Friday, October 30, 2009

Hiring a Property Manager or Management Company

So you’re tired of doing it all yourself, and you’ve decide to hire a property management company to help you run your new rental empire! Finding the perfect person to fit into this important position is a momentous task. To help you find the right person for this key role, we have come up with a few simple tips for you to remember while interviewing prospective property managers.

1) Get recommendations and references! Look over qualifications! Do background checks and make sure that this person/company is honest and reliable.

2) Check over the professional directories, like the Institute of Real Estate Management (IREM) at and the National Association of Residential Property Managers' (NARPM) at You will find plenty of information there to help your decision.

3) Interview the candidates yourself. They will be your proxy, so you better trust them. You will want to make sure you have a clear ability to communicate with your possible property manager-- and you need to know they will be able to communicate with your tenants.

4) Are they a local? Someone with experience, connections, and some time spent in your community is always preferred. A property manager who knows the streets of your city, the contractors, the rules and regulations, will ease every one of your headaches.

5) Make sure they your candidate is a professional who can serve in your stead. You want a person who can calmly handle any problems thrown at them.

6) Talk to your attorney, any partners, and your current tenants. Listen and observe, take advice, be open to suggestions. A good referral from a trusted source goes a long way.

Make sure to talk to as many candidates as possible. This is an important job, and you don’t want to hire the wrong man or woman (or company) for the job.

Property Manager
Kuester Companies

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Get Your Commercial Retail Space ready for the Holidays

Holiday decorating in the 21st Century can be a tricky task. You want to stay seasonal and festive, but you don’t want to offend or seem biased to any cultural or religious groups. We have some tips and ideas for you, but remember to filter them through the specific needs of your business, your neighborhood, and the wants of your customers.

A) Music
We are kind of biased, our favorite holiday tunes are most definitely The Charlie Brown Christmas Special soundtrack. But, that might not work for you and your business. If you are going to play holiday music in your facility, you have two options: keeping it holiday neutral (no Christmas mentions, etc.) or letting it run the gamut of holidays. We prefer the later. You can find on iTunes, or through other online services, a plethora of songs about Kwanzaa, Christmas, and Hanukkah. Add in some non-secular songs, some modern interpretations, a little bit of this and that, and you can create a play list that will not offend anyone, but delight everyone. Just do us one favor, don’t start playing it till after Thanksgiving! PLEASE!

B) Lights! Lights! Lights!
Lights always help to create a mood! AND they are "friendly" to all backgrounds and affiliations - especially the classic white light. A simple string of lights (and it is totally your choice whether to go with a small white classy strand or the more gauche big colored bulbs) can transform your simple store into a winter wonderland! If possible, unveil some special candles or tea lights (fire codes permitting). Remember, orange and red lights for the spooky and scary Halloween season can be slightly modified to give off a friendly glow near Thanksgiving. Respond to your customers needs, make sure to keep your business properly lit, but have some fun! Whatever you do, try to keep things appropriate for your clientele.

C) Decorations
Almost as tricky as the music you will play, any decorations you display have to be carefully thought out. Again, think of your business and customers. Go with simple, all inclusive colors, ornaments, or signage. If you think witches, ghosts and goblins might be too much for your place, go with fall colors, some autumnal colors, leaves, branches, hay bails and other signs of the harvest. In December, anything with silver and gold will probably please everyone, and snow elements and winter themes like snowmen always are popular. On the flipside, you can embrace all cultures and give them display. It can be a hardy task, unless you have the room and creative talent to showcase all of the holiday season’s many special dates. Most of all, remember the holidays are a time of peace, thanks-giving, generosity and kindness. This is what should be reflected.

D) Specials and Promotions
If you are a restaurant, consider featuring new seasonal menu items that highlight the season. If you’re a retail store, bring in some special merchandise, run a few holiday promotions, and make sure your inventory reflects the mood of your shoppers. Dentist can run post-Halloween specials for kid’s teeth, and gyms can suggest increased work-outs after gobbling down a lot of food over the holidays. Make your advertisements and marketing efforts reflect the season – and the general public will respond. You don’t have to make huge changes to your routine, but adding Pumpkin Pie or selling Holiday Cards certainly takes you from “Bah Humbug” to “Happy Holidays!”

Now all decorating advice is subjective. While the common trend a few years ago was to remain rigidly politically correct, society has loosened up a bit and people seem to welcome the celebration of our holidays. Dressing on Halloween doesn’t mean you’re a Satanist, having a stuffed turkey cut-out by your register doesn’t mean you are anti-Native American, (or anti-vegetarian) and a Christmas tree sometimes is just a beautiful tree--and a symbol of sustained life. As long as you and your staff are friendly, welcoming, and polite – your decorations will only accent your business.

Best of luck and have a wonderful holiday season!

Property Manager
Kuester Companies

Saturday, October 10, 2009

When Should You Hire a Property Management Company?

One of the major decisions as a property owner is whether you should hire a property management company. Many landlords manage properties all by themselves, occasionally with the help of an employee or associate. Depending on the type of property, and how demanding your tenants are, some landlords might need outside assistance.

Property management companies often are the landlords first line of defense. They take the late night phone calls, they collect the rent, they haggle with demanding tenants. Nightmare tenant? The property manager will even handle the eviction. A qualified management agency will also bring their contacts and experience to your property, sometimes having more solid networks and resources then an individual.

If you have lot of properties or units that you rent to the public, the more you're likely to benefit from a management company. Especially if your full-time job isn’t going to be a landlord. Living out of the region from the property in question is also incredibly tough. You can’t react quickly or easily to any property issue if you are several time zones or states away. Hiring a property management service is critical in dealing with issues that you will not be able to handle from across the continent.

