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Property Management Blog

Published on Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Homewatch Service for your House - Peace-of-mind while you're away from home

Who would use a home watch service?  A home watch is primarily for non-resident owners or owners who are away for extended periods of time.  It can be their primary residence but most often it is a second home at a vacation destination or in an "occupation" destination.  One of those occupation destinations is Princeton NJ! Hundreds if not thousands of scientists and researchers call Princeton and the surrounding area home for a few months out of the year.  My neighbor across the street from my home is a research analyst for the pharmaceutical corporation that has a primary residence in Manhattan, NY and he has a second home here for when he is doing his work at the Princeton University about 8-10 weeks a year.

Distant homeowners need to have their second home taken care of, just like their primary residence . The average service is a once or twice a week walk-through of the home and around the home.   Anything out of the ordinary is reported to the owner and repairs or corrections are scheduled.  When the owner comes into town, the home is made ready for their arrival.  If they want, the pantry, refrigerator, wet bar, etc., can be stocked and waiting for their arrival.  If they have a vehicle in the garage the service can start it , let it idle or take it for a run down the road.  Basically just about anything that is needed to keep the home in working order and ready for use at anytime.  Think of it as a concierge service for the home.

Over the past couple of years I have noticed that many home inspectors around the country have opened or added a home watch service to their ongoing business.  Many real estate agents have even teamed with home inspectors to offer this service.  It is almost a natural fit.  As home inspectors we have a trained eye for items that are not normal or out of the ordinary.  We are always looking for leaks, drainage problems, lights that are out, air condition and heating problems and the list goes on and on.

Onyx Management Group is premier provider of homewatch services in Philadelphia, Bucks County, Montgomery County, Princeton are of New Jersey. We are always be conscientious in our approach and responsive to our client’s needs and requests. We treat each home with the same care and attention that we do our own. We conduct our business in a fair and ethical manner. read more...



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Author: Web Master

Categories: Property Management




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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