Re: Management services to boost revenues and reduce expenses

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1 To: Prospective Rental Property Owners From: Mark Kreditor, MPM Re: Management services to boost revenues and reduce expenses Over the years, Get There First has realized that owners of rental properties are not always aware of their rights under lease agreements. Residents pay late, don t give proper notice, move and money is owed. In addition, residents are often not willing to extend their leases when repairs are not done on a timely and efficient basis. We strive to solve these re-occurring problems and save you re-letting and repair dollars while enforcing the performance measures set forth in the lease. The leasing side of Get There First Realty works very hard to market your property and get quality residents for the longest possible lease terms. The management side of our business is designed to service these residents by responding to their maintenance needs quickly and collecting additional revenues owed to an owner under the provisions of the lease agreement. In addition, we will assume existing performing leases for our managed owners at no charge. All we need is the lease, deposit and keys. GTF may be able to better service your lease and save you time and money by managing your rental property. Through our maintenance sub-contractors, we offer your residents emergency response to maintenance emergencies. We work to earn their timely rental payment. If rent is not paid by the due date in the lease, late charges are due, collected and shared with our owners. Checks are processed and electronically deposit to owners accounts the same day we receive rent in our office. We work every weekend and stay late the first days of each month. Our fees are 10% of the collected moneys monthly. In addition the independent sub-contractors we use offer our managed owners deep discounts on all service, repairs and maintenance. This savings alone often pays management fees for an entire year. All discounts and savings offered to our managed properties are passed to you. DETAILED ACCOUNTING PROVIDED-HUGE CONTRACTOR SAVINGS LATE CHARGES COLLECTED ARE SHARED WITH OUR OWNERS WE HAVE TENANT BACKGROUND VERIFICATION SERVICES FOR OUR OWNERS Should you have any questions about these services, please call Mark ext. 3. We hope you'll see all the cost saving benefits of having GTF manage your rental property. Since 1981 we have been one call and one solution for thousands of rental property investors throughout the Greater Dallas/Fort Worth areas. Get There First Realty Services Management * Leasing * Collections 9840 N. Central Expwy. Suite 300 Dallas, Texas (214) Fax (214) *

2 Leasing: Evaluating the rentability of your rental property (market analysis) Establishing rents, security deposits, and applicable fees (with owner's approval) Advertising the property for rent and putting your listing in MLS and other market mediums Thoroughly screening the prospective Resident (rental/credit history/criminal checks) Preparing, explaining (thoroughly) and signing the most comprehensive lease in our industry today. Management: Collecting rents and other fees (including late charges) Arranging for maintenance and necessary repairs (usually same day service) Maintaining records of income and expenses Placing security deposits in an insured escrow account Disbursing income to owner (usually by the 3 rd through an ACH deposit with ed statements) Servicing as the owner's agent in dealing with tenant disputes and service providers Conducting move-out inspections, photographing and providing cleaning guidelines Renewing current leases at agreed upon rent (nominal renewal charge) Issuance of 1099 tax form and expense breakdown promptly at year end Free subscription to GTF's informative quarterly newsletter for our owners Fees: Leasing: 100% of the first month's rent (NO CHARGE IF PROPERTY IS OCCUPIED) Management-10% of collected rents The first month of management is free if GTF procures lease. Get There First Realty Services Management * Leasing * Collections 9840 N. Central Expwy. Suite 300 Dallas, Texas (214) Fax (214) *

