Navigating Real Estate Auctions

Buying a home at a home auction is not a new process, but it’s one that’s unfamiliar to most. There are lots of myths surrounding home auctions, and plenty of people who think of a home auction as a last resort, rather than a first choice.

RealtyHive is here to clear the air. Knowing about home auctions could make your next home purchase easier—and could even save you money.

Types of Home Auctions

If you think a home auction only happens in the event of a foreclosure, you’re not alone. However, there are actually multiple types of real estate auctions:

Short Sale

Foreclosures are time-consuming and expensive. When a homeowner owes more on their mortgage than what the house is worth, they might have the choice to put their home up for a short sale auction and avoid foreclosure.

From a buyer’s perspective, this type of real estate auction has its pros and cons. Home inspections are a toss-up—you might be able to get one, or you might not. Oftentimes, these sales are cash only, which works great for some, but isn’t ideal for home buyers needing to finance the purchase. Short sale auctions are also difficult to find for regular home buyers.

Sheriff/Trustee/Federal Sale

The name changes depending on location, but this is a foreclosure auction. The bank wants to get the money or the property. If you’re able to purchase, you’ll need to have the funds right away and there are typically no inspections. More often than not, you’ll buy without even getting to see the site first.

Auction

Regular real estate auctions happen at the seller’s choice—they’re not foreclosing or at risk for it. Interestingly enough, this type of home sale happens a lot in Europe and Australia. Home auctions are just beginning to pick up speed in the US.

Auctions can have high fees—15% at the highest. Whether they’re paid for by the seller or the buyer depends, so as a buyer, your expenses could dramatically increase. These fees do not include working with a real estate agent—an additional 6% commission on average.

That being said, luxury properties often sell faster at an auction than if going the traditional route. If you’re looking to buy an average/regular home and are in the US, it will be harder to find one through real estate auctions.

Time-Limited Events

This is an exclusive home auction, available through RealtyHive. Here are some of the draws:

Benefits of Time-Limited Events for Home Buying

  1. Don’t require a reserve

    The market helps find the right price.

  2. Contingencies are still allowed

    Buyers (and their potential investment) are still protected.

  3. Traditional financing

    Unlike other auctions, buyers can still apply for loans to finance their home purchase.

  4. No crazy fees

    Buyers are waived from having to pay expensive fees.

  5. All properties

    Time-limited events work for all types of properties, including vacant land and commercial properties.

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At RealtyHive, we truly think we offer the best home auction option on the market. The countless sellers and buyers who have worked with us would agree. 

But don’t feel as though you have to take our word for it—this blog is for information purposes, not a sales pitch. No matter the buying route you go, it’s good to know how home auctions work.

Which Home Exterior Is Best?

“Don’t judge a book by its cover” is always good advice, but when it comes to homes, the outside matters quite a bit. Knowing about a home’s exterior is essential information for home buyers and home sellers alike. Read on to learn about the best home exteriors.

Vinyl

Vinyl siding is the most common exterior in the United States. For as durable and versatile as it is, it’s reasonably priced. Plus, there are countless vinyl color options and patterns to choose from, and it doesn’t require painting.

The Cons: While extremely durable, it’s not infallible. If a panel becomes damaged or cracks (such as in extremely cold weather), it can’t be patched up—the whole panel will need replacing.

It should be added that while vinyl can add value to your home’s worth, this isn’t always the case. Homes located in historic districts that are “updated” with vinyl will likely lose value rather than gain.

Composite

Composite siding resembles wood but is actually made from PVC. It’s cheaper than actual cedar siding, and won’t attract critters or rot like wood siding will. People are choosing composite siding more frequently for its beautiful look and curb appeal.

The Cons: It’s considerably more expensive than traditional vinyl siding. Since it’s so new, we don’t have a lot of information on the long-term downsides.

Brick

One of the oldest building materials, brick actually has more than just aesthetic benefits. Brick is made of clay and other natural materials, making it eco-friendly. It also minimizes mold and mildew, and even dust mites—great for people with dust or mold allergies. Plus, brick helps stabilize your home’s temperature and can cut down energy bills.