Many landlords and property owners are looking at additional properties as investments. They shirk away from any type of hands-on management, as it is either not their forte, or simply they have different priorities. If you have never had to find a tenant or renter for a property, you will discover that it can a rewarding, interesting, frustrating, stressful, and exhausting process. Spending your weekends interviewing possible renters may not be your cup of tea. If you view rental property ownership strictly as an investment and want little or nothing to do with the day-to-day management of your properties, consider hiring help to manage your property.

If you happen to participate in an affordable housing program, things are going to get super complicated. In these programs, the landlord receives financial assistance, in the form of a grant, low-interest loan, or tax credits, in return for agreeing to rent at least part of the property to tenants earning below a certain income level. In order to receive the financial assistance, the landlord must comply with a STRINGENT set of rules. There is a ton of paperwork, as there always is with anything that the government hovers around. Again, if you are not planning on being a landlord FULLTIME, then you should hire a property management company that has past success with these particular housing programs.

Now if all this sounds interesting or intriguing to you, then perhaps you need to start talking to some possible property managers. How do you find a property manager? Well….That is a completely different article! Tune in again in a few weeks to find out our advice on how to FIND a qualified property manager.

Property Manager
Kuester Companies
Charlotte Concord Boone Myrtle Beach Fort Mill

Monday, October 5, 2009

How HOAs Can Increase Property Value

We have talked about this before... but we get questions all the time about Homeowner Associations. While well-run associations will increase the value of homes in the neighborhood, hey are not for everyone. If you are the kind of person who cannot commit to participate in some way, or needs to be able to keep your pet goat in your back-yard, an HOA neighborhood may not be a good fit. As with and homeowner decision, HOAs decisions should be a strongly weighed and carefully considered.

Becoming a homeowner can be almost as stressful and taxing as becoming a parent. On a daily weekly, and monthly basis you are confronted with a series of questions and problems that have to be overcome. All this, while struggling to keep your neighbors happy and your property value up. Many homeowners find some comfort in working with other homeowners to make decision and effect changes. Homeowners Associations (HOAs) can not only offer you a spirit of solidarity, but they also have been proven to help increase your property values.

HOAs exist to "protect and enhance" a person’s property value. A HOA serves as a way to keep everyone in your little kingdom on the same page. You won’t have to worry about any adjoining homes becoming run down or uncared for... Members of the HOA keep the paint from fading, will ensure the grass is constantly cut, and that your streets are free of garbage and trash. All the rules in the HOA are spelled out for you when you purchase, so if you don’t like the regulations – you don’t have to buy. But once you join, you are expected to carry your weight! In today's market, HOA's may be of greater importance because they, if well managed, can enforce maintenance standards. With more and more homes going to rental, this can be important as one can often tell a rental by the lack of upkeep--and this affects all homes in the neighborhood! 

HOAs can also create conformity in your neighborhood. This is especially important if you live any type of subdivision. Typically, subdivisions are called planned unit developments, or PUDs and are built with a limited amount of architectural plans from which to choose. This creates a uniform look for the development – and it’s a tradition in modern American communities. An HOA can make sure that this uniformity is preserved after the developers and real estate agents have left town. We all applaud individuality, and every homeowner should have the right to express themselves in their property. A HOA will serve as a moderating force within a community, making sure no tension is built do to an extremely creative family getting a bit unleashed with their home’s exterior look.

Now before you dive into an HOA, consider that there are minuses as well. Check out the HOA’s covenant (their rules and regulations), talk to the neighbors, and give yourself some time to decide if it is a good fit for you.

Property Manager

Kuester Companies

Thursday, October 1, 2009

When You Are Looking For Retail Space…

Are you searching for a location for a new retail project in the Charlotte area? Finding the right commercial space has a lot to do with the specific project, but there are some principals that you should keep in mind no matter what you are going to be selling (or buying)…

A) Location, Location, Location:
Okay, its been said time and time again…The location of your new or transplanted business can be a key in future success. Does your new spot get a lot of passing foot traffic? How much competition is next to, or near it? What type of complimentary businesses are your neighbors? Is it easily accessible or a destination spot? Make sure the location is the perfect place for your business. (If you need assistance finding that right location, contact us at Kuester at 888.600.5044)

B) Outer Space? Inner Space? What kind of space?:
Does your potential space work for you? Don’t just concentrate on the square footage of your new spot, does the actual shape, height, width, and flow of the property work for your endeavor? Make sure your new commercial site isn’t too narrow, or to dark. Do you have enough windows, how many entrances and exits are there? What side of the street is the space on? Envision yourself in there everyday for a long time, and think hard on whether or not it will work for you.
C) Crime
Being in a neighborhood that has some crime issues is a problem. While it is a positive to be the business that is trailblazing into a gentrifying neighborhood, there are definite negatives to it too. Bars, restaurants, and office spaces might have no problems, but retail stores will suffer terribly. Not only do you need to look at crime as a threat to your property and inventory, but to your customers, clientele and employees.

D) Parking

It might be a part of your location question, but for some businesses it is an important enough issue to site by itself. Do your customers need parking or will most of them be walking to your location? If you think they will be driving, then make sure you have ample street parking or are close to a parking lot. Check the meter situation on your street. If you have lots or garages nearby, approach their owners/management about creating a special deal for your customers. Customers who know you are looking out for them and their wheels will be happy customers.

E) The Rules!
Every neighborhood, township, town, hamlet, city, and street has different rules, laws, and regulations. Research all the ordinances in your neighborhood before you sign a lease or make a land grab. Some locations will not work for all businesses. Signage issues, historic preservation, liquor laws, curfews, noise ordinances – make sure that your business won’t be upsetting any apple carts. Make sure to check with your future neighbors and ask them how they got through the system if the regulations limit what you are hoping to do.

--Property Manager
Kuester Companies