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What Makes a Property Management Company Ideal

Because managing properties is difficult and stressful, few property management companies get it right when it comes to taking care of rental units. They may do an acceptable job but “acceptable” doesn’t quite cut it when you want things to operate well without a hitch. So when shopping around for a property management company, look for one that can promise you the following:

Successful resolution of maintenance issues: the right property management company keeps a rolodex of reliable independent contractors that undertake good, solid work quickly and at a suitable rate.

Collecting rent: the ideal property management company collects rents on the first of every month, no exceptions. If there is a delay in payments, then late fees are in order. The firm will also not hesitate to take legal action in the event of non-payment.

Leasing: the right property management company will ascertain the best market rents by conducting rent surveys and effectively market a property vacancy in order to find the ideal tenant. Typical marketing methods range from print media to classified ads to eye-catching signs and banners on the property itself.

Reporting: a good property management company sends out monthly management reports with up-to-date leasing information every month.

Recordkeeping: A competent property management company tracks financial in-flows and out-flows in a computerized system that records all the information for tax compliance. Rents are recorded in detail and all requested expenses are disbursed in a timely manner.

Other: The ideal property management company understands that your income property is more than just a simple investment. The company should be there to serve you whether your income properties range from single family homes, offices, buildings, commercial properties, shopping plazas, condominiums to large multi-unit apartment complexes.

A good firm looks on property management as a business that creates a reliable income. Its aim should be to keep your income high and your expenses low while taking care of your property in the best way.

Yet, despite the interests of the property management company being in alignment with those of the property owner – that is, to collect rent and keep the tenants happy – this sometimes isn’t enough to secure the best service. For your own peace of mind, look for a property management company that seeks to maintain a high standard of reliability and accountability always.

 

Fire safety in your home

This is the time of year when many tenants are thinking of lighting up the fireplace to keep the cold away. At such times it is always good to remind landlords and tenants alike of the hazards associated with the activity and what you can do to prevent accidental fires from happening. We, at Agon Management, recommend you follow these thirteen fireplace safety tips and guidelines. As long as they are respected, there should be no reason why we can’t all stay safe and warm this winter.

1. Fireplaces should be cleaned before the temperature drops. Particularly those of apartments, which tend to be smaller and not as well-built as home fireplaces and hence more dangerous.

2. Keep all flammable materials at a safe distance from the fireplace to keep these from catching fire. Heat will radiate and possibly ignite items such as trees, curtains, holiday décor and furniture placed near the fireplace.

3. Keep the damper open so as to allow for a free air circulation of gases and smoke.

4. Make sure to use the metal mesh screen to prevent sparks from flying.

5. Leave the inlets and glass doors slightly open when the fire is burning to minimize smoke build-up.

6. Never use flammable liquids such as charcoal lighter fluid, kerosene, alcohol or gasoline to start a fire in the apartment or rental unit.

7. Piggybacking on the last point, never soak rolled paper in any flammable liquid. This can create a strong and dangerous flare up.

8. Burn manufactured logs one at a time when using them. Remember that smaller fires consume the log completely while producing less smoke versus larger fires that burn beyond their capacity.

9. Keep a non-expired easy-to-use fire extinguisher near by.

10. Burn only certain seasoned woods like maple, oak, etc. Other woods, like Pinon, are not good for fireplace burning in that they leave a tar-like, flammable residue inside the fireplace flue once fully consumed by the fire.

11. Make sure the rental unit or apartment’s smoke detectors are working properly and placed near the bedrooms and the fireplace.

12. Store firewood well away from the fireplace. Termites can often be found in firewood and can cause damage to other wooded parts of the home.

13. Never leave a fireplace fire unattended, particularly at night when you want to go to sleep or when you want to leave your home. The fire needs to be extinguished every time.

Record gains for Washington DC Metro housing market

Highest Annual Price Gain Recorded for DC Metro Housing Market Since December 2005  

 

Demand in the Washington DC metro housing market has increased in October following the usual slowdown in activity in September. Buyers are still active in the market as sales, median price gains and new pending contracts are all higher than their 10-year average change from September. All market indicators are above 2011 levels while several are at multi-year October highs. There is  also a 7-year high for new pending contracts, which might be tied to the mild temperatures observed in October.

Buyers appear to be purchasing townhouses and condos, as evidenced by the fact that the proportion of new contracts on single-family homes has reached the lowest point in 2 years. The lower price points of these real estate properties as well as location preferences of active buyers may explain this phenomenon. Median prices have increased in the market in exhibiting the highest year-over-
year price gain in almost 7 years.

