Friday, December 9, 2016

Writer's Digest book review ...

I entered What You Must Know BEFORE Becoming a Greedy Landlord in the 24th Annual Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards contest.

Here is Judge #87’s Commentary:

The writer’s tone and amusing (though often, if you think about it carefully, very depressing) anecdotes make this book fun to read, even for a reader who has no interest in owning rental properties. 

My favorite parts of the book are the pieces of practical advice I wouldn’t have thought of myself (such as driving by a potential rental property at night and not buying property more than 10 miles away from where you live yourself), along with the stories of terrible tenants and common mistakes.

I’m wondering how many renters really like the idea of the landlord visiting monthly to replace the air-conditioning filters, and whether this is really a common practice among landlords.

The writer is very frank throughout most of the book; a place where I would suggest more frankness is on just what the potential landlord should have going for him or her before getting into the business.  How much cash money does the potential landlord really need?  How much in the way of skills? 

For example, the writer says he was able to repaint a whole house in two-and-a-half days and then re-carpet it in just a few more.  This suggests a great deal of skill on his part.  

Is it worth it for a new landlord to get into the business at all if he or she is not prepared to do those things?

Click here to get your copy. 

Monday, September 12, 2016

65% of UK landlords live close to investment

In What You Must Know BEFORE Becoming a Greedy Landlord, I gave readers the 6 important rules I’ve learned when looking for something to buy.

My #1 rule: Stay within 10 miles of your home.

And a new survey found that 65% of landlords from across the pond agree with me!

Click here to read more of the survey’s results.   

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Repair vs. Improvement

A reader sent the following question …

Dear Sir:

I just finished reading What You Must Know BEFORE Becoming a Greedy Landlord, which is an excellent resource for potential and current landlords. 

My question concerns repairs versus improvements. 

If a repair cannot be made and an item must be replaced for safety reasons, does that still count as an improvement?

The item in question is a set of concrete steps that have broken away from the foundation and cannot be repaired. The steps are dangerous and need to be replaced before we can rent the house out.

Thank you!



My answer:

Hi John,

With the tax code, much depends on how you interpret it.

Here’s what it says regarding repairs:

“You can deduct the cost of repairs that you make to your rental property. A repair keeps your property in good operating condition and does not materially add value to the property. Examples are painting, fixing leaks and replacing broken doors or other parts of the rental property.

So if I were you, I’d classify your new steps as a repair and deduct the full cost.

Good luck!


Monday, August 15, 2016

Seniors fuming over massive price hikes

Seniors say they feel ‘scammed’ by MetLife and Unum. To learn why, click here

Friday, August 12, 2016

Photo tips to get your property rented … FAST!

Putting photos in your ads can boost the odds of renting your property. In fact, a study found that listings with 11 to 15 photos get 70% more clicks than those with none at all.

But if you make these six mistakes, your photos could actually take away from your rental’s appeal. 

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Homeownerships down; rentals on the upswing

The U.S. Census Bureau reports that homeownership has hit a 50-year low. And that could be good news for investors willing to step into the single-family home market, according to experts.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Florida law favors tenants

“There was a time when landlords would remove the front and back doors or turn off the water to get deadbeats out. But we live in a kinder, gentler society now, which means you have to follow the letter of the law.”

Abiding by the law often results in a time lag between filing for an eviction and getting one. And such delays in the justice system can cost you.

I had a tenant who was behind in his rent. He said he wanted out of his lease because he didn’t like his neighbors and the HOA’s rules. I agreed as long as he would pay what he owed me.

He didn’t keep his end of the bargain, so I filed an eviction note.

When I arrived with the sheriff’s deputy to execute the eviction, the tenant was gone. 

And I was left with …

Holes in walls, broken bi-fold doors, filthy oven, disgusting refrigerator. 

I got a $6,000+ judgment against the slimeball, but that’s not worth the paper it’s written on here in Florida.

The lesson to be learned is that you can’t afford to be a nice guy. And you must move as quickly as possible once a tenant falls behind in the rent.  

