Thursday, December 31, 2015

If you’re freaking out over soaring healthcare costs, you’re not alone!


Planning for retirement is tough. Figuring out how much money you'll need for health care is even tougher. To find out why, click here to read this article from CNN Money. 

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Are you willing to work until age 72?


New report indicates a shift in demographics that means higher taxes, cuts in spending on programs for the elderly, or a raise in statutory retirement age lie ahead. 

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

How to market your rental property …


You’ve made the decision to become a landlord; you found the perfect home to rent out. Now you’re on a hectic deadline because every day it’s empty means money out of your pocket. So you can’t dawdle.

If the property needs work, don’t wait until it’s completely done before looking for a tenant. Start showing it when you’re putting on the finishing touches, such as painting the interior or replacing the carpet. Sure, it’s nice to show a finished product. But time is not your friend.

The faster you get it rented, the faster the cash flow starts coming in. It doesn’t hurt to have lookers catch you with your hands dirty; lets them know you take pride in the property and work for a living.

Your goal is to have a qualified tenant move in the same day you do the final vacuuming.

I’ve had the best experience putting a small ad in the local newspaper. Make your ad very clear to reduce the number of frivolous calls.

Something like this:

Xxx town, 2/2, $xxx per month, 975 sq. ft., immediately available, no pets, FLS, 12-mo. lease, phone number

Word-of-mouth through real estate agents you know, people who live on the same street as your property, or your social media connections are always good.

Social media gives you more flexibility than print ads. For example, with online ads you can include color photos of a freshly mowed lawn, a well-lit kitchen, or the sparkling community pool, which can make a huge difference in the number of responses you get. While you’re writing your online ad, punch it up with more details such as walk-in closets, covered parking, or a large back yard.

Be sure to include the city and state where your rental is located.

Craigslist is another avenue to try. Zillow and Trulia also let you post a rental for free.

And when you schedule appointments with prospective tenants to see the property, make them all within a specific time frame, say 2-4 in the afternoon. That will eliminate wasting your time on “no shows,” and it will create a sense of urgency on those who show up to make a decision since they’ll see that the house is in high demand.  

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Boost in interest rates a plus for LTC policyholders


Last week the Federal Reserve increased the federal funds rate and the discount rate by a quarter of a percentage point. Soon you should see the yields on your savings accounts, money market accounts, and money market funds go up, too.

And if you’ve been thinking about buying a long-term care insurance policy, or already own one, you might also benefit.

According to Jesse Slome, executive director of the American Association for Long Term Care Insurance (AALTCI), "Higher interest rates will enable insurers to avoid increasing premium rates with new policy offerings." According to AALTCI data, a one-percent increase in (long-term) interest rates can translate into a 10-to-15 percent decline in policy premiums (costs).

"Companies currently offering LTC insurance policies will earn more money on the reserves they set aside to pay future claims," Slome explains. "Financial strength is important for existing policyholders and those buying new coverage that will be called on to pay benefits in the future."

Will we ever see double-digit premium hikes like in the years past? Hard to tell. But the first rise in short-term interest rates since the financial crisis is a start in helping consumers and the long-term care insurance industry that has been struggling in a low interest rate environment.   

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Airbnb can be great for travelers, but a disaster for landlords


Have you ever used Airbnb? It’s the online service that helps you find lodging in rooms, entire homes, and even castles and igloos around the world.

It sounds like a great deal for families who want to travel, but can’t afford to buy every meal out and pay for two hotel rooms. I know my nephew and five of his friends rented a three-bedroom apartment in NY for a fraction of what a moderate-priced hotel would have cost.

Just for a comparison I could relate to, I found a room in my area of Palm Beach County through Airbnb for two people 5 minutes from the beach and 1 minute from the golf course for $142 a night in February (the height of the tourist season). A top-rated hotel on the beach will cost at least twice that amount.  

If you’re thinking of converting an empty property into a vacation rental to pick up extra money, better do your homework. Municipalities are cracking down on landlords who do exactly that. San Francisco, for one, is seeking civil penalties of up to $20 per day for Planning Code violations; up to $2,500 for each unlawful business act; disgorgement of illegally obtained profits; and attorney’s fees.

