Friday, May 28, 2010

Seattle ranked one of the best places to live.

According to a Yahoo real estate article, Seattle is full of smart people and innovative ideas. That's why we’re ranked #2 on the Best City’s for the Next Decade. Click here to read the article

Monday, May 24, 2010

Understanding what it takes to be a good landlord

Are you cut out to be good landlord? Many believe they may have what it takes to be an efficient landlord, but little do they know, it’s a full-time job! Owning and managing your own property can be time consuming. You may find yourself dealing with property issues, answering late night maintenance calls or even trying to hunt down a tenant for late and unpaid rent. Here are some tips to help you understand what it takes to become a landlord or property manager.

1. Find an ideal tenant. No manager enjoys or profits from keeping their property vacant for long periods of time. It is important not to rush the first prospect that tours your home into to renting it. It’s crucial to do the proper screening prior to approving a tenant. A thorough background and credit check should generate enough evidence to give you an idea of who the applicant is and whether or not they have the financial capabilities to rent. You sure don’t want a level three sex offender or someone who will be late on their rent payment. Make sure you review these reports thoroughly. Ask for other items like pay stubs and personal references that can help you in the screening process.

2. Properly prepare a lease. Once you have done the proper screening and approving, you are expected to prepare a lease. This is necessary to create and relay the leasing terms the tenant is to expect and follow. There is a written requirement for a lease contract for it to be valid. This is also beneficial for managers because if there are future discrepancies or your tenant defaults, you have hard evidence to refer to. Consider asking a local attorney or real estate company to help prepare one for you. Make sure the contact is binding in a court of law.

3. Maintenance. If swinging a hammer around is not your forte then I would suggest having a few maintenance companies on call. An emergency can arise at any time. Make sure you have these numbers handy. Most property managers have lists of frequently used vendors for maintenance purposes so services can be easily obtained, and I suggest you keep a list as well.

4. Understand your rights. Make sure you are familiar with the laws of your community. Most states have laws in place to protect both the landlord and the tenant. Make sure you understand these laws and know your right as a landlord.

As you can see managing you your own property can be an excruciating task. Make sure you consider hiring a property management company before trying to manage your property alone. It may be worth it.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Is renting your home a good idea?

Many people have turned their homes into rentals. You may have to move for various reasons and selling your home may not be your best option. I put together a few tips to help you determine if renting your home is the best decision.

First, you need to know how much it will cost to keep your house functioning. These are cost such as mortgage payments, taxes, insurance, HOA dues (homeowner dues), and maintenance cost. Some expenses may include property management fees or legal counsel. Come up with a total.

Second, come up with an adequate amount for rent. Find a way to compare other rentals in your neighborhood that are similar to yours. Use resources such as the local paper or property management company. Another good place to search is Craigslist.

Finally, compare rent vs. cost. It’s a good idea to create two Profit & Loss (P&L) statements. Create one with the best case scenario; this is if you lived in a perfect world, high rent with little maintenance and few expenses. Create the second P&L statement as if it were the worst case scenario; this is if you had the tenants from hell. Your maintenance cost would be high, and rent low. Now analyze each statement and decide if renting your home is a good financial decision. Renting your home may create extra cash flow for some, and a loss for others. Keep in mind; this could be a long term investment. There may be good reason to hang on to your rental even if it doesn’t have an immediate profit such as, it’s a tax sheltered depreciation, the prospect of a worse loss incurred by selling immediately or the chance it will appreciate in the near future.

All things considered, making this decision may not be an easy one. Stayed turned for my next blog, on understanding what it takes to be a landlord.

Thank You Seattle Police

There was an article in the Seattle Times today about Seattle Police Department doing a drug sweep in Pioneer Square with the intent of arresting 27 crack-cocaine dealers who have been repeat offenders. The months-long probe has the goal of getting the dealers off the street up to five years instead of arresting them and then seeing them back on the streets in a short amount of time. The sweep should help Pioneer Square clean up its image. The Elliott Bay Bookstore recently moved out of the neighborhood and the state of the neighborhood is believed to be one of the major reasons for leaving. In addition, the article regarding the drug sweep quoted a tenant of Monterey Lofts who said she witnesses drug deals daily. Hopefully, this will help people living in the area feel safer as well.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Update on the McGuire Building

Another article about the McGuire today. If you have not read my blog before the McGuire is a building in Belltown that the owner plans on demolishing because of structural issues. This article talks about how once a building is built it is up to the owner to make sure it is safe, rather than the cities responsibility.

Click here to read more