10 tips to know: buying a distressed property

Fixer upper, Rehab Addict, and other shows continue to romanticized the restoration industry, but more importantly the rental/flip market. These shows make for great television for many reasons such as the alluring before/after process, ROI (return on investments), or being your own boss. Yet our goal is not to poach your wallets or scare you off from potential opportunities, but give you some information that these shows often don’t showcase.

  1. Know the municipality codes, permits, and rules before starting the construction (Flip or Rental).

    Costs associated with permits could go as much as $3,000. There are villages and towns that have a fixed rate (3%) implemented in the overall job cost, while others have set fees per the renovation. However, some towns could and will backcharge you for renovations completed without a proper permit/building inspection (HVAC, electrical, etc.).

    • Advice: Allow your contractor to file for the permits. It’ll much be easier and you won’t have to paper chase the contractor.
  2. Avoid pools and decks

    If possible, avoid both of these property headaches. Both items will raise your homeowner’s insurance policy due to the potential risk, while also increasing the home inspector’s No.2 pencil. We strongly advise against a pool if this is a rental property due to maintenance, upkeep, and potential lawsuits pending worst case scenarios.

    • Advice: If it’s an in-ground pool, fill it in with the demo debris with items such as: deteriorated wood, drywall, and biodegradable items will help slash disposal costs.
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  3. Have a good lawyer (Especially in Illinois)

    THIS IS A MUST, if you are be venturing into the rental sector. It’s common to experience one bad apple during your landlord career. Ask any colleague whose a landlord and we assure you they’ll praise the good tenants as if they’re the second coming. The true benefit’s of a good lawyer are: timely evictions, cut future court costs, and provide sound legal advice.

    • Advice: We advise having state specific attorneys rather than using only one attorney. Due to the intricacies of rental law among states and to provide a checks/balances for yourself (more importantly your pocketbook).
  4. 1st screen the potential contractor’s 

    We recommend choosing the contractors before starting the overall restoration. There are general contractors who will seek 6 to 19 bids to get the lowest possible bid, but we don’t recommend this at all. If you’re flipping this property than you know time is not on your side. Every month of waiting for a bid equals: 1 more month of taxes, insurance, electricity, potential exposure to theft, and vandalism.

    • Advice: Review their trade license’s, insurance (is it active), and verify it with the village. Seek references from family and friends.
  5. Always over budget and add 3 months.

    For a peace of mind simply add 5% to the job cost and expect the project to be finished 3 months longer. We are aware that ROI (Return on Investment) is the reason for getting involved and this new venture is not for entertainment. However, projects can get dragged out due to weather constraints especially for exterior contractors, permitting, unexpected building finds, village inspections, home inspections, rental inspections, and more unnecessary politics.

    • Advice: It may be cost-effective to use a general contractor to manage the 1st restoration for yourself. They may already have pre-screened contractors whom are qualified and do quality work. We recommend shadowing and observing from them.
  6. Homeowners Tax Exemption (Rentals)

    This is the most common thing I’ve learned with 1st time landlord’s is they get bug-eyed after they see their taxes increase in the 2nd year. Often, it’s because the village discovers you do not live there.  If it’s not your “true” residential home and an investment property, you’ll more than likely lose the homeowners tax exemption. I agree, various communities taxes such as Park Forest, Illinois – $7,000 a year) are criminal,  but you should know this before investing. DO NOT TRUST ZILLOW OR TRULIA’S TAX RECORDS.

    • Advice: Understand the tax rate of the town especially if the intentions are renting the property. As previously mentioned with Park Forest, Illinois $7,000 a year in taxes = you’re splitting your ROI with the village.
  7. Know your goal (Rental or Flip)

    “Know your goal?” I want to make money! We mean are you renting or flipping the property? This can change the selection of products, colors, flooring, and exterior products you use. If you’re flipping the property you may install more trending products, but if you’re renting you’ll want to be cost conscience on the products to maximize your return. Also, if you’re renting a property you might get by without replacing items until you have too.

