Month: August 2013

Looking for a Rental Home – Ask the Right Questions


Matthew Whitaker - Friday, August 30, 2013

When you are searching for a rental home, it is important that you ask yourself the right questions and make sure that you pick a property that meets your needs.

Sometimes we can get impatient and sign up for the first home we find that fits within our budget. This quick decision, however, can be dangerous and ultimately leave you wishing you had continued your search before signing the lease.

When you are looking to move into a rental home, ask yourself the following questions to help increase your chances of selecting a place that will meet your needs.

Where Do I Want to Live?

Before starting your search, make sure you have ideas of where you want to live. When you tour the property, make sure you are taking into consideration the location. Is the property location convenient for you? Do you feel safe? The goal here is to determine what is important to you when it comes to location (proximity to work, friends, etc.) and make sure the property you choose fits that criteria if at all possible.

What is the Laundry Situation?

Most people forget about the importance of laundry. Assume that you will be doing laundry at least every other week. Are there washer and dryer connections? Is there a laundry facility on-site? Will you have to commute to do laundry? Make sure you select a property that meets your expectations when it comes to amenities offered – such as laundry.

Can You Make this “Home?”

Another aspect of the rental property search that people often forget involves whether or not they believe they can make the property feel like home. Remember, this is a place you will likely return to every night and therefore it is important for you to be able to feel comfortable.

In short, when renting a property you will more than likely sign a one-year lease. Make sure you select a place that is in a location you like, has the amenities you need, and will feel like home.

If you are looking for homes for rent in Birmingham, AL, then turn to gkhouses.com. We can help you find homes and condos to meet your rental property needs.

How to Know it is Time to Hire a Property Manager


Matthew Whitaker - Wednesday, August 28, 2013

When it comes to investing in rental properties, some people choose to hire a property management company immediately in order to avoid the day-today-day responsibilities. Others choose to be a landlord, but often find that at some point in their career they need assistance with managing the rentals.

How do you – the landlord – know when you need to stop and ask for help?

Burdened by Maintenance Requests

When it comes to homes, some properties will be more problematic than others. If you find yourself burdened with maintenance requests and have to constantly stop what you are doing to avert the next disaster, then a property management company can provide you with much-needed relief.

Own Multiple Properties

Another problem that many landlords have is that their properties are increasing and therefore so are their tenants. The more tenants that you have, the more phone calls you will get, and the more checks you have to collect, etc. Simply taking these phone calls and addressing the continuous questions can take up a significant amount of time, which is where property managers can help.

Unable to Keep Up with Laws

Laws are ever changing and as an owner of rental properties, you are responsible for ensuring that you abide by all laws and building codes. Property managers can help you to ensure that your properties meet all codes and that your processes (leases, tenant agreements, etc.) meet rental laws.

At the end of the day, being an owner of rental properties can be a very rewarding career. If you want to free up some of your time and relieve some of your stress, then it may be time to hire a property management company.

If you are looking for a Birmingham, AL property manager that you can trust, then call on gkhouses.com. Call us today at 205.940.6363 to learn more about how we can help you manage your Birmingham rental homes.

Birmingham Home Sales Are Up 24%


Matthew Whitaker - Friday, August 23, 2013

Recently, the Alabama Center of Real Estate (ACRE) announced that home sales are up 8.3% for the state; however, what are the specific numbers for Birmingham?

Home sales in Birmingham increased to 1,187 in July 2013, which is a 24% increase from July of 2012. Although this sounds rather impressive at first glance, a look at home sales for the Birmingham area in this time last year reveals that the number is only relative.

Specifically, July of 2012 the Birmingham area experienced a major drop in home sales. During that month, there were only 960 home sales. In fact, that number was a 4% decrease from July 2011. Therefore, the 24% gain is not nearly as “accurate” in revealing how quickly the Birmingham housing market is recovering as one might think at first glance.

With that being said, the city is definitely making steady progress toward recovery when it comes to residential home sales. There were 1,255 homes sales in May of this year and 1,128 in June. Therefore, the number for July (1,187) is definitely in line with what has been happening over the last few months.

