TaxReform May Offer Benefit for Real Estate Investors.

Tax Reform May Benefit Rental Real Estate Investors


The following is an excerpt from an article written by Daniel Bornstein, Esq. , founding partner of Bornstein Law based in San Francisco.  The full article can be found here

Impacts on rental housing providers

The National Apartment Association, in partnership with the National Multifamily Housing Council, has applauded the tax overhaul, touting it as a smart tax policy.

One of the most adorning centerpieces of the TCJA is the protection of flow-through entities. Not surprising, because three-quarters of apartment properties operate as flow-through entities, including residential landlords who own their rental property as sole proprietors, real estate investment trusts, LLCs, S corporations, or partnerships.

Under these tax provisions, businesses avoid the double taxation of paying corporate and individual taxes. Instead, taxes are applied solely at the individual level. Unlike owner-occupants, rental property owners can write off expenses like mortgages, repair, and management costs. Since these costs of doing business are deducted from the income the property produces, investors are only taxed on that income, so by reducing it, the investment acts as a tax shelter.

The TCJA, however, creates a new tax deduction for individuals who realize income through pass-through entities under Section 199A, also known as the Qualified Business Income Deduction, which arose from the Tax Cuts & Jobs Act of 2017. If rental activity qualifies as a business for tax purposes, as most do, owners may be eligible to deduct an amount equal to 20% of their net rental income. This is in addition to all other rental-related deductions. If landlords qualify, they are effectively taxed on only 80% of rental income.

There are many rules and limitations, of course, and as with any major revisions to the tax code, there will be modifications and interpretations which will change how this creature can be used.

The rich get richer?

Although wealthy real estate investors will be beneficiaries of the new tax rules, anyone who invests in rental real estate is likely to benefit. While critics note that Washington political figures emerge richer, perhaps they overlook the many small, mom-and-pop landlords. As we noted in this earlier post, these responsible landlords are stewards of the community, treat their tenants well, and are the driving force of affordable housing. They did not cause the housing crisis and indeed, have been adversely impacted by it with rising costs.

Pass-throughs are shrouded in mystery for many observers, with an accompanying undercurrent that they are an unseemly and arcane vehicle for corporations to avoid taxes or otherwise create some sort of mischief. In fact, roughly 95% of all businesses are categorized as pass-throughs, and they are very common for small business owners. In a pass-through, profits are merely passed through to the owners of the business, who then report that income on their individual tax returns and pay tax on it, with the rest of their normal income, and thus, there is nothing evasive.

Parting thoughts

Like most other matters we encounter at Bornstein Law, the law is cleaner on the page than it is in the real world, and many ambiguities need to be wrinkled out. Our job is not to legislate, but to counsel property owners and protect their real estate investments given their unique circumstances. While there is no shortage of viewpoints on tax reform circulating around the web, it is strongly recommended that you muffle the noise and sit down with an attorney to discuss your unique circumstances and real estate goals.

Traits of Successful Greenville, SC Property Management Compainie

Rent manager | August 30, 2021

Successful property management companies can help manage a real estate investment. In general, contrary to mainstream beliefs, being a real estate investor is not easy money. Television shows make it look like a money-dominating industry, but the reality is that it takes dedication, perseverance, and hard work. Property management in Greenville, SC maintains top-notch property management qualities to help ensure that landlords receive the best property management services possible. Traits of successful Greenville, SC property management companies include:

  • Knowledge – Having a knowledgeable property manager with a specific focus on a niche real estate market is important. For example, with residential rentals, landlords should opt for a property specialist in this area, not one that focuses on commercial leases. Property managers generally specialize in certain geographic areas, which allows them to keep track of rental rates, vacancy numbers, and the current rental market.
  • Attitude – Having a good, positive attitude is important in the business world. Property management is far from an easy industry, as property managers have to deal with difficult residents, evictions, non-paying tenants, etc. A well-rounded property management company learns from difficult situations and uses those experiences to apply to future business dealings.
  • Communication – In general, Greenville SC property management companies that focus on clear communication lines are more successful and report having happier tenants and more satisfied landlords.
  • Education – Property managers need to focus on continuing education. Whether itâ??s staying on top of the latest federal government requirements or real estate trends, property management is an ever-evolving field.

