Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Investing in Property

When considering an investment in property, location is at the top of the list, however there are several other factor to consider.

Location will be the key to attracting retail clients to your property and customers to their businesses-- so choose carefully.If looking at the a possible commercial property, look for one with convenient access to major transportation, including roads, trains, bus routes and airports. You should also give strong consideration to the building and facilities. Choose a space that is comfortable, functional and an aesthetically pleasing--so that you have an attractive workplace for tenants. Consider space that can be flexible and easily adapted for office space or retail so that you can attract a variety of tenants.

Commercial property is a valuable investment. Choosing the best commercial property can mean the difference between profit and loss--so take your time, do your research, and work with a quality commercial property realty company.

-Property Manager

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

New Law Affects HOAs

The NC General Assembly passed House Bill 806, October 1, 2009 requires increased Home Owner Association responsibility. What this means to you:

This new law requires that the homeowners associations make reasonable and diligent effort to locate and notify a lot owner prior to filing a claim of lien for assessments, as well as written notice including a statement of the assessment amount due sent by first-class mail to the owner. These must be sent to the owner's address of record with the Association, (and if different), the physical address of the property, the address for the owner shown on the county tax records, the address for the owner shown on the county real property records for the lot or unit, and, if the owner is a corporation, the address of the registered agent listed with the Secretary of State.

The new law also states that the lien paperwork from the attorney's office must be sent by certified mail, and the attorney's office must also provide proof that it made a reasonable effort to contact the homeowner, and an affidavit affirming this fact.

The first page of the lien must also include this verbiage:

This new HOA law means that governing the collections and filing of liens by homeowner associations will become more complicated and labor intensive from now on. HOAs will be required to take additional steps before and during the collection process in order to file claims of lien properly and to collect on them through the foreclosure process.

As a result, homeowner associations should review and update their collection policies and procedures, including routine updating of owner information, to ensure that they can navigate effectively through the new statutory framework.

If you are on the board of an HOA in NC, you should work with your property management company to ensure that these new proceedures are being followed.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Tips for Choosing a Property Management Company

Dear Property Manager,

I would like to buy a residential rental property in the Charlotte area. Can you give me some tips for choosing a property manager to take care of these rental units?

Thanks and Happy Holidays,

Francis K. Fort Mill, SC

Dear Francis:

With property prices at all time lows, residential rental properties continue to make for great investment in the Charlotte area. However, as with all investments, it is important to create efficiencies and good management practices to create return on the investment, and this means hiring the right property management company for you and your property.

The following tips will ensure you choose the best property manager for you.

Choose a company that is knowledgeable of the local market
The property management company that you choose needs to know the local rental market and what renters are looking for. A great property management company will make smart decisions and and cost-conscious recommendations to keep the property competitive, increase profit--and make updates to improve the property making it more desirable, increase rental rates, lower turnover and decrease vacancy.

Ask for, and check on your property manager's references
A property manager's current customers will be the best judge of the kind of service you can expect--so request the references, and then make those calls! Request references from property owners with properties and situations most like yours.

Require great customer service.
Choosing a property management company that makes offering great customer service a priority. You should be able to expect good customer service, the ability to reach someone in an emergency and good and consistent communication about the property.

Choose a company that manages the money well
In addition to being able to collect the rent, it is important that the property management company is able to manage the money so that it stays in the bank and earns as much interest as possible each month. This is a careful balancing act, but a good professional company will be able to do this and maximize profits and cash flow in your favor.

Find a property management company that knows how to do the accounting
Accounting for revenues and expenses with investment property can be the thing that makes or breaks the investment. Choose a property management company that is organized and has accounting skills so that at when tax season comes up, all of your income and cash flows should be easily accessible and in the correct order to make your tax paying easy.

Find a property management company that prioritizes relationships
A good property management company will prioritize good relationships with their tenants. Just as you as the owner is a client, the tenants are also customers and should be treated like it. Tenants who feel they have a good relationship with the property management company are more likely to stay longer, and decrease turn-over and all the expenses that come with it!

So you are looking for a property management company who knows the area, is personable, good with money and numbers, has great references and puts you first! Sound impossible? Not at all--that is just the way we do business. Call Kuester at 704.973.9019 to learn more.

--Property Manager

Monday, December 14, 2009

Tips for Commercial Property Landlords

If you are the owner of a commercial property and have chosen to handle the property management duties yourself, there are a few things that you MUST do--And if you have chosen to hire a professional property management company to handle the tenant and property responsibilities, than the list below is important for you when interviewing potential companies!

1. Screen potential tenants.
Before renting to any business, check credit history, references, and the background of the person or company renting the space. This may seem like a tiresome process, but it will save a ton of frustration later by eliminating those least likely to pay, pay on time, and keep the space in the best condition possible.

