Categories
Shortterm Rentals

How to Market a Short-Term Rental in Metro Detroit

Got a property in Metro Detroit that you want to rent out short-term, but don’t know how best to market it?

In Michigan, short-term rentals were banned during the height of the pandemic to help contain the spread of the virus. However, now businesses have almost fully reopened, and STRs are allowed to operate again. People are still wary of travel, but short-term rentals are seen as a safer alternative to crowded hotels for many, and this demand is helping steadily revive the industry as a whole.

Aside from that, the City of Detroit is still keen on limiting STRs that are not owner-occupied.

This gives short-term rental owners in the Ring Cities (the cities surrounding Detroit) an edge. If the ordinance passes, travelers expecting to book an Airbnb in the city center will now have to choose between hotels or shared STRs within Detroit, or look beyond it to the Ring Cities.

So, along with the growing tourism of the general metropolitan area, it’s no wonder that many have chosen to invest in Metro Detroit STRs. But how can you make your property stand out from the competition, and encourage guests to book?

  1. Know the Rules in Your City

Just a few days ago, the city of Ann Arbor banned short-term rentals, except for shared listings where the owner-occupier will be staying in the house alongside their guests. If you want to rent your whole house out in Ann Arbor after March 2021, you can now only do so for a short period, and all STRs need to be licensed by the city. 

Ordinances like this are being passed all the time, so make sure your city allows Airbnbs, and that you fulfill any licensing requirements before marketing your unit. 

  1. Know Your Audience

The first step in any business is knowing who your core audience is, and what they want. Are you catering to families, staycationers, business travelers, out-of-towners, or young people? Know what’s in your specific area, and you’ll start to understand who would want to stay there because of those amenities. Most STRs attract a mix of different demographics, but some will be stronger contenders for your property than others – so don’t try to sell your listing to businesspeople if you’re not near good travel links.

Next, think of what your audience wants. Right now, that will almost certainly include some added assurances regarding property cleaning and disinfection between visitors. Airbnb has come out with their own set of enhanced cleaning protocols, and if hosts follow these guidelines, they’ll earn an additional badge on their profile showing guests that they’re dedicated to health and safety. Something like this shows you’re reacting to your customer’s wants and fears, and may prompt them to choose your place over another similar property on offer. 

  1. Use Great Photos 

Did you know that the success of Airbnb is mostly due to the quality of their photos? The company, now worth $2 billion, began with two guys renting out a couple of air mattresses to guests, out of necessity, to pay their own rent. They expanded to letting other people rent out spaces in their homes on an online platform, but found that hosts were taking poor-quality photos that didn’t entice anyone to book. So Airbnb called up a professional photographer and had them take quality photos of the properties. Right away, they saw bookings increase by 2-3x, and had doubled their revenues by the end of the month. 

The moral of the story? It’s worth the extra buck to hire a freelance photographer (or ask your tech-savvy nephew) to take quality photos for you. Guests will judge your property and base their decision mainly on the images you post, so it’s important to get these right. It doesn’t cost much to hire a freelancer online for an hour or two, and it’s an investment that you can recoup in just a few bookings. 

If you’re already a great photographer, then the next time the sunset is just right or your house is covered in a perfect layer of snow – get out your camera! A special photo like this will help your listing stand out from the rest, and help guests imagine having their perfect getaway in your place.

  1. Write an Engaging, Easy-to-Read Description

To compliment your great photos, also have a property description that accurately and attractively explains what you’re offering. The first step is to have a great title for your listing that gets across your property’s unique selling point(s). For example, if your unit is close to important landmarks or can accommodate a lot more people than other properties in the area, highlight this in your title, e.g. “5 mins from hospital, sleeps up to 12”. 

Since most people will just scan through the body of your description quickly, use short paragraphs or bulleted lists to highlight relevant features to your core audience. Avoid using too many superfluous words, and focus on the things people need or want to know. Here are some examples:

Need to know:

  • If some parts of the property are only accessible by stairs
  • If any pets live at the property usually (for those with allergies)
  • Any important house rules

Want to know

  • Travel distances to local attractions and amenities
  • How the windows in the bedroom overlook a lake
  • Special cleaning measures during the pandemic
  1. Stand Out with Little Details & Extras

The little details make a big difference when it comes to short-term rentals. Guests want to experience staying in a temporary home that’s cuter or cooler than their own. Just a few throw pillows, some candles, a couple of paintings from your local bargain store, and some small decorative touches can elevate your place 4 stars to 5. It’s all about adding finishing touches that will help you stand out from the competition.

When it comes to deciding on those little extras that entice bookings (and encourage great reviews), use the competitors around you to your advantage. Do some research on what they offer: free Netflix, gourmet coffee, fluffy bathrobes? Compare their extras to yours, and see where you can outdo them. These details might be small, but they play a big part when people browse through multiple options – especially when you have a unit that’s very similar to others. 

  1. Validate Your Offer with Good Reviews

Reviews have become a significant decision-making driver in the STR market, with 90% of people checking reviews first because proceeding with their booking. Getting good reviews from past guests will therefore either make or break your listing. A great listing could be significantly damaged just by one negative review, while similarly, a positive review could do wonders for your occupancy rate. It’s “word-of-mouth marketing,” but in digital form!

So, how do you get good reviews? Kill your guests with kindness. Be readily available to assist them throughout their stay, create a folder that details all your favorite restaurants and tourist spots nearby, and go above-and-beyond with those little extras, like leaving a welcome basket with wine, snacks, or hand soaps which guests can take home with them as a souvenir. 

Another reason why reviews are critical is that they are a direct reflection of customer satisfaction; therefore, they can help you figure out what your core audience expects from you. Take the time to read both negative and positive feedback, then use it to improve your offer and engage with your guests. Just never argue or get angry with former guests in the comments, even if they leave a bad review, as this can harm your reputation as a host and drive away potential customers.

Apply these 6 tips and prepare yourself for a flood of guests! 

Right now is an optimal time for STR owners to grow their business in the Metro Detroit area. It may not be as developed as other areas, like Chicago, but the industry was growing before the pandemic and will likely keep growing once the new normal gets in full swing. 

Just remember to keep an eye out for ordinances regulating STRs in your area, so you can adjust your strategy if needed to remain competitive.

Any short-term rental marketing tips we’ve missed? Share your thoughts below! 

Image Courtesy of Andrea Piacquadio

Categories
Landlords

Should You Allow Tenants with Pets?

Pet-owners are everywhere in the U.S., where roughly 68% of households have a cat or a dog. Yet a recent survey by Avail showed that only 55% of landlords allow pets in their properties. 

Even if you’re a pet-lover yourself, you may be hesitant to allow pets into your rental properties. This is understandable – but are there situations in which it’s okay to allow tenants with pets?

First, let’s consider the pros and cons of allowing pets in your rental:

Cons:

  • Hard-to-eliminate pet odors
  • Noise from barking, etc.
  • Pet-related damage to your property
  • Possible physical injury or accidents involving neighbors, guests or yourself 
  • Remnants of allergens (saliva and fur) that get in the air ducts, carpet, etc.
  • Fleas and other pests

Pros:

  • Increase in size of tenant base
  • Higher rental rates or fees
  • Possibility of tenants signing longer leases due to limited pet-friendly rental options
  • If you allow pets, there are fewer chances of tenants smuggling them without permission 

At the end of the day, it’s up to you whether you’re willing to accept pets in your rentals. But if you do, here are some guidelines for safeguarding your properties:

Decide What You’ll Allow

Pets come in all shapes and sizes: dogs, cats, birds, fish, rabbits, gerbils, small-scale reptiles, etc., and some have a much higher potential for causing damage than others. So decide which types of animals you’re willing to allow, as well as the number of each and the total number of pets permitted. Will you allow more than one dog? How many cats? Would ten guinea pigs be too much? Put all of this in your lease agreement, as well as: 

  • A statement that allows you to forcibly remove any pet that becomes aggressive or dangerous. 
  • A clause that gives you the power to change your rules on pets, if it’s done with a proper notice period (in case you decide not to allow pets in your properties anymore).
  • The consequences for violation of these rules, like additional fees or eviction.
  • Lastly, you should have a “pet addendum” attached to the lease. This includes specific details about the pet that you are allowing in the rental, and states that any other animal that isn’t registered in the lease is considered an illegal occupant and a breach of contract. If they get an additional dog or replace a previous pet that passed away, they need to have their new pet cleared and registered again. 

And make sure it’s clear what you expect from the pet owner in terms of responsibility for taking care of their animal. So also consider adding these provisions to the lease or pet addendum:

  • They must keep up with the required shots, licenses, and tags for the pet.
  • They must register any pet with you, the landlord, prior to taking them in.
  • They must resolve and pay for any harm done to anybody or anything by the pet.
  • They must take care for and clean up after the pet on a daily basis.
  • When outside, they must keep the pets on a leash or in a cage (depending on the animal).
  • They must acquire insurance with liability coverage for their animal.

Check Your Insurance and Liability 

Check the coverage of your insurance policy before considering tenants with pets. What is the amount of liability coverage in the policy? Are there any limitations, exclusions, or requirements for this coverage? Will they use the list of “dangerous breeds” as a basis for breeds that aren’t included in the insurance?

Charge Additional Fees

Since there is more risk involved when renting to pet owners, you can either add a pet fee on top of the monthly rent, or simply increase the monthly rental fee. Some landlords charge anywhere from $25-$100 per month, per pet, on top of the rent, and they also sometimes charge a pet processing fee (up to $500) when screening applicants with furry friends. Just be careful not to charge anything for emotional support animals. 

Some states also allow you to collect a separate security deposit, called a “pet deposit.” In some states, there is the option to make the pet deposit non-refundable. However, there are states, like Michigan, where the maximum security deposit is only two months’ rent. You need to know the maximum allowable amount of your state and evaluate if this will be enough to cover for pet-related damages which could occur in your property. 

Decide Case-by-Case

Just like any other tenant, make sure you screen the tenant’s background thoroughly. Apart from their financial and credit history, also check their references and ask about their experience with how the tenant managed their pet. Not all pet owners are equally well-trained and equipped to look after their pets!

When interviewing them, make sure you ask: 

  • Does the pet have the proper vaccinations and licenses? Is it neutered or spayed?
  • What breed and how old is the pet?
  • Has the pet ever caused damage to items or bitten anyone?
  • Who will be responsible for caring for the pet?
  • How do they plan to take care of the pet on a daily basis?
  • What is their occupation? (A doctor would have to leave their pets unattended for longer hours than a stay-at-home mom would)
  • Who will care for the pet when they’re not home?

You should also request a recent photo of the animal to keep for your records, and can even ask to meet the pet in person prior to approving their application. 

So, now that the risks, benefits, and processes for allowing tenants with pets have been laid out, it’s your time to make the decision. Will you open your doors to the pet-loving community? 

As a final thought, be mindful that a Fair Housing Law protects disabled people who need an animal for their emotional wellbeing and/or physical safety. The term “disabled” now includes not only the blind or paralyzed, but also those with clinical depression and post-traumatic stress. You can request a note from their physician to verify their condition and need for animal assistance to keep things documented. 

Do you allow pets in your rentals? Why or why not? 

Image Courtesy of Dominika Roseclay

Categories
Landlords

Overview of the Student Rental Market in Metro Detroit

Student tenants can rent anywhere. They don’t always choose to live in student housing, or even in the immediate vicinity of their school, but often rent or split a regular unit instead. That means, no matter where you are in Metro Detroit, you can end up with student applicants for your properties.

You can run into them in three situations: If you’re in or near college towns, near a university in a bigger city, or even randomly, as long as you have student-appealing amenities nearby. And though Metro Detroit isn’t a popular university area, here are some neighborhoods where you can expect student applicants:

  1. College Towns

Landlords in college towns deal with students all the time. If you own rentals near one of the college towns in Livonia or Dearborn, there’s a high chance you’ve already run into them. A lot of these areas have vibrant downtowns, with many gyms, restaurants, and other amenities catering to the younger crowd.

  1. University Areas

Besides college towns, there are also spots near universities like the University of Detroit Mercy and Wayne State University (both in Detroit City) and Oakland University in Rochester. These have fewer student tenants looking to rent in the immediate area, as a lot of them commute from home, but you’ll still run into student applicants here fairly regularly. 

  1. Randomly!

There’s a community college in Royal Oak, but that’s not the reason students rent there. They rent there for its trendiness and great nightlife. Students can show up in any area like this, as long as it’s young, vibrant, and appealing to them. Some students would much rather live in a great neighborhood and just commute to their university, so regardless of your proximity to a school, you can still run into them occasionally.  

One of the most significant differences between student vs. non-student tenants is that they usually lack established income or credit history. But that doesn’t mean you should skip considering them altogether–you just have to know what to look out for.

How to Screen for Student Tenants

They should have a reliable source of funds, whether that be student loans or a supportive parent. Just make sure to also screen any cosigner that will be paying the rent. 

Once their financials are set, use your better judgment (and their track record, if any) to see if they’ll make good tenants or not. Obviously, the number one concern with students is that they’ll throw crazy parties and treat your property like a messy dorm. However, you can’t just discriminate against students on this basis alone – you’ll need clear criteria for selecting tenants, and be able to show that a particular applicant didn’t meet those criteria. 

Be careful of how you phrase things, especially when you don’t accept students and cosigners flat out as a blanket statement. You can have a policy that dictates no acceptance of cosigners, but in this case, you can never accept cosigners for anyone else without risking being accused of discrimination.

Student renters come in all forms, and they can crop up anywhere. You may not market your property to students, but if you’re near a trendy area that’s desirable amongst young people, you’ll likely get at least a few student applicants anyway. Your property doesn’t even need to be located close to one of Metro Detroit’s colleges or universities. 

So be prepared to handle student applicants when they appear: conduct proper screening and don’t be discriminatory when considering them–as long as the financials make sense and they have a co-signer that can guarantee you their rent!

Have you had student tenants in Metro Detroit? What was your experience with them?

Image Courtesy of Andrew Neel

Categories
Flipping

Time vs. Cost: What Jobs are Worth Doing Yourself?

Don’t you love it when people watch house flipping and renovation TV shows and say, “wow, it looks so easy to flip houses for great returns”? But the reality is that flipping is a risky business that requires a lot of hard work, excellent project management skills, and savvy budgeting in order to succeed. 

One of the most important parts of flipping houses is the way you restore it for reselling. Some flippers like to do nearly all the renovations themselves to save on costs, but others would rather pay contractors to do it to save on time. Many also opt for a mix of DIY and professional contractors, but in this case, which jobs should you handle yourself, and which are best left to the pros? 

While it’s generally cheaper to DIY, those savings could be nullified if you do it wrong and end up with expensive corrections. And while some tasks might look easy, you need to give up significant hours of your own time to learn and accomplish them. So if we look at the time/cost benefit analysis, which jobs are worth doing yourself?

PLAN OUT THE RENOVATION

Before you start swinging a hammer in good faith, go over the whole property and list down all the repairs that it needs, taking into account the cost and lead times for each. If you’re going to DIY, you have to be able to accurately calculate their costs and realistically estimate the time it will take to complete, as well as the order in which projects should be carried out.

