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Foreclosures Stimulate the Housing Market

By Ken Kmet, Condo Voice, Clearwater, FL The level of lender foreclosures has increased in recent months, and that's created an economic stimulus to the housing industry, in traditional and non-traditional methods in the pre-sale and pre-rental market. This stimulus may not be apparent to the general public, because most of these activities involve services that are not sale-related. Let me break down the basics and provide an overview for you. The majority of banks have sold or given their mortgages to either Fannie Mae (FM1) or Freddie Mac (FM2), the U.S. government. You may not know who owns your mortgage. To check to see if Fannie Mae owns your mortgage, click here. To check to see if Freddie Mac owns your mortgage, click here. Based on my observations, FM1 and FM2 have taken inventory of their properties and begun foreclosing on those that have the least amount of losses first. It doesn't matter if the property is worth $20,000 or a million. The degree of foreclosure loss determines the order by which they foreclose or resume and finish previously started foreclosure processes. Another factor is the age of the previous foreclosure process. Realtors are now being hired by FM1 and FM2 to list these properties for sale and rent. But before they can do this, a lot has to happen. FM1 and FM2 hire “scouts,” people who visit inventory properties to observe them from a distance, and to establish the “state” of the property for the lender. Is it abandoned, is it m......
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Seawalls Are Everywhere

SeawallBy Ken Kmet, Condo Voice, Clearwater, FL Seawalls are everywhere. There are endless miles and miles of them. If you live in a condominium, HOA, townhouse community, or home along the beach, bay, inter-coastal waterway, or lake, you most likely have one. Most condominiums and community associations do not reserve for seawall major repair and/or replacements. Other than the actual building structure, much of what they protect is not a covered loss under your association's insurance policy, including your swimming pool and other ground-floor elements and facilities. So much of what seawalls protect, if damaged or destroyed, will be an out-of-pocket expense to repair or replace. Most seawalls are not inspected annually and have no maintenance performed on them. If you think a roof is out of sight, out of mind, try seawalls. No one wants to think about increasing the monthly maintenance fees to cover those costs. What shape is your seawall in? As federal and state funding for beach re-nourishment dries up, you’d better have a look at your seawall. Seawall contractors know this, and are gearing up for a bull market in seawall repairs coming soon to a shoreline near you. Most communities are lulled into a false sense of security when it comes to seawalls, especially along the beach. Federal and state tax dollars have paid to rebuild beaches many times over the past 20 years so they are protected from hurricanes. However, as is and will be the case for the foreseeable future, that funding has ended. As......
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Why You Should Encourage Your Tenants to Purchase Renters Insurance

A guest post by Tracy Myers, homeinsurance.org, Houston, Texas The importance of renters insurance really cannot be highlighted enough. Tenants often forget about renters insurance, because a lease is temporary and the property is not their own. Some believe that if their landlord already has the property insured, they have nothing to worry about, but if you think about it, you wouldn’t lease a car without purchasing car insurance. Not just because it would be illegal to not buy car insurance, but because your finances would be ruined if you were to get into a car accident or suffer some other form of loss. Although residents are not required by law to buy renters insurance, the financial ramifications of not having it are great. Even if a landlord or property owner has insured the building, there are still many reasons why residents need renters insurance. For example: To Cover the Loss of Personal Property If a resident loses personal property (clothing, electronics, furniture, home ware, etc.) because of damage from fire or smoke, severe weather damage, theft, and more, they will be left to replace those items out of pocket if they don’t have renters insurance. With insurance, the depreciated value of their possessions will be covered. They can even upgrade the policy to cover the actual value. Just the thought of losing everything they own should be enough to convince them to insure their belongings. For those who believe they don’t own enough for it to matter, most people’s personal propert......
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Be Thankful You Don't Manage These Haunted Properties

