WELCOME TO THE NWCLA
The NWCLA was formed to provide a structured forum for landlords and property managers to get informed on the changing areas of rental real estate and the laws that govern the business we are in. We want to provide guidance for those new to the business as well as use our strength as an organization to prevent negative legislation and promote positive changes in Massachusetts.
We own property in one of the toughest states to be a landlord in, the scale is not tipped in our favor, and we must work together to run our businesses in the strictest manner, and encourage changes that would give equality back to the legal housing system. We are all in the business of providing housing; together we can work to better our community and our real estate. We urge you to consider joining our organization. The benefits are many to belong to an upstanding group that works on issues that effect you and your livelihood.
NWCLA MEETING SIGN UPThe NWCLA meetings are the second Thursday night of the month from 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM at British American Club at 1 Simonds Rd. Fitchburg, Ma. RSVP For Member Meeting
Ever since covid-19 we have been inundated with requests from new landlords to manage their rental properties. Just in 2021 alone half way into the year we have already added over 40+ units to our rentable inventory. We are on track to hit a 25% increase in inventory for 2021 and as a result – we are hiring! We are in need of office staff and qualified maintenance service technicians. We already have a great team in place but we need to add more hands on deck to keep things running smoothly. This leads us back to the exchange of questions and answers with our newest prospective client. Here is an excerpt from our latest email exchange thread. We hope you will find this useful if you are considering taking on a new property management agency. Hi Brian, Ok, I have had a chance to go through the materials and have some questions that are mostly just clarification but some are in relation to the situation given the property I am pursuing. Would love to set up a time to discuss over zoom if possible as well. First of all, I want to say that one of the things I love about the way you frame the issues is that the way you approach rentals is very much in line with my goals as a landlord. I like that your expectation is that competitive market rate rents and timely payment with immediate and consistent action if rents are late but in return for that you hold yourself to high expectations of quality, maintenance and responsiveness to tenant requests. This matches up with my philosophy that rentals are a 2 way street where if I expect to get top dollar rents I need to provide well cared for apartments and good service. Our number #1 core value is Family First. So now my questions/clarifications: So in reading through the credit and background check information it appears that you don’t have a specific FICO score cutoff for rental but it’s more about disqualifying activities (unsatisfied judgements, liens, collections, bankruptcy within the last 3 years, etc.). Is my understanding correct that it’s more about the specific activities vs. the score?You are correct. We have a whole screening criteria set in place before we ever even get to the credit report background screening. They need to pass all of the other hurdles first. If they qualify, then we will pull a credit check at our own expense. In this we are looking for delinquent accounts, high balances being carried, poor credit history. If they are great, then we move forward towards the lease phase. If the candidate is marginal, then we will require a co-signer that lives within the state. After the first year with a great payment history, the co-signer is no longer required. If they have too many delinquencies, we will pass on them and move to the next qualified renter until we find a match.http://www.belaire.co/blog/2019/03/09/top-10-tips-guerrilla-tenant-screening-tips-for-landlords/ Similar to that, for the background check it was unclear to me what the disqualifying elements in a background check would be. I see that you ask about evictions, criminal convictions (both felony and otherwise), and registered sexual offender status. Curious which of these are informational and/or require context vs things that are disqualifying.The short answer is – it depends. Felonies are never a good start to the relationship. But again it depends on the circumstances. If they have done the time for the crime, and it was something that was not a clear pathway to putting others in harm’s way, we may consider the candidate as long as the crime would place other in fear of their safety or well-being. If drunk driving were a felony, that would not necessarily be a red flag to put other residents in harm. However, a sex offender would not be ok to rent to if children are in the building. A steady flow of evictions is never a good sign. This shows they know how to play the system and we would probably be their next contender. On the other hand, it is not uncommon for a recent divorce, or unpaid medical bills to show up on a credit report. Let’s face it. Sometimes bad things happen to good people and they really just need a second chance to get on their feet again. This would be a consideration even though the credit report may not look too good at all. It appears that you keep most or all tenants on a lease. First of all, I want to confirm my understanding is correct. I know that some landlords/property managers require a lease for new tenants but then offer tenant at will after that. Wanted to confirm that you are lease only.Sure, we do a self-renewing lease. There is a 2% to 3% annual rental increase written into the terms of the rental agreement. We also use a lease for many other reasons. With a tenant at will, or month-to-month, a tenant can move out within 30-Days or you can move them out within 30-days. The problem with a MTM is that a tenant can then open up counter-claim, interrogatories and discovery if they “feel” they are being asked to leave as retaliation or for some other reason. This can become an eviction nightmare. The typical eviction notice is 30-days after a FULL RENTAL PERIOD. Some landlords make the mistake thinking if the notice is served on the 2ndof the month then the tenant needs to move out at the end of the month. Actually, if the notice was sent on June 2nd, the next full rental period ends the last month of July. Month to month leases are also looked upon as risky to lending institutions when an owner is looking to refinance a property.Some of the main reasons we like a lease: Rental stability for the term of the lease. Usually at least 1-year A lease can be terminated within 7-days, not 30 days like a […]