DO WHAT YOU KNOW, HIRE WHAT YOU DON’T

SKILL REQUIREMENTS

Fixing high-ticket areas like the roof, floors, and kitchen areas yourself can save a lot of money, because professionals usually charge a premium for these services. However, the reason for that is these tasks require a high level of expertise to do them well. When done poorly, constantly repairing them will outweigh the money you supposedly saved by doing it yourself. 

You might be charged anywhere from $300 – $10,000 for a professionally installed drywall, while you can do it yourself for significantly less. Similarly, painting will cost you $2-3 per square foot if you get it done professionally, whereas you can do it yourself for just the cost of the paint – it also has a low skill requirement, so not much can go wrong if you DIY. 

So if you have experience in doing these, by all means, DIY. But being inexperienced will only leave you with wasted time, accidents, more repairs to fix, and a lower flipping profit.  

PAPERWORK REQUIREMENTS

Some repairs require specific building codes, permits, and inspections, like removing walls or installing new bathrooms. Better steer clear from DIY-ing these, unless you plan to leave your full-time job to be a contractor yourself. A professional will help you with the paperwork required and provide knowledge if the wall is load-bearing, or if you’d need more space for a bathroom. Their work is also insured, so if anything does go wrong, you’ll know that it’s covered.

A GENERAL GUIDE

Which jobs you do yourself should be based on your skillset and condition of the house, as well as permit requirements. Some jobs will require a licensed professional, like installing complete new plumbing, which you need a permit for, unless you want to get a citation from the city. A homeowner can pull their own permit in most states, without a license, because the homeowner is the one taking the risk. But if you do it wrong, you could have an electrical fire, etc., or end up failing your building inspection and being told to redo it.

However, this list should give you a general guide on when to DIY and when to hire a professional:

DO IT YOURSELF

  • Fix an outlet, doorknob, lights
  • Painting
  • Install baseboards
  • Install laminate flooring or luxury vinyl
  • Insulate open walls
  • Install a toilet (bowl)
  • Install minor PEX plumbing

HIRE A PROFESSIONAL

  • Additions
  • Replacing sidewalks and driveways
  • Replumbing the whole house
  • New electrical service panel and circuits
  • Replacing windows
  • Install solid hardwood flooring
  • Installing a furnace or central AC

Timing is everything with a flip, so work within your set of skills. Consider splitting the workload between you and a contractor who can compensate in places where you struggle. That way, you can focus on the things you know how to do, and still save yourself some money. At the same time, you’re not being slowed down by more complicated projects which will take you as a DIY-er much longer than a professional team to carry out.

What are the fixes you DIY when you flip a house, and which do you always leave to the pros?

Image Courtesy of Laurie Shaw

Categories
Flipping

Tips for Selling Your Flip Fast

Do you want to sell your flip as fast as possible?

Flipping has always been a popular investment strategy for those looking to earn some quick-and-dirty profit. You see a property that has great potential to be sold at a much higher price–after some improvements and renovations–so you quickly buy it, flip it, and sell it! And of course, the more properties you flip, the steadier your income becomes.

But how can you ensure that your flip will sell quickly? Each day that passes costs you money–there’s mortgage payments, utilities, taxes, and other expenses that you’d need to pay while the property is in your possession. How can you sell as fast as possible, to minimize the amount of time your capital is at risk?

Here are some tips to help you sell your flips fast:

1. Know Who’ll Buy Your Flip

Before anything else, you should first consider who your potential customers will be. Always keep this ideal buyer in mind, because all your efforts–from renovation to marketing–should be focused on appealing to this buyer. All their demographic details should be considered to rehab and market your flip effectively. What life stage are they at? What do they expect from a property? How can you evoke an emotional response to encourage the sale?

2. Make Your Flip Their Dream Home

Now that you’ve identified your target buyer, rehab the property according to their expectations. When they see the property, they should be impressed and immediately think, “This is it! This is what we’ve been looking for.” For example, people usually like significant upgrades in the kitchen, but be careful not to make your fixes too niche or “trendy”–buyers might not share your taste or style. They want to see their home, and not somebody else’s. So think about what your target market would want in their dream home, and deliver that.

3. Partner with an Expert Agent

This might just be the most important tip on this list. You need an expert real estate agent to ensure you sell your flip fast. They should have proven experience, especially in the specific area you’re selling in. A good agent can help you determine how to tailor a property to the needs of local buyers, and should be great at evoking an emotional response during property viewings. Once you’ve built the dream house, it’s your RE agent who will make that dream come alive in the mind of the buyer, so they form a crucial component of sealing the deal. 

4. Price It Competitively

Just like in most industries–pricing is everything. So make sure you price your flipped home at a competitive level, if you’re looking for a quick sale. Your agent should help you figure out the perfect price, though you can already get a good idea from researching the neighborhood yourself. How much did other flips sell for? How long did the property stay on the market?

