Well, Mr. ODA didn’t like that I shared I didn’t know where our money was last month. They’re all kinds of Treasury accounts, and I’n just logging the transactions and leaving him to it. 🙂 I don’t have a lot of bandwidth these days, but I’m learning to juggle 3 kids and our finances.
We bought a new van this month. We’ve been wanting a new one for a while now. We bought our 2017 Pacifica in September 2020. It was a great deal, and it was a necessity as we were about to spend 7 weeks “homeless” and AirBnB/couch hoping. The car had some defects. We decided we’d keep an eye out for a newer version. Suddenly, Mr. ODA found a good deal on a 2020 Pacifica that had more options than we were actually looking for. We drove to Ohio about 36 hours later. They made us a good deal for our trade-in, and we went home with a new van! We put some of the purchase on two credit cards and then the balance with a personal check.
We’re currently paying close attention to credit card deadlines and our savings account. Where I used to pay a credit card bill almost after the statement closed so that it wasn’t hanging out there and I wouldn’t accidentally miss a deadline, I’m now leaving money in our savings account as long as possible. Our savings account is now earning 4% on the balance, so we’re seeing a significant amount of interest each month. I’m juggling managing our bills as close to their due date as possible, while also projecting future bills necessary since there’s a limit of 6 transfers out of the savings account per month.
All that was to point out that our credit card balances are high right now because of the van purchase, but the credit card statement hasn’t closed yet. Instead of paying the credit card balances down right now, the money is sitting in savings earning interest for 4-6 weeks between the purchase, to the statement closing, to the statement’s due date. More directly, we put $3,000 on one credit card for the van purchase. That was on 2/7. That statement, once it closes, will not have a due date until 4/20. That means that the money put on the credit card can sit in savings earning interest for about 70 days.
We also had to pay the initial payment for the restoration services on the rental that had a burst pipe. So while the insurance company sent us a check to cover the cost of this work, it’s still $17k sitting on our credit card, not being paid until the last minute. I should also note that our cash balance is inflated by about $50k because it’s the money from the insurance company that we’re waiting to pay the contractor as milestones are completed.
Had I seemed nonchalant about the plan? Because I’m definitely not. 🙂 I need to stay on top of how many transfers happen per month out of the savings account (while Mr. ODA randomly pulls money for investments), and not miss any deadlines and cost us interest charges or late payment marks on our credit. It’s stressful! Since we’re not doing anything that requires our credit to be pulled right now, it’s fine. If we were having our credit checked, having multiple cards nearly maxed out would be a problem. But we know we have the cash available to pay off all the credit cards if we needed to.
I finally got through to someone on the issue with the improperly installed water heater. He says he submitted all the paperwork to send us a check for $200 to cover the plumber we paid to fix their issue. I haven’t seen any paperwork, nor have I received the check, but I’ll keep it on my radar and follow up in a couple of weeks.
I made all the decisions on the restoration of our flooded house. We’re expecting to hear a timeline for work to start next week, and then it’ll take about 40 working days to get the work done.
I paid a warranty for termites on another house. We had an infestation when we purchased the house, but we didn’t pay the warranty information. Our tenants found swarmers, and when we called to ask about treatment, they said they’d let us backpay the warranty and invoke that. We have a good relationship with this company and appreciated that offer, so we’re staying on top of the warranty payments now. The payment is $98 per year.
We received a surprise in the mail – the tenant had turned off the electric in the flooded house back on January 12th. The power company is supposed to notify me. I received an email on February 6th notifying me of an action on the account. So this was in my name from 1/12 to 2/1 for me to be billed $255 without my knowledge. Not to mention, there’s a bill hanging out there from 2/2 until the present that I’ll also get billed for. Mr. ODA sent our property management excerpts from the lease indicating that the utilities must be in their name for the entirety of the lease, that they’re responsible for this bill, and that they must get it back in their name immediately. We’ll see how that plays out.
I picked up the keys from our property manager for the 3 houses I took over managing. I also worked on a rental here in town this week, which took about an hour including travel time, and I have another to work on later this week, which will be about 2 hours worth of work.
I sent a prospective tenant the pre-application we have, which he passed, so I sent him the application to submit. If all goes well, we’ll have that house re-rented with no vacancy period.
We have 3 leases that end at the end of April. We put a requirement that tenants give us 60 days notice, or that we give 60 days notice of any changes. That means that these leases need acknowledgement by the end of this month. So I ran the analysis on those 3 houses. We decided to increase the rent on 2 of them by $50 per month, each, and we’ll keep another house the same since it was increased last year. One house actually had an increase last year, but that house is well below market value, so we’re offering them to continue the lease with an increase because if they were to move out, we could get even more from the house based on it’s size and demographics. The 2 houses we’re increasing have a property manager, so she’s responsible for notification and signing an addendum before the end of the month. But once again, I need to manage the property manager and ensure we have action on time.
Every once in a while, I’m juggling a few rental property items, and I like to share the effort being put in. While it may be taking some of my energy now, it’s not something that happens often. Usually, Spring is our busy time because we have to manage leases ending or renewing. We have upticks in maintenance requests at the change of seasons each Fall and Spring (usually a plumbing or HVAC issue). For most months though, we don’t have to do much. I’m currently in a season (somewhat self-imposed) where we are busy and the rentals are requiring more-than-usual attention. Here’s that story.
One of the houses that I took over management for didn’t pay rent. I had to reach out to her on the morning of the 6th. She then asked to have until the end of the day. I told her that was fine, but if she didn’t pay by the end of the day, she’d have to pay a late fee (which is technically required after the 5th); she paid a few minutes after that message.
Another tenant let me know that they were sick last month, so they needed more time for rent. I let them know that was fine, and not to worry about the late fee. They paid a day earlier than when they expected to be able to pay.
Interestingly, several lease-related actions have been taken. I had to get 3 leases executed because I took over management of those properties (more on that below).
