Why are Certified Funds required in Real Estate transactions?

Close up of hands giving house model to other hands with money.What are certified funds?  I’m buying/renting real estate and the company wants me to bring “cash or equivalent” or “certified funds.” Why can’t I just write a personal check?  The money is there!

Relax! The purpose of this blog post is meant to give a simple explanation of why “certified funds” are required in your real estate transaction and how to acquire and present them to the real estate office.

Certified funds are just that. They are a form of payment that is guaranteed (or certified) to clear, be valid, and are non-revocable.  When making certain types of transactions, such as real estate transactions, it’s required that the payment method used will satisfy the contractual obligations. To do this, certified funds will be required, usually in the form of:

Specifically, personal checks are NOT allowed, as the account may not have sufficient funds or they can be cancelled. Credit cards are NOT allowed, as the transaction may later be disputed or reversed. Checks sent by a bank bill payment service are NOT allowed, as they are the same as personal checks.

Simply put, once certified funds are issued, they cannot be recalled or cancelled by the bank.  The bank that wrote the cashier’s check or money order must by law, honor and pay the amount due in the document.  Therefore, it is the same as handing a person the equivalent amount of funds in cash.

Cash is, well, cash. It is absolute funds, and value has is transferred immediately to the holder.  There is no issuing bank to recall the funds.  It is the absolute transfer of value when given from one person to another.

1Personal checks, on the other hand, must “clear” the issuing bank before the payment is deemed absolute.  This could take as long as a week or more.

Certified funds are required because it assures that the funds are good, valid and present at the closing of the transaction and release of keys.  A closing is set for a certain day and if, for example, a personal check is presented, the company will have to wait at least 10 business days before giving the seller or landlord their proceeds.  If the seller or landlord does not receive their proceeds for weeks past the closing date, well, the parties have not really closed on the agreed upon date, right?  Therefore, keys cannot be released to the buyer or tenant. In order to ease this issue, certified funds are required so that proceeds may be disbursed to the seller/landlord, commissions to agents, etc. Real estate is a major investment worth hundreds of thousands of dollars and can potentially cause all parties stress; however, certified funds give the assurance that funds are good and will clear to let money and keys go to the various parties entitled.

Where can I get a certified funds?

Here are some of the top places to get a certified funds, beginning with the cheaper options, that you may use as a guide.

  • Walmart: The big-box store offers money orders from MoneyGram, a money order provider, at a cost of 70 cents each for values up to $1,000.
  • Money transfer agents: You can buy money orders from companies such as Western Union and MoneyGram at convenience stores, drugstores, supermarkets, check-cashing outlets and elsewhere. The Western Union money order fee, as an example, is around 99 cents; charges vary by location. Single money orders are usually limited to less than $1,000.
  • U.S. Postal Service: Money orders to be sent within the United States are $1.20 for up to $500; $1.60 for amounts over $500 up to $1,000. There’s one exception: Military money orders, issued by postal military facilities, are 40 cents. An international money order with a value of up to $700 costs $8.25.
  • Banks and credit unions: Financial institutions sell money orders for around $5 each, with values typically up to $1,000. They often waive fees for customers with premium accounts.
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5 Things Successful Landlords Do That Help Them Sleep Easy

1Being a real estate investor and landlord has its pros, but there are times when it can be stressful, even overwhelming. And it’s in those moments that you have a decision to make: Let the stress eat away at you, or grab control of the situation.

Five Ways to Lower Your Stress and Get More Sleep

Sleep is an odd thing. We need it to function properly and feel good. But in order to get the sleep we need, we have to make healthy lifestyle choices.

According to a survey of more than 2,000 Americans, Amerisleep found a direct correlation between average sleep per night and average overall happiness. As the article explains, “The time difference is a relatively small one, with perfectly happy people getting only about 24 minutes more sleep per night than completely unhappy people, but even that little bit of extra sleep seems to make a big difference.”

