Month: October 2014

Inexpensive Upgrades to Improve a Home | Property Management Blog

Matthew Whitaker - Friday, October 31, 2014

In property management, part of the job is about attracting the right types of tenants to the right types of homes. If you own a rental property, you want it to be occupied with good tenants. In today’s world, tenants have a wide range of options, and they’ll typically only go to the most attractive and appealing homes on the market. That means your property needs to be in tip-top shape. Fortunately, you don’t have to break the bank to upgrade your home with expensive features, or completely renovate your property. There are inexpensive things you can add to your home to make a difference and make a home more appealing. Install Outdoor Lighting One thing that helps is installing outdoor lighting. Outdoor lighting – especially around the mailbox, along the walkway leading up to the front, around the front door and garage, and out back on the patio/deck – can accomplish a couple of things. It can make a home appear more inviting and sophisticated; it can also make a home appear safer and more secure. Plant Low-Maintenance Foliage A well-manicured and well-landscaped lawn is appealing to virtually any home owner. Make things easier on yourself from a maintenance standpoint and plant foliage that doesn’t require a lot of care and supervision. Suggestions include Elijah Blue fescue, Rose Glow Japanese barberry, hydrangeas, Chinese fringe trees, verbenas, and other similar plants. These all require little maintenance and look great. Clean, Repaint, and Upgrade the Exterior There’s a lot to be said for a home that has a clean and updated exterior. You can add a fresh coat of paint, or simply pressure-clean the entire exterior. Replace old fixtures, such as hinges, knobs, and hangers, with new fixtures that are bright brass or brushed nickel in color. Repaint the front door with a vivid color. Pressure-clean the driveway and walkways, too; a lot of grime can build up over the years. These are all simple and inexpensive things you can do to improve a rental home. Contact us for more property management advice for your portfolio of homes.

Three More Home Remodeling Tips | Alabama Rental Managers

Matthew Whitaker - Saturday, October 25, 2014

Everyone wants a better home. Even if you don’t live in it, and just rent it out as a single-family rental, you want it to be the best it can possibly be. After all, better homes attract higher rents and better tenants. Earlier this year, we gave you three home remodeling tips that can help you add something special to your rental home. As professional Alabama rental managers, we have come across a wide variety of improvements and additions that people have made to improve their homes, and want to share three more ideas with you. Make Sure Your Renovations Match the Home Each home has its own character and style (or should). Sometimes, the identity of a home is so powerful, in terms of how it looks, that it is easy to choose the wrong project or look and feel for an addition. For example, a distinguished Victorian may not be the best home for a sleek, ultra-modern kitchen. Or, a modern, contemporary bathroom may not fit well with the rest of the rooms, which are maybe decorated in a more retro style. Think carefully about what your home currently looks like, and the predominant theme throughout the home. You want to match your renovations to that current look, unless you plan on doing a full-scale renovation and redesigning everything. (In that case, go crazy!) Create an Action Plan for Each Room One thing that really gets in the way of a successful, hassle-free remodel is not planning ahead. You need to meticulously plan everything you want to do for each room, right down to the tiny details. From light fixtures to appliances and even the color of paint you plan on using, write it all down and think it out. This will save you time and money later when you go to execute your plan, because you have all the details mapped out. The last thing you want is to second-guess yourself, or leave out a vital detail, or have to waste time making decisions during the execution phase. Save Money by Choosing Less Expensive Options We all have limited budgets for our remodels, mainly because we want maximum return on investment for the money we spend. That’s why it’s key to choose less expensive options whenever possible to reduce our budgets and still get a great effect. For example, instead of spending thousands of dollars replacing cabinetry in the kitchen, simply resurface your cabinets instead. Or, if a room – like a kitchen – has old vinyl flooring that needs to go, it might have hardwood underneath that can be sanded and resurfaced instead of installing all new flooring. If you need to completely change the look of a room, consider being creative with paint instead of making big structural changes that cost money. You can use wallpaper with whitewash or faux finish paint to create an interesting look that changes the appearance of a room without having to do anything drastic. There’s something to be said for quality, but you also want to control your budget. Look to ways you can reduce your output and still get a satisfactory result.

Taking a Look at Birmingham Real Estate Statistics

Matthew Whitaker - Wednesday, October 15, 2014

As we get deeper into the fall season, it’s good to take a deeper look at real estate statistics that give us insight about the market’s various trends. Earlier, we covered Alabama real estate statistics as provided by the Alabama Center for Real Estate (ACRE). This week, we thought we’d delve a bit deeper into Birmingham real estate statistics that shine some light on trends within the greater metro area, from Homewood to Hoover and from Mountain Brook to Vestavia. The first number that pops out is 6.2 – which is 6.2 months of housing supply for the month of August. Last year, in August 2013, there were 6.7 months. Over the past year, we have seen a 7.5 percent decrease in the amount of available supply at today’s current sales rates. What’s the takeaway from this? In August, equilibrium – the point in a market at which neither buyers nor sellers have an advantage – is anywhere from six to seven months of supply, so we’re right at the edge of a seller’s market in the Birmingham metro area. This past month reported 1,187 homes sold, which is roughly the same as it was last year. There is one key distinction we’d like to make about this figure: it’s above the 1,000-unit threshold, which is the symbolic mark that signifies a healthy real estate market. Birmingham real estate routinely eclipsed this mark prior to the market crash, and we’ve been hitting this figure for the past six months in a row. In terms of supply, there were 7,391 homes in the active inventory in August. This was down 0.4 percent from July and down 6.7 percent from last year. This wasn’t unexpected; we actually anticipate supply to continue to fall throughout the rest of the year. Demand decreased as well, dropping by 10.1 percent from July. Historically, demand increases from July by one percent. A decline in sales isn’t unheard of; peak selling begins in June and declines through the fall/winter selling season. Finally, prices continue to increase. Median sales prices rose by five percent from last year and two percent from last month, suggesting that Birmingham real estate continues to be worth more than it has been over the past few years – a strong trend that hasn’t shown signs of decreasing.

More Reasons to Hire Professional Property Management

Matthew Whitaker - Monday, October 13, 2014

Earlier this year – in March, in fact – we posted a blog titled “Three Reasons to Hire Professional Property Management”. In that post, we covered three reasons why you should hire property managers to handle your rental properties, including getting help with: – Marketing your properties – Maintaining your rental homes – Dealing with paperwork All of the above are very valid reasons why you should hire property management companies to work for you and oversee your portfolio. After all, no one likes paperwork; marketing is essential; and maintenance is a 24/7, can-happen-at-any-time affair that you simply don’t want to deal with. Now, we’ll cover a few more reasons why property management specialists should be in your employ for your single-family rental home. You Don’t Want to Handle Problem Tenants We all wish all of our tenants are model citizens who abide by rules and regulations, pay their rent on time, and don’t cause problems. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case – and you will inevitably come across a tenant that causes problems, no matter how good your screening process is. Fortunately, property managers provide buffers between you and tenants. You get to avoid the stress and awkwardness, and instead have trusted agents representing you who know how to handle a variety of problematic situations. You Need Expert Consultation on Your Properties Property managers are also incredibly valuable when it comes to navigating an ever-changing market. We provide analysis on the Birmingham real estate market for that very reason – because we serve as experts on the real estate trends our owners need to stay on top of in order to have successful investments. Plus, property managers can give you priceless advice on everything to do with your properties, guidance that pays off when you have satisfied tenants in great properties in ideal locations. Contact us if you have any questions about the benefits property management can provide.

How Location Impacts Your Rental Property | Property Management Blog

Matthew Whitaker - Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Earlier, we talked about four things that you need to watch for when you are buying a rental property in Birmingham. As property management pros, we’re used to advising clients on what makes for great buys, and what factors play a role in making these decisions. One of those factors was location. Here, we’ll dive a bit deeper into the role location plays in choosing a rental property to purchase, and why it’s important to consider. Location Is Everything In real estate, location is extremely important. We all know this, but sometimes we forget just how important location is. For starters, the right location impacts demand considerably. Let’s face it – some areas are just less desirable than other areas. A lot of people want to live in certain key areas in the Birmingham area, but there are other locations that have minimal demand because of where they are and the characteristics of the neighborhood. Location impacts demand, which affects how many prospective tenants will want to view your property. If you can’t get a certain number to even come see it, you’re in an uphill battle. Location Is Also About the Home Itself The main factor when considering location is the neighborhood, which involves various things like crime rates, proximity to transportation and work, nearby amenities, and the composition of the neighborhood. But location also involves the home itself. For example, a home may be located on a busy street, which can cut down on demand. A home could also be located at the end of a dead-end road, which impacts accessibility. Or, it could be located in or next to a commercial or industrial area, which can give some people pause when evaluating it. Putting It All Together Carefully evaluate your home’s location before you consider buying a particular property. You need to know how prospective tenants view the area and where the home is actually situated. That way, you can make an informed decision about not only whether or not to buy, but also about how much you plan on charging. Rates are impacted by location, so it’s definitely something to consider. Contact us for more information on various neighborhoods and areas in Birmingham so you can make an informed choice.

Making Home Maintenance Easier for Owners| Property Management Blog

Matthew Whitaker - Tuesday, October 7, 2014

One thing that property owners and investors usually hate to think about, but is a necessity anyways, is home maintenance. Home maintenance can be a chore, especially if you own multiple properties. There’s a lot of moving parts in a house that can go wrong without notice, causing tenants to pick up the phone and dial your number. Here is some advice on dealing with home maintenance and making it go a bit more smoothly. Check the Major Systems Often The property you own has several systems that work together to keep the home livable. These include: – HVAC – Electrical – Plumbing – Roofing Those are the big four. The first thing to know is how old each system is, and if any of the systems have parts that need to be replaced soon. This is especially crucial in older homes that may not have been renovated lately. Each of these systems can result in major dollars being spent if they break, so the best thing to do is to do preventative maintenance on them before they become a problem. Create a Master Inspection Checklist To make your job easier, it’s best to create a master inspection checklist – one that hits every room, every system, and every component to make sure it’s all working properly. We created a home inspection checklist for the interior of the home that you can use to catch the big and small stuff that can break and cause problems. Hire a Property Management Company Arguably, the best way to make home maintenance easier for investors and owners is to hire a property management company to do it for you. Gone are the nights where you have to field a call late at night and make arrangements right then to have a problem fixed – or even go over to the home and fix it yourself. By turning to a property management company, you can have trusted professionals check on your home and make any needed repairs around the clock, without you having to worry about it. Contact us for more information on stress-free home maintenance for your properties.