Air Conditioning Trouble Shooting Check List

Air Conditioning And Hot Weather

Do you have air conditioning trouble shooting check list?

During hot summer months, you can hear the buzz of air conditioning units running continuously. They are an essential part of many homes.  All of my rentals that I manage have central air conditioning units and some have an additional window unit for second floor areas that are difficult to cool.

Continue reading

Mini Blinds And Your Tenants

Mini blinds and your tenants.

Question:  As a landlord, do you provide mini blinds in your rental homes or do you make the tenant install them?

I love mini blinds in my own home but loath them in rental homes. I have never understood how they can be damaged so badly by tenants!  There is no denying that mini blinds make a home look more finished and make tenants happy.  Installing cheap blinds makes sense given that they typically have to be replaced every time a new tenant moves in. However, the older they get, the more impossible they get to clean.

Continue reading

Screen Applicants With Confidence

Screening applicants is a stressful and challenging endeavor.  You typically only have to screen tenants when you have a vacant home or a home that is about to be vacant.

A vacant home does not put money in your pocket. Your goal is to find the best possible tenant that you can find as quickly as you can. To do so, you have to cast your net far and wide. 

Continue reading

Maintenance Issue Case Study

There are days as a property manager when I just roll my eyes as my fingers furiously type an email response. Today was one of those days.  Remember, having procedures in place will save you a lot of headaches! One such procedure is the move in inspection.

Move in procedure case study. Save yourself a lot of headaches! Click To Tweet

I moved college students into a rental home two weeks ago. When I logged into the system this morning, I noticed a work order had been put in by the mother of one of the student’s.

In the work order, she stated the following:
“The burners on the stove are dangerously dirty. It looks as if they have never been cleaned. The oven needs to be cleaned too. The cupboards have grease and dirt on them that were also not cleaned before the boys moved in.”

As a property manager, I make sure that my rental homes are clean before any tenants move in. If the previous tenant does not leave the home move in ready clean, then I hire someone to do make sure it is.  My  cleaning crews typically take pictures when they are finished. These photos are added to the property folder in Drop Box.

Luckily, my move in process is solid. I have a written move in inspection and pictures of the entire house. Part of the move in process is to make sure to get pictures of all appliances, all cabinets, all mini blinds, etc.

I put together an email to this parent and explained that the appliance and the cabinets were clean at the time of the move in inspection.  Her son did not attend the move in inspection but another student did. The stove was operated and inspected.  All of the cabinet doors are opened and closed to check for proper operation.  The stove or the cabinets were clean at the move in inspection. I went to my Drop Box account, pulled up pictures of the stove and cabinets and sent them to the mother. The picture of the stove top was enlarged to show that it was clean!

She did respond later in the day with:

“Thank you. Honestly, when I was there this weekend they were
disgusting. I will talk to my son.”

In all fairness, I don’t blame her for being upset that the stove was so dirty. She did not attend the move in inspection and did not see the home prior to them moving in. I strongly recommend that everyone attend the move in inspections. The reality is that these students are in college and this is not the first house they have rented from us.  Students tend to be independent and I rarely have parents attend a move in. 

This is a perfect example of why you need to have a move in process that is very detailed. Remember to follow it every single time! I respond to emails and texts like this all the time! It gets very frustrating but is much easier to make go away if you have pictures.

Do you have move out letters to send to your tenants who have given notice? If not, you need them!  Grab two letters and a price list below.



Evicting A Tenant In The Winter

Evicting A Tenant In The Winter

Evicting A Tenant In The Winter

Can You Evict A Tenant In The Winter?  Evicting a tenant in the winter should not be any different than evicting at any other time of the year. Theoretically speaking, as long as you follow the law and send the proper notice required in your area, you can evict a tenant at any time of the year.

I personally hate to evict anyone at the holidays. Doing this makes me feel terrible. At the end of the day, evicting a tenant in the winter a business decision and is not personal. I have to remind myself the tenant signed an agreement stating how much the rent was and agreed to pay it within a specific time frame.

