Management One Property Management

Rental Property Scams: 7 tips to avoid being scammed

By Trisha

With the internet and all our devices mobile now, it makes everything easy and convenient for us.  However, with that comes those who want to take advantage of this convenience – the online Scammers, especially rental property scams.

In Property Management, the online Scammer creates quite a challenge.  These individuals find listings of properties for rent online, then post their own advertisement for the property, usually on Craigslist.

Over the last 30-years, here at Management One, we have had our fair share of run-ins with scammers and have seen a dramatic increase in the number of scams in the last decade.

I want to take the opportunity to share with you what to look for when renting a property and how to avoid being scammed out of thousands of dollars.

rental property scams

Rental Property Scams- Why do scammers scam

The Scammer intends to collect application fees, security deposits, even rent for a month or two, if they think they can.  In the end, they just take off with the money they were able to collect, unbeknownst to the applicants or renters.  Disheartening and a significant setback for you as a prospective applicant as well as an issue for the property management company.

Scammers have been doing this for a long time though.  Even when the Scammer cannot get into a property, they tell the potential renters that they are out of town, but they should drive by the home, even get out and walk around the property to see if they are interested. The Scammer will almost always offer them a great deal on rent.

rental property scams

Self-Showing Lockboxes

Now with the newer self-showing capabilities, such as Show-mojo and Rently, Scammers can work their magic on potential victims more than ever before.  Typically, a Scammer that is focused on the self-showing properties starts with an online scam listing.  They bring up the self-showing ability, so the Scammer seems credible.  The Scammer will go online to get a code to access the property, then gives it out to potential renters.  It is common for the scammer to claim they own the property. The renters let the scammer know they like the property leading to a transaction. Usually, the scammer will share a story of some kind, like they are firing the property management company (whose sign is still in front of the property) but go on their website to schedule a viewing of the property.  Just contact the “landlord” afterward to do the paperwork since “they will no longer be working with the property management company.”  So, the Scammer is actually using the showing system the property management company is using too.

rental property scams

Playing the game

Scammers are able to switch their methods quickly.  Take the necessary steps to protect yourself and guard against this happening to you.

  1. Try to avoid a rental scam by looking for signs on the property that has the property management company name, contact number, and their website information. Usually, you should be able to see the sign from the street. Call the company, look them up online as well as the ads they have for the property.
  2. Never send or wire money to anyone you have not had a chance to talk or meet with. If the landlord does meet you at the property, but there is an excuse you can’t get in to see it (he forgot keys, brought wrong keys, etc.) be cautious.
  3. If the landlord seems too eager to rent to you, be cautious. If you are told a lease is not required, don’t do it. When there is a lease, make sure it identifies the owner or property management company.
  4. Don’t leave an application with your personal information under the doormat or stuck to the garage door.
rental property scams

**True Story**

I recently had a prospective resident come into our office looking for a property from a reputable company. The resident shared this story with me…

 

The resident saw a property online that they really liked.   They contacted and spoke with the “leasing agent”.  They scheduled an appointment to look at the property even inside.  They decide they like it and want to apply.  The Leasing agent left an application folded up and stuck a little under garage door for them to pick up.  Then tells them when done, leave it back under edge of garage door (as to not blow away) along with $180 application fees (cash of course) and believe or not….they did it.  They left all of that and call the guy and he never answers after that.  The resident recently drove by the property only to find out it is not for rent after all.

  1. Don’t ever pay for a list of homes for rent. There are companies out there that will charge $250 for a list of homes. These lists are usually accumulated by going online to sites such as Zillow and Trulia, finding homes that are for rent and then putting them on one list. The companies that do this normally don’t have the permission from the management companies to “sell” this data.
rental property scams

True Story:

 

A family finds a rental company with a lot of listings.  They actually even meet at an office.  They have to pay $250 for a rental listing, with a guarantee that they will get one of the homes.  The family starts going through the list and going by the properties, only to find out the list has homes that have residents and the “company” does not manage.  They go back to the office they met at, and the office is empty.  They met several other families are at the location looking for the company too.

  1. Be cautious of ads on Craig’s list. We stopped placing properties for rent on Craig’s List because the number of scammers dramatically increased when we did this. It is very common for scammers to prey on individuals looking for homes for rent on Craig’s List.

True Story:

 

Over the years we have experienced scammers copying our property ads. The new ad will have an unbelievable rental rate.  We had one last year in Riverside.  Rent was $1700.  The new ad was for $800.  I must have received over 100 calls each day for that property, it would seem when they first placed the ad they left our company phone number on the ad. They changed it to a different phone number in a few days.  One lead said they did end up speaking to someone at the property who took their application, copy of their IDs and socials, along with a check for the application fee.  They could stop payment the check, but now the scammer had their IDs and socials.

  1. Don’t apply for a property without seeing the inside of. It is common for scammers to make excuses to not show the inside of the home. Such as “I am out of town”, “the current tenant isn’t available today” and more. What they are really saying is “I don’t have keys to this property”.
rental property scams

Don’t be a Victim

Always have your guard up, be overly cautious when applying for a rental property. If something seems to good to be true, then it probably is. We recommend going with a reputable management company. At the very least, if you are renting through a private owner, do your research first.

 

If you would like more information on properties available for rent, visit our website at m1rent.com.

Property Management Services

Call 951-924-4315 OR

Preparing a House for Rental: 7 Effective Ways to Attract Residents

By Steve Hembree

“Oh My Goodness, I’m about to have a vacancy in my rental. What to do, what to do?!” Well, you’re in the right spot, right now, as we’re about to tell you the seven most effective ways to prepare your house for rental.

You can look at a pending vacancy as a bad thing, but why do this to yourself? Isn’t life stressful enough? Traffic, taxes, yadda yadda… You can also look at a pending vacancy as an opportunity. Follow along with us as we simplify it.

The items below are things we at Management One touch day in and day out, year after year, as in 31 years of processes and thought patterns, so follow along, we’re happy to share!

preparing house for rental

Done Right, Rental Preparation is Simple – and a Good Idea

Nothing is really as hard as you think it will be. Except for brain surgery, that is hard.
First, let’s start with the basics, and work our way up from there. Ask yourself these questions to set the process in motion.

  • Driving past the house, does its curb appeal give me an emotional response? In other words, does it look striking?
  • Is that response positive? Negative? Meh?
  • How long has your resident lived in the property?
  • What was done to the property before the current residents moved in? Example, what was the actual condition of the property before moving in? How old was the flooring at that time? What was the type of flooring? How old is the paint inside and outside? Cabinetry and counters were they in good condition, and as importantly, attractive?
  • What is my budget?
  • Fixtures, were they, or are they, dated? And again, how about cabinets? Yes, I’m harping on this, both the exteriors and the interiors. Your resident will too.
  • Popcorn ceilings, does the rental have them?
  • The surrounding homes, and are there “bad actors” next door or on the street? No, I’m not talking Keanu Reeves here, I mean folks who have no compunction about tossing trash over your fence from their yard, or parking on their yard, or leaving mounds of trash on the street.
house for rental

First Thing’s First

The frame of mind is everything, or at least the start of everything. I other words, perception is 90% of reality. I’m sure there is some meme out there which contradicts this, but that’s my story, and I’m sticking with it. In fact, some quantum theorists will tell you “that which you perceive creates reality.” No, I’m not going metaphysical on you, but look it up, it’s true.

#1- Rental Preparation – First Impressions Count!

I would like to ask you think back, to staying at someone’s house, or better still, staying in a hotel or motel. What is it that good lodging focuses on?
First impressions. You only have the first few seconds of ANY encounter with which to indelibly imprint a good impression. A top-flight inn will pull out all the stops right off the bat, the cleanliness, the “Fung Shui,” if you will, that is, the way lobby furnishings are set up.  Also, the background music is no mistake, but did you know that many establishments also use odor emitters? Even Disneyland!
See this article: Disney’s 5 Coolest Park Secrets

However, you likely will not want to go to this extreme, the point being that the impression does indeed count. Hotel rooms which look and smell neat, clean, fresh, will always give a better lasting impression than one with worn carpets, bedding, dirty mirrors and such. This is a no-brainer, you may be thinking to yourself, however, pause to think: you’re offering up a long-term residence for rent. How is it any different? Actually, it isn’t, except you’re asking someone to live there for a year, or five.

house for rental

#2- Curb appeal

We have addressed this in several articles, such as
Landscaping Your Rental Property Yard: Why it’s Important.
Yes, the landscaping is an important factor, but so is the overall paint, the condition of the driveway, walkways, porch, etc. If your house gives off a negative vibe or makes you feel “meh,” what sort of resident are you going to attract? And how long will it take to rent? I cannot understate the importance of curb appeal.
Here is a before picture of a troubled property that underwent an extensive transformation.

rental property

Here is an after picture of the same property. Of the two, which would you rent? You see? Curb appeal matters!
rental property

#3- Interior Paint- How long has the leaving resident lived there?

While it is not a perfect means of determining what may need doing, both inside and out, the length of time a resident has occupied a home can determine, to an extent, what may need doing. At a year or less, the home will likely need a good thorough cleaning at the very least, and probably some touch-up paint.

On cleaning, I mean cleaning to take the home to Move In Ready. Everyone has a different definition of what clean is, so to frame this, think high-end hotel room clean.