  8. Partner with a Lowes Pro, Home Depot, local building supply, or Menards credit card.

    If you can pay cash great, but you’re leaving a lot points/discounts on the table. The benefits of some of these programs: it’s easy to track receipts and previous purchases, which allow you to uncover your true cost on the restoration. Menard’s and Lowe’s often give a 5% discount on items purchased using their Pro-Cards, which can help you. Keep in mind all these building stores have a varying levels of product quality.

    • Advice: If you follow through on #10 by creating an LLC, than you can obtain a business credit card and avoid future personal credit issues.Project lao
  9. Don’t install appliances until you have too

    There’s no rush to install the appliances! We know you’ll probably be purchasing washer/dryers, stoves, refrigerators, and other premium items, but hold off. Theft is extremely high in renovation units and they’ll break in if $1,000 + of appliances is seen. Even if you have an insurance policy on the home, it’s generally not worth the claim. We know kitchens are exciting to see completed, but honestly if you want to fall within your budget and keep a sound mind, hit the brakes on the appliance installation.

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  10. Create a LLC. for the property

    If you know your goal is to rent the property then you should create a LLC. for the specific property. Consult with your chosen attorney. This is not uncommon, we know many investors that do this to eliminate potential financial risk from the tenants. A Limited Liability Company can protect your personal assets and avoid this side hustle from ruining your future.

We hope this help’s you a little. If you’re interested in venturing into the restoration industry please contact us at Total Roofing & Construction Services, Inc. or  Emerald Managment   Contact us today because there’s much more information and fact’s to be aware before purchasing property.

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It’s the millennial’s fault, part 1. (Understanding the client’s of tomorrow)

Every day you read “Trump is the downfall of America,” and 6 years earlier you heard the opposing side stating “Obama is the downfall of America,” but if you want to find common ground bring up the millennial generation.  Quite frankly, if America did a yearly poll to unite the left & right, this might be topic where the glue binds. However, we’re not trying to unite the country today nor bate either side, but merely shade light on next group of home improvers: millennial’s.

Generations Defined

First and foremost, I’d like to announce that I’m a millennial (born in 1991) and if you’re not familiar with “millennial’s,” it’s the demographic of people born between 1980 to 1995. According to researchers, the early 80’s and mid 90’s continue to remain as the generational framework. Identifying such groups has been well-documented for generations and central to our capitalistic countries sustainability. These research studies are central to the longevity of large conglomerates and they often finance these studies. These insights give evidence on many things from technology, education, preferences, and much more.

So what do we know about millennial’s and purchasing homes?

Well, if you’re a realtor you better refrain from the age discrimination, because according to National Associations of Realtors, they had the highest share of home buying activity for 5th STRAIGHT YEAR!* Some may ask, how? This generation is now 10 years removed from the great 2008 housing recession and they finally have the “MULA” (#1 Savings – most popular form of down deposit) and (#2 is a gift from relatives/family often boomer generation).

Keep in mind the combination of the 08′ recession, along with the average graduate leaving school with $27,000 of student debt are not the ideal ingredients for homeownership.  However, 10 years removed from the recession has allowed them to save adequately and pay off their debt. So, congratulations on your first-home purchase. Here’s the keys and there’s the problem’s!

The renovation trends are steadily increasing:

The good news is that these well-known basement dwellers are getting the boot from the parents, and spreading their wings in the marketplace. However, the average renovation from millennial is still significantly lower than their peers. The evidence favors a 7% increase in renovation expenditure from 2015, which is positive in a year-over-year review, but much less than their peers.

Average Renovation spend

Reason’s why millennial’s spend less on renovations:

  1. They prefer multi-family housing (townhouses, condominiums, etc.)
    • More HOA costs, less maintenance, and less interest on exterior upkeep
  2.  They favor new development’s rather than fixer uppers. First-time homeowner’s favor – one-stop shop and fewer headaches (sorry Chip & Joanna – magnolia)
  3. Saddled with debt from college & 1st post college vehicle

General contractor’s and home builder’s can give you a first-hand account of these marketplace trends especially throughout the Northwest Indiana Region. In my town alone (Dyer, Indiana), there’s been a huge demand for town houses and multi-family construction. Yes the older generation of millennial’s (80’s babies) have successfully navigated the financial hurdles to purchase their first-home, but there are MANY adult’s swimming against the current.

