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Pensacola Realty Masters Blog

Realty Masters is happy to present the following Pensacola area community and Pensacola real estate information! 

Considerations when Purchasing a Pensacola Multifamily investment
Pam Keen
Owner Education

Pam Keen, Pensacola Real Estate Broker and fellow investor, discusses considerations for investors looking to purchase multifamily investment properties in the Pensacola area!

We manage a lot of small multifamily properties including duplexes, triplexes, quadraplexes, and even small apartment buildings up to 16 units. With managing so many Pensacola area apartments, we have a lot of experience in what makes a good multifamily investment. Here's a few major considerations:

  • Most small multifamily buildings are located in areas with other multifamily buildings, rather than in single-family neighborhoods. It's imperative to pay attention to how the other building owners are maintaining their units. This is imperative in attracting quality tenants and maximizing your rents.
  • Look for better school districts. Many renters in these properties have school aged children. 
  • Consider area crime rates as your tenants surely will. Safety is among the top concern for tenants, and it is often a reason we see people vacate their lease early
  • Consider the age of the property. This is important not only for maintenance but for insurance costs. 
  • Check the flood zone for the property. We've seen several small apartments that repeatedly flood. This will surely affect your ability to make a profit with your investment building. Keep in mind in Pensacola, your property does not have to be in a flood zone to be at risk of flooding. We recommend purchasing a flood policy regardless of whether it's required by your lender or suggested due to a higher risk flood zone. Flooding can occur from poor drainage, creeks, streams, drainage ponds, or even excessive amounts of rain  in a short period of time. 
If you have questions about multifamily properties, reach out to Pam via phone or email. She'll be happy to answer them.
Zillow Pensacola Rental Zestimates
Owner Education

zillow rental zestimates

As Realtors, we frequently hear from landlords and property owners asking about the accuracy of Zillow’s Zestimate for their Pensacola rental property. Right from Zillow’s website, Zillow reports the Rent Zestimate is a “starting point in determining the monthly rental price for a specific property.” They go on to further recommend that you talk to a local real estate agent or property manager that specializes in rentals to determine an accurate listing price. We are that real estate agency that specializes in rentals and property management!

Here’s a few reason’s Zillow’s Zestimates are not accurate in many cases.

1)    Their estimates do not take into account special features, location, and current market conditions. Location is the largest factor among these as, especially in Pensacola, market values vary, even just a few streets over. Zillow does not know Pensacola neighborhoods like we do.  

2)    Often, key factors, such as the number of bedrooms, bathrooms, or square footage are not accurate. This misinformation can skew the numbers greatly. As Zillow gets the information from user-submitted data as well as public records, the information is not always accurate.

3)    Many investors have come in to the market, purchased properties, and remodeled them to increase the value. If your property is not updated, you cannot achieve the same rents as one that is.

Our goal is always wanting to achieve the maximum rental rate for your investment while securing a tenant fast. It is best to price the home close to comparable homes to ensure it does not sit vacant for extended periods of time. Vacancy expenses are among the largest expenses you will face as an investor. Considering the loss of daily rent plus expenses to keep the property on the market, it does not make sense to overprice the home, as financially, you will lose in this scenario. Unfortunately, while demand is high and supply is low, you may achieve a higher than market rent from someone out of the area desperate to relocate. However, experience tells us these tenants are most likely to break their lease and find something more preferred after they are settled.   

So how do we price homes? We run a detailed market analysis on your property using local MLS data from the last 6 months to year. We factor in data that you provide about your home and consult the property appraisers website. We also take into account active listings that are not renting. Of course, we consult Zillow and other leading rental platforms for additional data. Commonly, we see Zestimates coming in up to $500 higher or $500 lower than market rent.

Interested in reading more about Zestimates? Read Zillow Estimates Not as Accurate as You Think on Investopedia, or Think Twice About Trusting Zestimate 'Zestimate' Home Values on Money.com.

If you’d like an accurate rental market analysis for your property, reach out to our team.

Most Important Questions for Potential Property Manager
Nicole St. Aubin
Owner Education

most important questions to ask potential property manager

Most Important Questions for Potential Property Manager

1.  Are they a property management company or do they rent houses?

While these agents may be licensed, they may not be familiar with landlord tenant laws, security deposit disbursements, inspections, advertising rentals, and the other aspects of property management that come with experience!  You need a company to manage your property with software, systems, checks and balances, quality control, insurance, and a large inventory of homes to attract qualified renters. Our company rents houses- that's what we do, and we are #1 while doing it! 