That being said, go online and google “Evicting A Tenant In The Winter”. You will find many people saying that, in their area, they can’t schedule an eviction during November and December.  This seems to be a real problem in many areas of the country.

I live in Kentucky and the courts will allow you to file the eviction but they will not schedule any set outs during the month of December. This means that set outs get pushed out into January and even February every year.  This is annoying and also very costly.  It seems that many tenants in this area know that as well.

Goal Is For Every Property To Be Occupied

No one wants to have a vacant home at any time of year. It is always costly and unpleasant to have a home without a tenant in it. Not only are you losing money, you run the real risk of it being vandalized.

What If You Can Evict A Tenant During Winter

Let’s skip ahead and assume that evicting a tenant in the winter has not been a problem for you. You now have an empty house that is not generating income or paying for itself. Now you are faced with finding a new tenant at the single worst time of the year.  Very few people want to rent a home in November and December.

Evicting A Tenant In The Winter

Why is that?

  • Holidays are in November and December
  • Everyone is too busy
  • It is cold
  • Everyone is short on money

Most people have holiday plans and are frantically trying to get their shopping done.  There is also the fact that it is much colder in much areas. Fewer people are willing to go out in the cold and look at homes.

The biggest factor though is that most people are short of money. They are busy buying gifts and don’t have money to spare to move. 

When you evict a tenant during this time of the year, be prepared for it to possibly sit empty until at least January and possibly February. Hopefully you have a rainy day fund for just this possibility.

Consider Working With The Existing Tenant

I agree completely that you need to stay on top of the eviction process with anyone who doesn’t pay. I have a few tenants right now who are paying their rent but are paying late.  One tenant has contacted me and said she can’t pay the full amount this month. Another tenant actually owes almost $1,000 in water bills because the account keeps reverting back into the company name. That is another whole issue with our local water company! 

If possible, make sure your lease is written so that it specifically lists how any money paid by the tenant is allotted.  You want late fees, tenant charged maintenance bills and past due utility bills to be paid before the rent. This makes any balance due rent that is due which allows you to evict the tenant.

At any rate, I want to evict these tenants eventually because their inability to pay rent on time and in the full amount. Not being able to pay utility bills is another issue as well.  


How Can You Work With The Tenant

Sometimes I make a business decision to work with these tenants as much as possible until we get through December. I talk to the tenant and find out what their situation is. Once I know that, I can make a decision about what to do in this situation.  It is not always possible to work with all of them. Communication is key. Listen to what the tenant says and then read between the lines!

Why would I do this?

  1. There are times when I will agree to lower the rent for a month or two. Some money is better than nothing. If the house is vacant, it isn’t generating any money.  The tenant is told this is a short term solution. I explain that I will proceed with the eviction filing if they cannot start paying as agreed in the lease. At this time, I also give them the option of agreeing to move out voluntarily at a future agreed upon date.
  2. A vacant home is also more likely to be vandalized. A vandalized home costs money to repair and it will sit vacant longer. It may be possible to allow the tenant to stay in the house but show it to prospective tenants.  This is only a viable option if the tenant has kept the home in good shape.  I write up a promissory note stating what they owe in back rent and allow them to make payments.  I am not an attorney so find out what the laws are in your area.


Sometimes Eviction Is The Only Solution

Obviously, if the tenant will not or cannot make any payments, you cannot work with them.  It may be better to have the home sit vacant for a month or two just to get the non-paying tenant out.  

If you are unlucky enough to live in an area where evictions are not allowed during certain months, be sure and plan ahead.  File immediately on every tenant who is not paying. This puts you ahead of anyone else who didn’t file as soon as they were allowed.  

Do Not Assume A Non Paying Tenant Will Not Move Out

Be pro-active with your non-paying tenants.  I have had good luck getting non-paying tenants to agree to voluntarily move out.  Most people know that having an eviction filing on their credit is a bad thing! Talk to them and see what they need to get out.  Get them a pod if needed. Maybe offer to get a dumpster delivered so they can clean out the house.