So, what do these individual’s do? They have to rent or continue to live with their parents. The best way to provide a visual reference is the movie “Failure to Launch” with Sarah Jessica Parker/Matthew McConaughey.

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Item’s to know as a contractor or home improvement service when working with this age group in 2018

  1. millennial are 7% more likely to pay with Credit Cards
  2. 50% of millennial’s are “hesitant” or “anxious to use a bank loan for a home improvement project (gethearth.com)
  3. 26% of millennial’s are sure they could come up with $2,000 if needed.
  4. Paying with Cash eliminates investment opportunities
  5. 57% of millennial’s feel ” nervous” or “overwhelmed” about buying a fixer upper.

This article is only part 1 of 4 throughout our 2018 blog series pertaining to this specific demographic, because there is way too much information to submit in one article. We believe being educated about your customer’s and their consumer behavior allows us to best present them with products/services.

 

Have you ever experienced a financial generational gap?

My experience:  While working at Hertz Rental Car I once asked an 86-year-old woman  for her Credit Card pertaining to the vehicle’s security deposit (standard company protocol) and I thought she was going to whack me. However, her generation “Silent” very seldomly use credit cards, and she later informed me her only credit card was in a lock box at her house.

 

Information was used from these sources:

Houzz.com, National Association of Realtors.com, Forbes.com, Money.com, and living-proof as a 26 year-old.

 

Vinyl siding or LP Smartside/James Hardie?

Each trade show and every year this same question is brought up! And honestly, it’s a tough question, which merit’s a post, and we recommend asking your go-to contractor his thoughts. If you asked 100 contractor’s you’d get a variety of responses. Regardless whether their a preferred contractor, 30+ years in construction, or your favorite handyman. However, in my experience this question can only be answered by YOU the homeowner! 

Go ahead visit the leading vinyl manufacturers websites such as: Plygem or Royal Building Products, James Hardie.com, or LP Building product’s they’ll showcase the advantages over their peers. Each site exhibit beautiful houses, trending colors, and their extensive product warranties. I’d recommend before you upload an image of your house to ask yourself “what are your intentions for your home?”

We know it’s common for homeowner’s to comprise a ” fix-it” list in March and we professionally recommend it. A proactive homeowner is great homeowner and we suggest every Spring/Fall you address an on-going issue (Mines – Air Conditioning not that you care!). It’s much easier in Spring especially when your accountant indicates you’re receiving a $5,000 tax return. Regardless of your situation or tax refund situation, ask yourself these questions:

  1. How long do you plan on living at your home?
    • The average family lives at their “home” 13 to 17 years according to the NAHB This is the most important question! Because this should alter your product consideration simply because why invest in siding when you’ll have a possible down payment?
  2. What are the “comp’s” in the area or neighbor’s house look like?
    • If the entire block is barren from James Hardie siding and the median 3 Bedroom/1 bathroom home doesn’t fluctuate much, than it’s possible there won’t be much ROI. We don’t believe your decision solely on ROI, especially if the intentions are to live their your entire life, but it’s worth the consideration. In contrast to that, many neighborhood’s will transitions after one makes the jump to a premium siding material (keeping up with the Jones – it’s real!)
  3. Do you have newer windows?
    • I’d say 50% of homeowners initially don’t consider window replacement , because they’re focused on their ugly, outdated, or bird ridden siding. Yet, the honest truth is, if those windows are over 15+ years it may be worth considering to do a 2 for 1 deal.  Why? It’s much easier to install a quality siding product such as LP & James Hardie alongside those new energy efficient windows rather than remove the “newer” siding system in 5-7 years to replace those faulty windows. It’s much easier ( and cheaper) to do it all at once.
  4. Do you know a quality contractor or trust the local contractor?
    • Again, we’re bias because we’re contractor’s, but we’re aware of the significant cost difference and investment of these material’s. LP & Hardie is more labor laden, along with their product specifications! So hiring the right contractor should save you $$$  and headaches down the road regardless if you sell or stay (even if their estimate is more expensive).
  5. What’s your project budget or expectation?
    • This is the most important question. I agree, the more expensive product’s are  better for the environment and currently have longer warranties, but will you be financially stable in the next 1 to 5 years? We’re not the door-to-door contractor that wants all customers to sign for 5 to 10 year home improvement loans. Because we understand it’s vital that you love the product, installer, color, and more importanly believe it’s the best suited system for your goal’s, which should have been clarified with the questions above. 

