Property Management Blog

Tax Time Documents for Landlords

Web Admin - Thursday, November 09, 2017


Get a head start on tax time by beginning to gather these documents now. You’ll be able to file faster, receive any refund quicker, and generally be able to make what can be a complex process a whole lot easier for you and your tax accountant. It can be difficult to remember all the docs you need, so here’s a reminder list of things you’ll need for your tax returns as a landlord:

Expense Receipts

Most, if not all, of your expenses as a landlord will be tax deductible, so you’ll want to gather your receipts for such things as:
  • Rental items like steam cleaners, power washers, etc.
  • Services rendered, including property management services, lawn care, roof repair, electrical and plumbing repairs and maintenance.
  • Marketing and advertising expenses; such as having property descriptions written up, photography costs, online ads, and print media advertising costs.

Permit Records

If you’ve ever applied for and received permits for fences, outbuildings, additions, or anything else on your rental property, make sure you retain all those records for legal reasons as well as for the deduction on permit application fees.

Leases and Addendums

These agreements won’t be submitted with your tax return, but they will be helpful for your tax accountant to review in order to confirm the rent owed and paid over the course of a year, as well as any charges like overdraft fees or late rent penalties.

Property Purchase Documents

Your tax accountant firm can better help you in getting the maximum for property ownership if you provide them with your purchase documents, including mortgage agreements.

Proof of Security Deposits

You may have to show proof that any security deposit you’ve collected has been deposited into an interest-bearing account on behalf of your tenant.

Bank Statements

Bank statements help your tax account cross-reference that the amount of rent on the property coincides with your rental income on your bank statement.

Company Legal Documents

If you’ve formed any kind of legal entity to hold your real estate investment property, you’ll want to submit those papers so your tax accountant can file your taxes accordingly.

Hiring the services of Walker Real Estate for your property management needs makes it very easy for landlords to file correctly at the end of the year. Contact us at 573-415-8111 to find out more about how convenient we make it for property owners.


4 Unique Decorating Features to Attract Top Tenants

Web Admin - Wednesday, October 25, 2017

You can attract the kind of top tenants that will take care of your rental property, pay rent in a timely manner and notify your property manager right away when there is a problem that needs attention. Here are some ideas for unique decorating features that will appeal to those who appreciate quality and fine craftsmanship.

1. Automatic Sensor Faucet

If you need to replace the faucet anyway, consider upgrading to an automatic sensor faucet. This technologically advanced faucet will take your kitchen décor up a notch. It also makes it easier for tenants to keep the sink area clean.

2. Pendant Lighting

It’s a simple matter to install pendant lighting instead of recessed lights in the soffit or ceiling over a kitchen breakfast counter. Pendant lighting offers style, grace and the kind of upscale atmosphere that quality tenants will immediately be drawn to.

3. Built-In Shelves

Even if you have only constructed a 24 x 12 built-in shelving area in the rental property, prospective tenants will walk away remembering that the house offers this desirable but scarce feature. Your carpenter can build modest built-in shelves fairly easily in between studs in the wall in the course of a day or two. It needn’t be an expensive addition. Wooden shelves and surrounding molding can be painted or varnished at very little cost.

4. Arbor

A vinyl or wooden arbor installed at the front or back door, or as an entryway toward the backyard makes a stunning and unique decorating feature that quality tenants will gravitate toward. This simple addition can be installed without professional help in an hour or so. Yet, it makes a memorable and charming addition to any rental property. You don’t even need to wind vines through the arbor. Your prospective tenants will do that for you.

These small little features can help to make your rental property stand out in such a way that you will have your pick of the best tenants. For assistance in interviewing and vetting prospective tenants for your rental property, please don’t hesitate to contact us today at 573-415-8111. We’re always here when you need us!


Tips for Finding the Perfect Home

Web Admin - Monday, October 16, 2017

Here at Walker Rentals, we are happy to help people from all over find homes for rent in Waynesville, Ft. Leonard Wood, St. Robert, and the surrounding areas. Missouri is a beautiful state, and this is a beautiful area. There are plenty of lovely homes to choose from, and we can help you in your decision. Feel free to give us a call for more information, but in the meantime here are some tips for finding the perfect home.

