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June 2007

Investing in a Vacation-Rental Property

There are several considerations when purchasing a property with the intention of renting it out on a weekly, weekend, or monthly basis.  If you plan on hiring a management company, alot of this will be covered by their fees.  However, not all areas have these kinds of services available nearby, so you may opt to go at it alone or in partnership with a local person like a neighbor or a real estate agent.  Here are some things to consider:

1) Cost of the real estate itself - of course there will be an initial outlay of money when you buy the property, and then monthly expenses like mortgage payment, taxes, insurance, association dues, etc.

2) Cost of furnishing the house and outfitting it for use - of course the main furnishings are expensive but all the little things (coffee maker, trash cans, utensils, dvd player, and so on) will add up quickly!

3) Potential rents - how often will you be able to rent it and for how much?  What kind of marketing expenses will you have (photos, print ads, internet)?

4) Care and upkeep, i.e. who will clean after each tenant vacates, keeping the yard and outdoor living spaces tidy, etc.  What about emergencies and repairs?  How will you handle that?

5) Lease arrangements & security deposits - the lease is important as well as any rules you put in place for the use of your house, so I would recommend consulting an attorney to have a solid one drafted.  For example, is smoking allowed?  pets?  how many people can stay in the house?  what happens if there are problems?  Once you have your standard lease drawn up, how will you determine the release of tenants' security desposits?  Who will check the property to you and what will they look for?  Checklists are a must!

6) Rent payments and keys - how will tenants pay you and how will you get them keys? Investing in a lockbox may not be a bad idea.

I have a client in Penn Estates who I am assisting with this whole process and so far, I think we're doing well.  Time will tell, after we go through a couple of tenant cycles. Their house in Penn Estates seems to be getting alot of attention on the VRBO site.

BackAlso, I just listed a property in Penn Estates, right next to the HighlandBeach_improvements Lake  Beachfront, which would make an excellent rental property.  The location is right, it is in excellent condition and it is fully furnished and equipped...there is even a row boat included!  Details

Urgent Call to Action: Say No To RTT

Click Here!

UPDATE from PAR as of 6/22/07:  'As many of you may have read in your local newspapers this morning, the state House last night debated an amendment offered by Rep McCall (D-Carbon) that would provide for local taxing options to fund mass transit.  This amendment included a local option RTT increase.  After hours of debate, everything came to a halt at the magic hour of 11:00 p.m.  No votes were taken on the amendment.  House Leadership will meet today and through the weekend to discuss a bi-partisan agreement.  The House will convene in regular session on Monday at 10:00 a.m.'

Please, people, if you haven't done so, express your opinion to your Representative!!

June 21, 2007:

Information I received from the PA Assoc. of REALTORS on yesterday-we strongly oppose any increase in RTT, one reason being that PA already has one of the highest transfer tax rates in the country:

'The Pennsylvania General Assembly is currently examining options to fund the Commonwealth’s ailing mass transit systems. One prospective option is to increase the statewide realty transfer tax (RTT) from 1.0% to 1.9%, with the additional 0.9% dedicated to mass transit funding. Another option is to give county governments the authority to increase the local RTT and dedicate the additional percentage to mass transit.
Last night, the House Transportation Committee passed House Bill 1590. This is the vehicle for the menu of local options to include creating a county RTT to fund mass transit. A vote on the House Floor could happen as early as Thursday.'

More info: 

Mass transit is found in Philly & Pittsburgh and these systems are, apparently, ailing financially...additionally, if there is enough revenue, they want to fix ailing roads & bridges across the state.  However, should this burden be shouldered by homebuyers & sellers only?

The proposed bills could also give the individual counties the authority to impose additional transfer tax to subsidize local mass transit my opinion, real estate transactions are not the place to get the money for these things, either on the state or county level.  With all the discussion about affordable housing going on, how can additional fees in transactions possibly be seen as a fair alternative?

Please write to or call your Reps. in Harrisburg-check out the site for contact info and more info on this issue: