Another Facelift

This is a duplex I bought in the late 90s … it was aluminum siding — still is — but was looking a little tired, to say the least. I recently sold it on a land contract to a wonderful family, who started making improvements immediately. FSCN0518IMG_2874

Take a look at this exterior before and after! They’re not quite done, but they’ve replaced some windows, made it into a single family home by opening up the downstairs living area, replaced the front door, and repaired and painted the siding and brick front porch. They also tore out the old shrubbery and put in new plants. They put a big vegetable garden in back.

This home is over 100 years old, but is built better than many of our newer homes today.

These people wouldn’t have been able to purchase a home the traditional way, as they have no credit and the banks have tightened the purse strings so much.

They gave me a large down payment and I didn’t charge them much for the home … they’ll own it within the next couple of years. They’re enjoying the pride of home ownership, and I’m so happy to have helped them achieve this dream … we’ll definitely maintain a relationship going forward. :-)

Deck Renew!

FullSizeRender 2        I do lots of work on my own rental properties in Indianapolis and somehow manage to neglect some items at my own house! It had been years … and I do mean YEARS … since I’d treated or even power washed my deck. It was grey and tired-looking. My friend Jerry brought his power washer over, even though I had one I thought would do the trick. He had bought it a few months ago at Costco for around $300. and it was so much more powerful and effective than mine!

I’d bought some Krud Kutter deck wash solution, but we didn’t even use it. (Check out this video.) His machine is a Subaru gas-powered unit with an electric start. Fabulous! Anyway, I was really impressed with the results and how quickly the job got done using the Subaru.

I’ll let the deck dry out for about 36 hours and spray coat it with Rain Guard, which came well recommended and got excellent reviews. My deck is only about 400 square feet of total surface, and a gallon ($10) covers about 80-100 square feet, so this is a cheap face lift for a very tired-looking deck! Woohoo!


Stopping Water Leaks


It’s official … July goes down as the wettest on record here in Indianapolis. Farmers, golf course and other business owners, and homeowners everywhere are trying to stay afloat. It’s been tough.

As a landlord here in Indianapolis, this summer’s been a challenge for sure. Incredible amounts of rain have fallen throughout the city, and homes and basements have flooded everywhere. The ground has become so saturated, the water has nowhere to go and it comes right through cement block basements.

Years ago, I came across a couple products that helped seal cement block basement walls. They’re UGL Fast Plug, and UGL latex-base Dry Lok. The Fast Plug is a powder cement product that you mix with cold water and apply to the wall — quickly! This stuff sets up fast. You press it into the holes, and it even stops active leaks. But again, you have to work quickly. So, it’s best to mix small amounts at a time. I use a throw-away container to mix it. Your putty knife will clean up with water. Also, I wear thin latex gloves to apply the product.

When that dries, you can paint the entire wall with the latex Dry Lok paint product. It’s really thick, and it is also a sealer. I use a thick-nap, inexpensive roller sleeve — 1/2″ is good — and I just throw it out when I’m done.

These products are a good alternative to having someone come and dig down on the exterior to seal the block from the outside, which is hugely expensive. And I know, from experience, that it often works.

It takes a little time, but why not save some money and try the DIY route if you can? (And pray for a drier summer next year!)

Best Grass Trimmer Ever …

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I detest yard work. I’m always looking for the most efficient ways to get it done quickly and painlessly.

For years, I used gas-powered grass trimmers. They drove me crazy, with their undependable starts, refilling the gas chamber, refilling the string, etc. (I swear, the directions on those things are written by people who have English as their second or third language. Between the photographs and the instructions, I usually end up wanting to throw the machine in the creek out back!)

Anyway, I came across this Black & Decker battery-powered, super lightweight trimmer a couple years ago and have been thrilled with it. (Well, as thrilled as I can be with any type of work revolving around a yard, that is.) It’s the 18v GrassHog, and it came with an extra battery.

I get enough charge to do two rounds of trimming, then I just switch it out for the other battery — very simple — which I keep on the charger.

I haven’t had to replace the string yet, but I’m betting it will be as easy as the operation of the GrassHog itself. Fabulous!


Saw this contraption on the way to one of my Indianapolis rental properties. Whaaat?


I imagine it’s some type of heat source, being vented right through that window and up the side of the house. Wow …

I’m surprised the Board of Health hasn’t tagged this owner and sent a threatening letter. Crazy! If this is the scene outside, I can only guess what’s going on inside!

Watch Your Back

Whether you’re a landlord, property manager or real estate broker — I am all of these —  personal safety issues pop up frequently, and we need to be aware and prepared to deal with them before they occur.

Here are a few of my personal guidelines that keep me safe.

  • Never show a property after dark. NO exceptions.
  • Never walk in ahead of the person. Always position yourself between the applicant and an exit.
  • Don’t let them out of your line of sight.
  • Pre-screen them when they call you to set up the appointment. For example, if you find they want to squeeze six people into a two-bedroom rental, or if their income doesn’t qualify, you’ll save everyone time by denying them on the phone.
  • Don’t give out any personal information. (This doesn’t apply for real estate broker situations, of course.)
  • If you carry protection, have it with you.
  • Have 911 programmed into your cell phone. Everyone should do this, but for those of us meeting total strangers to show homes, it’s a good back-up, should all hell break loose.
  • Make sure the entire house, including windows, is locked and secure upon leaving.

Hopefully, you’ll never be put in a precarious situation but it’s like my mom always used to say … “Better safe than sorry.”

Thanks, Mom.  :-)

Tenant of the Month


Meet Shuyu Li … his friends here know him as Terence. I stopped in while he was having a lunch of Chinese noodles, juice, and a little touch of pop culture on the side … the energy drink! LOL

Born and raised in China, Terence is attending grad school here at IUPUI in furniture design. He was given some scholarship monies to attend.

He responded to my ad on Craig’s List, which I also posted on Postlets. (When you put a property on Postlets, it automatically goes to Zillow, HotPads, Trulia and several other internet sites, all free of charge. Postlets is another excellent marketing tool I use to get the word out about my Indianapolis rental properties.)

I mentioned the proximity of my property to IUPUI in my ad, hoping to attract someone like Terence — a serious student, not a party animal! He lives in one of my duplexes, which is about 100 years old but very sturdy and in great condition, everything updated.

There was one glitch on his application. He wasn’t employed so he volunteered to show me his bank account balance as verification of funds/ability to pay. It was in Chinese. LOL! Anyway, we worked through it and he’s been fantastic. He lives simply … Terence ordered all of his household furnishings on the internet (a bed, a shelving unit, his card table where he’s sitting to eat Chinese noodles in this photo, etc.) and had them delivered. He purchased a bike to commute to school, which is about 1-2 miles from the house.

On school breaks, he travels to California or Hawaii, where he has some relatives. He’s hoping to have his parents come from China to visit sometime this summer. I hope to stop by and meet them while they’re here, although I don’t know if they speak English at all …

Terence has been an excellent tenant — here’s to diversity!  :-)