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How to be a better real estate agent

3 Things Investors Must Analyze When Buying A Rental Property

By | Agents, brokers, Property Management, real estate, Real Estate Investment

Thinking about investing in residential real estate? Maybe you already own a few residential properties and you are looking to expand? You may or may not already know, there is a lot to consider when determining what kind of property will make an ideal candidate as a rental property. It is important to analyze every property you are considering as an investment; not doing so can be a costly mistake. To help you make the best investment, we have broken down what makes a great rental property.

  1. Crunch the Numbers

When you are digesting all the factors of a property to determine whether it would be a good rental, it does not stop at just the math. But an investment can start or not start depending on the math, so be sure to break everything down and analyze all the numbers as you work towards your decision.

Rent-to-Value Ratio

First and foremost, what is the rent-to-value ratio ratio of the property? Rent-to-value is one year of rent divided by the price of the property gives you the gross rent yield. There is not a hard and fast rule for where the gross rent yield should be, but typically they fall between 3 and 8 percent, depending on the location of the property. Usually the better investment is the property that has the higher rent yield. It is not an absolute law of an investment’s success, but knowing a property’s rent-to-value ratio will help determine which properties may be better suited as rental properties over others.

Cash Flow

Another factor to think about when considering the viability of a property as a rental is its cash flow. This is the monthly rent minus all expenses associated with the property; including mortgage, taxes, insurance, HOA dues, maintenance, vacancies, etc. Once everything is calculated, are you happy with the number you have? If it is much lower than you would like, maybe you should consider a different property.

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  1. Location, Location, Location

Real estate professionals love to say that, but it is true! Location is huge factor when it comes to investing in real estate. Several factors in regards to the property’s location will determine whether your investment is fruitful, so it is crucial to consider all of them and to do your research.

Already Popular Or Still Rising

What is the neighborhood like? Is it well-established, up-and-coming, something else entirely? Established neighborhoods are a great place invest; property values are usually stable so it is less risky of an investment. However, that can also make it more difficult to make money. If the initial cost of the property is higher, there is less room for profit.

On the other hand, though it is more risky, investing in an up-and-coming neighborhood may give you more room for profit. You may be able to get a property at a lower cost, and though initially profits may be lower, as the neighborhood becomes more established, property values and rent prices tend to increase. The payoff can be high, but there is also more risk involved.

Some neighborhoods can take years to become more established and some others never take off as expected. If possible, find out if any building permits were issued nearby? Are there any new businesses moving in or future developments planned? This will help give you an idea of the speed of growth in the neighborhood. To ensure that you make the best investment for you, be diligent in your research and consider talking your plans over with an expert who is well-versed in neighborhood growth and real estate trends.

Education Is So Important

The neighborhood schools may not be important to every potential tenant, but for the ones who find it important, it can be a major importance. The quality of the schools in the area are often a top factor when they choose where to live. Check out the quality of not only the public schools in the area of the property you are considering but also any nearby private schools.

Neighborhood Watch

Nobody wants to live in an area that is a hotbed for criminal activity. The crime rate will play a major role in not only the value of the property you are considering but also the ease in which you will find tenants. You should be able to acquire updated crime statistics for the area you are considering. Pay close attention to violent crimes, vandalism, and theft, and look for any signs of increase or slowdown in criminal activity.

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  1. The Property

Now that you have considered the location and the dollars and sense of the investment, let us now think about the physical property. It is not as cut-and-dry as just choosing a property that looks nice and is in your prices range; there are several factors to consider.

What Type of Property is It?

There are many different types of residential properties available so one of the first things you need to decide is what type of property are you looking for. A single-family home or a condominium is great for any investor, but if you are a first time or beginning investor they are the ideal property.

Single-family homes are nice because they tend to attract long-term tenants such as young families or couples looking to start a family, so you will not have to worry as much about vacancy. Condominiums are nice for a beginner because they tend to be low maintenance. Owners are responsible for interior repairs; this leaves any exterior repairs as the responsibility of the Home Owners Association.

However, that can bring about another issue. HOA fees can be high so it is important to consider those into your figures when determining the potential value of the investment. Also, make sure you look into the financial health of the HOA because you do not want to end up footing the bills for a struggling HOA.

If you are a more experienced investor, you may be thinking about a multi-unit investment. This type of property has multiple tenants in one building and can range from a duplex to an apartment building and anything in between. With this type of property, tenants could solely occupy the units or you could live in one unit with tenants occupying the remaining units. Living in one of the unit could be a beneficial way for you to save money personally and possibly save money on fees involved in financing a multi-unit property.

Whether you are a beginner or an experienced investor, meeting with a real estate professional to discuss what type of property is ideal for your individual situation will help you make the best possible investment.

Skip the Fixer Upper

Many people like to purchase property that needs moderate to major amounts of work, thinking that they can make a lot of money. Properties that require a lot of work can be bought at significantly lower price, but they are best avoided by those new to investing in real estate. Unfortunately, many people end up spending more money than they planned and do not make the kind of money they expected. Do not get us wrong here, there are people that do this and are very successful at it. We have found that, in the beginning, it is better to leave the fixer uppers to those that already do it well.

There is a lot to consider when purchasing a residential property as an investment and it can require a certain amount of legwork to determine what is best for you. Consulting an expert in the field will help take some of the work out of your hands. Here at Lofty, we do just that—we have the experience and the knowledge at our fingertips to help relieve you of the extra work and help you make the right real estate investment choices. Talk to us and see how we can help you live the life you deserve.

