Pensacola Realty Masters Blog
Realty Masters is happy to present the following Pensacola area community and Pensacola real estate information!
10 Mistakes New Investors Make When Purchasing Pensacola, FL Investment Properties
Investing in property has the potential to be a great source of income. However, you want to be smart about your real estate investment. There are many factors to consider when making this important purchase. Below are the top 10 mistakes that investors make when purchasing a Pensacola investment property.
1. Paying Too Much. Use a trusted Pensacola Realtor© that is experienced with investment properties including single family and small multi-family properties. A Realtor© will be able to provide you with information regarding comparable properties in the area, potential rent, and can help guide you with finding a suitable investment property without exceeding your budget.
2. Skipping the Home Inspection. Surprises are not always fun! Be sure to have a thorough home inspection completed even if the property appears to be in good shape. You want to know what you are taking on and ruling out any costly repairs in the beginning can help save you time and money.
3. Being Unrealistic About Rent Amounts in the Pensacola Area. When house hunting for your investment property with your Realtor©, be realistic about the potential rent. Asking too much for rent will end up costing you more money in the long run. If you price your rental too high, it is likely to sit on the market for a longer amount of time than it would if it were initially listed at a reasonable rent amount. As vacancy costs can be your largest expense, it is best to price the property to rent as quickly as possible.
We are seeing investors seeking short-term rental and calculating huge ROI’s based off “potential” rents. We caution investors to purchase properties using this formula. Not all properties make a good AirBnB and many factors can derail these plans, such as government regulation, homeowners’ associations, and unknown factors like COVID. Thus, we recommend that your purchase make financial sense as a long term rental also, in case it does not work out as a short-term rental.
4. Not Hiring a Pensacola Property Manager. Once they’ve purchased a property, some investors underestimate the advantage of securing a property manager to deal with the day to day details of managing a rental. This includes processes such as screening applicants, receiving maintenance requests, performing regular property evaluations, posting notices, and coordinating leases renewals, for example. Having someone to communicate directly with your tenants on your behalf will alleviate a lot of the work that can come along with owning investment properties.
5. Not Being Familiar with Florida Landlord Tenant Law. Another one of the perks of having a property manager is that we are familiar with Florida Landlord Tenant law. You don’t want to rely on Google or Reddit to find answers about situations that may arise throughout your tenant’s lease term. Having a trusted Pensacola property management company by your side to help you navigate those waters will help reduce stress. However, it is a great idea to review these laws so you know what to expect if certain situations arise, such as unauthorized occupants or evictions, and what your legal obligations are under the law.
6. Not Considering Local Environmental Factors. Here in Pensacola, FL, we are susceptible to hurricanes and other severe weather conditions including extreme temperatures. As many properties are located near the water, be aware of flood zones and be prepared should the worst case scenario happen. Flood insurance is always a worthy investment, and you should factor flood insurance in as a yearly expense. Pensacola also has termites in the area and if these go unnoticed and/or untreated, they can cause extensive damage to your property as well as potentially hazardous conditions such as a damaged subfloor. A termite bond can be a wise investment or necessity, especially if you have a wood sided or off grade property. During summer, the temperature and the heat index get extremely high. If you notice the HVAC system is older, plan to replace that in the near future instead of making Band-Aid repairs every few months.
7. Not Taking Into Consideration the Area That You Are Purchasing In. Be sure to pay attention to the area surrounding the property you are purchasing because prospective tenants certainly will! Are there schools or parks nearby? Is there a road with heavy traffic and many businesses? Does the property meet the real estate value principle of conformity? This is important for future resale.
Evaluate the condition of the houses or apartments that are nearby and if they’re in good or bad condition. Search crime maps for crime statistics to get a good feel of the safety and security offered in the area.. Ask yourself if you would be comfortable living in the area you are considering purchasing in because that will be among the top concerns of your renters.
8. Not Considering Expenses for Repairs and Reserves. Be prepared to incur some expenses not only getting the property ready to rent, but also once it’s occupied. Plan for routine maintenance expenses and costly capital improvements over time. Tenants are only responsible for damage caused by accident, carelessness, recklessness or abuse and are not responsible for ordinary wear and tear on a property or extensive upkeep. Take into consideration the cost of future expenses for big ticket items such as the roof, plumbing, or major appliances like water heaters and HVAC units. It is important to know the condition of these items before you purchase your investment property and that is why the home inspection comes in handy!
9. Not Planning for Possible Vacancies. The rental market can be unpredictable at times, as can tenants. Are you prepared if a tenant breaks a lease and moves out early? The sudden loss of rental income can be scary. Properties are renting fast right now, but we recommend factoring in 5% vacancy costs yearly when planning your budget for your investment property to take into account potential vacancy and turnover.
10. Skimping on Materials and Fixtures. Once you purchase a property, consider making some upgrades. Beware that cheaper is not always better. Lower-grade materials have shorter lifespans and can make you feel as if you are constantly making repairs. Consider higher-grade materials and fixtures. Not only can this help you get a higher rent, it may also attract better quality tenants. For example, if your Pensacola area investment property has the old original pink countertops in the kitchen or bathroom, consider upgrading them with granite. Not only is it much more attractive, it is practically bulletproof and can withstand greater wear and tear. If faucets or doorknobs are brass, try replacing them with nickel-brushed fixtures, is a more inexpensive way to improve the look of the property. Additionally, updating old appliances will appeal to tenants when leasing and save you routine maintenance expenses later.
Remember to keep these in mind during your search for an investment property in Pensacola. Be realistic, practical, and run realistic numbers to calculate your ROI. If you are entering the Pensacola market as a new investor, it is a good idea to speak with other local investors to pick their brains and discuss their personal experiences. This is a big purchase and you want to make a wise decision.