By Steve Boudreault, Buildium, Boston, MA Happy Halloween, everyone! In honor of this creepiest of creepy holidays, Buildium presents some seriously haunted properties for your consideration. The next time you're inclined to complain about the property you manage, just remember -- you could be managing these. Enjoy! The Myrtles Plantation Myrtles Plantation is a stately old Louisiana home built in 1796 by General David Bradford, and is said to be haunted be several restless ghosts. Accounts differ with regard to the house’s bloody history – some claim that only one murder took place there, while others claim as many as 10. Here are some of the ghosts that allegedly haunt the house: - Chloe, a former slave who was allegedly hanged on the premises for killing two little girls. - The ghosts of the two murdered children have been seen playing on the veranda. - William Drew Winter, an attorney who lived at Myrtles from 1860 to 1871, was shot on the side porch of the house by a stranger. After the shot, Winter staggered into the house and began to climb the stairs to the second floor ... but didn't make it. He collapsed and died on the 17th step. It is his last dying footsteps that can still be heard on the staircase to this day. - The ghosts of other slaves allegedly occasionally show up to ask if they can do any chores. - The grand piano has often been heard to play by itself, repeating one haunting cho......
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In a Different Class: How to Distinguish a Property’s Worth

A guest post by Cathy Fontana, Class A Management, Dallas, TX If you’re new to property investing or management, it’s important that you first and foremost understand the different property “classes.” These classes help set standards as well as acceptable rental rates. So, let’s take a close look at what defines each and then we’ll talk about the best property class for your investment dollar. Class A: These properties are the top of the line. They are well designed, and use the best quality materials and construction. They are well-maintained and well-managed, and for these reasons are the most desirable properties. They are typically new properties, but do not have to be if all other factors are met. In fact, a much older property can be Class A if the right materials were used and management has kept it in the best possible condition. Class B: Properties in this category are most likely going to be somewhere between 10 and 50 years old. They are built with average materials and construction and have been maintained according to the status quo. They are useful spaces, but there isn’t really anything unique or special about them. Class C: Those properties that would fall in this class, as you might imagine, are not the cream of the crop. They are much older buildings, in which the construction, materials, and management are below average, while the main systems, such as mechanical, electrical, and HVAC, are average-to-poor. These spaces are known to attract a lower income tenant whose ......
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Election Protection

By Salvatore J. Friscia, San Diego Premier Property Management, San Diego, CA During an election year, it's not uncommon to drive through local neighborhoods and find political signs of every shape, size, and party firmly planted in some of the nicest landscaped yards in town. In some areas, the saturation of signs can become quite unsightly as they are stapled to telephone posts, hanging from balconies, and grouped together on street corners like overgrown weeds. Here in the state of California, a new law (California Civil Code §1940.4) was passed January 1, 2012, that protects the rights of tenants to display their political yard signs without recourse from management or rental owners. The law states that a landlord may not prohibit a tenant from posting or displaying political signs related to any of the following: 1. An election or legislative vote, including an election of a candidate to public office. 2. The initiative, referendum, or recall process. 3. Issues that are before a public commission, public board, or elected local body for a vote. Furthermore, signs may even be posted or displayed in windows and on doors in multifamily dwellings, or from the yard, window, door, balcony, or outside wall of a single-family dwelling. Managers and rental owners do have some control. They can require that the signs only remain posted or displayed for a “reasonable amount” of time, typically 90 days prior to the election and 15 days after the election, and can prohibit signs based on the following: 1.......
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What Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Can Teach Us About Property Management

By Steve Boudreault, Buildium, Boston, MA It’s about time that Buildium’s top wordsmith started writing blogs for All Things Property Management. So here I am and here we go! I’m going to use my first ATPM blog to connect property management to my number-one passion: Star Trek. Specifically, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (DS9). Deep Space Nine focused on the space station of the same name, in orbit around a planet called Bajor. Originally an outpost of the evil Cardassians, it was built using Bajoran slave labor during The Occupation, which lasted nearly 50 years. When the Bajorans finally ousted the Cardassians, Starfleet sent officers to take over administration of the station, and try to help Bajor and the Bajorans get back on their feet. The wrinkle comes in with the discovery of a stable wormhole that connects the area of space right around Bajor to the distant and completely unexplored Gamma Quadrant. Now instead of being at the end of a quiet cul-de-sac in space, Deep Space Nine is at the crossroads of a major interstellar highway. That’s progress for you. So what connections does Deep Space Nine herself have to property management? I’m glad you asked: Responsibility. The station was built by Bajorans for the Cardassians but is administrated by Starfleet. So one of the first questions was this: Whose responsibility is it to clean up and repair the station, which the Cardassians were so kind to trash before they left? Is it the owner’s responsibility or the manager’s?......
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Property Management and Crime