2. Are their property managers licensed?

Conversely, some property management companies operate with only one licensed broker and hire all unlicensed assistants to do the management. Our property managers are all licensed Florida sales associates with experience in both real estate and property management.

3. Are they members of NARPM?

The National Association of Residential Property Managers is the premier resource for single-family property managers. We have been members of this organization for two decades. Our broker Nicole St. Aubin has served on the local Board of Directors as a Director, President, and Past President. This membership is an affiliation that allows for property managers to receive law updates, best practices, market trends, and more.

4. Are they members of NAR and do they advertise in the MLS? 

All of our rental properties get advertised in the Pensacola Multiple Listing Service. As vacancy is often an investor’s number one expense, we do everything we can to mitigate vacancy time. This means that we advertise your property to 3,000 local realtors, and their clients, and pay a referral fee to real estate agents who bring a qualified renter for your property. This is included in your leasing fee. Many companies skip this step to lease your home without having to compensate other agents. As members of the National Association of Realtors, we receive access to premium tools to help us lease and manage your home better and faster.

5. Do they have a local real estate attorney on their team?

One of the most valuable relationships we have is with our attorneys at Chesser & Barr. Chesser & Barr is a local real estate attorney in Fort Walton Beach who specializes in real estate and property management law. While we don’t always like what the attorney says, we know that we are on the right side of the law when we follow their instructions. Liability carries the greatest risk for you as an investor.

6. How long have they been in business?

Realty Masters been in business since 1998. Our broker/owner Pam Keen is a retired Navy Captain and investor with integrity and experience. Realty Masters has an A rating with the Better Business Bureau since 2001. We’ve been members of the Pensacola Chamber of Commerce for 27 years, and were chosen as Small Business of the Month. As members of a host of local and industry organizations, community and membership matters.

Why is this important? This shows that the company is stable and one you can trust with your funds. Unfortunately, the Pensacola area and property management business in general does have stories of property managers who did not properly account for clients funds. You can rest assured your funds (and your tenants) are being properly cared for. We even have three escrow accounts for security deposits with FDIC limits in mind.

7. Besides the management fees, what additional fees is the management company charging you?

Unfortunately, many property management companies profit off your maintenance and other repairs. There are several ways this is done in the industry. Among the most common are in-house maintenance and maintenance premiums. In-house maintenance companies are companies staffed and run by the property management company. Another common way that management companies profit off maintenance is by hiding a 10-15% maintenance upcharge from every bill that goes to the management company. With rising maintenance expenses, we hate this idea and promise never to charge additional maintenance premiums, maintenance coordination fees, or maintenance surcharges. 

Pensacola's Section 8 Housing Information for Landlords
Nicole St. Aubin
Owner Education

section 8 hud program

Realty Masters manages properties for owners who participate in the local section 8 housing program. While some municipalities require participation in the program, participation in the program is voluntary in our area.

Both Escambia & Santa Rosa County have a housing department that provides financial assistance to those who qualify. The program members are open to all but is usually comprised of single parents, elderly, or disabled who must be approved through the county. These assistance programs stay full and keep a lengthy waitlist, therefore, there are always opportunities to lease your property with section 8. 

How does it work?

Tenants complete an approval process with the housing authority. The housing department agrees to pay a portion of, or all of, the rental rate. While the asking rate is set by the landlord, HUD must approve the rental rate and will determine which portion of the rent they will cover. We have seen HUD cover anywhere from only 10% of the rent to 100% of the rent. The check comes directly from the housing office the 1st of each month. The housing department signs a 12 month lease with our company, and the renter, and promises to pay the rental amount, or portion of the rental amount, as long as the renter and landlord keep their contractual obligations. 

We do screen HUD renters the same as we screen our other renters, and renters under the section 8 housing program can be denied based on qualifications.  The housing department performs a rigorous inspection on the property to make sure it’s in acceptable condition and that everything is in working order. If the property does not pass HUD’s inspection, repairs must be made before the lease can begin. We utilize a pre-HUD inspection checklist provided by HUD. As the paperwork is stringent, we handle all the paperwork with the renter and HUD, making this an easier process for you as a landlord.

