How to Boost Your Rental Property’s Curb Appeal

How to Boost Your Rental Property’s Curb Appeal

The curb appeal of your rental property matters a lot because it can result in higher rental rates and better tenants. You may also get a greater return on investment should you choose to sell it in the future. 

Think of the curb appeal as the first impression your home makes. If it looks attractive, a prospect will be encouraged to look inside. However, if it isn’t, then a prospect may choose to walk away and look elsewhere. Now, improving the curb appeal doesn’t necessarily mean spending large sums on rental property upgrades. Small efforts can also help you make significant changes to the look and feel of your rental property. 

The following are 15 tips on how to boost your rental property’s curb appeal. 

Update the Look of the Front Door

The front door is one of your home’s focal points. If it looks like it has seen better days, a prospect won’t be inspired to enter your home. On the other hand, your property’s curb appeal will skyrocket if you install a new door. 

If you don’t have the budget to install a new door, then consider installing new hardware to the door. The hardware may include the doorknob or door knockers. Doing this can achieve almost the same effect as installing a new door. 

Landscaping and curb appeal

Add Plants and Flowers to the Yard 

To freshen up your curb appeal, add more greenery. Adding plants and flowers can help make your property appear vibrant and welcoming to prospective tenants. What’s more, this kind of environment helps create a more tranquil and serene atmosphere. 

To get started, consult with a professional gardener. You may also want to insist on planting easy-to-maintain plants. The last thing any tenant wants is to get burdened with caring for the lawn. 

Step Up the Lighting

A dark entryway can be a turn-off to a prospect. This is especially true if the front door sits under long, low porches. Luckily, lighting up an entryway doesn’t have to cost much. You can stop by a hardware store, and select a new fixture. Besides illuminating the entryway, you may also want to illuminate the whole front yard. 

Landscaping lights come in a variety of options, ranging from path lights and spotlights to post lights and floodlights. 

Apply a Fresh Coat of Paint to the Property’s Exterior

When renting out a property, normal wear and tear is guaranteed. So, after some time, you may begin to notice that your property appears dull and faded. 

Done well, paint can add immense value to your property. In fact, in some circumstances, painting a home has been shown to offer the most return on investment. And best of all, it’s probably the easiest and quickest upgrade a landlord can do. Ideally, you should repaint your rental property every 5 years if your budget allows for it. 

cleaning and painting home exterior

Power Wash Your Property Regularly

This is something that many landlords often don’t think about. However, as years go by, your home will get covered by dust, dirt, pollen, and even allergens. The same applies to sidewalks and driveways. Consequently, the surfaces get dirtier. A good power washing will help get rid of all organic debris, giving the surface a fresh, new look.

10. Clean the Windows

Windows, just like other features, contribute immensely to a property’s curb appeal. However, windows don’t come cheap. Luckily, giving the older ones a spot-free cleaning can help you achieve great results without causing a dent in your budget. 

11. Add some Outdoor Furniture

Adding some snappy furniture to your home’s exterior can help add a fun twist. The furniture can include a porch swing or Adirondack chairs. 

12. Have a Routine Cleaning Schedule

A clean home is always attractive to prospective tenants. Take some time to get rid of clutter, clean outdoor furniture, and power wash the walkways and driveways. A well-maintained property will make a prospect assume that the interior is equally cared for. Also, it may incentive a tenant to give it the same level of care when they eventually move in. 

13. Update the Mailbox

This is a feature that is often overlooked by landlords. Fortunately, upgrading a dated mailbox is an easy and relatively inexpensive task to do. A vintage-style cast-iron box, in particular, can help add an elegant touch to the look of your property’s curb appeal.

home mailbox

14. Upgrade the Garage Door

Just like the mailbox, the garage door can often get neglected. But, as a landlord looking to attract a great tenant, you may want to upgrade it to make it stand out. 

