Electrical Bill Too High?

Paying rent isn’t the only bill you have to worry about as a tenant. There are many bills that you have to pay each month. Rent is of course the number one priority as a tenant, for you want to ensure that you always have a roof over your head. The next bill in line of importance is your electrical bill. Electrical Bills tend to be one of the more expensive bills you are having to pay.

Here are a few ways to REDUCE YOUR ELECTRICAL BILL:

THERMOSTAT- Your thermostat is a big cause for such an expensive electrical bill. In the winters with the heat warming up your house, and the air conditioning cooling the house in the summer. Reducing the use of your thermostat might seem harder than it is. You would think that your heat needs to be on constantly in the winter to keep you and your family from freezing. One thing you could do both in the winters and summers is keep your air conditioning and heat off until you are home. There is no need to be heating or cooling your house for no one. Just doing the simple step of not using the air conditioning and heat when nobody is home will save you a great amount of money. Another way you can save money is on a nice day open up your windows and turn the air conditioning off. If it beautiful outside there is no need to be wasting your money; take advantage of the great weather and open up your windows. Also, during the cold winters covering your windows with curtains can help reduce the heat loss and helps keep the heat that you’re paying for inside.

LIGHTING- Your lights also add onto that big electrical bill. One way you can reduce the price of the lights are change all the bulbs to LED bulbs. LEDs can help save up to almost 80% of the energy you use when using your lights. By changing all the bulbs in the house to LEDs that saves you money right there. Another way to save is to turn lights off. You don’t need to light a room with no one in it, so turn the lights off. Once you have picked out the perfect outfit for the day turn the lights off in the closet. There is no reason for you to be wasting money for your closet to be lit up all day. Also, open up your blinds during the day and keep the lights off. The sunlight will do the same job as the lights but it will be for a lot better price, free!

WATER HEATER- I know some days a long hot shower just sounds heavenly, but those heavenly showers are adding onto your monthly bill. Heating your water takes lots of energy which is what causes it add lots of money onto that bill you dread paying. After a hot day outside, come home and take a nice cold shower; it will feel refreshing and save you money. Another way that will help you save is turn on you shower then jump on in. Don’t turn on your shower and walk away then forget and come back twenty minutes later. That extra twenty minutes the shower is running will not only waste water, but the hot water that you are paying your hard-earned money for.

By reducing the energy you use in your house you will reduce the price you pay at the end of the month. If you follow those steps of reducing the use of the thermostat, lights, and water heater you will greatly reduce the ending amount you owe at the end of the month.

Tenants You Want To Avoid

Throughout your time as a Landlord, you may deal with a lot of tenants. It is the problematic tenants that give you the most stress and may cause you to lose both time and money, rather than gain. From one Landlord to another, you can avoid all of these unnecessary headaches by steering clear of potential tenants that display these four red flags that most Landlords seem to brush off:

The Lush Tenant. As a Landlord, I have seen my fair share of problematic tenants, so certain red flags jump out at me automatically. I once had a potential tenant who came to my property for a scheduled appointment to view the house. When he got out of his car and came to shake my hand I got a nice big smell of what seemed to be alcohol. The potential tenant wreaked of both alcohol and cigarette smoke. This was a red flag to me. Now do not get me wrong, alcohol and smoking may not necessarily mean that they will be throwing frequent parties and such, but it may be a strong indicator that they may treat your house the way they treat their own bodies. It is probably a very good idea to stay clear of anyone who seems to always be drinking or smoking, unless you want your house smelling that way.

The Anger Management Poster Child. As I was leading a potential tenant into one of my rental properties, the individual got a phone call. He answered his phone and started screaming and cursing at the person on the other line. He lost his temper very quickly. This was a red flag to me. I was with this potential tenant for only about fifteen minutes, and I had already started to see exactly who I did not want to be living in my property. People with short tempers are usually destructive and harder to deal with. Even if a person seems difficult to work with while you are showing them the house, they may also prove to be harder to tend to as a tenant.

Children Gone Wild. Another example of a tenant you should stay clear of are the ones who can’t control their children, or let their children run wild. If you are showing the house and the child is running around acting crazy, that should be a major red flag to you. One problem I have seen multiple times while showing a house, is a child that likes to swing on the refrigerator door. This shows that the tenant will most likely damage lots of things in the house, because their children cannot respect the property. This may cost you more in the long run to fix or replace many things in order to make your property rental ready after they leave. Further, tenants like this may cause you a lot of stress of worrying how they are treating your property.

The Persistent Negotiator. You should also be aware of tenants that may not seem to be able to pay the rent. If the potential tenant seems persistent about getting you to lower the rent, then that is a good sign that they are worried about being able to pay the rent that you want. If the potential tenant doesn’t have an adequate income or has a bad reputation of not being able to pay past rents then you should stay away. You should not have to chase your tenant down for the rent on your property.

