Sunday, July 16, 2017

Fire Safety Recommendations for Property Owners

The Benefits of Sleeping with a Closed Bedroom Door

Closing your bedroom door before sleeping at night can powerfully impact the spread of a potential fire by halting the spread of smoke and heat. According to the National Fire Protection Association, 25% of home fire deaths occur from fires that originate in sleeping rooms. Consequently, closing the door before sleeping at night can provide protection against fire danger. Furthermore, the Educational Messages Advisory Committee has stated that the combination of a closed bedroom door and an adequate smoke alarm system provides powerful protection during a fire. A closed bedroom door can slow the spread of heat, smoke, and fire. 

The Importance of Smoke Alarms

Smoke alarms should always be installed inside and outside of bedrooms throughout your home. The U.S Fire Administration recommends following the recommended room locations suggested by the specific manufacturer of your smoke alarm system. The highly regarded alarm system company First Alert recommends installing a smoke alarm in every bedroom throughout your house, one on every level, and one at the top of each stairwell for adequate fire preparedness. It is also recommend that fire alarm systems are replaced at least every ten years. The National Fire Protection Association also recommends that tenants and homeowners know the age of installed smoke alarms, and information about the specific manufacturer. 

Property Management & Fire Education 

Property managers should always ensure their tenants are educated on proper fire procedures and precautions. A diligent property management company always protects the safety of tenants and educates tenants on fire safety knowledge. Professional property management companies provide tenants with fire safety recommendations, procedures, and tips, from fire safety professionals, along with providing properties with up-to-date fire alarm systems and fire protection devices.

Friday, June 16, 2017

6 Simple Ways To Increase Your Home's Resale Value

When it comes time to selling your home, obtaining the highest sale price possible is usually at the top of your priority list. Spending massive amounts of money on expensive home repairs can end up backfiring and taking large chunks from your savings. The good news – there are surprisingly small and cost-effective ways to dramatically boost your home's resale value. Making your home stand out in Boston's competitive real estate market should be prioritized. Luckily, this article will reveal minor home improvements that have the power to maximize resale value, recommend by home real estate experts.

1. Refinish Hardwood Floors

A freshly refinished hardwood floor can give any home a pleasant feeling of luxury and cleanliness. Potential buyers are often more inclined towards purchasing a home with newly renovated flooring, and are willing to pay extra to experience pristine flooring.

2. Replace Old Light Fixtures

Although a relatively inexpensive purchase, light fixtures have the power to completely change the ambiance of any room. Chunky, outdated, and worn light fixtures can immediately bring a sense of unattractiveness to any home, and deter potential homebuyers. Such a small home decor purchase has the power to alter the touch of any room, and sellers should use this knowledge to their advantage. Replace worn and chunky light fixtures with modern and elegant ones, and watch your room's entire impression beautifully transform.  

3. Modernize Your Kitchen

Updating your kitchen appliances is another relatively inexpensive purchase that has the power to modernize and beautifully transform any home. Potential buyers are highly attracted to homes that lack any worn or outdated appliances. Modern, stainless steel appliances give even small homes a touch of elegance and newness. 

4. Add a Fresh Coat of Paint

Repainting your home is one of the most lucrative ways to make your home look contemporary and fresh, which instantly adds value and appeal. Most people prefer neutral tones for wall paint, which is important to keep in mind before embarking on this home improvement.

5. Cut Energy Costs

Having an energy-efficient home is a highly marketable advantage, which can save potential homebuyers money in utility bills.  Having your local utility company inspect and audit your home's energy usage. Their utility experts will show you how to increase the overall energy efficiency of your home, and how to decrease rising utility expenses.

6. Replace Old Kitchen Appliances

When renovating your home, it is important to keep in mind that kitchen updates instantly maximize value. Even small kitchen updates can boost the value of your home. For those homeowners on a budget, try starting with small kitchen improvements. Replacing stained sinks and dingy microwaves with modern, stainless steel appliances, will add enormous value to your home. For homeowners unconstrained to monetary budgets, consider replacing outdated and stained kitchen countertops with sleek, granite alternatives. 

