Five Tips for First-Time Landlords

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If you tell your friends you’re considering investing in real estate rental properties, you’re likely going to hear a wide assortment of reasons why you shouldn’t do it. Most of these reasons will follow the typical horror story—tenants can make life challenging. They might trash your home, or pay rent late or not at all, they might drive you up the wall with calls at all hours of the night.

While these can be the occasional truth, they’re not the majority. The fact of the matter is, if you do your due diligence, you can end up with a very successful investment and a long-term, qualified tenant. For those new to being a landlord, here are five tips that will help you to avoid the stereotypical nightmares and put you on the path to a smooth riding investment.

Educate Yourself!
When it comes to being a landlord, you need to go into it with a good solid foundation of knowledge. Understand the industry and the market surrounding you, learn the laws, and figure out what type of tenant will work best for you. Research communication styles and know what red flags to look for in a tenant. It may sound like a lot of work, but a little research before diving in will help keep you from drowning in the long-run.

Get Organized!
If you’ve never organized a filing system before, you’re going to want to start now. Developing an organization system before a tenant is even in place will help you to avoid any missed payments, overlooked notices, or forgotten maintenance. Putting systems in place when you purchase your first property will help you to ease into managing two properties, six properties, and so on.

Don’t Skimp On Rent!
When it comes to rent collection, don’t overlook a missed payment. One missed payment can turn into six missed payments very quickly, and before you know it, you’re behind on your own bills and having to undergo an expensive and time-consuming eviction process. If you’re not going to be utilizing a property management company to collect your payments, ensure you put an electronic system in place to allow tenants to make their payments easily.

Don’t Be a One-Man Shop!
While it may be tempting to do it all yourself, understanding when you should outsource a project is vital. In addition to showing the tenant that their repairs are credible by using a licensed and insured professional, outsourcing maintenance and repairs can give you the balance you need in your private life as well.

Never Rent to Family or Friends!
If you purchased your rental property to incur a monthly cash flow, renting to family or friends could put a damper in this concept. It’s seldom a good idea. Just as they say you shouldn’t loan money or go into business with family or friends, you should probably never rent a property to someone you want to continue a relationship with.

While being a landlord can have its downs, it’s not as scary as the stereotypes make it out to be. Sure, you may come across a bad tenant here or there, but if you’re careful and approach everything with a little bit of caution and a lot of research, you’re going to be just fine in this industry.

This blog was written by CrestCore’s good friend Mike Jordan in Detroit, Michigan.

Michael Jordan is the Founder and President of Strategy Properties, which is a diversified private investment company specializing in purchasing and renovating single family homes in Detroit and suburban Michigan. He has continually improved Strategy’s acquisition and construction process, making Strategy a leader in producing some of the highest quality homes and servicing clients with quality turnkey rental homes, as well as competitively priced homes.

CrestCore Realty’s Douglas Skipworth pre-conference interview

Often times, when we speak with property management clients on their ideal client, they are investors who own multiple rental properties. It’s an attractive customer type to keep in your portfolio as investors usually:

  • Are more hands-off
  • Have more money to spend
  • And detach themselves emotionally from their property.

For today’s interview, we have the pleasure in bringing in Douglas Skipworth, CPA, CFA, and Broker/Owner of CrestCore Realty in Memphis. Douglas owns hundreds of rentals and CrestCore manages thousands more. He’ll be speaking at the Property Management Grow Summit in January of 2017, where he’ll talk extensively on how to attract more real estate investor clients to your property management business.

But right now, Douglas will share with us three key strategies, so property managers can start thinking about what they need to do to attract investors.

First Strategy: Education

Providing education is the first step in attracting investor clients. When you provide education, investors will see you as the go-to for any rental property news and will trust your word over the advice of others.

This includes general content creation through:

  • Social media
  • Blog posts
  • Articles
  • Videos
  • Or live demonstrations.

