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Updated: Thursday, March 05, 2015

6 Perks to Attract New Tenants to Your Property

Long-term, responsible tenants are a landlords dream, but there comes a point when tenants decide to move on. Some move to a more spacious unit to accommodate an expanding family, downsize to cut costs, >

Regardless of the reason for their departure, one thing is for certain: in order to be successful in the rental business, your units must be occupied throughout the year. And depending on the area of the property, housing market and state of the economy, attracting new tenants can be rather difficult. Know the area and potential target audience before even purchasing the property, then consider offering these perks to prospective renters to sweeten the deal.

1. Alarm Monitoring Services

When searching for a place to call home for the next few months or years, safety is more than likely at the top of the prospective tenants list. This is especially significant for families with under-aged children or singles. Assuming the property is in a fairly safe location, offering complimentary alarm monitoring is an easy way to give them an added layer of protection and peace of mind. Check out these reviews of security systems.

2. Gym Membership

If you dont have a facility on-site or if youre renting out a private residence, a complimentary gym membership will entice potential tenants as it reduces their own out-of-pocket expenditures otherwise spent on staying fit. Just be sure the location is within close proximity of the property for added convenience.

3. Equipped In-Town Moving Van

Moving can be costly, especially if the new tenant is making the journey from a distant location or has a ton of items to transport. However, making a fully equipped in-town moving van available to new tenants to is a major perk that could save them a ton of money.

Worried about the costs associated with the initial purchase and upkeep? Dont be A reasonably priced van can be purchased as an investment, which comes with its own set of tax perks, and used repeatedly as new tenants move in. And you can install eco-friendly tires on the van to curb gasoline expenditures.

4. Cable Television

For the prospective tenant whos strapped for cash, the basic package offered by the cable provider may span beyond what they can comfortably afford. But if you can work out an arrangement to obtain services at a discounted rate, youll have the competitive edge that may convince them to sign on the dotted line.

5. Free Electronic Device

Freebies are always favorable among those on the receiving end, particularly if the items are valuable and useful. Consider throwing in the tenants choice of a free electronic device, such as a tablet or laptop, with a single- or two-year commitment. That should grab the attention of those who are narrowing down their rental options.

6. High-Speed Internet

Make it convenient for tenants to stay connected by offering complimentary Wi-Fi as a part of their monthly rent. Feel free to beef up the rate to cover costs since the tenant will, in essence, be paying for convenience. No credit checks, deposits, installation fees or contracts from the provider. And once their lease is up, they can walk away without having to be concerned with pro-rated bills. If youre dealing with a college student or new career professional trying to get on their feet, this could be all it takes if all else checks out for them to choose your listing.

Bottom line: the benefits of having steady rental income from responsible tenants outweighs the costs associated with offering these perks.

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3 Key Pre-Offer Home Seller Actions

Sellers who wait until theyre faced with a buyers offer to purchase before initiating three key actions, may be forcing themselves to make too many decisions at once and too quickly.

Most of us are nervous about decision making. Many lack confidence in their ability. Yet, sellers will be faced with quickly making multiple financial, legal, and life>

There are 3 key positive actions sellers should begin before offers arrive, so that they are prepared for decision making and are less overwhelmed by the selling process:

1. Start thinking that youre living in the buyers new home.

Mentally move out. Let go of "mine." Cut the emotional cord. Concentrate on making the property as attractive to buyers as possible and practical. If you wait to start this "cut the emotional cord to home" thinking when your real estate professional presents you with an offer, youre doing yourself a tremendous disservice. Making confident decisions is difficult when youre distracted by pride of ownership and personal history.

2. Start thinking about what the buyer may ask you to do.

Anticipate buyer requests regarding financing, moving dates, and other factors that may cause inconvenience or cost to you, the seller. For instance, if you had to wait many months for closing and the money from the sale, what problems could that cause you? Conversely, consider costs attached to moving in less than a month or at least sooner than convenient. Do you understand possible costs and considerations if buyers ask you to hold a second mortgage to enable them to pay the top dollar you ask for? Ask your real estate professional to explain how seller-held mortgages work and what would have to be true for you to sell that mortgage and realize cash.