And on paint, use only semi-gloss paint, you will thank us later!

At 2 years the home will also likely need a thorough cleaning and is more likely to need a full paint inside. Not always, but as a rule. This would be determined once the resident moves out, and you can clearly see all the walls. There will probably be some blinds that need replacing, and some screens may need attention.

3 to 10 years, the cleaning usually will be needed, a full paint is almost a sure bet, and at 10 years the ceiling probably needs paint too.

If occupied for 10+ years, there’s a fair bet the home will need updating light fixtures, maybe cabinets.

house for rental

What was done to the property before the current residents moved in?

Proper record keeping is paramount. Say you have a resident who lived in the house for less than a year, any painting needed is at their expense, IF said areas which were painted prior to the resident moving in. Say you only painted one wall before the resident moved in, if that wall is not being painted this time, you cannot charge the resident for any paint. That’s the law in California, be sure to check your local laws to know what applies.

Was the flooring new when they moved in? Is it damaged now? Then you can charge the outgoing resident a pro-rated amount for that floor replacement. If you have no record of the floor’s age, you cannot charge.

Much of what you will be doing in getting a property ready will depend on not only the current condition of the house upon move out, but that will also be influenced by what was done prior.

“What is my budget?”

Your budget is what you determine it to be, in a laid back, perfect world. With a rental property, however, realistically, it ought to be that which needs to be done in order to get the property in excellent condition.

Remember, if your house looks shoddy, you will almost certainly get a shoddy resident. Funny how that works, no?”

Let me, delicately, move in an odd direction here. I don’t want to scold or anything, but myself, I’d try to put away at least $200 a month as a hedge against unexpected repairs, or unforeseen and expected rehab costs. Do that, and you’ll have the average amount of a rehab sitting in an account ready to go with little to no heartache. However, if you have deferred maintenance on your property for any length of time, you will need more than that. Why? Carpet alone, on an average home, can run $2100+ alone!

shutterstock_236455681

#4- Fixtures and cabinets, are they dated?

Like clothing, items such as fixtures go out of fashion, and back into fashion, all the time. If it works and looks nice, don’t mess with it! That is a good rule of thumb to follow.
On another note, if your kitchen counters are “Butcher Block Formica,” you may want to update them. These are not coming back into fashion. Ever. Yet if you to tell me you were going to replace them with granite, I’d tell you to stop right there! It makes ZERO sense to pop new granite counter on old cabinets! Think about it – you’re upgrading and downgrading at the same time! If you’re doing one, do the other, it is that simple. Otherwise, consider glazing your counters, even Formica. See, spend $650 on the counters now and get 2 to 5 years of life out of them is more cost effective than slapping $2500 of granite onto 25-year-old cabinets.
Here are some examples – Before and After, 1st a kitchen, and a bath. The bath sink and counters had heavy crazing and were just plain ugly. These are actual examples we have improved.
preparing a house for rental

preparing a house for rental

preparing a house for rental

preparing a house for rental

Another word on cabinetry: If the wood exteriors are in poor condition, it may be best to simply paint them if they are not being replaced.

Bear this in mind as well: up to 40% of your rehab costs can be written off. 30% Federal, 10% State. Also, should you throw $20k in your kitchen, you will likely see about a $25k or more increase in the property value. Sure, that goes unrealized until you sell the property, however, YOU know it’s there, and your resident does as well.

#5- Popcorn ceilings, does the rental have them?

If so, just lose them if they need any work. Follow the cost-effective route and leave them be, or maybe paint them if they are in pretty good condition. However, if enough of the ceilings are damaged, it may be best to remove the popcorn. Water damage, nicotine, heavy dust, none of which are good, and ought to be taken care of on a case by case basis.

#6- Surrounding Properties and Bad Actors

This is a very subjective a topic, yet you will know it when you see it: the slob neighbor with the pickup truck hood on your property, yeah, that guy dumping motor oil in the gutter, while wearing nothing but his dago t-shirt, red heart imprinted white boxers and cowboy boots. Him, the guy with the free-range Pitbull dogs. That guy with the garage band, yeah, him. You know, the one that parks on the lawn? But what can you do?
Lots.
Code enforcement is your friend. And that guy, he is not. He is costing you property value, and he is quite possibly costing you a good resident. Hobos tend to stay with other hobos, the way bad residents tend to live among their own.

Palm trees with lots of dead fronds hanging on his property? You do know those house rats, right?

Dead yard? Guess what that breeds? More dead yards. People behave as their neighbors do.

Overgrown yard? Not only is that dangerous, but it is an eyesore.

In other words, take a picture, and call it in! You may not live at the property, but you certainly do pay the property taxes.

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It rented, now what?

Getting you, a quality resident is what we work on for you daily, but care does not really end there. Day to day, month to month, anything can happen. Once the property is rented there is still always room for improvement, and things will need attention. Just in general maintenance plan on spending about 800 to 2200+ a year. Zillow states “Plan on spending 1% of the property value a year in maintenance.” That means a house valued at $300,000 ought to have $3,000 thrown at it a year. I think that number, just on maintenance, is a little high, however, if you include rehab costs, this is probably a good solid number to work with.
Zillow: https://www.zillow.com/blog/investing-101-estimating-rental-property-expenses-94824/

#7- Appliances

This is a late addendum. Refrigerators, washers, dryers. Don’t do them! In other words, while it may feel nice, like the right thing to, but we advise you, very strongly, to not do this.
A refrigerator, a washer, and a dryer are three independent items which will, given enough time, WILL cost you service calls. It is inevitable. You absolutely may have it in the rental agreement that, while you are supplying said items, but the resident will have to service them, when that time comes you will have a resident who feels slighted, even if they knew going in that these items would be their responsibility to fix should they break. It is renter think. “It isn’t mine, why should I go out of pocket o\n this thing that I will not be taking with me?”

You are far and away better off NOT supplying these items, trust me.

Final words: Take care of your rental property, and it will take care of you.

If you are struggling to get your property rented for top dollar and keep long-term residents, just fill out the form to the right. A dedicated member of our team will be happy to help you.

Property Management Services

Call 951-924-4315 OR

Landlord Insurance Policies: How to tell if you have the best coverage

By Steve Hembree

As a property owner, you naturally have homeowner’s insurance, however, if you have one or more rental properties, you will want to have a landlord insurance policy, also known as rental property insurance or rental dwelling insurance. Why is that? Well, bad things happen, and you’d like to have some peace of mind, and keep your stuff, right?

During my tenure with Management One, I have spoken to several owners that do not have the proper insurance in place to cover their property. The topic of insurance is near and dear to the company, and it’s something that we talk about several times a year to our current clients. It never fails that when you really need it is when you find out you don’t have the correct insurance in place.

Let’s break it down…

landlord insurance

Rental Property Insurance is Not Renter’s Insurance

Rental property insurance is Landlord Insurance, plain and simple. It covers the structure and more. Renter’s insurance is for renters only, and it protects their belongings on the property in a loss event, and in some cases, covers the renter as far a liability should they have an accident, such as burning down the property.

Landlord Insurance vs Homeowner’s insurance

When do I need Rental Property Insurance?

You ought to have landlord insurance when your property is rented out for long periods of time, such as 6 months, a year, or longer. In other words, if the home is lived in and it is not your primary residence, you should have rental property insurance, which for the sake of brevity, I will refer to as landlord insurance from this point forward.

However, when renting your dwelling out for a day, week, or month, at which point you will return, homeowner’s insurance is really all you will need.
A lot of folks rent out their homes long-term and stick only with homeowner’s insurance. This is a mistake, don’t do it!

landlord insurance

Don’t ever lie to your insurance company

An insurance company is not any different than any other business, be it an oil company, or a mom and pop convenience store. They exist to turn a profit, that is, they have money left over after paying all their expenses.
You pay a yearly cost, or premium, to the insurance company for your coverage, and at the end of the year, the insurance company expects to have more money from your policy than it paid out.

It is a business, plain and simple, never mind all the advertisements which are designed to blur the lines between a for-profit business and some entity that is looking out for you. An insurance company is not some Sugar Daddy which exists to give you money.

Having said that, do understand that all insurance companies will look for reasons to NOT pay a claim submitted to them.

landlord insurance

Honesty is the best Policy

If you are not living in the home you own, yet it states on your policy that the dwelling is owner-occupied, insurance companies potentially have legal grounds to deny your claim.

House burns down, denied.

Water damage denied.

Renter goes into eviction, months pass, lots of lost income? Denied no matter as you only have homeowner’s insurance.

Landlord insurance covers that.

landlord insurance

Landlord Insurance Policy

This sort of policy costs about 25% more than a homeowner policy but has additional coverage. These coverages make the premium cost climb, as does the fact that the home is not owner-occupied.

Most policies cover the following, but each policy and insurance company are different, so be sure to verify your coverage with your carrier!

  • Fire
  • Theft
  • Vandalism (do make sure this is covered)
  • Most weather-related events
  • Liability
  • In some cases, identity theft

Also, you will want to make sure you have Rest Loss coverage. Should you face an eviction, especially a contested eviction, you could be months with no rent coming in, and I can guarantee you the bank will quickly lose patience should you stop paying them. They will not wait around, and you could lose that house! I have seen it happen many times, both as an insurance inspector and as a valuation inspector.

landlord insurance

Back to Telling Insurance Companies the truth

Back when I did insurance inspections, one of the many tasks was trying to determine if a given dwelling was owner-occupied or not. This is much easier than you may imagine.