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Seniors shortchanged; ex-POTUS gets raise …

Trustees reported that they expect Social Security's cost-of-living-adjustment (COLA) increase to be 0.2% next year.
That minuscule amount — which equals a whopping $2 more for someone getting a $1,000 monthly check — would come after retirees got no increase in Social Security benefits in 2016 for the third time in four decades. 
But a next-to-nothing COLA for retirees isn’t stopping President Obama from giving himself and other past presidents a pay boost …  
The White House budget for fiscal 2017 seeks $3.87 million in benefits for former presidents and their spouses. That would mark an 18% increase from the prior year.

Something to keep in mind as Election Day draws close. 

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Demand for self-storage poised to rise

On March 14, 2010, I wrote about an unglamorous sector in the real estate industry: self-storage facilities.

And I gave a profile of Public Storage (PSA), a real estate investment trust (REIT) that is one of the largest landlords in the world.

Since then, PSA has gone from $88 to $273 on April 1, 2016. Today, it’s floating in the $250 range. That’s a 17%+ annual rate of return. Meanwhile shareholders were also rewarded with a 3% dividend.  

To see why demand for these garage-size spaces should continue to grow, click here

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Your fix to long TSA lines

Traveling by plane this summer? Better get to the airport at least three hours before your flight takes off. At least that’s what officials at O’Hare, Denver International, and many other airports recommend.

Who is to blame?

You can fault the TSA, the airlines, and the passengers who refuse to pay to check their luggage so they drag it through the security points with them. Solutions have been proposed, such as adding more TSA agents and eliminating baggage fees. But with terrorism on the rise … nothing is going to help much with this summer’s vacation.

Regardless of where you aim your misery while snaking along the roped pathway to get through security, there’s not a whole lot you can do about it. Yet there is a way turn this lemon into lemonade and make that long wait more bearable.

Let’s talk two airlines that I recently flew on a trip to San Jose, Costa Rica … 

Spirit Airlines (SAVE)

This south Florida based airline operates throughout North America, Central America, South America, and the Caribbean. Its ultra-low-cost business model offers low, unbundled fares that let you pay only for options you choose, such as bags, advance seat assignments, snacks, and drinks.

Over the past five years, annual EPS has grown 10% and revenue increased 22%.

First quarter 2016 results were solid: Revenue was $538 million, an increase of 9.5% from a year earlier. EPS was $1.01, up from $0.96 in 2015. 

"Our greatest competitive strength is our relative cost advantage.  We are focused on getting better all the time and doing so while maintaining, or improving upon, our relative cost advantage," said Ted Christie, Spirit's Chief Financial Officer.

Chart source: TD Ameritrade

Although Spirit leads the pack when it comes to customer gripes, the outlook for this super-discounter looks bright.

Its new CEO says he’s been focused on reliability since his first day on the job six months ago. On-time showing improved to 73.8% in April.

SAVE was recently upgraded to outperform from neutral at Credit Suisse. And Spirit was chosen by the DOT as one of the eight carriers that will be able to fly Cuba once the details are finalized. 

JetBlue (JBLU)

JetBlue Airways provides air transportation services for 93 destinations in 28 states in the U.S., DC, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and 19 countries in the Caribbean and Latin America.

Over the past five years, annual EPS has grown 44% and revenue increased 11%.

Revenue for the first quarter was $1.6 billion, up from $1.5 billion in 2015. Earnings were $0.59, up from $0.40 the prior year. 

Chart source: TD Ameritrade

“Our disciplined growth strategy continues to yield strong performance. We posted record first quarter results with higher margins than most of our competitors. These results would not have been possible without the amazing efforts of our 18,000 crewmembers. They truly are our biggest competitive advantage,” said Robin Hayes, JetBlue’s President and CEO.

JetBlue was also selected to service the U.S. to Cuba route.   


Air traffic is up 12% since 2011, fuel prices remain low, and consumers have more money to spend. With a record 231 million Americans taking to the skies this summer, airline stocks are poised to surge. So now could be a good time to pick up a few shares.

And knowing that you have the opportunity to profit from each passenger in those long airport security lines might make your wait a bit more bearable.  