Budgeting Comes First

The last thing anybody wants to have to deal with is to have more money coming out in bills than they have coming in. Since your home (either renting or owning) is most likely one of the biggest purchases you will make in your life, it is an effective place to budget to ensure you're financially comfortable. That doesn't mean you have to give up everything by any means, just that you need to be very clear about where you can comfortably cap your spending, and what you will have to give up if you don't.

Rank Features You Want

Once you have a budget set, it is time to get into the nitty gritty of what you want in a house. Of course, rarely does anyone find a home with everything they want. However, thinking about which features are most important ahead of time can help ensure you get the most possible features you want out of a house. 

Consider Location

Besides hugely affecting the price of a home, location also largely determines what living in a home will be like. You want to know what you want out of a location before hand, so that you can use that information when budgeting and accounting for must have features. 

Know a Home's Value

For both renting and buying, it can be a great help to know a home's value. This helps tell you whether you are getting a fair price for the area. It requires a little research before hand (you can likely find local housing rates at your municipality building), but will give you valuable information to make your decision.

Inspect the Home

As we mentioned earlier, signing in to a rental agreement is no small step. You want to make sure that all the features and appliances in the home work as intended, as well as ensure the structural integrity of the home (you are paying for it, after all). Since most people aren't architects or construction workers, it is best to hire an appraisal to inspect your home for you. 

We hope these tips help you in your search. If you are looking for homes for rent in Waynesville, Fort Leonard Wood, or St. Robert areas, then give the professionals at Walker Rentals a call today. We have access to plenty of beautiful homes for you to choose from. If you have any questions about our services, please do not hesitate to give us a call. One of our friendly and knowledgeable representatives will be happy to provide any answers that you may need.

Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) FAQ

Web Admin - Monday, October 16, 2017

Here at Walker Rentals, we are proud whenever we get the chance to help an active duty military member find a home that suits their needs. Our military puts their lives on the line to defend our country, and the Basic Allowance for Housing assists them to make the rest of their lives just a little bit easier. But many people aren't completely aware of what the BAH is, and how it benefits military personnel. For those of you who are trying to wrap your heads around the program, here are some frequently asked questions that we have answered for your convenience.

Who qualifies for BAH?

Depending on a military member's rank, station's zip code, and dependency status, they will receive a variable Basic Allowance for Housing amount if they are assigned to a permanent duty anywhere inside the 50 United States (assuming they aren't furnished with Government housing). For military members stationed overseas, there is an Overseas Housing Allowance.

Have there been any recent changes to BAH?

Yes, in 2015 the Fiscal Year 2015 National Defense Authorization Act reintroduced a cost sharing element to BAH in the form of an out of pocket expense for members. This out of pocket cost cannot exceed one percent of the national average for housing costs. Additionally, since the same year, the cost of renter's insurance is no longer included when determining Basic Allowance for Housing.

Will I be affected by the out of pocket amount?

Depending on the cost of your home in relation to the local average, you could end up paying an out of pocket cost on your home. Generally, a  home right around the local median would only require a slight out of pocket cost, while homes above the median would have that cost increase. Members who choose homes below that national median may likely pay nothing in out of pocket costs.

Am I protected by housing price changes?

Military members are protected by rate protection both from changes in the housing market as well as changes in BAH policy. This is to ensure that members who commit to long term contracts are not penalized for their decisions. Rate protection applies as long as members do not interrupt their eligibility.

Can rate protection be lost?

Rate protection can be dropped for one of three reasons if the posted allowance for your location and grade are less than what you are currently getting.

  • After a permanent change of station (PCS), your BAH will change to reflect the housing prices in the new location.
  • If you receive a demotion, your BAH will revert to the rates of your new rank.
  • If your dependency status changes (adding or losing dependents), your BAH will change to reflect it.

Hopefully we have helped answer any BAH questions you may have. If you are looking for homes for rent in the Waynesville, St. Robert, or Ft. Leonard Wood areas, Walker Rentals can help. Feel free to give us a call for more information on the properties available in your area.

How to Attract Quality Tenants

Web Admin - Wednesday, October 11, 2017

As a property owner, it’s beneficial to attract quality tenants. Quality tenants are more likely to consistently pay rent on time, take care of the property, and to alert you or your property management team if some issue needs to be addressed. But how do you find good tenants that meet all your criteria? Here are some ways to attract top-quality tenants.

