A Complete Renter’s Guide To Understanding Your Apartment Lease Agreement

Here’s an overview of the types of lease agreements and important terms to understand before signing on the dotted line.

Renting your first place with a roommate or paying rent on your own for the first time means you need to submit a rental application to rent a residential property. Once a landlord accepts your rental application, you’ll review and sign an apartment lease agreement.

Understanding the terms of a rental lease agreement is important for both the landlord and tenant. Legally binding contracts are not something a property owner or property management company takes lightly.

It’s important for both the tenant and property manager to understand what’s included in an apartment lease agreement before it’s signed.

The lease agreement also protects both parties since the terms can’t change once it gets signed. The landlord can’t change the monthly rent amount or add a pet fee if the lease doesn’t include a pet policy.

What is a rental lease agreement?

A lease agreement is a legally binding contract between the landlord and tenant for a particular piece of real estate. It outlines the rules agreed upon by both the landlord and the tenant in clear lease terms. The lease agreement includes important details, including the type of real estate, monthly rent amount and the lease term.

A security deposit is part of lease agreements, even in a month-to-month lease agreement. Sometimes, house rules include a pet policy not allowing pets or no smoking allowed in the unit or on the real estate property. These house rules should be in the lease agreement so there are no misunderstandings.

Verbal agreements are difficult to enforce. Anything discussed should be in the final rental or lease agreement. A verbal agreement is useless if one of the parties forgets what they said or flat out denies it.

If a landlord doesn’t offer aan apartment lease agreement, a tenant could ask for one.

Read your rental lease agreement and know what it means.

Read your rental lease agreement and know what it means.

Types of leases in a rental agreement

There are many lease agreements available when someone rents a property.

Most fixed-term lease agreements include a lease period of 12 months. A month-to-month rental lease agreement is not uncommon. Each rental lease agreement includes how much rent the tenant pays each month and when the monthly rent amount is due. It also notes the security deposit amount, whether there’s a pet deposit and the lease end date.

It also includes other details, such as who is responsible for utilities, property maintenance, property repairs and whether parking is available as part of the real estate to those who pay rent or if it’s included in the monthly rent.

Legal terms, monthly rent details and other things in an apartment lease agreement

A lease agreement is a legally binding contract. Take the time to read it so you know what you’re renting, what you can do on the property and what you can’t.

While many are standard agreements, each rental agreement should outline, for example, how much advance notice you need to provide should the lease end date need to change or what the pet policy is for the rental properties.

Governing law refers to the state laws that govern the lease. In most cities, standard residential leases are governed by and construed in accordance with state laws.

It’s important to review the rental lease agreement closely as it outlines what is considered normal wear and tear.

For example, if a tenant decides to paint the whole apartment or remove blinds and put in curtains and there’s no written consent as part of the lease terms, the security deposit may not be returned if the rental property manager needs to pay to have the unit repainted or add blinds.

What each section means in a sample lease

Lease agreements are pretty standard but it’s good to note what each should include. Here are what each section means in a sample lease.

Property details

The rental lease agreement should include basic facts about the rental property. Each agreement includes the address, landlord or property manager’s name and contact information. It notes when the lease begins and ends, the monthly rent amount and what the monthly rent includes, such as appliances and parking.

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Payments, deposits, lease termination, late fees

In addition to how much rent is expected every month, the lease agreement should make it clear when each month’s rent is due by and what, if any, late fees can be expected if you pay rent late. If you have a roommate, what might happen should one of you need to end the lease early?

Does the lease agreement note you’ll need to provide the first month’s rent and last month’s rent and a security deposit?

If a security deposit is due upon the signing of the lease, how is it handled upon lease termination? What’s considered normal wear and tear and what will be covered by a security deposit?

How much advance notice does a tenant need to give a landlord of their intent not to renew a lease once the lease expires or once the landlord lets the tenant know the monthly rent amount will increase? It should note the monthly rental rate does not increase during the fixed period of the lease.

Resigning or breaking your lease

Life happens, a new job opportunity in another city presents itself or something happens in which you need to break your lease. There are things your landlord will appreciate as part of a good landlord-tenant relationship.

It’s a good idea to review the details of the agreement, including what kind of advance notice you must give. There could be many reasons why you may have to break your lease. It’s important to know what’s at stake if you have to break a lease. You could lose your security deposit and your last month’s rent. You could also be responsible for finding someone to sublet your apartment or need to pay each month’s rent until your lease ends.

Include everything in writing to save time and money

Renting a new apartment can be a fun experience. Knowing the terms of your new home by reviewing the lease agreement can save both time and headaches in the short and long term. Having this legally binding agreement can help avoid misunderstandings, too.

Source: rent.com

Is Buying Farmland a Good Investment? 4 Reasons to Own Agricultural

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Real estate is one of the most popular alternative investments. When most people think about real estate, they imagine rental homes, office buildings, and storage units.

But what about farmland?

Some of the world’s wealthiest people use farmland to diversify their portfolios, and for good reason. Fertile crop lands are known for producing returns that outpace most assets while offering reduced volatility. 

Of course, as with any other investment there are risks to consider. Bad weather can cause significant reductions in returns, the cost of operating a farm can become intense quickly, and if you run a farm yourself, the work is arduous, to say the least. 


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So, is farmland a good investment when you consider all factors?


Is Buying Farmland a Good Investment?

There’s no question that farmland is an attractive investment option for the right buyer. The key is research and ensuring that you get a quality deal. There are several reasons farmland makes a good investment:

1. Farmland Returns

Regardless of what you’re investing in, a strong investment is one that creates strong returns. Let’s face it, you’re not investing for the sheer purpose of owning assets; you’re investing as a means to achieve financial stability, increase your net worth, or set up a comfortable retirement. Life isn’t all about the money, it’s your investments are all about the benjamins. 

So, how does farmland stack up?

You might be surprised that farmland has been one of the best returning asset classes for the past 20 years, producing a 12.24% average annual return according to AcreTrader. That’s impressive by any benchmark. Just look at some of the average annual returns of more traditional investments:

  • Stocks. The S&P 500, the flagship stock market benchmark for the United States, has generated annualized returns of about 10.5% over the past several decades. 
  • Gold. According to Statista, gold — one of the world’s most prized safe-haven investments — generates average annual returns of around 10.61%. 
  • Silver. According to data from Macrotrends, silver saw annualized returns of around 10.33% from 2009 through 2020, although there was quite a bit of turbulence throughout this period. 

Of course, fixed-income investments like bonds are known for producing even lower returns. 

So, when looking at the long-term return rates of various investment vehicles, it quickly becomes clear that the more than 12% average annual return enjoyed by farmland investors in recent decades is impressive. 

2. Land Values Are Expected to Continue Rising

What makes land as an asset class so special?

Scarcity. 

Although it may seem as though land is abundant today, that’s far from the case, and the global supply of real estate for sale continues to shrink. An increasing global population means more demand for crops and a growing demand for land, both for farming and living on.

Stating the obvious, there’s no way to create more Earth; our planet is only so big. By the law of supply and demand, the finite supply of land itself and the fact that demand is increasing by the day suggest price appreciation will occur over time, meaning that farmland values must rise.

Land is in finite supply. Sure, the Earth is a decent-sized planet, but it’s not growing! 

As the global population continues to grow, new homes will need to be built and farms will need to supply more food for people to eat. As this trend continues, land values are only likely to continue on the upswing, leading to significant growth in prices.

3. Farmland Provides Passive Income

Price appreciation isn’t the only way to make money with farmland investments. 

