You guys have been asking about the rental property and buying houses so I'm going to share what we've done and what we're doing as far as property matters are concerned. First, I should clarify that property in Oklahoma is just dirt cheap. Second, we're no real estate experts but we've learned that you don't have to be.
This story starts when I was still in college. My parents bought a for my brother and me to live in through college. It made sense to buy an inexpensive property near campus rather than pay rent to someone else for 8 years. After I graduated college and bought my own house my parents decided to keep their property and rent it out to college students. They paid me $50/month to act as the property manager. So I made applications, listed the property in the paper, drew up leases (Google is amazing for this sort of thing), showed the house and handled any issues (ilke clogged plumbing) that would come up. My parents never even had to deal with it and I learned how to be a landlord.
OUR FIRST RENTAL PROPERTY
Jeremy bought his first house a couple years before we got together. Of course, this is Jeremy we're talking about, so he made sure it was well within his budget. Then when we bought the home we live in now he decided that he could afford to keep his old home and rent it out instead of selling it when the market was down. It was a very spur-of-the-moment decision, and one we probably wouldn't have made without the experience of my parents' rental, but it turned out to be far easier and more lucrative than we thought possible. This marked the beginning of our "rental empire", as we called it. The plan was to get out of debt over the next year or two (not including mortgages - we hardly consider those debt, since we always owe less than the house is worth) and then start saving for another rental. It's an interesting transition going from paying off debt to investing, where the goal is cash-in-hand. For example, we could pay down the mortgages we have now (which would be fantastic), but that money will do a lot more for us if we use it to invest in another rental instead. Each rental earns some amount of profit per month, so it makes sense that our income would snowball and it would take less and less time to save enough for the next rental.
BUYING OUR SECOND RENTAL PROPERTY
The plan was put into action, and once we had enough cash saved up to put 20% down on a rental property (and still have a little leftover in savings) we started looking. I had a clear vision of the kind of place and tenants I wanted. I wanted an older home with character in an interesting location, preferably near a college campus. I wanted tenants that will not only pay rent but will also respect and love the place. We've made a choice to not be slum lords, and only buy property that we would be willing to live in ourselves (which, we recognize, could actually happen one day).
We got approved for a modest loan, contacted a realtor and started our house hunt. We looked at a few places and as soon as I saw the house that we ended up buying I knew it was the one. We made an offer, it was accepted and three weeks later we closed. It was as quick and easy as it sounds. It's amazing how much easier it is to decide on a house when you're not going to be the one living in it.
We listed the property on Craigslist on a Monday and by the next Wednesday had over a dozen calls on it. A week later we reviewed our applications and had a deposit on the place. We knew it was a good property in a good location, but we couldn't believe how much interest we've had in it. We even had a guy offer to pay an extra $100/month to give it to him instead of the girl we'd already gotten the deposit from (we didn't, by the way).
Everyone asks about the downsides to owning rental properties. Here they are:
• Paying for repairs to a home you don't even live in can be a bummer - but if you budget for it it's not so bad. A tenant with a backed up toilet is not a happy tenant, and we want to be good landlords, so repairs are of utmost importance.
• Yes: we've had some deadbeat tenants, and yes: we sued them. We're nice people so stuff like this isn't fun for us. We learned from our mistakes and now take steps to avoid this sort of situation from ever happening again.
• Unoccupied space - Paying two mortgages for a few months kind of sucks but it's expected.
• The legal stuff - This isn't so bad, it just takes some time to figure out. Google goes a long way when learning your rights as a landlord and what rights your tenants have. However, now that we're growing our property business we have a lawyer who advises us on property matters.
Buying property is our way of putting money in the bank and investing in our future. But when you have investment property, somebody else is investing in YOUR future. It kind of blows my mind. Sometimes it feels too good to be true, maybe even a little greedy, but it's a legitimate business and a service that we all need at some point in life.
• Someone else is paying your mortgage!
• Our property manager - When Jeremy's mom retired from her 9-to-5 we decided to hire her as our property manager. She's kind, smart and uses her gut. She gets good people in our houses and frees up our time to do stuff like watch Arrested Development all weekend.
• I'm not a tax expert but owning property is good for your taxes. When we take a loss on our property with repairs and unpaid rent it ends up being okay when tax time comes around. Or something…
• The profit - We rent our places out for enough to cover the mortgage, expected repairs and our property manager fees. Any extra little bit of profit goes towards saving for another property.
