Jason Cohen Pittsburgh - Hand Tips for First Time Landlords

Handy Tips for First-Time Landlords

Jason Cohen has been an active investor within the Pittsburgh real estate community for nearly a decade. While he began his industry efforts by purchasing and renovating cheap residential buildings in high-potential neighborhoods, he has since expanded his investments to large-scale commercial and residential properties in vibrant neighborhoods. Here, Jason Cohen provides a few tips to new landlords.  


You’ve finally done it. You’ve purchased the building, touched up the paint, laid the carpet, and put your first investment property up for rent. But as the inquiries come in, you realize that the easy part is over – now, you have to deal effectively with your tenants. Jason Cohen Pittsburgh is an advising group operating in the city; as such, its veteran members have heard their fair share of first-time rental horror stories. It’s common for a first-time investor to be so caught up in the buy and the renovation process that they find themselves at a loss when they need to communicate professionally with the people living in their units. Unfortunately for landlords, the work doesn’t end when the contractors leave. Below, Jason Cohen, head of Jason Cohen Pittsburgh lists a few tips for aspiring landlords to take note of before opening their doors to tenants.


Be Assertive

Everyone has an off month now and again. Sometimes, a tenant can’t make a payment on the day it comes due – and in some cases, that’s okay. Landlords should be empathetic and understanding if a tenant faces tragedy or finds himself in a temporary financial crunch, so long as the tenant communicates the situation. If, however, the tenant chooses to go dark and refuse to pay the agreed-upon rental sum, landlords need to act assertively. You need the rent they owe you to keep up the building and make a profit. Being overly understanding to an elusive or underpaying tenant will only result in your missing needed funds. Be assertive! Don’t be afraid of pursuing a delinquent tenant for the money they owe you.


Check Credit and References

Never rent to someone who doesn’t have a job or has a credit score of under 600. Those without the means to pay rent or a history of regular repayment will inevitably leave you waiting for payments that may never come. Screen your potential tenants closely to ensure that they will be responsible, reliable occupants who will care for your unit and pay on time.


Make Smart Renovations

Don’t install marble countertops if your unit is in a low-income neighborhood. In all likelihood, those that inquire about your unit will be looking to pay a rent in line with those offered in nearby homes; if you try to cover a fancy renovation by asking a significantly higher rent, your prospective tenants will walk. Be smart, and don’t risk renovations that offer little return!


Be Organized

Organization is key to any successful business venture. After all, how will you know you made a profit if you have no documentation of the fact? Ensure your success by keeping organized and detailed records!


For more tips, advice, and real estate content, please visit Jason’s site at JasonCohenPittsburgh.org.


The Animal Rescue League Wildlife Center and Jason Cohen Pittsburgh

Animal Rescue League Shelter & Wildlife Center Image: animalrescue.org

Animal Rescue League Shelter & Wildlife Center
Image: animalrescue.org


Jason Cohen, a member of the real estate consulting group Jason Cohen Pittsburgh, has successfully invested in a range of properties in the greater Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, area and beyond. Outside of the professional arena, he and his company support multiple community outreach organizations and charitable nonprofits, including the Animal Rescue League.

From its Pittsburgh headquarters, the Animal Rescue League has protected animal welfare and public health for more than a century. In addition to providing shelter and veterinary services for companion animals such as dogs and cats, the League supports a fully licensed wildlife rehabilitation clinic.

The Animal Rescue League Wildlife Center is located on Verona Road in Verona, Pennsylvania, where it cares for and medically treats a wide range of sick, injured, and/or orphaned native Pennsylvania wildlife. When animals are well enough to return to the wild, the Center does so in a responsible and humane manner.

The Wildlife Center currently admits close to 4,000 animals on an annual basis. Its staff members draw upon more than 23 years of combined rehabilitation experience and maintain a successful release rate that is nearly twice the national average.

Animal Rescue League – Wildlife Camp

Animal Rescue League Shelter & Wildlife Center Image: animalrescue.org

Animal Rescue League Shelter & Wildlife Center
Image: animalrescue.org


With the success of Jason Cohen Pittsburgh, Jason Cohen is able to devote time and resources to some of his favorite charities. One of the charities that is especially close to the heart of Mr. Cohen is the Animal Rescue League.

The Animal Rescue League Shelter & Wildlife Center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, provides a number of services to teach the local community about caring for animals, including educational programs such as the Wildlife Camp. Offered in both the summer and winter, the day camps teach children about native Pennsylvania animals and their habits as well as their local habitats. This has and continues to be a great passion of Mr. Cohen of Jason Cohen Pittsburgh.

The Wildlife Camp, sponsored by the Animal Rescue League, is for children in grades K through 6. The winter camp focuses on how local Pennsylvania wildlife survive in the cold and how to look for signs of animal life in the area. The summer camp teaches children how to make nature themed crafts and about animals by having the children act out their behaviors.

Mortgage for the self-employed by Jason Cohen Pittsburgh

Mortgage For the Self-Employed

Mortgage for the self-employed by Jason Cohen PittsburghIf you’re self-employed, you need to meet totally different requirements than a salaried person if you want to qualify for a mortgage.  The rules about how this all works were recently updated to take an even closer look at your business income, so here’s why it’s so important to review them.  I recently came across an article with the main points from them, listed below:

Two of the most important things lenders review to qualify you for a mortgage are income and assets, which determine how much monthly payment you can afford and where your down payment is coming from.  Self-employed borrowers report income as sole proprietors or owners of entities like corporations, partnerships or LLCs.  You’ll file your own self-employed income on IRS Schedule C, which tracks your income and expenses for a given year.  Unlike with salaried employees that get to use their gross income for loan qualifying, sole proprietor borrowers need to qualify using their net income from Schedule C.  Lenders calculate a 2-year average of net income for sole proprietors, and if the most recent Schedule C has lower net income than the year before, then lenders will calculate a 12-month average of the most recent year to use worst-case income.

If you’re self-employed and conduct business through a corporation, partnership or LLC, then the IRS will require these entities to file separate sets of tax returns.  If you own at least 25 percent, then you’ll be required to provide lenders with full business tax returns, in addition to your personal returns.  Self-employed borrowers will sometimes need a lot of money in their business in regards to assets, and may want to use those funds for a down payment.  Some lenders will let you do this, but often require that your tax preparer verify that use of business funds for a home purchase won’t have any material impact on it.

In February of this year, Fannie Mae updated self-employment income calculation guidelines for borrowers who own partnerships and S corporations, which impose stricter analysis on income and debt trends to determine if the company in question has sufficient assets to support the withdrawal of earnings to pay its owners.  If this describes your business, then your income will show up on a form called “Schedule K-1”, a part of the entity’s tax filing that gets carried over to your personal tax return as income.  

The new rules for self-employed borrowers now impose conditions on whether you can use either of these forms of income.  For example, if distributions are greater than ordinary business income, then ordinary business income may be used to qualify.  However, if distributions are less than ordinary business income or don’t exist, then there are plenty of guidelines to determining how you qualify.  The best way to determine whether you qualify for a loan is to find a local lender who will be able to analyze your tax returns for you.