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Snow Removal Done Right

If you live east of Nebraska, chances are you’ve spent a lot of time thinking about snow lately. As cozy and idyllic as it can be to watch flutter to the ground when you’re safely tucked away by the fire in your living room, snow is a very different beast when you’re forced to contend with it. Particularly this winter, when a new blizzard seems to be blowing in on a weekly basis. As a property manager, contending with mother nature is part of the job description. Some cities even have laws mandating that you are legally responsible for removing snow and ice from the public sidewalks in front of your property. Even if your town doesn’t have such laws, it’s still in your best interest to get rid of that snow. Should someone happen to slip and fall in front of your property—which is all too easy to do right now—you may be legally and financially responsible. Let’s begin by looking at the areas you’ll want to shovel: A clear path leading from the sidewalk to your property’s entry door. A clear path leading from the driveway/parking lot to the closest door. The driveway. The sidewalk area around/on your property. In addition to shoveling these areas, you will also want to scatter salt and/or sand to ensure people don’t slip on any remaining ice. With that in mind, what are your options for removing snow and ice? Do it yourself. If you opt to remove snow yourself, remember, it can......
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Tips for Finding the Right Realtor

Getting ready to purchase or sell property? The first step to a smooth real estate transaction is finding the right real estate agent. Throughout the property selling and purchasing processes, your real estate agent will be your eyes, your sounding board, and your advocate. Here are some things to consider when selecting your real estate agent. Referrals from Trusted Sources Nothing is a better testament to a realtors ability than a proven track record. Ask friends and associates for agent referrals. It’s particularly helpful to speak with trusted sources whose situations are similar to your own. For example, if you are looking to purchase a multi-unit investment property, seeking referrals from other multi-unit investors may lead you toward a better match than asking someone who used a realtor to sell a single-family dwelling. Trust yourself too. Try visiting some open houses and meeting agents one-on-one. Open houses will give you the opportunity to meet a variety of agents and to get a feel for them, the properties they work with, and how your personalities mesh. Online Resources You can further narrow your search by doing some online research on sites like Yelp and Realtor.com to identify local realty companies and specific agents respectively. Also be sure to check out ActiveRain, a social networking platform for real estate agents that provides consumers with the opportunity to acquaint themselves with agents through professional blogs, profiles, and other online resources. Finally, keep an eye on relevant real estate transactions in your area (vis-a-vis local......
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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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To Sublet or Not to Sublet: A Property Manager's Perspective

Chances are you put a lot of effort into finding just the right tenant to entrust with your unit: you run a credit and criminal background check, you verify employment, you speak with applicants’ past landlords, and perhaps you even require an additional personal reference or two. In short, you do everything within your power to make sure that your unit is rented to the most reliable, responsible tenant possible. Performing this due diligence protects your property, your financial well-being, and also generally makes your life easier by bettering the chances that you’ve selected a tenant who will be a thoughtful neighbor to other tenants on your property. Therein lies the biggest problem with subletting units: in such instances, you are typically entrusting this screening process to another party, essentially allowing a pre-existing tenant to select someone to occupy your unit on your behalf. Of course, it certainly works in the pre-existing tenant’s best interest to find a subletor who is responsible, who will take care of the unit, and who will make rent payments in a timely manner. After all, it’s the pre-existing tenant who will remain on the lease and ultimately be held responsible for any damage or financial obligations until the initial lease term has run its course. However, most tenants simply don’t have experience in property management or a complete handle on what it is that constitutes an ideal tenant. Because of this, problems can arise when subletting enters the equation. On the other hand, there are......
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Property Management New Year's Resolutions

New Year's property management resolutionsAs 2010 draws to a close, it’s a good time to reflect on lessons from the past year and apply them to the future. As you prepare to move into 2011, be sure that you know not only what didn’t work in 2010, but also what did. After all, the goal is not to create a cycle of constantly tweaking systems and procedures but, rather, to find methods that work optimally for you and your tenants and stick with them. For an overview of where 2010 leaves you, begin by honestly asking yourself the following two questions: What was the highlight of my property management year? What was the lowlight of my property management year? When you’ve answered both of these questions, you should have a good idea of where you stand. Say, for example, that the highlight of your year was filling 40 percent of your available vacancies throughtenant referrals. This indicates that you are doing a great job of keeping your units in good shape and keeping tenants happy—in other words, in both of these realms, you’ve already found a formula that works. Though you may want to make little adjustments in these areas here and there, for the most part, you should continue doing exactly what you’ve done in 2010 on into 2011. Conversely, once you’ve come up with the lowlight of your year, you’ll want to determine why it happened and what needs to be changed in 2011 to prevent a similar occurrence from happening again. Let’s say, for example, ......
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Easy Adaptions to Aging-in-Place

I just got done reading an article in USA Today on aging in place remodels for boomers that are getting to be “the age” where a few modifications can be a big assistance to staying put in the golden years, and have to say, when I saw the list of most popular aging in place updates, compiled by our friends at NAHB, I thought, “Some of these are an absolute no-brainer, they’re so easy to implement.”

A percentage of projects remodelers have done in the last year to be able to age in place: (For a complete checklist, click here.)

Grab bars 78%
Higher toilets 71%
Wider doorways 57%
Added lighting/task lighting 45%
Non-slip flooring 20%
Easy to read thermostats 13%

They’ve got the numbers, stability and  spending power...make a few easy adaptions to meet their needs and you’ll uncovered a unique marketing niche, or you may discover you keep a resident you otherwise might have lost.

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Happy Holidays Equal Happy Tenants

It’s the holiday season, and no one wants to be the neighborhood Scrooge. Those tenants that want to go all out when it comes to decorating for the holidays can do so in their own units, but it’s also nice to incorporate subtle bits of holiday cheer to the common areas of your property. Think of it as one of those little touches that demonstrates your ongoing investment in and appreciation of your tenants. Holiday decorations are a great low-budget way to make your property more cozy and cheerful for tenants. After all, tenants who truly feel like their units are “home” will be far less likely to move. Decorating doesn’t have to cost a lot of money, nor do you have to decorate with items that require a lot of upkeep (as we all know, Christmas trees, though fun to look at, can require a lot of regular attention when it comes to sweeping up and keeping them watered–not to mention the fact that a dry tree can be a fire hazard). Consider incorporating one or more of these simple items to jazz up your properties with some holiday cheer. Light it Up While hanging lights around the entire exterior of your property may be more effort than you want to exert, lights can provide a quick holiday fix when used in other ways–wind them around banisters or string them in pre-existing plants in common areas. A conservative amount of lights is extremely affordable at common chains like CVS and Target (a......
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