Category Archives: Alternative Income Sources

Modified Theme & Rental Property Conversion Series

I am back at the hull after being away for a whole week. There are a lot of things to get done and as hard as I work, there’s always more to do. Last week, I am afraid, Aspire to Grace was sacrificed in the interest of staying ahead of this tidal wave rolling through.

In the last two weeks, I have had a business trip to prepare for and was gone for four days. I have also started the move out of my office. I am in the process of transferring files to an external hard drive that I can take with me when I move. In another post, I will talk about the remote storage service I will be using called Mozy. It is a great way to secure files against damage or loss to your computer or other physical hard drives.

Finally, I also traveled to Gulfport, MS last weekend and found a place to live. Our unofficial move date is July 17. In an upcoming post, I will let you know what I encountered and how I ultimately was able to find a good deal on a lease. So, stay tuned.

Modified Theme for Mondays – “Money Mondays”

I have come to realize that there are a lot of interesting things to discuss that relate to money that don’t necessarily have to do with making money. For example, this week, I’d like to share with you some additional insights related to the rental of my property, on which I intend to make money. Next week, for those of you that may be moving to a new location, I’d also like to discuss tips on finding a good deal on property for lease in a short period of time.

While I am still mostly motivated by activities that can make me money, sometimes I would like to focus my discussion on other interesting money-related issues, such as ways to save money. After all building wealth involves simultaneously making more money while spending less money.

So, I am modifying the theme for Mondays. From now on Mondays will be “Money Mondays” instead of “Make Money Mondays.” It just seems like a better fit. Please also let me know if you have any other suggestions for money-related content.

Rental Property Conversion Series: Property Has Been Listed, Now What?

My agent listed my house as a rental on the realtor’s database about three weeks ago. Since then, we have had a decent amount of traffic inquiring about the property, but no applications have been submitted. There are likely a number of reasons, but the greatest concern cited by prospective renters has been security in the neighborhood.

I live in an area of the city that has its share of crime, much like many other urban locales. There are very few, if any, areas of DC where crime is non-existent. In fact, even most of the affluent areas are within a one or two block radius of a crime hotspot. Whether it be a drug spot, a spot for prostitution, or an area with a high incidence of robberies and burglaries. You would be hard-pressed to find an area of the city existing in a vacuum immune to crime.

When I bought my house, I recognized that it was in an investment area. My research of this area before I bought my home indicated that it had specific plans for development and it was within 3 blocks of a commercially and residentially affluent area of the city. When I bought my house, there was a $650,000 difference between the price I paid for my house and some recently renovated homes 3 blocks way. These things were catalysts for my decision to invest here. Even taking into account the differences between the houses in terms of features and space, when considering the pattern of development, it seemed pretty likely that the location of my house was slated to appreciate significantly within a short period of time. Six months after I bought my house in 2004, it appreciated $50,000.

As an investor, I expected and accepted the edginess of the neighborhood coming in. But, I must remember that I came in at a lower price so my level of tolerance was much higher. As a higher priced rental unit, however, it understandably does not lend itself well to lower tolerance levels. This is demonstrated in the reluctance I am seeing from prospective renters.

My agent listed our property on the MLS real estate database, as well as Craigslist. I even went a step farther to list our property on the military housing database. Now, three weeks later with no submitted applications, my husband and I are reconsidering whether to sell, or at least whether to put the house on the market as a sale simultaneously with our rental listing. Another factor in our consideration is that our neighbor, who listed his house at full appreciation value, saw a contract for sale on his house within a week.

One of the reasons my husband and I chose to put our house on the rental market is that market indicators showed that the appreciation value on our house had fallen as of the end of last year in the wake of the economic downturn. So, we decided that we would convert it to a rental property in the meantime and wait for prices to bounce back. Now, market indicators are showing that the value of our property may not have fallen as much as we previously thought and that property values have recovered somewhat in many areas of this city.

Now, although there are a few things that will need to be done before listing our house for sale, we have decided to do a sale listing simultaneously with our rental listing. This basically would mean that if we get a credible lease application in the near-future, we will gladly accept. But, in a few weeks time, we now plan to list our house for sale. Thus, if we get the opportunity to sell our house at an acceptable price, we will move forward instead to sell the house.