SOME OTHER CONSIDERATIONS
• We love our house and aren't particularly keen on relocating, but if we could live in these properties as we bought them we'd be entitled to some breaks - like a "homestead" exemption on property taxes, and lower interest rates. Those things wouldn't change once we started renting the house out, and would mean more cash-in-hand every month.
• Banks won't let you get away with any less than 20% down on an investment loan, which is actually fine because otherwise you'd be paying extra for PMI which is HIGHWAY ROBBERY AND THE DEVIL - evil, evil stuff. Avoid at all costs.
Of course there is more to be said on the subject, but this is the abbreviated overview of how we've made it work for us, so far.
I'm going to continue to expand on this new "matters" series. I'm an open book, so let me know if there are any other topics or specifics you'd like me to dive into. Help me figure out what to talk about next! I've had requests for Household Matters (how Jeremy and I keep a clean house and divide chores), Marriage Matters (from the big issues to the daily grind of forever and ever) and Wardrobe Matters (how to get the most out of a few basics) - I can't wait to tackle these topics.
Other topics in the Matters Series:
• Money Matters
• TO-DO Matters
J & K started this blog project to document the remodel of their 1929 historical home in the heart of Oklahoma City. It has now turned into a documentation of life, food, fashion, freelance, inspiration, design, adventures and details around the J & K house.
Kathleen works as an award-winning brand consultant and designer specializing in small business branding at Braid Creative & Consulting. Jeremy is a software engineer and is the left-brain to Kathleen’s right.
You can contact Kathleen at
jeremyandkathleen (at) gmail (dot) com.
All photos and graphics by Kathleen unless otherwise stated. Feel free to use them with permission or credit.
Anatomy of an Outfit
Sometimes I like to get dressed and take pictures of myself. For all of my outfit posts click here.
Freelance Matters: A series about how I tackle freelance issues such as estimating, billing, to-do lists and how to fire a client.
Trekking to Everest
In October 2010 Jeremy and I trekked through the Himalayas to Mt. Everest Base Camp. It completely changed my life. Read about the entire adventure, day-by-day, here.
Braid is a creative & consulting business I own with my sister. We do branding and business visioning for creative entrepreneurs. On the Braid blog I share branding adventures, how-to articles and advice on the creative process. If you need a little brand therapy of your own visit Braid or subscribe to the Braid blog RSS feed here.
What We Eat
We like to eat really good food - at least 3 times a day. Sometimes I blog about it - click here for recipes and yummy ideas.
J & K: Blog Archive
- ► 2012 (182)
- Real Life
- A Wish List
- Seen and Heard
- The Easter Bunny Gives Me the Creeps
- Anatomy of an Outfit: Sweating it Out
- Meeting Bloody Mary | New York Part 4
- A Case of the Hiccups | New York Part 3
- Hello, Donny | NY Part 2
- Hello, Brooklyn | NY Part 1
- Quinoa with Roasted Veggies
- Landlord | Matters
- We Relay Well
- Anatomy of an Outfit: Loosen Up
- Custom Wedding Invitations: Modern Topography
- Anatomy of an Outfit: Jeremy Style
- Public Speaking
- Identity: Design Crush
- 10 Months Freelance
- Why Mister Scooty Boots is On My Sh*t List
- ▼ April (21)
- ► 2010 (387)
- ► 2009 (406)
- Eva Black | Spaces
- Emma Dime
- Life as an Artistpreneur
- Jane Reaction
- Ink & Letters
- Meg Biram | The Edit
- Sarah Von Bargen's Small Biz Blog
- Design Crush
- The Equals Record
- Emmarie Designs
- Rory Gordon
- Yellow Brick Home
- The Creatives Project
- Silly Grrl
- Photographers Skeen
- The Clothes Make the Girl
- Bringing Design Home
- Pip & Estella
- A Practical Wedding
- Kind of a Sideshow
- Sandra Juto
- Old Sweet Song
- Rambling Renovators
- Brooklyn Bride
- Design Crush
- Experiment in Poverty
- The Jealous Curator
- Making it Lovely
- Dressing on the Side
- The Oklahoman
- Young House Love
- Oh So Beautiful Paper
- A Cup of Jo
- Brooklyn Limestone
- Glamour Weddings