How To Break A Lease

how to break a lease

There are times when either a tenant or a landlord will want to break a lease.

Why A Tenant Would Break A Lease

A tenant may want to break a lease for a variety of reasons, some legitimate and some not . . . at least in the eyes of the landlord.

Maybe a group of roommates rented the house and now one has left.  Or the tenant may have lost a job.  Or there’s a personal situation such as a divorce or major illness.

Why A Landlord Would Break A Lease

There are also times when a landlord wants to break a lease.

One example is if the landlord owns a single-family house that is a rental and decides to sell.

It’s almost always easier to sell a vacant house rather than one that is occupied.  Buyers – especially those looking for a home of their own to live in – don’t want to have to deal with a tenant.

Or sometimes the tenant doesn’t cooperate with showings or keeping the house in good condition.  Even if they say they will.  This is a stealth way of a tenant sabotaging the potential sale of the house they’re living in so that they can continue to rent.

A landlord might also want to consider breaking a lease if the tenant is simply too much trouble.  Even if a landlord knows how to find and keep great tenants, it’s always possible to end up with a bad tenant.

Some tenants need to be constantly reminded to pay their rent on time.  Others constantly need something fixed or are disruptive to the next door neighbors.

Tips To Breaking A Lease

To avoid time, trouble, and possible property damage, smart landlords try to make breaking a lease a win-win situation.

First, find another tenant.  Be especially sure to check their references and verify the tenant’s income.

Next, make the first tenant responsible for making sure everything is clean and in good working order, and the the house is move-in ready.

Lastly, have the new tenant take over the remaining term of the existing lease, and sign a new lease as well.

Doing this will minimize any loss of rental income or unnecessary repair expenses, and create a win-win situation for both the landlord and the tenant who wants to break a lease.

American Freelance Copywriters Are In Demand

american freelance copywriters

American freelance copywriters are in demand as never before.  This is according to the most recent Freelancing in America: 2017 survey.

As a top-rated and top-earning real estate freelance copywriter on Upwork I was fortunate enough to receive a copy of this report.  Here are some of the most interesting findings.

Why American Freelance Copywriters Are In Demand

The most recent survey identified a number of reasons why freelance American copywriters are in demand from clients around the world.

The top three factors for choosing a copywriter based in the U.S. include:

  • Freelancers in America are better prepared for the future – They take what they do seriously, and invest in themselves by taking skills-related education almost twice as much as their non-freelancing peers do.
  • American copywriters freelance by choice, not because they have to – Implicit in this decision is the determination to excel at what they do.  This means that clients of freelance copywriters can expect to receive the highest quality product.
  • Technology is enabling American freelance copywriters to do more for clients around the globe – Thanks in large part to the pervasiveness of the internet and the ability to work online from anywhere in the world.  American freelance copywriters are able to work with clients anywhere and anytime, no matter where the client is located.

American Freelance Copywriters Contribute To The Economy

The Freelancing in America: 2017 report notes that over the past year American freelance copywriters  – and freelancers overall – contributed about $1.4 trillion to the economy.

That’s more than the GDP of Panama and Costa Rica combined, according to the latest global GDP report from Statistics Times.

What Motives American Freelancers?

There are four motivating factors the American freelance copywriters have in common:

  1. Be their own boss
  2. Choose when they work
  3. Choose their own projects
  4. Choose where they work

While these four items relate to the freelancer, they also benefit the clients whose projects they take on.

That’s because a successful, full-time American freelance copywriter can be selective, which means that when a client’s project is accepted the work produced will be second to none.

 

How To Tell If A Real Estate Copywriting Client Is Legit

real estate copywriting client

As someone who makes their living as a freelance real estate copywriter, it’s important to be able to tell whether or not a real estate copywriting client is legitimate.

That’s because, as the old saying from Ben Franklin goes, time is money.  The more time a freelancer spends on a prospect who isn’t going to turn into an actual client, the less time there is for a legit client.

Real Estate Copywriting Client Litmus Test

In chemistry a litmus test is used to tell whether a solution is acidic or basic.  Freelance writers look for real estate copywriting clients who are acidic.  We want clients who actually do something – who react.

Basic clients, on the other hand, are those who do nothing.  In other words, they don’t react.

Ways To Make Sure A Copywriting Client Is Legit

First, look at how quickly a prospect responds to a project inquiry they’ve made.  Usually prospects are anxious to get their project completed.  That’s because, just as with real estate freelance copywriting, time is money in the real estate business as well.