Farms are active operations that make money each and every year. As long as you own farmland, you have the opportunity to earn reasonable returns by growing crops on the land. 

Of course, running a farm can be expensive and time consuming, but as we’ll discuss shortly, there are many ways to go about investing in farmland. Unless you’re buying the physical land and working it yourself, the farming operations are handled by a third party. 

By doing your due diligence and investing in farmland that’s best for high-value crops, you’ll have the ability to generate meaningful passive income through your investments. However, there are a few factors that influence a farm’s passive income:

  • Different Crops Have Different Values. Paying close attention to the crop produced on the farm you’re investing in is crucial. For example, 1,000 pounds of pistachios is far more valuable than 1,000 pounds of corn. 
  • Different Crops Take Longer to Mature. Although pound for pound pistachios are more valuable than corn, corn matures far faster than pistachios. If you’re looking to generate immediate income, it’s best to invest in farmland known for producing crops that mature quickly. 
  • Environmental Factors. Finally, environmental factors will play a role in the cost of operating a farm, whether you own the entire farm or shares of it. For example, a farm in a region known for high levels of rain will be less expensive to water than one in a dryer climate. Weather factors like severe temperatures or varying rainfall amounts can greatly impact a farm’s yield in a given season. 

4. Food Demand Points to a Strong Long-Term Investment

Once you get into farmland ownership, whether directly or indirectly, you may decide you’ll never sell your holdings, and for good reason. Food demand is growing sharply for two reasons.

First and foremost, the global population is growing quickly and that growth has been accelerating. This trend is expected to continue for the foreseeable future. After all, more babies today means more weddings in 20 years and more families having more babies. According to SeafoodSource, about 2.3 billion people will be added to the global population by 2050, requiring 70% more food then than the global population requires now. 

That growth in demand for the crops produced on farmland means the revenue generated per acre is likely to climb dramatically over the coming decades. As a result, there’s a strong argument that farmland isn’t just a strong investment in terms of price appreciation, but that it’s worth holding onto for the long run in order to reap the benefits associated with feeding the world. 


Pros and Cons of Farmland as an Investment

Every asset class has its strengths and weaknesses, and farmland is no different. Here are the major advantages and disadvantages of investing in farmland.

Pros of Investing in Farmland

There are several reasons to consider investing in farmland. It has the potential to generate strong, relatively stable returns while making you feel good about what your investment dollars are supporting. Here are some of the biggest benefits to farmland investments. 

High Returns

You often hear stories or read ads about returns of 100% or more on an annualized basis. The truth is, those types of returns are ridiculously difficult to achieve, if not impossible in most cases. The general rule of thumb is that if you’re producing 10% or more per year in your portfolio, you’re doing very well. 

Farmland is more than capable of doing just that. 

As mentioned above, the average return on a piece of farmland over the last couple of decades has been about 12.24%, outpacing stocks, bonds, gold, and silver. If money talks, farmland is definitely doing the talking. 

Low Volatility

Most investments that tend to outperform some of the most watched benchmarks come with incredibly high levels of volatility, meaning that the assets are known for wide swings in value. While land does increase and decrease in value, it generally does so at a relatively steady pace. 

This lack of volatility is a big draw for many investors, especially the risk-averse crowd. 

The Feel-Good Effect

There are tons of different things you can do with your investment dollars — some a bit more noble than others. Investing in farmland is a venture that’s both profitable and valuable to society. You’ll know that your investments aren’t just making money for you, they’re playing a role in making it possible to meet the growing demand for food, a basic humanitarian need. 

Passive Income 

Those looking for income from their investments can benefit greatly from investing in real estate. Rental properties provide investors with rental payments, but farmland makes passive income from the crops it produces.

After all, when you own a farm, you’re not just holding an asset that was designed to sit idle and await price appreciation. You’re investing in an asset that’s made for making regular annual income sometimes literally grow on trees. 


Cons of Investing in Farmland

Sure, there are plenty of reasons to consider investing in a farm, but there are also risks to consider. Some of the most significant risks include:

Market Risk 

The amount of money you make from crops on your farm will depend heavily on commodity prices. Should commodities fall in value, there’s a good chance your farmland investments will underperform. 

Liquidity Risk

It’s far easier to sell a share of Apple stock than it is to offload a piece of land. When investing in farmland, you may be stuck with your investment for years before a buyer comes along. 

Poor Weather Conditions

From time to time, severe weather or an unexpectedly harsh winter or summer will lead to lower-than-expected yields, directly affecting the return on investment you’ll experience. 

High Cost of Exposure

Buying farmland isn’t cheap, and with limited inventories available, it’s only getting more expensive. As a result, farmland investments are usually only available to those with a relatively high value investment portfolio. 


How to Invest in Farmland

As mentioned above, there are quite a few ways to go about investing in farmland. Some of the most common include:

Buy Farmland Directly

The most obvious way to go about making a farmland investment is buying the land outright. To do so, you’ll find yourself searching websites like Zillow and Realtor.com for agricultural land for sale. Unfortunately, you’ll also find that your options are limited. 

According to the U.S. Sustainability Alliance, 98% of farms in the United States are owned by families, representing about 86% of U.S. farmland production. Much of the remainder of the farmland is held by institutional investors and high net worth individuals. Even Bill Gates owns 242,000 acres of cropland in 19 different states. 

As a result, the supply of agricultural properties available for purchase is quickly diminishing, with the vast majority already owned by a holder that’s not interested in selling. However, with a bit of research, you may be able to find a worthwhile property. 

Invest In Farming ETFs

One of the simplest and most common ways to access farmland investment is to invest in exchange-traded funds (ETFs) dedicated to farming. ETFs are a popular type of investment vehicle that pool money from a large group of investors to buy assets according to the fund’s prospectus. 

Farming ETFs invest in stocks that represent farming companies or in commodity futures. For example, one of the most popular is the Invesco DB Agriculture Fund (DBA), which invests in a wide range of agricultural futures from cotton to soybeans. 

Invest In Farming REITs

Another way to go about making investments in farms is to invest in farming-focused real estate investment trusts (REITs). REITs are funds that pool investment dollars from a large group of investors, much like ETFs. However, farmland-focused REITs use those investment dollars to purchase and maintain farmlands on behalf of shareholders. 

By investing in these companies, your investments are supporting large corporations that have farming down to a science. For example, one of the largest farming REITs is known as Gladstone Land (LAND). The fund owns land in 14 states and actively produces returns for its investors through farming operations. 

Be Part of the Crowd

Crowdfunding has become a popular way for companies to raise the money they need, and many of those companies are farmers. In fact, there are several websites and apps dedicated to connecting retail investors to farmers in need of funding. The rise of real estate crowdfunding has made it easy for everyday investors to participate in farmland investments.

When taking advantage of these investment opportunities, investors are generally granted a percentage of ownership in the farms they support. So, when the farmer earns money from the crops produced, the investors will each receive their share of the profit.  


Where to Invest in Farmland

One of the biggest obstacles to farmland investing is figuring out where exactly to go to make the investments. These days, there are several options to consider. 

Real Estate Listings

If you’re interested in buying physical land and managing the farm on your own, you’ll want to go to real estate listing websites like Zillow, Realestate.com, and LandWatch.com. These websites have a central focus on selling real estate, and most have sorting options that allow you to browse land-only listings rather than residential properties.

Before purchasing a physical piece of land for farming, make sure that land is zoned for agricultural use. 

Crowdfunding Platforms

There are a few major challenges associated with buying land directly. Not only is the initial investment required going to be pretty hefty, farming isn’t easy work. That’s why many investors prefer buying land through crowdfunding platforms. 

