The Investor s Path to Success: Fort Worth Rental Property Investing. Table of Contents

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2 The Investor s Path to Success: Fort Worth Rental Property Investing Table of Contents Introduction Page 3 Chapter 1 Your Main Focus as a Landlord Page 5 Chapter 2 Setting a Rental Price for Your Property Page 8 Chapter 3 Landlord Education: Insurance Needs Page 11 Chapter 4 Why Invest in Fort Worth Rental Properties Page 14 Chapter 5 The Texas Property Code Page 17 Chapter 6 5 Common Mistakes to Avoid Page 20 Conclusion Page 23 2

3 The Investor s Path to Success: Fort Worth Rental Property Investing Introduction The job of a Fort Worth landlord is to provide a comfortable and safe home for tenants who are paying rent on time and taking care of the property. However, if you really want to go above and beyond the general tasks of being a property owner, you need to know how to make the most out of your investment. When you want to increase the value of your portfolio and earn the highest return possible on your investment, it s important to understand the best practices in property management. The owners and managers at DeGuire Properties have been in the property management and real estate fields for over 30 years. We know what works and we know how to maximize the return you get on your investment property. Whether you re especially interested in cash flow or growing the value of that asset over the long term we know how to get it done. Successful landlords and investors know the value of having a good property management company available to take care of the day to day operations of a rental home and to provide advice, insight and recommendations when it comes to investing, choosing tenants and making necessary upgrades and repairs. We put this book together because we thought it would be useful to investors and landlords who want to do more than simply collect rent checks and keep their property maintained. This guide will show you how to bring your 3

4 investment to the next level. We ll talk about the urgency of good tenant screening, the importance of setting a competitive rental price and the reasons that investing in the Fort Worth market is such a great idea. We ll also tell you what the major mistakes are, and how to avoid them. No landlord wants to fail at managing their property and growing their investment. With our help, you ll be more successful than you imagined. The Fort Worth market provides a number of opportunities for investors who are interested in purchasing properties and holding them for a number of years. The advice you find in this book will show you what works and what doesn t. We ll also explain why having a property management company like DeGuire on your side can make all the difference in your success as a landlord. 4

5 The Investor s Path to Success: Fort Worth Rental Property Investing Chapter 1 Your Main Focus as a Landlord Placing highly qualified tenants should be your number one priority when it comes to being a landlord. This must be your primary focus, because your success as an investment property owner will largely depend on the tenants who are living in your property. Everything starts and ends with those tenants, and you don t want to just settle for anyone. For the video, go to: https://youtu.be/4mhpei8qcpq Thorough Tenant Screening It s important to be aware of and knowledgeable about fair housing laws. Do a thorough background check on 5

6 any applicant for your property. This includes a credit check, a criminal background search, employment verification, income verification and the review of the tenant s prior leasing history. Tenant Interviews Ask questions of the potential tenants. Find out why they want to move. The answers you receive will tell you a lot. If they want a larger place for a growing family or they are moving because they like a particular school district, these are great reasons for relocating. But if they tell you about all their problems with a previous landlord or they didn t like maintaining a home, these might be red flags. Be selective and find a good, strong tenant. This will prevent a lot of problems in the future. Avoiding Vacancies Vacancies cost property owners money. In some cases, they can cost the equivalent of three months of rent. If your rent is $1,500, that s $4,500 you can lose in a year when your home is not rented. Vacancies can be significantly reduced through one word communication. Communicate with your tenants and communicate with your property manager, if you re working with one. Treat tenants with respect and understand that they need to know the expectations you have set for them. When you re sitting down with a lease agreement, make sure the tenants walk away knowing their responsibilities. Responsiveness with Maintenance Landlords and property managers must be responsive to maintenance requests. Respond in a timely manner and keep a strong maintenance policy in place. That will limit a lot of issues and let your tenant know that you re taking care of your responsibilities. 6

7 Always use good, highly qualified vendors who are licensed, bonded and insured. You want them to work on a time flexible schedule and they must be trustworthy and reasonably priced. If there is one thing to improve the profitability of a rental property, it s placing good, qualified tenants in the property. Once you have a great tenant, communicate well, take care of their issues and demonstrate that you appreciate and respect them. These are things you must focus on as a landlord. 7

