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Top Picks of Where to go for Valentines Day in Columbus

Valentine’s Day is the one day a year that couples celebrate their connection. Dedicating the day to sharing joy and rebuilding connection with your partner in life is a way to celebrate the commitment. Of course, the pressure to make the day memorable adds additional pressure that leads to feeling overwhelmed in planning something amazing. Don’t worry, making Valentine’s Day an amazing adventure that is sure to spark the magic touch is right at your fingertips. Below are some tips to ensure the day shines brightly.

The first stop is JP’s Valentine’s Day dinner and plane ride adventure. Each year, JP’s hosts a Valentine’s BBQ that features dinner, karaoke, and even a plane ride. Cost per couple starts at $179 dollars. They even offer lower rates for couples that just want to join the party atmosphere.

Another adventure to explore is found at the Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Garden. The conservatory offers a nature infused adventure to explore and enjoy being a couple. The sights and sounds bring any couple to life with the unexpected. Explore the conservatory and discover the exhibitions, cafe, and hot shop that provides demonstrations by master glass-blowers. In February, the conservatory even offers a hand’s-on cooking demonstration to bring a couple even closer together. Those who cook together, stay together.

German Village is another must see adventure that brings a historic vision to life while strolling hand-in-hand on brick sidewalks. Antique shops, water fountains, and beautiful historic homes will capture your attention. However, German Village also boasts of one of Columbia’s top ten restaurants, Lindsey’s. Enjoy the romantic New York bistro cuisine while sitting among white linen and hardwood floors. Sure to make any Valentine’s Day special.

For those couples looking for an overnight retreat, Ravenwood Castle is a must. Come explore a romantic getaway where every room is a new adventure. At Ravenwood Castle you can stay in King Arthur’s Suite, Rapunzel’s Tower, or even The Duke’s Dungeon. Each room will take your retreat to another level of fun and adventure. They offer an on site dining option; however, many other fine restaurants are also available in the area.

If a couple is looking forward to stepping away from life for a moment to just enjoy being together, Hideaway Country Inn is the perfect spot. Imagine playing a life-sized game of chess or relaxing in a hammock built for two. They offer romantic packages guaranteed to bring back a spark to your relationship. Many of these packages offer couples massage therapy, romantic meals, roses, and extended check-out hours so you can linger in your retreat. If your goal is to completely infuse a relationship with romance and playful banter, then Hideaway Country Inn is a great choice.

For the wine connoisseur couple, Columbus Ohio offers a wide range of wineries that offer venues for couples to enjoy relaxing together while sharing their passion for wine. You can either find your favorite winery and linger or explore the many options nearby. Some of the wineries even offer dining options.

Now perhaps enjoying an exquisite steak in a fine atmosphere is more appealing to your Valentine’s Day pallet. Columbus offers an excellent range of fine dining to fulfill that need. The Top Steak House, The Claremont, Eddie’s Merlot, and Mitchell’s Steakhouse offer an amazing range of steaks guaranteed to meet the expectations of most steak connoisseurs. However, be sure to make plans because these restaurants are always in high demand.

For the nature enthusiastic couple, the Grange Insurance Audubon Center offers a unique adventure to explore the outdoors. Bring a romantic lunch to share and spend the day looking for birds and walking along trails designed to relax.

Many options are available in Columbus to make your Valentine’s Day memorial and enjoyable. Be creative, think about what you most want to achieve during your special day, then dazzle your significant other with your thoughtfulness in finding a memorable, romantic way to spend the day. For more tips contact us.

5 Upgrades to Make Your Rental Property Worth More

Upgrading Your Rental Properties:

Renting can be a tricky business. In today’s market, people have more options than ever of who they rent from and how much they pay each month. When a renter is deciding which property to rent they simply want the best value for their money.  They want something clean, modern, and up-to-date, and attractive that suits their lifestyle. While you can’t change the size of the property you are renting or how much yard space is provided, there are many things you can control that will up what you can charge a tenant each month. 

