Stay Cool with these Local Events

It Comes At Night The Hippodrome Theater [06/28/17]
Imagine the end of the world. Now imagine something worse. Award-winning filmmaker Trey Edward Shults follows his incredible debut feature KRISHA with “IT COMES AT NIGHT,” a horror film following a man (Joel Edgerton) who learns that the evil stalking his family home may be only a prelude to horrors that come from within. Secure within a desolate home as an unnatural threat terrorizes the world, the tenuous domestic order he has established with his wife and son is put to the ultimate test with the arrival of a desperate young family seeking refuge. Despite the best intentions of both families, paranoia and mistrust boil over as the horrors outside creep ever-closer, awakening something hidden and monstrous within him as he learns that the protection of his family comes at the cost of his soul.
Click here for more information

Vinyasa Yoga The Harn Museum [06/28/17]
Blank Space invites you to create, respond and play in the museum. In this gallery, you will find interactive installations; scheduled opportunities for yoga, storytelling and dance performances; and art by students. Experiment with light, shadow, physics, pattern, color and photography.Vinyasa yoga translates to “Breath synchronized movement.” Be prepared to get in tune with your breath and follow it through standing, flowing, seated and balancing postures. Please bring your own mat and check in all personal items at the security desk. A water station will be provided. UF Students register in advance. This class is also open to the public, no registration required. Late arrivals will not be allowed to participate.
Click here for more information

Artwalk Gainesville Downtown [06/30/17]
Artwalk Gainesville is a free monthly self-guided tour that combine exciting visual art, live performance, and events in downtown Gainesville, Florida. Held the last Friday of each month from 7 to 10 pm, with many local galleries, eateries and businesses participating, Artwalk is an exciting, fun way to experience the amazing wealth of creativity the Gainesville community has to offer.​​
Click here for more information

New Collection ‘Art for Purpose’ The Hippodrome Theater [06/30/17]
Art for a Purpose is a one-of-a-kind gallery and a one-of-a-kind nonprofit — all rolled into one.Unlike traditional, commercial galleries, Art for a Purpose is a nonprofit. And unlike other non- profits, it exists to assist other charitable organizations, rather than serving one specific constituency or group.The process is simple:  The gallery accepts art directly from donors, sells the pieces and distributes the proceeds to charities for their unrestricted use.  Donors receive acknowledgments of their donations at the time of their gifts (useful for individual tax purposes), and they may recommend charities to benefit from the sales of their donated works.  Any person may be a donor and any IRS-approved nonprofit may be a recipient of distributions.
Click here for more information

June 2017 Fun Out of the Sun

With 90 degree temperatures and the rain season in full swing, it’s hard to deny that Gainesville Summer has begun. North Central Florida’s natural beauty can be hard to beat but on the days where you would stay in, she also has you covered. This summer, Gainesville’s art community is rolling out the red carpet for fun indoors with these events.

Make sure to check out our interesting links this month as well, summer in Gainesville also means moving time. We have found some relevant and helpful content to get you through those potentially trying times.

June 2017 Words from Our Broker

Hi, Are you feeling a little wet and soggy lately? If you live in our neck of the woods, (and probably most of florida) you might be feeling like your going to grow webs between your toes to better navigate through the return of a long lost time of afternoon monsoon like showers.

 

I’m not sure I can really remember a day when it hasn’t rained lately. A completely dry day is very few and far between anymore. It appears we have returned to tropical like showers in the afternoon/evenings. The return of sheet like rain Is definetly a welcomed change. We’ve suffered a lot of drought over the last few years but I have a feeling this years going to bring some

balance back to nature.

 

It turns out that it was a good thing that we had to do our properties 4 month inspections in the pouring down rain these last few weeks. It allowed us to spot exterior problem areas with gutters, soil, roofs, drainage etc. Checking in on how your soil is wearing from drainage around your homes foundation is essential to making sure you don’t end up spending a lot of money on settlement issues when you could’ve just adjusted your downspout (or other minor changes). We inspected about 25 houses so far this month and are working on getting those reports out to our owners and tenants and creating work orders or estimate requests on any work we found that was needed.

 

Marjesca, our new maintenance coordinator is learning at rapid speed. I often liken it to drinking from a firehose. Being she’s also a newly licensed realtor and wants to learn the entire real estate market and not just Property Management, Maintenance or Sales, there is no end to the things we can teacher. The wonderful thing is that she is eager to learn and taking it all in while handling this massive learning process with the grace that she exudes in all the other aspects of her life. It’s truly a joy to work with her. She has quickly become my partner in crime. Or in this case “Real Estate”. The picture below is from this mornings General Membership meeting where she was inducted (or as I like to refer to it “abducted”) into the Gainesville / Alachua County Association of realtors.  I’m very proud of her. It was quite funny when other realtors asked if there was a height requirement to work for my company and I confessed there must be! But as silly as it sounds it’s great to have another tall gal around and to be able to wear heels without feeling like I’m towering over everyone.

 

The real estate market continues to be very strong with low interest rates, low supply of Sfordable and Median sales priced homes. This is also driving the demand up for rental properties for those price ranges. It makes sense that If there’s a shortage of affordable and median priced homes for sale then the supply out there won’t sit on the market long before being bought up. This leaves little reason for people to hold onto the property and rent it. The average time on the market right now is 3.5 months. Keep in mind the vast majority of landlords don’t come to it on purpose. They typically can’t sell their home for one reason or another but mostly because of owing more than it’s worth. When they find that situation then renting the home until the values increase makes perfect sense.

 

Being a company that handles both rentals and sales it allows us to really see the big picture and  better advise our clients on what might work best for their situation. Should I Sale it or rent it? Thankfully with us you can try both and go with whichever comes first. Whether you have a Realtor representing you or you need us to represent you for both rent and sale, we can do that. We often work with our fellow Realtors in other offices putting their seller/clients property up for rent while they market it for sale allowing the seller to go with whichever comes first.  I love  being able to be involved and help an owner all the way through the many cycles a property can go through. Let us know if you need help evaluating your homes best potential for today’s market.

 

Living on the Suwannee River has allowed me to be in nature (where I’m most at peace) a lot more often. In the days or hours that I set aside for office Work,  I and often Marjesca, generally do that kind of office work right on my front deck perched high over the river. I’m usually out there first am with coffee as the birds and the rest of nature starts coming alive. It’s a very special time of day.  A few Saturdays ago I was able to do what I’d been wanting to do since moving in. I jumped on the jet ski with my big coffee mug and set out at a 3 mile an hour putt putt  up the River. I started out following a momma and two baby Otters when they left my dock heading up the River. They dumped me a little ways up after turning into the Sante Fe and being annoyed by my following them. I ended up spending my entire day at this slow putt all the way up as far as I could go on the Sante Fe’. Stopped for lunch at Ellie Rays then proceeded into the Suwanne at my mostly slow putt almost all the way to Mayo stopping at all the springs I passed. It was an absolutely beautiful and relaxing day. With the low water level a lot more springs were easily visible. One in particular was flowing right out of the bank. I took several videos of this one.  Another area that was particularly pretty and exciting was past O’Brien right before Mayo where the Suwannee gets really shallow and has and Island in the middle and a deeper washed out area to the south bank where the water was rushing through. After a slow putt up this canal to make sure it was deep enough I had a great time going back and forth a few times through the rushing waters. I took about  20 min of video clips by the time the day was over and I put together my favorites in the link below. Unfortunately trailing the Otters didn’t come out because of the sun glare. It’s the third time I’ve thought I’ve gotten good video of them playing on my dock or passing by to find it didn’t work out. Next time for sure!! I hope your enjoying your summer. And of course if you’d like to be my River neighbor I’d be happy to help you find a place! I’m becoming very familiar with all three; Suwannee, Itchknetucknee and Sante Fe 😊

Ready for Summer Vacation?

Although it is already blazing hot in the 80s and 90s here, summer doesn’t officially start for another month. Now is the perfect time to start planning how you will enjoy Florida’s beautiful summers.  You may even want to start now!  Gainesville has great day trips for any age and events for kids that will make staying local fun and exciting.  Florida has the best of so many worlds and now is the perfect time to enjoy them 🙂

Retirement Homes for Horses: 35 minute drive. Also known as Mill Creek Farm, this sanctuary is home to more than 100 rescued horses. Perfect for animal lovers and kids, you can visit the 245 acre farm and wander at leisure with the retired animals.  Price of admission? Carrots to hand feed the local residents.  To learn more, click here.

Micanopy: 15 minute drive.  With a population of 600, Micanopy is known for its downtown shopping district.  Antique stores and boutiques make it a leisurely day trip for adults.  Micanopy also boasts great restaurants to whet your appetite and enjoy the small town vibe.  You can enjoy BBQ at Pearl County Store or pizza and calzones at Blue Highway Pizza. Click here to learn more.

Ichetucknee Springs State Park: 60 minute drive.  As you can see above, this beautiful spot shows off Florida’s beauty with crystal clear water and its natural setting.  You can rent a tube and lazily drift down the river.  Or you can travel by canoe or kayak and enjoy the springs that way.  Either way, this river offers scenery local to the area. For more information. click here.

St. Augustine: 90 minute drive.  Known as the oldest city in America, there is so much to do beyond the Castillo and historic area. St. Augustine beach is a great way to enjoy Florida’s coast line and get some sun.  The local Alligator farm and Ripley’s Believe it Or Not are great hits for kids.  For adults, you can enjoy the San Sebastian Winery.  Nearby state parks such as Anastasia park also provide more adventurous outdoor options such as kayaking and camping.  To find the best ways to enjoy St. Augustine, click this link.

Looking for ways to keep the kids entertained in town? Check out these sites for a list of local events and options:

May 2017 Words From Our Broker

Hello,

We must’ve missed spring. I think it only lasted a few weeks. We’re already into typical hot summer days with highs in the 90’s. I don’t mean to complain about our hot summer weather but it’d be nice if spring stuck around just a little longer.

The rental and sales season is in full swing with lots of contracts pending and closed. Properties in good condition and priced correctly sell within a few months. I think some appraisers are having a hard time keeping up with the uptick in prices as I’ve seen some appraisals come back for less than what the buyers are willing to pay. I find that interesting because what the buyers are willing to pay is one of the biggest determining factors in market price.

I recently attended a class on pricing properties in a competitive market and the instructor made a very good point when she suggested you can help the appraisers by providing them with a packet of info showing them your comps and how you determined the list price. If you can provide them with copies of comparable properties along with notes on the comps of what adjustments were made for condition and what improvements have been made to the subject property since the last sale, it may help the appraiser be able to provide a more accurate sales value in the appraisal.

Of course being sure the property is in the best possible condition is a must even in a good market. Maybe even more so than in a slower seller’s market. If your property’s condition isn’t good and buyers continue to pass on your property and buy the neighbors’, other buyers will note the amount of days your property has been on the market and assume there’s something wrong with it.

If you have made improvements that require a permit, I recommend you check the public records to make sure the permit was closed and recorded. Don’t assume your repair person filed for it. It’s better to tackle those issues and clean them up before putting the property on the market. Otherwise, it may hamper or even kill the deal.

The rental and sales season is going to continue to be hot thru July so it’s still a good time to make improvements first then put the property on the market. Vendors in Gainesville get swamped with work during the summer and in a market where construction is booming there are fewer repair/renovation type vendors available.  You don’t want to wait too long or you’ll have a hard time finding qualified people to do the job timely.

Because we have a full portfolio of managed properties, we’re able to keep our vendors busy all year which allows and motivates them to be loyal to us and continue to make our properties a priority even in the busy season. Without good vendors that will handle your work with quality and timeliness your success in getting properties rented or sold in good time is in jeopardy. We know the value of a good vendor and are always working to strengthen that relationship as well as cultivate new ones. We’re always looking for good vendors so if you are one or have one you’d like to recommend, we’d always appreciate hearing from you. Likewise if you need help getting your property fixed up and put on the market for rent or sale, we can help you there too. We do offer free evaluations designed to let you know what you can do to position your property to rent or sell timely.

I hope you enjoy your summer! This year on my annual girlfriend trip we took a long weekend and did a Carnival Cruise to the Bahamas. It’s been a while since I’d been on a traditional big cruise line and when I walked out onto the lido deck with the pool and all the people and action I thought to myself….WHAT THE HECK AM I DOING HERE! OMG… way too many people in one place for me. But of course we had a good time. Spending a lot of it on our private balcony just chatting. It’s the reason we get together every year anyway….just to enjoy each other’s company and reconnect. It never matters much where it is. I have included a few videos from the trip in the link below. Bon Voyage!

April 2017 Interesting Articles

These articles and more are shared daily on our Facebook. Follow us on Facebook if you would like to read more!

Florida House pursues property tax cut

Support a Reduction in the Business Rent Tax

10 rental property tax deductions landlords love

The Fed hiked interest rates. What happens to mortgages?
Single Family Rental Returns by County: 2017

Best Marker For Buying Single Family Rentals

Fla. cities using tech to track down short-term landlords

Real estate Q&A: The hassles of an inherited home

 

April 2017 Words From Our Broker

Hola from Spain! I’m writing this month’s Brokers Corner sitting in the back of a coach bus traveling from Barcelona to Bilbao. As usual my life is a constant blend of work and play. I’m so thankful for life’s modern technologies that allows this to be possible. I’m even more thankful to my wonderful teammates Laura and Marjesca who also make this possible.

I’ve written many times about how wonderful our Laura Garcia is and now we’ve added another completely awesome and equally beautiful Marjesca Brown to our team. I first met Marjesca a few years ago through friends and was very impressed with her back then. I found her to be not only stunningly beautiful but also very intelligent and kind. Recently when our mutual friend Stephanie reconnected us, I knew right away that I would love to have her on my team. The fact that she has commercial property management experience and a real estate license was simply icing on the cake. What was even more appealing is that she really does love property management. I found that like me, she feels joy in being able to take a layer of stress off owners and tenants by efficiently taking care of the property’s maintenance needs. This combination of experience and talent makes her a perfect match for our company. I don’t think I could’ve imagined a better fit. Just more proof that the big guy always has my back.

As we discussed in Marjesca’s introduction video, we are entering our busy season. This year I feel the busy season has started early for us. This is partly because of Laura’s early jump on renewing leases – finding out which tenants will be vacating and marketing those properties. The  early spring weather also is enticing buyers and renters to get out sooner to look for their new home. Our next few months will consist of screening a bunch of new tenants, signing leases, evaluating each property’s maintenance needs and lining up our vendors to handle the work that will be needed.

It is also a busy time for sales. With interest rates and inventory still low, it continues to be a good seller’s market. We find that our homeowners tend to be ready to sell their properties after 4 to 5 years of renting. With this being our 4th year in business, we have a lot of owners contemplating selling.  We’ve also been very busy providing detailed market analyses and then listing, marketing and selling properties that have been in our management inventory for several years. For the homeowner, it makes it very convenient to have us handle the sell of their properties as we know the property very well and can coordinate a smooth transition onto the sales market. Because our owners and tenants already know and trust us, it makes it easier on everyone. It is very fulfilling to be able to handle all aspects of our homeowners’ real estate needs.

For kicks about 20 years ago I used the “Complete Guide to Astrology” to chart my astrological forecast and it said that I would do well in real estate and travel a lot. Well now, that sure did come true. Little did I know, I’d be able to do both at the same time. A true multitasker! Feeling very fortunate right now as we travel through the Rioja Vineyards. Gotta go…time for another wine tour and tasting adventure. Hasta luego, Que pasa un buen dia!

Click to see more pictures from Tanya’s Spanish Adventure

March 2017 Secure Investments Newsletter

Ready to sell your property? Make sure it is priced correctly before listing.  Check out this month’s newsletter to find out how!

Check out Secure Investments March 2017 Newsletter. Featured articles include:

  • How to Price your Property for Sale

  • Words From Our Broker

  • March 2017 Gainesville Rental Market Overview
  • List of our current available properties
  • List of our properties for sale

March 2017 Words From Our Broker

And so it begins……. barely into spring and the market is blooming!!! We are knee-deep in the middle of renewing leases and putting properties on the sales and rental market.

This year we started renewing leases several months early because…. ya know what they say about the early bird….. But in this case the early bird gets the responsible tenants and the renewal lease paperwork work out-of-the-way so you can focus on sales and getting properties ready for new occupants.

If you followed the advice of previous newsletters that suggested getting started with whatever makeovers you need to make your property ready, it should be ripe for taking advantage of this spring’s buyers and renters. We currently have about a 3 1/2 months supply of inventory on the market making this a very strong sellers’ market. Interest rates are still down, and even though there is always the looming threat of the Fed raising the rate soon, I don’t see a little rate increase affecting what’s shaping up to be a beautiful bloom of spring activity. (Ok, I’ll stop with the corny spring references but I can’t help it, this absolutely gorgeous weather has my mind consumed). If you’re not quite ready to sell or rent and need some advice, give us a call and we can go over your home’s rental and sales value and also make recommendations on upgrades and their cost so you can make a fully informed decision.

Spring on the river is especially beautiful. This is our first spring here on the Suwannee. The crisp cool mornings gently warm into a bright sunny day that leaves my face sunburnt while I lose all track of time working on my laptop from the deck. Often I start with my morning coffee and it’s 3 o’clock before I look up again wondering why I’m so hungry. I put together a little video below of this past Saturday. There were 50 racing boats using our front yard/waterfront as a dragstrip and meeting up at Sandy Point just around the bend where the Santa Fe enters the Suwanee. Later, up the Santa Fe River, we had a friendly family of manatees swimming around us at the mouth of the Ichetucknee.

Living on the river makes every day feel like a vacation day. Hoping your spring is as wonderful.

 

How To Price Your Property For Sale

At the Gainesville’s Bo Diddley Plaza, we share the factors to consider when pricing your property for sale by answering the following:
– What factors determine price?
– Why is Pricing so Important?
– How does the Market Affect Pricing?

Watch to find out the answers! If you would like more information, please email us at info@secureinvestmentsrealty.com. Enjoy!

 

February 2017 Interesting Articles

These articles and more are shared daily on our Facebook. Follow us on Facebook if you would like to read more!

Sellers’ market for homes continues in Alachua County

Rental affordability in 20 Top US cities

Seven of 10 Most Unequal Priced Housing Markets Are in Florida

Trump Begins to Chip Away at Banking Regulations

Only 26% of Consumers Want Smart Homes

How Long Does a Water Heater Last?

Fannie Mae takes step that may fuel single-family rental growth

House flipping is on the rebound — and that’s not good for everyone

Single Family Starts

U.S. home prices surpass bubble-era peak, and Florida housing isn’t far behind

5 indispensable technology tips in 5 minutes: Jeff Lobb

How Trump’s tax plan could affect your bottom line as a real estate agent

Remodel or replace? Top 10 ROI opportunities in popular home improvement projects

Population: Fla. is growing but eight states shrink

Foreign buyers’ passion fades in Florida

Job Opening for Enterprising Individual

Thanks to our clients’ continued trust, it is time to grow our staff to handle the influx of new business.  In order to better serve our customers, we would like to expand our management of maintenance and renovation coordination.  We are currently looking to hire a maintenance coordinator.

The ideal candidate would be the following:
– Organized and self- disciplined
– Good with processes and procedures
– Strong multi-tasker
–  Possess knowledge in real estate and construction
–  Have experience in property management

If you are qualified, please email us at info@secureinvestmentsrealty.com with your resume and why you would be a good fit.

Click to read the job description and to see if the job is right for you

February 2017 Newsletter

How does Trump’s executive orders effect you – a property owner and investor? Check out this month’s newsletter to find out!

Check out Secure Investments February 2017 Newsletter. Featured articles include:

  • The Disappearing (Dodd- Frank) Act

  • Job Opening for Enterprising Individual

  • Words From Our Broker

  • February 2017 Gainesville Rental Market Overview
  • List of our current available properties

The Disappearing (Dodd-Frank) Act

There is a new president in town.  Although everyone has different thoughts on his style and views, one thing can be agreed… he has been busy.  His executive orders have been creating quite a storm causing some to cheer and others to protest.  For real estate professionals and property owners, there are two executive orders that will directly effect you.

In 2008, we all witnessed (and most homeowners experienced) the effects of the housing bubble and the subsequent recession.  The risky investment in mortgage backed securities and the government’s subsequent bailout of banks led to the creation of the Dodd-Frank Act.  This act was created to provide oversight and regulation to the industry that was blamed for causing the crisis. Its main goal was to protect the consumer and keep banks solvent.  Because of its many rules, its effectiveness has been in question since its creation with most detractors arguing it impedes qualified people from getting loans.

In February, Trump signed two orders relating to the Act.  The first one asking the Secretary of the Treasury to review regulations on banks specifically in regards to their ability to make speculative investments.  The second asked the Secretary of Labor to delay a rule requiring financial advisers to act in a client’s best interests.

Below are links to articles explaining the views of both sides but you are probably asking “how does it effect me a homeowner and investor?”.

Possible effects on the real estate market include:

– It may loosen mortgage requirements making it easier for consumers to take out a loan.
– It may shorter closing times when buying property due to less required documentation.
– It may decrease the closing costs for banks (and consumers) due to less regulation.
– It may increase mortgage delinquencies due to consumers being approved who cannot afford it.
– It may allow big banks to get involved in risky mortgage-backed securities again that would give Wall Street more power to impact the housing market – positively or negatively.

No matter your viewpoint on the orders, the regulations will impact the housing market.  We will have to see whether it will be for better or for worse.

February 2017 Words From Our Broker

Wow! Is it really spring again so soon? Well it is for us here in the Gainesville and Alachua county area. Trees and flowers are not just budding, they are blooming! Is it just me or did winter seem to go by very quickly? It’s supposed to reach 80 degrees today and close to it for the rest of the week. I’m so grateful to be living and working in this beautiful part of Florida. Maybe it has to do with the large amount of rain we had in the last few months. Check out the video links below of the Suwannee river.  It is now close to its high marks due to the opening of the Okefenokee swamp damn to allow that area to drain. We’ve got all kinds of debris and other interesting things floating down the river. I also included some pictures of our deck renovations that is turning out beautifully!!

This season is also loaded with sales activity. We talked last month about making your plans to prepare your properties so this month is the time for action. We are currently working with a couple handfuls of owners by helping them prepare their property for the best possible performance on the sales market. You can stay tuned to future newsletters for some before and after videos.

Because we are so well practiced in taking care of properties and improving their value through mini renovations, it’s an easy process for us to help you determine your property’s best market value and what improvements would be needed to get you there. But you can also do this on your own if you have the time and the resources. You don’t want to wait too long because repair people will be in high demand as we get closer and closer to spring and summer.  It will be difficult to get people in and out quickly once summer hits so that you don’t lose money with the additional time.

