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Streamline Property Inspections with Apps!

Property InspectionBy Peter Lamandre, Better by Design Real Estate, Scranton, PA Whether your portfolio is made up of large complexes or scattered smaller units, performing unit and site inspections is an important value-added service that a property management firm provides to their clients. It is also one of the more time consuming aspects of our daily jobs. Performing the inspections requires scheduling with tenants, documenting observations, and follow-up on deficient items. It is also crucial to have the historic inspections readily available to reference changes in conditions. Over the years my firm has tried numerous variations on a rather routine process; from the traditional pen and clipboard documenting observations on standard forms to utilizing digital cameras and even portable video. Recently we have been testing and are just rolling out a new process for conducting inspections. A fully digital and paperless inspection process; allowing for a swift method to memorialize observations by following a consistent process. With the advent and proliferation of smartphones and tablets in the marketplace this process is becoming more streamlined. As an avid iPhone user the apps we use are iPhone/iPad based. However searching though your application marketplace I am sure you can locate apps for windows and android based devices as well. A few helpful apps that you may want to look are: Tap Inspect. Tap inspect is a free app that allows you to customize the inspection process and deliver customized reports directly to your client from the field. You can include photos of the property and ......
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Emergency Preparedness Plans for Property Management

Emergency Plan ChecklistBy Geoff Roberts, Buildium, Boston, MA We all had it drilled into our heads as kids: Better safe than sorry! Whether it was through fire drills or being told to wear a helmet when riding my bike, hearing this phrase is amongst my earliest memories. It may sound elementary, but it’s still true. And the same goes for your property. Having property emergency preparedness plans in place will help mitigate damage and protect the safety of your tenants in case of an unexpected event. What kind of plans do I need?  You will need to have a plan on hand in the event of fires, floods, earthquakes, and other unforeseen emergencies that may potentially apply to your region. Tenants need to know not only how to evacuate the building, but also what to do in cases where they must remain inthe building as a disastrous event occurs (such as an earthquake). In addition to outlining what residents should do in case of emergency, you will also need a solid plan of action for yourself and/or other responsible parties. Know what tasks must be performed and who is responsible for completing them. How do I create emergency plans for my property?  Your insurance agent, local fire department, local police department, and Red Cross may all have resources that can help you formulate your own emergency preparedness program. Additionally, professional property management associations, networking groups, or colleagues may be able to provide guidance. With that in mind, following are some items every emergency preparedness plan should cover: ......
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Top Websites for Job Postings, Career Searches and Resume Postings!

For those looking for a new career in the Apartment Industry, or Property Management Companies needing to post job openings, I have created a list of websites I have been using. Americasjobexchange.com AAGDallas.com (Apartment Association of Greater Dallas) Apartmentcareers.com Apartmentcareerhq.org Apartmentjobs.org Apartmentjobz.com Backpage.com Bright.com Careerbuilder.com Careerfield.org Craigslist.com         Getpropertymanagementjobs.com Getthejob.com Ihirerealestate.com Indeed.com Job.com Jobfox.com Job-search-engine.com Jobster.com Locljobboard.com Monster.com  (AKA – hotjobs.com)    Oodle.com (AKA – facebook.com) Pmjobs.com  (AKA – apartmentjobs.com) Propertymanagerjobs.com Resumebucket.com        Salesgravy.com Simplyhired.com  ...
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A Quick Guide to Keeping Property Management Records

Keeping records on hand is important for a number of financial and legal reasons. Just because you’ve paid off an account or a tenant has vacated a unit, it doesn’t mean that you’ll never have cause to deal with these vendors or individuals again. Whether it’s for taxes, future loan applications, or legal issues down the line, you always want to be sure you have access to the information you need at any future point. Following are a few things to keep in mind about keeping records. What kind of records do I need to hang on to? As a business owner you will want to hang on to records that pertain to: Personnel Tenants Financial transactions (both payments received and payments made) Property-related information (both your properties and your clients) Insurance Legal documentation Audit documentation How long should I keep records for? The answer is: It depends. While the default answer for this question tends to be “seven years,” that is only the case in certain instances. Different types of records should be kept for different periods of time. Standard time periods include one year, three years, seven years, and, in some cases, permanently. As it relates specifically to property management, you will want to keep the following information for these specific periods of time: One Year Employee applications Purchase orders Meeting minutes Three Years Banking records Expired insurance policies Correspondence (with clients, tenants, real estate agencies, vendors, etc.) Internal audits Seven Years Accident reports/claims Accounts payable ledgers Accounts receivable......
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Welcome Spring to Your Property

Though it may not seem like it quite yet depending on where you live, believe it or not, we’re officially a couple of weeks into spring. Over the past two years, we’ve blogged about winterizing on an annual basis. As with the winter months, you’ll want to welcome the spring season with a bit of property maintenance and some minor adjustments (and repairs, if necessary). Happily, the transition from the cold months to the warmer ones tends to be far more simple than getting ready for winter. Throw open the windows. Welcome the sunshine by opening up those storm windows, which have been shut tightly during the winter months. When the storm windows go up, the screens should go on—make sure that screens are installed properly and are in good repair. While you’re working on the windows, check for rotting along the window sills and make any necessary repairs. Check air conditioning units. Before you know it, it will be time to kick the air conditioning into high gear. Take care of preparation work now by making sure all air conditioning systems (whether it’s central air or window air conditioning units) are serviced and ready to go so that when the first heat wave rolls around, you’re ready for it. A word about window air conditioning units—they can be a bit tricky to install properly (and safely). With this in mind, consider sending out a memo to let tenants know your maintenance team will take care of installations to avert over-anxious......
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How do I love my residents? Let me count the ways.