5 of those top things that can really help up the price you rent the property for each month:

  • Landscaping: Potential renters will receive their first impressions of the property before they even walk through the front door. That’s what they call “curb appeal”. You would be amazed what a simple new fresh, layer of mulch or some new flowers being planted outside as a landscaping upgrade can perk up the look of the home making it look more appealing, welcoming, and friendly for just a small investment of as little as a few hundred dollars per property.
  • Upgrade Appliances: The appliances in a rental property are vital to being able to demand top dollar. Having appliances that are reliable and easy to use are important to help ensure that the property is a comfortable place for your client to rent. This means ensuring that all appliances are in good working order and are modern in their ability to deliver top-of-the-line effective experiences to the tenant. Your appliances will include everything from the microwave to the oven or dishwasher to the washer and dryer units and back again. Ensuring you have quality appliances ensure that you are getting the money your rental property is worth.
  • Counter, Cabinet & Flooring Upgrades: Upgrading the interior of the property can help raise the value of what you can ask someone to pay the property. Wooden floors, granite counter tops, and dark oak woodwork can all upgrade the look and the asking price for rental of the property. These might be somewhat costly upgrades but they will pay off in the long run. Moreover, when choosing cabinetry to make sure there is plenty of storage as that is also a hot commodity in a rental property that can allow you to demand more for your property.
  • Fixtures: Upgrading the “little stuff” like door knobs, cabinet handles, faucet fixtures, etc. will help make the property look more “top end” and inviting. Adding any little additions to the property that makes it look more luxurious and lavish will help potential tenants be impressed with the finishings and will be willing to pay more for the property than they would for a property with outdated fixtures that make the property look old and unkempt.
  •  Clean Clean Clean the Property: Hiring cleaning professionals to come in between tenants to ensure that the property is clean and pristine before showing it to the next potential tenant. Tenants want to live in a sanitary environment and will be willing to pay a premium price to do so. Hiring someone to get the place in top shape and someone who will ensure the place is in good repair can help ensure you are showing your property at its best to help demand top dollar for those wanting to rent the property out. The cleaner the property is the more money you can demand from a tenant wanting to rent the property. 

For more information on how to ensure that you are getting top dollar for your rental property please be sure to contact us.

A Different Way to Look at Buying Your Second Home.

Buying your first home is often a combination of hard work, financial fortitude, and a certain amount of necessity. You find a place you like within the limitations of what you can save up for and afford to pay for monthly. Buying your second home, on the other hand, is most often an act of financial freedom. Your career has moved forward, your savings deepened, and your ability to financial commit has grown considerably. You can now afford the house of your dreams or even build a new one if you wanted to. The only question is what you’ll do with your old house.

Selling May Not Be the Answer

The vast majority of people assume that they’ll have to sell their first home when buying a second and the idea of getting the lump sum after the sale is pretty exciting. What they’re not thinking of is the hassle of emptying, staging, finding buyers, and negotiating between them and actually seeing the money. Not to mention the legal rigamarole and the capital gains tax which will take a 15% bite out of any appreciated value since the home was purchased.

There is, however, another option that has the potential to completely cover the remaining mortgage, if any, and create a steady passive income for the rest of your life. Once you’ve moved into your new house, you have a rare and valuable opportunity to easily become an investment property owner and landlord.

Owning Investment Property

Investment property is any land or buildings you own that can be used to make a profit rather than serving as your primary residence. While these can be office buildings or even agricultural property, the most common form of investment property is homes. Most people start small, just like you, with an extra home they either inherited or recently grew out of. Rather than selling the home they didn’t plan on living in, the owners decide to rent it out to families who need rental housing.

The best thing about investment property is that it quickly becomes passive income that you don’t have to work for, especially if you factor in a property management service for maintenance, landscaping, and repairs. In most cases, a reasonable rent is enough to cover any remaining mortgage payment, a property manager, and still leave you with a bit of monthly profit that, over time, can really build up. People often use investment property as a retirement plan because once the mortgage is paid, that income will turn into hundreds of dollars in profits every month.

The Vacation Rental Option

Of course, normal housing rental isn’t your only option. In most neighborhoods, if you’re willing to put in a little more time and investment in furnishing and stocking a property with amenities, you can rent it for fantastically more per night and month as a vacation rental home. Platforms like Airbnb and VRBO allow investment property owners to book their furnished properties by the night as an alternative to crowded, impersonal hotels. Your guests get the benefit of a quiet residential neighborhood, privacy, and a full kitchen and you get $60 to $1000 per night depending on the size and luxury of your listing. Many property managers even offer a special service for vacation rental properties.