3. Start thinking beyond list price to achieve full offer value.

The value expressed in a buyers offer to purchase involves 5 key elements - its a financial package:

  • Purchase Price is not automatically the amount the seller receives since other factors, like unpaid property taxes, can reduce the total. Its not the purchase price, but the net proceeds of the sale that sellers should concentrate on. Real estate professionals can calculate, or at least estimate, the sellers net proceeds after costs >
  • Closing Date, or the day ownership is transferred and the seller receives the money, can represent cost or value to sellers. If the seller has to make two moves or has to pay two mortgages during the transition from one home to another, costs can add up and offer value goes down.
  • Inclusions and Exclusions represent costs and value. Appliances, light fixtures, and draperies are common seller inclusions, but the cost of replacing them in the next home reduces profit.
  • Terms and Conditions are clauses in the offer which cover "what if" risks and the obligations of both parties. These clauses detail what the buyer asks the seller to do for the purchase price. The degree of uncertainty attached to the conditions and the buyers >
  • Intent and Sincerity are vital aspects of an offer although difficult to quantify. For the seller, offer value lies in the certainty that the buyer will close in spite of market shifts and other problems ahead.
  • Note: For more on how an offer can translate into value for sellers, read The Offer: Theres More to It Than Price."

    Weeks or months may pass from the time that you decide to sell and the day your real estate professional receives an offer to present to you. This key stage of selling your home is no time to discover:

    • what you didnt understand about selling
    • what you havent considered thoroughly
    • which details comprise your ideal outcome.

    Suggestion: To prepare for offer presentation, read the offer form standard clauses soon after listing, so that you understand what the small print commits you to do, protects you from, and leaves you vulnerable to. For instance, the seller is usually responsible for keeping the property fully insured until title changes hands. Do you understand what responsibilities you have if flooding, storm damage, or fire strikes before then? Ask your listing salesperson to show you typical offer clauses well in advance, so you have time to digest details and ask a lot of questions before youre up against the offer deadline which may only be a few hours away.

    Discussing strategies and contingencies with your listing salesperson ahead of offer presentation will help the professional negotiate a solid high-value Agreement with the buyer. Mentally preparing yourself, and anyone else who has a say in what happens to the property, means no one will be pressured into snap decisions or miss opportunities under the tight timelines common with offers.

    Real estate professionals are trained to help sellers make decisions in their own best interest by providing necessary context and details, but these professionals cannot advise sellers exactly what to do, nor make decisions for them.

    To gain full benefit from the knowledge and experience of the real estate professional who lists your real estate, let them fully prepare you for offer presentations in advance. When an offer comes in usually at a very inconvenient time, youll feel as confident and prepared as possible faced with this life-changing opportunity. You will understand which decisions to make and how to evaluate the full offer.

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    Ask the HOA Expert: Proxies Are Not Appropriate For Board Meetings

    Question: Our board dealt with a contentious issue recently. When it came time to vote, one of the directors pulled out a proxy from an absent director authorizing her to vote on his behalf. Is that proper?

    Answer: Proxies are not appropriate for board meetings since directors are elected to perform HOA business. Elected officials are not entitled to have others stand in for them. Proxies, of course, are appropriate for votes that involve the general members who are having someone represent their personal interests.

    Question: A couple of our condominium building roofs are beginning to fail. We recently performed a reserve study and discovered we do not have enough in reserves to do all the roofs let alone the other components for which the HOA is responsible. In order to avoid a special assessment and/or increase in maintenance fee to catch-up, some directors are suggesting doing one building at a time. Another is suggesting we let the residents in each building pay for their own roof replacement. Do you have a good response?

