As a landlord, you will access lots of personal and confidential information about your and prospective tenants. Highly sensitive information such as photo IDs, social security numbers, bank account numbers, and background checks will be available to you. One of your duties as a landlord is to ensure that this private information is kept secure and out of the reach of prying eyes and criminals.
Protecting tenants’ private information involves physical and digital safeguards. Increasingly, most transactions and documents are in a digital medium, but that does not mean you can skimp on physical security measures.
Intelligent doorbells and smart locks are high-tech ways to secure access to your office. Smart locks can alert you on your phone if someone tampers with your lock, while intelligent doorbells alert you if someone rings the doorbell. The mere presence of security cameras inside and outside the office will deter thieves. For even more security, consider getting a 24-hour monitoring service through a company.
If you accept checks and money orders for payments, consider getting a lock box on your office door with a letter slot on the outside. This will let tenants drop off checks while preventing a would-be thief from simply prying a drop box from a wall.
Physical records such as leases, security deposits, and bank account numbers can be kept in a safe for maximum security. There is also an option of securing sensitive files and information in a safety deposit box at a bank or other off-site location. You should also shred any unnecessary files containing personal information that you no longer need. If you handle lots of paperwork, you can outsource the shredding to a document shredding company that will pick up and shred the files for you.
Steps to take for digital security include securing your internet connection. Make sure the Wi-fi you use is password protected, and consider using a VPN for maximum privacy and security. Two-step authentication when accessing emails and software programs is a great way to prevent unauthorized access to your tenants’ data. Even if a password is stolen, the two-factor authentication system will prevent the thief from being able to access sensitive information.
Accepting payment via a credit card may sound appealing and convenient, but it poses a security risk. It is best to accept payments through encrypted networks like PayPal and direct bank transfers if you can.
Your work computers, laptops, and smartphones will likely store a plethora of tenant data. If they get stolen, that could mean trouble for you and your tenants. Consider installing a software program such as Absolute that will let you track the location, block access, and delete the contents of any stolen computers remotely.
Filing your income taxes as a rental property owner is a little different from filing as an individual. You essentially own a small business, and your taxes will be higher for that reason. Fortunately, there are a few different ways you can reduce what you’ll have to pay to the IRS.
Start With Deductions for Property Repairs
You can start to get more out of your taxes by remembering to deduct your repair costs. If you have paid out more than $600 in a 12-month period for professional repair services, you can deduct those expenses on your income tax form. Be sure to keep receipts in case you’re asked to verify your repair expenses.
Don’t Forget Your Home Office
It pays off to use a room in your own home to manage your rental property. As long as you use this room solely for this purpose, you can deduct a portion of your rent or mortgage as a business expense. Be sure your home office is not used for recreation or other purposes, or you may be disqualified from using this deduction.
Add More Revenue Sources
You can increase your income potential by adding amenities and services to your rental property. Consider investing in coin-operated laundry machines, snack and beverage vending machines, and other money-making opportunities. You can also offer services, such as landscaping services, to your tenants. Charge a few dollars over the fee charged by the landscaping service to help you make these services more profitable for you.
Use Schedule-C to Your Advantage
When you file a schedule-C form for your taxes, you can make even more deductions. Under this tax filing method, you can deduct expenses associated with any tasks you perform in the management of your property. For example, you can deduct the gas and mileage used to deposit rental income or to drive to your rental property. You’re also allowed deductions for time spent hanging rental vacancy signs, buying supplies for the property, and performing similar tasks.
If you’re unsure about the deductions and incentives that are available to you, talk to an accountant or tax attorney. A professional can help you prepare your taxes correctly. Additionally, they may know of new tax breaks that are available to you since they will keep up with how tax laws change from year to year.
When you take out a home loan, the bank will require a home inspection to protect their investment. Even if you plan on paying cash for your home, you should still schedule an inspection for any property you intend to buy. While this won’t catch everything that might be wrong with the house, the Inspector will pinpoint problems that may be of major concern.
