Real Home Solutions of Rhode Island

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RI Real Estate Tips (Selected Tweets)

Below are some of the tips we posted to our Rhode Island real estate Twitter feed (@webuyri) since we started it in January 2013.

Remember, if you’re looking to sell a house in Rhode Island we can probably help—feel free to contact us at any time.

  • If you want to check if a contractor is insured, don’t just get a copy of the insurance binder from them; get it FROM THE INSURANCE COMPANY
  • Thinking of trying a new contractor? Do they have a contractor license and is it valid? Check them out at http://www.crb.ri.gov/search.php
  • Did you know: In RI a condominium lien is superior to a prior mortgage, but only up to 6 months’ worth? See http://www.psh.com/content345
  • “The August jobs report was a disaster, but could be good news for buyers” (of your rehabbed properties 🙂 http://www.bankrate.com/financing/mortgages/lame-jobs-report-great-for-borrowers/
  • Just posted a new article on our blog: “Reminder to Real Estate Investors who ‘Flip’ Houses” http://www.webuyri.com/blog/reminder-to-real-estate-investors-who-flip-houses/
  • If you already thought it was tough being a landlord, make sure you know about this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Disparate_impact
  • Usually the first month or so with a new tenant will tell you how the rest of the rental will go; once they go bad, they usually stay bad
  • Did you know… you can use the MLS to look up how much of a mortgage(s) a property has on it? Comps and equity in one place – pretty cool
  • If an air conditioner is leaking into a room, try the obvious: First check the ANGLE of the air conditioner and if necessary, tilt forward
  • If you have to evict someone, hire a lawyer who specializes in that; they will more than earn their fee with cool-headed tenant negotiation
  • You must have written standards you use to screen/approve your tenants, and follow those standards equally for all tenants
  • Did you know: Generally, you don’t have to worry about getting a mortgage discharged if it was recorded 50 or more years ago
  • Pro tip: It’s very handy in real estate to have an employee or partner you see a lot be a notary, and it’s pretty/cheap easy to become one
  • Remember, if you have cash sitting on the sidelines, it’s gradually being eaten away by inflation, realistically at much more than 3%/year
  • It’s great to get a Municipal Lien Certificate (MLC) for a closing, but a good practice is to record it, otherwise has no effect vs. city
  • In business, some customers just aren’t worth the hassle or any potential profit from them; this applies to rentals & tenants also
  • When you have a vacant property you should strongly consider installing alarm system; not hard to imagine scenarios where it pays for itself
  • If you think you’ll need a letter of good standing from the division of taxation for a closing, get it early – it usually takes a while 🙁
  • Beware those who start out saying how much integrity they have; more often than not, there’s a (bad) reason they’re saying it vs showing it
  • Did you know that financing for 5 units and more is much different than for 2-4 units? It’s a “commercial” loan vs “residential” for 2-4
  • Business and investing is a team sport – and if you’re the smartest person on your team, your team is in trouble
  • Big, fancy brochures and prospectuses are usually used to sell and impress unsophisticated people from parting with their funds
  • There’s no point in having an entity if you aren’t going to be fastidious about signing for the entity and not yourself personally
  • It pays to read a deed closely; if it says “with no covenants”, then what you really have there is a Bargain and Sale Deed – be forewarned
  • When verifying income and expenses for a rental property, compare the rent roll, profit & loss, tax returns and BANK STATEMENTS
  • Lots of people know to look under carpets for hardwoods; have you ever thought of looking behind vinyl siding to see if there’s brick?
  • Did you know: if a vacant lot used to have a house on it, even decades ago, there could still be old unpaid water/sewer bills on record…
  • Real estate concept of the day: “Arms-length transaction” – you should know what this means, particularly with respect to comparable sales
  • You should be aware that real estate is only one of various “capital markets”, and know its relation to other markets, too
  • If both sides in a negotiation are a little unhappy with the result, it probably means the negotiated deal was a fair one 🙂
  • If you buy a multi-family property, besides the leases you also need to get copies of the lead paint disclosure forms signed by all tenants
  • Do you understand why every paragraph of the Realtor’s purchase and sales agreement is there? If not, time to get a copy and start studying
  • If you’re looking for 5+ unit multi-family properties on the MLS, remember that they’re under Commercial (CII), *not* Multi-Family (MFM)
  • Real estate also has tax advantages and ability to legally use “insider” info. Its one big drawback: Illiquidity (i.e., hard to sell fast)
  • Real estate is an inefficient market; that creates opportunities if you’re willing to do the work – try negotiating a good deal on stocks 🙂
  • Rates may be rising soon; might be a good time to either buy, or change your adjustable rate mortgages to fixed
  • Land evidence records offer a veritable treasure trove of information for the ambitious and resourceful real estate entrepreneur
  • If you feel like you’ve hit a block or a wall in business, taking a break, sleeping on it, or coming back later can do wonders to inspire
  • You should always be learning; if you’ve gotten too comfortable with what you’re doing, it might be time to take it to the next/new level
  • If you’re in real estate you need to have a basic understanding of different business & property entities (corps, LLCs, trusts, etc.)
  • When you come to an agreement it’s a good idea to write it up in a doc, email, even text; memories can be faulty even w/ the best intentions
  • Inefficient markets are challenging and require more work, but they require more work for everyone else too, which means opportunity
  • One way to make more money with real estate is to reduce your expenses… Have you appealed your property tax assessments recently?
  • If you aspire to be a real estate investor but you don’t know how to see if there are mortgages on a property, it’s time to learn
  • Interesting advanced technique: Instead of buying the house from the bank, buy the note then foreclose yourself or renegotiate with owner
  • When doing your own electrical work, always be sure to turn off the main power to the house/unit – it’s just not worth the risk
  • If a property is bank-owned or foreclosed, make sure to test the water before buying; if it’s off, insist it be put back on for testing
  • When looking up an entity such as a corporation or LLC on the Secretary of State website, be sure to check the INACTIVE database too
  • The “big box” stores aren’t known for personal service; e.g., you have to go to a local hardware store to have a screen replaced for you
  • Investing is like navigating a boat; you can’t control the weather, but you can be informed about it and position yourself accordingly
  • Did you know, if a property has back taxes due, by statute the town is only allowed to collect up to 3 years of back taxes?
  • If your tenants have checking accts, Dwolla has a very cheap (25 cents per payment) program for landlords: https://www.dwolla.com/landlords
  • How do you get a mortgage discharged from a bank that failed long ago? https://www.fdic.gov/consumers/consumer/information/lien/
  • However, related to previous tweet, note that the two lots must be side-by-side; back-to-back lots on two diff streets are NOT merged
  • Did you know that since 1991 if two adjoining lots in Providence have the same owner, they’re automatically merged? https://library.municode.com/HTML/11458/level3/PTIICOOR_CH27ZO_ARTIINO.html#PTIICOOR_CH27ZO_ARTIINO_S204LANOAR
  • If you’re going to send direct mail to someone, try using http://usps.com/zip4 to see if it’s a valid address first
  • Bidding at a foreclosure auction isn’t for beginners; for example, do you know how to find out if you’re bidding on a 1st or 2nd mortgage?