Playing a role in the price gains is the continued fall in the inventory of properties for sale. Active listings are about half of their level 2 years ago and new listings for last month were at their lowest point in over 10 years. Townhouses have posted the highest median price growth and new contract
growth of all real estate segments, indicating the segment is continuing to gain real growth. However, despite the increase in prices, it is improbable that the market will witness a growth in active listings as 2012 ends. Many would-be sellers are still dealing with equity losses and there is still plenty of economic
uncertainty.

Closed Sales 

Demand has increased across all property segments with the highest October sales since 2009. October sales in the Washington DC Metro Area amounted to 3,269 – a 16.1 percent hike over last October.

Prices, New Contracts and Inventory

Median price gains are at their highest for the DC Metro Area in almost 7 years. At $362,500, the median property price in the region is 13.3 percent higher than October 2011 – the highest year-over-year increase for any month since December 2005. With townhomes leading the segments, new contracts are at the highest level for October in seven years. There were 4,459 new contracts inked last month in the

DC area, up 5.8 percent from this point last year and the highest October total in 7 years. New listings for October are at their lowest in over 10 years and are roughly half of what they were in October 2010.

Purchasing a Second Home- Things to Consider

October 2012

Purchasing a Second Home- Things to Consider

Have you been thinking about purchasing a second home, possibly an investment property or maybe a retirement home? Perhaps you keep hearing about how real estate is a great way to invest your money, or you want to take advantage of real estate opportunities. Have you spent countless hours looking at available properties, wondering where to buy, how to find the best value, but are unsure? Are you having trouble narrowing down your options? Are you ready?

The housing market has drastically changed over the past 10 years, from housing boom to bust, with record foreclosures. The question is, “Is now the right time to invest?” And if yes, should it be an Investment property, a retirement home, or both. The combination of relatively low home prices and interest rates makes this one of the most attractive times in years to become a real estate investor. Here are some topics to consider when exploring the opportunities:

  • Decide first what type of property you would like to purchase? Is it a maintenance free condo or a single or multi- family home? Consider the size, number of bedrooms, bathrooms, square footage, and lot size.
  • Location, Location, Location! Buying a property near a town or city with access to quality healthcare and low crime rates are just a few of the criteria you should consider when purchasing a second home. Whether you are purchasing an investment property or a retirement home, consider markets that have appealing characteristics such as great climate, lower living costs and taxes, extensive cultural amenities, and quality transportation services.
  • Know your financial situation: Can you afford to become a property investor? Know your capital and get your personal finances in order. Also, have a clear plan of what you would like to accomplish, most lenders want to know your plans for the property. Invest in a property that provides both rental income now and capital appreciation later. Consider the differences between retirement home loans-versus-investment property loans. Be prepared to pay up to a 35% down payment. Mortgage lenders will charge a higher interest for investment properties because they assume the property will depreciate faster. For more information and advice you can visit http://www.mortgageadvisors.org/.
  • Seek expert help: discuss market opportunities with a real estate agent. Consider the advice of a property manager to help you assess the potential maintenance cost of the property. For more information on property values, real estate advice, market trends, and more, visit: www.zillow.com; www.realtor.com.
  • Research laws and regulations: State Landlord-Tenant laws, landlord liabilities, tax deductions available to landlords are all important topics to understand. For more information regarding laws and regulations you may visit www.nolo.com.
  • If you are unsure or have not found your ideal property market, I invite you take a test that may help you find it. Click on the following link: http://money.cnn.com/quizzes/2012/pf/retirement/best-places-to-retire-quiz/index.html.

The Services of a Property Management Company Explained

June 2012

The Services of a Property Management Company Explained

The primary functions of a property management company are twofold: a) to handle all aspects of the leasing, managing, marketing and maintenance of a real estate property; and b) to take over the responsibilities of the property owner with the tenant. In exchange for these services, which directly benefit the property owner, the property management company charges a fee that is deducted from the rent.

Benefits for the Property Owner

In hiring a property management company, the property owner benefits by not having to worry about the myriad of problems that go hand in hand with being a full-time landlord. Property management is time-consuming and often involves a lot more than insuring, listing and periodically maintaining a rental property. Such tasks include: knowing the legalities tied to renting and leasing a property; listing, screening and approving tenant rental applications; and being available round-the-clock for any tenant demands or issues related to the property. When the property owner neither has the time or the inclination to perform all these duties, s/he hires a property management firm to take over his or her responsibilities as a landlord and to make sure that the tenants and the property are properly taken care of.