The Cons: If you live in an area where earthquakes and/or erosion is prevalent, brick doesn’t do a good job of shifting and can mess with your foundation. In extreme climates, temperatures cause brick to expand and contract (another thing you don’t want). Also, while bricks themselves are super durable, the mortar that holds them together is not. 

Shake

Made of cedar, shake looks gorgeous and is reminiscent of classic homes on the East coast. Shake is more resistant to insects and rot than other wood shingles.

The Cons: Even though it’s durable, any kind of wood shingle or siding requires a lot more maintenance and upkeep. It might be cheaper to install than some other exterior types, but you’ll pay a lot to ensure it lasts.

Stone Veneer

From woodland cottages to modernized suburban homes, stone adds a wonderfully appealing texture to a home’s exterior. Stone veneer is a synthetic alternative to real stones, meaning it costs less but can still bring the richness you’re looking for.

The Cons: Stone veneer isn’t eco-friendly—it doesn’t come from sustainable sources. A subpar product or poor installation can cause moisture to seep in, among other problems (though this is true for virtually all exterior types).

Adobe

While vinyl siding might be the most common material for a home’s exterior, this answer changes when you travel southwest. Adobe is a temperature-regulating material that withstands the tests of time—one of the oldest structures in the US (the San Miguel Mission, built in the early 17th century) is made of adobe. It’s durable, environmentally friendly, and visually stunning.

The Cons: Adobe doesn’t fare nearly as well in climates with lots of water. While not impossible, adobe will require more maintenance if used in places outside of the desert. Sudden rainstorms in the desert could also pose a threat to this type of exterior.

Metal

Metal siding can make a house look as modern as it looks rustic—it’s surprisingly versatile in its aesthetics. Galvanized steel can be painted with relative ease, and aluminum siding doesn’t rust. Studies show it can have an ROI as high as 86%, making it a definite contender for your home’s exterior. Plus, it’s recyclable!

The Cons: There’s no “foolproof” metal option. Aluminum might not rust, but it can dent super easily (such as from a hail storm or even an errant baseball). Steel is much more durable, but much more prone to rust. Zinc is a newer material for metal siding, but it costs a lot more than aluminum. 

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Now that you’ve learned about the best and most common home exteriors, put your knowledge to the test! Look through our real estate listings to see what exteriors are out there on the market. Whether you’re looking to find your dream home or sell your existing house, RealtyHive can help. Work with us for a time-limited event today!

What Is an Escalation Clause?

You’re a first-time home buyer and just found your dream house. You put in an offer. The seller goes with someone else.

That’s OK, because shortly after you find another beautiful home! You put in your offer. But once again, the seller goes with someone else.

Anyone would be bummed in this situation. Most would be thinking the same thing: How can I break the pattern?

The escalation clause is a potential solution. See how this real estate tip can keep your offer on the table!

What It Is

The escalation clause is this little-known addendum that you can add to your offer. If you hear that there are other offers on the table, you can submit an escalation clause to help give your offer a little boost.

Infographic explaining what an escalation clause is in real estate

How It Works

Oftentimes, interested home buyers will submit an offer on a house they really love, listing the max price they’d pay off the bat. Their offer still might not get accepted, but even if it does, they might end up paying more than they needed to.

Let’s say you put in your offer at $250k. You find out there are other offers. Here’s what you can do:

  • Determine what your maximum amount is
    • Ex: “I don’t want to pay more than $280k on a house.”
  • Decide the incremental amount you’ll extend your initial offer
    • Ex: “I’ll increase my offer by $1200 up to $280k.”

There’s a lot that goes into making an offer, and an escalation clause doesn’t guarantee success. However, it can keep your foot in the real estate door, and it’s handy for when you find a house that you really want.

Can an Escalation Clause Backfire?

Not really, except in the sense that you could end up paying your max when you didn’t need to. The best way to prevent this is by only submitting an escalation clause when you know there are other offers. Don’t submit if the sellers tell you “We’re expecting other offers” or something along those lines—only when there are actual, written offers on the table. Ask the seller’s agent to let you know when other written offers have been presented.