I had one tenant let me know that she won’t be renewing. She has been in that house since July 15, 2018. She sent me a text letting me know that she’ll be moving out on April 30th. Funny because her lease goes through June 30th of each year. But since she’s been there for so long, gave us ample notice, and so politely picked the end of a month, we’ll just go with it. It’s a 2 bedroom house, so we were surprised she spent as long as she did there. The first tenant we had in this house put us in contact with the current tenant. Ironically, the first tenant had recently asked if we had any 2 bedrooms coming available. At the time, I didn’t. But now we have the same house coming available, so I let her know. The person she knows looking for a house is interested in living there, so we’re going through the application process now!
I had another tenant tell me that they want to renew for another year. It’s for a house that I just took over management for. Since I don’t know them at this point, I didn’t want to agree immediately. Their notification deadline is March 31st, so we’ll revisit that renewal next month.
Then I had another tenant ask if they could renew. Their lease term isn’t up until April 30th, and their notification deadline is the end of February. Every year, they let me know their status some time in January. We reviewed their lease terms and decided to keep their rent at the same rate for another year. We typically increase $50 every two years, and their increase was at the beginning of this current term. She did play their hand and tell me they wanted to stay because rent is so expensive elsewhere, but we’re nice people. 🙂
WATER HEATER ISSUE
At the beginning of January, we received notice from a tenant in VA that their hot water wasn’t working. Being that it was really cold, it wasn’t surprising. However, the unit was installed in August 2021, so we weren’t happy to hear that. We called the company that installed the unit. They scheduled an appointment for the next morning. When the tech didn’t show, our property manager called them and was told they suspended all plumbing jobs and the scheduler shouldn’t have scheduled the job. So our manager got another guy out there that afternoon and discovered that the wires weren’t installed correctly. His report stated: Dispatched to home due to home not having hot water. Found burnt wires in electrical access due to improper installation. Two unlike wire materials, not joined together correctly. Cut and removed burnt wires and reinstalled the correct way.
Now I’m trying to get in touch with someone at the installation company to address this. We’d like our $200 reimbursed for having to call a different plumber out. I called to complain on 1/20. I was told that a service manager would have to call me back. No one did. I called this morning and was told I’d get a call back in a half hour. No one called this morning. At 1:15, I got a call from some guy who poorly introduced himself and wanted into the property right now. Um, no. I politely told him that I didn’t appreciate the way he was talking to me and that I’d speak with someone else. I called someone back in the office, and she had a different guy call me. I emailed him the paperwork from the other plumber. He agreed to process the reimbursement, and am now waiting on that confirmation.
We’ve had some issues with our property manager in KY. Perhaps their actions are completely normal, but they haven’t met our expectations. We were asked to reimburse a tenant for a high water bill because they dragged their feet on timely fixing it, and then took two attempts to even fix it. Our contract deleted the automatic 10% uncharge on all contracted services (meaning, if they hired a plumber, and the plumber charged them $100, then they’d charge me $110). We argued at contract negotiation that their hiring of a plumber is covered in their monthly management fee and removed it from the contract. Their system automatically adds the 10%, which is understandable, but I would have to review every single invoice and ask for the 10% to be returned. That’s a lot of managing-the-property-manager.
Then we had a huge issue with them last May. I covered the first part of the issue through the Tenant Abandonment post. The second part of the issue was how their accounting manager handled the rest of the conversation. They took their management fee off of the security deposit. I had questioned this on the last property turnover, and they agreed to give me that money back. I thought it was the same across the board – that it was an accident in their system, with it counting as “income” so they took their share. The conversation disintegrated from there. They claimed that since the security deposit was being applied as rent for the month the tenant abandoned, so they could take their share. I said that a security deposit’s purpose is to cover damages, and there was A LOT of damage that I need to pay for, so I shouldn’t be at their whim to decide how the security deposit is going to be applied (not to mention it was their lack of management and effort that created the vacancy). He then started to claim that their level of effort was more than the $90 I was arguing over (1. false. 2. that’s not how my paying you works… what about all those months I paid you $90 for you to do literally nothing). It turns out that I put all my effort to respond to this person’s initial statement of “This security deposit for the tenant has been applied toward rent.” While he said that, that wasn’t actually the reason they took a fee from it, and in actuality, our agreement would have allowed them to take their commission out of the security deposit. But where the relationship really went sour was when this accounting manager started looking through all our charges and decided to hit us with two $500 charges, that we had already paid. We got the owner involved, stating we didn’t appreciate this “desk audit” to try to “get us” on something, even though we had already paid it. Mr. ODA went to meet with them, and everyone apologized for this one person’s brash actions, but that was the last straw for me.
We now live here, so I can take on management of the houses instead of paying people who I have to argue with every time a charge comes in. Unfortunate for the timing, we then purchased a house that we put a lot of work into over the summer, and then I was very pregnant, so we didn’t terminate the agreement immediately. Mr. ODA decided that the beginning of the new year would be a clean break, but by the time I got the letter out, it didn’t terminate until January 31st. They’ve been great about turning over all the finances and information thus far.
So as of February 1st, I took on 3 more properties to manage. I had to establish my own KY lease agreements, which meant referring to the leases currently in place through the property manager and my own templates from VA. I then had to meet the tenants for their signatures. I went to each of the houses, which was a reason to see their living conditions. I didn’t call it an inspection, and I didn’t require a tour of the house. I simply used the initial experience as a gauge on how they’re treating the property. For one, we turned it over after the tenant abandonment, so we didn’t expect it to be too bad. But we hadn’t seen the other two houses since 2019.
Over two days, I met with the tenants and executed the new leases. Two of the meetings were a half hour each, and one was a while longer because we were talking about some of the issues they had with the management company’s maintenance. Of course, meeting with tenants in person usually ends with a to-do list on my end. So once I got home, I put together their leases and the to-do lists for me. I now need to schedule going out there to do their fixes.
On December 27th, I received a call from one of my tenants letting me know that water was pouring out of the house next door (that’s also ours). The tenants had turned off the heat… when it was 6 degrees for 3 days straight. The water heater is in the attic and a pipe cracked during the freeze. When it started to thaw, the constant water running filled up the house. Our property manager went to the house and found two inches of water throughout the entire house, along with a collapsed ceiling in the master bathroom. Over the next two days, the ceiling in the adjacent laundry room and the master bedroom also collapsed.
