Why Choose a Professional (And Licensed ) Property Manager?
As the demand for rental property increases more and more investors are turning to real estate as a reliable and timeless investment. And while real estate can be an extremely profitable investment, it can also be very time consuming and become extremely overwhelming if you are not well versed.
If you, like many, have ever wondered if professional property management is worth the expense. The answer is: Absolutely! As long as you partner with the right company. Here are a few ways that Frontline Property Management can increase your profits and improve the value of your investments.
Maximizing Rent by Monitoring the Market
Did you know that, in the state of Texas, professional property managers must also be licensed real estate agents? One of the many benefits to hiring a professional property manager is their vast knowledge of the real estate market. Knowing the market will ensure that you are listing your rental property at the right price and will get you the most bang for your buck!
One of the quickest ways to kill your profitability in a rental property is to approve the wrong tenant. While you obviously want to put focus on whether or not a prospective tenant can pay the monthly rent there are many other items to consider when approving a tenant. Some of these items include: How will they care for the property? Will they fulfill their lease obligations? Are they likely to be there long term, or will they be likely to move after just one lease term?
Hiring a property manager can help ensure each tenant is screened thoroughly before they move into the property.
Once the tenant has moved in, the monthly rent must be tracked meticulously. In addition to tracking the rent a professional property manager will have systems in place to ensure that any late payments are handled appropriately and that prompt and proper action is taken in the event of non-payment.
Keeping Your Property in Tip Top Shape
At the end of the day your investment is only as good as its value. Having a professional property manager on your side will ensure that your investment is well cared for. A good property manager will track and perform preventative maintenance resolving issues before they become costly.
Considering taking advantage of this knowledge by hiring a professional property management company?
Frontline Property Management has been dedicating itself to the well being of our investors for over 30 years. Reach out today to see how we can help protect your frontline in order to increase your bottomline.
Have a property that you need help with? Contact us today!
Some Must Reads for Real Estate Investors: Single-Family Edition
Real Estate investing can be a daunting industry to break into! Between determining how to obtain financing, picking a property, and figuring out how to get the best ROI (return on investment) there is so much to know and learn that it can be overwhelming to the point of discouragement. One of the best ways to learn about real estate investing is to read books written by investors and other experts.
Below is a list of some of the most popular books among single-family real estate investors.
One Rental At A Time
Have you ever thought about real estate investing as a path to financial freedom? Have you kicked around the idea but felt you were too busy with work and family responsibilities? If so, One Rental at a Time will transform your life, just as it has transformed the lives of thousands of others.
This book reveals how buying and holding rental properties will create a second income that can, in time, allow you to quit your day job. It worked for me and it can work for you too. What’s stopping you? Read the book and learn how One Rental at a Time can lead to financial independence.
Best of the BRRR Method: Buy, Rehab, Rent, Refinance, Repeat
“Buy, Rehab, Rent, Refinance, Repeat,” or the BRRRR method, was developed by real estate investor David Greene. This 2019 book details each step of his process, including how to start or scale your real estate portfolio, from managing single-family properties to 100-plus unit apartment complexes. This comprehensive guide to house flipping also features a thorough explanation of terms, methodologies, and examples. Greene is the co-host of the BiggerPockets podcast and has been featured on HGTV.
How to Invest in Real Estate: The Ultimate Beginner's Guide to Getting Started
Everyone knows real estate investing can be a powerful way to build wealth and achieve true financial freedom. But, because each person’s journey is different, knowing the first steps to take can be challenging.
That’s why two of the biggest names in the real estate world teamed up to write the most comprehensive manual ever written on getting started in the lucrative business of real estate investing. Josh Dorkin and Brandon Turner—longtime hosts of the world’s #1 real estate podcast, The BiggerPockets Podcast—give you an insider’s look at the many different niches and strategies that exist. Find which one works best for you, your resources, and your goals.
Unlike most traditional real estate books, this one won’t tell you there is “one secret path” to real estate success. Instead, it dives into dozens of unique, life-changing quests and is packed with more than forty real-life stories of how real estate investors are finding success in today’s economy.
