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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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Recently we hosted a webinar on the topic of Building Wealth In Your 20’s & 30’s. In the third and final section of the webinar we covered building equity, tax savings and some very important closing thoughts.

For more resources and tips on how to build wealth, please contact us.

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Recently we hosted a webinar on the topic of Building Wealth In Your 20’s & 30’s. In the second section of the webinar we covered saving for retirement, the importance of life insurance and the different types of investments.

For more resources and tips on how to build wealth, please do not hesitate to contact us.

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Recently we hosted a webinar on the topic of Building Wealth In Your 20’s & 30’s. In the first section of the webinar we covered the importance of creating a budget for yourself and family, establishing personal finance goals and how to figure out, and improve on your credit.

For more resources and tips on how to build wealth, please do not hesitate to contact us. 

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Tenant screening can be one of the most important aspects to owning rental property. The more due diligence you preform in this area will only lead to a more stress free future when managing your property. So first, what are some qualities that make up a great tenant?

Qualities:
Ability to afford rent – not just the rent, but look for the applicant’s income from their job to be at LEAST 3x the monthly rent.
Stability of housing – look for renters that have lived somewhere for more than a few months at a time. Finding those who have rented for at least a year are most desirable.
Cleanliness – it would be best to desire someone that will appreciate the quality of apartment you are providing them and know that they are going to take care of the unit as you would. A neat trick that you can do is to take a peak inside the applicant’s car. This can often times be a good indicator as to how people treat their own possessions.
Pays rent on time – this one could be argued both ways, (opportunity to collect a late fee) but the issue here is the tenants are more likely to stop paying altogether in the long run. Ultimately this just creates more stress than is worth your time.

Here are a few things that you should be looking for in each applicant and if they do not meet these standards, should lead to a denial.

What I would call “absolutes.”
Income greater than 3x monthly rent
Good references
No evictions EVER
Clean background

As a reminder, never discriminate against race, color, national origin, religion, sex, family status or handicap as these are all protected classes according to Fair Housing Laws. You should also check up on State and Local Fair Housing Laws to further ensure you have doing everything within your legal right.

To truly succeed in being a landlord, treat it like a business. And this is one of the most important parts of your business. Do your due diligence, be consistent in your screening and always, always stay true to your screening guidelines.

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Criminal Record and Apartment Rentals

2016 has been a year of initiatives, laws and policies affecting homeowners, and renters. One such “guidance”  as it pertains to screening tenant applicants with a criminal history record. I have mixed views on this as I can see both sides of the argument.

Tenant: I made a terrible mistake when I was 19 that has remained on my record. Now at age 29, I am trying to find an apartment and I am constantly being denied due to my prior criminal history. THEN I was a nuisance to society but today… I stand before you an upstanding citizen. I have my Master’s degree in Physical Therapy, I make $75,000/year but I cannot find an apartment because of my prior transgression. How do I grow? How do I move on to the next stage of life if I am constantly penalized for a mistake I made 10 years ago?

Landlord: The government is imposing poilicies and laws that make it increasingly harder to protect my investment. I believe in giving people a chance but I do not want to be forced into a decision. Criminal background checks are meant to protect my tenants. They want a safe place to live and not feel threatened. If someone has a history of violence or burglary… how can I in good conscience, accept them as a new tenant? I understand people change, but am I not failing in my duty as a landlord to the tenants I currently have? I believe this creates undue tension between landlord and good tenants.

I can argue either side. I choose to see the good in people most times but I do not want to be forced to overlook something that troubles me. I do also see the connection between minorities disproportionately being affected by this decision. What is the middle ground? How do we obtain more information on a person’s record with regard to timeline of criminal activity? Something I will be following over time to see what develops.

For more details see the excerpt below on the decision.

HUD issued legal guidance from the Office of General Counsel (OGC) regarding the likely violation of the Fair Housing Act when housing providers employ blanket policies in refusing to rent or renew a lease based on an individual’s criminal history because such policies may have a disparate impact on racial minorities. The guidance states, “Because of widespread racial and ethnic disparities in the U.S. criminal justice system, criminal history-based restrictions on access to housing are likely disproportionately to burden African-Americans and Hispanics.” The protected classes of the Fair Housing Act are race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, and disability.

The guidance states that when a housing provider’s seemingly neutral policy or practice has a discriminatory effect, such as restricting access to housing on the basis of criminal history, and has a disparate impact on individuals of a particular race, national origin, or other protected class.

Some landlords and property managers assert that the reason they have blanket criminal history policies is to protect other residents and the property. Landlords and property managers must be able to prove through reliable evidence that blanket policies actually assist in protecting residents and property.