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Pre-Event Offers: An Escalation Clause Alternative

Placing a pre-event offer for a home auction is similar to an escalation clause. With RealtyHive, your pre-event offer could be accepted and then you wouldn’t even have to wait for the event itself! You can submit your offer and increase it in the same increments. We also sell traditional properties, so escalation clauses can help in competitive situations.

You might have been unsuccessful with offers in the past, but with your newfound escalation clause and pre-event offer knowledge, we think your future of home ownership is looking pretty bright. Check out some of the incredible properties on RealtyHive today!

Special thanks to @fixandflip_kdesigns for their business tips.

How to Stage Your Kitchen For Sale

The place where food brings family and friends together, the kitchen is perhaps the most important room in your home. 

In order to sell your home and get your pick of offers, you want to showcase your kitchen as a desirable place. A dingy, cluttered, or even outdated kitchen will likely turn away buyers; a polished and organized space will do just the opposite. With these staging tips, you’ll be set for house showings, marketing photos, and selling as a whole.

Tip #1: Set an accurate listing price.

We’ve talked about finding out how much your home is worth, but this is also important to keep in mind before you start showings (or marketing your property online). If your appliances, counters, or cupboards are outdated, replacing them just before trying to sell doesn’t make sense. It’s OK if your kitchen doesn’t resemble a set from Food Network—just make sure the state of your kitchen is reflected accurately in the listing.  

Tip #2: Clean, clear, and declutter.

The trick to staging is that your home shouldn’t look like your home on a random Tuesday, but instead look like it could be somebody else’s home. Cleaning your kitchen until it’s spotless should go without saying, but here are a few other ways you can tidy up:

  • Take magnets off of the fridge.
  • Clear off all kitchen surfaces.
  • Move any pet bowls to the garage or mudroom.
  • Organize your fridge and cupboards.
  • Consider giving your walls a fresh coat of paint if it’s due.
    • At the very least, don’t forget to wash and clean your walls!

Tip #3: Put the spotlight on ______. 

What are the best aspects of your kitchen? Are they those gorgeous hardwood floors? Your lighting fixtures? The ornate backsplash? Whatever it is, make sure these aspects stand out.

Polishing your wood floors, replacing light bulbs, or hanging up a dish towel that complements the color scheme are just some examples of inexpensive—but effective—ways to highlight your kitchen.

Tip #4: Turn on all the lights.

The brighter, the better! A dark kitchen isn’t welcoming, and it can ruin even the best kitchens when trying to photograph. Staging your kitchen—whether for photographs or an open house (or both)—is most effective when you turn on all the lights.

Tip #5: Spruce it up!

Weirdly enough, real estate agents tend to have a habit of setting out two empty wine glasses, an unopened bottle of wine, and calling that staging. While subtlety is key, that doesn’t exactly sell your house in an eye-catching way. 

A simple succulent or other houseplant serves as an excellent table centerpiece. Reupholstering your chairs or stools is a great way to add a pop of color (or to provide color balance). A cute dish towel can draw just the right amount of attention. Sprucing up your kitchen takes thought but hardly any time—and it can be just what your kitchen staging is missing.

Selling your house takes a lot of work, as well as time. But when you work with RealtyHive, you can sell fast, easy, and on your terms. Contact us to sell through a time-limited event today!

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Luxury Living in The Great Outdoors

Right now, wherever you are reading this, picture your yard. Are you impressed? Are you dying to have people over so you can humbly show off your amazing patio space in hopes they’ll compliment your work? If not, you’re missing out on quite the opportunity. A yard can be turned into one’s own personal oasis, a vacation just steps from your backdoor. This article is focused on showing the potential yards have. If you look through this and see something that you think is impressive, consider this your sign to do it. Create your own oasis. 