CrestCore takes advantage of every opportunity to be a thought leader and put information out there by hosting basic investor classes. The classes are free and investors can learn some general high-level introductory topics on investing, and it works well for the novice or the expert.

Attract Real Estate Investors

CrestCore embraced the idea of a “mastermind group” that enables them to share ideas and push education and it has helped them in attracting real estate investor clients.

Second Strategy: Consultation

According to Douglas, you can impress from afar, but you influence from up close and that is what we get with our second strategy, consultation. This is where you roll up your sleeves and work with individual investors on their needs.

Your strategy here will depend on the investor’s specific properties, what they’re looking for, and whether they are a new buyer or they already own one or more properties. Most of the time, investors need reassurance and guidance in addition to property management. Be prepared to work with a real estate investor and counsel them how to finance a rental properly for maximum return – so it does help if you have a bit of a financial background.

Another thing you can provide as a property manager is leveraging your contacts, and introducing your investors to reputable lawyers, vendors, and bank contacts. CrestCore appeals property taxes and does anything they can to make properties cash flow for the investor on an individual basis.

Third Strategy: Validation

The last strategy is to provide validation. If you are a property manager and you are looking to genuinely improve yourself in your trade, you need to invest in property yourself. This will allow you to be able to walk in the investor’s shoes. You need to have the empathy, camaraderie, and the knowledge of what investors are going through. You can talk about your experiences dealing with bad tenants in your own properties, or what you’ve had to do as a landlord when a water heater went out or a tree fell on your roof.

The validation of being investors yourselves attracts more and more investors to your management company. They know you’re an expert. Most of the property managers CrestCore comes across are not investors. So this is something that will set you apart.

As Douglas says, “We are better property managers because we’re investors, and we are better investors because we’re property managers.”

To attract more investor clients to your property management business, you need education, consultation, and validation. This is just a preview of what Douglas will be sharing with us at the Property Management Grow Summit, where he will give you the complete roadmap on being the company of choice for investor leads in your community.

PM Grow Summit

3 Telltale Signs to Fire Your Memphis Property Management Company

When your property management company in Memphis is not delivering communication, transparency and consistent rental payments, it might be time to fire them. These are the three telltale signs that indicate it might be time for you to move on and work with someone who can do better.

Communication is Required

Communication is the most important part of property management. As owners and investors, our clients don’t always live in the same city as their rental property, so communication is critical. Many times, owners have told me that they haven’t heard from their property management company in two weeks, two months or even longer. That’s unacceptable. If you feel like you can’t get any answers, and your emails, calls and text messages are ignored, that’s a good reason to leave your current company. Your property manager should be able to respond to your questions or needs within 24 hours. We make sure we get responses to our owners on the same business day, and then we follow up every day until the problem is resolved.

Transparency in Costs and Activities

A good property management company is transparent with your fees. You should know exactly what you are paying on maintenance. Some companies mark up those maintenance costs, and if that’s happening, you want to know how much the mark up is. Sometimes you’ll see work orders after work orders and you don’t know if you’re actually getting what you pay for. So ask your property manager for before and after pictures of everything they do. You should be able to see the problem, see the solution, understand the price and then see the documentation. If the company isn’t willing to do that, find another property manager.

Are You Getting Your Money?

3 Signs to Fire Your Current Memphis PMI’m always surprised at how often I hear from owners who haven’t been paid in two months, or they’re not receiving rent consistently. You don’t want to silently hold out hope that you’ll get your money. If half a year goes by and you have no rental income to show for your investment, you’re going to be in financial danger. There’s no excuse for not getting paid every month consistently. If that’s happening, it’s absolutely time to make a move.

When any of these things begin happening to you, it’s time to move on and hire another property management company. Please contact us at CrestCore Realty if you have any questions or need any help.

CrestCore Reveals New Office Artwork!


CrestCore reveals new artwork in the main Conference room!

crestcore logo sign- cropped

Sandy Branson, Liz Parr, and Ben Trombly pictured working hard on installation of new decor. 

