Categories
DIY

6 Fixes Novice Flippers Should Avoid DIY-ing

When it comes to DIY, “Why pay someone to do it when you can do it yourself?” is what most new flippers would say… at least until they realize how underprepared and underskilled they are for extensive repairs!

Some renovation projects are tough to do as well as a professional would, even with the best of YouTube tutorials. If you’re not qualified to replace roofs, repair electrical systems, fix the plumbing situation, or install new gutters, doing them yourself could lead to costly and dangerous consequences. 

Faulty work leads to spending more time and money trying to fix your mistakes, if you don’t know what you’re doing. Lots of seasoned flippers can do nearly any project themselves, but many more newcomers to the industry try their hand at things above their pay grade and end up regretting it later on.

So if you’re new to the world of DIY, here are six fixes that should be left to the professionals—even if you think you can do it yourself.

Roof Replacement

The fact that we refer to homes as a “roof over our heads” shows how important good roofing is for a home. Nobody wants to buy or live in a house with a damaged roof!

The roof is such a vital part of the infrastructure—you will want to make sure that it’s installed right to not cause any problems in the future. And while many people may think replacing a roof is easy, it really isn’t.

Here are just a few of the complexities you can encounter:

  • The height & pitch of the roof can require special safety equipment.
  • The underlayment is critical, but often done incorrectly.
  • Do you know what drip edge is for?
  • How do you prevent ice dams from causing roof leaks?
  • Unless installed by a licensed professional, most shingle warranties are voided.

Instead, you should hire a professional whose whole job is to replace roofing. Not only will they assess the roof before replacement, but they will also have all the suitable materials and tools for the job, as well as the much-needed experience in construction-related safety issues. A professional roofing company would also have warranties that can save you money in case something goes wrong.

Electrical Repairs

Repairing the electrical system of a home is another dangerous task to DIY.

In your house flipping journey, you might run into older homes with outdated or broken electrical systems. When that happens, you’ll want to spend extra on hiring a professional who has the training and experience to work with electrical currents—especially because they can be deadly when mishandled.

Feel free to install new light bulbs in the home, or to change light fixtures, plugs and switches if you’re a handy person, but anything more complicated than that should be handled by a licensed electrician. Here are the common issues often found in older homes that signal it’s time to call an electrician:

  • Replace electrical panels
  • Replace an exterior riser or the main feed from meter to panel
  • Messing with meters
  • Run underground electrical lines
  • Install a new circuit to an electrical panel

Plumbing Fixes

While improperly installed plumbing fixes aren’t as dangerous as electrical systems, they can seriously set your budget back and eat into your flipping profit. DIY-ing a simple leak might save you a couple of bucks, but if it escalates into a flood, that’s thousands of dollars instantly added to your expenditures. 

Beyond fixing a slightly clogged drain or replacing a new faucet, extensive plumbing repairs and maintenance are best left to the professionals. Here are some plumbing fixes that a professional plumber should do:

  • Replacing underground sewer or water lines
  • Replacing corroded stack or main supply lines
  • Replacing or repairing water heaters, sump pumps, and worn down or burst pipes
  • Running new drain lines, unless you know the exact pitch required by code

Drywall Mudding 

Drywall mudding is more artistic than people think, so it’s tough for non-professionals to do well. You can hang drywall yourself, because unless you totally butcher it it’s fairly uncomplicated to hang, but doing the taping and mudding takes an artistic touch.

Plus, even if you do manage to do your own mudding, it definitely will not be as seamless or aesthetically pleasing as work by a professional company. Ugly drywall is a serious eyesore which could turn buyers off from an otherwise beautiful house, so leave it to the pros.

Structural Repairs

We’ve all seen that part on the DIY home improvement show when the clueless flipper bashes through a load-bearing wall and almost caves the whole house in. 

Don’t be that guy. Structural repairs are one of those things which even pro flippers hire contractors for, because the cost of making a mistake is so high. Stay away from all structural work as a new flipper, including:

  • Bowing walls
  • Cracked floor joists
  • Bowed roof or ceiling
  • Removing walls for an open floor plan (are they load-bearing?)

Fixing or Replacing Heating Systems

Installing the wrong efficiency furnace or replacing with one that’s mismatched with the exhaust system could be fatal, literally.  For an 80% efficiency furnace, you use a particular exhaust, but if it’s 90%+, it’s a totally different exhaust system, which is not compatible with 80%-efficient systems. If someone gets poisoned with carbon monoxide in a home where you worked on the furnace, you’re liable.