When choosing a Pensacola property management company, many factors can come into play. How do you choose the right one? Who will have your best interest in mind and help protect your investment? Our motto is we treat your home as if it were our own, so let Pensacola Realty Masters take care of you!
Pensacola Realty Masters is the largest family-owned property management company in the Pensacola area with over twenty years of property management experience and over nine hundred properties in our portfolio. Whether you’re a first time landlord or a seasoned investor, we can help you navigate the world of property management and investment real estate. Let our family help yours!
Our trusted team is dedicated to assisting you and your tenants before, throughout, and after the lease term. There are many processes in place to help make for a smooth transition when signing on a new owner, screening tenants during the application process, and also while completing move in and move out evaluations, to name a few.
We offer our services at a reasonable cost without any hidden fees. We also do not charge you to market your property or when the property is vacant. Once you have signed a property management agreement, we your property will be listed for rent and you will not be charged anything until a new tenant moves in. We also offer a discount for our active duty military and investors with three or more properties.
Being a landlord is not always easy. While we are well-versed in Florida Landlord Tenant Law as well as Fair Housing, we also have a legal team to assist with any issues that may arise during. This is an awesome resource to have as a back-up for those tough cases and it only costs a minimal fee of $4/month in addition to your monthly management fees.
Realty Masters requires strict standards for your tenants to qualify. Just look at our online reviews! Almost all of the negative feedback we have from renters is about not meeting the requirements. It is our job to protect your investment. Applicants of Pensacola Realty Masters are required to meet certain criteria such as a minimum credit score, sufficient income, and a good residential history. We will process applications in the order they are received and will communicate with you regarding the status of applications for your rental property. We must follow the laws of Fair Housing and are limited in what details we can divulge to you, but know that your potential tenants are being well-screened and no one that doesn’t meet the requirements gets approved unless you have given that conditional approval.
Pensacola Realty Masters strives to provide you with extremely thorough documentation of the condition of your rental property. The evaluation team is excellent at documenting the conditions digitally, as well as in writing. We will complete evaluations prior to move in, ninety days after move in, annually, and after move out. The reports and photos will be sent to you so you can review the condition of your property as well. Our property managers will gather the necessary information to determine if any notices need to be given to the tenants for lease violations during occupancy. Upon move outs, our property managers will communicate with you and coordinate vendors to help make the property move in ready. The property managers will also draft any claims that may be made against a past tenant’s security deposit and keep you apprised of the laws we are all required to follow.
We are readily available for your tenants! Our office is also centrally located in Pensacola and in addition to normal working hours during the week, we are open on Saturdays for added convenience. We also have an after-hours phone for those maintenance emergencies that may crop up after business-hours. Many property management companies are unreachable. You can call our office and get an answer 51 hours each week. You can also text, email, or message us on your portal.
If the time comes when you decide that you no longer desire to be a landlord, or if you may want to reduce the size of your portfolio, we have multiple Pensacola realtors that can provide a comparative market analysis and assist you with selling your Pensacola real estate investment.
Being a landlord can be a rewarding experience and we are here to help you every step of the way. Contact Realty Masters today to discuss your next steps!
Evictions are a hot topic right now. As many tenants have been delinquent through the COVID-19 pandemic, and the legislation preventing evictions is expiring, many landlords are calling us about evictions.
As your property manager, we handle several aspects of your property management as allowed under our management agreement and Florida law. These roles have us property managers wearing several hats- Realtor, leasing agent, private investigator, maintenance coordinator, bill collector, bookkeeper, interior designer, and the list goes on. One of the roles we cannot assume, is that of a lawyer.
The Florida Supreme Court does allow for Florida property managers to handle evictions for property owners but only in a limited scope and only in certain instances. They give us the authority to:
- With the help of our attorney, draft and serve a 3-Day Notice
- With the help of our local county court, draft and file a Complaint for Eviction and Motion for Default
- With the help of our local Sherriff’s Office, obtain a Final Judgment and Writ of Possession
- Prepare eviction forms approved by the Florida Supreme Court
Your Florida Property Manager may be able to file and proceed with an eviction if:
- The eviction is for non-payment of rent
- The eviction is uncontested by the tenant
- We have written authorization from the property owner to evict the tenant
Unfortunately, if your tenant fails to move at the end of the lease, an eviction is necessary, but your Florida property manager may not be authorized to file this on your behalf. Additionally, if your tenant violates a lease term and is served a 7-day notice of non-compliance, we can serve the notice, gather the documentation, but cannot file the eviction on your behalf. Additionally, if we know your tenant will contest the eviction and that they have any ground to stand on, we will not be able to file any eviction on behalf of the property owner.
Why? Well, because the Florida Supreme Court does not want Realtors practicing law. Unfortunately, at a certain point, the eviction process can turn into such. This can be frustrating for property owners as the eviction process can be a little intimidating to navigate. The good news is that many owners, with a little guidance, are able to file and carry through the eviction with no problem. It may require an in-person or a conference call hearing. In many instances, hiring an attorney to handle the process is the best choice for many.
It seems like every month we are discussing what normal wear and tear is and what is considered tenant caused damage. We strive to be fair with both our owners and tenants so we are always doing our research to make sure our standards are on track with others. Most recently we have compared our guidelines to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development says that “the costs an owner incurs for the basic cleaning and repairing of such items necessary to make a unit ready for occupancy by the next tenant are part of the costs of doing business.”
Some items HUD identifies normal wear and tear are
- Fading, peeling, cracked paint
- Small chips in the plaster
- Nail holes, pinholes, cracks in walls
- Door sticking from humidity
- Carpet faded or worn from walking
- Partially clogged sinks caused by aging pipes
- Dirty or faded lamp or window shades
Tenant caused damages usually cost more to fix and go beyond normal wear and tear items likely a result of a tenants' negligence or abuse.
