Tuesday, September 18, 2018

5 Disaster Preparation Tips for Flooding from Heavy Rains


As a responsible landlord, property manager, or property owner, it's highly important to protect your property from water damage during powerful rain storms. Effective stormwater management is necessary to prevent flooding, erosion, and structural property damage, which can lead to expensive repairs. Check out 5 powerful disaster preparation tips and flooding solutions for harsh rain storms.

1. Maintain Clean Rain Gutters

Maintaining clean and healthy rain gutters is a necissity during powerful rain storms. When there is excess rain, the property will need its drainage systems working smoothly to minimize the risk of property damage. Consider installing additional drainage devices such as French drains and downspout extensions to improve drainage and reduce home flooding. Furthermore, install a sump pump in low areas of drive ways, car ports, or landscaping for additional protection against flooding. Another important key to stormwater management is keeping catch basins free of trash, sediment, roots, and plant debris, to allow water to smoothly flow through the drains instead of pooling around them. The installation of rock borders and/or straw wattles around drains and V-ditches can help prevent the build up of debris in drains. Keep brow ditches and V-ditches free of unnecessary debris by regularly cleaning drain outlets and weep holes of sediment. 

2. Create Swales

A swale is any depression in a landscape, existing or man-made, that redirects water drainage. A swale is natural solution to safety direct excessive water to safe territory. Consider adding swales to your property, and maximizing their presence by lining the lowest point with rocks and adding deep-rooted plants to the slopes. This overall results in slowing the water's path to the drain. Swales direct the flow of water, rather than stopping it, therefore ensure that it's channeling somewhere excess water will be released harmlessly. An area with frequent flooding should have swales directed into a dry well or deep garden bed with very good drainage and high water tolerance. To avoid costly utility charges, never have a swale draining straight off a property.

3. Install a Rain Garden

A rain garden is an excellent way to prevent disaster flooding, while simultaneously adding to the beautiful landscape of your property. When constructing your rain garden, place plants with the highest wet-soil tolerance in the center. Plants at the edge will drain rather quickly, while the middle plants remain submerged in rainwater. Furthermore, using native plants is best whenever possible. Native plants require little to no watering in between rainfalls, making your garden low-maintenance and reducing the need for harsh pesticides. Rain gardens are similar to swales, however they don't redirect water, they simply provide a place for water to safelty pool during strong rainfalls. Rain gardens will allow the excessive rain to slowly absorb back into the soil. Most rain gardens range from 50-100 square feet. Even small rain gardens can powerfully minimize flooding and runoff. 

4. Use Heavier Mulch

One overlooked solution to prevent flooding is utilizing heavier mulch. Flooding spreads light mulch chips everywhere, causing the mulch chips to clog drains and scatter throughout your yard. Consider using a hard-wood mulch, which will absorb rainfalls better, and avoid clogging drains.

5. Building Draining Driveways

Driveways are one of the biggest contributors to stormwater runoff. To reduce the risk of flooding, consider adding drainage on the sides of your concrete driveway. 

However, a more effective treatment is to eliminate the asphalt or concrete driveway completely. Gravel, spaced paving, and even grass can be used to make your driveway an asset during heavy rainfalls. Designing driveways with flooding prevention in mind will keep your clients extremely grateful. Furthermore, gravel driveways are easier to maintain, prevent flooding, and are less expensive to manage. 

Saturday, September 8, 2018

How to Organically Generate Real Estate Refferals


The key to being a successful real estate agent is knowing how to drive real estate referrals. Driving real estate referrals involves strategic effort and determination. Luckily, we gathered 4 of the most powerful ways you can successfully generate real estate refferals and win valuable opportunities.

1. Stay in Touch

One way to ensure more real estate referrals, is to stay on the mind of your clients. One of the biggest mistakes real estate agents can make is to lose touch with clients after successfully helping them rent an apartment. 

Start by enhancing your online presence and communication skills. Stay in touch with past clients, and send them reminder emails when their lease is about to expire, offering to help them find another apartment or re-enter their current lease. Organize your email database into specific categories (leads, previous clients, agents, etc.), to send more relevant and customized messages. Furthermore, stay on your client's minds by being active on social media, and posting valuable real estate insights. 

2. Successfully Maintain Relationships

A successful client relationship should never end after a closing. The key to being a successful real estate agent and generating organic referrals, is consistently maintaining relationships with past clients. Continue to engage with clients after closing, to ensure they are completely satisfied with their home and to answer any questions they may have. Let your appreciation for their business and feedback be known. Maintaining relationships will not only organically drive real estate referrals, it will encourage past clients to stay loyal and maintain their business relationship with you for future real estate transactions.

3. Refer Other Agents

Although referring other real estate agents can sound counter-productive, this strategic move is a powerful and overlooked approach to generate more business. This strategy will also help you maintain a professional and positive reputation in the real estate industry. Networking with other agents and lenders will be very beneficial for referral purposes, and can even lead to valuable insights and new strategies. 

4. Be Direct

Sometimes the best approach is the most simple and direct manner. When checking back on clients you had successful real estate experiences with, always ask if they know anyone else who may currently need your services. If they are good-hearted clients who genuinely enjoyed your services and know others who may need your assistance, you are on the way to successfully generating a client list. If it seems appropriate, politely ask if you can use their name as an introduction. If they say yes, you have just successfully generated a real estate referral through maintaining a friendly relationship with a past client. 

