Your Atlanta Property Management Company Explains Real Estate Investing

As the top Atlanta property management company, we often advise individuals who want to get started in real estate investing. We hear questions like, Should I invest in a single-family rental home or a multi-family property? How do I find the right rental property? Or, How do I know I will make money on my investment property? Get your real estate investment questions answered below and start investing with confidence.

Single-Family Rental Home vs. Multi-Family Property

Will a single-family rental home or a multi-family property yield a better return on investment? The truth is, both are great investment plans and both have serious pros and cons to consider. Specialized Property Management Atlanta is a leader in the management of single-family rental homes, but that isn’t all we do. We also have experience managing multi-family properties such as duplexes, triplexes, and four-family homes. From our experience, here is how each home type can benefit you.

Multi-Family Property

  • More units usually means more rental income each month. 
  • One vacancy isn’t an emergency because costs are offset by the other units.
  • Certain costs, such as a roof replacement, are lower because they are charged per property rather than per unit.

Single-Family Rental Home

  • Typically located in nicer, family-friendly neighborhoods.
  • Tenants usually stay longer in a single-family rental. Reference your property manager for details.
  • Single-family homes appreciate faster than multi-family units.

What about the downsides of owning a single-family or multi-family property? Here are the obstacles some property owners encounter with each type of investment.

Multi-Family Property

  • Multi-family units don’t age as well, meaning your cash flow could be eaten up by maintenance costs over time.
  • These units tend to experience more turnover, which is costly.
  • Multi-family properties do not appreciate as fast, so if you plan on selling the property eventually you may not make as much on your investment.

Single-Family Rental Home

  • You may not make as much rental income per month as you would make with all units of a multi-family property fully rented.
  • Turnover and vacancy days are expensive, without any backup income from your other units to offset costs.
  • Maintenance and other expenses on several single-family rental homes will cost more than maintenance on one multi-family property.

There are obviously a lot of pros and cons to consider when buying a single-family or multi-family property. For more information about the factors we listed above, contact our property managers today. 

Tips On Financing From Your Atlanta Property Management Company

If you are planning to finance your real estate investment, there are a few things you should know about financing a single-family home vs financing a multi-family property.

  • Personal vs Investment Financing: Financing a rental property is different than financing your personal residence. If you do not intend to occupy the home you are buying, your mortgage lender may require a larger down payment, or shorter repayment period. In most cases, you cannot use your future rental income to help qualify for your loan. Some rental property owners get around these rules by holding onto their personal residence to use as a single-family rental home when they move. In this case, they can easily qualify for a new mortgage on their new personal residence and begin renting out their old home as soon as they are gone.
  • Number of Mortgages: If you are considering financing multiple single-family rentals, reference your mortgage company’s policy on limits to how many mortgages you can hold. Many mortgage companies limit property owners to 10 mortgages. Keep in mind that financing a multi-family property is done with just one mortgage. That means if you have 10 multi-family properties with 5 units each, you could have 50 rental units. If you have 10 single-family rental homes, you have to stop expanding until you pay off at least one of the mortgages.

For more information on financing your rental property check out this article by Bankrate here.

A Note On Real Estate Trends

It is impossible to predict the future of real estate, but after over 30 years in rental property management, we can provide insight into current trends and how to take advantage of them. When we first started out as an Atlanta property management company multi-family units and large apartment buildings were popular rentals. Individuals who invested in single-family homes typically flipped the homes instead of holding onto them for rental income. These days, single-family rental homes are becoming more popular, especially for young families. Investors are realizing that single-family rental homes also offer specific benefits such as:

  • Tenants take care of a single-family rental home better, viewing it as their home rather than just a place to live.
  • Tenants take care of certain aspects, such as landscaping and utilities, reducing your costs as a property owner.
  • More renters are seeking out single-family homes because they provide the freedom of renting with the space and lifestyle of home ownership.
  • Single-family rental homes are easier to sell when you are ready to cash out your investment.
  • There is less turnover in single-family rental homes than multi-family properties.

Real estate investors are learning that single-family homes tend to be a more stable investment path. Investing in a single-family rental home can provide you with an excellent long-term financial strategy.

Find the Right Property With Help From Your Atlanta Property Management Company

When you’re ready to start looking at investment properties how do you know where to start? As local real estate investment experts, our team can help you find the perfect rental property. To start your search, here are some tips:

  • Location, location, location. Make sure the property you buy is in an attractive location, close to good schools, shopping, and transportation. 
  • Check HOA rules before you buy. Some HOAs have a limit to the number of rental homes operating in their neighborhood. Check HOA bylaws before you purchase a rental property.
  • Look for attractive features such as a standard layout, 3 or more bedrooms, laundry hook-ups, and a fenced-in yard.
  • Properties that are over 15 years old will need more maintenance than younger homes. Try to find a home less than 15 years old, and talk to your property manager about how much you need to set aside for yearly maintenance costs. 