When buying a second home, selling the first is always an option but it may not be your best one. Keeping the home as a rental investment property saves you the hassle of the selling process, provides decades of passive income, creates a retirement plan, and builds your net worth. If you find you love being an investment property owner, you might even find yourself picking up more homes to rent or, if you don’t, the option to sell is always available. For more tips and tricks on managing your residential property, contact us today!

3 Ways to Save Money Maintaining Your Rental Property

Managing a rental property is a complex task requiring a number of considerations every year to keep the house in top quality without spending too much or intruding on the tenants more than necessary. Even if you regularly check in with the tenants to confirm that everything is working well for them, without actual preventative maintenance steps, disaster can strike that your tenants simply didn’t see coming. To avoid these problems and the costs that all too often come along with them, we have put together three helpful tips on saving money through preventative rental property maintenance.

1) Check for Early Signs of Water Damage

First and foremost, water damage is your biggest enemy. It’s silent, sneaky, and does a lot more than get things soggy. Anything allowed to remain moist too long can begin to grow dangerous mold, soften, rot, and then attract insects who like living in rotting houses. Leaks can happen in your attic, basement, bathrooms, kitchen, and even from the pipes in the walls so it’s important to occasionally inspect the house for early signs of water damage. Your primary checks should be under sinks and around water fixtures but don’t forget to look for pooling water in the ceiling, damp spots on the walls or floor, and signs that the roof might be leaking into the attic. Any signs of leaks should be hunted down and fixed immediately.

While we’re on water damage, also make a careful inspection of the grout and calking in the bathrooms and kitchen. Water splashes around a lot on these rooms and the sealant between the walls and tiles is important to keep the rest of the house safe. If there are any chips or gaps, repair them promptly.

2) Change the Filters Regularly

Anything in your house that runs on filters, from the water heater to the furnace, should have its filters changed regularly based on the advised maintenance schedule. When appliances try to run with a dirty filter, not only is this unsanitary for the tenants, it also forces the machine to work harder for the same results because the clogged filter slows down the flow of air or water. This makes them more likely to break, and new filters are much cheaper than repairs or replacements. Filters usually have their lifespans printed right on the package so it should be easy to determine how frequently you need to change them.

3) Prevent Pests with Biannual Extermination

The final nemesis of any homeowner or property manager is pests. Primarily insects, but sometimes also including birds and rodents, pests invade your home and can cause serious damage to the structure in their effort to dig in and build their own habitat. Bugs birds and mice are all perfectly fine- outside and you can keep them there by spraying long-lasting poison about twice a year. This will keep the termites, wood and, roaches, and mice out of your walls and away from your tenants.

Simply give your tenants plenty of forward warning about your intent to poison, then create a solid exterior perimeter. Spray the entire base of the house along with any doorway thresholds and windowsills to ensure there is no way for bugs to get in. If there is an unfinished basement, you may want to spray this as well.

Maintaining a rental home is a big responsibility but it doesn’t have to be a big expense as well. With the right preventative maintenance steps, you should be able to keep the property in top condition and pleasing to your paying tenants for many years to come. For more ways to save money on your rental property, contact us today.

What Qualities to Look For in a Long Term Rental Tenant

As a landlord, when you’re renting out your investment properties there are two kinds of tenants. There are those that come and go quickly, staying only one or two short lease durations before moving on, and those who make their home in one of your residences, often seeking longer lease terms. While the first sort often departs too quickly to learn much about them, the personalities and tenant behaviors of your long term rental tenants matters a great deal. Ideally, you want tenants who treat the property with respect, work actively with your property manager on maintenance tasks, and are a joy to their neighbors but how do you make sure that that’s who you’re getting? After all, you don’t want to end up with someone you’ll eventually have to evict for bad behavior.

If you’re looking for a long-term tenant to settle down in one or more of your rental properties, someone who will treat both you and the home with respect, the key is tenant screening. There are ways to tell how well each person or family will behave in a rented property based on their personal and rental histories. Every person you consider for a long-term lease should come up with all positive results when you check their

  • Background Check
  • Credit Check
  • Rental History
  • Job History
  • Landlord References
  • Sufficient Income
  • Plans for Residence

Running a Background and Credit Check

Before allowing a tenant to sign a long-term lease, it’s important to know exactly what you’re dealing with, including things you know someone would rather not tell you. While a background and credit check may be personal information, they will reveal important insights about someone who could potentially be living in your property for many years in the future. You’re looking for someone with a clean criminal background and a strong credit score. Both will give you a good idea of how your prospective tenant lives their life.