By purchasing land this way, the farming operations aren’t your responsibility. Instead, they’re the responsibility of the farmer who’s selling shares of the land. Moreover, crowdfunding platforms allow you to invest in farmland with less out-of-pocket cost. Although most platforms have minimum investments ranging from $10,000 to $15,000, that’s far less than you’d pay to own a farm and the equipment required to operate it. 

Crowdfunding platforms geared toward farming are essentially in the business of connecting farmland partners that are interested in forming long-term, profitable partnerships. Some of the most popular platforms include AcreTrader, FarmTogether, and FarmFundr. 

Unfortunately, however, the vast majority of crowdfunding platforms for farmland are reserved for accredited investors with high incomes or high net worths. It can be harder to find opportunities that allow investors with more modest means to buy into shares of farmland.

Buy Farming Stocks, ETFs & REITs

For most investors, the best way to go about investing in farmland is to buy farming stocks, ETFs, or REITs. These investments are accessible to everyone, and the minimum investment required equates to the cost of a single share of the company, fund, or trust, which is generally under $100. 

You can purchase these assets with any popular broker like Charles Schwab, E*Trade, and TD Ameritrade, among a long list of others. 


Final Word

All told, farmland is a great asset to add to your investment portfolio. While there are hurdles to purchasing physical farmland, whether directly or through a crowdfunding platform, it’s easy to gain access to these assets in the stock market by purchasing stocks, ETFs, or REITs focused on farming. 

As is the case with any investment, it’s always important to do your due diligence. That’s true regardless of the type of farmland you’re planning on buying or whether you plan on investing in it directly or indirectly. Research is the foundation of any strong investment decision. 

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Joshua Rodriguez has worked in the finance and investing industry for more than a decade. In 2012, he decided he was ready to break free from the 9 to 5 rat race. By 2013, he became his own boss and hasn’t looked back since. Today, Joshua enjoys sharing his experience and expertise with up and comers to help enrich the financial lives of the masses rather than fuel the ongoing economic divide. When he’s not writing, helping up and comers in the freelance industry, and making his own investments and wise financial decisions, Joshua enjoys spending time with his wife, son, daughter, and eight large breed dogs. See what Joshua is up to by following his Twitter or contact him through his website, CNA Finance.

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What is the Fair Housing Act and How Does It Impact Renters?

Life isn’t fair, but equal opportunity access to housing should be.

There are many ways for a person to experience discrimination. Historically, certain groups have faced discrimination in just about every way possible. For example, perhaps they’re not paid the same wage as a similarly qualified co-worker, someone forced them out of an area due to urban development or denied them other basic rights. It’s of general public importance that society and the Department of Justice continue to chip away at such injustices, futile as it may seem sometimes.

Discrimination in housing happens when someone denies housing to a person on the basis of race, color, religion, sex (both sexual orientation and gender identity), disability status, national origin or familial status. One would hope that society has come past all of that, but the Fair Housing Act sets up rules and standards so that landlords and property managers don’t try to pull a fast one.

What was the result of the Fair Housing Act of 1968?

Sadly, the Fair Housing Act of 1968 was a long time coming. It was finally passed as Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968 just after the assassination of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. In fact, President Lyndon Johnson promoted the passage of the act as a tribute of sorts to Dr. King, as he’d been a major supporter of fair housing practice rights throughout the civil rights movement.

Since the passage of the Fair Housing Act, it is much more difficult for landlords and property owners to engage in discrimination in housing, even as housing and urban development continually change the landscape of America. It also makes it unlawful for a mortgage lender to refuse funds based on personal characteristics.

Black and white hands gripped together.

Black and white hands gripped together.

What is the main purpose of the federal Fair Housing Act?

The main purpose of the Fair Housing Act is to eliminate housing discrimination. Although it has made a significant dent, the housing industry is far from perfect today. In fact, the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health released data in 2017 that says that 45 percent of African Americans, 31 percent of Latinos, 17 percent of Native Americans and 25 percent of Asian Americans report being victims of housing discrimination when attempting to either buy or rent housing. This is likely because there are lots of ways to discriminate against potential tenants that aren’t just saying, “No, you can’t live here.”

What characteristics are in the Fair Housing Act?

The federal government prohibits discrimination against certain groups during any part of the housing process. This includes such behavior from landlords, property managers, brokers, mortgage lenders, insurance companies and real estate agents. Most of them are pretty obvious, but here’s a breakdown of the categories.

  • Race. It’s illegal to discriminate based on a person’s race, or even their perceived race. This also includes multiracial people, as well as those engaged in a relationship with a person of a different race.
  • Color. The color of a person’s skin cannot be considered in housing matters. This includes whether a person’s skin is lighter or darker or between members of the same race.
  • Religion. Housing cannot be denied or influenced by the applicant or buyer’s religion.
  • Sex. This includes housing discrimination based on “actual or perceived gender identity and sexual orientation.” Sexual harassment is also vigorously protected.
  • Disability status. Protects against discrimination of people with any type of disability, whether mental or physical. A few examples of disability are those with HIV, cancer, drug addiction, alcoholism, mental illness, visual/speech/hearing impairments, autism, epilepsy, etc. It doesn’t apply to people who are, “current users of illegal controlled substances, but does provide protections for individuals with drug or alcohol addiction.” People with disability status also have the right to accessibility requirements.
  • National origin. According to the Department of Justice, national origin refers to the country where a person was born, or where his or her ancestors came from.
  • Familial status. The Fair Housing Act doesn’t allow discrimination against families with children under 18. The exception, of course, is facilities established as “Housing for Older Persons,” also known as 55+ community developments.

Unfair decisions about housing based on these characteristics apply to properties for sale or rental properties in suburban or urban development situations.

Denying and application

Denying and application

The many ways the Fair Housing Act prevents discrimination based on national origin, race, etc.

The Fair Housing Act isn’t exactly light reading. It has a lot of components that people aren’t aware of, and, in fact, may think that certain behaviors are normal during the renting or buying process. It becomes all the more critical as housing and urban development continue to rage. Here’s a breakdown of the components of the Fair Housing Act:

How housing discrimination is prevented in cases of sale or rental housing

At the risk of being redundant, the Fair Housing Act makes it unlawful to refuse housing because of race, color, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, familial status, national origin or disability status. Housing providers cannot discriminate against someone by using one of those factors to do the following:

  • Decline to sell housing, refuse to rent housing based on personal characteristics
  • Decline to negotiate on housing based on those same reasons
  • Make housing unavailable
  • Change the parameters for sale or rental to less favorable terms. So, the landlord cannot alter the privileges, terms or conditions of the contract based on personal characteristics.
  • Change the sale or rental price
  • Offer or suggest different housing options in a discriminatory manner. For example, it’s unlawful to steer someone to a different unit based on family status, like whether they have children under 18. Or, whether or not they receive housing assistance.
  • Put out an advertisement that displays any preference. Phrases like, “Perfect for singles” or “young professionals” are not allowed because that discriminates against older people, those in blue-collar jobs and families.
  • Lies and says that a particular unit is not available
  • Change or use totally different application or qualification criteria altogether to discriminate against people in housing and urban development. This includes application fees, application procedure, income requirements, credit score requirements, etc.

