Monthly Archives: December 2017

2018 Outdoor Living Trends: Jaw-Dropping Transformations

By Audra Slinkey, Home Staging Resource Outdoor patio spaces have sure changed in the last few years with the onset of new outdoor materials, furnishings, fixtures, Cantina doors, and the home owner’s desire for more outdoor living and entertaining space.  In fact, according to the 2017 National Association of REALTORS’ Profile of Home Staging report, the […]

10 New Year’s Resolutions for Landlords for a Successful & Productive 2018

Each year, you pledge to streamline your operations and management of your rentals; but another year has come and gone, and you’re still not as organized as you’d like to be. You’re still wrangling with overdue repairs and maintenance. Trust me–we’ve all been there.

January 1st is a new beginning. Use it as an opportunity to start fresh. Here are our top 10 New Year’s resolutions for landlords to consider this year:

New Year’s Resolutions for Landlords: #1

Review Your Lease Agreement

When was the last time you looked at your lease agreement? In particular, if you’re still using your state’s standard lease agreement, you should make it a priority to review your lease with your attorney this year. Be sure that the terms of your lease are specific to your rental situation. Carefully tailored leases are a great way to protect your interests.

New Year’s Resolutions for Landlords: #2

Start an Emergency Fund

It’s one thing to have a rainy day fund; it’s another thing to have a rainy day fund that’s dedicated to your rental property alone. Set up a separate account that you’ll be able to draw on solely for expenses related to your rental property; then designate a separate savings account for your personal use.

New Year’s Resolutions for Landlords: #3

Tackle One Long-Overdue Project

Maybe it’s a roof in need of repair. Maybe it’s repairing the back deck. Or maybe it’s a bathroom renovation. Sure, you could probably get away with letting this project slide a few more months–maybe even another year. Inevitably, however, other repairs and maintenance will start to pile up; and before long, you’ll feel overwhelmed. Start by chipping away at one project at a time. When you commit to just one, it feels a lot more manageable.

New Year’s Resolutions for Landlords: #4

Explore Solar

You don’t have to commit to installing solar panels; but have you at least considered it? Not only does solar increase the value of your property, but it can save you hundreds of dollars a year if you pay for your tenants’ utilities. Explore whether your rentals are well-suited for solar, and if so, what type of solar might be the best fit. Look into tax credits and other incentive programs offered by your city, state, or federal government. Your utility provider might offer solar discounts, too.

New Year’s Resolutions for Landlords: #5

Integrate One New Technology

This could be an in-unit technology (such as a Nest thermostat), a new leasing technology (like smart locks for self-showings), or a new technology that helps streamline operations (such as property management software). Real estate technology is evolving at rapid speed. There are several new tools out there to help landlords realize efficiencies and greater returns on their investments.

New Year’s Resolutions for Landlords: #6

Re-Examine All Contracts

It’s easy to fall into a rut and accept the status quo–but when was the last time you took a hard look at your service providers’ contracts? Are you paying the best rates for the quality of service you’re getting? Are you satisfied with that service–or is it time to search for contractors you can really trust? Make it a priority to review all contracts in 2018. Contracts with repair/maintenance vendors, your insurance company, property manager, and accountant are a good place to start.

New Year’s Resolutions for Landlords: #7

Read a New Book

If you’re anything like me, you love to read but just can’t find the time to do so; life just seems to get in the way. In 2018, make it a priority to dust a book off the shelf that you’ve been meaning to read. If you don’t have a book in mind, here are a few suggestions that have been on our radar: Moneyball by Michael Lewis; Cashflow Quadrant by Robert Kiyosaki, and Principles: Life and Work by Ray Dalio.

New Year’s Resolutions for Landlords: #8

Find a Mentor

Whether you’re a first-time landlord or have decades of experience, consider finding a mentor. It’s amazing how much you can learn from others within the industry. Local real estate investing meet-up groups are a great way to source potential mentors (and friends!).

