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Routine Inspections of Your Rental Property

Ensuring Routine Inspections of Your Investment Property

Ensuring Routine Inspections of Your Investment Property

Owning a rental property can be a great investment, it can provide you both an income cash flow and equity appreciation within the property. With any investment, you want assurance that it is being properly maintained and managed. As a Property Manager, I conduct both exterior and interior inspections on a regular basis for my clients and the investment property.

Regular inspections of the property is of utmost importance for three reasons:

1. Ensure the property is well maintained.

2. Address any issues immediately.

3. Protect your income cash flow from the property AND later down the road you may decide to sell. You want to ensure the property will show well to prospective buyers.

Why are inspections of the property so important?

Listed below are my top 10 reasons why these inspections are important.

1. Prevent Unauthorized Tenants. It is absolutely critical that anyone above the age of 18 years of age that is a tenant, is on the lease. In addition to that, there are legal guidelines on the number of tenants of any age that can reside in a home. If these are not addressed, it can expose you to unnecessary risk. Routine inspections of the home will help ensure tenants are abiding to their lease.

2. Prevent Unauthorized Pets. This is important for a variety of reasons, most importantly, there can be breeds of pets that your homeowner’s insurance policy will deem as restricted pets. This can be costly for you if a restricted pet is residing in the home and a claim is being made. The insurance company could see this as violation and possibly void your claim all because of an unauthorized pet.

3. Prevent Unapproved Painting. Setting clear expectations up-front is the first step to prevent this from occurring. Any time a tenant paints the interior or exterior of the property, they should obtain approval from the Property Manager. Unapproved painting can be costly and if it is unproved, the tenant shall be responsible for cost if the walls need to be repainted. For example, I had taken over managing a property that was being self-managed by the owner. During this time, the prior tenant painted a series of walls an assortment of dark shaded colors. The prior tenant probably loved the colors they choose, however, not a single prospective tenant enjoyed it. The home had excellent features however the paint was a distraction. We ended up having the walls painted a neutral color, and this had an immediate impact and within days the unit was rented. Re-painting walls can require a lot of work and unnecessary cost (i.e. priming the walls, then painting with usually several coats) and this can be prevented with setting clear expectations up-front and with routine interior inspections. For this self-managed owner, since clear documented steps were not in place, they ended up bearing the cost of re-painting. With the properties I manage, clear expectations are set-up front, inspections are completed and if the tenant conducts unauthorized painting, they are responsible for the cost of re-painting the walls.

4. HOA Rules and Regulations. Every HOA will have a set of rules and regulations and some have specific guidelines in place for maintaining the exterior appearance of the home. If they are not followed, it can lead to unnecessary notices and even fines assessed against the property and the owner. This is easily prevented by conducting routine exterior inspections. I have a property that was self-managed by an out-of-state owner, however with owner being out-of-state, the owner was under the impression that everything was great. The tenants had resided there for several years. However, the exterior brush and trees ended up getting so overgrown and were unkempt. This ended up leading to a notice from the HOA and needed to be addressed. The great thing about having a Property Manager is that when you are out-of-state, you have peace of mind knowing that inspections will occur and situations like this can be prevented.

5. Prevent Overgrown brush and or foliage. Even if your investment property is not located in a deed restricted community, you will still want to ensure the exterior brush and foliage is well maintained. If not, this can lead to a variety of problems, as overgrown brush or foliage can be a nest for pests. Having routine exterior inspections done can prevent this from occurring.

6. Prevent Unauthorized Maintenance Performed by the Tenant. A tenant may think they are saving you money and or protecting their deposit by doing their own maintenance. However, this can not only lead to a variety of issues. Bad maintenance repair can be a real eye sore, or even worse, it can create a problem that can cost two or three times as much to fix versus having a professional fix the problem in the first place. A while back I had taken over a property where a prior tenant had performed their own maintenance while it was being self-managed by an owner. One of their pets did a significant amount of damage to an exterior door and the tenant replaced the molding around the door and installed a new door. At a quick glance, it looked cheaply done, once you inspected it closer the problem was much worse. The door was not properly installed, there was a significant draft and on top of that the door would not open/close properly. As a Property Manager, conducting a routine inspection catches this kind of stuff. In this situation the tenant could have been billed for having a professional properly fix the door, however it was not caught by the self-managed owner until it was too late and the owner ended up bearing the cost.

7. Ensuring the Unit is Kept Clean. Routine interior inspections of the property help ensure the property is being well maintained. In addition to general cleanliness, you can ensure many of the items mentioned previously are not occurring. In addition, you can also ensure no smoking is occurring in a non-smoking unit, there is no loose trash that can lead to unwanted pests, all of this and more is important to ensure the house is being well maintained.

8. Maintaining HVAC. Unfortunately HVAC units do not last forever, however, you can prolong the life of an HVAC unit if it is well maintained. Exterior inspections ensure there is not debris or foliage around the HVAC system. Interior inspections help ensure the tenant is regularly replacing the HVAC filter. In addition to this, I encourage my owners to enroll in a HVAC annual maintenance prevention program. A licensed and insured vendor that we work with will visit the unit multiple times throughout the year to perform routine inspection and cleaning of the system; this helps pro-long the life of the system.

9. Ensuring the Unit is Kept in Good Condition. These inspections can also help to ensure window blinds are not broken. There are no unauthorized vehicles on the property, especially an unauthorized non-working vehicle on the property, which can be an eye sore, even worse a violation of HOA Rules and Regulations. Ensuring no damage to the walls by not properly hanging items, no damage has occurred to tile, carpet and or flooring in addition to a wide variety of other things.

10. Documentation. This starts before the tenant even resides in the home. Having an attorney prepared lease prepared for the specific home is critical. Outlining the responsibilities for the tenant and owner are critical. While the tenant is residing in the home, it is critical to have documentation for any maintenance and or emergency maintenance requests submitted by the tenant(s). When the interior and exterior inspections occur, having proper documentation can help reduce risk and significantly reduce the risk of all the items that were previously mentioned.

As a Property Manager, I am here to help protect your investment. Routine inspections will provide you peace of mind and will help ensure your property is being well maintained.

Aimee Bahk

Property Manager at Florida West Coast Property Management

Curb Appeal

How to Simply Add Value to Your Investment Property

How to simply add value to your investment property

When prospective tenants visits a property, the first thing they see is the exterior also commonly referred to as the homes curb appeal. In a competitive rental market the first impression is lasting on that perspective tenants mind. It pays dividends to invest a little into improving your curb appeal.

Here are my top five inexpensive solutions for improving your curb appeal:

1. Pressure wash the driveway and sidewalk(s)

If the driveway and or sidewalks have not been pressured washed in the last 2 years, generally here in Florida we will see a build-up of dirt, mildew and grime. Please review these before after photos below on properties we manage. Once the pressure washing was completed, I had a 60% increase in prospective tenants – this helped reduce vacancy time!

Before Picture

Before

Simple Tips on Improving Curb Appeal

After

 

2. Trim overgrown shrubs and bushes

Overgrown shrubs and bushes can be a distraction and also if branches are touching the home create an entry path of unwanted pests or insects. You will want to ensure they are properly trimmed and or discarded.

3. Add new mulch

It is surprising how much this can be overlooked, however the difference it can make is amazing. Most home improvement stores will sell bags of mulch for only a couple of dollars each; placing new mulch will make your lawn POP!

4. Mow and trim

If the home has an unkempt or overgrown lawn with weeds, potential prospects might just drive by and not even bother coming to view the home.

5. Add a few plants

If the front of the home has flowering beds that are bare, consider adding a few hearty plants. You will spend little money at the local plant nursery that will give that curb appeal that finishing touch.

The wonderful thing about these curb appeal improvements is that an owner can coordinate directly with the property manager to get items completed. Most of the time this type of work is very affordable and when hiring someone to complete it, your property manager can ensure you have proper records since these improvements could be tax-deductible. Please remember to consult your professional tax advisor regarding your specific situation.

At Florida West Coast Property Management, we look forward to delivering value to our owners!

Aimee Bahk
Property Manager

Sarasota Rental Properties

WE DELIVER VALUE TO OUR OWNERS!

WE DELIVER VALUE TO OUR OWNERS!

As a Property Manager, it is of utmost importance to deliver value to my owners.  Value is not something that can be touched like a physical product, however that does not diminish its importance when managing rental properties.

When I think of delivering value to my owners, I think of the following:

  • Pricing the unit correctly.  Knowing the rental market conditions for the area/neighborhood the home/unit is located in is key. Pricing the unit correctly helps reduce vacancy time.  My owners don’t need an investment generating negative cash flow.  In the same note, it is important not to under-price the unit as well, as this leaves money on the table.
  • Aggressively advertising the unit.  Potential tenants look for units everywhere and using just one approach is not effective.  I prefer to maximize exposure by listing my units on over 50 different rental websites, utilize traditional yard signage and even use social media sites like Facebook, Google+, Twitter and You Tube.
  • Being responsive to inquiries.  Potential tenants will normally have a wide array of potential places to live so it is important to be responsive to inquiries, otherwise potential tenants will find a another rental home elsewhere.
  • Personally showing the unit.  I DO NOT provide potential tenants lock box codes so they can see the unit unsupervised; this can lead to undue risks and potential damages.  Personally showing the also allows me to build a connection with potential tenants.
  • Screening tenants.  When an application is received, I devote time to complete the application due-diligence. Florida West Coast confirms rental history verification, an interview with the previous landlord, collection of most updated income statements, and completing the background screening via Appfolio.  Obtaining this information is critical to ensure potential tenants meet the requirements.
  • Utilizing state of the art systems.  Having a state of the art system allows organization and the ability to streamline managing the investment.  The systems used allow tenants to pay rent online and submit maintenance requests so there is a written record for non-emergency maintenance items.  It provides owners 24/7 access to information on their rental properties, monthly accounting statements and year-end tax reporting documents that help ease the process when owners complete their tax filings.
  • Having an emergency line.  No one wants an emergency to happen in the middle of the night, however it is important to have an emergency line in place for tenants to reach a member of the Florida West Coast Property Management team after business hours.
  • Communicating with tenants.  From time to time, tenants may need to reach their property manager.  It is important to be responsive when a tenant has a question. I am in contact with each tenant throughout their lease to schedule inspections and 60 to 90 days prior to the end of lease. We will discuss renewal options or prepare for end of lease activities like conducting final walk through of property and properly handling the security deposit.
  • Having experience to handle maintenance issues.  Any home, new or old, can have maintenance issues.  In being a Property Manager, it has enabled me to build a great book of licensed and insured contractors and or technicians to call upon.
  • Having a trusted network with Realtors.  I am a licensed Real Estate agent, however I focus on property management only.  I don’t engage in buying for selling properties.  This allows me to build a trusted referral network with Realtors. Realtors can assist my owners if they decide to sell or buy additional rental properties.  In having this network, it allows me to have a great pipeline for potential future tenants.
  • Communication with my owners.  I provide regular updates to my owners on their rental properties.  I pride myself on making myself available to them when they need to talk, promptly responding in addition to providing my owners’ updates provides them a piece of mind.

Providing value to my owners is important to me, it is what I am, and this is what I love to do!

Aimee Bahk

Property Manager