Frequently Asked Questions

The following FAQ is written for both property owners and prospective tenants. At Linnemann Realty, our goal is ensure both parties feel comfortable with their decision to work with our team. This FAQ is to help you understand the process and will likely create additional questions from you. Please feel free to call our offices and we will be happy to address your concerns. More than anything, our goal is to exceed your expectations and we look forward to working with you.
Who does Linnemann Realty represent?
This is a very important question anytime you have dealings in the real estate industry. At Linnemann Realty we represent the owners of property, whom we refer to as clients. This means, as a prospective tenant, you are not represented in the transaction with Linnemann Realty.

While this sounds like daunting "legal speak", please don't worry. First, this is the same arrangement you'll find at any professional property management office. Second, as our tenant, or whom we refer to as a customer, we still have an obligation as set forth in the rules of the Texas Real Estate Commission to deal with you fairly, honestly, and with full disclosure.

While we represent the interests of our clients, our customers enjoy our amazing and responsive service and will always be treated with respect. After all, without our customers we wouldn't have much of a business, would we?
How do you screen your tenants?
One of the most important and basic functions of property management is the proper screening of potential tenants. Managers desperate for occupancy and lacking proper marketing will not have the same flow of available renters that we might, and will be tempted to allow unqualified or "risky" tenants to occupy your most valuable asset. Our application process is a well-documented review of the following:

  • Credit history: we are members of the credit bureau and as such, have the ability to pull an Experian credit report as needed. While we don’t require perfect credit (these are challenging times and bad things happen to good people), we do screen for major credit issues, delinquencies to property managers, judgments, charge-offs, collection accounts, and the like.

  • Rental verification: we require all potential tenants to have a positive rental history as documented by written rental verification, signed by their previous landlord. We won't approve any applicant without the proper rental verifications for a period of no less than two years prior to the application date.

  • Work and income breakdown: an applicant must provide paystubs for all those on the application claiming to have income. The income must meet minimum criteria to qualify for the respective monthly rental payment. Any undocumented income is not used in an applicant's income review.

If a tenant does not qualify, no matter how badly we might want to fill a unit, we will not lower our standards for the sake of occupancy. Be sure to ask any property manager about their qualifications for potential renters because nothing, NOTHING, can hurt your finances more than a bad tenant.
How do I pay my rent?
How do rents get collected?
The first question is usually asked by tenants (customers) and the second by property owners (clients). As a tenant at Linnemann Realty you have a number of options available to you for rent payments. Please bear in mind we never accept cash payments for rent, but offer the options of payment by a personal check, credit card (fees apply), money order or cashier's check. You can deliver your rent in several ways:

  • U.S. Mail: feel free to mail your rent check to our office, just make sure we receive it in time! The physical address and mailing address are as follows:

    Physical: 3402 So. W.S. Young Dr., Suite A, Killeen, TX 76542
    Mailing: P.O. Box 11386, Killeen, TX. 76547-1386

  • Stop by: you’re always welcome to come by the office and pay in person.

  • Website: our website allows for tenants to pay their rent and even their application fees online. You will need a credit card and separate fees will apply. This is one of the fastest ways to get your rent in on time.

Remember, rents are due no later than the 3rd and late fees are strictly enforced. Please make every effort to make your payments in a timely fashion. Also note, we can take credit cards at the office but not over the phone, and with that there is a separate fee that applies. Personal checks are not acceptable as payment for a security deposit – these always need to be paid with certified funds. If you have any further questions about rent or security deposit payments please contact our office at your convenience.
How will my property be marketed?
I had one fellow property manager, a personal friend, express to me that he feels we all offer the same service to potential clients. That’s what he expressed to a new client. Entirely untrue! Your rental property is just like your own small business, and if that business isn't marketed properly then it just won't produce income. Many real estate companies already have a small advertising budget and very little of it usually goes towards property management marketing. There are many property managers out there that advertise very little if at all. They count on traffic finding its way to them rather than a comprehensive marketing strategy that drives traffic to their clients. At Linnemann Realty, we pride ourselves on maintaining a solid advertising budget every month. We don't just spend, we calculate, we plan, and we manage our marketing programs to maximize our advertising dollar and get the best results possible. All of our promotional work goes through a professional advertising company, Concentus Media Group of Temple, and it shows in the quality of our publications. Currently, we can easily be found in any of the following ways:

  • Killeen Daily Herald: we run a regular rental ad in the local paper. As opposed to trying to list every available unit in column form (a very bland, uninteresting ad I might say), we highlight two properties currently available in our inventory and publish them in a block ad that grabs the eye and commands attention.

  • The Fort Hood Sales and Rental: a full page in every issue, we publicize six homes currently available in our inventory.

  • The Homes Magazine of Central Texas: a two-page spread featuring homes we have on the market for sale.

