Should I rent out my home?

Chances are, your current home won’t suit your needs indefinitely. If you’re living in a small starter home or a condominium, you may want to upgrade to a larger house as your family grows. If you’re already in a large residence, you may want to downsize your home when your children move out. Also, there’s always a chance you or a family member may need to relocate for work, in which case it’s time to say goodbye to your current address.

The big question is what to do with the property when you move. Are you better off keeping your old place as a rental, or does selling it make more sense? While renting allows you to either pay off your mortgage or make a little money every month, it also comes with a fair amount of risk and added tax complications.

Why Rent Your Home?

When a tenant pays you rent, you can use the check to cover your monthly mortgage. In a sense, your tenant is paying for you to earn equity in your home. Once the mortgage is paid off, you can keep any monthly rent as income.

Renting out your home can diversify your investments and income streams, enabling you to reduce your financial risk. For example, if you lost your job, you would still have some income from the rental. Or, if you find your retirement savings are insufficient, you’ve got a piece of real estate you can sell.

Costs of Renting

When calculating the cost of renting a house, consider these potential expenses:

• Mortgage Payment. Consider both interest payments and principle payments.

• Property Taxes. These vary by area, but expect to pay up to 2% of your home’s value per year.

• Mortgage Insurance Premiums. If your down payment is less than 20% of your home’s value, expect to pay mortgage insurance premiums.

• Landlord Insurance. This covers tenant damages and protects you if someone is injured on your rental property. According to HouseLogic, landlord’s insurance is typically 15% to 20% more than homeowners insurance.

• HOA Fees. These payments are required if your house or condo belongs to an association.

• Repairs and Replacements. Windows, doors, walls, carpeting, roofs, and major appliances must be repaired or replaced.

• Maintenance. After a tenant leaves, common costs include exterior paint, interior paint, and carpet cleaning. You’ll almost always need to clean the carpet between tenants, and you may need to touch up interior paint as well. Exterior painting is more infrequent – expect to paint every five years or so.

• Advertising and Rental History Checks on Tenants. You can advertise on websites like Craigslist for free, but expect to pay around $100 if you want to run a newspaper ad. VeriFirst reports that a rental history of eviction records and a rental payment history both cost between $5 and $10.

• Accounting and Property Management Fees. Property management firms typically charge around 10% of your rental revenue. Also, expect to pay a minimum of $200 annually for a CPA to prepare your personal and rental tax return.

HouseLogic provides a free worksheet to help you estimate the cost of renting your home.

Rental Profitability

You can get a fairly accurate estimate of potential rent revenues by checking out postings in your neighborhood. The online real estate marketplace Zillow uses MLS data and a proprietary formula to estimate rent values on specific homes. Rentometer provides a similar service. You can also talk to a local real estate agent or property management company, or check Craigslist to see the going rate in your area.

Also, consider historical rental trends for your region – if you’re in a city that’s experiencing rental price increases, your rental revenue may soon outpace your expenses. Services like Rent Jungle can show you specific rental price trends for your area.

As with any business, your revenue must exceed your costs if you are to be profitable. Thankfully, the costs you incur to rent the home are tax-deductible, which decreases the amount of income tax you have to pay on rents received and increases your take-home cash.

If your rental revenues immediately exceed your expenses, that’s a good sign. However, even if you’re not immediately turning a profit, don’t fret. It may be that rental rates are low at the moment or you’re still paying a hefty mortgage. According to Reuters, Maryland CPA Jerry Gross estimates that you usually have a solid investment if initial rent revenue covers at least 80% of immediate rental costs.

Lakeland Real Estate Market Update

Below you will find some of the most recent statistics relating to the real estate market in Lakeland. As a real estate agent in Lakeland, John-Michael Elliott consistently reviews the market to determine how it performed in the past and what is predicted of it in the future. It is our goal that these market updates also help you gain a further understanding of the local market.

The median sale price for a home in Lakeland was $145,000, even with the April 2016 price but up significantly from May 2015. In May of last year the median sale price was $130,000 and May 2014 it was $129,250. The price for a home in the area has increased year-over-year since May 2012 when the median price was at $96,799.