Top 10 Mistakes Landloards make

Meredith Williams  

Rental property ownership can be one of the most financially rewarding investments you will ever make.  As with any investment, there are risks that accompany the rewards.  Rental property investment has plenty of potential risks but with proper education and planning, the risks can be minimized.

Whether you are new to rental property investing or an experienced investor, here is a list of the most common pitfalls of rental property investors:

#10 – Overpriced rent

The investor who is anxious to maximize their return on investment may fall into the trap of thinking their property is worth more than the market will pay which can lead to a longer time on the market which equals vacancy.  A vacancy is a killer on your investment return, so correct market pricing is critical to a successful investment.    Rental prices are typically established through open market competition.  “Market rent” is determined by what residents are paying for comparable properties.  Rents will vary by property type, amenities, neighborhood, and overall property condition.  The apartment industry often tracks, and reports rent based on a square foot basis.  For example, a 1000 square foot apartment that rents for $1000 is renting at $1.00 per square foot.  This method makes for a systematic way of planning and pricing rents for an apartment community.  Single-family rental home pricing is similar but takes a little extra effort since homes can vary widely by condition, location layout, and amenities.  Begin by shopping the immediate market and compare.  Find out what other houses in the neighborhood are renting for and how long they were on the market.  You will begin to assess what a good current local rent should be for your property.  Keep in mind that market rents fluctuate based on multiple external factors such as local employment, seasonal or weather influences, and school districts to name a few.  For this reason, it is important to do this same process on a regular basis to make sure your rents are current with the market.  Remember, the market establishes your rent…not you.

#9 – Not increasing rents

Landlords often make the mistake of thinking that since they have a “good resident” who is taking care of the property and paying their rent on time they don’t want to upset the resident by giving them a rent increase at the end of their lease.  Rents will typically follow inflation.  By not raising rents to at least keep up with inflation means you are not only leaving money on the table but you may be digging a hole for yourself and your investment.  As we all know, costs of goods and services typically increase.  This means that the cost to maintain the property is also increasing.  Prior to the end of each lease term, a market evaluation should be done to determine the current market rent for your property.  An adjustment for inflation should be considered at a minimum.  In some cases, demand for available rental property may exceed supply.  In that case, you may find that your rent can increase even more.  There are rare occasions where a downward adjustment is required due to external market factors such as loss of major employment, but these instances are rare these days.   Making upward adjustments in your rent at the end of each lease period is smart business but does require attention to maintenance and other critical processes which will be mentioned later.

#8 – Believing that low rent will attract better renters

As discussed in the previous two paragraphs, rents are established by the supply and demand of available rental property.  The idea, therefore, of lowering rents to attract the best residents is short-sighted and you will be unnecessarily reducing the return on your rental property investment.  Quality residents are best determined by a thorough screening process.  Objective background screening that is compliant with federal, state, and local laws should include, credit, criminal, previous landlord, employment, and income and is critical to successfully placing a qualified resident.  A property that is well marketed at fair market rent will attract prospective residents.  Consistent application of your screening criteria will then allow you to identify a qualified resident without having reduced your rent.

#7 – Allowing Security Deposit to be paid in installments

This is a really bad idea!  Once a lease has been signed and the resident has moved in the only recourse for unpaid security deposit balance is to file a complaint about monies owed or possession (eviction) in the local magistrate court.  It is always best to require a full security deposit paid at the time the lease is signed and prior to move-in.

#6 – Allowing discounted rent in exchange for work on the property

In most cases, this is not a good idea.  Although this can be an effective and inexpensive (and tempting) way to make a needed repair or upgrade, the process is often mismanaged causing greater damage to the resident relationship, the property or creates risk exposure to the property owner.  It is best to respond to maintenance, repair, or upgrade need by hiring a fully insured, qualified vendor.  If the resident is qualified to complete needed work, proper documentation is critical.  Proper documentation will include: clearly specified work to be completed; specify materials; time frame; required inspection of the work (before, during, and after completion); photo documentation; define the compensation.  Perhaps most importantly, check with your insurance carrier to make sure you have coverage in the event the resident is injured, or property is damaged as a result of the work.  You may also want to have your lawyer draft a contract document.

