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In our latest series of educational webinars, we explored the topic of self managing your rental properties vs. hiring a property manager. In the fourth and final section of the webinar, we talk about six ways to create more value in Boston rentals, creating a “preventative maintenance schedule” and should you hire a professional and what do they charge.

For more resources and tips on managing your properties, please contact us.

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In our latest series of educational webinars, we explored the topic of self managing your rental properties vs. hiring a property manager. In the third of four sections of the webinar, we talk about protecting your real estate investments and essential landlord/tenant forms that you will need throughout the course of running your business. Many people will say it’s not “if” you will get sued, but “when” so learning about all the strategies that can protect your investments is imperative.

For more resources and tips on managing your properties, please contact us.

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In our latest series of educational webinars, we explored the topic of self managing your rental properties vs. hiring a property manager. In the second of four sections of the webinar, we talk about how you should handle your income, expenses and taxes when it comes to your rental properties. This is another area of focus that is very important when running your business.

For more resources and tips on managing your properties, please contact us.

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In our latest series of educational webinars, we explored the topic of self managing your rental properties vs. hiring a property manager. Even if you initially plan to self manage your properties, it is important to still factor in the cost of hiring a property manager. In the first of four sections of the webinar, we talk about the eight tools every small landlord needs, mastering your rental market and marketing your rental units. Each topic is very important when running your properties like a business and making the best decisions for the business.

For more resources and tips on managing your properties, please contact us.

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Now that summer is finally here, it is a good time to take a look at all potential maintenance needed for your properties. As the winter months tend to be the quieter time of year, spring is typically the time that tenants move out, whether it is a result of a new job or just general life changes. Therefore, it is most important that you inspect your properties to ensure that the condition is such that you can turn them over quickly. If not, it is definitely important to address such issues to maintain the desirability of your property. Some specific areas of maintenance include:

Landscaping
One of the more important summer maintenance areas, a well landscaped property can do very well for the desirability of your property. Falling under curb appeal, this is one of the first things a potential tenant or buyer will notice when first seeing your property. And seeing as first impressions can be very important, it is critical to keep your property well maintained on the outside. The good news is that this is one of the easier jobs to do yourself and should be relatively easy to receive help if need be.

Siding and Walls
Like landscaping, the siding and walls on the outside of your property go a long way to maintaining its desirability and positive first impression appeal. When cleaning your siding is all that is required, simply wash the siding with a soft cloth or ordinary long-handled, soft bristle brush. This can be done using water and mild soap. The best approach is to start at the bottom of the siding, work your way up and rinse the cleaning solution completely before it dries. If siding needs to be replaced, this is another relatively small job and can be learned and applied in a relatively short period of time.

HVAC Systems
Your tenants are definitely going to have working A/C during the summer months, so this is one of the most important areas of focus within your property. One of the specific components to pay attention to for A/C maintenance is cleaning the air conditioner coils, both inside and out before cooling season begins. When the coils are dirty, the system runs longer, which reduces efficiency and increases cooling costs. Another component to address is to check and refill the refrigerant charge if necessary. If you do not have the right amount of cooling refrigerant, you run the risk of damaging the air compressor. Lastly, clean and calibrate the blower system components for optimal airflow. This will lead to a longer lasting and more efficient system.

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Thinking Of Selling Your Home? |4 Quick Tips To Give Your Home More Curb Appeal

You only get to make one first impression, and that first look can affect buyers in ways that even they don’t fully realize. When you are thinking of selling your home, ensure the exterior is well maintained if you are looking for top dollar. 

While it is not as valuable as the updates within the home, you want buyers to enter your home to see your wonderful upgrades correct? If the outside is in poor condition, they will assume the interior is the same and may not even enter the home. Do not leave offers on the table because you didn’t think they mattered. When selling a home, everything matters, no detail is too small. Here are some inexpensive MUST DOs to the exterior. If you can’t afford to repaint, then make the walk up to the home look better.

Mow The Lawn

It really is that simple. While you’re at it, you should also make sure the hedges, bushes, and trees are all looking perfect and well cared for. Long grass and especially brown grass is a sign of neglect. We cant say it enough… you only have one chance to make a first impresion. I always assume a home is unoccupied or has neglectful owners with poorly maintained lawn (Sorry… I’m sure I’m not the only one)

Power Wash 

A fresh coat of paint is all well and good, but often enough the only thing the old paint needs is a good scrub in order to look as good as new. Also, depending on the type of water and trees around the home, your driveway may change colors or have stains that are easily removed with one good wash. It can really make a huge difference in people’s perception of your home. 

Fill The Garden

Adding a new garden may not be a good return on investment depending on the size and soil conditions, but at the same time you can’t allow any existing gardens to grow wild or stick out as barren plots of dirt. Your best bet is to speak with a gardening expert to find out which ornamental plants survive best in our emotional New England weather without much tending so that you can concentrate on other things without having to hire a gardening service. We just want it to look pretty and to last.

Reseal The Drive

Not every kind of pavement demands a coat of sealant, but it can be surprising just how appealing a fresh coat of black tar looks on the driveways and parking spaces of a property with the right kind. You can also utilize cement and be creative with designs and imprints. 

Using curb appeal to attract buyers can feel like an underhanded way to manipulate buyers, but it really isn’t when you consider how common and inexpensive it is to improve a property’s beauty. Not only can everyone who’s selling or renting a property do it, but you’re effectively allowing buyers to judge the property on its real merits rather than on a negative judgement buyers don’t even realize they make. Do not leave thousands on the table when it would have cost you a couple hundred to get higher offers on your home. 

We work with alot of investor clients who truly understand what it takes to get the most bang for your buck. If you would like us to evaluate your home and provide some low cost upgrades/updates to receive the most on your investment, please contact us at Contact@mandrellco.com. 

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FREE Landlord Tenant Forms

Greetings,

My name is Liz Newcombe and I am a licensed Realtor, and fellow resident in the Greater Boston area. Are you in need of landlord real estate forms? If so, you can receive the list of forms below by texting “FREEFORMS” to 44222. The system respond with a text asking for your email address. Once you’ve replied, you will receive a download link within seconds! That is my gift to you!

The landlord forms package will include:

  • Tenant Application
  • Move In/ Move Out checklist
  • Standard Tenant Lease
  • Month to Month Rental Agreement
  • Pet Agreement
  • Monthly Income & Expense Recorder
  • Extension of Lease
  • Notice to Vacate
  • Notice of Overdue Rent
  • 30 Notice to Terminate
  • & a few other great forms

If you have an apartment for rent, I would love to assist you in finding and placing the ideal tenant. As a Realtor specializing in your rental market, I work directly with the most qualified tenants around. I would love to visit your rental, take some pictures to begin showing it to my very interested client base, as soon as possible.

When you list your rental with The Mandrell Company, we will handle your tenant’s application, credit checks, employment verification, criminal background checks, lease agreements and more. The best part about listing your rental with us is that there is absolutely no charge to you for our services!

Please contact me if this is something you may be interested in or if you have any questions. I look forward to hearing from you.

Regards,

Elizabeth Newcombe

Liz@MandrellCo.com or 617-297-8641

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Proper Water Use – This one is pretty straight forward. I’ve had past tenants wash their cars in my driveway and go as far as bringing friends over to wash their cars as well. I had to stop that immediately.  People who’ve never owned property may not understand (or care) that water isn’t free. When they shower and flush the toilet the landlord is paying for it which is reasonable and required by law. But what isn’t required is that you fund their outside water activities. Make sure you address what is/ isn’t acceptable within a clause of your lease.

Trash Removal – Have you had a tenant move out of your rental unit and leave large amounts of trash behind expecting you to take care of it? Here is the specific clause we use in our leases to make sure it’s clear that this needs to be done prior to move out!

Trash removal is your responsibility. If there are large items you need to dispose of, please do this prior to move out. We will not be responsible for removing trash from the unit, the basement or taking trash from the side of the house to the street. This also applies to an excessive amount of smaller items and anything that overflows the trash bin provided to you at move in.

Additional Occupants – Make sure you have a clear statement in your lease agreements that addresses additional people occupying the property after the lease is signed. It’s amazing how many people attempt to sign a lease with one or two individuals and afterward try to move in 3 or 4 people…or more. You always want to make sure you know who’s occupying your property.

Direct TV Dishes – Have you ever driven down a street in Boston and noticed a home with 10 satellite dishes hanging off the side? Did you ask yourself how many people live there and why do they all have their own TV service? Well the problem isn’t the number of occupants, it’s Direct TV. The service provide provides a new dish for every first time tenant while never bothering to come remove old dishes from tenants that have moved.  Why does this concern you as a landlord? Well lets say you’ve own a 3 family home for the past 10 years and between those 3 units you’ve had 15 different tenants. If half of these people chose to use Direct TV as there provider you may have up to 7 stat dishes drilled into the side of your home. Not only does this looks horrible and increases the chances of physical damage to your property.

So how do you address this? You take care of it within your leases. You would ideally insert a clause stating that the tenant must you cable or some other service that doesn’t hang dishes and damage your property. You could also state that the tenant must have the dish removed at their expense prior to moving out (or receiving their security deposit back).

Be sure you’re within legal guidelines when inserting clauses in your lease agreements. As a landlord I keep a Landlord/ Tenant legals guide handy and always consult my attorney if there is anything I’m still unsure about.

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As a rental property owner you understand that tenant turnover can be very costly. Every time a tenant moves out there will be a period of loss rent, repair cost for the vacated unit as well as cost associated with finding a new tenant.  As a landlord it’s in your best interest to retain good tenants as long as possible and to do that you need to provide your tenants with comfortable and convenient living arrangements. Here are a few items every rental property owner should consider for their property.  

Storage:  

Create a place for your tenants to store personal items they don’t want to keep in their apartment. Often you can build several storage bins in the homes basement and assign one for each apartment. If you decide to use a common area like the basement, make sure each bin has a door and the tenant has the ability to lock their items away. This type of system does not need to be very fancy and can often be done with 2×4’s, plywood and a pad lock.    

Laundry:

On site laundry is a big plus for many tenants, especially during Boston’s cold winter months. On site laundry can include providing a washer and dryer to each tenant or just providing a washer and dryer “hook-up” for each tenant to access. In either case you will need to hire the services of a plumber an electrician.  If your tenants pay their own utilities then you’ll want to make sure your contractors are making electrical, gas and hot water connections with each separate unit. If you happen to pay utilities for your tenants then you should consider the added cost to adding this service in comparison to the added value.  You may consider adding a couple coin operated machines in this case.

Outdoor Space:

Yard space, a terrace, patio, and roof decks are all value added items here in the city. Any type of personal and private outdoor space you can provide your tenants is going to bring higher rents and longer term tenants.

Parking:

Off street parking in Boston can go for big money. If you have land attached or near your rental property that can potentially be converted to parking spots, this could be a real nice opportunity to earn some extra cash.  We often meet landlords that spend a few thousand dollars leveling, paving, and marking out 2 or 3 parking spots, which they turn around rent for $150 per month.  Before a full year is over the spots have paid for themselves and everything going forward is profit.

Intercom & Alarm Systems

Safety and convenience is the name of the game. There are so many different types of intercom and alarm systems out and the prices are really responsible. If your rental property has more than 2 living levels, consider investing in an intercom system.  Many of them allow tenants to “buzz” guest in and some of them come with video capabilities so the tenant can view the individual at their door. Alarms systems are always a good idea. Anything to make you tenants feel safer is a good investment.

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We recently hired a pest control professional, after one of our tenants mentioned spotting a mouse. Though she had only seen it once, she could tell it was still present in her apartment. Couple days after the first sighting, I’m there with the exterminator and the whole time I’m thinking, I could do this myself. The exterminator came prepared with a homemade peanut butter decon powder mix. The mice swallows the decon which causes them to have a great need for water, forcing them out of the house. Mixing it with peanut butter was a great idea because it’s more appealing to mice. He started in the basement by placing the mixture in small openings in the ceilings and other places where only mice could reach. He continued to all the apartments including the one where the mouse was spotted, placing the poison in vents, behind large pieces of furniture and behind kitchen cabinets. Places that mice would find easily accessible, but children and small pets would find hard to get into. The total cost was $225 which in my opinion is well worth it. However, next time, I will be the exterminator. This was definitely something I could do myself. Something anyone could do. If it’s keeping money in your pocket, it’s worth a shot.

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Thinking about buying a 3 Family in Boston? If you’re looking for a great ROI consider investing in the Dorchester area. This Boston neighborhood allows for better cash flow than any other neighborhood in the city. Prices are still relatively low compared to other neighborhoods, but the rental market is very strong. Rental prices have been headed upward for the past few years and the demand for available units is high. Here is a quick look at some of the averages and how this scenario could play out in the Dorchester market.

Average Price for 3 Family Home: $550,000

20% Down Payment $110,000 – Interest rate of 4% on a30 year fixed  

Mortgage payment of $2100.00 per month

Mortgage $2100 + Taxes $350 + Home Insurance $200 + Water & Sewer $150 = $2800 Monthly Expenses

Market Rent For 3 Bedroom Dorchester Apartment = $1600 * 3 Units = $4800 Monthly Income

$4800 – $2800 = Monthly Cash Flow of $2000 or $24,000 Annually

These numbers equate to a Return on Investment of nearly 22%, which is tough to find in other markets. There are some assumptions here that will lead ROI numbers to be slightly better or worse depending on each particular investment, but the overall averages speak for themselves.

Don’t let your lack of knowledge for Dorchester real estate steer your away from this great market. There are many local professionals that can assist you in locating great properties in the neighborhood. Like any real estate market, not every property will be a great investment, but when you take the time to do a little market research you can understand which properties will perform well. 

Don’t have 20% as a down payment? Want to run your own mortgage calculations? Click here to use our mortgage calculator!

Not interested in dealing with tenant issues? Looking for a great property manager? Click here to read more about our services!

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http://www.MandrellCo.com/Management   617-297-8641

Are you buying or selling a multifamily or investment property in Massachusetts?  Need help filling an empty unit or interested in property management services?  The Mandrell Company specializes in multifamily & investment property sales, rentals and management!

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Why live At the property you manage?

I’m a big advocate for living on the property you manage. The biggest reason being, all the maintenance issues I have found and prevented and the inconveniences caused by other tenants that were quickly dealt with. You might be surprised what your tenants don’t tell you while you’re away or what they don’t notice.  A few recent examples:

Sitting in the lounge chair watching some T.V and suddenly there’s a rumble.  The china in the large wooden cabinet starts shaking. So I walk up to the second floor thinking it must be the music is extremely loud.   Standing next to the second floor apartment door, I realized, no that’s definitely not it. I felt the loud rumbling coming from upstairs.  Next to the 3rd floor door, it was clear. They were running. Does no-running include no-treadmills as well? Couldn’t imagine what the second floor was thinking.  My guess is they would simple keep turning up their music louder and hope the people above them get the point.  You’re disturbing everyone.  I knocked on their door told them about the treadmill so they stopped for the rest of the day.  However, in the following days they kept running.  While the problem was solved immediately, it was addressed immediately.  Happy to say those tenants are not with us anymore. 

Discovered mold in the basement while looking for tools to help with the backyard.  It was it the cellar closet hidden by tools and covering the entire lower half of one wall. After getting some advice from a friend, I was able to take care of the situation ASAP.  Happy I seen it when I did and was able to avoid replacing the wall.

More recently noticed an increase in the moth population in my kitchen over the last few months.  Never experienced this in all the years I lived there. I tried getting rid of them by hand, but would find a group of them again by morning.  When I spoke to the tenants, my neighbors about the situation they admitted to having some troubles too.  They didn’t want to mention it to avoid any stigma it might be attached too.  The neighbors across the street were there and mentioned different pest problems they’ve had, one involving a nest of wasps near their home, another with fruit flies lasting through winter.  The next day I went to the Home Depo and grabbed a few different products to get rid of these pests and distributed them to all then tenants.  I think this did 2 things: 1. It let them know I was equally concerned about the situation and 2. It created a stronger unified effort to really exterminate these pests. Good rettens !!!