Clients who take more than two or three days to reply to an inquiry they’ve made aren’t going to be that serious.  Or, they are actually a middleman in disguise, and they’re waiting for a response from their client.

Next, if the client won’t sign a contract for services, they’re not serious about their project.  Plain and simple.

Talking is one thing, but signing on the dotted line and submitting a deposit is something completely different.

Qualifying A Real Estate Copywriting Client

After we know a real estate copywriting client is legit, it’s important to know if their project is as well.  Not legitimate in the sense of an actual project existing, but in the sense of whether or not that project can be done well.

Is the project defined?  Are the characteristics of the target audience known?  Or is the real estate copywriting project vague, with the target market being everyone who is buying and selling real estate?

Some clients already know how to get the most from their freelance real estate copywriter, while others will need to be guided through the writing process.

The end goal is to make the real estate copywriting project a win-win for everyone involved.

Why It’s Important To Verify A Tenant’s Income

verify a tenant's income

Both beginning real estate investors who are buying their first rental property , first time landlords, and even experienced landlords often overlook the crucial steps to take to verify a tenant’s income.  Not doing this can end up being an expensive mistake, both in lost rental income and damage to the rental property.

If there’s one property management business plan tip to always remember, this is it.

Why Verify A Tenant’s Income?

In today’s real estate rental market, rents continue to go up while tenant’s incomes remain the same, or maybe even go down.

When this happens, people who would normally rent a place to live just for themselves often find that they need to have one or more roommates in order to make ends meet.

It’s easy to verify a tenant’s income when you’re only talking about one tenant.  But dealing with verifying the incomes of multiple tenants is a bit more difficult.

This is also where problems can occur.

Verifying The Income Of Multiple Tenants

As a rule of thumb, and depending on local laws and customs, landlords will usually require a total income of at least three-times the monthly rent in order for a tenant to qualify for a rental property.

Problems can occur with multiple tenants.

Many landlords believe that the more tenants they have on the lease, the more secure the lease will be.  That’s because the more people there will be to go after if the tenants default by not paying their rent.

All of this might be true.  But good landlords and property managers know it’s much more important to find and keep great tenants than having to chase down the bad ones for money owned.

The Risks Of Multiple Tenants

If one of the tenants on the lease ends up losing a job, relocating for work, or simply never moves into the rental property, the landlord ends up with a weaker group of tenants than expected.

Self-employed tenants can also be a risk, especially when the tenant says he works a cash-only job.

This type of tenant will offer to present a letter from his employer verifying the income.  This is always a big, big red flag for a landlord and a property management company.  Tenants with cash incomes will almost always create problems for the property owner – usually sooner rather than later!

Landlords should remember that it is more expensive to evict a tenant and repair damage to the property that it is to wait for a tenant whose income can be properly verified.

How To Flip Homes With No Money

flip homes with no money

Recently a reporter for a major publication asked for some comments on how to flip homes with no money down.  While at first glance this might seem like an impossible task, it can and is being done – more often than one might think!

Ways To Flip Homes With No Money Down

In today’s super-hot seller’s market where prices increase almost monthly, it isn’t that difficult to flip homes with no money down.

This technique is also known as a back-to-back or double escrow, where the buyer of a home turns around and sells it immediately after he (or she) closes escrow on their purchase.

Steps To Flip Homes With Money Down

Here’s a first-hand report on the three steps to take when you flip homes with no money.

#1.  Make an offer, get it accepted, and open escrow on the home.  Put down as little earnest money as possible and have the close of escrow as long as possible.

#2.  Market the home for sale while you have it tied up in escrow.  In a hot housing market prices will increase over a very short period of time.

#3.  Accept a purchase contract from a buyer of the home that you are waiting to close on, insisting that the close of escrow for your buyer be immediately following the close of escrow for the home you are buying.

Benefits Of Flipping A Home With No Money

Other than tying up your small earnest money deposit for 60 or 90 days, even longer if possible, you’ve invested nothing else in the deal.

You haven’t spent the time or money applying for a mortgage because you don’t need one.  There’s also been nothing spent on inspections or other due diligence items.

Plus if you’re a licensed real estate agent, you’re probably receiving a commission for buying the home that you’re flipping, increasing your potential profit even more!

Starting A Freelance Writing Business

starting a freelance writing business

If you’re thinking about starting a freelance writing business, of if you’re a prospective client curious to know how freelance writers work, then this article is for you.