A path to building wealth through small apartment buildings. Choose your path The subtitle for this article is “A path to building wealth to real estate.” We called it “a path” because there are many roads that can lead to building wealth through real estate. There are mobile home parks, syndications, condominium conversions, single-family homes, commercial space, industrial space, strip malls, offices, malls, you get the idea that the list could go on and on and on. Everything around us and everything we touch and see is somehow related to real estate investing. The version I’m going to cover in this article focuses on buying smaller rental apartment buildings. Right now, in the rental market where we run our property management business, there is a gold rush of investors both seasoned and new who are racing along full throttle to get their hands on a deal. We hear some people say “there are no deals to be found out there anymore.” The truth is, you need to create your own deal. Sure, it’s true that for every listing that goes on the market these days, the offers flood in at $20k, $30k, even $50,000 over asking price. We have seen insane terms for call cash offers and waving all types of inspection contingencies. Don’t get me wrong. The strategy could work during the right time of the market if you know your numbers and have a sound investment, and exit strategy. We have been through two different real estate cycle since we begin our journey in 2001. Based on what we have seen in the past I think we are near the top, if not there already. No one can say for sure, but we are showing signs of a top market. I called is the “taxi driver phase” of the market. When everybody you know including your taxi driver is talking about real estate and how they want to buy investment property, it’s probably at the peak and too late to get the best possible deal. But there are ways to find that fish in the bottom of the barrel. That would probably be a really good topic for another blog post but right now let’s focus on getting big profits from the smaller deals. Where the road began Back in 2001 when we first started investing we knew nothing about market cycles. We were as green as a spring toad. I guess you could say we were following the taxi cab drivers when we first jumped into the market. We didn’t know it, but the market was still going up when we jumped in. The first property we ever bought was a modest 3-unit small rental apartment building. The unit breakdown mix were three units, two 2-bedroom units and one 1-bedroom unit. Nothing super fancy to look at but it was our first property. We did it! We had arrived! We had purchased our first real estate investment property! Woo Hoo!! We fumbled our way through our first lease which was fraught with legal errors. We discovered and thought 1 ft.² sticky tiles were the best invention since sliced bread, and started to make modest repairs as we could figure out how. But the market was still going up. One of our first mentors, Norman Lapointe only invested in commercial properties. He gave us a piece of advice way back then that changed everything for us. When you buy a property and the market is going up, this will create equity in your property. Most beginner landlords figure the only way to buy more property is to sell that property and invest it into another property. You can do this with a 1031 exchange where you buy like kind property for like kind property. Or just a straight sale to a larger purchase. It seemed to make sense. But Norman gave us a strategy that we have employed since 2001 and this tactic has helped us to catapult our portfolio to build wealth. What Norman told us that even though the market was going up, and the value of the property was rising, you did not need to sell the property to reap the benefits of the equity. Today, every landlord I know or that we manage property for, is looking for ways to refinance their property. Now why would you want to refinance your property? Well the answer is really quite simple. It gives you all the leverage, perks, and benefits of selling the property and taking that equity to buy a new property, but you get to keep the original property! Without paying the capital gains taxes. I know! Pretty incredible! What has always amazed me about rental investment real estate is that you can purchase the property, rent it out to someone, and they will help you cover if not pay all of your mortgage costs and expenses. You provide a home, they provide the cash flow to pay down the principal. As this happens equity grows. So how can you capitalize on this? Yes, there are several ways in several different types of real estate for several different types of investors with different flavors and styles and appetites for investing. We like the smaller multi-family deals. Back when we started $20,000 to $40,000 would get you a 3-family property. Which is exactly what we did. The first deal we ever did we actually put $40K down but in hindsight that was probably too much to put down into one deal. Over the next three years we refinanced that property twice and were able to cash out an additional $90,000. In today’s market, $90,000 might be enough for a down payment for one of these same properties. But back in 2001 to 2003 $90,000 bought us two more properties. We took the $90,000 and bought two more properties. And the market was still going up! We did what we had learned to do and refinanced property number two and property number three. With the […]
