American Apartment Owners Association

5 Tips To Help You Get Started As A Landlord

7 hours 12 min ago

When you’ve just made the decision to be a landlord, your to-do list can seem daunting. To find success with your new venture of becoming a landlord, use these tips.

  1. Start Small and Scale Up

If you’re still in the research phase, start small and scale up. It’s easier to manage a single-family rental than a 10-unit apartment complex.

Likewise, it’s easier to find success with a rental that’s near you than to buy property somewhere you don’t live. Even if there are great deals in the neighboring state, odds are you don’t know the area well enough to understand which neighborhoods are desirable or form relationships with contractors.

  1. Set the Rent so It Covers Your Costs

Many novice landlords set a lower rent than necessary to recoup their costs. As a landlord, you need to make more than enough to pay mortgage, taxes, any fees (such as condo fees), homeowners insurance and maintenance. While a property manager can help you set a realistic rent, you can also browse real estate websites to see what comparable properties are renting for, then do the math to determine how this translates to your property.

As you start collecting rent, take care of all expenses first. Then set aside the money you’re saving for emergencies in a separate account.

  1. Know What You Can handle and When to Seek Help

While fixing issues yourself is one way to keep costs down, know your limits. As a landlord, you’ll need to maintain a clean apartment, make repairs, market your apartment, screen tenants, collect rent and perform other tasks, as needed.

If you aren’t handy, look for repair personnel before you need them — no one wants to be searching for a plumber when the pipes are leaking!

If you don’t want to track down tenants over late rental payments, consider hiring a property manager who will do that for you.

  1. Screen Potential Tenants

In the rush to find those first tenants — and start recouping your investment — you may not screen renters.

Unfortunately, many landlords learn a hard lesson when that renter who seemed like a great fit damages their property or falls into a cycle of late rent.

Screening applicants provides you the peace of mind that an applicant is who he or she claims to be and makes enough to afford your rental.

  1. Understand Landlord Tenant Rights

Before getting your first tenants in the apartment, make sure you understand landlord tenant rights. Know what you’re allowed to withhold from tenants’ security deposits and the rules regarding eviction, for instance.

Educating yourself about tenant rights will help you comply with existing laws.

American Apartment Owners Association offers resources for new and veteran landlords. Members receive access to a library of rental forms, discounts at retailers, free educational webinars and more. Explore the member benefits of joining AAOA, or become a member now.

Disclaimer: The information provided herein is for advisory purposes only and AAOA takes no responsibility for its accuracy. AAOA recommends you consult with an attorney familiar with current federal, state and local laws.

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Some Apartment Markets Are Facing Challenges

Mon, 08/21/2017 - 10:58pm

Apartment rents are not growing as quickly as they had been, according to research firm RealPage Inc.

In a few overbuilt downtowns, apartment rents are starting to fall. But experts claim that demand for apartment units continues to be so strong, the trend won’t last for long.

“The story in these markets is the apartment story writ large: the high levels of apartment construction are not enough to house the 1.2 million or so new households formed each year without increased single-family construction,” says John Affleck, research strategist with the CoStar Group.

Apartment rents are still growing, but not as quickly as they had been, in markets across the country, according to research firm RealPage Inc. Rent growth is slowing the most in a handful of cities where developers have opened thousands of new apartments recently.

Rents fall in Houston

In Houston, rents dropped by 1.6 percent on average over the past year, according to RealPage. In the top “urban core” neighborhoods where developers have opened the most new apartments, rents have fallen by more than 10.0 percent. Apartment occupancy rate in the city averaged 92.9 percent in mid-2017, down 180 basis points from the high of 2015.

“There is still some pain immediately ahead for Houston, mainly reflecting that another 22,000 or so apartments will be delivered in the coming few months,” says Greg Willett, chief economist for RealPage.

However, the outlook for Houston is strong. “Once we get past early 2018, however, the completion pace will slow to a trickle in a metro likely to be experiencing robust employment growth,” says Willett. “The metro has the potential to move from performance laggard status to star positioning very quickly.”

New York City

The rents in New York City are barely growing. Revenue growth was close to zero over the 12 months that ended in mid-2017. “So not terrible, but very little rent growth,” says Barbara Denham, senior economist with research firm Reis Inc.

Developers are expected to open 20,000 new apartments in New York City this year, according to RealPage. That’s about 25 percent up from the year before. “Some further rent cuts are possible,” says Willett. “Queens will join Manhattan and Brooklyn among the areas struggling to digest sizable new supply.”

Nashville, Tenn.

Developers are now opening new apartments in Nashville at a rate of nearly 8,000 a year. That’s about double the rate of completions in 2016 and 2015, according to RealPage. The occupancy rate was 95 percent at mid-year, 160 basis points lower than it was 12 months ago.

Rents still grew by 3.4 percent in Nashville over the 12 months ended at mid-year. That’s close to twice the overall rate of inflation. But it’s less than half the rent growth compared with the year before, when developers opened half as many new apartments. “And the downtown submarket—where construction is heaviest—is suffering sizable rent cuts,” says Willett.

Rents are growing in smaller markets

Not all apartment markets are cooling off. The places where the pace of rent growth sped up the most include Colorado Springs, Colo.; Ventura County, Calif.; Tacoma, Wash. and Sacramento, Calif. Effective rents grew on average between 5.0 percent and 8.0 percent in these markets over the 12 months that ended in mid-2017.

These towns don’t have much in common, except they are located in close proximity to markets with very expensive apartment rents, including Denver, Los Angeles, Seattle and San Francisco, according to Denham.

Source: NRE Investor

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Want to Be a Real Estate Millionaire? Here’s How to Invest with a Single Click

Mon, 08/21/2017 - 10:53pm
Think real estate investing is only for the super-wealthy? Here’s how you can get involved right now.   Real estate. It’s the one constant that millionaires and billionaires have in common. The real estate asset class is one of the most beloved investment vehicles of all time, thanks to our common belief that — no matter what happens with our crazy world — people will still need a place on Earth to live and work. Our most recent financial crisis notwithstanding, real estate values have been on a steady upward climb ever since it was possible to own land. So for entrepreneurs and investors alike, real estate has been the holy grail of wealth creation.

Now, the downside: Owning a residential or commercial building takes hard work, dedication, experience, and that wonderful thing called cash. In fact, even buying a small multi-family building can be a challenge for most retirement investors, since even that kind of small purchase can require upwards of a 25 percent down payment.

That’s where the wonderful world of crowdfunding has come into play and has completely revolutionized the way we invest in real estate.

Five years ago, would-be commercial real estate investors got a present from an unlikely Santa Claus: the U.S. Congress. When Congress passed the Jumpstart Our Business Act (or JOBS Act, for short), it allowed companies to advertise their public offerings, opening the door to crowdfunding as a means to raise millions in investment capital.

Fortunately for investors of all types, real estate became the perfect asset class for crowdfunding: stable, tangible, and relatively predictable in its growth and eventual returns.

Now, you can own a commercial building in literally a single click through today’s top crowdfunding portals, with investments sometimes starting in the hundreds of dollars.

If you’re looking to get started in real estate in a few hours or less, here are a few tips to get you started:

1. Understand how crowdfunding portals work.

There are many crowdfunding portals out there selling real estate, with varying rules, requirements and offerings, ranging from individual deals to large funds with varying degrees of risk and return. Research many, and choose the one that fits your risk profile and investing style.

2. Ascertain what kind of investor you are.

There are two classes of investors: accredited and non-accredited. Accredited investors are typically already millionaires, and have supplied documentation of their net worth. This gives them broader access to deals than non-accredited investors, who can typically only invest in a more limited capacity.

3. Carefully weigh any investment, with the help of an expert.

Investments lose money. Companies go bankrupt. Vet your investment options carefully to make sure you’re choosing an experienced real estate manager that fits your risk profile. Plus, there are other signs you can look for that indicate your hard-earned money will be well taken care-of.

For instance, the principals of Origin Investments, a Chicago-based real estate investment firm, actually invest right alongside their investors. This makes them much more accountable for their strategy and execution than a company that is only using investor money to purchase real estate assets.

One Origin principal, Michael Episcope, told me that his previous two funds have delivered annualized returns of 23 to 25 percent to investors so far.

“We knew that investing alongside our investors was the key to assuring them that we were all in this together,” said Episcope. “Brilliant investment opportunities are out there, as long as you’re willing to do your homework on the companies you’re investing in.”

So, the next time you look up at a skyscraper and wonder how you could own one someday, wonder no more. Just buy a small slice of the action, and you’ll be in on the ground floor, so to speak.

Just don’t brag too much to your friends.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.

Source: Inc

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The Rent To Value Ratio – Another Way to Evaluate Rental Homes

Mon, 08/21/2017 - 7:50pm

The Rent To Value ratio is a simple calculation. It is the value of a home divided by 12 months of rent. EXAMPLE:

$175,000 value home rents for $1100/month$175,000 / $13,200 ($1,100 x 12)Rent to Value ratio or Rental Yield is 13.29%

The home is valued at 13.29 times the annual amount of rent it commands in the current market, or the rental yield is 13.29%. Rental Yield is considered one of many ways in which one can evaluate a potential rental property or area. It is similar to the Earnings to Price Ratio in the stock market, the earnings of a stock compared to its cost per share.