The same applies with duct work. There are equations which experts use to calculate the type of ducting required, based on the size of the house, furnace type, distance from furnace, etc. Get it wrong and this could lead to a house that’s not heated well and puts more strain on the furnace, so it wears out faster.

Conclusion

Know your limitations, and you will save thousands of dollars – not to mention headaches! Even if you’re a crafty person who loves to learn new things, there are certain cost-cutting measures you want to avoid when it comes to flipping a home.

So, the next time you want to replace the roof, repair the electric system, fix the plumbing, or install new gutters in the home you’re flipping—grab your phone instead to protect your flipping profit as much as possible.

Image Courtesy of Suntorn Somtong

Categories
Shortterm Rentals

Cleaning Checklist for Every Short-Term Rental Landlord

Image Courtesy of Tirachard Kumtanom

End of stay cleaning can be frustrating for short term rental owners, especially those who manage their properties themselves. It turns out that “clean” is very subjective—what’s clean for one guest is a pigsty for another. And if they’re unhappy with the cleanliness of your property, chances are they’ll be vocal about it in the review they leave you on Airbnb.

To avoid wondering whether the property is clean enough to satisfy even the most particular guests, it’s crucial for landlords to have a cleaning checklist. A cleaning checklist doesn’t only help make sure your property is well-maintained and sparkling clean for the next guest – it also helps you stay on top of any issues or damages that outgoing guests may have caused.

Plus, if you’re hiring professional cleaners, the checklist can serve as a guideline for them to use when cleaning your properties, making sure they’re cleaned to the same high standard for every turnover.

Not sure how to start your checklist?

We’ve put together a general cleaning step-by-step guide that you can alter to fit your needs.

Bathrooms

  1. Clean:
    • Mirrors 
    • Windows
    • Floors and tile walls
    • Wastebaskets (don’t forget to put extra trash bags inside)
  2. Clean and sanitize:
    • Toilet
  3. Clean, sanitize, and scrub:
    • Showers
    • Bathtubs
    • Vanity sinks
    • Backsplashes 
  4. Refill toiletries:
    • Handsoap
    • 2 rolls of toilet paper
    • Makeup wipes or tissue wipes
  5. Replace with clean items:
    • 1 hand towel
    • 1 washcloth
    • 1 bath towel per guest
    • 1 shower mat per bathroom
    • Shower curtain liners (optional)
  6. Check if sinks, tubs, toilets, and faucets are running properly.

Pro tip: We recommend that you tackle one room at a time so you won’t miss out on any of these tasks.

Bedrooms

  1. Change sheets, blankets, and pillowcases.
  2. Vacuum floors, including under the beds.
  3. Check drawers, tables, and closets for personal belongings.
  4. Clean the mirror and windows and dust the furniture.
  5. Check for stains and wear and tear on the sheets and pillowcases.

Pro tip: One cleaning trick is to close the door of the room that you’ve just finished cleaning–this way, you’ll know which rooms still need cleaning and which you’ve already done. Plus, it will stop any wandering pets or people from going inside and messing up the beautiful work you’ve just finished.

Living Room

  1. Clean, dust, and vacuum the entire area.
  2. Dust:
    1. Furniture
    2. Picture frames
    3. Decorations on display
    4. Lamps
  3. Vacuum carpets or wash the floors with specialty cleaners.
  4. Place 2 standard pillows and 1 clean blanket for the sofa bed.
  5. Place the remotes, welcome packet, and other welcome items for the new guest in an easy-to-locate spot (like the center of the coffee table).

Pro tip: When wiping and dusting, the dirt will naturally fall to the lower furniture and the floor. Thus, it’s best to start cleaning from the top and work your way down to the floor.

Kitchen

  1. Clean:
    1. Counters and countertops
    2. Chairs and tables
    3. Sinks and backsplashes
    4. Glass doors and windows (if any)
    5. Appliance exteriors, including the coffee maker and toaster crumb tray (also check if they still work or are malfunctioning in any way)
    6. Inside and outside the refrigerator (and throw away any leftover food)
  2. Empty:
    1. Dishwasher and replace items in the cupboard
    2. Ice tray
  3. Sweep and mop the floor.
  4. Supply:
    1. 2 clean dish towels
    2. New dishrag, sponge, and soap
    3. 2 trash bags
    4. 1 roll of paper towels
    5. 2 dishwashing pods

Pro tip: Start cleaning at the area furthest from the door, and then work your way towards the doorway—this way, you avoid stepping on wet floors and dirtying them again on your way out of the kitchen.