5. Stage it–Show it Off!

It’s important to stage your flip in the most impressive way you can to help buyers visualize themselves living in the property. Even now, with virtual showings becoming more popular in the era of the new normal, it’s still just as important to stage the property well. But this doesn’t mean you should over-decorate the whole house. Instead, focus on bringing out the best features of the main rooms: the living room, master bedroom, dining room, and kitchen. Set the scene so that your target buyer can imagine their family in the space, making sure that the dream you’re selling is consistent with your audience’s needs and wants.

If you follow these tips, you should be able to generate a lot of interest in your properties amongst local buyers, allowing you not only to sell your flip fast, but put yourself in the best position to receive multiple competing offers, as well. And that’s exactly what every flipper wants to maximize profits and quickly move on to their next project.

Any other tips you’d like to share with your fellow flippers?

Flipping has always been a popular investment strategy for those looking to earn some quick-and-dirty profit. You see a property that has great potential to be sold at a much higher price–after some improvements and renovations–so you quickly buy it, flip it, and sell it! And of course, the more properties you flip, the steadier your income becomes.

But how can you ensure that your flip will sell quickly? Each day that passes costs you money–there’s mortgage payments, utilities, taxes, and other expenses that you’d need to pay while the property is in your possession. How can you sell as fast as possible, to minimize the amount of time your capital is at risk?

Here are some tips to help you sell your flips fast:

1. Know Who’ll Buy Your Flip

Before anything else, you should first consider who your potential customers will be. Always keep this ideal buyer in mind, because all your efforts–from renovation to marketing–should be focused on appealing to this buyer. All their demographic details should be considered to rehab and market your flip effectively. What life stage are they at? What do they expect from a property? How can you evoke an emotional response to encourage the sale?

2. Make Your Flip Their Dream Home

Now that you’ve identified your target buyer, rehab the property according to their expectations. When they see the property, they should be impressed and immediately think, “This is it! This is what we’ve been looking for.” For example, people usually like significant upgrades in the kitchen, but be careful not to make your fixes too niche or “trendy”–buyers might not share your taste or style. They want to see their home, and not somebody else’s. So think about what your target market would want in their dream home, and deliver that.

3. Partner with an Expert Agent

This might just be the most important tip on this list. You need an expert real estate agent to ensure you sell your flip fast. They should have proven experience, especially in the specific area you’re selling in. A good agent can help you determine how to tailor a property to the needs of local buyers, and should be great at evoking an emotional response during property viewings. Once you’ve built the dream house, it’s your RE agent who will make that dream come alive in the mind of the buyer, so they form a crucial component of sealing the deal. 

4. Price It Competitively

Just like in most industries–pricing is everything. So make sure you price your flipped home at a competitive level, if you’re looking for a quick sale. Your agent should help you figure out the perfect price, though you can already get a good idea from researching the neighborhood yourself. How much did other flips sell for? How long did the property stay on the market?

5. Stage it–Show it Off!

It’s important to stage your flip in the most impressive way you can to help buyers visualize themselves living in the property. Even now, with virtual showings becoming more popular in the era of the new normal, it’s still just as important to stage the property well. But this doesn’t mean you should over-decorate the whole house. Instead, focus on bringing out the best features of the main rooms: the living room, master bedroom, dining room, and kitchen. Set the scene so that your target buyer can imagine their family in the space, making sure that the dream you’re selling is consistent with your audience’s needs and wants.

If you follow these tips, you should be able to generate a lot of interest in your properties amongst local buyers, allowing you not only to sell your flip fast, but put yourself in the best position to receive multiple competing offers, as well. And that’s exactly what every flipper wants to maximize profits and quickly move on to their next project.

Any other tips you’d like to share with your fellow flippers?

Categories
Wholesaling

7 Steps to Real Estate Wholesaling

People outside the real estate industry don’t realize how difficult it is to source wholesale deals. They might think this kind of investing is relatively easy, since wholesalers don’t have to do renovations or deal with tenants, but the difficulty of this strategy is actually in sourcing good deals.

So what tools can wholesalers use to source good deals quickly and consistently? Let’s look at 7 ways you can find both buyers and sellers for your wholesale deals:

  1. Find Motivated Sellers – Many wholesale deals are sourced from owners who haven’t even thought about selling before you, the wholesaler, came into the picture – so their properties won’t be listed on the MLS or traditional real estate listing sites. You need to find and directly contact them, and one way of doing this is to build a professional network of deal-hunting “bird dogs” to track down motivated sellers and look for distressed houses to pass along to you.

2. Get Properties Buyers Want – Look for distressed properties, or ones with delinquent taxes–most homeowners of those are eager to sell, and only a little negotiating from you could help secure a deal at a reasonable price. However, you also need to look for properties with desirable features in locations that you know are attractive to investors and other potential buyers, otherwise your contract could expire before you find a suitable purchaser. Find target neighborhoods that fit your criteria and drive around them to find distressed houses, or contact the county records office to get a list of tax-delinquent properties.

3. Promote Yourself Online – If you don’t have an online presence, you’re missing out on perhaps one of the most crucial channels for potential customers to find you. Have a website or page with a Lead Capture Form where visitors can submit their contact details, and keep these for sending out future email blasts with details of your available deals. Then you can increase the reach of your website by promoting it to targeted markets on multiple online platforms, helping passively bring you more potential sellers and buyers.

