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Tips for a Successful and Stress-Free Moving Day

 

With all of the packing and organizing that accompanies a move, there are bound to be a few details that get overlooked in the process. The experts at Relocation.com put together the following checklist of items that need to be taken care of before, during and after the move to ensure that you and your stuff arrive safely at your new home.

Stree-free moving day

Before the movers arrive:

-Double check each room to be sure everything is packed and ready to be moved. Be sure to check closets, cupboards, attics and basements as it is very easy to overlook these places when packing.

-Make sure the items you will move are set apart from the items to be moved by the movers. If possible, move these items into the car or to the neighbor’s house before the movers even arrive.

-Make sure you have your own personal bag packed and set aside before the movers arrive. You should have whatever items you need during the move and for a few days after the move, just in case the moving van is delayed.

-Get rid of any clutter that could get in the way of movers.

-If you have children, get someone to watch them so they don’t get hurt, or set aside a room where they can stay during the move.

-Put your pets in a room where they will not be in the way of the loading process; better yet, have someone watch them, or board them.

-Make sure there’s plenty of parking space for the moving van.

-Make sure you know how the moving company wants to be paid-get this ready prior to the move day. It’s often cash on delivery, but many companies will take a credit card. Most moving companies expect to paid right after the job is completed.

When the mover arrives:

-Review all paperwork and details with the crew chief-you will be presented with a bill of lading, which sets forth all the conditions of your move.

-Accompany the driver as he inspects each piece of furniture and prepares an inventory sheet. There will be a detailed description of your goods at the time of loading. Make sure you agree with the mover’s assessment of the furniture’s condition in case you need to file a damage claim later.

-Provide all other phone numbers where you can be reached while shipment is in transit. Make sure you have the crew chief’s name and telephone number as well and make sure the movers have the exact address of your new home.

-Establish a solid, friendly relationship with your movers from the beginning.

-Have water or cold drinks available for the crew, and maybe some food.

-Be available to assist the crew with any questions they have. If you will not be available during the move, arrange for someone else to make decisions in your absence. Leave them detailed notes about anything you want them to remember. This individual may be required to sign documents obligating you to charges, so give them a number they can reach you at and notify the moving company of your replacement.

-Most importantly, relax and let the professionals do their job.

Closing up your old home:

-Recheck all closets, cabinets, storage areas, drawers and the basement and attic to ensure everything’s been loaded onto the van.

-Throw out all garbage.

-Lock windows and doors, shut off faucets, set thermostats and turn off all lights.

-Leave any keys or garage door openers for the new owners.

-Leave your forwarding address and phone number with a neighbor in case you need to be reached.

At your new home:

-Label the rooms so the movers know which is which, and provide floor schematics so they know where to place furniture and other large items.

-Use the mover’s inventory-prepared by the mover when they loaded your items-to check off the items as they are unloaded from the moving van.

Once everything is unloaded:

-You will be asked to sign the inventory sheets and bill of lading. Check these documents closely; don’t sign until you’re sure you have everything.

-Unpack the kids’ room and the kitchen first-you want to make your kids feel settled in their rooms. Because the kitchen is a central part of many peoples’ lives, it’s good to have this area up and running.

-Set up your beds relatively early; you’ll be tired, and sleeping on the floor is not a good way to celebrate the first night in your new home.

-Take it easy, meal-wise, on move-in day. Prepare something beforehand that will be ready to eat; better yet, pick up something to-go.

-Celebrate your new home.

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A Preventive Maintenance Checklist for Savvy Homeowners and Landlords

It’s one thing to examine your property with an eye toward pleasing your guests, but smart second homeowners realize the value of regular preventive maintenance as well.

Even if your guests don’t notice, say, a leaky roof, it’s likely to cause bigger, more expensive problems down the road. After you’ve done your end-of-season audit, plan a second working weekend aimed at protecting your investment. Based on the “stitch in time saves nine” theory, Christine Karpinski, director of Owner Community for HomeAway.com and offers the following recommendations to protect your investment:

preventive home maintenance

Home Exterior

  • Remove leaves and debris from gutters and downspouts.
  • Pressure-wash wood siding to prevent mold.
  • Check the exterior paint for bare spots.
  • Inspect and replace exterior caulk.
  • Check window and door sills for leaks and caulk where necessary.
  • Clean air conditioning unit.
  • Check the foundation.
  • Trim trees and bushes.
  • Check the sprinkler system.
  • Check all decks for loose boards, railings, and stairs.
  • Inspect the condition of the roof.
  • Check window screens.
  • Check fences and gates.
  • Check the automatic garage door opener.
  • Examine the septic system for flooding or unusual odor.
  • Check the latches on storm windows.
  • Inspect the grading around the house to make sure water drains away from the house on all sides.
  • Check outside walls for termite tubes and damaged wood.