Entirely replacing the garage door can be costly. However, just like the front door, that may not be necessary. You can also upgrade it by simply adding some antique-style hinges and handles to add some character or give it a fresh coat of paint. 

15. Add Some Crucial Elements of Convenience 

Tenants nowadays are looking for ease and convenience. Generally speaking, a property with smart tech features will be more attractive to savvy tenants than one without. Some of the smart features that renters find desirable include keyless entry, video doorbells, automatic timers, smart bulbs, motion sensor lights, and remote unlock capability. 

Bottom Line

There you have it, 15 tips on how to boost your rental property’s curb appeal. Boosting your curb appeal will elevate your rental space, thereby making it stand out from the competition. As a result, you may find the marketing process a bit easier. 

If you’re looking to partner with an expert in this regard or any aspect of property management, T-Square Properties can help. We’ll manage your rental property with professional care and provide owners and tenants with peace of mind. Contact us today to learn more about our services!  

How to Avoid Water Damage in Your Rental Property

How to Avoid Water Damage in Your Rental Property

Water damage resulting from leaks is one of the most disastrous events to occur in a home. It can ruin the floors, furniture, and walls. With the exorbitant cost that water damage carries, preventing it from happening ensures your finances are intact. There are many reasons why water damage can occur but most commonly it’s attributed to weather, plumbing, and/ or appliance issues.

If you want to learn how to better protect your property, keep on reading!

What Are the Likely Causes of Water Damage Issues?

Water leaks are the top causes of water damage but even more serious are hidden water leaks. Tracking them down is of prime importance to reduce the negative effects. However, it’s easier said than done. Most of the time, the signs are slow to reveal themselves. A good tip is to engage the services of a plumber to find the source of the leak and resolve the issue.

The following list covers most of the common causes of water damage but isn’t exhaustive. Common causes include:

  • Damaged toilets where plumbing is seen to malfunction
  • Incidence of water heaters blowing up or malfunctioning
  • Supply hoses on washing machines that have exceeded their life expectancy. Normally, they need to be replaced every 8 to 9 years to ensure that they’re free from leaks
  • Gutters clogged with dirt and leaves which redirects the flow of water
  • Water build-up resulting from equipment damage, clogged pipes, and mineralized deposits
  • Presence of busted water pipes that have blockages or leaks

common signs of water damage

  • Frozen pipes that increase the pressure given the expansion of water inside
  • Corrosion happening inside the pipes can create leaks inside faucets and water valves
  • Invasive tree roots that can damage water supply lines
  • Pressure coming from obstructed appliances and garbage disposal
  • Failure of PEX and CPVC plastic pipes
  • Existence of harsh chemicals, potable water, and unsuitable installation of the pipe
  • Incidence of rodents biting off the PEX
  • Sewage backups arising from severe rainstorms and floods

How to Spot Signs of Water Damage

Although damages might not always be obvious to the naked eye there are several ways to spot potential issues. These are signs indicative of water damage:

  • The appearance of mold or smell of mildew in the bathroom and kitchen despite the regular cleaning sessions
  • Ceilings that display stains can be due to water leaks on floors or walls
  • Cracks in walls and the formation of bubbles on the wall paint
  • Discovering water pools on your floor and wood floor cupping
  • Seeing dry rot in wooden elements of the property
  • A higher than regular water bill fee

How to Prevent Water Damage?

Prevention is always better than dealing with the aftermath of water damage. You can reduce the possibility of water damage by setting up safeguards in your rental properties. Here are great ways to do it:

preventing water damage in rentals

Inspect the Gutters

Gutters must be cleaned and maintained regularly. A good rule of thumb would be after a rainstorm and at the end of each season. To ensure that the gutters filter the incoming debris, you must take time to get rid of the blockages. 

The gutters’ angle must also be positioned downwards. This drains the water away from the structure instead of gathering and releasing it onto the foundation. 

