Property Management Blog

Five Most Common Rental Home Paint Finishes

Sandra Morgan - Thursday, July 28, 2016

Selecting paint colors for your rental home can be challenging—and the task isn’t complete when you finally choose a color!

Deciding the appropriate paint finish is also a consideration. Below, a primer (no pun intended) on the five most common paint finishes:

Eggshell – If you can envision the very subtle sheen of the shell of an egg, you have an idea of how eggshell paint will appear when applied to a wall. With only a slight hint of shine, eggshell paint is ideal for most walls, and stands up to cleaning.

Flat – Flat (or matte) paint does not reflect light, making it another wise option for most walls. Flat paint camouflages bumps, small cracks or imperfections, and is washable.

Glossy – High-gloss paint has a near-reflective quality, mimicking the look of enamel or plastic. It is best applied (for dramatic effect) on cabinets, furniture or trim in contemporary or formal settings. Glossy paint magnifies surface imperfections, so sanding is essential before applying.

Satin – Satin paint has a smooth, velvety appearance, and is most often applied to doors, ceilings, windows or trim. It is particularly suitable for kitchens, bathrooms, and in areas that see a lot of traffic.

Semi-Gloss - Semi-gloss paint is commonly applied to cabinets, doors and trim because it is easy to clean. Be diligent when preparing the surface for semi-gloss paint—the finish will accentuate a poorly-prepared area.

Tips for Watering Your Rental Home Lawn

Sandra Morgan - Thursday, June 30, 2016

For many renters, watering the lawn is a guessing game—sometimes with a losing outcome.

Knowing when and how to water your lawn is a science, says Bryan Ostlund, executive director of Grass Seed USA, a national coalition of grass seed farmers and academic turf specialists.

“When it gets hot, the most common mistake people make is to excessively water their lawn,” Ostlund says. “However, your lawn only needs to be watered once or twice a week during the summer months. When done correctly, cutting back on irrigation can actually strengthen your lawn.”

Less watering stimulates deep root growth, which can be a boon in drought-prone areas, Ostlund adds. (Not to mention, overwatering can also counter community efforts to curb water consumption!)

Water with no more than 2 inches each week, Ostlund recommends. This will compensate for the lack of rainfall in summer without risking over-saturation.

The best time to break out the hose is early or late in the day, says Ostlund. This allows for deeper absorption, because the sun will not evaporate the water as rapidly as it would mid-day.

Most importantly, be sure to regularly schedule watering times. Lawns thrive wioth consistent waterings, according to Ostlund.

Source: Grass Seed USA

Online Risks for Property Managers

Sandra Morgan - Thursday, June 23, 2016

More rental seekers are turning to online applications to secure housing—but as this method gains popularity, rental property managers must contend with online security concerns.

“In today’s online and mobile era, residents expect quick approvals and smooth application processes, but property managers must remain cognizant of the potential fraud threat,” says Mike Doherty, senior vice president of TransUnion’s Rental Screening Solutions Group. TransUnion recently surveyed a sample of property managers, finding close to 70 percent with concerns about fraud and identity theft, and nearly 40 percent unsure of the accuracy of information submitted by rental seekers in applications.

“This [40 percent] is a significant number because the survey also revealed that about one in four property managers said the cost of evictions has increased when identity theft or online fraud has occurred,” Doherty says.

For the property managers surveyed, income and employment information are the most important factors when screening applicants. Criminal background checks, rental and eviction history and credit history also play a role in the decision to approve or deny an application.

“Credit history, prior rental payments and other screening techniques allow property managers to make smarter and better objective decisions on leasing to prospective residents,” says Doherty. “As an emerging issue in the multifamily industry, property managers should pay additional attention to their online fraud and identity theft protocols to protect their business while allowing strong applicants through the rental application process faster.”

Approximately 80 percent of rental property managers have increased rent on their unit(s) in the last year, according to the survey, and more than half increase rent once a year.

Source: TransUnion

Ways to Spruce Up Your Rental Home Without Spending Money

Sandra Morgan - Friday, April 08, 2016

Ready or not, spring is here, and with it comes the urge to open up your home to fresh breezes and sunshine. The trouble with that, as some renters lament, is that the furnishings may look a little tired.

Before you replace a few big-ticket items, take a few tips from the editors of Home & Garden Magazine to spruce up your rental home without spending any money:

Bring the Outdoors In – Take a walk and gather a bunch of the season’s first lilies or daffodils, or even a branch or two of greenery. Fresh greens and flowers are the fastest and easiest way to put a little spring in your rental home.

