What should you be looking for in a rental property?

Are you planning on investing in rental properties for the first time but you don’t what to look for in a rental property? If so, you’ve come to the right place!

In this article we will break down what you should look at before investing in a rental property.

 

  • Neighborhood: The quality of the neighborhood in which you buy will influence both the types of tenants you attract and how often you face vacancies. For example, if you buy in a neighborhood near a university, the chances are that your pool of potential tenants will be mainly made up of students and that you will face vacancies on a fairly regular basis (during summer, when students tend to return back home).

  • Property Taxes: Property taxes are not standard across the board and, as an investor planning to make money from rent, you want to be aware of how much you will be losing to taxes. High property taxes may not always be a bad thing if the neighborhood is an excellent place for long-term tenants, but the two do not necessarily go hand in hand. The town’s assessment office will have all the tax information on file or you can talk to homeowners within the community.

  • Schools: Your tenants may have or be planning to have children, so they will need a place near a decent school. When you have found a good property near a school, you will want to check the quality of the school as this can affect the value of your investment. If the school has a poor reputation, prices will reflect your property’s value poorly. Although you will be mostly concerned about the monthly cash flow, the overall value of your rental property comes in to play when you eventually sell it.

  • Crime: No one wants to live next door to a hot spot for criminal activity. Go to the police or the public library for accurate crime statistics for various neighborhoods, rather than asking the homeowner who is hoping to sell the house to you. Items to look for are vandalism rates, serious crimes, petty crimes and recent activity (growth or slow down). You might also want to ask about the frequency of police presence in your neighborhood.

  • Job Market: Locations with growing employment opportunities tend to attract more people – meaning more tenants. To find out how a particular area rates, go directly to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics or to your local library. If you notice an announcement for a new major company moving to the area, you can rest assured that workers will flock to the area. However, this may cause house prices to react (either negatively or positively) depending on the corporation moving in. The fallback point here is that if you would like the new corporation in your backyard, your renters probably will too.

  • Amenities: Check the potential neighborhood for current or projected parks, malls, gyms, movie theaters, public transport hubs and all the other perks that attract renters. Cities, and sometimes even particular areas of a city, have loads of promotional literature that will give you an idea of where the best blend of public amenities and private property can be found.

  • Building Permits and Future Development: The municipal planning department will have information on all the new development that is coming or has been zoned into the area. If there are many new condos, business parks or malls going up in your area, it is probably a good growth area. However, watch out for new developments that could hurt the price of surrounding properties by, for example, causing the loss of an activity-friendly green space. The additional condos and/or new housing could also provide competition for your renters, so be aware of that possibility.

  • Number of Listings and Vacancies: If there is an unusually high number of listings for one particular neighborhood, this can either signal a seasonal cycle or a neighborhood that has “gone bad.” Make sure you figure out which it is before you buy in. You should also determine whether you can cover for any seasonal fluctuations in vacancies. Similar to listings, the vacancy rates will give you an idea of how successful you will be at attracting tenants. High vacancy rates force landlords to lower rents in order to snap up tenants. Low vacancy rates allow landlords to raise rental rates.

  • Rents: Rental income will be the bread and butter of your rental property, so you need to know what the average rent in the area is. If charging the average rent is not going to be enough to cover your mortgage payment, taxes and other expenses, then you have to keep looking. Be sure to research the area well enough to gauge where the area will be headed in the next five years. If you can afford the area now, but major improvements are in store and property taxes are expected to increase, then what could be affordable now may mean bankruptcy later.

  • Natural Disasters: Insurance is another expense that you will have to subtract from your returns, so it is good to know just how much you will need to carry. If an area is prone to earthquakes or flooding, paying for the extra insurance can eat away at your rental income.

Get Property Management Here

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

 

 

 

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.

 

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.

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.

 

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.

Reasons to Hire a Kingwood Texas Property Management Company

By Vestpro Residential Services

Have you been thinking about hiring a Kingwood Texas Property Management Company to manage your portfolio of rental properties? If so, you’ve come to the right place! In this article, we will share with you reasons to hire a property management company to professionally manage your portfolio of rental properties.

We Specialize in Tenant Screening, Placement, and Retention

From screening the right tenants to live in your Kingwood Texas rental properties, to tenant placement, and tenant retention, you can count on us to find the most qualified tenants to live in your rental properties who will care for your rental property as their own and enjoy living there.