In the event that we sell, we would take a bit of a hit from the expenses that we put into preparing our house to rent, such as the refinancing costs. But, in the alternative, if we don’t sell, we could still take a hit from having a vacant property. We’d end up paying a mortgage here and rent in Gulfport. So, it may come down to a lesser-of-two evils situation. Ultimately, even if we take a hit on expenses by selling, we would still profit if we sell at or near our target price.

Who said real estate wasn’t a gamble?

MAKE MONEY MONDAYS is a forum to discuss ways in which you can create additional sources of income.  I try to focus on particular ideas and steps you can take to create alternative income and passive income sources.  I have also begun a series of posts called “Rental Property Conversion.”  This series follows my husband and I as we turn our property into a rental property.  I will also research and post other useful information in this category. If you like what you see here, please use the orange icon at the top right to receive my content updates by email or RSS reader.  

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Home Office Series: Starter Supplies for Your Home Office

Last week, I created a list of supplies that I will start with when establishing my home office.  The funny thing is, I haven’t yet chosen a place to live.  Thus, I don’t yet have a home office. 

Nevertheless, my location is not important for purposes of the starter list.  Here are some basic items that you will need to establish a home office, at least initially, even if you don’t yet have a place to put them. 

Phone

For obvious reasons, you will need a phone in your office if you will be dealing with clients or making other business related calls.  It is wise to have a business line separate from your home line so that you will have the ability to separate work life from home life.  In addition, you will be able to establish work hours. After hours it is nice to let your business calls go to voicemail.  Establishing a balance between work and personal/family time becomes more difficult when you move work into your home.  Thus, it is important to do all you can to separate the two, starting with your phone line. 

Computer/Laptop

I will be keeping the laptop given to me by my firm. It is a Lenovo Think Pad, an IBM computer.  My laptop provides me with basic functions for word processing, spreadsheets, power point and Internet browsing. 

Obviously your choice of a home computer will depend on the nature of your work.  Some computers are better for word processing-type functions, while others are good for graphic production.  Macintosh computers, for example, have a reputation for excellent graphic quality and utility. 

I have a Macbook Pro as my personal computer, which I use for things like blogging and all of my other personal functions.  I could write a whole post on choosing the right personal computer.  But, I won’t expand this discussion here.  You should do your own research to determine which is the right computer for your home office. 

Desk

Your desk choice will also be a very personal choice.  It will depend on the size and layout of your office.  There are many different shapes, sizes and colors of desks to choose from. 

Lamp/Lighting

Consider the light sources already in the room.  There is usually a central overhead light source as well as a window, which will provide light during the day.  Add additional lighting as necessary using lamps.  Also consider computer glare and the position of your desk or working space. 

Bookshelves/Bookcases

If you will have books and other references in your office, consider installing bookshelves or having one or more bookcases in your office. If you are working in a compact office, bookshelves installed on the wall are a space saver.  If your space is larger, or if you have a large supply of books, adding a bookcase will create more storage space.  Bookshelves and bookcases allow you to organize books and other reference materials.  For me, they avoid the inevitable piles of books on the floor and on the desk. 

You can also use bookends for small reference books.  In my current office, I have a very large L-shaped desk.  I use bookends to keep small reference books such as dictionaries and writing guides.

File Cabinet

File cabinets provide additional storage for important files and other documents.  While documents might also be kept on bookshelves or in bookcases, papers don’t stack uniformly, so papers on a bookshelf or bookcase can look quite messy.  In a file cabinet, papers are out of sight and can be organized more readily.  Some desks have drawers that can keep files.  This allows you to keep your files nearby.

Printer/Scanner/Fax

A combination printer/scanner/fax machine is probably the most practical and economic solution to have in a home-office.  First, having one machine will save space for a small home office.  Depending on your production levels and use of each feature, a combination printer/scanner/fax machine should be sufficient for your office. 

As of April 2009, CNET gave 4 our of 5 stars to the HP Photosmart Premium Fax All-In-One received.  According to its review, the HP Photosmart is “designed with the casual photographer and work-at-home professional in mind.”  Although CNET boasts on its high-quality prints, it notes that this product has a higher-than-average cost for black ink cartridges.  But, overall, it has a rating of ‘excellent.’ 

I plan to have an all-in-one printer/scanner/fax, but since my office will purchase this item for me, I don’t yet know which brand I will have.  Perhaps I will recommend for the HP Photosmart. 