Some examples from HUD are:
- Gaping holes in walls or plaster
- Chipped or gouged wood floors
- Doors ripped of hinges
- Holes, stains or burns in the carpet
- Clogged or damaged toilet from improper use
- Torn, stained, or missing lamp and window shades
See the attached HUD document and review Appendix 5C and 5D for more information on normal wear and tear as well as a sample life expectancy chart.
When it comes to maintenance of rental properties and the many other expenses that come along with them, of course we would all love to spend the least amount of money as possible. It may make us feel like we are getting a larger return. But beware, there may be a bigger price to pay when you choose to pay the lower price!
If an appliance such as an AC or water heater were to break, it’s important to act quickly. While we want the tenant to be comfortable and back to normal in no time, we also want to be sure the repair is executed properly. Especially for those big ticket items, you would like the peace of mind that what you are paying is fair and reasonable. We all know that the only thing that should ever be ripped off is a band aid! Surprisingly, the amount of time it takes can also turn out to be just as expensive.
One issue that can cause a long repair response time is a home warranty. For example, an AC breaks in the middle of summer. A certain part is needed, but the home warranty cannot get that part for another ten days and after it finally comes in, it may be another two days before the appointment can be scheduled for installation. That is an unreasonable amount of time to make a tenant go without AC. Chances are, your tenant is going to want to stay somewhere else in the meantime. They may also seek reimbursement for their expenses along with a rent abatement. So, while you think you are only paying the minimal service fee to the home warranty, you may also end up losing a few hundred more dollars depending on the amount of rent and expenses you agree to credit. After that all adds up, it’s that likely you could have saved a bunch of time, hassle, and money had you chosen for a vendor outside of the warranty company to make the repair the same or next day, for $200 or less in most cases that we’ve seen. You keep a tenant happy as well!
Such an ordeal can leave a bitter taste in the tenant’s mouth. It may also be one of the main reasons they feel the need to vacate upon lease expiration which will result in a vacancy and additional turnover expenses. Was waiting the extended amount of time to try and save some money worth damaging your relationship with your tenant? Valuable time may also be wasted if you require multiple estimates for a repair. Two estimates can usually give you a good idea of what you can expect to fork out, but wanting to get three or four estimates not only increases the repair time, but also increases your tenant’s frustration.
Many factors contribute to the relationships we have with tenants. The most common feedback we get from tenants includes the condition of the properties they live in, communication, and maintenance request response times. We work every day to improve in all of those categories and we act as a liaison and at times, a mediator, between you and the tenant. While we represent you, we do make sure we are providing an objective outlook on all situations so things may be handled as quickly, efficiently, and as smoothly as possible. Just keep in mind that sometimes you may need to pay a little more to have a little less trouble with your tenant/landlord relationship.
With any measurement based on a future predictions or hypotheticals, we know that many parameters, and events can change the results,but that shouldn't stop us from doing our due diligence on the front end of investment properties.
Let's take a look at the kinds of properties I focus on, which are single family homes that are easy to finance with 20% down for investors.
Below is an example of a home purchased for $100,000 with a $20,000 down payment and an $80,000 mortgage at 5% interest. I used a 2% property appreciation rate and 2% annual increase for rents and expenses, and a 10 year holding period.
Annual Rental Income: $1000 per month rents less 2% vacancy = $980 * 12 = $11,760 per year.
Basic view: Invested $20,000 (down payment) for 10 years and then cashed out.
See the chart that shows the growth. (Chart is courtesy of Chris Bird with CRS and came from his investment analysis course which I attended).
Feel free to utilize this formula and information when analyzing your own real estate investments. Reach out if you have any questions about analyzing real estate investments in the Pensacola area.
We've all noticed the increase in rental rates in the Downtown Pensacola area over the past few years. We decided to dig into the data to see exactly how much rents have increased. Overall, single family rents in downtown Pensacola (zip codes 32501 and 32502) have increased approximately 25% over the past 5 years. In comparison, the average Pensacola area rental rates has increased approximately 13% over the last 5 years. That means that Downtown Pensacola rents are increasing nearly 2 times the amount as the overall area rental rate.
The average asking price today on Pensacola MLS for a single family rental in Downtown Pensacola is $1,422! A lot of these properties are new construction homes which of course come with a higher price tag. The rising rates in the Downtown Pensacola area are marking it harder to find an affordable downtown rental.
What do you think are other factors contributing to this steep increase? Here are a few of our observations:
- Ongoing Downtown Pensacola revitalization
- Increase in new construction
- Renovations on existing properties
- Increasing rental rates overall
We will continue to monitor the Pensacola rental market and keep you posted as to any changes in rental values.
originally posted 02-02-2019
We've felt some impact from the aftermath of major Hurricane Michael, which hit the Panama City area in October 2018. Here are the ways we've been impacted.
Rental Market Remained Steady
On the positive side, we waived application fees for storm victims and received quite a few renters from Bay County. Along with tightened inventory, the storm helped to cool the winter slow down we normally have.
With the help of a few owners that did some upgrades and remodeling, we were able to raise our new move in rents 6.5% the last quarter of 2018! Statistically, homes leased in the last quarter of the year receive the lowest increase in rent and have the highest days on the market.
Roofers and Other Contractors
We have been struggling with contractor resources as many contractors went over to aid in hurricane relief.
Roofers, general contractors, and remediation companies in the area have been extremely busy. Coupled with extreme rain, there have been several delays with roofing projects in the Pensacola area. Please be patient if you need roofing estimates or roofing work. We expect this to demand to continue into the coming months and year.
Another impact of a major hurricane in our state is increased requirements at insurance renewal time! Insurance companies are being really tough right now.