The tenant’s renters insurance was responsible for removing their belongings. They created quite the speed bump, and the tenant’s items weren’t removed for 5 weeks. We finally got their things out, and now we’ve been working with contractors to get the house put back together. We agreed to a contractor who worked with our insurance to get their full amount of work covered (there was about a $6k difference between the insurance adjuster’s estimate and the contractor’s estimate). The insurance company agreed to the new estimate.
We’re now working on the contract with the company who will put the house together. The initial contract required 50% payment up front, which we didn’t feel comfortable doing. Now we’re waiting on an updated contract with a new pay schedule that will split the payment into thirds.
Our next step once the contract is executed is to pick out all the replacement things. On top of them fixing the bottom 2′ of drywall throughout the entire house and all the ceilings that collapsed, along with replacing insulation, fixing the crawl space, etc., we have to make selections for new bottom cabinetry in the kitchen, new vanities in the bathrooms, and new flooring throughout the whole house. I’m hoping that once these selections are made, it’ll be smooth sailing. The contractor is 3 weeks out to begin, and the contract says it’ll take 40 days to complete.
While there’s a lot of things being juggled right now, it’s still not equivalent to a full time job. Since insurance is paying for the replacement of damaged items in the one house, it’s not a high spending month. It’s just requiring more brain power than usual.
Life is different these days. Our 3rd child was born on Thanksgiving, and we’ve been finishing up some projects around the house. We’ve had a few things happen with rentals, and, basically, I’m just tapped out to keep up with blogging. Mr. ODA asked me what our net worth is at these days, and so I’m updating our spreadsheet.
It’s January, so that means I have to create my two main Excel workbooks for the year: the paycheck to paycheck monitoring of our expected income and expenses, and the management of each rental property. The paycheck to paycheck spreadsheet is where I have a line item for each house’s rental income each month, each house’s mortgage payment (where applicable), and then all our bills owed (credit cards, utilities, investments). I break this down by paycheck because that’s the easiest way for me to make sure I have enough income to offset the bills owed during that two-week period. That worksheet in that workbook feeds my net worth calculations, where I also update loan balances. There is actually several tabs in this workbook, but those are the main two. I finally got that all set up today. I haven’t even started creating the investment property workbook.
January also means I have to go through last year’s investment property workbook to verify all the expenses listed are supported by receipts, that all receipts I have are recorded, and that my income is accurate. Then I read off the data to Mr. ODA, who enters it into an online tax portal to file our taxes. I haven’t started that daunting task either.
We had one of our properties flooded by a burst pipe. That’s a mess and is hardly making progress because the tenant’s renters insurance can’t get the tenant property out of the house. We had an electrical issue with a hot water heater in another property. That got fixed, but now I am in a position where I have to fight Home Depot about their shoddy installation a year ago and have them reimburse the cost of rewiring. I finally moved forward with the judgement against a tenant for destruction of property, and our attorney established that collections account.
Surprisingly, we didn’t have any issues with rent payments in December or January. Usually I hear from one or two houses that they need a couple of weeks to pay all of rent. While not everyone was on time, they communicated well and were only a few days late. One tenant reached out and asked if they could pay rent on the 6th (since that’s Friday, and pay day); I told them not to worry about the late fee and that would be fine. Little gestures like that can make a big difference for your tenant’s life.
I sent a letter to our property manager for the KY houses that we’re releasing them at the end of this month, so that’s a new development that is taking my time as well. You’d think my property management company would have a way to communicate this change with the tenants, but alas, that would be too logical. Wish me luck while I add 3 more houses under my own purview. While we moved to KY two years ago, it was easier to maintain status quo with having a property manager. Unfortunately, it has taken too much of my effort to manage the property manager and to fight for our money.
We finished our master bathroom in the home we bought over the summer (and the room we gutted immediately… only took 6 months to get us to the finish line… and by finish line, there’s still paint touch ups to be had). We bought all the supplies to gut and renovate the basement bathroom in this house. Mr. ODA built a bench for our kitchen table so that we have more seating easier. We made the plans to get the mudroom bench and shelves in, and hopefully those supplies will be bought this weekend.
Truthfully, while I updated most of my net worth spreadsheet in December, I never posted it because I don’t even know where all our money is. When we sold our personal residence at the beginning of November, we were handed a large check. In the past, that check type mostly went towards a downpayment on a new house, but that wasn’t the case this time. Mr. ODA immediately started investing that money in short term treasury accounts that I can’t even begin to explain. Between that account, another savings type account, and our regular investment account, I can update what I see online, but I don’t know what I may be missing. I’m hoping Mr. ODA will chime in soon to describe the type of investment decisions he’s made.
Several property value assessments declined over the last couple of months. So while our investments are on the upswing from November’s update, those updates to property values have caused a decrease to our net worth.
Phew – 3rd month in a row of only a financial update. My apologies! Again, we’ve been juggling two houses, construction work on the new house, two toddlers, and my being pregnant (and exhausted).
At the beginning of the month, we closed on our old home. It wasn’t an easy process (as usual) with the title company, even down to having the wrong amount on the check at the closing table, but it all worked out. Being free of that burden has been lovely. We immediately cashed the check, but it’ll have to be a separate post for what we did (and are planning to do) with those proceeds.
We had our court date on November 1st for the tenant that left a house with garbage and damage. She didn’t show (after providing us a fake address), so the judge ruled in our favor for the full judgement. She then has 10 days to appeal. We’re beyond that window, so I now reach out to her to establish a payment plan. If she doesn’t respond, then I file it with our attorney to proceed with garnishment.
We had a few small items to pay for with the rentals, but we have everyone’s rent that was due by now. I typically expect to see more late payments in December and January with the holidays.
We’re still carrying a high balance on a 0% interest credit card. I did pay off a card that had a payment plan on it (it was free, and why not … except, I was tired of figuring out and managing new purchases versus the payment plan portion, so I just paid it all off once our proceeds came in; it was about $1100).
Our investments recovered in the market from last month, and we significantly increased the balance in our taxable accounts and cash due to investments from the proceeds of our sale.
I reviewed our figures, but that’s the extent of what I’ve done for this last month. We’ve had travel, sick kids, routine doctor visits, and managing both houses (as has become the norm) with projects in the new house. All this while pregnant, so my energy levels are not what I wish they’d be for how much we have going on.