The guidance also states that a housing provider with policies of excluding people because of a prior arrest without conviction cannot satisfy its burden of showing such a policy is necessary to achieve a “substantial, legitimate, nondiscriminatory interest,” since an arrest is not a reliable basis upon which to assess the potential risk to residents or property. In instances when a person has been convicted, the policy must be applied on a case-by-case basis considering the nature and severity of the conviction, what the individual has done since conviction, and how long ago the conviction took place.

In addition, the guidance discusses how a housing provider may violate the Fair Housing Act if the provider intentionally discriminates when using criminal history information in evaluating applicants and tenants. “This occurs when the provider treats an applicant or renter differently because of race, national origin or another protected characteristic. In these cases, the housing provider’s use of criminal records or other criminal history information as a pretext for unequal treatment of individuals because of race, national origin or other protected characteristics is no different from the discriminatory application of any other rental or purchase criteria.”

The HUD guidance is at http://1.usa.gov/1TwM6m5

 

If you are a landlord and looking for assistance in finding quality tenants for your units… Call The Mandrell CompanyCall The Mandrell Company. We work hard to screen tenants to ensure you have the most qualified and highly referred tenants.

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Are you in the market to buy, rent or sell property in South Boston? Before you make a move, understanding the local market condition can make all the difference. We’ve outlined below exactly what’s happening with Single Family, Multifamily, Condos and Rentals in the area. All these number reflect what’s taken place over the last 6 months.

Single Family Listings
Total Homes SOLD: 16
Average Living Area by Square Feet: 1,490.13
Average Listing Price: $583,650
Average DOM (Days on Market):  60.81
Average Sales Price: $578,695

Condominium Listings
Total Condos SOLD: 230
Average Living Area by Square Feet: 1,103.45
Average Listing Price: $616,942
Average DOM (Days on Market): 46.42
Average Sales Price: $614,010

Multifamily Listings
Total Multifamily Buildings SOLD: 22
Average Living Area by Square Feet: 3,068.77
Average Listing Price: $1,064,345
Average DOM (Days on Market): 34.45
Average Sales Price: $1,046,450

Rental Stats
Average Rent for 1 Bedroom Units: $1,937
Average Rent for 2 Bedroom Units: $2,666
Average Rent for 3 Bedroom Units: $3,115
Average Rent for 4 Bedroom Units: $3,527

 

Want to get a FREE Sales and Rental Market Report for your specific area(s)? Just send a quick email to
Contact@MandrellCo.com to receive your monthly report. In the title put the words “FREE Boston Sales
Statistics” and in the body, add the up to 3 areas you’d like to receive data for. Your name and email will
be added to the next monthly reporting cycle. It’s that simple to stay up to date and ahead of the curve!
Please call us directly at 617-297-8641, for custom reports or questions above the data provided.

 

 

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Credit affects all major financial decisions that involve someone lending you money/credit. It should be no surprise that your credit score will also affect your mortgage rate. Your credit scores affect the kinds of mortgages you can be approved for, how much you can borrow, the mortgage rates you’ll pay and even how much you’ll pay for private mortgage insurance (PMI). It’s not impossible to buy a home with damaged credit; it’s just much more expensive.
Credit scores are instrumental in applying and being approved for a mortgage. When it comes to FHA financing at least, you will be required to have a credit score of at least 580 in order to be eligible for a loan. The higher your credit score is beyond that, the better the terms will be. With a 580 credit score you also qualify for the low 3.5% down. If your credit score is below 580, you can still qualify for an FHA loan but you will need a 10% down payment. The drawback to a 580 is that your interest rate will not be at the national average, it will most likely be slightly higher. Consult your mortgage lender for more information. (We work with several lenders who work hard to get you the best rate, to be connected to one of them, please click here)
This is why it’s so important to understand your credit score in the months before you apply for a mortgage. If you do have impaired credit history, you’ll want to work to improve your credit scores before you even apply. And if you already have good credit, you’ll want to keep it as high as possible by avoiding taking on other new debt.
We host seminars throughout the year regarding improving credit and have affiliations with credit repair companies.
For more information, feel free to contact us.

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Pending home sales in Massachusetts climbed 36 percent in June, compared with the same month last year, according to a new report from the Massachusetts Association of Realtors (MAR).

There were 7,316 homes put under agreement in June of this year, compared with 5,349 in June 2014, with median prices of $375,000 and $364,900, respectively. Condominium sales increased to 2,777 in June 2015 from 2,082 in June 2014 – an increase of 33 percent – with the median price dropping to $330,000 from $332,000.

“The summer market is heating up. June was a very active month even with the usual end-of-school activities and graduation celebrations,” MAR President Corinne Fitzgerald, broker/owner of FITZGERALD Real Estate in Greenfield, said in a statement. “Buyers are out there, and they are making offers. Sellers who price their house correctly are benefiting from all this activity and entering into agreements shortly after they are listed.”