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Here's Why Apartment Sizes Are Rapidly Shrinking

Average apartment sizes have been rapidly and steadily shrinking the past few years. Recent research published by RCLO analyzes the basis for decreasing unit sizes and soaring renting costs. 

Boston, in particular, is a city affected by the trend of decreasing unit sizes. Newly built studio and one-bedroom apartments across the country are seeing a decrease in average unit size and an increase in unit quantity. 

Studies published by RCLO show that the average unit size between 2010 to 2016 was 917 square feet. The average size of apartment units from 2000 to 2009 was 988 square feet, therefore the average unit size has decreased by 7%.

Unit size has been drastically decreasing across the country. RCLO studies surveyed the real estate market by region, and found the Midwest to face the largest percentage decrease. Out of the 20 markets studied, the only two markets which saw an increase in average unit size were San Diego, California, and Riverside, California. The rest of the markets analyzed, including Boston, saw an average unit size decrease by a whopping 25%.

What is the reasoning behind this drastic dive in unit sizes? There are several reasons for the decrease, starting with affordability. With rents rising faster than wages, many renters are forced to find more affordable, and less spacious dwellings. Renters are seeking more financial balance in their lives, and are compromising on larger living spaces and excess spending.

Another contributing factor towards the diminishing average unit size is the increasing quantity of studio and one-bedroom apartments, and the shrinking quantity of larger units. Two-bedroom units have been particularly decreasing in quantity, while there has been a heavy emphasis on constructing studio and one-bedroom units. From 2010 to 2016, two-bedroom units accounted for only 35% of newly developed units. This change is likely geared towards the millennial generation. Prime urban location is proving to be highly valuable to millennials, who are sacrificing spacious living spaces for unbeatable locations. By working, living, and socializing in the same area, millennials are saving precious time avoiding a long commute, and bringing more convenience and flexibility to their schedules.

The good news – property developers have been attempting to compensate for the decreasing unit size by providing tenants with more amenities, like gyms, movie theaters, and expansive communal lounges. Unit space may be decreasing in prime Boston locations, however these modern micro-units are providing renters with maximum convenience and deluxe amenities. 

Monday, April 17, 2017

Benefits of Spring Cleaning Your Boston Rental Property

The Boston winter with its snow, ice and frost is over and done with. Now is the time to clean up the mess!

As soon as you, a Boston landlord, see daffodils blooming, it’s time to think about what damage the winter may have caused to your rental property.

In this article, learn why it's to your benefit to pay attention to spring maintenance and cleaning both outdoors and indoors.

While you are paying attention to the common areas of your building, also learn how to encourage your tenants to report any problems in their individual apartments so that these can be taken care of in a timely fashion.

Why Spring Cleaning Will Benefit Your Property

Implementing sound inspection and cleaning practices each spring keeps your tenants safe and happy and increases the value of your property. Why? Happy tenants are less likely to seek alternative accommodation.

A Boston spring is the beginning of the turnover season in Boston apartments, so by encouraging your residents to stay, you will reduce the wear and tear on your building caused by people moving in and out.

And, don’t forget about curb appeal. Well kept outdoor landscaping and a clean, well-maintained building are what prospective new tenants will immediately notice. An attractive exterior appearance will help to keep your units fully rented.

Tips For Landlords In Boston and Other Cities

Spring Cleaning Exterior Checklist

  • Inspect your building’s roof and look for any signs of damage.
  • Remove debris from gutters - water damage can result from clogs. Repair any breaks.
  • Remove tree branches that have grown too close to the roof.
  • Inspect your building’s walls and patch any cracks.
  • Check your exterior paintwork. Make any necessary repairs and maybe go for a new look to increase curb appeal.
  • Note any damage to windows and doors. Seals may have cracked in extreme cold and caused water damage and drafts. Clean the window panes.
  • Repair broken or rusty hinges, ensure that doors latch, and replace old locks that might cause security risks.
  • Check swimming pools for damage and give them a thorough cleaning.
  • Clean up common spaces like garbage and picnic areas.
  • Examine driveways, fences, decks and patios then thoroughly spray to get rid of salt, sand, and de-icer residues. Fill any holes, cracks, or gaps.
  • Trim bushes and replant flower beds.
  • If you have lawn areas, check that your mower and weed cutter are clean, gassed up and ready for the first spring cut.