Speak with one of our experts to find out how we can supercharge your investment.

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What Does An Amazing Property Management Company Do?

By | Agents, brokers, Property Management, real estate, Real Estate Investment

Imagine a world where you never have to worry about finding the right tenants, collecting rent, and getting a plumbing call in the middle of the night on one or many of your investment properties. Well, it is possible with the right property management company. Here are a few things an amazing property management company can do for you...

Market Value

Property managers start by evaluating your property. After performing a detailed inspection of the interior and exterior of your property, which includes taking photos and/or videos of the property, a great property manager can make suggestions for repairs both cosmetic and necessary—repairs that can increase the value of your property and make it more appealing to prospective tenants.

Next, a property manager will seek to determine the fair market rate for rentals. They conduct a comprehensive comparison study of the rentals in your area, to discover the amount of rent that is considered “fair market value” in your area, for your property type and features.

When it is time to search for a new tenant, they will handle the heavy lifting of the leasing process. Whether they show the property individually, list it on the MLS with a lockbox, or some combination of both, a great property manager will market your listing in unique ways to find your ideal renters out of many potential renters.

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Creative Marketing

Carrying a great deal of experience when it comes to marketing, a great property management company can easily design effective ads that will really get perspective tenants attention. Utilizing professional photography and graphic design, a great property manager can prepare print ads, digital ads and network your property with other realtors.

As the calls from prospective tenants start rolling in, they can provide additional information about the property, with a keen sense of how to answer questions you may have had difficulty with on your own. When it is time to show the property to prospective tenants, a great property manager will handle it without hesitation—even during “off” hours like regular business operating times when you may be occupied with other responsibilities.

Tenant Selection

A great property management company is likely already outfitted to present your prospective tenants with application materials that are in line with federal and local housing laws. This means that leasing is sound, safe and secure with a great property manager.

Tenants expect to be required to clear certain verifications in order to be truly eligible to rent from you. Professional property managers know this and are well-prepared to run the necessary background checks to ensure that your prospective tenants are qualified. They will meet with the prospective renters on your behalf and collect the necessary background information to run the verifications.

Leasing

Even if you already have a lease to use, a great property manager is sure to have a lease ready-to-go that is at least as secure and safe as yours, and can set up the lease agreement within all the specific local, state and federal guidelines. They will go over the lease agreement with the tenants to ensure that the terms are well understood—especially addressing the lease due date payment and any fees associated with late payments. Property managers also can ensure that all the instruments have been executed correctly and all signatures are received. When the lease is in place, the property manager will work with your new tenant to secure a move-in date.

Moving In

Great property managers will always seek to perform a comprehensive move-in walkthrough of your property with your new tenants. This is an outstanding way to manage expectations and establish accountability. By making careful notes, a great property manager will learn and share with both parties the condition of the property at the time of move-in. The walkthrough provides an arena for your new tenant to voice concerns and request maintenance on items you may have overlooked or forgotten, while you are well-informed of the condition of your property at the time of the move-in. This can be invaluable in the event of difficulty down the line.

Lease Payment Collection

You can count on your property manager to collect the rent, address late payments and collect late fees on your behalf. In the event things take a turn for the worse, they will even send out demand letters, quit and eviction notices.

Provide Legal Support

Expert property managers are equipped to supply and manage all necessary legal forms and documents for eviction proceedings. They can act as the owner’s representative in court, or work with law enforcement when necessary to remove tenants that are unlawfully occupying property.

In the event of a legal action, your property management company can provide advice or qualified attorney referrals. Great property managers can help the landlord to stay in compliance with all legally binding and necessary activities to include proper documentation.

Financial Service Support

In addition to keeping track of you tenant’s rent collection and security deposit, your property management company can provide accounting services, make payments on your behalf and maintain detailed documentation and expense records. Your monthly income and expense reports will be delivered in the form of performance reports.

Count on your property manager to keep historical financial records for easy access when needed. When it comes to contractors, your property manager will provide tax documents like 1099 forms and other records to ensure ease of tax preparation. You may also find your property manager can give you reliable tax advice about which deductions can be taken.

Work Orders

When it is time for maintenance or a service request, your excellent property manager has a crew of fully-vetted contractors ready to work. They will work with your budgets and take responsibility for the project management just as an expert general contractor would. No rehab or remodeling project is too large or small for an expert property management firm.

As the seasons change in Chicago, the need will arise for landscaping in the spring and summer months, as well as leaf and snow removal in fall and winter, respectively. You can count on your expert property management company to cover you so your tenant stays happy and safe. A 24 hour maintenance phone number provided to your tenant will also work to foster trust and peace of mind.

Moving Out

As with the move-in walkthrough, your property manager will perform a detailed move-out walkthrough inspection of your tenant’s unit, noting damages and necessary repairs. Count on your expert property manager to ensure that your tenant’s security deposit is returned or rightfully applied toward necessary repairs. They will also make sure the keys are returned or the locks changed, and that the unit is deep-cleaned and ready for a new tenant. Marketing begins immediately after an availability date is established.

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These are just some of the services that a property management company can provide. If you need or want additional services, contact your property management company to see what they have to say.

Here at Lofty, we are excited about all the ways we can be of service. Talk to us today and see how we can help you live the life you deserve.

