Thursday, December 31, 2015

Importance of Cleaning Your Condo Building

January 1st marks new beginning for all who are looking to update their lifestyle & business operations. We all set ourselves out to have resolutions because we know old habits die hard. 

 A New Year's Resolution for Property Owners

Property management and condo cleaning fall into this category. It's essential to add value and keep tenants feeling secure about the fact they have a reliable property management team that always prepares for the coming months to start the year.

To discuss the importance of condo cleaning to start 2016, we compiled a short bucket list to get landlords and property owners what they need to do to make their building and its tenants feel refreshed for a successful 2016.

5 Ways to Improve Your Business Operations

Cleaning does not only mean to wipe down windows and mopping hallways floors in your building. It also means to have quality information updated in your business records, and online human engagement.

Not all property owners are expected to be tech savvy. 
Understand that consumers need a sense of tangibility in order to feel like they are involved in their purchases. In the case of rental operations and real estate, this applies to tenants who have made the decision to set up their living quarters within your condo building.

Effective communication methods is the crux of our suggested resolutions for 2016.

This improves the tenant-to-property owner relationship feel trustworthy and prompt, not having to wait numerous days or weeks before problems get resolved.

Whether they are renting or bought the condo outright, their sense of tangibility comes in the form of these resolutions:

  • Frequent Website Updates - You will need to update your website at least once a week or whenever their is a change in your operation and regulations for your tenants to take note of. This not only connects the tenant and landlord faster via mobile devices. A great way to stand out to your tenants is how progressive your service is by using an online community builder
Visit our Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, pages to see our strategy.
  • Cleaning and Decorating With Seasonal Appeal - Make sure that if the Holidays are over, don't wait until March to take down your Christmas decor in the building. Send out information  about live Christmas tree collections for recycling, and take down Holiday lighting and ornaments down as January 1st comes. Update each se
  • Enact a No-Smoking Plan - If you are the type of landlord who is lenient towards having pets in your rental units, you should implement a non-smoking environment. This will help keep the walls in your units from yellowing with nasty nicotine stains on them. Especially if you have carpets, just like your lungs, they will suffer and smell tremendously from the second-hand smoke. This also reduces the chance of halloween disaster stories and other holidays in the building or on the property grounds.
  • Reward Tenants For Their Compliance - If a higher condo fee is assessed for the new year, or if your tenants have collectively helped you receive a government-subsidized rebate check for reducing your energy costs with sustainable property management, reward them for being a tenant. The best ways to carry this rewarding out is to promote prizes to them like flowers on each tenant's birthday, or hold a toy drive for the children in the building, or picnics in the spring and summer months. 
  • Fire Safety - There were many stories of fires happening in condos the past few years in the Boston area in Allston, Brighton, Cambridge, and the Back Bay Area. Make sure that the fire safety regulations are either printed and given to the tenants every time they begin a new lease, and/or sent to them via email.

Final Thoughts on Cleaning your Condo Building

New Years resolutions can be hard to maintain once you make them. But with the right property management team, you can stay motivated to uphold your promise for updating your images, business, and character online and offline.

Have you created your own list of New Years resolutions? Do they match up to our list?

Tell us how you have used New Years resolutions and cleaning to push your tenant's lifestyle and condo building's image forward.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Why Emerging Technologies Always Win For Property Management

Why "Property Management" Rhymes With "Technology" Today

Cyber Monday is a day for great discount deals on tech products. But we should observe the impact of technology in the property management industry as well. In an ever-changing industry like property management, the means for advancement will be based on the rate at which information can be compiled with great customer service.

Information is the most prized possession in all industries. Accessibility with top quality software tools to attain data and the right personnel for a property management company will give them an edge over their competition in the real estate market. You will make life easier for yourself and your tenants by using web-based applications, research software, and messaging systems that help them stay updated as well as resolve issues including water heater installations, new parking requirements, fire emergencies, moving days, illegal tenants warnings, repair updates, board member voting meetings, and new lighting in the building.

With social media and other web-based applications that can manage live chats, there is no excuse for a property management to not regulate their operations with higher results of success.

Marketing via Social Media: Technically Fast, Less Furious Tenants

Technology increases the response rate and efficient communication methods for tenants to know what is coming from the residential property management team. Without it, your tenants will be trapped feeling like prisoners in your building from potential problems that arise. Do you want them to wait for a crew to get to their problem with a delayed response? The matter could be urgent and need immediate attention. If not, it could potentially cost lives and more money than you can afford to fix. 

Here are some examples of those problems:

  • Broken thermostats- Nobody likes to deal with Boston winters with just a blanket, sweats, and seeing their own breath inside the house. A quick fix to thermostats can make a big difference for tenants who don't know how to fix a thermostat. But if you have social media and someone on a 24-hour call from the property management crew, you can address this issue immediately, instead of having to wait a day or two. With technology, you can also track the heating systems in all your units in a centralized database so you know which ones have recurring issues.

  • Trash days- Tenants tend to forget what days the trash goes out after their September 1st move-in to their unit. Being connected with your tenants, you send them a reminder about the trash day and help make the garbage in your place go away for the week.

  • Flood watches- If you have a basement floor that is below the ground level, it's good to let your tenants know that there is a pending flood watch. You can help them take precautions by sending a text message alert sent to their mobile devices. If the property management is connected online via social media with their tenants, they can let them know immediately by that means.

  • Water shutoffs- Sometimes the Department of Public Works may be doing some street work that affects the water in the units of your building. That could affect a tenant who showers in the morning and make them late for work because they either forgot or didn't see the postings in the lobby or the hallway about the date and time. Of course, your tenant didn't plan accordingly, but they could have if they had gotten a reminder message about it the day prior to the shutoff via email, text, or on their social media channels from the management.

