Tag Archives: student rentals

What Does a Property Manager Do? Here’s the Job Description

If you’ve recently started out in the real estate business and have glanced at the property manager job description, you might think you’re saving money by skipping this expense. You can handle all these tasks—right?

Think again. Half of the appeal of investing in rental property is the passive income it yields. Maximum financial reward for minimum effort. Everyone has the time to be a landlord for one property, even two. But once you have a handful under your belt, the workload can become a bit overwhelming.

Owning real estate shouldn’t be a job; it should allow you to live life on your terms, give you the freedom to enjoy life when and wherever you wish. But you can’t do that if you’re spending all your time managing your properties. Whether you have just four or five properties or an entire empire, it’s best left to the experts.

You’ve heard the phrase “Jack of all trades, master of none”? Don’t be Jack.

Purchasing your first rental property is just the beginning of your real estate journey, because being a good landlord is almost as important as making good deals. BiggerPockets’ free guide How to Become a Landlord: Managing Rental Properties for Real Estate Investors will teach you everything—from setting rent to handling evictions.

Property Manager Job Description: The 10 Key Tasks

Here’s how a property manager can help you grow your real estate business:

1. Setting the right rates

Pricing your property competitively is vital for every landlord. Too high and you won’t fill the space. Too low? Good luck making money. A property manager knows the micro market, local area, and current rental rates, enabling them to correctly value your buildings’ worth and price the units accordingly.

2. Marketing and advertising

You lose money every day your property is empty. Exposure helps you find tenants, and a property manager can help you create a coherent marketing strategy that will develop your brand, establish your reputation, and boost interest from prospective tenants.

3. Complying with housing regulations

State and federal laws around housing and evictions can be rather confusing. A professional property manager can walk you through everything, from paying taxes, discrimination laws, and needed certificates. But be warned that you are still liable if your property manager gets into legal trouble, so make sure they know what they’re talking about.

4. Finding good tenants

Property management companies find higher-quality tenants for filling vacancies because of their rigorous screening processes. These people often sign longer term leases, inflict less wear and tear, and cause fewer problems. If you work alone, you might find yourself drowning in applications—but a professional property manager can assess applicants quickly and easily using a comprehensive screening process, including background and credit checks.

5. Collecting and depositing rent payments

Strict rent collection is crucial to financial success. A property manager acts as a buffer between you and your tenants so you don’t have to chase up late payments or listen to complaints.

RELATED:How Much Does Property Management Cost? Here’s What Fees to Expect

6. Providing customer service

If you’re not a people person, it may be best to have someone else deal directly with tenant complaints. Not everyone has A+ communication skills—and that’s okay. A positive, smiley, helpful property manager will build up a rapport with your tenants and placate any problems with practiced ease. A company also ensures there is someone tenants can contact, even when you’re on that two-month Caribbean cruise.

7. Handling maintenance and repair

Let’s be honest—no one wants to be woken at three in the morning because a pipe burst in a rental unit across town. When things inevitably go wrong, your property manager brings a set of management skills that help quickly and efficiently handle any problem. Remember, your tenants want problems solved immediately. Delays can lead to complaints. Thanks to their wealth of experience in real estate, property managers can also suggest preventative maintenance before a problem has even occurred.

8. Managing vendor relationships

When you do require maintenance or repairs, it can be a hassle to get the right tradesmen for the job. A good property manager will know reputable, reliable, licensed workers—and have good relationships with them. They should also have established policies to prevent any problems when the workers enter the property, which protects you from litigation.

9. Assisting long-distance investing

As your property empire grows, you may wish to begin looking for investments outside your immediate area. If you sign a contract with a state or nationwide property management company, you can rest easy. Your properties are all being looked after to the same high standard as you enjoy in your own town.

10. Maximizing profitability

If you intend to live off the revenue from your real estate business, you need to dedicate your time to searching for new investments. Once you’ve got a few rented properties under your belt, you’re probably ready to expand. But how can you do that if your time is spent dealing with tenants, addressing problems, and collecting rent? With daily operations handed over to your property manager, you’ll have more time to scour the market for that next investment.

Financial Benefits of Hiring a Property Manager

Don’t forget that hiring a property manager is financially sound. You may feel somewhat reluctant to fork out for this service, but it will pay dividends in the long run. These experts can maximize your business profits by creating distance between the property owner and tenants.

Most charge between four and 12 percent of your monthly rental rate—but remember that higher percentages often lead to a higher quality of service. Less is not more in this case, and a good property management company can be worth its weight in gold. Don’t skimp on this aspect of your business; it’s not worth it.

Of course, it’s important to do some thorough research before you hire your property management company. Ask your property manager these 20 questions before signing on the line.

RELATEDHow to Spot a Great—Not Just Good—Property Manager

Do Landlords Need a Property Manager?