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One Overlooked Issue for Chicago Home Workplaces

By | Agents, brokers, home buyer, home buying, Property Management, Property Managemnt, real estate, Real Estate Investment

For those who might be dubious about flexjobs.com’s contention that 75% of employees “are less distracted at home,” a survey from Atlassian, a developer of team productivity software, offers some common-sense confirmation: “Seventy-six percent prefer to avoid the office when they need to concentrate on an important task.”

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Naturally, the rising tide of Chicago home workers creates a corresponding surge in the need for Chicago home workplaces—areas fully or partially given over to business activity. We have already seen an increase in the interest that prospective buyers are expressing (and Realtor® Magazine predicts that home offices “will become a hot amenity for the long term”).

All this points to at least one wrinkle that hasn’t as yet been given much attention: workplace safety. The requirement for things like smoke detectors, adequate lighting and ventilation, and unobstructed walkways are second nature to human resource professionals—but few Chicago home workers have probably given them much thought. The immediate need for a strong Wi-Fi connection and comfortable seating are more likely to have drawn their attention. Yet, according to the government’s telework.gov website, ensuring workplace safety is the remote worker’s responsibility. Given the number of hours now being spent in Chicago home offices, that is worth treating seriously.

At Lofty Real Estate, it is our job to track the latest ins and outs of the everchanging Chicago home marketplace—and to share them with our clients that are buying, selling, and/or looking for property management for their real estate investment.

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Benefits & Drawbacks of Raising Rent

Buying Multi-Units Vs SFH as Investment Properties

By | Agents, home buying, Property Management, real estate, Real Estate Investment

Real estate in Chicago is a pro’s game. The dilemma of making a decision to buy a multi-unit or a single-family home is not strange to most property investors. Placing the merits and demerits side by side, and considering what works best for you and your investment goals is key to making the right decision.

Investing in Chicago real estate requires a solid discernment of the real estate scene. It’s easy to stare at a few numbers and just decide that single-family homes are better than multi-units and vice versa.

To completely figure out what represents a better real estate investment decision, let’s look at the two types of properties. Then we’ll do a compare and contrast and let you be the judge.

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Single-Family Units- Merits of Investing

A single-family home (SFH) is a property with only one family (unit). It’s a multi-unit when there is more than one family or tenants living in different units of the building.

There are many benefits of investing in Chicago real estate. and even more when you go with a single-family unit. Let’s look at these for size.

1. Ease of Selling Off

It’s easier to sell off a single-family home. This, in fact, means that you can quickly make a profit on the sale of a SFH than when your property is multi-units. There is also less stress in finding interested buyers when you’re trying to sell a single home.

 2. Faster Appreciation of Property

Single-family units appreciate quite faster than multi-units. Although the difference is often not so large, it’s not negligible either. The appreciation value is a reason you might want to consider when buying a single home because you’re likely to sell (if you decide to sell it) for a considerably higher price than you purchased it.

This also depends of course, on the duration between when you purchased and when you decide to sell it off.

3. Lesser Tenant Issues

With a single-family home, you’ll get fewer phone calls about maintenance and issues going on at the house. You may also not bother employing the services of a Chicago property manager. Since you have only one family on your property, you can self-manage on your own. Collecting rent monthly will also be easier.

4. Less Strenuous Maintenance

There is usually less wear and tear in single-family house units, (well, except the tenants are out to destroy you). In a single-family home, it’s easier to track damages and ensure the house in great condition.

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Merits of Investing in a Multi-unit

Multi-units are also profitable, with some advantages over single-units. Let’s see the merits here.

1. Better Security with Covering Operation Costs

With a multi-unit, you have better chances of having all the fees covered by your tenants. The rent from multiple tenants will cover operational costs. With more people, and a better security management system in place, you are less likely to have theft or crime issues.

2. Regular Cash flow

With more than one tenant paying rent and bills every month, you have a regular cash flow. With excellent maintenance and tenant welfare, you stand a chance of never having a unit in your house empty for any long period of time.

3. Less Charges from Property Manager

Chicago property managers give discounts on every unit in a multi-unit property. At the end of the day, you’ll pay less fees to your property manager per unit than you would in a SFH (single family housing unit). That’s because the discounts you enjoy on multi-units are not extended to SFH.

4. Larger Pool of Tenants

When it’s time to put a new tenant in one of your units, Chicago brokerage companies can help you do a good and swift job of filling up your multi-unit. It’s easier for them to handle than SFH because more people are interested in renting a unit in a building rather than a single-family house.

Multi-unit Vs Single Family Home

To make an intelligent decision free of sentiments, let’s compare them under the following headings, using cold hard facts:

  • Investment risk
  • Expansion
  • Tenant Issues
  • Cash flow
  • Sale
  • Maintenance
  • Appreciation
  • Renters pool and Brokerage

Investment Risk

Single-family units are sometimes highly risky as a tenant can vacate any time. If this happens and you can’t find someone to replace them immediately, you’re going to bear all the costs of mortgage, taxes, and maintenance all by yourself.

There’s a certain comfort in knowing that with a multi-unit, you’ll always have someone living on your property and the rent will cover the costs of the mortgage, maintenance, utility, and so on.

Expansion

Expanding a single-family unit is easier. With a multi-unit, you’re more or less stuck with the original architecture forever. Except, of course, you’re ready to bear the cost of nearly tearing the building down and starting again.

Tenant Issues

Issues with tenants are more frequent in a multi-unit. Because there are more people living there, there’s a greater possibility of clashes and the need for conflict resolution.