  • When advertising a rental unit remember: Describe the unit, NOT the renter (or hoped-for renter); don’t run afoul of fair housing rules!
  • If a corporation or LLC goes defunct in RI, there is a maximum of 10 years in which it’s possible to reinstate the entity
  • When buying a property off the MLS, especially a bank-owned prop, don’t fall for a “phantom horse race” alleged “multiple offer situation”
  • First month w/ a new tenant is critical for setting boundaries/expectations. Be tough, but fair. *Everyone* follows the rules, even us!
  • One way to find out what people really want is to ask them, “If you had a magic wand, what would you make happen in this situation?”
  • Did you know, in RI if a city inspector sees a contractor vehicle at a property, they have the legal right to enter it and inspect?
  • If you’re posting to Craigslist and you’re not renewing those posts every 2 days, you’re missing out on a lot of potential renters/buyers
  • “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.” In real estate, make sure you meet your customers’ REAL needs not what you think they are
  • Once you make your final payment to a contractor on a job, you will NEVER get them to come back. So make sure it’s really 100% finished!
  • If you’re doing an eviction and the tenant is going to sign a stipulation make sure it does NOT say “with notice” or you’ll be back in court
  • Many times city fines are $50/day or more and add up to thousands, but usually they will negotiate down if it’s being sold to a rehabber
  • For putting in new hardwood floors, pre-finished is definitely the way to go; just be sure they’re at least 3/4″ thick to allow refinishing
  • If you own rental property, good screening procedures – documented and that you apply fairly and consistently to *everybody* – are a must
  • Don’t delegate color choices to your painters – YOU are in control of the property, not them, and you must decide how you want it to look
  • Whenever you see new construction/work in a property you need to ask, were permits pulled? If not & you buy it, you might have to rip it out
  • “Time is of the essence” in a real estate contract means deadlines are really “deadlines” – missing a deadline means breaking the agreement
  • People do business with people they like, and people they trust
  • Having trouble getting hold of a city inspector or official? Usually you have to GO IN PERSON. Being nice and polite helps, too
  • Did you know… continuing education classes for attorneys and other professionals can usually be attended by anyone, including you & me
  • When listing a house on the MLS, another good practice: Pay a $1000 bonus to buyer’s agent if under contract in first 10 days of listing
  • How do you make a good contractor answer your call & come when you need them? PAY THEM ON TIME. In fact, never make them invoice you at all
  • In marketing there is the shotgun, and then there is the rifle… which one are you using?
  • For every house you buy that you’re going to rehab: You should be putting up a FSBO sign on the lawn the day you close!
  • Many a landlord horror story begins with, “I was getting desperate for a tenant so I took someone who seemed nice, not doing any screening”
  • Here’s a calculation every real estate investor should know without looking it up: 1 acre = 43,560 square feet
  • When you meet with potential clients/customers, you should be listening a lot more than you’re talking
  • Do you know why it says “sold before print” on some online MLS listings? It dates back to pre-web days, when the MLS was a printed catalog
  • Always remember, whether you’re fixing & reselling or buying & holding, you’re selling a product; the product matters & so does the service
  • Did you know that when buying a multi-family property, banks only look at 75% of the rental income? That’s a 25% vacancy rate – wow
  • Many more sales are made through regular follow-up, than on the initial contact, so make sure you have a system to keep following up!
  • New to real estate investing but not sure where to start? Start simply – with properties you know and that are already close to you
  • Local lenders (“portfolio lenders”) can be easier to work with as they keep loans in their own portfolios rather than reselling to Wall St
  • If something seems “weird” about a property, might be best to walk away early; it’s going to be weird to your end buyers/tenants too
  • Some of the best deals (purchases) are the ones you choose not to do
  • Now (spring) is a great time to do any heating system work – contractors are starting to have time after all of winter’s emergency calls
  • BEWARE the prospective tenant who comes to the showing wanting to give you cash and move in right away, without filling out an application
  • If you can’t find many comps (comparable sales) to support the value of a property, be VERY cautious; in fact, consider passing on the deal
  • Confident… cocky… lazy… lose money. Don’t let it happen to you – don’t let confidence turn to cockiness
  • It’s better to leave a property vacant for another month or two, than accept a bad tenant out of desparation; costs more in the long run
  • The more of your documents you have ready to give to a potential lender ahead of time, the better you’ll look in the application process
  • Seasonal tips on spotting possibly good real estate deals: Look for unshoveled, piled-up snow in winter, and long/un-mown grass in summer
  • Some property issues, like paint colors or flooring, can be solved; others, like bad layout or neighborhood, can’t be easily solved at all
  • When putting together a rehab analysis sheet to calculate offer price, make sure to include a generous miscellaneous/unknown buffer!
  • Do you verify that new tenants have called utility cos to arrange for service to be put in their name? You should, before handing over keys
  • Treat your “due diligence” checklist for new properties as a very important bill that’s “due” – pay now, or pay (a lot more) later
  • One thing to try with a non-functioning central A/C unit: Flip its circuit breakers – and there are usually 2, one for fan, one for cooling
  • You can improve a property, but you can’t improve its neighborhood – unless you buy it all up that is (which people have done! 🙂
  • Even though a city violation may say $X fine per day if not fixed, they may release that lien if new owners willing to take responsibility
  • Something vacant property owners don’t usually know: Regular homeowner insurance no longer covers them, & vacant prop insur is much more exp
  • When you are blessed with abundance or unexpected good fortune, remember to “give back” and share with others – keep the circle going!
  • A lot of people cringe when they see a property has been brought down to the studs. Means more work… but fewer surprises, too
  • Old but good advice: If you’re thinking about buying a property, be sure to go by day AND night, during the week AND on the weekends
  • When selling, you should always fill out and give the disclosures, even when there is no real estate agent involved with the sale
  • A good article talking about tax treatment of different expenses in a 1031 exchange: https://www.orexco1031.com/Downloads/ereport.3.orexco.pdf
  • Two esoteric areas of Rhode Island real estate law we wish we knew more about: Condominium association liens and mechanics liens
  • If your central air unit won’t turn on, start with the basics – is its thermostat battery powered; if so, does it need new batteries?
  • If you can’t find a corporation or LLC in the RI Secretary of State database, don’t forget to search the “Inactive” database too
  • As you walk through a property, put yourself in the mindset of the eventual tenants or buyers; how hard or easy a sell will it be to them?
  • Most of the time, all I need to know is the year someone bought a property, and I’ll know if they almost certainly don’t have equity left
  • When you look at comparable sales for a property, make sure they are actually *comparable* – including a drive by of the comps!