What Does a Home Inspection Cover?
The home inspection will determine the condition of the major components of the home. This starts with the Inspector visually examining the condition of the roof, foundation, and structure. They will also look at the plumbing, electrical, and HVAC systems. As the Inspector takes a closer look inside the home, they will look at the attic insulation, watch for signs of water damage and mold growth, and check for pest infestations.
What Won’t the Inspector Do?
There are some things your home inspection won’t cover. In general, you shouldn’t expect the Inspector to look for minor damage that can be easily or cheaply repaired. In addition, the Inspector won’t remove or damage parts of the interior. This means they won’t look behind walls, remove electrical panels, or inspect the insides of chimneys or plumbing pipes.
What Will the Inspection Report Tell You?
You might be wondering what will happen if the inspection does uncover a problem. Anything the Inspector turns up will be recorded in the final report. When they do find a problem, they will note whether or not the issue will need to be repaired right away. They will also mention whether the problem concerns a safety issue or a major defect. If it’s a minor defect, the report will point that out as well. There may be other issues that don’t pose a problem right away, but the report will recommend keeping an eye on the issue. For example, the Inspector might advise you to budget for a roof replacement even though you don’t need it right away.
A home inspection is a necessary part of the home buying process. It will help ensure you’re aware of the true condition of the house, which will help you make a better-informed decision. Otherwise, you may buy a home that turns out to be an unexpected money pit.
It’s a great time to be an agent in the real estate industry. Multiple markets across the country are experiencing strong growth. The average number of houses on the market is decreasing, and list prices are rising. Despite the uncertainty surrounding the stock market, the residential real estate sector is still resilient. Even if you’re a top producer in your region, there are still areas that you can improve and people who can help you reach your goals and improve your marketing efforts. To take your real estate practice to the next level, here are the top 5 TED talks to improve your expertise in real estate.
“Never Split The Difference” by Chris Voss
In real estate, an agent is likely aware that every aspect of a deal is negotiable. Some of these include the price you can expect to receive, the length of time a seller has to sell their property, and the commission split. In this video, Chris Voss, a former FBI negotiator, discusses the various techniques that the agency uses to help its agents successfully negotiate. He also notes that one’s last impression between parties can significantly influence the outcome of a deal and leave a lasting impression of you. Although negotiation skills are commonly beneficial for other business people, they are very important for real estate agents as the profession is predicated on being a negotiator. This is because acting as a mediator is a requirement in order to get the best possible deal for their clients.
“Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance” by Angela Lee Duckworth
Without the necessary grit, you’re going to have a hard time making it in the real estate industry. Even if you have the necessary sales skills, you’re going to receive more no’s than yesses during your first few years. In her video, Angela Lee Duckworth, a former corporate consultant who left her job to pursue her passion for teaching math in New York City, talks about the importance of persistence and how it can help agents succeed in their endeavors.
“The Four-Letter Code to Selling Anything” by Derek Thompson
The ability to sell is critical to your success in the real estate industry. Besides selling properties, it’s also important that you can effectively communicate with buyers and sell yourself. This process involves understanding the pain points of each individual and how to approach those issues to connect with the client. Derek Thompson, an editor at The Atlantic, will help you sell anything that you can think of.
“The Skill of Self Confidence” by Dr. Ivan Joseph
On the surface, real estate agents have different backgrounds, educational attainments, and interests. However, when it comes to being successful in the industry, the best agents are known to have a passion for their work and exude self-confidence. As the athletic director of the Varsity Soccer team at Toronto’s Ryerson University, Dr. Joseph often gets asked what skills he’s looking for in his recruits. In his talk, he discusses the importance of self-confidence and how it can help people succeed in their lives.