Of course you can also Google how to do just about anything yourself if you’re so inclined. Remember to take into consideration the quality of materials you use will strongly affect the value.  Having a good eye for putting materials and colors together to create a quality beatification project can more than pay for itself. Take a look at the potential value with improvements and without to decide if it is worth your time and effort. You may decide your not up to investing the time, energy, stress, inconvenience and money needed to make the upgrades your property needs and instead want to sell the property as is at a reduced price. Be prepared to justify your pricing with comps and estimates for needed repairs because today’s buyers are very savvy and your property sitting for months on the market overpriced can be a huge financial loss that’s avoidable when the property is priced and prepared correctly.

We are always happy to help you sell or rent your property and are very experienced at handling everything for you smoothly and quickly!

Click here to see more pictures

A Property Investor’s New Year Resolutions

Starting a new exercise regimen? Swearing off sugary snacks? Aiming to focus more on family?

At the start of a new year, resolutions in every aspect of our lives start to appear. Resolutions about our physical, mental, intellectual, and spiritual health abound as we try to start off the new year on a new foot.  One area often overlooked are your investment properties.

Investment properties may be part of your plan to achieve a peaceful retirement or to grow excess income. Waiting until closer to retirement or when you are ready to sell does not ensure the biggest bang for your investment buck.  Now is the time of year to put thought into how you will capitalize on making this year a success for your investment properties.   Small goals, or “resolutions”, each year will ensure a higher ROI for whatever goals you hope to achieve in the future with your investment!

Below are some areas to focus on in order to make this year a success for your investment property portfolio and to ensure higher returns for years to come.

  1. Budget! It is best to get this item out of the way first since it is probably the least glamorous part of being a property investor.  As 1099s come in and you sit down to do taxes, you can easily take time to look over your income and expenses over the past year.  Maintenance is going to be the big area to examine as you budget for this year. Taking the time to budget now will prevent surprises later.  It is wise to reinvest some profit back into the home to ensure it continues to stay updated. Small improvements now will save money when it is time to sell.  It will prevent you from having the sell the property below market value because the property is outdated or poorly maintained. Ask yourself some of these questions:
    • What large maintenance projects may need to be done this coming year?
    • What percentage of your profit will you reinvest in the home to complete upgrades?
    • If the current tenant doesn’t renew, what expenses will I incur during the turnover (vacancy time, painting, etc.)?
  2. Goals: Now that you know how your property performed this past year, it is time to re-evaluate what your long term goals are.  Write out why you are investing in this property. Seeing your goal for the property in writing will help determine if the property is performing well.  Ask yourself some of these questions:
    • Why am I renting this property?
    • If your goal is to make a certain amount of profit, is your property producing your target amount?
    • Due to major life events, has your long term goal changed this past year?
    • What do I hope this property will produce in 5, 10, 15 years?
    • How much would I like to sell this property for?
  3. Market: Put your feelers out to see how the rental and sales market is doing.  Contact your property manager, real estate agent, fellow property investors, and any one else in the industry that you trust.  Ask them where they think the market (sales and rental) is headed.  Gather information that relates to the goals you just wrote.  For example, if you plan to sell the property, determine how much it is worth and when the ideal time may be to sell.  If you wish to rent, talk to your property manager about upgrades that may increase rent.  Knowing what the market is like will help determine what your property’s future may be.
  4. Take Action: You have all the information you need to take action.  Resolve to follow through on what you have decided this year.  Contact your property manager to share your budget and planned property improvements.  Put a reminder on your phone to review your property’s goals each month.  Make a final decision about renting or selling this year and contact the necessary people.

Starting the new year with a little planning will ensure 2017 is a successful year for you and your property!

January 2017 Words From Our Broker

Hi, I hope everybody had a fabulous Christmas and New Year holiday. Oh boy is it obvious it’s a new year with a new president! So many predictions flying around like our last article spoke of. The gym classes are packed full of new folks, lots of people trying to eat right, bunch of people talking business…..and especially the business of real estate .

With a new president that is pro-real estate and business and the Fed pushing up the interest rate, it’s creating an even stronger sellers market than last year. And last year was a good year!

Although some say it’ll take Trump about a year to become accustomed to the political side of his job, folks previously on the fence about buying and selling are making moves in that direction. The combination of talk of interest rates rising and Trump’s proposed immigration policies (that may drive up construction cost due to a lack of cheap illegal immigrants) positions NOW is a really good time to buy as the months and years that follow will likely bring higher housing costs.

Other predictions that resonate with me in my world is the talk of MLS mergers (multiple listing service ….AKA-the keeper of the data) and possible agent commission structure changes.  Due to the availability and vast possibilities of technology, I believe this year will be the beginning of really big changes in how Realtors do business. If you don’t stay up, you will definitely get left behind in the years that follow especially if you have a hard time accepting and maximizing change. We’ve included an article in the links section of this newsletter that sums up what’s happening in these areas. It won’t be business as usual for long.

I spent my holidays with family. We are so fortunate to live relatively close so it was packed full of family fun. We had the traditional pictures with Santa, making kids breakfast on Christmas morning,  watched them open presents, drove through an amazing Christmas light display at the Spirit of the Suwannee music park, jet ski ride with the manatees on Christmas morning, and a New Year’s Eve celebration with life size Jenga and sky lanterns. I included videos in the link below that are sooooo much funnier in the high speed I set them to! We even had a trip to Disney packed between the weekends. I’m so thankful and grateful to be able to spend quality time with my family. I hope you were also able to spend time with loved ones. When all else is said and done that’s really what matters most in life: Being there for those you love.  Happy New Year!!

Click here to see more videos of Tanya’s holidays.

 

Housing Trends to Watch in 2017

Interest rates are increasing. Trump will become President.  Millennials are looking to buy.  The European Union is experiencing shake ups.  How will all of this affect the housing market? No one knows. Change is the only guarantee for the coming year.

  • Interest Rates Will Continue to Rise: We have already experienced this after the election results. Interest rates are only expected to continue to rise in 2017 although some predict rates will top out at 5%.  This will affect affordability for first-time home buyers.  It may also negatively impact the market by encouraging some potential buyers to stay put rather than buy.
  • Increase in Millennial Home Buyers:  The average age of a first-time home buyer is 32. In 2017, 4.4 million Americans will be turning 32. Two factors are expected to push Millennials to be home buyers: household formation and wage growth.  As more young adults graduate, marry, and start families, buying is becoming a more viable option especially given recent wage growth.  They are expected to create a lot of demand on the housing market potentially causing prices to rise if supply cannot meet demand.
  •   Shortage in Housing Inventory:  Low housing inventory will continue to be a problem. Entry-level homes represent the biggest shortage on the market as Millennials shop with a limited budget.  Also foreign investors continue to see the US as a safe real estate investment due to turbulence in the European Union. Foreclosures have continued to decrease cutting off affordable alternatives. The shortage may cause the market to overheat and some predict a small bubble will occur. New construction may help close the gap later in 2017 and into the beginning of 2018 as housing starts increased.  This past October housing starts reached a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.3 million – the highest pace since August 2007. That trend is expected to continue which may help balance out the shortage.
  • Construction Prices Will Go Up: If Trump follows through with his tough immigration plan, it is expected to negatively impact the construction industry.  The current shortage of construction workers is expected to get worse as hiring immigrant construction workers will become more difficult.  The byproduct will be an increase in workers’ wages causing the price of newly constructed homes to increase.  We may also see fewer large-scale remodeling projects on existing homes due to the worker shortage and increased prices.

2017 is expected to have a lot of changes.  By keeping your pulse on the market though, there shouldn’t be many unexpected surprises 🙂

Check out these other articles to see other 2017 predictions:

 

December 2016 Words from Our Broker

Brrrrrrr. Winter has finally hit Florida. Which means we have a few days a week that we get to break out our heavy jackets and boots. Peppered with days of shorts and tanks. Gotta love north central Florida in the early winter and late fall. It seems this year we’ve had more color changes in the leaves than other years.

The river is especially tranquil and beautiful right now. I’m still pinching myself for being able to experience this beauty daily. We slipped in an end of the year tube ride over the Thanksgiving Holiday for my grandkids. It was both of their first times and they had a blast. Alicia only four years old wanted to ride by herself and go fast! She’s got her grandma’s sense of adventure for sure.

Business always slows down during the holidays. Nobody likes to move this time of year when they’re busy preparing for the holidays, spending family time, and traveling with kids that are out of school for winter break. This is a perfect time to start preparing the direction of your investment for the upcoming year. This time of the year people are taking into consideration their taxes and exemptions. Things to be considered range from contributing more money to IRAs by the year’s end or scouting for and buying real estate for investment or personal use. A lot of businesses will be paying bills early and some property owners may be making improvements now so the exemptions can be realized this year.

With the elections over and Trump in office, there are bound to be lots of changes that will affect the economy and your investments directly. Of course nobody can be sure exactly how things will be affected but there is a lot of speculation as you can see in the article Laura put together for us.

Interest rates have already started creeping up a little and it’s predicted that the the Federal Reserve rate will increase in December. I wouldn’t hold off too long if you’re considering purchasing real estate. Spring comes quickly and that sprouts new buyers and investors every year. So don’t miss taking advantage of this slower season to prepare properly for your year end taxes and plans for your investments for the New Year.

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving making lots of memories. Jeff brought a cooler full of snow back from upstate New York for a Thanksgiving snow ball fight in sunny Florida! Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Click here to see more pictures and videos

November 2016 Interesting Articles

These articles and more are shared daily on our Facebook. Follow us on Facebook if you would like to read more!

This article was featured in this month’s newsletter.  Please subscribe if you want to receive these updates and more each month.

November 2016 Words from Our Broker

The beautiful fall weather is here!! In Florida, it seems we have a pre-fall (where it just teases you) and then a fall season. It’s a beautiful time of year. The river water is getting colder as evidenced by the alligators on riverbanks warming their bodies. My middle and high  school years were spent growing up in the swamp of  Manshack Louisiana always excitedly watching these powerful animals. 90% of the time you’re watching them do absolutely nothing. Then that other 10% kicks in and you see them use they’re powerful jaws eating their prey.

I wish I could draw a clever parallel on how it’s election day today and the strength of candidates for president. But there is nothing funny or powerful about this election. I have to believe that this has to bring about a better selection and election process. We need good leaders and role models.  Having to choose the lesser evil is no way to run a country.

The real estate market has already started slowing to its upcoming holiday slumber. Not a lot of people like to move during the holidays. It could be a good time for you to consider doing renovations or improvements if your home hasn’t sold and it has not been updated. Taking the home off the market for a few months and then reintroducing it with a mini makeover and new MLS entry can boost your chances of getting it sold.

We’ve coordinated and overseen a lot of mini renovations for our property owners when it came time for a face lift to sell or rent. It’s amazing what a little tastefully done paint, lights fixtures, mirrors and floors can do for a place.

If your home’s roof is over 20 years old or even close to it, you may want to replace it if you intend to sell. Most banks will require it and trying to get it done under the gun of a closing date looming can be difficult and stressful.

During the spring and summer, repair and trades companies are busy, busy but come the holidays things slow down for them as well. You may be able to negotiate better prices than you would be able to get in the summer. Scrutinizing and comparing line items in your improvement estimates is a must. Finding someone you trust to do the work can be tricky. Often your top concern is to save money and you may set yourself up for a big disappointment and costly corrections if you don’t hire good folks the first time. Make sure you get a referral from someone you trust if you’re going to have work done. Because of our years of property management in this area, we have developed a strong list of trades and repair people that we supervise and can count on for good work and fair prices.

We have started renovating the river house by starting on the outside with the decks. We’re going to the cable system so we can soak up every ounce of view. After the decks we’re going to completely open up the wall along the front of the home with two sliders and big french doors. I can’t wait!  Below are pictures of the deck now and an example of the cable system we will be doing.

Wishing you all a great Thanksgiving! I hope you create beautiful memories with family and friends.

October 2016 Interesting Articles

These articles and more are shared daily on our Facebook. Follow us on Facebook if you would like to read more!

This article was featured in this month’s newsletter.  Please subscribe if you want to receive these updates and more each month.

October 2016 Words From Our Broker

Hi, it’s a beautiful fall morning on the Suwannee! I just couldn’t help but share a picture.

suwannee

This picture is right after Hurricane Matthew came through Florida. Gainesville and the surrounding counties were spared for the most part. Only a few trees down but not as bad as last month’s storm where we had a lot more rain. On the river, we had 20 mph wind gusts and light sideways rain 🙂 It simply made for an exciting and beautiful day on the river. The grandkids sure enjoyed it!

Unfortunately our east coast didn’t fair as well. There was significant flooding in St Augustine, Jacksonville, and South Carolina. Here is the link to some videos of the flooding that I shared on our Business Facebook page 

With destruction comes re-birth. It is the natural process of life but our hearts go out to those affected.

The few weeks prior to the Hurricane were spent traveling and working mobile-ly. I attended the CMLS (Council of Multiple Listing Service) annual convention at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas for our Local Board of Realtors where I serve as MLS Vice President. What a hoot! Both the conference and the town. The gist of the future of the MLS is they need to be ready to adapt to the inevitable change that is happening driven by technology. The link to the presentation below sums it up well (in my opinion). Notorious R.O.B. gave a very entertaining and insightful presentation on the future of MLS. Click here for the link.

Again another adage of popular wisdom: “Adapt and evolve or get left behind”. The crux is that old ways of Realtors not sharing information (all the homes listed and sold) are hard to let go of for many reasons (fear of replacement being the top reason, the second logistics and service). However, inevitably technology will cause some destruction of current the MLS as we know it and the creation that comes from it will eventually make information more easily accessible, understandable and measurable – ultimately making the home finding process easier. I am excited to be a part in helping work through the transitions that will take place. Not likely in the next two years but I would guess in five we will know where it’s going.

After the conference we rented a truck and spent the next two days sightseeing 900 miles of dessert! From Vegas to the Red Rock mountain, the Hoover Dam, the Grand Canyon Western Rim, the Painted Desert, and finally the Grand Canyon Southern Rim before sliding into the airport for our “Red Eye” back to Gainesville. I’ll leave out the details of almost missing our flight and only being saved by it being postponed an hour. Whew!!!! I’ll just say…don’t always trust your phone to auto adjust to time zones.

our-pilotWe were home for one day and closed on our River House. Yay!!!! Then put the bike on the auto train out of Sanford to Virginia for a few days of wet, beautiful, exciting riding through the mountains before the sun came to join in on our ride back to Florida. I loved it all! The train ride was a fun, economical, and great way to make progress traveling during sleeping hours. I highly recommend it.

Being gone so long we were ready to be home so we had a 15 hour day on the bike ride back to Florida. That’s some crazy traveling!

Thankfully with that wonderful technology that’s ever evolving how we do business, I was able to continue keep up my work flow easily. Having made it through our busy season the market is slowing down to a normal pace and not the hectic load we have during the summer and early fall. If you have properties to sell or rent you should make the most of the next month by having the property in optimal condition and correctly priced to take advantage of the activity thru October because come Thanksgiving and Christmas not many folks like to move.  Enjoy your fall weather

Click on the link to see all the pictures and video. Don’t miss the Helicopter dropping into the Grand Canyon and some wild Elk love!

What Repairs Require a Licensed Contractor?

flyerThe Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation  met with our property management council to go over what maintenance repairs require a state licensed contractor. Below are a few takeaways from the  meetings:

  • Owner builder permits say the owner has to live in the property for a year before they sell or rent the property. The above is the new law as it pertains to employees. This applies to large apartment or condo communities over 100 units and requires certifications.
  • Handyman exemption chapter 48: Any work of a casual nature under $1000 for general building or plumbing (not for electrical) is exempt.
  • Go to http://www.myfloridalicense.com/dbpr/ and go under the unlicensed activity section for a more in-depth list of what requires a permit. Section 015 talks about each different type of contractor.
  • Check the mobile app for DPBR to get instant information and the ability to report unlicensed activities.
  • Below are some stipulations for apartment community repairs:

rul

Are You Prepared for the Next Big Hurricane?

hurricane season 2016Hermine gave us all a scare and our first dose of Florida’s hurricane season.  Luckily, Hermine did not do much damage in our area aside from a few downed trees and lots of rain.  As the hurricane season gets into full swing, there are actions tenants and owners can take to ensure their personal safety and the property’s.  Below are suggestions on how to prepare for the next big storm.

Before the Next Hurricane:

  • Stock up the pantry.  All it takes is for one big storm to knock out power and block roads making you dependent on your emergency supplies.  Stocking your pantry with non-perishable food and water will aid in a crisis situation.  Adding batteries, flashlights, a portable radio, and emergency first aid kit are all good items to have on hand as well. Having these supplies stocked throughout the hurricane season ensures your family will be able to weather most worst case scenarios.
  • Clean out the gutters.  Although this may seem trivial, clogged gutters (or even slightly full gutters) can cause water damage.  Hurricanes can produce a week of rain and several inches of downpour which takes a toll on gutters.  If the gutters are not functioning properly, then the water will not be pulled away from the house creating water damage.
  • Locate emergency numbers.   If the power goes out… if damage happens to the home… if you need to evacuate, who do you call? Locate these numbers now and then put them in an easy to find place or save them in your phone.  Also create a backup plan if you cannot use your phone.

When the Hurricane is Headed your Way:

  • Bring in all outside furnishings.  Hurricanes are characterized by strong winds. Make sure to bring in all furnishings and possible projectiles located outside and on your porch.   If not secured these items can become airborne and hit windows, screens, and other property causing damage. Even small lawn ornaments need to come inside.
  • Stay inside.  Once the hurricane’s outer bands begin to hit your area, park your vehicle in a safe place and head inside.  Strong hurricanes can induce tornadoes and even mild winds from the hurricanes can cause trees and limbs to fall.  Plan to be safely inside throughout the whole hurricane.  If you know the time it will hit, you can even host a hurricane party and spend the time catching up with friends.
  • Stay updated.  Hurricanes can be upgraded and downgraded quickly.  By watching the news or listening to the radio, you can know what to expect in your area.   Staying informed lets you know the precautions you need to take and when it is safe to leave your house.

After the Hurricane Hits:

  • Do a visual inspection.  Walk around the exterior of your home and look for possible damage.  Inspect trees for dangerous limbs that may need to be removed.  Look for any roof damage or missing shingles.  Check the interior ceilings for any wet spots which would indicate a leak.
  • Report any damage.  Water damage is especially important to report as soon as possible since it can escalate quickly if it is left unaddressed.  Usually vendors do get backed up right after an especially strong hurricane.  Make sure to call right away in order to secure your spot near the top of their list.
  • Contact your insurance.  If significant damage does occur to the property, it is good to take pictures and to contact your homeowners’ insurance company immediately to learn if it is covered.  Tenants can also contact their renters’ insurance company if they sustained any damage to their personal belongings.  Have a copy of your policy on hand to ensure you get the complete coverage your policy guarantees.

For a recap of Hurricane Hermine, click here.

September 2016 Words From Our Broker

Hi,

I am writing this month’s Broker’s corner on Labor Day just a few days after the first hurricane of this season hit Florida.

Hurricane Hermine rolled in on Thursday and the whole town was a buzz of excitement with people preparing for the storm. Some prepped  by getting water and supplies while others prepared to face it with a traditional hurricane party. I’ve always loved a good Huricane party. Being we were actually already preparing for a big Family Labor Day party and sort of house warming party we were already set up for both!

We were curious to see how the new River home would fair especially because our little town was in the direct path. It turned out to be just a big storm for most of us with a lot of rain, wind, and thunder but little major damage. None of our rental properties suffered anything major just a few screens blown out and a couple of big branches down. We took a ride on the motorcycle to Lake City the next morning and saw a few trees down on power lines but for the most part the category 1 hurricane left our area peacefully. The river has risen several feet on the Suwannee. My floating island did get away and was blown a few hundred yards upstream so we got to go rescue it.  The rest of the weekend had “popcorn” showers as usual with some beautiful fast moving clouds. The storm also brought that first real feel of fall all day Monday.

The Labor Day party on Saturday was a huge amount of fun on the river with 25 close family members (half of them being kids) all fully enjoying the river. The rope swing over to the floating island was a big hit. Our vision for our new river home was fulfilled when we woke the next morning and made breakfast for the 17 peeps that were sleeping all over the place.  After a yummy banana pancake breakfast we were off for a quick boat ride to Bob’s River place for a little river water park action. Kids and adults were exhausted by sunset Sunday. We’re so fortunate to be close to our family and able to make such fun memories with them all. I shared some video of the weekend below.

This week should bring us to finally close on the River property (thank you pre-occupancy agreement). In getting ready for closing I received an interesting education on homeowners insurance and flood insurance so I thought I’d share a few things. In the past when hunting for homeowners insurance (or any insurance) it was relatively inexpensive and competitors closely priced so I didn’t bother really shopping and comparing for it like I did this time. I’ve include my spread sheet and some notes in the link below that helped me identify the policy I felt was best and see how certain aspects of coverage can change the price. Dramatically in some cases. We did end up saving about $1400 per year on flood and $400 on Home Owners policy as compared to the first quote received.

Homeowners Insurance Policy Comparisons

I hope you all enjoyed your Labor Day weekend and take advantage of the beautiful fall weather ahead of us 😊

Secure Investments Realty Newsletter August 2016

Are your turnovers giving you a headache? Check out this month’s newsletter to five easy ways to ensure your turnovers go smoothly! Plus learn how to complete a thorough move-in inspection!

Check out Secure Investments August 2016 Newsletter. Featured articles include:

  • 5 Ways to Ensure a Smooth Property Turnover
  • How to Complete a Move-In Inspection
  • Words From Our Broker
  • August 2016 Gainesville Rental Market Overview
  • Interesting Real Estate Articles
  • List of our current available properties

Landlord Permit Fee is Going Down!

Thanks to the hard work of the Property Management Council and the Political Involvement Committee,  the Landlord Permit Fee is scheduled to be reduced in the next two years until it is cost neutral.

They were also able to secure further exemptions including: exempting owners living on the property, allowing the transfer of permits, removing outrageous late fees, and putting in a multiple units/parcel discount.

For those who were not aware of this issue, according to a 2015 independent fee study that the City commissioned, the cost per permit is only $112.71. The landlord permit fee went from $84 in 2006-2007 to $177 in 2007-2008 and the city continued to raise the cost to the current price of $204.75 in 2016. It was found that the services don’t match the fee making it unchecked taxation. For the full story, please click below.

Help Us Lower the Gainesville Landlord permit fee!

5 Ways to Ensure a Smooth Property Turnover

For Gainesville property management, July 31st is THE biggest day of the year. Because of the university schedule, hundreds of leases end on this day.  Property management companies are scrambling to ensure they have documented every move-out  and contacted all needed vendors in order to have the properties prepared for the next set of tenants.  All companies related to this turnover time are slammed with work.

Property turnovers are one of the necessary parts of property management.  No tenant is going to live in your property forever.  At some point they are going to move and preparation is key to ensure it happens smoothly.  Because of the craziness of July 31st turns, those properties require special attention and preparation to ensure nothing goes wrong last minute.  The tips below will help any turnover go smoother whether it be a July 31st move-out or any other time of year. Hope this helps produce fewer gray hairs during your next turn!