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Top 5 Reasons to Switch Your Properties to Solar Energy


Solar polar energy is becoming the future of renewable energy. The benefits of solar energy are seemingly endless, benefiting both the environment and your finances. Solar energy is energy from the sun that is converted into thermal or electrical energy, providing your home with clean, renewable, and free fuel. Homeowners around the world are installing solar panels on their roof, as the price of solar panels continues to plummet and flexible financing options are becoming more prevalent. Providing your clients with clean and modern electricity options that benefit both the environment and their pockets, will keep them satisfied and increase the chances of always attracting and retaining high-quality clients. Here are the top 5 reasons you should consider using solar power energy:

1. Solar Polar Benefits the Environment

Solar polar provides your property with a clean, green source of energy which reduces your carbon footprint and doesn't pollute the environment. Solar polar doesn't release any toxic greenhouse gasses into the air, providing you with a safe and environmentally-friendly electricity source. Other than using a source of clean water to function, solar power energy requires absolutely no other resources. Solar power energy is self sufficient, and by installing solar panels on your roof, you are helping contribute towards a more sustainable and brighter future. 

2. Fixed & Lowered Monthly Costs 

Traditional electricity primarily relies on fossil fuels such as coal and natural gas. Not only are these chemicals harmful for the environment, they are limited sources. Therefore, traditional electricity depends on an unpredictable market, in which energy prices constantly change. By investing in solar power systems, you shield yourself against unpredictable increases in utility prices, and enjoy low-cost, natural energy instead.

3.  Say Goodbye to Power Outages

Solar energy panels utilize the energy provided from the sun, and are therefore self-sufficient. Traditional electricity systems need to be transported from large power plants to consumers through comprehensive networks. This long distance transmission equates to power losses. Solar power systems are durable and self-sustaining, thus highly decreasing the chances of a power outage. If there is a power outage in your neighborhood, your tenants chances of a service interruption are highly unlikely. Solar power systems provide you with greater electricity grid security, especially during natural or human-caused disasters. 

4. Attract New Clients

More people are taking eco-friendliness into account when looking to rent or buy property. The financial and environmental benefits of solar power energy will instantly attract new and high-quality clients, who will be grateful for your modern use of renewable energy sources. The millennial generation is especially drawn towards eco-friendly and energy-saving tactics. Consider increasing your chances of attracting new clients by also installing an electric vehicle charging station. The combination of solar panels and an electric vehicle charging station allows your tenants to run their vehicles without polluting the environment in any way. 

5. Save Money with Tax Breaks

When installing solar energy systems, you can deduct up to 85 percent of the cost of your system from your taxes. Furthermore, federal tax credits of up to 30 percent for a system remain in place through December 31, 2019. Numerous states and utility companies are offering advantageous incentives and rebates for installing solar panels, which will decrease your costs and save you even more money.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Massachusetts Single-Family Home Prices Hit a Record High


If you are searching for a new home in Massachusetts, get prepared to pay record high prices. According to a market report from the Greater Boston Association of Realtors released on Wednesday, the median sales price for a single family home in the Greater Boston area just a hit a record high last month at $652,500. This marks the highest median sales price the organization has witnessed since they first started recording data in 2004. The median sales price of single-family home sold in the Greater Boston area rose by 7.1%, from $609,250 in June 2017, to $652,500 in June 2018.

The median sales price for condominiums also increased by 10.6% since last year in June 2017, jumping a median of $520,000 in June 2017 to $575,000 in June 2018. The report provided by the Greater Boston Association of Realtors follows trends from last summer, when single family homes in Massachusetts surpassed the median sale price of $400,000 for the first time.

How are these numbers affecting the real estate market? The number of single-family homes sold in the Greater Boston area decreased by 6.2%, however, these homes spent an average of 33 days on the market. The number of condominiums purchased decreased by 5.2%, but units spent an average of 29 days on the market. Sales of single-family homes and condominiums have remained steadily strong in June, however less home-owners are selling their properties due to continuously appreciating home values. Although property sales prices continue to steadily increase, the number of homes for sale are decreasing, leading to a very low inventory of available homes on the market. Additionally, closed sales have been down for 2018, despite the median prices of homes skyrocketing.

Monday, July 9, 2018

Expert Tips For Saving Space in Your Boston Rental


Finding an affordable apartment in Boston with plenty of room and extra storage space is becoming challenging, as property prices skyrocket. Fitting all of your belongings in a small one-bedroom apartment can be extremely difficult, and requires creative space-saving style solutions. Creatively managing your storage and minimizing clutter will overall make your small apartment appear larger, cleaner, and more open. Luckily, we consulted with top interior designers on how to save space and create more storage without comprising on style. Here is what they recommended as space-saving style solutions for each room in your apartment:

1. Bedroom

Utilizing the space under your bed for storage is key, and makes your room look less cluttered and cramped. If you are looking to conserve space, designers highly recommend using your bed as storage, either finding a frame with drawers included, or using plastic boxes and woven bins that slide under your bed for easy access. If you are feeling extra creative, you can even purchase a loft bed. Loft beds are one of the best ways to make the most of a really tiny space. If you don't mind climbing up a ladder to your bed, loft beds completely open up the space underneath your bed for storage, a desk, or lounge area. Furthermore, nightstands are another useful opportunity for storage in a stylish way.

2. Living Room

While decorating your living room, aim to decorate the space in a vertical way, which will open up the space and make the apartment appear larger than it actually is. Using bookshelves will make the room look more open and inviting, while serving as convenient storage opportunities. Interior designers recommended purchasing an ottoman or table with inner storage compartments, which will help hide clutter without comprising on style.  Ottomans with storage spaces can even be topped with trays to make them multi-purposeful.

