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Why Renter’s Insurance is a Smart Investment

You’ve just rented a great apartment and you’ve moved in all your stuff, including a computer, an iPad and a few other expensive toys.  Suddenly water starts dripping through your ceiling.  You run upstairs to the unit above you, bang on the door and find out that the tenant above you has left the bathtub running and flooded their bathroom.  By the time you get back downstairs to your new home, the ceiling has fallen down in places and your computer and other toys are water logged and ruined.  Not to mention, you can’t live in this mess.  Now what?

Your landlord’s insurance doesn’t cover your personal belongings and you may or may not get paid from the upstairs tenant’s insurance, if they even have any.  And that might only be after a long battle.

Hopefully, you were wise enough to purchase renter’s insurance before you moved in.  This is insurance that usually costs less than one dollar per day and it covers all your personal belongings inside the unit.  If you have renters insurance, all your damaged property will be replaced and everything cleaned up at little or no expense to you.  If you have the right rental insurance, and need to move out while repairs are made, the insurance will cover the cost of living in a hotel, too.  Most renters insurance will also cover you if someone visits you and gets injured inside your home.

If you live in an apartment, you are surrounded by people you don’t know and you have no idea what they might be doing that would endanger your things.  Even if you live in a single family home, things happen and you need insurance.  What if the guy across the street backs his car into your living room?  What is there’s a fire and there is major smoke damage to all your things?

Cover the ‘what ifs’ and get renters insurance as soon as you sign the lease.  Just in case the worst happens, you can recover from it and get on with your life in the style you’re used to.

 

Oh by the way, if you know of anyone who is interested in hiring a property manager or in purchasing a property to use as a rental in Northern Colorado, we have the systems and the expertise to help them.  Please call us for your property management needs.

So You Want to Be a Landlord

 

We talk with a lot of people as part of our property management business and one thing we often hear is that the person would love to own a rental property. “Easy money”, “Just wait for the checks to roll in”, or “I read a book about that”. These are often heard comments from someone who has never owned a rental property.

It’s a sad thing to have to tell them, but it’s really not that easy. Do you understand Fair Housing Laws? Do you have a good real estate attorney on retainer for those sticky moments when you don’t know how to proceed? What about security deposits, do you know the rules for retaining that money? Do you know your states habitability laws? Who goes out in the middle of the night when something breaks?

Do we have your attention yet? Managing a rental property is a financial and legal maze that has dozens of implications and not very many clear cut answers. You cannot just read a book and know what you’re doing. Real Living 1st Choice Real Estate Services has over 35 years of combined property management experience and many more years of sales experience. And we still have to look up laws, call our attorney, ask for help and generally feel our way through certain problems. So our first piece of advice is that you should hire an experienced property manager to take care of your property. Get referrals for a good property manager, interview them carefully and then ask to talk with some of their current owners.

The ideal situation would be to have a real estate agent who sells properties and manages rentals. Because we do both, we have a unique perspective on what makes a great rental. We hear the comments when we show a rental, deal with the issues the pop up with older construction, and know the areas that rent more quickly than others. That experience gives us the expertise to guide you toward a rental property that will be rented quickly and will stay rented. We can also advise you on cash flow possibilities and what you need in reserves for repairs, taxes and insurance.

Owning a rental property, or several rental properties, can be lucrative and rewarding in a lot of ways. But you have to be prepared and knowledgeable or it can quickly turn into a nightmare. Do yourself a favor and hire a professional to handle the details.

How to Rent the House You Love

How to Rent the House You Love

You have found the perfect house to rent and are ready to go through the tedious process of qualifying for the property and proving you’re a good renter. What can you do in advance to be prepared for this process?

– Have all the phone numbers handy for your employer’s employment verification.

– Have all the phone numbers with you for your past two rental references. If it is a private party, let them know that someone will be calling and ask them to please call back with the information as soon as possible.

– If you know there are issues with your credit history, get those cleared up before applying. Is it worth losing out on a house you would love to live in over a $37.00 collection charge? Or worse yet, is there a mistake on your credit that you haven’t gotten around to correcting? Get this done and include the documentation with your application.