Clearly, a property manager wears a lot of hats. But maybe you think you can spare the expense and do the work yourself. The property management job description encompasses more than just basic tasks. Before you dive into managing your own properties, think about if you can:

  • Negotiate a decent rate on maintenance issues with a surly contractor
  • Convince a mostly broke renter that paying rent is more important than buying steak
  • Keep track of at least three and as many as a dozen separate streams of incoming and outgoing money. Don’t forget rent and security deposits, some commingled and some not, across anywhere from four to a dozen different accounts… while being able to provide proof at any given moment of what went where, when, and why
  • Advertise property inexpensively and effectively without sacrificing your ability to get a tenant who will pay a reasonable rent and not destroy the place before move-out
  • Avoid signing a mostly reasonable-looking new tenant (who ends up destroying the place)
  • Handle all of the property maintenance—including those 3 a.m. floods
  • Communicate with, placate, and motivate tenants who have conflicting goals and priorities.

Property Management Advanced Skills

That job description is just your run-of-the-mill, no-frills property management. If you want a top-of-the-line real estate empire, you need all those skills at their peak level—plus the ability to:

  • Navigate a court case, remaining professional and calm while tenants make absurd claims about how you ate their dog and that’s why they’re late on rent for the third month running
  • Comprehend the effects that the large-scale and local-scale market movements are having on each client’s properties. In addition, predict how that will affect your ability to charge, your future costs, and the client’s risk levels
  • Work with finicky city inspectors to bring buildings that were—just last week!—70 percent hellhole into the realms of livability
  • Comprehend the systems used by your writers, inspectors, agents, photographers, builders, vendors, and so on well enough to troubleshoot and help guide them toward effective solutions.

This might seem easy to you, or maybe even fun. If that’s the case, feel free to dive into the property management world solo. But if you find the above job duties frightening, hire an expert to deal with the nitty-gritty.

However, you must remember: It’s your business. You’re the CEO, the big cheese, the top dog. Therefore, don’t get bogged down in the day-to-day running of things. Leave that to someone else, someone qualified and experienced and capable of making you lots of money. As a real estate investor, it’s your job to sit back and watch the money roll in.

Source;Engelo Rumora – BiggerPockets

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How Much to Charge for Rent in 2020: A Landlord’s Guide

rent-sign-front-yard

So now that you have an investment property or two under your belt, you are probably considering the possibility of renting them out. However, determining the right property rent rates can be difficult at times. Not sure how much to charge for rent? You’re not alone.

After all, if you charge too much, you’ll likely have higher vacancy rates—but if you undercharge, you’ll lose out on profit.

Here’s how to check if your rental unit is priced correctly.

Purchasing your first rental property is just the beginning of your real estate journey, because being a good landlord is almost as important as making good deals. BiggerPockets’ free guide How to Become a Landlord: Managing Rental Properties for Real Estate Investors will teach you everything—from setting rent to handling evictions.

First: What Is Market Rent?

The term “market rent” refers to the current average rent price for nearby rental property. Remember, rent is determined by the real estate market value. So when determining how much to charge for rent, what other landlords are charging is valuable information.

However, keep in mind additional variables that can affect your rent, such as:

  • The number of bedrooms and bathrooms
  • Any special amenities
  • Square footage
  • Single-family homes vs. apartments or condos
  • Garage or storage space available to tenants
  • Pet policies

Prospective tenants may place more value on certain amenities, like pet-friendliness. That might mean higher rents. Just pay careful attention to your return on investment—and your boundaries.

Read More: The Ultimate Guide to Fair Market Rents

Calculating Market Rent Prices

In addition to browsing local rental listings, we recommend signing up for Rentometer, which costs about $100 per year. This website allows you to compare monthly rents for similar properties by city or zip code. It gives you the 75th and 90th percentile, so you can estimate the highest applicable rent and the lowest rent. Most likely, your property is going to fall somewhere in the 90th percentile.

This is a great place to start, so use it as a baseline. Don’t blindly rely on the data provided on Rentometer though, because you don’t know what those properties look like. Pairing this with your own research is the best strategy. For example, go on Apartments.com or Zillow and find nearby properties that resemble yours. Pay attention to the year built, the number of units, amenities, convenience, interior and exterior finishes, and inclusion or exclusion of a washer and dryer. It’s unlikely that you’ll find an exact match, but this is still enough to get a good estimate on the rent.

You can also go low-tech—simply drive around your neighborhood. If you pass any properties up for rent, call their owners and ask how much they are charging. This will give you a rough indication of how much you should be charging.

These methods will help you understand the viability of different rental rates.

Know How Occupancy Rates Affect Rental Price

What’s the average occupancy rate in the area? Is it 95 percent or 85 percent? How’s your property’s occupancy rate compared to the region’s? You don’t want it to be higher or lower by too much.

If your occupancy rate is much higher than the regional average, then your rent is probably not aggressive enough. If it’s a lot lower, then your rent might be too high—or you might have a much bigger issue than just pricing.

Check In With Your Property Manager

Property managers are great resources, but don’t rely on them completely. Ask them about the current market rents and for a market report to determine how much to charge for rent.