I’m going to assume that if you, as a smart landlord, have turned your properties into short-term rentals you’ve abided by the laws in your area.   

But what if your tenant snubs his nose at the law and turns your home into a vacation rental?

First off, neighbors and HOAs might have a problem with random people coming and going with their luggage at all hours. Drug dealings, prostitution? Imaginations can run wild. Copies of keys floating around could cause security concerns in an apartment building, too.

Then there is the issue of extra wear and tear on your property.

Suppose you discover your tenant is subletting, and you kick him out? I read about a landlord who evicted a tenant for renting a room to an Airbnb guest for 30 days. The tenant left, but the Airbnb guest wouldn’t budge until his 30 days was up because he wasn’t part of the lease. Imagine moving back into your home and having a new roommate!

An even worse situation is going on in New York where a tenant has amassed $250,000 in fines for illegally turning her apartment into a hotel. The landlord is getting hit with fines, too … $61,000 at the last count. 

Although I don’t put much faith in leases, make sure they include no-sublet clauses in case you end up in court. Also, in the rental application ask how many people will occupy the home, and put that in the lease, too. And on your monthly inspection if it looks as though more people are living there than agreed, immediately remind the tenant of the violation in writing.

For more ideas on how to better manage your rental properties, order a copy of my latest book, What You Must Know BEFORE Becoming a Greedy Landlord


Friday, December 18, 2015

Oops, landlord saw tenant _ _ _ ed!


I recently read a blog post about a landlord who walked in on one of his tenants at an inconvenient time. And I thought it might be worthwhile to pass along in the hope that you can avoid making the same faux pas.

This landlord does routine maintenance on his rental homes. And one afternoon he stopped by a rental house to change the air-conditioning filter. No cars were in the driveway or carport. He knocked a few times on the door. No answer. So he let himself in.

He walked down the hall with his ladder and new filter in hand. As he was passing one of the bedrooms, he saw the tenant with her back towards him sitting at a computer. She was stark naked with nothing but her headphones on. She caught his reflection in the monitor and jumped up screaming for him to get to the f*@# out!

The poor guy tried to explain that he hadn’t seen any cars out front and knocked on the door before entering. The tenant, still fuming, told him to leave and in the future give proper notice before entering.

It turned out the tenant’s car broke down the night before and was at the mechanic’s shop. And she was able to work from home that day. The headset was so she could listen to a recorded conference call, which kept her from hearing the landlord’s knocks on the door.

Fortunately, the tenant eventually cooled down and overlooked what had happened. But it could have easily turned the other direction. She could have called the police; she could have tried to sue the landlord; or she could have tied to break her lease. Even if the landlord would have escaped legal repercussions, his cost in time and money could have been significant.

States have laws on how much notice you need to give to enter a rental. For example, here in Florida you need to give 12-hours notice to make repairs. In Connecticut it’s “reasonable notice,” whatever that means.

I suggest you become familiar with your State’s law. You can find a source here. It just might save you an embarrassing moment.

And for more tips on managing your rentals, order a copy of What You Must Know BEFORE Becoming a Greedy Landlord today. 

Thursday, December 17, 2015

What you must know as senior population soars; number of nursing homes shrinks!


By 2030, some 20% of the U.S. population will be 65 or older; the number of 85-year-olds will rise more than 50%, and the centenarian cohort will almost triple. On top of that, the number of nursing homes will continue to tumble. So you can understand why it’s becoming more difficult than ever to pick a nursing home for a loved one.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

It’s that time of the year!


Is it that time of the year for you? I’m not talking about Christmas, or Boxing Day, or National Chocolate Day, or any other holiday you might celebrate in December. I’m talking about the required minimum distribution (RMD) you must take from your IRA before the end of the year if you are 70½ or older.  
Suppose, though, you start digging through your records and discover that you had miscalculated your RMD five years ago. Should you simply forget about it and hope the IRS never catches on? Is there a statue of limitations on such oversights?
According to IRA expert Ed Slott the IRS generally has three years to come after you for an audit or for more money. But apparently there are no special rules for RMDs.
So get out your checkbook and give the Treasury Department what’s due. And while you are in the giving mood this month, take advantage of National Fruitcake Day on Dec. 27 to re-wrap that rock hard, fruit filled holiday cake and give it to someone … anyone.    