    Answer: Replacing roofs one building at a time is a bad idea. It complicates the maintenance and warranty issues and provides some unit owners with an improvement that all do not enjoy. Units with new roofs sell for more than those with old roofs. The HOA cannot circumvent its maintenance responsibility by passing it off to owners. Besides contradicting the governing documents, individual owners simply will not do it properly.

    If money is lacking, a special assessment is called for and the board has a fiduciary duty to move forward with it. And reserves require an adequate funding plan so this problem doesnt continue.

    Question: My HOA recently passed a Transfer Fee of 2 of a condos sale price. Many of the unit owners are up in arms about this fee. Do you have any advice?

    Answer: All HOA governing documents define how expenses are to be allocated to the members. The norm is either equally or according to square footage where footage varies significantly.

    Charging a Transfer Fee changes the prescribed allocation formula and blackmails buyers to pay if they want to "join the club". Some HOAs justify the charge as newcomers contributing to the reserve fund just like current owners have. The problem is, newcomers dont owe the reserve fund a penny since they havent benefitted from the assets. Proper reserve funding requires that money is set aside as the assets deteriorate. That way, each members pays for assets they directly benefit from, no more, no less. Charging a future owner for reserves is wrong and improper.

    The general rule and often described in the HOAs governing documents or state statute is that changing the expense allocation structure requires approval from 100 of the owners or the owners being affected and often their lenders since the fee structure directly impacts the lenders collateral. This will never happen because who will vote to pay more?

    From a practical standpoint, transfer fees inhibit sales by reducing the pool of buyers that are willing to pay them. Reducing the pool of buyers has an adverse affect on market values. Maybe your HOA is one of a select few that can charge with impunity but during a buyers market, this policy will cause values to fall and sales to fail.

    Question: When I purchased my condo, I bought loss assessment insurance coverage. My HOA recently filed a lawsuit against the builder for construction defects. To pay for the legal fees, the board levied a special assessment of 2000 per unit. When I made a claim against my insurance for this assessment, I was told that costs of litigation were not included under the protection. Help

    Answer: Loss assessment coverage only kicks in as the result of a covered claim. That means that if the HOAs insurance doesnt cover a claim in full and the HOA needs to special assess the members for the balance, loss assessment coverage would cover an owners share up to the limits of the coverage which is usually 1000 unless the owner has purchased extended coverage. Legal fees are generally not a covered claim. Bit insurance policies vary from company to company. Press your agent to explain your coverage in detail.

    Question: I made an offer to purchase a condo recently and was advised to review the reserve study. Basically, the HOA has almost no money set aside and is planning to special assess each member 1,000 to cover painting. I really love this condo but my gut instinct told me to steer clear of it because of the lack of reserve money. Did I make the right decision?

    Answer: You did the right thing and would do the board a big favor by passing on your reasons for backing out. More and more, informed real estate agents and buyers look closely at HOA reserve funding because lack of it always means special and unpredictable assessments and usually mean the property isnt being maintained consistently. When reserves arent adequate, smart buyers move on to another property where they are adequate and often pay more money for a similar property. HOAs that lack adequate reserves will lose buyers and market value.

    For more innovative homeowner association management strategies, subscribe to

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    New Homes Need Inspections Also

    Question: We are looking to buy a new home from a builder. We like the neighborhood and the price has been reduced to make it very attractive. Additionally, the builder is throwing in a number of extras, including paying all of our closing costs.

    However, we do not know this builders reputation, and would like to have the home inspected before we go to closing. Is this possible?

    Answer: In todays buyers market, most anything is possible, and I think its a very good idea. However, builders often reject such arrangements, for a number of reasons. Some builders claim that this will void their insurance policy and are afraid that someone will get hurt during the inspections. Other builders dont want their employees bothered by too many questions from the inspector, while other builders just say that "we will provide you with a house that has been approved by the county inspectors, so you do not have to worry."

