DIY Landlord Repairs Are Easier Than You Think

If you are a landlord, then maintaining and repairing property for your tenants is a fact of life. Many landlords prefer to let someone else handle the necessary repairs–either superintendents or service companies. While this option can certainly free up a lot of time for the landlord, it can be quite costly. Consider increasing your profit margins by tackling repair projects on your own: adopt the “do it yourself” mentality. While this might see like an intimidating prospect, it is certainly manageable.  Even if you are not exceptionally handy, you will find that most repairs are easy to handle with the right tools and instruction. This article will point you to some resources that will allow you to take a DIY approach to property repairs.

 

DIY landlord repair

 

Hit The Computer To Do Your Research

 

The computer is a great tool for learning how to handle DIY projects around your property. Sites like Youtube have countless videos on how to handle any type of project, whether it involves plumbing, lighting, appliance repair, or any other type of repair that you can imagine. There are also many home improvement websites that provide thorough and helpful information on DIY repairs. By reading the helpful information on these sites, looking at illustrations, and watching videos, you can become a property repair expert much sooner than you might think.

 

Keeping Track Of What Needs To Be Done

 

One of the most difficult aspects of property repair, especially at a large apartment complex, is keeping track of all your work orders and knowing the status of all of your repairs. One convenient, hi-tech solution is to buy software for landlords that greatly helps you track and organize these items. When a tenant puts in a request for you to fix a broken sink, or repair a refrigerator – for example – you can put this work order in and close it out when the job is finished. If the work orders start to pile up, you can be confident that they are all organized and accounted for. If you do end up having to outsource any work, a good work order program will allow you to instantly create checks and email service providers. It is extremely handy having all work order and vendor information in one place.

 

Use Your Own Determination: Do Not Give Up

 

Yes, you might sometimes feel that you are in over your head with repairs, especially at first. Even after watching all of the right videos and learning the tricks of the trade, you may find that some of the repair projects that you take on are beyond your skillset and expertise. Do not give up though! Like everything else, this is a learning process, and you will not be an expert handyman within a day. You might find yourself having to outsource many projects, but try to handle what projects you can. Experience is the greatest teacher you will find, and eventually you will notice that the repairs are getting easier and easier.

Supplement Your Income With a Rental Property

Consider Investing In A Rental Property To Supplement Your Income In A Huge Way

Rental Property Investment

If you are looking for a surefire way to increase your income, maybe save some extra money for retirement, consider investing in a rental property. The idea might seem a bit overwhelming – perhaps you never envisioned yourself as a landlord – but rental properties are a safe and increasingly popular investment for people from all walks of life. Given the reliability of the real estate market over time, you are bound to see big returns on your investment. If you are considering this investment, but need a little more convincing, read further. This article will list the many benefits of owning a rental property.

You Will See A Return On Your Investment

There is an element of volatility in all markets, but over time, real estate has been proven to have some of the steadiest gains of any market. Ask anyone who has owned a home for a long time what they paid for it thirty or forty years ago, and what it is worth now. Chances are, the value has gone way up. Buying a rental property means that you will likely make huge profits when you finally do decide to sell. It also means that you will likely be able to increase your rents each year. This is especially true in a big city. In some of the hottest rental markets, the price of rent exceeds the value of a mortgage for a comparable unit! By investing in a rental property, you can make a sizable income upfront, and earn huge resale value down the line–the best of both worlds!

You Are Not Committed For the Long Haul

Another great advantage of owning an income property is that you have great flexibility regarding the length of your investment. If, after a few years, you find that being a landlord is not what you had imagined, you can always sell the property—likely for more than you paid for it. This gives you great freedom of choice regarding your investment. If, however, you do feel like holding onto the property for years, you are free to do that as well. The timing is all up to you.

Your Money Is Not Tied Up

With many investments, it can take a long time until you actually recoup your return. Perhaps you have money sitting in some portfolio, that you cannot deduct without a penalty. When you own a rental property – and especially if that property has zero vacancies – you will receive a steady income every single month. If that income is greater than what you pay for mortgage and upkeep, you have profits rolling in on a monthly basis. With the right lease management software, that money can be deposited straight to your bank account! If you would like to increase your profit margin even more, you can choose to live in a unit on your property. Many landlords choose to live on-site. Not only can this save you money—it will allow you to get to know your tenants and become more actively involved with your property.

Help With Property Management Programs

property management programsMany property managers are frustrated with their software, because it is confusing and difficult to use. Others find it difficult to get assistance with their property management programs.