S78w21060 Twin Ponds Rd, Muskego, WI, 53150, United States 

 6 beds, 5 baths, $2,699,995

Are you ready for a Mediterranean vacation but don’t have the time or money to make it happen? It’s okay, I got you covered. You can have your very own personal Mediterranean getaway in this Mediterranean Tuscany Custom Built Home. Serenity is just a few steps away with this beauty!

View property listing here!


W204n9901 Lannon Rd, Colgate, WI, 53017, United States

4 beds, 4 baths, $1,200,000

Want a home-like James Bond? Classy, private, smart but able to have a good time at the drop of a hat. This handsome home has a Yoga/Exercise Room, Music Room, Game Room. LR/Kit Patio doors to a large deck overlooking the Pool and Hot Tub, complete with a saltwater pool. The only thing that could make this house more perfect was if it only cost $.007. 

View property listing here!


590 S Lake Shore Dr, Lake Geneva, WI, 53147, United States

13 beds, 16 baths, $13,900,000

If you ever wanted to party like Gatsby this would be the perfect house to do so, just make sure I get the invite. The elegant features gives it timeless class and charm. You can spend your days in the pool, on the lake, or maybe relaxing in one of the many lounging areas on the vast patio. 

View property listing here!


1002 S Knoll Ln, Lake Geneva, WI, 53147, United States

4 beds, 7 baths, $4,250,000

Life on the lake has never looked this good. Think Duck Dynasty meets Keeping Up With The Kardashians, a luxurious combination of classic cabin vibes with classy modern touches. Not to mention the breathtaking view of Geneva Bay, Spectacular Infinity Edge Pool with Diving Board and Slide plus Hot Tub, Gazebo and Private Pier with 2 Canopied Boat Slips!

View property listing here!


4277 Blackstone Ct, Middleton, WI, 53562, United States

6 beds, 6 baths, $1,999,900

This is for those that want to own their own miniature private resort. Its features guarantee that you would never have to leave your home to have a good time. Set up for outdoor living with a multi-level stone patio overlooking the pool, outdoor kitchen and tennis court. This home is a luxurious escape from the chaos of life.  

View property listing here!


1040 Vista Dr, Bay Harbor, MI, 49770, United States

6 beds, 5.5 baths, $4,490,000

This boathouse is located in the heart of Harbor Bay, and I am confident that It will live up to every boat lovers dream home. With an interior boat well 13’ x 50’ with a walkway all around it, and an exterior dock 75′ long with two 30′ spurs.

View property listing here!


(Undisclosed Address), Traverse City, MI, 49686, United States

4 beds, 3 baths, $1,650,000

An oversized brand new deck with so many seating options you can invite everyone you know, plus one and still have space for the dog on the couch.  This waterfront property comes with a number of perks besides the obviously gorgeous view including boulders, beautiful grassy areas and irrigation at the beach 

View property listing here!


6530 Baywoods Dr, Elk Rapids, MI, 49629, United States

5 beds, 3.5 baths, $1,075,000

This home has the patio of your dreams. Complete with waterfront views and stone details, this one of a kind outside area will make you feel like your on vacation every day! Some of my favorite features include the man-made waterfall, which leads directly to the fountain, the hot tub, and the hammock. 

View property listing here!


825 N. Prospect Ave. 2302, Milwaukee, WI, 53202, United States

2 beds, 2.5 baths, $2,495,000

You don’t have to be in the suburbs or the country to enjoy the beauty of the outdoors. The city can also offer an outdoor oasis, such as this balcony apartment. With luxurious furniture and an exquisite view, this apartment offers the same outdoor beauty and comfort as any other suburban property. 

View property listing here!


19865 Brampton Ct., Brookfield, WI, 53045, United States

4 beds, 3.5 baths, $895,000

If you enjoy lounging on the patio or having friends over for a late-night barbecue, then this property is the one for you. A beautifully landscaped yard with multiple patio spaces, an outdoor kitchen/grill area, fire pit, and dining area.

View property listing here!


