Blog

July 26, 2015

Top 7 reasons why Tenants lose Security Deposit money

There’s an old Landlord saying…. If it wasn’t for the dealing with Tenants and property maintenance, Landlording would be Easy! If you’ve been a Landlord for more than 2 months, you’re silently nodding your head acknowledging the above with a smirk.  It’s OK.  Everyone does it, too. You also know that, as required by State law, you are required to send the outbound tenant a letter accounting for deductions to their security deposit. With this in mind, here’s the Top 7 reasons why tenants frequently see deductions made from their security deposit funds: 1.  Light Bulbs.   If your lease document does not require the tenant to replace burned out light bulbs in your property, you are literally throwing money out the window.  When our management company moves in a new Tenant, all the light bulbs are confirmed to be working and in good condition via photographs in our extensive […]
July 18, 2015

Fewer Renters Can Afford to Own–Great news for Landlords!

As real estate investors, opening up the Wall Street Journal can sometimes cause a panic attack. But in June 2015, this article came out giving most investors a sigh of relief and even a tingle down their leg. Spoiler Alert:  You’re going to make good money for a number of years to come if you play the market smart. http://www.wsj.com/articles/new-housing-crisis-looms-as-fewer-renters-can-afford-to-own-1433698639 Here’s a few bullet points if you don’t have time to read the entire article (but please read it eventually…) The U.S. homeownership rate is below where it stood 20 years ago when President Bill Clinton launched a national campaign to encourage Americans to buy homes. Conventional wisdom says the rate, at 63.7%, is leveling off to where it was for decades before the housing-market peak. The declines reflect a surge of new renter households, which is boosting rents. Together with tougher mortgage-qualification rules, this will leave households stuck between homes they […]
July 16, 2015

Sewer & Drain Backup Endorsements for Rental Properties

  Not exactly what you want to find in your house.  Definitely not what you want to hear about in your rental property. If you have a rental property with a basement, this is a reality that you likely will have to deal with, but there are ways to mitigate the risk as well as outcome. Two perspectives come into play here–that of the Landlord and that of the Tenant. (Standard disclaimer here before we get into the nitty gritty:  I’m not a licensed insurance agent and the comments below are not intended to be taken as providing such professional insurance advice.  Please contact a licensed insurance agent to discuss your particular situation.) Let’s look at the Landlord issues first… Make sure you replace your sump pump approximately every 3 years, even if it is functioning.  It’s a motor and moving parts.  Things break, wear out, get stuck.  Better to […]
June 9, 2015

The Cost of Your New Water Heater will make your blood boil.

Landlords and Home Owners–get ready to open your wallet deeper. All water heaters available for purchase after April 16, 2015 will be taller and wider than prior models in order to achieve the required efficiency ratings ordered by The Department of Energy (DOE) back in 2010.  The law is just now in effect. Most manufacturers report that the retail price will increase 25%. But that’s not the only cost you could be incurring.  The new sizes of the tanks will make replacement a logistical challenge in tight spaces.  It may require reframing a utility room, doors, and HVAC run changes. So be prepared for the new costs and inconveniences, swallow hard, and realize there is not a dag nabbit thing you can do except stomp your feet and pay up. Dan Baldini is the Founder of Polaris Real Estate & Polaris Property Management, LLC and is also an Adjunct Professor in the College of Business Finance Department […]
May 19, 2015

Why you MUST collect Security Deposit and 1st Month rent at time of lease signing

  One of the most frequent questions I receive from novice landlords is what funds to collect at lease signing. As fast as an Indy 500 car slams into the 3rd turn wall I respond with “Security Deposit PLUS 1st Month’s rent”. The reasons are simple for why you should require both to be paid at once but they all congeal into one simple concept: RISK MANAGEMENT Successful real estate leasing is almost all about risk management and the simplest way to minimize this risk is to force the tenant to have skin in the game.  Collecting essentially 2 months rent value at time of lease signing is plenty of skin for most tenants. It also sets the stage for the tenants to expect a certain standard of engagement with you as the landlord–you aren’t joking around with an important business transaction. Finally, it is an excellent secondary screening method–after all, if they don’t have […]
April 9, 2015

Good Property Management is more than managing homes….

Some days, we feel like ping pong balls getting batted back and forth over a net that keeps rising higher and higher.  We bounce between tenants, landlords, real estate agents, government officials, lenders, inspectors, appraisers, and contractors.  It can make your head spin if you lose focus on the Goal. “What is the Goal?”, you ask? Simple but complex.  Yes, it’s a paradox wrapped in an enigma. The Goal is this:  Assist our Clients move towards their objectives. Sometimes that Goal is to increase wealth by generating capital appreciation of an asset.  Sometimes it is to generate cash flow for living expenses.  Sometimes it is to simply liquidate a property and harvest the equity. Thank you, Mr. McKnight, for inviting our team to assist you in reaching your Goal.  It was truly our pleasure to serve you.     Dan Baldini is the Founder of Polaris Real Estate & Polaris Property Management, […]
April 8, 2015

Meth houses

Our daily interactions with Clients, peers, and prospects is always wickedly weird and unpredictable…. I got this text message from a friend of mine after he calls and I click ‘decline’ on my phone… Uh-Oh…..                 You can tell this isn’t going to be a good conversation ending well….                           Take Away:  When your Spidey-Sense goes into orbit, listen to it!!!
March 16, 2015

More Data Points on Rental Applications = Less Risky Tenants

I’m always confused when I see rental applications that are one page long.  In large font. With lots of white space on the paper. Such a disaster waiting to happen… If you want to secure better tenants in your rental properties, the solution is simple. Ask questions.  Lots and lots more questions. Trust me.  We process hundreds of rental apps each year and NOT A SINGLE PERSON didn’t finish the application just because we asked for lots of data on their personal and financial lives. How many data points are on our application?  164.  Yep.  One hundred and sixty-four. We gather it all upfront so that the we have all the necessary information for our Landlord’s to make informed decisions on how risky a tenant profile really is prior to making a Go/No Go decision…. An additional residual value in gathering this data up front comes into play after they have moved […]
March 11, 2015

Why Polaris Property Management screens EVERY adult…..

          It has always been our consistent practice and methodology to require a rental application on every adult who is going to live in one of our landlord properties, even if they are not financially contributing to the rent payments.  We check employment income, eviction databases, and a bunch of other data points, but 3 reports are absolutely critical to come back “clean”… Criminal history Sex Offender history OFAC history We feel  it is imperative not just for the landlord’s risk exposure, but also for the neighbors and our staff and vendors who will be interacting with the occupants. Where sometimes tenants get a bit bent out of shape is when an adult child “boomerangs” back home after high school or college.  Yes, we still require them to submit an application to get checked. Same goes for a new roommate. As you can surmise, top-notch property management includes a […]
March 10, 2015

Why you need to require renter’s insurance from your tenants.

Renters insurance isn’t just to cover the Tenant’s personal property….and this picture proves it. This is the result of a heavy crystal serving platter falling off the top of the refrigerator onto a SOLID SURFACE COUNTERTOP. The platter impacted the countertop with enough force to literally shatter the countertop and also cut the laminate flooring.  The landlord is looking at a mandatory replacement of the ENTIRE countertop as well as new flooring, too.  Likely an $8,000 repair. Fortunately, we have always required in our lease agreement that Tenants have renters insurance.  But this next point is critical….We also require the Tenants name the Landlord as an Additional Insured and our property management company as a Certificate Holder.  Doing so keeps us informed to any policy changes or lapses in coverage. We are now working with the Tenant’s insurance adjuster on getting it replaced and a huge expense has been avoided […]