Wheelchair ramp to provide accessibility

Wheelchair ramp to provide accessibility

How the Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination against someone already in housing

  • Harass the tenant about anything related to race, color, sexual orientation, familial status, etc. Sexual harassment is also strictly prohibited.
  • Delay or totally fail to perform repairs or maintenance of housing based on a tenant’s race, disability status, etc. Or, if the owner refuses to make reasonable accommodation so that a person with a disability can fully use the unit and amenities.
  • Evict the renter or their guest without just cause
  • Steer the tenant to certain areas, like a particular part of the building
  • Place limits on amenities, privileges, facilities, etc. In other words, the property manager can’t dictate whether or not certain people can use community access amenities, like the swimming pool or laundry room.
  • Manipulate the process of obtaining homeowners insurance. For example, a provider can’t change the terms or refuse to insure a person or family based on race, etc.
  • Refuse a person’s membership in a real estate brokers’ association or a multiple listing service based on personal characteristics
  • Attempt to profit on the listing or sale of a home by persuading owners to sell because “people of a particular protected characteristic are about to move into the neighborhood.” This is known as blockbusting.

How the Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing during the mortgage process

The Fair Housing Act also extends to protect people from discrimination during the mortgage lending process. A lender cannot do any of the following based on a person’s race, color, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, familial status, national origin or disability status.

  • Deny a mortgage loan or other types of financial assistance
  • Deny a person loan information
  • Alter terms or conditions based on racial discrimination. For example, interest rates, fees, points, etc.
  • Inaccurately appraise a dwelling as a form of discrimination in housing
  • Refuse to buy a loan based on race, etc.
  • Place conditions on a loan that hinge on a renter/buyer’s response to harassment

There are obviously many ways for a person to experience discrimination in housing. Even though the Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination outright, it certainly still occurs.

Is anyone exempt from following the Fair Housing Act?

A few types of landlords and owners are exempt from adhering to the Fair Housing Act’s standards. For example, an owner who sells or rents out a single-family home without using an agent is exempt. So is an owner who occupies a building that has four or fewer units. Lastly, if a religious group or club operates private housing for members only, they are exempt, as well.

Young woman looking confused.

Young woman looking confused.

What to do if you’ve experienced housing discrimination

Both state law and federal law prohibit discrimination in regard to housing. However, it still happens, so it’s important to know what to do if you face housing discrimination. Individual states have their own channels to report housing discrimination, or a person can file a complaint online via the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). HUD also accepts complaints by email, telephone or regular mail. HUD responds to all complaints within 10 business days.

You must file complaints within one year of the encounter, however, so don’t let them languish. Include all of the following information in the complaint:

  • Your name and address
  • The name and address of the person you’re complaint is regarding
  • Address of the housing involved in the complaint
  • Date(s) of the incident
  • A brief summary of the incident in question

Upon receiving the complaint, it’s thoroughly investigated. Fair housing rights investigators talk to all parties involved, including any witnesses and determine if there’s reasonable cause to move forward. They collect any details and data and then, help everyone involved in the complaint come to an agreement.

If necessary, the illegal discrimination complaint could wind up in front of an administrative law judge in federal or state court. This is especially likely if a person decides to file suit against a community development, public housing or other housing providers.

If the Justice Department finds merit in the claim, they will likely inflict civil penalties. For the first violation of the Fair Housing Act, civil penalties are a maximum of $16,000. For the second violation within the past five years, the penalty is $37,500. If two or more violations occur within a seven-year period, the penalty is $65,000. The Department of Justice is not playing around!

The impact of housing discrimination

It’s probably very tempting to ignore instances of housing discrimination based on race, etc. Despite the stress and effort involved in the complaint process, it’s absolutely important to fight back against illegal discrimination practices.

In addition to being of general public importance, civil rights are an ongoing battle for people of all types, whether it’s to do with accessibility requirements for disabled people, sexual harassment, national origin, sexual orientation or anything else.

Source: rent.com

Why Now Might Be a Good Time to Sell Your Investment Real Estate

Historically speaking, independent real estate investors who held for the long-term walked a relatively straightforward (although bumpy and slow at times) path toward achieving asset appreciation and long-term wealth. This path would often look something like this: An investor would purchase a piece of property that would potentially generate enough cash flow to cover the expenses, including principal and interest on the mortgage, insurance, property taxes and maintenance costs. Over time, the property would (hopefully) increase in value, income (rents) would rise, and certain tax advantages, like the ability to deduct operating and depreciation expenses, could be utilized to improve cash flow.

However, the steady march of new government regulations, the impact of COVID-19, and some basic real estate economics have helped some real estate investors recognize that the real estate investments they own have become less profitable and could even worsen to the point where investors could actually lose money each year.

The Growing Impact of Rent Control Before and After COVID-19

While this may sound like hyperbole to some, our firm is actively working with numerous apartment owners across the country, and we hear firsthand some of the challenges and pressures property owners are facing. Even national media are picking up on this trend. For example, a  recent Wall Street Journal article cites that apartment owners and investors are leaving California and the Northeast for places like Florida, Texas and the other Southern states where warm weather, business-friendly governments and laws, lower taxes and fewer regulations seem like a breath of fresh air.

Reuters recently lamented that beset by COVID-19 and its fallout, many smaller local landlords are offloading their properties and selling to national institutional investors, and CNBC recently reported that at least 60% of single-family rental homeowners are owed back rent and are being forced to sell their rental properties to recoup losses. Finally, CBS announced that as a last-ditch effort to claw back tens of billions of dollars in unpaid rent, a national group of landlords is suing the federal government for back rent.

However, even before COVID-19 rolled across the nation’s multifamily rental real estate investment market, landlords were seeing new rent-control legislation start to encroach on their investment real estate portfolios, and squeeze owners’ profits. When COVID-19 arrived in the United States, cities across the country started expanding rent-control laws and eviction moratoriums at an alarming rate, directly exposing landlords to financial peril. Legally speaking, the term “rent control” can be defined as any statutory rule that regulates the timing or frequency of increasing tenants’ rent, the services landlords must provide tenants, and the limited ability of landlords to evict tenants.

Today, multiple cities, states and jurisdictions are under some form of strict rent-control regulation, including Washington, D.C., Maryland, New Jersey and New York. Most recently, Oregon and California have enacted statewide rent-control laws that have greatly reduced landlords’ ability to raise rates. Cities like Santa Ana and St. Paul have both passed bills limiting rent increases to 3% a year. Seattle even passed a bill requiring landlords to pay the moving costs for tenants who can’t afford to stay in their homes, and Los Angeles passed a law that protects tenants from eviction for unpaid rent.

Perhaps no other region in the nation is more challenging for landlords than California’s Bay Area. For example, Berkely has had one of the strictest rent-control environments in the country, capping not only rents, but also garbage and parking fees; Hayward caps rent increases at just 5%, and rent increases following voluntary move-outs cannot be more than 5%; Oakland’s Rent Adjustment Program (RAP) limits rental increases to 30% in a five-year tenancy.

Even more worrisome for landlords, cities like Portland and Oakland have recently created new restrictions limiting the ability of landlords to screen potential tenants, including:

  • Prohibiting the use of criminal background checks.
  • Limiting the use of financial background checks.
  • Requiring landlords to accept previously evicted tenants.
  • Limiting security deposits to 1.5 x month’s rent.

Adding to these growing restrictive rental laws, landlords today must also face the reality of complicated and costly eviction laws and the soaring costs associated with repairs and maintenance.

Finally, many owners are recognizing that perhaps their rental property may not make as much financial sense as it once did. Why?  Well, for several years now, property values in certain situations have risen faster than an owner’s ability to raise rents. The result is that the cash-on-cash return, or “equity yield,” gets compressed the higher property values rise. In some cases, this cash-on-cash return can be squeezed from a double-digit return to a low single-digit return. Add to this the uncertain factors, like inflation and unemployment, higher taxes, and a softening rental market, combined with city- and government-imposed rent-control and eviction moratoriums, and more landlords are coming to the conclusion that now might be potentially a good time to sell their investment real estate.