Unfortunately, the stress of being a landlord can keep you up at night and prevent you from getting the sleep you require for health and happiness. You can get caught in a vicious cycle that will eventually wear you down.

If you wish to get more sleep at night – and enjoy the benefits that accompany it – you must lower your stress levels so you’ll have an easier time falling asleep and staying there. Here are five practical ways to do this:

  1. Get Organized 

It’s amazing what a little organization can do for you, mentally and practically. Every property you own should have a folder in a filing cabinet and/or your computer.

In these folders, keep titles, financing documents, loan applications, tenant applications, HVAC warranties, service agreements, receipts, copies of rent checks, etc. When all that is readily accessible, you don’t have to waste time tracking down lost documents.

  1. Take Preventive Measures

It’s much better to spend a little extra money on preventive measures than to be constantly stressed out over what could happen in an undesirable scenario. The best preventive measure you can take is to invest in adequate insurance.

If you’re renting out a property long term, you need to have a landlord-specific policy. You may also want to look at an umbrella policy to protect yourself personally in the event of specific calamities.

  1. Carefully Screen Tenants

You have to be careful about the tenant screening process, and make sure you adhere to the proper laws, but being selective on the front end will save you a lot of trouble later on. Good tenant screening involves more than a background check.

You should meet the prospective renters in person, ask the right questions, consult their references, and request a substantial deposit to ensure they’re serious.

  1. Automate Rent Collection

One of the worst parts about being a landlord is waiting on the rent checks to roll in. There always seem to be one or two problem tenants who don’t pay on time and come up with imaginative (or worse, repetitive) excuses for why the check is late. The best trick is to automate rent collection, so there’s less room for such problems.

  1. Hire a Property Manager

The more you remove yourself from the dirty, mundane, and monotonous tasks of being a landlord, the less stressed you’re apt to be. It’ll cost you a percentage of your monthly rent but hiring a property manager can be one of the best investments you’ll make – particularly if you have multiple units.

Say Goodbye to Restless Nights

When you’re stressed about your properties, tenants, and income, you may lie awake at night and fail to get adequate sleep. If you don’t get enough sleep, you’ll be unhappy.

When you’re unhappy, you’re more susceptible to stress and making unhealthy decisions. The easiest way to break this cycle is to gain control of your investments.

By staying organized, implementing smart preventive measures, carefully screening tenants, automating rent collection, and hiring a property manager, you can take charge and sleep well. Don’t put it off!

Source: nuwireinvestor.com

Landlords: These Are the 4 Types of Insurance You May Need

1The basics of becoming a landlord are straightforward: Buy a property in a promising neighborhood, fix it up, find tenants, and start charging slightly more than you’re paying in regular costs. But if you want to protect your assets and ensure you’re following every applicable law, things get more complicated.

Consider insurance. The right insurance policy should be able to cover any unexpected financial losses or massive expenses, protecting the profitability of your operation. It can also protect you from legal trouble. But what types of policies do you really need as a landlord?

Legal Requirements

Technically, landlords aren’t legally required to have any type of insurance. However, if you’ve taken out a loan on the home, you may be required by the lender that you have a basic homeowner’s insurance policy. Just note that a conventional homeowner’s policy may not protect you if you’re renting out the property to other tenants.

4 Types of Insurance to Consider

There are many types of insurance that you should consider:

  1. Building and property insurance. First, you’ll want a policy that protects your building and property from unexpected damage. Your building is the most significant portion of your investment, and therefore, your biggest financial liability. If something happens to it — such as a roof caving in or a destructive event from a tenant who lives there — you’ll want a comfortable policy that can cover the damages. Otherwise, you’ll end up paying tens of thousands of dollars, possibly compromising your profitability.
  2. Liability insurance. You should also have some type of liability insurance in place. Landlord liability varies depending on where you live, but for the most part, you’re responsible for keeping your property in a safe, livable condition. If one of your tenants trips and falls or hurts themselves while living in the property, they may have grounds to file suit against you. Liability insurance protects you from these events, covering your defense costs and compensating victims.
  3. Loss of income and business interruption insurance. Landlords may also be able to get a form of business interruption insurance, protecting them from possible interruptions to their stream of rental income. For example, if you’re injured and unable to fulfill your responsibilities as a landlord, you may earn compensation that allows you to keep things running. This type of insurance may also help you secure rental income from tenants who are unable to pay.
  4. Protection from specific threats. Property insurance doesn’t cover anything. You’ll want to read your policy closely and get coverage for other specific threats. For example, you might need a separate policy to protect your building from natural disasters like floods, hurricanes or earthquakes.

Landlord Insurance

If you’re looking for a comprehensive policy, you may be able to find a provider who offers collective “landlord insurance,” which offers coverage in several areas, including the four listed above. For the most part, these insurance policies are flexible; you’ll be able to pick the types of coverage and extent of coverage you need, so you can protect yourself from the majority of threats and still stay within your budget. If you’re interested in this type of insurance, it’s advisable to talk to an insurance agent, who will have more insight into the types of policies you need (and the total costs you might face).

Renter’s Insurance

It’s also important to note that your property insurance policy and liability insurance policy won’t protect any of your tenant’s possessions. For example, if leaky plumbing causes water damage to a tenant’s television, your insurance policy may not cover the damages (though it may cover you, if it offers liability coverage). For that, your tenants will need to get a renter’s insurance policy.

Conclusion

As a landlord, you aren’t required to have insurance, but it’s well worth the investment. At a minimum, make sure you have property insurance to protect your house and a liability policy to protect yourself in the event of tenant-related damage. Each new policy will only marginally increase your monthly premiums but may offer substantial additional coverage. So plan conservatively, and protect your investments as comprehensively as you can afford to. One enormous loss could be enough to negate any profit you’d otherwise stand to make.

 

Source: biggerpockets.com

Popularity of pet-friendly rentals sparks growth in dubious online services

The popularity of pet-friendly apartments has led to development of dubious services on the Internet designed to get owners out of paying high pet fees. The services allow people to obtain phony dog service certification deeming the animal an “emotional support pet,” a designation that not only exempts owners from pet fees but often grants the animal access to rentals that are not pet friendly.

The problem with such efforts is they are sparking more scrutiny from landlords and more calls for increased regulation on issuing emotional support pet certification, which ultimately may make it difficult for people who legitimately need it.44334346_s-228x300

Many of the dubious services have online “therapists” who provide documentation that an emotional support pet is needed. Many provide the “doctor’s note” within 24 hours. As I was looking at some of these websites, one was summoning me to register a pet with them via a pop up. They are very persistent. These services provide a method for people to avoid pet fees and a way to have a pet in a residence that does not allow pets. Pet rents range from $25 to $75 monthly and up front pet fees range from $250 to $1,000 on average per pet.

Emotional support pets are companion animals that provide a therapeutic benefit to individuals with a verifiable mental or psychiatric disability. Emotional support pets are one type of assistance animal, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. An emotional support pet can be any type of animal and is allowed as a reasonable accommodation in a residence that does not otherwise allow pets. This allows dogs, cats, alligators, any type of pet at all with no restriction. You do not have to pay pet fees to a landlord for an emotional support pet.

The difference between an emotional support animal and a service animal is a service animal is trained to perform certain tasks to help people with disabilities, while an emotional support pet is not trained. Unlike service animals, an emotional support pet is not granted access to public places such as movie theaters and hospitals.

HUD does not require a tenant to disclose their disability to a prospective landlord, but they will need to provide documentation from a doctor or other health care professional that the assistance animal lessens one or more of the identified symptoms or effects of an existing disability.

A companion animal can also travel with their person in the cabin of a plane, as allowed by the Air Carrier Access Act, without fees. Typically, the fee to have a pet fly is about $125.