When CrestCore was first developed, there was a strong desire to create a relevant logo that had strong imaging as well as a strong meaning and message that coincided with the company’s mission and principles. They reached out to designer Charles Vance with Redrover for help and gave him a description of what they were looking for to represent CrestCore. Below is brief description of how CrestCore’s logo came to be:

“The concept was to present CrestCore as a realty company – that also thrives on the management of residential property. The “crest” of the house was used, as that was the only direct connection to the name. While one central home visually represents the client’s first (investment) home or most prized home, there are additional homes surrounding it to indicate a “portfolio” of investment homes. CrestCore’s business model feels more like an investment firm – hence the need to create something that visually represented – wealth accumulation (much like a portfolio of stocks/bonds).

The logo is layered (stacked) to allude to progress. The crest of each house becomes an abstract arrowhead… pointing upward… again, progress, growth and wealth accumulation. 

The colors were chosen to produce contrast. The gray is a grounding color while the orange is used as the “impact” color. The impact color speaks, again, to progress and energy.



You have to make time for what matters most – Investor Education

“Law of Forced Efficiency = there is never enough time to do everything, but there is always enough time to do the most important thing.” Brian Tracy, Eat That Frog

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Mark my words, if you practice this rule your life will change.

My observation is that every successful person makes their top priority their top priority. I have also found that most people do not prioritize their top priority.

I love this quote because it reminds me to make sure that I am intentionally focusing on the most important things in my life instead of just going with the flow every day.

Another buzz word for this concept is time blocking.

Time blocking means deliberately setting aside time to focus on your most important activity.

Besides Brian Tracy’s book Eat That Frog, another great resource to explore the law of forced efficiency is The ONE Thing by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan (click here for a summary). It is an encouraging book that will help you figure out your top priority and then give you the knowledge and tools to actually make it your top priority in your daily living.

If you’re not practicing the law of forced efficiency, you need to read Eat That Frog and The ONE Thing.

If you are timing blocking in your daily life, what are your tricks?

Originally posted on Bigger Pockets by Douglas Skipworth, Saturday, March 26th—you-have-to-make-time-for-what-matters-most

You bring about what you think about – Investor Education

“Tell me with whom you consort and I will tell you who you are; if I know how you spend your time, then I know what might become of you.” – Goethe

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Have you ever heard that you are the average of the five people you hang out with the most?

I did not believe it at first until I started observing my life. Now I see it everywhere I look. If you have never thought about it, make a list of your closest connections and see where you stack up compared to them financially, spiritually, physically, emotionally, etc. My guess is that you’re the average of the five of them.

Then look around and observe your friends, family, and colleagues. You will quickly notice that they are a combination of the people they hang out with and the ideas they listen to.

I love Goethe’s quote because it reminds us that we are influenced by our peers, circumstances, and thoughts.

You bring about what you think about.

Continue reading “You bring about what you think about – Investor Education”

Debt is a tool not a toy, there’s a big difference – Investor Education

Only borrow against income producing assets. -Mr. J

One of my mentors gave me this concept years ago. I believe it is one of the best nuggets of wisdom I have ever received. In fact, I have made it a mantra in my life. I would encourage you to do the same.

Here are the three rules I have established from his advice.

1. By and large, I do not borrow money unless an income producing asset is the primary source of repayment.

2. On the off chance I borrow against a depreciating or non-income producing asset (such as a car or personal residence), I only borrow a fraction of the conservative market value of the asset (i.e., < 50%).

3. I do not borrow to pay for non-assets.

Continue reading “Debt is a tool not a toy, there’s a big difference – Investor Education”

Patience is a virtue that can lead to great rewards – Investor Education

“He that can have patience can have what he will.” Benjamin Franklin

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This quote reminds me of several other quotes.