  • Direct mail: we currently mail out between 1,000 – 2,000 pieces of direct mail every month, focusing our mailings on the target market for both renters and potential management and/or listing clients.

  • Our incredible website: one of our best marketing assets is our website. Custom built from the ground up and continually tailored and refined to meet the exacting needs of our staff and our clientele, our website is a remarkable tool for driving business to your home. You're obviously using it right now, so please, if there's any facet of this website that doesn't meet your needs, send us an e-mail and let us know.

  • Facebook: Linnemann Realty has a Facebook page and, if you haven't already, you should go "like" it right now. Regular updates on our inventory, current company events, friendly tips for homeowners and tenants alike, and other important information you might want to know.

  • The Human Network: we are proud and active members of many local associations. While the new technologies available make it easy to have a presence, if you're relying solely on an electronic presence then you're missing the whole point. Anything accomplished by the web has got to be backed up by the personal introduction, the handshake, and the real time experience within the community that supports your endeavor. Linnemann Realty is currently a member of the Fort Hood Area Association of Realtors, the Killeen Chamber of Commerce, the Better Business Bureau, and the Central Texas Homebuilder's Association (where Michael Linnemann serves on the Board of Directors). We are also closely involved with The Fort Hood Housing Office, the Central Texas Housing Authority, and The Department of Housing and Urban Development. We continue to grow and develop as a company largely because of our face-to-face interaction within our community.

  • Signage: believe it or not, the majority of real estate business comes from the signs we place. Your home will be highly visible with a professional looking yard sign once it's determined that the home will be available. Also, and most importantly, every home in our inventory will have a sign affixed to the front of the structure featuring our logo, phone number, and website. This way, it is always common knowledge that we’re the people to call with any questions about that property. Not only is this an extremely effective marketing tool, but also a useful security device in the event that something goes wrong with your house/apartment while vacant. Neighbors and local authorities will know immediately who to call.

As you can see, we make a serious and candidly, an expensive but worthwhile effort towards marketing our company, and your property. In reviewing this information, there are a few key points to take away from this. First, you might not see your individual property in our advertising. We manage hundreds of units and select the properties for our ads based on the quality of the photo and the overall appeal of the home. We also seek to have a strategic diversity in each publication. That is, allowing for properties of differing sizes, price ranges, and locations. The whole point of the marketing plan is to drive traffic into the office, where potential clients will have the full benefit of reviewing everything in our inventory.

Second, always remember that, if the manager you’re interviewing doesn't have a marketing plan in mind for your property, then there will literally be no marketing. The result will take a toll on your pocketbook.
What kind of software do you use?
Unless you're in the business, you can't imagine how critical a part the software plays in smooth client service, quick turnaround, and most importantly, accurate record keeping. Our software is a web-based system that allows every client 24-hour access to their account, just like your bank or credit card company. You are welcome to "click on" via the web at your convenience and see the current status of your account in real time. Updates are made on a regular basis all day long, so the information in our system is always up to date. Beyond just our software, our website allows our tenants immediate access to other available rentals, paying their rent electronically, and submitting work orders (which need to be in writing). If you are considering a manager who still does their bookkeeping by hand or spreadsheet, or who mails checks to their clients, you might experience some delays in getting paid, miscalculations on the amounts rightfully due to you, and substandard record keeping. Quite frankly, it's not hard to imagine, given the extensive records you need to maintain in this industry.
As a property owner, how do I get paid?
Electronically. In conjunction with our state-of-the-art software we produce monthly statements that are sent via e-mail and all funds are transferred to our clients directly from our bank to yours. With this we minimize delays and maximize accuracy. With 24-hour access to your account in real time, you'll already know exactly how much money you'll be getting before the funds even arrive. Rents are collected in the first 3-5 days of the month (depending on the weekend), statements are processed and bills are paid during the first week, then we begin transmitting funds between the 8th and 9th (again, depending on the weekend).
How much is this going to cost me?
The gold-standard of questions for anyone you're about to buy a product or service from, and a critical question for a property manager preening for your business. There are many ways managers can make money aside from the management fee. At Linnemann Realty, we charge a management fee based on a fixed percentage of the collected rent. This fee will vary based on the type of property, location, condition, and number of units. Other fees you might see at competing management companies include leasing fees (a fee charged to you, the property owner, each time the manager executes a lease agreement), vacancy fees (a base management fee charged to you when the property is empty), advertising fees (a fee charged to you for advertising your property for rent), and administrative fees (making copies, long distance calls, postage, etc.).

As you can see, your fees to a property manager can add up quickly, even when your property is empty. Because of this, don't price shop your property manager until you understand all the fees they can and will charge you. If someone is promising you a sharply-reduced management fee, they might be trying to make money on the back end through fees just like those shown here.