20 Peppers Trail, Montague, MI, 49437, United States

9 beds, 6 baths, 2 partial baths, $6,300,000

Situated on the lake-shores sugar sand beaches, this home offers panoramic views of Lake Michigan from the comfort of your own luxury patio spaces. There are a number of patio spaces for a variety of activities. One patio has a large jacuzzi, another has an outdoor kitchen, creating a multitude of places made for relaxation. 

View property listing here!


The exterior of any home is just as important as the interior, but it often does not receive the same attention. This article is for the purpose of showing just how amazing the exterior of a property can be, and maybe inspire you to upgrade the current situation of your patio or yard space. Find your next home by visiting RealtyHive!

Do you enjoy living in the outdoors? If yes, let me refer you to another article on our blog which shows a number of luxury cabins with breathtaking outdoor views and patios! Find your outdoor enthusiast dream home by clicking the link below!


Luxury cabin article here!

Do I Need a Water Softener?

Water softeners are not a necessity, but they are super useful to have. Whether you’re trying to update your current home or are looking to buy, find out why you should invest in a water softener—once you have one, you’ll never go back.

RealQuick: How to tell if you have hard water

If you have a water softener, it should be located somewhere near your home’s plumbing. A basement, utility room, or even a garage would be good spots to check.

Still not sure you have a softener and don’t want to pay for a specialist just yet? Check for these signs:

  • Excessive lime/chalk buildup on areas that come into contact with water (like the shower)
  • Colored clothing fades faster than it should
  • Low water pressure
  • Clean dishes have residue on them once they dry
  • Feeling dry or itchy after showering

These are all indicators that you probably don’t have a water softener, or that you have one, but it’s not working properly.

Reasons to Get a Water Softener

You’ll save money

A water softener removes the mineral ions that are normally found in water. These ions lead to buildup, and this can cause lots of problems in your home. A water softener can help prevent the need for frequent plumbing and appliance repairs, and it also saves you money on energy bills—your systems will have to work harder to turn water hot or cold.

Your appliances will last longer… 

Your dishwasher, washer and dryer, and even your coffeemaker all are negatively impacted by hard water. That mineral residue wears down your appliances a lot faster than if water is run through a softener.

…and so will your clothes

Those same hard water minerals leave their mark (and get left behind) on your clothes. Bright colors will fade faster, and certain minerals can even stain white clothing. Soft water also dissolves detergent better than hard water, so your clothes will likely feel softer and cleaner.

You’ll have an easier time cleaning

The mineral buildup from hard water takes more time to clean and it comes back fast. Plus, you’ll likely be cleaning and rinsing your shower and sinks with even more hard water. A water softener will prevent you from having to deal with this residue.

Your skin and hair will feel better

Knowing that hard water irritates appliances, would you really want to use this water on your hair and skin? The minerals in hard water can leave your skin and hair feeling dry and itchy. It’s also harder to work up a lather with soap, which often leads to buildup of shampoo and conditioner. All around, you will actually feel a difference with softened water.

If you’re hoping a showerhead water softener will do the trick, save yourself some dough—these don’t work because water passes through too quickly to remove hard minerals. 

And for our last benefit, a water softener could help add value to your home when you’re looking to sell! Whether buying or selling, you’re on your way to becoming a knowledgeable homeowner. RealtyHive is here to make the “home” part come to life. Work with us to find your home or to sell in a time-limited event.

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Contingencies and House Offers: What You Need to Know

Just like everyone talks about the excitement of college but not the uncomfortable dorm beds, just like people say they had a “great time” at Thanksgiving but skip the part where Aunt Tonya said the government was spying on her, contingencies are an often unmentioned—but highly important—part of the home buying process.

Except unlike those aforementioned scenarios, contingencies are a good thing. They protect you in the process of buying a home, which is likely the biggest financial investment you’ll make in your lifetime. Take a look at how contingent offers on a house work!

Types of Contingencies

Getting your offer accepted feels amazing, but before you officially seal the deal,, you want to make sure you’ve covered your bases. There are three main types of contingencies that people include in their written offer:

Financing

Pre-approval on a loan does not guarantee approval for on your actual loan application. The bank might not agree with the house you chose, or their appointed appraiser might find the home’s value at less than what you’re asking to borrow. If you include this contingency into your offer, you’ll be able to back out of the contract.

