Avoiding Costly Sacramento Property Management Mistakes
You plan meticulously and make a record of every dollar, every conversation you have had with a tenant, and every notice that you have placed on their door. You have made yourself available twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week since you bought for your first investment property. Then with one slip, one mistake, it falls to shambles. You are hit with an enormous expense that could have been avoided in property management. Sacramento landlords can work for months, and even years, trying to recoup the costs after paying for a mistake. Do not let this be you. Keep reading if you want to improve your cash flow, keep vacancy rates low, and avoid costly legal fees.
No property owner likes having their property vacant. When it is vacant, it halts cash flow, costs extra money to get the home rent ready, and you lose money every day that your property sits empty. During quarter one of 2019, the average vacancy rate for rental housing in America was seven percent. That is higher than last years 6.60 percent, but lower than the long term average of 7.36 percent. There are many strategies that Sacramento property managers can do to avoid long vacancies. A few of these include picking a highly desired rental property, marketing it aggressively, properly preparing it for showings, and pricing it right.
- Rental Property Selection: The first criteria investors should look for when seeking to purchase a rental property is the neighborhood. Find a neighborhood that has a track record of low vacancy rates. These neighborhoods typically have good schools, a lot of amenities, offer single family dwellings, have grocery shopping and dining nearby, and are convenient for commuting to work.
- Marketing Your Rental Property: When you are searching for a home to rent or buy, what is one of the first things you look at on a listing? Pictures. Pictures can attract or detract prospective tenants from expressing interest in your rental. Get high quality photos of your property and use the best picture as your featured image on the listing. Advertise your property across multiple websites like Zillow, Hotpads, Oodle, Craigslist, and other local classifieds. Place a For Rent sign in the front yard of your property. This not only informs people driving by who are looking to rent, but also alerts neighbors who have friends or family that are looking for a rental. Word of mouth can be very powerful in Sacramento property management.
- Preparing Your Property for Showings: Turning over a property to get it ready for showings to prospective tenants requires a lot of time, work, money, coordination, and efficiency. A rental property that is ready for showings should have fresh paint on the walls, clean and well kept flooring, appliances that work, fresh landscaping, should be clear of all pests, and all cabinetry and countertops should be clean and in good condition. Once a past tenant vacates and turns in keys, landlords and property owners should enter the premises immediately to cut down on vacancy time. If possible, enter the property approximately two weeks prior to the tenant vacating to get an idea of the amount of work needed upon move-out. Doing so allows landlords to schedule vendors ahead of time, so they can get the date of service they need and want without wasting days between vendors during vacancy.
- Pricing Your Rental Property: Expert property managers in Sacramento conduct market comparisons and analysis to make sure they are asking the right amount for rent. If you price a property too high, you will have prolonged vacancy. If you price it too low, it will get snatched up right away, but you will walk away knowing you could have received a higher rental price. Look for properties that are within a three to five mile radius that have similar square footage, bedroom to bathroom ratios, amenities, quality of neighborhood, and age of property and fixtures. Price your property competitively and always start a few dollars high. If your phone fails to ring within the first few days, lower the price by twenty-five dollars and see if phone traffic picks up.
It is better to have a property vacant than to accept unqualified tenants. Do not lower your tenant screening standards just because your property is sitting vacant for longer than you expected. Set rigorous screening standards for your tenants to ensure they pay their bills on time, make sufficient income, and have a proven track record of renting from other companies in property management. Sacramento landlords should ask for a 3:1 income ratio. This means that if rent is $2,200/month, the monthly gross household income of applicants must be at least $6,600. Require that applicants provide you with proof of income. This could be the two most recent pay stubs, previous two years of tax return documents, six months of bank statements, or official offer letters typed and signed on letterhead. Run a credit check and background check on applicants. A credit check will tell you if they are current on paying bills and a background check will let you know if they have any criminal activity. Certain criminal activity could cause a liability to property owners. Call previous management companies or landlords to inquire as to what type of tenants your applicants are.
It comes and goes every month and if you do not have a simple and reliable rent collection process, you will find yourself dreading it every month. Companies who specialize in property management in Sacramento have automated rent collection processes that allow tenants to pay rent online, at their convenience. At the time of lease signing, property managers should clearly outline when rent is due, the correct amount, what happens if they fail to pay, and how they can pay. The old method of dropping a paper check off at the management office is outdated. Tenants now want the convenience of paying online, with the click of a button and RPM Select is keeping up with the times. Having an automated system in place if tenants do not pay rent can be a life saver. Software systems can release a 3 Day Notice to Pay Rent or Quit directly to tenants. Say goodbye to the days of posting notices on front doors. Your life just got a whole lot easier.
If you are looking to fork out a huge amount of money, simply make a legal mistake. Chances are a lawsuit will be filed and you will find yourself in court with hefty legal fees. It is imperative to your success as a property manager in Sacramento that you are educated on federal, state, and local laws. Below is a list of some common laws that property managers need to know to protect themselves on a daily basis.
- Fair Housing Act
- Americans with Disabilities
- Age Discrimmination Act
- Title VI of the Civil Rights Act
- Habitability Laws
Make it a priority to inspection your rental property biannually. During your property inspection, look at the interior and exterior. If the property is occupied, post a proper Notice of Entry and give ample notice. During your inspection, look for broken pipes, signs of leaks, proper seals on windows and doors, check all door and window locks, test appliances, change filters on air conditioning and heating units, look for signs of pests or overcrowding of residents, and all lease compliance issues. Conducting biannual property inspections will allow managers and property owners to catch maintenance problems while they are still small. Small problems that become big and worse, cost more money, cause an inconvenience to tenants, and more damage to the property.
Why You Need Property Management Sacramento Experts at Select
With all of the complexities of managing your investment property, we want to assure you that there is an easier way. When you hire Select, you can rest easy knowing that your property is a top priority to us and that everything from the leasing phase to the move out phase will be taken care of properly and legally. Make the most money on your investment by calling us today.