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Property Management Blog

Rate Increases Ahead for Some Property Owners

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 Changes are coming to the critically important National Flood Insurance Program that could impact real estate transactions and property owners across the country.

That’s according to experts from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which manages the government’s flood insurance program, who spoke to Realtors® at a recent Flood Insurance 101 session during the Realtors® Midyear Legislative Meetings & Trade Expo.

Kristin Robinson, senior advisor, summarized last year’s Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act, which reauthorized the critically important NFIP through 2017 so property owners could access affordable flood insurance.

Want A Good ROI On Your Rental Home? Hire A $600 Maid!

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As an expereinced property management company, we’ve seen a lot of rental homes come and go; some rented quickly and some didn’t. Most of the houses weren’t perfect, but almost all of the houses that rented quickly had one thing in common- they were really clean. And you may be surprised on how many really dirty homes are on the rental market!

“Cleanliness is next to godliness” is the popular axiom, and it’s also a heck of a differentiator in the rental home business. The #1 secret of renting a home quickly is making sure it is really clean. That’s it. If you can get someone to look inside the home and it is really clean, the closing ratio is 80%-90%. We aren't joking. If the cleanliness does not meet the tenant’s expectations, it is the top thing property managers hear about.

Tenants Count On Landlords to Cover Losses

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Only 34% of  tenants have renter’s insurance, according to a new survey just released by InsuranceQuotes.com.

InsuranceQuotes.com also found that 60% of tenants incorrectly pegged the annual cost of renter’s insurance at $250 per year or more. Twenty-one percent thought renter’s insurance cost a whopping $1,000 per year or more. The correct answer — according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners — is $185 per year.

Tenant Screening: Spotting the Liars

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 Rental applicants come with all sorts of unique backgrounds and circumstances.  Many aren’t perfect, but they’ll do just the same.  However, some candidates are flat-out liars, and a landlord must spot them quickly to avoid hazards down the road.

Here are some things to watch for:

1.  A candidate that has not, or will not, provide the real name and number of the current or previous landlord.  There can be lag time between when an eviction is initiated, and when it will show up on a person’s tenant screening reports.  It’s during that “grace period” that the soon-to-be-evicted tenant will contact you to secure a new rental.

Avoiding Emergency Maintenance Calls

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Now that Thanksgiving is just around the corner,  it’s time to take a moment and think about how winter may affect your property maintenance calls.

According to HomeAdvisor, the most frequent home emergency repair in 2012 has been for appliance repairs.  These appliance repairs often spike over the holidays and during cold-weather months, when they get heavier usage.


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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