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Staff Versus Software for Property Management

There’s no doubt about it—of all the business problems you could potentially have, being too busy is certainly not a bad option. However, being too busy can become a problem if you lack the bandwidth to stay on top of things. If you consistently find yourself putting off certain tasks or letting them fall through the cracks altogether, it’s time to make some changes. Being overloaded can result in a slip in the quality of the service you provide or oversights, both of which may guarantee you’re not so busy for long. The obvious answer to too much work is bringing more hands on deck. But, of course, just because you’re busy doesn’t necessarily mean you have the budget to hire additional employees. Property management software may give you the extra help you need at a lower cost than an additional salary. Multi-tasking Functionality One of the great benefits of property management software is that it essentially acts as an office generalist. For example, hiring extra staff to take care of accounting work may alleviate that workload, but that same person can’t necessarily take on other tasks such as advertising. Modern property management software, on the other hand, handles a diverse variety of functions. It does accounting, allows tenants to make rent payments online, provides an advertising platform, runs credit and criminal checks, creates reports, and keeps records. Cost-effective Investment Property management software requires only a nominal investment when compared to hiring new staff and adding an additional salary to your......
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Choosing the Right Business Entity for Your Property Management Business

The business entity you choose for your property management company will affect you in very real ways—especially when it comes to taxation and financial and legal liability. This is a big decision and one that you may want to make with the assistance of your accountant or attorney. Following are the four business entities most commonly used by property management companies and some basic information about each. Sole Proprietor The title of this business designation pretty much says it all—a sole proprietorship is a business owned by one individual. Unlike more complex options, sole proprietorships do not have to be legally registered with the state you do business in. Rather, a sole proprietorship’s existence is solely based on the fact that you’ve gone into business. In other words, it’s simple and free to set up. Sounds too easy, right? Well, there is a drawback. Because you are one and the same with your business, business gains and losses are filed on your personal tax forms and, most notably, you are liable for the business, both financially and legally. Partnership A partnership is much like a sole proprietorship, but it involves two or more owners. As with a sole proprietorship, no paperwork or registration is required—you are simply in business. Again, partners claim their share of business income on personal tax forms and are held liable for the business’ financial and legal claims. Limited Liability Company (LLC) LLCs are a bit more complex to set up than sole proprietorships or partnerships, with......
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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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Who Says T.V. isn't Educational?

One of the great benefits of the reality television craze is that distance education no longer has to cost any more than the price of your monthly cable television subscription. Of course this certainly does not apply to all sectors of reality television, but when it comes to house-flipping and home improvement shows on channels such as A&E, HGTV, and TLC  it certainly is possible to mix entertainment and education. Here are a few of our favorite TV shows that offer up some great business-minded take-away. Designed to Sell, HGTV Designed to Sell is perfect for those real estate investors who have done the hard work of renovations and are ready to flip their home. Or, for that matter, for anyone who is looking to sell their property and wants to command the best price possible. This show is inherently budget-friendly, with the premise of providing sellers with a maximum budget of $2,000 to invest in making their home as appealing as possible to would-be buyers (and, thus, maximizing the sale price). Designed to Sell relies on the expertise of interior designers, stagers,  and home improvement gurus, bringing a team of helping hands straight into your living room. Income Property, HGTV Though Income Property is geared toward first-time buyers who are looking to make some money from their homes by renting out rooms within their homes to cover their mortgage, host Scott McGillivray offers up a ton of tips that property managers can apply. With ten years of experience under his......
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Brent Williams
Haven't seen all of these, but I really enjoy Income Property!
Monday, 07 February 2011 00:19
Guest — JasonClements
Really like Holmes on Homes. Perhaps a bit more advanced work than would traditionally be done for an investment property but it r... Read More
Tuesday, 08 February 2011 00:15
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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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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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Finding the Right Multi-Family Property Investment

In many ways, the current economic climate makes for a great time to purchase a multi-family investment property. The prominence of short sales and foreclosures has given way to good purchase prices in many areas of the country. Add to this the fact that there are some incredible interest rates out there right now (even for investors) and the fact that many former homeowners have now found themselves back in the rental market, and there’s a very valid argument that this is a good time to get into the multi-family market. If you are considering making a multi-family property investment of your own, following are a few things to consider before taking the leap. Know what you’re looking for Before you even begin to look at properties, have a clear idea of what you’re looking for and what you’re willing to put into a property, both financially and in terms of your time. Of course, this is always subject to change if you find just the right place, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t go into the house-hunting process without a fairly narrow baseline in mind. Aside from basics like location and size, you also want to have know whether you’re looking for a “fixer-upper” or a “as-is” property. Look at the whole package Looking for a multi-family investment property is different from looking for a single-family home and requires a bit more of a discerning eye. Remember that you will be renting multiple units out to different tenants. To......
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2011 Property Management Conferences and Seminars