– If you know you might not qualify, arrange to have someone in your family or a close friend to stand by as your co-signer. It’s so much easier to set this up when you’re not in the middle of the heat of trying to get an application in during a hot rental market.

– Get all of your paperwork in at once and as quickly as possible. We operate on a first come, first served basis, so if you walk in the office two hours after the showing the property may already have an application.
Finding a nice rental to live in for the next year is always a challenge. Not all landlords take care of their properties, so some are not nice enough to live in. Right now, it’s a very tight rental market so units go quickly, usually to the renter who is organized and ready to go. Increase your chances of making this happen by being ready for what is expected.

Things You Shouldn’t Do To Rentals in Northern Colorado

When it comes to our rentals in Northern Colorado, we make every effort to have your rental ready for you when you move in. This includes shampooing the carpet, completing an initial cleaning if necessary, changing the locks so the old tenants can’t gain access, repairing dripping faucets, replacing torn window screens, touching up paint and general repairs. In return, we ask that you treat your rental like your home and take care of it. If something breaks, call us. Don’t put up with it for weeks and then complain when you pay your rent. We want everything to be in working order for you. Just realize that the repair may take a few days as emergencies, like no heat, come first.

Some other things not to do…

Paint the basement walls with fluorescent graffiti for a birthday party
Decorate with piles of spray foam insulation
Use hundreds of staples to put up posters and take down the posters but leave the staples behind.
This is very costly to clean up. Imagine the poor guy who has to pull all those!
Write on the ceilings with fluorescent markers.
Put your own tile squares on the floor in an odd pattern with large gaps in between each tile
Put self-sticking shelving paper on your kitchen counter tops because you don’t like the color.

Go to this link for some decorating ideas that won’t cost you your security deposit – http://www.popsugar.com/home/Decorating-Ideas-Rentals-15671374#photo-15671374

Please remember that everyone has different styles and tastes. We try to keep our rentals very neutral so you can add your own personal touches. A hot pink wall in the bedroom will not appeal to everyone and it is very expensive to cover up. Yes, this is your home for now and you need to put your stamp on your home. However, think about the person who moves in behind you. They have their own likes and desires and may not appreciate the gift you left them.

Oh by the way, if you know of anyone who is interest in hiring a property manager or in purchasing a property to use as a rental in Northern Colorado, we have the systems and the expertise to help them. We work in Fort Collins, Loveland and Greeley, so please call us for your property management needs.

Rental Season in Northern Colorado, Are You Ready?

Welcome to another great rental season in Northern Colorado. Are you ready? Are your properties ready?

Now is the time to make certain your rental house is at its best. Yes, because of the housing shortages, you can probably get a great price for your rental. However, I talk with renters every day who complain about the condition of the properties they are expected to rent. These are often hard working, well paid people who simply cannot find quality housing. But they would be willing to pay top dollar for a house that is repaired and in good condition. So, as an investor, wouldn’t it be worth your time to spend a few dollars before any showings happen to make certain you can get top rents for your property?

If there is any concern that you don’t have the time or the resources to complete these repairs, consider hiring a property manager to help with this. We have years of experience in knowing what repairs really pay a return and what repairs may not be an investment. We also have a team of vendors who give us the best prices to make these repairs happen. These vendors know that we will hire them again and again throughout the year so they give us great prices on labor. And they bargain shop for sinks, doors, light fixtures and anything else we might need. Often a simple updating of light fixtures gives a rental an entirely new look which can increase the potential for higher rents.

Try looking at your property with fresh eyes. How does a stranger see it? If you can’t step back and look at it objectively, talk to a property manager. We have no emotional attachment to the house so are often better able to see issues that may turn off a tenant.

There are certain ways to update that will give you the greatest return – http://finance.yahoo.com/news/rental-landlords-pick-property-upgrades-224800580.html.  Updating and repairs may well get you a better quality of tenant, one who will stay for years and treat your property as if it were their own.

Oh by the way, if you know of anyone who is interest in hiring a property manager or in purchasing a property to use as a rental in Northern Colorado, we have the systems and the expertise to help them. We work in Fort Collins, Loveland and Greeley, so please call us for your property management needs.

Protect Your Tenants…and Yourself – Loveland Property Management Tips

If you own a rental property, there are many rules and regulations out there that protect your renters, protect your investment in that property and also protect you as a landlord. Many landlords are not aware that in 2009, the State of Colorado passed a law about carbon monoxide detectors. And those laws are very specific about where those detectors have to be so you can’t just go in and slap one up on a blank wall.
This law applies to any sales, rentals and remodels of single family and multi-family dwellings. Any dwelling units that have a fuel fired heater or appliance, a fireplace or an attached garage are required to have a detector. An operational carbon monoxide alarm must be installed with fifteen feet of the entrance to each room lawfully used for sleeping purposes. For a very small price, you can provide peace of mind and protection to your tenants and protect your assets.
If you missed hearing about this law, it might be time for you to consider hiring a property manager to take care of your property. The cost is minimal and one of our jobs is to remain updated on new laws such as this and make certain our owners are compliant.
Real Living 1st Choice Real Estate Services is small enough to give your property the personal attention it deserves while still being large enough to have the systems to make your life easier. For all of your Loveland Property Management needs, call 970-669-9696. We also cover property management in Fort Collins, Windsor, Longmont and Berthoud.  Keep watching our blog for more Loveland Property Management Tips!

Renter’s Insurance

When you are renting someone else’s house, do you ever think about renter’s insurance? Probably not, as most of us assume the property owner is carrying insurance to cover his property. But what about your personal possessions? What happens to your things if there is a flood, fire or theft?
Our lease specifically states that a renter must carry renter’s insurance. We have found that the cost for one year of renter’s insurance is minimal. So why wouldn’t you take this step?
Recently, the tenant above a unit we managed wandered off and left the bathtub running. It over flowed and leaked into the unit below, where our tenant lived. As water poured through the ceiling, our tenant did not realize that he had some electronic equipment that was getting wet. He had several thousand dollars of equipment ruined and expected the property owner or the tenant above him to pay the damages. That did not happen, and our tenant did not have renter’s insurance so the equipment was a total loss for him. You can also purchase a rider for renter’s insurance that covers displacement costs. Years ago, a unit had the sewer overflow and it took over a week to repair the damages and make the unit habitable again. That tenant was lucky enough to have the right renter’s insurance and that paid for a week in a hotel for them.
Protect yourself, protect your possessions and purchase renter’s insurance as soon as you move into your new rental. It’s worth every penny.
Oh By the Way, if you know of anyone who is interested in hiring a property manager or in purchasing a property to use as rental in Northern Colorado, we have the systems and the expertise to help them. We work in Fort Collins, Loveland and Greeley, so please call us for your property management needs.

Water Heater Regulations

Water heaters are not normally an engaging topic, but we need to warn our owners that the cost of a new water heater will be going up about 25%. We don’t have updated pricing just yet, so this information isn’t confirmed, but we do expect a large increase.
New water heaters under 50 gallons will be approximately 2 inches taller and 2 inches wider if manufactured after April of 2015. If your water heater is located in a tight spot, this could create some costly issues. Several years ago, we had a water heater behind a furnace and literally had to tear down the wall to get to the water heater. At the time, we expected that to be an isolated incident, but it could possibly become the norm to rearrange walls, especially in apartments and condos.
And why, do you ask? It is our understanding that this size change is needed to meet new efficiency standards put in place by the U.S. Department of Energy.
We will be exploring options and will do our very best to contain costs and present options if your property needs a new water heater. Taking care of the property is our first concern, but keeping the landlord’s costs in line is a close second.

Welcome!

Welcome to our new website and blog. We will be trying to blog on issues that affect owners and tenants and to use this format to pass on information we think might be helpful. If you have information you would like to see covered, don’t hesitate to email and we’ll be happy to have a discussion on specifics. Otherwise, we will just send out what we think might be of interest and hope for the best!
The rental market in Northern Colorado is still very strong, with record low vacancy rates. This means higher rents and tenants who stay for longer lease terms because they can’t find another property to move into. It also means we may need to inspect the property after the tenant is in place for over a year to make certain everything is still up to our standards.
Please call of email if you have any property management needs that we can assist with, including purchasing a property to rent or to live in.