We've heard of insurance companies sending non-renewals and cancellations or threatening a non-renewal for the following reasons:
- Roof older than 15 years
- Homes built before 1972
- Homes with trees over the roof line or leaning over the home
- Homes with cracks in the driveway
- For filing previous claims on any homeowner's insurance policy
With so many of these instances happening, we want you to be prepared and aware of the insurance issues we are seeing currently. Here are a few ways you can be prepared for this:
Limit Insurance Claims
It makes sense to file an insurance claim if something minor occurs and the total costs will be over your insurance deductible. I mean, isn't that what insurance is for? Instances like vandalism, water leaks, and other minor damages is why you pay for insurance each month.
We understand the premise, but with the recent hardships in the insurance field, we recommend being cautious when filing insurance claims. We have heard of cancellations from filing a claim or insurance companies raising the premium. It can also prevent you from easily switching insurance carriers, as a carrier can use previous insurance claims as a reason to deny a new policy with them.
Did you know that insurance claims follow you as the homeowner as well as the property?
We've seen instance where a claim on a rental property affected the owner on securing insurance on their primary residence. We even saw an instance where a new buyer was trying to purchase a home that had a history of a renter's insurance claim and the new buyer was having a hard time procuring a new insurance policy.
We recommend you pay for these small instances above the insurance policy and only utilize insurance when appropriate and necessary. Consider the long term consequences of filing an insurance claim when computing the expenses for the repair. We know- insurance makes us mad sometimes too.
Consider Replacing your Roof Instead of Repairing
It could be a waste to repair your roof. Often times, when a roofing issue is reported, a roofer will provide an estimate to repair and/or to replace. The roofer will give their opinion on the life of the roof and what the cause of the issue is.
It may seem easier to repair the roof now and worry about replacing later, but do keep in mind the following:
- Roof leak repairs are not always guaranteed and the leak could occur again or arise in another location.
- Repairing could be a waste of money as you will eventually need to replace the roof.
- If your roof is older than 15 years, you will definitely have to replace your roof soon, or in the coming years, to keep your property insured.
- If you try to sell the property without replacing the roof, you will NOT be able to sell the property if the roof is older than 15 years. FHA/ VA financing will deny the loan AND the new buyer will likely be unable to secure a new insurance policy.
We strongly suggest replacing your roof at this time and not spend funds to repair the roof. Of course, we will review each situation on an individual basis.
As many of the homes in our area had roof replacements after Hurricane Ivan in 2004, please keep in mind that these roofs are now 15 years old. Many of the homes that did not need a new roof at the time of Hurricane Ivan were built between 1999 and 2004. These roofs are 15-20 years old now! Reach out if you have any questions or concerns.
If we have any insurance professionals reading these, please feel free to reach out to us with additional information!
The Realty Masters of FL Team
#1 in Pensacola Property Management and Leasing!
originally posted 01-12-2019
As a landlord, you have to mitigate liability by ensuring that your property meets all applicable city, county, state, and national laws. One of the biggest challenges for the do-it-yourself landlord is staying on top of all of these regulations!
One regulation you may not be aware of is the need to have 10 year tamper proof smoke detectors in your rental property.
In 2015, Florida Landlord Tenant Law added language that requires all battery operated smoke detectors to be replaced with 10 year tamper proof batteries. Of course, the lithium battery detectors cost more and can be up to $30 for each detector (versus under $10 for the old kind). They still sell the old 9 volt battery detector at your local home improvement store, however, be advised that this detector does not meet the threshold of Landlord Tenant Law (and likely new building codes, although I am not an expert on following those).
The law dictates if you have to replace the detector, you must replace it with a tamper proof detector.
Battery operated smoke detectors expire every 10 years. Check the date on the back of the detector to make sure the detector is not expired.
Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are not optional expenses as they are required under the law.
originally posted 01-04-2019
You now own your home! You have been living the good life of homeownership, but you find your needs changing. You could have received a job offer somewhere else and need to move. When you bought the place you were single and now you have a spouse and children, or the space is too small and you are looking for more room. If this sounds like you, you may consider the option of selling the home and buying another or keeping it to rent and moving to a new home. 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.
The 1st step you should take, look at the math and see what makes sense for you
If you rent the home, will it be a positive or negative cash flow after you make your mortgage payment and other monthly expenses associated with owning the home. For example - Taxes, Insurance, and HOA dues which may or may not be part of your mortgage payment. If it is going to cost you more money to keep the house, you may want to consider selling.
The second step, is can you profit from selling
You should take into consideration the expenses of selling. First, determine the approximate value of the home, subtract about 8-10% for real estate fees and other expenses, and look at your mortgage payoff. If you take the likely selling price, subtract your loan payoff and other expenses, how much will you put in your pocket? If you like that number, you should consider selling. If you would walk away with little or no profit from a sale, or would need to bring money to the closing to sell the home, you may want to keep the home and wait for property values to appreciate more. Especially, if you will have a monthly positive cash flow renting the property.
You will find that one option, or both, other make the most sense in your particular situation based on the math, so lets go a step further and consider the taxes.
Lets say you bought the home for $150,000 - 5 years ago and it is now worth $250,000. You have lived in the home for 5 years, but even after subtracting 10% for expenses, you could potentially profit $75,000 from the sale. Normally, if you sell real estate and make a profit, you'll have to pay capital gains tax on the sale, which can be up to 20% depending on your tax bracket. However, the IRS allows homeowners to exclude the gain on a sale of up to $250,000 (or $500,000 if married filing jointly) of a primary residence if you lived in the home for at least two of the last five years, so in this case the $75,000 profit would be tax free. If you move out and turn the home into a rental, it becomes an investment property. If you then decide you don't like being a landlord and sell it down the road, you may have to pay up to 20% of the profit in income taxes when you sell.