This number can vary quite a bit, from under 2 in some markets to over 15 in others. The idea is that a higher number means that you can accept a lower level of appreciation in value purchasing in an area if this ratio is high. You’ll more than make up for low appreciation over the ownership period with higher cash flow over the expenses of ownership. That is of course if rents hold and you can keep vacancy down.

This ratio can be very different in a city or market area for different neighborhoods. When some areas have been harder hit with more distress and foreclosure sales, the prices have been depressed enough to drive up this ratio. Rents are higher in relation to the value of the property.

An example of this is Atlanta, GA. The south side of Atlanta had significantly higher rates of foreclosure than the northern areas of the city. Rental homes on the south side have higher ratios, sometimes double or more the yields for the north side. Northern areas of the city fared better during the real estate and mortgage crash that began in 2006. Prices didn’t suffer as much, and home values have been higher over time than those on the south side.

Two areas, New York and Las Vegas, show two very different pictures for rental yields. In the New York area, prices for homes are high, and in Las Vegas, distress and foreclosure sales were huge during the market crash. The New York area shows the vast majority of homes with rental yields between 2% and 8%. On the other end, Las Vegas has a majority with yields over 14 percent.

Making a rental property purchase decision on rental yield or cash flow alone isn’t a good idea. Appreciation in value over time is also very important to the investor. While rents can vary over time due to economic and demand factors, it is a better investment if the property is appreciating in value at a decent rate.

Locating a potential rental property purchase in an area with historically solid price appreciation and at a price that has a higher rental yield than other homes for sale in that area is probably worth serious consideration.

Source: Huffington Post

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6 Compromises to Make for Student Renters

Mon, 08/21/2017 - 4:42pm

So, you’ve become a property manager, and you need to find residents. Your first instinct is to target college students. You know that to pique their interest, your property must fit their needs. You’ll have to fine-tune your lease terms to attract them, but how? If you’d like to rent your property to college students, consider making these six compromises.

1. Include a subletting clause in the lease

Remember that your student renters are only in school for nine months out of the year. On top of that, they may intern in another town for a semester or study abroad. So, it’s likely that they won’t live in the apartment for some duration of the lease.

Your property will be more attractive to students if you allow subletting. They’ll be able to go home for the summer or seek jobs in other places without paying full price for an empty apartment.

If you’re feeling uneasy about bringing subtenants into the lease agreement, involve yourself in the process as much as possible. Work with your student renter to interview some reliable candidates. You also have the right to tell your student renter that they will be held responsible if the subtenant causes any property damage.

2. Allow pets

Image via Pixabay.com

Whether they’re furry, scaly, or feathery, pets can improve a college student’s living situationgreatly. During the most stressful times, animals are excellent sources of therapy for students. They can also cure homesickness and loneliness. Plus, owning pets helps students practice responsibility!

If your student renter lived on-campus before, they probably had to go a year or two without their hometown four-legged friend by their side. They’ll be happy to find a landlord that will consider their pet as a roommate during school.

As the landlord, you can limit the sizes and types of pets allowed in the apartment. Would you prefer animals kept in tanks? If you allow furry pets, should they be breeds that don’t shed? Ask for a “pet deposit” on top of your student renter’s security deposit to ensure that their pet doesn’t harm the property.

3. Have some utilities included for a lower cost (or free)

After spending so much on tuition and books every year, college students want to save as much money as possible on housing. You’ll attract more student renters to your property if you cover the cost of amenities like Wi-Fi and cable.

Even if you don’t want to cover the cost entirely, you might consider paying at least a portion of it yourself. This way, it’s still a discount for your renters.

It’s also a good idea to invest in some appliances for your student renters. It doesn’t have to be all appliances — just the big essentials. Provide a washing machine, dryer, and dishwasher. Most college students will not be able to afford these items on their own, so if you don’t have them, they probably won’t consider renting your property.

4. Rent to multiple tenants

Image via Pixabay.com

College students are most likely going to search for an apartment with a group of friends. The reason for this is simple: more people means less rent per person. Your property might only be a two-bedroom apartment, but are you sure you can’t fit more than two people?

If you can double the number of beds in each room, you’ll attract twice as many student renter groups. Of course, make sure that the apartment is big and safe enough for a group before you add more furniture.

5. Keep up with the safety of the living space

You’ll put parents at ease with this one. Before you bring in student renters, make sure that your property has ample security features. Additionally, try to gauge the safety of the neighborhood. Your student renters might be out late, so ask yourself if they would be comfortable on their way home at night.

The most common safety features to include are an alarm system, fire extinguisher, deadbolt locks, and external security cameras. You should also be sure to test your fire alarms and carbon monoxide detectors.

It’s important to stay on top of any repairs in the apartment. It’s likely that your student renter will be living on their own for the first time and won’t know how to fix a broken stove. If you can, help them out as soon as possible to avoid any future accidents or further damages.

6. Use social media to advertise

Image via Pixabay.com

When your property is ready for college life, social media will help you rake in the tenant applications. A simple Facebook post will go a very long way — especially if you get your friends to share it.

Include lots of pictures and boast about your property’s highlights. Even when you find tenants, don’t stop there! Keep the public updated on some interesting events in the neighborhood. Reach out to current tenants for testimonials. This way, you can hold the interest of students that would like to rent your property in the future.

Source: ULoop

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Reviews Aren’t Just For Restaurants: How A Property Manager Boosted Its Online Reputation

Mon, 08/21/2017 - 11:42am
“When we’ve created a happy resident environment, it can be broadcast to different channels to help improve our overall online presence,” says Lincoln Property’s Sheri Killingsworth.

Lincoln Property Company, a national home and business real estate firm with 500 communities within its network, has seen the traditional apartment search process go from word-of-mouth to mostly being driven by online reviews and social media.

In other words, real estate has a lot in common with restaurants — and pretty much every business — in driving new customers.

The real estate service company was struggling to manage all the customer reviews of its multi-family housing. As a result, its search rankings were slipping.

Lincoln Property first tapped a reputation management company in 2012. While things improved, its strategy nevertheless suffered from a gap when it came to social media listening/responding and online presence management.

Last year, Lincoln Property turned to Chatmeter, an online presence and reviews management platform.

In a matter of weeks, Lincoln Property’s total review quantity rose 71 percent with a 277 percent increase in the number of reviews posted on Google and a 63 percent increase on Yelp.

The company’s response rate to resident and prospect reviews also improved, growing by 212 percent. In 2016 alone, Lincoln responded to 50 percent of its total reviews received across sites like Google, Yelp, Facebook and Apartment Ratings.

To get a sense of how Chatmeter boosted Lincoln Property’s online engagement, we checked in with Sheri Killingsworth, the real estate service provider’s VP of Marketing and Communications, and Chatmeter CEO and founder Collin Holmes.

Had Lincoln Property ever worked with an online reputation and reviews management provider before?

Sheri Killingsworth: Yes, we worked with ReviewPush prior to moving the portfolio over to Chatmeter. The military side worked with Connectivity before joining us on Chatmeter.

How did Lincoln Property first approach Chatmeter?

Collin Holmes: Lincoln Property had been using a review monitoring software since 2012 which worked fine for simply monitoring their reviews. However, it did not give them the capability to manage their complete online presence. They needed a more robust tool that would also allow them to manage the constant stream of social media content, analyze the sentiment behind customer reviews and comments and generate actionable data that could help properties make real improvements.

How/why did Lincoln choose Chatmeter?

SK: We chose Chatmeter because of the platform’s ability to do more than aggregate reviews. It was a much more robust system and gave us better information with regards to our overall online presence and where we were missing the boat. It was also incredibly advantageous for us to move over to Chatmeter because of the support and customer service they offered. It was imperative that we partner with a company that could help with new set-ups, training, troubleshooting, reporting and more.

What were Lincoln Property’s initial goals before working with Chatmeter, and how did the goals/results evolve?

SK: Our initial goal was pretty simple: get everyone on the platform and get them using it. After we accomplished that and the teams were acclimated to the platform, it was much easier to outline expectations and put a strategic reputation management and social listening plan in place for our communities.

CH: When signing on with Chatmeter, Lincoln Property’s main goal was to become more responsive towards their residents. They were receiving a massive amount of reviews for each property, both good and bad, and in order to respond properly, they needed to understand what their residents really wanted. Through sentiment analysis and engaging with customers online, they were able to dig deeper to understand what their residents were saying and learn how they could improve the living experience. Along with becoming more responsive, they also strived to increase the overall quantity and quality of their reviews and effectively manage their online presence to increase visibility in the local search results for all of their properties.

Lincoln’s goals evolved by establishing efficient ways to manage the influx of reviews. They wanted to become proactive with their reputation management by staying aware of all reviews and the events occurring at each individual location. In order to do so, they utilized Chatmeter’s daily email alerts. These alerts supply the property managers with all reviews that come in, so that they can then talk to any additional people about the incident, collect information and work with a regional manager on a proposed response.

How did Lincoln Property view the challenges in improving its reviews and gaining insights from its online presence?

SK: Improving our ratings and reviews would only come with providing superior customer service, creating relationships, and building a sense of community among our residents. When those key factors are in place, asking residents to tell us about their experience via Yelp, Google, or Facebook becomes much easier.

Taking a step back and looking at the entire resident experience, from move-in to move-out, has been imperative in fine tuning our programs and services we put in place. When we’ve created a happy resident environment, it can be broadcast to different channels to help improve our overall online presence.