For more tips on finding the right rental property near you, contact our team of real estate experts.

Making Money On Your Investment

How can you ensure you will make money on your single-family rental? References from your tenant, pricing your home competitively, and responding promptly to your tenant’s calls are all ideas thrown around online. However, these ideas don’t give the full picture of what goes into making a rental investment a success. At Specialized Property Management Atlanta we have almost 30 years of experience managing rental properties. We know that a successful rental property starts with avoiding these common landlord mistakes:

  • Extended vacancies: Extended vacancies are expensive. Avoid them by pricing your rental correctly, advertising efficiently, and getting your home rent ready before showing.
  • Poor property selection: Buying the right rental property will help you bring in a wide variety of applicants.
  • Choosing unqualified tenants: Proper tenant screening, including background and credit checks, will help you place a reliable tenant.
  • Poor tenant interactions: Managing a rental property is about relationships. Unpleasant interactions with tenants causes turnover.
  • Inefficient maintenance: Overlooking needed maintenance, or ignoring your tenant’s maintenance requests, results in expensive issues with your rental home and angry tenants.
  • Inadequate rent collecting: Strict rent policy enforcement is necessary for any successful Atlanta property management company. Electronic record-keeping makes life as a property owner much easier.
  • Regulatory violations: There are laws and codes for almost every aspect of investment real estate. Violating regulations can lead to expensive fines.
  • Failing to perform property inspections: Inspecting your rental property quarterly is recommended to ensure lease compliance and catch small maintenance issues before they turn into big problems.

By far the most common mistake you can make as a property owner is not seeking help when you need it. Managing rental property isn’t as easy as it looks on the surface, and even small mistakes can end up costing you a lot. Avoiding these costly mistakes is the key to a successful real estate investment.

Call Specialized Property Management Atlanta Today

At Specialized Property Management Atlanta, your real estate investment is in good hands. As we mentioned above, Specialized Property Management Atlanta started when single-family rental homes were not a popular investment choice. By starting then, we were able to develop a specialized management style attuned to the needs of single-family rental homeowners and tenants. While other Atlanta property management companies are just getting started in this growing market, we have already perfected our processes. Our experienced professionals and proven processes will ensure you experience the best parts of real estate investing, without worrying about making mistakes.

Get started today by calling us for a rental quote at 404-596-8454.

Atlanta Property Managers Share Why You Should Rethink Your Pet Policy

Do you allow pets at your rental property? In the past, rental property owners were told pets bring problems. However, things are changing, more renters own pets, and most property owners are rethinking their pet policies. In addition, you may be required to allow certain animals under the Fair Housing Act. As your Atlanta property managers, we want to encourage you to revisit your pet policy to determine whether you need to make a change.

Pet-Friendly Homes Appeal to More Renters

The American Veterinary Medical Association reports that over 50% of American households own a pet of some kind (source). Dogs, cats, birds, and other pets are often considered family members. More renters are looking for pet-friendly homes, and having a pet policy that does not allow for their animal is a dealbreaker. Allowing pets in your rental home will mean your rental appeals to a wider variety of tenants, and may help reduce vacancy days. 

At Specialized Property Management Atlanta, we specialize in single-family home rentals, which are more likely to have space for a pet. A small apartment is not always ideal for pet owners, a single-family home with a backyard is a better fit. If your home appeals to families with pets, you should consider a pet policy that allows for some or all types of pets. 

How Much Will Pets Add to Maintenance Costs?

When you rent out your home, there are certain maintenance costs on which you should count. For example, turnover costs usually include professional carpet cleaning, paint touch-ups, re-keying, and advertising. Regular, cost-effective maintenance such as cleaning out dryer vents and checking fire extinguishers are needed even in the middle of a tenant’s lease. And, although you never know when an emergency maintenance issue will strike, setting money aside for emergencies will help you be prepared when one comes along. A good rule of thumb, according to this post, is to set aside 1-2 months of rent to cover yearly maintenance needs. For a home that rents out for $1,500 per month, set aside $1,500-$3,000 specifically to address maintenance costs. Your property manager can help you determine exactly how much to set aside for yearly maintenance.

How do maintenance costs change when you allow pets in your rental home? You may have heard rental home horror stories of pets who caused thousands of dollars worth of damage. Dogs tear up the landscaping, cats scratch walls or brand new carpet to shreds. While these scenarios are certainly possible, our experience as Atlanta property managers has shown stories like this happen rarely. The fact is that maintenance costs will increase, but not by much. Most wear and tear caused by pets is already addressed when you make the unit ready for a new tenant. 

