Preparing Your Home to Be a Rental or Investment Property

Below are a dozen tips on preparing your home to be rent-ready.

Some homeowners find themselves unable to sell in today’s market. Some have purchased too recently and their job requires they move before expected. Some purchase homes as long, or short-term investments. All three of these types of home owners may find that preparing the home for rent is the most beneficial for them at this time.

Before jumping the gun and putting the “for rent” ad in the local paper, consider preparing the home for its new occupant carefully

Take a good, long and honest look at the home. If you were forced to take photos of the home right this minute, what would you remove, fix, replace, etc.? A good quality tenant will expect the home to be in excellent working condition and will also expect it to be spotless clean.

Here are a some tips on preparing your home for the rental market:

1. Make necessary repairs and or improvements. You may not mind the inoperable dishwasher but I assure you, a tenant will. If you’re going to provide it, make sure it works. Replace smoke detectors and screens. If your home has a fireplace, have the chimney swept and inspected. Clean out the dryer vent. Checking chimneys and dryer vents regularly will help prevent an avoidable fire hazard. Be sure to eliminate any and all trip hazards or insurance violations.

2. Paint. Yes, I said it. Paint all the interior walls a light neutral color. If you just painted it green last week, paint it light neutral color this week. Seriously. I do not recommend using white paint (except for doors and trim). A light neutral color allows the tenant to better visualize their own belongings in the space. Light neutral color hides normal wear and tear markings better than white paint, which means painting less frequently. Use quality paint so that you can clean the walls later or in between tenants if needed.

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How to Find a Great Property Manager

5 Questions to Help Find a Great Property Manager.

As a Property Manager I meet numerous property owners, who all have varying reasons for needing a property manager. Many that I meet ask a lot of great questions, while others don’t know where to even begin. Property Management for many people is an unfamiliar concept. If you are thinking about searching for a Property Manager for your home, here are some great opening questions to ask during an interview to make sure you find a great Property Manager.

1. “What do you charge, and what is included in your management fees?” This is usually one of the first questions I get asked at every appointment I go on. It’s an important question, but the question itself is not a great question. While knowing how much is charged is important, understanding what is included, and more importantly what is not included, should be explained by the manager. Be sure to get a breakdown of the common services or items that are not covered by the management fees to avoid misunderstood charges.

2. “How is your company structured?” The property management industry generally recognizes 3 different “standard” company structures that most management companies fall into; Portfolio, Departmental, and Hybrid. While you don’t necessarily need to fully understand the ins and outs of each management style, it is important know how the company is set up. Portfolio managers generally employ a manager to handle a certain number of properties, and that manager is responsible for all of the expectations of each property he or she manages. In this setup, you would most likely only have 1 point of contact who should know all of the ins and outs of your property. Under a Departmental structure, each department (think accounting, advertising, leasing, etc) handle groups of responsibilities for the entire portfolio of properties. You may have a singular point of contact, or you may speak to the department that is most relevant to your concerns when reaching out to the company.

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What Does a Property Manager Do Anyway? Part 3 of 3

For the conclusion of our 3-part series on what the typical responsibilities of a property manager include, we will be covering the end of lease turn. This process is one of the most hectic periods and is usually the time when most legal issues can occur. Having the move out process handled correctly and efficiently can save you thousands of dollars in both possible legal costs, vacancy expenses, and damage charges.

The Notice Period:

Delivery or Receipt of Move out Notice: Depending on if the tenant is giving notice to vacate at the end of the lease, or if a forceful move out is being delivered to the tenant, a notice to vacate will be required. The manager will either receive the notice from the tenant, or deliver the notice to the tenant in accordance with the lease provisions. Typically, a 30 day move out notice is required which means that under most circumstances there should be plenty of time make arrangements for the move out. During this time, the manager will be preparing the final charges, estimating the possible repairs and lining up tentative schedules for cleaning, repairs, and any major projects the manager may know about from past inspections. The manager should also be reaching out to the owner of the property to notify her of the house becoming available again. This allows the owner time to prepare financially for any vacancy and repairs needed, as well as to determine if the property should be leased again or if some other possible course should be taken (sales, moving back, etc.).

Listing the Property: As was done in the initial listing of the home, the house should be put back on the market. At this time, a new price evaluation will take place to make sure that the house is still competitively priced, and the advertising process will start again, following the procedures outlined in Part 1 of our guide.

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What Does a Property Manager Do Anyway? Part 2 of 3

In our last article, we reviewed the initial leasing process and what, generally, most property managers go through during the set up, showings, and leasing of a typical home. In this article, we will continue from where we left off and begin covering the day-to-day activities that property managers perform to assist you in easing the burden of owning a rental property.

A tenant moves in, now what?

Rent Collection: Often the most commonly associated task of property managers, rent collection is generally the most frequent action performed by a manager. Each month on the first (or whatever date rent is due as specified by the lease agreement), the manager begins the collection process of rent. In today’s industry, most managers are able to accept credit cards, bank drafts, checks, and other forms of payment from the tenant. When a tenant pays on time, the account ledger is updated and the tenant is given a receipt of the transaction. This is generally all very simple. The trouble occurs when complications arise. When talking about rent collection as a responsibility of the manager to collect, these complications are typically why you want a manager for your property. Once the tenant has exceeded the grace period of the rental due date in the lease agreement, the manager will begin the eviction process against the tenant. If a payment is retuned for insufficient funds, the same process is started. This includes delivery and service of a 3-Day Notice to Pay or Quit, which must be hand delivered to a tenant or placed on the door of the residence. Once served, the tenant must pay the balance owed, plus any applicable late fees by the end of the 3-day period specified in the document. Communication is generally opened with the tenant to work out payment details, and owners are generally notified of the circumstances. If nothing can be worked out or communication is not possible, the eviction process will begin in earnest.

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What Does a Property Manager Do Anyway? Part 1 of 3

Due to the nature of the housing market and the ever-changing economy, many homeowners are finding themselves in new and unfamiliar territory. People everywhere are experiencing job transfers, military relocations, downsizing homes, or just purchasing larger homes and are now having to consider what to do with the home that they are leaving. When they are unable or unwilling to sell, renting becomes a popular option for many. For the homeowner that does not want to manage a rental home themselves, property management is available to assist in more ways than many realize. For many though, the idea and scope of what a property manager does is undefined and sometimes confusing.

Below are the steps most property managers take when managing a home for a homeowner.

The listing: What happens before the tenant moves in?

The Call: Usually the first step in hiring a property manager is the initial phone call or e-mail. Use this time to ask questions about the particular services offered by a manager, their company and policies. This is probably one of the most important steps because the first contact you have with your manager and their company can tell you a lot about who they are. How professional were they on the phone? Did they call you back quickly if you had to leave a message? These questions and others like them can tell you a lot about how the company will communicate with you in the future, and that is the most important thing you can find out early on. If you have problems reaching a company or getting clear answers, be aware of the red flags.

The Appointment: Once you have set up an appointment (if you are still local), the manager or a designated agent will come out to view the property and will generally begin to determine a rental value on the property. It is critical that you use this time to discuss your needs and concerns with a potential manager.

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