Monday, March 27, 2017

Becoming the Unintentional Landlords

The "Unintentional Landlord" refers most simply to people who are unable to sell, or at least to sell for the price they want and therefore become landlords, often due to necessity.

Although we have intended to become landlords, we are also unintentional landlords in that we never planned on renting out the house that is now our rental property.

We bought our first house in 2014. It is a ranch style house, built in 1975, complete with 3 bedrooms, 2 larger bathrooms, and a 2 car garage. It was well maintained and solid, but needed some upgrades. I haven't done all the math but I would estimate we have probably put $13,000 into the house in repairs and upgrades.

We recently had to replace a 2012 AC unit due to vandalism related to renting out the house, which was $2,100, and that is in addition to other damages!

We made many upgrades while living at the house, and had started replacing the flooring when we found out we needed to relocate for my husband's job. We were initially going to sell, but were concerned with the time of year and cost of selling a house that we had just bought 2 years before... 5 year rule and all the investments. A neighbor mentioned a contractor couple she knew looking to rent, one who wanted to move in immediately and would finish the flooring who needed to move due to mold causing health problems for their children, and having a newborn I felt really bad for them and thought it could be a win win!

Tip #1: If you are going to be a landlord you need to be able to keep your emotions OUT of it!
- I felt sorry for this family, especially the children, which is why we agreed to rent out the property! I learned my lesson the hard way, and it cost plenty

Tip #2 Tenant Screening
At a minimum you should be doing credit checks and looking for eviction reports. My current tenants submitted for both!
Depending on the cause of poor credit to me depends on whether it is workable or not. I had a call from someone who had bad credit due to medical bills, that could happen to anyone and doesn't indicate an unwillingness to work/pay bills... just the high cost of healthcare in our country!
I also ask for past addresses/landlord information now and I did call!

Tip #3 If a tenant is willing to break their current lease early they will break yours too!
This isn't a absolute, but it shows a disregard so unless they have come to an agreement with the current landlord to end the lease early, say paying fees etc. I would keep looking.

Tip #4 Always plan on paying the mortgage
The bank doesn't care that your property isn't rented, the tenant isn't paying, etc. You signed the mortgage papers and you are responsible irrespective!

Tip #5 No Pay No Stay
If a tenant doesn't pay rent move to evict them within 2 weeks! The eviction process is long enough and courts can grant them extra time (after all what do the courts care, they aren't paying anymore than the deadbeat tenant!)... Sometimes it might even be worth it to pay the tenant to leave as they can monopolize your property without paying for months, and if they are broke then they are judgement proof!

Tip #6 Have a strong lease
What do I mean by this? You need to include provisions such as those stating tenant must notify you immediately of problems of they are liable if the problem causes additional damage due to their negligence in notifying you! They can't flush anything but toilet paper. They can't make any changes without WRITTEN permission, they can't get an animal without WRITTEN permission, what they are responsible for, what is expected. You really need to outline EVERYTHING.

Tip #7 All Contact should be done THROUGH email, except in the case of an emergency
I am about to give an addendum notifying my tenants of this. This is for my sanity more than anything else. I get a call from them and I'm already stressed before answering wondering what is wrong and how much it will cost THIS time... not to mention phone calls force you to respond right away. My apartment lease stipulates all repair requests will be made online unless it is an emergency, now my residential will too!

Email also provides a written record!

Tip #8 Find a good contractor
Our contractor has saved my sanity more than once. He dealt with the aftermath of the first tenants, the vandalism, and taking care of the new tenant's repair needs. He is my go to guy and my eyes and ears while he is there and his prices are reasonable. He is also a landlord so he looks out for me!

Tip #9 Security Deposit
Tenants can always do more damage than their security deposit, but at a minimum security deposit should equal one months rent!

Tip #10 Know your State's Landlord Laws
I researched these when I became a landlord. I wouldn't say I'm a pro as laws do change, and can be interpreted differently or ignored by local police/courts, but I at least did due diligence to try to prepare myself.
         -If there is ambiguity in a lease it favors the person who did not write it aka the tenant
         -If you wrongfully withhold a security deposit, which can mean you failed to tell them why                 within your states time-frame, than you can actually owe double or triple in some states!

I would absolutely encourage anyone considering renting out a property to really sit down and think about it, do some math and see if it is really worth it. How much are you losing selling now? How much will you lose by having to pay the mortgage for X amount of months, or if you have a heavy repair/maintenance bill?