Kitchen

  • Clean and seal tile and grout.
  • Check and fix leaky faucets.

Bathroom

  • Clean and seal tile and grout.
  • Make sure all toilets are properly secured to the floor.
  • Check and fix leaky faucets and toilets.

Attic

  • Check the attic for signs of moisture (i.e., water stains on the underside of the roof sheathing).
  • Check all wooden materials for mildew and rot.
  • Look for indications of a pest infestation.

Miscellaneous Interior

    • Clean out ashes from the fireplace.
    • Replace the batteries in your smoke detectors.
    • Replace batteries in clocks.
    • Clean furnace ducts.
    • Change furnace filters.
    • Check the main electrical panel for rust and/or watermarks.
    • Test circuit breakers.
    • Inspect fire extinguisher.
    • Check walls for condensation and mildew.
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Protect Yourself and Your Rental This Season from a Holiday Burglary

‘Tis the season to enjoy the company of family, friends and loved-ones. It’s also the season of exchanging gifts-going out to get those special gifts for spouses, children and grand-children and receiving “that special something” you’ve been eyeing for some time.

Since many residential burglaries occur as crimes of opportunity-meaning they typically are committed without a great deal of planning-doing a few additional things to make your home a harder target to burglarize can make all the difference.

Here are a few tips to reduce the possibility of becoming a victim of a holiday crime

1. Be sure to securely lock all doors and windows when no one is home. Many burglaries occur each year through entryways that were left open or unlocked.  

2. Don’t advertise your holiday trips and outings on social media, like Facebook or Instagram.  Many insurance companies now check social media for posts like that and will likely deny your insurance claim.

3. During this time of year, many people like to display their holiday decorations for all to see. While these are wonderful showcases to admire, it should be understood that piles of wrapped gifts on view also provide would-be thieves with enticing objects to consider.  

4. We all love Amazon Prime, but leaving your purchase boxes at the front door for all to see may not be a good idea.  Instruct Amazon delivery to leave the boxes on the back porch or deck.

4. If you will be away from your home for a few hours, take advantage of timers, not only to manage your holiday lighting, but to manage other lights or things like televisions or radios in your home, to make it seem as if someone is home.

5. If you will be away from home for a few days or more, ask a neighbor or a friend to watch your home, shovel your snow and park in the driveway from time to time. Also, remember to have mail and newspaper delivery stopped or have a neighbor pick it up daily. Piled up mail and newspapers are a give-away to opportunistic thieves that no one is home

6. While it’s always a good idea to keep an updated inventory list of all of your possessions, special gifts received during this time of year should be added to the list. Take photos or make videos of items, and list descriptions and serial numbers. If your home is burglarized, having a detailed inventory can help identify stolen items and make insurance claims easier to file.

7. Be sure to forward this article to your renters and remind them to do the same.

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Renter’s Insurance is Here!

We’re excited to announce that renters insurance is now available to all our renters! All Virtual Rent residents will now have the option to easily purchase a policy directly through their online portal.


Get peace of mind knowing that you and your renters are covered. Renters insurance covers your tenant’s personal property if it is damaged or stolen and all policies automatically include $100,000 in liability to landlord coverage for the unit. Upon purchasing a policy, tenants will see their policy number in the portal as well as helpful information and contact details for Renters Insurance. Policies are provided by Roost Renters Insurance in 3 levels of coverage options.

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America Weighs in: Don’t Pay Down Your Debt, Pay it OFF!

January is famous for its resolutions, many of which often revolve around creating a better financial picture for ourselves. Often the top financial resolutions are “save more, spend less”  and “pay off debt”.  These are important goals considering the burden of debt, such as the $1.3 trillion student loan debt (source: StudentLoanHero.com) and the $747 billion consumer credit card debt (NerdWallet).

