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How to easily and quickly spot a leaky toilet and stop a water billzilla.

A water leak from your toilet can be trouble, for both the property owner and the tenant. It is something that if left unattended, can become costly and very inconvenient at the same time. It’s important to know that most tenants are responsible for the water bill according to what is stablished on their lease. Also, depending on the situation, if a water leak occurs, tenants might also end up becoming responsible for the extra water usage that goes over the standard bill in the case of a non-reported leak. This extra amount can ascend to hundreds and even thousands of dollars, depending on how bad the leak is.

A water leak can drive up your bill to even thousands of dollars.

So, in order to help you prevent having to deal with a billzilla attack, I’d like to give you a few short tips you can use to detect and handle a water leak from your toilet.

  • Listen carefully and try to detect water running continuously during the night, as well as sounds coming from your toilet as if it were being used when it’s clearly not.
  • Purchase a dye test for your toilet. You can get these at Home Depot for a couple of bucks, and it’s easy to use. You just put the dye test in the toilet tank, and after some time, if it’s leaking you will notice that even when the toilet is not being used, the edges of the inside of the toilet will have rivulets of dye running down.
  • You can try the previous step without the dye test, it’s just harder to detect the rivulets of water down the inside of the toilet if it’s a really subtle leak.
  • Sometimes, you can actually find the problem inside the water tank for the toilet. You might find it a little bit gross, but don’t worry it’s only filled with regular clean water. Several things could be wrong here, just check that everything is working as it should and nothing is stuck and the flapper that blocks the flow of water is able to seal the water off consistently when down (it could be bent, filled with sediment, or something along those lines).
  • If you detect a leak, you can stop the flow of water into the toilet tank by closing the stop valve that is connected to your toilet. It’s usually low near the ground, right next to your toilet, you just turn it clockwise until the water stops flowing in. Careful not to turn it too hard though, you could break it!
  • After you’ve detected the leak and stopped the flow, give us a call!
  • Something you can do in order to keep using your toilet even with the stop valve closed due to you having found a leak, is to fill about a gallon of water in any type of container, and after you’re done using the toilet you heavily empty this container into the pool until the water goes down. This is a temporary solution, until the problem is fixed.

We hope this helps for you to be able to better manage your toilet and issues that arise in regard to a leak coming from it. Remember, the more you pay mind to these type of things, the less likely you run the risk of incurring any extra expenses or inconveniences that come along with them.

 

What’s your One Thing?

Today I’d like to share a little bit about the main idea within a book we recently read as a company at RTS. It’s called The One Thing. It’s a fun read, and it’s pretty simple.
First let’s talk a little bit about multi-tasking. Usually people believe that they are “good” at multi-tasking and implement that into their daily lives. This might be true for minor tasks at home and things like that but, if you truly want to excel at what you do, multi-tasking is a no go. If we think about it in a completely rational way, the only way we can be the most efficient and effective at a certain activity is to place our complete focus on that one thing while we do it, otherwise, we’re just doing two things at the same time at a mediocre level.

One small change can have a series of very noticeable effects on your life.

Once we’re get past this desire to multi-task, and once we’ve accepted the fact that we are not gods capable of doing everything perfectly at the same time, we are presented with the question:

What is that ONE thing that we can do that will make other things in our life will be obsolete, unnecessary, or easier? 

This simple question asked about everything in our life has a way of focusing our priorities and sky rocketing our effectiveness.  When we can really just relax and focus on the most important thing we can sky rocket our effectiveness and get the important things done first and then at the end of the day we can relax and have fun and not worry about all the important things we never got to.

Here are some example one thing questions:

  • What one thing can I do at home to improve my marriage that will make everything else I do to improve my marge obsolete unnecessary or easier?
  • What one thing can I do at work to improve my efficiency such that other things in my life will be obsolete, unnecessary or easier?
  • What one thing can I do to boost my relationship with my children such that other things in my life will be obsolete, unnecessary or easier?
  • What one thing can I do to improve my finances such that other things in my life will be obsolete, unnecessary or easier?
  • And the list goes on…

Posing this question to ourselves, will not only improve our effectiveness in the one thing that we choose to focus on, but will also prevent us from getting drained by doing more unnecessary activities, or by doing certain activities in a more difficult way than we should. It’s something to keep in mind, and I believe it is part of what marks the difference between a successful person and somebody that is not.

At the start of the day, ask yourself, what is the one thing? Then just keep asking yourself the same question during the rest of the day, until you start filtering out everything you don’t need in a probably already very busy life

How can you as a landlord sleep better?