  • Need to know property taxes for a prop? Take the assessed value, divide by 1000, then multiply by rate found at http://rirealtors.org/RealtorResources/TaxRates.asp
  • When an agent says “highest and best” what they mean is, “Please bid against yourself so you pay as much as you possibly can”
  • If you own real estate and don’t know about how the Dodd Frank law affects you, it’s time to get educated
  • A farmer’s shadow is the best fertilizer… no one will ever care more about your business than you will
  • Step 1 for aspiring real estate investors: If you see a good property, you must know how to find out who the owner is 🙂
  • As of Jan 2014, real estate owners have new options for deducting some otherwise capitalized expenses: http://www.inman.com/2013/09/30/good-news-for-owners-of-smaller-residential-rental-properties/
  • Learned a new term today: If you see slanted ceilings on some properties, apparently one term for them is “knee walls”. Who knew?
  • Did you know… the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act expired at the end of 2013? See http://www.dailyherald.com/article/20140321/entlife/140329988/
  • Question for the (advanced) masses: When you do a 1031 exchange, are the exchange fees fully deductible, or do they just adjust new basis?
  • Realized today: There’s a big similarity between RE wholesaling and stock technical trading; between buy-and-hold and fundamental analysis
  • There is no better way to learn something than by being forced to explain it to someone else – or worse, give a presentation on it 🙂
  • Did you know: As of 1/1/11, no itemized deductions allowed on RI taxes; no charity deductions, mortgage interest, etc http://www.investmentnews.com/article/20110327/REG/3032799750
  • Someone once said to us at a seminar: There is no place for lateness in business. We agree! And not even showing up = out of the game
  • Even if you don’t learn anything else about land evidence records, looking up someone’s mortgage tells you their negotiating bottom line
  • If your rehab budget is limited, focus the $ on the kitchen and just touch up bathroom; a great kitchen makes a great & lasting impression
  • Do NOT start showing a property until it’s DONE and CLEAN; you don’t want potential buyers to start directing your rehab project, then bail
  • Leave the “new” and “warranty” stickers on things like new windows, new appliances, etc. – shows people you really did spend $ on new stuff
  • Remember when trying to drain an old hot water tank prior to disposal, you need to ALSO open the pressure relief valve for water to flow
  • If the tile in a bathroom is old (e.g., pink, green from 60s/70s) but intact, just have it COATED instead of replacing – much cheaper
  • Winterizing – and dewinterizing – a property is tricky business; make a mistake and you can end up with a lot of water damage…
  • Did you know: You begin to depreciate your rental property when you place it in service, NOT necessarily the day you buy it
  • Like it or not, the city has a monopoly on providing services to your property. Tread carefully – your reputation matters in real estate!
  • When you get a property cleaned before showing it, make sure that the BASEMENT is cleaned too; makes great impression w/ buyer & INSPECTOR
  • Always include a reserve of about $1500 for items your buyer’s inspector will find and you’ll have to fix/address to make sale go through
  • If you’re one of the few people who figures out replacement reserves, do you also increase them for inflation in your calculations?
  • Did you know that unless you place a building into service on the 1st of the month, you can only take 1/2 month depreciation for that month?
  • Take care of any items that could blow your sale – “back on market” has a stigmatism associated with it, your prop will be harder to sell
  • If it’s freezing cold out, and the windows on a tenants’ unit are wide open, who do you think is paying for the heat on that property?
  • Did you know: If you have a decent roof that has some moss growing on it, there are roof CLEANING companies that make it look good again?
  • Residential houses with underground oil tanks – not good. Plan to get rid of them; “everyone’s scared to death of them”
  • When it’s time to replace a window, you may as well use the opportunity to stuff extra insulation into the wall cavity around it
  • If a house was vacant for 6mos+, spend the $500 to clean out the duct work on air heating, otherwise house will smell bad when they heat it
  • Granite counters and stainless appliances aren’t as expensive as they used to be, but home buyers still love ’em – worth the extra $
  • Did you know: For the last couple of years, even after signing a P&S in RI, a buyer can walk for any reason at all up to 10 bus days later?
  • If you think a tenant may have tripped a circuit breaker, tell them to turn each breaker *all the way off*, then all the way on again
  • You’re going to end up at your rehab projects a lot for one reason or another, so make sure they’re close to your home/office – 15 min max!
  • Each rental property you own is basically a small business; it should have its own profit and loss statement that you analyze regularly
  • These days, no regular buyer can even enter a contract to buy a rehab from you until the 91st day after your purchase; plan accordingly
  • On a rehab it’s important to clean up the yard first, helps a lot with good will from neighbors, who you should talk to, give your card etc
  • If all the lights in a property are on pull chains (instead of wall switches), good indicator the electric may be KNOB & TUBE (bad)
  • Smart property owners, like smart business owners, control their costs – it’s all the little costs added up over time that matter
  • It’s *definitely* worth putting fliers around the neighborhood advertising a new prop on the mkt, inviting to open house, etc.
  • How’s this for a return on investment: A $2 sink strainer vs. a $215 call to a plumber/rooter service to clear out soap/hair clog
  • If you track down owners of abandoned houses, ask if they have the special VACANT insurance; any other kind is useless vs their liabilities
  • You may remind tenants to keep heat to a minimum level in the winter (e.g., 55), but do you tell them to keep bathroom doors open too?
  • When you have a mold problem, the #1 question should be: Where is the source of moisture that created the problem in the first place?
  • Another sewer-related due diligence item: Ask sewer authority: 1) connected? 2) assessment? 3) how much? 4) when is it due? 5) yearly amt?
  • Just because a house is in an area which has city sewers does *not* mean it’s connected to the sewers – must ask the sewer authority
  • Also, if you’re new to rehabbing: Do NOT buy a house with a septic system for one of your early/first projects
  • Good advice from the trenches: NEVER buy a house with a septic system that is near water. Could cost you tens of thousands of dollars
  • Did you do comps before determining your offer price on a rehab? Did you DRIVE BY those comps to make sure they were really comparable?
  • Have you added checking floodsmart.gov (to see if a house is in a flood zone or at risk) to your property “due diligence” checklist?
  • If you have entities (LLCs, corporations, etc.), do you fulfill/respect the “entity formalities”? Now is a good time to review/catch-up…
  • The baby boomers are getting older and they don’t want to climb stairs… increased demand for single-level homes?
  • Instead of rebuilding a deck, which can get pretty expensive, consider replacing it with a $1500 concrete patio instead
  • Unexpected things in property can be planned for so you don’t have to scramble when something fails; two words: replacement reserves
  • Even the pros hire someone to inspect properties before buying. Why? Because it’s very cheap insurance against missing something important
  • Good questions to ask on a rental application: Do you have pets? Do you smoke? BETTER: How many and what kind of pets? How many smokers?
  • Supposedly, there are new laws that if a property is being foreclosed on, you must notify tenants or they don’t have to pay you rent
  • Another new kind of paint: Paint that has extra insulating properties to trap heat that would normally escape out of rooms
  • Did you know… In addition to low-odor paint, they now make “acoustic deadening” paints to help with noisy neighbors?