#5 – Not knowing the law

There are well-established local, state, and federal laws governing residential rental housing.  Not knowing these laws can be expensive and have a devastating effect on your rental investment.  Local governments often adopt a housing standard and, in some cases, require a business license, property inspection, and certificate of occupancy for a rental home. At the state level, rental homes are governed by a statute that provides legal guidelines for the landlord/tenant relationship.  At the federal level both HUD and EPA regulate certain aspects of the rental property.   Every landlord needs to be familiar with these regulatory agencies and their requirements to avoid expensive mistakes or omissions.

#4 – Poor documentation

Let’s face it, we all want the resident to move in, pay their rent on time, report legitimate maintenance needs, clean and care for the property and move out in accordance with their lease with the property looking better than when they moved in.   However, we need to document not only property conditions but virtually all transactions and communications in case there is any variation from the perfect scenario.  Periodic property condition reports (including move-in and move-out) that include photographs or video and notes will not only document the condition of the property at that time but can also help identify unreported maintenance needs.  Resident rent payments should be documented on a resident ledger showing when rents are paid each month along with corresponding charges such as late fees, NSF charges or other lease-related payments.  All correspondence with the resident should be documented including application screening and decision criteria, phone calls, email and snail mail communications.  Maintenance records showing when work was requested, what work was done and when work was completed.  Maintaining good records and documentation will enable the rental investor to navigate through challenges that may occur.

#3 – Poorly written lease agreement

A poorly written lease can leave the property owner exposed to unnecessary risks.  As mentioned above, documentation is critical to a successful outcome when challenges arise.   Documentation starts with a quality lease agreement that incorporates applicable (and enforceable) landlord/tenant laws, rights, and responsibilities.  Rental owners often use a template lease form which should be thoroughly reviewed by both the property owner and a qualified attorney to ensure that the lease is compliant with local, state, and federal laws.  If things go well, then a poorly written lease may never be noticed but if things don’t go well a well-written lease will help protect the owner of investment property from unnecessary risk exposure.

#2 – Short-sighted maintenance

Rental property owners often see maintenance as a dreaded expense instead of an opportunity for value enhancement.  The resulting poorly executed maintenance response can be devastating to a rental investment return.  To be understood thoroughly we must remember two things:

1. A rental property is a naturally depreciating asset that must be maintained properly.  Without regular and proper maintenance, a property owner will lose value resulting from a decay of the property.  Proper and regular repair of the roof, walls, grounds, utility systems, interior finishes, and appliances all create real market value for the rental property.  Since the property is going to naturally decay or depreciate through use and from environmental factors we must maintain the property on a regular basis to stop or slow this process.

  1. A rental investment property is going to produce greater revenue if maintenance is handled effectively. Apartment industry surveys reveal that nearly 25% of residents who choose not to renew their lease make their decision based on poor quality maintenance repair and responsiveness. A lease that is not renewed results in turnover and vacancy expenses which increase operating costs.  It is a far better investment strategy to respond to legitimate maintenance requests with quality and timely maintenance services.

#1 – Becoming emotionally involved in the rental investment

The residential rental property includes three key components: people, money, and housing – each component is potentially charged with emotion.  However, by definition, an investment is the action or process of investing money for profit or material result.  There is no part of that definition that includes deference to one’s emotional wellbeing other than the part about “profit” of “material result.”  To put it simply, an investor in rental property must view their investment as a business and act that way.  A business exists to produce profit and provide opportunity.  Rental property investment is no different.  The investment must generate revenue and thereby an opportunity for both the investor (landlord) and the resident (customer).   It is important to take a step back and look at the commercial transaction that takes place between and landlord and a tenant.  The landlord provides a quality product (housing) for the marketplace (customers).  Customers (residents seeking housing) need a quality product.  Customers will always respond positively to a well-priced, quality product.  Housing is no different.  So, when a rental investor places that well-priced, quality product into the market it will attract customers needing that product.  Now that the customer has purchased the product (signed a lease, paid rent, and moved in) it is up to the business owner to ensure the customer is happy with the product through professional, courteous, timely services.  The key to success starts with an emphasis on professionalism and all the responsibilities and implications that go with being a professional.  Separating one’s emotion from the contractual, business relationship is an important skill for any professional and is important for the rental investor to learn if they are to be successful.