Rental History and Landlord References

One of the most important parts of your due diligence is to check out a tenant’s rental history. How responsible has the tenant been in the past and what do their previous landlords have to say about them? Late rent payments, evictions, and filed complaints will all show up in their official rental history, giving you an idea of how they traditionally treat rental properties. You can also call up their previous landlords to ask how they were personally. While glowing recommendations are always a plus, a tenant who left little to no impression at all is also a great sign that they left the property exactly as they found it.

Job History and Income

A persons job history is one of the most revealing details about them. It reveals where they’ve worked and, more importantly, for how long at each location. Someone who changes jobs frequently may also be unstable and might change jobs again soon, indicating that their income may also be unstable. If they do have a stable income, you should also make sure that it is at least three times your asking rent or that they have a qualified co-signer.

Plans for Residence

Your final layer of screening is a simple practicality test. Do they have reasonable intentions for how they plan to live on your property? Make sure that if they have pets, they conform to the pet clause in your lease. If they have family, that there is room for everyone in the home. If they have a job location, that your house is not an impractical distance away. In most cases, tenants will have a perfectly reasonable plan, but it never hurts to check.

If your potential tenant passes every test with flying colors, then they are a great candidate for a long term renter. Chances are that they will be well behaved, responsible, and will help your property manager keep the home in good condition for the duration of their extended stay. For more helpful landlord and property management tips, contact us today!

Is Your Vacation Rental Property Ready for the Holiday Season?

November marks the beginning of the official Holiday season, a time when families all over the world begin visiting each other for enormous shared meals and celebrations. From Thanksgiving to New Years, people will be traveling anywhere from five to three thousand miles to visit relatives and spend a few days or weeks relaxing on leftover feast sandwiches. While some people will pile into their grandparent’s spare bedroom happily, this is the best possible season for vacation rentals and competition will be fierce as families search sites like Airbnb and VRBO for cozy residential locations where they can stay without all the hassle of a busy hotel. How does your vacation rental property stand up against the local competition?

What the Guests are Looking For

The key to successful holiday vacation rental is to understand your guests and know what they’re looking for. What makes one listing superior to another is often a matter of decor, amenities, and features rather than space or even location. This means that even if your rental property is nicely appointed you could stay booked solid this season with a few simple tips and tricks.

1) Amenities and Forgotten Items

There is a very good reason why hotels leave out soaps, cups, shampoo, and conditioner and sell things like toothbrushes in the gift shop. When packing for a vacation, most people have a dozen different things on their minds and something is always forgotten. The best way to make a vacation rental home appealing is to ensure that even if your guests forgot everything but a change of clothes, they could still stay comfortably for a few days.

  • Towels (more than 5)
  • Hand Soap, Bath Soap, Shampoo and Conditioner (number of guests considered)
  • Washer/Dryer access
  • Extra Bedding (kids = accidents)
  • Anything else you think would be helpful

 

2) Professionally Maintained and Cleaned

Of course, no matter how well you arrange your vacation rental, the true mark of quality is how nicely it’s kept between tenants. Many vacation rental property owners hire a vacation rental service including cleaning and property management. A cleaning service means that no matter what you’re up to between guests, someone will always be available to clean the property between guests to the high standards of the hospitality industry. A property manager, on the other hand, can help you take care of the building itself, be on-call to help guests in an emergency, and inspect after a guest leaves to ensure no damage was done during their stay.

3) A Helpfully Stocked Kitchen

One of the reasons people choose vacation rentals over hotel rooms is the convenience of having a kitchen. This allows guests to save money on restaurant bills, store and reheat holiday leftovers, or maintain their normal diet while on vacation. One of the most helpful and appealing things you can do is to ensure that the kitchen is fully stocked with everything they won’t have remembered.