  • Fire Emergencies- We have all heard crazy stories that will make you scream of people getting trapped inside their apartment unit or condo during a fire because they didn't get the message in time to evacuate the building. When it comes to these situations, you should make sure that all of your tenants get a message on their mobile devices for points of egress in the building. Implementing a centralized contact database of your tenants and units into an emergency alert SMS chain that can be made similar to an AMBER ALERT message can be a life saver.
These are just ideas of what can be dire situations that can be avoided by being connected as much as possible via Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, or whatever can give you an instant message. Also, social media can market your units to potential new tenants, and showcase the luxury or image that you are putting forth on a site like Pinterest and Instagram for them to leave comments and share your posts.

Recordkeeping and Reducing Error In Management

Recordkeeping is the means of knowing what someone needs and to track their history. When you have the right property management system in place, you can reduce the double entry of information after uploading reports from exported data. This is how you can track percentage increases and decreases in various areas of the business; accounting and rent collection, work orders, hiring personnel, screening tenants, and retention versus new leases signed to fill the units. 

Convenience of Payments

Having people pay their rent online via your property management software can help automate payments from your tenants. Direct debits to their accounts can save you the hassle of chasing a tenant down for a check. Especially if the check is mailed one to an away address, if the owner or landlord of the building does not live there.

Final Thoughts

What type of experiences have you had as a tenant or landlord that either saved yourself a headache, your money, or your life when dealing with issues that come forth by usage of technology? Has this added expense made a difference in your operations?

Tell us some of your examples that made life easier and faster for you and your tenants. 

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Property Management Halloween Stories That Will Make You Scream

Not for the faint of heart! This blog contains graphic scenes and images. 

Halloween is the time of year in which we have the most fun with our decorations.

But tenants who are not pleased with the operations, or those who have been delinquent in their monthly rental payments and soon to leave while breaking their lease can be problematic.

It’s integral to have a great property management service who can curb the horrors of dealing with these mishaps. Have you heard stories of spine-tingling creatures living in the crevices of your tenant's units?

Or the jaw-dropping tales of fire suddenly ripping a large condo or apartment building to shreds while fate cuts a tenant’s life short for sleeping and not waking up to the emergency?

We will give three horrific, spine-tingling instances of landlords and tenants that show you the benefits of hiring an experienced property manager.

Lack of Quality Property Management Lets the Bed Bugs Bite

Bed bugs can make your home uninhabitable.
We all know the adage, "Sleep tight, don't let the bed bugs bite."

If you have ever figured that they are not in your bed, you may be gravely mistaken.

And if you don't have a quality property manager who can send for an exterminator or their crew to curb this problem right away, you may be in for many "bite-mares" from bed bugs.

These creatures can seem invisible can reproduce their larvae in your sheets, walls, couches, and wooden table. The life cycle of a bed bug is fairly short, but they can feed every 10 minutes.

Once they band together, they can make your belongings looks ultimately scary, causing you, tenants and their guests, and potential condo buyers to not want to return to your building or apartment complex. 

These are ghoulish creatures have the ability to invisibly seep their way into your skin! Also, the Board of Inspections could potentially shut down your apartment or condominium complex, which lead to an underwater mortgage.

You don't want these to show up in neither you nor your tenant's dreams. Imagine waking up to hearing the phone calls from tenant's screaming in your ear about the crawling dirty mite-sized bugs everywhere. Then, noticing once you get in bed, those bed bugs have destroyed your mattress.

Here is a shocking and gruesome video of what happens if you don’t attack bed bugs quickly enough:

Burning Down The House

You may have tenants or neighbors who have Halloween parties every year. You should learn how to manage large parties in Boston for your propertyIf you don't, it's safe to assume there will be some damage done that could not only cost you more than you budgeted for, but could also put lives in danger.

Here is an instance in which the tenant was hosting a party where guests were smoking inside their condo unit.
Home infernos can spark simply from a neglected cigarette butt.

One of the party guests flicked their cigarette out the window, but it was a windy night. Mysteriously, the wind blew the still lit cigarette butt back into the room and landed on dry plant.

The party made it's way into another room for about a half hour, and the cigarette sent the plant up into flames. It resulted in a major fire with flames engulfing the entire apartment.  

Evacuation due to fire.

There are two missteps that happened: 

  1. There was no established and effective communication system with the landlord for tenants to can contact them during emergencies.

  2. All condo owners did not have a condo insurance policy in place.

Landlords and fellow tenants should know that investing in a condo or renter's insurance plan and good lawyers to make sure that items are replaceable, and not get a lawsuit from tenants in case their stuff gets stolen.

Pumpkin statue: "These pranksters killed our 'boo-tiful' setup!"

Pranks For The Memories

Halloween night pranks such as setting a lawn on fire, burning poop bags on front porches, and smashing pumpkins will really make you think twice before putting out other ornaments for your home in the future.

It is safe to assume there will be kids in the neighborhood looking for a good laugh at your property's expense.  

Another story comes during the night before Halloween, also known as "Mischief Night" or "Cabbage Night." 

Some pesky vandalizers who loved to trash other people's yards, front steps, or scare residents just to add to the Halloween spirit are just that— mean spirited. 

In one neighborhood on the Day of the Dead, which begins Halloween Night and ends on November 2nd, these violators decided that they wanted to place a dead deer carcass hanging from the tree in someone's front lawn.

Tenants may be complacent and not report these types of vandalism cases because they simply don't care. But you cannot take the same stance of complacency and need to act quickly to curtail these types of scenarios. 

