Are Smart Home Devices Worth the Investment?

smart home devices

Smart home devices are the future of household automation. The Internet of Things – as people have been calling it – is a massive industry that analysts predict will reach nearly 30 billion household units by 2020.

The future is in home automation, but is it worth investing in these devices now? We would argue that you should.

Saving Time

One of the main reasons people invest in smart home technology is because it makes their lives easier. Instead of searching for the remote, you can turn on your TV with your voice. When you want to know what the weather is going to be like, you can ask your virtual assistant, and they’ll have it for you.

With a smart device, you can even keep your schedule together and have the assistant read it back whenever you need a reminder. These devices make life easier, which is one reason they boost the property value of homes.

Saving Money

Although it will cost some initial money to get the devices set up in your property, you could find that you save money once you install them. Nest – a smart thermostat company – completed a study that showed their customers saves 10%-12% on their heating bills and up to 15% on cooling once they added the smart thermostat to their home.

With this in mind, the smart thermostat will pay for itself in two years or less. These thermostats are relatively cheap, but if you want to add to your savings, you could purchase a smart washing machine or smart lighting setup.

Both of these systems have more initial cost, but once you have them in your home, you’ll start seeing the savings every month.

Keeping You Safe

Smart home devices also help make your or your tenants safer, which can translate into more savings on insurance premiums as well. Devices like smart smoke detectors can save you money on your premiums every month, as well as make sure your property is safe from fire, carbon monoxide, radon, and other threats.

Additionally, smart security systems will keep your property safe from burglars, alerting the police as soon as someone nefarious enters the property. Top-of-the-line homes require the best security systems, and these smart home devices don’t cost as much as you might think.

Selling a Smart Home

Smart technology adds value to a property. 64% of millennials think that this technology makes homes safer and more enjoyable, and they’re willing to pay.

Smart technology is the future, and you can outfit your home with these devices for relatively cheap. Once they’re in there, they’ll boost your property value and make it easier for you to sell the home when the time comes.

Adding Smart Home Devices to Your Home

Whether you’re living in the home or renting it to someone else, smart devices make the property more valuable, safer, and more cost-effective. Smart technology is the future, so invest in it now and make it that much easier to sell the property when the time comes.

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Top 5 States Without Property Tax

states without property tax

Real estate taxes can be a major strain on households all across the country. Although there are no states without property tax at all, you can get pretty close.

Living in a state that only takes a small percentage of your home’s value as taxes can save you money on a yearly basis.

So what states should you consider if you’re looking to save some money on your property taxes? Keep reading to find out.

Hawaii

If you’re looking for states without property tax, you can’t do any better than Hawaii. Their tax rate is 0.28% of the average home value. Since the average home in Hawaii costs $500,000 that makes the annual taxes about $1,389.

However, Hawaii also has the second-highest income tax in the nation. This gives it a relatively high overall tax burden. This leads to high prices on consumer goods and a harsh environment for new businesses.

Alabama

Alabama’s property tax sits at 0.43% of the average home value. In Alabama, the median home value is only $122,700. That means that their property taxes come out to just $532 a year.

Alabama is truly a state that makes due with little taxation. They back up their low property taxes with a sales tax that is two percent less than the national average and a personal income tax that varies between 2 and 5%.

Louisiana

At 0.51%, Louisiana’s property taxes are the third-lowest in the nation. The median home value is $140,300 and property taxes annually on that home come out to just $714.

Louisiana also currently has programs in place offering tax breaks to landowners who are completing renovations on properties that have fallen into disrepair after not being maintained annually.

Their income tax is between 2 and 6% and many of the programs in the state are subsidized by the federal government. This gives Louisiana the opportunity to offer a lower tax burden overall.

Delaware

Delaware’s property tax rate is only .04% higher than Louisiana, sitting at 0.55% of the average home value. In Delaware, the median sale price for a house is $226,200 which means the annual property taxes would be about $1,240.

Unfortunately, Delaware is currently facing budget constraints. They plan on raising property taxes as a way to supply new revenue to the state. Homes in Delaware are also subject to county, school district, and vocational school district taxes.

Washington D.C.