  1. Smooth turnovers start during the application process.  When the property is on the market, you need to have stringent criteria to ensure you only accept the best tenants.  Most owners know they are looking for tenants with a history of paying rent on time but you also want to keep your eye out on this important intangible: respect for your property.  This important quality is harder to identify but it is important to ensure a smoother turn because tenants who respect your property leave it in better condition at move-out.  You need to make sure to complete income, credit, landlord, and background checks to get unbiased facts about how well a tenant can pay their rent and how well they treated their last property.  Strengths in these all these areas tend to correlate to how well a tenant will respect your property. Asking a previous landlord what condition the property was in at move-out can tell a lot about what you can expect.  Credit reports full of unpaid cable bills or other collections can also indicate how the applicant will value a hit to their credit report if you have to pursue them for damages not covered by a security deposit.
  2. Smooth turnovers start before move-in.  Is the property clean? Are all major repairs completed such as leaks fixed and holes patched? Does the property have upgrades and a nice coat of paint? All of these items communicate to the tenant your expectations.  If a tenant sees you do not care about the property (or that you are unwilling to fix basic issues like a leak under the kitchen sink), they will see that as the standard of care they are expected to give to the property.  This is not a good start to a year long relationship.  Always make sure the property is spruced up and clean upon move-in to communicate the best expectations about care of the property.
  3. Smooth turnovers benefit from regular inspections.  One of the easiest ways to catch large turnover work and issues is to have an inspection every 4-6 months at a property.  Allowing a trained individual to inspect the property can catch missed maintenance preventing it from becoming a larger issue and can find problems with tenant upkeep.  Discovering a damaged carpet 6 months into the lease is never enjoyable.  The earlier you know though, the easier it is to: correct the behavior causing the damage, collect reimbursement from the tenant for the damage, and estimate replacement and get the work pre-scheduled before move-out.
  4. Smooth turnovers benefit from quality vendors.  Without a team of trustworthy vendors, your turn is going to be full of headaches.  Relationships with vendors is crucial to getting a quick turn completed on schedule and on budget.  By working with vendors throughout the year, you will already know which vendor offers the best prices for the highest quality work.  This saves you precious time because you won’t have to shop around as much or worry that the job is not done well.  You will also already understand their work ethic and favored methods of communication ensuring accurate timelines, quick estimates, and possible favors if an emergency happens.  Good relationships is especially important during the July 31st turn because everyone is trying to get on the schedule for the same vendors so any leg up you can have on getting priority is beneficial.
  5. Smooth turnovers are the product of great preparation.  Plan, plan, plan, and plan some more! Turnovers can only go smoothly by thinking through them as much as 6 months in advance.  Try to learn early whether a tenant will be vacating.  Give yourself plenty of time in between the old lease and new lease to prevent the property not being ready in time.  Communicate with vendors in advance about which properties will be turning and how much work you think will need to be completed. Decide what work will be priority and what can be completed after move-in to alleviate stress on your vendors.  Create a system to ensure easy return of keys, documentation of move-out condition, and creation of work orders. Preparing for the expected and giving space for unexpected saves you money, time, and headaches.

If you read any of these and thought “that is too much work!”, you are right.  It takes a lot of work to turn a property at minimal expense.  That is why professional property managers make it their full time job to think through the right formula to minimize your headaches and expenses.  Like any home, rental properties do require money to upkeep but a professional finds you the best deal and limits the down time.  The less downtime and issues during turnover, the sooner the property can get back to producing income for you.

August 2016 Words From Our Broker

This month’s corner is being written from my front porch  on the Suwannee River watching sheets and sheets of rain fill the river. Then beautiful sunny skies spattered between the bouts of driving rain. With or without rain the river is beautiful. Always changing and alive. Very active on a sunny weekend but mostly quiet and peaceful the rest of the time…especially during a storm.

We are having a low pressure system that Florida can be famous for. It’ll be hovering over us for this next week. Thankfully too because we do need the rain. The lakes and rivers are low and lawns are getting brown. But the rain will be a challenge for a lot of work force who work on property. The construction industry will be pulling there hair out, with the rain wreaking havoc on their schedules and labor force getting a break (like it or not)…

In property management, it creates a real challenge getting our properties ready and new tenants moved in. Carpet cleaning, maid service, paint, lawn care….in the rain.  It’s a challenge just not to create more dirt. We have years of experience turning properties in the rain…just look back to last year’s Facebook post of “turning in the rain 🎶🎶🎶”. It’s getting close to hurricane season in Florida so of course, it’ll be rainy to spice up your property’s turn.

Thankfully again this year we get to see the fruit of our preparatory efforts shine through as our tenants leave the properties in great condition…for the most part. Not that we haven’t had our fair share of homes needing lots of work but those tend to be the new properties that come into management. I mean no disrespect but most homes that are not being professionally managed by a qualified person have a much larger cost to turn the property over to a new tenant. This year I was pleased to find that the majority of my properties had a very light turn over expense. This is because they’re kept in good condition throughout the year and are rented to people that take care of the home to begin with.

Property management done right can be very easy. One of my wonderful owners Mr. Lamb just recently emailed thanking us and commenting to me how he never knew owning investment property could be so easy and saying he would have done it years ago had he known! Of course, I did have to share that it’s not always this easy but….it can be 98% of the time if done right.

It’s never too late to turn a property’s performance around. We tend to get a lot of new owners this time of year ready to make a change and turn their property over to professional management. We are able to help coordinate and manage the mini renovations often needed for their properties to start attracting that quality renter. Having strong relationships with trusted vendors is the heart of a smooth turn over of a property. We’re thankful we’ve maintained our good relationships for the 25+ years I’ve been managing property in this area. I know I mentioned them in last month’s corner (and some by name) but obviously no turn can be a success without the right people and that takes nurturing those relationships all year. If your choosing to go it alone again this year, my advice to you is:

  1. Hire quality vendors you can trust
  2. Get your property in prime condition.
  3. Screen your tenant’s credit and criminal background, previous rental history and income.  If there’s a flaw….don’t rent to them or, at the least, collect a double deposit.
  4. Keep your property in good condition throughout the lease so your tenants’ renew (This is the biggest savings!)
  5. Upgrade as needed between tenants to keep your home competitive and continue to get top rent.
  6. Save yourself the hassles and extra expense and hire a good property manager.  They will usually pay for themselves several times over by taking care of items 1-5 for you 🙂

If you have a property on the sales market and you’re not getting the offers you want and cannot lower your asking price to compete, you may want to start considering renting the property. While we do rent properties year round, families like to get kids settled in their new home before school starts.

I hope you enjoy the rest of your summer. A beautiful fall is just around the corner. I created a little video of hanging outside of Bob’s River place watching the fun as kids spend some of their last days of summer at the river. I hope you enjoy yours 😊

Help Us Lower the Gainesville Landlord permit fee!

We need your help to contact the Mayor to lower the current landlord permit fee! Let your voice be heard by sending in a letter requesting a decrease.

The City’s Community Development Committee (CDC) recommends lowering the Landlord Permit Price to $118 over the course of three years. According to the 2015 independent fee study that the City commissioned, the cost per permit is only $112.71. Many of the commissioners acknowledged the fee was too high and burdensome at the September 17th, 2015 City Commission meeting. However the commissioners did not want to approve the CDC’s recommendation to reduce the Landlord Permit fee because the timing was too tight. The FY 2016 budget hearing was that same night and they recommended re-evaluating for FY 2017.

The landlord permit fee is an unfair burden on our landlords. The landlord permit fee went from $84 in 2006-2007 to $177 in 2007-2008 and the city has continued to raise the cost to the current price of $204.75. The services don’t match the fee making it unchecked taxation. Many homeowners are renting their homes because they are upside down on their mortgages and therefore cannot sell. Lowering this fee would help underwater homeowners.  Please click here to mail a letter in support of lowering the fee to the Mayor.

July 2016 Words From Our Broker

Hi! Is it really only mid July? We’ve been having 100 and above heat indexes in the beginning of June! Is it just me or has this been one of the hottest summers ever? I can’t imagine it being any hotter. It’s actually made me rethink my love for volleyball….. Or at least for afternoon volleyball. It’s absurdly hot and sucks the life right outta ya unless it’s after 6:30 pm. I’ve questioned my sanity on our Sunday 1 PM games. Aside from the heavy heat and humidity, the weather is gorgeous. Beautiful blue skies and Florida’s famous out of nowhere thunderstorms where the rain comes down in buckets reminding you of how quickly Mother Nature can work her magic. I’m hoping one day she chooses to refill our lakes out in Keystone so my property values out there improve 🙂

Lately I’ve been spending a lot of time at the Suwannee River and am looking at buying property on a beautiful high bluff close to the Sante Fe. The constantly changing river and wildlife has such a beautiful energy. It’s been a fun experience checking out the various properties along the Suwannee and learning about the various flood areas, sandy bottoms, springs, swells, various widths of the river, setback requirements etc. It’s a good reminder how important having a good Realtor is and that it really is time consuming finding the right property.  I’m a Realtor and have all the tools needed to search out the perfect property and yet it’s still very time consuming and not the easiest of tasks. Even with a good Realtor it’s so important to view the properties you’re considering in person especially if it’s not a cookie cutter style community in a suburb. There are some things you just won’t know until you experience the property by walking it and getting a feel for the land and the neighborhood. Having a great app like Realtor.com is a must. We would ride the jet ski and explore the areas by water being able to see the various property information and pictures on the app as we rode by them. I think it’d be very cool to have an organized river run open house and load up customers on a pontoon boat and take them to the various properties along the river and maybe stop for lunch along the way at a sandy beach!  It sure helps you get an idea of the values so you can make an informed decision.

Things are also heating up in the property management world and we’re in the heart of the famous “turn over season of Gainesville”. We’ve had a handful of properties turn over at the end of June and will have a larger handful throughout July. I am so thankful for how organized and attentive to detail my assistant Laura Garcia is. Because we have such good policies and systems in place coupled with her superb work habits we are able to keep our vendors on track with the multitude of work that happens at this time of year. Getting property after property, painted, cleaned and maintained and new tenants moved in one to two weeks later. We also have a lot of new owners come to us this time of year needing their property made ready for new tenants. The only way we’re able to accomplish such a large amount of work in a small amount of time is through our good trusted practices – Laura’s commitment to excellence, combined with our trusted quality vendors.  Every year it’s a challenge to see how much better we can accomplish it. There will always be bumps and the unexpected but it’s how quickly, thoroughly, and friendly, you accomplish it that matters. A big thank you to our awesome vendors like, Michael Byrne, Stellar AC, Deidre and Reggie at Carpet Systems Plus, Rocky at Titletown Plumbing and Scott Grady and of course our Laura! Keep up the great work we’re halfway there!

I made a little video of last weekend’s trip to Bob’s River place on the Suwannee. It was my first time visiting and we brought my 4 year old granddaughter Alicia. She had a blast! This place is so cool with its great big slides and rope swings into the river and its many handmade amusement water games like the log roll, hammock throw, rafting wars and the karaoke stage. It’s a must visit for sure! Enjoy ~

Secure Investments Realty June 2016 Newsletter

Looking to maximize your phone and money on your next vacation? Read our top picks for travel apps in this month’s newsletter to guarantee you have an unforgettable vacation

Check out Secure Investments June 2016 Newsletter. Featured articles include:

  • Travel Around in the World with 8 Travel Apps

  • Words From Our Broker

  • June 2016 Gainesville Rental Market Overview
  • Interesting Articles

Please subscribe if you want to receive these newsletters monthly in your inbox.

Around the World in 8 Travel Apps

Around the world in 8 travel appsSummer is here! Time to leverage that smart phone to have the best summer vacation while also saving some Benjamins…or Tubmans 🙂 If you have any favorites we left out, please feel free to share via social media.  We love trying out new apps!

Tripcase: Keeps your itineraries all in one place including flights, hotels, and rental car bookings.  You send your travel information to an email address and it automatically uploads the information to your app.  You can also share with friends and family which is a perk if you are a frequent traveler.

Skyscanner: Compares flights to find the best possible price on domestic and international travel.  You can set it up to send emails when prices dip on your saved searches.  You can track hotel and car rentals on this as well.

Bring Fido: Traveling with a furry friend? This app allows you to find pet-friendly hotels and other arrangements.  It also maps out parks near you that are pet friendly.

Airbnb: Allows you to stay in personal homes at a lower rate than a hotel usually.  Our company has personally used this for work trips and saved $100s plus had the luxury of staying in an unforgettable location.  Although this style of hotel is not for everyone, for those willing to try it out, be prepared to meet great hosts who may become a new set of friends around the world.

Citymapper: Provides detailed real-time transit information for the metro, bus system, cycling, etc. This apps helps you navigate a new city maximizing your time to see all the sites you want.   It also is integrated with Uber to make calling a car easier.

Expensify: Tracks your travel expenses in one place.  This provides easy to use reports to make budgeting easier while traveling. Also if you are a regular business traveler, it will help with reimbursement and taxes.

Timeout: Provides a directory of ideas on how to enjoy your current city.  The app covers bars, restaurants, attractions, events, concerts, etc.  You can even book through the app for some events, making you feel like an insider.

Livetrekker: Tracks you on your travels creating a digital journal of your time.  You can go back after and add pictures, video, and audio to properly document your site-seeing. It is like a digital scrapbook.

Honorable Mentions:

Postagram: Allows you to create cute postcards on your phone to mail to family and friends while traveling.

Bravolol: Plan ahead and learn some basic phrases before you travel.  Once downloaded this app needs no internet connection so you can hear the phonetic spelling to new words to become a regular linguistic connoisseur

Hitlist: This flight app finds deals for trips you are interested in taking.  You can track different destinations and they give suggestions for the best dates to plan your vacation based off airfare.

Hopper: Uses month maps to recommend best days to fly out.  Unlike other apps, they show you each day’s deals and color codes them by whether it is a good deal or not.  It will also share recommendations of when the app thinks prices will go up or down on your trip.

June 2016 Words From Our Broker

Hi,

Things are certainly heating up. And I’m not just talking about the typical hot, humid,  rainy Florida weather that’s rearing its head. The late spring/early summer begins a transition for many people in our town.

tanya chappell bimini bahamas

Between education, medical, technology and construction, our town has got it going on! Gainesville has become a great place for employment. As Gainesville grows in size with the construction of so many new commercial and residential projects, Gainesville’s economy, job market and wages are all growing – bringing us plenty of buyers and tenants. Thankfully with the robust economy fewer people have trouble qualifying to rent or buy (especially with the interest rates remaining low). We call this time of the year turnover season with so many people moving in and out of town. We have so many houses to get ready in a short amount of time. Property managers live for this time of year! Rofl 😉

With all the building happening good skilled carpenters are in high demand (which points to wage increases).  I have also heard the cost of construction materials is slated to increase in September. This means the cost of building will be increasing which will push up the cost of buying a home. It still remains true that there is no time like the present to buy property.

Keep in mind that trades people are in high demand this time of year so if you’re needing help getting your property in condition to put on the market or change over tenants, you need to plan ahead. Getting estimates now and commitments from your trades people are key to a smooth transition. This is one of the areas that having a good property manager can save you a lot of money. Not only in having trusted vendors with good rates and quality work, but also the organizational and follow through skill that’s imperative when working on getting properties ready with the shortest vacancy or down time. Time is definitely money.

This time of year also brings lots of travel for many people with kids out of school and summer fun things happening. Being in the middle of the State like we are makes it easy to enjoy the beach, the river or the springs. Being in Florida also makes it oh-so convenient for a little Island travel. This past weekend we took a charter flight out of Fort Lauderdale over to our friend’s place in Bimini, Bahamas. Such a cool little island with lots of good fishing, diving and golf cart riding fun, all just a 20 to 30 minute hop over. Their place is great and it’s for sale!!! They also have a lot for sale if you prefer to build your own. I hope someone I know buys it so I can continue to come over and live like the locals! Lol. It will need to be written into the contract. For more information about this place click here. I had plans of doing a nice little video promoting the house and lot but being my phone fell in the ocean on the first day, my life proof case not doing its job, and a rice grain becoming lodged in the plug-in port, my movie editing abilities were grounded 😮

To see more pictures from Tanya’s trip, click here.

May 2016 Interesting Articles

These articles and more are shared daily on our Facebook. Follow us on Facebook if you would like to read more!

This article was featured in this month’s newsletter.  Please subscribe if you want to receive these updates and more each month.

New Changes in theTenant Screening Process

The Department of Housing and Urban Development released a new guideline about a possible violation of the Fair Housing Act when denying criminals. The key takeway is this:  Be careful when denying someone based on their criminal record. You can deny if you are protecting the public from offenders of violent crimes and sexual predators. Misdemeanors are not usually a justifiable cause.

You can learn more by reading the following article:
Denying Housing Over Criminal Record May Be Discrimination, Feds Say

Secure Investments Realty May 2016 Newsletter

Interested in increasing your property’s ROI? Watch the transformation of these properties in this month’s newsletter.

Check out Secure Investments May 2016 Newsletter. Featured articles include:

  • 3/3.5 Lofts Oasis Renovation

  • 2/2.5 Casablanca West Renovation

  • New Changes in theTenant Screening Process

  • Words From Our Broker
  • May 2016 Gainesville Rental Market Overview
  • List of our current available properties
  • Interesting Articles

Please subscribe if you want to receive these newsletters monthly in your inbox.

Before & After: 3/3.5 Lofts Oasis Condo Renovation

Improving your property’s overall condition not only saves you money but it saves you time and stress. If your property needs work, it will attract less quality buyers and tenants.

With this 3/3.5 Lofts Oasis Condo, the industrial style design was no longer an attribute to the property due to wear and tear. In order to increase the rental rate and eventual re-sale value, the renovation focused on:
– Installing new flooring to cover up the current stained and gouged concrete floors
– Painting the bare concrete walls to make the property more inviting
– Cleaning and addressing maintenance concerns such as plumbing and A/C

Before & After: 2/2.5 Casablanca West Condo Renovation

Improving your property’s overall condition not only saves you money but it saves you time and stress. If your property needs work, you will attract lower quality buyers and tenants.

The main areas that make the biggest difference is exterior condition, paint, flooring, appliances, countertops, and light, plumbing, and bath fixtures (tubs/caulk/tile). Sounds like everything doesn’t it? Often only some of it is needed. Most commonly paint, flooring and appliances. These three things should always be in good condition, clean and updated, without stains or defects. Once these areas are addressed, you are guaranteed to start attracting higher quality tenants.

With this Casablanca West property, we had to update most of the property. The following are highlights of the renovation:
– Replace and update all bathroom mirrors and light fixtures
– Install new carpet upstairs and on the stairwell
– Install new vinyl in one upstairs bathroom
– Freshly paint the whole property (doors, trim, ceiling, and walls)
– Install a new dishwasher, stove, and range hood
– Re-screen the back porch
– Complete a thorough maid service throughout

May 2016 Words From Our Broker

Hi,

This month’s corner evolved from the cool breeze morning on my front porch office 😉 as most do… This morning it’s clear I’m enjoying some of the last cool mornings of this season. Soon it’ll be hot and humid first thing in the morning. So I’ll definitely enjoy it while it lasts.File May 09, 3 13 44 PM

The real estate market has been ever increasingly active. We’ve had a lot of properties enter the sales market this season.  Some to test it and see if they can get their price, others deciding they have come to an end of their landlording times 😉

We’ve helped investors buying more properties to rent, new people becoming investors and trying out the landlord life, parents buying homes and condos for their kids for their time in Gainesville, and of course those parents that have kids that decide to (OMG) transfer away or leave UF (some unexpectedly. Ouch… ) and current owners renovating properties to increase both rental and sales value.  This is definitely prime time in Gainesville!

Last month’s tax time was time to review how your investment property is performing and determine if it is working to its best ability or if it’s time to make needed changes. This usually comes in the form of evaluating current management and/or needed improvements and often both.

Sometimes it’s as easy as evaluating current management practices and hiring or changing your current property manager (maybe finally firing your-untrained-self). It can also be a time to listen to your professional Realtor and property manager on what changes you can make to increase the value of your property to allow it to sell quicker and at a higher price or allowing it to rent to a better quality tenant and usually for more money.

Improving your property’s overall condition not only saves you money but it saves you time and stress. If your property needs work you will attract less quality buyers and tenants.  Communications in this realm can also be of less desirable content causing emotional stress and wasting precious time, money and energy.

If you’re also trying to manage or sell the property yourself and you’re not a professional with all the resources available to us today or you’re not experienced in our local market, it can be a real downer and a very expensive lesson.

Nothing makes me love my job more than being able to turn a property’s performance around. It is one of the primary reasons I have chosen to specialize in real estate management all of my adult life and some of my teen years. Whether I’m looking at the property to sell it or to rent it, my first step is to evaluate the property’s current maintenance needs as well as any improvement opportunities.

The main areas that make the biggest difference is exterior condition, paint, flooring, appliances, countertops, and light plumbing and bath fixtures (tubs/caulk/tile). Sounds like everything doesn’t it? Often only some of it is needed. Most commonly paint, flooring and appliances. These three things should always be in good condition, clean and updated, without stains or defects. If it is a single-family home, a major lawn cleanup is needed and re-freshening with flowers, bushes, and mulch if needed.

It’s not only important to have these items be in good condition but to pick updated styles and colors are equally important. In the past couple of months we have successfully turned around properties by making recommendations, selecting desirable materials and hiring and supervising quality vendors. Then sitting back and watching the rewards of these efforts evolve through quality tenants moving in and taking good care of the property resulting in very happy owners! Ahhh the manifold rewards of success.

These days it seems I’ve been a bit video crazy.  It’s just so much easier to express and relay information quickly this way. For this month’s newsletter we’ve put together a renovation video with before and after clips. I hope you enjoy. Let us know if we can work our magic on your property 😉

Work hard and play harder right? This past month I attended a tactical shooting class and also took a bike ride to Virginia to white water raft some class five Rapids on the New River. It’s was an amazing trip!

The gun class made me a lot more comfortable with my lil 9mm. I hope you enjoy the videos I put together of these adventures.

Of course my favorite is the one of my little Alicia climbing in my beach chairs back pack. She lights up my heart like nothing else!

 

April 2016 Interesting Articles

These articles and more are shared daily on our Facebook. Follow us on Facebook if you would like to read more!

This article was featured in this month’s newsletter.  Please subscribe if you want to receive these updates and more each month.

April 2016 Secure Investments Realty Newsletter

Not sure whether to rent or sell your rental property? Check out this month’s newsletter to find a social fitness group that fits your needs!