Home Inspection

Home inspections examine the condition of a property and inform you of any issues. They happen after your offer is accepted, which is why you want to make the sale contingent on the inspection results. Minor bathroom fixes may only be $100 or so; cracks in the foundation are another story.

If you don’t include inspection contingencies in your offer, you’re agreeing to accept the home as-is. This adds risk to your investment—you could end up spending thousands on previously unnoticed repairs. However, people who invest in real estate and flip houses purposely accept a home as-is so that they can close faster and start renovating. 

Needless to say, you have options with home inspections when making a contingent offer on a house. The best thing you can do is to make this contingency decision with intention and in alliance with your needs.

Home Sale

First-time property owners won’t have to worry about this one, but it’s good to know all the same. If you currently own a house and are worried about it selling in time for closing, make a contingency that buying a new house depends on the sale of your existing home. But be wary of this contingency—today’s market is highly competitive. Your offer could be rejected if a home sale contingency is in place.

Writing Contingencies

There’s a delicate balance to writing contingencies in your offer. On the one hand, you want to protect yourself as you move forward with this massive investment. On the other, your contingencies (depending on what they are) could leave your letter of offer repeatedly rejected.

Sellers may get several offers; they may even get dozens. You’ll want your offer to stand out, but you won’t want to compromise your finances in the process.

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That’s the great thing about working with RealtyHive. Sellers don’t have to worry about contingencies when selling at a time-limited event, and can even end up with more offers. Look for your next home or sell your current one with RealtyHive. We’ll help you navigate!

Skip Denver—Move to These Western Spots Instead

The mountain views, the outdoor activities, the beautiful climate and bustling city—it’s no wonder why people have relocated by the thousands to Colorado cities like Denver and Fort Collins. However, all this hype has led to Colorado being one of the most expensive places to live. 

Spots like Salt Lake City and St. George (Utah), Casper and Cody (Wyoming), and Great Falls and Gardiner (Montana) have lots of the same appeal as those popular Colorado cities, but with even more benefits. Take a look at why you should consider moving west—but not where everyone else is going.

Just as Good as Denver—If Not Better

People love Denver for its access to the mountains, wonderful city life, amazing climate, and beautiful views. And don’t get us wrong—Denver is an amazing city! But all of those cities mentioned earlier have these same benefits to some degree. SLC is an up-and-coming spot that’s close to some of the best skiing in the country, and, like Denver, has a train you can take around town. Unlike Denver, it’s free in many spots—Denver’s costs $10.50, just to get to the airport.

Even Closer to Nature

Denver is highly appealing because of its proximity to Rocky Mountain National Park. But if your main draw to Colorado is being close to the great outdoors, there are plenty of spots that beat Denver by a country mile.

Cities in Wyoming, Montana, and Utah tend to be much closer to nature and take substantially less time to access what the West is known for. Gardiner, MT, Jackson Hole, and Cody (both WY) are anywhere between 10 minutes and an hour away from Yellowstone National Park (great for spotting those bison!). You can expect that driving time to double, even on a good day, to get into RMNP from Denver.

Less Populated

Not only are you physically further from nature in Denver, the sheer number of people living in the city turn that “hop, skip, and a jump” from the mountains into hours of standstill traffic on I-90. While some people make the trek every weekend to hit the slopes or hike the trails, most become disillusioned pretty quickly—solely because the traffic is so bad.

Living in a place that’s not as crowded makes life a lot simpler and a lot better for many reasons, which leads us to our next point:

Better Cost of Living

The absolute biggest draw to living in virtually any Western city that’s not Denver is the cost of living. To buy a house in Denver, a 2019 study showed you would need to make nearly $100k a year. But that’s not all. Higher population means higher everyday costs, higher insurance rates, higher “getting settled” costs (such as registering your vehicle), and potentially higher taxes. In Denver, you even have tolls every time you drive to the airport. None of these things are an issue when moving to cities in Wyoming, Montana, and less-populated places in Utah.

