Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Rental Property Tax Write-Offs You Need to Know About

It's that time of year again: time to pay our taxes. But for property owners, there are lots of tax write-offs to take advantage of before April 15th rolls around. Here are some you need to know about:

Interest on Rental-Related Loans. If you're paying interest on loans used to buy your rental property, you can write it off at the end of the tax year. You can also write off interest you're paying on credit cards you've used to purchase goods and services for your rental property.

Travel Expenses
Whether you're scouting out a new investment opportunity or for research, if it's related to your rental property, you can write off expenses. That includes airfare, lodging and meals!

Repairs and Maintenance
If you're buying new light bulbs, replacing your resident's smoke detector batteries or changing out their HVAC filters, you're on track for a tax write off. You can also write off landscaping charges, pest control and any cleaning supplies you buy for your property.

Go ahead and write off any utilities you pay on behalf of your property. That includes cable and internet packages, electricity, gas, water and sewer fees.

- Scott Safadi, Cal Bay Property Management

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

3 Things All Successful Landlords Do

Becoming a super landlord isn't easy. While there is no one direct path to success, we've honed in one three things all successful landlords do. The list includes:

1. They're super responsive. A successful landlord promptly returns phone calls from prospective tenants, beating out competitors and reassuring applicants of their reliability.

2. They make decisions rationally - not emotionally. If a tenant comes to you with a tragic story about losing their job and the love of their life in the same month, it's important to be compassionate. It's also important to draw a firm line between emotion and action. There's a way to be empathetic and still demand their rent payment in full - it won't be easy, but it's gotta be done!

3. They get everything in writing. Record keeping is important in any job, but in the property management world, it's critical. You never want to get into a "he said, she said" debate with a tenant. That's why it pays to have agreements in writing - in both physical and digital form.

- Scott Safadi, Cal Bay Property Management

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

3 Common Mistakes New Landlords Make - and How to Prevent Them

Whether you're renting out a second home to make some extra cash or managing a multi-unit property full time, landlords have a lot on their plate. It's easy to get overwhelmed by the needs of your tenants and the regulations you're required to follow. Here are three common mistakes landlords make and easy ways to prevent them:

1. Approving the wrong tenants. Resist the urge to jump at the first (or second, or third...) prospective tenant who applies. Instead, take your time to thoroughly check their backgrounds, verify their employment and take a look at their credit history. Landlord references are a great way to ensure you're selecting a responsible, quality tenant.

2. Misunderstanding fair housing laws. Designed to eliminate discrimination and allow housing for people of any background, these laws can be confusing. Take the time necessary to understand your responsibility as a landlord, and don't be afraid to reach out to a property manager mentor with questions.

3. Not budgeting for costs. When the HVAC system in one of your units breaks, will you have money to repair or replace it? You should. It seems obvious, but many new landlords don't budget - or don't budget enough - for the cost of maintaining their property. 

- Scott Safadi, Cal Bay Property Management

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Generation Rent: Millennials and the Homeownership Rates

One of life's greatest milestones is the purchase of your first home. But for many millennials, that milestone may be left unaccomplished. Dealt a rough economic hand, millennials are on the of the first generations to earn less than the generation of their parents. Home ownership is at a 20-year low. 

For property owners, this statistic may work in your favor. For 20-somethings not looking to be tied down to a mortgage, renting an apartment is the way to go. Considering how unstable the job market has been lately, renting also provides millennials an easy out should they need to move for work. Being tied to home ownership just isn't an option for many millennials.

Demand for rental units is rising. Take advantage of these trends and tailor your property toward millennial needs. High quality gyms, dog parks and smart technology will all attract such tenants - and keep them around, as long as the job market allows it!

- Scott Safadi, Cal Bay Property Management

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

4 Tips to Handle Renter Complaints

No matter the industry, handling customer complaints is a critical part of the customer service experience. But what's the best strategy for managing complaints from your tenants? Here are four quick tips:

1. Document the complaint. Big or small, a complaint should be recorded so that it isn't forgotten. No tenant wants to be put on the back burner and forgotten!

2. Investigate the complaint quickly and thoroughly. Whether you're looking into a maintenance issue or a noise complaint, it pays to solve problems quickly. Nip minor issues in the bud before they grow.

3. Assign complaints a level of importance. When you're documenting these complaints, it's a good idea to rank them on a scale of priority. After all, you can't be everywhere at once - and juggling too many complaints at once is a recipe for disaster.

4. Provide written responses to all complaints. Handling complaints in person or via telephone are good options, but it's also smart to follow up any discussion with written acknowledgment of the problem at hand.

- Scott Safadi, Cal Bay Property Management

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Prepping Tenants for a Successful Move-Out

So your tenant has given notice they're moving out. Your focus is likely on finding a new resident to fill the vacancy - as it should be. But spending some time making sure your tenant has a successful move-out could be more valuable than you might expect. Here are a few ways to assist them in the process:

  • List out everything that affects their security deposit. If you require tenants to clean their carpets before moving out, make sure you tell them in writing
  • Give them a checklist of things to take care of before they bid adieu to your community. This can include chores but also errands like paying utility bills.
  • Work out a timeframe. A date for move-out is a good start, but you'll want to have a set time in mind for that day clarified. Otherwise, you could find yourself with procrastinating tenants working until midnight to move out.
Why bother with these steps? If you've ever witnessed an unsuccessful move-out, you'll know why these tips are so important. Unprepared tenants often leave late, take things that don't belong to them, and get upset when they are charged for things they've damaged. Do your due diligence and prepare for push back!

- Scott Safadi, Cal Bay Property Management

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Top 3 Things Millennials Look for in an Apartment

Millennials get a bad rap for being unreliable, rootless and cheap. But no generation should be painted with such a broad brush. After all, you can't avoid renting to everyone born between the years of 1983 and 2000. So what is it that millennials want most in rental units?

High-speed internet and WIFI. Millennials are a digital generation - they were practically born with iPods in their hands! Embrace the technology and ensure your tenants have access to fast internet. Including it in their monthly rent is a great way to keep everyone happy.

Dog parks. Everyone loves a pup, especially millennials. Dog parks are a must for millennials looking to exercise their dogs and even meet new people. Don't look at dog parks as an amenity just for pets - it can be a great place for building a social community.

Upgraded fitness centers. With a focus on health, millennials are constantly searching for a way to stay in shape. Treadmills and free weights just aren't going to cut it these days. Instead, expand your gym's offerings by including more machines and maybe even a group fitness class or two.

Laundry. Nobody likes hauling their dirty clothes across town to the laundromat. If your units don't include washers and dryers, partner with a local laundromat to offer laundry services to residents.

- Scott Safadi


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