5 Updates Landlords Shouldn’t Make

Marble countertops, shiny tiled floors, and a brand-new patio: while they might be pretty, upgrades like these won’t help your bottom line. If you plan to invest and maintain a profitable rental property, you’ll need to strike a balance between updating the space and minding your budget.  By creating an appealing setting, you can make more of a profit by increasing the rent – however, if you stray from updates to full-scale renovation, you might end up dealing with a property that costs more than it earns. Here are a few renovations that investors shouldn’t make on a rental property.

  1. Adding a Swimming Pool

A pool may seem like an ideal addition to the backyard, but it won’t necessarily increase the value of the home. The feature can also take away space in the backyard for pets or children to play in on the property and make it seem unattractive to families who lack the time or resources to maintain it.

  1. Room Addition

According to loans.usnews.com, room additions don’t always pay off due to the high cost of the construction. Projects with a lower price tag – such as appliance updates and repainting – tend to have a better ROI for landlords.

  1. DIY Projects

From painting the walls to installing new sinks, DIY projects are cost-effective at a price; while they may seem cheap at the outset, they often look they were performed by someone who had a lack of experience and ultimately turn away would-be tenants. It’s necessary to leave the work to professionals to ensure that your money is an investment that pays off and attracts more tenants in the coming years.

  1. High-Maintenance Landscapes

According to Time Magazine, creating a beautiful garden benefits the aesthetics of a home – but it doesn’t justify increasing the rent that you charge. It can also require a significant amount of money for landscaping services to upkeep the property or the tenants may not want to spend their weekends pulling weeds and watering different areas of the yard. Stick to landscaping that is easy to maintain to ensure that you don’t waste your money if you’re renting out the house.

  1. Upgrading Everything

Many landlords make the mistake of upgrading everything and assuming that the home needs to have all new features or materials to attract good tenants. Overspending on upgrades can make the house appear too chic and regal for the local area, making it necessary to keep the upgrades to a minimum. Stick to adding new fixtures on the cabinets or new hardwood floors in the living room to make upgrades that are minimal, yet aesthetically effective.


*Originally posted on JasonCohenPittsburgh.net


Top 7 Blogs for Real Estate Professionals

The Internet offers professionals in real estate a near-arsenal of online resources…if you know where to look. Scouring the web to pinpoint the most helpful resources is as tedious as it is unnecessary, thanks to Placester’s curated list of essential blogs for agents and brokers. Here’s what they’ve deemed the most beneficial blogs and forums for realtors and consultants alike.



With his interesting insights and acute awareness of important subjects in the real estate market, Jonathan Miller provides a riveting account of the country’s financial status. He dissects national housing and fiscal reports and provides clear explanations on how the figures he lays out can impact current and future sales and mortgages. By wading into recent budgetary developments, Miller offers his insights as guideposts through the ever-changing financial landscaping.



Offering both commercial and residential agent standpoints, BiggerPockets covers a broad scope of real estate topics. From campaign ideas to marketing trends, BiggerPockets is a treasure trove of useful tidbits for professionals in real estate.


Speaking of Real Estate

Run by the National Association of Realtors™, Speaking of Real Estate offers a plethora of videos, real estate news, and pertinent market information. Their balanced blend of audiovisual and written content gives their blog an added appeal.


Eye on Housing

Rich with analyses, statistics, and data, Eye on Housing intends to keep agents and brokers up-to-date to ongoing trends, making this blog an indispensable asset. Complete with visual aids and data-laden illustrations, Eye on Housing is a rich resource for all real estate professionals.



Tracy Weir strays from conventional blog norms with her tech-savvy insights and understandings. She believes that technological advances can aid real estate professionals in their business dealings – and intends to use her blog to prove her point. Every post underlines the message that understanding, utilizing, and leveraging technology can help agents get a leg up on their competitors. As Weir delves into the boundless world of real estate technology, she hopes to empower realtors to find success.



Geared to the needs of fast-moving professionals, the straightforward and thought-provoking pieces found on 1000watt area enough to pique the interest of any quick-thinking real estate operative. With timely industry advice, personal stories, and news coverage, 1000watt invites listeners to broaden their horizons and tackle rewarding challenges.



Equipped with civilian-friendly guides, Movoto does what other blogs don’t by veering away from mainstream data. Best schools,  neighborhoods, attractions, and safest areas are a few of the many topics covered within this forum.