Flip the Throw Rug – This may not work for oriental rugs, but for others, flipping a rug upside down may expose a textural difference or a slightly different hue that changes the look of the room.

Rethink the Layout – Sit down with a pencil and paper and try out some different furniture arrangements. A simple switch may make all the difference in changing the look of your rental home.

Use Leftover Paint – If it’s still sitting in the garage, use it to freshen up walls or cabinets that may have been scrubbed once too much.

Edit It Down – Sometimes, when a room looks tired, you don’t need to add anything new. Try removing a few things to edit down the space. You may find less is more.

Rearrange Displays – Instead of packing in row after row of books on a bookcase, try leaving space open on the shelves and display a few knick-knacks or art objects.

Change Out Wall Art – Move a few of your favorite paintings to another spot. Switch them out with a couple of prints or family photos. Check the attic for a vintage item or two and hang them on the walls for a fresh, new look.

Rent-Smart Tips for the First-Time Renter

Sandra Morgan - Thursday, March 10, 2016

For many, renting is a necessary stepping stone on the path to homeownership. Embark on the journey wisely with these rent-smart tips for the first-time renter, courtesy of NeighborWorks America.

1. Be on alert for rental scams. Scammers often advertise rentals that don’t exist or aren’t available (“phantom” rentals) to trick prospective tenants into sending them money. Signs you may have encountered a scam include a person telling you to wire money, or send a security deposit and/or first month’s rent before you’ve met or signed a lease. To report a scam, contact local law enforcement and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

2. Get your finances in shape. Nearly half of renters are spending more than 30 percent of their incomes on rent, according to Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies. Strengthening your credit can help save you from overspending. A good credit score is important because most landlords use a credit check to vet potential renters. Consider financial counseling to help build up your creditworthiness.

3. Know your options. Depending on your area, you may have the option to rent directly from a landlord or from a managed property. Weigh the pros and cons of both—you can easily get in touch with a property manager for maintenance issues, for example, but landlords may have flexibility when it comes to rent.

4. Obtain renter’s insurance. Renter’s insurance protects the valuables inside your home, whether you're living in an apartment or renting a house. If there were an incident like a fire or water leak, the landlord's insurance will cover the building itself, but you would still need to replace your own property if it were damaged.

5. Research moving companies. Moving schemes are common, especially in larger cities. Conducting research before hiring a mover is essential. Look for online reviews, check out social media, and ask your family or friends for a recommendation.  Be sure to get estimates from a few moving companies to compare prices. 

Source: NeighborWorks America

Craigslist Rental Scams on the Rise

Sandra Morgan - Friday, March 04, 2016

Apartment hunters in big cities know the drill: they spot a listing for a well-priced, attractive place and make an inquiry, only to be met with demands for an instant credit check or an upfront fee to access the full listing. Savvier home hunters spot these scams immediately, but others fall through the cracks, making popular rental listing sites like Craigslist a highly lucrative spot for fraud.

A recently released study by researchers at the New York University Tandon School of Engineering found that Craigslist fails to identify more than half of scam rental listings, and that suspicious postings often linger for as long as 20 hours before being removed—more than enough time to snare victims, especially in competitive housing markets.

The research team at NYU analyzed more than 2 million rental listings on Craigslist over a five-month period to gain an end-to-end understanding of how such scams are structured and which strategies may undermine them. The team detected and analyzed about 29,000 fraudulent listings in 20 major cities, ultimately mapping the listings into seven distinct scam categories, most of which involved credit card payments.

One of the most common was a credit report scam, in which a fraudulent poster instructs a would-be tenant to click a link and purchase a credit report. The scammer gets a referral commission from the credit reporting site even though there is no property for rent.

In another scheme, the "cloned listing" scam, rental listings from other sites are duplicated and posted on Craigslist at a lower price. Scammers make money by requesting a rent deposit via wire transfer from prospective tenants. By responding to these ads and analyzing IP addresses and banking wire information, the researchers learned that most of these schemes originate in Nigeria and are administered by a small group of "scam factories."

Another pervasive scam involved "real estate service" companies, in which victims are asked to pay both an upfront fee and a monthly membership fee to access listings of pre-foreclosure rentals or rent-to-own properties. In the majority of cases, the companies leading the scams have no connection to the properties listed.

