Jacqueline Ducharme's Blog
Maybe you’ve thought about buying rental property. Wouldn’t it be great, you think, to own something that someone else pays for? It can work out that way, with your property increasing in value while you pocket money every month. But with the wrong home, the wrong tenants or the wrong management, it can go horrendously sour. Here are eight ways to make your first venture as a landlord a successful one.
Start small. Buy a single house, townhouse or condo rather than an entire apartment building.
Decide how much work you’ll take on. Are you a DIYer? Can you make minor repairs yourself? Are you willing and able to recruit tenants and deal with them on an ongoing basis? If this isn’t you, you’ll be wise to hire a property management company to handle these items.
Really, really, understand your income and expenses. Project them forward 5 to 10 years and make sure you have a margin. There’s more than mortgage, taxes, insurance and utilities. There also can be landscaping, pest control, landlord insurance and minor repairs. Be especially aware of big ticket items. If you’ll need a new roof eight years from now, set aside for it. Be aware of property tax trends so you won’t be caught be surprise. Consider what will happen if a tenant leaves and your property is vacant for several months.
Arrange financing in advance. Most mortgage lenders will pre-qualify your loan. It helps close the deal if you can show this to a buyer.
Know the neighborhood. If you’re not familiar with it, drive around. Talk to people. Research it online.
Learn how to be a landlord. Talk to other landlords. Join a landlord’s association. Familiarize yourself with tenant rights and local regulations.
Know your tenants. The right tenants can make your experience a joy and the wrong ones can make you rue the day you got into this business. Use a screening service. Have a written lease ready to go and specify exactly what is expected: when the rent is due, what the grace period is, what’s the penalty for being late, who pays utilities, what - if any - maintenance the renters are required to do. Insist on prompt rent payment right from the get-go. No matter how much you like your tenants, it's imperative to keep the relationship professional. Visit your property from time to time. You’re not permitted to barge in, but a drive-by can tell you a lot.
Keep business and personal finances separated. Maintain separate bank accounts and credit cards. Be clear on which is which for record keeping and tax accounting.
People have put children through college and financed their retirement through rental property while also working at paycheck jobs. But being a landlord is not for the timid, the inflexible or the careless planners. Think before you make the leap, and if you decide to go for it, all the best!
If, on the other hand, you adopt more of an isolated lifestyle, then the experience of home ownership may be a lot less fulfilling.
Taking the time to have a friendly chat with your neighbors, once in a while, can be helpful both now and in the long-term. While not everyone has a gregarious, outgoing personality, making the occasional effort to say hello can open the door to a number of benefits.
Home Security: The best neighborhoods are those in which everyone looks out for one another. When you know your neighbors on a first-name basis, they'll be a lot more likely to keep an eye on your house and let you (or the police) know when they observe any suspicious activity. It's also nice to feel comfortable enough to be able to ask your neighbors to watch your property while you're away -- either for the weekend or when you're on vacation. Even in low-crime areas, burglaries and vandalism has been known to happen, so it's in everyone's best interest to know their neighbors and be ready to help. Although Neighborhood Watch groups are not active everywhere, there's no reason why people still can't be alert and responsive to loitering, trespassing, or other questionable activity.
Networking Benefits: You may not need a plumber, electrician, or a reasonably priced HVAC technician, right now, but sooner or later, you will -- guaranteed! There may also come a time when you need emergency child care or fast help jump-starting your vehicle. You're probably not going to approach your neighbors for help if you don't know them, but there's a good chance you will if you do have a rapport. By sharing information, resources, and recommendations with neighbors, you'll be paving the way for a mutually beneficial relationship. While you may or may not become best friends, it's nice to know that there's someone nearby you can count on for support and help.
Feeling of community: Although some neighborhoods have a more friendly, close-knit feeling than others, it's often easy to break the ice with neighbors when you're outside -- either doing yard work, walking your dog, or going for a stroll. By taking the initiative to welcome new people into the neighborhood, you'll not only have a positive impact on their lives, but you might even forge a new, long-term friendship. You can also make social connections by chatting with people at yard sales, block parties, or by joining and being active in neighborhood Facebook or Nextdoor groups. While it may feel easier to just keep to yourself and avoid venturing outside of your comfort zone, becoming part of a larger community in your neighborhood (and beyond) is often much more rewarding!
2 N. Browning Court, Pembroke, NH 03275
135 Pine Ridge Road, Loudon, NH 03307
A new house means a clean slate for redecorating. Which is fun and exciting but can become quickly frustrating if you struggle to match the furniture in front of you to the vision in your head.
If you find that this happens the good news is that you are probably a lot closer to creating a beautiful, well-designed room than you think. It’s usually subtle touches that designers keep up their sleeves that make all the difference for a stylish room.
The first thing to keep in mind is that all furniture should be arranged to fit onto your area rug. If this isn’t the case or you don’t have an area rug, this is a worthy investment when you’re able to do so. If you love you’re existing area rug that is too small you can always layer it over a larger rug. This will add dimension and a designer touch, look at you go.
Keep furniture away from the wall. This also makes the above tip much easier to achieve. That’s right you don’t need to find a rug that will span the entire room. Keeping the furniture in the center of the room makes it feel bigger and more spacious. You’ll never look at your friend’s and family’s rooms the same!
Match the size of the artwork you hang up to the size of the furniture you hang it over. Aim for the frame to be at least ⅔ of the size of what it is over and hang it mid-eye level. If you have a gallery wall design it to be so that it still covers a large enough amount of wall space. And smaller artwork can always be creatively reframed.
Take your family’s traffic patterns and activities into consideration when arranging. Blocking main routes with a piece of furniture is awkward and cumbersome. And designing a room that doesn’t accommodate your family’s lifestyle can create chaos and even discord. Make space for toys, video games and homework stations for example.
Take advantage of different levels of lighting. Combining overhead lighting with table and floor lamps create a well-lit comfortable room. It also allows for more control over the ambiance of the room whether it’s time to wind down at night or you’re having friends over for the game.
Add enough tables to the room. A large coffee table is an anchor to the room and allows for drinks to rest, snacks to be laid out and feet to be kicked up. You also want side tables in reach of all sitting positions, and as a place for those table lamps, we mentioned earlier.
And last but not least the secret detail few homeowners include is greenery. Lots of greenery throughout a room makes it feel pulled-together and “right”. It can be via potted plants, fresh-cut flowers or both! If you don’t have a green-thumb there are lots of low-maintenance plants that can survive the most destitute of conditions. Visit a local greenhouse to get an expert opinion on what will fit your level of experience and the lighting conditions of your room. Hint: it’s a good idea to know which direction your windows are facing i.e. North, NorthWest, West etc.