Have you ever had a really stressed out or extremely busy period of time in your life that wreaks havoc in your sleep habits? This usually comes in the form of big changes in your line of work, or just a larger-than-usual workload. Or maybe you’re an entrepreneur, and you’ve been having ideas coming in and out your head for several days now, in order to expand your business in some sort of way. Maybe you’re just plain stressed due to the accumulation of several totally different factors. This type of occurrence can seriously affect your sleep habits, by making your brain work more than it should, at times that it shouldn’t be working – thus keeping you from getting a proper night’s rest, which in return can seriously affect your health.
So, even if we can offer you peace of mind in regards to your property, it’ll never be true peace for you if you can’t have a good sleep due to other reasons. Because of this, I’d like to offer you some general ideas that you could find useful in order to get your rest back.

Sometimes the only difference between a great day and a terrible day is how well you slept during the night.

1.- Know your cycles

By know your cycles I mean you need to understand your circadian rhythms and what they are. So what is your circadian rhythm?   It is normally a 24 hour rhythm in your body that involves your body changing temperature up and down.  As your body temperature is in the act of rising you will feel alert. As your body temperature is in the act of falling you will feel sleep. If you body temparature flat lines as is the case with many shift workers you will fill numb and lifeless… neither alert nor sleepy. Most of your bodies processes sync up with your circadian rhythm so when you understand what it is you can change this and thus change many processes including sleep as well as day time alertness.  Drugs and chemicals that cause you to be more or less sleepy effect your circadian rhythms however the biggest modulator of your circadian rhythm is the kinds of light you experience at different times of your 24 hour cycle.  More on that later.

A healthy circadian rhythm involves your lowest body temperature at about 9 AM in the morning. Temperature will slowly rise during the day with a slight dip in body temperature around noon and then continued rising temperature till 9 PM when it peaks. Then as temperature falls during the night you will be more sleepy with a reverse dip at midnight where you might wake up and then continued falling body temperature until 9 AM in the morning again.

2.- Shower hack!

A part of your hypothalamus controls your circadian rhythm, and other factors like levels of lightness and darkness can affect it. At the same time, your body temperature goes up and down one or two degrees during 24 hours in concordance to your cycle. Now that we know this, one way to get your rhythm back into control is by manipulating your body temperature. One very useful hack is either getting a cold shower or hot shower right before you go to sleep. This change in temperature will cause a resetting effect on your body temperature cycle (circadian rhythm) and will get it mostly back in sync with the cycle it should be following, getting you ready to sleep.

3.- Lighting control
As we said before, your cycle can be affected by light and darkness. Certain frequencies of light can seriously mess up your melatonin production. Melatonin is basically the hormone that regulates sleep and wakefulness in our body. Mainly this light will affect the body if perceived by your eyes, but also to some extent by your skin. If the production of this hormone is stopped or partially impaired, your body won’t be able to get ready for sleep. An example of these types of light frequency is blue light. As technology keeps advancing, we have surrounded ourselves with so many sources of blue light it’s ridiculous, especially during the evening.

One thing we can do to regulate the amount of blue light intake, is the use of special glasses that filter different amounts of that specific type of light. You can find these online as orange or red glasses, depending on the amount filtered, and you need to start wearing them about four hours before climbing in bed.

You can get blue light filter apps for your phone and your computer for late night use.

You can also get light bulbs that do not emit blue light.

In the morning it is helpful to get 30 minutes of unfiltered (unfiltered through a window or glass) sunlight even in the winter.   Also doing this mid day will give you a nice boost and help your productivity as well as your sleep later at night. If you can’t get outside in the morning a 1000 watt halogen trouble light with the protective glass removed will help more than coffee to get you all woken up.

4.- Easy on the caffeine!
We are all familiar with the ritual most people have in regard to drinking a cup of coffee in the morning right before they start their day. This is not bad, and it actually brings to the table a whole series of benefits like antioxidants, increased focus, warding off depression, etc. These effects are probably something you’ve heard or read before somewhere – but the thing is, caffeine consumption is something that should be monitored closely depending on the person we’re talking about.

As a rule of thumb, if you have sleep issues you should never have a cup of coffee or any other caffeinated drink after 10:00 am – 12:00 pm depending on how bad the problem is.

Caffeine has a half life of 5 hours which mean that every 4 to 5 hours you will have half the caffeine you previously had in your blood stream. So if you have any sleep issues avoid any caffeine and learn how to be alert with out it. It may be rough at first but you will feel better in the long run.

5.- Mental stimuli
An exciting movie, a  difficult argument unresloved or a nagging problem from earlier on the day?