Author’s Note: I moved to Wyoming from Colorado this past year and cut my car insurance and rental costs in half. 

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While Denver definitely has its perks, there are countless places in the West (and even other cities in Colorado, like Aurora, Canon City, or Pueblo) that can keep up with Colorado’s capital—if not surpass it. If you’re considering moving out West, work with RealtyHive to find your next home or sell your current one! Search today.

How to Effectively Screen for Quality Tenants

Every landlord wants good tenants who pay their rent on time, do not cause any trouble, and take care of the place as if it belongs to them. However, getting good tenants require effort and time. As a landlord, if you do it properly, you will be able to avoid complications and problems in the future. In the long run, you get to save time and money, while renting your property to high-quality tenants.

Here are some tips to effectively screen for quality tenants:

1. Do Not Rush

To get a high-quality tenant, the first thing you should do is to take your time and don’t rush into renting your property. Carefully screen each applicant, and whenever possible, meet them face to face.

A one-on-one meeting will provide you with a great deal of insight into the individual. Even if the applicant has been referred by someone or through other tenants, you should still screen them properly. Keep in mind that a hasty decision can prove to be a big mistake when it comes to tenant screening.

2. Hire the right Property Management Company

If you feel that you are not able to adequately screen prospective tenants because of your other obligations or for any other reason, it’s a good idea to hire a professional property management company,” according to UpkeepMedia.com, a marketing firm with an extensive history in real estate and property management.

A property manager will not only help you market your property and find new tenants, but they will screen them effectively for you. Most property management companies know exactly what is involved in the screening of tenants, and they will do all the hard work for you in exchange for a small fee. If you don’t have the budget, you can do it yourself but make sure you give this task some time and effort.

3. Use Application Forms

Before you rent out your place, make sure every potential tenant completes an application form. You can download free sample rental application forms or make your own.

The application form must cover everything that you need to know about the tenant such as their date of birth, financial information, place of employment, whether they are smokers or non-smokers, whether they have pets or not, their previous residence, social security number, phone, references, and marital status.

The application must state that a criminal and background check will be done so that the applicant can give you the authorization to proceed. As a landlord, it is your responsibility to verify the data in the application.

It’s important that you not only rely on paper references. Do the legwork and call the previous landlord and present employer to verify the facts. If the application has any missing information, ask the applicant. If they do not provide the information you need, proceed with caution.

4. Do a Credit Check

Many states permit the landlord to charge the prospective tenant a small fee for conducting a background and/or credit check. But there are some states that do not allow you to charge the tenant.

Check the laws in your state to be sure. In any case, check the credit score of the tenant and look at their history of late payments, bankruptcies, debts, and so on.

5. Run a Background Check

A background check must be done for all applicants. For a small fee, you can get a lot of detail about the prospective tenant’s past history, including any prior convictions, eviction history, and credit history. All you need to do is order a background or credit check. Evaluate this information carefully and then make your decision.

6. Speak to the Previous Landlord

Your tenant applicant should require the applicant to provide information about their current and previous landlord. But this is not just information that you just file away. You should call the landlord and get feedback on the quality of the tenant. You should verify if the rent was paid on time, why the tenant was moving, and if there was any property damage or other issues.

7. Verify Employment

In order to verify if the applicant has a steady income, you should also speak to their employer before you approve or reject them. You can either contact the employer directly or ask the tenant to supply you with a few recent pay stubs.

In most cases, if you call the employer, they will not divulge the salary but will confirm if the applicant is under their employ.

8. Speak to the Applicant

Conduct a personal interview with the prospective tenant. These are some questions that you can ask. Make sure that any additional questions you ask comply with the Fair Housing Act to avoid any discrimination:

  • Do you smoke?
  • Do you have any pets?
  • What is your regular workday like?
  • How long do you plan on staying?

Screening prospective tenants is a worthwhile effort if you do not want to get stuck with poor quality tenants. Proper screening does not mean you break any privacy laws or reject people on the basis of their race, background, or ethnicity.

