May 2017

The 6 Crucial Factors of an Amazing Tenant

[Note: The following is an excerpt from Brandon Turner’s The Book on Managing Rental Properties. To learn more about screening tenants and saving yourself from the heartache of a poorly managed property, be sure to check it out here!]

The most important decision you make that will determine the success or failure of your rental is the person you put in the property. A bad tenant can potentially cause years of stress, headache, and financial loss, while a great tenant can provide years of security, peace, and prosperity. Don’t underestimate the importance of renting to only the best tenants. While it’s not possible to know with 100 percent certainty what type of tenant your applicant will be, there are some telltale signs and traits that will give you a pretty darn good indication that they are great tenant material. Here’s what you should be looking for.

Related: Yikes! My Tenant Just Went to Jail: Here’s How I Handled It

Their Ability to Afford the Rent Payment

The first and foremost quality of a good tenant is their being financially responsible and their ability to afford the rent. Without proper payment, the landlord will be forced to evict and be faced with potentially thousands of dollars’ worth of legal fees, lost rent, and damages. Most landlords require that a tenant’s (documentable) income equal at least three times the monthly rent. Many tenants believe that they can afford more than they really can – so it is the job of the landlord to set the rules to protect their investment. If the tenant is already financially responsible, earning three times the monthly rent should be sufficient.

tenant-screening

Their Willingness to Pay on Time

While some landlords look at late rent as a benefit because of the extra income from the late fee, a late-paying tenant is more likely to stop paying altogether. The stress involved when the rent doesn’t come in is not a pleasant experience and can be avoided by only renting to tenants who have a solid history of paying on time.

The Long-Term Outlook for Their Job Stability

While a tenant may be able to pay the rent and pay it on time right now, their ability to do so in the future is often determined by their job situation. If they are the type to switch jobs often or have long periods of unemployment, you may find long periods of missed rent.

Their Cleanliness and Housekeeping Skills

No tenant stays forever—and when they leave, you want the property back in good condition. As such, it is important that the tenant’s day-to-day living be clean and orderly. They must take good care of the property you have entrusted with them.

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Their Aversion to Crime, Drugs, and Other Illegal Activities

A person who has no regard for the law will also likely have no regard for your policies. Tenants who engage in illegal activities will cause nothing but stress and expense.

Related: 10 Invaluable Lessons I Learned From My Very First Tenant Eviction

The “Stress Quotient”—How Much Stress Will They Cause You?

The final quality of a great tenant is something we call their “stress quotient,” or in other words, the amount of stress a tenant will cause you, the landlord. Some tenants are very high maintenance and constantly demand time and attention. Others simply ignore the terms in their lease and need constant babysitting, reprimanding, and discipline (late fees, notices, phone calls, etc.). This type of tenant will only be a thorn in your side.

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She was a three-unit small apartment located in a great location, with stable tenants, and an ugly paint job. This triplex, which I call “Cherry Street,” was close to becoming the newest addition to my growing rental portfolio, but with Cherry Street I was about to do something I had never done before: start looking at investment property loans.

You see, before Cherry Street, I had only used conventional home mortgages, seller financing, and hard money lenders to invest in real estate. However, Cherry Street was purely a cash flow beast that I was hoping to buy, re-paint (please!) and hold on to for retirement.

However, as I began shopping around for a mortgage, I quickly realized that the process was not going to be the exact same as it had been in the past. What I soon realized was that investment property loans are slightly different than your typical home mortgage in several ways (but similar in several ways as well.) The information below contains a lot of the things I learned in my quest for the best investment property loan, and enabled me to get a great loan, with a great rate, from a great lender. It is my hope that this article does the same for you.

This article is going to look at exactly what a investment property loans are, the difference between and investment loan and a typical mortgage, tips for qualifying for an investment loan, and where to find the best loan for your real estate investment.

What Are Investment Property Loans?

As most readers on BiggerPockets already know, investment properties provide a vehicle that allow you to enjoy the potential for market appreciation while building equity each month. In addition, the monthly cash flow from a real estate investment can provide extra income to your wallet, help you pay down debt faster, or allow you to quit your job and begin living life on your own terms.