The Advanced Guide to Real Estate Investing: How to Identify the Hottest Markets and Secure the Best Deals (Rich Dad's Advisors)
If you’re interested in real estate investing, you may have noticed the lack of coverage it gets in mainstream financial media, while stocks, bonds, and mutual funds are consistently touted as the safest and most profitable ways to invest. According to real estate guru Ken McElroy, that’s because financial publications, TV and radio programs make the bulk of their money from advertising paid for by the very companies who provide such mainstream financial services.
On the other hand, real estate investment is something you can do on your own–without a large amount of money up front. Picking up where he left off in the bestselling ABC’s of Real Estate Investing, McElroy reveals the next essential lessons and information that no serious investor can afford to miss.
Building Wealth One House at a Time, Updated and Expanded, Second Edition
Building Wealth One House at a Time, 2nd Edition provides you with a practical way to create wealth through an ethical approach of buying, financing, and managing property. Renowned real estate expert John W. Schaub takes you through his 9-step program and explains how to accumulate one million dollars’ worth of houses debt free in any market, while earning a steady cash flow.
This invaluable guide presents fresh strategies for buying and financing property, reflected in six new chapters on topics such as real estate cycles, financing real estate purchases, negotiation techniques, and retirement investing.
You’ll learn how to:
- Finance real estate purchases without going to a bank
- Recognize and capitalize on real estate cycles
- Improve your negotiation skills in any situation
- Avoid common and costly mistakes
- Create cash flow that lasts forever, and much more.
Have a multifamily property that you need help with? Contact us today!
What Should be Included in a Residential Lease: The Basics
When leasing a residential property it is important to ensure that both you and the tenant know exactly what is expected from you and what to expect from the other party.
While some oral leases can be legally binding, a diligent landlord will stick to the more traditional written format. This not only helps to protect both parties, but also makes it much easier to recall what exactly was agreed upon later down the road when questions may arise.
But what items should be addressed in the lease? Some of the most basic items to include are:
The Commencement and Expiration Dates:
One of the most important items to include in a written lease is the commencement and expiration date. This allows both parties to prepare themselves and the property for the move in date while also preventing either party from ending the occupancy earlier than expected. If either party attempts to end the occupancy prior to the expiration date stated in the lease that party could be held responsible for the damage caused to the other party (depending on the other lease terms).
The Rental Rate & Due Date:
Another major point to ensure is included is the expected rental rate and due date. This sets financial expectations for both landlord and tenant and allows each party to budget accordingly.
When determining the desired due date keep in mind that, to say compliant with the Texas Property Code, you can not start charging late fees until the rent has remained unpaid for two full days after the original due date.
Even though the expectation on timely payment will be set by providing a due date it is best to include details on what will happen if that due date is not met.
Providing late fees amounts ahead of time can be an excellent deterrent for late payments. If the tenant knows that they will incur extra cost by paying late they will be more likely to ensure that the payment is received on time.
Keep in mind that, if you fail to put late charges in the lease, you will not be able to charge them to the tenant if they fail to pay timely.
Sec. 92.019. LATE PAYMENT OF RENT; FEES
In addition to the rental rate and late fees, another fee that should be included in the residential lease is the security deposit. A security deposit helps protect the landlord from incurring the cost of tenant caused damage and helps deter the tenant, who hopes to receive all of the deposit back at the end of their occupancy, from causing any damage above and beyond normal wear and tear.
Sec. 92.104. RETENTION OF SECURITY DEPOSIT; ACCOUNTING.
While these basic terms should be included in every lease there is much more to be considered when signing a lease with a tenant.
One (out of many) reason to hire a professional property management company is that each company will have a lease that has been typed by a legal professional. Frontline Property Management, Inc., for example, uses the Texas Association of Realtors (TAR) Residential Lease, which is only available to Realtors and is written by TAR lawyers.
Do you have a property you need help with? Just fill out this form and we will reach out to you.
Over the years Texas weather has become the brunt of many jokes!
From the severe heat during the summer months to the volatility of the fall and winter, our weather is quite nonsensical and, while this lends quite a bit of humor to our lives, it can make planning quite difficult.
