Month: October 2018

Can you lease my home and let me manage it?


Matthew Whitaker - Friday, October 12, 2018

Hey everybody. Matthew Whitaker, back again with another “Question Owners Ask.”

Today’s question is, can you lease my home, and then let me manage it?

In other words, can Gk Houses rent your house and let you manage it once we rent it?

So the answer to that is absolutely yes.

We have a program that we call Easy Tenant Finder, and you can find some details about it on our website.

However, the whole goal of the program is exactly what you’re asking. We can rent the house. We will charge you a one-month leasing fee. So if the house rents for $1,000 it’ll cost you $1,000.

If it rents for $1500, it’ll cost you $1500. The only thing we ask is that you buy into our underwriting criteria, in other words, we’re not gonna…we can’t get into like, you know, finding an absolute, you know, exactly what you’re looking for tenant.

What we do is we use our underwriting criteria for Gk Houses to underwrite your tenant.

This makes sure that we don’t run into any fair housing laws, any violation of Fair Housing Law. So, as long as you’re cool with that, we can definitely help you using Easy Tenant Finder.

My name is Matthew Whitaker, this is “Questions Owners Ask.” I’m with Gk Houses.

My house is leased but nobody is living there


Matthew Whitaker - Friday, October 12, 2018

Hey, everybody, Matthew Whitaker here, shooting another Questions Owners Ask.

Today’s question is, “What if I have a tenant under a lease, but they’re not living in my rental home?

So what do I do about that?” I mean, basically you’re thinking that their house is abandoned and how do you verify that?

So this is really easy question to answer.

The best way to do this, is to serve notice to the tenant, which means, put a notice on the front door, basically saying that you think that the house is abandoned, and in a week, you’re gonna come in if the notice is still on the door, or the tenant hasn’t contacted you. So you put a notice on the door.

If it stays out there for the proper notice day, typically that’s eight days, then you can go in the house and kind of take back the house.

That means that they’ve abandoned it.  So obviously, you might wanna run this by your attorney.

Different areas of the country may be different, so I don’t wanna to act like I’m giving legal advice, but that’s the way we’ve done it in the past.

I’m Matthew Whitaker with gkhouses.

What industry drives rental houses in birmingham al?


Matthew Whitaker - Friday, October 12, 2018

What’s up everybody? I’m going to do a video, tell you on questions owners ask.

What industry is Birmingham, Alabama mostly made of? In other words, what industry drives this city?

And so, there’s really two industries I wanna talk about. The first one is the biggest, which is UAB, University of Alabama at Birmingham.

It has obviously a med school and then there’s obviously a University, and then there’s a hospital as well.

So, that is the biggest industry that drives Birmingham.  It used to be a steel industry, but now it’s a medical industry.

The second thing is banking. It used to be a much bigger banking hub, but it’s still a really large banking hub as a result, of course, there’s a lot of consolidation of banks back, you know, 10 or 15 years ago.

Now, you’re talking about the same people are here that are starting new banks. So banking is a huge industry in Birmingham. So, that’s it.

That’s what drives the industry in Birmingham, Alabama.

I’m Matthew Whitaker, with Gk Houses.

 

How does an HOA affect ruining my home?


Matthew Whitaker - Friday, October 12, 2018

Hey everybody, Matthew Whitaker here doing another version of “Questions Owners Ask” Today’s question is how does an HOA affect ruining my home?

The first thing I think is important is that each HOA has a set of rules, and it’s very important that you get those rules to us so that we can communicate those rules to prospective tenants and to the tenant when they move in.

It’s very confusing and even dangerous to put a tenant in the house without knowing the rules, and they may do some things or have some expectations that the rules won’t allow.

And It’s very important that we get a copy of the HOA rules and regs, so that we can add it as a part of the lease and the tenant knows what they’re getting into.

The next thing I would say is HOAs are particularly picky with rental houses.

It seems like they just sometimes have a vendetta against rental houses, which sometimes is good because it makes sure that you keep up.

Especially if the tenants support tenant, but keep up the neighborhood.

However one of the things I’ve found and we worked really hard to find good tenants, also one of the things I’ve found is that sometimes it helps to pay for certain services like having the lawn sprayed, even having your landscaping done, just to make sure that it always jives with the HOA’s covenants.

That way there’s no question mark around whose responsibility it is, and whether the grass is trimmed exactly like it’s supposed to, and the trees are trimmed back exactly what they’re supposed to.

Sometimes it’s just better for you to pay for some of those services. Landscaping is the first one that comes to mind.

The last thing I would say is it’s also exciting to a HOA manager to know that a professional manager is handling the house.

I think they deal with a lot of one-off landlords. When there’s…

Their business is very similar to ours so it’s very nice for them to be able to communicate with us in the event there’s an issue.

It’s very… For them that now their professional management is involved will very much help. That’s it. That’s “Question That Owners Ask”.

Today’s question was, “How does an HOA affect my property when I’ll try to rent it?”

I’m Matthew Whitaker with Gk Houses.

How do I fire my previous property manager?


Matthew Whitaker - Saturday, October 6, 2018

Hey, it’s Matthew Whitaker here back with another question owners ask. This question is how do I fire my previous property manager?

So we get this question a lot when somebody is coming over from a property manager and so I’m gonna take you through some steps.

First thing I would make sure you look at your management contract.

Unlike our management contract which is like just a 30-day notice, you can get out for any time any reason.

A lot of property managers charge you a ton of fees and maybe you can’t actually even terminate them until the end of the lease or… So that you need to check your management agreement and see what it says.

The next thing I would say is, serve notice in accordance with the management agreement.

Now, typically you can do this via email, some people make you send a snail mail, but make sure you serve notice in conjunction with that management agreement.

The next thing I would say is, ask them to stop leasing the house and ask them to stop doing maintenance on the house.

Now, there are times when you’ll need to do some maintenance on the house. I mean, things will still break. Just because you’re changing managers does not mean things will break.

But particularly around leasing, I wouldn’t even give it to the new manager first even if you’re still paying for some things.

Because once they don’t have to deal with the tenant what is the obligation to put a good tenant in there?

So we’ve had problems with that in the past. Don’t want that to happen to you.

The last thing I would say is, understand that the closeout does take some time. I mean, this is to the, you know, being sympathetic to the previous manager. It is not like a 30-day and all the money is sent.

I mean, we get bills that come in. So just understand that this closeout, even after the actual termination date, is gonna take some time.

So that’s it. Questions owners ask how do I fire a property manager? I’m Matthew Whitaker with Gkhouses.

How do I sell my rental house?


Matthew Whitaker - Saturday, October 6, 2018

Hey everybody. Matthew Whitaker here.

I’m doing a video on “How Do I Sell My Rental House?” This is under the “Question Owners Asked” video series.

I think there’s really three ways to sell your rental house.

The first one is to sell it as is.

What I would say is once the tenant moves out, and before you do any repairs, there’s a market out there for houses that will sell as is.

There’s a market for houses that need work, and you can literally move a tenant out and sell it to that market.

You’ve seen the we buy ugly houses, people, you’ve seen we buy houses kind of what we call bandit signs out.

Those are the type of people that buy houses that need a lot of work. That’s the first way you can sell it.

The second way you can sell it is to sell it with a tenant in it.

A lot of times you can get a little bit more money for this but a lot of times the people that are buying it want a renovated rehabbed house.

If you’ve had a tenant living in there for a long time this is probably not the right thing for you to do if it needs a lot of work, but you can definitely sell it with a tenant in it and I think you can actually get a little bit more money based on someone having income coming in immediately.

The last way I would say

Is once the tenant moves out you spend some money and renovate it and sell it on the retail market to an end user.

This is kind of obviously the area needs to work for this but this is kind of a top dollar way to sell your rental house.

Sell it to an end user, sell it to someone that’s going to live there, sell it to somebody that gets a mortgage or may even pay cash for it. But that’s it.

That’s “How Do I Sell My Rental House?”

If you have any questions you can give us a call.

This is Matthew Whitaker with “Questions Owners Asked” at Gkhouses.

How do tenants pay you rent?


Matthew Whitaker - Saturday, October 6, 2018

What’s up everybody. Matthew Whitaker again with “Questions Owners Ask.”

Today’s question is, how do tenants pay you rent? So there’s really three ways that tenants pay us rent.

The first way is by far the best, and that is through their tenant portal.

So each tenant is given a login ID and password when they move into one of our houses, and the whole goal for us is to get them to pay online.

It’s a much more efficient system for them paying rent. It’s certainly easier for them, and they can use their checking account, and that costs them literally nothing. So all they need is a routing number and an account number.

They can direct deposit into our account, and that posts directly into their system and also gives them a receipt. So if you’re a tenant and you’re listening to this, please pay online, it’s by far the best way to get it done.

The second way is, we get mailed money orders and checks. You know, obviously, that’s kind of the traditional way of people paying rent.

And we’re not, you know, we’re not upset about it, but obviously we would prefer them pay online, but they still mail us checks and money orders.

The last way people pay us rent is they pay us by bringing checks and money orders into our office.

And obviously that’s the least efficient way, because it takes them a lot of time, energy, and effort to get in here and hand us the money, but tenants still do that, and we have boxes here.

So that’s it, that’s how the tenants pay rent.

I’m Matthew Whitaker, with Gkhouses.

I just got a threatening letter from a tenants attorney what should I do?


Matthew Whitaker - Saturday, October 6, 2018

Hey everybody. Matthew Whitaker here.

I’m doing another “Questions Owners Ask.” Today’s question is, “I just got a threatening letter from a tenant’s attorney, what should I do?”

This is pretty scary.

An attorney sends you a letter on behalf of a tenant, and now you’re, like, freaking out because you don’t know what to do.

Well, first of all, let me tell you, I am not an attorney.

I always joke I promised my wife I was gonna be an attorney one day, but I became something better which is a property manager, so she can be proud of that.

I’m not here to give legal advice. I’m just telling you what I typically do in the situation. Run everything through an attorney, consult your attorney before you take these steps.

First thing I would say is,

I always, when there’s a conflict, I always welcome an attorney getting involved on behalf of a tenant.

Typically attorneys are less emotional about the situation.

Typically you can have an objective conversation about the situation and sometimes even solve it a whole lot faster than dealing with the tenant.

The first thing I do before I talk to an attorney is write down everything I know about the situation.

I want to make sure that I have all my facts straight, get all the documentation, all the communication with the tenant.

Generally, I feel like I’m in the right obviously, and so I want to back that up with facts.

There have been a lot of times that I’ve delivered those facts to the attorney, either via email or through the mail, and the situation seems to go away.

Collect all the information you can, gather people that were involved in the situation and make sure you have everything written down that you know of.

Next thing I would say is

Be prepared and email or call the attorney back. Again, these aren’t scary conversations, they’re typically pretty objective.

There are attorneys that are jerks, and so, from time to time, you have to deal with one of those, but generally they’re all pretty much trying to get the situation solved.

Last thing  I would say is,

Again, going back to the fact that I’m not an attorney, I think it’s important for you to, if you ever feel uncomfortable to call your attorney and let them handle it.

Certainly we hate to spend that money, but there are certain cases where it’s best just to pick up an attorney or a phone and call your own attorney and ask them the questions.

That’s it. Matthew Whitaker here with “Questions Owners Ask.”

How much does it cost to evict a tenant in birmingham Alabama?


Matthew Whitaker - Saturday, October 6, 2018

Hey everybody. Matthew Whitaker here doing “Questions Owners Ask.”

Today’s question is, “How much does it cost to evict a tenant in Birmingham, Alabama?”

The first thing you need to know is,

If you’re an LLC, it’s going to cost you a little bit more.

The reason it costs you more in Birmingham is because you’re required to use an attorney to file an eviction if you’re a company, or I guess if you’re incorporated.

Filing fees for an eviction range between 200 and 300 bucks.

The attorney’s fees just depend on what the attorneys cost. Typically an attorney will charge like a flat fee for an eviction.

What you want to make sure is that you get an attorney that understands, you know, Birmingham, Alabama eviction laws, state of Alabama eviction laws, landlord-tenant law of Alabama, and you don’t want to just use any attorney to do this.

A lot of people think it’s really easy, it’s really not.

I mean, you can have a lot of things that will upset that and will make that process drag out a long time.

So that’s it. How much does an eviction cost in Birmingham, Alabama?

That’s “Questions Owners Ask.” I’m Matthew Whitaker.

If I buy a house can you renovate it for me?


Matthew Whitaker - Saturday, October 6, 2018

What’s up, everybody? Matthew Whitaker here. I wanted to do another video.

This video is called “If I Buy a House, Can You Renovate it for Me?” So this is under the “Questions Owners Ask” series.

The answer is absolutely yes, we can renovate the house for you. There’s a few steps we’re going to go through to renovate that house.

The first step is we’re going to go out and write up a report, create

A scope of work on that report. So we’re going to take pictures, put it all in the report. And then this next step is we’re going to create an estimate based on that scope of work, send you the estimate through email.

You’re going to look at it, you may have some questions which we can certainly answer. Just look at the pictures, look at the line item by line item that we’re going to get done. And then you either approve or decline that estimate.

If you approve the estimate, what we ask you to do is go ahead and send the money to us. Now that feels a little bit weird. Most people are like, “I don’t pay for work to get done before it gets done,” and I totally get that.

Now you’re not paying for the work to get done. You send us the money, we put your money in your owner’s account, and then we will disperse that on your behalf which I’ll talk about.

So you send us the money to get it done, we stick it in our trust account. It is safe and sound there.

Next thing we’ll do is we will get our vendors out there to get the work done.

Once the work’s done, and we’re sure that it’s been done we will pay the vendor afterwards. And that feels a lot better to you, but a lot of people don’t understand the mechanics of that.

But that’s the answer to the question. Yes, we can absolutely help you with your rehab.

In fact, we love doing it because we love being able to get these houses in shape and in a condition that we can deliver, we know that will rent, know tenants like.

So I hope you have a great day. This is Matthew Whitaker with Gkhouses.

Property manager reviews in Birmingham AL


Matthew Whitaker - Saturday, October 6, 2018

What’s up everybody? I’m looking a little homeless here. Got my beard on. It’s Sunday afternoon, so, obviously, I hadn’t shaved in a few days.

Today, we’re going to talk about reviews, property manager reviews in Birmingham, Alabama, Nashville, Tennessee, Chattanooga, Tennessee, Little Rock.

Those are the places we are now. Wanna talk about how to read reviews. This is not me positioning for you to look past our bad reviews.

We definitely have some consistent reviews that people have given us that aren’t bad and things that we’re making decisions to change, but want to understand for you how to look at our reviews and how to look at everybody’s reviews.

So first thing I wanna state is,

the star rating does matter. There’s a lot of people in our industry that say, “Well, there’s no way I can have a good reviews and the star rating doesn’t matter.”

And those are the people with the two and three star ratings. Star ratings do matter. It’s very important that your property manager have a high star rating.

What I would say is somewhere north of four stars. Now, keep in mind, you’re not going to have a property manager with five stars, very few of them.

It’s just a hard business to get five stars and because you have tenants and you have conflict and there’s gonna be places like Google that they’ll voice their negative comments about something that we’ve done.  But the star rating does matter.

Number two,

Read the content of the reviews. And I’m looking at my notes over here. Are tenants complaining about the refund check or is there something to the review?

So this is where, you know, if a tenant’s like, “Well they didn’t give me all their money back,” and have a disagreement with us.

Well, that happens a lot. Okay? So you need to know that that’s very normal. You need to know that typically that’s us looking out for our clients who are the owners.

But is there a consistent message in the reviews that is a problem to you? So, one of the consistent messages in our views is that tenant prospects get frustrated because we don’t pick up the phone and answer the phone for a rental house.

We have our self-showing system and we have a way that they can get to that through our website, but one of the…but they get frustrated that they can’t pick up the phone and talk to somebody. And so we’ve seen that consistently throughout our reviews and so now we’re starting to change that.

We’re making changes. We don’t have those yet, today, but we’re making changes to communicate better with our tenants that wanna tell it to us on the phone. We’ve started basically chatting with people on our website. We’ve started hiring people to man that communication with the hope of picking up the phone in the very near future.

The third thing

I would say is are there any owners on there that have legitimate complaints or consistent complaints?

If you got all tenants complaining and very few owners and owners are typically pretty excited about the review or about the company, then does that really make sense that that would be something to be scared of for you?

I really don’t think it does. I think an owner who… Owners will typically be very objective. Obviously, not all owners will be objective, but most owners are very objective about whether a property manager is doing a good job for them or not.

The last thing

I would say is take some of the reviews with a grain of salt. I’ve been called many horrible things. My wife and I like to get on there and every time she’s a mad at me, I can point out to her that other people think that I’m that bad too.

But we’re not ax murderers or anything like that, we’re very simply property managers doing our best to do our job and you need to know that you need to take those with a grain of salt.

So, that’s it. That’s questions that owners ask.

How do I… Today’s question was, “How do I look at reviews?”

I’m Matthew Whitaker with gkhouses.

How do i find a handyman for my rental home?


Matthew Whitaker - Monday, October 1, 2018

do I find

Matthew Whitaker, back again here talking to you Questions Owners Ask.

This question is, where do I find a good handyman to help me with my rental houses?

So, I’ve got a few suggestions for this one but I want to start with saying finding good help particularly right now when the labor market’s so good and people can find jobs pretty much wherever they want, finding good handymen is one of the hardest things that we do as a property manager.

First thing I would say is good luck.

I mean you’re going to be fighting along with the rest of us to find a good handyman.

First place I would look is at your local Home Depot or Lowe’s. I mean that’s a place where these people congregate, coming in, coming out.

They’re willing to hand out cards, they’re willing to help you. And get their cards, ask them what they do. We’ve needed people in the past and we’ve literally hung out at Home Depot all day handing out cards for people.

Next thing I would say is.

My phone just told me that my battery is low. So, next thing I would say is I would look in Craigslist.

Maybe post a job in Craigslist. Again, this is kind of a blanket type way to look for people.

Tell them what you’re looking for. A lot of times handymen will actually post their resumes on Craigslist.

It’s just a great way to find people.

The last thing I would say is

Attend like real estate investor meetings and ask around.

I always say the rule about a great handyman though is you don’t tell anybody about them, but maybe there’s another investor that can’t keep a handyman busy full-time and would love to have some help keeping that person occupied.

So, that’s it. Where to find a good handyman.

Matthew Whitaker with gkhouses. Thank you. Bye-bye.

How do I rent my condo?


Matthew Whitaker - Monday, October 1, 2018

What’s up, everybody? Matthew Whitaker here with another “Questions Owners Ask.”

Today’s question is, how do I rent my condo?  So, this is a question we’re starting to hear more and more particularly in our Nashville office.

Most of  Nashville is being built up, particularly the downtown area with a lot of condo developments.

A lot of people are buying these condo developments as investments, and running condos is becoming harder and harder, particularly with the Airbnb restrictions.

So, people are going more to long term rentals. So, they’re asking the question, how do I rent my condo?

I have three thoughts here.

First one is keeping a pulse on what other people are doing in your community.

As I’ve always said, renting is very much a snapshot in time for people, and so you need to look at what other people are doing in your community.

See what other condos are leasing for. It’s a really easy to compare condos within a community.

Be willing to know the at or less than the condos that you’re competing with, and try to be the next one that runs.

Second thing is be willing to run specials to get noticed.  Most  of the times what happens is in these condos you get lost in the shuffle.  So, be willing to run a special like half off first month’s rent, some sorta gift card.

Do something to get noticed out of the pack. 

Last thing is getting referrals from apps like the Neighborhood app, Facebook groups and just good friends in the condo complex.

A lot of times these condos get rented just because of who you know, or the relationship that you’ve built, whether on your online community or in the condo association community.

That’s another great way to list these houses  that’s it for now.

That’s how do I rent my condo.

I’m Matthew Whitaker with gkhouses.

My tenant is destroying my house what should i do?


Matthew Whitaker - Monday, October 1, 2018

What’s up, everybody?  Matthew Whitaker here.

Gonna do a quick video.

I’m in Chicago attending a conference and I wanted to cover the question, my tenant is destroying my house, what should I do?

So the first thing

I would do is put a notice or give the tenant notice that you’re gonna come see the house. In some areas, that’s like a 48-hour notice that you need to put on the door sent via certified mail.

But I would go and do a thorough inspection of the house. Take pictures, write down a bunch of information.

Destroying the house is a violation of the lease. So this is…you know, you can violate the lease for rent, but you can also violate it for what’s called material noncompliance.

And what you’ll want to do is, if it’s bad enough, you’ll want to evict that person. You can do that by going through certain steps, depending on your location.

Shot a video on how to evict a tenant before, but you may want to go through the steps of eviction.

You may find that it’s not that bad and you may be willing to live with it.

There are times where it’s not that bad and moving the tenant out would just cause me and my…in some situations or our client to spend too much money renovating it again, so it’s better just to kind of roll with it.

So you’re gonna have to make that as kind of a business decision you’re gonna have to make.

But if you want to evict them, you can.

If you don’t want to evict them, then you don’t necessarily have to.

But I’m Mathew Whitaker with gkhouses.

Love to help you more with this if you have a question specific.

This is “Questions Owners Ask.” Thank you.