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Property Management Blog

The Importance of Smoke Alarms and the Changing Face of the American Home

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Americans are more in tune with their snack cakes than fire safety. A survey conducted by ORC International on behalf of Kidde Fire Safety reports that almost five times as many Americans know the shelf life of a Twinkie over the recommended operating life of a smoke alarm. Thus, your residents might be making more of an effort to rummage through the cupboard than checking perhaps the most important safety feature in the home.

Properly working smoke alarms cut the chances of dying in a fire by half, according to the National Fire Protection Association. They are largely responsible for the significant decline in fire-related deaths in the last 30 years.

For landlords, smoke alarms are inexpensive potential safety nets that protect lives and property if properly maintained.

Effective Ways that Property Managers Use to Avoid Bad Tenants

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Landlords across the country will tell you that they are the best when it comes to singling out a bad tenant no matter how good they try to conceal themselves. However, nearly every property owner is dealing or has dealt with fraudulent and unmanageable tenants who have caused them problems over the years. This is one of the biggest problems that a landlord can face when it comes to property management, since it affects their income and increases their expenses at the same time.

What is Commercial Property Management?

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Commercial property management is designed to meet the demand of landlords who own commercial properties. The process of managing the property then solely falls on the property manager, who has supervision of the property and has to look after the upkeep, leasing, collection of rentals, screening tenants and any repairs that the property may require. Properties that qualify as commercial properties are any type of property that is offering some form of business venture to the public. For instance, space for retail stores, and multi-storied apartment buildings. Landlords across the country have sought help from commercial property management companies in order to handle their commercial property and ensure that their business is being run by professionals in the right manner. Looking after the upkeep, collection of rent and screening of tenants for commercial properties is a complex and complicated procedure and is different from residential properties. This is because there may be different companies, firms, businesses and even banks who are renting the properties. Therefore managing the property effectively takes on a whole new level and will eventually need the assistance of professionals who can manage such properties efficiently.

The Role of Commercial Management Companies:

• Commercial management companies look after the dealings of the tenants who have rented the commercial properties and possess all the authority when it comes to making decisions that impact on the overall income of the landlord. This is why it is important to hire the right commercial management company in order to benefit from them. The property manager will be in charge of handling the screening process of potential clients, through background and credit checks. The manager will also look to approve any leasing for the commercial property and providing the tenant with satisfactory services at the end of the day.

What to Consider When Hiring A Property Management Company?

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Property managers in the industry today are leaning towards hiring a property management company who looks after the property and deals with the daily operations of the business. Like every other industry, there are some good companies and some bad ones. Therefore, a property manager must choose a management company that is going to make their work easier rather than harder. The amount of properties an owner has does not have any bearing whatsoever on the process of hiring an effective property management company.

Avoid End-of-Lease Disagreements

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As a landlord or property manager, the move-in process can be a little tricky at times. Sometimes unique circumstances create a move-in that strays from the usual, but that may cause certain difficulties at the end of the lease. No matter how friendly your new tenants seem, it’s always safer to follow regulations at the beginning of each and every lease. This way, you can avoid any surprise issues at move-out. The best way to protect yourself as well as your tenants is to use a move-in checklist.


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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