The only thing you need to do is evaluate their financial situation, background, and employment status. The goal is to find a tenant who will take care of the property, pay their rent on time, and stay long-term.


About the author (UpkeepMedia.com)

Alexander Hassoulas is a digital marketing consultant and co-founder of Upkeep Media Inc. Upkeep Media specializes in working with the real estate industry to improve their online presence through SEO, Paid Ads, Content Marketing, Website Development and Reputation Management.

How Much Is My House Worth?

From that renovated bathroom to the roof that needs replacing, from the location of your house to the market itself, how do you figure out the value of your home? RealtyHive has the answers—read on to see how much your house is worth.

RealQuick: Do I only need to know my home’s value if I’m about to sell?

An in-depth valuation (such as a home appraisal) isn’t necessary if you plan on staying in your home for awhile. However, you should keep track of all home improvement projects and stay up-to-date on market trends. Doing so will make it easier to create a listing price for when you do decide to sell.

Home Value Factors

There are countless variables that determine the price of your home. Take a look at this list to see some of the biggest factors:

  • Your house’s current condition
  • The size of your home/property
  • Renovations or improvements from the time you bought to now
  • Unique or valuable characteristics (ex. hardwood floors)
  • Fixes that need to happen
  • Your location, and trends in that location
  • The housing market (both presently and what the future might hold)

It’s OK if you can’t put a price on all of these factors right now! Even just considering them is a good starting point to figuring out your home’s worth.

Finding Your Price Tag

Whereas losing a few bucks on selling a used book at a garage sale isn’t a huge deal, the wrong price on your house can cost you tens of thousands. Luckily, there are a number of ways you can gauge a good estimate. Our real estate home auction services rank each of these methods out of five stars:

Online Real Estate Databases

Overall Rating: ⭐️⭐️

Sites like Zillow may seem like a good reference point for configuring house prices in your area. The truth is they are notorious for over or undervaluing properties. It will be hard to find a sweet spot for determining your home’s worth if you use Zillow as a source of comparison.

Tax Appraisals

Overall Rating: ⭐️⭐️

Tax appraisals look at a property’s value according to its location, usually within the county. The average prices of other homes in the area are used to evaluate your home’s price. But these averages leave out lots of details and can even be years apart—tax appraisals are problematic for finding a home’s value and don’t reflect the true market.

Home Appraisals

Overall Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Home appraisals happen when a lender is determining the price for a mortgage loan. They’re conducted by licensed and certified professionals, and are about as accurate as you can get for determining the physical cost of your home. One downside is if you get an appraisal after listing your home for sale and your house is worth more than what you priced it for, an appraiser often won’t assign a higher value. Home appraisals also have a hard time establishing real market value and how much others are willing to pay for a home. As a result, home appraisals might be best used after you’ve thoroughly calculated the value of your home.

Comparable Sales (Comps)

Overall Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Running comps is probably your best bet for finding how much your home is worth—in fact, it’s what the professionals (real estate agents) do. If going the FSBO route, you can find comps for homes similar to yours by checking recent sales from online databases and MLS. You can also find county tax records online, but it’s usually more time-consuming.

Real Estate Agent

Overall Rating: Depends

The benefit of working with an agent is you’re more likely to get an accurate and overall higher selling price—but that benefit isn’t free. Even if your house sells for an ideal price, you’ll lose thousands paying out an agent’s commission (which averages 6% of your sale). But if you’re fine with sacrificing cost for convenience, then working with an agent is a good choice.

Banner with white man standing in front of house with text "Buy. Sell. RealtyHive."

Time-Limited Events

Overall Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

At RealtyHive, we offer equity checks that help find a good price for your property. Selling with a time-limited event is great for hitting that “just right” price. The other benefits of a home auction with RealtyHive include a) if your house doesn’t sell, you don’t pay for marketing and b) if you’re not happy with the price your home is going for, you don’t have to sell.

But before all that, work with RealtyHive to get an equity check! Find your home’s value today with RH.