4. Connect with Hard Money Lenders –  Sometimes cash buyers don’t have the total purchase price of a property upfront, so they call up a hard money lender. That means hard money lenders also know a lot of cash buyers that they can refer to you. (Plus, they’re incentivized to connect you to these buyers, in case one of your future deals would require their services to close!

5. Build a Large Network – Having a community of investors at your disposal who are interested in buying wholesale deals makes it faster and easier to market your deals. Network with real estate agents, investors, and landlords in your area – either online, or through in-person groups, like your local REIA.

6. Visit Courthouse Auctions – Since buyers need to have all cash in courthouse auctions, this is a great source for finding cash buyers. Try to drop by courthouse auction sessions early and regularly to network with the people there, and add them to your email mailing lists.

Wholesaling real estate is a great way to get into the property business without any upfront capital. All you need are the tools listed above, persistence, and great negotiating skills to become a successful wholesaler.

Any other tools we missed? Tell us in the comments section below

Image Courtesy of Deva Darshan

Categories
DIY

Landlords: Tenant-Proofing your Rental Properties

Tenant-proofing your rental properties is kind of like baby-proofing your house–it saves both of you from unnecessary headaches. The key when tenant-proofing is to identify the things that get abused the most, and think about how you can minimize damage to these areas, or eliminate them altogether. This is especially true for properties in low demographic neighborhoods, whereas problems like these rarely occur in higher-demographic areas.

Here are some other things you should avoid if you want to minimize the risk of extra damage costs:

  1. Avoid Garbage Disposal – Have you ever watched a movie, and the characters threaten to drop something meaningful into the garbage disposal by the sink? Yes, it’s true, people love to put all types of things down that drain. It’s handy–but also very easily clogged. It’s a piece of high-failure, time-consuming equipment to fix.
  1. Avoid Air-Conditioning Units – This may seem necessary, especially during the sweltering summers in Michigan, but AC units are not a requirement. Repairs are pricey and window-mounted models often disappear in the hands of thieves. Leave it to your tenants to buy one for themselves!
  1. Forbid Wall-Mounting – People like putting up decorations on their walls, but strictly avoid any nails or screws that put ugly holes in the walls. There are plenty of adhesive hooks in stores that tenants can use as an alternative, and walls with adhesive residue are easier to repair than those with holes. If you do allow nails, plan on deducting repair costs from the security deposit, because most tenants won’t repair the holes themselves (even if it says so in the lease).

Instead, install features that can help keep your rental properties clean and easy to maintain:

  1. Install Durable Flooring – Vinyl flooring is your best bet here, as it’s affordable, durable, simple to install, and it’s easy to remove any stains that a renter would leave. Although having carpet is a preference for some, it gets old and stained easily, with some stains refusing to come out at all, and absorbs odors from pets and smoke. Similarly, hardware floors – while a great feature to have when selling a house – can easily get scratched or damaged, and cost thousands to replace. With vinyl floors, all you need is a mop and bucket of soapy water, and you’re pretty much good to go. 
  1. Install Door Stoppers – Doors swing open and close multiple times a day, and many people (especially kids) won’t care if the doorknob puts an indent in the wall. Installing door stoppers is a must-have in rental properties, as it will save both your walls and your doors from unnecessary damage.

There are a surprising variety of door stoppers on the market, from baseboard stoppers and ones affixed to the back of the door itself, to wall-mounted handle stoppers and magnetic stoppers. One of the best options is the hinge pin stopper, since it has less chance of getting overworn through constant use (or played with by children).

  1. Install Window Coverings – Blinds, drapes, or curtains might seem like an added expense (and another thing to replace if damaged by a tenant), but it’s a good idea to install some kind of window covering to avoid giving thieves or squatters a clear view inside the property. Cheap coverings will do the trick, and if they’re damaged when the tenant moves out, you can deduct the replacement cost from their deposit.
  1. Opt for Durable Fittings – Some things, like faucets, can be bought as cheap plastic pieces, costing in the region of $40. While this may seem like a good cost savings in a lower-demographic rental, these cheaper fittings usually break down quickly and will need to be replaced every 2 years, on average. Investing in a more expensive, more durable option, like a $120 metal faucet, will mean that fittings can last for up to a decade before wearing out, saving you more money in the long run.
  1. Keep Pests Out – When doing property turnovers, consider conducting routine checks for pests and take preventative action, if necessary. Pests and insects hide well, and pest control services can add up to a fortune if the problem is left to worsen. So better to discover any potential infestations early, and fight back with rodent traps, chemical-free solutions, and an exhaustive scrub-down between rentals.

Follow these tips, and you should have a property that’s as tenant-proof as it’s possible to be. Of course, there will always be repairs and maintenance that need to be carried out at the end of every lease, but by planning properly, you can minimize the chance of incurring additional expenses for damages that could have been easily avoided.

Image Courtesy of: Ksenia Chernaya

Categories
Wholesaling

Wholesaling Real Estate during COVID-19

The coronavirus pandemic has had a serious impact on real estate investors, even if (this time) the economic downturn isn’t tied to the housing market. 