Want to find out how your neighborhood is doing and what homes are selling? Send us an email at Contact@MandrellCo.com and request a FREE market report. We can help you gain complete insight into your real estate market by showing you exactly what homes are selling and what buyers are paying for them. Give us a shout today!
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Do you have an upcoming or existing vacancy in one of your rental units? Follow these 3 “must do” task to ensure you land a great new tenant.

1. Do your due diligence – Do you fully understand your local rental market? What are your fellow landlords charging for rental units similar to yours? Are you below market value on your rents and leaving money on the table? These are the question you’ll want to answer as soon as you’re informed you’ll have a vacant rental unit. You’ll want to make sure your asking rent is close to market value for the unit. You’ll also want to make sure the tenants quality of living meets whats called for in the neighborhood. For example, if you have a perfectly priced rental unit but all of the apartment features are outdated (and all other available units are updated), you’ll have a difficult time renting that apartment. You can easily find out what going on in your neighborhood by acting as a prospective tenant and searching through current rental listings in your neighborhood. You can also call your local real estate agent to receive a free rental market analysis.

2. Background, Credit check, Employment verification – Many small landlords select tenants with “their gut feelings”. While you should definitely trust your gut, I would suggest also doing a background check for any applicant over the age a 18. This is the very best way to truly know who’s living in your rental. I would also conduct a credit check to verify that they’re financially trustworthy. The last bit of information is probably the easiest to do and the most important. Verify the status of your potential tenants employment and their ability to pay. During the application process you should have asked for pay stubs and for the tenants employer information. Call the employers HR department and tell the representative you’re calling to verify employment for a rental application on the said tenant. Download to packet below to determine whether the your prospective tenants income should qualify for your rental unit.

What Can I Afford To Pay For Rent

3. Take a holding deposit – Okay. You’ve done your due diligence and found a great tenant. They are ready to move in a few weeks, but the lease has not yet been signed. Make sure you receive a “holding deposit” from your new tenants. A holding deposit acts as insurance for you. It insure that your prospective tenants plan to move in and not continue searching for another apartment. Let’s say for example you’ve stopped marketing the apartment because you’ve found the perfect tenant. The plan is for them to move into the property in 3 weeks and you’ll draft up the lease in the process and give them a call when it’s ready. 1 week before move in you call them for the signing and they’ve informed you they’ve already found another apartment. You have nothing from them and you’ve also wasted 2 weeks of marketing while you had the apartment off the market. The easiest way to combat this scenario is to get a deposit. Download the packet below for a sample holding deposit form.

Holding Deposit Agreement

Do you need help finding new tenants? We can help you fill your vacancy at NO COST to you. We conduct a background checks, credit checks, employments/income verification and draft all lease paperwork for you.  Contact us for details. 617-297-8641 or Contact@Mandrellco.com

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Okay, so you’ve found great tenants and their expected to move in on the 1st of the month. Now what? Here is a quick “to do” list to make sure you and your rental property appear super professional from day one.

  1. Change the locks and get new keys to the apartment – You’ll like your tenants to feel as safe as possible when they take possession of their new living space. The last thing you want is for them to start questioning whether the old tenants still have access to the unit. Be sure to make several copies and keep a copy for yourself. You’ll need your set of keys if your tenants happen to lose theirs or if you need to enter the apartment for an emergency.
  2. Get a new mailbox key – In the haste of new tenant preparations, many landlords forget the also place a new lock and key on the mailbox. Your previous tenants should have changed their address with the post office so there is no need for them to come back and access this box.
  3. Change the name on the mailbox – Make sure to let the mailman know your old tenant have moved and the new tenants are coming in. The easiest way to do this is to place a new label with the tenants name on the mailbox. If you don’t have one already, get yourself a label maker. When your new tenants see their name on the mailbox on move in day, it will make them feel right at home.
  4. Get the apartment professionally cleaned  – Make sure the apartment has a clean/ fresh feel to it. If you want your tenants to stay for awhile they’ll need to feel as if it’s truly there home. The best way to do that is to make sure there are no remnants of your prior tenants. I always replace the toilet seat and leave the plastic wrap on top. For $20, this shows my new tenants that I truly care about making them feel comfortable.
  5. Add a fresh coat of paint on the walls – Paint is the “new car smell” for apartments.
  6. Check the batteries in the smoke detectors & change the light bulbs – There is a good chance the tenants that just moved out didn’t change the batteries or light bulbs. Do these things before your new tenant moves in. You’d rather not have a smoke detector chirping a week after move in and you certainly don’t want light bulbs dying as they’re moving in boxes.
  7. Prepare a “Welcome Basket” – Moving isn’t easy and there are often things that are lost in boxes the first couple nights after a move. Help out your new tenants out with a couple a basic items. Prepare a welcome basket with toilet paper, tooth paste, tooth brush, soap, local take-out menus and any other low cost item that they may need the first night. Anything you can do to help them get settled in is going to be very much appreciated.
  8.  Get a list of service providers for your new tenants – Prepare a list of companies your new tenants will need to contact. They’re going to call you for this information anyhow, so you might as well have it ready for them at move in. Who provides gas or oil heating? Who provides electrical services? What about cable and internet?

