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.
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.
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!
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.
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?
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.
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.
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!
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.
The age of paper and pens are long gone. Smart business owners are moving to digital inspections to streamline operations and increase sales.
Here are some of the reasons why digital inspections are the need of the hour.
• Customers prefer service providers who are digitally connected instead of cumbersome paperwork that is difficult to keep track of. Digital signatures and receipts are now preferred increasingly by businesses and customers to save time and resources.
• Digital inspections do away with illegible handwritten notes that can be confusing.
• Communication is improved with photos, videos, and images. An actual picture of a property or a vehicle repair gives the customers real time information that is relevant to them.
• Digital inspections make it easy and convenient to store digital records of transactions and retrieve them as needed.
The Basics of Investing in your local Rental Market
Renting your property is a massive, but lucrative endeavor for investors or homeowners. In this article, we’ll talk about the good, the bad and the ugly of real estate rental investing.
Rentals are increasingly being preferred over owning according to real estate reports from Truvia. From a 36.1% share of households that rented in 2006, the numbers were up to 41.1% in 2014, this starts a consistent trend that we will continue to see of years to come. Concomitantly, the number of house owners declined in this period, according to this same report. Among those who rented, the Millennials formed the majority of the group. More than 70% of Millennials were preferring to rent housing in 2014. The trends also indicate that more affluent and middle-class Americans are shifting over to renting rather than owning a home. This is where a company like Property Management Pros comes into play, to help investors and homeowners succeed.
The National Multifamily Housing Council figures state almost 30% of American households are rentals and the age group of most of those who rent are around 30 years of age and below.
Average rentals in different cities
As per the Census ACS survey, the median gross rent for homes in 2015 was $959 while the average was $1,021 in the same year. But this doesn’t show the whole picture, very large rental growths were seen in Columbus Ohio with a 39% increase in rentals in 2015 as compared to 2010. The other cities where rentals have grown phenomenally include Cleveland, Jacksonville, Bluffton, Northern Virginia, and Washington D.C. If you live in Orlando or Bluffton as well, you can leverage the boom in rentals. The smallest increase is seen in Las Vegas with just a 3.8% jump, owing largely due to the housing crisis. But the rental averages vary not only from year to year but location wise as well.
A recent study by the department of numbers revealed the average rent in Columbus was over $860 per month and in Cleveland, the average is $740 for a single family living space. In Orlando, the averages hover around $1,100 for a single family home.
So, if you are deciding on renting out and looking to earn the most money out of it, your location could be the major force to help you succeed or blunder.
The best way to earn more rentals is to have more property to rent out. But if that is not an option, here are some tips:
Make sure there is 100% occupancy: Post ads and contact agents as soon as you know your tenant is vacating. If you live in locations that have a high demand for rentals, you will probably find a tenant before your property is vacated. If your area is not in great demand, the earlier you advertise, the more you benefit. Or better still, ask your current tenant to recommend anyone for renting. Each month of vacant property costs about 8% of annual revenue, so it is important to move quickly. This process can be long and dawning but the higher the rental rate of your property, the more profits you will yield!
Increase the rental amount: Search the database to find if you are charging as per the market trends. If not, bring the rentals up to speed. It is good to have a clause in the rental agreement to factor in an annual increase in rentals. Finding and placing high-quality tenants with good backgrounds and income can help you increase the rental rate, but finding those individuals isn’t always the easiest task.
Try to find tenants who can maintain the property: Maintaining the rental property always incurs more expenditure every time a tenant leaves. If you can find a tenant who agrees to tend to all maintenance issues but with a slightly less rental, it could be a better deal in the long run. Tenants who respect your property or even improve it are great, but those are far and few in between.
So what do I do now?
You know what you need to find, but you also know it might be incredibly difficult! Using a Property Management service such as PropertyManagementPros.com will take all of the work out of being a landlord. For a very small monthly payment, we can find, place and manage your new high-quality tenants and help you maintain and profit from your property for years to come!
We’re proud to announce that Simple Inspector has partnered with Property Management Pros! We at Property Management Pros work hard to offer the best possible value to all of our licensee’s, that’s why we a are offering all Property Management Pros locations 75% off select packages of Simple Inspector.
Thanks for reading!
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