Most underwriters will send the owner’s information, along with any known tenant, provided that is on the record. However, many cases came in on the inspection order with the owner’s name in both fields, an indicator that the owner had a homeowner’s insurance policy only, lived there or had renters in there without letting the insurance company know this.

Figuring it out

On-site, the first determining factor was seeing how the front yard looks, then the structure itself. Renters will rarely keep the front of a house looking as good as an owner; it’s just a fact of life.

Next is traveling to the front door, ringing the bell, and/or knocking. If someone answered, I’d introduce myself and ask for the owner by name. Most of the time, if at a rental, the renter would hee and haw for a second or two, then explain that they were renting, and ask what they could help me with.

If a dwelling was suspected of being a rental (based on many observations), the suspicion would be noted for follow-up by the underwriter.

By the way, it was always very easy to spot if the person at the door was being deceptive, that is if one could read body language.

landlord insurance

Who to use for your homeowners and/or landlord insurance?

In that there are a lot of considerations here, a good many variables, such as cost, coverage, etc., I cannot tell you whom to use. However, I can tell you, via my observations, what companies I preferred doing inspections for, and why. You might be surprised. Best to worst.

  • USAA
  • Allstate
  • California Casualty
  • Travelers
  • State Farm
  • Safeco

USAA

Of the hundreds of homes I checked for USAA, maybe only 2 or 3 were in overall poor conditions. Nor did I witness very many hazards, compared to properties covered by other carriers. Only at one house did I find to be clearly inhabited by an undocumented renter. Coincidentally, this was one of very few USAA cases where I found significant problems with the home.

landlord insurance

Allstate

A close second behind USAA. Very seldom did I note problem properties. I think these two, being at the top, had something to do with having mature adults owning the properties, folks savvy at keeping their investments in good shape, but for different reasons. USAA due to the high number of the current and former military; Allstate owing to a higher number of people of means insuring with them.

Allstate also was extraordinarily concerned about exposure to overgrown brush.

California Casualty

I only did a few cases with these folks, and they were all “High Value” inspections. That means the homes were well in excess of $500,000 in value. These inspections mean also determining wood species used indoors as well as items such as cabinets, evaluating sheer walls and the like. Very detailed information asked for and returned.

Travelers

These were fairly standard inspections, and I did not get many. I do recall they had some different terminology, such as “Actionable” items rather than items which were “Major concerns.”

State Farm

These folks would rank much higher except for the fact that of all the cases I did for them (a couple hundred), they never once asked for a diagram confirming the square footage of any dwelling. “What? That so minor a thing that, that…”
I would agree with that reasoning, except for the fact that perhaps 15+% of all dwellings I inspected had unauthorized (unreported, and likely no permits pulled for) additions. In other words, the square footage seen on-site did not match the tax records.

See, if you are rebuilding a house stick by stick, brick by brick, it cannot be made whole if the insurance company has a replacement value far less than what is actually represented in the original physical structure.

Safeco

These folks must have the best prices, at least that’s my guess. It seemed that more frugal (read: penny-pinching) property owners used them for their rentals. And it seemed as if those who sought to minimize their insurance cost were far more likely to minimize their upkeep cost. When I received a Safeco case, which was far and away the most prevalent of my caseload, and it showed as renter-occupied if was a very fair bet that my day just got a lot longer.

I would find missing and torn screens. I would find broken windows, wood rot, aggressive dogs, improperly installed rain gutters, bad rooftops, overgrown yards, unfenced pools, etc.

These conditions must be documented, and that takes time.

landlord insurance

My advice?

Go with good insurance if you’re going to own a rental property. Get landlord insurance with vandalism, fire, and loss of rent as part of it. Use your insurance company when needed.

Click here to see a quick breakdown of what you should have.

What does that last mean?

A recent example is a drunk driver, uninsured, rammed another vehicle, possibly also uninsured, causing the second car to careen through the back-yard block wall of a property we manage.

The property owner was unsure as to what to do. I advised getting him in touch with his insurance carrier right away. He was reluctant to do so because he feared his rates would go up.

I asked, “what if these vehicles hit his car instead of his wall, what would you do then?” “I’d call my insurance.”

Bingo.

I told him to put his agent to work right now. After all, his fence didn’t chase the car down and hit it, and he’s been paying decades of premiums. I said, “it’s time to put them to work for him, let their legal team get on it.”

Again, insurance companies hate paying claims, so let’s first see if they can leverage the situation in the property owner’s favor by going after the drivers. And if not, there may be a claim.

landlord insurance

Another example of why you need landlord insurance

I knew this guy years ago, we’ll call him Dave, who was always on the lookout for a financial score. Dave was a renter of the worst kind. Every house he rented, he got evicted from, costing owners thousands of dollars in lost rents.

One day, his son was riding his bicycle up the cracked driveway and took a spill. The stink he made, the threats to the property owner, it was all quite overblown. I had seen the driveway, the cracks on it were what an insurance person would call a “Minor Concern.” This means that they were less than three inches in raised area, and although it may result in an insurance claim, the likely hood was low, and the award, if any, would be small. In other words, it was a minor risk. The insurance company took hold of the issue and resolved it without the huge liability claim Dave was hoping for. None-the-less, said the owner had landlord insurance.

rental property insurance

We can help

As I mentioned earlier, educating our landlords about having the proper landlord insurance in place is very important to us. Over the last 31 years, we have talked to hundreds of owners that have found themselves in a position of needing the benefits of insurance.

Unfortunately, they did not take our advice to heart and found themselves with lack of coverage or no coverage at all. So, stop what you are doing now and call your insurance agent to make sure you are protected.

We also work closely with an insurance agent that can help guide you in making sure you are fully covered and find don’t find yourself needing insurance and not having it. Additionally, we require all residents to carry renter’s insurance!

Property Management Services

Call 951-924-4315 OR

Move-In Ready Home: What Both Residents and Owners Can Expect

By Trisha

 

We have all rented an apartment or home at some point in our life, right? And we have all walked into that home or apartment with high expectations only to be let down by the “actual” condition of the property. As a leasing representative, we try to bridge the gap between the expectations of residents versus the expectations of owners on a move-in ready home.

move-in ready home

Over the years, we have been asked a mired of questions by prospective residents, example below:

Will the owner be replacing the carpet?

Appliances are outdated or old…will the owner replace?

Can the owner paint the inside and out of the home?

The cabinets look old, will the owner replace them?

Will the owner put ceiling fans in each room?

Will owner replace all of the window blinds?

Can we replace things and bill the owner?

Can we upgrade the yard with flowers and plants?

The AC is old, will owner replace?

move-in ready home

Expectations of Used Homes Versus New Homes

 

When renting a home, it is important to remember that you are renting a used home.  Think of it like buying a used car: it looks good, but all the parts still have miles on them, so they are worn but still in good shape.

Same thing applies to renting a home, the carpet might have some “miles” on it but is still in good shape, the same thing on the kitchen cabinets. Most homeowners are not willing to make the home “brand new” by adding in all new carpet (unless needed), new kitchen cabinets, etc.

Of course, most owners want residents to live in the homes and care for it as if it were their own.  Maintaining plants and flowers, taking care of the lawns, keeping the inside and outside of the home looking nice, minimal maintenance/repair requests, etc.

Ultimately, the goal of the owner is to have a happy resident who wants to continue living in the home for years to come.

move-in ready home

Lack of attention

 

Now, there are instances when an owner only wants to do the bare minimum, if that. Some owners have the mentality of “well, it’s just a rental property. I’m not living there, so why should I paint the house or replace the carpet?”

While that is true, the reality is that your “rental house” is someone’s house. And just as much as you want a new modern, beautiful home, so do those that are renting your house to be their home.

Sometimes, owners do not realize their lack of attention to the things needed to be done to the home to prepare for a new resident, will cause their house to be vacant longer and more often, have to accept lower rents, and even possibly attracting residents to rent the home that will not care or take care of the home.  They feel that the owner does not care so they should not have to.

move-in ready home

Maintenance and Repairs

 

Did you know that the national average for household repairs is approximately $1800 per year? No matter what, a home will always need some kind of repair. It’s the nature of living in a home.

Just like your car needs regular maintenance to run efficiently, so does a home. We like to advise residents to check things out when they move-in.

Turn on the dishwasher, bake a cake in the oven, pop popcorn in the microwave, make sure everything is working correctly. If not, contact your property management company or landlord direct so that at a contractor can be sent out there straight away.

 

At the time of move-in, we provide the residents with a list of items that are $50 or less that they can repair on their own and be reimbursed for? Why would we do this? Well, we are upfront in stating that things can be missed during the rehab or things stop working after we have done our final inspections. You know that light bulb in the bathroom that you just used last night, and now this morning it won’t turn on. Yes, things happen. In an effort to cut down on waiting for a contractor to come and change the light bulb you can do it yourself.

move-in ready home

Move-In Ready Home: Bridging the gap between Residents and Owners

 

So how do we bridge the gap?  Management One encourages the homeowner to do the repairs needed to bring the home up to current market standards, not creating the Taj Mahal but bringing the house into the 21 Century. All the while, not over-promising residents the condition the home will be in once the rehab work is completed. Residents, too, must remember they are renting a home and not staying in the Ritz Carlton.

