Countdown to Closing

My offer was accepted on rental #4 and now I’m in countdown-to-closing mode.   Because I want to start collecting rent ASAP, there are things that I do while waiting to close that take the pressure off on the backend.  I know some people will think, “What if the closing doesn’t happen?  Then you’ve done all this work for nothing.”  Sure, that’s a risk, but I’ve never had a closing fall through, almost get pushed back, yes, but never fall through.  So, if worst comes to worst, my pre-planning will be pushed back a bit.

Part of that pre-planning starts when I view the property.  I go through each strong potential property and video as much of the house as I can with notes to myself on what needs to be updated or renovated.   For the videos of the houses that I really liked but didn’t buy, I take screenshots of the parts of the houses that I liked for my reference for next time (i.e. a really good kitchen configuration or wall color that I liked).  The ones that I just didn’t like get deleted.

The below video is one that I made on the property that I just bought.  It’s a little lengthy but will give you an idea on what I look for in a property and what I think ought to be changed before I get rent it out.  My realtor is also an investor hence the side talk about smoothing out the ceiling in the living room.  Also, this video really only outlines the things that I need to change so even though it seems as if I’m harshing on the property, this is my second walk-through of the day and I had lots of nice things to say in the first go-around (otherwise I wouldn’t have bought it)!

With the video of my house that I bought, I make a list of what needs to be done and what materials I need to make that happen.  For the repairs that I don’t or can’t tackle, I call my various contractors and put them on the schedule for the earliest day they can work after closing.

In this house, I want my electrician to install recessed lighting in the living room since there are no overhead lights.  He said he can come 2 days after closing.  My handyman is coming the next day to patch holes from the electrician and to install a new kitchen backsplash.  Perfect!

When I decide on which repairs or renovations to do, I always look to get the biggest bang for my buck in the search for universal appeal.  In this house, the kitchen backsplash is an aqua color that clashes with the brown toned granite countertops.  I polled my realtor, the lead inspector, and house inspector and they all said that it’s got to go!  They would never rent the house with such a “feminine” color for the backsplash.  Same goes for the door that they thought was too girly although I really like the door color.  Because those are quick fixes, both will get a neutral facelift.   The backsplash will be either a white or taupe subway tile and the door will be painted red.

Goodbye beautiful blue door!

Staging the house is next.  The last house that I bought already had beautiful staging furniture and when I called the seller a couple months later to talk about who she used for staging, she told me that she did it all herself with stuff she already owns.  Genius!

Seriously, how nice is this staging!

So as soon as the repairs are done on this house, I will shop my own house for staging furniture and hire a couple of my daughter’s classmates who own a truck to haul the furniture to the house for staging.  I’ve already used these guys and they are cheap and efficient.  A real estate photographer is scheduled an hour later to take photos of the staged areas, then the furniture is hauled back to my house right afterward.  I know this sounds cumbersome, and it is, but there is a big difference between a tenant looking at an empty house online and one that is beautifully staged with upscale furniture.  I want to attract upscale tenants so the place has to look the part.  Also, stagers in my area cost about $1,000 to stage a living room and master bedroom.  My way costs about $150 to pay the kids for their muscle and truck and I know that it is staged the way I want it.

What a difference staging and professional photos make! This is another one of my rentals where I didn’t use either. Never again!

Also, the photographer costs about $150 and with that I get photos that I can use forever in my rental listing.  I never change anything inherent about the properties, so even if down the road I need to change the wall color, for example, it will still be a neutral tone and look almost identical to the photos.  Same goes for carpet.

My goal in doing all this pre-planning before I even close is to get the house on the rental market as quickly as possible.  With my last house, I had a tenant within a week of closing and although she was not the tenant who ended up moving in (LONG STORY), if I had not been ready as soon as we closed, the house would’ve sat for much longer.

Also, because mortgage payments don’t start until a month (or more) after you buy the house, getting someone to rent ASAP is like a getting a month of rent for FREE.  So, pre-plan before closing, people!  It’s worth it in time and money.

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