HOW DO I START INVESTING IN
The buy and hold and rent strategy has made millionaires of many, many people. It’s a strategy that works. Here’s how to do it.
You have to first get a solid feel for how much you'll be able to charge in rent for the type of property you're thinking of buying. So you first want to research rental listings in your area. Use the newspapers and drive through the neighborhoods in which you are interested. Call owners of property for rent ask questions about the property. Talk with a competent Realtor to find out what the rental market is like. Don't even think of buying until you're confident you understand how much renters are paying.
Then it's time to start looking at properties for sale. When you do, you'll need to come up with a realistic, conservative (i.e. on the low side) estimate of what you think you could charge in rent for the property you're considering. (If you can't, go back and look at more rental properties.)
Use a competent Realtor to help you in your home search. He/She should be able to provide you with information on home prices in the neighborhood. Your goal is to buy the property at a discount to improve your cash flow on the property.
Once you've found a property and made your rent estimate, you then need to work out your monthly costs: mortgage, upkeep, taxes, insurance, etc. If you can't cover these costs with your estimated rent, you’ll have a negative cash flow. Ideally, you want to make sure you have "positive cash flow" (i.e., rent minus expenses equals more than $0).
If you calculate zero or below, you might still make money if the property appreciates in value, but with the recent run-up in prices, you certainly can't count on that happening. History has shown that property values and rents both go up. Many people use an average estimate of 5% per year.
You'll also want to talk to a tax advisor to find out what impact this rental income has on your return. If set up properly, rental property should have a positive impact. But you'll want to know all of the tax angles before you buy. You may have to pay a fee to a tax expert for this. But it could save you thousands of dollars in the long run. (Consider it a tuition payment in real estate school.)
Make sure to ask as many questions as you want at every stage. No question is too basic. To get a loan, you'll have to show enough income and assets to meet the lender's minimum requirements. But it's not their job to decide whether you can really afford it or whether the property will make money for you over the long term.
If you've gotten this far, take a deep breath and re-check everything again. Don't buy until you're satisfied you understand every detail.
If you are like most people your own home is probably one of the best investments you have ever made. My advice is buy one more! Just get started. Most people never start and let opportunity pass them by.
Welcome to Manatee County
The jewel of southwest Florida’s gulf coast, Manatee County lies along the Gulf of Mexico between Sarasota and Tampa. Here, residents enjoy an incomparable quality of life defined by 150 miles of shoreline along the Gulf, Sarasota and Tampa Bays, and the Manatee River. Shore birds and shell seekers share white sand beaches that stretch for miles along the island-fringed coast. Residents and visitors alike flock to Gulf and bay shores for swimming, boating, fishing and just plain taking it easy. Named for the West Indian Manatee, the county treasures this large, easygoing aquatic mammal. In the warmest months, manatees can be seen in area waters grazing through pastures of sea grass. They are constantly threatened by humans using the same waterways and are in danger of extinction. As a result, they are protected under the Endangered Species Act.
Picturesque villages and resort communities dot the barrier islands and bay shores. Inland are bright cityscapes, modern family oriented developments, luxurious country club communities, and thousands of acres of peaceful countryside. The eastern part of the county, with its rural atmosphere, is an area of recent development and a center for fruit and vegetable production and colorful crops of flowers and cattle. Area history takes you deep into the past, to the arrival of Hernando DeSoto in Tampa Bay in 1539. In May of that year, he led an army of 600 conquistadors ashore at the mouth of the Manatee River in search of gold and other riches. DeSoto never found the gold he sought, and ignored the riches of land and water all around him. It was another three centuries before anyone discovered the treasure that DeSoto overlooked. But finally in 1842, Josiah Gates came upon the haven of the gentle Manatee, and when he and others laid out their settlement, they gave it the name of the creature the Spaniards had called the sea cow.
When the railroad came shortly after the turn of the last century, and bridges and highways made access easy, the once rural area became a mecca for retirees and vacationers. The first winter residents came in 1924, and by the 1930’s, major league baseball players were regular springtime residents. Some, like St. Louis Cardinals’ pitcher Dizzie Dean, stayed through the winter. In 1969, the Pittsburgh Pirates began spring training in Bradenton, and today, they train at a newly renovated McKechnie Field.
Today, it is not surprising that so many people have chosen Manatee County. Their choice attests to the vitality of the area that continues to draw people from all walks of life, whether young families, corporate executives, or retirees.
Interstate 75, the major north-south route through the county, brought a boom in residential development to surrounding areas. The unincorporated community of Parrish in northeastern Manatee County is also developing rapidly.
In the past two decades, the county’s population has more than doubled, attracting national attention when Money Magazine ranked our area as the 21st Best Place To Live in America in 1997 and PC World ranked us as the 2nd Best Mid-Size City To Work From Home.
Residents of Manatee County enjoy convenient access to interstate and state highways, including I-275, I-75, US 301, US 41, State Road 64 and State Road 70. This access makes it easy for travelers to commute to and visit nearby cities and towns
Fort Myers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .87 miles
Sarasota . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .15 miles
Tampa . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 51 miles
Orlando . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .119 miles
as well as other southern population centers, including:
Miami . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 221 miles
Jacksonville . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 235 miles
Atlanta . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 496 miles
Manatee County also offers its residents and visitors convenient use of a public transportation bus system, which operates six days a week
Fares start at $1, enabling riders to travel as far south as Sarasota’s John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art and as far north as Palmetto. Senior citizens (age 60+) and physically challenged individuals are entitled to discounted fares. To learn more about Manatee County Area Transit (MCAT) and its schedules, visit its information booth located just outside the county courthouse (115 Manatee Avenue West, Bradenton) or call 749-7116. Daily service to a variety of other destinations within Florida and the United States is also available via Greyhound Bus Line.