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Long-term care top concern among Americans

A survey that Matthew Greenwald & Associates conducted for the Society of Actuaries found that 69% of pre-retirees — workers age 45 and older — are worried about long-term care and inflation, followed by paying for health care (67%).

For retirees, 58% are worried about long-term care, 52% about inflation, and 47% about health care.

If you are among them, you should read A Boomer’s Guide to Long-term Care.

Inside, I show you:

* How long-term care expenses could leave you broke
* Why you must assume control
* Why a woman is at greater risk
* What the government will pay, and more important—won’t pay
* How to avoid getting shipped off to a nursing home
* If long-term care insurance is right for you
* What to look for in a long-term care insurance policy
* How to cut premium costs 

A Boomer’s Guide to Long-term Care is available in paperback and Kindle format.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

U.S. Senators toast brewers …

To prove that they actually can get something done and boost their pathetic approval ratings, the Senate passed a resolution expressing appreciation of the goals of American Craft Beer Week and commending the small and independent craft brewers of the United States.

Please thank your Senators for their hard work and bipartisan support of S.Res. 473. 

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Landlord discovers pot operation

In What You Must Know BEFORE Becoming a Greedy Landlord, I wrote that you should keep an eye out for tell-tale signs that your rental is being used as a cannabis farm. A home used as a cannabis farm can cause devastating damage to a property and can lead to a voided insurance policy. 

On top of financial costs, you could face legal action if it can be proven that you were aware of criminal activities or received money, including rent, as a result of illegal drug activity.

Here’s a landlord who followed that advice ...  

Monday, May 16, 2016

I’d rather give up s_ _!

Amy Winehouse, Bob Marley, Jimi Hendrix, Sonny Bono are just a few celebrities who died without a will.

Prince is the latest. Now it’s up to the court to sort things out.

According to The Virtual Attorney, 32% of Americans said they’d rather give up sex for a month, do their taxes, or get a root canal than create or update their will.

How about you? 

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

50,000 pounds of trash!

OMG, I’ve never seen this much trash left by a tenant. A perfect example of why landlords must inspect their rentals monthly. (Read the full story here.) 

I give tenants notice before I stop by to change the A/C filter each month. And I use that opportunity to take a quick look around for leaks and other potential problems.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Obama forces political-correctness on landlords

In What You Must Know BEFORE Becoming a Greedy Landlord, I included a section on tenant selection. I wrote:

Most people are honest and hardworking. And I’d venture to say that 96 percent would be terrific tenants. But you need to screen them all to sort out the 4 percent who are potential problems. 

My biggest concern is getting stuck with a tenant who has a history of destroying previous rentals or not paying the rent. And I tell them upfront that if this type of thing shows up, the deal is dead. The tenant pays the background-check fee and gets it back if they pass.

If you are a landlord or plan to buy a rental property, you should know that you cannot base tenant selection solely on race, color, religion, sex, familial status, national origin or disability.

Now the Obama administration says that refusing to rent to someone with a criminal record could be a form of intentional discrimination and could get you in legal hot water.

First, the facts

As many as 100 million U.S. adults — or nearly one-third of the population — have a criminal record of some sort. Our prison population of 2.2 million adults is by far the largest in the world. As of 2012, the U.S. accounted for only about five percent of the world’s population, yet almost one quarter of the world’s prisoners were held in American prisons.

African Americans and Hispanics are arrested, convicted and incarcerated at rates disproportionate to their share of the general population. Across all age groups, the imprisonment rates for African American males is almost six times greater than for White males, and for Hispanic males, it is over twice that for non-Hispanic White males.

Now, Obama’s rationale

President Obama and HUD have concluded that based on the above facts, criminal records create barriers to housing that are likely to have a disproportionate impact on minority home seekers.

What all this means, as I interpret it, is that if you exclude someone because of a prior conviction, you must be able to prove that it was necessary to achieve a substantial, legitimate, nondiscriminatory interest. What’s more, you must apply the same standard to rental applicants of all races and colors.

The sad thing is that this has nothing to do with fixing our broken criminal justice system or the fact that there are too many attorneys running around lose.