Monday, December 14, 2015

How to walk the tightrope of raising tenants’ rents


You likely find that the cost of operating your rental homes continues to increase year after year. Be it labor, insurance, or taxes … rarely do prices fall. And that’s not even considering a big expense, such a complete air conditioning system. So where does that leave you when it comes time to renew a tenant’s lease and raise the rent? It makes the decision even harder if you have a good tenant you’d hate to lose.  

We still live in a free market society; you can try to charge whatever you want. But to stay in business your rents do have to stay in line with the supply and demand in your area. What’s more, I’d rather have a good tenant who pays $1,200 a month than a problem tenant who pays $1,500.

Most tenants are honest, hard-working people who simply want a decent place to live. So run your rentals like a business that has customers. And if you want to keep good, long-term tenants who will not balk at a reasonable rent increase, be proactive.

That means inspect regularly, respond quickly, and be creative. Look at how to improve things throughout the year. Reward early payments, offer extra services like direct deposit, or tenant insurance. Even a gift certificate to a local pizza joint can go a long way.

Other good gestures, for example new paint or carpet or even a security system if they pay the monthly monitoring, could also assure tenants that they’re getting their money’s worth.  

Want more ideas on how to become a successful landlord?
Then click here to order your copy of What You Must Know BEFORE Becoming a Greedy Landlord.  

Friday, December 11, 2015

Here is another reason to inspect your rentals at least once a month


A landlord was shocked when he found that his tenants had transformed a 3-bedroom apartment into a 10-bedroom apartment. It was what the tenants did next that was even more surprising.







Thursday, December 10, 2015

How landlords can reduce one major complaint


Security deposits can become a major source of complaints, costing you time and money especially if you end up in court. I’ve found that this is generally the result of not properly disclosing exactly what you expect from the landlord/tenant relationship before they move in.

I let tenants know that $xx of the deposit will be used to clean the carpet when they move out, and they will not get it back.

Also it’s not sufficient to simply state that the premises must be left clean and undamaged in order for tenants to receive their deposits back. Require that they clean the entire home, including the range, oven, refrigerator, bathrooms, closets, cabinets, windows, carpet, and balcony.

Another thing I now include is a bed-bug clause. Right, I’m talking about those small, flat, parasitic insects that feed solely on the blood of people and animals while they sleep. Bed bugs are reddish-brown in color, wingless, range from 1mm to 7mm (roughly the size of Lincoln’s head on a penny), and can live several months without a blood meal.

Bed bugs have been found in five-star hotels and resorts and their presence is not determined by the cleanliness of the living conditions where they are found. So it shouldn’t surprise you if they pop up in your rental.

Let the tenant know that you will have an exterminator certify that your property is bed-bug free. And when they move out, it will be inspected again. If bed bugs are present, the cost to remove them will be deducted from the security deposit.

When the tenant moves out, you must provide a written statement of charges you are withholding and return any balance remaining. Failure to do so could easily land you in small claims court. For instance, in Florida if a landlord who wants to keep the security deposit doesn't notify a tenant in writing within 30 days of the move, the landlord must refund the full amount of the deposit.

And don’t let tenants talk you into using this money if they get behind in rent. It’s there to cover damage beyond normal wear and tear … nothing more.

Want more ideas on how to become a successful landlord? Then click here to order your copy of What You Must Know BEFORE Becoming a Greedy Landlord.  



Wednesday, December 9, 2015

City helps landlords monitor rentals


As landlords, we usually prefer that certain government entities stay far away from our rental properties for as long as possible. When it comes to the police, tough, we appreciate how fast they respond to calls.

And one municipality has taken it a step further …  

Saint Paul’s Landlord Alert Program gives property owners and managers the ability to receive e-mail alerts when there are police calls for certain incidents at their rentals.

Landlords will get public information about why the police were called, information on how to receive a copy of the police report, and any other resources that may be available.   