Check out Secure Investments April 2016 Newsletter. Featured articles include:

  • Rent It or List It: 5 Questions to Ask Before Selling Your Rental Property
  • Words From Our Broker
  • Interesting Articles
  • April 2016 Gainesville Rental Market Overview
  • Tanya’s Trip to Santa Fe River Video
  • List of our current available properties

Beware! Closing Transaction Scam

The National Association of Realtors just released a warning alerting Realtors about how scammers are hacking into the email of a real estate agent or lender to pilfer closing funds.  The Federal Trade Commission worked with the National Association of Realtors to post a warning on its website to prevent future scams.  We recently shared an article to help educate our customers on how to prevent being hacked.  Today we received a scam email for one of our current closings.  Below is a print screen for you all to stay informed about what these scams look like.  Remember never open any attachments from email accounts you do not recognize.  If you want to read more,  feel free to educate yourself with the following article: How scammers hack into your transactions

real estate scam alert

5 Questions to Ask Before Selling a Rental Property

rent it or list it secure investments edition

As outlined by Tanya in our “Words from Our Broker”, Gainesville’s sales market is experiencing a shortage of median priced inventory.  With a better sales market, property owners are weighing the options of listing their property or continuing to rent it. Every property and owner’s situation is unique; there is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. The real estate market can be unpredictable and there is no guarantee that either option will go exactly as planned. We always recommend talking to Tanya or another qualified Realtor® before making a final decision. Make sure to pick a Realtor® with experience in both rentals and sales when asking for advice. Here are some tools to help you start making your preliminary decision of whether you should…. Rent It or List It.

Questions to Ask Before Selling a Rental Property:

1. Are you sick of being a landlord?
Not everyone is cut out to be a landlord. Renting property can be stressful and unpredictable. Being a landlord takes work and the ability to handle the highs and lows. If you know you don’t have the stomach or patience for it, it may be better to sell and choose a different investment route.

2. Is the area depreciating or appreciating?

If the neighborhood has been going up in value, it may still have a ways to go before you reach the best point to sell. If it is depreciating, now may be the best time to sell before your sales price goes down even more. If you have already broke even or made as much profit as you would like, an appreciating sales market can be the best time to sell if you are tired of being a landlord as well.

3. Do you have a better place to invest?

Calculate the returns you are getting each year with your rental property. If you can get better returns in other places such as in an IRA or another rental home, then now may be the best time to sell. You want to make your money work for you. Also if you need the money to retire or make a family move, selling a property can provide you with the immediate capital you need for your next step in life.

4. How much can you sell the property for?

Call our company or a Realtor® in the area and ask to see recently sold homes (comparables) in the area. Once you have enough research to determine a realistic sales price, run the numbers to see whether you can make more money selling the property than renting it. Be sure to look at it long term as well and take all factors into consideration such as Realtor® fees, renovation needs, and vacancy rates. Selling a house can give you a lot of cash immediately but you might have made more 15 years down the road by holding and renting for a while before selling.

Questions to Ask Before Putting a Property Up for Rent:

1. Will you ever want to move back to the area or will you have kids going to school in the area soon?

It may be cheaper to rent your house and move back in when you return or your kids move in when it’s time for college, instead of paying commissions to sell your current property and the purchase of another one when you get back. You also won’t be able to predict how much the prices will increase in the area when you are ready to move back. If you have kids going to school in the area, adding their name to the deed will allow you to claim homestead tax exemption and further save money.

2. Can you rent your home for enough money to cover the mortgage payment and expenses?

If you can cover the expenses, renting can be a smart way to help fund your retirement. If you have enough expenses to deduct like mortgage interest, property management fees, maintenance expenses, insurance and property taxes, you may not have income on paper that would be taxed. Your savings will be in the form of equity appreciation. Essentially the rent will be paying your mortgage and building equity; thus reducing your debt. When you’re ready you can sell the house and convert your equity into a lump sum, or continue renting it and collecting income during your retirement. Keep in mind you will want to talk to your accountant so they can explain the capital gains taxes you will pay when you sell.

3. What’s your home’s condition?

A common mistake is thinking that renters won’t care much about worn out flooring or fixtures. The homes condition is a direct reflection on the rent income you will get and the type of tenant you will attract. If you’re trying to rent a home that is not in good condition, you will generally not be able to rent it for the optimal price nor will you be able to attract good renters. Landlords often set themselves up for failure by not preparing the property properly to attract a good renter. When tenants see you respect your home, they will in turn respect your home. The opposite is also true.

Our company does not represent properties that are not in good condition. If we did we would spend all of our time handling complaints and maintenance issues. This is the type of situation that will make you regret getting into this business to begin with. If you’re spending all your time fighting problems, no amount of money tends to be worth it. By spending the money upfront getting your property ready and making sure it is in good condition, you will be able to charge the highest possible rent for that property and attract the best possible tenants. Your savings will come in the lack of vacancy time and maintenance needed throughout a tenancy and satisfied tenants who will stay in the property longer and help you pay off the debt. Most of your expenses come when turning the property over and having to find new tenants. Keeping good tenants happy is always best financial decision.

4. Are you willing to pay to maintain the home?

One of my general rule of thumb when buying an investment property is: Can I afford to pay four month’s worth of mortgage payments without rent income? You have to be prepared in the event of a vacancy or bad tenant. I’ve never had to go four months without rent on any of my properties but you need to be prepared if you have a tenant that doesn’t pay rent and you need to evict them and get the property ready for a new tenant. I find an average of four month’s rent works in this scenario.

As a landlord, you are required to completely maintain the property. The tenants will usually be responsible for the lawn upkeep but anything that breaks in the property you as the landlord are responsible to pay for the repair. This then becomes a good deduction from the income. With a good management company, they will be able to determine if the repair was needed due to the tenants neglect. If so, they will in turn charge the tenant to reimburse you for your cost. Between each tenant you’ll expect to have some cost turning the property over. This usually entails: touch-up paint, cleaning, spring cleaning on the exterior (tree and bush trimming, mulch, power washing, etc.) and minor maintenance. We find inspecting the property every four months tremendously cuts down on the amount of work needed when the tenant vacates. You will be able to charge the tenants for the damages they created and deduct it from their security deposit, but you can’t charge for normal wear and tear.

If you are okay with handling the upkeep of a rental, or can afford to pay a management company to handle the property for you, and it makes sense financially then I feel it’s a no brainier. If you can’t live with that stress, selling rather than renting your home may be your best move.

Words From Our Broker April 2016

A happy spring hello to everyone,

When I wrote last month spring had just sprung 😉 Now we have a nice full thick coat of green pollen on everything! People who don’t normally have allergies this season still experience some issues with the pollen especially if you work outside all day (which I love to do). Be sure to keep some local honey in your diet to help reduce the effects. I take mine in my two cups of coffee every morning. 😉

The front page of last month’s Gainesville Business Report says it all. “Shortage of Qualified Construction Workers are Creating Challenge for Local Companies”. I didn’t need to read the report to know that for a fact. I get this information firsthand from my boyfriend who has a commercial construction company. His biggest challenge these days is finding reliable and qualified workers. It’s very cool to have this insight so I can see the “big picture” when it comes to the real estate market and changes that lie ahead. I don’t have to be that smart to figure out if he’s having to pay more for an experienced carpenter his prices are going to have to go up. That means the cost of building will go up. Gainesville’s current median price home inventory is low which means more people will have to turn to building new homes to get what they want.

I’ve spent a lot of time this past week talking to friends that are real estate brokers and owners about our local market trends from wages to business growth and challenges. I gotta give a shout out and say thank you for being a member of such a supportive Realtor community! It is one of the blessings of being a member of the Gainesville Alachua County Association of Realtors. I have been told that this openness is not the case in all markets and I have experienced that to be true.

Everyone I spoke to said they were experiencing properties leaving their property management inventory and being sold. At the same time though, investors are buying property and putting them in to their management inventory. It is so helpful to be so close to all of it: construction, property management and real estate sales. I started seeing the changes in the construction industry a couple of years ago when some of the construction, painting and handyman vendors I would normally turn to for back up, no longer had time for my work. That was the beginning….

All of these are neon signs for “The time to buy is now!!!” Especially with the interest rates on a 30-year fixed rate mortgage falling from 3.71 to 3.59 last week. If this is a good time for buyers to be in the market, then it’s certainly a good time to sell your home. While we do specialize in property management we are also a full-service real estate office and can provide you with a market analysis.  We want to help you determine the sales value of your home so you can decide whether it’s a good time to sell and we can represent you in selling your home.

You can see from my short video clip below that it was a packed house at the recent Builders Association Of North Central Florida annual horseshoe tournament. Another sign that business is good! Kudos and a big thank you to Jeff and Patti Moser for hosting this awesome event annually for both the Realtors’ and Builders’ Association.


With spring also comes spring break for the kids. This year I took my daughter and college spring breaker to Siesta Key for a few days. Then we took my mother and other daughter, granddaughter and family to the lower Sante Fe River close to both Ichetucknee and Suwannee River where we rented a house through Airbnb.

Then a quick car ride to make it back in time for our annual Easter Celebration at my sisters house. What a fun, family filled month it has been! Our Easter celebration is so much fun. The kids have quickly outnumbered the adults and the family pyramid is getting trickier! I put together a couple of quick little iMovie clips in the link below.


Because I love Siesta Key Beach Village area I did a little walking tour video of the place we rented. If you’re ever heading that way and need a recommendation, I highly recommend this place.  I can also recommend some other great places near the beach 🙂

Have a great month!

Alachua County Real Estate Report – March 2016

For those looking to sell this year or the next, this report from our friends at Coldwell Banker shows favorable market trends in Alachua County. Supply is low in the single family market now which could prove favorable to those wishing to sell in the coming years.  For those wishing to end their stint as a landlord, now may be the time. If you are not interested in selling, low inventory can prove favorable for the rental market as well. Less houses to buy and possible higher prices means more people will need to rent.  If you need help renting or buying a home in Alachua County, feel free to email us at info@secureinvestmentsrealty.com.  We would love to share more information specific to your neighborhood and home.

Alachua County Real Estate Market

4/2 large home in High Springs on 5 acres

Secure Investments Realty March 2016 Newsletter

Learn the best way to deduct business expenses, mileage and more before filing your business’ taxes in this month’s newsletter.

Check out March 2016 Secure Investments Newsletter. Featured articles include:

  • Tax Strategies & Business Planning for Real Estate Professionals

  • Tanya at Sporting Clays Classic

  • Words From Our Broker
  • March 2016 Gainesville Rental Market Overview
  • List of our current available properties

Please subscribe if you want to receive these newsletters monthly in your inbox.

March 2016 Words From Our Broker

Photo Mar 01, 10 39 47 AMYay it’s March!! The beginning of spring 🙂 Probably almost everybody’s favorite time of year, especially when you live in beautiful Gainesville and Alachua Florida. While the beginning of the new year is a time for planning… the beginning of spring is a time for action.

All of our flowers and trees are beginning their budding and some have even bloomed early. This is a great time to get to work in your garden, cleaning out the old and getting ready for the new. Spring cleaning of cabinets and closets, exterior washing of siding, sidewalks and driveways, and polish off by replenishing mulch and trimming trees and bushes. Folks are also making reservations for spring break with their kids,  summer vacation with their honey, and putting this year’s volleyball tournaments on the calendar because you’re finally healthy enough again to compete …lol …. forgive me I digressed 😉

But clearly it is a time of action. We are in the process of renewing leases and putting properties on the market for rent and listing properties for sale for those owners who no longer want to be a landlord. For most property types the values have recovered enough for some owners to get out of the landlord business. We know being a landlord is not for everyone and that becomes clear every year around this time.

I find on average that I manage properties for an owner for about 3 to 5 years before they decide to sell the property. Our typical owner is not the investor doing this on purpose. It’s the owners that can’t realize the profit they want from selling now.  They need us to hibernate the property for them, keeping it in good condition and helping pay their monthly mortgage by putting a good renter in place until the owner can turn around and sell it for a profit; all while the property is gaining appreciation and increasing in value along the way.

Often this time of year an owner will put their property on the market for the price they need (not necessarily the market price) hoping to sell it. If you do this just bear in mind that if you need to keep the property rented to help cover your mortgage, you don’t want to wait too long to put it back on the rental market so you can secure a good responsible tenant. It’s always a fine balancing act. We prefer to have properties on the market at least three months before you need to have a tenant in place. It is definitely easier to sell the property when it’s vacant but just don’t wait too long to secure a new tenant.

Listening to your Realtors advice about the accurate value of your property will save you a lot of stress and money over this dilemma. If you’re one of our owners that has been referred to us by another realtor and you would like to sell your property we always ask you to go back to that Realtor when you decide to sell. However if you don’t have a Realtor you trust to help you, we are more than qualified and happy to help you by determining the value of your property and advise you accordingly. If it turns out to be a good time for you to sell we will happily handle that transaction for you in the same smooth and efficient manner in which we have managed your property. Ive been helping folks buy and sell real estate for over 25 years as well as buying and selling my own investment properties.Photo Feb 22, 11 49 17 AM

Of course it should never be all work and no play. This past month I took a long weekend in Bimini in the Bahamas which is a quick 30 min plane ride from Ft. Lauderdale. The fishing was great and the views even better! This island is so untouched that you can’t help but relax. I also fully enjoyed watching a favorite band, Southern Culture on the Skids at The Colonial St. Augustine Amphitheater. What a really cool venue that I didn’t know existed right off George street. I also couldn’t help but add a video of my busting a double at a Boy Scout fundraiser event “Sporting Clays Classic” at the Bradford Sportsman’s farm 😉

Be sure to take some time to enjoy this spring and don’t neglect to put your New Years plans to action!

CLICK HERE to see Tanyas Pictures and Video

This article was featured in this month’s newsletter.  Please subscribe if you want to receive these updates and more each month.

Read similar blog posts from “Words From Our Broker”:

Words From our Broker – January 2015

Words From our Broker – November 2015

 

Tax Stratagies & Business Planning for Real Estate Professionals

Tax Strategies & Business Planning for Real Estate Professionals

By Jo Ann Koontz, Esq, CPA, Koontz & Associates PL, 941-225-2615

  • All Realtors should operate under an LLC if you work for another Broker or a S-Corp if you are the Broker. There is a tax savings in the S-Corp filing status. Basically your dividends (profit above your salary) gets taxed at a lesser percent.
  • Most Realtors don’t know you need to put the letter P for professionally licensed before the business entity classification of LLC so it becomes PLLC or if your a Corporation, it’s PA which stands for a professional association. The purpose of being an PLLC (LLC) or PA (Corp) is to limit your liability. Seven years ago you didn’t need to have the P for professional association in the name. You are grandfathered in. Real Estate Agents are required to have these letters of designation of status in their name with FREC on your business cards and on your signs.
  • Corporations must file annual meeting minutes each year with the Florida Department of corporations, have a separate tax ID, and separate bank account. An LLC isn’t required to file annual minutes.
  • The primary advantage of an LLC over a partnership is that all LLC members are protected from personal liability for the entity-level obligations.
  • As a Corp or  LLC you cannot co-mingle  personal money in your business account.
  • Money you use to start your business is capital that will not be taxed when you take it back out. But you need to classify it correctly in order for that to happen.
  • Income from rental properties are characterized as passive income subject to 3.8% tax. An exception to this rule relates to rental real estate professionals. The IRS determines that status based on the following criteria:
    • More than one-half of the personal services you perform in all of your activities during the year must involve real property trades or business in which you materially participate.
    • You must perform more than 750 hours of service during the year in those real property trades or business.
    • A real property trade or business is any real property development, redevelopment, construction, reconstruction, acquisitions, conversions, rental management, leasing or brokerage trade or business.
  • If you own rental property as well as practice real estate as a profession you cannot put your personal rentals under your business practice corporation. Put your rental property under a separate LLC.
  • Realtors routinely have high risk especially on these expenses:
    • Auto/Mileage
    • Meals and Entertainment
    • Advertising
  • Meal deductions: Five W’s on actual meal receipts.Who, what, when, where, and why to be deductible. Save the actual receipts do not rely on credit card statement.
  • Business mileage tracker apps are a great way to track your mileage. You must have where you’re going and why and your start and end mileage.
  • Great apps to track business mileage: Trip miles and Mile IQ
  • You can lease your car to your company and instead of mileage deduction you can do actual cost (gas, repairs, payments, insurance). Be sure to add your company name to your car insurance or you’re not covered. If you have assistants that run errands you need non auto owned coverage for them it’s not expensive.
  • Advertising must be for actual advertising. If you’re sponsoring a professional gathering that isn’t advertising. You can classify those under promotions public or public relations but it’s a red flag if your advertising dollar is too high.
  • Travel- document the five W’s again. If part of the travel is personal, you can only claim the deduct for the business time.
  • Home office deduction: equates to on average about $400- $600 savings a year – not worth cheating. There’s a max.
  • You can’t have another office available to you. Another desk somewhere. You can’t just decide you like working at home and write it off.
  • You can’t have personal stuff in your home office like a bed clothes etc.
  • You should have a second phone line. The items that are deductible are a portion (based on square feet) of RE taxes, mortgage interest, utilities, Internet, repairs and depreciation. It’s not recommended that you take the depreciation deduction on your home because it will affect your capital gains tax when you sell the property.

To read the printout from the class, please click here.

Read similar blog posts:

February 2016 Interesting Articles

Why Single Family Rentals aren’t Coming Home Anytime Soon

Florida’s strong job growth boosts home values

Guide to Greater Gainesville

Average long-term US mortgage rates fell this week for a fourth straight week

4 real estate tech tools to improve your business

Why the millennial generation is the next disruption in real estate

Congress renews tax breaks in year-end legislation

Retiring? New study says Florida is No. 1

7 Things People Forget to Do Before They Move

Who Drives Rental Property Market Growth in 2016?

Have a client looking for property management?

This article was featured in this month’s newsletter.  Please subscribe if you want to receive these updates and more each month.

 

Secure Investments Realty February 2016 Newsletter

Are you ready for the market rebound? Check out this month’s newsletter to find out!

Check out Secure Investments February 2016 Newsletter. Featured articles include:

  • Are You Ready for the Market Rebound?
  • Words From Our Broker
  • February 2016 Gainesville Rental Market Overview
  • List of our current available properties

This article was featured in this month’s newsletter.  Please subscribe if you want to receive these updates and more each month.

From Inman: The millennial generation is the next real estate disruption in real estate

* Originally printed in Inman News

I’m a member of the millennial generation, I’m a Realtor and I’m a renter.

What if the next disruption in real estate is not a new technology? What if the next disruption is instead a generation — a generation that does not value homeownership the way prior generations have.

The real estate industry will tell you that millennials have thus far delayed homeownership. Perhaps delayed is not the right word, and instead millennials are forgoing homeownership for other reasons.

gilaxia / iStock.com

gilaxia / iStock.com

You’ve probably heard plenty about student loan debt as a key reason millennials aren’t buying. Is that the case for some? Sure. But what I hear way more often are reasons of flexibility and convenience.

Here are a few examples from my personal sphere: Who wants to be tied down to a house? What if I get an awesome job and need to move quickly? I like to keep my options open and a 30-year mortgage doesn’t really feel like keeping my options open.

Millennials and homeownership

Perhaps millennials view homeownership in the same way they view marriage — many are disenchanted with what they perceive to be an outdated tradition.

Others too see renting as the best way to maximize lifestyle. For me personally, I’m a huge fan of high-rises — lock-and-leave convenience, zero maintenance and a built-in community with my 120 neighbors plus easy access to the amenities I want.

In Houston, the best high-rises, those in the best locations, are all rental buildings. I live within walking distance of work, cafes, a neighborhood pub, shops and restaurants. This is my definition of the best way to live — right in the middle of the life I want.

Instead of buying a house in the burbs and spending hours in traffic, I get to spend more time with my family and community.

Why the old reasons to buy are tired

The old (and tired) argument is that buying a house is the smart financial choice for everyone — that buying is the holy grail of investing and renting is the same as throwing money down the drain. I disagree.

Rather than tie up money in a home, I choose to reinvest in my business, a profitable venture that has created jobs for other people. It’s not just the down payment consideration but also the ability to take on debt for other things should the need arise.

What about the mortgage interest deduction? The deduction does not necessarily make up for the huge amount of interest a homeowner pays over the life of the loan. For a $250,000 mortgage at 4 percent, a homeowner would pay nearly $179,674 in interest over the life of the loan. That’s an average of $5,989 per year.

For someone in the 25 percent tax bracket, the deduction savings would be just under $1,500 a year on average. This seems like a case of spending money to save money. My mom used to buy things she didn’t need just because they were on sale, and that never made sense to me either.

Also, keep in mind that it’s a deduction only available to those who itemize versus taking the standard deduction. Just because the deduction exists today does not mean it will be around for the long haul. The deduction is increasingly the topic of political conversations, and there is no guarantee it won’t be on the political chopping block in the future.

Keeping up with the Joneses

Lastly, millennials aren’t really a generation defined by our possessions. We don’t look around and define success by who owns the biggest house with the best car in the driveway.

The people we admire most are those who write their own story and live life as an adventure. Many of us want to live with less and find a way to give more. Keeping up with the Joneses? Boring.

For millennials, homeownership is no longer the heart of the American dream — and that sure seems like a disruption to me.

Sarah Jones is the CEO Bamboo Realty. Follow her on Twitter or connect with her on LinkedIn

From Inman News: 4 real estate tech tools

*Originally from Inman News

As I browsed the companies featured in Startup Alley at Inman Connect New York and heard the real estate tech tools and systems touted from the stage, the number of choices seemed overwhelming.

How can you tell which innovations are good for business and which are shiny objects or costly disruptions?

Two primary challenges that agents face when they add a new tool or system is the learning curve required plus the disruption to their business during the implementation stages.

The degree of disruption depends on how important the app, tool or system is to the overall functioning of your business.

For example, switching from Google Maps on your mobile phone to the Waze app is unlikely to disrupt your business. On the other hand, changing your computer operating system, your CRM or your accounting system could have a profoundly negative effect, especially if the provider goes out of business and leaves you hanging.

Given this scenario, which solutions from ICNY should you be considering for your business? Here are four possibilities worth your attention:

Looking for a CRM? Check out Realvolve

If you’re not using a CRM, it’s an essential component in growing your business and increasing your efficiency. If you are relying on Top Producer, Sales Force, Follow Up Boss or some other system, switching to a new system can provide some benefits that your current system lacks.

The pivotal issue is whether the new functionality is valuable enough to risk disrupting your business.

If you are looking for a standalone CRM, Realvolve has garnered a lot of industry buzz, and when you examine its functionality, the reasons are obvious.

Like most other CRMs, Realvolve allows you to track properties and transactions; manage your contacts; communicate with your database through email, SMS or social media; manage deadlines and synch with Google Apps and Evernote.

What makes Realvolve different is its use of predictive analytics. The system collects, stores and analyzes every task you perform including email, lunch meetings, showings and closings.

It also tracks your year-to-date income, average sales price, year-to-date commission and average commission. Furthermore, the system categorizes where each person is in your sales funnel (lead, client, past client, etc.) and helps you to evaluate where your time is best spent to make more sales.

Want everything in one place? RealtyAPX

Although there are plenty of tools available to agents and brokers, integrating them is a major challenge. RealtyAPX has tackled this problem and integrated almost all the functionality that an agent or broker would need in one place.