3 WHY HIRE GET THERE FIRST TO MANAGE YOUR RENTALS? Reduced Costs + Increased Revenue = A service that really makes you money! 1) Our owners receive late charge revenue if rent is not received before the due date. Your check must be in the mail to you by the due date or you get more money. 2) We adhere, monitor, and insure that your rental is in compliance with all known Property and safety codes in order to reduce your risk as owner of a Texas rental unit. 3) Your renter is our customer and we do everything we can to satisfy them with the very best repair response when a repair that is covered in their lease occurs. A follow up call is made from our customer service department to be sure the work is satisfactory before any invoices are paid. communication is also widely used to communicate to owners. 4) In an effort to negotiate the very best prices for repairs we pay all our bills upon job completion. This payment plan gets owners the lowest possible prices on all repairs. The expense is then generally deducted from the next month s rent check. 5) GTF has relationships with a crew of independent, non-technical maintenance personnel to assist in lowering minimum trip charges when completing minor repairs such as lock changes, carpentry and painting. These service providers are all long-standing independent sub-contractors of GTF. 6) Most sub-contractors assigned work at your rental property generally carries a minimum $1,000,000 liability insurance policy. After the bill is paid, detailed work orders of accounting are mailed to you with no additional mark ups ever taken. 7) Renewal proposals are sometimes presented to your resident in advance of their lease expiration to negotiate the very best renewal rates. GTF earns your resident s renewals at market rates most of the time. Nothing costs you more than a vacancy and we work hard to reduce the likelihood of having one. We discuss everything first with you. 8) GTF pays all advertising and marketing related costs in order to effectively market your rental property. We also require notices to vacate from any current resident to be only on the first so we have the maximum opportunity to show the rental property from the first. 9) Upon entering your rental by most vendors or employees a no-cost full safety check is often performed including the smoke alarm, door and window locks, washer hose inspection, and air conditioning filter. Corrections are made if necessary and it takes just a few minutes. 10) Photo documentation using digital photography is done on any move out to insure a fair and equitable deposit itemization on your rental property. 11) GTF publishes owner and resident newsletters to better inform our clients and customers of the best ways to maintain the rental property. 12) Accounting at year-end is completed in the first weeks of January allowing you accurate and timely preparation of year-end tax preparation. Get There First Realty Services Management * Leasing * Collections 9840 N. Central Expwy. Suite 300 Dallas, Texas (214) Fax (214) *

4 DID YOU KNOW? We will usually have electronically funded your check proceeds within a few hours after receiving them. Any payment not made to you by the due date will include late fees. There are no up front fees or escrows required from our owners. All payments will come with an ed statement detailing work. Our 24 hour rental hotline can handle 8 callers at a time. Broadcast fax and s to Leasing Agents as well as our web page makes your property available 24 hours/day to anyone around the world. Our virtual tour videos take a prospect through the home room by room. We show vacancies in the evenings and weekends. Our rental qualifications are the toughest around and we re on line with the credit bureau and criminal reporting agencies. We provide the best competitive prices on repairs from independent contractors that are insured. Call ext 3 to get your property professionally managed. GET THERE FIRST REALTY ONE CALL * ONE SOLUTION Get There First Realty Services Management * Leasing * Collections 9840 N. Central Expwy. Suite 300 Dallas, Texas (214) Fax (214) *