The Services of a Property Management Firm in Detail

The property management company’s fee collected from the overall rent goes to covering the services the company provides to the property owner. Because of this, the interest of the property management company in securing reliable tenants and keeping them happy is aligned with that of the property owner. As a result, property management firms rigorously screen all tenant candidates with – at the very least – a background check, a credit check and an evaluation of the candidate tenant’s rental history. This is one of the primary obligations of a property management firm.

A second obligation includes handling all the legal documentation tied to renting the property, which must also be in compliance with government regulations and the Fair Housing Act. A third obligation of the company is to handle the nitty gritty details of the rental, that is, assessing the rental marketplace to determine a fair rent value, maintenance and repair, handling on-site inspections, enforcing rent collection from the tenants, and managing all aspects of the advertising and marketing of the property to secure tenants.

3 Tips to Getting the Application Right for a Quick Rental Process

September 2012

3 Tips to Getting the Application Right for a Quick Rental Process

Drafting the right application form is key if you want to land more tenants, screen them in an instant and make the whole process super easy for both you and the tenant. Here are 3 tips and pointers for getting it right:

1. Simplify, simplify, simplify

Get the application down to its barest bones. There is nothing that turns off tenants more than filling in lengthy application forms with, what to you and them, may amount to pointless information. Think to always streamline and convey what you request in an easy format. The simpler the rental form, the more likely people will apply for the rental and that is always good for business. The application form should always include the potential tenant’s full name, contact information, place of employment and references from previous landlords.

2. Help is there if you need it

The process of drawing up an application form might be intimidating when you’re a new landlord, which is why it’s important to have someone with more experience give it an once-over before you start using it. Get a local landlord or business-savvy friend to review it and advise you on how you can make it better. But if you don’t have such contacts and you’re looking for a quick review, feel free to ask for help from the people over at Reddit. This website has a helpful section for newbie landlords and the folks you’ll find there are always keen to help you out with any questions about how you should draft your first rental application. Landlord forums are another option when Reddit doesn’t seem to quite cut it and you need in-depth answers to your rental application questions.

3. Online rental applications make it quick & easy

You can always dump the traditional printed rental application route and opt to have your applicants fill out their forms online for an efficient rental process. There are quite a few quality sites out there that offer online rental application services, with some even providing quick online credit checks for landlords. At most of these sites, you can design your own rental applications (though templates are generally available) with some sites having the credit check service take up only a day to send you the report. Hands down, online applications are the easiest, most convenient way to speed up the rental process. We recommend you check out RocketLease, RentApp, Leasely, AppFolio and RentersFriend as online rental application providers.

Becoming a Landlord – Easier than you thought!

August, 2012

Becoming a landlord doesn’t have to be difficult or stressful. With a few tips and tricks from the experts, it can be much easier than you thought. First, here are a few topics to think about:
1. What´s the right market value of your property,
2. What are the best ways to screen potential tenants,
3. Where and how do I advertise my property, and
4. How do I maintain a good relationship with my tenants.
These are just a few details to consider when becoming a landlord. Now, whether you decide to do it all on your own or with the help of experts, it is crucial to remember that the goal is to get your property rented as quickly and as efficiently as possible!
Listed below are some basic guidelines and tricks for attracting suitable tenants.

Start with the right application. Whether you are using a template or creating your own application, KEEP IT SIMPLE! Adhering to relevant and important questions such as full name, contact information, place of employment and references from previous landlords will help you select the right tenants without creating additional work for you or your potential tenant. For help developing your lease agreement and/or other important documents you may visit websites such as: www.rocketlawyer.com; http://www.ezlandlordforms.com; http://www.legalcontracts.com.

Make it accessible! Consider using online resources to speed the process and add convenience to potential renters. Online applications allow sophisticated and busy prospects to browse through necessary information from their home and/or office and quickly and conveniently returned it to you. There are also online background check companies that expedite the process. Here are a few examples of available websites and online companies that specialize in quick and easy online credit checks for landlords (www.experian.com; www.creditscore.com; www.backgroundcheck.peoplesmart.com).
Whether you are a new landlord or a more experienced one, you may consider soliciting the advice and experience of a good property management company. They can provide you with general assistance or specific advice at any step of the process. Also they will assist you with all necessary documentation required to ensure a fast and easy process for you as a Landlord.

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