On the agent side, the CRM provides the same functionality as most do. The CRM is also completely integrated into its digital signature and transaction management platform. RealtyAPX also provides a simple email and social media campaign solution.

Its open house tool allows you to capture visitors from your mobile device. Also, you can automatically schedule appointments, request feedback, conduct surveys about your listings and send lockbox information with a click of a button.

On the brokerage side, it offers a completely paperless office solution, reports on the strengths and weaknesses in your business, all-in-one marketing reports, tools for sharing and distributing leads, custom and template websites, plus the ability to add widgets from your favorite websites.

Tired of carrying two phones? Get two numbers for the price of one with Mast Mobile

Are you one of the thousands of real estate professionals who carries two phones? Do you want to be able to distinguish between personal calls and business calls for yourself, your team or your office?

If so, Mast Mobile offers solutions for both individuals and companies that will save users time and money. Mast Mobile users have one work number for everything.

Unlike Google Voice that requires you to use an app, Mast Mobile separates personal calls from your business contacts with no extra steps required.

Looking for the best home disclosure report in the business? Check out HomeDisclosure.com

Until recently, Housefax was the best source for detailed housing disclosure information.

RealtyTrac, known for years as the best source for foreclosure and default data, has launched a powerful new consumer and agent tool,HomeDisclosure.com. As opposed to Housefax, which charges $29.95 per report, HomeDisclosure.com provides this data for free.

What makes this tool particularly compelling is the depth of the data that it provides; it includes 40 different categories and nearly 120 million searchable properties.

Data includes an estimated value of the property, school rankings, address and pictures of nearby sex offenders, the risk of environmental hazards such as earthquakes, flooding and tornadoes, plus crime risk.

The report also includes loan and equity information, building permits, tax history, bedroom-bath count and square footage data. The sales and transaction history, comparable sales and fair market rent value are also included. This is a powerful tool that provides your clients with the need-to-know data that they want.

Hopefully now that I’ve done the grunt work of rooting through a lot of new technology, you will be able to figure out which tools can help your business. Good luck, and steer clear of shiny object syndrome.

Bernice Ross, CEO of RealEstateCoach.com, is a national speaker, author and trainer with over 1,000 published articles and two best-selling real estate books. Learn about her training programs at www.RealEstateCoach.com/AgentTraining and www.RealEstateCoach.com/newagent.

From Inman News: Why hold single family rentals

*Article orginally published in Inman News

Recently speculation has mounted that conditions are right for significant portion of the 5.4 million single family homes that switched from ownership top rentals during the foreclosure era to return to the fold like prodigal children now that inventories are running on empty.

Prices are right, the thinking goes, and by now all those small investors who put their money into rental real estate must be tired of being landlords. Now they can recoup their principal and pocket a nice profit without ever cleaning up after another messy tenant again.

You’ve got to be kidding me.

Right now, this very market, is exactly the one those single family renter investors have been praying for all these years. Apartment rents are rising at record pace, reaching 5.8 percent in the fourth quarter, the highest rate of increase since 2007.

Rents are expected to remain well above long-term averages in both annual effective rent growth and occupancy rate during 2016, the market’s seventh year of post-recession expansion.

Axiometrics forecasts rent growth slowing a little next year to an average 3.8 percent, with occupancy averaging 94.6 percent. That’s nearly 4 percent more cash in the pocket of every landlord who didn’t sell out in 2016. Single family homes rent for about 1.5 to 1.6 times the average multifamily unit. Who in their right mind would leave the party when they just broke out the birthday cake?

Current state of single family rentals

People invest in single family rentals (SFR) because they have dual income streams: cash flow generated by rents and appreciation of the property’s value over time. Both rents and appreciation are at their peaks right now in the country’s hotter markets.

These are also exactly the same markets where inventories of entry-level homes are desperately low — so low they are a deterrent to sales. Landlords love the inventory drought. It drives up both sides of the equation. The properties appreciate faster and their tenants re-up for another year because they can’t find an affordable first-home to buy.

There’s no reason to believe the large numbers of homes that went from ownership to rental will ever switch back; after all, there’s nothing new about single family rentals.

According to a report by Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies, in 2011 when the foreclosure crisis had yet to peak, some 35 percent of all rental units were single family rentals compared to apartments, which accounted for just 29 percent.

However, if even a small slice of today’s 15,194,827 single family rentals converted to ownership, the impact on inventories would he dramatic.

What would it take to move investors to sell?

Certainly, a complete reversal of current occupancy trends would do the trick. Today rental occupancy was 95 percent in the fourth quarter, the highest Q4 rate since the 95.9 percent at the end of 2000.

In the Great Recession of 2009, vacancy levels nationally rose to a 22-year high of 7.5 percent in the April-to-June period, up from 6.1 percent a year earlier. Nothing will make SFR investors more nervous than vacant homes. When a multifamily building has several vacancies, it’s a problem. When a rental home has a vacancy, it’s a crisis.

Vacancy rates for SFRs are hard to track today. One source is rentals incorporated in the 22 securitizations by large hedge funds to date.

A recent Morningstar report found that retention rates in those securitizations are trending higher in today’s market while turnover rates have stabilized or are generally declining. Yet not all tranches are faring well. Turnover rates increased to 6.1 percent and 5 percent, respectively, in November, making them the two highest turnover rates for November.

As long as demand outstrips supply the prospects are slim that significant numbers of SFRs will revert back to ownership, especially in hotter markets. But that might change.

The factors at play for reaching equilibrium

The magnitude of new apartment construction that has come online so far in 2015 is much greater than anything seen over the past few years. The annualized number of completions in just the first half of 2015 was 285,000 units, 35,000 more than were added in 2014. Moreover, multifamily permits increased nationally by 52,000 year-over-year, surging in the first half of 2015 to the highest level since 1986.

“Increasing multifamily permits indicate that construction starts and completions will remain elevated for several more years. Although demand also will remain elevated, we expect vacancy rates to tick up slightly and rent growth to slow down in the short term, before markets reach equilibrium near historical average levels,” it said in Freddie Mac’s multifamily outlook for the second half of 2015.

Will multifamily construction and overshoot demand? The opening of enough new capacity to relieve the pressure on rents and vacancy rates and bring supply and demand into better balance could be enough to cause vacancies in the SFR market and encourage more small investors to cash in.

Steve Cook is editor and co-publisher of Real Estate Economy Watch. Visit him on LinkedIn and Facebook.

Read the original article here.

February 2016 Words from our Broker

Tanya Chappell Secure InvestmentsHi,
It’s a beautiful winter day today. Highs around 50 and crisp blue skies. We just came off the mid 70’s last week…. Lol.  If you don’t like the cold, don’t worry it’s sure to change again soon. It’s like a yo-yo. I love the variety but it does require some planning in the wardrobe department.

We’re at the first part of the new year and people are working on carrying out their plans for change and improvement in the new year.

This is true in the health areas of our lives but it’s also true for the financial health of our life. I see a lot of folks making plans to buy or sell investment and rental properties.  Probably depending on advice from their financial planners, CPAs, Realtors and just their own good judgement.

This next year would be a great time to buy real estate. The market is strong. A well-priced home doesn’t last long. Correctly priced homes are gone in just a few weeks. The interest rates are low right now and construction prices are slowly edging up. Home prices will start edging up as construction and trades people are becoming more in demand.

Some people are rolling their 401k’s into real estate. A good way to do this is through a self directed IRA – using the funds in your retirement account and buying real estate.

This a a good time to evaluate your own property’s needs. Is the value where you need it to be so you can sell and downsize or move up? Is your rental income performing the way you want? Do you need to make some improvements to increase your rent and improve the quality of tenants you can attract and/or property cash flow? Do you want to add another rental or two? You could be tired of the ups and downs of your rental property and want to get out altogether. Whatever your goals for real estate, now is a good time to be taking action. We are always happy to talk with you and help advise you when the time comes.

One of the things I love about Gainesville is their promotion of various cultural events. One of my favorites is the Hoggetowne Medieval Faire. It’s always a fun place to people watch and I love to browse the jewelry booths. This year my granddaughter is 3 and it was an eyeopener to watch her amazement of all the costumes and various shows. I didn’t think about the fact that to her all of that craziness looks real and was probably very confusing. There were people dressed as animals wearing horns, knights jousting on horses, maids with their low-cut blouses, fairies, kings and queens and all kinds of crazy looking characters. True to form it rained. I’m pretty sure it’s been a muddy environment every year I’ve attended. This year it was a beautiful sunny day until about 15 minutes after our arrival. Then it turned cold and started raining. But we did make a good round through the grounds and snuggled under a dry pavilion in the kids zone watching magic tricks and petting bunnies. A good way to end the kids’ visit by leaving thoughts of cute furry bunnies in their minds instead of all the crazy costumes and the like.

Click here to see more of Tanya’s pictures and video

This article was featured in this month’s newsletter.  Please subscribe if you want to receive these updates and more each month.

Read similar blog posts from “Words From Our Broker”:

Real Estate Business Planning for the Market Rebound

image1Tanya attended an insightful seminar today to help prepare brokers for when the market rebounds.  You can see her notes and the wonderful speaker’s tips below.

Real Estate Business Planning for the Market Rebound

  • The average time a person owns a home increased from 7 years to 12 years. If you’re a real estate agent, don’t count on repeat business. Focus on creating a referral base from your past customers. Remind them on what you do and ask if they know of anyone that wants to buy or sell.
  • Networking at events, parties, seminars is a big part of generating business. People like to work with people they know.
  • Call your customers through Slydial to leave a message without it ringing so you can let them know your thinking of them.
  • Ask the below FORD questions to get to know people better and have things to connect with them about later on:
    • F- Family
    • O- Occupation: what do they do for a living?
    • R- Recreation: what do the do for fun?
    • D -Dreams: what are their dreams?
  • Upside down? Don’t panic, ride it out, it’ll change. If it’s a rental, keep it (if it’s not costing you money).
  • You can be considered a first time home buyer after three years from a foreclosure.
  • It’s a challenge to get good appraisals in an upswing. Help by showing them the availability, or lack of, similar homes. Send the appraisers comps you know of to help him get the right price.
  • If you take the lock box off the door, the appraiser will have to call you to get in and you can meet and talk to him. Give him a packet of info that includes: updates that have been done especially on things that are hard to see like upgraded wiring or green features, nearby comparable home info, etc. Write notes on the comps like “this one has terrible carpet” etc. include a copy of the purchase contract for the property being appraised.
  • Give them insight you have to the property that they won’t have. If the value isn’t there at least you know you’ve done all you can to help it appraise correctly.
  • How to handle unrealistic asking prices:Show them other properties in their price range so they can see from a buyers’ standpoint what their home is competing with.
  • Think about who your market is and how you can be in front of them every 10 days with marketing, networking or personal contact. 
  • Think about who you want to be your customer and about that groups’ repetitive patterns: where do they go regularly, advertise there.tanya chappell proeprty manaegment
    • Grocery stores
    • Kids’ ball practice -sponsor them and have banners and shirts with your company logo
    • Sponsor schools
    • Lowes – bring a box of pens or note pads to leave etc.
  • Contact management systems some are free. Google free contact management software
  • Use what is free or cheap: telephone, social media, person to person, telephone, and send thank you notes for referrals.
  • Use Hootsuite for mass social media updating. But remember you don’t get as good of SEO as posting it individually and changing it slightly.
  • Buying investment property can be a good way to provide sustainable income.
  • Some people like to buy and hold for retirement income.  Others like to buy, fix, and sale for capital gains. It’s best if they can fill both requirements.
  • Rebuild your credit through: Paying utility bills on time, secure a credit card, and having a good rental payment history
  • 11 questions to ask before investing:
    • 1- What is your time horizon or holding period? Long term or flip? What do you need to do to it for that term?
    • 2- What is your tolerance for risk? If you stress about money easily or if you are uncomfortable with the fact that there will be repairs and upgrades needed, this may not be for you.
    • 3- What is your available cash? Your going to need money. There’s no 100% financing. You need usually 20% down. Do you need to fix it up? How much will it cost? Can you cover the mortgage for (approximately 4 months to be safe) until it rents?
    • 4- What is your ability to fund catastrophe deductibles? With insurance you have to be able to pay the deductible if a catastrophe happens. Neighbor’s tree falling on your home is your problem and your expense. Make sure you get landlord insurance so you can get loss of rent paid if something does happen.
    • 5-  What are local market conditions? Are big businesses going out of business? Or is it booming? Government lay off can kill a local market if that’s the primary employer.
    • 6- What are national market conditions?
    • 7- What is your exit strategy if things go wrong?
    • 8- How dependable is your primary source of income?
    • 9- What are the mortgage terms going in and the time of exit?
    • 10- What is your ability to mange the asset or pay for professional management?
    • 11- Is this the best use of your time and money? Compare to passive income like stocks and bonds. You can refinance after a few years and get your equity out and buy another property.

Read seminar packet by clicking here.

 

January 2016 Secure Investments Realty Newsletter

Missed this month’s newsletter? Read it here.

Check out Secure Investments January 2016 Newsletter. Featured articles include:

  • ROI Renovations: Figure out what projects are right for your renovation
  • Words From Our Broker
  • January 2016 Gainesville Rental Market Overview
  • List of our current available properties

This article was featured in this month’s newsletter.  Please subscribe if you want to receive these updates and more each month.

Interested in reading other newsletters:

 

January 2016 Word From Our Broker

Hi,

Tanya Chappell

My grandaughter and I dancing together 🙂

Winter has arrived in Gainesville! After a warm Florida Christmas, the cold front came in and gave us a taste of what we can expect for our short winter. Although as I write today it’s a comfy 68 degrees.

I don’t know about you but I’m happy to see January. Not only is it an end to all that crazy yummy food and festivities, it is a motivator to end old habits that don’t serve us and evaluate and plan for what does. I know we don’t need a new year to do this but it’s nice to see just the same. I teach a yoga class at the Tioga branch of Gainesville Health and Fitness Center and take many other classes at one of their three beautiful locations and all the classes are full of new folks. The churches are fuller, more people are outside walking. It’s nice.

The real estate activity has been slow through the holidays as no one really likes to move at this time. It should start picking up as we move closer to tax return season and spring. Although we still rent houses year round the winter is the slow time. Being a university town we get a spurt of activity for the winter semester but not much.

Now is a good time to start thinking about your future plans for your property. Are you going to want to sell it this year? Renew your tenant’s lease? Do you need to upgrade or downgrade your own living situation and want to hold on to the property and rent it- or sell?  This is the time to plan. Look at what you’ll need to do in ways of repairs or improvements and work towards getting your property ready. Spring comes quickly and that’s a good time to put properties on the market for sale or rent.

We are always happy to give you a market analysis for the rent or sale of your property and can advise you on repairs or improvements to net more from your property. Whatever your direction just make a plan and put it on your calendar so that you can follow through and make it happen.

We took advantage of the slow time during the holiday’s to go to Louisiana. I was born a poor white girl from the other side of the railroad tracks….. Bahahah!! Funny but true…. For a couple of the elementary years we actually lived in the swamps of Manchac Louisiana, off north pass on Byrne Bayou (my maiden name). We had a generator for electricity and a manual hand pump for water. We hunted alligators, ran trout lines and crab pots. It was quite an adventure and education for us kids. Of course back then I didn’t see the value of it all. But I look back at that and feel fortunate to have had the experience. Plus it was crazy fun to take a boat everywhere you had to go without needing to be of age to drive!

We drove to another town that I went to middle and high school, Ponchatoula, Louisiana.  We rode past the small very humble abodes we lived in that never bothered me as a kid. I had great memories of growing up in those towns. I had no idea of their addresses but I actually remembered the feel of the walk home from high school and the roads I rode my bike through, and was able to drive straight to them. That was very surprising to me. Of course the main reason I was able to find them is because absolutely nothing has changed in that small town. Louisiana’s economy has suffered for decades and it was very evident here. We sometimes don’t realize how well we have it in this wonderfully diverse, progressive, healthy economy and absolutely beautiful part of Florida. Gainesville is steadily growing and it should continue for the next few years at least. It’s a good time to own property here.

We stayed in New Orleans and did the traditional French Quarter, Bourbon Street, Riverboat cruise and Casino, as tourists do.  We rode the trolley’s everywhere just to ride them….lol. We spent time on the balconies of restaurants and pubs watching the craziness below on Bourbon Street. We had to high tail it outta there right before midnight on New Year’s Eve because it became an unmovable mob. We unknowingly 😉 wandered straight to the best balcony view of the midnight fireworks celebration possible, at a Pub on Canal Street. It was a lot of fun. I am happy to be back to my quiet little life in Alachua and done with all the holidays.

I hope you all had wonderful holidays and are looking forward to a wonderful New Year!  I’ve included some pictures of our Holiday festivities in the link below.

Cheers!

Click to see pictures from Tanya’s holiday celebrations

This article was featured in this month’s newsletter.  Please subscribe if you want to receive these updates and more each month.

Read similar blog posts from “Words From Our Broker”:

Interesting Articles from December 2015

Rental affordability out of reach for Most of Gainesville

8 Ways to Cut Your Holiday Energy Bill

The Only Google Drive Guide You’ll Ever Need to Read

13 Tips Learned By Building a Real Estate Empire From Age 21

Millennials Are Buying Homes As Investments, Not Residences 

Gainesville Family Vacations

Gainesville Food Tour

This Simple Process Will Make You Insanely Productive On Any Browser

Why single-family rentals are the new Private Wealth Management alternative

Facebook Myths Busted: 10 Common Misconceptions You Shouldn’t Believe

 

This article was featured in this month’s newsletter.  Please subscribe if you want to receive these updates and more each month.

2016 Tax Preparation

Tax season is almost here.  Now is the time to start preparing and gathering your documents. Also do not forget property taxes will be due in March.  You should have received your bill on November 1st. There are discounts for early payments that you might want to look into as well.  We have included some helpful links and articles below.  We will be mailing out our owners’ 1099s after the first of the year.  If you have a new mailing address, please make sure to let us know by emailing us at info@secureinvestmentsrealty.com.

December 2015 Secure Investments Newsletter

tanya chappell move in inspectionLearn what happens during a move-in inspection. Check out this month’s newsletter to watch how Secure Investments move-ins our tenants in!

Check out December 2015 Secure Investments Newsletter. Featured articles include:

  • How to Complete a Move-in Inspection
  • 2016 Tax Preparation
  • Words From Our Broker
  • December 2015 Gainesville Rental Market Overview
  • List of our current available properties

Please subscribe if you want to receive these updates and more each month.

December 2015 Words From Our Broker

Tanya Chappell Paris 2015Bonjour!

 

It’s a beautiful 65 sunny degrees here in Gainesville Florida today and I’m feeling very thankful to be enjoying this beautiful weather and town.

The Christmas spirit is flowing through our neighborhoods and town centers with Christmas lights and music every where. No we don’t have snow capped trees and buildings but there’s something special about our beautiful Palm trees all decked out in their Christmas splendor. It’s clear I love living in the south. Shorts in the afternoons and jackets and boots in the evenings. Perfect!

The Real Estate market is conveniently,  historically slower as we move through the Holidays.  We did see a very slight increase in interest rates but they came back down shortly after and are expected to rise again. The Holiday season is a good time to find deals as most know it’s tougher to sell or rent this time of year so prices may be lower.

I recently treated myself to an early Christmas present and travelled to Europe. Wow, what an experience! We did a Viking River Boat Cruise through Germany visiting castles, vineyards, and palaces. We started with two days in Paris, France and ended it with two days in Prague in the Czech Republic. The Viking longboats are five star and have approximately 200 guests so it’s nice and quaint and you get to know most of the guests and crew. Our room had a veranda so our sliding glass door offered up one castle after another as we cruised down the Rhine and Mossell where vineyards and tourism are the main employment. I was truly impressed with Vikings Long River boat and seeing Germany through this mode. Some points of our excursions in this all inclusive trip were Tanya Chappell Germany 2015Paris’s Eiffel Tower, the Museé du Louvre, Cathedral Notre Dam,  Arc de Triomphe, the many shops and Cafe’s along the famous Champs-Élysées Germany; Luxembourg American Cemetery Memorial Park where we saw General Patton’s grave site amongst his fallen men. In Nuremberg, we visited the Nuremberg Castle and Palace Würzburger Residenz. In Czech, we roamed the Prague Palace, Charles Bridge, and Praha Old Town Square. It was truly amazing. I could say a once in a lifetime experience but I plan to have many more trips exploring our beautiful world. I’ve shared a lot of pictures and videos from the trip in the link below.

We were in Paris on the night of the terrorist attacks and had the blessed good fortune of leaving the cafe area where the attacks happened and were 4 miles away in our room when we heard what happened merely 30 minutes prior.  Our friends and families were anxious to know that we were ok and we were able to easily keep everyone updated through Facebook. It became a nice way to share our trip as we travelled through Europe. Tanya Chappell 2015Since, I’ve had many people say how they felt they were able to experience these places through our posts. Facebook can be a beautiful tool in sharing (when used correctly ;). I hope you also enjoy the trip.

The morning after the attacks we were told the Borders were closed but as we took our 6:30 am bus ride to Trier, Germany to meet our boat, we passed through the border of France to Germany with nothing significant marking it besides the beautiful rolling farm land and many gazing deer. We expected the Border to be closed and have some difficulty or at least a passport check but it was open with no one in sight and we continued on our trip without out being further affected. We however will never be the same. I won’t bore you with my thoughts on our nation’s issues but I’ll just share a couple of quotes below that sums up my feelings on these complex issues.

“If religion means primarily God-consciousness, or the realization of God both within and without, and secondarily a body of beliefs, tenets and dogmas, then, strictly speaking, there is but one religion in the world, for there is but one God.”

– Paramahansa YoganandaThe Science of Religion

“Kindness is the light that dissolves all walls between souls, families, and nations.”

Paramahansa Yogananda

To see pictures and video from Tanya’s trip, click here.

This article was featured in this month’s newsletter.  Please subscribe if you want to receive these updates and more each month.

Read similar blog posts from “Words From Our Broker”:

Gainesville/Alachua Residential Development Overview

NEw residential construction 2015

 

 

 

 

 

 

Recently Rory Causseaux from CHW Professional Consultants spoke at the Gainesville- County Association of Realtors about Residential Development in Gainesville and Alachua County.  We have included out notes below.  To see the whole presentation, please click here.

Where is development happening in Gainesville and Alachua County?

