Cheap and Effective

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I often use Easy Off oven cleaner (fume free) to clean porcelain or fiberglass tubs and showers. I can spray it on and come back the next day to finish up the job. But I’ve also found this product works extremely well, in less time.

The Works can be found pretty much anywhere … Walmart, dollar stores, Menards and other big box stores, etc. The secret is to spray it on and let it sit for five or ten minutes before you clean it off. Make sure you totally coat the surface.

As you can see from the picture above, this tub had a mother load of dirt, soap scum and hard water build-up on it. I was actually able to get most of it off with just a terry cloth rag! For the worst areas, I did use my Scotch Brite dark green scrubber, but didn’t have to use much “elbow grease” at all.

I’m definitely adding The Works to my bag of tricks … I’d suggest you add it to yours as well … less time at work means more time to play.   :-)

Onward and upward!

Another Nice Upgrade

 

IMG_3416FullSizeRenderMost of my rental properties are 100 years old. The major operating systems (heat, wiring, etc.) have been updated, of course. And with some of them, I replaced cabinetry along with the initial rehab. This duplex had older wooden cabinets that had a few good years left in them. I had ceramic flooring and a new bath installed last year, and after a recent move-out it was time to update the kitchen.

I used stock, pre-finished oak cabinets from my local big box store, and one of the formica “grant lookalike” countertops they keep in stock. I think they look fabulous, and this place should rent quickly.

My investment goal 20 years ago was to buy and hold, for income and long-term investment. And with each improvement I make beyond the initial rehab, Im:

  • Making my rental more attractive to potential tenants, thus drawing a better quality renter.
  • Improving the value of the home itself, thus making it a more attractive purchase to a buyer, when it comes time to jump into my exit strategy.

So, every improvement I make, I keep these points in mind. Is it adding value in the eyes of my next tenant? Is it adding value down the road, when I decide to sell? If so, then go for it!

“Thanks” Goes a Long Way

As we move through the holiday season each year, it’s easy to get caught up in the stress of schedules, gift buying, rushing to get through items on our lists, etc. It can be overwhelming and frustrating — not at all representative of the season!

I try to be mindful, especially throughout December and into January, of the blessings that exist in my life, and thank those who make my work easier:

  • Tenants who pay their rent in a timely manner and keep their places clean
  • Contractors who are reliable, show up on time and don’t charge me outrageous prices for their services
  • Business associates who respect me enough to refer others to me
  • My friends and family who lend a listening ear after a particularly difficult day, and who love me “no matter what”

Life is tough. But in a sense, struggles and loss help us appreciate and savor the things that really matter. So take a minute and think about the people who matter in your work/personal life. And thank them.  :-)

Onward and upward!

And a happy, prosperous 2016 to you all.

AAOA

AAOA recently invited me to do a guest piece on their site…thought I’d repost it here. American Apartment Owners Association is a very useful organization (I’m a member) for all types of real estate owners/investors across the nation. Their site offers multiple forms and services to enhance and streamline the lives of people like me! Here’s the piece I contributed:

http://www.american-apartment-owners-association.org/property-management/landlord-quick-tips/know-time-go-2/#sthash.IEAg2vSi

Rubberized Flooring?

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I’m always looking for durable flooring to put in kitchens at my Indianapolis rentals — something easy to clean, easy on the feet, and a surface that won’t show dirt or scuff marks. I came across Amorim Sports Floors at Lowe’s and thought I’d try it in one of my smaller kitchens. (It’s not cheap, at around $100 for a 4×10′ roll.)

As you can see in the picture, it’s black with a little fleck in it, which makes it great for basements, playrooms, workshops, pet or utility rooms, and in my case, a kitchen! This floor comes with a five year warranty, and is easy to clean and install, with a utility knife and a straight edge.

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You can lay it and secure it with double-sided tape, to keep it from moving around. I had my handyman do it for me, and he removed the quarter round, laid the floor and reinstalled the quarter round over it.

The floor’s been down for over a year now and still looks new. I’m done with sheet vinyl … it’s just not durable. I do have ceramic in a couple of places, but in homes that are sometimes 100+ years old, you often have to install a new subfloor before laying the tile, and it can be a very costly project. With this type of floor, it doesn’t matter if the floor isn’t perfect in every area. And it’s so easy on the feet!

I’m going to give it more time before giving it a 4-star rating, but it may be a great option for future kitchen, bath and laundry areas. Amorim may be the answer!

Gotta Love It

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You don’t have to have a lot of money to keep your home looking nice. Here’s proof of that. This little house is on a street in downtown Indianapolis, near one of my rental properties. It’s definitely a lower-income demographic.

Regardless of the season, the family that lives here manages to “dress it up” outside — I see the mom outside in the nice weather, trimming and weeding, sprucing up here, there and everywhere. The potted plants, yard art, wind chimes, et. make me smile.

With the holiday season just around the corner, I’m excited to see what’s in store for this happy little place … More pictures to come!  :-)

 

Worst Landlord Mistakes

I’ve made my share of mistakes as a landlord of 20+ years. And I’ve heard others lament their own “dumbass attacks” as well. But that’s often how we learn. The sad thing I often see is people doing the same stupid stuff, again and again, and then complaining about the results they’re getting.

“Insanity is doing the same (dumb) thing over and over, and expecting different results.” Can’t remember who said it, but it’s so true!

Here are some of the biggest mistakes made by landlords:

  • Not having a comprehensive lease that covers all the crazy stuff that can happen at the rental. You have to protect yourself, so that you can evict people who mistreat you, their neighbors or the home.
  • Not following the lease. Even if you have a good lease, if you let people slide, if you let them violate the terms … then why have a lease? Make sure the rules/boundaries of your lease are clear, and stick to them!
  • Being a friend instead of maintaining a respectful business relationship. You have to draw the line between business and friendship. Of course you want to develop trust and a friendly relationship. But if you become emotionally involved, it’s hard to tow the line when things go wrong.
  • Being too quick to fill a vacancy. Yes, this business is about earning income. But filling that vacancy with a less-than-qualified tenant will come back to bite you. Save yourself the headache and wait on a good one.
  • Letting maintenance issues slide at the rental. I’ve seen this happen way too often. Exteriors fade, become a little run down, interiors as well. How can you attract good tenants when the place is looking tired and neglected? It’s not gonna happen!
  • Allowing people to stay too long, not paying. I’ve been guilty of this one, more than I’d like to admit. I’ve gotten better about it over the years. But I know people who have tenants that haven’t paid for 6-8 months. Whaaat? This is an income-producing business … this bullet goes hand in hand with the one on “not following the lease” but deserved a separate mention because it’s so common. Evictions aren’t difficult to file and complete. They’re an unfortunate part of what we do, but sometimes they’re necessary.

The main reason people leave this career is because of tenant management issues. It’s not an easy job. Landlords get burned out and just quit. But if they’d avoid the pitfalls above, maybe they’d find a bit more peace and sanity in their world!