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Top 6 Tips When Staging Your Property

A cost many landlords don’t take into account is their loss on lease or vacancy.  Think of the effect on your net income.  The loss of one month revenue can equate to over 8.0% of the annual rent.  What can you do to lease your property sooner, and avoid the loss of revenue?  Many landlords now are staging their properties.  Studies have shown when you bring an available property to the lease market, take the time to stage it (even minimally), it will lease quicker than a property which is not staged.  Most attribute this to the fact a staged property gives the potential renter some vision as to what their furniture will look like in this space.   Here are some helpful tips to consider when staging. 1)      Use neutral colors as they don’t create such a distraction from the home. 2)      Don’t over furnish the home or use pieces which are too big for the space or room. You don’t want it to look crowded. 3)      Place artwork in a few places only ie: above the couch in the living room, at the end of a long hallway (with lighting), the dining room and master bedroom should be plenty. 4)      Good, bright lighting is a must. 5)      Have a focus on the entryway, as this the first thing seen. Make the area welcoming and bright. 6)      Once they are in the property, you want them to see a staged dining room, living room, kitchen, patio/porch and master bedroom at a minimum......
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12 Ways to Reduce Liability on a Multifamily Property

shutterstock_215430139The risks of lawsuit are great on a multifamily property.  There are a lot of ways that you can be held liable for other people’s mistakes.  It’s time to protect yourself.  There are a lot of easy ways to significantly reduce your liability when owning and managing an investment property.  Here are just some suggestions below: 1. Don’t Allow Pets on the Premises For some landlords, allowing pets on the premises is a risk worth taking to have happy tenants.  That said, injury and death has been known to occur due to pets being on the premises.  Although the pet is under the responsibility of the tenant, the landlord’s decision to allow the pets on the premises is considered part of the fault for the injury or death that occurs from an attack on another resident. 2. Require Renters Insurance of Tenants If a tenant’s guest injures themselves in the tenant’s unit, the tenant is held liable, but only as long as they are able to pay.  Let’s say that you have a tenant that can barely afford rent as it is, let alone a lawsuit.  Then somebody else is going to have to take up part of that bill.  That sometimes can be the landlord’s insurance.  If you require that your tenants have renters insurance, then they will be more likely to afford any accidental damages that happen to their guest. 3. Require that Vendors Have Insurance too There is high potential that a vendor working on your property may injure themselv......
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DIY Advice for Making Accessibility Home Modifications

Despite the disability, there’s no reason that your loved one shouldn’t be able to be safe, comfortable, and independent in their own home. In order for this to happen, however, it’s likely that you will need to make some strategic home modifications. If you’re the do-it-yourself type, you’ll likely want to tackle these home modifications without the help of professionals. Here are some tips for going the DIY route (and when you might need to contract a little help). Where to start It makes sense to start your home modifications with the easiest and the most beneficial to your disabled loved-one. Many home modifications are incredibly simple but have a major impact. You should prioritize these tasks. ● Improving lighting – it’s easier to get around and avoid injury in properly-lit spaces. This is a no-brainer. Making sure that every room has both overhead lighting and auxiliary lighting in the form of floor and table lamps are crucial. Consider LED lighting to reduce glare.● Getting rid of obstructions on floors and in pathways – make sure your loved one has a clear path to navigate all through the house. Tape down rugs and make sure they aren’t too tall. Rugs with large lips are tripping hazards.● Putting items in lower positions – this is especially important for those in wheelchairs. Make sure commonly-used items like the telephone, microwave, and other electronics are accessible. Next steps After you do all of the easy stuff, it’s time to move on to some projects that actually take a little bit of install time.......
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Don’t let a Landlord-Tenant Dispute Become a Natural Disaster

