Tips for Maintaining Heating Units and Furnaces

Heating units and furnaces should be maintained to prolong their life and reduce energy consumption. With the heating season set to begin in fall, you need to schedule a regular maintenance check of your furnace by a HVAC specialist. The specialist will check your furnace and heating unit visually and clean blowers and other components.

The technician will inspect the furnace for signs of dust, debris, wear and tear of moving parts, heck the heat exchanger for rust and cracks, inspect the burners, and tighten the wires. The technician will check the furnace for minor issues and fix them before they develop into major ones. As debris and dirt can cause friction and damage vital components of the furnace, the technician will clean these parts. They will also lubricate the motor to ensure less friction and longer life for the motor.

You can also ask the technician who comes to check the furnace to inspect the ductwork. This will help spot leaks from cracks, holes, and gaps in the duct work. A properly sealed and insulated ductwork will deliver the heat to where it is required and reduce energy consumption. If heat is lost from the duct work, the unit will have to work more, consuming more energy and undergoing more wear and tear.

Changing Air Filters

While an annual inspection of the furnace by profession technicians will get it ready for the cooler months of the year, you need to change the filers at least once a month. A dirty filer can clog the airways and make the unit work harder. Apart from the greater energy consumption, blocked filers can also lead to uneven heating of rooms. Depending on the type of filter you are using, you need to either change them or wash them before reusing them.

Program the Thermostat

At the beginning of the heating season, program the thermostat to keep the home warm when you are in and cooler when you are away. This will help reduce energy bills without reducing your comfort.

Keep Vents Clear

Another way of ensuring optimal use of the furnace or heating unit is to ensure that the vents are not blocked by drapes, furniture, or other obstacles. Check all vents to ensure that free flow of air is possible.

Scheduling a furnace inspection before the heating season begins can help ensure that you stay warm throughout the fall and winter months without having to worry about unusually high energy bills or sudden breakdown of the heating system.

New Year’s Celebration: Ways to Spot an Impaired Driver

New Year’s definitely a time for celebration. We leave behind the old and make way for the new. New Year’s celebration is a time to drink, eat and be merry in the company of your loved ones and friends. Unfortunately, it is also the time when impaired drivers, who have been celebrating and bringing in the New Year’s also hit the road. Such drivers endanger themselves and others, both drivers and pedestrians.
So, take it upon yourself to spot an impaired driver during New Year’s and do your civic duty by informing authorities. You could be saving the driver’s life and someone else’s by doing this.

Tips to Spot a Drunk Driver

There are many ways to spot an impaired driver because they tend to drive erratically and never follow traffic rules. Here are some of the signs that the person sitting behind the wheel has had one too many drinks and is unfit to drive.

·      A drunk driver tends to straddle the lane marker or center lane while driving. This is because their vision and senses are completely addled and they believe driving in this manner will keep them safe.

·      Alcohol and illicit drugs impair your judgment abilities. A person who is impaired will not be able to gauge distances accurately. This is the reason he will almost strike another vehicle or object while driving in this condition.

·      Another sign of an impaired driver is taking extremely wide turns. Once again this is due to impaired judgment and the driver is unable to handle the wheel deftly in an inebriated state.

·      Driving on the wrong side of the road is a classic sign of an impaired driver. With their senses impaired, drunk drivers are unable to follow traffic rules and want to take the shortest route home and if this means driving on the wrong side of the road, so be it!

·      Weaving from one side to the other is another sign of a drunk driver. Since alcohol (illicit drugs) has impaired the person’s balance and stability, he will not be able to drive straight. This will him lurch the vehicle from one side to the other.

·      There are some impaired drivers, who know they are wrong to get behind the wheel in their state. These drivers take speed to a different level. No, we are not talking about speeding. Rather, they will go to the other extreme and drive very slowly, about 10 mph.

·      Erratic braking is another sign of a drunk driver. So beware. Such a driver will invariably stop at a green signal or crosswalk even if there are no pedestrians waiting to cross.

·      Impaired drivers forget the basic rules of driving. So, if you spot a vehicle without headlights, it could be a drunk driver.
What to do?
If you spot a drunk driver, don’t try and stop or overtake him. Instead, maintain a lot of distance between him and you, as you will never know what he will do. Such drivers tend to stop without a warning. Call the local authorities and report the driver to them. You will be doing yourself, other drivers, and the impaired driver a big service. If every person becomes responsible and reports drunk drivers, we will all be able to have a happy and fun New Year’s celebration!

3 Cast-Iron Strategies for Tenant Retention

3 Cast-Iron Strategies for Tenant Retention

Tenant retention is the key to maximizing net operating income. It’s plain to see why because on every occasion a tenant leaves there are a whole lot of additional expenses involved. You have to repaint and repair the premises, advertise them and in some cases offer free rent incentives. Add to that the revenue lost during the period the premises were vacant.