 

pay off debt, save more

So, how can you finally save more, spend less, pay off debt and get wealthy? Here are some suggestions:

    • Start by creating a zero-based budget.  Account for every dollar in your monthly budget to the last penny.
    • Look for savings on the necessities: bundle your car, home and life insurance. Many companies offer steep discounts for package deals. 
    • Evaluate your wants: cut the cable and internet. Do you really need 500 channels and the highest speed internet? Perhaps not.
    • Minimize: clean up your closet, bookshelves and storage by selling or donating items.
    • Shop smart: consider refurbished electronics, which work just as well as brand-new models and are generally offered at a reduced price.  Look for coupons on everyday items, like groceries and household good.
    • Don’t forget to negotiate. Don’t assume the sticker price is set in stone, especially when it comes to large furniture or electronic purchases, so try bargaining before buying.
    • Throw all extra cash in your monthly budget on your debt.  Get rid of those pesky car loans, student loans and credit cards once and for all.
    • After paying off your debt, build an emergency fund equal to 3-6 months of living expenses.
    • Start investing for your retirement and let that compound interest work for you!
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Avert Five biggest home, flood and renters insurance mistakes while saving money.

 

Home insurance

Home insurance

Here are the five biggest mistakes homeowners make when it comes to insuring their homes.

1.Insuring a home for its real estate value rather than for the cost of rebuilding.

When real estate prices go down, some homeowners may think they can reduce the amount of insurance on their home. But insurance is designed to cover the cost of rebuilding, not the sales price of the home. You should make sure that you have enough coverage to completely rebuild your home and replace your belongings. A better way to save: Raise your deductible. An increase from $500 to $1,000 could save up to 25% on your premium payments.

2.Selecting an insurance company by price alone.

It is important to choose a company with competitive prices, but also one that is financially sound and provides good customer service. A better way to save: Check the financial health of a company with independent rating agencies and ask friends and family for recommendations. You should select an insurance company that will respond to your needs and handle claims fairly and efficiently.

3.Dropping flood insurance.

Damage from flooding is not covered under standard homeowners and renters insurance policies. Coverage is available from the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), as well as from some private insurance companies. Many homeowners are unaware they are at risk for flooding, but in fact 25% of all flood losses occur in low risk areas. With the significant snow fall this winter, spring related flooding may be particularly severe, thus increasing the importance of purchasing flood insurance. A better way to save: Before purchasing a home, check with the NFIP to determine whether the property is situated in a flood zone; if so, consider a less risky area. If you are already living in a designated flood zone, look at mitigation efforts that can reduce your risk of flood damage and consider purchasing flood insurance.

4.Only purchasing the minimal amount of liability protection.

In today’s litigious society, buying only the minimum amount of liability means you are likely to pay more out-of-pocket if you are sued-and those costs may be steep. A better way to save: Consider an umbrella policy. While it is not the cheapest option, your peace of mind may be worth the price.

5.Neglecting to buy renters insurance.

A renters insurance policy covers your possessions and additional living expenses if you have to move out due to an insured disaster, such as a fire or hurricane. Equally important, it provides liability protection in the event someone is injured in your home and decides to sue. A better way to save: Look into multi-policy discounts. Buying several policies with the same insurer, such as renters, auto and life will generally provide savings.

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Increase Rent While Keeping Your Best Tenants: Tips and Strategies

At Virtual Rent, we understand that good, long-term tenants are hard to come by.  As a landlord or property manager, you want to reduce turnover costs while maximizing rent.  There is a lot to consider when you increase rent on your tenants.  The last thing you want is good tenants leaving the property in favor of a lower priced rental. Here are a few tips to consider before you send the rent increase notice.

How to send a increase rent while keeping your renters

  1. To increase rent, keep in mind the rental price point. 

    Our FREE RentMatch Comparison report allows you to understand your rental market trends based on actual rental units rented in your area. Regular review of the RentMatch Comparison report can answer key questions like “Am I charging too much? Too little? Are the rental prices trending up or down?  What is my perfect price point for this leasing period?”   We offer our RentMatch Comparison reports for free as a part of our service.  We will provide you with this report at the start of our service and at least annually for your convenience.  We can also provide you the RentMatch Comparison report upon your request for you to keep an eye on the trends as they are occurring.  Rent comparison is extremely important to your long-term profitability, but compiling one yourself can be time-consuming and incomplete. Once you’ve determined your Perfect Price Point, it’s time to put together a Plan of Action

