Thursday, December 13, 2018

5 Winter Maintenance Tips for Property Owners and Property Managers

As the cold winter approaches, property owners and property managers should start preparing for the detrimental impact winter may have on their properties. Luckily, by proactively protecting your properties and being fully prepared for winter storms, you can easily avoid any negative damages from harsh winter storms. Here are 5 simple steps for protecting your homes from the damaging winter weather this upcoming season:

1. Inspect the Exterior of Your Properties

Before the harsh snow storms appear, ensure that your properties are in excellent condition and are capable of withstanding winter weather. First, inspect your property for dying trees and broken branches which could potentially damage your property when high winds and aggressive storms arise. Also, inspect your property for seemingly harmless defects, such as small cracks in siding and windows. Freezing winter conditions can quickly intensify these problems, causing larger and more expensive repairs in the near future.

2. Reserve your Snow-Clearing Contractors in Advance

When the first cold winter storm hits, you want your properties to be cleared out first. Make the time to set up contracts with snow-removal companies, to avoid long wait times and aggravated tenants. Monitor the storm forecasts and weather reports and call in advance to secure their services.

3. Check for Build-Up and Snow-Pooling on Roofs

Perhaps one of the most overlooked ways to prepare your properties for winter is to ensure your properties have robust roofs that are able to withstand the heavy snow and ice. Begin by thoroughly checking rooftop AC units and vents for any leaves or debris that would prevent snow from properly melting and draining throughout the winter season. Also, inspect your gutters and clean out any lingering debris. During snow storms, monitoring snow build-up on your roof is just as important as well. Check the distribution of snow build-up to make sure the property isn't overloaded. Low-sloop roofs especially are at a greater risk for pooling, which can result in leaks and heavy property damage.

4. Stock up on Anti-Icing and De-Icing Products

During winter, always keep your properties and buildings safe and risk-free. Preventing icy sidewalks and maximizing safety is extremely important. Simply sprinkling rock salt outside of the building and nearby sidewalks will not fix the problem. As a responsible property manager, it is absolutely essential to invest in anti-icing and de-icing products. De-icing products will melt snow and ice after they fall, while anti-icing products will prevent the snow from sticking to begin with. Anti-icing products are an amazing way to minimize winter snow build-up, while also making snow and ice much easier to remove. Most likely, you will need a strong combination of both anti-icing and de-icing products to face the winter strongly and vigorously.

5. Leave the Heat on

Always remember to remind tenants to maintain a minimum temperature of 55 degree Fahrenheit when they go away on vacation. This will prevent pipes from freezing and bursting from cold winter temperatures.

Zillow is Expanding to Buying and Selling Homes

Zillow is expanding, and shaking up the real estate industry in the process. The online real estate company recently expanded into the mortgage business with their acquisition of of Mortgage Lenders of America. Now, Zillow is ready to start buying homes directly from sellers for cash, making whatever improvements are necessary, and listing them for sale.

Zillow's new direct buyer business is called Zillow Offers. Zillow quietly launched their direct buying business in Phoenix in April; now their services are available in Las Vegas, Atlanta, and Denver. The company will be soon expanding to California and North Carolina as well. As of this week, potential home sellers in the Charlotte, North Carolina area will be able to request a free, no-obligation cash offer for their home from Zillow. If the seller agrees to accept the offer, they then pick a closing date which works best for them. Zillow then takes possession of the home, does any necessary home improvements or cleaning, and sells the home for profit.

What makes Zillow's direct buying program different from others, is that Zillow is not cutting real estate agents out of the process. Zillow will be assigning a local real estate agent in the purchase and sale of each home, which will allow the real estate agents to earn commission. Zillow will be represented by the Redbud Group at Keller Williams South Park in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Zillow will be partnering with multiple brokerages across the United States, even giving them leads from motivated sellers, who decide not to accept Zillow's cash offer. Zillow has become part of the growing trend of real-estate companies buying homes directly from owners. Zillow's new service will be available in eight U.S countries by the end of 2019, interested homeowners will receive a preliminary offer within 2 days and close the sale in as little as 7 days from signing.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

4 Low-Cost Ways to Increase the Value of Your Rental Property

1. Give your property curb appeal.

Prospective tenants will always view the outside of your property first, and first impressions are extremely important. An appealing and clean front lawn will help create an initial positive impression and set the mood for the remainder of the property tour. If you are not working with an extensive budget, upgrade whatever you can to make your property look clean and presentable. Remove fallen branches, leaves, and any debris which makes your property look worn and cluttered. Trim overgrown bushes and shrubs. Consider placing down fresh mulch, and adding bushes and flowers. Simply adding a new mailbox or a freshly painted one will make the property look fresh and new. Having outdoor lights and shutters can quickly and inexpensively make the exterior of your property pop. Furthermore, if there is a fence around your property, make sure it looks appealing. A broken fence or missing pickets is extremely unsightly, and not what any tenant wants to see. Ensure your fence is uniform and clean throughout the yard.

2. Extensively clean your entire property. 

Re-painting the entire exterior and interior of your property will add up extremely quickly, however cleaning the entire property is a more inexpensive way to increase property value. While scrubbing the exterior and interior of your property, consider painting any noticeable areas which need touch-ups. Overall, make sure the exterior of your property looks welcoming and bright. A freshly painted door gives the impression that you've actually renovated the house for the next tenant.

3. Upgrade your kitchen appliances.

Thoroughly inspect your kitchen appliances to decide if your property could use an upgrade. Brand new, shiny, and modern kitchen appliances will help raise the perceived value of your property and be extremely appealing to new tenants. Give potential tenants the functionality, quality, and aesthetic that they desire without breaking the bank. Stainless steel is the standard for modern kitchen appliances. Furthermore, the industry is moving towards appliances that are integrated within cabinetry. 