Preparing your rental property for Fall should be a joint effort between you and your tenant.
You should be sending out seasonal letters with instructions on steps the tenant should take to prepare themselves and the property that they occupy for the season.
However, the onus is not entirely on your tenant to maintain and prepare the property. Make sure you are doing your part to keep the property safe and protect your investment.
One of the most important preparations is to ensure that your HVAC or heating system has been maintained and serviced. Heating is simply a necessity and in the eyes of the legal system, it is a requirement for the health and safety of tenants. Having the heating system checked out yearly before cooler or cold weather hits could avoid bigger maintenance problems and making necessary repairs can prolong the life of the heating system.
Here are some quick tips for fall preparation!
- Check siding to ensure that it is stable and secure
- Have the roof checked for weak spots
- Insulate doors and windows
- Search the property for areas that may need to be caulked to improve heating efficiency
- Cut back any overgrow vegetation (especially if it is hanging over any part of the property)
- Clean out the gutters before fall leaves have had the chance to settle in. (Bonus Tip! placing a gutter guard into the shaft will make future cleanings much easier!)
- Have the chimney swept to remove any blockages
- Check all carbon monoxide and smoke detectors
- Ensure the weather stripping on exterior doors and windows are functional
- Check your attic insulation for gaps
As the first days of fall approach, you will need to ensure your property is ready. This will mean coordinating multiple vendors, admittance to the property, and updating/educating your tenant on their duties. You will certainly have your work cut out for you!
Interested in letting a professional take care of these tasks for you? Contact Frontline Property Management today! We have the experience to handle your investments through any season, and protect your frontline to protect your bottom line!
Have a property that you need help with? Just fill out this form and we will reach out to see how we can help!
Why You Need a Property Management Company in the DFW Area
Whether you are an out-of-state property owner, a longtime local landlord, or are just getting into the property rental business, there are plenty of reasons why you need a company like Frontline Property Management on the ground for you in the DFW area.
2021 has been an interesting year for the Dallas / Fort Worth rental market – to say the least. As we’ve discussed before, the DFW is a very attractive market for Millennials & Gen Z, and is one of the top destinations for out-of-state moves. Investors have used this information to capitalize on the need for housing – and you may have, too! You have a property in a hot market that you’d like to rent. But now what?
You Need Management that Knows the Market
On top of the complications that the pandemic has had on the housing market, the failure of the Texas power grid in February of 2021 exacerbated conditions by forcing many renters out of damaged properties. In a seller’s market like the one we’ve seen this year, many individuals who would otherwise be buying houses are choosing to rent a bit longer. Meaning that there is immense competition between renters for available housing – which is good for DFW landlords. Competitive rental markets translate to higher rents in keeping with the average rent of a given neighborhood in the face of the market overall. A property management company that wants to grow your business is always aware of the many factors and nuances in the market.
You Need Vendors You Can Trust
Frontline Property Management employs many Property Managers who bring decades of experience to the table. The maintenance vendors we use are also experienced, vetted, and local. Relationships are what property management is all about! We take our time to strengthen our vendors with the online tools they need to be the most accessible and responsive. There’s an increasing number of vendors in the DFW area, which makes it daunting to choose a company to work with (particularly if you’re not a local). Transparent communication between our clients, our Property Managers and the vendors we use ensures that you are always up to date with your properties.
You Need Eyes, Ears, and Hands-On Management
While it takes a certain amount of business and research skills to stay on top of the market, there is no substitute for hands-on experience. You need Property Managers who know the Dallas / Fort Worth area down to the neighborhoods. You can trust the assessment of our Management team when it comes to evaluating your property’s value, condition, and what it takes to have it ready to become your passive income! With Frontline, you’re able to rest easy in the knowledge that our Property Managers are on top of any issues – sometimes before they start – so that you don’t have to think about it.
Out of state investors, especially, need to be able to rely on a company that can view, assess, and respond on-site.