 Computer Monitor

 I currently use a 13” computer monitor in conjunction with my laptop.  It creates an expanded view of my laptop and allows me to have two documents in view at one time.  I can also use it to view a document in one window while having an Internet browser window open in the other view.  It makes multitasking a lot easier when it is necessary. 

 In a small home office, or on a small office desk, using a laptop computer with a flat-panel LCD computer monitor will provide an expanded computer work area while saving space.     

 Other Items

 Other items that I will have initially in my home office include an external hard drive for storing and archiving electronic files, a large white board and markers for temporary diagrams and notes, and a large cork board to post important items in full view. 

 I will also have a broadband connection, a business fax line, a business phone line and a wireless card for remote Internet connection.   

 If you are transitioning to a home office within your present place of employment, work out with your employer prior to the transition, which items will be covered by your employer.  For me, my employer will cover such items as the computer monitor, external hard drive and printer, but they will not cover items such as the furniture.  At some later time, I will be looking into the extent to which I can make a tax deduction for the purchase of items used for my home office.  But, that is a discussion for another day.

 Which items would you start with when establishing a home office?

MAKE MONEY MONDAYS is a forum to discuss ways in which you can create additional sources of income. I try to focus on particular ideas and steps you can take to create alternative income and passive income sources. I have also begun a series of posts called “Rental Property Conversion.” This series follows my husband and I as we turn our property into a rental property. I will also research and post other useful information in this category. If you like what you see here, please use the orange icon at the top right to receive my content updates by email or RSS reader.

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From Employer to Employee?

For the past couple of years, I have become very interested in following the stories of entrepreneurs and other people who create alternative income sources to make a living.  My own aspirations involve eventually starting my own ventures to produce alternative income streams to supplement my career income source. 

I began following others online that were moving in the same direction in which I wanted to be moving.  I first began following Madison Dupaix over at My Dollar Plan.  I found her at a time soon after I was married and very interested in straightening out my own financial situation for the benefit of my husband and I.  Her path into early retirement, as well as her adoption of alternative income sources, including entrepreneurship and real estate investment, has also been an inspiration to me. 

One of my most pointed discoveries has been Pat on The Smart Passive Income Blog.  He is one of my favorites because he is so frank and personal about the things that he is doing to create alternative income sources.  His discussions are straightforward and very educational because he speaks about the things that he is doing, his successes and what he has learned along the way. 

In addition to my online resources, there are a few entrepreneurial individuals in my life offline that have given me inspiration.  Each of these individuals started their own businesses and has had relative successes in creating self-sustaining livelihoods.  In recent times, however, I have discovered that two of these individuals are considering re-entering the workforce.

One individual is a close friend of mine that I met while in law school.  After working for others a few years out of school, he and a partner started a law firm. Now, several years later, he is thinking about leaving his venture and transitioning from employer to employee.  

The second individual is the husband of a friend. Many years ago, he started a wireless retail establishment that was successful for many years.  My friend, his wife, who I met and befriended through an industry event, managed one of his stores.  A few years ago, he sold his business and now, he is thinking of returning to the workforce as an employee.    

These kinds of entrepreneurial stories have always inspired me.  While I am not ready to give up my career to start my own business, I’ve always relied on these types of stories as guidance for my own ambitions.  These individuals would provide a resource and a lot of education when and if I ever decided to take the plunge. 

Upon learning that these individuals were contemplating returning to the workforce, however, I couldn’t help but feel a little disappointed.  I have always envisioned successful entrepreneurship as the greatest freedom. Their stories have fueled my own grandeur aspirations that, even if a little naïve, would always cause me to aim a little higher than I could actually land. 

I questioned how one could return to working for someone else after having complete autonomy in your own business.

I have spoken with both of these individuals about their decision to consider returning to the workforce.  Based on these conversations, I have learned that despite running your own business for many years, there may still be the desire to be a part of something bigger.  Besides, even if one has been successful in selling his business at a rather young age, life goes on and eventually this individual will need to make an income again. 

I’ve also learned that owning and managing your own business can fall short of the utopia that I have imagined.  Many times, when working with a partner, you discover that you have very different philosophies about how to maintain and grow your business.  If you are not seeing eye to eye with your partner, it can shatter your imagined potential, which can be a momentum killer.  At some point, when the question of where will this business be in five years does not have a promising answer, the next option may very well be to preserve your professional worth and reenter the workforce. 

