November 2014

Tenant Turnover DIY

It smelled like Bigfoot’s cave.

Okay, that’s being generous… it smelled like Bigfoot’s tomb.

Not only was the smell so bad that every dog within a 16 block radius was cowering in fear, but the appearance wasn’t much better. Holes in the wall and doors, destroyed carpet, broken light fixtures, disgusting appliances.

If you’ve been a landlord for any period of time, you probably know exactly what I’m talking about. If not… don’t worry, you will. No matter how well we screen for the perfect tenant (seeTenant Screening: The Ultimate Guide) you may still have a problem. Recently, for me, it was a tenant we “inherited” when we bought the property and were forced to evict.

Perhaps you have a lot of money and can simply hire a contractor to come in and total remodel the place. Maybe you have a property manager who will take care of the problem.

Great!

However, that’s not me (yet) and I often find myself with a hammer and bleach after a nasty tenant turnover. It’s not that I like doing it, but when contractor bids are coming in around $10,000 to get the property turned over, I can’t help but get in there and do what I can to save some money. (I know, I know… a lot of you are cringing at that, saying my time is better spent finding deals. Perhaps that’s a debate for another day…)

Therefore, this article is for the DIY landlords out there, those just starting out, and those who just want to save money and fix problems themselves. The following are 8 tips that I use to get my rental properties fixed up and rented back out quickly. Keep in mind – I’m not saying this is exactly how you should do it, I’m just letting you know how I do it. Perhaps there is a tip or two in here you can use to save a few bucks on your next tenant turnover.

1.) Consider Hiring Out The Worst

(Click to read on BiggerPockets…)

Investing in American Real Estate While Serving in the US Military

I have a lot of respect for the men and women in our armed services.

Each day, while I’m out there picking up rent, recording an episode of the BiggerPockets Podcast, or watching the latest episode of The Walking Dead – they are working to ensure I can continue living this lifestyle in peace.  So before I move on: if that is you – let my just say a very sincere “Thank You.”

This guide is meant to serve as a starting place for those looking to invest in real estate while serving in the US Military. Just to be 100% clear – I’ve never served in the military, so only writing from the perspective of one who has a pretty good view of the US investing world and enjoys explaining things!

Obviously, there are numerous branches of the military, as well as numerous different jobs, duties, responsibilities, pay scales, and locations for those serving. You might be located within the States, or you may be serving abroad. You may have a family, or you may be living alone. Maybe you are full time, or perhaps you are a “weekend warrior.”  Maybe you’ve been in the military for years and make a great salary, or maybe you are fresh out of boot camp.

The possibilities are endless – therefore, I will not attempt to say “This is exactly how you should start investing.” This would be pointless – every investing strategy should be designed around the place where your abilities, your finances, and your goals meet.

(click to continue reading on BiggerPockets)

“There’s a hole in the bucket, dear Liza, dear Liza,
There’s a hole in the bucket, dear Liza, a hole.”
- Traditional German Children’s Song

No one likes to lose money.

Whether at the poker table, the supermarket, or investing in real estate – it just sucks.

However, if you are a landlord you are probably losing real money every single month and you don’t even know it. Or maybe you do know it and are just ignoring it, hoping no one reminds you (sorry!)

So today I’m going to share the top three ways landlords are throwing money away – and offer some tips on how you can reverse the problem.

1. Not Raising ..  (Click to read on BiggerPockets…)

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Newbies: These 11 Words Will Give You All The Motivation You’ll Ever Need to Get Started…

“A year from now, you will wish you had started today.”

That’s it.

Those eleven words should be enough to rock you into action.

Did they?

You don’t need a guy on stage telling you about the millions you will make. You don’t need the informercial with the shiny red convertible and the pretty ladies.  You don’t need another book, another course, another mentor.

You need to get off the couch and do something.

After all, a year from now, you’ll wish you’d started today. (Yes, go ahead and Tweet That.)

Let’s look at this another way…

Think back on your life one year ago.

What if you had started then?

(click to continue reading on BiggerPockets)

13 Great Rules Landlords

I’d like to convince myself that it’s not my fault… but I’m a terrible liar.

It is my fault.

At least 99% of the time.

I’m talking about my landlord problems. We all have them and 99% of the time it’s because I don’t follow “the rules.”

When we are children, we believe our parents set up rules just to be mean, but as we grow, we realize those rules are fundamental in keeping us safe and progressing properly through life.

The same applies for the “landlord rules.”

They matter, and they are there for a reason.

When I follow the rules, things generally go well. When I deviate from my rules, and decide to do my own thing… well, things go down hill fast.  I get crazy stressed, my wife and I start arguing, I don’t get to watch “House of Cards” with my sweetheart, and I go to bed hungry.

And somewhere a puppy is crying.

It’s not fun.

So today I decided to write down “the rules” in hopes that I won’t break them as often.  When I look back on the problems I’ve faced in the past few years, nearly every major incident could have been avoided or better managed had I simply stuck to the rules.

Hopefully this list will help you as well.

If you notice any item on this list I forgot to include, do me a favor and add it in the comments at the bottom. Let’s get this list up to 100. Maybe more.  Then maybe landlords, as a whole, won’t make so many mistakes.

With that, I give you:

13 Rules Great Landlords (Almost) Never Break

(click to continue reading on BiggerPockets)

Find Cheap Houses For Sale

“Cheap.”

That’s what I told my agent when she asked me what kind of house I was interested in buying.

I was 21 years old and looking for my first home;  I knew nothing about real estate, but I knew one thing: I wanted to buy a cheap house. At the time I was making barely over minimum wage so I wasn’t buying a cheap home because it fit into some master investment scheme… I wanted a cheap house because it fit in with my budget.

Can you identify with that?

I got lucky on my first deal and found a great, cheap home that I was able to fix up slightly and sell for substantially more money a year later.  Since then, I’ve learned that whether you are shopping for your own personal home or for a house to flip or rent outfinding cheap houses for sale in your market is imperative to securing your financial future. However, depending on what part of the country you live in, this might be difficult with the increasing competition in the real estate space.

How you define “cheap” is obviously relative, but this guide should give you a starting point for finding the lowest-priced houses in your neck of the woods.

(Should you actually buy cheap houses? That’s an important question, but not the subject of this article. Be sure to check out Ben Leybovich’s great post from yesterday called “Newbies Take Note: Why You Shouldn’t Buy Houses for $30,000” to jump into that debate!)

Let’s get started.

Ten Tips to Find Cheap Houses For Sale

(Click to read on BiggerPockets…)

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