An average rehab costs about $4,500. While that is a chunk of change, the good news is 40% of that amount is a tax write off.  This could include painting the cabinets in the kitchen to “spruce” them up instead of replacing them. You can reglaze the counters in the kitchen and bathrooms to bring new life without the added cost of replacing them. There are minor things that can be done during each vacancy to keep the home looking fresh and new to attract great residents.

When properties are made rent-ready correctly, a number of repairs requested by a resident after move-in should be one or two at the most. If the homeowner fails to make the property rent-ready, they run a very high risk of:

  1. Calls every day for something else to be fixed, leading to the homeowner feeling like they are being nickeled and dimed.
  2. The resident gets fed up and moves out, thus creating another vacancy.

 

At the end of the day, it is much better to spend the money in making the home nice attracting quality, long-term residents than to have constant turnover in the property. You will lose money and most likely sell the property.

 

If you are need of excellent, quality property management services or if you are looking for your next home, fill out the form on this page, and a representative will contact you back!

Property Management Services

Call 951-924-4315 OR

Best Locksmiths in Riverside County and Orange County

By Michael Varrati

 

Does this story sound familiar?

You get home late on a Friday night, looking forward to cleaning up before going to bed, eager for the weekend to start.  You try to open your front door to get in your home.  You realize that your key will not open the door.  You go back into your car to open the garage door, you then realize you gave your son the remote and he is out with his friends.  You feel a sense of panic. Wondering, how am I going to get into my home?

You don’t want to sleep in your car.  What locksmith is going to come out at midnight and let you in your house without charging me an arm and a leg?

No need to worry, I have the three best companies in Riverside County and Orange County.

Over the last 31 years, we have cultivated great relationships with a few locksmiths around town. Over the years we have issued more than 10,000 rekeys on rental properties. Every time a new resident moves into a home the locks are re-keyed for the safety of the new residents. Additionally, we have used these locksmiths for lockouts during evictions and the occasional resident that locked themselves out of the home late on a Friday night!

locksmith in Riverside County

Below is a List of our Top Picks for Locksmiths in Riverside County

 

Don’s Lock and Key

 

Don’s Lock and Key is a family owned business.  They have been servicing our company for over 11 years. Don’s Lock and Key has been in business for 20+ years and serviced over 10,000 homes, apartment complexes, and commercial properties.

Their customer service is impeccable. Our residents rave about their timeliness, follow-up, and pricing.

These are the people you should call if you need to unlock your home. Whether it be midafternoon or well past midnight, you can call Don’s Lock and Key anytime, and they will get the job done for you.

Don’s also does a lot of our Marshall’s lockouts on evictions.

And if you need further convincing, they have The Bat Mobile in their showroom?  Why? Because they’re like superheroes. But the kind who rescue you from sleeping in your car outside your home.

Visit them at: http://www.donslockandkeyinc.com/index.html

Locksmith in Riverside County

Pop A Lock

 

They are always on time to the job, give excellent customer service, and their pricing is great. They set the standard high and their timely service is like no other.

Pop A Lock has served the Riverside, California area since 2006. They recently celebrated 2 years as a preferred vendor for Management One.   They have serviced several homes, apartment complexes, commercial properties, and will respond 24 hours a day, 7 days a week including holidays. They specialize in bailing out those of us that tend to lock our keys in our car.

 

Visit them at:  http://www.callriversidelocksmith.com

locksmith in Riverside County

Absolute Locksmith

 

Absolute Locksmith Services is family owned and operated since 1985, they have been providing their customers with the highest quality security products at competitive prices, along with fast friendly service. Absolute Locksmith has a diverse client base, ranging from a variety of corporate accounts to dozens of property managements companies. They take great pride in their flexibility and being able to service their clients with all their specialized needs.

They have serviced several homes, apartment complexes and commercial properties and will respond 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and holidays.  They have a 15-minute response to get in touch with you.  If that isn’t quick service, what is?!

 

Visit them at: http://theorangecountylocksmith.com/index.html.

Locksmith in Riverside County

What Makes a Preferred Vendor

 

Extension of our team

 

Our contractors are an extension of our team. They are our eyes and ears in the field every day. They are entering homes with families in them and we need to trust that they will treat everyone with respect. In addition, they must provide on-time service, competitive pricing and be licensed, bonded and insured. We take the time to verify every contractor, put them through a probationary period, follow-up on every service call, and more.

Customer Service

 

We conduct surveys on every work order that is issued from our office. We want to make sure that all work is completed and done correctly. The surveys are monitored by management and corporate to make sure all concerns are addressed. We take vendors and maintenance very seriously.

Pricing

 

Our cost for labor and parts is on a pre-set price list for our vendors. This helps you as an owner knowing you are getting a fair price and you will not get ripped off.  We review our price list yearly to keep it completive with the market.  We research online, go into to Home Depot and Lowes.

 

Timely Service

 

All 3 vendors are at the top of the field.  With their timely response and taking care of their clients, I wouldn’t contact another company.  These companies have over 50+ years between them.  All 3 vendors also are available 365/7days a week including holidays.

 

After years of working with contractors, we have pretty high standards for our contractors to follow. Rest assured if they are on our preferred vendor list, they must be a TOP NOTCH company.

Property Management Services

Call 951-924-4315 OR

Landscaping Your Rental Property Yard: Why it’s Important

By Steve Hembree

Okay, landscaping your rental property’s yard is a topic that may make you cringe, and possibly make you feel like you are dying a little if you own a rental property.

By all means, stay calm and come along on a short journey with us. We’ll explain it all and make this topic sensible for you, after all, everything is simple if you break it down into small chunks. Also, bear in mind, this topic is more important than you may think.

First, why is Landscaping a Rental Property Important?

Having been in this field for over three decades, Management One has seen it all, quite literally.

Recently a few of us were in the office mulling over a question that was bothering us. Okay, it was bothering me in particular. “Why do properties that sit on the market longer than we like, longer than we normally see, tend to get renters who are, well, challenges?”

By challenges, I mean…

landscaping rental property

Those Items Which Neither You, Nor We, Like.

Evictions, breaking leases, excessive maintenance, things like that. It does happen in the real world, all the time; however, we have a system in place that ought to catch these challenges in advance, yet sometimes they do get through. Again, in the real world, it happens.

I’ll use a recent example as a scenario: Renter gets in, six months down the line they stop paying their rent. Maybe they simply move out without notice. Or, maybe they slide extra folks in after they move in, which, of course, then leads to contention and stress.

So here you are, six months of doing another rehab on a property that ought to have been occupied for a year, two, maybe five years. You dislike that, as do we. But what conditions create this phenomenon?

Back to the office discussion

Our dedicated team is always working on ways to improve the homeowner’s experience, as well as that of the renter. If you were a fly on the wall, you would be surprised at the dedication and amount of time utilized for this.

Having said that, the One Question that was bothering me, in particular, was the lack of longevity with some renters; this being conjoined with why some properties tend to rent slower than others. Add to these the question of why the failure rate on these is higher, and you have the big picture we were looking at.

We put our heads together and could not come up with anything concrete. “It Is What It Is” was not enough.

Everyone qualifies the same. Income, credit, references, all of them check out. So Why?

landscaping rental property

Our Fearless Leaders

Among property management companies, we’re quite fortunate as our founders have been in the business an incredibly long time. Sure, I know they will read this, hence the shout out; however, there is a larger purpose to this: They Know Stuff.

I brought this topic up with our CEO, and he stated, “Well, of course a property with an icky yard will draw an icky resident. Why wouldn’t it?”

What he meant is that yes, a yard in poor condition will certainly draw the type of individual that maybe really isn’t all that into taking care of things, be it their own stuff, or another person’s stuff. This also applies to sub-par property rehabs. A poorly prepared property will potentially draw a poorer quality resident, and when not a poor-quality resident, how long until that good resident goes bad?

Re: a properly prepared property read this article “How to Get a Home Move-In Ready: DIY vs Contractor vs Property Management”

Bear in mind, I do not mean “bad resident” meaning they are a bad person, not at all, what I mean is that they do not necessarily conform to standards that are conducive to keeping a property occupied, and in good condition.

Some people care for rental properties as if it were their own, others have “apartment mentality.” If an item is outside the walls they inhabit, it is not their problem. That is a challenge. Landscaping your rental is way low on their list of priorities.

landscaping rental property

Starting Right – Landscaping Your Rental Property Yard

So, here we’re traveling to just the front and rear yards. A rental rehab within is a given, and ought to be done right and complete each and every time; however yards tend to get neglected, sometimes since the house was built! I have done this. My rear patio slab is pretty much my back yard, aside from the lawn and garden.

Landscaping Materials You’ll Need

First, let’s get the front yard out of the way. The least expensive installation for a front yard is grass. The clear majority of our owners use this in the front and the rear of the house. In all, the options are many, such as:

  • Grass
  • Decomposed granite
  • Bark of various colors
  • Rock
  • Astro-turf (Just don’t.)
  • Various combinations of schemes above, along with plants, trees, shrubs.

Grass we have already covered, so decomposed granite, what can it do for you? How about this?

Decomposed granite can be used in combination with grass and plants to make an easy0care yard, front, or rear.