Some property managers are reluctant to utilize property management programs and software for a variety of these reasons. The two primary reasons a property manager might be reluctant to use such software are cost and a lack of familiarity with technology. The latter resistance will be the focus of this posting. If you are a property manager who is reluctant to use property management software because you’ve never used such a program before, that’s understandable. Perhaps you’re using an older program and don’t want to go through the hassle of learning a new one. You might be not only comfortable with the way you do things now but successful as well. Whatever your aversion to the latest property management programs, it can be beneficial to understand that as the programs have advanced, so has the ease of their use. Here are some of the ways these programs are developed and sold to be as easy to use as possible.

Simple Interface

It is true that the latest property management programs have a more diverse set of capabilities than ever before. This seems intimidating; however, the user interface of the most modern software is easier to navigate than ever before. Generally, the newer the software the easier it is to use. Your old software is probably more difficult to use and less capable than newer versions. Thus, the investment of time required to learn the new programs might be smaller than you think, while the return on investment might be higher than you think.

How-To Guides

As the rise of the internet has made more information available than it ever has been before, the ability to effectively communicate this information has also developed. Businesses who sell property management software include how-to guides with their products that make them easy to learn and use.

Customer Support

A good property management software company will go a step farther than a how-to guide by providing live customer support for those who purchase their products. If you find it difficult to learn things by reading manuals, having an expert walk you through your issue can be an effective alternative.

How The Internet Has Affected Property Management

property management chartWhile the real estate market is traditionally slow to change, it is now embracing the Internet. Here are some thoughts on how the Internet has affected property management.

Nearly every profession has been affected by the rapid pace of technological innovation. Technology has created entirely new fields, eliminated some fields and dramatically altered others. One profession that you might expect to be relatively insulated from the intrusion of technology is property management. After all, property management will always involve the management of a physical property. While it is true that property management will always involve dealing with people and the places they live, and while that implies the use of a skill-set that is to some degree independent of technology, the field of property management has certainly been affected by technology and the internet. Here are some of the ways the field of property rental management has changed over the years.

Property Leads

For those looking to break into the field of real estate or property management by acquiring an initial property or by expanding their current portfolio, the process of locating a property has been made more efficient by the internet. While many property managers will tell you that there is no replacement for scouting out properties in person, there is no doubt that the internet is now utilized by many to find properties. Online search engines allow property managers to search for properties and filter their search by variables related to size, price and location.

Property Management Software

The process of managing property has also been affected by technology; specifically, many property managers now use property management software to assist them with the many tasks involved in managing their tenants and properties. The software allows things like calculating payments, collecting payments and paying bills to be done automatically. Previously, these tasks would have taken up a considerable amount of time for a property manager. The software frees them up to focus on other areas of their business.

 

Tenant Management Software Issues

tenant management software issuesMany property managers invest in tenant management software. If you already use such software then you are well aware of the benefits in efficiency that it can provide. If you have made the decision to investigate purchasing using the software for the first time, it can be helpful to understand some of the issues other property managers have had with the software. This might seem counter intuitive; however, researching the issues others have had will make it possible to make an informed purchasing decision that mitigates or eliminates these possible issues. Here is a look at some of the more common complaints.

Number Of Units

Certain tenant and property management software limits the number of tenants and properties that it holds. This can be an issue for property managers who work with hundreds of tenants at a time. One solution is to buy more software; however, some software companies offer upgraded versions of their software designed for property managers who manage large numbers of units and tenants. This is something to investigate before buying.

Affordability

As with any product, the cost of software is going to be an issue for some people. Property managers interested in purchasing software should keep in mind that there are many affordable property management software options that perform essentially the same functions as higher priced software.

Connectivity

Some tenant management software  is offered as a basic version with the option of purchasing additional features that enhance the capability of the basic software. To avoid confusion about what you are buying, it can be a good idea to talk directly with the company selling the software to ensure that the software you’re purchasing will be able to perform the functions you need it to. Many property managers need their software to be able to connect with other apps, documents and software like bank accounts and IRS documents. All of this is more than possible, just talk through your specific situation with a software provider ahead of time.

Property Management Software Developments

Property Management Software Developments As computers, tablets, and phones change rapidly, there are also a lot of property management software developments

Not only does modern technology produce more innovations at a more rapid pace than ever before, it also produces improvements to these innovations at an even more rapid pace. For example, it was only within the last decade that smart phones became a crucial part of our lives. While it may be awhile before something replaces the smart phone as it basically exists today, there is a new incarnation of the smart phone every few years. This rapid development also occurs in the software sector, and property management software is no exception. While property managers, landlords and tenants have only used property management software on a widespread basis for a decade or so, software developments occur frequently. What are the specific areas of this software that are being upgraded? Here is a look at a few areas of focus for property management software innovators.