We did host our first garage sale though. Impressively, the time flew by, we got rid of a lot of what we put out there, and made about $185. I have plans on newborn/family pictures for that money though. 🙂
We listed our house on 9/22 and were under contract in a couple of days. We have moved beyond our contingencies (as far as we know) and are slated to close on 11/9. We’re really grateful that we got a contract right away and that we’re moving along because a lot of houses are sitting for weeks and having to reduce their list price multiple times. At the last minute, our Realtor ordered an appraisal measurement of the house because we couldn’t find clear information on how big the house was. We were between 3600 and 3800 sf with the finished basement, but the appraisal came in at 4,179! We still didn’t feel comfortable listing at more than 500k, so we went for $499k and accepted the offer at $495k.
Last month I mentioned the taxes that come due in October. I’ve either paid out or scheduled a pay out of about $6,200 worth of taxes on 4 properties at this point. I have $300-400 more to pay out at the beginning of November for local taxes on two of the properties.
I paid out $345 worth of HVAC repairs from September on a property (that I completely forgot about, and this company is usually a month or more behind on invoicing). We had another service call charge from our KY property manager that made no sense, and I’m ready to release them.
We have a November 1st court date for the girl that destroyed our house. I submitted the charges to her, and even though she questioned one of the line items, she didn’t respond on time. Our property manager is now managing the court appearances for that. We asked for an address for her, and the lady at the address she gave us said she’s never heard of her (basically exactly what I expected from this girl).
Home values are steady or slightly higher, while the stock market has been abysmal.
Whew, we’ve been busy. Son turned 4. Lots of traveling. Kids started school. Managing two houses. Managing the rentals. Being 7 months pregnant.
We’ve been working on our old house to get a lot of the things moved to the new house, while keeping enough there to live. A slow move sounded great in concept, but dragging this out for 3 months now, with another 6-8 weeks to go probably, has been rough. We unload the car, put it in the new house dining room, and then I need to unpack all that and find it a home. Then we come with another dump of things right after I clear that out. It’s been exhausting. Meanwhile, I’ve been painting almost all of the new house, changing out light fixtures, changing out some electrical switches/outlets that were dated, etc. Mr. ODA has started working on the rebuild part of the bathroom renovation, so we happily have gotten all the electrical work that we wanted to do done (we need to hire an electrician to run a line for the dryer), and then got the shower framed. He’s also been working on the yard and landscaping, which is a big project because the original owner of the house put in a lot of landscaping, and then the people who owned the house for about a year before us didn’t maintain any of it.
We’re listing the house this week, and we’re hoping for a reasonable offer ASAP and a closing at the beginning of November. That closing will pay off our mortgage (~$265k) and our HELOC (~$82k).
October brings a lot of rental bills. KY’s property taxes are due in October and November, and none of the houses we have here are escrowed, so I need to plan on about $6,500 outlay. Right now, we have a HELOC on our last primary residence, so I have that to fall back on. Typically, I project out 2 months of expenses, and I know how much I have “left over.” The “left over” usually is paid towards a mortgage or, currently, our HELOC balance; in the Fall, I plan to have that “left over” go towards the taxes. Luckily, our houses in Virginia that aren’t escrowed have the tax payments due half in December and half in June.
While our credit card balances are high (we’re carrying a large balance on one that’s 0% interest), we didn’t have a lot of expenses this past month. Mr. ODA’s work trip hotels and restaurants are on the credit cards that will get paid this week, and we’ve had higher gas expenses because of my driving to/from NY and then capitalizing on Kroger incentives so filled up one car. Other than that, we’ve only eaten at restaurants sporadically and have been focused on getting projects done, so haven’t gone out much.
This is the first month of the newly executed lease with a tenant who paid late every month. Their rent total increased for the convenience of paying twice a month (although the total owed now is still less than their rent and late fee they had been paying). They paid the first half on time, and they haven’t paid the second half, which if it’s not paid by the end of today will incur a late fee. Rent was $1450, so they were paying $1595 every month. Rent is now $750 twice a month. If they pay on time, it’s $1500 per month. If they pay half late, then it’s now $1575 per month.
I submitted the security deposit charges to the tenant that moved out. She asked a question about the charges on the list, but then didn’t acknowledge by the deadline. We need to have our property manager file the charges in court. Somehow it’s the 19th of the month, and we haven’t pursued that yet because we’ve been so busy.
Other than that, we didn’t have any service calls on any of the houses, and everyone else has paid their rent.
We have a busy October planned. I hope we’ll finish the projects at the new house and be close to closing the chapter of our last house. Our investments have declined significantly (almost $91k!) from last month. Our cash is higher than usual because of the cycle timing for this update compared to the bill due dates. And finally, the credit cards are higher than usual, and they’re higher than last month, but that’s because we’re purposely carrying a balance on a 0% interest card. So while our overall net worth has decreased over $33k since last month, the stock market issues have been offset by paying down mortgages and increased property values.
Surprisingly, I didn’t cover all our houses in posts last year. I was going to say, “let’s finish this up,” but we’ve since purchased #14! This is a long post. I tried to separate the stories, but since they were part of the same purchase, it was too convoluted to decide which story went with which house.
We spent the summer of 2019 living in Lexington, KY. Mr. ODA took a temporary job for 3 months, and we spent our summer looking for more rental properties to try another market. The housing costs in central Kentucky were less than central Virginia, but the rental rates were also lower.
We drove around with our Realtor for quite some time. We were hoping to find a multi-door complex. However, 4-8 door units have just not been well taken care of. We take care of our houses, and I didn’t want to inherit all the deferred maintenance of a poor landlord. Many of the places had long-term tenants, so there wouldn’t be a vacancy to ease getting work done either. Additionally, there were several that we saw where the tenant was home, smoking and telling us all that was wrong with the property. It was abysmal.
So after searching through many other options, we settled on two houses at the same time.
