How to Manage Bad Tenants in Maryland

Sometimes a security deposit is not enough to cover damages
Sometimes a security deposit is not enough to cover damages

The vast majority of tenants are excellent. They pay their rent on time, maintain the property as if it were their own place and do not cause any problems for neighbors or other tenants. There are always a few that experience life changing events that sometimes can make it difficult for them to meet their obligations. Health issues and job loss are some of the more significant reasons tenants miss payments. Then there are the tenants who are problem tenants who can make the life of an owner miserable. This post will discuss some of these issues and approaches to dealing with these problem tenants.

Being Reasonable and Understanding

Sometimes the right approach is to be reasonable and understanding. If you have an excellent long term tenant who just lost their job and are actively looking for another you might give them some leeway. Losing an otherwise good tenant through eviction may cost you more money in the long run. Evictions can take a long time in Maryland, costing you serious money. It is a fine line that landlords must follow. Problem tenants may try to take advantage of these situations. We’ve all experienced these manipulative tenants. I can promise that weeding them out does get better as you gain more experience.

Maintain Rental Payment Policies

The rental agreement that both parties signed when they moved in is there for a reason. It should cover among other things what happens if a rent payment is late or missed. It should describe what action will be taken and what penalties may be implemented. It can be difficult for landlords to try to collect from a single mom with small children who has missed the last rental payment. Never the less, communication is very important in these situations and deciding what action to take can be difficult even if you are following the rental agreement.

Keep Documentation on Everything

Any time there is a conversation the interaction should be recorded and saved. Make sure you include the date, the time, the parties involved and what was discussed and any decisions or actions that may have been agreed to. Save your texts, emails and any written material. Even if you have the best tenant ever, there may come a time when it will be valuable to have notes you can refer to on a specific subject that was discussed and / or agreed to.

Find an Experienced Maryland Property Manager

Many landlords are too busy, in another city or just not comfortable interacting with tenants and dealing with conflict over rent collection and damages. This is where professional property managers can fill the gap and provide a service that is professional and business like in dealing with tenants. Hire a property manager who has the experience and reputation for providing quality services. They are also familiar with all of the local and state laws protecting tenants. Real estate agents are also a good source of information.

They will be responsible for collecting the rent as well as screening potential tenants, deal with maintenance issues, hire repair technicians if needed, advertise your rental if needed and deal with tenant issues and complaints. If eviction is necessary, they can manage the process as well. There is a fee for these services of course, however the time and headaches they can save may be worth it for many owners.

Evicting Tenants in Maryland

Sometimes an eviction is your only option
Sometimes an eviction is your only option

The laws governing the eviction process and tenant rights vary from state to state. in Maryland you must have a very good reason to ask them to move, e.g. broken the lease, behind in their rental payments etc. As the landlord you cannot change the locks or remove the tenant’s belongings without a court order in most states. Make sure you have followed the proper process and have excellent documentation so that the courts have no choice but to rule in your favor.

Formal notice of eviction should be sent by registered mail and a copy placed in their mailbox. In Maryland you need to be able to prove the eviction notice was received. Once the eviction notice has been received and the courts have approved the eviction, if the tenant still will not move, the local sheriff may have to get involved.

Careful screening is paramount to avoid problem tenants in Maryland, but remember we all events in our lives that sometimes make it difficult to meet all of our obligations.

Sell Your Rental for Cash

If you are dealing with bad tenants and just want out of the landlord business, sometimes selling the unit to a professional property buyer might be the answer. They will purchase the unit as is, with whatever damage has been done to the unit and they will deal with the tenant. Months of anguish and stress can be eliminated with a quick cash sale to an investor.

Can You Profit From a Fire Damaged Maryland Home


Fire is a common cause of home damage in Maryland
Fire is a common cause of home damage in Maryland

It is your worst nightmare. Smoke is billowing from the windows of your home, the firetrucks have arrived and are pouring thousands of gallons of water into your home to quell the fire. If the flames do not ruin your home, the water will damage everything else. It is a catastrophe on a mammoth scale for most people. For those people who have adequate fire insurance, most insurance companies will rebuild your home again and pay for all of the associated costs and expenses. If your insurance does not provide adequate coverage, selling your home or what is left to it to a home buying company might be a solution for consumers facing huge bills to rebuild their homes.

