Categories
Flipping

How to Get a Loan for Flipping Houses

Flipping houses can be a lucrative business. However, it takes a large amount of money to acquire, fix up, and sell properties quickly!

In fact, flipping houses takes more money than you’d think. On top of the acquisition cost, you still have to pay for the renovations, taxes, utilities, and homeowner’s insurance from the time you acquire it until the time you sell.

If you’ve realized that, and are looking for a way to finance a flip—you’ve come to the right place.

Off the bat, you should know that the process for securing loans for flipping is different versus getting a loan for a home to live in or rent out. You can’t go to traditional mortgage lenders, because many don’t loan money for fix-and-flip projects.

Instead, you’ll go typically through a hard money lender (HML) or private real estate lender. These money lenders loan money with the intent of getting repaid quickly (and charge much higher interest rates), so they are often used for flipping houses.

Up for the challenge? Read on to know how to secure the loan you need to finance your flip.

How loans for flipping houses work

Most loans for flipping houses come in 6-18-month terms, with 12-month fix-and-flip loans being the most common.

Some loans have an initial term with an option to extend. These are generally interest-only balloon payment loans with a fixed interest rate. So, if you get a 12-month loan, you’ll make monthly interest payments for a year before paying the entire principal balance at the end.

In some cases, lenders offer investors the option of not making any payments initially, then just repaying the principal with accumulated interest at the end of the term.

Loans for house flipping cover the entire project—property acquisition and renovation included. The maximum loan amount is calculated in two ways:

  • Loan-to-Cost (LTC): A percentage of the project’s anticipated cost, where the estimated loan amount is divided by the total acquisition, construction, and renovation costs
  • Loan-to-Value (LTV): A percentage of the property’s expected market value after project completion

The decision isn’t up to you, as lenders will default to whatever the smaller loan amount between the two.

How you can qualify for a house-flipping loan

While applying for a traditional mortgage mainly relies on your own ability to repay the loan, applying for fix-and-flip loans is more focused on the property itself and your business plan for it.

You need to justify the loan with a satisfying after-repair value (ARV) and show a realistic renovation budget and timeline. In other words, for house-flipping loans, the lender puts more importance to the LTC and LTV than your income and personal assets.

Where to look for lenders

Ready to take the plunge? Here are some of the places you can find funding for your house flip.

Websites

There are plenty of places to find HMLs online, like Lima One Capital and LendingHome (NOTE: we are not endorsing any of these lenders!).

Lima One Capital works with flippers and will lend up to 90% of LTC or up to 75% of LTV, with the fees and interest rates decreasing with a borrower’s flipping experience.

On the other hand, LendingHome offers house flipping loans for up to 90% of the purchase price and 100% of renovation costs, with just a couple of fees and requirements. Their interest rates range from 7.5% to 12%, and the company holds back repayments until after the renovations are complete.

Private lenders

Compared to HMLs, private lenders may be more open to negotiating payment terms or even become a partner on the deal—taking a share of the profits instead of charging interest. They often charge 8-12%, plus 0-2 points, compared to a HML’s 12-15% with 2-5 points.

You can seek out private lenders in real estate networking events— just be confident in approaching and negotiating. You can also find them online, just like HMLs. You can try direct mailing those you find in data broker websites or posting about your project in websites such as BiggerPockets, LendingClub, or LendPost.

Crowdfunding

You can crowdfund, but there are many legal conditions. Just be aware of state and federal rules. For example, you can’t advertise. They are also strict with reporting—you have to report the right information and structure your dealings properly.

Despite these roadblocks, it’s completely possible to crowdfund a flip. Plus, crowdfunding has been a strategy for decades, although in a different form. Before online crowdfunding websites became popular, people simply combined investor money into an entity (such as an LLC).

Conclusion

If you want to flip houses but don’t have enough money—or if you want to protect your savings—there are plenty of ways for you to get a fix-and-flip loan. These funding options can give you the financial boost you need to achieve your house-flipping dreams!

Remember that fix-and-flip loans are often more expensive than traditional mortgage financing, as there are higher risks involved for the lender. However, outsourcing your funding allows you to get started in the flipping business with little capital and gives you the ability to flip more properties simultaneously to increase your overall profits.

Imagew courtesy of Anastasia Shuraeva

Categories
Landlords

How to Market your Rentals Online: Screen Appeal and Listing on Digital Platforms

From digital walk-throughs to Zoom tenant interviews, real estate marketing has officially transitioned to digital in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Virtual showing techniques aren’t new, but COVID-19 has certainly pushed the industry to adapt as a necessity. Landlords that didn’t have videos of their properties pre-COVID are now rushing to create virtual tours and trying virtual staging methods.

At this pace, digital marketing will fast become an integral and permanent part of real estate marketing before we realize it!

What does this mean for landlords?

Prospective renters are now viewing and shortlisting properties from their screens, making “screen appeal” a crucial factor to promote your rental property. You want your offer to stand out where the prospective tenants are: online.

In this article, we’ll go through the ways to increase your property’s screen appeal, write an effective ad online, and list your properties where tenants are most likely to find them.

Increase screen appeal with noticeable features

First, you need to make your rental look impressive in photos. To do this, invest in features that will stand out in photos—even if the prospect browses on their tiny phone screens.

These are the things that will make a huge difference in digital listings:

  1. Sparkling kitchens with shiny appliances, glossy countertops, and newly-painted walls and cupboards
  2. Spotless bathrooms with new showerheads, clean mirrors, and re-grouted tiles
  3. Fresh blinds and curtains without any mold or grime that are updated to fit the aesthetic of the property
  4. Blemish-free walls freshly painted with a color that makes the room look bigger, brighter, and homier
  5. Brand-new fixtures everywhere—from light switches to faucets to doorknobs and fly screens
  6. Clean carpets that even look like they smell great
  7. Bright lights in every room to make the rental property feel new, and more importantly, show that you’re confident enough to put everything in the spotlight

Make sure that you use a camera that does your rental justice! None of the spectacular features you updated and cleaned will be seen if you use the front camera of your beat-up phone. If you need to hire a photographer for decent equipment, it’s worth the one-time payment to get a lifetime of great photos for your listing.

Write an effective ad that highlights relevant details

Once you’ve updated your rentals with photogenic features, you need to post them on digital platforms. But what do you say? How do you write an effective ad that attracts your tenant pool?

Here are the important factors to focus on:

  1. Write a great headline. Rentalutions’ formula suggests including the key information tenants look for (e.g., number of rooms or location) plus one feature that makes your rental unique.
  2. Use professional word choices that add value to your listing, as long as they’re an accurate description of your property. You want to avoid generic words such as “great” and “nice”, instead, choose words like: upgraded, spacious, tasteful, landscaped, modern, luxurious, and charming.
  3. Add more information on the key features. Knowing what tenants want (as you should), make sure to highlight these features in your ad. Are you expecting to attract tenants who put importance on parking spaces, walkability, nearby supermarkets, or proximity to a great school? Your copy should indicate that.
  4. Add detailed property descriptions. Similarly, also indicate what the tenants will want from the property itself. How many rooms, floors, and bathrooms? Will they be attracted to a lush backyard or extra storage areas? Flesh out all of the important details to attract tenants.

Lastly, prove what you said with great photos!When you use great photos to compliment everything that you verbally promoted on your listing, your screen appeal will skyrocket. This is where the prospective tenants should go “Wow! They weren’t kidding!”

List your rental on industry-popular websites

Armed with your impressive photos and well-written ad content, it’s time to post your listing where it matters. Most people are baffled by how many options there are to list online, especially since there isn’t a one-stop-shop solution that posts to all the rental listing sites.

Zillow—the favorite of most landlords—allows you to create detailed listings that they’ll syndicate out to 26 partner sites (including Trulia, Hotpads, and MSN Real Estate), but it still doesn’t cover all of the sites available.

To get started, check these sites that are known to be effective and user-friendly:

  1. Zillow
  2. Trulia
  3. Hotpads
  4. Craigslist
  5. Facebook

Apart from those, you can also consider these lesser-known platforms:

  1. Apartments.com
  2. Apartment Finder
  3. Apartment Guide
  4. Apartment Home Living
  5. Apartment List
  6. Backpage
  7. Byowner.com
  8. Cozy
  9. Doorsteps
  10. Move
  11. My New Place
  12. Nextdoor.com
  13. Oodle
  14. Realrentals.com
  15. Realtor.com
  16. Rent.com
  17. Rentals.com
  18. Rentdigs.com
  19. Rentlinx
  20. Saletraderent.com
  21. Sublet.com
  22. Walk Score
  23. Zumper

All of these websites allow you to post for free. You just need to do some research and decide which platform enables you to attract the tenants that you want. For more details on the sites we mentioned above, check Smart Move and Landlordology.

Conclusion

Technological development waits for no one. In order to keep up and remain competitive in the rental property business, it’s time to level up with online marketing!

The steps are easy enough—simply increase your property’s screen appeal, write an effective ad describing the best parts of your property, and list them on websites where tenants are likely to browse for new homes.

Any other tips on how to market rentals online? Where are your rentals listed so far?

Image courtesy of Andrea Piacquadio

Categories
Shortterm Rentals

Short vs. Medium vs. Long-term Rentals: Which is Best?

The kind of rental model you choose directly relates to your overall real estate investment goals – like how much time and energy you want to put into managing your properties. Generally, short-term rentals (like Airbnbs and VRBOs) offer high-profit margins with sporadic high-maintenance costs, while medium- and long-term rentals offer a more stable revenue stream, while also requiring more regular maintenance works.

Between short, medium, and long-term rental models, are you wondering which you should focus on? We’ve laid out the pros and cons of each, so you can make an informed business decision that fits with your goals for rental investing.

What’s the difference between short vs. medium vs. long-term rentals?

Each rental model – short, medium, and long-term rentals – has its own benefits and risks. You should know what those points are before deciding which to go for, so you can choose the one that best compliments your investment purpose and strategy.

Short-term rentals (STRs) 

Short-term rentals have guests that usually stay for around 3-7 days. These rentals are often called “vacation rentals” because they often cater to travelers. Compared to hotels, STRs are often cheaper, more spacious, and provide a homey atmosphere—making them much more attractive to many business travelers and tourists. 

STRs fit investors who prioritize business flexibility over stability. Cash flow is fast and substantial, but it’s also inconsistent and requires a lot of leg work. Nevertheless, STRs can be lucrative with the right marketing, location, and season.

Pros:

  • STRs tend to charge a higher rent amount at $184/night.
  • There is flexibility in having guests only stay for a couple of days at a time. There is also the flexibility to charge different rent prices, depending on the season or demand.

Cons:

  • There’s a lower occupancy rate at 87%.
  • STRs require around 30-40 hours of work/month (PER PROPERTY). You need to reply to messages, give and receive keys from guests, clean up the units, deal with demanding guests, and more.
  • There are stricter rental laws in some cities. Some have banned short-term rentals (like Airbnbs) altogether, or limited the number allowed to operate within a given area.
  • Vacation rentals are hit harder by economic downturns. For example, in the state of Michigan, STRs were banned during the height of the pandemic. Nowadays, STRs are allowed to operate again, but potential government restrictions are something to keep in mind for the future. 
  • Both income and business tax are required for STRs.

Medium-term rentals (MTRs) 

Medium-term rentals have tenants that typically rent on a weekly or monthly basis, and often they take the form of a boarding house or mid-term rental apartment complex. This model is also called the “month-to-month” rental model and is the least popular among the three.

MTRs may seem to have the best of both STRs and LTRs, but it also comes with some challenges:

Pros:

  • The occupancy rate is closer to 87%, which is almost the same as STRs, but with longer-term tenants.
  • The number of hours required to manage MTRs monthly is significantly lower than with STRs. 
  • MTRs are subject to standard landlord-tenant laws. 
  • Only income tax is required (business tax is not needed). 

Cons:

  • MTRs charge an average rent of $952 per week (or $136/night)—which is 28% higher than long-term rentals, but still 35% lower than STRs.
  • The turnover rate for MTRs is better than STRs, but still higher than long-term rentals. You’ll still need to do a lot of marketing for these, as your tenants only stay for roughly a month at a time.
  • Marketing is more difficult, as there aren’t many channels that focus on MTRs compared to the other two models.

Long-term rentals (LTRs) 

Long-term rentals have tenants that live in the property for 1+ years. Most rental properties in the real estate market are long-term rentals.

LTRs are a commitment both for landlords and tenants. Despite that, this rental model is favored by most in the real estate industry, as it offers landlords and investors a stable, steady rental income with minimal turnovers. Main responsibilities include property maintenance and dealing with tenants—both of which can be done by property management companies. 

Pros:

  • The occupancy rate of LTRs is very high at 95%. 
  • The work needed to manage and maintain LTRs can be as little as an hour/month. However, it should be said that the work hours required depends on how big your portfolio is—many landlords have more than a couple of LTRs. As their portfolio expands, most will consider hiring a property management company.
  • The turnover rate for LTRs is significantly lower than STRs and MTRs.
  • LTRs are subject to standard landlord-tenant laws.
  • Only income tax is required (business tax is not needed). 

Cons:

  • This may vary greatly from location to location, but LTRs generally earn less than STRs and MTRs. LTRs charge an average rent of $98/night or $3k/month. 
  • You can’t increase your rent amount seasonally, as you can with STRs.

Conclusion

We hope this guide helps you figure out which rental model to choose. Each of them has its pros and cons—the decision wholly depends on what you want to prioritize in rental property investing.

Which model have you applied to your portfolio? Any tips you’d like to give for those who are starting out?

Image courtesy of Andrea Piacquadio

Categories
Uncategorized

Decorating Your Rental: How To Attract More Customers To Your Short-Term Rental Properties

Compared to long-term rentals, short-term rentals are constantly in flux. STRs generally don’t have tenants that stay long—it’s mostly vacationers and travelers who stay for a few days max.

The fast turnover makes marketing all the more important for STRs. You need to keep attracting guests, ensuring that your rental is occupied as often as possible to maximize profits. 

What’s the secret to attention-grabbing marketing? Great photos of a great-looking rental. 

A well-decorated rental gives a great first impression. Good design choices also make the space feel more comfortable and functional. The rental should feel just like home—only better! 

So, how do you decorate your rental to get the customers you want?

How to decorate your rental

Decorating is more than arranging flowers or hanging picture frames. Designing your rental to attract more guests requires strategy

Here’s what you need to do when developing an interior design plan for your STR.

Step 1: Know your guests.

In order to know how to impress your “customers” or potential guests, you need to know who they are and why they’re visiting the area. This will help you decorate your rental according to their needs and tastes.

The following information can provide a lot of insight:

  • Age range
  • Gender
  • Hometown (where they’re from)
  • General interests
  • Purpose of their stay

For example, teenage guys from California who want to hike a nearby mountain will have extremely different design preferences over families who are visiting for the weekend. 

The former may prefer cool gadgets, a more nature-focused design, and plenty of cold water at the ready. The latter, on the other hand, may prioritize clean, spacious, and baby-proof spaces. 

Step 2: Find updated, modern inspiration.

You have to make your STR look fresh and new. Nobody wants to rent a place that feels like it hasn’t been occupied (or redesigned) since before the millennium. 

Search online for inspiration. The following sites are goldmines for decorating ideas:

  • Pinterest
  • Instagram
  • Furniture catalogs (e.g. IKEA catalogs)
  • Google search

If you have a friend with an eye for design, you can also ask them for advice on how to spruce up your STR to make it more modern!

Step 3: Check out your competitors.

The easiest way to impress people is to be better than your competitors.

Take a look at the other STRs and hotels in your area, paying more attention to particularly popular listings. Look at their reviews online and on-the-ground. 

From there, all you have to do is make sure that your STR is equal to (or better than) the rest. And avoid what under-performing rentals are doing! 

If you find that most of your target tenants prefer warm lights, thick curtains, and a large TV set, incorporate those elements into your design. Even better, figure out why those designs appeal to guests more, and use that to guide your design choices. 

Conclusion

Most people want to stay in pleasant-looking accommodation—where they stay is just as much part of the vacation as the rest of the trip! With great decor, your STR will stand-out from the countless other options online.

Know your target audience, find design inspiration, and level-up your STR against its competitors. If you make your STR look impressive, you’ll have no problem attracting guests and increasing your revenue.

Got more tips on great decor? How do you decide what to put in your STR?

As the pandemic is still on-going, visit our article on how to attract guests during COVID as well. There, we shared our advice on attracting guests with safety and cleanliness as a highlighted feature.

Image courtesy of Ksenia Chernaya