Rental Home Net Income Depends on Prudent Budgeting

Owning a rental property owes its popularity to the distinctive financial attributes it offers investors. Like a dividend-producing stock, it’s a holding that stands to produce a regular income stream. It’s also a real asset in the truest sense of the word—one with solid collateral value. For adroit rental property investors, it’s also an asset that can build value over time.

When it comes to quantifying an rental property’s income-producing potential, after an investor has estimated the projected rental stream, there follows a less sunny exercise: expenses need to be taken into account. If a professional management service is going to be part of the equation, they will supply reliable budget parameters. If you will be managing the property yourself, doing a thorough job of nailing down this—the management budget—is as crucial to coming up an accurate bottom line as was projecting income.

Unless you are prepared to be at the beck and call of your renters 24/7, it’s a good idea to budget funds for a skilled general maintenance person. The ideal candidate can deal with a myriad of issues, from electricity outages to clogged garbage disposals. If the rental property is an apartment building or set of condos, it’s often a good idea for the maintenance pro to be kept on retainer. For single-property rentals, this handyman (or gal) can usually be hired on a job-by-job basis.

Specifics for every property differ, but it’s generally considered prudent to reserve between 10%-15% of gross rental income for maintenance and repairs. This part of your budget includes remuneration for your maintenance person. Getting a rental home back to status quo isn’t always easy—especially because it’s in both the landlord’s and renters’ interest to place a premium on speedy rehabilitation. That’s not cheap!

There are also two words that belong in any rental property management budget: property insurance. The right formula may include a sizeable deductible number (you’ve already budgeted an ample reserve for lesser emergencies), but it’s also vital to take into account the possibility of any large and unexpected emergencies that you or your maintenance person can’t handle alone. It may be common business wisdom, but over large parts of the country, this past harsh winter once again demonstrated the wisdom of the practice. Tenants are encouraged to insure their own property, both inside and outside the rental property, but the landlord’s policy should cover repairs to the entire structure, any small sheds on the property, landscaping damage, and the like.

This is the traditional time of year when many of the most promising investment properties go on the market. If you are looking to the future—a future that includes owning a lucrative rental property—now is the time to start looking…and to give me a call!

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