The Transportation Department formed a panel of advisers to look into the issue. Airlines are concerned about the safety of the passengers around the untrained animals and want to know whether their owners legitimately need them for emotional support or are just trying to avoid a fee. The panel was disbanded without a solution, experts say, but with the increase of animals on flights this is bound to come up again.

There is no standardized form that can be used to prove an emotional support pet’s status.  The increase in people fraudulently identifying their pets as assistance animals has led to a consideration of  more regulations for identifying an assistance animal.

An online petition being circulated through Change.org is asking Anna Maria Farias, HUD’s assistant secretary for fair housing and equal opportunity, to reform laws surrounding emotional support animals. While supporting people who legitimately need comfort animals, the petition wants the government to stop allowing owners to get doctors’ notes for emotional support pets online for a fee. The petition asserts these online methods are not credible.

More regulation is needed to prevent people from falsely claiming their pets as companion animals. Let’s hope the regulations will not hinder the process for people who have a legitimate need for an emotional support pet.

 

Source: washingtonpost.com

We’ve Launched Our New Website & Video!

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WE’VE JUST LAUNCHED OUR NEW WEBSITE!

Here at Bev Roberts Rentals we are always looking to improve the services we offer. In an exciting step towards enhancing your experience, we have launched a brand new website. With a fresh look, feel and a new intuitive design, our new website is designed with you in mind. We are now mobile optimized! We understand your needs and how we can help you with a variety of leasing and management challenges. Fully optimized for mobile devices, our new site will allow you to access the information and services you need whether you’re at your desk or on the move.

 

WE’VE JUST LAUNCHED OUR NEW VIDEO!

For us, family-owned and operated means a family feeling with a professional approach. When you call on us, you’re not calling upon strangers for assistance, you’re working with our family. Serving customers directly is a primary part of our business model. We’re a family with values, beliefs and traditions, much like yours. That’s why we care on a personal level, not because it’s our business, but because it’s our way of life. As a family-owned and operated company, we take pride in providing you with more personalized services. Get to know our family better by pressing play below…

Trulia’s Hottest Real Estate Markets to Watch in ’18

See which cities are making the cut this year.

If you’re thinking about where to move next, you’re probably considering a wide array of factors like work, family, and the start of a new chapter. Every home purchase is also a huge investment—possibly the biggest you’ll make in your life. Looking at the markets poised for growth can ensure your new home is also a good investment. To help, Trulia looked at the 100 most populated metros in the country, then used five key metrics to determine the 10 real estate markets with the highest growth potential in 2018: strong job growth, affordability, low vacancy rates, home search rates on Trulia.com, and a high population of young households (you can find our full methodology below). It may surprise you—it did us—to learn that Texas and Ohio are home to more than one fast-growing city. See where else made the cut below

1. Grand Rapids, MI

On the mighty banks of the Grand River, Michigan’s second-largest city is at the top of our list largely due to its strong employment growth, which is up 2.5 percent year-over-year. Grand Rapids also has a relatively low vacancy rate (ranked 16th overall) and a high share of households with residents 35 years and under (22 percent). A full two-thirds of Grand Rapids’ residents own homes, and the median home sale price is a friendly $163,750. Living here means enjoying the waterfront, the Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park, and the Grand Rapids Art Museum, which spotlights Michigan’s artists. A bubbling brew scene doesn’t hurt either.

2. Nashville, TN

Next on our list is Nashville, also known as Music City. But you don’t have to be in the band to love it here. Home of the famous “Grand Ole Opry,” residents in Nashville are always down for a good time. Need more evidence? Just walk through The Gulch, a trendy Art Deco-inspired neighborhood. Not surprisingly, Tennessee’s capital has a high share of households under 35 years old (23 percent) and the strongest job growth in the country (3.1 percent year-over-year), luring people from all corners of the nation to relocate. But taking the top spot in job growth may come at a price: affordability, where Nashville is ranked 58th overall.