Tips On Starting A Freelance Writing Business

CEO Blog Nation recently reached out to me, asking for my thoughts on the subject, and they were nice enough to publish what I had to say in their post 13 Entrepreneurs Share Advice On Starting A Side Business.

The main takeaway is that freelancers – and anybody who runs their own business – should think of themselves the same way that a company thinks of itself.

From birth we’re trained to do one thing and one thing only.  We go to school, obtain a degree specializing in a certain field, then go to work in that field.

That might be great for people who only want a 9-5 day job, but that approach simply doesn’t work for entrepreneurs and people starting a freelance writing business.

How To Think And Act Like A Company

This isn’t so much about incorporating yourself, having your clients sign freelance writing contracts, and collecting on bad debt.  Although all of those are important aspects of any freelance writing business.

Freelance writers should spend some time thinking about how to develop multiple revenue streams for themselves, just as a regular company does.  For example, Mercedes doesn’t just sell one car.  They sell multiple cars and they also design and build engines for other uses besides passenger vehicles.

Multiple Freelance Real Estate Writer Revenue Streams

Entrepreneurs thinking about starting a freelance writing business can use the same approach.

Here are three ways that freelance real estate writers in particular can make money with multiple revenue streams:

  1. Write real estate books and distribute them on multiple platforms, not just Amazon.
  2. Market your core business of freelance real estate writing through various offline and online venues, such as Upwork.
  3. Invest in real estate, even if it is just through a crowd funding site or by investing in a REIT.

Doing these three things will help you with your freelance writing craft, and also help demonstrate to prospective clients that you have first-hand experience with what you’re writing about.

How To Sell Your Home For The Most Money

sell your home for the most money

A writer from a national real estate publication recently contacted me asking how to sell your home for the most money.

Here are three quick tips on how to do exactly that.  One tip requires a high level of negotiating & people skills.

Make It Easy For Buyers To Call Your Place Home

There’s a lot of emotion tied up in the home buying and selling process.  As a seller, it’s important to tap into the buyer’s emotions.  One way to do that is to make it easy for the buyer to imagine living in your home.

This can be done by removing personal items such as family pictures, trophies or ribbons.  And anything else that reminds prospective buyers of you and not them.

First Impressions Count

Numerous articles have been written about the importance of curb appeal, first impressions, and removing clutter when you try to sell your home for the most money.

That’s because when you live in your home, when the place you are selling is your home, it’s difficult to be objective.  Your real estate agent won’t always be honest with you because they don’t want to offend you and end up looking for another listing.

So, consider bringing a close friend to critique your house.  One who isn’t going to mince words with you and who isn’t afraid to hurt your feelings because you’ve known each other for far too long.

Sell Your Home For The Most Money

This tip takes a lot of negotiating skill, up-to-the-minute knowledge of your real estate market, and a high level of understanding the emotions of buyers.

This technique involves pricing the home below market in order to attract multiple offers and encouraging a bidding war on your home.  The best offer wins, which will just so happen to be the highest priced offer.

This isn’t an easy thing to do, but it can be done when you have an experienced real estate agent as a negotiator on your side.

Offering real estate pre-possession to your buyer is another tactic used in a buyer’s market.  But, there are definite drawbacks to using this approach as well.

 

STEM Tenants

STEM tenants

STEM tenants currently drive the demand for office and industrial space in many markets throughout the U.S. and Canada.  They’re taking available space in previously vacant buildings, bringing relief to some depressed real estate markets.

What Are STEM Tenants?

STEM is an abbreviation for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.  In other words, cutting-edge industries such as high technology, biotechnology, and biosciences.

There are two reasons why STEM tenants have been bringing relief, and much needed rental revenues, to building owners and investors in REITs.

Why Are They Good?

A recent article in the World Property Journal noted that when STEM tenants lease space, they lease lots of it.  Often times in the 50,000 foot plus range.

Secondly, they’re great not just for owners of buildings with a high vacancy rate, but for secondary and tertiary markets as well.

That’s because companies that employ workers skilled in science, technology, engineering and mathematics find that they have to go where the talent is, rather than successfully recruiting employees to relocate and come to them.

Going Where The Work Force Is Skilled

That’s one of the reasons by high-tech companies such as Google, Amazon, and venture-capital funded startup companies are appearing in cities where you might not expect them to be.

They’ve got to go where the labor pool is.  This works out well for the tech companies too, because often times the non-traditional technology areas also have much more affordable space to lease than would Silicon Valley or Silicon Beach in California.