It’s precisely for this reason that tenant retention and lease renewal ranks high on the development strategies which property owners and managers of multi-family properties adopt as a cost-effective measure. This is not just when the going is good but always.

You can go online to find a basket of solutions for retaining tenants like gift cards, raffles, and providing free WiFi in common locations like the laundry area and so forth. These will always be appreciated as will amenities and friendly service, but sometimes the basic things are forgotten.

What is the real cause behind tenants moving out?

A study conducted in 2010 concluded that tenants opted out of renewing their leases for reasons which were within control. The vast majority of them made the decision because of poor customer service by way of unsatisfactory handling of maintenance requests and a lack of response to their concerns. Here are three cast-iron ways to help you improve your tenant renewal record.

Better Communication

                There is nothing a tenant would like better than to know that their concerns are being taken seriously by property managers and homeowners. Ongoing communication with tenants is crucial during their period of residence. Keep them informed of all events such as construction issues, or scheduled maintenance. This sends a signal to the tenant that you care. Tell them about your proposed plans for upgrades and improving amenities. Highlight the positives to give them a reason to renew their lease when it comes to an end.

Swift Maintenance and Follow-Up

Conduct a tenant satisfaction survey at regular intervals. It’s a fantastic tenant retention tool and helps with improvement planning as well. A survey will give you an insight into what your residents need to improve the quality of their lives. It also helps an owner or property manager identify projects which will benefit the tenants and by extension themselves. It is also another way to attain feedback on earlier projects how well they were received and how well they have delivered. A structured approach like this helps generate satisfaction, dedication to service, and intrinsic value all of which significantly counts toward lease renewal.

Update Your Website

Today we live in a world of information access at our fingertips. Most of your tenants would prefer to use the Internet to acquire updates on their issues. Most people today first try to resolve an issue on a company’s website before resorting to other avenues. When they are able to succeed they derive a sense of satisfaction. If residents are able to attain a status update on a maintenance issue they develop a sense of empowerment and a feeling of pleasure.

While property management is undoubtedly a service business, keeping a tenant satisfied and happy is the key to tenant renewal.

Setting the Bar Higher

No one is more aware of the significance of tenant satisfaction than Talley Properties of Charlotte, NC. This property management company has been providing excellence of service in and around the Charlotte area for over three decades now. When it comes to tenant service and satisfaction Talley Properties goes the extra mile and then some. This is why their lease renewal record is second to none.

5 Red Flags to Watch Out for When Choosing a Real Estate Agent

Many buyers and sellers do not give much thought to the real estate agent they choose. Finding a reliable and honest real estate agent is quite a challenge, especially since it is a competitive business. The right agent can be the person to help you sell your home quickly for a price that benefits you as well as the buyers.

They can also be the one who can help you get a fantastic new home for a special price. As you know, there are hundreds of thousands of real estate agents, so finding the ideal one can be a nightmare. However, by keeping an eye out for certain red flags, you can choose one that meets your requirements perfectly.

5 Important Real Estate Agent Red Flags to Look Out For

Here is a list of 5 red flags that you should be on the lookout for when you are in the process of choosing a real estate agent:

1.     The highest price is suggested for your home: If you are planning to sell your home, it is a smart move to get listing presentations from several real estate agents before you choose one. The agents should be able to give you data on the prices that comparable properties have been sold for and the approximate time it takes to sell a home. If your home is overpriced, it results in your home staying on the market for a long time and ultimately, you will have to sell it for less than you originally planned.

2.     The agent is a part-time real estate agent: There is nothing wrong with being a part-time real estate agent and there are many excellent ones out there. However, it is more likely that a full-time agent will follow the market on a daily basis. If you are a buyer, you should look for an agent who is able to jump to new listings and show them to you. For sellers, the agent they choose should always be available to show the home on sale to prospective buyers.

3.     The commission is low: In almost every transaction in the real estate business, the commission is between 5 and 7% which is divided between the buying and selling agent. When a commission is too low, it can drive away real estate agents as well as their clients. However, a lower omission can be negotiated if both the listing and selling is done by one agent. There are newer companies that rebate a percentage of the commission to the buyer or seller; but it is important that you do not use this as the main reason for choosing an agent.

4.     The agent is not familiar with your neighborhood: According to experts, real estate is a very local business. This is why it is important to choose an agent who knows the real estate landscape in the neighborhood you live in. A neighborhood expert is important, particularly in areas where moving one block can increase or lower a home’s value by as much as $100,000. Such an expert may also be in contact with sellers whose homes are not on the market yet or buyers who are looking for a property like yours.

5.     The agent does not specialize in your property type: When you are choosing the right real estate agent, you need to make sure that you pick one that specializes in the type of property you are looking for or selling. There are many agents that have multiple areas of specialty but when you choose an agent with one, you make sure that you have one who is well-versed in the type of transaction that you will be doing.