5 WHAT DOES GTF DO WHEN AN OWNER HAS A VACANCY? 1) WE WALK THE VACANCY TO DETERMINE THE FEATURES AND CONDITIONS. IF OCCUPIED, THIS BEGINS AT LEAST 30 DAYS PRIOR TO MOVE OUT. WE ALERT YOU OF ANY CONCERNS. 2) WE INSPECT THE PROPERTY WHILE VACANT ON A REGULAR BASIS FOR WRITTEN CONDITION UPDATES THAT WE WILL SHARE WITH THE OWNER AT NO CHARGE. THEY ARE MAILED DIRECTLY. 3) WE ADVERTISE ADS ABOUT OUR PROPERTIES EVERY WEEK IN A VARIETY OF PUBLICATIONS AT OUR EXPENSE. AN AD IS ALSO DESIGNED AND PLACED IN CRAIGSLIST.COM. SOCIAL NETWORKING SITES LIKE FACEBOOK ARE ALSO USED. 4) WE TAKE DIGITAL PICTURES TO TAKE PROSPECTS THROUGH YOUR HOME ROOM BY ROOM AND POST IT TO OUR FABULOUS WEB PAGE AT 5) COLOR LASER FLIERS ARE DESIGNED, PRINTED, AND PLACED IN A TUBE ATTACHED TO THE SIGN IN FRONT OF THE PROPERTY. A STAFF MEMBER WILL CHECK THE SUPPLY OF FLIERS ON A REGULAR BASIS. WE DELIVER FLIERS TO NEIGHBORHOOD AREA BUSINESSES. 6) OVER 6500 LOCAL REALTORS WILL BE NOTIFIED OF YOUR LISTING THROUGH OUR MEMBERSHIP IN THE MULTIPLE LISTING SERVICE. NON REALTOR LEASING AGENTS WILL BE NOTIFIED THROUGH A FAX BROADCASTING SYSTEM. GTF FAXES EVERY SHOWING AGENT A COMMENT SHEET AND THEN FOLLOWS UP WITH A PHONE CALL USUALLY WITHIN 24 HOURS FOR FEEDBACK. WE 15,000 REALTORS EACH WEEK. 7) YOUR LISTING WILL BE POSTED ON OUR WEB SITE WHICH IS LINKED TO MANY INTERNET SEARCH ENGINES. WE GENERATE ABOUT 2200 HITS/WEEK THROUGH OUR SITE. IT IS REGARDED AS ONE OF THE BEST IN THE INDUSTRY (WWW.DFWLANDLORD.COM). GTF PAYS GOOGLE, YAHOO AND OTHER SEARCH ENGINES FOR PREMIUM PLACEMENT TO YOUR VACANCY. NOTHING COSTS MORE THAN A VACANCY TIME EMPTY IS MONEY LOST Get There First Realty Services Management * Leasing * Collections 9840 N. Central Expwy. Suite 300 Dallas, Texas (214) Fax (214) *

6 Mark H. Kreditor, MPM Broker and President Get There First Realty, Inc. Mark Kreditor moved to Dallas in 1981 after completing a 5-year Marketing program at Northeastern University in Boston where he graduated with high honors. In 2002 he received a Graduate Marketing Certification degree from Southern Methodist University. Upon graduation from Northeastern he started GTF, Inc. and throughout the early 80's his company developed direct marketing programs to sell real estate. GTF was responsible for close to 5 million pieces of real estate related mail annually, in an effort to market condominiums and town homes in the Greater Dallas area. This proved to be very effective and led GTF to venture into leasing and property management in the mid 80's after these communities were eventually sold. Since that time their business core has grown to service individual owners, developers and financial institutions holding residential properties. Mark is past chairman of the Property Mgmt/Leasing committee of The Dallas Association of Realtors and is former liaison to the Texas Association of Realtors Leasing and Property Management Committee.. Mark is a frequent guest lecturer speaking on property management and landlord rights to many organizations. He has taught real estate investment strategy at Southern Methodist University s (SMU) continuing education program and has presented his real estate workshops to investor groups and property managers nationwide. He has traveled extensively on behalf of the National Association of Residential Property Manager's (NARPM). He has been a guest speaker at every annual convention since He is certified as a national instructor for NARPM in Marketing and Office Operations and in 2002 was awarded the nation s highest honor; NARPM s President s Award. He holds an MPM (Master Property Manager) designation from NARPM, which is held by fewer than 150 managers nationally. He served on NARPM s national board of directors from 1993 until 1999 and was their National President in traveling throughout the country speaking to thousands of property managers about the industry. He also served as the National Chair of Ethics and Professional Standards for 6 years. Mark is also on the Texas Association of Realtors forms committee, which designs legal property management contracts for Texas Realtors. He is widely regarded as one of the state s leading architects of property management contract design for the Texas Association of Realtors. The Texas Real Estate Commission has certified him as a state instructor for continuing education classes. In 2009 Mark traveled to Sydney, Australia to speak to property managers as an invited keynote speaker by the country s premiere management organization. In 1997 Get There First Realty became the first property management firm in North Texas to be awarded a Certified Residential Management Company (CRMC) designation from NARPM. There are fewer than 100 CRMC firms operating in the country. Mark s aggressive approach to property marketing and management has made him a leader in the management field. He has taught property management on a regular basis for Ebby Halliday Realtors and Coldwell Banker. GTF manages over 1600 rental properties in all of Dallas and Ft. Worth and the surrounding areas. Mark maintains memberships in The National and Texas Association of Realtors, The Texas Apartment Association and The National Association of Residential Property Managers. He enjoys jogging and has completed 13 Marathons. He has played piano professionally for over 25 years and has taught 20th century music at adult education programs throughout the country. Mark is married to his wife Carol, a former executive at Trammell Co. and resides in Preston Hollow. Get There First Realty Services Management * Leasing * Collections 9840 N. Central Expwy. Suite 300 Dallas, Texas (214) Fax (214) *