Birmingham Real Estate: July 2012 vs. July 2013

Although comparing July 2012 to 2013 may be deceiving when it comes to home sales, there are still some great comparisons to be made.

For example, the median home price in 2012 was $157,000 in comparison to $190,000 this year, a 21.02% increase. Additionally, homes were on the market 99 days in 2012 with a nine-month supply in 2012. In comparison, homes were only on the market for an average of 75 days and the supply decreased to only seven months.

In conclusion, the Birmingham real estate market is definitely improving; however, the increase in home sales for the area is a bit misleading.

If you are looking for Birmingham, AL homes for rent or you are a property owner seeking a property management company in the area that you can trust, then rely on gkhouses.com. Call us today at 205.940.6363.

Alabama Cities Listed as “Most Affordable Homes”


Matthew Whitaker - Thursday, August 22, 2013

In the current real estate market, homebuyers and investors alike are looking for discount properties, which are becoming harder to find. Over the last few years, national and local housing markets have made progress toward recovery, which is affecting home affordability. In fact, many people are opting to rent instead of buy as a result of rising mortgage rates and quickly-rising home prices.

Two cities in Alabama have been highlighted as being in the top 25 cities in the United States as cities that are growing and have affordable homes.

Millbrook, AL – Median Home Price of $109,000 Millbrook, AL has experienced a rather fast increase in population since 1990. Being located on the outskirts of Montgomery, the city has become rather popular for those working in the state’s capital. The median home price in Millbrook is $109,000 with a median household income of $70,325. Those looking to relocate or invest in properties in the Montgomery area may wish to consider Millbrook for its affordable housing opportunities and growing population.

Helena, AL – Median Home Price of $138,842 Along will Millbrook, the city of Helena also made the list. The median home price for the city is $138,842 with a median household income of $86,230. Being located near Birmingham, AL, many people who work in Birmingham have opted to live in Helena due to the city’s reputation as being the safest in the state. Now is a great time to buy a home or investment property in the area due to its affordability and real estate market outlook.

In short, home affordability is declining throughout the country as home prices rise and more people opt to rent as opposed to buying. However, investors looking for income properties are still able to find some great and affordable properties if they know where to look – including two Alabama gems in Millbrook and Helena.

If you are a property owner looking for Birmingham, AL property managers, then call on gkhouses.com at 205.940.6363. On the other hand, if you are looking for Birmingham rental homes, explore our listings to find the perfect place to call home.

Decline in Home Affordability


Matthew Whitaker - Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Since the real estate market crash, housing affordability has been at an all-time high due to the low home prices and high number of distressed properties on the market.

However, due to sluggish economic outlook and lack of confidence in the real estate market, many homebuyers and investors alike resisted buying a home over the last few years.

Today, the real estate market is definitely making progress toward recovery and the unemployment rate is declining, but with this progress, homes are becoming more expensive and therefore harder for many Americans to afford.

According to the National Association of Home Builders / Wells Fargo Housing Opportunity Index, 69.3% of homes in the second quarter of this year were “affordable” for families with the median United States household income of $64,400. This is a decrease from 73.7% for the first quarter of 2013. Furthermore, this number has not been below 70% since 2008.

Mortgage Interest Deductions Are at Risk

The affordability issues could potentially be magnified if Congress decides to cut mortgage interest deductions, which go a long way in helping to encourage homeownership. In fact, Congress is looking at everything from first and second home-mortgage interest deductions as well as capital gain exclusions and property tax write-offs.

Mortgage interest write-offs consist of more than $70 billion of expenses per year, which is why they are a talking point in recent tax reform proposals. If these reductions are removed, then home affordability will more than likely decrease even more, especially as home prices continue to rise throughout the country.

If housing affordability continues to decline, even more people may look at renting as opposed to buying – even with rent rising throughout much of the country.

If you are looking for homes for rent in Birmingham, AL or you are in need of a property manager for your rental homes, contact gkhouses.com at 205.940.6363.