Washington D.C. has a property tax of 0.57% of the average home value. The median home sells for $470,500 and the property taxes on that home would be $2,693.

Federal taxes in D.C. more than make up for this low property tax rate. Their tax rate ends up being one of the highest in the nation once everything is taken into account.

Other States Without Property Tax

Trying to find states without property tax is like looking for a unicorn. But by looking for the one with the lowest percentage of total home value, you can save a lot of money annually.

But no matter how low the property tax, you still need to take into consideration the other taxes that will need to be paid if you live in that state.

For more helpful information contact us today.

How to Do Your First Tenant Screening

tenant screening

Tenant screening protects your property and your investment, and it all starts with a simple application.

An application can tell you everything you need to know about a potential tenant. You can use your application to learn whether the tenant will be able to pay rent and utilities, if they have a steady job, or what kind of family they have (with or without pets).

If you want to run a background or credit check on a tenant, you can let them know what is expected in your application. But make sure that information is easy to find and understand. The tenant should mark or sign their permission for you to carry about these checks.

What Should I Include in My Renting Application?

You should make your application as detailed as you need to find out if a prospective tenant is going to be a good fit. Don’t worry about making it too long. If a tenant is serious about renting, they’ll take the time to fill out the entire application.

That said, here are some of the main questions you should include:

  • Employers, current and previous: This lets you know if the tenant has a secure job or if they have changed jobs frequently. They should provide contact information so you can call their employer if you need to.
  • Level of Income: You need to know they can afford rent and other living expenses. You should also ask for any other financial information, like bank accounts and credit cards, that will help you determine their financial situation.
  • Previous Landlords: Any information about where they rented previously, how much they paid for rent, and reasons for leaving should be included. Again, get the contact information of past landlords so you can give them a call.
  • Occupants: You should ask how many people will be living there (adults and children) and whether or not they have any pets.
  • Relevant Personal Information: This is things like full, legal name, phone numbers, email addresses, etc.

Where Do I get an Application?

You can usually find sample applications at your local real estate association, but you can also make one yourself.

What to Do Next

Once you have all that information, spend some time reading it and following up.

Call Past Landlords

Ask questions about whether the tenant was able to pay the rent consistently, if they have any current debt with the landlord, or if the landlord would rent to them again.

Do a Credit Check

This will show you a tenants credit history for the last several years. You can find out if the tenant has maxed out cards, looming debt, or carried loans that will make them struggle to pay rent.

Do a Background Check

You don’t want to risk putting someone who could be dangerous in with your other tenants. It’s not safe for them or you. You’ll probably want to avoid people with a criminal record or people who have been sued for things like unpaid rent in the past.

Talk to Employer

The employer can tell you if the tenant has a stable job and how much they currently make.

Conduct an Interview

Interviewing possible tenants will let you get a sense of their personality. You can also find out more about their lifestyle and whether or not you think they’ll be a good fit for you and your other tenants.

Don’t Skip Tenant Screening

You should screen all possible tenants, but do not go overboard. You must adhere to the Fair Housing Act, and you don’t want to break any privacy laws in the Landlord and Tenant Act.

Need any help with your tenant screening? Contact us and we’ll get you started.

The Entrepreneur’s Real Estate Guide: Investment Properties

real estate guide

It’s 10 a.m., and instead of heading to the office with your laptop case, you’re heading out to the green with your golf clubs. You’ve mastered how to earn passive income thanks to the help of a real estate guide. And that means no more 9-to-5 for you.

Statistics show that while about 66% of people in the United States used the stock market for investing purposes back in 2007, only a little more than 50% did in 2016.

Real estate is wooing more people away from the unpredictable stock marketing, with a survey indicating that 55% of millennials want to invest in real estate, and a whopping 85% of them consider real estate to be a good investment.

That means if you haven’t made the dive into real estate investment, you may ultimately end up left behind.

We’ve compiled a comprehensive real estate guide to get you started on the path to earning the passive income that will change your life for the better.

Let’s dig in!

Real Estate Guide: Where do I start in my Property Search?

When you’re starting out in your real estate property search, you may be tempted to shoot for the cheapest property you can find.

But remember: A less expensive property is not always the best buy.