As we begin to look forward to closing another year out, it’s a great time to look ahead and get your ducks in a row for 2011. Aside from all of the  information and lessons you glean out on the property management field on a daily basis, incorporating continuing education into your professional program is a great way to ensure you continue growing and perfecting both your business and your personal skill sets. Though complete certifications and ongoing classes may simply be unfeasible for some of us, property management related seminars and conferences are a great time-efficient way to add to your knowledge base. 2011 NAA Education Conference and Exposition June 23-25, 2011 Las Vegas, Nevada The National Apartment Association tags this event as the opportunity to “educate, energize, and empower” yourself and your organization. This well-attended event brings together 5,000 multi-family housing professionals from across the nation and 300 service providers, not to mention a wealth of high-profile keynote speakers, including Condoleezza Rice. NPMA 2011 National Education Seminar July 25-28, 2011 Las Vegas, Nevada Hosted by the National Property Management Association, this multi-day seminar provides a wealth of practical business advice, offered from a wide variety of field experts who have an in-depth working knowledge of how property management works from the inside out. In addition to seminars, the NPMA also offers break-out groups that allow attendees to discuss special interests with colleagues and experts. 23rd Annual NARPM Convention & Trade Show October 19-21, 2011 Dallas, Texas As the largest......
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Renters' Insurance -- Do You Need It?

Though the acquisition of renters’ insurance is ultimately your tenants’ responsibility, as a landlord it’s important that you have an understanding of what it is and why it’s important, both for your own well-being and for your tenants’. Your tenants should be aware that in the case of a destructive event at your property (fire, natural disaster, theft, etc.), existing property insurance will only protect your actual property. In other words, tenants’ possessions and personal belongings are not covered.  In addition to protecting their personal items, renters’ insurance also helps protect tenants in the case that a visitor is injured due to their negligence while in their unit. For example, if  a tenant’s dog bites a visitor, renters’ insurance will protect the tenant. Some property managers build a clause into their lease stating that renters are obligated to purchase renters’ insurance for the duration of their occupancy. Whether or not you choose to include this sort of stipulation in your own lease depends upon your personal preference and, also, state and local laws. Why would it work to your benefit to require tenants to have such insurance? After all, they’re taking on the risks of being uninsured and you don’t want to give competing properties an advantage by requiring tenants to pay the additional costs, right? Before making this decision, be aware that in cases where a tenant without renters’ insurance is sued by a person who is injured in their apartment, you can be included in this lawsuit also and......
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Michael Cunningham
In addition to providing important protection for your renters, a renter’s insurance requirement can be incredibly advantageous fo... Read More
Tuesday, 16 November 2010 04:10
Buildium LLC
There's certainly a lot to gain in terms of deductibles and out of pocket expenses, but don't you think that requiring renters' in... Read More
Tuesday, 16 November 2010 04:20
Michael Cunningham
Actually, our experience has been just the opposite. By and large, residents understand and appreciate the benefits that renter's ... Read More
Wednesday, 17 November 2010 23:33
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Yield Maintainance Prepayment Penalty - Should I Worry.

The question I get most asked is how does yield maintenance prepayment penalty work and should I be worried about it.    This is especially true for borrowers who had previously borrowed from banks and are now looking at a loan from Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae.    My short answer is that this is not something to worry about, but if you are taking a loan with yield maintenance you should not expect to pay it off until close to maturity because you will have a significant prepayment penalty.  First what is yield maintenance (YM)?  It’s basically a calculation that guarantees the lender will receive the interest payment from the loan for the full term of the loan (or yield maintenance period).  The idea is that if you pay back the loan early, the owner can reinvest the proceeds from the money you return to them, plus the penalty amount in safe treasury securities and receive the same cash flow as they would by holding your loan.    How is YM it calculated?   All YM is not calculated exactly the same, but the general principal is the same.   Basically it’s the difference (spread) between the note rate and the current yield on a specific treasury security that has the same remaining term as the loan (this is called the reinvestment rate).   This spread is multiplied by the remaining term and then discounted back to current dollars.  A rough way of determining the penalty is to subtract the treasury rate from a security with......
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Brent Williams
Excellent blog, Adam.
Monday, 15 November 2010 07:16
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