8 The Investor s Path to Success: Fort Worth Rental Property Investing Chapter 2 Setting a Rental Price for Your Property The rental price you re able to set for your property will largely depend on the Fort Worth rental market. This is an important part of owning investment property because many times, the difference between success and failure in the rental business is setting the right price for the property. If you charge too much, you could have a very long vacancy. If you charge too little, there is the potential for lost rent. Either scenario will not maximize your rental return investment. For the video, go to: https://youtu.be/bqcpmhj2tnw 8

9 Competitive Market Analysis Consider getting help from a professional property manager for a competitive market analysis. Most management companies have access to software that can generate a concise estimate of your home and the surrounding neighborhood. This is the most accurate way to price your property. It will also help to follow a few simple steps. Review Comparable Listings Check comparable rental listings on the Internet. You can look at Zillow.com, Trulia.com, Rent.com and many other rental sites. There are a number of sources online that can provide information to help you price your rental property. Consider Your Location The location of your rental property also impacts the price. Most of the time, trendy neighborhoods will bring a higher rent than remote areas. Some landlords have found success by looking at the value of the home and using 1 percent or 1.1 percent of that home value as a rental price. Look at demand as well. Are there a lot of vacancies in your neighborhood? That could drive your price down. But if there is a short supply of rental properties in your neighborhood, you can charge a higher price. Demand will depend on the local real estate rental economy. Consider Your Amenities Amenities are meant to make life easier and more pleasant for tenants. Your rental price will be affected by swimming pools and proximity to shopping centers, entertainment and restaurants. That can result in charging 9

10 more for your property than if the home is in an area with no amenities and limited access to freeways or shopping. These are just a few things you should look at when pricing your home. Make sure you re competitive. Give potential tenants a reason to consider your property. You need to know the square footage of your home and make sure you re in the same ballpark as other rentals in your area. Proper pricing will make you profitable as a landlord. 10

11 The Investor s Path to Success: Fort Worth Rental Property Investing Chapter 3 Landlord Education: Insurance Needs Understanding the complexities of insurance requirements is an important part of taking care of your rental property as a landlord. Many people believe that when they decide to rent a home, all they need is a homeowner s policy and that will cover all their needs. However, they usually find out after experiencing a loss that their insurance requirements changed when they began renting their home to tenants. You don t want to find yourself in that position. For the video, go to: https://youtu.be/vslxcywdnm4 A homeowner s policy will typically only cover an owner-occupied home. So when you decide to rent out your home, you need to convert that homeowner s policy 11

12 to a landlord policy. This is often referred to as a dwelling policy, and there are three different types of dwelling policies. Dwelling Policies DP-1 Policy This is called a basic dwelling policy. It will cover the structure of the house and it s probably the most economical way to cover your rental home. DP-2 Policy This is a broad dwelling policy. You can name perils to go with the structural coverage of the house. DP-3 Policy The DP-3 policy is a special policy that covers the structure, all perils unless there are specific perils listed that are not covered. Always read your policy and make sure it includes everything you expect. Typically, these policies cover liability and loss of rent. If the house becomes uninhabitable, the landlord can collect the rent from the insurance company. They will also make medical payments and cover appliances owned by the landlord. Renter s Insurance Landlords are often curious about renter s insurance and whether they should require it of their tenants. You can require tenants to carry renter s insurance, but you must state that requirement in your lease agreement. Many tenants assume the landlord s insurance will cover their personal property, but it does not. 12