I'm not a CPA, so to learn more about this possible capital gains tax exclusion, consult a tax advisor or read the IRS's rules on the topic.
The third step, look at past and current market trends where your home is located
Questions to ask yourself when considering selling or renting your home.
- The quality of the schools in the area
- Is the area growing and do people want to live there
- Are property values, as a rule, increasing, remaining the same, or declining?
We don't know for certain what the future will bring, but if you have doubts or you know of economic factors that could adversely affect future rental potential and/or appreciation, you may want to consider selling now.
Last step of all, you should ask yourself 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.
I hope this blog gives you some good information to help you make the decision to sell or rent a little easier for you; However, if you need more information you can read my latest book published in 2017
“The Real Estate Rulebook, Everything you need to know to build wealth and create passive income" which is available for purchase on Amazon.
originally posted 02-01-2018
Landlords: your tenants want updates.
When asked the question "What one improvement would you wish for your rental?" upon vacating, our tenants had a lot to say.
Here's a list of the most common answers we received this year in order of frequency:
- Needs upgrades and updating
- Update appliances most commonly mentioned is the fridge
- New flooring (carpet or vinyl is old)
- Provide lawn care
- New light fixtures; fans in all rooms
- Windows and screens are old
- Fenced yard or repairs to old fence
- New counter tops
- Needs new a/c unit
- No gutters on home
- Updated bathroom
- Wallpaper ripped out everywhere
- New exterior doors
We know the old saying is "if it ain't broke, don't fix it", but your tenants disagree. They want new fixtures and updated energy efficiency. Tenants expect their landlord to continually make upgrades and provide routine maintenance. Landlords should build up a reserve to make these upgrades.
As your property ages, it's a good idea to invest in routinely replacing components in your home. To keep your home in good condition, you should be completing maintenance frequently on your properties. Making these and other improvements will yield higher rents, less vacancy, and an overall better experience for you as a landlord.
Reach out to us with any questions about becoming a Pensacola area landlord. We specialize in working with investors and landlords in the Pensacola real estate market. As we manage over 1,000 rental properties, our real estate agents understand rental market trends.
We are currently accepting new properties in good condition in Pensacola, Pace, Milton, Gulf Breeze, Pensacola Beach, Perdido Key, and Navarre.
originally posted 01-01-2018
Some items an owner SHOULD AVOID having in their rental property!
As property management professionals, we have a lot of experience in mitigating risk. Because of this, there are several items we would never recommend having in a rental property. Here's a list of our top five:
Trampolines: We understand, you don't want to remove these items from the property as you have enjoyed using them. While it sounds like a nice amenitiy for your rental property, it would be best case scenario to haul these items away from a rental property. These items are big liability issues and safety concerns. Additionally, your insurance policy may not allow them at the property. If your insurance policy excludes trampolines, as many do, you will be held liable without protection should someone get hurt.
Playsets and Patio Furniture Sets: The estimated life span of exterior items such as patio furniture and playsets are low. Over time, these items will decay and become a safety liability for your residents. If a tenant or guest is hurt because these items, you can be held liable.
Above Ground Pools, Expensive Pool Filtration System and Hot tubs: Unless you are including pool maintenance with the rental amount then I highly recommend not having this installed. Tenants are expected to maintain the home as if it is their own and treat the home with care, but this isn’t always the case. If this system breaks, requires upkeep, or preventive maintenance – you may not be able to rely on the tenant to take care of it. We are recommending that our owners have pool maintenance included, if their property has a pool, for this reason. This will save a lot of headaches and sleepless nights. Trust us!
Salt Water Treatment System: This is amazing to have in newer homes to increase the longevity of the pipes or in old areas where hard water is a problem. If you have routine maintenance to take care of the system, it is a great asset for the home. Unfortunately, along the same thinking with pools, sometimes tenants do not take the needed care of systems while in your property. If there is an issue with the system or upkeep needed – you are on the hook.
Security Systems or Alarm Systems: Added security is usually always a plus; it is attractive to renters for peace of mind and also can be helpful for any emergency services. The major drawback we have with alarm systems is the service setup with them. Most of the time, the service is disconnected and the hardware is still at the house. This can lead to confusion that it is active or not. Some tenants setup service and are able to use the system in place, but other times if tenants wanted a security system the companies install new hardware. Overall, it becomes an unnecessary hassle that is not maintained
originally posted 11-24-2017
We wanted to write this article for any homeowners with existing home warranties or are thinking about getting one. Our team is having an increasingly hard time working with home warranty companies, please read this article in full.
As we are writing this, Lindsay, one of our property managers, is on the phone with American Home Shield and listening to a recording that says “your wait time is in excess of one hour. Please continue to hold and a representative will be with you.” She is merely trying to follow up on a work order that was recently placed.
While we understand that using a home warranty for repairs can be beneficial for you, we have experienced that home warranty companies make it difficult to provide quality service to your tenants. We have gathered input from our staff and other industry experts on the pros and cons of having a home warranty. Here is some of our findings.
What is a home warranty?
A home warranty is a pre-paid, 1-year service contract with a warranty provider that agrees to repair or replace certain items in your property during the contract term. It is not the same as insurance for your home, but it can provide some piece of mind to homeowners on a budget in case major components in your home need to be repaired or replaced. The main areas that home warranties cover include electrical, plumbing, heating and air, and appliances. It does not include coverage for major items like your roof or foundation.
How does it work?
While prices for home warranties vary by provider and packages, we see the average home warranty at a cost of $550 per year or $46 per month. Keep in mind, an additional service trade fee is still due at the time of service which is between $50 and $100 for each request. If your tenant calls in an issue with the front light and the dishwasher on the same day, the warranty company will send two different vendors and charge two trade fees.