You Need Management that Will Help Grow Your Investment
Property Management alone is only an organized system of processes. There are thousands of details to set up these processes, but to put simply it’s getting rental income from a tenant into your bank account. A Property Manager facilitates this process and cares for the physical property in the owner’s stead, but Frontline takes this relationship and builds on it by going a step further: We work to keep you informed. Not just about your property, but about what opportunities may arise due to market conditions. Our client newsletter provides you with up-to-date business information, including pertinent legislation. Property owners looking to get the most out of their investment, and then to grow their portfolio, will find that Frontline provides all of the necessary experience and drive to help you get there.
You Need Frontline Property Management
We’ve faced some unique challenges over the past two years, but Frontline has risen to meet them every step of the way. Utilizing our team of experienced professionals, we have been able to be proactive rather than reactive, and have continued to provide quality service to both our clients and our many tenants. We strive to strengthen our relationships and to create new ones as we move forward!
Contact us today to learn more about our Property Management team!
Have a rental property that you need help with? Just fill out this form and we will reach out to you!
Determining Qualifying Criteria
Before detailing how to determine which criteria you will use for your applications, first be aware that you are legally required to inform your applicants of what they are. Making this information part of your application ensures that the applicant both has the opportunity to review the criteria and signs the document attesting as much. There are legal ramifications if this signature is not captured, as the presumption is by default that the information was not provided for review.
Details about the following criteria should be provided:
Specify which kinds of convictions and adjudications will disqualify an applicant. Establishing a clear timeframe will also better inform an applicant with a criminal background as to whether or not you will consider prior convictions from three, five, or twenty years or more in the past. Check out our previous post that discusses the criminal background check! Understand that requiring an entirely spotless criminal record is considered a violation of the Federal Fair Housing Act. Otherwise, having a substantive reason for disqualifying based on certain other convictions and adjudications (namely violence, sexual offenses, and drug manufacturing and distribution) is reasonable.
Previous Rental History
You won’t be relying solely on the information provided to you by the applicant. Using a third party (or several) to verify rental history will help you to establish the kind of renters the applicants are. By having the applicant sign a release form, you will be able to inquire as to whether their rent was paid on time, whether or not any lease violations were documented, if there were any pets with the applicant, and what condition the property was left in. You are entrusting your property to your future tenant, and you want to know that it is in good hands!
The standard household income requirement is a gross total of three times the monthly rent. This comes from section 8 of the Housing Act of 1937 which in 1981 was amended to state that a tenant must pay at least 30% of their monthly income towards housing. Between the rising cost of living and wage stagnancy, some renters in large cities are spending up to two-thirds of their income on housing. According to the 2020 Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University, one in four renters pays more than 50% of their income on rent. If this trend continues, you could expect (due to supply / demand) that income requirements will be reduced to asking that the total monthly household income is only twice the amount of rent. However, three times the monthly rent currently prevails as the industry standard and a change to that threshold is not on the horizon.
Many landlords have a flat credit score threshold for their applicants, while others prefer a context-based approach. Credit scores as we know them today began in 1989. As a landlord, you will most likely use credit reporting to screen your applicant for unpaid debts and other financial burdens that exist outside of their monthly income. While you may decide not to rely on the score itself, you will need to review the report for information that will be pertinent to you as a property owner such as unpaid utility bills, evictions filed against your applicant, and bankruptcies. The leading cause of bankruptcies in America is medical debt, with two-thirds of all bankruptcies filed due to the high cost of healthcare. Being informed of where exactly your applicants stand financially will help you make the best decision in your process.
Failure to provide accurate or complete information on the application form.
As previously discussed, online applications open the door to increased fraudulent activity. If at any point in the process you determine that documents, contacts, or any other information is fraudulent, you can deny based on this alone. If you can’t count on an application being accurate, then you can’t use it to qualify a tenant!
Keep in mind (as always!) that these qualifying criteria standards must fall within the guidelines of the Fair Housing Act. Meaning also that they must be applied to every applicant, every time, no matter what! Standardization not only makes for effective processing, it also protects you in the event that an applicant assumes that they have been unfairly disqualified for your property.
Adding another buffer between you and the applicants is also recommended! You can do this by hiring a qualified and experienced Property Manager who will screen applicants on your behalf. Frontline Property Management has a team of Property Managers as well as a department dedicated to processing applications. Our Tenant Coordinators work every day to handle incoming applications and find you the best tenant for your property!