Examine the Downspouts

Make sure that your gutter’s downspouts are extended and positioned away from the property. Drainage is crucial and the water must be prevented from gathering around the property. If the downspouts are installed properly, flooding issues are avoided. Inspect if there are damages on the downspout so you can have it fixed or replaced right away.

Grade the Yard

The grading of the property must be examined. When there’s heavy rain, the volume of water rises quickly on the level ground. This can expose your property to increasing risks. Ideally, buildings should be designed with a sloping lot to drain the water effectively.

Investigate the Outside Drains

It’s essential to check the drains outside, especially the ones located close to your doors. Debris must be cleared to limit flooding issues.

Inspect Your Roof

It’s vital to conduct roof inspections to facilitate repairs or replacements when you discover missing shingles. Water should not find its way in through any roof leaks as this can increase the risk of water damage in your home.

protecting your property from water damage

Correctly Seal the Windows

Observe your windows and if you find any cracks. Should you find any have them repaired right away.

Check that Your Sump Pump is Functional

To get rid of water from basements, a sump pump is installed. It can perceive changes in water levels or pressure. You must ensure that the sump pump is in working order. If damages are present, it can increase the moisture of the basement and lead to unwanted effects such as mold growth.

Probe the Walls for Cracks

Cracks in the walls of your property open the opportunity for water damage by seeping into the foundation. This can render the building unsafe.

Inspect Perimeter Walls and Drains if Flooding Occurred

Contact a foundation expert when water gathers on your exterior walls. This can indicate a structural issue and must be repaired immediately. Walls must be properly sealed.

Remove Cooking Fats the Right Way

Improper disposal of cooking oil can lead to clogged pipes. Cooking oils turn into solid matter after a cooling-off period. It’s advisable to pack them tightly and throw them in the trash bins instead of washing them down drains.

Remove Blockages from Your Floor Drains

Clear floor drains from the accumulation of dirt and hair. Schedule regular cleaning to prevent the costly effect of water damage inside your property. 

Bottom Line

Reducing risks is better than spending a lot on fixing the damage brought about by water issues. With these tips, you’ll be better equipped to protect your property. However, if you’re a long-distance landlord, it might be best to engage the services of a property management company to ensure your property is protected.

If you would like help managing your rental properties, contact the team at T-Square Properties today!

The Value of Professional Photography  for Rentals

The Value of Professional Photography for Rentals

Having professionals take photographs of a property you bring into the market has long been common for people wanting to sell a home. 

But with the pandemic changing all sorts of habits, the use of professional Real Estate photography is growing for rentals, too. 

Tenants are becoming wary of visiting homes not adequately sanitized. Travel restrictions come and go, and tenants demand more information about purchasing online. Logically, the rental market has to follow this trend. 

Lex Shan from The Cal Agents, a leading Bay Area property management company, has written extensively about the impact of COVID on rental property. In his opinion, “every Real Estate transaction, no matter which, needs to be supported with professionally taken pictures. It is the new market standard, and it is not going back”.

In this scenario, pictures taken with a Smartphone are no longer what the tenants expect. They often fail to highlight what is unique about rental property. Minimal editing and special effects are available to improve them. They are frequently not compatible with Real Estate advertising platforms. Renters demand video and virtual reality solutions, which are difficult to develop by non-professionals. 

Real Estate photographers can not only give a landlord beautiful still photos. Technology allows them to make 3D tours, aerial drone shots, and many other HD products that will powerfully convey what makes your rental unique and worth the rent you are asking for it. 

It is also important to note that professional photography is compatible with people’s listing platforms to search for their next home. That means more impact on the market and less time adapting your pictures to what those platforms demand.