Any of these things can add additional adrenaline into your blood stream and make it nearly impossible to sleep.

Substitute media with a time to journal, read a calming or boring book, meditate or pray.

6.- Sunlight and Walking
A couple other things you can do to help you regulate your health positively (including your sleep) is to simply go out for a walk for about 30-45 minutes per day. A moderate amount of sunlight and exercise is terrific when it comes to taking care of your body and regulating the systems in it. Remember, walking is not for wimps – it’s for smart people. It helps you think, focus, and just take a breather from whatever is going on at the moment. Try it, and you’ll notice changes like I did.

7.- Earthing
Maybe you’ve heard about this movement, maybe you haven’t. I find it pretty interesting. It basically seeks the improvement of human health through our reconnection with the planet. We’re talking about a physical and energy-based reconnection, getting in touch with the earth’s natural materials directly and “rewiring” ourselves with the planet’s natural energy flows. This movement is all about letting this planet energy to run directly into our bodies, producing all sorts of improvements in our health, by regulating certain frequencies of energy and cleansing our bodies off a whole different set of frequencies we’re constantly being bombarded by. This has also a huge impact in our sleep habits. Just google “Earthing” and you’ll find lots of useful information on the movement if you’re interested.

8.- Stress managing
Stress is one of the main causes for anxiety issues and sleep deprivation, and it comes from several different sources, but it is also one of the easier ones to control if we give ourselves the time. Along with the aforementioned 30-minute walks, we can do several different things in order to combat stress, most of these things are really small but when added up, really make a difference. Some small things you can use in order to regulate your stress levels are: weekly massages, a light and sound machine, therapeutically electromagnetic devices (special mattresses for example), music, warm compresses around your neck, moderate physical activity, or simply laughing at a joke or show. Try any combination of these that you are able to incorporate into your weekly schedule, and even if it’s just a couple times for a few minutes, it will definitely help reduce your stress and increase the quality of your sleep.

9.- Sleep apnea alternative
Many of us have suffered from sleep apnea and the negative effects this brings along with it. This is something that I was diagnosed with myself after struggling with sleep for years.  Many of us have gone through the process of incorporating a CPAP machine into our lives with the sole purpose of correcting this. It works for many people, and it’s not that good for others. From a personal standpoint I’m not too keen on prolonged CPAP machine use, since it’s an external device, practically forcing you to breathe correctly, and I think something that is manipulating your body into working well can’t be ideal in the long run (though better than long term effects of sleep deprivation).

I’d like to suggest a different alternative known as the Buteyko Breathing Technique. This is basically a form of alternative physical therapy, used to treat respiratory conditions such as asthma. This method is based on the assumption that numerous medical conditions, including asthma, are caused by chronically increased respiratory rate or hyperventilation, and it offers a series of breathing exercises, designed to gradually correct these issues, some of which have helped me personally correcti sleep apnea. In my opinion, it’s something natural and worthy to look into if you’d prefer an alternative to a CPAP machine.

10.- Don’t mess up your sleep cycles on purpose!
This last bit of information sounds kind of obvious and redundant after everything we’ve gone through in this article but hear me out.

There’s a movement related to polyphonic sleep methods; this method seeks to split your usual long sleep sessions into several smaller ones during the course of 24 hours, getting down to 3-hour sleep total in a 24 hour period. At first, I thought of this as a very interesting and worthy idea, but after trying some of these as well as finding others who also had tried them it’s rare to find anyone is able to maintain them long term and most who tried them found them to be terrible for their health and productivity.  You can find some people who barely sleep and can maintain high productivity but generally you will see these same people have some serious health issues down the line. Sleep research is pretty clear that even if you think you are getting away with less sleep, you almost always get enough reduced productivity to not make the gain in extra wake time worth it, not to mention the potential health issues that can happen due to chronic sleep deprivations.

Looking for more energy? Try some crazy lighting and more!

There are several methods you can apply to your lifestyle in order to improve your energy reserves.

Every month we read a book together in the office, and today I’d like to review one that we just went through. It’s called Head Strong, by Dave Asprey. Dave Asprey calls himself a “biohacker”. He’s an individual that is always on the look for new ways to more energy, thinking clear, and being more productive overall; and all of these are accomplished through the implementation of life habits tweaking along with the use of interesting technology applications. He’s done research and experimentation of all of this on himself, and this book is based on those findings. We found several bits of useful information in this read, and I’d like to share a bit of that with you.