  • The magic question in real estate when you buy: “What else do you have for sale?”
  • Sometimes after you replace the battery on a smoke detector you have to “clear” its internal memory by holding the test button for a bit
  • Does your smoke detector keep beeping even after you change the battery? Check date on detector itself, which may be close to expiring
  • Your hot water tanks (if you don’t have a tankless system) should all have pressure relief valves with pipes pointed away from the tank
  • When a tenant calls and says the gas on their stove doesn’t work, make sure someone hasn’t moved the gas line shut-off into shut position
  • Electric meters: When they have clear or gray tags, it means the electricity is on; any other tag color means it’s been shut off
  • It’s never a good sign when a tenant stops returning your texts/calls; you’d almost rather they call & lie just to keep communication open:)
  • Most RI towns have a law that you must remove snow from sidewalks; here’s Cranston’s: http://www.cranstonri.com/hottopicdetails.php?hid=188
  • Before buying a property, do you check with the BUILDING DEPARTMENT (*not* tax assessor) for its “legal use”? You should!
  • It’s amazing how much you can save merely by asking for a competitive *quote* on a job, instead of merely hiring them straight out
  • Here’s a New Year’s resolution for you: This year, make it a point to get tax IDs when you write people checks, not next January!
  • Corollary to the last tweet: If you RECEIVED mortgage interest payments, you must send the payer a 1098-INT by Jan 31st
  • Did you know: If you PAID interest on a loan to someone (not a corp) >= $600 you must send the lender a 1099-INT before Jan 31st?
  • Nothing shows a man’s true nature than splitting an inheritance w/ him, OR asking for his tax ID because you legally have to send him a 1099
  • Normally you don’t have to send 1099s to corps, BUT you do if it was for legal services; see p.2 http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/i1099msc.pdf
  • IMPORTANT news re 1031 exchanges requiring action ASAP (see end of article on p2) http://newsok.com/tax-reform-targets-include-1031-property-exchanges/article/3914587 – please spread the word!
  • When you think about the value of your time, there’s one great return on investment you can easily obtain: A *lock box*
  • Don’t forget: You amortize loan points over the life of the loan; if you paid points, you should deduct 1/n of the points every year of loan
  • Did you know: If you plan to challenge your tax assessment, you must file a “true and exact account” by Jan 31st? http://webserver.rilin.state.ri.us/Statutes/TITLE44/44-5/44-5-15.HTM
  • Something that should be on your yearly checklist for next November: Mail tenants about keeping heat >= 55 degrees even when away!
  • Even if you delegate the management of a property, you can’t be entirely “hands off” – you must then “manage the manager”
  • If you accept “iffy” tenants with a stronger co-signer, make sure the co-signer has assets/income of their own AND signs the lease too
  • Have you made (or has your bookkeeper/accountant made) all your “end of year adjusting entries” yet?
  • Did you know that the owner of a property as of 12/31 is usually the “owner of record” at the tax assessor for the entire next year?
  • RI General Laws reading assignm: Housing Maintenance & Occupancy Code http://webserver.rilin.state.ri.us/Statutes/TITLE45/45-24.3/INDEX.HTM
  • If your house/building has washer/dryer hookups, spend the extra for steel-braided supply lines – it’s worth it in the bursts you don’t get
  • Yes, a survey is a bit pricey, but finding out after you buy something that the lot lines aren’t where you thought, is much more expensive
  • We all have “teams” that help us be successful (or help us, regardless 🙂 – have you thanked your team members lately? ‘Tis the season…
  • Be careful about mounting a ceiling fan where there was only a light before; ceiling fans need special electrical support boxes for weight
  • Landlord pro tip: If your car is making a mysterious beeping noise, make sure you didn’t leave any smoke detectors somewhere inside
  • Do all your tenants know where the water shut-offs in their apartments are? What about the main shut-off in the basement? Red tags can help!
  • Some landlords don’t allow pit bull dogs because of higher insurance costs. What about a “Staffordshire Terrier”? SAME THING
  • When a tenant calls and says there is no heat… make sure someone hasn’t flipped the switch to the emergency shut off
  • When buying a property, be sure to check the attic and basement to make sure the seller removed everything s/he said s/he would
  • Even if you delegate management of a building to someone else, you need to walk through all the units at LEAST once a year, 2+ times is best
  • Determining the Number of Residents for Your Rental Unit: http://kb.rpoaonline.org/ikm/questions.php?questionid=18
  • If you’re posting apartment ads on Craigslist, it’s imperative that you renew them every morning to stay at the top of the list
  • Did you know that evicting someone for non-payment of rent is easier/faster than evicting for some other reason (e.g., excessive noise)?
  • When checking with previous landlords, if they’re a big company keep your questions fact-based; e.g., # of times late, # of complaints, etc.
  • If you get on good terms with a real estate agent, s/he may tell you of properties just before listing them on the MLS (“pocket listings”)
  • RI General Laws reading assignment: Mortgage Foreclosure Mediation http://webserver.rilin.state.ri.us/Statutes/TITLE34/34-27/34-27-3.2.HTM
  • Another thing that can be easy to miss when going through a house quickly: How many electrical outlets in each room? Hopefully at least 2!
  • Remember, south-facing windows can help with home heating in the winter as the sunlight helps heat the home – open during day, covered/night
  • It’s almost time for those end-of-year accounting adjustments; if you don’t know what those are, it might be time to learn!
  • Did you know: You can often buy 10% or more off coupons to places like Lowes and Home Depot, on eBay for a buck or two?
  • Some people say, “It’s not personal, it’s just business” – not realizing that in business, relationships count; business is ALWAYS personal
  • RI General Laws reading assignment: Minimum Housing Standards http://webserver.rilin.state.ri.us/Statutes/TITLE45/45-24.2/INDEX.HTM
  • It’s that time of year (the end of the year!); are there any expenses you would benefit from paying NOW, in 2013?
  • If you do go to a foreclosure auction, bring a certified chk for deposit made out to yourself; if you win, sign it over, if not, redeposit
  • Three reasons foreclosures aren’t usually a good deal: 1) no chance to look inside, 2) often-bad title, 3) competitive bidding. Nuff said.
  • The nice thing about real estate, compared to investing in stocks or other assets, is that you can retain control of your investment
  • EIK, LR and BR are easy abbreviations to decipher (eat-in kitchen, living room, bedroom), but what about “TBTS”? Tile bath w/ tub and shower
  • Note well: Most contracts for bank-owned properties prohibit assignment, so plan to close in the name you put on the purchase & sales agrmt
  • When making appointments to show apartments, always try to make them for the same day you’re called, otherwise no-show rates skyrocket
  • Pro tip: If there are several roommates and one moves out and a new one moves in, easiest to just assign lease interest from old to new
  • Did you know… you can read the Rhode Island General Laws for yourself? http://webserver.rilin.state.ri.us/Statutes/ (hint: start with Title 34!)