7 Industry Involvement of Mark H. Kreditor, MPM Past President of The National Association of Residential Property Managers Six years as Chair of NARPM s National Ethics and Professional Standards Committee Mark has spoken at almost every National Convention for NARPM since 1992 Author of many popular national property management courses used for certification purposes Property management speaker at many state Realtor conferences Guest lecturer to the Sydney, Australia property management association Master Property Manager Certificate holder since 1994 Former liaison to Texas Association of Realtors Leasing and Property Management Committee Mark has served as a leading author of Realtor property management forms in Texas for over 15 years Proud member of the Texas Apartment Association Popular songwriter of dozens of tenant/landlord parody songs Certified instructor with the Texas Real Estate Commission Author of a 30 hour Realtor property management certification series class taught in North Texs Past instructor at Ebby Halliday Realtors and NRT, Inc. dba Coldwell Banker Realtors First Texas broker to receive the Certified Residential Management Company designation Honor graduate of Northeastern University and SMU s graduate marketing certification Ari Lund, RMP, Broker Assistant Residential Management Professional since 2010 Past President of the Greater Dallas chapter of NARPM Biology graduate of The University of Texas National Communications Committee Member for NARPM National Member Services Committee Member for NARPM National Government Affairs Committee Member for NARPM Candidate for NARPM s Master Property Manager Designation Get There First Realty Services Management * Leasing * Collections 9840 N. Central Expwy. Suite 300 Dallas, Texas (214) Fax (214) *

8 MANAGEMENT & MARKETING TOOLS We are always looking for ways to improve our business so we can provide you with the best service and manage your properties efficiently and effectively. We have invested in a new property management software called Propertyware and wanted to share just a few of the benefits that we will be able to pass on to you: We can respond faster and provide better service to both owners and residents. Propertyware is web based access information about all properties at any time and from anywhere. Owner statements can be delivered to your inbox, saving time and paper too. The statements are very simple and provide you with a quick snapshot of your property details for the past month. We address property maintenance issues faster. We use Propertyware for electronic work orders and communication with vendors so we quickly solve issues. All invoices can be viewed at anytime via the owner portal login. You will be paid faster and more securely. We are able to use the ACH functionality to deposit funds directly into your bank account. We can more effectively market your properties and fill vacancies sooner. Propertyware allows us to quickly advertise vacancies online, posting to our website, and the Internet sites. Get There First Realty Services Management * Leasing * Collections 9840 N. Central Expwy. Suite 300 Dallas, Texas (214) Fax (214) *