If you are a landlord living outside of the town or city that your property is located, and do not have a high quality property management team hat can check the premises in the days leading up to Halloween, you will lose home value and risk a bad reputation as a landlord. 

The best way to protect your property on Cabbage Night is to have the budget for a property management team to check your property grounds daily during the month of October when you put out Fall and Halloween decorations. 

If you have ever had issues in the past with this, make sure that you have your communication methods in place with your tenants to email, text, contact you via your most active social media channels, or call you immediately if they see anything that has been vandalized on the property.

Final Thoughts

Halloween is supposed to be fun for all. But it's not so fun when your tenants have to come home to these types of situations. Having the means to help maintain your property's value and reliable services can make a huge difference with managing your tenants.

Have you ever dealt with vandalism on your property, pranks in your apartment building, or dead animals that tenants and real estate agents have been scared out of their wits by? Share with us some of your horrible experiences so we can help you come up with future solutions.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Why There Should Be No Airbnbs in Condos

Traveling to new cities is great for expanding one's horizons and it should be done with much research.

Not only for the city that is being visited, but also for the laws of the land that you are bound to tread on.

But did you know hosts are renting your properties extra space in their unit for as much as $300 per night in untaxed dollars and running a "non-licensed bed-and-breakfast" with Airbnb could lead to big fines in the ballpark of at least $10,000.

Airbnb has been a great resource for tourists who can't afford the price of expensive hotels in their destination city, but is not the perfect solution it may be touted up to be.

In All Fairness: Airbnb Is Bad For The Boston Real Estate Market

The model for Airbnb is suitable for people who can neither find rental space, nor be approved for their own apartment due to a subprime credit rating in a tight rental market like Boston.

But this negatively impacts the local real estate market, Boston property managers and owners because it is still a fairly new unregulated industry that is void of taxation.

This article is in support of the effort to minimize Airbnb hosts and their short-term tenancy advantages on your property.

It not only affects the local lodging business, but it also has added to the bottle-necked market where renters can't find affordable housing in Boston. The windfall comes from the following reasons explained to understand the concept of  Airbnb.

Un-Licensed to Chill: Short-Term Rentals Are Detrimental To Your Property

The short-term home Boston rentals industry is catering to the "sharing economy," where renters and homeowners alike make money renting out their homes, cars, and personal time.

Online rental websites where people bid for beds in rental units by using software such as Airbnb, Homeaway and it's subsidiary VRBO, and Uber has made home-sharing into a billion-dollar industry.

According to Forbes, Airbnb is valued at $25 billion. Since it's emergence in the tech industry haven in the Bay Area, Airbnb has made its presence stretch into 194 countries.

As a new industry looking for altering it's model upon state and federal legislation, what makes sharing an extra space so bad for the local real estate economy?

Hosts that are renting on your property are posting their extra space in their rental unit for as much as $300 per night in untaxed dollars they are keeping for themselves.

Airbnb is making condo owners into their own real estate agents, without the condo association getting a cut of that short-term rental revenue. This affects the property management company because this leaves the condo association out of pocket from paying for the contract renewals to the service via condo fees.

Issues Resulting From Using Airbnb:

  • Security is a major concern where owners are seeing an increase in people they do not know access their home with travelers who are typically in a vacation mode which could lead to rowdy activity and inviting even more strangers back for parties. Building keys could also be copied by an airbnb guest leaving unauthorized access
  • Landlords and investors seeking more profits by changing traditional housing into short-term units, reducing the housing supply. 
  • Airbnb homeowners and renters are at risk for being hosts because the city can fine them for running a non-licensed bed-and-breakfast. This could lead to big fines in the ballpark of at least $10,000.
  • Those who come for short stays are taking the risk of neglecting their property value from frequent guests who don't respect the property because they are not signed to the lease. Read more property damage control tips
  • The amount of foot traffic that neighbors must deal with from the frequent exchange of new guests on the premises moving in an out of the building. Also how is maintenance and emergency support resolved with short term rentals?
  • Increased janitorial costs where guests have no vested interest in taking care of hallways, railings, doorways, roof decks, etc. 

Neighborhood Watch: Avoid Clustering in Your Property

The condo craze in Boston has steadily risen since the start of this decade.

The shortage of home supply, influx of transient college kids, and tourists has made the caused the local groundswell of over 300 Airbnb hosts to register on their site.

For someone like an empty-nester or a tenant who does not have kids, marketing their extra room to some international guests going to explore America for the first time makes for good business. This home-sharing model helps the owner or renter pay their bills and profit.

On the flip side,  clustering of random people could lead to true nightmares for owners who don't have a registered "neighborhood-use permit." You can see the consequences in this video here of this San Diego woman who learned her lesson from using Airbnb.


Final Thoughts

Airbnbs in condos may seem generous from the owners, but they are a violation to the condo association and the city of Boston if they are not registered properly.

Have you had any bad experiences dealing with neighbors who are Airbnb hosts with multiple guests every month? Or are you a homeowner in support of home-sharing?

Tell us your thoughts in the comments why Airbnb is good or bad for the community. 


Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Allston Christmas: Tips and Warnings for Boston Move-In Day

This article is a guide to help you understand how the old phrase "another man's trash is another man's treasure" firmly applies to what is called Allston Christmas.

You might also be interested in our Boston Sept. 1 Move-In Guide

A Guide For Success During Boston's "Allston Christmas" 

Allston is the section just outside of Boston that is a haven for lots of college students, post-grad upstarts and twenty-somethings, and other longtime residents that are outside of the 20-34 year-old demographic that comprises almost half of Boston's workforce.

Most of Allston is made up of renters who move yearly from apartment-to-apartment at the end of August once their lease ends. During the moving process, plenty of people will be tossing out old furniture and unwanted decor from their homes out onto their buildings and rental house curbs and sidewalks for all other migrants to rummage through.

