Corporate Rentals: Are They Worth Investing In?

Should you invest in corporate rentals? Short answer: only if you like cash flow!

Corporate rentals are apartments, units, or houses that are most commonly used by business travelers. These units typically come fully furnished and have all the basic necessities a traveler would need for a short-term stay. Corporate rentals’ lease lengths fall somewhere between long-term leases and short-term rentals.

Corporate rentals are a great investment for a variety of reasons. They provide benefits that a long-term or short-term rental do not. Let’s take a look at some of these benefits.

The Benefits of Corporate Rentals

1. Corporate rentals require only essential furnishing

Corporate rentals typically come minimally furnished, with place settings, basic kitchen utensils, and bedding. Unlike short-term rentals, they usually don’t need to have a theme or the nicest decor. They can be simply furnished, with a focus on function rather than style or design.

Furthermore, landlords don’t have to worry about keeping the toilet paper and dish soap stocked throughout the duration of the stay. This type of service, along with a cleaning or laundry service, is a nice amenity but is usually paid for by the tenant in addition to the monthly rental rate.

Living space from one of my corporate rentals outside of Fort Campbell, Ky.

2. Corporate tenants are typically required to have their credit card on file.

Most management companies will require your tenant to leave their credit card on file, like you would at a hotel. If they break your TV or tear the door off your cabinet, your property manager will simply charge their card. This extra level of protection should help you sleep at night.

Related: Colorado Springs Short-Term Rental: How We’re Averaging $6,200/Mo in Revenue

3. Units undergo more frequent inspections.

Every time there is a turnover, the unit can be thoroughly inspected and repairs can be made. Since this will be every few weeks or months, versus 12 months and sometimes much longer, deferred maintenance will not be as big of a problem—if your management company is doing their job.

4. You can charge higher rent.

Because the property is furnished and there is an option for shorter leases, rental rates can be higher—sometimes significantly higher. The shorter the lease, the higher the rent.

5. Tenants are generally working professionals.

Think traveling nurses, project managers, high-level executives, and corporate leaders. Most of these tenants work—a lot—and have little time for much else! This means they likely won’t be spending a lot of time in your unit, which will allow for less wear and tear.

6. Rent is paid by the corporation.

Rent is, a lot of times, paid by the corporation the tenant works for. This guaranteed money makes this type of rental appealing on its own. You won’t really have to worry about whether or not your tenant is going to pay rent!

A Look at One of My Corporate Rentals

We decided to turn one of our 10-unit properties into a corporate rental. It is in an ideal location: very close to Fort Campbell Army base and in a town that has a lot of development going on. Because of the location, it is appealing to military families visiting their soldiers, short-term project managers, and even traveling nurses.

Furthermore, these tenants are (almost) always very low maintenance. They typically work hard and aren’t in the unit very often. Plus, their company almost always pays their rent.

Simple office space for use by my corporate tenants.

Corporate Rental Example by the Numbers

We spent $2,500 on minimal furnishings and found our first tenant before we even finished. He signed a nine-month lease and is paying $1,250 per month. We provide utilities, which is about $65 per month.

One of these units rents unfurnished for $800 per month without utilities, so we are making $385 more per month.

Modest yet cozy second bedroom for guests and family of my corporate tenants.

This additional income added up to $3,465 over the term of this nine-month lease. This means that we paid off the investment in furniture and then made an additional $965 over the course of nine months.

Related:  9 Steps to Develop Your Own Short-Term Rental Management Business

Since the furniture is paid for, any additional income above the $800 per month rate is just a bonus! Furthermore, shorter leases mean higher rent. If someone signs a three-month lease for this particular property, they pay $1,400 per month. This is $600 more than the same unfurnished unit!

The only drawback I have seen so far is that there can be longer vacancy periods. But a good property manager should be able to keep a handle on that with proper planning.

Now that you’ve read this article and are convinced to invest in a short-term rental, don’t dive in just yet! You still have some work to do. This model might not work in every market. In other markets, it might not even be legal. Be sure to speak with experts, so you know what your limits are.

Talk to a property manager who has experience in corporate rentals. They need to understand the ins and outs of the leases. It also helps if they have working relationships with organizations that can provide tenants who are looking for this rental situation. This not only takes some of the guesswork out of this type of rental, but it should also alleviate long vacancies.

3 Reasons Newbie Investors Should Hire a Coach

As a new investor, real estate can be very daunting. There is so much to learn: various strategies to pursue, financing options, deal structures. Then, there’s the challenge of finding the deal, running the numbers, and doing your due diligence.

No wonder so many people never buy their first property!

If you’re a new investor and you find yourself feeling overwhelmed, it’s OK to ask for help! In fact, it may be one of the best investments you ever make. Finding the right coach could change everything for you!

This investment in yourself is something that can never be taken away. No recession will put it at risk, and no market turn can damage its value.

The most successful people in our society, from athletes to corporate executives to artists, understand the value of coaching. These individuals know that a coach can up their game in a way they might never be able to on their own. They are willing to pay tens of thousands of dollars to harness this power in order to get to the next level.

Related: How to Level Up Your Investing Business With the Right Real Estate Mentor

Please don’t misunderstand me and go out and spend $25,000 on a coaching plan before you’ve even purchased your first property.  At this point, you don’t know if investing is even for you, so let’s scale this back a bit. There are plenty of programs out there for new investors that won’t break the bank.

How Can a Newbie Investor Benefit From a Coach?

Extensive research has been conducted on the return on investment (ROI) of coaching. The statistics paint a clear picture.

Eighty-four percent of study participants claimed that coaching led to improvements in their performance and goals. Seventy-nine percent also found that coaching allowed for more complete use of their talents and potential.