These options will cost you some money. However, when you are faced with getting no rent for a few months plus eviction costs, it may be cheaper. This is especially true if you don’t have to pay anyone to clean out the house!

Evicting a tenant in the winter should be the same as evicting a tenant at any other time of the year. Be sure and know the laws in your area. Always consult with an attorney who specializes in evictions.  There is nothing worse than skipping a step and having to start the process over again.

Probate Investing Tip – How Long Do You Mail To Probate Leads?

Probate Investing Tip

There seems to be some mystery about how to market to probates. I get asked about probate investing and marketing all the time.  Continue reading

Probate Investing – Learn How To Get In The Mind Of The Executor

Probate investing and the executor.

Today I want to talk about getting inside the mind of the executor.  Probate investing is my favorite real estate niche of all. This group of sellers is very motivated to sell any property in the estate.  Once you can understand the seller’s viewpoint, it’s easy to see that investors provide a much needed service to anyone settling an estate.

The terms executor and administrator are interchangeable. Click To Tweet

Who Is In Charge?

The terms executor and administrator are interchangeable.  The term personal representative refers to either of the above.  So what’s the difference?

The executor is named in the will by the deceased. The deceased has specified who they want to be in charge of their estate.  The administrator is appointed by the court in the absence of a will.  Both the executor and the administrator have the same duties and legal responsibilities. That person is the decision maker, so that is the person you ideally want to be in contact with regarding the sale of the property.

There are times however when one of the heirs will be the one to show you the property. This is generally because the personal representative isn’t available.  Maybe they live out of town or they can’t be there for some other reason. This isn’t unusual, but you need to be aware that they cannot legally sell the property unless they are also the PR.

Get in the habit of asking the person contacting you if they are the executor.  If they say no, ask what their relationship is (family member, heir etc.), and ask who the executor is and get their contact information.

The Typical Investor’s Mindset

If you ask the bulk of the investors out there why they aren’t working in probates, they will tell you that they feel uncomfortable since the property is being sold due to a death. Many will say they don’t know how to talk to those sellers; they don’t know what to say.  Sometimes they will say probate investing is just plain “creepy”.

Learn how to get into the mind of the executor. Click To Tweet

The truth of the matter is, these are just regular people that have a problem. They have an estate to settle that involves selling property. This whole process can be very confusing to the executor or administrator. They aren’t familiar with the terminology or the timelines. In addition to settling the estate, they have their own lives to get on with. They have jobs, families and other responsibilities. The last thing most of these people need is an unwanted property they have to sell. When you can show up as the expert, they will be so thankful for your help.

Once you understand your role and how you can help those folks selling the property, it’s easy to get inside the mind of the executor and understand how they feel and think.

Why do they put off Selling the Property?

There are two main reasons.

One is those is overwhelm.  The executor is being pulled in a lot of different directions. Often times they just don’t know where to start. The other reason is all the “stuff” in the house. They have to decide how to dispose of all the personal belongings. I can tell you from experience that this is a gut wrenching experience.

Those were the deceased’s treasures. They were things they loved in many cases, but they have little if any value to the family. Family members will choose keepsakes, pictures and heirlooms and then there is … the rest of it.  The family has to decide what to keep and what to dispose of.  There can be a lot of guilt in the mind of the executor and the family members when it comes to disposing of personal belongings.

When you can step in and offer to finish this job for them you have just solved a huge problem for the executor and the heirs.

A solution to a problem that allows them to get on with their life. Click To Tweet

That is what investors bring to the table where estates are concerned.  A solution to a problem that allows them to get on with their life.

They don’t want the property. They just want to sell it, settle the estate and move on. When you can help them do that, it changes everything for the seller. That’s why having a clear understanding of their viewpoint makes your job as an investor so much easier.

Learn how to become the go-to probate expert in your area.  You can quickly and easily learn how to be the obvious choice for anyone with a probate property to sell. 


 About this guest post author, Sharon Vornholt

My name is Sharon Vornholt and I have been investing in real estate right here in Louisville, KY since 1998.  I am passionate about real estate investing. I also love teaching others how to succeed in this business.