Pros of home warranties for landlords:
- Can help manage the cost of repairs on what the warranty covers
- We tried really hard to think of more pros, but honestly we’re falling short!
Home warranties can be advantageous for new homeowners especially in providing peace of mind. The older your home and its components, the more likely you are to find value in a home warranty. We don’t find that homeowners get the same value in newer properties where repair costs are low. The good news is that the warranty company should take care of the item with no additional charge above the warranty and trade fee call for a normal service repair (i.e. appliance repair, hot water heater repair, etc.)
The only positive feedback we received is that a home warranty can bring a large return on big ticket items, such as water heaters and new HVAC units. Costs for the owners are fractions of the full price that you have to pay if you do not have a warranty.
Cons of home warranties for landlords:
- Delayed time for service
- Does not include preventative maintenance or turnover expenses
- Home warranties will try to repair over and over again to delay replacement, if at all possible
- Each policy comes with a long list of exclusions as well as it does not cover anything they consider to be “pre-existing” or with “too much wear and tear”
- Not set up to handle emergency situations
- Certain costs are not included in the warranty
- Can just be a "waste of money" if not used or big repairs do not happen
Delayed time for service
The most negative impact we have found from home warranties on your tenant and our team is the delayed time for service. Inputting a maintenance request can take in excess of an hour. Most warranty companies anticipate a vendor to make contact with us or your tenant within 72 hours. Warranty companies require parts to be shipped from their warehouse and can even further delay repairs. The vendors home warranties assign rarely follow up and we never receive a copy of the work order notes from the vendor.
Home warranty situations gone terribly wrong
We’ve had some terrible experiences this summer with American Home Shield, First American Home Warranty and Old Republic Home Warranty with regards to extended delay times for service. We had two different set of tenants without air conditioner for over four weeks this summer. We had another resident with no hot water for a month! Air conditioners going out is something we try to prepared for, so our company owns three portable a/c units for instances like these. We do not charge the tenants, or you, the owner, for this service, but we cannot loan out our a/c unit for a month, nor does the unit adequately cool an entire home during summer.
Even with persistent follow up, calls to supervisors and our local reps, the home warranty company was unable to get these repairs made in a realistic time frame. To say these tenants were just upset is a great understatement and does not describe the situation well. The property owners had to offer rent credits in all three scenarios. And No, the warranty company does not agree to reimburse or care about their inadequate response. Our management team sent apology notes and gift cards to our tenants. Your tenants do not love your warranty company; Therefore, they do not likely love you (or us).
Another example of a bad experience with home warranty companies comes from one of our homeowners with Choice Home Warranty that was refused a new outside unit even though their vendor stated the unit needs to be replaced. We’ve paid three service trade fees this year and despite the cost of the home warranty, the homeowner is getting estimates to replace the unit outside of the warranty. This is unfortunately more common than the warranty companies would like to admit. They are a business and are here to make money. They will delay replacement as long as possible and then can find a reason not to replace.
After-Hours Emergencies and your home warranty
Another grave concern regarding the warranty companies and your rental property is that the warranty companies are not set up to manage after hours and emergency services. If you have a home warranty and there is an emergency on the weekend, we will need to work outside of your home warranty. The best example of this is a plumbing emergency. Your home can suffer extensive water damage if a plumber is not dispatched immediately. If we have to shut the water off to the home for an extended period of time in order to mitigate damages to your home, you may be liable to pay for hotel reimbursement for your tenant while you wait on the home warranty. In these instances, you are losing money using the home warranty and it makes more sense to pay outside of the home warranty. Our company has a great relationships with our vendors. Most can provide same day service and will go the extra step to take care of emergencies. You won't have that with home warranties.
To sum it up, time is money
Tenants who wait extended periods of time for normal service are unhappy and an unhappy tenant will cost you. It is our goal to ensure all owners and tenants are happy with service and response times are critical in this satisfaction rating.
If you choose to have a warranty - We need your help
We are willing to work with your home warranty; However, we will need the following assistance from you in order to make it work.
- If you receive a phone call or email from the home warranty company, you must pass along that information to us as soon as possible.
- If you make payments directly to the home warranty company, please send us a copy of that documentation once received and paid.
- First American Home Warranty is now requiring the service trade fee to be paid by a credit card before the vendor will visit the property! We will need you to make this payment as not to delay service. For tax purposes, it’s best that we not place your service fees on our company credit card and bill your account.
- As we do not receive notifications for your plan expiration and renewal, you must be responsible for renewing your home warranty. Please check with us before you renew your home warranty so we can advise on different options and companies.
- Before you purchase a home warrant, do your research and be an educated consumer. Customers expect more from their warranty than it will deliver. Analyze the numbers. If you pay $550, and then have an average of four work orders per year with an additional trade fee, are you likely to make money, lose money, or break even? It may make more sense to set aside money each month in a savings account. You’ll be able to access these funds for any number of reasons including preventative maintenance, turnovers, vacancy, and repairs.
Home Warranty Company Ratings on the Better Business Bureau
We investigated the ratings on the BBB website to size up all the major home warranty providers in our area. If you have a few minutes, read some of the reviews of your home warranty company below. It does not seem we are the only ones struggling with getting satisfactory service. The rating scores are as follows:
- Old Republic Home Warranty - 3.8 out of 5 Read reviews here
- Home Warranty of America- 2.9 out of 5 Read reviews here
- First American Home Warranty- 2.8 out of 5 Read reviews here
- American Home Shield- 2.8 out of 5 (also noted for the longest wait times!) Read reviews here
- Select Home Warranty & Choice Home Warranty 2.5 out of 5 (we do not recommend using these home warranty companies as they don’t have adequate service or coverage in our area)
originally posted 11-13-2017
As the real estate market in Pensacola is improving, more hesitant or forced landlords are seeking to sell their tenant occupied rental properties in the Pensacola area. For the first time in years, accidental landlords are able to sell their properties. You may be looking at capital gains taxes and running out of the timeline allowed to sell. Check with your accountant for advice on this. If you are a landlord of a duplex, apartment, or lower end property, it is most likely advantageous to sell your property with a tenant who has an existing lease so this advice does not necessarily apply to you. Investors looking to purchase properties want a property with a current tenant in place so keep that in mind! Most of the properties in our rental portfolio will only be marketable to home owners looking to purchase an owner occupied residence.