A similar trend has occurred with the number of homes sold as well. This past May there were 917 homes sold in Lakeland. This is an increase from the 901 sold one year earlier in addition to the 762 in May 2014, 759 in May 2013 and 644 at the end of May 2012. If the trend is to continue as it has over the past few years, we could see a significant jump in home sales in May 2017, though there are still a number of other factors that may influence whether or not that happens.

The median rent price is also as high as it has been in the past 12 months on all properties, costing $1,285 at the end of May 2016. This price is up from the $1,250 mark in experienced in April after coming in at $1,200 in both the months of March and February.

The number of rentals are also up as we are experiencing the highest they have been over the past year. In May 2016 there were 295 rentals, the first time rentals eclipsed the 270-mark since August 2015. According to Zillow, the value of a Lakeland home in May 2016 was $129,000, an 11% increase from May 2015. After experiencing a low for the month of May in 2012 at a value of $89,000, the value of homes has been on the rise and is anticipated to reach $137,000 in May 2017.

As the median price increases so do the number of sales. The Lakeland real estate market has been on the rise over the past few years and isn’t expected to stop in the near future. The market is slowly shifting to a seller’s market from a buyer’s market as sales and home values continue to jump year-over-year.

A Lakeland real estate agent like John-Michael Elliott can help guide you through the real estate process and ensure you get the right home for the right price. It can be difficult to go through the buying or selling process on your own and that’s why we are committed to helping make sure that you have a smooth experience.

Whether you are looking to buy or sell in the area, John-Michael is an experienced real estate agent in Lakeland who is more than ready to help you achieve your real estate dreams. Contact us today for more information or to begin the journey!



5 Characteristics of a Good Real Estate Agent

Being a real estate agent in Lakeland, helping people reach their goals is something that is a passion of John-Michael Elliott’s.

He firmly believes that a good agent needs to have certain qualities in order to be able to offer their clients the best service. The characteristics outlined below are ones that you should look for in an agent when you are making your decision and even during the buying or selling process.

Without further ado, let’s look at 5 Characteristics of a Good Real Estate Agent:

1. Communication/Openness

A good agent will be a great communicator. One thing that John-Michael Elliott does is communicate extremely well with his clients from the very first meeting. Properties come and go very fast and it’s important that your agent is contacting you the moment he or she finds out about a listing or a potential offer. This is crucial to everyone but especially those who are purchasing for the first time and may not be so familiar with the process.

2. Great Knowledge

Another very important trait that a good agent will have is a wealth of knowledge. Especially when it comes to real estate, working with someone who has a solid understanding of the local area and can answer any real estate question without hesitation is a sign of a good agent. John-Michael Elliott is very knowledgeable about Lakeland neighborhoods and knows all of the ins-and-outs of the area, including reputations, history, future growth, price comparisons and more.

3. Honesty

This one is pretty straightforward. Nobody likes a liar and it’s even truer when it comes to something as significant as real estate. People are putting many resources into finding or selling a home and when they hire a real estate agent they are looking for someone who will be 100% honest with them at all times. Honesty is a personal characteristic that John-Michael takes pride in having.

4. They’re Eager

You probably don’t want to hire an agent who only waits to do something when you tell him/her to do it. A good agent will be proactive in the field and constantly be feeding you information on what the status of your sale/purchase is. If you have to continuously call your agent for information or ask for status updates, they’re not getting the job done effectively.

5. Own a Strong Network

The top agents have a solid network of connections within the real estate industry. This ranges from other agents, brokers, past clients, mortgage professionals, home inspectors and more. The greater number of contacts that an agent has the better off you will be in the end. Not only will the agent have a way for you to connect with these people but it also shows that your agent is someone who has obviously been around the block a few times and who has built trust among their peers.

When it’s time to buy or sell a home, consider these 5 things when you’re looking for a good real estate agent. John-Michael Elliott is a Lakeland real estate agent who meets each and every one of these characteristics and his former clients can vouch for him. If you’re looking to buy or sell in the area, contact him today!