“There is no limit to what a man can do or where he can go if he doesn’t mind who gets the credit.” – Ronald Reagan

“You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help other people get what they want.” – Zig Ziglar

It also reminds me of the Old Testament story of Jacob working seven years to marry Rachel.

To me, these are all examples of focusing on a goal rather than the time or effort it takes to accomplish it.

Continue reading “Patience is a virtue that can lead to great rewards – Investor Education”

Courage is about focusing on the finish line not on the fear – Investor Education

“Courage is not the absence of fear, but the realization that there is something more important than your fears.”

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There’s always a reason not to do something. But, at some point, your desire to act has to outweigh your fear.

Whether it is pursuing a relationship or investing in real estate, you have to want something so badly that you are willing to take a calculated risk.

There are countless methods and tricks to help overcome fear, but at the end of the day the goal has to be so compelling that nothing else matters, even your fears.

Continue reading “Courage is about focusing on the finish line not on the fear – Investor Education”

Business is easy. Just ask Sam Zell. – Investor Education

“Business is easy. If you’ve got a low downside and a big upside, you go do it. If you’ve got a big downside and a small upside, you run away. The only time you have any work to do is when you have a big downside and a big upside.” Sam Zell

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Sam Zell is arguably the best commercial real estate investor in the past 50 years. Known as the Grave Dancer for his unparalleled success transforming formerly bad real estate deals 40 years ago, Zell is credited with founding the modern institutional real estate market.

Continue reading “Business is easy. Just ask Sam Zell. – Investor Education”

​Action without study is fatal. Study without action is futile. – Investor Education

Action without study is fatal. Study without action is futile.

Quote Action Without Study Fatal Study Without Action Is Futile Mary Ritter Beard 74 68 65

This quote reminds me that “learning without doing” is pointless.

Of course, “doing without learning” can be disastrous, but most high school educated people (and definitely all BiggerPockets members) do not struggle with learning. Our upbringing teaches us that we need to read the instructions before we play the game or that we need to learn to walk before we can run.

They harder part for most people, especially aspiring real estate entrepreneurs, is putting our knowledge into action.

Continue reading “​Action without study is fatal. Study without action is futile. – Investor Education”

Read this first if you want to win big tomorrow – Investor Education

Just like you, I have always wanted to better myself. I’ve always wanted to reach my full potential and achieve all my dreams.

My desire to improve has taken many forms over the years from reading books and taking classes to finding mentors and listening to recorded messages (e.g., audio cassettes, CDs, podcasts, etc.).

One of the most consistent self-improvement tasks I have undertaking is to collect quotes and useful passages that encourage me to find my calling and maximize my talents.


Continue reading “Read this first if you want to win big tomorrow – Investor Education”

Why CrestCore Property Management in Memphis, TN?

CrestCore Realty is licensed in Mississippi, Arkansas and Tennessee, and we currently manage properties in all three states. Today we are talking about why you should choose us for your property management needs. These are some of the reasons you should work with us (besides the fact that we are awesome): Continue reading “Why CrestCore Property Management in Memphis, TN?”

3 Tenets of Real Estate Investing in Memphis – Rental Management Education

Investors who want to be successful need to understand the three tenets of real estate investing. These are deals, financing and management.


The first thing you need to do as an investor is find the good deals. If you’re wondering how to find them, there are a number of different ways. You can start online and use the MLS as well as sites like and Check out listings that are for sale by owner. You can find wholesalers who are willing to bring you deals and you can also work with banks to explore their foreclosure properties. Check the newspaper and see what kind of auctions are available, and consider working with a real estate agent. When you work with an agent who is experienced with investors, you can tell them exactly what you’re looking for, and they’ll bring deals to you.


Financing looks different depending on what you’re buying and how you’re paying for it. As an investor myself, this has always been a bit of a struggle and a constant hurdle to get over. You really have two options when you’re buying investment property. You can either pay cash for the property or finance it and use the property as collateral. Many investors go through banks and do a typical mortgage. There are also hard money lenders that will get you the money to finance properties at a higher interest rate. The bonus is that you won’t have to worry about a mortgage like you would with a bank. Owner financing is another great option. The owner will have the note and finance it for you while you make payments.


