Summer Energy Savings: Hot Tips To Keep Cool

Summer and the high temperatures it brings increase energy usage.  Here are some tips on how to save energy in the summer:


Phantom Load is the amount of electricity that is being drained by equipment when off or in standby mode.  Homes have more than 20 phantom loads that can add up to $200 to your electricity bill each year.  Nationally, phantom loads make up about 6% of our energy consumption.  Any device with a clock display, remote control, or instant on capability may be consuming power constantly.

Tip:  Place all devices on a power strip that can easily be switched off.

Clean your A/C filter monthly.  A dirty filter slows down air flow and makes your system use more energy.  A clean filter can prevent dust and dirt from building up, which could lead to repairs or system failure.

  • Use fans, windows, and dehumidifiers use less energy than air conditioners.

Porous Ducts are often the biggest money waster.  Properly maintained ducts can save owners 25% on air conditioning expenses.  Focus first on sealing ducts that run through the attic, crawlspace, unheated basement, or garage. Use duct sealant (mastic) or metal-backed (foil) tape to seal the seams and connections of ducts. After sealing the ducts in those spaces, wrap them in insulation to keep them from getting hot in the summer or cold in the winter.

Lowering the thermostat on your water heater to 120 degrees can save you about $7 per month according to the US Department of Energy.

  • Consider replacing your water heater is if it more than 10 years old. This could increase the efficiency by 10% more.
  • Insulate hot and cold water pipes within five feet of the water heater.

Set your thermostat wisely.  When you get home after a long day at work, your instinct may be to crank up the AC and turn your house into an ice kingdom.  But, making small changes to the way you use your thermostat can go a very long way in saving energy:  each degree of adjustment has an estimated 3-5% impact on your monthly cooling costs.

Low Cost Energy Saving Options

• Wrap your water heater with an insulating blanket, especially if it is older than 10 years.
• Seal your home’s leaks around windows and doors with weather stripping and caulk.
• Keep the AC fan switch set to “auto” and save up to $25 a month versus leaving it set to “on” continuously as many people do.
• Turn off unnecessary lights, and use energy-efficient light bulbs that use less electricity and emit less heat.

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Apartment Occupancies Hits Record High

Apartments are filling up nationwide. The national occupancy rate in May reached 95.3 percent, the highest ever, reports Axiometrics, a real estate analytics firm.

“The May rate historically is the start of each year’s occupancy peak, meaning occupancy should remain at the current level or higher,” says Stephanie McCleskey, Axiometrics’ vice president of research.

Higher occupancy rates have come with higher rents. In May, rents rose 5 percent nationally, making it the fourth consecutive month at or above that mark. “Owners and investors are having a profitable start to the year,” McCleskey says.

“Rent growth is increasing in previously challenged markets in the East and Midwest, such as Chicago, St. Louis, Philadelphia, Kansas City, Baltimore and even Detroit,” noted McCleskey.

Apartment demand has been high from millennials who are forming their own households as well as baby boomers looking to downsize, CNBC reports.

Laurie Goodman, director of the housing finance policy center at the Urban Institute, recently published a paper claiming that the rental surge will only get bigger. Goodman predicts that out of the 22 million households formed in the next 20 years, 13 million will be renters. “We are nowhere near building enough to meet demand,”  Goodman says.

Some investors thought apartment demand would abate as the housing market recovered. Just the opposite is happening. Demand is coming from both ends of the age scale. Millennials, finally finding jobs and moving out of group or family homes, are pushing rental demand; downsizing baby boomers, many of them soured on homeownership by losses from the housing crash, are doing the same.

“The Great Recession lowered the home ownership rate, and it’s just so hard to get a footing from here, so you are sort of starting from a diminished base, particularly for younger people, but for all age groups,” said  Goodman.

Rising rents are continuing to put a strain on U.S. households, making up a far larger monthly share of expenses. While multifamily construction last year soared to the highest level since 1989, the timeline for these buildings is longer than for a single-family home, and the rental population is growing ever faster.

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Skills You Want Your Property Manager to Have

We recently started seeking a new property manager at Paladino Development Group, throughout our search we have brainstormed on the necessary skill set we are looking for. Finding the right rental property manager is a big deal. After all, these people are going to be your eyes, ears, hands and feet on the street.   Here are a few tips on what to look for when you are seeking someone to manage your property:

Communication.  One of the biggest complaints I hear from other investors who own multiple properties is the lack of communication from their property manager.  When you are interviewing the property manager, call the office and see how easy it is to get a live person.  If you get a voicemail, your call should be returned or acknowledged in a reasonable amount of time.

