Like all the North in Game of Thrones said, Winter is coming. For those who live in the Western US or down south, congratulations on never having to deal with real snow. If you live in the northern US or have rentals up here, you better be winterizing your homes and your rentals. Snow and ice do serious damage to cars, houses, trees, and create bigger problems than most can imagine.
The idea behind real estate investing is to get a rental that is worth more after you’ve bought it. If you buy the rental close to winter and don’t have a tenant, you will need to do a couple things to make sure the house can still be livable when spring shows up without costing you an arm and a leg.
Dr. Matt Motil discusses the ways to winterize your rentals. This is so important as a real estate investor in the northern United States. Keep your rentals running even if you are between tenants or doing some renovations.
TIP #1 Water pipes are easily the biggest pain in the ass when it comes to winter. If no one is living in the rental and the water is static, the consistent below-freezing temperatures can expand the pipes and cause them to burst. This means you can water going all over the place and ruining your floors in bathrooms and where sinks are.
Make sure that you have insurance! It sounds simple, but if the pipes burst or your tenant somehow causes the pipes to burst, you will need the help to clean up the place.
If the rental is empty, you need to make sure the heat is on. To prevent the frozen pipes, having the heat anything above freezing will help keep the pipes from expanding and causing water damage. I would suggest buying something like the Nest thermostat so you can control the temperature through your phone and from anywhere.
Your other option to keep your pipes from freezing is to find where the water comes into the house. Find the pipe that supplies the water from the city and turn it off completely. That way, if the heat shuts off and the pipes do freeze, the water will be contained in the basement, crawlspace or wherever that valve is.
Extra tip: if you get a new tenant in right before winter, you need to make sure that they put the utilities in their name. Otherwise, the water is not turned on or the gas is not turned on and you will still end up with burst pipes.
Extra extra tip: If you know that no one will be living in the rental for a couple months or the duration of winter, some cities will come out and turn your water off at street level. That will provide the most protection from having a pipe burst in the house.
TIP #2 Get a security system. Don’t let your house sit vacant over winter without some sort of security system to keep people out. Even in nice areas, people would rather break into a house to stay warm than sleep on the streets. The broken windows or doors to get in can let cold air in (freeze your pipes), let snow in and do water damage etc. If you only check on your rental once a week or less, that’s more than enough time for the rental to suffer serious damage. You don’t have to get a video monitor system if you don’t want one. You can put in a window alarm or something that will alert you if the door is opened in the empty rental.
You want to catch the squatters quickly! Depending on your state, if they are there for more than a day or so, you will have to evict them, like you would a tenant.
TIP #3 Make sure the power to the rental is on. In the summer you might be able to get away with flipping the power off for periods of time. If you don’t have electric, your furnace won’t kick on and everything will freeze. Electric or gas, however you heat the rental, has to be on!
What’s Going On
If you love the returns of real estate investing, but don’t want to deal with any people, you have the option to be the bank. You can be part of a trust or a fund. Right now, I have a fund set up for accredited investors with over $5 million in assets. The fund has preferred interest and 70% profit sharing. Visit me at investwithdrmatt.com to find out if you have the opportunity to invest with us.
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