For the report, your property management company can give you a list of comparable properties with the current rents, which you can then verify yourself—either by researching online or visiting the properties in person. They can also advise you on what amenities might increase your rent. For example, if your property lacks a dishwasher, adding one might be an easy way to raise rents by $50 per month. Of course, you should carefully calculate your potential return on investment before making any major changes.

If you don’t have a property manager, real estate agents can also help you assess the local rental market.

Don’t Skip the Site Visit

Once you’ve found a couple similar nearby properties, call or visit the property as a potential renter. Ask questions regarding the current rent, unit size, amenities, utility bill, and any special features. Preferably, you should visit the site to get a good feeling of the property overall.

Go through these steps at least once or twice a year for each of your properties. Studying the current local market increases your rental income, helps you properly manage your current properties, and ensures you make better acquisitions in the future.

All that information is helpful, but serious investors need to dig deeper to know exactly how much to charge for rent. Follow these rules to arrive at the perfect price.

1. Minimum rent requirement

The rent has to be high enough for you to be able to afford expenses and provide cash flow.

Let’s assume your expense ratio is 50 percent, covering both the economic losses and the operating expense. Thus, in the case of a $500 rental, a 50 percent expense ratio would leave us with $250 to cover three very important things:

  1. Debt service—such as your mortgage
  2. Capital expenditure (CapEx) reserve
  3. Cash flow

You’ll likely find that $250 is simply not enough to cover all three of the above. And since debt service is mandatory, the choice we face is between our profit and CapEx reserve. What we often see is landlords pocketing the money left over after debt service, then getting excited about their great cash flow. But eventually, something will happen—maybe their house gets trashed and they need to replace the flooring, water heater, and stove.

What they suddenly experience is that tragic feeling in the pit of their stomachs which accompanies cash flow in reverse. All of the money they thought they’d made suddenly transfers from their account to their contractor‘s.

Related: How to Really Calculate Cash Flow on Your Next Rental Property

This is what happens when one has to make a choice between CapEx reserves and cash flow. That’s why you need a minimum rent. There’s no hard-and-fast rule, but for apartment settings, this is often around $650—and likely more like $750. For single-family rentals, this minimum rent requirement is much higher.

2. Maximum rent requirement

We are always looking to fulfill two objectives: to both protect and grow our investment. Just like there is a minimum requirement for rent, there is also a maximum. We have to be able to appeal to the widest cross-section of the potential audience. If you buy rentals that are too high within the scope of your market, this becomes difficult.

Shoot for rentals between the 55th and 70th percentile of market rents. This appeals to stable, reliable tenants but isn’t so exclusive that only a tiny sliver of the marketplace can qualify.

3. Focus on price per square foot

In order to truly compare apples to apples, you have to price your rentals on a per-square-foot basis. Let’s say you purchase an apartment building currently renting one-bedrooms for $525, and online research indicates the market could withstand a $150 rent increase.

But how big are those comps? If they’re 850 square feet, and your rentals are 600 square feet, that market research is no longer relevant—even if they’re both one-bedrooms. Can you convince people, for example, to pay even $625 if units that are 250 square feet larger are available for $700? Unlikely.

With the above information, you should now be well equipped to set an appropriate rent price for your investment properties.

Source; By Jay ChangJay, a civil engineering graduate from UCLA, is an active investor, developer, and writer.

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Naborly protects landlords’ investments

As every landlord surely knows, running a credit check during the tenant selection process is paramount. However, not every landlord realizes what to do with the information the credit check reveals.

“Every independent landlord knows that to screen a tenant, you have to look at their credit, but a lot of them have no idea how credit relates to a tenant’s ability to pay rent on time,” said Jerome Werniuk, director of sales at Naborly Inc., which runs free credit and background checks. “Ninety-five percent of landlords have tenants show up with their own credit file, meaning they go to Credit Karma or Equifax, but when we hear professional tenant stories, these people come with doctored credit checks.

Doctoring a credit check is as easy as finding a template online and filling it in as one wishes. It’s what Werniuk describes as a huge problem within the industry.
While savvy landlords realize they can obtain credit checks from Equifax or TransUnion, many still don’t know, nor have time, to mine the information therein to decipher a tenant’s capacity for prompt rent payments.

“To get a credit file from either of the credit bureaus, they have to pay for it and a set-up fee for the individual’s report, but there’s a heavy credentialing process to pull somebody’s file,” said Werniuk. “Even when the landlord gets a credit file, they don’t know how to read it. They don’t know exactly what an R9 is or how someone paying a cell phone bill on time impacts their ability to pay rent. So credit is not necessarily a good tool for independent landlords.”

Naborly builds a different type of credit report using critical criteria like contemporary cost of living and verifiable income to determine a potential tenant’s ability to pay rent. It has proven so popular that, when it launched in February 2018, Naborly screened 100 people a week. Now, it screens at least that many people in a day.

“The biggest feedback we’ve received from landlords is our tool is amazing at assessing risk so that they can properly evaluate whether or not to accept the rental application,” said Werniuk. However, there remain risks that are extremely difficult to predict. Landlords have said that many of their previous evictions  were due to circumstances that changed after the tenant moved in, like job loss or some other unforeseen, and expensive, event in their lives. Nobody can predict those things.”