How to reduce Reduce Soil Erosion

silt fence 3 images silt fence 2 download silt fence1downloadYou can reduce soil erosion by:

Shredded bark is one of the best mulch types to use on slopes and it breaks down relatively slowly. Some shredded-bark products are byproducts from other industries and are considered environmentally friendly.

Maintaining a healthy, perennial plant cover.

  1. Mulching.
  2. Planting a cover crop – such as winter rye in vegetable gardens.
  3. Placing crushed stone, wood chips, and other similar materials in heavily used areas where vegetation is hard to establish and maintain.
  4. Erosion Control Blankets

Types Of Rocks To Help Stop Erosion

1) Cobblestones. 


3) Non-Absorbent Stone. 

4) Riprap. 

5) Using Retaining Walls. 

6) Anchoring Plant Beds With Boulders.

7) Creating A Rock Toe For Shorelines. 

8Rock Terraces

Silt fences are temporary barriers intended for retaining sediment and controlling erosion on construction sites. These fences are made out of synthetic filtration fabric, usually geo-textile filter fabric, woven together to create sheets of material that offer incredible strength and a good level of permeability

What is good to plant on a hillside?

Deep-rooted plants, such as prairie plants, hold their own on even the steepest slope. Ornamental grasses, ground cover roses and shrubs (including shrub roses with a sprawling growth habit) work well in hillside and slope planting. Native plants are nearly always an excellent choice.

Ornamental grasses like mondo, blue fescue, and yellow foxtail are ideal erosion fighters. These low-maintenance plants grow at moderate to fast speeds, thrive in both shade and full sun (depending on the climate), and establish strong, sprawling root systems that give soil staying power.

Biodegradable blanket contains at least 80% aspen wood fiber and helps control erosion and preserve soil. Topped with a photodegradable netting. Green color. Biodegradable anchor staples sold separately.

What can you plant on a slope to prevent erosion?

Some plants that work well on slopes include:

  • Burning Bush.
  • Fragrant Sumac.
  • Japanese Yew.
  • California Lilac.
  • Creeping Juniper.
  • Dwarf Forsythia.
  • Siberian Carpet Cypress.

Your Ultimate Carolinas Hiking Guide

If one of your New Year’s resolutions is to enjoy some more time outdoors then we have the ultimate hiking guide for you. Click here to view all the best trails in the area!

* Trails vary in distance and difficulty be sure to review a trail map before heading out on your hike! Also, while many parks are open now, some of these are on a limited basis. Be sure to check park websites before visiting* 

Happy hiking!

Buyers, 4 Tips for Getting Your Offer Accepted

In my 13 years in real estate, I’ve never seen this few homes on the market. It’s a very competitive market as a buyer, so you’ll need to work with the right team to get your offer accepted. These are the four things that give your offer the best chance of succeeding:

1. Using a local lender. I live and work in Greenville. When I get an offer that comes across my table from an outside lender, it immediately raises questions. I’m not sure who the lender is, how familiar they are with state laws, and more.


2. Using a well-known lender. When I see a pre-approval lender from someone I have done business with in the past, my concerns are eased. With an unknown lender, I have to spend more time doing my research to determine the actual strength of the offer.


“Without a great team, it’s going to be hard to win.”


3. Having a robust pre-approval. A simple pre-qualification letter just isn’t enough these days. A strong-pre approval verifies your income, confirms your credit, job history, and gets a complete financial picture to show the seller and their agent that you are a serious buyer.


4. Knowing your options. The team at NextHome is a perfect example of how creative thinking can get the job done. No matter what your situation, We can make sure that you have options and your offer is as strong as it can be.