The cities included in the study were Austin, Texas; Boston, Mass.; Charlotte, N.C.; Chicago, Ill.; Columbus, Ohio; Dallas, Texas; Detroit, Mich.; El Paso, Texas; Houston, Texas; Indianapolis, Ind.; Jacksonville, Fla.; Los Angeles, Calif,; Memphis, Tenn.; New York, N.Y.; Philadelphia, Pa.; Phoenix, Ariz.; San Antonio, Texas; San Diego, Calif.; San Francisco, Calif.; and Seattle, Wash.

Source: NYU Tandon School of Engineering

Easy Tips to Decorate Your Rental Home

Sandra Morgan - Thursday, February 04, 2016

The living room is the room where most families spend the majority of their time. The TV is usually there, the comfy couches are there, and oftentimes the living room has the best view of the backyard. Sometimes, though, the living room needs some sprucing up. Here are three things you can do to instantly revolutionize the favorite room in the house:

New Curtains

New curtains seem like a no-brainer. Of course that’s a go-to when redecorating. But have you heard this spin on it? Rather than shelling out for fancy top-end curtains, take a walk on the wild side and outfit your windows with shower curtains! They’re cheaper, more durable (which is great if you have pets and kids!), and come in bright colors and patterns for the bold home decorator. A splash of color or pattern framing the window is sure to rejuvenate your living room.

Your ambition level can determine exactly how you go about this. If your windows are big enough, you might be able to get away with hanging your shower curtain right out of the packaging. If they’re not, you might need to call on the little seamstress in you, but this living room redesign doesn’t take much sewing skill.

As for hanging up your shower curtains, it’s your call if you want to use shower curtain hooks or just thread your curtain rod through the pre-cut holes. You might need to adjust the holes to accommodate the thickness of the rod. If you pay a little more, however, some of the fancier shower curtains have holes with wood or plastic rims rather than just being slits in the curtain fabric. These add a stylish, decorative flair to your room without any extra work.

Gorgeous Glass

Sometimes the best additions to your home decorations are the small, delicate ones. Etched glass is a stunning statement piece that can be used to make your doors, windows, coffee table tops, or bookcases as much part of the decor as any other piece of furniture. People rarely think of glass as a way to breathe life back into their living room. Introducing change in this way will make you feel elegant, and perhaps like you have a great little secret since it’s not something immediately noticed. You can impress your guests when they catch sight of this little detail.

Your decorative glass doesn’t have to be your Grandma’s flowers and birds either; it can be your family’s name, your favorite sports team, a picture of your favorite State Park, or whatever else you dream up. If you have doors going into your living room, you can change them out with glass panels and get them etched with whatever designs your heart desires.

Glass works are picking up steam as far as home decorating trends go. Don’t underestimate the power a well designed glass feature can have on a room’s overall aesthetic.

Change Your Colors

Sometimes the living room becomes a space notorious for either its blandness or for its lack of cohesiveness. Take a glance around your living space. Which one is it? Is this the room filled with brown bookcases, tan doilies, and gray-brown furniture? Or is this the room bursting with orange and purple blankets, kids’ plastic toys, and every brightly colored book you own? With a little rearranging, you can turn your living room into an aesthetic masterpiece.

Pick a color scheme. Find items you already own that align with that color scheme, and use them to fill the spaces in the living room. Excise anything that doesn’t fit the mold. Create artistic bookshelf arrangements by using books whose spines fit that color theme. Turn your drab couch into a WOW couch by introducing decorative pillows. If your kids’ toys need to stay in the living room, give them their own decorative box that matches your color theme.

A space will feel so much different if you simply arrange its contents based on color. There’s also the added benefit of, say, choosing reds and oranges for your living room, because then stuff you have that is any other color will be ready to go to decorate another room in your house with a color theme. This approach to decorating seems simple and commonplace, but not many people think to arrange their items this way. It’s the fastest, most cost-effective way to get your living room looking as nice as those rooms in decorating magazines.

It isn’t tough to redecorate your living room. These ideas aren’t only stylish, but they’re also cost effective. Whether you aim for some new curtains, some pretty new glass accents, or rearranging your possessions based on color, you won’t be disappointed.

Renters Desire Pet Friendly Housing

Sandra Morgan - Thursday, January 21, 2016

Pets have found their way into the hearts—and homes—of over 125 million households across the country. Now, more so than ever before, pets are warranting consideration beyond that of their owners. On the house hunt, pets are playing a foremost role in the homebuying and renting decisions their owners make.

