Making a Rental Feel Like Home

Stylizing your own home can be a daunting but rewarding challenge. When you own your living space, it’s easy to feel a sense of ownership over every piece of your design. But for renters, the challenge is a bit different. Despite limitations, it’s no less important to one’s well-being for a residence to convey a sense of ownership and self. To make a rental unit feel a bit more like home, we took down a few ways to imbue your abode with your own spirit, without leaving a permanent mark in the space or your wallet.

Storage – Let’s be honest, rentals often lack sufficient storage place, and since custom cabinetry isn’t usually an option for renters, investing in some added storage is key. Add some simple shelves, bookshelves, baskets, or under the bed storage.

Blinds – Vertical blinds may be the ultimate decorating sin. No one likes feeling as if they’re living in a motel room. We suggest you either take them down or hide them under curtains. Just don’t throw them out or you may not get your security deposit back!

Accessorize – Pillows, throws, candles, books, light fixtures… the only way to get a truly genuine space. This is by far the easiest and a MUST.

Wall Art – Those pesky holes might keep you from hanging art or photos on your walls, but when it comes down to it, they’ll only take a few minutes to patch up when it comes time to move out. This doesn’t mean you have to hang an entire art gallery, but hanging one statement piece and placing the rest of the photos on a mantel or shelf should do the trick.

Rugs – Last but not least, rugs: the peanut butter to your rental jelly. If there are scratched hardwood floors or stained carpets, you can cover those up easily with a throw rug. Not only that, a rug is a great investment piece that will add your personal flavor to any space. And they absorb noise and make a room feel comfy.

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To Sell or to Rent? The Perks and Pitfalls of Being a Landlord

Electing a full sale or a property management situation is a life-changing decision that shouldn’t be taken lightly. In choosing whether or not becoming a landlord is right for you, there are a number of factors to consider, but primarily they fall into the following three categories: financial analysis, risk, and goals.

The financial analysis is probably the easiest of the three to perform.  You will need to assess if you can afford to rent your house. If you consider the likely rental rate, vacancy rate, maintenance, advertising, and management costs, you can arrive at a budget. It is important to both be detailed in your projections and to have enough reserves to cover cash-flow needs if you’re wrong. The vacancy rate will be determined by the price at which you market the property.  Price too high and you’re liable to be left vacant. Should you have applicants, they’ll often be a group that for some reason couldn’t compete for more competitively priced homes. Price too low and you don’t achieve the revenue you should. If you want to try for the higher end of an expected range, understand that the cost may be a vacant month. Any way you slice it, it’s difficult to make up for a vacant month.

Consider the other costs renting out your property could accrue. If you have a landscaped or large yard, you will likely need to hire a yard crew to manage the grounds. Other costs could increase when you rent your home, such as homeowner’s insurance and taxes on your property. Depending on tenant turn-over, you may need to paint and deal with maintenance issues more regularly. Renting your home is a decision you need to make with all the financial information in front of you.

If your analysis points to some negative cash-flow, that doesn’t necessarily mean renting is the wrong option. That answer needs to be weighed against the pros and cons of alternatives. For instance, how does that compare to marketing the property at the price that would actually sell? Moreover, you’ll need to perform additional economic guesswork about what the future holds in terms of appreciation, inflation, etc. to arrive at an expectation of how long the cash drain would exist.

Risk is a bit harder to assess. It’s crucial to understand that if you decide to lease out a home, you are going into business, and every business venture has risks. One of the most obvious ways of mitigating the risk is to hire a management company.  By hiring professionals, you decrease your risk and time spent managing the property (and tenants) yourself.  However, this increases the cost. As you reduce your risk of litigation, you increase your risk of negative cash-flow, and vice versa… it’s a balancing act, and the risk cannot be eliminated; just managed and minimized.

In considering goals, what do you hope to achieve by renting your property? Are you planning on moving back to your home after a period of time? Will your property investment be a part of your long-term financial planning? Are you relocating or just hoping to wait to sell? These are all great reasons to consider renting your home.

Keep in mind that renting your family home can be emotional. Many homeowners love the unique feel of their homes. It is where their children were raised, and they care more about preserving that feel than maximizing revenue. That’s ok, but it needs to be acknowledged and considered when establishing a correct price and preparing a cash flow analysis. Some owners are so attached to their homes that it may be better for them to “tear off the band-aid quickly” and sell. The alternative of slowly watching over the years as the property becomes an investment instead of a home to them may prove to be more painful than any financial benefit can offset.

Before reaching a conclusion, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the landlord-tenant-law specific to your state (and in some cases, separate relevant ordinances in the city and/or county that your property lies within) and to do some market research (i.e. tour other available similar rentals to see if your financial assumptions are in line with the reality of the competition across the street). If you are overwhelmed by this process, or will be living out of the region, seek counsel with a property management professional.  Gaining experience the hard way can be costly. With proper preparation, however, the rewards will be worth it.

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Five Reasons You Need Renters Insurance

It might be tempting as a renter to think that you don’t need an insurance policy if you’re renting an apartment or home, but not having one could cost you more than you think. A 2016 poll by the Insurance Information Institute found that only 41 percent of renters have their own renters insurance policy. Here are a few reasons why it’s important to have your own insurance policy as a renter.

  1. To cover your belongings.

In the event that a fire, break-in or other incident occurs that results in the damage or loss of your personal belongings, your landlord’s insurance policy will not pay for their replacement. Consider how much it could cost to replace your clothes, furniture, electronics and other household items. In order to make sure you have the coverage to replace your lost items, it’s critical to have your own renters insurance policy.

  1. To cover people who come to your residence.

If someone were to visit your home and become injured, you could be held liable for their injury and any related medical bills and costs. Having renters insurance helps protect you against this liability, and can help pay for legal expenses in addition to medical bills.

  1. To cover things that might be stolen outside of your home.

Your renters insurance may actually help cover you in incidents that happen away from your home. For example, if some of your personal belongings are stolen from your vehicle, it is unlikely that your auto insurance will cover the theft. However, it’s much more likely that your renters insurance will cover it.

  1. Your landlord might require it.

Agreeing to purchase a rental policy might be a requirement of your landlord. But even if it isn’t, having renter insurance may help your rental application get accepted and it helps show your landlord that you’re a responsible renter.

  1. It won’t break the bank.

Rental policies are usually pretty inexpensive. According to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, the average rental insurance policy costs $190 per year. That amounts to less than $16 per month.

If you’re wondering whether or not you need a rental insurance policy, talk to your insurance representative or reach out to the professionals at Long & Foster Insurance. They can help guide you to the right policy for your needs so you get the right amount of coverage at the right price for your budget.

This blog was reposted with the permission of Long & Foster.

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