It’s simply shoving political correctness down the throats of hardworking Americans who invest their time and money to provide a decent home at a fair price for others to live.  

And Congressman Dan Donovan (R-NY) thinks it’s wrong, too. He blasted HUD’s guidelines in an April 26, letter to Secretary Julian Castro. You can read it here.

The bottom line is that I can deal with someone who has had problems with the law. Everyone deserves a second or third chance. But whether I rent to them should be a decision I make based on what the background check reveals and my gut instincts … not what Obama and Washington bureaucrats determine is correct for my business.  

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

I’m famous!

Well, not exactly.

I was at Home Depot loading up my van for a project my wife roped me into when a guy walked by pushing a cart. “Hey,” he said. “Aren’t you that greedy landlord?”

Thinking he might be some tenant whom I had to evict, I cautiously looked at him.

“I read your book. The one about being a greedy landlord, so I knew you lived in this area. I’m following you on Facebook now. Your picture’s there.” He shook my hand.

“I’ve been in the business for around 30 years best I can remember. Single-family homes, warehouses, industrial, you name it I’ve owned it. You had a few good ideas that I had never tried.”

“But I gotta disagree with you on one thing.”


“Yeah, the part where you say to stay away from condos. I bought my first one 12 years ago. Now I have 15. My wife and I are getting up in years, and we travel quite a bit, so it’s worked out ok. I’ve learned a few lessons along the way, though.”

“I’d love to hear them.”

“I study the HOA documents, including the financials. Boring as hell but important to know what you’re getting into, especially regarding renting out a unit. Then I talk to the sellers to find out how easy it is to get along with the board. But you can’t always believe them.

“I walk or ride my bicycle around the neighborhood. Better than driving around in my truck. Let’s you see the place up close and personal. How well do they maintain the common grounds, the pool area, parking lot? How well do the other owners take care of their places? Are fences falling down? Stuff like that.

“Then if I actually buy the place, I volunteer for the board. Or at the least I show up for the board meetings so I can speak up if they try to sneak something in about rentals. 

"What I’m saying is that the way our area is developing if you eliminate HOAs entirely, you could be missing out on some nice rentals.”

We said our goodbyes, and I thanked him again for reading my book.

While driving home I thought about what he had said ...

Just about all the new homes in our area have HOAs. And I’m always open to an opinion that’s different from mine … after all, that’s what makes a market. But I’ve had the most success with older single-family homes in working-class neighborhoods. So for now I’ll stick to my Rule #4 and avoid condos and HOAs.

For more ideas on buying and managing rental properties, pick up a copy of What You Must Know BEFORE Becoming a Greedy Landlord. It’s available from Barnes & Noble, Booklocker, iTunes, and kobo. You can also order it in paperback and Kindle formats at Amazon.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

101 years old and still a landlord

This 101-year-old lady has long history of being a landlord. Read her story here. 

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Being less sad works for me

It took these brilliant Canadian researchers to discover that money may be a more effective tool for reducing sadness than enhancing happiness. Put another way, money might not make you happy, but it can help you feel less sad.
Less sad works for me. So I’ll take having a few bucks in my pocket over being broke any day.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

How to settle disputes among tenants

A reader sent a question to me, and I thought it would be good to post my answer for all to read.

Hi George,

You often talk about how landlords can deal with problems they’re having with tenants, like collecting past due rent and not taking care of the home. But how about dealing with issues among tenants themselves? I have a situation with two tenants fighting over an air freshener that is getting me stuck in the middle.


Hi Ned,

Best I can do is tell you how I handled something similar …

I once owned a 10-unit, two-story apartment building. One of my tenants was a middle-aged couple who had a disabled adult daughter. The young woman would spend hours a day gathering aluminum cans, plastic bottles, and glass jars from along the streets and trash cans she came across. Then she would bring them back to the apartment where she had set up a table on the patio to sort out her findings.

The tenant living above them called me. She said the goings on downstairs was creating a health hazard. Rats were running around and the smell was terrible.

I confronted the downstairs tenant who explained that once a week he’d load the items in his van and take them to the recycler. It gave his daughter something to do, plus made her feel good that she was making a little money.