What were the first steps Chatmeter took when taking on Lincoln Property as a client?

CH: The first step we always start with is assigning a Customer Success Manager who is Lincoln’s main point of contact and their consultant for everything they could want to know about Local SEO and reputation management. The Customer Success Manager then uploaded Lincoln’s properties onto our platform for monitoring and set up the property managers with logins.

Our platform has excellent enterprise capabilities which allow a hierarchy of users, for example, the property managers are given permissions to view their properties while the regional managers are set up with their different groups of properties that they manage.

Once the dashboard was set up, our CSM then trained the entire staff on the usage of the platform and provided the managers with materials to continue training all property managers.

We provided roll up and roll down reporting capabilities to help establish awareness and proactivity through the whole company.

Finally, we analyzed data pulled from our platform and set benchmarks for what a great property looks like so that managers can analyze each location and target specific improvements that are needed.

What insights and advice did Chatmeter provide?

CH: We provided Lincoln Property with an efficient and effective way to manage their reviews, listings, media, and rankings through our dashboard that kept all employees throughout the company accountable. Most importantly, we educated the company on the awareness and importance of multi-family properties’ online reputations and visibility, and demonstrated the impacts of improving their visibility.

In terms of the results (71 percent overall review quality increase, 212 percent improvement in response rate), can you put those numbers in context and explain how Chatmeter helped drive those numbers?

CH: Lincoln Property had access to reviews posted on major review sites directly from their dashboard, as well as daily alerts on new reviews for each individual location. This allows Lincoln’s property managers to instantly react to changes occurring online and manage interactions with residents to help ensure that they are positive occurrences.

Is there a substantive difference in the way reviews and online reputation are managed when it comes to a real estate client as opposed to a restaurant or retailer or contractor?

CH: Being in the multi-family property management industry, feedback in the form of reviews can be highly sensitive compared to a local restaurant or retailer. The reviews that come in could be talking about mold growing in an apartment, a bug problem, or other important crises, which are drastically bigger issues than a meal arriving to the table cold. After all, they are dealing with people in their homes.

Lincoln is in an extremely competitive industry where people are conducting huge amounts of research before deciding on where they want to live. The reviews, media and online reputation of each property can determine whether or not the company will acquire and retain customers worth upwards of $10,000 a year.”

How has Lincoln Property’s work with Chatmeter evolved? 

SK: The efforts have been ongoing since we launched our partnership with Chatmeter. We continually utilize the platform to its fullest extent and try to find new ways to drive the message that reputation management is imperative, but before that can even be addressed, we have to look at the resident experience.

 Source: Geomarketing.com

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How Landlords Can Improve Their Tenants’ Credit

Thu, 08/17/2017 - 10:30am

As a landlord, you know it’s important to have tenants who maintain good credit scores. What you may not know is that you can help your tenants improve their credit. Learn how it works and why this benefits you.

Why Good Credit Is Important for Landlords

A good credit score illustrates that a tenant has a track record of paying bills on time, does not carry a high level of debt on his or her credit cards, and has no unpleasant surprises (such as a default or bankruptcy).

If a renter doesn’t pay his or her bills on time, there’s a high risk that this irresponsible behavior will carry over to the rent. When he or she sends the rent late, you may not get the money you rely on for property maintenance and upkeep, mortgage payments or income. While the occasional late payment happens to even the best tenants, when this behavior is habitual, it can hamper your ability to effectively manage your property.

While a tenant credit check can help you avoid renting to someone with a poor credit score, there may be cases where your existing renters want your help building credit. For example, perhaps you have a renter who struggled with chronic illness and who has a poor credit score due to high medical bills. You know this tenant is reliable and responsible. This person always pays the rent on time, despite his or her struggles with medical debt. In a situation like this, you can help tenants like these improve their credit score and get back on their feet, financially speaking, by reporting on-time rent payments.

Tenants might also want your help building their credit if they are saving for a major expense, such as buying a new car or home. If there’s something you can do to help a great tenant who is planning for his or her next phase of life, why not do it?

How You Can Help Tenants Build Renters Credit

There are three credit bureaus in the U.S. that report individual credit scores: TransUnion, Equifax and Experian. Each of these agencies will report rental payments, but it’s up to you as the landlord to report the information. Rent reporting utilities make this easy.

To report timely rent payments (or conversely, to log late rent payments), sign up with one of these bureaus or use a reporting service that transmits rental payment information to credit bureaus every month. Since the information will show up on credit checks, it’s smart to let tenants know that you’ll be reporting their rent payment information, to avoid a surprise.

American Apartment Owners Association offers comprehensive information about rent reporting and tenant screening. If you’re interested in learning more, become an AAOA member today.

Disclaimer: The information provided herein is for advisory purposes only and AAOA takes no responsibility for its accuracy. AAOA recommends you consult with an attorney familiar with current federal, state and local laws.

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4 cities where growth is increasing rental demand and rents

Wed, 08/16/2017 - 4:45pm

Rental growth has a lot to say about supply and demand in the rental apartment market. Over the past several years, we saw rents move up at above average levels nationwide. We are now seeing many markets losing some steam. They are catching their breath, allowing demand to catch up a bit with an impressive number of new deliveries.

But there are still at least a few markets that pop out. Fannie Mae’s Multifamily and Economics Research Group tracks the quarterly multifamily outlook in top metros.

Looking at recent trends, we found that asking rents continue to push forward in some areas – building slowly in some, faster in others. These markets illustrate the fundamentals that drive the multifamily market, including one very big factor: jobs. Each rental market is unique, with its own story to tell.

The Silicon Desert

In Phoenix, the sun has always been a big draw. But today – at least as it concerns the local economy and the multifamily industry – the draw is jobs. According to Moody’s Analytics, Phoenix can expect to enjoy some of the best job growth in the entire country this year. The city will add about 123,000 jobs in 2017 and 2018. That’s the local market’s ticket for keeping demand above the available supply of multifamily homes.

What’s even better, the well-paying high-tech sector is helping to put Phoenix on the map. It now accounts for about 5.5 percent of employment in the “Silicon Desert.” That’s well above the national average of 4.8 percent.

More jobs mean a growing population. Phoenix has a population of 4.7 million. It should increase 2.3 percent on average per year through 2020. That’s three times the national rate of 0.8 percent.

Phoenix also boasts a particularly favorable demographic profile for apartment rentals. Millennials make up about 21 percent of the population. This age cohort is growing in Phoenix at five times the national rate. Over the next five years, it will expand further. That bodes well for future demand for multifamily properties.

Rents grew at an estimated 4.5 percent in Phoenix last year. They were growing at an estimated 0.25 percent during the fourth quarter. This dramatic slowdown from earlier in the year was most likely due to seasonal factors. But the amount of new supply coming online was also a factor.

Over the coming 18 months, the projection is for an estimated 2.5 percent average growth in asking rents. That looks like a return to more normal times for rents.

A Mecca for Tourism

It’s all but impossible to ignore tourism in Orlando, FL. The city has recorded a record volume of tourists for five years straight. Last year, there were about 66 million visitors.

People are also coming to Orlando to stay. Last year, its population grew by 3.0 percent – significantly better than the national growth rate.

Many of Orlando’s new inhabitants were following the job market. The area added 50,000 jobs in 2016 – growing 4.5 percent. According to CoStar, expansion of the metro’s employment base will be well above average through 2021 – at 2.4 percent annually.

Orlando suffered from the Great Recession. But it has now clearly turned its back on hard economic times. About 8,000 multifamily rental units are underway. There should be sufficient demand to absorb the surge. Economic expansion and pent-up household formations are driving the demand for apartment rentals.

In the meantime, Orlando’s outlook for apartment rentals looks sound over the next several years. The area’s asking rents grew 0.25 percent in the fourth quarter of 2016.

Playing Catch Up

The Cincinnati metro continues to catch up from job losses during the recession. But its moderate job growth – along with limited amounts of new apartment supply – should restore apartment vacancies and rents to pre-recession levels.

As of December 2016, the job market was expanding by 1.6 percent annually, year over year. Companies are taking advantage of Cincinnati’s lower cost of doing business. It is 3 percent lower than the national rate. Moody’s Analytics reports that Amazon is constructing a $1.5 billion, 3-million-square-foot shipping center that will bring many logistic and service jobs to the area.

In the meantime, Cincinnati’s population was growing at a middling rate of 0.5 percent in last year’s fourth quarter.

Also, the metro’s older population is not an ideal demographic for rental units. According to CoStar, the city’s 55-or-older population has grown by more than 35 percent since 1998. About 13 percent of Cincinnati residents are in the prime 20-34 age cohort for apartments. That’s even less than the 13.5 percent nationally.

Dodge Pipeline reports that apartment construction is picking up. Some 3,100 units are underway. An additional 7,200 units are in the planning stages. Rents were up 0.25 percent in the final quarter of 2016.

Costly Single-Family Homes

Most households in Orange County, CA, can’t shoulder the local cost of homeownership. At the start of 2017, the median-priced single-family home in the area was $635,000. That works to the advantage of long-term demand for multifamily rentals.

The strength of the metro’s job growth is also a plus. Orange County’s job market stands out compared with the rest of the country and other parts of Southern California.

There have been more than 13,700 apartment unit completions in Orange County since 2012. Another 7,600 are underway. What’s in the pipeline probably won’t be enough to satisfy future demand.

Overall, Orange County should continue to be one of the better performing markets in the country. Vacancies there are tight, and rent-growth above average. Asking rents grew 1 percent in the fourth quarter of 2016.

 

Source: businessinsider.com

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4 Things to Know Before Investing in a Vacation Home

Wed, 08/16/2017 - 4:43pm

Families with disposable income and a penchant for travel may be tempted to purchase a vacation home investment to use personally or to rent to other travelers.

A vacation home could save you money if you use it a lot, especially if hotel and lodging costs are high in a destination you frequent, says Connie Brazier, who has helped vacation homebuyers with loans for 20 years at Quontic Bank in Miami. The potential for value appreciation, rental income and tax benefits can be a nice bonus.

But the costs of owning a vacation home can be higher than a primary home with upkeep and insurance, and buyers could mistakenly buy in a tanking area if they don’t do their research. If the numbers and circumstances work, now may be the time to snatch up a vacation home investment.

“For the most part, vacation rentals have not been immune to the inventory crunch in the residential market,” says Emile L’Eplattenier, a real estate marketing and sales analyst for the website FitSmallBusiness.com. “Worse, real estate investing, particularly fix and flip and rentals, has seen a dramatic resurgence in the last few years. … Great deals in the vacation market might become scarcer in the next few years.”

But before you rush to buy in at your dream oasis, consider the following:

You need cash reserves and an accurate cash flow projection. Qualifying for a vacation home mortgage requires disposable cash and a solid knowledge of its rental potential, if you choose to rent it out. If mortgaging the property as an investment, you’ll qualify by using rental income. That interest rate would be higher than a primary home purchase, Brazier says.

Rental income should be calculated to include expenses such as homeowners’ association fees, mortgage payments, vacancy rates, maintenance and capital expenditures in mind, says Brian Davis, a real estate investor and educator with SparkRental.com.

Get several pro forma income estimates from vacation property managers to help you get an accurate picture of potential cash flow. But keep in mind property management fees also tend to be higher among vacation rentals than long-term rentals “because of the extra work involved in rapid turnovers,” he says.

Property taxes can also be up to twice as much without the homestead exemption offered on a primary residence, says Adrian Nazari, CEO of Credit Sesame, a free credit and loan management platform.

There are tax considerations, too: If the property is solely for personal use, all mortgage interest, real estate taxes, points and private mortgage insurance are tax deductible. If used as a rental even part of the time, there are several possible tax scenarios, says Noel Dalmacio, owner of Dalmacio Accountancy Corp. in Irvine, California.

The vacation home is tax-free income property if you rent it less than 14 days per year (you also cannot deduct rental business related expenses for those days). If you use vacation home for personal use less than 14 days or 10 percent of the time the home is rented, then all rental expenses are deductible.

And if using the property personally for more than 14 days or 10 percent of the number of days it is rented, your rental deductions are limited to the amount of your rental income but mortgage interest, taxes and insurance are still tax deductible on your tax return.

Think about seasonality. If keeping the property rented at a high occupancy rate is important to you, buy in a place that doesn’t depend on seasonality to rent. Don’t count on visiting too much in the high season, either: it will eat substantially into your income, says Melanie Narducci, a Realtor with the Real Estate Firm in Phoenix.

If you live far from the property, choose a manager wisely to help you get occupancy rates high and tenants happy.

“A great manager will make it a good investment and experience; a bad property manager will break you,” Narducci says. “Because this is brisk business there are plenty of property managers to choose from in this market.”

Purchase adequate insurance. You’ll want to make sure your vacation getaway is adequately protected, which means selecting limits for the policy that allow for completely replacing the home in the event of a catastrophic loss, says Pete Ducich, head of product development for Farmers Insurance.

“The investor also needs to consider purchasing personal liability coverage that addresses the ownership and rental of the property. For liability coverage, limits should be selected that protect all the investor’s assets and not just the rental property,” he says.

You’ll also want to see how the property’s location affects your insurance premiums, such as eroding beaches, hurricane damage, or crime. If the property is kept vacant there may be insurance coverage restrictions because the property is more likely to fall into disrepair, Ducich says.

Do your homework. Local knowledge is everything when considering the purchase of a vacation home, says Lance Marrs, broker at Living Room Realty in Portland, Oregon.

“If you’re purchasing a newly built vacation home, in addition to having it inspected during the inspection period of the sale, check references for the builder and their subcontractors to see if the builder typically builds in that area, specifically if it’s a coastal climate,” he says.

It also pays to think creatively when viewing homes in popular vacation destinations.

“If you’re looking at homes in coastal communities, remember that oceanfront homes not only command a premium, they are also subject to more foot traffic and noise,” Nazari says. “For your vacation getaway, you might feel more comfortable off the beaten path. Similarly, properties with commanding views fetch the highest prices – you’ll have to decide whether the view is worth the higher sticker price, or that you’d rather buy something less exclusive but still in the desired community. And don’t rule out fixer-uppers.”

Top Real Estate Investment Trusts Stock Name Dividend Yield 1 Year Return Life Storage Inc LSI 5.54 582.85% NorthStar Realty Europe Corp NRE 4.63 48.25% CoreSite Realty Corp COR 3.33 41.99% DuPont Fabros Technology Inc DFT 3.23 38.53% Cherry Hill Mortgage Investment CorpCHMI 10.07 37.75% Parkway Inc PKY 1.74 37.63% Jernigan Capital Inc JCAP 6.48 36.26% UMH Properties Inc UMH 4.45 34.58% Universal Health Realty Income Trust UHT 3.48 32.94% Altisource Residential Corporation RESI 4.61 32.51%

Stock information as of August 8th, 2017

Source: money.usnews.com

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Housing crisis could result in more tenant-landlord disputes

Wed, 08/16/2017 - 4:39pm

Francesca Sutton was excited to move out of her apartment and into her first rental home. She didn’t expect the scorpions — or to be involved in an increasing number of tenant-landlord disputes.

“The first night that we moved in, my son noticed a scorpion in his bedroom, so he called me when I got off from work,” Sutton said. “Then the next day, I just started seeing them everyday, every other day. This is not comfortable for me. I can’t live in a place like this.”

After living in the house some time, Sutton began to notice other issues, like low water pressure.

Sutton said when she contacted her landlord to fix the problems with her house, the landlord never followed through.

Tenant-landlord disputes are likely to grow. The housing crisis has led to more people in the U.S. renting than at any other time in recent history, according to the Pew Research Center. A decade ago, 34.6 million households were in rental properties. In 2016, there were 43.3 million rental households.

The system in Arizona moves slowly and inefficiently whether you’re a landlord or a tenant, those on both sides say. The Arizona Residential Tenant and Landlord Act outlines basic regulations. Phoenix and Tempe are among cities with codes that set more detailed conditions landlords must meet, such as a clean property, regular pool maintenance and minimum water temperatures.

But no local or state government agency enforces those regulations. The lack of accountability and a labyrinthian set of regulations leaves tenants and landlords dangling and can end up in court, advocates said.

The Arizona Department of Housing, which created the 44-page document, considers landlord-tenant relations “a private matter,” according to its website.

Several other states, including Tennessee, allow renters to file complaints with the county public health department or a local building inspector.

Kathy Hertzog, president and chief executive of LandlordAssociation.org, said pursuing a civil case is not a good process for landlords or tenants.

“Having to hire an attorney and go to court, it’s an expensive and time consuming process,” Hertzog said. “It’s a delicate and fine line you have to walk along. Will it be worth your while or not?”

Ken Volt, who founded the nonprofit group Arizona Tenants Advocates, said most people lack the knowledge, time or money to take on their landlord.

“Most people think you’re going to complain about conditions and that’s it,” Volk said. “But in reality that not necessarily a part of how you would proceed. It’s not really a procedure for the squeamish.”

Some of the most vulnerable people are renters. Pew research shows the majority of people renting in the U.S. are younger than 35. Hispanics, African Americans and the least educated are most likely to rent.

Hertzog said bad landlords prey on people who are poor.

“In the really poor, underdeveloped areas there’s more bad landlords because they don’t want to put the money into” their properties, she said. Such landlords think people will not take care of their housing just because they are poor, so the landlords don’t take care of the property, she said.

“It’s kind of a sad perception,” Hertzog said. “Everyone has the right to decent housing.”

Advocacy groups like the Arizona Tenants Union and Volks’ organization, which he launched in 1993, advise tenants of their rights.

Volk said tenants are likely to lose in court.

“Landlords are the ones that hire attorneys and present themselves to court. Tenants don’t,” Volk said.

Instead of going to court, Volk helps people document their requests to landlords and legally break their lease. He said he has helped more than 6,000 renters break their leases.

Even when landlords violate leasing agreements, often tenants do not follow the proper procedures to notify landlords, Volk said.

Volk educates renters on methods to settle disputes. If breaking their lease becomes necessary, Ken walks them through the process: writing letters for tenants, helping them organize their documentation and informing renters if they are in the right or wrong.

Sometimes, renters are in the wrong. Hertzog, of the landlord group, said landlords can take a big hit to their wallet when faced with bad tenants.

“Being late on rent and damaging property are the biggest issues we see from renters,” Hertzog said.

Pat Dougherty, who runs rental properties in the Valley, is familiar with bad tenants.

“We went through a rental management (firm) and they were supposed to interview the potential tenants,” Dougherty said. “They ended up renting the place to three 18-year-olds who were just out of high school.”

Dougherty said the tenants trashed the house.

“The drywall was tore up,” Dougherty said. “The doors had holes in them. They left an abandoned vehicle in the yard.”

When the tenants stopped paying rent, the process to evict them was messy, he said.

“It takes awhile to get them evicted,” Dougherty said. “You can’t just kick them out on the street. You have to go through the courts, and it’s a slow process. They left us owing a few months rent.”

Dougherty said, as a landlord and a former tenant, he understands both perspectives.

“The landlords can get hurt just as much as the tenants can,” Dougherty said. “People generally view tenants as the victims, but that’s not always the case.”

Hertzog said small property owners like Dougherty get hurt by the court system, which favors large property management groups.

“Most of our clients are small mom-and-pop landlords,” Hertzog said. “They can’t afford to hire an attorney, either.”

Volk said that the expansion of property groups has hurt renters.

“They have expanded too fast and are stretched beyond their means,” Volk said of a landlord group immersed in repeated problems.

Angela Blanco, a spokeswoman for Phoenix’s landlord-tenant services, said there are steps both parties can take to avoid or resolve disputes.

“Many common complaints come from miscommunication on both parts,” Blanco said.

Phoenix’s Neighborhood Services Department will counsel landlord and tenants. City mediators let each party know their legal rights and responsibilities, so they can better decide how to solve a problem, Blanco said.

“The hope is by better educating landlords and tenants statewide, we won’t have as many issues escalating to the court level,” she said.

The department also hosts rental housing workshops four times a year.

Blanco emphasized the department doesn’t take complaints and remains neutral in disputes.

“Ultimately, because it is a civil law, if they cannot resolve it amongst themselves, then the next recourse would be taking legal action,” Blanco said.

Both parties make common mistakes.

Blanco said many people only communicate with their landlord verbally or by text, but that courts do not usually recognize those forms of communication.

Tenants and landlords are obligated to communicate in writing, sending the request by certified mail or hand delivering it, Blanco said.

“You need that proof to be able to move forward,” Blanco said.

Hertzog said landlords need to protect themselves by writing thorough leases, including minute details like who will pay for a lost garbage can.

“As far as disputes go, you are kind of stuck to what’s in that lease,” Hertzog said.

Hertzog said landlords also need to understand local laws and codes that apply to their property.

“The thing that landlords need to do is get a lease for their state and their community,” Hertzog said. “Two houses on the same block can have different regulations because of codes.”

A good place for landlords to go to learn about their rights and responsibilities are their local bar association and tenant advocate websites like Volk’s.

Tenants need to be responsible about signing leases and make sure they understand the lease, Blanco said.

Volk said when tenants understand their leases, they know when they have the legal right to break them.

Sutton, the tenant plagued with the scorpion problem, said Volk helped her feel confident she was legally in the right to break the lease. If the dispute goes to court, Sutton said she feels prepared.

“I have a good reason to break the lease,” said Sutton, whose landlord did not return phone calls and emails from Cronkite News. “I have pictures and documentation, so I’m just waiting to see what has happens next.”

Sutton said landlords can easily take advantage of renters, especially inexperienced ones.

“With this being my first house, I didn’t think to turn the shower on and little things like that,” Sutton said. She is living with her mother until the dispute is settled.

She learned some lessons from her rental experience.

“Now I know what questions to ask, what to look for,” Sutton said. “I do feel that it’s going to prepare me for whatever I do next, wherever I move.”

 

Source: azbigmedia.com

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Meet Airbnb’s newest competitor: Google

Wed, 08/16/2017 - 4:35pm

The single-family short-term rental market is expected to expand to a total $34 billion by the end of 2017, a market that, until this point, Airbnb is the dominate player.

But, maybe not for long.

Now, Google decided it wants in, according to an article by Riley McDermid for L.A. Biz. The tech giant is making listings viewable through its hotel search engine in some European cities. Vacationers can now add accommodation type when searching on Google and browse through homes and apartments.

From the article:

So far, Google has around 7,000 vacation rental listings in Paris, Barcelona, Naples, Seville, Berlin, Venice, Rome, Palermo, Bordeaux, Madrid, Cologne, Munich, Dresden, Milan, Frankfurt, Nice, Lisbon, Nuremberg, Reims and Porto.

Google is currently allowing guests to then use Priceline’s Booking.com platform to book the stays.

However, while the feature is only currently available in Europe, Google explained this is only a small-scale experiment, and said it hopes to soon increase its inventory, inventory type and partners, according to the article.

The current discussion surrounding Airbnb and its possible disruption of the of the housing market doesn’t look to subside anytime soon. In fact, as new players enter the single-family short-term rental space and the market continues to grow, investors could continue to flood in to capitalize on the trend and take up much-needed housing inventory.

 

Source: housingwire.com

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How To Ensure Your First Investment Property Isn’t A Bust

Wed, 08/16/2017 - 4:31pm

Investment property is a prime way to start your real estate portfolio and get in on the rental game. While it can be easy to get caught up in the excitement of making your first property purchase, it is important to take it slow and proceed with some caution. Jumping the gun on a property can be a costly lesson for buyers to learn. You could end up with an investment that costs far more than you bargained for.

Heed this advice from 10 real estate experts with Forbes Real Estate Council, as they offer insight into buying your first investment property. You’ll be able to avoid the common pitfalls that first-time investment property buyers make and ensure your entry into the real estate market isn’t a decision you’ll soon regret.

1. Don’t Be Too Eager

When looking for your first investment property, it’s critical not to “chase the deal.” I often see first time investors overpay for property because they are so excited and want to get started. Always know your numbers, and never exceed the right purchase price during the excitement of an auction or when negotiating with home sellers. – Jeremy Brandt, WeBuyHouses.com

2. Spend Time At The Property

Sit in your car outside of the property from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. to midnight before you commit to buying it. You will see what is really happening at the building and in the neighborhood during those times. – Lee Kiser, Kiser Group

3. Check The Property’s Value

Anytime you purchase a property below the County Appraisal District, chances are you have hit a home run. Of course other factors come into play… repairs, updates, etc. However, follow this method and you will have the winning score. – Angela Yaun, Day Realty Group

4. Buy With Your Head, Not Your Heart

First-time investors don’t have the luxury of purchasing an investment property on a “gut” feeling. In fact, you probably need to buy on a bigger margin to account for all the things you know, the ones you don’t know and a buffer above and beyond that. Buying investment property can be expensive, so one or two bad choices can take you out of the game. Only buy if the numbers really make sense. – Tracy Royce, Royce of Real Estate

5. Focus On The Location

As a first-time buyer of investment property, the key tenets of real estate are location, location and location. If you buy an asset that “carries” itself, i.e. pays for taxes, insurance and maintenance plus provides some free cash flow, the chances are, given decent duration, that the appreciation will provide good investment returns from opportunities to refinance, higher rental incomes and sale prices. – Ridaa Murad, BREAKFORM | RE

 6. Get Your Numbers Right

Too often, I see new investors purchase a flip deal without leaving room for error. In a market that’s been hot for a while now, real estate wholesalers, agents and brokers have no problem selling you deals that don’t make sense. Buy flips where your all-in cost is less than 68% of fair market value. This way, if the market does correct, you have the best chance for a clean exit. – Abhi Golhar, Summit & Crowne

 7. Always Be Patient

Real estate is a cyclical industry. Even if asset prices were to fall, you don’t necessarily lose money/profit on the investment. The beauty of real estate is that there is an asset backing your investment. You can get creative about your exit strategy and explore refinancing or renting to get cashflow, rather than a sale. Over time, the prices are bound to rise again; all you need is patience. – Sohin Shah, InstaLend

8. Have A Buddy System

Don’t do your first investment alone! Make sure you are getting professional advice to make sure you are missing the little things that cost the most. Team up with an experienced person on your first couple of investments until you get a template in place. – Bubba Mills, Corcoran Consulting LLC

9. Just Do It

I hear frequently the lament “I wish I could get into real estate.” With the onset of short-term rentals, acquiring rental property is more profitable than ever. Location, location, location to capture the increased tourist market in an area is still a great piece of wisdom. Know what local rates are on long-term rentals, as well as comps from short-term rentals, and leverage the intel for funding. – Susan Leger Ferraro, Peace, Love, Happiness Real Estate

Forbes Real Estate Council is an invitation-only community for executives in the real estate industry. Do I qualify?

10. Choose Between Active Or Passive Investing

Active real estate investing is both time-consuming and hard to be successful at if it’s not your primary job. Most first-time investors lack the time, tools and experience that professionals rely on to avoid common pitfalls. Building experience incrementally through passive investing can be a great way to start. After learning more, you can then evaluate if becoming more active is right for you. – Ben Miller, Fundrise

Source: forbes.com

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Major Rental-Home Companies Set to Merge as U.S. House Prices Recover

Wed, 08/16/2017 - 4:14pm

After the housing market collapsed more than a decade ago, new investors poured in to buy foreclosed homes and rent them out. Now, a $4.3 billion deal suggests that the bargain-hunting binge in housing is finally over.

Two of the biggest institutional single-family landlords in the United States said Thursday that they planned to merge, an indication that the housing market has recovered much of the ground it lost in the financial crisis. And as home prices rise in many areas, affordable housing, for deep-pocketed investors and young first-time buyers alike, is becoming harder to find.

The two institutional landlords, Invitation Homes, a rental business spun out of the private equity giant the Blackstone Group, and Starwood Waypoint Homes said they would combine to create an entity with about 82,000 homes in more than a dozen big markets.

The deal could set the stage for other institutional investors to join forces. With fewer opportunities to buy homes at a discount, the keys to growth will be reducing operating costs, gaining market share and potentially increasing rent.

With consolidation, Wall Street-backed firms’ once-bold strategy of cleaning up the mess created by the crisis by going to foreclosure auctions and snapping up hundreds of cheap homes has ended.

Wall Street jumped into foreclosed homes reckoning that there would be a fundamental shift in housing, with millions of people losing their houses and becoming renters — at least until they could repair their credit scores.

On the eve of the crisis, the rate of homeownership — the percentage of households that own a home — hovered around 69 percent. Today, it is 63.7 percent, according to the United States Census Bureau. And last year, the number of new renters again outpaced the number of new homeowners, according to Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies.

But the economics of buying recently foreclosed homes to rent out has become more challenging for Wall Street firms that seek to generate double-digit returns for investors, and for publicly traded real estate investment trusts that promise shareholders hefty quarterly dividends.

For the past year or so, many institutional investors have had to compete with potential homeowners shopping for foreclosed homes posted for sale on multiple listing services.

“As home prices rise, most of the institutional investors are dramatically slowing the rate at which they buy new homes,” said Laurie Goodman, director of the Urban Institute’s Housing Finance Policy Center. “And with the easy money days behind them, they need a more efficient cost structure.” She said the merger was a way accomplish that by gaining further economies of scale.

Blackstone was one of the first private equity firms to begin buying foreclosed homes in the wake of the financial crisis, fixing them up and renting them out. The firm, which began buying homes in earnest in 2011, is estimated to have spent $10 billion on its foreclosed-home-to-rental bet.

Invitation Homes, which emerged from that push with almost 50,000 homes, is a company that Blackstone built from scratch.

Purchases by Invitation Homes have dropped sharply since 2013, when it was buying hundreds of homes each week. Its acquisitions are down more than 90 percent from then, and the period of “hyper growth” for the industry has passed, said a person close to the company who was not authorized to speak publicly.

In all, institutional investors have bought an estimated 200,000 single-family homes to operate as rentals.

But that is a fraction of the overall number of rental homes in the United States. According to housing industry estimates, there are as many as 17 million single-family rentals across the country, most owned by mom-and-pop landlords or firms operating fewer than 100 such homes.

Before the crisis, there were about 10 million rental homes, an indication of how many homeowners were displaced by the worst housing crisis since the Great Depression.

Consolidation among institutional investors began three years ago with American Homes 4 Rent, which owns 49,000 rental homes, buying Beazer Pre-Owned Rental Homes. A few months later, Starwood Waypoint bought Colony American Homes in an all-stock deal that valued Colony American at $1.5 billion. Most of the mergers since then have been small, and the deal between Invitation Homes and Starwood Waypoint would be the biggest in an industry that did not exist a decade ago.

The move by institutional investors into the housing market has been credited by some with helping to stabilize the sharp and steady decline in home prices early in the financial crisis. The presence of private equity firms and hedge funds in the market also helped attract the interest of smaller investors.

But big firms like Invitation Homes and American Homes have drawn criticism from housing advocates for renting their homes at prices that are unaffordable for the working poor.

Few renters with federal rent subsidies known as Section 8 live in homes owned by Invitation Homes and other institutional investors. That is partly because such investors have tended to operate in largely suburban communities and have avoided buying homes in urban areas.

In the past, Blackstone has said that 72 percent of houses owned by Invitation Homes have monthly rents within federal affordability guidelines for the markets where it operates.

This year, housing advocates and some legislators criticized Fannie Mae, one of two government-controlled mortgage finance giants, for agreeing to guarantee a $1 billion financing deal for Invitation Homes without getting any assurances that the company would do more to provide affordable housing.

Kevin Stein, a lawyer and deputy director of the California Reinvestment Coalition, a group that supports the rights of tenants and homeowners, said he was concerned that the merger of Invitation Homes and Starwood Waypoint would increase their power to raise rents.

“What is the level of concentration? This is a concern to our members,” Mr. Stein said. “There are so many communities in California where people are being driven out because of housing costs, and this is part of the dynamic.”

Under the terms of the deal announced on Thursday, each Starwood Waypoint share will be converted into 1.614 Invitation Homes shares. The total enterprise value of the combined company, including debt, would be $20 billion, the companies said.

Invitation Homes’ shareholders will own roughly 59 percent of the combined company’s stock, while Starwood Waypoint’s investors will own the rest.

Blackstone, which took Invitation Homes public in January in an offering that raised $1.7 billion in net proceeds, would continue to have a stake in the combined company.

After the merger, which is subject to the approval of shareholders, is completed, John Bartling, Invitation Homes’ chief executive, will step down. Fred Tuomi, the current chief executive of Starwood Waypoint, will be the chief executive of the combined company.

The new company’s 11-member board will include six members of the Invitation Homes board, including the chairman, Bryce Blair, who will be chairman of the new company’s board. Jonathan D. Gray, head of global real estate for Blackstone and an architect of its single-family rental trade, also will be on the board.

The combined company will operate as Invitation Homes and trade under the Invitation Homes ticker symbol.

On a day when a nervous stock market declined, shares of both Invitation Homes and Starwood Waypoint surged. Invitation Homes’ shares gained 3.91 percent; Starwood Waypoint’s shares rose 5.15 percent.

Source: nytimes.com

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Proposed legislation would limit criminal background checks for rental housing

Mon, 08/14/2017 - 8:23am

Alex Lopez has a dream.

The 20-year-old from Southern California wants to be an international businessman, with a focus on online marketing. He’s in the process of completing his high school degree equivalent and exploring options for higher education. Lopez’s face held a look of earnest determination as he sat perched on a high stool in a Starbucks, describing where he’s been, where he hopes to go and the barriers that stand in his way.

Lopez, like millions of others living in this country, has a felony conviction on his record. His conviction for selling drugs in Southern California casts a shadow over every job interview he attends and every apartment application he submits. He can’t even move back in with his family because he can’t pass the background check and doesn’t want to endanger their rental housing.

The conviction, for which he’s already served his time, follows Lopez wherever he goes.

“I paid for it, that’s it,” Lopez said. “Well, that’s not it.”

“I’m pretty sure down the road I’m going to have to quit my studies for a little to find housing,” Lopez said.

Lopez spends most of his time split between work and school, a load he’s finding increasingly difficult to balance as the threat of homelessness looms. He’s living in transitional housing now, but the time limit on that will come up in just a few months, forcing him into the private rental market and the judgment that comes with it.

He’s worried that he’ll have to choose between housing and his education.

“I’m pretty sure down the road I’m going to have to quit my studies for a little to find housing,” Lopez said.

Stories like his caused Seattle City Councilmembers Lisa Herbold and Kshama Sawant to bring forward legislation that would limit the use of criminal records in rental housing applications by curtailing the amount of information available through background checks that landlords rely upon to weed out what they consider to be unfit tenants.

The bill, called Fair Chance Housing, proposes to help people with criminal records in several ways. First, it wouldn’t allow background checks to include criminal convictions older than two years. Currently background checks can include criminal history dating back seven years (“Washington background checking agencies are flawed and unenforced,” RC, July 26). Second, it requires landlords to offer a business reason for denying an application; simply citing a criminal conviction would not suffice.

There are exceptions: Shared housing, small buildings with an onsite landlord and some federally assisted housing would be exempt.

Proponents of the bill believe it doesn’t go far enough. They want to eliminate the provision that allows background checks to include criminal convictions of the previous two years.

Opponents feel that the bill is one more example of tenant-friendly legislation that’s come from the City Council in recent months that shifts the burden of solving social ills from government to private landlords.

“We should be looking at the criminal justice system, not put this onto individual landlords,” said William Shadbolt, who represented the Rental Housing Association of Washington at a panel discussion of the legislation in mid-July.

Four out of five report that their criminal history is a big reason they can’t find housing in a market that is already pricing people out.

Roughly 30 percent of people living in Seattle have a criminal record, according to the Office of Civil Rights, and 7 percent have a felony conviction. Four out of five report that their criminal history is a big reason they can’t find housing in a market that is already pricing people out.

The result: more people living on the streets struggling to survive and potentially falling back into criminal activity.

“Housing discrimination is very real in our city,” said Nick Straley, an attorney with Columbia Legal Services, a nonprofit legal team that has joined with the FARE Housing Coalition to support the legislation. “We as a city need to be affirmative and direct.”

The problem is growing.

In 2015, almost 7,900 people were released from prison in Washington state, according to the Department of Corrections. Nearly half of those went back to King County or one of the four neighboring counties. The Department of Corrections Reentry team reported that between 2013 and 2016, an average of 38 people a month went from the prison system into homelessness.

In 2017, that figure leapt to 85 people every month.