  • The Estates at Wilds Plantation
  • Arbor Greens – Phase 2
  • Red Oak Estates – Phase 2
  • Oakmont and Oakmont Activity Center
  • Heritage Oaks – Phase 2
  • Weschester – Phase 4
  • Lugano
  • Finley Woods
  • Oak Ridge at High Springs – Phase 2
  • Gloria’s Way

Ingredients to Build a Subdivision

ingredients to build a subdivsion

  • Open Space: Wetlands, Flood Plain, Significant Uplands, strategic ecosystems, etc.
  • Stormwater Management: Dry retention and wet retention
  • Right of Way:  Roads, sidwalks, streetlights, signage, cable, fiber optics, etc.
  • Common Area: clubhouse, playground, signage, amenity
  • Lots:  platted residential homesites (size varies by zoning and market)

Cost of Subdivision Development

  • (Total cost of infrastructure)/(the length of road) = cost per linear foot (typical $500 per LF)
  • Lot size less than .5 acres: $25000-$60000 average cost per lot
  • Lot sizes over .5 acres: $45000 – $80000 average cost per lot
  • Professional services needed usually cost 10-15 % of construction value
    • survey
    • civil engineering
    • landscape
    • geoteh
    • environmental
    • lighting
    • legal
  • Soft Development costs average $13000 and include:soft cost development fees

 

November 2015 Words From Our Broker

GACARHi, I’m not sure what happened to our fall weather we should still be experiencing. We’ve had record high temps this month. Come on already, us gals are ready to wear our boots and it’s hitting 89 degrees this week. Oh well, I’ll just have to break them out on my upcoming trip to Paris and Germany! Sorry, I just had to throw that out there. I generally write about what’s on my mind and of course that’s topping the list. I’ll be sure to take lots of pictures and videos from our Viking River Boat Cruise down the Rhine.

Today has been an exciting day spent with fellow GACAR (Gainesville Alachua Board of Realtors) on our annual Leadership Retreat. This year we’re in Orlando at Americas Escape Game where my team actually did escape with only one minute to spare! I’m so proud of us! I have to give a shout out to my teammates in “Crisis at 1600”: Gina Barzo, Susan McQuinlan, Kenyada Higgins, Danny Maldonado, Brent Riley, and Heather Swanson. Thanks for saving the world!! Only 16% of teams have ever actually escaped. It was a blast and amazingly revealing of the variety of skills, patience, teamwork and leadership that we have in our GACAR Leadership. What a fun way to bond with our 2016 group. I’ve always felt being involved in our association is top in your recipe for success. The bonding, sharing, learning and leading helps us all to grow. As my assistant Laura always says, team work makes the dream work! I shared some pictures and video below.

We are fast approaching the holiday months and it tends to slow down through Christmas. If you have a property for rent during this time I’d seriously consider all decent offers from qualified tenants as a few months of vacancy will void what you wanted to gain by holding out for more rent.

There is also lots of talk and predictions of interest rates increasing in December. So if your looking to buy or refinance you may want to get moving. Due to new laws it’s taking an average of 45 to 60 days to close and often banks don’t want to lock in rates for more than 30 days so keep this in mind.

Lastly I’d like to say thanks to Mathew Kleckner and Sam Malone of UF Investment Club for inviting me to talk with their group about property investments. It’s nice to see that generation being so interested and knowledgeable in investing for their future!

I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday full of great food and memories with family and friends.

To see pictures and video from the Retreat in Orlando, click here.

Meet Tanya Chappell

Tanya Chappell Broker/Owner is a CPM (Certified Property Manager) with over 27 years of experience in the Gainesville and surrounding areas. She founded Secure Investments Realty over 3 years ago and has been managing and growing the company ever since. This video will hopefully help you get to know Tanya more. Enjoy!

“As the Owner of Investment properties I know first hand the importance of proactive and effective marketing and management of the property and the relationships involved.”

”In my free time I enjoy playing beach volleyball, traveling, practicing Pilates and Yoga and spending time at my home with my friends and family.”

You can visit our web site to learn more about Secure Investments at www.secureinvestmentsrealty.com

Video Transcript

Laura:  Hi, I am Laura from Secure Investments Realty. We are joined today by our broker and owner Tanya Chappell. We are going to ask her a couple questions so that you can get to know her a little better.  Tanya, can you tell us a little bit about your experience in property management?

Tanya:  Sure, I have been managing properties since I was 16 years old.  I started in an apartment community doing leasing as a leasing assistant.  I have now been in the business for 25 years. I have done single-family homes, condos, and some commercial properties.

Laura:  In all of those years of experience, what do you think is the key to success in property management?

Tanya: Well, it really starts with the property. You have to have a property that is in good condition.  If you are trying to rent properties in poor condition, then you are going to attract poor tenants.  We try to make sure the inventory we have is in good condition, no matter the price range.  Secondly, the tenant screening is also important.  We do a credit check and a background check and we verify their previous rental history and make sure their income is at least 3 times the monthly rent.

Laura: In your 25 years of experience, you have stayed in it long enough to obviously have a knack for it or like it, what do you enjoy most about it?

Tanya:  I think I have both actually; I have a knack for it but I also really like it.  What I enjoy most is being able to alleviate that stress from the home owner. Renting properties is a scary thing especially if it is a property we are attached to.  It is usually an investment for our future or a place we raised family in.  It is a scary thing to rent it out! To do it correctly, you do have to be organized and put systems in place so that the property is protected.  It really brings me joy to take that stress off of owners knowing that their property is being protected.

Laura: As you have developed through the years, how have you stayed on top of trends and laws in property management?

Tanya: We are in Atlanta right now.  Notice the beautiful background. We are at Centennial Park where the 1996 Olympics were held.  We are at a NARPM convention which is the National Association of Residential Property Managers.  We have spent the last week getting educated and staying on top of trends and laws.  I am also a Certified Property Manager through the the Institute of Real Estate Management.  That designation takes many years to get.  Also I am very active with the Board of Realtors.  I am currently vice president for the multiple listing service and I chair several committees.  Through these organizations, we are able to stay up-to-date with laws and trends and make sure we are finding the tools that really help us succeed.

Laura: That is good to hear! One of the trends that has come up in property management is technology.  How have you used that in your company to make it more streamlined?

Tanya: I am so fortunate for the technology that has come out.  When I first started doing property management, we were using the tenant ledger system on a cardboard piece of paper.  Now it has really streamlined our company.  It makes us more efficient.  We do videos of our properties so people can view the videos online.  They can then apply online.  We get an email when we get an application with just a few clicks we can do the credit check and everything we need to do.  We have a tenant and owner portal which allows the tenants to go online and submit maintenance requests so we can quickly job it out to one of our vendors. It allows the owners to go online and look at their cash flow statements or even if they need to pay a bill, they can go online and do that.  Technology has really allowed us to have more time to effectively manage the property.  We are able to put more energy into the communications we have with people because we are not bogged down in the details.

Laura:  It sounds like you work hard so I am assuming you play hard.  What do you do outside of the office  to relax?

Tanya: Most people who know me know I have a little bit of a volleyball habit.  I like playing beach volleyball. I prefer to play 3 days a week although right now at my age, my body prefers I play one day a week.  To combat that I do yoga.  I teach yoga as well as practice it.  I do the Asauna practice every day as well as the mindfulness and philosophy of yoga – mindfulness, meditation, and prayer.  And I enjoy spending time with my family.  I have grand kids and any chance I get we are all together, usually outdoors doing something.

Laura She has cute grand kids by the way.  She left that adjective out.  As an Alachua County resident, what are some of your favorite Gainesville spots?

Tanya: I really like the hustle and bustle of downtown.  We are loving it here in Atlanta.  It is so exciting; there is a lot of culture and a lot of diversity.  Downtown Gainesville offers that as well. Right now they are really putting a lot of effort into redoing the Bo Diddley Plaza where we have free outside concerts.  Apart from that I love the springs.  They are very close in High Springs and Alachua.  We like floating down the Ichnetucknee River and paddle boarding in Ginnie Springs.

Laura: Outdoor Sports are the best. We have such good weather year round that you can’t really be held back.  You can basically find anything to do no matter the season.  Thanks for sitting down with us Tanya and sharing a little more about yourself. If you all are interested in learning more about our company, you can visit our web site at www.secureinvestmentsrealty.com.  Thanks for joining us!

NARPM 2015 Convention: Never Stop Learning!

Secret to Success: Never Stop Learning!

This past week we spent our days going to classes and touring tradeshow booths at the National Association of Residential Property Managers (NARPM)‘s 2015 Convention in Atlanta.  Technology was definitely a trend at the conference and something thankfully we wholeheartedly embrace. We loved getting to meet up with Appfolio since their software already has streamlined our data entry and administrative work.  Learning legal and business best practices was another benefit to the conference.  The workshops heIMG_0533lped us understand how to more effectively leverage our business assets while also protecting us from legal liability.  Since NARPM is a national organization, we got to network with other property managers from all over the country.  Chatting with people from as far away as Hawaii and as near as Lakeland, it was helpful to hear how they tackle common problems and to hear about new issues that may soon be affecting our state.  We hope to use this knowledge to implem
ent new systems and ideas that will better serve our owners, tenant, and vendors. Click on the links below to read our class notes!IMG_0564

  • How to Create a Win-Win in Negotiation: Negotiation is successful when you figure out the other party’s interests and needs.  By making an attempt to understand and then compromise, you are more likely to come out of a tough negotiation with a win.  Read more to learn better negotiation techniques!
  • The Millionaire Next Door:  The average 401(k) balance has $72,000 leaving Americans $4.1 Trillion short on what’s needed for retirement. Learn some great personal finance and retirement tips so you can retire on top rather than in a last minute scramble.
  • Covering Your Business Assets: Learn how to protect your growing business by utilizing financial, human resource, insurance, and legal best practices. Read more to see where you can make changes today.

This article and more was featured in our monthly newsletter.  To read more or to subscribe, click this link: October 2015 Newsletter

Liability and Maintenance

NARPM* 2015 Convention Workshop: Liability and Maintenance

Speaker:  C.R. Wright, Partner, Fisher & Phillips, LLP

It is always best to consult a lawyer before making changes to your company.  These notes were written based off the information provided by C.R. Wright, an attorney specializing in labor-related cases.  Please contact him if you have any further questions.  His web site is linked above.

  • Hiring anyone under 18 that aren’t your kids opens you up to a lot of liability.  You need to be aware of a lot more laws so it is safer not to go there. 
  • In agreements don’t refer to your independent contractor as an employee.
  • An employee CANNOT waive their rights to overtime, etc. This law originated in 1930s when sweat shops were prevalent.  They took away the right to waive them so the businesses could not use it as a loophole.
  • A W-2 is for an employee.
  • Bonuses are included in court when calculating whether you paid correct overtime amount to your employee.
  • Do you need to track salary employees hours?
    • Yes, the responsibility lays on the employer to prove they didn’t work overtime if the employee becomes disgruntled and sues you. The reason for this is because most salaried employees are not classified properly.
  • Some exemptions for overtime payment:
    • Admin exemption: a person who can call shots without getting approval.
    • Executive Exemption: a supervisor who is over two or more full-time employees.
    • Professional Exemption: An indiviadual with a prolonged course of study that is more than a bachelors degree.  CPAs are an example.
    • Outside salesperson Exemption: a salesperson who calls on someone at their place of business.  They are not at the office calling people.
    • Highly compensated employee Exemption: An employee making over $100,000 who performs some of the duties listed above.
  • Individual you pay and issue a 1099 to do work are considered independent contractors.
  • Real estate agents usually treated as consultants/contractors.  The legal trend now is to call them employees. Brokers are the exception.
  • Commission based property manager:  You need to show they are admin person in order to qualify for overtime exemption
  • Federal contractors : go to fedspending.org to see if you are an federal contractor
  • Vendors who are not a corporation will likely be considered an employee of your company.
  • Vendor packets need to talk about business interactions.  The wording should not make it seem like they are your employees.  The wording should imply the vendor and property management office are independent.  Take out any rules that say “no ___” or “don’t do this” since that sounds like an employee handbook.
  • To determine if someone is an employee of independent contractor, ask:
    • How much control do I have over this individual?
      • A lot is an employee; a little control is a contractor.
    • Are they are integral part of your business?
    • Do you affect their profit or loss?
    • Is there permanency to the relationship?
    • Are they economically dependent on your business?
      • If the answer is yes, then they are considered an employee even if you classify them as a contractor.
      • Vendors who do mostly your work (over 50% comes from your company) are usually classified as an employee in court
  • FLSA is “at war” with people misclassifying employees
    • Targeted industries: real estate agents
  • Individual can go back three years to claim wages
  • If a violation is found, you need to pay back penalties and civil penalties and attorney fees.
  • Even if you pay for job they can come after you for failure to withhold taxes.

* National Association of Residential Property Managers (narpm.org)

October 2015 Words From Our Broker

tanya chappell Ziplining near Red Top Mountain, GA

Ziplining near Red Top Mountain, GA

Wow! What a nice feel of fall in the air! Is it just me or has it been an unusually tropical summer with higher than average rain and temperatures this year?

I recently spent time in Kansas City and Georgia thinking I would like some nice cool weather since it was in the 80s in both places. But believe me, the moment I drove back onto Florida soil there was no mistaking I was back. The Florida humidity smacks you right in the face. But not this week!  Fall weather has arrived in beautiful Gainesville/Alachua!

I was recently elected Vice President of our local MLS for this next year.  With that comes the job of getting even more educated on the issues we are facing now and will face in the future with our data and Multiple Listing Services. I went to a conference in Kansas City to learn more and found the conference to  be very informative.  I was also able to spend time getting to know the rest of the board members better. I look forward to working and learning from such wonderful people and continuing my service on this important part of our business.  Baseball is huge in Missouri and there was a cool place a few blocks from the hotel where I got to experience some of the local excitement and shot a short video of this neat little outdoor town center type area.

tanya chappell on the way to NARPM conference

Flying from Kansas City to the next conference in Atlanta

From there, I flew from Kansas City to Atlanta where I attended the NARPM (National Association of Residential Property Managers) National convention with my awesome assistant Laura. It was so fun to be able to work together for that week not only learning through different classes at the conference and the tradeshows but working on some of our informational marketing videos that will be on our website soon. Maybe one day I’ll be brave enough to share some of the bloopers because they are hilarious!!!

The weekend between my Atalanta and Kansas City business trip was spent at Red Top Mountain with my family for my niece’s wedding. It was a 1920s theme and practically everyone dressed the part. It turned out beautiful! We were able to get in a couple of days of riding through the mountains of Red Top and around its 17,000-acre manmade lake that had such breathtaking views. Red Top offers hiking, fishing, camping, and boating as well as cabin rentals and dinner cruises. It’s a really cool place and you need more than a weekend to experience it all.

So the beauty of all this traveling is that I was able to keep up with my work the entire time I was gone. Because we invest  in great systems, we are able to automate some of our tasks which saves considerable time. Plus with all of the systems being Internet-based, we can practically  work from anywhere! This was definitely the theme at the NARPM trade show. From inspections to leasing to monthly delivery of air filters you can find a way to automate and use virtual assistants in many aspects of our business. I definitely see pluses and minuses in many of these but nothing takes the place of an experienced Property Manager and their team. These are simply tools that will allow you more time to handle the relationship aspects of this business (which is really the biggest part!) There are so many details to take care of in this business that it is nice to be able to utilize technology to help with the administrative areas.

The rental activity in Gainesville picked up a bit as we moved into September and October. It never ceases to surprise me that we get a nice little rest right after August but then are able to rent several properties until right before the holidays when it slows down again. If you have a property you’re thinking about putting on the market, I wouldn’t wait much longer.  The closer you get to Thanksgiving, the more likely you are to miss the activity. As always let us know if we can help or just need some advice.

Click here to see pictures and video from Tanya’s past month

Jason Goldberg: The Art of Self Leadership

NARPM* 2015 Convention Workshop: The Art of (Self) Leadership

Speaker: Jason Goldberg

Before the convention began, we spent a day learning how to be in control of ourselves, our attitudes, and our business through the art of (self) leadership.  Mr. Goldberg went over the power of being a self-leader versus a prisoner and different tactics you can use to control your thoughts and emotions instead of letting others control them.  We have included our notes below and the pre-study material that he sent us.

Click here to access the material we studied before the workshop

The Art of (Self) Leadership:

  • The ultimate excuse of why you won’t change: “That is just the way I am”
    • You need to answer the “why?” behind that question to actually start to change.
  • All people choose to be a self-leader or a prisoner.  It is a personal choice that you control.
  • Characteristics of a self-leader (aka as an owner):
    • You are a creator.
      • Your feelings are not connected by events. You do not need to manipulate others and events to feel better and create an positive reality.
    • You respond (this is responds like a first respondent at an accident; first respondents tend to be calm, cool, and collected.)
    • You lead people towards agreements.
      • “Here is what I need from you by this time. Can you agree to that?”
      • Even when the employee agrees, ask them what they need from you to accomplish it.  Make sure to offer them the help then so they absolutely agree to the conditions and have no excuse that they didnt have “xyz” to meet the deadline.
      • Agreements push people to meet someone’s expectation, not just a deadline.
      • If they don’t meet the agreement, ask “what needs to change so we can meet it?” It is about addressing the agreement not the action or lack thereof). You can say yes, no, or renegotiate but the agreement needs to be co-created.
    • You use words to create the life that you want to lead.
    • You live life as a verb (serves, etc.).
    • You serve people.
    • You add “flavor” to an event.  (Example: Tofu on its own is flavorless.  When it is put in a good sauce, it takes on that flavor and becomes delicious.)
  • Characteristics of a prisoner (aka as an victim):
    • They are reactors.
      • An outside force determines your thoughts and language.
      • You are at the whim of circumstance.
    • They have expectations that are put on others and often are not lived up to.
    • They use words to describe/ report on their world
      • Common phrases they use: ” I am just saying what is going on”, “I am just being a realist”.
    • They are a noun or their title.
    • They are people pleasing.
  • Victim mentality/”fixed personality”: Personality is learned and cannot be undone.
  • Being a victim/prisoner is not a sign of stupidity. It takes time and practice to think like a self-leader.
  • Language is important in deciding to be a prisoner or self leader.
  • Optimism is possibility-based thinking. You can create your future rather than reacting to it.
  • Optimism is a mind-set, a system of thinking – not a personality trait. It can be learned.
  • One mindset is not right or wrong; one is just more effective – optimism has been proven to be more effective.
  • Disappointments come from expectations. Release those and instead ask: “what would be an ideal outcome?”
  • How do you help someone who doesn’t want it? You can’t make people see the light but you can be the light and set the example.
  • Commitment doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Just take one day at a time. Mr. Goldberg stated that he didn’t lose 130 lbs. He lost one pound 130 times.
  • The words you speak become the house you live in.
  • Commitment: prisoners make it based on a feeling and a lot of time you are just interested in the idea because of the feeling; for self leaders it is a choice.

* National Association of Residential Property Managers (narpm.org)

How to Create a Win-Win in Negotiation

NARPM* 2015 Convention Workshop: Negotiation for Property Managers

Speaker: Tom Sedlack, MPM® RMP®, 33rd Company, Inc., CRMC®

During this workshop. Mr. Sedlack presented negotiation tactics to help property managers and any business professional learn better methods and techniques for successful negotiation. We have included his powerpoint presentation below with our notes.  Enjoy!

Click here for Sedlack’s Powerpoint Presentation

Negotiation Basics

  • “In business as in life, you don’t get what you deserve. You get what you negotiate”  -Karrass
  • Key question in every negotiation: WHAT DO YOU WANT??
  • Negotiations add up over time that is why you need to maximize returns in your negotiations.
  • You are trying to shape view points and leverage your knowledge during negotiations.
  • Savvy negotiators design the game in their favor before they get to the table; they don’t just play the cards they have in their hand.
  • Good negotiators manage people, processes and sequences.
  • You need a solid foundation to design the game in your favor:
    • Design good contracts based on experience  and know them well (only want customer service issues)
    • Pick good properties, owners, tenants (you need to publish screening criteria on your web site and avoid bad properties)
    • Use good communication
    • Build and keep a good reputation in the industry
    • Create a “Trust page” on your web site which outlines your ethics and standards for the company
  • You can only control your behavior! Use that to your advantage.
  • There are only winners in a negotiation. See it as collaboration.
  • Be gracious and understanding no matter what. It changes your reputation.
  • Game Theory: Is it rational to cooperate for a mutal gain or is it better to look for individual gain and win at all cost? Using a “tough guy” game is not very successful. (see powerpoint presentation for proof)
    • The medium strategy is successful the majority of the time: How do you find the medium strategy to negotiate?
  • Go after their interest – not their position but what they are looking to gain.
  • Everyone has different interests, needs, & priorities.
  • Some competitors want to contribute to the industry; others just want to take from it.
  • Property owners are clients you serve and you should be fixing mainly service problems
  • Tenants are customers.  Your relationship should be product and rights-based.
  • It is HOW, not just what, with words.
  • Honesty doesn’t mean full disclosure; never lie about your interests, needs, and priorities but be careful what you disclose.
  • To help with negotiations: create overlap! Try and make the desires more similar for both sides
  • A concession without reason is of no value (example of a concession: I give you 5 I give you 4 etc.)
  • Principles concession is one with rationale. Ask why? Whenever they ask for a concession. When making concessions yourself, tell them why you are doing it as well so it sets the standard.
  • Create a negotiation tracker so you can see them add up.

Legal Negotiations:

  • Attorneys tend to escalate and expand issues.  It is not wise to completely delegate to an attorney.
  • Think of an attorney as an employee and not the leader of the team.
  • Use a win-win approach to reduce fees and improve outcomes.
  • Unpaid rent judgments: Tenants have incentives to pay in full. If they don’t pay, you are no worse off and have a full judgement.  Just pound a large stack of documentation on the table in front of them to prove your point that you have everything you need for them to lose their case.

Five Steps to Successful Negotiation:

  1. Good planning/foundation – plan ahead!
  2. Understand your opponents needs, interests, and principles.
  3. Use an established process – always look at the worst scenario for a legal issue by the dollar amount so you know not to freak out.
  4. Make the pie bigger – it isn’t always about the money.  Look at other interests; create a win-win; maybe give them a credit and ask for a good review in return.
  5. Lock it down in writing.

Biggest Mistakes:

  • Not being prepared
  • Rushing the process
  • Giving ultimatums
  • Getting adversarial/emotional
  • Focusing on what instead of why
  • Looking for only one solution
  • Not documenting agreement
  • Not willing to walk away from negotiation
  • Breaking the silence
  • Addressing their position rather than their interests
  • Not using leverage correctly

* National Association of Residential Property Managers (narpm.org)

How to Become the Millionaire Next Door

millionaire

NARPM* 2015 Convention Workshop: The Millionaire Next Door

Speaker: Mark Kreditor, MPM® RMP®, Property Management Strategy NRT LLC

Fast Finance Facts:

  • The average 401(k) balance is $72,000.
  • Americans are $4.1 trillion short on what’s needed for retirement.
  • 3 in 10 Americans have no emergency funds.
  • 43% of Milliennals (18-27) say they will rely on loved ones when they retire.
  • 40% of Millennials currently receive help from their parents
  • Since 1982, the cost of college has gone up 439%.
  • 71% of students forego their dream school
  • 60% of students choose public vs private ($65k vs. $35k)

Financial Planning Advice:

  • Creating an action plan is a better plan.
  • Have quarterly financial meetings with those involved (spouse) to figure out where you are and so you can see trends.
  • Don’t be afraid to hire an adviser or manager.
  • Diversify and adjust as you age or get scared.
  • As you get older, you will find you want less risk.
  • Take a class and learn more about money and investments
  • Try to keep your investments simple (couch potato) so you understand how your doing.
  • Get informed by reading and watching programs about investing.
  • You don’t have to be the smartest pencil in the box. Find someone smarter than you to advise you .
  • Bonds and annuities are safest

Personal Finance Advice:

  • Pay off your debt
  • Don’t run up credit cards
  • Pay off your car and keep it up to at least 100,000 miles
  • Don’t overspend: There are too many things we have to have.  Do you really have to have that?
  • Try to never pay retail.  People will match prices now like never before. Use your phone to search for the product at a cheaper price
  • You must cut spending, invest wisely, and save more money.
  • Health care cost and longevity will be far more expensive than most of us will imagine.
  • Plan for your college, for your kids, and grandkids so you have enough to pay for the college when.