It’s a program you might want to propose to your local officials. 

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Why these landlords are dropping Section 8 housing


In What You Must Know BEFORE Becoming a Greedy Landlord I included this paragraph regarding Section 8 housing:

“On the surface, the main disadvantage I see is that you’ll have to deal with government bureaucracy to receive and maintain approval. The PHA in your area will inspect your property to make sure it complies with HUD’s Housing Quality Standards (HQS). And they must inspect it at least annually.”

Some landlords in the Columbus area see that as a disadvantage, too ... so much so that they’ve pulled out of the program. 

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Nursing home residents becoming better connected



In the wired and wireless world we live in today, connections are ubiquitous. But long-term care often has been slow to join in. Even now, many seniors living in nursing homes are spending their remaining years in “relative” obscurity, looking forward to weekly or monthly visits from family and friends.

Click here for the full article by McKnight’s. 

Monday, November 30, 2015

Don’t let this oversight wreck your offshore dreams


Are you thinking about buying a vacation or retirement home overseas? Milder climate, lower cost of living, and a sense of adventure are only a few of the reasons U.S. citizens are looking to spend time beyond our shores. But before you take that step, you should understand what the IRS has in store for you if you ignore its rules.

In some countries, such as Costa Rica, you might be advised to set up a corporation to buy and hold the property. And that’s where the IRS steps in …

U.S. citizens who are officers, directors, or shareholders in certain foreign corporations are responsible for filing Form 5471, Information Return of U.S. Persons With Respect to Certain Foreign Corporations. You would then include this form with your federal tax return.

Suppose didn’t know about that requirement or figured it’s just a home with no income so it’s not a big deal.

Wrong!

The truth is you could be facing a $10,000 penalty for each year you miss filing the form. 

You can go to the IRS’ website (www.irs.gov) and search for more information. And be sure to get a CPA or tax attorney who knows our tax code inside and out before you close on your offshore dream home.   

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

How to pay for rising LTC premiums


Are you considering buying a long-term care insurance policy? Hopefully you’ve done your homework to make sure such a plan is right for you. And don’t forget … premiums are sure to rise … simply because long-term costs continue to rise.

According to the insurance giant Genworth, the average annual cost of a semi-private room in the U.S. $80,300; and a private room will run you $91,250. The 5-year annual growth for both is 4 percent.

One idea is to set aside money in an account that includes quality dividend-paying stocks or mutual funds to help pay for any premium hikes. The average dividend yield for the S&P 500 is approximately 2 percent. Bonds, bond mutual funds, or real estate investment trusts (REITs) could boost that yield even more. Contact your financial advisor on the best way to structure this account. 

Would you like other funding ideas for your long-term care needs? Then click here to get a copy of A Boomer’s Guide to Long-term Care. It’s available for immediate download to your Kindle or in a paperback version. 

Monday, November 23, 2015

Chain-smoking tenant cost landlord $11,000


Do you allow tenants to smoke? If so, you should click here to learn why a tribunal in Sydney, Australia ordered a landlord to pay more than $11,000 to a tenant whose flat was made unlivable. 

Friday, November 20, 2015

Tenant’s car must go!


I’ve had tenants who drove cars and work trucks that were genuine clunkers. But as long as the vehicles had valid tags and ran, I never made a big deal of it.

However, one landlord apparently isn’t as open-minded as me … 

Fath Properties in Ohio is threatening legal action if a tenant doesn’t get rid of her rusty car. Click here for the full story and a picture of the amount of rust on the car. 

It doesn’t look that bad to me. What do you think?

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Banks create thousands of opportunities for real estate investors


Banks seized 133,811 homes in the U.S. during the third quarter of this year, roughly the same as in the second quarter. But the number spiked by 66 percent compared to the year before. 

A lot of these properties have been in default for a long time and are likely vacant. That means they may eventually sell at discounted prices that drag down overall home prices in their markets. These thousands of foreclosed homes may also provide an opportunity for investors. And according to RealtyTrac many of these homes will be hitting the market for sale in the next six to 12 months. 

