Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Easy Tips for Making Small Rooms Feel Larger

No need to knock down walls to make your apartment feel bigger! There are simple steps you can take to ensure that you are maximizing your space and showcasing it in a way that feels fresh. Forgo the expensive remodel and instead opt to try one of these five tips, says Cal Bay Property Management's Scott Safadi:

Replace Kitchen Cabinets with Racks

Cabinets can make a kitchen feel smaller and more cramped than is necessary. Considering what a valuable gathering place kitchens usually are, that's a big problem. Consider taking down old kitchen cabinets and replacing them with ceiling or wall racks for storage instead. Open shelving is also a great option!

Pick Neutral Colors

While bold colors might be more fun, neutral shades have a way of making small rooms look bigger. Forgo the bright blues and reds in favor of white, beige and gray. While they may not be as exciting as brighter shades, these colors will make a room feel bigger and more serene. The bonus? You can swap out decor every few months and it's practically guaranteed to match your room.

Select the Right Window Treatments

While bare windows open up a room like nothing else, it's not a practical solution for anyone looking for a little privacy. Instead, opt for a window treatment that is both sheer and lengthy. By allowing some daylight through, the curtains will add a sense of freshness and serenity. Hang them floor to ceiling to truly maximize your space. It draws the eye to the ceiling, making the room magically feel bigger.

Hang Decorative Mirrors

Create the illusion of extended space by using mirrors throughout your apartment. Use more than one to reflect light and distract from how small the space initially might seem. A mirrored end table can also add to the effect.

Use Open Shelving to Increase Flow

While closets, pantrys and cabinets might allow messy residents to hide their clutter, open shelving adds an increased feeling of flow to any room. Give it a try before getting rid of all your cabinetry - you'll be surprised at how roomy the open shelves make the space feel. As a bonus, the exposed storage will likely make you a more organized person!

- Scott Safadi, Cal Bay Property Management

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Childproofing Your Rental Property

Tenants with kids are generally not a problem. In fact, many landlords rest easy renting to families, knowing that late night parties and loud music aren't likely to disturb neighbors of such tenants. Renting to families isn't just a good idea, it's actually against the law to discriminate against prospective tenants with kids. With that in mind, childproofing your rental property may be necessary.

It's against the law to warn tenants about potential hazards like stairs and encourage them to choose a downstairs unit for their little ones. Scott Safadi of Cal Bay Property Management says that landlords and property managers need to watch out for liability issues when it comes to their rentals. If a child is injured on your property, you could be held responsible. With that in mind, try one of these tips to ensure your rental is child safe:

  • Remove and replace blinds with long, draping cords. Instead, consider installing cordless blinds. They look chic and prevent little ones from injuring themselves.
  • Check out banisters, railings and rungs of stairs. Kids often hang from railings and test their strength with their entire body weight. Even though these things are not meant to be played on, they should be treated as though they might. 
  • Ensure all outlets are covered properly, and that broken ones are repaired quickly and completely.
  • Install window locks on all of your rental's windows, especially the ones upstairs. You never know who might get curious about how a window opens!
  • Put up speed limit signs around your parking lots. While it might seem like common sense to go slow in areas with pedestrians, many tenants without kids aren't thinking about the risks.
  • Patrol your pool fence. Look for holes, gaps and other places that little ones could squeeze through. If your pool gate does not close automatically, invest in one before opening the pool again next spring.
  • Install no-slip surfaces around the pool area, too. Kids get excited about swimming, and regardless of how many times you ask them not to run, it's bound to happen. Instead, make the effort to prevent falls and ensure the ones that do occur are minor.
  • Replace batteries in smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors every six months. You can ask your tenants to do this, but be sure to mention it in the lease.
- Scott Safadi, Cal Bay Property Management

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

A Property Manager's Wishlist: 7 Things Every Owner, Manager or Renter Should Own

Every trade has its tools, and property managers need more than most. That's why we've assembled a list of seven must-have tools for everyone who rents a home or apartment. Tenants, too, can benefit from assembling a tool kit of things to make their lives at their rental home a little easier. 

Scott Safadi of Cal Bay Property Management recommends adding these products to your Christmas list - or gathering up what you already own and keeping them in a central location. A toolbox will work, and it doesn't need to be anything fancy. Most hardware stores sell starter toolboxes with many of the materials recommended on our list. It's a great place to start if you find yourself scrambling for tools.