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10 SUBSCRIBER CONTENT: Mar 29, 2013, 5:00am CDT Big-Time Buyer Single-family rentals aren t for the faint of heart Candace Carlisle Staff Writer- Dallas Business Journal Though strong demand and rising rates are enticing institutional investors into the single-family housing market in North Texas, those familiar with the market say it is not without hazard. Perhaps no one knows this better than Al Cercone, the presiding judge of one of Dallas County s eviction courts and himself landlord of six single-family rental properties. Dallas has been a moving and shaking town, and things happen fast here, especially development, Cercone said. That can leave a huge percentage of vacancies, and property managers can be in a hurry to rent and not check references. Nonpayment of rent is the No. 1 cause leading to eviction court, he said, adding that he has continued to see a flood of cases. It s been more than 30 years since Mark Kreditor founded his Dallas-based property management firm Get There First Realty, but he still makes the same promise to single-family home investors: We ll help you lose less money on your investment. About 20 percent of single-family residents in North Texas don t pay their rent for various reasons, said Kreditor, whose firm manages more than 1,500 rental properties in Dallas, Collin and Tarrant counties. There s no place in the world worse than Dallas, Kreditor said. This is a highly-leveraged city that likes nice things. You can t garnish salaries, and property owners have few rights to go after someone. Unlike New York or California, which have stricter laws and an under-supply of housing options, Dallas is overbuilt, Kreditor said. As a result, property owners are sometimes tempted to rent to less-than-credit-worthy tenants. Agent Ari Lund and Founder Mark Kreditor, right, of Get There First Realty outside one of the rental properties they manage on Herschel Street in Dallas. On top of that, single-family homes cost twice as much to maintain as apartment properties, Kreditor said. Instead of one on-site maintenance person at an apartment complex, a property management company must visit 265 different single-family residences for a similar return on investment. Single-family homes are much more complicated, he said. There s a relationship with the neighborhood and rules that need to be followed beyond the apartment community. Still, investors see opportunity. The majority of the houses American Homes 4 Rent purchased in Dallas County were priced between $40,000 to $140,000, what Jim Gaines, a research economist at The Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University, calls the prime rental price bracket. This is appealing to a workforce that has low and moderate income, where there s a high demand for rental homes, Gaines said. There s less demand for more expensive properties, and the cost to carry those homes will be more. Overall, the average rental income in Dallas-Fort Worth has increased 8.5 percent in the past three years. The average rental rate is $853 per rental unit, according to Carrollton-based MPF Research, which surpasses some monthly home mortgage payments. Even though rental rates are rising, the tighter lending regulations could leave some residents with little choice and give investors an opportunity to capitalize, said Wally Charnoff, founder and CEO of Colorado-based RentRange LLC, which collects rental home data. It s been truly growing, shifting from the smaller players to institutional investors, Charnoff said, adding that some investors could be targeting properties in distressed neighborhoods, hoping to rent to former homeowners.

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12 Get There First Realty Category: Property Management Neighborhood: North Dallas 3/6/2014 Ari Lund and the staff at Get There first are first class. As a landlord you want to ensure that you have a great tenant. There are two ways to accomplish this. Either try it yourself and hope you get lucky. Or trust a proven property management company and let them handle the headaches that come with owning rental property. Ari Lund is the best. I have literally called this poor guy the last 30 days straight daily. He has never forwarded my calls or sent me to voic . Whenever I him or the owner Mark Kreditor they reply very quickly. I cannot say enough good things about these two and the company overall. Very pleased. Mike Pardini Walnut Creek, CA

13 Dennis John Bellini Delia Bellini Townhouse 11 No. 4 Madsen Place Southport. Qld AUSTRALIA Phone: MARK KREDITOR GET THERE FIRST REALTY 4/20/2013 My wife & I are an older Australian Couple who have Rental Housing Property Investments in various USA States. We have used Mark Kreditor of Get There First Realty since purchasing a Condominium Property in Dallas Texas over 10 years ago. Mark Kreditor & all his staff have always provided us with prompt efficient competent service & has surpassed the performance of all our other Property Managers of our other investment Properties in MD/NY etc. USA States. We only wish he could manage all our other Properties in other USA States. Mark has always stated things as they are with genuine Property investment advice that has always been correct. Living in Australia so far from our USA investments in a different time zone we have to rely heavily on our various Property Managers to be available for prompt reply service which Mark Kreditor has always excelled in providing & in fact has always been available to contact either by or phone to discuss our Dallas Condominium Property at any time. Tenant selection & screening has been excellent with the last tenant in occupancy at a satisfactory rental rate for over 8 years. With his Companies up to date Computer Systems they have in place our monthly rental receipt reporting/repair billings, etc. is very efficient. We would recommend Mark Kreditor Get There First Realty to any Dallas,Texas Rental Property owner requiring the best Property Management Company you will find. Should further details be required please feel free to contact us. Dennis John Bellini & Delia Bellini Townhouse 11 No. 4 Madsen Place, Southport. Qld AUSTRALIA

