Maximizing Curb Appeal

     When marketing your property, curb appeal is one of the most important factors in marketing to potential tenants.

     In many ways, the first impression prospective renters get when they look on a website, see a flyer in the newspaper or drive by a property is how the property looks. Does it feel right? Can they see themselves living there?

     For people searching online, which has become the majority these days,  maintaining the internal look of a property is as important, if not more important, as maintaining the external.  Who wants to rent a $1500 a month property with a stunning brick construction, spacious master bedroom, jacuzzi tubs and a two-car garage if the toilets in the pictures are filthy?  Not you, if you have any amount of pride for how your property is presented!

     It’s important to capture the best possible shot of your property when advertising online.  Pictures of your house covered in show with barren trees won’t get nearly as much positive reception as a summer shot with lush, green trees in the yard.

Check out these Virtual Tours for properties we manage:

T.R. Lawing Realty Virtual Tours

Kori

Need-To-Know: New Federal Foreclosure Laws

     Though this news is by no means new, it still is a point of concern for tenants who are renting in these sensitive economic times.

     Prior to Obama’s “Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act of 2009″, teants of properties faced with foreclosure were given a 30 day notice to vacate. Even the most prepared people have a tough time making a move in 30 days, much less being blindsided by threat of foreclosure.

     With the new act, tenants are given 90 days to vacate(and in specific cases, given until the end date of their original lease). Once the notice for foreclosure is received, the tenant is no longer under any obligation to the lease, so they have the ability to leave at any time and to discontinue paying rent.  The combination of these elements have made foreclosure situations more manageable in these trying times.

     Take a look at this article outlining the features of this legislation:

http://www.toughtimesforlenders.com/2009/08/articles/remedies/change-new-federal-foreclosure-law-gives-residential-tenants-90-days-to-vacate/

Sallie

2010 Regional Service Award presented to Joe Rempson!

Joe's Award!

Congratulations to Joe Rempson for receiving an award from the North Carolina Association of Realtors for being ‘The Voice of Real Estate in North Carolina”, the 2010 Regional Service Award presented to Thomas “Joe” Rempson, Region No. 8:

 “In Recognition of Your Outstanding Commitment, Leadership and Service to the Region, Community and Real Estate Profession”

This award was presented to Joe for his role in organizing the Realtor Care Day event, in which area realtors participated in repairing 64 Charlotte-area/Iredell County homes! You may read more information about Realtor Care Day here:

http://www.carolinarealtors.com/hof/realtorscareday/realtorscareday.aspx

The Importance of Renter’s Insurance

We had a situation this week concerning a home that caught fire. The house was damaged and the tenant lost all their belongings. The owner’s insurance is going to handle the repairs to the home, however the tenant did not have renter’s insurance. Renter’s insurance is optional, but though it is relatively inexpensive, many renters do not elect to have this very important coverage.

We spoke with Dwight Durrell with the Amica insurance company for his thoughts on the importance of renter’s insurance:

“Renter’s insurance is extremely valuable: for relatively little money it can avoid catastrophe.

Many people assume the landlord/ or the apartment complex has insurance that would cover a tenant’s belongings.  This is not true: the building owner has insurance to cover their own property, the renter is not covered.

Another mistaken belief many folks have it that they don’t own enough “stuff” to justify a policy.  However most people actually own more that they think.  Clothing, furniture, appliances, books; CD’s, DVD’s & all sorts of electronic gizmos would be a hardship to replace if there was a loss.

A typical policy covers theft, vandalism, fire, explosion, water damage or wind storm & the loss of property when it occurs away from your apartment, such as items taken on vacation.

Additionally there is liability coverage in the event somebody is hurt in your unit & you are responsible for their injury. It also helps to cover your additional living expenses if you are unable to live in your apartment because of a fire or other covered hazard.

The cost of renters insurance varies depending on the coverage selected and geographic location. In the Charlotte area, renters can get an Amica policy for less than $100 a year.

For more information Pease check our website: www.amica.com for more information. Or contact me directly: *

(Also check www.jdpower.com/insurance to see how we rank in their insurance satisfaction surveys)”

*Dwight Durrell, CPCU, Supervising Account Rep, Amica Mutual Insurance Co.

(800) 342-6422, ext. 62699 or ddurrell@amica.com

Joe

Making Your Home A Business

     After removing the pictures from the walls, beds from the rooms, the kids from the beds… (well, perhaps we should reverse the order), you too can make your home, (make that former home), your business. 

     Aside from the customary emotional detachment, the cleaning, painting, and prepping, you can actually have a friend, or shall I say relative, in the rental business (other than T.R. Lawing Realty of course).  Da dadadaaa… It’s Uncle Sam!!    

      The IRS considers your home a business if your personal use does not exceed 14 days per year or 10% of the number of days the property is rented out at fair market value, whichever is longer.   So, if  you are in the market to rent your home, make sure you consider the following(and consult your accountant beforehand):

DEDUCT the expenses that are attributable to the rental property such as mortgage interest, property taxes, insurance, property management fees, and travel expenses. 

DEPRECIATE the cost of your home over 27.5 years as well as the cost of appliances and carpets over an even shorter period of time. 

DEFER the capital gains tax when selling by swapping it for another rental property through a “1031 Exchange.”

DON’T forget to report all your rental income. 

Keep these D’s in mind when learning the ABC’s of Making Your Home a Business. 

David

Rental Market Demand

I just took a look at our traffic from year-to-date (8/31) with the number of applications we have processed.  This trend confirms that this is our most active year ever with interest on our vacancies.  We have processed a total of 1,415 applications in 2010.  This is a 200 application increase from year-to-date over each of the previous 3 years.

