5 Common Problems That Arise When Rehabbing Properties

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Whether you’re a savvy investor looking to buy a bargain foreclosure or a first-time home buyer purchasing a fixer-upper, rehabbing homes has never been more popular. But it’s not easy.

From contractors who ghost you to unforeseen expenses that wreck your profit margins, all kinds of problems can arise and derail your renovation. 

1. Pricing Problems

The success of a house flip depends upon the sale price of the rehabbed home. That’s because the projected sale price determines how much you can pay for the property and how much you can budget for renovations that will increase your returns. But projecting “after repair value” (ARV) is more of an art than a science. 

House flippers often seek a projected ARV in the form of a broker’s price opinion, but those can vary wildly.

Although some brokers do actually work in the markets where they project post-renovation property values, many do not, which can limit the accuracy of their opinions. 

Another way to determine an investment’s ARV is to hire an appraiser who’s experienced with rehabs to estimate a value based on your renovation plans. This can be complicated, too, because as any house flipper knows, renovations rarely go exactly as planned. 

In addition, two appraisers looking at the same renovation plan may come to two different conclusions. Unfortunately, there could be appraisal problems. In the end, one of the most dependable ways to determine your property’s post-rehab price is to get several appraisals and average them together. 

Problems to Avoid Rehabbing a Home

2. Contractor Complications

Renovations will often unfold differently than you planned, often because of contractor problems. 

Everyone who’s remodeled knows that finding a dependable, honest contractor is the first step when flipping a house. Even with the ideal contractor, there are a lot of factors, such as  sourcing materials, scheduling, and subcontractor availability, that are out of your control.

These problems have only gotten worse in the post-pandemic era. Materials in short supply have gotten more expensive, and lead times have gotten longer, meaning there’s even more potential for scheduling snags.

Contractor delays are one of the most common problems that house flippers encounter. They’re also one of the most expensive because carrying costs, such as insurance, taxes, and utilities, eats into your profits day after day. But if you’re a homeowner, some of these costs, such as mortgage interest, can be valuable tax deductions

However, if you’re funding renovations through credit cards or out of pocket, there are few things more frustrating than living in a half-renovated home.

Of course, you might be stuck with a contractor who does poor-quality work. This can be a very serious problem, especially if you have to fire them and start over with someone else. 

If you find yourself in this situation, document the problematic work through time-stamped photos and written correspondence, so if you have to go to court, you can present a real-time record of what happened. 

3. A Less-Than-Ideal Market Fit

You’ve probably heard of seller’s remorse — when a recent home seller regrets their sale. But rehabber’s remorse is also a common sentiment. 

A typical mistake made by novice home flippers is that they renovate the property according to their own tastes instead of what future buyers will want. Then they find themselves with an unsellable property.

Although you may love stainless steel appliances and quartz countertops in the single-family home you just rehabbed, the high-end features might price the property out of reach for first-time homebuyers who are the primary buyers in that neighborhood. 

Carefully consider all renovation plans that hinge on matters of taste, such as open floor plans, carpet, finishes, or outdoor space. Rehab to the market, not what personally appeals to you. If you’re not sure what local buyers are looking for, ask a good real estate agent.

4. Old Pipes and Wiring

Outdated and dangerous plumbing and electrical fixtures are some of the most common problems that remodelers face, especially if they work on older properties.

When it comes to plumbing, most homes built before the 1960s use galvanized pipes, which are notorious for becoming corroded or clogged. Although it’s a big and pricey undertaking, you’ll want to replace those pipes with newer copper or PVC pipes. 

It’s less troublesome if you’re doing a gut renovation because the pipes will be exposed anyway. If you’re not doing a gut renovation, you’ll probably have to tear up some floor.

Old wiring presents a similar problem. Outdated electrical wiring is easily overloaded and can be a fire hazard. You’ll want to rewire the home and replace all the outlets. That’s work that will have to be done by a licensed electrician and can be very time consuming.

5. Hazardous Materials

Many rehabbed properties are on the older side, which means they could contain hazardous materials, such as asbestos or lead.

Lead is most commonly found in paint or water pipes. The federal government banned lead paint in 1978, but many homes built before that year contain some. If the paint begins to peel, flake, or chip, it can spread harmful lead dust.

Home sellers are legally obligated to disclose facts about lead paint to buyers. If you’re rehabbing a home for the market, it could make your sale a lot easier if you remediate the problem yourself. If you’re an owner who’s planning to live in the home, you’ll definitely want to remove anything that could harm your health. 

The expense and scope of the process is going to depend on how much lead paint is in the home. If the exterior is covered in lead-based paint, you’ll have to encase the home in a protective shroud while professionals carefully remove the paint. That’s a process that’s as expensive as it sounds, but hopefully you can get a home buyer rebate to help with the cost. 

Soil may also have to be removed if it’s contaminated. Even if you only have a little lead paint inside the home, you’ll need professionals to remove and dispose of it according to safety regulations. 