    But you are correct in worrying. According to Frank Lesh, former president of the American Society of Home Inspectors ASHI, "even new homes have defects that only a professional can detect".

    Keep in mind that in many counties, the government inspectors are busy and do not have time to carefully look at all aspects of the new home. Often, by the time the county inspector makes a site visit, your builder may already have put up the drywall, thereby covering up the electrical and the plumbing.

    I have been involved in a number of new home warranty issues, many of which could have been avoided had the buyer been given the right to inspect the new home as it was being built. In one case, the new homeowner kept hearing pipes knocking every time the upstairs bathroom sink was turned on. The homeowner forced the developer to open up the walls -- at the developers expense -- and found that some of the plumbing pipes were not properly affixed to the wall. The building inspector that the homeowner retained -- after the house had been completed -- determined that this was what he called "water hammer".

    Indeed, in this case, the builder acknowledged that had there been a periodic inspection, the problem would have been detected earlier, at a significant cost savings to the builder.

    ASHI recommends a three-pronged inspection: prior to the pouring of the foundation, prior to insulation and drywall, and finally prior to the final walk-through.

    You should tell the builder that you want the right to have an inspector of your choice -- and at your expense -- to conduct these three inspections. The sales contract you sign should spell out this right in clear terms.

    There are many components involved in a new home -- such as the roof, the foundation, the electrical and plumbing and the heating and air conditioning systems. I recently heard of a situation where a homeowner complained that the new house was not being adequately cooled, and when a professional inspected the system, he discovered that the builder had made a mistake. The system that was designed for a smaller house was accidentally installed in the house that was inspected.

    Once again, the developer had to spend a lot of money correcting the situation -- money which could have been saved had there been periodic inspections.

    It often amazes me that when consumers buy a new car, they inspect it carefully, even to the point of kicking the tires. But when they buy a new house, they are more concerned about how many bedrooms there will be, and what size television will they be able to put in the family room.

    To my knowledge, there are two major home inspection organizations: ASHI and the National Association of Home Inspectors.

    If you do not have the name of a competent inspector, you can find one by going to either of these organizations website.

    When you contact a home inspector, inquire of his/her qualifications and background and check him/her out on the Web and at the Better Business Bureau.

    If you decide to hire an inspector, get a copy of the inspectors contract before you formally commit yourself. Read it carefully, and make sure that the inspector will be doing the job you want.

    There is one controversial provision in most home inspectors contract, called "an exculpatory clause". This states that should the inspector make a mistake and negligently fail to pick up problem areas in the house, your only remedy is to get full refund of the contract price. This clause has been upheld in the State of Maryland. However, the District of Columbia Court of Appeals held that these exculpatory clauses will not be enforced "when a party to the contract attempts to avoid liability for intentional conduct of harm caused by reckless, wanton or gross behavior." Carlton v Home Tech, decided June 15, 2006. This was a modest fix but unless you can prove that the inspector was engaged in such behavior, the exculpatory clause will be enforced. State laws differ on this issue.

    While not every home inspector will agree to delete this clause, it certainly is worth trying.

    Purchasing a new home creates significant anxiety among many potential homebuyers. Why not get an inspector to be on your side to >
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    How To Create Outdoor Shade: A Round-up Of 22 Ideas

    I often joke that my body is solar powered. When Im in the sun, I feel energized and Im overall in a happier mood. That being said, I live where sunshine isnt something I get to enjoy all that often. In fact, it is -13 degrees Fahrenheit where I am right now, in Michigan As much as I would love to soak up some natural rays, Im not going to go outside and freeze to death Ill just wait until the weather gets warmer to bask in the suns glow.

    Speaking of which, there can be too much of a good thing. Even though the sun feels good and we all need vitamin D and natural sunlight, come July, even us chilly mid-Westerners will take refuge under an awning or canopy for shade to get out of the heat and prevent sunburn.