For landlords and Boston Property Management companies, this guide will help you have a successful Allston Christmas and how to use multiple communication methods with tenants to address what is allowed in the property owner's units during Boston's most hectic time of year.

Moving In Sept. 1: A Boston Cluster-Land

September 1st is the date when the entire city becomes a zoo for professional movers, newly transplanted residents, and students who cram the city's streets, and mainly cause traffic on the city's longest strip, Commonwealth Avenue.

This main congested street runs from the Back Bay area near the Boston Public Garden through Allston, Brighton, to Newton.

Property management crews usually can help diffuse this chaos and help with the flow of traffic if you are living in a building that has multiple units. But not everyone is moving into an apartment complex or condo association.

This could cause many of you to double-park outside of the new apartment building to unload moving trucks and cars, but this only adds to the chaotic traffic.

Luckily, the Mayor's office is being a little more lackadaisical for parking permits this September 1st. But it's still best for you to believe that meter maids and police will be on the prowl to fill their month-end quotas for cutting parking tickets and moving violations on movers.

Allston Christmas Is Not Just for College Students

College students who live off-campus usually don't have much money to spend on new furniture. That is why you see them scavenge through piles of chairs, picking up old couches, coffee tables, and other home decoration items. But that does not mean they are the only people by age who are looking for new items to put into their homes.

Longtime residents are also looking for other items to place in their homes. Also, they may be looking to get rid of stuff for free.

So if you are a property manager or a landlord that has older residents living in some of your units, communicate with them to see if they are looking for items to place in their living quarters so you don't end up with piles of junk laid out in front of your building for the following weeks after moving day. Also, piles of trash can lead to rats, bugs, and other debris that can either cause you a city violation fine, or just a bad look for your property entrance.

Know What Types of Allston Christmas "Gifts" You Bring Into Your Home

Sometimes all the glitter of a displaced item is not gold. There are items that you should not be bringing into your home, that may appear safe when viewed on the street.

  • Displaced mattresses - You never know who had been sleeping on that mattress, or used that mattress for other things beyond slumber. These may contain dangerous bed bugs, or may have broken springs inside the mattress.

  • Chipped coffee tables - This is to expand on my previous point regarding bugs. If a coffee table looks old or chiseled in certain spots, it may not just be due to damage from the previous owners. It possibly could be due to termites that weaken the coffee table, if it's a wooden one. This adds potential for the bugs to relocate into your home!

  • Old refrigerators - Don't bring these into your place just because it has a plug. It may only work temporarily until it permanently loses it's cooling ability. Also, older refrigerators can work so extremely that they can freeze your food to the point where it is no longer edible.

Make sure that you communicate with your landlord or property manager first to get their approval on what new items are allowed into your rental unit. If it's a new couch or something large in size that requires more than two people to move, notify the landlord or property manager before you move the items because it could potentially damage the walls. And that could hurt your security deposit return at the end of your lease.

Talk With Item Owners To See If They Are Trashing the Items Or Not

Looks can be deceiving during Allston Christmas because everyone is putting their items outside in stockpiles. This may not always mean that the owners of the items are throwing them away.

You don't want to look like a thief running off with items that are considered stolen by the owners. This is why it is important to simply ask questions about the items with the owners. Or if you don't know who the owner is and don't have time to wait for their return outside, leave a note on the item with your email address to ask and see if they are willing to hand over or resell you the items.

Final Thoughts on Allston Christmas in Boston, MA

This is a crazy time period, but it can be navigated well if you simply stay patient, do your research, and communicate with the landlords or property managers for advice. The weather is generally hot since it's still the summer, technically. But you can certainly become successful if you prepare well the night before Allston Christmas.

Have you ever moved during this timeframe? Or are you scheduled to move this year at the end of August? Tell us your best and worst experiences about moving during this time, and we can help you with answers beyond this guide.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Why Eco-Friendly and Sustainable Property Management Matters

During the past decade, there is much to be said regarding sustainability for home energy usage.

So what steps have you made to be more environmentally efficient?

The United Nations officially declared 2012 to be "The Year of Sustainable Energy For All," primarily third-world countries, across the globe.

How Energy Efficiency Can Benefit Your Community

This article is an examination on the legislative and residential aspects so that you know about the best property management company to hire that can provide these types of environmentally conservative services, plus help you save money and energy in your building.

On the home front in the U.S. There has been more hot summers and rough winters that have come forth from drastic climate changes. Plus, California residents are currently facing a water crisis due to a lengthy drought that has caused more home fires than we can recount in our recent memories.

The demand for natural energy resources has increased, and the U.S. government and Environmental Protection Agency have collectively moved forward to reduce emissions of carbon for the sake of public health. 

It's essential homeowners, property managers, and HOAs to have the knowledge of these energy alternatives for their property to adhere to the upcoming changes in the state regulations regarding energy usage to combat climate change and increase sustainability. 

Eco-Friendly Property Management Solutions

There are many ways to minimize your expenditures versus your residual income from your tenants paying their rental costs and/or condo fees to keep your financial balance sheet in the black with great energy solutions to keep in mind during the rest of the summer. But for all times of the year, these following landscape construction techniques can help you reduce energy usage for your community and save you money:
  • Recycled Mulch - When you put this on your property's soil around hedges or other plants, the use of recycled mulch can help improve irrigation and water evaporation. If you have use city-supplied water, this could help reduce monthly water bill costs. Also, make sure that you are following the fire-safety regulations for mulch to reduce the chance of burning down your house and land.