Enter the Delaware Statutory Trust and Passive Real Estate Investing

So why don’t rental owners simply take their equity positions and cash out? The simple answer because of the tax liabilities — including federal capital gains (15%-20%), state capital gains (0%-13.3% depending on the state), depreciation recapture tax (25%) and possibly the Medicare surtax (3.8%) — will now be due upon sale. These associated taxes could potentially take up to 40% of the asset’s sale price out of the seller’s proceeds.

In addition, while it is true that a 1031 exchange would allow them to defer their taxes, it is also true that they would most likely be limited to exchanging into another multifamily building or a single-tenant NNN building. What’s the problem with these assets? Nothing, except investing in another multifamily building doesn’t offer the owner much diversification, and because the proverbial “Three T’s” of tenants, toilets and trash will still be involved, there will always be headaches and management expenses involved. A single-tenant net-lease property relies heavily on the quality of that sole tenant, and if that tenant fails, the investor’s income is likely to be reduced or eliminated (during COVID-19 there were a number of NNN tenants who went bankrupt or sought rental relief from their landlords). Also, triple net lease properties can be hard to locate, and conducting proper due diligence can be difficult to accomplish within the time frame of 1031 exchange.

That’s why many landlords are utilizing Delaware Statutory Trust (DST) 1031 exchanges to exit the active management role of owning rental real estate.  Delaware Statutory Trusts are a form of fractional ownership that can be used to make passive investments in real estate and achieve monthly income potential via ACH direct deposit and diversification across multiple assets. Also, because DSTs are eligible for 1031 exchanges, investors can sell their investment property and reinvest the proceeds into one or more DST investments while deferring capital gains and other taxes.

Another reason DST investments are popular among real estate investors is because many types of diverse real estate assets can be owned in a DST, including industrial, multifamily, self-storage, medical and retail properties. Also, it is not uncommon to find properties within a DST investment that include institutional-quality assets like those owned by large investment firms, such as a 450-unit Class A multifamily apartment community or a 100,000-square-foot industrial distribution facility leased to a Fortune 500 logistics and shipping company.

In addition, Delaware Statutory Trust 1031 exchanges offer real estate investors the following specific potential benefits as well:

  • The ability to close their 1031 exchange within typically three to five days.
  • The opportunity to eliminate the hassles of tenants, toilets, and trash (i.e.. the Three T’s).
  • The potential to receive regular monthly distributions via ACH direct deposits/
  • The ability to access institutional-grade real estate assets.
  • The potential advantages associated with greater portfolio diversification by geography, tenants, and asset class.*

The Bottom Line

Investment properties have gone through significant changes over recent years, and in many cases, owners have been faced with challenges they have never seen before, including the COVID-19 pandemic, and ensuing eviction moratoriums. For qualified property owners who are motivated to sell soon and are facing capital gains, reinvesting the proceeds in qualifying properties, including DSTs, will allow them to not only defer capital gains taxes but also become part of a diversification* strategy with the potential for appreciation and monthly income.

*Diversification does not guarantee returns and does not protect against loss.

This material does not constitute an offer to sell nor a solicitation of an offer to buy any security. Such offers can be made only by the confidential Private Placement Memorandum (the “Memorandum”). Please read the entire Memorandum paying special attention to the risk section prior investing.  IRC Section 1031, IRC Section 1033 and IRC Section 721 are complex tax codes therefore you should consult your tax or legal professional for details regarding your situation.  There are material risks associated with investing in real estate securities, including illiquidity, vacancies, general market conditions and competition, lack of operating history, interest rate risks, general risks of owning/operating commercial and multifamily properties, financing risks, potential adverse tax consequences, general economic risks, development risks and long hold periods. There is a risk of loss of the entire investment principal. Past performance is not a guarantee of future results. Potential cash flow, potential returns and potential appreciation are not guaranteed.
Nothing contained on this website constitutes tax, legal, insurance or investment advice, nor does it constitute a solicitation or an offer to buy or sell any security or other financial instrument. Securities offered through FNEX Capital, member FINRA.

Founder and CEO, Kay Properties and Investments, LLC

Dwight Kay is the Founder and CEO of Kay Properties and Investments LLC. Kay Properties is a national 1031 exchange investment firm. The www.kpi1031.com platform provides access to the marketplace of 1031 exchange properties, custom 1031 exchange properties only available to Kay clients, independent advice on sponsor companies, full due diligence and vetting on each 1031 exchange offering (typically 20-40 offerings) and a 1031 secondary market. 

https://brokercheck.finra.org/firm/summary/124658

Source: kiplinger.com

Wear and Tear vs. Damages: What Can You Charge Your Tenant To Repair?

It’s surprising how different an apartment can look when a tenant moves in and when they move out.

The likelihood of damage is high, but what’s challenging is differentiating between normal wear and tear and actual damage. The difference matters since tenants are only financially responsible for one designation.

Understanding what’s considered wear and tear and what isn’t, ensures you only charge your tenants for the right repairs, avoid any conflict and continue to maintain the condition of your apartment(s) for the next renter.

Replacing carpet

Replacing carpet

Common areas that get worn out from use

Reasonable wear and tear happens in any home that’s lived in. It’s the type of damage that’s unavoidable since not all pieces of a home last forever.

The easiest place to point out wear and tear is the floor. Especially if there’s carpet in your rental apartment, it’s going to show wear over time. You’ll see it first in high-traffic areas, but eventually, the whole thing may need replacing. This happens no matter how careful a tenant is. You cannot charge them to replace the carpet in this instance.

Other issues that typically aren’t considered damages, but rather wear and tear, include:

  • Faded paint or wallpaper, especially on walls that get full sun
  • Loose grout between tiles or even small chips in the grout in the bathroom or kitchen
  • Scuff marks on walls or floors from furniture
  • Warped cabinets or interior doors from humidity
  • Scratched porcelain in the bathroom
  • Dirty windows, most likely because it’s too difficult to clean them from the outside

Even small holes, chips and smudges on the walls can fit into the wear and tear category unless you’ve indicated otherwise in your lease.

Specifying the areas of an apartment most likely to experience wear and tear in your lease helps clarify from the start what you expect to find in your move-out inspection. It also makes it clear that everything you don’t mention most likely fits into the damages category that a tenant is responsible to pay for.

Figuring out the bills

Figuring out the bills

Where the money for damages comes from

There are two sources of money when it comes to repairs — you and your tenant. Collecting a security deposit when your tenant signs their lease gives you a ready-made account to reimburse yourself for actual property damage. However, you have to keep receipts and invoices to present to the tenant should you spend any money from this account.

Most states give you between 14 and 30 days to return a tenant’s security deposit to them. Since each state’s laws are different, make sure you’ve clarified your timeline. You have until that deadline to assess the apartment for damages and price out repairs.

You must then send a letter to your previous tenant that explains why they’re not getting a full refund of their security deposit. Validate any deductions with copies of the receipts for the repair work or invoices for upcoming work.

Any money not spent on repairs must get refunded to the tenant.

Budgeting for wear and tear repair

The other source for repairs to your rental apartment is your pocket. To avoid any surprises when you do your exit inspection of a property, it’s best to keep in mind the general life of certain items within a home, as well the cost to replace them.

