Jan 19 2017

Ways to avoid turnover in a rental business

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If you are a landlord, then you know that turnover is an expensive issue, one which should be avoided as much as possible.  Of course, renters come and go over time, but there are ways you can minimize the risk or frequency of it happening.  Below are ways to avoid turnover in your rental business.

Keep in Touch With Your Tenants

One of the best ways to prevent turnover is to keep in touch with your tenants.  Just like a good manager at a restaurant, a good landlord will check in with tenants to make sure they are enjoying their time and if they need assistance with anything.  When was the last time you went to a restaurant and the restaurant manager stopped by?  You may remember him or her wanting to know if you loved the food, the wine, and perhaps you need more napkins.  They see what you need before you need it, and offer their help.  

Likewise, a landlord should send a short and sweet email every so often to make sure they are happy.  Not all tenants will be outspoken about what they need.  On the other hand, it is possible that your tenant has a small list of things they need fixed or complaints about the neighbors, but they have never made the time to bring it up to you.  Make sure you let them know that you are available if they need assistance.  Your hospitality will keep them happy and make an impression that you care about their well-being.  You never know—your involvement can be the difference between them leaving or staying when the lease ends.

Keep up with Maintenance

If you are aware of any maintenance issues, be prompt about fixing them.  Be aware of any preexisting conditions of your rental that may need frequent inspection, and let your tenants know if you need to check on the state of that condition.  Be sure that your tenant is aware if this is a reality of the property, and allow them ample notice when you need to stop by.  

In addition, if your tenant notifies you of a broken fixture or appliance, make sure you repair it quickly.  It may be wise to have a network of plumbers, carpet cleaners, installers, and repair people available so that you can take care of these issues immediately.  Alternatively, you may be able to make repairs yourself.  If this is the case, you still need to be timely and invest appropriately so that your tenants know you care about their experience.

Update Amenities

Near the end of the lease, you may want to update an amenity such as windows.  Tell this to your tenants and they may be encouraged to stay.  Some tenants are always looking for the next best thing at the end of their leases, so it is best to let them know that you are always trying to improve the grounds, even in a small way.  Depending on the upgrade or renovation you are proposing, you may also have the opportunity to raise the rent to make up for costs.  This is something to consider when researching rent price and updating as needed to make your rental competitive.

Ask Questions to Potential Candidates

Before the candidates even move in, you should ask them questions when they visit the property for a showing.  If they are serious about applying, that may be the perfect time to get to know their future intentions before they turn in their papers.  Find out why they are moving and how quickly they want to move in.  Chances are that if they are looking to move quickly, they may have run into trouble.  It is possible they were evicted or that they foreclosed on a home.  

While this is not always grounds to reject a tenant, it is something to consider when looking for a long-term tenant.  While there are no guarantees, you will get a sense as to the reliability of your tenants fulfilling the lease.  Be confident in your decision after you run a credit check, check their criminal history, and any indication of eviction.  

Keeping tenants is easy with these simple rules. When you have a great tenant, make sure they stay by offering competitive rent prices, providing great service, and making your property enticing.


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Jan 10 2017

Adding 2 more cards to our arsenal (and why I paid $450 for a credit card)

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My new cards: Starwood American Express and Chase Freedom

My husband’s new card: Chase Sapphire Reserve

I have nearly completed the minimum spend required to hit my 30,000 SPG bonus for my AmEx SPG card, and last week I shifted our focus to a new travel card for my husband.

Previously, for his work travel, he used the Chase Southwest Visa which offers bonus points on SW flights, and hotel & car rental partners. It is a decent card and has no foreign transaction fees, so that was the card we used in Canada. It will probably be time to dump the card before the annual fee hits this summer, in favor of his new card.

Chase Sapphire Reserve

Chase is offering an amazing 100,000 Ultimate Rewards sign-up bonus for its new card, the Chase Sapphire Reserve. It’s a card perfect for frequent or even occasional business travelers. You’d have to do the math if it is worth it for your situation. The sign-up bonus period is ending on January 11, so getting this card in his wallet was a big priority.