  • If you ever want to see an example of an extremely one-sided contract, just take a look at the standard bank addendum on a REO property!
  • What’s the difference between an agreement and a contract? A contract has *consideration* – something of value exchanged between the parties
  • If you use a flat fee listing service, don’t be surprised when buyers agents put your property at the bottom of their showing list
  • Do all your tenants/properties have salt, shovels, etc. for the winter weather? Do you have those things for yourself?
  • Retaining walls are one of those things that only serious real estate investors think about. Why? Because eventually it’s going to cost $
  • Have you ever considered doing “cash for keys” instead of an eviction? Some landlords hate the idea but ask yourself, which will cost less?
  • If you’re not getting calls on your apartment ad, have you done a rent survey (i.e., looked at the competition)?
  • When someone says, “I’ll take it” for an apartment, do you collect a deposit? Until you do, they will walk away at the drop of a hat
  • Own rental property in Providence? You DEFINITELY need to check out the Providence Apartment Association: http://providenceapartmentassociation.com
  • “Speed Short Sales by Working with Fannie Mae From the Start”: http://www.linkedin.com/today/post/article/20130607141946-11341570-speed-short-sales-by-working-with-fannie-mae-from-the-start
  • Is now a good time to remind your tenants that they must always keep the temperature in their units at least 55 degrees?
  • Two useful items for your departing tenant summary sheet: 1) Last phone # you had for the tenant, 2) new address they gave you (if any)
  • Do you have a “departing tenant summary sheet”, where you document your experiece with a tenant as they move out? Very handy for future ref
  • Interesting post by someone who bought an apartment just to rent out nightly on AirBnB: http://needwant.com/p/buying-apartment-airbnb/
  • Changing batteries in smoke detectors (not technically owner’s responsibility) is a great excuse for seeing inside your units twice a year
  • If you’re buying a building that doesn’t have gas heat, it better be for a great price – tenants seem to hate oil & electric heating
  • Ask, “have you ever had an eviction action filed on you” instead of “have you ever been evicted” – most eviction cases settle in court
  • Why do home inspectors run the water on full blast and then flush the toilet? They want to check the water pressure!
  • Treat your buildings like gated communities: Only the best get in. What is the gate? You and your screening policies.
  • Own real estate in RI? Consider attending a mtg of Rhode Island Real Estate Investor Group (3rd Thurs of each month): http://www.rireig.com
  • If you buy a building with existing tenants, their first concern is that you will raise their rent – discuss that in your initial meeting
  • When going through a property, pay attention to signs of water problems from above, that someone recently painted to try to hide
  • Sometimes MLS listings say the funniest things… “Rents could be higher” Really? Well, then why aren’t they?
  • Did you know, when there are bugs in one unit in a building, it’s the tenants’ responsibility; where bugs are in 2+ units, it’s the owner’s
  • As winter approaches, did you know that you can get a ~$25 device at the hardware store that helps identify drafts, even from outlets?
  • Do you have an “apartment condition form” you and your tenant fill out & sign together on move-in, which documents the apartment condition?
  • Always ask, will *you* be renting the apartment, or are you calling for someone else? It’s amazing the # of people who call for other people
  • Does your lease include the important clause that if tenant is evicted, your legal fees get added to the judgment you get against them?
  • You know you have good phone screening questions when potential tenants screen themselves out (“Oh you contact previous landlords?” [click])
  • Did you know that when a tenant moves out, you have only 20 days to return their security deposit (minus itemized deductions)?
  • With forced air heating systems, it’s very important that the air that flows out of the vents has places to go back (“return flow”)
  • Did you know, in RI it’s the landlord’s responsibility to provide window blinds for all bedrooms and bathrooms? But do them all – to match
  • Do you have problems with no-shows for apartment showing appointments? Try insisting they take your confirmation phone call 1/2 hr before
  • When buying a multi-family property, get the owner (or have agent get the owner) to fill out the Realtor “Confirmation of Rental Terms” form
  • Have you checked the updated flood maps for your properties in RI? If not, you should: http://floodsmart.gov
  • Most sales are made on follow-up, not the initial contact… Do you have a system in place for following up?
  • Important new information about flood insurance rates/premiums – MUST READ: http://www.rirealtors.org/newsandevents/floodinsurance.asp
  • Consider requiring cash or money order for tenant move-ins – so they can’t move in with bad check for 1st & security (then you have nothing)
  • Do you understand the bookkeeping entry necessary to change a security deposit into last month’s rent? Even if you delegate, must understand
  • Did you know: If you (or handyman/electrician) put circuit breakers into the electrical box that are a different brand, may void warranty?
  • One of the areas water enters a building is the same place people do: the entrance; make sure it is protected against water flowing in!
  • Did you know… if you have ANY lead report in your possession for a building, you MUST share it with tenant before they sign the lease?
  • If you talk to a prospective tenant and they already have stories full of drama, before you even meet them to show them the apartment…
  • In RI, the landlord must provide working batteries in all the smoke/CO detectors for move-in, but after move-in it’s tenant’s responsibility
  • Did you know, you can actually file for eviction in any county courthouse in RI, not just the county the property is located in?
  • How to make sure good contractors put you at the top of their list to call back: PAY THEM PROMPTLY… don’t ever make them send you a bill
  • Do you have a form to summarize your experience with a departing tenant in case you are asked about them later? Does it have their new addr?
  • Note well: A service animal is NOT a “pet”, and you can’t apply your normal “pet” policies to service animals (e.g., extra rent/deposits)
  • Did you know that for several years now, new electrical wire has date stamp on it? That way you can’t say to inspector, that was here before
  • Instead of asking do you smoke, or will you have pets, ask how many smokers/pets will there be – people are more likely to answer honestly
  • Remember, if you’re painting over a new drywall patch or new wood, it needs to be PRIMED first, otherwise it won’t look right when painted
  • Speaking of interesting/uncommon pets… Ferrets. OK, *as long as they are de-scented* – and you need to be given proof of this!
  • Rumor has it: A few pro-tenant eviction court judges will throw out your case if you don’t have a copy of your deed with you – so have it!
  • Did you know, cute little bunnies can be *extremely destructive* to apartments? You may want to consider adding them to the “no pets” list
  • Do you have a signed “Disclosure of Information on Lead-Based Paint and Lead-Based Paint Hazards” for every one of your rentals? You should!
  • When 2 people come to look at an apartment, but say only 1 will live there, be suspicious; ask prior landlords if they both lived together
  • If you have forced air heating, now might be a good time (as we head into winter) to change the air filters! A cheap way to avoid problems:)
  • Prev owner put an illegal in-law apt in your prop? Even if you don’t use it, on an inspection for permits they could force you to rip it out
  • Did you know… circuit breakers can wear out over time? (over the years)
  • Do you have a “maintenance request form” for every request, showing when you resolved it? Helps in court if tenant says you don’t fix things
  • When buying a building, if any tenants have no security deposit with seller, those tenants have to go, otherwise they’ll be problems for you
  • Your rental application form should have a space for email address – there is no easier way to notify tenants of building issues!