The Pensacola Housing Authority administers the Section 8 program for Escambia County, and you can read more on their website here https://www.cityofpensacola.com/208/Section-8-Rental-Assistance.

The Milton Housing Authority administers the HUD program for Santa Rosa County, and you can read more on their website here https://miltonhousing.org/.

The housing department is always in need of landlords to participate in the section 8 program.

Listing your Home for Sale or For Rent
Nicole St Aubin
Pensacola Real Estate

listing your Pensacola home for sale or for rent

Listing with Realty Masters For Rent or Sale at the Same Time

No one knows what the future holds. We understand that better than anyone! You find your housing needs changing unexpectedly and you are toying with the idea of becoming a landlord and renting the house out.  Not all landlords set out to become landlords, but life happens and you should look at your situation, weigh the options, and do what makes the most sense for you. We can help with that.

Are you unsure whether you should rent or sell your home? With Realty Masters, you can do both! As Pensacola's real estate investment specialist, we can help you sell or lease your Pensacola home without committing to one option until it's either rented or sold. 

Here's how it works:

  • A 90 day listing contract will be required to put your home on the Pensacola MLS Multiple Listing Service and syndication to multiple other internet sites to include Zillow, Trulia, Homes.com, etc. Don't worry, there is a $0 cancellation fee. 
  • We would require the home be listed for sale only for at least the first 30 days. If it's not sold, we will list it for rent or for sale, and if the home rents, the listing contract can be cancelled without penalty and the home withdrawn from the sales market. Luckily, average time on the market to sell your home is only 25 days as of 2022, and we feel confident we can get your home sold or rented fast! 

To help you make your decision, we have some information that may be helpful regarding the pro's and con's of renting and selling your home! 

Pro's of Renting Your Home

  • Collect extra income on top of paying off your debt (so long as the rental rate is more than your mortgage and expenses! We hope that is the case for you!) 
  • Own a home while someone else pays off your mortgage
  • Home value appreciation over long term 
  • No utilities costs once occupied
  • Transfer some of your upkeep and minor maintenance duties to your tenant

Cons of Leasing your Home

  • Potential unexpected expenses such as vacancy and damage
  • Deffered maintenance costs will increase as tenants will not care for the home the way a homeowner does
  • Routine maintenance expenses and capital improvements necessary to maintain the investment
  • Continue to pay insurance and property tax, and property taxes will increase if you had a homestead exemption

Pro's of Selling your Home 

  • Largea mount of money received at once
  • Can move money into another investment
  • Casuhing out your appreciation and avoid any temporary changes in market value 
  • Avoid the cost of interest over the life of the loan
  • No more property taxes, insurance, repair expenses 
  • Potential to avoid capital gains taxes (ask your accountant!) 

Cons of Selling your Home

  • One less asset gaining income on your portfolio
  • Loss of rental income
  • Miss out on future appreciation potential 
  • Potential capital gains taxes 
  • Paying out closing fees and closing costs
  • Out of pocket repairs that may come up to get your home sold
  • Typically takes a longer time to find a buyer and close than to find a renter and receive rent 

There may be some drawbacks to this approach as it can scare away rents who don't want to have another property owner sell while they are leasing. It also may not allow enough time for a buyer to view and make an offer before it rents. Luckily, both markets are moving fast and we know we can get your home leased or sold! 

Request a Market Analysis

In order to make any decisions on whether you should ultimately rent or sell your home, you must have a good market anaylsis of both the Rental Value and the Sales Value. To request a market anaylsis for both the sale and rental markets, give us some basic information here. 

Are you cut out to be a Landlord?

Landlording can be a pleasant experience or sometimes a very stressful one. You may learn a thing or two along the way and making mistakes can be costly. Of course if you do not want to actually deal with your tenants yourselves, you can always hire a professional property management firm like Realty Masters of Florida to do the job for you.

Whether your goal is to lease or sell your Pensacola area home, reach out to our team and let us know how we can help you accomplish your goals. 

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  • Considerations when Purchasing a Pensacola Multifamily investment
  • What Makes a Good Pensacola Investment Property
  • Buy and Hold Investment Strategy
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