Month: June 2014

A Home Inspection Guide for Property Owners: The Exterior

Matthew Whitaker - Thursday, June 26, 2014

Keeping a home in proper shape can be tough. Home maintenance is one of those things that is never finished, and with all the things that can go wrong in a property, it can be exhausting. Fortunately, as professional property management specialists, we’ve seen it all. Over the years we’ve helped to keep countless homes in shape, and run into the same problems time and time again. That’s why we’ve compiled this simple home inspection guide – to give you a way to systematically inspect your home and keep it up to par for your tenants. We’ll start with the home’s exterior. Next week, we’ll cover the inside of the home. Checking the Home’s Exterior The Roof Inspect your roof twice a year, once in the spring and once in the fall. Look for missing shingles, damage, and areas with high wear and tear. Also look for signs of pests. Foundations Inspect at least once a year. Check for cracks, deterioration, bulges, leaning walls, and signs of moisture. Checking for moisture is especially important if you have a basement. Check also for signs of termites and other pests if you have a wooden crawlspace. Windows and Doors Inspect twice a year, once in the spring and once in the fall. Check for working locks, broken or damaged glass panes, cracks, drafts, deteriorated caulk and seals, and loose fixtures. Gutters Inspect your gutters twice a year in the spring and fall. Clear them of debris, look for split seams, and inspect for loose connections. Paint and Siding Inspect twice a year. You’re looking for cracks, moisture, mold or mildew, and paint that is peeling, bubbling, or cracking. Improper paint can lead to mold growth, which can damage your home’s exterior. Checking your home consistently is the best way to guard against expensive home repairs. Contact us for more information about how our professional property management services can take care of maintenance for your rental property and take this burden off your hands.

Top Activities to Do in Birmingham in the Summer | Property Management Blog

Matthew Whitaker - Monday, June 23, 2014

As professional property management specialists, we know great real estate is about great locations. We like to stay intimately connected with the areas that we serve, and that means keeping track of what’s going on in the community. For tenants in the Birmingham metro area, there’s a lot to do in our communities this summer. Here is a quick rundown of some of the top activities to do for the summer season. Alabama Splash Adventure In case you haven’t been to Birmingham’s own water park, Alabama Splash Adventure, this summer is a great time to try it out. The water park was just purchased by new owners and has added a ton of new attractions and features that Birmingham residents are sure to enjoy. If you’ve never been, stop by and give it a try. Birmingham Barons Baseball What screams summer more than baseball? Going to a Birmingham Barons baseball game is a perfect way to spend an afternoon or evening during the summer in Birmingham. Their new park, located at Regions Field in downtown Birmingham, is a marvel, and the games are sure to entertain. Go with friends or take the whole family. Barber Motorsports Park Birmingham also has its own motorsports park. At Barber Motorsports Park, you can take in events such as the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama, Triumph SuperBike Classic, and other high-speed, octane-fueled events. This summer’s calendar has a host of awesome events, so stop by to check one out (or visit the Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum). Golfing on Birmingham Golf Courses Of course, no summer in Birmingham is complete without a trip to the links. There are a ton of golf courses in the metro Birmingham area, and many of them are open to the public. Here is a full list of golf courses, including two designed by Robert Trent Jones. Birmingham has a lot to do in the summer (and all throughout the year). What are your favorite things to do in our area?

Five Things to Look For When Touring a Rental Property | Professional Alabama Rental Managers

Matthew Whitaker - Thursday, June 19, 2014

Are you in the market for a rental property? Whether you’re looking for a condo, a single-family home, a townhouse, or an apartment, there are certain things you should look for when checking out a property. After all, you’re evaluating the property – and the landlord – as much as they are evaluating you. We’ve seen it all as professional Alabama rental managers. Here are five things to check when touring a property. Check Your Water As you make your way through the property, check the water. You want to check the water pressure by turning on faucets, flushing the toilet, etc. You also want to check the water cleanliness – make sure it isn’t brown or murky. Check the Appliances Appliances break every now and then, but a good landlord stays on top of it. Make sure the appliances work. Test them to ensure they are in good working order and that there aren’t any issues that need attention. Check the Windows Check your windows to ensure that they’re in one piece, are in good working order, and aren’t allowing air into the home in the form of drafts. Drafty windows (and doors, for that matter) can increase your utility bill if you are responsible for it, and can make a home uncomfortable. Check the Electrical Do a thorough check of the electrical system. You don’t have to pop open a circuit panel or anything, but check the lights and make sure they work. Test a few electrical sockets, too. Check the Home’s Security Finally, test the security. Make sure all of the locks work properly. Are there deadbolts for extra security? Check and see if there is an alarm system, too. You may not need nor want one, but it’s good to note if you have one or not. Also check for scuffs, scrapes, and scratches in the paint throughout the home. You’ll need to make sure you spot any blemishes or damage before you sign a lease anyway, to make sure that you’re not dinged for the damage when you leave the home. A home should be in good condition when it is shown to you. Anything less suggests that you are about to rent from a landlord that doesn’t show the proper amount of care for his or her properties. Contact gkhouses for Alabama rental managers that you can trust!