Originally posted on JasonCohenPittsburgh.net

How to Find a Great Real Estate Agent

Jason Cohen is the founder and president of Jason Cohen Pittsburgh, an informal real estate group which provides constructive advice to professionals considering property investments. Given his near-constant interpersonal work with other professionals in the field, Jason is well-equipped to offer guidance on the process of finding a competent real estate agent. Here, Cohen offers his thoughts.


What separates a great real estate agent from an ineffective one? In a social-media landscape where every realtor’s promotions are glossy and attractive, it can be hard for regular buyers and

sellers to discern whether the agents they research are actually the capable, honest professionals they appear to be online. However, there are some steps that real estate hopefuls can take to ensure a successful professional relationship before officially signing on with an agent. The following tips are brought to you by Jason Cohen, the president and founder of the informal real estate advising group, Jason Cohen Pittsburgh – consider observing them prior to committing to a real estate professional!


Check Qualifications
Every buyer and seller needs to make sure that the agent they hire is equipped to manage their needs. It’s especially important to find a professional affiliated with the National Association of Realtors – you can determine this by checking to see if the agent notes their title with a capital “R.” Those in the NAR pledge to follow a code of ethics, and will be held accountable for any professional wrongdoing in the field. This code protects clients from potentially troublesome action on the part of the agent. Clients should also check to make sure that the agent specializes in handling cases like theirs. For instance, an individual looking to buy a house should search for a realtor with an ABR certification: These professionals are Accredited Buyer’s Representatives, and have completed additional courses for representing buyers in transactions.


Review Agent Records

Clients should also direct their research towards answering a few basic questions: How long has the agent been in business? Are their current listings similar to yours? Does the agent have any marks on their record? While the first two can be answered through an online search or direct conversation with the agent, the last question should be directed towards the applicable state regulatory body, which will have a record of any concerns or complaints.


Reach Out to Previous Clients

Don’t be afraid to ask a potential agent for a list of former clients! Reaching out to previous home buyers and/or sellers will help you better understand the agent’s skill set, capabilities, and professionalism. Make sure to ask for details; how long was the client’s home on the market? How much did it sell for? Was the agent friendly and helpful, or were they professionally challenging? All of these questions will help you come to a decision when choosing a professional to represent your real estate interests.


For more helpful advice and intriguing articles, please visit Jason Cohen Pittsburgh’s blog at JasonCohenPittsburgh.org.

Renting in Retirement

We talk a lot at Jason Cohen Pittsburgh about the benefits of renting for college students or recent grads. But that’s because Pittsburgh has a huge college presence and is a city that’s getting younger. We don’t talk a lot about the benefits of renting a home for retirees.

You usually think of retirement as a time when you’re slowing down, when life is about relaxing and enjoying what you’ve earned in your years of working. But, things are changing. People are living longer, and they are often working well into their golden years. The current economy may not allow for the leisurely retirement of yesteryears. With this climate in mind, renting a home instead of buying can have several benefits for retirees.

Buying a home can give a sense of security. It’s permanent and yours. However, it also comes with additional responsibilities that can offset that peace of mind.

If you’re weighing buying vs. renting in retirement, ask yourself the following questions:

Do you want to use retirement plan money to buy a home?

Unless you sold a previous home for a profit, you may have to withdraw retirement money to use as the downpayment. This cuts into your budget.

Do you want a permanent residence?

Some people retire in their hometown while others want to use their years off the job as a time to explore. Renting allows you the freedom of exploring different areas whereas buying requires more surety. Unless you are absolutely certain of where you want to retire, it may be best to rent first, at least until you’ve done a bit of exploring.

Do you really want a 30-year mortgage to start when you’re 65?

Let’s say you do get to retire at a traditional age — you’ll still have a mortgage until you’re 95.

Do you want to deal with banks and loans and all the other tedium that accompanies a mortgage?

You probably didn’t want to deal with this the first time around.

Above all, isn’t it time to enjoy retirement? That means, do you want a mortgage hanging over your head? Do you want to be responsible for unexpected expenses and unwanted repairs?

Basically, the question of owning vs. renting in retirement comes down to how much work you want to do at this time in your life. At Jason Cohen Pittsburgh, we try to take our residents’ minds off their apartments. That’s the major benefit of renting. It may cost a bit more per month, but that cost is consistent and the burden of maintenance is on us, not you. Ask yourself if that is something you value in retirement.