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5 Steps You Can Start TODAY to Get More Resident Lease Renewals

Feb 11 2015

1) Contact Information Audit -
If you haven’t done one of these recently, it’s well past due. I am aware of how tedious it is to call every single resident and confirm or gather their contact info, but doing this serves some great purposes. First, you need that info. And you need more than just a phone number. With the prevalence of throw and go cell phones these days, you need a contact method that’s a little more dependable, namely email. I’m a big fan of also gathering permission to text your residents with information at this point as well. Secondly, when you make it a point to call every resident, you’re TALKING TO EVERY RESIDENT. You have a chance here to touch base with your customers and take the relationship temperature – Do they need a work order that they haven’t thought of? Are they still pleased with their home? Have little problems been building into big frustrations? This a good chance for you to root out those problems!

2) Work Order Audit-
If your office staff or maintenance staff doesn’t follow up on every work order done each week, this is a good time to start. Satisfacts Research has found direct correlations between outstanding and poorly completed work orders and resident turnover, and all it takes is a phone call, email, or text message to check in with your customers and make sure that the work was done to their standards. If you’re working in a busy office, make it your goal to follow up with 10 residents a day. Just 10. You spend more time than that on Facebook each day looking at people posting pictures of their dogs.

3) Get “Micro-Managey” with Your Property Walks-
That’s right, even when you do get a second to sit down, I’m asking you to get up out of that chair and walk your property. I want you to scrutinize imperfections like you were the biggest micro management manager on the planet. Take with you a legal pad and draw a line vertically down the middle. On one side of the line write “NOW” and on the other write “TBD” and list every single problem that you see in one column or the other. In the NOW column, write down little problems and short projects that you’ve been overlooking or procrastinating on. If it is a small thing that will take 5 minutes of a tech or leasing consultant’s time, then divvy up that part list and hand it out to your team, keeping some tasks for yourself. For the larger tasks, sit down with your maintenance supervisor and management team and get them scheduled on a calendar. If you don’t set a date, you’ll never get them done, and your residents notice when you procrastinate upkeep tasks on the property like pressure washing, painting, restriping the parking lot and repainting curbs.

4) While you’re doing number 3, don’t be all business about it
When we get clipboard tunnel syndrome, it’s easy to focus on that task in front of us and ONLY on that task. The problem with this approach is that you miss the life happening around you while you’re making your lists, and it’s that life, that community, buzzing around you that helps you rent your apartments, not to mention keep your residents. Make sure that you’re asking residents while you’re out and about making your lists how their lives are going, and then, if they actually answer you, please listen. Converse with them, make them feel appreciated or just on equal footing with you, and they’re more likely to stick around, even through the less than pleasant (for them) rent hike we know we have to hand out this year.

5) Don’t hide the rental rates
I wasn’t a fan as folks did this when the market was going badly, but I could see their reasoning behind it. But now?! Showing your rates and making that knowledge not only available, but visible to your resident base prepares them for the rental increase that’s coming. In fact, you could really look awesome here and by allowing them to see what the current market rent is, make sure that the renewal rate is a smidgen lower. The residents feel validated and appreciated, even though the rate is going up, and you’re not paying the cost of turning that unit, which, let’s face it, was going to cost you 2 to 3 thousand dollars. I think compared to that, a little off the top of their rental rate is a pretty small price to pay.

None of this is rocket science, but I didn’t promise you rocket science. I promised 5 things you could do today. Now – Time is opportunity! Get out there and make the most of it!

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If you’ve ever considered investing in a few rental properties in Philadelphia or Bucks County, PA now might be a good time. Prices are still low in Philadelphia, but have been on the upswing. According to the National Association of Realtors, the median price of an existing home in a US metropolitan area grew 13.7% between July 2012 and July 2013, the latest in a 17-month streak of year-over-year price increases. 

New landlords can choose from properties that are likely to appreciate and a large pool of potential renters.Licensed realtor Pat Mueller cites a few reasons for this trend: “Many families have lost their homes to foreclosure and are entering the rentals market for the first time in years. Mortgages are also harder to get now, so fewer people are qualifying for a new one.”The more skills you bring to the table to get into Houses for Rent in Philadelphia Philadelphia or Bucks County, PA and the more time you have to devote to your properties, the faster you can make a return on your investment. 

But investing in rentals can also be disastrous (or too stressful to be worthwhile) without expertise. Here are three professionals you may consult about your new rental properties, and what you can do to mitigate how much they cost you:Handyman:  You may need to hire a specialist for some work on your rental. If you need new outlets or new pipes, for example, hire an electrician, plumber or licensed contractor. Handymen usually tackle smaller, more manageable tasks, like:

  • Painting and paint removal
  • Drywall repair
  • Minor appliance repairs (fixing a leaky toilet or faucet, among others)
  • Installing tiling or flooring, moldings, windows, doors
  • Refinishing decks, cabinets and other wood items

When You Could Skip It: You could do any (or all) of these projects yourself if you have the time and interest in learning. Of course, this only works if you live relatively close to your rentals and are flexible enough to service them on short notice. And if you’re willing to respond to the occasional 5 AM basement flooding.

Average Savings: Any base rates or costs-per-hour vary from location to location in Philadelphia or Bucks County, PA , but nationally, you can expect to spend an average of $60 to $85 per hour for repair costs. It general costs less to hire an individual handyman than a handyman employed by a company. Expect an additional charge if your job requires a trip to the store for materials.

Resident Property Manager As the owner of a handful of rental properties, you may be able to manage them yourself, but if you want help, a single resident manager would probably be more cost efficient than a property management company. Resident managers may:

  • Serve as a handyman
  • Advertise vacancies in your units
  • Show apartments to prospective tenants
  • Review rental applications
  • Collect rents

When You Could Skip It: Again, the closer you live to your properties and the more spare time you have, the less likely you are to need a manager. The obligations of being a boss will also cut into the time you save on maintenance.

Average Savings: The national median wage for residential managers is just over $25 per hour. Research the wages in your community and adjust according to how much responsibility your manager will take on. 

Real Estate Agent: Once you’ve gotten your financials in order and done your own research on the neighborhood(s) you’re considering, you might contact a realtor to show you potential properties. You can also arrange for a realtor in Philadelphia or Bucks County, PA to show rentals once they’re ready to rent.

When You Could Skip It: It depends. Even if you’re a local, or have thoroughly researched the neighborhood(s) you’re considering, a realtor is a great resource for a first-time rental buyer. Realtors have access to data and statistics not necessarily available to the general public and first-time buyers may not know all the right questions to ask. Using a realtor to fill your Houses for Rent vacancies is less of a no-brainer, depending on your other time commitments or whether you plan to hire a resident manager who could do the same thing.

Average Savings: As a buyer of rental properties, as when buying your own home, sellers typically pay most, if not all, of the buyer’s realtor fees. In this case, Mueller points out there’s little reason not to work with a realtor. For help in filling your units in Philadelphia or Bucks County, PA, the services of a realtor would set you back between 10-20% of the unit’s rent per month.  Mueller recommends interviewing with several brokers before making your final decision to invest into Houses for Rent .

The Bottom Line: As a new landlord, you can’t necessarily control the flexibility of your schedule or the amount (and cost) of unexpected repairs to your properties. Rentals are a long-term investment. However, to maximize profits from your Houses for Rent, new rentals, you can buy close to home and start small. It is best to begin with just one or two properties. This will allow you to maximize the time you spend on your properties’ needs, and minimize the amount you’ll have to pay anyone else.

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