    Every backyard space should have a plan for integrating a comfortable shaded area, for our pets, our children, certain plants, our company and for ourselves

    At my house, we have a back deck that is directly exposed to afternoon sunshine. This particular deck is hot to walk on, and plants left to grow on it often die if I leave them exposed all day. Even my sunbathing Great Dane, Ellie, avoids the back deck on hot days. There is zero shade.

    This may sound blissful for those currently buried in snow, but its no fun during the hot summer months. To prepare for this summer, Im researching a variety of ways to provide shade to our patio.

    My husband assumed this would be a costly project, but Im determined to show him that we can make our backyard and deck shady with a variety of DIY and/or affordable canopy options like those available from Quik Shade. Since he is the exact opposite of me and prefers to be out of the sun, I think he might come to like the idea of using our deck with a canopy on a Sunday afternoon, instead of sitting indoors. With so few warm weather days where I live, we need to take advantage of all the fresh air we can get

    If youre like me and you have a deck, patio or backyard that needs a shady spot, youre in luck. Ive found 22 fabulous ideas for how to create outdoor shade affordably. From using PVC pipes and pergola, to curtains and umb>
    Photo Collage Courtesy of Sommer Poquette.

  • DIY Outdoor Canopy Bed from Foxy Folksy
  • DIY Outdoor Awning from Curbly
  • DIY Simple Backyard Shade from All You
  • DIY Canvas Pergola from Shelterness
  • DIY PVC Cabana from Sunset Magazine
  • How to Make a Garden Canopy from Bright Bold amp; Beautiful
  • Papasan Canopy from Better Homes amp; Gardens
  • Garden Arch Canopy from Better Homes amp; Gardens
  • A Slice of Shade, Creating Outdoor Canopies from Martha Stewart
  • Perk up a Picnic, Easy Canopy from This Old House
  • DIY Outdoor Canopy from My Crazy Life
  • DIY Outdoor Canopy for less than 50 from The Dabbling Crafter
  • Cover Your Outdoor Space with a Shade Sail from The Garden Glove
  • Arrow Gazebo from The Home Depot
  • Beautiful Pergola Cover from Random Thoughts of a Supermom
  • Easy DIY Curtains for Outdoor Rooms and Spaces from Between Naps on the Porch
  • DIY Pergola Curtains from A Beautiful Mess
  • How to Shade Your Deck or Patio from The Family Handyman
  • Brown Garden House from The Home Depot
  • DIY Outdoor Curtains for Under 10 from Tiny Side Kick
  • No Sew Dropcloth Outdoor Curtains from Scattered Thoughts of a Crafty Mom
  • Umb>
    Photo Collage Courtesy of Sommer Poquette.

    What ideas do you have for giving your outdoor space some shade during the hot summer months?

    Sommer Poquette is a green-and-clean mom blogger from Michigan who writes for The Home Depot. While Michigan is still in the thick of winters cold, that hasnt deterred Sommer from dreaming about summer days warm enough to need shade protection from the sun. For Home Depots canopies and other shade-providing structures, you can go online to the Home Depot website.

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  • Agents: Is Your Social Media Selling?

    Lets face it; social media is a great place to be in 2015. Whether youre a business owner or a real estate agent, social media has a place for you. But heres the catch -- social media is only effective if youre doing it right, all the time. Weve all seen those Facebook pages and Twitter accounts that started strong and slowly faded into the background of the expansive world of social media -- but that doesnt have to be you.

    Here are the best social media sites that you can utilize when it comes to selling your listings:


    Hands down Facebook is the most popular social media site in the world and offers so much when it comes to reaching the right audience. Aside from posting >


    Although youre only allowed 46 characters or less, Twitter is another social media site that can help sell your listings. Twitter is great for interacting with the community and potential buyers, and its a great platform for images and videos. Twitter is also useful due to the ability to provide hash tags with tweets, which categorizes key words when people search for them. For example, if youre selling a luxury home in Lexington, you can hash tag the words "luxuryhomes" and "lexingtonhomes", so that if someone searches for those phrases your post will be in the shown tweets. Followers can also retweet and favorite your listings, which will then show up on their feed and become visible to their followers.


