Another Great Paint Option

IMG_4005

20 years ago, when I began my real estate investing career, I started using Walmart brand paint, satin finish. It was very adequate, covered well and didn’t splatter much. Through the years, it declined in quality and I switched to Behr, after checking out the comparisons in Consumer Reports.

I’ve really enjoyed their product. I don’t go with their top-of-the-line. I’ve used the Premium Plus satin and eggshell finishes and have been very impressed with the durability of each. Nice, thick formula, great coverage, for around $27/gallon. And considering the price of the Walmart paint had gone up to $18/gallon and I was having to recoat rooms and clean up splatters … totally worth the switch! I was frustrated with Walmart brand.

But then I came across a great deal at the Porter paint store near me. Their paints have always ranked highly as well, but I simply can’t justify spending over $40 for a gallon of paint! Then I found out that, if I opened a business account with them, I could purchase a gallon for around $28. What a fantastic deal! Definitely worth a try. So I’ve been using their Hi Hide satin for the past few months.

I’m going to stick with it, for sure. I can call them ahead and they’ll have it mixed and ready to go, and I totally love the paint. I think it more than measures up to Behr, and the friendly service and other great specials they run at their store are an added bonus. As a small business person myself, I seize every opportunity to support other small operations. “Here’s to the the little guy!”

Onward and upward …. ¬†ūüôā

Affordable Indianapolis … #1 Nationally!

CNNMoney came out with an article last month about the most — and least — affordable cities in the nation.¬† Not surprisingly, Indianapolis won out as the most affordable (tied with Syracuse).¬† When the housing market collapsed, we took a hit, yes.¬† But not nearly as catastrophic as most other areas in the country.¬† We just stay “steady” here, for the most part.

Here’s the link to the article:

http://money.cnn.com/gallery/real_estate/2013/11/14/affordable-housing-markets/6.html

With home sales up over 16% year-to-date and our market tightening up, housing in Indianapolis continues to be strong and stable.¬† Prices are on a steady rise as well.¬† Here¬†at “The Crossroads of America” we’re climbing back toward a healthier economy, and housing is leading the way.

Onward and upward!¬† ūüôā

Sweat Equity … Literally

So we’re expecting temperatures in the mid- to high 90s here in Indy this week, with heat indices up to 112.¬† And of course, that lovely mid-summer midwest humidity, with dewpoints in the 70s,¬†will create sauna-like conditions.¬† Ick.

But I have an empty house that needs a total redo.  Melissa moved out last week.  She did a good job of clearing everything out but the whole house (four bedrooms) needs to be painted, the carpet needs shampooing, and the kitchen and bathrooms need to be scrubbed.  So bring in the crew!  Um . . . that would be me.  When I saw this forecast on the news tonight I was less than thrilled because this rental has no central air.  Hmmm . . . the owner must be too damn cheap?  (LOL)

¬† My¬†middle-income¬†rentals have AC but I haven’t spent the extra $$ to have it installed in my other properties.¬† I allow my tenants to use window units.

So with this extreme heat, it’s going to be a long week for me, although I’m enlisting the help of a couple¬†friends who will help paint for a few hours.¬† I’ll be taking my trusty oscillating fan which will move the hot air around a bit, and Carrie will bring her Ipod and speakers¬†with some great tunes to help pass the time.¬† My “M.O.” has always been to do all I can on my own, to save money.¬† Paying someone else to do what I can do myself just doesn’t make sense.¬† (The paint job alone.would probably cost¬†$1000 or more.)

If you own rentals and also have a full-time job, you’ll have time constraints and won’t be able¬†to do much of your own work at your properties.¬† You’ll need to hire out some — or most — of the work and maybe get a property manager as well.¬†¬†But if you buy¬†smart (i.e. cheap) you’ll still make a good return on your investment.

But the more sweat equity you can put in, the better.¬† Every dollar I don’t pay out to someone else is a dollar that stays in my greedy little hands, and I like that.¬† So I’m putting a positive twist on this week’s work . . . I’m calling it my accelerated weight loss program.¬† Barb’s Boot Camp.¬† Wanna sign up?

Onward and upward!¬†¬† ūüôā

Meet Cyndi . . .

As I’ve said many times, I don’t allow pets in my rental properties. Some of my tenants can barely take care of themselves, let alone a pet. People sneak them in sometimes, much to my dismay, and I give the ultimatum . . . the pet leaves immediately, or the tenant and the pet leave together.

