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Property Management Blog

Published on Saturday, November 22, 2008

Best Practices in Property Maintenance

Keeping your property well maintained involves several tasks carried out routinely. Property maintenance includes everything from daily cleaning to upkeep on the air conditioning, electrical and plumbing. Maintenance may include redesign and refurbishing or building new structures. As manager of an investment, you can do some of the tasks yourself or hire a maintenance crew to do it.

Property maintenance is important in old and new buildings. Each year the manager should do a routine health check to help prevent future costly repairs. A neglected building leads to major problems. For example a gutter that has remained blocked leads to water getting into the building. The gutters are essential for carrying rainwater away from your building and must remain clear to do their job.

The roof is probably the most important part of your structure. A leaky roof can lead to all kinds of major problems, inside and out. Roof checks should be done regularly. Hard to reach roofs might need a professional contractor to inspect them for signs of disrepair. Shingles or tiles slip and need to be replaced quickly, as well as any holes. Animals and water both get in through these holes causing interior damage. Have the chimney checked for vulnerable areas and get the flues cleaned each fall before use.

Inspect your building walls routinely. Cracks in the stone walls need to be filled with mortar while siding should be replaced if damaged. The wood around doors and windows need to be checked for signs of decay. Repair and paint where needed. If you have mold and dirt buildup on your exterior walls, wood deck or concrete patio, use a power washer to clean. Routine cleaning of the exterior will go a long way in keeping property maintenance to a minimum.
Other areas that should be included in your routine care of a property include electrical, carpentry, cleaning, painting, tiling and the garden or patio area.

The electrical maintenance might include rewiring for added appliances, upgrading outdated wiring or installing the wiring for new lighting or electrical needs. The electrician should inspect existing wiring for breaks and to make sure that the electrical box and wires meet current codes.
Carpentry maintenance includes building new structures such as additional rooms or remodeling existing areas. The carpenter reviews the plans for the remodel, establishes a time frame for the work and estimates the material needed. They are experts in property maintenance .

Carpenters can be hired to build anything from a dog house to building a room addition.
Painting the interior is the simplest property maintenance project but gives instant results. You can transform your property with minimal work and time with paint. The surface being painted should be prepared properly for good results. Almost any surface can be painted, just follow a few rules. Check and replace loose caulk around window and door frames. Use a wire brush to clean surfaces of dirt and old paint that has become loose. Fill any small cracks with caulk. Allow the caulk to dry thoroughly before painting. Not preparing the surfaces properly can lead to blistering and peeling paint.

Whether you do the maintenance yourself or hire someone to do it for you, having the correct equipment beginning any type of maintenance is necessary. Protective gloves and eyewear are necessary. If working with a ladder having another person to help is a good safety precaution.
Routine property maintenance helps keep your building and its surroundings in top shape. Finding and quickly repairing small problems before they lead to costly repairs will save the owner time and money in the long term.

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Landlord Knowledge Base

If you’ve ever considered investing in a few rental properties in Philadelphia or Bucks County, PA now might be a good time. Prices are still low in Philadelphia, but have been on the upswing. According to the National Association of Realtors, the median price of an existing home in a US metropolitan area grew 13.7% between July 2012 and July 2013, the latest in a 17-month streak of year-over-year price increases. 

New landlords can choose from properties that are likely to appreciate and a large pool of potential renters.Licensed realtor Pat Mueller cites a few reasons for this trend: “Many families have lost their homes to foreclosure and are entering the rentals market for the first time in years. Mortgages are also harder to get now, so fewer people are qualifying for a new one.”The more skills you bring to the table to get into Houses for Rent in Philadelphia Philadelphia or Bucks County, PA and the more time you have to devote to your properties, the faster you can make a return on your investment. 

But investing in rentals can also be disastrous (or too stressful to be worthwhile) without expertise. Here are three professionals you may consult about your new rental properties, and what you can do to mitigate how much they cost you:Handyman:  You may need to hire a specialist for some work on your rental. If you need new outlets or new pipes, for example, hire an electrician, plumber or licensed contractor. Handymen usually tackle smaller, more manageable tasks, like:

  • Painting and paint removal
  • Drywall repair
  • Minor appliance repairs (fixing a leaky toilet or faucet, among others)
  • Installing tiling or flooring, moldings, windows, doors
  • Refinishing decks, cabinets and other wood items

When You Could Skip It: You could do any (or all) of these projects yourself if you have the time and interest in learning. Of course, this only works if you live relatively close to your rentals and are flexible enough to service them on short notice. And if you’re willing to respond to the occasional 5 AM basement flooding.

Average Savings: Any base rates or costs-per-hour vary from location to location in Philadelphia or Bucks County, PA , but nationally, you can expect to spend an average of $60 to $85 per hour for repair costs. It general costs less to hire an individual handyman than a handyman employed by a company. Expect an additional charge if your job requires a trip to the store for materials.

Resident Property Manager As the owner of a handful of rental properties, you may be able to manage them yourself, but if you want help, a single resident manager would probably be more cost efficient than a property management company. Resident managers may:

  • Serve as a handyman
  • Advertise vacancies in your units
  • Show apartments to prospective tenants
  • Review rental applications
  • Collect rents

When You Could Skip It: Again, the closer you live to your properties and the more spare time you have, the less likely you are to need a manager. The obligations of being a boss will also cut into the time you save on maintenance.

Average Savings: The national median wage for residential managers is just over $25 per hour. Research the wages in your community and adjust according to how much responsibility your manager will take on. 

Real Estate Agent: Once you’ve gotten your financials in order and done your own research on the neighborhood(s) you’re considering, you might contact a realtor to show you potential properties. You can also arrange for a realtor in Philadelphia or Bucks County, PA to show rentals once they’re ready to rent.

When You Could Skip It: It depends. Even if you’re a local, or have thoroughly researched the neighborhood(s) you’re considering, a realtor is a great resource for a first-time rental buyer. Realtors have access to data and statistics not necessarily available to the general public and first-time buyers may not know all the right questions to ask. Using a realtor to fill your Houses for Rent vacancies is less of a no-brainer, depending on your other time commitments or whether you plan to hire a resident manager who could do the same thing.

Average Savings: As a buyer of rental properties, as when buying your own home, sellers typically pay most, if not all, of the buyer’s realtor fees. In this case, Mueller points out there’s little reason not to work with a realtor. For help in filling your units in Philadelphia or Bucks County, PA, the services of a realtor would set you back between 10-20% of the unit’s rent per month.  Mueller recommends interviewing with several brokers before making your final decision to invest into Houses for Rent .

The Bottom Line: As a new landlord, you can’t necessarily control the flexibility of your schedule or the amount (and cost) of unexpected repairs to your properties. Rentals are a long-term investment. However, to maximize profits from your Houses for Rent, new rentals, you can buy close to home and start small. It is best to begin with just one or two properties. This will allow you to maximize the time you spend on your properties’ needs, and minimize the amount you’ll have to pay anyone else.

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