14 March 28, 2013 Get There First Realty, CRMC 9840 N Central Expwy Suite 300 Dallas TX Dear Mr. Mark Kreditor, I truly would like to take this opportunity to Thank you and GTF for the outstanding management performance that you have provided to me and my property. From the beginning of our consultation and the processes to lease my property was a solid winner. You were able to find wonderful tenants and my payments have been processed quickly and always on time. If I have ever had any questions you and your staff have addressed them quickly and always made yourselves available. This has been an outstanding partnership from the start. Your management company came highly recommended and I now understand why. I would say to any property owner or investor wanting to find a solid and excellent management company that GTF Get There First is the only company that offers full service and complete satisfaction. 100% satisfied client and truly the only management company for property owners wanting to lease without the hassles. Sincerely, Laura Harrington

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17 From: Tod Fitzpatrick Date: Thursday, August 2, :59 PM To: ARI LUND Cc: Mark Kreditor Subject: Re: <no subject> Do you guys ever sleep? Seriously, I appreciate the job you do. Prime Properties cost me tens of thousands a year. You guys provide positive cash flow. I don't know how they stay in business when you guys exist. Always use me as a reference. Thanks again, Tod P.S. Prime was 8% and you were 10. I chose them due to price. Most expensive 2% I ever saved. From: Ari Lund To: Tod Fitzpatrick Cc: Mark Kreditor Sent: Thursday, August 2, :53 PM Subject: Re: <no subject> I have updated the records to include your wife as a contact. If you need anything else, let me know. Ari On Aug 2, 2012, at 21:51, "Tod Fitzpatrick" wrote: Kathryn Haefner Thanks, Tod

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20 From: Sent: Friday, March 14, :07 AM To: Mark Kreditor Subject: (no subject) Good morning Mark, I hope you are doing well and 2014 has started off on a good note for you and GTF. I just wanted to let you know that I have been very pleased with GTF's property management services since GTF has taken over the management of my two condominiums last August. I have very much appreciated the very fast turnaround in rental income deposited to my bank account and the excellent service provided by Ann and Dan on repair work. It has been a really great change from what I had dealt with at xxxxx xxxxxx xxxxxx. Best regards, Ron Stramberg

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25 From: Tod Fitzpatrick Sent: Friday, June 05, :51 PM To: Subject: Thank you Mark, In the first 10 days of managing my properties you have rented 2 homes that my prior property management company had on the market for 2 and 3 months respectively. Not only did you fill them, but for $1,200 per year each more than the last company said was the market price. Your employees have been very helpful and responsive. I want you and them to know how pleased I am and look forward to a long lasting relationship with GTF. Best regards, Tod Fitzpatrick

26 . GETTING GOING SEPTEMBER 10, 2011 By KAREN BLUMENTHAL Traditional investments are delivering low returns, and home prices are at bargain levels. Is it time to consider buying some rental housing? Investing in real estate right now can be surprisingly profitable, if everything goes well. Rents are climbing in many areas, and more properties may be coming on the market. Last month, the Obama administration asked for proposals on how to convert at least some of Fannie Mae's and Freddie Mac's bulging inventories of foreclosed homes into affordable rentals. Investors used to aim for rents that were 1% of the purchase price, or $1,000 a month for a $100,000 home an annual gross return of 12% says Michael McCreary. His firm, McCreary Realty, manages about 300 properties in the Atlanta area. Today, he says, some of his investors are getting as much as 2% of the purchase price. In general, though, average returns after expenses are far less, more like 5% to 6% of the property value, says Ingo Winzer, president of Local Market Monitor, a real-estate forecasting firm. But that still is well above what many other investments yield. Illustration by Scott Pollack Before you start scouring for deals, keep in mind that owning rental properties is time-consuming, expensive and fraught with challenges, and many investors lose money. You will want to avoid falling into one of these common traps. Mistake 1: Confusing a cheap deal for a good deal. It is true that you can buy some homes for ridiculously low prices but that doesn't mean you can rent them out. Homes in deserted subdivisions aren't any more appealing to renters than they are to buyers. The same is true for less-attractive properties or those in less-desirable school districts. Investors from the San Francisco area often look at the Sacramento market assuming they can get Bay Area-like rents, and end up overpaying, says Robert A. Machado of HomePointe Property Management. He uses several resources, including the website FinestExpert.com, to estimate rents. Other experts suggest canvassing apartments nearby to see

