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Financial Gurus Still Believe Rental Property Is a Safe Investment

(Investment Properties: Part 3 of 5)

The record low interest rates for mortgages have helped the real estate market to slowly improve month by month for the last several quarters. Thanks to these low rates real estate has continued to be a sound investment for people who wish to diversify their portfolio. For those people that are considering buying their first investment property here are some considerations to keep in mind.

Neighborhood History

It is wise to pick areas that are accustomed to rental homes. One of the most obvious choices would be neighborhoods close to a major university or college. If there are no colleges or universities in your area then look for certain neighborhoods close to quality schools. Schools often attract stable, hardworking tenants that will likely pay on time.

Understanding the Role of Landlord

There are two major ways to prosper from owning rental property. The first is to buy the home at a significant discount and then sell the place at a profit after the home has appreciated. The second way is to have positive cash flow. The second method takes considerable planning. Just because the tenant is willing to pay more per month than the actual mortgage payment, it does not mean that the home is profitable. There are other items to consider such as regular maintenance and repairs.

Determining What to Charge in Rent

Appraisers and real estate agents can provide information about rental rates for a certain area. This gives the investor some idea of what can be charged per month. The monthly mortgage amount and allotted figures for maintenance should be subtracted from the rent. There should be at least 15% left over after subtracting the payments and expenses. Otherwise, you run the risk of losing money.

Choosing Tenants

Once you have some interested parties and they seem capable of paying the rent it is time to begin the screening process. Experienced landlords hold fast to the rule of checking out prior landlord references as well as the tenant’s credit file and even a criminal check. The criminal check could spare you from inadvertently leasing to a felon and finding major damage to your home due to a police raid.

Research the Possibility of Using a Rental Management Firm

Some companies specialize in managing properties for investors. These firms will review applications from potential tenants, handle collecting rent payments and, most importantly, take care of the maintenance issues that pop up at the most inopportune times.

For instance, if you get a call in the middle of the day that a toilet is leaking, can you leave work and fix it? If you get a call at 2 am on Saturday morning notifying you of a sudden hole in the roof, are you capable of fixing that problem? Some people have the skills and time to manage these issues, but most people do not. In these instances it is a good idea to use the service of a reputable management firm.

Investment/Rental Properties (5 Part Series)

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