2012 – A New Beginning

As we enter 2012, there is a lot to be thankful for.  Our country, after years of robust growth and opportunity is once again poised to return to her glory.  A new and necessary change will be coming in the November election which should strengthen our world standing.

Our nation’s status in the world has been muddied through international wars, illegal immigration and a sputtering economy.

As we look forward to change within our nation, take the time to reflect on how you can be a better citizen and friend to each other.  We all need to rely on others from time to time.  

Mentor someone in the new year. 

Volunteer in the new year.

Make a difference in someone’s life in 2012.

Best wishes to all of my family, friends, and acquaintances.

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Bucket List – One Down

Sometimes you just have to give in to your desires and try something you’ve never done or do something you didn’t think you could.

Last weekend, I climbed Mt. St. Helens in Cougar, Washington. It was a 6 mile hike up that tested my mind, my heart and my body.

It was by chance that I secured a climbing permit as only one hundred are afforded the opportunity a day. The six hour climb up was beautiful, taxing and sinister.

I thought of quitting a few times. After a short break, I regained focus and I envisioned myself making the summit.

Once at the top I knew I knocked off a once unattainable goal but more importantly I learned again I could count on myself.  I pushed myself when part of me quit. My mind overtook my body and won out.

I don’t remember the exact Jimmy Valvano quote but its something like “Don’t quit – don’t ever give up” 

I didn’t and hope that each of you do the same!

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Shopping for a new place to live???

After you have made out your application for a new place to live and are ready to move in, there are still things to look for, before signing the lease.

1. Do a thorough walkthrough of the apartment. In most states it is illegal for a landlord not to change the lock. Insist that they do and know who has access to your apartment and under what terms and conditions they may enter.

2. Check to make sure that the door and deadbolt lock correctly.

3. Check to make sure all windows lock properly and that they have screens.

4. Check to make sure that there is a blind or shade for every window.

5. Check the battery operated smoke detectors. Check the CO2 detectors for proper operation.

6. Make sure emergency exits are illuminated.

7. Check the condition of the floors. Are they clean and are they marked up?

8. Are the carpets in good condition? Note any deficiencies in the flooring.

9. Do all lights turn on and off?

10. Check the cable jacks, telephone jacks and internet connections. Are they working properly?

11. Flush every toilet and make sure that they stop running.

12. Open every faucet and make sure you have sufficient hot water and that they shut off without dripping.

13. Check the shower and tub valves. Do you have adequate pressure?

14. Check your apartment and entrance keys.

15. Ask and receive all routine and emergency contact information.

Now you are ready to sign the lease and provide the rent and deposits due. You should receive a copy of the original lease at the time of signing and a copy of the lead paint law.

Good Luck with your new apartment or rental !

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10 Things To Know Before You Buy Investment Property

10 Things To Know Before You Buy Investment Property

  1. Understand what you are doing!  You are purchasing this as in investment generally to make money.  Do your research – make sure the property meets all of your expectations.
  2. Can you afford to purchase?  Do you have enough money for the down payment, property insurance, future repairs and the closing attorney?  If not, you probably should not be looking any further.
  3. Know your new tenants!  Before the closing, review the leases, the rent rolls and the tenant ledgers.  Make sure you have contact information and also the applications that have their social security number and important emergency information (in case you need to trace them down the road for collections).  Once you purchase the former owner will often be of little help to you. 
  4. Can you handle the property when one or more units become vacant? Often times, owners can handle occupied property, but what happens when there is a vacancy?  Do you know what to do?
  5. Do you have enough in cash reserves to handle property repairs?  Every repair costs money.  Are you skilled enough to work on your property?  Do you have the desire and the time?  If not, you must have the capital to afford repairs and even more money to afford modernization.
  6. Property Insurance.   Make sure before you put money down as an offer on the investment that you can obtain property insurance.  Some foreclosed property or older properties may be insurable without significant repairs.  Don’t wait until the last minute to find out about insurance coverage. 
  7. Do you know the housing law for your state and local community?  Are you familiar enough with the law to represent yourself?  If not you need to find an Attorney who does.  They should specialize in landlord tenant law.
  8. What time is it and who is calling?  If you hate to answer your phone and think that their problem can wait, it’s not likely to go away.  As an owner you have a legal responsibility to your tenants for routine and emergency repairs.  As an investor you want to stop a small problem before it develops into a larger one.
  9. Accounting and Recording Keeping.  You must maintain an accounting of your deposits, checks paid and receipts and keep them orderly.  There are a number of small business computer programs that can assist you in financial record keeping.  As with legal questions, anything of a business nature should be best addressed by a tax professional or an accountant.
  10. Know who best manages property – a Property Manager of course!  Who better than a Certified Property Manager® from the Institute of Real Estate Management® (http://www.irem.org). 

When you are ready to purchase to investment property or have one and want to let a professional manage it, contact us today at (617) 499-7945.

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What actions can owners take to reduce property exposure?