New Year’s Resolutions for Landlords: #9

Spend More Time with Friends & Family

This is particularly important for self-managers, who can quickly become preoccupied with the day-to-day operations at their rental properties. Evenings are spent returning calls and showing vacant units. Weekends are consumed by repairs and maintenance. It can become overwhelming. In 2018, take a moment to pause. Devote more time to family and friends. Our rule of thumb: try to set aside at least two days a month–one day to see family, one day to see friends.

New Year’s Resolutions for Landlords: #10

Consider Hiring a Property Manager

If it feels like you can’t find time for #9 above, then it might be time to consider hiring a property manager. But you like to be a hands-on landlord! We get it. And truth be told, you still can be hands-on. Property managers work under all sorts of arrangements. You may be able to have a property manager help with just finding and screening tenants; or maybe you hire someone to help you with only repairs and maintenance. Property managers can play various roles depending on your needs–make 2018 the year that you explore your options.

Owning rental property can be highly rewarding, but it can also be all-consuming. As a landlord, you really need to operate your rental portfolio like a business if you want to be successful–and like any business owner, that means setting goals and tracking your results over time. Starting with a few New Year’s resolutions is a great way to get started in that direction!

P.S. Wondering what the 2018 real estate market holds for your business? We highly recommend Buildium’s free guide,?What to Watch in 2018: 7 Predictions for the Housing Market & Property Management Industry.

Amanda Maher is a self-proclaimed policy wonk who dabbles in real estate law. Amanda holds a B.S. in Political Science and Sociology from Boston University, as well as a Masters in Urban and Regional Policy from Northeastern.

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Should Landlords Allow a Tenant to Split Rent Payments?

Should landlords allow a tenant to split rent payments? Landlords everywhere struggle with collecting the rent money from their tenants. They have also heard just about every excuse for why the rent is late. Sometimes, tenants offer to make split payments for rent, but is this good for landlords?

Before landlords accept split rent payments, there are several things they need to consider. This video helps explain some of the reasons:

Should Landlords Allow a Tenant to Split Rent Payments?

A split rent payment means that the tenant wants to pay part of the rent on time and the rest of it later in the month. Generally, this is to coincide with a person’s paydays. Some landlords think this is a good idea because the smaller amounts might make it more likely for tenants to pay regularly.

Other landlords might agree to a split rent payment in an emergency situation or accept payment during the eviction process. However, anytime a landlord accepts a tenant’s excuse to delay paying rent, they run a great risk of not getting paid at all. Then, by the time they figure out the tenant won’t be paying, they’ve already lost a few weeks in the eviction process.

What to Do When a Tenant Wants to Split Rent Payments

Landlords need to be consistent with how they deal with tenants and late rent. The standard procedure is that the landlord sets the due date plus any grace period allowed by the state. If the tenant does not have the rent in full by that time, the landlord creates a pay or quit notice. This notice should be delivered to the tenant according to state law.

It’s all too common for landlords to give in to a tenant’s excuses and demands. Unfortunately, then they constantly get taken advantage of. That’s because the landlord has shown they can be persuaded into something. Once they give in for one area, tenants often push back in other areas. It’s best for landlords to stay resolute in things like deadlines and not give in. Not only is it bad for business, it can taint the landlord/tenant relationship.

The bottom line is that when tenants give excuses for paying the rent late, it should be a warning sign to landlords that they may be looking at months and months of late rent. For most savvy landlords, they don’t allow a tenant to split rent payments.

The post Should Landlords Allow a Tenant to Split Rent Payments? appeared first on RentPrep.

#187 Investing In Small Town Rentals with Josh Randall

Josh is our guest on the podcast and he has a really interesting story when it comes to rental properties. People may not think of Kentucky as a real estate hot bed but Josh has done extremely well buying up cheap rental properties, fixing them up and cash flowing into the next property.