At Linnemann Realty, we charge our property owners a management fee, period. There are no hidden charges or surprises in our billing. We don't charge for advertising, and we deliver the best marketing of any property manager in Central Texas. We don't charge leasing fees because we believe that's part of our job already. We don't charge administrative fees because that, again, is part of what we do (now, if you need something express mailed, we will bill you for that). And finally, we don't charge you a fee when your property is vacant because we keep our interests in line with yours: we don't get paid unless you're getting paid.
Why shouldn't I manage my home myself?
One of the biggest mistakes we see in property management is when an owner attempts to manage the property themselves. It is like attempting to represent yourself in court, repairing your own cellular phone, or diagnosing your own illness. Unless you are already a real estate professional, then navigating the murky waters of property management is just as risky and daunting a task as any of the others I've listed. Here are some specific reasons that self-managing your property can be devastating:

  • There are predatory shoppers in the rental real estate market. They specifically seek out self-managed properties or weak managers because they know the right questions won't be asked. Then, once they're in the home and you've moved away your nightmare begins. They stop paying. They stop communicating. They damage your home.

    And the worst part is there's very little you can do from a distance, without great expense. There are professional predatory tenants out there who can and will stay for several months for free in your home, possibly driving you into foreclosure or worse. This is the primary reason that you need a seasoned representative who is only minutes away from your property, can first properly qualify your prospective tenants and, if needed, respond to issues that arise with rapid and decisive action.

  • Any number of maintenance and/or repair issues can and do arise with your home at any time. We offer a after-hours emergency line wherein tenants can call if and when there's a legitimate emergency. Aside from those situations, we have a tightly-regulated system of receiving work orders (in writing), reviewing them, and if needed, assigning the right professional contractor to effect the repairs. If you're not already established with the right repair people, situations like this can be time consuming and costly. Your time and frustration with repairs and maintenance alone is worth the investment in a property manager. Further, once the work is complete, you have little or no viable way of confirming that the work was done properly. We confirm that all repairs have been completed per the work order prior to paying our contractors. This insures quality work, happy tenants, and the careful and respectful consideration of your finances.

  • Advertising your home for rent is a costly process. Our firm handles all of your marketing and advertising and, given that we work with hundreds of properties just like yours, we are able to do so very cost-effectively. If you manage your own property, purchasing ads and waiting for phone calls can be draining in more ways than one.

  • As a professional real estate firm, we are up to date on the latest laws and regulations concerning leased property in Texas. We also have working relationships with the local courts and other government agencies that get involved if things get rough. Our established network allows us to quickly handle some of the more stressful issues that arise in property management. It's not for the meek or the uninformed. Allow us to handle these situations for you, save you hundreds if not thousands, and let you get on with your own more pressing matters.
What happens when a tenant doesn't pay?
Despite our strict application process, we do run into situations where a tenant pays late or doesn't pay at all. It's the nature of the business and, unfortunately, happens. Every situation is different, so first we try to assess the exact nature of the issue. If things can be resolved quickly and without major distress, we will make every effort to follow that path. If we can find the "win/win" then we will.

If that's not the case, then we take an aggressive posture and act deliberately. Evictions go out on the 5th of every month and are not mailed, but posted on the front door. They have 72 hours by law to satisfy their delinquency or we file in court. If that still does not get the tenant's attention then the eviction goes to trial. Simply, our documentation is outstanding we do not lose in court. Once the eviction is granted they have another 72 hours to leave. If that doesn't happen then we file for a Writ Of Possession and the Constable will arrive, armed, and escort them and their belongings to the curb.

This will all take place within the same month. We do not delay nor do we waiver when it becomes obvious that a tenant is trying to avoid their payment responsibility. It's not a process that will take months, only about 3-4 weeks. It doesn't usually go this far, but it has and we effectively handle things quickly and decisively.

After we've given them the boot, that same tenant will now have a judgment on their credit report, permanently damaging their ability to both borrow and find a decent place to live. While not trying to sound unkind, we don't take it lightly when someone tries to pull the wool over our eyes.
How are repairs handled?
All repairs have to be approved by the property owner, unless it's an emergency situation. Given that most of our clients don’t want to be called about every small item, we set a maximum dollar amount in the management agreement that we're authorized to spend prior to making contact for a direct authorization. If the repair exceeds the allowance set forth, we don't proceed until we hear from the owner granting permission for the repair.

Once the repair is complete, the invoice will be paid out of our operating account and posted to your property account on our software system. You'll be able to see it in your account online as soon as it's posted. The funds for the repair will then be deducted from your next proceeds check. If the amount exceeds the pending income, we will usually ask for payment in advance in order to keep your account in a positive status.