One of the most common concerns when allowing pets in your rental home is how often you will need to replace the carpet. The National Association of Home Builders provides this general guide to the life expectancy of your home’s components. With regular maintenance, carpets in a personal residence should last 8-10 years. In general, rental homes need new carpets more often, typically every 6-8 years, even if there are no pets. When you allow pets you may need to replace them slightly sooner, around the 6-7 year mark. 

Pet Deposits, Pet Rent, and Pet Fees

Extra wear and tear on your rental home is easily offset by pet deposits, pet rent, or pet fees. What is the difference between these types of charges? Here is a brief overview of how each type works.

  • Pet Deposit: You may choose to charge a pet deposit when you rent out your home to a pet owner. This deposit is similar to a security deposit, covering damage caused by your tenant’s pet, and refundable after they move out. Typical pet deposits are around $200, though you can choose an amount you think is fair.
  • Pet Rent: Instead of, or in addition to, a pet deposit you can charge your tenant pet rent. Pet rent is a monthly charge for having a pet in the home, usually around $20-$60 per month.
  • Pet Fees: A pet fee can be charged to your tenant when they move in. It is more like an application fee than a deposit because it is non-refundable. A pet fee does not need to be used for damages caused by pets. Pet fees vary, but average around $300.

It is up to each individual property owner to decide if they will charge a pet deposit, pet rent, pet fee, or some combination of the three. Not sure which option you should choose for your Atlanta rental property? The property managers at Specialized Property Management Atlanta will explain each scenario and help you decide which one will work best for your property.

What Atlanta Property Managers Need to Know About Fair Housing Laws

The Fair Housing Act was passed by President Lyndon Baines Johnson in 1968. This act protects those seeking housing from discrimination based on race, color, sex, national origin, religion, family status, and disability. Everyone should have equal access to housing, and the Fair Housing Act ensures this. It is important to be aware of the law and how it pertains to service animals. Ignorance of the law is not an excuse for violating it. 

Individuals with mental or physical disabilities may require a service animal. Service animals help with everyday tasks, such as guide dogs for the blind, or an animal to help retrieve items for someone in a wheelchair. They also provide emotional support to alleviate the emotional effects of a disability. Service animals are not pets, thus a no pet policy would not apply to them. In fact, allowing a service animal in your rental home is considered a reasonable accommodation for those with disabilities. Reasonable accommodations in housing must be made in order to offer everyone equal access to housing, and equal enjoyment in their home. Rejecting an application because your prospective tenant has a service animal is a violation of the Fair Housing Act, no matter your what policy you have for pets when you rent out your home. 

Requirements and Situations that Affect Service Animals

While you cannot deny an applicant based solely on their service animal, there are several requirements and situations the property owner and prospective tenant must consider. 

  • When a request is made to allow a service animal and it is not apparent to the property manager or owner why it is needed, then reliable, disability-related information must be provided to support the request. 
  • As a property manager or owner, if you believe a service animal would cause a financial or administrative burden, or change the essential operations of the home, you must demonstrate this.
  • If you believe a service animal will be a threat to the health and safety of others, or cause damage to property, and there are no accommodations to reduce this threat, you must demonstrate this.

Be aware that reasonable accommodations for service animals may also mean a request to waive pet fees and pet deposits. To learn more about the Fair Housing Act and HUD rules for reasonable accommodations, visit this page.

Atlanta Property Managers Can Help You Review Your Pet Policy

If you are considering a change to your pet policy contact your property manager. Not all pet policies are the same, and as a property owner, you decide what kinds of pets you allow in your rental home. You may choose to allow some, but not all pets. Many property owners have breed restrictions, weight restrictions, or a limit on the number of pets allowed. For example, you may choose to not allow dogs over 25 pounds. Some of the common large and aggressive dog breeds that are restricted from rental homes and apartments are Great Danes, Doberman Pinschers, Rottweilers, and Mastiffs. Remember when creating your policy that breed and weight restrictions do not apply to service animals protected under the Fair Housing Act.

At Specialized Property Management Atlanta, we have extensive knowledge and experience in the local Atlanta rental market. Our property managers will be able to advise you on whether allowing pets could result in fewer vacancy days. If you choose to allow pets, we can also help you decide how much your pet deposit, pet fees, or pet rent should be.

