Document Management Tips for Real Estate Investing
Managing my first purchase under an LLC (my previous purchases were under my name) introduced a whole new set of documents to provide. Aside from the usual financial documents to qualify for the loan, like tax returns, pay stubs, assets, debt, etc, the bank also needed documentation specific to the LLC.
They requested the federal tax ID number, articles of incorporation, and operating agreement. Our LLC also has an added layer in that it is owned by our trust. So that meant they also needed to review our trust documents. To add even more complexity, Kansas City (where I live and invest) spans a state line. I live on the Kansas side and our LLC is incorporated in Kansas; however, my investment properties are on the Missouri side. This meant I also needed to register the LLC with the state of Missouri in order to hold property under the LLC in that state.
All of this is to say that there are a lot of moving parts to manage when buying property. You have to stay on top of all these tasks while also working through inspections, developing a construction budget, getting estimates for repairs — oh and working a full-time job! This can be an overwhelming experience, but one thing that can be a real life/deal/job saver is to have all your documentation organized and readily available. Doing so is key to meeting the close date and keeping your sanity.
Documents on the Go
I rely on tools like Dropbox to keep all the essential documents handy on my phone so when the bank calls in the middle of the work day to ask for a document, I can easily send it to them within minutes. For documents that occur less frequently, a well-organized file system on your laptop can do the trick. Electronic copies of the last two years’ tax returns, proof of insurance, and the most recent investment account statements are a few documents that you will want to easily locate electronically.
Your documentation needs don’t end once you have closed on the property though. Once you are doing the rehab, keep your receipts in order. It is critically important to scan and log your receipts at least once a week to keep the expenses fresh in your mind and make sure you don’t miss anything. I set aside Sunday evening each week as my finance day. That is when I organize all my expenses from the week, plan for which expenses are coming for the following week, submit reimbursement requests to the bank, and make sure all my bills are paid. Be sure to keep track of the business-related miles you put on your personal vehicle too. You will want to submit those as a business expense during tax time. You’d be surprised how quickly those miles add up when you are going back and forth to the jobsite!
Lastly, keep contact information close at hand for those key relationships. When the bank needs proof of insurance to prepare for closing, you’ll want your agent’s email and phone close at hand. Need to quickly get an inspection on the books, be sure to have your preferred inspector’s number in your phone. You don’t have time to wait until get home to find their business card tucked away in a folder.
Document management time savers are key to keep the process moving while you are stuck at the office. Also, keeping yourself organized will help you stay focused on the project and keep your lender and subcontractors happy. Being an organized and responsive buyer/owner will make your lender and subs more likely to work with you in the future and help you feel in control of your project. And you will be less likely to miss important details because you won’t be distracted by searching for last year’s tax return!