Please keep in mind that no family or individual is perfect and these red flags may not always lead to horrific outcomes, but exercising good judgment and foresight may save you from a ton of future grief and heartache as a Landlord.

How Do I Get My Property Rented

Getting your property rented isn’t always easy. There are many factors that go into obtaining a good tenant quickly. For instance, our market in St. Petersburg, Florida is very competitive. To catch the attention of a quality tenant you need to get your product in front of them quickly. Also, you want to make sure that your property is easily accessible, rental ready and priced correctly.

Marketing for your tenant – The Internet

There are several methods to attract a tenant to your unit. Some of our favorites are the different internet listing sites. There are 100’s of internet sites such as: Realtor.com, Hot Pads, Rent.com, Zillow, Trulia, Rent My House, Rentlinx and many more. A good property management company will already have a sophisticated listing integration program and will be able to get your rental property viewed by 1000’s of potential renters.

Yard Signs

Yard signs are still a good way to attract quality individuals. For example, Northeast Saint Pete is a very desirable area. As soon as you get the sign in the yard we have usually have instant interest. Many folks looking for a specific area will drive through neighborhoods or have a friend or relative in the area keep an eye out for them

Social Media

In today’s market, social media is a tool used by most everyone. Posting your property to Facebook, Twitter, Linked In, etc. is an inexpensive and effective way to get in front of a different set of people. While they might not be interested – they may know someone who is.

Being Rental Ready

Quality individuals want a quality product. Make sure your unit is clean and in good repair. Curb appeal is extremely important when trying to get your property rented. There should be no visible deferred maintenance and the property should be free of pests or unwanted critters.

Viewing the Property

Unlike individuals purchasing a property, tenants are generally looking for immediate information and viewing instructions. Open houses or lockboxes are an effective way to give the tenants access immediately. Our office utilizes a 24-hour automated service that gives them details about a property and allows them to register and get an access code to view the property.

Pricing

Our philosophy is never to be the most expensive, but to be priced competitively to attract a quality applicant. In some instances, pricing your property too high will work against you. Many tenants who have a poor credit or rental history will pay more for a property because no-one else wants them, which frequently results in a bad experience for a landlord.

Often owners think finding a tenant is easy because we did it so well, but the reality is we have resources that we have compiled over the last 25 years. If you find yourself with a rental for more than 30 days, you may want to seek the advice of a professional property manager.

Dealing With Angry Tenants

A tenant’s rent is usually the largest monthly payment they make and a Landlord’s house is usually the most valuable investment they have. With these two things in mind, when there is a problem, things can get very passionate. As an owner or property manager you need to know how to defuse difficult situations. When a tenant has a problem and is angry, this is not the time to be emotional.

Listening is Key

Ask what the problem is and then listen. Do not interrupt or ask them to please calm down. They need to feel like you are listening and truly care about them. This is not always easy, especially if you disagree, but remember, we have two ears and one mouth for a reason. Your purpose is to diffuse the situation, not make things worse.

Be Sympathetic

The last thing an angry tenant wants to hear is that it is all their fault, you don’t care or you can’t help them. Acknowledge their concerns and act like you truly care about helping them. Avoid words that are negative in connotation such as ” I can’t, I won’t, that’s not going to work, etc.”. If you are unable to assist them explain why and give suggestions on how they may be able to resolve their problem.

Don’t Argue

The last possible thing you ever want to do is argue with a person who may not be acting reasonably. This will always fail and most likely cause the individual to escalate and retaliate. It does not matter if they are wrong or right. Pointing out why they are incorrect or misinformed will not diffuse a bad situation, it will only make it worse.

Treat Them The Way You Want to Be Treated

Respect, humility and treating them the way you want to be treated is key. Also, recognize that the reason they are going off the deep end may not be the issue. They could have a child who is ill, lost their job, got a ticket and this last issue has ignited their fury. If you really want to help resolve the problem – truly helping and acting like you care is critical.

Being A Savvy Tenant in A Demanding Rental Market

In the Pinellas County rental market – housing is in high demand and finding a nice property can be extremely challenging especially when you are competing against other possible tenants. Maneuvering through the rental market is easier if you are a proactive renter.

Locating A Property

The internet is the most useful tool in today’s market, but unfortunately many of the websites that pull them are out of date. As soon as you locate a property call immediately. Emailing can slow the process down and cause you to lose a potential property. If you cannot reach someone and there is an address – drive by the property. Often times there will be additional information on the sign that you can obtain. When you reach the property manager – put your “best foot forward” and always be polite and courteous.

Viewing and Applying For the Property

After viewing the desired property if you are interested follow up immediately. If a company has an online application, complete it, being as thorough as possible and pay the application fee. Once submitted call or email the property manager to alert them that you have followed the instructions and submitted the application.

Understanding Your Rental Worthiness

While credit is a big part of the decision-making process, it is not that all that counts. Most companies will also do a search on your civil and criminal background. They are also looking that you have stable employment and can afford the rental you are applying for. Lastly they want to see a stable rental history.

Evictions and Foreclosures may not rule you out, but you want to disclose anything derogatory upfront and offer to pay a higher security deposit. Don’t wait for them to find an issue, always inform the potential landlord before they run the application. This will help save you money if it won’t work or build good rapport with the property manager if they will consider you.

Securing the Rental

Your move in date also will affect the decision making process for a management company. The sooner you are willing to move in may be the deciding factor when up against another possible renter. Once approved, do not delay in bringing the landlord the security deposit and executing the rental agreement. A property is not yours until the lease is signed by all parties.

Even though Saint Petersburg and the surrounding cities of Pinellas County can be a demanding rental market – if you are a savvy tenant you are on your way to securing a property you can call home.

Investing In Rental Properties

Is now a good time to invest in rental properties? This is the question most people ask me when they realize I have been in property management for over 26 years and an investor for almost 30. My answer is an undeniable yes. There are many factors affecting our market today. The economy is improving and interest rates are on the rise which impacts greatly an investors bottom line. In addition, the housing market has bounced back in most areas and prices are steadily rising. The demand for rentals exceeds the supply, thus allowing an investor to command a higher rental price and obtain a better-quality tenant. The Millennials’ are not interested in home ownership as they do not want the responsibility nor do they want to be tied to one place long term.

But how does this compare to other investment opportunities? Real estate, when purchased correctly and professionally managed, can be one of the strongest returns I have found with very minimal risk. In real estate, you have the future appreciation of the property, your tenants are making the mortgage payments for you and are paying down the principle, all your expenses associated with the rental are tax deductible against the income and lastly you have tax benefits of the depreciation of the asset. For the strongest return, I always coach first time investors to invest in “middle America” and stay away from high end properties or high crime areas. While both of these look good initially, they rarely perform better and usually come with more headaches. I also caution investors to not over leverage. A good rule of thumb is 30% down with a mortgage of 70%. If you are thinking of investing in real estate go talk to a licensed real estate professional or property manager who owns their own investment property. They will give you the best advice.

Sandy Ferrera, CEO
All County Property Management Franchise Corp.

Why Choose a Property Management Company?

So you purchased a new home but want to keep the old family home too? Today you might consider renting the old family home and becoming a landlord. Tomorrow, you might regret this day if you don’t make careful decisions.

Congratulations on your new business venture! Wait? Did I say business? Yes I did and there will be more on that later. Beside business stuff, there are many pitfalls that the new landlord needs to watch out for.

First pitfall might be friends and family. You might have a family member, let us call him Randy Renter, and he can’t wait to rent your old family home. This is a perfect situation, right? You have known Randy all your life, so why not let him rent your home? Since he is family, do you really need a signed lease? Also, you might feel pressured by other family members to allow the Randy Renter to move in right away.

There are a couple of scenarios that can play out in this situation.
Randy Renter might not qualify for the home. He may say he makes enough money to pay rent, but when was the last time you saw a paystub from him? I have never seen a paystub from any of my cousins, siblings, aunts or uncles. Randy Renter can move in and stop paying rent because he can’t afford it. If he can’t afford rent, he can’t afford to move to a new home. So he will sit tight and force you to evict them. This will cause a rift in the family and cost you a lot of money in lost rent, damage and fees. On top of that, if you don’t post notices correctly, you might have to start your process all over after months of delays. That is only if Randy doesn’t dispute the eviction with the courts. If the tenant disputes the eviction then you have to go to court and that can be more expense and delays. Especially if you withheld requested repairs until rent is paid. If you did this, you could lose your court case and the tenant could be granted permission to stay.

If you do your eviction with an attorney, which is highly recommended, you will pay close to $1000 in attorney fees and court costs, just to get your home back.
Then you have to do repairs and rehab just to get another tenant to rent. This is usually when I get your call. You are frustrated and broke. This business venture isn’t making any money and if you are feeling defeated now, wait until you get your property tax bill after you lose your homestead.

While this is a worst case scenario, it happens all too often. You might be a great business person but there is always a learning curve when it comes to starting a new business. My suggestion would be, find a good, professional property manager and let them manage that home for you.

When looking for a property manager, there are some things you should consider. First thing to consider is experience. Ask how long the property manager has been in business. While they might be new to property management, they might be with a company that provides systems and education for their new managers. The company that stands behind the property manager is very important. Is the company primarily a property management company or is it a primarily a sales company? Real Estate is always fluctuating and new laws are always being adopted. Choose a company that specializes in Property Management as they will keep up with the new Landlord Tenant laws for your area. You should use someone who is also a Realtor. A Realtor has certain standards and education that they must keep up with. Choose a Realtor that specializes in Property Management. Your sales Realtor should be able to give you a few recommendations.

My name is Alisha and I am a professional Property Manager with All County® Suncoast. All County® has been in the property management business for over 2 decades. We are the premier property management company that uses the most advanced technology to manage single family homes, condo and small apartment buildings. All County® is also a franchised business with franchises all over the United States.

Rental demand heats up in the St. Petersburg, Florida area

As with many areas in the United States, rental demand continues to climb in the St. Petersburg, Florida area. The latest data from the Federal Reserve suggests that now is a great time to be a property owner since during the last three months of 2015 property owners’ rental income amounted to around 4.3 percent of the U.S. national income. Meanwhile, key takeaways from the “Emerging Trends in Real Estate” report published by the Urban Land Institute and pwc has us looking forward to successful investments for properly managed rental assets.

What the analysts are saying

(You can download and read the full report here):

• Prospects for the multifamily rental sector still rank “well” for 2016.
• Due to the size of generation Y, demand for both rentals and ownership housing is poised to expand.
• Investment strategy for single-family home rentals is changing from the “flip” strategy to becoming operating businesses, as more people opt to rent by choice rather than necessity.
• Investment prospects for single-family homes rank “fair” for 2016
• Some older home renters are opting for luxury rentals.
• Domestic and global capital continues to flow into the U.S. real estate market.
• “The industry is trending toward more intensively active management…”
• Interest rates will continue to rise.
• “The Supreme Court has affirmed that local communities can take legal action to address disparities in housing, even if they are the unintentional result of actions rather than conscious discrimination.”

Why St. Petersburg, Florida?

• According to reports by ApartmentList.com, rent in Florida is increasing at a higher rate than the national average.
• HomeVestors and Local Market Monitor have ranked St. Pete -Tampa one of the top ten areas in the United States for real estate investing.
• Millennial populations tend to rent for longer periods than did their parent and they add to the overall rental demand.

What if my rental is vacant?

Selecting the right tenant for your rental is a critical first step toward maintaining the value of your investment property. Qualified reliable tenants play a significant role in protecting against undue deterioration.

If your rental has been on the market for a significant amount of time, consider talking with All County Suncoast Property Management about what changes can be made to decrease the amount of time it takes to find a qualified tenant. While every situation varies, there is a short list of frequently cited improvements that can often lead to more rental applications.

• Give it some curb appeal. Spruce up the yard or to trim the trees and bushes. A freshly power washed driveway can also make a big difference.
• Clean the carpets. A professionally steamed and shampooed carpet can make a rental feel like new again!
• Add some paint. A little bit of outdoor and interior paint can go a long way.
• Price it right! If your rental is drawing in the kinds of applicants that you are looking for, talk with your property manager to ensure that the asking monthly price is competitive and compares to other similar properties in your area and that are relatively the same age.

All County Suncoast Property Management can help you get your property rent ready and help you take advantage of the St. Petersburg, Florida area rental market. Call now to learn more about our annual management services and how our professional property managers can make a big difference to your bottom line.

Your St. Pete, Florida lease agreement matters!

It is important to be aware of changes to real property law and contract law. Perhaps what is more valuable is to have a lease reviewed by a lawyer who specializes in landlord/tenant law. Our management professionals always make use of a carefully worded St. Pete, Florida lease agreement that has been reviewed by an attorney.

Recently, major changes have been made to landlord/tenant law in places like California, Wisconsin and other parts of the country, which has social media all abuzz. In an effort to equalize the position of property owners and their tenants, landlord/tenant law is constantly evolving and landlord’s rights and landlord’s responsibilities in St. Pete and elsewhere are constantly changing. For instance, prior to March of 2015 landlords in Wisconsin were obligated to make arrangements for storage of any personal property that belonged to an evicted tenant. To fulfill such an obligation, landlords in that area needed to notify the sheriff’s department, hire a bonded mover, and give notice to the evicted tenant. The revised law now allows a landlord to presume that property left behind and to deem it abandoned. There are exceptions to the rule, of course, and this is just one example of how estate law can and has evolved in places around the country.

The lessons that we can take from trending news topics like those out of Wisconsin make it clear that your property manager’s role goes way beyond simply filling unoccupied space. At All County Suncoast Property Management, we can proudly say that our expertise in tenant placement, lease execution and lease enforcement will help to protect your property investments for years to come.

In order to keep in line with the ever changing rules, we regularly update the Florida lease agreement. A well written lease allows All County Suncoast Property Management to enforce lease requirements, and in the case of an escalated issue, a well written lease could mean the difference between winning or losing a court case. Our leases are well written and tenants’ responsibilities are clearly defined. St. Pete, Florida property owners can entrust All County Suncoast Property Management to safeguard your property investment and to allow you peace of mind!