2. Get it in writing.
Always put the entirety of the rental agreement in writing -- including when and how you will collect rent, handle tenant complaints and how to report repair problem. Make sure to include what kind of notice you must give to enter a tenant's space, and how the agreement can be terminated--on both sides.

3. Manage security deposits properly.
Develop a system for collecting, holding, and returning security deposits. Create an inspection document that states the condition of the rental unit before the tenant moves in--including pictures if possible, to avoid disputes over security deposits when the tenant moves out. Be very specific, and return the deposit when the unit is vacated properly.

4. Make repairs quickly and professionally.
The fastest way to upset your tenants is to be lazy in the maintenance and repair needs of the property. If the property is not kept in good repair, you'll alienate good tenants, and you could potentially be violating the rental agreement.

5. Keep the property safe.
Take the safety and security of the property seriously. Keep landscaping neat and tidy, install and test regularly the smoke detectors and fire extinguishers. Make sure doors and windows close properly and lock and that the property and building steps and walkways are clear of debris and kept in good condition.

6. Provide notice before entering.
When possible, notify your tenants whenever you plan to enter their rental unit. Respect their privacy and their feeling of security by giving as much notice as possible.

7. Disclose environmental hazards.
If your building or the property has a known environmental hazard such as mold, it is your responsibility to disclose the issue. Landlords are increasingly being held liable for tenant health problems resulting from exposure to environmental toxins in the rental premises--so disclose the issue and take the necessary steps to resolve it.

8. Protect yourself with insurance.
Make sure to obtain enough liability and property insurance. Proper insurance will protect you from lawsuits filed by tenants, or visitors for injuries, losses, and other unforeseen problems.

9. Resolve disputes.
As the property manager, it is your job to resolve disputes with your tenants (or amongst them) quickly and professionally--hopefully without lawyers and lawsuits. If you have a conflict with a tenant over rent, repairs, noise, or some other issue that isn't one that merits immediate eviction, you should meet with the tenant to see if the problem can be resolved informally. Third party mediation is also an option to consider in some locations.
There are many things that a property manager handles daily--and it is never the same twice!
If you are interested in more information on property management in Charlotte, call Kuester Property Management at 704.973.9019.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Are you a Property Manager? Here are 10 Tips!

The property management business is an important one for so many people who rely on our services--property owners, tenants and the communities we serve. While we certainly want property owners in our areas of Boone, Myrle Beach, Charlotte, Fort Mill and Concord to work with Kuester, we know that the rest of the country certainly is in need of the best from their property managers as well, so we have put together a few tips to help the new or struggling property manager.

1. Make a good first impression. Dress professionally and make a great first impression. How the you look and behave during the first meeting will set the tone for your relationship with the tenant--and then, of course, continue to treat your tenants with the utmost respect and professionalism, even in times of stress. The effort will go a long way.

2. Consider allowing pets. Many property management companies will no longer allow pets, so being pet-friendly will give you a competetive advantage. But remember to set and enforce a pet-policy, so that any damage is anticipated, paid for by the tenant and repaired in a timely manner.

3. Be organized and follow strict procedures. A disorganized or unprofessional project manager appears as if they don't care. Make sure your presentation packets, checklists and paperwork is in order before you meet with tenants.

4. Keep the property well-maintained. Even if it's outdated in areas, a clean property can overcome many objections. Wash the windows, manicure the yard..show some pride of ownership.

5. Be generous for great tenants. Offer special discounts for tenants who sign a multi-year lease, or set up auto-pay through their paychecks or banks.

6. Follow a regular schedule. Let them know that you will be accessing the property every other month for a maintenance checkup. Ask the tenants to put any non-emergency maintenance items on a list on the refrigerator so you can address them on your visit.

7. Remember their birthdays. A birthday card goes a long way! By sending a little card and note on their birthday, you are showing that you care about them as more than just a monthly rent check.

8. Include the washer & dryer. While a washer & dryer--and to a lesser extent a dishwasher may seem like luxeries to many--to some this is the kind of thing that will make-or break the deal. Be the option with the extras - and you will get more interest in your units, (plus you can re-coup the cost by charging a marginally higher rate!)

9. Offer an incentive. Everyone loves an incentive--so offer a free month if they sign this week, or throw in the upgraded cable, but never offer the first month free, give new tenants their birthday month free, or the 13th month, after they pay the first 12 (a "baker's dozen"). This way you wont get tenants just looking for a free place to live before they move on.

10. Be present. Be available. Lack of communication can quickly break down the tenant/landlord relationship. Respond to their questions and concerns promptly.

Kuester Property Management: Concord, Boone, Myrtle Beach, Fort Mill, Charlotte