Bark and Rock Combo with Plants

Low maintenance and warmth come with a bark and rock combination.

We’ll just skip AstroTurf because, yeah, no.

The bottom line is creating a front yard that adds curb appeal and making a backyard that useful and attractive. Low maintenance is a bonus.

landscape rental property

How much of which landscaping your rental property?

I’m please you asked. Generally, we find a mix of 65% rockscape to 35% grass. The rockscape is cost effective as well as minimal maintenance.

“Why not make a yard all rock?” Not all ideas need to get carried away. This will give you a cold, forbidding yard, simple as that. Having some grass will give the yard some color, some warmth.
Here is a great example, even if it is AstroTurf:

How much does it cost to creatively landscape your rental property?

When it comes to landscaping your rental property, all yards are different, so there’s that. You may have even gone online to some of those calculator websites, just as I did. One came back to me at around $29.9k, which is, like, no. I hopped out of that site and did more digging.
Let’s assume we’re discussing a property with a 1500 square foot backyard, which in my region is fairly common, minus one of the side yards, that is. My reasoning here is usually one side yard, like mine, is a walking path for entering the backyard. Plus, it breaks down by 500 square foot increments.

landscaping rental property

The next assumption…

The next assumption is that we’re not going to go crazy. No water features. No pool grotto. No extensive brickwork. No concrete poured.
We will have flex borders for the rock in an interesting design, and we will add some low water plants, such as succulents, to the rock areas, perhaps with drip irrigation.

The grass areas will have sprinklers, so we will likely have to install or update a sprinkler system for the drippers, and the grass sprinklers.

We will use professional installation.

Rock ought to come in at $975. For border, drippers, drippers valves, time and labor, add $500.

Add a few succulents, $200 max.

Grass is pretty much dirt cheap. Don’t use sod. It is quick and easy, but it costs a lot! Seed and cover the grass area, with Fescue and manure for $100.

Reworking the sprinkler system, figure $800 max.

So about $2500 for a 1500 square foot rear yard.

You’ll call that a bargain if it keeps your resident in the home an extra two years!

Here are some useful resources for your further reading:

Commercial offices with high quality landscapes achieve 7% higher rental rates. In addition, consumers would be willing to pay, on average, a 12% premium for goods purchased in retail establishments that are accompanied by quality landscaping.

Landscape businesses are showing an annual growth of 2.1% yearly for the next 5 years”.

2014 was the first year that saw an eclipse of the $69 billion dollars spent in 2007, with $73 billion dollars spent on landscaping. Current expectations are a 6% jump.”

Sales growth is up 12%, profitability is up 50%

landscaping rental property

The answer to the question…

It would seem that our fearless leader, Ron Sudman, was correct, “a property with an icky yard will draw an icky resident.”

That’s what three decades in property management will teach you! Seriously, though, put yourself in the resident’s shoes: if you drove up to a property and saw a dirt yard with overgrown weeds, are you even going to put the car in park let alone get out of the car? The answer is “no,” you would just drive on by and never give it a second thought.

Another way to think about it is this: you go down to the local Tesla dealership, and you want to look at the latest and greatest model. The salesman tells you they have one on the lot and “boy, it’s a looker on the inside.” As you approach the vehicle, you are thinking to yourself, “seriously, this can’t be the car.”

Sitting before you is a car covered in mud from top to bottom. The salesman is trying his hardest to convince you to get inside the car; you will LOVE it once you step inside and just take it for a test drive.

There is no way you are going to get in that car, who knows if the only thing holding it together is the dried mud!

You say, “no thanks” and move on. This is exactly what happens when residents drive up and see an unkept or un-landscaped yard. They truly judge the book by its cover!

If you enjoyed the information in this article, check out a few other related articles.

Related Articles:

Rental Property Yard Care: Types, Responsibilities, & Best Practices

 

Top 3 Landscaping Companies in Riverside County, CA (Reviews/Ratings)

 

If you LOVED the information in this article and would like more information on Management One and our management services, fill out the form on this page and a member of our Business Development team will be in touch within 24 business hours.

Property Management Services

Call 951-924-4315 OR

11 Best Practices for Purchasing an Income Property: Great Deals vs Money pits

By Steve Hembree

So, you’re looking for an income property, maybe your first rental, or adding to your holdings.

Good for you!

Not only can you make a monthly income on a rental, but you will also find, particularly right now, that the market is very much your friend.

While you’re off living life, doing your thing, your rental income property is also out there doing its thing: accruing value.

income property

The property market fluctuates

As you are aware, it isn’t 2008/2009 anymore. The market isn’t bottoming out, and great deals are much harder to find, now versus then.

However, that is not an entirely fair statement. In 2008/9 it was sort of like being an early gold rush prospector in 1849 at Sutter’s Mill, where just walking down the street one could almost pick up chunks of gold at random. And like gold, now one must work harder to find the deal, the rich vein, but they are most certainly out there.

Your goal ought to be not buying a lemon, a house that will sink you as fast as you can say, “money pit.”

How to avoid bad deals on income properties

Remember the old saying? If common sense is so common, why do so few people possess it? Well, common sense is your first defense.
I used to think about this quite a bit back when I performed broker and insurance inspections: How can a house, any house regardless of age, be left to deteriorate so very badly? And what does this do to the overall value?

income property

Rule #1- Follow the Rule of Cars

If a house looks like a pile of junk, it is a pile of junk. Why would you by a 1963 VW Beetle rust bucket? You wouldn’t unless it’s a steal, and you know, going in, exactly what the problems are, the cost to fix, and what your risk tolerance is.

How much are you willing to put into it to make it nice again? If that amount is not enough to take it completely out of the “junk” column, move on. There are other deals.

Also, never, EVER waive the home inspection.

income property

Rule #2- Check the plumbing

Does the home have galvanized pipes?

See this article:
Galvanized Pipes in Homes

Depending on the age of the home, you may be in danger of water leaks due to galvanized pipes. If the home has 40-year-old pipes, maybe you’re looking at a flip rather than a rental if you cannot tolerate the cost of re-piping.

Hey, it’s still an income property.

Galvanized Pipes

Rule #3- Check the roof

Worn out roof? Or a shake/wood shingle roof?

Yikes! This can be a very expensive fix, and “half-waying” it really is a poor way to go. Sure, with asphalt, you can have 2, even 3 layers of roofing, saving you money, but in the long run, you’re penny-wise and pound foolish.

An additional layer of roofing atop an existing one is a band-aid at best and will wear faster. On a shake and wood shingle roof, replacing it is almost always the best answer, and know you are going to spend a lot to replace it.

deferred maintenance

Rule #4- Check the Neighborhood Out

Does it have nightmare neighbors?

Visit the potential income property in the early morning, mid-day, and at night, and I suggest several visits, weekdays and weekends.

I was lucky enough, years ago, to visit a house I really wanted only to find that on every Friday night the neighbor across the street had his buddies over for garage band practice. Had they been good, rather than just loud, maybe it wouldn’t have been a deal breaker. But they were pretty bad. That and the right-side neighbor’s aggressive pit bull killed that deal. I realized I would either need a block between the properties or would have to commit to replacing the wood fence section regularly.
Your renter will likely have the same issues, and you will be paying for the fence and will suffer from the depressed market due to the bad neighbors.

income property

Rule#5- Check out the curb appeal

What to look for outside? What sort of landscaping does it have? How’s the first impression?

This is maybe the easiest fix of all, but what you will see, other will see too. If the biggest problem with the property is a dead yard, hallelujah! That is an easy fix: seed and cover, and water the heck out of it, and boom, instant curb appeal.

Run the sprinklers; are there major issues there? If so, you will almost never run over $700 to straighten out a front yard. Remember, your first impression will be everybody’s first impression, or worse.
Palm trees need trimming. Just do it! That is an easy fix too!
Consider desertscape, it looks good, requires little care, but can be pricey.

Generally speaking though, a grass yard will give your property the needed warmth, adding curb appeal, and at a lower cost than just about any other groundcover.
Trim the shrubs, or remove them if they block the view of a front door.

Siding makes a big difference

“Siding? You mean, like, wood?”

Nope, I mean whatever covers the sides of the house. This is the second most important part of your investment’s envelope, that which protects the interior from the elements. The first is the roof.
With stucco, small seismic cracks are not a big deal; however, chunks missing is. Look at it all!

Another thing that people never look for is sagging siding, be it wood, stucco, whatever. It can be hard to see, but sagging will almost always occur at the bottoms of exterior walls. Sagging stucco, which sort of looks like a full diaper, (that their wall is carrying a load!) doesn’t happen a lot, but if your potential income property has it, you probably have had an interior wall leak that was not addressed. The insulation has been saturated and settled at the bottom within the wall. You will have to address this, and it’s going to be fairly expensive, with opening the wall, re-stuccoing, paint, etc.

 

Wood rot on siding? Even if you have Masonite type siding, you can have rot. Call it wood rot, weather rot, whatever, it will need addressing, and while it can be addressed in a cost-effective manner, it is still going to cost you money. Be aware that there are styles of Masonite that you just cannot get any more. In that case, think outside the box. Sometimes a creative fix can work wonders; more on that later.

House Color

What is your first impression when pulling up to the property? As I said above, that same emotion will be echoed by everyone who comes to see the house.
First, make sure that you are not hindered by HOA rules regarding colors, and if so, find out what those color rules entail.