By Carla Toebe, New Century Realty, Kennewick, WA One of your responsibilities as a property manager is to maintain a safe, secure, crime-free property. Unfortunately, there are a number of scenarios within property management that a criminal – or even just an opportunist – could exploit. The list below outlines some situations to avoid and some precautions to employ. Never accept cash. Never, under any circumstances, accept cash as payment of rent. By never accepting cash, you will prevent possible thefts by employees or outside people who have marked you as a target, and you will also attract fewer criminals who want to deal only in cash so they can launder money or keep their money trail off the records to avoid being tracked. Screen your applicants. Application screening is another very effective way of recognizing criminals, or people living beyond their means. Naturally a criminal record is a red flag and is generally considered a reason for denial. Another red flag is having a number of items in collections that are not being dealt with. This could mean the individual is living beyond their means. You have to consider the possibility that their wages might be garnished to take care of these bills. Would they be able to still pay the rent? Where is the rent money coming from in that case? Be aware when showing units. Showing a rental unit could also be potentially dangerous if you do not take appropriate precautions. When you are showing a place ......
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"Weather" You Like It or Not – Winter is Coming!

By Linda Day Harrison, theBrokerList, Chicago, IL I think we can all agree that whether you're a seasoned property manager or building owner, or if you're a rookie to managing property, that there are not enough reminders about Mother Nature changing course, come winter each year! Weather can be a property manager’s best friend or worst enemy. The key is to be sure you are prepared! Even if you have the best staff and the finest building engineer, double checking the basics while the weather is mild is much more pleasant than learning that something was overlooked after it breaks or bursts in the middle of January, especially when it could have been prevented with a $5 piece of weather-stripping or a $2 valve. Winter can really cause a lot of trouble for the bricks and mortar of a building, in addition to the windows and pipes. Going over all of the most vulnerable areas early will save you so much grief later on down the road. For instance, walk the lower levels and check the basements or whatever areas are least visited at your property, in addition to all spaces that are vacant. It is vital that even the smallest pinhole be closed up tight. In a biting subzero winter, a blowing cold snap can pierce through that small hole and act as a razor through any pipe. That type of damage can be menacing and I would not wish it on anyone. I have learned over the years that......
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HOA Hurricane Checklist

By Ken Kmet, Condo Voice, Clearwater, FL Hurricane season runs from June 1 to November 30, so we’ve put together a checklist for condominium associations and homeowner associations for hurricane season readiness. The first thing an association has to do is adopt a policy on how the association will function during the three phases of a severe weather event: before, during, and after a hurricane/severe weather event. They must also adopt a hurricane shutter specification, then make a checklist of actions and duties assigned to the association and to each homeowner in all three phases of the severe weather event. If you have all this, examine it carefully, and update if necessary. Of course, all of this should be done well before you see the television alerts showing you the radar of a hurricane off shore and heading right for you. The last thing you need in a crisis, where your life may be in danger, is confusion and wrong assumption of duties. Make sure your preparedness policy alerts individuals of what common area services, equipment, and facilities will be available, or NOT available (such as the elevator). How to create this policy deserves its own post, and we will do that at a later date at condovoice.com, but every policy should contain the following details. Emergency Board Powers: With details on the “special powers” conferred by the state legislature on condominium boards to enable them to maneuver their association through the difficult post-disaster period; 1. Immediate Post-Storm Action: Including locating......
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