Investing/Retirement:

  • Most important is diversification of investments
  • You have to be willing to loose all of it or you have too much in it. Meaning you need to be oky with the worst case scenario
  • You must have 3 – 6 months of expenses saved in the bank that you never touch. That’s your emergency fund.
  • Home: don’t look at your home as something your gonna flip. Take the house out of the assets list you need a place to live.
  • Stocks: read and understand enough of what’s going on to not lose money. Learn from those smarter than you. Get educated.
  • Google couch potato to learn more about investing.
  • Bonds: You should have the same percentage of bonds as your age. If you’re 57 you need 57% or your income in stocks and bonds.
  • When you plan for the amount you need to retire, look at the last three years of expenses.
  • Determine the accurate amount of money needed to live out the rest of your life.  Agreeing on a conservative rate of return.
  • Always plan with the end goal in mind.  If you need $100,000 a year to live, add a 4% rate of return.
  • Have an updated will with medical directive. Update it every 4 years or more often if you have big life changes.
  • Remember your favorite charities. It needs to be part of the plan so you’ll rest better.
  • Understand what your tax bracket is when you plan to withdraw taxable retirement funds.
  • Always consider the worse case scenario and remember your first loss is your best loss.

Real Estate:

  • Nothing wrong with investing in real estate unless you understand you will always have tenants moving out early, leaving you vacant, and you will always need to make ready the unit. Don’t expect to not have expenses.
  • “Feces is always feces”: remember that when you buy real estate. Buy good quality real estate. Don’t hold on to something that’s sucking the life out of you.

* National Association of Residential Property Managers (narpm.org)

 

NARPM: Covering Your Business Assets

covering your assets

 

 

 

 

 

 

NARPM* Convention 2015 Workshop: Covering Your Business Assets

Speaker: John R. Bradford III (Park Avenue Properties LLC)

At the 2015 NARPM Convention, Mr. Bradford discussed how to protect your growing business by utilizing financial, human resource, insurance, and legal best practices. We have included our notes from the workshop.

  • Words of wisdom: Your firm equals your fault. You need to own your mistakes.

PR & Communication: 

  • Society demands authenticity
  • Don’t over script
  • Focus on what you can control
  • You need a dedicated company spokesman
  • Call people back:
    • Slydial- allows your call to go directly to voicemail and you can send one voicemail to multiple people
  • Email is a necessary evil: You are always on the record; it is often misunderstood
  • Careless tweets can sink fleets
  • Have a social media presence but with discipline
  • When you have accomplished the mission, share the story

Human Resources:

  • Have an excellent staff from bottom to the top
  • Are your employees in the right role?
  • Read Jim Collins’ Good to Great
  • Loosing a key employee is disruptive; you need a retention bonus to help with this
  • Create a non-compete agreement (if lawful)
  • Implement  employment best practices: Have an Action plan, update employee  manuals, create a suggestion box
  • Benefits matter and make a difference:  Health, retirement, paid vacation

Legal:

  • Corporate council is an expensive investment.  You can keep it in house or  outsourced.
  • Contract review and execution: Use for company and vendor contracts
  • Mergers and acquisitions: You need litigation and mitigation which acts as a threat neutralizer and as a credibility builder
  • Insurance:  Lawsuit defense often exceeds $100,000
  • Insurance claims have increased due to HUD and consumer interest groups
  • Courts often hold property managers accountable
  • General liability: do you have the right coverage?
  • Workers compensation: Does it cover your independent contractors?
  • Errors and omissions insurance: Property management vs General Brokerage

Financial:

  • Trust account reconciliation
  • Oversight and controls: Third party oversight by a CPA
  • Use Segregation of accounts
  • Estate planning/Life Insurance
  • Have a business exit plan
  • Learn the difference between intentional and unintentional
  • Stay up-to-date on financials
  • Capital is cheap
  • Payoff expensive debt
  • Cash or access to it is king

Technology:

  • What is a hactivist?
  • 563 Million Leaks reported since 2005
  • Look into having a corporate IT
  • PC security and maintenance: You need Virus protection, Centralized and remote access 24/7
  • There is cyber liability: It is not a threat but a promise. Liability is real. Implement a Data Breach policy.

Take the 5k challange:

  • Commit to commit
  • Take $5,000 (or you choose the amount) and invest it in something meaningful for your firm
  • Research it. Benchmark it. Inspect it. Measure it.
  • Share the impact and results
  • Enjoy the fruits of your talents

Political:

  • VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE – Your voice matters

* National Association of Residential Property Managers (narpm.org)

How to Complete a Move-In Inspection

The purpose of this video is to show what Secure Investments Realty does when we complete a move-in inspection. Tanya Chappell, our broker and owner, is getting ready to meet new tenants to do a walk through move-in inspection. We are creating this video as a little explanation on how we do our move-in inspections. Hopefully you will find this video useful!

Areas that Tanya highlights in her inspection:
– Landscaping
– Exterior Condition of the Home
– Walls
– Doors
– Fireplace
– Light Fixtures
– Appliances
– Cabinets/Countertops
– Floors
– Ac unit/filter
– Bathrooms
– Windows/Blinds

If you have any questions or are interested in property management services, please visit our web site: www.secureinvestmentsrealty.com or email us at info@secureinvestmentsrealty.com. Thanks for watching!

Video Transcript

Hi, we just walked through and did a move-in inspection on this house.  Now I am going to explain some things that I feel are important whether you are doing a move-in or move-out inspection.

Landscaping:

We talked about the lawn and it is important that I pointed out that we had a lot rain. This lawn is going to need to be cut in another couple days.  That is just a difficult thing to get around.  You have no choice in that.

Exterior of Home:

We also talked about the potato vines on the side of the house.  It is important to point out that we didn’t pull them right down because that is going to pull the paint off the house.  We had to cut them and let the vines die.  Later we will come back and pull them off the wall.

Walls:

We talked about the walls and there is some wear and tear.  Your properties are not going to need a full paint between every tenant.  If there are just a couple nail holes in the wall and it is a colored paint, it is very difficult to touch-up.  I let my painter know if it is not noticeable then we don’t need to touch-up every wall and he can just pull the few nails out.

Doors:

I like to point out on doors that they are in good condition and that there are no pet scratches.  That is the typical damage that will happen when there are pets.

Fireplace:

I like to point out the fact it does not have a log holder.  If the tenants submit a maintenance request for one, we will certainly get them one.

Light fixtures:

I also point out that the light fixtures are in good condition and clean.

Appliances

The appliances are really important to document.  You want to point out that not only they are clean but that there is no damage to them.  You want to go slowly when you are videotaping them.

Countertops/Cabinets

You will mainly want to point out what the existing flaws are like in the paint, etc.  You will also want to point out if they are clean or not.  At this point, since it is a move-in inspection, you would have already caught this and taken care of it before the move-in. Hopefully, you won’t have damage to point out at this point.

Floors:

You want to document that they are clean.  On hard floors, you want to document the areas that show more wear.  Hardwoods floors are naturally going to wear over the years and you just want to point that out so you know it is not something the tenant damaged.

Ac Unit/Filter:

I do like to make sure that there is a new AC filter in place and check and verify that at the move-in inspection.  Normally we do move-in inspections with the tenant so I usually show the tenant where the AC filter is and how to change it.  We ask the tenant to change it once a month.  It cuts down on the dust in the home and keeps their electric bills lower.

Bathrooms:

You want to pint out that the fixtures (plumbing, light fixtures) are in good condition and that they are clean. Also make sure the shower is not leaking and is working which again is something you would have caught on your move-out inspection.

Windows/Blinds:

I like to point out the screens, the windows, the blinds, and the window locks.  You want to note that they are in good repair and that they are clean.

Closing:

Those are just some of the highlights of the areas I think you should document when doing a move-in or move-out inspection.  You always need to be thinking about documenting for the new tenant the existing condition.  You are also documenting that things are in good condition for the owner.  That way it saves all the hassle at the end with the tenant.  There is nothing worse than having a great relationship with the tenant throughout the lease and then ruining it because you are arguing about minor things at the security deposit time.  Clear documentation saves everyone that hassle.

Florida Realtors Seminar: Service Animals

Florida Realtors service animals

I attended this property management council meeting yesterday at the board.  We had a speaker from the Florida Board of Realtor. Margy Grant, Esq. discussed the dos and don’ts of accommodating service animals in real estate. We have included the highlights and the full presentation below. Any questions about the information provided will need to be directed to Margy Grant (contact information provided in attached presentation).

  • Assistance animals are NOT considered pets
  • Assistance animals: An animal that works, provides assistance, or performs tasks for the benefit of a disabled person or provides emotional support that alleviates one or more identified symptoms of a person’s disability
  • It is unlawful to not make reasonable accommodations for an assistance animal
  • A reasonable request must be submitted orally or in writing
  • Pet owners can be held liable for damages caused by the animal and must properly manage the assistance animal
  • What housing providers CANNOT ask or require:
    • May not ask for documentation if disability or disability-related need for an assistance animal is readily apparent or already known to the housing provider
    • May not ask for access to medical records or medical providers, or for detailed information regarding the individual’s disability
    • Cannot require an emotional support animal have any specific training
    • Cannot require pet insurance or a pet deposit

For more extensive and detailed information from the seminar, please read the attached PDF provided by Margy Grant, Esq.: 2015 Service animals

September 2015 Secure Investments Realty Newsletter

Figure out how to take the perfect day trip to the oldest city in the nation. Check out this month’s newsletter to see our favorite spots in St. Augustine!

Check out September 2015 Secure Investments Realty Newsletter. Featured articles include:

  • St. Augustine Celebrates 450th Birthday
  • St. Augustine’s Must-See Places
  • Pictures from Tanya’s Trip to Beautiful Upstate New York
  • Words From Our Broker
  • September 2015 Gainesville Rental Market Overview
  • List of our current available properties
  • Interesting Articles

March of Dimes Tournament Update

march of dimes mudd volleyball tournament
Thanks for all those that helped donate to this cause! Tanya played last month in the Mudd Volleyball Tournament to help raise money for the March of Dimes.  Their team was able to raise $780 to help women have healthy pregnancies.  It was a great time for all who played! We have included a video below of the “Muddy Grannies”.  This team dressed up as the extreme stereotype of grandmas and played their games dressed in these hilarious costumes.  Hope you have as many laughs as we did 🙂

 

Muddin' grannies

Click to Watch Video

September 2015 Words From Our Broker

tanya chappell new york tripAhhhh! September! If you are an investor or property manager in Gainesville you’re breathing a slight sigh of relief and appreciation for being able to return to a somewhat normal and less hectic schedule.

The bulk of our move-ins for this season are done and our new tenants are settling in. This often brings a list of move-in maintenance requests. Yes, even though you take the time to prepare the property for the next tenant, sometimes it’s inevitable that small things are missed or easily overlooked unless you’re actually living in the property and using it daily. This can be because some minor quirks in the property may not have bothered your last tenant and they didn’t report it. It can also be the simple fact that it was a timely breakdown. Whatever these requests stem from now is the time to step up and take care of the the repair or issue as quickly as possible. Bear in mind that you may be setting the tone for the entire rest of the occupancy and all of your future communications with this tenant.

What may seem like a petty request to you is obviously not petty to the tenant or else the request would not have been made in the first place.

When I move a new tenant in, I always recommend that they feel free to take notes and pictures of any items that they want to document simply as a matter of pre-existing condition and email it to us and we will add it to their move-in inspection folder of video and pictures I took at the day of move in. At the same time I let them know that if they have anything that needs to be repaired to make a list and submit one maintenance request for those items so that we can send our handyman out to handle their move-in repair requests in one organized visit. The kicker is to handle that request as soon as possible. This can be quite a challenge because your maintenance people may still be busy since you’re likely not their only client. There are also often last-minute properties coming into management because the homeowner was not able to rent it on their own or it was on the sales market and they we’re not able to sell it for what they were asking for.

If you’re not able to handle that maintenance call within the first seven days at least contact your tenant and explain the reason due to the season, and assure them their comfort is your top concern and that it will be taken care of shortly. And do it! Follow up! Put it on your calendar to check back with your maintenance people to make sure it’s on the schedule or being done. All your best intentions will fall to the wayside if you do not follow up with your tenants and vendors until it is done.

It was hard enough to find a good tenant and get your property ready for their move-in so don’t blow it now. Save yourself some future work and lots of headaches and keep your tenants happy so that they hopefully not only renew the lease at the end of the year, but are more delightful to deal with throughout the lease term.

How they were treated in the beginning is a huge factor in how unforeseen emergencies like an AC or refrigerator breakdown in the middle of the night on a Friday, are handled by them. When they trust based on past interactions that you have their comfort as a top priority, they will be a lot nicer and accommodating in its repair.

However no amount of nice is going to make up for putting a tenant in the property that was not well prepared. This means completely clean, walls unmarred, lawn cut, and minor maintenance already performed and a clean AC filter in place.

Don’t set yourself up for failure by representing and trying to rent properties that are not in good condition. If the property owner you’re working with does not see the value in taking care of the property and thereby the tenants, it’s not likely worth the wasted time and bad reputation you will see by having that property in your inventory. Everybody’s lives will be much happier when the property is properly prepared so good tenants are found and rent is paid on time and your tenants treat the home like it is their own. As an investor you will see much greater profits with less time spent when you take all of these things into consideration. As a property manager you will be able to spend your time being creative and proactive managing your properties without near the amount of useless stress.

Having these kinds of policies in place allows me some free time to visit cool places like Upstate New York! Wow! What a beautiful place filled with loads of farm country and beautiful woods and waterfalls. Check out the link to some cool pictures and videos from around the Finger Lakes and Lake Ontario.

See Tanya’ pictures and videos here

 

Donate and Be A Part of the Fun!

Tanya will be participating in the upcoming 23rd Annual March of Dimes Mudd Volleyball Tournament.  Her goal is to raise $500 to contribute towards the event’s goal of raising $175,000.  The funds will go to support research, services, education and advocacy to help women have healthy pregnancies. Even the smallest donation, whether $5, $10, or $20, can help. If you would like to donate, please feel free to donate at the link below.

March of Dime Goal: to help babies in our community start life in the healthiest way possible

Click Here To Donate

tanya chappell volleyball

Words From Our Broker: August 2015

tanya chappell volleyball
Hi and Happy Turn Over Season, at least that’s what investors and property managers in Gainesville fondly refer to it as.

The past month has been filled with a higher than average amount of new rental properties coming onto the market and tenants moving in and out.

I’ve mentioned in previous articles that a few years ago most of Gainesville’s rental properties “turned” over in the months of June, July, and August. So it’s not unusual that we still get a higher percentage of turn overs in the summer and early fall, especially for those properties best suited to someone teaching or taking classes at one of our two awesome colleges.

We had our share of crazy this turn but nothing like the old days when we “turned” 10 times the amount of properties we did this year. However, even a small turn can be crazy. We “turned” about 38 properties so far this season. That doesn’t sound too hard until you consider we did most of them in 7 days.  Since most leases end at the end of the month, they all need to be “turned” and made ready for the new tenants the first week of the next month. That meant doing about 7 at a time (and in 5 to 7 days) each month. This gets a little crazy because I am having to inspect and job it out to various vendors, follow up with them to make sure they’re on schedule and then again to make sure it’s done right before I meet the new tenant for the move-in inspections. Now keep in mind my vendors don’t just sit around waiting for only my company’s work. They’re having to schedule with many other property managers and owners so you can’t just surprise them with unexpected last minute new work- but it happens. 😉

We often get new homeowners into management towards the end of the season when they haven’t been able to rent or sell the home themselves and need to hurry up and get it rented. Often the reason they haven’t been successful renting it themselves is the condition or price compared to condition. To throw a plot twist into the busy season, getting a new home into management that needs a mini renovation (full paint, flooring replacement, appliances, multitude of miscellaneous carpentry or handyman type needs and major lawn/exterior clean up, etc),  just when my vendors and I thought we had it under control, can add even more stress.  We fit the renovations in so it rents in this optimum season. I always feel responsible and driven to get that property on the market ASAP!

We had several of those this season. It brings me such a sense of joy and accomplishment to bring in a poorly performing property, recommend strategic simple improvements, supervise the work and get it rented to good tenants – often all within a couple of weeks – complete with videotaped move-in inspection with the new tenant.

This year we had an even bigger plot twist! One of our townhomes had a water supply line to the upstairs toilet break and pump water into the second floor for at least 12 to 15 hours before the neighbor heard a loud bang that vibrated his walls when the ceiling fell in. Of course, the property had just been “turned” and the new tenant had only moved his couches in so far (thank goodness)! It’s times like this that you really understand the true value and benefit of having a property manager that knows how to act quickly. Check out the videos above of the event as it took place. It’s currently getting the rebuild so keep an eye on our Facebook page for the final video. I also did some videos of a few properties we did mini renovations on and those will be getting posted on our Facebook page when we’re back into the normal crazy busy instead of crazy crazy busy time!

All that fun makes me look forward to the upcoming 23rd Annual Mudd Volleyball March of Dimes fundraiser even more. The funds will support research, services, education and advocacy, to help mothers have healthy pregnancies and babies. We play five-on-five mud ball (basically a big pit dug out two foot deep and filled with water) in Orlando on August 22nd. I would greatly appreciate any help you can give to this awesome cause. Even $5, $10, or $20 would be fantastic. My goal is to raise $500. Please click on this link if you would like to donate: http://muddvolleyball.marchofdimes.org/orlando/tanyachappell

The picture is from two years ago when I played and we placed 2nd. Of course winning is always great but this is truly an event where just participating is a reward in itself.

To all of you still in the thick of it- deep breaths….. In the nose ….. and out the nose….. 10 times. And if that doesn’t work come to one of my Yoga classes. I’ll be sure to wash away some of the stresses of your day!

 

This is an update from our broker and owner – Tanya Chappell.  You can see more at this month’s newsletter or receive monthly updates about the company by subscribing to our newsletter.

A Landlord’s Nightmare:  How to Handle the Unexpected

landlord nightmareImagine slowly moving into your newly rented apartment having made all the proper arrangements to be settled in by the end of the weekend.  Then imagine you walk in Day 2 of your move-in to a caved-in ceiling and a completely soaked home.  That unfortunately is what one of our tenant’s experienced this past month.  During a tenant’s recent move-in, an upstairs toilet supply line broke pumping water in the property for 12 hours before the problem was discovered.

Then imagine you are the owner of this property who now must organize a very expensive repair while dealing with a not-so-happy tenant.  You now need to work with different contractors to get the place dried properly to ensure no mold growth and replace all the damaged drywall, carpet, and baseboards to make the property livable again.  This is in addition to working with the tenant on finding him a place to stay and calling your insurance company to get the claims covered (if you are insured).  All of these details can lead to a big headache for any owner and tenant.  We have included videos below for any do-it-yourself landlord that may need to figure how to handle this situation on their own.  But for owners who hire a property management company, this “nightmare” can be a lot less stressful.

We were able to use our relationships with trusted vendors in the area to get them all on site within an hour of the initial phone call for this flooded townhouse.  We organized vendors quickly which expedited the timeline of the project and ensured the best priced vendors were on site.  Additionally, because of our understanding of tenant-landlord law and previous experience, we were able to navigate the tricky legal complications of having a lease with a tenant who now cannot live in the property.   Clearly communicating a timeline and expectations and being willing to listen to the tenant’s concerns is important since a flooded apartment means an added inconvenience to their life as well.

Overall this project has taken about 3 weeks to complete and the final results will be released on our Facebook.  You can watch the progress of the project in our videos below.  Like us on Facebook to see the final video when it is released.

Part 1: Evaluation of Flooded Apartment
Part 2: Dry-out of Apartment
P
art 3: Coming Soon! Like Us on Facebook to see it!

Below is feedback from the owner and tenant involved in this flooded property.  They both were reassured with how the situation was handled.

Tenant Feedback:
“Thank you so much for you and the owner’s understanding of my situation. Never in a million years would I think that I would have to go through something like this, but you and your company, as well as the owners, have been phenomenal in helping me out with everything.”

Owner Feedback:
“I sure am thankful to be a part of such a great team in getting this cleaned up.”

Secure Investments Realty August 2015 Newsletter

landlord nightmare

How would you handle this landlord nightmare? Check out this month’s newsletter to find out!

Check out Secure Investments August 2015 Newsletter. Featured articles include:

  • A Landlord’s Nightmare:  How to Handle the Unexpected
  • Support the Upcoming Annual 23rd March of Dimes Mudd Volleyball Tournament
  • Words From Our Broker
  • August 2015 Gainesville Rental Market Overview
  • List of our current available properties

A LandLord’s Nightmare: Flooded Rental Apartment

This apartment flooded Friday night and was discovered Friday morning. Because the new tenant was not completely moved in yet, it was not discovered until the water had been flooding the apartment for more than 12 hours. This is footage of the damage. The cause was a busted supply line on the upstairs toilet. The estimated time to get the apartment ready for move-in again is about 2-3 weeks. The whole place needs to be dried out to prevent mold. Anything that is not salvageable will be thrown out and replaced. We are planning on using mold prevention specialists to treat the wet areas and then to rebuild the damaged parts of the apartment. Stay tuned for an updated video on the progress. If you don’t want to deal with these emergencies in your rental property, contact us at info@secureinvestmentsrealty.com for your free rental evaluation. You can see more about our property management services at www.secureinvestmentsrealty.com.

July 2015 Must-Read Articles

These articles and more are shared daily on our Facebook. Follow us on Facebook if you would like to read more!

July 2015 Words From Our Broker

Hi, What a busy first week of July! Has it really only been 8 days? Being a property manager in Gainesville in the month of July ranges from happily busy to insanely hectic depending on your work load and temperament.

Granbabies at 4th of July Celebration

My July is the happily busy kind. Thank God the days of insanely hectic are over for me. I went through that time period when I was much younger and liked the hectic pace – even thrived on it. I remember working till midnight doing inspections sometimes for three or four days straight. Those were the days that we ended all leases on July 31st and moved in the new tenants three days later. Doesn’t sound hard with a few rentals but when you’re managing hundreds it’s simply crazy!