Let’s take a look at how a newbie investor can benefit from coaching.

1. A coach can give you much-needed direction.

As a newbie investor, figuring out where to start can be a challenge in and of itself. There is so much learning material available that any investor can easily become overwhelmed and even distracted.

Figuring out where to start with your education is critical! And ensuring that you build the right base is paramount. Only once you understand the basics and the true power of real estate can you really navigate the various strategies available to pursue.

Coaches can help with this. They can put you on a path, starting from a point that makes sense. And once you understand the basics and figure out the strategy (or strategies) you want to pursue, coaches can help tailor your approach and continued education.

2. A coach can save you lots of time.

And I don’t mean a few hours a day—I mean coaches can save you weeks, months, even years! This could be years spent waiting and thinking or years floundering with the wrong approach or strategy. Coaches can help you find another way and get out of “race mode.”

A good coach will help you determine exactly where you want to go and why. Coaches can help you get to the root of your motivations, so you know what is driving you. This will allow you and your coach to strategically set goals that enable you to get to your desired end state as quickly as possible.

They can also help you navigate a path that will keep you on course and get you to your goals much more quickly than you likely could on your own. The truth is, even the most motivated individuals can easily get derailed and mis-routed. A coach can hold you accountable and keep you moving in the right direction.

3. A coach can provide encouragement and motivation.

Buying your first property is incredibly daunting. There is so much at stake, and you don’t have any experience to rely on. This is why most wannabe investors fall prey to analysis paralysis and never actually buy anything.

Related: The 7-Step Antidote to Cure the Silent Wealth-Killer Known as Analysis Paralysis

A coach can help you get through this and reiterate a good deal or steer you away from a bad one. This second set of eyes and reinforcement can be exactly what an investor needs to take the plunge.

They can also help you out of a slump. And we all have slumps! If your motivation is lacking, or you just need some encouragement, a coach can remind you of your goals, where you’re aiming to go, and why you wanted to go there in the first place.

Once you decide that a coach is right for you, you have to be willing to commit. This will require resources—both financial and time resources—as well as a commitment to your personal development.

Have your Cake and Eat It, Too: How this busy Mom does it all

Being a mom is all-consuming. Being a business owner is also all-consuming. I get asked almost every day how I can do it all. This question really just makes me want to laugh out loud!

When people asked me for advice on how to balance and do it all, I feel like a total impostor. I struggle with this every day! We all do! And if we aren’t willing to admit that to ourselves, we’re very likely lying. This great balancing act is one of life’s biggest challenges. But without it, we can feel ourselves quite literally pulling apart at the seams. It’s so important to truly think about what you want your life to look like. And once you figure that out there’s a few tools that you can use to ensure that you can have it all.

Set boundaries and be consistent.      

On your pursuit to having it all, you need to make sure that you set boundaries. And stick to those boundaries. No matter what. Don’t let anybody talk you out of them. And don’t give in, ever. Otherwise, people would take advantage of them and you’ll find yourself slipping and slipping until you no longer have boundaries at all.

These boundaries need to be consistent with your values, and what you want out of life.  Don’t worry about what the PTA moms are doing, or what your neighbor thinks. Trust me, there are no winners in the comparison game.

Focus 100% on what you’re doing.          

When you’re at work, be at work. Put your head down and get everything done that you need to. Be productive! If there’s anything that us moms are good at it’s being productive, especially when we can be uninterrupted. And don’t kid yourself that you can multitask! You can’t!

When you’re home with your kids, be home with your kids. Be in the moment! Laugh with them, talk with them, listen to their stories. This will rejuvenate you in a way that very few things can’t.

Ask for help and support.      

Surround yourself with people who are going to support you. And do not be afraid to ask them to support you. If you need your husband to do something in particular to help you, ask him. I’m pretty sure that he’ll do it especially knowing how much he can take off your plate just by doing a couple of little things for you or a couple of little things to help around the house.

If your friends that are around you aren’t willing to support you, then maybe you need to distance yourself a little bit. If you need something from your sister, your mom, or your brother-in-law, don’t be afraid to ask. They’ll likely want to help you. Be specific and praise them for their efforts, it will go a long way!

Outsource.      

If you want to do it all, you have to let other people take control of some things in your life. Hire a cleaning lady! Hire a nanny, or the 12-year-old girl down the street who can watch your kids while you work upstairs. Don’t be afraid to make these sacrifices. And don’t be afraid to make an investment in yourself…few things that are worthwhile just come to you!

Last but certainly not least. Take time for yourself!  

No matter what. The old saying, “If mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy,” was made famous (or infamous) for a reason. And, “Happy wife, happy life,” is a real thing.

Us moms sometimes have no idea of the impact that we have on our kids, on our families and our husbands. We need to make a great effort, to at least be aware of how our attitude and our moods can affect everyone. I’m certainly not saying that you need to be happy all the time, that is just unreasonable and unrealistic. But when you’re having a particularly dark day or a really rough time, don’t be afraid to walk away.

Put somebody in charge of your kids that you can trust and go for a walk, get a massage, or work out. Just go sit in the darkroom somewhere and take a nap. It’s Okay! We all need that sometimes. Do not let anybody make you feel bad about that.

Being a mom is hard.  And our society, unfortunately, tends to make us feel bad for wanting anything for ourselves.  It is okay to want to be something other than a stay-at-home mom! Some women are simply not cut out for it, and your kids will be just fine if you pursue a career or something outside the home or your family.  In fact, I think they will be better off having a mama who pursues what she wants, and is happy, than a mama who just happens to be physically present.

4 Key Ways to Build Wealth in Real Estate

There are so many reasons to invest in real estate! Talk to 10 investors, and you will get 10 different answers. Some will say that they appreciate the extra cash the investment brings in each month. Others will say that they appreciate the appreciation (see what I did there?) and like to see their properties double and even triple in value. Still other investors will tell you that they like to have control over where their money is.

The truth is, the list of reasons people invest in real estate is long. This is because there are many potential ways to build wealth through real estate investing. On the flip side, though, there are plenty of reasons not to invest and there is certainly risk to investing in real estate. My goal in writing this article is to show you that while no investment is risk-free, and there are never any guarantees, there are many benefits to investing in real estate and ways to mitigate your risk.

Do I have your attention? Good!

Now break out your scientific calculator, Excel spreadsheet and a six pack, or venti coffee, because we are about to get into some serious analysis!

Just kidding! I am going to give you the basics, the nuts and bolts, and a pathway to begin on an investment journey!

Let’s start with my answer to why I invest in real estate. I’d like to give you a clear, straightforward answer here, but it’s a little complicated. It is complicated because my answer has to do with the life that I want to lead. And I don’t just mean the things I want to do, I also mean freedom from the things I do not want to do.

I don’t want to be stuck in a 9 to 5 job. I don’t want my husband to retire from the Army and have to get another job. I don’t ever, ever, ever want to be stuck in the rat race because of finances. I want to be able to fly to Nepal and trek the Himalayas on two weeks’ notice. I want to be able to buy a Cadillac with cash. I want to be able to resign from my job, my career, so I can prioritize my family. These aren’t just pipe dreams, guys. These are all things I’ve done, and I am just getting started!

My husband and I are both educated, driven, and so far, successful individuals. We both worked hard for what we have accomplished and where we are in life. I don’t say this to blow smoke or brag but rather to show how alike you and I really are. Our careers allowed us to make good money, but it was always finite. When it ran out, there was nothing more. Though we weren’t living paycheck to paycheck, there was always a limit to what we could do. If we wanted to make more money, we’d have to get a second job and work more.

While this might have been somewhat appealing before kids, having children changed everything for both of us. We are still hard workers, but we want to spend all the time with our kids! Additionally, we want to take them to see Mickey Mouse on a fairly frequent basis. Since all things Disney cost approximately a million dollars, we had to get serious about our finances.

Except that we didn’t want to.

We did not want to have to watch every dollar and go through life pinching pennies. There had to be another way.

That’s when I started considering investing in real estate. A year and a half and about 14,758 hours of podcasts and numerous books later, I finally got the guts to purchase my first investment. And it was not the best investment I could have made, but it has not been vacant for even a single day, the loan is paid down every month, and I bring home a couple hundred bucks on top of that.

Furthermore, it is a safe investment and I enjoy watching its value increase. I am passively making money in four different ways on this single investment.

4 Main Ways to Build Wealth in Real Estate

OK, so now that I’ve convinced you to go out and spend all your money on a rental property, let’s talk more specifics. The four main ways to generate and build wealth in real estate include tax savings, loanamortization, cash flow, and appreciation. Not every investment will bring you all these benefits, but your particular investment strategy is up to you.

Taxes

Let’s start with the most boring topic on the history of the planet: taxes! I know, I know, but we have to go there. And honestly, I bet the more you learn about taxes, and tax savingsthe more interesting this topic will become!

In my opinion, this reason alone is enough to buy one single rental property. This won’t make you rich by any means, but it allows you to tap into a whole new world of tax saving strategies. And on things you already use and buy anyway! Think: your cell phone, internet bill, your home office, the list goes on and on.  These are all potential write offs!

Now, I am no expert, and nothing can replace the advice of your CPA, but check out this article written by someone who is much wiser than me on the topic. Oh, and did I mention that he’s a real estate made millionaire? The fact is the government wants you to buy real estate. It will incentivize you to provide housing for its citizens in the form of extra tax write-offs and 1031 exchanges, to name a few.

Loan Amortization

The next thing I want to talk about, and perhaps my favorite, is amortization. What does that even mean? In a good real estate investment, if you do it right, someone else will be paying down your mortgage. And your interest, taxes, insurance and other expenses. Hopefully even your property manager’s fee. Notice that I said in a “good” real estate investment AND “if” you do it right. This means that you must not only buy it at a price that makes sense, you also have to manage it effectively.

Both are do-able, but neither just happen. In many markets, rents can cover all these expenses, and you can automatically build wealth simply by keeping your property occupied.

Cash Flow

Now on to the real reason you are reading this article: you want to know how much money you can make. This is known as cash flow and is the money that an investor takes home after all expenses are paid.

A good investment cash flows most of the time. Notice, I don’t say always, because there will be times when your expenses exceed your income. My properties average around $300 per month. That is money in my pocket. When I am assessing a potential investment, I consider a good investment one that brings in at least $3,000 in income per year.

Again, this isn’t a huge number but when you consider that the value is likely increasing over time and somebody is paying down a mortgage for you, you can start to build some wealth passively. You can also duplicate this over and over again until you achieve your income goals.

Appreciation

The last topic I want to cover is the icing on the cake: appreciation. If you make a good investment, in the right area, you not only have someone paying off your loan and building you equity in your home, you also have a few hundred extra dollars in your pocket. On top of all of this, your property should increase in value each year. This is called appreciation. And a conservative appreciation rate for the average property in America is over 3%.

This is not a startling rate but let’s consider a $100,000 single family home investment. You put $20,000 on a 30-year mortgage at a 5% interest rate. This $80,000 loan will be paid off in 30 years, by someone else, and in that time, you should make $3,000 per year in income totaling $90,000 over this term.