The average cost of eviction in Ontario is $9,000, and that could cripple an investment. In response, Naborly has rolled out Rent Guarantee, which doesn’t just risk assess but also protects the landlord for the full term of the lease. In effect, Naborly cats as the tenant’s co-signor, which shields the landlord’s investment.

“It’s based on the Naborly report and the risk score we give, which directly correlates to a tenant defaulting on rent,” said Werniuk. “We give a quote for how much rent guarantee will cost. They can have Naborly become a guarantor on the lease, meaning if the tenant ever defaults then Naborly steps in and covers the rent for up to six months. Our primary customer for Rent Guarantee is the landlord who only owns one or two units because if they don’t collect rent for two or three months, they’ll have issues paying their mortgages and they could lose the property.”

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5 Things I Learned in My First Year Owning a Rental Property

I was determined to own property, in some form. Sadly, I couldn’t afford anything in my home city of Toronto, so I decided to buy a property in a neighbouring city and rent it out until, or if, I was ready to move.

After looking at several possibilities, I decided to buy in Hamilton because of transit options, affordable housing prices and a low vacancy rate.

I found a cute bungalow divided in two units. After all the paperwork went through, I found great tenants.

It’s now one year later, and I’ve learned a lot. Here are five lessons I learned:

  1. Plan for Extra Costs

I needed way more money than I thought in order to buy and manage a rental property. The closing costs alone were thousands of dollars in cash. In Ontario, closing costs include land transfer tax, legal fees, a home inspection, pre-paid property tax and PST on Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation insurance — if you put less than 20 per cent down. My closing costs totalled $6,000.

In the first year, I spent $2,700 on maintenance, and that’s for a small, fully-renovated house. Just recently, a windstorm knocked shingles off my roof. Totally unexpected and $500 to fix.

Budget for all anticipated expenses, and then add a few thousand dollars to be safe.

  1. Figure Out the Rent

How do you know if you have enough money to be a landlord? Easy: use a spreadsheet. You need to know exactly how much your house costs to run so that you can charge sufficient rent.

And how embarrassing would it be if you forgot whether a tenant paid you first and last months’ rent? Think of an investment property like a business, and keep your books accordingly.

  1. Don’t Forget Tax Time

I was shocked when I had to pay $1,500 this April to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). The CRA taxes rental income at your marginal tax rate. I now have an automated monthly savings set up to set aside tax money and avoid last-minute scrambling.

  1. Check Your Tenant’s Credit Worthiness

What you need as a landlord is a tenant who pays their rent promptly each month. A credit score can tell you if a person has a history of paying their lenders on time. Ask for a credit report and employment letter to confirm that your tenant can pay their rent each month.

  1. To Include Utilities or Not?

I decided to include utilities. I have two units but one meter, and I couldn’t figure out a way for each tenant to split it fairly without hassle. So I called the utility companies, asked them for the monthly average of the previous year, added 30 per cent, and included it in the rent.

You can also let the tenants pay utilities themselves. Because electric and gas are so expensive in Ontario, you don’t want to be on the hook unless you have to be. It’s a lot easier for tenants to leave the lights on when someone else is footing the bill.

A Learning Experience

I learned that owning an investment property is much like having a child. Make sure you can comfortably afford it before you start trying, and if it’s exhausting you, consider hiring a nanny—that is, a property management company.

 

Source: Tangerine.ca – Written by Danielle Kubes Wednesday, July 11th, 2018

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Surprising facts every renter should remember

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Did you know that three of the leading causes of financial losses for renters are fire, crime, and liability suits? Lucky for you, tenant insurance can help you keep your bank account in tact — and get things back to normal as quickly as possible.

Let’s take a moment to consider the facts:

Fire

With tenant insurance, you can rest easy knowing that a fire in your apartment won’t leave you out in the cold. Not only could your policy cover the belongings you lost in the fire, but it could cover other unexpected expenses like a roof over your head and food in your belly while you wait to get back into your home.

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Fast Facts for Renters: Fire

Fire doesn’t care whether you rent or own your space. Thankfully, tenant insurance covers all the things that make your rental a home.

  • Nearly one quarter of all residential fires in Canada happen in apartments
  • The average cost of damages in an apartment fire is over $65,000
  • The most recent study of fire losses in Canada found that in 2007 alone, fires in apartments led to more than $185 million in damages
  • That same year, Ontario had more apartment fires than any other province: a total of 1,650 fires that led to more than $55 million in damages
  • In British Columbia, the average cost of damage caused by one apartment fire is over $140,000 — that’s more expensive than in any other province

Source: “Fire Losses in Canada (Year 2007 and Selected Years).” Council of Canadian Fire Marshals and Fire Commissioners.