The Sarasota/Bradenton International Airport is located just 10 miles south of the city of Bradenton, offering air travelers their choice of seven major carriers and four commuter airlines. In addition to a wide range of customer and general aviation services, this global thoroughfare is also a U.S. Customs port of entry. Each year, in excess of 2 million people travel through its gates, helping to inject more than $800 million into the local economy.
Tampa Bay’s southern shore is home to one of Florida’s major seaports. Located in Palmetto, Port Manatee not only harbors facilities for shipboard cargo transportation, but – because of its close proximity to major highways and airports – also serves as a docking facility for the state’s thriving cruise industry.
About Registering Your Motor Vehicle
The Manatee County Tax Collector’s Office requires newcomers to register their vehicles within 10 days of employment or enrolling children in school. In order to register a vehicle, drivers must present a current driver’s license, proof of automobile insurance (from a Florida-licensed agent), title to the vehicle and a previous registration certificate. Newcomers can register vehicles, obtain license tags and purchase disabled parking permits at any of the following offices:
Bradenton/DeSoto Office: 819 U.S. 301 Blvd.
Downtown: 415 10th St. W.
Holmes Beach: 3340 E. Bay Dr.
Palmetto: 1341 U.S. 301
Sunshine State Tag Office: 6807 S.R. 70 E.
Vehicle identification numbers are verified when application is made for a license plate. Fees are based on vehicle weight. The state also requires its newcomers to obtain a Florida Title Certificate; if there is a lien against a vehicle, a transfer of title is also necessary. To learn more about this process or to make an appointment, call 741-4811 (24-hours-a-day). You can also access the Manatee County Tax Collector’s Office via the Internet at www.taxcollector.com
about Obtaining a Driver’s License
The state requires newcomers who drive to apply for a Florida driver’s license within 30 days of becoming a resident. In order to obtain a license, be prepared to show proof of Florida registration of your vehicle, an out-of-state driver’s license and Social Security card. Drivers who currently possess a valid out-of-state driver’s license and have a driving record free of violations are only required to pass a vision test. However, drivers who have offenses against their license or drivers attempting to acquire a license for the first time must also pass a written exam (based on the Florida Driver’s Handbook) as well as a driving test. For additional information, call the Division of Drivers’ Licenses at 741-3017.
about Local Government
Manatee County operates under a constitutional form of government adopted in 1921. A seven-member commission based out of the Manatee County Government Administration Center in Bradenton meets weekly to address issues and concerns relative to county residents. In addition, the county also has an appointed administrator and its citizens, who take their voting rights very seriously, regularly elect a tax collector, property appraiser, supervisor of elections, sheriff and clerk of the circuit court.
about Proving You’re a Resident
Proof of residence may be required before some employers will hire newcomers. In order to establish residency in Florida, a Declaration of Domicile must be filed; this document certifies that the applicant lives at a specified address. To file this declaration, visit the Clerk of Court’s Office; the document can also be notarized at this location.
about Registering To Vote
Newcomers interested in obtaining a voter’s registration card can do so by visiting the Supervisor of Elections Office (305 15th St. W., Bradenton; 741-3823) or any Department of Motor Vehicles office. To qualify, potential voters must be U.S. citizens of at least 18 years of age. Keep in mind that registration books close 29 days prior to elections.
Manatee County requires its anglers and hunters to obtain the appropriate licensure. In addition to most sporting goods outlets and bait shops, these licenses can be obtained at any Manatee County Tax Collector’s office as well as area Wal-Mart and Kmart stores. Children under the age of 16 do not require licensure. Seniors over the age of 65 possessing a valid Florida driver’s license or Florida voter’s registration card are also not required to obtain sporting licenses. The fee structure for hunting and fishing licenses varies according to residency and use. License can also be purchased online at www.manateechamber.com:
about Local & State Taxes
Many newcomers are drawn to Manatee County because of its favorable tax structure, which features no personal income taxes or inheritance taxes. In lieu of this form of taxation, the government relies primarily on sales (the sales tax in Manatee County is seven percent; medical items and groceries are exempt from taxation) and property taxes for its main sources of income (homeowners in Florida who use their home as their residence and meet certain other requirements may be eligible for a $25,000 homestead exemption).
Bonds, stocks, accounts receivable and certain other personal property are subject to a small annual tax
This tax is based on the value of these assets beginning on January 1 of each year and only applies to values in excess of $20,000 for individuals or $40,000 for husbands and wives filing jointly. Currently, the rate is 1 mill, which equates to $1 per $1,000. Other assets, including accounts receivable, annuities and mortgages held outside the state, are levied at a rate of 2 mills per $1,000. Additional information about this taxation is available from the Florida Department of Revenue at 800/352-3672 and on its website, located at http://sun6.dms.state.fl.us/dor
With the exception of real estate, personal property belonging to a business is subject to a tangible tax
To comply with this requirement, businesses must file a return prior to April 1 of each year; failure to file this return results in a 10 percent penalty. Tangible personal property and ad valorem (real estate) tax bills are mailed in mid-November of each year. For additional information about these taxes, contact the Manatee County Property Appraiser’s office at 748-8208 or visit its website at www.manateepao.com.