Rental Property Ownership Management

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With interest rates as low as they are these days, many investors are getting in on the action and buying properties to rent out.  In fact, what used to be a market where renters were paying less rent than homeowners were paying in mortgages has now flipped around. Property owners that are paying a mortgage can demand rent that is at least a few hundred dollars higher, if not more, yielding a sizable “instant” return on investment.

We talked to a property manager to find out where the rental market stands today and why it makes sense to hire a management company as opposed to tackling it all on your own.

What’s Happening in the Rental Market Right Now?

The most notable difference in the rental market recently as opposed to just a few years ago is that we are finally witnessing an improvement in tenants’ ability to support rental living.  With the economy slowly gaining momentum again, rent values are heading slightly up or at least remaining constant.  Some markets that were exhibiting declines in rent values are now seeing rates that rival those from 2008, a much stronger rental period across the board.  Keeping with the positive trend, areas that showed stable rental statistics between 2008 and present will likely experience a bit of an increase or at least remain flat.

Why Would Some Use a Property Management Company?

At a time when the economy seemingly has a long way to go before a complete recovery, many potential or existing owners of rental properties may be reluctant to spend on having their property managed. However, there are several reasons that it makes sense to hire a management company to handle all aspects of the rental business.

First, the process of screening tenants, handling all background checks, leasing units to those with approved applications and assisting with the move-in process is managed by the company.  Promotion of the location, attracting viable tenants that fit the desired demographic profile plus communication and operations – are all things that fall within the parameters of a property management company. 

Also, document maintenance and preparation that comes in handy when it comes times for accounting and taxes is also managed. Depending on the number of units in the property, the amount of paperwork can be staggering.  With someone handling all of these details, it allows the property owner to focus on other things.

By hiring a company to handle all on-the-ground aspects of running the property, the investor is then given a lot of freedom to travel or spend time in another county, state or country while continuously yielding the benefits of rental income and rental property ownership.

Finally, one of the most tedious aspects of rental properties is the need for 24-hour maintenance.  Late-night emergency calls, routine and other maintenance issues, assistance with grounds keeping plus other upkeep tasks are all managed by an experienced, organized staff that is well-versed in managing these aspects of rental units.
If owning a rental property sounds good to you, be sure to consult with your Realtor to find the best properties available out there right now. And of course, by hiring a property management company you can enjoy flexibility and freedom while at the same time be rest assured that your property and tenants are in good hands!

Important Safety Tips for Your Home While You Are Enjoying Vacation

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While I was away on vacation in Florida, I was thinking of you – my reader! Why? Because leaving on vacation always make me think about safety issues that I must address at my own home before packing the family up for a fun vacation.

With summer fast approaching, you might already have vacation on your I wanted to share with you on this little video clip my favorite safety tips. In fact, I have multiple critical steps to prepare your home for safe keeping while you're away, to keep your nest safe and secure.

This is exactly what I did to prepare my home while I'm away in Florida:

The best way to keep your home safe in your absence is to make it appear you are home, leaving absolutely no clue you're actually away. Light, time and noise are your greatest weapons to accomplish this. Follow these tips to ready your home and keep it safe:

- Ask someone you know and trust to keep an eye on your house.

For short trips, ask one of your neighbors to pick up your mail and your newspaper. If you are going to be gone longer, however, be sure to stop by the post office and have your home mail delivery stopped until you return.

Be sure to provide neighbors, friends and family members with emergency phone numbers so you can be reached quickly. It's a good idea to leave a spare house key with a relative or neighbor as well.

- At least a couple of weeks before you leave for vacation, decide what to do about your pets. You may want to have a friend or neighbor stop by each day to provide food, water and exercise. Or you may want to hire a professional pet sitting service or take the pets to a reputable kennel. This decision should be made well in advance so that proper arrangements can be made.

- Use timers on lights, televisions and radios to provide sound and illuminate the inside of your home.

- If you still have a home phone, change the setting on your answering machine so it picks up on the first or second ring—or just turn down the ringer. A constantly ringing phone is also a good sign no one is home.

- For long absences, you may want to turn off the main water valve. This will help avoid problems with frozen pipes in winter and leaking pipes in the warmer months as well as other plumbing issues.

- Keep shades up and blinds and curtains open to make it appear you're home.

- Keep bushes and shrubs near your home's entrance and walkway well trimmed. This will eliminate hiding spots for burglars.

- Keep the outside of your home well lit. Burglars won't go where they can be seen.

- Ask a neighbor to park in your driveway, occasionally moving his or her car indicate your coming and going.

- Leave the air conditioner on. A silent compressor on a hot day is a good indication you aren't home.

- Have the lawn mowed my a friend or lawn service if you are away longer than a week in the warmer months.

- This one is tough for those addicted to Facebook but posting to Facebook where you are at all times you are not only sharing this with your 'friends'. Those posts and photos allow others to find out when you are away and where you are. This isn't as concerning when you are local as you could post a comment or photo as you are ON your way home or just arrived but when your, say, at Disney World, those with ill plans regarding your trip away from home.

- Be sure to turn down the temperature on the hot water heater and unplug televisions and other appliances. These appliances will be drawing electricity whether they are on or not. Unplugging them will help lower your electric bill.

- Turn your thermostats down (or up) before you leave. There is no reason to spend money heating or cooling the home when you are not there.

- Don't forget about the plants. If you are having a friend or pet sitter care for your pets, ask them to take care of your plants as well. Simply soaking the plants with water before you leave is not enough. A better idea is to create a self watering system if you cannot have someone care for the plants. For small plants, make a self watering system by filling a plastic container with pebbles. Then fill the bottom of the container with water. This allows the plants to slowly absorb the moisture they need, without the danger of their roots becoming waterlogged. Larger plants can be mulched with a damp towel or newspaper to prevent the loss of moisture.

- When the day to leave for vacation finally arrives, try not to make that departure too obvious to those passing by. If you have a garage, be sure to pack the car with the garage door closed. If you do not have a garage, you may want to pack a couple of items a day in order to avoid broadcasting to the world that your home will be unoccupied.

- This last tip isn't a security measure for your house but for your credit (you know I always care about that as well) as you need to keep tight check over your credit in order to purchase or refinance your home!

With all the excitement of the upcoming trip we sometimes get carried away, plan only for the trip and security of our home for while we are away and leave for our stress-free trip. But wait!! You suddenly realize the day before you return the date! You've missed your mortgage payment, car payment, credit card, and utility due dates by a week or more! This happens more than I'd like to hear and the credit company doesn't accept this as a viable hardship excuse. :-) So ensure you plan ahead. Go on and sit down to make all the payments needed to be made in advance before your trip and all those due up till a few days after your return for good measure to ensure you don't get tied up with the return home and forget this very important task to protect your credit rating!

As you can see, there is a lot to think about before you jump in the car or on a plane for vacation. Use this checklist as a way of bringing peace of mind to you and your family. Enjoy your vacations without worrying about the safety of your home while you're away.

As always, if you need anything from me, please don't hesitate to call or email!