shutterstock_171847709Don’t wait until disaster strikes to protect yourself and others from damages. Have a plan in place to prevent landlord-tenant disputes when there is property damage of any kind.  You should take steps to ensure that the lease clearly designates who is responsible for what damages and when.  Both parties should also have insurance when replacements or repairs have to be made. Mind the Lease Lease Termination Landlords should take special care in the rental agreement about terms and conditions for terminating or breaking the lease. This should include stipulations that specify how much advanced notice a tenant must give in order to break the lease and what fees will be incurred if the contract is violated.  Both parties are required by law to provide a 30 day notice that they will be terminating the lease, but you can choose to request a larger time frame in the lease.  Keep in mind that if special circumstances develop on the property, such as a tornado ripping off the roof of the property, the tenant can’t be expected to continue to live in the property.  In such situations that the property is deemed to be untenable, the Landlord must either provide alternative housing for the tenant during the period of repairs or terminate the lease. Damage Repair Replacement and repair for damages are generally isolated for the landlord and the tenant.  The tenant is to be responsible for their own personal belongings inside of their unit.  The landlord is responsible for the upkeep of the physical property inside and out. What if the pro......
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The Americans with Disabilities Act for Landlords And Property Managers

The Americans with Disabilities Act, commonly known as “ADA” is a federal civil-rights law protecting the rights of people with disabilities. The ADA places guidelines for access to: Employment State and local government programs, services and buildings Access to places of public accommodation such as businesses, transportation, and non-profit service providers Telecommunications George Bush signs the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990; standing left to right Reverend Harold Wilkie, Sandra Parrino of the National Council on Disability; seated left to right, Evan Kemp, Chairman of the Equal Employment and Opportunity Commission, George Bush, Justin Dart, Chairman of the ‘s Committee on the Employment of People with Disabilities. Washington DC, USA, 26 July 1990. (Photo by Fotosearch/Getty Images). The scope of the law is fairly broad and addresses many of the obstacles affecting the participation of people with disabilities within society. Many of the ADA’s civil rights protections parallel the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the protections it established for racial, religious minorities and women. Occasionally, management companies may be faced with a lawsuit for non-compliance with ADA laws.  These compliance problems are usually preventable as many times they result from violations which stem from the lack of proper guidelines, policies, procedures, and/or practices regarding accessibility. Implementing current policies can go a long way toward avoiding the expense associated with ADA lawsuits. As owners, landlords, managers, and tenants can be jointly and severally liable in the event of non-compliance. Making it important to ensure you have safe practices in place to address......
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Not All Tenant Screening is Created Equally

You can’t always predict who will be a good tenant, but past behavior often indicates future behavior. Whether you’re a landlord, a property manager, or a real estate agent, you should be doing everything in your power to protect yourself from the hassle of dealing with bad tenants and bringing unwanted tenants into your community as they can be can be both time-consuming and financially destructive. Tenant screening can be handled in a few different ways, and one screening process is not always as successful as another. Making your decision solely on price can be a mistake, as many companies bypass certain steps in order to keep prices low. Here are some things you should know before deciding how to handle screening in the future.   Many companies advertise no on-site inspection for their tenant screening; however, you should know that these inspections are required by the Fair Credit Reporting Act. While these companies can offer some valuable information about your tenant’s past, they are not providing full credit reports. Instead, these companies access public data to compile an independent score that only partially represents your tenant’s history. These companies tend to offer the cheapest prices, but at the expense of legality and comprehensive information. Many companies require the tenant to initiate the transaction. While this practice isn’t inherently problematic, it can cause certain problems. For one, because it requires tenant initiation, time can become an issue. In this scenario, the property manager loses some of the control. In some instances it also prevents ......
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What Happens When You Default On A Loan You Personally Guaranteed?

In addition to the property securing a loan, a personal guarantee is also used a promise or agreement to hold you personally liable for a debt.   By personally guaranteeing a loan, in addition to the property as collateral for the loan, the Lender also has recourse against you personally. They can go after other assets you own under these terms.  Lenders prefer these types of loans. It gives them something of value more than the asset, which has the loan against it. It also gives them more security.  It lets a lender feel you will take better care in managing the investment to ensure its success. The personal guarantee will typically not come into play unless the asset which is foreclosed upon, will not cover the liability/outstanding balance due the lender.   This balance can be substantially higher than the loan balance, as it also typically takes into account the penalties, accrued interest, and legal fees a lender may incur. In some cases, you can discharge your liability for a personal guarantee by filing for bankruptcy relief (unless the guaranteed debt itself is non-dischargeable). However, keep in mind the bankruptcy will need to be a personal  bankruptcy to potentially eliminate any personal guarantees, and not just a bankruptcy for the asset. If your personal guarantee includes a security interest in your personal assets, the lender will typically have a lien on your property. A bankruptcy discharge may only wipe out your personal obligation to pay back debts. It doesn’t eliminate liens. This me......
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What The US Presidential Election Means For The Real Estate Market