Once you have found the deal and you got a good price and have procured financing, it’s time to make plans for management so you can cash flow the property. Decide if you’re going to take care of the management yourself or hire a professional management company. Either way, you’re paying for it. If you do it yourself, you’re paying with your time. If you hire a management company, you’re paying with money. There are four things that you need to pay attention to when you’re thinking about property management; leasing the property, collecting rent, accounting for income and expenses, and handling maintenance. These are the things you need to get done, whether you’re doing it on your own or with the help of a professional.

3 Tenets of Real Estate Investing in Memphis Rental Management EducationWe have a class once a month for investors at CrestCore University, where we talk more in depth about these three tenets of real estate investing. If you’re interested in that class or the services we provide, please contact us at CrestCore Realty.

How to Avoid the 3 Deadly Sins Real Estate Investors Make in Memphis, TN – Property Management Education

We have been investing in Memphis for a long time and we have also been managing rental properties for other investors in Memphis for many years. We’ve seen a lot of success stories but we’ve also seen a lot of mistakes and horror stories. We have distilled all that down to what we call the three deadly sins of real estate investing. This is what you want to avoid.

Over-paying for the Property

In this day and age, you can use resources online to make sure you’re not paying more than what the property is worth or what it should sell for in liquidation to another investor. Whatever you want to do with the property, make sure you aren’t paying more for it than you should be.

Over-leveraging the Property

When we talk about over-leveraging, we mean over-borrowing, or borrowing too much. We have seen investors buy a property for a price that’s right, but then they borrow more than the property is worth. It leads to disaster. Leverage is a great tool for real estate investing, but it’s like a fire. It has to remain contained and controlled so it doesn’t burn the house down. Don’t borrow more than the house can support.

How to Avoid the 3 Deadly Sins Real Estate Investors Make in Memphis, TN – Property Management EducationMismanaging the Property

Whether you decide to manage the home yourself or you want to use a professional property manager, make sure it’s managed well. Property management is not a hobby, it’s a business. Make sure your property management partner can be sure that business is being taken care of. Someone needs to mind the store and watch the shop.

Avoid these mistakes at all costs. If you have any questions or you need help avoiding these mistakes, we are happy to help. Contact us at CrestCore Realty.

The 3 Most Common Ways to Value Memphis, TN Rental Properties

Our topic today is how investors place a value on their properties. We’re going to discuss three valuation approaches that we can use to value investment property.

Cost Approach

Using the cost approach, you will take the value of the land and the value of the improvements that are made, whether it’s a rental house or a commercial building. What you’re considering when it comes to value is whatever type of improvement you’re making. This approach is primarily used for insurance purposes and new construction purposes. It has limited use unless you’re doing new construction or you’re in insurance. The best approaches to take are income and sales comp. Those are the ways most Memphis investors will establish a value for their property.

Income Approach

The income approach takes the economics of the rental property and boils it down to the essence of what that investment is worth in dollars. It’s a way to make all things equal and compare it to other investments. So, from an income approach you’re going to look at the rent and the expenses. The first thing the investor will do is to look for rental property comps. What are the rent rates for the subject property and the comparable properties based on physical characteristics, distance to the subject property, time, etc. You want good rental comps, and when you add that to the expense assumption, you will create a model that allows you to value the rental property with this income approach. You can compare stocks, bonds, rental houses and any other type of investment. This approach is also used in commercial real estate because it’s a way to take rent and minus the expenses.