Furthermore, if your initial investment of $100,000 increased at 3% per year, after 30 years it would be worth $235,656. Now, let’s say you completed a $30,000 remodel that increased the total value of your investment by $45,000. The difference, $15,000, can now be added to your $235,656 home value and $90,000 in income.

All in all, your $20,000 investment could turn into $340,656. Now, you could sell the house and net close to $310,000 after you pay realtor fees and closing costs, or you could hold onto it and enjoy a significantly higher cash flow since your mortgage is paid off.

Now, that understand these four ways, go ask your boss to match all of these benefits! I’m joking!Mostly! But seriously, don’t just think about it! Start taking action!

Are you investing currently? What’s your motivation? If you aren’t investing yet, what’s holding you back?

3 Steps to Kickstart Your Real Estate Investing Journey

We all know people who are crushing it in real estate. But for some reason, we doubt our ability to do the same!

When I talk to hopeful investors, I hear the same reasons repeatedly. These “reasons” are really just excuses—justifications that people use to avoid getting into the business. These include fear of the unknown, concerns about maintenance costs, lack of cash, and not wanting to fix toilets at 2 a.m.

You will deal with a broken water heater. Or a busted HVAC unit. Or a leaky roof. Or perhaps all three at the same time.

Your tenant’s dogs will pee on every inch of your carpet, and their kids will color all over your once-perfect walls. These are all things investors will have to deal with at some point or another.

In order to ensure that none of this bankrupts you, consider these expenses when assessing a property.

Realize that if you commit to investing, you will likely make a bad investment at some point. Or you may come across some costly expense that you never anticipated.  Understand and accept this, and your investing career will be a lot more enjoyable.

If you plan for these inevitable speed bumps en route to financial freedom and put the appropriate protections (a savings account or line of credit) in place, you will come out on the other side. It will be a nuisance and may affect your bottom line, but no entrepreneur is free from all risk.

The lack of the cash thing can be an actual reason not to invest. However, if you listen to podcasts and read about investing in real estate, you will quickly realize that you don’t even have to use your own money!

Is your mind blown? I know mine was when I first learned about this.

I truly believed that only people with access to lots of money or friends with deep pockets could ever begin investing. I was wrong and can happily report that I have used other people’s money to make a fair profit.

You can absolutely use other people’s money as a down payment or even have a seller finance a property for you, bypassing the usual credit checks and income requirements. This is a conversation for another day, but don’t let a lack of funds keep you from getting in the business!

The last excuse I hear frequently usually has to do with fixing toilets or getting your tenant a copy of a house key at 2 a.m. because they drunkenly locked themselves out.

Guys, this does not have to be how it goes. You could save yourself a couple hundred bucks over the course of a year and manage a property yourself, but the chance of these things happening are low, and their frequency is even lower—especially if you keep up with your maintenance and put good tenants in your properties.

How to Get Started Investing in Real Estate

If you’re thinking about everything I said and are even remotely intrigued, I recommend that you take a few action steps.

Step 1: Get out of debt

I am not talking about your personal home mortgage; rarely would I consider that bad debt. I’m talking about car payments, college loans, and credit card debt. Pay all of that off, and start saving.

Take a look at these extreme ways to save money. Oh, and fair warning, the title does not lie. Some of these are more than a bit extreme!

Hello, military showers! I can joke about this, because I have literally been there! So, there I was in Iraq, taking a rare shower, and the water runs out while I am completely lathered up! Thank God for a handful of water bottles close by, so I could at least get most of the shampoo out of my hair before going to work. Not my best day…

Anyway, let’s get back on topic.

Step 2: Learn, learn, learn

Listen to podcasts, read a few books, attend a real estate networking event. Find a mentor, and take a course. Listen to the BiggerPockets Podcast. They are straightforward, informative, productive, and usually pretty entertaining.

As far as books, check out these 10 must-read books, and start making your way down the list. Then, Google a local real estate investor meetup, go grab a beer, and soak in all that knowledge!

Step 3: Make an offer

None of this will ever matter if you don’t take action. I am not suggesting that you run out and offer full asking price for the first house you see or listen to someone you sort of know who met a guy who has an uncle-in-law who is a real estate millionaire. I am suggesting you put to use everything you learn from the podcasts you listen to, books you read, and all your new, experienced friends in real estate.

Do your homework, run the numbers, and make an offer that works for you. You will likely get denied a time or two (I had eight rejected offers before finally getting one accepted). But each time you assess, analyze, and offer, you will learn something new.

If you’re not inspired, then I have failed you, but hope is not lost. If my experience and hypotheticals did not convince you, check out these inspiring stories, and then try to fall asleep tonight without thinking about it!

5 Remodeling Materials I Swear By (Perfect for Flips, Rentals—You Name It!)

Remodeling a house can be a huge undertaking! Especially for an inexperienced investor or homeowner who has no clue how to choose materials and selections. There are so many things to consider in terms of remodeling materials. From the budget, to the tastes of the buyer, finishes, color schemes, textures—it’s enough to make anyone’s head spin!

Most of the best and frequent flippers have systems, and repeat them over and over again. This applies to the offers they write, the contractors they hire, and even the materials they use. Becoming familiar with materials not only gives the investor greater control over their budget, it also allows them to make quick and easy decisions on their renovations.

Many of my flips, regardless of the shape, size, or location, follow a very similar system. And I use versatile materials over and over again. Here are five of my favorite materials for any renovation.

Top 5 Materials I Choose When Remodeling Homes

1. Vinyl Plank Flooring

The best thing about vinyl plank flooring is that you can use it in every inch of a house. If you buy one that is waterproof, you can install it in every room in a house. This stuff is incredibly versatile! It is easy to install and great looking, too!