Emergency repairs are handled differently. Standard repairs are only ordered from work orders submitted in writing by the tenant, whether at the office or online. They follow the procedure as detailed above. Emergency repairs don't require a work order and can be fairly common. Anything involving water penetration into the house (plumbing issues, leaky roof, improper drainage), AC in the summer, and heat in the winter are all considered emergencies. We will make every effort to contact the owner but it is very important to remember that 1) even if we can't make direct contact with the owner we will move forward with the needed repair and, 2) even if as an owner you don't want to perform the repair we are legally obligated to do so. Any of the above situations can be critical to the health of the occupant and must be dealt with quickly. Not only do the laws of the State Of Texas allow us to proceed with these repairs, they command us to. Please keep this in mind if there's ever an unexpected circumstance with your property. We will do everything we can to uphold your best interest, but sometimes that involves making the required investment in a needed repair.

On that note, we do have an after-hours emergency line that affords tenants the ability to call in emergencies in the evenings and on weekends. While we can't always mobilize a repair crew outside of business hours, in many instances we can and will. Again, it has to be a legitimate emergency in order to rate this level of expediency. On the flipside, if we mobilize a crew and send the crew to a house because the tenant has reported an emergency outage only to find that it was a tripped breaker, we will bill that work order back to the tenant.

We try to carefully evaluate every repair work order that comes through our office. We don't repair cosmetic issues during a tenancy. Moreover, even if it's a functional repair, we will evaluate whether or not it was caused by tenant neglect and/or misuse. If that's the case, then the tenant will be required to pay for the repair, not the property owner.

What we want both parties to recognize is that your needs will be addressed timely and fairly.
What types of property do you manage?
Linnemann Realty is a residential property management and real estate sales company. We manage single family homes, duplexes, fourplexes, small apartment buildings (5-20 units), and some small commercial buildings. Our inventory has small 1-bedroom apartments through luxurious homes on acreage and in some of the finest neighborhoods in Central Texas. If you're wondering whether or not our company would be right for your property, I encourage you to call the office and speak with any member of our experienced staff.
How much can I charge for rent?
We will determine what you can charge for rent based on what the market will bear. While you get the final say on setting the rent rate, we will advise you based on our experience and try to guide you to the maximum rent you can achieve while simultaneously finding an occupant quickly. Months of vacancy are a pointless waste of time, especially if it's due to attempting to squeeze an additional $100 in rent.

Please remember that the market rent is entirely aside from your mortgage payment. Some of our clients have low mortgage payments or none at all. Others have either purchased their homes with substandard financing or have second liens that make their mortgage payment impossibly high. When this is the case the rent is just not going to cover the payment and your experience with property management is not going to be profitable. I say this to be entirely up front and honest with any potential clients. Just because your monthly mortgage payment is a certain amount doesn't mean the home will rent for that.
How do I report this on my taxes?
Welcome to the world of owning rental property! Yes, your tax return will now change with the addition of what is called a “Schedule E”. If you use Turbo Tax or a tax preparation service, they will have everything you need in order to properly report your rental property on your tax return. In gathering the needed information, you will want to have the following at year’s end:

  • Mortgage interest statement from your lender.

  • Evidence of amounts paid for property taxes and insurance.

  • The 1099 statement you will receive from Linnemann Realty, reflecting the gross rents collected on your behalf through the year.

  • Your year-end cumulative statement from Linnemann Realty totaling your management fees, repairs, maintenance, and any other expenses you’ve incurred that went through our system.

Bring these items to your tax preparer and your tax return should be completed without delay.
How does this affect my homeowner's insurance?
As soon as you begin moving out of your home, it's a good idea to contact your homeowner's insurance company and alert them to the fact that the house will now be a rental and will no longer be owner occupied. Based on this information, they will probably recommend dropping the contents coverage from your policy. Contents are not your responsibility and should be covered by the tenant with their own renter's policy. Your home will still be covered, of course, for anything that was already itemized in your policy.

We do ask that you pay close attention to the liability portion of your policy. Every insurance policy has one, and with a tenant in your home, you might want to make sure you’re covered for the worst possible incident. A high liability coverage limit is a very good idea when owning rental property.
How does this affect my mortgage?
Simply, it doesn't. You still pay your mortgage the same way you always have. Don’t wait for the funds to come from Linnemann Realty before making your payment. Given the potential of unforeseen circumstances, there may be a delinquency in payment at some point and we wouldn't want you to get into hot water with your mortgage lender. Linnemann Realty does not make mortgage payments for clients. We transfer funds to you so that you can continue to make your payment as you always have.
What if I want to move back into my house?
The tenant's lease protects them for the entire term of the lease. Thus, if you plan on moving back and know you’ll want to reoccupy your home, let us know at least one year out (or the balance of the lease term plus one month) so we can make sure to allow the lease to expire. Even then, we are required to give at least 30-days written notice for a tenant to vacate (unless they're already in violation in some way), so you'll want to time things carefully.

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