If you were like me as a landlord starting out, you are buying older properties. Probably multifamily rentals, if you can afford it. Often older properties are not set up for multiple families, even though they are being used for that purpose. There are single meters in a multifamily property. Even large properties have single water meters. You probably wonder how to handle utilities as a landlord.
Here is how to handle utilities as a landlord for your properties, multifamily or single family.
One of the most asked questions I asked of me, or I see on other forums, is how to hold rental property. Should it be an LLC, S-Corp, sole proprietorship, etc. I cannot speak to all the benefits of each method, but I can speak to what I have done with my properties. You may want to consult an expert (i.e. not me) to determine what is best for yourself.
Here is the way I hold rental property, and the reasons behind it.
A few months ago, I wrote a piece about another investment property purchase I was considering. If you want to make money as a landlord in real estate, you must be able to purchase rental property at a discount. As it turned out, that property never materialized, probably for the best. I was going to be a partner on a $1.4M property, put up $100K+, and be a partner on a $1M loan. I did not want to get stuck on a large loan, with limited mechanisms to get out.
As it turns out, all good things come to those who wait. Here is a recap of my recent investment property purchase. Remember, if you buy via the MLS, you are probably paying too much.
For those of you who follow my Blog, you know that my properties are very close to my own home. All are within a few miles; the furthest is seven miles away. It may not always be that way, and sometimes you will need to manage your properties from a distance. Even if your properties are close, if you move, perhaps to a retirement location, you will need to know how to manage out of state rental property
The secret to managing any property is to have great tenants. Great tenants can think ahead, and can anticipate issues before they occur. They take action to avoid having a problem.
Regardless of where you live in relation to your properties, you need to be able to manage them effectively. Whether they are 7 miles away, or 700 miles away, you need to set yourself up so that you do not have to be on-site as often.
My recent trip to Florida will illustrate an example that can help.
Never underestimate the amount of headaches you can have with rental property appliances. When my boyfriend moved in with me about a year and a half ago, he decided to rent his place out for some extra rental income. Because we were combining households, we had no need for his washer and dryer, BBQ, or refrigerator. He figured that he’d be a nice guy and offer those items to potential renters for their use while they remained renters.
If you have ever contemplated becoming a Real Estate Investor, there are things that you must understand. Once you cross the line, your life will never be the same. You will have crossed to the ‘dark’ side of making money. A 2% savings return will look paltry. Of course, just getting back your initial investment might also look like a windfall.
Things you take for granted now, will forever be gone. But you will persevere, for you know that the fruit will be there to harvest at a later date. Sooner or later, you will be able to pick the fruits of your labor and enjoy them. And no one will tell you that you have to wait until you are 62, or 65, or 67 or 70.
Your view on other properties will change. How much can you buy it for, how much can you sell it for. A distressed house on your own block becomes an opportunity, not an eye sore. A friend with money may become a partner, not someone to envy. A junk toilet sitting in your backyard becomes a trophy, not a piece of junk (not right away anyway…).
When a new large store is being built, you hope it is a home improvement store, not a clothing store. You look at all the colors of paint on the color wheels, and know that only one or two would you ever buy. You realize that many of the paint colors should be illegal to sell.
How have your views, on anything, changed once you became more involved and in tune with the activity? Have you ever thought “I will never think or do something like that”, and then a few years later you want to “think like that”?
Are you maximizing revenue from your real estate investments? If you have rental property, there are literally hundreds of ways to make extra money. I often thought if I had 20 properties to take care of that it would be a full-time job for someone, possibly me. In addition to the rental income, at a time I was running a small lawn care company, trying to generate enough money to live on. That mowing, plowing and miscellaneous maintenance also generated capital to kick-start my seed money for real estate investing. Never underestimate the power of saving money, or the ability of a side gig to create a lot of extra capital. Every hour you spend making money for yourself, is an hour less you have to work for someone else.
Now that I have my rentals, I always look to save money or generate new revenue streams from my tenants. I am not looking to gouge them, but for ways to leverage my skills and their money.
Here are a few tips that I have either done, or have thought about doing. Actually I have implemented all but one of them, although not every one on every tenant. Most are common and not rocket science, some are not.
If you have ever wanted to quit your full-time job, and wondered how it would be possible with only a few rentals, this could be a way to help with your ticket out of the drudgery of working for a boss.
Landlords in Homeowners Associations are a joy to some, and a pariah to others. I own multiple properties in a Homeowners Association (HOA). People love HOAs, or hate them. Often, it is real estate investors that hate the HOAs.
If an investor buys property in a homeowner association, they have effectively signed a contract with the HOA. They have agreed to abide buy the Declarations, bylaws, rules and regulations. If they do not like the contract, they can attempt to change it. Once thing they cannot do, is violate it.
As president of my HOA, I have had some challenges with investors. For some reason, after they have purchased property in our HOA, they think they know more than the HOA Board does. They very well might, but there are still rules to follow.
I am always intrigued by these investors who buy a property in a HOA. They buy a property because it was priced right, looked to be in a great area, and had the potential for profit. Unfortunately, some of the investors I have come across did not understand HOAs, did not read the rules, or did not think the HOA would enforce the rules. They were interested in their own profit, at the expense of the other investors.
I am sure that they have a few HOA horror stories of their own, after they violated our rules.
If you are like most investors in real estate, you want to make money. Unfortunately, Murphy has a way to continually take away your profits at the earliest moment. Even though you have accounted for all of the known events, and even all of the unseen events, the ‘other’ events happen. These hidden rental expenses are real, and they add up.
Some expenses are a part of running a business, and really have no bearing on the rental property you are purchasing. But you would not have the expense if you did not have the rental. So it impacts your cash flow and profitability. Some expenses are very small, but they indeed add up.
Some expenses are obvious, but who would ever think to include that in the cash flow analysis of a rental property.
Were you aware that driving to and from the rental will cost you something? Of course, did you account for it in your analysis? It could add up to be several hundred dollars a year.
Were you aware that sending letter(s) to a tenant would cost you something? Did you account for it? It may only be a couple of dollars, but it adds up.
You may want to get a business business liability policy. How does that affect the cash flow of the rental?
Tenant gifts? Even $50 adds up fast. Bad tenants? Those are the worst. Evictions? Bed Bugs? rental licenses? Rental inspections? Tax preparers? Incorporating? Time and effort? YIKES!!
I get emails and calls all the time about people wanting advice on how to invest in real estate. People want to be a Real Estate Investor, and do not know where to begin.
It is sort of flattering, like I have some sort of insider knowledge of the markets or what property or type of asset is the best investment today. But I am always willing to share my knowledge. Even more interesting are the investors who say something like, “If you find a property that I can make a quick $50K on, call me. I have the money to invest.”
If I see a property with a $50K potential, it’s mine — and no one else’s if I can help it.
I get people who contact me with things like this. “I have a goal to have 100 rental properties within 10 years. I have $10K to invest now. How should I start?” I admire the goal setting, and I appreciate the fact that someone can think big. Unfortunately, if that is your way to riches in real estate, your bubble will soon be popped.
Do You Have What it Takes?
There are many different ways to invest in real estate. I personally do rentals and have done a flip. I have also sold real estate. All my rentals had to be 100% remodeled after I purchased them, so I know a lot about rehabbing. If you are thinking about any self-managed real estate, you also need to know a bit about rehabbing. Once you can rehab a property, the world of real estate can get very interesting and more financially rewarding.