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.

Fireplace Safety 101

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.

Photo credit: FIRE!! by Thomas’s Pics

Highest Annual Price Gain Recorded for DC Metro Housing Market Since Dec 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 townhomes 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. Town homes 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 town homes 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.

Successful Property Marketing Techniques Part II

Most people get into the property management or rental business thinking it’s a good way to generate money, but then wind up realizing that it’s a lot more work than they figured in the first place, especially when it comes to landing qualified tenants. The reason? They never learned how to effectively market themselves. To learn how you can step up your marketing game, read this: Part Two of our list of successful marketing techniques:

Be Clever About Social Media

'Social Media apps' photo (c) 2013, Jason Howie - license: //creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Chances are most or your competitors are tweeting or facebooking a ton to generate more business. But are they seeing any return from their social media efforts? Probably not. Many make the mistake of not spending enough time beforehand to come up with social media content that is interesting, informative and exciting. Don’t make that mistake: plan ahead and think your campaign through. Send out one consistent message, like a tip, or funny cartoon, or anything that would make a person look forward to seeing your posts on their social media news feed.

Go Door to Door

Sure, it sounds old school but few people are doing it anymore, right? Hence, the reason to employ this still effective marketing technique. All you have to do is print some flyers, grab a bag of treats for the kids, practice your lines and hit the streets. Introduce yourself to the people in the neighborhood, tell them about your rental units, ask for referrals and let them know that you’re always on hand to answer their questions. If you’re smart, you can also ask the people you meet if they’d like to receive your free newsletter to stay updated on local events and trends. This way, you can reach out and market your business to them in other ways.

Go Public

Emceeing a charity auction or throwing the first pitch at a local baseball game are just two ways you can meet the public and get your business name out there. Now don’t be overzealous and go to every Girl Scouts meeting or club event in the area, but still, it would be nice to show your face at an event at least once a month so that the locals are continually reminded as to what you do. Continually getting your name out there like this not only expands your circle of influence but also makes people more likely to like and trust you.

For further property marketing tips take a look at: //www.dcpropertymanager.com/successful-property-marketing-techniques/

When a Property Manager Takes on too Much

A lot of people who regularly work in real estate are embracing property management as a side business. Across America, realtors and real estate agents who have been shocked by the decrepit state of the industry are not making enough sales and are having a hard time keeping consistent listings. As a result, they are managing properties as a way to pay the bills until the market picks up again. Because more quasi-property managers are flooding the market, there is more rivalry between the quasi managers and the pros, which is obliging all who want to build their portfolio to find additional properties to rent out.

Many of the newbies are agreeing to manage broken down properties from landlords at management rates as low as three or four percent while accepting high rental rate demands from these same owners. Unfortunately, these same owners will expect to make money from the dilapidated properties that aren’t ever likely to generate a welcome income. This is one mistake but one far more typical mistake made by such newcomers to the industry is to manage accounts that are geographically located too far away from their own headquarters and/or general neighborhood of expertise.

Many property management firms market themselves as companies that can handle properties in different locations within the city, but it must be understood that the best property management companies are the ones that are best structured to handle such accounts. They have the systems, the means and the staff members on hand to serve such accounts across different districts and neighborhoods, and are able to do so professionally. However, newbie realtors and real estate agents, as single parties, often accept such geographically distant accounts and are not able to process or handle such accounts properly. But because of the struggling real estate market, they find it hard to refer a landlord client to a professional property management firm for a simple referral fee when they can generate a steady income profit from managing the property themselves.

The property managers with experience know how much they can take on and would rather deliver Grade-A service than risk tarnishing their reputation on a property that may prove to be too problematic for them in the long run. Nothing kills the motivation of a new property manager as much as having to drive across town several times a week to try to rent out a property that is difficult to rent out in the first place. The more the property manager has to spend on driving from place to place, the more he will question whether the account is worth preserving as total driving time and gas expenditures add up. In the end, the property owner is unhappy with the care and maintenance undertaken by the hired property manager and eventually lets the property manager go.