  • Pots and Pans
  • Drinking glasses and a Filter Pitcher
  • Plates and Bowls
  • Silverware and Knives
  • Spatula and Wooden Spoon
  • Salt, Pepper, and Basic Spices
  • Complimentary Snacks or Fruit

4) Host Book

The host book isn’t anything fancy, but it’s one of the most welcoming features a vacation rental property can have. It’s usually a small binder with a few pages starting with a warmly written welcoming letter from the host. Other information might include a guide on how to set up the wifi and use the TV remote, suggestions for local venues, a fire escape plan, and emergency contact numbers including your property manager for any necessary repairs during their stay.

While holiday decorations are a nice touch, the real magic of vacation rentals lies in recreating all the luxury and convenience of staying at home. You might be surprised how much expert management, amenities, and kitchen supplies make a difference for your guests. And, of course, if you need new staging pictures for your holiday property rejuvenation, talk to your property managers. They’re often experts at staging. For more vacation rental tips and tricks, contact us today!

How a Property Management Company Can Save You From A Nightmare Tenant

Dan and Lara Carroll spent months fixing up a single-family home they’d purchased from Dan’s mother’s estate. They installed new appliances, upgraded the HVAC system and wiring and transformed the modest, fenced backyard into a relaxing, low-maintenance landscape. The home had previously been retrofitted with ADA-compliant features, and the couple decided that their ideal tenant would be an active senior.

They placed an ad online, narrowed the candidates to two favorites, and after running a cursory background check and placing a couple calls to check references, they settled on a widow in her late 70s who moved to the area to be closer to her adult son’s family. (We’ll call her “Mrs. Jones”.)

“She was a very nice lady, the type to dress nicely just to go to the corner store,” said Lara Carroll. “Her husband had passed away the year before, she’d sold their home and, from what we could tell, her affairs were in order. Solid credit, good personal references—though no recent rental history, of course—and she clearly had a sense of dignity and self-respect. We were glad to have her sign a lease and happy that we were able to provide a well-equipped and safe place for her to live.”

The lease the tenant signed was a standard form the couple had downloaded from the internet.

Everything went well for the first several months. Dan and Lara went by for scheduled yard maintenance and normal repairs, and when they did, the tenant would make a point to be around. “I think she liked the company,” Dan said. “She wasn’t seeing her son as much as she had expected, but you know how Moms complain that they never see enough of their kids.”

The Carrolls didn’t mind handling some of the maintenance tasks typically expected of tenants, and Mrs. Jones welcomed the monthly appointments when Dan or Lara would change the furnace filter, clean gutters or maintain the grounds. Mrs. Jones kept a spotless house, but she was gradually having mobility issues. “Nothing serious; she kept a cane handy, and had some minor tremors, but we thought she had years of independence ahead of her,” said Lara. “We really enjoyed her, and felt good about being able to keep an eye on her.” She added that they had the extra benefit of keeping an eye on the property and staying ahead of household problems before they could get worse. “We’d get a check from her by the first of each month, and we’d see her on the Saturday closest to the 15th. We assumed she checked in with her family as well.”

One day, when Lara called to confirm what had become a routine monthly visit, a man answered the phone. He introduced himself as Tom, Mrs. Smith’s son, and he told Mrs. Carroll that his mother was out. After Lara asked Tom to remind his mother of their standing visit, this time to change out the water and furnace filters, there was an awkward silence. “He then said, ‘no, we’re good, I can do it, but thanks.” He then hung up. Two weeks later, Mrs. Smith’s check failed to arrive.

Thus began the Carroll’s nightmare. Mrs. Smith’s landline was disconnected when they called to ask about the late payment, and when they drove by to check on her, nobody answered the door, but there was a utility trailer parked in the driveway, and Mrs. Carroll’s Toyota was parked on the curb with a “For Sale” sign in the window. The Carroll’s recorded the unfamiliar number and called. Tom answered, and then hung up when Dan identified himself.

That night, the Carrolls decided to call the police and request a welfare check. They were concerned about Mrs. Smith and wanted to be certain that the person who called himself “Tom” was, indeed, her son. The police got back in touch with the Carrolls and confirmed his identity. The police said Mrs. Carroll was in the hospital and that the son was house-sitting, and that he’d look after his mother when she was discharged. However, due to patient confidentiality, the officer couldn’t disclose the name of the hospital caring for Mrs. Smith or her condition.

“We didn’t put much thought into the late check at that point. Of course, Mrs. Smith was dealing with health issues, and we didn’t know if Tom had access to her accounts to pay her bills.”