Do you need help finding qualified tenants for an empty apartment(s)? We can help you fill your vacancy at NO COST to you! We do a complete a background and credit check as well as income verification and several other services. For more information, call us at 617-297-8641 or email Willie@Mandrellco.com

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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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One of the largest obstacles between you and home ownership is coming up with enough money fund the required mortgage down-payment.  Let’s assume that we’re looking for the average single family home in Massachusetts which is roughly $350,000. Let’s also assume you are like the majority of home buyers in this state and qualify for an FHA Loan, which is a 3.5% down payment or roughly $12,250. This isn’t amount of money most people have sitting in there bank accounts. So how do you find the cash to fund your dreams of home-ownership? Here are a list of things most buyers do to save up some cash:

Side Job or Temp Work –  Can you pick up a side job or work for a temp agency?  It’s may not be something you  ant to do permanently, but it’s worth it to reach your home-ownership goals.  Let’s assume you can pick up a part time job working 10 hours per week at $15 per hour. If you worked 48 of 52 weeks in the year you’d have an extra $7200 (before taxes) to add to your home savings account.

Cut Cable & Phone Bill – Many of us have Comcast or Verizon packages that consist of every movie channel, sport package and various other upgrades. Are these things we can live without for a little while?  The same goes for many phone bills. Many of us are paying $40 per month or more for data packages while the only thing we do with our phone that require data is posting to Facebook.  If you can reduce one of these bills by $50 or two of them by $25 each, you would be saving a total of $600 for the year.

Cut Gift Spending – We all love our family and friends but could you cut back on birthday and holiday gifts for one year? I think your friends and family would stand by you if your gift were less expensive this year because you’re saving to purchase a home.  Statistics show cutting this spending out entirely can put another $600 in your pocket for the year.

Work Overtime – Are there overtime hours available at your current job? Maybe it’s time to stay late or come in early. It may be a good idea to approach your manager and see what extra hours he/she can offer you.

Save Your Tax Returns – Getting a nice check back from the government this year? Don’t view this influx of cash as discretionary spending. Many Americans look at this check(s) as chance to buy a bigger TV or various other luxuries.  Be smart and save this money for your down payment.  The big screen will look better next year in your new home.

Hang At Home – Let’s assume that you’re like most of us and you love to hang out on the weekends. If you’re spending an average of $100 per weekend (drinks, food, movies etc) and your going out every other weekend, you’re spending an average of $2600 per year on entertainment. Can you cut than down this year to just 1 weekend per month? If so you’re saving $1300 per year and you’re that much closer to you saving goals.

Cut Your 401K Contributions – I’m a big believer in saving for your retirement, but I believe even more that every individual should own their own home. It may be a good idea for you to speak with your HR department and cut down (or cut out) your retirement contributions and add those additional funds to your savings.

Ask Your Family For Help – When your family sees all the lifestyle adjustments you’ve made to save for home ownership, they will see how important it is to you and will become important to them as well.  Can they help you with your down payment?

Are you looking for more helpful home ownership tips? Like us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/WMandrell.

You can also connect with us on Google Plus.

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Are you a current or aspiring landlord in Massachusetts? No matter how many years you have in the rental business, fully understanding your local market is one the most important thing you can do to ensure your long-term success. Receiving regular market updates will help you determine when’s it time to buy and when it’s time to sell. It will also allow you to see what your apartments rent for in comparison to your neighbors. Should you be increasing rents?
Here’s a preview of Roslindale’s multifamily sales and rental market statistics for the month of September.

Total Multi-Family Listings SOLD: 31
Average Living Area by Square Feet: 2,874.00
Average Listing Price: $532,735
Average DOM (Days on Market): 53.87 Days
Average Sales Price: $520,680
Average Rent for 1 Bedroom Units: $1,367
Average Rent for 2 Bedroom Units: $1,664
Average Rent for 3 Bedroom Units: $2,161
Average Rent for 4 Bedroom Units: $2,400

Want to get a FREE Sales and Rental Market Report for your specific area(s)? Just send a quick email to Contact@MandrellCo.com to receive your monthly report. In the title put the words “FREE Boston Sales Statistics” and in the body, add the up to 3 areas for which you’d like to receive data . Your name and email will be added to the next monthly reporting cycle. It’s that simple to stay up to date and ahead of the curve!

Please call us directly at 617-297-8641, for custom reports or questions above the data provided.
Report data provided by MLS Property Information Network, Inc.

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