27 not just their rates, but whether they are offering special deals, like a couple of months of free rent. Guides from SmartMoney Assess Your Insurance Needs Manage Tenant Disputes Tax Issues for Landlords sell it). Only then can you figure out what you can afford to pay. Mistake 3: Forgetting that time is money. Mistake 2: Overlooking key costs. Knowing the potential rent isn't enough. Before you buy a property, you should also factor in closing costs of 3% to 6%, the costs to fix up the place and maintain it, and your holding costs. Then add the profit you expect to make (and more closing costs, if you intend to turn around and In real estate, "time is your biggest enemy," says David Hicks, co-president of HomeVestors of America, a franchiser whose motto is "We Buy Ugly Houses." You lose money when your property is empty, whether you are painting it or between tenants. You also lose if you buy in the fall and can't replace the roof until spring. You may be better off accepting a lower rent than waiting for a higher-paying tenant. Mistake 4: Assuming you will sit back and watch the rent roll in. "When you become a landlord, you become a rent collector," says Mark Kreditor of Get There First Realty, which manages 1,600 rentals in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Just like homeowners who can't pay the mortgage, tenants lose their jobs and stop paying the rent. Evicting them can take several weeks, and some steal appliances or other property. Mr. Kreditor says that once or twice a month, a tenant removes a home's copper tubing on the way out the door to sell the copper for its meltdown value. You will need to screen prospective tenants carefully or pay someone to do it for you. Mistake 5: Underestimating repair costs. As with all homes, you will be making lots of repairs. You may find wood rot or mold when you remove that cracked bathtub. Carpet in rental homes typically must be replaced every five years, and you may have to repaint after every tenant. Tony A. Drost, president of the National Association of Residential Property Managers, or Narpm, suggests setting aside six months of expenses so that you will have funds if a major repair is needed. Mistake 6: Assuming that owning a rental is the same as owning a home. You might put up with flaws in a home that a renter wouldn't tolerate. In addition, many states and communities have strict (and complex) laws for landlords, even if you own only one property. A property manager can handle most of the headaches, but you should expect to pay one up to a month of rent for finding and screening tenants and up to 10% of the monthly rent for management fees. You can find property managers through the websites of trade groups Narpm and the Institute of Real Estate Management. In addition, many communities have local Real Estate Investor Associations, which can provide support. Write to Karen Blumenthal at