Is the house blue or green? Plan on losing that paint! Blue, in particular, is liked by only about 5% of the population as a house color. Beige/brown is far and away more popular! This will help you when renting or flipping. Plan on spending about $1 a square foot of the house (and attached garage) into your rehab budget.

income property

Rule#6- Check out the walkways

Uneven walkways – Uneven walking surfaces

What? That’s a thing? Uneven walking surfaces? Yes, yes it is. This is a concern to you in two ways: Do you like getting sued because somebody fell? I didn’t think so.

But wait, there’s more.

Your insurance company knows this, and your premiums will rise.
The nomenclature of this item is:

  • Minor concern
  • Major concern (or Actionable)

Minor concern

A minor concern is concrete lifted less than 3 inches, (or an uneven walking surface of any kind, such as improperly installed pavers, uneven slabs) which can result in a trip and fall but is not so likely.

It is in the same risk category as having a fire pit in the backyard or missing a window screen. This usually also covers patio straps left behind from a past patio cover. These covers are usually removed because there was no permit pulled for them, but sometimes when pouring a rear patio slab the owner will have the foresight to have the straps put in then. This is detrimental when the posts are never installed, and someone trips and takes an eye out. You know, three straps can be cut and ground for about $150, isn’t that a small price to pay rather than losing everything you own?

Major concern

A major concern is concrete lifted greater than 3 inches, and is likely to result in a fall which will generate an injury, and/or a lawsuit. This is in the same risk category as one having a vicious pit bull in the backyard, or having an unfenced pool, or having 50-year-old galvanized piping, as viewed by an insurance underwriter.

One other thing I have seen in the past is the random pipe sticking out of the ground for no good reason. You can see it, you can avoid it, after all, at just a few inches in heath, it is visible, right? Not at night. It’s all fun and games until someone loses an eye. Yep, I’m back to the eye thing.

income property

Rule#7- Check the water heater

How old is the water heater?

If it’s older than 10 years, just replace it. Simple enough. “Maybe I can coax another 5 years out of it.” No, replace it and be done with it, you’ll be 10 years worry free.

income property

Rule#8- Check the electrical panel

Is it old? Are the breakers cracked?

“Why would I do that?”

Well, regardless of an income property or your own personal dwelling, you may have a serious issue there.

Federal Republic Electric (FRE) Stablock panels are infamous for being fire hazards. Short story, they don’t always properly kick off when the amperage rating is exceeded. This causes resistance in the home’s wire, which creates heat, which causes fires. Plan to replace this, and know you’re looking at a cost of about $3500 or more.
Another no-no panel has many names because they were bought out several times. Zinsco, Sylvania Zinsco, and GTE-Sylvania Zinsco are the trade names, and they have the same flaws as the FRE Stablock. Another downside to these is, you think you have the power off, start doing some work only to be electrocuted.

Final words on this: You may be surprised at how often I have opened an electrical panel to inspect it and found no backplate, or large gaps between the breakers. This is a huge hazard. Imagine this, little Billy comes along, sees these cool shiny copper wires, and touches them. No more little Billy.

income property

Rule#9- Look long and hard at the kitchen

Ugh, the kitchen is abominable

Ah, now we’re into the meat of the house, so to speak. The kitchen is vital when selling a house, often it’s what makes or breaks a sale. This can be to your advantage in negotiations; however, you will probably want to address it.

There is an upside here. A $20k renovation of a kitchen can increase the home’s value by $25 to $30k. Now the question is, how is the rest of the house and how is the rest of the renovation cost looking? There are a good many things you can do to spruce up a kitchen.

New stainless-steel appliances can make a big difference, at a cost of $2,000 or less.

If the counters are ugly, you can replace them, but if the cabinets are also ugly, do not put $2,000 worth of granite on those ugly old cabinets! You are defeating the purpose! You are far better off doing both; however, there are cost-effective solutions we utilize that take a kitchen from “ick” to “yessss.” Like..

Faux granite glaze

Say you have an 80’s era wood butcher block laminate counter. Nothing quite says “ick” than that. We have a method of transforming this material for about $650, and it looks so good, and so far, it’s proven to be pretty durable. On an income property (as in this case) simply spruce up the old cabinets, maybe paint or stain in and out, and use the granite glaze on the countertops. Below are actual photos, before and after.

Oh, and stainless steel sinks are WAY better for your property than porcelain. Porcelain will chip and wear, but stainless steel is nearly forever, and costs between about $250 and $400 installed, depending on whether or not tile work is needed.

Flooring

How’s that flooring look? Torn up, stained, burned ? That’s not doing you any favors. If buying a distressed property, it is a sure-fire bet that if there is carpet, it needs replacing. You can view this expense as a downer or an opportunity. I recommend the latter.
However, carpet may not be the best way to go this time. Depending on your finances and level of forward thinking, you may mind a good laminate or tile, or mix, is a better way to go.

A decent carpet with padding and the old stuff removed and hauled away, you ought to pay just over $16 a yard, or for comparison purposes, $1.80 a square foot.

For tile or laminate, expect about 3.2 times more. What do you get for that 3.2 times more? If renting out your income property (you know, for income) you stand a better chance of landing a good resident on your income property, one who will care for the home. If flipping, you stand a far better chance of selling it quickly and at the best price, depending on the entirety of the rehab.

property management vendors

Paint

What to look for inside:

  • Poor patches and gouges
  • Inconsistent texturing on the drywall
  • Walls that are not straight and true

Poor patches and gouges partly have to do with your rehab expenses. You will need to have them redone, properly. Patching and texturing one large gouge can easily cost you $50, smaller ones $25 each.

Patches can also indicate plumbing issues addressed in the past. But were they repaired, right? And was water damage, such as the “M” word, addressed? Your home inspector, and possibly the seller, can help a lot on this.

Keep in mind this is an income property, so don’t go crazy on paint! For a rental, multiple wacky colors are unnecessary. Accent walls are not necessary. Keep it simple, and neutral, and use semi-gloss paint, which will make the walls washable.

Flat paint: completely forget it exists, except for ceilings. If flipping a property, then yes, you may go wild, but still, keep it neutral.

property management vendors

Rule#10- Inspect the interior footprint

Interior changes

Does your income property flow? Maybe removing a wall will help if it does not. Maybe a cutout in a wall makes it flow. Don’t fear thinking outside the box, it’s fun there, I promise!

The light fixtures: are they holdovers from the big-haired rock band days? Replacement fixtures in halls, baths, and kitchens are not as expensive as you may think. Expect under $100 each.

Do the toilets flush properly? Are the tubs and sinks attractive? How about the fixtures in the baths and kitchen? These cost so little and bring great value back to you.

income property

Rule#11- Know your costs

Realtor Costs

This is largely overlooked, and if you’re buying, it’s not so relevant. But if you’re selling, it can equate to a fair chunk of change. You can hire one of those Help U Sell firms, which will cost you about 3% or so, but you will be doing most of the work yourself. You can hire a realtor and pay 5% to 6%, again, a good chunk of change. Or we at Management One can recommend a realtor who will save you quite a bit, still, give you A+ service, and has a cadre of investors always looking for buys.

income property

At the end of the day

Nothing in this world is worth any more than one is willing to pay for it. Bear this in mind throughout, but with the goal of maximizing your earnings. Before you buy your rental property, see how much it will rent for to maximize your return on your investment. We are happy to provide a FREE Rental Analysis to you whether you use our services or not.

Property Management Services

Call 951-924-4315 OR

How to Get a Home Move-In Ready: DIY vs Contractor vs Property Management

By Steve Hembree

Do you have a rental property that you want to have move-in ready for your next renter? Or maybe you’re moving into a recently purchased house? Perhaps you’re selling a house, and you want it move-in ready. Anyway you slice it, there’s work to be done, and it best be done quickly, and done right, the first time.

Do you attempt a DIY (Do It Yourself) project, or hire a contractor? If you’re with a quality property management company, they may have contractors, as Management One does, who can do the rehab for you, and have the property move in ready quickly. Let’s look at the known aspects of this, as well as the not so well-known aspects.

A companion piece can also be found here:
http://www.managementone.com/news/diy-home-repairs-vs-property-management-vendors

homes for rent

What is a move-in ready home?

What does that mean? I have seen over time so many examples of what people think it means to have a house move-in ready, and it is almost never the same thing from one case to another. There are similarities between one home (and the eyes that check it over) and the next, however, the concept and expectations of the phrase “ready to move into” varies. In short, one person’s “sparkling clean” is rarely the next person’s version.

Yes, the floors are usually pretty clean, at first glance, but once you start really looking, into the corners, or at the grout, the baseboards, that’s where the differences start.

The appliances are usually pretty clean but lift the stove top deck to access the stove’s under-burner area, and there is a strong likelihood that you will find crud here.

A house which is move-in ready means…

  • Everything is clean.
  • Everything works.
  • Anything that needs paint has been painted.
  • Items that need replacing have been replaced.
  • The house can now be somebody’s home.