Yes, you might save money on the front end. But you might end up having to spend this money to fix up the property on the back end anyway if it is not on par with your personal standards.

Along these lines, unless you have experience with renovating a large property, try to buy a rental property that is nearly move-in ready.

Upgrades typically cost more and take longer than an investor initially expects, so you may find yourself losing more money and time than you anticipated.

If the building you buy is clean and structurally safe, you can begin to rent it out immediately and then upgrade it as you need to in the future.

Another smart real estate buying move is to purchase a rental property that is already occupied. This actually makes your job easier as a landlord, as you don’t have to worry about marketing to brand-new tenants.

Maintain and Manage Your Property Wisely

An essential part of being a real estate investor is keeping up with your property’s maintenance. This is critical for a couple of reasons.

First, you legally have to maintain the property to specific safety and health standards based on landlord-tenant law.

Second, a property that isn’t fixed up won’t be appealing to would-be tenants.

And there goes your investment.

But it’s not enough to simply manage your property physically. You also need to manage it financially.

And that’s where a property manager comes in.

Your property manager can collect your monthly rent, handle repairs and even fill vacancies. The right property manager will make your landlord experience a piece of cake rather than a sour experience.

Keep Your Tenants Happy

One of the most critical things you can do as a real estate investor is to keep those tenants smiling. Something as easy as rapidly responding to their inquiries can go a long way in retaining them.

In addition, institute strict procedures for screening tenants.

You don’t want to lose a good tenant — one who pays on time, every time — because he or she is tired of being stuck to a bad tenant next door.

How We Can Help

We offer assistance with locating a real estate agent who will help you to find the right income-generating property for your needs.

Contact us to find out more about how we as your real estate guide can help you to get on the path to financial success in the potentially lucrative world of real estate.

What it takes to be a Good Real Estate Agent

You often hear the term “real estate agent” but some does not exactly know the meaning of it or what specifically their functions are until the time comes when you need the service of them. Selling a real property, which is commonly a house, at a great deal can be considered as the main goal of a real estate agent. But you may ask; where can you find these service providers? Well, through the internet and visiting the site at efindagent.com, you can have access to some of the most talented brokers. The whole process is not that easy, and sometimes it takes time before the final sale of the property. Cases like this require the owner of the property for sale to be knowledgeable of the good qualities of the agent that can potentially make a great transaction with the buyer. Let us talk about some of these attributes.

    • Good communicator. A real estate agent must have an open line of communication with their clients. This is very important so that every detail no matter how little or insignificant it may seem, is discussed during the transaction. This will help avoid several problems or troubles that can be encounter along the way. If the agent is a good communicator, the whole process will run smoothly. This is very important in the real estate sector where you must be very sensitive to time.
    • Good listener. A good broker must also know how to listen well. So beware of an agent who talks too much and almost not giving you the chance to bump in. Remember that as the client, you must be doing most of the talking and making sure that the agent understands all of these. All of your needs, requests, and conditions must be carefully taken into consideration. The real estate broker job is to ask questions based on your demands.

  • Motivated to the needs of the client. A true professional is not thinking about personal interest, but rather the welfare of the people or the clients that they serve. Finding a real estate agent like this is truly finding a treasure. You will know that you are in good hands and will be able to get a great deal. The first and second qualities mentioned above plays a significant role to stay motivated with the client needs and value them beyond their expectation. The whole process of selling a house can sometimes be frustrating which is why it is also the job of the broker to inspire his or her clients by supporting them and letting them know that all be well in the end.
  • Easy to adapt. This also pertains to adapting to the client needs. Not all agents can do this. Instances like having the property to be sold as soon as possible for some reasons should be dealt properly by the broker. Another example of it is the way of communication the customer wants. Be it through e-mail, a simple text or a phone call, the agent must quickly adapt so that there will be no problems being encountered.

These are just some of the qualities of a professional real estate agent that is willing to help their customers as best as they could. When planning to sell your house or other property, be sure to get your brokers at efindagent.com where you are assured of quality service. Make sure that as the client, the whole deal and transaction of sale of the property will run smoothly and most if not all of your requests are met. Choosing the right one will help you get the most out of your belongings.