Choosing a Property Manager – Practical Tips For Real Estate Investors

Selecting a property management firm is one of the most important decisions a real estate investor can make. The following are critical factors we think you should look at when making your decision.

Customer Service

You really want to select a firm that will deliver great customer service – to you and tenants alike. If you experience any responsiveness issues when inquiring about their service, the odds are that you will experience the same on an ongoing basis if you select the firm. Ask pertinent questions such as:

  • Are they available after regular working hours?
  • How do they handle emergencies?
  • Who can you speak to if there are problems, and where are they located?
  • Do they offer any guarantees on their service?

Knowledge of Building Construction & Maintenance

Experience and knowledge of building construction and maintenance is key for your property management firm to have. We would expect a coffee company like Starbucks to have excellent knowledge about the coffee equipment in use at their stores. We should expect a property management company to have excellent knowledge about the building technology in use at their properties. Key questions are:

  • Do they have skills on staff to be able to diagnose building issues quickly & effectively?
  • Are formal and documented maintenance and capital upgrade plans created for each property?
  • Can they manage subtrade work over and above minor maintenance?

Tenant Screening Process

You will want to select a firm that takes tenant selection seriously and does more than just the standard background checks. Tenant selection requires time, solid inter-personal skills and good judgment. Ask questions such as:

  • How much time will they spend with a prospective tenant?
  • What kind of questions will be asked of the tenant?
  • Will references be checked even if a reference letter is provided?

Local Market Knowledge

The most important influence to real estate investment value is the local market influence – and local market knowledge is key. Your property manager should have excellent knowledge of the local real estate market. Ask pertinent questions such as:

· What local staff presence exists?

· How does the firm keep up with local market trends?

· Will you be dealing with any remotely located staff to get service?

· Will tenants or prospective tenants be dealing with local or remote staff?

Fee Structure

You will want to select a firm with reasonable fees and also a structure whereby fees on top of fees are avoided. For example, for a renovation you will want to avoid paying a % fee to the construction contractor, and then a % fee to the property manager on top of that. Ask pertinent questions such as:

· What fees are charged for renovation and construction projects?

· Do they use general contractors for renovation and construction? If so, what fees are charged?

· Do they have the capability to manage subtrades directly?

Information Systems

Technology helps businesses run. Your property management company should have a clear information systems management strategy and operational. As the owner of the property, in the end you are responsible for the information so you will want to make sure your property manager has a good handle on it. Ask pertinent questions such as:

· How is information maintained?

· Are IT industry best-practices followed?

· How is privacy legislation compliance achieved?

· Does a backup strategy exist?

· What is the company’s IT disaster recovery plan

Accounting

And finally, you will want your books in order. This will keep your tax accountant happy and your accounting fees low. Find out if the property management firm has a solid grounding in accounting practices. Key questions include:

· What financial and transaction records are kept?

· What is the accounting cycle for the property?

· Which reports will be provided?

· Is someone available to answer your accountant’s questions should any arise?

Understanding the above areas and getting to know a property management firm’s management approach to managing these key aspects of real estate management will lead you to making a well-informed decision.

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How To Start A Realtor Sign Installation Business – Tips And Strategies

When you start a Realtor sign installation business, you have access to a wide variety of potential business sources from residential to commercial to vacant land. You will also need to establish the geographical area that you can cover reliably.

In considering how to start a Realtor sign installation business, the first consideration has to be arranging for the production of signage materials. To print custom logos and colors you will need to set up arrangements with a silk screen printing company. This is a specialized process where the pattern is created on fabric with a resist material, then ink is pressed through in multiple color passes. You are also going to want to arrange for storage of the completed signs in a covered dry area with separators to protect their surface when not in use.

The signs themselves are almost universally mounted on four by four standard construction grade Douglas Fir posts, apart from larger commercial real estate signs which occasionally may require four by six posts. The plywood for lettering should be plywood with exterior grade glue and a smooth PTS “plugged and touch sanded” surface on both sides. Half inch thickness should suffice for most applications.

You will need a good knowledge of the area to accurately locate the sign placements. A GPS device is useful here, and you will also want to be able to read County Assessor plat maps if you are going to place signs on vacant land. You will also need to check local sign ordinances in developed areas. Know the restrictions on sign placement in gated communities, within homeowner association controlled developments, and in all areas with covenants, conditions and restrictions (CCRs) such as planned unit developments or town homes.

You also need to have reliable transportation consisting of a full size pickup truck with wood separator fixtures fashioned to secure the standard yard signs during transport.

Once your production capacity and storage arrangements are in place but not yet activated, you need to secure your accounts. In addition to marketing to conventional real estate offices, you will also want to pursue the bank REO (real estate owned) departments that need to liquidate foreclosed holdings and the independent agencies that are selling foreclosed properties in bulk.

Establish your pricing and service by comparison with sign companies in areas adjacent to your service area. Much of your marketing will be establishing contacts in person with the real estate office managers in your area. Be presentable, be persistent, be cordial, and be businesslike. These people need to know they can trust you to promptly and reliably place and remove their signs.

Almost every business today can benefit from an online marketing presence. A digital camera can provide you with promotional photographs for your web site, and templates are available online to simplify the process of setting up your site. Be sure to include a call to action on every page to encourage your visitors to request an estimate by e-mail. Also obtain their name and telephone in your online form to follow up with them consistently. The forms can be found by searching online for reply forms.

Tips for Fixing Nail Pops in Drywall

It is very common for screws in drywall to become loose overtime. This bubbling, blistering, or bumpy effect in walls is caused by the drywall pushing out the screw or nail heads as it shifts. This is referred to as nail pops in the drywall industry. Generally, this is a sign that your walls might be in need of fresh drywall work and paint.

For premature nail pops, you can sometimes repair them without professional assistance. For larger or more complex jobs, a professional drywall contractor is the best resource since they retain all the proper tools, equipment, and training. If you would like to fix a few nail pops around the house on your own, continue reading to learn some tips for doing just that!

Nail Pop Repair

To repair nail pops in your drywall, you will need a few supplies. You may have most of these materials on hand already, and anything you do not have can be found at your local home improvement or hardware store. Here is what you will need:

  • Stud Finder (optional)
  • Hammer (or nail punch)
  • 2 Drywall Screws
  • Screwdriver
  • Drywall Mud
  • Drywall Knife
  • Sandpaper (200 grit is fine)
  • Paint and Primer

To get started, be sure you have all the necessary tools and supplies so that you don’t have to stop halfway through to make a trip to the store. Once you have everything you need, start by locating the framing around the area with nail pops. Use your fingers to tap the wall until you can hear a solid reverberation instead of a hollow one. You may also use a stud finder. Once you find a sharper sound, tap each side to ensure it sounds hollow. If this happens, then you have located the framing.

Next, use the drywall screws to re-attach the loosened drywall to the framing. Place each screw 2 to 3 inches above and below the nail pop. Then use your hammer to depress the nail pop back into the wall. Do this step gently as to not put a hole or dent in the wall.

Use the drywall knife to scrap away any excess drywall material that has flaked or crumbled off. Then use the drywall mud to cover the screw heads in the wall. Two coats should do the trick. Follow the instructions or look for online tutorials on how to apply drywall mud.

Last, use your sandpaper to sand the drywall mud until it is even and smooth. Then just finish the job with a fresh coat of primer and paint.

5 Things to Consider When Choosing a Swimming Pool Service

Construction of a swimming pool either commercial, semi- commercial or residential much depends upon your discussions with the builder/ architect regarding its look, deepness, surround equipments etc. But after it get constructed, to find pool service provider is necessary to keep the pool’s water clean and bacteria free. There are many things to consider regarding choosing of such contractor. Here are following top 5 tips to be kept in mind before signing a contract regarding pool service with any contractor.

1. How and where to find best one?

In your neighborhood many pool contractors may be working. They may be contacted, ask them to come, pay visit and give the estimate. If you don’t know any, ask around. Friends and family can be good source. Try pool shops and pool service companies. When looking for a new pool service provider, it is essential to carefully research the credentials, experience, services and pricing of each potential provider before making your final decision.

2. Experience, Knowledge and Expertise

Your investment in swimming pool construction and its finishing is too big and you don’t want to work with a service provider/contractor/ company that don’t have experience or less experience. Those service provider companies which can properly care your pool may have been in business for a long time, know the new changing, trends, fashions and can provide correct advice. Such service providers history can be searched online, their online reviews, their reputation; demos of their work can be seen while asking them about their current and former clients. Such clients can be contacted to know about their experience with such n such service provider.

3. Sharing ‘By them with you’

Do they share with you what they are doing and why? If you ask. It you can know while contacting their other customers. In their absence, how the water be tested, or running the water vacuum or checking any number of other do it yourself items, attended by you between their visits.

4. Emergency Services

Can they repair any item of the pool if it breakdown any time? Do they offer emergency services? If the pool leaks or something unfortunate happens in the midnight or on the holiday- will they available to help you out? What are their fees for emergency visits?

5. Licensed and Insured

Swimming in a dirty pool can be harmful to your health. Look for a service provider that is properly licensed by the state. It is also important to verify that each potential provider has proper insurance coverage.