Crime

Coming home to find that a stranger has been there — and worse, that they’ve stolen your TV and smashed your glass coffee table — is something no one should ever have to experience. But if something like this happens to you, know that renter’s insurance has your back — your insurer could pick up the tab for your stolen or damaged belongings.

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Fast Facts for Renters: Crime

Burglars don’t discriminate — and rental properties aren’t exempt from break-ins. Do your best to deter those pesky thieves, but know that tenant insurance has your back when you need it most.

  • In Canada, renters experience the greatest number of break-ins per household, with a whopping 125,000 cases reported in 2014
  • That same year, there were 248,000 reported cases of theft of personal property from rental homes
  • Cases of vandalism are decreasing year after year, but there were still 143,00.0 cases of vandalism to rental properties reported in 2014

Source: “Household victimization incidents reported by Canadians, by type of offence and selected household, dwelling and neighbourhood characteristics, 2014.” Statistics Canada.

Liability

Of all the types of coverage in your tenant insurance policy, liability coverage could be the most important when it comes to protecting your finances. This is the coverage you need when, for example, a court decides you’re legally required to pay for your friend’s Ray Bans and medical bills after you break his nose and glasses at one of your weekly baseball games. Plus, it can cover any legal fees you encounter in the process. Accidents happen, and battles over money are never pretty. Talk to your broker to make sure you’re covered.

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Fast Facts for Renters: Liability

In the event of a liability lawsuit, tenant insurance can protect your savings — and your credit rating.

  • A lawsuit can virtually bankrupt you if you’re held responsible for covering expenses that result from an injury or damage you caused to someone’s belongings — say goodbye to your savings and your credit rating
  • If you’re taken to court for a liability issue and need to pay a lawyer, you could be in the hole for thousands of dollars in legal fees
  • When your toilet backs up and the questionable puddles in your bathroom start to trickle into the apartment downstairs, you’ll have to pay for the damage
  • Don’t forget your landlord: if she claims that you ruined part of your rental unit, get ready to forfeit your damage deposit plus additional repair costs

You have options

Get protected before the unexpected happens. If you’re ready to get set up with your very own tenant insurance policy, connect with a licensed broker to learn about your options.

Source: Economical.com – Stephanie Fereiro  |  Published on: December 12, 2016  

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Thinking of becoming a landlord? Here’s what you need to know

Being a landlord isn’t without its challenges, but covering one’s bases in the following ways is bound to yield quality tenants and rents.

Every real estate professional understands the importance of location, and so should every landlord. Steve Arruda, a sales agent with Century 21 Regal Realty, has been a landlord for 18 years and advises taking one’s time performing due diligence on prospective neighbourhoods.

“You want to know where you’re investing in and what the demographics are in that neighbourhood, and whether there are universities and families there,” Arruda told CREW. “I’ve rented in depressed neighbourhoods, and it’s challenging. The price may seem really tempting, but then you attract a lot of renters who may not have the best incomes, and they could become problematic because there are issues each month with payment. Location is one of the most important things. Make sure you know where you’re investing and what the demographics in that neighbourhood are.”

If investing in a house rather than a condominium, ensure big ticket items like furnaces, wiring, roofs and windows are updated “because those are the things that are quite costly to repair,” added Arruda. “It’s good to have those larger items updated, otherwise if they fail, it’s always at an inopportune time like winter, and you’ll be left with an angry tenant.”

Beyond material concerns, Arruda says landlords invariably become arbiters in disputes between tenants, unfairly or not, and that managing personalities is a delicate art.

“When you have a house with four units, like a multiplex, it’s hard to get everybody to get along, and you’re their first line of defence,” he said. “So, managing personalities, managing expectations and being able to handle that
stress level are crucial, because for an inexperienced landlord, the first call they get because of an issue with a tenant or an issue with a clogged toilet can make their already stressful life even more stressful. Always be prepared for anything, whether issues with tenants or the property itself.”

Additionally, tenants need to be thoroughly screened, and Arruda recommends landlords run their own credit reports and confirm bank statements are real. Even calling an employer to confirm the information provided by potential tenants isn’t beyond the realm of the reasonable. As well, call their previous landlords to find out what kind of people they are.

Over 18 years, Arruda also learned that units with dishwashers, washers and dryers are not only highly sought after, they attract good-quality renters.

Renu Ashdir, a sales agent with iPro Realty Ltd., says clients for whom she seeks rental accommodations flock to buildings with amenities like gyms, but warns too many amenities—especially swimming pools—result in higher condo fees.

“If you’re a person in your 20s and 30s, fitness amenities are the most used,” she said, adding older tenants prefer the security of a concierge. “People care about the kind of neighbours they have in a building and whether or not there’s transit nearby.”

Most importantly, says Arruda, “Look after your renters and know rental laws.”

Source: Canadian Real Estate Wealth – by Neil Sharma12 Jan 2018
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Calling in the pros – Implementing a successful property management

Implementing a successful property management system is vital to the longevity, health and overall profitability of your growing portfolio of investment properties. Property management systems come in all different shapes and sizes, and can be completely tailored to your specific portfolio needs and wants. Rather than examining these different systems, which could take up an entire magazine, I want to explore three ways to increase your ROI by taking advantage of professional property management.

