Only you can determine what you can fix yourself and what you’ll need to hire out. You may find yourself willing to try some repairs you’ve never done before in order to save money. You know your skill level. With some good guidance, you’ll be surprised at what you can do.
Some generally easy things you should be able to do yourself are painting, light drywall repair, replacing light fixtures, etc. You should also try to do as much demo as you can. If you’re inexperienced, don’t rip out walls, but you should pull up whatever carpet, vinyl, or tile you’re going to replace.
I think this website is by far the best resource for REI information - period.
Your material choice should be determined by the type of rental as well as how much money you can afford to put into it. Don’t over-improve for what it is. If you’re putting $2 or higher per sq ft. flooring in a low income rental, you’re over-doing it. There’s plenty of carpet and even some laminate out there for $1/sqft. Hardwood is way too expensive for rentals. You can replace countertops for $50-100 or so depending on the size. You can get new formica ones that look decent for that. If you’re going for $1500/mo rent and you’re in a nice area, step it up a bit.
I CAN’T STAND wall paper and will rip it out every chance I get. I’d rather paint than paper walls.
We don’t have any people on direct deposit for rent (other than section 8 tenants paid by the govt). Some of our tenants pay by check - some by money order. You could offer direct deposit as an option, but the companies that do that charge fees.
Federal Fair Housing Laws state you cannot discriminate against anyone based on age, race, religion, national origin, handicap, sex, or familial status. You can deny applicants based on other things outside of these criteria. You can set your own reasonable monthly income criteria, criminal history, etc. for screening purposes. If you state you’re not going to accept applicants with felonies, that’s fine. Just apply that criteria evenly with everyone no matter what age, sex, race, etc. they are.
You don’t have to incorporate. Some people do; some don’t. If you incorporate, you won’t be getting FHA loans. There’s tons written in the legal forum about the pros/cons of LLCs.
Carry good LL insurance with a generous amount of liability coverage. Get $1 million if you can. It’s generally not much more expensive to bump up to a million from $300-500K.
As far as timeline, I’ll usually get everything else done and then save flooring for last. I don’t want to scratch up or stain my new flooring. It just depends on what needs done as to what my order is. Sometimes I base it on what I feel like working on that day.
You can find example leases in some LL books. I’ve taken some clauses out of some of them to add to our lease. You can PM me with your email address & I could send an example to you. There may be some things that are required to be in a lease in your state. You would have to check into that.
For my first rehab, I made a big shopping list and just went to Menard’s and priced everything. I’ve got a good idea about some repairs. Other things I just call around and get estimates on. Some surprises will pop up though. You may not know about some of the problems because the utilities might be off.