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Looking at flooring options


So we are buying a house, and if you know me at all by now that means some remodeling and probably DIY! We are due to close in about a month and want to get some work done prior to moving in; painting and replacing floors is much easier to do in an empty house!

We replaced all the flooring in our other house, which is currently rented out. We replaced some older carpet with a really pretty laminate floor. The laminate floor is the TrafficMaster Lakeshore Pecan from Home Depot and is only .79/sq ft which is pretty much an unbeatable price. It is a fairly easy installation and 100% DIY-able meaning you can save a lot of money by not having to pay for skilled labor, whereas other flooring options like carpet or vinyl sheeting I wouldn't attempt to DIY.

I really like the look of the laminate flooring we did at the other house, but it hurt my feet! I looked it up to see if other people have this problem and apparently some do and some don't, but a foot doctor was saying hard floors aren't good for our feet... but the soft floor aka carpet isn't good for our respiratory system so what's a girl to do!?

I really want wood look floors in the living room and hallway. My husband wants carpet in the bedrooms. I want to do a walk in tile shower in the master bath where the flooring needs replaced anyway... so we are looking for some new floors!

Did you know that every flooring option out there right now except carpet comes in wood look? I'm trying to narrow down the type of flooring material I want to use now, there is: laminate, hardwood, engineered hardwood, bamboo, cork, vinyl, luxury vinyl, and tile!

We have pets and one baby, and we are working on number two, so I'm looking for something that is going to be scratch and drool resistant, as well as being comfortable for the dogs and us.

I ruled out tile a LONG time ago.

We currently have vinyl in our rented apartment and dropping a can caused a permanent dent and somehow it also got a gash in it, which makes me wonder about the durability... but the flooring store swears by it (and they sell hardwood, laminate, and engineered hardwood as well).

Hardwood would probably be one of the most expensive options, the hardwoods I have seen that I like usually are around $6/sq ft and I would probably have to pay for install or lose a lot of money due to the "learning curve".

I have seen several Laminates that I really like the look of and are a good price, but I'm really worried about comfort if we go with this option! I really don't want flooring that causes me to be in pain!

Engineered Hardwood is more eco-friendly than hardwood, and is supposed to be better with moisture... but is similar in price and often can't be refinished or at least not as much.

Bamboo is a very eco-friendly option. The pricing is pretty reasonable, but the only bamboo flooring I have seen, liked, and was in our budget scratches easily making it a horrible choice for my household!

I honestly just don't like the look of cork, and I can't see it as being super durable and one reviewer said as much!

I'm not sure what the difference is between vinyl and luxury vinyl to be honest. There are different qualities to vinyl however and I'm worried about getting a more durable/higher quality vinyl and price does not always equate quality!

I'm still slightly undecided. I'll probably wind up with a laminate or vinyl though. I prefer laminate for looks and think it will be better for resale but I like vinyl for comfort. Durability of either depends on how well made they are!

What are your thoughts? Is it just me or does vinyl in the living room seem odd, even if it is vinyl planks!? Can you tell what type of flooring it is in these pictures?

If you have guessed it should be vinyl, laminate, vinyl. The last one surprised me a bit!

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

We're buying a house (again)!


I haven't really been blogging as much lately, so in case I missed it:

Last year we found out that my husband had to move for his job, we rented out our home and I stayed with my mother for a couple of months while we house hunted down here. We bid on a few houses and had to back out due to bad inspections and not really finding a house we wanted in our budget that we thought would be a good investment and safe for our daughter (mold). -I emboldened the highlights for the lazy readers out there!

Since August we have been living in an apartment here, its safe and its okay... but they don't maintain it well, its apartment living with a baby and two dogs, and other tenants don't clean up or leash their dogs (half the time). I have got two scars from a dog since living here, had to return a dog to its owner 2-3 times, and my dog has been in a fight 2 times with a loose dog! When my husband has tdy and is gone for work I have to walk our two dogs and our baby, and with all these lovely people who aren't responsible with their dogs it can be SUPER stressful! It is also 900 sq ft, which is small when you are used to, and have stuff that fits in, a 1500 sq foot house with a 2 car garage. It also feels cramped with a toddler and two dogs running around!

