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Property Management Blog

Published on Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Decorating Your Rental Apartment

People who live in apartments know how hard it can be to get your own sense of style and ownership while living in a place that is not truly your own. You know that you will not live in this place forever, you know that there are always limitations to what you can do when it comes to decorating, yet you want to do something to make it your place, even if it is something simple. Depending on their size and layout, it can be surprising how many possibilities you can find in the place you rent. And now that we are in the midst of summer, there are many bright and light ideas that you can put into action to completely change the look of the place you call home.

First of all, before you begin any type of decorating or remodeling, speak with the manager of your apartments to find out what exactly can be done or not done to your place. Different apartments have different criteria for the extensiveness of changes that can be made to them. It is necessary to know all the details before you begin with any plans. You will want to have good references and, of course, get that deposit back!

Something that you can do no matter what your apartments restrictions is to change your furniture. You do not have to go out and buy a brand new 2000 dollar living room set. If you rent and do not have tons of money to spare, but are dying to change the look of your furniture, you can buy a good quality wicker furniture set, the indoor outdoor type, for your living room. It is amazing what this can do for the look of a room. It lightens the atmosphere and style to a bright, summery style.

Of course, everyone knows that lighter colors make spaces appear roomier and brighter. For the summertime, if your rent manager allows it, paint your walls your favorite pastel color, and get some inexpensive decorating accessories to offset it. For example, if you go with a light yellow wall, you might get some fresh green pillows to accessorize your couch and chairs, or a friendly orange rug for the kitchen.

Another thing you do not have to check restrictions for is the windows. Exchange your heavy or dark winter curtains with lighter ones, maybe even sheer ones, which allow as much sunlight into your home as possible. This will brighten and enlarge smaller rooms, and give your entire place a summery feel.

Candles are another great, inexpensive option for making your place friendlier and lightening the mood. With the never ending choices now days of candle scents, you should be able to come up with your favorites, or a combination of two or three of your favorites, to make your rooms smell even more summery. The cool cucumbers and the fresh linens can give you an ongoing feeling of summer even when you are indoors, and they make even the shabbiest of apartments seem that much more welcoming.

Lastly, bring in those plants. If you have outdoor ones, bring them in and set them in windows. If you have indoor ones already, make sure they are healthy. Bringing nature inside during the summer heightens your sense of the season, not to mention it brings the pleasant and appreciated addition of making your inside air cleaner and healthier for you, your family, and your guests

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Author: Web Master

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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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