Archive for August, 2016


6 Key Factors Successful Vacation Rental Owners Always Use

Friday, August 5th, 2016

 

A rental house on the beach in Rodanthe, North...

 

If you are going to spend money advertising your vacation rental property on vacation rental websites, you want to make sure it is a success. Here are 6 things you can practice which will help ensure you receive the most “bang for the buck”.

 

 

 

1. SET RENTAL RATES APPROPRIATELY – If you want your vacation property to rent, you must be realistic, optomistic, but not greedy! Set realistic rental rates for your property and ensure that the rates are correct on the site(s) your listing and regularly reviewed as the market changes. Search for comparable properties (“comps”) in the same location as yours. Only charge a premium if your property has some distinct features. And, be willing to discount your property on occassion as needed. In this business, if you lose money for a week long rental, you can’t make that up!

 

 

 

2. CHECK E-MAIL REGULARLY – When using an internet vacation rental property website such as http://Rentals2Remember.com or http://eVaca.com, remember your users. They are typically Internet “savvy” and probably check their e-mails frequently…especially if they have requested some info. Also, be sure your phone number is listed on sites that allow you to as sometimes people choose to just call you directly, so be sure to check phone messages.

 

 

 

3. RESPOND IMMEDIATELY – Vacation goers usually see a few properties that are of interest to them and then contact those owners. The faster you respond, the better chance (most of the time) you have of winning them over. There have been times I have rented properties in the past and because it took an owner 24 hours to respond, I had already chosen another property. A timely and efficient response gives the renter confidence that the rental experience will follow suit.

 

 

 

4. YOUR LISTING SHOULD BE ACCURATE AND COMPLETE – Be sure that your listing details are kept up to date and are complete. Review your online listing frequently to be sure that your contact information are up-to-date. Also, be sure that it is accurate on the description of your property and its amenities. This will help you with repeat customers, but will also keep you out of trouble with rental contracts or laws in regards to such things.

 

 

 

5. GREAT PHOTOS – It is true what they say, “a picture speaks a thousand words”. Remember, renters are considering staying at your rental based (most of the time) solely on your pictures and your word. The more pictures to help them be comfortable with the decision, the better. Here is how I look at it. If you were going to buy a used car, would you do so over the Internet without a good look at the outside/inside of the vehicle, the engine, etc. Not exactly the same, but you get the picture. The more pictures and the prettier, the better. Be sure to have pictures of your rental amenities such as a pool, the beach, a mountain view, the lake or a golf course – these are top vacation rental sellers!

 

 

 

6. BOOST YOUR EXPOSURE – There are many “hot spots” for vacationers throughout the world. Before we owned property, my family used to head to Destin every year, usually twice. There are thousands of vacation rental properties in the Destin, Panama City Beach area. In areas like this, boost your exposure by getting to the top of your sites search engine. If it costs you $20, $50, even $100 to do so but that gets you one extra rental a year, that makes it more than worth it.

 

 

 

 

 

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10 Steps to Getting Top Dollar for Your Home

Thursday, August 4th, 2016
Living room

Living room (Photo credits: PB Teen)

When you decide to sell your home you should immediately begin referring to it as a house. You’ve become emotionally attached to this place and it’s now time to say goodbye. Start detaching yourself by making some changes that will help you with the sale of the house.

You probably have accumulated a lot of clutter over the years. This must be the first step.

1. Unclutter your home. Start in the basement and either throw things out or rent a locker off premises to store it until you move but prospective buyers need to see what the house looks like behind all your stuff. This means going room to room and clearing everything out that makes it look junkie and disorganized.

2. Neutralize the personal nature of your home. You may love the native tapestry on the living room wall from Bora Bora but I’ll guarantee 95% of your prospects will have it on their mind when they leave your home and not in a good way. Knick knacks and generally all things that you’ve previously enjoyed should be stored away until after the sale, that includes grandma’s spoon collection that takes up half a wall in the kitchen. Replace these things with neutral items like picture frames or vase with a simple arrangement.