Next I had my exterminator check the patio area out. He couldn’t find any trace of rats or any other rodents. The space was clean since the daughter thoroughly hosed it down each day.

Then I went back to the upstairs tenant and relayed the findings. Didn’t matter. She still wanted it to stop. And if I didn’t do something about it, she’d call building and zoning.

The last thing I wanted was some inspector snooping around, because if they look hard enough, they find something wrong.

So I decided to get both tenants to neutral territory … a local coffee shop … to discuss this together.

I had the upstairs tenant explain what she found objectionable. Then I asked the downstairs tenant explain how this activity was therapy for his disabled daughter.

The upstairs tenant wouldn’t budge.

So then I asked her when she found the collecting of recyclables to be the most objectionable.

“When I’m trying to watch my shows. All that noise from their patio.”

“What are your favorite shows?”

“Judge Judy and Judge Brown.”

“I like them too,” said the downstairs tenant.

The two of them back and forth recapping some of their favorite episodes.

I eventually managed to find out that those shows were on from noon until 2:00 pm. And I got the upstairs tenant to agree that if there was no noise coming from the downstairs patio during those hours, she would be happy.

The point here, Ned, is that if tenants are squabbling with each other, you best get in the middle and take control. Otherwise, you have no idea how it could turn out. You could lose one or both of them as tenants or end up in court yourself.

Good luck!

For more ideas on buying and managing rental properties, pick up a copy of What You Must Know BEFORE Becoming a Greedy Landlord. It’s available from Barnes & Noble, Booklocker, iTunes, and kobo. You can also order it in paperback and Kindle formats at Amazon

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

$305 BILLION for long-term care with no end in sight!

According to the Pew Research Center 10,000 Baby Boomers turn 65 every day. And that trend will not slow down for many years to come. Neither will the demand for long-term care services.

In fact, a recent report revealed that Americans spent $305 BILLION in 2015 on long-term care with in-home care leading the way as the most affordable option.

You can read more about the report here. 

Best wishes,


You’ve worked hard all your life ... did without so you could invest for the future ... now you look forward to retiring soon. Traveling, playing golf, or pursing another career. But do you know you are about to face the biggest financial risk in your life? 

Not sure? Then you must read A Boomer’s Guide to Long-term Care. 

Monday, February 29, 2016

One of the wackiest ideas for soaring prescription costs I’ve ever heard

Taking out a mortgage to buy your next dose of meds? That’s what two professors offer as a solution to our country’s health care crisis.

I’m all for a market-based solution to soaring med costs. But this has to be one of the wackiest ideas I’ve ever heard.

The way I see it, Wall Street banks, like JP Morgan Chase and Goldman Sachs, would bundle HCLs as they did with mortgages for sale to investors. Then when the loans blow up because a higher than expected number of patients die, aren’t cured, or can no longer make their payments, taxpayers would get stuck with the bill.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Congress passes permanent charitable giving incentives

Tax filing time is right around the corner. And Congress has passed the PATH Act making two laws that had expired on January 1, 2015, permanent thereby giving you greater incentives to donate to charities this year and beyond:

·       You are now allowed to donate real property for conservation purposes

·       If you are older than 70½, you many now make charitable donations from your IRA directly to a qualified charity, without being taxed on the distribution amount up to $100,000

Interested in more ideas to reduce your income and estate tax bills while helping your favorite charity? Then download a copy of
A Donor’s Guide to Planned Giving

Friday, February 12, 2016

Finally, an expansion on landlord rights!

As a landlord, there are three parts of this bill out of Wisconsin that I really like:

*Allow landlords to dispose of or sell property that trespassers leave behind

*Evict tenants who cause damage without repairing or paying for it 

*Prohibit municipalities from inspecting rental property unless someone files a complaint or the inspection is part of a broader program

Friday, February 5, 2016

Another reason NOT to accept cash from tenants

During your career as a landlord, you’ll likely have a few tenants who pay with cash. Although cash is nice, I prefer checks since that gives us both a record of payment.

But there’s another reason that I never gave much thought to … counterfeit bills.