Time went on, though, and when the next check never arrived, and Tom wouldn’t take their calls, the Carrolls became concerned. They drove by to put a 24-hour inspection notice on the front door but when the next day came, the locks were changed and nobody answered. Mrs. Smith’s Toyota was gone, and when the Carrolls peeked in through a window, they noticed that many of her expensive furniture pieces were gone, as well. “Her china cabinet…gone. Artwork…gone. We couldn’t see much from the front window, but we saw enough to realize something was wrong.”

The couple sought out an attorney who advised that they begin the eviction process. “We didn’t know what to do. We figured Mrs. Smith was in long-term care for an illness but didn’t know if she’d be coming back, but her son wasn’t paying the bills. We didn’t want her to be stranded when and if she was discharged.”

Finally, after three months and not getting any help from the police, the Carrolls went ahead with eviction. During this time, Tom filed claims that the landlords were wrongfully evicting a disabled senior and her caregiver, a military veteran to boot. It took four more months of unpaid rent and the cost of investigative services to discover that Tom had separated from his family, moved his mother into a low-income convalescent facility after she broke a hip, and moved himself into the house. When the Carrolls finally gained access after fighting harassment and wrongful eviction claims, costing them thousands of dollars in legal fees, they discovered that Tom had sold all his mother’s belongings, the new appliances belonging to the Carrolls, and had allowed his dog to destroy the backyard. He’d convinced his mother to make him power of attorney and was proceeding to blow through her nest egg.

“The place was a mess,” said Dan. “We paid for garbage pickup, but he’d let everything pile up in the garage, and we had a huge pest problem that carried over into the neighboring property. He’d burned papers and trash in the fireplace at one point without opening the flue, knocked down all the fire and carbon monoxide detectors, and there was soot all over the living room. From the stacked up recycling, we could tell his judgment was impaired by an alcohol addiction.”

Looking back, the Carrolls realized that they should have looked deeper into Mrs. Smith’s background, asking her to name any family members who might spend considerable time at the property, and to ask references about potential issues with relatives. “Her son had a pretty nasty history, but we’d never guess that from meeting his mother.”

Had the lease specified time limits on friend and family visits, the Carrolls might have had more leverage to get Tom out sooner.

Worse, the Carrolls hadn’t photographed the new appliances or landscaping after it had been installed. They’d assumed the receipts would have been appropriate. Neither did they have adequate photographs of the house before Mrs. Smith took occupancy. “That hurt us in pursuing action against Tom, and it made dealing with our insurance nearly unbearable.”

Had the Carrolls required that Mrs. Smith take out a renter’s policy, they might have had more protection.

“Our lawyer wasn’t up to speed on the laws in our city concerning tenant rights, either,” Lara Carroll said. “We had to interview several real estate attorneys before finding the right one for our situation, and that took a lot of time and frustration.”

The Carrolls regret a lot during their first foray into managing their own rental, but what they regret the most is losing touch with Mrs. Smith. “Nobody in her family was able to come forward to contest Tom’s competence as her Power of Attorney. Technically, we can’t even visit her, on his instructions, and we know he doesn’t care about her. It’s so sad.”

Eventually, the couple managed to repair the house and get it back on the rental market, this time with the help of a property manager licensed by Property Management Pros. Professional property managers have the experience and training to understand local laws regarding eviction and welfare checks. In addition, they have access to more detailed lease and rental contracts and know how to properly and thoroughly screen prospective renters to avoid the kinds of problems Mrs. Smith’s son caused the Carrolls.

With inventory checklists and software, professional property managers are better equipped to record property condition before, during and after tenancy, making recovery through litigation or insurance far easier.

“The commission we pay now more than makes up for the stress and anxiety involved with managing our own property,” said Lara Carroll. “We now have two more rental properties that cater to independent seniors and disabled veterans, and while we’re still free to be as involved as we like in the process, they keep us from making mistakes based on emotion.”

For more information on the services provided by Property Management Pros, contact us. We can help you earn the most returns from your income property while protecting you from the financial and emotional risks involved.

Why You Should Consider Using a Digital Property Inspection App

As a long-term property manager you will be happy to know that there are digital tools available to help make your job a little easier. Maybe even a lot easier, depending on the number of units you manage. This article will show you how valuable and powerful this technology is and why you should start using it as soon as possible.