So, what’s the final decision? We were not going to say one over the other, because A. our manufacturer’s will get upset and B. because we don’t know your personal intentions with your home. We want to provide the best information and will surely do so if you reach out individually.  A variety of our own employees have a variation of vinyl, James Hardie, and LP Smartside, so we’d be lying as a company by saying there’s a one size fits all. 

 

Tax Season! Home Improvement Edition.

Item’s to keep in mind while filing this year’s taxes or planning 2018 tax season. 

1.Energy Efficiency such as solar

The only federal tax credits for energy efficiency improvements are for solar energy systems such as solar panels or solar water heaters. However, these do expire in 2021. Ask your installer & manufacturer regarding the necessary items to apply, because documentation is necessary for the 30% tax credit of cost .

Notes: The energy taken in must be used for your HOME! You won’t qualify if you’re installing solar panels to that fancy new hot tub. 

2.Insulation Tax Deduction
Tax Credit Amount:  10% of the cost, up to $500! The credit applies towards the cost of the material and won’t apply towards the installation/labor. The qualifying insulation is not limited towards a special brand or manufacturer. You can install blown-in, batt, spray foam, or weather stripping, however remember the manufacturer certification sheet
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3. Home sales exemption
It’s common for qualified sellers to not pay capital gains if there main residence accrued a profit of a quarter of million (single) or $500,000 big ones for those that file married jointly! Many will use this exemption by completing home renovations so they can reduce the amount of sale price being used as a profit! If you wanting to beat the IRS this might be a great way to avoid those capital gains altogether.
Remember to keep a handy accountant within a phone call or use the interwebz.
4. Do you rent out a section of your home?
Much like a home office space, you can write off the cost of repairs to your rental property and then depreciate improvements. That’s pretty basic, and cool enough. But consider that if you rent out a portion of your own home, it works like the home office deduction. You can write off the cost of “your” home repair if it’s in the rental area, and you can write off improvements for the percentage of the space used for renting.
5. Moving into that new home?
The best home improvement decision is often buying a brand new house! Whether you’re forced to move for a job or another situation, you can write off the cost the big move! Whether you’re moving into that beautiful dream house or that flipper you finished restoring.
finished-house
Other tips;
  • Consult an accountant or tax pro? Such as you’re local tax guy.
  • Do you’re own research: turbotax is a great software program.
  • Another great site: Motleyfool.com  

What’s the best % to budget for emergency maintenance?

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Recently, a lot of our client’s have asked us about planning emergency maintenance budget’s and were curious on how to better stretch their HOA dollar’s. We will gladly tackle this question, because it’s important for property manager’s, maintenance divisions, and homeowner’s. Our definition of a emergency maintenance budget:  Item’s, which typically are not a concern or an ongoing issue for an individual, organization. This budget would help you fix emergency leaking, falling siding, etc.

For Condominiums/townhouses

Checklist items to have access to:

  • Running inventory of the age of exterior products (siding, windows, roofing, etc)
  • List of recent renovations & their contractor’s (along with warranties)
  • Yearly HOA receivables & yearly vendor bills (lawn care, tree’s, garbage).