  • Don't Send Scrap Items To The Landfill Right Away - Some stuff could be put in storage instead of dumping it in the trash. Waste management costs are very high nowadays, so you can minimize the amount of your tenants trash heaps by telling them to save items like cardboard, old china plates, or paper. If you have a common room in your building, or a multi-family house with children, set up an "Arts & Crafts" event to recycle these items for them to create something new for their home. Also, this can help your tenants get to know some of their neighbors.

  • Solar Panels - There are two sets of phrases "tax credit" or "tax exemption" that will make you really like this idea. The costs of solar-powered energy from the installation of panels on roofs and on the property to give greater photosynthetic effects to the grass or other horticulture on your property can come back to you basically as an account receivable. This can save you lots of money for your real estate investment. In Massachusetts, owners of residential businesses are eligible for these tax write-offs annually.

  • Use Natural and Organic Pesticides for Landscape Maintenance - "Organic" is still the craze in 2015 as Americans look to become healthier in what they consume or live around. Items such as fertilizers and pesticides can certainly make a difference for you and for tenant's pets.

  • Use Rain Barrels To Irrigate Your Plants - Instead of buying or using city-supplied water by the boatload that can run up your water bill, you should try using rain barrels to store some natural water for later usage on your plants. In Boston, we have more than enough rain that comes throughout the year, so use that to your advantage by use of water collection as it comes. You might also want to think about getting flood insurance for the rainy weather.

  • Use Electric Lawn Mowers - Lawnmowers are a necessity for any type of lawn care if you do not have an eco-friendly landscape construction company. Yet it's the type of lawnmower that can help you save money and on gas to power them if you use an electric battery-powered lawnmower instead. Also, it's non-polluting and efficient just much as gas-powered lawnmowers. This will keep your property "greener" than ever in terms of its look, the energy sustainability involved, and in terms of your wallet in the long run.

Breakdown of the U.S. Government's "Eco-nomic" Plans for 2030

The U.S. government looks towards the long-term needs for its citizen's health, and budget their economic plans accordingly. This is considerable for your long-term home value plan because a major part of your expenses will be from the various levels of energy usage of your tenants in your rental units.

One example of this is how they went into experimental measures in 2005 by increasing the start date for Standard Time in the fall season to increase solar light usage and lower heating and electricity usage in home nationwide. Another example came recently this month when the Obama administration announced their Clean Power Plan, a two-year plan to combat climate change and boosting the U.S. economy. The crux of the plan is to lower of renewable energy costs, creating a plethora of jobs, with a benchmark of 30 percent more renewable energy by the year 2030. 

This will be state-regulated on weather natural gas or renewable energy sources, but the plan will affect landlords and tenants inevitably. Under this plan, the biggest takeaways are the following:
  • Saving the average American family about $85 per year on their energy bills in 2030
  • Save enough money to power 30 million homes
  • State and federal government initiatives are to save consumers $155 billion between the years 2020 and 2030

Eco-Friendly Final Thoughts

Do you have any experiences with creating sustainable or "greener pastures" for your property?

Or is there something that you learned that can be valuable towards your knowledge and bank account in this blog? Energy usage is a complex topic, but it can be made simple if you continue to do your research and not be too caught behind before it's too late when your investment is in the red.

What other ideas do you have for creating renewable energy? Tell us your thoughts.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Checklist To Evaluate A Property Manager

Being a landlord has various forms of work that feel like drudgery if you do it all alone.

Whether you're a private landlord or on an HOA board, finding a valuable property manager that can ensure day-to-day operations, reduce costs in your budget, deal with legal compliance, market the property and effectively maintain the property; is not an easy feat.

Check The Techniques Of A Property Manager

Amidst the requirements for overseeing a property, it is just as important to evaluate a property manager's financial reporting skills, salesmanship, property maintenance tactics, and analysis or track record of tenants that they have approved to live within your rental units.

Learn how to accurately determine the right property manager with these tips:
  • Don't Cast a Wide Net for Potential Hires
  • Expect a Balance of Salesmanship and Marketing Experience
  • Understand Local HOA & Legal Compliance
  • They Know How to Handle Maintenance Issues
  • Quality Tenant Screening Tactics
  • They Have Reasonable Service Fees

Don't Cast A Wide Net For Potential Property Managers

You should always do your research and look for recommendations of who have a great track record for handling such demanding responsibilities in an expedient manner.

The National Association for Residential Property Managers can help with this, too. But you do not want to scout numerous property managers like a professional sports leagues's draft with multiple rounds. Keep your goals simple for profitability, and keep your pool of property manager candidates narrowed.

Salesmanship and Marketing Experience

Some people are better than others when it comes to the art of persuasion, or have charismatic personalities. You need a property manager that knows the rental units and the local real estate market in order for them to sell well to tenants in a competitive real estate market. 

Have they shown properties before? Are they knowledgeable of what it take to advertise rental units? What communication methods with tenants regarding condo fees have they used into the past disseminate that important information to the residents? How well do they know the local real estate market in that side of town where your property is located?

These are all important questions to have as part of your criteria for hiring your next property manager. Make sure they have an excellent customer service mentality when dealing with tenant's problems that may arise. This will also be conducive to overall morale and culture amongst occupants within the property, and add market value to your investment in the long term. You can't afford to have the residents feel as if they are victims to a slumlord in any capacity.

Understanding Legal Compliance

There are many intricacies when it comes to dealing with real estate law. Certain states have different by-laws when it comes to property ownership. Also, they must know fire-safety regulations for example how you use mulch on the property grounds. 

If you are on the board of a condo or homeowner association, you should see if they know how your HOA voting process works and how they have carried out new rulings or policies from the HOA board. If they do not have this type of experience, they you could be bound for a legal disaster, and being in court can be costly against your investment plan for the property.