Experience.  Your best bet is to find a PM that is well established and professional that is able to make smart decisions for you.  Someone who is new to the game could easily make a mistake that costs you money.  For example, an inexperienced manager could end up calling in professionals for a minor maintenance issue that could have been fixed by a handyman.  These seemingly insignificant errors can quickly add up.

Efficiency.  If something at one of your properties breaks, you’ll want to ensure that it is swiftly taken care of to reduce of the risk of the problem getting worse.  As the property manager will be the person conducting inspections at your rental property, they will need to have a keen eye for detail.  A good property manager should be able to pick up on issues and deal with them as they arise.

Social Skills.  A property manager must be able to deal with people.  You have to maintain your composure and be a trusted advocate, both for your coworkers and for your clients and tenants.  Turning a negative into a positive requires great people skills.  If people feel they can trust a property manager and have their concerns addressed, they will more likely become long term tenants.  It is also important to be a good negotiator, which is beneficial when dealing with angry tenants.

Professionalism.  Property managers must maitnain a certain level of professionalism when dealing with tenants, clients, vendors, etc.  They must be able to separate their emotions from business decisions and treat everyone impartially.  Doing what is right, while being firm and friendly- especially when dealing with sensitive business matters is a daily task.  Property managers must be dependable, responsible, patient, and calm under

Organization.  It is vital that property managers don’t multitask, but rather prioritize the items on the to do list.  Therefore, managers must be well organized, so they can remain focused and accomplish the important issues.  Without organization, something could fall through the cracks.

If you are currently searching for a property manager, or are unhappy with your current property manager- feel free to contact me to explore your options.

 

 

 

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Why Real Estate Investors Should Advocate Sustainable Real Estate

Sustainable and responsible investors have been, and continue to be, a force for positive change.  Sustainable real estate touches on the development, use, management, refurbishment, and demolition of buildings, how materials are sourced, energy use, and the contribution that buildings make to local communities.   In short, sustainable development and design makes sense.  Here are some tips to help you better understand how sustainable buildings can benefit you:

Reduced Liability.  Sustainable design creates a healthy environment for occupants, offsetting a trend toward increased insurance claims related to poor air quality and sick building syndrome.  Improving air filtration and ventilation, and carefully selecting materials creates a healthier environment.

Financial Value.  Sustainable development delivers financial returns and market performance for tenants, owners, and investors.  The benefits of sustainable buildings are seen through increased asset value, lower maintenance costs, and superior attraction of quality tenants.  Innovative construction materials and techniques and mechanical system advances, possibly more expensive upfront, can reduce a building’s lifetime operating cost significantly.

Operational Efficiency.  Sustainable buildings reduce operating costs, seen through lower energy consumption and reduced water costs.  By lowering operating costs, we increase a property’s net operating income, in which creates a higher valuation and possible sales price.  As appraisers incorporate sustainable buildings into appraisals, better capitalization rates may result, thus providing higher returns.

Sustainable Clip ArtImplementing a smart sustainability program can set a building apart from its competitors by making improvements that save money and attract tenants. Building investors, owners, and developers can benefit the most from sustainable design if they work with designers and builders that take a holistic approach to programming, planning, design, and construction.  

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6 Things Landlords Can Do to Attract Millennials as Tenants

Millennials are one of the biggest renting demographics out there today and don’t appear to be rushing to home ownership anytime soon.  Here are a few tips on how to attract your modern renter:

1.  Entertainment Opportunities

Millennials are looking to socialize, meet others, and follow their own passions when it comes to entertainment, such as concerts, sporting events or hobbies. Most are seeking a balance between work and play, so they are looking for a place to live that allows them easy access to places like coffee houses, night clubs, concert venues, sport arenas and hip restaurants.

2.  Easy Commute

Studies show that millennials will look for somewhere that is close and convenient to where they work.  Work-life balance is important to the newest generation of professionals, who want to maintain a healthy balance between their working and professional lives.

3.  Green Living

For many Millennials, outdoor living spaces are just as vital as indoor  spaces. You can attract younger renters by developing communal, landscaped areas around the building or by offering a community garden with small plots or plant boxes residents can use to grow their own produce.  Millennials seem to be more conscious of protecting the environment than any other section of society. Providing Eco-friendly lifestyles and greener bright attributes could play a role in attracting these types of renters.

4.  Online Everything

This generation relies on Internet based sources, like Craigslist or Facebook for information on rentals.  You will need a strong online presence to attract this crowd. his More than 22% of Millennials have never written a physical check. Offer your young renters the option to make their rental payments online. Not only will this help you attract Millennial renters, but it can streamline your business operation.