Mr. ODA actually made an offer on a house in Winchester that I hadn’t seen. It was a large house that had been converted into 2 units. Mr. ODA and our Realtor went after work one day, and it wasn’t worth me packing up the baby and driving a half hour to meet them for one house. However, I did get to see some of it because I took on the home inspection appointment. Since I had never walked through the house, it was easy for me to objectively see the information on the inspection and convince Mr. ODA to walk away. There was just too many big-ticket items (e.g., not enough head room for stairs, water damage not properly cleaned up in multiple rooms, several code violations) and deferred maintenance that it wasn’t worth us putting the money into it. The tenants were sitting on the porch smoking during the inspection, and I didn’t love the idea of inherited tenants that were allowed to smoke in the house.
I can’t tell the history of these purchases without this gem of a story. Mr. ODA found a house that was in a decent shape in Winchester.
Aside: We focused on Winchester because while the rent income was low, the housing cost was also low. Whereas in Lexington, the rent was low, but the housing prices were higher.
We made an offer on the house. In the offer, it lists the seller’s name. It was a State Senator! When we sent over the offer, the seller’s agent agreed to our details, but asked for a pre-approval letter before he’d sign. The amount of weight the people in Kentucky put on a pre-approval letter is absurd, in my opinion. We went through the effort to get the letter and send it over. About that same time, the seller’s agent said someone else came in with a better offer, so we could either submit our highest and best offer, or lose the deal. The sketchiness of the action floored us.
The house had been on the market for a month. We had a verbal agreement (that had even been put in writing, but not yet signed). What are the odds that someone came in at the same time as us with an offer over asking for a house on the market a month? We called his bluff, and we were wrong.
THIRD AND FORTH OFFERS – UNDER CONTRACT
In August 2019, we went under contract on two houses in Winchester, KY.
Property12 had been owner occupied and flipped to sell. The owner had lived there long enough that she wouldn’t Docusign the contract, and we had to wait for her to initial, sign, and date all the pages by hand. The house had been listed for 36 days when we made the offer. It was listed at $115,000, and we went under contract at $112,000 with $2,000 in seller subsidy (closing costs) on 8/7. It’s a 3 bed, 2 bath ranch at 1120 sf.
We received the home inspection on 8/14. We asked for the items below to be addressed, or to take $1000 off the purchase price. They agreed to fix the issues.
Property13 had been listed for nearly 3 months before we made an offer. It had been most recently listed at $105,500. Our offer was for $102,000 with $2,000 seller subsidy. We also included the following requirement in the contract: Seller agrees to remediate the water and mold in the crawl space, fix the down spout next to the crawl space door so that it channels the water away from the home, replace the missing gutter on the front of the house, and repair the rotted facia and sheathing on the front of the house.
Additionally, we had a home inspection on the house and identified the following items for them to repair.
Getting the sellers to identify that these items were done before closing was not an easy task. We checked the day that closing was originally schedule for and noted that several things were not complete.
Then, at 7:30 pm the night before closing (which had already been delayed a week), we received one receipt identifying a couple of things were done. Eventually we received documentation that it was taken care of.
The options we typically ask for when considering the direction of our loan are as follows.
We chose the 25% down – 30 yr fixed option for both properties. Our goal is to not pay points, so that led us to the 25% down options. Since there was no incentive to take a shorter term (thereby increasing your monthly mortgage payments and decreasing your cash flow), we chose the 30 year option.
These loans were originated in September 2019. We processed multiple cash-out-refinances on some of our properties in December 2021; we used it to pay off about $66k on Property12 and about $74k on Property13.
LOAN PROCESSING & DELAYED CLOSING
We had a lender that we loved in Virginia. She couldn’t cover loans in Kentucky, but the company itself had a branch that could do it. She referred us to someone in Kentucky. It was the worst experience I’ve had in closings. Our closings are always annoyingly stressful in that last week, but this was bad throughout the month and then bad enough that our closing was delayed a week – completely due to the loan officer’s inability to manage the loan.
We had multiple issues over the course of the week we initiated our relationship just accessing the disclosures. They kept telling us to sign things we didn’t receive, or they’d tell us our access code and then when I say it doesn’t work, act like they never told us different information and give new information.
On August 16, I had to tell the loan officer that one of the addresses was wrong. THE ADDRESS. On August 26, we received conditional approval of our loan from underwriting. On August 27, we received our appraisal with no issues noted. But at that point, our August 30 closing was delayed a week already.
That’s where the problem was – our appraisal was ordered late, had to be rushed, and still didn’t make it in time for them to develop the Closing Disclosure (CD) and get us to a closing on August 30. The loan officer never once acknowledged that he ordered the appraisals late, causing this delay. It took asking for timelines from his supervisor, and piecing together emails we had on hand, to show that it was his fault.
On August 29, I finally made contact with the loan officer’s supervisor and was rerouted to someone else to get the job done. I had to repeat all of our issues and the errors that were found on the CDs.
On September 3, I was given disclosures that were still wrong. The new loan officer claimed that what she put in the system was correct, so she wasn’t sure what was wrong, causing me to once again outline all the errors.
On September 4, I was asked for more documentation that wasn’t caught during underwriting. I was furious.
On September 5, I gave up talking to our lender about issues on the CD and spoke directly to the Title Attorney’s office, who was much more knowledgable and responsive. Here’s an example of what I’m questioning when I look over a CD. Some of these seem small (e.g., $4 difference, $25 difference), but you can see how these add up, both on a single transaction and when we’re processing several homes in one year. Not to mention – why pay more for something than you were quoted or you’re supposed to?
Another surprise that came our way was a “Seller Agent Fee” for $149 per transaction. At no point in time was an additional fee disclosed to us by our Realtor. A typical transaction has 6% commission paid by the seller, which is traditionally split 3% and 3% for the buyer and seller representation. Being that these were Rentals #12 and 13, in addition to 2 personal residences we had purchased, imagine the surprise when we, as buyers, were being charged for representation. We questioned why this wasn’t disclosed to us up front as a Re/Max requirement, and it was taken off our CD.
I had planned to leave town the Friday after the original closing date because that was the last date that we had our apartment. I didn’t want to move me and the baby into my in-laws house and continue the poor sleep we had been dealing with by not being at home. So even though closing was delayed, I left. Mr. ODA had to be my power of attorney. He had to sign his name, write a blurb, and then sign my name on ALL those papers that are part of a closing….. times two. Eek. I didn’t know that at the time (but baby went back to sleeping perfectly once we were home, so it was worth my sanity 🙂 ).