Asbestos is even more dangerous than lead and can be found in insulation, floor tiles, siding, wallpaper, and even fabrics made before 1980. Like lead, asbestos removal requires special expertise and should only be handled by professionals. 

What Will Happen to Your Home After Filing Bankruptcy?

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Filing for bankruptcy is a difficult decision that is generally only recommended as a last resort. However, if you find yourself in an impossible financial situation, it may be the best path forward. 

If you own a home, you’ll want to understand how the bankruptcy process impacts your home ownership status. While it is possible to lose your home or other valuable assets when filing for bankruptcy, that’s not the only possible outcome.

We’ll walk you through everything you need to know about bankruptcy, the two different types of bankruptcy you can file, and help you understand what will happen to your home or any other property you may own after filing.

Home Filing Bankruptcy

First, what is bankruptcy?

Bankruptcy is a legal process that offers partial or total debt relief if you cannot repay the money you owe to creditors. The process of filing for bankruptcy typically requires a court order.

During the bankruptcy process, your assets may be liquidated. This means that anything you own of value, like your house, your car, and other items, may be turned over to your creditors. However, there are some exceptions, particularly depending on which type of bankruptcy you file.

Filing for bankruptcy is not a decision you should take lightly. While it can help eliminate your debt and allow you to start over again with a clean slate, it also significantly hurts your credit report. A bankruptcy mark on your credit report will lower your credit score, and you may find it difficult to obtain credit for several years after filing.

Depending on the type of bankruptcy you file, it will be removed from your credit report in 7 to 10 years.

What are the different types of bankruptcies?

There are two main types of bankruptcy an individual can file when facing financial challenges: Chapter 7 bankruptcy or Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Both types of bankruptcy can help you eliminate high-interest debt from credit cards — but there are a few differences.

What is Chapter 7 bankruptcy?

Chapter 7 bankruptcy is often referred to as straight bankruptcy. This type of bankruptcy will discharge all eligible debts by selling off certain assets and providing the money earned to your creditors. If you still have a balance owed to your creditors after your assets are liquidated, it will be wiped clean. If you own a home, you’ll likely lose your property when filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

Some assets are exempt from this process, such as cars, home essentials, and equipment for your job. And, not all debt can be eliminated. While you’ll be able to get rid of credit card debt, your mortgage, medical bills, and personal or auto loans, you cannot eliminate alimony, child support, taxes owed to the IRS or your state, or student loans.

This type of bankruptcy also stays on your credit report for ten years, which can make it difficult for you to finance other purchases, like a car or home. 

What is Chapter 13 bankruptcy?

Filing Chapter 13 bankruptcy, however, can help you keep your home. The tradeoff is that you’ll agree to repay all or some of your debt — depending on what the court decides. Your lawyer and the court will work out a repayment plan (usually between 3 to 5 years) to repay all debts. At the end of the repayment term, any remaining debt will be eliminated.

Since you’re still paying your debtors, you’re often able to keep some of your assets. This may be a better option if you’re a homeowner who needs debt relief but is worried about losing your home. Just be sure to talk to your lawyer before filing, to make sure you’ll be able to retain your house.

Unlike Chapter 7 bankruptcy, Chapter 13 bankruptcy only remains on your credit report for 7 years, reducing the amount of time when you might find it more difficult to obtain credit or financing.

How bankruptcy impacts co-owned homes

If you own a home with someone else and one of you files bankruptcy individually, what will happen to your home depends on the type of bankruptcy you file and the state you live in. If you file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy and agree to a debt repayment plan, you’re more likely to keep your home.

However, if you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you and the co-owner of the home may lose the property depending on your state’s laws. While you, the filer, are likely to be removed as the homeowner.

For example, if your state has common law property rules, that means both you and the co-owner own half of the property individually. In this case, the court won’t be able to take the co-owner’s half of the property and it may be exempt from bankruptcy. However, sometimes the court can sell the entire property (and the co-owner who did not file will receive their legal share of the profits). 

If you live in a state with community property status and you’re married to the co-owner of the home, you’ll likely both lose the property. That’s because it’s seen as a shared “community property” that the court is entitled to take and sell if you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

Can I buy a home in the future after filing for bankruptcy

Yes, but you’ll often have to wait a few years. Some home loans, like FHA loans, let you buy a home as soon as one year after filing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, provided you meet some requirements. However, if you’ve filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you often need to wait up to two years after your bankruptcy is discharged.

It may be difficult to secure a conventional home loan just after filing for bankruptcy. It’s a good idea to try to wait until you’ve had time to begin rebuilding your credit score before applying for a home loan. You’ll also want to make sure your debt-to-income ratio is low. Both can boost your chances of receiving better terms and a lower interest rate.

The bottom line

Filing for bankruptcy is a huge decision that could end up costing you your home and other valuable assets. However, if your debt is overwhelming, filing for bankruptcy can also help you get back on your feet. We recommend talking to a debt counselor or lawyer to find out if bankruptcy is the right move for you.

