Three Helpful Tips for Renting Out Your Home

 Home ownership has always been a part of the American dream, but that may be changing. Uncertainty in the housing market has led many would-be buyers to believe that renting’s the better option.

According to a May 2010 online survey commissioned by the National Apartment Association, 76 percent of consumers think that renting is preferable to owning a home in today’s market.

Likewise, some homeowners believe it’s better to rent out their home than to sell it for less than its worth, if they can sell it all. Those considering renting out their property shouldn’t make a hasty decision. Neglecting to weigh the costs and potential risks could put first-time landlords in a poor situation. Moco, Inc., a company that provides screening services to property owners, managers and employers throughout the United States, offers the following tips:

* Look at the numbers. Renting might not be the best option. If you’re going to lose money each month, it might make more sense to sell, even if you won’t get your asking price. Consider all potential costs, including property taxes, income taxes on your tenants’ rent, maintenance, and the normal wear and tear your property will experience. Remember that you won’t be able to pocket all of the rent money; you will have to put a portion of it back into the property.

* Find quality tenants. Nightmare tenants can be, well, a nightmare. Prepare for a careful screening process. Many private landlords can’t access the quality screening products available to larger businesses without going through a lengthy certification process. However, you can avoid time and expense by asking your applicants to visit MyScreeningReport.com. The report includes a consumer credit report, SSN verification, comprehensive criminal search, eviction search, national sex offender registry search and an OFAC (federal terrorism database) search — everything you need to determine whether a potential tenant meets your standards.

* Use an all-encompassing lease. Whether you use a template or hire an attorney to write your lease, make sure that the lease clearly states your expectations. The lease should state who is responsible for what, when you expect rent to be paid and what penalties you will impose if it is late.

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Staging Your Home for a Quicker Sale

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Foreclosures and high maintenance costs mean that new homes go up for sale faster than you can say “down market.” And what is great for buyers -; more homes to choose from -; means that sellers need to distinguish their properties from the rest of the crowd.

Home staging, or temporarily redesigning a home to appeal to buyers, can give homeowners an edge in an overcrowded market. Staged homes look bigger, newer and warmer. They invite buyers to see themselves living in the home.

Staging projects include inexpensive tasks, from rearranging furniture, to renting contemporary living room sets. Here are some tips for staging homes:

– Declutter. When buyers see overcrowded book shelves and wrinkled towels, they focus more on the dingy details than the architecture. But staging means more than a through cleaning -; sellers should also remove personal items, like family photographs. Buyers should picture their families living in the home, not yours.

– Make things look new. A little paint can go a long way. Light colors make rooms look larger and brighter, so use them to make your home appear spacious. Wooden floors and cabinetry make big impressions, so make sure that they shine. If any wood looks dry or dirty, apply an orange oil for a quick restoration job. Touch of Oranges

Wood Cleaner and Restorer

(www.TouchOfOranges.com) hides small scratches and removes build-up, fingerprints and grease from cabinetry, wood floors and fixtures.

Hard water stains on glass shower doors and windows look unattractive, so remove them with a specialized product like CLR, Lime Away or Bring It On Cleaner (www.BringItOnCleaner.com), which uses oxygen bleach to clean minerals from glass and tile. Some hard water stains will often yield to scrubbing with white vinegar and a non-scratch pad. If you find that vinegar is ineffective, a paint scraper or razor blade can be used to remove the bonded stains before resorting to harsher chemicals.

– Add small details. In the kitchen, bowls filled with fresh fruit create an attractive, colorful eyepiece. Place vases filled with fresh flowers in the bedrooms and dining room. Put candles in the bathroom. Small touches make homes feel more inviting.

A Primer for First-Time Homebuyers

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After having waited on the sidelines for what seemed like forever, first-time homebuyers last year made 38 percent of all U.S. single-family home purchases – the biggest share since 2000 – and the 2.07 million new or existing houses they bought ended up being 7 percent more than in 2016, Bloomberg.com reported.

“Pent-up demand” is how the news site described it, citing Millennials as one of the driving forces.

But the market for house-hunting newbies like yourself has changed considerably from that most recent high mark of nearly two decades ago. And you know what they say: “Forewarned is forearmed.” Read on.

* Inventory is tight.

So tight, in fact – especially for lower-priced starter-homes – that, as the Wall Street Journal wrote, even “buyers in historically calm markets such as Boise, Idaho, and Minneapolis are facing bidding wars, prompting them to dig deep into their coffers to win deals.”

Not into bidding wars? Well, there’s always Little Rock, Arkansas.

Unlike Denver, Seattle and San Francisco – which LendingTree named the “most challenging” cities in the nation for first-time buyers – Little Rock was rated a veritable paradise for house hunters.

* There’s still a lot of all-cash buyers out there, so don’t be afraid to get creative.

Though the number of all-cash transactions peaked at 40 percent in 2011 and 2012 – with savvy investors still taking advantage of the subprime mortgage crisis by buying up homes many then rented out – last year’s 28.8 percent figure remains above normal. (One reason for the tight inventory: “Investors (are) making too much money as landlords to sell,” according to MarketWatch.com.)

Granted, you’re at a disadvantage if someone else waves $500,000 in cash in front of a seller even if you arrive pre-approved for a mortgage. However, HDTV.com tells the story of a couple who got a “great deal” on their Denver home – yes, Denver – by adding a contingency to their $300,000 bid that they’d pay $1,000 over any other competing offer up to a maximum of $329,000.

“Although unconventional,” the site admitted, “a creative strategy like this can be very effective in today’s market.”

* Don’t automatically reject a fixer-upper because you’re not handy enough to fix things like the roof.

Everyone knows you can save a bundle by buying a house that needs work, but some things – including electrical system overhauls and extensive roof repairs – are safer left to the pros. So the question becomes this: How far ahead would you come out, financially, after deducting those costs from the house’s likely post-renovation market value?

“An attractive roof is the ultimate curb enhancer, so it’s important to figure that into your calculations,” said Patsy O’Neill, a sales associate with Sotheby’s in Montclair, New Jersey.