5.  Pet Friendly

With more than 3/4 of millennials as pet owners, they will tend to gravitate to more pet-friendly communities.  Millennials find great value in pet amenities like dog parks or washing and grooming stations,

6.  New Amenities

Amenities are a huge appeal factor for renters. Spacious, open common rooms are popular. Many developers have added fitness centers and outdoor areas, including yoga and Pilates studios to appeal to renters.  Millennials will also really be drawn to any high tech upgrades they see in a property.

 If you’re not prepared to attract and retain this modern renter, you’re going to lose out to a competitor that will–it’s that simple!

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Renter Population To Explode by 2030

The renter population is expected to only get bigger in the next 15 years and likely will exceed new home owners by millions, according to a newly released report by the Urban Institute, “Headship and Homeownership: What Does the Future Hold?”

Between 2010 and 2030 – the year millennials are to reach peak home buying age – new renters will exceed new home owners by 4 million, according to the report. The report estimates 13 million renters to 9 million home owners by 2030.

“The rapid growth of the renter population will create significant demand for new rental housing construction and encourage a shift of owner-occupied dwellings to rentals,” according to the report. “In the next 15 years, many more rental households will form because of the size and ethnic composition of the millennial generation. Rental housing vacancy rates are already low, and rents are rising. Single-family homes are shifting to renter occupancy throughout the nation, and this trend is likely to continue.”

Still, the total number of home owners are expected to see growth in the next 15 years due to net household formation, the report notes. In particular, the rate of Hispanics in home ownership is expected to make gains, from 47.3 percent in 2010 to 48.2 percent by 2030.

Household formations are mostly expected to be driven among nonwhite populations from 2010 to 2020 with 77 percent of new households expected to be nonwhite, according to the report. In the following 10 years, that growth is expected to be at 88 percent. Also, household formation growth also is expected to be driven by a growth among senior households, those who are 65 or older.

The renter population is expected to only get bigger in the next 15 years and likely will exceed new home owners by millions, according to a newly released report by the Urban Institute, “Headship and Homeownership: What Does the Future Hold?”

Between 2010 and 2030 – the year millennials are to reach peak home buying age – new renters will exceed new home owners by 4 million, according to the report. The report estimates 13 million renters to 9 million home owners by 2030.

“The rapid growth of the renter population will create significant demand for new rental housing construction and encourage a shift of owner-occupied dwellings to rentals,” according to the report. “In the next 15 years, many more rental households will form because of the size and ethnic composition of the millennial generation. Rental housing vacancy rates are already low, and rents are rising. Single-family homes are shifting to renter occupancy throughout the nation, and this trend is likely to continue.”

Still, the total number of home owners are expected to see growth in the next 15 years due to net household formation, the report notes. In particular, the rate of Hispanics in home ownership is expected to make gains, from 47.3 percent in 2010 to 48.2 percent by 2030.

Household formations are mostly expected to be driven among nonwhite populations from 2010 to 2020 with 77 percent of new households expected to be nonwhite, according to the report. In the following 10 years, that growth is expected to be at 88 percent. Also, household formation growth also is expected to be driven by a growth among senior households, those who are 65 or older.

Whatever type of property you need – residential, retail, office, wholesale or industrial – we at Landmark Group can help you buy, sell, maintain or renovate. We can also help you manage your property. Just give us a call.

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Qualities of a Good Landlord

Every landlord wants to lower the turnover in their properties.  It makes good business sense to strive to have happy, long term tenants in your properties. Creating a good connection with your tenants and marketing yourself as a good landlord has numerous benefits.  Here are some tips you can utilize to be a great landlord:

1.  Communication

Tenants feel more at ease when they know how to get in touch with their landlord, if you establish proper communication they will feel comfortable enough to talk with you about any problems without hesitation.

2.  Documentation

A good landlord asks tenants to sign a proper lease and any extra documents in writing.  If it is not in writing, usually it can’t be enforced.

3.  Maintenance

It is very, very important to keep the property in good repair.  By keeping the property in good condition, you’re going to have better tenants and the building will retain it’s value and appreciates quicker.

4.  Customer Service

A good landlord knows they are a service provider.  Renting is a business arrangement, so a good landlord that keeps their tenants happy, gets repeat or ongoing business and turns a profit.

5.  Reputation

It is vital to establish a good rapport with all of your tenants, make sure all of them are happy with your service.  This way when your applicants asks former or current tenants, you will get to hear all of the positive feedback about you and your property.

6.  Honesty

Be truthful with your tenants, even if you need to point out issues in the rental.  Investigate the issues upfront and decide quickly rather than spoiling your landlord-tenant relationship.