3. Kitchen

When it comes to decorating your kitchen, storage spaces are not only limited to cabinets and counters. Installing freestanding shelves and racks will open up countertop space while serving as useful storage areas. If your kitchen doesn't already come with recessed lighting, interior designers recommend purchasing sconces that can be plugged into an outlet. 

4. Bathroom

Standard bathrooms include storage space below the bathroom sink and above the vanity, but interior designers recommend installing freestanding shelves above the toilet. Furthermore, install removable hooks to the backs of doorways and mount adjustable tension rods to allow easy access to towels and other necessary items. 





Saturday, July 7, 2018

How to Prepare your Home for Summer Storms


As the summer of 2018 commences, it's time to prepare your home for extreme summer weather conditions and the possibility of dangerous summer storms. Every season hold it's challenges, and it's important to always protect yourself and your property. Stay safe from severe summer weather with the following tips from home experts:

1. Manage Your Gutter

Keeping water from harsh rain storms out of your property should be a leading priority, and can prevent expensive property damages. Water needs to be directed off the roof, which means gutters need to be checked for any excess leaves, tree branches, or debris. Ensure that downspout elbows are unclogged, allowing water to flow freely from the roof and away from your home. While inspecting your rooftop gutters, look for any missing shingles or holes in your roof which will allow water to slowly seep into your home. Cracked and damaged roofs lead to leaking which can cause excessive water damage, mildew, and mold.

2. Protect Your Appliances

Local property management experts recommend using a whole-home surge protector, which can be installed in your electrical panel. A whole-home surge protector will protect any plugged in appliances (including televisions and appliances), if there is an unexpected lightening strike or power outage. For further precautionary measures, you can purchase outlet surge protector power strips.

3. Trim Your Trees

Ensure trees on your property are properly trimmed and no branches are touching your house. In extreme weather conditions and high winds, branches can break and harshly damage your home exterior. 

4. Install Air Conditioners Sparingly 

As New England is expecting higher than average temperatures this summer, many homeowners are rushing to install multiple air conditioners. Experts warn to install air conditioners sparingly and with caution, and never install more than one air conditioner on the same circuit. In many homes, especially apartments and older homes, numerous rooms are wired on the same circuit. Installing air conditioners on the same circuit can damage the breaker and cause serious issues over time, including electrical fires.

Friday, July 6, 2018

4 Trends Driving Apartment Traffic in 2018


As the summer of 2018 begins, it's a great time to step back and review all your existing real estate marketing approaches, and analyze ways to adapt your advertising approaches to the ever-changing real estate market. It's important to study how renters are shopping for apartments in 2018, in order to better align your advertising approaches with those behaviors. By studying how consumers of all generations are searching for real estate properties and apartment rentals in 2018, some key trends are continuously appearing. Here are some of the top trends driving apartment traffic in 2018:

1. Virtual Tours

One very important visual tool in your apartment marketing approach should be virtual tours. In an age dominated by technology driven content, consumers are expecting more technologically advanced advertisements to hold their attention. People want to see every detail of the place they are going to live, therefore video tours and virtual tours are crucial to bringing in residents. Make the investment in your visual advertisements to show potential residents you are already serious about making them happy, and conducting your real estate business with professionalism and technologically advanced techniques.

2. Social Media 

The average millennial spends 15 hours a day consuming media, often multiple forms at once. What this research means for real estate companies is important. Today, it is imperative to spend most of your marketing budget geared towards social media, primarily on sending out advertising messages. Integrating advertising and social media is necessary to stay relevant and successful. 

3. Make it Easier for Prospective Clients to Do Business with You

When advertising real estate properties, your intent is to always bring in prospective clients to tour the property, and ultimately take the next step towards signing the lease. Make it easier for prospective clients to schedule apartment tours from their mobile device or computer, with online tour scheduling options. Calling directly on the phone can be a hassle sometimes, by quickly allowing prospective clients to schedule tours online you will increase the number of apartment tours. Also, consider installing a live chat & message feature on your real estate property advertisements. Small questions that may be holding up prospective clients, can be quickly answered and accelerate the rental process. 

4. Blogging

Creating user-generated blog content and keeping prospective and current residents in the know regarding your brand is imperative in today's competitive real estate market. Blogging has many key benefits, including bringing directed traffic to your real estate website from people searching general real estate topics on the internet. Furthermore, current residents will be impressed with your effort and ability to maintain communication and keep them updated regarding important real estate topics. Publishing detailed real estate blogs may answer many questions for both prospective and current residents, that will decrease the amount of questions your property managers and real estate agents are receiving. 


































Thursday, June 14, 2018

Boston City Council Imposes Strictest Rules Yet for Airbnb Rentals. How Will This Affect You?


On Wednesday June 13th, 2018, the Boston City Council imposed the strictest rules yet in the nation regarding the Airbnb rental industry. In a move meant to control the popular short-term rental business and help regulate the tough housing market, the Boston City Council enacted numerous rules and regulations meant to slow down the increasing number of Airbnb rentals in Boston. The rules prohibit investors and tenants from renting their home through short-term rental websites such as Airbnb. However, homeowners and owner-occupants are allowed to continue operating short-term rentals through their property as they please. Mayor Martin J. Walsh first proposed this bill in January, and is now prepared to sign it into law.

What is Airbnb? 