However, unless you have all the cash needed for your investment property, a loan is going to be required. Investment property loans can be used for either purchasing an investment property or refinancing an existing investment. Whether you are purchasing or refinancing a single or multi-family home, condo, or shopping mall – getting the best loan is essential to your bottom line. Investment property loans can also be used for real estate development, such as new construction, spec building, or raw land development.

The rate and term that you achieve is going to directly affect your monthly payment, which will affect your monthly cash flow — the life-blood of any real estate investor. We’ll look deeper at both “rate” and “term” in a little while, but first let’s look at the major differences between investment property loans and regular home mortgages.

conventional-loan

There are typically two types of investment property loans:

  • Residential
  • Commercial

Because lending institutions will typically have two completely different departments to deal with these different kind of investment property loans, as well as significantly different qualifying standards, it’s important to know the difference before you go searching for a loan. Let’s look at both those types of investment property loans in greater detail.

Residential Investment Property Loans

Residential loans are designed for properties that provide housing for individuals or families and contain four units or less on the property. These loans more closely follow a typical home mortgage, with similar qualifying standards and processes. These standards include:

  • Debt to Income: Your debt to income ratio is a number used by lenders to determine your ability to pay a certain debt based on how much income you make, typically in a given month. If you have $2000 per month in monthly debts on your credit report, but have an income of $6000 per month – your debt to income would be 33.33%. Debt to income can get a little more complicated than that as well, so for much more thorough information, please see “What Is Debt to Income? 
  • Credit Score: Your credit score is a numerical number applied by three different “credit reporting agencies” and is designed to tell inquirers how you handle credit. On a scale from 300 to 850, you will typically need to have a minimum of 700 to obtain a investment property loan.
  • Loan to Value: The loan to value is another ratio, used by lenders to discover their risk on the property based on how much equity they have in the property if they had to foreclose. The loan to value, as the name suggests, is determined by comparing at the total loan amount to the total fair market value of the property. In the height of the last real estate bubble, many lenders were allowing a borrower to take a loan up to 125% of the value, but today, 70-80% is much more likely on investment properties.
  • Landlord Experience: While previous landlord experience is not a requirement to obtain an investment property loan, it can affect your ability to qualify for a loan. You see, as you attempt to obtain multiple loans for investment properties, your debt to income ratio climbs very quickly, even though that debt is being paid by a tenant. To help increase your income, a bank can add your rental income to your regular monthly income but usually will only do so after you have been a property investor for more than two years – though this requirement can differ greatly between lenders. Keep in mind also – that even with landlord experience, a lender will typically only apply 70-80% of that rental amount toward your income, to protect themselves against losses.

Typically, residential investment loans will extend for up to thirty years and the rate is generally some of the lowest rates you can find, usually between .5% and 1% higher than you’ll obtain for a home mortgage. To check out current rates on investment property loans, be sure to check out the BiggerPockets Mortgage Center.

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Should You Pay for an Expensive Real Estate Education Course?

 

No doubt, you have seen expensive coaching and training programs advertised on late-night television or internet banner ads. Real estate gurus claim to be able to teach you to become filthy rich through real estate investing. Is this real? Can you really learn from these guys?

Let me first explain how this industry works. Typically, this kind of coaching or training involves several “layers,” and as you peel away the layers, the education gets more and more expensive. Let me share the most common layers, so you’ll be able to recognize them in the future.

 

1. The Free Class

You might come across an advertisement on the radio, on television, in your local newspaper, or on your favorite website –something like “free real estate seminar” at a local hotel or conference center. The marketing teams behind these gurus spend a lot of money to drive traffic to these free seminars, hoping to pack the room with wannabe real estate investors.

2. The Hype

In the seminar, the real estate guru creates massive hype around what real estate can do, showing photos of his properties, citing impressive numbers on how much profit he made, and claiming how easy it was. He tells stories of past students who have amassed a fortune from his investing tips. He pushes on all the right pain points about how hard being broke is, how you are not taking care of your family well enough, how you are missing out on life’s luxuries. Then, he pitches hard for you to attend his weekend boot camp, usually for a small yet not insignificant chunk of money, between $200 and $500. After the pitch, he encourages the attendees to run to the back of the room to sign up — and many people do.

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