I’ve turned 75 houses in less than a week complete with move out inspections, obtaining estimates, supervising work, and completing move-in inspections. This creates a ton of actual office work as well as having to be in the field. In those days we didn’t have the same wonderful technology shortcuts we get to enjoy today like creating work orders from my iPhone app or video taping the move out and saving to drop box so your office people can work on security claim letters, etc. right away. These days some of my bigger turnover challenges are finding fast enough Internet to upload or send my pictures and videos as I go from one property to another (and yes – hitting send before starting on my way to my next home). Let’s not confuse mobile office with an office in motion 😉

Most apartment complexes in Gainesville still operate this way. I quit requiring all leases to end in July over 8 years ago because the market could support more year round leases. This is especially true in single family homes but some of our properties do still need to cycle on those dates. We do keep those that are more suited to college students on that time frame.Those of you that still have properties that haven’t been rented yet may need to consider dropping your rent if you hope to attract a college tenant for this season. Keep in mind that the Internet allows people to easily compare properties and choose the ones priced best and in the best condition. Also equally, if not more important, is to not get antsy and accept a tenant with poor rental or credit history. Screening is probably the single most important thing you can do. Credit, criminal, and rental history as well as verifying income is a must or you may end up severely regretting even owning rental property. We require they make at least three times the amount of monthly rent for income and provide copies of pay stubs. For the do-it-yourselfers, if you don’t have access to credit and criminal background checks, utilizing a property manager for the advertising, screening, and move-in process is a life saver and a cheaper alternative than paying for full service. This is often termed “tenant placement service”. We provide this service for one month’s rent.

This Fourth of July was spent as most of mine are… enjoying the Keystone Heights “Our Country Day” annual celebration . Such a wonderful hometown event that includes a street dance, parade, fish fry and craft festival and my favorite, the volleyball tournament! Last year I had been released from the hospital the day prior and had to be assisted to walk down the path to the tourney where I had to watch instead of participate. I do love watching volleyball but I love playing more! I was really feeling very blessed to be playing this year. We played fours and our team came in third against some highly competitive teams. You wouldn’t think there’d be that many good players in this town, but we kinda breed them here 🙂 Many of my friends’ kids now play in college and come back home for this fun tourney.

Later that day we took the jet ski out to Kingsley Lake at Camp Blanding joining some family that was camping there. Wow! It is a wonderful little jewel that veterans and enlisted get to enjoy. They have rental houses and RV and primitive camp sites for dirt cheap, but you have to have served to rent them. The lake is clear and pretty big so in spite of the number of boats, it was still easy to find a good spot. I took a short video of one of the usual daily storms that came in while on the lake. That evening the fireworks show around the lake went on for hours. It was obvious some people spent a lot of money on their fireworks this year. I hope you all had a safe and happy Independence Day! Thanks again to all of you that have served.

CLICK HERE to see more pictures and video from Tanya’s 4th of July.

Read similar blog posts from “Words From Our Broker”:

Secure Investments Realty July 2015 Newsletter

Check out the court case you may have missed and what it means for real estate professionals in this month’s newsletter!

Check out Secure Investments July 2015 Newsletter. Featured articles include:

  • Disparate Impact: The Supreme Court Case You May Have Missed
  • Secure Investments Tech Updates
  • New Homebuyers Share What They Want in a Realtor
  • July 4th Videos from Tanya
  • Words From Our Broker
  • July 2015 Gainesville Rental Market Overview
  • List of our current available properties

Please subscribe if you want to receive these monthly newsletters.

Other issues you may enjoy:

Secure Investments March 2014 Newsletter

Secure Investments April 2015 Newsletter

Secure Investments Tech Updates

Our company loves staying on top of the latest tech trends. We are always looking for ways to save our clients time and money. Appfolio is a great company that we work with that runs our portals and marketing interfaces.  They are always looking to improve their systems which in terms benefits us.  The more time we can save you, the more time you can spend enjoying this beautiful summer!

  • Owner Portal -The portal has now been switched to a password log-in instead of the previous email system.  They will also be redesigning the interface soon to make it more user-friendly.
  • Owner Contributions – We now can receive payments through your portal.  Instead of having to mail a check for repairs; you can now pay through your owner portal.  Debit and credit card payments will also be possible in a few weeks.
  • Mobile Responsive – Appfolios interface will now adjust to fit your screen no matter the size. This gives you full functionality on any device.  This makes paying rent payments on the go easier.
  • Mobile Inspections – We can now complete move-in and -out inspections via any mobile device.  This platform makes it easy to send work orders for the turnover at the property to ensure faster turnover times. Additionally, we can email a PDF of the report to owners if requested.  In addition to our usual videos and pictures, this will make inspections even more detailed to ensure our owners’ properties are protected.
  • Appfolio Consumer Relations Team – a dedicated team that helps provide detailed credit reports on all of our tenants and resolve any credit report conflicts. Read more here.

Appfolio Consumer Relations Team

Appfolio Consumer Relations Team

Contact information:

AppFolio, Inc. – Consumer.relations@appfolio.com or call 866.359.3630 (Option 4 for Consumer Relations)

For information please visit: www.appfolio.com/consumer

  • When do you need to contact the consumer relations team:
    • Consumer wants copy of report
    • Consumer has dispute with the report
    • Property manager has questions about report
  • Timeline:
    • They are legally required to reply within 5 days of a dispute being filed
    • Experian has 30 days to investigate issue
    • Most request are resolved in 7-10 days
    • Required to have a resolution in 30 days
  • Because they do credit reports, they are considered a consumer reporting agency and are governed by the Fair Credit Reporting Act.
  • Restrictions that Fair Crediting Reporting Act puts on team:
    • Disclose screening reports to consumers upon request with consent
    • Investigate disputed information
    • Correct or delete inaccurate information
    • Provide general guidance and help on info reported
  • Reading reports:
    • They provide an overview of various reports to make it easy to read: Red bad, green good
    • SSN not verified means Experian doesn’t have a file on the information – could be too young, new to US, no credit history, etc.
    • Use FICO – person must have one positive active credit line for at least six months to be able to calculate a FICO score; considered a snapshot in time
    • If applicants contact Experian and get a copy of their report, their score will be higher because it is not a FICO score; FICO is more rigorous and a different formula to calculate it
    • Rent Bureau is a way to build credit through rental history; only positively impacts your credit score so tenants paying on time will only ever build their credit; networking tool for property managers
    • Criminal history is not matched by SSN; it is matched by names, addresses, DOB, known aliases, etc.; courts have a different procedure on reporting; you can contact them to clarify something and drill down deeper in the report; 7 years is the statue of limitations so Appfolio sticks to that (except sex offenders – that is for life); some states do not upload criminal data – some won’t because it is expensive or they want people to pay for it
  • Recommended best practices:
    • File dispute quickly:
      • You cannot email them people’s personal identifiable information
      • They are getting encrypting document capabilities soon
    • Communicate: understand your responsibilities for FCRA, follow-up verbal with written, engage Appfolio to assist
    • Stay in Compliance: need written authorization to run background check, need to keep documents for 6 years, only for tenant purposes – you cannot use this on employees, boyfriends, etc.; don’t rescreen because it will hard hit their account twice so call appfolio and they will do it in a way that will hurt their score
    • FAQs:
      • It is a hard hit because it lowers their credit score
      • If the applicants want a copy of the report, have them contact CR team and they will verify their identity and mail them the report

You can watch the full webinar here.

Disparate Impact: The Supreme Court Case You Missed

This month the Supreme Court decided a important court case dealing with housing discrimination. Their ruling defined Disparate Impact which will have far reaching consequences for Realtors.  Here is a quick overview to keep you up-to-date:

Disparate Impact Defined:  a legal doctrine under the Fair Housing Act which states that a policy may be considered discriminatory if it has a disproportionate “adverse impact” against any group based on race, national origin, color, religion, sex, familial status, or disability when there is no legitimate, non-discriminatory business need for the policy

What It Means to Real Estate Professionals:  You can be the subject of a lawsuit without intending to be discriminatory. Intent or malice to discriminate does not need to be proven; only that a policy was developed with little attention to the potential impact it could have on a protected group.

Examples of Disparate Impact: (examples taken from here)

  • Residential rules may also appear neutral while negatively impacting a protected class.  For example, condominium association or housing complex rules that ban doormats, signs and other materials in hallways could seem like a neutral policy, but in effect may amount to the eviction of observant Jewish residents on religious grounds, who would then be unable to post a mezuzah.
  • Zoning ordinances that limit areas to single family residences or types of residences could, for example, have a discriminatory impact on people with disabilities.  Not because the zoning ordinance treats people differently, but rather because the policy might limit group homes or other arrangements necessary to accommodate an individual’s disability.

The Difference between Disparate Impact and Disparate Treatment: Disparate Treatment claims have to show malice and discriminatory intent. Disparate impact just needs to show culpability not intention.

More Articles discussing the Supreme Court Case:

 

 

New Home Buyers Share What They Want In A Realtor

Florida Realtors district conference

Home Buyers Discussion Panel

Tanya Chappell, our founder and property manager attended today’s Florida Realtors conference.  This informative conference provided a great educational opportunity for Realtors to grow professionally.

The conference hosted a panel of homebuyers in different stages of the homebuying process.  They shared their experience and what they were looking for in a Realtor. Here are some insights they shared:  T

What is the Most Important Thing in Finding a Trustworthy Realtor?

  • Personable and able to establish a good relationship
  • Timely and returns calls right away
  • Informative and knowledgeable
  • Prompt and attentive but not overeager
  • Patient
  • Able to listen and able to discern what’s important to the homebuyer and apply this when selecting homes to view
  • Being honest about what the situation is and allowing the homebuyer to make a decision

What was Important to You in Finding a Home?

  • Some homebuyers felt they needed to look at everything before making a decision  or knowing what they liked
  • Other homebuyers only wanted to see the homes that fit their criteria

Did you Search on Your Own for a Home?

  • All searched online beforehand
  • Most were frustrated about outdated websites like Trullia and Zillow but had no idea where to go to find accurate information until speaking to a realtor
  • Some Realtors had their own app that they found very helpful.

What Were Your Expectations in Communicating with Your Realtor?

  • Most homebuyers expected a return call or email by 9 am the following morning unless it’s a weekend
  • Most homebuyers preferred a return call or email by that evening
  • If the homebuyer called in the morning, he or she expected a return call by that afternoon

What was Your Biggest Fear about Working with a Realtor?

  • Getting pushed into something they don’t want or can’t afford

Outside of Price, What was the Most Important Thing When Looking For a Home?(not in order of priority)

  • Location
  • Had to have their criteria that they specifically needed
  • Schools

What Things Could Your Realtor Have Done Better?

  • Realtor sent listings that weren’t FHA approved when the homebuyers were getting FHA loan
  • Realtor didn’t have information or referral about sink hole activity that was found on the home they were buying

Did You Look at Print Advertising?

  •  It’s not practical anymore to use print
  • You’d have to spend so much time looking for what you want too time consuming when you can search the Internet

Other blog posts you may enjoy:

Rent It Or List It

The Renter Next Door

 

Webinar Notes: Video Marketing For Real Estate

Katie Lance gave another great webinar showing real estate agents how to integrate video marketing into all areas of marketing.  We are definitely going to start implementing some of these ideas.  Hope our notes help you all to start your own video marketing plans!

Why Video Marketing?

  • Youtube is the #2 search engine in the world
  • Youtube ecosystem:
  • 40% of videos on Youtube are watched on a mobile device

 5 “Do It Yourself” Marketing Videos Tips:

  • Shoot horizontally
  • Keep it short and simple – Keep property videos under 2 minutes and upbeat
  • Be Prepared – plan out a rough idea of what you want to say
  • Have a call to action at the end
  • What questions are you getting asked all the time? – these questions are the best sources for video material

How to Hire a Pro:

  • Look on Google or Yelp
  • Interview 3-5 people
  • Ask for samples
  • Ask for references (need to have a good personality match with you)

10 Video Ideas for Every Broker:

  • Video Blogging – hold up your iphone and just answer a quick question that you usually get
  • Instagram video – Use Hyperlapse app to speed up photos into a video
  • Market videos – discuss what the market in your area is like right now
  • Screen capture videos – Take videos showing your computer screen; easy option for those scared of the camera because your face doesnt have to be seen
  • Property tours
  • Testimonials
  • About me – this is a good one to invest a little money in
  • Community – highlight interesting things in your community such as sites to see
  • Neighborhood – shows the benefits of different neighborhoods while driving around
  • Video email Bombbomb.com is a good option

Increase your Organic Reach with Videos on Facebook:

  • Upload videos directly to FB business page
  • Give each video a title and tag anyone in the video
  • Create video ads
  • Upload the video in Youtube as well

Case study Examples:

9 Steps to Promoting your Video:

  • Put it on your marketing calendar (if it is a video that isn’t going to expire, add to calendar to promote now and later)
  • Add video to web site
  • Email it one-on-one especially your client (think who you can send it to first before releasing it online)
  • Email it to your database
  • Upload to Youtube and Facebook
  • Tweet video multiple times
  • Podt link to linkedin
  • Repeat process and make more videos and market them

Next big thing for video? Periscope and Meerkat

  • Download the apps and see what is going on

Apps to Quickly Edit Video to Add Branding:

 

If you want to watch the full webinar, check out the link below:

http://www.leveragere.com/videos/YssNFeHR

Read similar blog posts below:

Words From Our Broker – June 2015

Tanya Chappell Eleuthera Island 2015Hello, it feels like summer is officially here even though I believe the 21st of this month officially marks the date. But, I can tell you from experience, it is here! I fairly recently started playing sand volleyball again after all of my issues last year between the tick disease and a broken shoulder, And OMG! It is hot out there. I am really not sure why the group I play with on Sundays plays at 1 PM in the heat of the day.  It must be purely to test our mental strength and endurance. Running and jumping in the sand in 90 degree temps will make you feel you’ve lost your good sense! The sand was so hot a few weeks ago I had to break out the sand socks and some folks that didn’t got blisters. Yikes!

The real estate market is in full swing with people shopping for new homes to rent and buy. The decision to sell their current property, turn it into a rental or sell their rental is all the buzz now. If you haven’t considered it yet, this is the last month I’d wait if you want to catch the July and August shoppers. But keep in mind these are not like the old days where if you didn’t have it rented or sold by July 31st, it didn’t happen for awhile. Gainesville now supports year-round leases and sales although winter and holidays are always the slowest.

We’ve had our typical busy season with lots of new properties coming into management and some of our rental properties selling. We have a handful of properties turning over each month and moving new tenants in especially in the properties that are closer to the university or that tend to attract students or faculty from one of our two fabulous, top-rated colleges. The vendors in town are all working very hard and if you don’t already have a good relationship with them, your property may not be a priority for them. That’s one of the perks of having a good property management company.  We have trusted vendors that get our work done quickly, correctly, and at a good price despite being busy.

These days are spent doing lots of inspections with pictures and videos and the paperwork that goes along with the tenants’ move-out process and refund of their security deposit. Because we videotape our move-in and move-out inspections, it makes this time a lot less difficult and stressful when tenants don’t agree with the charges assessed in their security deposit. After sending their list of damages if they dispute a charge we invite them back to the office to review the videos. A lot of our tenants turn around and buy property and then have us manage their property when they need to relocate because they respect how they were treated while they rented from us and how well we took care of the property and documented everything. These are all things to keep in mind if your managing your own property.

Using the wonders of modern technology to keep up with work, I was able to finally take the Bahamas trip that was supposed to happen over Christmas last year (before the broken shoulder got in the way). I know that working while on vacation may not sound pleasant for some people, but I like what I do and I have the best assistant in the world so it just makes it another day in the life, but in a different beautiful location. We stayed in Eleuthera, an island 110 miles long and about 2 miles at its widest. We had an overnight stay in Nassau which we maximized by staying in a beautiful hill top, ocean view bed-and-breakfast  that the universe picked for us (or the cab driver depending on how you look at things). Then on to Eleuthera where we stayed in an awesome bungalow right on a private beach. The bottom step of the deck was in the sand. Two full sides of the home were sliding glass doors that opened to that beautiful view. We had such a wonderful and relaxing time. Here’s a link to that property’s web site in case you’re interested: www.romanticbungalow.com and check out our video below. The owners were very accommodating of our schedule changes and easy to work with.  I included a link below to some of the neat places we visited. Check out the video of Glass Window Bridge (our video) that separates the Atlantic from the Caribbean and the stark differences. Big surf and deep deep blue water on one side and calm shallow, serene, green water on the other. It was breathtaking and the video shows this.

I hope you enjoy your summer. Kids are out of school and summer break is here, so take advantage. Last month’s newsletter listed some fun things for kids to do this summer (click here). Wear lots of sunscreen in the day and bug spray at night if you live in the sunshine state 😉

This article was featured in this month’s newsletter.  Please subscribe if you want to receive these updates and more each month.

Secure Investments Realty June 2015 Newsletter

Don’t know the answer on whether you should rent it or list it?  Check out this month’s newsletter to find great tips on deciding which route is best for you and your property.

Featured articles in Secure Investments Realty June 2015 Newsletter:

  • Rent It or List It
  • Words From Our Broker
  • Pictures and Video From Tanya’s Trip to Eleuthera
  • June 2015 Gainesville Rental Market Overview
  • List of our current available properties

Rent It or List It

Rent it or list it secure investments edition

The real estate market has been improving over the last couple months.  With a better sales market, property owners are beginning to weigh the options of should they continue renting their property or list it for sale.  Every property and owner’s situation is unique so there is no one size fits all answer to this question.  The real estate market can be unpredictable and there is no guarantee that either option will go exactly as planned.   We always recommend talking to Tanya or another qualified Realtor® before making a final decision.  Make sure to pick a Realtor® with experience in both rentals and sales when asking for advice.  Here are some tools to help you start making your preliminary decision of whether you should…. rent it or list it.

Questions to Ask Before Putting a Property Up for Rent

1.  Will you ever want to move back to the area or will you have kids going to school in the area soon? 

It may be cheaper to rent your house and move back in when you return or your kids move in when it’s time for college, instead of paying commissions to sell your current property and the purchase of another one when you get back. You also won’t be able to predict how much the prices will increase in the area when you are ready to move back. If you have kids going to school in the area, adding their name to the deed will allow you to claim homestead tax exemption and further save money.

2.  Can you rent your home for enough money to cover the mortgage payment and expenses? 

If you can cover the expenses, renting can be a smart way to help fund your retirement. If you have enough expenses to deduct like mortgage interest, property management fees, maintenance expenses, insurance and property taxes, you may not have income on paper that would be taxed. Your savings will be in the form of equity appreciation. Essentially the rent will be paying your mortgage and building equity; thus reducing your debt. When you’re ready you can sell the house and convert your equity into a lump sum, or continue renting it and collecting income during your retirement. Keep in mind you will want to talk to your accountant so they can explain the capital gains taxes you will pay when you sell.

3. What’s your home’s condition?

A common mistake is thinking that renters won’t care much about worn out flooring or fixtures. The homes condition is a direct reflection on the rent income you will get and the type of tenant you will attract. If you’re trying to rent a home that is not in good condition, you will generally not be able to rent it for the optimal price nor will you be able to attract good renters. Landlords often set themselves up for failure by not preparing the property properly to attract a good renter. When tenants see you respect your home, they will in turn respect your home. The opposite is also true.

Our company does not represent properties that are not in good condition. If we did we would spend all of our time handling complaints and maintenance issues. This is the type of situation that will make you regret getting into this business to begin with. If you’re spending all your time fighting problems, no amount of money tends to be worth it. By spending the money upfront getting your property ready and making sure it is in good condition, you will be able to charge the highest possible rent for that property and attract the best possible tenants. Your savings will come in the lack of vacancy time and maintenance needed throughout a tenancy and satisfied tenants who will stay in the property longer and help you pay off the debt. Most of your expenses come when turning the property over and having to find new tenants.  Keeping good tenants happy is always best financial decision.

4.  Are you willing to pay to maintain the home?

One of my general rule of thumb when buying an investment property is: Can I afford to pay four month’s worth of mortgage payments without rent income? You have to be prepared in the event of a vacancy or bad tenant. I’ve never had to go four months without rent on any of my properties but you need to be prepared if you have a tenant that doesn’t pay rent and you need to evict them and get the property ready for a new tenant. I find an average of four month’s rent works in this scenario.

As a landlord, you are required to completely maintain the property. The tenants will usually be responsible for the lawn upkeep but anything that breaks in the property you as the landlord are responsible to pay for the repair. This then becomes a good deduction from the income. With a good management company, they will be able to determine if the repair was needed due to the tenants neglect.  If so, they will in turn charge the tenant to reimburse you for your cost.  Between each tenant you’ll expect to have some cost turning the property over. This usually entails: touchup paint, cleaning, spring cleaning on the exterior  (tree and bush trimming, mulch, power washing, etc.) and minor maintenance. We find inspecting the property every four months tremendously cuts down on the amount of work needed when the tenant vacates. You will be able to charge the tenants for the damages they created and deduct it from their security deposit, but you can’t charge for normal wear and tear.

If you are okay with handling the upkeep of a rental, or can afford to pay a management company to handle the property for you, and it makes sense financially then I feel it’s a no brainier.  If you can’t live with that stress, selling rather than renting your home may be your best move.

Questions to Ask Before Selling a Rental Property

1.  Are you sick of being a landlord?
Not everyone is cut out to be a landlord.  Renting property can be stressful and unpredictable.  As pointed out in last month’s Broker’s Corner (click here to read), being a landlord takes work and the ability to handle the highs and lows.  If you know you don’t have the stomach or patience for it, it may be better to sell and choose a different investment route.

2.  Is the area depreciating or appreciating?

If the neighborhood has been going up in value, it may still have a ways to go before you reach the best point to sell.  If it is depreciating, now may be the best time to sell before your sales price goes down even more.  If you have already broke even or made as much profit as you would like, an appreciating sales market can be the best time to sell if you are tired of being a landlord as well.

3. Do you have a better place to invest?

Calculate the returns you are getting each year with your rental property.  If you can get better returns in other places such as in an IRA or another rental home, then now may be the best time to sell.  You want to make your money work for you. Also if you need the money to retire or make a family move, selling a property can provide you with the immediate capital you need for your next step in life.

4. How much can you sell the property for?

Call a Realtor® in the area and ask to see recently sold homes (comparables) in the area. Once you have enough research to determine a realistic sales price, run the numbers to see whether you can make more money selling the property than renting it.  Be sure to look at it long term as well and take all factors into consideration such as Realtor® fees, renovation needs, and vacancy rates.  Selling a house can give you a lot of cash immediately but you might have made more 15 years down the road by holding and renting for a while before selling.   

This article was featured in this month’s newsletter.  Please subscribe if you want to receive these updates and more each month.

Similar blog posts: