Application Process: Fraudulent Digital Documents (And How to Spot Them)
We’ve previously given tips on the application process as well as how to manage a property from out of state (or from any distance from the actual property). However, as time marches on in the digital world, we face new challenges.
A feature of processing applications in the age of remote work and distance is the upsurge in falsified documents. Unfortunately, as it’s never been easier to conduct the entire application process online, it’s equally as convenient for applicants to create mock-up documents. Here are a few ways to help sharpen your eye when processing your online applications!
Processing documents whether online or in person will require a base knowledge of document types. Fraudulent documents are sometimes easier to identify in person due to the physical integrity of the documents, such as the particular lamination of a Driver’s License / State ID or the specific texture of banknote paper that Social Security Cards are made of. Being able to see and touch a document is handy, but online you will need to be familiar with the built-in security features that these documents have.
Texas Driver’s Licenses have changed multiple times, and the Under-21 IDs have a different orientation. Of course, you will have out-of-state applicants, so it will be handy to look up that state’s identification security features.
Social Security Cards have a history of carefully documented styles, which you will need to reference in relation to the date the card was issued. Other features make it difficult to forge, the noticeable of which are the font, print style and official seal.
Payroll statements are the most varied document that you will receive as a landlord. There is no standardized payroll sheet, and with the emergence of the gig economy, you’ll be looking at many more screenshots of direct payments than the traditional payroll. Being aware of different payment methods and payment processes will help you parse out the real from the fake.
A great deal of fraudulent documents can be discovered with a brief review. Fraudulent applicants make common mistakes and spelling errors. On a proper document, all of the information will be consistent, and everything will be spelled correctly. Street names will be properly capitalized and business will have the correct designation (LLC, Corp, et al). Obvious photoshop or image manipulation will be easily identifiable in the signature line and in photos. ID photos are produced on a very consistent basis to help with this, and should not appear to be edited and should be consistent with the security features of the given ID.
Simply proofreading the submitted documents can flag a document as potentially fraudulent.
Reverse Image Search
Those who create fraudulent documents aren’t usually masters of the craft. There are thousands of templates online, not so that there are options to commit fraud, but because we live in an age of entrepreneurship and there has to be a system of payment for small business. Unfortunately, this does leave the door wide open for people to create a false payment record for themselves. And because you’re a landlord and not the IRS, you have very little to compare it to! Luckily, there’s a handy tool in Google Reverse Image search. Rather than scrolling through pages and pages of online payroll templates, you can upload the image and find it much more easily. (We do live in the future, after all!). Of course, these templates are made to be used, so just because a template matches doesn’t mean it’s fraudulent. Using your proofreading will come into play here: often, the fraudulent document will use the exact same check and batch numbers as the template, which is incorrect for a proper business to do.
The easiest and most important step to implement into your application process is to follow up on the application. As part of the process, you should have a release form that is signed by your applicant. This authorizes you to request both rental and employment information from the appropriate parties. With minimum investigative work, you should be able to find a contact number for a company or previous residence. You do not have to rely on the contact information provided by the applicant, and it best not to. Independent verification of the applicant’s information is critical to the application process – it’s the whole point!
For every application you should be contacting the previous residence yourself and following up with the current employer to confirm current employment information. They are under no obligation to release the information to you, but it is both a matter of fairness and due diligence that you follow up on every application.
If this sounds like a lot of work, it’s because it is! Finding a Property Manager who is effective not only at getting applications for your property, but also properly vetting them is key to finding a qualified tenant as soon as possible.
Reach out to Frontline Property Management today to explore the possibilities of never having to run your own applications again!
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Summertime Tips for Landlords
You should be sending out seasonal letters, communicating with your tenants what is expected to care for the property. A gentle reminder can go a long way to protecting your property against the damaging effects of summer – especially here in Texas! If you are wondering what exactly you should be requesting of your tenants, we have some ideas listed below!
After the bursting blooms of spring have faded, trees, grass and bushes are in full growth! It should be clear in the lease you have with your tenant who exactly is responsible for keeping everything trim and tidy. Grass lawns will need to be mown, trees and bushes will need to be kept in check and it’s the time of year where weeds will spring up in the side yards if left unattended. While a property “gone wild” is not exactly physically damaging, it could violate local HOA and City statutes, which can result in fiscal damages in the form of fines. Some creeping vines are as aggressive as they are attractive, and can split picket fencing, collapse chain link fencing, compromise the mortar of brick houses and force their way into cracks – which will damage the property! It’s much easier to maintain landscaping than it is to repair its damages.
Lock Up for Vacation
Many of us haven’t been on vacation in a while, so it’s only natural that a few precautions may have been forgotten! Remind tenants that they will need to protect the property if they decide to leave for a trip. Locking all windows and doors is the first step in preventing a break-in, but also making sure their security system is in order and that the property doesn’t seem unoccupied. Whether that’s leaving a light on, having a relative drop by the home, or parking a car in the driveway – every tip helps!
Not every property can accommodate a barbeque, most often due to space. But when the sun’s out, the grills come out so you’ll want to have established the rules for your property. When, where, and how a grill can be operated (if allowed) will best inform the tenant on how to reduce injury to themselves, overhanging trees, and the property itself. Many HOAs have rules regarding how a grill can be stored on the property (out of sight!) in order to maintain a neat appearance to anyone driving through the neighborhood.
Be Aware of HVAC Issues
When the first hot day of summer rolls around, your phone will be ringing with tenants reporting that their A/C doesn’t work. Regular inspections, as well as regular maintenance, will prevent most of these calls. However, reaching out to your tenant lets them know that you are aware that it could be an issue, and are proactive in seeking a solution! Inform your tenants that cranking the A/C may do more harm than good, and that a moderately cool temperature will help their air conditioning last all summer long. A summertime inspection is a great opportunity to address not only HVAC issues, but anything to do with pests, insulation, wiring, the integrity of decks and fencing and other damages.
All of the above are true of both single family homes and multifamily, but there are special considerations for multifamily residents! Common areas and pools are going to see an influx of resident traffic. Quiet hours may need to be established in order to keep the peace during long, hot nights. Pool rules will need to be enforced for the benefit and safety of all residents and visitors. Communicating consistently with your residents will assure them that their health and safety are being taken into consideration, and that shared amenities are available for all residents to use safely and without issue.
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Benefits and Challenges of Multifamily Property Management
Multifamily Properties may be the answer to the affordability issue that the nation currently faces. As we look forward to the post-2020 future, we will continue to see its effects on labor, wages, rent costs and the housing market.
This all affects how effective an investment your property is. Multifamily property management has a unique and quite variable set of benefits and challenges that you should be aware of whether you are renting out a duplex or are looking to build a high-rise apartment!
Getting into the Market
The Challenge: Entering the multifamily housing market is becoming a feat unto itself. There’s plenty of capital chasing after limited deals, so the competition is thick! For the same reason that many millennials aren’t able to afford their dream home, you may be facing a challenge in finding an existing property to invest in, or a lot to buy: bigger developers have seen the market trends and are moving in. Not only are single-family homes being purchased, which puts it out of reach for the average homebuyer, but developers are doing everything they can to meet the housing demand.
The Benefit: It’s not impossible to get into the market as an investor. You aren’t competing with homebuyers, and a single loan is much simpler to take on for multiple passive-income-producing units. Of course, the reason developers are focusing on multifamily is because it’s a great investment! Over the long run, multifamily housing remains steady even through economic downturns because people need affordable housing.
Buying to Hold (Rather than Sell)
The Challenge: In the past, the trend in housing as an investment was more “buy, lease, sell”: Buy a property, lease it out to recoup refurbishment costs, then sell the updated property at a net gain. However, more and more, you’re going to want to focus on the long-haul and hold the property.
The Benefit: Multifamily housing is a dependable source of income that has seen an increase in the length of residency. Increased multifamily tenancy has come as the result of the increased competition for single-family residences, the need for affordable housing, and the desire of some to build credit or save for a permanent home. In any case, steady management of multifamily properties is a guaranteed income for an investor!
Appealing to Multiple Generations
The Challenge: We’ve discussed before that there has been an increased focus on the generations that make up the largest portion of the rental population: Millennials and Gen Z. Not only is affordability at the top of the list, but environmentally sounds practices, convenience and location also dominate the rental desires of these generations who are willing to sacrifice space for walkability. However, Empty Nesters are a significant part of the growing rental population, and their needs are different. Empty Nesters generally have more disposable income and appreciate more space. So while you may be crunching the numbers on one-and-two bedrooms with reduced square footage to maximize profitability, you may be cornering yourself out of the Empty Nester market that prefers three or more bedrooms in a multifamily setting.
The Benefit: Remember that as a multifamily manager, you are not catering to an age range – you are catering to a lifestyle that renters want. Most people want peace, quiet, and a place to live their lives privately, wherever that may be. Implementing a variety of floorplans means that you can capture business whether it’s an extroverted Gen Z who likes to bike to the city or a retired grandparent who wants to keep a guest room open just in case they get a visitor. You are in no way limited with your plans moving forward, as the demand on each end of the spectrum is so high!
Short Term Rentals
The Challenge: Airbnb has disrupted the home buying and rental markets in a very short amount of time. Single-family homes have been removed from the market and turned into short-term rental properties that drive up home prices in areas that homebuyers were previously able to afford. However; the screening process for short-term renters is often unregulated and the lack of a thorough screening can put your property, and other tenants, at increased risk.
The Benefits: Multifamily units as short-term rentals caters to the here-and-gone crowd without alienating the local population. Some property managers create properties for the sole purpose of short-term rentals, while others at least keep them separated from the long-term lease-holders. The demand isn’t quite there in many areas for this to be considered absolutely steady income, but it is a great way to attain a resident while marketing for long-term leases.
The Challenge: Residential real estate in most major metropolitan areas are primarily zoned for single-family housing. Multifamily buildings and complexes have consistently faced suppression as affordable housing has been mischaracterized as “low-rent”.
The Benefit: Some places are revisiting that strategy in order to combat the affordability crisis. In fact, you aren’t only seeing apartments in urban areas anymore – they’re going suburban! As the ever-increasing need for housing continues in the competitive housing and rental markets, multifamily is the practical solution for many cities. Not only is zoning adapting to the changing climate, but with the latest economic crisis on top of the continuing economic issues the average renter faces, there is the probability that legislation that introduces rent control will be more prevalent. Coastal markets are likely to see these efforts long before the Texas housing market, especially in the Dallas / Fort Worth markets! But adaptability is key, and information is king!
Looking at multifamily property management, it can be easy to miss the forest for the trees. There is a huge breadth of opportunities for success with multifamily properties, and it’s one of the most versatile investments in real estate. Frontline Property Management has the experts and supporting staff you need, whether you’re building new or buying in – we want to help!
Contact us today to discuss your future in multifamily investment and property management!
Have a multifamily property that you need help with? Contact us today!
Renting Your Multifamily Units: Three Issues to Be Aware Of
Multifamily housing is both an efficient and practical way to maximize the profitability of a property. While there are benefits to owning properties in diverse markets, when you have a multifamily property to manage, you can more easily focus on addressing the needs of your tenants all in one place.
However, there are key differences between managing several single family properties and managing a multifamily property. You’ll want to keep these three points in mind as you endeavor to manage your property:
Increased Administrative Requirements
Before diving into managing any property, you will need to first have your business plan in order, including your administrative process. This means everything from your branding/marketing to your accounting needs to be coalesced into a well-oiled machine. If you are doing it all yourself, you must take the time to sort out the details prior to accepting any applications, as it only gets more complicated as transactions begin. Remember, you can be audited at any time, so having your paperwork records in order is an absolute must.
Multifamily properties, whether it’s two units or thirty, will automatically multiply your administrative workload exponentially. Every application, every unit, and each tenant, must be filed and accounted for carefully. With multiple leases, contracts and letters going back and forth, this can be daunting for one person to handle. Organization, consistency, and processing administrative needs on a daily basis is part of managing a multifamily property.
Neighbor Conflicts & Resolutions
Nearly everyone who has rented a property has had to deal with a complaint made either by or about a neighbor. With a single family residence, tenants are much more likely to understand that you cannot control the annoying habits of a neighbor whose lease you don’t hold. In a multifamily setting, you may find yourself often being pitched between two units.
When tenants live close to each other and share common areas, it’s natural that their lives will overlap in some way. Ideally, it’s in a pleasant, neighborly, manner. Often, it’s a bit less than that. Remaining compliant with Fair Housing laws requires that you, as the landlord, not become personally involved. That introduces your own implicit biases into the equation and can lead to legal trouble down the road. The best solution is to address any lease violations quickly and plainly, in writing, to any unit who is in violation. Outside of lease violations, you simply cannot mediate between tenants who personally dislike each other. Documenting complaints and all communications should already be part of your administrative process – continue to do so. Inform the tenants of the legal limitations of your involvement – you only manage the properties and leases, not tenant behavior.
Though your tenants live separate lives in individual units, they share one roof. When it springs a leak, everyone will have work to do. Shared walls, floors, plumbing, and roofs make maintenance a particularly tricky task. One irresponsible tenant can damage an entire property, and as we saw in this year’s ice storm (which will likely increase the need for apartments), there are some forces that can affect an entire building at once. While some tenants know how to properly assess a situation and change their behavior as needed to prepare (and because you send out seasonal and extreme weather tenant letters – or you should be) – it won’t matter much if one tenant does absolutely nothing to prevent damage to the property.
Communicating with your tenants in advance is the best course of action. Responding to work orders as quickly as possible is another. The benefit of multiple tenancy in a structure is that while there may be one tenant who will not report an issue, there will be another who will. Maintaining the repair and integrity of your property will ensure that it is a reliable source of income for years to come, and your tenants are your eyes and ears in that respect – use them!
We understand that managing a multifamily property is a big undertaking. Even a duplex is a lot of hands-on, round-the-clock work. Frontline Property Management has the experience and the staff to handle your multifamily management needs! Our tenant coordinators work every day to maximize your occupancy as well as handle your everyday administrative needs.
When you are ready to work with a team that protects your frontline so that you can increase your bottom line, contact us!
Have a property you need help with? Just fill out this form and we will reach out to you to see how we can help!!!
Housing will continue to go for a premium – people will always need somewhere to live, and every year more and more adults enter the housing market. Renting has increased in desirability due to the economic crises of the past decade. Younger generations buying houses is at an all-time low, and many older generations (empty nesters) are selling their homes and re-entering the rental market.
This is where you come in!
Unless your passion is particularly in housing, you most likely are in the business of real estate to earn money – specifically, a healthy passive income after an initial investment. Multifamily housing is an excellent way to begin investing in real estate!
What is a Multifamily Property?
Multifamily properties are exactly what they sound like – individual units that are either in the same building or that share walls. These units are occupied by different tenants/families. Hence, multi-family properties.
This is everything from a duplex, to condos, to high-rise apartments. (Keep in mind that, legally, these are not all treated the same – we’ll get to that!)
Examples of other multifamily property types are:
- triplexes, fourplexes
- bungalow courts
- townhouses, garden apartments
- multistory apartment buildings
Local & Federal Governance - Fair Housing Act and the Americans With Disabilities Act:
The Federal Fair Housing Act leaves very few exemptions for property management, but one such exclusion is that apartments of four units or less are exempt if the owner lives in one of the units.
Commercial Real Estate Properties (offices, warehouse & other non-residential buildings) must be more concerned with the ADA than the FHA, as the FHA concerns residential properties. However, multifamily properties must be well-versed in both the FHA & the ADA. While the bulk of business comes from residential income (therefore regulated by the FHA), public access areas, like lobbies, gyms, swimming pools, or leasing offices, must be ADA compliant.
Why Do Renters Choose Multifamily Properties?
Multifamily is playing a key part of urban infrastructure development! As suburban sprawl spreads outwards, for multifamily units in urban areas like DFW, the sky is literally the limit! Multifamily units ability to build housing upwards creates homes in areas that younger generations want to live in!
We’ve discussed before that Millennials and Gen Z are the fastest-growing rental population. The priorities of these financially-pressed generations focus on convenience, accessibility to social gathering places, affordability, and management values that acknowledge and reflect their own. Multifamily is flexible enough to accommodate these demands.
For empty-nesters and retirees, a multifamily setting is a reduced workload from the continuing maintenance of home ownership. Multifamily properties take on the burden of repairs and maintenance for older renters who would much rather spend their golden years relaxing!
Multifamily properties continue to be in demand, and will certainly grow as the population does! Management of these properties is a unique challenge for a landlord. Everything from applications to tenant issues, multiplied by the number of units that you manage – it can be quite the task! An experienced Property Management team like Frontline Property Management can help you assess your goals, manage your tenants and take the legwork (and guesswork!) out managing your multifamily properties!
Contact us today for more information about how we manage thousands of doors in the Dallas-Fort Worth area!
Sustainable Property Management: What Green Features are Millennials and Gen Z Expecting?
With an increased focus on climate and weather-related realities that we face, younger generations (who are quickly becoming the largest portion of the rental population – Millennials are already the largest group of homebuyers) are more likely to actively seek out businesses and properties that feature Green amenities. As a property owner with your eye on the market and a finger on the pulse, you’ll be exploring which features are right for your property and for your current and future renters!
Meeting the demands of Millennials and Gen Z renters will not only secure a stronger rent now, but will leave you well-positioned to increase attraction and retention down the line. Here are a few features that these renters are looking for:
Making recycling convenient is not only something that tenants are looking for in a new complex; policy has now begun to reflect this growing concern. As of Jan 1, 2020, Dallas has had an ordinance in place which requires apartments & multi-family dwellings of more than 8 units to provide recycling facilities on-site. Fort Worth has had such a policy in place since 2014.
Smart Home Features
Between 89-95% of Millenials and Gen Z renters own smartphones. Implementing this basic tech in your property management is a direct avenue to reach these renters. There has been an increase in gadgets like keyless locks, doorbell cameras and smartphone-controlled led security lights, but also in higher-tech features such as “virtual doorman” services and extended smart home devices such as Amazon’s voice-activated Alexa. Property Management Apps mainstream communication between tenants and Property Managers.
Offering apps and devices that can keep up with the virtual age may not only prove to be energy efficient (think of lights that turn off when you leave the room, or a thermostat that can be controlled remotely) but will also assure your tenants that you are making investments in sustainability that provides more convenience and comfort for them – all of which bolters the rent cost.
Energy Efficient Appliances
Considering that renters with tight budgets and who pay for their own utilities will be more concerned about energy efficiency, it will be well worth it to consider appliances that reduce energy consumption. Renters consistently rank energy-efficient appliances as the top amenity request. We’ve reviewed other improvements that can be made to the property, but when upgrading an older home, the appliances are an easy Green win to list in your advertising!
Location, Location, Location
Millennials and Gen Z are known to prioritize sustainability and to invest more in experiences than property. Sustainability isn’t just about what construction materials are used, what programs are offered, and what amenities are available – it’s all about where this is happening. This means that your property is most competitive when it’s in close proximity to where those experiences can happen. Cities like Fort Worth and Dallas, which have invested in its arts & culture as much as they have invested in their business, stand to gain much more attraction from Millennial and Gen Z renters. Properties that have high “walkability” (or at least a short drive) to nearby restaurants, nightlife and other venues can lean hard into the sustainability of their location when advertising to these younger generations.
It’s important to note that newer complexes are automatically more energy efficient than older ones due to the continuing improvement to construction material. No need to shy away from how much more “green” your multifamily unit is, however! In hot markets like the DFW, you will want to list every energy-consumption-reducing amenity and feature that you have!
Another trend to consider is the increase in the prominence of the electric vehicle. Six utility companies have formed an electric highway coalition that aims to place charging stations on major highway systems on the Atlantic coast, in the Midwest and South, and in the Gulf and Central Plains regions. There are tax credits for buying electric vehicles – as well as for property management businesses that choose to install electric charging stations for their tenants.
If the demand is there, and eventually, it will be – you’ll want to be on the ball to provide this amenity for your tenants, considering that most EV charging happens while drivers are at home.
Understanding the consumer is the key to any business, and in property management, that means knowing your renter! While housing is a necessity, remember that your property is a competitive product and an investment. Ensuring that your property is at the top of its marketability game secures you the renters you need to thrive!
Unsure of whether or not you’re taking the right steps to maximize your efficiency, marketability & (most importantly) your bottom line? Contact us today!
Frontline Property Management has the experience, the staff, and the skills to help you get the most out of your investment!
Sustainable Property Management: Making Your Property Energy Efficient
Energy, efficiency, and sustainability are going to be hot topics as we enter both a new decade and a new age of environmental awareness in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Dallas has enacted its first climate action plan, Fort Worth is following suit and four out of five Texans understand climate change.
With 38% of Texas households being rentals, property owners will be at the forefront of the increasing demand for “green” business strategies. Get ahead of the market and what the newest generation of renters want by making environmentally-friendly improvements to your property!
How This Helps in the Long Run:
Suburban neighborhoods contribute about 50% of all household carbon emissions in the US. As we continue to invest in housing, we must recognize the current and future legislative pushes that aim to reduce the average American’s carbon footprint. By implementing strategies now, you will be ahead of the curve should any mandates come down the line later on
The newer generations of renters – Millennials and Gen Z – have demonstrated that they will readily spend more money with a company that reflects their eco-friendly values. Promoting that your property has taken measures to be energy efficient is a great marketable sales point to what is quickly becoming the largest renting demographic!
Cost-Effective Energy-Saving Upgrades:
- Energy Audit – You can hire an expert or do it yourself!
- Caulk Interior Windows and Door Trims
- Use Energy-Efficient Lightbulbs
- Keep / Install Wooden front doors – hollow metal doors invite cold air in!
- Use Native Plants for Landscaping
- Go Paperless!
- Install a Water Leak Detector
Larger Energy-Efficiency Investments:
- Insulate the Attic – this can reduce your energy bill 10-50%!
- Tankless Water Heater
- Solar Panels
- Programmable Thermostats
- Install low-flow showerheads and toilets (or even dual toilets!)
- Install low-consumption dishwashers and washing machines
The possibilities are nearly endless with green remodeling!
Whether you’re looking to rent one property or invest in a multi-family unit, a property management company like Frontline Property Management can help define your strategies as well as handle the day-to-day operations for your property.
Contact us today to learn more!
Choosing a Real Estate Market
The Dallas / Fort Worth real estate market, where Frontline Property Management does the majority of our business, is one of the hottest real estate markets in the US – and that’s even considering recent shutdowns and other issues caused by the pandemic. But what makes a market a good one to invest in, or to convert empty property into rentals in, and how do you determine if it’s right for you?
Study Population Growth (& Watch What Millennials Do)
The housing market isn’t the only thing that’s booming in the Dallas / Fort Worth area. We’re on track to have the most new residents of any metro area through the end of the decade. That’s not just native growth – due to low mortgage rates and other influences we’ll discuss, more people than ever are moving to the Dallas / Fort Worth area.
Where people are moving – especially millennials, who make up the majority of the workforce – there will be a demand for housing. The way things are working out for the largest portion of the population, we can expect that renting will be the most common form of housing financially available and affordable. (That’s where you come in!)
Quality of Life
There’s a reason some small towns are struggling to thrive and suffer housing depreciation while places like DFW are experiencing a skyrocketing population: accessible and diverse activities. The Dallas / Fort Worth area boasts of things to do! Everything from parks to the arts can be found, and everything in between. These are very important to millenials, who will more readily take a job in a city with entertainment, public transportation, and affordable housing over a market that has very cheap housing but not much else. After 2020, you can expect that millennials will emphasize connectivity.
For this reason, among the others, the home appreciation in DFW is expected to do nothing but climb.
Of course, there are a lot of nuts and bolts in the property management machine to consider! Frontline Property Management will help you evaluate your rental property and the market that it’s in, down to the competitive pricing of the neighborhood. If you haven’t yet invested in a property in the DFW area yet, but would like to, we’d be more than happy to discuss helping you build and manage a portfolio with us!
Do you have a property that you need help with? Just fill out this form and we will reach out to you!
How to Manage a Property Remotely
We’ve previously discussed tips on managing a rental property when you live out of state. Since then we’ve all faced the challenge of conducting both our business and personal lives in a socially distant, remote, fashion. Property Management is certainly no exception to this necessity. Moving forward and flourishing despite remoteness requires an effective online strategy and willingness to adapt to the times.
Remotely managing properties is certainly nothing new. The disparity between real estate markets encourages out-of-state investors to maximize their profits by investing where properties are less expensive. While Frontline Property Management manages properties across the Dallas Fort Worth & surrounding areas, our clientele reaches the coasts. We know a thing or two about what it takes to successfully gain a profit from distant properties.
Here are the five most important things you can do to manage your property remotely:
1. Set Up Advertising & Remote Viewing / E-Tours Online
If you’re not already advertising online, you are missing out on the #1 way that tenants are searching for properties. Although a well-placed, corner-lot property is going to get a lot of street views and calls from curious potential renters, placing an ad online or listing it in a conglomerate rental site will ensure that it’s viewed by as many people as possible no matter where the property is located.
A feature that is becoming more requested is the availability of an E-Tour. Pictures don’t always convey the depth of a space (although you should have wonderful photos!), and out-of-town renters, those quarantining or social distancing, would like to get the feel of an in-person viewing from the comfort of their current residence. This is made possible by taking a video of the property as if you were giving your standard tour. Take this opportunity to highlight the best features, but feel free to be as thorough as you like – they can always fast forward!
Of course, you may rarely get to your property in person, so taking a video may not be the most convenient option for you. In that case, there are companies that now specialize in remote viewing. With remote viewing, your listed property can be accessed by potential clients in person without you having to be there! For the health and safety of all involved, potential residents are able to register their information and set up touring times online, and then give themselves a tour by using a temporary code that changes with every viewing.
2. Automate Your Processes
This is a painstaking but critical process that will be the foundation of your entire operation. There will be times when you will want to pull your hair out, but every little detail is important here. Automate every process that you possibly can, from setting up your Chart of Accounts and accepting e-payments to making your entire application process can be done online. Create template letters for your prospect and tenant communication, and streamline all of this information with the proper property management software. Your future self will thank your past self endlessly for this once it’s set up! This virtual checklist will make sure that nothing slips through the cracks and that all of your Ts are crossed and your Is dotted. More importantly, it means that your property can be managed from absolutely anywhere!
3. Set Up E-Document Signing
Why wait for snail mail when you can have a lease or other paperwork signed almost instantaneously? And already in a format that’s easy to back up and distribute? Creating E-Documents has (literally) never been easier. There are several companies competing to help you create your documents, so choose the one that works best for your needs and create the templates that can can then easily send to your tenants, vendors or anyone else you need to have a signed agreement with!
4. Maintain Your Property
The heart of your property management business is the property itself. Without a well-maintained property, it doesn’t matter how glossy your photos are, or how well-worded your ad is. When the tenant crosses the threshold, their first impression matters. More than that, the ongoing maintenance of your property is vital to its health and continued success as a financial asset. This means not putting off small jobs that may turn into bigger issues. Handling this remotely means that you will need to have a trusted maintenance company or person on-hand, but also that you need to trust in your tenants when they alert you of an issue. Because you are not able to view the suspected damage in person, you will need to rely on a trusted source. That’s where your vendor relationships and also the proper tenant screening comes in handy! Consider these people to be your business partners, and you are all working together to have a smooth housing experience.
5. Invest in Your Property: Hire a Property Manager
Your rental property is not your home (at least, not yet) – it’s a financial investment. Treat it as such by spending smartly and investing in the right places. A property manager is the absolute best way to manage your property remotely. They are the hands-on, boots on the ground, eyes on the prize person that coordinates every step of the renting process. A property management company like Frontline has decades of combined experience, multiple departments, and everything you need to successfully manage your property. When you hire a Frontline Property Manager, you are not getting only one manager, but the entire team behind them! Your time, energy, and health are investments that you want to make in yourself, not spend on your property. The peace of mind alone is worth the investment.
Let Frontline Property Management do all the heavy lifting, detail sorting, and the in-person necessities so that you don’t have to!
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How to Prepare for Severe Weather: Tenant Communication
When it comes to property management, you have to be proactive and not reactive. As we touched on briefly in our previous blog, you should be sending notifications to your tenants at least quarterly, as the seasons change.
Communicating with your tenant is your first line of defense!
Although it may seem obvious to a local what the weather patterns are, we live in an ever-increasingly globalized world. Which means your tenants could be from out of state – or from another continent! Protect your property by informing your tenants diligently about upcoming weather expectations and how they relate to property management.
1) Draft a Seasonal Letter
You’re in the property management business, not comedy – you don’t have to keep your material fresh! Draft a letter to send out to your tenants that is applicable to the region your property is located in.
2) Do Your Part
The onus is not entirely on the tenant to maintain the property that they occupy. Sending an informational letter does not remove your responsibility as the property owner. Make sure that you are doing your part to keep the property safe via regular inspections, necessary updates, and repairs. You should see it as giving the tenant all the information and tools necessary to protect the property from severe weather.
3) Set Your Expectations
In your letter, make it clear that there are certain issues that you expect to occur, both to the property and the region at large. A common cold-weather issue (here in Texas) is that after months of disuse during our blisteringly dry summers, heaters that are being turned on for the first time sometimes emit burning smells that cause great concern to tenants. Informing your tenants will cut down on the phone calls to your maintenance team (or you, if you are managing your own property) and will give them a clear “next step” to take.
4) Create Actionable Steps
No one likes vague instructions. Inform your tenants in detail how they should be responding to shifting weather conditions. A simple to-do list will get the job done, so long as the items are specific and actionable, not just informative. “Water the foundation every week during the summer in accordance with your local grass watering ordinances” is much more specific than the guideless “Dry ground may cause foundation to shift”.
5) Put it in the Lease
It’s not only in your tenant’s best interest to have these seasonal letters written and sent or emailed to them – it’s in your best interest, as well! You should be keeping records of all tenant communications. This sets up clear expectations for both parties. If one side fails to meet the expectation, it will make it more clear who is liable for the costs of damages, should any occur. A letter or notice, however, is not a legally binding contract. The lease is. For this reason, it is advisable that the lease include language pertaining to the maintenance of property in regards to weather conditions. In a hot and dry region such as ours in Texas, watering the foundation is necessary property maintenance that prevents shifting foundations and all the trouble that comes with it. Including that specific action as a rider or in the main body of the lease obligates the tenant to comply.
Communicating with tenants is a priority on every landlord’s plate! Property Managers at Frontline Property Management, Inc. are in constant communication with tenants and have the support of multiple departments to streamline the process- so you don’t have to! If you aren’t sure what to expect in the Dallas / Fort Worth and surrounding areas – whether it’s the weather or market values – contact us today to find out!