13 In the Texas Association of Realtors residential lease section, it states that the landlord s insurance does not cover the tenant from loss of personal property. It also recommends the tenants get their own insurance. If you aren t requiring renter s insurance, make sure the tenants are aware of that section so they aren t expecting you to cover their property. The average renter owns $20,000 to $30,000 of personal property. The average cost of renter s insurance is less than $200 per year. Explain that to your tenants so they understand the value of that insurance. It s a small premium to cover their belongings. Typically, a renter s policy will also cover loss of use as well. If the house is uninhabitable, the tenant will get additional living expense money. It also covers personal liability. If someone is hurt on the property and it s the tenant s fault, the tenant will have coverage. The landlord benefits from renter s insurance, particularly with the liability coverage. If the tenants don t have any liability coverage, someone who gets hurt there will turn to the landlord if there is any legal action considered. Be sure to seek the advice of an insurance professional so you know you have the right coverage for one of the largest investments in your portfolio. 13

14 The Investor s Path to Success: Fort Worth Rental Property Investing Chapter 4 Why Invest in Fort Worth Rental Properties The U.S. homeownership rate peaked about ten years ago at a little over 69 percent. Today, it s at 64 percent, which is the same level it was half a century ago. Many experts believe that in the next 15 years, this rate of ownership will drop to 61 percent. These statistics present an opportunity for investors in Fort Worth. For the video, go to: https://youtu.be/5qobh_uugqc Rental Market The national rental vacancy rate is at a 30-year low. More Americans are turning to rental property as a lifestyle choice, and in many markets the supply is equal to or less than the demand. This has created an upward pressure on rental rates. 14

15 As far as demographics, the Millennial generation, or 1834 year olds, generate a large portion of the homebuyer market, but many people in this group are strapped with student loan debt and struggling with new credit regulations, which force them to continue renting. This means there s a huge opportunity for investing. Investing in Fort Worth Opportunity exists in the North Texas area to acquire rental properties and hold them for the long term. Many investors buying for cash flow and rental income must cover the mortgage as well as taxes, insurance, repairs and management fees. It s especially beneficial to buy in cities with strong job growth opportunities. Fort Worth and the Alliance Corridor are among the fastest growing areas in Texas in population and job growth. There is a strong stock of tenants in this area, which is critical for landlords. Good school districts and moderately priced homes will also increase the potential for a large pool of tenants. Maintaining and Maximizing Your Investment Once you purchase your rental property, it s important that you don t simply sit back and let the rental income flow. Even if you buy a home with no initial maintenance or repairs and you have a tenant in place, you need ongoing maintenance for the physical and financial components of the asset. One of the best ways to maximize the return you earn on your investment is by calling a professional property management company. A professional manager can help you take care of the variables that come with being a landlord. 15

16 For example, you need to know what to do if the tenant pays late or doesn t pay at all. There could be maintenance calls at 2 a.m. You might not know the laws you need to follow when you have to evict a tenant and it s important to be familiar with the property codes. An experienced manager can protect your investment and maximize your return. Investing in Fort Worth makes sense in this current market. If you re going to do it, make sure you do it right. Consider working with a qualified property management company that can help you achieve the profits you want to earn on your investment home. 16

17 The Investor s Path to Success: Fort Worth Rental Property Investing Chapter 5 The Texas Property Code The Texas Property Code contains specific components that affect rental properties in the Fort Worth area. The Property Code is broken down into nine subchapters, and it covers every aspect of rental property management, including issues that can arise between landlords and tenants. For the video, go to: https://youtu.be/ayamgzjawry Occupancy Regulations One thing the Property Code addresses is occupancy levels and limits. The maximum number of adults a landlord may allow to occupy a dwelling is three times 17

18 the number of bedrooms in the dwelling. An adult is defined as someone who is 18 years of age or older. The Property Code also breaks down the criteria to establish what makes a bedroom. Tenant s Right to Vacate You will find information about certain circumstances in which a tenant has the right to vacate before the end of the lease without any liability. For example, if there is a family violence issue or a military service requirement, the tenant is permitted to vacate. Required Repairs Timelines for when a landlord is required to make repairs are also provided. You ll also find that a landlord doesn t even have to acknowledge a repair request if the tenant is behind on rent. Security Device Installation Security devices are covered by the Property Code. Landlords need to refer to this section when they are installing security features in their rental homes. For example, security devices like a door viewer cannot be any higher than 48 inches from the floor or lower than 36 inches from the floor. Required Disclosures You must disclose ownership of the property and the contact information for your management company. The Property Code also requires that you tell tenants where to bring or send rental payments. Smoke Alarm Locations The Property Code also gets detailed when it comes to things such as smoke alarms. It lists where these alarms 18