  • If a prospective tenant can’t answer questions re: income and residence history on the phone w/o attitude, congratulations on pre-screening!
  • When replacing a ceiling fan, measure the width of the old one – take picture and also try to get same base. And don’t forget lighting kit!
  • If you have old plaster walls, be VERY careful about hammering any nails into them; the vibrations can cause whole sections to come loose 🙁
  • Do you give your tenants the Federally-mandated “Protect Your Family from Lead in Your Home” booklet at lease signing?
  • Ever want to use the Zip+4 zip code format to ensure faster delivery? Or look up a zip code? Memorize/use/love http://usps.com/zip4
  • Is assessed value a good proxy for “real” value? We looked at comparable sales and in our small sample, found values about -20% of assessed
  • Not sure if boiler won’t turn on because of the boiler or the thermostat? Try removing the thermostat and touching wires together manually
  • Need to find out who owns a property, or how much it’s assessed for? Try this shortcut: tinyurl.com/ripubrecs (tinyurl dot com / ripubrecs)
  • Tenants are like employees: If you don’t take action to remove the bad ones quickly, you’ll find that the good ones leave you
  • If you sign a stipulation with tenant being evicted, that they’ll depart by X date, be sure to include that property left behind = abandoned
  • Sometimes when an agent asks for your “highest and best” due to “multiple offer situation”, they just want you to negotiate against yourself
  • Heading firmly into fall now… is it a good idea to get your heating systems serviced now, before they have problems in the dead of winter?
  • If you aren’t making enough money in real estate, make more offers
  • Do you save all your tenant applications, regardless of whether they were accepted/rejected?
  • If you manage apartments, invest in a decent camera for posting ads on Craigslist – many people make snap decisions by pictures/looks alone
  • Do all your tenants know about the referral fee you pay for a successful referral of a new tenant for one of your vacancies?
  • If your property has an underground oil tank you should strongly consider removing it *before* you list it for sale http://scarsdale.patch.com/groups/business-news/p/dont-let-a-buried-oil-tank-bury-you
  • Do you have written criteria for screening tenant applicants, that you apply to all applicants equally? You should
  • If you accept a late payment from a tenant, you should send a letter saying that it doesn’t establish a policy of accepting late payments
  • Did you know… insurance companies have started dropping hurricane coverage unless you pay extra? You might not be covered for that now
  • One reason not to close on a Friday: Often documents can’t be recorded that day, putting the closing in limbo over the weekend
  • If a prospective tenant can’t respect you enough to show up on time for the first showing, how do you think they’ll be when they move in?
  • Appraisals are good, but every appraisal report is labeled for what it is: An OPINION of value. Judge/act accordingly.
  • Charging low rent reduces phone calls from tenants… but just make sure that they still call you about important things like water leaks
  • Did you know: If you check credit and you deny someone in whole or part due to their credit, you must send them a special letter about it?
  • A test for good tenants which will disappoint you a lot: Ability for someone to keep an appointment made beyond the current day
  • When you buy a property do you do a detailed analysis to determine the land vs. building allocation? If not, you should look into the idea
  • The devil is in the details, and there are always a LOT of details in real estate. Double check *everyone’s* work, even attorneys’
  • It’s amazing how often and quickly bad tenants reveal their personality problems (e.g., oppositional-defiant) even in their first phone call
  • Tempted to skip the property inspection? Don’t do it, a second set of eyes is ALWAYS worth it; it’s a very cheap form of insurance
  • That old dark paneling… remove it, or just paint over it? Depends on property/area; just paint over if a lower quality property/area
  • Many people look at comparable sales before buying a property, but do you DRIVE BY the comps? Small time investment, very useful insurance
  • Putting a new deck on? For outside wood, always use pressure treated (PT) wood, but ALSO give it a few months to dry out before sealing it
  • If your building has a fire escape, periodically scrape and paint it, otherwise the rusting metal can actually hurt someone who uses it
  • Property inspection checklists are great but lots of photos are also great – remember, memory is fallible!
  • If you do offer sheets before a full purchase and sales, make sure that all the terms from the final offer sheet carry over to the P&S!
  • Neat trick: Put a dummy downspout up the side of your multi-family, then use it as the way to run cable lines up the house cleanly
  • Thinking about applying for a variance or changing a property in some major way? Make sure the change fits with city’s “comprehensive plan”
  • Something for your property closing checklist: The walkthrough on the day of closing
  • Good items to put in a lease: No installation of satellites or cable lines without prior approval of the landlord
  • Did you know: Every electrical outlet within 6′ of a water source (e.g., faucet) needs to be a group fault circuit interruptor (GFCI)
  • Be it known throughout the land: Let there be a general prohibition against the “try hard” tenant applicant
  • As a property owner, your biggest enemy is WATER
  • One reason to leave tenants in place when buying: When < 75% or 50% occupied (investment vs. owner occ), must get expensive VACANT insurance
  • Did you know… When buying a property that is a short sale, the seller column on the HUD-1 *MUST* total to exactly -zero-?
  • One essential skill for real estate: Being able to examine the title for a property; it can save you $ and time, and rescue dead deals too
  • If you find yourself trying to convince yourself to break your own screening rules to approve someone, STOP – reject them, or regret it
  • If your property has wireless water & gas meters that allow reading from street, tell your tenants they don’t need to let anyone in to read
  • Tell your tenants until they’re sick of hearing: I *want* to hear about any maintenance issues involving water, even small leaks/drips!
  • Your rental application should have the rent for the apt on it. Why? To avoid “Oh, I thought the rent was $X” disputes later
  • Another warning sign for potential tenants: When they start out by complaining about how awful their last landlord was
  • Wall repair after door knob slams through: $75; door stop post: $1.39. Pro tip: buy the SPRING door stops. Don’t look as good but they LAST
  • Note for tenants and homeowners: If you have electric baseboard heat (as many 3rd floors do), it stays on *until you turn it off*
  • If a potential tenant has a history of never living someplace more than a year, how long do you think they’ll be at your place?
  • Professional landlords standardize on as much as possible: Standard paint colors/sheens, standard types of locks, standard lights, etc.
  • Instead of asking potential tenants “Do you smoke?” ask, “How many smokers will live in the apartment?” Same thing with pets
  • One example of “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”: Change your air filters regularly to avoid expensive HVAC problems
  • Do all your tenants’ stoves have anti-tip devices on them? They should
  • Another warning sign with potential tenants: When they haven’t even filled out the application, already nit picking minor apt stuff
  • A good rule of thumb: Trim any trees within 8 feet of your property
  • Another criterion of a good property: A good credit rating (financial stability) for its city/town. Otherwise, guess who bails them out?