1. Create a Tenant Persona


What would your ideal tenant be like? Create a list of the qualities of your perfect tenant, such as a stable job, family-centered, or animal lover. Putting this in writing helps make it clear in your own mind. When you share the tenant persona with your property management team it also helps them find quality tenants for you.

2. Write a Carefully Worded Advertisement


Your property advertisement can send a powerful message to attract quality tenants. This is where you can really home in on the things you’re looking for in a tenant. For example, if you want a family to move in, emphasize the good schools nearby and the playground around the corner. If you’re seeking a young single professional, mention the short commute to the city center, or the subway station just around the corner.

3. Make Your Property Worth It


Quality tenants are more discriminating about the properties they rent. Make sure that your property is worth it in their eyes by taking extra steps to make it attractive. Consider investing in fixture upgrades or landscaping. At the very least, the property should be clean and not in need of any repairs.

4. Take Lots of Pictures


Nowadays, tenants shop for rentals online. Make sure that your property is represented nicely with plenty of high-quality photos. If there are special details, be sure to highlight them with close-up shots. Don’t forget to take pictures of special amenities like sidewalks, a fenced backyard, the nearby public swimming pool, and the local museums and library. The better you show off your property, the higher quality tenants you’ll attract.

5. Manage Your Online Reputation


Online reviews on property rentals are increasingly common. Work with your property management company to ensure that your tenants have a positive experience. When the contract ends, ask tenants if they’ll write a nice online review for your property. Future tenants will see from the reviews that your property is of the best quality.


Attracting quality tenants isn’t hard once you take these simple steps. For help getting new tenants or taking care of your existing tenants, please call us today at 573-415-8111.


Dos and Don'ts For Rental Property Remodels

Web Admin - Friday, October 06, 2017

Here at Walker Rentals, we offer property management services in the Waynesville, Fort Leonard Wood, and St. Robert areas. In our years of helping people manage their properties, we have learned a thing or two about what attracts great tenants. One way is by performing minor remodeling on your rental property. But don't jump into hasty decisions, you will want to be sure of your choices first. Here are some minor remodeling dos and don'ts to help your property stay filled.

DOs

These features are likely to help you attract a prospective tenant.

Use White Paint

Unless you are going for a more expensive color option, white paint will cost you the same as both cream or beige (two affordable options). The vast majority of people prefer a white backdrop over cream or beige, so going white will cast the widest net to attract new tenants.

Go With Tile

"Wow, that is some exceptional looking linoleum!" said no one ever.  While tile is a little more expensive, it isn't prohibitively so. It is well worth the investment for the longer lasting, and better looking material.

Shower Heads/Faucets

A full bathroom remodel is an expensive endeavor. If you know exactly what you want, and have the funds, it can significantly raise the value and attractiveness of your property. However, if that is not an option, replacing shower heads and faucets is an affordable second.  Not only can you improve the functionality of your bathroom (and maybe get that water pressure just right), but it will give it a slightly cleaner and fresher look as well.

Dark Grout

Rental properties will likely have different tenants living in them at some point, and even the best housekeeper can't keep white grout looking pristine for long. Opting for black means that you won't have to deal with that faded, aged look.

DON'Ts

These features MAY dissuade a tenant from renting your property, based on industry trends.

Carpeting

When possible, opt for hardwood floors, or some other material. It is far from a deal breaker for everyone, but carpets are easily destroyed, and too many repairs will make them more costly than other options. Plus, there is just never any guarantee that a tenant will take care of them.

Ceiling Fans

This one is actually pretty controversial. Ceiling fans are a great way to save on energy costs and keep a building cool, but they also detract from aesthetics. A good middle ground option is to put that renovation on the back burner, then wait until you have tenants lined up, and ask them yourself what they prefer.

Skimp on the Paint Job

At first glance, even an inexperienced first time painter can make a paint job look good. However, savvy tenants will likely take more than a first look, and if the quality of the paint job is bad, they will likely move on. If you are doing it yourself, make sure to do your due diligence. Otherwise, it may be a good idea to outsource.