This is why it is best to own up to your experience when you are a real estate agent or realtor and to understand that saying “no” is in your best interest when talking about a property that is significantly outside your area of coverage. After all, property management is not the same as simply selling or renting out a property as a realtor – it is much more complicated than that.

A Property Managers View on Subletting

May 13, 2013

There’s something about subletting a unit – when your tenant does it — that runs against the grain of a property manager’s sense of work and duty. You put in a lot of effort to find the right tenant – one who clears a criminal and credit background check, who is legitimately employed, who has presented a solid personal reference or two and whose recent landlords you’ve spoken with. In other words, a tenant you’ve done everything to make sure is reliable and responsible. A good property manager knows that this is the only way to make sure the property unit is protected, that the rent will be paid on time, and that the tenant will even be the kind of neighbor who is kind and considerate to you and others.

Your business gets thrown a curve ball, however, when your tenant wants to sublet the unit to another person. He or she will be in charge of the screening process and this can invite all kinds of problems. Of course, it will be in the tenant’s best interest to make sure the subletor will be responsible and reliable with the unit and with paying the rent on time. At the same time, the pre-existing tenant will be the one who will be held liable for the lease and any damage or financial penalties until the term of the lease finally runs out. However, the big problem here is that most tenants simply don’t have the experience or know-how in property management to know who constitutes a reliable tenant. Because of this, there may be problems when the tenant wants to secure a subletor for the unit he/she is responsible for.

Sure, subletting your unit out may not always be what your want or prefer, but when you are in the position where the alternative is lost rent, you should go for it. If and when you find yourself where a sublease is in order, it’s important that you take care of the following points:

  • Make sure the pre-existing tenant – the one in charge of finding the subletor – has a history of exercising good judgment and of being responsible.
  • Also clarify to the pre-existing tenant that a credit and criminal check is required of the subletor (to be covered either by you or the tenant).
  • Be certain to have all the necessary legal paperwork signed and understood by both the tenant and subletor regarding the financial obligations of the sublet, i.e.: the monthly rent payments and fines linked to property damages.
  • It’s critical that you are the one to ultimately approve the potential subletor.

At all times, you must remember that you are the property manager and that you are the one who sets down the parameters on subletting. If you are one to decide that subletting is not right for your business and ban it, make sure to write as an important clause in your lease contract.

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Successful Property Marketing Techniques

'Housing Market' photo (c) 2012, 401(K) 2012 - license: //creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

When it comes to marketing your rental units, practically everything has been done already. From bench signs to social networking to floppy lawn signs, most property managers have done it all. Yet because these marketing techniques are employed so much, their impact on consumers is not especially strong. So, as a property manager, what can you do to reel ‘em in? We have some ideas on what you can do to vastly improve your business:

Play with your Number

Your phone number plays a big role in your marketing campaigns. But you lose out on a big opportunity to land tenants when you use a regular phone number just like everybody else. Instead, get your own personalized phone number – one that really sticks with people. For example, a number that is made up of almost all threes. Or a number that spells out a memorable word. You stay ahead of the game when your number is easy to remember. In a world where people are always in a rush, such a number can help you land more business.

Grab their Attention

Ramp up the fun factor a bit when you advertise property vacancies. Go for broke and think of creative headlines when announcing a rental listing. Something like: “Your Wishing Well Wish Came True: your Dream Home is Right Here.” Or “Miracles Happen: Your Wife will Love this Place, Too”, etc. Don’t know what to write? Hire a copywriter or someone who can creatively string words together to write out your slogans.

Be a Radio Star

Most property managers would never consider advertising on the radio. But it’s a surefire way to let a company personality shine straight to the masses, often very inexpensively. When you do radio, free advertising opportunities abound. You can win a spot on a “Meet the Experts” panel on a regular radio informational show, or even host your own weekly half-hour or hour show. Small radio stations are always looking for people to fill up air time, just roll with it and come up with creative skits to impress your listeners.