Thursday, November 12, 2015

IRS has good news for long-term-care policyholders


In A Boomer’s Guide to Long-term Care I included a chapter on how your long-term-care premiums might be deductible. The IRS recently announced an increase in those deductibility limits for 2016.

The limits depend on your age and range from $390 to $4,870. 

Saturday, October 31, 2015

You only have 6 months to act!

As I wrote yesterday morning, the file-and-suspend strategy many Americans have used to boost their Social Security benefits is on the chopping block. And I warned that if you are considering using this idea, you better act quickly.

Well, later in the day news came out that a provision to eliminate this tactic is within a bill that averts a government shutdown. Congress has agreed to it, and the President is expected to sign it any moment.

But you’ll still have six months after the bill is signed to file-and-suspend your Social Security payments.

So now you have a deadline. Don’t dawdle. Once it’s gone it’s gone forever, which could mean losing thousands of dollars in benefits. 

Friday, October 30, 2015

File-and-suspend on Obama’s Hit List


File-and-suspend has become a popular strategy for married couples who want to get the most from their Social Security benefits. It lets them earn credits for delayed filing and bring in some Social Security income while they wait.

Here is the most common way to use file-and-suspend:

The spouse with the higher benefit files at his or her full retirement age (FRA), then immediately files a notice to suspend payment of those benefits. That permits the spouse with the lower primary insurance amount (PIA) to file for a spousal benefit, which is equal to half the higher earner’s benefit.

That gets some income flowing to the household while the higher earner continues to accrue higher benefits. The higher earner can wait until age 70 to begin benefits; the lower earner then converts to his or her own full benefit.

The couple receives higher individual benefits for the rest of their lives. If the husband dies first, the widow then converts to a survivor benefit, equal to 100 percent of her spouse’s benefit. 

But the White House has proposed eliminating it on grounds that it’s a loophole mainly benefiting upper-income households. So if you’ve been thinking about filing and suspending your Social Security benefits, you better do it while you still can.  

Monday, October 26, 2015

Individual real estate investors score big in blue-collar markets


I’ve been saying this for years: If you want to build a profitable portfolio of investment properties, avoid high-price homes in upscale markets. Instead, go for older single-family homes in working class, blue-collar neighborhoods. And RealtyTrac recently confirmed my philosophy.

The data firm found that the highest yields for single-family homes can be found in secondary and tertiary neighborhoods in secondary and tertiary markets. These somewhat older homes in older neighborhoods are benefiting from rent growth and strong demand for rental housing. And they are far away from the places where institutional investors have bought thousands of rental homes.

According to RealtyTrac, in some of those blue-collar markets the average home price is well under $50,000 and average rents are significantly higher than $1,000 a month, adding up to annual rental yields of over 30 percent. 

You can read more about RealtyTrac’s findings by clicking here

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

$29.7 BILLION a Year!

That’s the estimated annual value of unpaid caregiving provided by 2.6 million Floridians for their older relatives and friends over nearly 2.5 billion hours. 

Monday, October 19, 2015

Americans missing the mark on life insurance benefits


According to a survey from Northwestern Mutual, the majority of Americans think life insurance is only meant to pay final expenses or provide for survivors. But in actuality, life insurance can offer many other benefits while you are alive, such as:
  • Paying for college
  • Taking out a loan
  • Funding charitable contributions
  • Paying mortgages and debts
  • Paying estate taxes
  • Creating an estate
  • Providing a cash flow in retirement
  • Equalizing an inheritance

Click here to download more on the study’s findings. 

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Latest research uncovers the changing face of long-term care


In A Boomer’s Guide to Long-term Care, I discussed the plight of unpaid caregivers and long term care cost. According to a 2006 Urban Institute report:

  • About three-quarters of frail, older people receiving assistance outside of a nursing home rely on unpaid caregivers.
  • Unpaid caregivers provide an average of 201 hours per month to help with personal activities and household chores.
  • Nine out of ten married, frail Americans receive help from their spouse. One out of three of these caregiver-spouses have health problems themselves.
  • More than half of the elderly who need assistance are unmarried and receive help from their daughters.
  • Over half of adult children helping their frail parents are employed.
With each generation this is becoming more and more difficult – and stressful – for families who are trying to balance personal responsibilities with work demands. These caregivers may feel isolated from their friends and overwhelmed by their responsibilities. The result can be high stress levels, depression, and physical ailments.