To make your photography investment more eye-catching and attractive, Real Estate photography vendors give some simple advice on preparing your home for a shoot. These are:

  • Declutter your home before the shoot. Unneeded elements must go.  
  • Remove family pictures and very personal decorations. Remember that your photos will be on the web for anyone to see, and you must protect your privacy. 
  • Pets and pet-related items must not appear. Although your pet policy must show in your rental ad, people do not like looking at other persons’ pets. 
  • All lights must be working, and sunlight let in. The photographer’s time will be a lot more productive if you do this. 
  • Stage your bedrooms and add color to them. Make them look cozy.
  • The House exterior must be clean and free of cars. Make outdoor spaces look more prominent.

By following this recommendation about lightning, staging, and others, you will surely get stunning material.

Digital Staging works wonders for houses that are empty. Empty homes do not look inviting, but physical staging is difficult and costly. With Virtual Staging, furniture, lamps, rugs, and many details get added to your property’s picture. In addition, you can highlight the use of each room as a home office that potential renters seek.

If your rental listing is part of an attractive community or natural setting, words might not be enough. Consider aerial photography and video. Drones allow you to take breathtaking shots of the house and its environment. Be sure to hire a photographer that works with a fully licensed pilot. Also, every community has its regulations regarding shooting from the air. Be sure to understand what those are and share them with your supplier. 

With today’s digital solutions, you can add twilight effects to your pictures. These effects make features such as fireplaces and pools more dramatic and unforgettable. Twilight effects are the way to go when you have a premium property to rent.  

And finally, you should use this material to edit a simple yet convincing video of the property. Many apps on the web allow you to do interesting DIY videos. Upload your video on Youtube or other streaming platforms and share your link with all those that show interest in your rental.

For top-of-the-market rentals aimed at the most demanding renters, 3D virtual tours are the ideal solution. It allows customers to visit a property 24/7 and check all room details from every possible angle. As a result, the inconvenience of setting up appointments, juggling schedules, and driving gets minimized. When you have applicants that live out-of-state or abroad, a 3D virtual tour is the best solution to raise interest from the best potential renters. 3D tours answer all possible questions about the distribution of space in a property. 

 

The Real Estate industry needs to move with the digital times. Landlords and Realtors need to provide instant and satisfying experiences to customers in the digital environment. Do not let quality potential tenants go to the rental with better photos. The people who visit your listing will be better informed, even excited, about your property and more willing to become your tenants.

Collecting Rent on Your Snohomish Rental Home

Collecting Rent on Your Snohomish Rental Home

One of the most time-consuming, yet most important, aspects of being a landlord is collecting rent. You get passive income every month, which you can put back into your real estate investment portfolio to increase your wealth.

That said, rent collection doesn’t always go as planned. It’s critical to collect rent effectively and cover all of your bases to avoid late payments or even messy court issues. Because of the importance of this task and issues that can arise from it, it’s important for a landlord to develop rent collection strategies that work best for them. 

Here are five options you can consider for collecting rent from your tenants.

Factors to Consider When a Choosing Suitable Rent Collection Method 

Not every strategy of rent collection is appropriate for you as a landlord. A few factors influence which tools are appropriate for property and tenant management. These considerations might assist you in determining the most appropriate technique for you and your tenants:

  • Number of Tenants or Total Number of Rental Units – A landlord with 20 rental units does not need to physically walk from door to door requesting rent. They require a more streamlined and effective method of rent collection that will save them time and energy.
  • Distance From Your Rental Property – If you live far away from your rentals, it makes little sense to collect rent yourself. Instead, you could be better off contracting a third party to collect the rent or switching to an electronic payment method.

considerations landlords should make

  • Desire to Interact With Your Tenants – Whether or not you enjoy in-person interactions with your Snohomish, Washington tenants should also be a factor in your decision. It’s crucial to recognize and adopt a more hands-off approach to managing if you’d like to reduce tenant interactions. 
  • Your Tech Skills – It won’t be hard to integrate an electronic service for rent collection if you already know the basics of online payment methods. If you and your tenants are tech-savvy or have an understanding of online payment systems this might be best for all parties. 