In addition to being a full time investor I am a blogger, a coach and I host a podcast called “Let’s Talk Real Estate Investing”

Probate Investing Simplified will help you become a probate investing expert in 6 short weeks. Click here to learn about it. 

Entrepreneurship is the path to building a lifestyle business that supports your dreams and your goals. This real estate investing blog is dedicated to providing quality content that will help you do just that; build the business and the lifestyle of your dreams.

In addition to writing for my site, I  have written for numerous other real estate sites and publications. I am a regular contributor to REI Wealth Magazine, and I have written almost 150 articles for BiggerPockets Blog. 

Probates – Learn How To Find Off Market Deals Using Probate Marketing

Probate Marketing and Off Market Real Estate Deals

Are you tired of competing with droves of other investors for deals?   (I know you are)

It’s pretty frustrating when you’re looking for deals where everyone else is looking.  So why not look somewhere else?

OFF market deals are … everything else. There are a number of types of off market deals. Click To Tweet

I’m talking about off market deals.  So what exactly are off market deals?

First let’s talk about ON market deals. Those are homes that are listed on the MLS or other online sites. These are the sites where most people are searching for deals, and there is a LOT of competition there.

OFF market deals are … everything else.  There are a number of types of off market deals.

  • Pre-foreclosures (hard to work with)
  • Absentee owners (not always motivated to sell now)
  • Pocket listings (you need a Realtor in your pocket for these)
  • And more…

But, the most lucrative type of off market deals by far are probates.

Why is that?

How To Find Probate Deals Click To Tweet

It’s because these folks are among the most motivated sellers on the planet. They have just inherited a house that they don’t want.  They just want the cash that’s sitting in the house!

They also want to be rid of the problem of settling the estate and move on with their lives, and this involves selling any property in the estate.

And … if they have inherited a house that needs a lot of repairs and/or updates, they want to get rid of it quickly.  They’re not going to put their hard earned money into fixing up the property to sell it on the MLS, and that’s where you come in.  These sellers are looking for someone to solve their problem which just happens to involve an unwanted property.

But here’s the big thing; the The #1 reason you should be working with probates . . . Click To Tweet, and I want you to think about this for just a minute.

The question is: will you ever run out of leads?

Sadly, the answer is NEVER.  People pass away every month, year after year.

The challenge is learning how to get the leads and what to do with them once you get them.

Well, Sharon has those answers for you.

She has created a probate investing called Probate Investing Simplified.

Not only will you learn everything you need to know about working in one of the most lucrative niches of all (probates), but you will get a complete series of letters you’ll need to market to these folks.

And… there is a special “Direct Mail Bonus Module” for you.  You can use the information in this bonus module to market to sellers for all types of off market deals.

Is this program only for real estate investors?  Heck no.  Realtors can learn from this course too.

There is a special page where you check it out for yourselves.  Just head over to Probate Investing Simplified

How Does the Course Work?

The course will be dripped down one module a week for 6 weeks.

You will get your bonus Direct Mail Module and your other bonuses in week #6. (There’s a reason for this).  You need to get your foundation in place before you start your direct mail campaigns.

You’ll have plenty of time to get through the module’s short lessons each week, before moving on to the next module the following week. Between each module you’ll have the opportunity to get all your questions answered so you never get stuck.

Have questions? Just send Sharon an email at sharon@sharonvornholtcom.

Happy Investing!

*** This content uses referral links. Read my disclosure policy for more info. ***

Credit Check Can’t Verify A Birthday Or Social Security Number

verify a birthday

What Happens When A You Can’t Verify A Birthday and Social?

When someone applies to rent your rental property, the first thing that you will do is run their credit. The credit reporting agency will attempt to verify a birthday and social security number every time credit is run.   Continue reading

Renting A Vacant Rental Home Fun Story

vacant rental home

A Vacant Rental Home Story

When you have a vacant rental home, your job is to find a great tenant as quickly as possible.  If you have an effective marketing campaign, you will get a large number of phone calls, texts and emails asking for information about your vacant rental home. Continue reading