About to be OUR NEW HOUSE:
$69,300 Purchase Price- we were approved for $140k and wanted to stay under 120k
HUD Foreclosure
Sight Unseen- inside in person, I drove by and peeked in windows and saw pictures and a walkthrough video online but being such a good deal and having looked for so long we didn't wanna wait to put in an offer.
Good Investment- Neighborhood comps are much higher so we can put money in and get it back, and we have wiggle room to make any unforeseen repairs, or just unseen ones!
Newer AC Unit- It is a 2013 model so it was just a few years ago!
3 bedrooms/ 2 baths
1600 sq ft roughly according to the listing (it looks a little smaller though, honestly)
2 car garage
Brick House
In a culdasac/safe area
Good School District

We are buying this property with the intention of turning it into a rental property. With our first home we became unintentional landlords, but we always intended on eventually becoming landlords... just not with that house! Although we are buying this property to turn into an eventual rental it will be our residence for at least a few years prior, so I'm going to make this house our home!

The Plan:
Open the wall between the living room and dining room
Replace Flooring in the majority of the house
Paint the whole house
New Toilet(s) (one is broken, if the other looks yucky I'll replace it)
Epoxy Shower/Tub Combo if needed (I hate dingy looking ones!)
Install Walk in Shower in Master
Remove some Upper Cabinets
Refurbish Cabinets
Install Privacy Fence
Replace Front Door
Replace Locks
New Lights (2 need replaced)

I also have some question mark items on my list as I haven't gone in yet. I will be going inside soon however to see if there is anything that needs added to the list as well as to measure and start coming up with ideas/budgeting. We want to get as much done as possible prior to move in!

Originally we were planning on hiring much of this out as diy-ing with a toddler isn't super easy, but our budget just took a huge hit thanks to some jerk who vandalized our 2012 AC unit at our first house... so now we have to pay to replace it, as repairing it will be at least $1300 and that won't guarantee it is fixed that will just let them know if another expensive part needs fixed hence they recommend replacing! Not super news but that is what we are stuck with so we are just trying to take it in stride and be thankful that everyone has been so helpful and that we are able financially to afford to replace it because some people would really struggle our where we live it isn't very optional, it gets really hot and our tenants need AC in summer!

Finances are my domain. My husband brings home the bacon and I conserve it. Many people are broke, and not just because of the unlivable minimum (and often times above minimum) wage! People don't budget, they don't wait, they want something and they want it now. I want things to, but above all I want security. I want to know that we can pay all of our bills, that my daughter won't ever have to go hungry, go without utilities, reliable/safe transportation, or a home!

We live below our means and because of that (and the fact our house is rented, and this house is relatively cheap) it might be possible for us to pay off this new house we are buying in under 5 years! We are not rich by any means, we have a middle class income! "It's not about how much you make, it is how much you keep". We keep our costs down! I'll do another blog post later about our budget, but I am super excited and I wanted to share with ya'll.

Look forward to some DIY posts and before and after pictures!

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Walgreens Wednesday


I'm back! I started a WordPress account and honestly was not a fan, I didn't even get ONE view... I know it takes a while to build up a following but if no one is even seeing the blog then it isn't going to get a following, not sure why other bloggers recommend/hype on it!

Anyway the reason for the hiatus was just that I haven't had a lot of baby free time to blog, but I am back and hopefully I will be able to do at LEAST one new entry a week. I'm also considering vlogging, in addition to blog. I know that is kind of the thing now, although I still love blogs because I'm a fast reader and it is just way more efficient for me time wise to read a blog than watch a 11 minute vlog on the same thing... anyway share your thoughts on that in the comments.

So, Walgreens Wednesday!

When I was newly adulting Walgreens was one of my favorite places to shop. They always have clearance there and sometimes it is a great price, they also have walgreens rewards, ecoupons, and walgreens register rewards!

Walgreens ads come out every wednesday and are always worth a quick sneak peak because sometimes they have items that are free with a ecoupon or very cheap!

Here is my last Walgreens Haul, from the week after Valentine's Day:
There is also another Dr. Pepper that is not pictured. My total for everything was right around $8 with tax for everything
Dr. Pepper 2/$3
SoftSoap .99 after ecoupon
Colgate Optic White FREE after ecoupon
Russel Stover $2.50 (Half off)
Colgate Floss Tip $3.49, .49 after the $3 in RR

I have debated signing my husband up for a Walgreens card to double my/our savings. I also have $3 in balance rewards at the moment which is free money!

If you buy the sunday paper and clip coupons you can find many good deals there just by popping in regularly. I saw some mens body wash reduced from $4.57 to $1.80, and while bar soap is cheaper that is a good price for this brand/type! They also do clearance on food items, I recently got some Lean Cuisine type meals that usually cost $3.79 each for .99 each for my mom and was able to use $3 in balance rewards getting some of them free!

Shop Walgreens Ya'll!