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The Holiday Debate: How Much Time Should Investors Take Off This Season? (2019 Update)

The holiday season arrives in what seems like a long and slow build-up to just a few days of furious celebrating. It is, however, a period of time that lasts longer and has much more to it than real estate investors realize. Beginning almost immediately after Halloween, those holiday decorations, sales, advertisements and products begin to appear. This can often send most people into a slow-down mode or a distracted phase as they begin to focus more on the upcoming season.

After all, why not? There is Thanksgiving to plan for as well as the weeks in which Christmas, Kwanzaa, Chanukah and other annual festivities occur. This is the time to meet with friends, do lots of shopping and dining out, and taking stock of the year just coming to a close. It is a wonderful time to enjoy the benefits of some downtime with the family and with your friends. And it occurs in almost any industry.

If you doubt this to be true, you need only consider the patterns of behavior you see in many companies and businesses. They start to slow down operations in many areas. Their investments in marketing, branding and even employee overtime decrease or disappear altogether. Company leadership may go on holiday for weeks on end and it can seem like many segments of business and industry have just hit the proverbial “pause” button while the holidays arrive, occur and transition into the New Year.

Even as we enter this new year you may see a lot less competition and activity, and this means that the answer to the holiday debate, (“how much time should investors take off this season?”) is actually simple.

What is the answer? It is: As little as possible.

Not a Grinch Move

Though it sounds like a pretty “grinchy” attitude to take about the holiday season, it is not a permanent step in your investment strategy. As a real estate investor, you have a lot more control over your schedule than many other workers in the modern world. You can enjoy the option of working while the rest of the world sleeps and take meetings or do business in small bursts throughout the day. While this may not be the greatest or most consistent approach, it is one way to keep up the pace during the holidays.

There are, in fact, some returns for just hitting the “stop” button altogether. While you won’t see any losses if you take a day or two off of the computer, not checking messages or emails, a savvy real estate investor in thriving markets, like those in North Dallas and its surrounding neighborhoods, should dial back on time out of the office.

Why? The advantages of working while your competition is sleeping off its turkey dinners, days on the slopes or hours of sale shopping are quite substantial. Your business, real estate investment, operates on taking opportunities before the competition and on making the most of the smallest advantage, fact or bit of information about a property.

If you are looking to make the best offers, find the best deals, get a lot of attention, leads and even visibility on your properties, the holiday season is a peak time for doing so. Whether it is a home you want to grab at a good price in Plano, a sale you hope to make in University Park or some lead generation throughout the North Dallas area, the holidays are the right moment to strike. Eager sellers, fewer buyers, simpler negotiations…these are but a few things to enjoy during a holiday season dedicated to growing your real estate investments.

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How to Make Extra Cash for the Holidays by Renting Out Your House (2019 Update)

Are you someone who finds themselves always traveling during the holiday season? Whether that season means Christmas, Thanksgiving or any other time of year, you may be missing out on a major financial opportunity if you are not renting out your home while you are away.
Before you hold up a hand and say, “no way” at the thought of vacating your home during an extended holiday visit elsewhere, think about what it might mean. There are, quite accurately, millions of people traveling, booking hotels and staying in somewhat unwelcoming settings during their holidays. The option for booking a private home is a wildly popular concept that is supported by dedicated websites. You can use what you know about real estate in your area to get a great rate for renting your home, and this can underwrite your travels or even your future investment plans.

A Single Example

If your home is in one of the major metropolitan areas, such as North Dallas or Plano, TX, you have thousands of potential customers eager to rent a cozy and private home for their holiday getaway. You can take a bit of time to calculate the best rate for the market, and for your expenses, and enjoy a nice profit.
Keep in mind that this is unlike a dedicated, furnished rental. This is your home, and as such, you’ll want to have a few contingency plans for such issues as family heirlooms or costly valuables that might be lost or damaged when renting to strangers. You are not actually a certain victim to any such catastrophes, but when you gauge the different issues that will help you choose the right pricing, it is something to consider.

For example, installing a secure and dead-bolt locked room for your special belongings, or paying rental on a storage facility is a cost to add to the mix. Also keep in mind that most travelers are not conscientious about energy consumption and may dial up the heating or air conditioning, use multiple devices and gadgets, leave lights on at all times and not feel worried about the expense. Calculate for the worst case scenario.
If you, yourself, are not traveling but simply monetizing your property’s rental value, you have to pay for an alternative accommodation for yourself and/or family and pets. Here too, you have to calculate costs for pet accommodations if you are traveling but not bringing them with you. A kennel or a pet sitter is also an expense you must calculate, and seek to pass on to the renters if possible.

Also, keep in mind that someone renting your home is going to be doing so as a “turnkey” property. They won’t bring linens or kitchen gear. This can be a costly venture if you don’t also calculate the costs of the added wear and tear on your household items or the costs for purchasing replacements to be used whenever renting.
Once you have looked online at the other homes available for rental in your area, the prices charged and the amenities included, you can then add in the extras and figure out if it is a viable choice for you. For most homeowners, it is a great concept if they intend to implement it on a regular basis.