Show and Tell for Rental Properties You have heard it said many times: A picture is worth a thousand words. If this is true, a well-staged, bright environment featuring a video tour of the property set to pleasing background music, has to be a worth volumes. Virtual Showings Today, everyone is afraid to make physical contact, never mind letting strangers into their homes. So how do you get over the hurdle of having to show a rental? You can follow all of the social distancing protocols previously mentioned, but there may be a better way. We all know postings with pictures get noticed, but the pictures have to be great or they can produce a negative result. There are three levels of virtual tours we have found to be effective at varying price points. Pictures This solution can range anywhere from photos from your phone to having a professional stager and photographer shoot the environment to show it at its best. It all depends on your entry price point and what you think you can rent the unit for. It is easy enough to upload pictures from your phone to your website or any number of apartment rental websites. The better your pictures are, the better your chances of having some great pictures to work with for your marketing flyers and advertising. Videos If you have about fifty or more photos of the rental, you can take it to the next level and string these together as a video slideshow. There’s free software just a few clicks away on a Google search to do this. On the Mac, there are programs like “Photos” or “iMovie” that are a great way to get some enticing videos of your space. There is also a feature to add soundtracks to your movie to help set the mood. These videos can then be easily uploaded to your website or a “YouTube” channel for your rental business. Another option is to purchase a hand-held video stabilizer for about $100. You can attach your phone or digital camera in the stabilizer to shoot a walk-through video of the rental space. We suggest a stabilizer because our first attempts with this method resulted in jittery videos. Eliminating the bounce from your reel would be ideal. With iMovie, you can remove the apartment sounds, and once again enhance the experience with a suitable soundtrack. Then upload these just as you would any other videos or pictures to ad sites or “YouTube.” Top 10 mistakes beginners make when filming video with their iPhone https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2JM51Ocmitw You have to remember that your phone is a phone. Go into do not disturb, or airport mode. Running out of battery and memory storage. You can get an external drive to download. Do not forget to lock your exposure in your native application. A square box shows up and you can tap on what you are focused on to do this. Lock the exposure by tapping and holding what you are focused on. Having crappy audio. Audio is a big deal. You can use external mics on the iPhone. Having crappy lighting. You do not have to go out and buy all kinds of expensive equipment, just make sure you have good lighting. Daylight works great. Zooming. Do not use the zoom. It creates grainy pictures in your videos. Filming in a high dynamic range situation. Really bright lights, and really dark shadows. Part of your video will be under exposed or overexposed. Change the view around to have proper exposure. Only using the native app. iPhone app is super easy to use. Take advantage of the time-lapse and slow-motion right on your iPhone. Expecting to be amazing at capturing video the first time around. It is going to take some trial and error. Do not give up! The video has no point to it. Make sure you have a message with your video. As simple as a video montage of the features of the apartment. 3D Virtual Tours The next tier up in scale is to make an investment in a 360-degree camera and some software to create virtual 3D tours of your rental. A good 360-degree camera starts at about $1,000. Then the monthly software to host your tours depends on your volume of rentals. At this level, you need to make a business decision. Realtors use these cameras in marketing properties because they can justify the cost from the commissions from the sale. But does it make sense for the landlord? Do you have the number of rentals you need to support the expense? Or, in a COVID 19 world, is this a sign of what is to come? 3D Virtual Tours PROS Safe to view from home in a COVID 19 World, 24/7, 365 days, around the clock With a virtual tour you set it up once and re-use for multiple tours No more “no shows” or wasting your time to show vacancies A candidate can take their time, then share the link with significant others 3D tours allow you to spin your head around to see EVERYTHING It sends a message about the caliber of your business – very professional 3D Virtual Tours CONS There is a learning curve to do something different and new There is an expense to start using this technology There is likely to be a monthly subscription service fee The rent amount you are asking for may not justify the cost for this feature The condition of the rental unit may work against you, no place to hide defects Even after the 3D tour, candidates may still want to see it (verify them first) Top 3 Reasons to consider Virtual Tours Virtual Tours will keep you, your family, and everyone’s family safe Virtual Tours can automate the way you market your rental process Virtual Tours allow candidates to view on their own time, thus saving yours If the unit is occupied and you think Virtual Tours will work for you, give your resident a call and do the […]
OUR CORE VALUES
WHO WE ARE
We are a non-profit organization, and there are no paid directors. Our membership is made up of both small and large property owners who share common concerns that affect the Massachusetts rental housing industry, housing in general and individuals’ rights as property owners and taxpayers.
We share information, encouragement to our members to promote professionalism, sound management practices, healthy housing and stability in the rental housing business.
NWCLA first meeting was in November 2002 and has been active in our rental communities for over 20+ years, At present we are growing our annual membership!