           All residential owners of real estate need to take responsibility for reducing risk to persons or property.   Property owners and property managers can be held responsible for accidents that occur if the injured party can prove negligence.   To avoid negligence, property owners and their hired managers should take reasonable precautions to provide safe premises.  Regular property inspections should occur and corrections to problems identified should be undertaken at the earliest opportunity.  The first step to limiting liability and reducing exposure is to identify a knowledgeable insurance agent who will assist in finding proper coverage for the real estate investment.

            Property owners and property managers can also be held accountable for tenant’s negligence.  If illegal alterations or unlicensed work is completed and accidents occur, an owner can be found accountable.  Just as exterior property inspections are necessary, interior inspections are equally valuable.  Proper follow through with the tenants after illegal alterations have been made is critical to reducing liability.  An indemnification clause can also be added to a lease to hold an owner or manager harmless from the negligence of a tenant.  The clause and the lease must be properly signed by both parties.

            In addition to the rented premises, the maintenance of the common areas is important for the owner to properly maintain.  Some common issues that are not always addressed are: lights out,  elevators not operating properly, lifted or depressed walkways, improperly cleared walkways, and poorly maintained grounds.  Emergency maintenance should be completed within twenty-four (24) hours of discovery, while routine work orders should be addressed within seventy-two (72) hours.

            Property owners and managers are also responsible for the conduct and actions of their employees and contractors.  It is extremely important to ensure that employees have CORI records performed, licenses checked, and insurance certificates properly maintained.  Negligent hiring or poorly performed business backgrounds checks can increase landlord liability risk.

            Property owners and their landlords must comply with at two federal laws in addition to numerous state and local laws.  Failure to comply with the Fair Housing Act and the American With Disabilities Act may result in fines and punitive damages.

          The last and most important step to reducing property risk is to consult with an attorney specializing in landlord-tenant law.  Attorneys who specialize in a given area of law often have years of valuable experience that often is not duplicated.  A local attorney is often necessary, as they are most familiar with local ordinances, as well as state and national laws.

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Find the Best Tenant(s) for your Property

In order to keep rental income flowing to your property, resident retention should be very high on your priority list as an owner/investor.  Unit turnover is costly and results not only in expenses occurring but also a loss of rental income.  When a unit is to become vacant, what do you do next?

1.      Always know your local market.  How much does a similar priced unit get for rent?  What are the common amenities and how much do they affect the rent that you wish to obtain?

2.      Have a professional sign on the outside of your building with your contact number.  You would be amazed at the good traffic you can obtain, with the cost of advertising.

3.      If you have a good tenant in the unit, show the unit before it is vacant.  Make sure that your relationship is good and that someone is present to show the prospect.

4.      Try renting it on your own first!

5.      Use the web for free advertising.  Place an ad in the local newspaper after first knowing the optimal traffic dates.  The newspaper representative can tell you the subscriber information.

6.      List it on your own website – show digital photographs of the unit unoccupied and occupied.

7.      Place a card at the local supermarket, with spares below it.

8.      Let the neighbors know you have a pending vacancy and that you will pay a referral fee.

9.      Don’t wait for the traffic to come to you – do something.  Improve your curb appeal.

10.  Hire a professional!

I would have listed number ten (10) first but wanted to provide free information to any readers of my blog.  Managing and maintaining property is not easy.  It can be full time work on top of your already busy day.

If you don’t manage your own financial investments for retirement, why are you managing your own property?  You can still view your real estate investments the same way by checking in with the manager and viewing your monthly statements. 

Remember, a real estate professional works for you.  We always respect the owner’s goals and objectives.

Wishing you much success with your real estate investment!

Sincerely,

Owen Ahearn

Ahearn Realty Management, Inc.

www.ahearnrealty.com

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Curb Appeal

Curb Appeal

 

 

One immediate way to have a dramatic impact on curb appeal is a simple cleaning of the common areas.  By common areas, I mean the exterior grounds surrounding your property and the interior entrances to your home or your real estate investment.  Policing the area is the common name of this task. 

 

 

This task should be accomplished at least weekly, and more often on Monday’s and Friday’s, unless you expect additional traffic (example – people interested in renting).

 

 

 

Here are some other inexpensive suggestions to enhance the curb appeal for your property:

 

 

Paint the entrance door and the trim around the door

Replace weathered and worn numbering and lettering

Replace worn door hardware

Wash windows and sills

Power wash front walkways and siding

Make sure all site lighting is operational

Repair or replace mailboxes

Re-stripe parking lot areas 

Turn over old mulch or replace with new

Add some flowers, add color to your entrances

 

 

Remember, your property should at least match the competition.  These low cost enhancements will hopefully deliver the increased traffic you need to retain your tenants or to attract new ones.

 

 

Wishing you much success with your investment!

 

Owen Ahearn

 

Owen Ahearn

Ahearn Realty Management, Inc.

www.ahearnrealty.com

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