    Pinterest is filled with great ideas and beautiful photos, so it can be easy to get lost in the shuffle. But if youre creative and have the time, creating your own boards and pinning can be a fun and useful way to sell your listings. You dont want to bombard your followers with all listings, so you should have different boards >

    Remember, only consistent, and carefully thought out activity on these social media sites will bring the results that you want. By creating a presence on these social media sites and connecting with your target audiences, you can highlight your listings and get those homes sold

    For more information please visit:

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    Have You Considered Leasing Your Home?

    Your housing market may be heating up, tempting you to sell your home. But you may not be quite ready to let it go, or, when you run the numbers, you may not be able to sell it for as much of a profit as you may want.

    Have you considered leasing your home instead? You still retain ownership, giving you the opportunity to buy another home. And thanks to some generous tax rules, you can own your home for five years, occupy the home for two years, rent it up to three years and then sell it without paying capital gains taxes.

    With luck, youll gain equity on two properties. Thats how many people build wealth - with real estate rounding out their investment portfolios.

    When markets improve, often there arent enough homes available for purchase in the areas where families want to live. >

    The market may be good but is it a good time for you financially? The ideal time to lease your home is if you can rent it for more than youre paying in mortgage, taxes and insurance. You also need some savings that will cover months when the home isnt rented, as well as repairs that may come up.

    If you want to buy another home, the debt on the home you already own wont count against you as much as you may think, and especially if you already have the home leased. The lender may add a couple months of mortgage debt to your overall debt picture to be on the safe side because many properties dont rent right away or there may be lag-time between renters. With good to great credit, you can get a low down-payment loan that doesnt require all your cash.

    To help you decide if leasing is a good idea, talk with a real estate professional who enjoys working with the rental market such as an agent who is also a property manager. He or she will have comparables for other rentals in the area, so youll know how good the market is for homes like yours and how much you can expect to get for your home.

    Youll have to get your home ready to rent, just as you would to show it to a buyer. The better the condition, finishes and amenities your home has to offer, the more rent you can ask, within reason.

    A property management professional can handle the whole transaction for you, including showing your home and qualifying the renter with credit and criminal checks. Typically, this will cost you one months rent. If you think you wont be in a position to handle problems that may come up yourself, you can also hire the professional to manage your property.

    As the owner, you can decide whether or not to allow pets, but you cant refuse to rent to someone because of race, color, national origin, >

    Your real estate broker can perform a number of background checks for you on potential renters including credit scores, rental and eviction history, criminal and sex offender checks, motor vehicle checks, and employment verification. If you decide to rent your home yourself, there are companies online that specialize in background checks for landlords.

    Your rental agreement should include penalties for late payments, as well as outline clear terms -- length of the lease, possession date for move-in; terms for extending the lease, fees for late payments, pets or no pets and so on. You need to be very clear about what the renter is responsible for doing and what you will do as the owner. This will prevent disputes over who pays utilities, who mows the lawn and who calls the plumber.

    Make sure the renter also pays one months deposit so you can cover the costs of cleaning, repainting and other make-ready steps. Last, make sure your renter has renters insurance.

    Full Story >



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    Today's Real Estate News and Advice
    Updated: Thursday, March 05, 2015

    New Homes Need Inspections Also

    Question: We are looking to buy a new home from a builder. We like the neig...
    > Full Story

    How To Create Outdoor Shade: A Round-up Of 22 Ideas

    I often joke that my body is solar powered. When Im in the sun, I feel energized and Im over...
    > Full Story

    Agents: Is Your Social Media Selling?

    Lets face it; social media is a great place to be in 2015. Whether youre a business owner or...
    > Full Story

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    Copyright © 2015 Realty Times®. All Rights Reserved

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