3. Raleigh, NC

North Carolina’s capital, Raleigh, is known for the bright minds of North Carolina State University and the Research Triangle (together with Durham and Chapel Hill). But it’s also beloved for its wealth of culinary and cultural cornerstones, like the Oakwood historic district, designated on the National Register of Historic Places, where homes date back to the 1800s. This City of Oaks made our list due to its strength in two categories: job growth (ranked 3rd overall) and low vacancy rate (ranked 15th overall). Its popularity, though, leaves the city lagging in affordability—the median sales price in North Carolina’s second most popular city is $250,000—where it ranks 43rd overall.

4. El Paso, TX

This Southwestern city on the Rio Grande is loved for its incredible Tex-Mex cuisine, a wealth of locations for outdoors lovers to explore, and a rich downtown artist community and farmers market. Major employers in El Paso range from the US military to the University of Texas at El Paso, healthcare corporations to major retailers. The average price of a home here is just $186,611, and it’s a hot market for the social young and single set: the median age is 33, and 24 percent of residents are single. You’ll find many of them moving to the up-and-coming Mission Hills neighborhood. “The fantastic weather, developing downtown area, and affordable price range of housing speak to younger buyers as well as just about everyone,” says Laura Baca, an area real estate agent.

5. San Antonio, TX

San Antonio is known for its River Walk, an oasis of cypress-lined paved paths and lush landscapes where locals and visitors alike go to relax. But the city is bustling, too. In 2017, job growth rose 2.2 percent, and the national homeownership rate increased significantly for the first time in more than 10 years. In fact, homeowners make up two-thirds of the city’s population, at 65 percent. San Antonio’s top employers are a mix of military, city, and school districts, as well as private and public businesses, making this 300-year-old city flush with new job opportunities. These trends are expected to continue into 2018, with homeownership outpacing renting for the indefinite future.

6. Fort Worth, TX

This city of cowboys and culture is a hot destination in the Lone Star state, welcoming 8.8 million visitors annually. Fort Worth is comprised of seven primary entertainment districts, each offering dining, shopping, entertainment, and cultural amenities—offering mass appeal for a new generation of residents, allowing the city to lay claim to the youngest population of any major metro in Texas. It’s only 17 miles from the DFW International Airport, ensuring personal and business travel is extremely convenient. The city also has an impressive percentage of homeowners (68 percent), and with popular employers such as Lockheed Martin Aeronautics, American Airlines, the Naval Air Station, and city and school district offices, it’s a solid place to set down roots.

7. Austin, TX

Capital city Austin, with its legendary live music, burgeoning restaurant scene, cool culture, and vibrant community is a draw for everyone—even those who aren’t coming to listen to tunes in the Live Music Capital of the World. Austin’s also a university town, and many folks stay on after school. The national homeownership rate ticked up both for households under 35, as well as those aged 35-44, with the former showing a substantial increase from 34 percent in 2016 to 35 percent in the second quarter of 2017. Though home buying among millennials is likely to be sluggish in the short-run, the long-run potential for this generation to support housing consumption in the United States is big.

8. Columbus, OH

Big things are happening in Columbus, Ohio’s capital and most populous city. It’s booming, and not just in population. There are 33 acres of new riverfront parkland in downtown, cultural institutions are adding to their offerings, neighborhoods are bursting with new places to eat and shop, and the innovative food scene gives residents plenty of options. Trends in Columbus show a 12 percent year-over-year rise in median home sales price, and even with the upward trajectory, the average home comes in at just $159,900. “Our urban areas are booming with renovation and new build projects, and our suburbs maintain their investment values very well,” says Cheryl Chapin, an area real estate agent. “We have a lot of areas across the city that are walkable, have great dining and shopping, yet they’re close to downtown amenities.”