19 must be placed. You ll need to have them in bedrooms, and if a unit has multiple levels, at least one smoke alarm must located on each level. There is also information about how they need to be placed in relation to the walls. Utility Cutoffs The Property Code prohibits utility cutoffs when the tenant is behind on rent. However, landlords are permitted to shut them off for repairs, construction or emergencies. Retaliation against Tenants The Property Code even addresses retaliation. Landlords cannot retaliate against the tenant. If your tenant is constantly complaining or requesting repairs, you are not permitted to suddenly raise the rent because of the extra work you have to put in. Deposits and Fees You will also read information about rental application deposits versus fees. Deposits have to be refunded if the application is rejected. The Texas Property Code must be the working handbook of all landlords. It lets everyone know what is required and it spells out the consequences and damages for anyone who does not comply. The Texas Property Code is your playbook. Study it, learn it and apply it. When you do that, you ll reduce liability and improve tenant and landlord communication. That s the whole purpose of Texas Property Code, Chapter

20 The Investor s Path to Success: Fort Worth Rental Property Investing Chapter 6 5 Common Mistakes to Avoid If you re a new landlord in Fort Worth, or a landlord who is managing independently, without the help of a property manager, it s easy to make mistakes. Being a landlord sounds easy enough. You buy a piece of property, you make any necessary improvements and you lease it for more than what your mortgage payment is. Actually, there s a lot more to it than that. And while being a landlord can be profitable, it can also be very time consuming and costly. Avoid these common pitfalls and unnecessary mistakes. For the video, go to: https://youtu.be/_iwbqkk2dka 20

21 Mistake #1: Not Screening Tenants It s a huge mistake not to thoroughly screen your tenants. Don t trust your property to any stranger. Do background checks, credit checks and reference checks. Get a complete rental history. You can learn a lot from prior landlords even as to the consistency of paying on time. Mistake #2: Underestimating Maintenance Costs There are a number of maintenance and operating costs to owning a rental property. Your property won t always be occupied but you will still have to pay the mortgage, insurance, utilities and you ll still have maintenance issues to take care of. Rentals come with unforeseen expenses. Complete a cash flow analysis, get a budget and be prepared for those expenses. Mistake #3: Incomplete or Inaccurate Leases A lease serves as a binding legal agreement between you and a tenant. Spell out the rules and responsibilities as well as consequences when those obligations aren t met. A handshake and a verbal agreement won t hold up in court. Don t make the mistake of having a weak lease. Mistake #4: Fair Housing Errors Be aware of all fair housing laws. Familiarize yourself with federal and state fair housing regulations from the very beginning. Don t give renters the grounds to sue you over discrimination from poorly written listings. If you re not sure what the fair housing laws are, you can review them on the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development website. 21

22 Mistake #5: Neglecting Maintenance and Repairs Follow up quickly and communicate with tenants when there is a repair that s needed or a maintenance request placed. Provide a safe and healthy place to live for your tenants. These are the most common mistakes that landlords in Fort Worth typically make. A professional property manager will protect you from the expense and the liability that can come with these errors. 22

23 The Investor s Path to Success: Fort Worth Rental Property Investing Conclusion Even the most experienced landlords need a little help when it comes to things like the Texas Property Code, the fair housing laws and what to do when you have an insurance claim to file. This book should have answered some of your initial questions and given you the direction you need if you re taking care of a rental property and hoping to maximize the return you get on that investment. The economy in Fort Worth is growing, and as jobs become more available and tenants feel more comfortable financially, you ll be able to reap a lot of financial benefits as a landlord. As we told you in these pages, more and more people are renting homes and choosing to put off buying. That means you have money to make in the Fort Worth rental market. There s still a lot to tell you, especially if you re an ambitious landlord who wants to earn high rental incomes and grow your investment portfolio. Talk to us at DeGuire Properties, where we d be happy to answer any questions about this book and anything else pertaining to rental homes and investment properties. 23

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