He’s bough some rentals for less than $10,000 because his market is so cheap. He shares his story and experiences of buying rentals in a smaller market.

Check out this episode of the RentPrep For Landlords podcast

The post #187 Investing In Small Town Rentals with Josh Randall appeared first on RentPrep.

Should Landlords Allow the Tenant to Paint the Rental?

Landlords are always looking for ways to save time and money. Sometimes, it seems like a good idea to allow a tenant to paint the rental. From just one room to several in the rental property, painting may seem like a good idea because it means the tenants bear the cost and do the work.

Before landlords think about giving tenants permission to paint, there are several things they need to consider.

Why Landlords Shouldn’t Allow the Tenant to Paint the Rental

No tenant will care as much about a rental property as the owner or landlord does. This means that most tenants will do just enough to stay out of trouble with the landlord and won’t put in any extra effort to keep the unit nice. As a general rule, this happens with paint privileges.

Painting a room is more difficult than it appears to be. Amateur painters don’t know what it takes to make a paint job look good. This means the rooms they paint in the unit will generally fall short of a landlord’s standards.

Many landlords also discover that tenants usually get paint on areas they didn’t mean to, such as carpet, hardwood floors, windows and counter tops. They may also put paint into the sinks and cause problems with the plumbing.

It’s a good idea for landlords to include language in the lease agreement that prohibits the tenants from painting the unit if that’s how they feel.

Here’s a video of some experts talking about whether or not to allow a tenant to paint the rental:

Alternatives to Letting Tenants Paint the Rental

There are some landlords that recognize that if tenants are allowed to personalize their space, they are more likely to stay. The tenants are also more likely to feel some ownership and take better care of the unit. That’s why some landlords offer a few alternatives instead of allowing tenants to paint the rental.

One option is to allow the tenants to choose from an approved color palette for an accent wall in a bedroom or living room. The landlord makes the arrangements with a professional painter and passes some or all of the cost to the tenant. Some landlords do this as a lease renewal incentive for good tenants.

Another option is for the landlords to approve removable wallpaper. This commercially available decorative adhesive product sticks to the wall like wallpaper but peels off with no damage. With many colors and patterns available, removable wallpaper is a good compromise between landlords that don’t want paint and tenants that want to liven up the decor.

If the tenant paints without landlord permission, the cost to repaint should be taken from the security deposit and counted as damages to the rental property.

The post Should Landlords Allow the Tenant to Paint the Rental? appeared first on RentPrep.

The Forecast: 2018 Trends in Staging

By Mary Purcell, MoneyGeek.com Home staging has gone mainstream and is now widely used to make a home more attractive to potential buyers. According to a 2017 survey by the National Association of REALTORS®, a majority of real estate professionals believe staging increases the sale price of the home anywhere from 1 to 15 percent. […]

5 Tips for Landlords for a Stress-Free Holiday Season

Could you use a vacation? Once the holidays wind down, it’s the perfect time to get away–but seasonal hazards like winter storms, freezing temperatures, and residential fires may have you feeling apprehensive about leaving your property at risk.

As you work hard to ensure that your residents have a safe and stress-free holiday, it’s easy to feel like you’re stretched too thin to take a break. We’re here to help you carve out time for the things that are important to you, whether that means quality time with your family or a well-earned vacation. While your properties can require your attention at any hour of the day or night–weekends and holidays included–it doesn’t need to prevent you from taking the time you need to renew your energy and motivation.

Here are 5 tips for a low-stress holiday season that you can put into action today (so you can make sure you get the break you deserve)!

Tips for Landlords During Holiday Season: #1

Invest in Preventative Maintenance

Start by asking residents what needs fixing rather than waiting for them to call in emergency repairs. Have furnaces, smoke alarms, boilers, fireplaces, roofs, and other key points of failure inspected ASAP. Insulate pipes in exterior walls, trim tree branches, clear out your gutters, drain outdoor spigots, and take other precautionary winterization steps before winter’s in full force.