Before Locking Up

  1. Turn off all lights and unplug appliances (except for the refrigerator, aircon, and TV).
  2. Set the thermostat to a temperature that doesn’t keep the unit running.
  3. Place patio sets and other outdoor items inside or in a covered storage area.
  4. Place trash bins by the road.
  5. Ensure that all doors are locked to prevent break-ins.
  6. Make sure cleaning supplies are well stocked.

Deep cleaning

  1. Clean:
    1. Exterior and interior of cabinets
    2. Lamp, lampshades, chrome fixtures, and display items
    3. Stovetop and range hood (and replace filters if necessary)
    4. Dishwasher
    5. Behind and under appliances and furniture
    6. Walls, baseboards, moldings, and tiles (and remove markings, if any)
    7. Door frames, switchplates, and other woodwork (remove any fingerprints or other marks)
    8. Windowsills, ledges, blinds, ceiling and electric fans
  2. Vacuum cushions and upholstered furniture.
  3. Deep sanitize sinks, countertops, and appliances (including oven and microwave).
  4. Wash windows and glass doors.
  5. Change air filters.
  6. Descale faucets and showerheads.
  7. Disinfect all surfaces and contact points.

Pro tip: Aside from the regular cleaning you do on your property between guests, you will also need to do deep cleaning once in a while. Deep cleaning ensures that your entire home is free from dust and dirt, which helps maintain your appliances at maximum efficiency (e.g. air conditioning units).

Conclusion

End of stay cleaning may be complicated and frustrating. But with a checklist that’s customized to your property and needs, it doesn’t have to be!

Checklists instruct professional cleaners how to make your property perfectly presentable for your next guest, and they can also help you make sure you haven’t missed a spot when doing DIY maintenance for your short-term rental. 

Going through after each turnover to make sure every box has been ticked on this list is your best bet at ensuring a 5-star cleanliness rating from every guest you host – and that’s a highly valuable thing to have when it comes to attracting new customers to your STR business.

How do you clean your property between guests? Are there other items that we should include in the checklist?

Categories
Landlords

7 Ways to Attract Newly WFH Tenants

Now that work-from-home is normal, many Americans are planning to move!

The pandemic has shown both employers and employees that remote working is possible, profitable, and preferable. Employers enjoy lower overhead costs, while employees can relocate to areas with a lower cost of living and larger homes.

Don’t believe that work-from-home is really here to stay?

Just check out these statistics from Upwork reports:

  • 1 in 4 Americans said they’ll be working remotely in 2021.
  • The U.S. predicts an influx of 14-23 million remote workers soon.
  • 14-23 million Americans intend to relocate as a result of remote work.
  • 36.2 million Americans (22% of the workforce) will be working remotely by 2025—an 87% increase from the number of remote workers prior to COVID-19.

With so many people planning to relocate, your tenant base can expand beyond the traditional type of applicants you received in the past – like those who work at nearby companies. Tenants can now come from anywhere, work anywhere, and will have priorities that are different from tenants who commute to a job nearby.

As a landlord, you need to know what these remote-working tenants are looking for, so you can tailor your marketing efforts and investment strategy to capture this huge new market.

Let’s look at 7 different ways you can attract them:

1. Offer a Work-Conducive Space

Whether your rental property is a stand-alone house or apartment units in a building, remote workers now prioritize a space for working almost as much as a space for sleeping! They will look for a home that’s well-lit and has a dedicated office space, ideally – perfect for long hours of work.

This could be as simple as a secluded corner where an office table would fit perfectly, or a spare bedroom that’s easily convertible to a home office. Both areas should be ready for additional electrical wiring (e.g., outlets or light sockets) and additional shelves or cabinets. Remember, remote workers will be spending at least 8 hours of their day in whatever working space your home can provide—if you want to attract them, you need to cater to their working needs and make this area as ideal as possible.

2. Advertise Where They Are – Online

With the coronavirus solidifying our dependency on technology, many landlords have already adapted to digital means of advertising. Now, with most applicants finding and even viewing properties online, digital listings have become more important than ever.