You can also count on us to offer the best customer service and support possible to your tenants so that when it comes time for them to renew their leases they will be motivated to renew for another year rather than look elsewhere for a Kingwood Texas Rental.

Our Property Managers Will Save You Time and Money

As your portfolio of rental properties grows you can count on us to save you time each month because you won’t have to travel out to your rentals for things like maintenance, you can count on us to professionally manage all aspects of your rental properties so you can focus on continuing to grow your portfolio of rental properties.

Besides saving you time and money, another reason to choose Kingwood Texas Property Management is you can also count on us to make all aspects of your rental property function better, maintaining the value of your investment, and ensuring that it will continue to produce revenue for you for years to come.

Get Kingwood Texas Property Management

For professional Kingwood, Texas Property Management contact Vestpro Residential Services today by calling us at (832) 498-0026 or click here to connect with us online.

 

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.

 

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.

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.

Homeowners Associations vs. Property Management – What’s the Difference?

Is there a difference between homeowners associations and property management? If you asked most renters the answer would be no, but the reality is that there is a big difference between the two.

Homeowners Associations vs. Property Management

It’s easy to confuse a homeowners association (HOA) with property managers. They are both involved in the management of housing communities. It could be helpful to view a brief description of both HOAs and property managers to see how the functions of each are different. In most cases, they work together, but sometimes they may come into conflict. This information should be useful to property owners, property management companies, and tenants who live in a community that is governed by an HOA.

 

What Are Homeowners Associations?

Neighborhoods, subdivisions, and condo complexes contain lots of housing units that are owned by many different owners. At the same time, homeowners may need to share the responsibility for certain things. They may also share expectations for the way that their neighbors will maintain their properties. Thus, these communities form HOAs to develop and enforce the rules (known as covenants, conditions, and restrictions, or CC&Rs for short) that all property owners need to abide by.

According to the Community Association Institute, over 63 million Americans reside in an estimated 320,000 association-governed communities.

The individuals who belong to these organizations also own property in that community. While all HOA members may propose and vote on rules, an elected HOA board usually has the final responsibility for ensuring that rules get kept and other responsibilities get met.

Besides making and enforcing rules, typical HOA responsibilities include:

  • Maintaining common areas, like playgrounds and swimming pools
  • Setting and collecting dues to pay for things like maintenance of common areas and security
  • Setting budgets for the items that HOA dues pay for
  • Obtaining insurance for common areas
  • Hiring staff and contractors

Obviously, the HOA doesn’t physically perform all of their responsibilities. For example, they may hire security people, secretaries, and maintenance crews. In some cases, overseeing all of the work requires a separate property manager to assist them. To help with all of the tasks involved, an HOA may also hire a property manager or property management company.

What Do Property Managers Do in a Homeowners Association?

There are two different situations when a community may have both property managers and homeowners associations. In the most commonly discussed case, the property management company works for the HOA. In another case, property owners may own some houses or condos in a community that also has owner-occupied units. In this second case, the property owners and their managers are just property owners with the same status as any other owners. If property owners occupy their own housing or lease it to tenants, they still have the same responsibilities to the HOA.

Property managers as employees of the HOA: HOA members may volunteer for their positions as an investment in their community. As volunteers, they may not have time to oversee all of the day-to-day obligations of the board. In this case, an HOA might hire a property manager or property management company to assist them.

The duties of property managers can vary, but they may include overseeing paid staff or contractors, communicating with residents, collecting dues, and handling emergencies. As employees of the HOA board, property managers report to them.

Property managers as owners within the community: In this case, property managers simply have to abide by the same rules that any owners who occupy their homes do. This situation is somewhat more complex because tenants actually occupy the property. The owners and tenants may have to cooperate to stay in compliance.

The property managers for leased housing units may make sure that HOA dues get paid if this cost is simply included in the rent. Still, they need to make certain their tenants don’t violate other rules. For example, there may be guidelines about maintaining lawns, how to handle garbage, behavior in common areas, and so on. It’s prudent to include a clause in the lease about adhering to HOA rules and to make sure that renters know the guidelines.

Get Houston Property Management Here

For affordable Houston Texas Property Management contact Vestpro Residential services today by calling us today at (832) 971-1841 or click here to connect with us online.