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Questions to ask yourself before singing a lease

Whether you are viewing a house or an apartment, it could potentially be your home for the foreseeable future, so be prepared and make a rational assessment of the property.   Knowing as much as possible about the location and policies up front can prevent future headaches.  Here is a set of questions to discuss when viewing a rental:

1.  Budget  Dollar Sign Clip Art

  • Is a security deposit required?  
  • How often does rent increase?
  • If utilities are not included, how much do they typically cost?
  • Are pets accepted?  Is there a pet deposit?  (Remind yourself to ask if it is a monthly fee or a flat fee.)
  • What happens if you need to move out before your lease is up?

2.  Policies Policies Clip Art

  • What day is rent due?  Does the landlord allow a grace period?
  • If you’re renting a single family house, who is responsible for grounds keeping?
  • On what grounds does your landlord have right of entry?  How many hours written notice are they required to provide?

3.  Amenities  Amenities 2 Clip Art

  • Will you have a parking space?  Is there an annual or monthly parking fee?
  • What appliances are included?
  • Is there a nearby bus line?
  • Is there storage space available?

4.  General Considerations Check Mark Clip Art

  • Make sure all of the windows have screens and locks.
  • Check to make sure all of the doors lock properly.
  • Check the overall condition of the exterior.
  • If landlord agrees to make repairs, get it in writing.
  • Check water pressure.

It is crucial that you read your lease carefully before you sign it. Make sure responsibilities are spelled out so there is a never a question about who is supposed to do what.

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What an Investor should look for when choosing an investment property

Investing in real estate looks like a great idea on paper.  You just buy a place in a nice area, find tenants, and let the cash roll in.  However there are some things to consider before buying a property and putting ad an out on Craig’s list.  Here are a few tips on how to turn a profit as a landlord:

1.  How hard is it to rent?  Be sure to research the area well enough to gauge where the area will be headed in the next five years.

2.  Competition in the area.  It is all about location, location, location.  Is there an apartment complex near the property?  These are the main things to consider when choosing, you don’t want your prospect tenant to walk down the street and see a cheaper 2 bedroom.

3.  Employment Opportunities in the area.  Locations with growing employment tend to attract more people – meaning more tenants.   Avoid markets where unemployment remains markedly high, since a lack of jobs can translate into a lack of renters.

4.  Neighborhood.  Different neighborhoods have different amounts of rent that can be charged, different levels of maintenance, and different turnover rates.  A buyer needs to consider crime rates, school ratings, local economy, age of homes, size of homes, and tax rates.

5.  Attention to detail.  Keep an eye out for maintenance repair needs.  If the property is not kept in good repair, you’ll alienate good tenants.

 

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Home Value: Do what needs doing, and nothing more.

Simple, smart upgrades and fixes won’t cost you a lot of money and they can help you clinch a deal if you are trying to sell.  The best way to improve home value on the cheap is to do what needs doing, and nothing more.  Before thinking of a fancy upgrade, address the basics, know your buyers, choose projects carefully, and know when to quit.  You never get a second chance to make a good first impression.  

1.  Refurbish Cabinets

Give your cabinets a brand new face life with something as simple as paint and new hardware.   Hardware is a easy way to add a quick updated look to your cabinets without having to spend a pretty penny.  You can easily find great looking knobs as low as .50 cents if you do a little hunting.IMAG0189

2.  Curb Appeal

Basic landscaping can help you get the most for your buck.  Choose perennial plants rather annuals, patch any bald spots in the yard with fresh sod and trim existing trees and bushes to complete the yard’s new look.  

3.  Refresh Front Door

Don’t underfront doorestimate the power of a front door.  People make up their minds within the first seven seconds of entering a house.  Invest in a door that speaks to you are as a homeowner but also stay within the architectural detailing.  By incorporating both mindsets, you’re bound to have potential buyers come a knocking.

4.  Let the Light in

A “bright” way to increase the vKitchen 1alue of your home is to lighten up.  Adequate lighting in a home makes a major difference.  Not only does a bright, well-lit room feel more cheerful but it also makes spaces feel larger and cleaner.

 

5.  Paint, Paint, and Paint20150121_134411_resized-1024x576

One of the most cost-effective enhancements of all is paint.  Rooms look clean and updated, and that spells value.  Keep in mind neutrals appeal to the greatest number of prospects.  Soft, muted colors such as pale green or a muted beige can still be neutral while greatly improving the look and feel of each room.

5. flooring Flooring 

Flooring is a forgotten upgrade.  The rule of thumb for flooring is the more resilient and long lasting, the higher the upgrade is, but the higher return is on investment.  Vinyl flooring and carpet is at the bottom of the upgrade spectrum.  Consider wood, tile, or natural stone for flooring options to add value.

Renovating prat of your home is the best route to increasing market value.  Part of the appeal and motivation for home renovations is that a large portion of that money spent will be paid back through increased equity you gain in your home.  However, not all projects improve the value of your house by the same amount.  Know how to add value and carefully select how you spend your money.  

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