The State Of The Rental Market And What To Do About It

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By Justin Elliot

There are fundamental reasons why your apartment may not be renting as quickly this year as it may have in previous years. The first of which is the job market, which is no secret, but its effects have been hard felt. National studies have now revealed that only 1 out of 5 graduating seniors had received a job offer in 2009. In 2008, that number was better than half. This dynamic change has drastically reduced the number of new “renters” looking for an apartment.

The sour job market has also made people more apprehensive about moving in general. There is that underlying feeling, “will I even have my job next month or will there be more layoffs?” In fact, another national survey reflected that 25% less people moved last year than 2008. This again is eating into our pool of renters.

Fix A Leaking Faucet And Save Some Green At The Same Time

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How long have you been ignoring that pitter-patter coming from the shower or jiggling the handle on that running toilet? Well, you may as well be pouring money down the drain. Fixing easily corrected leaks can save homeowners more than 10 percent on water bills, and it’s good for the environment.

While leaks may sometimes seem like small problems, they waste valuable resources and money over time. On average, a U.S. household leaks more than 11,000 gallons of water per year—enough to fill a backyard swimming pool. Common leaks, such as dripping faucets and aging toilet flappers, are easily correctable. WaterSense, a partnership program sponsored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), is encouraging residents to fix household leaks:

Protect Your Expensive Landscape From Japanese Beetles

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Japanese BeetlesAccording to the most recent study by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Japanese beetles cause more than $420 million in damage annually to trees, plants, flowers and vegetables. But did you know that Japanese beetles actually begin their lives underground as grubs? If left unchecked, grubs will damage your lawn. This one-two punch can create havoc in your landscape and cost you a bundle of money.

Rent Watch: Subtenant Unlawful Detainers & Landlord Pet Discretion

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QUESTION:   For many years, I have been living with my sister and her husband in an apartment they rent.  The property manager knows I live there, but I pay rent to my sister who pays the property manager.  Much to my surprise I learned the hard way that my sister had stopped paying the rent and that an eviction case had been filed against her and her husband.  I only found out when I came home one day and found a sheriff’s notice on the front door stating that we would be physically evicted in five days.  I never received any court papers and when I asked my sister for the court papers, I saw that I was never named as a defendant in the court case.  I didn’t do anything wrong here and I wonder if I can continue to live in this apartment.

What To Consider When Hiring a Property Management Company

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If a property owner has a growing number of properties, it’s inevitable that a day will come when they ask, “Should I outsource the day-to-day operations of my business to a property management company?”

Deciding when to outsource and which company to hire is one of the most important business decisions a property owner can make. Choose wisely, and an owner will be rewarded with the peace of mind that comes with responsible property management. Choose incorrectly, and an owner will be working harder after hiring a property management company.

How to Value a Real Estate Management Business

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By Ronald F. Hammond, CCIM, RPA, PPM

The owner of a real estate management business may have many reasons to establish the precise value of the company. Selling may seem the most obvious, but valuation done for the asset allocation for tax or other purposes— estate planning, acquiring a loan or other funding—are equally important. Although the sale of the real estate management business may include other non-management operations, such as in house mortgage lending, leasing, brokerage, insurance, maintenance, construction and other functions that contribute to the gross income of the business, this discussion has been limited to the valuation of the property management function alone.

Entry Door Security – Are You at Risk?

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By Don Logay

Today’s thieves have new “tools” that make burglaries easier than ever and they are getting smarter at determining when is a good time to break into your home or business.

As an example, consider “lock bumping.” Haven’t heard of it? Just Google lock bumping and you’re in for a shock. After viewing a few video clips, you’ll be surprised to see how easy it easy it is to do and how available these low-tech tools are to virtually anyone who wants them.

All a thief has to do is insert a special “bump key” into a lock, give it a couple of taps and they can open any standard dead bolt or lockset just like they had your individually cut key.

Safe Planning Using A Personal Residence Trust

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I am often asked, what is a safe planning technique an individual can do regarding transferring assets to their heirs?  Since the family residence is one of their major assets, it is not surprising that transferring it to a special trust can lead to major benefits for all parties.  The reason for this is legislation enacted by Congress that has approved this planning.  This planning still works in 2010 even though estate tax this year but the gift tax is still around.  In 2011 the estate tax returns under current law.

I have gone through estate tax audits with the IRS and a qualified personal residence trust is easily approved, if (i) there has been proper valuation of the residence at the time of transfer and (ii) the parent(s) follows the planning discussed below. Often, I only transfer a 50% interest in the residence which is permitted by IRS regulations.  This helps when the parent(s) still wants to retain their separate interest in the residence.  The parent can also transfer a vacation home under this type of planning.  The IRS limits this planning to only two residences.  Since this planning is done mostly between parent and child, at the end of the fixed term there will be no increase in property taxes!

Wheelchair Accessability

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Reach A Wider Rental Audience By Making Your Building Wheelchair Accessible

By Brett McKee

While the Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits discrimination against persons with disabilities in places of public accommodations and commercial facilities, many apartment buildings are not wheelchair accessible. It is illegal for apartment managers to discriminate based on handicap but it is not uncommon for apartment managers to skirt around the issue to avoid the costs of getting a building up to ADA code. In fact, the multifamily firms of JPI and Equity Homes were recently sued for allegedly violating the Fair Housing Act and Americans with Disabilities Act.What many apartment managers do not realize is there are affordable and non-permanent ways to make a building or apartment handicapped accessible. Not only will your building be in compliance with the ADA but it will also make your rentals available to the over one million Americans who use wheelchairs and the over 54 million with some sort of disability. Apartment managers may also be faced with circumstances where people need a wheelchair on a short-term basis, such as if a tenant is recovering from an injury or surgery. The same goes for if you are showing a model unit for potential tenants to see. If the building is not wheelchair accessible, you may lose a reliable renter but consider the other options available – like buying a ramp and reusing it as it is needed – to ensure your property appeals to other potential tenants in the same situation.

Industry Products for 2010

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New Industry Products

This month we are featuring three new industry products that will help you save money, protect your tenants, and go green.

One2Flush revolutionizes the way you save money on your water bill. A couple of months ago we ran an article promoting One2Flush. Since then Apartment News has gone to fully backing the product. We have installed One2Flush in our own homes, and already started noticing the money being saved. Cutting the water used while flushing, apartment owners can save thousands on their water bills by installing this product in all their units. The more units you have = more $ saved. To get more information call (800) 931-6666.