At 11:30 am on closing day, the lender claimed that the power of attorney documents (from the lawyer…) were not complete enough to be counted as filed on their end. I appreciated the snip from the attorney when questioned.
I always wondered why tv shows always showed both at the closing table with a ceremonious passing of the key. We’ve had our share of weird closings (in a closet, in a parking lot, at our dining room table), but we never sat at the table with the seller in Virginia. We were so confused about how specific the closing attorney was being about the closing time options, and then we found out that the seller and buyer are at the table together in Kentucky. The seller for Property12 was so rude to Mr. ODA through the transaction! She kept grilling him on whether he addressed the utilities. The seller shouldn’t be allowed to talk to the buyer! We’ve since been able to process 3 transactions in Kentucky and avoid the seller at the table, but I’d like to advocate that Kentucky move away from this buyer/seller meeting process!
Property12 was listed at $895 on 10/2. Based on my birds-eye-view of the area, I thought $1000 was going to be easy to rent it at. Based on the 1% Rule that we had followed in Virginia, we should have a goal of $1,100 per month. However, we were trying for a Fall lease, which is more difficult than a Spring lease, so I thought listing at $995 would get quick movement instead of letting it sit for too long. Our property manager disagreed. She also said we were limited our pool of candidates by not allowing smokers; but, the whole house is carpeted and I was not budging on that.
We found a tenant on October 16 and allowed her to move in right away, but not start paying rent until November 1 if she agreed to an 18 month lease (we really wanted to be on a Spring renewal going forward). That was an unfortunate blow to our expectations – nearly two whole months without rental income on a house we didn’t need to do any work to.
We increased rent to $950 as of 6/1/2022 after no previous increases.
Property13 was listed for rent at $995 with no movement. We dropped to $875 and offered free October rent for however long was remaining in the month. A lease was established on 10/18/2019. Our property manager was supposed to establish an 18 month lease and didn’t. Luckily, the tenant agreed to a 6 month extension.
Property13 renewal came in April 2022. She had balked about the state of our economy in 2021, and we backed off the proposed increase at that time. Well, all the jurisdictions finally jumped on the increased assessments, and we saw a drastic increase in our costs. We told her that the new offer for a year lease is $950, which is higher than we’d typically increase in one year ($75 instead of $50). But we told her that we were willing to let her walk if she didn’t agree to it since she originally negotiated a lower cost and argued an increase at the 18 month mark, which we let go. She tried to fight it, but our property manager told her to check the rental options in the area to see that she’s still getting a deal. She agreed to the increase.
Property12 requires a new heat pump in June 2021. We paid $3900 for a whole new system, which is a funnily low number just a year later.
The tenant there complained of high water bills. I asked to see a history of the water bills to know how much was considered higher than their average usage. The property manager agreed that the toilet was running and causing higher bills, but also admitted that they attempted to fix the toilet twice over a 3 week period, with multiple days between receiving a maintenance request and taking action. While I agreed that we could compensate her for the issue, I couldn’t quite pinpoint why this was my financial burden and neither the tenant’s nor the property manager’s. I followed up with more information from the property manager with questions like: Why did it take the tenant from 9/20 until 10/11 to identify the issue still remained and that there was a waste of water? They indicated that they believe they made a good faith effort to address the issues as reported. I eventually settled on a $25 concession on one month’s rent.
Property13 had several issues with the hot water installation that were eventually resolved, which was frustrating after we tried to manage issues with the hot water heater through the home inspection process and received documentation as if it was complete. The tenant requested pest control in July 2020 claiming that a vacant house next door caused an increase in pests. I was frustrated because that’s not how it works. I approved treatment at that time, and then she came back with another request in October. Luckily, I haven’t heard about pests since then. In my Virginia leases, we’ll handle some pest control requests, but if there are roach issues once a tenant has been there for some time, we don’t typically pay for that type of treatment.
All in all, these tenants have been pretty quiet. They ask for random maintenance things here and there, but they’re not usually big-ticket items (except that HVAC replacement!). Our property manager has been more difficult than the tenants.
Being that we were used to the 1% Rule when we purchased these houses, it’s unfortunate that even at 3 years in, we’re not renting it at 1% of our purchase prices. Our cash-on-cash isn’t completely accurate right now because I won’t see our taxes for this year for another month or two. Being that jurisdictions kept the tax amount steady through the pandemic, I’m expecting to see an increase in assessments for this year. I’ve also seen big increases in our home insurance policies, so that will probably eat into our cash flow as well. Our cash-on-cash analysis on Property12 is about 6.5%, and it’s about 7.5% on Property13. These numbers are only slightly lower than our expectation/desire, with our average being about 8%.
In the upcoming year, we’re going to look to get rid of our property manager, so these houses may begin needing more attention from us. It’s been hard to take on more when paying a property manager has been a sunk cost at this point. However, the frustration of managing their management (e.g., making sure charges are correct, not getting a full picture of what work is being done, and then paying them a significant amount of management money and leasing money only for them to claim that checking on the property requires additional fees) has led to us wanting to take it on since we’re in town now. The current lease terms are up in April and May, so if we’re going to take on management, it should be before the possibility of paying them half a month’s rent for leasing it (not to mention they’re notoriously 4-6 weeks out in every leasing attempt they’ve done for us, whereas I’ve never had an issue getting a property leased within a week).
We took a week-long vacation the first week of August. I haven’t taken an entire week trip in a very long time. The kids are young, and the daily activities of swimming at the pool and the beach were exhausting for them, but we had a great time. I had projected about $500 worth of food expenses for the week, but we only spent $250 (including a grocery shopping trip). Our daily schedule was dictated by children sleeping, so it was a lot of little meals or snacks at the condo rather than looking to take the time to sit down at a restaurant. It also helped that we paid about $3.45 for gas (which is still terrible, but it’s not $4.30!), so our gas costs for the 11-12 hour trip each way was $190. Our lodging costs were significantly more than we’d typically spend, so the reduced costs in other areas was welcomed.