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32 OP-ED CONTRIBUTOR Live Large, Think Big, Skip Town By BEN FOUNTAIN Published: October 9, 2010 Dallas THE Welcome Back, President Bush and Laura! yard signs have for the most part disappeared from my North Dallas neighborhood. They were starting to look a bit worse for wear, and anyway the time has come for the new crop of midterm-election signs. The Had Enough? Vote Republican! model is so popular this fall, you d think a kind of amnesia gas is seeping out from our storm-sewer drains. But then a strong sense of the past has never been a signal feature of the Dallas psyche. These days you see about as many For Sale signs as the political kind. Two years after the bubble burst, Dallas residential real estate is stale, as my Realtor friend Peggye Johnson put it. I caught up with her one Sunday afternoon at an open house in Little Forest Hills. Comparing the current bust with the savings-and-loan meltdown of the 1980s, Peggye declared: This is worse. You had 100 percent financing, sometimes even 105 percent. You had lots of people getting loans who had no business borrowing money. And everybody knew there was massive overbuilding going on. That s why, she gently but firmly added, I m a big fan of banking regulation. A few potential buyers wandered through, one sporting an I m Having an Out of Money Experience T-shirt. Peggye asked another prospective client his price range. This, and lower, was the gruff reply. Prices in Dallas haven t suffered a Vegas-style plunge maybe because we didn t get the extreme highs but the numbers, as even a cursory crunch of the multiple listing service shows, are bad enough. Take, for instance, foreclosures in the outer suburbs and blue-collar neighborhoods. As of mid- September, 10 percent of home sales in Plano this year have been foreclosed properties; in Rockwall and Rowlett, upward of 25 percent; Mesquite, a blood-curdling 45 percent. But the numbers don t tell the whole story, as with the Plano foreclosure whose listing describes these recent repairs: replace carpet, repair all drywall holes-blemishes, remove all wallpaper, complete int. paint, replace missing light fixtures and door knobs, replace toilet seats, replace garage door opener, repair fence, gates, etc. No, the numbers don t speak to the anger of the dispossessed, the ones who vacate their homes in a scorched-earth rage. The numbers don t even tell the whole numbers story. Apparently, significant quantities of foreclosed and distressed properties change hands without ever being listed on the multiple listing service. And then there s the increasingly popular Z sale, where the stated sale price usually the original list price is noted with a Z, indicating that the actual sale price is, well, something else. But that bogus Z price goes straight into the numbers machine that cranks out the statistical sausage of trends, median prices and comps that are supposed to tell us where the market stands. It s poisonous, my friend Mark Kreditor told me over lunch, speaking of the Z phenomenon. It might help support the market in the short term by keeping lower prices out of the system, but it s like a drug that keeps you pumped up after a while it catches up with you. Mark, another veteran of the 80s bust, manages more than 1,500 rental properties in the Dallas area, and he has his own blunt take on the local market: a bubbling cesspool not quite his actual words! of bad credit and tenant noncompliance.

33 From the outside, Dallas looks great to investors strong population growth, relatively strong employment, great weather, a transportation hub and so on, but you scratch away that veneer, it gets ugly pretty fast, he said. Dallas has one of the lowest consumer credit scores of any major American city. Tenants will skip at the drop of a hat, and shrug off nuclear threats to their credit rating. Property code by Smith & Wesson, is how Mark describes it. In any given year his company files more than 500 eviction proceedings, and can expect fully 20 percent of tenants to fail to fulfill their leases. Don t, he tells prospective out-of-town investors. Dallas is not a normal market. Compounding the problem is the seemingly endless prairie that stretches in every direction. Residential real estate in Dallas is all about what s new, fresh, clean and contemporary, and beyond last year s farthest-flung suburban outpost there is always more prairie, another slice of raw land on which to build this year s model of the luxe domestic dream. A sampling of high-dollar foreclosures shows the subprime version of that dream: Resort-style backyard w/ pool/spa, fountains and fireplace. Massive wrought-iron chandeliers. 1,000-bottle wine grotto next to media room. Opulence abounds. With its substantial investments of time, money and energy, home ownership assumes some degree of longevity in a certain place and at a certain station in life, whereas latter-day corporate capitalism demands of its workers the exact opposite flexibility, mobility, liquidity, a knack for the fast downsize. Perhaps the average American family would have been better served these past 10 years by investing in a yurt, as opposed to an immovable luxury pile of bricks and mortar. Lately, I ve been reminded of drives to my in-laws house in the early 90s, and how our route took us past a boarded-up Kroger in an empty field. That supermarket was the forlorn vestige of what was obviously meant to be a grand multi-use development, and some wit had spray-painted on the building s side, In time the prairie takes back its own. That old Kroger is now a bustling Tom Thumb grocery store that sits smack in the middle of a thriving mega-suburb. So the story has a happy ending? Farther out, though, the real estate turns back into land, and thickets of ragweed and sunflowers are growing over the construction debris. Maybe this track we like to think of as progress is just us going around in wider and wider circles. What s going to happen? I asked Mark Kreditor at the end of our lunch. Nothing, came the instant reply. Then he laughed. Except more of the same.

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