Tips for Landlords During Holiday Season: #2

Help Residents to Help You

Residents are your eyes and ears for issues like frozen pipes, power outages, and failing appliances. Keep them in the loop so they can help you to prevent issues–for instance, by leaving cabinet doors open to warm pipes on exterior walls. Make sure they know how to get ahold of you if problems do arise, and that you have up-to-date contact information for each household as well.

Tips for Landlords During Holiday Season: #3

Stay on Top of Safety

Reach out to residents with guidelines for kitchen and space heater safety. Holiday meal prep and space heater usage are disproportionately responsible for residential fires, which unfortunately peak on Thanksgiving and Christmas. In addition, remind residents to keep Christmas trees well-hydrated and away from heat sources, which can also result in fires. Last, be sure to test all smoke and carbon monoxide alarms, replacing batteries and swapping out expired devices.

Tips for Landlords During Holiday Season: #4

Contact Your Contractors

If you haven’t already, be sure to find contractors you can trust and line up service contracts for snow clearing today–before the worst of winter weather is upon us. If you wait until a storm hits, your contractors’ other clients will take priority, leaving you and your residents out in the cold. Make sure to have a supply of de-icing chemicals and shovels on hand for residents to use, too.

Tips for Landlords During Holiday Season: #5

Don’t Go it Alone

Above all else: Consider hiring a property manager to tackle your entire to-do list, for the coming season and beyond. This year, you could spend your time enjoying your loved ones’ company rather than worrying about what’s going on at your rental properties and troubleshooting issues. To find the perfect property manager for you (wherever your neck of the woods might be), just visit All Property Management’s website.

P.S. If you liked this post, we bet you’ll enjoy this, too: 10 New Year’s Resolutions for Landlords for a Successful & Productive 2018.

Robin Burinskiy is the Senior Content Writer and Managing Editor for the All Property Management Blog and Buildium Blog. She cut her teeth as a marketing copywriter at Wayfair and TechTarget, and she spends her free time perfecting her lifestyle blog, Feather & Flint. She holds degrees in psychology, sociology, and songwriting.

The post 5 Tips for Landlords for a Stress-Free Holiday Season appeared first on APM.

How To Handle Dirty Carpets With Tenants?

When a tenant moves out, landlords must perform a thorough inspection to assess damages. One of the most common areas of a rental unit that shows plenty of wear and tear is the carpeting. It’s impossible for carpeting to stay perfectly clean, but who is responsible for cleaning it? In other words, how should landlords handle dirty carpets with tenants.

Here is a RentPrep video where some experts discuss carpet cleaning and tenant responsibility:

Use the Lease Agreement to Handle Dirty Carpets With Tenants

Landlords should be clear up front about who has the responsibility of cleaning the carpets. The best way to do this is to include language in the lease agreement. The wording should also address how and when the carpet should be cleaned.

Some landlords prefer to make arrangements with their own carpet cleaning companies. They usually schedule the company to come with their truck-mounted system within a day or so of the tenant moving out. Other landlords prefer that the tenant makes the arrangements for professional carpet cleaning.

It’s a good idea to send a departing tenant a reminder of the information in the lease agreement and what they need to do to properly vacate.

Don’t Let Tenants Handle Dirty Carpets On Their Own

Leaving carpet cleaning up to the tenant may be a mistake. If landlords don’t specify how and when the carpets need cleaned, it may not meet their expectations.

For example, many hand-operate carpet cleaners don’t have the power to properly extract the waste water from the carpet. this leaves shampoo residue behind. All it takes is a few days of foot traffic to see that the carpet gets dirty quickly.

If landlords are not clear about carpet cleaning, the tenant may mistakenly think that it is not their responsibility. Then they will be upset when the cost of carpet cleaning is deducted from their security deposit.

Successful landlords must be clear about how the carpets must be cleaned. They should also be sure that the tenant understands who is responsible for ensuring clean carpeting in the rental unit.