What The US Presidential Election Means For The Real Estate Market
According to recent polls, the clash between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump is set to be brutal, with Americans gearing up for what is expected to be one of the most hotly contested presidential elections in the history of the country. It’s evidently a very unusual contest, with Trump being a presidential hopeful with no past political experience, and Clinton, on the other hand, a candidate who has been through the best and worst of two administrations. According to economists and realtors, the final result could possibly have a profound effect on the U.S. economy, including the real estate sector. Already, both Trump and Hillary have included various proposed economic reforms in their manifestos, and have subsequently been vocal about their policies. Of course they are expected to impact the real estate market one way or another, with businesses and individuals adopting to new administration policies. But, before we even get to the elected president part, it’s critically important to start by analyzing months leading to the actual elections. Past Real Estate Trends During Presidential Election Periods Over the last couple of decades, the real estate market has been recording drops during the election period, mostly due to uncertainty surrounding the whole process. According to a study conducted byMovoto on the real estate Market within California, it was established that the appreciation of homes drops by an average rate of 1.5% during an election year, compared to the preceding year. Interestingly, the subsequent year after the election, the rate bounces back, with an ave......
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Low End vs Luxury Real Estate: Which is a Better Investment?

Low End vs Luxury Real Estate: Which is a Better Investment?
And now for the big question in many realtors’ minds- where do you stand to make more money- low end or luxury real estate? Typically, low end real estate requires low capital, making it particularly attractive to startups and small time investors. Luxury real estate on the other hand, is only a reserve for big firms with sufficient capital to spend in prime residential and commercial zones. Lately however, even the big firms are looking into the possibility of investing in low end real estate to capitalize on the rather expansive lower middle class market. So, What Exactly Is Low End Real Estate? As we’ve specified, low end real estate mainly targets the lower-middle class market. That alone excludes bombed-out slums, which obviously do not make sense from an investor’s standpoint. This type of real estate therefore, essentially refers to standard starter homes, which are located in second class neighborhoods- not that great, but good and acceptable. Why Low End Real Estate Investment May Make Sense In the US, a bulk of these types of low end houses go for $3000 to $25000, thereby, favoring owner financing and hard cash buyers. As a matter of fact, a significant number of buyers easily secure owner financing, which translates to steady cash-flow for sellers. Low end real estate also wins when it comes to distress auction (foreclosure, tax) sales. According to astudy conducted by RealtyTrac, 12.7% of all home sales in the third quarter of 2014 came from distresses sales and short sales. With a med......
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The Most Profitable Housing Markets in The US

The Most Profitable Housing Markets in The US
Ok, by now we’ve witnessed the strange fluctuations in the United States markets, which have consequently taken real estate investors on a roller coaster ride through the past couple of decades. In the last 40 years alone, markets experienced overheated home prices in some of the country’s primary metropolitan zones, which ultimately suffered a big blow in the post-recession era, forcing a majority of the investors to begin adjusting and adapting to the progressively changing real estate markets. Although the market has since picked up, nothing is guaranteed. You could invest millions of dollars today, only to watch them grow in a snail’s pace thanks to various unfavorable volatile factors. On the other hand however, you could still put in a couple of thousand bucks in the right markets and smile all the way to the bank, as you watch your money grow into millions. Going by recent predictions by industry experts and invest managers, real estate in the US is undoubtedly a safe bet for both sale and rental properties. According to Lawrence Yun, the National Association of Realtors chief economist, existing home sales will experience a rebound in the next couple of years. He revealed this during the 2014 Realtors Conference and Expo, where he also predicted a 4% rise in the national median existing home price. To benefit from this growth, the key is investing in cities currently experiencing a phenomenal job growth, consequently attracting a large number of prospective buyers and tenants. Going by MarketWatch Catey Hill’s observations, this strategy alone could s......
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