Easier To Use

Of course, any technological innovator is going to strive to make their technology easier to use. Property management software developers have succeeded in making their software easier to use for both tenants and landlords. The most recent property management software is more user-friendly than ever before. For example, it allows rent payments to be scheduled transferred automatically from bank account to bank account. This is an obvious improvement over the old-fashioned method of hand-writing and mailing checks, but also an improvement over previous incarnations of software that required a tenant to enter credit card information each time they needed to make a payment.

More Options

Another way tech innovators seek to improve their products is by adding new features and options. This is also true of property management software developers. In recent years, for example, software has developed to the point where managers can run automatic tenant screenings via partnerships with credit reporting companies. Because these software companies and developers are working directly with experienced property managers, they are continually finding new ways to make their businesses more efficient.

Benefits Of Property Management Software

Benefits of using property management softwareThere are still a lot of people using spreadsheets to manage their property. Let’s take a quick look at the benefits of property management software to your bottom line.

The benefits of using the internet to find an apartment are obvious. It is much more efficient to use various kinds of social media sites and rental apps to find the perfect rental unit for your situation. The internet makes things easier not just for the renter, but for the landlord as well. After all, for every tenant finding it difficult to locate the perfect place there is probably a landlord finding it difficult to locate the perfect tenant. The internet has made it much easier for both parties to find the perfect match. Once the process of finding an apartment is over, there is still work to be done to maintain a quality rental situation. There is the process of paying rent and resolving any issues that arise related to payments, repairs and other common rental situations. This process, the relationship between a tenant and landlord after the rental agreement has been signed, has also been improved by the internet. Tenant software and property management software compatible with the internet have made things much easier for tenants and landlords to work together in a number of ways. Here is a look at a few benefits of property management software.

Paying Rent

Tenant software allows property managers and landlords to collect rent from tenants automatically. This is obviously a benefit for them, but many tenants find it much less stressful as well. Instead of writing a check and sending it to their landlord each pay period—a process many younger people renting for the first time have never even done before—new software allows these tenants to have their rent payments transferred automatically from their bank accounts to their property managers.

Work Orders

Because the software is compatible with the internet, it allows data to be quickly tracked, stored, sent to and utilized by property managers. This is beneficial for tenants in a number of ways, including an easier work order process. Tenants are now able to fill out and send electronic work orders, which can be automatically sorted and prioritized. Electronic work orders mean tenants have their maintenance issues resolved quickly.

How The Internet Has Affected Renting Apartments

Renting Apartments with Tenant File

Renting Apartments in the Internet Era

The internet has affected nearly all of us in both our personal and professional lives. Some of these areas get more attention than others. Everyone acknowledges, for example, that the internet has dramatically affected the way we shop, the way we bank and the way we communicate. Another area of our life that has certainly been altered by the internet, though perhaps it receives less attention than the other areas previously mentioned, is when it comes time to rent an apartment. The internet has changed the process of renting an apartment both personally for those who rent and professionally for landlords and property managers. Here is a quick look at the brave new world of apartment hunting.

Tenants

More than ever, tenants are using rental apps to hunt for and procure the perfect apartment. A process that used to take many weeks of circling ads in newspapers and calling properties and landlords to check availability is now whittled down to a quick search on a rental app. These rental apps allow apartment hunters to filter by price range, location and many other factors, making the entire process more efficient.

Landlords

Landlords have also been the beneficiaries of technology’s incursion into the apartment rental process. Many tech-savvy landlords are taking advantage of apartment management software to manage their properties and tenants. This software allows landlords and property managers to both store data and then communicate the data via email to current and prospective tenants. This property management software has never been easier to use. Among the features that are common to these software packages are full email systems, work order systems, tenant files, monthly checklists, built in backup features, point and click reports and word processing options. This software also allows landlords and tenants to send money from bank account to bank account, making the payment process easier for both parties.

Massive Cyber Attack – Are Property Management Companies at Risk?

Property Management Company Post Cyber AttackI told you so. I’ve been warning about this for a good while now, and this is only the beginning.  In particular, if you are using web-based property management software, you should think about what you are doing. You are putting your own security, your tenants, and your property owners at risk, and probably paying a hefty monthly sum to do it.

I’m talking about the huge cyber attack that came in three waves on Friday.  If you were not directly affected, it was probably (1) because the hackers didn’t bother with smaller websites or (2) because it wasn’t your turn yet.  Here are some of the ones it did affect:

Airbnb
Etsy
Spotify
Twitter
The New York Times
The Financial Times
CNBC.com
Amazon
Netflix
Github

Ladies and gentlemen, these sites are no pushover sites for hackers (or are they?). Supposedly these sites are some of the best secured sites in the world, and hackers managed to get to them all at once. If these sites are vulnerable, how secure do you think your property management software website is? Most of them weren’t even around 5 years ago, and I would venture that none of them have anywhere ‘close’ to the level of cyber security protection of the sites that got invaded.