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The All Property Management Blog: Editorial Guidelines for Contributors & Frequently Asked Questions

Hi there! I’m Robin Burinskiy, and I manage the All Property Management and Buildium blogs. If you’re interested in writing for our blogs, you’re in the right place! Here’s everything you need to know.

What Does APM Do?

All Property Management is the largest online network of property managers, and it has been a part of Buildium since 2015. APM enables homeowners to connect with property managers who can help them to keep their properties running smoothly and remove stressful tasks from their plates.

Who Reads the APM Blog?

The homeowners who find property managers through APM are not full-time industry professionals. Our blog and weekly newsletter provide advice to two groups of people: Landlords and homeowners associations/condo boards. Some posts are specific to just landlords or HOAs, while others apply to both.

  • Landlords: Many of our readers are “accidental landlords.” They may have inherited property that they’re unable to sell; or they’ve decided to rent out a home that they used to live in. They’re not real estate investors or full-time landlords–so we give them basic tips on how to be a better landlord, while encouraging them to hire a property manager to help out.
  • HOAs: Other readers are board members of homeowners associations (HOAs) and condo associations (COAs). They are non-expert volunteers who help to run the communities where they live in their free time.
  • The difference between the APM and Buildium audiences is that APM readers are non-professional and non-full-time landlords and HOA board members; while Buildium readers tend to be professional, full-time property managers. Landlords and HOA members own the properties that they run, while property managers manage other people’s properties.

The Writing, Editing & Posting Process

Posting Frequency

  • We accept guest posts about once or twice a month. Feel free to submit pitches to me, and I’ll let you know what the availability is for new posts in a given month on the editorial calendar.
  • I also manage the Buildium blog, which you can learn more about here. You can focus on writing for one blog in particular or alternate between the two depending on the topic. I’ll help you choose which blog a particular idea is best for.

Choosing Topics

Compensation

First, I like to get one “test” article so we can both try things on for size and see if we want to continue working together. After that, our standard rate is $100 per article. For pieces that require more than a standard amount of research, this rate has a little wiggle room.

Pitching Ideas

  • The first step is to send me several pitches for articles you’d like to write. I’ll select my favorite story ideas, give you any feedback that I might have on them, slot them into the editorial calendar for either blog, and send you on your way to start writing.
  • You should also let me know how many articles you’d like to write each month, and by what approximate dates you think they’d be ready. Be specific if possible, but if we’re working several months out, just give me your best estimate.

Submitting the Post

File Type & Contact Info: You can email the post to me at robin.burinskiy@buildium.com as a Word file or Google doc.

Author Bios: If it’s your first time writing for us, include a headshot and short bio, which will appear at the bottom of your post. You can also include your social media handles or website.

Deadlines:

  • Posts for the APM blog should be in my inbox 5 days from the launch date (e.g. if it’s going live on Friday, 1/26, it should be in my inbox by the end of the day on Monday, 1/22).
  • During holiday weeks, I make these deadlines a day or two earlier to accommodate days off; you can find all specific deadlines for each post in the APM Editorial Calendar.
  • These deadlines are the latest possible time by which you should send me the post; sending it earlier is always appreciated!
  • If you’re going to miss a deadline, let me know as far in advance as possible. I’m very understanding and can generally move deadlines around to accommodate anything that comes up in your life–but if you don’t let me know what’s going on in advance, or if you consistently let deadlines drift by without explanation, I can’t help but assume the worst.

Timelines: Once you submit a post, the length of time before it goes live can vary. This depends on how full the editorial calendar is in a given month, and how time-sensitive the content is. You can refer to the APM Editorial Calendar for relatively up-to-date information on when a post will go live.

Editing the Post

Once you send a post to me, your work is generally done! I make minor edits to the copy, formatting, and SEO, then upload the post to WordPress.