5 Methods for Collecting Rent 

No matter what system you choose, you must include a provision in the lease agreement that clarifies the rent collection procedure. Here are five possible collection methods to think about:

1. Online Rent Collection

Collecting rent online saves you the time and hassle of tracking down tenants in person. It always allows tenants to pay from anywhere. What’s more, many of these online collection applications are simple to use. 

Note, however, that it may take a few days to process your rent before the money reaches your hands depending on the software you choose. Furthermore, if your principal means of collecting rental payments is online, you will almost always need to provide an alternative method of payment, such as paying rent by mail.

online rent collection systems

Conduct an online search before deciding on a service to identify the site that best meets your requirements. Some charge different prices depending on the plan you choose. Other websites may offer extra features that you can take advantage of. 

Rent can also be collected through money transfer services like PayPal and Venmo. Consider the following:

  • Pay Pal is a free service with a longer processing time. It also requires that the tenant follow the specified instructions, or the payment will be delayed and a fee will be charged to your account.
  • Venmo offers fast payment, but you must be friends on social media to use it. 

2. Collecting Rent Via the Mail

You can choose to allow tenants to mail their rental payments to you in the form of a cheque, cash, or money order. This is another option that saves you from having to collect payments yourself.

However, there are several disadvantages to collecting rent by mail. Even if the envelope is postmarked by the due date for rent collection, you may not receive the cash for several days. Although the rent would not be technically late, you would still not receive it on time. Furthermore, partial rent payment in the mail can go unnoticed for longer.

3. Choosing a Common Physical Drop-Off Location

If you have established a common office for your real estate investing business, you might want to allow tenants to drop off their rent there. Allowing tenants to drop off rent payments at your home address or ever disclosing your home address to your tenants is strongly discouraged unless you reside at the same address as your tenant. 

Rent drop-off locations

You should also make sure they don’t leave envelopes full of cash, which might be stolen, or a tenant could claim they left a specific amount but the envelope contains less.

4. Collect Rent In Person

You have the option of collecting rental payments from all tenants directly. The advantage is that you will get your payment in your hands right away. If you’re getting paid in cash, this is sometimes the best approach because you can count out all of the money by hand and provide them a receipt of the transaction.

The drawback is that trying to schedule pick-up times with all of your renters is time-consuming and frustrating.

5. Contract a Property Management Company

You could hire a property management service provider to handle rent collection on your behalf. Property management companies not only collect rent payments for you, but they can also handle all tenant complaints, maintenance issues, and fill vacancies.

Closing Thoughts

It’s impossible to run a lucrative rental property without adequate rent collection policies. As a landlord, you have many options at your disposal to facilitate the rent collection process. Property owners can also work with a reputable organization that is well-versed in the complexities and nuances of modern real estate management and investing.

T-Square Real Estate Services, Inc. operates in Snohomish county that specializes in property management of multifamily, complex apartment, commercial, and single-family properties. Our rent collecting processes allow tenants to pay their rent online, ensuring that rent is collected on time, securely, and smoothly each month. 

Contact us today to learn more about our property management services! 

17 Terms All Real Estate Investors Should Know

17 Terms All Real Estate Investors Should Know

No matter what field you’re passionate about, fully grasping the industry jargon can make your life easier. As someone interested in real estate investment, mastering the common terms in the real estate industry will be beneficial to your life.

It’s easy to get confused when surrounded by professionals with years in the real estate industry. But, with practice, you can power through the property investment conversations and gain confidence over time. Before starting, it’s essential to ask why it’s vital to be aware of the meaning behind these real estate investment terminologies.

Familiarizing Yourself with Real Estate Terms

One of the best reasons for improving your knowledge of real estate terms is improving your communication. When you don’t have to look up every term during a property negotiation then you save a lot of​ time. You can quickly be on the same page with the other real estate experts during the discussions.