Maintain Up To Date Records

Keeping thorough paperwork will make the experience easier
Keeping thorough paperwork will make the experience easier

Most insurance companies require that claimants provide documentation of everything that has been lost in a fire. A list of items, with purchase date, value when purchased and the replacement cost if you have replacement cost insurance needs to be provided. Many will not cover you unless you actually replace something that has been damaged.

Keeping a list of everything that you have in your home is impractical and for most people impossible. An alternative is to take photos or a video of everything in your home and keep these images off site somewhere so they can be referred to if needed.

Major Fire Damage Repairs

Your home needs to be rebuilt if it is totally gutted, otherwise it will need to be repaired and all evidence of the fire removed along with the water damage and of course the smell of smoke that seems to penetrate everything. Fortunately, technology exists to remove the smell of smoke to make your home smell great again. All of this work takes time and for most people it means living in a hotel or moving to another home on a temporary basis until your home is finally ready.

Insurance coverage may or may not cover all of your expenses. It is important to review what will be covered and how much you must pay for out of pocket expenses. If your looking at a large bill many consumers will find it difficult to assemble the funds to pay for these out of pocket expenses. Many need to make arrangements for either loans or even new mortgages to help them pay for everything.

Can You Sell the Home As Is?

The answer is yes. There are companies who specialize in purchasing homes that need to be rehabbed for many reasons including fire damage. They will rebuild the home and update it to meet current market conditions and make it move in ready for consumers looking for this style of home. They offer cash and will close a sale quickly, often within two or three weeks.

The big advantage is that you receive cash for your fire damaged home, which can be used to repay any remaining debt that you may have on your home and use the remainder for a down payment on another home. Consumers should always confirm with their home insurance company before taking this step to confirm what coverage they may lose by taking this particular action.

Note that the offer you receive will be discounted heavily. After all the investor must then spend their own money to rehab the house and bring it back to a market ready house for sale. It is a trade off between being able to move on immediately and how much money you might receive from the insurance company.

While selling to an investor allows a quick sale, the more traditional approach is to try to sell the home via a real estate agent. Note that the agent will be paid a commission and it may take several months before a buyer comes along who is interested in a discounted sale price and willing to spend a lot of money rehabbing a home that has experienced fire and water damage.

In either situation, the seller does not perform any repairs and does not spend any money on fixing any of the damages caused by the fire and the associated water damage. Evaluate the cash flow from all of the scenarios. Depending on your situation, a quick cash sale to a professional home buying company may be the answer that works out best for your family.

Confessions of a Real Estate Agent

Hi came across this ABC video and found it interesting. All those shows on Bravo are highly dramatized and gives a poor representation of what it’s like to be a real estate agent. Yes, real estate is competitive and yes, there is frequently confrontation. What I don’t like about these dramatized shows is that they make real estate agents look as though there out for nobody but themselves. This is not true. The best agents I know are also the most conscience and caring people in my network. We always put our clients first and are willing to go to bat on their behalf.

What I did agree with was the concept of the open house. This is rarely for the benefit of the seller. This is an opportunity for the listing agent to meet potential buyers. Buyers that visit an open house rarely purchase that home, but it shows that they are motivated. I have picked up many buyer clients from open houses and will continue to hold them at homes that would attract good clients.

ABC news mentioned that there are situations where the seller is not presented every offer on the home. They claimed that the listing agent had a pocket buyer that they insured got the contract. I haven’t seen this done but it would be illegal. I recommend that you always work with a trusted real estate agent.

Selling Your Home Without Using an Agent in Maryland

Many consumers sell their homes every month and most wonder if they could have sold the home themselves, did they get the best price and did they net the most money after paying for commissions, repairs and even upgrades. If you sell your home yourself you can save a great deal of money, but there is also a lot of work involved which may not be what many would like to take on. This post will walk consumers through what they need to consider and provide an alternative approach that involves selling to an investor or home buying company.

