Being a landlord can be a wise decision but it isn’t for everyone. Here are some things to consider before you put out a for rent sign. How Is the Rental Market? Just as you perform due diligence on a property and its condition, you should do your homework on the area’s rental market. Is there a steady stream of potential tenants? Some communities have an obvious source of tenants, such as a nearby university. Will the market support the level of rental income you envision? At a minimum, you want to be able to charge enough rent to cover the property’s mortgage, tax, insurance, and maintenance. If you’re unsure about any aspects of the market for a rental property or how much rent to charge, talk to a REALTOR® who’s familiar with the area. Polish Your People Skills Successful landlords find good tenants and retain them so both parties are content. If you’d rather not take on tasks like addressing complaints or maintenance issues, you’ll need to hire a property manager. Many REALTORS® specialize in property management and can take care of related duties including handling leases, managing funds, and screening applicants. Work with a REALTOR® who is knowledgeable about local and state laws and tenants’ rights to ensure you are in compliance. Being Handy Might Not Be Enough As a landlord, you will be responsible for the routine maintenance and emergency repairs on a rental property. Maybe you can handle annual touch-up work, but unless you’re well-versed in HVAC systems and your city’s plumbing and electric codes, you’ll need phone numbers for reliable repairmen. You’re Always on Call One nice thing about renting out a garage apartment or half of your duplex is that you’re never far away if there’s an emergency with the property, such as a burst pipe or a fallen tree. However, if you don’t live nearby, it may be difficult to keep an eye on the property to ensure it’s kept in good condition. This is yet another reason why it’s a good idea to work with a local property manager who can help look after your property. Protect Yourself and Your Investment The insurance coverage you need as a landlord is different than what you have as a homeowner. Landlord insurance can protect you and your investment property from loss of income in the event that the property becomes uninhabitable, like in the aftermath of a fire, or during a tenant-landlord dispute. Get an Expert’s Advice Finding a property, whether it’s for you and tenants or just to rent out, presents challenges that differ from just buying a house for you and your family. Use the services of a REALTOR® with a background in property management. She’ll help you guide you through the process, from deciding if it’s appropriate for you to become a landlord to finding properties that best fit your search criteria.
Whether you’ve purchased a fixer-upper or are tackling projects to get top dollar when you sell, “doing it yourself” can save money. But home improvement projects carry risks—some more than others. Consider these factors before you DIY. Don’t Make a Shocking Discovery Before you tackle any electrical job, you need to shut off power to the circuit you’re working on. Otherwise, you risk getting a nasty shock or worse. Make sure you can access the breaker box and verify which switch controls which area of the house. If you can’t safely work on the circuit or have any doubts at all, call a professional. Test the Waters Plumbing jobs can lead to leaks and flooding. A good first step is to test the water shutoff valve. Sinks and toilets usually have their own valves, but you may have to shut off water to the entire property to work on tubs, showers, and other fixtures. If your project doesn’t turn out as planned, you may need to shut off the water and leave it off until you get assistance. Know Your Limits You can find instructions for thousands of home improvement projects on the internet. But a YouTube video that shows how to build a deck doesn’t make you a carpenter. Before you start any DIY project, be honest about your ability and have a backup plan if things don’t go well. Certain DIY projects can improve your home and save you money. When you have real estate needs, however, trust a professional: Work with a REALTOR®.
Finding the right REALTOR® for your needs is an important part of a successful real estate transaction. Some REALTORS® earn designations or certifications that show they’ve had additional training with certain types of clients or transactions. Those certifications or designations are indicated by letters after an agent’s name, and you can see a list of the ones available in Texas. But those letters are only one of many ways to determine if a REALTOR® is right for you. Consider how much experience someone has, where the REALTOR® works, what types of transactions the REALTOR® usually handles, and any testimonials from past clients. Find a REALTOR® whose background and expertise match your needs with the REALTOR® search at texasrealestate.com.
Your real estate transaction isn’t the same as anyone else’s, and your REALTOR®’s services should match what you need. Lucky for you, REALTORS® offer many types of business models to guide you through your transaction. Here are three common examples. Traditional Brokerage With a traditional brokerage model, brokers and agents provide a full range of services in exchange for a commission. The commission is negotiable and covers the REALTOR®’s time and efforts on your behalf, whether it’s marketing your home for sale, finding a great space for your business, or locating the perfect home for you and your family. Flat-Fee Brokerage A flat-fee brokerage provides all the services of a traditional brokerage, such as advice on pricing, help with negotiation, and market analysis. But instead of charging a fee equal to a percentage of the sales price, the brokerage charges a negotiable flat fee for its help. A La Carte Brokerage With the a la carte model, clients choose what services they want the brokerage to provide—and only pay for those. For example, a seller may want a REALTOR® to include the home in the multiple listing service and to coordinate showings. However, the seller will handle contracts and negotiations on her own. While these examples are popular business models, they are far from the only ones. No matter what type of model your REALTOR® uses, you will get a professional who follows a strict Code of Ethics to achieve your real estate goals
Your tenant’s lease is up soon, and you’ve decided to sell. While it makes things more challenging if you show the home while the tenant is still living on the property, it can be done with good communication and planning. Respect Tenant’s Schedule Find out ahead of time if there are times that the property cannot be shown due to the tenant’s schedule. Have your REALTOR® coordinate any timing constraints with agents and prospective buyers wanting to view the property. Make Show Times Clear Communication is key. A misunderstanding or scheduling error could result in the house being occupied or not ready to be viewed. Take Responsibility for the Property’s Condition Make it easy for the tenant to keep the property looking show-ready. For example, offer to hire a cleaning or lawn service while the property is on the market. Take advantage of your REALTOR®’s expertise to help you sell the property while minimizing the tenant’s inconvenience.
The federal Fair Housing Act makes it illegal to discriminate in housing based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, or disability. Prohibited actions include refusing to sell or rent housing, setting different terms for housing or a mortgage, discouraging the purchase or rental of a property, and other discriminatory behaviors. Since 1968, all consumers have been protected by the Fair Housing Act from discrimination in housing transactions. Here’s how the act benefits you. It Protects Everyone The act protects you and everyone else from discrimination based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, or disability— those are called the seven protected classes. What the Act Means Sellers and landlords can’t discriminate in the sale or rental of property on the basis of someone’s race, color, religion, sex, disability, familial status, or national origin. They also can’t tell their agents to limit the availability of property based on the same seven classes, establish terms or conditions in the purchase or rental that are discriminatory, or advertise that the property is available only to people of a certain race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, or disability. Where to Report a Violation If you suspect your federal fair housing rights have been violated, you can file a complaint at hud.gov. If you believe a REALTOR® has not upheld the standards set out in the Code of Ethics, you can file a complaint at texasrealestate.com.