“I can easily say 80 percent of my buyer clients either have pets or are planning on getting one once they are in their new home,” says Beth Atalay, a broker/owner in Clermont, Fla.

Pets, Atalay says, must be taken into account when working with pet-owner buyers. But gone are the days of the no-doggy-door-deal-breaker. Pet owners today are seeking homes with amenities that marry community comforts and smart design, all catering to the very specific needs of their four-legged companions.

Some home builders have already answered that call, offering floor plans with pet-designated rooms. Mega builder CalAtlantic Homes recently began presenting buyers with customizable “pet suites” with options for built-in cabinetry, a pet-friendly shower and more.

“Including a space for pets acknowledges that most people have and love their pets,” says Daniel Swift, president of national architecture firm BSB Design. “Even just a little access point off the kitchen, a way to get outside and get back in, tells our buyer, ‘We know and understand how you live.’”

Builders have also been challenged to incorporate pet-centric conveniences without sacrificing style, like under-cabinet food stations and in-island kennels or litter boxes, in addition to smart home technology, such as electronic pet doors.

Standard, yet deliberate, features are a plus for pet owners, as well, says Jane Maxson, a REALTOR® in Seattle who has carved out a pet-friendly niche in her market. These features range from hard-surface flooring colored to disguise shed pet hairs to extended window sills wide enough for cats and anything in between.

“Fully-fenced yards, an outside cat enclosure with access to and from the home…and having a cool basement is always an advantage on days when temperatures reach unbearable numbers, or even a shady spot in the yard if the pet is kept outside during the day,” Maxson says.

And for both buyers and renters, pet-friendly amenities must extend beyond the four walls of the home. According to research by the National Multifamily Housing Council, apartment residents desire communities that offer pet facilities and services, such as shared washing and exercise stations, a dog park, drinking fountains, and even pet treats in the lobby.

“Communities that are not pet-friendly are definitely a deal-breaker for those who have pets or are planning on getting one,” says Atalay. “Pets are part of their families, no different than their children.”

“Sometimes the most pet-friendly house has little to do with the house and everything to do with location,” adds Maxson. “Close proximity to off-leash dog parks, parks with good walking trails…and most buyers with pets pass on buying a home located on or near a busy thoroughfare.”

Ultimately, whether buying or renting, pet owners want the best of both worlds—a home that combines a pet-ready interior with communal pet perks.

“I don’t think pet-friendly amenities make a difference in monetary value,” Maxson says, “but a well-appointed home will make it more emotionally valuable to a buyer with pets.”

For pet owners, it’s worth it.

Where Renters are Moving in 2016

Sandra Morgan - Thursday, January 14, 2016

People move for all kinds of reasons—but as a recent Harris Poll® revealed, their decision-making is primarily driven by region. Just over half of respondents to the poll, and mostly millennials, said they’d consider moving to another state to live in an area with a better climate or better weather.

Not surprisingly, climate consideration appears to be a greater motivating factor for prospective movers in regions prone to less-than-pleasant weather. According to poll results, 64 percent of Easterners and 61 percent of Midwesterners would consider moving to an area with better weather; just 48 percent of Southerners and 39 percent of Westerners would do the same.

The poll also shed light on other common moving motivators. Over 40 percent of respondents would consider moving for a job opportunity, more than one-third would factor in proximity to family, and exactly one-quarter would consider a move for health reasons.

Less common, yet still significant reasons emerged in the poll’s findings, as well. For example:

• Eighteen (18) percent of respondents would consider a move to be closer to friends.
• Sixteen (16) percent of respondents would consider a move to be closer to a significant other.
• Fourteen (14) percent of respondents would consider a move for an educational opportunity.
• Thirteen (13) percent of respondents would consider a move to a location in which their lifestyle is more accepted.
• Eleven (11) percent of respondents would consider a move to a location in which their political views are more accepted, or to a location in which recreational marijuana is legal.
• Seven (7) percent of respondents would consider a move to a location in which their religious views are more accepted.

Source: The Harris Poll®

What Renovations have the Best Resale Value?

Sandra Morgan - Friday, January 08, 2016

Investors look at a property very differently than a homebuyer and should take the time to look at it through their eyes when considering a remodeling project for an investment home. But which projects are most effective for the housing market? Here are home renovations that will improve a homes resale value no matter your budget:

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