I also understand now in talking with these individuals considering the return to the workforce, that having run your own business and having managed staff in that business almost certainly makes you a much better employee because now you have the perspective of the employer.  Now, you know what it takes to run a business.  Now, you know what is required of staff to sustain a business.  And now, you know how to promote the interest of the business in everything you do. 

In all honesty, I still feel a little disappointment.  Something in me needs to believe that once you venture out on your own and make your own way that you will not desire or need to return to being dependent on an employer.  Once you have been completely autonomous in the decision-making process for a business, that you would not return to having someone else make those decisions.  My aspirations depend on this view.  You may call me naïve, or even a dreamer.  But, if I have a nice high place to launch from then I can be confident of higher landing. 

MAKE MONEY MONDAYS is a forum to discuss ways in which you can create additional sources of income.  I try to focus on particular ideas and steps you can take to create alternative income and passive income sources.  I have also begun a series of posts called “Rental Property Conversion.”  This series follows my husband and I as we turn our property into a rental property.  I will also research and post other useful information in this category. If you like what you see here, please use the orange icon at the top right to receive my content updates by email or RSS reader.   

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Update on Writing an eHow Article

Last week I wrote a post about Making Money with eHow.  I talked about what I did to set up my account and the things that needed to be done in order to begin making money.  During the week last week and this past weekend, I wrote and published my first article on eHow.  This is my follow-up to last week’s post.    

In case you are not already familiar with eHow, it is an article directory on which you publish ‘how to’ articles.  You may also have an opportunity to be paid for your work under certain conditions.  You must be a legal resident of the United States.  Your article must be viewed and favored among readers.  Your compensation, according to eHow depends on many different things, including popularity, usefulness and the topic of your article.  But eHow is pretty vague on how articles are rated in these categories. 

Writing an Article

Writing an eHow article is pretty easy because it is basically a bullet-point list of the steps you would take to accomplish a certain task. 

After you have set up your account and when you are ready to begin writing, find the prompt on the home page entitled “Write an Article.”  From there eHow will prompt you to enter the title of your article. Since the title of the article will always begin with ‘how to,’ which is already there, your title should complete that sentence. 

Once you have entered the title, you may upload an image that will provide visual stimulus for your audience.  For example, if you are writing an article called “How to Make Apple Pie,” you might want to upload a picture of an apple pie, or of someone preparing the ingredients for an apple pie.  Providing such an image gives your article immediate context once someone arrives on the page.  Readers will recognize your topic before they have read the title.  Be sure that you have the authority to publish the photo and always provide due credit.  eHow provides fields for you to fill in a caption and provide a photo credit.

At the end of the first page, eHow asks you to rank the difficulty of accomplishing the task in your article, to provide an introduction and a list of items that someone would need to complete the task.  Once you have finished with this page, click the “save & continue” button to proceed to the next page.  This is where you will publish your article. 

You will write your article directly on the eHow website as opposed to uploading content from a file.  There are fields for each step in your process.  The eHow page gives you about 4 or 5 steps and after that, you click on the “add a step” button to continue.  I am not sure there is a limit to the number of steps.  My article had 8 steps.

Once you are finished writing in the content, eHow asks you to list any helpful tips or cautionary points to anyone following the instructions in your article.  So, for example, if you are writing about how to do a particular exercise, you might state a warning that anyone with a back injury should be cautious.

Lastly, eHow will prompt you to add tags to your article and choose a category for filing the article.  Article tags help to optimize your article for search engines.  Choose tags that are directly relevant to your subject-matter.  For example, if you are writing about how to groom a Yorkshire Terrier, your tags might be: dog grooming, pets, pet grooming, and Yorkshire Terrier. There are many other keywords that you can use as well. 

In categorizing your article, eHow lets you choose up to 5 categories.  It is a good idea to list your article in as many relevant categories as possible.  People searching for your topic might arrive at the subject in a number of different ways. 

After these final steps toward publishing your article, eHow lets you go one step further to publish your article to Facebook.  I liked this feature because it added another level of marketing the article I published. 

MAKE MONEY MONDAYS is a forum to discuss ways in which you can create additional sources of income.  I try to focus on particular ideas and steps you can take to create alternative income and passive income sources.  I have also begun a series of posts called “Rental Property Conversion.”  This series follows my husband and I as we turn our property into a rental property.  I will also research and post other useful information in this category. If you like what you see here, please use the orange icon at the top right to receive my content updates by email or RSS reader.  