Already-low inventory has been thinned even further by sellers choosing to wait out the crisis, buyers are reluctant to invest amidst this economic uncertainty, and many have taken a hit to their liquid assets (and are now prioritizing liquidity more than ever before). 

So, what does all of this mean for wholesalers in the current market? Here are some points to consider when brokering wholesale deals during the coronavirus pandemic:

Focus on Inbound Marketing

Wholesalers traditionally rely on outbound marketing methods to source new deals and secure buyers – things like sending email blasts, making cold calls, and attending networking events. All of these strategies involve a lot of time and energy on the wholesaler’s part to track down new leads.

However, with people stuck at home and spending more time on the internet than ever before, wholesalers should consider optimizing their inbound marketing to enhance their sales funnel during this crisis. Having your own website, blog, or YouTube channel, running digital ads, and boosting your social media presence are all ways you can get noticed by buyers and sellers who are actively searching for properties in your area. It takes a considerable initial time investment to get these up and running, but if you’re stuck at home now, too, then what better way to spend your time than building funnels which will bring leads to you passively?

More Conservative Offers

Panic in the markets, combined with desperate sellers, creates an opportunity to get good wholesale deals, which means you can and should be more conservative with your offers in the current environment. Buyers will also be looking for a deal, so 70% of ARV minus repairs might not leave you with enough room to make a decent profit wholesaling in this market. 

COVID Extension Clause 

To protect their contracts against extenuating circumstances due to the pandemic, many wholesalers are now including an option to extend their agreements with the seller if necessary. If your contract stipulates that you need to find a buyer within 60 days, add a two-week extension that can be triggered to give you more time to close deals during the crisis.

Wholesaler Collaboration

Inventory was already at an all-time low in most parts of the country prior to the outbreak, and now it can be even harder to find enough suitable properties to keep your wholesaling business running consistently. 

We’ve seen wholesalers respond to this by reaching out to the competition – other wholesalers – in order to work together, rather than against one another. Wholesalers operating in the same area put together a shared spreadsheet of all of their current deals, and offer a finder’s fee to anyone who’s able to bring them a buyer for it. This can help you both fast-track deals in this uncertain market, and generate a steady stream of income from the finder’s fees you receive on other wholesalers’ deals. 

Real estate wholesaling is still alive and well in the era of COVID-19, but wholesalers have had to adapt and innovate in order to keep turning a profit during these unprecedented times. 

Many of these trends will likely continue in the age of the new normal, so if you want your wholesaling business to thrive both during and after the pandemic, consider incorporating these areas into your strategy now. 

Image Courtesy of Curtis Adams

Categories
DIY

How Long Does It Take To Fill Rental Vacancies in Metro Detroit?

The amount of time it usually takes to fill a rental vacancy varies from area to area

Rental vacancy rates are an important indicator for investors to judge the strength of individual real estate markets, because these shows whether or not there is an adequate demand for the number of rental properties available in a given area.

Rental vacancies are also one of the biggest impacts on landlords’ net operating income (NOI) each year, so, apart from retaining tenants, having a short turnover time is crucial for minimizing losses. According to SmartMove, vacant rentals cost landlords in the US $1,750 each month, on average, so investing in an area with lower vacancy rates and quick turnover times is essential for maximizing the return on your rental investment.

Vacancy rates in Metro Detroit

Vacancy rates across the country reached their peak in 2008 and have been steadily decreasing year-on-year ever since. According to FRED, the average vacancy rate in the US in Q1 2020 was 6.6%. Census data for 2019 shows that rental vacancy rates in Michigan were at 6.8%, and 6.2% in the Metro Detroit area, down from a peak of 12.8% in 2010.

According to the most recent data from HUD, Oakland County has an overall vacancy rate of 4.68%, although apartments are in even higher demand, meaning complexes have only a 2.4% vacancy rate. By comparison, Wayne County has an average rental vacancy rate of 6.7%, with apartment vacancy rates at 3.4%, Midtown Detroit has a vacancy rate of just 1.9%, and the highest rates in Metro Detroit are seen Detroit, sitting at 5.3%, on average.

However, in the Metro Detroit area, vacancy rates have been steadily declining, due to population growth and the corresponding increase in rental demand. There’s been an increase in the number of rental home developments in recent years, but it’s estimated that the current planned construction projects in Oakland and Wayne will only account for roughly 20% of the new rental homes that will be required to meet this demand, boosting competition for existing rentals on the market.

This is good news for landlords, as prices have been going up, while turnover times are getting shorter.

You can find vacancy rates for the 75 largest metropolitan areas in the country at cccensus.gov, but this data won’t tell you what the average rental turnover time is for each specific neighborhood. The best way to find out how long it takes to fill a rental vacancy for your property type in your area is by talking to local real estate agents, landlords, and property management companies. They will be able to give you an insider view into the current rental demand in your market, the amount of time a typical turnover process takes, and the kinds of issues which generally slow down or speed up the process in your neighborhood.

Rental turnover times in Metro Detroit

So how do vacancy rates translate into turnover times? Higher vacancy rates in an area means less demand for rental properties, which in turn creates longer turnover periods for landlords looking for new tenants. In Metro Detroit, rental homes on average remain vacant for 52 days, and turnover times can reach up to 90 days, depending on several conditions.

