The following may not be what you want to hear but it is the TRUTH!
I get the following phone call about once a week.
"Hi, my name is ______ and my Realtor has been trying to sell my home for ___ months without success. He suggested that I rent it out until the market gets better. What do you think?
Now I am grateful when we get a referral because it usually means someone trusts you and I always take that very seriously.
The problem is that every person is not made to be a landlord. There are a couple of things that most people do not tell you up front that you need to be aware of before making this major decision.
This is what I usually tell people:
As you make the decision to become a landlord you have to cut all personal ties to the property. You can't think of the guest bedrooms as the place your kids grew up, or the kitchen as the two year remodel that came out perfect. If you happen to drive by or do an inspection and see that the occupants are not living in the home exactly how you did...you have to accept that (deep breath). DO NOT CONFUSE THIS WITH ACTUAL PHYSICAL PROPERTY DAMAGE. I am simply talking about messy rooms, dishes in the sink, or the overgrown grass in the backyard. Too often people get hung up on the fact that the home doesn’t look the same as they remember it. If you cannot take the emotional connections out of the equation then you should not be a landlord.
Make sure that you have AT LEAST 6 months of mortgage payments (if not more) in savings to cover any vacancies, repairs, etc. If you are counting on the rent check alone each month to cover the mortgage payment then you should not be a landlord.
Be prepared...renters may not pay and/or a major repair or damage could occur. Like any investment there will be ups and down. If every tenant stayed forever, paid top rent, and never need repairs, then everyone would be a landlord. The fact of the matter is that issues/hardships will come up and you need to be prepared to deal with them.
Now a lot of this is easier said then done, and I realize that a lot of people are being forced into being landlords. That is why it's important to hire a reputable property manager that with oversee your investment and collect the proper deposits to try and mitigate your damage should something go wrong.
If you or someone you know wants to discuss this further please contact me.
About a year ago a rather peculiar older lady contacted our office about renting a studio apartment. This lady gave us a story about how hard she was struggling to make it while attending night classes at a local junior college. She stated that this was the perfect rent amount and that she needed it right away.
After careful examination of her application we decided that we would let her move into the property. Like most residents, she came into our office to sign the lease. I went in to sign with her and I noticed that there were lipstick marks ALL OVER the office window. I also happened to notice that it seemed to be the same color she was wearing. I could not prove anything and in fact I asked her if she had been the culprit, which she denied. She just seemed like the sweet older lady that could have been anyone's grandmother. It was just something about her that had me on edge. Little did I know that this lady would be my worst NIGHTMARE!
I informed my staff to be careful at that point because something about this person was "off". It only took about 5 days for this lady to start showing her true colors. She called our office repeatedly during than day (over 20 calls) and asked "who we worshiped". Obviously this was a questions that had most of my staff scared to answer one way or the other.
Finally my staff transferred one of these call to me and and explained to her that she needed to stop with the harassing phone calls. At that point she screamed a few obscenities at me an hung up. I was mortified.
It seemed I was not the only person that she was yelling it either. We started to get calls by the masses from residents in her community saying that she was asking the same questions to them. In fact, she sprayed one tenant down with Windex and claimed that she was cleansing him in the name of the Lord. This ended with her going to jail overnight.
I would like to say that things got better after the assault scare, but it didn't. Things got even more weird when she called and stated that she was having electrical issues. I asked her to explain the issues, and she said that aliens were living in the attic and controlling her power. She also said that these aliens were breaking into her apartment at night and opening all her water bottles and filling them with flavoring. My guess was that she bought flavored water, but either way it was clear that this tenant needed help.
We tried to help her find that help over the next few weeks, but she refused. She also refused to pay rent and her utilities due to the fact that "aliens" were controlling her utilities. We even went so far as to send an electrician over to the unit with her home and show her that no one was controlling her power, cable, etc. Despite seeing this she still refused to pay rent!
Obviously if you don't pay rent, you can't stay in our properties...so she was eventually evicted. She actually went to the court and tried to fight with the judge over the alien issue, and the judge simply said that aliens were not an excuse for not paying rent!
Let this be a lesson for anyone out there....even if aliens have invaded your house, you still need to pay the bills! In hindsight, this tenant may have been better off trying to get the aliens to split the bills with her.
Just another day in the life of a residential property manager!!!
For awhile I have been toying with the idea of creating a book based on the funny situations I have experienced while managing properties. These are the types of things that take place and leave you asking the question...DID THAT JUST HAPPEN???
Instead of trying to create a book I have decided to share some of these stories on my blog. This first story is probably my favorite. It is the prime example for tenants who will do everything they can to stay in their property (besides pay their rent). Around 3 years ago, we placed a tenant in one of our properties. She has great credit, excellent references, solid job history, income, etc.
The one issue that caused some concern was that she was in the mortgage industry which at that time was at the APEX of instability. Everything was going fine for a few months, and then BOOM...she couldn't pay her rent.
Most tenants in this situation will offer to pay some of the rent if we can work with them. Not this tenant. She always promised to come in tomorrow with the entire amount. This went on for the entire 50 days it took to get her out of the property. 50 days is a key number here because usually it never takes that long.
The last part of the legal process is to serve a "Writ of Restitution" which basically lets the tenants know that they are being evicted and possession is being given back to the owner of the property. When the constable went to the property to serve the Writ, he could not find the address anywhere. We kept explaining were the property was but he explained that the address was incorrect and that he could not serve them the notice.
We immediately sent a representative from our office to the property and could not believe what we saw. The tenant, in an effort to avoid being evicted, had glued another hand made address plate over the existing one. We had to send all the data back to the court and it allowed the tenant to stay for an extra 7 days.
It seemed we were not the only victim either. When I went to check the water box in the front yard she had filled it with rocks and inside was a note asking the water man to "Please don't turn off the water" and promised "I am on my way to pay right now". Needless to say she also left a huge outstanding water bill with the city.
It just shows that you can screen people up and down, yet if they really want to deceive you they can. This person clearly knew what she was doing, and it is very sad because it caused nothing but trouble, stress, and major expenses to the owner.
It's a new day for West USA Property Management and The Pruitt Team. We are pleased to launch our new website.
The decision to do this was made for two reasons:
1) Create a more user friendly site for our clients.
2) Provide more information to our clients that they can actually use.
What I am most excited about is the new search feature. You, as the consumer, can actually get up-to-date MLS listings. To my knowledge this has not been provided on any other major site. Most people are really upset to find that the home they found on Realtor.com or Zillow.com is no longer available. This is the big issue with websites that are not using up-to-date listings.
The other feature that I am really excited about is that if you find a listing that you like, you can "share" it with friends through Facebook or Twitter.
For those who are interested I am going to try blog about various Property Management and Real Estate issues that I come across. If you have something that you would like to ask please don't hesitate in doing so.
Enjoy the new website!
Realtor, Property Manager, New Blogger