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Real Estate

Valuable Tax Write-Offs for Landlords

When you own a property that you rent out, you are a business owner whose in the business of providing valuable space for tenants. As a result, you’re entitled to a variety of tax benefits to lower the cost of running your business; if you’re not claiming these, you’re losing money that could fit snugly in your wallet! One of the advantages of employing the services of reputable property management companies is their wide variety of resources; they can help you better understand what tax write-offs apply to you, as well as point you to information and resources that will help you save money.


Interest is one of the most valuable write-offs for rental property, and there are several different types of interest that are tax-deductible. You can deduct interest on loans to improve your rental property, including interest from credit cards used to acquire goods and services for rental property improvement. It’s important to keep in mind that this rule does not apply to the principle; deductions on the principle are taken through depreciation instead.


The cost of minor improvements and repairs, like fertilizer for your lawn, can often be deducted from your taxes as a business expense; larger, longer lasting purchases, however, are considered capital assets. Capital assets, like a newly purchased property, cannot be deducted from your taxes the year you purchase them. However, because these assets are long lasting, they can be expected to depreciate in value over time. Your land does not depreciate, as owning land is always valuable, but the buildings on the land, and the items inside (flooring, stoves, etc.) do. Rental properties can usually be depreciated over the course of 27.5 years; each year, you can deduct about 1/27th of the building’s value from your taxes.


Activities required for the maintenance and upkeep of your rental property can also be deducted. This includes travel expenses, like gas and repairs to your vehicle, when you are conducting activities typical to your duties as a landlord (repairing your property, handling tenant complaints, etc.). These expenses cannot, however, be deducted for travel made to improve the property, as property improvements fall in the realm of capital assets. You can also deduct the expenses for professional services essential to the upkeep of your rental property; the services of plumbers, landscapers and HVAC technicians can all be deducted, so long as they are not doing work to improve the property.


You can also deduct expenses for financial and professional services you might receive. You’ll be able to deduct the insurance you have to purchase for your property; if you have employees, their health and worker’s compensation insurance premiums may also be deductible. Accountants, lawyers, and yes, even property managers are considered professionals in the world of landlording, so you can deduct costs from hiring these folks from your taxes. It’s to your advantage to use these service providers to maximize the value of your investment.



The Advantages and Disadvantages of Month-to-Month Leases

The month-to-month lease is an interesting prospect for many landlords. While not nearly as common as a year-to-year lease, it does come with a certain set of advantages; there are also reasons why it’s less popular than other options. When considering a month-to-month lease, it’s important to remember what types of tenants you’re trying to attract and the nature of your business.


Month-to-month leases can be terminated or changed by either party after giving notice; the amount of notice needed is usually 30 days. This presents both an advantage and a disadvantage. If you are having a hard time finding low-risk tenants, a month-to-month lease can allow you to evict a tenant without nearly as much paperwork; you simply need to terminate the contract if the tenancy is no longer viable. Conversely, because your tenant can leave any given month, the income source is less reliable than a fixed-term lease, and any months spent looking for tenants are months without income.


This is why the type of tenant you’re looking to attract plays an important role in determining how you want your place to be leased. Some relatively attractive potential tenants, like military families or individuals waiting for a home to be built might need a month-to-month lease, and refusing to provide one could make you miss out on a good segment of the market. There’s no rule saying you can’t provide month-to-month leases sometimes, and fixed-term leases other times; you might even increase the rent for month-to-month slightly in order to compensate for the transient nature of those tenants. Should you be looking to avoid transient tenants, month-to-month leases probably aren’t for you.


Month-to-month leases can also be attractive in areas where your costs fluctuate rapidly; if you can adjust the rent each month, you’ll be able to cover for unexpected costs with an increase. Be wary of using this ability too much, however; if the cost of rent isn’t consistent, most tenants will shy away, as it makes budgeting quite difficult. Month-to-month may also allow you to reward good tenants with lower rent, and recoup the costs of bad tenants with higher rent.


It’s important to keep in mind that month-to-month and yearly are not the only two types of rental agreement. You can offer 3, 6 or 9 month leases as well; these can be particularly useful for attracting students or travelling business folk who know they’ll only need the place for a few months. It gives you a safety net of consistency while accommodating the desires of your potential tenants.


Choosing the right property managers can help you determine what your lease periods should be; because a good property manager will have dealt with a plethora of properties and groups of tenants, they’ll have hard data on which rental agreements work best for your part of town and for each demographic. They’re also experts at finding viable tenants, so you won’t have to worry about signing month-to-months just to avoid the hassle of evicting a bad tenant.



Cost-Effective Renovations for Your Property

Renovating your property is an important step for successful property owners. Renovations do a couple of things that are extraordinarily important: they make the property more attractive to potential tenants, and they increase the property’s value when it comes time to sell. This means you can get better clients, charge more for rent, and make more money off of the property when you’re done with it. This is all incredibly appealing, but it’s worth remembering that renovating costs money, so you want to pick the options that will cost you the least while providing the most value.


Outdoor renovations are important; the exterior of your property and its grounds are going to be the first thing prospective tenants or buyers will see. First, invest in the upkeep of your grounds; weed regularly, and keep the lawn and any other plant life looking healthy and fresh. This comes at very little cost, and makes your home much more appealing. The National Post reports that good landscaping, including patios, trees and pathing, can create a return on investment of 7% when selling. Similarly, exterior painting is absolutely key to attracting tenants to your property; a building with a cracked facade is going to look unappealing, no matter the neighborhood. Slap a fresh coat of paint on the exterior, make sure the front door pops, and you can be looking at an ROI upwards of 500% (depending on how bad the place looked prior to the paint). The nicer the place, the nicer the tenants.