The amount of time it usually takes to fill a rental vacancy varies from area to area, with rural properties generally experiencing longer vacancy periods than urban rentals. The type of property also has an impact on vacancy rates – for example, student rentals have longer turnover times, owing both to the summer holidays and more intensive repairs requirements. Single and multi-family rental vacancies also experience seasonal swings, with turnover periods taking longer during the winter months than in the summer, when rental demands for family homes are 51% higher, on average.

In Metro Detroit the tenant turnover process is particularly fraught with difficulties: finding quality tenants can be a challenge, meaning there is a greater risk that landlords will have to deal with evictions or time-consuming and costly repairs between tenancies. All of this can drive up the number of days your rental sits empty throughout the year. The best way to combat these issues is to be highly selective when choosing tenants and to manage your rentals well to avoid unforeseen issues when the lease ends.

Pricing is also a key determinant of rental turnover times. Interestingly research indicates that, across all rental property price brackets, slightly lowering your asking rent correlates directly to a shorter turnover time. On the other hand, overpricing a rental and later reducing the asking rent leads to properties spending longer on the market and achieving lower rents. Ultimately, pricing your rental competitively will lead to a shorter turnover time and drive up competition for your property, letting you be more selective when it comes to choosing the best tenant.

Working with a good property management company, having a solid rental marketing strategy, and carrying out thorough tenant screening are the best ways to ensure that the turnover process goes as fast and smoothly as possible for your Metro Detroit property. Vacancy rates in the area have been steadily decreasing, so if you’re still experiencing longer-than-usual turnover times, it might be worth talking to your property manager, or revising your pricing, advertising, and tenant selection strategies.

Image Courtesy of Sarah Trummer

Categories
Shortterm Rentals

Overview of Metro Detroit’s Short Term Rental Market

Property investors are attracted to short-term rental properties because they offer an opportunity to make more than long-term leasing, but the short term rental industry has taken a huge hit during the coronavirus pandemic. In Michigan, STRs were banned from operating during the height of the lockdown, and even now that they’ve been allowed to reopen to guests, vacancy rates are still sky-high – hitting as much as 85% in some areas. 

Furthermore, the great “Airbnb debate” has been raging in many areas of Metro Detroit for years now, with local city councils seeking heightened regulation and a limit to the number of short term rentals permitted within a given area. 

The new proposed ordinance in the City of Detroit, for example, will supposedly eliminate 85% of the nearly 1,000 listings currently active there – something short term rental owners in the area are keen to prevent. This is because, in addition to a rule limiting the number of Airbnbs to roughly 1 per city block, the new regulations would make it so that only owner-occupied properties could be used as a short term rentals. 

Yet “private rooms” in a host’s house account for less than 50% of all the short-term rentals currently on Airbnb in the Metro Detroit area. The rest are whole-place stays, where guests have exclusive use of an entire house or apartment, and these types of properties are where most of the demand will lie as we enter the age of the new normal. 

This could be an opportunity for STR owners outside the City of Detroit to take advantage of the area’s growing tourism industry in the coming years. If the new ordinance is passed, guests may look further afield to Metro Detroit’s Ring Cities as an alternative to staying in hotels or shared STRs in the city center. 

So, if your property is located near to good transport links or local amenities, you should highlight these points in your listing. In places like Hazel Park, Dearborn, and Dearborn Heights, where there are several conference centers catering to private and corporate events, expect a healthy demand from business travelers and out-of-town visitors once we return to normalcy. Whereas, in the shorter term, cities like the Pointes and St Clair Shores might see demand rise as people search for an escape from the more densely-populated metropolitan areas. 

Whether you want to target tourists, businesspeople, or city-dwellers looking for a more remote getaway, the way you present your STR should be in line with what your ideal customer wants. For example: 

Budget Stays – These could be just a simple, private room in the owner’s house, with basic furnishings, or a no-frills apartment. The target market for these types of stays are budget travelers and businesspeople, looking for an alternative to a 2 or 3-star hotel. This means you won’t need to splash out on fancy interiors or extra amenities, but you will need to make sure the property is in a good location, since budget guests will value convenience and affordable travel costs above all else. 

Luxury Stays – These include high-end apartments and lofts or nicely-decorated houses, and should ideally be located in safer, trendier areas with a walkable downtown. Your target market will be the bigger spending guests, looking for an alternative to a 4 or 5-star hotel. This means that you’ll likely have fewer issues regarding the security of your rental, but will almost certainly have to work harder to accommodate guests’ high expectations. Expect to get detailed reviews listing any small thing that your visitors found unsatisfactory, like clutter, dust hiding in corners, or noise from outside the property. 

The short-term rental market in Metro Detroit is still not as developed as it is in other cities, like Chicago, but the industry was growing prior to the coronavirus outbreak, and will likely continue to do so once regular travel resumes. If you operate an STR, keep an eye out for new proposed ordinances in your area, voice your opinions to your local city council, and make sure you adjust your strategy accordingly if nearby cities impose their own Airbnb bans – this could be an opportunity for you to capture guests from those markets. 

Image Courtesy of Monica Silvestre