For example, the average life of carpet ranges from five to 15 years, based on things like the type of carpet, its cushioning and fibers and where it’s located in the home. Carpet in the bedroom may last longer than carpet in the entryway of an apartment.

The typical range for replacing carpeting is anywhere from $700-$2,600, depending on the size of the apartment and how much carpeting you want to have.

Knowing these two pieces of information means budgeting for new carpet in your rental properties every five years.

Other items in the home may have a longer lifespan, so budgeting to repair/replace them won’t happen as often. Grout has a lifespan of 25 years. Interior paint usually looks good for anywhere from five to 10 years. Other items in the home you’re responsible for repairing, like cabinets and doors, should have a much longer lifespan and only need replacing if you see an issue.

Budgeting to replace these items is helpful, but don’t forget about wear and tear repairs you may also have to make between tenants. This could include deep cleaning costs and replacing lightbulbs. You can group these into a general maintenance budget, though, one every landlord or property manager should have.

Puppy accident on the carpet

Puppy accident on the carpet

Damages beyond wear and tear

Understanding what counts as normal wear and tear in an apartment, and figuring out who pays for what, are important first steps to handling damages properly. The final step in the process is assessing actual damage. This is anything that goes beyond what regular usage from living in a home does to it.

Doing a thorough inspection of the property before new tenants move in is the best way to quickly catch any new damage that’s left when they move out. You should conduct another inspection at this point, too. At both inspections, document any issues with pictures and take notes.

Spills and stains

In theory, if your tenant spills something or something is leaking, they’ll clean it up fast enough to prevent a long-lasting stain. This isn’t always the case, which can leave floors and carpeting looking worse than normal wear and tear.

Should you notice a lot of stains in an apartment, get the carpet steam cleaned first (and pay for it from the security deposit.) If that doesn’t remove all the staining, you’ll have to charge your tenant for replacing the flooring, as well.

If you discover water stains that aren’t a result of leaky pipes, you can also charge your tenant for the cost of cleaning up the stain. This could mean putting on a fresh coat of paint or even replacing a portion of drywall. Any leak related to plumbing, though, is an issue that comes out of your pocketbook.

Broken appliances

Appliances are a tricky issue when it comes to assigning who covers the cost of repairs. This is because appliances wear out, too, and sometimes, when they’re simply not working, it’s because they’re old and need replacing. If that’s the case, it’s up to you to cover the cost.

If it’s apparent an appliance isn’t working because of negligence, you can bill the repair back to the tenant.

Other broken items a tenant is liable for include doors and windows.

Holes that are too big

The reason why it’s so important to specify in the lease what size holes, if any, you allow in your apartment walls, is when you get to repair them. Pin-sized holes or those made with tiny nails are most likely for you to pay to fill, but when a hole in the wall is too big to spackle over, you’ve got a case to use security deposit money.

Cracks and chips

Things in the apartment may chip or crack from normal wear and tear, but this type of damage is usually a sign of rough use. Look for this kind of damage in wood flooring, on countertops, on mirrors and on shower tiles.

You should also check for any burn marks, especially on carpeting, as this type of damage is very much a result of negligent tenant behavior.

Pet damage

Allowing pets into your rental units is entirely your decision. If you do, though, it can change a lot when it comes to repair costs as tenants move out. This is because all pet damage is above and beyond normal wear and tear. Everything from chewed-on doors to scratched floors are telltale signs of pet damage, which means more to repair and probably replace.

If any type of pets are in the picture it’s best to require a separate pet deposit. This provides you with a separate bucket of funds to use toward pet-inflicted damages in the apartment. It can even cover flea extermination if that becomes an issue.

Judge in the courtroom

Judge in the courtroom

Can a tenant challenge a repair?

Even if you send your tenant valid receipts for the repairs you paid for using the security deposit, they may still try to fight the charge. If they believe your decision amounts to the wrongful use of the security deposit, they could take their fight all the way to court.

The best way you can prepare yourself for something like this is with evidence. Keep all the paperwork attached to the repairs along with the photos you took originally during your exit walkthrough. Also, have on hand a copy of the original lease your tenant signed that spelled out what constituted wear and tear (to show this issue was outside that list).

Depending on your state and local laws, your tenant may believe they have a case. But, if you have all your evidence ready to go, and provided the appropriate notice to the tenant about why you withheld some, or all, of their security deposit, you should have a strong defense.

Get your apartment in list-ready condition

No matter who’s responsible for paying for repairs to a rental apartment, the end goal for you is the same. Getting that unit ready to rent as soon as possible is key to bringing in the revenue that helps pays for all that normal wear and tear repair (among other things).

Once you’ve made all the fixes and replaced all that needs replacing, it’s time to list your apartment. Include plenty of pictures showing off the pristine condition of your unit. Then, sit back and watch the prospective tenants call to ask for their tour.

Source: rent.com

83 New Apartment Essentials You Need For Your Place

Nothing says “all grown up” quite like getting the keys to your first apartment, but it takes a lot more than keys to creating a functional living space.

The process of stocking your first apartment is different for everyone because it all depends on what you already have going into the lease. If you’re a college student packing up your room from home, you may arrive with a matching bedroom set in tow, but nothing else to your credit. That’s why it’s important to consult a first apartment checklist, as well as an apartment moving guide, to make sure you have everything you really need!

Fortunately, it doesn’t have to cost a bundle. There’s usually a plethora of family and friends looking to upgrade their own swag, which is why a first apartment is often a hodgepodge of hand-me-down furniture and other items. So, before you go out and pay good money for stuff, ask around to see if loved ones have anything they’re getting rid of, like a coffee table, bed, bed frames, pots and pans and those other things you need for your first apartment. Or, hit up a yard sale for affordable furniture!

Regardless of what you come in with, there will be a lot of things you’ll need for your first apartment. Many of these essentials are things that most people take for granted, but you’ll want to make sure you have them on hand.

What are some essentials for a first apartment checklist?

Some of the items necessary for a first apartment are pretty obvious. After all, you won’t get very far without a bed, couch and basic kitchen items. Here, we’ve broken out items for your ultimate first apartment checklist by room to make move-in day as easy as possible.

bedroom

bedroom

Bedroom essentials

The room where you fall asleep at night definitely tops the list of new apartment essentials. It’s tough to catch some zzzs if you’re not comfortable in your apartment bedroom, after all. Be sure to have these items on hand for your first apartment bedroom before moving in, or very soon thereafter:

  • Bed frame
  • Mattress and box springs to fit your bed frame
  • Bedding (mattress pad, sheets, pillowcases, comforter/quilt/duvet)
  • Nightstand
  • Dresser
  • Small trash can
  • TV stand (optional)
  • Clothes hangers
  • Hanging closet organizer
  • Clothes hamper
  • Shoe rack
  • A small safe, in case you have anything that’s extremely valuable, like jewelry

Once you get settled in the new apartment and start to decorate the space it’s time to look into the extras, like window treatments, wall art, decorative pillows and shelving.

Also, consider packing a box labeled “Important bedroom items,” or something like that, so you’ll be able to have sheets and other necessities for the first night in the new apartment. It doesn’t have to hold absolute everything, you’ll be fine sleeping on some basic sheets with a cozy blanket and pillow for a night or two.

bathroom

bathroom

Bathroom essentials

No first apartment checklist is complete without an exhaustive list of bathroom necessities. If you’re lucky enough to have more than one bathroom, remember to pick up supplies for both.