One of the more interesting topics he speaks about is that one related to how the energy in our cells actually function, and how their efficiency levels change under certain circumstances. First mitochondria provide cellular energy and are the basis for healthy cellular function. These are the “powerhouses of the cell”, the parts of cells that turn sugars, fats and proteins that we eat, into forms of chemical energy that the body can use to carry on living.

When mitochondrial energy reserves dwindle due to any given cause (being sick, lack of food, etc.), one of the first areas that is affected in our body is our brain; more specifically the frontal area of our brain, the one that takes care of higher thinking and all of that which makes us productive. The back of our brain remains a priority, since it’s in charge of maintaining all of the basic functions that we need in order to not die – It’s also important to consider that the brain uses approximately 10 times more mitochondrial energy in it’s cells than most of our other body parts. In the book, he mentions several tips and hacks designed to help us manage this energy reserves and keep our bodies as efficient as possible, in order to maintain focus and keep our higher thought processes in levels that help us maintain our productivity and creativity.

He also speaks about a concept called “light pollution”. Light pollution refers to how we, in our endless quest to embrace more and more technology into our lives, are bombarded by different spectrums of light which are different from the Sun’s spectrum and overstimulate our visual cortex. This area specifically, burns 10 times energy than other areas of our brain, and when overstimulated, can deplete our energy reserves very quickly.

Some hacks he mentions in order to combat this over stimulation is the use of red lights near screens and other blue light sources in order to balance their output and reduce the impact. This is because blue light is the most troublesome type of light when speaking about visual over stimulation, and fluorescent sources as well as LED bring in lots of it with them. Also, the use of blue light-filtering glasses is recommended, and these can be purchased online. Basically, they work by filtering out the amount of blue light we receive into our eyes on different levels depending on the glasses (these can be easily purchased online if you’re interested).

Wim Hof, also known as “The Iceman”, is also mentioned in his book. He holds several world records regarding to survival and resistance to cold. Some of the techniques used by Hof have been recommended by Asprey.  Special breathing techniques and cold therapy can dramatically increase energy, modulate immune systems and hormones in order to help you increase and better manage your energy reserves. These are only a few applications of his work, but more exist – if you’re interested in this field as we are, or are looking for ways to make changes to the quality of your lifestyle, we can’t recommend this book enough.

What should the LLC that holds my property be filed as?

I’d like to give you some information about corporate entity strategy in order for you to be able to better protect your assets. Even if you find this information useful, remember to always consult your attorney and your certified public accountant before you make any important decisions.

Choosing the right entity for your property can help you add an extra layer of protection to your assets and reduce expenses.

Let’s begin with taxes. Here at RTS we issue 1099s as required for most of our owners based on gross income received by us, when it is received by us. Your money comes directly to us, and when it does, IRS considers that money is becoming yours at that point. So, it’s not the net income you receive after it owner pay out, it’s the gross income we receive in your name. After we receive it, you can use our statements and deduct any expenses off your taxes from that 1099.

If you have a property that is in an LLC, you have certain level of choice in regard to the way you file it. This means you can basically choose how your LLC will be looked at by the IRS. You can file you LLC as a S corporation, C corporation, or a pass-through sole proprietorship. This means that the LLC lets all income and expenses pass through directly to the owning entity, whether it’s a person or another corporation.

Usually, if you have several properties, each with their own special LLCs we recommend to take them and turn them into sole proprietorships, passing all of the income and expenses directly to the owning entity. This allows you to reduce accounting expenses, since you will be doing fewer filings and movements for these properties. This is in general terms what we’ve seen most of our clients that own several properties do (as well as myself), but there could be other advantages or disadvantages related to doing this, depending on the amount of money and context that are being taken into consideration. Either way, always check with your legal advisor and accountant in order to know what’s best for you.

5 considerations before jumping in with the sharks to buy a rental property

Buy a home in Lorain Ohio

Lorain County Investment Property can feel a bit like swimming with sharks! Yes even at these great prices you can lose an arm!

If you are seeing all the great deals out there and want to get a great rental property before all the deals disapear, my advice is not so fast. The waters here are great for surfing but they are infested with SHARKS.

For instance it is not entirely unheard of to purchase a rental in Lorain County for $10,000 put $10,000 into it and be able to rent out the property for $700 per month. At first glance that means you will get your original investment back in 2.3 years.  Not bad.  We have seen better deals than that come across our desk and lesser deals (See our web form below join our investor list. ). However if you don’t know the area you might be in for some 30% plus vacancy that could significantly effect your profits. Or maybe you thought you could get 700 but after 6 months of trying you have to lower it to $450. Still not a terrible deal compared to many investments today but maybe not as good as you could have gotten.

