Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Beyond Craigslist: Where to Advertise Your Vacancies Online

Craigslist has ruled the online real estate world for years. Straight-forward, easy to use and free, it's understandably appealing to both landlords and prospective tenants. It's not, however, the only great online tool for advertising vacancies. Scott Safadi of Cal Bay Property Management recommends posting across several sites for best results. Give one of these platforms a shot the next time you have a vacancy to fill!

Though primarily used for selling homes, Zillow is gaining in popularity amongst renters, too. An interactive map makes it easy for users to hone in on specific neighborhoods, and beautiful photos make it hard to resist clicking through for more details. Users can sort by the number of bedrooms and bathrooms they're looking for, as well as quickly compare rentals side by side.

Based on an interactive map like Zillow, Hotpads is another platform all property owners should be posting vacancies to. Pet owners will especially love that they can search for pet friendly properties right from their very first click. Mutli-family properties can stand above the rest on sites like Hotpads.

Love analytics? Rentdigs is the tool for you. List your rental there and you'll be able see how frequently your post is being viewed. You can also quickly and easily communicate with prospective tenants, right within the platform. What could be easier?

Your website
Think this is a no brainer? You'd be surprised at how many property managers fail to list vacancies on their own site! Though it takes some finesse, adding and updating vacancies pays off in a big way. Not sure how to make these changes yourself? Hire a freelance web designer to get you set up and show you the ropes. 

Did you know that more people use Facebook as a search engine than they do Google? With that in mind, you'd be crazy not to post your vacancies on the social media giant. Because everyone is already on Facebook, it makes sense for you to be there too! The ease of access will appeal to many prospective tenants, allowing you to quickly and easily share updates to followers. 

No matter where you decide to post, using quality photographs, honest but enticing language and updating regularly will get you far! 

- Scott Safadi, Cal Bay Property Management

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Organizing a Holiday Food Drive in Your Community

For many, Christmas is a time for giving rather than receiving. Though little ones may be focused on getting everything on their wish lists, others see the winter holidays as an excuse to donate their time and money to causes in which they believe. Whether you're spending time at a local soup kitchen or donating to your favorite charity, Christmas is the ideal time to share a little of your wealth with the less fortunate. 

Scott Safadi of Cal Bay Property Management encourages property managers and landlords to involve their tenants in this spirit of giving. Organizing a canned food drive is an easy and fun way to give back to others. Of course, it's important to pair with a local organization before you begin collecting anything and everything in your tenants' cupboards. Contact local food pantries and homeless shelters for guidance on how you can help. They will often give out lists of the most needed items to help guide your food drive.

How do you go about collecting food from your tenants? The easiest way to do so is to put out a sign and box in your community's office encouraging folks to donate. When tenants come in to pick up packages or drop off their rent checks, point out the effort and ask them to contribute if they can. While this is indeed the path of least resistance, many will find their contributions lacking. Out of sight often means out of mind, and for the tenants who don't have cause to stop by the office, they may miss the opportunity to contribute.

A more festive option is to promote a holiday caroling event for the community. Post signs and share info about the event online ahead of time, encouraging folks to contribute their voices and their canned goods. Then go door to door collecting food while serenading your tenants! While this may sound fun for some, it is important to know your audience. This is a great tactic for communities with lots of families, but some tenants may be turned off by the soliciting at the door.

However you decide to give back, do so in a way that benefits the needy and brings your community together!

- Scott Safadi, Cal Bay Property Management

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Three Things Renters Hate to Hear

As a landlord or property manager, sometimes you have to be the bearer of bad news. Too often, that means your tenants begin seeing you as the "bad guy." This role isn't fun for anyone to play, but it's a necessary evil at times. Some weeks, though, it can feel as though all you do is deliver bad news. It's no fun playing bad cop all the time, so if you feel like you need some help delivering news in a way that's not so morose, keep reading! Cal Bay Property Management's Scott Safadi says that virtually every property manager can benefit from these tips. Tenants hate to hear:

"We're raising your rent."

Nobody likes paying more money for the same rental home or apartment, but there comes a time when a property owner must raise the rent. Delivering this news is nobody's idea of a good time, but it will be necessary for virtually every property manager at some point or another. The cost of living goes up, inflation occurs and taxes and maintenance costs rise. Even when you try not to pass on this cost to your tenant, it's bound to happen eventually. 

Try delivering this news with your reasons for raising the rent. Most tenants understand that you are first and foremost a business person. They get that you need to make a profit, but you should balance this knowledge with compassion. Acknowledge that the rise in price is less than ideal and be willing to work with tenants on alternative due dates if it makes it easier to pay the rent.

"We can't return your entire security deposit."

Even the neatest, cleanest and most conscientious of tenants can cause expensive damage to their rental. When this occurs, it's on the property manager to deliver the news that their security deposit won't be returned in full. The next time you need to break this news, arm yourself with information. Bring the lease along with you for this conversation and highlight important clauses surrounding damage and negligence. 

"We cannot approve your application."

Filling vacancies is hard, but breaking the news to an applicant that they cannot move in after all is even more difficult. When informing the applicant of your decision, be sure you are not violating any Fair Housing laws in your decision. Even though the person is not going to be your tenant, it pays to handle the interaction gently. 

- Scott Safadi, Cal Bay Property Management

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


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