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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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Property Managers and Landlords – How to Inspect the Property With Your Tenants

Property Management inspecting Rental Property

Property Managers or Landlords and Tenants should perform a joint inspection of the rental property or rental unit before the tenant moves in. The objective of the inspection is to

a. identify and document the condition of the property
b. check the conditions of the appliances, security systems, heating, air conditioning systems
c. identify common areas
d. identify service areas such as trash, recycling,  newspaper delivery, mail box, club house and pool
e. provide information on utilities such as water, electricity, telephone and cable services

Property Management inspecting Rental Property


At the end of the inspection, Property Managers or Landlords and Tenants should review the check list and sign each page. Property Managers or Landlords should retain the original check list and provide a copy to the tenant. The check list should be updated as repairs are made to the unit, including what and when the repairs were performed. Both the parties should initial any changes to the original check list.
When the tenant moves out, this checklist serves as evidence as to why property management company, landlord or property manager can withhold all or part of a security deposit.

 

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To Sublet or Not to Sublet: A Tenant's Perspective

Throughout the course of my college and young professional years, I moved quite a bit — to new student housing, then back home for the summer, then to a new city for a new job. Throughout the course of these events roommates were shuffled and I encountered several different subletting scenarios, each of which was handled differently. For sake of better understanding a tenant’s reasons for subletting, I thought I would share a couple of the different scenarios that I encountered. Scenario #1: The Summer Sublet I first found myself subletting the summer following my graduation from graduate school. I hadn’t yet landed a job and wasn’t prepared to move back in with my parents, so I found an apartment to sublet in a condominium complex near a local University. I didn’t know the student whose room I was subletting or either of his two roommates, but the place was clean, spacious, and I’d have a balcony off of my room. I was psyched. In this scenario, I simply paid rent to the tenant whose room I was subletting. He asked for a $300 security deposit and then I mailed him a rent check every month for the duration of the summer. I wasn’t in my new place very much and was always quiet and respectful, so the situation worked out great — I even got my security deposit back. That said, I’m pretty sure the property managers had no idea that I was living in the apartment or that it......
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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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Property Management Stories from the Front Lines

We need your help! Throughout the course of writing the Buildium Blog we’ve covered countless property management scenarios. We hope that our property management tips, advice, and best practices have been helpful to your company — at the very least we hope that they have provided you with an opportunity to reflect on the way that your company does business.

We constantly hear stories from property managers — those of you who are out there managing your properties day-in and day-out — pertaining to specific challenges, nightmares, or unique occurrences encountered on the job. Whether your story is funny, horrifying, or enlightening we’d like to give you the opportunity to share. Buildium will now be accepting submissions for our “Property Management Stories from the Front Lines” series of blog posts.

So what do you need to do? Send us an e-mail detailing your story and what you think makes it unique. The best stories will become a series of blog posts on the Buildium Blog, which can then be weighed in on by other industry professionals. In exchange for your story we will highlight your company, your expertise, and your company website at the end of each post. This will provide great visibility for your business, and great discussion points for all of our readers.

Please e-mail submissions to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. We look forward to hearing your story!

-The Buildium Team


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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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10 Property Management Pitfalls

A few weeks ago, we talked about 10 Signs of Property Management Success. This week, we’re going to take a look at the flip side of that coin, reviewing some indicators that it may be time to make some changes (after all, the time for New Years’ resolutions is just around the corner!). Following are a few red flags to keep an eye out for in your property management business. 1. Lack of referrals – This applies to both tenants and property owners. In an ideal scenario, you should be creating a web of referrals that expands year after year. If you’re not, it may mean that: 1) existing tenants and clients aren’t confident enough in your work to refer you or 2) business-building incentive programs are not in place. 2. Haphazard organizational systems – If your office doesn’t have an organizational system in place for things like accounting, rent payment tracking, and maintenance requests, your efficiency and accuracy may be taking a hit. An investment in property management software will pay off big in the long-run. 3. Sporadic maintenance schedule – Staying on top of regular maintenance (like winterizing) and repairs will keep your property value up and your tenants happy. Creating and sticking to an annual maintenance check-list is the most sure-fire way to stay on track. 4. High turn-over – This applies not only to your tenants, but also to your property management staff. While people move on for any number of reasons (both personal and professional) ,......
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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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