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Making Money with eHow

This week, I am preparing to try my hand at writing an article for eHow.  I planned to write my first article this past weekend but got tied up with completing the painting of a room in my house.  I will work on writing my first article this week and let you know when I get it posted. 

So, instead, I only managed to set up my eHow account.  Here are the things I observed while setting up my profile.

Setting Up a Profile

I had created an eHow account a while ago but had never set up my profile.  I completed the setup this past Saturday. 

I started with the avatar for my profile.  An avatar is the image that you will use to identify yourself.  I am using this animated avatar, which I got from my account with Yahoo! Answers. 

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I did a brief search online for an interesting avatar, but soon grew bored.  I didn’t want to use an actual photo, so I cheated and took the avatar that I made for my Yahoo account and pulled it over to eHow.  I simply saved the avatar as a file in my iPhoto library on my Mac and uploaded it to eHow.  Fast and simple. 

There was a time where I didn’t place much stock in animated avatars, but they have grown on me.  I think it is important to have an image that identifies you and provides a consistent visual reference for your audience.  I’m not sure at this stage whether a photo is better for building creditability on a site such as eHow.  I wouldn’t have a problem with using a real photo, I just don’t have one suitable for this forum at this time.  I may change my avatar later. 

I also enabled Twitter in my profile.  eHow will notify Twitter whenever I publish or comment on an article.  I will set this up initially.  Once I publish a few articles and/or comment on other articles, I will be able to gauge what, if any, value there is in having Twitter enabled on eHow.  If it looks too spammy then I will disable the Twitter notifier.  Although I am very interested in marketing my works eHow and on here, I am very sensitive to things that might be perceived as spam.  So, I will play this by ear. 

Lastly, I completed the remaining fields in the profile builder, which include inputting Interests, Expertise, Education, and Favorites.

Earning Compensation for Writing

In order to earn compensation for writing articles on eHow, you must enroll in the Writer Compensation Program.  Only legal residents of the United States are permitted to enroll or the opportunity to earn money for articles.  When setting up a payment account with eHow, the site asks for your taxpayer name and ID.  So, if you are like me and write under a pen name, you will be required to enter your real name and social security number or employer ID number under which you pay your taxes.  eHow indicates that all such information is kept confidential.   

The Supplemental Terms of Use applicable to your Writer Compensation Program include the considerations used to determine whether and how much the author will be paid for an article.  The criterion is rather subjective and is in the sole discretion of eHow.  They are:

  • Popularity of the article;
  • Number and quality of inbound links to the article;
  • Topicality and newsworthiness of the article content;
  • Usefulness and applicability of the article content;
  • User response to your articles, such as positive reviews and comments;
  • Degree of specialization of the article content; and
  • Quality of the writing.

I would imagine that things like ‘quality of inbound links’ and ‘usefulness and applicability’ could be pretty nebulous as applied to your work.  In addition, eHow also does not disclose the percentage of your earnings that they are taking, which is a negative in my opinion.  That being said, there is some earning potential here.  Since eHow articles tend to be basic how-to references on subjects in which the author may be an expert or at least very knowledgeable, there may not need to be a lot of research and other preparatory work that goes into writing articles for eHow.  In that case, the somewhat small effort that may go into writing an eHow article may offset the negatives of nebulous criterion and vague percentage breakdowns. 

Arbitrary Termination Provisions

Although this may not be a deal-breaker, every author publishing an article on eHow should be aware of the biting arbitrariness of eHow’s discretion to terminate your account “for any reason or no reason.” 

So, technically, eHow could just decide one day, for example, that it does not like that you spell your username, Marianne, with an ‘i’ and not a ‘y’ and terminate your account while blocking your access to the site.  Once your account is closed, eHow may continue to publish the article(s) that you have written, subject to its own terms for the removal or modification of content by you. 

It is not clear from the terms whether eHow will continue to compensate you for content you have published on the site once your account is terminated or whether you are able to get a distribution of monies already accumulated to your eHow account. 

It is important to have at least a marginal understanding of eHow’s terms and conditions before using the site to avoid surprises later on and to better leverage your awareness of the existing terms against your participation on the site. 