Office, Industrial, and More

While STEM employers are users of Class A office space, they will also re-purpose older Class B or C space, or renovate dated industrial property into a work environment that will attract the labor force that they need.

In certain markets there’s also an increase in shared work and office space, because when high-tech employers come to town, small support services and entrepreneurial businesses are also created.

Why Invest In A REIT?

invest in a REIT

Tell a friend you’re going to invest in a REIT and they’ll probably ask you why?

After all, most people get their start in real estate investing by buying a single family home to flip, them progress into smaller multifamily or apartment buildings.

On the commercial side of real estate investing, people often get their start by buying a small office condominium or a building for their own business.  Then, they branch out from there.

What all of these have in common is that they involve direct ownership of the real estate, something that a REIT does not.

What Is A REIT?

A REIT is a real estate investment trust, which is a form of group ownership of some or more pieces of property.  REITs can be asset class specific, for example investing only in apartment buildings.  Or they can be more generalized, holding a mix of real estate assets and targeting a specific return or investment strategy.

REITs can also be public or private.

An example of a large, publicly held REIT traded on the New York Stock Exchange is Equity Apartments (symbol EQR).

Privately held REITs have become more commonplace since the passage of the JOBS Act in 2012.  This allows smaller, non-accredited investors to put some of their capital into privately held REITs.

Three Reasons To Invest In A REIT

Unless a real estate investor is dead-set on owning properly directly, there are several advantages to investing in a REIT.

#1 Indirect Ownership of Property

This is an advantage because the real estate investor doesn’t have to get involved with the day-to-day issues of leasing or property management.

#2 Access To Class A Property

While the definition of Class A property varies from market to market, in general this term refers to only the newest or most updated property, with the best amenities, and credit-worthy national or regional tenants.

#3 Invest In Multiple Asset Classes

When a real estate investors buys directly they usually have limited resources, meaning they can only purchase one or two properties.  Investing in a REIT allows people to potentially own a mix of property across different real estate asset classes.

Is Investing In A REIT Right For You?

Since different investors have different investment strategies and objectives, only the investor can answer this question for sure.

But given the way the real estate market is growing, and the advantages that REITs offer, many people are finding that putting some investment capital into a REIT is a good way of diversifying their real estate investment portfolio.

 

Hurricanes and Real Estate

hurricanes and real estate

Hurricanes and real estate are definitely in the news lately.  Because I’ve been receiving a fair amount of client inquiries regarding this topic, here are a few takeaways to consider.

Hurricanes (and other things) Happen

“What all happens in a hurricane?”

“The wind blows so hard the ocean gets up on its hind legs and walks right across the land.”

The above conversation is from the 1948 movie Key Largo starring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall. They are stranded inside a hotel in Key Largo, Florida along with fellow travelers in the middle of a hurricane.

But this exchange could just as easily have taken place inside of any hotel when Hurricane Harvey hit Texas, Hurricane Irma hit the Caribbean and Florida, or Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico.

This isn’t meant to downplay in anyway the tragic loss of life and property.  But it is meant to point out that natural disasters do occur.

Hurricanes and Real Estate

The amount of projected damages just from Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma are about $200 billion.  Many local, national, and international real estate investors are questioning whether investing in coastal, hurricane-prone area makes sense.

Real estate investors need to consider their own comfort level when answering this question.  But taking a step back and a deep breath, it’s important to recognize that real estate markets consist of many sectors or asset classes.  All of which are affected differently following a natural disaster.

Different Real Estate Sectors React Differently

Professional real estate investors realize that just because a hurricane hits a large metropolitan area in the U.S., that the entire real estate market is not going to be destroyed.

Let’s take Hurricane Harvey in Houston, for example.  Of the total destruction, much of it was in the single family home asset class.  Over the short term, and possibly longer term, this boosts the multifamly housing and hotel real estate sectors.

Rebuilding also gives a boost to the industrial sector of Houston, as additional space for contractors, material and equipment is needed.  The retail sector also receives a push as companies such as Home Depot, Lowe’s, and other home improvement retailers see increased business.

Coastal Commercial Real Estate

Coastal cities such as Houston and Miami also play a major role in the global economy.  That’s highly unlikely to change because of weather.

Professional real estate investors should always consider the long-term, big picture of demand.   Risk management techniques include flood and property insurance, protection of mechanical systems, and sustainable construction such as rebuilding to LEED certified standards.