7 Barriers Preventing You From Earning Money in Real Estate

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Whether you’re looking at rental properties, flipping houses, or buying into a crowdfunding opportunity, investing in real estate offers ways to make extra income and build a nest egg for retirement. 

Real Estate agents can make significant income and so can investors.

But making serious money in real estate takes more than buying a property and sticking a “for rent” or “for sale” sign in the front yard. It involves extensive research, investing time and money, and having the patience to see your investment through. And there are obstacles that could keep you from getting the best return on your investment.

Here are seven common barriers that can prevent you from making money with real estate — and how you can overcome them.

Barriers Preventing Making Money in Real Estate

Not Enough Knowledge

The most common reason you may not earn money — or even lose it — when investing in real estate is that you don’t have enough information. To avoid losing money on a bad investment, it’s important to learn everything you can about the market.

Extensive research will help you decide what kind of investment is best for you and your financial goals. That means if you’re interested in rental properties, you should learn as much as you can about your local rental market, such as how much you can expect to charge in rent each month, and what you will be responsible for as the landlord.

Connect with a local realtor who can help you find the best property for your goal. If you’re more interested in Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) or buying a share in a crowdfunding project, talk with a financial expert you can trust. 

Mixed News Reports

While having access to unlimited informational resources can be helpful, too much information — especially conflicting reports — can also get in your way. 

The differing information may be about whether or not now is a good time to invest, or what you can expect to pay in interest rates. It can also differ with fundamentals, such as whether or not it’s a good idea to buy a foreclosed property or how much money you’ll be expected to pay when buying and flipping houses. 

Make sure you get your news from reliable sources, and always look for multiple opinions. When in doubt, consult with a local real estate expert who can give you more insight into your market.

Aversion to Risk

Fear of failure is another barrier that can get in the way of making money in real estate. Any investment requires some risk because it’s impossible to predict the outcome. If you’re afraid of facing any risk, you may end up flipping a home and selling it for less than you could have, or maybe you won’t even bother investing from the start.

It’s normal to have some fear, but don’t let it guide you. Remember that real estate tends to be a lower risk investment than others, such as playing the stock market. Remember to pull from your research and let the facts — not fear — guide you.

Making Emotional Decisions

In addition to fear, making decisions based on other emotions can also keep you from getting the most out of your real estate investments. Instead of letting your emotions guide you, every decision you make should be based on data and information.

When shopping for a new income property, it’s easy to look at a house and imagine whether or not you would want to live there. While that’s a natural response, it’s important to look at all properties from the perspective of future buyers or renters. That’s information you can get from knowing your market and staying updated on the latest housing trends in your area.

Not Having Enough Money

New real estate investors, in particular, might find it difficult to begin because they’re worried they don’t have enough money. This is a legitimate concern, but rather than letting it keep you from investing, you can use your financial considerations as a guide to make decisions.

For example, if you’re starting out, you could work with a partner to buy a fixer-upper and share the costs and responsibility of preparing it for the market. You should also look for tax breaks and deductions that can decrease your expenses or increase your profits.

Whatever path you take, be sure to keep a careful eye on your cash flow, tracking all expenses and income. If you’re starting out, it may be beneficial to take a couple classes or to work with real estate and investment experts who can help you build your budget.

Gender Biases

Unfortunately, some of the roadblocks that get in the way of earnings involve inherent biases. Reports show that single women in particular receive lower returns when buying and selling homes than their male counterparts.

But if you’re a woman looking to make money in real estate, don’t let history get in the way. There is a growing number of single women making money as realtors, renovators, and landlords. Look to join women-led networks that will provide you the information and support you need to develop your real estate investment portfolio.

Buying Outside of Your Local Market

It’s tempting to buy a rental property in a hot market. But if you’re new to real estate and the property is far from your current base, this could actually get in the way of your earning potential. Not only is it harder to learn about a market from a long distance, but you will also have to plan on spending a portion of your earnings paying for property managers and contractors to maintain your property on your behalf.

When you’re starting out in any business, it takes time and effort to get to know the market and build relationships with people you can trust. It’s harder to learn about a market and develop contacts with property managers and contractors when you have hundreds or thousands of miles separating you. 

It’s a good rule of thumb to start small and to work locally when you’re starting out in real estate. Over time, you may feel more comfortable working in other markets, but you can’t expect that overnight.

Investing in Single-Family vs. Multi-family Properties

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Seasoned real estate investors know when it comes to investing in single-family rental (SFR) or multifamily rental (MFR) homes that each type of property comes with its own set of pros and cons.

Single-family homes are generally freestanding residences designed to accommodate one family on a parcel of land and with one set of utilities.

Multifamily homes are intended to accommodate more than one family living independently from one another, although they may share walls, common areas, garages, or outdoor spaces. 

Single-family rental homes can be relatively easy to buy and hold, offer flexibility, and generally have lower associated costs, but SFRs typically produce less income than multi-family homes and pose a financial risk if you find yourself without a tenant for any length of time. 

