, religion or other controversial factors. Working with a screening service that uses objective methods will also help ensure compliance.

Get Property Management Here

Save the time, money and hassle of managing rental properties yourself, contact Vestpro Residential today by calling us at (832) 971-1841, connect with us online, or find us on Facebook.

 

Posted by on March 29, 2017 in Property Management

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Tips for Finding a Contractor You Can Trust

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. 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.

 

Posted by on March 2, 2017 in Property Management Tips

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