What is a property inspection app?

It is a computer software program installed on your phone or tablet, making it portable and convenient. It lets you inspect properties, create reports, and deliver them to your client from anywhere.

Why should I use a property inspection app?

It saves time over the traditional way of writing up an inspection and report on paper forms. This frees you up to take on more clients or concentrate on other work.

You can be sure that the inspection is done thoroughly, using checklists, photos, videos, signatures, and more.

You can access it from any device, including mobile (iPhone or Android), tablet, or computer.

The entire record is safely stored in the cloud, always there when you need it for any reason: legal disputes, tenancy issues, property records and other related details.

You’ll appear more professional, have less stress, and won’t lose or forget anything.

Using a scalable program allows you to grow your business from just you as an independent contractor starting out to hiring employees such as other inspectors or property managers.

What can I do with a property inspection app?

  • Schedule and track inspections from anywhere – It’s completely mobile, so you can schedule property visits ahead of time, make and reschedule while on the road, and accept bookings directly from clients.
  • Complete reports faster in the field – Since it comes with customizable checklists and templates, you can complete detailed reports on site without going back to the office. If you don’t have time to type in all the information, just use the dictation tool as you walk through and finish the report later or have it transcribed. Add photos directly from your mobile device.
  • Review, edit and polish reports in your browser – You have a powerful report editor available to make sure you’ve included every detail, and allowing you to add photos using different cameras, upload videos, or include any other relevant information.
  • Make real-time updates – Keep track of scheduled inspections, add new details, update calendars or reports, and all while giving notifications to keep everyone involved in each project in the loop from start to finish.
  • Helps eliminate end-of-tenancy disputes – It accurately records easily read and understood property inventory and move-in reports. It also compares move-out records against the original move-in report, so you quickly know what needs attention. It provides a clear record of wear and tear, missing or damaged items, and suggests cleaning or maintenance needed.
  • Truly paperless system – No more messy – often illegible – paperwork. You can capture digital signatures, share interactive reports online for easier dispute resolution, and generate PDF documents that contain all of the comments, photos and signatures of all parties.
  • Win new business – Using a property inspection app is a way to impress clients and differentiate yourself from your competition, giving you the advantage to make the sale.
  • Safely stores all records in the cloud – Quickly access your records at any time for any reason. You can be sure that your accurate and detailed records are readily available and easy to produce to help in any legal dispute or situation.

If you are ready to take your property management to the next level, contact us today. At PropertyManagementPros.com we specialize in helping you achieve success as an independent rental and property management professional.

Top 3 Reasons to Hire a Property Management Company

If you are considering renting your property, you may be thinking of going it alone. Maybe you are considering hiring a property management company, but are unsure whether it is the right move for you. In this post, we’ll talk a bit about the major benefits of hiring a property management company and about how doing so can give you some much-needed peace of mind versus handling everything yourself.

Attract Better Tenants and Keep Them Longer

A property management company has years of experience in properly screening tenants. The importance of this cannot be overstated. Not only can improper tenant screening open you up to rental scams or discrimination lawsuits, it can also stick you with nightmare clients. Letting a professional handle the screening process means that you’ll have quality renters that pay on time, cause fewer problems with the neighbors, and put less wear and tear on the property during their stay.

After your new, quality, renters have moved into the property, a good property management company can help keep them there. A good management company will an established tenant retention policy that increases the amount of time that a given renter stays in the property. This means less time searching for renters and more money in your pocket.

More Efficient Rental Processes

Getting your property rented quickly and for the best price takes experience. A qualified property management company will have the experience to maximize your rental income. A management company will make suggestions on improvements and rental preparations that you may have overlooked to help maximize the revenue from the rental. They will also be able to help you set the best rental rate for your property. Set the rate too high, and you’ll have a hard time renting the property out. Set the rate too low, and you are leaving money on the table every month. An optimal rental rate is key to maximum profits and a professional management company will have the tools and knowledge of the market to get the rate just right.

Once the property is ready for rental and the rate is set, it is time to get the word out to potential renters. A good management company will offer superior advertising and marketing to ensure that your property is rented fast. A property management company will have the experience of having written countless ads. They will know what does and doesn’t work in ad copy and will be able to optimize your ad for the quickest possible sale. They’ll also have experience with the various advertising outlets in your local market and know which ones provide the best value. This experience is invaluable in ensuring that your property doesn’t sit idle for longer than necessary when it could be earning you money.