In other words, you need to create a killer ad on real estate sites and renting platforms, or else nobody will find you!

Aside from standard details, such as the rental rate and location, you should also highlight parts of your property that will be attractive to remote worker renters. This will vary from property to property.

For apartment units, this may mean laundry services or swimming pools, but the most important thing is to make sure there are stable, fast internet speeds available from providers in your area. It may also mean plenty of nearby businesses, shopping centers and other local amenities, like services to support remote working (print shops, etc.). With proximity to the office becoming a lower priority, having amenities and services near their residence might appeal to tenants more than commuting times in the current environment.

In special cases, you might advertise a home specifically because it gives the off-the-grid appeal. Remote workers finally being able to move away from the city might be on the lookout for a quiet retreat from the hustle and bustle of metropolitan life, so rural and remote rentals might be more in-demand now with WFH tenants.

3. Emphasize Value for Money

One of the biggest reasons why remote workers move is because they want to pay lower rent, and they’re now no longer limited to renting in expensive areas, just to be closer to their office.

Think about this when marketing your rental properties.

For example, if your home is a 3-bed, spacious property in a Class A neighborhood that rents for the same cost as a 1-bedroom apartment in your closest major city, you could say: “2000 sq ft house on ½ an acre (in an award-winning school system), for less than the price of a Chicago apartment!”

Speaking directly to the pain points currently experienced by your tenant base will help make your listing more appealing to them, and could help you stand out from the crowd when marketing to WFH applicants.

4. Provide 3D or Virtual Tours

Because of social distancing rules, travel restrictions, and the risk of infection, many people now avoid visiting properties in-person. Providing virtual tours for prospective tenants will allow them to “visit” your property freely at any time of the day – from anywhere in the country! This makes it easy for remote workers who are planning to relocate to view your property, even if they’re stuck in the middle of a city at the moment.

There are plenty of softwares available on the market that specialize in creating virtual tours for your property. Consider getting a professional to come film and create your virtual or 3D tour, because in some cases, it will be the only point of reference your tenants have before deciding whether or not to rent your property. It’s important to make a great impression with your tour, so spending a little cash on having it done by an expert is well worth it – especially since you’ll be able to re-use the same 3D tour in future years (as long as you don’t do any major renovations).

5. Assure a Contactless Process

Now that remote work is becoming the norm, you (as the landlord) should also consider having a contactless process for managing your rental properties. Not only will this make things easier for you to manage, but it also makes the system safer for your tenants.

Nearly everything in real estate can be done remotely, such as:

  • Self-guided virtual tours
  • Thorough tenant screening
  • Document preparations
  • Securing digital signatures
  • Collecting rent via online portals
  • Delegating, coordinating, and monitoring tasks to contractors

As a bonus, remote worker tenants will most probably have no problems adapting to a digital process – in fact, it’s what they’re used to, at this point! Mention in your listing that you offer these contactless solutions, and it can help attract these tech-savvy tenants.

6. Highlight Health & Safety Measures

Moving during a pandemic can be a scary undertaking, especially if tenants are worried about coming into contact with the virus when they move into their new home.

To give them peace of mind, make sure you thoroughly disinfect the property before move-in day by deep-cleaning the carpets and furniture, mopping floors, wiping down surfaces, and clearing the ventilation systems.

You can hire a professional disinfection service to sterilize the property with UV light, smoke, or cleaning solutions, and even provide a certificate stating when the disinfection took place. Again, highlighting these safety measures in your ads will help reassure applicants who are concerned about transmission.

7. Allow their Pet Companions

According to The Humane Society of the United States, 72% of renters have pets. Now that many people are transitioning to WFH, this number might even increase.

Some tenants who never were able to care for a pet before due to long hours spent out of the house might now decide to get that puppy they’ve always dreamed of, since they’re working from home. Others may be feeling isolated during the lockdown and have only their furry friend to keep them company – so if your rental means giving up their pet companion, it might be a deal-breaker! Allowing pets right now therefore could be an additional way to attract remote workers as tenants.

However, if you don’t want to consider having pets in your rental properties, just be aware that more tenants could be trying to sneak in unauthorized pets now than in previous years – so that’s something to keep an extra-close eye on when inspecting properties.