Be a Video Star

YouTube videos are a novel way of marketing yourself and your business, when you know what you’re doing. It can be tricky to send links of your videos to your database of prospects. (Think of it as putting out a newscast directly targeted to the people on your list.) But the investment is well worth it – the medium really helps to shorten the distance between you and the consumer, i.e.: someone who wants to do business with someone who seems very human and approachable.

Spring Cleaning / Move Out Cleaning Checklist

'Washington, DC: Cherry Blossoms' photo (c) 2012, Justine Jablonska - license: //creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/

May 1, 2013

So long April showers, hello May flowers! Pretty soon you’ll be bombarded with graduation invitations and start feeling the need to plan your summer vacation (if you haven’t already!). But before you can do any of that, Spring is a time of new leaves and renewal so why not make that go for your home as well?

Completing a deep clean is very important and the best way to make ensure cleaning tasks proceed smoothly and completely is to have a good cleaning checklist. Like all big projects, it’s a good idea to do your homework and construct a plan. Yes, that means putting pen to paper or creating a spread sheet, if that’s more your style. So whether you are  moving out of your own home, or just cleaning a rented property before moving out,  or simply looking to complete some Spring cleaning (given the time of year!) we have a complied a cleaning tip list to keep all parties busy and of course the landlord and property manager happy.


      1. Wash all windows both internally and externally.
  1. Wipe and clean window sills and curtain rails.
  2. Wash inside and outside of front and back doors.
  3. Try to remove all scuffs and marks from the walls, where necessary repaint if you have the correct shade.
  4. Wash completely all floors.
  5. All carpeting should be professionally cleaned to remove stains depending on length of lease.  It is a good idea to check your lease and keep the receipts for these tasks so that the cost can be deducted from you security deposit.
  6. All garbage must be removed from the property.
  7. Clean out fireplace if applicable.
  8. Clean all blinds and wash or dry clean all drapes and valances.
  9. Clean all light fixtures throughout unit and replace any burnt out bulbs.


  1. Clean inside and out of dishwasher and range hood.
  2. Sweep and wash the kitchen floor, including beneath all movable appliances.
  3. Wipe and clean sinks and counter tops completely.


  1. Clear out all contents first
  2. Wash the  inside of refrigerator with water.
  3. Take out all removable shelving and drawers and wash separately, dry and replace.
  4. Wash the outside of refrigerator.
  5. Remember to move the fridge and complete cleaning behind and underneath also.
  6. Freezer must be defrosted and cleaned. If defrosting, remember to turn appliance back on once completed.


  1. Remove racks and clean by soaking in hot water to remove all difficult to remove dirt.
  2. Clean fully the inside of the oven, top of the stove, and underneath the elements.
  3. Clean behind and underneath the appliance (if moveable).
  4. Wash and dry outside of stove.

Vanity Cabinets and Drawers

  1. Remove all contents
  2. Wash cupboards on both the inside and out.
  3. Wipe out drawers with damp rag.


  1. Remove all personal belongings.
  2. Wash down all tiled areas ensuring to pay attention to the grouting areas.
  3. Clean bathtub, shower area around the tub, sink, door and ensure all fixtures shining.
  4. Remember to Clean the inside and outside of toilet.
  5. Wash and shine mirror.
  6. Sweet and wash all floors.


  1. Ensure the lawn is freshly mowed and weed flower beds if applicable.
  2. Finally, remove all garbage, debree and external clutter as first impressions are key!

In order to recoup your deposit upon vacating a rental property, its is important firstly to give the landlord or property manager the required notice period but secondly to ensure the property is spic and span and in its original condition that you got it in. We at Agon Management hope that you find this checklist useful in moving towards a sparkling clean and organized house inside and out. If you have any further tips or recommendations on this topic that you’d like to share, please comment below! We would love to hear from you!