1. Set realistic expectations from day one
In my view, hiring a professional property manager is very similar to hiring an employee. You wouldn’t give a new hire a vague description of their tasks and responsibilities and then let them manage their job any way they want. You would give your employee a clear definition of their role and show them the kind of results you expect.

The same is true when engaging a property manager for the first time. The following are five simple questions to ask your PM – and yourself – as you’re working out the relationship. If everyone can answer every question definitively, you know you’re on the right track:

  • What is needed?
  • Who is doing what?
  • When will it be done?
  • How will it be done?
  • How much will it cost?

This may seem like a lot of work when you’re just getting started, but completing the above exercise will eliminate the roadblocks, misunderstandings and accidents associated with starting a new professional relationship, and will ultimately improve your ROI.

A professional PM will usually have all these roles pre-defined in their contract, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be challenged or negotiated to better suit your needs. Communicate above and beyond to maximize your results.

2. Hire a superintendent
This can be a hot topic depending on who you talk to – some investors dismiss the idea of hiring a super outright, and some absolutely can’t operate without theirs. I believe that if handled correctly, using a superintendent can be an effective management strategy for a medium to large building, especially if done in tandem with professional property management.

The greatest advantage of superintendents is that they live on site. This is extremely convenient when small issues arise that need immediate attention, like a spill in the hallway that needs cleaning or a tenant who needs to give you cash. For small, more regular tasks like mopping hallways and shovelling walkways, a super is usually the most cost-effective and efficient method. In my experience, waiting for your PM to deal with small items can take too long and not be as cost-effective.
I prefer my super to have a smaller role, meaning my PM handles all maintenance calls from tenants, major renovations, rent collection, tenant placement and regular reporting to me. It’s important to ensure the super is not impeding the job of your PM and vice versa. Each have their roles and should be complementary to each other. The PM is in charge, and the super is there to assist when needed, along with tending to a short list of responsibilities.

This PM-plus-super system frees up more time for me to focus on strategy, grow my portfolio and create value in my current assets. My accountant also appreciates the efficient system, as we save a fair amount of money on minor property maintenance with a super in place.

3. View property management as a service, not an expense
This is more of a way of thinking than an operational guideline. This particular piece of advice stems from years of wrestling with the same question over and over with my group of investors: “Paul, I like the property, and the numbers make sense to me, but when you factor in the cost of property management, the cash flow decreases, and the numbers are just average or below par. What do you think?”

There is no way to avoid the cost of property management. Either you are going to engage a professional to do it for you and pay for it out of the property’s cash flow, or you will handle the property management all on your own. You may think this will save you money or make your property more profitable. If you have spare time and energy and want to learn the business, I would encourage you to take on the PM responsibilities. However, if you’re busy with your career, family and lifestyle, like many of us are, by taking on the day-to-day management of your properties, you’re doing yourself a massive disservice.

Whether you pay a professional PM or not, it’s still going to cost you the same or more. By taking on the PM role, you’re going spend your own time, energy and gasoline and take away quality time for other activities you could be pursuing, like spending time with your family, getting some exercise (mowing the lawn doesn’t count), reading a book or sleeping. This may not sound like traditional ROI, but since most investors get into real estate to improve their lives, not just their bank balances, finding a good property manager will provide these other, highly attractive returns.

You cannot avoid the cost of property management. You either pay in dollars or you pay in your own time and energy. Either way, it must be done properly.

Source: Canadian Real Estate Wealth Magazine –  Contributor 14 Nov 2017

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Five ways to maximize your investment property

Wasim Elafech of Century 21 Bravo Realty in Calgary is among the banner brokerage’s top sales agents in the world. Century 21 operates in 78 countries with over 100,000 agents, and Elafech managed to become their number one unit producer in 2015 and number three in Canada last year, so he knows a thing or two about getting the best bang for your buck out of a rental property. He shared some of those tips with us.

1. Maintain the property
Elafech says some he’s sold properties to clients who in turn rented them out, but without putting in the necessary work. “The work you do doesn’t have to be expensive, but it has to be brand new,” he said. “It will be liveable but it won’t look good. The floors will be cracked or peeling, and when people walk in they get the impression it’s a rundown property, but they won’t if you do the work. Make sure all the fixtures work, that they’re not broken; make sure door handles are loose or need to be replaced. If the place is well-maintained, 100% of the time you’ll get more money for your rental.”

Elafech added that properties are often reflections of the people who live in them.

“A really good tenant won’t look for a rundown place, first of all, so they wouldn’t take that place. You’ll attract the type of people your property looks like. People who accept living (in shabby properties) aren’t the best tenants.”

2. Bungalows yield higher rents
Bungalows are excellent rental properties because the top and bottom floor can be rented out as separate units. “One guy I know pretty much made his whole house different rooms with a common living room, couch and TV.”