Cash flow

Cash flow in multi-units is more frequent and dependable. If your property is well managed, you’ll hardly find yourself bearing the costs of maintenance by yourself. In single units, you may not have that level of security. It’s only one tenant paying and that’s it.

Sale

It’s easier to get a large pool of buyers for single-family homes than for multi-units. This means you can find more reasonable Chicago brokerage fees with SFH. Multi-units may not attract 100% brokerage since there’s more work in finding your buyers and keeping up with payment of rent.

Maintenance

For SFH, it’s usually higher. As for Multi-unit properties, due to the fact that more people live in your multi-unit property, maintenance costs may also rise. In fact, you’d have to employ the services of a Chicago property management company to help you keep up with this. A good choice would be Lofty property management company.

Appreciation

Appreciation rates in Chicago real estate have been different over the years. Of course, SFH appreciates slightly faster. But in any case, if your multi-unit is well maintained, it can appreciate just as well. Note however that if your SFH’s location is bad, you may run into serious debt.

The verdict: Single Family Home or Multi-unit?

This is not a clear-cut choice. In a busy location, you may want to trust multi-units more. There’s every chance that the units will always be occupied at every point in time.

Before buying a SFH, consider if you will be able to foot the bills of taxes, electricity, mortgage, and the rest in case there’s ever a long duration between when a tenant leaves and when another comes.

In Conclusion

There is no clear-cut winner. Depending on the location of the property, SFH may be a better option. The merits of multi-units are obvious as well, but if tenant issues and maintenance costs are not for you, you may just be better off with SFH. Either ways, there’s always one that’s more suitable in a particular situation.

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Why Buying and Owning Rentals is Always a Good Investment

By | Agents, home buying, Property Management, real estate, Real Estate Investment

Owning a rental is always good; you get paid for being the landlord. It's a really profitable slice of the Chicago real estate investment market. This is mainly because of two things; the first being the steady stream of passive income it provides, and the second being the opportunity to get tax write-offs.

Of course, owning a real estate rental in Chicago is not an easy feat. The rewards are potentially huge only if you have a keen eye for details, proper preparation, and a sound Chicago property management company in charge of your property.

Managing rentals on the Chicago real estate scene can be done all by yourself, but like most people you may get overwhelmed over time. At this point, you can use the services of a Chicago property manager, such Lofty Real Estate Chicago.

Investing in rental properties is always a good idea, once you know the things you need to know, which we will be discussing.

Buying Rentals: Need to Know

Of course, when buying rentals in Chicago, you can either do it yourself or you can use a Chicago brokerage company. Asides from this, it is usually a sound policy to calculate your expected cash flow on the rental property before you purchase it. Think of it as a business; no one goes into a business to make a loss.

For you as a rental owner, the cash flow your property generates is your profit, so to say. Because of this, your cash flow should be at least at break-even point, when you factor in your expenses on the property.

Buying a property with an expected cash flow level that is below the amount you’d spend on expenses such as monthly mortgage payments, depreciation, etc, is not a good idea, and  we do not advise it.

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What are the Advantages of Owning a Rental Property?

There are a lot of advantages of buying and owning a rental property over other forms of investment (we won’t compare, don’t worry), and they are;

1. Diversification of Investment Portfolio

Investment, no matter the amount of probable gains, always involves a risk. Because of the inherent risk in the world of Investment, it is unwise to put all your money into one investment portfolio, especially stocks.  An unforeseen switch in the market dynamics and all your money might be gone with the wind. Owning a rental real estate property helps you mitigate greatly against the inherent risk involved with the investment. Once you have done your due diligence, your rental property will always be a source of income for you – one you can rely on to a very great degree.

2. Getting Tax Write-offs

The tax system favors owning rental properties a lot, and that’s another perk of buying and owning a rental property.  Owning a rental property means you don’t get to pay tax on your rental income. Owning a rental property means there will be depreciation and other property related expenses.  It is a usual practice to deduct the depreciation and other expenses from the federal income tax, and so this leaves the rental income completely free of any deductions.

3. Steady Stream of Passive Income

Owning a rental property is one of the safest ways to earn a steady stream of passive income every month. It’s your job (or your property management’s job) to ensure you keep renters who pay their rent promptly.

The “steady” in the income hinges on a lot of factors including doing a background check for prospective renters, so you can easily weed out those with a history of causing trouble for their landlords.

The best part is that you do not have to get involved in the background checks exercise or even get involved in the day to day running of the property before you get your passive income. You can simply leave your property to a Chicago property management company and focus on other areas of your life, whilst they manage the property and ensure your passive income keeps rolling in.

4. The Chance to Sell at a Premium

The usual industry practice is that you should try to hold your rental property for at least 10 years, but that rule doesn’t always work for every situation.

Owning a rental property in an area that increases the value of your property means you can sell off the property and make a gain on it at any time.

Even if the market dynamics change and the prices of property plummet, you can still rent out your property and make a rental income that will cover the costs of owning the property. You can do this till you’re ready to sell, and you would not lose any money.

Also, real estate market values generally appreciate over time, and the real estate market is usually one of the first to bounce back in case of a recession. So, the chances of losing money on your rental property investment over time are very low.

5. Growing Your Equity

Growing your equity is a goal for everyone, and owning a rental is a good way to do this. It is always good practice to purchase a rental property with a mortgage. Once this is done, you’ll have to start paying up on the mortgage payments, and you can use the rental income to pay for your mortgage.

This would be especially easy if you’ve accurately calculated the amount of cash flow to expect from owning the property. It would basically be as though your tenants are paying your mortgage for you, and over time, your debt will shrink and disappear, and your equity will start to rise steadily.

Conclusion

Buying and owning a rental property is one of the best ways to not just earn stable, passive income, but to also grow equity. By understanding and calculating just how much you can expect with regards to cash flow from the property, you can forecast how long it will take you to pay off your mortgage and start growing your equity.

Ready to invest in rental property? Give us a shout to learn more.

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Leveraging Property to Buy Property: A Full Guide

By | Agents, brokers, home buying, Property Management, Property Managemnt, real estate, Real Estate Investment

Is Leveraging a Good Idea?

The unofficial cardinal rule of investing in real estate is that you invest, or buy real estate with someone else’s money, not yours. This is the basis of leverage in the Chicago real estate investment market; by using someone else’s money to invest in real estate, you are making gains from your lender’s money.

Leverage is a well-known strategy in the Chicago real estate market, and it is the most widely used way to acquire real estate. There is a drawback though; when real estate values rise, it is to your advantage. But when they fall, you are at a disadvantage. This is why it is crucial to do your due diligence about a property when you want to use leverage to acquire it.

Leveraging Your Way to the Second Mortgage

Simply put, a second mortgage is a mortgage taken out when you still have a mortgage in effect on your first property. Doing this is only possible if you have enough equity on your first mortgaged property since a second mortgage is a riskier endeavor than the first.

The usual practice is that your first property is used as collateral for the second mortgage, and most lenders will only agree to a deal if you have enough equity on your first property. This is the big risk with leveraging property to buy the property.

The second mortgage can be used for anything, including using them to service personal expenses.

Types of Second Mortgages

There are basically two types of second mortgages available for use in the Chicago real estate market. They are;

  1. Home Equity Loans
  2. Home Equity Line of Credit (also called HELOC)

1. Home Equity Loans

Home equity loans are a type of second mortgage in which you can borrow a certain amount of money in a lump sum, payable over a period not exceeding 15 years at a fixed rate of interest.

Basically, you are using the amount of your home you own (i.e. the amount of mortgage you’ve already paid back on your home) to back up your credit. If you fail to pay, your house is liable to be foreclosed by the lender.

Home equity loans are best for investors looking to leverage their property to buy a rental property, as rental properties usually require a significant amount of down payment.

2. Home Equity Line of Credit

Popularly called HELOC, this type of second mortgage is different from regular home equity loans in that they are payable with adjustable rates.

HELOCs are the credit cards of second mortgages, and they work in a similar manner; there is a credit pool you can repeatedly draw from, it has a set limit and some lenders even give you an actual credit card. HELOCs have draw periods in which you can draw from the credit pool as you need the money, without having to pay back. This draw period is between 5 to 10 years.

HELOCs also have repayment periods, wherein you pay back all the money you have borrowed at adjustable rates, as mentioned earlier.

Investment Real Estate Deductions You’re Eligible

How Do You Leverage One Property to Buy Another?

There are two ways to do this, put simply. They are;

1. Leverage Rental Property to Buy Another

A rental property is a good investment if bought properly. Managing it yourself might not be easy, which is why we advise that you use a Chicago Property Manager, or a Chicago property management company, such as Lofty Real Estate.

Using your rental property as leverage to get another property is the easier of the two ways of leveraging property to buy another property. This is because the rental income paid by tenants can be used to pay up the mortgage on the rental property and gain some equity.

Using a rental property as leverage for buying another property would involve using the rental property as collateral, as mentioned earlier. A second mortgage would also involve higher interest loans than the first, so you have to be absolutely sure your primary property has enough equity to cover the expenses associated with taking a second mortgage.

2. Leverage Your Primary Residence to Buy Another

Another way of leveraging property to buy property can be this scenario; using the equity on your primary residence to get another mortgage. It can be another house or even a rental property. Doing this will mean your primary residence will be at the mercy of the lender if you default on the second mortgage payments.

Requirements for Leveraging Property to Buy Property

Building up a good level of home equity and a great credit score are central to the success of your chances when taking out a second mortgage.

How to Get A Second Mortgage

1. Know How Much Equity You Have

Knowing how much equity you have will help you make a quick decision on whether or not to go for a second mortgage and leverage your property to buy property. The more equity you have, the more your chances of success when it comes to your application for a second mortgage.

2. Check Your Credit Score

This is also another key part of the process. An excellent credit score will also improve your chances of being approved. If you’re interested in leveraging your primary property to buy another property, then you have to possess a credit score to match.

3. Pick out Your Preferred Second Mortgage Option

There are two options for you here, either you go for a HELOC or a home equity loan. Each option has its own peculiarities and benefits, so be sure to pick one that suits you. If you’re leveraging property to buy another house, going for a HELOC might be best. On the other hand, if you’re leveraging property to buy a rental property, then going for a home equity loan where you’ll get a lump sum might prove to be the better option.

4. Look Around

Once you’ve carried out these three steps, then it’s time for you to find out the options you have with regard to lenders and their rates. Check out the terms of each second mortgage very well, and ensure you don’t sign until you’re convinced it’s the best deal for you.

In Conclusion

Leveraging property to buy property is a smart way of acquiring more property, especially if you have the required equity.  With our guide, you have all you need to know about leveraging property to buy property.

Looking to purchase investment property? Give us a shout and let’s learn how we can reach your goals.