 

Minor remodels are a great way to attract more tenants fast. Stay tuned for our next blog, where we go over some major remodeling tips for rental property owners. If you are looking for a property management company in Waynesville, St. Robert, or Fort Leonard Wood areas, give us a call for more information on how we can help you.

Tips for Hiring a Property Management Company

Web Admin - Friday, October 06, 2017
Here at Walker Rentals, we are proud to offer our property management services in the Fort Leonard Wood, St. Robert, and Waynesville areas. If you are considering property management for your property, you could stand to gain a lot of free time and peace of mind, while still keeping your property profitable. The only thing you need to do is find a property management company that works for you. Here, we thought we would list some tips to help you along in your search.

Determine Their Workload

One of the first things that you should ask a property management company is how many units they are measuring. You want to be sure that they have the time and manpower to devote to managing your property. However, the number of units that a company oversees doesn't tell you enough, you also need to know how many people they have working on them. In general, an experienced property manager can successfully manage up to about 40 units. If the company you are interviewing has a ratio of property managers to units below 1/40, then you may want to consider searching out other options.

Get a Work Outline

For property managers to effectively take care of your properties, they need access to those properties routinely. Make sure to discuss with any prospective managers what their commitment will look like: how often will they conduct regular maintenance and inspections? If they balk at this question, or start talking about fee increases, it very well may be a red flag. Be leery of property managers that don't include regular property management services in their normal package.

Trust First Impressions

Everybody fumbles with an introduction every once in a while, but if your prospective property manager is constantly cutting you off, finishing your sentences, or obviously trying to steer the conversation away from topic, then that is likely the way you'll be treated after you hire them as well. Open dialogue can be very important for property management, so trust your gut when sizing them up.

Understand Costs

The average that property managers charge nationally is somewhere between eight and eleven percent. When discussing your services, make sure you understand what their charge is based on; occasionally you will find a manager that will charge based on the rent that MIGHT be collected, rather than what is, leaving you to pick up the bill if they fail to fill your vacancies.

Establish Maintenance Payments

Your property manager will eventually need to perform maintenance and repairs, which will come out of your rent. Expect them to ask for a certain limit to be used at their discretion (without having to ask your permission). We recommend setting that amount at $250-$300, but you will know what amount works best for you. Also be aware that most managers charge a 10% fee on these invoices.


Hopefully these tips help you in your search. If you're looking for a property management company serving the Fort Leonard Wood, Waynesville, and Saint Robert areas, then we would like to prove our worth to you! Give us a call about how we can manage your property for you, leaving you with some much deserved free time, peace of mind, and a solid flow of profits.

Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) Overview

Web Admin - Thursday, September 28, 2017

Here at Walker Rentals, we are proud to have helped active and retired military personnel find a comfortable house to make their home. Active duty military are able to take advantage of a government funded program called Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH). If you are unclear about what Basic Allowance for Housing is, or whether yourself or a loved one in the active military qualify, you aren’t alone. While a common misconception is that BAH is supposed to completely cover home expenses, in actuality it is meant as a supplement*.


How It Works

The United States assists with housing for active duty military personnel based on pay grade, dependency status, and geographic duty location*. It uses the rental cost of housing in a given area as a metric for reimbursement*. It also takes into account things like utility rates in the area, along with a host of other metrics*.

Do You Qualify?

You can check to see what BAH rates you qualify for in Missouri by visiting this site and scrolling to your city. There, you’ll find a list of ranks; find yours, and you’ll be given your BAH allowance with and without dependents. You can also use this handy BAH calculator here.

Can I Rely On My BAH?

BAH comes with individual rate protection, a policy that protects military personnel from having their BAH lowered due to out of pocket expenses, declining rent prices, or any combination of the two as long as the status of the active duty personnel hasn’t*. This prevents service members from being penalized for expenses out of their control when they have committed to a lease or contract*.

Why Aren’t All My Costs Covered?

The idea that BAH was supposed to cover all of an active duty member’s housing was always a misconception. Even the original BAH law specified that no more than 80 percent of housing would be covered*. Nowadays, many service members do have the entire cost of their housing covered, but that is due to them buying below the average renter’s price in the area*. Whether or not an individual has all their housing expenses covered varies depending on the prices of rent and utilities in the area (and a host of other factors), as well as the cost of the home they purchase*.