The federal government already frowns upon systematically denying housing to people based on their criminal history. In 2016 the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) released guidance that required administrators of federally funded housing to look past a criminal conviction and supply substantive reasons that a prospective tenant was not a good fit.

“Bald assertions based on generalizations or stereotypes that any individual with an arrest or conviction record poses a greater risk than any individual without such a record are not sufficient to satisfy this burden,” the document reads.

Institutional racism has created a system in which people of color have disproportionately high rates of conviction and incarceration.

The reason: Institutional racism has created a system in which people of color have disproportionately high rates of conviction and incarceration, which means discriminating against people based on a criminal conviction equates to discrimination based on the color of a person’s skin.

The proposed legislation has raised concerns among small landlords, who worry about protecting their investments, the safety of their tenants and the increasing regulatory burden posed by laws coming out of Seattle’s government.

Landlords are leaving the market, weakening the supply of affordable housing in an increasingly unaffordable city, said Sean Martin, spokesperson for the Rental Housing Association, at a committee meeting on July 25.

“What you’re attempting to do imposing this by fiat will fail,” said one landlord at the meeting.

Anecdotes of criminal behavior and generalized fear of former convicts are not founded in data, and shouldn’t hamper this legislation, Straley told the committee.

“I have yet to hear a single story from any landlord that they were any safer because of screening,” he said.

Instead, such a policy could serve to make everyone safer, Straley said.

“The research is absolutely clear. The more people we get housed, the less crime we have,” Straley said.

 

Source: realchangenews.org

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Nextdoor announces dedicated real estate sections for each neighborhood

Mon, 08/14/2017 - 7:52am

Nextdoor, the social network that aims to connect people living in the same communities, has said it’s introducing a dedicated section on its website for real estate.

RealtorMag reported that Nextdoor will allow real estate pros to sponsor real estate sections in neighborhoods where the site operates, so they can connect more easily with prospective clients in the areas where they do business. Nextdoor said the feature is being rolled out in 10 markets at first: Atlanta; Austin, Texas; Dallas/Fort Worth; Houston; Los Angeles; Phoenix; Portland; Sacramento, Calif.; San Diego, and San Francisco.

Nextdoor is unique from better known social media sites like Facebook as it creates dozens of neighborhood-specific websites that can only be accessed by people living there. This “hyperlocal” focus makes Nextdoor an attractive platform for real estate marketers, reckons Nextdoor CEO and cofounder Nirav Tolia.

“Nextdoor is the only [online] place where real estate agents can actually engage with real neighbors,” Tolia told RealtorMag. “It’s similar to sending out postcards, but it’s a lot cheaper.”

Nextdoor already allows real estate agents to create a kind of business page on its site, and they can do so at no cost. For an additional fee agents can link their Nextdoor page to listings and other information available on their own website, together with recommendations from other Nextdoor users. The company claims more than 22,000 real estate agents have already created pages on the site.

With the new dedicated real estate section, users will be able to discuss topics such as the homes for sale in their neighborhood and property values. In addition, they can also use it to connect with real estate pros who sponsor the section, in addition to those recommended by other users.

The bad news is that sponsoring a real estate section doesn’t come cheap. Tolia told RealtorMagthat pricing varies between $100 and $1,000 per month depending on the neighborhood. The company will only allow one real estate pro to sponsor each neighborhood to begin with, though it may auction off additional sponsorship slots at a later date.

Nextdoor’s initiative comes just days after Facebook said it was bringing its Dynamic Ads capability to real estate, allowing agents and brokerages to promote listings to users who’ve previously viewed their web pages.

 

Source: realtybiznews.com

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Even small rent increases in these cities make people homeless

Mon, 08/14/2017 - 7:46am

As rents climb across the U.S., more people are being driven into homelessness.

In some of the country’s hottest housing markets, rent increases have a strong connection with upticks in the homeless population, according to a study released this week from real-estate website Zillow. In New York City, a 5% rent hike would lead to nearly 3,000 more people becoming homeless. In Los Angeles, the same increase in rent would leave around 2,000 people without a place to live.

To produce the report, Zillow created a model that analyzed different variables, including how population growth and changes in rent affect the homelessness rate. The model also considered the accuracy of homeless counts. Zillow then passed Census population figures, homelessness counts and its own rental data through the model to determine the relationship between rental prices and homelessness in different cities. The Census population numbers also take into account people who move in or out of a city, including those who may have moved elsewhere for cheaper housing.

New York and Los Angeles, along with Washington, D.C. and Seattle, witnessed homelessness rates climb by at least 4% between 2011 and 2016, Zillow noted. The supply of affordable rental housing in many cities is so limited that it cannot meet demand, causing the rise in both rental costs and homelessness, said Zillow senior economist Skylar Olsen. “We’ve seen so much pressure in rental-housing markets that it’s created a rental affordability crisis that has spilled over into a homelessness crisis at lower-income levels,” Olsen said.

In many cities, the median low-wage income isn’t sufficient to cover the cost of renting a low-end apartment. In New York, median bottom-tier rents represent 111.8% of the median low-income wage, Zillow found. For Los Angeles and San Francisco, that figures is 107.8% and 99.9% respectively.

Affordability problems for people who earn less money aren’t exclusive to expensive cities. In Philadelphia, Tampa and Houston, someone making the median low income will have to spend well over half of her income on rent.

For many of the people driven out of their homes by higher rents, being homeless means living on the streets. In Los Angeles, only 25% of people who were homeless were sheltered in any way, data from the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Homelessness is often due to a confluence of factors, including low wages and high rents. In popular housing markets, data has shown that the cost of rent is increasing at such a pace that it’s exceeding the money many retirees earn from Social Security. In New York, hundreds of people working for the city are forced to live in homeless shelters because they cannot afford rent. And 14% of community college students are homeless, according to a study by the Wisconsin Hope Lab, an organization that researches college affordability, and the Association of Community College Trustees.

While the connection between rising rents and increasing levels of homelessness is strong in cities like New York or Seattle, that’s not the case elsewhere. Zillow noted that Houston and Tampa both saw their homeless population decrease even as rents went up between 2011 and 2016.

In Houston’s case, the decrease is particularly notable since the city had one of the worst homelessness rates in the country back in 2010. Today, a 10% increase in rent would only leave 135 more people homeless — comparatively, more than 6,000 individuals would be without a place to live if a similar increase occurred in New York. Local agencies and organizations in the city have led a coordinated marketing campaign to landlords so that more units were specifically targeted to homeless people. These groups also use data to drive where they invest funding to combat homelessness.

Tampa took a different approach. The county sheriff’s department there rethought its approach to homeless people. Police officers began to ask homeless individuals what they needed and found that many couldn’t get jobs because of a lack of identification, so the department helped them get Social Security cards and IDs through driver’s license offices. Now there are eight sheriff’s deputies whose sole task is to get homeless people what they need. Additionally, a nonprofit in the city led an effort to place homeless veterans into furnished apartments.

Tampa and Houston aren’t alone: Other cities with falling homelessness rates between 2011 and 2016 included Chicago, San Diego and Atlanta.

Zillow also argued in its report that the current methods of estimating the number of homeless people across the country are problematic. Local, one-night homeless counts are conducted periodically, and their findings are used to extrapolate an estimated figure of an area’s homeless population.

HUD estimated that more than half a million people “experienced homelessness for at least one night in 2016,” the report said, based on local counts the department collected. But counts like these may only capture just 59% of the actual homeless population, according to a 2008 study in the American Journal of Public Health. As Zillow notes, changes in weather or the number of volunteers can significantly affect the accuracy of a count.

 

Source: marketwatch.com

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Move-In Season: How Student Housing Owners Manage The Onslaught Every August

Mon, 08/14/2017 - 7:46am

When college students come back to campus for the fall, they are focused on reconnecting with friends, stocking up on school supplies and learning their class schedules. But for landlords, the days leading up to the start of the semester are a hectic whirlwind as they undertake the herculean task of preparing a large apartment building for a surge of simultaneous move-ins.

In a typical multifamily building, property managers gradually move tenants in and out throughout the year, refurbishing units as they become available. But for student housing owners, that year’s worth of work is packed into just one or two weeks. That may sound like an impossible workload to manage, but they have gotten it down to a science.  American Campus Communities, the nation’s largest student housing REIT with nearly 200 properties owned or managed, typically creates a two-week gap between the end of one lease and the start of another.  During that period, referred to as “the turn,” the building manager brings in employees and vendors to replace carpets, patch walls and repair any other damage to make units look new again. “This is our most intense time of the year when all of our properties are turning,” ACC Senior Vice President Jason Wills said. “In the corporate office, we actually have everyone from secretaries to executives fly to various properties to help with the turn. In our culture, it’s a pretty important thing.”   The building managers prepare agreements with local contractors months in advance to help with the turn. In some college towns where ACC has multibuilding projects, Wills said, the company runs out of contractors to hire.  “We actually consume the entire labor pool,” he said. “There are times when we run out of labor and we have to bring something in from neighboring cities.”

The 83 communities student housing REIT EdR owns or manages also have two-week turn periods. On move-out day, typically July 31, EdR managers line up dumpsters and bring in an army of employees with trash bags to scour the building.  “It’s amazing how much stuff students leave in the unit,” EdR Chief Operating Officer Christine Richards said. “We start at the top and go down to the bottom and throw out everything that was left behind.” The managers then bring in teams of vendors, from painters to flooring installers to mechanics. Richards said about 30% of student housing residents will typically renew their leases, so some buildings will put up red signs on units that are already fully occupied. Since they lease individual beds rather than full units, some can be partially occupied but still need some refurbishing, adding another challenging wrinkle to the process.