We’re still working on the new house and haven’t moved. That’s starting to weigh on me. We won’t see much progress this month based on our activity schedules, but hopefully we’ll knock nearly everything off the list next month. Our expenses were high in June and July for the house, but now it’s just a matter of finishing the projects that we already bought materials for, so hopefully expenses will be low the rest of this month. Our HELOC balance increased because we used it to pay for our concrete replacement at the new house (tear out driveway, garbage pad, walkway and stoop to the house, and 3 sidewalk squares; then replace everything in kind except widen the driveway).
We offered our tenant that has paid rent late 71% of the months we’ve owned the house a new option, and they accepted. They had been paying rent around the 15th and then the last Friday of every month. After several months of this, I spoke up that it was unacceptable. They started paying the first half by the 5th, but the second half was still coming the last week of the month. That means every month, they’re paying $1450 in rent and $145 in late fee. We offered them the ability to pay half at the beginning of the month and half by the 15th. Each payment has a 5 day grace period, and then the late fee is tied only to the payment not made. However, since this is an inconvenience to us, the rent increased to $1500. They could be saving $95 per month if they pay both payments on time. However, they could also be paying as much as $1650 per month now if they pay each payment late.
We got one house turned over and rented last month, and rent was paid timely this month. We also received credits from our KY property manager for costs they overcharged us on.
We continue to hold high balances on credit cards because of 0% interest incentives. As I mentioned, you don’t typically see a personal mortgage line increase, but we drew almost $9k out of the HELOC to pay for concrete replacement at our new house. Our investments have increased in value over the last month, offsetting the additional draw on the HELOC and higher-than-average credit card balances, helping increase our net worth.
Unlike the other property we turned over this year, we knew this one was coming. The tenant living at this house moved in back in 2017. A few years ago, there was a domestic violence incident that led to a restraining order against one tenant from the other. Legally, we had to let the one tenant out of the lease. At the time, we didn’t have an immediate reason to release the second tenant from the lease, so we offered her a new lease in just her name. That was our downfall.
Since January 1, 2020, she paid rent on time in only 3 instances. I can think of only one instance where she told us up front that rent would be late. Every single month, I was stuck chasing her down. She’d say she would pay on the 17th, and then on the 18th, I’m asking where rent is again with another lie coming my way. She had quite the array of excuses. They were always elaborate. After getting stuck in Costa Rica for half a month in September because of a positive c-19 test, she didn’t even bother letting us know when she was back in the states or when we’d see rent. She applied for rent assistance. They paid 3 months of her rent for her (which was of course was significantly late from the state), and yet the month she had to pay, she still couldn’t.
Her lease was expiring June 30th this year. We provided her notice that we would not be continuing the lease and she was to vacate by 5 pm on the 30th and no later. Since we live 500 miles away, and I don’t trust her one bit, I hired my property manager that we use on other properties to take this one over. I wanted her to be the one to check that the tenant turns over keys and has the house empty before I drove 8 hours out there to find out the tenant is squatting.
THE LAST DAY
Sure enough, the tenant had a few more games to play. At 3 pm on the last day, she texted my property manager that she needed a bit more time, and asked if they could meet at 5:30 instead of 5. At 5:15, my property manager texted her saying she hit unexpected traffic, so she wouldn’t be there until about 5:35. My property manager pulled up to no people at the house, but there was at least one dog (not on the lease). The tenant didn’t show up until 6:50 pm.
My property manager means well, but she always seems to be advocating for the tenant while I’m the one paying her for services. The tenant asked if she could stay for a little while longer and remove the rest of her stuff. Well, based on the pictures, this wasn’t a “one more load” type situation; there were hours and hours of removing clothes and crap. All her furniture was out, but there was still garbage, dog feces, clothes, and some decor items left behind. My property manager was trying to say that she should be allowed to stay to remove her things and then she’d lock up on her way out. Nope. She absolutely didn’t have a place to stay that night, and it wasn’t my responsibility to keep catering to her. There was nothing that showed me allowing her access any longer was going to leave me in a position that was any different than I was currently in (meaning, hiring a junk removal company and having to pay someone for extra cleaning services).
Oh, let’s not forget that she didn’t pay a dime of June rent. She claimed it was to be able to secure another place to live. However, she left her mail as garbage laying in the living room where we found she had been rejected due to her record. Sometimes I wish I could say, “we were giving you a chance; perhaps you should have paid your rent and communicated issues timely so you still had a place to live.”
I stuck to my guns and said get the keys. My husband was more compassionate and said that she could come back over the weekend to get her stuff while someone was there working on the house and supervising her actions.
Her last day was a Thursday. She couldn’t come back on Friday because she was working the whole day. She said she’d be there first thing Saturday morning. At 9:20 am, nothing. She said she couldn’t get her trailer until 10:30 or something like that. At lunch time, still nothing. When questioned on her whereabouts, she made a list of things that she wanted us to put outside for her so she could grab on her own time. HAHAHA. She showed up at 1:10 claiming her dad was right behind her. Mr. ODA let her in the house, she grabbed a handful of things, and then left. That’s the last we’ve communicated with her.
Mr. ODA and his dad went to Virginia to handle the turnover. I was going to go by myself, but being pregnant and alone inched out over my desire to make sure things were handled correctly. They arrived Friday evening and left Sunday evening. I was quite impressed with how much they got done.
All the stuff left behind had to be moved out of the way to get to work. Mr. ODA and his dad put it all in the living room so they could start painting. We paid a junk removal company $625 to get rid of her stuff and the old carpet.
The front porch post had been torn off the brick porch. Our untrained assessment seemed like someone had backed into the post. Mr. ODA was able to raise the porch roof back up to get the post back in place. He replaced the post tops and it looked good as new, surprisingly. There are still broken bricks, but that’s not a structural concern like the post itself was.
The entire interior of the house got a new coat of paint.
Mr. ODA had to replace missing and broken nuts in the bathroom faucet (how does this happen?!).
Blinds had to be replaced, as usual.
All the carpet had to be replaced. We didn’t have time to lay luxury vinyl planks (LVP) like we’d have preferred, so we settled on new carpet. While we were telling our handyman this, he said he’d lay the LVP for us, so we jumped on that. It’s more expensive up front, but we won’t have to do a full floor replacement in 3-5 years like we’d have to do with carpet or have to replace everything for a section damaged beyond repair. Mr. ODA and his dad pulled up the carpet, pad, and most tack strips.