How Well Do They Know How To Handle Maintenance Issues

There is always something that comes up at random when it comes to property repairs. Property managers need to be as expedient as possible for random breakdowns of radiators during the winter, assessing flood risks to keep the resident's items and well being safe, hot water heaters not working for the rental units shower, etc.

Property managers usually have a budget for cash to carry out repairs. It is crucial to pinpoint how the property manager will use this budget and keep the regular maintenance costs under control, or evaluating damage control issues for move-in/move-out day at the end of rental leases,  

Tenant Screening Tactics

As the Boston real estate market gets more expensive and the demand for rental units continues on the uptick, the tenant screening process is becoming more essential than ever.

In order to be profitable, you need to have a property manager who can take the time to have a keen sense of who should be occupying the vacancies, and who will not give you problems when it comes time for monthly rent collections. 

Credit reports are great to use for this evaluation, but also finding out what methods and turnkey resources that the property manager uses for researching the tenant's work and landlord history for good referrals is necessary as well. 

Evaluate The Property Manager Service Fees and Accounting

Most property managers charge between 6% to 12% of the monthly rent for their services. This ties back to the first point of doing your research on property managers: know the range of percentages that property managers in your community will charge.

For example, if you have under 50 units in your HOA or as a private landlord, then you may not be able to attract a top tier property manager because you simply won't have the budget to pay them.

Perhaps in this case, you may want to hire a property manager that is not as expensive for their services. Or if you do have that many units and are looking for a property manager that caters to the lifestyle that you want to present for your HOA, then you must learn which can account for the condo fees and liability insurance requirements to help protect you from potential lawsuits. Plus, see what they know about budgeting for advertising costs for the vacancies.

As a property owner, it is mandated that you report your taxes to the Internal Revenue Service.

Therefore, ask if they have experience assisting in these filings of the required forms with property owners and landlords. The goal is reaching a profit, so you must have a person that is, if not, more financially literate than to make this happen smoothly as possible

Evaluating a Property Manager - Final Thoughts

Have you had any experience hiring the wrong property manager? What do you think your mistakes where in dealing with the wrong hiring? If you have great experience hiring a property manager, what did you use for an ample criteria to make the right decision?

Friday, June 26, 2015

How Boston's Housing Boom Impacts Property Management Services

In this article, we will examine the causes of the Boston housing boom from our latest research and answer the essential questions asked recently about the state of tenants and landlords in the Boston area who are running for shelter (no pun intended).

According to Redfin, the median price of a Boston-area home rose to approximately $360,000, which is a 6.1 percent increase since April this year and considered the biggest month-over-month price hike since April 2012.

What Will The Rise in Boston Real Estate Mean For Property Management?

If you've watched or read the local Boston news, or even walked around to see the city overall lately, the city's real estate market is experiencing an all-time high for residential and commercial developments.

boston housing boom picture of the bridge

For many of the Hub's longtime residents, this has been painstaking as the prices of living in the Boston area are going from relatively high to insurmountably bank-breaking to their wallets.

It's hard to find affordable housing anymore and landlords are feeling the crunch financially. The increase of property taxes will continue to rise with profits or break-even points on their property investments more difficult to clear.

How Much Can The Greater Boston Area Afford For Affordable Housing?

So what does this mean for the local property management industry? Will landlords of privately-owned properties who once had affordable housing have to leverage the rising costs of property taxes by cutting back on property management services?

Mayor Marty Walsh and his administration have quite a tall order to overcome finding places for people who are being pushed out of the city limits. Many of the city's longtime residents who have lived in Boston proper areas like Allston, Brighton, Charlestown, Dorchester, Roxbury, Somerville, South Boston, Watertown and surrounding cities of Cambridge and Quincy area seeing new condo developments.

With the shortage of apartments for those who can't afford to buy homes, there has been a series of housing initiatives that the local government is trying to make sense of for these people. The costs for homes is rising faster than the cost of renting.

Fees for Commercial Real Estate Developers?

fees for commercial real estate bostonThe alternatives of micro-apartments in Boston for the young adult population has ending costs that do not necessarily meet the means of living out of necessity. Plus Mayor Walsh is looking to have a fee attached to developers who want to buy and create more commercial estate properties to support his plan to raise $20 million in funding to allocate those monies towards 53,000 affordable homes by the year 2030.

Also, the rising influx of the tech and pharmaceutical industry workers coming from Silicon Valley and other cities to Boston and Cambridge, where the latter is swiftly becoming an Eastern U.S. mecca for both industries, has made property values in that already expensively priced area continue to skyrocket at an exponential rate.

Chief Economist Nela Richardson of the real estate company Redfin explained the migration of wealthy workers. "Boston is an interesting story because it's attracting outsiders from tech and pharma." He continued: "There's a lot of wealthy workers coming to town. Match that with demand with a shortage of supply- that's a recipe for speed." 

Home listings on the market in May 2015 sold at a record-breaking rate. Factor that in with a shortage of supply. If you know the Law of Supply and Demand enough, you will see that this is a runaway freight train that won't be stopped anytime soon.

There is much competition to buy a home. In May 2015, there was an estimated 72 percent of offers for homebuying faced competition. That same month, Boston-area sellers put almost 12,900 homes on the market. That is a 25 percent year-over-year increase since May 2014. And the numbers keep rising.

According to Redfin, the median price of a Boston-area home rose to approximately $360,000, which is a 6.1 percent increase since April this year and considered the biggest month-over-month price hike since April 2012.

Do Landlords and Tenants Need to Wait For A Housing Bubble To Burst?