When participating in transactions with property buyers and sellers, you’re bound to encounter these real estate investment terms.

landlord-tenant relationship

Here are some of the common real estate investing terms to learn:

1. Rental Property

This term refers to a property type where owners receive a fixed income from renters. As an investment property, rental properties can be split into two categories: residential and commercial real estate.

2. Short-term Rental

Aimed at tourists, short-term rentals have ready furnishings for use. They’re rented out for a short duration and are popular on platforms such as Airbnb.

3. Long-term Rental

This type of property is designed for renters looking to stay in one location for a long time. Investors often gain a steady stream of income from owning a long-term rental unit.

4. Homeowner’s Association

Common in condominiums and planned communities, homeowner’s associations oversee taking care of residences in a particular area. If you own a property handled by an HOA, you’re expected to comply with their ready set of policies. An HOA fee is also collected from you.

5. Closing

This refers to finalizing a property purchase. This means that the contracts and documents are all in order and signed. The money transfer payment has also been completed. When a lender is part of the transaction, it also means that the financing of the purchase has been approved.

6. Closing Costs

Prior to the closing of real estate sales, there are payments to be made. They can include payment to insurance firms, lawyers, lenders, homeowner’s associations, realtors and other companies. Payment is done when a property transaction is closed.

7. Rental Income

This refers to the money accepted by the landlord from the tenant staying in the rental property.

8. Multiple Listing Service

Composed of a database where homes are listed for sale and for rent, it’s a marketing system that real estate agents and brokers can access. Listing agents add properties for sale and rent. Agents can then check the available properties in the market on behalf of their clients.

9. Cash Flow

This is known as the money that an investor ends up with after all the payables are done. Payables can refer to mortgage payments and operation costs. Cash flow can be defined as negative or positive.

man handing over house keys

If you’re left with more cash at the end of the month, your cash flow is positive. If the expenses are more than your earnings, your cash flow is negative.

10. Seller’s Market

In a market where the properties are fewer and the demand is high, property prices increase. This environment is advantageous for the property sellers. It’s known as a seller’s market.

11. Buyer’s Market

In a market where the properties are abundant and the demand is low, property prices go down. This environment is advantageous for the property buyers. It’s known as a buyer’s market.

12. Appreciation

Given a longer duration, a real estate property is bound to raise its value. This phenomenon is termed as appreciation. The cause of higher value can be attributed to a growing demand, inflation or lack of supply.

13. Credit score

This measures a person’s trustworthiness based on their credit ratings. A good credit score means a quick approval for loans and application to be a renter. This number is often used by lenders and landlords to evaluate whether someone will be able to pay off a loan or rental dues.

14. Realtor

This refers to real estate professionals who represent buyers or sellers during property negotiations. A realtor is a member of the National Association of Realtors and subject to its rules of conduct and ethics.

15. Real Estate Agent

This refers to real estate professionals who can act on behalf of the buyers or sellers during a negotiation. Most beginning real estate professionals start off as an agent. They typically are employed by a real estate broker.

16. Real Estate Broker

This refers to real estate professionals who are licensed and can act as representatives for buyers and sellers in a transaction. They operate independently and hire real estate agents.

guy on the phone

Brokers have plenty of real estate expertise and can handle complex contracts.

17. Proof of Funds

Prior to making a property offer, a buyer must have proof of funds. Sellers will look for it so they can rely that you have available funds to proceed with the purchase. If you choose to buy through a mortgage, you still need to provide evidence that you can pay off the down payment and closing costs.

Among the documents that are accepted as proof of funds are bank statements with the bank letterhead. Another would be certified financial statements bearing the signature of an accountant.

Bottom Line

You’re likely to encounter more real estate investing terms while being immersed in the field. For now, familiarizing yourself with these terms can make real estate transactions easier for you! If you’re still having trouble, be sure to give T-Square Real Estate Services a call. We’ll help you navigate the real estate industry and make the most out of your investment property.

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