9. Madison, WI

Madison is Wisconsin’s second-largest city and state capital. It’s also home to the state government and the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the city’s largest employers. The town’s amassed a treasure chest of kudos, from most-walkable and best road-biking city, to most vegetarian-friendly, LGBTQ-friendly, and environmentally friendly city, too. Of the places on this list, Madison has the highest percentage of college-educated residents (60 percent). The up-and-coming Tenney-Lapham neighborhood houses lots of young families and hosts a popular annual art walk.

10. Cincinnati, OH

Resting along the banks of the Ohio River, the vibrant Cincinnati region spans portions of three states: Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana. The third-largest city in Ohio has dedicated homeowners, with 63 percent of the population owning homes and its home sales price slowly growing, up 4 percent year-over-year. Cincinnati’s popular Over-the-Rhine district, which includes Findlay Market and food and craft vendors, is a favorite place for locals to spent the weekend, as is Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garde.

Source: trulia.com

Tenant Hurricane Procedures

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Please only call Bev Roberts Rentals when absolutely necessary, so that we may keep our lines open for emergency concerns. Please refrain from calling to get storm updates. Our team is currently getting inundated with phone calls and emails. It’s not that we don’t want to hear from you, we appreciate the concern and covet your thoughts and prayers right now. We understand that everyone is worried about Hurricane Irma, but per the North Carolina governor, Roy Cooper, “It’s too soon to know how North Carolina will be impacted.” Please keep in mind that this is our home too – so our team takes this very seriously! Many of us have lived here though numerous storms and hurricanes, so understand there is a “wait and see” period with hurricanes requiring patience. Do not panic when you see headlines declaring a state of emergency. The state of emergency allows us to get a plan activated and the teams and equipment in place in case the hurricane makes landfall in North Carolina.

Instead of calling, please use the links below for Bev Roberts Rentals information updates. Bev Roberts Rentals works hard to keep tenants and landlords informed – prior, during and post storm. We recommend everyone monitor Bev Roberts Rentals here:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/bevrobertsrentals/

Tenant Preparation Procedures:

Stay tuned to the local news media and follow all recommended precautions and instructions. We would like you to take a few minutes to review the hurricane plan we utilize.

  1. Log into your Tenant Portal and review your contact information. Please inform us if any of this information needs updating. Each manager utilizes this information to notify tenants of important changes, problems and/or issues.
  2. Take photos of the home and your contents at their current state for insurance purposes. After the storm, inspect the home for damage, take photos, and report damage to Bev Roberts Rentals. If possible, submit photos via the online Maintenance Request system.
  3. Please write down the below contact information for your property manager, and keep it in a safe place: Bev Roberts: (919) 630-3882 or bev@robertsrentals.net, Craig Brockman: (919) 609-3131 or craig@robertsrentals.net, and Nick Roberts: (919) 244-1649 or nick@robertsrentals.net
  4. Turn off main water to house if a pipe leak is noticed. If you smell gas, turn off main gas valve.
  5. Anchor or shelter outdoor potted plans, awnings, patio and lawn furniture, grills, and trash and recycling receptacles.
  6. Turn off propane tanks.
  7. Close all windows.
  8. Do not open refrigerator unless necessary. In case of lengthy power outages, remove food from refrigerator prior to spoiling to prevent odor damage. Empty ice bucket to prevent damage to floor from melting ice.
  9. Insert wedges in sliding patio doors; if not protected, damaging winds will lift them off their tracks and blow them into the house.
  10. Lower radio and television antennas, protect satellite dishes.
  11. Close all outdoor electrical outlets.
  12. Secure garage, porch doors, and storm doors.
  13. Purchase a flashlight (do NOT use candles) and extra batteries.
  14. Charge all cell phones.
  15. Unplug electrical equipment.
  16. Do NOT tape or board up windows. This can actually cause more damage to the windows or siding of the house.
  17. If you are instructed to evacuate the home by local authorities: If possible, please notify Bev Roberts Rentals, lock all doors, turn off main breaker, turn off main gas line, turn off main water supply to the home.