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Property Management Blog

Published on Tuesday, October 25, 2016

3 Property Management Predictions for 2017

Each year around this time, the industry tries to gauge where we are headed in the next year. Will this be a groundbreaking year in property management, or business as usual? While it’s hard to make concrete predictions, one thing is certain: Technology will have a major impact on the way property managers do their job and engage with renters, real estate agents and maintenance teams — more than ever before.

Here are three predictions about how technology will change your job in 2017.

1. Property management companies will finally take the paperless-payments plunge
When was the last time you wrote a check? Think hard. It probably doesn’t happen very often. Today’s renters are constantly connected to their digital devices, so why make them use what’s quickly becoming an antiquated medium to pay their rent?

With the rise of mobile payments in other areas such as retail, many consumers now expect to be able to pay their rent on the go. Electronic payments are not only easier and more convenient for renters, they are also far more convenient for property managers from an administrative and tracking perspective. In general, the more you can get away from paper and start tracking transactions online in an automated fashion, the less time you’ll spend on administrative tasks like rent collection.

If you’re worried about convenience fees dipping into your profit margin, remember that credit cards aren’t the only way to go paperless. Property management platforms allow renters to pay rent via electronic transfer (the same way people pay utilities bills today) using a routing number to deduct payment directly from a savings or checking account. Or, if you do choose to accept credit card payments, many property managers have tenants pay for the associated convenience fees.

2. Renters insurance will be required, necessitating better technology-enabled enforcement
Many lease agreements advise (and in some cases, require) tenants to carry renters insurance to protect from loss or damage. But, tenants often fail to get coverage and property managers never follow up, leaving both the tenant and property unprotected. To compound the issue further, renters insurance has historically had a high barrier to entry, especially in locations where many city dwellers don’t own cars and cannot simply add coverage to existing policies.

Over the next year, we’ll see property managers begin to offer tenants coverage as an add-on to the total rent cost through their property management software. Tenants can sign up electronically during the lease process, saving time and reducing time-to-lease. By offering this coverage as part of your property management package, you can protect yourself — and your renters — from any unforeseen accidents or damage.

One of the risks to owners and property managers is that at the point of lease, a renter could show proof of coverage, and then cancel the policy. This creates a false sense of security. By offering a competitive product that renters can sign up for at lease signing, property managers can ensure the policy is maintained.

3. Property managers will spend more time in the office
From showings to inspections and move-ins, property managers are constantly being pulled out of the office to manage different aspects of their business. Technology will finally start to take over some of these out-of-office tasks in the year ahead. Expect to see technology adoption in the following areas:

Keyless entry: This feature lets prospective renters more easily tour the units with real estate agents without the property manager needing to be on-site.
Virtual reality-guided tours: An upgrade to the panoramic 3-D room tours that we’ve grown accustomed to, in-depth virtual reality tours will enable prospective renters to experience the apartment, common areas and more without having to step inside the building — and free up your time as a property manager.

Remote inspections: With the help of robotics and remote video cameras, property managers can remotely conduct unit inspections, pinpointing problems without having to step foot outside of the office.
From how you market properties to how you manage them, technology has already had an impact on the property management market. But the adoption of new technologies in 2017 may represent another huge leap into the future for this market.
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Landlord Knowledge Base

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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