Sign of the times in Real Estate 2002-2012
From looking at these numbers, you may be thinking that the Boston area is becoming a city for the uber-elite. So does this mean that you have to study coding or have the mind of an MIT-schooled engineer in order to sustain a stable living here?

Do you have to wait another fifteen years per Mayor Walsh's plan for affordable housing in Boston, and not have to worry about making a stable life month to month? Well, not exactly. But it may take a renter much longer than expected to save and buy a home, or think about becoming a landlord in areas such as the Metro West areas of Waltham, Framingham, Malden, Medford, or other areas that area Commuter Rail-accessible for people to come into the city to work.

We are already seeing the signs of a housing bubble waiting to burst in the coming years. Just like in the U.S. real estate market crash in 2006, banks lending to buyers that take out mortgage products which exceed the actual home values, on top of money that dries up in various industries causing labor layoffs and a hostile job market that still exists today can lead to foreclosures and high turnover of tenants and residents.

This will help property management in a two-fold manner: with all of the landlords that buy housing before the prices get too high because they need to ensure their value and attraction from those who can afford to stay in the city.

Also, for the coming years, the affordable housing that the Walsh administration is vying for will help HOAs and others want to live in a place that has great services and will help landlords with smaller mortgages since people still want a quality of life while living in the city.

Overall, living in the Boston proper area and its surrounding neighborhoods is a lifestyle decision. Otherwise, these landlords and tenants would opt to move south like birds to escape the harsh winters, and rising costs. The prices will rise, but they will bottom out eventually. With the economies of scale, this bubble can only float for so long before the blowback occurs for the better for lesser-income residents and landlords to afford a decent mortgage and high quality yet low-priced Boston property management for their investment to stay profitable in the coming year.

Boston Housing Boom - Final Thoughts

Are you feeling the financial crunch of how hard it is to find or afford housing in Boston?

Are landlords becoming too strict on their criteria for screening tenants with decent credit? 

Are you as a landlord experiencing high turnover in your units due to your rise in prices per higher property taxes you must pay? 

You may wonder where is the middle ground to balance out the supply and demand of housing.Tell us your thoughts in the comments below and how long you feel it will take to get to this cost balance for housing. 

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Bed Bugs: How To Remove and Prevent Them for Your Tenants

Boston is one of the United States top-rated rental housing markets. 

This is due to the transient dwellers skipping from lease to lease in various apartment and the condo building craze in the Boston area.

Those same living quarters that tenants move into is a fertile ground for bed bugs to cultivate their communities and lay longer in your mattress than you want.

Whether you are a landlord, tenant, or property manager in Boston you can use this article as a guide to learn the following about bed bugs:

Don't Let The Bed Bugs Bite In Your Home

Especially if you live or hang around areas like Allston and Brighton with a ton of college-aged tenants. These young tenant have year-long leases and every semester may leave behind more than just dust balls upon moving out. This is a real situation people deal with every year and is not always your fault, they are attracted to the warm spots in your house, most likely a mattress or couch.

What Is A Bed Bug?

This is gross, but pay attention so you know what to do if your property is infested with these insects. Attracted to the warmth your bed is their favorite spot to live and reproduce.

A bed bug is a tiny parasite that feeds on mammals and birds. They are a part of the insect family Cimicidae, and the most common human infestations are Cimex lectularius and Cimex hemipterus. 

Adult bed bugs have a reddish brown, flat, oval-shaped, and are about 4 to 5 millimeters in size. 

Younger bugs (nymphs) are usually a tan or light color, which develops them into a reddish color after feeding. They are attracted to warmth, and tend to develop over a period of 5 to 10 days, though they can survive without feeding for several months.

They generally feed at night, or just before dawn.

How To Spot A Bed Bug

The Show You Don't Want To Host

Hand bitten by bed bugs
It's not fun to know that these insects can bite and continue feeding off of a human without their knowledge over time. Bed bugs can painlessly pierce the skin and inject saliva containing anesthetics and anticoagulants into the host.

They feed on the host for several minutes, and then retreat to their warmth haven. This will cause these insects to stay in the closest quarters by hiding in their host's mattress.

Hosts can also be pets like cats and dogs, who can carry them into their home.

The transmission of human diseases is theoretically possible, but has not been established for what particular diseases. Rarely does a severe systemic allergic reaction come from bed bug bites. But cases of insomnia or anxiety can be developed by bed bug infestations.

Bed bug bites are easily treatable by your primary physician or dermatologist.

Where Do Bed Bugs Come From?

There is a current resurgence of bed bug infestations in the U.S.

Being in a major city where there are more bugs and rodents than actual people, you can bet they will be in places that have a high traffic of people to feed off hosts. That means they would likely come from apartment complexes, condo buildings, hostels, hotels where people are coming and going. During the day, they like to dwell in floors, and show up in people's luggage, furniture, clothing. or boxes.

What Does A Bed Bug Bite Look Like?

Symptoms of bed bug bites can be either visible of invisible on the skin's surface.

They can be dark red or just a shade lighter than one's actual skin color. They can be in the form of a flat lesion or a bump. They usually show up on exposed parts of the face, neck, torso, or feet to the bevy of bed bugs lay in various sections of your mattress. Lesions can be found in a line or a cluster pattern in one or several areas in your skin. They can appear within a matter of minutes or days after being bitten. Lesions are capable of fading from the skin within one to two weeks. Also, they can causes severe itching and irritation of the skin.

How To Prevent and Remove Bed Bugs In Your Home

As a landlord, it's important to implement an effective form of communication with your tenants so that any problems with bed bugs in your rental unit is immediately eradicated.

Bed bugs can happen to anyone, no matter how careful you are with your tenants. But there are some tactics to prevent and combat these pests from coming back to share bed space with you.