Multifamily homes may provide multiple revenue streams and generate higher income, but MFRs also have higher costs associated with building maintenance and management. 

Many MFRs are co-owned by an investment syndicate —  meaning a collection of investors — and profits are shared amongst the co-owners. While this can reduce the risk for an investor, it also means you have less individual control over the property.

Which type of property is the most beneficial investment opportunity for you will depend on multiple factors including your financial goals, budget, and market conditions.

For example, if it is a buyer’s market or a seller’s market.

Single Family vs Multi Family InvestingAdvantages of Single-Family Rentals

Less Expensive to Start

A key advantage of single-family properties is that because they’re typically less expensive than MFRs, they require less of a cash investment up front.

Conventional lenders traditionally require a 20% down payment for a standard residential real estate loan, but a multifamily property with four or more units will likely require an investor to finance the purchase through a commercial lender, which typically requires a down payment between 25% and 30%.

A $100,000 SFR would require about $20,000 for a down payment, while a $1 million multifamily property, for example, would require $250,000 or more.

Of course, a larger property loan equates to a larger monthly mortgage payment as well, making MFRs cost-prohibitive for some investors. 

Easy to Sell

Because single-family homes are relatively easy to buy, that means they’re usually easy to sell when the time comes to exit your investment. The buyer’s pool for SFRs is larger because it includes traditional buyers as well as potential investors.

Selling a multifamily property requires a more carefully planned strategy and can take longer to execute. 

If it’s a vacation rental property it is likely to be in a high demand area.

Low Tenant Turnover

Single-family rental homes typically see lower tenant turnover than multifamily properties, with the average tenant renting for three or more years.

Many SFR tenants have families with children and are looking to put down roots in a particular neighborhood or are attracted to the school district. It makes sense that SFR tenants looking for long-term stability are more likely to treat the property as their own. 

That said, realize that replacing tenants when they do move on involves maintenance like cleaning and repairs due to normal wear and tear, possible upgrades or updates to the property, and marketing the home to a pool of potential tenants. 

Your finances should be able to absorb an out-of-pocket loss of rent should your property sit vacant for any length of time while you market to new tenants. 

Growing Demand

Demand for single-family rental homes has grown by 30% in the U.S. in the last five years and is expected to continue to grow steadily. Because SFRs are in high demand, they tend to appreciate at a higher value than multifamily rentals. 

Advantages of multifamily rentals

Higher Cash Flow

A multifamily rental typically generates a higher rental income than an SFR because of the simple fact that an MFR comprises more units. One single-family home equates to one stream of revenue, while a multifamily home with four units provides four rental streams. 

Because of this, vacancies pose less of an issue with an MFR as well. If a tenant moves out of a 4-unit multifamily residence, the landlord is still receiving 75% of the rental income until that tenant is replaced.

It’s far less likely that an MFR will suffer from 0% occupancy at any given time than an SFR. This safety net of revenue streams usually reduces the risk an MFR will go into foreclosure. 

Able to Scale Faster

Investors can quickly grow a real estate portfolio at once by purchasing a multifamily property. Increasing your portfolio by ten, for example, is easier to do by purchasing a ten-unit apartment building than purchasing ten individual single-family homes with ten separate mortgages.

Securing financing for an MFR might require working with a commercial lender with stricter guardrails, but you’ll be securing a single mortgage rather than ten. 

Economies of Scale 

It’s usually more efficient and cost-effective to manage multiple units under one roof, as well as increase the value of those units with a single upgrade, improvement, or repair. 

If you repair the roof or the HVAC system on a multifamily home, add a pool to the outdoor space, or update the common entryway, you’re completing that project one time but increasing the value of each unit in the building. 

In addition, a multifamily property requires only one insurance policy, one location to market multiple units and host showings, and one location to perform routine inspections and maintenance. 

Most property management companies charge less to manage MFRs as well. Rates to manage a multifamily property are generally about 4% to 7% of the monthly gross income, compared to the average 10% charged to manage an SFR. 

Though some real estate investors focus exclusively on buying one type of property versus another, the reality is that both single-family and multifamily properties have their benefits and challenges. 

A single-family property might be a good choice if you’re a new investor, want to spend less cash upfront, or need the relatively high liquidity and ease with which you can both enter and exit the investment market. 

A multifamily property could work for you if you’re ready to expand and diversify your portfolio, can handle the higher costs associated with owning a multifamily residence, or are willing to share profits and have less control by purchasing MFR property through a syndicate. 

Ultimately, the right property for you will depend on your current needs and long-term goals.

What Type of Property Is Best for Your First Real Estate Investment?

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Real estate is a popular investment strategy because it’s so diverse. From condos to single-family homes, and long-term rentals to nightly vacation stays, there are many different opportunities to earn passive income. 

When looking in the MLS at property listings, It’s easy to feel overwhelmed because there’s a lot to sort through for a beginner in this space. Ready for the good news? The first step is the most daunting. 

While buying up real estate does require you to be a little financially savvy, the hardest part is saving up for that down payment.

Once you have enough for about 20% down, it’s time to start searching for your first property! Here’s everything you should consider as you take this first step toward investing in real estate.

First Real Estate Investment

Deciding Between Long-Term and Short-Term Rental Strategies

One thing to think about before you buy is your rental strategy. Long-term and short-term rentals differ greatly, so it’s important to consider your goals before you buy a property. 

Long-term rentals are usually provided to tenants in a lease agreement that lasts for a minimum of six months. These rentals offer steady and reliable income with the bonus of appreciation over the course of many years. 

The main risk here is retaining tenants. Depending on the type of property you buy, tenant turnover can be a hassle.

If you do choose to go this route, you may want to consider hiring a property management company. This can relieve the stress of finding tenants, along with a variety of other landlord tasks, such as maintenance requests.

Alternatively, short-term rentals have become an increasingly popular strategy over the last decade. These are vacation rentals that are available on a nightly basis for shorter periods of time.

Whether you rent out your own home or buy a property solely for the purpose of creating a short-term rental, a good location can result in desirable profits.

Many investors use companies like Airbnb and VRBO to advertise their homes and maintain occupancy.

Fixer-Upper vs. Turnkey 

Before you begin your search, you’ll also need to think about whether you’re up for the challenge of a fixer-upper. These types of homes can vary greatly when it comes to how much rehab they need. 

On one end of the spectrum, you may have a property that is outdated, but the bones are good. A kitchen refresh or a simple bathroom remodel will do the trick. For those who enjoy these types of projects (or have the money to hire a contractor), it can be relatively easy. 

On the other hand, a distressed property may come as a great deal in a competitive market, but the renovation process will be highly involved.

Many people go this route and then refinance to find a loan that includes the repairs in addition to the initial purchase price.  

Budgeting for home renovations becomes a key consideration.

For some investors, the fixer-upper is just too daunting. This is when a turnkey rental property will be your best bet.

Whether it’s a condo or a single-family home, “turnkey” refers to properties that are essentially immaculate and ready for immediate use. This is ideal for a beginner investor who doesn’t have the time, experience, or money to take on big renovation projects.

Types of Homes to Consider for Your First Investment

Now that we’ve discussed the various strategies associated with real estate investments, it’s time to find a property. Here are the main types of homes you’ll find on the market, with information on the pros and cons of each.

Single-Family Homes

This is probably the most common route for beginner investors because it’s usually a safe bet. Single-family homes are relatively affordable and easy to manage on a day-to-day basis. 

Because they’re in demand, especially in family-oriented suburbs, the opportunity to attract high-quality tenants is promising. In fact, find a single-family home in a great school district, and you can probably guarantee you won’t deal with frequent tenant turnover.

So, what are the cons? The main thing to consider here is that your ROI probably won’t be seen through monthly rental income. It will come a few years down the line when you sell the house.

Multi-Family Homes

When a residential property has at least two separate units, it’s classified as multi-family housing. 

The benefit of this type of investment is higher monthly rental income. That said, qualifying for the right financing can be complicated. This makes it a less common option for a beginner investor. 

If you are thinking of going this route, consider starting with a duplex (housing with just two units) and see if it’s the right fit for your investment goals.

Townhouses

A townhouse is a multi-floor home that is common in both suburbs and urban areas. They share one or two walls with neighboring units, while still offering more privacy than a condo. 

They are usually smaller than a single-family home, but they still offer the feeling of a traditional house. In fact, most have two stories, and many have three or more. In most cases, a Homeowners Association (HOA) oversees the surrounding landscaping and any other shared spaces.

Condos

Unlike a townhouse, a condo may be above or below another unit, making it more like an apartment. The difference is that condos are owned by individuals instead of one large management company. 

These are typically small and low maintenance because the HOA will handle shared spaces (much like a townhouse). Condos usually include amenities like gyms or swimming pools, which are nice to have, but can lead to higher monthly HOA fees.

Closing the Deal

Real estate is a promising investment, regardless of the type of property you choose for your first venture. In addition to generating rental income, you may reap the benefit of profitable appreciation and various tax benefits. It’s a diverse type of investing with many different facets.

Take time to research the housing market trends in your area and dive into your financing options. Stick with a deal that you understand before you start to think outside the box. A straightforward and safe investment is usually the best route to take when you’re just getting started.

Tips For Seniors Buying Home Insurance

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Homeowners insurance is a vast and confusing topic, so it’s difficult to know where to begin with finding a plan.

If you are hunting for the best home insurance for seniors, there are some key factors to consider. We’ll walk you through homeowners insurance benefits and help you figure out where to begin.

What does homeowners insurance cover?

Homeowners insurance has some significant benefits that you may not realize. Here’s a broad look at what most plans cover as well as some details from AARP’s program, The Hartford.

Let’s look at what these policies cover and don’t cover.

