Florida’s Funkiest Law Could Save You Thousands!

7. Florida_s Funkiest Law Could Save You Thousands!Walt Disney World saves millions in tax savings because it has cattle grazing on its grassy acreage. And did you know that SeaWorld and Universal theme parks in Orlando are now in the pine tree growing business? What? Thanks to one of Florida’s most outdated laws affectionately called Florida’s Rent-a-cow law, this 1959 law is allowing developers to take advantage of rules initially created to help farmers not be seduced by the price their land could bring if they sold during the ‘building boom.’ But Florida’s Greenbelt tax break is no longer just for farms. In fact, developers are the largest recipients of these breaks, encouraged to “buy large tracts for cheap knowing they can pay rock-bottom property tax indefinitely through token efforts at farming or ranching.”

If you try to save money like this, I have to warn you… if you rent or purchase cows, they’re staying for a looong time. And not just for supper! As they say, with tax breaks comes smelly yards. If you decide to sell the land or change its purpose, it’s your responsibility as the owner to notify the tax assessors of the change, or else you may pay penalties for your property with back assessment. One nice thing is that once you achieve Greenbelt status, your home or property will be grandfathered in the following year. However as another warning, your property will be assessed at least once every 5 years after the initial inspection.

For those of you who don’t feel like becoming Farmer Bob overnight, here are 3 realistic ways your property tax can be lowered.

  • Request Your Property Tax Card – And Study It!

Properties are appraised annually, and you only have a limited time to appeal an increase in your real estate taxes. Few owners realize they can go in person or, depending on the district, online, to request a copy of the assessment of your property. These typically include the size of your lot and information regarding the number of spaces constructed within your building. So if you realize a mistake has been made and it costs you money, let them know or you may miss your deadline, costing you thousands.

  • Extension

Each year you can request to have payments lowered or payment plan extended to make property tax more affordable – on YOUR timeline. I know here in Florida we have ‘seasons’ where the shopping is like the weather – heavenly. But then during off-season, people shop less or simply leave the sate. That messes with revenue which hurts if you’re stuck with a hefty tax assessment. HOWEVER listen up: if you choose to extend, you’re not getting the extra breathing room for free. It’s a loan sometimes with high rates. My suggestion to everyone is to pay your taxes as early as you can. In most states, this saves your 4% off the total due. In fact, we once had a very busy property owner who, unbeknownst to them, missed that discount every year for 5 years and lost out on over $50,000 in savings!

  • Homestead

By claiming homestead on your primary residence, your Property Appraiser will reduce property tax for all homeowners by sheltering a certain amount of a home’s value from tax. For example, this may mean that a $2 million home is now assessed at 10% less its assessment, or $200,000. A less valuable home – whether it was assessed low because of homestead or because it does not have curb appeal – will mean you pay less in taxes. OH, and the presence of a home doesn’t mean you can’t have adjacent land being classified for agricultural purposes (shout out to the ‘rent a cow program’ from earlier).

Whether you’re a first time home owner or a veteran developer, saving the most money on your property tax means more money in your pocket, for longer. If changing into Farmer Bob overnight has your name written all over it, then carefully proceed. But if you’re more like me, then the best advice is to always pay your property tax in November for the highest discount!

 

The Key to Excellence (Take the Shot!)

Success isn’t a destination, it’s a journey – And most of the time, it’s long and it’s painful. Because even when we think we know everything, we don’t. It takes change for us to get even a little bit better. But don’t just take it from me… take it from basketball legend Michael Jordan:

“I have missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I have lost almost 300 games. On 26 occasions I have been entrusted to take the game winning shot, and I missed. I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

Most of the time, change sucks. It’s scary looking down the barrel of the “change gun”, knowing it might be explosively expensive, whether you spend time or money. After all, practice doesn’t make us perfect – but it does make us BETTER.

But listen up: change and failure and an exploding gun don’t have to scare you. Take it from Walt Disney:

“It’s important to have a good hard failure when you’re young… Because it makes you aware of what can happen to you. Because of it I’ve never had any fear in my whole life when we’ve been near collapse and all of that. I’ve never been afraid.”

When he was growing up, Disney was told he “lacked imagination”. Oh, if his teachers could see what he created! I’m a little biased because we have Disney World three hours away. We also have the Edison Estates. You know Edison, the guy who was “too stupid to learn” and then made 1000 patents and the light bulb. Dr. Seuss who had 27 publishers reject his first book. Each one of them took the failure and negative responses and instead of giving up, changed. They worked harder and they worked smarter.

All that to say, when it comes to employing a property management company, things have to change. Don’t be scared, it’s necessary. Maybe you’ve dealt with vendors and tenants and the hassle of collecting rent up to now. You’ve dealt with eviction and compliance and communication. And I understand, so far it’s been okay. Don’t be afraid to invest in your investment.

Because instead of okay, you deserve to be stretched out by the side of a pool as your investment earns you passive income.

(High) 5 Reasons to Start Blogging NOW!

Throughout my life, I’ve had lots of hobbies: comic books, bouncy balls, Pogs, video games, sports, poetry, and way more than I care to mention. All of them had a piece of my life, and each affected me. But my newest hobby, and the one that is making me a lot more money than selling my Pokémon cards ever did, is blogging.