You can buy it for less than $2 per square foot or upwards of $5 per square foot, depending on the quality you are looking for. I’ve had it installed for as little as $1 per square foot, but a good estimate is $2 to $2.50 per square foot for installation. It comes in dozens of finishes and can match any existing color palette or finish.

Photo: StyleByEmilyHenderson.com

The other great thing about vinyl plank flooring—especially for landlords and homeowners with dogs and young kids—is that you can replace it piece by piece. If you simply need to replace one or two pieces, you would have to uninstall the floor to that point but could reinstall the pieces that are still in good shape.

Related: 4 Rehabbing Materials That Are Always Worth Spending a Little More On

2. Flat Weave Carpet

This type of carpet is stylish, looks nice, and can be used in indoor and outdoor spaces. This is an easy upgrade for sunrooms, patios, lanais, and even garages. It adds texture and dimension to any space and can fit a variety of décor. This type of carpet comes in various styles, colors, and fibers, as well.

Photo: DF Designer Favorites

Flat weave carpet selections are typically less expensive than other rugs and can also accommodate a low door clearance.

3. Butcher Block Counter Tops

Just like the vinyl plank, the color and texture finishes for butcher block counter tops are plentiful! This material can add dimension, round out selections, or even be considered an “upgrade,” depending on the market. Check out how incredibly different these two kitchens can look using the same materials!

Photo: HomeDepot.com 

Photo: Zillow Digs home in Phoenix, AZ

Butcher block counter tops are inexpensive (at least when compared to quartz or granite) and relatively easy to install. Not to mention, they are trendy and appeal to a wide range of buyers or renters. As an added bonus: they are naturally anti-bacterial, which makes them ideal for kitchens or bathrooms. Extra care must be taken to protect the wood, though, and these counter tops cannot be cut on.

Related: Rental Property Deal Analysis & Property Tour (Before & After Rehab!)

4. “Agreeable Gray” Paint

Gray paint—everywhere! A light gray paint throughout the house with white trim allows for a pristine finish to any renovation. It is bright, sharp, and feels luxurious.

If you want to add an accent wall, just go a shade or two darker, or pick a blue, pink, brown, or even green in the same color family (any paint store or paint department at a hardware store can help you ensure your accent blends with your primary wall color). This ties everything together and can pair well with most counters, cabinets, and tiles.

The photo below was from my first flip. One (perhaps the only!) thing I did right was chose the paint colors. The light gray paint spanned the entire house, and I added one darker accent wall as an upgrade. The gray ties together the flooring, door, and the trim and looks clean, complete, and new.

This was from my first flip. One (perhaps the only!) thing I did right was chose the paint colors. The light gray paint spanned the entire house, and I added one darker accent wall just as an upgrade. The gray ties together the flooring, door, and the trim and looks clean, complete, and new.

5. Drop Light Fixtures

Again, just like any materials, these range greatly in price but can add a lot of dimension to a renovation. They also feel luxurious and—if placed right and chosen appropriately—can make a basic renovation go from “blah” to “glam”!

Photo: LNC Home

You can add an element of luxury like the above picture or something traditional and rustic like the below picture—or anything in between!

Photo: FeastHome.com

The best part about drop light fixtures: you can totally DIY these and make a one-of-a-kind space!

This is an inexpensive and easy DIY project that can add so much to your renovation!

Photo: Etsy.com

There can be a lot of uncertainty when undergoing a remodel, whether it is your own residence or a house you are planning to flip and sell or add to your rental portfolio. It helps immensely to have a handful of go-to materials and selections when planning your budget, quality of finish, and renovation timeline.

Getting comfortable with the materials and processes can add great peace of mind!

Developing Your Why!

I am a firm believer in mindset and goal setting and this is the foundation of all my courses and coaching. This is something that we need to work on consistently.  It is not something we can do once and be done.  Here are 6 steps to help you develop your WHY and be on your way to living your best life! 

Step 1: Get in the right mindset!

Decide that you will do what it takes, NO MATTER WHAT! 

Make the decision NOT to quit, no matter how hard it gets! Mindset is EVERYTHING! If you really, truly want to succeed, you need to wake up every single day and make the decision.  

Stop looking at everyone as competition.  I promise you there are plenty of deals to go around, plenty of money to be made, and plenty to relationships to be developed.  Adopt an attitude of abundance! Know there is more than enough to go around and start networking with those you think are competition.  Figure out how you can bring them something of value, and 9 times out of 10, they will return the favor tenfold!

Some of my favorite book on this topic are: 

You Are a Badass at Making Money by Jen Sincero

Talent Is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers from Everybody Else by Geoffrey Colvin

Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth

Crushing It!: How Great Entrepreneurs Build Their Business and Influence-and How You Can, Too by Gary Vaynerchuk


Step 2: Accept that you will have bad days, and things will go wrong.

You are going to have bad days.  Some will be really  bad! Just the other day, I found out someone was squatting in one of my flips.  Seriously, he had his room all set up, his sleeping bag, his computer and speakers, too! And then there was that time I gave a roofer $4200 to buy materials and I never heard from him again.  Those were not my best days, but they happen, and more often than I’d like, but I now know that no matter what, I am in this for the long haul, and I will build a legacy I can pass on to my daughters.

Step 3: Figure out EXACTLY what drives you!

I know exactly what drives me! I have taken a long time to truly develop MY WHY! And I reflect on it constantly and consistently.  If you don’t know what you’re doing all of this, and I mean REALLY know, you won’t be able to make it through these bad days. 