Seniors Home Insurance

Homeowner’s insurance covers:

  • Damage to your home from fire, lightning, theft, freezing pipes, hail, and more
  • Damage to other structures on your property
  • Water damage from rainstorms or leaking pipes within the home
  • Personal property damage or theft, even if this occurs outside of the house (for example, in your car)
  • The cost of relocation and hotel bills if you can’t stay in your home during repairs
  • The cost of moving companies if you need to move furniture during repairs
  • Liability protection if someone gets injured in your home

Homeowner’s insurance often does not cover:

  • Damage from the earth shifting, such as sinkholes and earthquakes
  • Water damage from floods, backup from sewer lines, or a maintenance problem that the homeowner did not address
  • Bird, rodent, and insect damage
  • Wear and tear and normal aging of the home
  • Poor quality or defective craftsmanship

While this list may seem daunting, just make sure to clarify the policy details with your insurance company before signing. Also, think about the common natural disasters in your area, such as flooding, tornadoes, hail, or earthquakes, and make sure the plan has that covered or add on specific coverage for that event.

Factors That Go Into a Home Insurance Premium

Many companies offer senior discounts for those over 65, so when you get quotes from companies, make sure to ask. There are various other factors to consider when choosing a plan, and companies look at more than just age when determining your premium.

As far as premiums go, companies look at many factors, such as:

  • Age of the home
  • How close the house is to a fire station
  • Whether the home is in a floodplain or a high-crime area
  • Whether you are retired. If you’re retired, you are more likely to be at home and notice a home issue sooner to get lower rates.
  • The quality of the home and the material. For example, wood siding is a higher risk than metal.
  • Your history of filing home insurance claims. Some companies offer discounts if you haven’t filed any claims recently.
  • Whether you have locks and a security system
  • Where you park your car
  • Whether you live in a gated community

The list could go on, but the point is that most of these factors are not related to age but the home or location of the house.

Deciding on a Homeowners Insurance Policy

If you are a first-time home-buyer, make sure to price multiple companies. Start early in your home-buying process when you think through all the other home-buying questions, so you have time to find the best rates.

If you currently have a homeowners insurance plan and have turned 65, ask about additional senior discounts. Shop around to other companies, as insurance companies often give new customers lower rates than existing customers.

One great plan for seniors and pensioners is the AARP’s plan called The Hartford, which gives seniors an affordable premium that can be lowered even more if you bundle it with their car insurance. However, you can also find good plans at many other companies and possibly get a senior discount, as well.

How to Save Money on Homeowners Insurance

The most recent data from Bankrate puts the average yearly cost of homeowner’s insurance at $1,312 per year for a plan with a $250,000 dwelling coverage limit. That is a reasonable number, but finding ways to cut down on your costs during retirement is essential.

Another tip for saving money is making sure to have working smoke alarms and locks as well as a home security system. This is not only a critical maintenance aspect of owning a home, but it also can lower insurance premiums. Ask the insurance company what other discounts they give, as these can add up.

Finally, bundle as much as you can. When you bundle home and car insurance with the same company, they will often give a discount on your premiums. However, you need to ensure that the bundled rate is lower than what you’d get from a competitor.

Insuring at Replacement Cost, Not Market Value

When you insure your home, you want to avoid insuring for the amount you’d get if you listed the house today. Insure the home at its replacement cost by talking with the insurance company about the cost it would take to replace your home.

We are talking about lumber and cement and windows, not the inflated price of your home in the current market. By only covering the replacement cost of your home, you can get yourself a less expensive plan.

High or Low: Which Deductible to Choose

Though seniors may opt for lower-deductible health insurance plans if they have chronic conditions, the same logic does not apply to homeowners insurance. Here you want to choose a higher deductible plan.

The reason is that homeowners insurance is meant to cover significant losses like significant hail damage or a fire. It is not meant to fix a dog jumping up and breaking a glass window pane. In the latter case, it’s better just to replace the window pane and not file a claim to your insurance company.

Just choose the plan with a deductible that you could pay if you needed to, but one that is still high. Having a higher deductible plan will allow the monthly premiums to be much lower, and you will still have good coverage for catastrophic events.

What about veterans?

If you are an active-duty military member or a veteran, you may be able to get a military discount from many insurance companies. You can also consider one of the two insurance companies that serve only vets and active military: USAA and Armed Forces Insurance.

Remember to price out the competition to find the cheapest rate, as these companies aren’t necessarily giving you the best deal.

Luke WilliamsAbout the author: The above article on insurance tips for seniors was written by Luke Williams. Luke writes and researches for the insurance comparison site, ExpertInsuranceReviews.com. His passions include writing about personal finance, insurance, and other ways everyday people can spend better.

Guide to Buy and Hold Real Estate Investing

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Buy-and-hold real estate investing is a strategy for wealth building that does not require a large infusion of cash to get started. With a little bit of research — and a lot of elbow grease — it can be a great way for beginners to start investing their money.