Buying a Property? This is What You Should Do

March 1, 2013


As a property investor, you will evaluate a property in a very different way than someone who is shopping for his or her future home. That is, you will buy a property with much fewer emotional attachments and more logic as you hunt for a highly bankable property. But even if you are using your shrewd business mind when looking over a property, it’s possible you are not being thoroughly diligent and taking care of certain issues before buying it.

Inspect the Property

Being cautious about an investment property means you must take care to hire a third party to thoroughly inspect the unit. Inspection is absolutely vital to you potentially saving hundreds and even thousands of dollars in damages such as mold, a damaged roof, water leakage, i.e.: the typical property problems owners may fail to disclose to you as you look over a property. It is important that you contract a professional inspector to inspect the property before escrow closes. All real estate agents will be able to recommend you an inspector, but you can always check the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) for a reliable inspector. All the members of ASHI must meet organizational standards and pass exams as well as keep to a built-in system of checks and balances. But make sure to check the references of every inspector you evaluate – the inspection phase of buying a property is so critical to your business that getting the right inspector is key to you potentially saving a lot of money in the future.

 When To Inspect

The best time to carry out the inspection is after you’ve made an offer. And if the inspection turns up information that forces you to drop the property, make sure your real estate agent builds in a contingency to enable this to happen. If you opt to have the property inspected before you make an offer – you can do this – remember that you will have to pay for the service, which may set you back considerably even before you make the offer (others may bid on it in the meantime).


Make sure the seller gives you a full disclosure before the inspection takes place. This will help you stay abreast of all problems that may or may not be detected during an inspection. Be sure to acquire this information before the inspection so that your inspector can carefully inspect the problem areas in the building. Take care to remember, however, that sellers will only give you a disclosure to the best of their knowledge – there may be issues with the unit that even they may not be aware of.


The Move-In / Move-Out Checklist

'3D Home Inspection Checklist' photo (c) 2012, Chris Potter - license: //creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

January 15, 2013

One aspect of reducing costs when managing a rental property is to limit the expenses associated with tenant turnover. Tenant turnover often entails a renovation of the rental property — in order for the rental unit to attract a new tenant, it must be professionally painted, cleaned or touched up, with carpets cleaned or replaced. The key in knowing what expenses to cover and what expenses to charge back to the tenant is in knowing the condition of the property before and after a tenancy.

To this end, keeping a written “Move-In/Move-Out” checklist that allows both parties to keep track of the state of the property at the times of “Move-In” and “Move-Out” eliminates any misunderstandings regarding which party will pay for certain damages upon move out. An inspection of the property with the tenant before move-in – for the sake of documenting the condition of the unit for the checklist – is vital. It is necessary to take notes on the condition of screens, windows, appliances, blinds, walls, doors, lighting, heating, flooring, a/c, toilets, faucets, ceiling fans and any other aspect of the interior and exterior of the rental unit. Remember to have the tenant sign and date the document after the initial walk-through with the tenants. The use of a video camera or digital camera is also recommended upon both “Move-in”and “Move-out” – the images will help stave off any tenant challenges in the future, i.e.: the “It was that way when we moved in” argument.

Alternatively, the checklist serves as a valuable reference point if and when the tenant requests a repair that is outside the scope of the normal wear and tear of a unit. In this case, the checklist will safeguard the landlord’s right to charge the tenant for the repair, if it is found that the damage incurred falls outside the bounds of normal wear and tear. The checklist favors both parties in that it can protect the tenant from unnecessary security deposit deductions while also protecting the property owner from costly damages to the rental unit. For the property owner, the existence of the checklist sends a clear signal to the tenant about his/her responsibilities in taking care of the rental unit during tenancy. The tenant, in turn, can rest easy knowing that if they maintain the property they will receive their security deposit back when the lease ends.

Clearly, the “Move-In/Move-Out” checklist benefits both the landlord and tenant and should be standard policy both when a tenant moves in and moves out.

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