Sales Comp Approach

The sales comp approach is what you think of when you think of a traditional appraisal. When you’re buying a home and the appraiser comes out to value the property, that appraiser will use this approach. They’ll find homes in the neighborhood and The 3 Most Common Ways to Value Memphis, TN Rental Propertiescome up with a value, whether it’s based on price per square foot or the physical characteristics of the property. Once the appraiser determines how it compares to other properties, you can establish how much the property is worth. You’ll use this approach when you’re determining how the market values the property. It tells you what a willing buyer or seller would pay for the property.

That’s a lot to absorb. We do an in-depth hour long presentation on this topic, which we would also be happy to share with you. If you are interested in that, or you have any questions, please contact us at CrestCore Realty and Property Management.

6 Options to Finance a Rental Property in Memphis, TN

Today I am sharing the six most common ways to finance real estate or rental property purchases in Memphis. We have a detailed PowerPoint presentation on this topic that we do during a class, and this is a summary of what we cover.

Traditional Mortgage

A traditional mortgage is usually a Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac mortgage. It’s similar to a home mortgage that you would get when buying your own home, but in this case you are using it for a rental property. This is pretty conventional financing.

Commercial Bank Loan

Most people aren’t as familiar with commercial bank loans. A community or regional bank will give you a business loan and they are essentially lending against your real estate as a business rather than a home. This isn’t a traditional mortgage with the usual 30 year fixed rate. The terms will probably be five to 20 years and the loan will come due sooner. It’s not fully amortizing over 30 years. The loan will balloon and you’ll have a final payment at three years or five years or 10 years. You can refinance it so the payment isn’t actually due, but the bank will reset the rate and reevaluate the situation. It’s a great tool that serves many investors well.

Hard money Loan

A hard money loan might come with a higher interest rate and the terms are a little more onerous. However, it’s all about the rental property. It won’t be as stringent as a traditional mortgage, and it’s a good way to buy a rental property.

Private Money Loan

The hard money and private money loans are very similar but they are nuanced. Private money loans are obtained when you know someone like a family member or a friend who can lend you money. They are lending to you as a person and not through a financial institution. It’s a personal loan and you’re getting a good rate from someone you know and trust. Not everyone knows people with deep pockets, but it’s a great tool if you can get it.

Portfolio Loan

This is a new product that has become available since the market crashed and then began to rebuild. Brokers and investors discovered an underserved market – loans on rental houses. If you have three or five or 20 houses, and there is a total of $250,000 or $500,000 worth of mortgages you want on those properties, you’ll get a portfolio loan that covers all of them. These loans are not on individual houses but on the entire portfolio of properties. It’s a great option if you have multiple properties to finance.

Seller or Owner Financing

6 Options to Finance a Rental Property in Memphis, TNThis is when the seller of the property takes back a note from the buyer. It’s like borrowing something from someone and paying them back in the future. Instead of borrowing money from the bank, you’re essentially borrowing the money from the seller. You’re then paying that seller back over time. This is an awesome tool if you can use it because it’s usually an easy way to obtain credit. There aren’t as many hoops to jump through as there are with other lenders.

These are the six most common ways to finance rental property. If you can get one of these loans or you want to explore them more in depth, please contact us at CrestCore Realty, and we can tell you more about them.

Summary of Jay Papasan’s The ONE Thing by Douglas Skipworth of CrestCore

Above is a 3-minute video summary of the presentation our friend Jay Papasan gave in Memphis about his best-selling book The ONE Thing.

The heart of the book is about accomplishing many things by focusing on the simple few…better yet, the only ONE!

What’s the one thing you can do right now such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?

That is the focusing question Papasan says we should all ask of ourselves.

He uses the following domino illustration to show that the secret to achieving big goals in life is lining up smaller goals today that can easily knock over larger ones in the future (one 2″ domino can knock over a 3″ domino which can knock over a 4.5″ domino which can knock over a 6.75″ domino and so on until the 57th domino reaches the moon!).










This YouTube video is the concept in action (!

Use the focusing question above to help line up your dominoes!

Please contact us today ( if you would like to talk more about The ONE Thing and how it applies to real estate investing.