Airbnb is growing company which operates an online platform allowing people to offer short-term leases and rentals from their home. Consumers have the ability to rent short-term apartments, home-stays, holiday cottages, and condominiums. Airbnb has swept the nation in popularity, becoming an affordable alternative to hotel stays in expensive areas, and a lucrative way to generate side money.

How Will This Affect You?

Supporters are thrilled about the new laws regulating Airbnb's, hoping the legislation will decrease constraints from Boston's tight housing market. Currently, an estimated 2,000 apartments are being rented on a nightly basis through Airbnb in Boston, instead of through a traditional 12 month lease. After nearly three years of evaluating the subject, the Boston City Council decided it was time to enact serious rules and regulations.

The new rules officially take effect on January 1st, however current Airbnb hosts (who are not homeowners or owner-occupants) have until September 2019 to continue operations. This change was enacted to prevent landlords from facing numerous apartments vacancies, while also giving the hundreds of renters hosting Airbnb stays to find a new source of income.

The new rule also requires short-term rental hosts to register with the city of Boston annually, and pay a $200 fee. The registration and fee is meant to give city officials a clearer picture of the short-term rental business, to better understand and improve the future of Boston's housing market.
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Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Soaring Taxes on Newbury Street Causing More Vacancies


Walking down Newbury Street, you may notice the dozens of vacant buildings and storefronts, which were once full and bustling with shoppers. Soaring property taxes and rents might be to blame, as store owners struggle to maintain steady profits. For decades, Newbury Street has been one of Boston's main attractions, home to some of the biggest names in retail fashion, luxury retail boutiques, and prominent restaurants. Rising demand for Boston's famed shopping area has caused a high increase in property values, leading to higher property taxes and rents for businesses. One of the most recent businesses to move is Hempest, who has been on Newbury Street for over twenty years. Hempest was forced to change store locations due to soaring rent costs, and has moved one block away from Newbury Street.

Newbury Street has become a great way for realtors to generate income, however many store owners have been struggling to manage the soaring rent costs and ability to maintain profits. Furthermore, Boston's retail scene has been changing in recent years. Established retail stores that would traditionally flock to Newbury Street are finding new opportunities in other fashionable Boston neighborhoods, including Seaport District and Downtown Crossing. 

Building values on Newbury Street have increased an average of 29% compared to the average 11% throughout the rest of the city. Commercial property tax rates are based upon building values, leading to increased rents. Financial analysts have linked the empty storefronts to the increased rents.

Despite increasing property taxes and rent prices, storefronts and restaurants located on Newbury Street enjoy enormous advantages. Back Bay's Newbury Street is one of Boston's most famed tourist destinations, and attracts large amounts of foot traffic. Newbury Street also commands considerable amounts of foot traffic and attention around the holiday season. Furthermore, a CBRE New England market outlook expects rents to stabilize in 2018.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

With Sea Levels Rising, Boston Harbor May Need Barrier Wall Protections


As sea levels dramatically rise, reports have been spreading on the idea of creating a colossal, multibillion dollar wall in Boston Harbor to protect the Seaport Neighborhood and nearby Boston neighborhoods from coastal flooding damages. Extreme flooding is expected in the coming years and decades, as climate change causes sea levels to rise.

A research team at the University of Boston is researching harbor barriers to protect the city from damaging floods. The smallest barrier proposed, would connect Logan Airport in East Boston with Castle Island in South Boston, thereby safeguarding the city's inner harbor and downtown from detrimental tidal floods. The wall barrier was also recommended in Boston's Climate Ready Boston report last year. The report stated that the barrier could potentially work well in Boston's shallow waters, but it would have to be created in a way that minimizes negative impacts on navigation and the environment. Another one would stretch 3.8 miles from Winthrop to Hull, and cost between $8 billion and $11.8 billion to build.


Another study suggested that Boston embrace the water, and convert streets into canals, similar to Venice. Researches have also suggested solutions taking place on shore, which would cost a fraction of the proposed protective barrier wall cost. These suggest shore-based systems include protective flood walls, on a small smaller scale than the proposed harbor-wide barriers. Other shore-based solutions include changes to zoning laws, and raising of the land using berms. Another great benefit of shore-based solutions would be the much smaller time frame the projects would take to reach completion. Shore-based alternatives could be built in a matter of years, while the proposed harbor-side barrier stretching from Winthrop to Hull, would most likely not reach completion until 2050. If the city of Boston decides to move forward with protective harbor-wide barrier plans, it could potentially take decades of planning and billions of dollars spent before barriers are built.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

The True Difference Between Renting and Buying

Both owning and renting have their advantages, but ultimately the decision comes down to your personal circumstances and financial situation. Home ownership is a serious financial commitment that requires you to plan ahead and reflect on where your life is going. One large part of home ownership which many people neglect to address, is the risk associated with owning a home. This powerful factor will help determine if you will be satisfied as a long term renter, or future home buyer.

Renting offers a risk-free lifestyle, where if you are unsatisfied with your landlord you can leave within 12 months of signing your lease. If your taste in apartment style changes, or you decide you need more space, you can quickly find a new home after finishing your lease.