3. Minor cosmetic work. Once you remove the clutter you will see all the things that you’ve been meaning to get to over the years. Painting where necessary, new carpet/s, moldings repaired, cracked plaster and re-taping/ repairing drywall. When making these improvements think neutral colors for any coverings be it paint or carpets. If you have hardwood floors sand them and finish them. Area rugs can look amazing. Whatever you do, don’t over do it. Try and think like a buyer.

4. Hire a professional cleaner. Once you have the house cleared you should hire a professional cleaning crew to wash the walls, windows, work over the kitchen and bathrooms, clean the floors and shampoo all carpets that don’t need to be replaced. Your house should be spotless and kept this way for the duration.

5. Staging each room. If your rooms are smaller rearrange the furniture to make the room look bigger. For example removing some furniture is better than having too much cramped in. Set your furniture up in conversation pit style. Like a gourmet coffee house, make it cozy. Pull couches away from walls to give the appearance of depth. Remove wall clutter, one or two pictures but no more. Generally make it look inviting.

6. Kitchen and bathrooms. These are the most important rooms in your home to a buyer. Make sure they are impeccable. Plumbing fixtures should be working properly and look like new or they should be replaced. Use a good cleaner or even a metal polish to make them gleam. Showers and tubs need to be spotless! Sinks and vanities need to be pristine and uncluttered. Kitchen cupboards should be orderly, doors opening and closing properly, drawers the same. I can’t stress enough how important these two rooms are to your potential outcome.

7. Doors and windows. First thing prospects see when they walk in your home is a door. Make sure its painted or cleaned up and that it will open and close properly. This goes for screen doors as well. Often screen doors are a problem people let go. Not anymore. Windows should all be cleaned and be sure if someone wants to open them that they work properly. If they have been painted closed as is the case with some older homes, now is the time to get them to open. Do whatever it takes.

8. Garages and workshops. These are the second most important areas. Again remove all clutter from the garage and make it accessible so you can actually park your car in it! As for the workshop, try and organize it so the handy person prospect will appreciate what they can do with their “new shop” when they move in. It’s all about your prospect picturing themselves in your house.

9. Family effort. Everyone in your family needs to be on board with the presentation of the house. This means your kids need to buy into the project and keep their rooms tidy. Bribe them if you need to but everyone has to help maintain the appearance of the entire house.

10. Odors and pets. Wow, is this ever important. If you have pets only you really love them. When you walk into a house with dogs or cats you immediately smell them, especially if you don’t have your own. Keep litter boxes fresh and clean daily. Restrict your animals if at all possible to certain areas of the home until after the sale. Vinegar and water will do wonders when you clean their areas every other day until the sale is complete, and top it off with effective air fresheners wherever you need them. Vacuum often with carpet fresh powders two or 3 times a week.

This sounds like quite a bit of work and it is. Try and remember that by following these tips you could easily add five to ten thousand dollars to the sale price of your home, maybe more. A little elbow grease now will be a solid investment.

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Final Walk-Through – The Value of Your Contract

Thursday, August 4th, 2016

A walk-through is an important step in a real estate transaction. To get the most out of it, make sure you understand the terms of the purchase contract.

Check Things the Contract Specifies

When you signed the contact to purchase your new home, certain elements and characteristics were specified. If the home does not match those elements on the walk-through, the contract will give you leveraging position. Consider the following:

If there’s a hole in the wallboard caused by the leg of a table going through it when the seller was moving out, the house is not in substantially the same condition as when you wrote the contract and the wallboard was intact.

If you fill up that lovely, large Jacuzzi tub and the jets won’t work, there is a problem with the working systems of the home. If you start the dishwasher, and it leaks before the cycle is finished, that appliance is not in normal working order. If all the surface burners on the stove won’t light (if gas) or heat to red hot (if electric), ditto. If the heat or air conditioning won’t come on, we have another problem with the working systems.