If you are considering selling, consider our best practices for selling your rental property before making a move to list your home.
1. Approach your tenants first!
You may already have a ready, willing and able buyer. We just closed on a property this week for a landlord whose tenant purchased the home at fair market value and have another duplex under contract with current occupants.
2. Consider putting the property for rent or for sale when you place it on the rental market.
Unsure whether you want to try to lease or sell? Let us put it on the market for rent or for sale when your tenants give notice to vacate.
Consider the average time on the market for Pensacola homes for sale is approximately 90 days whereas the average time on the rental market is about 30 days. If you are really anxious to sell, it’s best to list it a month on the sales market prior to listing it for rent. While your home being on the sales market may turn away a few renters, it will not keep your house from selling and may even entice a buyer to act faster.
3. Review your lease agreement.
Does your tenant's’ lease agreement address the sale of your property? Remember, Florida Landlord Tenant Law does not cancel your lease agreement upon the sale of your property and the new owner is bound to fulfill this lease agreement unless your lease states otherwise.
Luckily, our lease agreement says that tenants can be given a 60 day notice to vacate and terminate their lease once the property is under contract for sale. Consider the tenants required notice period as well as the time it will take them to vacate before listing your rental property for sale.
If your tenant is in a lease agreement, it will be necessary to give your tenant proper notice to vacate. The law can be confusing in this area and largely depends on what your lease agreement says so if you are homeowner in the state of Florida without a Realty Masters lease, consult your lease agreement and Florida Landlord Tenant Law.
4. Consider your tenants lease expiration date.
Don’t put the property on the market for sale when tenants have just moved in or renewed their lease. They will be mad and a scorned tenant is not in your best interest. Think of how much effort is required to move, much less all the extra cost involved in moving. Your tenant will not be cooperative, happy, or good to your property during the time they reside in your home.
We find one of the best times to list your property is 2-4 months prior to your tenants move out date.
5. Consider deadlines for the sale and communicate a plan of action to your tenant.
If you do have interest in selling and don’t want a vacancy, the best course of action is to set a timeline up front to the tenant. It’s best to approach your tenants to explain your desire and necessity to sell and learn their intentions at the end of the lease renewal. Once knowing if they want to stay or are going to move regardless, you can plan an appropriate course of action. If they want to stay, set the expectations and timelines upfront.
For example, you could list the property 90 days prior to the lease expiration and remove it from the sales markes if it doesn’t sell within 60 days.
Be sure you communicate a plan you will agree to stick to prior to talking with your tenants.
6. Consider an incentive for the tenant.
Don’t expect your tenants to be as interested in selling your property as you are! Incentivize them to do so. For example, we have seen owners offer a slightly reduced monthly rent and a full return of the deposit even when repairs are necessary as a financial incentive for showings. We recommend offering an incentive to your tenant if you want a smooth sale.
One of the biggest hurdles when selling your tenant occupied home is delayed access to the property. Florida Landlord Tenant Law require reasonable notice as defined as 12 hours. Our company policy is to require next day notice in order to meet the threshold the law defines. Real estate sales happen in real time and don’t always provide advanced notice. You must realize your home will miss showings to qualified buyers due to this time delay. Renters become disheartened by the number of showings and feel their quality of life is decreased when their home is being marketed for sale. This can cause a tenant to be uncooperative in showings or inspections, vacate your property or even attempt to break their lease early.
Tenants have never sold a property and don’t understand the process. Showing your home to multiple sets of buyers repeatedly causes inconveniences and can be seen as an intrusion in privacy. Offering them a financial incentive leads to tenant buy in and will help you achieve your goal of selling your property.
7. Your rental home probably needs some sprucing up to be competitive in a real estate market with owner occupied homes.
Your tenants don’t necessary want your home to sell and most likely hope it does not sell! With competing interests, your property will be harder to sell than a normal owner occupied Pensacola area home.
Renters may not necessarily keep in the home in show ready condition. You can avoid negative showing feedback if you have a Realtor walk through your home prior to listing it. Listen to their feedback and make any cost effective changes possible prior to listing your house on the market for sale.
- Consider a home inspection prior to the sale so you can address issues that be present in your inspection. If your windows are fogging, roof has less than 5 years age, or your siding has a lot of wood rot, this will cause problems. Items like these are common and can be expensive repairs that may prevent you from selling your property to an FHA or VA buyer due to lending restrictions. It’s better to know and address as many items upfront to be sure your ready, willing, and able buyer will be able to purchase your home.
Are you interested in a market anaylsis for your rental property? Reach out to our sales team or email me!
originally posted 03-04-2017
The Pensacola Real Estate Market is strong!
We are taking a look back at 2016 Real Estate Statistics. The Florida Real Estate market, which was known to be hard hit by the recession, is showing continual signs of improvement. This is great news for homeowners and landlords but not necessarily great news for tenants.
Let David Keen, Realtor, give you a rundown of some of the highlights of the 2016 Pensacola Real Estate Market.
Here's a summary of what David Keen, Realtor, has to say.