Furthermore, there are established legal protections for renters, promising that broken roofs and gas leaks will not leave tenants penniless and homeless. If you decide to purchase property, you are opening yourself up to large risk and liability factors. Unexpected repairs and maintenance issues can quickly drain your bank account. Furthermore, taxes can change quickly and without notice. Even if you decide to purchase a condominium, homeowner's association's fees can increase monthly, only requiring a majority vote. Rentals can also generate unexpected expenses and increases, and may cost more (in the long run), however renters are paying a premium fee to live without financial and monetary risk. Ultimately, your financial situation and comfort level with the risk factors associated with home ownership, will guide your decision.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

4 Growing Rental Market Trends for 2018

As we journey through 2018, there are a growing number of changing trends in the real estate industry, which are altering all aspects of the rental market. Real estate investors, real estate agents, and property managers should all study these growing real estate trends and make the necessary adjustments to their current business strategies, in order to meet tenant expectations and ensure success.

1. Affordability Factors Changing the Rental Market

Two major forces driving the rental market are population shifts and affordability. Affordability has become an increasing issue for many Americans, causing the government to continuously offer affordability programs and tax credits. Many states already posses laws that require a certain fixed ratio of every new apartment building to offer affordability programs and tax credits. For example, the city of San Francisco is spending $44 million for a teacher housing initiative, which will enable more teachers to live and work in one of the most expensive cities in the country. 

One of the biggest changes in affordable housing is the growing emphasis on housing choice voucher programs, rather than public housing. This will require property managers to understand and successfully manage affordable housing programs. 

2. Technology Shaping the Rental Industry

The use of technology and AI software will bring immense shifts to the rental industry. Technology will alter the rental industry from property valuation to property management. In property management specifically, the use of AI robots are becoming increasingly popular. AI robots can offer tenants better and quicker service, while automating maintenance issues.

Voice technology is also becoming a growing part of property management, allowing renters to pay rent by voice and immediatly make maintenance requests. Technology has also allowed real estate agents to give potential tenants virtual apartment tours, and closing rental deals without the tenant ever stepping foot in the property. Conclusively, real estate professionals who can successfully adapt to growing technology changes and use technology to their advantage, will experience growing success in the coming years.

3. Flourishing Market Opportunities 

While the media has focused on trends in moving to particular cities, like Nashville, the truth is, the entire Southeast and Northwest are becoming preferred living destinations. Popular rental markets tend to follow job and population growth. Other growing non-geographic real estate opportunities are senior housing and affordable housing. The population of U.S adults 65 and over will more than double by 2060, hitting 98 million. That will be nearly one quarter of the population, which signifies a substantial demand for senior housing. Many developers and investors have been converting multi-family complexes into independent senior housing communities to prepare for this growing trend.

4. Occupancy Rates Falling

While rent demand is strong in major metropolitan cities, rent demand is slowing in most areas of the United States, especially single family units. As occupancy rates slump, property managers will have to aggressively recruit new tenants, while keeping current tenants happy and encouraging lease renewals. Having strong systems in place to handle tenant emergencies and maintenance requests is crucial to keep tenants satisfied. 

Saturday, April 7, 2018

7 Tips for Being a Successful Landlord


1. Screen Tenants Diligently 

In order to become a successful landlord and property manager, properly screening tenants is a necessity. Landlords need to thoroughly run background and credit checks to ensure potential tenants are financially reliable and satisfactory citizens. In addition to criminal background checks, successful landlords take the time to look up tenant applicants in the county clerk of courts database for civil lawsuits. 

2. Enforce Your Lease Contracts

In addition to creating a strong and thoughtfully crafted lease, successful landlords diligently enforce their leases and protect their assets. Leases are designed to protect properties from physical damage, and landlords from legal liabilities. Landlords should be diligent about setting standards and expectations, and fines for any tenant who decides to break the lease. Landlords need to accept full responsibility for firmly and professionally enforcing lease agreements. Ensure that leases are air tight, and set out the terms and conditions of your tenants in great detail. 

3. Encourage Good Behavior

Successful landlords are both creative and and inventive towards building a successful real estate business. Many landlords specifically build their lease with incentives for good behavior and harsh penalties for bad behavior. Some landlords will give a $100 discount for early rent payments, which brings spectacular results. Also many landlords will charge a 20% service charge on cleaning and damage costs taken from the security deposit. Furthermore, make it very clear that overdue rental payments will incur late fees. The extra income will help compensate for the burden of not receiving the rent on time. 

4.  Document Details

When it comes to building a successful rental property business, it is imperative to always record any agreements, important conversations, and contracts. Verbal agreements hold no weight, and all contracts must be professionally enforced and signed. In order to protect your interests and the interests of you tenants, always record agreements, contracts, and important discussions in writing.

5. Keep Tenants Satisfied

Keeping tenants satisfied and happy with their living experience should be the top priority for all landlords and property managers. Furthermore, keeping tenants happy highly increases the chances of  raising tenant retention rates. Retaining tenants is beneficial for landlords, because it removes the time and effort involved in finding and screening new tenants every year. Successful landlords always treat their tenants with respect, respond to issues promptly, and listen carefully to complaints and constructive criticism. Seek to understand their position and and keep in mind how they may perceive your actions.

6. Properly Clean and Secure Your Residence

As a landlord, it is imperative to always keep the grounds of your property clean and free of debris. In addition to assisting landlords with property liability, the residences will always look professional and immaculate. Tenants are more likely to renew their lease when they are comfortable and happy with their living environment. Furthermore, it is important to always provide extra security measures, to ensure tenants feel safe and secure. Providing extra security measures can even lower insurance premiums in certain situations.

7. Fix Repairs Promptly

One of the most powerful ways to ensure tenants renew their lease, is to always provide them with a comfortable and exceptional living experience. Answer repair calls promptly, and repair issues as quickly as possible. When it comes to furnaces and other necessary appliances and fixtures, repairs cannot be substanially delayed.