You do not have to go through a lot of trouble to find the right real estate agent. All you need to do is keep a few things in mind and it is certain that you will find one that can help you with any transaction you do. Whether you are buying or selling a home, the right agent is essential to your success so keep an eye out for the red flags.

Why Hire Talley Properties?

If you have a home for rent in and around Charlotte NC, there are a number of good reasons to hire a professional property management company. This is particularly so in the present period, when the housing market is in recovery in the aftermath of the economic meltdown. Rental prices are buoyant while home values remain cautious. But then again if you are going to hire a professional property management service, you need to hire the best. You want to make sure you obtain optimal returns from the investment in your rental home, and that it is well cared for.

Spectacular Depth and Experience

Talley Properties is an icon in Charlotte real estate with three decades of property management experience backing them. Operating out of Charlotte, the company manages properties in most of the large surrounding towns and cities including Belmont, Gastonia, Harrisburg, and Mount Holly to name a few. No property management company can do as much for you as Talley Properties. Click on to see how far afield the company has gone and where they operate. Their reach speaks for their expertise.

Basic Reasoning

There are several good and sparkling reasons for you to hire Talley Properties to manage your property investment, especially if you lack the time or expertise in the field. Day-to-day management of residential or commercial real estate can be taxing and challenging. Here’s how Talley Properties can benefit you:

§  Market your rental property so vacancies are minimized and income optimized. Talley Properties knows the local rental market, what the going rate is for comparable properties, and what tenants would be prepared to pay for your property. With its marketing skills Talley Properties can reach out to prospective renters and has a nose for bad renters.

§  Can maintain your property in peak condition at all times. They have the experience in handling and coordinating routine and also emergency repairs. They can identify and tackle a situation well in time before it becomes a major problem, saving you a sizeable chunk of change later.

§  Deal with rental agreements and negotiate the best prices.

§  Track tenant deposits and collecting rent.

§  Comply with local, state, and federal laws.

§  Respond promptly to tenant requests and handle problem, stubborn, and/or lazy tenants.

Steady Professional Service

Talley Properties is committed to providing you the best property management services at all times so you are relieved of the responsibility and assured of maximum returns on your apartment or home for rent.

Handling Rent Collection Effectively in Property Management

Collecting rent on time is one of the major responsibilities of property management, and arrears and late payments can seriously affect the cash flow and profit margin. Even when you have screened tenants thoroughly, there are marvelous chances they may not pay the rent on time for various reasons.

This can further complicate relationships with tenants and lead to several issues. However, most of the problems with rent collection can be avoided by having a reliable and convenient collection system, professional attitude, and setting down certain strict rules.

Convenient Rent Payment Options

On most properties, there is an automatic deduction system or ACH for withdrawing the rent money from the tenant's account directly. The tenant will sign an authorization document, which enables property management to withdraw a fixed amount on a recurring basis. This is the most convenient system; however, the tenant should make sure there is enough money in the account for the rent withdrawal to go through.

Other than automatic payment solutions, setting up an online payment portal is the next best option. Tenants have the convenience of making payments from anywhere and at any time of the day or night, before the due date. Secondly, updating accounts becomes much easier and tenants can receive their payment confirmation in a flash.

Do not Accept Cash

Implement a strict no-cash policy for rent payments, since cash is easily “lost”, and there is the risk of staff committing fraud which falls under the “lost” category. Secondly, it is very difficult to keep a paper trail on cash transactions, and in many cases, tenants who are involved in illegal activities mainly prefer to pay in cash. Therefore, by having a no-cash policy, you can eliminate several risks.

Spell Out the Policy for Rent Collection in the Lease

It is important to have a strict rent collection policy and the best way to inform tenants about this, is in their lease. The lease document should clearly state:

The exact amount due as rent each month

The last date for paying rent each month, and grace period if any

The various options for making a rent payment

Penalties for late rent payment and bounced checks

Consequences of repeated late payments or non-payment


Apart from mentioning these details in the lease document, the property manager can also inform new tenants directly about rent collection policy.

When to Cut Slack and When to be Strict

This is a tricky decision for property management, and cutting a renter some slack can sometimes backfire. Tenants are likely to fall on hard times; however, feeling sorry and not charging a late fee on a regular basis is just not prudent.

If it is a stellar tenant and he seems to have slipped up just this once, then cutting them some slack could be a long term smart move for you to make. But it should not be the norm and if it is crossing that boundary, then you should warn this person that cutting ties with them is not out of the question. Under no circumstances should you compromise and enable tenants to take advantage of you.

Adhere to the Law

Follow the legalities and rules while taking punitive measures in case of the non-payment of rent. It should never be a protracted battle. If someone is late on their rent payment and not listening to the increasing fines that are being levied on them for every passing day, then you need to evict them. You should only want to be around responsible people.