Having an experienced and dedicated team on your side is so important as a homebuyer in this market. Without one, you’re going to keep getting beat out by other offers who do work with a local lender, do have a strong pre-approval, etc.

Your Ultimate Carolinas Hiking Guide

If one of your New Year’s resolutions is to enjoy some more time outdoors then we have the ultimate hiking guide for you. Click here to view all the best trails in the area!

* Trails vary in distance and difficulty be sure to review a trail map before heading out on your hike! Also, while many parks are open now, some of these are on a limited basis. Be sure to check park websites before visiting* 

Happy hiking! Hiking guide

Here’s what mortgage forbearance looked like in 2020

Year ends with 2.7 million in payment deferral plan

As the coronavirus began sweeping through the U.S. in March, many states issued shut-down orders for businesses, putting as many as 40 million people out of work by May.

On March 27, Congress passed the CARES Act to offer economic relief to those affected by the shut-downs, expanding unemployment benefits and offering mortgage forbearance to homeowners with mortgages backed or insured by the federal government, including Freddie MacFannie MaeVA and FHA.

Under the CARES Act, homeowners can ask for forbearance from their mortgage servicer and suspend payments for up to 12 months. Approximately 4.3 million homeowners have requested forbearance since the program began.

Today, 2.7 million homeowners remain in forbearance – with more than 78% of them in an extension plan, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association Forbearance and Call Volume Survey. Even now, with a vaccine now being distributed and a second stimulus check on the way, homeowners continue to take advantage of forbearance options.

In fact, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) announced last week that borrowers have even longer to request deferred payments after extending the deadline for initial forbearance requests for FHA-backed mortgages to Feb. 28, 2021. It’s now possible, with a six-month extension, for some FHA borrowers to be in forbearance until Feb. 2022.

Here’s how to help the next generation become homeowners

Despite what many believe, Gen Z and Millennials do want to become homeowners and they’re excited by the prospect. As an industry, if we are willing to step into that advisory role, we can be more successful in helping prospective homebuyers become homeowners.

Presented by: Fannie Mae

Here’s a month-by-month look at how mortgage forbearance unfolded this year.

March: President Donald Trump declared a national emergency on March 13, and the housing industry was instantly affected. Redfin, as just one example, announced in April it would be reducing its number of employees by approximately 7%, and companies outside of the industry began furloughing and laying off employees as well.

Crucially, on March 23 Fed Chairman Powell announced the central bank would make “unlimited” MBS purchases, pushing the average 30-year fixed mortgage down to 3.45%.

April: The overall share of mortgage loans in forbearance rose to 7.54% in the last full week of April, with bank-based servicers holding the biggest slice. By this point, 30 million Americans had filed for unemployment insurance since mid-March.

At the end of April, the average U.S. rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage fell to an all-time low of 3.23%.

May: With millions out of work, the housing market faced its greatest challenge in over a decade. By May 31, total loans in forbearance reached 8.53% – with almost 4.3 million homeowners in forbearance plans.

But, as mortgage rates continued to drop, Realtors started reporting an uptick in activity as apartment and city dwellers sought more space.

June: The beefed-up unemployment benefits did keep forbearance rates lower than many forecasted; Instead of 20% or 30%, the forbearance rate was 8.6% of all active mortgages in June’s final week. The numbers of homeowners with loans in forbearance fell to 4.2 million.

Consumers who still had their jobs continued to take advantage of record-low mortgage rates, with home sales jumping 21% from May.

July: The Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta warned in July that the danger of mortgage forbearances turning into foreclosures was rising, as case numbers of people infected with COVID-19 hit record-breaking numbers. Although these numbers appear tame now, the nation reported an at-the-time record of 54,500 new virus infections prior to the July 4 holiday.

Adding to consumers’ stress, July 30 marked the end date for the $600-a-week federal enhancement to state unemployment benefits aimed at fully replacing salaries of people who lost jobs amid the pandemic.