Now a just-released report from Genworth revealed additional impacts, financially and emotionally, that providing long term care can have on unpaid caregivers. Plus it provides insights on ways to mitigate those impacts by planning for what may lie ahead. Click here to read The Expanding Circle of Care, Beyond Dollars 2015.   

Monday, October 5, 2015

Reverse mortgage vs. long-term insurance


Has the hominess of a former U.S. Senator or the sincerity of a 1970s sitcom actor got you thinking about a reverse mortgage to help supplement your income? Scores of seniors have taken this route.

A reverse mortgage could also be used to pay for long-term care. But is it a good substitute for insurance? This article in USA Today offers a few of the pros and cons. 

And for more ideas on how to plan for your long-term care needs, grab a copy of A Boomer’s Guide to Long-term Care.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Is your state taxing you fairly?



How do you feel about paying state and local taxes? I’m talking about income taxes, sales and excise taxes, property taxes, and more.

There’s a good chance you think you’re treated unfairly. And you might be right. On the other hand, compared to residents in other states you might not have it too bad. 

To see where your state ranks on the tax-fairness scale, check out this survey by Wallethub


Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Student housing taking off!


In July, I gave you the preliminary results of a survey of real estate experts showing the types of commercial properties offering the best potential for investors. Student housing came in as one of the top sectors. And so far this school year is shaping up pretty good.

Occupancy is running around 96 percent, up from 94.4 percent last year. Rental growth is up, too, at 2 percent with many properties seeing 3 percent or greater. And developers have 48,216 new beds under construction. (Click here for more details.) 

Educational Realty Trust (EDR) and American Campus Communities (ACC) are the largest REITs specializing in student housing. You might want to check them out. 

Friday, September 25, 2015

Survey reveals 2 crucial ingredients for a regret-free retirement


E*TRADE released its recent quarterly tracking study of experienced investors. Not particularly surprising is that many wished they had learned more about saving and investing for retirement.

The financial firm includes a survey of top concerns participants have, why they’re saving for the long term, and how they’ve managed their retirement investment funds. 

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

“Holy toxic toilet, Batman!”


That’s what Robin might have screamed to the Caped Crusader if he had seen the results of a recent Aflac study.

The insurance company found that 25 percent of working Americans would rather clean their toilets and 20 percent would rather do their taxes than select a health care plan.

However, despite the painful task of researching benefits and reading the fine print, spending the time to understand what’s available from your employer could result in long-term benefits for you and your family. 

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Self-storage on the rise


Over five years ago I wrote about one of my favorite real estate sectors: Self-storage. And I added a few paragraphs on Public Storage (PSA). Since then PSA shares have risen 130.9 percent, for an annualized return of 16.3 percent. That does not include the attractive 3+ percent dividend.  

The future looks good for the sector.

According to MJ Partners, a Chicago-based real estate brokerage and investment banking firm, private owners of self-storage facilities are reporting 89 percent occupancy. And the five major public-traded firms, like PSA, have seen 92 percent occupancy. Strong demand for storage and limited supply are driving these record numbers. 

If you didn’t jump into PSA when I suggested it in back in 2010, now might be a good time to give it a second look. As vacancy rates fall and rents grow, investor demand for this cash cow is bound to improve. 

Friday, September 18, 2015

Moscow mansion rental sets record

On Wednesday, I wrote why experts say the U.S. residential real estate market is the place to be. Well, it looks like select properties in Russia are doing pretty good, too.

According to The Moscow Times, news website Gazeta.ru reported the most expensive Moscow mansion currently on the rental market can be yours for 2 million rubles ($29,000) per month. 

That sets a rental record for the year, and is two times more expensive than one month ago.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

The U.S. residential real estate market is the place to be

The U.S. economy is in its fifth year of recovery, and the housing market has now seen three years of growth from its lows of 2009. As of April 2015 prices were up 31.2 percent from their 2009 trough, and stand within 12.9 percent of their 2006 high. The prime markets of cities such as San Francisco and New York have already exceeded their former peaks.