Yes, I was part of Xanga and LiveJournal back in the day, though I was never big into Myspace. Facebook continues, and Instagram, Snapchat, etcetera. They all allow the author to create and share. That’s great for personal entries, but since I’ve started this WordPress for my company, and I’m learning how important it can be as a business tool as well.

Nowadays, business cards are a dime a dozen (and too many of us have dozens of them piled up we’ve not looked at in months). Blogs are the new business card, your calling card helping you:

  1. Add Value – the main reason property managers exist is customer service, so you won’t find entries here that sell to you or that typically even talk about our company. Every now and then, I’ll reference a recent transaction to prove a point, but we recognize that in the 21st century you’re CONSTANTLY being sold to. People are tired of being sold to and can tell your real motives. When you explain the good versus great, readers will naturally be attracted to your company, assuming since you’re talking about it, you’re the expert and are doing it right.
  2. Attract New Clients – The biggest reason you should start a blog is SEO (Search Engine Optimization). This is fancy language explaining how search engines categorize your website. By linking your blog to your company’s website, the unique and engaging content you’re creating on your blog with naturally raise the quality of your website, so it will show up higher in relative search results.
  3. Establish Expertise – By creating a blog, you’ll stand out as knowledgeable and that will translate to profit. The good news here is that within your niche, you probably are the expert. One of the best ways to show this is a demonstration video. Luckily these days, almost everyone has a smart phone, so you should be able to record and edit right from your phone. HUGE to remember: familiarize yourself with the camera (angles, lighting, sound quality, and if you’re using it, a script). Whatever you’re demonstrating, it shouldn’t be the first time you’ve ever done it – but should instead be extremely routine for you – the only difference being that you may talk out loud as you perform the action slowly so that your audience can catch every detail.
  4. Organize Your Thoughts and Learn – When you teach others, you learn too. Combing through all the knowledge you have and deciding what is the best to put forward teaches you too.
  5. Tell your story – people don’t want hard facts and statistics anymore. If they’re on your blog, keep it creative. Have a voice, have a tone. Thing is, the most attractive blogs out there are sassy and state truths. This works well with your SEO, as the more unique your content, the higher Google scores your website’s quality.

Your blog can prove you’ve put the time in to earn your stripes. It will be a public journal where, as long as you do it right, customers will be reaching out to start business with YOU!

3 Ways to Manipulate People

No matter what you’re trying to have someone do or stop doing, the most effective method is EMOTION. For example, if you are concerned about the safety of the parking lot at your shopping center… let’s call it Crossroads Mall… Good, you should be. Remember, customers like shopping places that look good, feel good. Danger doesn’t feel good and it’s not welcoming. Crossroads is the coolest mall in town, but right outside there have been several cars broken into during the last month, so people won’t come. Step one for you: LIGHTS. Install LED bulbs that are bright and point to the ground. These illuminate the parking lot and will naturally deter lots of crime. Step two: SIGNS. Word these in a way that give information about cleanliness (“NO DUMPING – Violators will be prosecuted”) and help customers feel safe (“SMILE – You’re on camera!”).

After emotion, people look to FACTS. Still assuming we’re talking about Crossroads Mall, you might use statistics and studies in a press release showing your mall outpacing all others in your region. With over 400k square feet of air-conditioned retail space including 5 upscale restaurants, countless services, and new state of the art IMAX theatre, Crossroads Mall is the social hub of Somewhere, Florida. Facts are facts, no matter who speaks them.

Finally, we come to CREDIBILITY. Another word for this is respect. The classic example for this is “Trust me, I’m a doctor.” This may be used after a request is made, like “Go on a diet.” But so far, you and your mall haven’t asked very much of the customers. I said it earlier, people like to shop places that look good and feel good. But the bad guys probably won’t listen to you if your sign just says pretty please. Put some FEAR into them. Use your sign to state how your mall is monitored by 24-hour ADT Security and the local police department. They’ll think twice when you warn them not to park somewhere or dump their trash while mentioning violators being towed or fined.

So just remember, if you’re trying to change someone’s behavior, use the elements that affect them the most, and use them well. Emotion, facts, and respect – but the greatest of these is emotion!

Not All Property Managers Are Created Equal

For every great property manager, there’s a handful of just… good ones. In a world where catchy advertising often beats out competent performance, it can be difficult to know where to turn. So, how do you identify the real deal from the fakes?  How can you make the best, most informed decision for your investment? Let me count the ways:

  1. Good property managers focus on keeping the landlords happy. Great property managers strive to keep both the ownership and the tenants happy, connecting them through consistent communication.
  2. Good property managers work to compare vendors and find the lowest possible prices for operating expenses. Great property managers add value, like noticing and correcting safety issues in a parking lot, or suggesting the usage of LED lights instead of fluorescent.
  3. Good property managers react quickly to on-site headaches by hiring a third party vendor to fix the problem. Great property managers are local and are invested enough in your property to personally visit and monitor repairs in times of crisis.
  4. Good property managers answer their phones and respond to emergencies during business hours. Great property managers are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week – no exceptions.
  5. Good property managers have compiled different tricks of the trade that they apply to every property. Great property managers listen to the specific wants and needs of every owner and offer a customized approach to property management.

When it comes to your real estate investments, don’t roll the dice – make an informed decision that ensures your property is cared for and managed in the best way possible. Don’t settle for good when you deserve great!