Spring Cleaning Interior Checklist

  • Inspect interior paintwork. Make any necessary repairs or try a fresh new color.
  • Steam-clean all floors and carpets.
  • Hire a professional to clean and service your HVAC system to ensure that it’s running efficiently and that you are saving on energy costs.
  • Replace burnt-out light bulbs
  • Inspect electrical breaker boxes and replace smoke and carbon monoxide detector batteries.
  • Look for drainage blockages in laundry areas and check that coin-operated washers and dryers are operating normally.
  • Search for signs of rodents, termites, fleas, and other insect infestations.

Involve Your Tenants

Of course, while you are spring cleaning your Boston property, you would also like to remind your tenants that spring cleaning season is here and maybe provide them with an incentive to spring clean their individual apartments.

For instance, you could offer to pay half the cost of a cleaning service. This will help to ensure that your rental property apartments stay free of dust, mold, and bugs. One problem you don't want is bedbugs.

Before the cleaning service arrives, you might even send tenants a helpful checklist. Some ideas for this are:
  • Vacuum underneath and behind the refrigerator. Give the interior of the refrigerator a thorough cleaning and toss out expired foods or foods that have been in the freezer for more than a year.
  • Go through closets and set aside clothes that haven’t been worn for several years. These items can be collected for a building wide garage sale, the proceeds from which will go to a local charity.

Need Help With Your Annual Spring Cleaning?

If you are feeling a bit overwhelmed with all the work involved in spring cleaning and maintenance, the best property management company in Boston is here to help you before the hot Boston Summer arrives and year round.

Contact us to see how we can assist you to beautify and manage your property year round.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

What Millennial Renters Want in Boston, MA

Boston property managers regard millennials as desirable tenants because they tend to be long-term renters who are not looking to buy a home soon and move out.

But how do you attract millennials to live on your property? What do millennials want from an apartment?

If you are you a Boston landlord looking for millennial tenants, you need to know what millennials are looking for so that you can meet (or even exceed) their expectations.

If you are millennial renter looking for a modern, technologically up-to-date apartment, it’s helpful to know what amenities to look for so that you won’t find you’ve made a mistake after moving in.

Who are Millennials?

Millennials are young people of the 21st Century and desire high connectivity to the internet and environmentally-conscious ways to live their lives.

They are born between 1977 and 2000. They make up 25% of the population.

The Future of Millennial-Style Apartment Complexes 

Millennials own fewer cars than previous generations, so millennial complexes are ideally situated for walking or taking public transportation to shopping, dining, and entertainment.

Millennials are comfortable with efficiently designed studios and one-bedrooms. Micro kitchens are also ok as long as they contain the latest in kitchen technology.

The ideal apartment complex for millennials will include the following:
  • A social room for hanging out. 
  • An entertainment space with a big screen for watching movies. 
  • Wellness facilities with fitness on demand videos. 
  • Ground floor commercial space such as a coffee shop. 
  • Digital programs that make life easier. An example is LaundryView, enabling the user to note how many washers and dryers are available and to receive a text alert when the laundry is done. 

Boston’s Millennial Villages 

For millennial renters finding an affordable space in Boston is not easy. One solution that Boston has come up with is the millennial village.

The city is proposing to build 10,000 or more small units of housing close to public transportation with shared common spaces and ground floor amenities.

Technology: The Number One Requirement for Boston Property Managers 

Property managers absolutely must be online to connect with millennial renters. A “modern” property manager understands that millennials prefer to communicate with texts or emails rather than via phone calls.

The internet is the millennials’ first-choice tool for everything from finding an apartment to ordering food delivery.

They do not look through newspapers and circle apartment listings with a magic marker so don’t place rental ads that way; instead, make use of real estate websites that can connect a searcher with your website where millennials can look at and apply for your available units online.

Once millennials become your tenants, you must make it possible for them to pay their rent and make maintenance requests online.

It’s also advantageous to showcase everything about your property that is eco-friendly on social media as millennial renters care about their environmental impact.