But I’m a reasonable landlord. Cyndi came to look at my two-bedroom house, below. It was a nice little place, with a two-car garage and a fenced yard. Through talking to her I learned she had a dog, Belle, who’d been with her more than four years. Hmmm . . .

Normally, I would’ve kindly denied tenancy to the dog, even if she vowed to keep her outside. But I just had a good gut feeling about Cyndi and I acquiesced, after she reassured me that Belle was totally house trained and didn’t chew furniture or doors, etc. I’ve not regretted that decision. Sometimes it’s okay to bend the rules, you know?
Here’s a recent picture of Cyndi and Belle:

Cyndi has lived there happily for the past year and a half, but has recently been battling breast cancer. She had surgery a few months ago and is going through treatments now. Although these are making her weak, she’s handling her disease with strength and courage, with her beloved dog Belle at her side. I’m blessed to have her as a tenant and wish I had more like her . . . so Cyndi, here’s to you!

Banks Being Stingy

As we all expected, the pendulum has swung.¬† We certainly needed the correction . . . the banks had been way too liberal in the early 2000’s and that’s how we got into this mess.¬† But it seems the pendulum has swung too far in the other direction now.

With the economy still in a wobbly position, mortgages need to be easier to get, not harder.¬† But the opposite is the case.¬†The ten largest mortgage companies denied more mortgages (over 25%) in 2010 than in 2009.¬† That number was closer to 30% in Indiana.¬† A recent Wall Street Journal article shows the percent of mortgage denials on a state-by-state basis, and you might be surprised at which states come in with the highest % of denials.¬†¬† Here’s the link to the article: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304569504576405660006330644.html?mod=djemRealEstate_h

The main reasons cited for loan denial were: insufficient collateral, poor credit and inadequate debt-to-income ratios.¬† Even those with decent credit scores are being denied.¬† Something’s gotta give!¬† This bleak situation is dissuading even capable buyers from attempting to obtain a mortgage.

I guess it’s good news for those of us who¬†invest in rental properties . . . People aren’t buying homes right now.¬† Either they can’t, or they’re concerned about the economy and are waiting.¬† So, they’re choosing to rent.¬† So as investors, if we have absolutely great credit and can get a mortgage, or if we have cash to buy a great rental, life is good!

The rental market is strong and will remain strong for several years.¬† The housing market will lag behind the job market and economy as a whole, and the banks aren’t doing the housing market any favors by being stingy with their loan money.

It’s a vicious cycle . . . sigh . . . onward and sideways?

Collect Rent the Easy Way

Collecting rent is always an issue, with every landlord at every level.¬† (Show me the money!)¬†¬† Many landlords I know make personal trips to their rental properties on a weekly, bi-weekly or monthly basis — whenever rent is due — just to pick it up in person.¬† And somehow, they go home empty-handed way too often.

Sometimes the tenant isn’t even there . .¬†. purposely gone for the day?¬† Also, the excues are endless:¬† the employer screwed up the paycheck, the tenant was sick a few days durng the pay period so the check was short, the car broke down so the rent money went to the repair shop, the kids were sick and required expensive antibiotics, yadda yadda yadda.¬† I’ve heard it all, and I’m sure some of the excuses are valid . . .

The question is, how do you save yourself those repeated, needless trips, especially with the price of gas these days?  My solution has been to give all my tenants pre-addressed, pre-stamped envelopes to send their rent.  Another solution is to set up automatic deposit into your account from theirs, if they have one.  (Some lower-income tenants do not.)

The only reason I¬†go down there to collect rent is when my tenant is “on the chopping block” and it’s a case of “pay up or leave, or be evicted.”¬† That trip is worth my time.

So . . . back to the excuses.¬† Some are valid.¬† Maybe most are.¬† You’ll never know.¬† But what you do know is this.¬† You’re into real estate investing to make money, not to provide people with free housing.¬† When they don’t pay, you must make a written plan — signed by both of you — for them to get caught up quickly.¬† If they default on it, eviction is filed immediately.¬† (That’s part of the written plan.)

Unfortunately, you can’t run this business with your heart.¬† It just doesn’t work.¬† Trust me — I tried it, and I nearly ran myself into the ground!¬† My nonpaying tenants were content, but I was going broke . . . what’s wrong with that picture?¬† Hmmm . . .

Make your rent collection as easy as possible and remember, if they pay, they can stay.¬† Otherwise, it’s time to end the relationship.