Allow yourself enough time to really pay attention and check on things. Usually an hour to an hour and a half is enough. Don’t have a chip on your shoulder. Do be a good business person and systematically check.

If your contract calls for something you can’t easily judge and it requires a third party to do it (such as the HVAC service mentioned above), you can request a copy of a paid bill at settlement. This is usually sufficient indication that the work has been done, and you know whom to call if there is a problem.

What If You Find a Problem?

Settlement may, or may not, be delayed if a problem is discovered. If it’s small and something you can easily fix, you may just want to ignore it. If it is something expensive and extensive, you probably don’t want to ignore it. Many approaches are possible, but my inclination would be to go to the settlement table anyway and request that enough money be set aside in an escrow account held by a third party (not the buyer or the seller) to fix the problem. I’d pad the amount a little to be sure there’s enough. Those funds could then be used to complete the needed work and then the balance released to the seller.

If the seller is not willing to accept the idea of funds in escrow, I’d request a delay of settlement until the work has been completed. The terms of such a delay need to be spelled out in an addendum to your contract.

Setting out to use walk-through to change the terms of a contract is not fair. However, if a walk-through shows that the terms of your contract have not been met, you need to figure out how to get things back on track and are behaving appropriately when you do so.

Most walk-throughs go smoothly. Let’s hope yours is one of the smooth ones.

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About Rental Insurance

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2016

 

Many renters don’t stop to think about what happens if there is a fire, someone breaks in and steals their new TV or stereo, or a visitor slips and falls on their property. The sad truth is; you will be responsible! While your landlord has
insurance that covers the actual building, that coverage does not include your personal property or liability for injuries which occur in the space you rent ~ be it an apartment or a house and yard.

If a fire should destroy or damage your home, your landlord’s insurance will cover the structure. It won’t cover damage or loss of your belongings. Neither will it provide for the cost of temporary housing for you and your family.

You may think you don’t own enough personal property to make the cost of insurance worthwhile. You’re probably wrong! If you sit down and add up the cost of everything you own, you may be in for a big surprise. Consider what you have invested in such things as:

• Furniture and accessories
• Electronics like TV, stereo, computers
• Small appliances like microwaves, toaster ovens, etc.
• Clothing
• Art work like paintings or prints
• Dishes, silverware and cookware
• Sporting equipment
• Books
• Jewelry

Could you afford to replace all of these things?

Even worse, what would you do if a friend is injured on your property and decides to sue you for medical costs and more? It’s a scary thought, isn’t it?

Are you beginning to see why rental insurance may be a very wise investment?

The cost of rental insurance is based on several factors:

• The dollar amount of your coverage

• Deductibles

• Whether you choose to be reimbursed for Actual Cash Value or Replacement Costs (more about that in a minute)

• Where your rental property is located and the number of previous claims made, not only by you, but by others living in the same area.

Let me explain the difference between Actual Cash Value (ACV) and Replacement Costs. ACV is the value of your property at the time a loss takes place. For example, if your television set is five years old, it’s valued at much less than if it were brand new. The lesser amount is what you are reimbursed.

However, if you opt for Replacement Cost, you’re paid whatever it costs to go out and buy a new TV with similar features. Insuring for replacement cost raises the amount of your premium so it’s a good idea to get quotes for both ACV and Replacement Cost policies. Then you can decide which option fits your needs and budget.

Another thing to keep in mind is that jewelry, valuable collections, and guns are usually covered under a separate policy or “rider”. If you own these kinds of items, be sure to tell your insurance agent. You don’t want to find out after disaster strikes that they aren’t covered or that they aren’t covered for their true value.
One way you can reduce the cost of your rental insurance is to check with whichever company insures your car. If they provide rental insurance you may be eligible for a multi-line discount.

Rental insurance may be worth the investment just for the peace of mind it offers you.