I may write a follow up post once I publish an article to eHow if I make any additional interesting observations.  Have you published any articles on eHow?  What have you observed about using the site?

MAKE MONEY MONDAYS is a forum to discuss ways in which you can create additional sources of income.  I try to focus on particular ideas and steps you can take to create alternative income and passive income sources.  I have also begun a series of posts called “Rental Property Conversion.”  This series follows my husband and I as we turn our property into a rental property.  I will also research and post other useful information in this category. If you like what you see here, please use the orange icon at the top right to receive my content updates by email or RSS reader.  

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Building A Blog: Is It Time For Paid Hosting? Pt. 1

I have been blogging now for a little more than three months.  My goal with Aspire to Grace has always been to get to a point where I could earn passive income directly or indirectly from this site. 

I still have a ways to go building and marketing this website and receiving enough traffic to enable me to earn an income.  As part of this process, I have been thinking more and more about moving over to a hosting service for which I would pay.  I had always intended to do this down the line and even possibly before traffic levels get high enough to warrant such a move. 

My question today is whether now is the time. 

When I sat down to write this post, I realized that I had quite a bit more to say about this topic than I thought at first glance.  I also realized that I am short on time to get this post published.  So, I will break this post into two parts and post the second part next week.  But, you will have to wait until next week to find out whether I have decided to move over to paid hosting at this time. 

When is it time to switch from free to paid hosting?

In a previous post, I discuss some of the benefits of owning a domain name, especially for a business.  Owning your own domain name and coupling it with a paid hosting account, gives you complete control and discretion when it comes to the content and applications on your site. 

Sometimes free hosted, subdomain sites such as WordPress.com and Blogger have restrictions.  For example, some free services won’t allow you to post ads on your page.  Therefore the alternative income side to blogging is severely limited.

The benefits of paid hosting include web support to help you when you are having a problem with your site and the ability to increase bandwidth to accommodate a growing website. 

Great bursts of traffic can take down a subdomain site.  With a paid host site, you have a lot more control over the function of your site.  With the right design, paid hosted sites can look and feel like a higher quality site, which will be good for your business. 

Am I there yet?

I have not yet reached the traffic levels that would compel me to move to a paid host service.  However, traffic levels would not be my only reason for making the switch. 

With a paid host service, I will be forced to learn a lot more and a lot faster.  I will also be able to improve the look and design of this website.  Part of the process of building this website and increasing traffic will include improving the look and feel of Aspire to Grace.

I notice the better quality of sites like The Smart Passive Income Blog and Trish Jones.  These sites include graphics that are a bit more enhancing and compelling.  The visual quality of the sites, in my opinion, is more appealing. 

On this site, I am currently hosted by WordPress.com’s free host service.  I have limited capabilities to manipulate the appearance and functionality on this site as far as improving visual quality and efficiency.  I realize that I may not have tapped into the full potential of WordPress.com’s applications, but I am aware that there are limitations to these types of sites even though I may not be equipped to specify all such limitations here.  That’s why I will need to do a little more pecking at the surface to really figure out whether this is the right move at this time.  Who knows, with a little more research, I may discover additional improvements to make to this site before making the switch to paid hosting.

If I consider the benefits of paid hosting, which include the ability to improve the quality of this site and have full discretion to design and implement alternative income functions, I could be ready to move to a paid host.  But, there are still some other considerations that I will take into account. 

Next week, I will discuss what it would mean to move over to a paid host and what I would have to do to make the switch.  I will also look at whether it is worth the move at this time, considering some of the other things that I need to get done before my move to Mississippi in July. 

Stay tuned for the rest of this discussion. 

In the meantime, do you have any stories to share about moving over to paid hosting?  I’d love them. 

TECHY TUESDAYS is a forum to discuss various technologies and web applications.  I am currently hosting a series of posts called “Building a Blog.”  This series discusses all of the things that I am doing to build this website.  I will also discuss tips and suggestions for building your blog based on my own progress, as well as feed back from others.  If you like what you see here, please use the orange icon at the top right to receive updates by email or RSS reader.  

 
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Rental Property Conversion Series: Real Estate Management Walk-Thru

My next step in converting our primary residential property to a rental property is to hire a property manager.  The management agent that I expect to use is with Long & Foster and came highly recommended by a friend.  