Our leasing agents continue to answer phone inquiries, email inquiries, and Bold Chat inquiries.  Our internet marketing is definitely worth the money spent, as it generates a lot of traffic.  In addition to the applications, we answered approximately 7,000 leasing calls in August 2010 as well.�

We are grateful for each of our employees.  They all communicate with a number of clients and potential clients daily.  There is never a slow or dull moment at T. R. Lawing Realty, Inc.

Joe

Rent My Property!! Do I Have To???

 

     If the present housing market and overall economic circumstances lead you to consider renting, you may want to consider swallowing three important guidelines.  Hold your nose, these may be worse than garden peas… yuck!!

 Owning a rental property requires at a minimum:

Supreme Patience 

     The average vacancy period can last between 60 and 90 days.  Now, this is a general rule of thumb.  If you place your property on the market between Thanksgiving and Christmas, it may linger a bit longer.  Consider this:  most people are traveling, planning, cooking, eating (and regretting), shopping (and regretting some more), and just down-right Deck-The-Hall celebrating the Holiday Season during this time period.  As a result, making the extra trek to go look at your property may be the last thing on their minds.  Can you blame them? 

Innkeeper’s Disposition

     When a prospective renter views your property, don’t be alarmed if they have a list of items to address prior to their move-in.  Being particular or obsessive may not be a bad thing.  There are two things a good property manager should do for you:   1) Maintain Your Investment;  2) Generate rental income to offset some of your mortgage.  Notice that the maintaining your investment bit comes first.  This is where your demanding, obsessive, no-idea-how-much-this-is-going-to-cost renter comes in.  Meet their reasonable contingencies, address their repairs, and you will be amazed at the well-maintained property that is returned to you. 

 Tolerate Negative Cash Flow

     Repairs cost money.  It’s part of maintaining your property.  And, rental rates are not always going to exceed your mortgage.  Remember, did you consider renting the property and consulting the rental market before you bought your home?  Of course not.  And why would you, considering all that has changed?  So, how do you make money?  You make it in the long-run.  Appreciation over time and an eventual, yet gradual increase in home value mixed with supreme patience (I swear I heard that supreme patience thing somewhere) will eventually pay off. 

It’s just like eating your vegetables.

David

The Upsides to Downsizing!

     Last summer, the condos in my management portfolio were typically the last to get rented. THIS summer, however, I’m seeing more and more people renting the condos first!

     What’s causing this abrupt shift?  An obvious factor is the sensitive economy we all find ourselves in the midst of: renters are downsizing!

     It doesn’t take much to consider the fact that smaller properties yield smaller monthly rental rates and utility bills as well as have a host of other attractive features: condominiums have Home Owner Associations which handle all lawncare(eliminating the need to purchase and maintain a lawnmower), amenities which feature community pools and recreation centers (no need for a YMCA memberships!) and some even have walking trails and golf courses and are extremely convenient to local shopping and other entertainment venues(helping tenants save on gas).

     For many of our tenants, downsizing doesn’t mean sacrificing creature comforts, in fact, many consider it a upsizing! :)

Brenda

Free Rent Specials

     Typically owners and management firms do not wish to give away free rent, but in a soft competitive market, this can often assist in getting a qualified resident in the property. 

     Due to the vacancy factor in the Charlotte Apartment Market, we have been successful in offering, “One Month Of Free Rent With A 13 Month Lease Special.”  For some of our houses in areas that have a surplus of nice homes available for rent, we have owners that have offered “Half A Month’s Free Rent,” which makes their property stand out when rental prospects are weighing their options.  

     Often the “free rent specials” are the marketing tools that successfully lease these properties.

     It’s always interesting to see how quickly these properties rent!  Here are some properties currently taking advantage of this marketing strategy:

930 Norland Road Apt A 1 bedroom, 1 bath for $395/mo near Uptown Charlotte

3343 Streamside 4 bedroom, 2.5 bath for $1195/mo in Concord

5805 Hunting Ridge Lane – B  1 bedroom, 1 bath for $375 off Independence

2804 Edwin Jones Drive  3 bedroom, 2.5 bath for $995/mo off I-85 & WT Harris

(If, when you click on these links, the pages do not display these listings, it means they’ve been rented!)

Peggy

Dealing with Copper Theft

We recently had a tenant who moved into one of our properties that had been vacant for quite some time – the owner had recently installed new appliances and we’d taken steps to aggressively market their property – the new tenant was the result. However, when the tenant moved in, they discovered that they had no water. The tenant reported this to our office and we had a plumber sent out the property the same day.

We came to find out that the copper plumbing had been stolen out of the crawlspace under this property.  We reported this immediately to the police and to the owner, who reported this to their insurance company. Within two days of the reported stolen copper, new copper piping had been installed and after additional testing, the tenant had water! We worked with the owner and offered free rent, prorated for the days that the tenant did not have water access.

Many buyers are now requiring photo ID to help discourage copper thefts, which have become more common recently. It’s important for homeowners to make sure their insurance policies are kept current and cover possibilities like copper theft. Theft is a concern to every tenant and owner, and as these unfortunate situations arise it’s crucial that action is taken in a timely manner.

Here’s an article published earlier this year about copper theft in a local Charlotte area:

http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2010/05/05/1418454/copper-thieves-target-chantilly.html

In many cases, owners and tenants alike are urged to do what they can to protect themselves and their property.

Sallie