  • Hire A Property Manager with Emergency Support Procedures- This will only help increase your property's value by having a reliable crew who can stay on top of the fumigation or extermination duties in all of the rental units. Also, tenants can work with the property manager who knows exactly how to handle bed bugs to stop from coming back to their bed(s). Use social media, text, email, and phone to be prompt in getting a quick response from the landlord to put in a work order.
  • Keep Windows Closed Near Your Bed - These insects are looking for a space to crawl into. So minimize access to your bed via your window that may be near their entrance point.
  • Remove Boxes Upon Move-In Date Of Your Lease - Many times the new tenants are the culprits that are hosting these parasitic creatures- not just landlord negligence nor previous tenants in those living quarters. It's important to either put moving boxes away from the bedroom or living room areas where bed bugs arise. Make sure that upon the Boston move-in date, you put the boxes in your basement once you remove your belongings. This is because in many cases the boxes are coming from outside after resting in the place the tenants is moving from, then to their moving vans that other people have used, the dirty street grounds before being put inside their new home.
  • Replace Infested Furniture - After spotting bed bugs in your furniture, it is best to throw those sheets right away. Even if you wash those sheets, it doesn't mean that they have gone away from good. After all, you cant spell the word "persistent" without the letters "p-e-s-t," coming back for more. If you spot bed bugs forming their own community on your bed, I'm sure you wouldn't want to sleep on that same bed set anyway. Or if so, it's at your own risk letting them get too close for comfort on your skin.

Bed Bugs: Our Final Thoughts

Have you had any experience with bed bugs that have made you want to move out of your apartment? Or have you dealt with angry tenants that have made you wonder why these problems with bed bugs keeps occuring within your property or rental units?

Having an accessible property management company is key to preventing this from happening. Its essential to know what it take to prevent this to become a good landlord, or as a tenant so that you don't have a history of carrying bed bugs wherever you move to.

Tell us how you prevent bed bugs in the comment section below.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

How To Manage Loud Parties In Boston

This article will help define how property managers can help turn a negative situation into a positive opportunity to communicate with student residents. 

How To Deal With House Parties At Your Property

The spring season in Boston is a special time of year for many reasons:
  1. The weather temperatures finally begin to warming up after a harsh cold winter
  2. The Boston faithful get to see their beloved Red Sox take the field again at Fenway Park. 
  3. The clock's change to Daylight Savings Time positively affects your mood from seeing sunlight and less grey skies. 
  4. College kids are begin to leave the city towards their permanent out-of-town residents for the summer. 
As you would expect, students in your Boston property management will be celebrating the last of their final exams for the academic year with a party to remember just how sweet it is to live away from their parent's house.

In this article we will explain how to effectively communicate with your college-aged tenants. As students prepare for the end of their lease, get ready to talk with your young tenants about the consequences of having a party with their friends on your property. 

Building A Positive Relationship With Young Tenants

Open communication is important for everyone involved. 

Chances are that you were once a kid looking for fun and enjoying life by not having to answer to your parents as well. Be approachable and understanding of their situation and remember that when you tell a kid to not do something, they are likely going push the risk to the limit and see how far they can go.

It's best to meet your college-aged tenants half way by letting them have their fun to an extent. Here are a few suggested communication methods to effectively notify your tenants about the parameters of living in your property:
  • Detail The Guest Policy In The Lease- Make sure that upon the beginning of their lease that each tenants knows how many people are allowed at once within their rented unit. When you keep it in writing, and quantify the amount of people that are allowed at once, they can never say they never knew beforehand about how many people they should have as guests. 
  • Ramifications for Damage To The Property- The security deposit is a coveted check amount that both landlords and tenants use for coverring any future mishaps within their rental unit. If there is any damage to the rental property, the security deposit is subject to being decreased upon the return to the tenant at the end of the lease. Or if the cost of the damage exceeds the amount of the security deposit when they come in, let the tenants know that they will not get it back at the end of their lease. Also, let the tenant(s) know they are responsible for their guest's damage to the property or injuries from being inebriated in the party make them liable as well.
  • Set A Benchmark For Neighbor Complaints, Or Else- Living in off-campus housing means that there will be neighbors next door, or in the apartment unit below the tenant holding the party. The best way to let those neighbors know that a party will take place on a certain date is to give them a couple days notice. Also make sure that you and the tenants give the neighbors your phone numbers to call or text you if it gets too loud. If the tenant doesn't adhere to multiple complaints, make sure that you get the Boston Police Department to come and tell everyone to leave. The purpose of this BPD Party Line is to give residents direct contact for reporting the occurrence of loud parties, and to have them come to calm down the noise.   
  • Social Media - Be the "cool" landlord that is privy to social media to connect with your tenants. Some landlords are deemed as either "slumlords" for their lack of maintenance on call for any problems their tenants experience. And there are some other who are considered "helicopter" landlords that never go away, hovering over their property as much as they can. Or some seem out of touch with their tenants for a lack of communication skills. Certainly you want to ensure your return on investment, but being the "cool" landlord can help you keep your tenancy rate high, with great referrals from your current tenants to potential new ones via social media. That way there is a trail that can be tracked online about your property and landlord reputation.  When the landlord and tenant are in good standing with one another, this could lead to positive reviews in the future when the tenants decide to move to another rental apartment or condo, and require a positive review from the previous landlord. 

Final Thoughts: Have you dealt with a tenant who partied too much?

Have you dealt with any tenants that refuse to comply with the terms of your lease regarding guests or parties? Or if you are a tenant, how did you handle your relationship with your landlord to make sure that you can stay on an even keel with your landlord, roommates, and neighbors in your rental unit? Tell us your thoughts.