Alabama Home Sales Up 8.3%


Matthew Whitaker - Wednesday, August 14, 2013

When gauging real estate market progress, one of the best indicators for strides toward recovery involves examining area home sales. Recently, the Alabama Center for Real Estate (ACRE) released a report that shows that home sales throughout the state are up 8.3% in the first six months of 2013 in comparison to January through June of 2012.

At the same time, the report revealed more information about the state’s real estate market progress, including rising home prices and a declining number of days the average home is on the market before it sells – both of which are positive signs.

Alabama Home Prices Increase 5.6%

Most projections of national real estate market trends for 2013 included rising home prices. As the number of distressed properties on the market decline and the inventory decreases, home prices will usually rise. However, the specific increase is very much determined by the local real estate market.

For example, states with a judicial foreclosure process tend to make slower progress toward recovery than those with a non-judicial foreclosure process. Fortunately, Alabama is not a judicial foreclosure state, and therefore is not as plagued with a backlog of foreclosure properties as other states.

Homes Are Leaving the Market Quicker

Along with the increase in home sales and rise in home prices in Alabama, homes that are currently on the market are leaving the market 7% faster the first six months in 2013 in comparison to the same time in 2012. This is great news that definitely shows that consumer confidence in Alabama is rising as homes are starting to leave the market at a faster rate.

At the end of the day, the ACRE report shows that the Alabama real estate market is very much making significant strides toward recovery.

If you are looking for a Birmingham property manager for your rental property, or you are looking for homes for rent in the Birmingham area, contact gkhouses.com – a property management company you can trust.

A Look at Real Estate Market Trends


Matthew Whitaker - Monday, August 12, 2013

If you are a real estate market investor, then you understand the importance of remaining up-to-date on housing market trends both nationally and within your local communities. Let’s take a look at a current trend as well as a potential movement for the future.

Pending Home Sales and Rising Mortgage Rates

Over the last few years, investors and potential homebuyers alike have gotten accustomed to low mortgage rates – rates that were kept low to help encourage people to invest in a rocky real estate market. However, as the national housing market has shown considerable progress toward recovery, these interest rates are rising, which is affecting pending home sales – but only slightly.

According to the National Association of Realtors, pending home sales declined slightly from May to June of this year because of higher mortgage rates. However, pending sales were still up 10.9% from 2012.

Although some potential homebuyers are backing out of pending deals due to floating mortgage rates, overall pending home sales are rising despite higher interest rates. This trend will more than likely continue throughout the foreseeable future as the housing market continues to make progress toward “normal.”

Upcoming Trend: Mini-Apartments

One of the potential upcoming trends for the future – especially for big cities with limited space – is the increase of mini-apartments. Over the last few years, Americans have been downsizing, and will more than likely continue to do so in the near future. Plus, with the digital society that we currently live in, the needed space is limited – everything from books and movies can be kept on handheld devices and “in the cloud.”

These mini-apartments are incredibly popular in Europe and will more than likely increase in popularity in U.S. cities in the near future. In fact, cities like Seattle and Manhattan already have mini-apartments, which have proven to be rather attractive for Millennials.

In short, pending home sales and the development or mini-apartments will likely continue to increase throughout the near future. Keep an eye on these two trends, especially if you are a real estate investor.

Contact gkhouses.com at 205.940.6363 if you are looking for a Birmingham, AL property management company that you can trust or if you are looking for rental homes in the Birmingham area.

The Real Estate Market Crash’s Effect on Rent vs. Buy


Matthew Whitaker - Friday, August 9, 2013

Since the real estate market crash, people have been skeptical about buying a home. Home prices throughout much of the country are starting to rise. At the same time, the number of foreclosures on the market decline. Despite the signs of progress, many people are still having a hard time deciding between renting and buying.

In fact, with rental rates rising, one might suspect that the number of people buying in the current housing market would increase; however, it appears as though potential homebuyers are still opting to rent.

Consumer Confidence Remains Low Despite Market Progress

One of the main reasons for homeowners clinging to renting as opposed to buying involves consumer confidence. The MacArthur Foundation found in a recent study that despite the fact that the housing market is improving nationally, consumers still lack confidence in real estate.