Typically, however, the upper and lower floors of a bungalow can be rented as separate units. “Bungalows are the easiest houses to sell in certain areas here because you can rent the upper and lower levels, if it’s properly treated. In an area where you’re renting a whole house to a person, you’d get, say, $1,600 a month, but if you’re renting the floors separately, you can get maybe $2,200 a month. It’s about volume.”

3. Screen your tenants
Screening tenants adequately ensures your rental investment doesn’t become a nightmare.  “I see it a lot,” said Elafech. “They don’t want to lose a month on the mortgage payment, so if it’s been sitting for a couple of weeks they’ll rush into a deal and rent it to whoever comes next, and sure enough the people either do a midnight run or don’t pay. I’m going through that now with my client.”

Elafech recommends waiting it out, even if that means the property sits empty for a month or two. Ask tenants for references and their job history. “If the tenant is reluctant, there’s usually a reason. Keep a look out for red flags.”

He also suggested hiring a rental management company if an apartment building, rather than two or three properties, needs to be maintained. While pricey, they’re well worth it – and they screen tenants.

Sometimes, though, less is more.

“I have a client that’s renting out a house with a garage for $1,000 month that usually goes for $1,800, because he has a good tenant. He cuts the grass and maintains the property. He does everything for the landlord, so that peace of mind is worth more than the money he’d get from renting the parking pad and garage in the back.

4. Rent the garage and parking spot separately
Elafech mentioned a rental property he’s currently showing. “The owner is going to park his trailer on the parking pad, rent out the garage and both floors of the bungalow separately – rental income from upstairs, downstairs and the garage.”

5. Location, location, location
Location is everything in real estate, so Elafech recommends investing in a property that’s surrounded by prime amenities like transit and schools.

“In Calgary, we have LRTs and buses. Even having shopping centres and schools nearby is important. A client had a condo with an LRT across the street, and he got more for it than a similar place he owns that had a similar layout but was a bit bigger, because it was six or eight blocks away and farther from the LRT. In Calgary, when it’s minus-40 outside, you’re not walking, or waiting for a bus when it’s cold. People pay for convenience.”

Source: Canadian Real Estate Wealth – Neil Sharma

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Ontario’s potential rental housing crisis in 11 statistics

Ontario Rental Housing Crisis-compressed

Earlier this week, the Federation of Rental-housing Providers of Ontario (FRPO) published a major report prepared by Toronto-based real estate market data firm Urbanation on the state of the Ontario rental market with a focus on the province’s largest region, the GTA.

A number of the report’s key findings will come as no surprise to those who have recently searched for rental housing in the city and surrounding region. Demand for rentals has hit multi-decade highs, according to the report, “driven by robust economic and population growth, job creation for prime renter cohorts, and a decline in homeownership affordability.”

While the report makes some encouraging observations on expected increases to the rental supply, the housing advocate concludes that a significant supply shortfall will remain and likely worsen unless the pace of construction ramps up quickly to meet demand.

Without policy action, the FRPO expects Ontario renters, especially those in the GTA, will experience mounting challenges in finding suitable housing.

Here are 11 stats from the report that illustrate the difficult market conditions that the province’s renters face:

1. The vacancy rate for purpose-built rental buildings sat at a 15-year low at the end of 2016. It was 2.1 per cent in the province and 1.3 per cent in Toronto.

2. The vacancy rate for Toronto condos — many of which are purchased by investors and added to the city’s rental pool — was even lower at the end of last year, sitting at a seven-year low of 1 per cent.

3. Eighty-five per cent of purpose-built rentals in Ontario are over 35 years old. Upgrading this aging existing stock will require a significant investment from rental owners, possibly to the tune of $5 billion over the next 5 years, the report estimates.

4. When looking at the age distribution of renters, the 25 to 34 year old demographic made up 21 per cent of total renter households in Ontario, making this cohort the “prime renter age segment.” The 35-44, 45-54 and 65+ age segments each made up 19 per cent of the total. Over the next five years, however, the prime 25 to 34 year old segment will see “accelerated population increases” thus further increasing demand for rentals.

5. Immigration to the Greater Toronto Area represented 30 per cent of Canada’s immigration total. Ninety thousand immigrants came to the region in 2016 and a similar number are expected to arrive in 2017. As the report notes, the majority of recent immigrants rent when they arrive.

6. After hitting a five-decade high in 2011, the homeownership rate in Ontario is expected to “flatten or decline in the next 10 years.” Affordability issues, higher interest rates and stricter mortgage policies are all expected to contribute to this trend.

7. By mid-2017, the cost disparity between owning and renting in the GTA remained at its highest level in more than five years.

8. On the rental supply side, purpose-built rental development reached its highest level since the 80s in both Ontario and the GTA. However, after the new rent control measures were unveiled as part of the province’s Fair Housing Plan, the rate at which new purpose-built rental buildings were proposed slowed when compared to previous quarters, with some projects originally proposed as rental even indicating a change to condominium.