“The threat that forbearance will transition to foreclosure has regained power because the number of COVID-19 infections is increasing and the CARES Act unemployment insurance benefits will expire at the end of July,” Atlanta Federal economists said.

By July 26, the total number of loans in forbearance was down to 7.67% and 3.8 million homeowners were in forbearance plans.

August: The forbearance rate for mortgages backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac fell by 9,000 in August, offsetting gains by other loan programs and leaving the overall rate at 4.7%.

An August report of accounts in financial hardship by TransUnion revealed while 53% of respondents reported making normal payments on their mortgage loans, 14% claimed they didn’t know how they were going to pay their next bill.

By August 30, the total number of loans in forbearance fell to 7.16%, and 3.6 million homeowners were in forbearance plans.

Mortgage rates landed at 2.93% at the end of the month, fueling a home-buying spree in some areas of the country.

September: The number of mortgages in active forbearance rose by 21,000 in the last week of September, according to a report by Black Knight. Nearly 7% of all mortgages in the country were in active forbearance, representing 3.6 million homeowners and $751 billion in unpaid principal.

Mortgage rates hit an all-time low by the end of the month, to 2.88%, fueling a fall origination boom.

October: The Department of Housing and Urban Development in October announced that the FHA was extending the date for consumers to ask for mortgage forbearance to Dec. 31, 2020.

By October 25, 2.9 million homeowners were in forbearance plans and 5.83% of the total number of loans were in forbearance. Mortgage rates hit 3.01% by the end of the month.

November: By November 22, 2.8 million homeowners were in forbearance plans, representing 5.54% of the total number of mortgage loans.

Mortgage rates hit a record low in November, reaching 2.72%. New and existing home sales began to cool compared to October, but were still over 20% higher than November 2019.

December: Heading in to the last week of the year, Black Knight estimates 2.8 million homeowners are in some form of forbearance, or 5.3% of all mortgages – accounting for $565 billion in unpaid principle.

Mortgage rates hit the lowest number in Freddie Mac survey history in December, dropping to 2.66%.

On Dec. 2, the FHFA extended its foreclosure moratorium for borrowers with mortgages backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac – though for just a one-month grace period to Jan. 31. The FHFA has not announced whether it will continue to buy loans in forbearance past the current expiration date of Dec. 31, 2020.

Ten days ahead of its latest expiration date, HUD extended the deadline for FHA forbearance requests to Feb. 28, 2021.

On Dec. 21, a second stimulus bill was signed that will provide $600 to adults making less than $75,000.

More information can be found at HousingWire’s Forbearance FAQ page.

We support Canine Companions for Independence

An assistance dog from Canine Companions for Independence opens up the world to new friends and opportunities for children with disabilities.

How to Donate?

donateYour generous donations allow Canine Companions for Independence to offer expertly-trained assistance dogs to people with disabilities at no charge to them. NextHome is proud to support this great cause and with your help, together we can fund the breeding, raising, and training of more puppies who will go on to make a difference in the lives of those who need it most. Click the link below for donations by credit card. For donations by check, please write “NextHome” in the memo line and use the check remittance form when mailing all checks. Please make checks payable to Canine Companions for Independence and mail to Canine Companions for Independence, P.O. Box 446, Santa Rosa, CA 95402.

Your Monthly Maintenance Minute

Water leaking from your toilet tank will not only cost you money when it comes to your utility bill, but it can also cause water damage to your bathroom floor and premature wear of your toilet’s internal workings. To find out whether your toilet tank is leaking, add some red food coloring to the water in the tank. Come back in about an hour and see if the water in the bowl is pink. If it is, you have a leak.


If you find that your toilet is leaking from the tank to the bowl, the flapper needs to be replaced. To change your toilet’s flapper, first shut off the water supply to your toilet. To do this, simply turn the water valve located directly behind the toilet. Remove the tank lid and flush the toilet in order to empty the tank. Use a towel or sponge to mop out any excess water left in the tank. Remove the flush chain from the lever, and then slide the old flapper up off the overflow tube. Slide the new flapper in place over the overflow tube, reconnect the chain, and turn the water supply back on.

Your Monthly Maintenance Toilet