“How to Spot a Liar” by Pamela Meyer
As a real estate agent, you’re likely to run into unethical and dishonest people. We are lied to anywhere from 10 to 100 times a day. In her book, “Liespotting,” Pamela Meyer talks about the various ways people are trained to spot deception. She argues that honesty is a valuable trait that people should work to protect. It’s important to note that plenty of people will try to bend the truth in order to get the best possible deal for their clients. If you’re not able to spot the signs of an unethical or dishonest agent, you could end up losing money and putting your reputation at risk. In her talk, Pamela Meyer discusses the various ways that real estate agents can protect themselves from being exposed to a potential fraudster.
There is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to investing in real estate. It can be overwhelming for new investors, especially if they don’t have the necessary resources. Most people who enter the real estate industry have limited backgrounds and experiences. This makes it hard for them to see the big picture when it comes to investing. It is important for investors to learn from other people in the field to help them get a better understanding of the multiple aspects of investing in real estate. There are plenty of books that cover the various aspects of real estate for people who have little to no experience. These are some of the most effective and useful tools that can help new investors.
Rich Dad Poor Dad
This is a great entry point for anyone interested in learning more about investing and financial opportunities. It doesn’t focus on real estate investing but rather on how to think about finances in a way that’s easy to understand.
The ABCs of Real Estate Investing
This book is an essential addition for anyone who is interested in learning more about investing in real estate. It provides a variety of strategies and techniques that will help them find and manage a property. It also covers the various aspects of property negotiation.
The Book on Rental Property Investing
This book is a must-read for anyone who is interested in learning more about investing in real estate. It provides a variety of strategies and techniques that will help them find and manage a property. It also covers tax strategies and the biggest mistakes that new investors should avoid.
Mastering the Art of Commercial Real Estate Investing
While real estate investing books often focus on vacation and residential property, commercial real estate can be very profitable for experienced investors. This book talks about the differences between residential and commercial real estate. It also provides a set of rules that will help investors make the best decision when it comes to buying a property.
Buy It, Rent It, Profit!
This book is valuable for anyone who is a property manager or landlord. It will give you a deep dive into how you can maximize your time and money. It also covers the various legal forms that can be used to manage a property.
Timing the Real Estate Market
One of the most overlooked factors that investors often fail to consider when it comes to investing in real estate is the timing of the market. This can affect the amount of money a property will make and the trends that will affect its future. Having a good idea about how to predict the market will affect your investment and can help you avoid getting caught off-guard.
Certain times of the year are more ideal for selling homes than others, and real estate agents may experience slower business in the off-season as a result. Agents who want to avoid off-season slumps can try certain tactics to keep their businesses going and maintain a strong clientele during times when people often aren’t as interested in buying or selling homes.
Increase a Property’s Curb Appeal
Much of the winter season is considered to be off-season in many real estate markets, and agents who want to attract more buyers should try to make each property that they list look as appealing as possible. Removing the snow, downed tree branches, and other debris that’s often prevalent in the winter from properties so that each home looks great in photographs can help draw in more buyers.
Minimize Holiday Decorations
The Christmas season is often one of the slowest times of year for selling homes. Homes for sale that are heavily adorned in holiday decorations may look tacky and less attractive in photographs and can detract potential buyers. Homes for sale that are open for prospective buyers to tour should also have minimal holiday decorations to give these abodes more year-round appeal.
Optimize Social Media
Real estate agents can use social media to their advantage in the off-season if they know how to get the algorithm to favor their social media accounts. One of the best ways to do this is by interacting more with potential clients through social media. Real estate agents can also like and share relevant content more on social media and use trending hashtags in many of their posts to maximize the algorithm.
Work with Other Agents
Selling homes in the off-season can be easier if real estate agents are willing to work with other agents. Agents can try co-listing properties and splitting the commissions to try to generate faster sales. Bonuses and other incentives can also be offered to other real estate agents who are willing to work together to try to sell properties in the off-season.
Real estate agents shouldn’t have to suffer major financial setbacks in an off-season. By finding clever ways to keep business going during these slower times of the year, agents can continue to generate substantial profits while helping more clients.