So take some time and really start thinking about your Why.  I have a wall in my house dedicated to visual representations of my short and long term goals and what I want my life to look like for me and my family. Note that “making money” or “getting rich” are not good enough reasons! Take it further than that! Why do you want to make money and be rich? So you can travel the world? Buy the Denver Broncos? Start a non-profit? Whatever it is, figure it out specifically, paint it clearly in your head and everywhere else so you can start ruthlessly pursuing it. 

Step 4: Put it down on paper and post it where you can see it all the time!

You need to be reminded constantly of where you are going and why you want to go there! Whether you are on top of the world, or feel like a bug on a windshield, it is always a good idea to have a constant, graphic or photographic reminder of your WHY! This is what mine looks like and it sits on the wall that my desk faces so I look at it approximately 4,569,172 times per day. 

Step 5: Set goals that will get you there.

Some of you might think that we are doing this backward, that we need to figure out where we want to go before we figure out why we want to get there, but I very much disagree.  Your goals WILL change.  As you go after your WHY, you will be amazed at how your perspectives change over time.  As you achieve success and you fuel your why, you’re going to want to reach higher and achieve more.  I see goal setting as simply a tool you can take advantage of in the pursuit of your why.  Before we figure out where we want to go, we need to figure out where we are now.

I quite literally set goals every Sunday.  No matter what I sit down for 20-30 minutes every Sunday and review my goal sheet: making changes, crossing goals off and adding new ones all the time. Please add goal setting to your schedule regularly! I promise it will be worth your time. Keep record of your goals over time.  In a year, or five, or twenty, it’ll be really cool to see where you are and how far you’ve come. Also, write them down, draw them out, and POST THEM EVERYWHERE! 

Step 6: Share your goals with anyone who will listen! 

Jim Rohn said: “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” Who you hang out with matters.  If your friends and family are dragging you down, that’s going to be very difficult to overcome on a regular basis.  Surround yourself with people who encourage, inspire and support you in the pursuit of even the craziest dreams! And if you can’t find that, BC Global Investments has just the network for you! 

For further assistance on this, don’t hesitate to email us.

Written By: Erin Helle, Owner & Founder BC Global Investments, LLC

Erin is originally from Buffalo, NY and served as an U.S. Army Engineer for 14 years. After leaving active duty, she embarked on a career as a Real Estate Investor. She is now a proud Army wife and mom to two beautiful little girls. Erin built a real estate portfolio valued at over $2M that cash flows over $6,000 per month within her first year as an investor! She coaches and teaches others in real estate investing @ BC Global Investments.

15 Questions to Ask Your Property Manager

Your property manager has an important job to do: take good care of your investment.  They do this by putting quality tenants in your property and keeping them there by taking care of them and the property.  They have the challenge of taking care of both the tenant and the property owner, but they ultimately work for you.  It is important that they have your back when it comes to issues with tenants, evictions, and maintenance requests.  

There are a lot of questions you could ask a property manager, but these will get you started, and lead you to the follow-on questions that will help you determine whether they are the right fit for you, your property, and your long term goals. 

  1. How long has your company been managing properties?  This will tell you how established the company is and hopefully indicate their experience.  You want your property manager to have great contractors because this means lower fees and rates for you plus quicker services.  If they are just getting started, they may not have these contacts yet.  Additionally, they may not have the experience or know local ordinances and market trends they need to know to be a great asset.
  2. How big is your company? And Who will be my go-to person when I have issues? It is important that the company have multiple people working in their office or on their staff.  If you have a single contact and he happens to be on vacation when snow-pocalypse comes along and your roof caves in, you’re going to be in a lot of trouble, especially if you’re not living in that town and have no one to take care of the issue.  
  3. What are your fees? How much to renew a lease? Find a new tenant? Monthly management fees? Service calls? Do I pay if the unit is unoccupied? Any other fees? These vary from market to market but should be pretty consistent (if not exact) from one company to the next in the same area.  Expect to pay about one-half to one months rent to renew a lease, and 10% of monthly rent as a monthly management fee.  Know that this is all negotiable, though, and the more doors you have, the better rates and the lower your fees should be. 
  4. What are the terms of our contract? Ensure that you always have a way to get out of a contract if you are not happy with the way your property management company is managing your property. 
  5. How many rentals do you currently manage? They should be able to provide an exact number very quickly.  There is no real number that is good or bad, but it needs to be commensurate with the size of their staff.  A couple, for example, should not be managing 600 properties on their own.  And a staff of ten is not needed for only forty properties. 
  6. What is your vacancy rate? Again, you want an exact number right away.  “Low” or “we hardly ever have any vacancies” is not good enough.  Your property manager should be regularly pulling metrics and data for this stat and others to prove their track record.  Also, it is important to know what vacancy rate your market is accustomed to in order to know if they are competitive or not. 
  7. What types of properties do you manage? Retail, commercial and residential rentals are all different and need to be managed differently. I would not suggest you have a commercial management company manage your single family home because the type of tenant and application process is different and tenant issues will be different. 
  8. What are your rental rates based on? Good managers know the market well and constantly keep tabs on the variables that affect the market.  It is important that they know how to analyze a market to ensure they are getting their property owners market rents, at a minimum. 
  9. How do you fill vacancies quickly?  The key here is to ensure that they are not sacrificing quality of tenant to get someone in the property quickly.  You will likely spend a lot more time and money evicting a bad tenant compared with waiting a few extra days or weeks finding a good tenant who will pay their rent and take care of your property.
  10. What are Fair Housing Laws?  Here you just want to feel confident that your property manager understands both the local and state fair housing laws.  Violating these laws could result in court time and hefty lawyer fees, so it is imperative that your property manager fully understand and enforce these laws, always. 
  11. Are you insured? I like to keep this question open ended and vague.  Hopefully they answer that they always carry errors and omissions insurance, as required, and also have a general liability policy at $1 Million or more. If they don’t give you these details, push for them until you get specifics, and then ask for proof. 
  12. How long are units typically vacant after turnover? Two things are important here: time and turnover procedures.  If your property manager claims they can turn over your unit in 3 days, I would say they probably aren’t doing a very good job of inspecting the unit and ensuring systems are maintained and the unit is kept at top condition for the next tenant.  Look for a thorough plan to turnover and a timeline of around 30 days to get it ready for the next tenant and find a qualified tenant to rent.  
  13. How do you handle tenant service requests? Ensure that your tenants can easily communicate issues with the property, and that the property manager is doing their part to inform you as appropriate, take care of your property, and work with the tenant in a timely manner. 
  14. How and when will you provide me with updates about my property? Typically, a monthly report will accompany your rental income but you also want to know what type of maintenance issues require notification.  You can specify when and how you want to be reached, and for what reason.  
  15. Do you invest in real estate? While this isn’t necessary, an investor understands how important your asset is to you and will hopefully treat yours just and they wants theirs to be treated.

This is not an all-encompassing list and you can ask plenty more questions, but this will get the conversation started.  Ensuring that they are qualified, have the support they need, and have a good reputation will help you sleep better at night.  For help finding a great property manager or assistance with your real estate journey, don’t hesitate to connect with us

Written By: Erin Helle, Owner & Founder BC Global Investments, LLC

Erin is originally from Buffalo, NY and served as an U.S. Army Engineer for 14 years. After leaving active duty, she embarked on a career as a Real Estate Investor. She is now a proud Army wife and mom to two beautiful little girls. Erin built a real estate portfolio valued at over $2M that cash flows over $6,000 per month within her first year as an investor! She coaches and teaches others in real estate investing @ BC Global Investments.

12 Questions for Your General Contractor

Before undergoing a renovation, whether it is for your primary residence or an investment property, finding the right contractor is so important!  We have all heard stories about contractors running off with money for materials, with no materials to show and the contractor gone without a trace. Or the story your friend told where their house underwent major renovations and 2 weeks later, their entire second story bathroom caved in and the contractor could not be reached.  In case you haven’t already made this decisions, I am telling you right now that you do not want to be this person!  Trust me, I’ve been there, and my coaching focuses on ensuring you do not make the same mistakes I did! 

The first thing you want to look into and learn about when checking on a potential contractor is their reputation.  Do you know anyone who has hired them? What did they say about their work? Their reliability? Their communication? Their value? Their punctuality?  The more details you can get about their experience, the better! Having a friend or family member that can vouch for a contractor they have personally used is amazing, but that’s not enough! You need to look to see what other people say about the contractor.  Check their reviews.  Look on their Facebook page, yelp, Angie’s List, Google Business and find out what their clients are saying about them.  You will quickly notice trends, I promise! 

Now that you have some confidence in their skills and competence from your investigation, it’s time to get on the phone and start interviewing! 

Before getting out there and conducting interviews, let me alleviate your anxiety! A good contractor understands how important your property and project are and knows that you will have lots of questions.  If he/she won’t answer your questions: they are not your contractor! Run away! 

If they don’t show up for your appointment or interview, do NOT give them a second chance.  If they are 30 minutes late, they better have a great reason.  If it’s acceptable to them to be late or not show up before you hire them, you can bet that this behavior will be consistent or even worse after you hire them. 

When you meet a contractor, take note of their appearance and, if possible, the state of their vehicle.  This can tell a lot about a person’s organization and attention to detail just from these two things. If there are fast food bags, empty water bottles, paperwork and trash scattered everywhere, you can bet that this is how your house is going to look after you hire them.  

When you first meet them, don’t hesitate to shoot the breeze a little bit.  It’s nice to know about their family, their priorities and what they like to do.  Only spend a few minutes doing this though, as you want to be respectful of their time.  Good contractors are typically very busy! Once you have broken the ice, get right into the questions. 

  1. How many people work for your company and how is your company structured? This will tell you how deep their organization is, which can be a good indication of how long they’ve been around and how established they are.  It can also tell you what type of support they have.  Having administrative personnel who help manage project schedules and billing, assistant managers, and other support will likely make it easier for you to get in touch with the company when you need to, without having to worry about an individual being a single point of failure. 
  2. Who will be doing the work?  Are you sub-contracting anything out, or will your organic team be able to cover the entire project? Ideally, the contractor can do the entire project with just his team.  This allows the general contract to have more control over the timeline and the budget.  If he has to sub-contract specific parts of the project out, he cannot control that plumber or that painters schedule. Regardless, you need to make sure that each person conducting work is trained, licensed, if applicable, and insured.
  3. Are you insured? This includes General Liability and Worker’s Compensation. There is only one right answer to this question! If they say yes- ask to see a copy of their policy. 
  4. Has your company ever been sued? Has anyone filed a lawsuit against you? A yes answer is not a show stopper, but you’ll want to dig a little deeper to know what the suit was about, how it turned out, and how this contractor handled or responded to it.
  5. Has your company ever had a serious accident that caused injuries or hospitalization? Again, it is okay if the answer is yes, accidents happen.  What is important is how the contractor dealt with it and what they are continuing to do to ensure it doesn’t happen again. 
  6. Have you ever sued a client or filed a mechanics lien against the property? Still not a show stopper, but you need to figure out the details.  At the very least it will give you an indication of their transparency and character.  If you feel that they aren’t being honest about this or previous lawsuits, check the public record! 
  7. Do you agree to sign lien releases before I pay you? This needs to be yes.  If your contractor does notwant to sign a lien release to be paid, for any reason at all, their intentions are probably not where they should be.
  8. Have you ever declared bankruptcy or operated a company under a different name? If they say yes, you will need to do a little more research to ensure they are not going to go bankrupt again.  You also need to check on the other company as there is probably a reason that company is not still in operation. 

