Tuesday, September 30, 2008

This Is Why I Like Passive Income

Last Friday, I was driving back from lunch and my co-worker noticed steam and liquid coming out from the front passenger side of my car's hood. A check of the temperature gauge showed my car was close to overheating. Luckily, there was a Toyota dealership nearby, so we pulled in there and dropped it off for repair. Turns out, I need a new radiator and some other repairs. The estimated cost is just over $1,200.

Yesterday, I came home from work and picked up the mail. I had three checks waiting for me - one was the second payment of hard money loan #4 and the other two were from two of the four flipping LLCs in California that I am invested in. The three checks more than cover the amount of my car repair. Nice!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Multi #1 First Payment Arrived

A couple of days ago, I received the monthly investor's accounting report for the apartment complex in Houston via email. About two days later, I received my first quarterly profit distribution. The amount was what I expected - the equivalent of a 9% annual ROI. That was our guaranteed minimum return. The good news is that the occupancy, as predicted, has risen another point to 95%. This is the third month in a row that occupancy has gone up and we've only owned the property for three months. The management team expects occupancy to rise even further due to Hurricane Ike, which did some damage to the complex, but not a whole lot. That might only be a temporary rise though, as people will start moving back into their homes and the hurricane damage is repaired.

Rent concessions were a bit less than double the previous month, coming in at around $10,000, due to market competition, but management has cut them back now and are only offering them on the smaller units. Almost completely offsetting the increase in concessions was an increase in "other income," which includes move-in fees, lease termination fees, pet fees, laundry income, late fees, and tenant screening fees.

Monday, September 22, 2008

More Problems For Those Being Foreclosed On

I wrote two weeks ago about what appears to be a burglary ring that targets people who are losing their homes to foreclosure. Now another scam targeting people in foreclosures is hitting the news. Truth be told, this isn't a new scam and I've heard about it before, but this is the first time I've seen some serious media coverage of the issue. This scam involves stealing the equity out of people's homes. The article details how this is done, but in a nutshell, it involves getting the homeowner to sign over their house to someone and then that person or company gets another loan on the property for the amount of equity. This new loan is never repaid. The previous homeowner usually doesn't know what is going on. They are usually allowed to continue living in the property and often think they did not sell their house or that they can buy it back in 1 or 2 years.

This is very similar to what Live Free Investment Group was doing here in the Phoenix area. I met with them last year to find out more about what they do. Although, and I stress this, I have no reason to believe Live Free Investment is doing anything illegal, immoral, or is involved with the above mentioned type of scams, it was something I was worried about back then. Whenever you take title to a property from someone in foreclosure and allow them to continue to live in the property, I see nothing but trouble. When the person has to move out, there is very little doubt that they are selling the property. But when they can stay, things can get murky in their minds. Even given that companies like Live Free may be 100% legit, the scams that are going on will no doubt bring more regulatory actions down on the entire industry and cause the legal costs, both real and potential, for doing these types of transactions to increase.

This is one of the reasons my step by step guide for buying preforeclosures stresses that the sellers must move out of the property.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Hurricane Ike Damages Multi #1

Regular readers may have guessed this, but for those readers that don't also read Kenric's blog Live Learn Invest, I should point out that both he and I have invested in the same apartment complex in Houston. On his blog, it's Houston Apartment #2 and here I called Multi #1. I was out of town for the weekend, so he beat me to the punch on posting pictures of the damage Hurricane Ike did to this property, so I'll just link to them instead of reposting them here.

We have gotten some additional info about the damage:

  • Approxiamtely 12 trees were knocked down and in the process, the trees roots may have damaged some pipes.
  • The gas is turned off on one of three boilers, so units connected to those boilers do not currently have hot water.
  • Brick siding fell off two of the buildings and damaged car ports and air conditioner units. It looks like only one A/C unit was damaged badly enough to have to be replaced.
  • There appears to be some possible electrical wire damage as well, but no word yet on the extent of that.
  • There was some roof damage which led to leaks, which caused drywall and carpets to get wet and require repair or replacement.
  • Some patios were damaged by falling trees.
The good news is the utilities are on for all buildings with the exception of the one gas boiler. The property management is distributing information about obtaining aid from FEMA to the residents and is also working hard to get the property back into shape.