Here are the seven things you need to ensure daily success as a property manager:

A first aid kit. Regardless of how much or how little repair work you do yourself, having a first aid kit on hand is always a good idea. Be sure it contains bandaids, gauze, aspirin and medical tape. You never know when this kind of kit may be necessary, so prep for the worst case scenario!

A step stool. Even the tallest among us will struggle to reach something now and then. This is especially true of anyone regularly changing smoke detector batteries or lightbulbs. For the times when you don't need to bust out the ladder, a step stool is invaluable.

Duct tape. Good for keeping just about anything together, you can never have too much duct tape on hand. Keep a roll around for emergencies, but also for the times when you just can't justify a total repair. And why would you, when duct tape exists?

Baking soda and spare washcloths. Good for removing just about any stain before it sets in, baking soda is a property manager's best friend. Keep some handy just in case!

Spackle. Every tenant, no matter how conscientious, is going to leave behind a few holes in the wall when they move out. Spackle is a quick, easy and affordable way to make minor repairs to drywall between tenants.

Flash lights. When the power goes out or you need to crawl into a dark spot, you'll be grateful you had a flash light handy.

Screwdrivers. These should come standard with any starter toolbox, but having a couple of phillip's head and flathead screwdrivers around is always a good idea. 

- Scott Safadi, Cal Bay Property Management

Monday, October 16, 2017

When to Hire a Property Manager

They say time is fleeting, and this is never more true than when you are a landlord. Thankfully, property managers exist to take chores off your to do list and handle the day to day stress that comes with managing rentals. Cal Bay Property Management's Scott Safadi says that while there is no magic formula for deciding upon when to hire a property manager, these signs are a dead giveaway that you need some help:

You have multiple properties

Managing one or two tenants is one thing, but when you're trying to juggle multiple properties and renters, free time can become a thing of the past. You can fill one vacancy only to discover another tenant is leaving next month. Plus, if you're always on call for emergencies, there can be no vacation or holidays off. A property manager can allow you to rest easy and take real time off. 

You don't live near your rental 

In a perfect world, you'd find a great tenant, hand them the keys and live happily ever after. The reality? You'll be running over to the property to maintain appliances, negotiate rent increases and settling neighborhood feuds virtually all the time. If you don't live near your rental, these chores become practically impossible. A property manager can ensure that both your tenants and your property are well taken care of no matter where you are in the world.

You hate paperwork

The day-to-day life of a landlord isn't sexy; in fact, it can be downright dull. Placing ads online, updating your website, checking prospective tenants' backgrounds and scheduling appointments for maintenance workers to come out for repair work is all par for the course in the daily life of a landlord. If these kinds of chores sound annoying, chances are good that you need a property manager. Allow them to take care of the more tedious aspects of property management while you call the shots.

You don't know landlord/tenant laws

Landlord/tenant laws in the United States are complicated. Even seasoned real estate professionals have trouble keeping up with them. If you're second guessing your rights or the rights of your tenants, chances are good you've already violated some rule. Cut yourself some slack and hire a property manager. They make it their duty to stay informed and protect you from expensive litigation.

- Scott Safadi, Cal Bay Property Management

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Finding the Right Contractor For Your Property

Hiring the right person for the job is one of the most challenging aspects of managing a rental property. Whether you're renovating a kitchen or installing a new fence, selecting the right person for the gig can be difficult. Even with a vendor list, the folks you choose to work with can be ever-changing and evolving. To stay competitive amidst a crowded rental market, the right contractor can make all the difference.
Scott Safadi of Cal Bay Property Management knows all about this challenge. He lives by three important tips to guarantee successful relationships with contractors. They include:
1. Do not pay for a job upfront. When a contractor asks for payment up front, it could be a sign that they do not have the funds to hire a crew to complete the work. Even if you feel as though you are getting a great deal, chances are good that you will find yourself with a half-completed project weeks later. If you must, settle on half of the payment upfront, never the entire fee.
2. Pay for materials yourself. Letting contractors run up a tab of materials is a bad idea for a number of reasons. By purchasing the materials necessary for the job yourself, you'll have a better idea of how much is being spent on materials versus labor. Have your vendors call you from material supply store and provide you with a purchase order so you can review everything being purchased. Then you can pay the company directly using your own credit card.
3. Ask about insurance. If your vendors are not insured, there is a decent chance you could be footing the bill when someone accidentally falls off of a ladder or hammers a nail through their hand. Double check to make sure your contractor and their employees are insured and what protections you have against liability. For minor projects, you may not think this matters much, but serious accidents can happen when you least expect them.
No matter who you choose to hire to tackle rental property projects, you'll be better off by following the three tips above. By covering your bases and ensuring you are working with the best possible partners, you practically guarantee a great relationship with contractors!
- Scott Safadi, Cal Bay Property Management