Tenant Management

Collecting rent, dealing with late payments, and being available for maintenance emergencies are all a drain on your resources. Hiring a property management company takes all of that weight off of your shoulders.

Dealing with rent may be easy when things are going well, but when things go south, having a professional company handling the work can take a load of stress off of you. With a management company handling the collection of your rent, you won’t have to worry about sending delinquent notices or hounding your renters for late payments. This has the added benefit of putting a buffer between you, your renter, and the people collecting the rent. As a result, your relationship with the renter will not be strained if they are late making a payment. The management company becomes the bad guy so you don’t have to.

Tenants may also have maintenance issues crop up at all hours of the night. With a property management firm, you won’t be woken up in the middle of a slumber, disturbed during dinner, or even have your favorite TV show interrupted when something goes wrong with the property. The management company will handle taking all of the complaints when they come in so you don’t have to. They can even handle routine maintenance for you to take even more work off of your plate.

If you would like to take advantage of all of the benefits above, or if you have any questions regarding the services that a property management company can provide, please contact us today!

5 smart ways to have low maintenance landscaping for your rental property

Mowing the grass and watering at your rental properties can potentially consume a large part of your budget and resources. This is another example that, “Less is more.” Here are some smart ways to save time and money, increase your property values, and improve the return on your valuable real estate investments.

1. Reduce the size of the lawn. Consider reducing the total square footage of grass that must be maintained during the growing season. Depending on the area of the county where you manage rental properties, the lawn mowing season can extend from 6 months to year-round. By decreasing the size of the lawn you can save several hours of work — and expense — over the entire season on every property. Some ways to reduce lawn size:

Add a large bed filled with shrubs and top with gravel or mulch. Pick low-maintenance varieties suitable to your area. Avoid fast-growing or messy plants. Lay gravel or mulch over landscaping fabric to complete the job.
Hardscaping: Install a patio area. In addition to adding value to your property, it will reduce the lawn by that much more square footage. Economical and practical patio surfaces include concrete, large stone or brick pavers, and crushed stone.

2. . This landscaping technique is designed to save water and reduce damage to plants in the event of a drought. In some parts of the country where annual rainfall is scant, it is an absolute necessity. For others with more rain it is still an excellent way to plant a low-maintenance landscape that is also environmentally friendly.

It can be as simple as switching to a type of lawn grass that requires less water. But it usually involves replacing part of the lawn with beds of some of these types of plants:

Ornamental grasses: purple fountain grass, pampas grass, Mexican feather grass, blue oat grass, and others.
Succulents: hens and chicks, aloe vera, Autumn Joy sedum, many other sedums, and cacti in warmer zones.
Native wildflowers: check which thrive in your area.

3. Trim up the edges. Keep the lawn and the ground cover plants in their place. Create neat borders to help speed up the mowing. Also keep in mind the path that the mower must take and aim to make it flow as simply as possible. Avoid complicated bed shapes or spacing and erratic edging.

4. Plant appropriate ground covers. Again, seek out the ones that are appropriate for your area and that will not be invasive. Planting a compact, low-growing ground cover will accomplish three things: it will cut down on lawn maintenance, it will crowd out weeds, and will eliminate the need to spread mulch every year — saving you more time and money.

5. Pile on the mulch. Sometimes this is the simplest solution. Here are a few mulching options:

Bark mulch. This is the byproduct of tree trimming and is sold by the bag or scoop load. It can be colored and ranges in texture from fine to very coarse. The disadvantage to bark mulch is that it usually needs refreshed every year, adding expense.
Stone mulch. Very suitable for many types of plantings and areas of the country. The wide variety of colors, sizes, and shapes of stone give you many affordable options. A big advantage of stones over bark mulch is they do not need replaced, so once they’re placed your work is finished.
Rubber mulch. Made from ground up tires and other rubber products, keeping some of these materials out of landfills. It does not decompose,is effective at keeping areas weed-free, and does not attract insects.

At PropertyManagementPros.com we want to help you succeed and reach your goals with your real estate investing. Contact us today to find out more about our services.


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