When it comes to the interior, updating your floors can get you an ROI of close to 100% . Most folks are leery about carpet nowadays, and good tenants are often looking for solid hardwood, well worth the investment due to its durability. For a lower cost option, updating old fixtures and hardware on cabinets is an easy way of generating value; most fixture updates can be done without technical help, saving on installation costs. Like your exterior, a fresh coat of paint can do wonderful things to increase the quality of your potential tenants and add value to your home.


For a less flashy, but absolutely worthwhile investment, consider updating the insulation in your home to something like fiberglass. Here, the money gained isn’t through making the place more attractive to tenants; rather, you’ll save on the costs of heating and cooling. If these things are included in the rent, it makes a lot of sense to insulate and revel in the savings.


For commercial properties, there are a plethora of renovations residential owners might not consider; it truly depends on the nature of the businesses renting your space. Great commercial property management companies will be able to assess your tenancy and space in order to recommend cost effective renovations you can conduct; because property managers have a vested interest in your success, and the data to show how similar renovations have paid off, you can trust them to suggest the best.



CPM®: The Gold Standard For Property Management

When you’re investing, you want the best people to manage your portfolio; you may not be an expert in the areas you’re investing in, but you want your wealth to grow, and the best people to have your back. You want to be able to trust the people who are taking care of your hard earned money; their experience, their honesty, their intelligence and integrity. You don’t want to miss great opportunities for growth, and you don’t want them holding back when there’s issues they believe need to be addressed. For most, the properties we hold are our biggest investments; the gold standard for property management is the Certified Property Manager(CPM®) Certification.


When your property manager is CPM® certified, you can trust that they have the expertise you need for great property management. Those with the certification must pass rigorous testing and meet stringent qualifications to bear it. First, they need years of experience in the industry; these years can’t be fruitless, either. In order to have a qualifying portfolio, managers must already be managing hundreds of units, often at multiple different sites. There’s qualifiers for what exactly consists of management, too; they can’t just be collecting rent and calling it a day. There are 36 different activities the Institute of Real Estate Management considers property management, and those applying to start on the track to get their CPM® must be fulfilling at least 19 of these activities at their properties.


Once the grueling portfolio requirements have been met, the property manager can begin studying to get the certification. There are 7 core courses that most of those with the designation must pass; they include budgeting, team management and asset analysis, so CPM® property managers have the breadth of knowledge and experience required to make an asset worth it’s weight in gold. Once these courses are accomplished, the would-be CPM® manager must also prove their property management skills on a management plan examination. Once the property management skills assessment is complete, the candidate may take the CPM® Certification Exam.


The path to certification isn’t over yet, though. This is a business where ethics and scruples are essential, so an ethics course is mandatory, as are references from professionals the manager has worked with. The candidate must also be an active member of well established real estate stakeholder groups in order to have their candidacy considered.


The end result for the property owner is a well-established, knowledgeable and trustworthy property manager with a proven track record of successful management skills. This wealth of experience can grow the value of your property dramatically; considering how complex real estate markets are, it’s important to hire the best. CPM® certified managers do much more than just collect the rent; they provide you with a plan for increasing the value of your investment. Your success is their success, as management teams are generally paid in percentages; reputable property management companies are bound to have CPM® certified managers on staff to make your investment work for you.



How Concierge Services Can Save You From Disaster

Owning property is an investment in your future; rarely does another purchase build as much equity and value in a portfolio as a residential building. The investment is tricky but valuable; unlike stocks, you won’t regularly see dividends, but when you sell the property or use it for rental income, you can make back far more than what you put in. The best investments are those that end up being safe; if there’s a threat to the security of your investment, it’s well worth your while to put in the effort to protect it. When you’re away from your home, or you own a second property that you’re often absent from, concierge services are a dependable way to avoid potential disaster.


Concierge services are a professional way to maintain your property while you’re absent. This might involve cleaning out the pool, mowing the lawn, and other yard work; if it’s your primary residence, it may also involve checking the mail, and stocking up on groceries for when you return. The house might be cleaned weekly, including gutters and chimneys, or even winterized if you’re going to be away when the colder months hit. Perhaps most importantly, concierge services can help with security, including coordinating a security plan with you, finding high-quality security and alarm systems and contractors, and regularly passing by and through the home to deter any unwanted activities.


There’s always the temptation to leave this type of work to friends or family; asking them to monitor the house, check the mail, or perhaps live on the premises. The advantage of this route is the potential cost savings, depending on how cheap your relations are willing to go, but there are several drawbacks as well. First, while your relation might be a good person, they are not professionals in the world of property management. Creating a plan of action for what to do if anything goes wrong, helping you find qualified services for yard work, repair, security and maintenance, and acquiring specialized help like pool cleaners is probably outside of their realm of expertise. Your relations also have their own properties, their own lives; if an emergency occurs, and they need to leave the city, or find themselves otherwise too occupied to take care of your property, who will? You’ll have to call other friends, try to arrange something on the fly; schedules might be mixed up, days of supervision might be missed, and the risk of problems occurring on your property skyrockets.


Peace of mind is a hard thing to find, and when it comes to your biggest investment, it’s well worth getting. Well-known property management services, who specialize in making the most out of residential properties, are experts in keeping your space running smoothly. Don’t risk undue hassle and stress while you’re away. Don’t risk the chance of spoiling a good relationship with the tension that comes from a mistake they made when taking care of your property; hire a concierge service, and rest easy!