The annual fee is nuts: $450! Not waived in the first year! However, the perks will pay for the card and more:

  • $300 annual travel reimbursement. This has a broad definition, and we will easily get it. Bonus — as long as he has at least $300 in reimburseable travel expenses for work, that will essentially be paid by the card AND work. Drops the annual fee to $150, in essence.
  • $85 reimbursement for TSA Pre-Check. My husband already has this, so I’ll have him go with me to use his card so that I can also have pre-check. Our kids are all young enough that they can go with us in the pre-check line. I could opt for Global Entry instead, but I don’t know that we will utilize that. The credit card reimbursement for this is only once every 5 years, but this year it effectively reduces the annual fee to $65. Not so crazy now, right?
  • All Ultimate Rewards points are worth an extra 1.5x in the Ultimate Rewards portal. So, the 100,000 points bonus is worth $1,000 if redeemed for cash, but $1,500 in value in the portal. I can also transfer the points 1:1 to a variety of partners and potentially get even more value out of it. I see some great possibilities when transferring points to Southwest or Hyatt.
  • The card has some other perks: purchase protection, auto rental coverage, roadside assistance, trip cancellation/interruption insurance, etc. Certain airport lounge access. Discounts on rental cars from certain agencies.

You will have to do your own analysis, but for our spending patterns, this card will be worth keeping for the foreseeable future. For spending bonus, the card nets 3x points for every dollar spent on travel or on dining. Everything else is 1x. In the Ultimate Rewards portal, that is 4.5% back on travel and 1.5% on everything else (3*1.5; and 1*1.5).

Exploring the tremendous value of Chase Freedom

The bonus category this quarter is at gas station and certain transit. We don’t spend that much on gas, but I was able to buy a year’s worth of Netflix gift cards at a gas station and that counts.

To sweeten our bank of Ultimate Rewards, I went for the Chase Freedom card for myself. The sign-up bonus is only 15,000 points when you spend $500 in 3 months. Previously, the card just didn’t excite me, but that’s because I didn’t understand the potential value for this no-fee card.

15,000 is $150 back, or if you or your spouse has the Sapphire Reserve, that has a value of $150*1.5, or $225. Further, if you maximize the bonus categories each quarter, that boosts the 5% bonus earn to 7.5% on category spending. I won’t be able to hit it each quarter, but every bit is a huge boost. Non-bonus spending is 1%. If you maximized the $1,500 spend in bonus categories each quarter, you’d have 30,000 points and spend only $6,000. Follow my math here for the next point:

The Chase Freedom card bonus categories can have huge value when transferring to partners (which you can only do if you also have a premium UR card). For example, 30,000 points transferred to Southwest could get me 5 round-trip fares from Indianapolis to D.C. The cash rate would have been $120 each, or $600 total.

$600/30,000 points = $0.02 per point, HOWEVER, if these 30k points were earned by bonus spend on the Chase Freedom, that is in essence $600 benefit/$6,000 in spending, which is $0.10 per point. Nice!

Hyatt is a good transfer partner, especially for high cash-rate stays with relatively low point value redemptions. Example from DC:

A Hyatt could be had for 6,000 points per night +$75. The cash value of that particular stay would have been $1,414. If I subtract out the $375 cash needed for 5 nights, that leaves me with:

$1039/30,000 points which is $0.034 per point, but again if I earned those 30k points on Freedom bonus spend, that is $1039/$6000 = $0.173 per point.

Spend $6k in a year, get 5 nights at a nice hotel in a big city? Or, spend $6k, fly my family round-trip somewhere? OK! Comparing $6,000 in spend on my PNC Visa at 1.75% back, that is only $105. Compare $6,000 in spend redeemed for cash at 1% on the Freedom, and that is a mere $60.

The point rate will vary depending on location. If a cash rate is cheap enough, it might be worth it to just pay out of pocket, earn loyalty and credit card points for your stay, and bank them up for a more expensive trip.

Bottom line, Chase Freedom is absolutely a card worth having and keeping long-term.

After we hit the minimum spends on those cards and let some time elapse, I want to get the Chase Freedom Unlimited card. It is also a no-fee card and has 1.5% on all categories. This would be the go-to card for non-bonus spending. With 1.5*1.5, it is 2.25% back if redeemed in Chase Ultimate Rewards. I can also transfer those points to the Ultimate Rewards portal or to travel partners.

Before we get the Unlimited card, non-bonused spending will go on my AmEx SPG. With the Marriott/Starwood merger still playing out, it is hard to say for sure what will happen to the card or the points system. It is possible the card will go away or be grandfathered into a different card. I’m going to wait and see. In the meantime, I am calculating my earn rate at about $0.021-$0.03 depending on how I redeem those points.

The SPG points have a higher value if I were to book a cash+points redemption, but before deciding on a particular stay, it is best to do the math on paying the cash rate, full points, or cash+points.

 

 



Hey! I'm Kacie, wife and mother of 3. I write about my family's finance: how we save money, improve our spending, and plan for the future.

I hope I can inspire and encourage you to improve your situation. See disclosure.

I'm adopting a much slower-paced posting schedule, and treating this as a hobby blog now.

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