4. Create a higher demand.

A law of economics states that a commodity demands higher value when its demand goes up. If you successfully apply this rule when you're showing your property to respective tenants, you may be able to demand higher rent. If possible, invite all your prospects to inspect the house at nearly the same time. When the prospects see a large demand for your property, they will feel more inclined to pay a premium. They will also feel as if they want it more than they would otherwise. It's simply human nature.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Why Boston Remains one of the Most Expensive Places to Rent a One-Bedroom

New reports show that Boston's median rent for a one-bedroom apartment is $2,340 per month, making it one of the most expensive places in the United States to rent a one-bedroom. Boston ranks as the fourth most expensive city to rent a one-bedroom apartment, trailing just behind San Francisco ($3,500 per month), New York ($2,900 per month), and San Jose ($2,550 per month). Nationally, the median price for a one-bedroom is just $1,208 per month.

Boston's sales market also remains one of the most expensive in the nation. The median asking price for condos in the city both run well over $500,000. In several neighborhoods, it's not unusual to see asking prices averaging for more than $1,000 per square foot. 

There are multiple reasons for Boston's extraordinarily high price points, starting with high barriers to entry in the sales markets surrounding Boston. Neighboring cities including Cambridge, Brookline, and Somerville also command consistently high prices. Furthermore, Boston is full of wealthy tenants with money to spend. Although the city boasts a large share of rent-burdened households (where tenants pay at least 30 percent of their income in rent), Boston also has a sizable proportion of residents who find $2,500 a month for a one-bedroom not a big deal.

Another reason for Boston's high rents, are the tight inventory of apartments. Boston is home to more than 30 universities, colleges, and community colleges. Despite apartment construction booming in recent years, it's still not enough to satisfy the demand. Furthermore, the horrible commutes in and out of Boston have worsened over the year, raising the demand to live directly in the city. The proportion of Boston-area commuters who travel more than 90 minutes to and from work has increased a whopping 50.1% from 2005 to 2016.

Monday, October 22, 2018

How to Prepare a Dream Vacation Rental

If you are considering listing your home as a vacation rental, you should understand what qualities and features travelers find welcoming, and what features turn them off. Firstly, offering high-quality amenities and toiletries is key. This small detail goes a long way, and truly affects the overall ambiance and atmosphere of your vacation rental. Many travelers desire high-quality sheets and towels, as well as a satisfying selection of soap and toiletries. This makes your rental warm and inviting, while showing your guests both thoughtfulness and care. In a study conducted by Airbnb this summer, travelers rating their vacation cared most about the quality of their accommodations, followed by amenities that are both thoughtful and functional.

Make your vacation rental stand out by providing guests with comfortable amenities and accommodations. In addition to the basic shampoo, body wash, and conditioner, consider a bottle of wine, snacks, or a fully loaded beach bag. Offering guests a fully loaded snack bar and chilled beverages, are very small details which will make even the most modest space feel welcoming and inviting. Small details truly go a long way. Even adding incense, aromatherapy, or fresh flowers to your apartment rental can improve the ambiance and make guests feel at home right away.

Another necessity to making travelers feel welcome and comfortable, is cleanliness. Hosting a dirty vacation rental is incredibly bad for repeat business. After every guest, there needs to be a complex cleaning plan. The vacation rental should look, feel, and be clean. Usually this means hiring a professional cleaning service before and after each guest checks out. This investment will cause your positive reviews to shoot up, leading to more business and revenue.

This also means, get rid of stained and old-looking carpets, refinish wood flooring, and lay fresh tile or new rugs. Provide several mirrors throughout the rental, as well as storage, and a folder or notes on how to operate any equipment.

Another way to make your property stand out, is to include thoughtful suggestions on what to do and where to go in the local area. Furthermore, some Airbnb hosts have found success through offering incentives for longer stays, like a gift certificate to a local restaurant.

Keep the decor minimal and clean, choosing only a few statement pieces. Neutral colors are best, since every guest will have different taste and styles.

Furthermore, consider having your vacation rental professionally photographed, to attract more business and frequent bookings. In addition to professional photography, the images should be staged so that the lifestyle and accommodations are being properly marketed and look appealing. Take seasonal photographs of the yard and outside to make the experience feel more personal and welcoming.

Remember, this may be your guests' first time in your city or town. Do your best to give them a warm and welcoming experience, make your accommodations thoughtful; offer generous toiletries and functional gifts. Keep in mind, the smallest and friendliest details can go a long way, and lead to an abundance of repeat bookings and customers.

Monday, October 1, 2018

Rents are Quickly Rising in Once-Affordable Old Apartments

Older apartment units that were once heavily sought for their relative affordability, are seeing a sharp increase in median rental prices across the United States. In fact, units at properties built in 1959 or earlier had a higher median rent increase from 2000 to 2016 than those half their age, according to a study published by Apartment List. Compared to newer building built in the 1990's or after, older buildings are still less expensive to rent by approximately 23%. 

Older buildings have traditionally been seen as an affordable rental option, however many old apartments have been taken off the market for extensive renovations, resulting in high rental prices once returning to the market. The 1970's and 1980's saw the country's biggest surge in multifamily construction across the United States, with numerous apartment buildings being newly designed and built. However, these older units are now prime targets of reconstruction and redevelopment. Renters seeking affordable home options once sought out older apartment buildings, however finding a budget-friendly older building to rent is becoming increasingly difficult across the entire United States. The lack of unrenovated older apartment units are likely to climb in median rental prices as well, since the demand for older, relatively affordable rentals units is highly increasing. 

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.

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.