Do you know how to easily spot one? Truth be known, I don’t. And neither did a landlord in Ohio who says she’s in a hard spot because her tenants paid in fake money.

For more ideas on buying and managing rental properties, pick up a copy of What You Must Know BEFORE Becoming a Greedy Landlord. It’s available in paperback and Kindle formats at Amazon. You can also order it from Barnes & Noble, Booklocker, iTunes, and kobo

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Will you give more in 2016?

Charitable giving is expected to increase by 4.1 percent this year and 4.3 percent next year, according to researchers at the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. Those increases would exceed the five-, 10- and 25-year annualized average rates of growth in total giving, and would fall just below the 40-year average growth rate of 4.4 percent.

The main forces driving this growth are: the projected growth in the U.S. stock market, the rise in personal income, the change in demographics, and the increase in net worths for households and nonprofits.   

To find out who is looking to use their wealth to create a social impact and the tools nonprofits are using to engage these donors, click here for a comprehensive overview and a link to the full report. 

And for ideas on how to give to your favorite charities while saving a bundle on income and estate taxes, download a copy of A Donor’s Guide to Planned Giving for just $8.95.  

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

What tenants want, and how they’ll find it

In many areas of the country demand for rental homes is outpacing supply. But you still need to beat the competition to get the best tenants. So what do today’s tenants want?

A new survey of nearly 120,000 apartment renters offered some answers …
  • 94 percent put fast internet service and parking on the top of the list
  • 80 percent want swimming pools
  • 60 percent prefer to live within walking distance of their jobs 

You can read the full survey here.

If you are an individual landlord with a few rentals, you probably aren’t in a position to add a swimming pool or additional parking. However, the survey did point out something you could easily do …  

The majority of renters (80 percent) visited the apartment community’s or property manager’s web site before they moved in. That should tell you that creating an online presence will give your property a distinct advantage over the landlord who only markets via traditional media, such as classified ads or a sign in the front yard.

It’s not that difficult either ...

You can quickly set up a Facebook page devoted to your rentals. Tumblr and Blogspot are easy to work with, too. Don’t forget Twitter. All of these platforms, and many others, will let you post photos and list the amenities you offer the moment your rental is available. You could include a Google Map of the property, a video of the neighborhood, and much more. And better yet … it’s all free!

For more ideas on buying and managing rental properties, pick up a copy of What You Must Know BEFORE Becoming a Greedy Landlord. It’s available in paperback and Kindle formats at Amazon. You can also order it from Barnes & Noble, Booklocker, iTunes, and kobo

Monday, January 25, 2016

Landlord disgusted with Section 8 housing

An Omaha landlord tried to help by renting to tenants who get assistance from the Omaha Housing Authority, but those tenants left his property a mess and the government won't help clean it up. Now he’s fed up. (You can read the full story here.) You can’t blame him. However, if he had understood the rules of Section 8 housing, as I point out in What You Must Know BEFORE Becoming a Greedy Landlord, he might not have found himself in this pickle. 
The Housing Choice Vouchers Program (Section 8) is the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s primary program to provide housing for Americans who are living in poverty, as well as the elderly and disabled.
People who receive Section 8 vouchers find their own rental housing and use the vouchers they receive from their housing agency to help pay the rent. Basically, the voucher means that the Federal Government will pay a specific amount of the rent directly to the landlord.
Ultimately, it is the voucher holder's decision whether to rent your property. And as the landlord, you would screen the Section 8 voucher holder just as you would any other prospective tenant.
The advantage of renting to these tenants is that HUD guarantees you’ll receive part of the rent. Most Housing Authorities deposit the check directly into your account. And if the tenant can’t pay their portion because of a financial hardship, the government will make up the difference. Still, if the tenant is simply trying to stiff you for their portion of the rent, you’re on your own to collect.
Simply put, just because they are on a government list doesn’t mean they’ll be good tenants. It just means they have Section 8 vouchers.
For more ideas on buying and managing rental properties, pick up a copy of What You Must Know BEFORE Becoming a Greedy Landlord. It’s available in paperback and Kindle formats at Amazon. You can also order it from Barnes & Noble, Booklocker, iTunes, and kobo