Points to Consider

Do keep in mind that there is some disruption to your lifestyle if you are going to make this decision. You’ll want to consider your valuables and pets, you also have to consider items that cannot be removed but which may be liabilities. High priced entertainment systems, large antiques, and even wall art are costly things, consider them as you prepare your home for renters.

More significantly, be sure your insurance allows for a rental situation and replacement for any damages. If you are in a housing authority or cooperative, be sure your neighborhood allows these arrangements and what sort of laws apply.

You can make a fantastic profit by renting out a home during any holiday season. If your town does an amazing Fourth of July celebration a winter wonderland event or any sort of seasonal activity that draws lots of travelers, why not take in some profits?

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How to Prevent Tenants From Damaging Your Rental Property (2019 Update)

As a real estate investor and landlord, you should know that your property will always need some maintenance, repairs, or upgrades whenever tenants move out. There’s a difference, however, between normal wear and tear that comes from everyday use and actual property damage, which tenants should pay for and which you want to avoid whenever possible.

Before we get into the best ways to prevent tenants from damaging your rental property, it’s important to understand this difference. For example, when you enter a property for inspection when a tenant is moving out, you should expect to see worn carpet, scuffs on the walls, some small holes (from nails or tacks) in the walls, and other normal wear and tear. Likewise, the stovetop and appliances will look like they’ve been used, but they shouldn’t be significantly damaged.

At the same time, if you walk in and you see visible stains or rips in the carpet, larger holes or scrapes in the walls or unprofessional wall touchups, or significant damage to kitchen and bathroom appliances, you’re looking at property damage. And, while there are ways to deal with property damage and to get your tenants to pay for it, the best cure is always prevention. So how do you keep your tenants from doing this kind of damage to your property?

Screen Your Tenants

The first and best way to avoid property damage is to properly screen your tenants. We generally recommend letting your property management team take care of the tenant application and screening process, as they have the experience and tools to ensure that they find the best tenants for your property. However, if you plan on acting as your own property manager and/or screening your own tenants, be sure to do a background check and look for a few key red flags, like:

  • Prior evictions
  • A criminal record
  • A history of belated payments
  • Poor credit score

Be sure to get references and a rental history, as well, and follow up with their previous landlords. Ask about any damage they may have done to previous properties they lived in, if they owe any money, or if they appeared to have unauthorized individuals living in or subletting the property.

Of course, even the best tenants won’t always keep up with your property as well as you would like sometimes. So, in addition to finding good tenants who will be less likely to cause harm to your property, there are also a few things you can do to the property itself to prevent damage.

Fill in the Pool

Pools are attractive features, but they’re also expensive to maintain. And, when a pool is unmaintained, it can quickly fall into disrepair and cost you a lot of money to fix. In most cases, it’s better to get rid of the pool entirely than to take this risk. Alternatively, you could include a pool maintenance and upkeep fee in the rental agreement with regular inspections and cleanings to keep the pool in great shape.

Stick With Low-Maintenance Landscaping

Do you think that your tenants are going to go out and trim the hedges, weed the gardens, and/or do anything beyond basic lawn care? If so, you may be living in a dream world. Most tenants are good about mowing the lawn and doing basic yard maintenance, but if you have high-maintenance landscaping features, you might want to get rid of them because they’re most likely going to be neglected.

Say Goodbye to Carpet

Yes, carpet is one of the cheaper flooring options, but you can almost guarantee that you’re going to need to replace it or at least have it professional cleaned every time you get new tenants. You don’t have to go with expensive hardwood floors, though. Instead, go with laminate flooring. There are a lot of attractive laminate options that are durable, will hold up against moisture, scratches, and other damage, and won’t cost you a fortune to install. Plus, tenants prefer floors that look and feel like hardwood. It’s a win-win situation.

Follow these tips, and you’ll see a lot less damage to your investment rental properties.

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3 Dallas Suburbs for Real Estate Investors to Watch (2019 Update)

It’s no secret that Dallas has one of the very best investment rental markets in the US today. With so many people moving to the Dallas-Fort Worth area, rentals are in high demand, and investors are enjoying great ROIs with their investment property purchases. But which areas are the best places to look for those properties?

While downtown Dallas has a lucrative market, it is not the only rental market around, and some Dallas suburbs are showing major growth and opportunities for real estate investors.


Grapevine is an excellent location for investors looking to purchase mid- to high-end rental properties. Currently, the mean listing in this area is just under $370,000, and the mean rate for monthly rent is $2300. With rental rates increasing at a steady rate each year, purchasing properties now gives you a great opportunity to see a lot of positive cash flow.

Grapevine is especially attractive to tenants moving to the Dallas area for work, as it is conveniently located to the northwest of Dallas and is nestled on the shores of Grapevine Lake. The suburb offers numerous attractions, amenities, and culture, including museums, nightlife, and more, making it a great place for individuals, couples, and families to live.