  • If you’re going to be away from your house/property for a while, don’t forget to put the hot water heaters on vacation mode
  • Never, ever pay a contractor in full until *everything* is done, including any reports/paperwork; once you pay them, the have NO incentive
  • Want to increase chances of getting approved for a commercial loan? If you have all your paperwork in order ahead of time, you look GOLDEN
  • RISE Engineering will give you a free energy audit on your property with plenty of ideas for how to save money; http://riseengineering.com/
  • Pipe insulation is a cheap way to save money which pays dividends years into the future
  • Beware the transient tenant: Someone who’s never lived in one place for more than a year probably has a reason for that…
  • Here’s an interesting source of foreclosed properties – ones owned by the Secretary of Veteran Affairs (VA): http://listings.vrmco.com/
  • Beware the over-eager tenant: Someone who calls more than twice in a 24 hour period is probably desperate to move for a reason…
  • Pro tip: Get the paint department to match the color of your new shutters, so the front door and other outside items match the shutters
  • Simple but important thing: Make sure that the grade of the land around a house slopes AWAY from the house, so water is channeled AWAY
  • Professionals have checklists – there is simply too much for any one mind, no matter how “expert”, to remember all the time
  • A classic tip: “Bring the old one” to the hardware store when you’re trying to find a replacement part… memory is inherently fallible
  • Subtle but important tip: Do not regularly park something very heavy (like a heavy truck) right next to a house/building foundation
  • Trying to figure out what’s going on with a “problem house”? Ask neighbors – they usually know exactly what’s going on, happy to talk too
  • Warning: many insurance companies have chosen to either drop insurance for “named storms” or jack the price up for that coverage a LOT
  • If you’re one of the few people who bothers to calculate “replacement reserves”, remember to account for inflation in future repair costs!
  • Finding good tenants is like dating: If you lower your standards, you’ll pay for it, if you keep high standards it takes longer, but rewards
  • Another hidden thing that can be easy to miss when walking through a house: Roof access – you want it, and your inspector will need it
  • Simple pro tip that lots of landlords have picked up: When you install a hot water tank or boiler, write the installation date on outside
  • A unique and profitable real estate strategy: Taking a building that’s not being used at its “highest and best use” and converting it
  • Tax assessor value can be an OK rule of thumb, but it is *not* market value by any means; only recent comparable sales help establish value
  • Did you know that within the last couple of years, deeds in Rhode Island must have the amount of sale price included on the deed?
  • A subtle distinction when checking comparable sales for a property: Make sure to look at “contract date”, not “closed date”, for value@time
  • Missing downspouts are good to have on a checklist; it’s easy to see when something that’s there is wrong, harder to see when it’s not there
  • The best times to put a new roof on are in the spring and fall, when it’s neither too hot nor too cold for the shingles to go on
  • In a short sale, not only do the mortgage companies need to sign off on it, but if PMI insurance is involved, THEY have to sign off too
  • When walking through a property don’t forget to look UP – for signs of water damage, plumbing problems, etc.; leaky water = bad
  • Did you know: Now under RI foreclosures, there must always be an affidavit that attorney advised homeowner of soldiers and sailors rights?
  • Pro tip: If transferring property into trust/LLC, or adding/removing ppl, use Warranty Deed (NOT Quitclaim), so title insurance carries over
  • Acid test for making a loan on a property: Would I want to own this property for 5-10K more than my loan amount? Because I might have to…
  • A lot of lawyers have their paralegals prepare deeds and paperwork; you must REVIEW closing documents yourself at least a day before closing
  • Within the last year RI law has basically given buyers of any residential property the right to walk away for any reason w/in 10 days of P&S
  • You can always improve your property, you can’t easily improve its neighborhood – buy accordingly!
  • Another reason smart Realtors use short sale negotiators: Negotiating with a bank is NOT covered by their errors and omissions insurance
  • If you’re going to do a short sale, either as a buyer or seller, you MUST involve a short sale negotiator to have a chance of deal working
  • Train yourself to fall in love with the numbers of a property instead of the property itself (its bricks and sticks)
  • Yes, you absolutely need to get a lead paint disclosure as a buyer, even with land; have you considered lead paint soil contamination?
  • Want to quickly check the boundaries of a property without paying for a survey? Go to city hall and look up the “plat map” for the house
  • A quitclaim deed in Rhode Island is different from a quitclaim deed in other states; in RI it actually does have some covenants/guarantees
  • Pro tip: If a property fails a fire inspection, when you call for the re-inspection, make sure to ask for the same inspector the 2nd time
  • Remember: what’s on the tax assessor website/records does NOT determine legal use of the property; you must find it out from building dept!
  • Did you know that new electrical wiring has the manufactured-date stamped on it? Makes it so you can’t tell the city, “that was here before”
  • If you know you’re going to close on a property, get started on doing minor repairs prior to the closing, so you can hit the ground running
  • Everybody knows, the best way to mitigate risk in real estate is good insurance… but what about the things insurance doesn’t cover?
  • If you set up a search on MLS or RILiving and want to see properties in Providence, don’t forget: the East Side is its own “city” on MLS
  • Gutters and downspouts are very important to channel water away from a property, where it would otherwise cause a lot of problems
  • To make sure that documents you are given before a closing remain the same, print them onto a transparency, then lay them over at closing
  • Ling is likeable, but this video demonstrates the importance of understanding #s in business: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cc1ktZRZ5ZM
  • The Childhood Lead Action Project in RI is in danger of losing its funding; please call 222-2466 and 222-6655 to say you support the Project
  • When painting bare wood, remember to use a “stain blocking primer” first, otherwise any knots in the wood will show right through
  • When filling out a purchase and sales agreement, make sure it’s for the right KIND of property (land, single family, etc.); even pros can mess this one up!
  • When you install a hot water heater, do you write the installation date on the side? Do you tape any warranty information to the side too?
  • In Woonsocket, if the water meter is recessed in a pit, it means lead piping; city now requires you to replace it when selling ($3000!)
  • If you got a property without title insurance (e.g., via foreclosure), and give a Warranty deed when selling, get a seller’s title policy
  • When analyzing a property, if you have to “nudge” the #s a lot to make it work, chances are you’re trying to make a non-deal into a deal
  • In the stock market they say, “the trend is your friend”; it’s true in real estate too – what is the trend in your neighboorhood/market?
  • When tiling, grout ONLY goes up against tile, never against showers, molding or vanities – use *grout caulk* to fill between tile and those
  • You know you’ve been doing real estate for a while when you regularly catch mistakes made by “professionals” like lawyers, accountants, etc.