Buy-and-hold real estate investing, also known as the BRRRR method, is a strategy in which investors buy properties in need of rehabilitation, rent them out, and refinance them to repeat the process.

It’s a great way for those new to real estate investing to have greater control over short- and long-term investments.

Buy and Hold Real Estate Investing

The Benefits of BRRR

Tax Benefits

A buy-and-hold investment offers tax benefits via a 1031 exchange if you sell a property and invest the proceeds into another like-kind property.

This can be especially profitable if you’re utilizing a 1031 exchange in Florida, a state with few regulations and a white-hot housing market.

Save Money on Property Management

More money will flow back into your pocket if you manage your properties. Some investors may not have the time or expertise to act as property managers, but if you do, it’s a great way to improve your return on investment.

Earn Passive Rental Income

Once you’ve completed the buy-and-hold process, rental income is passive. You’ll need to complete repairs as needed and clean units between tenants, but it can be a low-maintenance way to earn extra income if done correctly.

Utilizing one of the best home rental websites will allow you to quickly and easily find a tenant. This is how you build wealth. Your investments make money for you. 

Investment Appreciation

In addition to passive income, real estate values generally appreciate. In 2021, the average home price rose by nearly 17%. That beats the stock market’s rate of return by 7%.

How To Get Started

There are six steps to a buy-and-hold real estate investment strategy.

Step 1: Work With the Best Realtor

A crucial step is to locate the best property, so you’ll need to start with a great Realtor. You can save money on this step by using an experienced discount broker to save money on commission. 

Step 2: Buy the Right Property

Once you secure a Realtor, you can start looking for the right property. 

  • Look for properties that will provide at least a 1% monthly return on investment. For example, if you buy a property for $200,000, your rental income should be at least $2,000 a month. Have your real estate agent perform a comparative market analysis of similar homes that have sold recently in the area to ensure you don’t overpay for a property.
  • Avoid condos, properties with homeowners associations, and properties in historic districts. These are typically more challenging for new BRRRR investors and can eat into the bottom line.
  • Purchase a “value-add” property. This investment requires a little sweat equity to bring out its true value. If the work’s already been completed, your return on investment will plummet.

Step 3: Be Smart About Remodeling

That “value-add” property is going to need some work. You’ll have to put some money into it upfront, but there are ways to save while you make improvements.

Ensure you always pull permits so there are no building code violations.

  1. Use a cash-back credit card. If you spend $100,000 rehabbing and charge it to a 2% cashback card, you’ll save $2,000.
  2. Use professionals when you need them and DIY the rest. For repairs, such as electrical and plumbing, that are highly technical or require a licensed contractor, let the professionals handle it. Do it yourself if you’re just refreshing the paint or making small cosmetic repairs. Having reliable contractors can be a godsend.

Step 4: Choose Good Tenants

Rental properties are a lot like your children. No one will care for them exactly the same way you do. That said, taking the time to pick the perfect tenants will help you protect your investment. 

  • Start with a solid lease agreement. This might require a conversation with a  lawyer, but it’s worth it to draft a document that is clear, specific, and free of loopholes.
  • Consider a property manager. This can add anywhere from 8–10% in monthly expenses, but if the property is large — or you don’t have time to do the job — it might be worth the cost.
  • Screen tenants carefully. If you choose to manage the property yourself, take time to find excellent tenant screening tools. You’ll want to look specifically for good credit and a rental history free of evictions.
  • Be fair. Treat every tenant exactly the same way, regardless of circumstances. You might be tempted to offer benefits and exemptions to some tenants, but resist that temptation. In the end, the BRRRR method is a business, and a consistent approach is best for you and your tenants.

Step 5: Refinance

You’ve bought, rehabbed, and rented your property. Now it’s time to refinance. 

  • Choose a lender. Credit unions and small community banks tend to have more favorable rates. Online banks are another resource, often with lower — or zero — closing costs. Don’t forget to compare rates and fees.
  • Get an appraisal. This helps you realize the fruits of your labor during the rehabilitation phase.
  • Make sure you can cash out. Your lender should be able to offer a new mortgage that’s higher than the original. Cashing out puts money in your pocket for the final step — building your portfolio. 
  • Mind the seasoning period. Some lenders require you to keep your first mortgage for a set period of time before refinancing. 

Step 6: Start Looking for a New Property

With your refinancing complete and your cash in hand, it’s time to look for your next property.

Before starting your search, take time to reflect on what worked and what didn’t in your first buy-and-hold real estate investment. There’s no sense in making the same mistake twice.

All the investment books in the world don’t replace experience, so figure out what parts of BRRRR worked for you.

Why the Great Resignation is Causing Disruption in the Housing Market

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As the world experienced its second year of the COVID-19 pandemic, the virus made its mark on the housing and job markets. In 2021, more than 47 million Americans resigned from their jobs, creating a movement dubbed the Great Resignation.

At the same time, the housing market boomed, driving up home prices with more people looking for homes than selling.