We were supposed to receive our first profit distribution this month. I'm sure that will be affected to some extent by this, both in the amount and the timing. We do have insurance on the property, so hopefully that will cover most of the costs. Obviously, the management's priority is on helping the residents, so the investor reports will be put on the back burner.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Details of Rental #1 Repairs

As I mentioned Monday, I was waiting for the hardcopy paperwork and refund check from the property managers for Rental #1 in Tulsa. Good thing I saved the scanned images they emailed me, because they did not mail me the actual invoices, only a check. Here's the breakdown of what they did to get the property ready for sale. Figures have been rounded to the nearest dollar.


Management fee - $75 - This was for a partial month
Maintenance - $30
Lawn Maintenance - $200 - This was only for a partial clean up. More next month.
Cleaning - $75

In looking at the invoice details, I see that they charged me $25 for each trip to the property to meet someone plus mileage charges of between $15 and $20 each trip. This may be standard procedure for property management companies, but my old PM company never charged me. Of course, given the condition the property was in, it's likely they never went out to the property anyway.


Management fee - $100
Maintenance - $137
Paint and paint supplies - $255
Lawn maintenance - $625
Cleaning - $238
Doors / windows - $25
Exterminating - $100

The maintenance included replacing the chimney cap, which had blown off during a storm during the month and removing some water that came down the chimney. It also included removing the satellite dish that the storm also blew down.

I should also note that the PM company was the one who did much of the yard work, painting, and other minor maintenance. I was properly billed for their time, of course, although I have my doubts that they are qualified to do some of the repairs they did. Apparently, the garage was full of junk, as they billed me for 8 hours to clean out the garage and haul the trash to the dump. If the garage was full of junk, no wonder the place wouldn't rent for months!


Management fee - $100
Maintenance - $70

"Maintenance" this month means they met three contractors to get repair quotes for the roof plus mileage charges.


Natural gas bill - $126
Electric bill - $286

I think these are so high because they cover multiple months. Both bills include notices that bills were paid late. I don't see any late charges listed, but it does make me wonder why they weren't paid on time.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Many Updates

The big news in the real estate market this weekend, of course, is the government takeover of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. I'm not sure what to make of this, other than the fact that I think they waited too long. If they were going to do something, I think it should have been done long ago and maybe some of the damage to the housing market could have been avoided. I think we'll have to wait to see how things play out before we know if this is a good move or bad move or even if it was a good move made too late. The stock market loves the news, but that doesn't really mean anything as the market tends to focus on the short term view.

I received my second payment from Hard Money loan #3. Glad to see that the borrower is paying on time, although only two payments do not constitute a trend. But it's only a one year loan, so it's already 1/6 over.

I am expecting a monthly statement from the operations at Multi #1 any day now. This month should also include the first profit distribution.

And finally, Rental #1, the property in Tulsa that I sold for a loss recently, is still not quite wrapped up. I spoke with the property manager on the phone early last week and was told everything was paid and the remainder of my deposit was being sent to me. Last Thursday, I received an email from the PMs that included scans of all the receipts for repairs and a scan of the refund check. None of it has actually shown up in the mail yet though, so I'll wait to write about that until I actually get it. Back in May, I sent them a $3,000 deposit. Their estimate of the repair work was $1,500. Figuring that plus the $100 a month management fee they charged (although they only had it for 1 or 2 months before it was sold), I was expecting a refund of somewhere close to $1,500. The email showed the check to be just over $500, so obviously there were more expenses or they did not estimate the needed repairs very well. I'll go over it it more detail when the hard copies arrive in the mail.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Kicking Them When They Are Down

Late last year, I wrote about a co-worker of mine who jumped on the real estate bandwagon and bought a house and rented it for negative cashflow, assuming it would eventually go up in value. Of course, the market crashed and he lost the house. He managed to sell it for a loss, but unfortunately, the losses were too great and he ended up getting behind on the mortgage payments for his residence too. That went into foreclosure and the auction date was last week. He had started to move out, but he had to have some major surgery and went into the hospital before he got the move completed.

He found out last weekend that his house was robbed. It appeared to be the work of professionals. They took everything that was of value and left stuff that wasn't - even to the extent of taking expensive paint sealant but not the cheap paint sitting right next to it. They tried taking some pool equipment, but that was too heavy. A neighbor actually saw the people doing it and spoke with them. I guess the people told her they were moving the rest of the stuff out per my co-worker's request. There were a couple items that the lady told them she thought they wanted to leave, so the thieves left those, but they must have had the woman fooled. She said they had a big truck to load everything and looked like movers. Since this took place either a day before the foreclosure auction or the day of, it would seem there are some con artists going through the public foreclosure records and cleaning places out right before auctions. It could just be a coincidence, but I don't think so.

Something to be aware of...
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