Contact us today to learn more about how Frontline Property Management manages thousands of doors in Dallas / Fort Worth and surrounding area, and how you can turn your property into truly passive income!
Do you have a property that you need help with? Just fill out this form and we will reach out to you!
Speed vs Accuracy: Efficiently Finding Quality Tenants
The Dallas-Fort Worth rental market is one of many (and one of the most) competitive rental markets in the nation. Due to the upward-trending boom in Millennial and Gen Z populations, as well as the unexpected conditions of the pandemic and the Texas freeze – there is a crunch for renters applying to properties. You may have felt the crush of applications and with it, the anxiety of meeting such an increased demand. While it is better to have more options rather than fewer when it comes to applicants, as paperwork piles up you may find yourself rushing to approve someone for the sake of having it done.
Not so fast.
You want to find a tenant who meets the standards you hold for the property. While you are not holding out for the best possible tenant in existence, you do want a tenant who absolutely qualifies. With the increase in document fraud and online scams, reviewing your potential tenants with a fine-tooth comb is necessary. But how are you able to do so when you have multiple applications on one property? When you are processing them all yourself while also receiving calls and emails and texts from agents, interested parties and applicants following up on their applications? Here are tips on how to be efficient, effective and most importantly, accurate in reviewing your applications:
Use an Application Portal
In a competitive market, applicants have zero time to waste. As properties are being snapped up, they need to be able to apply as quickly as possible. That means not having to trek to your office to pick up an application.
An application portal guides applicants through the process intuitively. Portals that require a registration will help you better track your applications to easily parse the completed apps from those in progress.
State Qualifying Criteria Up Front
It is your legal obligation to require that every applicant review the qualifications for the property that you manage. This includes the income requirement, your policy on the credit history and criminal background check, pet policies (including breed restrictions) – absolutely everything that needs to be considered before submitting an application. Eliminating the most obviously disqualified applicants before they apply is sure to lighten your workload and save both you and the applicant some disappointment.
Charge an Application Fee
If you want everyone to participate in a program, you make it free. When you want to restrict participation to interested parties who can pay, you charge an admission fee. It’s also true of applications. Processing applications costs time, and running screenings for applications costs money, which justifies charging an application fee.
You may, however, consider a reasonable compromise for your applicants: If you don’t process their application, don’t process their payment. If you have spent no time on an application and did not run a screening, then the applicant paid only for the privilege of being on a waiting list. This can leave a bad impression with applicants who would otherwise try to rent with you at a later time, or if your accepted tenant falls through. Renting housing is a business, which means that customer service is something to consider. You are not legally required to refund application fees at all in Texas, as application fees are considered nonrefundable so long as the law is followed.
Process Applications on a First-Come, First Served Basis
Utilizing an application portal makes it easier to pin down when exactly an application is submitted. Prioritizing applications on a first-come, first served basis is the easiest way to stay compliant with the Fair Housing laws, eliminating the opportunity for any bias to come into play when reviewing multiple applications. You simply take whoever is first, and work that application.
There is a big however – just because an application is submitted first does not mean that the application will remain in first place. When reviewing multiple applications, if your first application is missing documents or information, move on to the next completed application in line while they get back to you. An application can fall from first place to second in line, and so on and so forth as more applications provide everything that is required. Keep the lines of communication open so that your applicant can have the opportunity to provide the materials, but by no means should you lose out on the next potential applicant waiting on the first. Remember, these applicants are moving very quickly in this market, so while you may have multiple applications, don’t mistake any as a guarantee. Many applicants are inquiring into several different properties at once. There is simply no time to waste. Communicate quickly about missing information and move on.
Once you have the broad strokes of receiving applications down, you’ll find it easier to work through your application list in an orderly, systematic manner. Creating a Standard Operating Procedure in this way will help you be consistent and organized in the face of waves of applications. Knowing when to move on, who is immediately disqualified, and where to narrow your focus will help you find the right tenant in the right time.