What’s ahead for the rest of the year and into 2016?

Savills World Research recently released its forecast for residential markets across the world. You’ll get an in-depth look at which markets have seen the end to the boom and bust cycle, who’s buying where around the world, where investors are seeking higher yielding secondary property, and much more. 

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Social Security: Get the maximum benefit


To receive the maximum Social Security retirement benefit, a worker’s earnings must equal or exceed the current base of $118,500.

That’s almost 50 percent higher from 1994, when it was $60,600.

The maximum monthly benefit if you retire in 2015 at full retirement age is now $2,663; the average for January was $1,328. 

Source: Social Security Administration 

Monday, September 14, 2015

NY landlord breaks into apartment

If you own rental properties, there is a right way and a wrong way to gain access to your units. This NY landlord obviously didn’t know that. 

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Will you carry the extra load?


As summer draws to a close and those jockeying for the White House stump harder for your support, you might keep this in mind:

According to the U.S. Debt Clock, federal tax revenues are now $3.2 trillion. And they’ll jump to between $3.8 and $4.1 trillion in four years. So where do you think our elected officials will get the additional bucks? Will it come from those who have no money, or from people who are already paying taxes?

The clock also shows that over 76 million people (24 percent of our population) are on Medicaid, which along with Medicare is the largest budget item. And 45 million receive food stamps. Do you think those numbers will drop?

I doubt it.

That tells me that Washington will continue to be under pressure to support more people. And every dollar that politicians spend, it’s a dollar they took from taxpayers.

To sum it up, expect taxes to rise … no matter who ends up on Pennsylvania Avenue.

Your best course of action is to carefully consider the tax implications of your financial decisions. That includes when to begin Social Security benefits; when and how much to withdraw from tax-deferred accounts, such as your IRA and 401(k); and how to pass assets to your survivors. 

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Baby boomers, not millennials, will drive strong rental market

If you are a landlord with a handful of properties in your town, I don’t recommend spending a lot of time studying macro-trend reports. What’s happening in your area is much more important to your cashflow.

Still, taking a look at what experts say is going on around the country can give you an idea of the overall long-term state of the rental market, which last year looked pretty good with a 4.6 percent growth rate. And there is no sign of it slowing down.   
According to a recent report by the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA), by 2024, demographic and economic changes will bring what could be one of the largest expansions in the history of the U.S. rental market.
The MBA claims baby boomers will drive that increase, with 33 million more renter households in 2024 headed by someone 60 or older than there are today. That’s because as boomers age, they’ll want to downsize into smaller, maintenance-free, living that rental housing offers.
What does that mean to you as a landlord?
The rental market is good now and should continue to grow with newly-employed millennials pushing that growth. However, based on the above forecasts, the longer-term growth will continue due to demographic shifts rather than the economic cycle.
As you consider investing in a single-family house, a duplex, or an apartment complex, picture what your prospective tenant will be looking for a few years from now so you can keep ahead of the curve.
There’s a good chance she’ll be in her late 60s or early 70s. She just sold her home and doesn’t want to be bothered with all repairs and the maintenance that come with home ownership. She’ll want to be near a hospital, doctors, a grocery store, and an airport. An elevator for above ground-level apartments is a must. 
A park within a short walking distance will be important. Plus she’ll need an enclosed parking space or at least an easily-accessible bicycle rack. And you’ll have to allow her to have a small pet. Security will also be at the top of her list, which could mean providing a security system for the home and exterior lighting. Free Wi-Fi to keep in touch with children, grandchildren, and friends would be a plus.
Keep the above features in mind when shopping for a new property. You might even consider adding one or two of them to your existing rentals to put you a notch above the competition and justify a higher rent. 

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Landlord killed over $58 ...


Attention landlords: Here’s a perfect example on why you should pick your fights wisely.

What office amenities do tenants want?


If you’re considering investing in an office building, even a small one, you might make sure it has at least some of these amenities.