To cut down on the amount of edits I’ll need to make (and make me like you even more), here are some tips:

Proofreading: This should go without saying, but please proofread your posts before you send them to me! I go through posts with a fine-tooth comb; but the less time that I have to spend on your posts, the happier I’ll be–and the more writing opportunities you’re likely to get from us in the future.

Length: I don’t set strict minimum or maximum word counts. What you should always keep in mind is that our readers are busy people who are often reading articles on the fly. They’re often skimming a post that they saw on social media while they wait for a contractor to show up, or quickly scanning search results to figure out how to resolve issues as they arise. Use as few or as many words as it takes to answer a question–not so few as to leave out pertinent information, but not so many as to bore or frustrate our busy readers. For topics that require extensive, exhaustive explanations, I’ll often split the content across several serial posts.

Tone: The primary purposes of our content are to make property managers’ lives easier, and to let them know that we understand them. As such:

  • Our tone should be empathetic and down-to-earth.
  • Posts should be both interesting to experts, and easy for a layperson to understand.
  • We give helpful tips and expert advice, not condescending commands.
  • The words that we choose should be practical and precise, not pretentious or flowery.
  • Humor can be used periodically to communicate that we understand the struggles they face every day, but it shouldn’t be harsh or cynical.
  • First-person perspectives should only be used if you have relevant personal experience in the industry–and even then, personal stories should be rare, so that our content seems as objective as possible.
  • We try to steer clear of politics with the understanding that our readers fall on all sides of the spectrum. When we do cover political topics–for example, the impact of tax policy on the housing market–we aim to do so in an objective, unbiased way. Keep in mind that our goal is not to cover current events–it’s to explain how these goings-on impact property managers.

Format:

  • Short paragraphs and bulleted lists with plenty of headings are a great way to make posts easier to digest. “Listicles” are always welcome.
  • Sections should be separated by a center-justified em dash (–).

Headings: Our readers are often skimming posts for pertinent information on the go rather than poring over in-depth articles at their desk, so the more easily digestible the post is, the better. Use text sizes or H1/H2/H3/H4 notes to denote headings and sub-headings for every section. Headings should be center-justified. Here are a few examples of articles with good use of headings:

SEO: You are more than welcome to do keyword research and optimize your posts on your own–in fact, I might even cry tears of joy if you do. Feel free to email me with any questions on SEO keywords for a particular topic, and I can help you to figure out what works best for our audience.

Punctuation: We use the em dash (–) and the Oxford comma (1, 2, and 3).

Titles: Catchy titles are nearly as important as the content itself! A good title accurately summarizes the post in an enticing, concise way (bonus points if it’s clever, too!). Feel free to send me a few title options if you can’t pick just one. Things that work well: Numbers, questions, “how to.” Here are some examples of good titles:

  • When Should Landlords Start Thinking About Taxes? (Hint: It’s Never Too Early)
  • 5 Legal Mistakes That Land Inexperienced Landlords in Hot Water
  • Are Your Residents’ Checks at Risk? Here’s How to Secure Your Drop Box
  • How to Fill Vacant Units: 5 Steps to Take ASAP (Plus 1 to Avoid!)

Capitalization: For APM blog posts, every word (other than articles) are capitalized–e.g. “10 Key Performance Metrics Every Property Manager Should Track.”

Links:

  • Outbound links:?All outbound links should be to reputable sources–e.g. Inman and Forbes, not Wikipedia or personal blogs.
  • In-text links:?Use in-text links for all statistics and assertions.
  • Inbound links:?You will get major bonus points if you link to Buildium or All Property Management blog posts in your articles! Try doing a quick search on each blog to find relevant posts.

Call to Action: Blog posts should end with a call to action for readers to sound off on the topic in the comment section.

Any questions?

APM blog contributors are always welcome to email me at robin.burinskiy@buildium.com.

The post The All Property Management Blog: Editorial Guidelines for Contributors & Frequently Asked Questions appeared first on APM.