These item’s will represent what must be completed every year to maintain your complex as is and now you see the product’s that are on the “best side” of a worst to best condition list. So now your board can focus a larger  % of receivables on the “worst side” such as those $25,000 + renovation project’s. Yet, where does this leave the maintenance budget? Our rule of thumb is 5% (low-end) to 15% (high-end) should be planned for emergency repairs or an escrow account. We understand not all repairs are the responsiblity of a property management company and might be the homeowners, but this doesn’t mean the funds will be wasted. A number of management companies we know will apply any unused fund to those larger renovation project’s or leave in an escrow account in case of an insurance claim (deductible)

The problem we found with condominium’s and committee board’s is the number of individual’s involved. A lot of the “wish list” renovation’s are decided by vote from designated committee members, which does speed up renovations. However if it’s possible, we recommend gathering insight from the on-site maintenance person or previous vendor’s during your review. We don’t suggest taking their vote as part of the decision (Constitutional bylaws), but take their advice with merit. These serviceman generally know your complexes extremely well and they’ll be honest to you, because there’s always problems throughout the complex. The input of the vendors/serviceman may shift your committee’s desire to replace that wood siding instead of installing a new pond liner.

The best part of having a 5 to 15% safety net you can afford an expert or reputable companies. Often organization’s will be tight on their budget, which lead’s them to hiring the unqualified contractor for 1/2 the cost of the local vendor. We understand every governing community is different in what’s important to them, but it will never hurt you to have 5 to 15% planned yearly.

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Homeowner’s

If you’re a homeowner then consider asking your “jack of all trades” neighbor, a licensed contractor, or call a licensed home inspector. Start these discussion’s off with “what item’s do you believe are my worst to best?”

Cost of these services:

  • Neighbor – Case of beer or a favor
  • Home Inspector – A scale fee based on how many items are reviewed
  • Contractor – Cost of your time (Often Free Estimates)

 

The amount we advise budgeting for a family or property owner is 2 to 5% of the property value. This recommended number is far less than townhouse/condo complexes (5 to 15%) due to their sheer size and # of issues. It’s far more common for condominium board’s to spend $100,000 on lawn maintenance than a homeowner to spend the equivalent. In addition, homeowners are not paying HOA fees and they have complete control over the repairs/vendors. The biggest reason this 2 to 5% is key, because A LOT of insurance providers are changing their policy holders to deductibles of 1 to 3% of their property value, which puts you in the driver seat of the ultimate emergency. We advise applying the unused amount in an insurance deductible escrow account or transfer it to your next big home remodel (HVAC, roofing, windows, etc.)

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Sharpen those no. 2 pencils, it’s tax time.

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We’re neither accountants nor tax advisors, but we have been serving the construction industry for over 30+ years. A LOT of things have changed in the tax world since 1985, but we’ve heard enough feedback from our clients over the years to share with YOU the most important tax considerations. The information may be helpful or merely a refresher for you. However, we believe the more educated you are as a homeowner the better position you’ll be in to save some money. These are the top four tax items we suggest you reviewing:

  1. Mortgage Interest.

The greatest part about a home loan is the home. Face it not many of us look forward to that monthly mortgage bill. Home lenders will alway’s state “well you can’t write off the mortgage interest” and you SHOULD. There are varying policies and requirements when it comes to a refinancing loan on a cash paid property, $1 million caps, and more tax rules, so we advise you to do your homework before writing anything off.

    2. Home Improvement Loan Interest

We understand owning a home and having a family is an expensive feat within today’s economy. Maybe your finances were affected by the housing bubble, job market, or merely bad luck, it’s ok. So a lot of people utilize a Home Improvement Loan. The great news about this loan is the loan interest is tax deductible!! There’s no upper dollar limit, but the project must increase your home’s value and prolong its life. Examples: A new roof, pool, garage, porches, insulation, HVAC, landscaping, and more. We strongly advise you to reconsider increasing the square footage of your home, unless you’re prepared for possible reassessment (higher property taxes).

 

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Home Improvement loans can help you increase your home’s value!

 

 

    3. Property Taxes 

We’ve known about these since our day’s playing Monopoly. Your city or state property taxes can be deducted from income. Keep in mind that city or state property taxes refund reduces your federal deduction by a like amount.

   4. Home business

Do you run an ETSY store or EBAY shop? As long as use a portion of your home exclusively for business purposes, you may be able to recoup certain home costs. We do recommend making sure your homeowner’s insurance policy will cover your house if you do have a home business (double check). A great video showcasing this was in the movie “The Accountant” here’s the scene.

 

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Brand new Royal Building Products Siding (Schererville, Indiana)