  • Shower curtains (decorative shower curtain and shower curtain liner)
  • Shower curtain rings
  • Bath mat, toilet mat, toilet lid cover (if desired)
  • Non-slip bathtub mat
  • Bath towels and washcloths
  • Toilet paper. Lots of toilet paper!
  • Toilet brush
  • Cleaning supplies, like toilet bowl cleaner, shower cleaner and paper towels
  • Wall hooks to hang things like hand towels
  • Toothbrush holder
  • Bathroom soap dispenser and hand soap
  • Basic toiletries
  • Facial tissues
  • Plunger
  • Small trash can

Once everything’s acquired, all that’s left to do is enjoy a nice, hot shower in your very own “new to you” bathroom! It’s the little things that make an apartment feel like home.

kitchen

kitchen

Kitchen must-haves

Unless you’re 100 percent devoted to dining out or hitting the local coffee shop, the kitchen is an ultra-important room on the apartment checklist. Fortunately for your budget, most people are happy to donate hand-me-downs, like dishes and small appliances.

Make sure to have all of these absolutely essential items on hand before moving into your new apartment. Consider packing a box filled with things you’ll need immediately (paper plates, coffee maker, etc.), but be sure to label it, so that it doesn’t get mixed up with other, less urgent boxes!

  • Kitchen table and chairs
  • Paper towels
  • Food storage containers
  • Paper plates, plastic cups and plastic cutlery (to use until you unpack)
  • Coffee maker
  • Dish set, including plates and bowls
  • Drinking glasses and coffee mugs
  • Napkins
  • Dish towels and washcloths
  • Oven mitts
  • Dish soap (to hand wash)
  • Dishwashing detergent (for the machine)
  • Hand soap and dispenser
  • Trash bags
  • Trash cans (one for recycling, one for regular trash)

Here are some items that are less urgent, but still important to a fully-functioning kitchen.

  • Dish drying rack
  • Knife block, including chef’s knife
  • Microwave oven
  • Spice rack
  • Pots and pans (another great hand me down opportunity)
  • Wine glasses
  • Corkscrew
  • Blender
  • Cooking utensils, like mixing spoons, spatulas, etc.
  • Mixing bowls
  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • Can opener and bottle opener
  • Handheld or countertop mixer
  • Cookie sheets
  • Muffin tins
  • Cake tins
  • Placemats

The typical first apartment doesn’t have a ton of kitchen cabinets or counter space, so wait until you’re settled to buy optional, cumbersome items, like an air fryer, slow cooker, rice cooker, toaster oven, toaster and so on. Unless you’re a really big foodie, you can probably get by without these small appliances.

living room

living room

Living room essentials

Next on the first apartment checklist is the all-important living room. This is where most renters like to relax after a long day or host movie nights and other events for family and friends. Don’t forget to pick up these pieces before moving in:

  • A couch and other seating
  • Coffee table
  • Area rugs
  • TV cabinet
  • Television
  • Throw pillows
  • Extra lighting

laundry room

laundry room

Laundry room

The laundry room is small but mighty! If you’re fortunate enough to have an in-unit washer/dryer, don’t forget to pick up these items.

  • Washing machine and dryer (if not provided by the property)
  • Any necessary attachment hoses
  • Laundry detergent that works with your machine (for example, high-efficiency machines require HE detergent)
  • Dryer sheets
  • Stain removal spray
  • Bleach for tough stains, bright whites and to clean the machine every once in a while

Even if your unit doesn’t have a laundry room, you’ll still need many of these items to use at the property’s facility.

whole apartment

whole apartment

Other first apartment essentials

Some essential items will service the entire apartment, so they’re definite must-haves on the first apartment checklist.

  • Toolbox containing basic tools and supplies, like a flat head screwdriver, hammer, nails and duct tape
  • Extension cords
  • Power strips
  • First-aid kit filled with band-aids, antiseptic and other basic supplies
  • A step stool to reach things on high shelves, change light bulbs and so on
  • Vacuum
  • Broom and dustpan
  • Mop
  • Cleaning supplies, like window cleaner, carpet cleaner, furniture polish, odor eliminator, multi-purpose cleaner, etc.
  • Small garbage can for every room
  • Light bulbs

Don’t forget to check the apartment for the proper safety equipment, too. Most apartments have smoke detectors and carbon dioxide detectors, but if yours doesn’t contact the property owner immediately to get some installed. This shouldn’t have an extra cost, as the law requires property managers to outfit rental properties with these protective devices.

Speaking of safety, it’s also a good idea to buy at least one fire extinguisher to keep in your home. Store it in the kitchen, under the sink.

The importance of apartment essentials

This first apartment checklist probably seems overwhelming, especially during the crazy busy moving experience. Take it one room at a time and don’t fret too much if you forget anything. Chances are there’s a big-box home supply store just around the corner that’ll have anything you forgot

Source: rent.com

LendingTree Review

LendingTree is the nation’s leading online loan marketplace. It provides borrowers with a one-stop shop where they can search for lenders on one online platform. It gives the borrower the ability to find the best loans available and allow you to shop among the various loan offers available.

More than this, LendingTree creates an environment in which multiple lenders compete for your business. This gives you an outstanding chance of identifying the best loan offers available. The platform offers all kinds of consumer loans and offers business loans.

LendingTree isn’t a direct lender, but a lender aggregator who brings many lenders together on one web platform. It is perhaps the largest anywhere on the internet.

The platform has facilitated more than 55 million loan requests, since being introduced in 1998. LendingTree, Inc. is a publicly traded company (NASDAQ: TREE) based in Charlotte, North Carolina, and operates across the United States.

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LendingTree’s Available Loan Types

If it has anything to do with consumer finance, it’s available on LendingTree. Loan types included are as follows:

Home Financing

This is a core lending area for LendingTree. In fact, LendingTree is a licensed mortgage broker. Loans available include first mortgages for both purchase and refinance. There are also home equity loans and reverse mortgages.

Both conventional and FHA/VA mortgages are available, as well as construction financing.

First mortgages are available for single-family homes, multifamily homes, townhomes and condominiums, and manufactured or mobile homes. They can be primary residences, second homes, or rental properties.

If you’re searching for a home, LendingTree can even set you up with a local real estate agent in your market.

Get started with LendingTree Home Financing>>

Credit Cards

Everyone’s experienced being thoroughly exhausted sifting through all the details of individual credit card offers, but LendingTree can seriously simplify the process.

Based on your financial and credit information, LendingTree will present offers from various credit card issuers specific to your profile. You’ll have an opportunity to see the various offers side by side so you can pick the right one for you. The process also avoids the need to make separate applications to multiple credit card issuers. This can save you time, effort and money.

For each credit card offered, they provide interest rates and fees, bonuses and rewards, card features and benefits, annual fee, and the credit needed to obtain the card. What’s more, you can even select the criteria for the card offers you are interested in viewing. You can see offers from credit card issuers based on rate, rewards programs, and even the credit rating required.

Student Loans

Shopping for student loans can be as time-consuming and tedious as the search for credit cards. There are a large number of programs, each with its own details. LendingTree streamlines the process by bringing the lenders to you in one place. You can select from the best loan offers presented.

They have student loan programs available for both new loans and refinancing existing debt.

See Current Student Loan Rates

Auto Loans

In addition to loans for cars, trucks and vans, LendingTree also has financing available for motorcycles and recreational vehicles. There are even loans for boats.

The application process works similar for mortgages. You complete a series of input screens which help determine the specific financing you need. Once that’s done, competing loan offers will be presented.

In addition to asking for general information and financial and credit data, LendingTree will ask you a series of questions about the type of vehicle you are purchasing. For example, you’ll be asked if it’s a refinance or purchase, the approximate amount of the loan, and the down payment you plan to make.