Here at Walker Rentals, we are proud to help those serving our country find a home they can love. If you have any questions about how we can help you find your dream home, please do not hesitate to give us a call. One of our friendly and knowledgeable representatives will be happy to provide any answers that you may need.

 

Soure: http://www.defensetravel.dod.mil/site/bah.cfm *

Six Signs of a Good Tenant

Web Admin - Thursday, September 28, 2017


Property ownership is a dream come true., especially when you have a great tenant. When you consider that it costs money to have a property sitting empty, it’s worth it to contract with a good tenant as soon as you can. But how do you recognize a good tenant when you find one?

1. A Long History of Stable Employment

When reviewing the employment history of an applicant, consider all their history – not just the most recent. If their past jobs demonstrate the same stability as their current job, that’s a great sign of a tenant that plans to stay a long time.

2. A Fast Response Time

During the application process, monitor how quickly the applicant responds to your calls and emails. A fast response time often shows that the person is organized and efficient, which bodes well for their overall lifestyle.

3. Makes Good Eye Contact

An applicant who makes the effort to establish and maintain eye contact during the interview is generally showing signs of being trustworthy and honest, which are great qualities to have in a tenant.

4. Well-Groomed

There are all kinds of hairstyles and apparel, but cleanliness and being well groomed are things that can be applied to any style. If your applicant looks like they care about their appearance and clothing, chances are that they will take the same kind of care of your property.

5. Free of Drama

Did the applicant show up late to the appointment, appear frazzled and distressed? Do they immediately start out with some long-winded story about the traffic, the directions or problems getting off work to meet you? This kind of drama isn’t something you want to see in a good tenant. Instead, look for a tenant that handles life’s small inconveniences with grace and poise.

6. Mature Demeanor

Maturity has less to do with age and more to do with knowing there’s a time and place for everything. When you find an applicant that handles themselves and the situation with the seriousness that the situation calls for, that’s a good sign of maturity. Remember, mature people, tend to pay their bills on time and take responsibility for things when necessary.

Property management companies understand what qualities make a good tenant. That’s why it’s worth it to hire a property manager when you have a property you want to rent out. To get started, please call us today at 573-415-8111.

5 Ways a Property Management Team Helps Protect Landlords

Web Admin - Thursday, September 14, 2017

Property manager services provide numerous benefits to landlords. If you’re the landlord of an apartment, single home or duplex, here are just some of the many ways that a property management team helps protect landlords.

1. Tenant Screening Services

Tenant screenings help to protect property owners by avoiding undesirable tenants from renting property. Through tenant screenings, landlords can avoid leasing to tenants that may have a history of run-ins with the law, property damage or evictions. Although everyone deserves a second chance, tenant screenings help landlords set standards for tenancy according to individual preferences.

2. Pricing Assessment Services

The rental market can be difficult to judge if you’re a landlord. Rental rates rise and fall in ways that are challenging to keep up with. Property management teams help protect landlords from losing out on potential leasing rates increases by performing regular rental market analysis reports. These reports give property owners a snapshot view of the market situation, allowing them to take full advantage of profitability margins.

3. Law Abidance Counseling


Every city and town have its own regulations regarding rentals, and they can often be quite complex. Landlords can be held liable for fines and other penalties if they are not compliant with these laws. Property management teams help protect landlords by keeping up with local rental regulations and facilitating compliance with these laws.

4. Property Upkeep and Maintenance

Depending on the circumstances, landlords can be held responsible for injuries occurring on the property they rent. If the injury can be proven to be the result of neglect of the property, there could be fines and penalties. Property upkeep can be particularly difficult for long-distance landlords to oversee. However, with the assistance of a property management team, all property maintenance issues can be resolved in a timely manner, including paver repair, grass cutting, plumbing problems, electrical issues and more. And with a property management team on the job, all work will be performed by certified and qualified tradesmen when necessary.

5. General Supervision

No one looks after your property like a property management team. These services can include general supervision, where a team member performs periodic, distance “well checks” on the property to ensure that all is well. A simple drive past the property on an occasional basis can be enough to satisfy landlords that their property is doing fine.

Your property investment is just as important to the property management team as it is to you. Why not take advantage of these services by calling us today at 573-415-8111?