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10 Property Management Tips to Help Avoid Holiday Fires

For most people, the holiday season represents a time for family festivities, good cheer and decking the halls. Christmas trees or menorahs are put up, wreaths welcome visitors at the front door, and strings of sparkly, blinking lights drape balconies and clubhouses at apartment complexes. But what few consider is that these decorations can contribute significantly to holiday fires. Dry holiday trees and lighted candles comprise some of the greatest dangers. Is your property ready for the holidays? The statistics are a stark reminder that decorations – and other holiday festivities – should be approached with care.

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), U.S. fire departments responded to an average of 240 home fires per year that started with Christmas trees from 2005-09. Nearly half of these fires were caused by electrical problems, and one in four resulted from a heat source that was too close to the tree. Also, half of all candle fires start because candles are placed too close to flammable objects.

By following a few fire prevention tips and measures suggested by the American Red Cross and NFPA, the risk of fire resulting from holiday fun can be greatly reduced. Here are 10 tips that property owners and managers can use to educate apartment residents and staff when decking the halls:

1) When using an artificial tree, wreath or garland, be sure that the product is labeled, certified or identified by the manufacturer as fire-retardant.

2) When choosing a fresh tree, make sure the green needles don’t fall off when touched. Before placing it in the stand, cut 1-2” from the base of the trunk. Add water to the tree stand, and make sure someone is responsible for watering the tree daily.

3) Make sure the tree and other holiday decorations are not blocking an exit, and that they are at least three feet away from any heat source, like fireplaces, space heaters, radiators, candles and heat vents or lights.

4) Use lights that have the label of an independent testing laboratory, and make sure you know whether they are designed for indoor or outdoor use. Replace any string of lights with worn or broken cords, or loose bulb connections. Connect no more than three strands of mini-light sets or a maximum of 50 bulbs for screw-in bulbs.

5) Never use candles to decorate the tree. Artificial candles are an available and safer alternative.

6) Never leave children or pets alone in a room with a lit candle.

7)Always turn off all holiday lights before leaving the home, office or clubhouse, and before going to bed.

8) After the holidays, get rid of live decorations. Dried-out trees, wreaths, and garlands are a fire hazard and should not be left in the home, garage, storage building, or placed outside on the property.

9) Do not hang decorations from fire sprinklers. Also, make sure smoke alarms are in working order.

10) When hanging decorations, use the correct ladder for the job and have help on hand, especially for tough jobs.

The holidays can quickly turn from joyful to tragic when a fire occurs. By taking simple precautions, property owners and tenants can avoid potential fire hazards and make this time of year a healthy and happy one.

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New MRS satellite office opening in October 2017

Our coverage area is expanding and so is our MRS Team! Our new satellite office will open in mid October 2017 in Gwinnett County. We manage hundreds of homes and commercial properties all over GA and opening this office will allow us to service our owners/tenants even faster! If any of our fellow agents know of anyone looking for management please consider us for the opportunity.

Updated Property Management Coverage area:
My Rent Source provides property management services to Coweta, Fayette, Cobb, Forsyth, Barrow, Bartow, Carroll, Douglas, Paulding, Cherokee, Henry, Troup, Meriwether, Gwinnett, Spalding, Pike, Clayton, DeKalb and Fulton County.

Contact us today at (404) 419 6459 or at


How Investing in ‘Turnkey’ Property Works!

The housing market is slowly coming back from the doldrums of a few years ago, but that hasn’t changed one striking fact – almost anywhere in the U.S., in the long-term, it’s still cheaper to buy a home than it is to rent one. According to the real estate website Trulia, buying is 37.7% cheaper when you look at the numbers nationwide (for more on these figures see Trulia’s calculations).

For real estate investors – including part-timers with only a few homes to their name – that imbalance provides a golden opportunity. One of the trends in recent years has been buying up so-called “turnkey” properties that require a lot less time and effort to rent out.

What makes these homes unique is that they’ve already been rehabbed – usually by a specialized turnkey real estate company – before they’re put on the market. In fact, there’s often a renter in the home already when the sale closes. Typically, those same firms also offer property management services to the investor. That means they’re the ones who get a call when the air conditioner breaks down, not you.

Turnkey properties are proving especially popular with investors based in more expensive markets far from where the units are located, such as New York City. Unable to find affordable properties in their market, these folks can generate cash flow by snatching up homes in another part of the country.

Know Your Property:
While turnkey homes usually require quite a bit less time than other types of real estate, investors shouldn’t underestimate the amount of research they have to do.

The biggest question mark, of course, is whether the property itself is a good value. Some novice investors get so enchanted by the term “turnkey” that they assume all homes with that label are fail-proof. Unfortunately, that’s not the case.

Experts say it’s always a good idea to visit the house or apartment building in person before sealing a transaction, even if that means hopping on a plane. A home is a major purchase and investment, so it’s crucial to know exactly what you’re getting. Seeing the property up close also gives you a better sense of the neighborhood, which will have a significant impact on the property’s long-term marketability.

For added security, seasoned investors say it’s always a good idea to get a professional home inspection as well. The rehab company might wow you with a dazzling kitchen and fully renovated bathrooms, but you want to make sure the less-conspicuous features of the home – the furnace and roof, for example – are in just as good shape.

Know Your Property Manager:
By definition, turnkey investors are putting a lot of faith in their property management firm. The last thing you want is a company that’s slow to handle problems and can’t get new tenants to replace the ones who leave. That makes it imperative to do your homework on the management firm before going down the real estate investment path. Here are some of the questions you’ll want to ask:

How much experience does the firm have?
On average, how long does it take to find a new tenant for its properties?
Does it provide monthly statements that can help you keep track of expenses and income?
What fees does it charge?
A face-to-face meeting can go a long way, but it also doesn’t hurt to get referrals from other clients of the firm, who can point out its strengths and weaknesses.

Know Your Ownership Arrangement:
Most companies will sell the home to you outright, but others create a limited liability company or corporation and ask to become a general partner in that LLC.

One of the reasons they may want to stay on the title is to make things easier; if there’s a repair to be made, they don’t have to get your approval to fix it, spend money, etc. But this approach can also create a lot of unintended headaches. The simpler route, many advisors feel, is to create a separate expense account that the property manager can access as needed for minor repairs and preventative measures. You remain the sole name on the property title.

Financing Your Turnkey Home:
Despite the recent Fed hike, purchasing a turnkey home is still a good call in today’s low-interest environment. As of January 2017, the interest rate for a 30-year conventional fixed rate mortgage is 4.25% with an APR of 4.323%. For a 20-year conventional fixed-rate mortgage the average interest rate is 4.125% with an APR of 4.225%. And for a 10-year fixed rate mortgage, the average interest rate is 3.625% with an APR of 3.751%. (Based on figures from

Know the Pitfalls:
While it may sound like a great way to bring in some extra revenue, it’s important to realize that real estate investing isn’t for everyone. There’s always the threat of some unforeseen calamity, from a sudden property tax hike to chronic maintenance issues to accidents (fire, falling trees, etc.). Buyers should have the nerve – not to mention the extra cash – to deal with these surprises. For other considerations, see What does asset management mean in regards to real estate?

Experienced investors also say it’s important to view turnkey properties as a long-term undertaking. Unlike stocks and other relatively liquid investments, homes can take a while to sell. So if owning a rental isn’t something you can commit to for years, it’s probably not worth getting involved in the first place.

The Bottom Line:
Turnkey properties are an interesting alternative for people without the time or ability/interest to physically renovate or maintain a real estate investment. To be sure, investing in real estate is never a risk-free endeavor. But these properties can be an attractive option for those looking to diversify their assets without encountering the day-to-day hassles of being a landlord (see Top Alternative Investments To The Stock Market).

Investors pay a premium to acquire homes in move-in condition, so their potential returns aren’t as high as those for folks who flip older unit themselves. They also have to pay someone to manage the property, which further cuts into the bottom line. Even so, some of the more successful turnkey buyers can generate profits in excess of 10%. To understand more about return on investment (ROI), see How To Calculate ROI For Real Estate Investments. For another property investment alternative, real estate investment trusts (REITs), see 5 Types of REITs And How To Invest In Them.

by Daniel Kurt

5 Tips to Get Your Rental Properties Ready for Spring

Cleaning rental properties, coweta, cobb county, marietta, newnan

Get Your Rental Properties Ready for Spring in Georgia. It may seem hard to believe, given the number on the thermometer, but spring is right around the corner. It’s time to start taking the proper measures to prepare your properties so that the change in season goes off without a hitch. That said, here are 5 things you should add to your to-do list to effectively get your rental properties spring-ready.

Check Air Systems:
Before we know it, we’ll all have forgotten about the chill of this winter and be complaining about the hot weather. If your properties have air conditioning units, now’s a good time to check them to make sure they’re still working properly. Filters should also be cleaned, and any routine maintenance should be scheduled as soon as possible so that everything will be good to go when the time comes.

Test Fire Safety Items:
The change of seasons provides an excellent reminder to check all fire safety items to make sure they are all in good working order. Smoke detectors should be tested and batteries changed. Fire alarms should also be tested, and inspected by a professional, along with items like fire extinguishers. Anything not found to be up to par should be replaced immediately.

Get a Jump on Landscaping:
Once the snow has melted and the ground sufficiently thawed, it’s a good idea to get a jump on your landscaping duties so they’ll be complete in time for spring. Check lawn areas to find spots that may need reseeding and plant flowers to spruce up the look over the coming months.

Clean the Exterior:
Check for areas that could use a good power-washing. Wash the outside of windows and clean screens to remove dust and dirt buildup that may have occurred over the past year. You’ll be amazed how a simple exterior cleaning can really breathe new life into your property.

Over time, common areas of your properties may become cluttered with stuff, like shovels and yard furniture. As spring approaches, make it a point to tidy up these areas. Remember – prospective tenants will often drive by a property before deciding whether to make an appointment to see it, so make their first impression a good one by keeping the outside looking clean and inviting.

One of the most important components of successful property management is making sure the houses, apartment buildings, condos or offices you own are kept in good condition. Spring is the perfect time to do so. By adding these 5 simple things to your task list, your properties will be in tip-top shape and ready for the warmer weather in no time! Are you too busy to inspect your property? Call a representative from My Rent Source Property Management and we will inspect the property for you. Contact us at 404 419 6459 or

Article by: By Joseph Slonimsky

What Is The Rental Rush?

What Is The Rental Rush?
Across the country, the “rental rush” is starting to set in, and for the first time since the housing market bubble busted in 2008, home prices are at the highest ever. The housing prices are having an unintended effect on the rental market, which has led to a growth spark within the property management industry as a whole.

Rental Rush Factors:
A combination of factors has caused this massive shift and is driving the rental rush, some of which include:
– The rise in new and previously owned home prices
– The decrease in the price of rentals from 2009 until 2011, which is helping those families with high rental costs

Lowest Rental Vacancies Since the Housing Crash:
According to the American Housing Survey data compiled by the U.S. Census Bureau, the number of families renting single-family homes has increased, and rental vacancies are at their lowest rate in years. In fact, the U.S. Census Bureau report shows that Los Angeles and New York have the lowest rental vacancy numbers at 50.8 percent and 48.9 percent of rentals rented, respectively.
The report also shows that the number of families that have rented single-family homes increased to 38 million, and the Bureau expects that number to increase even more over the next two years – up to 41 million rentals of single-family homes. Overall, according to the report, the prices of homes for sale have increased so much since the low of 2008 that it resulted in residential renter-occupied housing having increased overall by about 34 percent, although in some cities, these numbers top out at about 70 percent.

The question is how can property managers take advantage of this rental rush on and offline?
According to a press release issued July 3 of this year, property owners who rent these single-family homes are beginning to understand the need for property managers. Because the nature of the property management industry is to make renting simple for property owners, a good number of landlords who initially had no intention of renting their homes out to others are hiring managers for their properties for a number of reasons. Some issues property managers take care of include: Collecting rent, security, and other monies, Tenant screenings including background and credit checks at times, Handling problem tenants, evictions, and neighbor complaints, Managing property maintenance

Software as a Solution:
With the increasing demand for rental properties comes increasing need for property managers, all of whom must find a way to take advantage of the rental rush and help the property owners at the same time. Fortunately, property management software is available that can help them accomplish the task. The features available from the software can help quell the anxieties of managers whom have seen an increase in demand for their services. Some of the basic options include everything from website design and online rental application collection to collecting rent online, workflow and work order management, and tenant screenings. Each of these aspects of the software helps save time, decrease stress, and decrease vacancies. At My Rent Source Property Management we use AppFolio, leading industry standard.

Predicted Rental Trends:
The demand for property management services has increased with the increase in rentals, and the demand will continue to grow over the next five years. Only about 50 percent of current renters plan to purchase a home. That number is an overall decrease from the last five years of available Census data.
Considering the coming rental trends predicted by the Census Bureau, scalable software solutions make streamlining on and offline rental management needs a no-brainer. Helping property managers keep up with the rental rush is accomplished efficiently, making property owners happy –one main aspect of property management that keeps the property owners coming back for services, and keeps renters in the properties longer.

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Posted on 16. Aug, 2013 by Tara Armbruster in Real Estate

Top 5 Winterizing Tips to Protect Your Rental Home

mrs_winterizeNo matter where you live it seems Old Man Winter has definitely arrived. If renters and landlords are not careful, they can be caught off guard, putting both their finances and families at risk.

1. Turn off exterior faucets. Un-drained water in pipes can freeze, which will cause pipes to burst as the ice expands. Start by disconnecting all garden hoses and draining the water that remains in faucets. If you don’t have frost-proof faucets (homes more than 10 to 15 years old typically do not), turn off the shut-off valve inside your home.

2. Remove leaves around your outside unit. The HVAC unit is likely your home’s largest operating system. The compressor part of your air conditioner is located on the exterior of your home and can become inefficient with debris and leaves blocking it. You can even use a wet dry vacuum or your hands to remove the debris from the bottom for manual cleaning. Wear gloves if using your hands for manual cleaning and turn off your main breaker first – just to be safe.

3. Clean your gutters. Leaves clogging your gutters can cause big problems any time of the year. During winter months, leaves can potentially cause melting ice and snow to backup into your attic, and even your basement. Be sure to pay particular attention to gutters that have branches directly over them. Not all trees shed their leaves at the same time so you may need to check the gutters even in the winter months.

4. Check your furnace filter. It’s important to pay special attention to your homes operating systems during the winter months. Something as simple as a dirty filter can interfere with the free flow of air, leading to higher fuel costs, overheating and eventual shutdown of your furnace.

5. Schedule a furnace tune-up. A furnace tune-up not only includes cleaning that keeps your furnace running efficiently, but it also catches small problems before they turn into big problems that can not only cause inconvenience, but danger to you and your family. Even a small problem can lead to gas leaking into your home or dangerous carbon monoxide levels. Carbon monoxide (CO) is a deadly, colorless, odorless, poisonous gas. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, on average, about 170 people in the United States die every year from CO produced by non-automotive consumer products. We recommend a good quality carbon monoxide detector in your bedroom and the main area of your home. Be mindful these detectors typically need to be replaced every five to seven years. Batteries in all detectors, including smoke and fire, need to be replaced annually.

Contact My Rent Source Property Management with questions on winterizing.

by Mike Levitin

10 Tips For Buying a Rental Property

mrs_for rentLooking to diversify your investments and take advantage of the current dip in real estate prices? While by no means a passive investment, if you’re up to the challenge, residential rental property ownership can provide not just additional short- and long-term income, but tax benefits as well.

My own experience with six rental properties has taught me a few things worth sharing.

1. Buy at the right price:
A bargain now will help you to better withstand fluctuations in property value over time so you can profit if and when you eventually sell. Whether working with a realtor or solo, you need to develop a deep understanding of what constitutes a “value” price in the neighborhood(s) you’re looking at. As an investor, you can keep making low-ball offers and wait for the deal you want, but great bargains generally get snapped up, so you need to be able to act quickly once your target’s in sight.

You also need to benchmark rental prices for comparable units in the area, getting a feel for demand. The local classifieds are a great starting point for this, and a few hours of research should give you a good basis for determining what you can charge. Just make sure to factor in for utilities (electric, gas, oil, water, sewer, cable, etc.) if they’re included.

Depending on your personal goals, there may not be enough of a spread between what you will pay out monthly in mortgage, taxes, and utilities and what you can charge. Figure out what your spread needs to be, and analyze every house you consider against this amount. My rule of thumb, since I’m looking to make a yearly profit without much additional out-of-pocket investment beyond the down payment, is that there needs to be at least a $500 difference per month between income and costs. Of course, a bigger spread is preferable, as it means more profit. If you’ve got a few good options to consider, the spread can aid in your decision-making.

2. Find the right neighborhood:
Rental properties don’t always make good neighbors, but there are a few tricks to making it work. Overall, it’s important to find a community where your rental property will have a good chance of being accepted, and the ritziest corner of town may not be it. On the other hand, it’s hard to find and keep good tenants in bad areas, where crime rates may be higher.

I’ve had the best luck with solid working-class neighborhoods, generally middle to lower income areas where tradesmen and even some businesses might reside, intermingled with the houses. One can often tell these neighborhoods by the work vans and trucks parked in the driveways. Not only do the residents understand the value of hard work, they appreciate the effort I invest in rehabilitating and improving my properties. Your presence in the neighborhood should help to make it a better place.

Regardless of what neighborhood you choose, you never want your property to be the worst-looking one on the street, or complaints and possibly citations may follow. If you choose a property which visibly needs maintenance, you should budget to correct these issues within the first year, and ideally prior to renting it at all. This helps to show the township or city officials that you’re one of the good landlords, committed to keeping your property up, and can make a huge difference in your experiences over the life of the property. Each property you own serves as a reference to your work, abilities, and commitment.

3. Be aware of local rental regulations:
In many locales, rental properties are treated more like businesses than residences, and while 8×10 might constitute a proper bedroom in your personal home, it likely won’t be considered such for a rental property. In one local township where we presently own three properties, there are minimum ceiling heights (7′) and square footage (100 sq. ft.) for bedrooms, substantially different from what is required for residential homes. Occupancy is calculated by the township based on the square footage of the unit, so what the local realtor touts as a four bedroom home may only legitimately be a two bedroom home if rented.

Township-enforced renovations can be a massive expense; in fact, I personally know someone who paid nearly $50,000 to get two basement bedrooms and a bathroom upgraded to meet this code. He’d bought the house with a “finished basement” which the previous owners had completed without a permit. Because rental properties are treated as businesses, he was not allowed to do the work himself but had to hire an architect to draw and seal the plans, then licensed plumbers, electricians, and building contractors to do the work. It is a safe assumption that you’ll need to bring your property into accordance with local rental regulations prior to your earning any income from the property. Knowing the issues, you can budget accordingly.

4. Ensure proper parking is available:
In one local township, parking requirements for rental and residential real estate differ substantially. While almost anything goes for residential homes, for rentals, one paved off-street parking space is required for all tenants old enough to hold a driver’s license, whether or not they actually have a license or own a car. A house rented to a family of two fiftysomething adults, an 18 year old son and 20 year old daughter would require 4 parking spaces.

Other jurisdictions may institute a flat, per-property parking space requirement or even a sliding scale based on square footage. More and more municipalities are passing such regulations, which are often conditions for licensure. Landlords are being forced to either retrofit their properties to meet the new requirements or throw in the towel and sell, as some lots lack the space to provide sufficient paved parking.

Besides meeting existing regulations, off-street parking is desirable for landlords seeking quality tenants in areas where cars are de rigeur. People who care about their cars don’t like to park them on the street, so offering a protected parking spot can help you to attract better tenants.

5. Look for simple construction:
That Victorian home you’ve been ogling may feature lovely leaded glass windows, but you’ll never find a suitable replacement at the local home improvement store. A slate roof is a beautiful thing to behold, but can be terribly expensive to repair. And if the roof’s very steep, costs could go up even further. A house which has simple, solid construction, where everything’s easy to access and uses relatively standard materials, is generally the easiest and most inexpensive to maintain.

As some building contractors will tell you, the shape of your structure provides a general measure of its complexity. Count the corners of your building. Four-corner buildings are often simplest to maintain and add on to, and it goes up from there.

When examining a potential investment property, consider ease of access to the heating, cooling, plumbing, and electrical systems. A panel or wall behind the shower allows quick access to plumbing in case of a problem, whereas if that shower backs up to another bathroom, you might be looking at removing a whole tiled wall. Complicated landscaping may be expensive to maintain as well; I look for properties with a simple, small lawn, nice manageable planting bed, and ideally a large rock garden or patio. Less maintenance for your tenants and for you.

6. Beware of houses built on a cement slab:
Not having a basement can cost you much more than storage space. In some places, like parts of Florida and Texas, all houses are slab construction, so real estate investors have no other options. Even then, it’s important to understand the issues with this type of construction, as it can have major financial impact over time.

Generally, in such structures, ductwork, heating pipes, plumbing and electric lines can all be buried in or beneath the slab. If your plumbing pipes are set beneath the cement, to fix a simple leak you may end up jackhammering out the floor. Moisture and drainage issues are exacerbated in structures which are built on a slab. I’ve seen a number of slab homes which are set low to the ground, making flooding more possible and more damaging in areas without proper grading and drainage.

And any time you have a slab home, you’re looking at less living space because you may lose a room to utilities such as the furnace and water heater. It’s a safety violation to house these items within the bedrooms, so they’ll need a room or walled space all their own.

7. Look out for safety issues:
An excellent value for the money, a licensed home inspector can help to identify potential safety and maintenance issues and even provide ballpark estimates for correcting these. I would personally never purchase an investment property without consulting one, as too many potential dangers lurk within and behind the walls which can turn your House Beautiful into The Money Pit.

Radon, lead paint, asbestos and mold are four primary concerns, as they pose significant health risks and can be expensive problems, requiring specialists to remediate. My insurance company will not even insure a property which it believes to have lead paint, and I’ve been hearing reports lately about local code officials doing tests which penetrate the top layers of paint to reveal any presence of lead below.

As a landlord, there are certain things you need to pay special attention to in order to prevent potential lawsuits. These include:

Exterior stairways without handrails or where ice/snow/rain may cause a slip hazard
Steep steps
CO and smoke detectors (fire hazard)
Obstructed doorways or exits (fire hazard)
Broken windows/glass
Cracks or unevenness in sidewalks, driveways, or walkways (trip hazard)
Open electrical circuits, outlets or wires (electrocution hazard)
Unfenced swimming pools (drowning hazard)
Lack of GFI outlets near kitchen/bathroom water facilities (electrocution hazard)
As a rental property owner, you have an increased risk of lawsuits overall, so safety is a primary concern, but accidents still happen. Owners often choose to limit their personal liability risk by establishing each property as its own LLC. It is advisable to consult a lawyer to ensure that your other assets will be protected in the event of a lawsuit.

8. Stay close to home:
Absentee landlords tend to find out about and resolve problems less quickly, which in turn can make them bigger, more expensive problems. Municipalities are none too fond of absentee landlords, which can also lead to bigger, more expensive problems, like fines and even citations.

Twenty minutes or less is an ideal distance; it allows you to appear involved and available to your tenants and local officials, be a visible part of the community, and respond rapidly when help is needed.

One unfortunate landlord I know attempted to hold down a busy job in Manhattan and found a startup company while managing several properties over an hour away in New Jersey. He invested a chunk of money to fix up his properties, and everything seemed fine until a minor plumbing problem occurred in one of the houses. It was an easy fix involving a five dollar part, but this landlord was late to respond. He didn’t have much luck with the local plumbers he reached out to, and more time passed. One day a plumber finally called back after visiting the house and angrily exclaimed that he patently refused to work under those conditions.

What conditions, you ask? In a house of eight tenants, raw sewage had been pouring into the basement for over two months. The muck was knee-deep, the stench was abominable, and yet the tenants, college students, had never said a word. The house was in foreclosure within the year.

9. Bigger is not always better:
As your property size and square footage help to determine your tax rate, an acre or more of land really isn’t necessary. You’ll mow it (or pay to mow it) and pay extra taxes for it, but beyond increasing overall property value, it won’t do much as far as rental income goes unless you have plans to build an addition or another rentable structure on the lot.

Neither will room size. As long as you meet the minimum bedroom requirements required by the township or city, more square footage per room doesn’t necessarily help. 4 small- to medium-sized bedrooms may actually produce better income than 3 large bedrooms.

One of our rental properties featured a lovely but immense bar in its finished basement, which we immediately earmarked for removal. The small extra initial cost has paid off in the long run, especially when we decided to rent to college students. If our goal was to flip the house, we might have left it, but for our intended use it was more of a liability.

10. Utilities can use you up:
Utilities can be a major issue for landlords if not set up properly. If you supply utilities to your tenants, you are generally not permitted to terminate these for nonpayment or other issues, and penalties can be severe.

Want to keep the bills in your name but have the tenants pay their portion to you? The law does not generally allow you to collect if they default on these sums, so you may risk losing out if the tenant stops paying their portion of the utility. Plus, you are still required to furnish them with these utilities, even if they fail to pay. Unless you can incorporate a flat fee into the monthly rent figure which covers your expenses even as costs continue to rise, it is best to insist that tenants pay utilities directly, under their own names. Then, in the event of default, you are not responsible.

This means that properties containing two or more rental units need to have split utilities; separate furnace, hot water heater, meters, etc. It is much easier and cheaper to purchase an already-split property than to try to do this yourself, so this is an important factor when you are looking at multiple-unit properties. Duplicate systems will mean more maintenance costs over time, however.

Good luck! Please feel free to ask us questions about rental property managmenet in Georgia any time.
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This article was written by Sasha in Real Estate and Home

3 Resident Screening Tips for Getting High-Quality Renters

mrs_screeningAs a property manager, you don’t want a “bad” renter—someone who is late on payments, tears up the floorboards, or has bad credit. This type of renter can lead to increased turnover, costly maintenance repairs, and eviction headaches. You want “good” renters, and this is where the important tenant screening process comes into play. But the process can be a daunting and time-consuming one, and if you’re not careful, a problem renter can slip through the cracks.

Here are three simple tips for identifying and selecting only the highest-quality renters:

Know the difference between a “good” and “bad” renter:
In general, there are inherent qualities that a high-quality renter possesses and ones that a troublemaking renter exhibits. Once you have completed a thorough credit and background check and contacted previous employers, landlords, and references, take a detailed look at the results. Ask yourself questions like:

Did he or she have issues making payments at prior residences?
Was he or she ever in trouble with the law?
Does the prospective renter have a history of tardiness at work?
Does the person have a history of being irresponsible?
Why did they leave their prior residence?
You have a duty to your other residents and your business to be aware of any potential issues. Know what you’re getting into with people who have a spotty history, questionable credit, or a criminal record.

Trust your gut:
During the interview process, what is the first impression you get? If an applicant is rude or disrespectful, chances are the person will be an issue for you down the road. A renter who can’t respect his or her property manager will, most likely, have trouble respecting the property. Ask a lot of questions during the initial meeting, and see if his or her answers match up with the answers you get during the references and background check. If he or she is dishonest, you might be taking a risk.

It’s important to remember that when you are selecting renters, be consistent in your decision-making process.

Consider technology to help with tenant screening:
The entire screening process can be time consuming, especially when you’re managing a lot of turnover. Consider an online tenant screening service. It can be as simple as clicking a “screen now” button for your renter and having screening results displayed in a clean report. Sometimes information is difficult to get or resources are scarce, so property management software with built-in screening helps ease the burden. If you can cut down on the time it takes to screen your applicants, you can spend more time on marketing your property.

It can be tough to find great residents, but it’s even tougher to deal with problem renters later on, so taking the extra steps for thorough tenant screening is worth it. In the end, you’ll decrease turnover with quality renters and build a respectable reputation for your property.

by unknown.

Top 10 Features of a Profitable Rental Property

mrs_houseFrom the first decision to invest in real estate to actually buying your first rental property, there is a lot of work to be done. This task may be daunting for the first-time investor. Owning property is a tough business and the field is peppered with land mines that can obliterate your returns. Here we’ll take a look at the top 10 things you should consider when shopping for an income property.

Choose the Right Property Manager:
Your investing range will be limited by whether you intend to actively manage the property (be a landlord) or hire someone else to manage it. If you intend to actively manage, you should not get a property that’s too far away from where you live. If you are going to get a property management company (My Rent Source Property Management) to look after it for you, your proximity to the property will be less of an issue.

Let’s take a look at the top 10 things you should consider when searching for the right rental property.

Neighborhood: The quality of the neighborhood in which you buy will influence both the types of tenants you attract and how often you face vacancies. For example, if you buy in a neighborhood near a university, the chances are that your pool of potential tenants will be mainly made up of students and that you will face vacancies on a fairly regular basis (during summer, when students tend to return back home).

Property Taxes: Property taxes are not standard across the board and, as an investor planning to make money from rent, you want to be aware of how much you will be losing to taxes. High property taxes may not always be a bad thing if the neighborhood is an excellent place for long-term tenants, but the two do not necessarily go hand in hand. The town’s assessment office will have all the tax information on file or you can talk to homeowners within the community.

Schools: Your tenants may have or be planning to have children, so they will need a place near a decent school. When you have found a good property near a school, you will want to check the quality of the school as this can affect the value of your investment. If the school has a poor reputation, prices will reflect your property’s value poorly. Although you will be mostly concerned about the monthly cash flow, the overall value of your rental property comes in to play when you eventually sell it.

Crime: No one wants to live next door to a hot spot for criminal activity. Go to the police or the public library for accurate crime statistics for various neighborhoods, rather than asking the homeowner who is hoping to sell the house to you. Items to look for are vandalism rates, serious crimes, petty crimes and recent activity (growth or slow down). You might also want to ask about the frequency of police presence in your neighborhood.

Job Market: Locations with growing employment opportunities tend to attract more people – meaning more tenants. To find out how a particular area rates, go directly to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics or to your local library. If you notice an announcement for a new major company moving to the area, you can rest assured that workers will flock to the area. However, this may cause house prices to react (either negatively or positively) depending on the corporation moving in. The fallback point here is that if you would like the new corporation in your backyard, your renters probably will too.

Amenities: Check the potential neighborhood for current or projected parks, malls, gyms, movie theaters, public transport hubs and all the other perks that attract renters. Cities, and sometimes even particular areas of a city, have loads of promotional literature that will give you an idea of where the best blend of public amenities and private property can be found.

Building Permits and Future Development: The municipal planning department will have information on all the new development that is coming or has been zoned into the area. If there are many new condos, business parks or malls going up in your area, it is probably a good growth area. However, watch out for new developments that could hurt the price of surrounding properties by, for example, causing the loss of an activity-friendly green space. The additional condos and/or new housing could also provide competition for your renters, so be aware of that possibility.

Number of Listings and Vacancies: If there is an unusually high number of listings for one particular neighborhood, this can either signal a seasonal cycle or a neighborhood that has “gone bad.” Make sure you figure out which it is before you buy in. You should also determine whether you can cover for any seasonal fluctuations in vacancies. Similar to listings, the vacancy rates will give you an idea of how successful you will be at attracting tenants. High vacancy rates force landlords to lower rents in order to snap up tenants. Low vacancy rates allow landlords to raise rental rates.

Rents: Rental income will be the bread and butter of your rental property, so you need to know what the average rent in the area is. If charging the average rent is not going to be enough to cover your mortgage payment, taxes and other expenses, then you have to keep looking. Be sure to research the area well enough to gauge where the area will be headed in the next five years. If you can afford the area now, but major improvements are in store and property taxes are expected to increase, then what could be affordable now may mean bankruptcy later.

Natural Disasters: Insurance is another expense that you will have to subtract from your returns, so it is good to know just how much you will need to carry. If an area is prone to earthquakes or flooding, paying for the extra insurance can eat away at your rental income.

Getting Information:
​Talk to renters as well as homeowners in the neighborhood. Renters will be far more honest about the negative aspects of the area because they have no investment in it. If you are set on a particular neighborhood, try to visit it at different times on different days of the week to see your future neighbors in action.

The Physical Property:
​In general, the best investment property for beginners is a residential, single-family dwelling or a condominium. Condos are low maintenance because the condo association is there to help with many of the external repairs, leaving you to worry about the interior. Because condos are not truly independent living units, however, they tend to garner lower rents and appreciate more slowly than single-family homes.

Single-family homes tend to attract longer-term renters in the form of families and couples. The reason families, or two adults in a relationship, are generally better tenants than one person is because they are more likely to be financially stable and pay the rent regularly. This owes to the simple fact that two can live almost as cheaply as one (as far as food, rent and utilities go) while still enjoying dual income. As a landlord, you want to find a property and a neighborhood that is going to attract that type of demographic.

When you have the neighborhood narrowed down, look for a property that has appreciation potential and a good projected cash flow. Check out properties that are more expensive than you can afford as well as those within your reach – real estate can often sell below its listing price. Watch the listing prices of other properties and ask buyers about the final selling price to get an idea of what the market value really is in the neighborhood. For appreciation potential, you are looking for a property that, with a few cosmetic changes and some renovations, will attract tenants who are willing to pay out higher rents. This will also serve you well by raising the value of the house if you choose to sell it after a few years.

As far as cash flow, you are going to have to make an informed guess. Take the average rent for the neighborhood and subtract your expected monthly mortgage payment, property taxes (divided by 12 months), insurance costs (also divided by 12) and a generous allowance for maintenance and repairs. Don’t lie to yourself and underestimate the cost of maintenance and repairs or you will pay for it once the deal is done. If all these figures come out even or, better yet, with a little left over, you can now get your real estate agent to submit an offer for you.

By Andrew Beattie

Applying for a Rental? That Landlord Knows More Than You Think

mrs_landlordIn simpler times, tenants might have been able to get one up on landlords—maybe a small white lie about a job title, a tiny fib about the breed of a pet, or maybe even stretching the truth about annual income. But it’s the 21st century, people! And damning info is a whole lot easier to uncover.

Perhaps you think that prospective landlord is merely doing a quick credit check to make sure you can pay your rent. After all, they deal with dozens, if not hundreds, of applicants every year, right? They’re not going to investigate each potential tenant, right? Right? Well, we’ve got news for you, straight from landlords’ mouths: Once you hand in the paperwork, that landlord is putting on their P.I. hat and finding out a lot more than you think. Here’s just a bit of the dirt they’re unearthing:

Your salary:
Background checks aren’t a new idea. For years, landlords have been running background checks to find out if a potential tenant has been part of a lawsuit or maybe is hiding a bankruptcy filing, crippling student loan debt, or eviction from a previous rental. But now, thanks to the Internet, those background checks are getting far more common and a lot more sophisticated.

In fact, a little sleuthing is all it takes to spot a discrepancy or verify something that doesn’t seem quite right on an application. For example, if the income you reported seems too high, a landlord can use a site such as Glassdoor to gauge the salary that goes with your job title. If it doesn’t match up, you might just be kissing that perfect apartment goodbye.

Your schedule:
A prospective landlord will also likely call a former or current landlord, and what they can find out might surprise you. My former landlord—who’s nosy but well-meaning—spent 30 minutes on the phone with my new landlord, sharing everything including the fact that I work from home, the name of my dog, and how many boxes I get delivered. I only found out because my new landlord thought it was (mostly) so funny that she called to tell me. It wasn’t devastating, but for some people it could be. If you’re hiding way more than an Amazon Prime addiction (all-night raves, running a hostel for the homeless, etc.), your dream of getting that apartment might go up in smoke.

Your Internet-famous mistakes:
You’ve probably googled a blind date or prospective new boss, but landlords don’t do that, right? “Yes, actually they do,” Zachmann says. A quick name search can turn up all kinds of information: where you work, who you are friends with, late-night irate rants you left in the comments of a political website. But it can also turn up stuff you might be tempted to omit from your application. Surprisingly, what most landlords are looking for isn’t if you can pay the rent.

Your social media profiles—and photos:
Landlords aren’t stopping at the search box, either. They are digging into your social media accounts. Zachmann says Twitter and Facebook are the most-used sites by landlords. And both sites offer plenty of snooping opportunities. Did you tell the prospective landlord your dog was more miniature schnauzer than Rottweiler in size? Those recent photos of Humbert the pooch will tell the real story. Fond of posting rants about how worried you are that you might lose your job? After that last tweet, that landlord is too.

How to deal:
OK, so a prospective landlord can now learn a lot about you really quickly, but you can minimize the damage if you’re proactive. Before you apply for a new apartment, “it is always smart to do a little research yourself and be aware of what information a landlord may come across, including postings on social media,” Zachmann says. Delete any posts and untag yourself from any photos that seem particularly damaging. Make sure your information is up-to-date (or at least vague) on your profiles. And don’t forget to update your LinkedIn page.

Here’s an easy rule of thumb: When you do apply, skip the lies. As tempting as it might be to stretch the truth in your favor, the landlord could easily find out. And avoid the temptation to omit requested information.

“For example, we have a question on our application if the person has ever been evicted,” Zachmann says. “If someone selects ‘No,’ and we then find out otherwise through their background check, that is very concerning. [Landlords] ask, ‘Why are they covering that up?’ ”

Bottom line: Come clean! At the very least that landlord could appreciate your honesty. And that might just get you the lease.

Article by Angela Colley

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