Advantages to Listing Your Home Without an Agent in Maryland

You don't need a real estate agent to sell your home in Maryland
You don’t need a real estate agent to sell your home in Maryland

The single largest advantage is eliminating the Maryland real estate commission which at 6% can be significant. There may also be out of pocket expenses that can be avoided.

You may have to spend some money even if you list it yourself. Minor repairs need to be completed to make your home look its best. Doing the work yourself can save money, however take the time to make it professional looking or hire someone to do the work for you.

If you do sign a listing agreement with an agent, remember that the agent still gets paid even if you sell the home yourself. Commissions, repairs and upgrade costs can quickly eat into any profit you thought you might make from selling your home. There are many good reasons to list with a real estate agent, but we’re going to cover how you can sell your home without one.

Where to Start

Setting a realistic price for your home is one of the most difficult and most important steps you must do. Always do your research and compare your home to others that may be listed in your neighborhood. Criteria such as location, lot size, home size, square footage, number of bedrooms, finished rooms, upgrades, age of appliances, roof etc. are all factors that must be considered. Comparing prices in various listing sites is one way to do it, however these are homes that have not yet sold and may skew the prices somewhat.

If you do set your price and you do not get much interest or you get comments that the price is too high, you can always lower it after a few weeks or months. Be careful to avoid distress sale prices and giving buyers the impression that you are in a must sell situation. This can attract low offers. We see this all the time in Baltimore City where there is a ton of distressed inventory and fewer buyers. Selling without an agent in Baltimore City shouldn’t result in giving away your home. There are many options out there and one that I was impressed by was Dependable Homebuyers. They’re a company that will buy your home and not leave you without a profit. I know the guys personally and can vouch for their honesty and integrity.

What About Advertising

Most people spend a lot of time online narrowing down their search before ever actually looking at a home. Your pictures are incredibly important in this online world. Get your home ready and declutter it before taking any photos. If you are not a good photographer, hire a professional to take the pictures and load the images onto a site that you use to list your home in Maryland.

Prepare well written narrative for each picture. Interested parties will first look at the pictures and then if interested will want to read the details. Well written material adds the detail these people will need to help them make a decision to visit your home.

Getting Your Home Ready

We already mentioned a number of items that home owners need to consider when they sell their home. These steps actually apply whether you sell using an agent or sell your home yourself.

l De-clutter

l Ensure curb appeal looks great

l Landscaping should always look its best

l Super clean everything

l Make all minor repairs

l Clean carpets

l Repaint tired looking walls

l Make a list of selling points e.g. new roof in last two years etc.

l Consider upgrades

l Prepare a brochure that lists all of these benefits

l Describe the area, include proximity to schools, shopping and transit

l Provide your contact info

Dealing with a Serious Offer

Don't forget a cash deposit when accepting a buyer's offer
Don’t forget a cash deposit when accepting a buyer’s offer

Find a contract that you can use and only accept written offers that include a deposit. Accept the offer only after consulting with a real estate attorney. With no agent to work with, you need to handle all financial and legal paperwork. Work with an attorney and a title company you know and can trust.

Too Much Effort, Other Alternatives

For many homeowners dealing with all of the activity outlined in this post, it may be just too much. Even if they use an agent the cost to complete repairs and upgrades to make their home competitive and attract higher offers may not be worth it. By the time you spend thousands of dollars on repairs and upgrades and deal with the delays involved, many consumers may feel that it is just not worth it.

Investors and home buying companies will purchase homes as they are in their present condition. They are interested in making a quick purchase for a home and then spending the time and money to upgrade them to modern décor and designs. They will either rent the home or resell it. Of course they are interested in making a profit and will make a low offer for your home. When compared to the money you may have spent doing your own repairs and upgrades and paying a real estate commission this solution may be the best approach.

Make an informed decision and take the best approach that fits your personal situation.

Small Flaws in Your Home that are Big Deals for Maryland Buyers

Maryland buyers are always looking for a home they can enjoy as well as afford. Many buyer’s today are looking for move in ready homes that require little work in terms of maintenance or repairs. Anything they see that might require some work involving a tradesman or handyman gets translated into money they will have to spend. They will look for a discount on the price they pay for the home to cover these items provided they just do not move on to look at another home that is more to their liking. They will use any excuse they can to lower the price if they do not walk away.