We paid a cleaning company to clean the kitchen and bathrooms. She was supposedly there for 5 hours. That was $250.
We had to pay our handyman $100 to “paint” our countertops because there was a huge burn mark in the counter. They paired nicely in the multiple burn holes in the kitchen floor vinyl, which got covered by LVP.
We also had to pay someone $45 to mow the lawn. That seemed like an astronomical price, but we don’t have a lawn mower there, and it was easier to just let this guy do it when he asked.
After the new tenant moved in, they let us know the washer and dryer weren’t working. A diagnostic test of the washer seemed to say it wasn’t a user error and just coincidental timing, but then finding out that the dryer didn’t work right after that was interesting. The new tenant had their own washer in storage. We offered them the ability to buy their own dryer for $20 per month off the rent, which they accepted.
After we subtract out her security deposit, we’ll go to court for just under $10k worth of expenses. About $2,250 of that is unpaid late fees, so I don’t expect that to actually go anywhere once it gets to court. The first step is to send her a letter outlining all these details. Since the balance owed is so high, I preemptively offered a payment plan over 6 months. While $1650 per month is high for someone who couldn’t pay me $1150 each month, I don’t want to drag this out for a whole year. She’s not reliable, and I don’t want to be tracking and fighting her for a year to come. I also expect no response or resolution via this letter, and that we’ll have to go to court eventually anyway. Once it goes to court, she becomes responsible for court filing fees, and the judge will award interest on the balance, which adds up quickly.
We bought the house with renters at $1050. We had worked on raising it $50 every two years (approximately), but rent was only at $1150. We recently refinanced the house, and the rental appraisal on it came in at $1600! If we don’t count that the tenant never actually paid June rent, we only dealt with a vacant house for 21 days and got it rented at $1,450. We probably could have pushed higher, but we were happy to get movement on it as soon as it was listed. To only be vacant for 21 days with the extensive damage and work to get it turned over is impressive to me.
While it was $6,000, the whole house got new flooring. Instead of trying to patch the vinyl in the kitchen and get new carpet installed for it to only last a few years, we were able to get LVP throughout the house. LVP will last much longer, and if there are damaged boards, they can be replaced individually instead of having to replace rooms and rooms worth of carpet.
This could be a horror story. However, we have 13 houses that help float expenses on the one or two where someone doesn’t pay rent timely or we have higher expenses. While we had to manage her month-to-month to track down rent, she did eventually pay all but that last month. In the end, for it to be a few things to address and it to take less than 21 days is great. This doesn’t go down as a reason to not hold rentals!
Welp, I haven’t posted in a month. We have been so busy and exhausted.
We bought a house on June 15. That process was not smooth in the week before closing, even through the day of. Our attorney had to come to our house the next day to have us sign other papers. Our lender was great, great, great, until they weren’t at the 11th hour. As always, everything went through, and we have ownership of the house. And that week will be a distant memory soon. But why does the mortgage industry get away with operating this way? I feel like there hasn’t been a single transaction we’ve done where there wasn’t a “where’s my paperwork????” or “why’s this wrong the day before closing???” moment (or my favorite, when we begged for the HUD-1 to review it before closing, and a traveling notary showed up at our house, only for the HUD-1 to be different than the closing disclosure and the numbers to be wrong on both documents).
We used our HELOC on our current house to pay the downpayment and closing costs on the new house, so that was a quick debt addition. We started with a balance of about 86k and have paid it down to 75k. We didn’t necessarily need to take the whole amount from the HELOC, but it was easier to get one cashiers check from the HELOC and immediately pay towards it than to transfer some from the HELOC and do a wire from our checking account.
This new house will be our personal residence, but it requires work. We’ve gutted the master bathroom, and I’ve been painting nearly all my free waking moments. I have the first floor mostly done (including making a ceiling go from navy to white.. ugh) and the kids’ bathroom done.
We opened two new credit cards in the last month, but I’ll get into that in the next post. Just note that our credit card balances are higher than our usual, and will remain that way.
We had opened a checking account for rewards a while back, and the account required $500 of direct deposits each month. It was one more account to manage, and it was no longer serving a purpose, so we finally closed that. Now we just manage two checking accounts.
We have a vacant rental house as of June 30th, which I’ll also get into in a future post. The good news is that one of our houses that’s a repeat offender of not paying rent is now out of the picture. We still have one house that never pays on time, but I’ve at least got them paying half the rent by the 5th so that we aren’t constantly floating their mortgage and bills until the last Friday of every month.
We had two rental increases go into effect this month. One was for $20 (good tenants, long term, told us in advance they wanted to renew, but we also needed to cover our cost increases) and another was for $50.
Our property manager in KY hasn’t been easy. We’ve had to do a lot of managing the manager. All of our paperwork says not to charge the 10% fee on contractors. The document that they put in our file says it, and that’s the same document they put the charge on. I keep having to ask for all the documentation. Once I ask, they note the 10%, but it’s not until I ask.
We paid a plumber to fix a shower handle in one of our houses. On June 1st, she texted that it was loose. She didn’t really explain the situation, and I asked her to tighten the screw and let me know. She texted me on July 8th that it didn’t work. Where have you been for a month?! Then she said “let me know when the plumber is coming so I can wake my husband.” Um, you waited 5 weeks to tell me that it’s still broken, I’m not rushing a plumber out there today.
One of our insurance companies dropped us once they found out we don’t live within a certain radius of the houses. We have a property manager, so this rule doesn’t make sense to me. They let us finish out our policies, but they wouldn’t renew. Our agent quoted one company that doubled the cost we had been paying because the roof “may have been last replaced in 2000” (and we couldn’t prove otherwise). I said nope, and I asked another agent to give a quote. Their increased our cost by about $100, but it was better than $300. I executed that at the beginning of this month.
We had an HVAC go out, but luckily it was able to be fixed (for 225) than replaced.
Well, even though our investments are declining and we took on a lot more debt, our net worth increased by 75k from last month. Truly, I’ve focused on the work we’ve had to do over the last month, and not necessarily on the spending or the market. At some point I’ll need to get through all our expenses and identify how our spending has changed, but perhaps that’s a job for another season while we continue to work on a new house and work towards moving our family in the coming months.