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Evaluating the Offer for Your Home

Monday, August 1st, 2016

People work tirelessly to generate interest in a home they are trying to sell. Once they get an offer, however, they often are not sure how to evaluate it.

Evaluating the Offer for Your Home

You have read every book under the sun. You have read more internet articles than you can imagine. You have cleaned up your home, made repairs and put out your marketing. At this point, you feel like you are an expert in the process. Suddenly, you get an offer on the property. Now what?

The first thing to do is relax. Do not make the mistake of rushing to evaluate it. An offer is just that – an offer. It has contingencies and all kinds of little quarks in it. Although you have lived in the home for a lengthy period of time, you need to realize you are now in a business transaction. Once you have caught your breath, it is time to consider the offer.

The first issue is always the offered purchase price. The price will never be what you are asking for in the listing. It will be below the number, perhaps shockingly lower. At this point, you may feel the urge to pick up the phone and give the buyer a piece of your mind. Don’t! This is a business transaction. The buyer is merely throwing out a bit of bait to see if you are going to bite. If you do, they get a great deal. If you do not, they will evaluate any counter offer you make. If you do not counter, they can always submit a higher offer. Remember, this is a business transaction, not an affront to your pride!

A second issue concerns items in the home the buyer may want included in the sell. I have seen brawls break out over a lamp that would make a biker blush. Maybe that lamp is an heirloom that you can’t part with, but it probably is not. Only you can decide how valuable it is and whether it is worth losing the sale, but try to be objective and coherent when making the decision. Yes, it has been a loyal lamp, but really now…

After this, you need to evaluate any additional costs associated with the offer. The buyer may want allowances for painting and so on. It is usually fairly easy to bypass your emotions on this one, but you need to make some basic financial calculations. Take the offered price and subtract all costs for the transactions. One you have the net revenue figure, compare it to the bottom line number you decided on when you first decided to sell. This will tell you if it is an offer you should accept.

Homeowners often get so focused on the selling process, that they are caught off guard when an offer actually rolls in. Stick to your guns on your bottom line and you should be fine.

 

Find out what your home is worth now!!

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Examining the Power of Curb Appeal

Monday, August 1st, 2016

 

With so many potential buyers viewing property on the Internet, first impressions are essential. If your house doesn’t stand out the next listing is only a click away. A great exterior will not only stop a surfer, it will get a drive-by buyer through your front door. Don’t underestimate the power of curb appeal! The front of your house is its calling card, and it’s up to you to make sure it’s giving the right number.

 

First take care of the obvious: Poor exterior maintenance will have potential buyers wondering what else you didn’t keep up. Clean moss off the roof and plants out of gutters; wash the windows and pressure wash dirty decks or siding. Clear weeds growing from the front walk. Take care of the details. If your driveway has faded, it’s time to re-seal it. Fill the cracks in your sidewalk. Trim back unruly bushes, mow the lawn and add mulch to tidy up garden beds. Put away tools and other yard clutter – the property should look well taken care of.

 

Spruce up your front entrance. You may want to change your front door for something more eye-catching, perhaps engraved wood or one with decorative glasswork. Changing the door’s hardware can also help it stand out. The doorknob and knocker should be polished. Placing planters near the front door can add a pleasing visual as well as contributing fragrance to further the sensory experience. A front doormat can also be welcoming touch.

 

Changes that cost more can also increase the selling price. If you can afford to paint the house, look for examples of eye-catching color combinations in design magazines, online and in your city. If you can’t afford to paint the whole building, just do the trim and shutters. Adding window boxes can also brighten the exterior.

 

Landscaping is another opportunity to increase the value of your property. You could hire a professional, but just adding a few shrubs and flowering bushes should do the trick. A well placed bench can help potential buyers imagine themselves sitting in their new garden.

 

You can ensure potential buyers notice your home just by giving the exterior a little extra attention. Remember, your traffic and often your selling price will increase with your home’s curb appeal.

 

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