How to Attract a Buyer Quickly When Selling Your House in Maryland

Sellers can avoid these kinds of obstacles by making all of the repairs they can and possibly some upgrades as well to obtain a higher price. Have your agent do a thorough walk through the house to point out items they feel should be dealt with. Even a friend will see things that need work that you may have glossed over for years. Alternatively, you can sell your home to a Maryland investor as is for a quick sale.

Here are a few items that bother many prospective buyers. It is by no means a complete list, you may want to review your own home and add to this list.

Electrical Panel at Capacity

Many older homes have older electrical panels with limited capacity for new circuits. They may have been installed according to the electrical code at the time, but are sadly lacking compared to today’s electrical code. Bringing them up to standard may be needed, especially if more circuits need to be added to accommodate added rooms and wall plugs. This can be expensive.

Window and Door Screens that are Ripped

Screens that have holes in them or are ripped along the frame need to be replaced by someone. The material is actually quite inexpensive, however hiring someone to do the work can add up. It is a nuisance that many consumers just do not want to put up with. Aesthetically they also look bad and can cost you a lot when some buyers wonder what else is not looked after and well maintained.

Soiled Carpeting, Tired Paint

Dirty carpets turn off home buyers
Dirty carpets turn off home buyers

If your carpeting and flooring appears soiled and the walls need a fresh coat of paint many buyers will want to delay their move until this work can be completed. There is a cost for the delay as well as cleaning and painting. They may have to delay the sale of their own house or put items in storage while they get this work completed. All of these issues can cost money and the buyer will look for a discount to cover this extra cost. Again they might just walk out and not even make an offer because they really do not want to deal with this work.

Door Locks that Stick, Doors that Do Not Close Properly

Houses shift on their foundations, sometimes imperceptibly causing doors to stick and locks to be difficult to operate. Wooden doors can also expand with high humidity which can cause stickiness. Some times lock just need a little WD40 to make them work properly. If the buyer is not handy and cannot do some of these minor repairs themselves, it can become a significant issue for them.

Showers and Bathtubs

Moldy showers need to be cleaned before selling
Moldy showers need to be cleaned before selling

Leaks, mold, wild colors, soap scum and missing grout can all be a huge issue for many Maryland buyers. Have the leaks repaired, if there is mold, have it removed and the room repainted. A thorough cleaning of all of the soap buildup and re-grouting can make a world of difference. If you have a wild color such as a mauve toilet and matching tub you may want to consider removing them. Buyers often want both a tub for bathing the kids as well as showers for the adults.

Tiny Closets

Buyers just do not want to deal with a small closet. They often have more clothes than will fit and they may just walk. A small closet can be come a major sticking point that will need to be addressed for many buyers. Maryland homes are notorious for having small closets so if your home has a walk-in closet then your home is almost guaranteed to fly off the shelf.

Open Concept Kitchens and Homes

An open concept kitchen can go a long way in attracting a buyer
An open concept kitchen can go a long way in attracting a buyer

The trend to day is the open concept home, especially from the kitchen looking out onto the breakfast area and the dining area. If you home is a series of small rooms, that give a claustrophobic feeling, consideration may be needed to open up walls and make the home feel larger and more welcoming.

Buyers Are Picky in Maryland’s Real Estate Market

Anything can be done to remove any and all perceived repair or upgrade costs in your home can help sell your home more quickly and even a higher price. If you are not up for all of these repairs and upgrades you may be interested in selling the home as is to an investor who will offer a lower price for a quick sale allowing the seller to move onto their next home. I’ve been around real estate for a while and have seen buyers in Maryland becoming more and more picky. It is hard to over improve a property these days so when you’re on the fence go for the nicer upgrade. It’ll pay off in the long run.

Welcome to Our Real Estate Blog

Consider this the beginning of our "Open House" where we show you all the great things we've learned about real estate over the years
Consider this the beginning of our “Open House” where we show you all the great things we’ve learned about real estate over the years

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