Friday, March 16, 2018

What To Understand About Real Estate Appraisals


When purchasing or selling a property, real estate appraisals are often necessary, especially if the buyer is using a mortgage loan to purchase the property. The appraisal value of a property often influences the buyer to purchase the property or move on. If the buyer is seeking a mortgage loan to purchase the property, an appraisal is often ordered by the lender. The lender will want to obtain an appraisal to determine the true value of the property, independent of it's listed or negotiated price, to measure against what the buyer has agreed to pay. Appraisers will use their knowledge and experience to deliver an accurate home appraisal report.

As a buyer or seller, it is essential to understand the appraisal process. Continue reading our blog to discover the 7 most commonly asked questions about appraisals, and the truth behind the appraisal process.

1. Are Appraisals Really Necessary? 

Appraisals are highly suggested for all property transactions, however appraisals are only necessary when the buyer is seeking to obtain a mortgage. Since sellers want to obtain as much money as possible for their property, and buyers only want to spend what is deserved and necessary, professional appraisals make senses for both parties involved. 

Lenders always order appraisals to protect themselves. If the buyer defaults on the loan for any reason, the lender wants to know that they can sell the property to obtain the money back. Lenders never want to receive low appraisals before handing out home mortgages.

2. Who Hires the Appraiser? 

The appraiser is hired through the lender giving the mortgage, through a third-party company. Appraisers and lenders are forbidden from being in direct communication. The appraiser is a licensed professional that successfully completes licensing coursework and internship hours. The appraiser is also required to be an objective third party with no connections to anyone involved in the transaction. 

3. What Does a Real Estate Appraisal Report Contain? 

The real estate appraisal will contain specific details concerning the subject property. Included in the report, will be comparisons between similar properties that have recently sold or are for sale. The appraiser will also provide a detailed evaluation summarizing how the real estate market is performing in that specific area. Any issues or potential issues the appraiser is concerned over will be highlighted in the appraisal report. There will also be flagged descriptions of any important issues such as water penetration through the roof, or cracked walls. The appraisal will also include an estimate of the average sales price for other comparable homes.

4. Are There Multiple Types of Appraisals?

The most common and frequently used type of appraisal is a full appraisal, which includes the appraiser carefully inspecting both the inside and outside of the property. Exterior-only appraisals are sometimes performed, and are referred to as "drive-by appraisal". Drive-by appraisals are not as compressive as a full appraisal, and are often used by lenders who do not possess much doubt concerning the property being appraised.

5. What Does the Appraisal Process Really Involve? 

The appraiser will go throughout the house and inspect its state of repair, square footage, and features. The appraiser will mainly be looking for features which help determine the property market value. The appraiser will go through each room, taking careful notes of all details, big and small, which are required to accurately compare and contract nearby homes that have sold in the area. Once all details of the house are carefully inspected and recorded, the appraisor will look over the sales of recent homes in the area, and summarize a comparison before delivering the final appraisal report.

6. What is the Difference Between an Appraisal and a Home Inspection? 

Although often confused with each other, home appraisals and home inspections are two very different operations. An appraisal simply focuses on generating an accurate market value of the home, while a home inspection focuses on identifying problems associated with the home. While appraisals look for obvious defects, home inspections go much deeper and intrusive. Home inspections aim to discover faults with the property that are not discoverable by simply looking at the property.

7. Is the Appraisal Information Available to the Public?

No, home appraisal reports are not available to the public. The appraisal report belongs exclusively to the party who ordered it, not necessarily the party who paid for it. If the lender orders the appraisals, the lender have full access to the appraisal, and is responsible for sharing that information with the appropriate parties. Usually, the buyer is responsible for paying for the appraisal. The lender or mortgage holder is required to give the buyer a copy of the appraisal report by law.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Top 7 Reasons Landlords Should Hire Property Management Companies


When you become a landlord, you are faced with the options of hiring a property management company to handle your properties, or self-managing your real estate. If you decide to take on the task alone, you will be faced with all tasks related to rent, tenants, property maintenance and repairs, business operations, and more. When you hire a property management company, you will pay a monthly percentage of your rental income to someone else responsible for filling vacancies, responding to maintenance requests, collecting rent, responsibly managing and cleaning the property, and preparing the property for new tenants.

If you decide to take the self-management route, most of your time will be consumed with the difficult aspects of rental management, including late night maintenance phone calls, missed rent payments, and challenging property repairs. Finding peaceful quiet time to yourself will become difficult. In order to diligently manage rental properties and keep tenants satisfied, you will need someone available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Middle-of-the-night maintenance calls, problem tenants, and missed rental payments will become frequent. If you own large properties, hiring a property manager will make business operations uncomplicated and smooth. Property management companies specialize in the day-to-day operations of rental property management, and are diligently equipped to handle rental requests and maintenance problems. Before making the decision to hire a property management company, there are numerous considerations you should contemplate to decide whether employing property managers is the correct business decision for you.

Here are the primary 7 reasons hiring a property management company is beneficial for landlords.

1. Travel Distance

When weighing the decision between enlisting a property management company to handle your properties, or self-managing your properties, consider the travel distance between your home and rental properties. Tenant and property management issues do not follow a specific time schedule. You may face multiple rental and maintenance requests in one day. Consider whether the travel distance between your home and rental properties, are worth the time and effort to constantly travel back and forth. Many rental and maintenance requests will be short-notice. Therefore, traveling or going on vacations will become stressful, considering you cannot predict when you will be required to visit your rental properties. If you value freedom, and possess other important family and work commitments, hiring a property management company will be a valuable decision. Professional property managers can take major stress from your life and allow you to unwind without the fear of maintenance emergencies and short-notice rental requests.