While you can’t live on every property you might own it’s important to inspect your property and check in with tenants periodically in addition phone calls triggered by neighborhood events.  You might even want to create a check list of places to inspect and things to ask tenants.  While I say nothing beats living on the property, genuine concern for the well being of your tenants and a little effort is all you should need to keep them happy with the service you provide.

 

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I don’t know about you but not only did I get into real estate investing to create financial success but to create more time in my life as well.  When it came to having rental properties in the portfolio I quickly found that instead of creating more time I had created another full time job that sucked up so much time that I found myself working on the business instead of in it.  Let alone the damage it did to the quality of relationships to those around me.  Like many an Entrepreneur that was a dangerous position to be in and it was more sooner than later the train wreck was going to arrive.

Well I said to myself you can continue to do this the hard way or the easy way.  The hard way being you can continue to have tenants calling you in the middle of the night or just badgering you about property issues as the laws regulating property continue to get more and more complicated on the federal, state and local level eating up even more time.  Or you could hire a property manager to take care of it for you putting a much needed buffer between myself and the tenants.

But how do you hire a management company and still make a profit? Consult with your fellow investors who have had success in hiring a management company. I can tell you we’ve gone through our share of them.

Once you have assembled a list of companies and before you call them, design a list of expectations for the property company and a list of goals for each of your rental properties.  Your goals might sound something like this:

·          Keep property rented

·          Prepare an annual budget

·          Manage a siding installation project

·          Annually inspect the property and send you a report.

·          Send you a monthly financial report

·          Help you lease up property

Before you dial the phone, look at your list of expectations.   These are the questions you can ask the property management company to see if they are a good fit.  Remember to also have a property description and income and expense information available for them to be able to give you a detailed response to your questions.  Your list of questions may look something like this:

·          How long have you been in business? (You are looking for long-term stability.)

·          How much insurance do you carry?

·          Do you have experience in the kind of property I want you to manage? How much experience?

·          Is your staff bonded?

·          What does the bonding and your insurance cover?

·          Are you accredited by a national organization?

·          How do you collect the rents?

·          If a tenant does not pay what do you do?

·          How do you advertise vacancies?

·          How do you select tenants for my property?

·          How much do you charge monthly? Are there additional charges?

·          What service do I get from you?

·          Do you send me monthly reports?

·          What is included in my monthly reports?

·          How do you handle property maintenance?

·          How much could the maintenance cost?

·          Can I visit your office?

·          Can I meet the property manager who will be directly managing my property?

·          How do you handle property emergencies?

·          Can you give me some example of your attention to detail?

·          Tell me about some of your success stories?

·          Tell me specifically how you will take care of my investment?

·          Do you have references I can call?

The answers to these questions will probably give you a good idea of how the company is run and how well your property will be taken care of.

Clearly the questions you ask will also depend on the size of the property you are planning to have managed and the results you expect. For our purposes we are talking about successfully managing a single family to smaller multi-family units (up to four units), tenant selection, screening, as well as rent collections and property maintenance are key issues.

Have confidence once you have selected your team.  If you have done your due-diligence you should have a qualified organization that you can consider an extension of your business and can be confident they will follow the law and abide by a code of ethics.  It’s an important choice so don’t be afraid to interview many companies to find the one that fits the needs of your investment portfolio.

In the end after you have evaluated price, experience, and accounting reports, the key decision factor will be the level of trust you have in the management team of the company that will be taking care of your property. If you have any questions at all call me at 617.297.8641. I’d be happy to help you select a property management company that’s right for you!

P.S.   If you are ready to start building your wealth through real estate investing, make sure and become a member of The Boston Landlord wholesaler buyers list.  As a member, you’ll be notified immediately when they have a new property up-for-grabs (that means YOU will have first dibs on the hottest deals)! To sign up, visit the website at http://www.TheBostonLandlord.com/Buy or give them a call at 617.453.8571. 

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