Real Estate Trend: More Americans Deciding to Pass on Homeownership

Matthew Whitaker - Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The age-old debate about whether you should rent or buy is one that has been a part of the real estate market ever since the American Dream of homeownership was conceived. Today, amidst a real estate market marked by rising home prices and falling inventory – as well as continued difficulty with qualifying for a home loan for many – the “dream” of homeownership isn’t a dream at all for an increasing number of Americans. According to a survey by the National Foundation for Credit Counseling, 18 percent of Americans believe a home mortgage isn’t worth the risk associated with buying a house and taking on that much debt. This correlates strongly to a previous finding from the Census Bureau – one that showed the lowest rate of home ownership in 19 years (64.8 percent). The reasons vary; some Americans still can’t qualify for a loan, or don’t have the down payment saved up for a loan (even for loans that don’t require the traditional 20 percent down). Even people who can qualify for a loan, though, are choosing not to in greater numbers. There is more perceived risk in owning a home, as the recent housing market crash showed us. Plus, owning a home cuts down on mobility; it is far easier to relocate if you have a lease than if you own a mortgage and are suddenly faced with the prospect of selling your home. Not to mention, people who rent believe they save money in the long run by forgoing taxes, maintenance costs, and other associated costs. For those in the rental market, reports like these are good signs that the rental market is healthier than ever and continuing to go strong. As professional Alabama rental managers, we’ve definitely noticed a surge in this area alone in the number of people looking to rent, and expect it to continue. What do you think? Is owning a home still a part of the American Dream? Contact gkhouses today to learn how our professional Alabama rental managers can help!

Three High-Value Upgrades for your Rental Home | Property Management

Matthew Whitaker - Monday, June 9, 2014

If you have a rental property, you may be like some of our professional property management clients: you want to rent your property while it appreciates in value so you can sell it down the road and lock in profits. If that’s the case, adding value to your home through home upgrades is a wise choice. You can make your rental property more attractive to tenants, command higher rents, and get more money for your property when you go to sell, all in one fell swoop. Here are three best value upgrades for your rental property. Replacement Projects One of the easiest ways to add value to your home is to replace key portions of the home. Replacement projects don’t have to be anything major. Simply replacing doors, windows, siding, and fixtures can make your home look brand-new and more appealing to a potential tenant or to a buyer. This is especially true if you can find energy-efficient versions of doors and windows, or more durable siding that also looks attractive. New siding in particular can pay off; on average, homeowners recouped 92.8 percent of the cost according to one study. Kitchen Remodeling You can also remodel a kitchen. Kitchens are high-visibility rooms that almost any buyer wants to see. It can be a make-or-break deal. A renovation of the kitchen, including revamping appliances and counter-tops, can recoup as much as 92.9 percent of the cost, according to a study. Kitchen remodels add value because people want great-looking kitchens with plenty of usability. It’s not just about what your kitchen looks like; it’s also about what it can do, and that typically means having solid appliances. Bathroom Remodeling Finally, remodeling a bathroom – or even going as far as adding a bathroom – can pay off in a big way. Bathroom remodels consistently provide great return on investment. People look to bathrooms as well as kitchens to determine if a home has serious value or not. A great-looking and comfortable bathroom, with plush amenities, can go a long way in making your home look great. This is especially crucial if your home has one fewer bathroom than most homes in the neighborhood. If you have one bathroom and the norm is two, you might want to consider adding another bathroom to the home. Contact us for more property management advice about getting the most from your investment.

The National Real Estate Market Continued to Improve in April

Matthew Whitaker - Saturday, June 7, 2014

As professional property managers, we like to keep track of the real estate market, not just in Birmingham and Alabama but across the nation. Our clients value our real estate expertise, and depend on us for our knowledge of the market and major trends. Arguably, the major trend of the year has been the housing price climb. Housing prices have continued to rise virtually every month over the past year. This has had a big impact on several key areas of the real estate market. For starters, homes are becoming more expensive to buy, which means the rental market has benefited because more would-be buyers are continuing to rent, thus driving up rents as well as driving down vacancies. Additionally, higher prices are contributing to fewer foreclosures and fewer homeowners who are in negative equity, which is a big relief to those who bought properties at the peak of the market in 2005 and 2006. We saw this trend taper off slightly in March, but April roared back. Prices grew by 9.4 percent year-over-year from April 2013, with a median sales price of $289,932. Prices also went up by 3.6 percent from March 2014. All of these price increases – especially some of the double-digit monthly increases we’ve seen over the past two years – has given pause to some investors, who fear a repeat of the housing bubble of 2005-2006. Fortunately, the rate at which prices have accelerated has slowed. This time last year saw a 4.6 percent month-over-month price increase, so already there is a bit of friction in the market. This friction will gradually slow the rate at which home prices are increasing, which will alleviate concerns of a bubble. Contact us for more detailed information about the Alabama rental markets and housing markets or if you are looking for professional property managers.