2. Maintenance Requests

Unless you can afford to purchase a newly built property in pristine condition, you will most likely settle on purchasing a property in need of a considerable amount of maintenance and upgrades. As your rental properties become worn down by constant tenants, the amount of maintenance requests received will skyrocket. Many landlords find constant repairs overwhelming and time-consuming, preventing them from handling other important business and marketing operations. Day-to-day maintenance requests such as lightbulb changes, leaking faucets, and broken appliances, can end up taking up your whole entire work day. Furthermore, maintenance requests come at all hours of the day, and tenants expect fast repairs. Waiting a few hours to have a leaking ceiling or broken appliance can cause major dissatisfaction in tenants, causing them to discontinue their lease renewal and/or spread negative publicity about your rental properties. Employing a property management company will give your rental property tenants an overall smoother and supreme rental experience, increasing the probability of repeat tenants and lease renewals.

3. Tenant Screening and Rental Requests

If you decide to self-manage your properties, you will quickly discover how time-consuming and frustrating the rental process can be. Missed property showings, incomplete paperwork, and tedious rental screenings will take up the majority of your time. Conducting adequate rental screenings will be a tedious and time-consuming process, that will take patience and persistence before seeing successful results. Rental screenings are necessary in order to find tenants who are responsible, reliable, and able to always pay their rent on time. 

Property management companies will handle the rental requests and entire rental process, allowing you to spend time committed to other important business operations. Furthermore, property managements companies are trained and skilled in rental operation matters, and know the exact qualities to look for in potential tenants. They will take away the pressure of filling vacancies quickly, and time spent on arduous paperwork and tenant screening protocols. Since property management companies are paid by accepting a fixed percentage of your monthly rental income, you will not feel financially pressured or constrained if vacancies are not filling quickly enough.

4. Tenant Evictions and Difficult Tenants

Employing the right property management company can save you the money, headaches, and stress it takes evicting a difficult and problematic tenant. Property managers also have the time and experience necessary to properly screen tenants and only find responsible and courteous tenants, preventing the frequency of tenant evictions and burdensome issues. Managing evictions, problem tenants, and late rent payments are some of the most important tasks property managers take on which will ease your stress and workload.

5. Personal Responsibilities

Managing rental properties is often time-consuming and arduous, making personal responsibilies harder for landlords who decide to take the self-management route. In order to properly and diligently manage your rental properties, you need to evaluate what parts of life take up considerable amounts of time. If you are a full-time employee, you will not be able to devote enough time on your own to properly manage rental properties and satisfy the needs of your tenants. Hiring a property management company allows you focus on expanding your real estate portfolio rather than handling the time-draining duties associated with managing your own rental properties. 

Furthermore, whether you have a large and busy family will reasonably affect your decision in hiring property managers. Making time for family is difficult when you are constantly bombarded with rental requests and maintenance requests at all hours of the day and night. Tenants expect quick responses, and not responding in a reasonably timely manner will damage your profitability and lower your lease renewal frequency. Having children or managing a successful relationship will be immensely difficult if you decide to self-manage your properties. 

6. Ethics and Legal Issues

Many landlords are former homeowners who are not completely familiar with state and local laws, including fair housing laws, eviction laws, and proper lease terms. By making one small error, you can find yourself in a long and arduous legal battle. Hiring a professional property management company ensures that your rental property will be adaquately and properly handled by experienced property management professionals. You will feel more peaceful and at ease knowing your property is being cared for by seasoned property management experts, who will handle showings, evictions, and lease terms legally and correctly.  

7. Property Maintenance 

To successfully and properly manage a property, requires extreme diligence, hard work, and time. Property maintenance is considered the most expensive and time-consuming part of home ownership. Rental properties are even more expensive to maintain due to potential turnover rates and the occasional reckless tenant. Every time a tenant moves out, there are costs associated with the process, including cleaning, repairs, marketing and advertising, re-keying locks, screening, and more. By properly maintaining your property, you can retain quality tenants and fill vacancies quickly. 

Property management companies will handle small maintenance issues quickly, ensuring your property is correctly repaired, and tenants are satisfied. You will not have to worry about canceled vacations or canceled personal commitments to fix leaky ceilings and broken appliances. Overall, hiring a property management company takes away the stress and pressure of maintaining renal properties. Furthermore, hiring a property management company to maintain your rental property financially pays off, due to your properties always looking pristine and rarely experiencing vacancies. 

Sunday, January 28, 2018

7 Tips to Taking Better Rental Property Photographs


You never get a second chance at a first impression. As technology grows, potential tenants are checking out your property online before considering even stepping foot onto your property. By amping up your rental property photographs, you can powerfully increase the chances of potential tenants visiting your property. Stand out from thousands of others Boston rentals by incorporating professional photography and staging into your real estate marketing approach. Before hiring a professional photographer, consider adopting these 7 photography practices.

1. Upgrade Your Camera

It is vital to take the best quality property photographs possible, in order to attract serious and high quality tenants. Consider purchasing a DSLR camera to capture professional, crisp images. The Nikon D800 and D7000 are excellent for full-frame real estate photographs, and are affordable options for property managers on a budget. These models are easy to use, and do not require any professional photography training to successfully operate. Also consider purchasing a tripod to capture level and full-frame photographs. 