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

3 Myths You Probably Believe About Property Managers

There is a lot of confusion surrounding property managers and what they can do for the average home or property owner. The reality is that being a landlord is a full-time job in of itself. Even if you intended to rent as a form of passive income, maintenance, repairs and leasing can eat up your free time. Before you know it, it can feel as though you have been saddled with a second full time job!

Scott Safadi of Cal Bay Property Management knows that there are plenty of reasons not to hire a professional property manager, but so many of the usual reasons are myths. Cut through the misinformation so you will better understand the decision to hire a professional.

Myth #1: Property managers are too expensive.

How much is an hour of your time worth? How many hours per week are you investing in the upkeep of your rental? Taking an honest look at your weekly chores and assigning a monetary value to your free time is a great way to determine if you can afford a property manager. Because professional property managers are experts at their jobs, they can fill vacancies faster and deal with maintenance chores more quickly than the average landlord, too!

Myth #2: Property managers won't vet tenants as thoroughly as the landlord.

Leasing is complicated. There are Fair Housing laws to worry about, credit checks and criminal background checks to conduct. Calling references and checking for a history of evictions takes time. Even the most thorough landlord can miss things property managers will think to check. Your time is valuable! Leave the bureaucratic tasks to a property manager.

Myth #3: Property management is easy. Hiring a professional property manager just isn't worth it.

While property management can be a breeze, there are challenging times in every landlord's experience. Evictions, collecting late rent payments and handling late night maintenance issues can be incredibly stressful. Outsourcing these tasks to a professional property manager can be a relief. The reality is that it can be had always being the bad guy. Nobody likes to deliver bad news constantly. In times of chaos and stress, having a professional take over makes your life much easier!

Whether or not you decide to hire a professional property manager, understanding the realities of what a property manager actually does can clarify your decision-making process!

- Scott Safadi, Cal Bay Property Management 

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Fall Maintenance for Your Rentals

Fall is upon us, and with it comes changing leaves, a new school year for the kids and the first chilly temperatures of the season. For property managers, fall means a last chance to get caught up on maintenance while the weather is still nice. It is the perfect time to tackle projects that have sat on the back burner all summer. 

Routine maintenance on your rental properties can ensure protection from snow, wind and ice as the cooler months approach. Don't be put off by the initial shock of how much it seems like you need to do - most autumnal maintenance can be done affordably and quickly. Anyway, routine maintenance each season can save you money and time in long run!

Cal Bay Property Management's Scott Safadi recommends checking into exterior maintenance needs first. Prioritizing caulking, roof inspections and the cleaning of gutters will ensure your property is ready for whatever blows your way. Be sure to animal proof your rentals, too. When the temperatures turn cold, critters are likely to seek shelter in any corner they can. Discourage nesting by performing an exterior inspection and looking for any openings an animal might crawl through. Caulk small holes and install steel mesh over large holes. 

Indoors, inspect windows and doors for air leaks. Drafty homes can be a drain on the heating system, so apply weather stripping or caulk where needed. Check the attic for similar air leaks. Animals that may have entered the crawl space can destroy insulation.

If you have a fireplace installed in a rental, have a chimney sweep remove debris that may have built up over the warmer months. Clogged chimneys increase the risk of chimney fires and carbon monoxide poisoning. 

Fall is also a great time to double check the carbon monoxide and smoke detectors. Put in fresh batteries and make sure they are in good working order. 

Don't forget to walk the property to make a list of any lawn or tree maintenance needs. Any branches or vegetation that makes contact with a home or apartment can cause potential damage. Arrange for seasonal trimmings to best protect your investment.

However you decide to maintain your property this fall, do so before the weather turns cold. You save yourself time and energy (and in some cases, money) by being proactive!

- Scott Safadi, Cal Bay Property Management


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