Before You Rent Out Your Home Contact Specialized Property Management Atlanta

Specialized Property Management Atlanta is a full-service property management company. Our job is to make sure your rental home, tenants, and their pets are well cared for. Before signing a lease, we will make sure your prospective tenants understand your pet policy and any fees. We abide by all rules laid out in the Fair Housing Act, protecting you from violations. Your property managers will enforce your pet policies at the beginning of the lease, and perform regular property inspections to ensure lease compliance and preventative maintenance. At the end of your tenant’s lease, we will evaluate the property and disperse security and pet deposits as needed. With Specialized Property Management Atlanta, you never need to worry about your rental property or tenants.

Want to learn more about the services we offer? Visit our services page here, or our FAQ page here. Request a quote from our Atlanta property managers by simply calling our office at 404-596-8454.

An Easier Way To Pay Rent With Your Atlanta Property Management Company

With over 30 years in Atlanta property management, we know that paying rent can sometimes be tricky, for both tenants and property owners. There isn’t always an option that works perfectly for everyone, especially if you want to make a secure payment using cash. That is why we are introducing a tenant program that makes things easier for everyone involved. With our RentMoney program for tenants, it is now possible to turn cash payments into secure ACH electronic transactions. Now you can pay your rent in cash at a convenient location, and your payment will be instantly added to your tenant ledger. Find out more about this new option for rent payments below.

What Is RentMoney?

RentMoney is a new option for tenants to use when paying rent. Other options, such as echecks, typically require access to your bank account. This program allows you to make secure cash payments by logging into your tenant portal, creating a payment voucher, and taking the voucher to a convenient location. No more driving to the Specialized Property Management Atlanta office to make your rent payment. Pay on your time, with cash, through RentMoney.

How Do I Pay Rent to My Atlanta Property Management Company Through RentMoney?

As a tenant, how do you utilize RentMoney? Every tenant has access to a personalized tenant portal through Specialized Atlanta. This portal allows you to easily pay rent if you choose an electronic payment method. If, like many of our tenants, you prefer to pay in cash, RentMoney allows you to create a voucher in your portal. Here is how to create a voucher:

  1. Logon to your tenant portal.
  2. Select the “My Payments” tab, scroll to the “Make a One-Time Payment” option.
  3. On the “Select Payment Method” screen choose RentMoney.
  4. The next screen allows you to choose how much you want to pay, either the full balance or a partial balance (if partial payments are accepted). Choose how much you will pay then click “Cash Payment Voucher” and print your voucher, or save a copy onto your mobile device.
  5. Take your voucher and cash to a convenient payment center near you and hand your voucher to the employee to pay rent for your rental home in Atlanta. 
  6. The employee will process your payment and give you a receipt.

When you have paid your rent through RentMoney, our property managers are alerted and the transaction is recorded on our ledger instantly. 

How Does RentMoney Benefit Tenants?

Cash payments are easier than ever with RentMoney. No more trekking back and forth to the Specialized Property Management Atlanta office during our office hours to pay your rent. Choose a location near your home or work to make rent payments on your schedule. Locations are easy to find, simply click on the “Search Payment Centers” button when you are on the payment screen to search for locations near you. Over 25,000 retail locations participate including WalMart and Kroger stores.

Is RentMoney Really Secure?

RentMoney is the most secure way to pay your rent with cash. When you bring your voucher and your cash to a payment center you can be sure it will be immediately credited to your account with our Atlanta property management company. Each voucher includes the Biller name (RentMoney), your account number, name, and total payment amount (your payment plus a bill payment fee). For security, your voucher includes your account code, which is a unique number. This code is never changed or used for a different tenant – it is what we use to record your payment in the tenant ledger.

Frequently Asked Questions About RentMoney

Have more questions about RentMoney? Here are our most commonly asked questions and their answers. If you don’t see your question listed here, feel free to contact us. We want to make the process of paying rent as easy as possible.

Q. What do I need to bring to the payment center?

A. You only need your RentMoney voucher and U.S. currency. In addition, it is helpful to know the current balance owed for your rental home in Atlanta. The employee at the payment center will not have access to any of the information on your tenant portal. 

Q. What happens if the employee makes a mistake typing in my information?

A. Check your receipt as soon as your payment is processed. If you notice the information is incorrect, contact Specialized Property Management Atlanta immediately with your name, your account code, and your receipt.

Q. How do I find a payment center near me?

A. When creating your voucher, click on the “Search Payment Centers” button on the payment screen. Search for centers by zip code. Alternatively, visit this page and select “RentMoney” under “Biller.”

Choose Specialized Property Management Atlanta

RentMoney is just one way we streamline property management so everyone benefits. To learn more about our Atlanta property management company, call us today. We can help you find the perfect home to rent, or help you manage your investment property. Simply call 404-596-8454 to get started today!