A Checklist for Landlords and Millennial Renters 

The following is an ideal list of what property managers need to have in place and what millennial renters should look for in an ideal apartment.
  • Cable and internet accessibility, complex-wide Wi-Fi, and a multitude of indoor and outdoor electrical outlets for charging mobile devices. 
  • Low-flow, water-conserving toilets, and shower heads. 
  • Energy-efficient appliances and programmable thermostats. 
  • Solar panels, wind power, or other sources of renewable energy. 
  • Energy-saving light bulbs. 
  • Good insulation to slash utility bills. 
  • Recycling and composting services on site. 
  • Laundry facilities and dry-cleaning drop-off/pick-up. 
  • Pet-friendliness – the majority of millennials own pets. 

Why Modern Rental Units are Good for Both Landlords and Millennial Tenants 

If you are landlord interested in upgrading your rental property to attract millennials, the initial expense of modernizing your complex will pay off over time by increasing the value of your property.

Your investment in improving your building will result in happy tenants who keep renewing their leases and reducing apartment turnover.

Find a Good Professional Property Management Company 

As an experienced property management company in Boston, Premier Property Solutions understands how to manage a property with millennials in mind.

We will take over the responsibility of managing your property so that both you and your tenants are happy in a modern, well-functioning building. Please contact us to see how we can help you.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Why Property Maintenance is Important: Tenant Rights and Landlord Responsibilities in Massachusetts

If you are a Massachusetts landlord, proper maintenance of your real estate investment will keep your property in good shape and also avoid friction between you and your tenants. 

If you are a Massachusetts tenant, it is useful to know your rights so that if your landlord fails to maintain the property you are living in, you are aware if what steps you can legally take to remedy the situation.

Whether you are a landlord or a tenant, you can use this article to better understand landlord and tenant responsibilities and rights in Boston, MA. 

Why Good Property Maintenance Makes Both Parties Happy

If you are a landlord and your tenants are satisfied with the way you maintain the property they call home, they are more likely not to be late with their rent, to take care of their units, and to renew their leases. You, as a landlord, will reap the benefits of low tenant turnover (resulting in fewer vacancy days) and a more consistent cash flow.

Property Maintenance Tips for Boston Landlords

Seasonal inspections and maintenance and taking care of small problems promptly before they turn into bigger ones will save you money over the long term.

A good idea is to set aside one or two months of rent per year (more for an older property) to cover maintenance costs. If you have a vacancy, make sure the rental unit is up to code and appealing to prospective new tenants so that it rents quickly.

Your Obligations as a Massachusetts Landlord

As a landlord in Massachusetts, your responsibilities include the duty to provide the following:
  • Habitable premises in good repair and free from infestation.
  • Adequate heat, electricity and hot water.
  • Necessary kitchen appliances in good working order.
  • Good plumbing and working toilets.
  • Maintenance of all exits to the property which should also be free of obstructions.
For a more detailed explanation of your duties, please consult the Massachusetts Consumer Guide to Landlord Rights and Responsibilities.

Your Rights as a Massachusetts Tenant

All tenants in Massachusetts have the legal right to live in a rental property that is kept in good condition and meets basic standards with respect to Massachusetts health and safety regulations.

If your landlord fails in his responsibilities to fix major problems, such as a broken heating system or a leaky roof, you have legal rights, including:
  • Withholding rent until repairs are made.
  • The right to “repair and deduct” – i.e., you can hire someone (such as an electrician or a plumber) to fix a serious defect in your rental unit (or buy what is needed to make the repair and do it yourself) and deduct the cost from your rent.
To read about your tenant rights in more detail, please click this link to the Massachusetts Consumer Guide to Tenant Rights and Responsibilities.

What Massachusetts Tenants Should Know Before Making Rent Deductions

Before deciding to withhold rent or take advantage of repair and deduct, make sure that the circumstances justify your taking the action. You need to know the following:
  • What maintenance emergencies are more important than others.
  • When a lack of maintenance qualifies for rent withholding or repair and deduct.
  • The length of time you must give your landlord to fix the problem and what written notice to give him before you can take action.
  • How much rent you may withhold or deduct, how often you can do so, and whether you need to pay the withheld amounts into an escrow account.
  • What your protection is from landlord retaliation (e.g. terminating your lease, raising your rent, or locking you out of your apartment).

Remember to Check Local Boston Rules

Local housing ordinances for your particular Massachusetts town or city should be consulted for regulations covering tenant rights.