1. Location, location, location.
Carefully consider exactly where you are buying. There are many out of town investors that look only at the numbers. However if you don’t know location you need to make sure you have someone who does helping you understand the benefits and drawbacks of a specific location. Some areas look great but simply are not desirable for a whole lot of reasons. Other areas don’t look good but actually are in demand.

One strategy for evaluating location is to consider the target market you think a home will be for. Is this home likely going to attract a you family based on the lay out and size? If this is the case then proximity to good local schools will be something for you to evaluate.

Other factors for your consideration are:

  • are crime rates
  • percentage of owner occupants on the street
  • vacancy rates in the area
  • are neighboring properties well maintained
  • availability of parking
  • is there any good public transit nearby
  • what are the local amenities (shopping, recreation centers, parks, golf courses, restaurants, banks)
  • how nearby are public service hubs like fire stations and the police station

Also consider location in the cost of landlord insurance. Your zip code effects your insurance rate big time.

2. Get on the knowledge train…
Make sure you understand the processes and legal obligations involved in renting out a property. One small slip up in how you advertise can mean a fair housing violation for you. Fair housing violations are very very expensive. There are also numerous requirements for paperwork to cover your tail and make sure you you have expectations properly set with your tenant. Do you know what lead based paint disclosure is? Ohio law requires it in properties built before 1978.

Make sure you understand the true costs when purchasing a rental property. They can bite your arm off. One benefit of the current market is that the low prices of homes are making cash purchases a reality for many potential investors so the risk of jumping in is much lower. Even if costs eat you alive your return on investment will likely be better than than the stock market or a CD.  Still it is very possible to lose money with an investment property and it is important that you do your research (hint- an investment property specialist can really help here- see below).

The following should be factored in:

  • Vacancy rates for the area
  • Security system while renting
  • Eviction costs
  • Cost of getting property ready for rent
  • Marketing cost
  • Maintenance cost
  • Management cost (You can do it or someone else can do it but it is still cost to factor in either way.  Keep in mind the cost you incur when you hire someone who isn’t a professional or do it yourself.  It dwarfs the cost of professional management which we believe will pay for itself many times over.)
  • Landlord insurance
  • Money cost- If you are getting financing (which we don’t recomend) then you will have your interest cost as well as payments on principal (which eat into cash flow).  If you use cash then you have to consider the oppurtunity cost of tying up your money in a property.
One excellent place for landlord knowledge locally here is LELA, however

3. Insurance

Rental property insurance is an absolute must.  If you are renting your property out then you certainly will not qualify for a standard home insurance policy.  Vacant homes that are not rented are even a bigger insurance hassle and you want to make sure that you are on board with a good insurance agent.  Email us for a referral (pm@rtserve.com).

Also you want to make sure that you are properly insured to protect your assets.  Although there are many other asset protection strategies in the form of separate entities like trusts, LLC’s etc (contact us if you want an attorney referral for this at pm@rtserve.com).  Our company has a $1,000,000 E & O policy and our Investment Property Management Company has $1,000,000 in insurance for repairs made to our clients properties as well.  For a Landlord an inexpensive umbrella policy would help protect against the freak lawsuit that could otherwise wipe away all the assets you have worked so hard to acquire.

4. Maintenance and upkeep
You’ll need to inspect your property at specific intervals and make sure that the tenant is not destroying property faster than what you might expect from normal wear and tear.  It is vital to make sure that a property is inspected reasonably soon after a tenant first moves in just to make sure they aren’t quickly destroying it.

Failing to maintain a property can result in injury to the occupants and then a lawsuit.  Also an unmaintained property is difficult to rent out to good paying renters.  It helps to have a reliable contractor on hand who can quickly do any work necessary (hint, hint… we can help with that- this is one benefit of professional maintenance.  and you won’t have 1AM calls for help).  For instance plumbing repairs and furnace repairs must be done immediately in order to avoid a certain and expensive vacancy.

5. Finding GREAT tenants
Promoting your property is an art in it self.  Different areas need different marketing techniques to find the best tenant for the area.  Also some areas will simply attract a different kind of tenant than other areas.  It is important to understand various areas and the best marketing for each area as well as how to screen tenants(see our tenant marketing strategies article here).

Find a great investment property

Let us know your investment property needs. Our specialist will contact you to assist you.
  • Let us know any questions you have or special requirements. Do you need a specific return?

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With more than 45 years of investment property management experience our expert team can relieve you of the burden of managing your rental property while saving you some serious money! Call us today at (440) 220-7300 to see how we can help you!

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