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Popular Interior Design Changes In Chicago Rentals

Popular Interior Design Changes In Chicago Rentals

By | Property Management, Property Managemnt, Real Estate Investment

All owners of rental property share the same main goals: keep vacancy to a minimum while maintaining or increasing property value. Besides a clean space and working appliances, there are several more factors that contribute to an ideal situation for owners and renters alike. Interior design can be a big help and won’t cost too much with a little preparation. Though trends come and go, it is important to be aware of what is popular when designing your property for rental.

Experts Are All Around You

With sites like Pinterest and Houzz, there is no shortage of “expert” advice and influence to be found on the internet. Maybe you have a Facebook friend that has their finger on the pulse of the trends and can help you make some informed decisions. There is a balance between making some popular interior design adjustments to enhance your condo/apartment’s aesthetics and spending countless dollars on a full makeover. Knowing your market can really help to find that balance. With the right touches you can easily enhance your condo and make it much more marketable.

When it comes to upgrading rental property, Owners can also learn a lot by looking at other listings in the area. Making yourself aware of the finishes that renters in your market are looking for will set you up to make the right decisions on your own investment.

Even with the advice of the “experts” on the web, sometimes time just isn’t as plentiful as one may need it to be. Savvy owners turn to Lofty, one of the top property management companies in Chicago. Lofty has apartment management in Chicago down to a science.

Want to increase profits and cut down on your time spent managing your properties? Contact us and we’ll show you how to do just that. We provide free market analysis, consultations and professional photography for all our new clients. We will ensure you never have to worry about renting out your condo again.

Some Tips from Lofty

Through their experience leasing condos in Chicago, the Lofty professionals have refined their list of what does and does not work in rental property design elements.

Here are a few tips you can use as a sort of guide or checklist when you are ready to make some changes for the better:

  • Hire a professional service to clean the apartment really well so you can expect to have your unit returned to you in the same pristine condition it was given.
  • A good place to invest a bit of money is in matching, stainless steel, energy efficient appliances. Otherwise, make sure whatever is there is cleaned like new and operating without issue.
  • Choose interior design materials that are timeless. Hardwoods, natural stone, and stainless steel are all good options.
  • When painting or decorating with wallcovering, opt for neutral colors. A neutral color palette will please the majority of potential applicants.
  • Avoid costly, over-the-top customization as adding too many details may limit the appeal or price you out of the market.
  • Built-in storage and shelving can be a big hit. Bookshelves in a flat wall can add some extra space; closet or cabinet organizers in bathrooms and bedrooms will help maximize storage.
  • Simple bathroom updates like a new mirror, faucet, towel rods and light fixtures make a big difference.
  • Depending on marketplace expectations, blinds—especially wooden blinds— are a great investment as they offer more control and class than a pull-down shade. Remember to instruct tenants on proper operation.

 

Here at Lofty, we provide free market analysis and consultations. We would be happy to come out and take a look at your space to help you determine what interior design touches can help you get more income out of your rental. The right interior design elements will get your property rented for top dollar and keep it rented. We want your time spent where it should be, enjoying life.

 

Speak with one of our experts to find out how we can supercharge your investment.

 

 

what to expect real estate

Real Estate in 2007 vs. 2016: What to Expect Now and In the Future

By | Property Management

In 2007 and 2008, the so-called real estate bubble burst, leading to a housing recession, millions of homeowners being underwater on their mortgages (they owed more than their houses were worth), and a spike in foreclosures.

Nearly a decade later, what’s changed? Sub-prime loans are no longer given nearly as freely, and there’s been a rise in FHA loans that allow home buyers to put down a smaller down payment, which some may suggest will lead to the same problems as before–people purchasing homes they can’t quite afford, and missing payments soon after signing the papers.

What can we expect, as property managers and landlords, to come of the real estate market in the next few years? Well, that depends on who you ask, really. Let’s take a look at some of the trends in the housing and rental markets.

New Construction and Home Prices Will Go Back to “Normal Rates”

For several years, growth of home sales and new buildings have been slow, but when you think about it, that’s a good thing. For nearly a decade, the trends in the housing and real estate markets have been scattered at best, and now, things will be leveling out. Home prices are expected to return to more “normal rates” that are consistent with a balanced market. After the devastating effects of the housing bust of a decade ago, it’ll be interesting to see how the more “normal” approach will pan out.

what to expect real estate

The Generation Gap of Home Ownership Will Even Out

It’s no secret that right now, Millennials aren’t the majority group buying up a lot of property on the market. However, they do represent a good chunk of home buyers, and that’s expected to keep rising. In 2015, young adults represented about one third of home buyers with two million sales. This upward trend is will likely continue, with adults between the ages of 25 and 24 becoming first time home buyers next year. Additionally, other generations will contribute more to the housing market as well, with GenXers and older baby boomers who are entering retirement—two groups of people where many of them are already homeowners—may enter the selling AND buying markets. GenXers will be most likely looking to upgrade, while baby boomers might be looking to downsize and lower their cost of living.

Mortgage Rates and Rents Are On the Rise

Just because home buying is expected to continue to grow, though, it will come with a price. Mortgage rates will likely rise more in the next year than they have in the past several years. These higher rates will drive monthly payments up, and debt-to-income ratios are expected to rise as well. In the same vein, rents will also go up. According to Realtor Mag, more than 85 percent of the nation’s markets have rents that exceed 30 percent of the income of renters. In other words, renting is expensive, and it’s only going to get worse. For many people, it’s more affordable and logical to buy a home than it is to continue renting. Unfortunately, many would-be buyers won’t qualify due to low credit scores, limited savings, and a lack of stable income. The old catch-22, as it were.