Specifically, the study found that 77% of people believe America is still in the middle of the crisis or believes that the housing market has not yet hit the bottom (that it will get worse). That is a staggering number that definitely explains why people are opting to rent as opposed to buy in the current real estate market.

However, the survey also revealed that more than 70% of people still claim that they want to own a home in the future – showing that homeownership is still very much a part of the American Dream.

At the end of the day, the demand for housing is still high as rental rates increase – factors that are clearly being driven by a lack of consumer confidence in the real estate market.

If you are an investor looking for a Birmingham, AL property management company to help alleviate the day-to-day burdens of property ownership, or you are looking for rental properties in Birmingham, call on gkhouses.com.

Are You Sure You Want to be a Landlord?


Matthew Whitaker - Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Investing in real estate can be a very fun and lucrative business, especially if you are patient. Typically, investors will buy properties for one of two reasons: flipping or renting. Regardless of which route you choose (and you can do both), there are pros and cons associated with each avenue.

When it comes to house flipping, you can buy a property and flip it for a profit. The great thing about this method of investing is the full return on your investment once the house sells.

On the other hand, having an income property (one you rent out) often requires a little more patience, but can provide a relatively stable source of income for many years to come.

If you decide to invest in rental homes, then you will have to determine if you would rather be a landlord or hire a property management company.

Being a Landlord Requires Time

One of the hardest things about being a landlord is the massive amount of time that it can take to properly manage a property. From selecting tenants and collecting rent payments to scheduling repairs and marketing your rental properties, simply managing a few properties can quickly become a fulltime job.

As are result, when you chose to invest in rental properties, make sure you honestly have enough time to manage the day-to-day aspects of the business or hire a property management company to handle these aspects for you so you can focus your time on finding new investment opportunities.

Avoid the Stress – Hire a Property Manager

Along with being a huge time commitment, being a landlord can be rather stressful, especially when having to deal with problematic tenants. A property manager will take care of all of these issues and will thoroughly screen tenants on the front end, helping to decrease your likelihood of having tenant issues in the future.

At the end of the day, when investing in rentals make sure you are prepared to commit the time that will be needed to manage the property successfully, or hire a property management company to handle the day-to-day aspects.

If you are investing in Birmingham, AL rental homes, then contact gkhouses.com at 205.940.6363 and allow us to handle the day-to-day management of your income properties.

Investors Search for Income Properties as Rent Increases


Matthew Whitaker - Monday, August 5, 2013

When the real estate market crashed, many investors turned to purchasing discount homes and turning them into rental properties for the steady stream of income. In fact, house flipping was essentially dead for a couple of years after the crash – a tumble that led many with an interest in flipping homes to completely new career fields.

However, as the real estate market started to make progress toward recovery, many investors had a renewed interest in buying and selling homes again, but it appears as though investing in rentals has definitely not lost its appeal.

The Demand for Rental Homes

Over the last few years, rental prices have increased in certain zip codes of Birmingham. This has been in large part due to the high lending standards and unstable housing market that has kept many people from buying a new home. Today, although tight financing restrictions have ebbed and the market is improving, the strengthening economy is leading to an increase in rent in many cities.

As a result of the increasing rent, many investors are looking for homes to turn into rentals while developers are trying to build condominiums and rental complexes as quickly as possible.

Why Many Investors Are Avoiding Turning Homes Into Rentals

Although now is a great time to buy homes for those with an interested in investing in rental homes, many investors shy away from this market. Why? More often than not they do not desire to be a landlord – the day-to-day aspects can be incredibly time consuming and prohibit them from doing what they love.

Fortunately, property managers are the perfect people for these investors. From tenant selection to collecting rent payments and scheduling maintenance requests, a property management company can take care of the daily aspects of owning a rental property – saving you valuable time and energy.

If you are interested in investing in rental properties in Birmingham, AL, then call on gkhouses.com – a property management company you can trust. Call us today at 205.940.6363 to learn more.