In a recent NBCNews.com post I saw the comment for consumers to “think carefully about what and when they connect devices to a cloud or even to the internet in general.” In a previous blog, I speculated on a scenario specifically for property managers called “A Day in the Life of a Property Manager Post Cyber Attack”. It is almost scary how real that seems now.

My experience is in property management and I admit it is in my financial interest for people to purchase desktop software. But the reason we have continued to offer on-premise rental property software is because there is a large market of landlords and managers that don’t want to risk their business and their client base. Plus, the monthly fees for web-based software companies are never ending, and will wind up costing a fortune in the long run.

This year, on the Buildium blog (a web-based competitor) it was stated, “Is your company at risk? Basically: yes. Every landlord, property manager, or real estate professional has access to (and stores) sensitive, confidential, personally-identifiable information on tenants and employees.”

And who is vulnerable? Basically everyone, but consider this information from the same blog “Businesses with fewer than 250 employees account for somewhere between 20-30% of all cyber attacks.”

And how easy it to recover from an attack? Read on,60 percent of small businesses close their doors within months of a successful cyber attack.”

I LOVE technology so don’t get me wrong! We always are looking for new ways to innovate and provide our customers with the best experience possible. But that can be done without storing your valuable data on a remote server that can be attacked at any time. And when that happens, you might suddenly find yourself in an office with no access to your tenants, your owners, your vendors, your accounting, and your customers. And I ask, is that worth the risk?

Is Free Tech Support a Thing of the Past?

Tenant File Tech SupportWe hear from our customers how they have been disappointed in many of the web-based products and the lack of support they provide. Many of them migrate back to the Tenant File after trying something else. Call it old fashioned, but we still favor the safety and security of a desktop based program, and the convenience of good customer technical support.

At Tenant File, we hope that free tech support is not a thing of the past. We have been one of the few software companies that have managed to keep it free. Our industry leading web support has always been free for all customers, even if you did not purchase the previous update. We have a dedicated team of knowledgeable support technicians which monitor incoming ‘tickets’ (web requests) throughout each work day. Each technician has a massive computerized knowledge base to draw from, and each ticket is answered personally. We answer all tickets by the end of the day with few exceptions. (Sometimes we get calls that a ticket wasn’t responded to, and nearly always it can be found in the customer’s junk or spam box, so be sure to mark ‘support@tenantfile.com’ as a ‘safe sender’).

But the Tenant File support goes way beyond that … our first-time customers get a full two months of phone support, and even current customers enjoy a month of phone support in case they have any questions about the update. Phone support is limited to ½ a day (hours 10:00am to 2:00pm CST) and limited to 10 minutes per call, since we are supporting over 5,000 customers and sometimes it gets really busy. We don’t ‘sub’ out our support to foreign countries, so you’ll always get a knowledgeable Tenant File expert. And if the lines happen to be busy when you call during phone support hours, just leave a message and we will call you back as soon as a support person gets available.

Even after the free phone support period has expired, Tenant File still offers paid support in 15 or 30 minute segments. The pricing is very reasonable, and the 30 minute segment can include the ability for the Tenant File technician to connect remotely to the user’s computer to see or actually operate the program. This paid service can also be used if the customer wants us to install the program, move the Tenant File program to another computer, or even close out the year for them. This will save quite a bit over hiring an outside computer technician to come and do the work in person.

Tenant File Phone Support

In addition to the web and phone support, Tenant File includes a full User’s Guide in the ‘Help’ menu of each Tenant File installation, as well as a ‘Quick Start’ guide. The User’s Guide is comprehensive and searchable, so just about any question can be answered with a quick search (user Ctrl-F).  The guide includes screen shots, illustrations, samples, and step-by-step instructions on most tasks.

Also, at the Tenant File website, you can find helpful videos that take you through the entire program. We are busy adding new ones, and take recommendations from our customers. You can also find videos on YouTube if you search for ‘Tenant File’.

Our customers are very important to us, and we try very hard to impress with our service. Tenant File is one of the few property management software programs that charge a one-time fee for the software, eliminating the never-ending monthly payments that can hook the customer into an ever increasing financial nightmare. Then, when the Internet is down and you are left at a standstill, you have no recourse (other than moving to the Tenant File!).

To our current Tenant File customers, thank you and please know that we are always trying to help you become successful and run your business the most efficient way possible. We really appreciate your business!

The Tenant File Support Staff

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