In doing this research and conducting interviews, it is not enough that they ‘pass the test.’  You need to think hard about two things: are they a good person? And can you work with them? Once you get the above out of the way and have a good idea of the contractor’s reputation and experience, you can start to figure out scheduling, timelines, communication, and organizational structure.  

  1. Who can you go to when the project is way behind schedule?  This is where your contractor lets you know how you can hold him or her accountable.
  2.  Who will be at my house and when?  You need to ensure that no one is allowed access to your house if they have not had their background checked by the company.  Additionally, you want to ensure that there are only contractors working when you give them express permission and within the boundaries that you lay out.
  3. What will our contract look like? A lot of contractors don’t even use contracts (believe it or not!) so its important to have this conversation now. I always draft the contract I use and ensure that everyone signs before work begins or money is exchanged.  Not every contractor will be okay with this, but I highly encourage you to have  a lawyer review any contract before you sign it. If it is written by your contractor, it is to protect him or her, but not necessarily you.
  4. How and when do you like to be paid?  If you do not know this contractor, do NOT give them a lot of money up front! 25 or 50% is not reasonable, no matter what they say.  A good contractor has enough in reserve to cover themselves to get started, but occasionally will need money for some materials.  If this is the case, you can order the materials and have them delivered directly to you. This way, you have what you paid for. If your contractor has a problem with that, they can purchase the materials on their own and you can pay once the work is done, or you can find another contractor. 

This is not an all-encompassing list and you can ask plenty more questions, but this will get the conversation started.  Ensuring that they are qualified, have the support they need, and have a good reputation will help you sleep better at night. If you need any help through this process, connect with us at BC Global and we will point you in the right direction! Through all of this, hopefully you’ll have determined that you can work and communicate with this person.

If you’re about to take on a four month renovation and deal with this individual regularly, it is critical that you can work together.  And if they are a genuine and honest person, the chances of them completely screwing you over are significantly reduced.  

At the end of the day (or project), you want this contractor to have respected your property, been open and honest, treated you fairly, and completed the job within budget, on time, and to a reasonable standard. 

For assistance with your real estate journey, don’t hesitate to connect with us

Written By: Erin Helle, Owner & Founder BC Global Investments, LLC

Erin is originally from Buffalo, NY and served as an U.S. Army Engineer for 14 years. After leaving active duty, she embarked on a career as a Real Estate Investor. She is now a proud Army wife and mom to two beautiful little girls. Erin built a real estate portfolio valued at over $2M that cash flows over $6,000 per month within her first year as an investor! She coaches and teaches others in real estate investing @ BC Global Investments.

Building a Legacy

3 days after returning to my Army unit after maternity leave with my first daughter, I received an email with orders to deploy to Afghanistan in three months. The same month my husband would deploy (yes, the Army can and does do this!). We would have to move our baby to our parents and not see her for 6-9 months. We would miss a lot.

But we decided that wasn’t the family life we wanted.

I resigned over night and was out of the Army within 5 months with a single piece of paper to commemorate my 12 years of service.

My husband deployed and I stayed home with the baby.

It was hard. 

Like, harder than hard. 

Like, I’m almost embarrassed to say that I hated it. 

I hated the long days, and the even longer nights. 

The same routine every single day. 

The talking to yourself because your little bundle of joy can’t yet talk back!

Even worse, I was resentful of my husband. He was out there kicking ass, pursuing an amazing career, and people looked up to him. Respected him. He loved his job.

And I was getting pooped and spit-up on.

The thing is, I was qualified. More than qualified to get a number of jobs. I had a degree from West Point, a masters in management, and a bunch of other certifications that would make me a great candidate for plenty of employers.

But as much as I hated staying home alllll the time, the idea of working 60+ hours per week, commuting each day and only seeing my daughter while she was sleeping wasn’t what I wanted either.

I needed balance. 

I needed something for myself, but really did want to hang out with the baby MOST of the time.

I had thought about investing in real estate for a long time.

And then I thought some more.

I taught myself, I listened to the podcasts, read the books, even got my real estate license.

But I was still scared. I didn’t have anyone to reinforce what I thought was a deal or bounce ideas off of.

I didn’t have a mentor or everyone someone successful in the industry I could talk to.

I finally got up the guts to buy my first investment and it was LIBERATING!

Life changing even.

I could totally do this!

So I bought another duplex and did a flip, all while very pregnant with my second daughter. After having the baby, I bought a triplex, and a ten unit and within one year, I owned 17 doors, completed 5 flips, and was making over six figures.

But get this, I was still staying home with both of my babies and LOVING it!

I began building my legacy, and creating something I could be proud of, something I could pass on to my girls. 

I found my professional purpose, which made me a better mom and a much better wife!

It has changed my life and I want to help you get into real estate so we can change yours, together!

I’ll teach you how to: 

Find the deals

Analyze the properties 

Negotiate the contracts 

Build your team and find the right contacts

And I will be with you every step of the way! To register for the course or hear more: https://bcglobalinvestments.com/courses/

Written by: Erin Helle, Owner & Founder, BC Global Investments, LLC

Erin is originally from Buffalo, NY and served as an U.S. Army Engineer for 14 years. After leaving active duty, she embarked on a career as a Real Estate Investor. She is now a proud Army wife and mom to two beautiful little girls. Erin built a real estate portfolio valued at over $2M that cash flows over $6,000 per month within her first year as an investor! She coaches and teaches others in real estate investing @ BC Global Investments.