Find your local building or housing authority by contacting your mayor or city manager’s office or viewing your city or county website.

Find a Good Property Management Company in Boston

Premier Property Solutions can take all the worry about managing your Massachusetts rental property off your hands, including the handling of maintenance requests from your tenants.

We will take all the burden of maintenance off your shoulders ensuring that maintenance issues are taken care of efficiently and promptly and that you have happy tenants. Please contact us to see how we can make your life as a landlord a lot easier.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

2017 Condo Price Forecast for Boston

In 2014, we took a critical gaze at a Wall Street Journal article that stated the average cost of operating a condo building has increased by 25% over the last decade.

3 years later in 2017, we are ready to reassess the Boston housing market to give you the most up to date forecasts for condo sales.

By scouring reputable sources of analyses on the Boston housing market, this article summarizes a forecast of what can be expected in the 2017 Boston Housing market.

Notable Changes in Condo Prices in 2016

2016 was a big year for change and action. A new president was elected and the Boston real estate market continued to grow with the opening of the Millenium Tower. These and many other factors will affect our forecasted prediction for the Boston Housing Market in 2017.

Condo Prices Still on the Rise in Boston

Overall, 2016 saw a large rise in condo prices. "The condominium market experienced increased sales, as 11,142 units were sold, a 4.7 percent increase on the 2015 total of 10,643," reports The Greater Boston Association of Realtors (GBAR). This report summarized that "the condo market median sales price rose 7.8 percent in 2016."

The Millenium Tower is Opened for Residency

Another important event for the condo market was that the Millenium Tower was opened for residency. A record was broken for condo sales when the penthouse condo sold for $33 million dollars! In October of 2016, this caused condo prices to reach an all-time high.

Housing Developments Continued to Open

In 2014, we mentioned that developments would continue to create a diversity of options, not just for inner-city housing purchases, but also for the suburbs. 2017 will see a great increase in housing developments in Boston which could potentially cause condo prices to go down later in the year.

What causes condo prices to rise?

Even without the opening of the Millenium Tower, condo prices would still continue to rise. Many complex factors affect the growing prices of condos but more than anything, condo owners are continuing to upgrade their facilities to increase their return on investment.

As condo amenities become more luxurious and modern, it is unlikely that we will see a significant decline in condo prices anytime soon. 

Here are some common upgrades to condos that have really rack up the price (good to consider if you are ready to sell your condo for a return on investment): 
  • Adding tennis courts, gyms, and swimming pools significantly increase the maintenance.
  • Added amenities require concierge and security personnel.
  • Rising property taxes are also a driving factor in most areas (including Boston).
Also important to remember is that not all condo fees are equal! Fees vary depending on the condominium's amenities, the age of the building, the number of units as well as the size of the resident's unit. 

A Tentative 2017 Condo Forecast

Several sources warn that prices could decline mid-2017, as the quantity of condo listings increases in the spring. So what does this mean? Simply put:

Sell now while the prices are high. Wait until the listings drop in the Spring to buy.

As some analysts suspect, the price rises of Boston condos in the winter could be mainly due to the limited listings. The supply and demand of economics also applies to condos. In this case, if there are less listings, there is less competition, so sellers are able to charge more than normal.

Forecasting a Good Year for the Housing Market 2017

According to sources, the US housing market as a whole is looking up in 2017. If you aren't sure why you should be hopeful, consider these reasons that 2017 could be a potentially good year for the housing market:
  1. A new president could indicate a trend towards government deregulation.
  2. Mortgage rates are rising steadily, but not too steadily.
  3. For most cities in the US, there is a lowered risk of a housing crash.
  4. Millenials! Remember them? They are reaching their optimal home-purchasing age.

Today the average cost of a condo in Boston can range anywhere from $370,000 to 3 million. 
As a property management company in Boston with 100's of buildings under management, Premier Property Solutions looks forward to a successful year with many changes in management. 

Give Us Your Opinion

As experts predict an upswing in condo prices in 2017 across Boston, does this mean this is the right time for condo owners to sell? Should a prospective condominium buyer wait until the spring to purchase for a lower price once the listings increase?

Tell us what you think!