2. Staging is Key

Assemble furniture and props to provide tenants with a realistic view of how their rental property could look. Clear clutter and unattractive furnishings to provide a clean and clear view of your property. Only include the basic furniture essentials, and keep decorations minimal and timeless.

3. Create Good Lighting 

Before taking photographs, ensure the space is properly lit. When shooting interior photographs, open nearby blinds and windows to take advantage of natural light. Even if it is an extremely bright and sunny day outside, the sun can create harsh shadows on your furniture. Switch on the flash even during the day, the extra lighting will fill in unsightly shadows and create a more balanced exposure. 


4.  Properly Adjust ISO Settings

Properly measuring ISO is essential when taking professional photographs. ISO measures the sensitivity of the image sensor. The lower the ISO number is, the more sensitive your camera will be to light and the photographs produced will possess more grain. Higher ISO settings are generally used in darker situations to attain fast shutter speeds. If you are taking your exterior real estate photographs outdoors during the day, you will need to utilize a lower ISO such as 100 or 200. If you are shooting indoors in the afternoon or evening, you will have to increase the ISO to a higher number to record the light on the camera's sensor. If the natural lighting is very dark indoors, you will need to use much higher ISO such as 800 or 1600. Keep in mind, increasing your ISO also increases the grain or pixel size of your photographs, so try to incorporate natural lighting as much as possible in order to keep your ISO balanced.

5. Use Landscape Orientation for Optimal Viewing

Always shoot your real estate photographs in the horizontal or landscape orientation whenever possible. Humans find the horizontal and landscape viewing more aesthetically pleasing, and horizontal images capture the full essence of a space. This allows a wider shot which produces a true sense of depth and detail.

6. Utilize a Wide Angle Camera Lens

Avoid using poor quality fisheye lenses, and instead invest in a wide angle camera lens. The trend in real estate of using a fisheye lens dramatically distorts property images and is deceiving to the potential property tenant. Making a space look larger than it is by distorting the area is not going to increase a renter's interest. Invest in a wide angle camera lens to realistically advertise your property and capture the whole space.

7. Edit Photographs Carefully

Ensure when editing your property photographs to not seriously distort the true image. Keep editing very minimal and avoid unnatural filters. If the lighting needs to be adjusted in the editing stages, slightly adjust the brightness balance until the image looks crisp, clear, and realistic. 




Wednesday, January 17, 2018

5 Tips To Improve Your Rental Property


As 2018 commences, rental property owners should assess their rental portfolio to attract a steady stream of quality and serious rental tenants. Potential tenants will be checking out your website and property photographs before ever even stepping foot on your property. These relatively inexpensive tips will drastically improve your rental property, while maximizing its income potential.

1. Amp Up Your Rental Property Photos

One way to improve your rental property marketing approach is through high quality photographs, which highlight the spectacular features of your property. Many potential property renters will quickly skim through online rental portfolios, and immediatly reject any properties with low resolution and poor quality photographs. 

Consider purchasing a professional DSLR camera to capture high quality, crisp images. If your photography skills are lacking, look into hiring a professional photographer to capture your rental properties in a positive and professional manner. Posting professional photographs of your rental properties online shows potential tentants a clear impression of your property. Furthermore, taking the time and effort to post professional photographs shows potential tenants that the property managers are diligent, professional, and organized. 

If you plan on taking professional images yourself, ensure that the lighting is adequate and not too dark. For interior shots, open nearby blinds and windows to capture natural light. Furthermore, staging is key when taking professional property photographs. Clear rooms of all clutter, and incorporate furniture and props to provide potential tenants with a realistic idea of how their new rental property could look.

2. Modernize Kitchens and Bathrooms

Providing tenants with modern and squeaky clean kitchen and bathrooms will powerfully improve your rental properties. Before upgrading any room, focus on the kitchen and bathrooms first. Beautiful and modern kitchen and bathrooms will attract high quality tenants. Replace outdated kitchen appliances with modern, stainless steel alternatives. Upgrade dated bathroom tiles, toilets, and showers with sleek and modern options. By upgrading the bathrooms and kitchen, the monthly rent of your rental property will highly increase. Furthermore,  undergoing a kitchen renovation can also solve many mechanical issues and lower maintenance requests, as many old appliances tend to falter and fail. 

3. Replace Dated Light Fixtures

Replace outdated light fixtures with modern, elegant alternatives that will appeal to potential rental tenants. This inexpensive fix can immediately improve the ambiance of any room, and impress potential tenants. Modern chandeliers will give small apartments a boost in appeal and style. Other examples of fixtures that need replacing are:
  • Door handles that stick
  • Mini-binds with missing slats
  • Faucets or tubs that drip 
  • Cabinet hardware that has lost it's finish

4. Maintain Landscaping 

The exterior of your rental property provides potential tenants with their first impression of your property. Ensure the exterior of your property is always properly maintained and cared for.

Always mow the grass before potential showings. If you have flowerbeds and bushes, spread fresh mulch down to give the exterior a healthy glow. Finally, ensure your property is safe and secured by checking all gate hinges, removing any broken concrete from sidewalks, and confirm the pathways are sturdy.

5. Increase Storage Room

Storage is an overlooked yet highly important priority for renters. Property managers can boost the value of their property by increasing storage options. Some simple ways to increase storage include adding hooks to main areas like entryways and bathrooms, installing closet organizing systems, and adding additional shelving in pantries. More elaborate storage upgrades include installing permanent shelving in the garage, creating built-in shelves, framing in a new closet, and adding a shed on the property.