If this sounds like a job in and of itself – you’re right! Frontline Property Management has a department that is dedicated to processing applications for our clients! Our Tenant Coordinators work daily to communicate with potential tenants, review documentation, run screening reports and comb through the details so that our Property Managers have all the facts when reviewing the results.
Contact us today if you’d like to leave the application process to the professionals and start enjoying your investment as a truly passive income!
Have a property that you need help with? Just fill out this form and we will reach out to you!
Application Process: Fraudulent Digital Documents (And How to Spot Them)
We’ve previously given tips on the application process as well as how to manage a property from out of state (or from any distance from the actual property). However, as time marches on in the digital world, we face new challenges.
A feature of processing applications in the age of remote work and distance is the upsurge in falsified documents. Unfortunately, as it’s never been easier to conduct the entire application process online, it’s equally as convenient for applicants to create mock-up documents. Here are a few ways to help sharpen your eye when processing your online applications!
Processing documents whether online or in person will require a base knowledge of document types. Fraudulent documents are sometimes easier to identify in person due to the physical integrity of the documents, such as the particular lamination of a Driver’s License / State ID or the specific texture of banknote paper that Social Security Cards are made of. Being able to see and touch a document is handy, but online you will need to be familiar with the built-in security features that these documents have.
Texas Driver’s Licenses have changed multiple times, and the Under-21 IDs have a different orientation. Of course, you will have out-of-state applicants, so it will be handy to look up that state’s identification security features.
Social Security Cards have a history of carefully documented styles, which you will need to reference in relation to the date the card was issued. Other features make it difficult to forge, the noticeable of which are the font, print style and official seal.
Payroll statements are the most varied document that you will receive as a landlord. There is no standardized payroll sheet, and with the emergence of the gig economy, you’ll be looking at many more screenshots of direct payments than the traditional payroll. Being aware of different payment methods and payment processes will help you parse out the real from the fake.
A great deal of fraudulent documents can be discovered with a brief review. Fraudulent applicants make common mistakes and spelling errors. On a proper document, all of the information will be consistent, and everything will be spelled correctly. Street names will be properly capitalized and business will have the correct designation (LLC, Corp, et al). Obvious photoshop or image manipulation will be easily identifiable in the signature line and in photos. ID photos are produced on a very consistent basis to help with this, and should not appear to be edited and should be consistent with the security features of the given ID.
Simply proofreading the submitted documents can flag a document as potentially fraudulent.
Reverse Image Search
Those who create fraudulent documents aren’t usually masters of the craft. There are thousands of templates online, not so that there are options to commit fraud, but because we live in an age of entrepreneurship and there has to be a system of payment for small business. Unfortunately, this does leave the door wide open for people to create a false payment record for themselves. And because you’re a landlord and not the IRS, you have very little to compare it to! Luckily, there’s a handy tool in Google Reverse Image search. Rather than scrolling through pages and pages of online payroll templates, you can upload the image and find it much more easily. (We do live in the future, after all!). Of course, these templates are made to be used, so just because a template matches doesn’t mean it’s fraudulent. Using your proofreading will come into play here: often, the fraudulent document will use the exact same check and batch numbers as the template, which is incorrect for a proper business to do.
The easiest and most important step to implement into your application process is to follow up on the application. As part of the process, you should have a release form that is signed by your applicant. This authorizes you to request both rental and employment information from the appropriate parties. With minimum investigative work, you should be able to find a contact number for a company or previous residence. You do not have to rely on the contact information provided by the applicant, and it best not to. Independent verification of the applicant’s information is critical to the application process – it’s the whole point!
For every application you should be contacting the previous residence yourself and following up with the current employer to confirm current employment information. They are under no obligation to release the information to you, but it is both a matter of fairness and due diligence that you follow up on every application.
If this sounds like a lot of work, it’s because it is! Finding a Property Manager who is effective not only at getting applications for your property, but also properly vetting them is key to finding a qualified tenant as soon as possible.
Reach out to Frontline Property Management today to explore the possibilities of never having to run your own applications again!
Do you have a property that you need help with? Just fill out this form and we will reach out to you!