Points Property Management should Consider while Determining Rent Prices

Pinpointing the right rent price for a property is often a challenging task for property management. Charging the right dollar amount is not only important for maximizing profits but also for keeping vacancy rates as low as possible.

If the returns are not appealing or the retention rates are falling, then it is time for property management to review their pricing policies and make the required changes to get back on the road to success. Here are certain important points that can help a property manager make the right decision about the rent they should be charging.

Flexible Approach

Economic conditions in the area or country affect rental rates largely. However, apart from these conditions, trends, commercial development, and changes in inventory also drive price fluctuations. Therefore, having a flexible approach to rent structure is a better approach for property management, where the rent is adjusted responding to local developments and market or economic conditions.

Such an approach may not be possible when you are targeting specific tenant categories such as the highest earners or the Section 8 crowd. However, separate tiers can be laid down for the three main income groups of low, middle, and upper.

Aligning Profit Expectation and Tenant Expectation

According to a recent survey, about two out of ten tenants feel that they are being overcharged for the amenities and services they are receiving on the property. This can be easily remedied by upgrading amenities, engaging in renovations, and improving maintenance and repair services. A fresh coat of paint or change of carpets could make all the difference to tenants.

If that does not work then property management can consider upgrading amenities and/or making serious renovations. Or lower their revenue expectations and the price they charge for rent.

However, before making a noteworthy investment it would be a prudent idea to check out the competition in the area. Visit other properties and see what they have to offer from the point of view of what a regular tenant would expect. This could provide fabulous insights into the changes that may be required on your property. Hence, it is important to align profit expectation with tenant expectations, especially when property management is considering a sizeable increase in rent.

Estimating Tenant Tolerance Levels to Rent Increase

High vacancy rates can quickly diminish return on investment (ROI). However, reducing the rent is also going to have the same effect, especially when the vacancy rate is 10% or more. At the same time, vacancies over a long term can reduce profit margins and reputation of the property drastically. This is one of the worst scenarios, and property management will have to be highly creative.

First, property manager will need to keep a close watch on the pulse of the market, the rental rates in the area on similar properties, and the outcome or progress of any promotional campaigns that have been initiated. Therefore, reporting can be a powerful tool in the hands of a capable property manager. The manager will have to keep track of online reviews and comments on social media about the property and competition, and evaluate the possibilities of a rent increase or a decrease. Or continuing with the status quo (the same rent price).  

Should Property Management Make Renter’s Insurance Mandatory

While property management and property owners know the value of property coverage, there are very few properties that make renter’s insurance a mandatory requirement for a tenant. Even the ones who stipulate coverage do not have a standard policy for all their properties.

It would be simply unwise to risk losses due to fire, floods, strong winds, and other events that are not categorized under acts of God. Secondly, recovering the loss from tenants who do not have a policy is almost impossible, with current data showing 1:50 odds in collecting these types of liens.

If you are one of the few who is not concerned about renter’s insurance, here are some profound reasons why you should make it compulsory.

Reducing Exposure to Risks

Standards for insurance differ between states and there is good chance your property owner’s insurance will not fully cover you from liability. Certain renter’s insurance even covers medical expenses when a guest or resident is injured on the property. Property managers who might be living on the property could presume their homeowner’s policy would be adequate, however, in most instances it is not, and you need an additional policy.

Most leases hold tenants responsible for any damage they cause to their units, irrespective of having coverage or not. However, the real question is whether it is possible for property management to collect based on the lease deed. In most cases, it is almost impossible for property management to collect because tenants hardly have any balance in their bank accounts. Well, who really does? This ongoing recession has not helped any in this regard either.

Installment plans are not practical, especially the ones that are going to exceed the term of the lease, which they often do. Property management can obtain a lien if the tenant suddenly vacates the property, but odds of collecting are extremely small.

Reducing Operating Expenses

The purpose of renter’s insurance is for providing protection against losses due to accidents. Losses can mean many things, apart from repairs to the structure or replacing appliances after a fire. For instance, who will bear the loss of rent when the resident has to relocate temporarily during the repairs? There is also the cost of temporary storage of the tenant's personal property during this relocation.

Moreover, when there is not any insurance, how much will property management will have to spend on legal fees for defending their lien claim? The best solution is renter’s insurance, which protects the tenants and property management or property owners.

Cost of Coverage is not Much

Insurance costs money and property management might have to find an adequate policy that is affordable. However, it is not difficult, as many insurance providers have comprehensive policies that provide protection to all stakeholders. Whether property management pays for the coverage and adds it to the rent, or makes coverage mandatory for residents, it is a matter of policy and strategy.

Some property management companies even agree to pay a part of the coverage cost, but most pass it on to the resident. However, the cost of such policies is nothing significant, and most tenants will not mind paying the cost when they consider the risk coverage or what they get in return.

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