Although Long & Foster’s management division is on the higher end of management fees, they offer a comprehensive service.  Since my husband and I will not be in the same state as our rental property when all is said and done, I may be willing to pay a little more for the peace of mind in knowing that proper care will be given my property and my tenants. 

With Long & Foster, I would pay the first month’s rent as commission, with a monthly management fee of 10% of the monthly rent.  The management fee is in addition to other fees for actual services or repairs procured by Long & Foster for the benefit of my property. 

On Friday, the L&F management agent came by and provided a walk-thru of my property wherein she noted things that I am required to do by law in DC in order to rent my property. 

Security Gates

I have three doors on the house, which provide access to the outside.  All three doors have security gates that require a key to lock and unlock the gate.  Pursuant to DC law, this is a fire hazard.  Therefore, I am required to replace the locks on these doors with single cylinder locks – locks which can be locked and unlocked by hand, without a key.  Since it may defeat the security function of the gate if someone can just reach around and unlock the gate with their hands, I could also add a welding component to the lock to hinder access from outside.  I am also permitted to just remove the security doors as I do not have an obligation provide the security doors as long as all main doors are steel doors. 

I will explore which is the least costly option.  I will probably remove the security doors and will need to install one steel door, as the other two are already steel. 

Fire Extinguishers

In DC, I am required to have a fire extinguisher mounted on the wall in the kitchen and in the hallway on the upper level.  This will be a simple installation that I will most likely do myself. 

Ground Fault Interrupters (GFIs)

The agent informed me that, in DC, you are required to have GFIs at all faucets, which would be in the bathrooms and the kitchen.  The GFI is pretty recognizable as the outlet with the colored reset buttons.  What isn’t clear to me is whether  you must have a GFI outlet at each faucet or whether, if there is an outlet near the faucet, then it must be a GFI. 

Really, it doesn’t matter for me because my house already has GFI outlets at each faucet. 

Other Tips

In addition to these things that I am required to do, she also made suggestions in a few other areas.

Make the Dehumidifier Disappear

She took note of a dehumidifier that I kept stored in a room at the back of my house.  She suggested that I keep it out of site when I am showing the property.  Apparently, a dehumidifier may give the impression that there are moisture problems in the home. 

I had already planned to get rid of it.  I’d used it a couple of years ago when I had a leaky roof that caused some moisture problems in one of my rooms.  I have since replaced the roof and rectified this problem.  So, I no longer need it. 

But, apparently a lot of other people in this city do because I listed it on craigslist this afternoon around noon and by 1p I’d already had 4 inquiries about it. 

Hire an Accountant

 She suggested that I hire an accountant to help me sort out the differences in personal taxation when including a rental property business.  As a general overview, she added that I should expect to report rental income as passive income and depreciate certain renovations and capital improvements to the property. 

This suggestion is timely, since I’d already been thinking about hiring an accountant on some other tax issues.  Now I can kill two birds with one stone. 

Insurance

In anticipation of converting my primary residence to a rental property, I am already preparing to convert my homeowners insurance to landlord insurance, which will include coverage for the property building and landlord liability. 

She also suggested that, in the event that the property is initially vacant when I move to MS, that I wait to convert my insurance to ensure the property is covered during the vacancy.  I haven’t researched this yet, but it seems that under a landlord policy, the building may not be covered unless and until there is a tenant in the property.  Thus, if the building is vandalized or burglarized while vacant, the homeowner is not covered under a landlord insurance policy. 

If you are taking on a rental property, whether or not you will hire a property manager, you should research your state’s property requirements for rental properties.  I’ve only had an initial interview with my prospective property manager.  She gave me some very good information and suggestions.  But, before I sign my management contract, I intend to do a bit of my own research on these and other issues that will be important as I get down to crunch time. 

Have you ever dealt with property management for a rental property?  I’d love to hear your stories.  Please share in the comment section, or, you may email me at suprieta@gmail.com.

MAKE MONEY MONDAYS is a forum to discuss ways in which you can create additional sources of income.  I try to focus on particular ideas and steps you can take to create alternative income and passive income sources.  I have also begun a series of posts called “Rental Property Conversion.”  This series follows my husband and I as we turn our property into a rental property.  I will also research and post other useful information in this category. If you like what you see here, please use the orange icon at the top right to receive my content updates by email or RSS reader.  

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Filed under Alternative Income Sources, Make Money Mondays, Passive and Alternative Income, Real Estate, Rental Property Series