Bidding wars have become the norm and not the exception. Buyers have been forced to do out-of-the-ordinary things like pay cash, waive home inspections, or offer appraisal gap coverage in the event house doesn’t appraise.

To say that real estate markets have been different would be an understatement.

A recent study conducted by Real Estate Witch surveyed 1,000 many Americans who were part of the Great Resignation about why they left their jobs and how their priorities in life have shifted.

As more companies seek to hire or retain employees by allowing them to work from home, workers are growing more accustomed to having flexibility in where they live. Working remotely has become far more commonplace.

A home close to work is no longer a top priority, allowing people to purchase houses in less urbanized areas with lower costs of living.

Let’s take a closer look at the study’s findings, including how the Great Resignation and the housing market are affecting each other.  

Great Resignation Disrupts Housing Market

A Change in Culture and Lifestyle

Experiencing a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic seems to have shifted the mindset many employees have about their needs in a job and workplace.

The pandemic was at the forefront of employees’ minds as they changed jobs, with 80% of respondents saying it influenced their decision to quit. Of those, 41% said their employers didn’t implement enough health and safety measures and 28% did not want to follow newly established protocols.

Asked to list the main reasons why they left their jobs, the most common answer (31% of respondents) was that workers quit to leave behind toxic work environments that included discrimination, harassment, and a lack of work-life balance.

Early in the pandemic, many jobs shifted to a work-from-home structure. During this time, some employees found they enjoyed working from home because it freed them from stressful workplaces. 

Others enjoyed the extra time that working from home gave them for their personal lives, particularly by cutting down on commuting and after-hours work functions.

The appeal of escaping the office and establishing a better work-life balance has led to increased interest in online jobs that offer more convenience.

With people shifting to work from home, houses are becoming more than a place to live. Homes have to meet more needs, serving as an office, gym, classroom, and more. With the freedom of working from home and the need for more space, many homeowners in 2021 wanted to trade in their smaller homes in more expensive zip codes for larger homes with a lower price per square foot. 

When looking for a home that has multiple functions to meet, it’s important to know how to find a real estate agent who can help you locate properties that fulfill your growing list of needs.

This also became a peak time for real estate investors looking to take advantage of the 1031 exchange and roll over the profits of their investments by buying new properties in places like Texas, which has a lower cost of living than other parts of the country and is in demand for buyers and renters alike. 

Financial Considerations at Stake

With housing prices and inflation on the rise, it may be surprising to find that salary was not the primary consideration for all of the survey respondents.

As they quit their jobs, 80% of employees received a counteroffer from their employer.  

A counteroffer might have persuaded some to stay on board, especially those who did not have a new job already lined up. 

Of the 55% of people who had a job lined up before quitting, 53% left to take a job that had a decrease in salary while 42% reported an increase in pay.

On average, respondents reported an $8,000 annual pay cut, and many said they would’ve taken an even bigger cut to leave their job in exchange for better working conditions or an opportunity to work from home.

For households experiencing a drop in income — either by going from two salaries to one or having an overall reduction — many were looking to trim expenses by moving somewhere with a lower cost of living than their current community.

Employees working from home have more freedom to choose where they live, allowing them to take things like personal and lifestyle goals into account instead of having their options limited to places close to their employer.

As people look to save money when house hunting, it’s important to work with a real estate agent who can not only get you a bargain on your new home but can save you money throughout the process.

One way to do this is by working with a real estate agent who charges a lower commission fee than traditional realtors. While most agents charge 2.5% to 3% of the purchase price, some agents are willing to work for a flat fee or a rate of 1% to 1.5%.

Having commissions set in stone is one of many common real estate myths.

Quick Decisions and Long-term Outcomes

During the height of the housing boom in 2021, homeowners in the process of selling were accepting offers almost as soon as they listed their homes on the market, with buyers making quick decisions to find the home of their dreams. 

Many employees moved equally fast when deciding to leave behind their old workplace. Nearly one in four people resigned after mulling it over for less than a week.

About half of the employees gave one week of notice or less, while one in four gave their employers zero notice, quitting the same day.

Looking back at their decision to quit, respondents had mixed feelings. In their responses, 56% had some regrets about quitting, but 58% also said they wouldn’t return to their old jobs without major improvements. While some were anxious or stressed about leaving their employers, most expressed feelings of relief, happiness, and excitement.

Many people quit on short notice whether they had another job lined up or not. Only 55% of those surveyed had a new job lined up before quitting. However, out of the 1,000 people surveyed who quit in 2021, 35% still do not have jobs. Of that group, 50% of people have been unemployed for at least six months. 

Out of those who quit their job without another gig lined up, 56% said they don’t regret it. 

Of those who left for new jobs, they were 47% more likely to be very satisfied with their new role in comparison to the one they quit. And out of those who quit their jobs for new ones, 44% are considering leaving their new jobs within the next six months.

Where things evolve from here is anyone’s guess but the smart money is trending towards more flexibility on where you work.