  2. Project your upcoming operating costs.  If your operating costs have increased significantly, raising the rental rate of your property can help offset those costs. Calculating the percentage increase of your costs will make it easier to explain to your current tenants why you must increase rent.
  3. Be legal.  In most cases, state rental law and/or your lease agreement will dictate both when and how to communicate a rent increase.  Check with your state Landlord Tenant Act laws and your lease agreement to determine the amount of notice you need to give.  In many jurisdictions, 30 days’ notice is the minimum requirement.  Keep in mind the tenant rights when you decide on the rent increase.
  4. Reach out to your tenant at least 90 days before the lease is up to let them know that you plan to increase the rent if the lease is renewed. This gives your tenants the opportunity to adjust their budget and prepare for the increase.  If he or she doesn’t plan to renew the lease, you will have time to start marketing and showing your rental to minimize the vacancy.
  5. Put the information in an official written notice to the tenant that includes the new rental amount and the date it becomes effective. Send the official notice of rent increase to the tenant via certified mail, or hand-deliver it to the tenants at the rental property. Call your renters to deliver the news the same day you mail the written notice. Be friendly, professional, and polite but firm.
  6. Keep a copy of the rent increase notice for your records.  As a courtesy, send the tenant a follow-up email, letter or phone message reminding them of the new rent right before it is due.
  7. Humanize the rent increase. In all your communications with tenants be professional, friendly, and firm.
  8. Build trust and human connection.  Improve the value of your property by making some upgrades.  Ask your tenants what upgrades they’d like to see.

If raising the rents is uncomfortable for you at first, remember you are not your tenants’ adversary. You are a service provider, and the tenants are your customers.  You always should work with them in a friendly and professional way, while still enforcing the rules and defending your boundaries.

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Why Landlords Should Keep Their Renters Happy?

Q: What can landlords do to keep their renters happy?
A: With the rental market at its peak time of the year, landlords are busier than ever trying to find that “perfect” tenant to fill their vacancies. After the lease gets signed, they often think they’re done with the hard work; however, retaining good tenants can be more challenging than finding the perfect tenant.  Vacant rental units and the associated turnover costs are not costs you want to incur. In fact, it’s much more cost effective to hold on to your “perfect” tenant by keeping them happy and satisfied.

keep renters happy

Here are some important tips to keep your tenants happy:

Keep up with property maintenance and do regular inspections.

Nothing makes a tenant more unhappy than when maintenance on the property is not being performed and inspections are being neglected. As a landlord, you’ll want to do regular inspections to make sure your rental is up to code, everything is in working order and your property has met all safety inspections.

You’ll also want to perform preventative maintenance to keep your rental in the best shape possible and avoid expensive repairs and unhappy tenants. When performing maintenance, consider using quality materials and appliances instead of just the basic ones. Tenants are more likely to pay a higher rent if they feel it’s a high-quality property that’s well maintained.

Make repairs promptly and take care of complaints in a timely manner.

Always address problems and complaints quickly, or let the tenant know you got the message and will take care of it soon. Tenants can become very impatient, frustrated and angry when you don’t respond in a timely manner.

When a tenant reports a repair, arrange a time to inspect the damage. If the repair is urgent (for example, if the heat isn’t working), schedule the repair immediately. If the problem isn’t an emergency, set up a convenient time to get the problem fixed.

Respect your tenant’s privacy.

If you need to access a tenant’s unit for one reason or another, give them plenty of advance notice. Tenants like their privacy, so respect it. Don’t think that because you own the property you can enter unannounced.

Several states have laws with regard to tenant privacy and require that you give a tenant proper notice before you enter. Most states require at least 24-hours notice.

Be professional and considerate.

Being a considerate landlord usually results in happy tenants. Make sure you remain professional and treat all of your tenants fairly and equally.

Whatever the problem, try to be compassionate when dealing with your tenants, especially the ones you want to keep. If you try to understand their point of view, they will remember that and will be more likely to renew their lease. If you are too strict, they might start looking for a new place.

Show your appreciation and keep the lines of communication open.

Let your tenants know you appreciate them. Offering small upgrades (new appliances or carpet) when tenants renew their lease can go a long way in keeping your tenants happy.

In addition, keeping the lines of communication open is key to keeping your tenants happy and showing them that you care. It’s a good idea to send out reminders about rules and regulations such as how a tenant can file a complaint, your maintenance responsibilities and rules with regard to weight limits for pets.

Be reasonable with rent increases.

Offering tenants a fair rent that’s not above the market rate might keep your tenant from moving and saving you thousands of dollars in turnover costs.  When you have “perfect” tenants, you want to do everything you can to keep them. Screening potential tenants is a great start, but after they move in, treat good tenants as you would want to be treated.

10 TIPS FOR BUYING AND MANAGING A RENTAL PROPERTY

Sitting back while collecting monthly rent sounds appealing to most of us.  However, there are some important things to consider before you make a plunge into owning and managing a rental property.  Here is a list of things to consider before making the move.

Mature handsome man websurfing on tablet at home

 

1. Location, location, location. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again. Invest in the best location you can afford. It will determine the kind of tenants you will attract, and how much rent you can charge.  Consider the proximity to business centers, military bases, schools and recreation before choosing a location for your rental. 

2. Decide on whether to hire a professional Property Manager.  There are many options for property management solutions on the market today.  You don’t have to hire a full-service property manager if all you need is rent collection, 24/7 emergency notification and maintenance coordination.  Look for a property manager you can build a rapport with and develop a transparent professional relationship. 

3. Think long term. For most small investors, long-term ownership makes the most sense. You’ll have plenty of time to ride out any swings in the market, and your rental income will be a nice supplement to your day job. Historically, real estate has been an excellent investment, always appreciating a few points over the rate of inflation.

4. Have down payment cash on hand. These days, buying a non-owner occupied property requires at least 25-30% down. 

5. Don’t go overboard when you’re fixing up your new rental. You don’t necessarily need granite countertops and stainless steel appliances. After all, you’re going to get some reasonable wear and tear when the tenants move out. Most renters are happy with units that are light, bright and clean.

6. Calculate the cost of ownership. This includes all the expenses of owning and managing an investment property, not just mortgage payments. Common expenses include property taxes, insurance, utilities, maintenance, vacancies, and repairs. A rule of thumb is to set aside about 10% to 15% of monthly rent for property expenses.

7. Have a list of trusted contractors to maintain your property. Start collecting recommendations for electricians, plumbers, painters, and contractors.  You will need them sooner or later.

8. Always screen your tenants. Run a credit report, a criminal check and call old landlords and supervisors. Ask if they paid the rent on time, what condition the property was when they left, and if they caused any problems with the neighbors. 

9. Read up on your rights and obligations as a landlord. Learn about the eviction process and other potential issues so you can do things right, saving time and money.

10. Enjoy the advantages of your investment property. When managed correctly, investment properties are a great source of a passive income. Take advantage of amazing tax benefits to make your investment worthwhile.

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TEN WAYS TO GET YOUR SECURITY DEPOSIT BACK!

Moving out of a rental home or apartment often unveils inevitable wear-and-tear from living in the space. What can be even more challenging is restoring the rental to its original condition in order to get your security deposit.

How to get your security deposit back

There are several steps you can take on your own to ensure you get all or most of your security deposit.

1. Contact your landlord or property manager to perform a pre-move out inspection. There is often a nominal fee associated with it, but it’s well worth it. Your property manager should be able to tell you what actions to take to get you deposit back.

2. Patch small holes and cracks with spackle or putty to ensure a smooth finish and paint them with the existing color.

3. Tackle scuff marks and wall stains without sprays or cleaners by using an erasing pad and water to gently buff away dirt and residue.

4. Lift carpet stains by creating a homemade cleaner using dishwashing liquid, white vinegar, water and baking soda.

5. Fill mild scratches and hide blemishes on laminate countertops by using color-matched repair pens.

6. Get rid of tough stains on kitchen surfaces with nail polish remover on a clean white rag and gently scrub surfaces (be sure to test a small area before taking on the entire surface).

7. Clean garbage disposal and freshen the drain.

8. Get fresh air moving and circulating through the space by opening windows before the final move out inspection.

9. Stick around for the move-out inspection and confirm with the property manager or landlord when you can expect to receive your security deposit.

10. Leave on good terms with the property manager and landlord by taking out trash and leaving the space as clean as possible once all your belongings are packed away.

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