It does not mean…

  • Just wiping down walls that need paint because paint is expensive. Do you know what is expensive? A short-term resident is expensive. A dis-satisfied renter is expensive.
    Bear in mind that once a renter begins picking apart a rehabbed home, they won’t stop, and every minor thing will become a major thing, if only in their minds.
  • Disregarding that stove that leaks gas, because, you know, it hasn’t exploded yet, so why spend money on a stove, that’s expensive. NO, being sued into oblivion is expensive.
  • Leaving behind a filthy carpet, perhaps with holes in it because, you know, that’s expensive. No, having a home sit on the market for too long, now that is expensive. What is too long? 14 days from vacant borders on too long and a month ought to have a property owner nearly hyperventilating.
home for rent

I have been there

When my mother passed away, I had to rehab her house. This was not as a rental (although I did consider it) but for sale. The broker I hired told me time and again, hire someone to do the work. “It will cost money, but the work will be done right, and it will be done quickly.” He had me (shaking my head) at “Cost Money.”

I did the rehab myself, all the painting, repairs, everything except replacing carpet. It took me two months to get the work done. It took longer than that to sell the house. If this were a rental rehab, I would have cost the estate maybe two months of rent, and then some.

home for rent

Looking at the real cost of having a rental house move-in ready

Let’s take an average house size of 1700 square feet.

Flooring

There be a kitchen, about 200 square feet, and probably two bathrooms, maybe 150 square feet between them, that’s 350 square feet of hard flooring. By the way, if you put carpet in any bathroom, you’re doing yourself a disservice. One toilet overflow and you have a potential for mold growth, not to mention a foul-smelling area, and guaranteed expenses replacing it in the future.

Hard Flooring

Hard flooring can be vinyl or tile, be it ceramic or porcelain, all of which minimizes the potential for water damage. Have you ever laid any of these? If not, hire a pro. And never, ever lay one floor over another, such as new vinyl over old, or tile over vinyl. Take the time and expense to do it right!

Expect a total cost of vinyl flooring @350 square feet to come in at about $18 a square yard, or $700 in vinyl. Expect the cost to be between $5 and $6 a square foot in tile or roughly just under three times the cost of vinyl. What do you get for that three times cost? A floor that will last, and look good for many years longer than any other.

Carpeting and Hybrid

Leftover is the carpet if that is your choice of floor covering. If it can be cleaned, you’re looking at a cost of about $50 a room. If a DIY project, good luck with that. Renting a Rug Doctor machine will set you back about $30 a day, and depending on how much work is involved, you could easily be two days going over, and over, the flooring. What is your time worth to you?
Oh, and the professionals, do they arrive bearing Rug Doctors? No, they don’t.

However, to replace the carpet, expect a cost of about $1.80 to $3.00 a square foot or more, installed. That’s $16.20 to $27 per yard. The remaining 1350 square feet of this 1700 sq ft house will cost at least $2424, with removal, new padding, new carpet, and installation. Or you could change things up, keep the carpet in the bedrooms, and install laminate everywhere else but the baths and kitchen. That whole water thing again.

A 1700 sq ft house is likely a three bedroom so you can take about 488 square feet and carpet that for a little over $875. That leaves you 862 square feet to put laminate into. That is just under $5000 with the removal of the old flooring, and professional installation of an excellent quality (12mm) laminate flooring. Sure, you could buy cheaper laminate, but it will probably cost you more in the long run.

Paint

A lot of people think they are good painters. They aren’t. I have even seen “professionals” goof up paint. It actually is harder than it looks. And have you priced paint? I remember when it was dirt cheap, but these days a gallon of semi-gloss can set you back $22 to $32 a gallon, and more.

Now you need the rollers, the brushes, the tarps, the painter’s tape, etc. Add this cost, then decide if you’re a good enough painter to justify the cost.

Odds are you’re like me, good enough that I’m pleased with the work, but never want to do that again. So once again, I ask, what is your time worth?

A skilled professional will charge you under $30 a wall, that’s time and materials. That 1700 sq ft house? Expect a professional to charge you less than $1350 to completely paint it, minus cabinets and ceilings.

home for rent

Bric-a-brac

The lesser items, the miscellaneous stuff.

  • Door stoppers
  • Closet rollers
  • Floor guides
  • Re-screening screens or replacing them
  • Toilet wax rings and flanges, re-building commodes.
  • Stripping caulk and re-caulking kitchens and bathrooms.
  • Properly installing towel bars.
  • Replacing light bulbs.

What is your plan for this? I do recommend planning this out to the letter, and crossing the items off your list as you go. Otherwise, it is guaranteed you’ll forget things. Did you know there are more than 3,000 items that make up a home?

Cleaning

Cleaning is the single largest tripping point, and the single most often cited item in preventing a rental from being move-in ready. As I said above, one person’s sparkling clean is another person’s “it’s okay,” or even, “are you kidding me?”, as in, not clean. In other words, it’s all relative.

That 1700 square foot house? Plan to spend about $500 to have it professionally cleaned. That does not in any way absolve you from having to check the cleaning, far from it. If the cleaning isn’t right, and complete, it isn’t move-in ready.

cleaning home for rent

Here I need to tell you a couple stories.

Renter moved out, left the keys with a nationally franchised cleaning service that rhymes with Golly Shades. The renter left it all up to them for an average clean, it was pretty good, but was the home as clean as when the renter moved in? No, it wasn’t. The cleaning service had one definition of clean, but that was not a deep cleaning. Light bulbs and fixtures were dirty. Bath ceiling vent fans were dirty. Window runs were dirty. the renter did not follow up, and the cleaners did what they would basically do on their weekly service.
Cleaners rarely look up. Ours do, because we do.

Story 2

My daughter moved into a really nice rental house. The owner lives in Hawaii, and makes a deal with each successive renter: “Clean the house when you move out.” She called me up and asked me to come over to look for any obvious problems. I found just a couple bulbs out, while the cleaning seemed pretty good. At first. The deeper I got into the house from the front door, the worse the cleaning got. Entry, great, living/dining, really good, kitchen, okay, hall, okay, bedrooms 1, 2, and 3, meh, bath 1, nope. Bath 2, really? Obviously, the prior folks ran out of steam, or time, or both.

Blinds, have you ever cleaned a whole house full to perfect? Windows, screens, have you ever cleaned those to perfectly clean? Even at your everyday house, it is a lot of work.

cleaning home for rent

Wrapping it up…

Unless you’re a contractor who has done rehabs, and/or have a crew you can bring in, you just may find the prospect of doing a DIY rehab overwhelming. Getting a house move-in ready is a large challenge, and way more often than not I find DIY’ers struggling.

Example:
An average rehab is done by a professional in about 5 to 10 days. A DIY rehab often takes over a month, and I have seen two-month long rehabs happen. That’s lost rents, lost opportunities to rent, and often the work will not be done very well. This leaves the new renter dubious about the quality of the rental, and for good reason: if the details were not attended to, the trivial things, what of the important things?

Most property management companies have rehab folks who do a bang-up job. At Management One, we work hard to hire great contractors, committed to fixed pricing, get jobs done timely, and correctly. If you don’t want the headache of completing a rehab of your rental property then call us today.

Property Management Services

Call 951-924-4315 OR

Top 3 Landscaping Companies in Riverside County, CA (Reviews/Ratings)

By Michael Varrati

 

To provide a landscaper or not to provide, that is the question! This is a question that I have been asked hundreds of times by landlords just like you over the last 10 years of being in property management.

Landscaping can be a nightmare to a lot of people. Most people don’t know when to fertilize, what fertilizer to use, how much water the yard needs, just to name a few… I for one love to take care of my lawn, but it can be overwhelming.  Why not leave that up to the professionals?  One less thing to worry about.

When you go on a vacation for a week or two, you will have no worries that your lawn is taken care of.  The same idea applies to owning a rental property. After 31 years in property management and conducting thousands of monthly exterior inspections, we have seen most residents don’t really know the ends and outs of maintaining a yard. They don’t know when to fertilize, what fertilizer to use, how much water is needed and believe it or not, most don’t know how to program sprinkler timers.

landscaping companies

Should you hire a landscaping company for your rental property?

Our best answer is, it really is up to you.

You must weigh out the pros and cons of providing a landscaper. Some residents LOVE taking care of the yard and will ask to take care of the yard even if a landscaper is provided, while others loathe yard work and would gladly pay a bit more in rent to ensure someone else maintains the yard.

Below I have laid out some positives and negatives that we have found over the years.

Positives of providing a landscaper:

  • Slightly more in rent. Residents are willing to pay a little more for them to not have the stress of taking care of the lawn.
  • You can be at ease knowing your lawn is taken care of by a professional, not your resident.
  • Most landscapers will fertilize twice a year, keeping the curb appeal up on your home.
  • Provides an extra set of “eyes” on the property, typically on a weekly basis. They will notify the property management company if there is an issue at the home.
  • It might reach out to different type a resident. The resident can think, “wow, this owner really cares about his home and will keep up on the maintenance of the home.”
  • If the resident is happy, you may get a long-term resident for your home.
landscaping companies

Problems from not providing a landscaper:

  • We find from experience that there are a lot of residents that don’t take care of the lawn like they should. This leads to violations to the resident, and they get upset because of the fines that they may get.
  • Bushes are trimmed incorrectly or not all. Plants are not fertilized or maintained as most residents don’t know how to take care of them.
  • Sprinkler timers are not adjusted with the seasons thus the yard is either overwatered or underwatered.
landscape

Over the last 31 years, we have worked with many different gardening and landscaping companies.  They are sometimes a diamond in the rough. Anybody can purchase a lawnmower, weed eater, and a couple of bags of fertilizer and call themselves a gardener, heck little Timmy down the street does it! However, finding someone that really knows about landscaping from what types of fertilizer works best when, to feed your roses bushes the right food, to when is the perfect time to trim that overgrown tree in the front yard can be a little tricky.