9. On the rental demand side, the report forecasts that rental demand will outweigh supply by approximately 57,500 units over a 10-year period, or 5,750 units per year. This unit total “does not necessarily represent the level of additional rental development required to bring the market into a state of balance, but rather represents a level that keeps conditions from worsening over time.”

10. There is only one rental unit under construction per 1,000 GTA residents. In Vancouver, the ratio is over three rental units while in Montreal, it’s two units.

11. According to the report, rental starts need to double immediately and eventually triple from current levels just to satisfy demand.

Ontario Rental Housing Crisis-compressed

Source: Buzz Buzz News Canada –  

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8 Things You Should Always Do Before Signing A Lease

things to do while apartment hunting

Make sure you know the full picture before you move in with all your stuff.

Finding the perfect rental can be a challenging process— scouring listings, cramming multiple viewings into a single day, and feeling like your ideal place is a needle in a haystack. So it’s understandable to quickly pull the trigger when you find that dream home in the perfect neighborhood with a reasonable monthly rent.

But before you sign on the dotted line for the keys to that perfect apartment for rent in Dallas, TX, there are some things to keep in mind. Pay attention to these 8 details, and you’re bound to be a happy camper once you’re all moved in.

8 Steps All Renters Should Take Before Signing a Lease:

  1. Read the entire lease

    Reading your entire lease will help prevent simple problems from popping up. But you can take this one step further and make sure you’re signing the right lease for your city or state. Ordinances vary by city and state, so be sure to call your local government to find out local regulations for landlord-tenant law. Fortunately, there are nonprofit renters’ rights organizations in most major cities, so a quick phone call can help make sure you’re on the right track.

  2. Remember: It’s a partnership

    The landlord-tenant relationship can be friendly, especially if it gets off to a good start. Present yourself well on viewing day and be as polite and professional as you would be for a job interview. They are probably showing the property to many prospective tenants — and you want to stand out in all the right ways. Also remember that as much as your landlord is trusting you with their property, you are trusting them to maintain a safe and healthy living environment. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or request repairs and note the response. If they’re not willing to hear your concerns or write repairs into the lease, it could foretell problems down the road.

  3. Visit the apartment at different times of day

    Maybe the master bedroom gets gorgeous morning sunlight — but also sits right under a street lamp, throwing off even the best sleeper’s circadian rhythms. (Potential solution: blackout shades!) Visiting a unit more than once and at different hours will help you get a better sense of the space, from changing noise levels to noting the best hours for soaking up the rays. And while it’s not possible to stretch out your visits over multiple seasons, it’s always a good idea to ask the landlord about the apartment under different weather conditions. He or she may be able to prepare you for a loud radiator come winter or give you the scoop on a lifesaving cross-breeze during the summer months.

  4. Ask about alterations (no matter how small)

    Most lease agreements will specify what changes you’re allowed to make to an apartment, but it’s always a good idea, before signing, to get specific. Whether you’re hoping to install patio stones in the backyard or just put some nails in the wall, be sure to bring up those enhancements at the first viewing. Landlords can differ greatly in what customization they will allow; taking it for granted that you can “make your rental home your own” could put your security deposit at risk. And if there are things you feel compromise the safety or integrity of the apartment, have your landlord agree — in writing — to make those repairs.

  5. Understand the rules for subletting

    Subletting can be a great option for renters who might need to move out early. Maybe you’re renting while planning to buy, and your dream home comes along mid-lease, or a job unexpectedly takes you to a new state. Subletting can help you avoid breaking your lease by letting someone else pay out the remaining months — but make sure your landlord allows it or would consider an exception to the rule. Penalties for subletting can range from a hefty fine to eviction, so best to be in the clear before passing off the keys to another renter.

  6. Ask what’s included (and be clear on what isn’t)

    Utilities and other hidden costs can add up if they’re not included in the monthly rent. Even if you determine that the basics like gas and electric come with the rental, be sure to ask about hidden fees like garbage pickup, on-site parking, or monthly pet fees. Or if the property hosts an on-site gym or free laundry, factor those savings into your household budget. If no utilities are included, try to get a ballpark idea of what they might cost and budget accordingly. Asking a neighbor or the previous tenant can help give you an idea of what others spend.

  7. Talk to your new neighbors

    Get to know your neighbors, even before you sign. If they’re in the same building, you can get an expert opinion on the ins and outs of your prospective rental. They can let you know what utilities usually cost, weigh in on the dependability of your landlord or property management company, and tell you what to expect from the neighborhood. Ask how long they’ve lived in their apartment: It’s a good sign if your neighbor has found reason to renew their yearly lease. Neighbors can be good for so much more than a borrowed cup of sugar!

  8. Have your papers in order

    Competitive rental markets like New York, NY, and San Francisco, CA, often see many qualified candidates vying for the same apartment. In these cases, the most crucial thing you can do before signing a lease is to be 100% prepared. Having your paperwork ready to go with your application will expedite the process and increase your chances of signing that lease.

Is there anything you wish you’d asked a landlord before signing on the dotted line?

 

Source: Trulia.com – By Christine Stulik | Apr 12, 2017

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