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New Home Construction Will Focus More on Affordability

Builders know that they have to appeal to people who are ready to buy, and with the rise of younger buyers shopping for a home, one key factor that builders are keeping in mind now is affordability. To cater to first-time buyers, builders are focusing on building more affordable (read: smaller, fewer luxury finishes) new homes, so that buyers can make payments.

Demand for Housing Will Continue With Slow but Steady Growth

Housing activity at the end of 2015 made it the best year for sales of single family homes since 2007—an impressive feat.  Roughly 501,000 homes were sold last year, up `14.5 percent from 2014, and the numbers are expected to keep rising. Monthly gains were strongest in the midest (up 31.6 percent from November to December 2015), but the average gain is more in line with the number of homes that were sold in the South and West — a lower number than the Midwest. Ralph McLaughlin, chief economist at Trulia, said in an email to U.S. News that the grows reflects “a slow but steady increase in demand from homebuyers as well as increasing confidence of home builders.”
That is, it’s safe to expect that more homes will be bought, and more homes will be built.

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Where Do We Go from Here?

With real estate sales expected to rise, and rental prices expected to soar, what’s the best option for investment property owners here? If you’re already involved in owning investment properties, you may want to reassess what you are pricing your units at, and if you’re considering getting into the industry, it might be wise to check with neighborhood advisors in the areas you’re looking to buy in to see if the investment will provide good returns.

Not sure where to turn? Contact Lofty anytime. We’re a property management company in Chicago, helping our clients with every aspect of the process of getting into investment property ownership so that they can live the life they deserve. Call us today to learn more about all we can do for you.

Wondering if a switch might be right for you? Give us a shout and learn more.

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(844) 355-6389

What is Considered Taxable When You Own Rental Properties

What is Considered Taxable When You Own Rental Properties?

By | Property Management

If you’re considering getting into investing in rental property, one thing to consider—beyond all of the additional responsibilities you’ll take on by doing so—is how owning investment property in Chicago will affect your taxes. When you rent out apartments, condos, or houses, your taxes can become complicated. Repairs and upgrades may or may not be deductible, and any money you make on rent will need to be claimed on your taxes. Beyond that, what should you know about how owning investment properties affects your taxes? As a property management company in Chicago, we at Lofty do our best to help our clients succeed with their investments, and part of that means making sure they understand how investing in property will alter the way they do their taxes. This guide will help you prepare yourself for what’s to come when you start working with property investments.

Deep clean

Starting with the outside, remember the importance of curb appeal when your house goes on the market. It’s the first impression your potential buyers will have and the last thing they will see as they leave. Replace worn out welcome mats and sweep debris from the porch and driveway, when possible. Minimal landscaping with bushes and flowers can add a colorful fresh touch to any front yard. Think of your yard as a free advertising platform. Create a landscape that can bring positive attention and lure prospects inside.

A deep cleaning of the inside is also necessary in order to show off the best features of the interior and make prospects feel comfortable.

What is Considered Taxable When You Own Rental Properties

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Is Everything You Collect from Tenants Taxable?

Not quite. Yes, rental income is taxable, but you’re allowed to reduce your rental income reporting by subtracting expenses that you incur from preparing your property for rental, as well as maintaining it. You’ll report the income as you would any other income—for instance, any rent you collect during 2016 would be claimed on your 2016 taxes. Even if you receive a check for January 2017 in December 2016, you would still claim it for 2016 earnings. If you receive a deposit for first and last month’s rent, it’ll be taxed in the same year, not as separate income in different years.

Security deposits, however, are not included in your taxable income, since you’ll be (theoretically) returning them to your tenants at the end of their lease. If the deposit is merely “last month’s rent,” it’s taxable since it’s just advance rent, but security deposits that are returned aren’t considered taxable income. If, at the end of a tenant’s lease, you keep (any or all of) their security deposit, you will then have to count it as taxable income.

What Expenses Can Be Deducted from Rental Income?

Luckily for investment property owners in Chicago, there are a number of deductible expenses that can save you money when it comes time to pay the tax man. Expenses such as advertising the unit, cleaning and maintenance, homeowner association dues/condo fees, insurance premiums, local property taxes, pest control, trash removal fees, repairs, utilities, and more are all counted as deductible expenses on investment properties. To learn more about all of the eligible deductions, it can be helpful to work with a professional CPA.

What If Your Property is Sometimes Owner-Occupied?

If you own a vacation home that you rent out for part of the year, you should be aware that, in order to deduct losses on the property, you can’t use the property for more than 14 days or 10 percent of the days the unit is rented during the year, whichever is greater. This also applies to a piece of property, say, a house, that you bought and lived in for a few years before renting out—if you still plan on occupying it for part of the year, you’ll need to work with your account to figure out exactly how your taxes will be calculated.

How Do I Report Rental Income and Activity on My Tax Return?

As an individual, you’ll have to report the rental income as, well, rental income. However, you don’t have to do it on your personal taxes. Most landlords establish LLCs, or limited liability companies, for their rental properties. LLCs offer liability protection so that you can keep your personal and business assets separated.  This way, only that bank account, or that LLC, is liable for debts associated with the property. This is beneficial because then, your personal finances won’t be affected by problems with your rentals. LLCs also offer tax benefits, by allowing you to pass tax consequences of your rental properties on to your personal taxes—in other words, you won’t have to deal with corporate ownership taxation. Your personal finances will be safe, and you won’t be double-taxed on your properties.

Need Help With Your Rental Properties?

Getting help with the transition into investment property ownership is something a lot of people seek out, and for good reason. Going it alone can be stressful and frustrating, and it can be beneficial to have someone on your side to explain the various processes of investing in property. At Lofty, we understand the intricacies and difficulties that new landlords face when they get started with rental properties. Our goal is to make your life easier—to help you sort through all of the responsibilities so that you can live the life you deserve, rather than spending countless hours on paperwork, apartment maintenance, and other busy work. If you need help with getting started on owning Chicago investment property, or you have questions about how getting started with investing will change your taxes, feel free to contact us anytime—we’re here to help!

Wondering if a switch might be right for you? Give us a shout and learn more.

SCHEDULE A CHAT

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(844) 355-6389

5 Key Things to Add to a Lease that Many New Landlords Forget

5 Key Things to Add to a Lease that Many New Landlords Forget

By | Property Management

If you’re new to the investment property game in Chicago, you’ve potentially created your apartment leases based on a few different ones you saw online or signed yourself when you were a tenant. Times change, though, and it’s important to craft lease agreements that are tailored specifically to your units as well as the most common issues that arise in the city you own investment property in. A lot of new landlords tend not to customize their leases, which can lead to problems. As a property management company in Chicago, we at Lofty understand what loopholes and gaps in lease agreements can hurt landlords and property owners, and we work to ensure that our clients are protected. When you write up your leases for your tenants, be sure to include these five key points to make sure everything is covered.

1) Who’s Responsible for Rent in Multiple-Tenant Units

If you rent units that are multiple bedrooms, be sure to put clauses in the lease that dictate that even if one person moves out, the total amount of rent will still be due. One common mistake that new landlords make is forgetting to add these clauses. This can cause problems and arguments with confused tenants, who were under the impression that if one person moves out, the remaining tenants will only be responsible for their portion. Of course, this leaves the landlord in a jam and can cause a loss of profit, so it’s essential to put a stipulation detailing how if someone moves out, the remaining tenants will still be required to cover the rest.

5 Key Things to Add to a Lease that Many New Landlords Forget

2) Clear Terms of When the Lease Starts and Ends

Some landlords forget that when they write out a lease, they will need to write in exactly when it starts and exactly when it ends. Without specific dates, a tenant may try to argue that their lease started later and therefore will end later—this can cause a landlord to run into problems stemming from showing the apartment and signing a new tenant to lease it, only to learn that the current tenant has no intention of leaving. If this happens, the landlord may be at the mercy of common law, which, at least in Chicago, tends to favor tenants. Be sure to include the specific start and end dates of your leases so that tenants don’t try to overstay their welcome or dodge rent increases.

3) What Repairs the Landlord and Tenant are Responsible For

Some tenants think that their landlords are responsible for every little repair, down to replacing burned out lightbulbs. If you want to avoid fielding phone calls about things like that, make sure that you dictate what you are responsible for and what your tenant is responsible for. Some landlords will put in a stipulation of a dollar amount—for instance, the landlord is responsible for any repairs that cost more than $25—while others simply suggest calling the property manager to discuss any maintenance issues. Whatever your preference is, make sure that your lease tells your tenants exactly how to manage any problems they have with the property.

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4) Limits on Occupancy and Subletting Rules

In the current age of short-term rental sites offering housing for vacationers in popular cities, the convenience for travelers can turn out to be a nightmare for landlords. Because these short term renters from sites like Airbnb are not background checked, it can open your tenants and your property up to vulnerabilities and damage. Be sure to write into your lease whether you will allow situations like this to happen, and if not, be sure to outline what will happen with tenants who violate the terms.

Be sure to outline who is allowed to stay in the unit, as well. Some problems arise when a tenant has someone come live with them off-lease, and then the new unauthorized “tenant” causes trouble or damages the apartment. Without regulations about who is allowed in your rental properties, the cost for solving these problems can come back to you. When you outline who can live on the premises, however, the tenant is then responsible for any issues their guests cause.

5) Illegal Activity and Eviction Grounds

Finally, many new landlords forget to put in their lease what will happen in the event of a tenant being found to be participating in illegal activity. Some tenants think that because it’s “their” space, it doesn’t matter what they do, so long as they do so indoors. However, this is not the case. If you find yourself needing to deal with a tenant who is breaking the law by, say, doing drugs in their apartment, it is much easier to do so by presenting evidence that they’re not just breaking the law, but that they’re breaking the terms of their lease and as such are voiding the validity of their rental contract.

Include outlines of what will cause tenants to be evicted, as well. This can help prevent any surprises to tenants and can help minimize conflict.

when to evict tenant

Need Help Drafting Your Rental Agreements?

If you’re struggling with your investment properties and need help putting together a complete rental agreement that covers all of your bases, working with a property management company in Chicago can be extremely beneficial. At Lofty, we’re dedicated to working with all of our clients so that they don’t have a schedule full of busy work. We want people to enjoy owning investment properties–as such, we take care of everything from leases to maintenance to move-ins/move-outs, and everything in between, so that you can live the life you deserve. Find out more about what we do to make Chicago investment property owners’ lives easier—call us today.

Wondering if a switch might be right for you? Give us a shout and learn more.

SCHEDULE A CHAT

or call

(844) 355-6389

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