We developed a checklist when hiring contractors including landscapers. We personally drive by the properties serviced by these landscapers, we even call the homeowners during a reference check. This has proven the best way to “weed” out the good from the bad.

landscaping

Below is a List of our Top Picks for Landscaping Companies in Inland Empire.

 

Zornes Landscaping:

 

Sean Zornes is a one-man band and has been one of our gardeners for about eight years.  He does a fabulous job on his lawns.  Sean is accountable for all the work he does, and  he takes pride in the work he does.  Zornes landscaping has turned a lawn from nothing to a lawn that looks like it ought to be out on a golf course.

If you want timely service and a plush lawn, Sean is your guy.  I’ have experience working with Sean since he has been with us; and every time I call him, he has no complaints and does what he says he is going to do.

He takes care of one of our commercial properties.  The owner of the complex wanted a lot of work done.  I called Sean, he met me the next day, we went over the plans, and it was done two days later.  It was a big job to go for two days, but he did a fabulous job.

Sean currently doesn’t have a website, but here is the link to Yelp to see all of his business’ reviews https://www.yelp.com/biz/zornes-landscape-maintenance-riverside.

,landscaper
landscpaing

Associated Landscape

Dan Simmons is the owner of Associated Landscape.  He has a couple of different teams that he sends out into the field.   I have the pleasure of working with Dan for about three years.  He covers our Corona and Riverside areas.  Dan is another gardener that does a remarkable job.   Associated Landscape gives great timely service.   They really care and put a lot of pride into their work.  They feel that is an image or a branding of their company.  That is what we look for in our vendors.  We want them to be accountable for the work they do.  It is an image of us as a management company.  We are currently trying to expand the route for Dan and Associated Landscape.  At this current time, they don’t have a website.  But vendors like this are hard to find. I am glad Dan is a part of our team.

landscaping companies
landscaping companies

DLT Landscape

DLT Landscape is owned and operated by Jaime DeLaTorre and his family. Jamie and his team have been in business for nearly thirty years in the Inland Empire. He has serviced Management One’s properties for fifteen years. Jamie and his team handle everything from tree trimming to designing the backyard of your dreams without breaking the bank account.

Jamie’s is a wealth of knowledge when it comes to keeping your lawn green year around to making sure your rose bushes look amazing at all times.

landscaping
landscaping

Weeding out the good and the bad

Over the years we have experienced the good and the bad when it comes to landscaping companies. Some companies really don’t know what it takes to make lawns look great. While others are at the top of the class when it comes to landscaping knowledge. Here at Management One, we take pride in hiring top-notch contractors knowing that they are an extension of our company. The contractors featured in this article have longevity with our company and take pride in their workmanship. They have proven their knowledge in taking care landscaping and providing great customer service.

 

So, if you are looking to rent out your home or just need a reference for a great landscaping company, call us Today!

Property Management Services

Call 951-924-4315 OR

Why Does Rent Go Up? 7 Things You Should Know about Rent Increase

By Steve Hembree

Over the years I have spoken with so many people who own rentals, and so many people who rent homes, and the possibility of rent increases is always on both sets minds, for several reasons. So, let’s look into this topic, one that ought to be fairly straightforward, but for whatever reason is not.

rent increases

Don’t Fix Anything – I’m Afraid of Rent Increases

Well, I have some bad news for you, regardless of whether things are repaired or not, your rent is probably going to go up no matter. If the owner likes to eat and pay their bills, such as the property mortgage, or if there is a good property management company working for the owner, rental rates and subsequent rent increases will be governed more by market forces than any other single thing.

rental increase

There Is No Grand Design

Owners and property managers do not sit around and plot, “Oh, let’s get some more money out of this guy because we can and we are greedy.” It does not work like that. Most enjoy having a good resident who pays on time and does not have a gazillion maintenance requests but often the over-riding factor is supply and demand. 10,000 people, 9,000 units, the price goes up.

What is at play in the background is the fact the housing is a finite commodity, and when the demand is higher than the supply, rates rise.

Not fixing things simply means that you’re paying more rent AND have items that do not work.

Here is an example from another post I wrote:
“Insurance case a few years back, exterior only, Banning, <1000 square foot rental house, near a rural area, the house is approximately 55 years old. 
 The resident tells me he has lived at the house for about 15 years. The owner is VERY absentee, so much so that the occupant NEVER calls the owner for anything. In fact, he hasn’t seen the owner for nearly 10 years.
The occupant is on public assistance. He cannot afford his rent to go up, so “that wall that fell apart inside due to water damage, why, I rebuilt it myself, at my own cost. Added another wall too, made a bedroom into two bedrooms while I was at it. And the fence, well shoot, I’ve replaced that 3 times in 5 years. I may be cheap (spit, ding) but I ain’t no carpenter.”

This is a case of owner mismanagement, plain and simple, and it is more widespread than you may guess.

rental increase

Sometimes Repairs DO prompt Rent Increases

Go right ahead, make a silly request, repeatedly, to a property owner or property management company, I double dog dare ya.

Example:

Renter: “I don’t like the color of the ceilings, white is so…yesterday. I want them painted orange, or I’m going to move.”
Owner: Okay, see ya.
Renter: Doesn’t move.

Next month, repeat the pattern.

Tell me, what do you think will happen?

The owner will evaluate the comparables for the given area, house size, and amenities, if they are savvy, or have a good property management company. And guess which side of the spread they will be inclined to price the property at? The high end.

rental increases

Let me explain Comparables, aka Comps.

Comps, like in real estate sales, are used to determine the relative value of a property, for sale or rent. Done right, comps will clearly reveal, in hard numbers, what a property ought to be priced at, whether for sale or rent. Rent increases are determined with this and extraneous, and sometimes intuitive, information. I’ll explain that later.
If there are 3 identical houses in a mile or so, same lot size, house size, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, and they range from $1500 a month to $1700 a month, and you are paying $1400 a month, the $1500 to $1700 spread will be the basis of the decision on a possible rent increase. It’s just numbers, and not running the comps and being compensated accordingly is a poor idea.

Related Article: How to Determine Rental Increase Rates for Lease Renewals

 

You see, gas goes up in price, groceries go up, insurance goes up, name it, money devaluates and prices rise, property taxes rise yearly. Why should an owner lose money on a property they pay for? They only want what’s right, a fair market value.

 

Intuitive information explained. House is next to a school. School is out for summer, and summer is prime moving time. The upper range of the comparables may be more appealing to the owner at this time, as they are perhaps more likely to get their price than they would in the middle of the school year.

Upkeep and Curb Appeal Also Matters

This may seem counterintuitive to some folks, and I mean that from the point of view of someone who has inspected literally thousands of homes over the years, rented and owner occupied.

If the exterior of a house is not kept up, meaning the structure and the landscaping, there is a much higher likelihood that the interior is being abused, damaged.

“Oh, come on, Mr.-Smarty-Pants-Inspector-Guy-Who-Writes-Stuff, you cannot know that.”

Actually, yes, I can, I have seen the correlation so many times, not always, mind you, but maybe greater than 85% of the time it rings true. The yard is trashed, the house is trashed. There are exceptions, but very few, and this includes rental, and owner-occupied properties.

 

So, when an owner drives past and the yard is dead, and shrubs are overgrown, do you think the owner is going to default to the high or low comps? Oh, I’m sorry, the answer we were looking for is high. High.

rental increase

The Owner’s Expenses Didn’t Go Up THAT Much…

…so my rent should not go up?
Well, okay, maybe, maybe not. I know my property taxes rise every year. My monthly payment rises. I know my property insurance goes up yearly, so…. Yeah, just as an owner has no idea of a renter’s personal travails, a renter cannot know an owner’s either. No matter, as I said before, it’s the market.

rent increases

If It Needs Fixing, Call It In

Your water heater is leaking. Do you just let it go, or do you call it into the property management company, or owner, to repair? The latter. Why? What’s worse than an expense for a water heater replacement? An expense for repair of extensive water damage AND a water heater.
“But my rent will go up!”
Not likely. If an owner does not realize that expenses come part and parcel with owning a property, then I got news for them. It does. Some things are unavoidable. However, if a renter has a habit of throwing things through windows, that renter will be buying some windows or is probably going to see a large rental increase in the future.

rental increase

Wrapping it all up

Rental increases are on the minds of both homeowners and residents alike. At the end of the day, both sides know a rental increase is more than likely coming down the pipe, but finding the balance between what the owner wants in rent, what the comps are showing, and what residents can afford is a delicate process. A process that Management One has worked hard at perfecting over the last 30 years.

We don’t take a “haphazard” approach to rental increases, going with whatever, the owner wants, or going on our “gut”.   We run new rental comps for every lease renewal to verify what the true rent rates are. We take all the items mentioned into consideration as well before we make our recommendation to the owners of the property.

So they next time you are looking for a home to rent, consider using Management One!

Find Your Next Home with Us!

Call 951-924-4315 OR