Conclusion

The best landlords are always on the lookout for the next real estate trends. Remote working is just one of the huge trends that emerged in 2020, but experts are predicting that it’s a trend that will remain in 2021 and beyond.

Because of this, landlords need to make sure their rental properties are primed to attract the huge influx of remote workers who are on the hunt for a new home.

Take advantage of this new opportunity to meet the demands of our ever-changing society—and grow your rental business in the process!

Are you renting out to remote-working tenants? What are the things they tend to look for, in your experience?

Image courtesy of Teryn Elliott

Categories
Landlords

How to Calculate Rental Return: How Much are You Making from Your Rental Property?

How much can you actually expect to make from rental property investments?

This is a great question, and one without a straightforward answer. 

That’s because the amount of rental income you receive from a particular property depends on the financial viability of the deal, as well as how well you manage it. 

In this article, we’ll give you some tips for identifying profitable rental investments, and some rough rules-of-thumb for calculating the potential profitability of a rental property. If you want a better idea of how property management can impact these figures, check out this article. 

Financial Viability

Here are some formulas you can use to help you determine the financial viability of a real estate investment.

Return on Investment (ROI)

ROI is used to measure the performance of an investment by evaluating the expected return relative to a property’s cost.

Add up the cost of acquisition, closing fees, repair costs, and annual expenses. Then, divide your total annual income (from rent) by the sum of your expenses to arrive at your yearly projected ROI. There is no sweeping standard for a “good” ROI, but if we were to aim for a benchmark, you’d want to look for a yearly ROI that’s above 15%. 

Cash-on-Cash Return (CoC)

CoC calculates the yearly returns based on cash income and cash invested. In other words, it measures how much you’ve made on the property in relation to how much you’ve paid for the mortgage.

Get your annual pre-tax cash flow, divide that by the total cash you’ve invested, and you’ll get your CoC return. Expert investors advise aiming for a CoC return that yields around 8% to 12%.

Capitalization Rate (Cap Rate)

Cap rate is the ratio of net income to the property’s acquisition price. There’s no “good” or “bad” cap rate, but it’s great for comparing your return across multiple properties. Here’s a quick guide on how to calculate it:

Get your net operating income (NOI) by taking your gross rental income and deducting every expense you have (excluding financing), like taxes, insurance, water, HOA fees, etc. 

Then, divide your NOI by the current market value, and you’ll get your cap rate. In riskier neighborhoods, 6% probably won’t be worthwhile. But in high-demand, high-quality neighborhoods, 6% could give you an amazing return.

The 1% Rule

Lastly, the 1% Rule is a quick calculation to determine if the monthly rent earned will generate positive cash flow for a property or not. The rule is that the amount grossed through monthly rent should be at least 1% of the final property purchase price (including the cost of any repairs). 

Calculating Profit

Now that you can identify money-making opportunities, the next step is to answer the following questions to calculate the profit you’ll get to keep.

How much rent will I realistically charge?

Start by surveying other rentals in the vicinity to get an estimated rental amount. You can ask a local realtor or property management company for an accurate number, or visit sites like Rentometer.com for a rough estimate.

If you end up with a range, stick to the lower number for a more conservative approach when assessing a deal and making your other calculations.

How do I know what the expenses will be?

When calculating your profit, you must add up all the expenses, including property tax, insurance, property management, and possible vacancies. Assume that these expenses will cost roughly 40% of your rental income. 

While it may sound like a lot, this figure is actually a conservative estimate and doesn’t cover any serious renovations or overhauls that a property might need.

What about the other 60%? 

If you took out a mortgage on the property, the mortgage payments will be covered by the other 60% of your rental income. This means you should only secure loans with monthly payments which total less than 60% of your estimated revenue from rent.

What happens to the remaining money?

Whatever is left over will be your profit. However, this is also what the government will charge taxes on. The taxes you pay on this income are not included in the property tax you pay annually. 

There are ways to lower your taxes as a real estate investor, but for this article, just remember to budget for paying both income and property taxes when calculating your potential profits.

Conclusion

How much can you earn from rental properties? How do you know if a rental investment is worth it? 

Just answer these two questions:

  • Is the investment you’re eyeing a profitable opportunity?
  • How much can you earn from renting out the property?

If the property passes all these common metrics with flying colors and earns you the rental income you’re looking for—you’ve just found a profitable rental property to invest in.

Image courtesy of David McBee