Get Current Auto Loan Rates

Debt consolidation

LendingTree has a surprisingly extensive debt consolidation section. It includes not just available loans, but also a wide variety of resources to help you in managing the consolidation process. This is more important than it seems, since there is no single debt consolidation loan. Consolidation loans can come from different loan types.

They start by explaining debt consolidation and how it works.

They also explain the type of debt you can consolidate. This can be an important part of the debt consolidation decision, since a borrower may not be entirely certain which debts can be included.

Most people think of credit card debt for debt consolidation, but LendingTree offers a long list of other debts which can be included:

  • Student loans
  • Unsecured personal loans, including payday loans
  • Medical bills
  • Utility bills, including cell phone bills
  • Money owed to collection agencies
  • Taxes
  • Court judgments

They also go into the different types of loans which can be used for debt consolidation. In the process, they discuss the pros and cons of each type of financing. These can include balance transfers, a cash out refinance on your home, home equity loans and home equity lines of credit (HELOCs), and student loan consolidations.

They also discuss the pros and cons of debt consolidation versus debt management, versus debt settlement. LendingTree is an excellent resource for debt consolidation, even if you never actually take a loan.

They also provide an easy to use Debt Consolidation Calculator. It can help you see how the process can benefit you.

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Business Loans

LendingTree is a particularly valuable lending source for small businesses. That’s because this sector ordinarily has difficulty finding willing lenders. Banks are more than willing to lend to large businesses but avoid small ones. LendingTree balances this out by bringing many small business lenders onto one web platform. As a small business owner, you can choose the lender and the loan program which will work best for you.

It isn’t just one type of loan either. LendingTree provides a wide variety of loans for small businesses. Loan types include:

  • Small business loans
  • SBA loans
  • Short-term business loans
  • Long-term business loans
  • Business lines of credit (LOCs)
  • Working capital loans
  • Equipment financing
  • Accounts receivable financing
  • Business credit cards

See Current Business Loan Rates

Other LendingTree Services

One thing you notice about LendingTree very quickly is it’s a comprehensive credit site. If it has anything to do with credit, you’ll find it on the platform. But LendingTree goes beyond credit with some of the services they provide – like auto insurance.

Here are some of the additional services LendingTree offers…

Your Free Credit Score

You can sign up to get your free credit score through LendingTree, and they won’t even ask you to keep a credit card on file. It’s a true free offering. You’ll have to complete a simple application, but checking your score will not impact your credit.

The score provided is the VantageScore 3.0 from TransUnion, which is one of the three major credit bureaus. It’s not your actual FICO score used by lenders, but an educational score which parallels FICO.

In addition to the free credit score, LendingTree provides information to help you understand your credit report and the credit scoring process. They explain how credit scores are calculated, why you need to check it periodically, and ways to improve your score.

Credit Repair

LendingTree’s Credit Repair page provides you with a short list of credit repair providers who can help you to improve your credit, or workout settlements with lenders. They even include the fees charged by those services.

They then go on to explain the basics of credit repair, and what your options are if you’re having credit troubles. The information could be a good bit deeper if it could instruct you on the specifics of how to dispute errors on your credit report. But it’s still a good starting point. And if you have enough credit issues, you may need the services of one of the credit repair specialists they offer.

Auto Insurance

This is a category isn’t directly related to credit. But since auto insurance is required by law in virtually every state (except New Hampshire), and since it’s necessary in order to get car financing, it’s a welcome topic on the LendingTree web platform.

The Auto Insurance page gives you an opportunity to shop among auto insurers who do business in your state. Much as is the case with shopping for a loan, you’ll have a chance to compare plans side-by-side, making your choice easier.

The page also provides some basic information on car insurance and even how to get the best rate.

Mortgage Calculators

It’s not surprising LendingTree offers perhaps the most comprehensive collection of mortgage calculators on the web. They are, after all, a licensed mortgage broker. They provide calculators for virtually any type of mortgage scenario you can imagine, including:

  • Home Affordability Calculator
  • Mortgage Payment Calculator
  • Refinance Breakeven Calculator
  • Debt Consolidation Calculator
  • Reverse Mortgage Calculator
  • Mortgage Negotiator Calculator
  • FHA and VA Loan Calculators
  • Rent vs. Buy Calculator

Even if you don’t get a mortgage through LendingTree, these calculators can provide a wealth of insight to help guide you in the home financing process. Like everything else available on the platform, there is no cost to you for using the calculators.

Ratings and Reviews

As an indication of just how comprehensive LendingTree is, they also provide a Lender Ratings & Reviews service. They are specific ratings and review of lenders in each loan category and they’re done by actual borrowers. Those are the best kinds of reviews, since they represent direct experience with a specific lender.

You can use Ratings & Reviews to help guide you in choosing your lender. Ratings and reviews cover lenders for mortgages, personal loans, business loans, student loans and auto loans.

How to Use the LendingTree Website

Using the LendingTree platform is a pretty straightforward process. You must complete a series of screens which will determine your location, your general credit score range, your occupation and income, investments and liquid assets available, the type of loan you need, and the loan amount. In order to get loan information, you must also provide your email address, and create a password.

When completing the initial application, it’s important to be as accurate as possible. For example, you’ll be asked to provide your credit score range and a lender will verify this by pulling your credit report. If your actual credit score varies a good bit from the one you supplied, the offers you receive through LendingTree may no longer be valid. The same is true with employment, income, and, if you are applying for a mortgage, and the value of the property you are purchasing or refinancing.

LendingTree Fees. There are no fees to use the service as a borrower as LendingTree earns their revenue from lenders who pay a fee to the platform for participating. LendingTree is also a Marketing Lead Generator service. This means your information may be provided to participating lenders for solicitation purposes.

LendingTree Pros and Cons

LendingTree Pros

  • There is no cost to participate in the platform.
  • LendingTree provides you with a large number of potential lenders in one location.
  • Since several lenders will likely respond to your loan request, lenders are effectively competing with one another for your business.
  • You can request consideration by multiple lenders by completing a single application, which you do when you initially sign up for the service. There’s no need to complete individual applications for each lender.
  • The site is comprehensive, not only providing lender options for virtually every type of financing, but also educational resources to help you better manage your credit.
  • They provide a wide selection of free services including a large number of mortgage calculators, credit and credit score information, debt relief resources, and more.

LendingTree Cons

  • You must provide an extensive amount of personal information to get access to the loan offerings.
  • The fine print describes LendingTree as a “Marketing Lead Generator”. This indicates your information will be sold to third parties. Expect a steady stream of loan solicitations after signing up for the site.
  • Not all lenders participate in the platform and you might have to make separate application if the lender of your choice is not listed on the site.
  • Loan offers are not automatic approvals so you must still meet the specific loan qualification requirements of each lender.

Should You Get Financing through LendingTree?

Whatever type of financing you’re interested in getting – mortgages, auto loans, business loans, student loans or credit cards – LendingTree is worth a close look. Apart from the many free services it offers to help you in the loan decision and with your credit situation, the platform represents perhaps the largest number of lenders on one platform. Lenders will compete for your business and give you the opportunity to make an informed decision about the best loan offer for you.

Probably the biggest negative with LendingTree is you should expect to be solicited by various lenders, even after you make your loan choice. LendingTree doesn’t hide the fact they are a marketing lead generator, and this means your contact information will be available to participating lenders on the platform.

But, if you’re in the market for a loan of any kind, check out the LendingTree website and see what it can do for you.

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