Pensacola Real Estate Market
- Home Sale Prices in the Pensacola Area were up about 5% over 2015 Home Sale Prices
- Inventory is down and supply is limited
- New Construction makes up a large percentage of inventory
- Foreclosures and Short Sales are now only about 3% of active sales inventory
- Average time on the market for properties for sale in Pensacola is sitting at approximately 90 days
With days on the market down along with inventory and supply, sales prices are likely to continue to increase in the Pensacola area. As David mentioned, the distressed inventory made up nearly 29% of our active inventory just two January's ago and now the distressed inventory is down to about 3% of active inventory. Because so many of the sales comparables were distressed properties, it kept the market and appraisal values down. In comparison, today in 2017, nearly 1/3 of the active inventory are new construction, or brand new, homes.
As we are expecting an increase in interest rates in the coming months, many buyers are using this opportunity to purchase a larger home and sell their old home or deciding to make the leap from renter to homeowner.
Pensacola Rental Market
- Rental Rates have increased about 3% over 2015 rental rates. While this is not as strong as the improvement for the sales market, we expect tighter inventory to continue to drive rental rates up!
- The average rental rate in Pensacola is up to approximately $1,100
- Rental Supply is limited with nearly 1,000 fewer units on the single-family rental market than five years ago.
What do these statistics mean? The shrinking inventory of Pensacola area rental properties comes from forced landlords who previously could not sell their homes. These hesitant landlords leased their homes, condos, and townhomes out of necessity, not out of desire. Because of the improving real estate sales market, hestitant landlords are choosing to sell their properties rather then releasing when their tenants vacate. This trend began in 2013 but ramped up in 2016.
The increase in rental supply in 2014 comes from a huge increase in investor purchases as prices were down and distressed inventory was high. Now that it's harder to find affordable investments in the Pensacola area, the investor sales have finally leveled off although demand has not. We expect even more landlords to sell their rental properties this year further tightening the rental inventory. Because of these factors, rental prices will continue to increase over the coming years. This lack of inventory and increase in prices is forcing some renters to make the leap to homeownership earlier than they had desired!
Are you interested in building a rental portfolio? We have owners ready to sell their rental properties and know where you can find the best deals on auction sites, with tax deed sales, and with existing foreclosure inventory.
Do you have questions about the Pensacola rental market or the sales market? Reach out to our team for answers!
originally posted 03-02-2017
It's important to have the right mindset in order to be a successful landlord.
Recently, I have seen several stories online relating to violence between landlords and tenants. A tenant was stabbed in the Bronx; a landlord was killed in her house in Clearwater, Florida. It can be hard being a landlord, but it shouldn’t land you in a hospital, a jail, or a morgue.
In most cases, your tenants will rarely take as good of care of your property as you would. Your renters will not pay for maintenance costs willingly and they will most likely not properly prepare your property for the next resident. Your rental is going to have vacancy time and it will cost you money. It is very likely that you will have to pay for a very expensive repair at some point. These are the risks and challenges you accept when becoming a landlord.
When becoming a landlord you must have the right mindset to be accepting of these truths or the entire experience of being a landlord could drive you crazy.
If you go into being a landlord thinking, “I can find the over-achiever, grade A tenants every time!” you will probably be disappointed.
Another idea new landlords have is, “I just want my property to look like it did when I lived there”, but this is not a realistic long-term approach to being a landlord unless you contribute to keeping it that way. You must put forth effort, money, and energy into maintaining or improving your properties. Landlord Tenant Law does not allow landlords to charge tenants for every cost required to turn over a property for a new tenant. The majority of tenants will not do routine maintenance tasks such as pressure washing, small interior maintenance, or keeping up with the yard.
Instead, realize that your tenants are not going to put forth the same effort you may have and incentivize them to do more by equally contributing to routine and preventative maintenance.
Be very appreciative of your excellent tenants.
- The ones who pay rent on time, keep your place immaculate, plant flowers, and don’t complain or ask for a lot.
- Send them a thank you card or mail them a small gift during the holidays.
- Thank them for preserving your property like you would have and for increasing the property value while they did.
Be appreciative of your good tenants.
- The ones who paid a week late that one time when their car died, that don’t plant flowers, but that mow the yard timely.
- The ones that don’t clean right when they move and the walls need a little touch up but everything is intact and well cared for.
- By occupying your rental property, they are helping you to gain equity, to keep your credit score up, and to save for retirement.
You can even be appreciative of the bad tenants.
- Appreciate the ones who call every month with some new major issue because they’re not letting your house fall apart.
- Appreciate the ones who move in the middle of the lease because they paid rent timely and voluntarily turned over keys so no eviction was necessary.
- Be appreciative of the ones that stayed for five years even though they were so messy and Florida Landlord Tenant Law says you can’t charge them for fresh paint and new carpet. Appreciate them because they have saved you months of vacancy costs over the years.
Look at being a landlord as being a small business owner. With revenue comes expeses.
Routine and preventative maintenance is important for your rental investment and increases the value of your real estate asset. Properties with up-to-date features and in overall better condition will yield higher rents, be easier to maintain, and have less vacancy costs.
- Don’t be upset when your tenant calls in routine maintenance, be appreciative of the opportunity to increase the value of your long-term asset in smaller increments over time.
- It will be a relief when the A/C repair only costs you $350 because it didn’t require a brand new inside and outside unit.
- Be appreciative when the plumbing emergency doesn’t happen on a Sunday or a holiday and that it didn’t flood your downstairs.
Landlords who invest in real estate with the wrong mindset will constantly be disappointed with their tenants actions and will never appreciate the fact that another person is paying down their mortgage and helping them to build wealth with a real estate investment.
Do you have questions about becoming a landlord in the Pensacola, Florida area? Reach out to our team for honest advice on being a landlord.
originally posted 03-01-2017
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