It’s Valentine’s Day, the day of love and courtship with the bonding of relationships through the gifts of flowers and candy. Husbands and wives, girlfriends and boyfriends, sons and daughters, neighbors and property management are celebrating this Hallmark holiday all across our great land. Did I just say neighbors and property management?  Yes, I did, is there a more important relationship with those of us in multifamily communities? Not if we want to keep working there isn’t. Below are 10 of my thoughts on how to love your residents in your community and maintain the relationships because without those wonderful relationships, well, who knows where we would all be. Giving treats, coffee and donuts, at least a couple times a year, stand outside where they are leaving for the day, usually at the entrance and provide a donut and a cup of coffee as they are leaving for work. Chocolate in any size shape or form given at the mail kiosk declaring your love and gratitude that they call your property home. Excellent communication, question, your staff, the residents, everyone, find out what is going on in the community, stay current, talk with your residents, walk the property and make yourself available. You will hear all the gossip and probably more than you want to know, but at least you will be current and know who loves who. Keeping the pool clean and the property litter free is a no brainer. Nothing says I love you more than a properly maintained......
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The Home-Buying Checklist

The importance of being methodical when purchasing property can’t be overstated. As you go through the purchasing process, make sure you have accounted for each of the following items on our Home-Buying Checklist. Look for Seasonal Slumps As with every other type of shopping, some times of the year are better than others when it comes to purchasing property. Even during years when it’s a seller’s market, there will likely be certain months that are better suited for buyers than others. For example, home sales tend to be slower around the holidays when people are already feeling over-extended financially. Bad weather can also inhibit other would-be buyers from checking out potential purchases, which means less competition for you if you strap on those snow shoes and a couple of extra layers. It works to your benefit to slant your property purchases to these slower times of the year, when there is less competition out there to drive prices up. Get Pre-approved Obtaining a loan pre-approval will not only save you time in the long-run when you want to jump on a purchase as quickly as possible, but it will also help narrow your search parameters (after all, no use falling in love with a place that ends up being financially unfeasible). By having a solid idea of your price limit ahead of time, you can be sure that you’re not looking at properties that are above your price range or, alternatively, settling for an inferior property. Find a Realtor Who’s Right......
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Property Managers – Tips to Make Your Rental Property Energy Efficient

Property Managers – Tips to Make Your Rental Property Energy Efficient

Property management companies, landlords and property managers - Make energy efficient upgrades whenever you can. Such upgrades will make your rental property less expensive to maintain while you and your tenants live in it as well as contribute to market value of the property.  

Property Managers – Tips to Make Your Rental Property Energy Efficient

1. Make sure your rental property is well insulated and equipped with heating and cooling systems that work properly. Buy energy-efficient appliances or revamp heating and cooling systems to save energy if you have the money. Less expensive steps, like insulating doors and windows, will also save you money and help conserve energy.

2. Utility companies, agencies, nonprofit organizations provide advice and information through publications and sometimes even provide subsidies to help property management companies, landlords and property managers make their properties more energy efficient.

3. Property management companies, landlords and property managers who rent to low- and moderate-income tenants may participate in a site assistance program that includes an energy-efficiency audit and financial help for making a home weather-tight. Call your local electric company to find out more about resources of this type in your neighborhood.

4. Contact your state or local energy office for other helpful publications on subjects like buying energy-efficient appliances, improving the efficiency of oil and gas heating systems, or insulating homes against cold air.

5. You also can hire energy-efficiency consultants to inspect your property and suggest long-term energy- saving measures. Their prfoessional fees maybe tax deductible.

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Property Managers and Landlords – How to Handle Tenants Repair Requests

Property Management Handle Repair Requests

Property management companies, landlords or property managers – try responding promptly to address the tenant’s requests. In some extreme cases, the tenant may be entitled to withhold rent and your property management company could be held accountable for personal injuries as well.


Property Management Handle Repair Requests

Guide to Handling Tenants Repair Requests:

1. If you’re not available by phone at anytime, make sure that you have some type of answering or paging service available at all times.
2. Provide all tenants with several copies of Maintenance/Repair Request forms when tenants move in.
3. Make additional forms readily available to your tenants. 4. For all telephone requests, complete the form and file it in the tenant's records.
5. In responding to all complaints, you may want to verbally follow up and then provide a written response. 6. As a rule of thumb, you should try to fix problems within 24 hours that may cause major inconveniences to the tenant and less serious requests within 48 hours.
7. Use a 24-hour repair service if required for personal security and safety problems
8. Be sure to comply with state and local laws and ordinances

It is important to take action at the earliest to address the tenant's repair requests.

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Making Time for "Me Time"

It’s a well documented fact that Americans take less vacation time than business professionals in any other culture. According to a disturbing analysis in a May 2007 Businessweek article, “Americans take even less vacation than the Japanese, the people who gave rise to karoshi—the phenomenon of being worked to death.” While it’s certainly admirable to be a hard worker, there’s also a fine line between dedication and over-doing it. The truth of the matter is, taking time off work is important—not only does it give you the chance to attend to the rest of your life, but it also provides the opportunity to mentally rejuvenate and the distance to remain excited about your job over the long haul. Both of these, after all, are ultimately integral to your business success. Even if you’re already sold on taking time off work, that doesn’t mean it’s always easy. Many property managers simply don’t have support staff. In other words, if you’re not doing the job, who is? When you’re dealing with tenants, work can come at any time on any day–it’s just not always as simple as a weekend or scheduling vacation time. So how do you take time off? Here are our five favorite tips to help make that “me” time more easily obtainable. Tip #1: Plan Ahead If you’re one of those personality types that has a difficult time relaxing when important deadlines are on the horizon, make sure you plan your relaxation ahead of time. Yeah, yeah—we know it sounds a bit counter-intuitive. But......
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