  • Trick for cleaning a bathroom tub: Use Easy Off oven cleaner strips – takes soap scum right off, doesn’t hurt the fiberglass tub at all
  • When showing an apartment to a prospective tenant, make sure all lights are on with bright bulbs, and that the place smells nice 🙂
  • “Allure” flooring is a great option for rentals, looks good, cheaper than hardwoods but tough against tenants – just don’t use in wet areas
  • In bathrooms, using fiberglass backed linoleum (available at Lowes) helps completely eliminate any issues with water
  • Bathroom windows should have tempered (toughened) glass so that a slip and fall doesn’t result in broken glass and cut injuries
  • One way to keep tenants honest on their water usage: Require that they pay you for 1/2 of the water bill
  • Two neat devices used by home inspectors: Moisture detectors and gas leak detectors; useful for investors inspecting lots of props
  • Worried about asbestos? We’ve been told that there is “bridging encapsulation paint” you can just “paint over” the asbestos with to seal it
  • An old/classic tip, but a good one: *Kitchens and Bathrooms Sell Houses* (and “sell” apartments to tenants); don’t skimp in those areas!
  • If an electrician tells you it’s not possible to install a light switch where you want, one neat option is a *wireless* light switch
  • Curious what’s underneath that wallpaper, drywall, or paneling? Take off a light fixture or switch plate and look at the layers 🙂
  • When doing tile: You have to give the mortar and grout enough time to dry – 12 hours minimum, a full day is much, much better
  • Did you know: Every Providence landlord of 3+ units is supposed to file info on their insurance with the city? http://webserver.rilin.state.ri.us/Statutes/TITLE34/34-43/34-43-1.HTM
  • There is what is legal, and then there is what title companies will insure; title companies effectively determine the law (in practice)
  • One clue you may have active knob & tube wiring: If you have intact plaster walls but new electric switches… what’s behind those walls?
  • Pro tip: Check rental applicant licenses/IDs, not just for identity but to check BIRTH DATE and SPELLING (how criminal records are filed)
  • Did you know: Landlords of Warwick property who don’t live in Warwick are required to file their personal address in land evidence records?
  • Trees overhanging a roof aren’t just bad because they can promote mold and moss but also because they let carpenter ants drop onto the house
  • Train yourself to be on the lookout for the subtle white stains or raised/buckling wood that signifies past water damage
  • Educational reading: “Housing Maintenance and Occupancy Code: Responsibilities of Owners and Occupants” http://webserver.rilin.state.ri.us/Statutes/TITLE45/45-24.3/45-24.3-6.HTM
  • RI law: “Every occupant [tenant] of a dwelling… shall dispose of all his or her rubbish in a clean, sanitary, and safe manner.”
  • Did you know: In RI, when one apartment has a pest problem it’s the tenant’s responsibility to fix, when 2+ do, it’s the owner’s?
  • Having business cards is obviously essential, but don’t be tempted to order 5000 to get a quantity discount… your info *always* changes
  • Having trouble tracking down the owners of a property? Tax assessor has their mailing address, but *neighbors* usu know the real scoop
  • Did you know: Pawtucket landlords must file an absentee landlord registration form with city code enforcement; failure to do so = $200 fine
  • New fact: Even if city tells you a lot is buildable, it can be UNbuildable if its building, or a neighbor’s bldg, goes over property line
  • Learn to look for water stains and other signs of water leakage (e.g., buckled flooring); spotting water problems can save you a lot of $
  • Did you know: Landlord is responsible for installing window blinds for bedroom & bathroom, but replacements are tenant’s responsibility?
  • One reason a house might have a flat roof is because it had a fire at one point; so if you see one, make sure to look for old fire damage!
  • A good idea to add to your new tenant checklist: Show them where the water shutoffs are and how to use them – in the apt AND basement
  • Here’s an amazing return on investment: A $12 alarm can literally prevent hundreds or thousands of $ in water damage http://www.lowes.com/pd_117272-84862-BWD-HWA_0__?productId=1005609
  • How can you know if that “previous landlord” isn’t just the applicant’s friend? Try giving wrong info and seeing if they correct you
  • Trying to track down a previous landlord for a prospective tenant/applicant reference? Search Craigslist to see if they’ve posted any apts
  • It’s the little things that count: Use steel reinforced supply lines for washers; if you use plain rubber, they WILL burst eventually
  • I can’t recommend @slydial (267-SLYDIAL or 267-759-3425) enough – so helpful when having to turn down tenants or deliver bad other news
  • Another good reason to pull permits: It’s really good to stay on the good side of your city’s officials, and awful to be on their bad side
  • What if you could pay a small fee to have an independent third party expert review your contractors’ work? It’s called “pulling permits” 🙂
  • If bidding at a foreclosure auction, 1) dress in a suit (people might think you’re the bank :), 2) join the bidding late, when it’s slowed
  • Did you know that for under $10 you can buy a device that lets you easily test the safety of electrical outlets? http://www.lowes.com/pd_292761-12704-61-501_4294722453__?productId=3128411
  • Never put a second layer on a roof, always do it right: strip it down, fix any problems, ice & water layer, new sheeting/shingles, etc.
  • If a contractor says it will take weeks to get a part, call supply houses yourself; you’ll be much more motivated to find it than them!
  • When re-doing a bathroom, don’t forget to account for the opening of the door when positioning the toilet!
  • Did you know that the granite and marble countertops everyone loves, need to be regularly sealed and maintained to protect against water?
  • An easy, nice finishing touch to make a bathroom look attractive, when doing tile: Replace random tiles with a contrasting-colored tile
  • If doing new plumbing work, favor the newer “pex” – it’s cheaper, easier to work with (no soldering), don’t sweat, no copper to steal, etc.
  • More caulk tips: Don’t forget to put a bead all the way around your bathtub faucet, else water can bounce up and get behind tub that way
  • Replacing some of that awful old/black caulk in your shower? Be sure to use caulk designed for wet areas (silicone), not painters’ caulk!
  • In addition to having a level underlayment, another secret of a great tile job is in the *mortar* – that is NOT the place to skimp/save!
  • Finishing a basement? If you’re planning on wood flooring, you must be vigilant and meticulous about guarding it against all moisture
  • Important: Many cities and towns in RI /require/ absentee landlords to register with the city/town and/or the RI Secretary of State
  • Did you know you can search all Rhode Island laws at http://webserver.rilin.state.ri.us/Statutes/Statutes.html – see esp Chapter 34-18 🙂
  • If you think having a vacancy in a rental unit is bad, think about how much worse it would be to have a non-paying tenant occupy it!
  • Did you know that if you file a tax extension, you still have to pay the taxes due by April 15th? Kind of defeats the purpose, doesn’t it?
  • It’s like playing Where’s Waldo; every real estate closing has at least one error, without fail. Can you find Waldo at your next closing?
  • When choosing tile, think not only durability, but especially “how well will this hide everyday dirt?” Kind of a strike against white tile!
  • Instead of replacing cabinets, sometimes you can just refinish/repaint them and put new/better hardware (hinges, pulls) on them
  • We like this guy’s spirit, “Go Hard Early” http://icelab.com.au/articles/go-hard-early/ – get the hard stuff done first!

Filed under: Tips — Anthony Thompson @ 1:52 pm September 14, 2014

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