Plano offers another great opportunity for real estate investors, with average market values at just over $500,000 and average rental rates at nearly $2000 per month. While these numbers may not be quite as attractive as the ones you’ll find in Grapevine, Plano is definitely a suburb to consider, as rental rates and property values are likely to increase in the next few years.

Within an easy commute of DFW International Airport, downtown Dallas, and Dallas Love Field, Plano is in a prime location. Not only that, but Plano is also served by the DART light rail line, making it easy to get around town, even if you don’t have a car or you don’t want to deal with traffic. These details make Plano a serious contender for tenants looking to move to the Dallas area, but they’re not the only attractions by far.

Plano is home to numerous top schools, including Haun and Andrews Elementary Schools, CM Rice Middle School, and Jasper High School, all of which are highly ranked. And, whether tenants have kids or not, there are numerous things to see and do in Plano, making it a great place to live.


Last but certainly not least, Frisco is a highly popular suburb for families. In addition to great schools, this area boasts numerous art exhibits, spas, and other amenities, luxuries, and features. The property values are in line with Plano, at just under $513,000 on average, but rental rates are a bit more profitable at $2100 per month.

In addition to having slightly better rental rates than Plano, Frisco also typically has more houses on the market for sale than Plano, making it easier for investors to find properties to purchase. Also, the 42 schools in Frisco are some of the highest ranked in the state, and the suburb offers a number of activities and events for kids throughout the year.

Frisco has recently undergone significant growth, but the boom seems to be just beginning. In the next few months and years, we can expect to see property values increase and rental rates soar, as well. This lively, family-oriented suburb is definitely a place to consider when buying rental properties now and in 2017.

Each of these three Dallas suburbs has its own unique style and feel, and they’re each very attractive to high quality tenants who are moving to the Dallas area to work for large corporations. In addition to being set to become the next investment property hotspots in the Dallas area, these suburbs command impressive rental rates, and you can expect to see both rates and property values increase steadily over the coming years.

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5 Things DIY Landlords Should Know Before Managing Their Own Rental Properties (2019 Update)

If you’ve recently purchased an investment rental property – or if you’re just starting to think about becoming a landlord – you’re probably thinking about your bottom line. You’re looking at how much you can charge in rent, how much you’ll have to pay on your mortgage and property taxes, and how much you’ll need to set aside for repairs and maintenance. When you look at all that, it’s easy to think, “Well, maybe I should be my own property manager to save some cash…”

Before you commit to managing your own property, though, there are a few factors you should know about. Understanding these could make a property management firm’s fees look much more attractive.

How Will You Get and Retain Tenants?

First, you’re going to need to attract good tenants to your property if you want to start collecting regular cash flow. Are you familiar with all of the appropriate listings where you can advertise your property? Do you know how much it will cost you to advertise and how much ROI you’ll get from that cost? If you don’t have a good advertising plan and the tools to gather appropriate data analytics, you could very easily spend a lot of money on advertising that isn’t actually doing much to find you quality tenants.

Then, once you’ve found great tenants, how are you going to keep them? Lack of maintenance, delayed responses, and other factors on your part could make good tenants less likely to renew their lease, and tenant turnover can be a real problem for your investment, especially if you have trouble finding new tenants to take your old ones’ place.

You’re Going to Be on Call 24/7

You already know from personal experience that home emergencies don’t always happen during business hours. When something happens at your home in the middle of the night or early in the morning, you call the appropriate specialist and have it taken care of ASAP. When something happens at your rental property, your tenants are going to call you. And you’ll need to be available to answer their calls at all times of the day or night. Are you prepared to deal with a plumbing emergency at 4:00 AM?

How Will You Deal With Security Deposits?

When your tenants sign the lease and hand you a check for the first month’s rent, they’ll also hand you a separate check for the security deposit. You must have a separate account set up to hold tenants’ deposits. In fact, it’s not just a bad idea to put the deposit in your personal or business account with the rent check – it’s actually illegal. So, are you ready to deal with security deposits and how you’ll collect them, disburse them back to tenants, and/or use them to make repairs when tenants move out?

How Will You Handle Late Rent Payments?

In addition to having separate accounts for rent and deposits, you’ll also need to have a system and policy in place to handle late rent payments. How much will you charge in late fees? How will you collect late payments? Do you know the legal proceedings if you have to evict a tenant?

Dealing With Insurance Companies

When disaster strikes, you will need to deal with your homeowners’ insurance company to get repairs and damages paid for. You’ll need to do this in a timely manner so that your tenants have a safe and secure place to live. If you don’t, you could be dealing with a lot more issues. At the least, your tenants might choose to move out, leaving you with no cash flow from the property, or in a more severe case, they might even decide to sue you for damages.

All of the scenarios and factors we’ve mentioned here may sound like a nightmare, but they don’t have to be. Some people have the background, talent, and skills to take on these tasks and duties, but if you don’t want to deal with them, your property management company can help you out and make your job as a real estate investor much easier.