Richards said her teams spend months before the turn period planning and making sure everyone knows their assignments.  “You’re trying to refurbish all of these units in a two-week period, so you’ve got to have a lot of people on-site and be incredibly organized,” Richards said. “If there’s ever been a turn that hasn’t gone as smoothly as you’d like, it’s because they weren’t as organized as they should have been.”  By the time move-in day comes around, most of the hard work has already been done. Student housing buildings typically come fully furnished, so students are not pulling up U-Hauls full of furniture to the loading dock or hauling couches up the elevator.  “On move-in day, we’re just dealing with cars stocked full of clothes and dishes,” Richards said. “Because everything is done so far in advance, with the paperwork all turned in, all they have left to do is show their ID and pick up the key.”

As soon as students move in, the leasing process for the next school year begins. Just as student housing buildings have more hectic turnover periods than typical multifamily properties, there is similar pressure on the leasing teams. At some large campuses, students finalize their housing arrangements for the next school year in September or October, while others wait until the spring. If a leasing team misses the wave of housing decisions and starts a school year with major vacancies, it may have to wait another 12 months to fill them, a challenge unique to student buildings. Because of this pressure, experienced student housing owners devote heavy resources to leasing, start early and make sure the buildings look as good as new from day one.  “We first start with a robust renewal campaign,” Richards said. “Obviously, the first impression is on move-in day. If those students and parents move into an apartment that’s well-kept and what they expect, they’re more likely to renew.”

Source: bisnow.com

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More Real Estate Players Say the Peak Is Now

Mon, 08/14/2017 - 7:42am

More than half of respondents to an NREI survey conducted in July said the real estate cycle has reached its peak. The percentage of survey respondents who believe we are currently at the peak of the market totaled 52 percent, up 500 basis points since the results in May of 2017 and 600 basis points since March results. The only time the figure was higher in the past two years was in October 2016, when it reached 55 percent.

 

At the same time, the percentage of respondents who believe the market is in the recovery/expansion phase has dipped by 11 percentage points, to 24 percent in July. This was the first time the sentiment has dipped this low since October 2015.

The percentage of respondents who believe the market is in the recession phase has gone up from 4 percent in May to 9 percent in July, and the percentage of those who see a cycle trough has gone from 4 percent to 7 percent during the period.

The percentage of those who are not sure which phase of the cycle we are in has stayed relatively unchanged, falling from 10 percent in May to 9 percent in July.

NREI conducts periodic studies of the commercial real estate sector. As part of those surveys, there is always a question on the estimation of the current state of the commercial real estate cycle. A typical NREI survey garners between 200 and 400 respondents. More than half of those respondents are typically owner/partner/president/chairman/CEO or CFO-level executives.

 

Source: nreionline.com

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Short-Term Rental Income Calculations Changed

Mon, 08/14/2017 - 7:33am

Freddie Mac has made some changes to the way in which lenders must handle rental income.  The changes are primarily aimed at determining the stability of that income, especially when it is short term and does not involve a lease.  The changes apply to loans with settlement dates on or after February 9, 2018, but sellers can, if they wish, implement them in their entirety immediately.

The company says the changes to rental income requirements reflect changes in the rental market such as short-term rental income and are intended to support the determination of stability, calculation of rental income, and a reasonable expectation that rental income will continue.

A loan used to purchase or refinance the subject property, or a non-subject property, which was not owned in the prior calendar year requires considering net rental income only up to a limit of 30 percent of the total of that net rental income plus all other stable monthly income used to qualify the borrower.  The exception would be a borrower who has a documented history of investment property management experience of at least one year. The change, Freddie says, is to “provide support to sustainable and successful homeownership by requiring a reasonable limitation upon the reliance on a newer type of income stream.”

To use rental income in refinancing a 1- to 4-unit investment property, a 2-to 4-unit primary residence, or a non-subject investment property, the following conditions must be met.

Short term rental income (i.e. from a source where a lease is not utilized) must have a two-year history documented on IRS Schedule E and the property must have been used for the purposes of producing rental income for that period of time.  Freddie Mac says that short-term rental income tends to fluctuate so historical analysis of the degree of volatility is necessary to determine stability.

Long term rental income can be verified through either a current signed and executed lease with an original term of one year or through income reported on Schedule E.  Sellers may also determine that rental income is stable without a lease when it is evident the income is not short-term, based on the documentation provided.

The Freddie Mac Bulletin (#2017-12) also includes technical changes to rental income calculations, clarifications of some self-employed income revisions made last year, and updates to MultiLender Swap posting information.

 

Source: mortgagenewsdaily.com

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Introduction to Property Management KPIs

Sat, 08/12/2017 - 10:37am

 

  • Is your business scalable?
  • How do you make pricing/fee decisions?
  • Do you have a 12-month growth plan?
  • How will the new services you are rolling out impact profitability?
  • How many people do you need to hire if you add 130 units and lose 23 units in 2017?
  • Is your company ready to hire a Business Development Manager (BDM)?
  • How much profit can you count on by the end of the year?

If you are asking yourself these questions, congratulations! You are a successful entrepreneur looking to blow the lid off of your business and set your business on on the path toward:

Constant Growth and Constant Improvement

(A phrase we borrowed from our client, Matthew Greeves of EJF Real Estate)

Here at Fourandhalf, we solve marketing and growth for property management companies, and now we’d like to help you realize more profit and model your company growth to take maximum advantage of every new lead and new unit under management. If you already know these key ratios, jump onto part 2 of our post: applying the property management KPIs

Introduction to Property Management KPIs

Establishing and tracking Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) is the first step to using data to enable growth and the success of your business. We use these very same metrics here at Fourandhalf – all the way from working in a garage five years ago to a 24-person, multi-million dollar company. We’ve grown by carefully and deliberately tracking our KPIs and modeling every new product and initiative against our Unit Economics Model (UEM).

Many companies underinvest in marketing and end up stagnating their growth (Yeah, yeah, we are a marketing company, so of course we’d say that – but Fourandhalf suffered from the same ailment early on). The truth is, if you don’t know how each incremental dollar of input connects to the output, you are flying blind. Marketing is a key function of your business, but if you don’t have these metrics dialed in, it’s hard to recognize how much you can afford to spend on marketing, and how much your organization can scale.

The model as a whole is fairly complex, but if we break it up into small chunks, it is super manageable.

Let’s go to KPI school! (Your business depends on it)

Let’s start with the first 3 key metrics:

  • CAC – Customer Acquisition Cost
  • CLV – Customer Lifetime Value
  • ACV – Annual Contract Value
Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC)

Businesses are born and die on CAC; it is the backbone of every marketing campaign because it tells you what you’re actually paying, on average, per new client. You can calculate this by door or by owner, but we recommend running both metrics. If you also increase your average number of doors per owner, you can earn more revenue from each customer.

So here’s how you work on CAC: Choose a time period, like 12 months. Open up your Profit & Loss for the period and total up your owner marketing costs and your owner sales costs. For example, how much did you pay a sales person for that 12 month period? If you are the one that does all the selling, take the appropriate portion of your salary and commit it to sales expense line. Add all of your marketing and sales costs and divide the total by the number of owners you brought on board during that period. This will give you your owner CAC. Divide it by the number of doors you acquired to get your per-door acquisition cost.

Example:

Sales and Marketing Costs for 2016 – $140,000

Units under management acquired in 2016 – 80

$140,000 divided 80 equals $1,750

Your 2016 Customer (per Unit) Acquisition Cost is $1,750

Annual Contract Value (ACV)

We use this metric to figure out the average amount of money you’ll receive per unit over a period of 12 months. It requires only simple math and it helps you figure out if your business really works. You get this number by taking your total revenue for the period and dividing by the number of units under management at the end of that period.

Example:

Total revenue for 2016 – $1,200,000

Ending Units under management as of 12/31/2016 – 360

$1,200,000 divided 360 equals $3,333

Your 2016 Average (per unit managed) Contract Value is $3,333

How does your ACV compare to CAC? Do you pay back your customer acquisition cost in 15 months or less? We’ll discuss on how to use these ratios later in this series.

Customer Lifetime Value (CLV)

This metric can truly tell you the health of your business. To find your Customer Lifetime Value (CLV, sometimes called CLTV), you will take your average annual contract value and multiply it by the average number of months your customers stay with you – owners, not tenants. That can be tricky. If you’ve been in business for 10 years, you can look at how long your customers have stayed over the course of those years. You’ll be able to track it and get a good average. But if you can’t do that, use a number like 42 months (three and a half years), which is the national average for property management companies. Once you understand your CLV and CAC, you have some serious metrics to continue perfecting your operations and figuring out where and how to spend your marketing budget.

Example:

ACV ($3,333) divided by 12 equals $227.75

Average number of months unit stays under management – 42

$227.75 x 42 = $11,665.50

Your Customer Lifetime Value is $11,665.50

Every phone call you miss from a prospective lead, equals the value of a gently used, low mileage 2010-2012 Toyota Corolla S. Ouch. Knowing this number changes the optics through which we view our businesses, doesn’t it?

Source: fourandhalf.com

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